Situationist International

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The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, prominent in Europe from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972. The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism.

Quotes[edit]

  • The shattering of modern culture is the result, on the plane of ideological struggle, of the chaotic crisis of these antagonisms. The new desires that are taking shape are presented in distorted form: present-day resources could enable them to be fulfilled, but the anachronistic economic structure is incapable of developing these resources to such ends. Ruling-class ideology has meanwhile lost all coherence because of the depreciation of its successive conceptions of the world (a depreciation which leads the ruling class to historical indecision and uncertainty); because of the coexistence of a range of mutually contradictory reactionary ideologies (such as Christianity and social-democracy); and because of the mixing into contemporary Western culture of a number of only recently appreciated features of several foreign civilizations. The main goal of ruling-class ideology is therefore to maintain this confusion.
    • Guy Debord (1957), Report on the Construction of Situations.
  • We must call attention, among the workers parties or the extremist tendencies within those parties, to the need to undertake an effective ideological action in order to combat the emotional influence of advanced capitalist methods of propaganda. On every occasion, by every hyper-political means, we must publicize desirable alternatives to the spectacle of the capitalist way of life, so as to destroy the bourgeois idea of happiness. At the same time, taking into account the existence, within the various ruling classes, of elements that have always tended (out of boredom and thirst for novelty) toward things that lead to the disappearance of their societies, we should incite the persons who control some of the vast resources that we lack to provide us with the means to carry out our experiments, out of the same motives of potential profit as they do with scientific research.
    • Guy Debord (1957), Report on the Construction of Situations. Our Immediate Tasks

Situationist International Anthology (1981)[edit]

  • The accumulation of production and of over-improving technological capabilities is proceeding even faster than nineteenth-century communism predicted. But we have remained at a stage of superequipped prehistory. A century of revolutionary attempts has failed: human life has not been rationalized and impassioned; the project of a classless society has not yet been achieved. We have entered a never-ending growth of material means that remains at the service of fundamentally static interests, and therefore at the service of values everyone recognizes as long dead. The spirit of the dead weighs very heavily on the technology of the living. The economic planning that reigns everywhere is insane, not so much because os its academic obsession with organizing the enrichment of the years to come as because of the rotten blood of the past that circulates through its veins and is endlessly pumped forth with each artificial pulsation of this "heart of a heartless world."
    • "Ideologies, Classes and the Domination of Nature", pp.101
  • If someone thinks that a hierarchical bureaucracy can be a revolutionary power, and also agrees that mass tourism as it is globally organized by the society of the spectacle is a good thing and a pleasure, then, like Sartre, he can pay a visit to China or somewhere else. His error, his stupidity and his lies shouldn't surprise anyone.
    • ibid, pp. 103
  • The old schema of the contradiction between productive forces and production relations should certainly no longer be understood as a short-term death warrant for capitalist production, as if the latter were doomed to automatically stagnate and become incapable of continuing its development. This contradiction must be construed as a judgment (which remains to be executed with the appropriate weapons) against this self-regulating production's niggardly and dangerous development, in view of the grandiose 'possible development that could be based on the present economic infrastructure.
    • ibid, pp. 104
  • Ideology, in its various fluid forms that have replaced the solid mythical system of the past, has an increasingly large role to play as the specialist rulers need to increasingly regulate all aspects of an expanding production and consumption.
    • ibid, pp.105
  • The accelerated degradation of cultural ideology has given rise to a permanent crisis in this intellectual and artistic valorization, a crisis that dadaism brought out into the open. A dual movement has clearly characterized this end of culture: on one hand, the dissemination of false novelties automatically recycled with new packaging by autonomous spectacular mechanisms; and on the other hand, the public refusal to play along and the sabotage carried out by individuals who were clearly among those who would have been most capable of renewing "quality" cultural production.
    • ibid, 107
  • It is the merit of Jacques Ellul, in his book Propaganda (A. Colin, 1962), which describes the unity of the various forms of conditioning, to have shown that this advertising-propaganda is not merely an unhealthy excrescence that could be prohibited, but is at the same time a remedy in a generally sick society, a remedy that makes the sickness tolerable while aggravating it. People are to a great extent accomplices of propaganda, of the reigning spectacle, because they cannot reject it without contesting the society as a whole.
    • ibid, pp.105

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