The First Signs of a Revolutionary Culture in Israel
Internationale Situationniste #4 (June 1960)
Translated by Reuben Keehan
THE VERY CONCEPT of the constructed situation is continually distorted by the existence of a daily psychosis that plunges human beings into a pathos of irremediable mediocrity. It is time to struggle against this mediocrity, to struggle against those self-righteous pacifists and so-called progressives who are content to wallow in the turgid morass of their own inadequate verbiage. It is time to get down to the permanent revolution of the spirit, to use paranoia and sensationalism to our own ends in short, to become agents provocateurs.
The atrocious paradox of our civilization is that economic powers alone possess the most modern technological means, that they alone have them at their disposal, and that they use these means for the sole purpose of "making more money," of generating millions to profit from their leisure in an even more ridiculous, more bourgeois, more beastial manner. And with their own lack of desires, the masses find themselves subjugated to the dictatorship of the unions, which for the last fifty years have assumed the patriarchal role of the patron or the ironmaster.
In Israel, a country in the making, these developing forces have so far expressed themselves even more insufficiently, because the problems of "how to live" are imposed on individuals in such a crucifying way. Still bound to ancestral atavisms buried deep in their unconscious, they no longer think can no longer think about anything but their own immediate concerns, that is to say about how to increase their creature comforts in the most effective way possible. The population is supplied with human elements that are for the most part primitive, and this fusion is consciously carried out with the gift of American comfort, an obligatory and even forced comfort. These poor fools, blinded by rigid dogma (the worst that the Bible has to offer), taken in by the tarnished halo of socialism and liberalism, are further dazzled by being provided with washing machines, refrigerators, and rather hideous housing. In higher places, an American style unionism is being cemented, and the intellectuality of conscious people is held in suspicion. With such social barriers firmly in place, a clearly delimited caste system is beginning to appear.
But class conflicts don't even occur in this new supposedly socialist country, which is forged only by a new ruling class that circumstance and the abnegation of a few thousand have placed at the head of an embryonic nation whose various elements are well on their way to being completely homogenized, and above all depersonalized (when they're not being bribed).
It would have been possible to cling to a hope more tangible than spoken dreams or the desire for a better future, if an exceptional and revolutionary art had burst forth from these conditions and supplied a source for new creation. But deception lives on. An artist wanting to create again, wanting to smash their way out of the stultifying framework of Judaism, is nowhere to be seen.
However, an Israeli barbarism has started to take shape, and it is on this that we depend. It appears in the new generation: the sunburnt boys and inspirational girls. While life is the cities deteriorates, the countryside, that is to say the kibbutz and cooperative agricultural colonization, forges ahead in spite of it all. The new industries established since the proclamation of the State of Israel have given birth to a proletariat, but a proletariat that still lacks consciousness, an almost robotic proletariat. While these young proletarians are becoming increasingly automatized, watching their minds drain away day after day, the young peasants are turning their backs on their weary elders.
Israel's revolutionary consciousness can therefore come only from the earth, from the desert, from the colored sands of the Negev: from effort. Israel's revolutionary consciousness will also come from intelligence, from a few reasonable minds constantly on the move. The future of Israel is beginning to take shape. It starts with the impact of new forces that can be glimpsed in a few signs finding themselves echoed in the Israeli spirit.
Modernism alone is not enough: in a truly revolutionary society, the new will destroy itself.