Thoughts on sports

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

   Lunacharsky Articles and speeches on international politics

Thoughts on sports

I. In the West

At the time of the “end of the century”, the West in relation to sports was sharply divided into two parts: the one that stood mainly under the sign of French culture in its then form, and the Anglo-Saxon part.

French culture, even superficially, was then in a period of smugly proclaimed decadence. Health was considered obscene, women and men tried to look like combinations of half-withered plant stems. Hands, lips, hair, nose and, it seems, even ears - everything was supposed to be lowered down. This appearance corresponded to the form of clothing. Skirts, tied at the bottom in the manner of umbrella cases, did not give women any freedom of movement, and even for men, all sorts of inventions of a cemetery character framed life to the extreme absurdly, snobbishly adapting to the monstrous whims depicted in the famous Huysmans novel, and being in complete accordance with the then decadent poetry, music, visual arts, etc.

The intelligentsia and the bourgeois youth liked to speak of the "end of the century" as the end of culture and boasted that they, the people of the "great evening", were at the same time people of the most refined culture, even if it was decadent. “So what if she’s decadent?” The decadence of overripe cultural societies is, in fact, the most beautiful thing we can find in the history of civilization.

  The Anglo-Saxons, however, even then by no means agreed to condemn themselves to this decadence. They were much more serious than the French, they took their colonial empire much closer, they felt much closer to their energetic colonial officers, they foresaw much more the coming of their great fleet, and perhaps the army, strenuous efforts in the struggle for world hegemony, much, more sought preserve their age-old sports traditions in the education of young people. Therefore, the English and English women were at that time much more freely dressed, much more muscular, physically developed, natural and humane than the French. Wilde's aestheticism, which greatly appealed to the French, for the English was in some cases the object of surprise, as a curiosity, and in some cases the object of even exaggerated indignation, as something shameful and criminal.

The young offspring of the Anglo-Saxon bourgeoisie, the American bourgeoisie, even then went even further in this respect. Physical culture in the broadest sense of the word - that is, concern for health, for the proper development of one's body through proper nutrition, sleep, rest and various forms of sports and athletics - in the vast majority of families of the upper, middle and petty, but still prosperous bourgeoisie America was considered something natural. Since the proletariat and farming could not keep up with the bourgeoisie in this respect, in America there even began to be observed a kind of racial division of the upper and lower classes. The American new aristocrat, i.e., the prosperous and wealthy American, has gained in height, weight, complexion, etc. for several decades. Observers of American life assure that in big cities one can immediately recognize a city dweller of the first and second class (i.e. e. millionaires and people with very solid earnings) on the one hand, and the poor on the other, and, moreover, not in clothes, but in physique.

But the entire American people, having embarked on the rails of enhanced physical culture, began to overtake the Europeans in weight, physical strength, according to many observers. In Western European cities, in most cases, you will immediately distinguish a group of American tourists even from European Anglo-Saxons precisely by their physical size.

At the same time, the sporting life of America acquired an extremely strange and even comically outrageous character, especially at the time of the physical maturation of a person, that is, in school and student years.

As now, so even then, the physical culture life of universities and colleges was considered the most important aspect of university science. All kinds of sports games and achievements were taken into account in the first place, as an object of ambitious desires of young people, a source of pride for the entire university world and special attention even from the professors.

When you get acquainted with what a huge place sport occupies in the life of an American student, you involuntarily ask yourself - when, in fact, does an American student manage to get the knowledge he needs, and even more so the general development, which should embrace the special information given to him in a wide atmosphere. educational institution?

The American student is really extremely indifferent to the surrounding social life, completely empty in regard to philosophy, very often simply stupidly religious, and without any enthusiasm fulfills the prescriptions of the faith in which fate was pleased to force him to be born; he performs his academic duties in a very formal way and, apparently, knows how, on average, to perform his special functions quite well and makes a career only because the whole of American life is built very strongly and has immense material resources.

In any case, in its American form, sport ceases to be a pure good and begins to show its negative sides.

The war changed everything on the European continent to the extreme. Even its approach has already changed the public mood and given a new place to physical education and, in particular, sports.

Germany, oscillating between her somewhat fat, poured beer and insolent militarism and refined culture, which took fashion from France, finally rushed before the war towards the English attitude and physical life. In France itself, sports began to develop rapidly. It seemed that the main impetus for this was the emergence of new forms of sports thanks to the brilliant achievements of aviation and the rapid development of the automobile. Sport for speed, a sport based not only on the human body, but on the connection of the neuro-motor system with motors of great perfection and speed of action, was, as it were, an external impulse to the growth of the place occupied by sports in life.

However, this was not the main reason, as, of course, not the main reason for the emergence of futurism was the speed of movement and the mechanical nature of culture, which even Marinetti himself mentioned as the roots of his school. Both futurism and the rapid growth of sports alike arose from the conviction of the big and middle bourgeoisie that it was necessary to pull themselves up for the coming war.

It became clear to the bourgeois class that death was near, that they would either have to die or fight a gigantic, most intense battle both for appetizing pieces on the globe and for their privileges in relation to the increasingly menacing ranks.

It is difficult to see in anything else so clearly the struggle of capitalism for life, its striving for life, which still makes itself felt with all the collapse of the late capitalist era, as in this sharp change from the decadent image of the European continental bourgeois to its military image.

The war roared, covered the earth with ruins and blood. But she gave rise to many new relationships. She also left behind a new attitude towards sports. We can say that Western Europe has become strongly Anglicized or, if you like, Americanized. The English attitude to sport, to caring for one's body, and the enthusiasm for the various achievements of great, medium, and small champions, have now become universal in Europe.

Perhaps in no other country is this more pronounced than in Germany, although what I say about Germany should be applied to a large extent to the rest of continental Europe. The German is being reborn before our very eyes—reborn physically, and to a certain extent also morally, at least in the sense of the morality of his way of life.

Before the war, the German, as Nietzsche ironically noted, differed from the so-called Mediterranean man - and equally, of course, from the Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon - in his heaviness, his dampness. Nietzsche said that the German, eating soup and beer, makes his whole body swollen, plump and liquid. Large bellies after some forty years, and sometimes even earlier, large, very stocky figures, bloodshot veins on the face, bullish necks, to which the famous Munich hearts and Munich livers correspond, were by no means only found in the rich (she even had less) and among the middle bourgeoisie, but among petty employees, all kinds of bank officials, or even among such a type of people whose profession, it would seem, could least of all give rise to these deformations of the human body - for example, among conductors, etc.

Look at modern Germany. You will meet relatively few people with a pronounced picnic build. The racial foundations of the German people seem to have changed. Everywhere you will see how much a person (man and woman) cares about being schlank - slim. This, after all, is almost the main goal. Indeed, remarkable results have been achieved - the Germans have become thinner, more muscular, more flexible, and therefore more beautiful and agile. This affected the German, perhaps most of all.

In general, the war produced a huge revolution in the everyday appearance of women. Imagine a typical pre-war woman. She required feminine weakness and a certain shade of morbidity. She was taken in long dresses, on the hem of which she brought with her all the evil spirits into her house; besides, she tangled her feet in them so that a "decent" woman was not able to jump on a tram. They wore long hair and were proud if this hair fell almost to the knees. Combing and washing this hair took a significant percentage of a woman's time, and wearing a heavy knot on her head was clearly unhygienic and harmful.

Take a modern German woman, a European woman in general, and even our woman of recent times. She wears a very short skirt - there is no longer a hindrance in walking, no stupid sweeping of the streets with a train. The woman wears short hair, and all her movements have become incomparably more free and efficient.

This happened not by chance, but due to deep reasons. The war, having destroyed many men and detaining even more on the fronts, threw women into work, and women - proletarians and non-proletarians - were forced to dress in overalls, which completely reformed their entire appearance.

But overalls are only part of this very reform of the woman. The other part is the change in the woman's body itself. True, at first it turned out, as usual, nonsense and exaggeration. The form of the Anglo-Saxon woman, for the most part an athlete, was taken as an ideal. First of all - dryness! The bourgeois female intellectual, especially in France (but also in other countries), began to wage a truly wild struggle with secondary sexual characteristics, tried to destroy the female breast, using frantic, torture-like apparatus for this, and without even stopping before the operation. This vile movement, which did not find any resistance among fashionistas, met with a rather strong rebuff from public opinion. Of course, this outrage to a very negligible extent affected the woman from the working class and the working intellectual.

However, these hobbies of the early twenties soon passed, and real training appeared in their place. Training on foot, in swimming, in tennis and other games specially adapted for women, and as a result - an extraordinary healthy harmony of the female body, especially the young one, which positively surprises us, people who have already looked at the European man before, when we get acquainted with a new look West.

As I said, this reform goes beyond purely physical and extends to everyday morality. A “slimming” man who watches his weight, constantly thinks about not losing his place in the ranks in this or that sport, is forced to limit himself in his various passions. The modern German has finally taken the path recommended to him by Nietzsche. Unlimited beer drinking becomes completely impossible for a young German athlete - and almost every young German is like that. If he drinks anything, then he drinks wine, his German "sect", and in relatively small quantities (this drink is expensive). Such a young man rarely sits at cards, considering this business unhealthy, and prefers mobile games to them. He makes sure that he eats as much as he needs and that he needs to sleep in the open air and in moderation, in general, carefully monitors himself and, if he notices a decrease in the general condition of his body, he immediately takes appropriate measures.

In Germany, there is a strong attraction to the stability of life forms, in particular, to the stability of marriage. Of course, one cannot say that things were brilliant in this respect; in Germany, as in the rest of Europe, young people have no desire for family life. Young people are afraid of burdening themselves with caring for children, etc. However, it seems to me that Germany has changed in this respect, in comparison with the pre-war period, less than other European countries due to large losses during the war and more or less clear considerations patriotic character, inherent in very wide sections of Germans. Families, and, moreover, quite large ones, are by no means a rarity here. But still, both everywhere and in Germany, marriage and marriage began much later than before. Thus, often until the age of thirty or thirty-five, and even until the age of forty, men and especially women (now, after the war, there are many more of them than men) are forced to remain outside the framework of an arranged marriage.

In the old days, before the war, the main and, one might say, the only way out of this state was prostitution. Men easily found women who satisfied their desires for a fee. A woman often did not have the opportunity to find a job (the sphere of earnings for a woman was extremely narrow before the war) and, willy-nilly, fell into the category of prostitutes.

Of course, even today prostitution exists and continues to play its corrupting role; but we must not close our eyes to the fact that many more women - including young girls - are now living independent lives. In the further struggle for wages, whole millions of women will get out of the situation when they have to “make extra money” on the street in addition to insufficient wages. Whole millions have already come out of this situation.

On the basis of the increase in the economic independence of women, there is an increase in the phenomenon that many observers of the sexual life of Europe noted with sympathy - the growth of free unions between men and women. True, the concept of a free union often includes his childlessness. If the union that led to the birth of a child falls with the full weight of its consequences on the woman, then we have before us a disgusting phenomenon, very harmful to society. In the same case, when both parents have to take care of the child, there is no longer real freedom in the sense of independence from each other. That is why these relations between young people - lively, cheerful, free relations, leading to rapprochement and divergence on a comradely basis - unfortunately, inevitably involve all sorts of measures that prevent the birth of children. Leaving aside how good or evil this is, I am only stating this fact for now.

The prevailing phenomenon for a young worker, clerk, official, merchant, engineer, etc., that is, any young German male up to the very top of the social ladder, in the past was the purchase of a prostitute with all the threats of venereal diseases and all sorts of other "charms" related to this . The predominant form of sexual life in present-day Germany is the meeting of a young man with, so to speak, a completely neglected and self-possessed girl who lives on her earnings just like a man, who, like him, is looking for entertainment, by the way. , and a dear friend and does not cry at all if the short-term connection breaks up.

Dance locales, with which German cities are now full, by no means always have the character of "dens of debauchery." There is also debauchery there, but you will also find a large number of visitors in them, whom it would be extremely unfair to reproach for a "lewd life" - they just came to have fun; in many huge locales, you will be struck by the extraordinary respect of young people for each other, the presence of a significant number of parents, that is, entire families, one might say, from small to large. It is precisely these locales that serve in particular the petty bourgeoisie and the proletariat. Here, of course, very often there are those acquaintances that lead to regular marriages.

But to all this we must also add that, in general, the modern European ceases to consider sexual life as the axis around which human life revolves.

Not so long ago, Marcel Prevost, a well-known in his time, now “lost his teeth”, wept in a newspaper article that the French had forgotten their gallantry, and cited a remarkable fact from some questionnaire where young people were asked what they love most in life? Oh God! To this question, the gallant new Frenchman, the same one who does not give way to a woman on a tram, answered (and, moreover, this is answered by a Frenchman without distinction of belonging to the upper and lower strata of the bourgeoisie!), That he loves money, a car, a good meal, travel, and only in an extremely small - to the despair of Marcel Prevost - number of questionnaires - did he indicate physical love. This, in any case, is typical.

And indeed, if we turn to the world of athletes, acrobats, people in general, for whom the need to be “in shape” is in the first place, then we will notice that these people, so to speak, are forced to limit their sex life to the extreme. Sexual life seems to be the enemy of physical culture, any excesses in this area immediately affect the decrease in the overall physical tone. And since such an athletic attitude towards oneself begins to unfold in full breadth and capture all sections of the population without exception, including even the proletarian youth, it is natural that in general this healthy physical culture life of both sexes leads to a significant improvement in sexual life, firstly, by reducing all sorts of excesses. , and secondly, thereby making the very sensations more intense, deeper.

I have spoken in the preceding lines chiefly of Germany, but the same observations can be made in any country in Western Europe.

All or almost all the features that I have just listed are undoubtedly a household plus. Of course, we must not only carefully study these aspects of European life, but, in a certain respect, transfer them to ourselves.

However, in the physical culture life of the West there are also extremely many negative sides. I have already partly touched on them, speaking about the excesses of physical education among American students. But it is precisely these excesses, now that the Americanization of life is in general in full swing, that are being felt in Europe as well.

First, it should be noted that the bourgeoisie also sees sport as a preparation for slaughter. European sports smell strongly of blood.

Secondly, the bourgeoisie made sports, by a very clever device, one of the central justifications for the existence of capitalism, even, as it were, the material support of a whole new world outlook.

As for the first point, from the position in which we are, we have to treat it ambivalently. Of course, we are generally convinced anti-militarists. From this point of view, the “smell of blood”, which, as I just said, is inherent in European sports, is disgusting to us. But this smell of blood, hanging like a thick fog over Western Europe and America, is at the same time a thundercloud, heralding the possibility of war against us; moreover, we know that the last bloody account with the bourgeoisie is inevitable. Therefore, we are by no means pacifists, by no means forgiven and straightforward anti-militarists. We ourselves are compelled, in anticipation of the final victory of socialism, which will once and for all deliver humanity from the nightmare of war, to take serious care of our military training.

I once happened to observe an American rugby match extremely closely and directly, though not in reality, but on a superbly made American movie. The upside, of course, was that the respective talented director and talented performers tried their best to make this match even more spectacular than rugby in kind. But at the same time, an actor who plays his role for a certain bribe, and, moreover, plays it in pieces, for the cameraman, can hardly enter into that sporting brutality that should be inherent in rugby players who play their game seriously.

In any case, this game of rugby made a strong impression on me. Two motives dominated here, and observing them made this question much clearer for me than all my previous observations of Western sports.

A small note: it is impossible to watch gambling as a spectator from a perfect close distance. Details of gambling sports you at the same time! you don't see it anyway. Watching gambling as a participant is also impossible, because here it is impossible to be both an observer and a doer.

Perhaps only the arbitrator has the opportunity to observe from the sidelines and at the same time from the extreme near all the details of gambling. Such an opportunity is also provided by a beautiful artistically truthful film-image.

So, I repeat, two motives caught my eye in particular.

The first is the extreme passion, the endless devotion of human nature to the game. The game is not only perceived as a duty. Such a judgment is nonsense; duty, even if performed in the most conscientious manner, always has something compelling and to a certain extent painful in it. But the game is not a mere entertainment or a simple desire of a person to perform some functions suggested by the need of the organism: rugby, although it is a kind of football in which more or less everything is allowed, still has its own rules and its own high collective discipline. Thus here we have a game to which man gives himself of his own free will, but in which he not only voluntarily obeys all the rules with the greatest readiness, but also devotes the maximum of his energy to the achievement of a goal that is both personal and collective.

All participants in the match were smeared in the mud like pigs. All of them had bruises on their faces and bruises on their arms, legs and chest. They rolled head over heels, clung to each other and won the ball from each other in every possible way. They ran headlong, gave each other trips, fell with all their might to the ground so that it seemed they would not collect the bones. They showed an amazingly chivalrous attitude towards partners and experienced a fierce enmity towards the enemy. This is the first feature, which is complemented by the need for extraordinary strength and accuracy, striking speed and coordination of movements, which is clearly evident to the viewer, that is, with this immense devotion to the game, the need for constant control over oneself.

The second dominant feature of the game is its collectivity. Each of the two playing groups should show the maximum of internal solidarity, and, moreover, unusually subtle solidarity. The actions of a separate individual must be coordinated with the actions of the whole. Real strategic tasks are resolved here by individual consciousness, moreover, with the greatest speed and under the condition of understanding each other from a half-word, according to some kind of law from afar, one might say - by intuition.

What an enormous educational value this or a sport similar to it must have, at least during the entire period of time when military craft is not superfluous! If the West European bourgeoisie could train its own youth and that part of its subjects who will resignedly go to war on its orders in this way, and if our plain Asian pace of life and action remained unchanged, then there would be no doubts about the advantage that, by virtue of their resourcefulness and habit of coordination of actions, their soldiers would have over our fighter on the battlefields.

We are well aware that our Red! the army defends its socialist fatherland, and the European soldiers go largely against their own interests. This cannot but have a corrupting effect on the so-called "spirit of the troops" of the enemy. sides. But the European bourgeoisie will try to weed out and discipline in a certain way those select detachments that it decides to send against us. And these detachments, obviously, will be trained in the most perfect way.

That is why, while treating with the greatest disgust the blood-smelling side of European sports, we still say that we have no right to pass by it, and that the rubric of military training should include not only the forms of sports needed by the Red Army itself, but also exercises of pre-conscripts and, perhaps, of previous pre-conscription ages.

I turn to the second negative side of European sports. This includes the extreme passion for him. The development of European civilization in the last era of capitalism is aimless. If you ask even staunch supporters of capitalism or any major capitalist (I have had similar conversations) what the goal of European culture is, then he will either begin to make some kind of meaningless, unintelligible speeches, or he will directly say that formally this goal is comes down to the retention of power by the "elites", that is, the chosen ones, who were allegedly selected from all mankind by "natural" social selection, and that in essence this is a task of a quantitative order, i.e., the task of producing an increasing number of goods. They will also tell you that, at the same time, it goes without saying that more and more attention is paid to the fair distribution of wealth. However, distribution is extremely bad. Even those theoreticians who are trying to reform capitalism by introducing into it a certain corrective of justice (at least in words) are well aware that in itself, in its very principle, the capitalist system is opposed to any principle of organized distribution and that distribution the spontaneous leads to the constant accumulation of more and more goods in the hands of the upper classes and the formation of such a difference in their well-being and that of the working majority of the people, which cannot be ethically justified.

It is true that Nietzsche, that prophet of imperialist morality, said that progress could in no way be measured by the progress toward happiness of the majority of mankind, and that it was enough if, at the expense of whatever torments of this majority, special heights and especially striking achievements in the sense of happiness at least a small handful of people achieve. But our time is democratic enough for the capitalists to dare seriously, and not in the half-salon chatter of even a brilliant thinker, put forward this kind of thesis.

In general, capitalists are sensible enough to reason, and sincere enough not to lie too hypocritically. They need to prove that civilization captivates by its very scope and progress of the figures that characterize it.

Extremely characteristic from this point of view are the thoughts of some German socialists on the reform of education.

They say that, in taking care of the vocational education of the workers, in no case should one simply equip them with the appropriate knowledge and skills required by the qualifications of workers necessary for modern industry. The German theorists of vocational education take care to raise the production morale of the worker.

But how to do it? We have this production! Morality can be raised by including social elements in the educational and upbringing system, by establishing a connection between the knowledge acquired by workers and their further work, on the one hand, and the gigantic, all-human prospects for socialist construction, on the other.

And how can the bourgeoisie fill this void? How can she give a higher meaning to work and make it something other than a simple struggle for a piece of bread by serving the interests of the owner?

The theoreticians of vocational education in Germany have tried to find such a lofty ideal that could throw a bright light of enthusiasm on the working education of the proletarian youth. This ideal, however, is purely quantitative, and this is highly characteristic. They say: it is necessary to give working youth, who are trained in labor methods, an idea of ​​the colossal nature of the present industry, of the wonders of science that it contains, of the scope of technology, of a possible future, in the sense of new brilliant discoveries and new forms of rationalization. This kind of reasoning is very typical.

If you ask: what, strictly speaking, does the worker care about all this brilliant development of science and technology, if his own position does not improve at all from this, the answer may be that the general development of technology will undoubtedly have a beneficial effect on the position of the worker. . But it is no longer possible to deny the relative impoverishment of the working class, i.e., the fact that with the continued existence of capitalism, new economic successes will have to concentrate even more grandiose resources at the top, and the difference between the ever-increasing power of the capitalists and the economic insignificance of each individual worker unit must, of course, grow and grow. But these theorists of vocational education are silent about this. They only try to talk about a kind of poetry, about the fascinating "music of numbers", about sweetness, participation in such a grandiose and extraordinary process, etc.

I repeat, this is extremely typical.

Indeed, the entire modern capitalist culture is permeated with quantitative achievements. Questions of the purpose of life, some kind of reform of it, some kind of improvement of it in the sense of deepening the consciousness of mankind, in the sense of approaching some higher truth, are completely absent. The very staging of them by the more thoughtful defenders of capitalism is greeted with venomous mockery.

This is where sport is one of the most essential helpers of the ruling class in achieving the satisfaction of the broadest sections of the population.

The capitalist wants his worker-slave to be more or less satisfied with his existence. Discontent reflects badly on work and leads to the spread of communist ideas. Therefore the clerk, the petty clerk, the petty clerk, the laborer, should get their share of entertainment as far as possible; the most exciting, the most exciting and the most self-contained entertainment is sports.

If a person is captured by sports, it always seems to him that he is pursuing some goal. He constantly beats some, even a small record, he constantly makes sure that the next day he is stronger in this or that sport than he was the day before. He constantly has competitions - in teams or alone, and, perhaps, every day he is adorned with new and new successes. This universal pursuit of records is reflected in whole pages of newspapers devoted to the description of any major contests and the setting of new records in hundreds of different lines, while the largest records are so immensely famous and champions are surrounded by such exorbitant fame that almost obscures the glory of writers, scientists, artists, politicians, etc.

But, in addition to this constant striving for sports self-improvement, so to speak, widely, in public, you will always find an athlete and a kind of answer when you ask him what is the ultimate goal of his efforts. He will tell you: "The goal is clear, I am improving my body." - "And why do you improve your body?" - you ask. “In order to better be able to enjoy life.” He will add to this: “I work and try to use even my small earnings in such a way that it gives me the greatest pleasure, and this I can achieve by ordering life and, above all, by creating in myself health, a sense of life and physiological harmony.

He doesn't look beyond that. It seems to him that if in service or work he strives to increase his earnings, and in the line of physical education he improves himself, then this, in essence, is the way of a certain multiplication of what can be called happiness.

Of course, where critical thought has already awakened sufficiently sharply, or where the need is too great and there is no improvement in the situation, all this goes to hell and is replaced by a sharp outburst of discontent or even a consciousness of the need to put an end to capitalism. But to the best of their ability, the capitalists and the social democrats are trying to weaken these phenomena, not only and not so much, of course, with real benefits (since for this one would have to give up their own interests), but mainly with broadcast promises.

All this leads to an extremely meaningless life. Even some German thinkers of the highest standard, such as Dilthey or Oncken, for example, pointed to this progressive devastation of human consciousness from year to year. Every practical ideal—the one about which Engels said that we materialists have more idealism of this order than anyone else—completely disappears. For a very large number of modern people, especially young people, from the big-bourgeois students to the youth of the Social-Democrats, a practically reasonable, sober formulation of life consists in this formulation of the question of the need, through training and careful performance of their official duties, to increase their earnings and, next to that, take care of sports and training.

"Life for life's sake has been given to us," says the modern bourgeoisie. The answer would not be stupid - if it really was about the growing and improving life that Marx had in mind when he said that the height of each social system can be judged by the degree of development of the possibilities inherent in a person that he allows. But. the slogan "life for the sake of life is given to us" in the modern West simply means the rejection of any goals whatsoever that stand outside the circle of everyday life, economic and political, which is determined by capital. This is a rejection of the revolution, a rejection of the revision of living conditions, a rejection of raising fundamental questions about equality, true freedom, solidarity between people, etc. and replacing all this with a simple quantitative increase in the circle: work, training, etc. .

I summarize: the new physical culture, the basis of the Western European way of life, is a plus in comparison with the previous forms of life on the European continent. But the bourgeoisie cannot put sport and physical culture in their proper place in the sense of giving them a wider social significance (it narrows down their role, as will be seen from our further presentation), and at the same time leads to the fetishization of sports and to a purely military dodge in it. We can borrow a lot of physical culture from the West and, in particular, the Western bourgeoisie - our life is still far from being sufficiently permeated with physical culture. But we must avoid bourgeois narrowness, give physical education its rightful place not as some meaningless crown of existence, but, on the contrary, as a necessary foundation, one of the starting points for much more important achievements in human development.

II. In us
In the hands of the working class, physical education, in terms of gymnastics and sports, in our country has achieved significant success and has already surpassed Western European proletarian physical education. Despite this, in many respects we are by no means satisfied with what has been achieved. On the contrary, even if we used European criteria for self-assessment in this respect, even then we would have to say that we still have a lot of work to do in order to be able to embrace gymnastics and sports (not to mention the correct forms of labor, which I will not speak here, noting, however, the extreme importance of this aspect of training, which is perhaps the most significant in physical education) for our youth, adults, adolescents and children.

Meanwhile, as I said at the end of the first chapter, our concept of physical education should be much broader than the European one. In fact, Europeans do not introduce hygiene into the concept of physical education, as such. We can't take this point of view in any way. For us, physical education cannot be limited to gymnastics and sports. It should be posed as a set of questions about achieving the maximum health of the masses.

Being materialists, we perfectly understand that a person is a body, the most complex physical body, and that, in essence, the state of the functions of this body in the final. The social functions of a person also depend on the account. Of course, we do not adopt that narrowly biological point of view, which considers man as an isolated animal, and we would be ready to come up with such slogans that from the position “a healthy mind in a healthy body” it follows that “if all people were healthy then society would be great. This, of course, is sheer nonsense, and the most fundamental basis of correct social hygiene is the social revolution, power in the hands of the working majority and the ability to use this power, that is, a sufficient degree of solidarity and high building enthusiasm. And this is achieved not by the development of a separate individuality, physical or so-called "spiritual", but by social development.

But once this is given—and we really have it—the task is put forward—how to overcome all that nest in the human; diseases and painful deformities, acquired or hereditary, how to stop the very possibility of further development of such deformities, their appearance or simple preservation?

But if, however, we put the question in this way, it will become simply ridiculous to talk about physical education, without speaking, say, about the housing problem, with which Engels also began.

The first physical culture problem is the problem of building healthy buildings for work and housing. This is the deepest physical task in both its parts, both in delineating the norm, i.e., the best possible dwelling (of course, without any excesses), and in the economic plane, i.e., in the question of whether there can be the planned norm has already been realized in the capitals, in especially, perhaps, points chosen for such a normal development (recently in the Moscow region, for example, various departments of Orekhovo-Zuyevo are planning for this), in the average type of workers' settlements, in apartments inhabited labor intelligentsia, in the villages, down to the most remote nooks and crannies. The housing reform must gradually spread from the cultural centers to the most remote outskirts of our socialist Union.

This is followed by the question of the organization of the work itself. We will not dwell on this for a long time. Occupational hygiene in general (the question, for example, about rest, etc., as well as special occupational hygiene in individual professions) * cannot occupy our attention in this book, but we cannot but note that these questions are directly related to physical education and that, again, it is ridiculous to talk about gymnastics if you do not know in relation to what kind of work this gymnastics should play a corrective role.

* In the question of the organization of work and leisure, immense prospects are opening up with the transition to a continuous week.

Sport does not make sense if we do not raise the question of what kind of organism we are dealing with, what degree of fatigue and which organs this or that profession causes, because sport, to a certain extent, should be corrective, and, in any case, should be avoided. those types of it that would accumulate the fatigue that labor already gives.

Questions of nutrition are questions of physical culture. First of all, I take them in the narrowest section - the establishment of the amount of nutrients and vitamins and, for example, the method of preparing tasty food, "appetizing" enough, necessary in order to provide a perfectly normal influx of forces needed to support the growth of the body.

If in many cases We have malnutrition caused by an extreme degree of poverty, malnutrition, even a hunger strike, then this, of course, is a huge calamity, which we will fight with other, economic measures, which are now clear to everyone. But often there is malnutrition due to the inability to use food, and often we also see absurd "overnutrition".

With the correct formulation of questions of nutrition, it is possible to limit to a relatively small amount the expense that a person allocates for this. At the same time, we must remember that we in no way ignore the taste qualities of food, for we clearly remember that saturation itself should be not only a necessity, but also a noticeable joy in a person’s life, and that the most effective assimilation of food occurs in those cases when a person eats with gusto.

But the issue of nutrition is not at all confined to such a narrow framework. It has to be taken much more broadly, in connection with our thesis about the need to put an end to the household once and for all. By posing this problem, we introduce into major reforms of everyday life (along with the arrangement of human habitation and the arrangement of a number of communal services, which should also embrace the collectivization of the upbringing of children), the socialization of food and all domestic work.

Needless to say, all this is directly related to physical education, especially the nutrition of adolescents and children. Here this question becomes dominant: an improperly fed child learns incorrectly, develops incorrectly.

Noting the extreme importance for physical culture in the broad sense of settling all these aspects of life through its collectivization, we cannot, of course, engage in a more detailed study of this issue here. For us, it is only important to point out the need to develop all the problems of physical life together, because they are inextricably linked and dependent.

Nevertheless, we want to dwell on one particular sore point. This is the position of our students.

We promote to our students the best people among the workers and peasants, our truly golden youth. Our students are entrusted with a threefold task: firstly, the most intensive, persistent academic work; the fulfillment of one's social duties, the concern not to break away from one's class, secondly; and thirdly, taking care of your physics. Insufficient attention to any of these tasks makes, in essence, any preparatory work of the students and any concerns about them socially unnecessary. A half-educated person, even if he was a socially conscious person and bodily healthy, we don't need him. A knowledgeable and healthy person, devoid of communist consciousness, can be positively harmful to us. An excellent communist and a knowledgeable person, but with bad health - an invalid, not very fit for life.

If you put this threefold problem before any modern student, he may laugh out loud and say: “How do you think it is possible to solve these three problems under the existing living conditions, food and workload?”

Here we are faced with the question of ordering life, nutrition, the ability to use water, air and the sun, regulate rest and work - that is, entirely questions of physical education, which, of course, includes, as an integral part, gymnastics and sports. Thus, here, too, physical education is a social task of colossal importance, I would say one of the main problems with regard to the training of personnel for the coming years of socialist construction.

It should be noted that physical education is also directly related to the fight against alcoholism. Not only the negative solution of the problem, that is, the very expulsion of alcoholic beverages, is, of course, an important issue in the physical culture of our population; To a large extent, the means to kick vodka out of our country is precisely the solution of the problems of housing, food, pastime and the wide dissemination of sports.

It has been repeatedly pointed out that the smaller the child, the more his whole upbringing is reduced to physical education. Our business executives understand the tremendous importance of the physical education of a young animal for the entire livestock economy. But no one sets himself the problem of the physical education of children in its entirety. Meanwhile, the upbringing of children - direct child rearing - is more important for us than any pig or sheep breeding.

The problem of the physical education of children should cover the entire range of questions connected with the life of a child, starting from the very birth of these children and from the question of those forms of marriage that can, in the best possible way for our conditions, protect children from homelessness or neglect, from any kind of malnourishment, frailty, crooked, absurd forms of education, etc.

But if the question of marriage, the question of sexual culture, is of tremendous importance in connection with what I have allowed myself to call "child-rearing," then it is of enormous importance also for the adult population, especially for boys and girls who are in the period of puberty. The question of the culture of sexual life plays a gigantic role in the existence of individual individuals or entire nations. I cannot say that the bourgeoisie did absolutely nothing to bring order to this side of life. In the bourgeois environment there are advanced thinkers who have done quite a lot in this direction - for example, Max Hirschfeld and others like him. But not only is the solution of the question of the culture of sexual relations unattainable, but even its genuine posing is impossible outside the socialist system.

In this book of mine, the breadth of physical education issues is only briefly outlined. I maintain that physical education and social hygiene are one and the same. It is necessary in the near future to create a kind of encyclopedia that would describe in an accessible form before us a normal physical life in the city and countryside, that is, what we, socialists, should strive for, as the norm of physical life, dictated by the needs of the human body , human hostel and scientific data already known to us. We have scattered stones of such hygiene, but there is no compendium. What is needed is a kind of "wade mekum", that is, a detailed manual written in a clear enough and fascinating way. Of course, the lives of individuals are so different in their conditions in terms of localities, climate, professions, means, state of health, sex, age, etc., that it is difficult to embrace everything with detailed directions. However, it is extremely important that we try to surround as much as possible with scientifically thought-out advice to a person who wants to give the right direction to his own physical development and the development of his children.

The most important thing, of course, is not that such compendiums should be written; they will remain mere books if the whole construction of our life does not go in a direction that makes more and more accessible the actual implementation of the advice contained in these treatises and indexes.

Here is a brief outline of the difference between our production of physical education and Western European. It is quite obvious that with such a formulation, personal gymnastics, normal or corrective, and social gymnastics, as well as various sports, will enter as an extremely important part of this physical culture. The general concept of physical education will embrace all aspects of a person's physical life, while the specifically gymnastic, sports part will take its rightful place of work here.

This brings us to the problem of the place of physical education in the overall development of man.

From the point of view of consistent materialism, as we have already said, man is a purely physical being, and the features of his development are physical. But we know very well that no matter how important our bones, muscles, all kinds of organs, of our body, the nervous system and, in particular, the brain, its central apparatus, on which consciousness directly depends, are of special, specific importance. The special importance of this apparatus is resolutely recognized by everyone, including bourgeois individualists, but they, recognizing and teaching that it is precisely a developed brain that makes a person the most gifted animal, the most capable of defeating others, even if they are much stronger muscularly, quickly and dexterously, usually leave in the shade the main feature of the neuro-cerebral system in humans - that it is a social apparatus.

A gigantic function of our consciousness is speech. We may even consider that human thought without speech is absolutely impossible. Speech is a social factor that no one invents, but takes entirely from society. Through speech, he gets acquainted with the scientific, technical, moral, artistic baggage of mankind, its heritage. Of course, at the same time, he also acquires a lot of the most vile and unnecessary heritage, in the form of religion, prejudices, all kinds of bourgeois lies, etc. What he acquires must be cleared - but no less important are those social factors that thus participate in the formation of the human personality.

The development of the brain, of course, is just as much physical development as the growth of a bicep. But the difference, and an extremely significant one, is that the development of the brain can only mean the strengthening of the thinking apparatus, the enrichment of human memory with new and new materials, the better and better organization of this memory, the development of more and more subtle and complex reflexes, or, in other words, methods of action - and all this development always and inevitably has a purely social character and cannot be acquired by a person outside of society. Outside of society, man would be a miserable idiot, a being in many respects inferior to a highly organized animal.

In bourgeois society, divided into many classes, this development of the brain is mostly alien-eating, i.e., it is an improvement of the apparatus, directed to the evil of other people. Socialism lies precisely in the fact that social conditions are created under which the enmity of classes is radically destroyed after the disappearance of the classes themselves, and at the same time the enmity of races, sexes, etc.

Only a harmonious social system can lead to the fact that the neuro-cerebral system of each person individually will not lead him to actions that are contrary to the interests of society as a whole.

What is of great importance; physical development, in the usual sense of the word, or the development of the higher nervous system?

We can imagine a case where a person is highly physically developed, when his lungs, liver and the whole system of skin, muscles is perfection - but if this person is devoid of any social content, stupid, indecisive or angry, then we let us perceive him as a highly negative and repulsive person. On the contrary, if we have in front of us a sick person, with abnormal functions of the body, frail, but with excellent qualities of consciousness and character, i.e., with a strong thought, with a lot of knowledge, full of sympathy in relations with people of his class, we will to have an eminently sympathetic, positive type, extremely useful in society.

A person with strong muscles and lungs cannot bring as much benefit as a person with a strong brain can bring, because only a strong brain is the organizer of inter-individual, social and therefore especially powerful and significant phenomena.

But understanding the question of the value of such a physically frail, although "spiritually" (this word Marx and Engels used very often, and even without quotation marks) developed person, we, of course, come across the idea that his frailty, sickness should reduce him. efficiency, often, maybe even influence his moods and his thoughts, distort the course of their painful sensations. The very life of such a person may turn out to be short-lived, all sorts of long illnesses can knock him out of the ranks of workers; finally, the very feeling of life will be undermined in him, he may turn out to be deeply unhappy. This person, to whom we cannot refuse our sympathy, will not be rewarded with a feeling of sweetness, juiciness of life, which can really become the lot of a person only if the whole organism is in good health.

From this we conclude that physical health is a necessary condition for the correct function of that which is highest and most subtle in man, i.e., his brain apparatus, the correct actions of the highest order of his organism, the most broadly social order.

All these propositions show us the whole falsity of present-day bourgeois culture. A healthy body, surrounded by some comfort and convenience, is by no means all that is needed for the genuine development of culture. The fact of the matter is that the quantitative growth, about which the bourgeoisie talks so much, is itself, in essence, based on brain activity. We socialists! believe that if science and technology, art and the formation of methods of thought could be devoted not to a single handful of intellectuals, but to the entire population, then the progress of man's power over nature and the growth of human happiness would proceed at a rate completely incomparable to the present. For this, however, a fundamental change is needed in the entire modern system in the West. And side by side with this, if indeed the vast majority of the working population already now had a broad, deep consciousness of reality, its tendencies, the needs of man and mankind, then in that case no one would stop at the transition to the most fierce struggle for the transition to the most intensified socialist construction in order to heal the ugliness of the modern way of life.

We materialists are people of bright cheerfulness, we are people of health, and therefore we recognize the gigantic significance of physical culture. With laughter and indignation we reject the idealistic tales about any kind of spirit, about the opposition between the body and the spirit. But we “well know the difference between the body in the narrow sense, that is, between the individual development of a person, and the development of that special part of the human body, namely its brain system, which connects it with all people, with society and raises it to an enormous height over purely individual life. And this side of culture, which we call not "spiritual" but "social", we must put above physical culture, seeing in this latter only a strong foundation on which the edifice of socialist culture in the sense of the highest forms of life must be built.

This is the second correction of gigantic importance that we are making to that unhealthy cult of sport as a purely "corporeal" culture that we are now seeing in the West.

The thoughts presented here can, in my opinion, serve as some general introduction to the development of special questions that are included in the huge topic of social physical education in the transitional and socialist era.

III. We need boxing

You are asking me to express my opinion on boxing as a sport after you have shown me an excellent example of boxing training. I must say that in general I have a negative attitude towards boxing. It appeared to me because in bourgeois countries boxing takes on an extremely bloodthirsty character. On the one hand, boxing sessions are a cruel spectacle of the same order as bullfights and cause a corresponding sensation. The colossal name that champion boxers receive, the huge bonuses they are given, the big money boom around this business - all this makes one regard boxing as negatively as French wrestling. Therefore, when we started a movement against boxing, I remained indifferent to it, at least. I must say, however, that in recent times, thinking about all forms of bourgeois sport, I began to come to the conclusion that we must borrow from them much more than I originally thought. Bourgeois sport, swollen to the point of absurdity, which is a distraction of the broad masses from social interests, at the same time has two very important healthy streams. Firstly, like any physical culture, it is an excellent physical training, deeply beneficial to health, distracting young people from the sexual question that is painful for them at this time, resisting various diseases, and generally leading to a great recovery of young people. In this sense, our working and university youth needs sports to the highest degree, as well as all physical education in general. But, besides this, in bourgeois sport, next to the disgusting features of competition and careerism, which we should completely discard, there are undoubtedly features of the development of certain mental qualities that are highly important for us too and acquire a completely different meaning against the general background of our Culture. This includes decisiveness, firmness of will, fearlessness, the calculation of each movement, its accuracy, speed, the ability to navigate, in collective sports, with all the actions of opponents and partners, the ability in this sense to combine one's actions with the actions of others, to help and use help - all this develops the traits of perseverance, resourcefulness, courage, while in an atmosphere of struggle and in the order of cooperation with "one's own". Of course, I am not saying anything new for athletes by this, but I cannot but note that all these traits are absolutely necessary for us. In rugby, for example, I see not only a somewhat bestial passion for wrestling, but also the amazing results of corresponding training, and I cannot help but say to myself that many of these young people should develop excellent wrestlers both on the battlefield in the proper sense and on the field. battles of life. What was shown to me at the sports grounds of Narpit and communal services followed the same impressions, opened my eyes even more to some of the features of boxing and proved that a properly placed boxing can be extremely useful to us. First of all, the whole exercise machine shown to me is really amazing. No other exercise is like this. Boxing training covers the entire human body - the nervous system, heart, circulatory system, respiratory system, equally the muscles of the upper body and legs, equally muscular strength in the narrow sense of the word, develops resourcefulness and accuracy in its use. At the same time, further forms of boxing, as a sport, give endurance, endurance, fearlessness more, again, than any other sport.

Usually, against this they put forward (and I myself put forward) that anger that a person gets when he is subjected to a painful blow, that brutality that gradually seizes him from the desire to take revenge on the enemy and from the desire to achieve victory at all costs. However, thinking about the most ennobled forms of proper boxing, one has to come to the conclusion that these negative features, the appearance and development of which should not be allowed, are opposed in boxing itself by others. First of all, the fight is conducted in the strictest rules. This subjects all actions of the boxer to the constant control of his own nervous system. He is accustomed to extreme correctness in his fight. On this occasion, it is sometimes said that boxing teaches "chivalry" and "gentlemanship". But "chivalry" and "gentlemanship" do not impress us at all. These are very dubious complexes of concepts. The knights were robbers and rapists, and the word "gentleman" is ours; dear Vladimir Ilyich usually used in the sense of a swindler, a scoundrel, when, screwing up his eyes, he said: "Well, I won't talk to such a gentleman." But we have another word - "comrade". Boxing in the ups and downs, even the most intense and sometimes quite sensitive struggle, teaches to treat the enemy as a comrade with whom a common cause is being done. Such an attitude is quite possible in boxing, especially since there is an arbiter in it. And the slightest exclamation of the arbiter immediately cools down all the ardor and excitement of both opponents. Having thoroughly beaten each other, boxers often shake hands with a wide friendly smile. One can, of course, object: why, after all, beat each other? But we do not need to be too sentimental - in life we will still have to fight. Boxing is the best organized way of a real fight, however, subject to certain rules. What we need to take away from the maneuvers of the struggle - this very stamina, fearlessness, which cannot be obtained from an unthreatening sport, we get here, although, perhaps, at the price of a lantern under the eye. These reflections make me think that, fighting in every possible way with the passion for boxing, as a mass spectacle, with the admiration for boxing specialists characteristic of the bourgeois "amateur" of boxing, we should, for that part of our youth who want to subject themselves to this not in everything, " soft" sport, to provide a full opportunity to train. It is not necessary for any of our comrades to become a famous boxing champion, but it is very good if, through boxing training and light boxing - without any self-mutilation and excessive pummeling on a first-class world scale - many of our comrades, from working and student youth, get the right school.