The Dark Turn Ahead
Internationale Situationniste #2 (December 1958)
Around the admiral, the starfleet commanders gather... "Our scouts have just discovered a world that seems to unite all the necessary conditions!"
AT THE CENTER of our present collective action, there is the urgent obligation to provide a better understanding of the exact nature of our specific task: a qualitative leap in culture and everyday life. We must examine everything that such an intention entails, but also the outdated attitudes that it definitively rejects, or whose only preservation should be as temporary and residual tactics. First of all, this consciousness should be brought, in every sense of the word, to those comrades so impressed by their adherence to a new program that they are not sufficiently concerned with the new practical activity that corresponds to it.
Could the situationist organization, which pushes problems as far as possible in order to clarify them and verify their data in the light of experience, be useless after all? This is what we must conclude if the SI proves to have arrived prematurely, if sooner or later it cannot utilize whatever means are necessary for the constructions it has in mind.
But in spite of the general economic and political aspect of the question, the possession of these means depends largely on us, on our theoretical lucidity, and on our propaganda for new desires. If our ideas themselves have a vague, utopian side, this is due less to the impossibility, at such a primitive stage, of verifying the bulk of our hypotheses in practice, than from our incapacity to think rigorously enough in common.
This or that detail of our undertaking can hold no interest whatsoever if all the elements that pass through the SI fail to complete situationist operations on their own ground. If, despite the necessity of the leap into a higher sphere of action, the difficulty of understanding this leap cannot be overcome, artistic traditions will seize control of the SI and no moral or organizational severity will be able to prevent their triumph. Such a retreat in the necessary cultural revolution would have an enormous impact.
With modern conditions as its point of departure, ours is the first systematic effort to discover new possibilities, new needs, higher forms of play. We are the first to experience a new kind of passion, linked to the present and to the near future of urban civilization, that should not be interpreted (taking traditional artistic expression as a new theme), but whose transformative energy should instead be embraced and directly lived.
We stand for the day that the power of freedom gains infinite earthly means, for those who will obtain such leisure. We therefore have a duty not to devalue, in polite opposition to dominant culture, whatever precursory slogans we might find. If situationist action cannot be achieved, we should not allow any deceptive behavior to be publicized. More modest, more clandestine forms of action should therefore be adopted. Everyone has made up their mind on this point: is a large enough number of situationists not formally rallied artists, but professionals of this new activity going to answer our call?
The absolute priority of the problem of our reinforcement by this virtual mass must take precedence over every aspect of the SI, in particular leading us to reject proposed alliances. The call to order of a "revolutionary front in culture" adopted by our groups from the Alba Congress was positive to the degree that it contributed to our unification in the SI; but disappointing with regard to our relationship with the Czechoslovakian group, or with others publishing small journals in Italy and Belgium. The pressure from these external elements, incapable of conceiving of the turn before which we find ourselves, can only add to the confusion in the SI, reinforcing its "right wing."
We must quickly extend our truly situationist base and develop its program. This question will dominate our next international conference. The majority and minority will be defined along these lines.