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Soul and the bourgeois PDF Print E-mail
Psychology - Soul

schoolThe new Enlightenment which many seek after - among the most distinguished of them being the sociologist Ulrich Beck - speaks of the necessity for a new Fall of the Bastille.[1] This time, however, the call for this is not focused on opposition to the monarchy, but on dealing with the environmental problem, emergent economic totalitarianism, and the spiritual or cultural impasse, with reference to ourselves, to our identity.

The contemporary bourgeois has been moulded into a new kind of 'one-dimensional man', in the sense of the critique of Marcuse,[2] and of the progressive prosperity of Paul Valéry.

The bourgeois will determine future developments

The bourgeois is at the anthropological centre of developments both in the West and in the countries of former socialism in practice, as well as the 'emerging' economies, such as China, and countries of the so-called Third World. On the one hand, the bourgeois acquires power, but, on the other, his progress towards freedom and responsibility falls short, and is disproportionate to the power he acquires. An asymmetry between the dynamic of the acquisition of power and of responsible use of it, a condition for which is progression towards liberation from desire, is constantly widening.

The crucial point is the anthropological transformation of the bourgeois. His further evolution is connected with the new generation and virtual civilisation and new technology. We are at a new crossroads, which supplements the one that Oscar Wilde drew attention to in The Soul of Man Under Socialism.[3] What we are in search of is that the soul in the bourgeois should undergo upward evolution and overcome the tendency towards bourgeois alienation, which is consolidated - in religion also - as an absence of spirit.

The issue is that the bourgeois should cease to be supported by a slavery of others and also a systemic voluntary servitude of his own.[4] He has lost the measure in working for income. He tends increasingly to join the leisure or workaholic class, or both together, risking being turned into a mindlessly wealthy individual, into a conqueror of the world, who, however, has lost his soul, because that was his very last priority.

The bourgeois has lost the measure in the matter of work, even as compared with ancient slavery, in spite of the institutional safeguarding of privatism and freedom. The Protestant work ethic of capitalism has contributed - to a dominant degree - together with man's anthropological deficiencies in world theory, the deficit in his inwardness, to this lack of measure.


The bourgeois and the culture of youth form the crucial anthropological fabric of the age and of the generation which is homoeostatically definitive for the future. It is here that turning attention to the soul on terms of responsibility, will, freedom, collectivity, and detachment, on terms of reason based on justice, bears particular weight.

We are again approaching unprepared the tragedy of a major crisis with an existential painfulness, exactly as the structure of tragic drama would have it.[5]

• Our viability will be tested by our ability to re-establish the framework of our life and our relationships on new and correct bases.

• Thus the question arises of drawing the attention of the bourgeois to the soul, in the sense of transcendency, the detachment of the consciousness, the minimisation of the desire for power by means of participation in a collectivity and by networking of voluntarism, social consummation of freedom, its realisation, and the fulfilment of brotherhood.

[1] Beck Ulrich, Climate for Change
We have to attack head-on the key question: Why is there no storming of the Bastille because of the environmental destruction threatening mankind, why no Red October of ecology? Why have the most pressing issues of our time – climate change and ecological crisis – not been met with the same enthusiasm, energy, optimism, ideals and forward-looking democratic spirit as the past tragedies of poverty, tyranny and war?

[2] Marcuse, Herbert, One-Dimensional Man [Greek edition], publ. Papazisis, 1971.

[3] Wilde, Oscar, The Soul of Man Under Socialism [Greek edition], publ. Sokolis Kouledakis, 2008.

[4] De La Boétie, Etienne, Discours de la servitude volontaire [Greek edition], publ. Panoptikon, 2005.
"A people is enslaved of its own accord, it cuts its own throat, when, having chosen between being subordinate and being free, it abandons its freedoms and passes under the yoke, consenting to its own wretchedness, or, rather, plainly welcoming it" ... "there is nothing that a human being could love more than the restoration of his own natural right, than being transformed from a beast with a bent back into a man."

[5] Veblen, Thorstein, 1982, Theory of the Leisure Class [Greek version], publ. Kalvos. Each class is driven by envy and competes with the class immediately above it on the social scale, whereas it has no wish to be compared with those below it or much higher than it is. ... The leisure class ... is at the apex of the social structure, values are calculated in accordance with its own criteria and its way of life determines the model of respectability for the whole of society ... Consequently, the members of each social class accept as ideal savoir-vivre the way of life of that class immediately above it and directs all its energy to the attainment of this ideal.

Yiannis Zisis, writer

Photograph by commons.wikimedia.org


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