Vynnycenko's Philosophy of Happiness

Eugene Lashchyk

Published in The Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences Vol. 16, No. 41-42 (1984-85): 289-326.

    Vynnycenko is considered to be one of the most distinguished Ukrainian writers and statesmen of the twentieth century.1 He was a prolific novelist, short story writer and playwright whose works were known in Western Europe and Russia. Vynnycenko was also a leading figure in the revolutionary movement of Ukraine in the years 1917-1920, and on two occasions headed the government of the Ukrainian Republic. In spite of his fame, particularly during the first twenty years of the twentieth century, Vynnycenko is now rather neglected in the West, and reduced to the status of a non-person in the Soviet Union.

    A few words on Vynnycenko's life and career might have bearing on the development of my thesis. Vynnycenko was born in the village of Velykyj Kut, in the Jelysavethrad region of Ukraine into the family of a destitute peasant on July 27, 1880. He died near Cannes, France on March 6, 1951.2 Because he was a gifted pupil, his grammar school teachers recommended him for the gymnasium. While attending the gymnasium, he came in conflict with the czarist establishment for writing a revolutionary poem, and becoming involved in other political activities. He was expelled from school, but succeeded in completing another gymnasium as a correspondence student. In 1901 he entered the law school at Kiev University, but did not attend it for long. He was imprisoned by the czarist authorities for being a member of a revolutionary student organization, and was excluded from the university. Inducted into the army, he deserted and escaped to Western Ukraine (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) to avoid further arrests. There he became a member of the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party and contributed numerous articles to various socialist papers. Between 1903 and 1917, the year of the Soviet Revolution, he traveled widely in Europe, periodically returning to Ukraine and Russia, only to be arrested again and again.3 In spite of such frequent disruptions, this was probably the most productive period of Vynnycenko's life. He published numerous short stories, novels and plays, as well as countless articles and pamphlets, covering a wide range of moral, social and political issues.

    Even a cursory view of Vynnycenko's life reveals striking similarities between him and Lenin.4 Both stood for the liberation of man, both for a time were the dominant spokesmen of the revolutionary socialist movement in their countries, both headed their respective post-revolutionary governments, and both wrote on philosophical topics. Lenin's philosophical interests were mostly in epistemology and political theory, whereas Vynnycenko's focused on the nature of man, happiness, a new morality, universal disarmament, the self-management of workers.

    Vynnycenko's philosophical legacy is mostly unpublished, except for two of his novels which deal with world peace5 and the self-management of workers.6 The Vynnycenko archives, on deposit with the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the United States al the Bahmeteff Archive of Columbia University, contain two unpublished philosophical treatises. The first manuscript, entitled Scastja: Lysty do Junaka (Happiness: Letters to a Young Man) consists of 393 typed pages. It was completed in 1930 in Paris. Eight years later, on his small estate "Zakulok" in southern France,7 Vynnycenko embarked on the writing of his second philosophical treatise on a similar theme: Konkordyzm -- Systema Buduvannja Scastja (Concordism: A System for the Creation of Happiness; hereafter referred to as Concordism). It was completed in 1945. A comparison of the two philosophical treatises merits separate study. In this paper. I will mainly concentrate on the latter work, with emphasis on a discussion of happiness, health and morals.

    In Concordism Vynnycenko covers a broad range of subjects established in the table of contents:

  1. Happiness.
  2. Impediments to Happiness-Social Inequality.
  3. Impediments to Happiness-Religion.
  4. Concordism.
  5. The Morality of Discordism and of Concordism.
  6. Agreement with Nature -- the Morality of Concordism.
  7. Agreement with Nature -- Nutrition.
  8. Agreement with Oneself.
  9. Agreement with One's Neighbor.
  10. Agreement with One's Neighbor -- Sexual Morality of Discordism and Concordism.
  11. Agreement with One's Neighbor -- Sexual Morality of Concordism.
  12. Agreement with the Collective.
  13. Collective Morality -- Socio-Economic Program.
  14. Collective Morality -- Political Program.
  15. International Discordism and Concordism.
  16. Ways of Actualizing Concordism.

    The theoretical foundation of Vynnycenko's philosophy is related to the philosophy of naturalism, promulgated in the United States by thinkers like Ralph Barton Perry and John Dewey. Vynnycenko himself, however, usually quotes French philosophers -- Poincare, Rousseau and others. I have not found evidence of any direct connection of Vynnycenko's ideas with the American thinkers. And yet, there are striking similarities between Vynnycenko's Concordism and R. B. Perry's Realms of Value.8 Both argue that values are relative, while pointing to concepts like harmony and balance as ideals to strive for.

    Vynnycenko was concerned with philosophical and psychological issues from almost the very beginning of his literary career, developing them in his plays and novels rather than in philosophical tracts. Concordism themes already can be found in the plays Scabli zyttja (Rungs of Life), Brexnja (The Lie), Bazar, or in the novels Cesnist' z soboju (Honesty with One's Self, 1911), Rivnovaha (Balance, 1913), Bozky (Gods, 1914). This may be the reason that Vynnycenko's treatise is not written in the style that professional philosophers employ. We also recall that he wrote many pamphlets and articles in revolutionary periodicals in the loose, rhetorical style of the socialist and Marxist writers of the time. By the time Vynnycenko sat down to write his treatise, in the last twenty years of his life, it was probably somewhat too late to develop the precision and compression usually associated with the philosophical style of an English analytical philosopher or the complexities and convolutions of the style of a German philosopher. We should also keep in mind that Vynnycenko spent almost half of his life in France, and that his philosophical "diet" consisted mostly of French thinkers and philosophers. His style, therefore comes closer to some French humanist thinkers than to English or German philosophers in the strict sense. This also may explain the fact that Vynnycenko's style is occasionally somewhat loose. Vynnycenko correctly rejects the dogmatism usually associated with religious moral tracts, but unfortunately he occasionally replaces it with the fervor and dogmatism of his own "religion". His style, therefore, sometimes resembles the style of religious apologia, more than of a scientific treatise.

    Vynnycenko's Concordism predated many of our contemporary movements, including universal disarmament and the self-management of workers (the latter subsequently adopted in Yugoslavia and recently demanded and received by workers in Poland, to be taken away again shortly thereafter as well as the almost world-wide interest in nutrition.

    Although Vynnycenko's work is broad in range and scope, it can be narrowed down to two proposals, addressed to mankind, regarding the conditions of happiness. The first results from a diagnosis of the inadequacies of the two dominant systems of the world -- American capitalism and Soviet state capitalism. The main reason for the failure of the two systems is the presence in both of a deadly disease that is destroying man from the inside. Vynnycenko calls this disease discordism and states that social and political reforms are doomed to failure so long as they do not have a program for its proper treatment. The second proposal deals with an external threat. Vynnycenko foresees the total destruction of Western civilization by an atomic war between the United States and the Soviet Union; he. therefore, proposes total disarmament of all nations of the world under the auspices of the United Nations. Vynnycenko, furthermore, urges people of the world to adopt a new form of social relations which he calls kolektokratija ("collectocracy" or ''collective rule"). Only the elimination of all forms of hired help will ultimately lead to the elimination of war. The model of the new system, according to Vynnycenko, should be "a planet without hired help" (Planeta bez najmyta). It is within the general system of collectocracy that Vynnycenko places his idea of the self-management of workers. Mankind must resolve both the problem of discordism and that of war, if it is to survive and be happy. If mankind should accept only one of the two proposals, happiness or a lengthy survival would not be guaranteed. In the present course, with the two dangers facing it, mankind will soon be destroyed by the disease of discordism which is responsible for the aggressive and destructive behavior of man in society and which, in the long run, causes the second danger -- that of nuclear warfare.

    In this paper I will examine the former of Vynnycenko's proposals, dealing with discordism. First, I will scrutinise Vynnycenko's definition of happiness and contrast it with some central positions on happiness in Western philosophy. Second, I will examine Vynnycenko's diagnosis of the major sources of unhappiness -- primarily the claim that mankind is suffering from the disease of discordism. Finally, I will present Vynnycenko's moral system and argue that it dramatically departs from both the Christian and the socialist-communist systems of morality.


    To facilitate my examination of Vynnycenko's contribution to the theory of happiness, let me place it in historical perspective. There are at least three dominant theories of happiness in the history of Western thought -- the Aristotelian, the Thomistic and the utilitarian. I will argue that Vynnycenko's theory suggests a fourth possibility.

    According to Aristotle, happiness consists in the pursuit of theoretical or philosophical wisdom (Sophia), guided by moral virtue. Aristotle stales:

If happiness is activity in accordance with virtue, it is reasonable that it should be in accordance with the highest virtue; and this will be that of the best thing in us. Whether it be reason or something else that is this element which is thought to be our natural ruler and guide and to take thought of things noble and divine, whether it be itself also divine or only the most divine element in us; the activity of this in accordance with its proper virtue will be perfect happiness. That this activity is contemplative we have already said.9

    Man's soul, Aristotle believes, is composed of three parts -- the rational, the desiring or appetitive, and the vegetative. The rational part of the soul aims at truth. To achieve truth, man must possess intellectual or philosophical10 wisdom which Aristotle claims is composed of intuition and science. If a man possesses intuition, he can be relied upon to arrive at the first principles or axioms of any field. However, he must also possess the ability to think scientifically, in order to be able to relate the axioms to concrete situations or things. We should be careful not to confuse our contemporary notion of science with that of Aristotle. Aristotle defines science as deductive reasoning; it is therefore apodictic. (Our contemporary notion of science implies a field of study which concerns nature but whose predictions and explanations are merely probable.) Deductive reasoning -- science in Aristotle's sense -- is used to derive explanations and predictions from axioms or theories.

    One cannot properly pursue truths or be a lover of wisdom (intuition and science) if one is deprived of moral virtue -- if one's passions and desires are not under complete control. And so, for example, a drunkard will be incapable of reliably carrying out the activities connected with either intuition or science. Only a person who can control his or her desires is capable of virtue, and therefore of wisdom. But the degree of control of desires, or the mean, can be known only by the person who possesses practical wisdom. We have now come full circle: to achieve wisdom (Sophia), we must possess moral virtue, but to achieve moral virtue we must possess practical wisdom. For Aristotle, both happiness and moral virtue are dependent on wisdom, whether it be theoretical or practical.

    St. Thomas Aquinas' concept of happiness does not radically depart from that of Aristotle. Happiness still consists in the satisfaction of the desires of the three parts of the soul, and truth is still the desire of the intellectual part of the soul. For St. Thomas, however, truth or its attainment, which is theoretical wisdom, cannot be achieved in this world. It is interesting to note parenthetically that, at least on this point, Vynnycenko agrees with St. Thomas. Vynnycenko writes:

We as people have been tremendously restricted in our knowledge-seeking apparatus, or more precisely, we have not yet developed our methods of knowledge to the point that we can comprehend certain phenomena. There are many phenomena which we cannot completely understand. We can only conjecture about phenomena just as a dog who is behind closed doors guesses by the scent that his master is eating something good.11
In spite of the fact that St. Thomas and Vynnycenko agree on the limitation of man's knowledge, they disagree on the nature of happiness. St. Thomas goes on to locate man's happiness in God;12 i.e., in the possession of the beatific vision. Hence it comes as no surprise that man is not happy in this world, and that he can achieve complete happiness only in the next.

    Aristotle's conception of happiness is excessively intellectual and therefore has been considered as "elitist": it has been unfairly reserved only for people who have the leisure to pursue science, philosophy or the other intellectual disciplines. St. Thomas retains Aristotle's bias toward the intellectual, but his bias seems to allow, indirectly, for the justification of whatever lot man happens to be in. One danger of Thomistic philosophy is that it can remain always at the status quo, or become conservative: because ultimate happiness is a gift of God, it is not within man's power to achieve happiness.13 One wonders what justification can be found for exploring an alternative organization of society within such a framework. Furthermore, neither Aristotle's nor St. Thomas' theories of happiness provide us with the means of verifying at what point we achieve that state. Actually, the problem of verification will dissipate if we interpret Aristotle's account of happiness as consisting in the activities 14 of seeking wisdom rather than of its attainment.

    In Jeremy Bentham's utilitarianism, we have a clearly alternative conception of happiness. The good, as in St. Thomas, is still defined as the satisfaction of desire, but because the satisfaction of desire yields pleasure -- and Bentham identifies the good with whatever is conducive to pleasure -- the good is defined as whatever is conducive to pleasure.15 Happiness is defined as achieving, on balance, more pleasure than pain in one's lifetime. It can be said that one has to get out the calculator, add all the pleasure that one has experienced in one column, then add all the pain in another, and simply subtract the smaller from the larger number. In spite of the fact that Bentham's approach resulted in important penal reforms in many countries and removed some blatant injustices from the system, it nevertheless created new problems. Hedonism, even if unintended by Bentham16 (as I believe it was), is one side effect of his philosophy. The pursuit of pleasure as a goal of life, whether it be sex-oriented or goods-oriented, very often leads to frustration. As soon as one has acquired one object, industry creates others that are better. Love, based on pleasure alone, demands ever new objects of affection. This introduces a vicious circle, in which the satisfaction of one desire leads to the striving for the next. Such a continuous cycle cannot result in long-lasting satisfaction. Another serious problem with utilitarianism is implied by the principle of utility. A popular version of this principle is "the greatest happiness for the greatest number." This principle is compatible with the denial of the rights of a minority if they threaten the increase of pleasure, and thus happiness, of the majority.

    The above discussion is obviously not intended to be exhaustive.17 My goal was to show that Vynnycenko's proposal provides a clear alternative. Moreover, because none of the three conceptions are satisfactory, as my brief discussion has tried to suggest, there is a viable need to search for an alternative. I should also point out that none of Vynnycenko's political allies were of help to him in that matter: neither the socialists, nor the Marxists have adequately addressed the question of the nature of happiness.


    Vynnycenko takes it as axiomatic that mankind strives toward happiness. "That every man -- nolens-volens -- seeks happiness is the only law that we have a right to claim with absolute certainty. The validity of that law is not negated by various theoretical differences about the nature of happiness."18 Here he agrees with the whole tradition of Western thought, beginning with Aristotle and including the utilitarians. Where he radically differs from them is in his definition of happiness. Vynnycenko wants to locate happiness in something stable and permanent. For that reason, he does not want to locate it in the pursuit of moral or aesthetic values because they, according to him, are relative. He writes:

There are no moral human eternal values. Good and evil, like waves on the ocean, are constantly transformed into one another. What was good a moment ago, now becomes evil. That which is valuable for one person, can be harmful for another. The same action is labeled courageous by some and criminal by others. All human moral values, in other words, are conditional and relative. Therefore it is senseless to search for such absolutes as happiness in such relative matters. One has to search for happiness in something more permanent and reliable, such as the law of the coordinated relationship among the elements of existence. That is: whatever changes take place in things or in values, whether such changes be physical or spiritual, the relationship between these things or values remains as unchanging and eternal as the laws of nature. No matter what kind of changes take place in objects all of them remain subject to the laws of gravity . . . I repeat: wealth, fame, health, love, intellect, and so on, in themselves, . . . even all together -- when they are not in agreement with themselves and among each other -- do not lead to happiness. Only an active balance of these values and their agreement among themselves and in the forces outside of us produces that state which we have an absolute right to call happiness.19

    It should be pointed out that here Vynnycenko discusses a balance of forces which are all values, or -- if we admit Ralph Barton Perry's definition of value as "any object of any interest" -- of interests as well. But later in Concordism, in the discussion of his system of morality, he includes in his catalogue of forces to be balanced human faculties or, as he calls them,"main forces" -- instincts, sub-instincts, reason, drives, will.20 This interpretation is particularly well-supported in the section specifically dealing with moral principles. Vynnycenko states: "Fourth Principle: Form a unified whole!" or, in other words, behave in such a way that your actions would be a manifestation of the agreement of the great majority of your "main forces" (instincts, sub-instincts, reason, drives, will).21 Here we would be faced by an inconsistency only if we took "forces" to mean "interests." In this section of his work, however, Vynnycenko operates at a deeper level -- a level at which we can speak both of values and of human faculties as forces of one kind or another. Hence there is no inconsistency. There is, however, another problem, having to do with the precise meaning of "balance."

    Whatever happiness is, it cannot consist in the pursuit of values, because these are relative. Just as a physicist like Einstein found invariant laws, even though space, time and mass are relative, so Vynnycenko was searching for invariant laws in the face of constant change in the human realm. He wanted to locate happiness in what is unchanging and permanent within the stream of change. Vynnycenko correctly perceived the search for invariant laws to be the goal of physics. Many artists and writers of the 1930s and 1940s misunderstood Einstein's theory of relativity as meaning that all is relative.22 Actually, the goal of Einstein's theory of relativity was to find invariant laws of nature in spite of the fact that space, time and even mass were relative and changing. Similarly, Vynnycenko wanted to develop a theory of man and society which would codify the invariant laws of happiness, even when values are relative. This brings us to the question of "balance."


    The concept of balance is the most crucial in Vynnycenko's definition of happiness. What does it mean in this context? The primary meaning of balance probably comes from the weighing of things on the balance scale, like the one held by the allegorical figure of Justice. When the pointer on a balance scale points to the center line, then the unknown weight, let us say in the left scale, is equal to the known weight in the right scale. When the forces of gravity on both sides are equal, we have a balance. A concept of balance more useful for my purposes stems from chemistry, with application to plants and animals. Here a balance is achieved when the osmotic pressure of, let us say, the ions of salt or sugar on the one side of a membrane are equal to that on the other side of the membrane. When the number of ions of X are equal on both sides, there is a balance of forces. There are many such regulatory mechanisms in every biological organism, designed to keep certain levels of nutrients necessary for life.23 The sense of balance that Vynnycenko needs to make his discussion of happiness plausible occurs on a higher level of abstraction. And yet, it seems to me quite probable that Vynnycenko's concept of happiness is based on the concept of balance in the biological sciences and in the medical definition of health.

    In accordance with his definition, Vynnycenko claims that whenever there is a balance of forces in plants and animals, we have a right to say that this means that they are happy.24 In the case of humans, however, we are not only concerned with the chemical and biological balances but also with such psychological and social forces or interests as the desire for fame, love, intellect, and wealth. How are we to understand balance in this context?

    Two interpretations of balance come to mind. In the first, balance could mean equal amounts of time or energy devoted to the pursuit of each desire or interest. This interpretation excludes extremes, as the case of a man who devotes almost all of his time to the pursuit of wealth. We obviously would find it difficult to believe his assurances that he values art, literature, or his own health as highly as he values money. Because such a man devotes practically all of his time to the pursuit of a single interest, we would have to say that he is in a state of imbalance. Therefore, according to our first interpretation, developed here, that man would be deemed lo be unhappy. To sum up: in our first interpretation balance and its subsequent feeling of happiness comes when equal amounts of time or energy are devoted to the pursuit of such interests as intellect, culture, fun, health, power, etc.

    In our second interpretation, balance means a certain mixture of time and energy devoted to one's interests, but not in equal amounts. Here balance is understood by analogy to harmony in music: some instruments play the dominant theme, while others provide the accompaniment, they are in the background, but are nevertheless needed for a certain total effect. According to this second interpretation, persons who devote unequal amounts of time to the pursuit of physics and tennis will not be in a state of imbalance, although it is unlikely that they will achieve excellence in both fields.

    A number of questions arise from the above discussion. Which of the two conceptions of balance did Vynnycenko espouse? How does one achieve either balance? Is it possible to have a balance of forces in either sense, and yet not feel happy?25 Can people who make significant contributions to the arts, humanities or the sciences achieve a balance in either the first or the second sense? The last question can be restated in the following terms: can one be a physicist of the magnitude of an Einstein without almost complete commitment of time and energy to physics, an Isaac Stern without a complete devotion to music? And, most important, are such people happy?

    Vynnycenko remarks in Concordism26 that his conception of happiness excludes any kind of "dictatorship," or dominant status, of any one force, desire, or interest. Such a position would tend to support my first, rather than my second, interpretation of balance. However, I have certain difficulties accepting the plausibility of the first interpretation. As I have implied above, few would deny that a person making a significant contribution to a demanding field like science, must let one of his or her interests predominate over others. Empirical data might conceivably support Vynnycenko's position after all (I will consider his own success in several full-blown professional careers below), but it seems counter-intuitive to claim that a person will be unhappy merely because he or she is almost completely devoted to one vocation or one interest.

    One tends to think that people who have a single vocation and who devote most of their time and energy to it may be considered as happy. Hryhorij Skovoroda,27 the eighteenth-century Ukrainian philosopher, argued that the pursuit of one's vocation -- a vocation for which one was destined by nature -- is indeed true happiness. To work daily on what is not one's vocation is close to living death. On this question I tend to side with Skovoroda.

    Our contemporary theory of personality, developed by the psychologist Abraham H. Maslow, seems to be akin to the one of Skovoroda. For Maslow, the goal of life is the realization of one's potential, or self-realization.28 We are not certain that Maslow would agree with the second interpretation of balance given here, but in any case this second interpretation has much more going for it than the first. To be in tune with one's environment and to strike a balance in the sense of a harmony of one's particular interests, ceteris paribus, is without doubt a desirable goal of individuals. The ceteris paribus clause is necessary, because there is a need to specify which environmental conditions it is worthwhile to be in balance with, and which ought to be modified. Vynnycenko's moral system recommends moral rules for a happy life. Among them are rules for proper nutrition, sexual conduct, relationships with other individuals, etc. Since his thesis is that most of mankind is suffering from the disease which he calls discordism, naturally it is not with such an environment that one should be in balance, but with a pre-discordist or post-discordist environment.

    That happiness is a balance of internal and external forces in the individual is not a philosophical abstraction that has no relation to Vynnycenko's life. On the contrary, as is evident not only from his fiction but from his diaries, his philosophy was a lived philosophy. Let us briefly leave Vynnycenko's theories and consider his life. His exciting biography, sketched in my introductory paragraphs, is well known. Vynnycenko, moreover, kept from the age of thirty-one an almost daily record of how he felt and what he did.29 On the surface, we have a man who did indeed successfully pursue many interests, even careers. He was a short-story writer, novelist, dramatist, journalist, political theorist, practical politician, and head of state; in the last twenty years of his life he developed into a professional gardener, a natural-foods expert, as well as a painter. As this article testifies, he was a thinker. In spite of the variety of interests, it is not easy to decide which of the two interpretations of balance is exemplified by his life.

    We recall that when Vynnycenko was head of state, he expressed regret at not having enough time for writing. This was probably an important reason contributing to his early resignation from political life. In the 1930s, partially because of the rise of fascism. Vynnycenko's royalties from such sources as the Western European theater began to diminish. His royalties from the Soviet Union were completely cut off, primarily because of his criticism of Stalinism.30 In order to guarantee an economic base for himself and his wife, he purchased a garden farm near Cannes, which he called "Zakutok." Unfortunately, Vynnycenko underestimated the amount of time required to make the garden productive and overestimated the income that it would bring. Important for our purposes is the fact that Vynnycenko laments that his creative work suffers, particularly during the planting and summer seasons, because there is so little time and energy left for writing. Vynnycenko's experience has been borne out again and again by people who desired to live of the land, so to speak. After all the daily chores were done, little time or energy remained to do much else. The conclusion to be drawn is that for sedentary professions it is important to have avocations such as sports or gardening for a balanced, healthy life. But when it becomes necessary to pursue such activities for one's livelihood, and when such pursuits begin to occupy most of our productive life, then they lead to frustrations and ultimately unhappiness. In his diaries, Vynnycenko says again and again that he was happiest when he could devote most of his energies to writing. In spite of the complexities of the case, I think that Vynnycenko's life, as against his theory, tends to support the second, rather than the first, interpretation of balance. Such evidence, however, has to be taken with a grain of salt lest we fall into the ad hominem fallacy. Also, such biographical asides, in the end, help us little in our pursuit of the question as to which of the two interpretations of balance was intended by Vynnycenko in Concordism. With this in mind, let us return to the work itself.


    An imbalance of forces serves to define not only unhappiness but also disease. Vynnycenko defines disease as follows:

Disease is the disarray or disorganization of forces in the organism, whether it be the weakening of organs or cells or the dispersal of their functions; i.e., disagreement or imbalance of forces. The agreement of functions, when they are balanced, is felt by the organism as satisfaction, joy or even rapture. If such a state persists for a long duration, so does joy, and only then do we have a right to call such a state the joy of life or happiness.31

    The only difference between disease and unhappiness presumably is that there are different forces at work in each case. In the case of unhappiness, the imbalance might be not only chemical or physical, but might also involve interests or values. Even diseases can be psychosomatically induced, as the result of frustrations due to an imbalance of interests or to excessive stress, produced by conflicts with the environment. On the other hand, some, if not most, psychological disorders or diseases are caused by chemical imbalances. There is a school of psychiatric medicine that treats mental disorders by nutrition and megavitamin therapy.32 Vynnycenko claims that mankind is almost universally suffering from the disease of discordism: in an unpublished novel, Leprozorij (Leprosarium),33 he regards mankind as a colony of lepers. The reason that such a widespread disease is so rarely noticed is that almost everyone suffers from it. It is the norm in modern societies, hence it is not treated as an anomaly -- usually only deviations from the norm are taken as constituting some disorder. Because mankind is suffering from the disease of discordism, the causes of unhappiness of most people become plain: we recall that, according to Vynnycenko, an imbalance of forces is a sign not only of disease but also of unhappiness.

    To explain how mankind has fallen victim to such a widespread disease, Vynnycenko proposes a hypothesis which borders on a myth of primordial man. Primordial man did not suffer from diseases, nor did he know unhappiness, until the great catastrophe -- the Biblical flood. Vynnycenko describes the antediluvian state of nature:

We have to find the cradle of civilization . . . somewhere at the shores of the Pacific or Indian Ocean . . . where even today there are islands with an ideal climate and with a rich flora. If we believe the opinions of scientists who claim that mankind, even without a system of written signs, is capable of preserving in its memory events that occurred long ago, then we have to agree that the myth of the existence of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has a real basis. What else are we to call the life of our ancestors if not heavenly (heaven on earth) or happy? They enjoyed that balance and agreement of forces that we call happiness. They were not troubled by hunger or cold or antagonisms or jealousies or the exploitation of man by man . . . even sickness was unheard of . . . 34

    Vynnycenko further speculates that primitive people ate fruits, vegetables, nuts, and therefore there was an ample supply of everything. But, as is described in the Bible and other myths, the Great Flood caused the deaths of countless people and scattered the survivors over more inhospitable lands. There fruits and vegetables were much scarcer; in order to survive, people were forced lo slaughter animals and devour their carcasses. In order to facilitate the consumption of such indigestible food, people began to cook and to season meals and other foodstuffs, so as to guarantee their own and their relatives' existence. A clan would endeavor to expropriate as big a piece of land and as many plants and animals as it could. But the eating of meat and of cooked foods in time led lo various diseases, especially those of the stomach. Such a diet gradually weakened a person's organs and cells. People began to fall ill, and therefore became unhappy. Other causes of psychological change, moreover, were becoming evident. The continued aggressive and violent behavior, implied by the accumulation of wealth to guarantee survival, led to the hypertrophy of the ego. The increase of wealth at any price -- by taking advantage of the weaker -- ultimately resulted in a state of economic, and hence social, inequality. Social and economic inequality became another reason for the state of unhappiness. In time, new human characteristics were formed:

Not only did the ego-hypertrophy become evident, but all other psychological functions began to be deformed as well. . . A new morality began to appear, based on the new abnormal conditions of life and on new psychological states. That is why psychological states which could not have existed in primordial times, such as rivalry, jealousy, hostility, pugnacity, cruelty, insidiousness, coercion began to appear . . . and to become, as it were, a part of the laws of nature. 35


    I now want to place Vynnycenko's myth-hypothesis about primordial man in historical perspective. In the history of Western thought, especially during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there were many similar hypotheses or myths about man in the state of nature. The goal of such myths is plain -- to explain which characteristics of mankind are inherited, and which are acquired. Such myths attempted to resolve the issue of whether man is by nature aggressive and destructive, or peaceful and creative. Needless to say, they imply a human nature, or "essence," as developed by ancient Greeks, particularly Aristotle.

    As the reader may have already surmised, Vynnycenko's myth is compatible not only with the Judeo-Christian Biblical account, but also with the social theories of Jean Jacques Rousseau36 and Karl Marx. Those theorists attributed to man in the state of nature exclusively peaceful, creative, or generally good characteristics. Only changes in the environment -- or in the case of the Judeo-Christian tradition, original sin -- resulted in the formation of such characteristics in man as excessive egoism, aggressiveness, viciousness and destructiveness.

    The second myth-hypothesis was proposed by Thomas Hobbes.37 Although it is completely opposite to the myth-hypothesis outlined above, it too implies the basis of human nature or "essence." According to Hobbes, life in the state of nature was "nasty, brutish and short." Vynnycenko would have reserved such words for the human condition only after the great Flood and even then only after some time had elapsed.) The Hobbesian picture of life in the state of nature describes humans as egoistical, aggressive and brutal. In their attempts to satisfy their desires and needs, they took advantage of their fellow men, exploiting them, subjugating as many of them as their strength would allow, and frequently killing them. Because of constant wars, anarchy, and absence of security, it is hard to imagine primitive man as attaining happiness. Hobbes argues that only when people gave up most of their rights to the sovereign and joined the commonwealth, was it possible to have security, peace and stability. Only a strong sovereign, however, deserves the respect of his constituents. Citizens have the right to overthrow sovereigns who do not have enough power to enforce the laws and to keep peace.

    More than thirty years of scholarly work since the writing of Concordism has contributed little to the resolution of the question as to which of the two competing myth-hypotheses is the more probable one. Because of the problem of verification, scientists and philosophers alike are more reluctant than ever to develop further hypotheses about the primordial state of man. As a result, the battleground has shifted to those theories of human nature which bypass the issue of the primordial state.

    At the present time, the nature-nurture controversy is waged in the textbooks of a new science (or pseudo-science) called sociobiology. The founder of sociobiology, Edward 0. Wilson of Harvard,38 claims that his science can establish which of the exhibited human characteristics are transmitted by the genes, and which are acquired. He argues, for example, that males and females exhibit different characteristics not because of nurture but because of genetic differences. Such human characteristics as male dominance, homosexuality and xenophobia seem to resemble similar behavior in animals. Sociobiologists conclude that because such behavior is genetically based in animals, it is likely to be thus based in humans. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1978, Eleanor Leacock, an anthropologist from City College of New York, opposed the sociobiologists by demonstrating that, although male dominance is evident in Western societies, it is not the rule in all human societies: recent anthropological findings have shown that there were societies in which women played al least as important a role as did men in food gathering, and often enjoyed as much social and sexual freedom as did the men.39 Women's liberation groups have vehemently objected to Wilson's theories on the grounds that sociobiology is merely a subtle version of sexism, as well as racism.

    There is yet another theory which provides a sort of compromise between the extremes of the Rousseau-Vynnycenko and the Hobbesian theories. Man is capable of both good and evil -- of creative, cooperative behavior, as well as of destructive, aggressive, individualistic behavior. It is environmental factors which decide whether an individual develops in the one or the other direction. That position is perhaps the most compatible with the Aristotelian view of man as composed of potentiality and actuality. According to Aristotle, each being has a nature, an "essence," which disposes it for action. Man's life is the unfolding of his potentialities. Environmental conditions determine which dispositions to action are exhibited in man, just as appropriate conditions dictate whether or not an acorn becomes an oak tree. Contemporary versions of such a compromise position on human nature are found in Bertrand Russell and even more recently, in the Yugoslav philosopher Mihailo Markovic.40

    At the present time I find this dispositional account of human nature the most plausible one. We recall that in Vynnycenko's account, a harsh environment causes the formation of undesirable characteristics, such as excessive egoism, etc. This implies that if one changes the environment, one can gradually improve the behavior of individuals living in it. Because the Aristotelian view takes it as axiomatic that actual behavior is a sign of a disposition to such behavior in an individual's nature, Hobbes' and Rousseau's extreme accounts of human nature, as contradictory as they arc, must both be part of the essence of man. In actuality, the great variety of behavior patterns exhibited throughout history implies that human nature must be a very malleable and amorphous thing. Let me show, finally, how Hobbes' and Rousseau's theories give rise to completely opposite practical social policies; the Hobbesians will tend to support a strong police and army to keep the lid on the dangerous qualities of man; the followers of Rousseau will not fear removing restrictions on human behavior, at least for the very young. They will encourage laws which restrict pollution and keep the environment as close as possible to its natural state.

    It is worth noting parenthetically that Vynnycenko entertained, at least in his last novel, Slovo za toboyu, Staline (Take the Floor, Stalin), a form of the Aristotelian position. One of the characters says:

It is true, Mary, that when Stalin was healthy and strong, he had a healthy instinct for justice. But when he began to grow old, when his strength weakened, his instinct for justice began to be deadened by such forces as egoism, ambition, greed for power . . . Oh uncle, shouted Mary, it appears then that all old people should be extremely egoistical and self-centered . . . ? No, girl, not all, but only those who live in environments conducive to such development. In you and me at the present time there is no greed for power!41


    Vynnycenko's nutritional thesis is based, at least in part, on firsthand experience with what he called "the Concordist diet." For the average reader, personal testimony concerning dramatic improvements in one's health can be very persuasive. Vynnycenko, for example, writes in his diary entry of January 7, 1933: ". . . After five months of this regime [diet] we feel almost fifty years younger . . . " (Vynnycenko was then fifty-three). In the entry of January 10th of the same year, he writes: "By itself, without any medication, my hair grew back . . . just because we returned to a diet of our cave ancestors."

    To give the reader a flavor of the daily menu of the Concordist nutritional program, let me quote from the entry made after the New Year celebration of January 1, 1945:

Najradrada greeted the New Year with the following dinner menu: salad, wheat with milk and grape juice, and hot water with milk. And we thought of all the unfortunate people who dined on all the poisons that discordism provides. Today Najradrada feels a freshness, a lightness, a capability, a capacity for all kinds of work, and the radiance of spirit which is maximally possible in this polluted atmosphere, aggravated by all of the sores of discordism.

    On January 6, 1933, Vynnycenko listed in his diary the following very general reasons for the correctness of the Concordist diet:

Modern science, clear logic and our own experience lead us to the absolute conviction that our diet is the most nutritious, healthful. cleanest, most aesthetic and most economical possible. We have adopted the diet and see no serious reason for changing it . . . just as there can be no doubt as to what to feed a horse -- oats, hay or whatever -- so also in our case. . . . Enjoyment comes not from variety and inventiveness in the menu but health and appetite. Inventiveness and variety were introduced by people of poor health and with a depressed, dull appetite. . . . One need not arouse appetite in a healthy person, it comes by itself, when it is needed.

    Because Vynnycenko himself felt better after such a dramatic change of diet, it is understandable why he speaks with so much conviction. Doubtless, Vynnycenko felt better after he stopped smoking, drinking, and eating French dishes with all their rich sauces. Life on a small estate in southern France, and frequent work out-of-doors, on the house and in the garden, also helped. Actually, improvement in one's health and well-being can come from any one or more of such salutary changes. People report a general improvement in health, for example, just because they stopped smoking, or just because of regular physical exercise, or just because of a change of diet.

    It is difficult to deny Vynnycenko's claim that eating more natural foods -- foods which are less processed or which have fewer chemical additives -- is healthier for the human organism. Years of scientific experimentation confirmed the dangers to one's health from smoking, excessive drinking, or eating foods rich in animal fats. Nevertheless, it is important to note that these "abuses" tend to affect different people differently. Much depends on their genetic tendencies to cancer, diseases of the heart. stomach or other organs. The problem with Vynnycenko's Concordism lies in part with the loose way that he formulates some of his theses. An example of such looseness is his attempt to explain most negative social behavior -- burglaries, robberies, murders -- by improper nutrition and an inhospitable environment.

    Aside from Vynnycenko's fervent and even bombastic style, in which they are expounded, his nutritional claims have been paralleled by recent developments in nutritional science. It is, for example, incontestable that many cooked foods lack some of the nutritional value of raw food.42 It is equally true that a heavy diet, consisting of pork and beef, can be detrimental to one's health, particularly to the cardiovascular system. One could go on to cite further examples in the end, let me say that nutritional science has, in my opinion, merely touched the tip of the iceberg. Approximately forty years after Concordism was written, the study of the connection between nutrition and human diseases is still in the infantile stages of development. Part of the problem lies in the very nature of the science of nutrition, which does not encourage precise experiments. Experiments must be conducted over long periods of time and by the method of double-blind studies. Even with such special care, it is difficult to control the various external, environmental effects on the given experiment. In the final analysis, the results are usually couched in statistical terms which are only more or less accurate.


    A controversy has arisen over the issue of whether Vynnycenko developed a new moral system or not. In a recent paper "Vynnycenko's Moral Laboratory,"43 Danylo Struk claims that neither in Vynnycenko's formal writings, nor in his personal explanations and commentaries, are there any grounds for claiming that Vynnycenko himself propagated a new morality. My own reading of Vynnycenko's philosophical and literary work leads me to conclude that Struk's above claim is erroneous. I want to argue that both in Vynnycenko's philosophical work Concordism, and in such novels as Nova zapovid' (The New Commandment), he was consistently and deliberately developing a new moral system.

    What are the criteria for my claim? It is almost universally acknowledged that a moral system is defined by a set of rules. John Rawls, a leading contemporary moral philosopher, has drawn in his article "Two Concepts of Rules"44 an analogy between moral systems and games. He argues that just as the rules of a game define the game, so the rules of morality define the given system of morality. Change even a single rule in a game and you have created a new game. To tighten his definition, Rawls draws a distinction between two kinds of rules -- regulative and constitutive. Constitutive rules are those that are definitive of a game; for example, the moves of chess pieces constitute the game of chess. Regulative rules are merely rules of thumb; they, therefore, are weaker. They pertain to game strategies rather than to the definition of the basic rules of the game, for instance, the decision when to castle in a chess game. According to Rawls, moral rules are constitutive or definitive of the given system of morality. This is a rather formal definition of a system of morality.

    The Ten Commandments constitute the core of the Judeo-Christian system of morality. This system -- because of its longstanding tradition and widespread acceptance, at least in the Western world -- deserves to be called the standard system or morality. Any recently proposed system of morality which deviates from it can be said to constitute a new system. For example, if the socialists would codify their system, they would offer a new system of morality, at least in the sense that it would be in conflict with some of the Ten Commandments. One way to interpret Struk's claim that Vynnycenko did not propagate a new morality is to say that even when we observe the obvious fact that socialist morality is anterior to Vynnycenko's writings and therefore technically older than they are, Vynnycenko still can be considered as proposing a new morality, even with respect to the socialist one. The issue is complicated further by the fact that Vynnycenko, both in novels like Nova zapovid; and in philosophical treatises, claims time and again that neither the socialists, nor the communists have ever developed a system of morality. He states in Concordism:

Neither the socialists nor the communists . . . have ever had in the past or at present, their own [system of] morality. Both the socialists and the communists have produced certain theoretical works on ethical themes, but they have failed to create any specified and formulated system of moral rules.
Nowhere can one find rules on how a socialist or communist individual is to behave toward nature, toward himself, toward the members of his collective. As far as the practice of socialists -- and even more so of communists -- is concerned, their morality has not departed from the morality practiced by members of traditional religions: absolutism, dogmatism, coercion [compulsion], penalties, hatred, etc.45

    Having argued that the Judeo-Christian religious morality has drawbacks and, furthermore, that the socialist and communist morality has never been properly developed,46 Vynnycenko proceeds to establish a system of rules for his own Concordist morality. My above explanation of how moral rules ought to be understood will serve as a basis for the following brief summary of Vynnycenko's system of morality. It should then be an easy matter to prove that Vynnycenko did in fact develop a new morality.

    Vynnycenko's moral principles are not imperative -- they do not have the force of obligations. His system allows "for the complete freedom and independence of the individual."47 Concordist morality rejects ''commandments-orders'' and instead provides "rules of advice", for example, "if you want to be healthy, strong and happy, you are advised to proceed thus and thus." Vynnycenko's attitude to moral principles as rules of advice is by itself in sharp contrast to the imperatives of the Ten Commandments (i.e., Thou shalt not steal, etc.). Two questions should be answered before such an "advisory" system of morality is recommended. Can society be run on a system of principles which have the character of counsel, rather than the force of imperatives? Does Vynnycenko's proposal embody our intuitions about the essence of morality? These are difficult questions indeed. Although it is important to be aware of them, restrictions of space do not allow me to discuss them adequately in this article. Instead, I will proceed to list Vynnycenko's Rules of Concordist Morality.

    First Rule: "In all aspects of your life, constantly liberate yourself from the hypnosis of religion and be a simple part of nature."48

    Second Rule: "Be at peace [in agreement] with other beings on this earth that do not cause you harm. Try as hard as you can to engage in outdoor activities, striving to be in the closest contact possible with the sun, water and plant life." 49

    Third Rule: "Do not eat anything that is not compatible with human nature. That is, do not eat anything that was not prepared in the kitchen of mother nature."50

    Fourth Rule: "Be integrated [form a unified whole]. Or, in other words, behave in such a manner that your action will he a manifestation of the agreement of the great majority of your main forces (instincts, sub-instincts, reason, feelings, unconscious drives, will)."51

    Fifth Rule: "Be honest with yourself. That is, bring to the surface of consciousness every unconscious thought, every hidden feeling; do not be lackadaisical or excessively egoistical or fearful to lose those habits and to take pleasure in acting in a sly manner with yourself. Most important, do not be afraid to be truthful and courageous towards yourself."52

    Sixth Rule: "Bring your thought and action into agreement; namely whatever you espouse on the level of words, carry out in practice. Whatever you preach to others, practice yourself."53

    Seventh Rule: "Be steadfast to the end."54 Vynnycenko explains the Seventh Rule in another passage:

Inconstancy, vacillation, indecisiveness or opportunism are the most distinctive characteristics of discordist morality. Just as that morality does not demand agreement between thought and action, so also it does not require one to be steadfast to the end. When an honest discordist says "a," he does not feel it necessary to say "b," and thus follow his activity to the end. On the contrary, this wavering, evasive opportunism is put forth as a positive value in diplomacy and in Realpolitik.

    For a person who wants to be honest with himself, being steadfast to the end is the best way to control himself and to justly test the practicability of the realization of a certain idea. By the application of this rule of action, one can expose all the secret and hidden absurdities and contradictions of the rules of discordist morality.

    Eighth Rule: ''Do not force yourself to love your neighbor without a personal evaluation, and do not expect his love in return without being valuable to him."55 Explaining the Eighth Rule, Vynnycenko writes: "Love is a valuation. To love that which one does not know and which one does not value is an absurdity. But more important, one cannot love that which is detrimental to one, which is ugly. This law pertains to all living beings."

    Ninth Rule: "Remember at all times that everyone, including you, is inflicted with the horrible disease of discordism. Fight it, not with dogmatism or hatred or punishment, but with understanding, pity and aid."56

    Tenth Rule: "Live only from the fruits of your own labor."57 Vynnycenko goes on:

That is, it you want to have as much advantage as you can from the agreement of forces within and outside of you on the one hand, and on the other, from the sources that we derive from our neighbors, then in no way take away from your neighbors the basis of their livelihood. Sustain yourself in this world only by the fruits of your own efforts, by your own labor. First and foremost, this is a law of nature. Every living creature, in one way or another, does its best to create for itself the means of its own existence, or in other words, it exerts itself in labor. Whenever it does not do this, then sooner or later it will become abnormal, unhealthy and crippled!

    Eleventh Rule: "Make love with whomever it is pleasant to do so, but create a family only with that person whom you want with all your soul and body to have as the mother of your children."58

    Twelfth Rule: "Do not dominate and do not succumb to dominance."59

    Thirteenth Rule: "Do not be above the collective or beneath it, or outside of it -- be an active, committed part of it. Then even suffering for it will bring a higher joy."60

    Let me now attempt a comparison between the Concordist and the Judeo-Christian moralities. Even such a detail as the title of Vynnycenko's novel Nova zapovid' --The New Commandment -- suggests a justification for it. There is no doubt that the two systems dramatically differ from each other. The differences can be divided into:

  1. those rules that are opposite or contradictory -- in Vynnycenko's case, Rules One, Four, Eight, Eleven and Twelve;
  2. those rules of Vynnycenko that are missing in the Judeo-Christian system -- Rules Two, Three, Ten and Thirteen;
  3. those rules that are the same in both systems -- the Sixth Rule;
  4. rules that are ambiguous as to the Judeo-Christian system -- Rules Five and Seven.

    The First Rule of Vynnycenko's system which recommends to "liberate yourself from the hypnosis of religion" is derivable from his philosophy of naturalism. According to this view, man is a part of nature and not, as the Judeo-Christian religion puts him, above nature (see also Rule Three). The believer, however, puts himself above nature in the conviction that he has a supernatural or immaterial soul. This difference is profound, flowing as it does from opposite views on the nature of man and the world. It is worthwhile to point out that Vynnycenko is not unambiguous concerning religion. He echoes not only Marx but also Freud in the reason he gives for our freeing ourselves from the hypnosis of religion: religions are dogmatic and oppressive. In another instance, however, he argues that Concordism must create a new religion, or at least utilize the techniques of a religion for the blatantly anti-religious purpose of "dehypnotization," which would ensue in liberation and ultimately happiness. "Concordism," says Vynnycenko, "has to establish its own rites, rituals, ceremonies, symbols -- in a word, all the techniques of influencing the imagination, emotions and will of its followers. The following holidays should be incorporated into the arsenal in the battle with the all-human discordism: 'holiday' of dehypnotization, 'holiday' of agreement with nature, 'holiday' of agreement with oneself and with one's neighbors, 'holiday' for one or another form of liberation from discordism."61 Vynnycenko, by utilizing the technique of the old religions, ends up with a new religion. One cannot help concluding that he in principle is not against mind control, except that he would probably call it consciousness-raising, or more mundanely, a change of belief. Looking at it objectively, one cannot imagine it as being otherwise: if Concordism is to catch on as a new morality, a new system of world government -- in a word, a new Weltanschauung -- the public needs to be converted to it.

    I have listed the Fourth Rule as a principle opposed to Christian doctrine with reluctance. There are, after all, conflicting traditions on that issue within Catholicism itself. We see a strong tradition which treats the subjugation of man's sexual drives, of his will and of his feelings to God's moral law as the Christian ideal. Vynnycenko's Fourth Rule has as an ideal, on the contrary, the agreement and balance of all the components of personality listed above. That principle allows them free rein, but at the same time it aims at striking a balance, or agreement, between them. Vynnycenko's view in that Rule is actually close to the other tradition within Catholicism, founded by St. Thomas Aquinas, who was for a long time the "official" philosopher of Catholicism. According to St. Thomas, whatever is in agreement with the laws of nature is good, and whatever interferes with the laws of nature is evil.62 Modern popes have on occasion abused the concept of natural law. Some have claimed that contraceptive devices are against natural law because they interfere with the natural function of intercourse which is the begetting of children. The only drawback in this argument is that according to St. Thomas reason decides what is natural law: who is to say that popes are the official interpreters of what is and what is not in accordance with reason? Would not a council of advisers from all walks of life, including philosophers, scientists, and of course theologians, be better judges of what is reasonable? Be that as it may, Vynnycenko's philosophy echoes Thomistic philosophy when he states that the goal of man ought to be to strike a balance between himself and the forces of nature, between the forces within man and outside of man.

    There is little doubt that the Christian rule, "Love your neighbor as you love yourself," applies equally to all mankind. A true Christian must love everybody. Vynnycenko, as we have seen, does not believe that one can love a person who for one reason or another stands in opposition to one's convictions, be they moral or otherwise. He, therefore, restricts the applicability of the rule of love to those people who would be valuable to the person concerned. Few would deny that the Christian rule of "loving thy neighbor" is probably the most abused rule of Christian morality. Still, this need not provide grounds for its rejection as an ideal. After all, when we speak of morals, we are in the realm of the ought, rather than that of the is.

    Probably the most controversial rule of Vynnycenko's moral system among Christians would be Rule Eleven, which permits pre-marital sex. The rule is consistent with the general goal of agreement and balance between one's drives, intellect, and with rather than with the suppression of one's drives in the name of a supernatural law as revealed in the Bible. If the various statistical studies of the sexual practices of men and women are reliable, then the majority of Western society has been for a long time practicing the Eleventh Rule of the Concordist morality without knowing it. That rule, together with Rule Eight -- both paralleling as they do actual practices among the majority of mankind -- will encounter the least opposition from the general public outside the groups strongly committed to Christian morality.

    I have listed the Twelfth Rule as being opposed to Catholic- Christian morality because of such Christian practices as the bride pledging obedience to her husband at the altar, the Catholic pledging obedience to the rulings of the popes in matters of faith and morals, the doctrine of the infallibility of the Pope and many others. The Twelfth Rule puts Vynnycenko in opposition to any system of hierarchy, of dominance, and in favor of a system of communitas,63 where all are equal -- without lords and serfs, rich and poor, etc. There is tension, if not outright inconsistency, between that Rule and Vynnycenko's program of a world economic federation, or a world government, using the United Nations as a framework for such a government. Vynnycenko states:

It is understandable that with the world Economic Federation there would appear an imperative necessity to change the political regime of the Soviet Union. Nations of the world could not realize the ideas of disarmament without having an absolute guarantee that some nation would not take advantage of the situation of total disarmament to attack the other nations with the goal of subjugating them to its social and political system. There would have to be a serious and intensive international control over every nation. The government of every country would have to be responsible not only to the nations of the world, but also to their own constituency (nation). Such a responsibility can be carried out only under the greatest freedom of criticism of government, freedom of speech, elections, organisations, or in a word, under the greatest democracy of the federated nations.64

    I have raised these aspects of Vynnycenko's concept of a system of world government only to point out that he too envisions some form of dominance, even if it is intended to make certain that finally no one dominates.

    Obviously, much more needs to be said about the differences and similarities between Concordist and Christian moralities, but space does not permit me to continue this discussion. There remains the question of comparison between the Concordist and the socialist system of morality. Here, however, we encounter serious methodological problems.

    Neither Marx nor Engels wrote a treatise on communist or socialist morality. Only recently Soviet scholars have attempted to discuss the subject.65 As late as the 1940s, however, Vynnycenko was still justified in having one of his characters in the novel Leprozorij challenge anybody to produce a treatise on morality in communism or socialism. He repeated that challenge somewhat later in Concordism. That lack is paradoxical because, as Nikolai Berdyaev pointed out in the 1920s, Marx's critique of capitalism arose from a deep sense of moral indignation at the exploitation of man by man.66 There are many other philosophers who claim with Berdyaev that the ultimate source of the communist critique of society is not economic but moral. Unfortunately -- and here, I think, Vynnycenko is right -- the emphasis has been put on the thesis that economic forces are the determinants of the superstructure; because morality is part of the superstructure, morality is ultimately a function of economic forces. It is plain that in classical Marxism morality has been replaced by the theory of economic materialism. If there is any morality in Marx, it is only the morality of one class or another, usually expressed in the rationalizations of the class doing the exploiting. As Marx and Engels write in the Communist Manifesto. "Law, morality, religion, are to him [the proletarian] so many bourgeois prejudices, behind which lurk in ambush just as many bourgeois interests."67 Engels generalizes this position to all classes when he says, "In reality every class, even every profession, has its own morality and even this it violates whenever it can do so with impunity."68

    The second problem that complicates our attempts to compare the moral system in Concordism to socialist or communist morality has to do with the communists' contradiction between theory and practice (praxis). The revolutionary and post-revolutionary behavior of communists in the Soviet Union has been anything but moral. Because of the atrocities committed against mankind by the Soviet regime in the name of Marxism, many intellectuals who initially supported the revolution, later became its severest critics. The open avowal of the communists' maxim that the end justifies the means, ultimately leads to a total suspension of human rights and of moral principles, of even the most basic types such as the right to life.

    It is obvious that Vynnycenko's Concordist morality differs from the communist position that in the struggle for a classless society the end justifies the means. As early as 1917 and 1918, when Vynnycenko became head of the Ukrainian government, he voiced his sharp criticism of Lenin's ruthless tactics, which he considered to be perversions of true Marxism. After a period of attempts to come to terms with the Soviet system in the 1920s, Vynnycenko again became one of its severest critics in the 1930s. Hence, in Concordism, and even more poignantly and forcefully in such novels as Leprozorij, Nova Zopovid' and Slovo za toboju, Staline, Vynnycenko condemned the system of morality which permitted the extermination of millions of people in the Soviet Union, and the subjugation of hundreds of millions. He was particularly critical of the system of dual morality practiced by the Soviets -- one system for "pre-revolutionary" societies and quite another for "revolutionary" ones.

    Vynnycenko's system of morality differs from the classical Marxist system, and more fundamentally from the corrupted Marxist-Leninist system, as practiced in the Soviet Union, first and foremost in the sphere of praxis. The Twelfth Rule which states "Do not dominate and do not succumb to dominance" is plainly at odds with the Soviet system which is highly repressive, domineering and hierarchical. The Thirteenth Rule which states "Be neither above the collective, nor beneath it, nor outside of it" is also violated, primarily by the Soviets, because the members of the Communist Party which is, according to Lenin, the avant-garde of the proletariat, form a new privileged class.69 This model was recently challenged by the Polish Solidarnosc which demanded a national referendum on self-management by workers of factories,70 free elections, freedom of the press and free access to the communications media. All of these continue to be controlled by the leaders of the Communist Party of Poland.

    An even more dramatic departure from both the classical Marxist morality and the Soviet practice can be found in the Third Rule of Concordist morality. Marx, Engels, Lenin or Stalin did not envision so drastic a change in diet as was proposed by Vynnycenko. It did not occur to them that diet was so significant a factor in shaping character and ultimately societies.71 Vynnycenko goes so far as to blame diet for the failure of previous attempts at setting up a communal way of life in England, France and the Soviet Union. He writes:

Their attempts failed. They failed because they did not know the real and certain cause of evil. In the first place, they did not know that social injustice was not only a manifestation of ill will, bad morality of the people, but also of disease with which they, irrespective of their honest and beautiful desire and good will, were nevertheless thoroughly penetrated. Since they did not know this, they did not know the fundamental basis or evil with which they wanted to wage combat . . . they had a sick . . . method of thinking, feeling and acting. In the first place, they all had all of the habits and inclinations of daily life which they received from their parents, the old nutritional methods which supported and developed the inherited disease. Therefore when they joined the collective and destroyed private ownership, they destroyed just a fraction of the evil. The rest remained unnoticed within them and continued its work. They remained physically and psychologically the same discordists as the ones they tried to teach and cure.72

    The Fourth Rule of Concordist morality that advises us to "be integrated" opposes communist morality, at least in its transitional stage of struggle for a classless society. In that struggle, every communist is to subjugate his drives, feelings, will and reason to a single goal -- the total victory of communism in all countries of the world. The Sixth and Seventh Rules of Concordist morality conflict with the pragmatic, Realpoltik attitude of the communists, not only in the Soviet Union itself but also in France and Italy, certain countries in Latin America, and other areas of the world.

    In order to show that the Concordist morality differs also from the recently formulated principles of Soviet morality, I list below the principles of the moral code of the builder of communism promulgated by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1961. It reads:

    The Party holds that the moral code or the builder of communism should comprise the following principles:

    Devotion to the Communist cause; love or the Socialist motherland and of the other Socialist countries;

    Conscientious labor for the good of society -- he who does not work, neither shall he eat;

    Concern on the part of everyone for the preservation and growth of public wealth;

    A high sense or public duty; intolerant of actions harmful to the public interest;

    Collectivism and comradely mutual assistance; one for all and all for one;


    Humane relations and mutual respect between individuals; man is to man a friend, comrade, and brother;

    Honesty and truthfulness, moral purity, modesty, and guilelessness in social and private life;

    Mutual respect in the family, and concern for the upbringing of children;

    An uncompromising attitude to injustice, parasitism, dishonesty, and careerism;

    Friendship and brotherhood among all peoples of the USSR; intolerance of national and racial hatred;

    An uncompromising attitude to the enemies of Communism, peace, and the freedom of nations;

    Fraternal solidarity with the working people of all countries, and with all peoples.71

    In all fairness, a case could probably be made that Concordist morality is at least one possible development of the basic assumptions of the socialist and Marxist systems.


    Concordism is a philosophical treatise in which Vynnycenko provides a theoretical, all-encompassing definition of happiness. He examines the various aspects of the problem and proposes a system of personal, social and global structures which are essential for the realization of his conception of happiness.

    Vynnycenko's Concordism is comparable in scope and intent to Plato's Republic, in which Plato tried to provide a theoretical definition of justice by describing the kinds of social and political structures that were necessary for the realization of justice in this world. To call both systems utopian is not, in my opinion, a criticism but a descriptive term, meant to imply that both authors explore systems that are ideals, providing viable alternatives. Whereas Plato's Republic has become a paradigm of a structured society divided into three classes, Vynnycenko's Concordism, when it is published, will become a paradigm of an egalitarian, democratic, classless world society. The best minds, whether among professional intellectuals, or among practicing politicians (as, for example, representatives to the United Nations), have indeed been advancing many of the causes that Vynnycenko proposed in Concordism. Among such causes are: freedom of religion, speech, elections and organisations, the elimination of empires, total bilateral disarmament, and the creation of a world economic federation. The United Nations is already on record as supporting all of the above goals. The problem that remains is one of implementation.

    The egalitarian positions found in Concordism are not new in Vynnycenko. He held such social, economic, and perhaps even political positions almost from the beginning of his creative career. For example, he describes his position in 1938: "That position to which I belong from the very first steps of my social consciousness . . . is the position of total liberation. (social, national, political, moral, cultural, and so on)"74

    Vynnycenko's intellectual biography has yet to be written. The recent publication of the first two volumes of his diaries will provide the basis for such a project. His place in the history of Western thought (particularly regarding his ideas on the self-management of workers, his ideas on moral and political philosophy, his role in the history of socialist thought) has yet to be established. I hope that this article will be the first step in the proper evaluation of Vynnycenko's philosophical legacy.


1 The research and the writing of this paper was in part supported by a summer grant from La Salle University. I would like to thank the following persons who commented on various versions of this paper: T. Patrick Burke, Michael Kerlin. Albert Kipa, Hryhorij Kostiuk, and Martha Tarnawsky.

2 For an account of this earliest period in Vynnycenko's life, see the short biographical sketch provided by his wife, Rozalja Vynnycenko,"Volodymyr Kyrylovyv Vynnycenko (Biograficna Kanva)" in Volodymyr Vynnycenko, edited by B. Podoljak (H. Kostiuk), V. Pors'kyj (V. Mijakovs'kyj), V. Caplenko (New York: Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S., 1953), pp. 9-15. A more detailed account of Vynnycenko's life can be found in Hryhorij Kostiuk's "Volodymyr Vynnycenko ta joho ostannij roman," originally published as an introduction to the novel Slovo za toboju, Staline (New York, 1971) and reprinted in Hryhorij Kostiuk's Volodymyr Vynnycenko ta joho doba (New York, 1980), pp. 23-84.

3 The best primary source of Vynnycenko's life and thought is the diary that he kept from 1911 to 1951. Two volumes have been published to date by the Canadian institute of Ukrainian Studies in Edmonton, Canada in collaboration with the Ukrainian Academy of Arts and Sciences in the U.S., 1980 and 1983.

4 I say this in spite of the fact that Vynnycenko was one of the first heads of state to attack Lenin's policies and the general conduct of the revolution. See his Revoljucija v nebezpeci (Vienna, 1920). Lenin, in turn, attacked Vynnycenko both as political leader and as a novelist.

5 V. Vynnycenko, Le Nouveau Commandment (Paris: Editions des Presses du Temps Present, 1949). In 1951 the novel appeared in Ukrainian under the title Nova zapovid.

6 Slovo za toboju, Staline (New York, 1971).

7 For an explanation of why he moved from Paris to southern France, see Kostiuk's Volodymyr Vynnycenko, pp. 61-63.

8 Perry wrote two books on the subject of value: General Theory of Value (New York, 1926); the second, closer in structure and content to Concordism is Realms of Value: A Critique of Human Civilization (Cambridge, Mass., 1954).

9 Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, translated by Terence Irwin (Indianapolis, 1985), 1177a, 11-17.

10 Aristotle states: "It follows that the wise man must not only know what follows from first principles, but must also possess truth about first principles. Therefore wisdom must be intuitive reason combined with scientific knowledge . . . of the highest objects which has received as it were its proper completion." Ibid., 1141a, 15 ff.

11 Concordism, p. 7. All translations of quotations from Vynnycenko's works are mine.

12 Man attains his last end, and hence happiness, "by knowing and loving God." Summa Theologica, Part I of Part 2, Q1, A8. Complete happiness comes only from the participation in the Godhead. "The other is a happiness surpassing man's nature, and which man can attain by the power of God alone, by a kind of participation of the Godhead." Ibid., Q62. A1. In another place St. Thomas says: "Now the end of our desires is God; hence the act whereby we are primarily joined to Him is basically and substantially our happiness. But we arc primarily united with God by an act of the understanding, and therefore, the very seeing of God, which is an act of the intellect is . . . our happiness." "On the Sentences, 11, 40, 1, 1, Response," The Pocket Aquinas, ed V. J. Bourke (New York, 1960), p. 192.

13 Theological virtues direct man to supernatural happiness. "Theological virtues: first, because their object is God, because they direct us rightly to God; secondly, because they are infused in us by God alone; thirdly, because these virtues are not known to us except by Divine revelation, contained in the Holy Writ." Ibid., Q 62, A1.

14 See Nichomachean Ethics, 1100a, 12, where Aristotle writes that his position is meant "especially for us who say that happiness is an activity."

15 When Bentham proposed the calculus, he simply gave the following directions: "Sum up all the values of all the pleasures on the one side and those of all the pains on the other. The balance, if it be on the side of pleasure, will give the good tendency of the act upon the whole, with respect to the interests of the individual person; if on the side of pain, the bad tendency of it upon the whole." The Utilitarians: Jeremy Bentham, Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (Garden City, 1961), p. 39. For a discussion of the hedonic calculus and the problems associated with the measurement of subjective states in general, see Eugene Lashchyk. "Some Reflections on the Relationship between Philosophy and Economics'' in Annals of the Ukrainian Academy of Arts end Sciences in the U.S. Volume XIII, 1973-1977, No. 35-36, pp. 217-237.

16 For further discussion of this point, see Eugene Lashchyk, "The Hedonic Calculus as a Decision Method", MA thesis, CCNY, 1964. Gordon R. Taylor, in his book Conditions of Happiness (London, 1949), also criticizes the philosophy of hedonism which dominates our time. He states: "The real paradox of our time is not poverty in plenty but unhappiness in pleasure," p. 5.

17 For a rather comprehensive discussion of these and other theories of happiness, see V. J. McGill, The Idea of Happiness (New York, 1967). Of the most recent proposals, John Rawls' definition deserves mention. He claims that "a person is happy then during those periods when he is successfully carrying through a rational plan and he is with reason confident that his efforts will come to fruition." Theory of Justice (Cambridge. Mass., 1971), p. 550.

18 Concordism, p. 9.

19 Ibid., p. 45.

20 It should be pointed out that Vynnycenko in Concordism still uses the now discredited notion of human instincts. It was accepted practice among the social scientists at the beginning of the twentieth century to speak of human drives as instincts. His work reflects the spirit of the times.

21 Ibid., p. 119.

22 The movement in literature and art called Dadaism is the most obvious application of this erroneous interpretation of Einstein's theory of relativity. To see that there is nothing "relative" about Einstein's theory, see Henry Morgenau's article "Einstein's Conception of Reality," reprinted in Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.) Albert Einstein: Philosopher Scientist (La Salle, Ill., 1949), particularly p. 253.

23 In Claude A. Villee, Biology (Philadelphia. 1972), there is the following dramatic description of the importance of chemical balances essential for life: "The concentrations of the various salts is kept extremely constant under normal conditions, and any great deviation from the normal values causes marked effects on cell function, even death. A decreased concentration of calcium ions in the blood of mammals results in convulsions and death. Heart muscle can contract normally only in the presence of the proper balance of sodium, potassium and calcium ions. If a frog heart is removed from the body and placed in a part sodium chloride solution, it soon stops beating in the relaxed condition. . . . It will continue to beat, however, if placed in a solution containing the proper balance of these three salts," p. 14. My italics.

24 Richard Warner in a lecture called "Enjoyment and Happiness," given at the University of Pennsylvania on October 2, 1981, has argued that animals cannot be said to be happy in the primary sense because they do not realize motivational self-conceptions. He defines a necessary condition of a happy person: "A person is happy at time t only if he has enjoyed realizing a sufficient number of his motivational self-conceptions up to (and including) t" (p. 31 of ms.)

25 Vynnycenko responds to this question in his definition of disease: "The agreement of functions, when they are balanced, is felt by the organism as satisfaction, joy or even rapture. If such a state persists for a long duration . . . then . . . happiness." Concordism, p. 5. This passage indicates that Vynnycenko believes that "balance" translates into joy and ultimately felt happiness.

26 Vynnycenko proposes a communal model of the individual, without the dictatorship of reason or will or any other faculty: ". . . and we are sometimes very surprised when in the morning we wake up with a clear resolution of the question which only last night seemed so convoluted and impenetrable. Obviously the commune without the presence of a 'dictator' --consciousness during the night -- pondered the question, explained it, reduced all of the forces to unity [sucil'nosti] and came up with the general decision which intelligence must merely register and put up for realization by that same commune." Concordism p. 122.

27 The only translation into English of Skovoroda's philosophical writings can be found in Russian Philosophy, edited by James M. Edie, James P. Scanlan, Mary-Barbara Zeldin and George L. Kline (Chicago, 1965). The translated dialogue is called 'A Conversation among Five Travelers Concerning Life's True Happiness." 1:26-58. For other dialogues see the complete edition of Skovoroda's works: Povne Zibrannja Tvoriv u Dvox Tomax (Kiev, 1971).

28 See Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being (New York, 1968).

29 See Note 3 for a reference to his Diary.

30 The decision to confiscate his royalties in the Soviet Union was made at the highest levels of government. See Pravda, Dec. 6, 1933.

31 Concordism, p. 5.

32 For a nutritional and megavitamin approach to resolving serious psychological disorders and research reports from orthomolecular medicine see Michael Lesser, M. D., Nutritional and Vitamin Therapy (New York, 1980), especially pp. 25-34.

33 V. Vynnycenko, Leprozorij, MS, 1938, 477 pages. Bahmeteft Archive, Columbia University.

34 Concordism, p. 22.

35 Ibid., p. 10.

36 J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract and Discourses, translated by G. D. H . Cole (New York, 1950).

37 Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (1651). Several editions in print.

38 See, for example, Edward O. Wilson, Sociobiology (Cambridge, Mass., 1975).

39 See a report from the conference in the New York Times, Feb. 15, 1978.

40 Mihailo Markovic, Democratic Socialism (New York, 1982).

41 Slovo za toboju, Staline (New York, 1971), p. 231.

42 See the table on nutritional values of cooked and raw vegetables in Nutritional Almanac prepared by Nutritional Search, Inc., John D. Kirschmann, Director (McGraw Hill, 1975).

43 The text of Professor Struk's paper is included in this volume. (Ed.)

44 John Rawls, "Two Concepts of Rules," Part 1, Philosophical Review, LXIV (1955), pp. 3-13.

45 Concordism, p. 52.

46 This is true in spite of the fact that the socialists and communists do not lack works on ethics. The following books ought to be mentioned as at least dealing in some form or other with ethical issues. Leon Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours (New York, 1942). Karl Kautsky, Ethics and the Materialist Conception of History (Chicago, 1907). Richard Kramer, Practical Morality Taught to Soviet Children as Illustrated in Four Official Soviet Periodicals, 1937-1951 (Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1954).

47 Concordism, p. 66.

48 Ibid., p. 74.

49 Ibid., p. 78.

50 Ibid., p. 86.

51 Ibid., p. 119.

52 Ibid., p. 125-6.

53 Ibid., p. 127.

54 Ibid., p. 126.

55 Ibid., p. 144.

56 Ibid., p. 146.

57 Ibid., pp. 146-7.

58 Ibid., p. 181.

59 Ibid., p. 201.

60 Ibid., p. 203.

61 Ibid., p. 264.

62 For example, St. Thomas says: "The light of natural reason, whereby we discern what is good and what is evil which is the function of natural law, is nothing else than an imprint on us of the divine light." The Summa Theologica, Q91, A8.

63 For a definition of communitas, as the term is used here, see Victor Turner, The Ritual Process (Chicago, 1969), p. 96 and Dramas, Fields and Metaphors (Ithaca, 1974), pp. 237-238, as cited in George G. Grabowicz, The Poet as Mythmaker: A Study of Symbolic Meaning in Taras Sevcenko (Cambridge, Mass., 1982), pp. 78-79.

64 Concordism, pp. 239-240.

65 Philip J. Kain in a recent article provides an explanation of why Marx never developed a system of moral values: "There is no rule for moral values established independently of material conditions and we cannot derive moral values from facts. Morality will be replaced by empirical science [and] technical control. Marx does not try to create a scientific morality . . . Morality for Marx means what it traditionally means, and Marx rejects it as impossible." "Marx and the Abolition of Morality,'' Journal of Value Inquiry, 18: 283-297. See also Note 46.

66 Nicholai Berdyaev, The Origins of Russian Communism, translated by R. M. French (London, 1948).

67 "Manifesto of the Communist Party, 1848" in Thomas P. Whitney, comp. The Communist Blueprint for the Future: Complete Texts of All Four Communist Manifestoes 1848-1961 (New York, 1962), p. 21.

68 Friedrich Engels, Selected Works (London, 1942), Vol. 1, p. 450.

69 Milovan Djilas, The New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System (New York, 1957).

70 See New York Times, Sept. 20, 1981.

71 There have been other socialist and Marxists who considered diet as important in shaping character. Moleshott wrote a book on nutrition in the nineteenth century; also Daniel DeLeon in his Socialist Reconstruction of Society discusses the way workers eat food which lacks adequate nutrition and as a result die prematurely of various diseases. Vynnycenko had in his library a Ukrainian translation of that book which he heavily annotated: Socijalistycna perebudova suspil'stva, 1927, published by the Ukrainian Organizational Committee of the Socialist Labor Party in America.

72 Concordism, p. 261.

73 "The 1961 Draft Program," in The Communist Blueprint for the Future, p. 209. See also: Richard T. De George, Soviet Faith and Morality (Ann Arbor, 1969), p. 83.

74 Volodymyr Vynnycenko, Pered novym etapom: Nasi pozyciji (Toronto, 1938), p. 9.