Discontent in Civilization

concerning the conviction of the situationist Uwe Lausen

We are still only an avant-garde: others will arrive. We are the nightmare that the sleep of culture will no longer be able to get rid of. -- Declaration of 25 June on the trial of the SI in Federal [West] Germany.[1]

Munich, 25 June [1962] (Associated Press) -- On Saturday, for the third consecutive night, several thousand young people confronted the forces of order in the Schwabing neighborhood. Groups of hooligans and students have covered the streets, overturning stationary cars. . . . At the end of the riot, there were forty injured people, seven of whom were police officers, and nineteen arrests. In three days, a total of seventy-eight young people have been arrested. -- Le Monde, 26 June 1962.

On 25 June, a declaration published by the SI drew attention to the verdict that would soon be rendered in the trial in Munich of Uwe Lausen for his participation in diverse publications by the German section of the Situationist International.

On 5 July, Uwe Lausen was sentenced to three weeks of imprisonment. In the official charges, he was accused, among other injuries to diverse aspects of society, of outrages upon "the honor of God" -- this is, without doubt, something to think about! -- and upon public morality.

While the previous trial in Munich only ended in suspended jail sentences for the convicted persons, Uwe Lausen is the first situationist to be imprisoned for his ideas. Considering that the law required a sentence of one year in a prison for minors, the verdict actually constitutes a relative victory for the defense.

We thank all of the individuals and groups that affirmed their solidarity with Uwe Lausen in this affair. The support in his favor, outside of Germany, was particularly active in the zone of the Scandanavian section of the SI, as well as in Antwerp.

Among the considerations on this astonishing form of justice, perhaps one can also take into account the consciences of the judges, some of whom are strange, even in terms of conventional bourgeois justice. Their verdict came at roughly the same time that world opinion learned that around two hundred members of the German judiciary were forced into early retirement because they had been elite workers among Nazi tribunals and were champions of the world of speedy convictions, in which they defended the "honor" of the Hitlerian gods.

The "discontent in civilization" of which Freud spoke has spread surprisingly far in thirty years, from the old death camps to the current contours of life in the shadow of death.[2] One now knows that it raises [the need for] a new psychoanalysis. We will show the latent content of the new rebels' demonstrations -- which are on track to discover their cause ("the situationists will execute the judgment that diversions pronounce against themselves," I.S. #1).

The prosecutor in Munich who speaks so easily of "sending all this riffraff back to the caves from which they came" will not have an easy task. In other words, he has not heard the last from us.

For the SI,
Debord, Vaneigem

[1] French text signed by Michele Bernstein (France), J.V. Martin (Denmark), Alexander Trocchi (Great Britain), and Raoul Vaneigem (Belgium).

[2] In the first volume of his Critique of Everyday life (1947), Henri Lefebvre wrote: "The intermediaries between our towns and the concentration camps are numerous: the food fed to miners, the hovels of provisionary villages for workers, the villages for colonial workers. . . . These connections aren't the only ones! They are also in the most somber experiences of the tragic [...] that come to reveal the essence of our everyday life, the most banal everyday life. Do they understand, those who haven't looked around themselves? Do they see the towns and 'modern' life in the cruel light of the concentration camps?" [Note by NOT BORED!: the connection between our towns and the concentration camps would also be made by the SI in "The Geopolitics of Hibernation" (1962) and "Basic Banalities, part 2" (1962), as well as in the film version of The Society of the Spectacle (1973).]

(Published as a tract in Germany [16 July 1962], then reprinted in Denmark, in Situationistisk Revolution #1 [October 1962]. Both versions were entitled Das Unbehagen in der Kultur [Discontent in Culture] as an apparent detourement of Sigmund Freud's Civilization and its Discontents. Cf. in Internationale Situationniste #8 [January 1963], p. 64. Translated by NOT BORED! June 2005 from the French version published in Archives Situationnistes: Volume 1: Documents traduits 1958-1970. Footnotes by the editor of Archives Situationniste, except where noted.)

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