Ten Days that Shook the University  

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- De quoi t'occpes [sic] tu exactement ?
- De la réification.
- Je vois, c'est un travail trés sérieux, avec de gros livres et beaucoup de papiers sur une grande table.
- Non, je me promène. Principalement je me promène.

English translation

‘What’s your scene, man?’
‘Yeah? I guess that means pretty hard work with big books and piles of paper on a big table’
‘Nope. I drift. Mostly I just drift’.

--"La Retour de la Colonne Durutti" (1966) by André Bertrand, English translation from Ten Days that Shook the University

Related e



Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ten Days that Shook the University (1967) is a small book published by the English language Situationists, the title of which was an illusion to John Reed's Ten Days That Shook the World (1919).

It consists primarily of the text "On the Poverty of Student Life" (a modified translation by Donald Nicholson-Smith and T. J. Clark of "De la misère en milieu étudiant"). The modifications are subtle, but names such as Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Georges Brassens are not in the original text.

It also featured an introduction, the postscript "If you make a social revolution, do it for fun" and the text and illustrations of "La Retour de la Colonne Durutti" (October 1966, The Return of the Durutti Column).


Full text


In November 1966, Strasbourg University was the scene of a preliminary skirmish between modern capitalism and the new revolutionary forces which it is beginning to engender. For the first time, a few students abandoned pseudo-revolt and found their way to a coherent radical activity of a kind which has everywhere been repressed by reformism. This small group got itself elected, amidst the apathy of Strasbourg's 16,000 students, to the committee of the left-wing students' union. Once in this position of power, they began to put union funds to good use. They founded a Society for the Rehabilitation of Karl Marx and Ravachol. They . ^plastered the walls öf the city with a Marxist comic-strip] “The Return of the Durutti Column”. They proclaimed their intention to dissolve the union once and for all. Worst of all, they enlisted the aid of the notorious Situationist international, and ran off ten thousand copies of a lengthy pamphlet which poured shit on student life and loves (and a few other things). When this was handed out at the ofcial ceremony marking the beginning of the academic year, only de Gaulle was unafected. The press — local, national and international—had a field-day. It took three weeks for the local Party of Order—from right-wing students to the ofcial left, via Alsatian mill-owners—to eject these fanatics. The union was closed by a court order on the 14th of December. The judge's summing-up was disarmingly lucid: The accused have never denied the charge of misusing the funds of the students’ union. Indeed, they openly admit to having made the union pay some £500 for the printing and distribution of 10,000 pamphlets, not to mention the cost of other literature inspired by “Internationale Situation- niste”. These publications express ideas and aspirations which, to put it mildly, have nothing to do with the aims of a student union. One has only to read what the accused have written, for it to be obvious that these five students, scarcely more than adolescents, lacking all experience of real life, their minds confused by ill-digested philosophical, social, political and economic theories, and perplexed by the drab monotony of their everyday life, make the empty, arrogant and pathetic claim to pass definitive judge¬ ments, sinking to outright abuse, on their fellow-students, their teachers, God, religion, the clergy, the governments and political systems of the whole world. Rejecting all morality and restraint, these cynics do not hesitate to commend theft, the destruction of scholarship, the abolition of work, total subversion and a world-wide proletarian revolution with “unlicensed pleasure” as its only goal. In view of their basically anarchist character, these theories and propaganda are eminently noxious. Their wide difusion in both student circles and among the general public, by the local, national and foreign press, are a threat to the morality, the studies, the reputationjmd thus the very future of the students of the University of Strasbourg. What follows is a translation of the infamous pamphlet in question. It hast already been translated into Swedish and Italian, and is at present being trans- ‘ lated into Dutch, German and Spanish. At the end we have added a few remarks on the importance of situationist activity in Strasbourg, and its relevance to the (very diferent) English situation.

No copyright is held on this text. It can be reproduced by anyone in any form whatsoever.


On the Poverty of Student Life

Considered in its economic, political, \ psychological, sexual and, particularly intellectual aspects, and a modest proposal for its remedy

To make shame more shameful still by making it public

We might very well say, and no-one would disagree with us, that the student is the most universally despised creature in France, apart from the prest and the policeman. Naturally he is usually attacked from the wrong point of view, with specious reasons derived from the ruling ideology. He may be worth the contempt of a true revolutionary, yet a revolutionary crtique of the student situation is currently taboo on the ofcial Left. The licensed and impotent opponents of capitalism repress the obvious—that what is wrong with the students is also what is wrong with them. They convert their unconscious con¬ tempt into a blind enthusiasm. The radical intelligentsia (from Les Temps Modernes to ĽExpress) prostrates itself before the so-called “rise of the student" and the declining bureaucracies of the Left (from the “Ccmmunist” party to the Stalinist National Union of Students) bids noisily for his moral and materal support. There are reasons for this sudden enthusiasm, but they are all provided by the present form of capitalism, in its overdeveloped state. We shall use this pamphlet for denunciation. We shall expose these reasons one by one, on the prnciple that the end of alienation is only reached by the straight and narrow path of alienation itself. Up to now, studies of student life have ignored the essential issue. The surveys and analyses have all been psychological or sociological or ecor omic: in other words, academic exercises, content with the false categories of one pecial- ization or another. None of them can achieve what is most needed—a vi^w of modem societ as a whole. Fourier denounced their error long ago as the attempt to apply scientifc laws to the basic assumptions of the science (“porter régulièrement sur les questions primordiales“). Everything is said about our society except what it is, and the nature of its two basic principles—the com¬ modity and the spectacle. The fetichism of facts masks the essential category, and the details consign the totality to oblivion. Modem capitalism and its spectacle allot everyone a specifc role in a general passivity. The student is no exception to the rule. He has a provisional part to play, a rehearsal for his fnal role as an element in market society as conservative as the rest. Being a student is a form of initiation. An initiation which echoes the rtes of more prmitive societies with bizarre precision. It goes on outside of history, cut of from social reality. The student leads a double life, poised between his present status and his future role. The two are absolutely separate, and the jourey from one to the other is a mechanical event “in the future”. Meanwhile, he basks in a schizophrenic consciousness, withdrawing into his initiation group to hide from that future. Protected from history, the present is a mystic trance. 5 At least in consciousness» the student can exist apart from the ofcial truths of ^economic life”. But for very simple reasons: looked at economically» student life is a hard one. In our “society of abundance”, he is still a pauper. 80% of students come from income groups well above the working class, yet 90% have less money than the meanest labourer. Student poverty is an anachronism, a throw-back from an earlier age of capitalism; it does not share in the new poverties of the spectacular societies; it has yet to attain the new povert of the new proletariat. Nowadays the teenager shufes of the moral prejudices and authority of the family to become part of the market even before he is adolescent: at ffteen he has all the delights of being directly exploited. In contrast the student covets his protracted infancy as an irresponsible and docile paradise. Adolescence and its crises may bring occasional brushes with his family, but in essence he is not troublesome: he agrees to be treated as a baby by the institutions which provide his education 1 . There is no “student problem”. Student passivity is only the most obvious symptom of a general state of afairs, for each sector of social life has been subdued by a similar imperialism. Our social thinkers have a bad conscience about the student problem, but only because the real problem is the poverty and servitude of all. But we have diferent reasons to despise the student and all his works. What is unforgivable is not so much his actual misery but his complaisance in the face of the misery of others. For him there is only one real alienation: his own. He is a full-time and happy consumer of that commodity, hoping to arouse at least our pity, since he cannot claim our interest. By the logic of modem capitalism, most students can only become mere petits cadres (with the same function in neo-capitalism as the skilled worker had in the nineteenth-century economy). The student really knows how miserable will be that golden future which is supposed to make up for the shameful poverty of the present. In the face of that knowledge, he prefers to dote on the present and invent an imaginary prestige for himself. After all, there will be no magical compensatiop for present drabness: tomorrow will be like yester¬ day, lighting these fools the way to dust death. Not unnaturally he takes refuge in an unreal present. The student is a stoical slave: the more chains authorit heaps upon him, the freer he is in phantasy. He shares with his new family, the University, a belief in a curious kind of autonomy. Real independence, apparently, lies in a direct subservience to the two most powerful systems of social control: the family and the State. He is their well-behaved and grateful child, and like the submissive child he is over-eager to please. He celebrates all the values and mystifcations of the system, devourng them with all the anxiety of the infant at the breast. Once, the old illusions had to be imposed on an aristocracy of labour; the petits cadres-iobe ingest them willingly under the guise of cultive. There are various forms of compensation for poverty. The total povert of ancient societies produced the grandiose compensation of religion. The student's povert by contrast is a marginal phenomenon, and he casts around for com¬ pensations among the most down-at-heel images of the ruling class. He Is a bore who repairs the old jokes of an alienated culture. Even as an ideologist, he is always out of date. One and all, his latest enthusiasms were rdiculous thirty years ago. Once upon a time the universities were respected; the student persists in the belief that he is lucky to be there. But he arrved too late. The bygone excellence of bourgeois culture 2 has vanished. A mechanically produced specialist is now the goal of the “educational system”. A modern economic system demands mass production of students who are not educated and have been rendered incapable 1 If ever they stop screvag his arse of, iťs only to come round and kick him in the balls. 2 By this we mean the culture of a Hegel or of the encyclopédistes, rather than the Sorbonn e and the Ecole Normale Supéreure.

6 of thinking. Hence the decline of the universities and the automatic nullity of die student once he enters its portals. The university has become a society for the propagation of ignorance; “high culture“ has taken on the rhythm of the production line; without exception, university teachers are cretins, men who would get the bird from any audience of schoolboys. But all this hardly matters: the important thing is to go on listening respectfully. In time, if critical thinking is repressed with enough conscientiousness, the student will come to partake of the wafer of knowledge, the professor will tell him the fnal truths of the world. Till thei—a menopause of the spirt. As a matter of course the future revolutionary society will condemn the doings of lecture theatre and faculty as mere noise — socially undesirable. The student is already a very bad joke. The student is blind to the obvious—that even his closed world is changing. The “crsis of the university”—that detail of a more general crisis of modern capitalism—is the latest fodder for the deaf-mute dialogue of the specialists. Ibis “crsis” is simple to understand: the difculties of a specialised sector which is adjusting (too late) to a general chagrin the rlations of production. There Was once a vision—if an ideological one—of a liberal bourgeois university. But as its social base disappeared, the vision became banality. In the age of free-trade capitalism, when the “liberal” state left it its marginal freedoms, the university could still think of itself as an independent power. Of course it was a pure and narrow product of that society’s needs—particularly the need to give the prvileged minorty an adequate general culture before they rejoined the ruling class (not that going up to university was straying very far from class confnes). But the bitter¬ ness of the nostalgic don 1 is understandable : belter, after all, to be the blood¬ hound of the haute bourgeoisie than sheepdog to the world’s white-collars. Better to stand guard on privilege than harry the fock into their allotted factories and bureaux, according to the whims of the “planned economy”. The university is becoming, fairly smoothly, the honest broker of technocracy and its spectac le. In the process, the pursts of the academic Right become a pitiful sideshow, purvey¬ ing their “universal” cultural goods to a bewildered audience of specialists. More serous, and thus more dangerous, are the modernists of the Left and the Students’ Union, with their talk of a “reform of University structure ” and a “reinsertion of the University into social and economic life”, i.e., its adaptation to the needs of modem capitalism. The one-time suppliers of general culture to the ruling classes, though still guarding their old prestige, must be converted into the forcing-house of a new labour aristocracy. Far from contesting the historcal process which subordinates one of tb- last relatively autonomous social groups to the demands of the market, the progressives romplain of delays and inefciency in its completion. They are the standard-bearers of the cyberetic university of the future (which has already reared its ugly head in some unlikely quarters). And they are the enemy: the fght against the market, which is starting again in earest, means the fght against its latest lackeys. As for the student, this struggle is fought out entirely over his head, some¬ where in the heavenly realm of his masters. The whole of his life is beyond his control, and for all he sees of the world he might as well be on another planet. I-. His acute economic poverty condemns him to a paltry form of survival. But, 3 - Š 1 being a complacent creature, he parades his very ordinary indigence as if it were an orginal life-style: self-indulgently, he afects to be a Bohemian. The Bohemian solution is hardly viable at the best of times, and the notion that it could be achieved without a complete and fnal break with the university milieu is quite ludicrous. But the student Bohemian (and every student likes to pretend that he is a Bohemian at heart) clings to his false and degraded version of individual revolt. He is so “eccentric” that he continues—thirty years after Reich’s excellent I No-one dares any longer to speak in the name of nineteenth century liberalism; so they reminisce about the “free“ and 4t popular*' universities of the middle ages—that “democracy of unfreedom“. 7 lessons—to entertain the most traditional forms of erotic behaviour, reproducing at this level the general relations of class society. Where sex is concerned, we have leamt better tricks from elderly provincial ladies. His rent-a-crowd militancy for the latest good cause is an aspect of his real impoten ce. Hie student’s old-fashion ea poverty, however, does put him at a potential advantage—if only he could see it. He does have marginal freedoms, a small area of liberty which as yet escapes the totalitaran control of the spectacle. His fexible working-hours permit him adventure and experment. But he is a sucker for punishment, and freedom scares him to death: he feels safer in the straight- jacketed space-time of lecture hall and weekly “essay”. He is quite happy with this open prison organised for his “beneft”, and, though not constrained, as are most people, to separate work and leisure, he does so of his own accord— hypocrtically proclaiming all the while his contempt for assiduity and grey men. He embraces every available contradiction and then mutters darkly about the “difculties of communication” from the uterine warmth of his religious, artistic or political clique. Drven by his freely-chosen depression, he submits himself to fe subsidiary -police force of psychiatrists set up by the avant-garde of repression. The uni¬ versity mental health clinics are run by the student mutual organisation, which sees this institution as a grand victory for student unionism and social progress. Like the Aztecs who ran to greet Cortes’s sharpshooters, and then wondered what made the thunder and why men fell down, the students fock to the psycho-police stations with their “problems”. The rpal poverty of his everyday life fndş its immed iate, phantastic com- pensation in the opium jf cultural commodities. ín the cultural spectacle he is allotted his habitual role^oî the dutiful disciple. Although he is close to the production-point, access to the Sanctuary of Thought is forbidden, and he is obliged to discover “modem culture” as an admiring spectator. Art is dead, but the student is necrophiliac. He peeks at the corpse in cine-clubs and theatres, buys its fsh-fngers from the cultural supermarket. Consuming unreservedly, he is in his element: he is the living proof of all the platitudes of Amercan market research: a conspicuous consumer, complete with induced irrational preference for Brand X (Camus, for example), and irrational prejudice against Brand Y (Sartre, perhaps). Impervious to real passions, he seeks titillation in the battles between his anaemic gods, the stars of a vacuous heaven: Althusser — Garaudy — Barthes — Picard — Lefebvre — Lévi-Strauss — Halliday — de ChardinBrassens .. ; and between their rival theologies, designed like all theologies to mask the real problems by creating false ones: humanism — existentialism — scientism — structuralism — cybemeticism — new crticism — dialectics-of-naturism — metaphilosophism ... He thinks he is avant-garde if he has seen the latest Godard or “participated” in the latest happening. He discovers “moderity” as fast as the market can produce its ersatz version of long outmoded (though once important) ideas; for him, every rehash is a cultural revolution. His principal concern is status, and he eagerly snaps up all the paperback editions of important and “difcult” texts with which mass culture has flled the bookstores». Unfortunately, he cannot read, so he devours them with his gaze, and enjoys them vicariously through the gaze of his frends. He is an other-directed voyeur. If he had an atom of self-respect or lucidity, he would knock them of. But no: con sp i cu ous i consumers always pay!

8 His favorite reading matter is the kitsch press, whose task it Is to orhestrate the consumption of culturl nothing-boxes. Docile as ever, the student accepts its commerial ukases and makes them the only measuring-rod of his tastes. Typically, he is a compulsive reader of weeklies like le Nouvel Observateur and ľ Express (whose nearest English equivalents are the posh Sundays and New Society), He generally feels that le Monde —whose style he fnds somewhat difcult—is a truly objective newspaper. And it is with such guides that he hopes to gain an understanding of the modem world and become a political initiate! In France more than anywhere else, the student is passively content to be politicised. In this sphere too, he readily accepts the same alienated, spectacular participation. Seizing upon all the tattered remnants of a Left which was annihila td more than forty years ago by “socialist” reformism and Stalinist counter-rvolution, he is once more guilty of an amazing ignorance. The Right is well aware of the defeat of the workers’ movement, and so are the workers them¬ selves. though more confusedly. But the students continue blithely to organise ^fmstratinns which mobilise student an y. This is political false consciousness in its virgin state, a fact which naturally makes the universities a happy hunting ground for the manipulators of the declining bureaucratic organis¬ ations. For them, it is child’s play to programme the student’s political options. Occasionally there are deviationary tendencies and cries of “Independence!” but after a period of token resistance the dissidents are reincorporated into a status quo wluch they have never really radically opposed . 1 The “Jeunesses Com¬ • munistes Révolutionnaires”, whose title is a case of ideological falsifcation gone mad (they are neither young, nor communist, nor revolutionary), have with much brio and accompanying publicity defed the iron hand of the Party ... but only to rally cheerily to the pontifcal battle-ciy, “Peace in Vietnam!” ТЪе student prides himself on his opposition to the “archaic” Gaullist régime. But he justifes his criticism by appealing—without realising it—to older and far worse crimes. His radicalism prolongs the life of the diferent currnts of edulcorated Stalinism: Togliatti’s, Garaudy’s, Krushchov’s, Mao’s, etc. His youth is synonymous with appalling naïveté, and his attitudes ar in rality f ar mor archaic than the régime 7 ?^— the G aullists d o after alT u nderstand moder n society weil enough to administer it. ~ e but me student, sad tp say, is not deterred by the odd anachronism. He feels obliged to have generl ideas on everything, to unearth a cohernt world-view capable of lending meaning to his need for activism and asexual promiscuity. As a rsult, he falls prey to the last doddering missionary eforts of the churches. He rushes with atavistic ardour to adore the putrescent carcass of God, and cherishes all the stinking detritus of prehistoric religions in the tender belief that they enrich him and his time. Along with their sexual rivals, those elderly provincial ladies, the students form the social category with the highest percentage of admitted adherents to these archaic cults. Everywhere else, the priests have been either beaten of or devoured, but university clerics shamelessly continue to bugger thousands of students in their spiritual shithouses. We must add in all fairness that there do exist studen ts of a tolerable the mediocre capacity demanded from the others They do so foFTfFšiinple intllectual le vel, whn without difculty domí the mntrnK HäsignerT tbcheck 1 Ftrf* “achinas** in both Christian and communist organisations have shown, if anything, that all diese students are united on one fundamental principle: unconditional submimioD to hierarchical s u pe or s . j 9 reami that they have understood thé system, and so despise it and know them¬ I selves to be its enemies. They are in the system for what they can get out of it— particularly grants. Exploiting the contradiction whTchTïor the momêntaTIèast, ensures tne maintenance of a small sector—“research”—still govered by a liberal- academic lather than a technocratic rationality, they calmly cany the germs of sedition to the highest level: their open contempt for the organisation is the ç funterpart of a lucidity whicIT enables them to outdo the system's lackeys, intellectually and otherwise. Ş uch students cannot tail to become theorists of the" coming revolutionary movement. For the moment, they make no secret of the fact that what they take so easily from the sysien] shall be u>ed for its overthrow. The student, if he rebels at all, must frst rebel against his studies, üiough the necessity of this initial move is felt less spontaneously by him than by the worker, who intuitively identifes his work with his total condition. At the same I time, since the student is a product of modem society just like Godard or Coca- Cola, his extreme alienation can only be fought through the struggle against this whole society. It is clear that the university can in no circumstances become thc^ 5 i battlefeld: the student, insofar as he defnes himself as such, manufactures a pseudo-value which must become an obstacle to any clear consciousness of the reality of his dispossession. The best criticism of student life is the behaviour of fie rest of youth, who have already st arted to revolt Thèir rbellion has become oneot the signs of a fresh struggle against modem society. · ; 1

It is not enough for thought to seek its realisation in practice: practice must seek its theory

I After years of slumber and permanent counter-revolution, there are signs ? of a new period of struggle, with youth as the new carriers of revolutionary in¬ fection. But the society of the spectacle paints its own picture of itself and its I enemies, imposes its own ideological categores on the world and its history. Fear г is the very last response. For everything that happens is reassurngly part of the natural order of things. Real historcal changes, which show that this society can be superseded, are reduced to the status of novelties, processed for mere con¬ sumption. The revolt of youth against an imposed and “given” wav of life is the : frst sign of a total subversion. It is tue prelude to a perod of revolt—the re voi Г of those Who can fö longer T/v? in our society. Faced with a danger, ideology and its daily machinery perform the usual inversion of reality. An historical process becomes a pseudo-category of some socio-natural science: the Idea of Youth. Youth is in revolt, but this is only the eternal revolt of youth; every generation espouses “good causes”, only to forget them when “the young man begins the serious business of production and is given concrete and real social aims”. After the social scientists come the journalists with their verbal infation. The revolt is contained bv over-exposure: we are given it to contemplate so that we- shall~ - forget to pa rticipateľ In the spectacle, a revolution becomes a social ablation— in other words a social safety valve—which has its part to play in the smooth working of the system. It reassures because^it remains a marginal phenomenon, in the apartheid of the temporary problems of a healthy pluralism (compare and contrast the “woman question” and the “problem of racialism”). In reality, if there is a problem of youth in modem capitalism it is part of the total crsis of that society. It is just that youth feels the crsis most acutely . 1 Youth and its mock freedoms are the purest products of modem society. Their moderity consists in the choice they áre ofered and are already making: total integration to neo-capitalism, or the most radical refusal. What is surprising is not that youth is in revolt but that its elders are so soporifc. But the reason is bis.ory, not biology—the previous generation lived through the defeats and were sold the lies of the long, shameful disintegratien of the revolutionary movement. 1 In itself Youth is a publicity myth, and as part of the new “social dynamism” it is the potential ally of the capitalist mode of production. The illusory prmacy of youth began with the economic recoveiy after the second world war. Capital ^ wa s, able to strike a new bargain with labour: in retur for the mass production gf a^new cla^ToLinan ipinable consumers, the woiker was ^ ffr^ a ro/g which gave him full membership of the spectacular society. This at least was the ideal Swial model, though as usual it bore litfe relation to socio-economic reality I Not only feels it but tres to give it expression. tl (which lagged behind the consumer ideology). 'Ine revolt of youth was the frst burst of anger at the persistent realities of the new wo rld-—t he bordom of every¬ day existence, the dead lije which Is still the essentialproduct o f modern capital- ~ Tsm, in spite of all its modernizations. A small section of youth is able to refuse that society and its products, buťwithbut any idea that this society can be super¬ seded. They opt for a nihilist present. Yet the destruction of capitalism is once again a real issue, an event in history, a process which has already begun. Dissi¬ dent youth must achieve the coherence of a critical theory, and the practical organisation of that coherence. At the most prmitive level, tihe “delinquents” (blousons noirs) of the world use violence to express their rejection of society and its sterile options. But their refusal is an abstract one: it gives them no chance of actually escaping the contra¬ dictions of the system. They are its products—negative, spontaneous, but none the less exploitable. All the experiments of the new social order produce them: they are the frst side-efects of the new urbanism; of the disintegration of all values; of the extension of an increasingly borng consumer leisure; of the grow¬ ing control of every aspect of everyday life by the psycho-humanist police force; and of the economic survival of a family unit which has lost all signifcance. The “young thug” despises work but accepts the goods. He wants what the spectacle ofers him—but wow, with no down payment. This is the essentia] contradiction of the delinquent’s existence. He may try for a real freedom in the use of his time, in an individual assertiveness, even in the construction of a kind of community. But the contradition remains, and kills. (On the fringe of society, where poverty reigns.^ the gang develops its own hierarchy, which can only fulfl itself in a war with other gangs, isolating each group and each individual within the group.) In the end the contradiction proves unbearable. Either the lure' of the product world proves too strong, and the hooligan decides to do his honest day’s work: to this end a whole sector of production is devoted specifcally to his recuperation. Clothes, discs, guitars, scooters, transistors, purple hearts beckon him to the land of the consumer. Or else he is forced to attack the laws of the market itself—either in the primary sense, by stealing, or by a move towards a conscious revolutionary critique of commodity society. For the delinquent only two futures are possible; revolutionary consciousness, or blind obedience on the shop foor. The Provos are the frst organisation of delinquency—-they have given the delinquent experence its frst political form. They are an alliance of two distinct elements: a handful of careersts from the degenerate world of “art”, and a mass of beatniks looking for a new activity. The artists contributed the idea of the game, though still dressed up in various threadbare ideological garments. The delinquents had nothing to ofer but the violence of their rebellion. From the start the two tendencies hardly mixed: the pre-ideological mass found itself under the Bolshevik “guidance” of the artistic ruling class, who justifed ard maintained their power by an ideology of provo-democracy. At the moment when the sheer violence of the delinquent had become an idea —an attempt to destroy art and go beyond it—the violence was channeled into the crassest neo-artistic reformism. The Provos are an aspect of the last reformism produced by modern capitalism: the reformism of everyday life. Like Bernstein, with his vision of socialism bu ilt by tinkering with capitalism, the Provo hicr- jjfcfv"think they ca n change evervefav life bv a few well-chosen improvements. What they iail to rcahse is tHat the banality of everyday lif is not incid ental. 'ЪШГ the central mechanism and produ ct of modern capitalism^ To destroy it, notnmg less'is néedeü thár all-out revolution. The Wovos choose the fragmentary and end by accepting the totality. To give themselves a base, the leaders have concocted the paltry ideology of the provotariat (a politico-artistic salad knocked up from the leftovers of a feast they had never known). The new provotariat is supposed to oppose the passive and “bourgeois” proletariat, still worshipped in obscure Leftist shnscs.

12 Because they despair of the fght for a total change in society, they despair of the only forces which can brng about that change. The proletariat is the motor of capitalist society, and thus its mortal enemy: everything is designed for “ (partiVg; traHp union bureaucracies; Ше police; the colonization itssjjpp rPQCinn oräl faspects of everyday life ) because it is the only really m enacing fdfcerTRc rrovos nardly try to understand any of this; and withouťli crtique""of the system of production, they remain its servants. In the end an anti-union workers demonstration sparked of the real confict. The Provo base went back to direct violence, leaving their bewildered leaders to denounce “excesses” and appeal to pacifst sentiments. The Provos, who had talked of provoking authority to reveal its repressive character, fnished by complaining that they had been provoked by the police. So much for their pallid anarchism. It is true that the Provo base became revolutionary in practice. But to invent a revolutionary consciousness their frst task is to destroy their leaders, to rally the objective revolutionary forces of the proletariat, and to drop the Constants and De Vres of this world (one the favourite artist of the Dutch royal family, the other a failed M.P. and adnv.rer of the English police). There is a modem revolution, and one of its baves could be the Provos —but only without their leaders and ideology. If they want to change the world, they must get rid of those who are content to paint it white. Idle reader, your cry of “'^hat about Berkeley?” escapes uş not. True Amercan society needs its students; and by revolting against their studies they have automatically called that society in question. From the start they have seen their revolt against the university hierarchy as a revolt against the whole hierarchical system, the dictatorship of the economy and the State. Their refusal to become an integrated part of the commodity economy, to put their specialized studies to their obvious and inevitable use, is a revolutionary gesture. It puts in doubt that whole system of production which alienates activity and its products from their creators. For all its confusion and hesitancy, the Amercan student movement has discovered one truth of the new refusal: that a coherent revolutionary alterative can and must be found within the “afluent society”. The movement is still fxated on two relatively accidental aspects of the Amercan crsis—the negroes and Vietnam—and the mini-groups of the New Left sufer from the fact. There is an authentic whif of democracy in their chaotic organi¬ sation, but what they lack is a genuine subversive coment. Without it they contin¬ ually fall into dangerous contradictions. They may be hostile to the traditional politics of the old parties; hut the hostility is futile, and will be recuperated, so long as it is based on ignorance of the political system and naive illusions about the world situation. Abstract opposition to their own society produces facile sympathy with its apparent enemies—the so-called Socialist bureaucracies of China and Cuba. A group like Resurgence Youth Movement can in the same breath condemn the State and praise the “Cultural Revolution”—that pseudo- revolt directed by the most elphantine bureaucacy of modern times. At the same time, these organisations, with their blend of libertarian, political and religious tendencies, are always liable to the obsession with “group dynamics” which leads to the closed world of the sect. The mass consumption_of drugs _ i s the expr ess ion of a re al poverty and a pro test ag ainst it; But it remains a,Ialse s earchJor ”free dom” within a wor lcT dedlči fted to repreSgtbn, a religious e ntique . oía world thiF TTâs no néžd for religion. leasFofalTa new one. The Beatniks—that rght wing of the youtn revolt—are the mam purveyors 6Tan ideological “refusal” combined with an acceptance of the most fantastic superstitions (Zen, spirtualism, “New Church” mysticism, and the stale porridge of Ghandi-ism and humanism). Worse still, in their search for a revoltionary programme the Amercan students fall into the same bad faith as the Provos, and proclaim themselves “the most exploited class in our society”. They must understand one thing: there are no “special” student interests in revolution. Revolution will be made by ail the victims oi encroaching repression and the tyranny of the market. 13 As for the East, bureaucratic totalitarianism is beginning to produce its own forces of negation. Nowhere is the revolt of youth more violent and more savagely repressed—the rising tide of press denunciation and the new police measures against “hooliganism” are proof enough. A section of youth, so me right-minded “socialist” functionaries tell us, have no respect for moral and family order (which still fourishes there in its most detestable bourgeois forms). They prefer “debauchery”, despise work and even disobey the party police. The USSR has set up a special ministry to fght the new delinquency. Alongside this diffuse revolt a more specifc opposition is emerging. Groups î> J and clandestine reviews rise and fall with the barometer of police repression. So far the most important has been the publication of the “Open letter to the Polish 7 w Workers Party” by the young Poles Kuron and Modzelewski, which afrmed the necessity of “abolishing the present system of production and social relations” and that to do this “revolution is unavoidable”. The Eastern intellectuals have one great task —to make conscious the concrete critical action of the workers of East Berlin, Warsaw and Budapest: the proletaran crtique of the dictatorship of the bureaucracy. In the East the problem is not to defne the aims of i evolution, but to leant how to fght for them. In the West struggle may be easy, but the goals are left obscure or ideological; in the Eastern bureaucracies there are no illusions about what is being fought for: hence the bittemess of the struggle. What is difcult is to devise the forms revolution must take in the immediate future. In Brtain, the revolt of youth found its frst expression in the peace move¬ ment. It was never a whole-hearted struggle, with the misty non-violence of the Committee of 100 as its most daring programme. At its strongest the Com¬ mittee could call 300,000 demonstrators on to the streets. It had its fnest hour in Sprng 1963 with the “Spies for Peace” scandal. But it had already entered on a defnitive decline: for want of a theory the unilateralists fell among the traditional Left or were recuperated by the Pacifst conscience. What is left is the endurng (quintessentially English) archaisms in the control of everyday life, and the accelerating decomposition of the old secular values. These could still produce a total crtique of the new life; but the revolt of youth needs allies. The Brtish working class remains one of the most militant in the world. Its struggles— the shop stewards movement and the growing tempo and bitterness of wildcat strikes—will be a permanent sore on an equally permanent capitalism until it regains its revolutionär)' perspective, and seeks common cause with the new opposition. The débâcle of Labourism makes that alliance all the more possible and all the more necessary. If it came about, the explosion could destroy the old society—the Amsterdam rots would be child’s play in comparison. Without it, both sides of the revolution can only be stillborn: practical needs will fnd no genuine revolutionary form, and rebellious discharge will ignore the only forces that drve and can therefore destroy modem capitalism. Japan is the only industralised country where this fusion of student youth and working class militants has already taken place. Zengakuren, the organisation of revolutionary students, and the League P of Young Marxist Workers joined to form the backbone of the Communist Revolutionary League l . The movement is already setting and solving the new > problems of revolutionary organisation. Without illusions, it fghts both western capitalism and the bureaucracies of the so-called socialist states. Without hier¬ archies, it groups together several thousand students and workers on a democratic basis, and aims at the participation of every member in all the activities of the organisation. They are the frst to carry the struggle on to the streets, holding fast to a real revolutionary programme, and with a mass participation. Thousands of workers I KAIHOSHA c/o Dairyuso, 3 Nakanoekimae, Nakanoku, TOKYO, JAPAN, ZENGAKUREN Hirota Budding 2-10 Kandaiimbo cho. Chiyoda-Ku, TOKYO. JAPAN.

14 and students have waged a violent struggle with the Japanese police. In many ways the C.R.L. lacks a complete and concrete theory of the two systems it fghts with such ferocity. It has not yet defned the precise nature of bureaucratic exploitation, and it has hardly formulated the character of modem capitalism, the critique of everyday life and the critique of the spectacle. The Communist Revolutionary League is still fundamentally an avant-garde political organisation, the heir of the best features of the classic proletarian movement. But it is at present the most important group in the world—and should henceforth be one of the poles of discussion and a rallying point for the new proletarian critique. ^ * \5

To create at long last a situation which goes beyond the point of no return

“To be avant-garde means to keep abreast of reality” {Internationale Situa¬ tionniste 8). A radical critique of the modern world must have the totality as its object and objective. Its searchlight .must reveal the world’s real past, its present existence and the prospects for its transformation as an indivisible whole. If we are to reach the whole truth about the modem world—and a fortiori if we are to formulate the project of its total subversion—we must be able to expose its hidden history; in concrete terms this means subjecting the history of the inter¬ national revolutionary movement, as set in motion over a century ago by the wester proletariat, to a demystifed and crtical scrutiny. “ This movement- against the total organisation of the old world came to a stop long ago” {I nter¬ nationale Situationniste 7). It jailed, its last historical appearance waiTîïi the Spanish social revolution, crushed in the Barcelona “May Days” of 1937. Yet its so-called “victores” and “defeats”, if judged in the light of their historcal consequences, tend to confrm Liebknecht’s remark, the day before his assassina¬ tion, that “some defeats are really victories, while some victores are more shame¬ ful than any defeat”. Thus the frst great “failure” of workers’ power, the Pars Commune, is in fact its frst great success, whereby the primitive proletarat— "p roclaimed its h i storical capacity to organise ¿11 aspects of social nte freely. And the Bolshevik revolution, hailed as the proletariat's frst great umph, turs o ut in the last analysis to b e its most disastrous defeat. “ “ ’ The installation of the boisnevik order coincides with the crushing of the Spartakists by the German “Social-Democrats”, The joint victory of Bolshevism and reformism constitutes a unity masked by an apparent incompatibility, for the Bolshevik order too, as it transpired, was to be a variation on the old theme. The tbf Rnggtnn were, internally, the institution and л Hfwlnpppntünf я~лрл у mode of exploitation, bureaucratic state capitalism, and eYtfmally, ţh<*. growth of the “Communist 7 international, whose spreading brancnes served the unique purpose of defending and reproducing the rotten trunk. Capitalism, under its bourgeois and bureaucratic guises, won a new lease oTlife—over the dead bodies of the sailors of Kronstadt, the Ukrainian peasants, and the workers of Berlin, Kiel, Turn, Shanghai, and Barcelona. The third International, apparently created by the Bolsheviks to combat the degenerate reformism of its~predecessor, and to unite the avant-garde of the proletarat in “revolutionary communist parties”, was too c losely lin ked to the interests of its founders ever to serve an authentic socialist revolution. Despite ail its~polemics, the third IntematiöfáT’wa^ ä Chîpuff lhe 'örd'ÎTöck The Russian model was rapidly imposed on the Western workers* organisations, and the evolution of both was thenceforward one and the same thing. The totalitaran dictatorship of the bureaucratic class over the Russian proletariat found its echo

16 in the subjection of the great mass of workers in other countries to castes of trade union and political functionaries, with their own prvate interests in re¬ pression. While the Stalinist monster haunted the working-class consciousness, old-fashioned capitalism was becoming bureaucratized and overdeveloped, re¬ solving its famous internal contradictions and proudly claiming this victory to be 1 decisive. Today, though the unity is obscured by appar ent variations я mi opposi tions, a singhTsocial form is coming to dominate the world—thi s modem world winch it proposes to govern with the prľfcÍplH^f Tworld long dead and ? gone. The tradition of the dead generations still weighs like a nightmare on the I minds of the living. * Opposition to the world ofered from within—and in its own terms—by supposedly revolutionary organisations, can only be spurous. Such opposition, depending on the worst mystifcations and calling on more or less reifed ideolo¬ gies, helps consolidate the social order. Trade unions and political par tiesxreated b y the working class as t ools of its^efanclpatiof ^re, npw no more than the “checks апА15Щрс с8” of the sy stgnu Their leaders have made these organisations tEeîrţfîVate” propertyTtheir stepping stone to a role within the ruling class. The party programme or the trade union statute may contain vestiges of revolutionary phraseology, but their practice is everywhere reformist—and doubly so now that ofcial capitalist ideology mouths the same reformist slogans. Where the unions have seized power—in countries more backward than Russia in 1917— the Stalinist model of counter-revolutionary totalitaranism has been faithfully reproduced. 1 Elsewhere, they have become a static complement to the self¬ regulation of managerial capitalism . 2 The ofcial organisations have become the best guarantee of repression—without this “opposition” the humanist- democratic facade of the system would collapse and its essential violence would be laid bare. In the s truggi * with the militant p roletarat, th ese organisations are t he unfai ling de fenders of the bureaucratic cou nt er-revolution, and the dooie creatureTof Its foreign policy. They are the Beãférsof the most blatant falsehood in a world of lies, working diligently for the perennial and universal dictatorship of the State and the Economy. As the situationists put it, “ a universally dominant social s ystem, ten ding toward totalita ran self-regu lation, isapparentlv be ing resisted—but only "apparently —by_ false forms of ор гю8Пюп~ which rema in trapped on the bat tlenrld ordained bv the systemTtscI f. Such illus ory resistance qm only serve to rn^ rgcl what it prSendR to attack . Bureaucratic pseudo^ socialism is only the mostgrandiosc of these guises of the old world of hierarchy and alienated labour”. As for student unionism, it is nothing but the travesty of a travesty, the useless burlesque of a trade unionism itself long totally degenerate. The principal platitude of all future revolutionary organisation must be the theoretical and practcal denunciaton of Stalinism in all its forms. In France at least, where economic backwardness has stwed down the consciousness of crisis, the only possible road is over the ruins of Stalinism. It must become the deknda est Carthago of the last revolution of prehistory. Revolution must break with its past, and derve all its poetry from the futur. Little groups of “militants” who daim to reprsent the authentc Bolshevik hertage are voices from beyond the grave. These angels come to avenge the “betrayal’* of the October Revoluton will always support the defence of the USSR—if only “in the last instance”. The “under-developed” natons are their promised land. They can scarcely sustain their illusions outside this context. These countres have been industralised on classic lines: prmitive accumulation at dm I expense of the peasantry, accelerated by bureaucratic terror. 2 Fór 45 yean the French “Communist” Party has not taken a single step towards the con¬ quest of power. The same situation applies in all advanced nations which have not fallen under the heel of the so-called Red Army. 17 where their objective role is to buttress theoretical underdevelopment. They struggle for the dead body of “Trotsky”, invent a thousand variations on the same ideological theme, and end up with the same brand of practical and theoretical impotence. Forty years of counter-revolution separate these groups from the Revolution; since this iS not 1920 they can only be wrong (and they were already wrong in 1920). Consider the fate of an ultra-Leftist group like Socialisme ou Barbare, where afer the departure of a “traditional Marxist” faction (the impotent Pouvoir Ouvrier) a core of revolutionary “modernists” under Cardan disintegrated and disappeared within 18 months. While the old categories are no longer revolu¬ tionary, a rejection of Marxism à la Cardan is no substitute for the reinvention of a total critique. The Scylla and Chaiybdis of present revolutionary ar ti™» are the museum of revolutjpp a ry preh istory and the m odernism o f the L~* itself As for the various anarchist groups, they possess nothing beyond a pathetc and ideological faith in this label. They justify every kind of self-contradicton in liberal terms: freedom of speech, of> opinion, and other such bric-a-brac. Since they tolerate each other, they would tolerate anything. The predominant social system, which fatters itself on its modernisation and its permanence, must now be confronted with a worthy enemy: the equally modern negatve forces which it produces. Let the dead bury their dead. The advance of history has a practical demystifying efect—it helps exorcise the ghosts which haunt the revolutonary consciousness. Thus the revolution of everyday life comes face to face with the enormity of its task. The revolutonary project must be reinvented, as much as the life it announces. If the project is still essentia lly the abolition of doss society, it is because the mat erial cono itions ~~ upon which revolution wáS baSécPáirê still with us. But revoluton must be conceiv ed witn a new coherence and a new radicalism starting witn a clear graso ot tue tamir ot mose wno Jirst beganji . Otherwise its fragmenta ry ж гм m i π oí iTtfSMVi «т*ш «TT ralisaton will bring about only a new division of society.. The fght between the powers-that-be and the new proletarat can only be in terms of the totality. And for this reason the future revolutonary movement . must be purged of any tendency to reproduce within itself the alienaton pro¬ duced bv the commodity system 1 ; it must be the living crtique of that system ^pd the negation of it, carrying ail tue elements essential for its transcendence. As Lukacs correctly showed, revolutonary organisation is this necessary mediation between theory and practice, between man and history, between the mass of workers and the proletariat constituted as a doss (Lukacs* mistake was to believe that the Bolsheviks fulflled this role). If they are to be realised in practice “theoretical” tendencies or diferences must be translated into organi¬ sational problems. It is by its present organisation that a new revolutionary movement will stand or fall. The fnal criteron of its coherence will be the _ gnmp ftihilitv of its actual form with ns essential priect —the international md Insolute poner Μ War/ rri 9 n*"»'*·*· bvnfFprlctarML rvolutions rrr.pjľKi oLThe last hundred years. There can be no compromise with the foundations of ousting society—the system of commodity production; ideology in all its guises; the State; and the imposed division of labour from leisure. The rock on which the old revolutionary movement foundered was the separation of theory and practice. Only at the supreme moments of struggle did the proletariat supersede this division and attain their truth. As a rule the principle seems to have been Me Rhodos, hie non séta. Ijtotgy^ howev» ^ “rvolutionary”, always serves the,ruling class; false consciousness is ür alar» 1· Whose defning characterstic is the dominance of work qua commo di ty· Cf. in Bnøhh our pamphlet “The Dedine and Fall of the Spectacular Commodity-Economy”

18 signal revealing the presence of the enemy ffth column. The lie is the essential , product of the wo rld of alienation, and the most efectiveTüTU cr ofjrevqhitionsT J)nce an organisation which claims the socfdlruth adopts the lie as ¥ lacfcľ lt¿ "revolutionary career is ímishcdľ ' ~ ' All the positive aspects ot the Workers’ Councils must be already there in an organisation which aims at their realisation. All relics of the Leninist theory of organisation must be fought and destroyed. The spontaneous creation of Soviets by the Russian workers in 1905 was in itself a practical critique of that baneful theory, 1 yet the Bolsheviks continued to claim that working-class spontaneity could not go beyond “trade union consciousness” and would be unable to grasp the “totality”. This was no less than a decapitation of the proletarat so that the Party could place itself “at the head” of the Revolution. If once you dispute the proletarat’s capacity to emancipate itself, as Lenin did so ruthlessly, then you deny its capacity to organise all aspects of a post-revolutionary society. In such a context, the slogan “All Power to the Soviets” meant nothing more than the subjection of the Soviets to the Party, and the installation of the Party State in place of the temporary “State” of the armed masses. “All Power to the Soviets” is still the slogan, but this time without the Bolshevik afterthoughts. The proletarat can only play the game of revolution if the stakes are the whole world, for the only possible form of workers’ power- generalized and complete autogestion—can be shared with nobody. Workers’ control is the abolition of all authorty : it can abide no limitation, geographical or otherwise: any compromise amounts to surrender. “Workers’ control must be the means and the end of the struggle: it is at once the goal or that struggle and its adequate form” . 2 A total crtique of the world is the guarantee of the realism and reality of a revolutionary organisation. To tolerate the existence of an oppresive social system in one place or another, simply because it is packaged and sold as revolutionary, is to condone universal oppression. To accept alienation as inevitable in-any one domain of social life is to resign oneself to reifcation in all its forms. It is not enough to favour Workers’ Councils in the abstract; in concrete terms they mean the abolition of commodities and therefore of the proletariat. Despite their superfcial disparities, all existing societies are governed by the logic of commodities—and the commodity is the basis of their dreams of self-regulation. This famous fetichism 1 is still the essential obstacle to a total emancipation, to the free construction of social life. In the world of com¬ modities, external and invisible forces direct men':, actions; autonomous action directed towards clearly perceived goals is impossible. The strength of economic laws lies in their ability to take on the appearance of natural ones, but it it also their weakness, for their efectiveness thus depends only on “the lack of con¬ sciousness of those who help create them”. The market has one central prnciple—the loss of self in the aimless and unconscious creation of a world beyond the control of its creators. The re¬ volutionary core of autogestion is the attack on this prnciple. Autogestion is conscious direction by all of their whole existence. It is not some vision of a workers’ control of the market, which is merely to choose one’s own alienation, to programme one’s own survival (squaring the capitalist circle). The task of the Workers’ Councils will not be the autogestion of the world which exists, but its continual qualitive transformation. The commodity and its laws (that vast detour in the history of man’s production of himself) will be superseded by a new social form. With autogestion ends one of the fundamental splits in modem societ— between a labour which becomes increasingly reifed and a “leisure” consumed I Compare the theoretical critique of Rosa Luxemburg. 2 “Les Luttes de Classes en Algére”, in Internationale Situationniste 10.

19 in passivity. The death of the commodity naturally meant the аврргвоа ot work and its replacement by a new type of free activity. Without this frm intention, socialist groups like Socialisme ou Barbane or Pouvoir Ouvrier fell hack on a reformism of labour couched in demands for its “humanization”. But h is work itself which must be called in question. Far fom being an “Utopia”, its suppression is the frst condition for a break with the market. The everyday division between “fee time” and “working hours”, those complementary sectors of alienated life is an expression of the internal contradiction between the use- value and exchange-value of the commodity. It has become the strongest point of the commodity ideology, the one contradiction which intensifes with the rise of the consumer. To destroy it, no strategy short of the abolition of work will do. It is only beyond the contradiction of use-value and exchange-value that history begins, that men make their activity an object of their will and their consciousness, and see themselves in the world they have created. The democracy of Workers* Councils is the resolution of all previous contradictions. It makes “everything which exists apart from individuals impossible*’. What is the revolutionary project? The conscious domination of history by the men who make it. Modem history, like all past history, is the product of social praxis, the unconscious result of human action. In the epoch of total¬ itarian control, capitalism has produced its own religion: the spectacle. In the spectacle, ideology becomes fesh of our fesh, is realised here on earth. The world itself walks upside down. And like the “crtique of religion” in Marx’s day, the critique of the spectacle is now the essential precondition of any crtique. The problem of revolution is once again a concrete issue. On one side the grandiose structures of technology and materal production; on the other a dissatisfaction which can only grow more profound. The bourgeoisie and its Easter heirs, the bureaucracy, cannot devise the means to use their own over¬ development, which will be the basis of the poetry of the future, simply because they both depend on the preservation of the old order. At most they harness over-development to invent new repressions. For they know only one trck, the accumulation of Capital and hence of the proletariat —a proletaran being a man with no power over the use of his life, and who knows it. The new proletariat inherits die riches of the bourgeois world and this gives it its historical chance. Its task is to transform and destroy these riches, to contitute them as part of a human project: the total appropriation of nature and of human nature by man. A realised human nature can only mean the infnite multiplication of real desires and their gratifcation. These real desires are the underlife of present society, crammed by the spectacle into the darkest corners of the revolutionary unconscious, realised by the spectacle only in the dreamlike delirium of its own publicity. We must destroy the spectacle itself, the whole apparatus of com¬ modity society, if we are to realise human needs. We must abolish those pseudo¬ needs and false desires which the system manufactures daily in order to preserve its power. The liberation of modern history, and the free use of its hoarded acquisitions, can come only from the forces it represses. In the nineteenth century the pro¬ letariat was already the inhertor of philosophy; now it inherts modem art and the frst conscious critique of everyday life. With the self-destruction of the working class art and philosophy shall be realised. To transform the world and to change the structure of life are one and the same thing for the proletariat— they are the passwords to its destruction as a class, its dissolution of the present reign of necessity, and its accession to the realm of libert. As its maximum programme it has the radical crtique and free reconstruction of all the values and patterns of behaviour imposed by an alienated reality. The only poetry it can acknowledge is the creativit released in the making of history, the fee I Virginibus puerisque cantamus.

20 inventon of each moment and each event: Lautréamonťs poésie faite par tous— the beginning of the revolutionary celebration. For proletarian revolt is a festival or it is nothing; in revolution the road of excess leads once and for all to the palace of wisdom. A palace which knows only one ratonality: the game. The rules are simple: to live instead of devising a lingering death, and to indulge untrammelled desire.


Postscript: If you make a social revolution, do it for fun

If the above text needed confrmation, it was amply provided by the reactions to its publication. In Strasbourg itself, a very respectable and somewhat olde- worlde city, the traditional refex of outraged horror was still accessible—witness Judge Llabador’s naive admission that our ideas are subversive (see our intro¬ duction). At this level too, the press seized on the passing encouragements to stealing ijand hedonism (interpreted, inevitably, in a narrow erotic sense). The union cellars had become the most infamous dive in Strasbourg. The offcers had been turned into a pigsty, with students daubing on the walls and relieving them¬ selves in the corridors. They had come with infatable mattresses to sleep on the premises “with women and children”! Minors had been perverted . . . The amoral popular press was of course at wit’s end to fnd adequate labels: the Provos, the Beatniks, and a “weird group of anarchists” were varously reported to have seized power in the city. Under the direction of situationist beatniks, the University restaurant was in the red, and the union’s Morsiglia holiday camp had been used free, gratis and for nothing by these gentlemen. Some tred their hand at analysis, but only communicated the stunned incomprehension of a man suddenly ca’ ght in quicksands: “The San Francisco and London beatniks, the mods and rockers of the English beaches, the hooligans behind the Iron Curtain, all have been largely superseded by this wave of new- style nihilism. Today it is no longer a matter of outrageous hair гик clothes, of dancing hystercally to induce a state of ecstasy, no lontt > iven a matter of enterng the artifcial paradise of drugs. From now on. the international of young people who are ‘against if is no longe. isfed with provoking society, but intent on destroying it—on destroying the very foundations of a society *made for the old and rich* and acceding to a state of d с л от without any kind of restriction whatsoever’ ”. It was the Rector of the University who led the chorus yf modernist re¬ pression: “These students have insulted their professors.’’ he declared. They should be dealt with by psychiatrists. I don’t want to take any legal тез ures against them—they should be in a lunatic' asylum. As to their incitcmcn to illegal acts, the Minister of the Interior is looking into that’’. (“I stand for freedom,” he added.) Later, besieged by the press, he reiterated that "Wc need sociologists and psychologists to explain such phenomena to us”. An Italian journalist replied that some of his most brilliant social-science students were in fact responsible for the whole affair. The situation.sts had an ever better reply to such appeals to the psychiatrc cops: through the agency of the student mutual them”: the Bishop of Strasbourg, while attacking nr Brethren ot the tree spir i · They believe that all th.ngs are common, whence

22 organisaton, they ofcially closed the local student psychiatric clinic. It is to be hoped that one day such institutions will be physically destroyed rather than tolerated, but in the meantime this “administrative** decision has such an exemplary value that it is worth quoting: The administrative committee of the Strasbourg section of the Mutuelle' Nationale des Etudiants de France .... considering that the University Psychological Aid Bureaux (BAPU) represent the introduction of a para-police control of students, in the form of a repressive psychiatry whose clear function everywhere—somewhere between outright judicial oppression and the degrading lies of the mass spectacle—is to help maintain the apathy of all the exploited victims of modem capitalism; considering that this type of moderist repression . . . was evoked as soon as the Committee of the General Federal Association of the Strasbourg Students made known its adhesion to situationist theses by publishing the pamphlet “Of Student Poverty and that Rector Bayen was quite ready to denounce those responsible to the press as “fit cases for the psychiatrists**; considering that the existence of a BAPU is a scandal and a menace to all those students of the University who are determined to think for themselves, hereby decides that from the twelfth of January. 1967, the BAPU of Strasbourg shall be closed down. Another development which must have been predictable to any studious reader of the pamphlet was the attempt to explain away the Strasbourg afair in terms of a “crsis in the universities’*. Le Monde, the most “serous** French paper, and a platform for technocratic liberalism, kept its head while all around were losing theirs. After a long silence to get its breath back, it published an article which shackled situationist activity in Alsace to the “present student malaise*’ (another symptom : fascist violence in Pars University), for which the only cure is to give “real responsibility’* to the students (read: let them direct their own alienation). This type of reasoning refuses a priori to see the obvious that so-called student malaise is a symptom of a far more general disease. Much was made of the unrepresentative character of the union committee, although it had been quite legally elected. It is quite true, however, that our frends got power thanks to the apathy of the vast majorty. The action had no mass base whatsoever. What it achieved was to expose the emptiness of student politics and indicate the minimum requirements for any conceivable movement of revolutonary students. At the general assembly of the National Union of French Students in January, the Strasbourg group proposed a detailed motion calling for the dissoluton of the organisation, and obtained the implicit support of a large number of honest but confused delegates, disgusted by the corridor politics and phoney revolutionary pretensions of the union. Such disgust, though perhaps a beginning, is not enough: a revolutionary consciousness among students would be tie very opposite of student consciousness. Until students realise that their interests coincide with those of all who are exploited by modem capitalism, there is little or nothing to be hoped for from the universities. Meanwhile, the exemplary gestures of avant-garde minorities are the only form of radical activity available. This holds good net only in the universites but almost everywhere. In the absence of a widespread revolutionary consciousness, a quasi-terrorstic denunciation of the ofcial world is the only possible planned public action on the part of a revolutionary group. The importance of Strasbourg lies in this: if ofers one possible model of sudi acton. A situation was created in which sodety was frced to fnance, publicise and broadcast a revolutionary critique of itself, and furthermore to confrm this critique through its reactons to it It was essentially a lesson in turning the tables on contemporary sodety. The ofcial world was played with by a group that understood its nature better than tie П ofcial world itself. Tbe exploiters were elegantly exploited. But despite the virtuosity of the operaton, it should be seen as no more than an inital and, in view of what is to come, very modest attempt to create the praxis by which the crisis of this society as a whole can be precipitated; as such, it raises far wider problems of revolutionary organisaton and tactcs. As the mysterious M.K. remarked to a jouralist, Strasbourg itself was no more than “a little experment’’. The concept of “subversion” {détournement), originally used by the situ· ationists in a purely cultural context, can well be used to describe tie type of activity at present available to us on many fronts. An early defniton: “the redeployment of pre-existing artistic elements within a new ensemble . . . Its two basic principles are the loss of importance of each originally independent element (which may even lose its frst sense completely), and the organisation of a new signifcant whole which confers a fresh meaning on each element” (cf. Internationale Situationniste 3, pp. 10-11). The historical signifcance of this technique or game derives from its ability to both devalue and “reinvest” the heritage of a dead cultural past, so that “subversion negates the value of previous forms of expression ... but at the same time expresses the search for a broader form, at a higher level—for a new creative currency”. Subversion counters the manoeuvre of modem society, which seeks to recuperate and fossilize the relics of past creativity within its spectacle. It is clear that this struggle on the cultural terrain is no diferent in structure from the more general revolutionary struggle;, subversion can therefore also be conceived as the creation of a new use value for politcal and social débris: a student union, for example, recuperated long ago and tured into a paltry agency of repression, can become a beacon of sediton and revolt. Subversion is a form of action transcending the separation between art and politcs: it is the art of revolution. Strasbourg marks the beginning of a new period of situatonist activity. The social position of situationist thought has been determined up to now by the following contradiction: the most highly developed critque of modem life has been made in one of the least highly developed modem countries—in a country which has not yet reached the point where the complete disintegration of all values becomes patently obvious and engenders the corresponding frces of radical rejection. In the French context, situationist theory has anticipated the social forces by which it will be realised. In the more highly developed countries, the opposite has happened: the forces of revolt exist, but without a revolutionary perspectve. The Committee of 100 or the Berkeley rebellion of 1964, for example, were spontaneous mass movements which collapsed because they proved incapable of grasping more than the incidental aspects of alienaton (the Bomb, Free Speech . . . ), because they > failed to understand that these were merely specifc manifestations of everyone’s exclusion from the whole of his experience, on every level of individui and social Ufe. Without a critique of this fundamental aUenaton, these movements could never articulate the real dissatisfaction which created them—dissatisfacton with the nature of eveiyday life—while as speciaUsed “causes” they could only become integrated or dissolve. As a shrewd Italian jouralist wrote in LEuropeo, situatonist theory is the “missing Unk” in the development of the new forces of revolt—the revolutionary perspective of total transformation still absent from the immense discontent of contemporary youth, as from the industral struggle which continues in all its violence at shop-foor level. The time will come— and our job is to hasten it—when these two currents join forces. Louise Crowley has indicated the reactionary role to which the old workers’ movement is now doomed: the maintenance of work made potentially unnecessary by the progress of automation. t Whatever Solidarity may think , 2 outright opposition to 1 “Beyond Automation”, Monthly Review, November, 1964 (reprnted in Аптеку 49, March, 1965). Crowley’s remarks on the “new lumpenproletariat” are of partcular interest. 2 Cf. their self-criticism, in Solidarity voi. 4, number 5, p. 5.

I 24 forced labour is going to become a rallying-point of revolutionary activity in the most advanced areas of the world. Already, in the highly industrialised countries, the decomposition of modern * society is becoming obvious at a mass leveL 3 All previous ideological explanations of the world have collapsed, and left the misery and chaos of everyday life without any coherent dissimulation at all. Politics, morality and culture are all Ì! VW in ruins—and have now reached the point of being marketed as such, as their own parody, the spectacle of decadence being the last desperate attempt to stabilise the decadence of the spectacle. Less and less masks the reduction of the whole of life to the production and consumption of commodities; less and less masks the relationship between the isolation, emptiness and anguish of everyday life and this dictatorship of the commodity; less and less masks the increasing waste of the forces of production, and the richness of lived experience now possible if these forces were only used to fulfil human desires instead of to repress them. If England is the temporary capital of the spectacular world, it is because no other country could take its demoralization so seriously. The island, having recovered from its ft of satirical giggles, has fipped out. The consumption of hysteria has become a prnciple of social production, but one where the real banality of the goods keeps breaking the surface, and letting loose a necessary violence—the violence of a man who has been given everything, but fnds that every thing is phoney. Fashion accelerates because revolution is treading on its tail. With the end of the frst phase of pop, the spectacle is beginning to pitch its convulsive tent in the theatre and the art gallery. Degenerate bourgeois entertainment is dying of self-consciousness and impotent dislike of its audience: rather than mount improvised “political” tear-jerkers, it should leam to destroy itself. Now is the time for a Chrstopher Fry revival. ; Fake culture, fake politics. If < r· * ss over student unionism in Anglo- Amerca, it is out of simple contempt. There is a sharpening of the pseudo- struggle (Reagan versus the Regenta, LSt versus Addams). but its only interest is in guessing which side ir dnanced by the CIA. The trumph of Wilsonism is more important, since its harsh mediocrty reveals the logic of modem capitalism: the stronger the Laboif· Movement, with its bone-hard hierarchies and its school¬ teacher notions of technoL^y and social justice, the greater the guarantee of total repression. The militant proletarat, whose opposition to the capitalist system is unabated, will remain revolutionary chickenfeed till the myth of the Labour Movement has been fnally laid. With the decline of the spectacular antagonisms (Tory/Labour, East/West, High Culture/Low Culture), the ofcial Left is looking round for new mock battles to fght. It has always had a masochistic urge to embrace the tough- minded alternative. The orthodox “communist” party owed its popularity among the lumpenintefgentsia to an assertion that it was too practical to have time for theory—a claim amply confrmed by its own blend of faccid intellectual nullity and permanent politcal impotence. Those who counsel “working within the Labour Movement” play on the same secret craving to rush around with buckets of water trying to fght a fre. The latest enthusiasm of the Left is Mao’s “culturl revolution”, that farce produced by courtesy of the Chinese bureaucrcy (complete with blue jokes about red panties). To repeat an old adage, there is no revolution without the arming of the working class. A revolution of una rm ed schocdchildren, which ev» then has to be neutered by the “support” of the 3 Cf. Raoul Vaneigem’s “Banalités de Base** in internationale SituationnSste 7 & 8, and translated by us as a pamphlet, “The Totality for Kids**. 2S army· is a pseudo-revolution serving some obscure need for readjustment within the bureaucracy. As a tactic for bureaucratic reorganisation it is familiar—after the hysterical and inefective purge of the Right comes the appeal to “discipline”· the call “to purify our ranks and eliminate individualism” (People's Daily, 21st Feb.· 1967), and fnally the essential purge of the Left Far from marking an attack on “socialist” bureaucracy, the GPCR marks the bureaucrcy’s frst adjustment to die techniques of neo-capitalist repression, its colonisation of everyday life. It is the beginning of the Great Leap Forward to Kruschov’s Russia and Kennedy’s America. The real revolution begins at home: in the despertion of consumer pro¬ duction, in the continuing struggle of the unofcial working class. As yet this unofcial revolt has an ofcial ideology. The notion that modem capitalism is producing new revolutionary forces» new poverties of a new proletariat, is still suppressed. Instead there is an a priori fascinaton with the “conversón” or the “subversion” of the old union movement. The militants are recuperting ИПИ " selves (and their intellectual “advisers” urge on the process). The only real subversion is in a new consciousness and a new afance—the location of the struggle in the banalities of everyday life, in the supermarket and the beatclub or well os on the shopfoor. The enemy is entrsm. culturl or political. Aft and the Labour Movement are dead! Long live the Situationist International! i ■>

i· Published by Situationist International. All enquiries to : -Î3 Mematlonale SHuationiste Boite Postale 307-03 Paris, France ß . B C MƒSH uationist bifemational London, w.C.i. En g land •i» % I tí · f SHuationIst International !t ■ · risl " m. P.O. Box 491 : Ш' У j*; f*· ■ e -e... Cooper Station ! t.· if· Ν»Υ·/Ν.Υ. 10003 .-i

1. THE TOTALITY *■ t V FOR KIDS • ' t lí· 9 iV-. V RAOUL VANEIGEM (· У : 7 ·**» 1 r·· · I T situationist international 4 s · ·.►» 7 f· fv Çî-y.·^ *» 4- !. .4 i.· ■;· / m ;.·· J' ί· : . "У* -

The following text first appeared in Internationale Situationniste, nos. 7 and 8, 1962-1963, under the title Banalités de Base. The Introduction was originally printed at the beginning of the second part as a synopsis of the first this synopsis has been used as a general introduction. No copyright was held on the original text and no copyright is held on this translation. Anyone can do whatever they like with it. . 4 Transbted from the French by Christopher Gray and Philippe Vissac \ ч Introduction Almost everyone has always been excluded from LIFE and forcee devote the whole of their energy to SURVIVAL. Today, the WELF'A i . STATE imposes the elements of this survival in the form of technolcg , : comforts (car, frozen-foods, Welwyn Garden City, Shakespeare teic / for the masses). Moreover, the organisation controlling the material equiprn·: our everyday lives is such that what in itself would enable us to ::c г : them richly, plunges us instead into a luxury of impoverishment, nr v .M alienation even more intolerable as each element of comfort appe-: be a liberation and turns out to be a servitude. We are conden nic : the slavery of working for freedom. To be understood, this problem must be seen in the light of archical power. Perhaps it isn’t enough to say that hierarchical powir has preserved humanity for thousands of years as alcohol preserve; a foetus, by arresting either growth or decay. It should also be made de**r that hierarchical power represents the most highly evolved form of privative appropriation, and historically is its alpha and omega. Privative appropriation itself can be defined as appropriation of things by means of appropriation of peoph, the struggle against natural alienation engen¬ dering social alienation. Privative appropriation entails an ORGANISATION OF APPEAR¬ ANCES by which its radical contradictions can be dissimulated. The executives must see themselves as degraded reflections of the master, thus strengthening, through the looking-glass of an illusory liberty, all that produces their submission and their passivity. The master must be identified with the mythical and perfect servant of a god or a trans¬ cendence, whose substance is no more than a sacred and abstract repre¬ sentation of the TOTALITY of people and things over which the master exercises a power which can only become even stronger as everyone accepts the purity of his renunciation. To the real sacrifice of the worker corresponds the mythical sacrifice of the organiser, each negates himself in the other, the strange becomes familiar and the familiar strange, each is realised in an inverted perspective. From this common alienation a harmony is born, a negative harmony whose fundamental unity lies in the notion of sacrifice. This objective (and perverted) harmony is sus¬ tained by myth; this term having been used to characterise the organisa¬ tion of appearances in unitary societies, that is to say, in societies where power over slaves, over a tribe, or over serfs, is officially consecrated by divine authority, where the sacred allows power to seize the totality. 5

The harmony based initially on the “ GIFT of oneself '* contains a relationship which was to develop, become autonomous and destroy it. This relationship is based on partial EXCHANGE (merchandise, money, product, labour force . . .) the exchange of a part of oneself on which the bourgeois conception of liberty is based. It arises as commerce and technology become preponderant within agrarian-type economies. When the bourgeoisie seized power they destroyed its unity. Sacred privative appropriation became laicised in capitalistic mechanisms. The totality was freed from its seizure by power and became concrete and immediate once more. The era of fragmentation has been a succession of attempts to recapture an inaccessible unity, to shelter power behind a substitute for the sacred. A revolutionary moment is when 44 all that reality presents ” fnds its immediate REPRESENTATION. For the rest of the time, hierarchical power, always more distant from its magical and mystical regalia, endeavours to make everyone forget that the totality (no more than reality!) exposes its imposture. 1 Bureaucratic capitalism has found its legitimate justifcation in Marx. We are not concerned here with assessing the role of orthodox marxism in reinforcing the structures of neocapitalism, whose present reorganisa.- tion testifes to the greatest respect for soviet totalitarianism. The point is to stress the extent to which Marx’s most profound analyses of aliena¬ tion have been vulgarised in the most commonplace facts, which, robbed of their magic and embodied in every gesture, have become the sole substance, day after day, of the lives of a growing number of people. Bureaucratic capitalism contains the self-evident truth of alienation; it has brought it home to everybody far more successfully than Marx could ever have hoped to do. It has become commonplace as the disappearance of material poverty has merely revealed the mediocrity of existence itself. The extent of our impoverishment may have been reduced, in terms of mere material survival, but it has become more profound in terms of our way of life — at least one widespread feeling that dissociates Marx from all the interpretations imposed by a degenerate Bolshevism. The “ theory ” of peaceful coexistence has spelt it out to those who were still confused: gangsters can get on very well with one another, despite their spectacular divergences. 2 44 Any act,” writes Mircéa Eliade , 44 can become a religious act. Human existence is realised simultaneously on two parallel planes, on that of temporality, of becoming, of illusion, and on that of eternity, of sub¬ stance, of reality.” During the nineteenth century the brutal divorce of the two planes proved that power would have been more effective if I 4 reality had been maintained in a mist of divine transcendence. To give reformism its due, it has managed, where Bonaparte failed, to dissolve becoming in eternity and reality in illusion; the union may not be as satisfactory as the sacrament of marriage, but it lasts, and thaťs the most the managers of social peace and coexistence can ask of it. And it also leads us to defne ourselves — caught in the illusory but inescapable of tne reífied time of our acts. Does it have to be spelt out: to define perspective of duration — as the end of abstract temporality, as the end ourselves at the positive pole of alienation as the end of mankind’s term of social alienation? 3 The socialisation of primitive human groups reveals the will to struggle more effectively against the mysterious and terrifying forces of nature. But to struggle in the natural environment, at once against and with it, to submit to the most inhuman of its laws in order to seize an extra chance of survival — to do this could only engender a more evolved form of aggressive defence, a more complex and less primitive attitude, manifesting on a more evolved level the contradictions that the forces of nature, which could be influenced while they could not be controlled, never ceased to impose. As it became social, the struggle against the blind domination of nature succeeded in the measure that it gradually assimilated primitive and natural alienation, but in another form. Aliena¬ tion became social in the struggle against natural alienation. Is it by chance that a technical civilisation has developed to the point where social alienation has been revealed by its conflict with the last areas of natural resistance that technical power hadn’t managed (and for good reasons) to destroy. Today, the technocrats propose we put an end to primitive alienation: overcome with brotherly love, they exhort us to perfect the technical means which 44 in themselves ” would enable us to conquer death, suffering, sickness and boredom. But the miracle wouldn’t be to get rid of death, the miracle would be to get rid of suicide and the desire to be dead. There are ways of abolishing the death penalty which make one miss it. Until now the specifc application of technics to society, while reducing quantitatively the number of occasions of suffering and death has allowed death itself to eat like a cancer into the heart of life. 4 The prehistoric period of food gathering was succeeded by the period of hunting, during which the clans formed and struggled to ensure their survival. Hunting-grounds and reserves were established and used for the beneft of the group as a whole. Strangers were banned absolutely as the welfare of the whole clan depended on the observation of its boundaries. So that the liberty won by settling more comfortably in the natural 5

environment, by more effective protection against its hazards, itself engendered its own negation outside the frontiers laid down by the clan and forced the group to moderate its customary activities by organising its relations with excluded and menacing tribes. From the moment it appeared, economic survival on a social basis engendered boundaries, restrictions and conflicting rights. It should never be forgotten that until now both our own nature and the nature of history have been produced by the ^development of privative appropriation: by a class, a^roup. a castè or an individual seizing control of a collective power of socio¬ economic survival. whose form is always complex, from the ownership of land, of territory, of a factory, of capital, to the " pure ” exercise of power over men (hierarchy). Even beyond the struggle against regimes whose vision of paradise is the cybernetic welfare state, lies the necessity of a still vaster struggle against a fundamental and. initially, natural condition, in the development of which capitalism plays only an episodic role, and which will only disappear with the last traces of hierarchical power; or else, of course, the M marcassins de l’humanité ”. 5 To be a proprietor is to arrogate a good from whose enjoyment one excludes other people; at the same time it is to grant eveiyone the potential right of possession. By excluding them from the de facto right of ownership, the proprietor makes those he excludes themselves a part of his property (annexing the non-owners absolutely, annexing the other proprietors relatively): without whom, moreover, he is nothing. Those without property have no choice in the matter. The proprietor appropri¬ ates and alienates them as the producers of his own power, while the necessity of physical survival forces them, despite themselves, to collab- w.-ate in their own alienation, to produce it. They survive as those who cannot live. Excluded, they participate in possession through the media¬ tion of the proprietor, a mystical participation, since originally all clan and social relationships evolved on a mystical basis, slowly replacing the principle of involuntary cohesion in terms of which each member func¬ tions as a part of the group as a whole (”organic interdependence”). Their activity within the structure of privative appropriation guarantees their survival. They consolidate a right to property from which they are excluded and, owing to this ambiguity, each of them sees himself as participating in property, as a living fragment of the right to possess, although the development of any such belief can only reveal his own exclusion and possession. (Chronic cases of this alienation: the faithful slave, the cop, the bodyguard, the centurion, who through a sort of union with their own death, confer on death a power equal to the forces of life, identifying in a destructive energy the negative and the positive poles of alienation, the absolutely obedient slave and the absolute master.) it is of vital importance to the exploiter that this appearance is main¬ tained and made more sophisticated: not because he is especially machia¬ vellian, but simply because he wants to stay alive. The organisation of 6 ) t, appearances is dependent on the survival of the proprietor, a survival dependent in its turn on the survival of his privileges. The organisation of appearances takes in the physical survival of the dispossessed, it creates the possibility of staying alive while one is exploited and excluded from human life. Thus, initially, privative appropriation and domination are imposed and experienced as a positive right, but in the form of a negative universality. Valid for everyone, justified in everyone’s eyes by divine law yr natural reason, the right of privative appropriation is objectified in general illusion, in a universal transcendence, in an essential law under which everyone, individually, manages to tolerate the limits assigned to his own right to live, and to the conditions of life in general. 6 The function of alienation as the condition of survival should be understood in this social context. The labour of the dispossessed obeys the same contradictions as the right of private appropriation. It trans¬ forms them into the possessed, into those who produce their own appropriation and are responsible for their own exclusion, but it is the only chance of survival for slaves, for serfs, for workers — so much so that the activity which allows existence to continue by emptying it of all content finally, through a reversal of perspective that is both compre¬ hensible and sinister, takes on a positive sense. Not only has work been valorised (in the form of sacrifice under the ancien régime» in its brutalis¬ ing aspects in bourgeois ideology and in the so-called popu lar democ- racies). but moreover, from a very early stage, to work for a master, to alienate oneself with the best will in the world, became the honourable — and virtually indisputable — price of survival. The satisfaction of basic I needs remains the best safeguard of alienation; it is best dissimulated on the grounds of its " necessity ”. Alienation multiplies needs because it can satisfy none: today, lack of satisfaction is measured in numbers of cam, fridges. t.v.’s: the alienating objects have lost the ruse and the mystery of transcendence, they are there in their concrete poverty. To be rich today is to possess the greatest number of impoverished objects. So far, surviving has stopped us living. This is why the impossibility of survival is so important. That it is impossible can only become more and more obvious as comfort and overabundance of the elements of survival reduce life to a single choice: suicide or revolution. 7 The sacred even presides over the struggle against alienation. As soon as the violence of the relationship between exploiter and exploited is no longer concealed by the panoply of mysticism, the struggle against aliena¬ tion is suddenly revealed as a ruthless hand-to-hand fight with naked power, discoverd in its brutal strength and its weakness, a vulnerable giant whose slightest wound confers on the aggressor the notoriety of an 7

Erostratus; since power survives, the event remains ambiguous. Destruc¬ tion— sublime moment when the complexity of the world becomes tangible, transparent, within everyone’s grasp, revolts for which there can be no expiation — those of the slaves, of the Jacques, of the icono¬ clasts, of the Enragés, of the Fédérés, of Kronstadt, of Asturias, and — a promise of things to come — the hooligans of Stockholm and the wi dcat strikes . . . Only the destruction of all hierarchical power will allow us to forget these. We intend to make sure that it does. The deterioration of mythic structures and their slowness to regener¬ ate themselves have not only made possible the prise de conscience and the critical penetration of insurrection. They are also responsible for the fact that once the “ excesses ” of revolution are past the struggle against alienation is grasped on a theoretical plane, as an extension of the demystification preceding revolt. It is then that revolt in its purest and most authentic features is re-examined and disavowed by the “ we didn’t really mean to do that ” of theoreticians whose job it is to explain an insurrection to those who created it, to those who intend to demystify by acts, not just by words. All acts opposing power today call for analysis and tactical develop¬ ment. Much can be expected of: (a) The new proletariat, discovering its penury amidst abundant consumer goods (viz. the development of the working-class struggles beginning in England; equally, the attitudes of rebel youth in all the highly industrialised countries). (b) Countries that have had enough of their partial and tricked-up revolutions and are consigning past and present theoreticians to the museum (viz. the role of the intelligentsia in the East). (c) The underdeveloped nations, whose mistrust of technical myths has been kept alive by the cops and mercenaries of colonisation, the last and over-zealous militants of a transcendence against which they are the best possible vaccination. (d) The vigour of the S.I. (“Our ideas are in everyone’s mind”) capable of forestalling remote-controlled revolts, “crystal nights”, and sheepish resistance. 8 Privative appropriation is bound to the dialectic of particular and general. In the realm of the mystic, where the contradictions of slave and ^udal systems dissolve, the disposressed excluded in particular from the ?*¿ght of possession endeavours to assure his survival through his labour: the more he identifies with the interests of the master the more successful he will be. He only knows the other dispossessed through their common predicament: the compulsory surrender of labour force (Christianity recommended voluntary surrender; once a slave offered his labour “of his own accord ” he was no longer a slave), the search for the optimum conditions of survival and mystical identification. Struggle, though bom 8 of a universal will to survive, is engaged on the level of appearances where it brings into play identification with the desires of the master, and introduces a certain individual rivalry reflecting the rivalry of the masters amongst themselves. Competition will develop on this plane for as long as a mystical opacity continues to envelop the structure of exploitation, and for as long as the conditions producing this confusion continue to exist; or, alternatively, for as long as the state of slavery determines consciousness of the state of reality. (By objective consciousness we still understand consciousness that is conscious of being an object.) The proprietor, for his part, is forced to acknowledge a right from which he alone is not excluded, but which, however, is apprehended on the leve! of appearances as a right valid for each of the excluded taken individually. His prerogatives depend on this belief, and on it a strength which is \ essen tiaf it he is to hold his own amongst the other proprietors; it is his strength. If, in his turn, he seems to renounce the exciusive appropriation of everything and everybody, if he seems to be less a master than a servant — a servant of the public good, a defender of the faith — then his strength is crowned with glory and renown, and to his other privileges he adds that of denying on the level of appearances — the only level of reference of unilateral communication — the very idea of personal appro¬ priation. He denies that anyone has this right, he repudiates the other proprietors. In the feudal perspective, the proprietor is not integrated in appearances on the same level as the dispossessed, slaves, soldiers, functionaries, servants, etc. The lives of the latter are so squalid that the majority can only live as a caricature of the Master (the feudal, the prince, the major-domo, the task-master, the high priest, God, Satan . . .). Yet the master himself is also forced to play the part of a carica¬ ture. He can do so without especial effort: his imitation of total life is already caricatural, completely isolated as he is among those who can only survive. He is already one of our own kind, with the added grandeur of a past epoch, with its strength and its nostalgia. He too was waiting, just as we are waiting today, longing for the adventure where he could become one with himself, where he could find himself once more on the pathway to his total prediction. Could the master, at the moment he alienates the others, suddenly realise that they are exclud¬ ed and possessed? If he did, he would realise he was only an exploiter, a purely negative being. This is neither likely nor desirable. By ruling the greatest possible number of subjects doesn’t he allow them to stay alive, doesn’t he offer them their only hope? (Whatever would happen to the workers if someone didn't employ them? as Victorian “thinkers” liked to ask). In fact, what the proprietor does is to exclude himself officially from all claim to private appropriation. To the sacrifice of the dis¬ possessed, who through his work exchanges his real life for an apparent one (for the life that stops him killing himself and allows the master to kill him instead), the proprietor replies by appearing to sacrifice his nature as proprietor and exploiter; he excludes himself mythically, he puts himself at the service of everyone and of myth (at the service, for 9

example, of God and his people). With an additional gesture, with an act whose gratuity bathes him in an other worldly radiance, he gives renunciation its pure form of mythic reality: renouncing common life, he is the poor man amidst illusory wealth, he who sacrifices himself for everyone while other people only sacrifice themselves for their own sake, for the sake of their survival. He turns his predicament into glory. The more powerful he is, the more spectacular his sacrifice. He becomes the living reference point 'f the whole of illusory life, the highest point which can be reached in the scale of mythic values. Withdrawn “ volun¬ tarily ” from more common mortals he is drawn towards the world of the gods, and, on the level of appearances (the only general level of reference) it is faith in his participation in the divinity which consecrates his position in the hierachy of the other proprietors. In the organisation of transcendence, the feudal — and, through osmosis, the proprietors of power or of material of production, in varying degrees — is led to play the principal role, the role he really does play in the economic organisa¬ tion of the survival of the group. So the existence of the group is bound on every level to the existence of the proprietors as such, to those who, owning everything since they own everybody, also force everyone to renounce their lives on the pretext of their own renunciation, absolute and divine. (From the god Prometheus punished by the gods to the god Christ punished by men, the sacrifice of the proprietor becomes vulgar¬ ised, loses its sacred aura, is humanised). Myth unites proprietor and dispossessed. It envelops them in a common form where the necessity of survival, as an animal or as a privileged being, forces them to live on the level of appearances and under the inverted sign of real life, which is that of everyday praxis. We are still there, waiting to live before or after a mystique against which our every gesture protests in its very submission. 9 Myth, the unitary absolute in which the contradictions of the world find an illusory resolution, the harmonious-constantly-harmonised vision that reflects and strengthens order — this is the sphere of the sacred, the extra-human zone where, among so many other wonderful revelations, the revelation of privative appropriation is not to be found. Nietzsche was very much to the point when he wrote: 44 All becoming is a criminal emancipation from eternal being, and its price is death.” The bourgeoise claimed to replace the pure Being of feudalism with Becoming, while in fact all it did was to deconsecrate being and to reconsecrate Becoming to its own advantage; it elevated its own becoming to the status of Being, no longer that of absolute property, but that of refative appropria¬ tion: a petty democratic and mechanical becoming, with its notion of progress, of merit and of causal succession. The life of the proprietor hides him from himself; bound to myth by a pact of life or death, he can only become conscious of his own positive and exclusive enjoyment of any good through the lived appearance of his own exclusion — and isn’t 10 it through this mythic exclusion that the dispossessed will discover the reality of their own exclusion? He accepts the responsibility of a group, he assumes the proportions of a god. He submits himself to its benedic¬ tion and its punishment, he swathes himself in his austerity and wastes away. The master is the model of the gods and the heroes, the face of the proprieto is the true face of Prometheus and of Christ — the face of all those whose spectacular self-sacrifice has made it possible for 44 the vast majority of men ” to continue to sacrifice themselves to an extreme minority, to their masters. (Analysis of the proprietor’s sacrifice should be worked out more subtly: isn’t the case of Christ really the sacrifice of the proprietor’s son? If the proprietor can only seem to sacrifice himself, on the level of appearances, then Christ stands for the real immolation of his son when the circumstances leave no other alternative. As a son he is only a proprietor at an early stage of development, an embryo, little more than a dream of future property. In this mythic dimension belongs the celebrated remark of the journalist Barrés at the moment when the 1914 war had made his dreams come true at last: 44 Our youth, as is ftting, has gone to yield our blood.”) This rather distasteful little game, before it took its place in the museum of rites and folklore, knew a heroic period when kings and tribal chieftans were ritually put to death according to their 44 will ”. Historians assure us that these august martyrs were soon replaced by prisoners, slaves and criminals. They may not get , hurt any more, but they’ve kept the halo. 10 The concept of a common fate is based on the sacrifice of proprietor and dispossessed; in other words, the concept of the human condition is embodied by an ideal and tormented image whose function is to resolve the irresolvable opposition between the mythical sacrifice of a minority and the real sacrifice of everyone else. The function of myth is to unify and make immortal, in a succession of static instants, the dialectic of 44 will-to-live ” and its negation. This universally dominant factitious unity attains its most tangible and concrete representation in communica¬ tion, particularly in language. Ambiguity is most obvious on this level, it reveals the absence of real communication,, it leaves the analyst at the mercy of ridiculous phantoms, at the mercy of words — eternal and changing instants — whose content changes with the person who uses them, just as the notion of sacrifice does. When language is put to the test it can no longer dissimulate the basic misunderstanding and the crisis of participation becomes inevitable. The traces of total revolution can be followed through the language of a period, always menacing and never fulfilled. They are intoxicating and chill signs of the tumult they foreshadow, but who is prepared to take them seriously? The discredit striking language is as deep rooted and as instinctive as suspicion towards myths — not that everyone doesn’t remain as fond of them as ever. How can key-words be defned by other words? What phrases can show the 11

signs giving the lie to the phraseological organisation of appearances? The best texts still await their justifcation. Only when a poem by Mallarmé becomes the sole reason for an act of revolt will the relation¬ ship between poetry and revolution lose its ambiguity. To await and prepare for this moment is not to manipulate information as the last shock-wave whose sifnifcance escapes everyone, but as the frst reper¬ cussion of an act still to come. II Born of man’s will to survive the uncontrollable forces of nature, myth is a policy of public welfare which has outlived its necessity. It has consolidated itself in its tyrannical strength, reducing life to the sole dimension of survival, denying it as movement and totality. Attacked, myth will unify all that attacks it. It will engulf and assimilate it, sooner or later. Nothing can withstand it, no image, no concept, that attempts to destroy the dominant spiritual structures. It reigns over the expression of facts and lived experience, on which it imposes its interpretative structure (dramatisation). Private conscious¬ ness is the consciousness of lived experience which fnds its expression on the level of organised appearances. Myth is sustained by rewarded sacrifce. As every individual life is based on its own renunciation, lived experience must be defned as sacrifce and recompense. As a reward for his asceticism, the initiate (the promoted worker, the specialist, the manager — new martyrs canonised democratically) receives a niche carved in the organisation of appear¬ ances. He is made to feet at home in alienation. But collective shelters disappeared with unitary societies, and all that’s left today is their con¬ crete translation as a public service: temples, churches, palaces · . · memories of a universal protection. Shelters are private nowadays, ahd even if their protection is far from certain, there can be no mistaking their price. 12 “ Private ” life is defined primarily in a formal context. Obviously it is created by the social relationships based on privative appropriation, but its essential form is created by the expression of these relationships. Universal, beyond opposition but always opposed, this form makes appropriation a right acknowledged universally from which everyone is excluded, a right to which renunciation is the only a cces s . If it Mis to break free of the context imprisoning it (a secession which is called revolution) the most authentic experience can only become conscious· can only be expressed and communicated by a movement of inverting the sign by which its fundamental contradiction is dissimulated. In other words, if any positive project fails to revitalise the praxis of radical over¬ throw of the conditions of life — conditions which, in their entirety, are those of privative appropriation — then it will not stand the slightest 12 chance of escaping the negativity that reigns over the expression of social relationships: it will be recuperated in inverse perspective, like the image in a mirror. In the totalising perspective in which it conditions the whole of everybody's life, and in which its real and its mythic power can no longer be distinguished (both being real and both mythic) the movement of private appropriation has made negativity the only possible form of expression. Life in its entirety is suspended in a negativity which erodes it and defines it formally. To talk of life today is like talking of rope in the house of a hanged man. Since the key of will-to-live has been lost, we have wandered through the corridors of an endless mauso- leum . Those who still accept their own exhaustion, their squalor and • · · stagnation, can imagine they just couldn’t care about life as easily as they can fail to see a living denial of their despair in each of their everyday gestures, a denial which should make them despair only of the penury of their own imagination. These images, as though life had fallen into a trance, offer a feld of possibilities with the conquering and the conquered animal at one pole and the saint and the pure hero at the other. The smell in this shithouse is really too much. The world and man as repre- sensation reek of carrion, and there’s no longer any god around to turn the butchery into beds of lilies. After all the ages men have died, after having accepted, without appreciable change, the answers of the gods, of nature, of biology, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask if we don’t die because so much death comes, and for specifc reasons, into every moment of our lives. 13 Privative appropriation can be defined essentially as the appropria¬ tion of things by means of the appropriation of people. It is the spring and the troubled water where all reflections mingle and blur. Its field of action and of influence, spanning the whole of history, seems to have been characterised until now by being based on a double determination of behaviour: by an ontology founded on self-negation and sacrifice (its subjective and objective aspects, respectively) and by a fundamental duality, a division between particular and general, between individual and collective, between private and public, between theoretical and practical, between spiritual and material, between intellectual and manual, etc., etc. The contradiction between universal appropriation and universal expropriation postulates that the master has been seen for what he is and isolated. This mythic image of terror, impotence and renuncia¬ tion occurs to slaves, to servants, to all those who cannot stand to go on living as they are, it is the illusory reflection of their participation in property, a natural illusion since they really do participate in it through their daily sacrifce of their energy (called pain or torture in antiquity, and that we refer to as labour or work) since they themselves producethe property which excludes them. The master himself can only cling to the notion of work-as-sacrifce, like Christ to his cross and his 15

nails; it is up to him to authenticate sacrifice, to appear to renounce his right of exclusive enjoyment and no longer to expropriate with a purely human violence (violence without mediation). The grandeur of the gesture obscures its initial violence, the nobility of sacrifice absolves the warrior, the brutality of the conqueror shines in the light of a trans¬ cendence whose reign is immanent, the gods are the intransigent guardians of law, the cantankerous shepherds of the meek and law abiding flock of 44 Being and Wanting-to-be-Proprietor ”. The gamble on transcendence and the sacrifice entailed are the masters* greatest achievement, their most accomplished submission to the necessity of conquest. Anyone, be he brigand or tyrant, who intrigues for a power unpurified by renunciation will sooner or later be tracked down and killed like a mad dog, or even worse, like someone who pursues no other ends than his own, and whose conception of 44 work ” has been formed without giving a damn what anyone else may think. Tropmann, Landru, Petiot, balancing their budget without taking into account the defence of the Free World, of the State or of human 44 dignity ” never stood a sporting chance. Freebooters, gangsters, out¬ laws, refusing to play by the rules of the game, disturb those whose conscience is at peace (whose consciousness is a reflection of myth) but the masters when they kill the criminal, or enrol him as a cop, re-establish the omnipotence of 44 eternal truth ”: those who don’t sell themselves lose their right to survive, and those who do sell themselves lose their right to live. The sacrifice of the master is the matrix of humanism, and let it be understood once and for all that this makes humanism the grotesque negation of all that is human. Humanism is the master taken seriously at his own game, acclaimed by those who see his apparent sacrifice as a reason to hope for salvation, and not just the caricatural reflection of their own real sacrifice. Justice, dignity, honour, liberty . . . these words that yap or squeal, are they any more than household pets whose masters have calmly awaited their homecoming since the time when heroic domestics fought for the right to walk them on the street? To use them is to forget that they are the ballast which allows power to rse, to rise out of reach. A future regime might well decide against promoting sacrifice in such universal forms, and begin to track these words down and to wipe them out; if so, one could well foresee the left wing engaged in one more plaintive battle of words, whose every phrase extols the 44 sacrifce ” of a previous master and calls for the equally mythical sacrifce of a new one (a left wing master, a power mowing down workers in the name of the proletariat). Bound to the notion of sacrifice, humanism is born of the fear of both masters and slaves: it is the solidarity of a shitscared humanity. But those who have rejected all hierarchical power can use any word as a weapon to beat out the rhythm of their action. Lautréamont and the illegal anarchists were well aware of it; so were the dadaists. Thus, the appropriator becomes a proprietor from the moment he puts the ownership of people and of things in the hands of God, or of a 14 universal transcendence, whose omnipotence streams down on him as a grace sanctifying his slightest gesture. To oppose the proprietor thus consecrated is to oppose God, Nature, the nation, the people. In short, to exclude onself from the world in its entirety. 44 There can be no question of governing and even less of being governed ”, writes Marcel Havrenne, so prettily; for those who add violence to his humour, there can no longer be either salvation or damnation, there can be no position in the universal comprehension of things, neither with Satan, the great recuperator of the faithful, nor in any form of myth, since they are the living proof of its redundance. They were born for a life yet to be invented; in as far as they lived, it was on this hope that they finally came to grief. Two corollaries of the singularisation of transcendence: (a) If ontology implies transcendence, any ontology justifies a priori the being of the master and of hierarchised power, wherein the master is reflected in degraded, more or less faithful images. (b) Upon the distinction between manual and intellectual work, between practice and theory, is superimposed the distinction between work-as-real-sacrifice and its organisation in the form of apparent sacrifice. It is tempting to explain fascism amongst other reasons — as an act of faith, an auto-da-fé of a bourgeoisie haunted by the murder of God and the destruction of the great sacred spectacle, vowing itself to the Devil, to an inverted mysticism, a black mysticism with its rituals and holocausts. Mysticism and high finance. It should never be forgotten that hierarchical power cannot exist without transcendence, without ideologies, without myths. Demystifica¬ tion itself could be turned into a myth, it would be sufficient to 44 omit ”, most philosophically, active demystification. After which all demystifica¬ tion, separated hygienically into little pieces, becomes painless, euthanatic, in a word, humanitarian. Were it not for the movement of demystification which will end by demystifying the demystifiers. 14 When the bourgeois revolutionares attacked the mythical organisa¬ tion of appearances, they attacked, quite despite themselves, not only the key points of unitary power, but the keypoints of any hierarchical power whatsoever. Can this inevitable mistake explain the guilt-complex so typical of bourgeois mentality? The mistake was undoubtedly inevit¬ able. In the frst place, a mistake because once the cloud of lies dis¬ simulating privative appropriation was pierced, myth itself disintegrated and a vacuum was revealed which could only be flled by poetry and delirious liberty. Certainly, orgiastic poetry to date has not destroyed power. Its failure is easy to explain, and its ambiguous signs reveal the blows struck at the same time as they heal the wounds. Historians and 15

aesthetes can keep their collections: one has only to pick at the scab of memory and the cries, words and gestures of the past make the whole body of power start to bleed freshly once more. The whole organisation of the survival of memories will not stop them being forgotten as soon asy they come to life again and begin to dissolve in experience; the same applies to our survival in the construction of our everyday lives. An inevitable process: as Marx showed, the appearance of exchange value and its symbolic substitution by money split open a radical crisis latent in the heart of the unitary world. Merchandise introduced a universal character into human relationships (a dollar bill represents all I can buy with this sum) and an egalitarian character (equal thing s are exchanged). This 44 egalitarian universality” partly escapes both the exploiter and the exploited, while both accept it as a common measure. They discover themselves face to face, no longer confronted in the mystery of divine birth and ascendence, as the nobility once was, but in an intelligible transcendence, that of the Logos, a body of laws that can be understood by everybody, even if any such understanding remains cloaked in mystery. A mystery with its initiates, first of all priests, strug¬ gling to maintain the Logos in the limbo of divinemysticism, soonyielding to philosophers, then to technicians, both their position and the dignity of their sacred mission. From Plato's republic to the cybernetic state. Thus, under the pressure of exchange value and of technology (which could be called the 44 do-it-yourself-mediation-kit ”), myth was gradually laicised. However, two facts are to be noted: (a) As the Logos frees itself from mystic unity it affirms itself at once in and against it. Upon magical and analogical structures of behavi¬ our are superimposed rational and logical structures which negate while conserving them (mathematics, poetics, economics, aesthetics, psychology, etc.). (b) Each time the Logos or the 44 organisation of intelligible appear¬ ances ” becomes more independent it tends to break away from the sacred and to become fragmented. As such it presents a double danger to unitary power. We have already seen that the sacred expresses the seizure of the totality by power, and that anyone wanting to accede to the totality must do so through the mediation of power: the interdict striking mystics, alchemists, gnostics is sufficient proof. This also explains why power today 44 protects ” specialists, in whom it can sense — but without really trusting them — the missionaries of a reconsecrated Logos. There are historic signs that testify to the attempts made to found within mystic unitary power a rival power asserting its unity in the name of the Logos: amongst which, Christian syncretism, the psychological explanation of God, the Renaissance, the Reformation and the Aufklärung. The masters who tried to retain the unity of the Logos were well aware that only unity can stabilise power. Examined closely their efforts have not been as vain as the fragmentation of the Logos in the 16 nineteenth and twentieth centuries would seem to prove. In the general movement of atomisation, the Logos has been broken down into specialised techniques (physics, biology, sociology, papyrology, etc., etc.) but at the same time the need to re-establ ish the totality has become more and more imperative. It should never be forgotten that an all- powerful technocratic power could now begin to plannify the totality: the Logos would succeed myth as the seizure of the totality by a future unitary (cybernetic) power. In this perspective, the vision of the Encyclopédistes (strictly rationalised progress stretching into the indefi¬ nite future) would only have known a period of indecision lasting two centuries before its realisation. This is the direction in which the stal mo- cyberneticians are preparing the future. In this perspective peaceful * co-existence should be seen as the basis of totalitarian unity. Everyone must realise they have already rebelled. 15 We know the battlefield. The problem now is preparing for battle. Otherwise the pataphysician, armed with his totality without a tech¬ nique, and the cybernetician, armed with his technique without a totality, will consumate their political coitus. And they will be duly blessed. , From the point of view of hierarchical power myth could only be deconsecrated if the Logos was reconsecrated, or if at least its decon¬ secrating elements were reconsecrated. To attack the sacred was at the same time to liberate the totality, thus to destroy power. But the power of the bourgeoisie, broken, impoverished, constantly harassed, maintains a relative stability by its use of this ambiguity: technology, which deconsecrates objectively, appears subjectively as an instrument of liberation. Not a real liberation, which could only be won by decon¬ secration, that is to say, by the end of the spectacle, but a caricature, an ersatz, a controlled hallucination. What the unitary vision of the world transferred to the beyond (the image of elevation), fragmentary power inscribes in a future state of increased well-being (the image of the pro-ject), of tomorrows-that-will-be-another-day, but which will really be no more than today multiplied by the number of gadgets to be produced. From the slogan 44 Live in God ” we have gone on to the humanistic motto 44 Survive as long as you can” which means 44 Stay young at heart and you'll live a long time.” Myth, deconsecrated and fragmented, loses its grandeur and its spirituality. It becomes an impoverished form, retaining former charact¬ eristics but revealing them as something concrete, brutal and tangible. God doesn't run the show any more, and until the day the Logos takes over, armed with technology and science, the spectres of alienation will materialise everywhere, sowing disorder in their path. Pay attention to them: they are the first manifestations of a future order. We must start to play from this moment if the future is not to be ruled b^ the 17

principle of survival, or if even survival itself is not to become impossible (the hypothesis of humanity destroying itself). And with it, obviously, the whole experiment of constructing everyday life. The vital objectives of struggle for the construction of everyday life are the key-points I- of all hierarchical power. To construct one is to destroy the other. Caught in the vortex of deconsecration and reconsecration, essentially we stand for the negation of the following elements: the organisation of appearances as a spectacle where everyone denies themselves; the separation on which private life is based, since it is there that the objective separation between proprietors and dispossessed is lived and refected on every level; and sacrifice. The three are obviously inter¬ dependent, just as their opposites: participation, communication, reali¬ sation. The same applies to their context: non-totality (a bankrupt world, a controlled totality) and totality. 16 The human relationships previously dissolved in divine transcedence (in the totality crowned by the sacred) decanted and became solid as soon as the sacred stopped acting as a catalyst. Their materiality was revealed and, as the capricious laws of economy succeeded those of Providence, the power of men began to appear behind the power of the gods. Today endless roles correspond to the mythical role every¬ one once played under the divine spotlights. Though their masks are human faces, they still force both actor and extra to deny their real life, to fulfil the dialectic of real and mythical sacrifice. The spectacle is nothing but deconsecrated and fragmented myth. It forms the carapace of a power (which could also be called essential mediation) that is exposed to every blow once it no longer succeeds in dissimulating, in the cacaphony where all cries drown one another out and become harmonious, the nature of privative appropriation. And just how much shit it heaps on everyone. Roles have become impoverished in the context of a fragmentary power eaten away by deconsecration, just as the spectacle betrays its impoverishment in comparison with myth. They betray its mechanisms and its artifice so clumsily that power, to defend itself against popular denunciation of the spectacle, has no alternative but to denounce it first itself. Even more clumsily it changes actors and ministers, it organises pogroms of putative or prefabricated producers of the spectacle (agents of Moscow or Wall Street, of the judeocracy or les deux cent famHtes). Which is to say that the whole cast has been forced to become hams, that style has been replaced by manner. Myth, as an immobile totality, encompassed all movement (the pilgrimage, for example, as fulfilment and adventure within immobility). On the one hand, the spectacle can only conceive the totality by reducing it to a fragment inserted in a series of fragments (psychological. 18 sociological, biological, philological, mythological visions of the world), while, on the other hand, it is situated at the point where the movement of deconsecration converges with the attempt to reconsecrate. Thus it can only succeed in imposing immobiity within the movement of reality, the movement changing it despite its resistance. In the era of fragmentation, the organisation of appearances makes movement a linear succession of immobile instants (this progress from notch to notch is perfectly exemplified by Stalin’s <4 diamat”). Under what we have called “ the colonisation of everyday life,” the only possible change is change of fragmentary roles. In terms of more or less inflexible conventions one is successively: citizen, father, sexual partner, politician, specialist, businessman, producer, consumer. Yet what supervisor doesn’t feel watched himself? You may get a fuck, but you’ll always get fucked. The proverb is universal. The epoch of fragmentation has at least eliminated all doubt on one point: everyday life is the battlefield where the battle between the totality and power takes place, power using all its strength to control it. What do we demand in pitting the power of everyday life against hierarchical power? We demand everything. We have taken our place in the general conflict stretching from domestic squabbles to revolutionary war, and we have gambled on the will to live. This means we must survive as anti-survivors. Fundamentally we are only concerned with the moments when life shatters the glaciation of survival (whether these 1 moments be unconscious or theorised, historic, like the revolution, or I personal). But we must realise we are also prevented from following the course of these moments freely (apart from the moment of revolution itself) not only by the general repression exercised by power, but also by the exigencies of our own struggle, of our tactics, etc. It is equally im¬ portant to find the means of balancing this 44 percentage of error,” by widening the scope of these moments and by showing their qualitative importance. Our remarks on the construction of everyday life cannot be recuperated by cultural or sub-cultural establishments (Evergreen, New Left Review, thinkers with three weeks paid holiday) for the very good reason that all situationist ideas are no more than the development of acts attempted constantly by countless people to try and prevent another day being no more than twenty-four hours of wasted time. Are we an avant-garde? If we are, to be avant-garde means to keep abreast of reality. 17 I It’s not the monopoly of intelligence we hold, but that of its use. Our position is strategic, we are at the heart of every possible conflict. The qualitative is our force-de-frappe. People who half understand this review ask us for an explanatory monograph, thanks to which they will be able to convince themselves they are an intelligent and cultured 19

person, that is to say, an idiot. Someone who gets fed up and chucks it in the gutter has more sense. Sooner or later it will have to be understood that the words and phrases we use are still outdated by reality. The distortion and clumsiness of the way we express ourselves (that someone with taste called, not inaccurately, “a somewhat irritating kind of hermetic terrorism ”) comes from our central position on the illdefmed and shifting frontier where language sequestrated by power (conditioning) and free language (poetry) fight out their complex war. To those who can’t keep up with us we prefer those who reject us impatiently because our language isn’t yet authentic poetry, that is, isn’t yet the free construction of everyday life. Everything related to thought is related to the spectacle. Almost everyone lives in a state of terror at the possibility they might awake to themselves, and their fear is carefully kept alive by power. Condition¬ ing, the poetry of power, has subjected so much to its control (all material equipment belongs to it: the press, television, stereotypes, magic, tradition, economy, technics — what we call sequestrated language) that it has almost succeeded in dissolving what Marx called the non-dominated sector of nature, to replace it by another (viz. our identikit picture of “the survivor”). Lived experience, however, cannot be reduced to a series of empty configurations with such facility. Resistance to the exterior organisation of life, to the organisation of life as survival, contains more poetry than any volume of verse or prose, and the poet, in the literary sense of the word, is the person who has sensed or understood that this is so. But the life of any such poetry hangs on a thread. Certainty, as the situationists understand it, it is irreducible and cannot be recuperated by power (as soon as an act is recuperated it becomes a stereotype, conditioning, the language of power). However, it is encircled by power. It is by isolation that power encircles the irreducible and pins it down; yet complete isolation is not feasible. The pincer movement has two claws: first, the threat of disinte¬ gration (insanity, illness, destitution, suicide) and, secondly, remote- controlled therapeutics; the first granting death, the second no more than survival (empty communication, the cohesion of friends or families, psychoanalysis prostituted to alienation, medicare, ergotherapy). Sooner or later the S.i. must define itself as a therapeutic: we are ready to defend the poetry created by everyone against the false poetry mani¬ pulated solely by power (conditioning). Doctors and psychoanalysts had h better get it straight too, unless they are prepared, one fine day, to take the consequences for what they have done, along with architects and other apostles of survival. 18 All antagonisms that have not been resolved, integrated and superceded are losing their signifcance. These antagonisms can only evolve while they remain imprisoned in previous forms which have not 20 * been superceded (anti-cultural art in the cultural spectacle, for example). Any radical opposition that has either failed or been partially successful — which comes down to the same thing — etiolates gradually into reformistle opposition. Fragmentary opposition is like the teeth on a cogwheel, they marry another and make the machine go round, the machine of the spectacle, the machine of power f Myth held alt antagonisms in the archetype of manicheanism. But what can function as an archetype in a fragmented society? In fact, the memory of previous antagonisms, utilised in a patently devalued and non-aggressive form, appears today as the last attempt to bring some coherence to the organisation of appearances, so great is the extent to which the spectacle has become a spectacle of undifferentiated confusion. We are ready to wipe out all trace of these memories, harnessing ail the energy contained in previous antagonisms for a radical conflict yet to come. A river will burst from ail the springs blocked up by power, a river which will change the face of the world. A travesty of antagonism, power insists that everyone be for or against The Rolling Stones, le nouveau roman, the Minivan, chínese food, LSD., short skirts, the United Nations, pop art, nationalisation, thermonuclear war and hitch-hiking. Everyone is asked their opinion of every detail to stop them having one of the totality. The manoeuvre, however inept, might have worked were the commercial salesmen in¬ volved not waking up to their own alienation. To the passivity imposed on the dispossessed masses is added the growing passivity of directors and actors submitted to the abstract laws of the market and the spectacle, exercising a less and less effective power over the world. Already signs of revolt are breaking out among the actors, stars who try and escape publicity or rulers who criticise their own power, Brigitte Bardot or Fidel Castro. The tools of power wear out. Their desire for their own freedom, as instruments, should be calculated on. 19 I The spectacular reformism of Christianity appeared at the moment when the slave revolt threatened to overthrow the structure of power and to reveal the relationship between transcendence and the mechanism of privative appropriation. Its central democratic demand was not that slaves accede to the reality of a human life — impossible without denouncing appropriation as a movement of exclusion — but, on the contrary, to an existence whose source of happiness is mythical (the imitation of Christ as the price of the hereafter). What has changed? Waiting for the hereafter has become waiting for the tomorrow-that- will-be-another-day; the sacrifice of real and immediate life is the price at which the illusory liberty of an apparent life is bought. The spectacle is the sphere where forced labour is transformed into voluntary sacrifice. There is nothing more suspect than the formula “ to everyone 21

according to his work ” in a world where work is the blackmail of survival; to say nothing of the formula “ to everyone according to his needs ” in a world where needs are determined by power. Any construc¬ tion attempting to define itself in an autonomous, and therefore partial, way can be relegated to reformism. It is unaware of its real definition by the negativity in which everything is suspended. It tries to build on quicksand as though it were rock. Contempt and misunderstanding of the context fixed by hierarchical power can only end by strengthening this context. On the other hand, the spontaneous acts we can see forming everywhere against power and its spectacle must be warned of all the obstacles in their path, and must find tactics corresponding to the strength of the enemy and to its means of recuperation. These tactics, which we are about to popularise, are those of deflection (détoure· ment). 20 Sacrifice must be rewarded. In exchange for their real sacrifice the workers receive the instruments of their liberation (comfort, gadgets) which, however, are a purely fictitious liberation since power controls the ways in which all material equipment can be used, since power * utilises to its own ends both the instruments and those who use them. The Christian and bourgeois revolutions democratised mythical sacrifice or the “ sacrifice of the master.” Today, there are countless initiates who receive the crumbs of power for having put to public service the totality of their partial knowledge. They are no longer called “ initiates * 9 and not yet " priests of the Logos ”: they are just known as specialists. On the level of the spectacle their power is incontestable: the candidate on 44 Double Your Money ” or the G.P.O. clerk, itemising the mechanical subtleties of their Anglia, both identify with the specialist, and we know how production managers can use these identifications to bring skilled labourers to heel. Essentially, the true mission of the technocrats would be to unify the Logos, if only, through one of the contradictions of fragmentary power, they weren’t all so pathetically isolated. Alienated as they are by their interference with one another, they know the whole of a fragment and ail realisation escapes them. What real control can the atomic technician, the strategist or the political specialist exercise over nuclear weapons? What absolute control can power hope to impose on all the gestures forming against it? The stage is so crowded that only chaos reigns as master. 44 Order reigns and doesn’t govern ” (Editorial Notes, Internatibnale Situationniste, 6). Insofar as the specialist takes part in the construction of the instruments that condition and transform the world he initiates the revolt of the privileged. Previously any such revolt has been called fascism. It is essentially an operatic revolt — didn’t Nietzsche see Wagner as a precursor? — when actors who for a long time have been pushed to the side suddenly demand to hold the leading roles. Clinically 22 ■ΐ I I speaking, fascism is the hysteria of the spectacular world as it reaches a paroxysm. In this paroxysm the spectacle momentarily assures its I I unity, and at the same time it reveals its radical inhumanity. Through í fascism and stalinism, its romantic crises, the spectacle betrays its true |. nature: it is a disease. I We are poisoned by the spectacle. All the elements necessary for a cure (that is, for the construction of our everyday lives) are in the hands of specialists. Thus, from one point of view or another, we are highly interested in all of them. Some are chronic cases: we don’t intend, for example, to try and show the specialists of power, the rulers, just how far their delirium has carried them. On the other hand, we are ready to take account of the rancour of specialists imprisoned by roles which are constricted, grotesque or infamous. We must confess, however, that our indulgence has its limits. If, despite all we do, they continue I ? stubbornly to put their guilty conscience and their bitterness at the service of power, to fabricate the conditioning that colonises their own everyday lives; if they continue to prefer an illusory representation in the hierarchy to the reality of realisation; if they continue to brandish their specialisation (their painting, their novels, their equations, their sociometry, their ballistics); finally, if they know perfectly well — and very soon it won’t be possible to ignore it — that only the S.l. and power hold the key to their specialisation, if then they still choose to serve power because power, battening on their inertia, has so far selected them for its service, then fuck them! No one could be more generous. Above all they should understand that henceforth the revolt of non-ruling actors is a part of the revolt against the spectacle. 21 The general abhorrence excited by the lumpenproletariat comes from the use to which it was put by the bourgeoisie. It served both as a means to regulate power and as a source of recruits for the more equivocal İ forces of law and order: cops, informers, hired guns, artists . . . Despite which, its implicit critique of the society of work is remarkably radical. Its open contempt for both employers and employees contains a valid critique of work as alienation, a critique that hasn’t been taken seriously until now both because the lumpenproletariat was essentially the sector of all that was ambiguous in society, and also because during the nine¬ teenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries the struggle against natural alienation and the production of well-being still seemed to be valid pretexts for work. Önce the abundance of consumer goods is known to be no more than the other side of an alienated production, the lumpenproletariat acquires a new dimension: it liberates a contempt for organised work that, in the age of the Welfare State, is gradually taking the proportions of a demand that only the ruling classes still refuse to acknowledge. Despite the constant attempts of power to recuperate it, every experiment 25

affected on everyday life, that is, every attempt to construct it — an illegal activity since the destruction of feudal power, where it was restricted and reserved for a minority — becomes concrete today through its critique of alienating work and its refusal to submit to forced labour. So much so that the new proletariat tends to be defined negatively as a “Front Against Forced Labour” bringing together all those who resist their annexation by power. This is our feld of action. It is here that we gamble on the ruse of history against the ruse of power, it is here that we back the worker, be he steelworker or artist, who — consciously or not — rejects organised work and life, against the worker who — consciously or not — accepts to work at the orders of power. In this perspective, it is not unreasonable to foresee a transitional period during which automation and the will of the new proletariat leave I work solely to specialists, reducing managers and bureaucrats to the rank of temporary slaves. In the context of complete automation, the “ workers,” instead of supervising machines, would be free to humour cybernetic specialists whose sole task was to increase production — a production which had been radically transformed, a production serving life and not survival. 22 Unitary power endeavoured to dissolve individual existence in a collective consciousness, so that each social unity defned itself subjec¬ tively as a particle with a clearly determined weight suspended as though in oil. Everyone had to feel blinded by the evidence that the hand of God, shaking the recipient, used everything for designs of his own which transcended the understanding of each particular human being, and appeared as the emanations of a supreme will bestowing sense on the slightest change. (In any case, ail perturbation was an ascending or descending movement towards harmony: the Four Reigns, the Wheel of Fortune, the trials sent by the gods). One can speak of a collective consciousness in the sense that it was simultaneously for each individual and for everyone: consciousness of myth and conscious¬ ness of a particular-existence-within-myth. The power of the illusion is such that authentic life draws its signifcance from what it is not; from this stems the clerical condemnation of life, reduced to pure contingence, to squalid materiality, to vain appearances and to the lowest level of a transcendence becoming increasingly debased in the measure that it escapes mythic organisation. God was the guarantor of space and time, whose co-ordinates defned unitary society. He was the common reference-point for all men; space and time came together in him, as in him all beings became one with their destiny. In the era of fragmentation, man is torn apart between a space and a timé that no transcendence can unify through the mediation of a centralised power. .We live in a space and time that are out of joint, 24 deprived of all reference-point and all co-ordinates, as though we were never to come into contact with ourselves, although everything invites i us to. . There is a place where one makes oneself and a time in which one plays. The space of everyday life, that of one’s true realisation, is encircled by every form of conditioning. The restricted space of our true realisation defnes us, though we defne ourselves in the time of the spectacle. Or, alternatively: our consciousness is no longer conscious¬ ness of myth and of particular-being-in-the-myth, it is consciousness of the spectacle and of the particular-role-in-the-spectacle (I pointed out above the relationship between all ontology and unitary power, and in this context we could remember that the crisis of ontology appears with the movement towards fragmentation). To express this once more in different terms: in the space-time relationship in which everyone and everything is situated, time has become the imaginary (the field of identifcations); space defines us, although we defne our¬ selves in the imaginary and although the imaginary defnes us in as far as we are subjectivities. Our liberty is that of an abstract temporality in which we are named in the language of power (these names are the roles assigned us) with the choice left to us of finding synonyms officially registered as such. The space of authentic realisation (the space of pur everyday life) is, on the contrary, the kingdom of silence. There 13 no name to name the space of lived experience, if not in poetry, in language strug¬ gling to be free of the domination of power. 23 When the bourgeoisie deconsecrated and fragmented myth its primary demand was for independence of consciousness (demands for freedom of thought, freedom of the press, freedom of research and refusal of dogma). So consciousness stopped being more or less conscious- ness-refecting-myth. It became consciousness of successive roles played in the spectacle. Above all what the bourgeoisie demanded was the freedom of actors and extras in a spectacle no longer organised* by God, by his cops and his priests, but by natural and economic laws, “ inexorable and capricious laws ”: cops and specialists on the payroll once again. God has been torn aside like a useless bandage and the wound has stayed raw. The bandage may have stopped the wound healing up, but it justified suffering, it gave it a sense well worth a few shots of mor¬ phine. Now, suffering has no justifcation whatsoever, and morphine is fár from cheap. Separation has become concrete. Anyone at all can put their finger it, and the only answer cybernetic society can offer us is to become spectators of putrescence and decay, spectators of survival. « 1 Hegel’s drama of consciousness is more exactly consciousness of drama. Romanticism echoes like the cry of the soul torn from the body, 25

a suffering made even more intolerable because we all find ourselves atñe to rce the collapse of the sacred totality» and of all the Houses of Usher. 24 The totality is objective reality in the movement of which subject¬ ivity can only participate as realisation. Anything apart from the realisa¬ tion of everyday life belongs to the spectacle where survival is frozen (hibernation) and served out in slices. There can be no authentic realisation except in objective reality, in the totality. All the rest is caricature. The objective realisation that functions in the mechanism of the spectacle is nothing but the success of power-manipulated objects (the “objective realisation in subjectivity“ of famous artists, of film¬ stars, of the celebrities of Who*s Who). On the level of the organisation of appearances, every success — and even every failure — is inflated until it becomes a stereotype, and is broadcast by the information media as though it were the only possible success or failure. So far power has been the only judge, though pressure has been brought to bear on its judgement. Its criteria alone are valid for those who accept the spectacle and are satisfied with playing a role within it. And there are no more artists on that scene, there are only extras. 25 The space and time of private lif were harmonised in the space and time of myth. The universal harmony of Fourier answers this perverted harmony. As soon as myth no longer encompasses the individual and the partial in a totality dominated by the sacred, each fragment erects itself as a totality. The fragment erected as a totality is, in fact, the total¬ itarian. In the dissociated space and time that makes private life, time, made absolute in the form of abstract liberty, which is that of the spec¬ tacle, consolidates by its very dissociation the spatial absolute of every¬ day life, its isolation, its constriction. The mechanism of the alienating spectacle exerts such strength that private life reaches the point of being defined as something that is deprived of spectacle. The fact that it escapes spectacular roles and categories is experienced as an additional privation, as a sense of sickness which power uses as a pretext to reduce everyday life to insignificant gestures (to smoke a joint, to read a book, to make a cup of tea). 26 spectacle that imposes its norms on lived experience itself stems The from lived experience. The time of the spectacle, lived in the form of successive roles, makes the space of authentic experience the area of objective impotence, while, at the same time, objective impotence, that 26 due to the conditioning of privative appropriation, makes the spectacle the absolute of virtual liberty. Elements born of lived experience are only acknowledged on the level of the spectacle, where they are expressed in the form of stereo¬ types, although any such expression is constantly opposed in lived exper¬ ience and denied by authentic lived experience. The identikit picture of the survivors — to whom Nietzsche refers as the “ little people ” or the “ last men ” — can only be conceived in terms of the following dialectic of possibility-impossibility. (a) the possible on the level of the spectacle (variety of abstract roles) reinforces the impossible on the level of authentic experience. (b) the impossible (that is, the limits imposed on real experience by privative appropriation) determines the field of abstract possibilities. Survival has :wo dimensions. As against this reduction what forces can focus attention on the everyday problem of all human beings; the dialectic of survival and of life? Either the specific forces on which the 1 SJ. has gambled will allow these contraries to be superceded, reuniting I space and time in the construction of everyday life; or life and survival wifi become locked in their antagonism, growing weaker and weaker until the point of ultimate confusion and ultimate poverty is reached. 27 Lived experience is shattered and labelled spectacularly in categories, biological, sociological, etc., which, while being related to the communi¬ cable, never communicate more than facts emptied of their authentically I experienced content. Thus it is that hierarchical power, imprisoning everyone in the objective mechanism of private appropriation (admission- exclusion, viz. section 3) also dictates the nature of subjectivity. Insofar as it does so it forces, with a varying degree of success, each individual subjectivity to objectivise itself, that is to say, to become an object it i can manipulate. This forms an extremely interesting dialectic which should I be analysed in greater detail (cf. the objective realisation in subjectivity — that of power — and the objective realisation in objectivity — which comes into the praxis of constructing everyday life and of destroying power). Facts.are deprived of content in the name of the communicable, in the name of an abstract universality, in the name of a perverted harmony in which everyone realises themselves in an inverted perspective. In this context, the S.I. belongs to the tradition of dissent which encompasses Sade, Fourier, Lewis Carroll, Lautréamont, surrealism and lettrism — at least in its less-known forms, which were also the most radical. Within a fragment erected as a totality, each further fragment is itself totalitarian. Sensibility, desire, will, taste, the subconscious and all the categories of the ego were treated as absolutes by individualism. Today sociology is enriching the categories of psychology, but the intro- 27

d uction of varety into the roles merely emphasises the monotony of the reflex of identification. The liberty of “ the survivor ” will be to assume the abstract constituent to which he has “chosen” to reduce himsélf. Once there is no question of true realisation, only a psychosociologicaf dramaturgy is left, in which subjectivity functions as an overflow to get rd of the effects one has worn for the daily exhibition. Survival becomes the final stage of life organised as the mechanical reproduction of memory. 28 Until now the approach to the totality has been falsifed. Power has been inserted parasitically as an indispensable mediation between men and mature. But the relationship between men and nature is founded only by praxis, it is praxis that is always breaking the veneer of lies that myth and its substitutes try to substantiate. It is praxis, even alienated praxis, that maintains contact with the totality. By revealing its fragmen¬ tary character, praxis reveals at the same time the real totality (reality): it is the totality being realised through its opposite, the fragment. In the perspective of praxis, every fragment is the totality. In the perspective of power, which alienates praxis, every fragment is total¬ itarian. This should be enough to wreck the attempts cybernetic power will make to envelop praxis in a mystique, although the seriousness of these attempts should not be underestimated. All praxis belongs to our project. It enters with its share of alien¬ ation, with the dross of power: however, we can purify it. We will clarify the manoeuvres of subjection and the strength and purity of the acts of refusal. We will use our strategy, not in a manichean vision, but as a means of developing this conflict in which, everywhere, at every moment, adversaries are seeking one another and only dashing accidentally, tst in an irremediable darkness and confusion. 29 Everyday life has always been emptied to substantiate apparent life, but appearances, in their mythical cohesion, were powerful enough to ensure that no one ever became conscious of everyday life. The poverty and emptiness of the spectacle betrayed by every type of capitalism, by every type of bourgeoisie, has revealed the existence of everyday life (a shelter-life, but a shelter for what and from what?) and simultaneously the poverty of everyday life. As reifcation and bureaucratisation eat I deeper and deeper into life, the exhaustion of the spectacle and of everyday life become increasingly evident to everyone. The conflict between the human and the inhuman has also been transferred to the plane of appearances. As soon as marxism became an ideology, Marx’s struggle against ideology in the name of the richness of life was trans¬ formed into an ideological anti-ideology, a spectacle of the anti- 28  ; spectacle (just as within the avant-garde, the fate of the anti-spectacular I spectacle is its restriction to the actors, anti-artistic art being created and understood only by artists; the relationship between this anti- ! ideological ideology and the function of the professional revolutionary in leninism should be studied). Thus, manicheanism was resuscitated for a time. Why did St. Augustine attack the manicheans with such acerbity? Because he knew the danger of a myth offerng only one solution, the victory of the good over the evil; he knew that this impossibility threatened to wreck the whole structure of myth and to focus attention on the contradiction between mythic and authentic life. Christianity offers the third way, the way of sacred confusion. What Christianity accomplished by the strength of myth is accomplished today by the strength of things. There isn’t any longer the slightest antagonism between soviet workers and capitalist workers, there isn’t any longer the slightest antagonism between the bomb of the stalinist bureaucrats and the bomb of the non-stalinist bureaucrats: there is only unity in the chaos of reified beings. Who is responsible? Who should be shot? We are dominated by a system, by an abstract form. Degrees of humanity and inhumanity are measured by purely quantitative variations of passivity. The quality is the same everywhere: we are all proletarianised, or well on the way to ■j being so. What are the traditional “revolutionaries” doing? They are eliminating certain distinctions, they are making sure that no proletarians are any more proletarian than everyone else. But what party wants to end the proletariat? The perspective of survival has become intolerable. What we are suffering from is the weight of things in a vacuum. That’s what reification is: everyone and everything falling at an equal speed, everyone and everything stigmatised with their equal value. The reign of equal values has realised the Christian project, but it has realised it without Chrstianity (as Pascal understood it) and, above all, it has realised it I over God’s dead body, contrary to Pascal’s expectations. I The spectacle and everyday life coexist in the reign of equal ’ values. People and things are interchangeable. The world of reification is a world without a centre, like the new towns, which are its decor. The present withdraws before the promise of a perpetual future which is no more than a mechanical extension of the past. Time itself is deprived of a centre. In this concentration-camp universe victims and torturers wear the same mask, and only the torture is real. No fresh ideology will be able to soothe the pain, neither that of the totality (the Logos), nor that of nihilism, which will be the crutches of the cybernetic state. They condemn all hierarchical power, whatever its organisation and dissimulation. The antagonism the S.l. is about to renew is the oldest of all: it is radical antagonism, and that is why it can assimilate all that has been left by the great individuals and insurrection¬ ary movements of the past. 29

30 So many other banalities could be examined and reversed. The best things never come to an end. Before rereading the above — even the mpst mediocre intelligence will understand by the third attempt — it would be wise to concentrate very carefully on the following text, for these notes, as fragmentary as the preceding, must be discussed in detail. The centrat point is the question of the S.I. and revolutionary * power. The S.I., being ^aware of the crisis of both mass parties and of bolshevik C.C. “ elites,” must embody the supercession of both the (supércession of the mass party) and of the Nietzschean project (supercession of the intelligentsia). (a) Whenever any power has set itself up to direct revolutionary will, it has a priori undermined the power of the revolution. The bol¬ shevik Central Committee was defined as at once concentration and representation. Concentration of a power antagonistic to bourgeois power and representation of the will of the masses. This double characteristic determined that it rapidly became no more than an empty power, a power of empty representation, and that it soon rejoined in a common form (bureaucracy) bourgeois power, forced to follow a similar evolution. The conditions of concentrated power and of mass representation exist potentially in the S.l. since it monopolises the qualitative and since its ideas are in everyone's mind. Nevertheless, we refuse both concentrated power and the right of representation, conscious that we are taking the only public attitude (we cannot avoid being known to some extent in a spectacular manner) that we can give those who discover revolutionary power through our theoretical and practical positions, power without mediation, power entailing the direct action of everyone. Our guiding image could be Durruttľs brigade moving from village to village, liquidating the bourgeois elements and leaving the workers to see to their own organisation. (b) The intelligentsia is power’s hall of mirrors. Opposing power, ¥ it never offers more than cathartic identifications playing on the passivity of those whose every act reveals real dissidence. The radicalism — of gesture, obviously, not of theory — which could be glimpsed in the Committee of 100 and in the “ Declaration of the 121 ” suggests, however, a number of different possibilities. We are capable of precipitating this crisis, but only by entering the intelligentsia as a power (against the intelligentsia). This phase — which must precede and be contained within the phase described in (a) — will put us in the perspective of the Nietzschean project. We will form a small, almost alchemical, experimen¬ tal group within which the realisation of the total man can be started. Nietzsche could only conceive an undertaking of this nature within the framework of the hierarchical principle. It is, in fact, within this frame¬ work that we fnd ourselves. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we present ourselves without the slightest ambiguity (on the level 50 of the group, the purification of the centre and the elimination of residues now seem to be completed). We accept the hierarchical framework in which we are placed, waiting impatiently to abolish our domination of others, others we can only dominate on the grounds of our criteria against domination. (c) Tactically, our communication should be diffused from a centre that remains more or less occult. We will set up a non-materialised network (direct relationships, episodic contacts without ties, develop¬ ment of embryonic relations based on sympathy and understanding, in # much the same way as the red agitators before the arrival of the í revolutionary armies). We will claim as our own, through their analysis, various radical gestures (acts, writings, political attitudes, works) and we will consider that our own acts and analyses are demanded by the majority of people. In the same way as God formed the reference-point of past unitary society, we are preparing to create the central reference-point of a unitary society now possible. This point cannot be fxed. As against the ever-renewed confusion that cybernetic society draws from the past of inhumanity, it stands for the game that everyone will play, “the moving order of the future.” I

According to the situationists, a universally dominant system tending towards totalitarian self-regulation is being resisted, but only apparently, by false forms of opposition which remain trapped on the territory laid down by the system — a system which these illusions can thus only serve to rein¬ force, Bureaucratic pseudo-socialism is but the most grandiose of these guises of the old world of hierarchy and alienated labour. The developing concentration of capitalism and the diversification of its machine on a worlU scale have given rise both to the forced consumption of commodities produced in abundance, and to the control of the economy {and all of life) by bureau¬ crats who own the State ; as, similarly, to direct and indirect colonialism. But this system is far from having found the definitive answer to the incessant revolutionary crises of the historical epoch which began two centuries ago, for a new critical phase has opened: in Berkeley and in Warsaw, in the Asturias and in the Kivu, the system is refuted and combated. The situationists consider that the indivisible perspective of this opposi¬ tion is the effective abolition of all class societies, of the commodity produc¬ tion system, of wage-labour ; the transcendance of art and of all cultural acquirements, by their re-entry into play through free creation in everyday life — and, thus, their true fulfillment ; the direct fusion of revolutionary theory and practice in an experimental activity excluding the possibility of all petrification into « ideologies з> expressing the authority of experts and always in the service of autoritarian expertise. The factors put in question by this historical problem are the rapid exten¬ sion and modernisation of the fundamental contradictions within the existing system ; between the system and human desires. The social force which has an interest in — and is alone capable of — resolving these, are all those workers who are powerless over the employment of their own lives, helpless to control the fantastic accumulation of material possibilities which they produce. Such a possible resolution has already been sketched out in the model of the democratic workers council, which takes all decisions itsef. The movement required from this new proletariat for it to form itself into a class, unmediated by any leadership, is the sum of the intelligence of a world without intelligence. The situationists declare that outside the whole of this movement they have no interest. They lay down no particular principles on which to base a movement which is real, which in fact is being born before our eyes. Faced with the struggles which are beginning in various countries and over various issues, the situationists see their task as that of putting forward the whole of the problem, its coherence, its theoretical and therefore practical unity. In short, within the various phases of the overall struggle, they constantly represent the interest of thé whole movement. SHuationlst Intemiltlonal P.O. Box 491 Cooper Station N.Y.,N.Y. 10003

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