Oittinen V. Vadim Mezhuev’s Theory of Culture: Problems and Perspectives of a Marxist Approach // Культурологический журнал. 2011. №4(6). URL: http://cr-journal.ru/en/journals_en/84.html&j_id=6.

Впервые текст статьи был обнародован в виде доклада на VIII Всемирном конгрессе Международного совета по исследованиям Центральной и Восточной Европы (ICCEES) в Стокгольме в июле 2010 г.

Статья посвящена оригинальной теории культуры, которую развивал В. М. Межуев. Он был одним из приверженцев деятельностного подхода в советской философии и принадлежал к числу тех немногих, кто использовал идеи этого подхода при построении теории культуры. Критикуя старый, догматический взгляд на культуру, который предполагает в ней только некую сумму умножающихся культурных свершений, он предложил искать сущность культуры в концепции труда, развиваемой К. Марксом. В соответствии с концепцией Межуева, культура является, прежде всего, результатом «всеобщего труда», который Маркс в «Очерке критики политической экономии» (1857–1858) охарактеризовал как научный и творческий труд, в отличие от конкретного и абстрактного труда. «Трудовая теория культуры» Межуева является инновационной и открывает новые перспективы для понимания феномена человеческой культуры. Однако она имеет и некоторые проблемы, из которых самой важной представляется та, что В. М. Межуев слишком решительно отделял культуру как сферу свободной деятельности от отчужденного мира абстрактного труда.

Vadim Mezhuev’s Theory of Culture
Problems and Perspectives of a Marxist Approach

Abstract. The paper deals with the original theory of culture developed by Vadim Mezhuev, who was one of the adherents to the so-called “activity approach” in Soviet philosophy, and actually one of the few, who applied the ideas of this approach to the theory of culture. Criticising the old dogmatic view on culture, which saw in it only a cumulative growth of cultural accomplishments, as “summative”, he proposed that the “substance” of culture should be sought in the concept of labour developed by K. Marx. More specifically, culture is, according to the concept developed by Mezhuev, a product of the “labour in general”, which Marx had in the Grundrisse of 1857–1858 characterized as scientific and creative labour, in contrast to both concrete labour and the abstract labour conducted capitalism. Mezhuev’s “labour theory of culture” is innovative and opens new perspectives for understanding the phenomenon of human culture. It contains, however, some problems too, of which the most important seems to be that Mezhuev tends to distinguish culture too strictly as a sphere of free activity from the alienated world of abstract labour, leaving these two spheres without mediation.*

Keywords: Vadim Mezhuev, activity approach in Soviet philosophy, Karl Marx, labour in general, theory of culture   

Background: the 1960s in Soviet Philosophy

One of the most interesting phenomena in Soviet philosophy was undoubtedly the emergence of the so-called “activity approach” (dejatel’nostnyj podkhod[1] in the 1960s. It was not long before it was applied to a wide range of humanities, especially psychology and cultural sciences. Although the idea of Man as an active subject was already inherent in the Marxist concept of “praxis”, and the psychologist Sergei Rubinstein had, as early as in the 1930s, partly under Neo-Kantian influence, developed ideas foreshadowing the dejatel’nostnyj podkhod, the activity approach was essentially a product of the atmosphere of the 1960s, when the straightforward dogmatism of the Stalinist period was mitigated. Typically, the problems of human sociability – the “social form of movement”, to reiterate a well-known phrase from F.Engels – were not discussed on a general philosophical level until the end of the 1950s. In the 1960s there began, however, a discussion on the problematics of human activity, and on material and ideal production, which at the same time meant the production of Man of himself. Particularly important philosophers were Evald Il’enkov (1924–1974), Genrikh Batishchev (1932–1990) and Yury Davydov. Considering more noteworthy publications belonging to this period one could mention the collective work Problema cheloveka v sovremennoj filosofii (M., 1969). 
Genrikh Batishchev seems to have been one of the first philosophers who tried to apply the new approach to the concept of culture. In an early article, published in 1962, he wrote: “The human culture presents itself to the emerging humanity in a reified form – as an overwhelming richness of results of past labour. The living activity of many generations has become congealed and embodied into the properties of the ”things”: technical instruments, tools, works of art, books […] All this must be acquired back, all this must be de-reified – it must be enlivened, the attributes of “things” must be turned into the content of a new activity, of new creative abilities […] Only in the living fire of human labour the cultural values are able to live, to change their form and to enrich themselves” [2].

For Batishchev, the category of “activity” was central in order to explain the essence of human sociability, indeed the essence of Man himself. It formed the “cell”, of which material and ideal forms of culture were to be deduced, in an analogy of Marx’s concept of commodity in Capital, which forms the starting-point of the exposition of capitalist economy and from which use-value, exchange value, money, credit, capital, interest, etc. are deduced. Batishchev understood the activity as a dialectical unity of reification (opredmechivanie) and de-reification (raspredmechivanie[3], clearly developing and systematising here Marx’s account of the labour process in the Paris Manuscripts of 1844.

To my mind, these outlines of the “shestidesjatniki” generation of Soviet philosophers would have offered a good starting-point for a more adequate understanding of a Marxist anthropology than the parallel discussions in the West on “Marxist humanism”, which were also inspired by the Paris Manuscripts of Marx and led to the well-known “anti-humanistic” counterattack by Althusser and his disciples. Had the ideas of Soviet “activity approach” been better known in the West, they might have helped to find a constructive way out of the impasse created by the Althusserians and enabled a scientific-rational (i.e. not only existentialistic) theory of Marxist humanism. However, of course, it is useless to cry over spilt milk.

General labour as the “substance” of culture

Vadim Mezhuev’s theory of culture has its roots in the discussions of the dejatel’nostnyj podkhod. The early Soviet discussions on the theory of culture (I prefer this expression instead of the somewhat dubious “culturology”, kul’turologiya) was based on the idea of culture as a product of human activity. Here it differed from the older, “statistic” approach to culture as simply a “sum of goods” inherited from previous generations (an approach Mezhuev calls the “summative concept of culture” [4]). However, the new approach was not homogeneous. Some of its protagonists stressed the activity as a form of human creativity (as Batishchev, whose concept had an unmistakably existentialist-individualist taint), while the others took a more “sociologist” stance and analysed human activity as a social phenomenon. These two interpretations might be called “anthropological” and “sociological” and they were, of course, to some extent complementary; yet, they stated a dualism in Marxist cultural theory, which was problematic.

Mezhuev’s own concept of culture, as it emerged from the late sixties onwards, was an attempt to overcome this dualism. According to him, the main flaw of both interpretation currents was their too general concept of the culture-creating activity: “The general shortcoming of the above-mentioned concepts of culture was, that reducing it to one or another singular moment (side) of ‘labour in general’ – to the instrument, the result or the active subject of labour, or to them all at once – they did not recognize the special character of the labour which creates the culture. In these conceptions every kind of labour was declares to be the source of culture, and even the addition of the word ‘creative’ did not quite clear up the picture. Thus the references to Marx went beside the point, because according to Marx the labour has a more complicate structure than the authors of the above mentioned conceptions thought” [5].

After having stated that in analogy to Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit one could call Marx’s theory a phenomenology of labour, Mezhuev asserts that the novelty and originality of Marx’s concept of labour was the idea of “dual character of labour”, which he regarded as one of his main discoveries.

Mezhuev refers to Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Programme, where Marx rebuked the inexact use of the term “labour” by the German Social Democrats and corrects their formulations into the following form: “ ‘Labour becomes the source of wealth and culture only as social labour’, or, similarly, ‘in and through society’ ”, continuing with the remark: “[Al]though isolated labour (its material conditions presupposed) can create use-value, it can create neither wealth nor culture” [6].

According to Mezhuev, Marx is operating here with a dual concept of labour. This side of Marx’s theory of labour is well known. There is, on the one hand, concrete labour, which produces concrete, material use-values, and then, on the other hand, labour which creates value, that is, “abstract labour”. Concrete labour per se is not a differentiaspecifica of human labour, because even animals can produce in this way. The human form of labour is social, and this social form of labour has different shapes in history. In antagonistic social forms, in the first instance within capitalism, the social form of labour appears as value-producing abstract labour [7]. Even this form of labour does not, in Mezhuev’s interpretation, produce culture, because it is an alienated form, whose goal is the production of commodities, and “in the form of commodity the social ties between men do not receive the form of culture, but the form of exchange-value” [8].

There is, however, yet another form of social labour, which is not alienated and does not serve the production of exchange value only. This is general labour (allgemeine Arbeit), a concept, which Marx introduces in Chapter 5, the 1st part of vol. III of Capital and which he has borrowed from the Ricardian socialists. For Marx, all inventions and all science are based on general (universal) labour: “Incidentally, a distinction should be made between general labour and co-operative labour. Both kinds play their role in the process of production, both flow one into the other, but both are also differentiated. General labour is all scientific labour, all discovery and all invention. This labour depends partly on the co-operation of the living, and partly on the utilisation of the labours of those who have gone before. Co-operative labour, on the other hand, is the direct co-operation of individuals” [9].

According to Mezhuev, only general labour, a labour where its “dual nature” has been sublated, “is capable of producing culture”: “Only labour, where its ‘dual nature’ has been overcome, is capable of producing culture. Such a labour Marx called for ‘general labour’, and for him above all the science served as an example of this kind of labour. In difference from the abstract labour, the general labour creates the social connection not in a reified, but in an immediately social, human form. Therefore, it constitutes the ‘substance’ of culture. However, not only scientific work does possess such kind of quality, but even other forms of activity (e. g. the art), whose goal is not to produce only a consumer article or a commodity, but such kind of product, which represents the general interest just thanks to its concreteness, its unicality” [10].
In contrast to the other theoreticians of the dejatel’nostnyj podkhod, who had spoken of Man’s “activity” in general and philosophical terms only, Mezhuev thinks that all “activity” is not culture. Summarising the content of his book Kul’tura i istoriya of 1977, he writes: “From this point of view, the culture is not simply identical to the activity. The activity is a way of how the development of culture exists, but not yet the culture itself. In its authentic existence, culture appears, in addition, as a system, but not a system of the ways and species of the activity, but as a system of the human relations created in the process of activity, relations, which connect people in space and time. Thus, the social relations are not excluded from the culture; they form its very essence. However, they appear in it not in a upside-down turned form of economic, political and ideological relations and institutions […], but in a real human, or personal form” [11].

In other words, “culture” – or its substance, to be exact – consists, for Mezhuev, of the “inalienable part” of human activity. This concept of culture as a product of “general labour” has the unquestionable advantage of creating a bridge between a Marxist theory of culture and the more general historico-materialist theory of social forms of production, indeed, even with the critique of political economy, which forms the innermost core of Marxian doctrines. At the same time, it destroys – although Mezhuev did not bother, for obvious reasons, to stress this too much in Soviet times – the accepted Histomat idea of basis and superstructure, where culture is seen as a phenomenon of the non-economic superstructure only. Instead, culture is now viewed as an organic moment of all human productive activity.

Later, Mezhuev developed his concept of culture towards a theory of socialism in a series of essays, which were republished in the collection Marks protiv marksizma (2007) [12]. As the provocative title suggests, the book was aimed against the dogmas of Soviet Histomat, which, according to Mezhuev, had altogether concealed and distorted Marx’s real thoughts. In this respect, the book was a pendant to Teodor Oizerman’s Marksizm i utopizm (2003), which in a similar manner and in part self-critically (for Oizerman had from the 1970’s onwards been one of the leading Soviet philosophers) “deconstructed” the heritage of Soviet Marxism.

In the article of the above collection, Marks kak teoretik istorii, obshchestva i kul’tury, Mezhuev stresses that the sub-title of Marx’s main work, Critique of Political Economy, should be understood so that Marx is not criticising the bourgeois politeconomy in order to create a new and better economic theory; on the contrary, his intention is to make a complete departure from the sphere of “economy”: here the word critique «must be understood not as a negation of the economical science but as a constatation of its existence limits, in the context of scientific knowledge understood but more broadly, that is, in the context of the science of history. The goal of Marx, as I understand it, was not to create some new economic theory, but to demonstrate that such fundamental categories of economical science as commodity, money, surplus value, capital etc. are not apriorical or absolute truths, but relative truths in the best case, which have a sense only for a certain phase of history [13].

This attempt to define the boundaries of applicability has a Kantian touch, and Mezhuev states that, just as Kant wanted with his critique of pure reason to restrict the ambitions of metaphysics, Marx wanted, in the same manner, to show that political economy “should be understood in its historical limits, that is, as a historically specific, non-universal form of scientific knowledge” [14]. It follows that “culture” is something, which transcends economy, and that from the viewpoint of culture it is possible to criticise the world of alienated labour of commodity production. Culture is, of course, a production too, but a production, which has the non-economic character: “it can be defined as the production of Man as a social being, or social self-production” [15].

In that sense, “culture” becomes in Mezhuev’s view identical with “socialism”; in other words, “socialism” should, according to him, not be understood as a specific socio-economic formation, but a state where, according to Marx, the “bornierte bürgerliche Form” of wealth is removed and producers can freely develop their personality. The well-known formulation of Marx reads: “But in fact, when the limited bourgeois form is stripped away, what is wealth other than the universality of individual needs, capacities, pleasures, productive forces, etc., created through universal exchange? The absolute working out of his creative potentialities, with no presupposition other than the previous historic development, which makes this totality of development, i.e., the development of all human powers as such the end in itself, not as measured on a predetermined yardstick?” [16]

Some comments

I do not have enough space nor time within this essay to give a detailed account of Mezhuev’s theory of culture, which, to my mind, is one of the most interesting phenomena of the post-Soviet Marxism. There has been some discussion in Russia on Mezhuev’s theses, and I happen to know that the Russian philosophical journal Logos is preparing a special issue on Mezhuev, which will possibly be published at the beginning of 2011.

Although Mezhuev’s interpretation of Marxism is original and contains deep insights, it is not, however, free of problems. In a review of Mezhuev’s Marks protiv marksizma in the Voprosy Filosofii (3/2009) I tried to assess the book’s strong and weak sides. There were two problems in particular in Mezhuev’s concept of culture, which I found problematic, although not fatal – after all, it is always possible to interpret his concepts in a different way from those within the Marxist theory.

The first problem is that Mezhuev distinguishes the spheres of “culture” and “economy” in such a rigid manner; consequently the “realm of freedom”, which is so longed for, seems to become transcendent (here again we have a Kantian analogy, this time with the Reich der Zwecke). Thus, it becomes difficult to formulate any actual political goals, which would help us to find ways out from the sphere of alienated, economic life. We have here, in fact, the old problem of the fin-de-siècle Neo-Kantian “ethical socialists”: if culture and socialism lie outside of all economy, in a kind of transcendency, how can one reach them, when, in every case, all our “immanent” activity will bear the signature of the economy. This problem has already aroused some critique against Mezhuev’s views in Russia, especially by Boris Slavin, who accused Mezhuev of “a flight from reality”. Slavin’s critique, which is reproduced in Mezhuev’s latest book, seems to me, however, be somewhat misplaced, as he sees the way, in which his theory creates a gulf between the material and the ideal components of society, as Mezhuev’s main fault [17]. Such a gulf may exist in Mezhuev’s theory, but it is, to my mind, only a consequence of the primary gulf between the “phenomenal” world of alienated economic life and the “noumenal” cultural life.

The second problem is, however, more interesting. If culture and socialism are both considered as products of general labour, this seems, therefore, to imply that this form of activity is, as the “most human” and free activity, at the same time has no traces of alienation. Indeed, Mezhuev is quite explicit on this point: “Culture, as Marx understands it, is a human form of social wealth, in difference from the capital, which is its alienated form” [18]. In other words, culture, which “transcends” all economy, at the same time, does transcend all alienation [19].

It is of course clear that such a rigid – indeed, “Kantian” – separation between alienated and non-alienated (i.e. free) spheres of human activity produces many problems. Let us take, for example, religion. From the Marxist point of view, religion is an expression of human alienation par excellence, as it expresses nothing but a “twisted” relation of Man to reality. So, according to the criteria proposed by Mezhuev, religion would not belong to culture. How then, should we evaluate the products of religious art? Even a most headstrong atheist would begin to hesitate here, since to accept this claim would seemingly lead to the conclusion that the immense treasures of religious art should be excluded from “culture”. True, it would be possible to argue, that – if we continue with our example – what call religious art is “religious” only seemingly, in form, whereas its “material” content would express humanistic values. This is indeed a possible line of argument, but in that case it follows, nevertheless, that no neat separation of “alienated” (economic) and “free” (cultural) spheres of human activity is possible, but that they are interwoven in a most intricate way.

A further problem, besides the two points mentioned above, is that the concept itself of “general labour” (allgemeine Arbeit), which according to Mezhuev should be the form of human activity producing culture, occurs in Marx’s works only sporadically. In fact, Marx has not created any comprehensive theory of allgemeine Arbeit[20]. It seems that he has taken both the concept and the idea of general labour (in contrast to abstract labour) from the left Ricardians (Thomas Hodgskin et al.) but has not had time to integrate it fully in his own labour theory. However, this is, of course, only a problem for Mezhuev, whilst he passes for a Marxist. I, for my part, could well imagine that a new theory of culture might be based on the idea of “general labour”, without any specific Marxist aspirations.

* The paper was presented at the ICCEES Congress, Stockholm, 24–28 July 2010.


[1] The English translation of this notion is not quite adequate, since “activity” is a more abstract concept than dejatel’nost’; in fact, it denotes but the opposition to “passivity” (cf. even the German terms Aktivität and Tätigkeit, of which the latter roughly corresponds to Russian dejatel’nost’, while the first one is more general). However, especially in psychology, the translation activity pro dejatel’nost’ is already established, so I use it in this paper.

[2] Г. С. Батищев, Методологические аспекты формирования целостной личности, in: Доклады Академии педагогических наук РСФСР, 1962, № 2, pp. 23–24; cited here according to В. М. Межуев, Идея культуры, М., 2006, p. 281. In original: “Культура человечества предстает перед становящимся человечеством в опредмеченной форме – как необозримое богатство результатов прошлого труда. Живая деятельность многих поколений застыла и воплотилась в свойствах «вещей» – технических устройств, сооружений, произведении искусства, книг. […] Все это подлежит освоению, все это нужно распредметить – оживотворить, превратить свойства «вещей» в содержание новой деятельности, новых способностей к творчеству. […] И только в живом огне человеческого труда культурные ценности могут жить, перевоплощаться и обогащаться”.

[3] Again, the English translation is somewhat inappropriate. The German equivalents for opredmechivanie and raspredmechivanie are Vergegenständlichung and Entgegenständlichung.

[4] В. М. Межуев, Идея культуры, p. 282.

[5] Ibid., p. 302. In original: “Общим недостатком перечисленных выше концепций культуры было то, что, сводя ее к тому или иному отдельному моменту (стороне) «труда вообще» – средству, результату или действующему субъекту или к ним всем вместе, – они упускали из виду особый характер труда, создающего культуру. В этих концепциях любой труд объявлялся источником культуры, и даже добавление к нему «творческий» не вполне проясняло суть дела. При этом ссылки на Маркса не достигали цели, поскольку труд в понимании Маркса имел более сложно структурированный характер по сравнению с тем, как его трактовали авторы данных концепций”.

[6] In the German original: „Quelle des Reichtums und der Kultur wird die Arbeit nur als „gesellschaftliche Arbeit“ oder, was dasselbe ist, „in und durch die Gesellschaft“. Dieser Satz ist unstreitig richtig, denn wenn die vereinzelte Arbeit (ihre sachlichen Bedingungen vorausgesetzt) auch Gebrauchswerte schaffen kann, kann sie weder Reichtum noch Kultur schaffen”.

[7] Cf. Marx’s definitions in Das Kapital, Vol. I: „Alle Arbeit ist einerseits Verausgabung menschlicher Arbeit im physiologischen Sinn, und in dieser Eigenschaft gleicher menschlicher Arbeit oder abstrakt menschlicher Arbeit bildet sie den Warenwert. Alle Arbeit ist andererseits Verausgabung menschlicher Arbeitskraft in besonderer zweckmäßiger Form, und in dieser Eigenschaft konkreter nützlicher Arbeit produziert sie Gebrauchswerte…“ Karl Marx, Das Kapital I, MEW bd. 23, s. 61.

[8] В. М. Межуев, Идея культуры, p. 304–305.

[9] The passage in original in Karl Marx, Das Kapital III, MEW bd. 25, s. 113 sqq.: „Nebenbei bemerkt, ist zu unterscheiden zwischen allgemeiner Arbeit und gemeinschaftlicher Arbeit. Beide spielen im Produktionsprozeß ihre Rolle, beide gehen ineinander über, aber beide unterscheiden sich auch. Allgemeine Arbeit ist alle wissenschaftliche Arbeit, alle Entdeckung, alle Erfindung. Sie ist bedingt teils durch Kooperation mit Lebenden, teils durch Benutzung der Arbeiten Früherer. Gemeinschaftliche Arbeit unterstellt die unmittelbare Kooperation der Individuen.
Das Oben gesagte erhält neue Bestätigung durch das oft Beobachtete:
1. Den großen Unterschied der Kosten zwischen dem ersten Bau einer neuen Maschine und ihrer Reproduktion …
2. Die viel größeren Kosten, womit überhaupt ein auf neuen Erfindungen beruhender Betrieb betrieben wird, verglichen mit den späteren, auf seinen Ruinen, seinen Überresten, aufsteigenden Unternehmen. Dies geht so weit, das die ersten Unternehmer meist Bankrott machen und erst die späteren, in deren Hand Gebäude, Maschinerie etc. billiger kommen, florieren. Es ist daher meist die wertloseste und miserabelste Sorte von Geldkapitalisten, die aus allen neuen Entwicklungen der allgemeinen Arbeit des menschlichen Geistes und ihrer gesellschaftlichen Anwendung durch kombinierte Arbeit den größten Profit zieht.”

[10] В. М. Межуев, Идея культуры, p. 305. In original: “Только труд, в котором преодолен его «двойственный характер», способен производить культуру. Такой труд Маркс называл всеобщим, примером чего для него служила, прежде всего, наука. В отличие от абстрактного труда всеобщий труд создает общественную связь не в вещной, а непосредственно общественной, человеческой форме. Поэтому он и образует «субстанцию» культуры. Качеством такого труда обладает, однако, не только наука, но и другие формы деятельности (искусство, например), целью которых является создание не просто потребительского блага или товара, но такого продукта, который представляет всеобщий интерес в силу именно своей конкретности, уникальности, неповторимости”.

[11] Ibid., pp. 305–306. In original: “Культура, с этой точки зрения, тождественна не просто деятельности: последняя есть способ существования и развития культуры, но еще не сама культура. В своем собственном бытии культура предстает тоже как система, но не способов и видов деятельности, а создаваемых в процессе деятельности человеческих отношений, связывающих людей в пространстве и времени. Таким образом, общественные отношения не исключаются из культуры, а образуют самую ее суть. Однако они предстают в ней не в превращенной форме экономических, политических, идеологических отношений и институтов […], а в собственно человеческой, или личностной, форме”.

[12] В. М. Межуев, Маркс против марксизма,cтатьи на непопулярную тему, М., 2007.

[13] Ibid., p. 43. In original: “[cлово «критика»] здесь надо понимать не как отрицание экономической науки, а как установление границ его существования в пространстве более широко понятого научного знания – исторического знания. Целью Маркса, как я понимаю, было не создание какой-то новой экономической теории, а доказательство того, что такие основополагающие ее категории, как товар, деньги, прибавочная стоимость, капитал и пр., являются не априорными и абсолютными истинами, а в лучшем случае – истинами относительными, имеющими смысл только для определенного этапа истории”.

[14] Ibid., p. 43.

[15] Ibid., p. 80: “ее можно определить как производство человеком себя как общественного существа, или как его общественное самопроизводство”.

[16] Karl Marx, Grundrisse der Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, Berlin: Dietz, 1974, p. 387: ”In der Tat aber, wenn die enge bürgerliche Form abgestreift wird, was ist der Reichtum anders, als die im universellen Austausch erzeugte Universalität der Bedürfnisse, Fähigkeiten, Genüsse, Produktivkräfte etc. der Individuen? Die volle Entwicklung der menschlichen Herrschaft über die Naturkräfte, die der so genannten Natur sowohl, wie seiner eigenen Natur? Das absolute Herausarbeiten seiner schöpferischen Anlagen, ohne andere Voraussetzung als die vorhergegangene historische Entwicklung, die diese Totalität der Einwicklung, d.h. die Entwicklung aller menschlichen Kräfte als solcher […] zum Selbstzweck macht?”

[17] Cf. В. М. Межуев, Маркс против марксизма, p. 165.

[18] Ibid., p. 77. In original: “Культура в трактовке Маркса – это человеческая форма общественного богатства, в отличие от капитала – отчужденной […] формы этого богатства”.

[19] It would be interesting – I do no attempt to do it in this paper – to try to find points of contact of Mezhuev’s theory of culture with the “existentialist” Marxism of Genrikh Batishchev, which proposed another, more “subjectivist” version of the dejatel’nostnyj podkhod. Batishchev interpreted the idea of human activity from a different point of view than Il’enkov, focusing, instead of a general concept of activity, on the “creativity” (tvorchestvo) as the essential modus of human activity. Creativity means, for Batishchev, the absence of that, which Sartre, in another context, called for «practico-inert» in the subject. In other words, there is in human existence something, which is irreducible to the objective side of practical activity. Batishchev sometimes refers to this “inalienable nucleus” of Man as a “spark” (iskra), which contains “the presupposition of a positive freedom”. From this follows, according to Batishchev, that “neither the objectivation nor the alienation can never be absolute, but they are always only historically relative and transient phenomena” (see Г. С. Батищев, Введение в диалектику творчества, СПб., 1997, p. 233: “А по сути дела, такое неотчуждаемое и неовещняемое содержание и есть та неугасимая, затаившаяся в недрах человеческого виртуального бытия «искра», из которой только и может возгореться «истинное царство свободы», стало быть – «искра», содержащая предпосылку положительной свободы. Короче говоря, ни овещнение, ни отчуждение никогда не могут быть абсолютными, но всегда лишь исторически относительны и преходящи”). If we apply this view to Mezhuev’s theory of culture, so culture could indeed be seen as the sphere where this “inalienable nucleus” of Man is realised. Even in this case, however, the problem of a Kant-style transcendence remains.

[20] For a detailed survey of the occurrences of this problematic concept in Marx’s critique of political economy, see Wolfgang Fritz Haug, Allgemeine Arbeit, in: Historisch-kritisches Wörterbuch des Marxismus, bd. I, Berlin: Argument Verlag, 1997, sub verbo.

Источник http://cr-journal.ru/en/journals_en/84.html&j_id=6

Автор: Веса Ойтинен — финский философ, специалист в области истории идей и знаний, научный сотрудник Александровского института Хельсинкского университета.