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Summer Theory Discussion Supplementary reading for ‘The Society of the Spectacle’

“The only possible basis for understanding this world is to oppose it; and such opposition will be neither genuine nor realistic unless it contests the totality.” -Guy Debord

Sorry this is a bit late in being posted… These texts and links should be helpful for understanding the context, theoretical background and summary of the ideas in The Society of the Spectacle and further readings relating to the Situationists and the Situationist International (S.I.). If people have other suggestions for good critical introductions or texts that are interesting that relate to these ideas please post them to the comments to share them.


-Introduction to the Situationists by Jan D. Matthews (imposed) (for reading)

Bring Out Your Dead by Endnotes (for reading) (This is more of a introduction to communization, but still relates a lot of the Situationist project and is very interesting)

Paris: May 1968 Compiled by Prole.info (imposed)

Making Sense of the Situationists compiled by Prole.info (imposed)

-Situationist text archives: Nothingness , Bureau of Public Secrets and Situationist International Online

Other reading in book form:

Situationist International Anthology Compiled by Ken Knabb

Beneath the Paving Stones Compiled by Darkstar Press

Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vanegiem


Summer Theory Discussion: The Society of the Spectacle

The format for the discussion series has changed (at least for the summer) to focus on reading books instead of shorter essays, although we will be discussing only sections at a time. The discussions will still be weekly, on Sundays, at the CCC, but will now be at 1pm. We’ll see how this goes.

The Society of the Spectacle:

May 2nd: Chapters 1-3 (-Separation Perfected -The Commodity as Spectacle -Unity and Division Within Appearances)

May 9th: Chapters 4-5 (-Proletariat as Subject and Representation -Time and History)

May 16th: Chapters 6-7 (-Spectacular Time -Environmental Planning)

May 23rd:
Chapters 8-9 (-Negation and Consumption in the Cultural Sphere -Ideology in Material Form)

May 30th: Comments on the Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and Marginal Notes on Comments on the Society of the Spectacle by Giorgio Agamben

Copies of these texts will be available at the CCC for free (in zine form) and for sale (in book form). Or downloaded from here

The Right to be Greedy (selections) – Morality

This text has been added to the recently created zine archive section of this site. This section mainly consists of either texts formatted, written by us and our friends or found to be significantly inspiring and influential for this project and the people who work together on it.


Proposing a communism of greed, and lust for the pleasure of the common.  This interesting text is a mix of situationist and Stirner influenced ideas.

Here are the first few theses from this section:


The old moral question of whether one “thinks first of oneself or of others” falls apart when we come to think only of ourselves and for this reason negate the otherness of others.


Intelligence ends where morality begins. Morality ends where intelligence begins. The theory of practice, the unitary critique of all ideology, must at the same time be the critique not only of any moralism, but of any possible moralism. Every moral is subjectivity disowned and subjectivity alienated. Every moral is a psychic totem, a mental fetishobject, before which the moral fetishist subordinates himself, bows down, and offers sacrifice — indeed offers himself in sacrifice. Every ideal is separated subjectivity; a part of the self separated off, ejected, frozen, and held over the rest of the self. It is a depletion of subjectivity, a loss of freedom, a choice made in advance. The formation of the moral ideal is at the same time a decline in subjective mobility and maneuverability; a ball-and-chain about the dancer’s ankle; a self-laming and self-maiming in the dance of life.


Morality and that which ties you to it, self-guilt, guilt for even being, is an enormous encumbrance. You can throw it off! You can drop all that weighty moral baggage, before it drags you down! You don’t need it! It is but a poor substitute for the fine tool of practical intelligence, expanded self-interest, self-consciousness itself.

When, if I should encounter a contradiction between a useful abstraction I had made about my practice, and my concrete self-interest in a given situation, if I abandon my concrete desire in favor of the practice of that abstraction, that mere generalization, out of abstract respect for superficial “consistency”, or, say, at the behest of another, who threatens me with the word “hypocrite”, then I am projecting that abstraction into a position above myself, freezing it into a “principle” n1, a moral, and I am reproducing as an ideologue the other person who has rebuked me in comparison to that moral, by being susceptible to him expropriating the representation of myself which I have erected or condoned, and using it against my real self. As a mere generalization, a practical abstraction — as theory — I have already refuted it for myself in practice, proven its invalidity for this instance. But as a moral reification, on the contrary, it is my duty to obey it. Not I but “it” is my master: “it” gives the orders, I alienate my will into it; “it” is the subject of my practice, I “its” object.


The projections of my subjectivity, nurtured by guilt, stick out of my head like so many handles offered to any manipulator, any ideologue, who wants to get a hold of me, and whose trade skill is the ability to perceive such handles.

Only when I dissolve my guilt, when I free myself to be shamelessly selfish, when I grasp selfishness as my only “duty” — taking care of myself as necessarily my first social responsibility — can I be free.


The critique of the totemic relationship, clarified by Feuerbach c49 in relation to religion, thence applied to political economy by Marx c50, and lately developed one-sidedly by the Gestalt therapists (especially Perls c51) locates the inversion that lies at the heart of all domination and self-enslavement. Totemic fetishism or projection lies also at the heart of every moral ideology, which is revealed also in the observation that every ideology is a moralism, and a social plan for the allocation of guilt. While usable precisely for the same ends, ideology in general, moralism in particular, are in essence the more sophisticated and subtle means of exploitation, as opposed to naked coercion.


It is my guilt about my desires which makes me susceptible to ideological exploitation by others, and which motivates me in producing excuses and justifications (rationalizations) in terms of the dominant ideology (the ideology which I let dominate me). The trick of ideology consists in this: to re-present desires in a pseudo-universal — i.e., unselfish, altruistic — and therefore unreproachable, form, always in terms of some abstract “general interest”. In order to reconcile myself with my ideology I must make myself a liar. But it is a losers’ game. The lawyers of the dominant class already have it set up in advance their way, and here I am on their terrain. The use-value of practical generalizations is that of theory — intelligence of human practice; knowledge of means, techniques, and consequences. The use-value of morality is that of ideology — to dominate others, to attempt to get what is wanted in a narrowly selfish way, by representing it as unselfish, universal, in a climate where transparent selfishness, and transparency about desires, is not tolerated, is chastised.”


Aux Libertaires (To Libertarians) zine
12/26/2009, 1:39 PM
Filed under: update | Tags: , , ,

From the description:

“Originally written in French in August 1980 and signed by 25,000 people. Published in November 1980 by Editions Champ Libre, as part of the volume Appels de la prison de Segovie [Appeals from the prison in Segovia], which was attributed to the “Coordinated autonomous groups of Spain.”

Aux Libertaires was signed Les Amis Internationaux (“International Friends”) and is presently attributed to “that Debord guy.”

An English translation, To Libertarians, was first published in London, August 1981, by “the British Internationalists” (Michel Prigent and Lucy Forsyth). It wasn’t consulted during this translation of Aux Libertaires in 2004.

If you know where a copy of the August 1981 translation can be found, or for any other qualms, mistakes, et cetera, please contact us: frannyglass at riseup dot net.”


Not Bored #41 (Book about Guy Debord and “The Tarnac Nine”)

The Burnt Bookmobile now has copies of Not Bored issue #41 which unlike most other issues was printed as a book. They are $7 dollars per copy.

It contains:

“1. Never-before-translated texts by Debord.
2. News accounts of the selling of his archives.
3. Defenses of Debord against various “post-Modern” theorists.
4. Texts by or about the Invisible Committee, who are thought to be influenced by Debord.
5. Texts by or about the Tarnac Nine, who are thought to be the author(s) of “The Coming Insurrection.””

The Not Bored website functions as an archive of both old issues of Not Bored and many of previously untranslated situationist related texts.

A Crime Called Freedom (now out of print)

A Crime Called Freedom by Os Congaceiros is now out of print seemingly with no second print run coming from Eberhardt Press.  The highly anticipated second volume translated by Wolfi Landstreicher is canceled as well.  As this was, in our opinion, one of the best books that Eberhard produced, it seems odd.

We have a just a few copies left…

From the description on the back of A Crime Called Freedom:

“Os Cangaceiros was a group of delinquents caught up in the spirit of the French insurrection of 1968 who refused to let that spirit die. With nothing but contempt for the self-sacrificial ideology practiced by “specialists in armed struggle”, this uncontrollable band of social rebels wreaked havoc on the French state — attacking infrastructures of oppression, supporting popular revolts, stealing and releasing secret blueprints for high-tech prisons, raiding the offices of corporate collaborators, and creating their lives in complete opposition to the world based on work. This volume, translated by Wolfi Landstreicher, is the first substantial collection of the writings of Os Cangaceiros in English.”

From the description of the second volume:

“The book was tentatively titled Millenarian Rebels during production, and the final working title was Outlaws of the Sertão. In this book, members of the French revolutionary group Os Cangaceiros write about their fierce Brazilian namesakes, as well as the millenarian groups of the dispossessed and the urban poor who joined together in movements of social reform at the dawn of the 20th century, only to find themselves in an apocalyptic struggle with the Brazilian state.”

However the contents of the first volume and some of the second are now available to download.

Volume I

volume II


NYC: Action in Solidarity with California Occupations (and comments)

And some comments:

At some point a critique of some of this is in order, because these occupations are only interesting when they go outside of merely being “actions” that address a growing assemblage of issues regarding the management of capital. Certainly there are people within this who share a similar critique and are attempting to push these struggles past their allotted boundaries.   Although what is at issue most importantly about the generalization of an antagonistic practice is the possibility that while in the process it deconstructs the separate categories of student, worker, individual, etc, rather than reifies them further.  Do we dare flirt with student activism?  Or is it something to hide within?  Maybe a temporary invisibility cloak?

There are some people who want to only see activism and apply the traditional anti-political critique.  It’s so easy.  But what they miss is the student acting.  And in this acting lies the possibility of their no longer being simply students.

On a tangential note, there is a tendency of much writings coming out of the recent student movement to appropriate situationist jargon, which then has an emptying relationship on the concepts themselves.  As the SDS activist so often thinks to don the fatigues of the leftist guerrilla as did their 1960s predecessors whose image they have brought back from the dead to build the organization, the more sophisticated activist speaks in anti-activism and pro-situationist jargon.  They read The Coming Insurrection in an attempt to use new words to give life to practices that will always be dead.

Maybe this is too harsh?  There’s plenty of room for both excitement and suspicion.  Could we be so naive to think of conflict not as a force developing, but of another tendency to critique?  While at the same time it seems the only space left where anything interesting or new can happen is built within a healthy pessimism and hostility.  Where there is nothing left for us but a shared total hostility to our conditions we can finally be constituting of something different.

If you have anything to add, please do.