Tag Archives: subversion

SWILL: First International (Situationist)

impermanence
Impermanence Of Placement
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To: sworg-talk@scenewash.org
Date: 23 Feb 2001 03:07:35 +0000

BEGIN ANOTHER SWILL, THIS ONE WON'T LAST FOREVER

Rebunk: The title might need a little adjustment in order to differentiate it first of all from the slew of post-situationist "critiques" of the SI that appeared in the 70s and early 80s, more often than not prey to gross misreadings and historical misunderstandings (e.g. Barrot, Winks, Home).

Well, how about Transcendence or Supercession of the 1st SI? More to the point, though less challenging perhaps. (Challenging is good innit? or not—depending really on how highly you rate the current crop of phoney situationists...). But in any case, this is a brief 10-odd point declaration we're aiming at here, not a literary career a la Home et al.

Rebunk: ...and secondly, from the tendency to fetishize the 1962 split between the SI's "artistic" and "political" factions—effectively into "first" and "second" Situationist Internationals

The POINT remember is to compose a scientific method for critique, to examine how reality and historical change are ordered. This is exactly what Marx and Engels hoped to be developing in dialectical materialism (and yer empirio-criticism, too, of course) and what has subsequently been LOST.
Okay. So how about Supercession of the 57 varieties of the Situationist International. I see this document with a can of tomato soup backdrop—or has that been done? Hell no—that was Campbell's but this is Heinz.

Of course the reference to "First" also possessed a threatening spin. One does not have to STATE that one intends to reconstitute a 2nd or 3rd Sit International (which as I see it would make little sense from a semantic point of view) but the implied suggestion that the past be replaced with a present and a future...this would bring out the woodlice or at least set them squirming a little in their rotting crevices...no? Oh well, I'll settle for the soup can then.

Article 1 read:

The SI inherited the incomprehension of dialectics that was already rife amongst (so-called) Marxists. Whilst on the surface the objection may seem merely one of perspective, to think of dialectical "opposition" as the motor of historical social change is in fact a fatal error—it results in several weaknesses which include (amongst others!) the failure to resist the transformation of subversion into a posture supporting the status quo.

Rebunk: This is a good point in terms of its acknowledgement of the potential recuperation of oppositional poses.

The only social contract worth having is the one that guarantees to us the world we want to live in and none of these wankers—communists, anarchists and situationists, has anything to offer which doesn't come cheaper when it's stolen.
Nope, nope, nope. I mean a lot more than that—there's no "potential" about it. What is being stated here is a general scientific objection to the law of dialectics as framed in Marxism and the alternative postulate does not apply simply as a warning re politico-poseurs but as a general description of reality. The POINT remember is to compose a scientific method for critique, to examine how reality and historical change are ordered. This is exactly what Marx and Engels hoped to be developing in dialectical materialism (and yer empirio-criticism, too, of course) and what has subsequently been LOST. (Hence the reversals of the late 20thC —which floundered along instead by leaning on slogans and comprehending nothing—least of all itself.)

Rebunk: ...but such a co-optation occurs even to those scientific Marxists who reject dialectics, and those self-styled anarchists who reject Marxism.

Exactement—and more besides. In Varela's terminology, such "dialectics" are in fact enactments, static phenomenological entities, fields, states which emerge and constitute themselves through a self-preserving tension. However co-optation only occurs if you play the game of taking sides in these games. It's a FRAUD to take sides in them—a decision to maintain a certain static posture in conspiracy with the "opposition" which is therefore nothing of the kind but in fact a co-conspirator. How you deal with this fact is a matter for you according to circumstances, but the fact I.S.. Supercession and transcendence in their various ways are, or should be, on the contrary (just like detournement) an escape from such predicaments—a genuine betrayal of the conspiracy. But the conspiracy will try to retrench itself on the basis of the new betrayal, and must be betrayed again and again...The only social contract worth having is the one that guarantees to us the world we want to live in and none of these wankers—communists, anarchists and situationists, has anything to offer which doesn't come cheaper when it's stolen.

I have no such aspiration: I declare my interest from the very start, I declare myself to be a LIAR and a CHEAT (if you like) and thereby become not an icon like Derrida but that "contradiction" in terms—a tangible enigma—a liar with an honest intent, a monster with a beautiful dream. Better that by far than the converse.
Rebunk: Indeed, the SI's grasp of dialectics as theoretical device is actually pretty good, despite the fact that it didn't really reach its full critical potential until after the group's dissolution (in Debord, Sanguinetti and Sebastiani's later writings).

Point us to these better grasps of dialectics Reeb. If they are actually good enough they should form part of the declaration.

Rebunk: You can prove anything with dialectics (whereupon he proceeded to justify the development of Stalinism).

Well, of course. In fact, you cannot prove anything WITHOUT dialectics since so-called meaningful language is composed entirely of words which depend upon a dialectic in order to exist (except, arguably, the word *TAO* but lets skip that one for now). However, the notion that you can prove anything is demolished as soon as you overthrow the false understanding of dialectics itself. Which (to cut a long story short) soon brings us to the subject of Derrida. Derrida however seems to have succumbed—or permitted Deconstruction to succumb—to the (dialectic) illusion of having transcended dialectics: of claiming (albeit in a novel kind of way) to have attained true PURITY, true detachment. I have no such aspiration: I declare my interest from the very start, I declare myself to be a LIAR and a CHEAT (if you like) and thereby become not an icon like Derrida but that "contradiction" in terms—a tangible enigma—a liar with an honest intent, a monster with a beautiful dream. Better that by far than the converse.

Maybe I'm going too fast here.

—kubhlai