Several observations concerning the strategic debate

A consideration of the components of the reproach that we are "workerists" confirms what we are, the nature of our force, with whom it can be engaged, on what terrain, and the nature of our strategy.

The people who accuse us are most often students or intellectuals who (often incorrectly) consider themselves to be declasse. [1] They know and we know (with better reason) that we both belong to the same sociological category.

Besides, we know -- and they ignore -- the fact that they are declasse of their social function as students or intellectuals (as the case may be). The first trap, where the sirens sing to us as we embark upon workers' councils, is the argument that we've bet on the class that isn't ours. And so their social category, presented as a class in itself, takes over the guidance of the revolution, "being historically a class for itself." [2] In sum, we are betrayed -- worse, we have betrayed them! Amplified by power, the false songs of the sirens, which do not charm any revolutionary dialectician, burst eardrums in the most developed countries. In these countries, power can even cast slurs upon our project by blasting it, even if one doesn't have any powder to spare. It is here that the critique of the most modern ideologies (ecology and technology, the supposed liberator-in-itself) imposes itself.

Another implication is that the workers are not and don't know how to be radical enough to be revolutionaries. It is necessary for us to affirm that they can and will be the only ones to be effectively revolutionary. It is exactly here that we, not workers because of our refusal to be workers, embark on our specific critique. It is because we have exposed the material and ideological slavery of work that, socially (as well as "intellectually"), we are accustomed to "manoeuvring" the concept-tools that make clear the mechanisms of all forms of slavery. Where we have needed to theorize so as to be understood, the revolutionary movement as a whole has needed us to comprehend itself. Because our theory is truly a theory of class, it is necessary that this class [the proletariat] appropriates it so as to recognize itself.

We must elaborate (for the different countries and different phenomena: Russia, the United States, etc.) the diachronic "synthesization" (passing in review the different theses of the past) of the constant supercession needed to remain in step with the reality of revolutionary practice, so that it becomes more and more clear. [3] In sum, we are also theoreticians, who apply theory more and more closely to concrete activities. And this application is one of the best means by which theory can be effectively made known.

It will thus be necessary for us to be organizationally preoccupied with the diffusion of theory, taking into account the different stages in which the workers in different countries find themselves (as well as the differences among us). In this supercession of the SI as a group of theoreticians, it will also be necessary to be even more on-guard against specialized divisions of activities within the SI, which we've known how to limit only by eliminating those activities. Likewise, it is possible that on the outside of the SI, the GRCA [4] can establish institutional links with us while still maintaining a semblance of theoretical autonomy.

Our possibilities will be engaged and determined as a function of our numerical size on the level of the sections, and not so much on the level of the [Situationist] International, and as a function of the taste that each one has for this practice. [5] The beginning of the realization of this new perspective of the theoretico-practical ensemble can and must increase our taste for unhindered life.

Note: written by Tony Verlaan, no date (April 1970?). Translated from the French by NOT BORED! August 2004.

Translator's notes (except where noted):

[1] People who have been socially downgraded or reduced to low (class) status: de-classed.

[2] Author's footnote: The bad smells appear persistently in the period of lethargic delay of class consciousness in relation to its own material necessities and the abundance of their possible satisfactions. Thus, in the 1928-1933 period, a certain Kooymans (the first author to be published by Boucher) -- the master thinker of the Provos, via certain interposed persons -- advanced the following hypothesis: theoretically, it is impossible for the proletariat to survive, not to mention take power, insofar as the victorious class (as it was called by Marxists of the era) has tied the existence of the proletariat to that of the other classes. The bourgeoisie that emerged on the shoulders of the proletariat must work together with it, but also must take power from it. From that time on, there's a categorical rejection of "Marxism." -- In a era of overproduction and simultaneous unemployment, the proletariat makes no effort (same for consciousness? on the contrary) to appropriate its own products. Meanwhile, the "declasse," that is to say, the artists, petty truants, lumpenproletariat and some unemployed people, start protesting and detourning goods. As a result, some have concluded that the declasse, in addition to the class that carrys the consciousness of the entirety of humanity, are the only ones capable of making the revolution. This position is reprised in different variants by Contemporary Issues, Bookchin, Confrontations. The apparent reasonableness of this position was reinforced by various Laborites, Stakhanovists, racists, et al, who assured the workers that they should be as opposed to the declasse with the same tenacity that they opposed bourgeois ideology. In different versions, this theory plays well now in the presentation of power in countries such as Holland and the United States as a completely reunited humanity. Thus, the class struggle was skipped over. On the one hand, it is a question of the ideology of liberated technology (para-Stalinist), which, according to its various adepts, decided upon the end of class struggle because the growing use of technology would inevitably be just in the quantities its produces. On the other hand, ecology -- counting on pollution and the exhaustion of the environment to force the entirety of humanity to choose between adopting other techniques of production (thereby assuring changes in the mode of production and, consequently, in social organization) or perishing altogether -- proposes a series of models of social organization (communes, cleaned towns) that involve good applications of technology and science. Here a critique of technology and science is quite necessary.

[3] Author's footnote: The practice of theory in the American section [of the SI], including its last crisis, suffices to put us on our guard. The style in which their ideas (good enough, without being too original) were received is symptomatic of the differences in taste. The terrain on which this theory was practiced demonstrates the difference in taste where it matters to us: the taste for theory. Forgetting that we are nothing and that it is due to the taste for life that we make theory, the Americans have tried to believe that they were something insofar as they were theoreticians. The polemic they staged between theoreticians such as [Marshal] McLuhan, [Otto] Lundt and [Herbert] Marcuse merely puts them in their presence and thereby measures them [as theorists]. It is important to see why the Americans' cantonized practice of theory was their reason and excuse for the absence of all real practice of situationist theory as a daily practice relating to the revolutionary movement. This was an absence that placed them on the side of the ICO [Information et Correspondance Ouvrieres]. The class struggle theoretically recovered in the SI wasn't recognized in its reality, in the same way that the erroneous evolution of their contestation (made all the more complex by the delay in the reaction to the infrastructure) didn't facilliate the operation. It was a question of recognizing the true moments of the opposition movement, of which the consciousness is largely false and the practice is relatively backward; it was a question of conceiving things in a perspective of the totality, so that false oppositions could be superceded in the true class struggle. Neglecting the reality of class struggle, the Americans defended, in obscurity, the theoretical positions that became a kind of refuge for them. Their "we organize all" became all the more urgent when it was their only practical activity.

[4] Groupe Revolutionnaire Conseilliste d'Agitations (GRCA) was a French pro-situ group.

[5] Author's footnote: The two aren't without relation. As demonstrated by the experiences of the American and Danish sections [of the SI], it is very difficult to have theoretico-practical autonomy when there are only one or two people involved.

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