KategorijaA New World is Possible

Life as Play


In ancient Greece, the entire life of the Hellenic people was filled with agonistic activities performed as a ritual service. It is a similar case with Christianity and other “great” religions:  life is of a liturgical nature. In capitalism, the spirit of victory, based upon Social Darwinism and progressism (elimination by means of victory that attains a better result/record), represents a totalizing power that conditions man’s life, the nature of the body, of motion. The “sportivization” of society is a process by which the total domination of man by the ruling order is established.

Not only play, but also the very approach to it is being dehumanized. “Bewilderment” dominates this development, for play as a form is being mediated by dehumanized and denaturalized spheres to such an extent that it is becoming a vehicle for the degeneration and destruction of humanness. Time, space, technical means… have been instrumentalized in it. Man is always present in a defined (assigned) time and space where the dynamics of the destruction of humanness (life) become more and more intense behind a masque of “elegance”, “clarity”, “functionality”, “efficiency”, “precision”, “harmony”, etc., in a word, through a spectacular act that makes the basic values of the ruling order non-esthetic (non-erotic). Where, in the contemporary world, the authentic position of humanness is given, man appears as a fly in the spider’s web. Aspiring towards genuine play is not a theoretical project, but an issue of concrete political struggle. It requires the development of critical conscious about the existing world – perception of the objective possibilities for creation of a new world and for development of the playing self-conscious as a libertarian and creative self-conscious; demystification of the present serves as an area where people will discover joy; development of interpersonal relations, of the artistic disposition, orientation towards nature, towards the emancipating heritage of humankind, development of the visionary conscious… Instead of play as a form, the objective aspired to should be liberation of man’s playing being; instead of a tendency towards escapism and “distraction”, the key motive of the player should be man’s life-creating necessity for another human being. Development of spontaneity does not require development of a normative conscious, but rather the development of comprehensive humanness. Liberation of man’s playing being is the most important immediate task of libertarian play. This represents its specificity, as a form of libertarian struggle, compared to other forms of struggle. Freedom is a reasonable desire, and the awareness of a necessity is an indispensable, but insufficient, precondition for freedom. Genuine freedom does not consist of the possibility of choice between what man can and cannot do, but between what he can – and wants or does not want to do. It is not based upon knowledge of the world, but upon the experience of man.

The endeavour to create genuine play is not an expression of the hope to establish a separate social sphere that exists “parallel” to the “world of worry” (like Fink’s “oasis of happiness”), where man will futilely try to fulfil his playing needs and powers, but is rather an expression of the endeavour 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 an aspiration for “free play”, but of an aspiration for life that manifests itself as the fulfilment of the universal creative (playing) powers 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 living within which man strives to realize himself as a playing (libertarian/creative) being. Since living is understood as a series of interpersonal relationships, we are referring here to a totalizing man who interacts with other people proceeding not from separate areas of life (work, science, philosophy, play…) but from fundamental humanness: man’s life-creating need for another human being represents the basis of man’s motion towards another man. Life as play requires the abolishment of man’s duality as a social being and a “player”, which means that man, as a concrete social being, has realized his own playing being – which represents his original social being. The playing sensitivity is the supreme form of the realization of the sense of humanness, that is, man’s ultimate and most complex ability to experience another human being. It requires not only a creative body, but also a (life) creative motion. The self-production of man as a playing being is the highest human act and requires the (self) production of the society as a community of free creative personalities. Man’s need for another human being, from where derives man’s original playing motion towards another man, represents a genuine motif for play and the authentic basis for establishing of a society as a human community: homo homini is a mirror of humanness.

The significance of playing is not in the production of objectiveness or form, but in the immediate development of humanness. The abundance of playing forms becomes the opulence of genuine interpersonal relations. By means of playing man’s creative being is fulfiled in such a way that a need for artistic expression, as a compensation for non-expressed (non-fulfiled) humanness, is superseded. From the sphere of production of works of art by isolated individuals, who discharge their own desire for humanness through their works, play establishes the immediate relations between people, within which the opulence of man’s playing (creative) being is realized. Play, as an interpersonal relationship, requires an emancipated man for whom “the freedom of each represents the basic precondition for the freedom of all” (Marx). This does not refer to people who know what “freedom” signifies, but to those who experience other people as their brothers, in every sense of the word. Play is the supreme form of performing humanness – the utmost human act of which the immediate result is a contented man. The attempt to preserve “humanness” in a form of normative confinement, or artistic form, is an expression of disbelief that freedom is possible at all. Replacement of 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 should be changed. The sphere of fundamental interpersonal relations, that is, the ruling order, should be changed.

In the world that turned out to be fulfiled humanness it is futile to establish normative criteria upon which human existence is to be determined. In it, there is no more dualism of approach to man in which the real and the ideal world are contained, which means that a model of man – a projection of life alienated from man, has been abolished. In a society where man is genuinely happy it is absolute nonsense to determine the ideal of “happiness”: life itself becomes the fruition of the ideal of humanness. In the same way, the “esthetic sphere” which counters the non-esthetic (ugly) world, is being abolished. Instead of the endeavour for “perfection”, that is for a constrained world, development of unconstrained humanness becomes the supreme challenge. This requires the abolition of separate spheres, including the sphere within which the novum is sought. For libertarian play homo homini represents the supreme challenge 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. Therefore, not an aspiration towards “the future” as an abstraction, not even as a real utopian project that confronts the existing world on an intellectual level and turns into a certain normative idea of the future, but the life-creating necessity of one man for another man, that is being developed as a response to an increasingly dramatic destruction of life, becomes the basis of creative life that represents the creation of the future. In play, what man can be is being fulfiled: man’s becoming a human being is the criterion of 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 occur – the one that today we can merely foretell. The “tenseness” of which Marcuse speaks, will always exist, for man will always strive to be more than he is, for he will always have a critical/transformation-aspiring attitude towards the world in which he lives trying to create a new, better one. However, the nature of this “tenseness” will be conditioned by fulfilment 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, liberation of man’s universal creative powers – which will dominate in the future society and which requires humanization of nature and development of interpersonal relations. “Tenseness” in play does not result from the development of the theoretical mind, but from man’s endeavour 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 endeavour for the free expression of humanness; basically, it is the supreme form of determination for being man – creation of humanum in an elemental form. Freedom, creativity, humanized naturalness and sociability – these are the characteristics of playing, in a word of playing and of play. Man’s authentic nature is a genuine origin of authentic play.

With the introduction of automation, conditions are being established for abolishing repressive and degenerating work-related activities, and for instituting creative work that offers opportunities for the development of man’s playing being and, thus, possibilities for refinement of man’s natural being. On the basis of creative work, which can only result from libertarian struggle, and cannot represent a mere consequence of the development of technical processes, division of work between intellectual and physical, as well “private” and “public” zoning, in a word, the institutionalized political powers alienated from man – can be eventually abolished. When the rule of creative work is instated the most important causation for dual perception of the world as the “world of worries” (labour, suffering, misfortune), and the “world of happiness” (illusory “play”) disappears. Work becomes not only the “primary life necessity” (Marx), but also the primary human necessity, and 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 closeness. Only when work stops being an activity where man is alienated from himself as a creative and libertarian being; when the dualism of homo faber and homo ludens is abolished with a creative man; when creative work becomes affirmation of human freedom: only then can man’s playing being be liberated from all forms of compulsions – only then does true play become possible. It is an issue of the attainment of “unity” between the playing being, playing and play – in a free, spontaneous and creative endeavour, that is, of play as a realization of the playing disposition through a creative effort – through comprehensive self-creation of man (human community). With creative work man renders not only his own existence, but at the same time generates himself as a creative and social being. Creative collectivism represents the basis of playing collectivism.

Instead of the martial contests that dominate sport, life-creating competition should be introduced, based upon outplaying, where there are no winners and no vanquished, and where a physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually enriched man is being created. A consequence of outplaying is not the removal of the “weak” and the triumph of the “strong”, but a humanized man, an individual who experiences his own self in his own way, developing his own individuality. Instead of immerging inside himself, man should aspire towards the enrichment of the contents of interpersonal relations. This is exactly where the apex of the genuine life creating practice that generates a society as a human community is being manifested – with man’s turning into a human being. Life as play means that creation of interpersonal relations is the supreme manifestation of the playing disposition: man’s social being becomes his fulfiled playing being. Play represents the making of the society as a playing community in the most immediate sense, which means that living becomes an artistic act, and life a work of art. The joy of creative fulfilment, attaining true respect through companionship (playing) is manifested in an attitude towards “ecstasy” which is, in the existing world, the supreme form of exhibition of slavery as an imitation of “spontaneity”. Physical and spiritual activism, without which no play exists, requires creative effort: creative activism 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 midwife skills – delivering humanness through creative effort, that is, through the most immediate form of man’s self-creation. The specificity of play as creativeness is in its being based upon man’s spontaneous, unconditioned and unmediated necessity for another human being. Genuine play is based upon authentic love developed in a creative (libertarian) exaltation, unlike petit bourgeois love which originates in the context of struggle for money and power where, rather than human symbols, status symbols which incarnate prevailing values are dominant.  The development of a necessity for man, true belief in man, opening new spiritual spaces, development of creative personality – these are all inducements for genuine play. Homo homini becomes the supreme challenge, instead of being reduced to a vehicle for fulfilment of pathological “needs” imposed by capitalist civilization. The experiencing of man always reappears as an option of the new, more complete, more beautiful… Human nearness becomes the source of life’s warmth. Co-living has no temporal and spatial dimension, only a human one. Instead of being an escape from nothingness, play becomes an eruption of unrestrained humanness.

Through playing, the world is being abolished as outer-human reality and becomes man’s self-existence. The variety of the outer world forms is not a challenge anymore but is being replaced by the opulence of the inner, the interpersonal… The world is what man carries inside himself and what he can establish together with other people. Authentic creativeness is “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 to escape from the society, the world of happy people will become the ground 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 outer-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 an issue of simulated totalizing of the world by means of simple subjectivism, as is the case with romanticism, but of totalizing the libertarian (creative) activism of which the main “product” is a society as a community of free people. Playing becomes the supreme form of “appropriation” of the world by man, which eventually represents the “appropriation” of himself with “no residue”. Man will not attain “unity” with the world through labour, technique, play, art… – but will make the world: creation of the world will become man’s self-creation; “unity with the world” will become “unity” of man with another human being. The development of man as a universal free creative being and the enhancement of interpersonal relations will become the “measure” of development of the world. Life itself will become the supreme symbol of humanness.

In the world of freedom the real value will be attributed to poetic expression, which will also imply the body-talk. In that sense, not language, but play becomes the supreme form of establishing human society. Instead of living the life of the chosen, as it is with Nietzsche, the acme of life will represent living life as free, creative people; instead of the aristocratic class as an organic community united by parasitism and by existential fear of the labourers, the supreme challenge will be the society as an organic community of free creative personalities; instead of the need to suppress repressive normative confinement and the repressive esthetic canons (by means of which the elitist class status is determined), man’s need for the other as a physical and spiritual being will dominate; instead of the child’s subordination to repressive normative stereotypes, the child’s education by means of living life as free creative personalities will become the basic pedagogical principle… It is an issue of superseding the “fragmentized” and of attaining the “synthetic” man who represents a unity of Apollonian and Dionysian, that will not represent a privilege of the “new nobility”, as it is with Nietzsche, but the basic human right.

Man has nowhere to return to. He has to build the home that he never really possessed. In pre-Socratic times man did not exist in his own world, but in the world of gods who temporarily assigned him their own powers so that he could entertain them. In contrast to antiquity, where man could not be at one with being, in the world of today possibilities exist for man to reach being. Man’s becoming a human being and the creation of being represent the same process: man’s self-creation becomes the self-creation of being. True history will begin when man’s playing being becomes the indisputable source of his own life. In the beginning there was play.

Play as a Cosmic Phenomenon


Play is a specific cosmic phenomenon. It is the most authentic human way of creating the human world, which means creating the new universe. In the act of playing, the process of cosmic life-creation attains a new quality – in which the specificity of man as a cosmic being is expressed. In ancient Greece play is the basic cosmic phenomenon of a divine (metaphoric) nature and, as such, represents a symbolic incarnation of the ruling relations and values. It is the most original way for man to integrate into the cosmic order. Man is the toy of the gods, and the world is their playground: the divine necessity for playing ensures survival of the human world and provides it with a meaning. Modern man is an emancipated cosmic being and, as such, the “nucleus” of the new universe. When man becomes a self-conscious libertarian being, play stops being a privilege of the gods and the instrument for devaluing man, and turns into man’s self-creation and the creation of the human universe. The essence of play is not determinism, which is fatalist in nature, but freedom.

A stance regarding the universe is a projection of the stance regarding the earthly living environment. In the contemporary world the prevailing stance regarding space (universe) is based upon the expansionist spirit of capitalism. By means of instrumentalized science and technique a “break” into the universe is going on in order to “conquer” it. Capitalistically degenerated science has the same stance regarding the universe as it has regarding the Earth: the universe has been reduced to an object of exploitation. The position of the “extraterrestrials” towards the Earth is a projection of capitalistically degenerated man’s attitude towards the universe. Technique, based upon the quantity principle that corresponds to the ruling principle of capitalist reproduction (augmenting of profit), turns into the destruction of human life-creativeness as a specific form of cosmic life-creativeness. “Conquering the universe” becomes a vehicle for obtaining a legitimacy in the endeavour to supersede “traditional humankind” and to create the new (master) race of “cyborgs” that will be able to “compete” with the “intelligent machines” and to “conquer” the universe. At the same time, the myth of the “conquest of the universe” is being used for preservation of the myth of the “progressive nature” of capitalism, which is being identified with the conquest, and for creation of an illusion that technical development would ensure the survival of mankind. The way the Europeans were “discovering” the new continents, contemporary man will be “discovering the new worlds and populating them”. The Earth is not man’s cosmic home that needs to be preserved; it turns into a springboard for the “conquest of space”. The “conquest of space” project is based upon an assertion that the Earth will “certainly collapse”, which contributes to a fatalistic surrender to destructive capitalist craving. The possibility that capitalism will destroy life on Earth is far more certain than the possibility that life on Earth will disappear – in five or ten million years. It is an issue that opens, by way of a cosmologic concept, the possibility of establishing a critical distance from the ruling order of destruction and towards creation of the new world: the stance towards the universe should function as a defence of life on Earth and of the development of humanness. The issue of the survival of humankind will be resolved on Earth, and not in space. Instead of “conquering of space” a clash with capitalism must take place in order to prevent the destruction of life on Earth.

The prevailing position towards reality, dictated by dehumanized science and technique, does not permit man to comprehend the essence of his own human existence, and, therefore, the essence of the world he lives in, and the essence of the universe. Ancient peoples were closer to the cosmic essence of man than the contemporary (petit) bourgeois, for they were, in spite of ignorance, prejudices, mythical conscious – guided by symbols of a holistic nature: for them the issue of the universe was the issue of man. Contemporary man possesses an incomparably wider knowledge, however, the way and manner of attaining this knowledge deprive him of comprehensive humanness without which he can neither ask the right questions nor provide the right answers. The more man knows about the universe, the more remote is the possibility for him to experience his own cosmic essence. Instead of human questions, man asks technical ones imposed on him by capitalistically degenerated science and technique – which mutilate man and annihilate the possibility for him to ask the significant human questions. Also, “primitive” man was conscious of what freedom and slavery were, in contrast to the “average” modern (petit) bourgeois who, being stuck in the nothingness of “consumer society” and the television screen that offers compensation in the form of an illusory world, has lost the notion of freedom. Capitalism deprives man of his natural cultural being and transforms him into a technical vehicle for the employment of assets – a walking mechanical corpse.

Development of man as a cosmic being is not possible on the basis of (mechanical) cosmic rules or by means of technical control of time and space, for they transform man into a mechanical (lifeless) “being”, but only by means of a quality that provides a possibility for a “union” with the universe – in which the cosmic essence of man is included. The universe that is being created by man is not comparable with the vastness of the cosmos. It has a qualitative, not a quantitative, dimension. Man’s attitude towards the universe, which means his attitude towards himself as a cosmic being, can not be established by means of technique, but by means of the esthetic that can enable man to supersede the quantitative dimension of the universe and reach (his own) cosmic essence. It is an issue of relating to the universe by means of symbols that enable man, as a life-creating being, to experience the universe. By means of those symbols the phenomenal form of the universe can be superseded and his very essence can be reached – by means of which a dualism of the earthly and the cosmic existence of man is being abolished. In that context a possibility is being created for the notion of “God” as the one, which supersedes the infinite quantum of the universe (the endless lot), where it is not an issue of “God” as a superhuman force, but of “God” as a constantly new, increasingly splendid product of the creative powers of man that represents a symbolic incarnation of the “unity” of man with his own cosmic essence. “God” becomes man’s host in his own cosmic home. A new clarification of the notion of “God the Son” is needed: man’s life-creating power represents an autonomous cosmic force that enables man – as a unique libertarian being – to be a creator of his own, which means of the new universe.

Man’s “conquest of outer space” is being achieved through development of his playing being. This is an issue of a specific human cosmic dimension – creative freedom and sociable disposition – which means, it is of a new cosmic quality upon which space and time that have no quantitative dimension, are based. In the physical universe, the passage of mechanical time is measured by movement through space; in the human universe, the passage of historical time is measured by the development of man’s creative powers, and eventually by his freedom. The physical universe is regulated by relations between celestial bodies (particles); the human universe is regulated by relations between human beings. Physical time is characterized by quantitative (linear) temporality; historical time is characterized by qualitative changes. Human existence represents opposition to the cosmic laws of motion which destroy quality and reduce everything to the lowest (energy related) level (entropy). The cosmic life-creativeness is fatalistic: all that is being originated eventually disappears. Human life-creativeness is productive: all that man creates becomes a (potential) basis for creation of the new. Solely man is capable of creating something new, of being the demiurge of the new world.

Man will not “enter” the universe through a hole bored by a science alienated from him. Telescopes and space sounds do not direct man towards his cosmic being; play does: the development of man’s playing being is a path that leads towards the development of his cosmic being. The key is not in the “conquest” of cosmic vastness, but in the development of spiritual richness and of interpersonal relations. It is an issue of “transformation” of the outer quantity into a human quality, of a “metamorphosis” of physical space through a widening of human space, which is not attained by means of technique, but by means of play. Cosmic space merely appears to be open. The openness of cosmic space is preconditioned by the openness of man, which means by the development of his creative powers. Fullness of man’s creative being is what fills the cosmic vastness. A thought, a song, a painting, an embrace – tell more about the essence of man as a specific cosmic being than do all the “space programs” combined. Finally, man’s stance towards the universe is a depiction of his stance towards his own self. The issue of infinity should be resolved in a manner that provides possibilities for man’s self-confirmation as a life-creating being. Man’s unlimited creative powers are the “measure” of infinity: the enhancement of humanness represents widening of the boundaries of the new universe. The essence of the physical universe is determinism; the essence of the human universe is freedom. By means of freedom infinity attains an authentic, in a word, a human dimension. The occurrence of man is the only truly cosmic occurrence; man’s becoming human is the only truly cosmic process.

Play as a Form


Philosophy of play does not make a clear distinction between man’s playing nature, playing and play. Play is a form in which playing occurs and, as such, the way of manifesting man’s playing being. A distinction should be made between playing as fulfilment of man’s playing being (playing act) and play as behaviour in accordance with the imposed norms. Play as a normative constraint has no tendency towards the improvement of man and of interpersonal relations, but tends to reduce (“discipline”) him to the model of a usable citizen (subject). It is a matter of endeavouring to preserve the ruling order and to reduce man to the “dimension” which corresponds to that order. The ruling historical forms of play are behavioural forms deprived of humane (playing) contents, alienated from man. They are reduced to a behavioural model that is in fact a form of play in which the ruling relations are being manifested. Playing is reduced to the endeavour most consistently to imitate the assigned model of play, of which the rules should not be violated at any cost. Therefore, the play’s “unchangeableness” becomes its crucial feature. The ideal of “perfection”, by means of which “cultural” legitimacy and 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 esthetic pattern – which represents the “stage set” of the ruling order. Man’s longing for another man is being mediated by relations that estrange man from other human beings and reduce him to the role imposed on him. A typical example is the “sport play”: it becomes a mechanism by means of which man is made to express other men’s non-liberty. The intellectual sphere cannot be man’s compensation for the senseless life he lives; in the same way the love song cannot be a substitute for a lack of human closeness. Instead of endeavouring to define the notion of genuine life, which always occurs as a response to false life, the genuine human life should be lived.

Libertarian play does not strive for the creation of new forms of play, in a word, for assigning a normative constraint, but for the development of man’s playing being. Specificity and irreplicability, which derive from the specificity and irreplicability of man as a creative personality, dominate. Instead of the development of play as a separate social area, we should have a propensity for development of the playing disposition “inside man” and, on that basis, for establishing society as a playing community, where (potentially) each form of human activity represents at the same time a form of expression of his playing being. Libertarian play endeavours to annul the fragmented man that has been decomposed in accordance with the requirements of the fragmented world, where the requirement of “synthesis” is reduced to the development of technical expressions that should impress with a lavishness of colour, sound and form and become a “compensation” for an increasingly impoverished humanness. It is a matter of superseding the world divided into the world of “misfortune” and the world of “happiness”, and a matter of “restitution” of man’s powers from alienated social spheres and of establishing the human Ego as an integral source of man’s relations towards the world as whole.

The form libertarian play does not represent a limitation, but an opening of possibilities for development of man’s playing nature and in that sense only one of the expressions of his creative nature: the development of forms of play is an expression of the development of man’s creative (playing) powers. It is not an issue of the form as an imposed pattern of behaviour, and in that sense an ideal of “perfection”, but of the form as a spontaneous and non-replicable expression of the specific moment in the manifestation of man as playing being which is symbolic of the libertarian and visionary. The “encounter” of men by means of the pure (esthetic) forms is a clash between soap bubbles. In a repressive society play as a form represents a repressive normative confinement that impedes the fulfilment of man’s authentic playing being. The endeavour 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 towards 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 for the creation of playing forms, but for the enrichment of the human personality and development of interpersonal relations. Play is neither a transcendental nor a 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 fulfilment of man’s necessities and abilities 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 “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 supreme 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 of the “being” (Sein) and the “ought” (Sollen) has been dissolved. Nothing is earlier than man, above man or exterior to man. The so called “universally human” does not exist outside of man any more (as an imposed or transcendental sphere); it is no longer the image of the “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 the “perfection” model, the free man becomes a source of the esthetic 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 (petit) 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 humanness that develops as man faces limitations, misfortune, and challenges imposed by life. A rich creative life is the basic precondition for the development and enhancement of the playing being. Genuine play is the expression of an extended horizon of the freedom achieved, an expression of enthusiasm for life, and the supreme form of manifestation of man’s life-creating powers. Enjoyment in play derives from contentment with the engagement of life; interpersonal closeness in play is possible exclusively because of the closeness acquired in the process of struggle for a new world: man’s motion towards another man at the same time represents man’s motion towards new worlds. The actual result of playing is not play, but man enriched with spirit, emotions, sensuality, and enhanced interpersonal relations. The completed experience of humanness represents the “measure” of the richness of playing.

Libertarian play rejects a competition reduced to combat between people aimed at preservation and development of the ruling order, and advocates outplaying (similar to “outsinging” typical of traditional folk music) that in essence represents struggle against the established order of destruction and development of man’s universal creative powers. In outplaying, man represents another man’s inspiration, which means that man’s motion towards another man is dominant in it – which is possible exclusively based on man’s need for another man. In this context Rousseau’s principle homo homini homo est attains its true value. Outplaying requires endeavouring to supersede what has already been achieved (for creation of the novum) through the development of interpersonal relations, and not through clashes between people based upon the Social Darwinist principle bellum omnium contra omnes and the progressistic principle citius, altius, fortius. The principles of domination and elimination have been abolished within it and replaced by the principles of tolerance and solidarity, and all that creates life opposes whatever destroys life and restricts freedom. Instead of striving for victory and records, outplaying calls for an attempt 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 esthetic stereotype that tends towards “perfection”, but man himself. Development of the “quality” of play requires development of rich individuality and of interpersonal relations. In this context, the skills are not manifested in relation to man as an independent (“objectivized”) power (reduced to a dehumanized and denaturalized “playing technique”), but as specific (individual) human expression. Outplaying in the elements of play, where playing of one individual represents inspiration for the playing of another (like in traditional folk dances, jazz, love play…) creates the possibility for everyone freely to express his own playing being. Spontaneity, creativity, imagination – are expressions of the playing uniqueness, as an originally human uniqueness.

A distinction should be made between man as play being, and man as playing being. In the first case he represents an object, while play is the subject; in the second case he is the subject, and play is a result of the fulfilment of his playing being. Huizinga’s homo ludens is not man-player but man-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 the 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 of its development.

In the capitalist world play is a vehicle for entangling the repressed working “masses” into the spiritual orbit of the bourgeoisie and, therefore, attains a “classless” determination – which is manifested in the well-known maxim “sport has nothing to do with politics”. Libertarian play is not apolitical, but represents an inherent part of political struggle against class society. As regards Nietzsche, he perceives in play a vehicle for the creation of a “new aristocracy” in an exclusive organic (class) community. It is, instead, an issue of creating an organic community of free creative personalities by means of play. The new society cannot be created through play but through political struggle, however, there is no true political struggle if, at the same time, it does not represent a 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 for the new era. Likewise with Goethe, Klopstock, Fait… The struggle of the oppressed and the awakened and, in that context, the belief in man and in his ability to realize his libertarian being, provides play with a meaning. Without the struggle for the free world play becomes escapist and an empty form.



With the expulsion of man from nature and the creation of a surrogate “natural space” in the form of cities, halls, stadiums, shopping malls – physical movement loses the uniqueness and steadiness that it can have solely within a natural environment, and becomes a phenomenal form of the ruling relations. Libertarian play inclines towards a genuine natural space. Instead of creating special spaces for physical exercise, the way it used to be in antiquity (stadium, hippodrome, gymnasium, palaestra) which are assigned the status of cult sites where, through physical agonic activities, men tend to achieve a harmony with the cosmic order and to elicit divine erotic enchantment – nature itself should become a cult site where the life-creating cult would be worshiped through life-creating activism that enhances the natural through development of man’s playing being. Genuine naturalness, in a word, authentic motion, is possible exclusively in nature, which for man represents not only a physical, but also a historical, esthetical, living, and visionary space – which means that nature is the sole space in which man can experience the wholeness of his own natural, human, and historical existence. Nature “enters” man by means of motion. When man steps into the water and starts swimming, this experience not only sets the basis for other physical activities, but it also influences the development of his senses and opens new spiritual spaces – which becomes the basis for the development of the creative imagination; his perception of the possible is being completed through his ability to move; he actively realizes a contact with nature and atones with his own natural being. Richness of the inner life-creating impulses can be experienced and refined in the space where life thrives in innumerable and astonishing forms. Senses react to the swinging of branches, the quivering of leaves, to the richness of sounds, scents, colours… When he finds himself in a glade full of flowers or by a mountain stream, man finds out that he is fascinated. A spontaneous, authentic human reaction: fascination – reason accepts with surprise and unease. Man does not disappear within the richness of natural forms and motions, the way it happens to the animal; instead, he becomes a human being. His rapport with nature occurs through personal experience that becomes a creative and motivating inspiration contributing to the further enrichment of his personality. Man’s need for free physical activism should be also comprehended as a need to go beyond the environment in which he, as a man, is encumbered. In that sense man perceives a “return to nature” as existence within a space that is neither given nor defined with artificial boundaries, but in which he can, over and over again, create new horizons by means of his own physical and spiritual activity. For man, natural space is at the same time spiritual space; physical motion is at the same time spiritual motion. When human sight perceives mountaintops protruding through the mist, this represents a symbolic “fusion” with the world that exists “beyond”, and that becomes an imaginary space of desired humanness – the vision of which is an inspiration for the creation of the new world, and not for escape from the existing one. At the same time, a sip of fresh mountain water develops man’s longing for a life in which he would exist at one with nature and, thus, with his own natural being. Nature as life-creating life, the thriving of life in an extreme variety of forms and the unity of all forms of life – induces man to create life. Hilarity, fascination, exaltedness – these are all erotic reactions stimulated by a stay in nature. When man’s senses are better developed he can experience nature more intensively, absorb its scents, sounds, colours, motions, merge with nature more completely and more intensively and be nourished by its power. Being in unity with nature means being in unity with one’s own primary life-creating powers. Replenishing the power of nature represents an inspiration for creative activism, not for the adaptation of man to the established (life) rhythm. Living nature “never repeats, but renews”. However, it does not represent a mere surrender to the rhythm of life which then acquires an abstract, mystical aspect: man is the creator of his own world. Only when fear of nature (through mastering its rules) is eliminated and the esthetic sense (playing being) developed, does man attain a chance to experience the richness of natural forms as creative, libertarian inspiration. In authentic play man comprehends and experiences himself as the utmost form of life-creating natural being.

With animals adaptive-existential activity dominates. In the course of the struggle for survival, a qualitative jump occurred in the development of living creatures, in the form of man: with the development of instincts, senses, physical mobility, and of the intellect, the development of creative powers took place – which became the basis for the “detachment” of man from nature and for setting up an active (change-aspiring) relationship with nature. While creating a civilization man has not developed his own playing nature “inherited from animals”, but has developed his own specific playing being which continuously “breaks through” the limits imposed on him, in the form of an established “play”, by the ruling order. There is no continuity of animal play in the play of man. A similarity of behaviour between some animal species and man does exist – based on which Huizinga made the wrong conclusions. Through playing, man does not confirm his animal nature, but his human nature – becomes man (unique personality), while the animal through “playing” becomes an animal (a member of the species). Engendering (one’s own) freedom is the essence of man’s play, unlike animal play where natural exigency is being reproduced. Creation of play as a symbolic form, which as such represents the highest point of humanness, provides human play with a special aspect. Apart from this, unlike animal play, human play tends towards creation of new worlds, which means that it has a visionary disposition. There is no “tenseness” between animal and civilization, upon which philosophy of play insists; this “tenseness” exists between man’s libertarian and creative nature and the repressive (destructive) capitalist civilization.

Man’s body represents his immediate nature, his elementary and natural existence, and the basic possibility for his achieving a unity with nature, his “un-organic body” (Marx). A distinction should be made between civilizing and cultivating the body; between disciplining and humanizing the body; between the repressive and the libertarian pedagogy… In sport the body is civilized “by means of discipline”; libertarian physical culture endeavours to humanize the body by means of cultivation: free physical development requires free development of the personality. In sport, the body is moulded, which means it is systematically mutilated in order to achieve the imposed prototype that incarnates the principle upon which the ruling order is based. Sport and physical exercise do not just nurture the body – they nurture man. A relationship to the body is in effect a relationship of man to other people, to the world and his own self as a man. Man as a universally creative being “corresponds” to a creative body. Instead of acquiring skills for performing certain motions (exercises), attaining abilities to create motions, the meaning of such a body and of such abilities as enable the articulation of a creative (playing) personality of man – this represents one of the most significant challenges for libertarian play. In playing, the dynamics of biological rhythm obtain a human, and consequently, cultural, that is, libertarian (visionary) dimension. The rhythm of motion becomes a spontaneous expression of man’s creative pulse and, as such, a non-replicable indicator of humanness, and its “sign mark”. In lieu of the ideal of strength, speed, rigor (which are oriented towards the creation of a liege/performer nature and conscious that should eventually bring about the turning of man into “lethal flesh” and a vehicle for destruction of life) the challenge should shift towards mobility, softness, coordination, self-control, intention, spirituality, tremulousness, motion 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 of the artistic motion as a way of producing artistic forms and sensual effects (object, colour, sound…), and affirmation of the genuine playing motion that represents a creation of humanness in an immediate form. Physical movement becomes an expression of man’s playing nature, which means that its essence consists of man’s motion towards another. Man’s relationship with his own body, as an immediate nature, is possible exclusively by means of another human being.

Development of a universal creative body and of lavishness of motion is the basic condition for development of mind, man’s libertarian and creative personality – which is one of the key objectives of the libertarian play. This represents an essential difference between physical culture and sport, which requires an ever earlier specialization that disfigures not only the body, but also the mind. Rousseau was one of those who perceived the existence of the conditioning linkage between the development of sense-based mobility skills and the intellect. From there derives one of his most significant pedagogical instructions: “Exercise incessantly his body; endeavour to make your scholar strong and healthy, so that he can be clever and intelligent; let him work and act, let him run and shout, in a word, let him be constantly in motion. Let him primarily be man per strength and he will shortly be man per intellect.” (1) In his developmental psychology Piaget has indicated the fact that sense-based mobility represents the first stage of the development of the intellect: based on concrete action-related operations the body attains knowledge that represents the foundation of the whole of cognitive development. From there derives a conclusion that stereotypical models of motion limit the development of intellect. Imposing a defined model of behaviour at the same time represents the infliction of a defined model of thinking (which means stereotyping and maiming the mind), but also of interpersonal relations, the concept of the world and man’s position towards the world. This is most clearly expressed in Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy” which represents a modern Procrustean bed. It should not be forgotten that “physical education”, which dominated in the 20th century, was generated in the greyness of the military gymnasiums and was, thus, limited to mere physical drill. Libertarian play represents an integral part of the overall culture of man as a universal freedom-creating being. There is no cultivated body without a cultural man – there is no free movement without a free man. The intention of libertarian play is not to limit and deform man’s instinctive actions through aggressive exercise, nor to create valves for their release in the form of violent and destructive behaviour, but to help those actions attain their refined expression while respecting man’s individual personality. It is, therefore, not a matter of developing a model of (physical) motion that should be imposed on man, but of encouraging the creation of motions that would enable each individual to express his own specific and non-repeatable personality.

Creation and imitation should be distinguished. Like many other “naturalists”, Hebert rejected the emancipating heritage of the physical culture and reduced body movement to behaviour imitation 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 re-introduction of “primitive” movements which represent spontaneous expressions of its original naturalness, and are not limited by any imposed stereotypes that destroy man’s vitality – as happens with the aristocratic and Christian physical cultures. What we have here goes for 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 man dominates. Instead of “melting into nature”, where man loses individuality, development of humanness, which corresponds with creative discontent, should be the goal. Instead of immerging in the existing world, a new one should be created.

The most immediate form of nature-humanizing is body-humanizing. Outdoing the capitalist world, dominated by the dehumanization and denaturalization (robotization) of man, requires humanization of man’s natural being (which at the same time represents his own naturalizing), in a word, liberation of the body (nature) from the destructive ruling order, and asserting the humanized original natural motion aimed at man within which the libertarian creative essence of man is being expressed. “Immerging in nature” is an illusory opposite to “technical civilization”. What occurs here, in fact, represents man’s immerging in the existing world at a “lower” level of civilization – the way it happens with physical culture of the Far East where man as an emancipated personality, which, as such, in his position towards the world, tends to create a new world in his own human (libertarian and creative) image – does not exist. “Naturalism” is an off course in a struggle against the “technical world”. The humanization of natural motion and not naturalizing of the 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 attained flexibility of the fingers, hand and arm (technique of motion), but also a development of an artistic (creative) being. In that sense flexibility of the human body requires a creative body: development of the esthetic feeling represents the basis for development of sense-based motion. It is a matter of a natural motion humanized by means of the emancipating heritage that forms man’s cultural and, thus, his playing being, and which manifests itself in a relation towards repressive (destructive) behavioural forms imposed by “technical civilization”. Play becomes the utmost form of man’s “embracing” the world and his most immediate relationship towards his own natural being, and also towards nature in general. Man does not “return” to his natural being by means of play as a specific sphere, but through transforming of his entire life into a humanized natural life: “humanization of nature” is achieved through totalizing the world by means of man’s playing being.

Regarding the relation between play, on one hand, and science and technique, on the other, we are not advocating the establishment of parallel spheres, but bestowing on science and technique an artistic nature which would enable them to become the means of humanization of nature and of man’s natural being. Rousseau’s “return to nature” deals with the notion of a “noble savage” in whose behaviour the principle homo homini homo est dominates, and, consequently, so does the motion of man towards another man. Voltaire ridicules Rousseau and fails to notice that his “noble savage” has a metaphorical quality and represents a critique of the distorted aristocratic world deprived of naturalness and humanness. In the same way Rousseau and the philanthropists formed their “alliance” with nature in the struggle against the ancien régime, contemporary man should form an “alliance” with nature against capitalism – only now the struggle is not merely for freedom, but for survival.

In order to be able to humanize man’s natural being by means of libertarian (life-creating) play, man’s original natural motion should be identified and respected. Libertarian play tends to enable such a passage from natural towards creative motion as will not cause negative impact on the development of a personality and becomes a source of frustration. This does not mean that man should return to the water, but that he should have a notion of his own original natural motion, of the psychological and physical consequences deriving from forced adapting of his system to concrete living conditions (standing upright, walking on two legs…), and he should know what he must aspire in order to be as close as possible to his own natural being. It is complete nonsense to assert that man was in “unity with nature” a long time ago. In pre-historical times man was merely a part of the nature. In order to merge with nature man had to become a man, which means a self-conscious being capable of having a relation towards nature and, based on this relation, to merge with it.

                  Man’s playing skills are the basic expressive option of his playing being, and richness of expressive possibilities represents the basic precondition of the esthetic (libertarian). It is grounded in the cultural heritage of mankind and represents the utmost form of the refined body motion. In libertarian play skill does not present itself as independent from man, from the (objective) social sphere, but 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 men, where one man is another man’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 annulment of the technical sphere as an intermediary in fulfilment of man’s playing potential, in the context of annulment of institutional (repressive) intermediation between men. The range of creative spirituality, opulence of sensuality and of interpersonal relations based upon solidarity and tolerance – which means the 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 development of human powers, of a rich and unique individuality, and, thus, the fulfilment of individual predilections, and not the pushing (destroying) of humanness into the background and adapting man to the “model citizen” pattern. Genuine human motion is aimed at the whole lot that impedes man’s overcoming the existing world, that restricts, moulds, and degrades him… Development of playing skills becomes an expression of the development of man’s universal creative (playing) powers. This represents the basis for the development of the creative physical activism that attains its expression in physical mobility. Healthiness, spirituality, harmony of motion – all are comprised in physical mobility as a supreme spontaneous play of nerves, muscles, tendons, joints, heart, lungs… Genuine physical motion requires a genuine engagement of the organism. This does not merely mean “the exerting of a large number of muscles”, but a harmonious activity of the entire system, from whence derives the “softness” of motion which determines physical “elegance”. 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 skills. No free and contented personality can exist if man does not liberate his body and his motion from destructive capitalist civilization. The supremacy of libertarian and creative (playing) motion should be established, and this motion turned towards man and the living world (nature) that has no intermediary but represents man’s genuine necessity for other men. Development of playing skills is being manifested as openness towards the future, as creation of novum, and not as “improvement” of the playing model that represents a ritual expression of submissiveness to the ruling order, within which man is being 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 undivided creative being, and society will become a playing community. Schiller’s position “education by means of art is education for art” is one of the most significant postulates of the libertarian play, for education by means of libertarian play is education for the free society. Regarding the universal grammar of motion (skills), it provides possibilities for establishing of a comprehensive approach to body exercise, however, at the same time it enables creation of an artificial body language which is more of a technical (strictly defined motions, repetition, “objectivity” of the form being developed as an area alienated from man, space defined in advance…) than of a cultural nature. Instead of assigning a defined model of body and motion, which is, in essence, of a repressive nature, a spontaneous motion which is an expression of man’s playing being should be strived for: richness of motion is conditioned by richness of the playing personality and by development of interpersonal relations.

Human motion cannot be perceived merely from a technical or organic (purely medical) aspect. Not solely the body, but also man as a historical and social being plays a part in the motion. The relation of man towards another man, the world, nature, the future… is comprised in it. Giving up the ball is not an action of throwing an object from one position to another that has an “objective” form and technical character, but is a humanized (by means of cultural heritage) motion of one man towards another man and, as such, represents establishing human community in an immediate form. This is what constitutes its concrete historical (social) nature and endows it with a “soul”. Play is not an immediate relation of man to himself, but requires the existence of a playing community of emancipated, creative personalities where the motion of man towards another man dominates, and where homo homini mirrors humanness. Therefore, development of interpersonal relations represents a conditio sine qua non of play. The playing disposition is a potential human disposition that can be actualized exclusively within a community of free and creative personalities. Play is a result but, at the same time, also a supreme spontaneous form of man’s self-creation and a supreme mode for generating society as a community of free people. The spontaneity of play requires an emancipated personality. If this is lacking, the effort to express uniqueness leads towards extremism, narcissism, aggression, destruction… Richness of personality is a basic precondition for opulence 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 esthetic sense provides opportunity for distinction in music or painting, experiencing and creation of an abundance of tones, forms and colours. It is essential to develop a communal spirit while developing, and not destroying, individuality. The immediate goal of libertarian play is not to produce records, improve playing techniques, develop the play as a normative sphere and create a healthy body, but to create a healthy society within which creative personalities will be developed.

Man’s need for another man is the basic quality of his life-creating being. Therefore, man’s motion towards another man, as a humanized motion of a live being towards another live being, represents the essential motion of man as a specific natural being, and as such represents the basis of life-creation. Eros, as a synthesized life-creating energy, is the most important source of man’s motion towards another man, based upon which life as a playing act can be developed. Love play between man and woman is the supreme form of play where the unrestricted playing being is expressed, in other words: “production” of humanness in the most immediate form. It represents the supreme form of humanization of man’s natural being. Life-creativeness represents the essence of erotic union with the nature and basis of erotic play. Without it, enjoyment in the erotic relationship is compensational, which means of an adaptive nature. Already in antiquity, in the homosexual (paedophilic) relationship, sterilization of man’s (society’s) life-creating ability occurred, by means of partition of the erotic from the naturally reproductive (fertile). In the homosexual relationship Eros loses its life-creative disposition and turns into an anti-existential principle. Narcissistic, homosexual and lesbian Eros represent a clash with man’s natural life-creativeness and, therefore, with the likelihood of the erotic as a humanized natural relationship. The option of love play as the life-creating play between genders is being abolished, and the life-creating sexual relation is being reduced to technical fertilization of women – to technical production of children.

Space and Time


Man lives in inhuman time and in inhuman space. His attitude towards time and space is given by the ruling order. In the contemporary world capital is the master of both time and space. This goes for the capitalist determination of time, in a context of the capitalist totalizing of the world by repressive and destructive commercialization (“Time is money!”), which turns the world into a labour-consumer concentration camp. An “objectification” of time has taken place: time as a virtual or abstract phenomenon becomes a power of destiny (“It’s a matter of time!”, “Time will tell!”…). The speed of capitalist reproduction conditions the dynamics of social life. Using science and technique as means for acceleration of the profit-making process, capital increasingly “diminishes” human existential and spiritual space and at the same time creates a growing gap between people, one that is not measurable in meters, but in a feeling of loneliness and despair that has reached epidemic proportions. Acceleration of capitalist reproduction makes human time, which represents the duration of life, run out more and more quickly.

“Measuring of time” in sports is a typical example of the instrumentalization of “physical” time and space in order to overmaster man. In sport, space and time are given dimensions, independent from man. This relates to closed space and to definitive time: upon this ground, and within this framework, basic relationships and basic values of the existing world are being reproduced. Sport is an area where quantitative and mechanical “mastering” of time and space are most perceptible, one of the major features of “technical civilization” used by capital to turn natural forces into a vehicle for the destruction of human time and space. In sport, man exists outside of biological and historical (cultural) time and finds himself in an area of mechanical time. “Sport time” is a phenomenal form in which the process of capitalist reproduction pulsates: development of capitalism conditions the “openness” of sport time and of sport space. This is the essence of record-mania. In sports where “competing against the chronometer” dominates, results are not being measured only in minutes, but in seconds, tenths and hundredths of a second. From the point of view of the development of human powers, such improvements are nonsensical and of an abstract value for man. There is an endeavour to preserve the dominant principle citius, altius, fortius at any cost, and, along with it, the belief in the “progressive” nature of the ruling order. Consequently, the “history of sport” is being reduced to a sequence of numbers that increase in a linear manner, and to which names of un-personalized “champions” are adjoined. Sport “progress” does not represent a moving forward, but is reduced to limitless and increasingly intensive circular movement that occurs on the sport track, which is supposed to halt history and hinder man’s striding away from the existing world. The record is not an expression of the development of human powers but represents a quantum of destruction of man as a biological and cultural being. The “quality of play” is being measured by the quantity of occurrences per time unit (points, passes, rebounds…). Spaces of some future time are not being developed in sports. Instead, the ruling relations are being reproduced, at a higher quantitative level. A sports spectacle represents a symbolic form of complete integration of man into capitalist time and space. The Olympiads (the “holy” four-year period ending with the Olympic Games) represent a mythological time that annuls historical time in order to attain “eternity” for capitalism: modern Olympic Games are a reincarnation of the “immortal spirit of antiquity”.

Motion through space is the basis of the (existential, libertarian, visionary) relation of man to space, from whence a notion of space derives, as well as the creation of the concept of space which surpasses the directly perceived and experienced living space, and represents the ground for creation of the notion of “world” and of the existence of us, humans, in it. It represents the basis of man’s uniqueness and of his libertarian self-conscious. What differentiates human motion from mechanical and animal motion is the fact that it requires a change-aspiring relation towards the existing world and a moving towards new worlds, which means that it possesses a creative, libertarian and visionary dimension. It is a historical motion – the essence of which represents freedom measured by development (accomplishment) of man’s playing being and by an increased certainty of human survival. Space is not a given fact that defines the framework of playing, neither is it an emptiness in which the world exists. It represents a possibility of creation of a new world and is, as such, a symbol of man’s openness towards the future. The creation of life and life itself become inseparable contents of time, the “measure” of its “duration”, of the “boundaries” and of the “dimensions” of space.

Through playing, man ceases his existence in the given time and space and creates his own (human) time and space. “Expansion of space” results from man’s creative practice, opening possibilities for the development of humanness. In authentic play, space is limitless and time is endless. The challenge shifts from the variety of outer world forms towards the richness of the inner, creative, interpersonal… Through playing, the duality of the “outer” and the “inner” is abolished: genuine creativity represents a “transformation” of the world into an experience of humanness. The real world is what man carries inside and what he creates together with other men. In this sense play becomes “fascination”, a sense of life taken to the extreme – through experience based on the creation of life – instead of evasion as a compensation for a deprived humanness. The “duration” of playing time and the “dimensions” of the space are conditioned by a flourishing of the senses and emotions, by human closeness and creative life… “Comprehension” of humanness is the basic and the sole authentic “dimension” of human time and space. It requires the annulment of all forms that mediate between man and world, forms that transform the world into “otherness”. Attainment of man’s playing being becomes the “source” of playing time and space. Playing, which is the most authentic human mode for totalizing the world, becomes a “metamorphosis” of historical time and space into “purely” human time and space, and, in that sense, a specifically human universe. Fantasy represents an essential aspect of human time and space, not as an escape from the existing world and daydreaming, but as a projection of a future world and the creation of novum. It is, anyhow, a sort of time that has no quantitative dimensions, no comparison that annuls all humanness. Man’s becoming a human being is the authentic content and the authentic measure of human time.

Libertarian Play


Freedom is the essence of play. In a world in which there is no freedom, free play is not possible. Only libertarian play – as an integral part of the social (political) movement that tends to create the new world – is a possibility. It has a tendency to liberate man’s playing being by superseding the ruling relations and the repressive normative confinement which are a part of the prevailing play-forms that are in fact a way of letting off the steam of non-freedom, and as such represent “chain rattling”. On the contrary, regardless of its intention, play is being reduced to the creation of space for an illusory “happiness” within the existing world, where man hopelessly seeks to discover his own mislaid humanity – and sinks deeper and deeper into the mud of despair. Libertarian physical culture does not campaign for “free play” but for free man, that is, for a new society within which free play will represent the utmost (self) accomplishment of man as a universal creative and free being. Genuine play is attainable solely by superseding the existing world, that is, by totalizing the world through man’s libertarian and creative practice, and in that context through the turning of life itself into a creation of his playing being. One does not arrive directly from libertarian play to the genuine play through the use of new forms of player proficiency, but by way of the society within which man has achieved freedom. True play is a result of the libertarian struggle that generates the new world.

The most important characteristic of libertarian play is life-creativeness.  Destruction is a totalizing life power of capitalism; life-creativeness is a totalizing life power of man. As distinct from the animal which is unconscious natural life-creating being (procreation), man is a self-conscious life-creating being that creates its own world. The essence of the animal’s life-creativeness is determinism; the essence of human life-creativeness is freedom. Man’s playing being represents the anthropological basis of his life-creativeness, and play is the supreme form in which the life-creative nature of man is realized. The “major” religions have also acknowledged the life-creativity principle. Development of man’s self-conscious as a creative being and creator of (his own) world represents the basis for the theory of the world as a “divine creation”. “God” is a symbolic incarnation of creative powers alienated from man, a manifestation of man’s independence from nature and the placing of human powers “above” those of nature. By means of the idea of “God”, man becomes an autonomous creative power and, in that sense, a specific (unique) cosmic being: creation of the world is a conscious and wilful act. Historically, man has been subordinated to the (real or imaginary) universe of a metaphorical and politically instrumental nature that serves as means for obtaining eternalness for the ruling order. Human life-creativeness is imaginary: creation of imaginary conscious becomes compensation for depriving man of the ability to create the earthly world in his own image. Capitalism has degenerated and instrumentalized man’s life-creating powers: they now serve to preserve the capitalist order that destroys both life and man as a life-creating being.

Libertarian play is guided by the spirit of life-creating pantheism: all that lives and creates possibility for life should become a unique life-creating being struggling against capitalism.

Libertarian play requires visionary conscious of a utopian nature. It represents the supreme form of man’s change-creating practice by which the objective possibilities of freedom, established within a civil society, become realistic possibilities for man’s liberation. This affirmation of man’s life-creating powers is accomplished by the surmounting of civilization’s barriers and diversions. The life-creating power becomes the basis of the self-creation of both man and society as a community of life-creating beings. Man used to be a toy in the hands of “superhuman” powers; it is necessary that he become a free playing being, while life in its entirety should become a form of affirmation of his own playing nature. The basic relation, though, is not one of play – player, but of society as a community of free men – man as a universal free creative being. The moment when man becomes a self-conscious and unique life-creating being is when the true history of humankind begins. Play per se does not contain what-is-yet-to-be, for this is not what defines its utopian nature; it is a specificity of man as free self-creating being: man is not what he is but what he can be.

Herbert Marcuse: «Liberating Transformation of Nature»


Speaking of Hegel’s concept of freedom Marcuse says: „Hegel’s concept of freedom presupposes consciousness throughout (in Hegel’s terminology: self-conscious). Consequently, the ‘realization’ of Nature is not, and never can be Nature’s own work. But inasmuch as Nature is in itself negative (i.e., wanting in its own existence), the historical transformation of Nature by Man is, as the overcoming of this negativity, the liberation of Nature. Or, in Hegel’s words, Nature is in its essence non-natural – ‘Geist’.“ (28) He continues: „History is the negation of Nature. What is only natural is overcome and recreated by the power of Reason. The metaphysical notion that Nature comes to itself in history points to the unconquered limits of Reason. It claims them as historical limits – as a task yet to be accomplished, or rather yet to be undertaken. If Nature is in itself a rational, legitimate object of science, then it is the legitimate object not only of Reason as power but also of Reason as freedom; not only of domination but also of liberation. With the emergence of man as the animal rationale – capable of transforming Nature in accordance with the faculties of the mind and the capacities of matter – the merely natural, as the sub-rational, assumes negative status. It becomes a realm to be comprehended and organized by Reason.“ (29)  In capitalism the spirit by way of which nature acquires self-conscious is abolished by technique, which does not only have an anti-spiritual (anti-rational) but also an anti-existential character. It is a form in which the powers of nature are instrumentalized in a capitalistic way and have become an anti-natural power. The idea of a «liberating transformation of nature» (30) acquires a concrete historical dimension only in the relation to the process of the destructive capitalist «transformation» of nature. The basic shortcoming of pure nature is not that it is non-rational, but that it cannot prevent the destruction of life on the earth. The «liberating transformation of nature» does not only have a libertarian but, above all, an existential character. The basic condition of human freedom and human survival is not man’s liberation from nature, but man’s liberation from capitalism. To stop the natural forces from being instrumentalized for the sake of the destruction of life (atomic bomb and other numerous means produced in the capitalist laboratories of death; the development of technique which is based on the «destructive productivity» /Marcuse/ and which is reduced to the destruction of nature and man …), and preservation of life on the earth by preserving nature as a life-creating environment through its humanisation – this is the primary task of mankind.

Writing on the domination of «technological rationality» in the «developed industrial society» Marcuse concludes: „Their truth value depended to a large degree on an uncomprehended and unconquered dimension of man and nature, on the narrow limits placed on organization and manipulation, on the ‘insoluble core’ which resisted integration. In the fully developed industrial society, this insoluble core is progressively whittled down by technological rationality. Obviously, when cities and highways and National Parks replace the villages, valleys, and forests; when motorboats race over the lakes and planes cut through the skies – then these areas lose their character as a qualitatively different reality, as areas of contradiction.“ (31) Marcuse’s term «technological rationality», based on the «physical transformation of the world», is but another name for the destructive capitalist irrationality. The destruction of nature includes the destruction of the cultural heritage of mankind created over thousands of years, and based on the organic link between man and nature. Hence the preservation of the cultural heritage based on man’s life-creating unity with nature is of primary importance for the development of man’s life-creating conscious. Marcuse: „All joy and all happiness derive from the ability to transcend Nature – a transcendence in which the mastery of Nature is itself subordinated to liberation and pacification of existence. All tranquillity, all delight is the result of conscious mediation, of autonomy and contradiction. Glorification of the natural is part of the ideology which protects an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation. (…) Civilization produces the means for freeing Nature from its own brutality, its own insufficiency, its own blindness, by virtue of the cognitive and transforming power of Reason. And Reason can fulfil this function only as post-technological rationality, in which technic is itself the instrumentality of pacification, organon of the ‘art of life’. The function of Reason then converges with the function of Art.“ (32) Marcuse overlooks that nature is by itself cultivating. Rousseau speaks of the «skill of living» which a child will learn in nature that «calls him to a human life». (33) The «brutality of nature» has an existential and life-creating character, unlike capitalism which is destructive – and to which the anthropological picture of man corresponds: instead of being a «beast», man becomes a «(self) destructive“ being. In sport, which mirrors the true face of capitalism, nature is not free from its shortcomings and brutality, but becomes the object of exploitation and destruction. In it, the body, which is man’s immediate nature, becomes an opponent which should be beaten and used for the sake of inhuman ends. Sport does not liberate man from his dependence on the body; it «liberates» him from life.

In nature, the struggle for survival is the basis for the survival of the living world: it is life-creating. In capitalism, the struggle for survival is «overcome» by being turned into the destruction of life. It is not based on the struggle for survival between people, but between capitalist concerns, which means that it is not guided by the existential needs of living beings, as is the case in nature, but by inhuman and antiexistential interests of capital. It is not driven by poverty, but by the development of the «consumer society» where the production and acquisition of goods becomes the way of destroying man as a cultural and biological being, as well as of destroying nature. In capitalism, «nature ceases to be the sheer nature» by being deprived of naturalness and reduced to a sheer object of exploitation and destruction. Since capitalism destroys the natural brutality by destroying nature, it is necessary to fight for its naturalization, which means for its liberation from the capitalist destruction. Natural forces should be turned into the means for preserving and humanizing nature. The liberating possibilities of nature lie in its life-creativeness – in the creation of living forms. Man is by his nature a life-creating being and can be cultivated only by respecting his life-creativeness – as the integral part of nature. Only in nature can man experience the fullness of his human being. The humanization becomes the development (overcoming) of the original naturalness, and not its submission to a rational model, the model of the «noble» and the like. Instead of man appearing as a form in which nature acquires the possibility of being overcome by the «spirit», meaning of attaining the notion of itself and of relating to itself, man should overcome his original natural life-creativeness (procreation) through the development of his playing being, which means that it should become the basis for the totalization of the world. It is about the transformation of the procreative into the life-creating principle, and about the transformation of the life-creating into the universal creative principle.

In capitalism, the instrumental and exploitive relation to nature is the basis of the relation to the human body. It is not a harmonious part of the living nature which, as such, should be respected; it is reduced to the object of processing and the means for achieving inhuman ends. Instead of the working, sporting, technical, consumer and destructive body, libertarian play should develop a creative (poetical) body and a variety of movements (skill as a humanized movement) which will enable man to realize his creative personality. It is not only about the fight for preserving the cultural heritage of mankind and man as a cultural being; it is about the fight for the survival of man as a natural and playing being. Libertarian play should enable the preservation and development of the emancipatory achievements of physical culture which are being destroyed by the «technical civilization». Instead of the naturalization of the body, which is reduced to a machine, we should strive for the humanisation of man’s natural being through the development of his playing being, which means through a creative skill by which man is developed as a whole (physical, intellectual, erotic, social) being. It is not about the humanization of technique by way of art; it is about the humanization of man, which means about the development of his universal creative being, which abolishes technique as man’s relation to nature alienated from him, and abolishes art as a separate social sphere. Instead of the relation between social spheres alienated from man, which are the basic way of functioning of the «social life», we should insist on the development of immediate relations between people as emancipated playing beings. The world as an artistic creation – this is the purpose of the fight for the future. By fighting for a new world, the whirl of the human will be created, which will «suck» all that is alienated from man. Instead of Nietzsche’s cosmic energy, life which is alienated from man will start to flow in him again; instead of art being a means for turning the cosmic energy into life, man’s creative energy will become the basis for the creation of a new – human cosmos.

Here, together with Marcuse, we could pose the following question: „In view of what this standard has made of Man and Nature, the question must again be asked whether it is worth the sacrifices and the victims made in its defence.“ (34)

Labour, Praxis, Poetical, Play


For Milan Kangrga, play is the «result» – «either of labour or creativity, but only the fought for, actively mediated, produced, established «medium», where, as already formed human beings, we can then play and entertain ourselves in a human way in our – meaningful idleness, which is then the established spiritual horizon of self-realization based on creative imagination.» (15) Play is a potential result of labour or creativity, but the nature of labour (creativity) conditions the nature of play. It is one thing to create the possibilities of play by creating a non-working time which is only potentially workers’ free time, and quite another to create play as the realization of man’s playing being. Work can produce a non-working time, but play is only formally possible if man is not capable of playing. Labour which mutilates man’s playing being directly conditions physical abilities, playing skill and imagination – which means the possibility of playing and thus the creation of play. Man whose body is reduced to a machine and who has lost physical qualities that enable the development of the playing, meaning a creative body, does not have a need to play, but to engage in such a physical activity which is conditioned by the properties of a mechanicized body. It not only reduces man’s playing abilities, it reduces the possibility of man experiencing himself as a playing being, and thus the possibility of his playing self-consciousness. A physically crippled man can feel «free» only in those plays in which his mutilated being can be realized. At the same time, he aspires to those plays in which he can find compensation for the constraints in the working process – where he is reduced to an impersonalized working force: playing becomes a psychological response to labour. Most importantly, play is not only a respite, it is a preparation for work, which means that man can develop in play those qualities which enable him both to «keep fit» and keep his job. Alienated labour, where man is reduced to the «working force» and instrumentalized as an impersonalized part of working processes, does not distort only man, but also interpersonal relations – which has a direct influence on the playing imagination. Sport is a typical example: a «sports team» is a capitalistically degenerated form of grouping  people – degenerated sociability. When the playing skill is developed on the basis of a suppressed and distorted humanness, it becomes a compensatory mechanism for a frustrated humanness, a means to escape from reality, for a conflict with other people – as is the case in sport. There is no «formed human being» unless man has developed a need for and ability to play. «Meaningful idleness», «spiritual horizon of self-realization» and «creative imagination» are all conditioned by the development of man’s playing being, his physical powers and acquired playing skills, the conception of man and relation to people. The imagination of a slave is one thing, the imagination of a free man is quite another; a «reasonable» opting for play of a man with a mutilated body and playing being, for whom play is compensation for the alienation in work, is one thing, while «reasonable» opting for play of a man who has a playing (creative) body and playing being and who develops in work his physical and spiritual powers is quite another. At the same time, man should see freedom in play not only in relation to work, but above all in relation to the world in which he lives, which means in relation to the ruling order. The idea that man can realize his playing being in relation to work within the repressive (destructive) capitalist order is illusory. Work is not the only form in which man is alienated from himself as an erotic (playing) being, the whole life is such a form, based on the «technical civilization» which represents the form in which capitalism destroys nature and man as a natural and human being. It is not about the freedom of man reduced to the «worker», it is about the freedom of man in the totality of his social existence. The possibility of play (playing) does not lie in the relation work –play, but in the relation man – ruling order. Libertarian play is not only the result of work or creativity, but above all of the fight for freedom which involves the fight for the creation of a new world. The relation of man to the world, himself, other people, the full humanity he acquires in the fight for survival and freedom – this is the necessary «mediator» which enables the cultivation and development of man’s playing being, his playing skill and human community as a playing community. The theses of a «meaningful idleness» can be productive since it enables the creation of such forms of play through which man will be able to develop his libertarian, creative and social being, which means to stand against the existing world trying to create a new world. Kangrga’s definition of play is close to the idea of libertarian play, but «creative imagination» should have a visionary character and its realization should be part of a political movement which seeks to create a new (humane) world.

     Marcuse cites Marx’s view on 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“. (16) Here it should be added: as a potentially changed subject – provided that it is really about free time, and not about apparent «free time» where the ruling relations and values are reproduced, as is the case with the ruling forms of play. Leisure time does not have an abstract, but a concrete historical nature: non-working time is «free» from work, but not from capitalism nor from the consequences of work for man (mutilation of his erotic being, physical and mental deformation of man and interpersonal relations …). In the «consumer society» both working and non-working time have become constituent parts of the capitalist time: time of production and time of consumption. At the same time, the content of non-working time is conditioned by class relations, which means by the struggle for the instrumentalization of non-working time for the purpose of protecting the ruling order. The bourgeoisie tries to prevent by all means the non-working time from becoming the free time of the oppressed. Stadiums, designed according to the Roman Coliseum, were built at the end of the XIX century, when workers managed to obtain the eight-hour working time, in order to keep the «working masses» under control during non-working hours. The ruling forms of play, which were to become the cheapest and chief spiritual food for workers, occupied most of the non-working time and as such were «free time» imposed on workers by the bourgeoisie: non-working time became the means for the integration of workers into the spiritual orbit of capitalism. Marx himself unintentionally encourages that when he recommends that young workers, in their free time, do gymnastic exercises, which were done by the bourgeois youth and which had a mechanical form and militaristic nature, meaning that they were reduced to a physical drill mutilating man’s erotic, and thus, his playing nature. (17)

The establishment of the relation between work and praxis enables us to attain the notion of true play. Mihailo Marković says on that: «In principle, work is different from praxis. Work is instrumental, praxis is the end in itself. Praxis is a free, spontaneous, creative activity where each individual realizes his unique, specifically human powers.» (18) For Kangrga, praxis is a «free self-realization of man as the universal generic being. This involves the process of man’s historical self-becoming in the totality of his manifestation as the only purpose or the unique purpose (meaning) of his life.» (19) Praxis, as the «total way of the appropriation of the world (and oneself in it)» (20) by man is the «natural» basis of play. In this context, particularly important is the connection between praxis and poiesis: “Historical novum in terms of the epochal change in the essence of praxis proceeds not only through a practical determination of the theory which is heading for its realization, but even more: through the identification of praxis and poiesis, whereas in the very definition of the modern concept of practice poiesis obtains not only a constitutive but also a prevailing character». (21) The alienated labour is possible because man is «more» that that he is reduced to as the labour tool and hired worker. It involves a distance to labour from the point of view of man as a libertarian and universally creative (playing) being. By working, man has put chains on himself and became alienated from his authentic playing being, but at the same time he developed his creative powers which enable him to acquire a libertarian and creative self-conscious. The dialectic of praxis is based on the conflict between the acquired creative powers and the (im) possibility of realizing them in a way which would affirm him as a human being, which means of creating a humane world. This is one of the most important reasons why the capitalist propaganda machinery and entertainment industry increasingly try to destroy man’s libertarian self-conscious. Non-working time must not become the time for development of workers’ self-conscious, but the means for their integration into the spiritual orbit of the bourgeoisie and reproduction of capital, which means a consumer time. It is particularly important today when, due to the imposed dynamics of innovation as the basic requirement for survival on the market, man, instead of factories and machines, has become the most important «investment». The creative mind has become the driving force of contemporary capitalism, which indicates that there are objective possibilities for a libertarian totalization of the world by a (liberated) man.

Writing in the «Capital» on the freedom in work Marx concludes: «Freedom in this area can only exist in the associated man’s, associated producers’ rational organization of their exchange of matter with nature, in bringing it under their joined control, instead of its dominating them as a blind force; in executing it with the least possible expenditure of energy and under the conditions which are the most worthy of and adequate to their human nature. But this always remains the realm of necessity. Beyond it begins the development of the human power, which is the purpose for itself, the real realm of freedom, but which can thrive only in that realm of necessity as its foundation. The reduction of the working time is the primary condition.» (22) Analyzing the process of the automatisation of work Marcuse says: „In the technique of pacification, aesthetic categories would enter to the degree to which the productive machinery is constructed with a view of the free play of faculties. But against all ‘technological Eros’ and similar misconceptions, ‘labor cannot become play…’ Marx’s statement precludes rigidly 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 of 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..“ (23) By becoming a total and global order of destruction, capitalism has posed, in a new and far more dramatic way, the question of necessity and freedom, and thus the question of the relation between work and play. No longer is work as such man’s most important existential duty, but the fight for preserving the life on earth (and the appropriate work). The struggle for survival has become the modern «realm of necessity» and man will develop on its foundation as a totalizing life-creating being. Modern capitalism «has united» the existential and essential spheres: the struggle for freedom becomes an existential necessity, and the struggle for survival is the basic libertarian challenge. It means that the starting point of libertarian practice are no longer the spheres of work, art and play – it is man as a totalizing life-creating being which sees his whole life at the existential-essential level, and this means in the context of the fight against capitalism which has turned social institutions, the laws of nature and man into the means for annihilation of life. In this context, work, which realizes man’s (life) creative powers and creates a genuine human world, becomes the basic essential activity. Just as today the production of goods (commodities) is at the same time the destruction of life, so in a future society the production of goods will at the same time be the production of healthy living conditions and the creation of a healthy man.

The thesis that play is possible only relative to work means that the point of departure is play as an area, and not man as the playing being and thus the subject of totalization (humanization) of social life and nature, which includes work as an interpersonal relation and man’s self-creating activity. Instead of work and play as areas alienated from man, the starting point is man as a universal creative being, who treats work in the totality of its totalizing libertarian-creative (life-creative) practice. Then it will be impossible to apply the mechanistic scheme on the «feedback that play has on work», man being only a mediator between the social spheres alienated from him. It is about the domination of man and humanizing interpersonal relations over all social processes; about the humanization of the world through an ever fuller realization of man’s playing being; about the totalization of the world through man’s (life) creative practice, whereas work, art and «sheer» play («production» of the human in an immediate form) are but forms in which true human powers are realized. From the «adaptive» and instrumentalized working force we have come to man as the totalizing subject of the entire social life. The abolishment of the dualism of work and play abolishes the dualism of man as homo faber and homo ludens and man becomes the emancipated homo libertas.

Fourier has attained the notion of work as play departing from man’s erotic nature and emphasizing interpersonal relations, and in that context man’s relation to work. Marx criticizes the work which is imposed on man from outside, and where man is a hired worker, and argues for the work of free people, which has become man’s «primary life need». Engels, in «Anti‑Dühring», speaks of the «productive work» which «instead of being the means for suppression, becomes the means for people’s liberation, giving a chance to each individual to perfect his abilities, both physical and spiritual and apply them in all areas, and where work thus turns into pleasure instead of being a burden». (24) Following Marx, Jean Divigno insists on the abolishment of the gap between mental and physical work, and thus the question of the relation between work and play is posed in an essentially different way: «When this difference is abolished, we will get a new picture, new conception of work, and thus of play, and this is something we cannot even imagine now, but we can fight for it. For I believe that things can move in that direction. When man (…), who developed his esthetical, imaginative, and thus productive powers, no longer distinguishes between mental and physical world, imaginativeness will become a common property, while everyday life will be enriched by unimaginable powers that for the time being are the privilege of a small number of people.» (25) Creative work represents the overcoming of the classical division of work and a partial man reduced to a «specialized working force». Instead of being reduced to an operationalized intellect, which means to the technical means for producing «innovations» and reproducing the capital, the creative mind becomes the basis of creative work and the basis of social integration. It is not only the production of useful goods, but also of the visionary: the creation of humanum becomes the creation of the novum and vice versa. Creative work involves realizing the human in a humane way and ensuring the existence by transforming nature in a way which is not destructive and which cultivates man’s natural being… A need for work becomes a need for developing creative powers and interpersonal relations and for dealing with the consequences of destroying nature and man as a biological being. It overcomes the partial man and enables the integration of mankind on the basis of the creative mind. Ultimately, work becomes not only a way of ensuring existence, but also of enriching interpersonal relations and of returning man to his human essence. Creative work is a direct form of the production of society as the community of emancipated individuals, which means creative and totalizing sociability. The results of creative work, just as in artistic work, cannot be measured. They cannot be private property, but only the «property» of mankind. Creative work is by its nature limitless both in terms of the development of man’s creative powers and in terms of its time and spatial effect. It is the basic form of the totalizing practice which produces an endless (human) world. Creative work is opposed to the capitalist work which is based on destructive irrationalism. It involves not only the creation of useful goods and the creation of man as a universal creative being, but also the creation of life. Creation is the common denominator of man’s universal life-creative activism, while creative effort makes the essence of work and play. The genuine play is the result of man’s creative development and at the same time the highest and most direct form in which man produces the human. In that sense, play overcomes art. A creative effort is man’s true condition, just as the constant life creative activity of vital organs is the true condition of the organism and the basic condition of life. A playing effort is the most authentic form of the realization of man’s life – his creating force, his will to be human… On it a flight towards new worlds is based. The true result of the creative effort is the development of man’s playing being and interpersonal relations, which means the liberation of the playing and the development of a need and ability to play. A constant creation of the human – this is the way in which man’s life-creating pulse should beat.

The development of automatization creates the possibility of perceiving the relation between work and play in a completely different way. Marcuse: „Complete automation in the realm of necessity would open the dimension of free time as the one in which man’s private and societal existence would constitute itself. This would be the historical transcendence toward a new civilization.“ (26) He also argues: “Progress is not a neutral term; it moves toward specific ends, and these ends are defined by the possibilities of ameliorating the human condition. Advanced industrial society is approaching the stage where continued progress would demand the radical subversion of the prevailing direction and organization of progress. This stage would be reached when material production (including the necessary services) becomes automated to the extent that all vital needs can be satisfied while necessary labor time is reduced to marginal time. From this point on, technical progress would transcend the realm of necessity, where it served as the instrument of domination and exploitation which thereby limited its rationality; technique would become subject to the free play of faculties in the struggle for the pacification of nature and of society. (…) Such a state is envisioned in Marx’s notion of the ‘abolition of labor’.“ (27) The shift of industrial labour towards automatization is the greatest contribution of capitalism to the future. However, automatization in itself does not abolish repression but makes it, in the current state of capitalist reproduction, more impersonal and efficient. Limitless possibilities of scientific and technological advances are not founded on limitless possibilities of the development of capitalism, but on the limitless possibilities of the development of man’s creative capabilities. Capitalism has set those capabilities into motion and has directed the effects of their development to the destruction of life. The «power of technique» has become  from men alienated and capitalistically instrumentalized creative power. The real value of the technological development is not in the creation of «material wealth» but in the development of man’s creative powers that enable the preservation and humanization of life. In this context, the genuine play becomes possible.

Man’s playing being can be fully 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 and thus a compensatory activity for a lack of humanity, but a creative activity complementary to work, which means the highest form of man’s spontaneous realization as a creative being. The more man is capable to freely express in work his creative personality, 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 working processes. The fact that work is a purposeful and rational activity does not mean that the way of achieving the given effects cannot contribute to man’s humanization, which means that work should acquire increasingly artistic character. Even work which involves the possibility of man’s creative expression can be play, but it will not be as complete and spontaneous as a play in which man fully affirms his playing being – as in the love play which is the creation of the human in a pure sense. What is relative is the «degree» of spontaneity in the expression of man’s playing being. Plays are graded according to the possibilities they offer for the expression and development of man’s playing being. Love play is the highest form of realization of the playing being, but in it spontaneity and intensity of experiencing the human are not always the same.

Work, as a creative human activity which enables the survival of society, is not a negative but a positive foundation of the genuine physical culture based on Rousseau’s principle homo homini homo. The industrial as well as the scientific (post-industrial) work have a collectivistic character and are based on cooperation and solidarity. With work becoming not only an existential but also an essential activity – not only the creation of conditions for freedom but also the affirmation of man as a libertarian being – the dualism of work and play is abolished, which means that man becomes a unique libertarian-creative being, and work and play are only specific forms of realizing his indivisible human nature. It is not about discarding the principle of performance, it is about its being «placed» into the framework of creativity, that is, of satisfying genuine human needs (instead of producing for the sake of profit). The real result of creativity is not the production of objectiveness, but of men playing being and society as a playing community in an immediate form. The poetical does not only denote the nature of creativity, but also the nature of the one who creates and of that which is created. To reach the level of one’s true human powers means to be a free man.

The question of genuine play as a concrete social (historical) phenomenon can be posed only departing from the ruling destructive tendency of the development of the world, in the context of the life-creating praxis which is to win a new world. It is about the libertarian play expressing the emancipatory heritage of modern society and the vision of a future world – through the development of the playing being and man’s need of another man. This is what capitalism (by way of sport also) destroys: man’s need of another man. Life-creativeness is the essence of a genuine praxis, while the creation of a human world and ever greater certainty of its survival are its direct and most important result.

Charles Fourier: Labour as Play


Fourier is one of the fathers of the theory according to which labour can become play and as such a pleasure. In «German Ideology» Marx claims that Fourier wanted to «put, instead of today’s travail repugnant (repulsive labour), travail attrayant (attractive labour)». (6) Engels speaks similarly of Fourier’s view on labour in his work «Advance of the Movement for a Social Reform on the Continent»: «Fourier is trying to prove that everyone was born with a disposition to some kind of labour, that absolute inactivity is nonsense, something that has never existed and cannot exist: that the essence of the human spirit is to be active itself and move the body towards action and, therefore, there is no need to force people to be active, as it is the case in the current state of society, but only to properly direct their natural activity. He then goes on to argue that  labour and pleasure are identical and shows the absurdity of the present social system, which separates them, turning labour into torture and placing pleasure out of the reach of most of the workers; he then shows that in a rationally constituted society, labour can be what it is supposed to be, that is to say, pleasure, and everyone should follow their own personal inclinations …» (7) In his work «The Basis of the Critique of Political Economy» Marx criticizes Fourier for trying to reduce labour to play: «Work cannot become play, as Fourier wants it, who is greatly credited for declaring as the ultimate end the overcoming not only of distribution but of the way of production into a higher form.» (8) For Marx, «travail attractif», which appears as the «self-realization of an individual», is by no means a «sheer joke, sheer amusement, as Fourier, somewhat naively, like a grisette, would have it. A really free labour, for example, composing, is at the same time a highly serious matter, the most intensive kind of work». (9)

Fourier takes labour seriously, though not as a torture, but as a pleasure. Instead of trying to view play in the light of labour, Fourier tries to view labour in the light of play as a festive form, not as a frolic. While Marx insists on changing the nature of labour and thus on changing man’s relation to labour, Fourier insists on changing man’s relation to work by changing the form in which work is executed and by changing the meaning it is given. Fourier does not try to abolish work as a physical exertion, but to obtain for it a respect by creating such working conditions and atmosphere which will give it a «festive» character. Fourier: «And thus the customs and the policy of Harmony seek to bestow on the productive work all the illustriousness, all the support of luxury that is now applied only to non-productive jobs; while agricultural labour and workshops remain in the worst of misery». (10) He continues: «Workshops and agricultural labour should attract the worker by elegance and cleanness»… (11) The festive atmosphere, «illustriousness», «luxury», «elegance and cleanness» indicate that it is not only about the change of the worker’s relation to work, but also about the change in the ruling value-related model which is to enable work to be valued in the same way as non-working activities, and this should change the social position of workers. Fourier claims that «attractive work does not lead to exhaustion or spiritual pain. It is an amusement to a manual worker, free exercise of his abilities». (12) He sees in work a free activity of a free «Harmonian»  who is aware of the necessity of work, but is employed by nobody and nobody forces him to work: work is voluntary. Fourier does not say that explicitly, but it follows from his conception that man himself determines the length and intensity of work, which means that he works as long as it gives him pleasure. Instead of degrading him, work affirms his freedom and is a way of gaining respect.

According to Fourier, man’s nature is not determined by the nature of labour; it is man’s (erotic) nature that determines the nature of the relation to labour and thus the nature of labour. In antiquity, eroticized physical exercises in gymnasiums and fights at the Olympic playing grounds were a way of «winning over the favour of» the gods and a form of the Hellenes’ spiritual integration. With aristocratic manners and war (oppression), Nietzsche tries to turn the “new nobility” into an organic (physical) community. Huizinga sees in the war tournaments of noblemen and their bloody fierceness a supreme erotic stimulus and a means for the class integration of the aristocracy. For Fourier, labour is the most important means of social integration: society is the community of working people, while the working movement, which realizes man’s erotic nature, is the basic movement of one man towards another. By arguing for «work becoming sport», whereas the meaning of the term «sport» is closer to the aristocratic desportare (entertainment through competition) than to the modern conception of sport (record-mania), Fourier proposes the establishment of an (agricultural) «working tournament where each athlete will show his strength and agility, show off before the beauties who, at the end of the shift, will bring him lunch or snack». (13) Fourier does not speak of changing the nature of labour, but tries to make labour attractive and give it a playing form. Thus, man’s playing being expresses its superiority over labour as a limiting activity, and labour turns into «festivity» and «pleasure». A need for labour expresses man’s need to realize his erotic being. Labour is a way in which men can express their masculinity and impress the girls: the working community becomes the erotic community. The real result of labour has nothing to do with the purpose and aim of labour (to ensure existence as an existential necessity); it has to do with a reward acquired by labour, which is to win the favour of girls and affirm one’s masculinity. Essentially, the role of the «vestals» is to draw man’s attention away from work as an arduous activity. In Fourier, women are instrumentalized in the working process similarly to the way «noble ladies» were instrumentalized in chivalrous tournaments. The very presence of women gives an erotic charge to labour which is the essence of its «festive character». The need for a woman (erotic desire) is manifested as a working activity: work becomes a peculiar (fore) play where the erotic charge turns into a working enthusiasm. The festive atmosphere that should accompany the work is an eroticized ritual, while work releases the suppressed sexual energy. This is the main reason why man does not experience it as a physical and spiritual suffering, but as a pleasure. Fourier’s conception of sport is not marked by the principle of «natural selection» and the absolutized principle of performance, nor by the principle of idleness which is characteristic of the aristocratic desportare, but competition through a cultivated productivistic activity where everyone can freely express their human powers and where there are no winners or losers.  Instead of garlands and fanfares, a shy but motivating smile of girls represents the biggest «award». Chivalrous tournaments are festivities dedicated to the oppressive power of the aristocracy; Fourier’s working tournaments are festivities dedicated to man’s life-creating powers.

In «Harmony», nature is not experienced as the object of exploitation and destruction, but as a living space. Work is a form of man’s immediate relation to nature. It is dominated by life-creation: the transformation of nature becomes its cultivation (fertilization) and this becomes a symbolic projection of a (desired) relation to the woman. In Fourier’s agricultural labour there is no machine which represents the «technical civilization» as a mediator between man and nature; the mastered powers of nature do not appear as a means for man’s submission, for mutilation of his erotic nature and exploitation (destruction) of nature; there is no working technique which alienates man’s working skill from him, nor is there a productivistic movement based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance. In the industrial labour man is part of the machine and his working rhythm follows the rhythm of the industrial process of production, which destroys the biological rhythm of organism. Man is depersonalized in work above all by being denaturalized: his body loses biological properties and becomes a machine. In Fourier, the rhythm of bodily exertion is conditioned by man’s biological capacities and, in that context, by his working skill. Work is not dominated by a technical mimesis, but by a natural movement cultivated through work. This work does not mutilate man’s erotic being turning him into a mechanicized freak, as is the case with the capitalist form of industrial production. There is no technique (alienated from man) as a mediator between man and his own body and girls, and the dominant skill is working skill with the erotic nature. Work is a cultivated natural activity; the body is a cultivated natural body, while the relation between men and women is a cultivated natural relation. Fourier does not speak of one-sided physical work as if it were a conflict with man’s erotic (playing) being, as Marx does when he speaks of the industrial work, but of the manual work as a demonstration of masculinity and provocation for a sexual fantasy. Instead of work being impersonalized by machines, which reduces man to the working tool and force, Fourier insists on such a manual work which will express man’s libertarian and erotic nature through physical motion. Eroticized relation between men and women is the basis of working dynamics and its dramatic. Work does not destroy individuality and does not reduce workers to impersonalized working force; it is rather that man realizes his personality through work as a specific physical being – by way of a specific working activity through which he expresses his peculiar human qualities in a specific way. Unlike the festivities of the aristocracy, where the esthetics had a decorative character and served to glorify its parasitic (looting) exclusive class character as against the working «masses», Fourier’s esthetics is grounded on the erotic nature of man as a being who ensures his social existence through work and has a festive character. Work, body, nature, Eros, interpersonal relations, esthetics – all that is given in unity. Agricultural labour is not dominated by a playing motion, and therefore the playing body is not produced. It is deformed by work, sense-based mobility which enables the development of soft movements and the creative body is mutilated… Fourier tries to establish such a relation to work which will give it a human dimension and thus a playing character. By insisting on the «festive» character of work, Fourier suggests that bodily (working) movement itself should be suited to the nature of work, which means that it should be marked by a cultivated bodily posture and a motion expressing «masculinity». This conditions the dramatic character of the bodily expression and its rhythm. Work does not change its nature; what is changed is man’s relation to work which enables him to express (experience) through work his human being. One of the most important characteristics of Fourier’s theory is that it offers a possibility of a change-oriented relation to work based on a need to realize man’s playing being – without which there is not any true humanization of work. Instead of appearing at the existential, work appears at the essential level: it is not only the «primary life necessity» (Marx), it is the primary human necessity. Work produces sociability in an immediate form: work is not only the production of material goods; it is the production of interpersonal relations, which means of society as the community of happy people. The «Harmonians» work with a smile on their faces.

Erich Fromm recognizes play in the crafts from the XIII and XIV centuries: «There is no dichotomy of work and play, of work and culture.» (14) When he speaks of play, Fromm thinks of art – which makes craftsmanship closer to the ancient techne as the art of shaping guided by virtue. Craftsmanship is play in the technical sense, but not in the essential sense. Fromm overlooks the position of the craftsman (worker) in the working process and in society, the evaluation of work and his experience of his own working activity. The work of a craftsman is not voluntary, especially not spontaneous; he is not guided by the artistic passion, but by existential needs; a craftsman does not work as a free man, his work is commissioned in a society in which people’s work is not valued according to its creativeness but according to their wealth; where «cultural» status is not acquired by the development and realization of one’s cultural being, but by the acquisition of works of art: a work created by a craftsman is alienated from him and is the private property of the members of parasitic classes and as such is a means for proving their elitist status and degradation of workers (craftsmen). As far as skill is concerned, it is not only a «technical» part of play; it involves the development of man’s physical and spiritual (creative) powers. Unlike the crafting skill which is limited to the manual work that proceeds in a limited (closed) space and does not enable a harmonious development of physical (playing) capacities, the acquisition of the playing skill involves a complete development of the body, senses, emotions, spirit, in a natural environment, the only place where man can attain his natural being. There is no play if man does not express spontaneously and freely his playing being and thus experience himself as a playing (free) being. Play is dominated by the esthetical, which means man’s endeavour to express his authentic creative personality. At the same time, play has a social character: it is dominated by a spontaneous interpersonal relation based on the movement of one man towards another. The immediate product of play is not an object, but the development of man’s playing being and of interpersonal relations.

Play as the «Respite from Work»


Aristotle’s view that play is the «respite from labour» is the most widely accepted starting point in determining the relation between labour and play. In ancient Greece, it was not physical labour, which was the «privilege» of slaves and as such unworthy of a free man (Hellene), it was the execution of civil duties which were the precondition for the survival of polis. In his work «Culture and Society», Marcuse claims that play as a whole is necessarily connected with something else, from which it derives and at which it aims – and this something else has also been previously mentioned as labour in the characteristics of composure, tension, worry etc. (2) Marcuse concludes that in one single “throw out” of a ball by a man who plays lies an endlessly larger triumph of the freedom of man’s being over objectivization than in the highest achievement of the technical world. (3) According to Marcuse, in this disregard of objectiveness man comes precisely to himself in the dimension of the freedom he is deprived of in work. (4) A need for play as «amusement» is possible only in the relation to labour as a coercive one-sided activity: without labour there is no play. A lack of freedom in labour becomes the basis for the «freedom in play», whose main characteristics are «voluntariness» and a «lack of effort», which becomes a synonym for «pleasure». Man is not a unified creative being; he is reduced to the «worker» and «player», depending on the sphere he is in. In this context, man’s playing being is not the authentic source of his humanity and the basis of his totalizing (liberating-creative) practice, the starting point is rather play as a specific phenomenon which is a compensation for the unrealized (suppressed) humanity. Play is not the realization of man’s liberating-creative nature; it is a psycho-physical response to a work reduced to repression. Marcuse points this out indirectly when he insists not on passing the ball but on “throwing out” the ball, which is not the expression of freedom but serves to give vent to a suppressed being and its discontent. The nature of work determines the nature of the respite from labour, which means the nature of play. Alienated labour cannot result in a free play, but only in a play as a form of letting off the steam of non-freedom: play as the respite from alienated labour is not de-alienation; it is an alienated form of de-alienation. At the same time, the nature of play is determined by man’s physical and playing abilities. Alienated labour produces a mutilated man who can realize his mutilated playing being in a mutilated way. Man who is de-eroticized through labour and who is deformed by a one-sided and excessive physical exertion cannot manifest his erotic nature in play, which becomes a respite but, at the same time, a preparation for work. As far as the ball is concerned, it is a historical product and so is the skill of “throwing out” the ball and the playing body. The ball is “objectivized” and man must have appropriate physical abilities and playing sensibility, which involves the playing skill, in order to play with the ball. At the same time, “throwing out” the ball does not only express man’s relation to work, it symbolically expresses man’s relation towards another man, which means to the value-related model embodied in play. The purpose of “throwing out” the ball is not to liberate man from the chains of the capitalist civilization and to develop human powers; it is the sterilization of his critical conscious and change-aspiring will («pacification»), as well as the renewal of his working powers. «Readiness to work» represents, according to Adorno, «one of the hidden tasks of sport». (5)

Sport has been formed as an institution at the time of the most intensive industrial development and therefore industrial labour represents the form of labour with the most profound influence on sport. Unlike slave-owning society and feudalism, where physical culture was a privilege of the ruling class and where work and the working body represent the negative basis of physical culture relative to which the «beautiful» is determined (slave work and slave body in antiquity, peasant work and body in the Middle Ages), in capitalism, the industrial way of production conditions the nature of the sports movement and body, as well as of the bourgeois «physical culture» (bodily drill). At the same time, there is an aggressive muscularity which is a physical manifestation of the ruthless combative spirit in a society marked with the bellum omnium contra omnes. It is about the conflict between the original spirit of liberal capitalism, which insists on an atomized society based on the Social Darwinist principle (which obtains legitimacy of being «humane» through the slogans such as “Equal chances!”, «Personal initiative!» and the like) and the ruling spirit of the monopolistic capitalism ruled by the principle «Big fish devours small fish!» and the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance expressed in the Olympic maxim citius, altius, fortius.

Sport and Labour


Historically, play is the privilege of the ruling classes. It is not a respite from labour nor is it a preparation for labour; it is a means for ensuring their domineering social position and for proving their «superiority» over the working layers. Play includes activities which contribute to the strengthening of their oppressive power (war games, hunting…) as well as the activities which prove their elitist status. Finally, play is part of the privileged life-style of the ruling class. Hence opting for play is not the matter of one’s individual choice, it is a class duty. Unlike the previous ruling classes, the bourgeois seeks to integrate the oppressed working «masses» into its spiritual orbit and thus prevent their libertarian struggle. This acquired a special political significance when workers managed to obtain the eight-hour working time which enabled them to become class-conscious and politically engaged: play became one of the most important means for colonization of the workers’ leisure time and for their depolitization. The ruling forms of play have always been the embodiment of the ruling relations and values in a condensed ideological form. Even when, temporarily, they were a form of the political struggle against the ruling order, they remained a way of spiritual integration of the oppressed into the ruling order. Sport is a typical example. That is why Coubertin, in his Olympic philosophy, insists on the principle to «rule in the heads» as the supreme «supraclass» pedagogical (political) principle. He was aware that real social changes were impossible if the workers remained within the spiritual horizon of the capitalist order. Here it should be noted that the following discussion is to supplement what was said in the book «Sport, Capitalism, Destruction», regarding the criticism of Plessner’s, Habermas’s, Rigauer’s and Lasch’s views on the relation between sport and work.(1)

«Humanization of Sport»


Can sport be «humanized»? For Coubertin, this question is meaningless since, for him, Olympism, which is the quintessence of sport, is the «cult of humanism», meaning the «cult of the existing world». If we depart from the modern concept of humanism, based on the guiding principles of the French Revolution, sport deals with the emancipatory legacy of modern times. Sport is not the symbol of a humanistic civilization; it is rather a form in which the «technical civilization» deals with the objective possibilities of creating a humanistic civilization. Sport is not characterized by humanistic challenges, but by a technical mimesis, technocratic efficiency, functionality and the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance… A sporting body is the symbolic manifestation of the «technical civilization». The «perfect work of the machine» is the mimetic impulse arousing an «esthetic» inspiration in a sportsman. Not only does sport step out of the existing world, it steps out of the living world as well.

Sport is a radical conflict with the ancient ideal of man’s existence, as well as with the humanistic heritage of the Renaissance, Christianity, aristocratic and popular culture and philanthropic and dancing movements. At the time when sport was becoming an institution, it was Tissié who saw in sport a «muscular primitivism» and a conflict with Western humanistic traditions. Sport eliminated all forms of physical culture which were connected with classes, social strata and peoples. By way of the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance the basic forms of a free physical activism, whose purpose as a human activity can only be grasped within the concrete cultures in which they appeared, are reduced to sports events. A leveling took place on the basis of «objectivized» quantitative criteria, which led to their losing the quality of a natural, cultural and individual human expression. Instead of expressing their life force as natural beings, of being representatives of their cultures and manifesting their peculiar human, which means creative (spiritual) powers, people, in the form of «sportsmen», became denaturalized and dehumanized storm troopers of political centers of power and moving billboards of capitalist companies. Victories and records express a degeneration of the original natural, cultural and individual needs and man’s degradation to the tool for fulfiling political ends and material interests. Instead of the triumph of cultures, we are witnessing the triumph of colonial and destructive spirit of the capitalist «internationalism». By the institutionalization of sport, at the end of the XIX century, a repressive institutionalization of citizens’ free (non-working) physical activism took place: sport became a tool for physical and spiritual integration of people into the ruling order. Instead of a free individual, a loyal and usable «citizen» «was obtained»; instead of a class-based integration, a «supraclass» – «national» integration was established; instead of affirming the national cultures, of being a form of the struggle for freedom (of workers, colonized peoples, women) and the development of individual human powers – «free» physical activism in the form of sport becomes a battlefield, where the most powerful capitalist corporations fight between themselves, and a means for conquering the world. Countries which «lag behind» as far as historical development is concerned, have accepted sport as one of the ways of bridging the gap between them and the developed capitalist world and of becoming part of the «modern» civilization. The development of capitalist proprietary relations in villages and disintegration of the traditional social organization; atomization of society according to the principles homo homini lupus and bellum omnium contra omnes; development of trades, industries, commerce and, based on that, growth of towns and working force which had to be controlled after the official working hours; endeavour to «discipline» population in villages and prepare them for industrial work; to homogenize society on national basis (so that the struggle of workers from the field of class struggle can be transferred to the field of the «struggle for national interests» under the patronage of the bourgeoisie in the form of military structures) – all these led to the disappearance of the traditional forms of libertarian (cultural) physical activism and to the development of sport.

The development of capitalism as the order of destruction led to the degeneration of the original spirit of sport, which became a populist circus-like entertainment. Instead of developing faith in the «eternal values of capitalism», sport has become an instrument for suppressing the discontent of the oppressed and for their idiotization. For the leading theorists of sport, like the American sociologist Allen Guttmann, the future of mankind cannot be imagined without sport. It is, in fact, only another way of saying that there is no future without capitalism, which means that capitalism is “the end of history“ (Fukuyama). At the same time, they proclaim sport the most important means in the struggle for a «humane society», meaning the «perfectioning» of capitalism. To try to make sport the most important means for combating drug-abuse, alcoholism, violence and other pathological forms of young people’s behaviour, is as justified as to try to eradicate mosquitoes with atom bombs. Sport is not a product of man’s libertarian and creative practice; it is an institutionalized destructive violence and as such is the production of the ruling relations and values in an immediate form – which are the origin of all evil. It degenerates man by submitting him to the existential interests of the ruling order and by creating an ecocide conscious. Sport adds fuel to the flame of capitalism, which, if it is not extinguished, will turn the world into a completely burned place.

Even among those who are well-aware of the fatal consequences of the development of sport, the prevailing tendency is to separate «professional» and «amateur» sport and thus save sport as a pedagogical method. They do not treat sport as an institutionalized value model which is a concrete historical product and which, in its original form, is the ideology of liberal capitalism, but proclaim it an idealized projection of universal human values and thus the supreme «humanistic» challenge. By doing this, they come close to the views of Coubertin, Baillet-Latour, Diem, Brundage and other fervent champions of «amateur sport» – the most reactionary and militant ideologues of capitalism – who saw in the «moral» values of sport its primary pedagogical significance. It should not be forgotten that Coubertin, who insisted that sport should obtain a religious character (like the ancient religio athletae), called professional sportsmen «circus gladiators» and proclaimed money the «greatest enemy of sport». By the end of his life Coubertin accepted the sports (capitalist) reality and gave to professional sportsmen the dimension which had been reserved only for amateurs. This, however, does not change the essence of his Olympic philosophy, which insists on sport as a (positive) «religion» that is beyond both Christianity and «ethnic» religions, which, according to him, are ranked lower in terms of value than Christianity. Interestingly, at the time of the development of commercialism and professionalization of sport in the West, the ideologues of «real socialism» elevated amateur sport to the highest possible level and turned it into one of the chief ideological means for criticizing the «rotten capitalism». This is one of the main reasons why in the Soviet Union the «morally clean» Coubertin became a mythological figure, in spite of being one of the most militant opponents of socialism and a fanatical champion of fascism. By an ideological hocus-pocus, Coubertin has turned, from a zealous anti-communist into the mascot of «real socialism».

It is only when the destructive tendencies of the development of capitalism are fully understood that we can see the disastrous consequences of dividing sport into a «bad» professional and «good» amateur sport. The upbringing by way of sport involves such a way of thinking that glorifies destruction and renounces the idea of future – which is not only a libertarian, but the basic existential imperative. At the same time, it is the kind of upbringing which turns people into enemies – destroying young people’s hope that a humane world is possible, as well as their need for such a world. The question is, in fact, what existential and value model should be adopted: should we struggle for sport which develops the spirit of destruction and degenerates man or for those forms of physical activism which develop man’s cultural, creative, physical, social and visionary being?

Pedagogy of Libertarian Physical Culture


The relation to physical culture should be seen in the framework of its relation to school, while the relation to school should be seen in the context of the current development of society. The current tendency is to eliminate school as an educational institution and turn students into specialty-idiots. The tacit aim of the «course of reforms» leading us to the «modern world» is to submit every segment of life to the circulation and reproduction of capital. The neoliberal project of the development of capitalism as a global order involves dealing with national cultures, libertarian traditions of mankind and with a reasonable man who is capable of understanding his real needs and of establishing a critical and change-aspiring distance to the ruling order. It is all about the destruction of the critical and creative mind and reducing it to operationalized intellect. Instead of creating a humanistic civilization, school is becoming a means for creating a «technical civilization», which is a modern form of the «civilized menagerie» created by capitalism. In that context, physical culture is expelled from school and «sports education» is introduced, which is reduced to a physical and mental mutilation of young people. The «liberation» of students from uniform physical exercises, which once prevailed on lessons of «physical culture», proceeds by way of «sports competition». Exercises mechanizing the body and creating a militaristic spirit are replaced by a dehumanized and denaturalized playing skill and a ruthless combative individualism. Desk-mates are no longer «comrades from the same ranks», performing the same «task», but are «opponents» in the «struggle for a place under the sun». Instead of developing versatile and creative personalities, teachers of sports education become body technicians and slave drivers and as such are the long arm of mafia organizations in the form of sports clubs and political clans.

If we bear in mind that school is a social institution and that the nature of society determines the nature of school, then there is no point in speaking of a «new» school without mentioning a new society. There is no «free and open school» in a society where the entire life is submitted to the operation of capital and manipulation carried out by alienated centres of political power; in a society where knowledge (reduced to «information») is not a road to the truth, but a commodity on the market and as such is a means for destroying man’s libertarian dignity and the emancipatory heritage of mankind. There can be no «freedom for school» if society is ruled by the tyranny of capital, repressive institutions and corrupted political clans. There can be no «freedom for students» at schools if there is no freedom for man in society. The struggle for a “new” school can make sense only if at the same time it is the struggle for a new society.

The pedagogy of libertarian physical culture includes the following:

(1) Theoretical part. It includes the child’s becoming aware of itself as a free, creative and social being and thus the development of the body as an integral part of its personality. The child should be aware of the purpose of physical culture and be able to make the difference between a libertarian physical culture and repressive forms of physical activism. Teachers should explain the nature of the body and its functioning and should help young people to respect their own body which marks their human authenticity. Young people should learn that a proper diet, physical activity and exercising are not only the preconditions for a proper development of their body and preservation of health, but also for a proper development of their personality. It is about directing young people towards an active social life, and not towards a narcissistic obsession with their own body and loneliness.

(2) Body hygiene. On classes of physical culture young people should learn the proper physical exercises they should do every day. Teachers should teach them by way of demonstration and correction. This offers a lot of possibilities for implementing scientific discoveries. Floor exercise and apparatus that contribute to the development without risk of injuries should be insisted upon. The basic principle of physical health is an adaptive and creative agility. The work with young people should develop a need for everyday physical exercises. As far as gyms are concerned, instead of a military atmosphere, gyms should have a libertarian and friendly atmosphere. Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood – this should be the banner in every school gym and in that spirit murals and stained glass windows should be made…

(3) Return to nature. The teachers of libertarian physical culture should initiate a return to nature, which is not only our immediate existential, but also a historical, esthetical and global living space. The purpose of a return to nature is not to «conquer» it, as is the case in sport, but to preserve it and to cultivate young people. Only in nature can man attain his natural being. The struggle for a healthy man becomes the struggle for a healthy living environment: in healthy nature – healthy man (homo sanus in natura sana). The teachers of libertarian physical culture should launch a campaign within which every school should be responsible for preserving one part of the environment; every child should plant at least one tree every year; students should explore nature, take care of animals and draw ecological maps; schools should develop brotherly relations with villages and pupils should help old people’s households… Here we depart from one of the most important postulates of Rousseau’s pedagogy: if a child is to become a good man, it should be given the opportunity to do good acts.

(4) Folk dances and other forms of dances. It is a traditional form of social activism which returns man to his cultural being and is the most authentic expression of man’s playing nature. As far back as in the ancient Greece people realized the importance of music, in addition to gymnastics, for man’s cultivation.

(5) Plays. Libertarian physical culture does not discard playing skills in sport; it rather tries to cultivate them by creating new (artistic) plays which, instead of a ruthless rivalry, will be characterized by cooperation and tolerance. It means that boys and girls, as playing beings, will be able to play together – which will lead to the abolishment of segregation according to the gender, on which sport is based, without which there is no humane society.

As far as desirable physical abilities are concerned, libertarian physical culture does not emphasize strength, speed and stamina, but creative agility, which means a creative body which is in unity with man’s creative spirit. It is the basis for the development of a creative skill that is not characterized by the movement of man against another man, as is the case in sport, but by the movement of man towards another man. Instead of striving for a body-machine and mechanical motion, based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance, libertarian physical culture strives for an artistic body and artistic motion. Instead of being the bodily mechanics, physical culture should become the bodily poetics: bodily motion should express man’s poetic being – a poetic motion of man towards another man. The development of a rich creative personality, humanisation of man’s natural being and society as the community of free people – these are the ultimate aims of libertarian physical culture.

School is an institution which can carry out an organized campaign aimed at saving children from bodily and mental destruction. It should become a spiritual workshop, open 365 days a year, where every child can have a chance to develop its talents and socialize in a way which will help them develop their cultural being. Since physical culture is a pedagogical area which, together with art, offers a good opportunity for the development of bodily, spiritual and social being of young people and enables man’s return to mother nature which is increasingly bleeding – it deserves to have a special place in the system of education.

The struggle for libertarian physical culture means the struggle for teachers who are strong advocates of the libertarian and cultural tradition. They should acquire a broad humanistic education, which will enable them to understand the nature of man as a universal creative being of freedom, they should be aware of the difference between the true physical culture and repressive (destructive) forms of physical activism, and they should become the creators of a rich culture of movements used for cultivating man’s playing being. Humanistic education includes:

(1) Man’s libertarian self-conscious as a historical and social being, which means man’s awareness of his universal creative powers and unalienable human and civil rights.

(2) Awareness of social causes of injustice and processes that cause the destruction of life.

(3) Awareness of the existing possibilities of the development of society and eradication of the causes of injustice and destruction.

(4) Idea of a society that should be striven for.

Instead of being silent participants in the destruction of children and employees of sports clubs, teachers of libertarian physical culture should become the carriers of Promethean fire and as such the leading figures in education. Their primary role should not be to have the classes of physical culture, but to initiate, organize and conduct various activities of pupils, inside and outside school, like Vasa Pelagić, the great Serbian «popular teacher» whose work represents extraordinary lessons in physical culture as the means for building a physically fit, spiritually rich, nationally proud and socially active individual.

«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.

School – Faculty


The civilization deprived of culture is corresponded by upbringing without education, which means pedagogy deprived of humanistic essence. Under the influence of «globalism», «physical culture» was expelled from school and «physical education» was introduced, which indicates the unity of the body and a positive character, the «spirit» being a synonym for character. The name «physical education» implies that it is the body that should be educated, whereas it is about a repressive model of physical exercises mutilating man both physically and mentally and turning him into a «citizen» suited to the nature of the ruling order. This is contained both in the principle mens sana in corpore sano and in Coubertin’s principle mens fervida in corpore lacertoso. The highest challenges of «sports pedagogy» – «overcoming the human», «perfectioning» and the like insist on the development of man’s physical powers, and not on the development of interpersonal relations and on the overcoming of the existing world. Hence «sports pedagogy» discards the principles without which modern society cannot be imagined: Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood. Basically, it is about a development of human powers reduced to establishing interpersonal relations which are the embodiment of the ruling spirit and involve a struggle with the idea of future. «Sports education» is marked by physical one-sidedness, which corresponds to the model of school that abolishes the right to individual difference and seeks to «produce» certain «profiles» of experts who meet the demands of a dehumanized technological development. Man’s submission to the established order is mediated by the development of technological processes, so the impression is being made that «technical world», as an autonomous phenomenon, is to be «blamed» for the established processes of specialization (an increasingly early selection and mental and physical mutilation of children), and not the capitalist order that turns science and technique into dehumanized and destructive forces. The whole system is marked by competition and elimination based on (destructive) performance. The most important task of «sports education» is not only to subordinate a child’s physical development, starting from an increasingly early age, to a particular sport, but to deal with the critical mind and subordinate his spiritual development to the requirements of the absolutized principle of performance and the maxim homo homini lupus. «Physical education» should contribute to the development of an aggressive and ruthless individualistic combative-productivistic spirit in young people – according to the spirit of the «New Age» (neo-liberalism). That is why Hobbes, Arnold and Coubertin are still relevant, and Rousseau, Goethe and Schiller are not. Instead of sociability based on solidarity and tolerance, there is a «sociability» reduced to a merciless struggle between the «opponents» for acquiring the highest social values and for survival. It is about imposing on children, from an early age, a Social Darwinist model of life, that is to say, about the reduction of the human community to a «civilized» menagerie, the teacher of «physical education» being the embodiment of the ruling «competitive» spirit of the order and the body technician, while the coach is the whip of capital. The acceptance of the order in which survival and social status are achieved through a ruthless fight is the basis of modern sports (physical) education. The spiritus movens of man’s physical activism is not his fear of repressive authority; it is his fear of being beaten in the increasingly ruthless struggle for a place under the sun.

Physical education was, and still is, one of the earliest forms of children’s repressive socialization. The ruling «pedagogical principles» have always served to support the bars of the cage, and not to make room for free individual development. Instead of being a means for developing versatile and creative people, «physical education» is becoming a means for physical, spiritual and social mutilation of young people. Just as upbringing involves a certain type of education, so education involves a certain type of upbringing. Education that produces «specialists» involves upbringing the aim of which is not the creation of a versatile and proud individual who will have a (critical and change-oriented) relation to the world departing from his (human) needs, but of specialty-idiots who (by their mutilated positivistic minds) become the ideal means of capital and alienated centers of political power for realizing their own interests. The instrumentalization of the body becomes the instrumentalization of man. The typical examples are the so called «top sportsmen», who are dehumanized (decultivated) «physical workers» ready to mutilate and kill their «colleagues» and mutilate and destroy their own organism – only to acquire «fame» and money. They become a spectacular embodiment of the supreme values of «sports education» and as such the «idols» of young people. As far as space is concerned, sports centers become modern temples and thus a means for man’s enclosure into the spiritual horizon of the capitalist civilization. In the gloomy barracks (which will become a model for the construction of gyms in schools and at universities) and with the help of militaristic drill, the vividness of spirit and imagination is lost. Sports stadiums and centers take man away from nature, and sport is an activity that destroys in him the feeling of belonging to nature. Even in those sports that take place in nature, nature is reduced to a «competitive space» and thus has a technical character.

The repressive pedagogy of «physical education» of the bourgeois society (which first appeared in barracks and includes jamborees) has become the model for the pedagogy of «physical education» in the countries of «real socialism». To an authoritarian system corresponds an authoritarian school to which corresponds an authoritarian «physical culture». In the so called «socialism», the role of school was to produce loyal «socialist citizens»; today, the role of school is to produce loyal «capitalist citizens». The purpose of the then physical culture was to produce, by way of a repressive model of physical exercises, an «average» citizen, who is «part of the community» and who obeys the authority of the ruling political will embodied in the state. The development of a «new» capitalism brought about the atomization of people, based on the fight for personal interests. Society is no longer a community of people the integration of which is dictated and ensured by the totalitarian political and economic power of the state (the ruling party), but a conflict of private interests according to increasingly ruthless «rules of the game», based on the principles homo homini lupus and bellum omnium contra omnes. The basis for ensuring survival and acquiring a social status is not only the loyalty to the ruling political will, but also the loyalty to the ruling principle of monopolistic capitalism «Big fish devours small fish!». By attacking the (authoritarian) «socialist collectivism», the ideologues of capitalism do not seek to overcome it by advocating an authentic community, but to deal once and for all with the very ideal of community based on solidarity and social justice. Instead of creating a humanistic civilization, school becomes an instrument for creating a capitalist civilization based on the absolutized principle of profit. «Physical education» becomes an instrument for adjusting life to the rhythm dictated by the increasingly faster operation of capital, increasingly higher risk of living, new requirements imposed by the development of technique and, in that context, increasing domination of the so called «intellectual» over physical forms of labour.

In contemporary capitalism the autonomy of the faculty as a scientific (pedagogical) institution has completely been abolished and it has become a tool for realizing the strategic interests of the ruling order. This can be seen from the changes in the names of the faculty: the «Faculty of Physical Culture» has changed its name into the «Faculty of Sport and Physical Education», or the «Faculty of Sport». As sport is becoming an increasingly important instrument for depolitization of the oppressed and for «making money», the pressure on the faculties to become «scientific» service to sports associations and clubs which «do business» according to mafia principles, is becoming greater. Professors, who have become «expert consultants» in sports organizations, use the authority of the faculties and their titles in order to obtain «scientific» legitimacy for the increasingly ruthless destruction of people in sport. Students have become hostages, and an increasingly important source of financing, of the interest groups which hold control over the faculties. The critical mind is abolished as well as the cultural heritage and an immediate relation between sports show-business and the faculty is being established. In this context, the difference between sport and physical culture is abolished and thus a possibility of establishing a critical distance to sport from the aspect of libertarian physical culture and of creating a humane physical culture. Sport is deprived of its historical and social essence and becomes a phenomenon sui generis, which by way of humanistic rhetoric («peace», «happiness», «progress», «beauty» …) obtains a mythological character. In this way, its propagators are no longer responsible for the consequences of sport when it comes to physical and mental health of young people and to the ruling (destructive) order produced by it. «Sports pedagogy», as it is taught at faculties, is not marked by a humanistic, but by a technical education. Instead of subjects which emphasize physical movement as an expression of man’s libertarian-creative nature, prevail sports and technical subjects, which use man and his body as a means for realizing inhuman ends. The faculties do not produce pedagogues, but experts for particular sports and body technicians whose «pedagogical work» is reduced to physical and mental mutilation of young people. Instead of humanization, physical and mental drill, based on (inhuman) science and realized by technical means, becomes the basis of contemporary pedagogical practice. Man is abolished as a biological and humane being, and reduced to a mechanical being.

As far as the division in physical culture, sport and recreation is concerned, it is conditioned by physical abilities, and ultimately, by the existing division of labour and the nature of the ruling (Social Darwinist) existential and value model, and not by the development of man’s playing being. We are dealing here, only apparently, with three value models based on physical powers. In this division, physical culture corresponds to the upbringing of children for the ruling order; sport corresponds to a «mature» phase in life in which man openly «fights for a place under the sun»; recreation is meant to preserve health and prolong life once man leaves the fight for survival. It is not a humanistic, but a functional and instrumental conception. Basically, sport, which has become the industry of death, is the supreme value challenge. As far as the «General Theory of Physical Education» is concerned, it is a way of putting under the same roof physical education in schools, sport and recreation. The idea is to build, by way of positivistic disciplines, such a «theoretical» bastion around sport which will prevent any «attacks» on sport from the point of view of the emancipatory legacy of physical culture, art, pedagogy, sociology, philosophy… The conflict between sport and physical culture is basically a conflict between a repressive civilization, whose sport is a condensed ideological expression and which is based on the Olympic (oppressive) principle, and a (possible) humanistic civilization based on the Promethean (libertarian) principle.

„Sports Pedagogy“

Thomas Arnold, the most influential reformer of the British system of education in the XIX century, was one of the first to proclaim Hobbes’ principles bellum omnium contra omnes and homo homini lupus est, disguised in Christian moralistic rhetoric, the fundamental pedagogical principles. Social Darwinism became the basis of the «elitist» pedagogy which was eagerly accepted by Pierre de Coubertin, who built on it, discarding the Christian veil, the foundations of his «utilitarian pedagogy» that became the indisputable basis for physical education both in the fascist Germany and in the whole «civilized world». Its basic aim was not «disciplining of the body», but confrontation with senses, Eros, spontaneity, imagination, and the creation of a sado-masochistic character, which means the mutilation of a child’s personality and his fitting into the model of a submissive and usable subject. Coubertin clearly indicated that the aim of physical education is not to produce a physically healthy person, especially not a child’s cultural development, but to destroy the libertarian (self) conscious and to create a «positive» man. Hence he discards the maxim mens sana in corpore sano and opts for the maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso. Coubertin’s sports pedagogy seeks to produce «masters» and is guided by the following views: «The battle at Waterloo was won on the sports fields of Eton», ascribed to Wellington, and «Restore the colonial glory of France!» («Rebronzer la France!») These views are corresponded by the following view: „Upon the fields of friendly strife are sown the seeds which, on other days, on other fields, will bear the seeds of victory.“ (1) held by the American general Douglas MacArthur, which was and still is the undisputed guiding principle of the sports pedagogy in the USA. «Sports pedagogy» established upbringing without education. It is one of the basic reasons why it does not have a theoretical part: its aim is not to enlighten the young and cultivate their body, but to produce a ruthless belligerent character and an «iron body». Instead of promoting spontaneity, imagination, pleasure, «sports pedagogy» promotes productivism, utilitarianism, masochism… «The habit of obeying the commands» represents one of the basic principles both of Coubertin’s «utilitarian pedagogy» and of the bourgeois «physical education».

A pursuit of virtue (arete) is the basis of the ancient paideia, on which the ancient ideal of human existence is based. Physical motion is the expression of a spiritual motion based on man’s endeavours to fit into the cosmic order. The ancient conception of cosmos and man’s cosmic essence is corresponded by a holistic approach to man as the unique physical, ethical and esthetic being, whence follows the principle of a harmonious development of human faculties as one of the basic elements of ancient eurhythmics. In the Hellenic world, the Olympic agonistes was modeled after the cosmological and not after the anthropological conception. At the same time, physical exercises became a peculiar service to gods, which Coubertin himself pointed out claiming that «by chiseling his body with exercise as a sculptor chisels a statue” the athlete in antiquity was “honouring the gods”.(2) Prevails the spirituality of the bodily movement that arises from a “religious feeling” which pervades the whole life. Instead of insisting on a muscular body, as is the case in sport, the highest challenge for physical exercises in antiquity was a geometrically constructed bodily proportion, corresponding to the ideal of a closed and final world and representing the basis of the Hellenes’ racial (self) recognition. The ruling model of the physical and the spiritual, as well as the principle of a harmonious development of the physical and the spiritual, were derived from the dominant conception of the world which originated from the very essence of the Hellenic society and their strivings to preserve the established order: the ancient physical culture was of a conservative character. In addition, in antiquity there was no principle of “greater effort”, the dominant principles being “measure is the best” (metron ariston) and “nothing too much” (meden agan), as well as the principle of “beautiful and good” (kalokagathia). Instead of polis and a spiritual vault, represented by the Olympic gods, as the basis of human self-determination and mediators in interpersonal relations, the basis of man’s “self-conscious” and mediator in “interpersonal” relations in sport is the animal world, degenerated by a technical world: a sports competition is of a Social Darwinist and progressistic character.

In Rousseau’s pedagogy, man’s relation towards another man is mediated by man’s relation towards nature and towards his own body as his immediate nature. A natural motion is becoming the motion of one man towards another (homo homini homo). This man is not denaturalized and thus dehumanized; he is not deprived of impulses, affects and senses; it is a complete man, who is in nature and in unity with his natural being; who aspires to a universal body as the expression of his universal life-creating powers… In Rousseau, (as well as in Goethe, Schiller, Klopstock, Pestalozzi, Fit, Guts Muths and other philanthropists), a «return to nature» is the preparation for living in society: nature becomes man’s ally in the fight against the ancien régime. He seeks to free man from a patterned behaviour which kills his vividness, to make him independent from his childhood so as to enable him to develop his personality though his own life-creating activism and the experience acquired in this way. To liberate man from spiritual tutelage and help him acquire the character of an independent and free person – this is the basic purpose of Rousseau’s «return to nature»: a natural movement becomes the synonym for a free movement. Rousseau: «Those constant exercises, left to the guidance of nature, strengthen the body and not only do they not blunt the spirit but, on the contrary, create in us the only kind of reason for which the period of childhood is capable of, and which is most needed at any age. They teach us to recognize the real use of our forces, the relation of our body to the bodies around us, and the use of natural tools within our reach suited to our organs.» (3) Speaking of the «ancient nations», Rousseau emphasizes the importance of «gymnastic exercises» for the «bodily and spiritual strength which makes those nations so different from today’s people.» (4) By way of a free movement, man is connected with nature and is humanized as a cultural and natural being, since nature is not for man only an immediate existential space, as it is for the animal, but is a space where he can realize his working skill and spiritual powers. Most importantly, a «return to nature» means to return man to his natural being which has been alienated from him by the development of civilization.

A faith in the possibility of actualizing the true human nature is the basis of Rousseau’s relation towards man. What makes Rousseau’s «savage» «noble» is the capacity to become human. It is precisely this potential humanity that makes man human and, through Emil and upbringing and education, it becomes reality. Class society degenerates man, while towns and prevailing forms of movements mutilate him and kill his naturalness and humanity. It is no accident that Rousseau does not speak of an escape to nature, but of a «return to nature». Rousseau finds in nature a living environment which enables man to develop his authentic human powers and become noble. Rousseau’s «return to nature» involves an uncorrupted humanity based on the existential unity of man and nature. Rousseau’s «good savage» is actually an idealized picture of man who has developed his human powers, unlike the aristocracy whose natural and human powers were degenerated by its parasitic life. Rousseau’s pedagogical conception is based on natural production and manual labour, which means that there are no technical and scientific spheres which are alienated from man and which mediate between man and nature. The skill man acquires does not become the power with which man seeks to control and use nature, but with which he can be completely united with it. Emil does not seek to become the «master and owner of nature», but to live in nature using his cultivated natural powers. Between man and nature there is no civilizatory mediation: nature itself produces mimetic impulses which man spontaneously absorbs with his senses and they condition his (natural) behaviour. The immediate challenge is not an a priori knowledge and the skill acquired in that context, but natural circumstances, and by meeting that challenge man gains experience and develops his human powers in the form of a skill which enables him to act freely. Human movement is by its character a cultivated natural movement by which man simultaneously develops his natural and human being.

«Sports pedagogy» is a radical conflict with the ideal of cultivating the human nature. It emphasizes the «disciplining» of man, which means the suppression of individual dispositions, repression of the body, and man’s development after the model of an instrumentalized «citizen». Instead of the conscious of an emancipated man, the conscious of a subject is created. Unreasonable Social Darwinist («competitive») physical activism aimed at quantitatively measured performance, which mutilates man’s playing being, represents even today the basis of «physical (sports) education». In sport, man’s «will to power» is, in fact, the realization of Social Darwinist and progressistic spirit: sports competition does not produce cultural goods, nor does it develop man’s cultural being; it destroys it and creates a civilization without culture. In «sports pedagogy», human can-be is not based on the development of man as a universal creative being of freedom, but on the development of the ruling order: man is reduced to a tool used by capitalism for the realization of «progress». Rousseau seeks to liberate man from the fetters of a repressive civilization and to develop his authentic human powers; sport seeks to «liberate» man from the emancipatory heritage of mankind and create a «civilized» barbarism.

Sport is a capitalist way of dealing with man’s playing being, while «sports pedagogy» is a technically perfected drilling. In sport, a dehumanized science and technique are directly expressed, without the mediation of a pedagogical humanistic heritage. «Sports pedagogy» is not based on the ancient techne, but on the modern technique, particularly on that tendency in its development which seeks to turn technique into a means for the abuse of nature and submission of man. Sport does not insist on the development of man’s creative powers, but on the development of a belligerent character and aggressive muscular body, as well as on the cult of «intensive physical exercises» which systematically mutilate the body and create a sado-masochistic character. Instead of a playing skill, sport is dominated by a belligerent and destructive technique which becomes a tool for beating the «opponent» and achieving a record. It «disciplines» man by instrumentalizing his body and turning the erotic charge into aggressive muscular energy and murderous will. Horkheimer and Adorno emphasize in the «Dialectic of Enlightenment» that gymnasts and athletes have always had a close affinity to killing. They see the body as a moving mechanism, parts and joints, and flesh as the clothing of bones. They treat the body and move the limbs as if they had already been wrenched. (5) Ernst Bloch speaks in a similar tone: «…physical exercises, without the presence of the mind, ultimately means: to be the cannon fodder and, before that, a murderer». (6) Sport does not aim at the softness of movement and harmony of the body, at a variety of bodily expressions showing man’s spiritual wealth – but at the development of physical strength («iron body») and the creation of a (self) destructive combative character. Bodily movement is separated from the spiritual, sensual, erotic and visionary, from society as the community of people, from nature, history and culture – without which there is no specific human movement. Sport and physical drill become a way of producing physically and mentally degenerated people who are prepared to destroy themselves in order to achieve the given end – and who find «pleasure» in it. The destructive instrumentalism, based on the absolutized principle of performance (profit), becomes one of the most important forms of the capitalist degeneration of man: instead of the Christian «prison of the soul», the body becomes an iron fist with which «progress» eliminates the obstacles on its way.

Unlike the classical bourgeois pedagogical concept, which sought to turn man into a loyal and usable citizen by suppressing the authentic natural and human (potentially creative) abilities (the so called «disciplining of the body»), modern sports pedagogy, using the results of science and developing its own means and methods, destroys man’s authentic natural and human qualities – distorting them genetically. In spite of insisting on the «perfectioning» of personality, sports pedagogy discards the principle of the universal and harmonious development of physical powers of man as a universal creative being. The ideal of the sports body is not a creative body, nor is it the body in antiquity based on the principle of kalokagathia according to a geometrically constructed cosmos; it is the body as a highly-specialized machine. In sport, man has entirely become a „one-dimensional“ (Marcuse) being. The fatal character of a one-sided physical exercise was pointed out by Schiller: „Indeed, athletes are created by gymnastic exercises, but beauty – only by a free and coordinate exercising of all parts of the body». (7) In sport, there is no room for the principle of measure and optimum effort, which takes into consideration one’s specific body, health and personal integrity. In his «utilitarian pedagogy», Coubertin attached primary importance to the principle of «greater effort» which is the most important means for overcoming man’s «lazy» animal nature, developing a ruthless combative character of a bourgeois and creating a positive man. Nature and body become a technical means for achieving inhuman ends.

As far as using competition as a pedagogical means is concerned, Rousseau is strongly against competition, giving priority instead to the love of man over the love of fame: «Especially, let all the vanity stay far away, all competition, all love of fame and all the feelings that make us compare with others. As these comparisons are never made without a certain feeling of hatred being aroused in us against all those that deny us the primacy…» (8) In this context, man does not try to «compete» with nature or to «conquer» it, and from this follows Rousseau’s relation to the body. The basis of «happiness» is not a conflict with one’s natural being (body), but a free and spontaneous development of the body, spirit, senses, mind, skills… Nature, life and freedom are at one. We find in Rousseau the most important elements of sports pedagogy – courage, stamina, self-initiative – but the way they are realized does not turn people into enemies and does not turn man against nature (body), as it is in sport; it rather turns people into friends and teaches man how to respect nature and his natural being.

Today’s capitalism imposes a new anthropological model which corresponds to the destructive nature of the «consumer society». Instead of the model of «man-beast», suited to the original spirit of capitalism (homo homini lupus), the prevailing model is that of «man-(self) destructor». Man’s being reduced to the beast has been overcome in sport itself. Today’s coaches do not try to stir in man a competitive («animal»), but a fanatical self-destructive motivation: in sport, violence is of an instrumental and destructive character. The most important element in a coach’s «work» is no longer a psychological manipulation by which sportsmen are turned against opponents, but an attempt to make them use increasingly monstrous dope and accept increasingly monstrous medical «treatments». The main challenge for the contemporary «champions» is not «rivalry» and thus aggression directed towards the opponent, but their readiness to destroy themselves and thus their aggression to their own body. Sport is marked by a (self) destructive sublimation. The elementary human needs remaining unsatisfied; the «negative» energy is directed towards the «opponent», record, conflict with one’s own body. Sports pedagogy is no longer aimed at winning; it is now an education aimed at performance (record) – and it is corresponded by the «philosophy of performance» (Leistungsphilosophie). Instead of liberty and ever greater probability of human survival, a dehumanized and denaturalized «progress», as another name for the process of capitalist reproduction based on the principle «Money does not stink!», becomes the highest «pedagogical» challenge.

Modern man realizes only a fraction of his intellectual and spiritual capacities and, in addition to that, capitalism mutilates his (potential) universal creative being and turns him into a specialty-idiot. Instead of developing his mind and his artistic talents, man is reduced to the ruling model of a «new» man (cyborg), in whom memory and operationalized intellect are being developed (manipulative dehumanized intelligence) – which is but one of the forms in which modern capitalism deals with «traditional» man. A humane civilization, by developing a pedagogical model which is not based on deprivation and repression, but on emotional closeness between people and mutual respect, as well as on education through life itself with its creative character – will enable the development of man’s creative powers from an early age. In a future society, the highest pedagogical challenge will not be a dehumanized «progress», but the development of man’s creative being and of society as a brotherly community of emancipated people.

Sport and Music


The philosophy of play does not come to the essence of play departing from music and dance, but from sport and war. It is no accident. Blacking’s view that music is the „humanly organized sound“ indicates that man is not by his nature a „beast“, but a humane being, and that man’s need for another man, on which the motion of man towards another man is based, is the most important characteristic of the human nature. Blacking says on that: „When I watched young Venda developing their bodies, their friendships, and their sensitivity in communal dancing, I could not help regretting the hundreds of afternoons I had wasted on the rugby field and in boxing rings. But then I was brought up not to cooperate, but to compete. Even music was offered more as a competitive than as a shared experience.“ (10) He continues: „In a world in which authoritarian power is maintained by means of superior technique, and the superior technique is supposed to indicate a monopoly of intellect, it is necessary to show that the real sources of technique, of all culture, are to be found in the human body and in cooperative interaction between human bodies.“ (11) Blecking’s conclusion on the significance of interpersonal relations for the developoment of human creativity is of primary importance, and this conclusion was reached while he was studying the music of the South-African tribe Vende: „I am not arguing that particular musical systems are innate, but that some of the processes that generate them may be innate in all men and so species-specific. Similar evidence of creativity may be found in Venda children’s songs, many of which may have been composed by children. Their structures suggest a creative use of features of the musical system which extends beyond techniques that might have been learned in society. I do not see how the deeper, apparently unconscious processes of generation could have been taught or learned in society except through a whole complicated process of relationships between innate potentialities and the realization of these in culture through social interaction.“ (12) „By learning more about the automatic complexity of the human body, we may be able to prove conclusively that all men are born with potentially brilliant intellects, or at least a very high degree of cognitive competence, and that the source of cultural creativity is the consciousness that springs from social cooperation and loving interaction. By discovering precisely how music is created and appreciated in different social and cultural contexts, and perhaps establishing that musicality is a universal, species-specific characteristic, we can show that human beings are even more remarkable than we presently believe them to be – and not just a few human beings, but all human beings – and that the majority of us live far below our potential, because of the oppressive nature of most societies.“ (13)

Music is expelled from sport and bourgeois physical education (physical culture). It is opposed to the strivings to create in sportsmen a ruthless combative (murderous-destructive) character and the appropriate „iron body“. Music arouses emotions, a need for closeness with other people and thus breaks with the fanatical focusing on victory. International sports competitions are regularly opened with military marches, which clearly indicates the truth that sport does not have a „pacifistic“ but a militaristic nature, although in the „consumer society“ it obtained a trivial circus dimension. As far as „competitive dancing“ is concerned, dancing turned into a sports event and thus became a technical dance mutilating man’s erotic being and producing a technical body and movement. The same applies to „rhythmic gymnastics“ and „figure skating“.

In Coubertin’s „utilitarian pedagogy“ music does not serve to „shape the soul“, as in antiquity, but to create a „cultural“ scenery for the Olympic Games as a cult performance and a „solemn“ atmosphere that is to arouse a „religious zeal“ in people, as well as to create a „cultural“ scenery for a muscular combative primitivism. As far as shapening of character is concerned, it is not achieved by mastering an artistic skill nor by developing a musical sense, but exclusively through a combative physical activism and bodily drill which involves suppression and mutilation of impulses, emotions, senses, reason… Trying to deal with everything that can weaken the ruthless conquering and oppressive character of the bourgeoisie and destroy its fanatical mind, Coubertin discards the Dionysian and Orphic, as well as the ancient poiesis. He, like Hitler, does not want „peaceful estheticians“, but „new people“ characterised by an „iron body“ and the look of a „magnificent beast“. Coubertin tries to take over the political and discard the cultural legacy of ancient aristocratic education.

Sports manifestations are dominated by songs of clubs and supporting groups, which do not come from the cultural heritage, do not express man’s need for another man, do not humanize people… They are the forms in which the discontent of young people, coming from their humiliating social position, is directed against their peers, who appear in the form of rival supporting groups. They cause massive hysteria, vindictive fury, they create the feeling of belonging to a group, which is reduced to a „civilized“ herd, and thus the feeling of „power“. Ultimately, they serve to destroy all those feelings that make man a human being and society a human society. Supporting songs indicate that decultivation is the basic way of turning young people into modern hordes of barbarians: sport „satisfies people’s needs“ by depriving them of humanity.

Sport and Drama


Drama is a form in which sport, in a formal sense, most closely resembles art. Speaking of the relation between sport and acting, Christopher Lasch says: “By submitting without reservation to the rules and conventions of the game, the players (as well as spectators) cooperate in creating an illusion of reality. In the way the game becomes a representation of life, and play takes on the character of play-acting as well. In our time, games – sports in particular – are rapidly losing the quality of illusion. Uneasy in the presence of fantasy and illusion, our age seems to have resolved on the destruction of the harmless substitute gratifications that formerly provided charm and consolation. (….)  Play has always, by its very nature, set itself off from workday life; yet it retains an organic connection with the life of the community, by virtue of its capacity to dramatize reality and to offer a convincing representation of the community’s values. The ancient connections between games, ritual, and public festivity suggest that although games take place within arbitrary boundaries, they are nevertheless rooted in shared traditions to which they give an objective expression. Games and athletic contests offer a dramatic commentary on reality rather than an escape from it – a heightened re-enactment of communal traditions, not a repudiation of them. It is only when games and sports come to be valued purely as a form of escape that they lose the capacity to provide this escape.” (6) Since “sports contests” offer a dramatic commentary on reality and that they are “in the organic connection with the life of the community”, and not a confrontation with reality which strives to overcome it, the organizers of today’s sports spectacles follow the demands put forward by Lasch. Their main task is to turn sports contests into a “higher form of existence” which will in the most authentic form reproduce the drama of everyday life. To be “organically connected” with the life of today’s community does not mean to be close to the original spirit of competition, but to the spirit of domination and destruction. Idealization of sport, as a dramatic commentary on life, involves idealization of the ruling relations and values – which are shaped in sport. It is interesting that Lasch does not see a connection between professionalization (commercialization) and trivialization of sport: „What corrupts an athletic performance, as it does any other performance, is not professionalism or competition but a breakdown of the conventions surrounding the game. It is at this point that ritual, drama, and sports all degenerate into spectacle. Huizinga’s analysis of the secularization of sport helps to clarify this point. In the degree to which athletic events lose the element of ritual and public festivity, according to Huizinga, they deteriorate into „trivial recreation and crude sensationalism”.“ (7) By glorifying sport as play Lasch „forgets“ that sport is dominated by the principle of competition and the principle of performance, which means that man’s relation to himself and others is mediated by quantitative measures in which both cultural and individual human expressions are alienated. It is dominated by the absolutized principle of performance which in monopolistic capitalism, ruled by the principle „Destroy the competition!“, becomes the totalizing power of profit that deals with „individual achievement“, which was (together with principles „Equal chances!“ and „Let the better win!“) the ideological cover-up for the original spirit of capitalism (liberalism). The development of relations in sport is best seen on the example of car-racing. It is actually a fight between the most powerful car-manufacturing concerns, their expert teams, while man is reduced to the „driver“ who will appear on the throne, in the wheel-chair or on the cemetary. Not only in individual sports (dominated by strenght, speed and stamina) but also in „playing sports“ – the play has been completed before the players run out onto the field.

Huizinga’s criticism of sport from a cultural point of view throws light from another angle. Speaking of the medieval “sport”, Huizinga concludes: “The medieval combative sport (…) is different from Greek sport and modern athletics in that it is far less natural. In order to increase the combative tension, sport is invested with aristocratic proud and honour, romantic-erotic charm and the charm of artistic beauty. It is filled with radiance and decorations, full of rich fantasy. In addition to play and physical exercises, it is at the same time the applied literature. The desire and dream of a joyful heart seek a dramatic performance, play enacted in life. Real life was not nice, it was cruel, horrible and perverted; in the court and military career, there was little room for the feelings of courage that springs from love, but the soul is full, people want to enact those feelings and create a nicer life in a beautiful play. The element of true courage at a chivalrous tournament surely is not less worthy than in the pentathlon. A very erotic character requires bloody fierceness. The tournament is, in its motives, most akin to the contests in the old Indian epic; to fight for a woman is the central idea in Mahabharata.” (8) For Huizinga, the duel is a ritual form of expressing man’s complete submission to the established order. The same can be found in sport: in a fair-play man’s right to life is subordinated to the right of order to survival. Life itself becomes a stake which proves the loyalty to the established order, while fight to life or death becomes the most authentic form of natural selection. Huizinga’s homo ludens is the picture of a “noble knight” who is the idealized incarnation of the warring aristocracy and aristocratic values. Instead of humanism and love of freedom, prevail ambition and love of power. However, what “honour” is proved by killing a man? What is the nature of the erotic impulse achieved through “bloody fierceness”? What is beautiful in a cruel fight to life and death, in cutting throats and butchering, in taking out the intestines, in mutilated bodies drowned in mud? And all that only “to win the favour of court ladies”? Huizinga proclaimed the pathology of medieval society the source of the highest human ideals. Huizinga insists on the “art of life”, and not on a free artistic creation. That is why he attaches such importance to “fashion”: clothes are not the confirmation of human independence, but a class leveling shroud man is predestined to. It is quite logical that Huizinga gives priority to the “art of life” as opposed to art itself, for it, above all, involves “nicely stylized forms of life, which should raise the cruel reality to the sphere of noble harmony”. “The high art of life” (“fashion”) becomes the form in which a decorative esthetics triumphs over art as a creative act. Speaking of the Middle Ages Huizinga says: “All these nicely stylized forms of life, which should raise the cruel reality to the sphere of noble harmony, were parts of a high art of life, and did not find a direct expression in art proper.” (9) Huizinga goes as far as to proclaim the apparent forms of the established relations “pure art”. By way of the “artistic” form Huizinga actually seeks to prevent the original human creativeness from crossing the normative firmament of his esthetics, destroying the world of illusions and questioning the existing order. Man is not the creator of his own world; he is part of the sets on the scene of the present world.

Drama is possible because life is alienated from man. It is an alienated form of “playing” the essence of life alienated from man. Ultimately, the essence of life is given by the ruling ideological firmament and it becomes the prism through which man sees himself and society: a masked slavery, masked nothingness, mutilated human image, capitalist “pendulum of horror” becomes a lollypop, people laugh and cry over their destiny… In the theatre, life is being acted out, man being only an observer. The powers that keep him in obedience in society acquire a caricatured form. Apparently, man has control over them, he resists them. In reality, drama is such a “relation” of man to the world that pins him down to the existing world. A “good performance” is the other side of a bad life. Actors are tragic products of a tragic world. Man does not experience the essence of his life by way of a life activism, it is given to him by way of the “cultural sphere” which becomes a compensatory mechanism, a form of sterilization of the critical mind and active will. It is “cultural” to watch human sufferings on the stage, but it is “uncultural” to fight to eradicate injustice in life. The destruction of the human pleases the petty-bourgeois: it helps him to get rid of the responsibility for the survival of the world and to lull himself in the existing hopelessness. The theatre does not produce revolutionaries, but the “audience”. It is a form in which culture becomes devoid of the libertarian. Orpheus without Prometheus becomes Narcissus. All that proceeds in a virtual reality, which, as it becomes more realistic, offers man a better opportunity to escape reality. The theatre, cinema, concert halls, galleries, the church – all these are forms in which the illusory “world of culture” is institutionalized, and it, as a “parallel world”, is created as against the everyday hopelessly uncultural world and enables the (petty) bourgeois an (apparent) escape from the capitalist nothingness ensuring him an “elitist” (class) social status.

The nature of sport as drama is conditioned by the role of sport in society. It is not an activist integration of the ruling class, like the ancient Olympic Games and medieval chivalrous tournaments, but is a “supraclass” phenomenon and as such means the integration of the oppressed into the spiritual orbit of the ruling class and their depolitization according to the principle panem et circences. Its purpose is to inseminate man with the ruling spirit, to pin him down to the existing world, destroy his mind, imagination, hope of a better world… A sports spectacle is a modern pagan festivity which gives a fatal dimension to the ruling relations and values. It does not enable man to treat the existing world in a reasonable way, but completely integrates him into it. Man becomes the toy of destiny, which means of the basic processes of capitalist reproduction. Sport abolishes the dualism of reality and ideals. In it, there is no opposition between play and life: it represents life in its existential and essential sense. Sport is the authentic form of the playing of life and thus is its glorification which is supposed to create a religious relation to the ruling values. Sport does not reflect the human; it is rather that man becomes a means for deification of the ruling relations and values. Sport is not an innocent children’s play; it is a ritual manifestation of the submission to the ruling spirit and thus is the highest religious ceremony with a liturgical character. It is pervaded with a sacred serenity. Hence the importance of the “Olympic oath” (serment olympique): sport is the cult of the existing world, while man appears in the sports ritual as the symbolic incarnation of the spirit that rules the world. A sports spectacle is not an enactment of life; it is its reproduction: in it, the essence of the capitalist world appears in a condensed form. Rugby, boxing and other bloody sports are immediate expression of the “American way of life”, which is based on a ruthless Social Darwinism and a destructive progressism – and which becomes a planetary way of life (“globalism”). The sports drama is the authentic way of the playing of life – in which life itself is the stake. Sport is a drama without masks, without petty bourgeois lies, without invented plots which are to glorify criminals and obtain meaning for the capitalist nothingness. Life itself continues without a “humanistic” and “artistic” veil. It is legal in sport to inflict serious physical injuries and kill, to mutilate children, apply medical “treatments” which reduce sportsmen to laboratory rats, to turn the young into fascist hordes… The theatre represents the scenery of the world of lies and crime; sport represents its foundation. At the stadium, there is no human distance, there is no comical: gladiators are not entitled to laughter. The increasingly bloody life requires increasingly bloody sports spectacles, which are the compensation to the oppressed for the increasing everyday misery. “The spectators love the smell of blood!” – this is the “golden rule” of sports show-business in the USA and other countries of the “free world”. Sports stadiums were not built for well-to-do (petty) bourgeois, as is the case with the theatre which has an elitist status, but for the working “masses” deprived of their rights and for their children reduced to “hooligans”. The modern stadium appeared along with the modern industrial proletariat, at the time when workers managed to obtain the eight-hour working day – when the bourgeoisie endeavoured to “colonize the leisure time” of workers and thus prevent their political organization and integrate them into the ruling order. Stadiums are not designed for “cultural education” of the oppressed, but for their “pacification” (depolitization) and idiocy. “Sport is the cheapest spiritual food for the (working) masses that keeps them under control.” – this is the most accurate sociological (political) definition of sport reached, after the First World War and the then revolutionary movements in Europe, by the “father” of modern Olympism Pierre de Coubertin. Sport is becoming a way of destroying the class consciousness and shifting the fight from the political to the sports arena. Stadiums are not the temples of culture but bonfires for burning out the discontent of the oppressed. This is what determines their appearance: stadiums are modern concentration camps for people deprived of their civil and human rights. Everywhere in the capitalist world, where people are becoming increasingly poor, and fewer and fewer people are becoming rich, we have the same picture: wire fences, special police forces, trained dogs… A match is an occasion for giving vent for a man increasingly deprived of his rights, and it does not reflect human “evil” but suffering and despair. Sports spectacles are a way of turning the critical and change-oriented potentials of the people deprived of their rights into aggression directed towards the so called “opponents”, who belong to the same class of the oppressed, and a way of provoking a war between them. This is the basis on which supporting groups are formed: instead of turning their discontent towards the ruling order, young people turn it towards other supporting groups, who are also the victims of an inhuman order. “Supporting masses” are a form of degeneration of the working youth, while fanaticism of supporters is a form of degenerating its critical and change-oriented consciousness. Symbols and slogans under which the youth gather do not speak of freedom, brotherhood, peace, cooperation, love: they are of a fascist character. “Patriotism” without culture is barbarism. As far as sports “idols” are concerned, they are not fighting for freedom; they are the tool of capitalism for combating the libertarian mind and integrating the youth, reduced to the supporting “mass”, into the existing world. The increasingly bloody conflicts between different supporters are an inevitable consequence of the increasingly difficult position of young people in a world based on the principle “Money does not stink!”, and on the increasingly ruthless manipulation of the young, which springs from the fear that their discontent might turn against the ruling order and be used for building a new (just) world. On sports stadiums, fresh mountain water, which can overflow the increasingly rotten capitalist dam, turns into a swamp. Firecrackers and other supporting equipment do not express joy of life: they are symbols of destruction. Torches are not the source of light: they are a symbolic form of burning the world without a future.

The “intensity of life” of the ancient man was conditioned by his tragic position as the “God’s toy” and his endeavours to do all that is possible during his short and meaningless life in order to gain “fame” and thus reach the Olympic peaks and eternity. In capitalism, the “intensity of life” is conditioned by the logic of capitalist reproduction: to achieve a better result (profit) in the shortest possible time. This logic prevails not only on a sports track, it conditions man’s life. In sport, there is no confrontation between life and human tragedy. It is one of the most important ways in which capitalism “reconciles” man to the existing world, in which he is reduced to an impersonal member of the working-consumer “mass”: sport removes the tragic from the capitalist cosmos by depriving man of humanity.


The Principle of „Perfection“


In the philosophy of sport „perfection“ is proclaimed the highest esthetic challenge. This is also indicated by Coubertin in his „Sports pedagogy“ : „Sport is a voluntary and regular cult of intensive muscular exercises motivated by a desire for progress and which is not afraid of risk. So, five concepts: initiative, persistence, intensity, pursuit of perfection (recherche du perfectionnement), acceptance of possible risks. These five concepts are crucial and basic.“ (5) In antiquity, „perfectioning“ involves the harmonization of man with the divine order which represents the unattainable ideal of (cosmic) perfection. Since the earthly world is doomed to perish, a pursuit of perfection does not involve the struggle to preserve the already existing world, especially not to create a new world, but to do such acts which will bring man closer to the cosmic perfection. At the same time, man looks back at the past as, according to the ancient view, people are less and less perfect as they move further away from their (divine) pre-being. In the original (ancient) Olympic doctrine, „perfection“ does not have a productivistic and progressistic, but a spiritual character, and is the climax of man’s complete (religious) incorporation into the established world according to the principle gnothi seauton, which means as the „Gods’ toy“.

The „pursuit of perfection“ is actually the imitation of the given model of behaviour. Man is degraded as an individual if he accepts the given model of play which becomes the basic value-related challenge. Spiritual, emotional and creative impoverishment is conditio sine qua non of „perfection“ in sport and the bourgeois physical culture. It becomes man’s „supreme“ alienation from himself as the playing being. „Victory“, „honour“, „beauty“, „happiness“, „observation of the established rules“, „pursuit of perfection“ and „mastery“ – all these terms are used to disguise the practice of dealing with man’s libertarian aspirations. What appears as „human“ is man’s endeavour to „accept the given role“ and thus give the human content to the model to which he must submit. Play before an audience becomes a behaviour in which man (hopelessly) tries to find a compensation for lack of humanity. Play is not the expression of freedom; it is the spasm of a desperate man who invested in it the last human element in him in order to get the applause from the audience. Self-valuation is not achieved through the development of playing skills, but through the (public) effect produced by the sports technique. The „greatness of a sports success“ becomes the measure of human degradation.

In sport, a „pursuit of perfection“ becomes an esthetic disguise for „progress“ based on the achievement of results (records) which have an „objective“ quantitative measure and involve the absolutized principle of performance: „modern“ sport deals with man’s erotic, ethical and esthetic being. „Perfection“ symbolizes the final world that can be „perfected“ according to the criteria of the given value model as the ideal incarnation of the basic principles of the ruling order. „Pursuit of perfection“ is not mediated by a natural movement or esthetics, but by technique. In the past, the animal body and movement were the most important challenge for achieving „perfection“. Today, „perfection“ is achieved through the fundamental principles of „technical civilization“, the emphasis being given on technical precision, efficiency, robotized mimesis… Sport is dominated by unity and quantity, which means a positive one-mindedness and confrontation with the creative personality. Instead of the principles of universal development of human powers and, in that context, man’s perfectioning as the universal creative being, the highest challenge becomes a fanatical dedication to a particular sport. „Perfection“ of a particular sporting activity is achieved by man’s mutilation, especially in bloody sports as well as in sports dominated by speed, strength and stamina. That the principle of „perfection“ is but an abstract requirement and thus a way for obtaining an „artistic“ cover for sport is seen from the fact that there are no medals for the „perfectioning“ of play and physical exercises, but for the victory and records. Even in the events where the artistic expression could be important, as in gymnastics, the criteria of measurement („assessment“) destroy the specific and unique playing expression. What is particularly significant is that, in sport, specialization is becoming increasingly narrow, which is totally opposed to the physical culture ruled by the principle of a harmonized and universal development of man as a unified physical and spiritual being – which prevailed in the civil education of ancient Hellas and which is the basis of ancient paideia. It is corresponded by the principle of optimum effort which is of individual character, and is opposed to the principle of „greater effort“ (Coubertin) dominant in sport. Unlike the ancient principle of perfection – which had a cosmic essence and characterized the divine world which was of a holistic character, the modern principle of „perfection“ has a fragmentizing character corresponding to the division of labour and specialization. The „ideal of reaching human perfection“ which, according to Diem, is the highest goal of Coubertin’s Olympism, deals with the ideal of the development of man’s universal creative powers, and this means with man as the creator of his own world and with the open horizon of the future. „Perfection“ is the end of history. In the modern Olympic philosophy, the ideal of „perfection“, which man should unquestioningly strive for, was already created in ancient Greece. Instead of the idea of future and struggle for a human world, it offers a romanticized picture of the ancient world. The „perfect world“ is not the matter of man’s free choice and the result of his creative practice, it is the given which appears in the form of an idealized picture of the Hellenic world which achieved everything modern man should and can strive for. It becomes the incarnation of the ideal of a harmonized world in which mankind „was able to smile“ and where people „died happily“ (Coubertin). It was the time when demos had not yet appeared on the political scene of the polis and before the self-will of the ruling aristocracy had to face the universal principle of humanity which applies to free people (Hellenes) and was to acquire its highest form in Socrates’s moral philosophy, while in modern times it was to be turned into Kant’s „categorical imperative“. Coubertin sees in the ruling bourgeois „elite“ the „master race“ capable of returning mankind to the way it had left back in the ancient times, and this will be achieved by the final struggle with the emancipatory heritage of mankind and the idea of future. The restoration of the „holy“ Olympic measurement of time serves to return mankind to this „right way“. Future does not appear as a step out of the existing world and the creation of novum, but as a continuous development of the existing world and its „perfectioning“. In its original Olympic doctrine, Coubertin sees in sport an area in which the „best representatives“ of the white race, as representatives of their nations, fight for primacy – which leads to the development of their conquering-oppressive character and thus to the „perfectioning“ of the white race. At the same time, „perfectioning of the world“ involves the destruction of the critical mind and pacification of workers: the public (political) sphere is the privilege of the ruling „elite“. Sport becomes the chief political means of the ruling class for depolitization of „masses“ and for turning man into the objects of the ruling political will and „sheer“ working force. The fight for „perfectioning“ of society is reduced to a pedagogical reform which will lead to the creation of a uniform character of people and a uniform worldview. Physical exercises and sport become a means for cloning people’s character and spirit. The ultimate end of „perfectioning“ is to eliminate the critical and change-oriented conscious and the idea of future and to realize the idea of „order“ and „progress“ – the establishment of the total and final rule of capital over mankind and planet as the source of energy and raw material. As far as the ancient world is concerned, ancient society itself dethroned the aristocratic values from which the modern sports theory (especially Coubertin’s Olympic philosophy) tries to create an indisputable suprahistorical ideal of man, who appears in the form of slave-owning, aristocratic and bourgeois „master race“.

The demand for „perfection“ involves „harmony“. In antiquity, harmony means a harmonious development of human powers and the body based on the principles „know yourself“ (gnothi seauton), „measure is the best“ (metron ariston) and „beautiful and good“ (kalokagathia) – which involves arete mousike and arete gymnastike. The unity of man and cosmic order, incarnated in the Olympic gods, is the highest challenge (eurythmos). The demand for „harmony“ is actually an expression of the endeavour to prevent the conflict between gods, which is fatal for people, and ensure a harmonious functioning of the divine world. In ancient art, man is an anthropological manifestation of the ruling order. When we analyze Myron’s Diskobolos, we notice the ideal proportions, harmonious movement and unity of parts and the whole. Ears are almost blended with the head so as not to spoil the harmony of the whole. The body does not express the motion of an athlete who seeks to throw the discus as far as possible and win, but an (idealized) Hellene who seeks to perform the act in a way which would not destroy the harmony of his body and thus the geometrically constructed cosmos – whose (anthropological) form he is. The body, bodily posture and expression on his face emanate an erotic charge, more noble than aggressive, which expresses the innocence of youth and corresponds to a paedophilic erotic vision. Diskobolos does not have a look in his eyes but it is hardly noticeable as his whole spiritual expression is given in his face and body. His face does not show a competitive urge, but spiritual blessedness. The body is not tense: it does not emanate a victorious will, but spiritual meekness. His figure is the incarnation of Plato’s view that a strong body cannot make the mind noble, but a noble mind can make the body noble, as well as of Aristotle’s idea of a „spirited body“.

In modern society, the demand for „harmony“ becomes the demand for a harmonious functioning of the existing world, which is similar to the aristocratic „order and measure“ (order et measure) as the criterion of measure is the extent to which man fits into the existing world. The harmony of the manifest form by suppressing the human becomes the basis of „beauty“ – which becomes a mask for the monstrous life produced by the ruling order. „Perfection“, „mastery“, „creativity“, „beauty“ – all these are parts of a mosaic which covers up the destructive capitalist nothingness. Instead of creating a human world, the prevailing tendency is to immortalize the existing world. „Harmony“ becomes the esthetic way of creating an apparent „order“ in the chaos of everyday life. It involves the acceptance of the established world and an endeavour to create a picture of „harmony“ in which man will find compensation („peace of mind“) for the horrors of his life. „Harmony“ obtains a prophylactic and therapeutic dimension: it becomes a spiritual drug. The demand for „harmony“ in sport has a positivistic character: it is reduced to the destruction of the critical and change-oriented relation to the existing world. It is an esthetic form expressing the basic political principle which strives to prevent social (class) conflicts that offer a possibility for creating a new world: harmony is the „sister of order“ (Coubertin). According to Coubertin, the basic purpose of Olympism is to bring order in people’s heads and give life a meaning – to which corresponds the „holy rhythm“ of the Olympic Games which by no means must be interrupted. The Olympic harmony deals with humanistic harmony, which means with harmonious interpersonal relations based on the guiding principles of the French Revolution, with a harmonious development of physical and spiritual powers, with a harmonious relation to nature… In sport, man is hermetically closed: the world develops according to the laws of „progress“, while man is but a means with which the ruling order is to enable its free development. The demand for „perfection“ and „harmony“ deals with the dialectic of history, which means with disharmony which is the basis of dynamics of the historical process and the basic presupposition for the creation of future. There are no leaps, there is no change-oriented practice which crushes the ramparts of the ruling order and opens new horizons. The libertarian physical motion expresses man’s disharmony with the existing world, it is a form of not resigning to the „destiny“ determined by the process of capitalist reproduction. Imperfection, openness, uncertainty in terms of possibilities and their creation, right to illusion and mistake – all these are challenges that man cannot avoid on the road to future. As Goethe says in „Faust“: „Man makes mistakes as long as he strives to something higher“ („Es irrt der Mensch, solang’ er strebt”), but „a good man in his vague impulse is well aware of the right way“ („Ein guter Mensch in seinem dunklen Drange/ Ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewusst”).

The claim that „top sport creates new esthetic values“ (Matveev) is based on the identification of the achievement of higher results (records) and the achievement of higher (human) values. „New“ has a quantitative and not a qualitative (historical, cultural, libertarian, visionary) dimension. A better result in sport is not a more cultural and thus a more valuable form of human practice. „Top play“ deals with man’s ability to create a true play which will help him realize his creative being: in football, kicks to the goal are variations of the model of movement given by the nature of football as an institutionalized repression which appears in the „playing“ robe. As far as man’s legitimate need to achieve the „unachievable“ is concerned, it is in sports theory used as a proof that in sport, in spite of all „bad“ things, prevail „true“ human challenges. There is no doubt that man’s pursuit of self-assertion by achieving the „unachievable“ is that „natural“ stake with which man enters sport and which remains as a motivation throughout one’s sports career. However, to „overcome the horizon of the possible“ refers exclusively to quantitative shifts on the basis and within the framework of the ruling order, and not to the opening of a new horizon which will go beyond the existing world. A confirmation in terms of values („Supreme!“) is given only to the performance that confirms the developing power of the ruling order (a „Fantastic record!“), while the true meaning of the record-mania is a mindless and fatalist submission of man to the existing „rules of the game“. The development of sport does not follow a particular esthetic pattern: the road to „perfection“ is cobbled with victories and records. Sport is not ruled by taste, which is subjective, but by quantitative indicators with an „objective“ value, which express the fatal pace of capitalist „progress“. Mimetic impulses do not spring from nature or art, but from technical processes. A robotized body represents the highest esthetic model. The final result of „perfection“ is a dehumanized and denaturalized „man“, the Olympic zombie, devoid of reason, libertarian dignity, Eros, the creative, imagination, nobleness… By focusing all his ambition on becoming „someone“ by way of sport, man inevitably becomes the slave of sport, which means that he fits into the ruthlessly grinding machine designed for achieving „top results“. If we bear in mind the limited capabilities of the human organism, it is clear that the absolutization of the principle of performance leads to man’s destruction.

Sports play is only apparently dominated by uncertainty, which is one of the conditions of freedom, in which the most important moment is coincidence. Every action has a number of alternatives. In fact, they are necessary accidents. „Uncertainty“ is conditioned by the very nature of sport as the incarnation of the ruling relations and values and it is reduced to the question: who will win and what will be the result? Basically, it is about an apparent uncertainty, and thus an apparent freedom: the winner is always the ruling order – man is always the loser. In sport, man produces chains with which he is pinned down to the existing world. Sport deals with the visionary conscious and aspirations to create a new world. Sports play is, like the ancient drama, the enactment of everything that has already been acted and in that sense it is the copy of copy ad infinitum. In spite of insisting on „progress“, philosophy of sport discards the idea of future. The orientation towards an idealized past becomes the source of „true“ and „eternal“ values symbolized by the flame of the Olympic torch which „can never be extinguished“ (Hitler).

„Individual Actions“

The theory of sport glorifies „individual actions“ by taking them out of the whole of event and giving them a meaning which is supposed to give sport a „humanist“ aureole. The glorification of „individual actions“ is not the glorification of man, but of the ruling values incarnated in sport. Otherwise, the actions would be understood as man’s hopeless endeavour to assert his humanity in inhuman conditions, and this would be the critical starting point in man’s relation to sport as an institution. „Individuality“ is restricted by rules of the game determined by the nature of sport as show-business. „Individual play“ and „bravuras“ are elements of a directed performance in which „free play“ is but an illusion. Habermas also emphasizes that: „To the extent in which a coach allows his players to perform individual actions, sport has nothing to do with play. What is claimed to be play is actually a professional show on one side with consumers on the other.“ (1) By insisting on the reductionist approach with which the essence of capitalism is ignored, Habermas is not capable of realizing that coaches are only participants in the formation of a playing style the change of which is conditioned by the „spirit of time“ and requirements of the owner of the sports show-business. Coaches are modern slave-drivers being driven themselves by the whip of capital under which they must bend the knee – if they are to stay „in play“. They are the extended hand of club-owners who constantly change the rules of play in order to preserve the attractive character of sports spectacles and fill the sports halls (stadiums), which means to provide TV broadcasts and commercials. The estimated „public taste“, which is conditioned by the ever more impersonal and cruel life, represents the guiding principle of the owners of sports show-business in the creation of new rules which immediately condition the playing style and technique. The coach’s physical appearance, his clownish behaviour, his relation to players – everything is in the service of show-business. It is all about a modern circus, whose répértoire is directed by its owners and in which the coach, as well as players, have their respective roles. The „improvisation“, which Habermas identifies with (free) play, is but a part of the „well done job“ of a professional player (entertainer). Adorno and Horkheimer rightly observe that in sport, just as in all other areas of „mass culture“, there is a tense, purposefull undertaking, and a not so well informed spectator still cannot perceive differences in combinations, the meaning of changes which proceed from arbitrarily set rules. The organisation of the whole life is deprived of content. (2) The „racial quota“ in professional sport in the USA indicates that the rules of sports show-business are conditioned by the logic of profit. Assuming that the largest part of the audience is composed of „white“ people and that they want to see „white“ players so that they should not feel degraded (since sportsmen are a mythological incarnation of the „combative spirit“ on which man’s survival in capitalism is based), the owners of the sports circus must offer a certain number of „white“ players, in spite of their being below the level of skill of Afro-American players – who are their competitors on the sports labour market. This is an obvious example of discarding the principle of „free competition“, which has a direct influence on the quality of play. At the same time, the place of the (main) coach and the ownership of sports show-business have remained, with rare exceptions, the exclusive privilege of „white“ people, which clearly indicates the (racist) character of American „democracy“.

The true nature of „individuality“ in sport is clearly shown if we consider several matches in the same sport in continuity. Then it can be seen that, in fact, we deal with typified „moves“ and „actions“ and that „individuality“ is reduced to variations within a patterned behaviour given by the nature of the concrete sport. A man who does not have a developed esthetic being can only technically „work out“ the play, „cheat“ the opponent and make him a laughing stock, but he cannot realize his playing being. What motivates a professional player is not the „joy of playing“, but a fear of not meeting the expectations of the coach and of losing the place in the team. Existential uncertainty is the force that destroys playing spontaneity. In addition, the „joy of playing“ involves an unquestionable acceptance of the ruling value model which discredits man. Sport is less and less a space showing an opportunity for „personal initiative“, and more and more a space ruled by scientific mind manipulated by political and financial centers of power. The „development of sport“ is immediately conditioned by a further development of science and increasingly deep integration of the „sports engine“ into the capitalist machinery. Instead of being the creator of sports results, man becomes a tool for achieving records; instead of a „will to win“, the main „anthropological“ driving mechanism of capitalism, sport is dominated by a technocratic mind which turns the „breaking of records“ into a „scientific project“. According to Horkheimer and Adorno, the quality of the sports play belongs to the shrines of a soulless artistry dominated by a planning mind which demands that everything should prove its meaning and effect. (3) The true winners in sport are capitalist concerns and teams of scientists and doctors who treat sportsmen as experimental rats: a means for experimenting with medicaments and realizing profit.

The so-called „playing sports“, created in the Modern Age, are actually surrogates incarnating in a „pure“ form the basic principles of capitalism: the principle of competition and absolutized principle of the quantitatively measurable performance. This is the basis and framework within which the elements of „sports play“ (such as dribbling, passing the ball…) acquire their meaning. The dynamics of their changes (above all, the rules of play, gladiator’s spirit and mechanized body) is not conditioned by the natural, cultural or individual needs of the actors, but by the capitalist whip which makes from them an attractive show-business. Instead of developing playing capacities and various playing moves, sport is dominated by a technicized destructive power which abolishes the very possibility of playing. In tennis, the service is expected to be so strong that the opponent is incapable of returning the ball; in volleyball, smashes should hit the ball into the floor in such a way that any kind of play becomes impossible; in basketball, the greatest challenge is the dunk-shot; in boxing, the strike should knock the opponent down to the floor;  the development of football has long ceased to involve the development of playing skills and individuality, but the development of stamina, speed, a „system“ of playing with less and less space for imagination and spontaneity… In individual sports, man has become a tool for achieving „top results“; in collective sports, man has become a wheel in the team that seeks to be a „perfect mechanism“. The players are not required to play, but „to do a good job“, which means to successfully accomplish the given task. In ranking the qualities which determine the „value“ of players, coaches put in the first place their readiness to serve to the „team play“ („conception“), which means to unquestionably execute the „coaches’ ideas“. An „obedient“ player who „works hard and thinks little“, is the prototype of a „good guy“. A man who seeks to realize his playing (creative) individuality, which means to have his „own ideas“, is undesirable as he „destroys the play of the team“. At the same time, a sportsman must actively participate in the increasingly merciless destruction of his own organism. Instead of having the conscious of a free individual, fanatical conscious is literally being inserted into a sportsman’s head, driving him into self-destruction for the purpose of achieving the required result. In addition, the „top sportsman“ must be capable of and ready to inflict to his „opponent“ (serious) physical injuries and to kill him, treating the opponent in the same way in which he treats his own body: it has an instrumental and destructive character. The „attractiveness“ of a sports spectacle is not measured (primarily) by the quality of the playing skill, but by the extent to which the drama of life is reproduced measured by the amount of the spilt blood and the number of massacred sportsmen.

Sportsmen’s clownish looks and behaviour are part of the sports show-business, in which the leading role is given to the „black“ players. In basketball, the most prominent in that sense were „Haarlem Globetrotters“, a basketball circus made up of young „black“ players from the poorest New York ghetto, which has become a role model in the contemporary American professional basketball. The image of the „coloured“ people created in sport is meant to justify their humiliating social position. In boxing, with (almost) complete domination of the „coloured“ sportsmen, boxers are not shown as noble fighters, which would be in line with the claim of the bourgeois theorists of sport (above all, Coubertin), that boxing is a „noble art“, but as beasts. Public media show us the picture of a sportsman who looks like a circus performer and, like stars in Hollywood soap-operas, is expected to entertain (depolitize and stupefy) the „masses“. The names of clubs and players’ nicknames have a circus and caricatured note, quite suitable to the ruling values. The extent to which sportsmen are degraded as people in the sports show-business can be seen from the performance of „Chicago Bulls“: they run onto the field imitating the roaring of bulls, the best players appear on posters as bulls with horns, while sports commentators begin TV broadcasts of their games with the following words: „The bulls have run onto the field…“. Special significance is given to the sports equipment. It has become a marketing robe, and the number of one’s „idol“ is a magic sign offering viewers the possibility to identify with their „idol“ and thus acquire some of his „power“. Of course, all that is meant to increase the profit and create compensatory mechanisms for those deprived of their rights: „idols“ are an instrument for creating the illusion that in capitalism everybody can earn money and fame. By becoming a show-business, sports is increasingly dominated by a circus and entertaining movement, which means a skill that does not develop man’s creative powers and enable people to develop their interpersonal relations: its aim is to „entertain“ the audience. It is a controlled „spontaneity“, while the man-circus rider is but one of the tools of the owners of show-business, used for making an „attractive show“. Play is not a free and spontaneous realization of man’s playing abilities, but a well rehearsed technique of behaviour reduced to „working out“ the (entertaining) role of the player. The development of the playing technique in sport is straightforward and corresponds to the combative, progressistic, and ultimately, profiteering logic. A „better“ move is always the one which contributes more to the purpose of play, that is, to the realization of the given end. In sport, man literally becomes a mechanical doll, thus reaching the highest level of dehumanization and denaturalization in capitalist society. Sportsmen have turned from „heroes“ into clowns of capitalism. The truth about sport and sportsmen can be found in books written by retired sportsmen in order to show that sportsmen are human beings and not beasts, clowns or robots. What gives a special dimension to the sports show-business is that sports games, like horse and dog races, have provided a new way of betting. Sportsmen are reduced to impersonal objects of a gambling euphoria, which is one of the most perfidious forms of incorporating the oppressed into the spiritual orbit of capitalism – dominated by the separation of goods from their appropriation and the illusion that „happiness“ is the power determining human life.

Sports skill, which in sports theory and practice is called „sports technique“, does not come from the cultural, but from the technical sphere that appears in the circus robe. Sportsmen are not guided by artistic inspiration, but by a rational pattern of play conditioned by the rules of show-business and based on the logic of war and capitalist productivity. In athletics and other „record-making“ sports, this is a war without the opponent: man „pursues a record“, which symbolizes the capitalist „progress“, and thus becomes his own opponent. Instead of the playing technique being subordinated to man as the universal creative being and instead of offering him a possibility for a specific individual expression, man is, even during the process of acquiring a playing technique, subordinated to the model of play, which means to a particular „playing technique“. In sport, mastering of a technique involves technicization of the body and the relation to it. To master a sports technique involves destruction of a man’s playing individuality and his being reduced to a robotized model of „sportsman“. In „playing sports“, mastering a technique involves a circus-gladiator relation to the body. Man seeks to show his playing individuality, but he does that in such a way which leads to technicized and patterned motions, thus distorting his playing being. In sport, a bodily motion does not express man’s natural or „divine being“; it is a manifestation of the anti-cultural and anti-existential spirit of capitalism. It is not grounded in art, but in the ruling Social Darwinist way of life and the „technical civilization“ based on the absolutized principle of the quantitatively measurable performance. The basis of the sports motion is the industrial mimesis, the logic of industrial modelling, the principle of efficiency and rationality… The technicization of sport has become one of the ways of manipulation and submission of man: playing technique is the form in which the ruling order, by means of natural laws, establishes domination over man. To master a sports technique means suppression and mutilation of man’s original playing, spiritual, rational and physical capacities and his submission to a dehumanized and denaturalized „progress“, which becomes a force majeure the fatal pace of which man can slow down but cannot stop: sport symbolizes the victory of the „technical civilization“ over man. Instead of a (creative) unity of the spirit and body, there is a (repressive) unity of the given ends and a (degenerated) body and psyche. The mastering of a sports technique becomes the development of a dehumanized technique of motion directed towards the development of strength, speed, stamina and the creation of a loyal and usable subject. In sport, the model of motion corresponds to the nature of a concrete sport, which conditions not only the technique of play and rules, but also man’s physical and personal development. Instead of a man who has developed his universal creative powers, we get a „sportsman“ who is reduced to a specific body, motion and skill required by a particular sport. Sports technique is subordinated to a rationally established model of motion dominated by precision, mechanical repetition of movements, coordination, methodicalness, concentration, stamina, self-control, submission to „progress“ the pace of which is measured by quantitative indicators… These are all „positive qualities“ which are to enable man’s complete incorporation into „technical civilization“. The more dominant the principle of performance is, the less playing technique is a playing skill, which means the expression and assertion of human (individual) capacities, and it is increasingly a degeneration and destruction of the human, especially with the early selection.

Unlike the ancient techne, which did not distinguish between nature and man and involved the virtue expressed in an artistic form, sports technique is a capitalist form of gaining control over nature and thus deals with man’s natural being. As the authentic expression of „technical civilization“, sport mutilates man („disciplining“, the principle of „greater effort“, quantification, the absolutized principle of performance, mechanical „learning of movements“ through repetition which becomes the main way of acquiring the appropriate body and killing one’s individuality…) and disables humanization of nature through culture, which is the highest challenge of humanistic pedagogy. Instead of a free bodily movement, which is a humanized natural movement, sport is dominated by a repressive model of movement the nature of which is conditioned by the Social Darwinist and progressistic nature of the ruling order. Sports technique involves a specific space, which is the capitalistically degenerated natural space corresponded by a degenerated body and a degenerated „playing skill“. The dynamics of movement in sport is conditioned by the „life rhythm“ dictated by the dynamics of the capitalist reproduction and it deals with the natural rhythm of movement. The „perfect rhythm of movement“, the highest functional and esthetic challenge, which used to be found in the animal world, now is found in technical processes and the progressistic spirit of capitalism. In this context, extremely important in methodological terms is the distinction made between progress and progressism, which means between the development of science and technique which are to enable the development of a free, spiritually rich personality and interpersonal relations, and the development of science and technique which turns into the destruction of nature, interpersonal relations and man himself. Technicization of sport is not the result of a direct influence of the industrial work on sport, as Plessner, Habermas and Rigauer claim, but of the fact that sport has become the means of the capitalist reproduction and, in that context, of the instrumentalization of science and technique by capitalist concerns and centers of political power. Sports technique becomes a means for turning man’s life energy into a destructive capitalist practice.

Bodily movement is based on the model of behaviour which expresses a certain value (ideological) model, which means that bodily movement is of a symbolic character: it reflects man’s position in the world and his relation to the ruling order. In Christianity, to kneel and kiss a hand (master’s or priest’s) is a symbolic form of man’s essential degradation, while asceticism and torturing of the body are symbolic forms of man’s degradation in existential terms. The aristocratic bodily posture („aristocratic bearing“: stiff posture, protruded shoulders, head leaned backwards…) demonstrates a nobleman’s „superiority“ and it is an estheticized bodily manifestation of the oppressive power. The same applies to „chivalry“, which becomes an idealized form (directed against the working man) of a murderous power. In Renaissance, among the emerging bourgeoisie we see the development of a playing (ludic) movement which is not normatively founded, does not insist on a (given) form and expresses an awakened humanity. It is dominated by man’s self-discovery corresponded by passion, impetuosity, aimlessness, joy of action regardless of consequences, joy of a free physicality, intellectual powers, imagination… Ludic becomes ludicrous, as opposed to the later strictly normative and repressive ludus (Huizinga), and its movement is most akin to the children’s movement. In capitalism, the ruling model of the body and bodily posture demonstrates the progressistic and expansionist nature of the ruling order – having its climax in sport. They deal with libertarian heritage of the popular physical culture, with Rousseau’s pedagogical doctrine and emancipatory intention of the philanthropic and dancing movements, based on man’s right to a free body and free movement. Sports play as a specific model of behaviour requires an appropriate model of movement (motion), body, man – and thus an appropriate pedagogy (obtaining legitimacy of the „universally human“) and appropriate esthetics (obtaining the legitimacy of the „cultural“). Stylization of play is not based on the esthetic, but on the functional principle, which conditions also the modelling of movement. In the sports movement there is no relation of man to the existing world. There is a positive „relation“ to reality whereas the human disappears in the „factual“. In sport, man’s authentic movement is abolished – the movement through which man relates to the world and expresses his peculiarity – and a model of movement is being imposed on him which corresponds to the nature of the ruling order. People become bearers of roles and thus are part of the (given) play. The „quality of play“ is not determined according to the manifestation of a specific human expression, but according to the extent to which the play of the „player“ corresponds to the model of a particular playing role. It is not a „humanization of man“, it is his „disciplining“ achieved by way of technique, man being not only the working power and tool for achieving results (victory, record), but also a source of energy and object of production (raw material). Movements are defined and patterned, and the rhythm of exertion and its intensity are in the service of achieving the given end. Skill has an adaptive and repressive, and not a creative and change-oriented nature. It is reduced to the imitation of imposed dehumanized and denaturalized patterns of behaviour conditioned by a specialist one-sidedness. A „variety of movements“ is achieved through loss of the human. Sport is dominated by a movement which is formally technical and essentially destructive. It takes man out not only from culture but from the living world.

Bodily movement is the creation not only of a certain esthetic and living, but also of a social (class) form. This was the purpose of the ancient physical culture, and this is what Nietzsche insists on, trying, by way of physical movement (aristocratic manners), not only to produce the aristocratic way of life but to turn the „new aristocracy“ into an exclusive organic (class) community. Sport has an anti-social character. It turns man into „opponents“ and society into a „civilized“ menagerie. Horkheimer and Adorno are right: “brotherhood” of sports supporters protects from the true brotherhood. (4) A „sports team“ and „audience“ are pseudo-social groups and as such are forms of capitalistic degeneration of man as a social being. As „play becomes more developed“, so is the sports collective less and less a community of people, and more and more a group of robotized gladiators. Instead of human communication, sportsmen use the „body language“, which is reduced to a conflict between mechanicized beings as advertising billboards of capital.

As far as the argument that sport develops physical abilities, achieves „mastery“ and realizes the „impossible“ is concerned, the question can be raised: why is it not circus skills which represent a challenge, but sports competitions dominated by a denaturalized (technicized, destructive) Social Darwinism? A circus performance requires one to master one’s own body by acquiring specific physical powers, but it does not develop a ruthless combative character and a self-destructive conscious. It is not ruled by the principle of „greater effort“, as is the case in sport, but of the optimum effort. Circus gymnastics requires an early specialization and the creation of a specifically built body capable of performing the given „acts“. The aim is not the victory or record, but to achieve the „impossible“, and thus one’s own personal achievement which involves a perfect control over one’s own body, high concentration… Circus gymnastics is similar to sports gymnastics, which has little significance for Coubertin’s „utilitarian pedagogy“ on which the sports pedagogy is based. It does not calculate the results according to a given model, the aim is rather to have a highly attractive performance which, through hard work, makes possible what „ordinary“ man regards as impossible. Skill is not grounded in culture nor does it make new forms of culture, which means that it does not have an artistic character, but is reduced to the technique of performance, the body being reduced to the instrument for „performing the act“. Circus skill is progressive only in technical terms, as it does not have a libertarian but an entertaining character. The circus demonstrates human powers at a technical level reflecting the characteristic risk of the ruling order: acrobats „play with death“, for example, in triple and quadruple salto mortale. It is a „victory over death“ through letting off the steam of the fear of life, where life itself is the stake and where man faces the spectre of death every day. Circus troupes are international, but it is not visible on the scene: acrobats are „united“ by their technical-entertaining skill, not by the variety of their national cultures. A circus group is based on cooperation and strict division of roles imposed by the „act“ which is to amaze the audience. It is no accident that Coubertin does not depart from circus players when he speaks of courage. Coubertin realized that circus is dominated by the entertaining skill and that in it there is no conflict between people and the development of belligerent conscious – which is the basis of his religio athletae that was to form colonial phalanges which would conquer the world. Similarly, mountaineering, gardening and other ecological activities, kolo and popular physical culture, playing musical instruments, dances, swimming and water plays, skiing and plays in the snow, various forms of children’s play with the ball and other objects, modelling, kite flying, cycling and mastering of other technical devices – all these enable man to develop his creative abilities, but they are all excluded from Coubertin’s (sports) „utilitarian pedagogy“. Only those skills are acceptable which involve a conflict between people and are aimed at a better quantitatively measurable performance. The essence of sports „mastery“ is the production of the ruling relations and values.


The Esthetics of the Sports Spectacle


A sports spectacle is the climax of the sports esthetics. To direct a spectacle is the highest form of manipulation with highly developed technical equipment and scientific methods. A sports spectacle tends to raise the marginal to the level of fatal, in order to marginalize the crucial social issues and leave their „solution” to plutocracy. Sport is always pictured in an idealized form, as it is the incarnation of the basic principles of the ruling order. At the same time, the spectacle promotes sports commodities, which means that it is a market manifestation of the basic principles of capitalism. The purpose of contemporary sports spectacles is not to produce a religious relation of viewers to the ruling values of the existing world, something Coubertin insisted on, but to offer them a possibility of an (illusory) escape from everyday life. Sportsmen do not fight for genuine human values and do not encourage people to oppose injustice; they are the incarnations of the ruling values and as such are mythological characters with legendary features and biographies, similarly to „heroes” from national mythologies, and are the hallmark of the epoch. At the same time, they are the billboards of multinational concerns and symbols of their expansionist („victorious”) power, which means that they are a specific commodity designed to ensure the strategic ends of the ruling order. The esthetics of the spectacle has the same purpose, making sportsmen the incarnation of the ruling values and as such the symbols of capitalist paganism: to glorify the winner means to glorify the ruling order.

Sport is no longer the indicator of the developing capacities of the ruling order and thus the carrier of „progress“: its main role is to deal with the (critical) mind and perform a depolitization of the oppressed. The purpose of the sports spectacle is not to create a physically and mentally active man, but a profitable „spectator“ who will, in his leisure time, be pinned down to the TV set or will spend his „free time“ at stadiums and sports centers. The focus has been transferred from the ideological to the psychological level: sports spectacles serve to blind and „pacify“ people. The „grandeur“ of a sports spectacle corresponds to the miserable life of an ever bigger number of people. Everything is being done to blind the man deprived of his rights with glamour, offer him an opportunity to „experience“ and take part in something „big“ and run away from everyday gloominess. The „magnificent“ dimension of „winners“ is the other side of the humiliating social position of „losers“ (working class). The ruling establishment of capitalism has discarded the idea of a „happy world“, which for almost two centuries was the main ideological lure for working „masses“ deprived of their rights. Instead of the promised „better life“, those deprived of their rights are „offered“ increasingly bloody sports spectacles as the compensation for their increasingly bloody life – which is to „reconcile“ (Compte) them to the existing world and prevent them from becoming aware of its current (destructive) development. The stadium, as the most authentic space of modern man’s spiritual slavery, becomes a „space of freedom“ and the „oasis of happiness“, where modern cesars sit in “blue loges” not to watch the fights of modern gladiators, but to make sure that the „masses“ of those deprived of their rights are (still) under control.

In sport, the „beautiful“ is determined by the nature of the ruling order and not by universal human values. The victory achieved by an ever better result (record) is the basic criterion for determining the „beautiful“ – and this is being imposed as the ruling „esthetic“ model („sports body“, „sports image“). The „beautiful“ has a positivist determination and is attributed to anything that symbolizes and glorifies the existing world and the ruling values: it is an attribute of the „victorious spirit“. Hence the highest „beauty“ is the body in combative exertion. A „sports body“ does not emanate spirituality, nobleness or naturalness, but a dehumanized and denaturalized (destructive) strength. Sportsmen are at the front line of the increasingly ruthless economic war and are reduced to a circus-gladiator billboard. Instead of a winner whose eyes have a look of the „magnificent beast“ (Hitler) with a „passionate cry“ (Coubertin), we have a sportsman who is in the functional unity with the „victorious strategy“ of capitalist concerns. The esthetics of the sports space indicates the truth that the basic purpose of sport is not to create a „healthy body“ and thus a „healthy spirit“, but to produce a man suited to the nature of the ruling order. Stadiums, sports centers, body-building and fitness-centers are modern Procrustean forest mutilating man’s natural being and destroying Eros, imagination, the feeling of being part of the human community… Sports esthetics is a spectacular manifestation of slavery and destruction of humanity.

Capitalism has abolished “paradise” in heaven and has created numerous illusory worlds which enable people to escape from life – which is becoming a capitalist “hell”. Instead of a universal illusion offered by Christianity, man can choose between virtual worlds which have become a commodity on the ever bigger market of illusions. „Freedom“ is reduced to an escape from the existing world. Capitalistically degenerated art transfers into the world of symbols whatever appears as a concrete human need: the struggle for a „nice world“ replaces the struggle for a just world. In it, creative powers become a power alienated from man which draws libertarian spirit from life and degenerates it by way of symbolism in which it acquires a caricatured and Don-Quixotean form. „Masterpieces“ of art become a highly concentrated power alienated from man, and a suprahistorical criterion for determining the „human“, which means an instrument for man’s spiritual submission. A „profusion of artistic expressions“, which are of a commercial character and technical form, is the other side of the spiritual misery in society. Beaux-arts are the ideological mask of a hopelessly ugly world ruled by the principle „Money does not stink!“, which is based on the destruction of life. „Artistic galleries“ are ghettoes for art. Outside galleries we have increasingly primitive and aggressive symbols of the ruling order. The whole life space has become a billboard of capitalism. Man is deprived of the right to illusion: it does not have only anti-libertarian, but above all an anti-existential character.

Sports and Artistic Competition


Art is the most authentic manifestation of the cultural heritage of mankind and the basis of humanistic civilization. Sport is the manifestation of a „technical civilization“ and as such deals with humanistic civilization, which means that it is a means for creating a civilization without culture. Unlike philosophy, science and art, sport does not offer the possibility of establishing a (critical) relation to the existing world or the possibility of overcoming this world. In art, a conflict leads to quality, something new – unlike sport, which is governed by the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance. Sport deals with historical time: the „history of sport“ is reduced to a linear augmentation of numbers (records) to which the names of impersonal „champions“ are attached. In playing sports, the quantity of different „situations“ conceals a lack of possibility for stepping out of the existing world and creating a novum. A work of art has a universal value and is intended for all people regardless of their race, nation and gender: art creates symbols which express universal human values. In order to understand and experience their meaning man has to have the power of reasoning and a developed esthetic sense, which means a developed cultural being. Sport also aspires to become a universal and global phenomenon. The essence of the „Olympic universalism“ is based on the universal character of the fundamental principles of capitalism: bellum omnium contra omnes and the absolutized principle of performance shaped in the Olympic maxim citius, altius, fortius. Sport is the crown of a „mondialistic“ ideology which deals with national cultures, destroys man’s artistic being and turns him into a „civilized beast“. In sport, the prevailing spirit is not that of creativity, but of victory. Medals are not won for creating something new, more beautiful and human – but for the victory achieved by an ever better result (record). The true effect of art is the development of man’s esthetic being, which means man’s specific and unique creativeness, while in sport man is reduced to the model of a dehumanized and denaturalized „sportsman“. Artistic competition is based on the spiritual motion of one man towards another, and not on one man’s physical confrontation with another man, which involves the infliction of bodily injuries and killings, as is the case in sport. In art, there are no winners and losers, but only the development of man’s creative powers and widening of the horizons of freedom: art enables man to become that what he is not but can be. In sport, man „becomes something else“ by way of physical and mental activity which alienates him from himself and destroys his cultural and biological being. A sportsman „makes“ sports „achievements“ by means of a technicized body and combative character and with a dehumanized and denaturalized skill. What is being created is victory and record, which means that a sportsman produces the ruling relations and values. Sport deals with competition which does not involve the domination of one man over another and his elimination from the life contest, as well as with the competition which enables man to step out of the existing world. Furthermore, in art, there is no sex segregation, while in sport women, being physically and in their character „weaker“ than men, are reduced to „lower beings“; art is dominated by man’s esthetic nature and limitless creative powers, while in sport results are conditioned by man’s restricted physical capacities; a work of art is intended for people with a developed esthetic sense, while a sports spectacle is intended for „masses“ deprived of their rights, as the cheapest spiritual food which should destroy their libertarian and cultural being and turn them into idiots…

Art creates a humanized sociability based on the motion of man towards another man. A sports team is not a cultural community, but an anti-cultural, anti-reasonable, anti-erotic, anti-esthetic, pseudo-social group, with a militaristic structure: sport is a war waged by bodies and a dehumanized playing technique. As such, it is an institutionalized violence where killings, physical injuries, bodily and mental mutilation of children are legalized… Sports play does not produce humane people, but fanatics ready to destroy both their own body and that of their „opponents“ in order to achieve victory (record). A sportsman’s face, as the anthropological manifestation of the ruling spirit, is not expected to have a noble expression, it should rather express the „victorious spirit“, which means his fanatical commitment to victory, while his body is to be the symbol of the expansionist power and stability of the ruling order. Coubertin’s maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso indicates the esthetic pattern prevalent in sport. Not a harmonious body, as was the case in antiquity, but a muscular body in combative exertion – this is the highest esthetic challenge. In contemporary capitalism („consumer society“), sportsmen relate to each other in roles they are given in the show-business, which means as (sporting) commodity. The rules which apply to them are those which apply to any other commodity on the market, although they are not an „ordinary“ commodity, but the commodity with a special purpose: they are here to fulfil the strategic interests of capitalism.

In sport, imagination does not strive to create something new nor does it seek to escape from the existing world; it rather deifies the ruling relations by means of appropriate symbols. Sports esthetics is of a mystifying and cult character. A typical example is the film by Leni Riefenstahl about the Nazi Olympic Games „Olympia“ („Festivity of People-Festivity of Beauty“/„Fest der Völker-Fest der Schönheit“). Riefenstahl’s camera „carves“ modern sportsmen according to the ancient esthetic model from the „cosmological period“ (Windelband), which has a religious character and expresses the domination of a (geometrically constructed) cosmic order over man. Bodily monumentality, harmony, eyes directed to the skies, religious devotion, self-confidence, exultation – this is the physical appearance of the contemporary Olympic contestant. The sports body acquires a cult character: sportsmen become live statues – manifestations of ancient „heroes“ (semi-gods) and as such are the symbolic reincarnation of the „immortal spirit of antiquity“. Her esthetic is the mythological picture of a triumphalism which, through the idealized ancient model of man (Hellenes) acquires a timeless dimension. Using the ancient esthetic model, Riefenstahl falsified a concrete historical image of the contemporary sportsman and thus the capitalist order. The close-up shows symbols which give a quasi-mythological dimension to the ruling values: the spirit of capitalism has the ancient religious veil.

Riefenstahl’s film tries to prove that the Nazi regime is the immediate successor of the Hellenic civilization. Her film came at the time of the final stages of German archaeological excavations in ancient Olympia, which started at the time of Bismark and were completed by the Nazis; it shows the carrying of the „Olympic torch“ from „holy“ Olympia to the Nazi Berlin (designed and realized by the organizer of the Nazi Olympic Games Carl Diem, Coubertin’s „ingenious friend”), which clearly expresses the Nazi’s wish to present themselves as heirs of the Hellenic cultural heritage. „Olympia“ is a propagandist spot in the artistic disguise. Its esthetics is reduced to a technical means for turning people into the symbol of fascist expansion, with the Nazi model of „superman“ being „superseded“ by a mythologized ancient model of winner. It is an abuse of the artistic form meant to produce particular psychological effects and achieve particular political goals. In Coubertin, also, we do not find an authentic sports esthetics; he rather tries to estheticize sport by (ab) using the works of art (Beethoven, above all). The main reason for that lies in the nature of sport: in it, man does not follow his artistic nature – which is based on man’s need for another man and, in that context, on man’s motion towards another man – but his combative character and an appropriate body.

In spite of glorifying the ancient world, the philosophy of sport does not find in it any esthetic challenges. One of the main reasons for that is the „static“ nature of antiquity which is opposed to the Social Darwinist and progressistic character of modern times that conditions the nature of sport. Sports esthetics does not have a formal character, which means that it does not stick to the a priori rules; it is rather a „cultural“ expression of the ruling spirit with a dynamic character. At the same time, in addition to obtaining a „cultural legitimacy“ for sport, sports esthetics also creates a „magic“ which inseminates man with the spirit of the ruling relations. Sport is more than an „ornament“ (agalma): it deifies the existing world and pins man down to it. For Schiller, „education by way of art is education for art“; education by way of sport is education for the existing life which destroys man’s esthetic being.

Roger Caillois: Play as an Escape


In the bourgeois theory, play can be only that behaviour which reflects the structure of the existing world and does not question that world. Caillois’s view that «play has no purpose other that itself» (22) is almost equivalent in meaning with the famous maxim «sport has nothing to do with politics». Play is taken out of history; it becomes the phenomenon sui generis and obtains meaning independently of society and human existence in it. Hence Caillois is not interested in how play appears and how its rules are formed, what they express and what possibilities they offer to man: «There is no reason whatsoever for them to be just as they are and not different», says Caillois. (23) By reducing play to the given which cannot be questioned, Caillois has made from play a suprahistorical concept to which all historical forms of play, expressing the concrete totality of the epoch in which they appeared, are submitted. In that way he abolished them as concrete historical phenomena, but he also abolished the possibility of making a difference between an apparent play and genuine play. Caillois, like Huizinga, tries to obtain for play the legitimacy of the cultural and ensure eternity to all he proclaims play: play is determined by the behaviour proclaimed play. In addition, in Caillois’s classification of plays every human behaviour defined as «play» has some of the elements which constitute the concept of play. Thus war becomes «play» in spite of the fact that, apart from conflicts and rules, it contradicts all other characteristics of play. Caillois’s «purposeless» play is not just a «pure» expression of the ruling relations and values; it is a means for creating an illusory vault that is to prevent man from creating the idea of a just world and fighting for its realization: it deals with utopia.

For Caillois, play is an area that is to enable man an (illusory) escape from the «world of concern» to the «world of happiness». The development of the existing plays in the existing world becomes the creation of a «parallel» world creating an illusory freedom. «Happiness» becomes possible – in the existing world of unhappiness. Play becomes a playing form of escape from the world and letting off the steam of non-freedom – and man’s reconciliation to the existing world of non-freedom. Basically, it is about preventing the discontent with an uncertain and humiliating life from being directed towards the struggle against the causes of misery, which means against the ruling order: play becomes a way of preserving the world of misery. It is only an apparent duplication of the world: in it, as an «oasis of happiness», the ruling relations appear in the playing form – under the aureole of «happiness», «freedom», «spontaneity»… Play becomes the earthly substitute of “paradise”, while the philosophy of play (sport) becomes modern theology: instead of argumenats, we are dealing with an illusory, «humanistic» empty talk. Basically, it is not man who plays, but the ruling spirit plays with man. In antiquity and Christianity man is the “Gods’ toy”; today, man is the toy of capital, while the world is its (global) playing ground. Man «willingly» opts for play and hides behind the ruling values which are the basis of his devaluation. A typical example is gambling, or “lottery” – as it is called in a «more civilized way». It is the authentic picture of a world where the production of social goods is separated from their appropriation and where man’s life is in the hands of a power alienated from man and incarnated in money.

The existing plays, which are a condensed incarnation of the spirit of capitalism, become the starting point for determining the essence of play, and this becomes the starting point for determining man’s (playing) nature. At the same time, by way of play man does not express his human dignity as an independent individual, he strives to become «someone» and thus acquire social affirmation. Instead of striving to change the existing world of misery and create a world in his own human image, the only one in which he can be happy, man seeks happiness in play which is but a form incarnating the ruling relations and values of a world from which man strives to escape. Under the cover of «escape» from the «world of concern» man’s need for freedom and happiness is directed to the area which is the incarnation of the fundamental principles of the existing world – which bring about the everyday misery. Instead of changing the world, man is to change himself; instead of adapting the world to himself, man is to adapt to the existing world. Sport also is a place ruled by «democratic non-freedom» (Marcuse) which is characteristic of technical (capitalist) «progress». (24)

For Caillois, play is not a way of developing interpersonal relations and creating a community of emancipated and creative individuals; it is rather a means for intensifying the institutional repression over man which is to protect society (the ruling order) from the «evil» human nature. Caillois: «If the principles of plays really correspond to strong instincts (competition, pursuit of happiness, disguise, dizziness), then it is quite understandable that they can be satisfied only in ideal and limited conditions, those proposed by the rules of play. If they were left to themselves, unrestrained and destructive like all instincts are, those elementary impulses would only have fatal consequences. Plays discipline instincts and impose on them institutional existence. At the moment they can offer them an explicit and limited satisfaction, they educate them, fertilize them, and immunize their soul from their contagiousness. At the same time, they enable them to contribute to a noble enrichment and establishment of cultural styles.» (25) And he continues: «Outside the arena, after the final gong, begins the true distortion of agon, which is most widespread of all. It appears in every resistance which is not  restrained any more by the strict spirit of play. So, free competition is but one of the laws of nature. It finds in society its original brutality the moment it finds a free pass through the web of moral, social and legal obstacles, which, as in play, represent restrictions and conventions. It is precisely the reason why a furious, ruthless ambition, whatever its manifestation may be, which does not respect the rules of play, and it means fair-play, is to be disclosed as a fatal distortion which thus in certain cases leads to the starting position. Nothing, indeed, better shows the civilizatory role of play than the obstacles it usually puts before the natural greed. It is accepted that a good player is the one who can accept, with indifference and at least apparent cold bloodedness, a bad outcome even of the most persistent endeavours or loss of the incredibly high stakes. The decision of the referee, even unjust, is in principle accepted. The distortion of agon begins when the referee and his decision are no longer recognized.» (26) In order to justify the repressive institutions of capitalist society, Caillois reduces man to the beast to which he ascribes «greed», proclaiming the «limitless competition», which is «one of the laws of nature», the spiritus movens of social life. The ruling laws of capitalism become the laws of nature, while the pathological psychological prophile of the members of parasitic classes becomes the «nature» of the animal. Caillois does not differentiate between man’s aggression which springs from his active, impulse-based relation to the environment that enables him to survive – and man’s apparent «need» for violence over other men and for killings. At the same time, man is repeatedly reduced to a bloodthirsty beast, in spite of the fact that man’s animal ancestor is not the wolf, but chimpanzee. Blinded by the endeavour to deal with libertarian aspirations of the oppressed at all costs and preserve the class order, Caillois «overlooks» what every village boy knows: wolf does not have a need to kill sheep, but to satisfy its hunger. If a wolf were provided with sufficient quantity of fresh meat at the edge of the forest, it would never come to the village to kill sheep. A beast kills its victim to feed itself; man does not kill another man to satisfy his hunger but to realize certain interests: killing is an instrumental and not an immediate existential (instinctive) activity. War does not stem from man’s need to kill; it is a means for realizing political and economic ends of those who do not take an active part in it, but pull strings from the shadow. Thyssen, Krupp, Hitler, Ribbentrop, Himmler – they did not kill anyone. The same applies to anthropologists who argue that man is by his nature a «killer»: it is always «someone else», above all «working masses», who the ruling exploiting classes turn into «cannon fodder» (Bloch) in order to fulfil their interests. In boxing, man does not have a need to hurt and kill another man: «fame» (escape from anonymity) and money are the driving forces that induce man to storm at his opponent. Likewise, the animal does not have an instrumental and utilitarian relation to its body. It does not reduce its body to the tool for achieving a «record» – at the cost of its own destruction. In addition, the animal is not «greedy» as is the case with man degenerated in the capitalist way. It does not strive to seize and accumulate wealth that would be used for accumulating even more wealth (which in class society gives you the ruling power), as is the case with the bourgeois, on which Coubertin’s «utilitarian pedagogy» is based. Caillois «forgets» that the animal world has been in existence much longer than mankind in spite of the animalistic «greed», in spite of the effects of the law of «limitless competition» and without any repressive institutions. Furthermore, animals also «play», and they are not restricted by the given norms, but by their instinctive nature which stops them from hurting one another, the fact pointed also by Huizinga. Animals do not have «destructive instincts»; they tend to satisfy their primary needs in a way that does not threaten the survival of the living world. Speaking of man’s «animal» nature, Caillois, like Huizinga, does not say that the primary animal drive is the drive for freedom. A need for freedom is the most important drive which man «inherited» from his animal ancestors. Caillois’s theory, in contrast to its basic political intention, indicates that man is by his nature a libertarian being and that he opts for play because he has a need to get rid of everyday bonds: a need for play is a need for freedom from the capitalist world. Caillois does not associate play with the manifestation of man’s erotic, especially not creative, nature, which involves closeness between people. Man «inherited» from his animal ancestors (biological) life-creation ability (procreation) – on which an animal’s need of another animal and its motion towards another animal is founded and which is the basis of their «playing» impulse. It is manifested in the «need for pretending», for calling etc., which is all a «love call», or love (fore) play preceding mating, and this suggests that the animal is far more noble then a petty bourgeois, whose erotic nature was degenerated by capitalism and who reduces his «partner» to the object of sexual abuse and incubator. Man’s vital need of another man, which is of a creative character and by which the animal life-creation ability (procreation) is overcome, is the basis of sociability, which means of man’s motion towards another man. It is the basis of human «goodness» that involves freedom, life-creation and sociability.

If Caillois’s theory were true, the main task of trainers would be to suppress the aggression in their players. Instead, the main problem of trainers, especially in periods of competition, is how to keep their players motivated for competition (combat). In order to make players assault the opponents, trainers use the most perfidious forms of manipulation that question the player’s dignity as a «man». At the same time, the player who is not capable of «charging at his opponent», will not only be called a «coward», «woman» or «gay», he will, in the eyes of his trainer, become a «traitor», as he is not willing to fulfil the requirement set by sport, which is a victory at all costs. It should be noted here that in sport man does not experience other players as people, but as «opponents», «struggling for a place under the sun». Just as killing an «enemy» in a war is a legal and legitimate means for achieving victory, so is the killing and hurting one’s «opponent» in sport a legal and legitimate means for achieving the ultimate end. Instead of a love of freedom and man, in sport, just as in war, we are dealing with a ruthless «victorious spirit» of the sportsman who has become a robotized (capitalistically mutated) beast – whose aggressiveness is not his inherent quality, but is an instrument for realizing inhuman ends. The instrumentalization of aggression by the sportsman presupposes the instrumentalization of man by the ruling order. The same applies to man’s relation to his own body: man’s (self) destruction in sport corresponds to the destruction of man (living world) by capital. Sport is dominated by the spirit of capitalist destruction based on the absolutized principle of performance – which is unknown in the animal world, or in «primitive» peoples who live in unity with nature. The absurdity of anthropology (whose «best minds» regularly come from Christian churches), which reduces man to the beast, can be seen when its arguments about human nature are confronted with the Christian doctrine of the nature of man. Where does man’s «animal nature» come from when it is «created by God» and «in God’s image»? How come that bourgeois anthropologists, as the leading figures of Christian churches, do not recommend prayers to people in order to suppress their «aggressiveness», but offer them instead bloody gladiator’s spectacles the cruelty of which exceeds everything that can be found in the animal world? To make the hypocrisy even bigger, they proclaim bloody sports spectacles (as well as killing animals for fun, chivalrous tournaments and war) «play», which means an area where man is supposed to experience «happiness»! Horkheimer also justifies boxing by man’s need to vent his aggression. Why does that have to be achieved through physical injuries inflicted on the «opponent» and killings? Why cannot man express his «aggression» by hitting a sack, through physical exercises, work and the activities that can help him develop his creative powers? There is also the question of why boxing fights are performed publicly and turned into a spectacle, which means that murderous violence is being glorified? Why is boxing proclaimed, by bourgeois theorists of sport, «noble skill», and war has become the «best test of a man’s maturity» – if murderous aggression is condemned?

Sport does not suppress but contributes to the development of aggressive behaviour and its glorification, which only confirms the truth that sport is the incarnation of the ruling relations and creation of a man suited to the ruling order. Violence is not inherent to human nature; it has an instrumental character and serves for achieving inhuman needs. To hit one’s opponent is not a human need; it is a means for achieving victory, which means to ensure existence and affirmation by way of the ruling value model. Victory is achieved through ever more «efficient» blows at the opponent, which means through ever more efficient bodily injuries. Hence the main intention of boxers is to «knock out» the opponent, meaning to cause brain damage which blocks consciousness and bodily reactions and frequently has fatal consequences. If a boxer evades blows, and tries not to strike his opponent, the referee stops the fight and asks them to strike blows. If the boxer who has been reprimanded continues to avoid blows, he will be disqualified. Boxing is an example which illustrates that sport is the incarnation of the spirit of ruling relations in a «pure» sense, and that fight for victory by eliminating the opponent is the governing life principle of capitalism which is of a totalitarian character.

If man is by his nature an «aggressive being», why does he look for «entertainment» in play with its repressive normative vault that deals with man’s original (aggressive) nature? If we consistently follow Caillois’s anthropological conception and his view that play is a way of keeping man’s animal nature under institutional control, opting for play cannot be «voluntary», let alone «spontaneous», but is rather repressive. However, even according to Caillois’s theory, man is not discontented because he cannot realize his destructive instincts and greed, but because of the imposed obligations, wherefrom follows constant anxiety, uncertainty, fear, need to «forget» about his everyday life and escape from obligations. Strivings for play become man’s psychological reaction to everyday life pervaded with «concern». Hence Caillois does not offer man play as a space where he will be able to give vent to his «aggressive» nature, but creates an illusion that play is a space where man can realize his suppressed humanity and thus experience «happiness». Speaking of play, Caillois concludes: «It exists only where players want to play and where they do play, even if it is the most tiring and highly exhausting play, wishing to have fun and forget about their worries and get away from everyday life.» (27) Play is not a means for eliminating the causes of discontent; it is a spiritual drug which is to block pain created in man by everyday life – which does not enable him to realize his human potentials. It is an illusory escape since in the «world of play» the ruling relations and principles of the established world of «unhappiness» appear in a playing form. An unfree man is offered «happiness» in the form of a new cage which is regarded as the place of «happiness».

Adorno’s analysis of running throws light on the nature of play and of man’s need to get away from capitalist nothingness from another angle: «Running through streets looks like horror. It is an already imitated collapse of the victim in its attempt to avoid disaster… (…) The habit of the body to walk as if it is something normal comes from good old times. It was the bourgeois way of not moving away from one spot: physical demythologization, free from the constraints of hierarchical walking, from traveling without roof over one’s head, escape without the soul. Man’s dignity lay in the right to walk, to a rhythm which was not imposed on the body by commands or intimidation. Walking, roaming, were ways of spending your private time, a heritage of feudal strolls in the nineteenth century. With the liberal century, walking died, even there where there were no cars. The youth movement which felt those tendencies with a doubtless mechanism, declared war to parental Sunday excursions and replaced them with voluntary enforced marches and called them the medieval journey, while the model of Ford was already awaiting it. Maybe in the cult of technical speed, just as in sport, the impulse is hiding to master the horror of running, by diverting it from one’s own body and at the same time by overcoming it independently and masterly: the triumph of the mile counter ritually abates the fear of the chased. But, if you shout to a man: «run», be it a child who should fetch to his mother the purse she had left on the first floor, or a prisoner who is ordered to run by the escorts as an excuse to kill him, then the archaic violence, which otherwise quietly steers every step, becomes loud. » (28) The «horror of running» springs from the fear that one will lag behind, in a muddy pond beside the road. In capitalism, the worst of curses is to be a «loser». Everyone strives to capture the rhythm of life, conditioned by the ever growing speed of capital reproduction. No one knows anyone else. No one speaks to anyone else. You can either run or disappear. Just as a well-trained dog follows its master, so a mentally retarded (petty) bourgeois strives in his jogging-trance to follow the increasing rhythm of pulsing of capitalist reproduction which mercilessly rejects all those who cannot follow its dynamic. Running becomes one of the («spontaneous») manifestations of the struggle for survival, a way of gaining confidence which becomes indispensable in the increasingly ruthless «life game». At the same time, «sports» running is the rationalization of one’s fear of disappearing through the mechanism of quantification which is the landmark in the desert of hopelessness, and which creates the impression that escape is actually just a movement forward and thus an «achievement» that gives meaning to life.

«Mass sport» has become a form of mass escape from social reality, a way of taking advantage of the new (consumer) possibilities (in petty bourgeois, it is the confirmation of his «status») which enable man an escape to nature. By «freely engaging in sport» man buys the illusion of «freedom», which is to enable him to endure life in which he is deprived of the possibility of being human. It is all about finding the «island of salvation», escaping beyond the real life. «Mass sport» far more successfully sterilizes man’s critical and change-oriented conscious than passive enjoyment in sports spectacles. When watching sport, man is just a passive participant in a show (reduced to a roaring mass), while in «mass sport» he becomes the bearer of sports activity. It is about a concrete challenge (fight with nature, mastering space, fatigue, one’s own body, etc), and meeting the challenge is experienced by man as the confirmation of his own values. With fewer and fewer possibilities of realizing his true human powers in his everyday life, man is becoming more and more tempted by this challenge. In addition, the illusion of freedom is experienced in the open more strongly then on the stadiums, where man is surrounded by a fence, «security guards» on horsebacks, police dogs… Equally important is the fact that gaining freedom by «conquering nature» is one of the most important motifs used by the ideologues of capitalism in building myths of their «heroes», as if human freedom was threatened by nature and not by capitalism which destroys man and nature. The symbol of the «free man» becomes a bold lone runner, who «bravely» pushes his way through wilderness. The freedom gained is measured in kilometers of the covered space, obstacles that have been overcome, and at the same time man is reduced in society to the labour-consumer tool of capital. Potential libertarian-creative energy is directed to a pseudo-activity which cannot cause a change in social relations and man’s position in society. Obviously, it is one more form of compensatory activism that enables man an (illusory) escape from responsibility for the survival of mankind, as well as for the risks carried by the fight against the suicidal capitalist tyranny.

Jean-Paul Sartre: Play as the Road to Being


Sartre: «Play, like Kierkegaard’s irony, releases subjectivity. What indeed is play if not an activity whose real purpose is man, for which man sets the rules and which can have consequences only according to the existing rules? Once a man realizes he is free and once he wants to use this freedom, whatever his accompanying anxiety might be, his activity is play: he is indeed its first principle; through it, he dodges his naturalized nature; he himself sets the value and rules for his acts and agrees to play only according to the rules he himself set and determined. Hence, in one sense, there is ‘little reality’ in the world. That is why it looks as if the man who plays, who tends to show himself as being free in his action, can by no means be interested in owning a being in the world. The end he strives for, through sports or miming or plays in the real sense of that word, is to attain himself as one certain being, precisely the being that is in question in his being.» (18)

For Sartre, play is not the expression of the concrete totality of an epoch, but is the expression of the free choice of an individual, who «freely» makes the rules. The question of freedom is reduced to man’s immediate relation to himself and to the world – without the mediation of all those things that make him a social being and condition not only his concrete (non) freedom in the world, but also his conception of freedom and thus his conception of himself as the being of freedom. Man acquires «freedom» by ceasing to be a concrete historical and social being. Freedom in conscious (conscious freedom) as a concrete possibility of real freedom (liberation) of man involves conscious of the nature of non-freedom, which means conscious of (genuine) freedom. The question of freedom is always a concrete historical question. Libertarian self-conscious of the ancient man is essentially different from modern man’s libertarian self-conscious. The nature of capitalism (tendency of its development) conditions the nature of the question of freedom. Today, to pose the question of freedom means to pose the question of the survival of mankind, the latter question being based on the objective possibilities of the creation of a new world and man’s capabilities to create this new world based on these possibilities. Sartre also does not realize that the question of freedom has become the existential question par excellence.

Sartre points out that play «releases subjectivity», but he does not ask himself of the nature of «subjectivity»: is it an apparent or authentic human subjectivity. In a world of non-freedom, where man is exposed to oppression from an early age, which systematically mutilates his playing being, he cannot realize his human personality in a human way. Sport, as the most authentic capitalist play, is a typical example. It does not offer a possibility of «releasing subjectivity»; it is part of reality and as such a repressive «objectivity». In sport, man not only does not «attain himself as one certain being», he becomes completely alienated from himself as a natural, social and cultural being. In it, “subjectivity” is «released» by depriving man of subjectivity and reducing him to the reproduction of the ruling relations and values. In Sartre, man’s playing being is an abstraction and as such is something that is independent of the existing world where man came and where he lives. However, the playing being is a product of concrete social conditions. Man is born in a diseased world and has a mutilated and degenerated playing being, and this is precisely what prevents him from freely opting for and creating play. How spontaneously can man, who lives, from an early age, in the conditions where only victory by achieving an ever better result offers a possibility of gaining respect, relate to other people when play is created in opposition to the principle of elimination? Why is the «subjectivity» of men dominated by aversion to women and directs them to plays dominated by fight and not by cooperation and tolerance? With his «spontaneous» choice of play, man actually chooses the existing plays which are a «free» expression of the ruling values and relations and which, under the cover of «freedom», draw man into the world from which he is trying to escape. In Sartre, there is neither genuine, nor libertarian play, since there is no conflict between man’s original playing being that strives for freedom and the existing playing forms. He proclaims the existing plays, in which he includes sport, a playing challenge sought by man’s original playing being, «overlooking» the fact that the prevailing plays are a manifest form of the ruling relations and values and as such an imposed pattern of behaviour – which has become the most efficient way of man’s integration into the order of non-freedom. In his discussion of play, he does not criticize the existing plays, which derive from the existing world and are opposed to freedom, but legitimizes them as «freedom».

Sartre claims that once man realizes his freedom and wants to use it, «his activity is play»: opting for play means opting for freedom and thus is the matter of personal decision (Kierkegaard’s «either-or»). First of all, the very opting for play presupposes non-freedom: in a world of freedom, man does not opt for freedom, but spontaneously manifests it and experiences it. Sport is not the expression of a rational intentionality (freedom), as is play in Sartre; it is the expression of an irrational capitalist intentionality. This is the context in which we should differentiate between the result as a human achievement and record which is the market value of a result and is the measure of man’s alienation from himself as well as the measure of his (self) destruction. In sport, there is no intentionality that strives for what is not yet – without which, according to Sartre, there is no freedom. He pins man down to the existing world and blends him into the being in itself (l’être en soi), which abolishes the possibility of man’s relation to the existing world and thus the attainment of the being for itself (l’être pour soi). The true intentionality is the pursuit of freedom. This is dominant in Schiller’s «playing impulse»: it is an impulse for freedom. Libertarian intentionality involves freedom from the existing world and the creation of a new world, which means a libertarian play that suggests that man is «more» than that to which he is reduced in the existing world – and this is possible only in the context of a political practice aimed at the creation of a new world. Without that, play disappears in the nothingness of everyday life and becomes opposed to the basic human intention: to be free. It is all about plays based on the motion of man towards another man, on the development of creative powers, man’s esthetic being, with which the playing skill (not playing technique) is developed, as well as visionary imagination, etc.

While in Sartre liberation is man’s individual act, in libertarian play liberation is a social (class) act, which means that it is about the elimination of relations which force man to behave like a slave, or deprive him of libertarian self-conscious. Liberation of man as an individual and as a social (class) being go hand in hand. At the same time, Sartre does not distinguish between free opting for play, which is a conscious intentional act, and free play. Free play involves the affirmation of human freedom in a concrete life, and not an escape from it into a (apparent) personal freedom. There is no «free play» in the world of non-freedom: it is but a playing form of letting off the steam of non-freedom and thus is an illusion of play. Sartre claims: «The end he strives for, through sports or miming or plays in the real sense of that word, is to attain himself as one certain being, the being that is in question in his being.» (19) Man strives «through sports» to «attain himself as one certain being, the being that is in question in his being», but through sport, as the capitalistically degenerated play, he becomes alienated from himself and «freely» blends into the ruling order – from which he is trying to escape. Being-in-itself becomes being-for-itself by way of the ruling order, which obtains its expression in sport. «Self» is conditioned by the ruling order, which means that it is the self of the order, and only apparently the self of man. Man in sport is already appropriated by the ruling order. The way in which man «is to attain himself as one certain being» is reduced to the conflict with one’s own human individuality, and thus with freedom. Sport is not a road leading man to being; it leads him to the nothingness of everyday existence. Coubertin is clear: Olympism is the «cult of the existing world», which means that sport is a means of its deification. Sport is a form of capitalist totalizing of the world and thus deals not only with the emancipatory heritage of civil society, but also with the traditional forms of physical culture. Thus, martial arts, which are part of feudal physical culture in the Far East (karate, judo, etc.), are deprived of their cultural (religious) essence and are reduced to a dehumanized technique of fight. Sport is not based on humanism, but on a «technical civilization». It does not develop man’s creative powers and does not cultivate human relations; it is rather that people, in the form of «sportsmen», become instrumentalized for the purpose of achieving inhuman ends in an inhuman (capitalist) way, which leads to man being degenerated as a biological and human being.

If Sartre’s relation to play is viewed as determination of formal conditions of play, it is of a reductionist character. If man is to be able to play he must have: conscious of himself as a playing being and of play as a free activity; a developed esthetic being; he must have playing skill and an appropriate playing body; he must be able to organize himself in a playing community of emancipated individuals and create rules observed by all… Since Sartre distinguishes between being-in-itself and being-for-itself, according to his conception, spontaneous opting for play involves freedom which does not come spontaneously from man’s playing being, but presupposes conscious of oneself as a free being and free opting (decision) for play.

Sartre contributes to the creation of the illusion that sport is a phenomenon sui generis and as such is a value-neutral phenomenon; that opting for sport is a free choice; and that sport offers a possibility of realizing freedom. In sport, it is not man who determines the playing rules; it is rather that sport represents an institutionalized normative (value) model which incarnates the principles on which capitalism is based – and which must be unconditionally accepted if sporting play is to proceed. Sport is the authentic capitalist play, which means the playing form of a life based on Social Darwinism and the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance. «Free opting for sport» is not free, nor is it opting for freedom. What man actually strives for, what he sees in sport and expects from it is one thing, and it is quite another thing what sport is as a concrete social phenomenon and, in that context, how real the possibility it offers for satisfying genuine human needs is and what social consequences it has. Man’s «subjective relation» to sport is based on the illusion that sport is «freedom» – the illusion imposed by the ruling ideology. Man «voluntarily» goes to the stadium and sees it as the place of «freedom». Unlike concentration camps, where man is aware of his being a slave and pursues freedom, at the stadium, man thinks that he is «executing freedom», while he is actually letting off the steam of non-freedom in a space which is the contemporary concentration camp. One of the basic tasks of sport is to prevent people from becoming aware of their slavery status and of the possibility of a free world – if they fight for it. Sport is the appropriation of (potentially) free time by the ruling order and degeneration of man’s (potentially) libertarian spirit. The stadium symbolizes man’s complete and final enclosure in the spiritual horizon of capitalism and thus is a modern pagan temple where, in the form of «sports competitions», man offers as a sacrifice his libertarian dignity and faith in a just world. By way of sport, potentially free physical activism turns into man’s submission to the ruling order and the production of the ruling relations according to the principles bellum omnium contra omnes and citius, altius, fortius. Sartre does not speak of running, jumping, skiing, as man’s freely chosen activities, but of «sports» in which the original physical activism is degenerated through institutional physical activism, which is the incarnation of the ruling relations and values. Sport is running, jumping, swimming, skiing degenerated in the capitalist way, just as the sporting body is the human body degenerated in the capitalist way. Sports pedagogy is not dominated by humanization, but by disciplining and mutilation of the body (character). Instead of enjoying the physical as a spiritual (creative) movement, sport deals with the body. Sport does not develop man’s esthetic being, but creates sado-masochistic character. The so called «thumping condition» is a masochistic ritual which, ultimately, comes down to man’s (self) destruction: sport is not based on the principle of the «optimal», but on the principle of the «greater effort». In sport, the most important thing is to «master» the nausea that comes from over fatigue and pain – which is a normal reaction of the body struggling to keep its vital functions. Victory over one’s opponent involves «victory» over one’s own body.

Sports space is a manifest form of the capitalist totalizing of the world. It has no historical, cultural, esthetic or ecological dimension, but is reduced to a «competitive» space and as such is an object that is to be mastered, used and destroyed. Sports spaces have become the fields of death where everything is in the service of the absolutized principle of performance (profit). In antiquity, people struggled for victory, but they did not struggle against nature. The same applies to the Renaissance, the aristocratic physical culture, as well as to the Enlightenment and philanthropic doctrines. Unlike antiquity, where man as physis is part of the cosmic whole, in modern times man, by way of instrumentalized science and technique, appears as the «master and owner of nature» (maître et possesseur de la nature/ Descartes). The increasingly faster motion through space, based on technological advances as mastered and (ab) used powers of nature, is becoming the capitalist way of achieving «victory over nature», which above all means victory over the body as man’s immediate nature. The “sportivization” of the natural environment is one of the most radical forms of the capitalist degeneration of nature. Man’s relation to nature is mediated by the principle of competition and the absolutized principle of performance, which have turned into the principles of domination and destruction. In his relation to nature, the sportsman seeks to cover in the shortest possible time the largest possible space which is already «appropriated» by being reduced to the «sports track», which means that natural space is degraded to a technical (capitalistically objectivized) space. There are no symbols which express the quality that enables a human «appropriation» of space. Running, jumping and swimming are reduced to a technical relation to nature as a «competitive» space. Moving through nature becomes a technical moving, while body becomes the machine. Measuring instruments «replace» man’s esthetic being. In ski jumping, the jump is not a libertarian and esthetic challenge, which means the expression of man’s true powers, but is reduced to the technique of jumping and flying the purpose of which is the longest possible jump and record. On ski slopes we see the movements of a technicized body by way of technicized tools and technicized skill in a technicized space. Bodily movement becomes a targeted and rational activity in which man does not recognize himself as a natural and human being, but as a (self-destructive) mechanism. As far as «mountaineering feats» are concerned, climbing a mountain is becoming its «conquering», while reaching the summit is the «victory over the mountain». To «stick the victorious flag» represents the ritual branding of nature which symbolizes its appropriation and submission. The logic of submission through «victory» becomes the totalizing capitalist principle of the relation towards man and nature and it is fully expressed in sport. In «consumer society», capitalism robs man of natural space and turns it into a consumer space, reducing man’s «free» physical activism to a consumer activism.

Sports time, dominated by strivings for the highest performance (record) in the shortest possible time, expresses the rule of capitalist timing over man. The ever faster movement involves the ever more intense deprivation of humanity and man’s being turned into a capitalistically instrumentalized machine: life time of capitalism becomes death time of man. Sports activity is not an authentic physical (human) need; it is a destructive repression over the body according to the ruling value and existential pattern of movement which is conditioned by the rhythm of life imposing the ever faster cycles of capitalist reproduction. Speed is not important as the expression of the development of human powers, but as a symbolic indication of the developing power of the ruling order. Records, measured in seconds, the tenths and hundredths of seconds, have an abstract value for man. At the same time, a record is not only the measure of man’s alienation from himself; it is the measure of man’s alienation from nature and the measure of the destruction of his own natural being. As far as «playing» sports are concerned, the meaning of one of the most important principles, «attack is the best defence», is to reduce the moving space of the opponent by a dynamic motion, so that he makes a mistake, that is, to stop him from successfully realizing the attack. Space is «diminished» by the speed of movement and dynamic actions by which it is «covered». A war strategy is in place here: the meaning of «diminishing» space is to make the «opponents» squat in a small «maneuvering space», which means to reduce their freedom of action. It can be seen in the example of basketball: from the given playing space of the opponent teams, we have come to «total pressing», ruled by the principle «attack is the best defence». The dynamic of motion leads to the «diminishing» of the «playing» space, not only as the diminishing of the space of freedom and imagination, but also as the diminishing of the existential space, which means the mutilation of the natural being and playing capacities. Instead of increasing the possibilities of individual expression and the development of play as the development of playing skills and interpersonal relations, we deal with our own playing possibilities and capacities, which leads to the domination of an aggressive and mutilated body and sado-(self) destructive character. The libertarian-creative playing skill is being replaced by the playing technique reduced to the destruction of man’s playing being. The final result is the «development of play» with the ever smaller room for personal initiative, esthetics, personality and playing originality. As play becomes more «developed», the sports collective is less and less a community of people and more a group of robotized gladiators and circus performers.

Sartre’s view of functionality of a sports team is interesting. Sartre: « … the fundamental characteristic of an organized group is that all of them (functions) are mutually conditioned and mutually guaranteed by the mediation of the common praxis in progress. Starting from this point, each function becomes the meaning of another function if it is itself marked by praxis and each of them contains another one in its practical activity. It is particularly clear in coherent and narrow small groups, such as a sports team, in which every movement of a player, taken in its functional differentiation, is decoded in the very movement it provokes in another co-player, as a differentiated function, through a practical field determined by the action of the group and depending on all other movements. (Here, in the footnote, Sartre adds: «In fact, in one football game, due to the presence of the opponent team, everything is even more complex. The positive mutuality between co-players is closely related to the negative and antagonistic mutuality. However, this complexity by no means changes our problem.») For this particular goal keeper, or this particular center-forward player, mediation is but a playing ground if the common praxis has made it one common and practical reality that is to be occupied, run across, with a variable coefficient of usability and resistance. Every actual reorganisation of a team on the playground constitutes a certain player through the very playground as functionally situated (in relation to the ball, to the opponent in front of him, etc.) However, the moment he accepts this space-time situation and overcomes it by way of his praxis (according to his function), the common situation of the whole team is thereby mutually changed. For a spectator, to understand a match is precisely to understand, as a constant totalization, based on the known aim, the functional and singularized specifications of mediated mutuality.» (20) Sartre sees the functionality of a sports group and proceedings on the sports field as an autonomous phenomenon and in a technical way. A sport does not have an autonomous functionality and the meaning of sport exceeds the functionality given by Sartre. The specific character of sport, as the incarnation of the spirit of capitalism and as the paramount political tool of the bourgeoisie for ensuring the strategic interests of capitalism, conditions its specific functionality. This is what determines man’s relation to his own body (doping, suicidal training), and to the opponent (instrumentalized violence). Sport, as a war waged with the players’ bodies, is the manifestation of a life based on Social Darwinism. In it, killings, infliction of physical injuries, abuse of children, etc., are legalized. A sports group is an institutionalized violent group: it uses violence as the legal means of combat. Hence the militaristic structure of a sports group. At the same time, functionality in sport is conditioned by the rules of play dictated by the needs of show-business. Sportsmen are tools of show-business for producing a sports spectacle (sports commodity). This determines their appearance and behaviour. The relations between players are mediated by the logic of show-business, and they are inconspicuous for an «ordinary» viewer who is blinded by the need to vent the accumulated discontent and find a compensation for his futile life. From a means for promoting the «progressive» nature of capitalism, sport has turned into a gladiator-circus spectacle. Everything serves to the creation of a glamorous spectacle which becomes a spiritual drug that is to enable man to «escape» from the ever gloomier social reality. Sport is a spectacular form in which the ruling relations are turned into commodities on the market of show-business, and in which the essence of capitalism appears without its «democratic» and «humanistic» mask. Sportsmen produce the ruling relations and ruling values, which means the existing world and a (mutilated) man suitable to that world. A sports team is the institution of a repressive character and it is only apparently based on voluntariness. It is a tool for achieving inhuman needs, a peculiar (ideological) police unit of the ruling regime with a special assignment: to destroy the critical mind of those deprived of their rights and create a mass idiocy. A sports team has a working functionality which is typical of the production site: everyone does his part of the job, the common task being the production of a sports spectacle. The real job of a sportsman is to attract the audience, to provide TV commercials and TV programmes – and thus to realize profit for the owners. Sports group is a surrogate of a social group. It is not pervaded by brotherhood, but by ruthless rivalry. To fight for a place on the team means to fight for survival on the labour market in sports show-business. For a sportsman, the success of his team is important only in so long as it provides an opportunity for making money. The relations on the team develop on invisible threads based on private interests of the players, on the relation between players and coach, between players and owner of the club, etc. Thanks to the fact that man in sport is not only the labour force, but also the labour tool and the object of processing; that victory is achieved by eliminating the «opponent»; that the dominant principle is not that of the optimal but the principle of «greater effort» (citius, altius, fortius) – instead of the working ethics, we deal with the (self) destructive fanaticism which corresponds to the absolutized principle of the ever bigger profit. The club is a legal and economic entity, an institutionalized form realizing the functioning of the team, regulating the ownership and realizing profit. It is a sports enterprise, and thus the working plant, whereas the main activity of the club is to turn the playing of the team into the gain of the owner. As far as «supporters» are concerned, they have become the tool for producing the «spectacle» and as such are moving props which create the «atmosphere» that is to obtain for the match a «fatal» dimension, and to the owners a successful sale of billboards and TV broadcasts.

Sport is not based on reason nor does it offer a possibility for people to assert themselves as human beings, which is but another obstacle that stops being-in-itself from becoming being-for-itself. The «audience» does not relate to the game rationally, nor does it ask for rational explanations. The fanaticism of «supporters» comes from their hopeless social position. They are people without illusions and visions. A sports spectacle is an institutionalized deception which pushes the oppressed into an ever deeper nothingness. It opens the Pandora’s box of the subconscious only to pour out the discontent accumulated in everyday life. Hence sport is dominated by an increasingly ruthless violence: it serves to compensate the «spectator» for his increasingly ruthless life and acquires an anthropological image and character. The discontent of the oppressed is directed to the «opponent»: a sportsman is thrown into the arena and becomes a scapegoat. A typical example of this replacement of opponents occurs in boxing and other «combative» (bloody) sports: the true opponent (owner/capitalist) places before one oppressed another oppressed so that they can fight between themselves – and turns that into a spectacle which enables him to earn money and ensure the stability of the ruling order. The basic task of the media before a match is to create the impression that we are directly threatened by the «opponent team». «They have come to take our points!» – What a provocation for those who have been deprived of everything: of work, healthy life, happiness, future… «They have come to beat us!» – What a nightmare for those who experience nothing but defeat in their everyday life…

In spite of his misconceptions, in his «Critique of the Dialectical Mind», speaking of Kierkegaard and Kafka, Sartre comes to the conclusion that indicates the essence of the problem: «It was already Kierkegaard who thought that every victory is suspicious as it diverts man from himself. Kafka takes over this Christian theme, in his Diary, in which some truth can be found, as in the world of alienation a winner does not recognize himself in his victory and becomes its slave.» (21) The same is true of sport, which represents one of the most radical forms of human alienation in capitalism, whereas victory here appears in the form of record as the «supreme» form of man’s dehu- manization (denaturalization). The bigger «star» a sportsman is, the less human he is.

Eugen Fink: Play as a «Symbol of the World»


Fink considers play the basic existential phenomenon that exists independently of man, who has but one possibility, that of «everyday acquaintance with play». (1) The world is not the playing space of man as a libertarian being and the creator of this world, it is the playing space of a man alienated from the world, which means that man is reduced to the playing thing of the ruling order, which is the given and on which he does not and cannot have any influence whatsoever. Play has the characteristics of a cosmic phenomenon and proceeds in the form of strife between the heavens (mundus intelligibilis) and earth (mundus sensibilis) and is projected into man – who is reduced to the object of play and as such is the battlefield. This conflict does not change man’s position in the existing world: it is given and unchangeable. When giving to the existing world a cosmic dimension, Fink does not depart from cosmic laws, like Nietzsche, but elevates the principles underlying the existing world to a super worldly, which means a super historical, level. Man is abolished as a historical and social being and reduced to the «in worldly» dimension, while the world is reduced to an abstraction. In Fink’s world, there is no struggle between freedom and non-freedom, good and bad, old and new: play abolishes the dialectic of history and provides a framework for changes, which means that there is no historical development of mankind and, in that context, crucial social changes. Everything proceeds at the same (un) historical level, which gives the impression that the existing plays have always existed. Fink excludes from history man’s fight for survival and freedom, but does not question the existing world as a product of that fight, and consequently, he does not question plays, which he proclaims the phenomenon sui generis. Play is not the realization of man’s playing being and the creation of new spiritual space, but is a form by which the ruling order plays with man. Instead of man being a (specific) cosmic being, play, which incarnates the ruling relations, becomes a cosmic phenomenon. When Fink speaks of cosmos, he does not have in mind the cosmic space nor man’s limitless creative capabilities, but the capitalist world. By proclaiming play a cosmic phenomenon, Fink puts an end to all man’s endeavours to step out of the existing world and create a new one. To be in play means to be completely integrated into the existing world. Play becomes a playing form of the world proceedings and a form of its (self) reflexion.

Fink does conceive of play departing from man’s playing being, that is, from his potential creative capabilities, but reaches the concept of play by listing the features of the existing plays, which are a condensed ideological incarnation of the ruling relations and values. Hence play is not determined according to man’s playing being, but according to play being a normative cage with phenomenological foundation and ethical and esthetic justification. As such, it becomes an abstract phenomenon by way of which the nature of man and society is determined. Fink: «Every man knows of play from his own life, he gained with it and about it experience, he knows the behaviour of his fellow men in play, he knows the countless forms of play, he knows the public plays, circus mass plays, play for fun, children’s play and adults’ play, somewhat more strenuous, less easy and less attractive – everybody also knows the elements of play in the field of labour and politics, in the relation between genders, the elements of play in almost all fields of culture.» (2) Without a critical relation to the existing plays and without distinguishing between false and genuine play, Fink proclaims all social phenomena which are denoted by the term «play» a «symbol of the world». The existing plays become an unchanging form of the existence of play as a «symbol of the world» – in which man exists and on which he cannot exert any influence. Play is not a concrete historical phenomenon, it is a suprahistorical given; it does not involve man’s relation to the existing world, but is a «free» way of blending into that world – play becomes playing of the existing life; it is not the ideal of a human world that should be striven for, the projection of man’s unrealized playing being and the basis for a critical relation to the non-playing world; it is a «symbol» of an inhuman world, where man’s playing nature is being suppressed and degenerated. It is not surprising that Fink discards every attempt at reaching the concept of play through the relation to labour: «Every time when play is interpreted in opposition to labour or generally a serious realization of life, we are dealing with the most superficial conception of play which nevertheless is predominant in our everyday life.» (3) According to Fink, Habermas’s and Plessner’s criticism of sport as the «duplication of the world of labour», is not acceptable, since in labour Fink also finds «elements of play», which means that labour does not deprive sport of its playing content. The relation of Fink’s phenomenological conception to play corresponds to the relation of the philosophy of play to sport: sport is not a concrete historical phenomenon, but is a phenomenon sui generis and as such is a «symbol of the (existing) world».

The basic purpose of Fink’s philosophy of play is to obtain a playing character for the existing world, which means to prove that in the existing world man can realize his playing being and be happy. Hence Fink does not seek to explain the nature of the existing plays as concrete social phenomena, but seeks to make a convincing picture of play as the «oasis of happiness». The concept of play appears in an idealized normative sphere, but Fink’s «oasis of happiness» is not an illusory world, like Schiller’s «esthetic state»; it is rather a playing manifestation of a non-playing world. The «oasis of happiness» becomes an apparent escape from reality into an illusory world where in another (spectacular) form appear relations and values on which the «world of concern» is based. It is not a product of man’s creative practice, but is a space where man, fleeing from the world of misery and pursuing freedom and meaning of life, unreservedly surrenders to the basic principles of capitalist society shaped in «play». In Fink’s words, play «resembles an ‘oasis’ of happiness which had come to the desert of our pursuit of happiness and our Tantalian quest. Play carries us away. When playing, we are, for a while, relieved of life’s pandemonium – as if transferred to another star where life appears to be easier, livelier, happier.» (4) Play is a «symbol» of the existing world of misery, and not an expression of aspirations to a happier world, especially not the symbol of a happier world. What at first sight looks like a criticism of the ruling order is actually an apparent criticism, once you realize that it is meant to protect the established world and that the offered «play» is but a condensed form of the dominant spirit and, in that sense, the given. The active powers, alienated from man through play, become an independent force which (apparently) pulls man out of the existing world of «concern» in order to take him to the «oasis of happiness». The picture of play as the «oasis of happiness» becomes convincing as against the existing world of misery. It is a sphere parallel to life and man, wishing to leave the increasingly gloomy «world of concern», only has to step into the «oasis of happiness», where everything he strives for is conserved: happiness, beauty, freedom… Play «plays with the serious», and thus just lets off the steam of unreadiness to face the ruling order.

The bourgeois theory itself unwillingly discloses the true nature of play, by disclosing the true nature of capitalism: it is a hopeless world of misery. It is precisely this world that is raison d’ être of play as the «oasis of happiness»: «free play» is the reflexion of the world of non-freedom and as such is a «reward» to an oppressed man for his stoical endurance of misery to which he is constantly exposed – and reinforcement of the bulwark of the world of misery. Fink does not aspire to a happy man, but seeks to subdue the discontent of an unhappy man by offering him an illusory space of happiness. «Play carries us away», «life appears to be easier»: play becomes a spiritual drug. Fink does not speak of the nature of play, but of the nature of man’s relation to play, which is but a projection of man’s relation to the world. The purpose of his theory is to turn «play» into an appealing illusory world that is to draw man away from the fight for abolishing the existing world of misery, which is but a playing form in which the ruling values and relations appear. The attempts to institutionalize play as the world of «freedom» and «happiness» correspond to the attempts to institutionalize the existing world of non-freedom and unhappiness. Play becomes a «spontaneous» form of man’s blending into the existing world and thus is the highest form of servitude to the existing order. Play as the «oasis of happiness» indicates the true nature of the capitalist world: it is a desert of unhappiness. Fink’s «oasis of happiness» in the desert of everyday misery is but a mirage.

One of the most fatal intentions of Fink’s philosophy is his dealing with faith in a better (new) world and visionary imagination. Instead of developing on the basis of a critical and change-oriented conscious, imagination develops on the basis of a positivist conscious and becomes an instrument for creating the illusion of the ruling forms of play as the «oasis of happiness». Fink replaces the visionary conscious with daydreaming: «But for adults, play is a magical oasis, a dreamy place of peace on a restless road and continuous escapism.» (5) Instead of freedom, Fink offers man an escape. Jean Cocteau says on that: «Was it not our epoch that invented the word escape. However, the only way to escape from oneself is precisely to let ourselves be conquered.» (6) Fink does not speak of man’s concrete position in society and, in that context, of his relation to play and position in it. Freedom in play appears as «free» escape from a world where space for man is decreasing. To «free» man by way of play means to free man from freedom. Basically, play is not a manifestation of freedom, but hopeless cry of a desperate man. The main characteristic of «freedom» becomes a possibility of choosing an (apparent) escape from reality into one of the ever richer forms of the «world of happiness» created by the entertainment industry. Capitalist «democracy» abolished the Christian «paradise» and created an illusory world where the basic values of the present world are being reproduced and critical and change-oriented conscious is being destroyed. The city, that ghetto of capitalism, has become the main place for organizing spectacular «entertaining» manifestations, which are supposed to draw people out of their solitary dens and offer them an opportunity for «socializing». It is interesting that Fink is not concerned about the fact that in sport one is «entitled» to inflict physical injuries and kill; that there exist sex segregation and institutionalized degradation of women to «lower beings»; that there is an increasing and monstrous abuse of children, characterized by the principle of «early selection» which involves physical and mental mutilation of children – and corresponds to the existing division of labour and the creation of specialty-idiots… Sport is a (spectacular) symbol of the existing world and the most authentic manifestation of its being. It is the playing of the capitalist way of life and, in that sense, a voluntary «playing» with forces that determine man’s destiny. Hence murder becomes a legal and legitimate element of sports play.

For Fink, children’s play represents the model of play that is to be sought. Fink: «Children’s happiness, the blessedness of their play is short-lived, during one period of our time when we have time, as we do not know anything about time yet, we do not see in now what has already been, what is no-more and not-yet, when we live in an unconsciously deep presence, carried away by life’s torrents, when we do not recognize the current rushing to our end. Pure presence of childhood is the time of play. Is it only a child that plays genuinely and in the right way?» (7) What age are we talking about here? Starting from Fink’s conception, we can conclude that the younger the child, the closer he is to a genuine play. However, what about Fink’s view that «as long as one plays and understands the meaning of play, one remains bound by the rules» – which is a conditio sine qua non of play? Man must be aware of what play is and is not – if he is to voluntarily choose play. In that context, it is necessary for man to be aware of himself as a playing being, which means to have a libertarian self-conscious and a developed esthetic sense. A child is not aware of himself as a playing being; he is not aware of the meaning of play and its rules and thus does not choose play as a free man. Instead of freedom, we deal with «spontaneity» which reproduces the existing life, its symbols and value models. The play of girls and boys is an immediate expression of sex segregation established in society. At the same time, children’s play is the projection of the desired and in that context a compensational mechanism. Play is reduced to miming the «idols» that are the incarnation of the ruling values. Sports play is a typical example. In his imagination, a child becomes that what he is deprived of in life, but children’s imagination does not offer a possibility of creating a new world, it is reduced to daydreaming. In children’s play the governing spirit is repeatedly manifested and children absorb it uncritically; in play, children are «spontaneously» and completely integrated into the existing world.

Instead of considering the play of «adults» in a philosophical and sociological context, Fink considers it in a psychological context. Fink: «It appears that life of adults does not have too much enthusiasm; their plays are too often merely routine techniques of having fun and result from boredom. Adults are rarely capable of playing spontaneously.» (8) Fink refers to the plays of adults as to «routine techniques of having fun» – which suggests that play is not a phenomenon sui generis and that the nature of play is directly conditioned by the nature of «technical civilization», which is but another expression for contemporary capitalism. In that context, Fink shows that the possibility of play is conditioned by the «general human condition» and man’s «ability» of «playing spontaneously». Unfortunately, he does not come to the obvious conclusions. A non-playing man cannot play: there is no genuine play without a genuine playing motive and without man’s «ability» to «play spontaneously». A «subjective» experience of play presupposes man’s critical relation to play which appears under the illusory veil of the «oasis of happiness», «freedom», and the like. The normative and the real are blended in order to prevent the establishment of a critical distance to the existing plays and attain the concept of genuine play in the context of the development of critical, change-oriented conscious. Fink, like Gadamer, departs from man who is deprived of everything that enables him to be a free libertarian being. That is why he attaches such importance to children’s play. Man is pushed into «play», which is the given space of illusory «happiness», and as such is a projected way of letting off the steam of non-freedom that does not allow man to attain his creative-libertarian being and question the ruling order. Play does not create the possibility of realizing man’s (suppressed) playing being (Eros, the creative, imagination…), but represents the «relief» of the burden of life.

Fink takes play out of the concrete historical (social) context and it becomes a phenomenon sui generis which determines its own rules. Fink: «Furthermore, play is characterized by the observance of rules. What restrains man’s selfwilledness in play is not nature or its resistance to human endeavours, it is not the opposition of his fellow player as in the field of governing; play sets its own obstacles and restraints – it complies with the rules it sets itself. Players are tied to the rules of play, whether it is a match, cards or children’s play. «Rules» can be abolished, new ones can be introduced; but as long as play and playing are understood reasonably, one remains bound by the rules.» (9) Fink does not make from the normative projection of play the starting point for criticizing the existing «plays», but an ideological mask which is to obtain a «playing» legitimacy for the social relations which are proclaimed «play». Play is not a repressive normative vault that is to keep the «aggressive animal nature» under control, as it is in Caillois, it makes «life easier», «forms a transient, only earthly solution», «salvation from the hard burden of survival». (10) Fink turns man’s concrete discontent with the existing world into an abstract discontent with an abstract world. The expression «hard burden of survival» serves to Fink as a means for concealing the inhuman and destructive character of capitalist civilization and sterilizing a critical and change-oriented relation to it. In addition, the «salvation from the hard burden of survival» can be a motivation for play only for those who carry the burden of life, and not for those who transferred their burden onto the back of the oppressed working class. It is obvious that Fink’s play is not of a libertarian, but of a compensatory and pacifying (depolitizing) character, which means of a manipulative (instrumental) and class nature. In Fink’s philosophy, play does not appear as against the world of injustice and non-freedom, but as against the «world of concern»: master and slave are placed at the same «playing» level. Play becomes a «supraclass» phenomenon and as such a means for man’s integration into the ruling (class) order. It is no accident that one of the main tasks of the philosophy of play is to convince man of the possibility of freedom in a world of non-freedom. Play becomes a synonym of freedom, while the need for freedom becomes the need for play. Instead of striving for a world of freedom, man is to «willingly» opt for play which is a «pure» incarnation of the ruling relations and values on which the world of misery and non-freedom is based. Hence the largest part of the discussion about play comes down to obtaining the playing legitimacy for the relations which, essentially, have nothing in common with freedom, and to creating the illusion of play as «happiness» and «freedom», relying on the ever deeper hopelessness of man and his «need» to escape from it. «Uncertainty» as the basis of free play and freedom in play is but an illusion, as it is based on a certainty that cannot be questioned: man is the playing thing of the ruling order. It is most obvious in sport. Man can (apparently) win or lose, but he remains pinned down to the existing world of non-freedom: the order always wins – man is always the loser. In play as «illusion» is expressed not only the real world but also the real man to whom play is the compensation for his unrealized humanity. This is something Fink could have realized in analysing the rules of play, especially the rules of sport which is dominated by the Social Darwinist principle bellum omnim contra omnes and the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance expressed in the maxim citius, altius, fortius. Fink is right in the most important thing: the ruling playing forms are the authentic symbols of the existing world. They do not offer a possibility of a libertarian or of a genuine (free) human play. It is no accident that the stadium has become the most important cult venue of contemporary world, and that sport has become the concrete essence of a concrete world.

In spite of arguing that man is to relate to sport without the mediation of science and technique, Fink unreservedly accepts even those plays that represent the triumph of «technical civilization» over man and deal with his playing being. Fink criticizes «technicization» which, as a result of the «industrial expansion», will more and more penetrate the domain of individual disposition and will produce the «industrially made patterns of life»; (11) he strongly argues against the world «dominated by clock, chronometers, time-machines which are technically precise» and where «the human race has less and less time for real festivities», which means for play. (12) It is precisely sport, based on the absolutized principle citius, altius, fortius, which is the incarnation of «technical civilization». This is, indeed, the starting point of Habermas and Plessner in their criticism of sport as «duplication of the world of labour». It is most expressed in the field in which phenomenology has a prominent role: in language. Sports language most directly expresses the essence of sport: it expresses not only man’s dehumanization, but also his technicization (robotization). In a broader sense, sports language covers also the theory of sport, with indisputable domination of a technocratic mind. Sport, as the incarnation of the positive philosophy and the cult of the existing world, perfectly fits into Fink’s cosmos. Since «Fink’s entire philosophy relies on the identity of world and play», (13) sport, as the incarnation of the ruling relations and values in a pure form, represents the most authentic play, more precisely, the most authentic playing form in which the existing world appears. If we bear in mind the basic intention of Fink’s philosophy, it is not surprising that Fink does not distinguish between «circences peformances», as he calls mass sports manifestations, and «theatrical performances». (14) In this way Fink gives “cultural” legitimacy to sport. According to Fink’s view of sport, the stadium which, considering its looks and purpose, is one of the most authentic spaces of «technical civilization», corresponds to the theatre. Unlike phenomenology, which is concerned with (philosophical) description of the phenomena of pure conscious, in sport a dehumanised science and technique become the basis for the relation to reality. Sport belongs to the sphere of a technocratic way of thinking, mythological conscious, instrumentalized phanaticism and mysticism produced in a technical way. Man’s relation to the existing world based on reason is abolished as well as the possibility of creating the reasonable projection of a new world. There is an activism guided by the idea of «progress» that is of a destructive and fatalistic character. In sport, the given is not thought: subjective «relation» to the world is reduced to its being experienced through mutilated senses that enable us to register only those impressions which can arouse «negative» responses in man to the ruling order. Coubertin’s maxim “the old Greeks were little given to contemplation, even less bookish» is dominant, and it becomes a cover-up for the oppressive and conquering activism of the ruling class and for the submissive behaviour of the oppressed. Sport is the «overcoming» of Comte’s positivism: instead of a positive conscious, there is an explosive physical (muscular) strength and ruthless combative character (mens fervida in corpore lacertoso/Coubertin) on which the corresponding positive conscious is perched. Between reality and man there is no conscious mediation; instead, man behaves «spontaneously» and lives a life based on the principles bellum omnium contra omnes and citius, altius, fortius. Instead of aspiring to values (ideas) that create a possibility of overcoming the existing world, man blends into the existing world by way of an unreasonable agonal physical activism. The stadium, as the space completely dominated by positivist one-mindedness, is the most authentic playing space of the existing world: it represents the modern pagan temple where man’s libertarian dignity is being destroyed and man is being inseminated by the ruling Social Darwinist and progressistic spirit.

Fink’s theory does not give a possibility of attaining the notion of genuine play and confronting the dominant plays either from the aspect of transcendental values or from those created in modern society, the values which enable man to step out from the existing world and realize his playing (libertarian-creative) being. In modern society, man made such possibilities of creating a new world that make his life essentially different from that of his ancestors. The same goes for play: from being a privilege of the ruling classes, play has become man’s right and potentially the most authentic form of human (self) assertion. Fink’s approach to play, labour, love, prevents us from realizing their emancipatory possibilities that make the basis for establishing a critical and change-oriented relation to the existing world. Play, according to Fink, «is separate from all futuristic proceedings of life. It cannot fit into the complex architecture of purpose, it does not proceed for the ‘ultimate end’, it is not, as our activity usually is, disturbed and confused by a deep uncertainty in our account of happiness.» (15) He continues: «Play is not for a future blessing, it is already «happiness» in its own right, it is extracted from the otherwise general «futurism», it is a happy presence, an unintended fulfilment. It does not mean, however, that it has, within itself, moments of tension as, for example, in all competitive games, but play does not transcend itself, it remains within itself with all its thrill, with a whole scale of its excitements, with the scheme of play’s workings.» (16) In the end Fink concludes: «Play does not have any «purpose», it does not serve to anything. (…) A true player plays only for the purpose of playing.» (17) The purpose of Fink’s «purposeless» play, which is not oriented towards the «future», is to strengthen the ramparts of the existing world and tear down the idea of a future world where man will realize his playing being. Fink, under a different rhetoric banner, has the same standpoint as the ideologues of sport: Coubertin, Diem, Krockow, Lasch, Lenk, Guttmann, Dunning … The existing plays are an instrument for stopping the objective possibilities of freedom from becoming real possibilities of man’s liberation – by destroying the critical conscious and changing practice of the oppressed.

Phenomenology’s call for displacing the focus from the objective scientific knowledge to the subjective of the conscious (Husserl’s «radical intuitionism», «transcendental pure conscious» and the like) cannot be separated from the psychological sphere. Hence the method of phenomenological description of pure conscious uses verbal joggling that is close to the Christian and Nietzsche’s «art of seduction». If we add to this Heidegger’s view that «language is the home of being», it is clear that phenomenology opens a possibility of building a «house neither on heaven nor on earth»: «pure conscious» becomes an abstract, which means an empty, conscious. Instead of striving to reach the truth, expressions are being coined full with arbitrary concepts. We deal with a conservation of the world by way of the absolutized given which appears in the form of phenomena that become the content of transcendental «pure» conscious. Basically, the ruling relations and values are projected into certain ideas that acquire a cosmic dimension. «Labour», «play», «love» – acquire the status of superhuman (suprahistorical) entities and become a new firmament which deifies the ruling order. Play, as the «oasis of happiness», takes the role of the Christian «paradise» and becomes a way of dealing with the idea of future and man’s belief that he can create a humane world. Just as the empty theological verbalism is a form of sterilizing man’s spiritual being, so phenomenology is a philosophical form of destroying the critical and change-oriented mind. The alleged «profusion of language», which is the mirror in which being is to see its reflexion, is but an ideological curtain that hides not only the existing world of injustice, but also the road leading to new worlds. Man’s critical, change-oriented activism is being abolished, and thinking becomes an instrument by which the abstract being, through empty linguistic expressions, attains itself: the description of being by means of language becomes a form of its self reflexion. A discourse of play becomes part of a big play of conquering the human spirit and preventing man from directing his discontent to eradicating the causes of non-freedom. Fink’s play as the «symbol of the world» expresses an endeavour to create a new superhuman structure of the world, a new Olympus with new gods: phenomenology becomes theology. The fatal character of Fink’s philosophy becomes obvious when we have in mind that it gives a playing legitimacy to a world ruled by destruction. Becoming and perishing of the world does not proceed any more at an indisputable existential level. The world faces its final disappearance. Play is nearing the end.

Sport in the Light of the Philosophy of Play


The answer to the question what is play can be reached in the following ways: by analyzing the concrete totality of the epoch, which means by determining play as a concrete social (historical) phenomenon; on the basis of the dominant ideological model; and on the basis of general human ideals which enable the creation of a vision of future and thus the establishment of a critical distance both to the social reality and to the governing normative vault. Basically, we have two principal approaches: play as the reproduction of the existing world and an (apparent) escape from it, and play as a critical, change-oriented relation to the existing world and the creation of a new world. It should be noted that the subject matter of the philosophy of play are not only the conceptions which explicitly deal with play, but also the philosophical considerations which enable the formation of its fundamental concepts.

The philosophy of play does not reach a concept of play on the basis of historical, sociological and philosophical analyses, but on the basis of the governing evaluative model which is of an ideological and propagandist character. It tries to determine the concept of play by enumerating the characteristics of the existing plays and through their synthesis, or by establishing an ideal of play which appears as the project of what should be. The concept of play becomes a suprahistorical criterion for determining play, which means that play is not a concrete social (historical) phenomenon, but a phenomenon sui generis. It becomes a means for conserving the existing world, which leads to an uncritical relation to the existing plays which are an explicit or tacit starting point for determining its essence. The characteristics attributed to play become an ideological mask for obtaining a «humanist» legitimacy for the relations which, by their nature, are a radical form of man’s dehumanization and denaturalization. In order to stop the fight for an authentic human world, human ideals are utilized in the creation of a «humanist» veil for an inhuman world – which is proclaimed «happiness». Play becomes a projection of the desired on the advertising banner of capitalism which eliminates man’s need to fight for a new world. Determination of the concept of play is conditioned by the endeavour to build a world «parallel» to the world of misery, accepted by people as the «oasis of happiness» (Fink). The philosophy of play does not search for the truth; it creates a false picture of the phenomena which, by their nature, are opposed to the proclaimed humanist ideals. Its role is similar to that of religion: to convince people that the «world of happiness» is possible on the grounds of and as opposed to the «world of concern», and to bring man into a specific mental state in which he loses interest in the fundamental existential questions and becomes the victim of his subconscious. However, play is not an illusory world, like Christian «paradise» which exists solely in people’s heads; it is a constituent part of a real world where people should find a possibility of satisfying their desires. Even those social phenomena are proclaimed «play» which, like sport and war, are a «pure» incarnation of the fundamental principles of the existing world: the Social Darwinist principle bellum omnium contra omnes and the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance shaped in the Olympic maxim citius, altius, fortius. What distinguishes play from other areas of life is that man becomes involved in it «with his free will» – «spontaneously» accepting the given rules.

Two conceptions predominate in the philosophy of play. The first is monistic: play is a phenomenon in which in the real or ideal form the structure of the existing world is expressed. The second is dualistic: social reality is divided into the «world of concern», dominated by labour, and the «world of happiness», dominated by play. In both cases, play is an instrument for defending the existing world: either as preparation for the existing life or as an (apparent) escape from everyday life. The philosophy of play claims that play is purposeless and that it is an end in itself, in order to instrumentalize play as an exclusive political means of the ruling class for the protection of its strategic interests. A «purposeless» play becomes the production of the existing world. Hence the question is not raised of play as a concrete social phenomenon, nor of the origin and nature of norms which make its framework. Instead of a critical mind, apriorism, on which dogmatic-mythological conscious is based, becomes the foundation of the relation to play. This also applies to the relation to sport. Sport is highly valued as something expressing the highest human aspirations and becomes a mythological phenomenon. As far as the thesis that sport «does not have a political character» is concerned, it corresponds to the conception that sport is a «purposeless activity» which, just like play, is an «end in itself». We are dealing with an endeavour to conceal the fact that sport is the incarnation of the ruling values in a condensed ideological form, and as such is the most important means for drawing people into the spiritual orbit of capitalism. Hence the theory of the amateur («good») sport and professional («bad») sport gives rise to false dilemmas. It is precisely the amateur sport which, with its «moral dimension», most successfully integrates man into the existing world since it removes the moralistic critical distance that appears in relation to the professional sport. It destroys the critical relation to the ruling relations and values and creates a positive character and positive conscious. It becomes «normal» for children, from the early age, to be categorized according to their gender; to be divided in groups engaged in mutual struggle; to regard physical injuries and killings as a normal element of life; to adopt the ever increasing performance as the criterion for determining human value; that it is not intelligence, but physical strength, which is to secure man a position in society… Hence «spontaneity» in sport is its most harmful dimension: young people automatically adopt the ruling values which make the grounds for their human self-knowledge. That the distinction made between the amateur and professional sports is but a deception can be seen from the attribute «supreme», which is repeatedly ascribed to professional sport, thus clearly suggesting that professional sport represents the highest value-related challenge for amateur sport.

Reduction of the existing world to an abstract «world of concern» is the starting point for reducing play to an abstract «oasis of happiness». The playing space is free from anything that comes from the «world of concern» and becomes an idealized projection of a «happy world», where anyone can fulfil their suppressed desires. The philosophy of play seeks to construct the concept of play according to an ideological model of «reality» in which play is the projection of unrealized humanism. The concept of play is reached by determining man’s position in the «world of concern» and by trying to direct his discontent not towards the elimination of the causes of misery, but towards the «satisfaction» found in the given spaces of «happiness». Play becomes the compensation for a deprived humanity and an instrument for man’s incorporation into the existing world: the relation to play is the projection of the relation to the ruling order. At the same time, «happiness» is determined by the nature of the relations and values denoted by the term «play». Thus we move in a circulus vitiosus: first, «happiness» is the essential attribute of play only for «play» to become the essential attribute of happiness. To define play means to create the ever more convincing humanist masks for social relations and values which are proclaimed «play», whereas the linguistic virtuosity expresses the unwillingness to determine the concept of play as a concrete social (historical) phenomenon. The instrumentalization of humanist ideals («freedom», «beauty», «happiness», «peace», etc.) in creating a false picture of play ultimately serves to crush the visionary conscious which strives to create a world in which these ideals will be achieved.

The question of play only apparently lies in the sphere of mind. The philosophy of play does not address the mind; it is reduced to an illusory rhetoric which directs man’s pursuit of happiness to the activities that serve to reinforce the increasingly precarious foundations of the ruling order. It creates linguistic whirls in which man’s pursuit of a clear critical attitude to the ruling order and of a guiding idea in the creation of a new world are to disappear. Today, the philosophy of play comes down to doing the snow job over the ever deeper abyss and to the mind’s (self) annihilation. Instead of philosophical argumentation, we deal with psychological manipulation: philosophy of play becomes the «art of seduction» (Nietzsche). It is mystifying and escapist, and its nature is determined by the destructive character of the ruling order which makes it not only anti-libertarian but also anti-existential. Most importantly, the relation to play predetermines man’s relation to the existing world. To accept play as the «world of happiness», where the ruling relations and values are reproduced in a «playing» form, means to accept the world of misery and renounce any fight for freedom. Hence in play (sport) the dominant upbringing is through living the existing life, to which corresponds upbringing without education, and this means that acquiring a positive character precedes the development of positive conscious. The philosophy of play crushes the idea of the world in which interpersonal relations, labour, learning, family, art and other creative activities can make man happy. The nature of the philosophy of play conditions the nature of its relation to play: it does not seek to change the existing world, but to perpetuate it by creating an «oasis of happiness» which is to enhance the illusion that in the existing world man can attain his original humanity and be happy. This is the main reason why the philosophy of play has not reached the ideal of libertarian play: the philosophy of play clashes with the philosophy of freedom. In spite of its attempts to pin man down to the existing world, the philosophy of play volens nolens indicates that the capitalist world is an incorrigible world of misery and that it cannot destroy man’s visionary conscious and his will to create a humane world. At the same time, it indicates that the only thing that can make man happy is not the present way of life and the ruling values, but the realization of true human ideals, which are opposed to the existing world.

In the philosophy of play, two anthropological views prevail. According to the first, man is an «evil» (or «the banal»/Huizinga) being while play is a means for holding his nature under control; according to the second, man is a «good» being while play is the expression of his need for «happiness» and «socializing». Both conceptions depart from play as an indisputable normative vault which must be accepted unquestioningly if play is to proceed. Instead of emphasizing man’s playing (libertarian-creative) nature, the emphasis is placed on the observance of the given rules. Play cannot be man’s authentic need; it is an enforced pattern of behaviour, which becomes a means for pinning man down to the existing world and destroying the visionary mind. Even when appealing to the «human nature», the philosophy of play does not think of man but of the ruling order: «human nature» is determined by the nature of the ruling order. Hence play is possible only as a repressive normative framework intended to defend society against man. Whatever the starting point of examination, the conclusion is always the same: the ruling order is indisputable and eternal. Just as in antiquity and Christianity, man becomes the plaything of the ruling order.

The theory of sport finds the philosophical foundation of sport in the philosophy of play: the philosophy of sport becomes the philosophy of play. It is an area which appropriated the criteria for determining the true nature of play and became a prism through which the nature of sport can be perceived. The philosophy of play «draws» sport under its wing by way of three phenomena: first is a (unhistorical) competition (anthropology); second is the repressive normative vault under which the competition proceeds (fair-play, as well as «sports esthetics» in which «perfection» becomes a substitute for freedom, the form of play corresponds to the form of life, etc.); third is «progress» based on the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance («philosophy of performance») shaped in the maxim citius, altius, fortius.

For the philosophy of play sport is not a phenomenon the nature of which is determined by the nature of the concrete totality of the epoch in which it appeared, but by the nature of man as an abstract «competitive being» which is the incarnation of the ruling spirit of the existing world. It does not have a sociological, but an anthropological starting point. It is based on the conception according to which man is, by his nature, an «aggressive being» and play is a form of civilized channeling of human aggressiveness. «Good» is not a human characteristic; it is a characteristic of play which prevents the originally «evil» human nature from jeopardizing the survival of society. The philosophy of play does not regard sport as man’s authentic creative (playing) activity, and thus as an interpersonal relation, but as an institution. Sport cannot be a form of the direct creation of the community of free people; it rather lifts a barrier between people which is not to be crossed. «Brotherhood is for angels!» – claims Pierre de Coubertin, reducing man to the model of «citizen» who is more like a trained beast. Sport deals with the guiding ideas of the French Revolution on which modern humanism is based – the humanism shaped in the «rights of man» (droits de l’homme) and «rights of the citizen» (droits de citoyen). «Freedom» becomes the right to escape from reality; «equality» becomes a formal right as it is based on the «right of might»; «brotherhood» comes down to unquestioning observation of norms that are to perpetuate an order based on the principle homo homini lupus.

The dominant view in the philosophy of play is that «play» involves a repressive normative pattern and a conflict that does not question the existing world, including a conflict that involves infliction of physical injuries and killings. According to the criteria of the bourgeois theory, life-and-death struggle falls into the category of play, while war represents the supreme form of play. In that context, the ancient Olympic Games, where killing one’s opponent was legal and legitimate, represent «play». The same applies to gladiator’s fights, chivalrous tournaments, as well as to boxing (and other bloody sports) which is called a «noble art». For the bourgeois theory, sport is a “peaceful” form of warfare where war is waged not with weapons, but with bodies and combative skill. Readiness to kill and capacity for killing represent the most important features of a «player»: man’s right to life is subordinated to the right of the ruling order to survival. The philosophy of play emphasizes the «competitive» character of play, but by that it means the fight for pre-eminence and dominance, and not the fight for freedom, social justice, equality, for establishing interpersonal relations based on mutual respect and tolerance. Play is free from everything that enables man to realize his creative-libertarian nature.

The question of play has become a special part of esthetics. As far as sport is concerned, the indisputable criterion for determining «beauty» is victory through an ever better result (record). Play which, in itself, as a human skill, does not contribute to the achievement of the ultimate effect, is superfluous and thus meaningless. The bodies of sportsmen, deformed to monstrous proportions, become the highest form in which sports esthetics is realized. Sports «spectacles» are similar in that sense. They are primitive circus shows, which are highly valued in the context of glorifying victory and record, which means in the context of the Social Darwinist and progressistic principle on which the existing world is based. The task of the «beautiful» is to obtain cultural legitimacy for sport by way of «polishing», which means by way of a decorative esthetics the nature of which is conditioned by the nature of the governing relations.

Between the philosophy of play and sport the relation is established without the mediation of the «theory of physical culture», an area larger in scope than sport, which is guided by the principles which enable a critical distance to sport. Philosophers who write on sport usually do not distinguish between sport and physical culture and reach conclusions which have nothing to do either with sport or with physical culture. Huizinga, Caillois, Fink, Lasch, Horkheimer, Sartre, Bloch – do not speak of physical culture and, in that context, of sport but, departing from their philosophical conceptions, have an immediate relation to sport. Their views are similar to Coubertin’s notion that sport is physical culture in the true sense of that word and that between sport and physical culture only theoretical differences can be established. Regarding sport as physical culture leads to the sterilization of critical and change-oriented potentials of physical culture and to physical culture being turned into a veil that is to give sport a «cultural» aureole. Sport encloses man within the spiritual vault of a civilization based on Social Darwinism and progressism; physical culture offers a possibility of establishing a humanist critical distance to the existing world and of creating a new world. There is no doubt that civil society opened space for the development of free bodily activities, but that libertarian impulse, by way of sport and other forms of repressive «physical culture» and «physical education», has become its direct opposite: «free physical activism» becomes a systematic confrontation with the emancipatory legacy of physical culture which, with the Hellenic spiritual legacy, philanthropic and dancing movement, as well as with the aristocratic principles of physical culture, appeared as part of national cultures. A distinction should be made between free physical activism as an unrestrained development of man’s authentic needs and abilities – as man’s unalienable right – and sport as an institutional incarnation of the basic principles of the ruling order in its «pure» form and thus as a given pattern of behaviour. In the former case, we deal with physical activism oriented towards the creation of a world «suited» to man, through the development of his creative powers; in the latter case, we deal with the protection and development of the established order through the creation of a loyal and usable citizen (subject). In Modern Age, man has acquired self-conscious as a playing being in the context of acquiring self-conscious as the builder of society and creator of his own world: the right to play becomes the right to freedom and happiness. Play is considered as the highest form of man’s realization as a universal creative being of freedom and as the most immediate form of the creation of society as a human community: life becomes play. In view of this, the relation between sport and art, and in that context the relation between sport and artistic contests, can effectively be examined.

The philosophy of play abolishes sport as a concrete historical phenomenon and by way of humanist phrases transfers it into the mythological sphere. The attempts to proclaim sport the phenomenon sui generis result in the theory which ignores the comparative method when it comes to the analysis of modern, ancient and medieval «sport». It rather uses the linear approach according to which the conclusion is made that «modern sport» represents the «restoration of ancient sport», and that modern Olympic Games are the reincarnation of the «immortal spirit of antiquity». The philosophy of play treats the «greatest sports events» and «the most important sports personalities» in a similar way. Thus, Pierre de Coubertin, the official «father» of modern Olympism, is not a historical, but a mythological character. The same applies to the Olympic Games: they are not a concrete historical phenomenon, but are a mythological form in which the ruling values appear, and as such are a «festivity of spring». It should be noted here that only a concrete historical consideration of a phenomenon, meaning the tendency (dialectic) of its development – what it becomes, offers a possibility to grasp its essence. Sport is not a suprahistorical, but is a capitalist competition, which in its original form («Equal chances!», «Competition generates quality!») represents the ideology of liberal capitalism. In monopolistic capitalism, ruled by the principle «Destroy the competition!», sport, as the «cult of the existing world» (Coubertin), has become a means for crushing the emancipatory legacy of liberalism and destroying man as a cultural (historical) and natural being.

The academic thought took trouble to divide the relation to sport into separate fields of interest in order to «better explain» the nature of sport. It became possible only when sport developed into a complex and special (not separate) social phenomenon. The «theory of sport» became possible when sport became a field where the principles of competition (fight) and performance (record-mania) were enthroned in a «pure» form, and when their institutional (normative, organizational, functional) framework was shaped. The «sociology of sport» is developing as a positivist area, free from «value-based prejudices» (according to the theses that «sport has nothing to do with politics»), which is concerned with the «examination of social facts». The «history of sport» becomes a linear (unhistorical) way of presenting the «historical development of sport». The emergence and development of sport is not seen within a concrete historical totality, but in the context of an abstract «development of sport» which is reduced to the description of certain («sports») phenomena from the past. With sport being taken out of history, the main categories of sport, manipulated by the sports theory in order to obtain the character of universality and eternity for the principle of performance, become «objectivized» and mythologized. The «philosophy of sport» becomes the philosophical basis for the principles bellum omnium contra omnes and citius, altius, fortius – on which the ruling order is founded. In the structuralist version, sport is reduced to a «subsystem of society», and man to a «sportsman». Interpersonal relations are given by the structure and functional logic of the ruling order. Hence the basic presupposition for a «communal» life is the respect for the established (given) rules, and not the respect for man. Besides the above mentioned fields, new fields are being created (within esthetics, anthropology, pedagogy, philosophy…) which are engaged in further dividing the «field of interest», accompanied regularly by their own respective «method of investigation» (in order to obtain the legitimacy of the «scientific» and «philosophical»), leading to a further deconstruction of sport as a complex and integral phenomenon. Since the sports theory reduced man and society to the «object of investigation», this approach is clearly only completing the labyrinth where every attempt is lost to attain man’s libertarian and creative being from which comes a critical, change-oriented relation to the existing world, and man’s need to create an authentic human world. The basis of the sports theory is a conflict with the critical mind and apriorism which becomes the foundation of authoritarianism in the political and spiritual spheres. The world is conceived phenomenologically: it is a given, while the relation to the world is positivistic. An unhistorical relation is being established towards the past: the «contact» with it is being made through romanticized myths. Instead of a libertarian, reigns a dogmatic-mythological conscious.

Sport absolutizes the progressistic logic which, based on the Social Darwinist laws, becomes a fatal power alienated from man and destroys the very possibility of creating a novum. At the same time, man in sport becomes instrumentalized, by way of a fanaticized (self) destructive conscious, not only as a working force, but also as a working tool and the object of processing (raw material). The philosophy of sport (play) completely ignores the existential risk carried by the domination of the absolutized principle of competition and performance. The annihilation of interpersonal relations, which means of society as a community of emancipated people, involves the annihilation of the body and nature. Sport is not a form in which man’s playing being is manifested; it is a form in which man becomes alienated from his playing being, and a form of his degeneration.

The playing forms in the pre-capitalist period enabled the unity of man with his natural being, and man’s integration in the community by way of higher values which were of a spiritual (religious, ritual, symbolic, social, national, cultural…) character. Sport renounces the emancipatory heritage of traditional forms of physical culture and thus the bodily motion which strives to unify man and nature and develop interpersonal relations. The «development of human powers» through sport has become a systematic destruction of man’s creative powers; the «fight for freedom» through sport leads man astray and contributes to the further development of destructive processes: «activating masses» by way of sport means establishing control over people in their «free (leisure) time» and the creation of massive idiocy… The «playing technique» has become a means for man’s mutilation and the creation of hordes of modern Frankensteins; sportsmen have become gladiators («martial arts»), circus players («games») and stuntmen (car races and other sports with a «high risk»); trainers – slave drivers; instructors of «physical education» – body mechanics; sports physicians – modern Mengelles ; «mass sport» – mass bodily consumer activism; nature – consumer space, meaning commodity suited to the «consumer taste» dictated by the entertaining industry, producers of sports equipment, tourism… As far as the relation between genders is concerned, sport is one of the most important bastions of militant sexism. In sports pedagogy, women are reduced to «lower beings», and in sports practice, the most vulgar insults on women’s account have become the most important way of «motivating» sportsmen to prove their «machismo». It has become clear that all attempts to influence the developments in sport without challenging the ruling orders are meaningless. It is confirmed also by the fate of the so called «second road» («Der zweite Weg») in the development of sport in (Western) Germany – described by Bero Rigauer in his book «Sport and Labour»Sport und Arbeit») – who tried to «humanize» sport by way of a hopeless voluntarism. The movement failed to «humanize» sport, but succeeded in leading the critical mind astray. The dominant tendency in the «development» of sport indicates the dominant tendency in the «development» of contemporary world: instead of creating possibilities of «leaping from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom» (Engels), capitalism destroys the germ of novum created in the civil society and makes man increasingly dependent on the increasingly threatened living environment. Sport crushes not only culture, but life itself.

The attempts of bourgeois theorists to justify the atrocious massacres on sports fields with the help of statistical data on the mortality rate in other social fields, suggest that sport is not the space of «freedom and happiness», as they claim it to be, but is the constituent element of the increasingly cruel everyday life.  If we bear in mind that the basic aim of the ideologues of capitalism is to preserve sport as a means for preserving the established order, it becomes clearer why they continue to glorify sport. The increasing level of violence and the ever bigger risk of losing life in sports «offer an opportunity» for man to «get used» to the growing violence and death in society. The ever bloodier and riskier sport is man’s compensation for the ever bloodier and riskier life in a world where everything is in the service of profit. Having in view the prevailing tendency in the development of society and sport, it is clear that the bourgeois criticism of sport, as well as its proposals for changes, are a futile activity the ultimate aim of which is not to deal with «negative sides» of sport, but with the critical mind that strives to deal with the causes of man’s manipulation and destruction – which means the protection of the established order. The way in which bourgeois theorists discuss Olympism serves to provide a «scientific» and «philosophical» foundation of the Olympic myth, which becomes the basis for establishing a «critical» distance to «negative phenomena» in sport, and not to sport as an institution: the criteria for determining the «true sport» are the original principles of capitalism. The established «development of sport» has finally made the bourgeois theory of sport meaningless, as well as the criticism of sport that seeks to «humanize» it or in some other ways preserve it as an institution. Sport has become the driving engine of capitalist reproduction in a «pure» sense and as such the industry of death.

The governing «theory of physical culture» gives a distorted picture of sport in its attempt to give it a «humanist» aureole. It departs from an idealized picture of a «good sport» in its criticism of a «bad sport» (professionalism). Instead of becoming the starting point for a criticism of sport as anticulture, “physical culture” is obtaining «cultural» legitimacy for sport and creating a mythological picture of an «genuine sport». In that context appears the thesis that sport «has lost the playing content» it used to have as the carrier of «cultural tradition» (Lasch). An impression is being made that sport in its original sense is a superb humanist activity. At the same time, every possibility is abolished of the confrontation between the emancipatory legacy of modern society, based on Rousseau’s pedagogical doctrine (homo homini homo) and humanist Hellenistic legacy (above all, the principle of kalokagathia), and sport, based on Hobbes’ philosophy (homo homini lupus) and the positivist idea of progress which is of a mechanicistic and quantitative character (citius, altius, fortius). The «pacifistic tendency» of sport is reduced to averting «human aggressiveness» from the political (class, libertarian) space to the sporting space and «civilizing» sport by way of the ruling (repressive) evaluative vault (disciplining of man). Instead of fighting for a genuine physical culture, developed on the bases of the development of man’s playing being, the «theory of physical culture» creates an idealized picture of the ruling principles on which sport, as a concrete historical (social) phenomenon, is based.

The relation of the philosophy of play to sport should be seen in the context of the current tendency in the development of the world, which means in the context of the globalizing and totalizing process of man’s dehumanization (decultivation) and technicization (denaturalization). In that context, the question arises as to the philosophy of play being «outdated», and thus also the theory of sport based on it. The philosophy of play is reduced to the creation of a «humanist» mask for the destructive capitalist barbarism, while the theory of sport has become the camera obscura in which philosophical postulates are turned into the tools for obtaining a «philosophical» legitimacy for the sports theory and practice. Discussion about play serves as a means for creating such a form of mediation between man and world, which ultimately means between people, which annihilates every possibility of overcoming the existing order. The philosophy of play (sport) is one of the «distorting mirrors» of the ruling ideology, in which man can see only «his» distorted image. The point is in destroying the «distorting mirrors» and in man becoming a mirror of humanness to another man.

Rudolf Laban: “Movement Education”


Rudolf Laban is one of the founders of dancing movement. His school follows the ancient model and insists on a general physical development. After the First World War the school became a peculiar women’s commune in which special importance was given to the work with the “untalented”. With his “movement education”, which rejects classical gymnastics that is linked to a particular space and apparatus, and involves canonized movements, Laban had great influence in the USA – through the book “Labantation” written by Ann Hutchinson, which was to become the theoretical basis of a movement that would develop under the name “modern dance”.

In her interpretation of Laban’s conception of dancing Maletić concludes that according to it the “development of a sense of movement is directed towards a fuller understanding and experiencing of movement as art”. (25) And she continues: “…to focus on the rhythmical structure of movement taking into account the feelings they arouse in us means to understand their significance and their meaning. By developing and cultivating the kinesthetic and similar feelings, we strive to acquire ability to turn a number of spontaneous motor reactions into consciously chosen, disciplined and purposeful actions. By a subtle sense of movement, we will be able to remember our experience of it, to recognize it, analyze it, compare it with others, assess it and repeat it.” (26) Speaking of the dancing technique, Laban concludes: “We should acquire ability to perform every imaginable movement, and then choose those which are most appropriate to our nature and most desirable. It is something that only each individual can find for himself. Therefore the most useful thing is to practice a free use of kinetic and dynamic possibilities. We need to know the general possibilities of motion of a healthy body and spirit, and those specific constraints and capabilities that derive from individual structure of one’s own body and spirit.” (27) Laban’s conception represents the construction of a peculiar grammar of movement that is to be taught through a mental and bodily drill, which becomes a “privilege” of those who have appropriate bodily capability and excellent physical condition. It is then that man can opt for the movements that suit him best. Laban insists on mastering the dancing technique, whereas the body is reduced to a tool for processing and an instrument for producing movements – and then the development of an “artistic movement” occurs. Technical processing of the body becomes the basis of an artistic expression, while “artistic dance” comes down to a superb technique of dancing. Practically, the very system of drill suppresses man’s erotic nature, develops in him a masochistic character, decultivates and denaturalizes him, mutilates him as a social being and turns him into a “dancer”: the acquisition of the ability to perform a superb dancing is reduced to dealing with man’s playing being. Instead of a playing, a technical body is created; instead of trying to develop man as a universal creative being of freedom, for whom play is one of the forms of creative manifestation, a specific dancing technique is developed which enables man to express his feelings and experiences: instead of trying to totalize the world by man’s playing being, we deal with man being ghettoized in an artificial playing space.

Laban sees the body as a means for producing dance: just as an artist produces a painting, so a “dancer” produces an “artistic movement” (dance). It is an instrumentalization of the body in which does not pulsate the “playing impulse” (Schiller), but the rhythm of life. Laban’s dance finds mimetic impulses in life, nature, traditional dances – which in dancing acquire a spontaneous technical expression. Movement is adapted to “situations” that occur in life and becomes their reflexion – starting from the principle that “art is a subjective expression of an objective reality”. Playing becomes a playing form of man’s integration into a non-playing world. The basic presupposition of Laban’s dance is that man directly draws from the life rhythm and unreservedly adapts to it: the rhythm of dance becomes the rhythm of life. Dance is reduced to the technique of movement (bodily-technical expression) by way of which life pulsates in man. It becomes a playing form of the manifestation of the rhythm of life which through the dancing technique is imposed on man. Laban insists on music, in which the rhythm of life is expressed, as the basic means for determining the rhythm of movement. Music does not arouse human feelings, does not direct man to experiencing life and his own (tragic) state in it: it is a technical mediator of rhythm. The development of moving ability does not enrich man’s cultural being or one’s interpersonal relations; movement is not an expression of the experience of life, nor is it an expression of religious inspiration; it does not express man’s authentic affective nature… Dancing does not strive to attain the essence of human being, or to anything (transcendental or utopian) that is beyond the existing world. The abstract “life rhythm” becomes a mask for a concrete life rhythm determined by the speed of the reproduction of capital.

Just as in Huizinga’s conception the “colourfulness” of the (idealized) Middle Ages is to compensate for increasingly gloomy everyday life, so in Laban’s “art of movement” the growing wealth of artistic expressions is to compensate for a life with less and less freedom. The fewer possibilities man have to realize his playing being in his everyday life, the richer the world of play should be. By striving to eliminate the rational, a possibility is created for a “spontaneous” bodily expression in which man’s position is manifested in the context of capitalist irrationalism. However, it is precisely the playing rules, playing skill, playing space and choreography that pose the rational framework and condition the nature of “spontaneity” in playing. Systematism, details, precision and consistency of Laban’s conception suggest the extent to which capitalism deprived life of it playing content, and man of his playing being. Play becomes a rational reflexion of the ruling (non-playing) life rhythm. There is an instrumental relation to the body: it becomes a tool for the “creation of movement” and “performance”. Man does not experience his body as a social being, but as an isolated physicality which through artificial movements develops a “kinesthetic sense”. “To experience one’s own body” does not mean to experience oneself in the world and in a relation to it; it is reduced to man’s (quasi) narcissistic obsession with his body and to the development of the cult of a “playing body”.

In Laban’s theory, historical (cultural) forms of play are primarily seen in a technical, and not in a cultural, context. Speaking of kolo, Maletić says: “More than holding each other’s hand, shoulders or waist, what connects the participants in kolo are a shared motivation to dance and a shared mood aroused by a movement which is conditioned by the same motor and sound rhythm.” (28) Kolo is a folk organic community which is, by its existential and cultural nature, essentially different from ballet – which represents the peak of the aristocratic physical culture. What makes kolo beautiful is the life (erotic) and libertarian spirit  and, in that context, the cultural heritage expressed in folk costumes and music. As far as Nietzsche’s thought is concerned, which is cited by Magazonović in the beginning of her treatise on dancing, from “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”: “In dancing I can speak but of the picture of the most sublime things.” – we deal here with the copying of aristocratic esthetic patterns by way of a spontaneous bodily movement which makes us “noble”. Dancing becomes the most direct form of the creation of the aristocratic community as an organic community. Laban’s dancing is not grounded in culture. Bodily movement is “set free” by being deprived of cultural content and reduced to a technical movement – and by having lost its class exclusivity and thus becoming a way of drawing people into the spiritual orbit of the ruling order. Hence dancing – similarly to sport, religion and other phenomena that serve to meet the strategic interests of capitalism – obtains an evaluative-neutral character and becomes a “non-political” phenomenon. Bodily movement is deprived of a symbolic meaning, which exists only in a concrete culture. The “liberation” of the movement of cultural content corresponds to the abolishment of man as a social (historical) being and his being reduced to a “dancer”. Instead of a cultural, we deal with a technical pattern of movements and a space which is part neither of a natural nor of a social environment. The dancing group is not a cultural community of people, but a community of bodies of “partners” connected by the dancing technique, above all its rhythm. It is about artificial movements based on an artificially intoned rhythm, which insist on a mechanicistic and geometrical expression. The highest ideal of dancing is a geometrically constructed acrobatics in which man demonstrates the ability of his body to perform motions. There is no ancient techne which involves a skill expressing the wholeness of man as a cosmic, which means political (social), being; the starting point is rather a movement based on modern technique. The development of human powers appears in relation to nature: dancing technique becomes a form of mastering and instrumentalizing natural forces. Thus a jump becomes the “primordial expression of joy and triumph over a momentary mastering of gravity”. (29) Freedom appears in relation to nature at the level of physical capacities of a “dancer”, and not of the creative powers of man as a social being. It is reduced to the development of technical execution of movements – which occurs under a mystical aureole creating an apparent spiritual escape from the existing world. In this context, the emphasis is on the abundance of physical movements and on the individual choice, and not on the (repressive) form of bodily expression, as is the case in ballet. The “freedom of the dancer” becomes the “freedom” of surfing on the wave of life the rhythm of which is determined by the dynamics of capitalist reproduction. “New dance” becomes a substitution for a new society; “the liberation of physical and psychical powers” becomes a substitute for the liberation of man’s true playing being; “freedom in dancing” becomes a substitute for man’s freedom in society… A slave that jumps, runs, dances – continues to be a slave.

In Laban’s grammar of movement there is no libertarian movement, nor a movement that expresses man’s strivings for new worlds. Fight against injustice is not a “life situation” from which springs a motivation for play. Instead of a pursuit of freedom, the emphasis is on the ideal of a “beautiful dance” which involves an esthetic pattern based on the miming of the ruling life rhythm (harmony). Each movement appears on a scale of movements and its esthetic value is measured against the standards of acrobatics, and not by the judgment of taste dominant in art. The difficulty of performance, variety and, above all, the dynamics of movement (rhythm) is what creates “beauty”. Dancing is not the cultivation of man as a natural and social being, but the estheticizing of technical movements in which pulsates the life rhythm of the ruling order. Laban’s conception abolishes the conflict between civilization and culture by creating a civilization without culture, whereas cultural heritage, through dancing, is turned into a technique of movement that is to enable man to accommodate to the life rhythm of an anti-cultural world. The theory of dancing built on the basis of Laban’s conception becomes the theoretical foundation of the technique of bodily movement which seeks its verification in the sphere of a dehumanized science and mystique and not in the sphere of culture and critical mind. In that context, the nature of folk and other dances is discussed in technical, and not cultural and libertarian (visionary) terms. Since for Laban dancing is a “subjective reflection of the objective reality” while reality is dominated by destruction, dancing inevitably acquires a destructive character and a technical form.

In the archaic period man strove to follow the rhythm of natural events (above all, the sunset and sun rising, moon, etc). The same goes for the folk culture which was based on working cycles connected with the seasons. By the development of the religious conscious, the rhythm of life is connected to symbolic events in which the will of gods is recognized. In antiquity, man was „Gods’ toy” (Plato), while the world was gods’ playing ground: the life rhythm was submitted to the cosmic rhythm, which involved the “holy rhythm” of the Olympic Games (Olympiads). Christianity has its own calendar that determines the rhythm of a Christian’s life and has nothing to do with the natural rhythm. In Rousseau, the origin of the playing disposition is the natural movement. For Romantics, the bodily movement is the expression of the flight of the spirit to new worlds (Schiller, Goethe, Klopstock). In Huizinga, the origin of the playing disposition is the divine spirit which transfers man from “banality” into the sphere of (aristocratic) culture. Nietzsche’s “eternal recurrence of the same” (ewige Wiederkunft) is based on the cosmic rhythm of creation and destruction: play is a form of the pulsation of cosmic forces and as such is the transformation of energy into life. For Fink, play is the “symbol of the world” in which pulsates the rhythm of becoming and perishing. In Caillois, play is a repressive normative vault, which holds man’s “aggressive” nature under control. Gadamer insists on the “to and fro motion” which is of a mechanicistic character. Coubertin tries, by way of the Olympic Games, to abolish the historical rhythm of the development of the world and impose a “holy” four-year Olympic rhythm which corresponds to the progressistic character of the capitalist development and represents the revival of the life force of capitalism: the Olympic Games are a “festivity of youth”. At the same time, Olympism, as the crown of Comte’s positive philosophy, obtains a religious character for the irrational process of destructive capitalist reproduction. As far as sport is concerned, it is an area in which the ruling life rhythm blends into the rhythm of play. Laban tries to integrate man into the existing world by giving him a playing image. Laban’s relation to labour is characteristic: “A number of people, maybe an increasing number, feel that our working life is like our dreams full of symbolic actions, and that it is a special medium, in which those actions find their esthetic expression. That medium is obviously within the area we call dancing and acting.” (30) Labour, as an activity alienated from man, involves a rhythm of exertion by which man’s playing being is being destroyed and he is reduced to a mechanical component of a machine. Laban reduces play to a behaviour with rhythmical character, which means that it is based on the repetition of movements and actions – regardless of whether it is about the manifestation of man’s creative-libertarian nature or about repression. It is a positivist approach which amounts to the “humanization” of the existing world by way of a dehumanized rhythm which is, in fact, a manifest form of the pulsation of the existential rhythm of the ruling order. Hence the concept of play is determined at the level of behaviour which is of a formal character: “preparation, action, respite” – which can be added to any human activity, including labour where man is reduced to a technical tool, as well as to war and other murderous and destructive activities. Clearly, Laban’s determination of play lacks a value-related definition, which means an emancipatory definition.  It is a play in formal or technical, but not in human (historical, cultural, libertarian, social) terms. The rhythm of capitalist totalizing of the world is expressed in a dynamic rhythm and a variety of technical forms of movement. Those movements were not developed relative to the destructive tendencies of the development of “technical civilization”, but relative to the patterns of movements based on the repressive esthetics of a statical (aristocratic) world, which is ghettoized in the form of the “oasis of happiness” (Fink) in which, by way of music and physical motion freedom is to be attained – freedom which does not exist in society. What remains is the dynamics of movement and an abundance of bodily expressions – which is appropriate to the development of a “consumer society”. Play offers a variety of forms of motion which become a vehicle for creating a “spectacle”, meaning playing consumer goods. The same applies to jogging, fitness-centres, aerobics, etc. All this falls into the category of a commercialized physical activism and as such belongs to the commodities on the increasingly rich market of “physical activities”. As far as the frequency of sports performances is concerned, it corresponds to the rhythm of the reproduction of capital, which means the rhythm of the destruction of culture and life: the entertainment industry follows the rhythm of capitalist reproduction. The growing discontent requires a growing consumption of the “negative” (change-oriented) energy of the oppressed. This is what conditions the frequency of the increasingly bloody and destructive sports spectacles.

Dancing movement crushes the historical movement, while “dancer” crushes man as a historical being. Playing space symbolizes man’s enclosure in the dimension of the present time; dancing movement is a means of creating a “one-dimensional man” (Marcuse); while the body is a form in which man appears as a given in the world which is a given. The spiritual source of play is not revolution, which implies an aspiration to the creation of a new world, as it was for Schiller, Goethe, Fait, Klopstock – it is the existing world and the strivings to escape from it. Play does not affirm the libertarian-creative principle, but the principle of escapism, and ultimately, the principle of conformism. There is no vision of the future, and thus of a movement towards new worlds and, in that context, the movement of man towards man. In play, man does not develop all his human potentials which enable him to find a place in the existing world. Playing forms are but a “subjective reflexion of the objective reality”, and not a relation of man towards the existing world and its overcoming. Laban’s imagination pins man down to the existing world. Hence in Laban there are no Klopstock’s “wings on feet” which express soaring of the spirit towards new worlds. Laban’s play mutilates the authentic dancing movement, which is essentially libertarian and visionary. Playing imagination creates “arabesques” (Wigman) in an empty space, and not the vision of a future world by way of a visionary movement in an open (natural and social) space. The spirits of the past are evoked (Coubertin, Huizinga) or mystical forces (Laban) which are but a mask hiding the ruling order, in a lifeless space void of the sunlight and warmth, blue skies, moon and stars, fresh air and smells of flowers, murmur of spring, flight of birds and swaying of wheat…

In the “Introduction” to her work “Physical Culture as Education and Art” Magazinović speaks of a “cosmic rhythm” which obtains a metaphysical dimension: “Overexertion, premature senility and stiffness today are unavoidable consequences of the civilizatory wrenching of man as a biological-social-psychical being out of the universal cosmical principle of rhythm – the inevitable and constant alternating succession of contraction and relaxation, spasm and stretching, tautness and loosening, that is, labour and respite – which all cosmic proceedings and lives are subject to. Tide-ebb, wind-calm, crystalinity-amorphism, inhaling-exhaling, diastole-systole of heart beat, love-birth-death – all this is more or less a sheer incarnation of the cosmic rhythm, the principle totally opposed to the mechanicistic principle of today’s civilization.” (31) What is a “civilizatory wrenching”? Is this an abstract power or it refers to concrete historical processes and the governing (capitalist) order in which man lives? Magazinović uses the term “mechanicistic approach” in order to conceal the rhythm of capitalist reproduction which appears in the form of a mechanical rhythm. In cosmos, there is a constant fight, which was pointed out even by Heraclitus (polemos pater panton estin), as well as Nietzsche: cosmos is ruled by the principle of a constant accumulation of force and it is corresponded by the governing principle of monopolist capitalism “Big fish devours small fish!” Fight to increase profit is a fight which is carried out without respite. Both in his working and his leisure time man is the tool of the capital for its reproduction. Even man’s “respite” is an active time for the capital. In Magazinović, the prevailing logic is linear: phenomena inevitably succeed one another. Play becomes respite from the existing world in the existing world, in a way which does not question that very same world. The dialectic of nature, along with the dialectic of history, is being abolished. The existing world is not the result of a historical development based on a libertarian struggle, it is a given. There is no conflict with the existing world whereby a novum would be generated. Cosmos is ruled by determinism, while man is a libertarian being and thus is a specific cosmic being. What dominates in the human cosmos is a historical time “measured” by man’s realized freedom. In that context, in Magazinović, there is no creative rhythm which is of a dialectic character and is based on the rhythm of historical movement. “Cosmic rhythm” becomes the abolishment of the historical rhythm and thus the abolishment of man as a social, historical and libertarian-creative being. As far as the original natural rhythm is concerned, the answer that indicates the essence of play can be found in the relation of man towards man, and not in the relation of man towards his body. The original rhythmical impulse does not derive from the inanimate world, nor from the organic (the rhythm of heart, etc), but from the life-creating (procreative) relation between the genders. The so called “love play” in animals is the archetype of the relations between the genders. The instinctively constituted rhythm of penetration during sexual intercourse, which is typical of all living beings, represents the foundation of the so called “natural rhythm” in man. Breast-feeding of children is of the same character. However, to impose on play the rhythm of life, based on the rhythm of capitalist reproduction with an irrational and non-rhythmical character, means that play does not have to have, and even should not have, a rhythmical character. This is suggested by the view of Louis Horst, “a long-time musical contributor to American choreographers”: “The implementation of irregular rhythms enables the dancer to express more genuinely the conditions of the contemporary life”. (32)

Explaining Laban’s dancing principles, Magazinović says: “Laban based his dancing principles on the theory of fencing (scales of movement A and B) and combat practice, as well as on the practice of historical dances: on the basic five stances and their relation in a three-dimensional space. Space is for Laban the primary aspect of dancing, which in his opinion is the “flow of spatial relations of bodily movements in their harmonious interchanging”. While I. Duncan approached dancing from the point of view of its expressiveness through movements, and J. Dalcroze from the aspect of the rhythmical connection between dancing and music, Laban, approaching dancing as an artist and architect, in the spatial relation of dancing movements perceived the essence of the dancing art.” (33) By way of dancing man is excluded from the existing world and encloses himself in an artificial world – which suggests a similarity between sport and Laban’s dancing. Dancing space is an artificial (technical) space. In it, man is outside historical, cultural and thus libertarian time. Space has a suprematic dimension, like Malevich’s “black square”, whereas it does not direct man to face the truth (the tragic), but to an escape from the world. Through physical drill by which his playing nature is mutilated, and thus the possibility of his development as a libertarian-creative being, man acquires a chance to “freely” move in the given dancing space – which appears as a compensation for the lack of free motion in everyday life. Dancing space becomes the “space of happiness”; a peculiar ghetto which man enters “voluntarily” in order to “enjoy” the “freedom of motion”. It is a peculiar dancing box, while dancers are moving dolls whose rhythm of movements is determined by invisible threads of the governing order: dancing is an immediate reflexion of the governing life rhythm. As in antiquity, people are “playthings of (contemporary) gods”, and world is their playground. Laban has in mind the motion in a (artificial) physical space and in that context a “subjective” and “objective” space, not a natural or social space. Hence the dominant relations are quantitative (small-big, near-far…). There is no antagonism of man and space, but man becomes the “master” of an empty (non-historical, unsocial, artificial, ghettoized) space by “absorbing” it with motion. Play is of a compensatory character: man appropriates and shapes space by motion through visions that motion provokes – as a reaction to a complete alienation in the social (anti-playing) space in which motion is completely determined by the existential spirit of capitalism appearing in the form of a “technical civilization” and a technicized (dehumanized and denaturalized) motion. Maletić cites the words of Mary Wigman, “the greatest European dancer in the first half of the XX century”, from her book “Dancing Language”, which represent an “impressive account of experiencing space as a medium of dancing formation and fanticizing in space about space”. Wigman: “(A dancer) stands with her eyes closed and feels the weight of air on her limbs. A hand is raised hesitantly as if undecidedly feeling and cutting through an invisible spatial body; legs follow: direction has disappeared. Suddenly, the space behind her grabs her and pulls her backwards along a newly formed path: counter-movement. Dance between high and low, between forward and backward, meetings with oneself, a fight in space for space: dancing; quietly, softly and abruptly, wildly. Suddenly, a flash of cognition. Large, invisible, transparent space of formless waves; rising of the hand transforms it and shapes it. Ornaments appear, great, large, and disappear; elaborated arabesques come by hopping through space. Amids all that – a leap; broken shapes sizzle with anger; a quick whirl, walls recede. She drops her hands, standing still again, staring at the empty space, at the realm of dancers.” (34) A dancer in an empty space is the authentic picture of man’s position in the world devoid of humanity. Dancing as a directed physical activity creates a psychic state by means of which real visions in space are created (mirages) which are feelings shaped in a dancing way. By physical exercises man brings himself in a peculiar trance in which he loses contact with reality. Dancing movement becomes a meditative activism, similarly to bowing, swaying and uttering prayers. Instead of a conflict, as it is the case in sport, dominates an autistic immersion in oneself. In play, there is no katharsis as the purification of man according to the ancient principle, since it involves “sin” (hybris) and “justice” (Dike). There is no aspiration to the higher, as was the case in the Hellenic gymnastics (which was based on the principle “know thyself” /gnothi seauton/, from whence follow the principles “measure is the best” /metron ariston/, “nothing too much” /meden agan/ etc.), where shaping of the body was a form of worshipping (surrendering) gods and in that sense a supreme cult (erotic) performance. Man’s Self is not determined relative to the transcendental or the idea of future, but remains in the physical and psychic spheres, as a discharge of discontent and escape from nothingness. Dancing comes closest to the ancient ekstasis, but in play there is no spiritual unity with the divine, nor the confrontation of man with his tragic destiny. The tragic indeed exists, but it is tragic in itself: it is experienced, but is not comprehended.

In a peasant community, play was a manifestation of the joy of living of a man who lived and existed in a working, erotic, folk, cultural community. Contemporary play is the play of a lonely individual. Instead of developing in man an active, change-oriented relation to the world of non-freedom and a need for people, playing directs him to an autistic obsession with himself, his body, motion… The fanatic focusing on playing is the expression of a fatal, hopeless loneliness. The things man needs he cannot find in other people, but in himself: playing becomes a “meeting with oneself”. It is the final form of man’s alienation from himself as a social being. “Subjectivism” is the answer to man’s dehumanization in his everyday life: play is a psychic reaction of a lonely man who, by way of dancing, seeks to get rid of everyday suffering. “Exaltation” is fed by misery which is piling in man. “Fascination with play” is not the affirmation of man’s living force, but the blocking of pain imposed on him by life which constantly deprives him of humanity. It is a peculiar trance attained by physical activism which is of a ritual character, and is reduced to auto-hypnosis. It is a state of “oblivion” in which man suppresses his social being and experiences himself through a body motion which creates the feeling of “freedom” and “happiness”: play becomes a spiritual drug which leads man to the border beyond which is pure madness. In Laban’s dance the established relations are not between people as libertarian-creative personalities who by way of dancing relate to an inhuman world, but between loyal citizens who appear in the guise of “partners” and who, through dancing, demonstrate their unconditional submission to the ruling order. Dancing group is not a homogenous community of emancipated social beings, but a quasi-social community of lonely people. An escape from society to the dancing space is an escape of man from himself as a social being. By way of dancing man as a social being turns into a “dancer”, which is but one of the roles imposed on him by capitalism, which thus turns him into its plaything. Ultimately, play becomes a playing form of the manifestation of a non-playing world, and “player” becomes a “horse” on the capitalist merry-go-around.

Explaining Laban’s views on the relations between “partners” in play, Ana Maletić concludes: “In the microcosmos of here stated activities, an individual experiences situations similar to those in which real life can bring him.” (35) In Laban, “real life” is not an order governed by fight between the plutocratic “elite” and submitted working “masses”; where women struggle for the realization of elementary human and civil rights; where fights are breaking out between those who  annihilate life and those who strive to preserve it and create a new world… “Real life” is reduced to a capitalistically totalized world, and the playing “subjectivity” to an illusion of human subjectivity: play as a “subjective reflection of the objective reality” is (self) reflexion of the capitalist order in man, which means a playing form of the manifestation of the ruling order. In Laban, the prevailing principle is not Social Darwinist, as is the case in sport, but a mechanicistic logic: just as branches sway under wind, so does man sway to the ruling rhythm of life, whereas in Laban’s theory the whip of capitalism resembles a conductor’s baton. Play is not the relation of man to the world and an expression of pursuit of a new world; it is the playing form of man’s integration into the existing world. Instead of obtaining a libertarian role, play obtains a therapeutic and compensatory role. At the same time, play becomes a universal means for turning a non-human world into the “artistic”. It does not offer a possibility of the actualization of man’s suppressed playing being, but finds mimetic impulses in the ruling model of motion which is expressed in “life situations”. Bodily motion is extracted from a social context, in the same way in which “beautiful art” has become an area in which “beauty” as against an ugly world is concentrated. “Artistic movement” becomes a privilege of a special group “dedicated to play” and has become a peculiar sect who by demonstrating its play promotes a certain worldview and man’s relation to that world. “Spontaneity” is of a repressive character as it stops man from freely expressing his own experience of life, and thus from establishing a relation to it from the aspect of his suppressed playing being. Play does not involve the creation of a new (humane) world, but a reproduction of the existing world.

Laban sees dancing as a means for children’s education and for directing the behaviour of adults. In her interpretation of Laban, Maletić says: “Ever since the ancient times people observed that dancing can have two opposing effects: it can excite them and stir their emotions, and it can calm them. (…) This twofold capacity of play was already known to the rulers of old cultures who used it to direct the mood of masses. Those characteristics of dancing were also discovered by modern psychotherapy. (…) This twofold effect of dancing can be well used in the work with healthy children, especially at school. (…) Due to the fact that in dancing man is at the same time a performer and an instrument, this discipline occupies a special place among arts.” (36) And she continues: “Lessons in educational dance since the very beginning had two directions. One leads to the activation of pupils’ psycho-motor abilities taking into consideration the awareness of movements and feelings that cause or follow our movements, and the other leads to his awareness of the motivation of movement. (…) The initial motivations are most often found in everyday activities. From life, as the starting point, we shall lead our trainees to a poeticizing of motion. The road, indeed, leads from the common to the uncommon, from the everyday to the unusual, from a rational to a dancing movement.” (37) First of all, to insist on dancing as an educational means disqualifies dancing as play, which in the bourgeois philosophy is determined as a “purposeless activity” or as “purposefulness without a purpose”, particularly because Laban’s theory insists on the instrumentalization of the body. At the same time, dancing becomes a “spontaneous” drawing of the child into the existing world deprived of a (dialectical) struggle between “good” and “bad”, which means that he is not offered a chance to develop as an independent personality and confront everything that threatens his humanity. Instead of a creative dimension, educating children through play has a therapeutic and prophylactic dimension, ultimately – an adaptive dimension. Laban’s play is not based on man’s need of another man, but on “partnership” which is based on copying the life rhythm that sucks man into the existing world, and “regulates” human relations at the level of the bodily. Playing group is reduced to a community of bodies that follow the same rhythm. Maletić’s view is interesting: “One of the efficient initial exercises for acquiring the sense of a shared rhythmic pulsation is the one in which the group as a whole rises and lowers in one place.” (38) Dancing is not only man’s confirmation as a social being, which means it is not the creation of a human community in an immediate form, but is reduced to the technique of dancing movements which provoke certain psychic effects. A group physical motion becomes a peculiar hypnotic séance and as such an instrument for crushing a child’s personality, depriving it of a readiness to make his/her own decisions, to reflect on his acts, to participate in the creation of a collective …

What is the role of play in directing the behaviour of adults? Here is what Maletić says: “To develop the sense of belonging to a wider community is a significant task, to the realization of which educational dancing seeks to contribute by its own means. Those means are included in the very syllabus of the art of movement which touches also that phenomenon. We could almost say that a lack of such education is too often observed in everyday, interpersonal relations. In our streets and public places passers-by push each other, collide or stumble. Similar scenes can be seen in schoolyards and sports halls. The causes of such behaviour are, in our opinion, twofold: lack of a developed sense of space and lack of a  sense of people who occupy that space.” (39) Instead of fighting against social causes of confrontation between people, which means against the ruling order based on the principle bellum omnium contra omnes, the solution is being sought for in the fight with consequences, the very play being based on the ruling rhythm that mutilates humanity. Laban’s play is a conformist response to the repression man is submitted to every day. It is a universal means for curing the consequences of capitalism: instead of removing the causes of discontent, man’s change-aspiring energy is directed to play that is to destroy the critical mind and sterilize his change-aspiring energy – integrating him into the existing world both physically (rhythm of movement follows the rhythm of life, harmony as the expression of man’s unity with the existing world and the like), and spiritually. Man is not a historical (visionary) being, but is reduced to the (present) given. “Finding one’s own place in society and environment” (40) is not only the basic principle of a child’s socialization, but is the basic principle on which man’s whole life should be founded.

Dancing Movement


Dancing movement, which was shaped at the end of the XIX century, expressed the basic traits of modern physical culture: the restoration of ancient spiritual heritage, by giving priority to the spiritual and musical, and a return to nature and natural movement. It is about the right to a body movement free of canons that served to prove the aristocratic elitist (class) status. Nature, spirit and music became collaborators of the advanced bourgeoisie in their fight against the ancien régime. In the second half of the XVIII century a French dancing teacher Jean-Georges Noverre confronted the aristocratic bodily canons as artificial and, like Rousseau, called for a “return to nature”. French actor Francois Delsarte developed a teaching according to which bodily posture affects the spirit and, conversely, our spiritual activity affects the body. Proceeding from his own experience he came to the conclusion that every movement causes a particular (lawful) expression and believed that, by relying on expression, a harmonious development of the body, spirit and soul can be achieved. He, like Nietzsche, believed that man can, by way of “noble” movements, become noble and established the “gymnastics of expression” (Ausdrucksgymnastik): man is to avoid learning the unplanned, accidental and patterned, so as to be able to independently move and use each part of his body. Such relaxation exercises do not weaken us; they rather save us from unnecessary muscular exertion. In connection with that, without strength one cannot achieve the harmony of movements, and therefore he introduced exercises for the body (torso) and for keeping the balance. His student, Steele Mac Kaye, realized his ideas in Boston in the form of esthetic gymnastics”. Delsartes’ student Geneviève Stebbins wrote a book “The Delsartes System of Expression”, which contributed to the spreading of his ideas. Drawing on the European “gymnastics of breathing”, she came to the following conclusion: “We breathe as we think, we think as we breathe.” She believed that man’s ability to strain and relax in the right way – which involves mastering of a special breathing technique – represents the “fundamentals of life”. Thus there are exercises for straining and relaxing the head, chin, etc. All this was shaped in “home” and “school gymnastics”, “esthetic and dramatic gymnastics” – and appears within the comprehensive literature on gymnastics. According to American physician George Taylor, who shared her views on “healthy gymnastics”, Stebbins strove to establish a bridge between body and spirit by way of breathing. Hedwig Kallmeyer, one of their students, introduced this system in Germany. In 1909, she founded in Berlin the “Institute for the Body and the Culture of Movement” (“Institut für Körper-und Ausdruckskultur”), which insisted on “bodily posture” based on breathing, straining and relaxing of muscles. Her work followed the work of Isadora and Elizabeth Duncan, who came to Europe from America in 1899. Isadora argued for a harmonious education in the “Greek sense” of the word, which means discarding the artificial and the unnatural and drawing strength of bodily expression from music. In 1904, Elisabeth opened in Berlin her own school, in which children, through running and jumping, were taught natural movements and thus achieved a natural dancing charm. Her institution became the mixture of a higher school for girls and institute for gymnastics. It can be said that her main orientation was rhythmical gymnastics.

Jacques Dalcroze, a musical pedagogue and composer, sought, at the Geneva Conservatory, to develop musical skills in children by way of gymnastic exercises. The results of his research were presented in 1905, at a congress in Soloturn, and his teaching on the connection between gymnastical-rhythmical and musical-rhythmical and their mutual conditioning has been widely recognized. He posed the question on man’s essence in a new way and contributed to a breach with purely intellectual upbringing. The principle of play which he adopted is reduced to the following: a student beats a rhythm to the music he hears or has within himself and then begins to move, first following the dancing steps he recalls, and then gradually demonstrating his own creative powers. The exercises are performed now individually and now in groups, setting in motion, through this shared activity, a mysterious fluid of the feeling of community – which enables prolific improvisations. Striving to popularize his teachings, Dalcroze visited London, Paris, Amsterdam and Vienna, and in 1911, in Hellerau near Dresden he founded his own institute. The visitors of the institute included Paul Claudel, Bernhard Shaw and Max Reinhardt. His method was adopted in Europe and America. The festivals in Hellerau in 1912 and 1913, and in Geneva in 1914, attracted the public attention. During the First World War and in the post-war period Dalcroze worked in Switzerland. In 1927 he returned to Germany where he achieved success, and he was equally successful in America and England. His methods were to be applied in over 20 countries. The headmaster of the school in Hellerau, Christine Baer-Frisell, transferred the school to Laxenburg near Vienna, one of the royal palaces. From this shool came also the famous dancing teacher Rosalie Chladek. A contribution to the development of the dancing movement was given also by the (pro-Nazi oriented) philosopher Ludwig Klages, who paid special attention to the clarification of the concept of rhythm. According to him, life is a rhythmical state. Rhythm is opposed to tempo: “Tempo repeats, rhythm renews” (“Takt wiederholt, Rhythmus erneuert.). Here we should also mention W. Grässer, who published the book “Bodily Sense, Gymnastics, Dancing, Sport” (“Körpersinn, Gymnastik, Tanz, Sport”), in which rhythmical gymnastics represents, as “metaphysics of physical culture”, the basis of gymnastics which gives artistic expression to “bodily life impulses”. Speaking of sport, Grässer points out: “What is important in it are not rational ends … but the experience of the body”. George Hebert also belongs to those who, with their system of physical exercises, gave momentum to the development of man’s playing being. During his voyages as a naval officer, Hebert came into contact with South-American Indians, especially those near the Orinoco, from Columbia and South Seas. Fascinated with their bearing, appearance and physical capabilities, he came to the conclusion that it was the result of their free life in nature. Similarly to Rousseau, he demanded that physical education be “natural and at the same time useful”. Hebert’s conception, based on the principle that “every man carries within himself a dancer”, is completely opposed to the conception of “human nature”, dominant in the sports theory, according to which man is a bloodthirsty animal. He resolutely rejected sport, was against artificial movements and artificial obstacles (apparatus), discarded commands and argued for free, individual exercises, gradual improvement in performance and exercising with pleasure. His physical culture primarily involved running, climbing, balancing, singing, gymnastics of breathing… Hebert’s system of exercises was part of the European movement of physical culture called “natural gymnastics” (Naturgymnastik), which appeared in Austria, but left traces also in Germany and Sweden, as well as in the entire modern education. (20)

In dancing, as the highest form of physical culture in civil society, the dominant movement is that of man towards man (in traditional dances also the movement of man towards nature), whereas man becomes an inspiration for another man, the picture of and challenge for his humanity; bodily movement is the expression of an emotional and spiritual movement; play has a collectivistic character, so the human group appears as a playing community in which individual (spiritual and bodily) differences are not an obstacle for establishing and developing of play (interpersonal relations); instead of an imposed (quantifying) pattern of movements, play is dominated by spontaneity; instead of the “disciplining” of the body, which subdues man’s impulsive nature, it focuses on man’s humanization; instead of a productivistic-belligerent, there is an artistic movement expressing love, tenderness, joyfulness, solidarity, passion, victory of life over death, procreation, natural cycle and the like. It is no accident that almost all representatives of the dancing movement rejected sport as a pedagogical instrument. When dancing technique is concerned, dancing movement contributed to the development of new forms of motion and created a new relation to the body which offers the possibility of a more complex expression of man’s playing being. We deal here with technical presuppositions for the development of creative flexibility and thus creative personality. Speaking of Dalcroze, Magazinović concludes: “In the beginning of his work, Dalcroze transferred musical metron and rhythm (agogic, tempo and dynamics) to body motion. It is only during his work that he realized that the human body itself possesses rhythmical lawfulness of movements and that the sense of physical rhythm creates a technical background of rhythmical-musical performances through body movements. Before that the European educational public had not been aware of one-sidedness of contemporary physical exercises, which knew only of the principles of muscular tension, while of the principle of relaxation it had no idea whatsoever, and thus was almost rhythmical. Dalcroze’s exercises in rhythmical gymnastics, which by bodily movements attempted to express dynamic tonic variations, contributed to the realization of the need of the principle of movement relaxation and bodily rhythm in alternating straining and relaxing of the body, as the expressive instrument in the art of movement in dancing and acting. Thereby gymnastics, as the basis of physical-esthetic education, as the system of bodily rhythm harmonized with musical rhythm, gained in value.” (21)

Dancing movement was formed against the aristocratic forms of physical culture, based on the principle ordre et mesure – which is in the most authentic way expressed in ballet. It is an endeavour to adapt bodily movement of an atomized citizen to the dynamic rhythm of the capitalist way of life, and free oneself of the patterns that curb self-initiative and thus the feeling of “freedom”. Dancing movement does not depart from the whole of the emancipatory heritage of civil society, but from partial starting-points and thus leads man to ghettoization. In dancing movement there is no confrontation with the existing world, nor the visionary dimension. The development of man’s playing being is not seen in the context of man’s liberation from the chains of a repressive civilization and the creation of a humane world; an illusion is rather created that freedom in play is possible in spite of the fact that man is not free in society. The representatives of the dancing movement do not see man as a complete social being, but reduce him to a “dancer”. At the same time, they depart from the dualism of body and spirit and try to bridge it through the development of playing techniques. Instead of the fight for a new world, they offer an escape from the world and autistic immersion into oneself through specific techniques of physical exercises. Hence the insistence on physical activity which excludes man from the world and directs his attention to what is going on in the body. The obsession with one’s own body is proportionate to the intensity of the experience of a world deprived of humanity. Pursuit of “internal harmony” becomes an answer to the chaos of everyday life, where there is less and less space for humanness. Dancing movement, which was mainly supported by rich patrons, was reduced to a hopeless attempt to offer man, on the basis and within an inhuman world (or by fleeing to nature, which more or less comes to the same), a possibility of realizing his true human potentials, and thus humanize the existing world. It is an activism which, ultimately, leads man astray in his endeavours to win the cause not only for a better world but for survival. Play turns into a fight with man’s critical, change-aspiring energy and becomes a form of his depolitization. Instead of a fight to eradicate the causes of non-freedom and destruction of humanity (nature), it directs man to create such forms of behaviour which in the existing world are to offer him an (illusory) opportunity to attain his playing being. Hence one of its basic features is to insist on “spontaneity”, regardless of  the fact that man’s “freedom” in non-freedom means letting off the steam of non-freedom –  and regardless of what man himself (fanaticized, alienated, stupefied) may think of it. “Free play” becomes a compensation for an unfree life and a hopeless attempt to escape from life – and as such the space of “happiness”. In any case, “free play” becomes determined relative to life in which there is neither play nor freedom. Hence the main role of “players” is to give to the ruling destructive order a playing dimension and show that “freedom” and “happiness” are possible in a world of non-freedom and unhappiness.

As far as the struggle for women’s emancipation is concerned, dancing movement is (another) wrong road with a sectarian character and leads women to ghettoization. A struggle for “free sensuality” becomes a substitution for the struggle for women’s human and civil rights and escape from reality. The views of Isidora Duncan on women’s emancipation are more of a cry for humanity, then struggle for freedom. By opposing the traditional ballet, unnaturalness of its technique, patterned movements, dressing and false spiritual expression, degradation of women to means for entertainment – in the article “Dancing of the Future” (published in Leipzig in 1903) Duncan speaks of what the “future dancer” must be and thus indicates the true position of women in dance (and society): “The future dancer must be a women whose body and spirit are so harmoniously developed that her body motion is natural expression of her soul. She will not belong to a particular nation but to the whole of humanity. Nor will she represent fairies by dancing, maenads or coquettes, but will through dancing express her femininity and her humanity… By dancing she will incarnate the changing life in nature and the movements of her body will emanate her thoughts, her hopes. She will in her dance incarnate freedom, and to women she will bring knowledge of strength and expressive beauty of their bodies.“ (22) Her “dancing of the future” will express “all that is beautiful, healthy and honest in human life”. (23) This article could be entitled: dancing of the future – in a world without any future. Duncan’s noble vision remained entrapped in a world that degenerates every attempt of man to gain freedom through the development of his playing being. According to Russian critic J. Svetlov, Duncan was the first who managed to realize the “fusion of pure playing plastic with pure music”, and “restore to the movement an ancient simplicity”. (24) Duncan and her co-players managed to “set free” the dancing movement of chains of traditional dancing patterns, but not to set man free from the chains of capitalism.

Dancing movement pursued “perfection” in the existing world and ended on the market of “consumer society”. Its basic intention, to be the incarnation of the ruling rhythm of life in a “spontaneous” playing form, brought about its degeneration. Aerobics and other forms of commercialized physical activism are the “final” forms of the capitalist degeneration of dancing movement: in capitalism only those forms of bodily activism develop and survive which correspond to the ruling spirit and can become the source of profit. A variety of bodily expressions in dancing are not the confirmation of “freedom” but a manifestation of an increasingly various repression by the ruling order over man. Even the dances which are meant to establish a critical detachment to the existing world indicate that man cannot liberate his body through play, without at the same time liberating himself as a social being of the repressive (destructive) civilization. Only in a humanized nature and a society of free people the genuine dancing movement is possible – as the realization of man’s genuine playing being.

Body Language of Deaf-Mute Children


Here we shall also say something about the play of deaf-mute children, which is not based on a conflict but on cooperation. The analysis made according to the impressions from the rehearsals for the performance “Little Mermaid”, conducted by the dramatist Igor Simonović, who also directed the play.

Play offers the possibility of the development of more complete interpersonal relations than speech. Through play deaf-mute children literally become an organic community. What they cannot express in words or song, the children express through body motion: it becomes the main means of understanding, expression of thoughts and emotional response. Hence children have a need for constant motion whereby their whole body is activated. Play offers children the possibility of giving meaning to a physical motion and direct emotions towards the establishment of interpersonal relations. Since there is no language as an objective form they can relate to through listening and speaking, disabled children repeatedly create by their bodies symbolic forms which make the language they use in communication. In play, the grammar of physical motion on which the structure of understanding in the group is based is spontaneously established. The body language expresses the personality of the children in a much more complex and adequate way then it is achieved by voice, since they participate in its creation with their whole being. Hence a number of layers in their relations and such a peculiar personal expression. Most importantly, their body language is a direct expression of their emotional and spiritual charge. They are not capable of lying, as is the case with children who treat the spoken language (also) as a means which is to conceal their emotional state, since they cannot create from body expression such an external form that can be misleading. This is the essence of their spontaneity, openness and naiveté… At the same time, this is the biggest obstacle for the children to be pushed into the mould of a role that restrains the manifestation of their authentic individuality. It is much harder for them to be “somebody else” than it is for the children who can speak. This is of utmost importance for determining the performances the children are to play. It is much more difficult for them to act, since their whole life is already “acting”, as they are necessarily oriented to a dramatic body expression. While children with normal speech faculties express their emotions in a louder or lower voice, faster or slower speech, harsher or softer words, through screaming or singing, disabled children express variety of emotions and degree of emotional charge through grimaces and unarticulated speech sounds, as well as through the dynamics and dramatics of the body motion. For them, the ability to control the body motion means the suppression of emotions, spirit, imagination, while the lavishness of body movements directly conditions the possibility of the development of their relations. Since with the body motion it is much harder to adequately and precisely express thoughts and emotions, their movement is often characterized by confusion. At the moments of emotional tension the group feels panic. The children constantly turn one to another and follow their friends’ movements in order to understand what they are trying to say. They have a need to relate to the space in such a way as to be able to see at every moment what is going on not around them, but in front of them. Hence they spontaneously try to organize the scene in a way which will enable them to establish a frontal intimacy. It is of utmost importance, since children are then sure they can control the activities on the scene, which means that they understand each other all the time. The space must always be in front of them, and the play, scene and light are all adapted to that. Those dear children do not like to be in the shadow. Nor should they ever be. Nowhere.

Sport and Language


If we proceed, only conditionally, from Heidegger’s view that “language is the home of being” (“Die Sprache ist das Haus des Seins”), then sports language is a fortress in which resides the true, dehumanized and denaturalized being of sport. Sports language (above all speech) is reduced to a means for manipulation by which man is reduced to an instrument for achieving inhuman ends. It is dominated by a war terminology, bad language and abuses; by the rhetoric of circus announcers which is to give to the marginal a “fatal” dimension; by a mythological presentation of events and persons which is to deify the fight for victory and destroy man’s self-conscious as a libertarian and creative being; by “progressive” demagogy which destroys the power of reasoning and creates a fanatical (self) destructive conscious…

The claim that sport is a “universal language” (a peculiar Esperanto) can be accepted only conditionally. Sport has its meaningful structure, grammar of motion and skills. As such, it represents the model of behaviour with a symbolic and “communicative” character. The fact that people come from different cultural spheres does not essentially affect the possibility of “communication” by way of sport, since it does not derive from any particular culture and is based on a “universal” capitalist civilization. At the same time, with sport becoming a universal and global means of capitalism for depolitization of the oppressed and their idioticizing, a global (“international”) sports vocabulary is being created – the vocabulary which appears in various linguistic forms. On stadiums throughout the world we are witnessing the formation, in relation to the global capitalist plutocracy which uses the “language of business”, of a global supporting “mass” that uses the same supporting vocabulary – which is one of the manifest forms of the globalizing capitalist primitivism. The language of the crowd, reduced to fascist, sexist, racist, nationalistic and local-chauvinistic slogans is but an echo of what is going on in life and what, through the fight of contemporary gladiators, in a condensed form appears in stadiums and sports centres. The language of supporters is of an irrational character expressing pathological psychic states and creating collective supportive “conscious” – which destroys the critical, change-aspiring conscious and degenerates humanity.

In sport the “body language” amounts to the struggle of mechanical beings. A sports body, body posture and body motion are based on the model of the “iron” body, fighting posture and aggressive motion emanating a ruthless belligerent spirit. They represent the symbols of the ruling order by means of which it is writing a message addressed to mankind. The maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso indicates a symbolic character of the body: sportsman is a moving sculpture of capitalism and its advertising billboard. Playing proficiency, reduced to a playing technique, represents a “civilized” body language which is reduced to a war waged with bodies: the grammar of body motion is reduced to a war strategy. The very looks, stance and motion convey to the “opponents” that they are not friends, but deadly enemies. Sport destroys the pacifist mind and maintains the state of constant war between people and nations, destroys a critical relation to the ruling order of injustice and completely integrates man into the existing world. It is the incarnation of the “mondialist” spirit of capitalism and as such is the means for destroying the cultural heritage of mankind. Instead of enabling a meeting of cultures, on sports fields, by means of muscular bodies of fanaticized crusaders, a war is waged between the most powerful capitalist corporations. In a wider political context, a sports fight is of a class character: by it the bourgeoisie “pacifies” (depolitizes) the oppressed working “masses”, draws them into the spiritual orbit of capitalism and destroys the libertarian mind.

By technicizing the “theoretical approach” to sport, which is mostly expressed at the linguistic level, the process of dehumanization and denaturalization of the sports environment and man is coming to a conclusion. For interpersonal relations in physical education, sport and recreation the term “communication” is repeatedly used, and it means the information feedback established between technical processes – as against the term “understanding each other”, which suggests the establishment and enrichment of interpersonal relations. In sports theory the popular terms are the “mechanics of the bodily”, the “mechanics of motion” and others, up to defining the whole area of man’s physical activism by the syntagma “kinesiological sociology”. This tendency indicates that sport is increasingly submitted to the “mechanisms of functioning” which are typical of technical processes. In that context, the relation to the human body is mediated by the productivistic-manipulative nature of technique. The contemporary scientific approach (according to the level of the development of natural sciences and the goals set before them) disintegrates the organism into processes, components – which corresponds to the established specialization in working processes and the strivings to achieve a (quantitatively measurable) effect in the least possible time. If we remember that the development of science is dictated by the logic of the “consumer society”, then it is clear that we are here dealing with the instrumentalization of science and technique for the purpose of achieving inhuman and anti-existential goals. From a means for manipulation and submission technique has become a means for man’s destruction.

Sports language is not a form of cultural cooperation between nations; it does not produce man’s cultural being; it does not enable the humanization of interpersonal relations and the establishment of a critical, change-aspiring relation to the existing world of injustice and non-freedom, but is a form of “communication” which corresponds to the “international” spirit of capitalism. The sports language is the manifest form of a world based on the principles bellum omnium contra omnes and citius, altius, fortius and as such is a technical means for destroying the cultural conscious. In sport, man is between the anvil of a technocratic ratio and the hammer of a mythological conscious, which corresponds to man’s positioning between “world of the factual” and “spectacle” – which is a form in which the ruling relations and values appear. The technicization of the world is corresponded by a mythological conscious which, as a contemporary dogmatic, gives meaning to life, while scientific discoveries become the foundation of a new, technologically based mysticism. Everything is being done to destroy the mind which is capable of showing the ruling (destructive) tendencies in the development of society and the objective possibilities for the creation of a new world. Sports language suggests the real nature of “globalism”: it creates a civilization without culture, which means “new” barbarism.

Fair-play and Kant’s “Categorical Imperative”


As far as Horkheimer’s appeal to Immanuel Kant is concerned, in Kant’s conception of play sport is denied a playing character. In his comments on Kant’s views on play in his “Critique of Judgement” (“Kritik der Urteilskraft”), Danko Grlić concludes that, according to Kant, play, “in contrast to work, is a free human activity of the human body or spirit which occurs without a direct practical purpose or usage that would exist outside the activity itself. Play is played out of sheer joy of playing and everything else that from the outside wants to determine or restrict it, to direct or instruct it, spoils the very free character of play, restrained by no one and nothing. Hence, even when play is placed in the service of a particular purpose: exercising, strengthening of spirit, competition or fight for victory, it loses its authentic original sense, since it is contained in the very uncertainty, uninhibitedness, in a free motion not determined by the conditions of the actual, real life, but solely by the rules of the world of play. Therefore, play can follow only its own immanent purposefulness and not a purpose beyond itself, however “noble” or “great” it might be. Play becomes a “purposefulness without a purpose”. (15)

In Kant, the dominant world is the a priori “world of play”, which has nothing to do with reality and is bounded by its own rules. It is an apparent (idealized) opposition to the existing world and thus is a datum independent of man and society, where what is not possible in society becomes possible. Kant does not speak of the essence of play as a concrete social phenomenon, but seeks to establish a normative project of play which becomes a prism through which social relations proclaimed to be “play” should be observed. “Free play” is based on the mind which is “free” from reality and exists only in conceptual terms, that is, as the ideal of play not matched by any of the existing plays – which appeared in a given historical moment and are a playing form of the manifestation of the ruling relations and values. Play, in its essence, corresponds to Kant’s world of noumenon and accordingly is of an a priori character.

In his “Anthropology” Kant says: “Labour and play can be compared like war and peace. The former exerts a kind of force on our capacities, directing them to a given end; the latter /play/ places them in a free motion, by which the powers of the soul proportionally engaged and enlivened are precisely that which gives us pleasure; in contrast to that, the forms of labour are ends.“ (16) In Kant’s philosophy , the world is not a whole; it is divided in the world of concern and the world of happiness, the world of labour and the world of play – which are spheres independent of man, and in which man exists. Consequently, man is not a whole being which as such relates to the world; he is artificially divided in the worker and player. Labour becomes a negative foundation in relation to which the concept of play is determined: labour is compulsory – play is free; labour is a target activity which engages man one-sidedly – play offers the possibility of realizing spiritual forces and as such is a pastime. The real world of non-freedom is confronted with the abstract world of play which is proclaimed to be “freedom” – and which is only an ideological cover for the existing plays the nature of which is conditioned by the ruling relations and values. The “idea of play” becomes the ideological picture of a social phenomenon whose essence is determined by the concrete totality of the ruling relations.

In Kant, strivings for play are not an expression of man’s strivings to become free as a social being, but to experience freedom – in a world of non-freedom. Instead of freedom in society, Kant offers man a “pastime” in play; instead of a vision of a free world, Kant offers the idea of a “free play”. “Spontaneity”, “purposelessness”, and the like are determinations of play which suggest that free play in a world of non-freedom is possible. One must but immerse oneself into the “world of play” to experience freedom. Play becomes a mystical force giving man happiness in an extreme misery. Pursuing happiness involves an escape from the existing world of misery and renouncement of the right to a happy life: misery in everyday life is a conditio sine qua non of happiness in play. Play is possible only in the existing world of non-freedom and it cannot involve strivings for a world of freedom (libertarian play), nor the culmination of the world of freedom (genuine play). It is a (apparent) freedom from the existing world, but not freedom for a future world: it does not have a visionary dimension. Pursuing freedom in the illusory world of play becomes the substitute for a struggle to create a world in which man will be free. Instead of aspiring to a happy life, man should unquestioningly accept the world of sufferings and direct his aspirations to happiness towards the sphere of play which in Kant is an unrealizable ideal, while in reality it is only a playing form of the manifestation of the ruling relations and values. Kant’s conception of play is a way to obtain for the existing relations which were proclaimed “play” such a philosophical foundation which makes them apparently independent. In fact, it is not the concept of play which is determined, but the relation of man to the existing world conceived as a given fact. Play is not an illusory world of freedom, but a concrete world of non-freedom to which man should relate as if it were a world of freedom. Play becomes a “free” form of letting off the steam of non-freedom.

Unlike Schiller, Kant does not depart from man’s playing being, but from the play as a repressive normative vault by which man’s “aggressive” nature is held under control. He is not guided by a (romantic) faith in man, but strives to oppose the “evil” human nature in order to prevent the disintegration of society. His ideal of man represents the ideal of a model citizen. Kant’s pedagogy does not insist on man’s humanization but on his “disciplining”, which means on stopping the animalistic from jeopardizing humanity; on “cultivation”, which means instruction; on “civilizing”, which means to be accepted in society and to exert influence; and on man’s “moralization”, which means to make him opt for good ends which can be universally accepted. (17) Play is a repressive estheticized model of behaviour which produces a moral consciousness. Man can be free only within the boundaries established “solely by the rules of the world of play itself” – which is a phenomenon sui generis, the meaning of which and the rules of which do not depend on man, nor on social relations. Instead of man being free as a playing being, which involves the creation of new playing forms within the creation of a new world, he is submitted to the given normative mould of play. It is not about the nature of play and the nature of its rules, the emphasis is rather on a subjective moment: “play is played out of the very joy of playing”. Since for Kant play is a phenomenon sui generis, man does not play, but is in play: the “joy of playing” is not the joy of man as a playing being, but a peculiar quality of play. The true purpose of play lies in “uncertainty, uninhibitedness, in a free motion not determined by the conditions of the actual, real life, but solely by the rules of the world of play”. Play is not only opposed to work but is a given independent of the conditions of real life. Man is abolished as a social (historical) being, and play as a concrete social (historical) phenomenon. The abstract man becomes free in the abstract play. Kant’s “world of play” is analogous to Schiller’s “esthetic state”, the difference being in that Schiller’s world of play is attained through a developed esthetic being and romantic daydreaming. Hence, for him, the prototype of genuine play is not children’s play, as it is for Kant, but the play of an emancipated man who opts for play with his free will, guided by a developed esthetic being. If Kant’s conception is consistently followed, the authentic play of adults is not possible since, on the one hand, they, burdened by labour, have lost the ability of experiencing the joy of play and, on the other hand, the ruling forms of play arise from social reality and have, just like labour, a purposeful (instrumental) character.

Kangrga’s interpretation of Kant’s notion of “spontaneity”, which is the key notion for understanding play, is interesting. According to Kangrga, in Kant, the dominant idea is that of man’s self-creation through the production and appropriation of his own imminently human world according to the principles of spontaneity and freedom. Spontaneity = intelligence = freedom = practical mind – these are the basic postulates and relations in Kant’s philosophy. The spontaneity of reason – spontaneity as intelligence suggests man’s designed, transformed, cultivated nature. Spontaneity is not an act of nature, but of reason (intelligence). According to Kangrga, the notion of spontaneity in Kant is determined “from the horizon of the already man’s world, or better: the establishment of that world”. (18) Self-consciousness of human action is a historical act. The relation between freedom and nature (impulses) is conceived from one highest point, and it is the idea, that Self, freedom – which Kant sees in revolution. Kant’s ethics draws on the following concepts: duty, moral law, freedom, categorical imperative, morality … (19) Kant’s philosophy of freedom (spontaneity) is, in fact, the philosophy of duty, of learned and unquestionably accepted restraints. A revolution is to enable the abolishment of the selfwilledness of the aristocracy and elevate the moral law, which can save society from the “evil” human nature, to the level of a universal principle which applies to all citizens and is the essence of his “categorical imperative”. Kant does not depart from man as a social being oriented towards other both existentially and essentially, but from a (petit) bourgeois who is guided by greediness: private property is the basis of “socialization”. Hence Kant attaches such importance to the repressive normative mind: moral norms become a spider’s web in people’s heads, which is to curb egoism and prevent disintegration of society.

Kant does not depart from man’s “interior”, but from his intellect (reason). Intelligence is awareness of the necessity of accepting the repressive normative vault. The very knowledge of the good and the awareness of a need to do it induce man to perform good acts.  “Good” has an existential character, but it does not mean doing good acts departing from a free man and society as the community of free people, but from the ruling order. Kant’s “categorical imperative” does not inspire man to do good starting from his noble nature, it is meant to prevent him from doing evil. Kant does not argue for a world of free people, but seeks to build institutional barriers which will prevent the disintegration of the civil society based on private property. Kant’s subjectivism is an illusion. The nature of his “ought” (Sollen) is already determined by the nature of the ruling order, by what is: it constitutes his normative vault which is to protect him from disaster. The a priori of Kant’s moral philosophy is founded on the bourgeois society that cannot be questioned. Kant’s “categorical imperative” represents an attempt to “reconcile” man with the existing world at a formal-logical level and on the basis of the established dualism of “being” (Sein) and the “ought”. It is not the life principle of a free man, but of an atomized citizen who departs from his being by nature an “evil” being and feels that only unquestionable submission to an a priori normative order offers a possibility for the survival of society. Hence Kant’s pedagogy is not focused on man’s humanization but on his disciplining.

In spite of the fact that Kant emphasizes the active, subjective aspect of reality (Kangrga), his theory only apparently opens space for man as a playing subject. The development of play does not involve the development of man’s playing being (Eros, emotions, senses…) and interpersonal relations but of a repressive normative vault and the strengthening of the ruling order. Play is not an expression of man’s need of another man; it is not the development of interpersonal relations based on the principles of brotherhood and solidarity; in it there is no motion of man towards man… “Spontaneity” remains in the sphere of reason (awareness of a need of communal life), and not of the whole humanness, which means man’s unconditional and spontaneous need of another man. The tacit purpose of a “purposeless” play is “free” creation of the ruling relations and values, ultimately, the production of a loyal citizen and his pinning down to the existing world. The “spontaneity” does not reflect the (critical, change-aspiring) relation of man to the world, but an unquestionable acceptance of the existing world and the dominant rules. Play becomes a “spontaneous” way of the production of the world as an object by an objectivized and instrumentalized man. “Freedom” becomes an ideological and “spontaneity” a practical form of the establishment of the order of non-freedom.

Play, as a repressive normative vault, is that according to which the nature of the playing disposition is determined. It is not a product of an authentic (creative-libertarian) human nature, but is the highest form of “spontaneity”, which means the abstract transcendental subject which is the incarnation of the repressive normative vault and which becomes the carrier of play and the basis of its self-reflection. Transcendental Self replaces “God”, only this time it is not called “love” but “duty”. It is the incarnation of reason alienated from man, which appears in the form of the unquestionable ruling normative vault. The transcendental Self becomes the absolute and as such does away with the critical mind – which is not and cannot be humanly grounded. Hence the deduction from the a priori world of noumenon is the basic activity of thought. Revolution raises it to the pedestal of a universal principle that applies to all citizens, and becomes the unquestionable criterion for determining the human intention. By the very establishment of the transcendental Self the barriers of the “ought” are placed. The “humanization of nature” is not based on a respect for nature, but it is submitted (suppressed, mutilated…) to the normative model of a “citizen”. From it follows “disciplining” reduced to a physical drill which is different from animal training only in that it is “voluntarily” (reasonably) adopted. Doing “good”, which expresses the “common interest”, is of a repressive character because it is in opposition to the logic of everyday existence that induces man to treat others like enemies and because man is by his nature an “evil” being guided by greediness – which threatens the survival of society. Revolution appears as the act of a mind that will create a new (civil) order, and not a world of free people. It is not an expression and confirmation of man’s libertarian nature, it is the performance of his civil duty to abolish the order based on privileges and create a new institutional vault that will control his “evil” nature. Kant’s (revolutionary) “ought” deals with an order based on privileges, but also with aspirattions to realize the guiding principles of the French Revolution. Kant opts for (bourgeois) revolution, but not for man as a revolutionary. Revolutionary self-consciousness does not touch the original humanness: the shield of an egoistic (petit) bourgeois does not allow it to enter man’s being. In revolution, the citizen’s consciousness did not only win over the consciousness of the aristocracy, but also over the consciousness of man as a universal creative being of freedom who is capable of creating a world in his own image.

In Kant the esthetic and the ethical are given in unity, but they appear as a subjective principle. It is about a “taste” formed by the mind (intellect) and turned into a moral consciousness by means of which the selfish and aggressive (petit) bourgeois is “disciplined”. The “beautiful” turns into the “good” by way of a repressive normative consciousness and not by way of man’s humanization. Kant eliminates the possibility of a direct and spontaneous establishment of interpersonal relations, which proceed by way of a “moral consciousness” that becomes and ideological (self) consciousness of civil society and is based on the “awareness of one’s duties”. Kant’s “subjectivity” is a form in which appears the imposed normative pattern of a model citizen. It is not based on man’s authentic (self) consciousness, but is a transcendental “consciousness” by which a citizen must be guided in order for the society to survive. Moral (self) consciousness is a form depriving man of authentic humanity (moral being) and authentic self-consciousness, which means a critical, change-aspiring and a visionary consciousness. Kant affirms activism which appears as the creation of the world, and in that context the category of “possibility”, but his “ought” is but an abstract possibility of the creation of novum since it is a normative reflexion of the world in which man is deprived of his authentic subjectivity. In Kant there is only an apparent contradiction between “being” and the “ought”: the normative project is not the opening of a new human space and in that sense a struggle against the ruling order; it is the essence of the existing world turned into norms. His thought is not visionary, but positivistic: “ought” is not a normative projection of the future, but is an idealistic interpretation of the existing world.

Kant’s philosophy offers a formal possibility of the establishment and justification of a “moral” vault of sport which is expressed in fair-play. His “categorical imperative” shows on the example of sport its social conditioning and limitation: “the principle of universal law” in sport can be as follows “The stronger win, the weaker are eliminated!” It is the only possible principle – in order for sport to survive and for survival in sport. The alleged subjectivism (“the maxim of your own will …”) is but a form in which the ruling relations appear: it is not man’s free choice; it is the “free” choice of a “sportsman”. Man is not guided by moral principles that contain a visionary (utopian) or transcendental idea. What precedes conscious is a (positive) character – which occurs in living a life based on Social Darwinism and the absolutized principle of performance (profit) and on which the corresponding normative conscious is “spontaneously” built. In sport, there is neither civil duty nor human responsibility. It is dominated by the existential spirit of capitalism which does not tolerate any rational or moral constraints. That is why Coubertin glorifies the “passionate cry” of the winner and confronts the “meticulous rules” that can apply to “ordinary people”, but not to sportsmen who are the incarnation of the ruling order in its pure form. Sport is dominated by the “law of the stronger”, not by a moral judgment. Victory, achieved through a better result, is the only criterion according to which the “good” is assessed. According to the dominant evaluative criteria in capitalism, the “loser” occupies the lowest place on the social ladder. This term represents the nastiest insult which suggests that it is the existential logic of capitalism, and not humanist challenges, that creates the criteria for determining what is “good” and what is “bad”. In sport, sense experience is not transformed into a moral feeling; it is rather that the character of a “lazy animal” is transformed into the character of a super-beast through the principle of “greater effort” (Coubertin). It mutilates the senses that can receive only those impressions which cannot lead to the development of man’s esthetic or libertarian being. Sport is in itself a non-esthetic phenomenon and annihilation of man’s esthetic being. There are no esthetic (nor customary, moral, legal, religious) norms that can hinder “progress” based on Social Darwinism and progressism. In sport, the ideal of the right conduct is not evaluative grounded, but springs from a logic imposed by life itself, the logic reduced to a struggle for survival and such that is beyond good and evil, beautiful and ugly… The “pursuit of human perfection” is the point at which, at an ideological-propagandist level, the sports ethics and sports esthetics coincide.

If we are to attribute to a man that he is “bad” because of a “bad” act, what is necessary is not only that the man is aware of his having committed a bad act, but his intention of harming another man, as well as his wish and actual need to act in that way. In sport, there are no direct and spontaneous interpersonal relations; there is a relation between “players-opponents” conditioned by the spirit and rules of sport which is dominated by an instrumentalized violence as the incarnation not only of the institutional vault of the ruling order, but, above all, of the belligerent and progressistic spirit that rules the world and is of a destructive nature. Man becomes to man a means for satisfying inhuman “needs”, which are imposed on him by the governing evaluative vault (“victory” which will bring to a sportsman “fame” and money), and as such is a necessary evil (“opponent”). To injure the opponent is not an expression of man’s “aggressive nature” and the object of moral judgment; it is of a functional character and thus is a legitimate means for preventing the opponent from realizing his intention. At the same time, there is no intention of hurting the opponent, but of preventing him from carrying out his action. Since it is a colleague from the sports show-business who shares the same destiny and tomorrow may play in the same team, there is no wish, let alone a real need, to hurt the opponent player. In boxing, it often happens that people who are friends, or even close relatives, become unscrupulous rivals in the ring trying to beat their opponent by striking such blows that can cause serious physical (mental) injuries and death. Sport is a war waged by the bodies which have a depersonalized dimension. A blow hurting one’s opponent, and thus preventing him from realizing his intention, is not a blow struck upon a man, but upon a faceless “opponent”, who appears in the form of a body with the (“objective”) dimension of a training sack. At the same time, during the training, a sportsman treats his own body in the same way he treats the body of his opponent. Guided by the logic imposed by sport, man above all becomes his own opponent. A ruthless treatment of oneself is the basic way of acquiring the capacity and readiness to be ruthless to others; the mutilation of one’s own body is the basic presupposition of an aggressive relation to one’s opponent; to harm oneself is the basic presupposition of harming other people. Hence one of the most important tasks of sports pedagogy is to create a sado-masochistic character.

Fair-play is not a moral (self) consciousness; it is a technique of relation between “sportsmen” based on a functionalist principle: “good” is that which does not jeopardize playing, which means the ruling order and “progress” (citius, altius, fortius) on which the “perfectioning” of the world is based. Instead of protecting man from an inhuman order, an order that produces evil is being protected – the evil attributed to man’s “nature” in order to justify the repressive institutions which include play. Infliction of physical injuries and killings are legal and legitimate constituent parts of sport – if they are carried out according to the given rules. The norms of fair-play are not designed to eradicate the murderous violence, but are a control mechanism intended to stop man from acting in a way that can jeopardize “play”, which means the ruling order. It means that fair-play does not stop only evil, but also that non-violent behaviour which is opposed to the logic of sport as an institutionalized violence. A boxer, who does not strive to hit his opponent but only avoids being hit himself, will be reprimanded by the referee, and if he continues to behave in the same way, he will be disqualified. In most playing sports to avoid violence means to “sabotage play”, which results in the sportsman losing his place in the team. In football, the player who deliberately hurts the opponent gains most recognition if it prevented a kick of the opponent towards the goal. What can we say of rugby, hockey and other “bloody” sports in which the infliction of physical injuries represents the most important part of “play”? It is obvious that “anthropological” demand conceals an existential imperative. To injure or kill the “opponent” does not express man’s need to hurt or kill, but is a necessary means for achieving victory, which means it is imposed by sport as an institution. The most important task of a coach is not to subdue the “aggressiveness” of his players, but to make them “attack” the opponents by threatening them with punishments, with losing their place in the team and with abuses which question their “masculinity”, which means that everything is at the ruling existential and evaluative level. What is important in a sports spectacle are not human motives, but the effect produced by a sports contest, meaning that the crowd is to experience the fight as authentic – and gain the impression that there exist consciousness, intention, desire and a genuine need to “crush” one’s opponent. The increasingly bloody sports spectacles are not only a compensation for an increasingly bloody life, but are meant to create the impression that people are by nature “evil” and that only repressive institutions of the capitalist order can protect society from “human aggression”. And finally, if people are “by nature aggressive” and if it is the “source of all evil”, why is the “civilized world” organizing increasingly bloody sports contests as public manifestations and in a spectacular form, thereby glorifying violence?

Fair-play is a “moral” mask of an immoral world based on the principles “Destroy the competition!” and “Money does not stink!”. It is not a moral code based on the observance of universal human values, but is a technical code based on the principles that make the essence of sport (capitalism) and involve the mutilation of one’s own body, infliction of serious physical injuries and killings, monstrous abuse of children, institutional degradation of women to “lower beings”, destruction of cultural (self) consciousness and man’s libertarian dignity, creation of hordes of modern barbarians… Fair-play is not an appeal to a moral conduct and sanctioning of violence; it is but a mask meant to obtain a “humanistic” legitimacy for the principle “might is right”, which on stadiums is being realized in the form of a spectacular destruction of humanity. In that context, boxing is referred to as a “noble art”. It is the highest form of hypocrisy of the thought which is found in ideologues of capitalism: if sport is by its nature “noble”, why are then noble feelings not developed in people, but the spirit of intolerance, which makes it a bastion of belligerent fanaticism? As far as the demand for a “fair fight” is concerned, it indicates that unquestioning observation of the rules on which the capitalist world is based must be above personal and group interests. It is also the basis of a “depolitization” of sport and the Olympic Games: sport (Olympic Games) must not be in the service of temporary individual or group political and material interests if its significance as a strategic political means for preserving the ruling order is not to be questioned. This is the role of “international sports associations”, headed by IOC, and this is on which their indisputable arbitrary role is based.

It is interesting that for bourgeois theorists war, just as the gladiators’ fights and “knight tournaments”, falls into the category of “sport competition”, and sport in play: sport becomes an instrument giving war a playing character. It is no accident that the principle of “chivalry”, which is a “romantic” mask by which the bloodthirsty medieval noblemen obtained an angelic look, has become the most important way of giving a “cultural” legitimacy to sports competitions. It is based on the right to kill, which means a capacity and readiness for murder: man’s right to life is submitted to the right of the order to survival. People are not brothers guided by humanity and love of freedom; they are rivals guided by ambition and pursuit of fame. Chivalrous ideals are becoming the means for crushing the guiding ideas of the French Revolution, without which there is no modern humanism, and represent the “avoidance” of democratic institutions created in the civil society and the establishment of a direct domination of the capitalist order over people.

In the contemporary professional sport, which has become part of the entertainment industry, there has been established a specific “sports ethics”. Instead of the fair play of a gentleman who is guided by “chivalrous manners”, we are dealing with professional ethics. Sportsmen approach training and matches in the same way – as a serious business. Play becomes labour. Therefore in “true professionals” there are relatively small oscillations in play. Whether they lose of win, they continue to run and play with “full steam” right through the end. We have come to an apparently paradoxical conclusion that professionals “work off their play”. Hence hardworking, discipline in performing the task, tenacity, seriousness, reliability are the characteristics which are far more appropriate for a “true professional” than spontaneity, imagination, liveliness, unpredictability, individuality… Unlike a worker, a sportsman does not temporarily let only his working ability, but sells his body and his personality. He is not only a working force, but is a working instrument and the object of work. At the same time, he is a moving advertising agent both for the club and for the sponsors, which conditions not only his behaviour on the field but also in life. An indisputable loyalty to the masters and the established order is the basic condition of survival in the sports show-business. With the fight for profit becoming increasingly tougher, the main challenge for a sportsman ceases to be his effort and the quality of the opponent, and becomes the extent to which he is to take risks, which means, how much he is to jeopardize his health and life – in order to achieve victory and record. A sportsman acquires the status of an entertaining commodity on the market of sports show-business and becomes a tool for one use only. From an injured player one does not expect a human reaction, to cry or call for help, but to behave like a robot that has discharged his duty and can be thrown on the dump of “consumer society”. Readiness to self-destruction becomes the main feature of a “good” sportsman. It is no longer a working ethics, but a (self) destructive fanaticism.

Sport and Enlightenment


As far as the Enlightenment is concerned, sport discards the faith in reason and the pedagogy which departs from man as a reasonable being. It insists on a muscular body and a belligerent character, which is expressed in Coubertin’s maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso. It is a Social Darwinist basis for the “will to power”, its “anthropological” foundation being in greediness. Sport, just as the bourgeois physical culture which abandoned the emancipatory traces of the Enlightenment (on which the philanthropic and dancing movements were based), is dominated by a technical-productivistic rationality: the body is reduced to a machine, and movement to the mechanics of movement. The perfect functionality of a machine, which means that the body becomes an instrument for producing performance in a pure sense, becomes the highest esthetic challenge. Sport does not represent the realization of the emancipatory legacy of the Enlightenment, but one of the most fatal tendencies in the development of the Enlightenment thought, which was pointed out by Horkheimer and Adorno: “the transformation of the Enlightenment into positivism”. (9) It is precisely Horkheimer (Adorno) who insists on the criticism of the absolutized principle of quantitatively measurable performance prevalent in sport: “What is not given to the measurement of calculability and usability is suspicious to the Enlightenment” – “the number has become the canon of the Enlightenment”. (10) And he continues: “Bourgeois society is ruled by equivalence. It makes the dissimilar comparable by reducing it to abstract quantities. To the Enlightenment, that which does not reduce to numbers, and ultimately to the one, becomes illusion; modern positivism writes it off as literature. Unity is the slogan from Parmenides to Russell. The destruction of gods and qualities alike is insisted upon.” (11) In sport, there is no dialectical confrontation between good and evil, freedom and slavery, old and new… Quantitative shifts without qualitative leaps become an expression and a measure of “progress”, which creates and illusion that capitalism is capable of “moving forward” forever at the expense of the destruction of man and nature. In sport, there is no “cultural time” (Bloch), which means there is no historical movement; it is dominated by a mechanicistic time with a mythological aura (“immortal spirit of antiquity”). The “history of sport” is reduced to a linear sequence of figures to which the names of impersonalized champions are attached. Sport represents the means for creating the cult of capitalist “progress”: quantitative comparison becomes a superhuman force to which man is fatally submitted. Sport most convincingly confirms Horkheimer and Adorno’s conclusion from the “Dialectic of Enlightenment” that “the curse of a constant progress is a constant regression”. (12) At the same time, there is a “reflexion on the destructiveness of progress” (13) and on the “renouncement of all hope”. (14) Sport is based on technological rationalism which is a manifest form of the destructive capitalist irrationalism. The absolutized principle of performance, expressed in the record as the market value of result and thus the end in itself, represents a manifest form of capitalist reproduction, based on the absolutized principle of increasing the profit: the speed of the reproduction of capital is the power dictating the rhythm of social events and conditioning the dramatics of human life. At the same time, in sport there is no will for creating a world based on reason and freedom – the most important emancipatory intention of the German classical philosophy; it is dominated by physical strength, speed, stamina, as well as a ruthless (destructive) belligerent character. Capitalist degeneration of the emancipatory physical culture corresponds to the degeneration of the emancipatory spirit of the Enlightenment. From a world founded on reason, we have come to a world founded on the number.

Sport and Christianity


What does Horkheimer’s claim that sport is based on Christianity mean? According to the Christian doctrine, “God” created man from dust and inspired him with life in the form of soul. The purpose of the earthly life is to liberate the soul from the “bodily prison” in order for it to “soar to eternity”. This corresponds to the conception that the true movement is not that of the body through physical time and space but the movement of the spirit through a timeless and limitless space. For Plato, the body is the “prison (grave) of the soul”. According to St. Augustine, “God orders the spirit, and spirit orders the body”: physical movement is the expression of spiritual movement. Thomas Aquinas thinks that man should try to “conserve his health” and “preserve body in a good condition”. This is close to the principle “take care about the body, but do not create the cult of the body” (cura del corpo si, culto del corpo no) which, in the eve of modern times, was established by the Catholic Church as the expression of its inability to oppose new tendencies in the development of the world. Philanthropists turned upside down the original Christian dogma. Guided by the maxim “Fresh, Pious, Free!” (“Frisch, Fromm, Frei!”), they do not see the body as the “prison of the soul”, but as the “temple of the holy spirit” (Pestalozzi). As far as “Christian reformers” are concerned – such as Kingsley and Maurice, Pope Leo XIII, protestant pastor James Naismith (“creator” of basketball), Pennsylvanian bishop Talbot (who said the words: “It is important to take part in the Olympic Games, not to win!” – which will be ascribed to Coubertin), abbot Didon (from whom Coubertin took over the maxim citius, altius, fortius) – they regard sport as a means for depolitization of “masses” and sports organizations as a collaborator in the struggle against the libertarian working movement. In sport, the soul is abolished, and thus the bond between man and God, while the body becomes an organic and symbolic, unbreakable bond between man and the existing world. Unlike Nietzsche, who, in opposition to Christian “despisers of the body”, sees in it the origin and the basic condition of man’s “self propriety”, in sport, the body is a means for abolishing man’s self propriety and his complete incorporation into the existing world. Thomas Arnold turned sport into an instrument for creating the cult of a “muscular” body and a character suited to the nature of capitalist society, but planted on it Christian moralism (“muscular Christians”). Modern Olympism, which is most completely shaped in Coubertin’s writings, discarded the normative sphere and became a cult of the existing world in the pure sense of that word: sport is the crown of the positivist thought, which strives to pin man down to the existing world.

According to the Christian doctrine, men are not “rivals”, but “brothers”. Hence it is dominated by the principle of “love thy brother”, which implies a movement of one man towards another – which is the movement of man towards “God” as true humanity – instead of the movement of man against man, as it is the case in sport, which involves the infliction of serious physical injuries and killing. According to the Olympic doctrine, man is not “a being created by God in his own image”, but is a “lazy animal” (Coubertin) in which, through an unrestrained fight for domination and the principle of “greater effort”, a fighting spirit is to be developed and thus a super-beast. In Christianity, the prevailing idea is that of transcendence, expressed in “God”, while in sport it is the positivist cult by means of which the existing world is to be divinized: sport represents the culmination of “modern” paganism. Christianity strives for the higher; sport strives for the bigger: it divinizes “progress” dominated by the absolutized principle of performance. Unlike sport, Christianity established the fight between good, manifested in “God”, and evil, manifested in the “devil”. The cross symbolizes a crossroad: it is up to man whether he will choose the “road of good”, or the “road of evil”. Unlike the Christian “paradise”, where the prevalent values are contrary to the existing world and offer an opportunity for establishing a critical (not change-oriented) relation to it, sport is a projection of the dominant relations and values and as such is the abolishment of a critical distance to the world and man’s immersion into that world. Instead of an illusory “world of happiness” which, if one lives the life of a humble Christian, awaits man after death, a play is offered as the “oasis of happiness” and thus an “earthly paradise”. In sport, the Christian “meekness” is discarded: the cult of a muscular body and a belligerent character serves to create the cult of thisworldy life: eternity is transferred from “Heaven” to earth. Nothing remains of “muscular Christians” but their muscles and an insatiable greediness which becomes the driving force of “progress”.

Instead of the Christian modesty and humbleness, sport is dominated by the spirit of aggressive elitism and haughtiness; instead of the spirit of the submissive – the spirit of the masters; instead of asceticism – greediness; instead of the cult of the spirit – the cult of the muscular body; instead of strivings for the “other world” – divinization of the existing world; instead of sin and redemption – the abolishment of moral reasoning and responsibility; instead of the Christian “Goodman” – a sportsman, a robotized gladiator, becomes the incarnation of a positive man; instead of the Christian depersonalized soul – a depersonalized (robotized) body… The dominant principles in sport are the following: homo homini lupus est and bellum omnium contra omnes, mens sana in corpore sano, mens fervida in corpore lacertoso, citius-altius-fortius – which are opposed to Christianity and founded in an order based on private property and atomized (petit) bourgeois. In spite of insisting on private property as a “holy” institution, the church is based on collective property and collectivistic spirit, which resembles (only formally) the communist principle “everyone according to abilities, to everyone according to his needs” (Marx). It is not the “faith in God” but the collective property which is the integrative power preventing the disintegration of the church, which would undoubtedly occur if, within the church, the “holy” private property were to become the dominant form of ownership.

The establishment of a rigid dualism of the body and spirit, the body being subordinated to the spirit, is one of the most important common points of sport and Christianity. In this context, both ideologies instrumentalize the body and regard is as a means for realizing “higher” ends. While in Christianity the body is a tool for the realization of “God’s will”, in sport, it is reduced to the means for realizing “progress” which comes down to the realization of strategic interests of the ruling order. In sport, the relation to the human body is close to that which Descartes shaped in his mechanicistic philosophy of the bodily, although here it is mediated by the absolutized principle of performance which conditions the development of a (sado) masochistic character. Unlike the Christian meditative activism which insists on asceticism and leads to the restraint and dying out of physical functions (kneeling is the most authentic Christian bodily posture), sports activism (based on the absolutized principle of “greater effort” corresponded by the maxime citius, altius, fortius) leads to a limitless intensifying of physical exertion, and thus to suppression, degeneration and destruction of spirituality – the basis of religion, which means of the very possibility of “reaching God” – and turns man into a pure matter having a mechanicistic form. A spiritless and instrumentalized man, reduced to a “sportsman”, becomes a manifest form of capitalist nothingness.

Max Horkheimer: Sport as the “Continuity of Cultural Tradition”


In his study on the importance of sport in modern society, written in the 1960s, Max Horkheimer comes to the conclusion that “sports rules and sports mentality” – “are a modern expression of great cultural traditions of the past, Christianity, as well as the Age of Enlightenment in France and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Without this sports spirit the survival of a fair and peaceful competition between nations could not be imagined”. Claiming that sport is an “expression of freedom”, Horkheimer concludes that “in our modern civilization, which is threatened from all sides and which experiences the disintegration of the family and other sources of culture”, sport has become “a kind of a separate world, society within society, where we can place our hopes”. (2) While in Bloch we can find a positivist determination of sport which becomes an evaluative neutral phenomenon, whose concrete nature is determined by the nature of the political movement which uses it for realizing its own ends, (3) in Horkheimer sport becomes a symbolic incarnation of liberty, imagination, the creative, and thus obtains a place alongside art, philosophy, literature, as well as other “sources of productive imagination”. (4) How could Horkheimer, after all he had written, come to such conclusions? It is precisely Horkheimer, together with Adorno, whose views offered the possibilities of a radical criticism of sport. In the “Dialectic of Enlightenment” we can find the following thought: “Even the fact that hygienic factory premises, Volkswagen and the sports palaces stupidly liquidate metaphysics would be irrelevant; it is not, however, irrelevant that these things themselves in the social whole turn into metaphysics, into an ideological curtain behind which real evil is concentrated.” (5) Speaking of the nature of “Western democracy”, Horkheimer and Adorno say: “No one can officially be responsible for one’s thoughts. But, that is why everybody is from an early age included in the system of churches, clubs, professional associations and other relations which are the most sensitive instruments of social control.” (6)

Horkheimer does not strive to establish the nature of sport as a concrete historical phenomenon, but departs from an ideological picture of sport, created by the bourgeois theory, according to which sport is a phenomenon sui generis and as such an unquestionable pillar of the “humanistic” vault of capitalism. Why did Horkheimer give sport such a dimension? Is it because sport has become a global phenomenon and acquired such popularity? His insisting on sport as a “peaceful competition” between nations would suggest something like that. Horkheimer regards the contests between nations on the sports field as the ideal of a “fair and peaceful cooperation”, without asking why nations should compete on the sports field in ever bloodier fights of modern gladiators which generates a nationalistic fury (pseudo-collectivistic conscious), instead of cooperating by way of spiritual means based on the wealth of national cultures? Here it should be noted that, for Coubertin and Nazi ideologues of sport, the most important feature of sport is that it deals with the pacifist conscious of young people and represents a preparation for colonial exploits and war. Horkheimer can be asked other questions as well. How come that capitalism has such a destructive influence on all social institutions while sport remains outside its scope of influence? By reducing sport to a phenomenon sui generis, Horkheimer rejected the possibility of analyzing the development of sport as the most representative ideology of capitalism which shares its destiny.

Bearing in mind the nature of sport as a concrete social phenomenon, we can conclude that in his relation to sport Horkheimer was not guided by a (critical) mind, but by the strivings to confront the devastation of cultural heritage. Obviously, Horkheimer strives to elevate sport to the level of a symbolic phenomenon by which the emancipatory achievements of modern society that are less and less present in other spheres can be preserved. If Horkheimer’s theory were true, sports stadiums and halls would be cultural temples and sportsmen would be the cultural elite of mankind. In fact, stadiums and sports palaces have become bonfires burning the cultural heritage of mankind, and sportsmen have become gladiators, circus players and stuntmen. To make things even more ironic, the main participants, and thus the bearers of the “cultural heritage of mankind”, are the least educated layers of the poor, primarily the children from black ghettoes in the USA and Africa, who in the “civilized (Western) world” have the status of a “lower race”. Horkheimer does not realize that sport destroys national cultures and creates uniformity in terms of physical “qualities”, while Social Darwinism and the absolutized principle of a quantitatively measurable result (expressed in the maxim citius, altius, fortius) become the basis for man’s “self-assertion” and the establishment of “interpersonal” relations. Likewise, it is hard to understand that Horkheimer does not mind the killing and the infliction of serious injuries in sport being legalized; he does not mind the institutional segregation according to the gender and degradation of women to “lower beings”; the fact that “work with children” is not restricted and that children are exposed to excessive physical strain and humiliations; that specialization starts at an increasingly early age and comes down to physical, mental and social mutilation of children; that in sport, the selling of people is “normal”, etc.

Morgan’s interpretation of Horkheimer (7) suggests that for Horkheimer sport represents a compensation for what man has been deprived of in technicized labour. Hence he rejects Plessner’s and Habermas’s theory, according to which sport is the “duplication of the world of labour”, and regards sport as a separate world with the rules of its own. Horkheimer does not struggle for a new world and, in that context, against the causes leading to the destruction of the cultural heritage of mankind, but tries to use sport, as a condensed expression of the basic principle of capitalism, for saving the cultural heritage of mankind – from capitalism itself.

Interestingly, Horkheimer wrote this text at the time when sport was becoming the chief weapon in the “cold war” confrontation; when Afro-Americans, as the racial group in the USA most deprived of its rights and poorest, were becoming the “drawing power” in the American sport; when the legendary champion for human rights of Afro-Americans, Martin Luther King, called “black” sportsmen “black gladiators of the XX century”, who are the “shame for the black race” as they allowed white racists to use them in order to cover up the humiliating position of Afro-American population in the USA.

About ten years after the publication of the cited text, in an interview with Helmut Guminior, published under the title “Longing for something completely different” (“Die Sehnsucht nach dem ganz Anderen”), Horkheimer says that “the end of serious philosophy is nearing” and that there is a danger of human society being reduced to “a colony of ants”.(8) Bearing in mind the key theses from his “Dialectic of Enlightenment” and “Critical Theory”, it is difficult to understand that Horkheimer does not see the link between the development of mass sport and mass sports spectacles and the destruction of mind, and that he does not realize that from its very beginning sport has been a means for destroying reason, Eros, imagination, which means a creative personality, and for creating a loyal and usable subject.

Sport and Culture


In the philosophy of play it is generally agreed that play is one of the most important pillars of culture. The analysis of concrete views on play indicates that no difference is made between culture and civilization. More precisely, the discussion on play comes down to a delusory rhetoric which, through humanistic phrases, is to give “cultural” legitimacy to the phenomena which are essentially anticultural. Hence it is no surprise that the philosophy of play attaches great importance to sport as a specific play in which the “cultural heritage of mankind has been preserved”. Accordingly, stadiums and sports halls become the temples of “culture”, and sportsmen the “bearers of the highest cultural values”. As sport, through its politization and commercialization, becomes more and more anticultural, so do the masters of sport more and more aggressively seek to disguise sports spectacles in the veil of “culture” and thus prove that sport, as a symbolic expression of the basic principles of capitalism, belongs to the “highest cultural achievements”. The “cultural programme”, which regularly follows the opening of the Olympic Games – in which enormous sums of money are invested and the most modern technique is used – is nothing else but a “grandiose” expression of a megalomaniac primitivism of their organizers designed to blind man and destroy his visionary mind. Today’s sport has fully realized the endeavours of the ruling order, ever more dominant in other social areas, to create a surrogate of “culture” by which the emancipatory heritage of civil society and man’s libertarian dignity will be destroyed. Man’s becoming a “cultural being” comes down to his cooperation in crushing man’s authentic human needs and capacities. As a result of the ever more ruthless economic war, the capital not only strives to reduce culture to its advertising programme, but to submit man’s conscious, his behaviour, interpersonal relations, practically the entire social life, to his own interests. It is about the creation of a surrogate life corresponded by a “consumer culture of living”, a “new” form of paganism reduced to the glorification of the existing world. Sport becomes a spectacular form of worshipping a surrogate life. Unlike other areas which “cover” the so called “free time”, such as music, theatre and other segments of what is referred to as the “cultural sphere”, offering possibilities of a critical confrontation with the existing world and the creation of the idea of a better (humane) world, sport as an institution is the ideological expression of the existing world and thus crushes the idea of future. The philosophical basis of sport is positivism, which, as shown in Marcuse, beginning with Auguste Comte, has led to fascism. On these authoritarian spiritual and political grounds a sports movement developed. Sport is not an expression of the cultural (emancipatory) heritage of modern society; it is an authentic expression of a life based on Social Darwinism and progressism, and thus is the most important tool for the creation of a “new man”, whose advent symbolically suggests the end of the “old” and the beginning of a “positive world” in which the cultural heritage of mankind is abolished. At the same time, sport destroys the traditional forms of physical culture. It can be illustrated on the example of karate and other martial arts of feudal Japan, which are, reduced to “sports competition”, deprived of the cultural (religious) essence and have become a capitalistically degenerated (decultivated/denaturalized) contest. Interestingly, the views of leading theoreticians of “real socialism” on sport are almost identical to the views of bourgeois theoreticians. Matveev’s conclusion is typical in that respect: “Sport historically appears, most probably, as one of the oldest components of the general human culture.” (1)

Sport has become one of the most important means for destroying culture. It is given an ever larger space in media at the expense of culture: sports spectacles have become the most important “spiritual food” for the “masses”. The proportion of payments received by teachers and sportsmen respectively most obviously shows the tendency of development of the contemporary world. In the beginning of 1970s in Yugoslavia, teachers in secondary schools received approximately equal payments as the leading basketball players. By the end of the XX century, the most popular basketball players received 1 million Deutsch marks per season, while teachers received 250 Deutsch marks per month. A similar proportion can be found as regards teachers and sportsmen in sports which make the core of sports show-business, established both in Europe and the USA. It is no accident that in the USA almost one hundred million citizens are illiterate, while in England, the cradle of capitalism, over 25% of citizens cannot use the English script.

A direct link between the development of sports show-business and decline in the cultural level of citizens in developed capitalist countries can be proved statistically. It is of utmost importance for the political structuring of society as well as for the overall social development, since decultivation of citizens, especially the working population which is ever more deprived of their rights, has become the most important way of their depolitization. The creation of massive idiocy is a strategic landmark of the bourgeoisie in its hopeless strivings to prevent the disintegration of capitalism. This is why sport has a paramount political importance.

The Cult of the Existing World


Sport is the cult of capitalism. In his Olympic writings Coubertin writes of Olympism as the “cult of the existing world” which appears under the ideological veil of the “cult of humanism”. The starting point for establishing sport as the cult of the existing world, however, is not humanism, but Social Darwinism and positivism. Sport is the reaction of the bourgeoisie to the guiding ideas of the French Revolution, the emancipatory legacy of the civil society and the ideal of future which becomes the landmark of a political movement striving to overcome capitalism. It is a form in which the bourgeoisie, which came to power on the wave of bourgeois revolutions, performed a spiritual counterrevolution. Instead of of “Freedom”, “Equality” and “Brotherhood”, the principle of “progress”, reduced to the “development” and “perfectioning” of capitalism, becomes the supreme political principle; instead of a struggle to realize basic human and civil rights, there exists a conflict between nations and races and colonial expansion ; instead of a respect for cultural tradition, sport is used for destruction of nations’ spiritual heritage and thus their libertarian dignity… Sport becomes the most important “mondialist” ideology and stadium the most important “cultural” venue of the capitalist world.

Unlike the religious cults based on transcendental values, sport is a positivist cult reduced to the divination of the existing world. The prevailing symbolism in the stadiums expresses the prevailing spirit of the existing world and represents a means for integrating people into the ruling order. Not war, but life based on Social Darwinism and progressism is the source of sport. Instead of traditional religions, Olympism becomes the highest (positive) religion appropriate to the spirit of the modern world: the spirit of Olympism is the spirit of capitalism. Unlike traditional religions, sport is not an attempt to make life meaningful; it is a shock-therapy meant to alleviate the ever bigger sufferings caused by the everyday meaningless and ever bloodier life. It crushes the critical visionary mind, the idea of future and man as a living (biological) being. The “creation of future” in sport is based on the positivistic maxim “to know in order to predict, to predict in order to act” (savoir pour prevoir, prevoir pour agir). A fight between people is possible, according to the rules which are the embodiment of the ruling spirit, but not for the purpose of changing the established order. In it, there is no fight between the good and the evil, which means that the basic humanistic principle is excluded from sport, the principle without which there is no civilization. Sport is the most authentic anticipation of a capitalist “future”.

Sport is an eroticized cult of the existing world. Deerotization of man and relations between people (genders) is accompanied by an erotisation of the relation to sport and sport persons as a symbolic incarnation of the ruling spirit. The Olympic spectacle, by its aggressive choreography, represents a peculiar love foreplay in which the senses are stirred and man is kept in the state of erotic arousal. The modern Olympic Games become a supreme ritual of man’s submission to the ruling spirit, similarly to the ancient Olympic Games, at which man surrendered himself to the Olympic godsthe difference being in that now we are dealing with a deerotization of the ancient physical culture through progressivism, which involves quantification and industrial mimesis. Since the most important task of the sports pedagogy is to fully incorporate man into the existing world, it is also dominated by an appeal for harmony which is the “sister of order” (Coubertin). At the same time, great importance is attached to the rhythm as “progress” has a dynamic character. It symbolizes the throbbing of the living pulse of capitalism and a never ending renewal of its life-creating force which appears as a fatal power.

Sport has become the most important political weapon of the class domination by which the bourgeoisie destroys the class conscious of the working people, critical mind, libertarian dignity, depolitizes the oppressed, achieves “national integration”… In contrast to the earlier games, which expressed the spirit of the ruling order and had a class exclusivity, sport is a “supraclass” game which expresses the progressistic capitalist universalism by means of which the bourgeoisie draws into its spiritual orbit not only workers, but women and members of “lower races” as well. It serves to “overcome” class antagonism (“sport has nothing to do with politics”), achieves “class reconciliation” and thus “social peace”. For the ruling class, sport is an “ideological political cudgel” (Hoch) which destroys the critical mind and workers’ drive for changes. It is a vent releasing the discontent of the oppressed and preventing the creation of an organized political movement that can jeopardize the ruling order. The conflict between classes is transferred from the political (social) sphere to stadiums, the war waged in sport being the embodiment of the capitalist way of life. When a man gives vent to his discontent on a stadium, he does that in a way which does not question the existing order, but reproduces it. Sport is a capitalist ideology which “levels off” class differences based on the ruling principles of capitalism. To win! – that is the existential imperative both for those who are at the bottom and for those who sit in “blue loges”. Capitalism does not leave anybody alone. The existential uncertainty is Damocles’ sword hovering over everybody’s head. Trying to escape from the bottom and struggling not to come to the bottom – this is what makes the rich and the poor “get closer”. “Enjoying” wealth means letting off the fear of poverty. Sport repeatedly produces the awareness of an unavoidable world based on the Social Darwinist principle “The stronger win, the weaker are eliminated!” (Coubertin). It provokes a conflict between people (nations, races and genders) thus producing the existing world of injustice. Sport serves to provide the oppressed with “opponents” in the form of an “opponent team” and “opponent supporters” so that they can vent their anger at them because of their humiliating position. It absorbs the increasing discontent of the oppressed working people and their children – whose future is being destroyed. Capitalism produces an unhappy and mutilated man, and at the same time creates ever bloodier compensatory mechanisms and a need for them – which is attributed to the “evil” human nature. Sport clearly shows the truth that politics is an art of directing the discontent of the oppressed towards the realization of inhuman ends. That is why in sport everything is allowed: murder, serious physical injuries, verbal abuses… “Victory” on a sports field is the defeat of humanity.

Sports spectacles have become the chief and cheapest spiritual food for those deprived of their rights. To drive the oppressed into stadiums and sports centres has become the most important political task of the ruling regimes. Hence everything is being done to enable their regular occurrence. Those who adopt laws prescribing long-term imprisonment for children who run into the field during a game, are the main promoters of sport, which is an institutionalized violence with a spectacular dimension; those who struggle to “abolish” capital punishment as a “non-civilized” measure are the chief organizers of the ever bloodier sports spectacles in which premeditated and accidental murders as well as the infliction of serious physical injuries are legalized; the European legislation in no way tries to stop a monstrous abuse of increasingly younger children and their turning into sports slaves; the duration and intensity of trainings are not limited; the selling of players by clubs is legalized; segregation according to the gender has been institutionalized; the use of dope is elevated to the level of the state policy – hiding the interests of multinational concerns and ruling political clans; “physical culture” has been expelled from schools and “sports education” has been introduced in which, instead of cultural conscious and tolerance, prevail physical strength and the spirit of ruthless rivalry; young people deprived of their rights acquire the status of “hooligans” and thus of social outcasts; instead of pedagogical measures for preventing the violent behaviour of young people and creating the conditions for changing their ever harder social position, we are facing an increasingly brutal police oppression… All those things that express the existential spirit of capitalism – murder, physical injuries, destruction of humanity – acquire in sports fields a spectacular dimension. The principle “Victory at all costs!”, which corresponds to the principle “Profit at all costs!” – becomes a supreme and unquestionable sports principle.

Officially, “sport has nothing to do with politics” but, in fact, it is a universal political instrument of the world rulers in their attempt to preserve capitalism. “Sportivization” has become the most important ideological form of the capitalist totalizing of the world, while stadium has become the most important cult venue of the contemporary world – where to the ruling spirit a critical and change-oriented mind is sacrificed. Sport, as the chief “mondialist” religion, becomes a means for destroying traditional religions, cultural heritage of peoples and political ideas and movements which oppose the “new world order”, which means a destructive (ecocide) capitalist totalitarism. Coubertin does not hide that the chief task of IOC is to create, through sport, a global positive one-mindedness. The establishment of a total and unquestionable unique (capitalist) worldview has become the leading political principle. In the world, there are thousands and thousands of sports manifestations every day; the sports commentaries from the sports fields are given the prime time in the news and cover most of the space in public media; “sports” TV channels broadcast sports programme non-stop; sport is becoming the chief advertising billboard in an increasingly ruthless economic war and the most important political platform; sports paganism becomes a means of Christian churches (and other leading religious communities) for courting the “masses”; the ruling “esthetic model” becomes the sports body; everyday language takes over sports terminology, especially the political language and that of business; politicians and capitalists place primary importance to their sports biographies, the photos of them are taken while engaged in a sports activity, they strive to attain a “sporting  image” which is meant to demonstrate their “victorious spirit”; sport becomes the chief means for “money laundering”, meaning a mafia business of utmost importance; coaches acquire the status of supreme managers of capitalism; sportsmen become moving billboards, while stadiums, sports and betting places become the temples of capitalism.

The role of a journalist is to give a “spectacular” dimension to the increasingly cruel sports reality. There is not a critical detachment from the aspect of morality, social interest or any other norms apart from sport. Sports commentators glorify violence and destruction and in a perfidious way encourage conflicts between the oppressed, which appear in the form of supporters, between nations, genders and races. They seek to establish a direct contact between sports spectacles and subconscious: a sports spectacle is meant to “draw” discontent from the oppressed and direct it towards the “opponent”. Sports articles are of an increasingly primitive character: they correspond to the sport which destroys the power of reasoning and creates a massive idiocy. The ever more aggressive sensationalism is a commercial form of ever more meaningless texts which give a “fatal” dimension to marginal phenomena and a marginal dimension to the crucial issues for humanity. Writing on the nature of modern capitalism Marcuse concludes: „The non-functioning of television and the allied media might thus begin to achieve what the inherent contradictions of capitalism did not achieve – the disintegration of the system. The creation of repressive needs has long since become part of socially necessary labour – necessary in the sense that without it, the established mode of production could not be sustained. Neither problems of psychology nor of aesthetics are at stake, but the material base of domination.“ (5) Capitalism creates not only repressive, but also (self) destructive needs. Suicidal “feats” become the biggest “test of courage” and are thus a form of dragging people away from the field of (political) fight for the realization of their human rights and the survival of the world. The same applies to boxing and other bloody spectacles. Instead of directing their dissatisfaction to the abolishment of the world of misery, people direct it to bloody clashes with other people. Sport is the most important instrument of capitalism for degenerating man. It destroys not only the body, but also the critical change-oriented (visionary) conscious and produces (self-destructive) fanaticism. By way of sport man is held outside historical space where the governing values are conserved – which is the essence of the view that sport is a phenomenon sui generis and “has nothing to do with politics”. Instead of changing the ruling order which increasingly generates evil, the order changes man by destroying in him everything that makes him human and can become the basis for the development of a critical mind and changing practice. The emancipatory legacy of civil society has been discarded and “new” fascism is being established which is the incarnation of the ecocide spirit of contemporary capitalism. By becoming the order of destruction in a pure sense (“consumer society”), capitalism cast away its “humanistic” and “progressive” mask. Sport is no longer used for preserving the faith in the “eternal values of capitalism”, the critical change-oriented mind is being destroyed which, above all, means the confidence that a free and righteous world is possible. Manipulation shifts from the ideological sphere to the psychological one: stadium becomes a psychotherapeutic institution. Instead of the cult of victory and records, the dominant cult is that of a spectacle which is the main spiritual drug by means of which the ruling oligarchy holds “masses” under control; instead of becoming “contestants” and “recorders”, sportsmen become circus players, gladiators and stuntmen.

Just as the true picture of war are not military parades, but killed and mutilated people, desperate mothers, burned houses and fields, starving children dying in mud – so the true picture of sport are not smiling faces of sportsmen at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, but their degenerated bodies, ruined health, destroyed youth, life without a future… A man deprived of rights, abused, defeated and destroyed – that is the true picture of war and sport alike.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Body as “Being-in-the World”


We can agree with Merleau-Ponty’s claim that to experience the world by way of the body is the original and basic mode of “being-in-the world” and of man’s relation to the world. However, in Merleau-Ponty, “being-in-the world” has an objectivistic, that is to say an abstract, character. He departs from the body as the given and overlooks that “being-in-the world” is not an autonomous process, which means that man does not experience his body directly, but through the concrete totality of his own epoch and the prevailing ideological “model” of the body, that is to say as a concrete human (social) being. The human body is not a natural datum and as such a phenomenon sui generis, it is a historical product. Not only is the relation to the body today essentially different in comparison to the ancient and Christian civilizations, but we deal with an essentially different body. Each civilization creates a specific body and a specific relation to it – and thus a specific man. Even in antiquity it was realized that to produce a particular body means at the same time to produce a particular type of man (master race and slave). The class and racial physiognomies are of utmost importance in bourgeois anthropology and the bourgeois Hellenists who idealize the antiquity place special emphasis on it. The specificity of capitalism is that it does not degenerate the body by depriving it of vitality (dying out of bodily functions) through a meditative activism (asceticism), as is the case in Christianity, but by transforming it into a machine through an instrumentalized (technicized) destructive and productional (profiteering) activism. The sports body is a typical product of “technical civilization”, meaning man’s body degenerated in a capitalistic way. At the same time, modern man’s “being-in-the world” means having a (critical) attitude to the existing world, as man is always “more” than that to which he is reduced in the existing world. The animal also is a body, but it experiences the world surrounding it in a basically different way than man. Man is a libertarian-creative being and experiences the world by way of humanized (socialized) senses, which means in a human way as a complete human being guided by a vision of the world he can create: animal is what it is; man is what he can be.

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 unreflected “naïve touch with the world” (Merleau-Ponty) is determined even before the birth – and it is not “naïve”. By the very act of conception, which is increasingly only a technical insemination of the increasingly ill woman with the increasingly ill semen, a being is created which, while still in his mother, is exposed to the fatal influence of the environment. Man is not “thrown into the world” (Heidegger), but is begotten in a fatally ill world and inevitably acquires the features of that world. Man “enters” a degenerated world as an already degenerated being: delivering of a child by a woman is only a manifest form in which the world delivers a man. Subjectivity is essentially determined before man has become aware of himself as a personality, which means before a self-conscious subjectivity. It is precisely at the level of physicality or unreflected perception that a child unconsciously adopts the life style and value models which determine his future behaviour: the body is the reservoir of the unconscious. The relation to the body in childhood largely conditions the development of personality, affective nature, mind, behaviour… The “embryology of the human mind” (Piaget) is conditioned by physical development and the conditions in which it occurs. The way in which a child is delivered, its first contact with the world, mother, light, the environment in which it grows, movements it masters, things it touches, sounds, smells, food and the rhythm of feeding, physical contact, surroundings, way of dressing, air, diapers, water, movements around it, restricted living space, toys, relation between parents, tension, 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 behaviour, which represents the pulsing of the original living 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. It is already in the early childhood that the “seed of evil” is inserted into man and the way it will develop and manifest itself is the matter of social circumstances, concrete life and personality. The so called “aggressiveness”, which directly affects the physical growth, does not stem from “man’s animal nature”, but is a pathological (psychical and bodily) reaction to the repression man is exposed to from his early years. When it is “spontaneous”, it is a compensatory behaviour which does not eliminate the causes of discontent, but contributes to their development.

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, which is an immediate living environment and imposes the logic of living. It is by way of this sphere that the capital rules man and nature. Just as in antiquity man was the slave of the ruling order by way of the sphere of Olympic gods, so in capitalism he became the slave of the ruling order by way of science and technique. The instrumentalization of the body is based on the capitalistically-based division of labour, that is, on specialization and thus on man’s mutilation. Marx speaks of man being transformed into a freak in the industrial process of production, which is brilliantly demonstrated by Charlie Chaplin in his movie the “Modern Times”. The capitalistic form of alienated labour processes the body by turning it into a technical (working) tool, and reduces the mind to an operationalized intellect. A capitalistically degenerated body has degenerated senses and motoring. The dominant characteristics are the bodily mechanic, precision of movements, esthetics of the machine, deerotization, hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other functions, spiritless body and movements; instead of the ancient principle metron ariston, prevails an aggressive muscular body; 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 technicization of the body (nature). The capitalist way of industrial production transformed man into a robotized freak. It is best seen in sport, in the principle “Recorders are born in vials!”, in which a robotized body is the highest esthetic challenge. If the body is neither natural nor human, then not only can man not “be-in-the world”, he can no longer be at all – since he is no longer a man.

Physicalness as “perceptiveness with its own spatiality and time” (Merleau-Ponty) is but an illusion: capitalism appropriates man by way of a capitalistically appropriated (degenerated natural) space, which means by way of destroying him as a natural and human being. “Peculiarity” of the body is not the self of man, but the self of the ruling order – as man is alienated, which means that the body is alienated from man and instrumentalized (degenerated) in a capitalist way. An instrumentalized relation to nature, which is reduced to the object of exploitation and destruction, conditions also the relation to the body which is man’s immediate nature. The existing world is unnatural and inhuman and man survives in it by way of a surrogate body. People live in towns which are capitalist ghettoes and in which the capitalist degeneration of nature, life and man has reached the climax: man is “illuminated” by artificial light, he breathes polluted air, drinks polluted water, eats poisoned food, lives a kind of life which destroys man’s connection to nature and his natural being… As far as time is concerned, capitalism instrumentalizes man by imposing on him the rhythm of life suitable to the pace of capitalist reproduction and which is of a technical and destructive character. It is a totalizing time which, above all, conditions the bodily rhythm and movements and crushes the biological rhythm of body’s functioning.

As man is, by way of his body, “immediately in the world”, the most fatal and inevitable form of the impact of capitalism, as the order of destruction, on man is through the body: the crisis of the world is, at the same time, the crisis of the body. Hence the basic form of man’s self-alienation is the alienation from one’s own body. Man experiences himself as an otherness as against the existing world through the suffering which is the consequence not only of his unsatisfied primary needs, but also of their mutilation. He flees the world by fleeing from his body, or by fleeing to his body (narcissism). Most people in the West experience everyday frustration because they discard their own body as worthless, unfitted to the ruling (consumer-advertising) model of the body which becomes the basis of social evaluation. Man experiences his body as a punishment, as something alien, and tries to mask it (“fashion”), or change it with exhausting physical exercises, “treatments”, operations… A capitalistically degenerated man has an instrumental relation to his own body based on the principle of profit. Physical appearance and health are not the purpose, but a vehicle for achieving social prestige and existence. The desirable model of the body is that which is in line with the dominant value-related model dictated by the dominant fashion concerns. The frequently changing fashion forces people to ever more frequent changes, which means an increasingly merciless treatment of the body. An industry was born for the production of images. The image becomes a commodity similarly to garments. The entertainment industry offers increasingly diversified forms of physical degeneration. Plastic surgery, body-building, fitness-centres and diets – all these serve to make man conform to the dominant model of the “beautiful” according to the standards of advertising industry. “Barbie” doll becomes the “most beautiful” form of man’s devaluation. As far as “Rocky”, “Rambo”, “Terminator” and other Hollywood freaks are concerned, they are the picture of the contemporary capitalist “superman”, whose cultural conscience has been “erased” and who is guided in his behaviour by a destructive idiocy.

The nature of a “spontaneous” movement is conditioned by the environment, circumstances and way of life. A “spontaneous” movement in a city is essentially different from a spontaneous movement in nature. The character of the movement conditions the nature of the body (sense motoring), the development of the intellect, interpersonal relations… Technicized movements, arising from the technical world and of a destructive-consumer character, represent the dominant form of repression over man. At the same time, physical movement has a symbolic significance: drinking “coca-cola” is not only meant to satisfy thirst and is not only a physical act; it is a symbolic relation of man to the existing world, to future, to himself and other people. Likewise, physical presence at a “McDonald’s” restaurant and the consumption of their surrogate food represent a symbolic form of being-in-the world and the production of the ruling order, and the same can be said of the boxing punch, technicized physical exercises, going to the stadium… “Searching for answers” in children’s “spontaneity” and in the cultures where man as an individual has not yet been emancipated, through the means and forms which are the products of capitalist civilization, is but a deviation in man’s struggle for emancipation. “Bad” rationality cannot be replaced by mystique, which is but a return to primitive forms of consciousness. The bourgeois theory no longer seeks to affirm the capitalist civilization, but to deal with the idea of future and mind itself. “To listen to the irrational” becomes the renouncement of cultural legacy and escape from life. The voices of the irrational are a cry of the suppressed and degenerated human needs, of a subdued personality. “To listen to the body”, which is the most direct product of the existing world, means to submit to the ruling order.

In contrast to the former ruling classes, the bourgeoisie strives to include the working layers into its spiritual, as well as into its living sphere. The capitalist way of life (“consumer society”) becomes a totalizing principle of life which spares no one and from which there is no escape. The commercialization of life is the worst form of totalitarianism ever created in history, since it completely submits nature, society and man to the destructive mechanism of the capitalist reproduction. Its essence is expressed in the monstrous maxim “Money does not stink!” – which illustrates the very gist of the ecocide capitalist terrorism. According to the dictate of the absolutized principle of profit, the totalizing of the world by “technical civilization” is in place – and it destroys the possibility of creating a humanist civilization – as well as of nature, body and bodily movement, which directly conditions the “development” of senses and man’s mental capacities. The dominant form of bodily activism becomes a consumer activism. The commercialization of the body is the “highest” form of capitalist degeneration of the body (man). Man’s body is not only part of a capitalistically degenerated world; it becomes a means of destroying the natural and the human and as such the enemy of man. A direct product of the “consumer society” is a man-consumer corresponded by a consumer-body in which the surrogates of “consumer civilization” are to vanish. Capitalism destroys the body by turning it into a destructive mechanism – causing hypertrophy of those physical functions which offer a possibility for the development of consumer society, and the atrophy of those functions which are not of a profitable character. The dominant rhythm is that of the capitalist reproduction which destroys the biological rhythm of life – without which there is no healthy man. Man is not only guided by a consumer activism as a value-related challenge, but his body cannot survive without an ever bigger number of devices and aids, as well as artificial living conditions. The capitalist totalizing of the world involves the capitalist totalizing of the body, which means its distortion and the creation of a chronically ill man who can survive only with an ever bigger amount of medicaments and medical interventions. Man’s survival is increasingly mediated by artificial means which turn him into an invalid. The body has lost its natural needs: it can no longer process natural food; it lives on medicaments and through medicaments. Man’s whole life is under “treatments” which, ultimately, are to enable him to survive in a functional harmony with the ruling order. Material wealth does not provide him with a healthy life; it rather causes a specific mental and physical degeneration of plutocracy. The relation to the body shows that the development of the “consumer standard” involves the destruction of the living standard. Work, way of life, movements, rhythm of living, diet, sleeping, space which is a modern ghetto (towns), air, water, food, tobacco, drugs, beverages, the way of life which destroys man’s natural being, night life – all these forms of life become a way of man’s degeneration. Cholesterol, cellulite, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurasthenia, depression, AIDS, etc. – are not the “diseases of contemporary world”, but are capitalistic form of man’s physical and mental degeneration. It is about a capitalist mutation of man performed by depriving man of natural and human life-creating force and degenerating him into a plastic and technical “being”. At the same time, an increasing number of threatening diseases are not naturally conditioned and of a natural character; they are the products of laboratories and are of a genocidal and profitable character. We are dealing here with a capitalist production of diseases which are being “treated” by turning man into a profitable patient, which means a chronically ill person. “Physical needs” of today’s man are determined by propaganda machinery and his social position. Man, who constantly devours increasing amounts of increasingly low quality food, is the most important strategic goal of the food industry. It creates an increasingly ill man who is, naturally, “attended to” by medical and pharmaceutical industry. The consumption of an increasing amount of food is not the need of our bodies, but is a compensation for a frustrated humanity. Capitalism is turning the consequences of the destruction of nature and man into the sources of profits and is developing ever more horrible mechanisms of destruction. The human body becomes a universal destructive machine and a universal garbage collector which should devour the ever more poisonous surrogates of the capitalist civilization. At the same time, existential anxiety, everyday humiliations, loneliness, hopelessness generated by the destructive capitalist nothingness, mentally distort man, and this is a direct cause of the degeneration of the body.

The essence of historical phenomena can be realized properly only if we realize the tendency of their development, which means the tendency of the development of the world in which they arise and develop. What the body is can be realized only in the context of the tendency of the development of capitalism. At the methodological level, phenomenology offers a possibility of grasping the phenomena, through “intentionality” and the “phenomenology of genesis”, in the context of their change (becoming). The “facticity of the world” (Merleau-Ponty) is not what by itself “creates Weltlichkeit der Welt” (worldliness of the world); it is the dominant (destructive) tendency of its development. It directly influences man’s physical and mental development and conditions his relation to the world.

The Cult of the Body


The dominant cult in sport is the cult of the body and muscular strength which is expressed in Coubertin’s maxim “combative spirit in a muscular body” (mens fervida in corpore lacertoso). While in the ancient bodily agon there is a spontaneous relation of man to the body, which arises from the body being experienced as a constituent part of the universe and the source of man’s vital energy, sport is dominated by an instrumental relation of man to the body. Everything is submitted to a modeling based on the capitalistically (ab) used technique and science: just as in antiquity the physical appearance was meant to be united with the (geometrically constituted) universe, so is in the modern world the physical appearance meant to be united with the Social Darwinist and progressistic spirit of capitalism. Also, in sport, the cult of the body has nothing to do with a broader religious context, as it was the case in antiquity, but is a means of creating a positive character and positive conscious, as well as a means of demonstrating the expansionist power of capitalism. In sport, unlike the gods in antiquity, there are no anthropomorphic symbols representing the dominant power. That role is assumed by sportsmen, and their body and appearance are completely subjected to the nature of the ruling order. Instead of the ancient holistic approach to the body, the emphasis is placed on the expansive muscular strength and mechanization of the body. In sport, man fits in with the capitalist universe by way of the body and bodily posture which is in accordance with the dynamic and progressistic nature of capitalism. The „sports spirit“ is a manifest form of the expansionist spirit of the ruling order, while the „sport body“ represents the most authentic capitalist form of physical degeneration and thus is a „supraclass“ and „supraracial“ model of the body. It is an ideological body which expresses the totalitarian and ecocide nature of the ruling order. A dehumanized and denaturalized world, based on the capitalist destruction, corresponds to a dehumanized and denaturalized body and a destructive body movement.

Sport is an area in which the technicization of the environment, man and interpersonal relations attained the climax. It is one of the most important instruments of capitalism for destroying a humanistic and creating a „technical civilization“. “Sportivization” of the world is the most radical form of man’s denaturalization and decultivization and a means of his being involved in the life and spiritual orbit of „technical civilization“. Science strives to create a being (machine) which will be deprived of all those human qualities that hinder the breaking of records and the production of increasingly bloody sports spectacles. Sport draws on a mechanistic philosophy of the body and finds mimetic impulses in the industrial and militaristic movements. Instead of a natural movement and natural body, the prevailing movement is mechanistic, the body becomes the cage of technical rationality, while the „competitive character“ becomes the embodiment of the ruling destructive spirit. Coaches become body technicians and slave drivers who are to enable the achievement of a desired result (record) at the cost of man’s destruction. At the same time, man’s spirit is also being crippled and the cult of a technicized body is being created and thus the cult of a „technical civilization“. This way of thinking absolutizes the quantitatively measurable result achieved at the cost of the destruction of man’s natural being. Sport creates a capitalist ideological sphere and the appropriate „public opinion“ by destroying the emancipatory heritage of the civil society which offers an opportunity for man to get rid of the ecocide capitalist tyranny.

„Disciplining“ the body in the bourgeois physical culture and sport reflects an endeavour to bring nature under control of the ruling order: „taming“ of the body corresponds to the „taming“ of nature. Sport does not cultivate man’s natural being, but „disciplines“ it through a technocratically based drill dominated by the mechanics of the physical, turning the body into a machine. In contrast to the Middle Ages, where dealing with the body becomes dealing with the „false“ earthly world, the bourgeois pedagogy suppresses and destroys in man all those things that do not fulfil the needs of the capitalist order and can jeopardize it, and develops all those things that contribute to the preservation of that order. Hence, Coubertin insists on a „utilitarian pedagogy“: the „good“ is that which is useful to the ruling order. An aggressive belligerent („healthy“) egoism, an insatiable „need“ for acquisition and ruling (oppression) – those are the „true“ characteristics of a „model“ bourgeoisie. Coubertin’s principle of „greater effort“, which conditions a relentless relation of man to his body and to which, in the psychological sphere corresponds the principle of „greediness“, is analogous to a colonial-plundering relation to nature. The „development of sport“ is based on an ecocide logic: the physical drill destroys the body, which is for man his immediate nature, and thus breaks man’s connection with nature and makes life in nature impossible. The technicized living conditions, which means capitalistically degenerated nature, become man’s living environment he „spontaneously“ strives for and in which he can survive. Sport clearly illustrates the fact that the capitalist way of production does not turn nature into useful objects but degenerates and destroys it: the relation to the body reflects the relation of capitalism to nature. In sport, the capitalist exploitation of nature is fully realized, according to the principle of an ever better result (profit) in an ever shorter time. On this the principle of early selection is based, the principle which cripples the body, destroys man’s erotic nature, his mind and spirituality, and creates a sado-masochistic character. In the contemporary world („consumer society“), the sports body has become an instrument for producing a sports spectacle, meaning a spiritual drug, and a moving advertising billboard.

Sporting physical drill involves a modeling of the body according to progressistic (quantitative) criteria which lead to man’s (self) destruction. The highest challenge is to reach the given „model“ of the body which is the projection of the result (record) striven for. Instead by art and naturalness, sport is dominated by technique which involves an instrumentalized body reduced to a technical device and technicized skill conditioned by the nature of sport and the achieved „level“ of results. Man is reduced to a tool for the production of records, and his body to a raw material which, through physical drill and scientific methods, is to be „transformed“ into a „sport body“. In sport, the ruling model of the body is not appropriate to a particular cultural pattern; it is a direct incarnation of the ruling relations and values: a sportsman is an anthropological form in which the ruling order appears. Like in antiquity, the citizen of modern society is to completely fit into the established (capitalist) universe; he is to be spiritually, physically and actively united with it. Sports esthetics does not derive from culture; it is based on the nature of sport as a war waged with bodies, on the strivings to set a record and on the nature of spectacle – which is a commercial package of sports merchandize. The holistic approach to the body has been discarded (proportionality, harmony), as well as the softness of movements and bodily expression, the pulsation of the erotic, emotional and spiritual, the movement of man to man and the ancient kalokagathia which insists on the unity of the beautiful and the good. Mimetic impulses are not found in nature nor in the cultural sphere, but in technical processes: technical „perfection“ represents the highest challenge for sports esthetics. It is corresponded by a body reduced to a highly specialized machine, mechanics of movement, technicized (ecocide) mind, a suppressed and mutilated Eros, as well as man’s crippled emotional and spiritual being. The mutilated bodies of contemporary gladiators become the highest attainment of the „beautiful“.

The body is not a form of man’s existence as an independent being, his possession; it is an instrument for achieving political and economic goals. Within this context, man’s relation to his own body is mediated by the ruling ideology. The alienation of the body from man becomes man’s alienation from his own self. „Disciplining“ of the body,  the maxims mens sana in corpore sano, mens fervida in corpore lacertoso and citius-altius-fortius – represent the forms of establishing an institutionalized oppression over man which means not only a destructive instrumentalization of the body, but the destruction of personality. Instead of a respect for man’s specific individuality and his human complexity, the priority is given to a dehumanized (destructive) principle of performance and the appropriate model of man. The one-sided oppressive physical activity creates a physically one-sided and spiritually mutilated man. In contrast to the sophists, who by human nature mean the „unity of the body and the soul but, above all, man’s internal disposition, his spiritual nature“, (3) in sport, just as in Christianity, the dualism of the body and the spirit is established. Instead of a „divine spirit“, sport is dominated by the spirit of capitalism incarnated in sportsman’s muscular body in combatant effort, but, instead of the soul, the character (sado-masochistic, murderous-destructive) becomes the meeting point and support of man’s governing spirit. In sport, man is reduced to a depersonalized model of „sportsman“, which means that he is deprived of elementary humanity, thus becoming part of the „team“ of capitalist gladiators, stunt men and circus players. He does not regard his fellow sportsman as a man, but as an „opponent“ who should be removed from the way. Physical injuries and killing become a legal and legitimate form of „relation“ to the „opponent“. The same applies to man’s relation to his own body. Torturing of the body and its destruction is the basic way of achieving „victory over the body (pain)“, which gives rise to a (sado) masochistic character and „victorious will“. Man is reduced to the body, while strength, speed, stamina, killing and destructive power (skill) become the basic way of his self-evaluation. Sportsmen turn from living beings into robotized beings guided by a (self) destructive fanaticism. At the same time, in sport man is subject to an authoritarian order and is accustomed to „responding to a whistle“ – without reasoning. The „golden rule“ of every coach is that „players do not think, but do what they are asked to do“. A sports training does not serve to cultivate man, it mutilates humanity. It is reduced to a technical drill which resembles a military drill, the difference being that in sport the ruling principle is not that of the optimal but of a „greater (destructive) effort“.

Sport deprives man of his erotic nature. A man and a woman are not sexual (natural, affective, human) beings; they are raw materials and tools for setting records. „Specificity“ of the woman’s body is that it is „weaker“ than man’s, which means that it achieves „poorer“ results. If life-creation is the basic existential principle, then precisely by virtue of her body the woman is superior to man since she possesses a life-creating (fertile) body. By accepting the governing evaluative model as the basis of her own evaluation, the woman renounces that which makes her a specific human being and reduces herself to an „inferior being“, a surrogate, or a bad copy of man reduced to a robotized gladiator. Sports pedagogy deals with Eros which induces man to develop his affective nature and closeness with other people, and turns his energy into the driving force of „progress“: a muscular male body in combatant effort, as a symbolic form of the governing spirit, is the highest sporting challenge. Love destroys the fanatic concentration of a sportsman on achieving victory (record) and thus changes his relation to the body of the beloved person, as well as to his own body. It ceases to be a machine and becomes an erotic challenge – a source of pleasure, and thus questions training that mercilessly destroys the organism, doping-treatments which decrease sexual potency, as well as the (self)  destructive „competitive motivation“.

On the example of bodily exertion we can also see how untenable is Plessner’s, Habermas’s and Rigauer’s theses that sport is the „duplication of the world of labour“. Labour is dominated by the principle of optimal effort, while sport is dominated, as we have seen, by the principle of „greater effort“ which basically means a merciless destruction of organism – based on the apsolutized principle of performance. The rhythm and intensity of sports exertion destroy the biological rhythm of organism. Sport abolishes the distinction between tiredness and over fatigue – which is a pathological state of organism. „To increase physical fitness“ involves suffering and blocking of pain which is organism’s natural defence reaction to excessive exertion. Cells are destroyed as well as muscles, spine, heart, joints, liver, and this results in a functional and constitutional disharmony of the body and organs, some extremities, organs and functions of organism are hypertrophied and some are atrophied…

Sport is a capitalist way of producing physically and mentally ill people. In the beginning of the XX century, the French physician Phillip Tissié, who analyzed the functioning of organism of long-distance runners, came to the conclusion that excessive physical exertion led to the degeneration of cells, and that the sportsman is a chronically ill person. Sports physicians do not struggle for a healthy man, but for the creation of a „sport body“ and its „servicing“. What is a pathological state for „ordinary people“, for sportsmen is a „normal state“. Special terms have been coined, such as a „sport heart“, turning chronically ill sportsmen into „supermen“. Off course, this applies only while the medals are being won. Physicians take active part in this physical and mental destruction of people. A typical example is the medical report on the West-German heptathlon contestant Birgit Dressel. In spite of being „a hundred percent healthy“, Dressel died of „toxemia“ in agony. She was 27 years old. No one was held responsible. That is how life of sportsmen ends throughout the world… Coaches ruin the lives of a large number of children in their preadolescent and adolescent period. The most obvious example is gymnastics, where little girls are monstrously degenerated. As far as sports injuries are concerned, only rugby in the USA records 650 000 seriously injured people annually. It is estimated that most orthopedists in the West earn their livings on „correcting“ the consequences of injuries incurred in sport activities.

Body doping is but one of the means used to make the organism of a sportsmen achieve results which exceed his biological capacities. Anabolic steroids, „bathing“ in oxygen, blood doping, doping-pregnancy, virilisation, „therapy“ with the hormone of growth, erythropoietin, computer „processing“ of muscles and shock treatments (as in the „training“ of horses), genetic engineering – without all these means the „progress“ in sport cannot be imagined. What the sports industry is doing to sportsmen resembles the experiments on human beings performed in Nazi laboratories of death. Body doping is carried out by sportsmen being fanaticized, which (only conditionally) can be called mental doping and which blocks the power of reasoning and generates a will for self-destruction. A need to escape from poor slums and anonymity, dreams of making „big money“, the dominant evaluative model, the achieved level of results, the imposed pattern of sports conduct which involves the production of increasingly bloody and destructive spectacles – all this creates the background for a fatalistic acceptance of one’s sports „destiny“ and for the development of a self-destructive conscious. The maxim mens sana in corpore sano, and particularly Coubertin’s maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso, clearly indicates that sport does not count on the development of mind, but on the development of a belligerent (murderous-destructive) character and an instrumentalized body.

Sports theorists, like Matveev, see in the increase in the bodily strength and speed, and consequently the „results“ achieved by today’s sportsmen in relation to the ancient „sportsmen“, the chief indicators of the „development of mankind“. The playing skill, the development of man’s cultural being and interpersonal relations, as well as „moral qualifications“ on which Coubertin insisted when he spoke of the religious spirit (religio athletae) that pervaded the ancient Olympic Games – all this is being ignored. At the same time, the emphasis placed on these indicators as the criteria according to which the development of mankind is determined devaluates today all those who are deprived of physical capacity required for the „highest achievements“ incarnated in sportsmen and their records. In addition, ancient athletes achieved results which many people today cannot achieve. Does that mean that they are degenerates?

The Cult of Record


Strivings for records condition a specific (concrete historical) nature of sports competitions. A victory over the opponents is worthless without setting a record. It becomes a universal measure, alienated from man, for determining the performance (value), which means a peculiar „superior power“ to which man is submitted. A record is the market value of a sports result, and the prevailing logic in sport corresponds to the process of the reproduction of capital: the apsolutized principle of record corresponds to the apsolutized principle of profit. The increasing domination of the apsolutized principle of performance in sport has led to a gradual elimination of combative individualism, the corner-stone of the ideology of liberalism. It has nothing to do with the struggle between people for victory, but with a contest without contestants, where man fights „phantom“ records incarnated in the measuring instruments which are the symbols of a dehumanized and denaturalized „pace“ of the capitalist time. The history of the ancient Olympic Games is a succession of winners; the history of sport comes down to a linear increment of numbers to which the names of depersonalized „recorders“ are assigned. The apsolutized performance (record) acquires a mythical dimension: sports „achievements“ become the measure of „progress“ and „perfectioning“ of humankind and thus historical milestones. Simultaneously, the quantitative comparison becomes an „objective“ criterion for the distribution of positions on the social ladder of power, which appears in the form of Arnold’s elitist „theory of pyramid“ that Coubertin was to adopt: a hundred people should devote themselves to physical culture if fifty of them are to engage in sport; fifty people are to engage in sport if twenty of them are to specialize; twenty people are to specialize if five of them are to become capable of „astonishing bravery“ (prouesse étonnante). (2) The pyramid of success indicates a hierarchy of „natural selection“ in sport and a mechanistic logic of „contest“ which corresponds to the market „competition“ and „industrial society“. The qualitative measurement becomes a form of domination of „progress“ over man confirming its superiority and eternity. It is not a historical product, but a „fact“ which cannot be brought into question and thus is an instrument for training the oppressed how to accept inequality in society as something inevitable. At the same time, a record is not important as a human achievement, but as a means of proving the „progressive“ nature of the ruling order. As there are no medical or moral barriers to the progressistic principle citius, altius, fortius, it is clear that man’s „perfectioning“ leads to his (self) destruction. Sport crushes the modern (humanistic) idea of progress which involves qualitative leaps in the development of society, the affirmation of man as a being of freedom and the creation of a novum. It enables only (endless) quantitative shifts, advancing in the given spatial and time dimensions, which involves progressing without a progress.

In sport, there is an evident distinction between intellectual and physical labour, as well as specialization (at an increasingly early age). Each sport has a specific training technique, which means that each sport in a specific way cripples people both mentally and physically and turns them into specialized sportsmen-recorders. The one-sided sports activity leads to the hypertrophy of some and atrophy of other extremities, organs, bodily and mental functions. A sportsmen becomes a specific working force (a self-destructive character), a tool for labour (highly specialized machine) and material for processing (body as a raw material) – for producing a particular record. The bigger the gap between man’s biological powers and the record that must be reached, the more the sports training contributes to man’s self-alienation as a human being and the destruction of his individual dispositions and abilities. Based on the absolutized principle of performance, sport turned a healthy physical strain into an exertion that destroys man as a living being. A sportsman becomes a robot and as such a commodity on the market of sports show-business, while „sports technique“ becomes a technical form of the destruction of man’s natural and cultural being. The methods and means applied in sport are those used in the industrial production and modern science: sport is an engine for the production of recorders (records). The maxim „Recorders are born in vials!“ suggests the real nature of „top sport“ which is, as its name suggests, the highest challenge for sport generally. Behind technical terms and scientific formulations an industry of death is hiding: „top sport“ has become a supreme form of man’s destruction. Sport is a means by which man, as a biological and human being, turns into a mechanical device. At the same time, it brings about an ecocide conscious and ecocide relation of man to his (her) own body. The „competitive mind“ becomes a form of irrational processes of the capitalist reproduction which, by way of a „sports spirit“, are infused into man. The „aggressive animal nature“ is replaced by a self-destructive fanaticism.

The Cult of Competition


Sport is a capitalist competition. Not every historical form of competition is sport, but the one which is the embodiment of the Social Darwinist principle bellum omnium contra omnes and the absolutized principle of the quantitatively measurable performance shaped in the Olympic maxim citius, altius, fortius – which corresponds to the market economy and the absolutized principle of profit. Just as capitalism is essentially different from the Hellenic slave-owning and feudal order, so is sport essentially different from the ancient agon and knight tournaments. The Olympic Games were an authentic play of the aristocratic Hellad; knight tournaments were an authentic play of feudalism; sport is an authentic play of capitalism. The theory of sport reduces sport to a suprahistorical phenomenon the essence of which comes from the „unchangeable human nature“, whereas man is reduced to a „beast“ and human society to a „civilized“ menagerie. However, individual competition (achievement), which is based on the principle of «Equal chances!», is a historical product and corresponds to the original spirit of capitalism (liberalism) which atomizes society according to the principle homo homini lupus. The elimination of the „opponent“ through victory achieved by an ever better result (record) becomes a capitalist form of a („civilized“) natural selection. „Primitive peoples“ do not know of individual competition and individual achievement, nor do they know of the principle of record. The same applies to the Hellenic society: man is a member of polis and „God’s toy“ (Plato). The purpose of competition is not a record but a victory achieved by the Olympic agonistes as the „gods’ electee“ which gives him the possibility of acquiring a place on Olympus among the immortal Olympic oligarchy.

The history of sport is the history of capitalism. In its original sense the term „sport“ (since 1828, before that desport, desportare) does not denote a competition dominated by the cult of victory and the cult of record, but a pastime, a voluntary participation in the activities designed to act out the aristocratic way of life through a symbolism and forms of behaviour deriving from the aristocratic world, and which are the embodiment of the aristocratic system of values expressed in the principle „order and measure“ (ordre et mesure). „Sport“ was a privilege of the aristocracy through which its exclusive ruling class status was confirmed, which means that it was not a way of integrating the working „masses“ into a spiritual orbit of the ruling class, as it was to become in the bourgeois society. It was not dominated by a fight for victory through the elimination of the opponent nor by the idea of progress, but by such a way of behaviour („gentleman’s manners“) which distinguishes the members of the aristocracy from the „lower classes“. Likewise, the original concept of „sport“, as an entertainment, is not derived from the relation to work and the „world of concerns“; it rather denotes the lifestyle of aristocracy as the parasitic class. It is only in the developed capitalist society that the term „sport“ came to designate the „independent“ spirit of capitalism which is the embodiment of the principles bellum omnium contra omnes and citius, altius, fortius and appears as the sphere of „freedom“ opposite to work. As far as the principle of „chivalry“ is concerned, which is used by the ideologues of sport in order to give it a „cultural“ legitimacy, in its original sense it corresponds to a static aristocratic order in which the dominant social status is not acquired by a merciless struggle for survival, as it is the case in capitalism, but by birth.

Sport acquired its institutional character in the second half of the XIX century and represents a way of dealing with the leading ideas of the French Revolution, critical rationalism, emancipatory possibilities of the newly formed democratic institutions, as well as with the philanthropic and dancing movements. It is not a product of an advanced bourgeoisie which, inspired by the spirit of the Enlightenment and ideals of the French Revolution, strives to create a new society, but of the imperialist circles which strive to deal with the emancipatory heritage of the XIX century civil society and conquer the world. The modern Olympic Games are an expression of the „mondialist“ spirit of imperialism and as such rejection of the cultural (religious) being of the ancient Olympic Games, as well as of the Olympic ideas and movements of the Modern Age – which are based on the Hellenic spiritual heritage, national cultures and the emancipatory heritage of civil society (Gutc Muths, Schartan, Brookes, Lesseps, Grousse…).

In its original form, sport does not rely on bodily activism which is supposed to enhance the development of working or artistic capacities, but on the „chivalrous tradition“ which is of a belligerent character. Sports contests represent a war not waged by weapons, but by the bodies of „opponents“, and thus are a struggle with the pacifist conscious and preparation for an armed conflict. Hence the ruthless „rivalry“, which involves the ability and readiness to kill the opponent, represents the main characteristic of sports „brotherhood“. Sports terminology indicates its essence: sports contests which do not involve elimination are called „friendly“, which means that the competitions in which the victory is an imperative – are hostile. The natural selection being the carrier of „progress“, it is understandable why the bourgeois theorists speak of war with such enthusiasm: they regard it as the highest and the most direct form of the law of natural selection. From Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine it clearly follows that sport belongs to the sphere of war and military training and that it is the main vehicle for dealing with the pacifist conscious. The view of Carl Diem, a loyal interpreter of Coubertin’s doctrine and one of the leading ideologues of German (Nazi) expansionism: „Sport is war!“ („Sport ist Krieg!“), most adequately expresses the essence of sport. It should not be forgotten that Coubertin started the Olympic campaign with an overt aim to effect changes in the French education system, in order to transform the French bourgeois youth into colonial phalanges. A colonial campaign „without proper sports preparations“ represents, according to Coubertin, „dangerous unmindfulness“. It is no wonder that England, as the leading colonial power, where there is place only for „strong individuals“, was the main source of Coubertin’s Olympic inspiration. Furthermore, it is no wonder that Coubertin, in the bloody fights on ancient Olympic playgrounds and medieval tournaments of haughty aristocrats found a source of the „chivalry spirit“ which a bourgeois should strive for. War on a sports field was meant to preserve the militaristic traditions of the warring aristocracy and „overcome“ them by a belligerent and progressistic spirit of monopolistic capitalism. The ability to „look death in the eyes“, which appears in the form of a man reduced to „opponent“, is one of the most important characteristics of Coubertin’s „new man“, while the ability and readiness to kill a man represents the highest challenge for his „utilitarian pedagogy“. Writing, after the First World War, on the highest evaluative challenges of the British ruling circles, Bertrand Russell, one of the most important British philosophers in the XX century, concludes: „In an ordinary high class British family the killing of birds is considered to be quite honourable and the killing of people in war – the noblest of occupations.“ (1) A „need“ of the aristocrats to kill is not an expression of human nature, but an expression of the pathology of the aristocratic order which degenerated man and regarded the killing of people as the supreme virtue. The same applies to greediness: it is not an authentic human need, but is an expression of the pathology of capitalism attributed to man in order to „prove“ that capitalism is based on human nature and therefore eternal. The behaviour of „hooligans“ is similar: it does not indicate the nature of young people, but the nature of the ruling order and the position of young people in society.

In sport, the belligerent spirit of capitalism becomes „independent“ and, by way of „sports competition“, strives to resurrect the spirit of the ancient slave-owning aristocracy, as well as the „chivalry spirit“ of the bloodthirsty medieval lords. The militarization of the body, spirit, human relations and the relations between nations and races is the highest „cultural“ form in which the ruling belligerent spirit appears. In antiquity, in the form of the struggle of individuals for acquiring a place on Olympus the ruling class struggled to preserve its privileges; in modern society, in the guise of a sports competition, the parasitic classes struggle against the emancipatory heritage of humankind and man as the universal creative being of freedom. A sports competition becomes a combat with a competition which does not involve elimination and domination of one man over another, particularly with a competition which involves the development of man’s universal creative powers and offers the possibility of overcoming the existing and creating a new world. In sport, there is no outplaying; it is rather that the contest comes down to a struggle for survival and domination which is completely in line with the dominant spirit of capitalism: the stronger go on, the weaker are eliminated. The purpose of sport is not the development of play, but the preservation of the ruling order.

Interestingly, it does not occur to the bourgeois theorists – according to whom gladiator’s fights, knight tournaments, duels and war are „competition“ – to refer to the class struggle, struggle for women’s emancipation, struggle for liberation from the colonial yoke and particularly revolution – as „competition“. Likewise, in spite of the fact that they emphasize the struggle, it does not occur to them to include in the concept of play the struggle between old and new which involves the expansion of the horizon of freedom – without which there is no true play. Basically, the purpose of competitive play is not the development of the human, but the release of „negative energy“ so as to prevent it from being channeled into a political struggle aiming to eradicate the causes of social hardship. Play becomes the sterilization of a critical and changing conscious. In Russell, also, competition does not involve a struggle against the unjust and destructive ruling order, meaning a struggle for freedom and survival; a struggle between old and new; between good and evil; the development of man’s artistic (erotic) nature – it rather involves a struggle against nature, which means the acquisition of technical skills the purpose of which is to establish control over nature and its exploitation.

Sport is an authentic ideology of liberalism: the cult of victory and record was a form in which appeared the myth of capitalism as an order in which „Everyone has a chance!“ and which is capable of providing a stable progress that inevitably brings good to the citizens in every aspect of their lives, which is expressed in the maxim „Competition generates quality!“ In monopolistic capitalism, based on the principles „Destroy the competition!“ and „Big fish devours small fish!“, sport has become an anachronism which maintains the appearance of a „competitive society“ and as such is destined to degeneration. Instead of a „personal initiative“ and „individual achievement“, the competition of sportsmen becomes a form of struggle between the most powerful capitalist groups for domination – by means of a dehumanized science, medicine, technique … The principle of competition has become the principle of domination, the latter being the principle of destruction. In a „consumer’s society“ the original sports spirit has become completely distorted and sport has turned into a banal circus performance governed by the rules of show-business. In his original Olympic writings, Coubertin indicates where professionalism and commercialization of sport lead to. According to him, „money is the biggest enemy of sport“, as it turns sport into a „fairground“, and (professional) sportsmen into „circus gladiators“. Similar views were expressed by his followers from IOC. Contemporary sports theorists, talking of „original“ Olympism, never cite these Coubertin’s views, as they reveal the true nature of sport and thus the true nature of their „theoretic“ activity.

Basis of contemporary critical theory of capitalism


The final stage of a mortal combat between mankind and capitalism is in progress. A specificity of capitalism is that, in contrast to “classical” barbarism (which is of destructive, murderous and plundering nature), it annihilates life by creating a “new world” – a “technical civilization” and an adequate, dehumanized and denaturalized man. Capitalism has eradicated man from his natural environment and has cut off the roots through which he drew life-creating force. Cities are “gardens” of capitalism where degenerated creatures “grow”. Dog excrement, gasoline and sewerage stench, glaring advertisements and police car rotating lights that howl through the night – this is the environment of the “free world” man. By destroying the natural environment capitalism creates increasingly extreme climatic conditions in which man is struggling harder and harder to survive – and creates artificial living conditions accessible solely to the richest layer of population, which cause definitive degeneration of man as a natural being. “Humanization of life” is being limited to the creation of micro-climatic conditions, of special capitalistic incubators – completely commercialized artificial living conditions to which degenerated people are appropriate.

The most dramatic truth is: capitalism can survive the death of man as a human and biological being. For capitalism a “traditional man” is merely a temporary means of its own reproduction. “Consumer-man” represents a transitional phase in the capitalism-caused process of mutation of man towards the “highest” form of capitalistic man: a robot-man. “Terminators” and other robotized freaks which are products of the Hollywood entertainment industry which creates a “vision of the future” degenerated in a capitalist manner, incarnate creative powers, alienated from man, which become vehicles for destruction of man and life. A new “super race” of robotized humanoids is being created, which should clash with “traditional mankind”, meaning with people capable of loving, thinking, daydreaming, fighting for freedom and survival – and impose their rule over the Earth. Instead of a new world, a “new man” is being created – who has been reduced to a level of humanity which cannot jeopardize the ruling order.

Science and technique have become the basic lever of capital for the destruction of the world and the creation of “technical civilization”. It is not only about destruction achieved by the use of technical means. It is about technicization of social institutions, of interpersonal relations, of the human body… Increasing transformation of nature into a surrogate of “nature”, increasing dehumanization of the society and increasing denaturalization of man are direct consequences of capital’s effort, within an increasingly merciless global economic war, to achieve complete commercialization of both natural and social environment. The optimism of the Enlightenment could hardly be unreservedly supported nowadays, the notion of Marx that man imposes on himself only such tasks as he can solve, particularly the optimism based on the myth of the “omnipotence” of science and technique. The race for profits has already caused irreparable and still unpredictable damage to both man and his environment. By the creation of “consumer society”, which means through the transition of capitalism into a phase of pure destruction, such a qualitative rise in destruction of nature and mankind has been performed that life on the planet is literally facing a “countdown”. Instead of the “withering away” (Engels) of institutions of the capitalist society, the withering away of life is taking place. The thesis of conservative bourgeois theoreticians, according to which the history of mankind ends with capitalism, becomes more and more convincing. Unless it is prevented, capitalism will, already by the beginning of the third millennium, finish off what remains of the world.

Scientists are a human form in which capitalism instrumentalizes natural forces in order to control men and nature. They have been reduced to specialty-idiots who, in a “technical world”, where everything operates by “pressing a button” and where “everything is under control”, see an ideal world that should be longed for, and in a machine-man the “culmination of progress”. Scientists, for whom “obtaining expertise” is paid for with their humanity, perceive people as enemies and machines as “friends”. The same way profit and not man is essential to capitalists, “progress” and not man is essential to scientists – progress being another name for profit, and “profit” being another name for destruction. “The technical intelligentsia” are mutilated people not able to express their humanity. Fear of people transforms into hatred of people. They consciously deprive themselves of all those features that make them men, and they escape into a  “technical world” where they can “experiment” with machines, people, the living world… The power of science and technique becomes the power of manipulation and destruction. For them the “technical world” becomes the “natural” world and the highest esthetic challenge, like Eiffel’s tower, this capitalistic Tyrannosaurus, which symbolizes domination of “technical civilization” over man.

It becomes more and more obvious that capitalism creates an increasingly deep social and ecological crisis that it cannot control. The transition of capitalism is going on, from the stage of “controlled” into a stage of uncontrolled chaos which is the ultimate “answer” of the ruling order to its own incapacity to manage the increasingly dramatic existential crisis – out of which either the tearing down of capitalism and the creating of the new world, or the destruction of mankind and life on Earth, can be generated. The consequences of capitalism cannot be controlled by means of social institutions, for those have also become tools of capitalist corporations and are being used to achieve their interests. Men are deprived of basic human rights: the right to live, to labour, to a healthy environment, family, happiness, a future… A process of depersonalization by the capitalist governance shows no responsibility for its own actions. Invisible and impossible to seize, the spirit of capitalism, which becomes the fatal force of destiny, rules the world. Multinational corporations destroy the international legal system, democratic institutions, the “social state”… The political arena becomes a political circus; politicians become capital’s court jesters. Public disputes on essential social issues are being replaced with fabricated affairs. “Rule of law” becomes an ideological mask of capitalist tyranny. Eventually, the political sphere becomes a vehicle of the ruling class used for depolitization of citizens and extermination of trust in democratic institutions and hope for the possibility of creating a rational social order that would be an incarnation of the guiding principles of the French Revolution – upon which modern humanism is based. It turned out that (Western) democracy is a political form of the rule of capital over man. Multinational corporations destroy the emancipating legacy of civil society, and the institutions that should offer a possibility for expression of the citizens’ political will become the means for achieving their interests instead. The possibilities for the political articulation of increasing citizens’ discontent through institutions are diminishing. A declining number of issues determining the destiny of men are being raised in “representative bodies”. A declining number of people take an active part in the elections. Instead of being a political subject, the citizen becomes a consumer of political programs. Everything occurs in accordance with the principles of market economy, within which good advertising is of utmost importance for the sale of products. “Money does not stink!” becomes the basic political principle. Politics becomes an industry for production of “democratic” falsehoods and illusions.

The more the crisis of capitalism develops, accompanied by the increasing discontent of people – which unavoidably generates the need for creation of the new world, for this is an existential imperative – the more aggressive are the efforts of the ruling class to prevent its disintegration. The most important task of the governing politics is to make it impossible for the objective possibilities for the change of the existing world to become real potential for changes, through the change-oriented practice of the oppressed. Therefore, destruction of (critical) mind and “pacification” of the oppressed through idiotization become the most important task of the governing propaganda machinery. Degenerated capitalist rulers of the world develop increasingly horrible mechanisms for physical and mental destruction of people. Governing politics is limited to technique for the manipulation of the oppressed by which the emancipating legacy of civil society is being annihilated while an increasingly aggressive relationship between races, nations, religions, genders is being developed… Artificially provoked and controlled conflicts between people are being imposed, in which trust in man and change-oriented energy should burn out. “General suspects” are being labeled so as to be accountable for the causes of discontent and at which anger of citizens deprived of their rights should be vented. In this manner a critical and change-oriented relation towards the world and any class awareness are being annihilated, while contemporary fascism is being created. Production of fear, used to prepare the public for the use of the means of mass destruction (including atomic and neutron bombs) by the “bad guys” around the globe, becomes the most important task of the ruling propaganda machinery. The capitalist perpetuum mobile is in action: capitalism generates increasing discontent which is transformed, by means of politics limited to the technique of redirection of people’s discontent towards the accomplishment of anti-human political and economic goals, into a driving power for repression and destruction. The governing regime tries to accomplish total criminalizing of the society, which means that chaos is created – controlled by that very way of life based on the totalizing principle of “Big fish devours small fish!”- within which all efforts to create a human world are being degenerated. Criminalizing of the society becomes the most important form of integration of the oppressed into a spiritual and existential orbit of capitalism and a way of dealing with the libertarian (class) struggle. The specifics of the capitalist criminalizing of the society go towards the expectation that it should eliminate a population “surplus”, in other words, the “non usable labour force”. Biological destruction of the oppressed becomes the most efficient way of controlling them. This method was “successfully” used by the American administration with Indians in “reservations” all over the USA: methanol and blankets infected with smallpox once played the role now assigned to AIDS, cigarettes, drugs, poisoned food…

The faster the capital reproduction, the less space remains for humanity. Capitalism destroys the family and all other forms of social life and produces lonely man, for whom it becomes increasingly difficult to accept responsibility and to oppose the capitalist craze. This is a psychological moment of extraordinary importance for the ruling order. The growing misfortune becomes a generator of the growing evil into which the average citizen (petit bourgeois) masochistically blends so as to avoid responsibility for the annihilation of the world – in which process he, actively or passively, participates. No one raises the issue in public any more of man’s responsibility for the established global “development” – for this responsibility implies the right to freedom and life. Therefore, the concept of “future happiness” was replaced by the fear for life as the main behavioural motivation factor. Capitalistically degenerated man has lost faith that he can do anything in the social area, so he tries to barricade himself within his own atomized hopelessness and to create his own micro-world. “Freedom” of the slaves of capitalism is limited to the possibility of purchasing an increasing variety of ever more destructive ways to “escape” from everyday life offered by the entertainment industry. Capitalism generates the pathological man that accepts destruction as way of life – the petit bourgeois is a man degenerated in a capitalist way. He has become a victim of capitalist nothingness to such an extent that he finds relief from the everyday agony he experiences in a vision of an ultimate and spectacular annihilation of mankind: instinct for life transforms into instinct for destruction.

Capitalism as a totalitarian order crushes the emancipating legacy of civil society which opens a possibility for creation of the new world – and it produces forms of political struggle that have a destructive nature. Terrorism is a capitalistically degenerated form of the fight against capitalism – destructive violence that uses capitalist means and methods – and only contributes to the intensification of the process of destruction. It does not long for creation of the new world, but for annihilation of the existing world. This is the essential difference between revolutionary struggle and terrorist actions. Fanaticism, and not a visionary conscious based on reason and freedom, dominates terrorist violence. Fanaticism is a consequence of an increasingly merciless destruction of the world and people performed by capitalist monopolies. A typical example is so-called “Muslim extremism”: it is an unavoidable consequence of the more and more obvious Western effort to crush the Muslims and take full control over oil deposits. At the same time, the “fight against terrorism” is a new ideological mask of American imperialism which is analogous to the “fight against Judaic bolshevism”, a mask of the Nazi Drang nach Osten, annihilation of Jews and Slavs and conquering of Lebensraum for German capital. “Fight against terrorism” becomes a pretext for introduction of global terror by the most powerful capitalist corporations. Those who terrorize the world in the form of the “fight against terrorism” try to crush all those who threaten their efforts to transform the entire world into their own concentration camp. The offered “protection” from terrorism is of a mafia nature: those who do not accept the iron embrace of the “global policeman” will be exposed to the worst American terror. “Global terrorism” becomes the “main danger that threatens mankind” – this is being constantly repeated by servants of the American politics around the globe. From its position towards terrorism one can view the real outreach and the real objectives of the American politics: terrorism is neither ideological nor alignment-related, but of a global and anti-existential nature.

Ruling oligarchies of the most developed capitalist countries are “solving” the increasingly deep existential crisis within their respective societies by shifting it onto the shoulders of the poor of the world. The survival of capitalism is directly conditioned by the robbing and destruction of the entire world. Contemporary imperialism (which has been named “globalism” by Coca Cola intellectuals), unlike its earlier historical forms that were exploitative (Rob!) and genocidal (Kill!) in nature, is of an ecocide nature (Annihilate!). NATO, IMF and other “international organizations” are only a vehicle the West uses for carrying out its ecocide terrorism and the genocide politics based on it. A new fascism is being established, based on total global capitalist terror: each part of the planet, and each segment of life become means for capitalist reproduction – which means that life itself becomes terror over man and the destruction of humanity. The always more intensive destruction of life leads towards a radicalization of the genocide politics: destruction of an increasingly large number of people becomes a precondition for the survival of an ever-smaller number of people. Within that context a theory of the “golden billion” has been established which represents a strategic landmark for the political practice of the most developed capitalist countries. This ecocide capitalist craze generates a growing fear for survival and consequently, based on this fear, establishes conditions for radicalization of political decisions and political action. The use of atomic and neutron bombs, artificial viruses (such as HIV) and other lethal means become a legitimate “defence” tool. In almost all reports produced by the Western “experts”, “overpopulation” of the planet is “the greatest danger for survival of mankind”. Fear for survival is being redirected towards nations of the world that “excessively procreate” thus jeopardizing the survival of all. The solution is being imposed by itself: destruction of the billions of “superfluous” is essential for the survival of mankind. Those who unsparingly destroy nature and exterminate peoples become “saviours of mankind”. The West has ample experience with destruction of nations: extermination of the North American Indians by American capitalism, and the Chinese and the Australian Aborigines by British imperialism – show the Western “traditions” of elimination of the “surplus” of humanity. At the same time, based on the American “new world order”, “globalism” provides conditions for establishing new “national” genocide plutocracies that have the task of destroying the “excessive population” in their respective territory, by applying of economic and other measures. Further development of capitalism will be paid for by billions of innocent people, by a growing number of wildlife species that are facing extinction, by the entire living world… Eventually, it all serves to enable several million of the mentally degenerated “rich” to continue “enjoying” the material wealth created for them from the ashes and blood, tolerance for which is being provided by the use of police, mafia and military tyranny, and the illusions created by the entertainment industry. Fanatics of capitalism are the worst sort of terrorists: they are destroying life on Earth.

The economic logic of monopolist capitalism, which is based upon the notion of “Big fish devours small fish!”, has become the ruling political rationale that determines relations between states. What the Nazis did not achieve with weapons and concentration camps, the Western capitalist corporations accomplished with money and economic extortion: the transformation of former “Eastern block” countries into their own “living space”, while transforming their citizens into contemporary (Coca Cola) slaves. The ruling European political circles identify Europe with the “European Union” in the same way as the Nazi ideologists declared Europe “the new European order”. It is exactly those who advocate Europe as a community of equal nations and who insist on its emancipating heritage – who are the bitterest enemies of the “European Union” as a vehicle for the largest European corporations towards their destruction of the emancipating heritage of European nations. The so called “European Union” is being built upon an illusion that joining the “Union” guarantees all European nations “prosperity and a better life”. It should be remembered here that the main goal proclaimed by the Nazi “new European order” was to make “all European nations happy”! The “European Union” is an anti-human and destructive order based upon the ruling principles of monopolist capitalism, “Big fish devours small fish!” and “Money does not stink!”; its ruling political sphere does not provide opportunity for expression of the citizens’ political will but represents a political form of the rule of capital over people; the entire institutional, normative and propaganda area of that order is directed towards destruction of the cultural and libertarian self-conscious of people and towards their integration into a spiritual orbit of capitalism at the level of the idiotized labour-consumer “mass”. The “European Union” is not a “democratic community of nations”, but a form of integration of the European multinational corporations in their fight against the American corporations – which use the American state as a vehicle for the achievement of their interest at the global level. The “European Union” is not based upon the emancipating traditions of European nations, but upon the imperialist traditions of European capitalism. It is not a humanistic goal but a vehicle of the most powerful capitalist corporations for the achievement, by economic and political “measures”, of the very same goals that Hitler was expected to achieve for German capital – by military means. It is a transitional phase in “European development” that leads towards the creation of a new (ecocide) fascist order. Appropriately, this violent, capitalistically established “integration of European nations” causes nationalism and racism to thrive in response to people’s deprivation of basic human and civil rights – which is an introduction to new increasingly dramatic clashes that will develop based on the prevalent logic imposed by monopolist capitalism, and also based on the increasingly contaminated natural environment and on the biological deterioration of European nations. The ecocide capitalist terrorism unavoidably generates nationalism which is no longer based on the struggle to obtain and preserve a job or a living standard, but on the struggle for survival. It becomes more and more obvious that with “the uniting of Europe”, instead of developing optimism and an atmosphere of tolerance, which would correspond to the “humanist ideals” referred to by politicians, the citizens’ fear of the future and intolerance are growing. “Humanist speeches” cannot conceal the growing crime, unemployment, falling apart of the “welfare state” and, along with it, of social protection, devastation of environment, drug abuse, violence, suicides, fanaticism, extremism, the flourishing of Satanist sects and of fascism, the breaking up of the family, the growing number of parentless children, human-trafficking and child-trafficking aimed at sexual abuse or the taking of their lives to “obtain” organs (in England alone more than 40,000 underage children “disappear” annually), the spreading of AIDS and other diseases that would decimate the poor, loneliness that has achieved epidemic dimensions…

The “United Europe” generates racism, similar to that developed in the USA. East European and Balkan nations are getting the status of “nations with no culture”, which means “lesser creatures”. The languages spoken by the Gastarbeiter population are not being perceived as part of the European cultural heritage, but become a motive for discrimination. As a mass phenomenon, migrant labourers keep their children from learning their own mother tongue in order to mask their origin and avoid humiliation. Bearing in mind that an insignificant number of children of migrant labour achieve college and university education, it becomes clear that depriving them of their mother tongue represents obliteration of their cultural being, through which act they are predestined to be the “dirty labour force” – to perform the hardest and the most dangerous jobs. Within the “European Union” one can clearly discern the racist pyramid of power based upon economic, political and military supremacy: Germany, France and England are on the top, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium… are bellow them. The Balkan peoples are located at the bottom of the pyramid. In the “United Europe” the place reserved for them is the one Afro-American occupy in the United States of America. On the “road towards Europe” the Balkan nations should lose their own historical (cultural) self-conscious and libertarian dignity in order to become a garbage collector labour force, while the Balkans should become the septic tank of Europe. The Balkan nations are commanded to renounce the libertarian myths that are the basis of their historical and libertarian self-conscious, while at the same time, they are expected to cling to the myth of “Europe” as a “community of free nations”: libertarian myths are being replaced by colonial ones. The “uniting of Europe” in accordance with the American model, which means to be based upon the interests of multinational corporations and their struggle for supremacy, leads towards annihilation of “nationalism” which translates into annihilation of the cultural heritage of European nations and their right to make sovereign political decisions. The USA is populated by the dregs of European and other nations degenerated with the “American way of life” and the Coca Cola “culture”. In Europe, we refer to historical nations who associate their national, civil and cultural identity with their own country in which they were born, and for the freedom of which their ancestors fought. This country is their vital and spiritual homeland and the basis of their human self-image.

“European identity” cannot be built on formal principles (such as a constitution), but based on a libertarian tradition and on the cultural heritage of European nations. Europeans must be judicious and resolute people who defy the processes of destruction of cultural heritage and of life in general; people who would, through political struggle, turn objectively accumulated potential for creation of a new world based on reason and freedom into the realistic potential for liberation. Europe (world) should become a garden where flowers of all European cultures flourish together. It is of no importance which flower is “bigger”, but that each of them emanates its own scent. It is about implementation of the leading ideas of the French Revolution, ideas that are not only humanistic, but have become basic existential principles. Only based upon a struggle for the new world can the emancipating legacy of the European and other nations living in Europe be achieved. Europe will overcome the growing social crisis by creating the new world – or it will collapse. For the European nations, acceptance of the “American way of life” means suicide.

In the increasingly merciless global economic war between the most powerful multinational corporations, social institutions become an instrument used to assure “stable development” of the capitalist order. Everything is in the game: the entire institutional mechanism has to develop in accordance with the growing demands imposed by the interest on the assets. It is not true that “politics ceased to depend on economy in a classic way”, as Habermas claims, but, on the contrary, it is entirely controlled by the logic of economic relations in an attempt to turn the society into a producing-consuming camp within which the reasoning and behaviour of people would be entirely subdued to the existential interest of the capital. The state becomes the vehicle for “introduction” into a society of the basic relationship logic as a supreme principle for the organizing of social life, so that “efficiency” (once “righteousness”) becomes the key political principle. “Superstructure” becomes the means that should make the logic of basic relations become a driving force of the entire social life and play an active part in its dehumanization. Its activity primarily goes for “planning the future” as an active impact for increasing the certainty for survival of the established order. With the descending of the superstructure towards the base, the circle has been closed: the state becomes a totalizing ratio of the huge capital that needs to integrate the society (primarily to preserve “social peace”) and enable stable development of capitalism. In insisting on “the introduction of elements of superstructure into the base” there is the intention to prove that reason has won over chaos (the so-called “organized capitalism”). In fact, “reason” has become a form of manifestation of the irrational processes of capitalist reproduction. The basic support of “reason” becomes the instrumentalized (destructive) ratio turned into a vehicle for development (science, technique, organization, etc.) and protection (economic, police, ideological and other forms of repression) of the established order. Its sterilization has been successfully performed; it has been cleansed of all “value-related prejudices” and has become a blind and efficient vehicle for control over man. It is about the so-called “technical mind” that has accepted contemporary forms of technological planning, applying them (adapted and improved) to human behaviour planning. In that sense, the very political make up of the society, the way politics is carried out, becomes more and more separated from the people and accepts the logic of technocratic efficiency as a basis for establishing a “rational” social order. However, the attempt to constitute a society, set within the tumult of global events, based on “reason”, is like attempting to reinforce the walls of one apartment in a building that is falling down. The stability of each separate capitalist society depends on the stability of the global capitalist order. If its foundations are in crisis, with “rational measures”, which means through integration of the society under the sponsorship of the state, the crisis can only be alleviated (a so-called “controlled crisis”), its blows can be received less painfully, but the crisis cannot be solved. The “rational policy” of the most developed capitalist states is limited to the building of a sort of breakwater that blocks the waves of crisis and makes them spill over those less capable (the least developed countries) to resist the crisis.

The capitalist ratio is the means for destruction of the critical mind that enables a vision of the future and a possibility for building the free world based on reason. Instead of being oriented towards creation of social relations where man would have a chance to be a man and to provide for his own existence, reason becomes an extended arm of the economic (profit-oriented) strategy which tends to transform all social relations into segments of its own development. Destruction of mind by the entertainment industry, in which sports have a key role, is an integral part of the process of destruction of “traditional humanity” and the creation of the “new man” reduced to a robotized freak. The capitalist totalizing of the world implies degeneration of the man by imposing the “one-dimensional” (Marcuse) way of thinking which requires: a positivist attitude towards the world; instrumentalization of everything and of everyone; quantitative dimension; mysticism in a “spectacular” package; progressivism based on the absolutized principle of performance, which in turn is based on the absolutized principle of profit… It is a way of thinking which abolishes not only the essence (freedom, justice) but also the existence (biological survival, nature), which means that it is of a fatalistic nature. At the same time, an idealized image of the classical and of the medieval periods becomes the foundation for development of an idea of transcendence that becomes a vehicle for annulling the visionary mind and the idea of a future. Christian (and almost all the other) churches are natural allies of capital, which attempts to destroy the self-conscious of the modern man (citizen) as a constituent subject of a civil society and the creator of his own world. Christianity and other apocalyptic religions contribute to a development of the awareness that the destruction of the world is unavoidable. It is one thing to preach such ideologies in a situation where there is no real threat of global destruction, as it used to be in the medieval period, and something completely different when such a threat becomes more and more real.

Manipulation moves from an ideological to a psychological level. Consciousness has been “outgrown” – the sub-conscious matters. Both the advertising industry and the political (ideological) sphere operate based on that principle. All efforts are being invested to keep man from understanding his own tragic position in the world where destructive nothingness rules. It is media terror dominated by the entertainment industry and advertisement video clips – which create distorted mirrors where man can only see “his own” degenerated image. Capitalism systematically destroys man’s ability and need to raise essential questions about his own (social) existence, as well as his potential to answer them. Almost the entire media space is controlled by those who destroy life and marginalize the essential, while attributing a crucial dimension to the marginal. “Sensational affairs”, “historical matches”, media “star” shows, “spectacular” Hollywood films and TV soap operas – become the vehicles for averting people’s attention from the issues which determine the survival of mankind or its idiotization. Blocking reason and giving vent to the man’s repressed being, his growing discontent, fear, anxiety and insemination of man by the ruling spirit of capitalism wherefrom the “positive man” is to be born – this is the essence of the “spectacle”. Therefore the growing importance of sport. Psychological manipulation in it is based on the Iuvenal’s maxim panem et circences innovated in a capitalist manner: the less bread there is, the more abundant bloody games there are. The growing discontent of the oppressed is burning in stadiums – those fire-stakes of capitalism. Sport is a spectacular form in which destructive capitalist irrationalism emerges – based upon the absolute principle of performance (profit) and upon the capitalistically mutated Social Darwinist principle. If existential and humanist (mind–related) criteria are taken as an overall goal, it is clear that longing to break records leads towards the self-destruction of man, and towards the destruction of his cultural being: “progress” becomes a way of obtaining legitimacy for destructive sport practices. Only when the tendencies of development of sport are adequately perceived can its essence – namely, its destructive character – be understood. One of the key tasks of sport is to eliminate visionary conscious. It represents an educational model that recognizes its own outcome in the present way of living elevated to the level of a mythic phenomenon. Sport is one of the most usable ways for transforming man’s life-creating energy into destructive practice. “Sportivization” of society has become one of the key forms of capitalist totalizing of the world. In the same way the Nazi Olympic Games were used to disguise the real intentions of the Nazis, contemporary sport is being used to conceal the existential “match” between the West and the rest of the world, in which there are no winners and losers, but only the exterminated and those left alive.

The story of the “American dream” is over. The assassinations of Martin Luther King, John Lennon and numerous other people who fought for a humane world have clearly demonstrated that the notion of “a better society” represented the greatest threat to the ruling capitalist groups because it provided a possibility for the development of a political platform that could direct the growing discontent of the oppressed towards the creation of a new (righteous) world. The major goal of the capitalist propaganda machinery is to kill the people’s hope that the future is possible and that fighting for it does make sense. Capitalism is not to blame for the people’s growing discontent, but those “irresponsible” politicians who promised a “happy” future are. The “vision of the future” becomes a commodity that is being sold to people through TV shows by nullifying their need to fantasize about freedom and justice. This commodity glorifies (destructive) technique thus creating the illusion of the “progressive nature of capitalism”. Scientists are “concerned” with what will happen to the planet in 5 million years from now but show no interest in what will happen to humanity within the next hundred years. Instead of reliance on the “American dream”, which was till recently used by the capitalist propaganda machinery for integration of citizens into the ruling order, the main vehicle for strengthening the global capitalist dictatorship today is the intimidation of citizens with the “terrorist threat”.

Ideologists of capitalism represent life as if nothing serious was going on – as if the world were not on the very edge of total ruin. The bourgeois critique of capitalism is not directed against capitalism but against the very critique that tends to raise essential issues, primarily the issue related to the trend of development of capitalism – which is a precondition for determining its essence. Their “critique” of capitalism is in fact directed at the very critical thought which advocates the superseding of capitalism and the creation of the new world. Bourgeois theoreticians treat capitalism as a non-historical order, meaning, as a given fact which cannot be questioned. From this position result statements on the “necessity” of capitalist globalization, based on the interest of multinational corporations and the annihilation of life, which fail to mention the unavoidable fall of capitalism as one of the historical stages of the development of mankind. Coca Cola intellectuals, by definition, use the expression “communism” while talking about the USSR and other countries of “real-socialism” – intending to “prove” that “communism failed” and to repudiate the Marxist critique of capitalism and the idea of a future. In their ideological blindness they fail to notice that while criticizing Marx they actually employ his own historical concept, only adjusted to the requirements of preservation of capitalism. Francis Fukuyama in his book “The End of History and the Last Man” finds that the main reason for the failure of “communism” in the East is related to the fact that this order was based on “social justice”: struggle for social justice becomes an anti-existential principle. Long before Fukuyama, this notion was “assessed” by Auguste Comte, and by his follower Pierre de Coubertin: the struggle of the oppressed for freedom and justice hinders “progress” – incarnated in the bourgeoisie – which means that it jeopardizes the very survival of mankind. Fukuyama’s critique of the former “communist” societies remains limited to rejection based upon an intention to create a rationally founded economic order that serves the fulfilment of human needs – which would enable man to overcome the increasingly deep existential crisis generated by capitalism. His theory, too, points out the leading tendencies in the development of Western political thought: things are no longer being placed on an essential level, but onto a purely existential level. This means that all vehicles that provide a possibility for the survival of capitalism are legitimate – at the price of erasing the emancipating legacy of civil society and of “traditional humanity”. For Marx socialism is a transitional phase between capitalism and communism – which represents the ultimate superseding of capitalism and the beginning of the real history of mankind. This means that (re) establishing capitalism is not possible if communism was previously achieved. The dimensions of the bourgeois theory’s absurdity can be perceived in the context of the notion that declares capitalism to be “post-communism”! At the same time, theoreticians such as Habermas speak about “late capitalism” that is of a completely different nature from that of the capitalism Marx is dealing with. It achieves those characteristics Marx attributed to socialism, which means that “late capitalism” implements Marx’s idea of “socialism”. Horkheimer treats his own analyses in “Dialectic of Enlightenment” as a purely academic stance. His attitude towards sport indicates that he sterilizes the critical, change-aspiring charge when dealing with the concrete political sphere, thus crafting entirely arbitrary structures in order to preserve the ideological vault of capitalism, which appears in sport in a condensed form. As for the Heidegger’s Sorge, it is of an abstract nature for it relates to the abstract “world” and the abstract “man”. The focus should, instead, be on the concrete concern of the concrete man, meaning the man who lives in the capitalist world where destruction prevails. It is no longer man’s fear that he has to face his own unavoidable, natural death, but the anxiety that he has to confront the increasingly realistic possibility of destruction of life on Earth, and consequently of mankind itself. In the first case, the concern remains in the sphere of necessity; in the second case the concern is related to the sphere of freedom: man cannot avoid his own death, but he is in a position to prevent the destruction of humankind and to create a human world. In this context the issue of death and extinction can be broached. Death does not have to mean extinction if man leaves behind him his opus for which he will be remembered, meaning an opus that eventually contributes to the survival of mankind. In the context of the natural (life) cycle, death is a precondition for the birth of new life – it is life-creating. The essence of the capitalist death is the destruction of mechanical nature and of technical form, which is also the destruction of man and life, and consequently of the death-birth chain which creates life. Capitalism has not only deprived man of his spiritual homeland (Heimatlosigkeit), but also of his vital environment through the annihilation of nature and of man as biological being; it does not only deprive man of his human essence, but questions his survival. Capitalism has “blended” the existential and the essential concern: struggle for survival becomes struggle for freedom, and struggle for freedom turns into struggle for survival.

The so called “leftist thought” did not adequately respond to the development of capitalism. It invested most of its energy into a futile dispute about the past – instead of directing its focus towards the future and uniting its efforts to criticize capitalism as a life-annulling order. Instead of designing contemporary notions that would enable the creation of a political concept that would be a road sign for the radical fight with capitalism as a destructive order, it continues to use the conceptual tool set created by Marx and Engels, “swept away” by capitalism long ago, as well as Hegel’s (Marx’s) dialectic, which can be taken for the starting point for the critique of capitalism only conditionally – for its (historical) pyramid of freedom is based upon existential certainty. The capitalist train did not halt in the station in which, according to Marx, it should have been stopped (by means of the socialist revolution), and it continued to move – dragging the entirety of humankind towards the abyss. The theory of the so-called “scientific socialism”, which is an ideological match to the theory of capitalism as the “end of history”, insists on the absolute performance principle and, in that context, on quantitative indicators of “progress” – thus hopelessly drowning in the muddy waters of capitalism. It is not by chance that sport (as well as the other repressive forms of physical exercise), meaning the ideology of “record-mania”, was granted such importance in Soviet society. Deprived of its humanist essence, Marx’s idea of socialism was transformed into Stalinist practice in the East; in the West many “communist parties”, taking the dogma of “realized socialism” in the USSR for granted, transformed the Soviet practice into the “idea of socialism” that should be longed for. The offered “project of the future” is still based on the notion that capitalism is an unjust, not a destructive order. The most important task of the global anti-capitalist movement is not only to liberate humanity from oppression, but to prevent its annihilation. Therefore awareness of the consequences of the development of capitalism represents a conditio sine qua non of the struggle against capitalism.

Struggle for the survival of life and, in that context, the fight against capitalism open a possibility for the creation of a wide political movement that will surpass the classical class divisions and class struggle, but also open a possibility for the dilution of the fight against capitalism by directing the change-aspiring energy towards “ecological projects” that remain limited to the hopeless curing of the consequences of capitalism and its “improvement”. Capitalism has “solved” the conflict between determinism and freedom; between “objective potentials” for revolution and revolutionary voluntarism – by destroying the emancipating (cultural) heritage of humanity, man as a biological being and nature. The only real (existential and essential) solution would be an overall war of humankind against capitalism, which implies using every means that might bring about its destruction. This fight would be not only defensive, liberating, or revolutionary, but a fight that has never been fought before: a fight for the survival of mankind and for the preservation of life on Earth. Having in mind the intensity of global destruction, it becomes obvious that communism is not merely a libertarian possibility, as it is for Marx, but an existential necessity.

The “positive side” of capitalist globalization is that it inevitably generates the international anti-globalist movement that, in time, will develop into a more radical international anti-capitalist front. From confrontation with the existing world, it will develop into the struggle for the new world. Marx’s exclamation from the “Communist Manifest”: “Proletarians of all countries unite!” – becomes a libertarian end existential cry of awakened and fully aware humankind. Mass anti-globalist rallies are important, but only if they make up a part of the day-to-day fight against capitalism. If not, they become a part of the political circus and lead the change-aspiring energies astray. The issue of political struggle is primarily organizational. Individual forms of confrontation are not irrelevant, however, though they are not sufficient for essential achievements. If organized struggle is lacking, their impact remains as limited as that of stones thrown into a rising river – which only unified efforts can overpower. Organized struggle does not mean the domination of man by organization, if it is based upon self-initiative and if each individual is aware of the fact that the fight for survival of mankind is the issue. It is a challenge compared to which all other issues in dispute become almost insignificant. Among those discussing the “workers issue”, some are unhappy with the conformist behaviour of a considerable part of the working class in the most developed countries. However, that results from its position in the society. That it is not “terminated” as a political subject in the fight against capitalism confirms in the best way the “concern” of the capitalists for the creation of working class (self) conscious and for prevention of its political engagement. In fact, the workers’ discontent is growing and so the forms to confront it are increasingly merciless. The “consumer society” has not only exhausted its own potential for integrating workers into the capitalist world, but it is, itself, disintegrating, and, consequently, the walls of the concentration camp – in which a majority of workers are still kept – are falling down. Regarding American “democracy”, US citizens never had an opportunity to hear the truth about one single issue on which their freedom and destiny depend, and never, as emancipated citizens, took part in defining and implementing the strategy of social development. They live in a world that is a total lie and never had an opportunity for real choice. What will happen when the fence comes down – in a society where no democratic institutions exist to offer the possibility to articulate people’s discontent over the achievement of general social goals?

The prevailing philosophy does not identify the confirmation of the authenticity of its positions in life, but only in philosophy – and so on ad infinitum. It becomes an institutionalized reason alienated from man and thus a vehicle for averting man’s attentions from making key vital decisions – which only assists the ruling order. A phenomenological conceptual vault becomes the way to the creation of the virtual conscious in people’s minds and of the destruction of man’s reasonable relation to the world. The right issue can only be the concrete historical issue. Today, it is the issue of survival. “Traditional” philosophical issues can be discussed exclusively in the context of this basic historical (existential) issue. Otherwise, they turn into the creation of a labyrinth where the reason capable of revealing the destructive tendencies of capitalist development, preventing annihilation of life and winning the cause for a humane world, should disappear. One of the most important tasks of critical theory is to liberate the mind from “traditional” philosophy – which diverts the attention of reason away from concrete existential and essential issues, the solutions of which require radical confrontation with the ruling order and the creation of a new society – which is a privilege of “philosophers” (now reduced to intellectual technicians) and a means for suppressing man’s libertarian struggle: the struggle for freedom (survival) becomes “non-reasonable” activity and consequently loses the legitimacy of an authentic change-aspiring practice. Political engagement indicates the true nature of philosophy – which is just a snail’s shell in which a capitalistically degenerated reason is hiding. It mediates between man and the world facilitating the annihilation of life and of man as reasonable being. The truth is not a suprahistorical fact reachable through science and philosophy alienated from man. It has always been concretely historical, as is, also, the struggle to achieve it: today the truth is survival, and the way to reach it is the struggle for survival. This is the concrete basis of the “will to power” of contemporary man and the criteria for determining the appropriateness of political action.

Critical theory does not hide behind philosophical “objectivism” but has a clear value-based political orientation: it invests efforts for the annihilation of capitalism and is based upon man’s right to life and freedom. It does not attempt to create a new philosophy, but tends to abolish philosophy as a separate sphere that mediates between man and the world and to implement the emancipating legacy of modern society symbolically expressed in the guiding principles of the French Revolution: Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. In classical German philosophy, which shaped the self-conscious of modern man, the notion of reason was related to the notion of freedom. Today reason is not only the basic precondition for freedom, but also for existence: the struggle for reason becomes the struggle for survival.

The critical theory of capitalism should be modernized through the introduction of new notions, having in mind the fact that the trend of the development of capitalism also influences the critique of it. Two key notions should become the basis for the creation of the contemporary critical theory of capitalism: the capitalist destruction of life and, opposed to it, the life-creating human practice. They are dialectically opposed: the totalitarian capitalist destruction of life leads to an integration of humankind based upon a totalizing life-creating practice. If in the past it was still possible to claim that no clear starting point for the foundation and development of the critical theory of society existed, today the increasingly dramatic annihilation of life, meaning the ecocide nature of capitalism, does represent the unifying starting point for both critical thought and change-aspiring (political) practice. This is related to the subjective nature of freedom and to the transformation of the objective potential of freedom, established within civil society, into a realistic potential for the liberation of man. The real significance of struggle is not in achieving some superhuman goal, but in the development of human potential and of the society as a brotherhood community of emancipated individuals who are capable of directly managing their own (social) life. It is not a task for an abstract man, but for every man. Humanity is endangered, for the life of each individual man is directly endangered. Historically, man had a chance to achieve his own humanity through the struggle against tyranny; today, he has a chance to achieve his own humanity, and a chance to survive thereby – by fighting against the ruling life-annihilating order. The readiness to sacrifice his own life for freedom becomes the readiness to offer his life for the survival of humankind.

The capitalist maelstrom of death transforms everything that man created – social institutions, technique, science, economy, education, medicine, art, religion, sport, media – into a vehicle for the operating of capital, which means for the annihilation of life. No social sphere remains man’s ally. There is no one else from whom he could seek help but other men: sociability is an existential imperative. Only now, when he has been left alone in his struggle against capitalism, has man the opportunity to express his own human values, to become the true Man and to transform the world into a community of free people. The most extensive and the most dramatic battle ever fought is in progress: either man will triumph over capitalism, preserve life on this planet and create the world compatible with his own image – or he will be annihilated.

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