Berkeley situationist flyer from November 1974 signed by Tita Carrión, Robert Cooperstein, Isaac Cronin, Dan Hammer, Ken Knabb, Gina Rosenberg, and Chris Shutes.
Concerning the Reigning Society
and Those Who Contest It
BERKELEY-SAN FRANCISCO — NOVEMBER 1974
that “the critique which goes beyond the spectacle must know how to wait”;
that spectacular society maintains us in an organized social schizophrenia, offering up utopian or nostalgic fantasies without practical consequences or empirical engagement in the here-and-now without consciousness of the totality;
that this dominant organization of confusion finds its natural expression, and reinforcement, within the very movement that wants to oppose it — in the abstract organizational form that precedes its content or the concrete association that remains unconscious of its form;
that the unceasing criticism of the revolutionary milieu, far from being a narrow or “sectarian” matter, is a central tactic, in that that milieu tends to reproduce within itself in concentrated form the principal contradictions and miseries of the dominant society it combats;
our contempt for almost all existing radical organizations, which, whether presenting themselves as a leadership to be followed or as an example of an ameliorated style of life to be imitated, give rise to illusions of the possibility of fundamental change without the complete overthrow of all existing conditions, the negation of the commodity economy and of the state;
that the next revolution requires that, for the first time in history, the masses of proletarianized individuals develop the practical consciousness of their own struggle, unmediated by leaders or specialists;
that a second international assault on class society, beginning diffusedly in the fifties and obtaining its first decisive victory in the open struggles of the late sixties, is already entering a new phase — junking the illusions and reruns of half a century ago and beginning to confront its real problems;
that in the United States, after a decade of widespread struggles questioning all aspects of modern society but for the most part from naïve or separatist perspectives, it is now the workers themselves who are beginning to struggle autonomously against the reign of separation, against the institution of work and its flip side, alienated leisure consumed in passivity;
that while the new class struggle here has not lagged behind that of the other modern industrialized countries, its consciousness of itself has (the fact that the principal texts of the Situationist International are not yet available in the most advanced spectacular society is merely the most glaring expression of this theoretical underdevelopment);
that proletarians must be confronted with the immensity of their tasks — the tasks of a revolution which, this time around, they will have to run themselves;
that if we are “difficult to understand” it is not because our language is unnecessarily complex, but because the problems of the modern revolutionary movement are necessarily complex; and that it is the very progress of this struggle toward the moment of the radical simplification of the social question which is beginning to make us less difficult to understand;
that a revolutionary organization can in no way be itself an alternative to the dominant society; that until the masses have created the conditions for the construction of a liberated social life — in seizing and transforming the material technology and overthrowing all authority external to themselves — all positive radical accomplishments tend to be recuperated into the system as real reforms or as spectacular revolution;
that the function of revolutionary organization — as of revolutionary theory and practice in general — is fundamentally negative, critical, attacking the obstacles to the realization of the conditions of positive social creativity;
that if they are to be realized in practice, theoretical tendencies or differences must be translated into organizational problems;
that the practice of theory begins at home;
that we do not constitute an ongoing revolutionary organization, formal or informal, even in cases where some of us share or have shared the same mailing addresses;
that each of us, in writing a text or in translating a text of another, is speaking to the revolutionary movement in his name only, although the general bases of modern revolutionary theory are recognized by all of us;
that if some of us have discussed and even collaborated on certain projects, we have just as often consciously avoided this, one or another among us preferring to make his own mistakes rather than rely on the protection of the good advice of his comrades;
that insofar as we do associate among ourselves or with others, we define the manner and delimit the scope of our collaboration; aiming always at inciting rigor and autonomy among the radical currents, we refuse contact with those with contrary aims or with those with whom the concrete bases for collaboration are lacking;
that the decision to pursue our respective activities independently is based on particular considerations and not on any spontaneist antiorganizationism;
that these considerations include: desirability for each of us to develop a maximum of theoretico-practical autonomy; desire to facilitate the development of distinct strategies in fruitful rivalry with each other; the state of the struggle for practical theory in this time and place;
that this decision is subject to change when the reality of our own situations or of the revolutionary movement has made possible and defined forms of association more appropriate to the tasks we set ourselves.
TITA CARRIÓN, ROBERT COOPERSTEIN, ISAAC CRONIN,
DAN HAMMER, KEN KNABB, GINA ROSENBERG, CHRIS SHUTES
You think you have something in common with us (beyond the misery that everyone shares). . . . You see something of interest in what we say. . . . Things you’ve already thought yourself. . . . We took the words right out of your mouth. . . .
Don’t bother to let us know about it.
Leave off sending us your useless praises, your idle opinions, your tedious questions, your pointless requests to meet us. We don’t want to hear about your “agreement” with us unless it bears on some practical matter.
You think you have something in common with us? Prove it.
Text from: http://www.bopsecrets.org/PS/notice.htm
Ken Knabb note: November 1974. 2000 copies. 9″ × 25″ poster signed by Tita Carrión, Robert Cooperstein, Isaac Cronin, Dan Hammer, Ken Knabb, Gina Rosenberg, and Chris Shutes. Distributed with a second poster (“Modern Revolutionary Theory”) [below] listing publications available from the signers and from the CRQS. Reprinted in Cronin and Shutes’s journal Implications (December 1975). Translated into French, Spanish, and Italian by the Agence pour l’auto-suppression du prolétariat (Lille, France, 1975). French translation reprinted by Le Temps Déborde (Toulouse). Revised French translation by KK et al. New Italian translation by Omar Wisyam (2003). New Spanish translation by Esther Quintana (2006).