Unlike apologists for capitalist social relations, communudists have no desire to exalt the superiority of ‘modern man’ over his primitive forebears. On the contrary, communudists intuitively understand the ‘grandeur’ of primitive man and see in the society of the future a restoration, albeit on a higher level, of the primitive communism of the classless societies of the past.

Communudists know that anyone who wishes to be consistent in their opposition to capitalism must necessarily re-appropriate the types of consciousness that emerged from primitive communities, as well as their social form. Since the primitive community is a true community, a society without exploitation, in which production is still geared towards the satisfaction of human needs, it follows that a large part of the material resources of these societies were directed not simply towards the immediate struggle for existence but rather into activities that were enjoyed simply for their own sake. Work was suspended and life became play. The remorseless necessity to direct activity towards some future goal was replaced by pursuits without pre-determined ends. The tyranny of time was suspended and instead everybody found themselves transported into an ecstatic present.


The development of civilisation has involved a gradual but accelerating suppression of the shamanic art of ecstasy. Thus the degree to which this art has been lost, crushed, or driven underground by the advance of civilisation, and above all by capitalist civilisation, is a yardstick by which we measure the alienation of (wo)man. Therefore the shaman’s capacity to ‘‘recapture’ the ‘language of the animals’, to allow the unconscious to speak through him, is anything but a regression to a sub-human level. It is rather one aspect of a ‘greater synthesis’ which combines the untrammelled power of animals – who are not subject to repression and can thus function to the maximum of their potential – with the creative intelligence that is unique to the human species. Shamanism is an ascent to a state where (wo)man enjoys a complete and unalienated union of instinct and conscious thought. It is an art of disalienation in which we rediscover our species-being, a state of social ‘grace’ in which we become complete.

Alan Cohen’s text “The Decadence of the Shamans: Shamanism as a Key to the Secrets of Communism” was originally written for an academic conference held in Helsinki in May 1990: the International Association for the History of Religion regional conference on northern and circumpolar religions. But it was not written exclusively for an academic audience. On the contrary. Those who were most interested in the text at this conference were precisely those who, for one reason or another, find themselves on the margins of mainstream university thinking. This was no surprise. The text is written essentially for those who, in the manner of the shamans themselves, ‘walk between the worlds’ – for those who question the assumption that the present social order has completed the mapping of reality; those who may have had fleeting glimpses of other realities, but who are dissatisfied with or downright hostile to the wooly speculations of New Age philosophies; those who have understood that the revolution of tomorrow will create a new poetry; those who seek a convergence of hidden truths. I can only hope that this essay will provide such explorers with a starting point, a framework for discussion. The text is available in full at: http://www.radicalanthropologygroup.org/old/pub_decadence.pdf

Above – Chus Martinez demonstrates the naked power of spiritual communism!