Henceforth a ‘universal communications network’ radically suppresses the distance between things while indefinitely increasing the distance between people. Circulation in such a network ends by neutralizing itself, in such a way that the future solution will consist in making people circulate less and information circulate more. People will stay home, transformed into mere audiovisual 'receivers’ of information: an attempt to perpetuate in practice the current — i.e., bourgeois — economic categories, in order to create the conditions for a permanent and automatic functioning of the present alienated society, 'a more smoothly running machine’.
Language is the poisoned air we live in. In spite of all our jokers, words don’t play; and in spite of Breton, they don’t make love except in dreams. Words work, to the profit of the dominant organisation of life.
All the King’s Men, Internationale Situationniste #8 in 1963
59: Behind the glitter of spectacular distractions, a tendency toward banalization dominates modern society the world over, even where the more advanced forms of commodity consumption have seemingly multiplied the variety of roles and objects to choose from. The vestiges of religion and of the family (the latter is still the primary mechanism for transferring class power from one generation to the next), along with the vestiges of moral repression imposed by those two institutions, can be blended with ostentatious pretensions of worldly gratification precisely because life in this particular world remains repressive and offers nothing but pseudo-gratifications. Complacent acceptance of the status quo may also coexist with purely spectacular rebelliousness — dissatisfaction itself becomes a commodity as soon as the economy of abundance develops the capacity to process that particular raw material.
Situationist graffiti, sprayed by the group King Mob along the tube tracks near Royal Oak station in London in the early 1970s.
On Election Day it seems appropriate, if somewhat depressing, to remember that some things never change.
“When the real world is transformed into mere images,
mere images become real beings - dynamic figments that provide the direct motivations for a hypnotic behavior.”
Schultz’s (2013) remake of Guy Debord’s (1973) film has managed to both update and translate the complexities retained within the original film and text (1967). Schultz integrates stolen images ranging from Beyonce to Book Bloc in a film worthy of reintroducing the concepts of spectacular capitalism and detournment to a new generation of radicals.
Common sense is a compendium of slanders like “We’ll always need bosses”, “Without authority mankind would sink into barbarism and chaos” and so on. Custom has mutilated man so thoroughly that when he mutilates himself he thinks he is following a law of nature. And perhaps he is chained so firmly to the pillory of submission through suppressing the memory of what he has lost. Anyway, it benefits the slave mentality to associate power with the only possible form of life, survival. And it fits well with the master’s purposes to encourage such an idea.
Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life, p. 97.
On January 16 of this year some revolutionary students in Caracas made an armed attack on an exhibition of French art and carried off five paintings, which they then offered to return in exchange for the release of political prisoners. The forces of order recaptured the paintings after a gun battle with Winston Bermudes, Luis Monselve and Gladys Troconis. A few days later some other comrades threw two bombs at the police van that was transporting the recovered paintings, which unfortunately did not succeed in destroying it. This is clearly an exemplary way to treat the art of the past, to bring it back into play in life and to reestablish priorities. Since the death of Gauguin (“I have tried to establish the right to dare everything”) and of Van Gogh, their work, coopted by their enemies, has probably never received from the cultural world an homage so true to their spirit as the act of these Venezuelans. During the Dresden insurrection of 1849 Bakunin proposed, unsuccessfully, that the insurgents take the paintings out of the museums and put them on a barricade at the entrance to the city, to see if this might inhibit the attacking troops from continuing their fire. We can thus see how this skirmish in Caracas links up with one of the highest moments of the revolutionary upsurge of the last century, and even goes further.
Guy Debord, The Situationists and the New Forms of Action in Art and Politics