A Moralist

The SI's critique of Louis Janover of the journal Front Noir. From Internationale Situationniste #11 (October 1967).

Submitted by Fozzie on April 5, 2023

[Louis] Janover, the ex-editor of Front Noir, who now seems to be the only author in issue #1 of the Cahiers de Front Noir,1 is a moralist, simply because he collected for [Maximilien] Rubel the famous "ethical" explications of [Karl] Marx's works, one of the numerous sources of pseudo-unification that is useful for the job2 of the Marxologue who is paid well by all of the modern States, that is to say, useful to anyone who is incapable of conceiving dialectical thought. [Max] Stirner was not wrong to say that all moralists have slept in the bed of religion and, for example, the ethics affirmed by Hanover -- despite his lip-service to the "Dionysiac dream" of utopian socialism -- smell more of the kill-joy [l'eteignoir] than of Fourierism: "All forms of amorous reciprocity, insofar as they distance themselves from sexual relations founded on animalistic satisfaction or the necessity of reproduction, are indissociable from sexual fidelity. All intellectual affinity, moral or emotional, disappears in cases of infidelity because they suppose that trust and mutual love haven't acquired enough force to give birth to a fixation superior to the sexual instinct of the animal" (page 30).

This honest moralist, who sets himself up as the exclusive depositary for revolutionary purity -- everything that is not a part of his insignificance appears to him as mere arrivisme -- was stung by the [editorial] note that we dedicated to him in I.S. #10 (page 72: "L'armee de reserve du spectacle").3 He doesn't go as far as respond to this precise article, which is effectively unanswerable. But all the same there's been progress: now he names the SI when he attacks it, and directly quotes us. We want to make it clear that, for us, Janover is discredited, not only because the dissimulation and falsification of reality is "immoral," but also because it is fundamentally incompatible with the methods and goals of a revolution that must abolish ideology and class. However, Janover's moralism is agreeably evident in his manner of quotation. He selected the three rare phrases in which the situationists used concepts from the old (Trotskyist) ultra-Left in a non-critical manner (and this concerning marginal points in "cultural" texts). We believe that it hasn't escaped anyone that the SI's theoretical investigations have -- fortunately -- constituted a movement that is deely sincere [approfondi] and unified in its commitment to correcting a good number of its first presuppositions: we have written as much in I.S. #9, pages 3 and 4. As if by chance, the quotations selected by Janover all come from the first issue of I.S., and particularly from a text that pre-dates the formation of the SI by ten years. But honest Janover would like people to believe that we opportunistically flit about, in every [written] line, between incompatible positions, at the will of fashion, from one day to the next.

How can he make disappear the real development of our theoretical work, which hasn't been published without effecting certain, already perceptible changes in intellectual methodology, and that he himself hasn't disdained from using (because he hasn't only read Rubel)? His method is simple and direct. So as to show that the SI has, "in the hope of throwing us off the trail," flipped from a kind of perfect bureaucratic Trotskyism to its current positions, Janover introduces his little series of quotations, not dated but more than a decade old, with the simple remark: "just yesterday it was a question . . ." (page 75). This just yesterday is the best of this kind of moralism, to which Janover's reputation certainly can't fail to forever remain monogamously loyal, without "throwing us of the trail."

Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2006. From https://www.notbored.org/janover.html

  • 1Trans. Notebooks of the Black Front, a surrealist journal.
  • 2Trans. English in the original.
  • 3Trans. See Internationale Situationniste #10 May 1966. "The reserve army of the spectacle" has never been translated into English.