notes on the meeting of 28 April 1970

1. Another triviality that must be noted before moving on to theory: in light of what has recently happened in Italy -- an escalation carefully administered to measure the reaction of proletarians in advance of the bank robbery by the cops -- it is necessary to note that the incident on the rue d'Enghien, in which, at the right moment, the cops met up with the arsonists of the Proletarian Left, is a similar test. Parallel to the debate in progress, I propose that we prepare several thousand copies of a kind of Reichstag Burns. A sort of commentary "after the fact," to which it will be sufficient to add a post script on police provocation that will mark the distribution of our text. There is a non-negligible risk that our explication of what's happened in Italy will be too late for insertion into #13. [1]

2. Several tactical considerations:

-- It isn't necessary to resume the discussion of the editions of the different situationist books and publications. A conclusion that works for us: the image of the SI [Situationist International] in the spectacle, in publishing especially, follows a circuit of distribution upon which we have little influence and from which we are too far to even spit at. Madame Brau [2] sells better than Enrages [and Situationists in the Occupations Movement]; the Poverty [of Student life] has seen a distribution thirty times greater than of the journal. I'm not indignant that the swindlers of the Nataf type [3] have continuously republished Poverty, but perhaps it is fitting to consider if it is time for us, without lowering ourselves, to put aside purism and place a few drops of acid into the decay of the mass media. Getting published has never been a problem for us; it was a small problem [for revolutionaries] in the 19th century; Gallimard and Buchet [4] are scarcely more in touch with the true power of our epoch than a bookshop publisher who's been in the business for 70 years. When we have mastered the most modern milieu of the cinema, these relations will without doubt be most delicate. [5] It is perhaps time to pull the rug out from under the feet of Brau and all the others now planning various methods of situationist vulgarization (the comrades will understand that I want nothing at all to do with vulgarization), other editions of Poverty, situationist gimmicks in paperback; next Tuesday I will present a list for discussion.

-- Parallel to this trickle in the media, and taking account of how our actions must be absolutely unrecuperable by those up in the heavens who are too happy to pass villanous laws on our backs, we must develop specifically situationist guerrilla actions against the mass media. It is necessary to make precise our vague projects relating to TV studios, etc., in liasison with the necessity of what can quickly be called a "Strasbourg of the factory." [6]

A nota bene [7] to involve Scandinavia in the current debate or its conclusions: I'm persudaded that Martin, isolated in Scandinavia, is in the worst conditions to promote situationist subversion. The sending of a package of subsidies is a notable encouragement, but insufficient. It is remarkable that, despite an undeniable linguistic obstacle, Martin telepathically comes to the same positions as we do. The conferences of delegates [8] didn't sufficiently deal with this precise aspect of the problem. It would be desirable if one or maybe two comrades propose to Martin that he work in Denmark for severals weeks, for example, as soon as the debate in progress and #13 have been concluded, and help him bring out subsequent publications.

Note: written by "Rene-Donatien" (Rene Vienet), April 1970. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! August 2004.

Translator's notes:

[1] The situationists planned to publish a thirteenth issue of their journal L'Internationale Situationniste, but it never came out.

[2] In the wake of May 1968, Eliane Brau, ex-husband of Jean-Louis Brau, a former member of the Lettrist International, published Le Situationnisme ou la nouvelle Internationale [Situationism, or the new International]. In 1968, Jean-Louis also published an opportunistic "situationist" book, Cours, camarade, le vieux monde est derriere toi! Histoire du mouvement revolutionnaire etudiant en Europe [Run, comrade, the old world is behind you! History of the revolutionary student movement].

[3] In L'Internationale Situationniste, #11, October 1967, the SI stated:

We formally deny that the bookseller and editor Georges Nataf (26 rue des Boulangers, Paris 5e) has ever been authorized by the situationists to present himself as responsible or liable for the publication or reissue of the journal Internationale Situationniste, or any other SI text. This imposture (whose motivations we imagine to be emotional rather than economic) was sharply refuted by us in June [1967] by means of a direct intervention which could not be ignored by anyone who knows him.

[4] In 1967, Gallimard published Raoul Vaneigem's Treatise on Living for the Younger Generations and Buchet-Chastel published Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle.

[5] It is difficult to read this sentence and not think of Gerard Lebovici, to whom Guy Debord was introduced in 1971.

[6] In 1966, the SI helped a group of radical university students in Strasbourg cause a scandal, in part by donating to them a brilliant and soon widely read pamphlet entitled On the Poverty of Student Life. One imagines that a "Strasbourg of the factory" would involve the publication of a tract with a title along the lines of On the Poverty of Working for a Living.

[7] Note well, in Latin.

[8] The delegates conference of the Situationist International took place 17-19 January 1970 in Wolsfield and Trier, East Germany. The participants were J.V. Martin, Claudio Pavan, Rene Riesel, and Tony Verlaan.

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