«Physical Culture»


One of the most fatal characteristics of the philosophy of sport is that it completely devalues the movements of physical culture which developed on the best humanistic traditions of the ancient physical culture, Christianity, Renaissance, Enlightenment, popular cultures, French Revolution, emancipatory legacy of bourgeois society – and which are opposed to sport. Sports theoreticians cover the area of physical culture by the term «sport» in order to conceal the character of sport as a concrete historical phenomenon and prevent the creation of the foundations for establishing a critical distance to sport from the aspect of a (genuine) physical culture. In that they are similar to Coubertin, for whom sport is physical culture in the real sense of that word, while between sport and physical culture only theoretical differences can be made.

«Physical culture» offers the possibility of a principally different relation to man than that offered by sport and «physical education». It indicates that culture is the source of the relation to the body and that bodily movement is a natural movement refined by spirit. Sport is marked by the movement of one man against another man, the absolutized principle of performance, the principle of «greater effort», industrial mimesis and militaristic drill; physical culture is marked by the movement of one man towards another, development of the cultural being, principle of «optimum effort» (in that context, a difference between tiredness and exhaustion is made), physical movement as a way of cultivating man’s natural being… It is about the development of Eros, imagination, the esthetic, the visionary, spontaneity, tolerance, solidarity – which is opposed to the production of robotized beasts who fight for survival, as is the case in sport. Physical culture is the most complex pedagogical field as it involves the development of man as a whole – his physical, cultural and social being. It is no accident that physical culture was attached such importance in the ancient paideia, which had a holistic approach to man. Contrary to the modern bourgeois pedagogy, where there is no conflict between physical culture and sport, in the ancient Greece, with the appearance of democracy, the aristocratically based Olympic agonistics was questioned from the point of view of the citizen as a political and rational being.

The insistence on a cultural (historical) character of the body and bodily movement is based on the attempt to overcome the dualism between the body and the spirit which is characteristic of «physical education». From this follows that «physical culture» is acceptable only conditionally – if it involves the development of man’s spiritual and intellectual powers, cultivation of the body and development of interpersonal relations. This is not to say that culture is quite another world, independent of the ruling relations and values, but that culture, unlike sport, offers a possibility of stepping out of the existing world, which means that it has a liberating and creative potential. As a cultural sphere, physical culture essentially contains this possibility – which need not be realized, and this applies to culture in general. The bourgeois (as well as the so called «socialistic») «physical culture», which reached its climax in barracks and «jamborees», is a bodily drill which destroys personality and produces a submissive conscious. It is no accident that «physical culture» in schools has not had its theoretical part, which means that the young have not been given an opportunity to realize the true nature of sport and physical exercises and develop a conscious relation to their own body as the integral part of their personality. Hence the need to emphasize the difference between repressive and libertarian physical culture which seeks to realize it’s cultural, which means its libertarian and creative potential. Libertarian physical culture is opposed to a given model of the body, as the criterion for determining «beauty» and other bodily (human) qualities, like “Barbie” and «sporting body», which are contemporary (global) forms of a fascistic approach to the body (man) according to the model of the destructive «consumer society». Libertarian physical culture involves a socially engaged man, and thus is a political activity par excellence. It seeks, on the grounds of a libertarian creative mind, to resist the attempts at the creation of an atomized society, where man is to another man but a means for satisfying his private (pathological) interests, and to resist the «technical civilization» based on the absolutized principle of (quantifying) performance. The road to a genuine physical culture leads through the liberation of the body and movement and, ultimately, through the liberation of man from the bonds of the repressive and destructive capitalist civilization. Instead of fighting for a new «model» of physical culture, we should fight for a new society with versatile and creative people, who will have a completely developed creative body; instead of «acquiring the habit» of behaving in a particular way, which involves the uncritical adoption of an a priori normative model, we should develop the need of one man for another and, in that context, a developed playing personality. Physical culture is the supreme creative manifestation of man as a playing being according to the principle «everyone according to his own abilities» (Marx). Hence it’s most important part is to get acquainted with the nature of exercises and plays: how they can affect man’s character and conscious, what social (interpersonal) relations they produce, what is their true nature… It involves the development of a creative activism aimed at the development of interpersonal relations, and not the development of a dehumanized productivistic activism and the spirit of competition and hatred, as is the case in sport, on the basis of which various forms of social pathology are being developed. The establishment of brotherly relations between people makes repressive institutions, which find their justification in man’s «selfish and aggressive nature», meaningless, and these are in fact the characteristics of a «model citizen» ascribed to man by the ruling ideology as his anthropological determination. The level of the development of capitalist society is measured by numerous forms of a commercialized bodily activism; the level of the development of a humane society is measured by various forms of a free (creative) bodily activism. Essentially, libertarian physical culture means elevating the entire life-creating capacities of a society to a higher level.

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