Towards the Creation of a Ecological and Humane Alternative Culture

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Established Insanity 9

The Timeliness of the Concrete Utopia 10

Cultural Centres for New Basic Experiences 13

A New Consciousness of the Living 14

Overcoming Fear 17

Humaneness 18

The Bankruptcy and Rediscovery of Geist 21


Behind the Ideological Façades 25

Wanderers in the Desert 26

A Different View of Suffering and Its Consequences 32


Fear as A Biological Disease of Culture 40

Life Research as the Science of the Future 41

Contact and Truth 43

The Technological Wonderland of the Living 44

The human in the Entire Organism of Nature 46

Functional Principles of the Living 48

A New Mental-Spiritual Attitude 53


The Concept of Biological Humanism 55

Three Steps towards a Realistic Humanism 58

An Ecological Relationship to all Living Beings 63

The Idea of Science 66

Evolution and Growing Freedom 68

A Culture without Sexual Repression 71

The Meaning of Sexuality 75

A New Social Organisation of Sexuality 80

The Question of Non-Violence 86

The Question of Democracy 90

Building a Humanely Functioning Community 95

Emotional Cleansing and Dissolving the Character Armour 98


Concerning Tradition 102

That All This Does Not Remain Mere Words



Monica Berghoff:

"How will life go on after the collapse of the globalised political and economic systems? How will it survive the large-scale disruption of our planet’s ecological and climatic systems? And what will become of the immense systems of belief, love and thinking as they start to shake within?

The answer to these questions has to persist in the face of so many failed attempts in the past. The world stands on the brink of an abyss.

The youth from Cairo to London, from Greece to Chile, from Rothschild Avenue, Tel Aviv to Wall Street, New York are looking for new ways out of the crisis. If the mass protest and revolt movements rising up all over the world today intend to combine their revolutionary power and take off together, if life is to win over violence and war, we need a direction, an image, an idea of what might be our common goal.

This book offers an idea of how a future worth living could be. It was written and published more than thirty years ago in Germany and we believe that its time has now come. We left it in the political context in which it was written. Through this we want to show that names change, yet the underlying problems remain the same … until we discover how to solve them. How this can be achieved is what this book is all about. It is more relevant today than ever.

The author, Dieter Duhm, has given a voice to life itself here. He has tracked it behind false morals and dogma, and has opened up ways for it through the walls and armour surrounding heart and mind that we all needed in order to survive an epoch hostile to life under patriarchal rule. But all this could be over now.

The system change that is taking place today, is the most profound and fundamental that has happened in thousands of years. It is a change from the power to destroy life to the power to care for and protect life. This is the only way for this planet Earth and all its inhabitants, including the human being, to have a chance for a future.

We wish for this book to meet open ears and hearts, and that its seeds of humaneness and compassion will bear fruits worldwide.

This is more than a book. It is an idea of how a future worth living could be. The author has taken himself at his word and set out together with comrades and friends to put this idea for the future into practice. The new edition – published for the first time in English – includes an appendix section that shows in brief, what now has resulted after thirty years of pioneering work. A dream is becoming reality …

May this undertaking succeed, because “if life wins, there will be no losers”




"Throughout history attempts to improve the world with morality and religion and to conquer man’s savagery by appeals to reason and conscience have failed. Men are humane to the degree that they recognise and fulfil their bodily, emotional, and spiritual needs in a social way (that is, in living together with others). The philosophy of the new culture does not appeal to any morals but to the deepest and most conscious “egoism”.

The necessary cultural change will not come through appeals or sacrifices but by changing our life practice, our way of working, our human contacts, our sexuality, and so forth, in a way that fulfils our needs. A new cultural concept can only be realistic to the extent that it presents a model for a better and truer self-realisation and fulfils a greater number of basic needs.

A culture based on true needs would, of itself, have a great ecological advantage. A community with loving communication, fulfilled sexuality, and creative work would no longer be dependent on vicarious satisfaction through the products of industrial society, as is the case today. It could, therefore, develop a new consumer model that would avoid wasting goods, energy, and other resources, thus saving the environment from destruction. The new consumer model needed by the ecological society of the future, is first and foremost, a new model of human self-realisation.

Humanism is a spiritual impulse towards liberation that entered history in the early Renaissance and has persisted through the eras of humanism, enlightenment, science, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Slowly man begins to see the world as something to be observed, grasped, analysed, and changed.

He frees himself from the old order based on authority, religion, and society, and on taking the reality of a situation for granted. By constantly using his own reason to enter into new realms, he creates the necessity to re-organise and re-form his world. This is the essence of the genuine humanistic tradition: to wrest control from formidable old power structures in order that the human steps into self-management and responsibility. On this historic path to autonomy, humanity can tolerate no pre-ordained limits and no moral ones, for it follows evolutionary laws of development. Morals themselves become the object of analysis and change. Nietzsche, so far, dealt most consistently with these matters. Through Copernicus the power of thought entered into the religious world-view; through Marx it broke into the bourgeoisie; through Nietzsche it broke into the moral world-view; and through Freud it entered into sexuality. Every new breakthrough opened a new dimension in human social life that needed to be dealt with, assimilated, and integrated.

The dimension that now needs to be discovered and integrated is the dimension of life itself with its special principles of holistic and ecstatic ways of functioning (see previous chapter). The forgotten biological basis in which all control mechanisms are embedded must be laid open. The organic system of body and soul with its drives and emotions (that has an evolutionary and therefore historically changeable character) must regain its natural ways of functioning. We can only break the alienation of our age by reconnecting the human forms of action and development to the universal processes of the living world.

Biological humanism strives for the maximum integration of the human social world into the overall realm of living nature (I do not know whether there is also “dead” nature or whether what is called dead is in reality only a special case of the living world). Such an integration will realise the ideas of “organic environmental design”, like that developed by Hugo Kükelhaus, and will also achieve a fundamental reorientation of man in relation to his own nature. The nature of man consists not only of his anatomy and his physiological processes – here we share Teilhard de Chardin’s concepts of nature – but also of all his emotions, drives, instincts, and energies. One of the central inner drives of the human is the sexual drive. In this area there is a common denominator running through almost all cultures, religions, morals, philosophies, and political ideologies of the Occidental world, and that is the secret or admitted capitulation in front of Eros. Show an upstanding theorist a picture of a well-proportioned female with an inviting cleavage and he grows pale. If the destiny of the Earth and our culture is to be put in the hands of adults then these must be people who have free access to their erotic powers without suppression. This is the only way that the living world can be “controlled”.

The same evolutionary lines of development, instincts, and drives that are present in the animal realm come together in humans at a higher level. Becoming human is, in its most farreaching sense, a progressive spiritualisation and sublimation of all animalistic forces into a human culture. This process of sublimating has not yet succeeded because instead of accepting, cultivating and refining his animalistic strengths, man has tried to suppress and ignore them. We can perhaps see it as the “basic error” in the course of the history of consciousness that the process of cultivating the human animal was carried out as a battle of the spirit against the “beast in man” instead of through the union and reconciliation of the two. It was a fight against nature itself, which naturally could not be won. Instead of a sublimation of the whole human with all his drives, a dangerous split occurred, into an official and a repressed part that has so far obstinately resisted all attempts at humanisation. In this psychological ambiguity of the human lies the principal illness of our age. The conscious exposure and reintegration of repressed material and the “acceptance of the shadow”, which C.G. Jung formulated as a therapeutic principle, must be taken from the therapeutic level to the social and cultural levels, if man is to become whole again.

The human must become a conscious fellow creature on Earth, if not, he will senselessly destroy it. He can only achieve this if he accepts the authority of life and submits to it. Humanisation is the humanifying of the Earth, the penetration of the human into deeper and higher realms. But this penetration means mental-spiritual transformation resulting in a non-imperialistic domination. There is a law of the living world that only allows spiritual expansion through spiritual transformation.

We cannot control natural forces by fighting and conquering them – through that their unpredictable nature runs out of control and leads to earthquakes and floods, also on the soul level. Seen in this light, the history of our culture has largely been a puppet theatre, directed by the strings of the repressed, “conquered” natural forces and life energies. If one seeks control in the living world one must unite with it, get to know its rules, and follow them. It is a totally new kind of control, no longer dependent on contest and suppression, but on ecological harmony." (

The secularization of salvation

Dieter Duhm:

"The emergence of a new culture contains in some sense a theme of political theology. A political or rather a societal concept needs to be developed that, in its depth and existential meaning for the individual, is equivalent to the religious ideas of the past. What were once steps towards inner individual transformation are now steps towards a metamorphosis of the social fabric in which we live. In this social fabric – in our work, our social institutions, and our human relations – we must one day be able to occupy and truly know ourselves to such an extent that we need no other comfort and no other home outside it.

At some point in the development of man, the human mind deemed it necessary to go against the body and its sensual needs. Cultural development thereby took a path that led the human away from the entire organism of nature, to which he wholly belongs. Since then, history has resembled a dance around an unknown centre.


Religions have tried to uphold a vision of a better afterlife to compensate for earthly misery. Salvation lay in freeing the soul already here on Earth as much as possible from the physical world, for it was identical with sin, a prison, or maya. The goal was thus to conquer the body, to conquer sensuality, and to conquer earthly misery through mental-spiritual exercise. We find this fundamental idea in all the religious leaders of the past, from Buddha to Aurobindo, Plato to Rudolf Steiner, and from St. Paul to Pope John II. The idea was by no means a false one. Since the soul is truly an independent entity that can actually free itself from the body (as has been done, for example, by old cults of initiation, in religious ecstasy, in LSDexperiments, in peak experiences or in near-death situations), this healing concept was realistic. But it led the healing interest away from everyday life on Earth and away from earthly human longing. The atrocities on Earth continued unabated.


Next to the religious impulse towards liberation, we find the political one, a much later phenomenon that is still today in its early stages. It has so far found its most unequivocal philosophical formulation in Marxism. Marx’s epoch-making idea was to annul (and redeem) religious ideas of liberation through political practice (the class struggle). Salvation was no longer to be erected in heaven, but in the most materialistic point in the physical world: in material production. “The criticism of religion” said Marx, “ends with the teaching that man is the highest being for mankind, that is, with the categorical imperative to overthrow all conditions in which the human is a degraded, enslaved, abandoned, and contemptible being.”

By creating a new order for human labour without class domination and alienation man was expected to find his centre and home in his everyday social practice. This mutational leap in the history of ideas was the most revolutionary feat so far achieved by the human Prometheus. It acts as a signpost from which there is no road back. But Marxism was not yet capable of thinking and formulating its idea of political selfliberation at a deep enough level. Its political-economic theories did not truly offer a full equivalent to the religious ideas of salvation: the human had not yet been fathomed deeply enough, his alienation and ultimate longing not yet understood deeply enough.


The next fundamental impulse towards a secularisation of salvation, as profound and as worldly as the Marxist approach but arising from an entirely different point, came through psychoanalysis (we leave Nietzsche aside, who is not so easy to fit in here, and whose work had almost no social impact, because a discreet understanding of his “heroic philosophy” will probably be grasped by later generations). Owing to its authentic humane motive, psychoanalysis was first of all an act of honesty. The puritan Sigmund Freud recognised in himself the overkill of sexual impulses present in the hypocritical culture of the Victorian era. He immediately saw the cultural universality of this situation. He noticed that here, in the libidinous realm, matters of happiness and misery were determined in an area that lay entirely outside official consciousness. He thereby pulled the question of salvation from the afterlife into the “basest” aspects of life on Earth, namely into the domain of sexuality. But, as with Marx’s work, sexuality turned out to be in a condition of utmost misery and perversion, as it had for so long led a repressed, insulted, exploited, and hypocritical existence. Freud recognised that the moralistic sexual barriers and sexual structure of the family led adults to live in deep captivity of the soul in a world of subconscious drives and fears, constructed from projections, fixations, and unfulfilled fantasies. He knew that this psychic underground would have to be redressed, if man ever wanted to be free.

Freud’s discoveries could have contained the seeds for a prodigious cultural revolution, had he not stopped it himself through his faint-hearted theory of culture and sublimation. In the struggle between needs and society, he finally came down on the side of society, presumably to save his societal position. We are entitled to view that as a barrier of his time and to pursue those unfinished truths beyond this barrier.


The next great pioneer who drew back the veil still further was Freud’s successor, Wilhelm Reich. An unusual path of discovery led Reich to realise the identity of sexual energy and universal life energy. In the sexual orgasm he found the prototype and the key to an understanding of fundamental biological functions in all body tissue. In processes such as pulsation, peristalsis, tension and release, charge and discharge, and contraction and expansion, he saw the fundamental activity and functions of life energy itself. These modes of functioning are of a universal nature, that is, they are a part of the universal order of life. But in our culture’s human they are considerably disturbed through inner blocks and congestion, obstructions caused by society and morality. Reich termed this “body armour”. This discovery of a universal order of life in the dynamic realm of drives and urges made way for a new vision of liberation.

It consisted of a conscious reunion of the human with his most elementary functions of life. The possibility of salvation that Reich found here he called simply health. If the fundamental biological functions can flow freely then the organism, including its aspects of soul and spirit, is connected with the universal order of life and is healthy at its core. But if they are blocked and disturbed, then the organism is disconnected from the universal order of life and is sick at its core. Correspondingly, a society in which the biological currents of energy can flow freely is healthy at its core; a society where they are blocked is sick.

To base healing on the free flow of life energies in the human organism – would that be too one-sided, too narrow, too “biological” a concept? Perhaps. But let us never forget that “biological” does not refer only to what the mechanistic view of nature in the materialistic era has limited it to. In the unsolvable context of Bios and Psyche, life energies are also always of a soul and spiritual nature. Correspondingly, the mode of experiencing the world that spontaneously arises in a fearless and freely flowing organism is of a specific soul and spiritual nature. The world becomes alive. The landscape that I see is no longer purely an image, it is part of creation. One realises that being alive means taking part in creation. It is like an elementary encounter with the world. It leads to new and more intense perceptions, of sight, touch, taste, and smell, a new way of walking and of putting one’s foot on the ground. One suddenly understands animals, their elasticity and calm, their way of pointing their ears, and the power in their readiness to leap.

The organism becomes impressively strong, light, and transparent, almost musical. In this experience and mode of being there is an element of animal vitality, of soft power, and also an element of intensity and celebration that points towards a new sensual and vital kind of sacred perception. It is the religiosity of universal love that now flows by itself from its biological sources. Reich’s descriptions show that he knew this state. To him it was simply the autonomous functioning of life in the unarmoured human.

Reich’s advances into the realm of life were a pioneering feat that cannot be overlooked if we today want to lay a realistic foundation for a new culture. Marx’s great political thought, to cast off all conditions through which the human is demeaned, could now be thought through radically to its conclusion. All conditions means the working conditions and the psychicenergetic-biological conditions in emotional and sexual human relations. A remodelling is needed both in the organisation our working life and in the organisation of our love life!

The entire libidinous and intimate emotional texture of human society must be able to develop anew without restriction and prohibition, without fear and compulsion towards emotional lying. The ecological movement was the first political group to make life itself and the protection of life its main political theme. In this context Reich’s thoughts need to be updated.

Today it is not possible to realise an ecological humanism without taking into consideration bio-energetic and sexual-psychological interrelations." (

Freedom within evolution

Dieter Duhm:


The idea of evolution is that the totality of life on Earth is in a constant process of becoming. From the first cell to the human being of today there is a continuous line of development. The history of the human is the youngest episode in the history of evolutionary life and is itself a part of natural history.

The concept of freedom in evolution is the idea that the combinations that life has chosen in the process of its evolving did not simply follow a mechanistic determination or the laws of chance. Rather there was at the core of the living being something that could use chance, picking and choosing among the results of chance. For this we must assume a rudimentary proto-consciousness that from the beginning has directed life from within. This proto-consciousness, acting as the “impetus of the world” (Teilhard de Chardin), picked its way from possibility to possibility, from life form to life form, from species to species. This means that living matter (and probably all matter, considering the continuity involved) has a hidden centre that in the course of evolution is expanding in the direction of growing spontaneity and autonomy up to the freedom of will that we find in the human. It may be that the essence of evolution is nothing more than the development of this hidden centre now slowly being unveiled in the human. Essentially then, evolution is an attempt to realise ever more freedom within the medium of the material world. (Teilhard de Chardin has brought together impressive facts and thoughts on this evolutionary perspective in his book Man and Cosmos.)

This is not the place to expound on the metaphysics of evolution or to try to answer questions we are only just beginning to formulate. We are living – and this fact suffices for us to recognise directly the two qualities of development and freedom. Since we cannot believe that the miracle “Man” at a random moment in time was suddenly planted on Earth, we assume that these two qualities belong to the history of life and are inherently prepared within it. We assume that today’s human is also a preparation, a phase in a total process whose goal and end we do not know. From this attitude stems our reluctance to make a definitive statement concerning the development of modern humankind with all its blind alleys and delusions. It may be that all this insanity was necessary to prepare for a higher form of consciousness. How can we know what the universe has in store for us!

Our thoughts about evolution do not simply constitute a private philosophical pleasure. They have decisive consequences for the way we imagine a desirable future. The fact that the ideas of a “New Age” often go hand in hand with the image of an egalitarian farming society and a simple nature-oriented life, free of technology, only shows that the eyes of most seekers today are directed not towards the future but towards the past. The evolution of life, which has achieved its most contradictory and enigmatic manifestation in the human, does not allow for a simple move back to nature or flight away from the tasks that our cultural era is currently failing to come to grips with. Instead we need to recognise the increasingly discernible primary direction that evolution takes – in terms of growing complexity, consciousness, and freedom – to rebuild and cultivate the Earth, utilising to the utmost our historical experience, scientific knowledge, and technical abilities.

The human being is at the forefront of consciousness as life evolves. He has no choice but to take increasingly conscious control of the direction that evolution is taking. This requires us to know or get to know the basic processes, tendencies, and operating principles of the living world and its evolution. This implies research, learning to see, that is, acquiring an attitude that enables us to see, in the sense used by Nietzsche and Teilhard de Chardin, and also by Kükelhaus. Wanting to lead a creative life today implies being aware of a goal. To set and realise goals with the help of our power of thinking does not originate from human hubris but is rather a human expression of the nature of will immanent in the Living. The freedom contained here has led to a constant shattering of energies. It is not until realistic goals, in evolutionary terms, are seen and understood that decisions can be made to join forces in rebuilding the Earth.

In the continuity that lies behind us through aeons of time, life developed from the formation of the Earth, and out of that life the human emerged. Geogenesis – biogenesis – anthropogenesis – these three developments constitute the direction of evolution to date.

The world in which all this took place is described by Teilhard de Chardin as follows:

“In order to give birth to us it has, from its primeval beginnings, played in a miraculous way with so many improbabilities that there is not the slightest danger for us if we continue to put our trust in its guidance to the end of time. If it has taken on the task it will also be able to bring it to completion, using the same methods and the same infallibility as it has up till now.”

Taking charge, and still trusting in something greater than ourselves – that is the logic of the behaviour that has emerged for us as a result of contemplating evolution."

Democracy needs mature individuals

Dieter Duhm:

"Democracy is a question neither of verbal commitment nor of the outer political form of a system. Rather it is a question mainly of the emotional state and structure of drives in the human. Unfulfilled libidinous needs still stand fundamentally in the way of a free and democratic society. The emotional structure of today’s human is not democratic and autonomous, but rather feudalistic. Just as in old times he longs for Father, God, and Caesar; but he does not want them in the old form, he wants a psychological equivalent for them. As long as no deliverer is in sight he does not recognise his inclinations and speaks of anything, such as democracy or even anarchy. But as soon as such a god-like father-figure becomes visible, he starts to come alive and forgets everything he preached the day before. I have often seen critical intellectuals, Marxists, ponderers and individualists arrive at the extremely hierarchically organised Friedrichshof in Austria and in very little time cease their resistance – not because they were broken down through brainwashing, as a sensationalist newspaper depicted it – but because they could no longer believe in their own resistance. Their true desires had been awakened. Here I remind the reader of the example of the two wanderers who went thirstily through the desert … Some readers may now understand me when I state quite simply that our culture of today, including our counterculture, is a pseudo culture. At the verbal level hardly anyone is credible any more, for people want something different from what they say. People are thirsty, but hardly anyone dares to say what for. The communities of AAO and Poona have brought this thirst out into the open, and what they teach us should be taken seriously. The political slogans of democracy, peace, and justice sound like Salvation Army hymns when compared to real life, as long as their psychological roots are not reflected upon deeply, down to the dynamics of their underlying drives and their emotional core, and realised from there.

True humanism needs democracy. All guru structures, all adoration of a leader, and all forms of organisation of human communities that are based on emotional fixation may be an important temporary learning phase for those involved, but they do not answer the question that we are faced with. That question is: what organisational form and inner constitution can we create for living together that can be applied generally and, in the long term, make humane structures possible?

Truly responsible humaneness can come into existence only after the fixations are overcome and the time has arrived when democracy is psychologically possible. The development of real democracy will be based on the reality at hand, for example, on the fact that in every community there is a kind of natural hierarchy (which can always change itself). Before the community can give itself a conscious form of organisation, some sort of group structure will already have evolved through the hierarchy of perceived human differences. These differences are a part of the variety of human biotope. They must not be suppressed through an overlay of egalitarian claims but rather should be used for creative learning processes.

Grass-roots and group democracy that reflects the Living is not based on egalitarian structures but on the optimum possibilities for individual development and growth in the intellectual autonomy of all members. These are high terms.

They require the realisation of three things in the democratic society of the future:

  • Firstly, the child-parent fixation – which so far has held people

in lifelong childish dependency on authorities – must be overcome through new social forms of raising children and new social forms of love.

  • Secondly, all emotional repression - which so far has stopped

the emotional development of the human at an early stage and thus prevented him from growing up - must cease through a social system of free love, free research, and free work.

  • Thirdly, the greatest possible social transparency needs to be

created (allowing the individual, from childhood on, to have an overview of his social environment, to know his present position in the community, and take part in current decisions). The next section considers some principles for achieving this social transparency.

Democracy cannot be achieved by fiat. It can only emerge and grow when the necessary emotional, mental, and social conditions are there. As it grows gradually and slowly, the community in which it develops will take the form of a circle. A circle where each element carries a different weight and is of different meaning but has its place and its relation to the whole."

The need for transparency in social relationships and real hierarchies

Dieter Duhm:

"Building a humane community usually means confronting difficulties that are deeply rooted in the character structures of modern man and especially in the ideological structures of the subcultures. Instead of the fixation on humanitarian slogans and demands, what is needed is a clear attitude towards the emotional and mental realities that in fact exist. This emotional reality must at all times and places be made visible, with as playful and joyful methods as possible, until all pretence and hypocrisy drop away. The group members must notice that there is no longer anything to be gained by pretending.

There is perhaps only one categorical imperative for the emergence of communities that are good and stable from within: that everything possible be done to make what happens in the community understandable and transparent to everyone. This is especially important for the emotional and sexual processes, for they are behind almost everything that makes the group situation difficult and opaque. The transparency of all processes is the precondition for freeing the members of their paranoia, for keeping destructive processes from taking on a life of their own, and for treating the causes of rifts and fractures in the group before it is too late.

A crucial part of overall transparency is the transparency of social hierarchies, which exist in every group. It is good if everyone knows as precisely as possible his place in the group, what the others think about him, and where they see him in the hierarchy of the community. In this way the community is freed from the hypocrisy of superficial harmony and false democracy. Each individual can then get to know the reality he has to deal with. It is no longer easy for him to inhabit a world of secret claims and blackmail in which he used to be able to blame others for his weaknesses. Now he knows his place and can work from there.

Ongoing social feedback between the members of the community is also part of transparency. The members must learn to tell each other without hesitation what they like and don’t like. Personal conflicts must not be suppressed or they will seethe under the surface, poison the atmosphere and lead to camouflaged reactions that cannot be read clearly. More serious personal conflicts should be presented publicly to the group. To avoid taking it all too seriously, those involved should learn to distance themselves from the problem through playful methods (such as psychodrama or the methods of selfexpression developed in Friedrichshof). Conflict often turns out to be a part of one’s own insanity, which in itself justifies perceiving and presenting it as a stage play rather than as a too serious reality. (To learn to play the games of group dynamics it is wise at the beginning to enlist experienced “neutral” therapists to teach the methods and something of the processes involved.)

A common cause for the lack of transparency in a group situation lies in the mixing of factual discussions with emotional conflicts. The group must learn to distinguish sharply between them to keep discussions from sinking into an aggressive quagmire. There is no point in continuing a factual discussion that has long since become dominated by personal conflicts, covert power struggles or some old story of competition.

This is the time to break off the discussion and carry on the interaction through play-acting with theatrical exaggeration and playfulness."