Sketch of a Morality without Obligation or Sanction

A policeman assesses the swimsuits of female bathers to see if they are moral.

From Internationale Situationniste #9 (August 1964).

Submitted by Fozzie on February 15, 2023

"The only primary material that has not been subjected to experiments in our experimental epoch is the freedom of spirit and of action" (I.S. #81 ). The unity of the world manifests itself in the unity of today's oppressive conditions: its crisis is also a unitary crisis. This fundamental unity of alienation is expressed in segregations, in divisions, in incoherences, and in exacting surveillance (to the extent that ideologies are becoming weaker and must "program" every detail of life in increasingly greater doses, the surveillance of art simultaneously and necessarily becomes part of the general surveillance of power). The coherence of freedom and the coherence of oppression both require as the first step the unmasking of all personal incoherence since the latter functions as the shelter and the technology of the enemies of freedom. One example: the five loves of the Chinese student clearly convey the message of "work-family-country," here supplemented with the love of the boss (called "the people"). Raymond Borde, for years the "good Stalinist" protected by the surrealists, has now de-Stalinized himself to such an extent that he has published a pamphlet (L'Extricable) that mixes surrealism and rather conventional literary humor with a few more contemporary remarks. Borde makes no secret of the fact that work and family make him vomit and that he places his hopes solely in the simultaneous realization of revolution and eroticism. The same Borde is simultaneously a militant supporter of China. So who is the idiot? Who draws conclusions from this?

The Cape Town tribunal has issued warrants for the arrest of a thirty-five-year-old white South African musician, Stanley Glasser, and a twenty-six-year-old mulatto singer, Maud Damons charged for infringing the Immorality Act that forbids sexual relations between whites and blacks or mulattos. The accused couple have fled into the British protectorate of Bechuanaland from which they will be able to reach Tanganyika.

Le Monde, 6-1-63.

As of recently, the youth in Denmark have their own bars, off-limits to adults, which are called "Pops," a variation on the English word "pub." One can drink cocktails there, but all of them consist primarily of milk. A discotheque plays the latest hits. The young Danes can hang out there from ten in the morning until ten at night. There are already three such establishments in Copenhagen, all of them extremely successful. Boys and girls meet there to talk, do their homework, and above all just enjoy being among themselves.

France-Soir, 6-5-64.

I am not only qualified to answer questions concerning industry and agriculture; I am also qualified to answer questions about culture because I am the president of the Republic and the general secretary of the Communist League.

Tito, Nasa Stempa, February 1963.

The Soviet literary press recently had to protest against the invocation of Law No. 273 against a would-be [Eugene] Yevtushenko, the poet [Joseph] Brodsky, who was accused of leading a bohemian life. The law was adopted in 1961 by the Supreme Soviet in order to combat social parasitism and idleness.

L'Express, 25-6-64.

The proposition to replace the current identity card (incorrectly called a "passport" as it is only valid within the USSR) with a work ledger, encountered a wide response in the Soviet press, which has republished a number of readers' letters supporting the project. The new work ledger, which has become a "work passport" that everyone will have to carry with them, will contain much more detailed information than the older card. This data will include the bearer's diplomas, the stages of his career as a worker, his movements from one firm to another, his moral and professional conduct, his "social activities" during his leisure time, etc.

Such discrimination seems to have met with the sincere approval of an important category of readers who write to newspapers: elderly and middle aged workers, particularly those who have been working for a long time in the same firm. For them the project has its advantages. According to the commentaries in the press those workers with good passports would have priority over others for housing, the best vacations, the best social security rates, in trials and other sorts of disputes, and so on. A reader of Troud writes: "It would not be a bad idea for engaged women to cast a glance at the work passport of their future husbands. Good workers also make good heads of families."

France-Observateur, 12-3-64.

A number of these activities are not essentially different from those classically organized by the administrative machinery of the Komsomol. According to the Soviet press, they are characterized by the fact that the young "communards" themselves determine the rules. Moreover, the "young communard clubs" organize "open heart meetings" where they discuss the attitude of each of the participants toward the group...

These initial steps toward self-government are somewhat reminiscent — at least superficially — of certain explorations in the same direction undertaken by Western "psychosociologists."

France-Observateur, 4-6-64.

A Chinese peasant who had himself sterilized "in order devote all his energies toward the construction of socialism in China," was warmly congratulated in public by Mr. Chou En-lai — so reports the 1 September issue of the bimonthly Jeunesse communiste, the organ of the League of Young Communists . . . In general both Jeunesse communiste and Le journal de la jeunesse, the other organ of the League of Young Communists, devote a rather considerable amount of space to the issue of birth control and advise their readers who absolutely do not want to remain single to get married as late as possible . . . The League of Young Communists also publishes large numbers of letters from young people of both sexes announcing their decision to remain single and chaste.

Le Monde, 18-9-63.

Moral, civic, and political education is irregular in primary schools. It arises from the example of the teachers, from the lifestyle of the school (that is, an environment devoid of punishment), from a sort of religion of work through which politeness and morality are continuously conveyed by a without any explicit lessons on the subject. The task of the primary school teacher is to instil in a practical manner "the five loves": love of the people, of the country, of work, of national property, and of parents.

Désiré Tits, Lettre de Chine (distributed by the Belgium-China Association, 1963).

The Minister of the Interior has asked the police chiefs to remind the mayors that they do not have the right to authorize the wearing of the "monokini." The bathing suit, Mr. Frey went on to say, constituted a public offense against the sense of decency, punishable according to article 330 of the penal code. Consequently, the police chiefs must employ the services of the police so that the women who wear this bathing suit in public places are prosecuted.

Le Monde, 25-7-64.

Translated by Thomas Y Levin. From