The Ideology of Dialogue

Unattributed; translator unknown

Internationale Situationniste #10 March 1966

1. The practical rupture of the situationists with the approvers of any fragment of the present order (particularly visible with respect to those responsible for culture and the politics of submission) -- and its limit case: the exclusion of some members of the SI -- though being the most natural attitude that derives immediately from our fundamental positions, is also the worst understood; it is with regard to this that certain commentators have spread the most hostile interpretations [of the SI], to the extent of worrying half-informed people. The reality is, in this precise sense, very simple. Those who accept one or more variants of the existing false dialogue make themselves the defenders of a new kind of free exchange, in the name of an abstract right of dialogue no matter what the price (price to be paid in concessions made to the lie), and reproach us for interrupting the false dialogue. It is nevertheless in this, and nothing else, that we can be carriers of the reality of dialogue. By working through the problem of exclusion, we believe we have advanced, through experimentation, the desirable model of a nonhierarchical organization of a common project, which can only be sustained by the self-discipline of individuals, proving itself in the coherence of the theories and acts by which each can engage all the others. The unilaterality of Stirner's conceptions about the relations of the egoist and the organization that he takes and leaves according to his caprice (even if it is a carrier of a kernel of truth about that aspect of freedom) does not allow its phantom of passive and disarmed "organization" any independent base. It is an organization to attract momentarily one "egoist" only whose personal game will justly despise the coarse sociocentrism of that organization (and, in fact, the Stirnerian individual can very well enter the most reactionary association for his personal profit). But all free association -- "a bond, not a power" -- where individuals recognize each other on a common base, cannot be the passive object of one caprice. Those who do not want to play or command must reject anyone whose conduct requires their engagement. When the SI excludes someone, we do not demand of that individual an account of his [sic] life, but of ours, of the common project that he would like to falsify (for enemy goals, or by lack of discernment). Each remains free, in our eyes, for himself -- that this freedom is generally poor is another problem, without which there would not actually be any need for undertakings like the SI -- and, in giving back his own freedom to an individual who has always remained autonomous, we mean only that that autonomy has not been able to exert itself in our common project. In rejecting someone, according to the rules of the game that he was believed to have accepted, or feigned accepting, it is our own resignation that we reject.

2. We think it useful to make matters clear by extracts of two letters addressed recently to one of our correspondents in Eastern Europe.

3. (First letter.) Some of our theoretical positions (for example, about play, language, etc.) would not only risk becoming false and without value, but also would already be without value today if we held them in coexistence with dogmatism of a doctrine, whatever it may be. We think just as you do that "The freedom to go by all the unaccustomed paths" must be absolute (and not only on the artistic or theoretical plane, but in all aspects of practical life). For a thousand reasons of which the experience of the East is the most evident, we know that ideology in power makes all partial truths pass into absolute lie. . . . We are not a power in society, and thus our "exclusions" only mean our freedom to distinguish ourselves from the confusionism around us or even among us, which is much closer to that of existing social power and has the advantages of it. We have never wanted to prevent anyone from expressing his ideas or doing what he wants (and we never sought to be in a practical position to exert pressure in that sense.) We refuse only to be mixed there ourselves, against our convictions and our tastes. Note that this is all the more vital as we have almost no freedom to express our own convictions and tastes such as they really are, which, because of their character, is clearly against the current. Our "intolerance" is always a response -- very limited -- to the intolerance and the exclusion, practically solidified, that we meet everywhere, particularly among "the established intelligentsia" (considerably stronger than the ones Surrealism had to suffer) and which hardly surprises us. Just as we are not to any degree a power of control in society, we refuse to become one someday in favor of some political modification (we are in this matter partisans of radical self-management, of the workers' councils abolishing all state or even separate "theoretical" power); and we refuse to transform ourselves into any power, in the small scale that would be permitted to us now, as we do not accept enrolling disciples who would give us, at the same time as that right of control and direction over them, a greater recognized social value, but only as vulgar artistic or political ideology. . . . One cannot confuse the practical conditions of free thought here and in the East -- or, for example, in Spain. There, where nothing can be openly expressed, it is necessary to support the right of all to express themselves. But in conditions where everybody -- although through wanting, of course, to suppress this practical freedom -- must first reassert its right to existence (an "unaccustomed" path among those possible), without it being "recuperated" and distorted by the order which manifestly reigns above this apparent overt confusion and complexity, and finally even possesses the monopoly of appearance (cf. our critique of the "spectacle" in the society of consumption of abundant commodities). Finally, the reigning "tolerance" is a unique sense, and this on a planetary scale in spite of exploitation. What is tolerated, fundamentally, by the tolerant people who have the say-so, is the established power everywhere. You tell us that you live in [...] You would see in Paris how much these tolerant Leftist intellectuals [of whom you speak] are finally uncertain, understanding and also tolerant of the conditions established in [...] or Peking. They call "the sense of history" their Hegelian adhesion to what they read in the newspapers daily.

4. (Second letter) A radically different base of departure in fact restores first the truth of the libertarian attempts of the past. It is necessary to break cleanly with the old confusion; and then also with its open, or sly, or simply unconscious partisans. Evidently, it is necessary for us to bear the negative weight of the attitude that we have chosen. We have to acknowledge the negative. We are solidly in accord with you about the problem of the unity of the actual avant-garde. In fact, we open the dialogue wherever the spirit of the negative manifests itself in a radical sense, because that spirit is in itself divided by a struggle between, on the one hand, its truth, and on the other, its recuperation organized by power.



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