Internationale situationniste

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La revue Internationale situationniste est l’expression d’un groupe international de théoriciens qui, dans les dernières années, a entrepris une critique radicale de la société moderne : critique de ce qu’elle est réellement, et critique de tous ses aspects.

Selon les situationnistes, un modèle social
universellement dominant, qui tend à l’autorégulation totalitaire, n’est qu’apparemment combattu par de fausses contestations posées en permanence sur son propre terrain, illusions qui, au contraire, renforcent ce modèle. Le pseudo-socialisme bureaucratique n’est que le plus grandiose de ces déguisements du vieux monde hiérarchique du travail aliéné. Le développement de la concentration capitaliste, et la diversification de son fonctionnement à l’échelle mondiale, ont produit aussi bien la consommation forcée de l’abondance des marchandises, que le contrôle de l’économie et de toute la vie par des bureaucrates à travers leur possession de l’État ; ou le colonialisme direct ou indirect. Bien loin d’être la réponse définitive aux crises révolutionnaires incessantes de l’époque historique ouverte depuis deux siècles, ce système est maintenant entré dans une nouvelle crise : de Berkeley à varsovie, des Asturies au Kivu, il est réfuté et combattu.

Les situationnistes considèrent que la perspective indivisible de cette lutte, c’est l’abolition effective de toute société de classes, avec la production marchande et le salariat : le dépassement de l’art et de toutes les acquisitions culturelles, remis en jeu dans la création
libre de la vie quotidienne, et de la sorte réalisés ; la fusion directe de la théorie et de la pratique révolutionnaires dans une activité expérimentale excluant toute pétrification en des «idéologies», qui sont l’autorité de la spécialisation servant toujours une spécialisation de l’autorité.

Les facteurs qui posent ce problème historique, ce sont l’expansion et la modernisation rapides des contradictions fondamentales à l’intérieur du système existant ; entre ce système et les désirs humains. Les forces qui ont intérêt à le résoudre, et qui en ont seules la capacité, ce sont tous les travailleurs sans pouvoir sur l’emploi de leur propre vie, sans contrôle sur l’accumulation fantastique des possibilités matérielles qu’ils produisent. La
démocratie des Conseils ouvriers, décidant seule de tout, est le modèle déjà esquissé de cette résolution. Le mouvement de ce nouveau prolétariat pour se constituer en classe, sans la médiation d’aucune direction, est toute l’intelligence d’un monde sans intelligence. Les situationnistes déclarent qu’ils n’ont pas d’intérêts séparés de ceux de ce mouvement tout entier. Ils n’établissent pas des principes particuliers sur lesquels ils voudraient modeler un mouvement qui est réel, qui se produit effectivement sous nos yeux. Dans les luttes qui commencent en plusieurs pays et sur diverses questions, les situationnistes mettent en avant la totalité du problème, sa cohérence, son unification théorique et donc pratique. Enfin, dans les diverses phases que traverse cette lutte générale, ils représentent constamment l’intérêt du mouvement total.

Ce texte de présentation du mouvement situationniste a paru en anglais à la fin de la brochure The Decline and the Fall of the “spectacular” commodity-economy et en français sur l’affiche des Luttes de classes en Algérie, toutes deux publiées en 1965 comme supplément du numéro 10 de la revue Internationale situationniste.


Internationale situationniste (1958-69)
Van Gennep - Amsterdam




Internationale situationniste est la revue de la section française de l’Internationale situationniste. Elle exprime la pensée, la pratique et les méthodes d’une organisation révolutionnaire qui, ces dernières années, a entrepris une critique radicale de la société de classe moderne — de ce qu’elle est véritablement et de ce qu’elle implique.

Le scandale de l’université de Strasbourg (décembre 1966) et l’agitation menée à Nanterre par le groupe des Enragés (janvier-mai 1968) ont convaincu nombre de commentateurs de l’influence et du rôle des situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations, la grande crise révolutionnaire de mai 68. L’Internationale situationniste a apporté les preuves de sa théorie dans la pratique, lorsque le premier Comité d’occupation de la Sorbonne puis le Conseil pour le maintien des occupations se sont constitués comme plate-forme de travailleurs en lutte contre leurs syndicats et de blousons noirs politisés — Marx et Bakounine enfin réconciliés.

Selon les situationnistes, le système qui domine universellement et tend à l’autorégulation totalitaire est contesté, mais seulement en apparence, par de fausses formes d’opposition qui restent prisonnières du terrain défini par le système — système que ces illusions ne peuvent ainsi que servir à renforcer.

Le pseudo-socialisme bureaucratique constitue le plus grandiose de ces déguisements du vieux monde de la hiérarchie et du travail aliéné. La concentration croissante du capitalisme et la diversification mondiale de son fonctionnement ont engendré et la consommation forcée des marchandises produites en abondance et le contrôle de l’économie (et de toute la vie) par les bureaucrates qui possèdent l’État ; ainsi que le colonialisme direct et indirect. Pourtant, ce système est loin d’avoir trouvé la réponse définitive aux incessantes crises révolutionnaires de l’époque historique ouverte il y a deux siècles et qui est entrée dans une nouvelle phase critique : à Paris et à Kiruna, à Prague et au Limbourg, à Battipaglia et en URSS.

L’I.S. considère que la perspective indivisible de cette opposition doit être l’abolition réelle de toutes les sociétés de classes, du système de production marchand, du travail salarié ; le dépassement de l’art et de la culture par leur remise en jeu dans la libre création de la vie quotidienne — et donc leur réalisation même ; la fusion directe de la théorie et de la pratique révolutionnaires dans une activité expérimentale excluant toute possibilité de pétrification en «idéologies» qui traduisent l’autorité de spécialistes et sont toujours au service de la spécialisation autoritaire.

Les facteurs mis en cause par ce problème historique sont l’extension et la modernisation rapides des contradictions fondamentales du système existant ; entre le système et les désirs humains. La force sociale qui a intérêt à les résoudre —et en est seule capable —, ce sont tous ces travailleurs qui n’ont aucun pouvoir sur l’emploi de leur vie et n’exercent aucun contrôle sur l’accumulation fantastique des possibilités matérielles qu’ils produisent.

La possible résolution de ces contradictions a déjà été ébauchée dans la forme des conseils démocratiques de travailleurs, assemblées générales de base souveraines, qui élisent des délégués pour la réalisation de tâches déterminées — délégués révocables à tout moment. Le mouvement qui, à cette fin, requiert du nouveau prolétariat qu’il se constitue en classe — non médiatisée par quelque direction que ce soit — contient toute l’intelligence d’un monde sans intelligence.

Les situationnistes affirment qu’ils n’ont pas d’intérêts différents de ce mouvement. Ils ne posent pas de principes particuliers sur lesquels modeler un mouvement qui est réel, qui est en fait en train de naître sous nos yeux. Face aux luttes qui éclatent dans de nombreuses régions et sur des questions diverses, les situationnistes se sont fixé pour tâche de montrer le problème dans sa totalité, sa cohérence, son unité théorique et par conséquent pratique. Bref, dans les diverses phases de la lutte, ils représentent toujours l’intérêt du mouvement dans son ensemble.

Texte du prospetus (1970) annonçant la réédition des douze numéros d’Internationale situationniste chez l’éditeur hollandais Van Gennep.
Traduit de l’anglais par Luc Mercier, Archives situationnistes - vol. 1 - Documents traduits (1958-1970).
Une première version de ce texte, plus courte, avait été publiée à la suite de The Decline and The Fall of The “Spectacular” Commodity-Economy (décembre 1965), puis une deuxième, peu différente de celle proposée ici, dans Situationist International no 1 (juin 1969).


Summary of 1965

The journal Internationale Situationniste is the expression of an international group of theoreticians who, in the last few years, have undertaken a radical critique of modern society: a critique of what it really is and a critique of all of its aspects.

According to the situationists, a universally dominant social model, which tends towards totalitarian self-regulation, is only apparently combatted by false contestations permanently posed on its own terrain, by illusions that, on the contrary, reinforce this model. Bureaucratic pseudo-socialism is only the most grandiose of these disguises of the old hierarchical world of alienated labor. The development of capitalist concentration, and the diversification of its function at the global level, have produced the forced consumption of the abundance of commodities, as well as the control of the economy and all of life by bureaucrats, through their possession of the State; or direct or indirect colonialism. Quite far from being the definitive response to the incessant revolutionary crises of the historical era begun two centuries ago, this system has now entered into a new crisis: from Berkeley to Varsovie, from the Asturians to Kivu, it is refuted and combatted.

The situationists believe that the indivisible perspective of this struggle is the actual abolition of all of class society, commodity production and the salariat: the supercession of art and all cultural acquisitions, put in play in the free creation of everyday life, thus realized; the direct fusion of revolutionary theory and practice in an experimental activity that excludes all petrification into “ideologies,” which are the authorities of specialization always in the service of the specialization of authority.

The factors that pose this historical problem are the rapid expansion and modernization of fundamental contradictions at the interior of the existing system; between this system and human desires. The forces that have an interest in resolving these contradictions, and that are the only ones with the capacity to do so, are all of the workers who have no power over the use of their own lives and no control of the fantastic accumulation of the material possibilities that they produce. The democracy of Workers’ Councils, deciding everything by themselves, is the already-begun model of this resolution. The movement of this new proletariat to constitute itself as a class, without the mediation of any management, is the intelligence of a world without intelligence. The situationists declare that they do not have interests separate from those of this movement in its entirety. They do not establish particular principles on which they would like to model a movement that is real, that is actually producing itself before our eyes. In the struggles that are beginning in several countries and on diverse questions, the situationists put forth the totality of the problem, its coherence, its theoretical and thus practical unification. Finally, in the diverse phases that traverse this general struggle, they constantly represent the interests of the total movement.

Written in French by Guy Debord, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith and printed at the end of the English version of Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Society and on the poster version The Class Struggles in Algeria. This translation from the French by NOT BORED!


In Short (Two Summaries of Situationist Perspectives)

— I —

Internationale Situationniste is the journal of a group of theorists who over the last few years have undertaken a radical critique of modern society — a critique of what it really is and of all its aspects.

As the situationists see it, a universally dominant social system, tending toward totalitarian self-regulation, is only apparently being combatted by false forms of opposition — illusory forms that remain trapped on the system’s own terrain and thus only serve to reinforce it. Bureaucratic pseudosocialism is only the most grandiose of these disguises of the old world of hierarchy and alienated labor. The developing concentration of capitalism and the diversification of its global operation have given rise, on one hand, to the forced consumption of commodities produced in abundance, and on the other, to the control of the economy (and all of life) by bureaucrats who own the state; as well as to direct and indirect colonialism. But this system is far from having found a permanent solution to the incessant revolutionary crises of the historical epoch that began two centuries ago, for a new critical phase has opened: from Berkeley to Warsaw, from the Asturias to the Kivu, the system is being refuted and combatted.

The situationists consider that this opposition implicitly requires the real abolition of all class societies, of commodity production and of wage labor; the supersession of art and all cultural accomplishments by their reentry into play through free creation in everyday life — and thus their true fulfillment; and the direct fusion of revolutionary theory and practice in an experimental activity that precludes any petrification into “ideologies,” which reflect the authority of specialists and which always serve the specialization of authority.

The factors involved in this historical problem are the rapid extension and modernization of the fundamental contradictions within the present system, and between that system and human desires. The social force that has an interest in resolving these contradictions — and the only force that is capable of resolving them — is the mass of workers who are powerless over the use of their own lives, deprived of any control over the fantastic accumulation of material possibilities that they produce. Such a resolution has already been prefigured in the emergence of democratic workers councils that make all decisions for themselves. The only intelligent venture within the present imbecilized world is for this new proletariat to carry out this project by forming itself into a class unmediated by any leadership.

The situationists declare that they have no interest outside the whole of this movement. They lay down no particular principles on which to base a movement which is real, a movement which is being born before our very eyes. Faced with the struggles that are beginning in various countries over various issues, the situationists see their task as putting forward the whole of the problem, elucidating its coherence, its theoretical and therefore practical unity. In short, within the various phases of the overall struggle they constantly represent the interest of the whole movement.

Situationist International, December 1965


— II —

The only reason the situationists do not call themselves “communists” is so as not to be confused with the cadres of pro-Soviet or pro-China antiworker bureaucracies, remnants of the great revolutionary failure that ultimately extended the universal dictatorship of the economy and the state.

The situationists do not constitute a particular party in competition with other self-styled “working-class” parties.

The situationists refuse to reproduce internally the hierarchical conditions of the dominant world. They denounce everywhere the specialized politics of the bosses of hierarchical groups and parties, who base the oppressive force of their delusory future class power on the organized passivity of their militants.

The situationists do not put forward any ideological principles on which to model and thus direct the movement of proletarians. They consider that up till now revolutionary ideology has only changed hands; the point is to dissolve it by opposing it with revolutionary theory.

The situationists are the most radical current of the proletarian movement in many countries, the current that constantly pushes forward. Seeking to clarify and coordinate the scattered struggles of revolutionary proletarians, they help to draw out the implications of their actions. Striving to maintain the highest degree of international revolutionary consciousness, with the new theoretical critique they have been able to predict everywhere the return of the modern revolution. They are feared not for the power they hold, but for the use they make of it.

The situationists have no interests separate from the interests of the proletariat as a whole. They expect everything and have nothing to fear from so-called “excesses,” which reflect the critical profundity of the new era and the positive richness of the liberated everyday life that is emerging.

In all the present struggles the situationists constantly bring to the forefront the project of abolishing “everything that exists separately from individuals” as the decisive issue for the movement working to negate the existing society.

The situationists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their only interest and only goal is a social revolution going to the point where all powers are concentrated in an international federation of workers councils, the power of everyone over all aspects of everyday life — over all aspects of the economy, of the society, and of history. The point is therefore not to modify private or state property, but to abolish it; not to mitigate class differences, but to abolish classes; not to “improve” the present society, but to create a new society; not to achieve some partial success that would give rise to a new division, but to thoroughly reject every new disguise of the old world.

The situationists have no doubt that the only possible program of modern revolution necessarily entails the formation of councils of all the workers, who by developing a clear awareness of all their enemies will become the sole power.

Revolutionaries are now turning their attention especially to Italy, because Italy is on the eve of a general uprising toward social revolution.

Italian Section of the Situationist International, November 1969

The first text was appended to the first edition of The Class Struggles in Algeria (a poster distributed clandestinely in Algeria in 1965). On a few later occasions it was separately reprinted by the SI, sometimes with minor variations (e.g. citing different examples of current struggles in subsequent years).
The second text appeared as an appendix in the pamphlet Avviso al proletariato italiano sulle possibilità presenti della rivoluzione sociale (1969). The above version incorporates a few lines that were added in a reprinting the following year.
These translations by Ken Knabb are from the Situationist International Anthology (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006).


The Situationist International

The universally dominant social system, which tends toward totalitarian self-regulation, is far from having found the definitive answer to the incessant revolutionary crises of the historical epoch which began two centuries ago. A new critical phase has opened. But the system is also being resisted by false forms of opposition which remain trapped on the territory of the system itself — a system which these illusions can thus only serve to reinforce.

The situationists consider that the indivisible perspective of the opposition is the effective abolition of class society, commodity production, and wage-labor; the direct fusion of theory and practice in an activity which excludes the possibility of all petrification into ideologies (mystifications).

The factors put in question by this historical problem are the rapid extension and modernization 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, is made of those who are powerless over the employment of their own lives and know it, 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. The movement required from the proletariat for it to form itself into a class, unmediated by leadership, is the sum of the intellegence of a world without intellegence. The situationists declare that outside the whole of this movement they have no interest. Faced with the struggles wich are beginning in various countries and over various elemts, the situationists see their task as that of putting forward the whole of the problem, its coherence, its theoretical and therefore practical unity.
*
The S.I., being aware of the crisis of both mass parties and of “elites,” must embody the supersession of both the Bolshevik Central Committee (supersession of the mass party) and of the Nietzschean project (supersession of the intellegentsia).

Whenever any power has set itself up to direct revolutionary will, it has a priori undermined the power of the revolution. The Bolshevik 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 intellegentsia is power’s hall of mirrors. Opposing power, it never offers more than cathartic identification playing on the passivity of those whose every act reveals real dissidence. We are capable of precipitating its crisis, but only by entering the intellegentsia as a power (against the intelligentsia).
*
Since the only purpose of a revolutionary organisation* is the abolition of all existing classes in a way that does not bring about a new division of society, we consider an organisation revolutionary which pruposefully pursues the international realization of the absolute power of the workers councils. That power has been outlined in the experience of the proletarian revolutions of this century — Russia 1905, Kronstadt 1921, Asturias 1934, Spanish revolution 1936. It is power without mediators.

Such an organization makes a unitary critique of the world, or is nothing. By unitary critique is understood a total critique of all geographic areas where various forms of separate socio-economic powers exist, as well as a critique of all aspects of life.

Such an organization sees the beginning and end of its own program in the complete decolonization, the complete liberation of daily life. It aims not at the self-management by the masses of the existing world but at its uninterrupted transformation.

Such an organization embodies the radical critique of political economy, the transcendance of commodity and wage-labor. It refuses to reproduce within itself any of the hierarchical conditions prevailing in the world that dominates us. The only limit to participating in its total democracy is that each member ecognize and appropriate for himself the coherence of its critique. The coherence has to be both in the critical theory and in the relationship between the theory and practical activity. The aim is theoretico-practice. A revolutionary organization radically criticizes every ideology as separate power of ideas and as ideas of separate power. It is at the same time the negation of any leftovers from religion and of the prevailing social spectacle which, from news-media to mass culture, monopolizes communication between men around their unilateral reception of the images of their alienated activity. The organization dissolves any “revolutionary ideology” by revealing it to be signs of the failure of the revolutionary project, as the private property of new specialists of power, as the imposture of a new representation which erects itself above the real proletarianized life.

The category of totality, of the global critique, is the last judgement of the revolutionary organization, so the organization is, in the end, a critique of politics: it must aim explicitely through its victory at the dissolution of itself as a separate organization.

* Minimum Definition of Revolutionary Organizations, adopted at the 7th Conference of the S.I. in July 1966 and reissued by the Comité Enragés-Internationale Situationniste during May 1968. In June, it was translated and distributed here by the S.I. and the Council for the Liberation of Daily Life.

Situationist International #1, June 1969
Situationist International Online.

Publié dans Debordiana

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