Ljubodrag Simonović: Humanism – naturalism
“HUMANISM – NATURALISM”
Marx’s idea of “humanism-naturalism” from the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts indicates the possibility of overcoming the antagonism between nature and man through their mutual cooperation resulting in a simultaneous fulfillment of both man’s and nature’s emancipatory potential. Marx: “Communism as the positive transcendence of private property as human self-estrangement and, therefore, as man’s complete atonement as a social (i.e., human) being – a reunion accomplished consciously and embracing the entire wealth of previous development. Thus communism, as fully developed naturalism, is humanism, and as fully developed humanism, is naturalism; it is the genuine resolution of the antagonism between man and nature and between man and man – the true resolution of the tension between existence and essence, between objectification and self-affirmation, between freedom and necessity, between the individual and the species. Communism is the riddle of History solved, and it knows itself to be this resolution.”
The idea of “humanism-naturalism”, as a concrete historical concept and not as an ideal that can only be dreamed of, indicates that Marx does not consider a future relative to capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order. Marx’s “humanism-naturalism” does not have a concrete historical dimension, but rather is based on the abstract determination of the essence of nature and man. “Humanism-naturalism” is projected into a future space where man and nature appear on a mythological level and correspond to their idealized concepts. For Marx, man’s liberation from his enslavement to nature and the possibility of nature’s humanization represent the resolution of their antagonistic relation. It is, however, based on the capitalist mode of development of the productive forces, a process that does not promote man’s liberation from nature, but rather makes him more dependent on it. According to Marx, the domination of nature and its exploitation, through technology, is the domination and exploitation of man. Indeed, capitalist technology consists of natural forces turned by capitalism into an anti-natural power. Capitalism “masters” nature by destroying it and thus creates man’s increasingly dangerous enemy. Only relative to the destructive tendencies of capitalist development can Marx’s idea of “humanism-naturalism” take on a concrete historical, critical and visionary meaning.
On man’s relation to nature, Marx writes in Capital: “By acting on the external world and changing it, man at the same time changes his own nature.“ It follows that man’s relation to nature conditions man’s nature. Marx based his thesis on the view that, by transforming nature into useful objects, man conquers natural forces and, thus, develops his own creative powers. The transformation of nature has a libertarian and existential character. Following the same principle, if man transforms nature by destroying it, he simultaneously destroys himself as a natural and human being and becomes a destructive mechanism. Because of capitalistically degenerated labor, man does not develop his universal creative powers but, instead, is crippled as a natural, creative and social being and reduced to being a mechanical part of working processes – to being a destructive specialty-idiot. At the same time, capitalism, through the “consumer” way of life, has turned even non-work time into time for capitalist reproduction, that is, into time for the (self)destruction of man and nature. In capitalism, however, the relation to nature only appears to be mediated by human practice. Since man is instrumentalized, from his earliest youth, by a capitalistically conditioned way of life, human practice is but one of the manifestations of capitalism’s relation to nature and essentially corresponds to capitalism’s destructive character. At the same time, this destructive relation to nature conditions man’s relation to both society and the future, as well as man’s relation to himself as a natural and human being. Only if man, as an emancipated natural being, has a humanizing relation to nature, can he have a humanizing relation to his own body as his immediate nature and to himself as a human being.
As for the glorification of nature, in One-Dimensional Man, Marcuse comes to the following conclusion: “All joy and all happiness derive from the ability to transcend Nature – a transcendence in which the mastery of Nature is itself subordinated to the liberation and pacification of existence. (…) Glorification of the natural is part of the ideology that protects an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation. (…) Civilization produces the means for freeing Nature from its own brutality, its own insufficiency, its own blindness, by virtue of the cognitive and transforming power of Reason. And Reason can fulfill this function only as post-technological rationality, in which technics is itself the instrumentality of pacification, organon of the ‘art of life’. The function of Reason then converges with the function of Art.“ “The brutality” of nature has an existential and life-generating character, unlike capitalist brutality, which has a destructive character and conditions man’s anthropological image: instead of being a “beast”, man has become a “(self)destructive” being. In capitalism, “nature ceases to be merely nature” by being deprived of its life-creating quality and reduced to the object of exploitation and destruction. In sport, which is a mirror of the true image of capitalism, nature does not free itself from its insufficiencies and brutality, but rather becomes the object of exploitation and destruction. In sport, the body, as man’s immediate nature, becomes the opponent who must be conquered and used for the attainment of inhuman ends. Man does not free himself in sport from natural determinism; he rather “frees” himself from life.
Marcuse overlooks the fact that nature itself is humanizing. In Emile, Rousseau writes about the “art of living” learned by the child in nature, which “calls him to a human life”. For the North American Chief, life in nature enables the cultivation of the senses and, thus, the development of man’s aesthetical being, whereas the cutting of man’s organic bond with nature leads to a degeneration of the senses and, consequently, of man, himself. He says that the white man cannot hear the life sounds of nature, smell its scents, discern its colors… This is because the capitalist way of life has degenerated his senses and destroyed the need to enjoy the beauty of both nature and life, a pleasure possible only when man is an organic part of nature. Unlike Goethe and Schiller, Marx did not have a romantic relation to nature (for Klopstock, skates are “wings on the feet”, enabling man to fly to the future) and did not attach a particular importance to the aesthetical dimension of nature. Since capitalism, by destroying nature, abolishes natural brutality, it is necessary to fight for nature’s naturalization, for its liberation from the capitalist exploitation and destruction. Natural forces should be transformed into vehicles for nature’s preservation and humanization. Nature’s liberating potential is contained in its life-creating quality – in the creation of new forms of life. Man is by nature a life-creating being, who can be humanized only if his life-creating quality is recognized as an integral part of nature. Humanization becomes the development (overcoming) of the original naturality, and not its subordination to a rational pattern, to the model of the “humanized” and the like. Only as an emancipated natural being can man truly experience the fullness of his human being. Instead of being a form through which nature can be overcome by the “spirit”, which means to attain a notion of itself and relate to itself, man should overcome his original natural life-creating quality through the development of his creative being, meaning that it should become the basis for the totalization of the world. It is about the transformation of the principle of fecundity into the life-creating principle and the life-creating principle into the universal creative principle.
As far as the relation between reason and nature is concerned, Marcuse writes about this in One-Dimensional Man in the context of his discussion of Hegel’s concept of freedom, with respect to which Marx develops his emancipatory thought. Marcuse: “Hegel’s concept of freedom presupposes consciousness throughout (in Hegel’s terminology: self-consciousness). Consequently, the ‘realization’ of Nature is not, and never can be, Nature’s own work: But inasmuch as Nature is in itself negative (i.e., wanting in its own existence), the historical transformation of Nature by Man is, as the overcoming of this negativity, the liberation of Nature. Or, in Hegel’s words, Nature is in its essence non-natural-‘Geist’.” And he continues: “History is the negation of Nature. What is only natural is overcome and recreated by the power of Reason. The metaphysical notion that Nature comes to itself in history points to the unconquered limits of Reason. It claims them as historical limits – as a task yet to be accomplished or, rather, yet to be undertaken. Nature is in itself a rational, legitimate object of science, thus it is the legitimate object not only of Reason as power, but also of Reason as freedom; not only of domination, but also of liberation. With the emergence of man as the animal rationale – capable of transforming Nature in accordance with the faculties of the mind and the capacities of matter – the merely natural, as the sub-rational, assumes negative status. It becomes a realm to be comprehended and organized by Reason.”
The character of capitalist “domination“ over nature differs from domination in the pre-capitalist era. Apparently, man as a rational being faces nature as a non-rational order. Indeed, it is not about man’s rational relation to nature, as in Hegel, but about an irrational relation conditioned by the nature of capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order. The relation between nature and man is not mediated by reason, but by a destructive irrationality based on the market economy and the absolutized principle of profit. If the relation to nature were rational, then the awareness of the increasingly dramatic destruction of nature and thus of life would be the starting point of the entirety of human practice. The prevailing “conscious relation” to nature is but a manifestation of a destructive capitalist mindlessness based on the struggle of capitalist corporations to survive and expressed in the principles “Money does not stink!” and “Destroy the competition!”. In capitalism, the spirit through which nature attains self-consciousness is abolished by virtue of technology, which not only has an anti-rational, but also an anti-existential character. It is a form in which the natural forces are capitalistically instrumentalized and have become an anti-natural force. The idea of a “liberating transformation of nature”, on which Marcuse insists, acquires a concrete historical dimension only relative to the process of a destructive capitalist “transformation” of nature. The main insufficiency of pure nature is not its non-rationality, but that it cannot prevent the destruction of life on the Earth. The “liberating transformation of nature” has not only a libertarian character but, more importantly, an existential character as well. The basic pre-condition for both freedom and survival is not man’s liberation from nature, but man’s liberation from capitalism. The main task of humanity is to stop the instrumentalization of natural forces (in the form of technology) which is aimed at destroying life and to preserve life on the planet by preserving nature as a life-creating whole through its humanization. As for history, it is not (any longer) the negation of nature, because capitalism destroys history and turns it into a mechanical process that corresponds to the mechanistic materialism that prevails in capitalistically degenerated science, and is the most important instrument for capitalist global destruction.
In German Ideology, Marx claims: “We know only a single science, the science of history. History can be contemplated from two sides: it can be divided into the history of nature and the history of mankind. However, the two sides are not to be separated; as long as man exists, the history of nature and the history of man are mutually conditioned.” Starting from Marx’s principle of “sociability”, we can conclude that nature does not have its own history. It acquires a historical dimension by virtue of man’s active (changing and creative) relation to it, which, above all, implies man’s becoming a historical being. The history of nature is actually the history of human society. Reasoning from historical materialism, nature, without man’s changing and creative relation to it, is but an abstraction, merely pure matter. Historical materialism involves human practice, which brings to life the teleological principles of matter and thus supersedes its pure materiality. At the same time, through the development of productive forces, man brings to life his creative potential as the highest form of living matter and, thus, creates the possibility of his (changing and creative) relation to nature. Marx sees historical materialism as man’s active and changing relation to nature and to himself in a historical (visionary) dimension, but the historical-materialistic conception of nature itself is the result of the historical development of society and, in that context, implies the fulfillment of matter’s emancipatory potential. In contemporary capitalism, historical materialism is not “replaced” by natural-scientific materialism, according to which man is reduced to the living nature subject to natural laws, but by mechanistic materialism, according to which man is reduced to that non-living matter subject to physical laws. The nature of contemporary materialism is conditioned by the nature of contemporary capitalism, which destroys man’s and nature’s historicity and thus destroys man’s and matter’s life-creating potential. At the same time, by producing increasingly destructive technical means, capitalism creates the possibility of turning, in a matter of seconds, the highest forms of organized matter in the known Universe, created during the course of almost five billion years, into cosmic dust.
According to Marx, nature in itself does not have a dialectical character. In The Concept of Nature in Marx, Alfred Schmidt writes: “Nature, that preceded human society, leads only to a polarity and opposition of mutually external moments, at best to their mutual interaction, but not to dialectical contradiction.“ Speaking of Marx’s conception of the dialectics of nature, Schmidt concludes: “Nature becomes dialectical by creating man as a mutable agent, as a consciously active agent, who approaches nature, itself, as a ‘natural force’. In man, the means of labor and the object of labor are inter-related. Nature is the subject-object of labor. Its dialectics consists in people’s changing their nature by removing the alienation and externality from external nature, mediating it by themselves, and allowing it to work purposefully for them. – Since people’s relationships with nature constitute a presupposition for people’s relationships with one another, the dialectics of the labor process as a natural process extends to the dialectics of human history in general.“ So, there is no destructive relation of capitalism to nature and, in that context, no specific dialectics of the relation between capitalism and nature. Capitalism does not bring nature closer to people but rather, through mutilation, turns it into man’s increasingly dangerous enemy. In view of capitalistically degenerated labor’s destructive relation to nature, a fight to preserve nature, which implies the prevention of its technization, and a fight for its humanization by way of its naturalization become man’s most important tasks. At the same time, the dialectics of nature conditions the dialectics of life, through the perfecting of animal species and the ecological balance on which nature, as a life-creating whole, is based. Within nature, itself, there are dialectical relations between the living and non-living worlds (including climate changes), as well as relations strictly within living nature (relations generating higher forms of life). Everything is mutually conditioned, and that is what the dynamics of ecological balance is based on. At the same time, the dialectics of nature has a deterministic and, as such, a fatalistic character. There is no subjective practice, that is, there is no freedom of choice nor the creation of alternatives, and, therefore, no idea of novum and the future.
Capitalism’s instrumental relation to nature, which reduced it to the object of exploitation and destruction, conditions the instrumental relation to the human body as man’s immediate nature. What happens in nature happens to the body. Capitalist denaturalization of nature is at the same time the denaturalization of man. Capitalism denaturalizes man directly, by turning him into the instrument for the destruction of life, and indirectly, by turning the natural living environment into a technical space. In order to protect themselves from increasingly dangerous climate changes, people spend more and more time in artificial living conditions and thus are inevitably degraded as natural and human beings. Flats, business premises, restaurants, supermarkets, cars, public transport, hospitals, shopping malls … – all have artificial living conditions. Man loses his life force as a natural being and becomes increasingly dependent on technical means and a technicized living environment. The creation of artificial living conditions alleviates effects of the increasingly dangerous climate changes and thus buys time for capitalism, which, unless it is soon destroyed, will degenerate nature to such an extent that man will no longer be able to survive even with the help of technical devices and technicized living conditions.
Marx overlooks the fact that the neutering of the life-creating force of living human beings is a universal principle of capitalist development. By destroying man as a natural being, capitalism destroys man as a life-creating being. By becoming a consuming (destructive) instrument of capital, the body loses its reproductive capabilities and becomes a dead body. The rise of the “consumer standard” is achieved through the destruction of man’s life-creating faculties and life-creating needs. Men and women have fewer and fewer organic substances enabling them to be fertile beings. A polluted environment, contaminated water and food, the destruction of the organism’s biological rhythm, an increased existential uncertainty that keeps man under constant stress… – all this leads to serious physical and mental disorders and causes man’s sterility. By destroying nature, capitalism destroys man’s organic (genetic) relation to nature and degenerates man as a natural (biological) being. The creation of a “technical civilization” implies the transformation of nature into a technical space and man into a technical “being” – a walking corpse. Having children is less and less a humanized natural process and more and more a technical feat. In vitro fertilization, sperm banking, surrogate motherhood, the birthing, itself – all this bespeaks a commercial and technical character. In the so-called “great religions”, the woman is reduced to a breeder sow with a saint’s halo; in capitalism, the woman is reduced to a technical instrument for the production of children. The worst thing is that the very process of the capital reproduction destroys man as a fertile being. In some areas of production, the working day is reduced while, at the same time, there is a greater need for work force “mobility”, which means that people who can constantly be available to their bosses are given priority when applying for a job. These are the people “freed” from social, particularly family, obligations. An increasing number of women submit to “voluntary“ sterilization in order to “gain the confidence of an employer“ and get a job. The official working hours are more and more flexible. The subordination of all life to the ever-quickening rhythm of capital reproduction is one of the chief causes of the dramatic fall in the birth rates in the most advanced capitalist countries. The restoration of the life-creating potential of man as a fertile being is one of the most important challenges that capitalism makes to humanity.
In his early writings Marx attaches a special importance to eroticism. Schmidt wrote: “Anybody who is concerned today with Marx’s conception of nature must consider the emancipatory role of human nature, the liberating power of ‘eroticism’, in the thoughts of the young Marx.“ By destroying nature as a life-generating whole, capitalism destroys man as a life-creating part of nature. This leads to the degeneration of the senses and, thus, to the reduction and degeneration of sensual impressions and, consequently, to the degradation of the relation to the natural environment, that being man’s relation to himself as a (humanized) natural being and to other people as (humanized) natural beings. Capitalism abolishes man’s immediate relation to nature and reduces it to a technical relation by technical means. Man develops his senses through the technical world in which he lives and not through his humanization, but through the destruction of his original naturalness. Through the reduction of the natural and the human, capitalism reduces man as a natural and human being and thus reduces his spheres of interest. Living in an environment that is less and less natural and human, man loses his ability to perceive the natural and the human. At the same time, the individual who sits in front of a computer every single day loses interest in the surrounding world. For him, the “world” that appears on the screen becomes the real world, while nature and society are experienced as the virtual world. To perceive the world through one’s own experience and, thus, to perceive oneself as a human being immediately conditions the field of one’s perception and, thereby, the development of one’s senses. Capitalism degenerates man by mutilating his senses and transforming them into “sensors” that absorb only such impressions as enable the functioning of man as a working-consuming mechanism. The Chief of the Seattle tribe pointed this out. The white man does not hear the sounds of nature and does not smell the odor created by capitalist progress – just like a dying man. At its “consumer” stage, capitalism destroys man’s senses by turning him into the means for the destruction of life and a container devouring the increasingly poisonous surrogates of “consumer” civilization. The destruction of the senses leads to the destruction of reason. Man experiences the world through his mutilated senses and degenerated reason, which is not capable of discerning the important and establishing a critical and changing relation to the world. The “after-effects” on the brain are far worse than those on the body since they create a capitalistically degenerated reason. Instead of a critical and visionary mind, the prevailing ratio is instrumentalized and destructive, based on the value-model ingrained into people from early childhood that becomes the criterion distinguishing “good” from “bad”, “beautiful” from “ugly”… The “need” for Coca-Cola, the “holy water” of capitalism, is not a bodily need but a value challenge. The same goes for the food produced in McDonald’s restaurants, which symbolize the “American way of life” and, as such, are the temples of capitalism. A petty bourgeois takes his child to a McDonald’s restaurant to have a “hamburger” in the same spirit with which a religious man takes his child to church to receive communion. By eating a “hamburger”, a petty bourgeois does not seek to satisfy his hunger, he rather satisfies his need to become a part of the world symbolized by McDonald’s restaurants. At the same time, a meaningless life deprives man of the possibility of dedicating himself to serious thinking without which he cannot find answers to vital existential and essential questions. The ruling capitalist centers of power are doing their best to keep man from independent thinking. To think means to step off the conveyer belt of “consumer society”; to think means not to be under the control of “Big Brother”; to think means to face one’s fear; to think means to realize that capitalism leads humankind to disaster; to think means to get organized; to think means to protest; to think means to be inventive; to think means to create a new world… If man is ready to fight for his life and freedom, capitalism is doomed to failure.
By degenerating the senses, capitalism degenerates man’s erotic being. In contrast to ancient man, whose prevailing Eros was homosexual (pedophilic) and who insisted on a graceful (seductive) movement and physical suppleness, today we have a de-eroticized body deprived of the natural and the human, whose movement is based on a technical mimesis that bring the body to a destructive instrumentalism. Capitalism has degenerated man as an erotic being by reducing him to the vehicle for capital accumulation. In Capital, Marx points out man’s de-eroticization in the process of industrial production. Yet this desensitization is not about man’s genetic degeneration but rather about his physical deformation through one-sided physical activity. According to Marx, man’s dehumanization and denaturalization do not derive from capitalist development of the productive forces, but from mechanized labor and specialization, which turn man into a mechanical part of the process of industrial production (a machine) that compels him to behave in a way that mechanizes his body. The capitalist form of industrial labor turns man into a “freak” (Marx), but not into a technical object. In the post-industrial forms of labor, the exhausting and degenerating one-sided physical activity is abolished, but the processes that dehumanize and denaturalize man by turning labor into a destructive activity are not. At the same time, capitalism degenerates man not only through destructive labor, but also through a consumer way of life that turns man’s body into a container, and through a commercialized form of physical activity that has a destructive character. Ultimately, the nature of the process of man’s dehumanization and denaturalization can be clearly seen in the context of capitalism’s despoiling of climate, water, air, soil, the biological rhythm of the organism, constant mental stress, overeating, sterility, alcoholism, excessive use of pills, drug addiction, loneliness, the death of entire nations… The ever deeper capitalist swamp breeds ever more dangerous diseases that affect man’s life-creating power and, thus, humankind’s reproductive capability.
The destruction of nature means the destruction of humankind’s cultural heritage, created over thousands of years and based on man’s organic connection to nature, from which develops man’s life-creating consciousness. Writing about the domination of “technological rationality” in a “fully developed industrial society”, Marcuse concludes: “In fully developed industrial society, this insoluble core is progressively whittled down by technological rationality. Obviously, the physical transformation of the world implies the mental transformation of its symbols, images and ideas. Obviously, when cities and highways and National Parks replace the villages, valleys, and forests; when motorboats race over the lakes and planes cut through the skies – then these areas lose their character as a qualitatively different reality, as areas of contradiction.“
Marcuse’s term, “technological rationality”, based on the “physical transformation of the world”, is but another name for destructive capitalist irrationalism, which deals with nature as a life-creating whole and man as a humanized life-creating part of nature, as well as with the emancipatory legacy of bourgeois society and the germ of novum created in it, that is, with capitalism as a historically fecund order. Hence the primary existential importance of the preservation of the cultural legacy of man’s life-creating unity with nature and the perception of nature as a historical, aesthetical and visionary space. In this context, we can clearly see the lethal character of Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other escapist and apocalyptic ideologies that deal with man as a natural being, offering him an illusory “heavenly world” to make it easier for him to renounce his fight for the preservation of this world, to renounce his fight against capitalism.
As a reproduction of the capitalist system in its pure sense, sport, with its spectacular character, is the most radical form of capitalism’s degeneration of man. In sport, man is reduced to the object of labor, to the instrument of labor, and to the power of labor. The athlete’s body is a typical product of “technical civilization”, a capitalistically degenerated body. In the process of training, a athlete’s body is “processed” into a “useful object” through the destruction of all naturality and humanity. Sport is dominated by physical mechanics, precision of movements, aesthetics of the machine, de-eroticization, hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other bodily functions and organs, a spiritless body and movement; instead of the ancient principle metron ariston, the dominant body is aggressive and muscular; the principle of optimum effort is replaced by the principle of “greater effort”; there is an early specialization leading to mental and physical one-sidedness… Considering the fact that sport is dominated by the absolutized principle of performance with a quantitative character, it is clear why the destruction of man as a biological and human being in sport (capitalism) becomes inevitable. Habermas, Plesner, Lash, Krockow, Huizinga, Caillois, Lenk, and other bourgeois theorists have a superficial relation to sport, not because they cannot grasp its essence, but because to indicate the essence of sport means at once to indicate the destructive nature of capitalism, which they are keen to avoid at all costs.
In considering the relation between the use value and the exchange value of goods, more precisely, from the domination of the exchange over the use value, we will arrive at an apt starting point in the critique of record-mania, the corner stone of modern sport. Record-mania is based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance, which is a reflection of the market economy. A record is not a human accomplishment; it is rather the market value of the result. It does not acquire value in terms of the development of human powers, but in terms of the circulation of capital. The ideology of record-mania is based on destructive irrationalism: the principle citius, altius, fortius, does not indicate man’s creative powers; it rather corresponds to the process of unlimited profit accumulation. The record achievement is “progressive” only in technical terms. The results achieved in sport are not conditioned by man’s qualities as a biological and human being but are the expression of the “progressive” nature of capitalism. A striving to set new records leads to the complete destruction of man as a natural and human being. In the process of breaking records, man’s creative powers become a destructive force, while man as a biological and human being becomes a technical object. Sport is the machinery producing (self)destructive people. It is a clear example of how capitalism, through the absolutized principle of quantitative performance (profit) produces a degenerated body and a degenerated consciousness. It reflects man’s mental transformation in monopolistic capitalism: from “the man beast”, the anthropological model corresponding to laisser-faire capitalism, we have come to the man “self-destructor” who represents the anthropological model suited to monopolistic capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order. In Hellenic society, the cult of the winner had a religious character and a festive form; in capitalist society, the cult of the winner has a destructive character and a spectacular form. The capitalist propaganda machinery has turned the robotized “champions” into “supermen”, who have become the highest value challenge for young people.
Sport is a typical example of people’s identification with the prevailing model of “man” imposed by contemporary capitalism, which is based on the destruction of man as a human and natural being. Guided by the value and existential model imposed by capitalist “progress”, sportsmen “voluntarily” ruin their bodies and readily sacrifice their lives in order to win a medal. Physical doping is based on mental doping. It is a fanatically self-destructive consciousness deriving from social conditions that deprive man of the possibility to realize his human qualities and, thus, earn respect and ensure his existence. A athlete’s body is destroyed by the excessive use of medications and doping substances and by subjecting it to the sort of strenuous exertion in the process of training that turns the body into a machine and man into a self-destructive fanatic. Enduring or blocking pain, which is the organism’s natural defensive response to over-exertion, is one of the most important prerequisites for achieving “top” results. The purpose of pharmaceutical substances is, above all, to enable the athlete to “conquer pain” in order to subject his body to excessive, (self)destructive levels of exertion. The road to victory and record-breaking leads to the destruction of man’s instinctive nature, hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other organic functions, mutilation of organs and limbs, deformation of the erotic being and biological rhythm of the organism, modification of cells and metabolism, muscular and nerve structure, genetic degeneration, creation of (self)destructive, sado-masochistic character…
Capitalism is dominated by the ecocidal principle fully expressed in sport. Man’s relation to the living world is marked by his readiness to be self-destructive and his systematic work toward self-destruction. Considering that the body is man’s immediate nature, man’s relation to the body in sport indicates his relation to nature. A man whose body is the means for realizing inhuman goals cannot recognize nature as a life-generating whole. Sport is one of the most efficient means for the destruction of man’s natural being and the creation of an ecocidal consciousness. Sport turns the body into a mechanism and nature into a technical space, while society is transformed into a horde of dehumanized and denaturalized “competitors”. An athlete (just like a coach, a physician, or the entire “sports machine”) does not perceive his body as a natural organism; he rather treats it as the instrument for a better performance. Instead of humanizing man’s natural existence and being dominated by a humanized natural movement, sport transforms man’s body into a machine and turns movement into a mechanical motion. Instead of a bodily poetics, it is dominated by a bodily mechanics. The “development of human powers“ is based on the criteria that inevitably result in the destruction of man as a human and biological being. Sport is not only the “cheapest spiritual food for the working masses that keeps them under control” (Coubertin), but it also serves as an instrument for the destruction of humanistic sociability and humanistic naturality, which are the basic links to humankind’s integration in the fight for the survival of life. At the same time, stadiums and sports centers have become the most important “natural” and “social” spaces for young people. The need for a natural and social life has become the need for a stadium and a sports center, just as the need for healthy water and food has become the need for “Coca-Cola” and “hamburgers”. The “sportivization” of the world is one of the most aggressive and most efficient ways of dealing with “traditional humankind” – with man as a human and natural being. A “sports machinery” has become the laboratory where capitalism produces the prototype of a “new man”, one meant to become the driving force in the creation of a capitalistically degenerated future. It is no accident that the principle “Record-holders are born in test tubes!” has become a guide for “top” sport. Sports “progress” suggests that man as a natural and human being has become the main obstacle to the development of capitalism.
When creating a vision of the future, we should bear in mind the consequences of capitalism as a destructive order. The question of the humanization of man as a natural being can be posed as a concrete historical question only in relation to the capitalist destruction of nature and man as a natural being. Capitalism specifically eliminates man’s organic bond with nature through the destruction of nature and man as a sensual (natural) being by transforming nature into a technical space and man into a robot. Capitalistically mutated man has become part of “technical civilization”, and he is no longer capable of living in nature as an organic component. The way of life and the sensual impressions coming from a capitalistically degenerated world mutilate man as a natural and human being: the process of denaturalization is, at the same time, the process of man’s dehumanization. Instead of being a “force for liberation”, the senses have become the instrument for the development of a destructive (“consumer“) man and, thus, the means for the destruction of man and nature. The destruction of nature as a life-creating whole obliterates man’s life-creating being, the basis for the humanization of the senses and the development of his creative being. If man does not perceive nature as a life-creating whole, he cannot perceive himself as an autonomous life-creating being. Without a life-creating nature, man cannot be a humanized life-creating being. Nature is an ecological whole with its own life-creating rhythm. Man can survive as a life-creating being only when he is in synch with the beat of the original natural rhythm of life that is overcome (humanized) by a libertarian-creative rhythm. As part of a “technical civilization” dominated by the rhythm of capitalist reproduction, man is doomed to degeneration and destruction. Since capitalism denaturalizes man, his “de-alienation“ demands not only man’s humanization, but also his naturalization, a regeneration of his original natural being. Man is part of nature, and it is only in a healthy natural environment that he can develop as an authentic natural being. Only in a humane society can the emancipatory potentials of the human senses be brought to life. Human eroticism should be a humanized and not a mechanized naturality. From Marx’s concept of alienation, it can be assumed that human sensuality can be redeemed by a re-activation of the senses in a way that promotes the development of man’s universal creative being. But if capitalism destroys man as a human and natural being, then more than a mere reactivation is needed: there must be a restoration of the capitalistically degenerated and mutilated senses.
Translated from Serbian by Vesna Todorović (Petrović)
English translation supervisor Mick Collins
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