Contribution to the London Conference
Internationale Situationniste #5 (December 1960)
Translated by Reuben Keehan
FROM WHAT I'VE HEARD so far, I get the impression that a certain pessimism exists in the SI, and this pessimism is expressed quite strongly in the German section's declaration. Nevertheless, our Scandinavian expriments show that with an explosive force and a genuine theory of action, small groups can do far more than could be imagined in England, Germany or France. I've been collaborating with workers' cultural organizations for several years. The working class in the Scandinavian countries has achieved a notable degree of economic well-being. But they obviously don't know what cultural goal this economic well-being might serve, as this raises the question of the very meaning of life. Meanwhile, the workers consume the culture cooked up by capitalism, because it is the only culture around. Despite an awareness that this is only the product of cultural capitalism, the Left in modern democracy has a great deal of interest in organizing the distribution of this product; and naturally, has nothing to gain from real creation.
Just as the communists have organized shock troops simply to develop the possibilities of cultural consumption, it would be possible for the SI to form groups small in size but equipped with great force of penetration, to bring about possibilities for creation.
I myself was an executive in the metallurgists' union for three years. Two years ago, I assisted in a major congress of all Scandinavian union organizations. Someone at this congress pointed out that the strike fund had not been touched for ten years due to permanent full employment and a lack of strikes. Sweden had even imported 60,000 foreign workers. This fund was worth three million deutschmarks, and no-one had any idea what to do with the money. This was assembly's biggest problem.
The SI is the first organization with whom the groups I mentioned are able to collaborate in order to subvert all this. The good old system of infiltration needs to be put to use: there is no better means. I propose that we have secret members, ready to work illegally in various kinds of organizations: in cultural ministries, in UNESCO, governments, unions, newspapers, radio, television, and wherever else it's necessary.
Secrecy would rapidly give these agents far greater freedom of action than if they were to be known as official members of the SI. These methods, which, among other things, are adapted from certain anarcho-syndicalist experiments, would be very effective.