Review of "What is Situationism: A Reader"

a photo of the book "What Is Situationism: A Reader" by Stewart Home

A short book review from Black Flag #208.

The book itself is available on Libcom here.

Submitted by martinh on January 26, 2019

What is Situationism? A Reader
AK Press £9.95 (value or what!)

The answer, according to this collection1 is load of art toss hiding behind May 68 events for credibility.

This collection is aimed at the cultural studies/art student market. Most of it is taken from art mags and concerns a situationist art exhibition sometime in 1989 and is therefore highly important 2 . The exceptions are Jean Barrot's "Critique of the Situationist International" (published elsewhere on its own as "What is Situationism?") and a seriously dated but interesting critique of Punk; "The End of Music" (again, this is mostly in "Like a Summer of a Thousand Julys" about the '81 Riots).3

What is most striking about the collection is the lack of enthusiasm most of the writers seem to have for revolutionary social change. I may be naive to have expected it. Other than Barrot and the Wise brothers only Bob Black seems to think that there should be any revolutionary perspective to situationism.

Note: This review came from Black Flag #207, Jan 1995. This is the period when, according to Green Anarchist, Black Flag were paid by AK Press to slag off GA and censor Larry O'Hara, one of their more ludicrous claims.

  • 1Situationism always has lots of footnotes. These will be superseded with the advent of the word processor.
  • 2It is good to see that for all the emphasis on rigorous theoretical clarity, situationists are as bitchily sectarian and petty as anarchists.
  • 3Republishing old texts at inflated prices is what is known as "recuperation".