Situationist International Online

pre-situationist archive

situationist international archive

post-situationist archive

situationist chronology




news & updates

site search

notes & sources


text archives > situationist international texts >

Letter of Resignation from the Situationist International

Raoul Vaneigem

14 November 1970

Translated by Lucy Forsythe and others

THE TENDENCY WHICH constituted itself on 11 November 1970 as the French section has the merit of being the last abstraction to be able to formulate itself in, for and in the name of the SI. If it is true that the group has never been but the sum of the capabilities and the weaknesses, very unequally distributed, of its members, there is in the moment which concerns us no apparent community, not even any tendency which might make us forget that each one of us has to answer for himself alone. How could what was impassioning in the consciousness of a common project change itself into a malaise of being together? This historians will establish. I don't feel in myself the vocation of historian, not that of thinker, in retreat or not, to become an old soldier. Beyond the casual analysis of a little penetration of situationist theory into the worker milieu, and of a little proletarian penetration into the situationist milieu, this would instantly be nothing more than a pretense of the good false consciousness of our failure.

But, no doubt, to be concrete at last — for there is no concrete response other than the proof that each one must give of what he really is — I Must speak instead of my failure. As for the past, I have always attributed, very casually, to most of the comrades or ex-comrades of the SI at least as much capability and honesty as I perceive in myself, thus deluding myself about them and me at the time.

I calculate pretty well what tactics, skillful, more or less expert, and always odious, such an attitude has been able to stir up in the International; and, contradictorily, what ideological conditions it has been able to create. This much said, the individual history of the comrades, my history, and collective history will be part of my errors and of my correct choices. (Nevertheless, I specify that I'll spit in the face of anyone, present or future, who would discover in me secret intentions, of whatever sort, and would do so with that critical good faith which we so often see flaunting itself after the fact.)

For now, it is sufficient for me to declare my insolvency for having made progress a movement that I always held to be the condition of my radicality. It would be like disarming naivete itself to want again to save a group in order to save myself, when I haven't known how to make it be anything I wanted it to be. I prefer therefore to take up again the stakes that my adherence to the SI had deferred: to lose myself absolutely, or to remake absolutely my own coherence and to remake it with the greatest number of people.

But before leaving to the revolution the concern of recognizing its own people, from now on I'm sticking to what the demands that I've formulated about autonomous groups impose on me: I will not renew contact with comrades who would wish it, or whom I would wish to see, except in the effective realization of a revolutionary tumult that my taste for radical pleasure can appreciate.

If however the tendency estimates its critique to be sufficient in itself, without other evidence, to reestablish the French section, then it would have to consider me henceforth resigned, with the consequences, which I accept, of never again seeing one another.