Someone told me once you should read the same poetry throughout your life and it will take on different meanings as you grow. I think the article in the Situationist International about the ’65 Watt’s riots must be taking on that type of quality for me. It is a great analysis that’s elucidated my understanding of society and antagonism. I linked it to a friend today and was shocked I could recite word-for-word some of phrases here, after it’s been a year or more since I read it last. Something about the SI makes me pay special attention to it. They wrote about,
“human superiority over commodities”
To me the Terminator films made this point very literally too, exposing the commodity-forms as a network circulating unto itself.
Formal commodity exchange? Wrong, that’s an unnecessary value direction.
“How do people make history under conditions designed to dissuade them from intervening in it?”
Cosmic questions like this confirm for me that SI writers went to the end of the universe and back.
“It is designed not to be taken literally, but to be followed from just out of reach; when this separation is eliminated, the hoax is revealed.”
Its literalities are realities, well, lite-realities.
“Comfort will never be comfortable enough for those who seek what is not on the market, what in fact the market specifically eliminates. The level attained by the technology of the most privileged becomes an insult, and one more easily grasped and resented than is that most fundamental insult: reification. The Los Angeles rebellion is the first in history to justify itself with the argument that there was no air conditioning during a heat wave.”
You didn’t rob the TV warehouse so you could make a living selling wares… You robbed the TV warehouse because your community needed to have a free film night. You robbed a bank because there were so many of them and you needed to see which one was safest to open an account with. You were given that Mercedes Benz by your friend Ben – and you thought it was Ben’s. It seemed like Fair Trade at the time didn’t it?
The trick to this is – society is already potlatched, or at least we think it is, and so we’ve reverse-engineered the desire leading to the irrational moment we found ourselves framed in. Like that movie where the caveman gets transported to modern civilization and starts fishing out of the aquarium.
All acts of subversion can be justified with quotes from American pop media, and defended on trial as if YOU were Judge Judy and everyone else was on YOUR show-trial. (I mean, trial-show.)
Face it you’re fucked up and you know it.
“Only when it is paid for with money is it respected as an admirable fetish, as a symbol of status within the world of survival.”
Objects glittering in hyperspace… richocheting into the past.
“For those who reduce people to objects, objects seem to acquire human qualities and truly human manifestations appear as unconscious “animal behavior.” Thus the chief humanist of Los Angeles, William Parker, could say: “They started acting like a bunch of monkeys in a zoo.””
Good point and I also love the fact that SI writers had a theme about subverting the proper titles of bureaucrats into silly monikers like “the chief humanist of Los Angeles” and simultaneously promoted themselves with false official-sounding revolutionary titles. Today’s pro-situationist anarchists will act on executive decisions made by the Institute for Experimental Freedom, or make public service announcements as the Bureau of Taking Back Public Space, and tell you their real names are Luther Blisset, Mickey Mouse, and the Karate Kid. Bitch I’m Mickey Mouse I do what I want.
“When California authorities declared a “state of insurrection,” the insurance companies recalled that they do not cover risks at that level — they guarantee nothing beyond survival.”
Wish my license plate said California: the State of Insurrection in captions.
“the fact that the entire commodity world is directed blindly and automatically to their protection, leads people to see — the moment they engage in a negating practice — that every hierarchy is absurd.”
Lots of people already engage in a negating practice, to survive even. One task of pro-SI antagonists was to simply share information that people were negating. Out of this information-sharing idea has spawned several projects for me — one of those being a film project where people on the street talked about what elements of their city could/should be negated. When you learn that your neighbors think the same way as you about a common problem its easier to feel like you can tackle the problem in a unified way.
“Freedom Now is the password of all the revolutions of history, but now for the first time the problem is not to overcome scarcity, but to master material abundance according to new principles. Mastering abundance is not just changing the way it is shared out, but totally reorienting it. This is the first step of a vast, all-embracing struggle. “
It reads like a classic speech by Abraham Lincoln everyone is supposed to know. Humanity knows what FREEDOM NOW is pretty viscerally. If a marxist Lincoln were talking about the war between humanity and commodity instead of the war between humans-as-commodities, then the address at Gettysburg could apply here too…
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
– Gettysburg Address