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A Proposal for the Organization of Our Future Publications

René Riesel

26 August 1969

Translated by Reuben Keehan

TO THE MEMBERS of the French Section of the Situationist International

Copies to the American, Italian and Scandinavian Sections


In the discussion that has taken place since Guy Debord's announcement on 28 July of his intention to no longer assume legal and editorial responsibility for the French journal [Letter to the French Section of the SI], it is the second point that clearly appears to me as the more central; furthermore, we have concurred that it would be desirable for "programs" for the future form of the journal to be proposed and discussed at the eighth conference (in Venice, September 1969).

In order to avoid another reason for confusion regarding work on the conference (due to the fact that no texts will be written in advance, apart from sectional reports, which are minimal), I propose that we now begin to discuss it here — even if it is a little late — and the final state of the debates will be incorporated into the French section's report.

Certainly, the problems raised by the "handing over" of the journal are closely linked to our lack of activity in the last six months (culminating in the absence of Mustapha [Khayati]'s article), that is, to the tasks that the SI is now going to set itself in France, and following that, to the problem of a more democratic distribution of tasks.

The best part of our activities in the past month has concerned the expansion of the SI and the fact that the International is now becoming a reality, particularly with the fertile activity of the Italian section and the close relationship that it has maintained with other sections — or at least with the French. Meanwhile, however — and not referring solely to the ridiculous state of our communication with the American section — we have gone into hibernation: the absence of any theoretical debate; routine absences from meetings. . . . we hardly even go out.

The enlargement of the French section since the "April Theses" and the occupations movement was undoubtedly intended to correct at least one aspect of our earlier habits. But on the contrary, Guy [Debord] assumed editorship of more than 70% of issue 12, and I don't think he's had such a limited theoretical discussion at any other point in the "3rd phase." While "solo il meglio sara sufficiente," and given the SI's commitment to always be more democratic, we aren't that far from needing to be careful not to be less. In addition to the fact that Guy has assumed this role "for such a long time," another insufficient reason is that, for issue 12 in any case, no situationist task occupied anyone else during this period. What it comes down to is this: we still haven't found what our new tasks are in addition to the theoretical elaboration that remains to be pursued — the level at which we must operate from now on (especially when it comes to the ongoing absence of any autonomous revolutionary movement apart from ourselves).

I believe that only a thorough discussion will provide a satisfactory choice for the new form of the journal and determine its exact place in relation to our other activities. Nevertheless, it already seems clear that the French journal must cease to be a theoretical reservoir for the journals of the other sections. The opening of the new international revolutionary period is calling its new theoreticians — the councilist debate has only just begun, and poorly on our account: with all the current sections of the SI at work in zones where the old mole is not far from the surface, it is not possible to put forth any theoretical underdevelopment whatsoever in order to escape from this wholly international debate. It should be possible to publish the theoretical articles of other sections in the French journal. On this point, what we've seen of the Italian comrades' "taste for theory" is already a guarantee for the future.

I therefore propose a few formal measures that correspond to the present state of discussions and which must be transformed in relation to the more general discussions that we ought to pursue. Their advantage will essentially be in arriving at immediate analyses of exemplary facts.

1. Half-yearly frequency (at least 3 issues every 2 years). Instead, as this has been the case until now, each issue should cover a selection of events of great importance, as it takes little historical distance to arrive at immediate analyses of exemplary facts.

2. The director must be on completely equal footing with the other comrades.

3. The editorial board should be reduced to between 2 and 4 members who have the real work of "directing" the journal, and must be reshuffled, say, every 2 or 3 issues.

4. I think that each issue (of about sixty pages) must include as many unsigned articles as possible, in the style of current "grandes notules," written by a commission of several comrades designated to that task.

5. Signed articles must be the expression of permitted "tendencies" if they are in the process of being worked out, or are hypotheses to be discussed.

6. Theoretical texts in the form of brochures should appear between each issue of the journal (which can be prolonged in the journal by the signed articles).

It is true that, as with our own efficiency, in judging the efficiency of these formal measures we are our only tribunal, but it is no less true that we are the most merciless of judges.