On Gilles Dauvé and the Situationist International

libert_hotel_ville_paris_commune_ruines_1871

ghosts of the future ruin

This article is available as a pdf here. I hope to publish a follow up in the near future in which I will critically examine Gilles Dauvé’s and Bruno Astarian’s critique of Marx’s value theory.

Critical notes on Gilles Dauvé
& the Situationist International

Anthony Hayes

1. If we have learnt one thing about past struggles it is about how we are more or less consciously caught up in their betrayal. The return of the repressed gives way to the return of repression—more and less refined sublimations to which we submit or are submitted. May 1968 is fifty years in the past this year, as far away from us as the October Revolution was from those that made it up. And yet the questions they faced are both less aged and longer lived than those of us born at that time. The task is to do away with this old world of alienations, of its despair as well as its prayers of salvation. The past is littered with our glorious failures, the petrol fumes of barricades, the sweat of collectives, the corpses of public works and pollution, the rigorous abstractions and tocsin for practice and theory. The present world is a sketch for the barbarism by which capitalism falls. Between here and the future we can still dream of supersession, of the how-to of revolutionary negation that remains both the most pressing, and the furthest from our experience. Into this present falls the question of what replaces this epochal unity of design and entropy, what is the form and content of this new world espied, drowsily.

2. Were the International Situationists right to call for workers councils amidst the struggles against work that erupted in the late 1960s? Is this a dead argument, mere historiography? Or do we misapprehend its ongoing significance? The Situationists, more than their contemporaries, forcefully updated Marx’s notion of alienation. Their early suggestion was that urban games and play offered a better insight into life after the revolution. Their suggestion soon became a pointed rejection of wage labour as work under modern, spectacular conditions. Like Marx, they posed that the road of dis-alienation must follow that of alienation. In the experiences of revolutionary councils of the previous half century the Situationists found a world beyond work. For the SI the festivities of rebellion were surer guides to life than the alien mundane of wages and conditions.

3. “I must confess that things continue as ever.” (Hegel).[1] The refusal of life as it is presently organised, characterises, to different degrees, black Africans, young rebels “without a cause” in Scandinavia, the Austrian miners who have effectively been on strike almost continuously for two years, and Czechoslovakian workers.[2] The “festive atmosphere” of the strike in Lagos [in June 1964] was also evident in Wallonia in January 1961 and in Budapest [in 1956].[3]Everywhere the question of a new revolutionary organisation is obscurely posed—an organisation that will have a good enough understanding of the dominant society so as to function effectively at all levels against this society in order to détourn it entirely, without reproducing it in any way, and “in a flash and at a single stroke sketching the form of the new world”.[4]

4. Gilles Dauvé has said that the Situationist International (hereafter ‘SI’) overestimated the role of organisation in mediating the process of communist revolution. Taking the last three years of the SI, and beyond, as an indication, perhaps we are inclined to agree with him. What seems to be clear from the dying days of the SI, was that the organisation was not just overwhelmed by its spectacular success (thus the less than useful theory of the pro-situ as an instance of the mass recuperation of the SI), but even more so the group was confused by the sketch of proletarian insurrection made in France and Italy in 1968 and 1969.

5. Guy Debord argued that ‘the central question of organisation’ became the weakest, most ‘inconsistent’ aspect of 19th century radical theory. One consequence was that both anarchists and Marxists tended to revive the ‘hierarchical and statist tactics borrowed from the bourgeois revolutions’.[5] What distinguished the Situationist conception of revolutionary organisation was that they identified it with a principle immanent to forms of struggle against capitalism and work. However, this “immanence” is necessarily contradictory. If the path of dis-alienation necessarily followed the path of alienation, then the cure to capitalism, would simply be present in the struggles against capitalism. The festivity the SI so often drew attention to among rioting youth as much as striking workers, was important. The new world was already beginning to take shape beyond the drudgery of work and the play of commodities. Similarly, workers councils would prove central to the SI conception of revolution. Unlike the hierarchical organisations that had dominated working class struggle so far, the councils were, and would be simultaneously organs of anti-capitalist struggle and a rough sketch of the coming society. There is more to dis-alienation than destroying capital, and the revolution is a festival or it is nothing.

6. Dauvé has written that the SI stood at the crux of a ‘contradiction’: the ‘historically insurmountable incompatibility between “Down with Work!” and “Power to the Workers!”.’[6] However, why this contradiction is ‘historically insurmountable’ is never clearly explained by Dauvé. Worse, if opposing capitalism by capitalist means invites insurmountable contradiction, then we get the false idea that an anti-capitalist revolution cannot be carried out by those under capitalism. The living contradiction that is the proletariat is precisely the contradiction between being reduced to mere labour-power for sale and the need and desire to be more than this. The Situationists, who demanded self-managing workers councils, made such a demand from the perspective of the abolition of alienated labour. In doing so, they faced a problem that seems intractable—at least theoretically. What constitutes a revolutionary class? Can the lived experience of proletarian negativity (the reduction of the human to labouring capacity) be the foundation for its positive negation? What is the nature of revolutionary self-organisation? Is such self-organisation the creation of the new world or just a vehicle for the destruction of the old?

7. More recently Dauvé has abandoned core aspects of his early criticism of the SI. He has tempered his criticism of the Situationist call for ‘generalised self-management’ and workers’ councils. Dauvé writes, ‘the situationist vision [of self-management] differed greatly from the usual councilist approach. If daily life is given its real broad sense, extending worker management to generalised self-management of daily life meant a qualitative leap which exploded the concept of work and managing . . . and therefore of workers’ councils: if you modify the whole of life, then production, workplace, work, and the economy cannot exist as separate domains anymore’.[7] Dauvé otherwise maintains his criticism of councilism.[8]

8. Though Dauvé accepts that the SI criticised and rejected what they also called ‘councilism’ (i.e. the ideology of councilism), he believes that they ‘owed a lot more to councilism than they ever realised’.[9] Dauvé thinks that the SI, despite their critique and rejection of ‘councilism’, bear some responsibility for the influence this ideology has exerted on the ultra-left in the wake of 1968.[10] However, why they bear this responsibility is largely left unexplained.

9. Because Dauvé’s repudiation of his earlier critique of the SI remains partial, I propose that we should revisit the Situationist demand for workers councils and ‘generalised self-management’. This allows us to better understand how the SI’s critical appropriation of the experience of workers’ councils and ‘self-management’ should not be reduced to the mere elaboration and extension of ‘councilism’. However, and perhaps most importantly, we can begin to understand that Dauvé’s own critical appropriation of the Situationist demand for the ‘abolition of work’ is flawed.

10. Dauvé has argued that the SI’s conception of the abolition of work is undermined by their demand for workers’ councils. In its stead he offers what he considers a more radical conception: the complete abolition of labour, all labour, even those forms that do not immediately appear to be labour in the present sense of the term. However, here Dauvé’s radicality is deceptive, because he depends upon an ahistorical conception of labour. His error is based upon a flawed critique of Marx’s conception of the substance of value.[11]

11. In what follows I will first examine Dauvé’s critique of the SI before turning to an examination of the Situationist conception of ‘generalised self-management’. It is my belief that such ‘self-management’ cannot be merely reduced to the ideology of self-management that Dauvé and others have criticised. Indeed, Dauvé’s partial repudiation of his earlier criticism, at least pertaining to the SI, confirms my perspective. We must remain aware that the SI, while using the idea of ‘self-management’ (autogestion) explicitly criticised its reduction to the self-management of alienated labour—thus they proposed ‘generalised self-management’.[12] Dauvé’s failure to properly account for this contributes to his erroneous ideas on labour and value.

Gilles Dauvé, critic of the Situationist International

12. Over the last forty years and more, Gilles Dauvé, in cooperation with others and alone, has attempted to critically appropriate the work of the SI into his “communisation” perspective. The way Dauvé has attempted this is by highlighting what he has called the central contradiction of the SI: that between their advocacy of the ‘abolition of work’ alongside of their call for ‘workers councils’.

13. Dauvé’s criticism of the SI resolves into two basic claims. First, he has criticised the SI for not penetrating beyond the apparent realm of the circulation of commodities, what they called ‘the society of the spectacle’, in their criticism of capitalism. Secondly, and as a consequence of the latter, the Situationists ‘exaggerated the mediation of the organisation’.[13] For Dauvé, it is this ‘exaggeration’ that led to the central contradiction of the SI’s practice—in particular after their adoption of the perspective of ‘workers councils’ in 1961. However, for the SI it was the movement of revolutionary organisation from isolated and marginal ‘micro-societies’ (like themselves) to mass movements of proletarians that held the key to resolving the contradictions of the self-organisation of workers against work.

14. Dauvé considers that what he calls ‘councilism’ and the ‘councilist ideology’ is a special case of this contradiction. Here, ‘ideology’ is used by Dauvé in Marx’s sense of the term, to refer to a body of ideas that becomes opposed to, or distorts, the social reality it purports to describe and act within.

15. Dauvé tells us how ‘councilism’ is an ideology and why it leads to the work/non-work contradiction. It begins by illegitimately abstracting from the specific, historical experience to a general principle of revolutionary proletarian self-activity—notably the experience of ‘workers councils’ in the first quarter of the twentieth century. This error enables councilism to conflate the council form of self-organisation with the goal of communist revolution.

16. For Dauvé, the SI’s ‘councilism’ is a special case because they carried out what he considers a limited criticism of councilism. The SI spoke of ‘generalised self-management’ (l’autogestion généralisée). They posed this both as an extension of, and critique of, the conception of ‘self-management’ (l’autogestion) elaborated by the ultra-left group Socialisme ou Barbarie (‘Socialism or Barbarism’, hereafter ‘SB’). Later, the SI criticised ‘councilism’ and ‘councilist ideology’ in the last issue of their journal (1969). We will consider the SI’s critique of ‘councilism’ in detail below.

17. Though Dauvé criticises what he considers the councilism of the SI, he nonetheless draws attention to what he also considers their singular achievement: the forceful rediscovery of the negative content of communist revolution. Against the positive conception of labour, and the liberation of labour via its ‘self-management’ that the SI found in SB, the Situationists reaffirmed the self-destruction of the proletariat by way of the abolition of labour. However, Dauvé believes the SI’s critique of the other aspect of ‘councilism’, namely the self-management of labour, remained incomplete.

The Situationist International: for workers councils and generalised self-management

18. The chief inspiration for the SI’s turn to the question of workers councils and self-management was Guy Debord’s brief encounter with SB in 1960 and 1961. At first this was by way of Debord’s collaboration with Daniel Blanchard (aka ‘Pierre Canjuers’), and soon after this his brief membership in the SB associated group, Pouvoir Ouvrier (‘Workers Power’, hereafter ‘PO’). As Dauvé notes, Debord and Raoul Vaneigem then sketched a criticism of SB’s and Cornelius Castoriadis’ conception of the ‘self-management of production’. However, Dauvé was initially quick to dismiss this criticism, likening it to a quantitative rather than a qualitative difference between differing conceptions of self-management: ‘Chaulieu [aka Castoriadis] confined himself to the factory, [whereas] Debord wanted to self-manage life’.[14]

19. Dauvé believes that the source of the alignment between the SI and the councilism of the SB group is to be found in the former’s conception of the ‘spectacle’ of ‘non-intervention’. Dauvé draws an analogy between the SI’s conception of ‘spectacle’—i.e. of the division between ‘actors’ and ‘spectators’ as it was initially conceived by Debord in 1957—and the SB group’s conception of ‘order-givers’ (dirigeants) and ‘order-takers’ (executants).[15] Indeed, Debord and the ‘Social Barbarian’ Daniel Blanchard made such a correspondence explicit at the outset of the encounter: ‘The relation between authors and spectators is only a transposition of the fundamental relation between order-givers and order-takers’.[16] For SB, the ‘classical’ division of capitalists and workers had given way, under the modern conditions of ‘bureaucratic state capitalism’, to the division of managerial ‘order-givers’ and managed ‘order-takers’.

20. The question for SB, then, was one of the proletarians—i.e. the ‘order-takers’—taking over the role of separated management and self-managing production.[17] Similarly, for the SI, the problem of the alienated, spectacular passivity of capitalism was to be resolved by way of the participation of all in the construction of the ‘situations’ of life—hence ‘situationists’. For Dauvé, it is precisely this correspondence between the SI and SB that drove the SI into the impasse of ‘councilism’: ‘Like Socialism or Barbarism, it saw in capital a form of management depriving proletarians of any power over their lives, and concluded that it was necessary to find a mechanism permitting the involvement of all’.[18]

21. The encounter between the SI and SB was initially the tale of a passing friendship and collaboration, ‘during long talks in bistros, and endless roamings through the city streets’, of the ‘Social Barbarian’ Daniel Blanchard and the Situationist Guy Debord.[19] The literary result of this encounter, Preliminaries toward defining a unified revolutionary program, brought key aspects of their respective projects into dialogue. However, even though the authors noted an intimacy in their respective theories (authors & spectators/order-givers & order-takers), the document is marked by a certain theoretical distance.

22. Debord’s conception of the ‘spectacle’, later elaborated into a critique of the spectacles nested within and across the circuits of capitalist production and consumption, here begins and ends at the factory gates. ‘Outside of work’ the spectacle dominates the culture of ‘leisure’ and the capitalist representations of space and time.[20] On this basis, Blanchard and Debord write that the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, as production and spectacle, begins with ‘the management of production and work by the workers themselves’, which ‘would immediately imply a radical transformation of the nature of work’.[21]

23. In the early phase of the encounter between the SI and SB, the commonality of their criticism was emphasised. In particular, both groups had come to believe against the Marxist orthodoxy of the time that the ‘problem’ of work was not to be solved by leaving ‘more and more “free” time to individuals […]. The problem is to make all time a time of liberty and to allow concrete freedom to embody itself in creative activity.’[22] Where they differed was over how such a ‘problem’ would be solved. For SB it was a question of how ‘to put poetry into work’.[23] Whereas increasingly for the SI, partly as a result of the encounter with SB, it was a question of overcoming the reciprocal alienations of work-time and leisure-time. Work, as much as leisure as it presently existed, could never figure as the basis for a new type of free activity.

24. In a 2014 interview, Raoul Vaneigem speaking of the encounter with SB, said that ‘we had to revalorise the artist past of the SI’.[24] Despite finding discussion and advocacy of ‘workers councils’ and ‘self-management’ [autogestion], Vaneigem believes that SB were unable to fully exploit such ideas beyond their single-minded focus on the critique of bureaucracy. ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie […] lacked what we had: poetry, that is to say, self-management, which was the poetry of the proletariat rediscovering its everyday life, rediscovering the veritable substance of class struggle: the self-management of everyday life’.[25]

25. Every revolution has been born in poetry, has first of all been made with the force of poetry. This phenomenon has escaped and continues to escape theorists of revolution—in fact, it cannot be understood if one still clings to the old conceptions of revolution or poetry—but it has generally been sensed by counterrevolutionaries. Poetry terrifies them. Wherever it exists they do their best to get rid of it by every kind of exorcism, from auto-da-fé to pure stylistic research. Those times of real poetry, which have “uncounted aeons of eternity before” them, seeks each moment to reorient the entire world and the entire future to its own ends. As long as poetry lasts, its demands admit of no compromise. It brings back into play all the unsettled debts of history. Fourier and Pancho Villa, Lautréamont and the dinamiteros of the Asturias (whose successors are now inventing new forms of strikes), the sailors of Kronstadt and Kiel, and all those around the world who, with or without us, are preparing to fight for the long revolution are also the emissaries of the new poetry.[26]

26. At the beginning of the Situationist project, Debord argued that the group should stake its ground on a new terrain: the battleground of leisure. It was here, where the alienations of labour-power and capital were being rapidly extended throughout the social field, reconfiguring the time away from work in the image of wage-slavery, there appeared the new labours of leisure and mass consumption. Debord argued that this extension of ‘the alienation of the old world’ was by no means its amelioration, but rather the more extensive development of alienation, and so too the extension of the terrain of contestation.[27] In opposition to capitalist leisure-time, Debord and the early SI proposed the ‘hypothesis of the construction of situations’.

27. From the start, the Situationist project, as found in the ‘hypothesis of the constructed situations’ and the conception of the ‘battle of leisure’, contained an implicit critique of alienated labour, and the idea that such labour could be either a model for, or a positive point of departure for a dis-alienated life. It was the encounter with SB that allowed the SI to transform the hypothesis from a critique of leisure time to a more full-bloodied critique of the reciprocal and entailed alienations of work and non-work. As Debord said of SB’s conception of political and critical practice, ‘revolution is not “showing” life to people but making them live’.[28]

28. Dauvé has argued that the construction of situations ‘founds what is only a materialist theory of personal relationships […]. [T]he notion of the “construction of situations” isolates the relation between subjects from the totality of relations’.[29] In the founding document of the SI, Debord argued the experimental use of the city that he and his comrades had charted in the 1950s—through their ‘dérives’ and ‘psychogeographical studies’—had led them to pose the ‘hypothesis of the construction of situations’.[30] Much like the Situationist concept of ‘détournement’, the ‘hypothesis of the construction of situations’ was not conceived as a theory—of personal relations, as Dauvé puts it—but rather as a ‘working hypothesis’ liable to correction or abandonment depending upon further research.[31]

29. Despite the importance the SI placed upon the cultivation of friendship against and beyond the reduction of human relations to economic relations, the critical perspective of this hypothesis was never one of merely the construction of personal relationships. Rather, the SI hypothesised the construction of situations on the basis of the already present possibilities under capitalism i.e. for the transformation of ‘decors’, ‘environments’, ‘behaviours’ and the totality of social and natural relations. As Debord would later remark, ‘the next rise of the revolutionary movement […] will invent and propose another use of everyday life’.[32]

30. We can best understand the continuing importance of the SI’s hypothesis as a contribution to this project in the present. To be fair to Dauvé, we could read the Situationist hypothesis as a theory of personal relations that are yet to come. But even here, the Situationist perspective always remained that of the social-natural totality, of the conditions that enabled personal relations, and most importantly of all, the transformation of both such personal relations and the social-natural conditions that enabled them. As a preliminary conclusion we therefore must note that Dauvé fails to appreciate how the SI integrated the entire materiality of capital into their critique of capitalist leisure.

31. In PO (Pouvoir Ouvrier) and SB, the SI found an analogue of the factory. A spectacular order of “actors” —the teachers, intellectuals and old-timers of the group—and an order of “spectators” —the usually younger militants, university students, apprentice intellectuals, etc. However, in his critique of PO, Debord attempted to do more than understand how the spectacular organisation of labour in capitalist society had penetrated the revolutionary organisation—not a surprising result given the omnipresence of capitalist social relations. Debord also asked why such a state of affairs remained uncriticised, and fatalistically accepted as inescapable short of a “revolutionary” transformation.

32. Without any real attempt to understand the shortcomings of this particularly revolutionary organisation, such an imagined transformation was of a magical order. Of course, we must understand these shortcomings as flowing from the limitations of human activity under hierarchical relations of production. In Debord’s resignation letter we can recognise the critique of organisational forms and behaviours familiar to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the far-left. ‘PO, founded on the contestation of all aspects of current society, is not particularly favourable to the contestation of the least of its own habits’.[33]

33. In 1961, shortly after Debord’s resignation from PO, the SI—while noting the important work of SB, particularly with regards to their critique of ‘bureaucratic state capitalism’—also offered the following criticism: ‘those who put all the stress on the necessity of changing work itself, of rationalising it and of interesting people in it, neglect the idea of the free content of life (i.e. of a materially equipped creative power that that would be developed beyond the “classic” conception of labour-time—already modified—as well as beyond rest-and-recreation time), and so run the risk of providing an ideological cover for a harmonisation of the present production system in the direction of greater efficiency and profitability without at all having called into question the experience of this production or the necessity of this kind of life’.[34] Here, the SI’s forceful repudiation of taking over or self-managing ‘the present production system’ was accompanied by a poetic vision that owed more to their conception of the construction of situations than Castoriadis’ dry, economistic elaboration of the content of socialism: ‘The free construction of the entire space-time of individual life is a demand that will have to be defended against all sorts of dreams of harmony [in the minds] of the aspiring managers of the coming social reorganisation’.[35] Less than two years later the SI even more forcefully argued that SB’s project to self-manage production (‘a sort of nostalgia for earlier forms of work’) in effect ‘abandoned the very core of the revolutionary project, which is nothing less than the suppression of work in the current sense (as well as the suppression of the proletariat) and of all the justifications for older forms of work’.[36] In short, SB’s perspective ‘neglects the possibility […] of replacing work with a new type of free activity’.[37] Such demands—for ‘a new type of free activity’, and ‘the free construction of the entire space-time of individual life’—would remain at the centre of what the SI would later call ‘generalised self-management’.

34. A Situationist, Isidore Ducasse, or maybe someone else once wrote that, ideas improve. The meaning of words plays a role in that improvement. Plagiarism is necessary; progress implies it. It closely grasps an author’s sentence, uses his expressions, deletes a false idea, replaces it with the right one.[38] The Situationist conception of ‘generalised self-management’ is a case of détournement, i.e. plagiarism consciously aimed at the supersession of the original. Not just imitation of expression, but its correction by way of development; its improvement via deletion and replacement. The SI détourned self-management (autogestion) from SB—not to mention further afield, in the works of Anton Pannekoek for instance. Per Vaneigem’s recent comments, SB were not able to develop the immanent radicality of self-management, as demonstrated by its reduction to the self-management of production. The social barbarians possessed a model of revolution in which poetry would be applied post-festum to the existing forms of production, and so work would become both the ‘font of life’ and mark the limits of human freedom.[39] As Debord would later say about the enigmatic Hamburg Theses, the breaks he, Vaneigem and other members made in 1961 and 1962 ‘meant that we should no longer pay the least importance to any of the conceptions of revolutionary groups that still survived as heirs of the old social emancipation movement destroyed in the first half of our century’.[40] Now, the SI spoke about work like they had once spoke of being with and against art and culture. This position is undoubtedly paradoxical, and ‘risky’ as the group later acknowledged.[41] Nonetheless, even amidst the use of artistic means against art, such as the elaboration of the hypothesis of the constructed situation, Debord was clear regarding the negativity of their détournements: ‘We wish to transform these times (to which everything we love, beginning with our experimental attitude, also belongs) and not to “write for it” as self-satisfied vulgarity intends’.[42] The Situationists hailed the negative dialectic by proclaiming themselves ‘artists only insofar as we are no longer artists’, inscribing a ‘poetry necessarily without poems’.[43]

35. One of the first attempts at theoretical détournement was the brief assessment of the Paris Commune by Debord, Vaneigem and Attila Kotányi. Written immediately after the resignation and expulsion of artist members of the SI, the Commune was reimagined in its strengths and weakness—its chief strength being its ‘existence in acts’ (Marx). The SI proposed that we have more to learn from the ‘failures’ of the revolutionary workers movement than the ‘apparent successes’ (like “really existing socialism” in 1962). Reconceived for the present, as a sketch of possibilities and freedom rather than as the doom of structural fate, the poetry of the commune was primarily negative: the destruction of the old world, and the opening abyss of the new.

The story of the arsonists, who in the last days of the Commune came to destroy Notre-Dame, and clashed there with an armed battalion of artists, is rich in meaning. It is a good example of direct democracy. Furthermore, from the perspective of the power of the councils, it also shows problems yet to be solved. Were these artists right to unanimously defend a cathedral in the name of eternal aesthetic values, and so ultimately also in the name of the museum? Meanwhile other men justly wanted to grasp the expression of their day, and through the demolition inscribe their total opposition to a society—which at its moment of victory over them, consigned their lives to nothingness and silence.[44]

The commune as festival was by no means the invention of the SI. But the recognition that its lasting significance was to be found in what some communards proposed to destroy—a condition that requires illusions—would prove crucial to the elaboration of generalised self-management.

36. The term ‘generalised self-management’ (l’autogestion généralisée) first appears in the SI’s article, The class struggle in Algeria. The Situationist sense is that of its emergence from class struggle: ‘Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, a witness to the Paris Commune, noted, “For the first time one can hear the workers exchanging their opinions about problems that until now have been tackled only by philosophers.” The realisation of philosophy, the critique and free reconstruction of all the values and behaviours imposed by alienated life—this is precisely the maximum program of generalised self-management.’[45] Here, the SI attempted to understand and distinguish those tendencies of ‘self-management’ that had begun to emerge in proletarian class struggle from the official policy of ‘self-management’ promulgated by the state socialist regime of Ben Bella. Dauvé would later accuse the authors of ‘distort[ing] the facts concerning Algeria after Boumédiène’s coup d’etat’ by advocating workers self-management and its extension, ‘without the destruction of the State and key transformations in society’.[46] But here, selective quotation triumphs over a more considered reading.[47] As the SI had argued in the first of their two pamphlets which circulated clandestinely in Algeria in 1965, the only ‘alternative is now between the militarised bureaucratic dictatorship and the dictatorship of the “self-managed sector” extended to all production and all aspects of social life’.[48] The conception of the conditions of this ‘extension’ was never left in doubt by the authors: ‘not only the defence of self-management but its extension to the point of dissolving all specialised activity not under self-management’.[49] Certainly we can retrospectively charge the SI with misunderstanding the situation in the immediate wake of the 1965 coup. But such a charge cannot deny the context in which the SI intervened in the unfolding situation—i.e. on the basis of advocating the revolutionary overthrow of state power: ‘self-management, by the simple fact that it exists, threatens all of society’s hierarchical organisation. It must destroy all external control because all the external forces of control will never make peace with it as a living reality, but at most only with its label, with its embalmed corpse. Wherever there is self-management there cannot be an army, police or state’.[50] Indeed, in the reckoning of the SI it was this perceived threat that motivated not only Ben Bella’s attempts to corral proletarian self-organisation, but also the Boumédiène’s coup d’état that was in effect the militarised continuation of the Ben Bella regime’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt at legislative recuperation.

37. Perhaps the clearest elaboration of the difference between the SI’s conception of self-management, and that of councilist groups like PO and SB can be found in the Situationist’s most infamous publication, On the Poverty of Student Life, penned by Mustapha Khayati. Nonetheless, it is redolent of what Dauvé would typify as the incomplete or ambiguous nature of their critique of the ideology of self-management. The critique of the commodity and labour, and the necessity for the complete abolition of labour as it exists, jostles with the Situationist conception of proletarian self-activity as the emergent tasks of the workers councils:

The principle of commodity production is the loss of self in the chaotic and unconscious creation of a world that completely escapes its creators. In contrast, the radically revolutionary core of generalised self-management is everyone’s conscious control over the whole of life. The self-management of commodity alienation would only make everyone the programmers of their own survival: squaring the capitalist circle. The task of the workers councils will thus not be the self-management of the existing world, but its unceasing qualitative transformation: the concrete supersession of the commodity (that gigantic detour in the history of human self-production).

This supersession naturally implies the abolition of work and its replacement by a new type of free activity, thereby the abolition of one of the fundamental divisions of modern society: that between an increasingly reified labour and a passively consumed leisure. Presently decomposing groups like Socialisme ou Barbarie or Pouvoir Ouvrier, although rallying to the modern slogan of Workers’ Power, on this crucial point continue to follow the path of the old workers movement by envisioning a reformism of labour through its “humanisation.” But work itself must be attacked. Far from being “utopian,” this abolition in the everyday life of everyone is the first condition for the effective supersession of commodity society, and for the abolition of the separation between “free time” and “work time”—those complementary sectors of alienated life where the contradiction between use-value and exchange value are continually projected. It is only beyond this opposition that people will be able to make their vital activity an object of their will and consciousness and see themselves in a world that they themselves have created. The democracy of workers councils is the solution to the enigma of all the present separations. It renders “impossible everything that exists outside individuals”.[51]

38. In The Society of the Spectacle, Debord spoke of workers councils in an ambivalent fashion. On the one hand he hailed them, in the words of Marx on the Paris Commune, as ‘the political form at last discovered in which the economic emancipation of labour could be realised’.[52] On the other hand, he spoke of the actual history of councils in the 20th century as ‘no more than a brief sketch’ of a form that poses problems ‘rather than providing a solution’.[53] The council form for the SI, despite reservations, was a first stab at overcoming the fragmentations of capitalist social relations—of communication, hierarchy and the division of labour. Or, as Vaneigem put it in a more tragic register, ‘despite their mistakes and their poverty, I see in the historical experience of workers’ councils (1917, 1921, 1934, 1956), and in the pathetic search for friendship and love, a single and inspiring reason not to despair over present “reality”.’[54] What electrified the SI about the potential of the councils was what they posed by their very existence the possibility of the self-production of life as opposed to the production of an alien power that ruled over it: ‘With the power of the councils […] the proletarian movement becomes its own product, and this product is nothing other than the producers themselves’.[55] The councils which appeared ‘in the first quarter of the century’ were the ‘highest reality’ of this now vanished revolutionary movement—as opposed to the parodic horror of ‘really existing socialism’. In their present (1967) attempts to reconstitute a revolutionary movement, ‘this result returns as the only undefeated point of the defeated movement’.[56] However, the question is not one of restaging the past, but rather posing the project which emerged from the councils as ‘no longer at the periphery of what is ebbing, but at the centre of what is rising’.[57] Which is to say workers councils as the pivot of generalised self-management.

39. The greatest revolutionary idea concerning urbanism is not itself urbanistic, technological or aesthetic. It is the decision to reconstruct the entire environment in accordance with the needs of the power of workers councils, of the anti-state dictatorship of the proletariat, of a dialogue that can be carried out. Such councils, which can be effective only if they transform existing conditions in their entirety, cannot assign themselves a smaller task if they wish to be recognized as well as recognize themselves in a world of their own making. […] This “historical mission of establishing truth in the world” cannot be accomplished by either the isolated individual, or the atomized masses subjected to manipulation. Now, as ever, it is that class which is the dissolution of all classes that is capable of taking back power in the dis-alienated form of realised democracy, [which is to say] the councils, in which practical theory oversees and controls its own actions. This is possible only where individuals are “directly linked to universal history”, and only where dialogue arms itself to make its own conditions victorious.[58]

40. With the ‘lovely month of May’ of 1968, and its immediate aftermath, the SI came to see itself as engaged in the project of fashioning a ‘councilist organisation’ which advocated ‘workers councils’. However, and this point is crucial, the SI declared that ‘such an organisation sees the beginning and end of its program in the complete decolonization of everyday life. It thus does not aim for the self-management [autogestion] of the existing world by the masses, but at its uninterrupted transformation’.[59] In the wake of the May movement, Debord argued that one could not simply reduce their demand for workers councils ‘to some “workers’ power” limited to some sort of pseudo-control of the production of their own alienation’, but rather conceive of it in terms of the ‘total autonomous power’ of a self-organising, revolutionary proletariat.[60]. Or, as Vaneigem put it, ‘outside [of] generalized self-management’ the demand for ‘workers councils loses [its] meaning’—which is to say, the SI’s demand for ‘a new type of social organization through which the proletariat puts an end to the proletarianisation of everyone’.[61] For Situationist René Riesel the ‘victory of the councils is not the end of the revolution, but the beginning of it’.[62] No doubt we can take issue with the SI’s belief that workers councils could be instances of, or the basis for such ‘new type[s] of social organisation’. Indeed, considering the complete absence of workers councils in 1968, Dauvé and other critics of the SI are on firmer ground when they call into question the SI’s optimism[63]—for instance, when Debord infamously wrote ‘the occupations movement [of May] was objectively at several moments only an hour away’ from the constitution of workers councils’[64]).

41. After May 1968, and the blossoming of interest in the history of council communism (a fact, no doubt motivated in part by the role of the Stalinist French Communist Part in May 1968), the SI drew a distinction between their conception of workers councils as a departure and pivot of generalised self-management and those contemporaneous demands for the self-management of production. Thus, it is not surprising that they came to develop a criticism of what they called ‘councilism’ and the ‘councilist ideology’.[65] They defined ‘councilism’ as falling into two main types: First, ‘the social-democratic or Bolshevik ideologies about the councils’. Secondly, those ‘council communist’ conceptions with which they felt a closer affinity. Of the two main types, it was the latter that most interested them, as those that held to it put the council at the centre of their practice (as opposed to Bolshevik ‘councilism’, which conceived of the councils chiefly as a vehicle for the rise to dominance of a “revolutionary” workers’ party and so-called ‘workers state’). Against those communists who emphasised the workers council along the models of those that had emerged historically, the Situationist Riesel argued that in practice these councils had tended to reduce ‘the general assemblies of the rank and file’ to ‘mere assemblies of electors, so that the first level of the “council” is situated above them’.[66] Thus, they had reconstituted the ‘element of separation’ over and against the experience of the ‘highest moments of their practice’—i.e. ‘when all decisions were made by sovereign general assemblies’.[67] Here, the SI’s critique of the problem of representative democracy was given precedence. Nonetheless, and despite some fairly vague statements about the possibilities for the council form to exceed the self-management of production,[68] Reisel’s article on workers’ councils was by far the most councilist of all of the Situationist writings—i.e., councilist in Dauvé’s sense of the term.

42. By the time Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote and published the final document of the SI in 1972, Dauvé argues that they proposed ‘nothing but councilism’ to the proletariat.[69] If one examines this document, it is hard to draw Dauvé’s absolute conviction.[70] Nonetheless, an argument was taking place within the SI and its immediate milieu. In a document written some months before his resignation, amidst the interminable ‘orientation debate’ within the SI, Raoul Vaneigem spoke of ‘implicit tendencies manifesting themselves among us (toward pure councilism, for example)’ against which he suggested ‘our specificity could be reinforced’.[71] Debord agreed with Vaneigem’s suggestion, writing ‘despite their great historical and programmatic interest, the Workers’ Councils of the past were obviously insufficient experiments, and actual councilist organisations are still far from existing. A vague councilist fashion has developed, even among idiots. We have no reason to take our place in it; but to disturb it, starting from today. In the sense of total content that the Councils must attain, in the sense of what the SI can and must do so that this power can exist in reality, I will summarize my thesis in a phrase: it is not so much that the situationists are councilists, it is the councils that will have to be situationist.’[72].

Conclusion

43. Dauvé has said that the SI ‘failed to see that autonomous self-management of factory struggles can only be a means, never a goal in itself nor a principle.’[73] However, it is clear that the SI never saw the self-management of workplaces as an end in-itself, but rather only as a means, i.e. an opening toward ‘generalised self-management’. For the group the principle of self-management was the important thing, and thus their détournement eschewed and criticised SB’s conception of the self-management of production. One could argue that such a position does not extend beyond the anodyne of calling for ‘self-organisation’. However, it is precisely the explicit critique and rejection of work by way of Marx and Dada, and its opposition to both orthodox Marxist and anarchist conceptions that marks out the SI’s conception of self-organisation.[74] Dauvé has argued that capitalist ideology has ‘blurred the difference’ between the real need for revolutionary self-organisation and the dead end of self-managing our own alienation.[75] To the extent that “critical” perspectives take up the capitalist notion of labour, including those that derive such a conception from Marx (particularly the Marx of the Critique of the Gotha Program), is the extent to which labour is conceived as not merely one premise of human life—which it is—but the essence of life itself. This is Cornelius Castoriadis’ belief, and by extension most of the SB group that the Situationists encountered from 1960 and on. ‘Self-management’ when it is appended to ‘work’ or ‘production’ in the sense of existing capitalist social relations of production is, without doubt, the becoming ideological of revolutionary self-organisation. However, it is hard to reconcile Dauvé’s critique of the SI with the SI’s attempt to détourn SB’s notion of self-management with and against work.

44. Vaneigem spoke of the SI as being ‘combatants between two worlds: one that we do not acknowledge, the other that does not yet exist’.[76] He evoked the apparent paradox of taking up a revolutionary perspective within capitalism—of being of and against this world. The problem of revolutionary self-organisation is of a similar order. On the one hand, self-organisation emerges on the basis of alienated labour; on the other hand, it is through such self-organisation that the beyond of wage-labour is charted. For the SI, workers councils constituted a potential break with capital to the extent that they posed the radical participation of all in the poetic reconstruction and festive reappropriation of life beyond wage slavery. Such organisation seems contradictory to the extent that it is of this world and yet against this world. Dis-alienation follows the path of alienation. This is not to argue that one can ‘combat alienation by alienated means’, but rather to note the emergence of dis-alienation from the experience of alienation.[77] Certainly, to the extent that such councils merely self-manage alienation, or fetishize capitalist forms of labour, they must be rejected. Vaneigem also spoke of the ‘positive pole of alienation’ constituting ‘the end of social alienation’.[78] It is this sense of the revolutionary solution to alienation—of alienation being the ground of the rupture with alienation—that Dauvé loses by focussing on the appearance of contradiction.

45. In the next part of this article I will turn to a more detailed examination of Dauvé’s critique of Marx, labour and value. It is here that we will find the philosophical error upon which he has built his critique of the Situationists, among others.

Argentina — Chile, 2018


Thanks to Alistair Hemmens, Peter Jovanovic and Gerald Keaney for editorial assistance and suggestions.


FOOTNOTES

[1] Hegel, letter to F. Creuzer, October 30, 1819. Note that the last quote of this paragraph is also from Hegel, The Phenomenology of Spirit, Preface, paragraph 11.

[2] Here, ‘black Africans’ refers to the Kwilu and Simba rebels in the Congo in 1964. For more on the Asturian miners’ strike in Spain, see Guy Debord. ‘The Asturian Strike [1963]’. For more information on the online availability for most citations check the Bibliography below.

[3] Here, ‘Wallonia’ refers to the general strike in Belgium over the summer of 1960-61. The strike in Lagos was part of a two week long general strike in Nigeria in June 1964.

[4] Internationale Situationniste. ‘Le monde dont nous parlons.’ International Situationniste, no. 9 (Août 1964), p. 20.

[5] Guy Debord. La Société du Spectacle. Third ed. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, [1967] 1992, thesis 90.

[6] Gilles Dauvé, ‘Back to the Situationist International (2000)’.

[7] This comment is to be found in a footnote appended to the new introductory remarks Dauvé wrote for chapter four of Eclipse and Re-emergence of the Communist Movement. These ‘new’ remarks are dated ‘1997-2013’. See, Gilles Dauvé and François Martin. Eclipse and Re-Emergence of the Communist Movement. Oakland: PM Press, [1972/1973/1974/1997] 2015, fn. 1, pp. 99/158, and p. 100.

[8] Similarly, he appears to have given up on his attack on the concept of spectacle: ‘today I would not write that the IS [i.e. Internationale Situationniste] had no “understanding of capital.” While its critique focused more on commodity than on capital, on alienation than on exploitation, it did not ignore the wage-labour/capital relation, hence class struggle, though Situationists approached it via an emphasis on commodity’.[8] I will return to the question of spectacle in a future article in which I will examine and criticise Dauvé’s concept of value.

[9] Ibid, p. 154.

[10] Ibid., p. 99.

[11] Briefly, Dauvé believes that Marx was wrong to associate communism with the idea of ‘saving time’ from ‘necessary’ labour. Here, Dauvé follows the Situationists, to an extent, insofar as he agrees with their criticism that ‘free time’ in capitalism is increasingly an expanded moment of the (re)production of the social relation. However, Dauvé extends this criticism in order to say that necessarily ‘labour’ which entails ‘time-counting’ and ‘time-saving’ is ‘value production’, or could form the basis for a return to capitalistic production. I will examine this belief of Dauvé’s in more detail in a following article.

[12] It is true that the SI’s conception of ‘self-management’ was often a democratic one; however, it is unclear that ‘democracy’ constituted a universal principle of self-management for Situationists (for instance, Debord’s playful and strategic approach to the creation of situations is difficult to reduce to a democratic process).

[13] Jean Barrot [Gilles Dauvé]. ‘Critique of the Situationist International [1979].’ In What is Situationism? A Reader, edited by Stewart Home. San Francisco: AK Press, 1996.

[14] Barrot [Dauvé]. ‘Critique of the Situationist International [1979].’

[15] Note I have used Maurice Brinton’s translation of ‘dirigeants’ and ‘executants’ as respectively ‘order-givers’ and ‘order-takers’, for the sake of clarity and consistency. See Maurice Brinton. For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton. Oakland: AK Press, 2004.

[16] P. Canjuers [D. Blanchard] & G.-E. Debord. ‘Preliminaires pour une definition de l’unite du programme revolutionnaire [20 juillet 1960].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres, pp. 511-18. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006, part I, thesis 7.

[17] In some ways, SB’s sense of the immanence of self-management in the social relation—i.e. the idea that one only had to do away with the order-takers in order to unleash proletarian autonomy and so too communism—resonates with the later ideas of Toni Negri.

[18] Gilles Dauvé, Serge Quadruppani & J.-P. Carasso. ‘L’Internationale Situationniste’, in ‘Le roman de nos origines’, from La Banquise No. 2, 1983. Translation modified.

[19] Daniel Blanchard. Debord, in the Resounding Cataract of Time, 1995.

[20] Canjuers [Blanchard] & Debord. ‘Preliminaires pour une definition de l’unite du programme revolutionnaire [20 juillet 1960]’, part I, thesis 7.

[21] Ibid., part II, thesis 1.

[22] Cornelius Castoriadis. ‘On the Content of Socialism, II [1957].’ In Cornelius Castoriadis Political and Social Writings: Volume 2, 1955-1960, edited by David Ames Curtis. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988, p. 107.

[23] Ibid.

[24] Raoul Vaneigem. Raoul Vaneigem: Self-Portraits and Caricatures of the Situationist International [2014]. Translated & détourned by Not Bored from the French Rien n’est fini, tout commence [2014], 2015.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord]. ‘All the King’s Men.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963), p. 32.

[27] G.-E. Debord. ‘Rapport sur la construction des situations et sur les conditions de l’organisation et de l’action de la tendance situationniste internationale [1957].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006.

[28] G.-E. Debord. ‘Pour un jugement révolutionnaire de l’art [février 1961].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006.

[29] Barrot [Dauvé]. ‘Critique of the Situationist International [1979].’

[30] Debord. ‘Rapport sur la construction des situations […] [1957].’

[31] Ibid.

[32] G.-E. Debord. ‘Perspectives de modification conscientes dans la vie quotidienne.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 6 (Août 1961).

[33] Guy Debord. ‘Aux participants à la conférence nationale de Pouvoir ouvrier (5 mai 1961).’ In Correspondance volume II septembre 1960 – décembre 1964, edited by Patrick Mosconi.

[34] Internationale Situationniste. ‘Instructions pour une prise d’armes.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 6 (Août 1961), p. 4.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Internationale Situationniste [Raoul Vaneigem]. ‘Domination de la nature, idéologies et classes.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963), p. 4.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Isidore Ducasse, ‘Poésies [1870]’.

[39] Indeed, Castoriadis would make this insight into the basis of his critique of Marx’s conceptions of the ‘realms’ of freedom and necessity throughout human history, and so too beyond capitalism. See, ‘On the content of Socialism, II (1957)’ and ‘Modern Capitalism and Revolution’ (1960-61).

[40] For more information on the Hamburg Theses, see, Guy Debord. ‘Les thèses de Hambourg en septembre 1961 (Note pour servir à l’histoire de l’Internationale Situationniste) [1989].’ In Internationale situationniste : Édition augmentée, 1997 and Anthony Hayes. ‘How the Situationist International became what it was.’ Australian National University, 2017.

[41] Internationale Situationniste. ‘L’Operation Contre-Situationniste Dans Divers Pays.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963).

[42] G.-E. Debord. ‘Encore un effort si vous voulez être situationnistes : L’I.S. dans et contre la décomposition [1957].’ In Guy Debord : Œuvres. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006.

[43] See, Internationale Situationniste. ‘Le questionnaire.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 9 (Août 1964), and Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord]. ‘All the King’s Men.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963).

[44] Guy Debord, Attila Kotányi and Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Sur la commune [1962].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres, pp. 628-633. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006, thesis 10.

[45] Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord & Mustapha Khayati]. ‘Les luttes de classes en Algérie [orig. décembre 1965].’ International Situationniste, no. 10 (Mars 1966), p. 19. Debord and Mustapha Khayati were the chief authors of this work. However, as it appeared under the collective editorial by-line of the group it is hard to say for sure that he was the originator of the term—a term, more often than not, associated with Vaneigem’s elaboration before and after his departure from the SI. For instance, Vaneigem contributed to an early draft of the pamphlet ‘Adresse aux révolutionnaires d’Algérie et de tous les pays’. See, Guy Debord letter to Mustapha Khayati, 7 June 1965. There is a case to be made for Khayati’s later, more ‘orthodox’ interpretation of Marx’s critique of labour. For instance, see a work published shortly after his resignation from the SI—though possibly written before he resigned: ‘Labour is not a partial and separated economic activity, but literally the essence of man. […] Is this what is sometimes called “economism”, or on the contrary a new conception of man and history—of man and nature?’ Mustapha Khayati. ‘Les Marxisms : Idéologies et révolution.’ Cahiers de l’encyclopédie du monde actuel no. 51 (Janvier 1970).

[46] Barrot [Dauvé]. ‘Critique of the Situationist International [1979].’

[47] As far as I can tell Dauvé never repeated this criticism of the SI with reference to Algeria in 1965.

[48] Internationale Situationniste. ‘Adresse aux révolutionnaires d’Algérie et de tous les pays [orig. juillet 1965].’ International Situationniste, no. 10 (Mars 1966), p. 49.

[49] I.S. ‘Les luttes de classes en Algérie [orig. décembre 1965]’, p. 21.

[50] Ibid, p. 20

[51] Internationale Situationniste [Mustapha Khayati]. ‘De la misère en milieu étudiant considérée sous ses aspects économique, politique, psychologique, sexuel et notamment intellectuel et de quelques moyens pour y remédier.’ U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, 1966.

[52] Guy Debord. La Société du Spectacle, thesis 116.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Raoul Vaneigem. The Revolution of Everyday Life (aka ‘Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations’). Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: Rebel Press, [1967] 2001, p. 31

[55] Guy Debord. La Société du Spectacle, thesis 117.

[56] Ibid., thesis 118.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid., theses 179, 221.

[59] Internationale Situationniste. ‘Définitions minimum des organisations révolutionnaire.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 11 (Octobre 1967), p. 54.

[60] Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord]. ‘Le commencement d’une époque.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969), p. 13.

[61] Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Avis aux civilisés relativement à l’autogestion généralisée.’ international situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969), p. 75 (thesis 9).

[62] René Riesel. ‘Préliminaires sur les conseils et l’organisation conseilliste.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969), p. 73.

[63] For a critique of May 1968 as being on the cusp of a proletarian revolution see Michael Seidman. The Imaginary Revolution. New York: Berghahn Books, 2004, and Mouvement communiste. ‘May-June 1968: an occasion lacking in workers’ autonomy.’ Mouvement communiste, April 2008.

[64] I.S. [Debord]. ‘Le commencement d’une époque.’ IS, no. 12, p. 12.

[65] Partly, this was in response to being accused of being purveyors of ‘a councilist ideology’ by the ICO (Informations, Correspondance Ouvrières). The ICO was a group that had emerged from a split in the Socialism or Barbarism group (SB) in 1958. They rejected both revolutionary vanguardism, and the SI’s and SB’s conception of a revolutionary organisation. Against the SI, in particular its advocacy of the formation of workers councils in May 1968, the ICO had declared that ‘any other attempt […] to declare the necessity of creating workers councils’ apart from their organic emergence from ‘strike committees under the influence of the situation itself and in response to the very necessities of the struggle’ signified a councilist ideology. ICO no. 84, August 1969, cited in Riesel, ‘Préliminaires sur les conseils et l’organisation conseilliste.’ IS, no. 12. It is possible the SI détourned the sense of ‘councilist ideology’ from the ICO’s use of it against them.

[66] Ibid., p. 65.

[67] Ibid.

[68] ‘[T]he council as permanent basic unit […], as the assembly in which all the workers of an enterprise must participate […] and all the inhabitants of an urban district who have rallied to the revolution […]. This practical experience is the terrain where people learn how to become conscious of their own action, where they “realize philosophy”.’ Ibid, pp. 71, 72.

[69] Barrot [Dauvé]. ‘Critique of the Situationist International [1979]’.

[70] For instance, a common theme of late Situationist writing on councils is the idea that the immanent ‘logic of their own power’ pointed beyond their merely proletarian content to ‘the beginning of an era of great historical production; the indispensable and urgent renewal of the production of man by himself’. Guy Debord & Gianfranco Sanguinetti. ‘Thèses sur l’Internationale situationniste et son temps [1972].’ In Guy Debord : Œuvres. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006.

[71] Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Notes on the SI’s Direction, March 1970’. Translated by Reuben Keehan.

[72] Guy Debord. ‘À toutes les sections de l’I.S [17 mars 1970]’, in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972. Unfortunately for us, perhaps, the SI’s plan for a new manifesto in 1970, which would have, among other things, clarified their position on workers’ councils and ‘councilist’ organisations, never came to fruition. See, Guy Debord. ‘À toutes les sections de l’I.S [27 avril 1970], in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972.

[73] Dauvé. ‘Back to the Situationist International (2000)’.

[74] For more on the SI’s critique of Marxist and anarchist orthodoxy, see Jean-Christophe Angaut. ‘Beyond Black and Red: The Situationists and the Legacy of the Workers Movement.’ In Libertarian Socialism: Politics in Black and Red, edited by Alex Prichard, Ruth Kinna, Saku Pinta and David Berry, pp. 232-250. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

[75] Dauvé. ‘The Bitter Victory of Councilism (2014)’.

[76] Vaneigem, cited in Internationale Situationniste. ‘La Cinquième Conférence de l’I.S. à Göteborg.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 7 (Avril 1962), p. 27.

[77] Debord. La Société du Spectacle, thesis 122.

[78] Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Banalités de base (I).’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 7 (Avril 1962), p. 32 (thesis 2).


BIBLIOGRAPHY

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G.-E. Debord. ‘Encore un effort si vous voulez être situationnistes : L’I.S. dans et contre la décomposition [1957].’ In Guy Debord : Œuvres, pp. 345-350. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006. English translation available online: https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/onemore.html.

G.-E. Debord. ‘Pour un jugement révolutionnaire de l’art [février 1961].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres, pp. 558-563. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/breathless.htm.

Guy Debord. ‘Aux participants à la conférence nationale de Pouvoir ouvrier (5 mai 1961).’ In Correspondance volume II septembre 1960 – décembre 1964, edited by Patrick Mosconi, pp. 82-88. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2001. English translation online: http://www.notbored.org/debord-5May1961.html.

G.-E. Debord. ‘Perspectives de modification conscientes dans la vie quotidienne.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 6 (Août 1961), pp. 20-27. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/6.everyday.htm.

Guy Debord. ‘The Asturian Strike [1963]’, translated by Not Bored, http://www.notbored.org/asturian-strike.html.

Guy Debord. ‘Lettre à Mustapha Khayati, 7 juin 1965.’ In Correspondance volume III janvier 1965 – décembre 1968, edited by Patrick Mosconi. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2003.

Guy Debord. La Société du Spectacle. Third ed. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, [1967] 1992. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/index.htm.

Guy Debord. ‘À toutes les sections de l’I.S [17 mars 1970]’, in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972 (e-book version). Translation available online: http://www.notbored.org/debord-17March1970.html.

Guy Debord. ‘À toutes les sections de l’I.S [27 avril 1970], in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972 (e-book version). Translation available online: http://www.notbored.org/orientation12.html.

Guy Debord. ‘Les thèses de Hambourg en septembre 1961 (Note pour servir à l’histoire de l’Internationale Situationniste) [1989].’ In Internationale situationniste : Édition augmentée, pp. 703-04. Paris: Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1997. Translation available online: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/132358 (in the appendices of Hayes’ thesis).

Canjuers [D. Blanchard] & G.-E. Debord. ‘Preliminaires pour une definition de l’unite du programme revolutionnaire [20 juillet 1960].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres, pp. 511-18. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006, thesis 7. English translation online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/prelim.htm.

Guy Debord, Attila Kotányi and Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Sur la commune [1962].’ In Guy Debord Œuvres, pp. 628-633. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/Pariscommune.htm.

Guy Debord & Gianfranco Sanguinetti. ‘Thèses sur l’Internationale situationniste et son temps [1972].’ In Guy Debord : Œuvres, pp. 1088-1133. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 2006. English translation available online: https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/sistime.html.

Isidore Ducasse, ‘Poésies [1870],’ in Maldoror & the Complete Works of the Comte de Lautréamont, Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 2011.

Mustapha Khayati. ‘Les Marxisms : Idéologies et révolution.’ Cahiers de l’encyclopédie du monde actuel no. 51 (Janvier 1970). English translation available online: https://thesinisterquarter.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/marxisms-ideologies-and-revolution/.

Anthony Hayes. ‘How the Situationist International became what it was.’ Australian National University, 2017. Available online: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/132358.

Anthony Hayes. ‘Spectacle of what?’, 2018, https://thesinisterquarter.wordpress.com/2018/07/20/spectacle-of-what/.

P. Lovecraft. Beyond the Wall of Sleep, 1919.

René Riesel. ‘Préliminaires sur les conseils et l’organisation conseilliste.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969). English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.councils.htm.

Michael Seidman. The Imaginary Revolution. New York: Berghahn Books, 2004.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘Instructions pour une prise d’armes.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 6 (Août 1961), pp. 3-5. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/6.insurrection.htm.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘La Cinquième Conférence de l’I.S. à Göteborg.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 7 (Avril 1962), pp. 25-31. English translation available online: https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/goteborg.html.

Internationale Situationniste [Raoul Vaneigem]. ‘Domination de la nature, idéologies et classes.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963). English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/8.nature.htm.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘L’Operation Contre-Situationniste Dans Divers Pays.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963), pp. 23-29. Partial english translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/8.countersitu.htm.

Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord]. ‘All the King’s Men.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 8 (Janvier 1963), pp. 29-33. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/8.kingsmen.htm.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘Le monde dont nous parlons.’ International Situationniste, no. 9 (Août 1964), pp. 6-23. English translation available online: https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/is9.html.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘Le questionnaire.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 9 (Août 1964), pp. 24-27. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/9.questionnaire.htm.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘Adresse aux révolutionnaires d’Algérie et de tous les pays [orig. juillet 1965].’ International Situationniste, no. 10 (Mars 1966), pp. 43-49. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/10.address.htm.

Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord & Mustapha Khayati]. ‘Les luttes de classes en Algérie.’ International Situationniste, no. 10 (Mars 1966), pp. 12-21. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/10.Algeria.htm.

Internationale Situationniste [Mustapha Khayati]. ‘De la misère en milieu étudiant considérée sous ses aspects économique, politique, psychologique, sexuel et notamment intellectuel et de quelques moyens pour y remédier.’ U.N.E.F. Strasbourg, 1966. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/poverty.htm.

Internationale Situationniste. ‘Définitions minimum des organisations révolutionnaire.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 11 (Octobre 1967), p. 54. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/11.mindef.htm.

Internationale Situationniste [Guy Debord]. ‘Le commencement d’une époque.’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969), pp. 3-34. English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.era1.htm & http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.era2.htm.

Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Banalités de base (I).’ Internationale Situationniste, no. 7 (Avril 1962). English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/7.basic1.htm.

Raoul Vaneigem. The Revolution of Everyday Life (aka ‘Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations’). Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. London: Rebel Press, [1967] 2001. English translation available online: http://library.nothingness.org/articles/SI/en/pub_contents/5.

Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Avis aux civilisés relativement à l’autogestion généralisée.’ international situationniste, no. 12 (Septembre 1969). English translation available online: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/12.selfman.htm.

Raoul Vaneigem. ‘Notes on the SI’s Direction, March 1970’. Translated by Reuben Keehan. Available online: https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/direction.html.

Raoul Vaneigem. Raoul Vaneigem: Self-Portraits and Caricatures of the Situationist International [2014]. Translated & détourned by Not Bored from the French Rien n’est fini, tout commence [2014], 2015. http://www.notbored.org/caricatures.pdf.

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One Response to On Gilles Dauvé and the Situationist International

  1. SamFanto says:

    There seems to be a massive gap in your knowledge, which is not really your fault as the following has had very little publicity amongst those influenced by the situationists – “the situationist international: a critique of the situationist international as an organisation (1977)” – here: http://dialectical-delinquents.com/articles/war-politics/the-situationist-international-a-critique-of-the-s-i-as-an-organisation-1977/
    Despite its cold style, it seems to be an important critique of Organisations and the fetishism of organisational forms.

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