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May 3, 2005 6:02 pm

Fisk You! ...

Harvard's Orlando Patterson and Jason Kaufman,"Bowling for Democracy," NY Times, 1 May, argue that cricket became a national pastime in class-conscious societies, but it died away where class lines were permeable. In conclusion, they suggest that democracy, like cricket, could be imposed from the"top down." They need to read Sepoy at Chapati Mystery. Cricket wasn't imposed from the"top down," he argues, and democracy won't be imposed from the top down, either. It's all a matter of agency. Update: Evan Roberts at coffee grounds isn't buying it, either.

Rutger's David Greenberg,"The Republicans' Filibuster Lie," LA Times, 3 May, focuses on the filibuster in the Senate against Lyndon Johnson's nomination of Justice Abe Fortas to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Pejman Yousefzedeh says that opposition to Fortas was not simply ideological.

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Greg James Robinson - 5/8/2005

In any case, I suspect C.L.R. James, radical and Cricket enthusiast, would have something to say about the enduring popularity of Cricket in West Indian societies.
But then, when I lived in New York I used to watch out the window as kids living in the Bangladeshi enclave of my Brooklyn neighborhood set up makeshift wickets on the sidewalk and bowled, in a game I privately thought of (by analogy with stickball) as "crickball." These kids did not seem terribly class-conscious or upwardly mobile to me.

Rob MacDougall - 5/4/2005

My own instinct is to ask, “who profits?” Since the point of divergence between North America and the other former colonies seems to be the rise of baseball in the late 19th century, I’ve got to think the real story here is about that all-American pastime, marketing. As Kaufman and Patterson do point out, showmen and entrepreneurs like Spalding promoted the hell out of baseball in the late nineteenth century. I believe it’s fairly well documented that Spalding cooked up the myth of Cooperstown and Abner Doubleday in order to obscure the English origins of “America’s” game. There’s your top-down social phenomena for you: baseball, not cricket. Or middle down, at least. Maybe North American cricketeers sealed the fate of their game not by keeping the common man from playing, but by failing to cut Spalding and his buddies in on a share of the gate.

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