On our distribution

Update on the publication, distribution and translation of S.I. texts. From Internationale Situationniste #12 (September 1969).

Submitted by Fozzie on April 21, 2023


This translation is a first draft, and has not been independently proofread. However, to the best of my knowledge this text has never been translated into English. Therefore I am making it available in this form with the caveat that there are likely to be mistakes in it. PLEASE APPROACH IT WITH CAUTION!

Draft 0.0 (17 January 2016)

On our distribution

In July 19681 the first issues of the journals of the SI’s American (Situationist International, in New York) and Italian sections (Situazionista Internazionale, in Milan) were published (in runs of 5000 and 4000 copies respectively).

This 12th issue of Internationale Situationniste is printed in a run of 10,000 copies. Issue 3 of the Scandinavian section’s journal (Situationistisk Revolution) is currently being printed.

The pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life has reached a total circulation that we estimate, taking its distribution in several countries into account, to be between 250,000 and 300,000 copies. Of this number about 70,000 copies were directly produced by the SI, with the remainder issued by independent revolutionary groups, or extremist newspapers and publishers. Two or three “pirate editions” (which have deleted any reference to the SI) have also been noted in France. We have already commented (in I.S. 11) on the English, Swedish, American and Spanish translations published outside France. Since then (in the spring of 1969) a further Spanish translation was printed clandestinely in Barcelona. Italian, German (Das Elend der Studenten, Berlin, 1968), Danish, and Portuguese editions have also been published. In New York, in December 1967, the English translation was reissued in a second American edition, which was subsequently serialised (starting in the December 29 1967 issue) in the Berkeley Barb, the weekly paper of the radical Berkeley students. Another Spanish translation is due to be published shortly in Mexico. In June 1968 another translation of On The Poverty appeared in issue No. 6 of Circuit, a journal by intellectuals from London, under the general heading: How To Break a System: the French Situationists.

Other SI pamphlets have also been frequently reproduced, for example: The Decline and Fall of the “Spectacle-Commodity” Economy by our American section (augmented with press clippings relating to disturbances in Newark and Detroit); and in Sweden by the revolutionary publishers Libertad (Allmänna vägen 6, Göteborg V) under the title Varn Spektaklets nedgaang och fall. The same publisher has also translated Basic Banalities (January 1968), Address to the Revolutionaries of Algeria and of All Countries, and The Explosion Point of Ideology in China. This last text was also published in Danish by our Scandinavian section. The SI’s American section has also reissued Address to the Revolutionaries, Basic Banalities, and a dozen other texts. Some SI texts have been translated by the Madrid revolutionary group the police call the “acrates”, whose members are currently serving prison terms of many years (with the exception of two or three of them who were able to elude the search).

The documents published in May-June 1968 by the SI and the CMDO have been reproduced so often that it is impossible to draw up a full list. We note only that, to our knowledge, they have been translated and published one or more times in Italy, Japan, the United States, Sweden, Venezuela, Denmark and Portugal. They had begun to be distributed in Czechoslovakia when the Russian troops took back control there.

By June 1968, six months after their publication, both Vaneigem’s and Debord’s books had sold out.

Vaneigem’s publisher immediately issued a second edition, then (when this also sold out) a third edition in May 1969. Society of the Spectacle, however, remained unavailable for eight months, until its publisher printed a second edition in March 1969. This book was published in Italy in September 1968, under the title La Società dello Spettacolo by Editions De Donato, selling many copies in “pocket book” format. The translation, however, is deeply flawed.

Translated by Ian Thompson. From https://isinenglish.com/12-8-21-on-our-distribution/

  • 1The year noted here is an error, both journals were actually published in the middle of 1969.