- Quote :
The great order of the ages is born afresh.
now a new lineage is sent down from high heaven.
fourth Eclogue of Virgil
The New Man is a utopian concept that involves the creation of a new ideal human being or citizen replacing un-ideal human beings or citizens. The meaning of a New Man has widely varied and various alternatives have been suggested by a variety of religions and political ideologies, including communism, liberalism, fascism, and utopian socialism.
Christian New Man
The doctrines of Paul the Apostle speak of Adam both as the fallen "Old Adam" and a "New Adam" as referring collectively to the fallen Old Man of humanity and a resurrected New Man following Jesus.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's concept of an Übermensch ("Superman") was that of a New Man who would be a leader by example to humanity through an existentialist will to power that was vitalist and irrationalist in nature. Nietzsche developed the concept in response to his view of the herd mentality of Christianity as a faith. Nietzsche did not attack the teachings and examples of Jesus, but claimed that the Christian faith forced people merely to believe in the way of Jesus, but not to act as Jesus did, in particular Jesus' example of refusing to judge people that Nietzsche claimed Christians had deliberately done the opposite of this.
Liberal New Man
Thomas Paine and William Godwin believed that the spread of liberalism in France and the United States constituted the birth of a New Man and a new era.
Utopian Socialist New Man
Utopian socialists such as Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier and Robert Owen saw a future Golden Age led by a New Man who would reconstruct society.
Communist New Man
see also Soviet New Man
Marxism, though being heavily critical of utopianism, postulates the development of a New Man and New Woman in a communist society following the values of a non-essential nature of the state and the importance of freely associated work for the affirmation of a person's humanity. Marxism does not see the New Man/Woman as a goal or prerequisite for achieving full communism, but rather as a product of the social conditions of pure communism.
The New Soviet man or New Soviet person (Russian: новый советский человек novy sovetsky chelovek), as postulated by the ideologists of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was an archetype of a person with certain qualities that were said to be emerging as dominant among all citizens of the Soviet Union, irrespective of the country's cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, creating a single Soviet people, Soviet nation.
From the early times, ideologists of Communism have postulated that within the new society of pure communism and the social conditions therein, a New Man and New Woman would develop with qualities reflecting surrounding circumstances of post-scarcity and unprecedented scientific development. For example, Leon Trotsky wrote in Literature and Revolution about the "Communist man", "man of the future":
“ Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plain plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman. ”
As Wilhelm Reich wrote: "Will the new socio-economic system reproduce itself in the structure of the people's character? If so, how? Will his traits be inherited by his children? Will he be a free, self-regulating personality? Will the elements of freedom incorporated into the structure of the personality make any authoritarian forms of government unnecessary?"
Author and philosopher Bernard Byhovsky, Ph.D. writes: "The new man is endowed, first of all, with a new ethical outlook."
The three major changes postulated to be indispensable for the building of the communist society were economical and political changes, accompanied with the changes in the human personality.
The Soviet man was to be selfless, learned, healthy and enthusiastic in spreading the socialist Revolution. Adherence to Marxism-Leninism, and individual behavior consistent with that philosophy's prescriptions, were among the crucial traits expected of the New Soviet man. This required intellectualism and hard discipline. He was not driven by crude impulses of nature but by conscious self-mastery – a belief that required the rejection of both innate personality and the unconscious, which Soviet psychologists did therefore reject. He treated public property with respect, as if it were his own. He also has lost any nationalist sentiments, being Soviet rather than Russian, or Ukrainian, or any of the many other nationalities found in the USSR. His work required exertion and austerity, to show the new man triumphing over his base instincts. Alexey Stakhanov's record-breaking day in mining coal caused him to be set forth as the exemplar of the "new man" and the members of Stakhanovite movements tried to become Stakhanovites.
This could also be a new woman; Pravda described the Soviet woman as someone who had and could never have existed before. Female Stakhanovites were rarer than male, but a quarter of all trade-union women were designated as "norm-breaking." For the Paris World Fair, Vera Mukhina depicted a momentual sculpture, Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, dressed in work clothing, pressing forward with his hammer and her sickle crossed.
Aleksandr Zinovyev put forth the satiric argument that a new kind of person was indeed created by the Soviet system, but hold that this new man - which they call Homo Sovieticus - was in many ways the opposite of the ideal of the New Soviet man.
Among the major traits of a new Soviet man was selfless collectivism. The selfless new man was willing to sacrifice his life for good causes.
This trait was glorified from the first Soviet days, as exemplified by lines from the poem Vladimir Ilyich Lenin by the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:
Who needs a "1"?
The voice of a "1"
is thinner than a squeak.
Who will hear it?
Only the wife...
A "1" is nonsense.
A "1" is zero.
Fictional characters and presentations of contemporary celebrities embodying this model were prominent features of Soviet cultural life, especially at times when fostering the concept of the New Soviet man was given special priority by the government.
Pro-natalist policies encouraging women to have many children were justified by the selfishness inherent in limiting the next generation of "new men."
Igor Kon has studied the psychology of "Soviet man" (or "Sovki" (scoops, in Russian), as the Soviet people used to semi-jokingly call themselves sometimes) extensively.
One of his most important insights is that the "negative selection", including various types of visibly oppressive treatment of those whose thinking doesn't fit the "party line" leads to development of "acquired helplessness syndrome".
According to Kon,
"The lack of individual responsibility is a product of decades of living under limited freedom. People get used to oppression. This has always happened with totalitarian regimes. I remember, I was greatly surprised to meet people with a similar mentality in East Germany, a country that has always been very different from Russia. This happened during the unification of the East and West Germany. I saw fright in the eyes of the East Germans, the same reaction as I see here in Russia – people do not know what to do. There is a psychological term for this – the acquired helplessness syndrome. The syndrome is usually manifested in social pessimism and lack of self-confidence. The acquired helplessness syndrome is the main feature of Soviet mentality and unfortunately it is prevalent among senior citizens."
New Soviet Woman
In the 1920s and into the Stalinist era the concept of the “New Soviet Woman” served alongside that of the “New Soviet Man.” Her roles were vastly different than that of her male counterpart; she was burdened with a complex identity that changed with ideology shifts in the party doctrine toward more conservative notions of the role of the family and the mother in the Soviet system. The New Soviet Woman was a Superwoman who balanced competing responsibilities and took on the burden of multiple roles — Communist citizen, full-time worker, wife and mother.
The New Soviet Person was generally characterized as male. In propaganda centered on the New Soviet Person, it was standard for men to be depicted as the primary actors, either battling opponents of the Marxist revolution or rebuilding the world. Women, on the other hand, were often portrayed as “backward,” passive beneficiaries of the revolution rather than its securers. This was so not least because the proletarian movement was organized and fought by the working class, which by and large consisted of men. Thus, propaganda often equated male domination with proletariat domination. Although the party leadership claimed the sexes enjoyed equal status under the law, not an insignificant accomplishment in itself, men remained the measure of worth. This marginalization of women in the newly developing civil order made it difficult for women to find a place among the proletarian class for which the revolution was fought. Due to regulations during the NEP period on the extent to which women could work in dangerous conditions, how many hours they could work in a shift and the kinds of special care they received during maternity, many factory owners reluctantly hired women, despite the Commissariat of Labor’s requirements that women be given equal access to employment.
There were gains made in combating illiteracy and promoting education for women during the 1920s. Soviet policy encouraged working-class women to attend school and develop vocational skills. There even existed opportunities for women to participate in politics, become party members and vie for elected and administrative positions. Access to the political sphere, however, was extremely limited.
Joseph Stalin’s policies on women were more conservative than that of his predecessor Lenin. Because he was concerned with a declining population rate, Stalin de-emphasized the Marxist feminist view of women in society, which necessitated the emancipation of the woman from the shackles of her doubly binding oppression, patriarchy and capitalism. In keeping with the party line, Stalin reasserted the importance of women in the workforce and female education, primarily literacy, although he began to emphasize the role of mother in a way that differed from more radical notions of the early 1920s. The “withering away” of the family was no longer a goal of economic and political progress. The new party line was that the family, like the state, was to grow stronger with the full realization of socialism. Massive propaganda campaigns linked the joys of motherhood with the benefits of Soviet power. Soviet ideology began to argue that women’s public roles were compatible with her roles as wife and mother. In fact, that the two reinforced one another and were both necessary for real womanhood.
The New Soviet Woman differed greatly from the conceptions of revolutionaries preceding the 1930s. Instead of being freed from domestic concerns, she was bound to them. Though she now filled the role of man’s peer in the workplace, she was also obligated to devote herself to being his helpmate in the home. One of the primary roles of the New Soviet Woman was that of mother. This role became of great importance in the wake of population decline beginning in the 1920s. War and revolution had decimated the population. Legislation legalizing abortions and the increasing use of contraception—though still not that widespread—in the 1920s also contributed to the lower population numbers as women began to work more and give birth less. As a means to combat that trend, propaganda placed a new emphasis on the female’s role as the perpetuator of the Communist regime in their ability to produce the next class of healthy workers, a policy called pronatalism. Propaganda postured pronatalism, a means to encourage women to bear children, differently to urban working-class women than to rural peasant women. Propaganda designed for an urban audience linked healthy female sexuality with reproduction while medical information to peasant women positioned conception as the purpose of sexual intercourse.
The new ideal Soviet woman appealed to many Soviet women. Many had found Marxist feminism difficult to swallow and preferred their traditional female roles. Although these women drew satisfaction from their role as mothers, they appreciated the opportunity afforded them by the Communist ideology to dismantle the oppression that often went hand-in-hand with domestic life. With husbands that often beat, abused, and abandoned them and a society and government that looked down on them as intellectually and ideologically inferior prior to the Stalinist era, many women welcomed the ability to cast aside the stigma that came with their role as mother while retaining the status as an equal participant in society.
During the 1920s and into the Stalinist era, Soviet policy forced women to curtail their professional aspirations in order to fulfill their dual role as worker and housewife. Competing requirements of family life limited female occupational mobility. Women managed the role strain experienced during the Stalinist era either by either a restriction of professional aspirations or by limiting family size. Despite pitfalls, unprecedented opportunities were available to lower-class women during this time. Women now had a voice in debates and the Zhenotdel, the women’s section of the Central Committee from 1919–1930, made strides during its operation to increase political, social and economic agency of Soviet women.
Fascist New Man
Fascism supports the creation of a New Man who is a figure of action, violence, masculinity, committed to be a component of a disciplined mass that has shorn itself of individualism.
The “new man”
Fascists aimed to transform the ordinary man into the “new man,” a “virile” being who would put decadent bourgeoisie, cerebral Marxists, and “feminine” liberals to shame. The new man would be physically strong and morally “hard,” admiring what was forceful and vigorous and despising everything “weak” and “soft.” As Hitler described him, the new man was “slim and slender, quick like a greyhound, tough like leather, and hard like Krupp steel.” The new man was a man of the past as well as the future. Italian fascists held up the soldiers of ancient Rome as models, and Bertrand de Jouvenel praised the “brutal barons” of the Middle Ages and the original conquerors of Europe, the Franks. “Fascist man,” he wrote, was “a throwback to the warrior and property holder of yesteryear, to the type of man who was the head of a family and a clan: When this type of man ceases to win esteem and disappears, then the process of decadence begins.”
Drieu La Rochelle believed Hitlerian man to be superior to Democratic man, Marxist man, and Liberal man. “The Hitlerian,” he wrote, “is a type who rejects culture, who stands firm in the middle of sexual and alcoholic depravity and who dreams of bringing to the world a physical discipline with radical effects.” The new man was also a Darwinian “realist” who was contemptuous of “delicate” souls who refused to employ harsh military or political measures when they were required.
During World War II, in a speech to an SS unit that had executed many Jews, SS chief Heinrich Himmler reminded his “new men” that they needed to be emotionally as well as physically hard: “Most of you know what it means when 100 corpses are piled up, when 500 or 1,000 are piled there. To have gone through this and—with exceptions due to weakness—to have remained decent, that is what has made us hard. I have to expect of you superhuman acts of inhumanity.…We have no right to be weak.…[Our men] must never be soft. They must grit their teeth and do their duty.”
Fascists praised the young for their physical strength and honoured them for their idealism and spirit of self-sacrifice—qualities, they said, that were often lacking in their elders. Fascists often presented their cause in generational terms. As the young Goebbels declared, “The old ones don’t even want to understand that we young people even exist. They defend their power to the last. But one day they will be defeated after all. Youth finally must be victorious.” De Jouvenel described fascism as a “revolution of the body” that reflected youth’s hunger for discipline, effort, combat, and courage. The young, who loved “strong and slender bodies, vigorous and sure movements, [and] short sentences,” consequently detested middle-aged, pot-bellied liberals and café verbosity.
Partly because they made concerted appeals to young people, fascist parties tended to have younger members than most other rightist parties. The leadership of the Nazi Party, for example, was relatively young, and junior officers in the German army often went over to fascism sooner than senior officers. Corneliu Codreanu, leader of the Iron Guard in Romania, was only 31 when he founded the movement in 1930, and his major lieutenants were in their 20s. Similarly, Primo de Rivera was only 30 when he founded the Falange, and in 1936, 60 to 70 percent of his followers were under 21.
Education as character building
Fascist educators emphasized character building over intellectual growth, devalued the transmission of information, inculcated blind obedience to authority, and discouraged critical and independent thinking that challenged fascist ideology. According to Nazi writer Herman Klaus, the teacher “is not just an instructor and transmitter of knowledge.…He is a soldier, serving on the cultural and political front of National Socialism. For intellectuals belong to the people or they are nothing.” The ultimate aim of Nazi education was not to make students think more richly but to make them war more vigorously. As the Nazi minister of culture in Prussia wrote, “The National Socialist revolution has replaced the image of the cultivated personality with the reality of the true German man. It has substituted for the humanistic conception of culture a system of education which develops out of the fellowship of actual battle.” Teachers who did not practice these principles or who appeared skeptical of Nazi “idealism” were subject to dismissal, often as a result of reports by student informers.
Decadence and spirituality
Some of the ugliest aspects of fascism—intolerance, repression, and violence—were fueled by what fascists saw as a morally justified struggle against “decadence.” For fascists, decadence meant a number of things: materialism, self-indulgence, hedonism, cowardice, and physical and moral softness. It was also associated with rationalism, skepticism, atheism, humanitarianism, and political, economic, and gender democracy, as well as rule by the Darwinian unfit, by the weak and the “female.” For anti-Semitic fascists, Jews were the most decadent of all.
The opposite of decadence was “spirituality,” which transcended materialism and generated self-discipline and virility. The spiritual attitude involved a certain emotional asceticism that enabled one to avoid feelings of pity for one’s victims. It also involved Darwinian notions of survival of the fittest, a belief in the right of natural elites to upward social and political mobility, and accommodation with members of the upper classes. It prized hierarchy, respect for superiors, and military obedience. It was forceful toward the weak, and it was “male.” The spiritual attitude was also hateful. In 1934 Ernst Röhm, leader of the SA, worried that Germans had “forgotten how to hate.” “Virile hate,” he wrote, “has been replaced by feminine lamentation. But he who is unable to hate cannot love either. Fanatical love and hate—their fires kindle flames of freedom.” De Jouvenel agreed: “Any sentiment less vigorous than hatred indicates a lack of virility.”