1. The latest anti-humanism and the fate of the Renaissance-individualist conception of man
2. The adversary culture and the consumer society
Bibliography (Quoted Literature)
Name index


1. The Latest Anti-Humanism and the Fate of the Renaissance-Individualist Conception of Man

In an attempt to get to the bottom of the latest moods, the religiously oriented French thinker Jean-Marie Domenach draws attention to one circumstance that impressed him: the stepped-up "offensive against humanism" being accomplished by a great many members of the humanitarian intelligentsia, is taking place only in the "highly developed democratic societies of the West", that is, in the capitalist countries that have entered on the so-called consumer society phase. The intelligentsia in other countries are not showing any inclination to join such an offensive; on the contrary, they are inclined to interpret even the above-mentioned 'anti-humanist' tendencies in a 'humanist' spirit, giving them a fundamentally different meaning in the context of their own problems–a fact which has resulted in countless theoretical or ideological aberrations. Domenach therefore concludes that Western civilisation's desire, so impressive to outside observers, to reject its own principles, is, first, a purely Western phenomenon, and, secondly, reflects a very definite phase in the evolution of the capitalist West known as the affluent society, or the consumer society, and characterised by certain shifts in technology and economy, and also in the social and political spheres. These shifts now threaten to change the whole image of the traditional "liberal democracies''.

Accentuating a whole complex of reasons for the trend in Western civilisation (especially in France) towards the destruction and liquidation of the principles which lie at its very foundations–such he considers exactly the principles of widely understood humanism–Domenach 268 nevertheless isolates the causes of a spiritual order from this complex and moves them into the foreground. This is certainly not because he is negating the impact of human existence on the consciousness of individuals. He allows for that impact and agrees with the French phenomenologist Dufrenne, according to whom "before coming to the thought of the death of man, our age has experienced that death". Dufrenne, like Domenach, means Hitler's death camps, genocide, famine and poverty in the developing countries, the threat of mankind's extinction by a nuclear war and so on. However, the French author rightly supposes that cause and effect may change places in the `` totality'' of the historical process; and the idea of the "end of man", which originated in the nightmares created by the national-socialist regimes in Europe, could acquire a tendency to ``self-propulsion'', aiding the dehumanisation of man under the new conditions that set in after the collapse of those regimes. This is what, in Domenach's opinion, has happened: under the contemporary industrial societies of the West, the ideology of anti-humanism continues in its own way the "liquidation of man" that had been put on a practical footing by fascism. Both in culture and in life, there is the active affirmation of what to the predecessors of contemporary anti-humanism seemed perhaps to be merely a grievous fact.

If we look at Domenach's picture of the crisis of bourgeois civilisation, now developed into the crisis of a Western culture which has turned against itself and against its own most fundamental prerequisites, it must be acknowledged that this picture is very close to the truth. On this score it would be hard to disagree with the author of the article, although many additions or corrections could be made. Doubt concerning the accuracy of Domenach's theories arises over an entirely different point, that is, when he tackles the interpretation of this picture and undertakes to explain the roots of what is happening today, roots which go deep into the West European cultural tradition. Here we must remember what is characteristic of Domenach (and of the whole tendency of Christian humanism)–the fusion of two different concepts which seem to exclude each other from the viewpoint of their specific social-historical content: Christianity and humanism.

It is for precisely this reason that Domenach's idea about the historical roots of the contemporary crisis in Western culture is, as it were, dual. In one case, he bluntly affirms that the cause of this crisis is the drying up of Western culture's Christian well-springs, from which it drew its principles, ideals and values. In the other case, however (especially when he is dealing with specific manifestations of the present crisis), it turns out that he considers the cause of the crisis to have been the exhaustion of the " Renaissance image" of man, for he takes at face value what is said about the "end of man" by the very theorists who proceed from the above-mentioned image as the fundamental prerequisite and who in principle offer no possibilities of a different human image. According to Domenach, then, the end of Christianity proves also to be the end of humanism (both in the broadly figurative and in the narrow, specifically historical sense), and the end of humanism (in both senses, so often interchangeable at each given moment) is also the end of Christianity.

Aware that something is not quite right here, Domenach tries to convince the reader that there is a special kinship between Christianity and humanism. This kinship, if not given initially, was at any event historically found during the post-Renaissance evolution of European culture. He considers that there was a break with Renaissance1 humanism in the 18th century and a new "reformed humanism" of the Enlightenment arose which was not so alien and hostile to Christianity as its ``unreformed'' predecessor. Apart from the fact that this in no way solves the problem of the part of humanism left unreformed, another problem arises. Was not the humanism of the Enlightenment inwardly split in two as a result of this reformation? Did not one of its tendencies, as before, lead towards the tradition of the unreformed Renaissance (so that the latter continued even during the Enlightenment) while the other was, as it were, pacified in the stream of Christianity (which was the beginning of Christian humanism)? In a word, did not Renaissance humanism and Christianity continue fighting for precedence throughout the whole of the modern age? A positive answer to these questions suggests itself, all the more so that, according to Domenach's own theory, humanism, which arose in a half-heathen and half-Christian context (would it not be more accurate to speak of a compromise, resulting from a balance of forces, between the heathen principle of humanism and the Christian medieval principle?), took the form of a purely atheist doctrine by the beginning of the 18th century.

One source of the illusions entertained by Christian humanists like Domenach was evidently that a historical compromise between the heathen humanist and the Christian medieval means of explaining man and human personality, a compromise that reflected the weakness and not the strength of the new aspiration, was taken by them as a fundamental possibility of combining these two mutually exclusive approaches to man. For this reason, Domenach does not even want to notice that, having gained impetus, Renaissance bourgeois humanism was under an absolute necessity to discard any thought of compromise with Christianity and adopt the form of an increasingly consistent and far-reaching atheism–that is, in the final analysis, a form not of 'atheism', but of 'anti-theism'. That, incidentally, is what happened to Sartre, Camus, Beckett, lonesco, Barthes, Foucault, Levi-Strauss and the New Left who belong, in this sense, to the same line, the evolution of Renaissance bourgeois humanism right up to its transition to its own opposite: the ideology of the ``end'' of the human personality.

Needless to say, the quarrel between atheism and Christianity could be considered as taking place "on common ground"; after all, the subject of the controversy is God, he is the "common ground", over which the swords of radically opposing outlooks on life are crossed. It may then be possible to claim, like Domenach, that even the offensive on Christianity by such anti-Christians as, say, Freud and Sartre, was launched in the name of Christian values. Moreover, in this case it is possible to try and separate the sheep from the goats, presenting Sartre's outlook as "still humanism" and the Theatre of the Absurd as "already anti-humanism". All this is with the sole aim of avoiding the unavoidable conclusion that bourgeois humanism (in the exact Renaissance individualist sense of this word which, as it transpires, remained predominant all through post-Renaissance history) at a definite stage of its development becomes its own opposite, for such a conclusion should have made Domenach retract and separate the word ``humanism'' from the adjective ``Christian''.

Contrary to what Domenach thinks, the line being developed in 20th-century Western culture in conformity with the idea of the "end of man"–from the avant-gardism at the beginning of our century and the sociologised Freudianism of Wilhelm Reich, through Andre Breton's Surrealism and Antonin Artaud's Theatre of Cruelty right up to Lacan's neo-Freudianism, the Structuralism of Roland Barthes and the "barbarism of counter-culture"2–is not so radically opposed to the principles of Renaissance individualist humanism. For at the very foundations of this idea lies the Renaissance image of man.

Not seeing any representatives of this type of personality about them (such a personality no longer exists and in extreme cases it occurs only as a 'parody' of itself, either comic, or terrifying), contemporary bourgeois "Renaissance men" came to the conclusion that the idea of personality in general had collapsed. Since they took this conclusion as a postulate not subject to criticism, as "absolute authenticity", these bourgeois "Renaissance men" turned into anti-humanists, not only in Domenach's sense, but also in the more precise meaning of this word. Moreover, they inevitably proved to be nihilists, since they based their arguments on ``nothing'' (the "negative absolute")–the absence or negation of everything human and personal.

At this point, something happened that became the source of yet another illusion for Domenach. The representatives of contemporary anti-humanism, as despairing but not unrepentant bourgeois "Renaissance men", turned into nihilists and began to absolutise their own rejection of personality, now seen by them as something utterly middle-class, selfish. For that reason, beginning with the ideologists of ``hippyism'' in the 50s (if we discount their predecessors on this point, the Surrealists of the 20s), the contemporary anti-humanists are treating as Public Enemy No. 1, the principle of the ego, of the person in general (to use a term conveying a wider meaning of personality than that used by the Renaissance men) and are calling for a "great revolution" against it in order to replace it with the impersonal principle, the Freudian 'id',3 and, moreover, not ``outside'' man but ``within'', in the soul of each, so that he no longer has anywhere to hide from triumphant Anonymity.

Within the general anti-humanist current of those hostile to the Renaissance image of personality and to the personal principle as such–with their constant "mutual transformation"–it was this coalition that led Christian thinkers like Domenach to the false conclusion that a real prospect had arisen again in the 20th century for the fusion of humanist and Christian aspirations.

As regards our own times, two quite obviously contradictory factors argue in favour of this prospect: first, that the Christian church today, and especially Catholicism, appeals to humanist principles, whereas atheism, or, more correctly, anti-theism, proceeds from anti-humanist positions; secondly, that in Domenach's opinion the controversy between the Christians and the Marxists is now flagging and, furthermore, there have been signs of "a sort of common front between Christians and Marxists for the defence of traditional values, culture, work, the nation,, the family". 4 However, without mentioning that the defence of these "traditional values" certainly does not mean,. for the Marxists, a transfer to Christian positions (a disconcerting fact for Domenach, testifying that atheism in our time does not always emerge from anti-humanist positions), he fails to account for one more vital factor.

Marxism does not in the least rely solely on the ``Renaissance'' model of personality. It has assimilated the tradition of "critical Utopian socialism" that goes back in its turn to the social-critical aspirations of Greek antiquity, and sought for original forms of human collectivity, the new impulse to which was given by Lewis Henry Morgan with his book, 'Ancient Society' (1877). On this basis, Marxist teaching on society arrives at a much more universal model of personality then the Renaissance-individualist and bourgeois-humanist one. In this sense, Domenach's reference to Marxism does absolutely nothing toprove his thesis about the common ground between Christianity and humanism. To substantiate his thesis, Domenach should have referred to the humanist tradition in a more precise and definite sense of the word, excluding its figurative use as a synonym of ``humanity'' in general.

In this case, there is profound disillusion in store for Domenach. Each definition of humanism will limit and negate it (in conformity with Spinoza's "Every definition is negation"), and not only in the logical, but in the specifically historical sense of the word. Indeed, even if we overcome the narrow Renaissance understanding of humanism, taking it back to ancient Hellenic-Roman sources, the historic content of this conception still proves to be limited, so to speak, at both ends. On the one hand, it is obvious that, in ancient times, humanism could never have joined up with Christianity, which was an alternative to the humanist version of ``humanisation'' rather than its ally and, therefore, Domenach's efforts (and those of all the Christian humanists of personalist orientation) fail to tie humanism and Christianity together at a point of departure somewhere in the depths of time. On the other hand, and no less saddening (at any event, for the abovementioned prospect outlined by the French personalist) is the situation at the final stage in the evolution of humanism–first, Hellenic-Roman, then Renaissance–that is in the 20th century. For however paradoxical this may be, the latest, contemporary form of this humanism in the West (Hellenic-individualist and bourgeois) simply proves to be the anti-humanism of Max Ernst, Wilhelm Reich, Antonin Artaud, Jean-Paul Sartre, Beckett, Robbe-Grillet, Barthes, Foucault, Marcuse and the ideologists of counterculture–all those whom Domenach quite rightly describes as members of the general atheist-nihilist trend, with certain far from convincing reservations made for Sartre.

Apart from the fact that the atheism of the above-mentioned representatives of this trend (which is now a consistent form of anti-theism, a tendency to become a religion of Non-being, or Negation) dates back to the atheist doctrine of the 18th century, which Domenach himself, in his turn, derives from humanism, there is another circumstance in favour of the thesis put forward here. It concerns the fact, already noted by us, that the theorists of Western 20th-century anti-humanism were so conditioned, so tied together, so enslaved by the Renaissance-individualist conception of personality that they were prepared to come to terms with the idea of the total liquidation of the personal principle and, having come to terms with it, were even ready to try and extract some kind of advantage for themselves from the conclusion rather than reject the conception for another, broader, more universal idea of personality.

This last circumstance is illustrated above all by the adherence of contemporary Western anti-humanists to the principle of "unlimited self-realisation" at all costs, for which European culture is indebted to Renaissance-individualist humanism. Having seen the absolute limit of their possibilities (in the sense of immeasurable and infinite self-realisation at all costs), the desperate " Renaissance men" of the 20th century nevertheless tried to find a means of accomplishing them. With a new policy of burning what they had worshipped, they found by this means the desired prospect of ``self-fulfilment'', achieved with total Renaissance immoderation and uninhibitedness. What could not be accomplished in positive form–as cultural creation along the lines of the Renaissance traditions, is now being accomplished in a negative manner by the dismantling of culture in the West, by the deeper and deeper destruction of the ideals and values on which that culture is founded. Anti-humanism, therefore, turns out to be bourgeois Renaissance humanism which has altered course and having changed culture into anti-culture, is moving, as it were, in reverse.

This movement backward, incidentally, was provoked by the heathen naturalism at the basis of "Renaissance humanism", so that even at this point, contemporary Western anti-humanism has certainly not broken with the Renaissance tradition, but has simply given free rein to something that, like Tyutchev's ``chaos'', was undoubtedly ``stirring'' somewhere under the surface, making its presence known only at nights.

Not a dialectical return to the past, in order–on a new turn of the spiral–-to realise in the light of the new possibilities what was preserved as an unaccomplished possibility in the past (making this past a living enigma and a life-giving mystery for later times); not a creative dialogue of present with past, which therefore still lives for us, because it is not yet exhausted by us and still takes part in our definition of today's prospects–but something entirely and fundamentally different: the liquidation of today so as to return to yesterday, the liquidation of yesterday so as to return to the day before yesterday, and so on, and so on. That is the road of contemporary antihumanism which, as we see, is carrying on with capitalist civilisation's task in destroying the culture of the West.

2. The Adversary Culture and the Consumer Society

Domenach's continual appeals to representatives of the anti-Christian and, at the same time, anti-humanist branch of non-Marxist criticism of capitalist civilisation absolves us from the need to describe in detail this version of contemporary Western anti-bourgeois thought. Moving step by step towards a conclusion about the historical exhaustibility of the personal principle in the present era and, with this conclusion, beginning their retrospective (if not retrograde) movement, the nihilistically aligned critics of capitalism arrive with logical inevitability at what Marx even as a young man called "barrack-room Communism". Everything written by him about this "crude Communism" is applicable to these critics: "This type of Communism–since it negates the 'personality' of man in every sphere–is but the logical expression of private property, which is this negation."5

However, another question arises: why did this primitive idea, as Marx put it, emerge and acquire the character of an extremely widespread intellectual trend precisely among those "masters of culture" of the capitalist West whom Domenach calls its most refined and sophisticated representatives? Or, to put this question more broadly, not on the cultural-historical plane just examined by us, but more in specific social-historical and sociological terms–; what is the social nature of the cultural crisis evoked in the West by the anti-humanist and nihilistic aspirations that have arisen in its midst? For what social-historical :reasons is this culture turning against itself?

As is testified by the relevant stream of literature in Western Europe and the USA, this question is beginning to trouble the professional sociologists as well. More and more often they are trying to account for the crisis in their own terms, its existence no longer being a matter of doubt. Of particular interest is an attempt at a sociological interpretation of the crisis by Daniel Bell, a well-known American sociologist and a co-inventor of the now fashionable conception of the "post-industrial society".6 Bell describes the cultural crisis of the West as the simultaneous expression and fermentation of the general crisis of capitalism.7 All this is being discussed by a man who is certainly no Marxist, but who, on the contrary, is trying to find an ``alternative'' to Marxist-Leninist teaching.

What first catches the attention is that to some extent Bell is taking an even gloomier view than Domenach of the situation that has developed in the culture of the capitalist West as a result of the growing nihilistic ( antihumanist and anti-cultural) tendencies in it. Bell presumes that it is not simply a matter of a tendency within West European culture–``modernistic'' since the beginning of the 20s and ``neo-modernist'' from the beginning of the 60s–but of a whole independent culture–as distinct from the traditional one, and in order more precisely to plot its course, he calls it the "adversary culture". Bell is deeply convinced that this last has already won a total victory over traditional Western culture; in this sense avant-gardism no longer exists as a trend–irrespective of whether it is modernist or neo-modernist–for, according to Bell, the whole culture has become avant-garde. An avant-garde adversary culture is replacing the traditional one: its dominating role in social changes is becoming universally acknowledged. As for the official bourgeois culture, says Bell, it is no longer capable of resisting the adversary culture, it cannot set up anything more or less meaningful in opposition to it. This process certainly did not take place solely in the so-called ``high'' or ``elitist'' culture. Bell's own impression is that the champions of the adversary culture were able to extend their influence as far as the wider institutional sphere of culture: publishing houses, newspaper offices, museums, picture galleries, theatres, film studios, finally gaining access to the universities–the mass student auditorium. In the most precise sense, the contemporary avarit-gardist in the West had already ceased to be a "lone wolf" or an "unrecognised genius"; he is the representative of the ruling, though ``adversary'' culture, a situation that threw a shadow of profound ambiguity on his ``revolutionism'' and "non-conformism''.

Obviously exaggerating the successes of the adversary culture, for which he has little sympathy, Bell speaks of the modernist movement's victory not only over the culture of the West, but over bourgeois society as a whole. The modernist movement led to the domination of the adversary culture, which had received the right to deny that society and whose right to deny was recognised, although,. as Bell emphasises, the shift in the balance of forces ( culture and anti-culture) certainly did not bring changes in the social and political structure of the capitalist West.

The social causes of this peculiar victory of the modernist movement, according to Bell, are associated with the fact that together with the general growth in the number of intellectuals working in "culture production", the former outcast avant-gardists had become a whole ``class''. This class, says Bell, even if it did not come to power, was at least the "dominating influence" in the culture industry and mass communications, marking them with the "stamp of its own modernist anti-bourgeois, Bohemian antiphilistine ideology.

The most important feature of this ideology is that from the very first steps of the modernist movement, it offered itself as an alternative to religion and, moreover, as the only possible form in our time of religiosity: anti-theistic,. and establishing itself on the corpse of the "dead god''.8 In this sense that ideology is realisation, accomplished in parody fashion (and perhaps possible only in that way) of two 19th-century ideas: St. Simon's idea of replacing religion with art and, to the extent to which religion has moral content, of ethics by aesthetics; and the Romantic and consequently the artist is the most adequate representative (and carrier, and ``personifier'' in his image and mode of life) of 'Truth in its ultimate stage'.

And, indeed, as the masters of culture (more simply, functionaries of culture production) began to number hundreds of thousands, and even millions and as, correspondingly, the Bohemian mode of life ceased to be exclusive and became the 'modus vivendi' of "many, too many" of the personnel employed in the capitalist culture industry, the modernist mood began to be taken in a religious spirit. 'The distribution of the modernist mood in the artistic and iringe milieu was felt by many to indicate the incontrovertiMlity of the principles on which it was founded, their absolute authenticity. Modernism was becoming an object of faith and missionary aspirations, an "institutionalised form" in which this particular type of anti-theist religiosity was cast, and so became the adversary culture.9

The 'God' of this new religion from the very beginning was, and still is, 'Negation'. An invariable trend of avantgardist Negation was its globalisation, or absolutisation. However, from time to time Negation is ``concretised'', latching on to various objects. First, on to ``philistinism'' and the "philistine civilisation" in general (whence the avant-garde war of extermination on the public as representative of the ``Philistine'', the ``Square'', etc.); now on to the ``masses'' and "mass society" (hence the avant-gardists' struggle with the ``Mob'', even going as far as suspicion of the herd instinct, of all those who tend to gather in numbers of more than three, so that the struggle degenerates into the negation of all human contacts). Secondly, on to ``alienation'' and "the alienated world"; hence the battle of avant-gardism gradually proceeding from the modernist to the neo-modernist stage, with everything that adopts the form of an ``object'', of the more or less complete image, the more or less fixed rule, etc. since all this was suspected of ``alienation'', that is, of bourgeois values. Thirdly, onto ``atomisation'' and the "atomised society"; hence the revolt of the post-modernists against any individualisation of the personality, which was seen as a cover for "bourgeois individualism"; against the personal principle in general, which is henceforth seen as identical idea that the aesthetic means of cognition is the highest, with the "bourgeois principle"; against everything that is distinct from the "principle of collectivity", from directly collective, extra- and non-personal means of human exchange. In other words, for all its apparent concretisations, avant-garde negation invariably proved so abstract that it became negation in general, or, to use Lenin's expression, empty, futile negation. And this will not seem accidental if it is constantly borne in mind that we are dealing here with a deified (that is, absolutised) negation for which it is not negation itself that counts in this or that case, but the phenomenon of Negation, experienced as the appearance of God: of the infinite in the finite, of the transcendent in the immanent.

If Negation, however, taken as the highest goal of the avant-gardists, as their ideal, is a Divinity (in the mode of contemplation, it is Non-Being, Nothing), then this Negation, taken in the active, operative form (as a striving for Nothing, a process of drawing near to Non-Being), is a form of service to this Divinity, is a ritual in which its Absoluteness is affirmed: it is proved that everything is subject to destruction, that everything can and must be destroyed. That is why, as distinct from other spiritual aspirations in European culture, however broad and stable they may be, avant-gardism (and this is a fairly wide and stable aspiration if only because it is slightly under a century old and its disciples in the West number hundreds of thousands) is characterised not by what it has created but by what it has destroyed. The basic "myth of modernism", which took shape in the first quarter of the 20th century, rested on the idea of total destruction; more often than not it was recognised by the avant-gardists as the idea of ``total'' (or ``permanent'') revolution, but frequently it emerged in its pure form as service to Nothing, Non-Being and so on. In painting, this negativist aspiration led to the destruction of perspective and the very principle of imagery; in music, to the liquidation of tonality and temporal sequence in general; in all the arts, to a ``blurring'' of genre limitations and the debunking of the idea of a more or less integral work of art; in the aesthetics as a whole, to the discrediting of values–of the preference of higher ones to the lower, true to false, good to evil, beautiful to ugly; in the consciousness as such, to the expulsion of the very principle of the ego (self, personality, person) as the centre or nucleus of consciousness on the basis of which the world of consciousness is structured.

It is obvious that the same thing is featured as a "sacrificial calf" intended for slaughter to the glory of this savage Divinity, both by the modernists and the neo-modernists: the culture of the West with the principles on which it is founded, its higher values. These, it must be stressed, are much wider than the principles at the basis of what is covered by the term "bourgeois civilisation" and even by "civilisation in general", but with what the avant-gardists nevertheless try to substitute these conceptions. For it is a matter of those higher attributes of man (personal worth, eloquence, religious feeling, frankness, courage, bravery, etc.) which, according to Marx, who is with Morgan on this point, emerged long before the Europeans entered the phase of civilisation to form the human character. It is against these higher attributes of man that the avant-gardists and their forerunners from the previous century have been waging a struggle for a hundred years, ``rationalising'' it (and thereby concealing from themselves its true essence) as the struggle against "bourgeois civilisation" and so on. Even Bell, however, does not realise this, since he is hypnotised by the ``anti-bourgeois'' tirades of the modernists and neo-modernists, and attributes far too much importance to the ``verbalised'' side of their aspirations, which are only the visible part of the iceberg.

Incidentally, even Bell's picture, as we have seen, is fairly terrifying. Indeed, the modernist movement, according to him, which has established in the culture of the capitalist West its own "secularised religion", institutionalised in the form of the adversary culture, has thrown, according to Bell, the whole of capitalist society into a state of permanent social-economic and political crisis. The fact is that in these dimensions, society can function normally only if at least some kind of elementary order has been established or if people conduct themselves as responsible individuals endowed with common sense and a sober memory. In the third dimension of this society, however, its culture, headway has been made by very different mores under the influence of the avant-garde ``religion'': the principle of even elementary order has been liquidated, because of its ``alienated'', repressive, exploitatory essence; and common sense and sober memory have been ostracised as obvious indications of ``individualism'', ``conformism'' and every other kind of bourgeois value.

The main feature of this avant-garde prospect for human existence is voluntarism established in opposition to the traditional European idea of reason's primacy over will, that takes its origins from Plato and Aristotle. Closely associated with avant-garde voluntarism, established as the only permissible style of world outlook and behaviour in the adversary culture, is the cultivation of ecstasy, the striving to free oneself from all limitations imposed on man not only by certain social conditions but by social existence in general.

There is obviously a profound contrast between the aspirations predominant, according to Bell, in the social-economic and political dimensions, and the spiritual and cultural dimension of the contemporary capitalist society. The adversary culture, which holds the dominant position in the last dimension, is an irrational anti-world in the world of "formal rationality", ``anti-reason'' in the world of " technical reason" and, to treat the question more broadly, on a global scale, like the abbey of Thelema where literally, not metaphorically, "everything is permitted", in the world of all possible (often unavoidable) limitations and need, where sometimes even the basic necessities are not allowed. Incidentally, this global background, against which light is cast on the essence of the slogan of `` permissiveness'' ecstatically establishing itself, is not taken into consideration by Bell, which immediately (and radically) limits his criticism of the adversary culture.

The fact is that, examined outside this background, the avant-garde culture of the contemporary world as a whole, with poverty and famine in the developing countries and with a real threat of natural resources being exhausted, etc. seems far more anti-bourgeois than it really is. And, indeed, with the hypertrophy of the principle of formal rationality, engendering the illusion of technical reason's omnipotence (as happens in the developed capitalist countries), the irrationalist revolt against rationality in general and against Reason as such can still seem justified–as a more or less understood excess in the criticism of bourgeois rationality and bourgeois reason.

All this will fit into place, however, if this revolt is seen against the wider background of the contemporary world which is suffering, alas, not so much from an excess of rationality and reasonableness, as from an insufficiency of them, a lack of elementary reason and reasonablessness in the relations between peoples and states and in the relations of people to one another and to nature. In this second instance, the modernist and neo-modernist revolt is not only against rationality and reasonableness in general, but also against elementary standards and rules of human relations, against everything introducing any kind of order into the relations of people to one another and to nature. It is no longer an anti-bourgeois revolution, but a nihilistic negation of the principles of humanity in general which are the foundations not only of European but of any other culture, the principles that make European culture kindred with any other–in the deepest wellsprings of human existence.

The ``anti-bourgeois'' spirit of avant-garde anti-culture is a view of contemporary capitalism from the inside: from the viewpoint of one of the last phases of its evolution– the so-called consumer society; from the viewpoint of that unique (and evidently short-term) historical situation when culture was ``allowed'' to constitute itself in this society as a kind of "realm of permissiveness", that contemporary version of the abbey of Thelema, where each may behave according to the rule "Do as you like!" without considering the bourgeois philistine question: "But what next?" (after all, ``next'' is in 'time', and time for the denizens of the "realm of permissiveness" is neurotic). And there can be no mistaking the deep inner connection (almost identity) between the hedonistic trends which contemporary capitalist society is trying to cultivate among the consumers (not the producers!–it is the essence of the consumer society that people only put half of themselves into it), and hedonism elevated to a mystic cult (not without blood sacrifices either) which is the only principle of life and activity in the adversary culture with its hypertrophied anti-Protestantism.

Bell misses this connection altogether, which makes his analysis all the more limited, especially when he lays claim to the sociological approach, that is, to an analysis of the social aspects of certain ideas and moods (it should be not only an analysis of their functions, but should also include research into the soil on which they grew up and which nourishes them). Having gone about twenty years back to the consumer society phase (the borderline of which is more and more clearly marked by the present economic and energy crisis, now deepening in front of our very eyes), state-monopoly capitalism was forced to combine further production development, taking place on the basis of the universalised principle of "formal rationality", with the active stimulation of consumption, which was acquiring an entirely irrational content where it became ``measureless'' (already freed from natural measure, without yet having found its moral measure). Since each person who works is at the same time a producer and a consumer, the tension between these two hypostases has begun to grow, threatening them with conflict: shackled in the iron chains of formal rationality as a producer, that person was becoming inclined to every kind of irrationalism as a consumer. Such was the social soil on which there not only took place the change, noticed by Bell, of modernism into neo-modernism (with its characteristic striving to realise as a life style and standard of behaviour all the demands and urges which were discovered in man's subconscious by modernism, and, above all, legitimised as an aesthetic phenomenon), but also the conquest by the adversary culture of the dominant position in the spiritual and cultural sphere of the capitalist West.

The neo-modernism of the 60s emerged in a situation of the consumer society as an instrument of the final and ``total'' liberation of the bourgeois individual from the remnants of Protestant Ethics (and, indeed, ethics in general) which still prevented him changing into the absolutely malleable consumer. The neo-modernist transition from the "justification of life" as an aesthetic phenomenon (as was the case in modernism, which took Nietzsche as its point of departure) to its ``justification'' on the level of the instincts, from the testing of this attitude solely in imagination and fantasy to the effective self-expression of the avant-garde individual in reality itself–fully corresponded to the contemporary aspirations of the " indusrial eunuch''.

The desire of the adversary culture to inculcate the "Bohemian life style" in the consciousness of the masses, using the gigantic screen of the mass media at their disposal; to eradicate the customary models of conduct in the name of "freedom of the instincts" and their unlimited ``self-realisation''–does not in the least contradict the consumer aspect of state-monopoly capitalism, which is in the consumer society phase, although it contradicts its production aspect. In a word, in its anti-cultural and nihilist aspirations, the adversary culture contradicts the contemporary capitalist society to exactly the extent to which the latter contradicts itself–neiher more nor less. In this sense it is a replica of the contemporary bourgeois outlook.

In other words, this version of the non-Marxist critique of capitalism contains no alternative to it and does not go beyond it. It has to share its fate, or rather the fate of that short-term phase of its evolution which was called, in very hedonist manner, the consumer society. This critique of capitalism is doomed, together with the Renaissance individualist principle (whose grotesque realisation is the consumer society and, fatefully connected with it, the adversary culture), the principle of the ``immeasurable'' and ``unlimited'' efflorescence of the individual taken in all his uniqueness. For it becomes obvious that this kind of selffulnlment inevitably leads to the loss of the very basis on which it should take place, that is the personality, taken not separately, but in conformity with the higher human values, with all the spiritual content that makes a human being truly human.


Let us sum up. The entry of capitalism upon its higher and last, state-monopoly phase evoked the crisis of bourgeois individualism. One of the first attempts to overcome this crisis, and one which in fact merely showed that it was deepening, was an attempt by Ortega y Gasset to save the individual (interpreted in the spirit of the Renaissance-Romantic tradition), counterposing him as an ``elitist'' man to the ``mass'' man, erecting an insurmountable barrier between mass and elite. The movement of West European thought during the last quarter of the century (1950- 1975) is associated with the acknowledgement that the prospect suggested by the Spanish philosopher is unacceptable, with the endeavour to prevail somehow over (or at least to correct) Ortega y Gasset's elitism and individualism, and the inability to do this in any satisfactory manner.

An appeal by Guardini, who tried to take the "problem of man" further than the individualist Renaissance tradition (channelling it into traditional Catholicism), was ignored by the Western intelligentsia. They were not impressed at the prospect of saving ``core-self'' at the cost of personality. Also unsuccessful was Marcel's attempt to reconcile the Catholic with the Renaissance-Romantic tradition: the idea of the "degradation of man", like the eschatologism associated with it, did not help this in the least. With Adorno, who tied up the Renaissance-Romantic tradition with the avant-garde, the idea of the "end of man", according to which the consciousness of the Western bourgeois intelligentsia evolved in the middle of our century, was recognised to be, in fact, a balancing on the brink between individuality and its negation. However, this form of self-denunciation of the bourgeois individual, his renunciation of his ontological characteristics, seemed less and less satisfactory as state-monopoly capitalism assumed the form of the consumer society. After all, each individualisation presupposes a known limit of consumer activity, just as individual self-awareness limits man's urge for `` extravagant'' enjoyments. This narrows the market of the " industrial eunuchs" (the ``internal'' market in the profoundest sense of the word). Thus began the conflict between the not entirely liquidated bourgeois individual and the ``eunuch'' of capitalist industry, which expanded its production possibilities and was that much more in need of the absolutely malleable consumer.

The bourgeois intellectual, tormented between the affirmation of his own individuality and its negation (in full conformity with Adorno's picture), did not long resist the Dionysian temptations about which the sirens of the consumer society were singing to him. After all, in order that new horizons of ineffable bliss should be revealed to him, it cost him very little. All he had to do was separate himself from his ego and break with the principle of individual self-awareness: an action that looked all the more impressive because it had already been presented in the most ``revolutionary'' form; moreover, that ``revolutionary'' feeling itself was sugared with alluring arguments about the sexual revolution. That is why the fashion for balancing between individuality and its negation was so quickly replaced in the 60s by the fashion for simply brutal negation without any intellectual ``balancing''.

But as soon as this fashion established itself in the bourgeois intellectual consciousness, there finally came to light the secret of the whole preceding theoretical movement (especially at its ``Frankfurt'' stage). Conversations about the "end of man", about "agonising man", about the collapse of the "individuality principle", etc. suddenly revealed a striking resemblance to what is said in 'Doctor Faustus' by the Devil just before the final temptation of the young composer Adrian Leverkühn. Moreover, it was now that the last secret of the Devil himself was disclosed: he turned out to be the not in the least demonic but commonplace "industrial eunuch"–very much the worse for wear, moreover, since he was first mentioned by Karl Marx.

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Adorno, Theodor W.–8, 22,
48, 69, 95-116, 129, 138, 140,
143, 153, 154, 156, 162, 163,
175-183, 286
Althusser, Louis–27
Anderson, Chester–201, 214, 220, 221
Antonioni, Michelangelo–48, 219
Aretino, Pietro–35
Aristotle–5, 157, 282
Artaud, Antonin–28, 271, 274
St. Augustine–80


Banshchikov, V.M.–223
Barth, John–205
Barthes, Roland–59, 271, 272, 274

Baudelaire, Charles–87
Beauvoir, Simone de–11, 22, 48
Beckett, Samuel–22, 27, 28, 59, 114, 177, 180, 271, 274
Beethoven, Ludwig van–45, 153
Bell, Daniel–119-121, 123- 125, 277, 278, 281-284
Bely, Andrei–78
Benjamin, Walter–183, 191-193, 195
Berdyaev, Nikolai–73, 74, 84, 96, 270
Berg, Alban–114
Bergman, Ingmar–48
Bergson, Henri–50, 51
Bernanos, Georges–140
Bertram, Ernst–12
Blok, Alexander–5, 31
Bluem, A. William–218, 219, 242, 263-265
Boccaccio, Giovanni–32
Borgia, Cesare–32, 35, 70, 140
Botticelli, Sandro–32
Bradbury, Bay–242
Brecht, Bertold–105, 180
Breton, Andre–126, 142, 143, 272
Brinkman, R.D.–221, 226, 240
Brown, Bruce–126
Brown, Norman–22, 120, 126 206, 207
Buonarroti, Michelangelo–32, 35
Burckhardt, Jacob–35, 79, 84

Cage, John–227
Camus, Albert–8, 10, 11, 22, 48, 271
Cellini, Benvenuto–32
Che Guevara, Ernesto–231
Chirico, Giorgio–28
Clement VI–32, 33
Cohen, Leonard–221
Comte, Auguste–16
Croce, Benedetto–49


Dahrendorf, Ralf–69
D'Annunzio, Gabriele–35
Dante, Alighieri–32, 166
Domenach, Jean-Marie–8, 27- 29, 59, 97, 269-274, 276, 277
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor–17, 74, 76, 80, 259, 262, 263, 266
Dresen, Adolf–244
Dufrenne, Michel–269
Dutschke, Rudi–254


Eisenstein, Sergei–5
Eliot, Thomas Stearns–246
Engels, Friedrich–12, 32, 33, 155, 262
Enzensberger, Hans Magnus–; 178, 183-191, 193-198, 201, 243, 257
Erasmus Roterodamus (Desiderius)–32
Ernst, Max–28, 274

Fanon, Frantz–201
Faulkner, William–11
Fellini, Federico–48, 114
Fetscher, Iring–252
Feuerbach, Ludwig–99
Fiedler, Leslie A.–202, 227, 231, 234, 240
Foucault, Michel Paul–7, 27,28, 59, 62, 271, 274
Frenzel, Ivo–256, 257
Freud, Sigmund–7, 8, 11, 22,
23, 27, 29, 102, 103, 107,
116-118, 120-122, 124-134,
136-138, 141, 143, 155, 157,
158, 181, 182, 206, 207, 226,
228, 247, 271, 272

Fromm, Erich–126-127, 133,
137, 141

lonesco, Eugene–22, 27, 28,

Jaspers, Karl–11, 37, 46-48

Joyce, James–11

Jung, Carl Gustav–11, 22, 69


Kafka, Franz–113, 180, 255
Kant, Immanuel–14, 95-97,

Keyserling, Hermann–12
Kierkegaard, Soren A.–46, 86, 87, 91, 176, 253
Kupferberg, Tuli–203-205, 214

Gentile, Giovanni–177
George, Stefan–12, 45
Glucksmann, Christine–165
Godard, Jean-Luc–231, 234
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von– 61, 111, 244, 248-250
Goodman, Paul–120
Gramsci, Antonio–33, 34
Greiner, Ulrich–244, 257, 258, 261
Guardini, Romano–63-77, 80, 83, 110, 140, 286
Gundolf, Friedrich–12
Gustaffson, Lars–244
Lacan, Jean–27, 28, 59, 62, 271
Lasswell, Harold–265
Lawrence, David Herbert–11
Leibnitz, Gottfried Wilhelm– 249
Lenin, Vladimir–36, 277
Leo X–35
Levi-Strauss, Claude–27, 28, 62, 271
Lipton, Lawrence–208
Luther, Martin–32


Machiavelli, Niccolo–32, 35, 67, 140
McLuhan, Marshall–59, 127, 137, 183, 201, 203-205, 209, 215-218, 241-243, 262-265, 267
Maier, Hans–244, 245
Mailer, Norman–201, 205
Malatesta, Sigismondo–35
Mann, Erika–223
Mann, Thomas–11, 12, 18, 19, 22, 61, 62, 111, 153, 211, 213,

Mao Tsetung–160, 161, 198
Marat, Jean Paul–232
Marcel, Gabriel–8, 11, 22, 48, 75-93, 94, 96, 97, 286
Marcuse, Herbert–22, 108, 120, 126, 128-138, 140, 141, 142-
159, 201, 274


Handke, Peter–201, 227
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich–126, 176, 188, 194, 195, 219
Heidegger, Martin–10, 11, 22, 48, 53, 273
Heine, Heinrich–209
Hemingway, Ernest–11
Herzen, Alexander–139
Hesse, Hermann–70
Hitler, Adolf-104, 121, 179, 227, 240, 241, 244, 263-265, 269
Homer–97, 102
Horkheimer, Max–8,22,93-103, 103, 107-111, 116, 129, 138,

140, 156, 181, 182
Hrdlicka, Alfred–244
Hiibscher, Arthur–64
Husserl, Edmund–11, 47
Hutten, Ulrich von–32
Huxley, Aldous-157, 223

Marx, Karl–8, 12-14, 23, 27,
32, 33, 36, 82, 96, 99, 102,
114, 126, 127, 135, 140, 141,
143, 155, 157-159, 161, 163,
165, 173, 176, 181, 182, 188,
191, 199, 253, 262, 273, 276,
277, 281, 285, 287

Maschke, Giinter–244, 245, 247, 250, 253-259

Mauriac, Francois–140

Mayakovsky, Vladimir–5

Medici, Lorenzo (Lorenzo the

Melanchthon, Philip–32

More, Thomas – 32

Morgan, Lewis Henry–273, 281

Mounier, Emmanuel–95

Munch, Evrard–179

Murdoch, Iris–22, 23

Muschg, Adolf-245, 248, 249,
250, 252, 254-259

Musil, Robert–45

Mussolini, Benito–241, 263, 264


Napoleon, Bonaparte–237
Nekrasov, Nikolai–30
Nevzorova T.A.–223
Nietzsche, Friedrich–7, 8, 10-
12, 19, 22, 26, 30, 37-39, 41,
42, 45, 46, 48, 56, 61, 67, 84,
87, 88, 95, 98, 99, 104, 106,
129, 139, 140, 182, 260
Novalis (Friedrich Leopold von Hardenberg)–45

Ortega y Gasset, Jose–64, 65, 73, 80, 96, 285, 286
Orwell, George–75, 190, 243

Rabelais, Francois–79
Raphael (Raffaello Santi)–32
Reich, Charles–22
Reich, Wilhelm–126, 140, 272 274
Richter, Horst Eberhard–247 248
Rickert, Heinrich–39
Riesman, David–22
Rilke, Rainer Maria–81
Robbe-Grillet, Alain–27, 28, 59, 274
Roszak, Theodore–22, 120, 127
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques–235- 237
Roux, Jacques–232
Ruble, Giinter–245, 254, 255, 257, 258, 261

Sade, Donatien Alphonse de– 232
Saint-Simon, Claude Henri de Rouvroy–278
Sartre, Joan-Paul–8, 10, 11,
22, 48, 129, 140, 146, 159-
178, 180, 198, 254, 271, 274

Savonarola, Girolamo–32
Schellemann, Carlo–231
Schiller, JohannChristoph Friedrich von–249
Schmied, Wieland–245, 253
Schonberg, Arnold–112, 114, 116, 145
Schopenhauer, Arthur–19, 53, 56, 61, 136
Sontag, Susan–201
Sorel, Georges–241
Spengler, Oswald–12, 19, 21-23, 37, 49-62, 97, 100, 139,
141, 241, 257
Spinoza, Baruch–274
Stafford, Peter–222

Parsons, Talcott–69
Passmore, John–201, 205, 208- 210, 240
Pasternak, Boris–70, 71
Petrarch (Petrarca), Francesco– 32 33

Plato–5, 80, 157, 282
Picasso, Pablo–28, 114
Piccolomini, Octavio–32

Theunissen, Michael–245, 253
Titian (Tiziano Vecellio)–32
Tolstoy, Lev–5, 17
Trachtenberg, Alan–221, 237, 240
Trilling, Lionel–279

Turenne de–33
Walser, Martin–201, 202, 214,

Tyutchev, Fyodor–275
221, 223, 227, 231, 234, 240, 257


Watts, Alan–222
Weber, Max–13, 37, 38, 40-

Vinci, Leonardo da-32 49 62 87 132 139
Visconti, Luchmo-235, 237
Webern, Anton von-114
Vygotsky, Lev-216
Wagner, Richard–19, 45, 99, 115

Ziegler, Jean–244, 253, 254
Zola, Emile–17

BIBLIOGRAPHY The Author's Works on the Topic of the Present Book (list in Russian, so not included here)

  • 1. Domenach interprets the concept ``Renaissance'' in the narrowest sense, detaching it, imlike Berdyaev, from later history.
  • 2. Domenach's expression.
  • 3. Incidentally, the distance is not so great between the Freudian 'id' and Heidegger's 'Man', the principle of the crowd–as may seem;, here and there it is the impersonal principle.
  • 4. Domenach, op. cit., p. 22.
  • 5. K. Marx and F. Engels, 'Collected Works', Moscow, 1975, vol. 3, p. 295.
  • 6. See D. Bell, 'The Coming of Post-Industrial Society. A Venture in Social Forecasting', New York, 1973.
  • 7. It is for this reason that Bell prefers to call it the "socio-cultural crisis", and not simply the crisis of capitalist culture.
  • 8. The self-establishment of modernism was accomplished according to the old principle, "The King is dead, long live the King!"; "God is dead, long live God!" admittedly with the proviso that anti-God (once known as anti-Christ) takes the place of God.
  • 9. This term was borrowed by Bell from Lionel Trilling (see L. Trilling, 'Beyond Culture', New York, 1965, p. XIII).

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