Critique in Shreds
Internationale Situationniste #9 (August 1964)
Translated by Thomas Y, Levin
AN ENTIRE GENERATION of leftist thinkers forced into retreat can only conceive of exhibiting itself as the caricatural image of submission. This takes one of two forms: either they offer themselves up to some promising reheated Stalinism (usually of a Chinese sort) in order to satisfy some religious masochism of the martyr delightfully ridiculed and rejected by what he worships and is not meant to understand. Otherwise they marvel at the splendors of the technocratic success offered them, a success all the more merited and quickly achieved the more subtle and detailed their critique of the dominant social order. In order to improve and render eternal its own operation, this dominant order will then extract the best part of the critique that will modify it step by step in both a revisionist and revolutionary manner. The wages of idiocy immediately exhibited by these
managers of criticism, of a gimmick-critique, are themselves already the best victory of the oppressive and stultifying system. [Serge] Mallet, the eulogist of the Loire-Atlantic, is totally moved to discover in the most recent compilation of mush by André Gorz a number of banal truths that have been expressed for years by all the avant-garde movements or perhaps simply by [John Kenneth] Galbraith. His technocratic pride then swells so far that he publicly praises participation in the leading economic spheres, and loudly faults the primitivism on the part of Engels who supposedly did not dare to acknowledge his well-being. And [Paul] Cardan, when he is not organizing votes for or against the meaning of the Realm of God, presents to his movement (whose mission is to "recommence the revolution") the same anti-Marxist and grossly falsifying platform that was proclaimed by the professors of philosophy in 1910.
Although the members of the A.F.P.C. [Franco-Chinese People's Association] cannot but hope for recognition from the representatives of China, they are sufficiently lucid not to get annoyed if and when the answer is "no." They are also big enough not to plunge into despair if Peking, like
l'Humanité, drags them into the mud. What is most important for them is less the success of their little project of a Franco-Chinese People's Association, but rather some kind of Franco-Chinese association of some sort.
Influenced by the theories of "group dynamics" in modern sociology, the directors of associations in Paris and Lyons perceive these as means of reducing the isolation of students that is particularly severe during the first year of study. By ganizing themselves on their own, the students would be led to an awareness of their problems and also their demands . . . Congress has approved the creation of research centers, both on the national level and within local associations, that will bring to gather the members of the UNEF [National Association of French Students] and of the Support Organization of French Students for the purpose of "studying the possibility of rendering students more sensitive to their problems by means of a study carried out in the form of participant observers."
Le Monde, 13-4-63.
IN 1958, Gorz still knew nothing about the reality of the world of today's worker or indeed of economic reality as such . . . Luckily for him, and for us, he had to earn his living, which he did by writing a financial column for a major weekly paper, something which, I imagine, did not correspond whit his initial aspirations. But after all, if Engels had not been forced in 1844 to give up his life as a freelance civil intellectual in order to devote himself to "the birth of commerce," he would certainly never have gained the slightest understanding of political economy and would never have helped the young Hegelian, his friend Marx, discover it.
Philosophical analysis, once it has rediscovered the purposivity of labor relations, helps the political theorist free himself from false dilemmas of the sort "reform or revolution" . . .
To struggle against integration means to struggle "to get control of the data that form the basis of administrative politics, to anticipate the decisions of employers and propose at every step one's own alternative solution." Through such means one criticizes capitalist administration much more effectively than by any "protest speeches" . . . The struggle to create a new model of consumption, which starts by making capitalism pay the price of social facilities, strikes Gorz as one of the most important links in the chain of revolutionary reformism that he advocates, a reformism that aims at depriving capital little by little of its economic power.
Serge Mallet, France-Observateur, 21-5-64.
Editorial note: it is hardly necessary to point out that for almost all of the members of Socialisme ou barbarie the "Realm of God" is effectively meaningless, but that they do not consider this a reason to prevent another comrade who is of a different opinion from expressing himself on this issue.
Socialisme ou barbarie, no. 36, April 1964 (p.85).
The Marxist theory of history . . . is ultimately based on the hidden postulate of an essentially unchangeable human nature whose overriding motivation is an economic one.
Paul Cardan, Socialisme ou barbarie, no. 37, July 1964.