notes for the meeting of 19 May 1970

1. To make my modest contribution to the orientation debate of the SI [Situationist International], which most particularly interests the French section, because of its numerical superiority, and in the "examination" of the participation of all, I would like to support several ideas in the last text by Rene [Riesel], which definitely pose the problem in its simple truth. Since it is necessary to write nothing other than what we are, and especially never to be on the other side of what we have already written (to fail on both counts would be like Lukacs writing Methodical Remarks on the Question of Organization), I think that Rene [Riesel] had good reason when he said, "We need to define the minimum situationist practical-style." I believe that the first step to superceding the past and present conditions is the analysis (quick but precise) of what we have done in this period (that is to say: from the publication of #12 and the eighth Conference [1], to now). In his texts of 5 May and 12 May [1970], Rene-Donatien [Vienet] summarizes quite well what we have done: "Our public life, though we haven't exactly been refugees in the desert, has been non-existent since #12"; "a danger lying in wait for us is the realization that, in the French section, there have been two theoreticians and other situationists who have in a certain way been their heralds of arms." Here is what must now be changed. The practice of the last period lays the blame on Rene [Riesel] when he wrote (text of 18 April 1970, point 5) that the "taste for theory and the practice of theory" was "the base" of "our objective community of taste." But Rene had reason to say so, because the practice of theory must be, or at least it must become so effectively and quickly. I don't know "if Rene-Donatien [Vienet] is up to superceding the stage of jaded participation," if Francois [de Beaulieu] has not been "limited . . . to the writing of letters to Spanish readers," if "Christian can supercede his condition as poet of the murals," but I do know that it is in the SI that this can be determined, because in the SI the truth is always verified. In two words, we are theoreticians and hoodlums; but it is necessary that we are at first theoreticians so as to be hoodlums who "apply theory more and more closely to concrete activities." Thus, in the same sense that the councils will be the place in which people can become intelligent, the SI is the place in which all the comrades can -- and should -- make good use of their intelligence and all of their other capacities (the case of Alain [Chevalier] is, on this subject, very significant. Among other things, he admitted the fact that he could improve himself better and more quickly among us than outside of us. This obviously insufficient claim, if it is unique, nevertheless contains a large part of truth. If Alain can't improve himself it is surely his fault, but we must consider our responsibility to the extent that we haven't verified this "non-improvement" or its correction, since his fault has been sanctioned on the field. -- We must not forget that "practical deficiencies" in a situationist are the most serious symptom, because such deficiencies aren't anything other than a bad use of intelligence, in the best cases, or the simplistic use of intelligence, in the worst). The problem isn't that one could be better given a little time, luck, health, money, but that one gets better without time, luck, etc.

2. In the debate that's opened and that announces a new era for the SI, it appears that the consciousness of what we are must always be above our image of ourselves. This image must cease to be an image, even in the spectacle. In this sense, we can also verify the reaffirmation of our specificity when we have precipitated the disaster in which one will recognize the situationists.

3. In my opinion, the perspective of this "verification" can begin to play its role in the immediate struggle against situationism. If recuperation can ideologize radical critique by trying more and more to make it a commodity, this is because radical critique banalizes itself at the speed of modern alienation. It is necessary to make known the price of recuperation (proposition: Paolo [Salvadori] and I think that it would be desirable to make known "this price" to De Donato before the publication of #2 Italian).[2]

4. Several words on the already numerous propositions and off-hand themes in the previous texts, presented in order of importance -- which without doubt will be followed by others.

-- #13. [3] A short note on what's rubbish but hasn't been placed somewhere (in "cultural decomposition," for example). The last notification [we make] to those readers who must keep from pissing all over themselves while reading the I.S. must be a text that is foul for such people: perhaps we will see people throwing the journal into the gutter after only reading the first few lines.

-- The Manifesto. [4] I agree with Rene [Riesel] on point 7 of his text of 18 April 1970 on the definition of its violence and "prophecy." But it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that it isn't certain that the "Manifesto" will be "supported by a sort of Strasbourg of the factories." [5] It is necessary to take this into consideration. If the workers don't come to us (that is to say, to themselves), one doesn't look so good. Also, it won't be necessary to be tender with those discussed by Raoul [Vaneigem] (March 1970): "it is shameful that those who dispose of the real means of revolution don't use it or use it badly."

-- The cinema, "urgent" form of our theoretico-practical activity (for the same reason as Donatien [Rene Vienet] "situationism now in the mix" -- now that [Jean-Luc] Godard has begun to put wine into his water). Perhaps it will be good to write several theses, even without publishing them. Paolo had several questions to pose; I think that he isn't the only one.

-- The collection of our quotations. It will also be necessary to recapitulate all that we have written about the councils (in the I.S., Treatise [on Living for the Younger Generations] and especially in [The Society of the] Spectacle).

-- The handbills. The advantage is that the text can be long enough. I think that these handbills simply have to be very shocking.

One must now act to bring an end to the era of those who show us an acorn and want to see an oaktree.

Note: written by Christian Sebastiani, 17 May 1970, Milan, Italy. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! August 2004.

Translator's notes:

[1] Internationale Situationniste #12 was published September 1969, the same month that the VIIIth Conference of the SI was convened in Venice, Italy.

[2] Internazionale Situationista #1 (review of the Italian section of the Situationist International) was published in Milan, Italy, July 1969. A second one was never published.

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

[4] The situationists planned to write and publish a "Situationist Manifesto" modeled on Marx & Engel's "Communist Manifesto" (1848), but never did.

[5] 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.

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