Workers Vanguard No. 1159

23 August 2019


Clarification on PEDs, Sports and Socialism

In the article “Let Caster Semenya Run Her Race!” (WV No. 1156, 31 May), we wrote: “A rational socialist society would seek to improve human athletic performance, including through performance-enhancing drugs, which can help athletes train harder and recover faster, while also conducting scientific studies of the potential medical dangers.” This sentence is misleading. It suggests that sports under socialism will be fundamentally the same as today, only bigger, faster and better, including by wrongly presenting athletic activity as the domain of specialists, that is, athletes. Similarly, the use of performance-enhancing drugs would not be limited to a selected group, but rather PEDs would be put at the disposal of the population as a whole, so that everyone could safely enjoy the benefits of this scientific progress.

A socialist future can be realized only through a series of proletarian revolutions all across the globe. Unfettering production from the profit motive and establishing an international planned economy will usher in a society of material abundance without classes, social inequality or coercive institutions like the state. The progressive achievements of civilization will be fully harnessed, made accessible to all and vastly expanded. People will be truly free to do what they want in every sphere of human endeavor, whether cultural, artistic, scientific or any other.

We are in no position to project what sports will be like under socialism. However, Leon Trotsky, who along with V.I. Lenin was a co-leader of the 1917 October Revolution in Russia, offered some general considerations in his classic work Literature and Revolution (1924):

“The powerful force of competition which, in bourgeois society, has the character of market competition, will not disappear in a socialist society but, to use the language of psychoanalysis, will be sublimated, that is, will assume a higher and more fertile form. There will be the struggle for one’s opinion, for one’s project, for one’s taste....

“All forms of life, such as the cultivation of land, the planning of human habitations, the building of theaters, the methods of socially educating children, the solution of scientific problems, the creation of new styles, will vitally engross all and everybody. People will divide into ‘parties’ over the question of a new gigantic canal, or the distribution of oasis in the Sahara (such a question will exist too), over the regulation of the weather and the climate, over a new theater, over chemical hypotheses, over two competing tendencies in music, and over a best system of sports. Such parties will not be poisoned by the greed of class or caste. All will be equally interested in the success of the whole. The struggle will have a purely ideologic character. It will have no running after profits, it will have nothing mean, no betrayals, no bribery, none of the things that form the soul of ‘competition’ in a society divided into classes.”