Situationists - A Reading Guide
Libcom’s reading guide to the Situationists, a revolutionary Marxist group who wrote extensively on culture and were highly influential on the events of May 1968 in France.Key texts
- Situationists - an introduction - Short and clearly-written introduction to the Situationists.
- Society of the Spectacle - Guy Debord - Seminal analysis of 20th Century consumer capitalism. Arguably the most important text of Situationist thought.
- The Revolution of Everyday Life - Raoul Vaneigm - Excellent text, written in Vaneigem’s typically poetic style, attacking the alienation of capitalist life not only at work but also in our ‘free’ time.
- Critique of the Situationist International - Gilles Dauve - Excellent overview of Situationist thought, analysing both their theoretical strengths and weaknesses.
- Situationist International - Libertarian Marxist group whose ideas heavily influenced the events of May 1968 as well as those of non-Leninist revolutionaries for years to come.
- Guy Debord - Writer, filmmaker and founding member of the Situationist International.
- Raoul Vaneigm - One of the most prominent members of the Situationist International.
- Internationale Situationiste - Archive of issues of the Situationist International’s journal.
- On the poverty of student life - Classic essay analysing the alienation inherent in student life and the university in general.
- Preliminaries on councils and councilist organization - René Riesel - A look at workers’ councils and the historical contexts in which they were created, challenging some aspects of the standard anarchist analysis of the events in Spain during the 1936 Revolution.
- The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy - Guy Debord- Interesting text on the 1965 riots in Watts, Los Angeles, developing into a wider criticism of the civil rights movement in general.
- Militancy: the highest stage of alienation - Organisation des Jeunes Travailleurs Révolutionnaires - A critique of the role of the political militant, it’s misery and arrogance.
- Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement - Situationist International - Written in the aftermath of May 1968, a highly interesting account of their contribution to the movement of occupations that took place throughout France during the largest wildcat strike in history.
- May 1968 Documents - Situationist International - Documents produced by the Situationist International or groups the Situationists were involved with during the mass strike and revolt of the glorious May 1968 in France.
- On the poverty of hip life - Contradiction - A critical look at the hippy counter-culture.
- Strange defeat: The Chilean revolution, 1973 - Pointblank! - Article written in October 1973 about the coup in Chile which deposed elected left-wing leader Salvador Allende.
- Self management and the Spanish revolution - Point Blank - A Situationist take on the militias and workers’ councils during the Spanish Revolution.
- On the poverty of Berkeley life and the marginal stratum of American society in general - Chris Shutes - Situationist-influenced text containing critiques of Berkeley radicalism, the marginal worker, ‘natural’ commodities (e.g. crafts, food, medicine), the car, jogging, bureaucratic reform, Reaganism, the Black Panthers, criminality, culture/aesthetics, feminism, therapy, Robert Crumb, global class struggle in the 1970s and 80s and South Africa in particular - plus more.
“Meanwhile everyone wants to breathe and nobody can and many say, “We will breathe later.” And most of them don’t die because they are already dead. ”—May 1968 Graffiti
The concept in political philosophy of recuperation was first proposed by members of the Situationist International. The term is intended to convey a negative connotation because recuperation generally bears the intentional consequence (whether perceived or not) of fundamentally altering the meanings behind ideas due to their appropriation or being co-opted into the ruling discourse.
I have rarely come across a clearer example to illustrate the concept:
Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.
If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on. Anna Bassi, Vogue Gioiello n. 109, March 2010