Hellenic society was an erotic community par excellence. The erotic affinity between men was one of its most integrative bonds, and the male body in combatant effort was the highest erotic challenge. The Olympic Games were a major erotic manifestation. The clash of the naked bodies in bloody fierceness, with provocative stances and movements, was a dramatic erotic performance and an exceptional erotic stimulus. The fights between naked boys (ephebos) presented a special treat for the spectators: the Olympic Games were a festivity of pederasty. Since the Olympic gods were anthropomorphic and represented the deification of the Hellenes’ qualities and dispositions, it can be assumed that the Olympic Games were a superb erotic spectacle and thus a peculiar “seduction” of the gods. The road to immortality, via “honour”, was paved with a passionate erotic tension.
Praising Hellenic society as an unattainable model for the Modern Age, Coubertin, like many other bourgeois Hellenists, ignores the homosexual and pedophilic “details” from the ancient heritage in order to preserve the picture of an idealized world in which the (petty)bourgeois is to find the highest range of the human and a spiritual refuge. The ancient Olympic Games, as well as the gymnasion and palaestra, were pulsing with unhidden eroticism (which was an extraordinary provocation for sexual fantasies) with which Coubertin tries to deal at all costs by means of his muscular pedagogy (guided by Jesuitism and progressism), and thus sterilize the life force of Hellenic society. In antiquity, physical exercises were not meant to restrain Eros and deal with it, but to stimulate and cultivate it. The arete gymnastike involves control of the instincts, but not a fight with man’s erotic nature, as was the case in Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy”. In gymnasion, the meeting point of the aristocracy, the old courted the young who seduced them with their bodies. Physical exercises were a peculiar foreplay and the highest form of the aristocratic physical agon. Coubertin claims that in Hellenic society “both the old and the young lived in a brotherly community” – but he nevertheless proclaims the view that “brotherhood is for angels and not for people” one of the most important principles of his Olympic doctrine – although he does not say anything about the nature of these relationships. In spite of the hypocrisy involved in the justification of pedophilic relations in antiquity, what is important is that love satisfaction is placed in the context of the development of wider (“friendly”) relations between people. “Romantic relationships” between the members of the aristocracy appear as the highest form of racial and class integration, i.e. as the most direct form of creating an organic unity of the community. The fact that, according to ancient culture, erotic relations are not based on crude, but on a spiritually stimulated sexuality, is of exceptional importance. It is reflected in the dominant model of the body and the movement that are immortalized in sculptures, reliefs and paintings. In spite of giving primary importance to physical strength, the suppleness of the extremities and of the body (and this is the most important distinction between the body of a Hellene and that of a slave – whose body is stiff and graceless) represents the foundation on which the rhythm of the erotic movement is based: what dominates is the dynamics of the body and “softness” of movement. At the same time, a strong and cultivated body is not merely a form of expressing racial exclusivity and racial superiority to the “barbarian peoples”, it is the expression of the final victory of the patriarchal (Olympic) over matriarchal (chthonian) gods.
In antiquity, the erotic impulse is connected with the strivings to shape the body so that it is in harmony with the geometrically constructed cosmos. Hence, “chiseling of the body” in the gymnasium, similarly to the exhibition of naked physical strength on the Olympic playgrounds, has a ritual character. Physical training becomes the form of the pulsation of man’s erotic impulse and the highest form of worshipping the gods, which is one of the foundations of ancient eurhythmics. At the same time, it is the realization of the instinctive in a religious form. In antiquity, man had to be fully incorporated into the cosmos, and physical harmony with the cosmos was the basic presupposition of a spiritual unity with it. Ancient aesthetics appears as a unity of the erotic and the cosmic. Hence harmony becomes the most important erotic challenge. Since the basic task of Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy” is a complete incorporation of man into the existing world, he also emphasizes harmony, in which he sees the “sister of the order”. At the same time, rhythm acquires significant importance, since Coubertin’s conception of “progress” has a dynamic character. It symbolizes the throbbing of the capitalist life pulse and an eternal renewal of its life force that appears as a fateful power.
Coubertin rightly concluded that the Hellene, working on his body, actually worked on his spirit. “Chiseling of the body” becomes a religious ritual through which the ancient principle gnothi seauton is realized. Physical exercises become the way of subjecting (giving) one to the gods – and Coubertin replaces them with the “country” and “flag”. It is an endeavour to deify the established order by worshipping its most important symbols. In modern Olympism there are no anthropomorphic symbols that represent the ruling power of the order, as was the case with the gods in antiquity. That role is assumed by sportsmen, whose body and physical appearance are completely submitted to the nature of the dominant order. Also, in modern Olympism, the cult of the body has nothing to do with a wider religious context, as was the case in antiquity; it is based on Social Darwinist and progressistic spirit of capitalism and is symbolically expressed in Coubertin’s maxim mens fervida in corpore lacertoso. What is dominant is the industrial mimesis and mechanization of the body and in connection with that a combat with Eros and man’s natural needs. Furthermore, in antiquity there was no principle of “greater effort”; the dominant principles were “measure is best” (metron ariston) and “nothing too much” (meden agan), as well as the principle of “beautiful and good” (kalokagathia). In Coubertin, man’s muscular body in a combatant effort, as a symbolic expression of the dominant spirit of capitalism, is the highest erotic challenge. In that context, Coubertin seeks to deal with Eros which directs man to the development of his affective nature and human closeness, and turn that energy into the driving force of “progress”. Unlike the Hellenic world, based on a geometrically constructed cosmos whose power is embodied in the Olympic gods, Coubertin’s world is based on the expansionist power of monopolistic capitalism. To conquer the world and oppress the “weak” are the basic erotic stimuli. A love of the power to kill, as the means of establishing domination over the “weak”, becomes the subs titute for the love of gods as a fateful power. Hence a love of arms, as the highest symbol of the conquering power of the capitalist world, represents the climax of an “erotic” enthusiasm, and arms become the highest sexual symbol (“fetish”). From an early age, sexual desire is directed to an explosive muscular strength, the uniform, horses…Playing with arms replaces playing with the penis.
As far as the relations between sexes in antiquity are concerned, one of the most important arguments against the love for women, which can be found in Plutarch’s treatise on love, is that it is “nothing more but a natural disposition”.(75) Foucault cites Protegen: “Protegen refers to the naturality of the relation between man and woman because he wants to show their imperfection and distinguish those relations from the love for boys which despises those necessities and strives to something much more sublime.”(76) And he continues: “So, there is only one true love, and it is the love for boys; it is true because in it there are no ugly sensual pleasures and because it involves friendship which is inseparably connected with virtue.”(77) Even in ancient Greece, pedophilic demagogy was unmasked. Foucault writes: “Daphne brands the hypocrisy of the pederast. The lover of boys likes to present himself as a philosopher or as a wise man, as if Achilles, all in tears, did not speak of Patrokles’ thighs, as if Solon, speaking of boys in the prime of youth, did not sing about the “velvety softness of their thighs and their lips”… (78) Coubertin rejected both the naturalistically based Eros and the ancient pedophilic doctrine. The relation to the woman shows that in antiquity there existed a difference between a sexual relationship which is supposed to satisfy the senses and the one which is supposed to realize a “higher” relation between people, and which is connected with the idea of spiritual affinity. In Coubertin, there is neither of the two: sexual relation is reduced to the technique of insemination, the senses being included only to the extent and in the way that should enable insemination. As far as the “friendship” based on homosexual affinity is concerned, it could, if we follow Coubertin consistently, be realized in the world of angels, but not among people, since they cannot be “brothers”, but only “rivals”. Coubertin is not a pedophile nor is his erotic disguised in platonic erotology. He does not connect Eros with “chastity”, but with a masculine strength and is delighted with man’s muscular body, military parades, horses and arms… Coubertin abhors “pederast ethics” (Foucault) which, as a higher form of friendship, involves a help in trouble, a sacrifice in fight, care in the old age, the lover’s duty to return love and so on. (79) It is no accident that collective sports are excluded from Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy”. He strove to prevent man from developing a sense of solidarity and closeness between people. An endless greediness and selfishness are the most important qualities of the bourgeois. Coubertin discards the ancient cult of “war friendship” based on the sexual closeness of warriors, symbolized by the relation between Achilles and Patrocles. Eros which is “delighted by combatant virtue and moral discipline” (80) is excluded from the modern Olympic mythology. There is only an eroticized rivalry based on the clash of bodies that symbolize the expansionist power of capitalism. As for the mutual “respect” of “contestants”, it is the respect for the ruling (murderous) power embodied in “rivals”. In antiquity, Eros was supposed to incite a belligerent spirit; in Coubertin, the suppression and mutilation of Eros should result in a “wonderful energy” which should be directed to the instrumentalization of man so that the interests of the ruling “elite” are achieved. The belligerent passion in ancient heroes springs from their passion for living based on a respect for and development of all physical potentials, and not on their crippling. They are not restrained by Coubertin’s petty-bourgeois prejudices and progressistic logic (the absolutized principle of performance, quantification, “the principle of greater effort”, mechanization of the body, etc.), but seek to live their lives to the full – it is short and should be lived as intensively as it is possible – in order to gain “honour” and thus ensure eternity. Coubertin’s erotic energy is not only aggressive, it is (self)destructive since the relation of man to man and the relation of man to himself are mediated by the principle of “greater effort” that does not have any outer or inner boundaries. At the same time, unlike antiquity, Coubertin’s Eros is not a victory over the original disorder, (81) nor is it a return to the original disorder; it is a victory over man’s cultural and natural being.
As we have seen, Coubertin deprived man of the need to love and be loved. From sexual relations not only the emotional enthusiasm is eliminated, but also the enthusiasm of mating that is characteristic of animals – which only indicates the real nature of Coubertin’s “naturalistic” conception. Insemination is carried out by blocking and suppressing man’s erotic nature, and by eliminating imagination. The woman is reduced to the owner of the womb, a peculiar racial (national) incubator, while man is reduced to the owner of the material for insemination and the sexual relation to a sheer insemination technique. Marriage is not the relation of emancipated persons connected with love and a need for a family, but it is an institutionalized bond of reproductive organs: the spouses are reduced to the tools of racial reproduction. Pater familias treats his wife and children as a protector since, according to Coubertin, the woman does not have any human or civil rights. Coubertin does not depart from man (citizen) as a constitutive segment of society, but from the existential interests of the race, whose highest values are embodied in the ruling “elite”.
According to Coubertin, the “Oedipus complex” is not possible. The family is not founded on the need for satisfying sexual desire, but on the need to insure the biological reproduction of the race and create the initial authoritarian structure of society that corresponds to the structure of the animal community and represents a direct connection with it. The family, as the “basic cell of society”, is the basis of the organization of society and the means for destroying the social structure based on sovereignty and equality of the citizens. Since for Coubertin the family is “the natural” basis of social structuring and the foundation of the hierarchy of power, the role of the father as pater familias is of primary importance. The authority of pater familias has a natural and legal character and relies on his physical strength and the order in which that strength ensures the dominant economic position. He is the bearer of the will to power and thus an indisputable master of his wife and children. As far as the relation to wife is concerned, she, as the symbol of “weakness”, does not deserve to be fought for, particularly because the relation of sons to their mother is not based on sexual desire, but on the model of relations dominant in patriarchal society: the woman is the national (racial) incubator and a servant. In Coubertin’s conception, the father and the sons are collaborators, and their rivalry is based on the struggle for a position in the hierarchy of power. Here also we can see that Coubertin is not a consistent Social Darwinist: between the father and the sons there is no fight for sexual domination over the mother (“female”), which is characteristic of the animals. Patricide on the part of the mother and son is not possible, since it symbolizes a revolt of the “weaker” against the indisputable authority of pater familias on which the existing hierarchy of power in society is based. The sons treat their father not only as someone who is stronger then they are, but as a symbolic incarnation of the ruling power. They should not cherish any animosity to their father, since it can be the germ of a revolt against the dominant order: the father is the indisputable master, leader and idol.
Modern Olympism represents an eroticized “cult of the existing world”. It is no accident that Coubertin speaks with great enthusiasm of the French colonial exploits and that he is so delighted with militaristic ceremonies, which are the highest form of the eroticized conquering (oppressive) power of capitalism. Instead of a “love of God”, the highest challenge becomes the love of the laws of evolution, which in the “progress” reach their highest and final form. In Coubertin, the deerotisation of man and the relations between people (sexes) is accompanied with the erotisation of the relation to sport (especially boxing) and sportsmen as the symbolic incarnations of the spirit of capitalism, particularly with the erotisation of the Olympic Games. The rhythmic pulsation of a mystified dominant power appears in the form of militaristic pederasty: rhythmical marching, flags, hysterical euphoria… The Olympic spectacle, with its aggressive choreography, represents a peculiar foreplay, which is meant to stimulate the senses and keep man in the state of erotic tension. The Olympic Games become the superb ritual of giving oneself to the dominant spirit of capitalism, similarly to the ancient Olympic Games, where man was giving himself to the Olympic gods. However, in Coubertin, we see the deerotisation of the ancient physical culture through a Jesuit Puritanism and progressism which involves quantification and the industrial mimesis. Olympism becomes the climax of man’s dehumanization and denaturalization. Coubertin follows the tendency of a “desexualisation of organism that is necessary for a social utilization of organism as the working tool”, (82) and extends it to the bourgeois in order to create the ideal tool for the realization of the expansionist strivings of monopolistic capitalism. The development of the capitalist way of production, which appears in the form of quantification and mechanization of the relations between people and man’s relation to himself, represents the power with which the laws of evolution are “superstructured”. Sport becomes the capitalist form of denaturalizing Social Darwinism.
Coubertin’s “Eros” is close to the phenomenon that Marcuse called “non-repressive sublimation”, in which “the sexual stimuli, without losing their erotic energies, overcome their immediate object and eroticize the normally non-erotic and antierotic relations between individuals, and between them and their surroundings”.(83) However, in spite of Coubertin’s insisting on spontaneity, we here deal with a peculiar coercion, since the “circumstances”, in which the child is to grow up, involve the child being compelled to behave in a particular way. Hence the development of a sado-masochistic character becomes a necessary consequence of the process of sublimation. At the same time, Coubertin appeals to (positive) conscious that should persuade man that the order of violence is indispensable and that it is useless to resist it. One of the most important tasks of sport is to abolish the duality between desires and will, in the context of a forced struggle for domination and survival, and create from man a conflictless personality. In spite of Coubertin’s strivings to abolish the sphere of consciousness and, through sport and physical drill, immerge man into everyday life at the level of the subconscious, (positive) conscious constantly appears as a corrective and an instruction for action. It is due to the fact that social life is not unambiguous and it repeatedly conditions and reproduces man’s need for closeness with other human beings and for freedom.
In Coubertin, what is dominant is not shame and fear, as it was in antiquity, nor is it Eros which demands “self-control, self-restraint and fidelity”. (84) The normative sphere that enables the senses to be kept “in a state of peace and serenity”, not to be a slave of the senses, to “reach that kind of life which is characterized by a complete enjoyment in oneself or a complete control over oneself”, is eliminated. (85) Coubertin insists on a fanatical sado-masochistic activism with which the erotic energy, which directs man to man, is transformed into a conquering (oppressive) activism. It is the creation of the cult of the existing world through an agonal physical activism: through the fight between people for victory by achieving a higher result and through a physical drill based on the principle of “greater effort”. Physical exercises become a combat with sexual fantasy and the direction of imagination to victory and “progress”, which comes down to conquering the world. Physical suffering becomes the form of discharging the erotic energy, a peculiar prolonged orgasm, which is also present in Huizinga, except for the fact that he praises blood, despair, death as an extraordinary erotic challenge. Coubertin’s bourgeois is in the state of constant sexual tension: sexual desire is “realized” through the conquering (oppressive) activism and self-punishing of the body and turns into the chief force of the drive for domination. Sport becomes the way of a systematic suppression of sexual needs and the direction of a “liberated” energy to building a fanatical combatant character oriented against one’s own body and against other people. “The passionate cry” of Coubertin’s Olympic winner becomes the highest form of discharging man’s suppressed erotic being, a peculiar orgasm. Coubertin noticed very well that emotional connection between people questions the fanatical focusing of a sportsman on a given goal. The destruction of genuine relations between people becomes the basic way of creating an asocial fanatic, who is focused on the combat with his original human (natural) needs and on the development of the explosive muscular strength, resulting in the development of a sado-masochistic character. In Coubertin’s “humanism” man becomes to man the object for gratifying the suppressed and degenerated instincts.
Coubertin needs erotic symbolism to integrate people as a race, class and gender at the level of “collective subconscious”. The muscular body in a combatant effort becomes an idealized racial model and a symbol of the expansionist power of capitalism. The swollen muscles of a male, ready to strike, and an unsheathed sword, ready to penetrate the body of the “opponent”, represent the highest erotic symbols. At the same time the swollen muscles of the “master’s body”, ready to conquer the world, become a symbolic incarnation of the phallus in the climax of tension, while sadistic violence becomes the highest form of sexual “intercourse”. Coubertin’s “utilitarian pedagogy” insists on the explosive discharge of the suppressed erotic energy and thus on the transformation of the erotic energy into a murderous power. Coubertin’s relation to boxing indicates the orgasmic character of his conception: “Boxing is the struggle for life, a spectacle of the struggle for life; man carefully chooses his moment, selects the spot and bang! – He strikes his opponent with his fist in which is invested all his strength and determination. What a pleasure! And not to mention the benefit of such an exercise.” (86)
In Coubertin’s doctrine, the gratification of sexual needs is transferred from the field of the (love) relation between man and woman to the field of the fight between men for victory. Instead of a love play between man and woman, Coubertin offers a merciless sports fight between “opponents”; instead of a love passion, Coubertin offers a combatant fanatism and a victorious passion; the frustration resulting from unsatisfied primal needs is the source of energy that, through physical exercises and sport, transforms into an antihuman (sado-masochistic) activism. In Freud’s terms, Coubertin performs the “transferring of instinctive goals”, but the sublimation of the sexual instinct is not executed through labour, (87) but through a combatant activism. Unlike Christianity, which suppresses man’s instinctive nature through his physical passivization and sublimation in the form of an intensive spiritual activism (spiritual onanism), in Coubertin, in the agonal physical activism and physical drill the sexual instinct is fully realized. Sport is a means with which the erotic energy is transformed into an aggressive muscular energy – and becomes the driving force of “progress”.
In Coubertin, we deal with a heterosexual relationship: love of the oppressive power is at the same time man’s giving to that power. It is openly manifested in Coubertin’s principle of “greater effort”, which is reduced to a masochistic torturing of one’s own body. Torturing of one’s own body becomes a peculiar sexual intercourse through giving oneself to the dominant spirit and thus a compensational form of masturbation. Heterosexuality is founded on a sado-masochistic character. The torturing of the “weaker” and masochistic submission to the dominant power are the forms in which a complete (activist) submission of man to the existing order is manifested. Sexual suppression becomes a way of building a masochistic character in the context of deprivation (enduring pain, suffering) as the basic presupposition for the projected result: the suppression of Eros, senses, spirit, imagination becomes the source of the “will to win”. What is typical of Coubertin’s sado-masochistic character is not a “love for the strong and hatred for the weak”, as was the case with the Nazis, (88) but a love for the strong and contempt for the weak, which is expressed in an instrumentalized “mercy”. Hatred is reserved for those of whom Coubertin feels a mortal fear: for the revolutionary proletariat.
Coubertin’s positive bourgeois does not suffer from neuroses, since Coubertin abolished the normative sphere and deprived man of his sexual needs and thus of imagination. Idealizing the ancient world Coubertin concludes that the “present world was happiness”. (89) It already realized what man is striving for, or more precisely, man can strive only for that which has already been realized in the present world. Speaking of dreams Freud concludes: “The Ego, liberated from its ethical bonds, corresponds to all the demands of the sexual instinct, with those which our esthetical upbringing has already convicted, and with those that are opposed to all moral demands of restraint. The instinct for pleasure – libido, as we call it – chooses its object without any barriers, and most often those forbidden.” (90) In Coubertin’s positive world there is no place for imagination, which is the projection of the suppressed. Coubertin’s positive bourgeois dreams only of that which corresponds to “progress” and the interests of the European colonial states. Coubertin, a positivist, abolishes, according to Fromm, Freud’s “greatest discovery”: “the conflict between thinking and being”. (91) In Coubertin, everything occurs “above” man’s nature, and man is by his nature a “lazy animal”. He does not count on his instinctive needs, as is the case in Nietzsche, but on “progress”, as the highest form of evolution. The human nature is determined by the nature of the capitalist order: the bourgeois is the highest form in the development of civilization and is thus the embodiment of capitalist “progress”. The unequivocality and unambiguity of “progress” conditions also the unequivocality and unambiguity of the nature of positive man in which everything is in functional unity and who is at the same time in functional unity with “progress”. This is the essence of Coubertin’s eurhythmics. Coubertin tries to deal with the civilizatory barriers that hinder the “combatant instinct”, which means the instinct for domination and possession. It has for Coubertin the same importance that Eros has in Freud – as the expression of the life energy and the basis of man’s survival. Coubertin does not try to “tame” the destructive instinct, direct it towards other objects and give Ego the power over nature, but to develop greediness in man (the bourgeois) and thus develop his instinct for domination and possession. In Coubertin’s evolutionary and progressistic conception there is no place for Freud’s destructive instinct, which “acts in every living being and whose final aim is to reduce living things to an inorganic state“. (92) Since Coubertin’s “progress” expresses the unstoppable course of evolution of the living world and since man is the highest form in its development, there is no instinct in it that strives to reduce life to the original conditions of inorganic matter, but there burns a life force manifested in the form of the “will to power”. By abolishing the destructive instinct, Coubertin abolished the conflict between Eros and Thanatos. As for man’s “lazy” animal nature, it is not a contrast, but the basis for the development of his conquering-oppressive character. Coubertin rejects Freud’s “principle of Nirvana”, and thus the “narcissistic Eros, the first stage of every erotic and aesthetical energy,” which according to Marcuse, “seeks above all to reach tranquility”… It is a tranquility in which the senses can perceive and hear only that which is suppressed in everyday work and leisure, that in which we can really see, hear and sense what we are and what things are”. (93) Coubertin’s “overman” is dominated by tension which is conditioned by a ruthless crippling of man’s personality and by the tasks that the expansionist capitalism poses before the bourgeois: he is a fanatic seized by the desire for conquering and getting rich. As far as death is concerned, it is the condition of a rebirth of the life force of order. “Progress” is eternal – man is transient and his life is meaningful only if it contributed to its development. He, as an individual, disappears in the abstract “mankind”, which appears as a sheer tool of “progress” with which it removes all the barriers on its path.
Coubertin’s doctrine is basically close to Freud’s conception, which reduces civilization to the repression of instincts, and it derives from the “eternal primordial struggle for survival …that continues up to the present day”. In Freud, the reason for society to restrict the instinct is economical: since society “does not have enough resources to ensure life to its members if they do not work, it must try to reduce the number of the members and direct their energies from their sexual activities to their work”. (94) In Coubertin, what is dominant is not the struggle of society for survival, but the struggle between individuals, classes and races for survival. Not to ensure survival through work, but to ensure the dominant position of the parasitic classes and an increase in their wealth through their plundering the working ”masses” – this is the starting point of Coubertin’s doctrine. The repression of instincts is not based on economic reasons (“deprivation”), but results from the need to develop in the parasitic classes a tyrannical character. The authority in society is not constituted on the division of labour, but on the laws of evolution which enable the strong to rule, and the weak to submit. Coubertin does not depart from civilization, but seeks to return mankind to the state of “nature” without any civilizatory norms that restrain the tyranny of the rich “elite” over the working “masses”, the relation between people being mediated by a Jesuit Puritanism and a dehumanized technique. Coubertin argues for an unrestricted action of the instincts, but it must appear in the form of a ruthless combatant character and a conquering practice. It is the repression of the manifestation of instincts which would make a man closer to other men, and the direction of the manifestation of the instincts to the struggle of men (the strong, the bourgeoisie) with other men (the weak, the workers). Coubertin seeks to abolish all the norms and institutions that restrain the conquering (oppressive) character of the bourgeois, as well as the relations and norms that enhance the realization of the instincts in the form of the development of human relations, which means the sense of solidarity, friendship and love. The repression of primal needs is the most important means for the development of a sado-masochistic character of the bourgeois, greediness becoming a compensation for the unrealized primal needs. In Coubertin, the restrictions of the instinct are not imposed by deprivation and work, as is the case in Freud, but by greediness that sucked in man’s instinctive structure and turned it into the need for domination. He does not associate satisfaction with the gratification of the sexual instinct, but with the satisfaction of the instinct for acquiring and oppressing. In Coubertin, the members of the parasitic classes have an animal nature not because of their sexual instinct, but because of greediness as their life imperative that derives from Social Darwinist structure of society, which means that their survival is based on grabbing. It is the foundation of the impulse for acquiring and mastering. In greediness man’s animal nature experienced a qualitative leap by virtue of the capitalist principle of “progress”: the bourgeois is a capitalistically mutated beast. Sport and physical drill, which are based on the principle of “greater effort”, are the most important means for transforming the “lazy” animal nature into an activist-greedy nature and for creating the “master race”. As far as progress is concerned, it is not based on labour, but on a ruthless struggle for survival and domination between the races, in which the white race has acquired the qualities that make it “superior” to the “colored” races and that enabled it to become, in the form of the “white” bourgeoisie, the highest and final form in the development of the living world. From it follows that “progress” is possible only as further “perfectioning” of the rich and plundering “elite”, which becomes the basis for the “perfectioning of mankind”.
Like Coubertin, Freud deprived man from the need for and the capability of loving and reduced him to a murderer, sadist, beast… Freud: “A small part of a readily denied truth, hiding behind all this, is that man is not a meek being who needs love and can defend himself when attacked, but that because of his instincts he must be considered strongly inclined to aggression. Therefore a fellow man represents not only a possible assistent and a sexual object, but also a temptation to satisfy on him his aggression, to use his labour without compensation, to sexually abuse him without his consent, to appropriate his property, to humiliate him, to injure him, to torture and kill him. Homo homini lupus. Does anyone have the courage to reject this saying after all the life and historical experiences? As a rule, cruel aggression looks for a provocation, or employs some thoughts whose end could be achieved by milder means. In favourable circumstances, when the spiritual counter-forces that restrain it are removed, the spontaneous is manifested, and man is exposed as a wild beast that cannot spare its own species. Whoever remembers the horrors of migrations, the invasions of the Huns, the so called Mongols under Jingis Khan and Timur Lenk, the siege of Jerusalem by pious Crusaders, and the atrocities of the last World War, must before the truthfulness of this view humbly bow his head.” (95) The psychological portrait of the members of the parasitic classes, which corresponds to the nature of the ruling and plundering order, becomes the criterion for determining the “true” human nature. To make things even more bizarre, Freud did not only reduce man to a pathological psychological prophile of the members of the parasitic classes, but did the same thing with animals. Coubertin is close to Freud: aggression is man’s natural need and by it he achieves unity with his natural being. However, while Freud in the aggressive drives that are deeply connected with sexuality sees a constant threat to the survival of civilization and compels the culture to “mobilize all possible enforcement” against them, (96) in Coubertin, the creation of the state of nature, in which the “law of the stronger” and natural selection freely operate, becomes the most stable existential state of mankind: in it, the order and progress are in complete and undisturbable unity. For Freud, capitalism is “the highest and most developed form of social structure”; for Coubertin, capitalism is the highest form in the development of the animal world, and its “perfectioning” is reduced to the elimination of the emancipatory heritage that can jeopardize its free development and to the creation of a “civilized” menagerie in which culture is abolished. According to Coubertin, it is precisely the unlimited aggression that enables capitalism to survive.
Freud does not make any difference between civilization and culture and regards culture as a repressive normative mechanism that keeps man’s aggressive nature under control, and not as a possibility of cultivating man’s instinctive nature and developing his specific nature. Speaking of Freud, Fromm concludes that “the key notion of his system is control”. (97) Fromm has in mind the social (political) character of Freud’s theory: “The psychological notion corresponds to social reality. Just as in society the minority rules the majority, so the psyche should be controlled by ego and superego. The danger of the penetration of the subconscious carries with it the danger of a social revolution. Suppression is a repressive, authoritarian form of protection of the internal and outer status quo. It is, undoubtedly, the only way of resisting the social changes. But threatening with force, in order to avert “danger”, is necessary only in authoritarian systems, where the protection of status quo represents the highest aim.” (98) By reducing man’s nature to the aggressive and destructive nature of capitalism, Freud’s theory opens the door to establishing totalitarism. The survival of society is possible only if there are repressive social institutions that can efficiently hold man under control. By the development of capitalist destruction, which gives rise to man’s ever more aggressive and destructive behaviors, there is a need to increase repression over man. Instead of man’s “positive” energy being directed to eradicating the causes of the destructive behavior, it is directed to creating from “society” a concentration camp of capitalism – which is the basic generator of destruction. Speaking of the contradictoriness of Freud’s theory, Marcuse concludes: “But, Freud shows again that this repressive system really does not resolve the conflict. Civilization falls into a destructive dialectic: constant restraints of Eros eventually weaken the life drives and thus strengthen and liberate the same powers against which they have been ’mobilized’ – the powers of destruction.” (99) Coubertin regards the aggressive instincts in the same way as Freud, but instead of arguing for their restriction, he argues for their free realization: they become the chief “anthropological” means for a combat with man’s culture and his creative being. Coubertin, like Nietzsche, sees in the restriction of the aggressive instincts a weakening of the life force of the ruling class which consists in a tyrannical will to power, which is the basic integrative force of society and the bearer of progress. In Coubertin, there is a confrontation between instincts and civilization in so far as civilization with its norms and institutions frustrated man’s most important instinct: the instinct for conquering and domination. The main task of the Olympic doctrine and practice is to eliminate all the barriers that hinder the development of the will to power of the new “master race”. Coubertin is not against repression, but he is against the repressive institutions which, at the time of the “rise of the masses”, restrict the self-willedness of the ruling class and thus weaken their will to power – which Coubertin identifies with the life force. He opts for a direct confrontation of the “elite” with the “masses”, when the instinct for domination will be fully realized – as the privilege of the “master race”. In Coubertin, life force, in the form of aggressive instincts, becomes the power that breaks the bonds of culture and leads man to the destruction of everything human. Coubertin seeks to create a civilization without culture, or more precisely, a civilization from which everything that can cultivate man has been eliminated. In that sense, Coubertin argues for the elimination of all the obstacles that restrain man’s instinctive nature and for the realization of man’s complete unity with his instinctive nature, in which the instinct for domination is indisputably prevalent. At the same time, by insisting on “progress”, Coubertin introduced into his conception the power that offers the possibility of controlling nature and the workers, but at the same time represses and degenerates the instincts since their realization is mediated by the absolutized principle of performance. Man’s life energy, which is based on his instinctive nature, is transposed to science and technique, the main tools of the fatal “progress”, and becomes the means for destroying life. The conflict between Id and Ego becomes the form in which Superego, as the embodiment of the expansionist spirit of monopolistic capitalism, destroys man’s instinctive and cultural being. In that context, Coubertin’s conception does not know of Freud’s “uneasiness in culture” since it deals both with culture and man’s erotic being: it represents the “overcoming” of incest and all other forms of sexual intercourse.
Departing from Freud’s conception of the structure of personality, it could be, only conditionally, said that Coubertin’s “lazy” animal nature corresponds to Id, and that the conquering and oppressive character represents Ego – which is under control of Superego as the embodiment of “progress” in man, and which directs Ego to deal with his instinctive nature in order to obtain energy that it will transform into a tyrannical practice. However, in Coubertin, Superego does not have a normative nature and does not appear in man as a moral conscious (conscience), but derives from the life “circumstances” and affects man through the logic of relations based on the principle “might is right” and natural selection. Since Coubertin abolished history by “progress” and placed the past and future at the same time level, Superego is not based on the confrontation between past and future, especially not on the confrontation between necessity and freedom, since freedom is impossible. Speaking of the sense of guilt which is expressed as a “need for punishment”, Freud says: “Thus, civilization acquires primacy over the individual’s dangerous desire for aggression by making him weaker and disarming him through a mediator, within himself, who supervises him, just as a garrison supervises a seized town.” (100) Coubertin exempted the bourgeois from responsibility for his (criminal) acts, and from the moral conscious (conscience), and thus abolished the possibility of Freud’s “transformation of destructiveness into a self-punishing conscious”. (101) Masochism of his “positive man” does not result from a need for self-punishing, but from a need to “subdue” his “lazy” animal nature that is an obstacle to “progress”.
Coubertin is not a “pacifist” like Freud – who, in his letter to Einstein, says that pacifists possess a “constitutional intolerance for war”, (102) which means that they manage to suppress their instincts – but sees in war the highest form of natural selection on which “progress” and the “perfectioning” of the white race are based. As for the following Christian ideas : “people are brothers”, “love thy neighbors”, their resistance to violence (“Do not kill!”), doing good as the highest human challenge, and especially that man is essentially a “divine being”, which means that he is entitled to dignity and respect independently of his race and social status – they are for Coubertin sheer nonsense. Starting from the principle of natural selection and “might is right”, Coubertin’s most important precept is: attack thy neighbors, especially if he is weaker than you! “On the sports field, there are no friends, only enemies” – this is one of the “golden rules” of sport underlying Coubertin’s Olympic doctrine. Sport is a preparation for war and everything should serve the development of a ruthless combatant character and a fanatical conscious. Coubertin regards the attempt to pacify the (bourgeois) youth as the worst of crimes, particularly if it involves the development of man’s affective nature and the relations between people based on that nature. Now it becomes clear why, in Coubertin, just as in the bourgeois philosophy, love play is never mentioned. It is not only that, as Fromm says, by “experiencing love the need for illusions is eliminated”, (103) but love questions the mechanism with which the erotic energy is transformed into aggressive behavior creating a ruthless combatant character. Coubertin was well aware that love returns man to his erotic being and destroys a belligerent fanatism (“combatant motivation”) with which he tries to poison it. He attacks girls because of their “seductive behavior”, since the sexual energy of the bourgeois youth is directed to the woman and thus the fanatical focusing on the conquering (oppressive) activism is being destroyed. It is in that context that we should understand Coubertin’s firm resistance to the participation of women at public competitions, as well as to games between boys and girls.
In Coubertin, the ruling class is the exclusive bearer of the will to power and thus of progress, which means that it experiences the expansion of the aggressive instinct and thus the eruption of libido. The working ”masses” are at the mercy of the exhausting labour that weakens their instincts and thus their life force, making them ever more dependent on the bourgeois “will to power”, in spite of the fact that they are the bearers of reproductive processes and that they acquire knowledge that makes them superior to their masters. That is why sport is a way of “disciplining” the workers and at the same time the means for the development of the bourgeois conquering (oppressive) character. Unlike many other bourgeois “humanists”, Coubertin does not instruct man to escape from suffering, but expects him to find “happiness” in enduring injustice and flattering his masters. In that context, he relies on the Christian man, who regards the torturing of the body as the highest form of “victory” over his natural being. Seeking to deify the existing world of injustice and destroy man’s resistance to it, Coubertin made the “pleasure” in suffering the highest principle of his social theory: the creation of a masochistic character in the oppressed is one of the most important aims of his “utilitarian pedagogy”. All that appears as a possibility of developing resistance to the unjust world becomes in Coubertin’s theory a means for integrating man into the existing world.
Finally, it should be said that it is not only the fear of the working “masses” that gave rise to Coubertin’s hysterical aggressivity. His dwarf-like stature, squeaking voice, a severe debacle in the military academy (St.-Cyr) due to his physical inferiority, and most importantly, his fear of women, all that influenced the formation of his pathological relation to the “weaker”. Unable to resort to the phallus, Coubertin, like Nietzsche, resorts to the whip.