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Freedom to Read, but to read What?

Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958)

Translated by Reuben Keehan

THE ESCAPISM OF art and literature, the overestimation of the importance of these definite activities according to the old bourgeois perspective, appears in the European Workers' States where, in reaction against the police détournements of an attempt at real change in the world, disappointed intellectuals have come to demonstrate a naïve indulgence for the by-products and reissues of a decomposing Western culture. In a parallel illusion they have rediscovered the subject of the democratic parliamentary system. The young Polish writer Marek Hlasko, interviewed in L'Express (of 17 April 1958), justified his intention to return to Poland — where, according to the assured opinions he himself has expressed, life is unbearable and no improvement is possible — for this stupefying reason: "Poland is an extraordinary country for a writer, and the consequences of living there are worth suffering."

We have no regrets about the decline of Zhdanovism, despite the stupid interest in Czechoslovakia and Poland in the more miserable aspects of the end of Western culture: expressions which are no longer at the extreme of formal decomposition, but which have reached a pure neutrality — Sagan-Drouet, for example, or the artistic motivations of the journal Phases. We understand the necessity of asserting a total freedom of information and creation against the still powerful doctrine of socialist-realism. But this freedom should in no way be confused with allegiance to the "modern" culture that can currently be found in Western Europe. This culture is the historical opposite of creation, and it is necessary to seek superior constructions of life. In the Workers' States and here, real freedom is the same — and so are its enemies.