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Lunacharsky Articles and speeches on international politics
Morality and freedom
Red new. 1923. No. 7. S. 130–136
It is usually ridiculous to listen, as I happened to do it the other day, from more or less outspoken and highly qualified representatives of the old world to judge the moral perspectives of communism. One such highly respected person recently spoke to me, as they say, heart to heart and expressed extreme misgivings about the sexual morality of mankind.
“All checks,” the venerable gentleman told me, “are falling, marriage is becoming extremely extensible, Smerdyakov’s principle “everything is permitted” is proclaimed. What can come from this with a fundamental sexual depravity of a person? An obvious degeneration, for those wise institutions with which mankind at all times furnished marriage were, so to speak, biological self-defense, with which the genus protected itself from disorderly sexual coexistence, threatening its very existence.
And with the air of a real oracle, the honorable gentleman added the following aphorism:
- The family structure of the East, the Jews, the civilized peoples of Europe and America, are the very first rudiments of reasonable eugenetics.
This reasonable eugenetics is spoken of by people who considered and now consider it possible to recognize as a normal society the hell in which we lived and from which we have not yet extricated ourselves. It is they who created a sea of poverty and disease, a colossal infant mortality rate, they who first turned the family into various forms of excruciating slavery of women from the veil to the kitchen-diaper captivity, they, in the privileged classes, turned the family into a frank deal, up to marriage by advertisements. , for the reasons of firms (and dynasties), they, having surrounded this family stronghold with a whole sea of prostitution, they, cursed by millions of mothers-girls and often mothers-girls-killers of children, are now ranting about the danger of communist immorality!
But, of course, in constructing what is often called communist morality, one must be very careful. One of the "guardians", sometimes one of the dangers threatening communism on its way, is the state regulation of life.
This is not quite the same as bureaucracy. By bureaucracy, we usually mean a negative concept, namely, bureaucratic red tape, and even if we take this word in its exact sense, in the sense of "clerical power", then even then it marks by itself that, so to speak, ink rats, clerks of various types have seized power even over the state itself, i.e. in fact, over the ruling class, over the dictator class.
But Comrades. It was not in vain that Trotsky spoke of the victories of healthy bureaucracy. What did he mean by this? In the chaos of decaying and never firmly established feudalism, the centralized state was progress. Enlightened bureaucracy, soldered by Roman law and the cameral sciences in general, surrounding kings or trading republics (like Venice, Genoa, Holland), was a powerful, in its very essence bourgeois, progressive-bourgeois lever of social construction.
When we smashed (let's talk about Russia) the disgusting, but somehow holding Russia together tsarist bureaucratic apparatus, we found ourselves in an abyss of either unconditional chaos, so to speak, the atomic disintegration of the country, or semi-chaos of the so-called local authorities. What could be opposed to the primordial Slavic anarchism, of course, not racially belonging to us, but dictated to us by our conditions, on the one hand, and the revolutionary independence of the comrades who worked in the localities, on the other? A more or less powerful center—and the political communist party created such a powerful center, primarily in the person of the Central Committee of the party itself. Strong politically - administratively, this center was much weaker and looser, so to speak, from the point of view of bureaucratic technique - unsatisfactory, and the economic and business center was even worse. And when tov. Trotsky said that we suffer not so much from an excess of bureaucracy as from a lack of it, he was just as right as those who said the same about Russia in the eighties in relation to capitalism. Tov. At the same time, Trotsky pictured something that every communist, who imagines the inevitability of an iron state-dictator, the apparatus of the dictatorship of the proletariat, cannot but find desirable, namely: an improved bureaucratic apparatus, an all-Russian office for accounting, for instructing, for sending orders, which was would be an obedient and at the same time a powerful tool in the hands of the government put forward by the proletariat. But, of course, such a state, compelled by necessity to regulate a million things, can easily fall into the temptation and regulate the million and first thing, which does not require regulation, but requires freedom and allows freedom even now.
Add to this that we are surrounded by enemies, surrounded not only from without, but also from within. Is freedom of speech, for example, compatible with communism? Yes, how not? After all, there are people of this kind who think that it is incompatible ... This, of course, is an ugly aberration. What is its origin? Its origin lies in the fact that freedom of speech is incompatible with a revolution that has not yet won. In a period of civil war, open or hidden, to give freedom of speech would mean for the government to commit idiotic treason against its banner. But freedom of speech is as natural as air after the danger of war has ceased, and it will cease with the final victory over the bourgeoisie throughout the world.
And so, based on this (I have already written about this before), some develop a kind of censorship itch. They already take into account not only the lack of paper or printing presses, not only the need to stifle counter-revolutionary voices; it seems to them that they are generally called upon to judge which literary child should live and which one should be thrown from the Tarpeian rock. This is indeed the worst kind of bureaucracy. Let the writer be such a bureaucrat. Let a highly moral writer - it does not change things. If another writer knows that his work will be judged not from a political, but from an artistic point of view, and will let him live or not live, based on personal tastes (personal or group, it does not matter), then this will seem to him slavery, and this slavery is not at all necessary for the revolution even at the present moment.
Here in the same position is what is called sexual morality, and partly what is called morality in general. And first a few words about this morality in general.
What is morality? In this word, as in the word ethics, two concepts are invested. On the one hand, morality is a set of mores, as we observe it, a set of rules that, in one way or another, a given society has actually developed for itself. The scientist who conscientiously fulfilled such a task—to tell us by what rules (other than state laws) a given society is governed and by what rules it would like to be governed—thus already provides an exhaustive study of the morality of a given society at a given time.
But from the foregoing it is clear that morality cannot be understood only as morality, so to speak, kinetic morality, which has already entered into action, but also, to some extent, potential, normative morality. It is impossible, for example, to say about Christian morality that it consists in hypocrisy and in every minute violation of its own principles and nothing more. This is true of Christian morality as it manifests itself, but if we do not add to this an outline of what this Christian morality requires, then we, of course, will not get a complete picture. It is easy to criticize actually existing morality from the point of view of its deviation from its own norm. It is quite clear that a monk who eats meat or drinks milk on Friday is a moral criminal in the face of Christian morality, but it is not at all clear from this whether it is really true to drink milk on Friday. is clearly a crime. Thus, when we pass to the evaluation of moral morality itself, if we do not want to confine ourselves to a simple and empty statement, we must compare it with some kind of objective morality, with some indisputable, universal morality. Hence the need, eternal, one might say, the need on the part of learned ethicists for the construction of such a morality. It is known how Kant tried to give an unshakable basis for it.
But it is not only the Kants who yearn for unshakable morality, but the living hearts and the masses themselves yearn for it. The search for the truth of God, which in fact means the truth of the unconditional, standing above criticism, this search is inherent in man. Otherwise it can not be. After all, this morality is the basis of his everyday way of life. To create some kind of satisfactory way of life is the desire of all classes, only each class of a given people, a given civilization understands this ideal differently; each class, in the image and likeness of its interests, creates, exalts, embellishes the moral system, which includes morality for masters and morality for slaves and for all intermediate varieties. It usually includes criticism of, so to speak, barbarian and alien morality and an apology of one's own. It is inextricably linked with religion and demands categorically to submit to itself,
The proletariat is tormented, as if on a bed of torture, in the social order in which it lives, dreams of another, actively rushes towards another, builds another order. But the reform of the way of life appears to the proletariat primarily as a radical reform of the economic basis of society. This is the profound difference between scientific socialism and various kinds of utopias, not only because utopias started from a moral end (up to the utopian Tolstoy), but also from how they generally approached this moral end.
Marx warned many times not to chase after these predictable contours of the second and third floors of the coming culture, in particular to include them in the program, and still less, I think, in legislation, in the prescription - at the hour when the proletariat acquires power in this or that country. . We must move the granite foundations of the first floor from their place and rebuild, creating collective ownership of the instruments of production instead of private property, we change the very soil and a new morality will naturally grow on it, if you like to use this word. I think that between this morality and between all other moralities the gulf is so great that it is hardly worth calling it morality. I once suggested, in view of the fact that the worldview of Marxism is all-encompassing and gives satisfaction to all that thirst that was previously quenched by religion, not shy away from recognizing Marxism—this Dietzgen also acknowledged—also a religion of a higher order—but I was pointed out that the difference was too great to permit confusion of names. The same applies to morality. The morality of a communist society will be that there will be no precepts in it, it will be the morality of an absolutely free person.
In all likelihood, for a long time we will have a very old regulation of the years and hours of human work. As long as a person is serving his duty to society in the ranks of his labor army, as long as he is, therefore, chained to things that are led by the economic center of society, he is also leading them, but the meaning of Engels' proposition that the new state will lead things, and not people, comes down precisely to the fact that a person will be able to increase more and more that part of his life in which he is not connected with the machine, is not connected with collectively regulated production, in which he is free.
In collectively regulated production man is free as a collective man; he is no longer in slavish dependence on the machine, he dominates it as a society. Outside of production, man is individually free. He completely individually arranges his environment, his philosophical convictions, his family, his way of life. If there is great diversity, so much the better. This means that society flourishes luxuriantly. This great diversity will never turn into chaos, because the interests will not be opposed, because basically then people are brothers and co-workers. From that productive foundation from which groans and poisonous exhalations now rise, harmonizing and unifying rays of cooperation will then rise.
Under this beneficial influence of economic social harmony, other cultural human relationships will easily be combined into mobile, diverse harmonic combinations: all kinds of scientific and artistic unions, all kinds of associations of people, including their associations for love.
And not only state regulation is unacceptable in this case, but no gravity of public opinion is unacceptable, there should be no “com il pho”. A whole series of this disgusting "com il fo", these disgusting "debts" actually entangled itself with the animal-human tradesman (man is a wolf to man). This is not necessary in a communist society.
But, they will tell me, it was you who jumped from the realm of necessity into the realm of freedom, after all, you have already begun to talk about a society over which there is no state, and you will talk about the present day, is it possible now to leave things without regulation, is it possible now to say that, among other freedoms that the proletarian state violates out of necessity, the exception is the freedom of love?
Yes, I think that all or almost all of what I said above applies to our time. Yes, I think that in relation to the so-called sexual morality there can be only one precept: one must protect the weak in that peculiar struggle that boils on the basis of love. It is necessary to protect the interests of the child, which in this case can be violated, it is necessary to protect the woman from violence, exploitation, from betrayal. We need laws that would protect the weak from the violence of the strong, the child from the adult, the woman from the man.
But this is not a moral regulation. Here, indeed, there must be a kind of liberalism - a free contract between a woman and a man whose name is love, and perhaps less interference. But if under the guise of love we have blackmail, violence, if the contract is cynically violated - of course, the state should intervene, but, I repeat, is this morality? - This is a law, this is a legal measure, this is a code. Otherwise, as much freedom as you like.
And I hear my gentleman's objection: but eugeneticism, but the danger of degeneration, but sheer sin, etc., etc.
I don't want to dismiss all these words as mere trifles. They are, of course, mere trifles when they are uttered in the sense of some metaphysical propositions: "man is primordially sinful, prone to fornication and incest, and if he is not dressed in moral chains, he will turn out to be a disgusting lecher." All this is pure nonsense. In his animal nature, man is by no means depraved. Nature in this respect makes the minimum number of mistakes. She creates her genera in the best possible way for eugenetics. The sooner man returns to nature in this respect, the more natural the relationship between man and woman, female and male of our superior animal variety, the better, the purer the relationship will be. Here the slogan is - back to nature, back to the animal! - perfectly appropriate.
It goes without saying that a man of the distant future, a man who has been brought up communistically, a man whose animal will be upright, bright, joyful, healthy, and in whom, to this animal, a social person will be added, the heir to all the sufferings and all the conquests of the past, the builder of his own own future - such a person, without any moral fetters, will be able to build - a man and a woman - his wonderful poetic relationship.
Poetic? Maybe this word "almost indecent", sentimental. Tolstoy says that we call poetic everything that reminds us of the past. This is a completely wrong definition. Poetic means creative. Therefore, a poetic love relationship between a couple of people means a creative relationship directed towards the concentration of life, towards raising it, towards its enlightenment.
Such naturally and without any morality will be the love of our children, if we properly educate them.
For the transitional period, for the period in which a person has left the animal essence and has not yet come to true humanity, this period is characterized by debauchery, and depravity does not consist in incest, not in violations of family life - this is a detail of debauchery - it consists in in the very fact of the family, in the very fact of the heterogeneous sale of man to man, in the entire structure of the old society from primitive barbarian to super-capitalist. In this debauchery we are still up to our ears. Free a person who bears the ugly hump of education and experience acquired in a capitalist society, throw him, moreover, into a boiling cauldron of passions, which is a civil war - of course, he will satisfy his sexual need hastily, often cynically, without caring for others . Of course, he can understand the slogan "everything is allowed" in Smerdyakov's way. What of this? Create a special moral police force, a Salvation Army with Quaker methods of promoting cleanliness? Trying to regulate all the same chaos through a kind of moral legislation? Nothing like this. Education is the answer.
The most reliable in this case is the upbringing of children. This is where the results will be strongest. We must raise our children above our heads, above the swamp in which we are still wandering up to our ears. We must keep them in the sun, under the caress of the free wind of true humanity. If we ourselves cannot live in this atmosphere, then we know what it is, we can at least instill some of the children in this atmosphere. And the sermon among adults - it is carried out first of all with a thunderous voice by the revolution - we conduct it, this moral sermon, with any other sermon, spreading literacy, raising interest in questions of natural and social science, raising the qualifications of labor, interest in the fate of the Russian and world revolution, – we expand the horizons of a person, ennoble his inner essence,
Insofar as we involve a woman in social activities, insofar as we socially enlighten her, make her more noble, steadfast and less helpless, by all this we do not heal sexual morality, but a person. A healthy person will be healthy in love. As long as a person is ill with the hereditary diseases of capitalism - philistinism, ignorance, selfishness - until then morality will not help in any way. That is why I think that we do not need morality, that is why I think that in the field of sex we should talk not about morality, but about freedom, and in response to gentlemen's statements that this is smerdyakovism, we should say that we oppose communist enlightenment.