Thursday, 20 September 2007

From "Why Art Can't Kill the Situationist International"

By T.J. Clark and Donald Nicholson-Smith.

Proposition 2: The SI in its last ten years was an art-political sect, consumed with the lineaments of its own purity, living on a diet of exclusions and denunciations, and largely ignoring the wider political realm, or the problems of organization and expansion that presented themselves in an apparently prerevolutionary situation. Call this the clean-hands thesis. Or the burning-with-the-pure-flame-of-negativity thesis. (Proposition 2 is subscribed to, be it said, by many of the SI's admirers.)


Like all good travesties, these four propositions are not simply lies [...] Each proposition has a barely hidden corollary, and it is the truth of the corollary that this Left wants (and needs) to affirm.


Corollary 2: Therefore, the failure of the established Left to pose the problems of revolutionary organization again, and come to terms with the disaster of its Leninist and Trotskyite past, likewise does not matter. Such things are distractions. Dirty hands make light work. And the Left's love affairs with the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, or the foci of Che Guevera and the Ecole Normale Superiere, or the Burmese road to socialism, or the Italian Communist Party, or Tony Benn and Tom Hayden -- or a hundred other objects that left the Situationists cold for reasons stated by them in detail at the time -- are now so much water under the bridge. Jedermann sein eigner Fussball [every man his own football], apparently. The Left may have prostrated itself in front of Mao's starving and stage-managed utopia. But at least it was not fooled by black uprisings in the United States. So many misled, premature lumpens, lacking (the Left's) direction, unaware that the time was not ripe for insurrection (for these guys it never is or will be). "Spontaneity"! The very word brings on a shudder or a giggle.

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