Ljubodrag Simonović: Vision of the future
VISION OF THE FUTURE
The following are the principal ideas that offer humankind the possibility of survival and to create a humane world: direct democracy; production for meeting genuine human needs; a radical reduction in labor time; the development of man’s creative being; the development of interpersonal relations and the establishment of a humanized relation to nature. These ideas constitute an integral part of modern visionary thought, and their substantial relevance today lies in their opposition to the totalitarian destructive order that is capitalism, their relation to the very real possibility of global annihilation. They are no longer a libertarian challenge, but, instead, have become an existential imperative.
Capitalism has fully captured the political sphere into its existential orbit. Man’s political being has been alienated from him and absorbed into a „public sphere” that is now the private property of corrupt party oligarchies. The „public sphere” has become a vehicle for eliminating sociability, with its implications of a community of emancipated political beings. The citizen is reduced to a part of the voting machinery, with „elections” providing a „democratic” legitimacy to the ruling order. The political sphere has become a political circus, and the „political struggle” between parties is now a struggle for power between the most powerful capitalist groups. The elections are always won by capitalism, while workers remain defeated.
The economic sphere of capitalism has become the undisputed totalizing power over all social life. It confronts the citizen as a constitutive agent of (bourgeois) society and reduces him, through the „consumer” way of life, to a depoliticized and depersonalized subject. A vast majority of citizens in the most advanced capitalist countries live in debt-slavery. What „freedom” can man enjoy if he is literally a slave to the banks and thus to the current capitalist order? His life, as well as the life of his family, is immediately conditioned by his „indebtedness”. For millions of citizens in the most developed capitalist countries, „freedom” is just the choice between prison, begging and suicide.
The destruction of nature and its transformation into man’s enemy constitutes the destruction of humanity’s emancipatory legacy, the possibility of creating a humane society and developing man as a humane and natural being. By destroying nature, capitalism makes man increasingly dependent on it and thus reduces the existential space necessary to realize the emancipatory potential of civil society. The increasingly dramatic destruction of the fundamentals of human existence leads to the rise of new forms of totalitarianism. The creation of a „new world order”, under which the most powerful capitalist concerns intend to destroy the institutional structure that enables citizens to express their sovereign political will and defend their existential interests, is brought about by capitalist destruction. The rise of totalitarianism goes hand in hand with the destruction of life: capitalism destroys democratic institutions and the germ of a novum created by bourgeois society and establishes a global fascism based on an ecocidal terrorism. In this context, the political struggle of the oppressed is degenerated with their criminalization, with their resentment over being coerced into large-scale, murderous violence. By destroying the emancipatory legacy of civil society, capitalism destroys the critical-changing and visionary mind, moral reasoning, spirituality, man’s erotic and social being – all the qualities that make man human – and, thus, calls into question the very existence of the visionary and changing practice necessary to realizing the objective possibilities of creating a new world.
„Indirect democracy” implies intellectual elitism and thus an intellectual „elite” that mediates between man and the world and makes the decisions that determine the future of humanity. The members of the French Enlightenment and Classical German philosophers, as well as the philosophers belonging to the school of English Liberalism, maintained that the world should be pervaded by the mind through the rule of an „enlightened elite” over „common citizens”. They sought to shape modern reason as the expression of an idea of the world of the newly elevated bourgeois class that will mediate between man and the world, and as an undisputed criterion for determining „truth” and „correct conduct”. Reason can no longer be the privilege of the intellectual „elite”, it must become man’s basic right. All the more significant was the intention to „return” reason to the people by eradicating the class order, for man’s ability to relate to the world and the future in a reasonable way is not only a basic preconditions of human freedom, but also a basic preconditions for humanity’s survival.
Instead of a new „great philosophy”, which would mediate between man and the world, thereby forming the basis of human self-consciousness and the starting point for social practice, people must develop a way of thinking that will lead their thinking about vital existential and essential issues and enable them to develop a combative sociability to bring an end to capitalism and create a new world. Only within a political struggle can reason take on a changing dimension. Without everyday political engagement, reason, in itself, regardless of its „quality”, can only hinder the struggle for survival and freedom. In this context, people should not use philosophy to mystify and defend the ruling order. Reasonable people should become the leading force in the demystification of capitalist „progress” and the creation of a vision of the future. It is in this context that Marx’s XI Thesis on Feuerbach, together with the idea that the „correct theory is the consciousness of a world-changing practice”, reveals its true value.
The increasingly dramatic threat to man’s immediate existence is the basis for the integration of the objective and subjective factors of changes. Capitalism’s existential menacing, perhaps, explains a concern expressed by Martin Jay to Marcuse in The Dialectical Imagination: „Indeed, to make this short digression, the key question of the possibility of a change in a society that controls the consciousness of its members remains in the major part of Marcuse’s later work, especially in One-Dimensional Man, as a disturbing issue.“ (31) Capitalism can control the consciousness of its citizens and depoliticize them only as long as it offers them the possibility of participating in the development of a „consumer society”, as long as it can reduce them to a „consuming mass”. The development of „consumer society“ is immediately conditioned by the severe devastation of natural resources and the creation of climate changes that seriously threaten the survival of a growing number of people. These processes will inevitably call into question the consumer fanaticism and conformist consciousness, which are, in actual fact, the most important instruments available to the ruling order for pulling citizens into the spiritual and social orbits of capitalism and keeping them under control. In this context, a call for „justice” takes on a new relevance. It implies the right to a healthy environment, to clean air and water and healthy food… The immediate existential threat caused by the destruction of nature, as well as the deepening economic and social crises that affect an ever larger number of „middle class” citizens, undermines the petty bourgeois spiritual sphere that „protects” man from any responsibility for global demise and leads to the development of a critical thinking and increasingly radical forms of struggle against capitalism. A positive aspect of the development of capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order is that it imposes the existential necessity for a reasonable alternative, forces man to become a totalizing life-creating being, and, as a global order, leads humanity to integrate its efforts to create a reasonable and humane world.
All forms of mediation between man and (his) world will be obviated by man’s becoming an active participant in the management of social processes. As an authentic being, man should, in close cooperation with other people, become the creator of his own world. It is about the affirmation of existential humanism, based on a life-creating relation to the world as the basis for determining man’s being. In spite of the increasingly aggressive brainwashing man undergoes on a daily basis, the growingly acute existential crisis compels people to turn to essential issues and begin to think in a serious, that is, a reasonable way. The immediate threat looming over the lives of more and more people enables the broadest layers of society to be pervaded by reason and to take control over their social lives. The ever-deepening crisis of capitalism creates concrete social conditions under which the critical and visionary mind can become a concrete possibility for „ordinary” people, those whose existence is ever more directly and dramatically jeopardized by capitalism. Only a reasonable man can foresee and prevent the consequences of the development of capitalism, and only a reasonable man can create a reasonable world. The a priori character of a possible socialist revolution gives reason a superb political significance.
Capitalism has brought humanity to the edge of the abyss, rendering the „traditional“ theoretical discussions meaningless. It confronts man in the most direct way, compelling him to grasp the essence of capitalism without a mystifying theoretical mediation. Conditions have been created for discarding the way of thinking and the ideas that serve to relativize destruction and turn concrete issues into theoretical questions – thus mutilating the active power of a changing intention. The only meaningful thought is the one that directs man to fight for survival, whereas the creation of a new world involves a confrontation not only with capitalism, but also with the consequences of capitalism as a totalitarian destructive order. The increasingly threatened and thus increasingly dangerous environment leads to the experience of a global demise becoming the driving force of political practice, thereby replacing theoretical considerations. Capitalism has discarded all ideological masks and demystified the truth. Man no longer needs science or philosophy in order to understand that capitalism destroys life along with man as a human and biological being. Capitalism, itself, as a totalitarian destructive order, has created an excellent starting point for a critique of capitalism that, at the same time, represents an undisputed guideline for the political struggle: the truth has become survival, while the struggle for the truth has become the struggle for survival. This immediately conditions the relation between theory and practice. The increasingly dramatic destruction of global life means that „changing of the world” amounts to preventing its destruction. Social phenomena obtain a concrete (affirmative and negative) meaning only in terms of efforts to stop the destruction of life and to create a new world. Only a political practice that eradicates the causes of global destruction is legitimate, only the practice that abolishes capitalism. When the relation between theory and practice is viewed in this way, to increase the certainty of human survival becomes a necessary, though insufficient, condition for verifying the correctness of political practice. This qualification is necessary because the destruction of „superfluous” populations, as advocated by representatives of the contemporary „new world order”, cannot be accepted as a way to increase the certainty of human survival.
A difference should be made between naive and realistic optimism. A naive optimism has a fatalist character and is based on the principle of tout va bien, which implies existential apriorism and an idealized conception of man. A libertarian optimism, based on existential apriorism, is a side-step in the struggle for a future. It offers false hope and, so, masks the true nature of capitalism, hindering the struggle for survival. It posits that though capitalist globalism has its bad sides, it will nevertheless result in a better world. A realistic optimism is based on a realistic analysis of the tendencies of global development and man’s will to create a humane world. It appears in relation to the destructive tendencies of capitalist development and is based on a reasonable man’s struggle against capitalism to create a new world. The mounting destruction of life and the rapidly approaching deadline for preventing global extinction abrogate a naive optimism and produce, on the one hand, a capitulating consciousness, coaxing humanity toward death, and on the other hand, an increasingly radical consciousness that refuses to reconcile itself with global annihilation. This consciousness is not humanist in itself, that is, it does not appear only in the form of a leftist movement that seeks to abolish capitalism; it rather appears in the form of a rightist movement that seeks to preserve capitalism at any price and sees the „solution” to the survival of humanity in the destruction of „superfluous” populations (the theory of the „golden billion”).
By dramatically threatening human survival, capitalism poses increasingly difficult existential and essential challenges to humanity. Contemporary visionary consciousness is not solely based on the nature of man as a universal creative being of freedom and on an emancipatory potential for the creation of a new world, derived from bourgeois society; it is created, above all, response to the consequences of the development of capitalism as a destructive order and its destructive possibilities. This informs a concrete vision of the future. In this context, the fatal character of the theory of „scientific socialism” becomes obvious because it does not regard capitalism as a concrete historical phenomenon. In other words, if socialism is a „necessity”, then capitalism cannot be a destructive order. The theory of „scientific socialism” only contributes to the development of a fatalist consciousness based on existential certainty. The demise of capitalism is a necessity, but it not certain to lead to the creation of a humane world. The demise of capitalism can be the introduction to the creation of a new (communist) society, but it can also bring about the destruction of the entire world. Ultimately, a humane world is possible only as a result of the political struggle of the working class and young people. This struggle opens future horizons.
In view of the fact that „indirect democracy” has become an anti-libertarian and anti-existential order, there is a need to create a political system that will be based on direct political involvement of the citizens. Direct democracy in the form of self-government, as the broadest social movement, is the only existential and, as such, the only authentic political alternative to capitalism – though not as an expression of the political voluntarism of a bureaucracy (as was the case in „socialist” Yugoslavia), but rather as a concrete historical alternative to a destructive capitalist totalitarianism.
The increasingly dramatic ecological and economic crises in the most developed capitalist countries are producing new political movements that, despite lacking a clear class leadership or anti-capitalist direction, contribute to citizens’ political activism and, in so doing, create the possibility for their direct involvement in the management of social processes. A growing number of citizens’ initiatives are incipient forms of a political struggle whose ultimate aim is to abolish the alienated and corrupted political sphere and introduce direct control over social life by citizens acting as emancipated political beings. For now, these movements do not have the political strength and intensity necessary to bring down capitalism, but their spread indicates that growing number of citizens have come to realize that capitalism is an obsolete order and the creation of a new world is necessary.
Production for human needs
The emergence of capitalism was a turning point in the development of humankind. Capitalism rendered production for meeting human needs passé and introduced production aimed at creating profit. In so doing, capitalism has led humankind into an existential cul-de-sac. It has created an economic mechanism, the market economy, which has turned man’s creative potential and his productive practices into the ultimate threat to the survival of humankind.
Capitalism released the productive forces of naturalistic mysticism and localism and put them to work for profit, preventing them from developing any humanist and existentialist criteria. Profit has become the unchallenged measure of the meaning and value of human practice. Through the capitalist economic sphere, the process of the recreation of the world has obtained an irrational and destructive character. Capitalism’s development of the productive forces has turned man’s creative powers and the forces of nature he has captured into the means for his and nature’s annihilation. Instead of a humane and humanized natural world, capitalism has created a „technical world”, with a corresponding technocratic religion, which pins man down to the existing world and destroys any humanist vision of the future.
Capitalism is based on destructive mindlessness. There are no reasonable limits that can restrain the capitalist exploitation of man and nature from reaching destructive proportions. Capitalistically degenerated reason has become the instrument by which an apparent „ratio” of destructive processes is created. Its „regulatory principle” is based on the ruthless fight between capitalist corporations for domination and survival. Capitalist „planning” is nothing but a form in which an instrumentalized and technologized reason has become the means for stabilizing and accelerating capitalist reproduction. By destroying life and reason, capitalism prevents the establishment of a reasonable life and, thus, of any philosophy of freedom as promoted by the thinkers who created the concept of the modern world. Capitalist truth has a mindless and anti-existential character.
The maniacal pursuit of new records in sport has clearly demonstrated the anti-existential nature of capitalist progress. From a humanist and existentialist aspect, the record breaking mania, based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance (citius, altius, fortius), leads to the destruction of man as a human and natural being. However, since a record reflects the market value of an athlete’s performance and, as such, an authentic expression of the absolutized principle of profit, it cannot be disputed. Its purpose is not to develop human powers and interpersonal relations, but to ensure the progress of capitalism at the cost of destroying man as a human and natural being. Instead of being the beneficiary of competition, man has become simply the means by which new records are achieved.
Capitalism has degenerated authentic human needs, making the need for destruction somehow „primal”. At the same time, the awareness that capitalism might easily destroy the world forces man to confront capitalism and those needs programed into his body and sub-conscious mind, needs he experiences as vital. The existential neurosis is based on man’s attempts at keeping those ingrained needs from being met, since their fulfillment would lead to the destruction of his human and biological potential, as well as all life on the planet. It is about the suppression of the sub-conscious based on the mutilated humanness and the elimination of the ambivalence that results in a conflict between desire and the will. By developing a critical mind and fighting for a new world, man can prevent the evil seed planted in him in early childhood from growing so great as to erase all his human qualities. Man will continue to fight the evil within him until the evil in society is eradicated and humanity is allowed to become the singular source of his authenticity.
In light of the lethal consequences of a destructive capitalist irrationality, which is the basis of the capitalist economy and capitalism’s relation to nature and man, the principle of a planned economy, which was affirmed in the October Revolution, takes on a supreme political and existential significance. In the article entitled „Why Socialism?”, originally published in the first issue of the magazine Monthly Review in May 1949, Albert Einstein criticizes capitalism and advocates the establishment of a planned socialist economy, guided by genuine human needs and based on reason and solidarity: „I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate the grave evils (of capitalism), namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow-men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”
When we speak of a particular historical order, we should bear in mind the unrealized potential of that order in terms of the creation of a future. The specific historical aspect of the „socialist” order is that the development of the productive forces was not based on the market and profit, but on a planned economy, which had a rational character. In the contemporary world, this aspect of „socialism” has taken on a primary importance in contrast to capitalism’s destructive irrationalism. Production aimed at satisfying human needs, directed by rational and social beings (in solidarity with one another), whose relation to nature is aimed at its humanization rather than its devastation, represents the basis for a planned economy. Under the specific historical conditions that existed during the development of the Soviet Union, а planned economy could reach neither its existential nor, more specifically, its emancipatory potential. Today, there are objective conditions in order for the existential and humanist potential of a planned economy to be fully realized. Most importantly, the concrete potential of a planned economy should be perceived in relation to the destructive practices and destructive potential of capitalism. The realization of the emancipatory potential of a planned economy has become the basic prerequisite for ensuring the survival of humanity and life on the planet. The elimination of the „consumer society” and the establishment of rationally based production, which aims at meeting genuine human needs, would bring about the Earth’s ecological revival.
The „participation in the factory management” and the „seizure of factories” by the workers are obsolete tactics in the fight for a future because they are based on a market economy, on the principles of productivism and profit-making. Workers’ control of the factories does not bring about any substantial change in existential terms if it is not accompanied by the abolition of the market economy and the establishment of production for the meeting of human needs, growing out of a humanized relation to nature as a life-creating whole. In a market economy, workers inevitably end up as slaves to managerial groups, which mediate between workers and the market and reduce „workers self-government“ to a formal principle.
A planned economy is the most important manifestation of the need for a rational world, a fundamental existential principle. However, the concept of a planned economy presents the inherent danger of being reduced to a technical project, with society becoming a technologically perfected labor camp managed by a technocratic „elite”. The genuine potential of a planned economy is realized only if the citizens, as emancipated, rational and political beings, are directly involved in the creation and realization of the process of social reproduction. Without direct democracy, a planned economy can lead to a new totalitarianism.
Radical reduction in labor time
For Marx, labor is the „exchange of material and intellectual goods between nature and man” and as such is a way by which nature and man are humanized. It is the creator of all social wealth; the means for transforming nature into useful objects; the means by which natural forces are mastered and used to liberate man from his dependency on natural elements; the basic existential and essential way by which sociability is created; the way through which man realizes his creative potential and creates his own world; the basic way by which man reproduces himself as an authentic and independent being; the way in which the emancipatory potential of matter and living nature is reached; the basic opportunity for a „leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom” (Engels) and the creation of a humane (communist) society… As such, labor is „life’s prime want“ (Marx) and the activity that enables man to optimize the chances of humanity’s survival.
Marx criticizes capitalist (industrial) labor because in it man is the slave of capital; because man becomes part of the (industrial) production processes based on the division of labor and the mechanical repetition of work efforts, which damages man’s physical and mental health; because work is performed under inhuman conditions; because, through labor, nature becomes alienated as man’s „anorganic body“; because it exhausts the soil by depriving it of fecundity… „Alienated labor” is possible because man is „more” than a mere instrument of labor or the hired hand to which he has been reduced. „Alienated labor” involves man’s distancing from capitalist labor, as a libertarian and universal-creative (playing) being. Man created his own chains through labor and alienated himself from his authentic playing being; however, at the same time he developed the creative powers that enable him to obtain a libertarian-creative consciousness. The dialectics of praxis is based on a conflict between man’s creative faculties and the impossibility of realizing them in any way that will affirm him as a human being, and will create a humane world.
One of the most important characteristics of capitalist labor is that it creates a time off from work or a potentially free-time, when workers can improve their education, organize themselves to fight for their labor, civil or human rights. Marcuse cites Marx’s view of how free time affects man: „Free time transforms its possessor into a different subject, and, as a different subject, he enters the process of immediate production.“ (32) Here it should be added: as a potentially different subject – provided that it is really about free time and not just some putative „free time” that is used to reproduce the ruling relations and values, as is the case with the leading forms of play. Leisure time is not an abstract, but has a concrete historical nature: though non-working time is „free” from work, it is not free from capitalism nor from the consequences for the worker: mutilation of his erotic being, physical and mental degradation of man and his interpersonal relations… Marcuse creates the psychological profile of a future man in relation to the man-laborer, who creates use-values, and not in relation to the man-destructor, who has become part of a destructive working-consuming machine. By becoming a homo faber, man has suppressed and lost his authentic human qualities (erotic nature), which reached its peak in capitalist society, as a „technical civilization”, where man was both dehumanized and denaturalized. Marcuse fails to realize that technical progress in capitalism is not only an „instrument of domination and exploitation“, but a weapon for obliterating the living world, climate, man as a biological and human being, interpersonal relations… In addition, technical progress has created such devastating industrial plants (above all, nuclear power plants) and military facilities that can annihilate humanity in a matter of seconds.
In „consumer society”, work and non-work time have become the constituent parts of capitalist time: time for production and time for consumption. Also, the content of non-work time is conditioned by class relations, by seeking to use non-work time in the defense of the ruling order. The bourgeoisie tries to prevent non-work time from becoming free time for the oppressed. Stadiums, designed according to the Roman Colosseum, were built at the end of the 19th century, when workers had won the right to an eight-hour work-day, in order to keep the „working masses” under control during non-work hours. The predominant forms of play, which were to become the cheapest principal spiritual food for workers, occupied most of their non-work time and as such were the „free time” imposed on workers by the bourgeoisie. Non-work time could not be allowed to become time for the development of workers’ self-conscious. It was, instead, to be the means by which they are drawn into the intellectual orbit of the bourgeoisie for the purposes of capital reproduction, which means it is consumer time. This is particularly important today when, due to the imposed dynamics of innovation necessary to survive in the market, instead of plants and equipment, man has become the most important „capital investment”. The force that now drives capitalism is the creative mind, suggesting the objective possibilities for a libertarian totalization of the world by a (liberated) mankind are created.
Apart from capitalist labor based on the principle of profit, history has known other, substantially different, images of labor. Labor has been seen as a means for the satisfaction of human needs, a realization of man’s erotic nature toward the attainment of a „higher purpose”. For Luther, labor is a „service to God”. Fourier insists on an anthropological starting point. The nature of labor is determined by man’s erotic nature: labor becomes a „festivity”. In Fromm, labor has a personal character and an artistic dimension. In Anti-Dühring, Engels writes about the „productive labor that, instead of being a means of subordination, becomes the means for human liberation, offering to each individual a chance to improve his faculties, both physical and mental, and apply them in all spheres, thus turning labor into a gratification instead of a burden”. (33) Marx criticizes externally imposed labor, where man is a hired hand, and advocates for the labor of free people as being „life’s prime want”. Writing on the subject of labor in a socialist society, Marx concludes: „Freedom in this field can only consist in socialized men, the associated producers, rationally regulating their interchange with Nature, bringing it under their common control, instead of being ruled by it as by the blind forces of Nature; and achieving this with the least expenditure of energy and under conditions most favorable to, and worthy of, their human nature. But it, nonetheless, still remains a realm of necessity. Beyond it begins that development of human energy which is an end in itself, the true realm of freedom, which, however, can blossom forth only with this realm of necessity as its basis. The shortening of the work-day is its basic prerequisite.“ (34) These ideas are characteristically based on an abstract anthropological picture of man as a reasonable, artistic and libertarian being. In light of the increasingly dramatic global decline, the nature of labor in the future will be conditioned by the consequences of the destructive practices of capitalism. In order to become „life’s prime want”, labor must first become an existential imperative. By destroying natural living conditions, capitalism has forced humanity to deal with the issues that threaten its survival. In other words, in order for man to realize his potential as a universal creative being of freedom, labor must first heal the consequences of capitalist „progress”. The existential challenges posed by capitalism as a destructive totalitarian order will condition the character of labor in the future, the character of man’s relation to nature and the character of his overall living and social engagement.
The true ideal of labor (in the sense of both praxis and poiesis) cannot be reached from a fragmentized world, but only from the assumption of man as a totalizing creative being, because labor appears as one of the specific forms in which man’s universal creative being is manifest. The idea that play is possible only in relation to work assumes that the starting point is play and not man as a playing being and the agent of the totalization (humanization) of social life and nature, including labor as an interpersonal relation and man’s self-creating activity. Instead of alienated labor and play, man should be the starting point, as a universal creative being who relates to labor in the entirety of his totalizing libertarian and life-creating practice. Then, it will not be possible to apply the mechanistic scheme of the „reciprocating effect of play on labor“, with man being solely a mediator between social spheres alienated from him. The elimination of the duality of work and play requires that man no longer be consider in the dual role of homo faber and homo ludens but becomes an emancipated homo libertas.
As for the abolition of labor, in analyzing the processes of automation, Marcuse refers to Marx’s view of labor: „In the technique of pacification, aesthetic categories would enter to the degree that the productive machinery is constructed with a view toward the free play of faculties. But against all ‘technological Eros’ and similar misconceptions, ‘labor cannot become play…’ Marx’s statement rigidly precludes all romantic interpretation of the ‘abolition of labor’. The idea of such a millennium is as ideological in advanced industrial civilization as it was in the Middle Ages, and perhaps even more so. For man’s struggle with Nature is increasingly a struggle with his society, whose powers over the individual become more ‘rational’ and therefore more necessary than ever before. However, while the realm of necessity continues, its organization with a view to qualitatively different ends would change not only the mode, but also the extent of socially necessary production. And this change in turn would affect the human agents of production and their needs…” (35) Man’s struggle with nature is no longer a „struggle with his society”, but, above all, it is a struggle with capitalism, where the ruling ratio is but a manifestation of the destructive irrationalism of capitalism. Also, alienated (destructive) labor does not result in free time, but in non-work time, which becomes consumer time, when man destroys goods in order to open up space in the market. Capitalism turns work and non-work time into time for the reproduction of the dominant relations and values, which means that work and „free“ time have become ways of a totalizing capitalistic temporalisation.
The development of automation is capitalism’s greatest contribution to the abolition of labor as an exhausting physical activity and to the creation of technical possibilities for a radical reduction of labor time. However, in the current state of capitalist reproduction, automation in itself, rather than doing away with it, makes repression more impersonal and efficient. The limitless potential of scientific and technological advances is not based on the limitless potential of the development of capitalism, but on the limitless potential of the development of man’s creative faculties. Capitalism has set those faculties into motion and has directed the effects of their evolution toward the destruction of life. The „power of technology” has become capitalistically degenerated man’s creative power. The real value of technological development is not in the creation of „material wealth”, but in the development of the creative powers that enable man to preserve and humanize life. In this context, genuine play becomes possible. Man’s playing being can be optimally developed only when work becomes a form of the free expression of man’s universal creative powers. Then play will not be opposed to work, as some activity compensating for a lack of humanity, but a creative activity complementary to work, the highest form of man’s spontaneous realization as a creative being. The more man is capable of freely expressing his creative personality through his labor, the more freely and completely will his playing being express itself in play – and this will be a new incentive to a humanistic innovation of the working process. The fact that work is a purposeful and rational activity does not mean that the way by which its goals are reached cannot contribute to man’s humanization, but that work should acquire an increasingly artistic character. Even work that involves the possibility of man’s creative expression can be playing, but it will not be as complete and spontaneous as play in which man fully affirms his playing being – as in the play of love making that is the creation of the human being in the purest sense.
A radical shortening of working time is inevitable if work is no longer the means for capitalist reproduction, but the means for developing and meeting genuine human needs. The establishment of production for human needs eliminates the production of the unnecessary and the superfluous and introduces the production of the necessary, the main qualities of which are functionality and endurance. It enables a radical shortening of the time necessary to produce the goods and services needed for a normal life. Man, as an emancipated creative being, and society, as the community of free people, are the sources of genuine human needs.
In view of capitalism becoming a totalitarian destructive order, labor can become an authentic creative activity only as part of man’s struggle for freedom and with the increased likelihood of humanity’s survival. With this in mind, Marx’s ideas in Capital about the freedom of labor in a socialist society gain their concrete emancipatory value. Capitalist development of the productive forces has been dilatory to the development of workers’ creative powers as well as to their ability to take control of social life. The emancipatory potential of the productive forces should be „shifted” from the sphere of material production to the sphere of a political practice that seeks to prevent the destruction of life and create a new world. The most important form of life-creating practice is no longer labor, but a struggle to eradicate the causes of the imminent destruction of life. Only through a political struggle against capitalism can workers acquire a modern class, with an emancipated and ecological self-consciousness, without its being reduced to an instrument for the destruction of humanity and nature. In capitalism, the worker putatively produces social goods. What he actually produces is the destruction of life. Contemporary agriculture does not produce healthy food, but poison in the form of agricultural products, while, at the same time, ruining the soil; medicine and pharmaceutics, rather than curing people, produce more sick people and genetically degenerate man; education does not create reasonable people, but specialty-idiots; sport does not lead to human achievements, but rather destroys man as a human and biological being; „information media” do not bother to provide information about the most important issues, but rather conceal the important data and create mass idiocy…
Contemporary capitalism has „unified” the existential and the essential spheres: the fight for freedom becomes an existential necessity, and the struggle for survival becomes the basic libertarian challenge. The spheres of labor, art and play are no longer the starting points for libertarian practice. Instead, the starting point is man as a totalizing life-creating being, who perceives his entire life at the existential-essential level, that is, in the context of the fight against capitalism, which has transformed natural laws, social institutions and man into a vehicle for the destruction of life. In that context, labor, through which man’s life-creative powers are being realized and a genuine human world created, becomes an essential activity. As the present day production of commodities (goods) concomitantly brings on the destruction of life, in that very same way, in a future society, production of commodities will mean production of healthy living conditions and the creation of a healthy man. In the future, the basic task of humanity will be to re-establish environmental balance and, thus, create living conditions in which man can survive. The development of productive forces, labor processes, themselves, leisure time activities – practically all of life – will be subordinated to it. The fight for survival has at once become the contemporary „realm of necessity”, and man will come out of it as a totalized life-creating being.
The development of man’s creative being
Creativity is the basis and the result of the historical development of society. It is the expression of human authenticity. Creativity is the common denominator of man’s general life-creating activism. Creative efforts are the most authentic form of realization of his life-creating energy. Unless it is realized in a humane way, man’s creative power can become a fatal anti-humane and anti-life force. In that context, the expression „evil genius” represents the glorification of creativity as a destructive power, which for a capitalistically degenerated man is the highest challenge to his life and values. By becoming a totalitarian destructive order and by depriving man of the possibility of realizing his creative potentials in everyday life and in a humane way, capitalism produced the most atrocious crimes. Capitalism deprives man’s creative power of its human dimension by giving it a technical character. Capitalism destroys the existing world through the creation of a technical world. Destruction through creation – this is the basis of the dialectics of capitalist progress.
The emergence of Nazi Germany is a historical example of how man, through his creative powers, can be integrated into an order that can turn those powers into a totalitarian criminal practice. One of the most important reasons why the Nazi regime had, up until its downfall, the support of the vast majority of Germans, is that the Nazis managed, through labor and other „constructive” activities, to „mobilize the masses” and thus make them identify with the ruling order. „The Father” of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, in praise of Hitler, pointed out that the greatest success of the Berlin Olympic Games (of 1936) is that the Nazis „managed to mobilize the entire German nation to participate in the preparations for the Berlin Olympic Games”. From there, Coubertin proclaimed Hitler „one of the greatest builders of modern time”. By engaging citizens in the „building” campaign, the Nazis managed to make the Germans perceive Fascist Germany as their own creation. What the Nazis managed to do with their „building” euphoria, contemporary capitalism has done with its „consumer” euphoria: it has integrated workers into its value and existential sphere and made them accomplices in global destruction.
As for Christianity, according to official Christian dogma, labor is a „curse”, and the worker is, accordingly, a cursed man. On the other hand, according to the Christian „doctrine of creation”, labor, as a creative activity, represents the very origin of the cosmic mystery from which life on the Earth derives. Through creative work, the life-creating potential of the cosmos has turned into man’s life-creative power. Creative work has brought about the emergence of the world, whereas the shaping of matter and its being brought to life through reason has enabled man to become man. „God” was originally humanized as the being that created the world through labor. „God” did not create the world by waving a magic wand or pronouncing magic words, but rather „He labored for six days” so hard that on the seventh day „He had to rest“. „God” is a laboring-creator and, consequently, all creation is a divine activity. It is the umbilical cord that links man to „Тhe Creator”. „The divine within man” is his ability to create the world through his creative activity and in his („divine“) image. In his endeavors to create a new world, man should take „God” as his model. By becoming a totalitarian order of destruction, capitalism has given faith in „God“ an existential dimension. Those who believe in „God” should insist that all living beings on Earth are „God’s creatures” and should fight to protect them, as such, from capitalist calamity. The idea of „the second coming of Jesus Christ” implies the struggle for survival of living beings. Where will Christ „return” if capitalism destroys life on the planet? Who will be there to greet him? The skeletons of the children scattered by desert storms and the frozen corpses of capitalist monsters?
Today, authentic creativity is defined against the growing probability of global destruction. Hence, its essence is life-creation. To create is the purpose of genuine human practice, and the creation of a humane world while increasing the certainty of its survival is its immediate and highest outcome. It is in this context that creative work should be perceived. It supersedes the classical division of labor and the fragmentized man reduced to a „specialized working force”. Instead of being reduced to the instrumentalized intellect, to a technological means for the production of „innovations” and capital accumulation, the creative mind should become the basis for creative work toward social integration. It involves not only the production of creative goods, but also of the visionary: the creation of humanum becomes the creation of novum and vice versa. Creative work involves realizing the human in a human way and providing livelihood through the cultivation of nature in a way that does not spoil it and that humanizes man’s natural being. A need for work becomes a need for the development of creative energies and interpersonal relations. It overcomes a stunted man, and it promotes the integration of humanity around a creative mind. Ultimately, labor becomes not just a way of providing existence, but also a way of enriching interpersonal relations, and it implies man’s return to his human essence. Creative work is the immediate form of the reproduction of society as a community of emancipated individuals with a creative and totalizing sociability. The results of creative work are immeasurable. They cannot be private property, but are the „property” of humankind. Creative work is by its nature limitless both in terms of the development of man’s creative powers and in terms of its influence through time and space. It does not involve only the creation of useful goods or of man as a universal creative being, but is also the creation of a human world.
With the introduction of automation, conditions have been established for eliminating repressive and degenerating labor, and for introducing creative work that offers opportunities for the development of man’s playing being and, thus, creating possibilities for the refinement of his natural being. On the basis of creative work, which can only come out of libertarian struggle and cannot be a mere consequence of the development of technical processes, a division of labor between intellectual and physical, as well as between „private” and „public” domains, that is to say, between the institutionalized political powers alienated from man – can eventually be abolished. When the rule of creative work is applied, the most important source of the split perception of the world as a „world of dread” (labor, suffering, misfortune) and a „world of joy” (imaginary „play”) disappears. Work becomes not only „life’s prime want” (Marx), but also the human’s prime want, while play ceases to be a compensatory activity and becomes the supreme form of man’s spontaneous creative self-realization and the supreme form of interpersonal intimacy. Only when work stops being an activity where man is alienated from himself as a creative and libertarian being; when the dichotomy between homo faber and homo ludens is resolved within a creative man; when creative work becomes the affirmation of human freedom – only then can man’s playing being be liberated from all forms of compulsions and only then does true play become possible. It is a matter of the „atonement” of the playing being, playing and play – in a free, spontaneous and creative endeavor, that is, of play as a realization of the playing disposition through a creative effort – through the comprehensive self-creation of man (human community). With creative work, man transforms not only his own existence, but at the same time he regenerates himself as a creative and social being. Creative collectivism represents the basis of playing collectivism.
Humanness is the genuine basis for the development of man’s creative being. Children should be encouraged with love, from their earliest years, to develop their creative being. Creativity is the basis of true sociability. An upbringing suffused with creativity is an upbringing for a creative society. Without humanness, creativity becomes a technical capability and, as such, a potential source of atrocious crimes. It is no accident that the most important creative power of capitalism is not poets, but the technological intelligentsia. It is about specialty-idiots deprived of a historical self-consciousness and a humanist vision of the future. The true result of creativity is not the creation of objects, but the development of humanness, which involves the development of the creator’s individuality and the begetting of a society as a brotherly community of free people. The principle of the aura has become the principle of the beacon: the emanation of humanness appears as a light indicating the true nature of the existing world – it awakens humanness and illuminates the road to the future.
Man cannot revitalize his genuine human needs from an abstract anthropological model of man as a universal creative being of freedom and the visionary consciousness derived from it. As a concrete human being, he can realize his genuine human needs only in relation to the lethal consequences of capitalist „progress”. More precisely, man can develop his genuine human needs and faculties only when he confronts the immediate existential threat posed by capitalism and when he restores that natural being crippled by capitalism. Man cannot become an authentic creator as long as he faces the (ever more certain) possibility of global annihilation. Only when he frees himself from the deadly capitalist embrace and heals the consequences of capitalist destruction will man be able to realize his universal creative being and transform life into a work of art.
Development of interpersonal relations
Historically perceived, every ruling order has sought to create man according to its own image. As far as capitalism is concerned, the period of initial capital accumulation was marked by diligence and thriftiness and a corresponding type of man. At the time of laisser-faire capitalism, man was reduced to a beast (homo homini lupus) and human society to a menagerie, where every man is an enemy to his fellow man (bellum omnium contra omnes). Liberal capitalism metastasized into monopolistic capitalism, ruled by the principle “Destroy the competition!”, where man is reduced to the impersonal storm-trooper of capitalist corporations. „Consumer society” represents the final form of capitalism’s denaturalization and dehumanization of the world. It is about the creation of a „technical civilization” and a corresponding man.
Humanness no longer finds its social and historical meaning only in opposition to non-freedom and injustice, but now also in opposing the destruction of life. To ensure the survival of humanity is a basic criterion of authentic humanness. Capitalism has, in fact, transformed all social institutions, unto the entirety of life, into means for the growth of profit, for the destruction of life. In order to survive, man can only ask for help from another man: sociability is an existential imperative. In the dialectic sense, man as a fulfilled social being becomes a totalizing life-creating being – in relation to capitalism as a totalizing order of destruction. In that context, one of Marx’s basic theses from Тhe Communist Manifesto, claiming that „the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all”, could be restated. Considering that the whole of humankind is threatened when the life of any man is threatened, one can posit that the survival of each represents a basic condition for the survival of all.
The body is the elementary form of the existence of man as a social being. Physical community is the elementary form of the existence of society as a human community. Man perceives his body as a human body and relates to it as man through other people. Human society is an organic community of people dominated by man’s movement towards another individual. An emancipated relation to the body, as immediate nature, is possible only on the basis of emancipated sociability. The dehumanization of the body is concurrently the destruction of society as the community of emancipated people. The cultivation of the body is not possible without the cultivation of man’s natural being, of interpersonal relations and of man, himself. The body at play is the highest form of the cultivated body. The liberation of his body is one of the most important ways by which man liberates his personality. Man’s historicity implies the historicity of the human body. Above all, it implies a body cultivated through humanity’s emancipatory (cultural and libertarian) legacy, and becoming an emancipated human body. The struggle for man’s freedom implies the struggle for a free body. Instead of a toiling, athletic, technical or consuming body, libertarian play will develop a creative body and an abundant mobility enabling the realization of man’s creative being. It is not only about the struggle to preserve humanity’s cultural heritage and man as a cultural being, but also about the struggle for man’s survival as a natural and playing being. Libertarian play should enable the revival and development of those emancipatory achievements of physical culture that had been destroyed by „technical civilization”. Instead naturalizing a body that has been reduced to a machine, man should seek to cultivate his natural being through the development of his playing being, through a creative art that develops man as a whole being (physical, intellectual, erotic, social…). Ultimately, authentic body movement is the most elementary form of the creation of society as a community of physically emancipated human beings. Society should become an organic community of emancipated bodies united in free and creative body movement.
Endeavoring to create genuine play is not an attempt to establish a separate social sphere existing „parallel“ to the „work-a-day world“ (like Fink’s „oasis of happiness”), where man futilely strives to fulfill his needs for play and express his energies therein, but is rather an attempt to create a truly human world where life itself represents the realization of man’s playing being. A critique of established play (world) is not the expression of a longing for „free play”, but of an aspiration for a life that is manifested in the fulfillment of the universal creative (playing) forces of man as an emancipated member of the human community. For libertarian physical culture play is not a separate area of life, but represents the entirety of human existence within which man strives to realize himself as a playing (libertarian/creative) being. Since living is carried on as a series of interpersonal relationships, we are concerned here with a totalizing man who interacts with others not from separate areas of his life (work, science, philosophy, play…) but from his fundamental humanness: man’s life-creating need for another human being represents the basis of man’s motion towards another individual. Life as play demands the resolution of man’s duality as both social being and „player”, insisting that man, as a concrete social being, realize his own playing being – the representation of his original social being. A sensibility for play is the supreme form of the realization of a sense of humanness, of man’s ultimate and most complex ability to experience another human being. It requires not only a creative body, but also a (life) creative mobility. The procreation of man as a playing being is the highest human act and requires the reproduction of the society as a community of free creative personalities. Man’s need for another human being, from whence derives man’s original playing motives towards another, represents a genuine scheme for play and the authentic basis for establishing a society as a human community: homo homini is a mirror of humanness.
The contemporary world is dominated by a vision of the future reduced to the development of „technical civilization”. It is interpersonal relations, rather thаn technology and material goods, that make up the human world. The most important humanist criterion for measuring a society’s development is the extent to which interpersonal relations have developed. The struggle for a new world should create the sort of relations that enable man to express his specific humanness in an authentic and complete way. The abundance of forms of play is a function of the abundance of interpersonal relations. The importance of playing is not in the production of objectivity or form, but in the immediate development of humanness. The abundance of forms of play indicates an affluence of genuine interpersonal relations. By means of playing, man’s creative being is fulfilled in such a way that a need for artistic expression, as a compensation for non-expressed (non-fulfilled) humanness, is superseded. From the sphere of production of works of art by isolated individuals, who displace their own desires for humanness through their works, play establishes the immediate relations between people, within which the wealth of man’s playing (creative) being is realized. Play, as an interpersonal relationship, requires an emancipated man for whom „the free development of each is a condition for the free development of all” (Marx). This does not refer to people who know what „freedom” signifies, but to those who experience other people as their kin, in every sense of the word. Play is the supreme form of expressing humanness – the utmost human act of which the immediate result is a contented man. The attempt to preserve „humanness” in the form of normative confinement, or in some artistic form, is an expression of no confidence in human beings and the possibility for human freedom. Replacing the „imperfect” normative conscious with a “perfect” one does not imply the creation of the „perfect” man. The normative sphere is not the one that must be changed. The sphere of fundamental interpersonal relations, that is, the ruling order, is what must be changed.
In a world of fulfilled humanness, it is futile to establish normative criteria upon which human existence is to be determined. In it, there is no longer a dualistic approach to man, where the real and the ideal worlds coexist, and a model of man – a projection of life alienated from man – has been eliminated. In a society where man is genuinely happy, it is absolute nonsense to determine the ideal of „happiness”: life itself becomes the actualization of the ideal of humanness. In the same way, the „aesthetic sphere”, which counters the un-aesthetic (ugly) world, is disappearing. Instead of striving for „perfection”, for a constrained world, the development of an unconstrained humanness becomes the supreme challenge. This requires the abolition of separate spheres, including the sphere within which the novum is sought. Homo homini represents the supreme challenge for libertarian play and is, as such, a mirror of humanness, and not an idealized (abstracted) „man” that represents an incarnation of the „future” society for which struggle is waged. So, not a yearning for „the future” as an abstraction, or even as a real utopian project confronting the existing world on an intellectual level and turning it into a certain normative idea of the future, but the life-creating need of one man for another, a necessity being developed in response to an increasingly dramatic destruction of life, becomes the basis for the creative life that will generate the future. In play, what man can be is being fulfilled: man’s becoming a human being is the criterion for genuine progress. Only when the development of his playing being becomes the „measure” of humanness will the real development of man’s universal creative powers take place – something that today we can only look forward to. The „tenseness” of which Marcuse speaks will always exist, because man will always strive to be more than he is, and will always have a critical/transformational-aspiring attitude towards the world in which he lives with an eye toward the creation of a new and better one. However, the nature of this „tenseness” will be conditioned by the fulfillment of two key preconditions of freedom: freedom from natural imminence (natural forces overcome) and freedom of man from man (abolition of class society and of exploitation). The third precondition for freedom still remains the liberation of man’s universal creative powers – which will be dominant in a future society and which requires humanization of nature and the development of interpersonal relations. „Tenseness” in play does not result from the development of the theoretical mind, but from man’s striving to realize his own freedom and his own creative universality – through the superseding of forms of play in which limitations imposed on man by the existing order are manifested. Aspiration towards play, in its essence, represents an impulse for the free expression of humanness; basically, it is the supreme form of determination for being man – the creation of humanum in an elemental form. Freedom, creativity, humanized naturalness and sociability – these are the characteristics of playing and of play. Man’s authentic nature is the genuine origin of authentic play.
In libertarian play, skill does not present itself as independent from man, from the (objective) social sphere, but rather as a form of specific (individual) human expression. Skill and the way of playing do not derive from play as a separate social sphere that possesses its own mechanics of development and its own rules, but from a spontaneous, creative relationship between individuals, where one man is another’s inspiration for play. In this context the playing skills developed in sport (giving up the ball, dribbling, etc.) can be productive. Genuine playing skills require the supersession of the technical sphere as an intermediary in fulfillment of man’s playing potential, in the context of a surmounting of institutional (repressive) intermediation between men. The range of creative spirituality, a wealth of sensuality and of interpersonal relations based upon solidarity and tolerance – which means a fullness of man’s playing being – this represents the basis of the playing skills and playing manner. Instead of „motion control technique”, body, glance and vocal conversation should be introduced… The acquiring of skills through (body) motion control requires the development of human powers, of a rich and unique individuality, and, thus, the satisfaction of individual predilections, and not the pushing (destroying) of humanness into the background and the adaptation of man into a „model citizen” mold. Development of playing skills becomes a function of the development of man’s universal creative (playing) powers. Genuine human motion is aimed at the great many impediments to man’s conquest of the existing world that restricts, shapes, and degrades him… This represents the basis for the development of the creative physical activity that finds its expression in physical movement. Health, spirituality, harmony of motion – all are comprised in physical mobility as the supreme spontaneous interaction of nerves, muscles, tendons, joints, heart, lungs… Genuine physical motion requires a genuine engagement of the organism. This does not merely mean „the exertion of a large number of muscles”, but rather the harmonious activity of the entire body, from whence derives the „softness” of motion which determines physical „elegance” or grace. The ideal of harmonious physical development corresponds to man’s creative universality.
Man’s prolific creative life should become the basis for the development of his playing being. No free and contented personality can exist if man does not liberate his body and his movements from the destructive capitalist civilization. The supremacy of libertarian and creative (playing) motion must be established, and this motion turned in favor of man and a living world (nature) that has no intermediary but represents man’s genuine necessity for others. Development of playing skills is manifested as openness to the future, as creation of novum, and not as „improvement” of a playing model composed of ritualized expressions of submissiveness to the ruling order, within which man is reduced to a mechanical doll. The most important task of libertarian play is to enable physical motion, through the development of man’s artistic being, to become the playing motion by means of which man will attain „unity” with himself as an whole creative being, and society will become a playing community. Schiller’s position that „education by means of art is education for art“ is one of the most significant postulates of libertarian play, because education by means of libertarian play is education for a free society.
Regarding the universal grammar of motion (skills), it provides the possibilities for establishing a comprehensive approach to physical exercise, while at the same time enabling the creation of an artificial body language that is more of a technical (strictly defined motions, repetition, „objectivity” of form being developed as an area alien to man, space defined in advance…) than a cultural nature. Instead of assigning a distinct model of body and motion, which is, in essence, of a repressive nature, a spontaneous motion that is expressive of man’s playing being should be sought: richness of motion is conditioned by richness of the playing personality and by the development of interpersonal relations.
Play is not an immediate relation of man with himself, but requires the existence of a playing community of emancipated, creative personalities, where the movement of one man towards another dominates, and where homo homini mirrors humanness. Therefore, the development of interpersonal relations is a conditio sine qua non of play. The playing disposition is potentially a human disposition that can be actualized exclusively within a community of free and creative personalities. Giving up the ball is not the act of throwing an object from one position to another, an action that has an „objective” form and a technical character, but is a humanized (by means of cultural heritage) gesture by one man towards another and, as such, establishes human community in an immediate form. This is what constitutes its concrete historical (social) nature and endows it with a „soul”. Play is a result but, at the same time, also a supreme spontaneous form of man’s self-creation and a supreme mode for forming society into a community of free people. The spontaneity of play requires an emancipated personality. If this is lacking, the effort to express uniqueness leads to extremism, narcissism, aggression, destruction… Richness of personality is a basic precondition for the richness of interpersonal relations and vice versa. Each new friendship opens up a new human space inside man, develops his sense of humanness, in the same way a developed aesthetic sense provides opportunity for distinction in music or painting, the experience and creation of an abundance of tones, forms and colors. It is essential to develop a communal spirit while developing, rather than destroying, individuality. The immediate goal of libertarian play is not to set records, improve playing techniques, develop play as a normative sphere and create a healthy body, but to create a healthy society within which creative personalities will be developed.
A distinction should be made between playing as fulfillment of man’s playing being (the act of playing) and play as behavior in accordance with imposed norms. Play as a normative constraint has no tendency towards the improvement of man and interpersonal relations, but tends to reduce („discipline”) him to the model of a usable citizen (subject). It is a matter of striving to preserve the ruling order and to reduce man to the „dimension” that corresponds to that order. The ruling historical forms of play are behavioral forms deprived of humane (playing) content, alienated from man. They are reduced to a behavioral model that is, in fact, a form of play in which the ruling relations are being manifested. Playing is reduced to an action that is most consistently mimics the consensus model of play, the rules of which should not be violated at any cost. Therefore, play’s „immutability“ (Huizinga) becomes its crucial feature. The ideal of „perfection”, by means of which „cultural” legitimacy and the infinity of the ruling forms of play are provided, is reduced to the complete submission of man to the rules of play, as well as to the imposed aesthetic pattern – which represents the „décor” of the ruling order. Man’s longing for another is mediated by relations that alienate man from others and reduce him to a role imposed on him from outside. A typical example is the „sport play”: it becomes a mechanism by which man is made to express the non-liberty of others. The intellectual sphere cannot be man’s compensation for the senseless life he lives; in the same way a love song cannot make up for a lack of human closeness. Instead of trying to define the concept of a genuine life, which is the typical reaction to a false life, a genuine human life must be lived.
In a repressive society play is a form of repressive normative confinement that impedes the fulfillment of man’s authentic playing being. Attempting to get through to the essence of humanness and to „catch” it by fixing human existence at the level of certain forms, structures, spiritual formations – inevitably leads to the preservation of the world in which such forms and structures are possible. The expression of play has to be of such a nature as to enable man to realize his own playing being. Genuine creativity does not go into the creation of playing forms, but into the enrichment of the human personality and development of interpersonal relations. Play is neither transcendental nor trans-subjective, but an immanent and inter-subjective phenomenon: it is an immediate interpersonal relation and, as such, represents the supreme form of establishing a society as a community of free persons, in a word, the creation of the humanum in the untainted sense. Commitment to play means a struggle for the fulfillment of man’s need and capability for play, and not just becoming skilled and imitating the imposed model of play – which appears as the „supreme human challenge”. Instead of play as a „cultural form” representing the basic possibility of playing, there is man as a cultural (playing) being: the authenticity of play is the expression of the authenticity of man. Play is not a criterion for determining a playing disposition and playing, reduced to the transcendental normative form, but the free realization of human playing (universally creative) powers. Play is the highest and the most immediate form of experiencing the world through creating it, which means that it represents the most immediate and the most authentic form of man’s becoming human. In genuine play the dualism between the „being” (Sein) and the „should” (Sollen) has been resolved. Nothing is before man, above man or outside to man. The so-called „universally human” does not exist outside of man anymore (as an imposed or transcendental sphere); it is no longer the image of „man” for which man longs and exclusively within which he can distinguish „his own (human) look” – but man as a free and dignified person becomes the creator and the „image” of humanness. Instead of being the model of „perfection”, the free man becomes a source of aesthetic inspiration: freedom is the substance of beauty. Schiller indicated the correct path: instinct for play is the instinct for freedom. Playing turns into the awakening of the lethargic (deterred) playing being, „enlivening” the senses, surmounting anxiety and shedding the snakeskin of the (petty) bourgeois. Instead of giving vent to the deterred being, spontaneity in play requires breaking through the barriers that constrain man. What develops the playing disposition is not play per se, but the humanness that develops as man faces the limitations, misfortunes, and challenges imposed by life. A rich creative life is the basic precondition for the development and improvement of the playing being. Genuine play extends the horizon of the freedom achieved, of the enthusiasm for life, and is the consummate expression of man’s life-creating powers. The joy of play comes from the contentment of an engagement with living; intimacy in play is possible only because of the closeness that comes from the process of struggle for a new world: man’s movement towards another is, at the same time, man’s movement towards new worlds. The actual outcome of playing is not play, but an enrichment of man’s spirit, emotions, sensuality, and the improvement of his interpersonal relations. The completed experience of humanness represents the „measure” of the richness of playing.
A distinction should be made between man as being at play, and man as playing being. In the first case he is the object, while play is the subject; in the second case he is the subject, and play is a result of the fulfillment of his playing being. Huizinga’s homo ludens is not man-as-player but man-as-toy of superhuman forces. It is exactly the same with antique and Christian man, as well as with Nietzsche’s Übermensch: he is a toy of cosmic forces. With Fink and Gadamer the notion of play is being used to reduce man to a phenomenological abstraction which is merely a masque behind which the concrete man, reduced to a toy of capitalism, is hiding. The emancipated playing personality requires a man as a unique life-creating being, and, as such, a creator of his world – and, thus, a self-creator. Through playing, the playing disposition turns into play that becomes the basis for identification of the limitations of playing and of the possibilities for its development. Instead of the development of play as a separate social area, we should be moving toward the development of the playing disposition „inside man” and, on that basis, toward establishing society as a playing community, where (potentially) each form of human activity is at the same time an expression of his playing being. Libertarian play attempts to eliminate the fragmented man that has been degraded by the requirements of a fragmented world, where a need for „synthesis” is reduced to the development of technical expressions that seek to impress with their lavish color, sound and form, and become a „compensation” for an increasingly impoverished humanness. It is a matter of superseding the world divided between „misfortune” and „happiness”, and a matter of „restoring” to man his powers from the alienated social spheres and of establishing the human Ego as an integral core of man’s relations toward the whole world. Along these lines, man should not seek to cultivate technique through art, but to cultivate man through the development of his universal creative being, thus abolishing technique as a mediation with nature that has been alienated from him, while art remains a separate social sphere. Instead of a relation between alienated social spheres, people should develop immediate relations as emancipated playing beings. The world as a work of art – this is the purpose of the struggle for the future.
Libertarian play rejects competition that is reduced to personal combat aimed at preserving and developing the ruling order, and advocates out-playing (similar to the „out-singing” common to traditional folk music) that, in essence, represents a struggle against the established order of destruction and for the development of man’s universal creative powers. In out-playing, man is inspired by others, suggesting that man’s movement toward another person is dominant in it – which is only possible because of man’s need for another individual. In this context Rousseau’s principle homo homini homo attains its true value. Out-playing requires striving to supersede what has already been achieved (for creation of a novum) through the development of interpersonal relations, and not through clashes between individuals based upon the Social Darwinist principle of bellum omnium contra omnes and the progressistic principle citius, altius, fortius. Its internal principles of domination and elimination have been abolished and replaced by the principles of tolerance and solidarity, and all that creates life is in opposition to whatever destroys life and restricts freedom. Instead of striving for record-breaking victory, out-playing calls for working to „enlarge” humanness and to create a new world. The key issue here is not how much, but by what means – where the starting point for defining humanness is not the repressive aesthetic stereotype that tends towards „perfection”, but man, himself. Development of the „quality” of play requires a development of rich individuality and of interpersonal relations. In this context, the skills are not manifested in relation to man as an independent („objectivized”) force (reduced to a dehumanized and denaturalized „playing technique“), but as a specific (individual) human expression. Out-playing in the elements of play, where the playing of one individual becomes the inspiration for the playing of another (like in traditional folk dances, jazz, love play…), creates the possibility for anyone freely to express his own playing being. Spontaneity, creativity, imagination – are all expressed as a playing uniqueness, as an originally human uniqueness.
Instead of the martial contests that dominate sport, life-creating competition should be introduced based upon out-playing, where there are no winners and no losers, and where a physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually enriched man is being created. It is not the intention of out-playing to eliminate the „weak” and celebrate the „strong”, but to yield up a humanized man, an individual who experiences himself in his own way, developing his own individuality. Instead of escaping into himself, man should aspire to enrichment the contents of interpersonal relations. Life as play means that creation of interpersonal relations is the supreme manifestation of the playing disposition: man’s social being becomes the fulfillment of his playing being. The joy of creative fulfillment, attaining true respect through companionship (playing), is demonstrated in relation to the „ecstasy”, which is, in the existing world, the highest expression of slavery’s passing for an illusionary „spontaneity”. Physical and mental activities, without which no play can exist, require creative efforts: creativity determines the rhythm of play. It is aimed at establishing and developing interpersonal relations and represents the basis for attaining (self) respect. Play turns into midwifery – delivering humanness through creative effort, that is, through the most immediate form of man’s self-creation. The specificity of play as creativity is, in its being, based on man’s spontaneous, unconditioned and unmediated need for another human being. Genuine play is based on the authentic love developed in creative (libertarian) exaltation, rather than the petty bourgeois love that comes from a place of struggle for money and power, where, instead of human symbols, status symbols incarnating the prevailing values are dominant. The development of a need for man, a true belief in man, the opening of new spaces of the mind, the development of a creative personality – these are all impulses toward genuine play. Homo homini homo becomes the supreme challenge, rather than a mere vehicle for the fulfillment of pathological „needs” imposed by capitalist civilization. Man’s experience always returns to an option for the new, the more complete, the more beautiful… Human intimacy becomes the source of life’s warmth. Cohabitation has no temporal and spatial limitations, only a human dimension. Instead of being an escape from nothingness, play becomes an eruption of unrestrained humanness.
Through playing, man’s external-reality the world is disappearing and becoming man’s self-existence. The variety of forms in the exterior world is no longer a challenge but is being replaced by the richness of the interior and the interpersonal… The world is what man carries inside himself and what he can establish together with other people. Authentic creativity is the „transformation” of the outer world into an experience of human intensity, happiness… Instead of the world of misfortune as a negative basis for play, which is, therefore, an expression of a hopeless attempt at escaping society, the world of happy people will become the grounds and inspiration for the development of a rich playing personality. Genuine play is not merely man’s supreme intellectual relation with the world; it does not only represent man’s self-knowledge and self-expression; but also his self-creation, and is, as such, the most comprehensive form of experiencing the world. No more will man live in a world he refers to as something (im)posed and extra-human (alien). Instead, he will perceive the world as his own creation, in a word, as his manifested (and not „infested”) humanness. This is not a question of a simulated totalizing of the world by means of simple subjectivism, as is the case with romanticism, but of totalizing the libertarian (creative) activism from which is „produced” a society that is a community of free people. Playing becomes the supreme form of man’s „appropriation” of the world, and eventually represents the „appropriation” of himself without „residue”. Man will not achieve „unity with the world“ through labor, technology, play, art… – but will make the world: the creation of the world will become man’s self-creation; „unity with the world” will become the „unity“ of man with another human being. The development of man as a universal free creative being and the advancement of interpersonal relations will become the „measure” of the development of the world. Life, itself, will become the supreme symbol of humanness.
In the capitalist world, play is a vehicle for sucking the repressed working „masses” into the spiritual orbit of the bourgeoisie and, so, has a „classless” determination – clearly expressed in the well-known maxim „sport has nothing to do with politics“. Libertarian play is not apolitical, but represents an inherent part of the political struggle against class society. According to Nietzsche, play is a vehicle for the creation of a „new aristocracy” in an exclusive organic (class) community. So at issue is the creation through play of an organic community of free creative personalities. The new society cannot be created solely by means of play but requires political struggle. However, there is no true political struggle without a concurrent struggle for the liberation and development of man’s playing being. Schiller’s fascination with play was directly encouraged by the French Revolution, which opened the gates to the new era. Likewise with Goethe, Klopstock, Fait… The struggle of the oppressed and the awakened and, in that context, the belief that man is capable of realizing his libertarian being, give meaning to play. Without the struggle for a free world, play remains an escapist and empty form.
In a humane society, every word will mirror the human. As the poet says:
„ … but one day where heart was, Sun will stand and human speech will no longer have words which poem would deny, everyone shall write poetry, truth will exist in all the words, in the places where poem is the most beautiful, the one who started it first will retreat, leaving the poem to the others…“ (Branko Miljković) Not only shall everyone write poetry, but everyone will sing poetry – each in his own way. Man will become a song-bird, and society will be a flock singing on its way to the future. Singing is the most authentic way for man to realize himself as a social being. It is genuine speech because it comes from the very essence of man as a human being. There is an old saying, „The one who sings does not mean evil!” Singing is the most authentic call to humanness. It is the highest form of a cultured nature and a cultivated sociability. Through singing, birds express their essence as natural beings; through singing, man expresses his nature as a cultivated, natural and human being. Just as tone is a sound cultivated in a human way (John Blacking), so is singing a tune cultivated in a human way. A singing speech is the most authentic way of producing a cultivated sociability and, as such, should become an integral part of pedagogical work with young people.
Interestingly, it did not occur to bourgeois anthropologists when considering man’s need and ability to sing, to proclaim man a song-bird, instead of a wolf – who does not sing, but howls, barks and growls. In ancient mythology, sirens gained control over mariners with their song, and Orpheus gives the world its true form and meaning through his singing, setting animals in motion and stopping the flow of rivers, bringing his beloved Eurydice back from the dead… Religious communities have long known the magic of singing. A prayer, when sung, penetrates deep into the human heart and becomes a way of rising above earthly life and spiritually connecting with what is beyond the phenomenal world. Even without words a song sends an intense message. It is the language of the emotions. Through singing, man emanates his humanness – it is the most authentic human way in which the aura of Walter Benjamin is created. Man’s emotional being, cultivated in aesthetics, enables man to grow his natural capabilities (vocal cords, nervous system…) and sing. Singing is the most authentic way of creating sociability. It abolishes all forms of man’s alienation and establishes an immediate relation between individuals at the level of their essence. An authentic song is the most efficient way to man’s purification and the most humane way to man’s cultivation.
The growing threat to the lives of more and more people is the impetus for humanity’s integrated fight against ecocidal capitalist barbarism. In the struggle for the preservation of life on Earth with the creation of a new world, humankind will be so united that it will obviate all forms of mediation that have kept man separated from his fellows and turned him into a „tool” of „superhuman” forces working for anti-human goals. Instead of moral principles, upon which a repressive normative consciousness is being developed and used for the preservation of the ruling order, man’s essential and existential need for another will become the motive for making interpersonal connections. Instead of living the life of the chosen, as with Nietzsche, the pinnacle of life will be to live as free, creative people; instead of the aristocracy as an organic community united by parasitism and by existential fear of the laboring many, the man’s overriding goal will be the formation of society as an organic community of free creative personalities; instead of having to hide the repressive normative confinement and the repressive aesthetic canons (by means of which the elitist class status is rationalized), man’s physical and spiritual need for another like being will predominate; instead of the child’s subordination to repressive normative stereotypes, that children be educated by allowing them to live as free creative personalities will become the basic pedagogical principle… It is an matter of superseding the „fragmentized” and attaining the „synthesized” man who represents a unity of Apollonian and Dionysian, that will not be, as with Nietzsche, a privilege of the „new nobility”, but a basic human right.
A humanizing relation to nature
Naturality is man’s relation to himself as an emancipated natural being; a relation between people as emancipated natural beings; and man’s relation to nature as a life-generating entirety.
Man’s body represents his immediate nature, his elementary and natural existence, and the basic possibility for his achieving unity with nature, his „anorganic body” (Marx). In modern society, the relation to the body is mediated by the capitalist universe (industrial mimesis, the principle of rationality and efficiency, destructive instrumentalism…), which appears in the form of a technical sphere, alienated from and dominant over man, an immediate living environment that imposes the logic of living. It is by way of this sphere that capital rules man and nature. Just as in antiquity man’s enslavement to the ruling order was rationalized by the polytheistic realm of the Olympic gods, so under capitalism is man become the slave of the ruling order by way of science and technology. The instrumentalization of the body is based on the capitalist division of labor, that is, on specialization and, thus, on man’s mutilation. Marx speaks of man being transformed into a freak by the processes of industrial production, brilliantly illustrated by Charlie Chaplin in his movie „Modern Times”. The capitalist form of alienated labor transforms the body into a technical (working) tool, and reduces the mind to a functionalized intelligence. A capitalistically degenerated body has dulled senses and diminished motor-skills. The dominant characteristics are that the bodily mechanism, the precision of movement, and aesthetics of the machine are deteriorated; there is hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other functions, creating mindless body movements; instead of the ancient principle of metron ariston, an aggressive muscular body prevails; the principle of optimum effort is replaced by the principle of „greater effort”; the prevailing character is (self) destructive, and the prevailing movement is adjusted to the capitalist rhythm of reproduction; etc. Thus, it is not about a humanization, but about a technologization of the body (nature). The capitalist way of industrial production has transformed man into a robotized freak. It can best be seen in sport, in the principle „Record-holders are born in test-tubes!”, where a robotized body is the highest aesthetic achievement.
Merleau-Ponty claims that the body is a „way of appropriating the world”, but the body of today’s man has already been appropriated by capitalism and corresponds to the capitalistic appropriation of nature: it has an instrumental and destructive (denaturalizing) character. The relation to the world through the body is the relation of a capitalistically degenerated body (man) to a capitalistically degenerated world. An unreflective „naïve touch on the world” (Merleau-Ponty) is determined even before birth – and it is not „naïve”. By the very nature of modern conception, more and more frequently carried out as a technical insemination of an ever-less fecund woman with increasingly weakened male seed, a being is created that, while still in his mother’s womb, is exposed to the lethal influences of the environment. Man is not „thrown into the world” (Heidegger), but is begotten in a moribund world and inevitably acquires the features of that world. Man „enters” a degenerated world as an already degenerated being: a woman’s delivery of a child is only the manifest form in which the world delivers a man. Subjectivity is essentially determined before man has become aware of himself as a personality, before he has become a self-conscious subject. It is precisely at the level of physicality or unreflective perception that a child unconsciously adopts the life-style and value-models that determine his future behavior: the body is the repository of the unconscious. The relation to the body in childhood largely conditions the development of the personality, affective nature, mind, behavior… The „embryology of the human mind” (Jean Piaget) is conditioned by physical development and the environment in which it occurs. The way in which a child is delivered, its first contact with the world, its mother, light, the environment in which it grows, the movements it masters, the things it touches, sounds, smells, food and the rhythm of feeding, physical contact, surroundings, ways of dressing, the air, diapers, water, the movements around it, a restricted living space, toys, the relationship of its parents, tension, the aggressiveness of the environment – the entire living environment has a specific character and predetermines man’s relation to the world. In a child’s growing there is no spontaneous behavior that represents the pulsing of the original rhythm of man’s natural being; the dominant rhythm is rather that of repression, which „draws” man into the existing world by suppressing and degenerating man’s original nature and turning him into a pathological person. Already, in early childhood, the seed of evil has been sown into man, and the way it will develop and manifest itself is a matter of social circumstances, actual life and personality. The so-called „aggressiveness”, which directly affects physical growth, does not stem from „man’s animal nature”, but is a pathological (psychological and physiological) reaction to the repression to which man is exposed from his earliest years. When it is „spontaneous”, it is a compensatory behavior that does not remove the causes of discontent, but exacerbates them.
The most immediate form of nature-humanizing is body-humanizing. To compete successfully with the capitalist world, dominated as it is by the dehumanization and denaturalization (robotization) of man, demands the humanization of man’s natural being, or in other words, the liberation of the body (nature) from the destructive ruling order, and the promotion of a humanized genuine natural motion for man, within which his libertarian creative essence is expressed. „Immersion in nature” is an illusory alternative to living in a „technical civilization“. What occurs here, in fact, is that man immerses himself in the existing world to a „lower“ level of civilization – the way it happens in the physical culture of the Far East where man, as an emancipated personality, who, as such, in his relation to the world, tends to create a new world in his own human (libertarian and creative) image, does not exist. „Naturalism” is a sidetrack in a struggle against the „technical world”. The humanization of natural motion and not the naturalization of technical motion is what we are talking about here. „The liberating transformation of nature” (Marcuse) requires artistic motion and, therefore, a developed artistic being. Playing a violin does not merely require attaining dexterity of the fingers, hands and arms (technique of motion), but also the development of an artistic (creative) being. In that sense, human dexterity requires a creative body: the development of an aesthetic attitude is the basis for the development of sense-based motion. It is a natural motion humanized by the emancipating legacy of human cultural and, thus, by his playing being, which manifests itself in relation to repressive (destructive) behavioral forms imposed by „technical civilization”. Play becomes the utmost form of man’s „embracing” the world and his most immediate relationship with his own natural being, as well as with nature in general. Man does not „return” to his natural being by means of play as a specific sphere, but by transforming his entire life into a humanized natural life: the „humanization of nature” is achieved through the totalization of the world by man’s playing being.
Creation must be distinguished from imitation. As with many other „naturalists”, Hebert rejected the emancipating legacy of physical culture and reduced body movement to an imitation of behavior, as in the case of the Brazilian Indians. Instead of humanizing the body and the body’s movement through the cultural (emancipating) heritage of modern society, „naturalizing” the body and its movement occurs through a re-introduction of „primitive” movements that represent spontaneous expressions of its original naturalness, and are not limited by any imposed stereotypes that sap man’s vitality – as happens with the aristocratic and Christian physical cultures. This also applies to copying the movements of the Indians, who are reduced to being „savages”, taken out of their original historical environment (living conditions, hunting, war, religion, customs…) and are, thus, deprived of their cultural contents, and reduced to technical movements that are assigned the dimension of „naturalness”. Man cannot attain his own naturalness by imitating the movements of animals or those of the natural environment, but by means of culture, in a word, by means of a creative activity in which man’s concrete historical (social) movement towards another is dominant. Instead of „melting into nature”, where man loses individuality, development of humanness, which corresponds to creative discontent, should be the goal. Instead of immersing oneself into the existing world, a new world must be created.
A distinction should be made between civilizing and cultivating the body; between disciplining and humanizing the body; between a repressive and a libertarian pedagogy… Man as a universally creative being „corresponds” to a creative body. Instead of acquiring skills for performing certain motions (exercises), to attain the ability to create motions, to give meaning to such a body and such abilities as enable the articulation of man’s creative (playing) personality – this is one of the most significant challenges for libertarian play. In playing, the dynamics of biological rhythm obtain a human and, consequently, a cultural, that is, a libertarian (visionary) dimension. The rhythm of motion becomes a spontaneous expression of man’s creative impulse and, as such, a non-replicable indicator of humanness, its „trademark”. In lieu of the ideals of strength, speed, rigor (which are oriented towards the creation of a liege/performer nature and consciousness that should eventually transform man into a „lethal flesh” and a vehicle for the destruction of life), the challenge should shift towards mobility, softness, coordination, self-control, intention, spirituality, tremulousness, movement towards man and nature, harmonious development of the entire body – which corresponds to man’s universal creative potentials and to his human (individual) complexity. Creative mobility is a basic aspect of a healthy body. It requires surpassing the artistic motion as a way of producing artistic forms and sensuous effects (object, color, sound…), and affirming the genuine playing motion that represents the creation of humanness in an immediate form. Physical movement becomes an expression of man’s playing nature, meaning that its essence consists of man’s movement towards another. Man’s relationship with his own body, as an immediate nature, is possible exclusively through another human being.
Development of a universal creative body with a richness of motion is the basic condition for the development of mind, man’s libertarian and creative personality – which is one of the key objectives of libertarian play. This represents an essential difference between physical culture and sport, the latter requiring an ever-earlier specialization that disfigures not only the body, but also the mind. Rousseau was one of those who perceived the existence of a conditioning link between the development of sensory-based movement skills and the intellect. In his developmental psychology, Jean Piaget has indicated the fact that the achievement of sensory-based movement is the first stage of the development of the intellect: based on concrete, action-related operations, the body attains knowledge that becomes the foundation for all cognitive development. From this it can be concluded that stereotypical models of motion limit the development of intellect. Imposing a definite behavioral model is, at the same time, the infliction of a definite model for thinking (a stereotyping and maiming of the mind), as well as for interpersonal relations, ideas of the world and man’s place in the world. This is most clearly expressed in Pierre de Coubertin’s „utilitarian pedagogy”, which is a modern Procrustean bed. It should not be forgotten that the „physical education” dominant in the 20th century was born of the grayness of the military gymnasiums and was, thus, limited to mere physical drills. Libertarian play is an integral part of the overall culture of man as a universal freedom-creating being. There is no cultivated body without a cultured man – there is no free movement without a free man. The intention of libertarian play is not to limit and deform man’s instincts through aggressive exercise, nor to create escape-valves for the release of these mutilated energies as violent and destructive behavior, but to help these in-born tendencies attain their refined expression while respecting man’s individual personality. It is, therefore, not a matter of developing a model for (physical) movement that is to be imposed on man, but to encourage the creation of motions that enable each individual to express his own specific and unique personality.
Man’s need for another is the basic quality of his life-creating being. Therefore, man’s motion towards another, as a humanized motion of one living being towards another, is the essential motion of man as a specific natural being and, as such, is the basis for life-creation. Eros, as a synthesized life-creating energy, is the most important impulse motivating one being towards another, and from which life as play can be developed. Love play between a man and woman is the supreme form of play, where the unrestrained playing being is expressed, in other words: „production” of humanness in its most immediate form. It is the supreme form of the humanization of man’s natural being. Life-creativeness is the essence of erotic union, with erotic play as its nature and basis. Without it, enjoyment of the erotic relationship is merely compensational and of an adaptive nature. Already in antiquity, with homosexual (pedophilic) relations, a neutering of man’s (society’s) life-creating ability took place with the segregation of the erotic from natural reproduction (fecundity). In the homosexual relationship, Eros loses its life-creative propensity and turns into an anti-existential principle. Narcissistic and homosexual Eros clashes with man’s natural life-creativeness and, therefore, eliminates the likelihood of the erotic producing a humanized natural relationship. The option of love play as a life-creating play between genders is disappearing, and the life-creating sexual relation is being reduced to a technical fertilization of women – to a mechanical production of children. Giving birth and raising children is the most original form of man’s life-creating practice. Without birth and child rearing, all other forms of life-creating practice are worthless and meaningless.
Man’s natural being is the basis for the development of genuine humanness. One of the basic criteria for determining the correctness of human practice is whether it humanizes man’s natural being. A humanizing relation to nature results in the development of man’s playing being and of society as a community of emancipated playing beings. Considering the consequences of capitalism, man’s primary objective must be to make himself natural and to humanize himself, and thus to establish the basis for his evolution as a humanized natural being. The creation of a specific human cosmos by enlivening the life-creating potential of matter, a living nature, society and man, himself – is the highest achievement of man’s life-creating practice. Communism is a social order that will enable limitless space for man’s evolution as a humanized natural being. Nature will no longer be an obstacle, but will become a challenge for man to create his own world. And man will no longer be the enemy of his fellows, but will become his support in the fight for a humane world.
Man experiences nature in one way as its sheer organic part, and in another way as an emancipated human being. By man’s becoming an authentic creative being, nature ceases to be a mere living environment and the object of labor. A genuine humanization of nature implies such a transformation of nature through a humanized creative practice as that nature becomes for man an existential, social, historical, aesthetic, libertarian, visionary space… Man’s humanizing creative practice should enable nature to realize its life-creating potential. In this way, it becomes a specific cosmos. The most important form of a life-creating practice is the one that eradicates the causes of the destruction of life on the Earth. The abolition of capitalism, as a totalitarian destructive order, and the establishment of a rational and humanized relation to nature is the basic precondition for re-establishing the ecological balance and restoring man’s natural being. The fight for the world’s humanization is at once the fight for nature’s naturalization and cultivation. Neither humanness nor naturalness can be realized through an escape to nature, but only through a fight against the ever more threatening ruling order. Without a fight against capitalism, naturalist movements become a sidetrack in the fight for humanity’s survival.
By destroying natural and humane living space, capitalism creates a technical living space. Just as the capitalist time is a dead time, so is the capitalist living space a dead space. It is about a privatization and instrumentalization of natural and social space, man’s creative faculties, conquered natural forces and matter’s emancipatory potential for the purpose of ensuring the development of capitalism – at the cost of destroying humanity’s emancipatory potential and nature as a life-creating whole. The Eiffel Tower was a precursor of the capitalist degeneration of man’s living space. It symbolizes the victory of technical civilization over the emancipatory legacy of national cultures, imposing a capitalist vision of the future. It removed Notre Dame and Montmartre, the Louvre, bridges over the Seine and all that represents French cultural heritage from the horizon of Paris. Modern architecture, like traditional architecture, has a political (ideological) nature and represents the creation of a living space suited to the nature of contemporary capitalism. It has become the means for the capitalist degeneration of humanity’s living environment. Architectural visions are not humanist or natural, but technocratic in character. They are the products of a technically totalized world. Contemporary capitalism is dominated by a dynamic rather than a static monumentality, as the expression of capitalism’s „progressive” spirit, the strivings of capitalism to transform the world through new building materials and techniques. „Unusual” building forms, with a technical character and spectacular dimension, replace those forms that express a humanist vision of the world and a humanized nature.
Manhattan is the most authentic example of a capitalistically degenerated living space. Monumental constructions, artificial materials, unnatural forms, a „defeat” of gravity… „Progress“ is indicated by the height of the buildings and number of technical innovations. Just as the ruling oligarchies during the Middle Ages sought to build as higher buildings of worship as possible and, thereby, to demonstrate their earthly power and acquire supremacy, so today the most powerful capitalist clans seek to build as higher skyscrapers as possible and thus demonstrate their power and sustainability of the ruling order. Just as the monumental places of worship were not spiritual but rather of a political or propaganda nature, the monumental capitalist „towers” are not of a humanist but an economic and advertising nature. The power of capital must have an impressive dimension and dominate the world and the people. The ever-higher buildings are an expression of the megalomaniacal ambitions of powerful capitalists and their mercenary architects. They are built for the „business elite” that rules the world and are symbols of an order that „supersedes“ a natural and humane world. They indicate the exclusivity and self-sufficiency of the ruling class. Automation, controlled climates, pools, gardens… All that is built into a virtual world towering above the „ordinary“ world, turned by capitalism into a wasteland. From the point of view of an „ordinary” citizen, the buildings resemble space ships ready to leave the Earth. And their stadiums are temples to capitalism meant to oppose man’s historical and live-creating being. A stadium symbolizes man’s complete enclosure in a capitalist space, where time is not life’s natural and historical measurement, but a capitalist deathwatch.
From being a mere matter and object of transformation, nature became an aesthetic phenomenon once man developed his aesthetic being, once he became capable of perceiving and experiencing nature as a life-creating whole. By acquiring an awareness of the aesthetic, man gained the potential to perceive nature’s original beauty. So through man as an emancipated natural being, nature, likewise, acquired aesthetic self-consciousness: nature in itself has become nature for itself. What makes nature beautiful is nature’s life-creating force. Nature contains an endless number of life-creating forms that are man’s potential aesthetic inspiration and have a symbolic dimension only if man perceives and experiences nature as a life-creating whole. Only as an emancipated life-creating being can man absorb the life-creating beauty of nature. It enables man to humanize himself by attuning his senses, his visionary imagination, by coming to love life… Man’s physical and mental health is immediately conditioned by living in a healthy and humanized natural environment: homo sanus in natura sana. The concept of beauty can today be appreciated only in relation to a degenerated world, in relation to the destructive ugliness produced by capitalism. What is beautiful is what gives forth a life-creating force that enables humanity to survive and create a humane world. The art that creates „beautiful sights” by turning global death into an aesthetic challenge has an escapist and anti-existential nature. A spectacular aestheticization of the world through increasingly sophisticated technical means conceals the nature of a dominant destroying nothingness. Capitalism destroys natural and human beauty by destroying the life-creative quality in nature and man. The more dazzling the artificial light of the „technical world“, the duller the life-creating light emitted by man as a human and natural being.
Fromm’s idea of „biophilia“ is of an abstract character. A love of the living nature is a love of people as human, as emancipated, natural beings. What makes man interested in the survival of life is his need for another human being. If man does not feel that he belongs to the human community, if he is deprived of any sense of humanness, the issue of humanity’s survival becomes for him a mere technical matter. Immediate experience of another’s misfortune sets off man’s humanness, and a fight for social justice and freedom enables him to realize his human being. When man is no longer moved by another’s misery, he has ceased to be a man. A capitalistically degenerated man, rather than feeling a need for other people, regards them as enemies or as a means to the fulfillment of his private interests and pathological needs. This conditions his relation to nature: he is not capable of experiencing nature as a life-generating whole, but regards it as an object of exploitation. For him, a forest is not an organic part of the living world and, as such, an irreplaceable condition for his own survival as well as that of all other living creatures, it is trees, wood, timber that will bring him profit. „Everything has a price!” – this is the essence of capitalist „biophilia”.
The numerous militant movements for the „protection of animals” are based on a petty bourgeois need to escape loneliness and the responsibility for the destruction of the world. „Humanness” is demonstrated by a concern for stray dogs and cats, while support for a capitalist order that with increasing intensity destroys life on the Earth and condemns tens of thousands of children daily to death from hunger or disease is never questioned. Who in the West cares about the fact that in Vietnam, following years of American carpet bombing with the herbicide „Agent Orange“, hundreds of thousands of grotesquely malformed children were born and tens of thousands more died in infancy? Who in the West cares about the children of Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, Libya, Afghanistan, who are dying from leukemia and other malignant diseases caused by America’s „humanitarian interventions”? Man should not be inspired to fight for the survival of a living world by some abstract love for living things, but by the real suffering of a growing number of people and the increasing threat to the survival of humanity. A fight to eradicate the causes of global destruction, that is to say a fight against capitalism, is the way a love for the living world should be expressed.
Historically perceived, man was becoming human primarily through confrontations with existential challenges. The nature of those challenges conditioned the way they were resolved and, so, had an immediate impact on the development of man. The existential challenge capitalism poses to man is the greatest and the most dramatic he has ever faced. Never in history has man been faced with a task like that of the preservation of life on the planet and the prevention of the annihilation of humankind. It is a challenge that surpasses the classical humanist anthropologic definition of man as a universal creative being of freedom. A specificity of capitalism as an order of destruction conditions both the specific nature of the man that defends it, and the specific nature of the man who attempts to oppose it. Capitalism generates a destructive man who becomes a vehicle for the development of capitalism, that is, for the destruction of life. Concurrently, capitalism produces the increasingly militant anti-capitalist man who identifies the meaning of life in destroying capitalism and preserving life on Earth through the creation of a new world. An increasingly intensive destruction of life results in a more and more ruthless conflict between these two types of man, which actually describes the contemporary class division of the world: a class of destructive capitalist fanatics versus a class of reasonable and uncompromising combatants for the survival of humankind. The turning of capitalism into a totalitarian destructive order conditions man’s becoming a totalizing life-creating being – a being for whom the emancipatory (libertarian, cultural) heritage of humankind represents the basis for a critical self-consciousness and a creative (life-creating) will. In the struggle for the preservation of life and the creation of a new world, man will become a true man. He is not some mythological man who, like a present-day Phoenix, rises from the ashes of capitalism, his wings unharmed. He is a concrete man who experiences the destruction of nature with his entire being, for he represents its organic part. Therefore, the creation of the new world requires man’s (self-)purification and (self-)development – man is becoming a humanized natural (life-creating) being. In place of that cosmic energy (Nietzsche) that is a mere metaphor for monopoly capitalism’s driving impulse, the life-creating forces of humankind will flow. „The will to power” will turn into a desire for freedom and survival.
Translated from Serbian by Vesna Todorović Petrović
English translation supervision Mick Collins