DESTRUCTION OF THE BODY
The body is the basic vessel of human existence in the world and man’s basic connection to the world. It is not a natural given or a phenomenon sui generis. It is rather the product of the historical development of society. Each civilization creates a specific body and a specific relation to the body and, thus, a specific man. Even in Ancient Greece, people realized that the production of a particular body also implies the production of a particular type of man (masters and slaves). Class and racial physiognomic is given great importance in bourgeois anthropology and concentrated on particularly by bourgeois Hellenic scholars who idealized Ancient Greece. At the same time, man does not experience his body immediately but through a concrete totality of the epoch in which he lives and the prevailing ideological “model” of the body, as a concrete human (social) being.
The answer to the question of what is the human body in the contemporary world can be reached only in the context of the prevailing tendency of capitalist development. Capitalism produces an individual who is in functional unity with it and who enables its development, above all, by producing an appropriate body. The prevailing relation to the body is mediated by “technical civilization”. In other words, the body is reduced to being a peculiar machine, while bodily movement is reduced to the mechanics of motion. Technical functionality and efficiency become the basic features of the capitalist body. Basically, a dominant instrumental and exploitative relation to nature is fundamental to the relation to the human body. Rather than being a harmonious part of the living environment that, as such, should be respected, the body is reduced to being the object of transformation and an instrument for the attainment of inhuman goals. In “consumer society”, consumption has become the dominant form of bodily activity. The body has become part of the consumer way of life, and it responds to the demands of consumer civilization. The relation to the body has an instrumental character: it ceases to be an integral part of the human being and becomes a tool for the reproduction of the ruling order. The body is completely commercialized as the “greatest” achievement of the capitalist degeneration of man. Putatively, man is the “owner” of his body. In reality, he treats his body in the same way capitalism treats him as a man: by dehumanizing man, capitalism dehumanized man’s relation to his own body. It is a capitalistically created narcissism with an instrumental, destructive and spectacular nature.
The capitalist totalization of the world involves the capitalist totalization of the body, its deformation and the creation of a chronically ill man. The prevailing rhythm is that of capitalist reproduction, which destroys the biological rhythm of life – without which there is no healthy man. Not only is man guided by consumption as his moral challenge, but his body cannot survive without an increasing number of devices and substances, along with an artificial environment. Man’s survival is more and more mediated by artificial means that turn him into an invalid. The body has lost its natural needs: it can no longer process natural food, and it lives on and through medication. Man’s entire life is in “treatment”, meant ultimately to enable him to carry on in the functional harmony with the ruling order. The devolution of the body clearly shows that a developing “standard of consumption” brings on an erosion of the living standard. Labor, livelihood, movement, bio-rhythms, diet, sleep, living space as a modern ghetto (cities), air, water, food, tobacco, drugs, sugary beverages (including alcohol), ways of life that destroy man’s natural being, his night life, forced pace and ways of eating – almost all life-styles lead to man’s degeneration. Cholesterol, cellulite, diabetes, cancer, coronary diseases, neurasthenia, depression, AIDS, etc., are not “modern diseases”, but are rather a capitalist form of man’s physical and mental degeneration. It is about man’s transformation by capitalism, which deprives him of his natural and human life-creating quality and turns him into a plastic and technological “being”. At the same time, rather than being naturally conditioned and having a natural character, an increasing number of potential diseases are the products of laboratories and have a genocidal and for-profit character. Capitalism produces diseases that are then “cured” through man’s transformation into a profit-generating patient, that is, a chronic patient. The propaganda machine and his social position determine the “physical needs” of contemporary man. Man, who constantly devours larger and larger amounts of lower and lower quality food, is the most important strategic target of the food industry. This industry is producing a more and more gravely sick man, who is, of course, “taken in charge” by the medical and pharmaceutical industry. The consumption of larger and larger quantities of food does not reflect a need of the body; it is intended to compensate for a frustrated humanity. The same goes for smoking, drug taking, alcoholism, consumer physical exercise like aerobics, body-building and similar activities. Capitalism turns the consequences of the destruction of man and nature into the sources of profit and invents increasingly dangerous and destructive mechanisms. The human body becomes a universal destructive machine and a universal waste bin meant to swallow the ever-more poisonous products of capitalist civilization. At the same time, existential anxiety, daily humiliations, loneliness and hopelessness affect man’s mental health and further exacerbate his physical degeneration.
As part of the capitalistically degenerated world, man’s body has become the vehicle for the destruction of naturality and humanity and, as such, the enemy of nature and man. Capitalism has transformed man into a destructive labor force and, at the same time, into a consumer set to devour the greatest number of products in the least possible time. The nature of these commodities, the use-value of which continually decreases from the perspective of man as a biological and human being, and the nature of man’s relationship to these goods and services, which is nothing more than to consume them, inevitably result in man’s degeneration as a biological and human being. The consumer way of life produces a denaturalized and dehumanized consumer body and a consumer mentality, and, ultimately, a consumer view of the world and a consumer (destructive) imagination. The constant focusing on devouring food distracts the mind from crucial existential and essential issues and affects visionary consciousness. Dreams about food (just like dreams about luxury cars, swimming pools, houses, yachts… – which constantly feed the capitalist value horizon manifested by an increasingly aggressive entertainment industry) replace dreams about the world of free people. At the same time, the forms of escapism created by the entertainment industry destroy man’s need for intellectual activities. Capitalism mentally mutilates people by destroying their need for science, philosophy, poetry, music, enlightened conversation… There exists but one area of interest: money and the political power it buys, concerns which ultimately serve to rationalize the existing order that enables the accumulation of wealth through the plundering of workers and the destruction of the environment.