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potlatch #4

information bulletin of the french section of the lettrist international

13 July 1954

Translated by Gerardo Denís and Reuben Keehan

The Minimum Life - Bernstein, Conord, Dahou, Debord, Fillon, Wolman
The Best News of the Week
A Lettrist International Survey - Dahou
Next Planet
Valid Everywhere
The Right to Respond

The Minimum Life

One can never tire of saying that unionism's current concessions are condemned to failure; less by their division and their dependence on official organizations than by the poverty of their programs.

One can never tire of telling the exploited workers their lives are at stake, lives that are irreplacable and boundless in potential; that their most beautiful years are at stake, passing slowly but surely by, without any worthwhile enjoyment, without their ever having taken up arms.

We don't need to demand greater security or a raise in the 'minimum wage,' but that the masses are no longer kept at a minimum life. We don't just need to demand bread, we need to demand fun.

In the "Economic statute on light labour," defined last year by the Commission of Collective Conventions, a statute that is an unbearable injury to all that can still be expected from humans, the role of leisure — not to mention culture — was set at the level of serialized detective novels.

There's no other way out.

And what's more, with its detective novels, as with its Press and its trans-Atlantic Cinema, this regime extends its prisons in which nothing is left to gain — but where there is nothing to lose but our chains.

It is not the question of increase to salaries that should be posed, but that of the conditions forced on people in the West.

It is necessary to refuse to struggle inside the system to obtain concessions to details immediately called into question or regained elsewhere by capitalism. The problem of the survival or destruction of the system must be posed radically.

It is not necessary to talk of possible compromises, but of unacceptable realities: just ask the Algerian workers at the Regié Renault plant where their free time is, or their country, their dignity, their wives. Ask them they have to hope for. The social struggle must not be bureaucratic, it must be passionate. To judge the disastrous effects of professional unionism, it is enough to analyze the spontaneous strike of August 1953; its basic resolution; its sabotage by scabs; its abandonment by the CGT, who had neither brought about the strike nor used it to extend itself victoriously. It is necessary, on the contrary, to become aware of a few facts that can make the debate passionate: for example, the fact that our friends exist all over the world, and that in their struggles, we see ourselves; the fact also that we do not expect any compensation outside of what we must invent and build ourselves.

This is a matter of courage.

for the Lettrist International:

The Best News of the Week

General Franco received US Senator Byrd in his Prado palace yesterday for a lengthy discussion on France, which according to Franco is "in dire straits." He indicated to the senator that, for his part, he had almost given up hope for its future as a great power.

An exhibition of influential metagraphs opened on 11 June at the Galerie du Double Doute and made it to 7 July without serious incident.

A Lettrist International Survey

— What necessity do you see in COLLECTIVE PLAY in modern society?

— What attitude should be taken toward reactionary Tour de France style détournements of this need?

Send your responses to Mohamed Dahou, Editor-in-chief, Internationale Lettriste, 32 rue de la Montagne-Geneviève, Paris 5e.

Next Planet

Although their builders are gone, a few disturbing pyramids resist the efforts of travel agencies to render them banal.

The postman Cheval, working every night of his life, built his inexplicable Ideal Palace in his garden in Hauterive, the first example of an architecture of disorientation.

In this baroque palace, which détourns the forms of certain exotic monuments and stone vegetation, one can only lose oneself. Its influence will soon be immense. The life-work of a single incredibly obstinate man cannot, of course, be appreciated in itself, as most visitors think, but instead reveals a strange and unarticulated passion.

Struck by the same desire, Louis II of Bavaria built, at great expense in the mountain forests of his kingdom, hallucinatory artificial castles, before disappearing in shallow waters.

The underground river that was his theater and the plaster statues in his gardens intimate a project as absolute as it was tragic.

There are plenty of reasons for riffraff psychiatrists to intervene and for paternalistic intellectuals to launch a new-found "naïveté" with page upon page of nonsense.

But the naïveté is theirs. Ferdinand Cheval and Louis of Bavaria built the castles that they wanted to build, in accordance with a new human condition.

Valid Everywhere

"The strange outcome of the national election has not gone unnoticed. When the tally was announced, one could have easily have asked oneself if 'the people' isn't a group composed completely of millionaires, whose only opposition is an elite minority of workers."

Extract from Les Lèvres Nues #1, Brussels, Belgium.

The Right to Respond

Everyone knows that the extreme Right in France are preparing a show of strength. The provocations of 14 July 1953, as well as the riots following General Castries' surrender at Dien Bien Phu, are particular examples of this. These riots were organized by shock groups ostensibly supported by the police, and formed by Indochina veterans (cf. France-Observateur of 25 June) and marginally more intelligent young student elements. Each week, left wing newspaper vendors are attacked by thugs who seem determined to make a habit of it.

To all violence, it is necessary to respond with even greater violence: fortunately, a combative minority with an advanced revolutionary consciousness has existed in France for several years among the North African workers, who are particularly numerous in Paris and cities in the North and the East. A serious effort at propaganda among them would be extremely "profitable." The advantages of this alliance are as numerous as they appear: their street fighting techniques are equal or superior to those of highly trained paramilitary groups, and their bases are many in the districts where the Algerian cafés are full of unemployed workers.

In short, the North Africans in Paris are agreed on a number of subjects: they are more than ready to take on fascists of every stripe, no matter what they call themselves.

Despite their assistance by the police, ridding the public highways of these rogues should be a rather simple matter.


Editor in Chief: André-Frank Conord, 15 rue Duguay-Trouin, Paris 6e.