Situationism

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"The more powerful the class, the more it claims not to exist."

Situationism does not exist. Situationists - members of the Situationist International - have always believed in the imperative need to not become an ideology . Their presence on this wiki express their significant failure about it - as they have many times complained about it, especially after the events of May '68 in France. Even though it is considered as a leftist movement, Situationists did not considered themselves as members of the ideological corpus of the Left. They advocated for a very libertarian philosophy, believing in an anti-authoritarian interpretation of Marxism, and inheriting from avant-garde art movements - such as Surrealism. They believed that modern society suffers from the presence of "The Spectacle", a structure that leads citizens to being spectators of their everyday life, leading to meaningless behaviors - such as looking permanently for profit or idolizing a dictator and obeying to him.

History

In the late 1950s, concurrently and geographically parallel to cultural movements in the US such as the "Beatniks", there was a constellation of European artists and political theorists who were fans of Marxism and Surrealism. Situationist International was initially founded in 1957 as a way for artists and revolutionaries to talk together about how surrealism is ideological, they concluded they should go out in the streets interacting with random people in surreal ways, in order to evangelize their culturally liberated sensibility to others. This, they believed, would wake people up slowly, one by one, from the fever dream of their consumerist conformity. Hence, by creating interesting social situations, they hoped to promulgate more mental freedom and social/class consciousness.

In the 1960s, concurrent with exponential critical mass in social movements in the US, the Situationist Movement was considered a mass inspiration for youth protests in the May 1968 Paris general strike, which the de Gaulle government had characterized as an insurrection. The SI organization by then was not focused on artistic innovation, instead supporting artistic energy as applied to a culturally transformative youth movement and achieving the political goal of social transformation.

Foundations and Beliefs

Alienating Capitalist Spectacle

Situationists philosophized about post-war modernity from a framework that Marx got right with class but missed a few things, and assert that capitalism is beyond just materially vicious, but also philosophically insidious. It has sown alienation, commodification, and isolation of the community in favor of fetishized corporate brands and a conception that excessive spending on consumption will bring the cure to that isolation. Their solution was to subvert the culture by sowing the seeds of what may be arguably called prototypical post-modernism.

The two seminal books to come out of the movement was Debord's Society of Spectacle and Raoul Vaneigem's book, translated literally as "Treatise on Manners for a Younger Generation". Debord's book was written as a set of aphorisms, a subversion of the Tao Te Ching that critiqued capitalism's emphasis on spectacle as replacing representation with reality and essentially gutting the cultural fabric that was the working classes' last respite. Whereas Vaneigem's book, possibly sarcastically titled, takes a more proactive critique of how people fail to truly communicate with each other, encouraging the youth to engage in being more socially open.

Situations

The first edition of Internationale Situationniste defines the constructed situation as "a moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a game of events."

As the SI embraced dialectical Marxism, the situation came to refer less to a specific avant-garde practice than to the dialectical unification of art and life more generally. Beyond this theoretical definition, the situation as a practical manifestation thus slipped between a series of proposals. The SI thus were first led to distinguish the situation from the mere artistic practice of the happening, and later identified it in historical events such as the Paris Commune in which it exhibited itself as the revolutionary moment.

Détournement

A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International, and consists of "turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself," like turning slogans and logos against the advertisers or the political status quo. Détournement was prominently used to set up subversive political pranks, an influential tactic called situationist prank that was reprised by the punk movement in the late 1970s and inspired the culture jamming movement in the late 1980s.

Anti-capitalism

The Situationist International, in the 15 years from its formation in 1957 and its dissolution in 1972, is characterized by a Marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics, without separation between the two: art and politics are faced together and in revolutionary terms. The SI analyzed the modern world from the point of view of everyday life. The core arguments of the Situationist International were an attack on the capitalist degradation of the life of people and the fake models advertised by the mass media, to which the Situationist responded with alternative life experiences. The alternative life experiences explored by the Situationists were the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, psychogeography, and the union of play, freedom, and critical thinking.

Art and politics

The SI rejected all art that separated itself from politics, the concept of 20th-century art that is separated from topical political events. The SI believed that the notion of artistic expression being separated from politics and current events is one proliferated by reactionary considerations to render artwork that expresses comprehensive critiques of society impotent. They recognized there was a precise mechanism followed by reactionaries to defuse the role of subversive artists and intellectuals, that is, to reframe them as separated from the most topical events, and divert from them the taste for the new that may dangerously appeal the masses; after such separation, such artworks are sterilized, banalized, degraded, and can be safely integrated into the official culture and the public discourse, where they can add new flavors to old dominant ideas and play the role of a gear wheel in the mechanism of the society of the spectacle.

Work, leisure, and play

The situationists observed that the worker of advanced capitalism still only functions with the goal of survival. In a world where technological efficiency has increased production exponentially, by tenfold, the workers of society still dedicate the whole of their lives to survival, by way of production. The purpose for which advanced capitalism is organized isn't luxury, happiness, or freedom, but production. The production of commodities is an end to itself, and production by way of survival.

The theorists of the Situationist International regarded the current paradigm of work in advanced capitalist society as increasingly absurd. As technology progresses, and work becomes exponentially efficient, the work itself becomes exponentially more trivial. The spectacle's social function is the concrete manufacture of alienation. Economic expansion consists primarily of the expansion of this particular sector of industrial production. The "growth" generated by an economy developing for its own sake can be nothing other than a growth of the very alienation that was at its origin.

Psychogeography

The word psychogeography, suggested by an illiterate Kabyle as a general term for the phenomena a few of us were investigating around the summer of 1953, is not too inappropriate. It does not contradict the materialist perspective of the conditioning of life and thought by objective nature. Geography, for example, deals with the determinant action of general natural forces, such as soil composition or climatic conditions, on the economic structures of a society, and thus on the corresponding conception that such a society can have of the world. Psychogeography could set for itself the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, whether consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals. The charmingly vague adjective psychogeographical can be applied to the findings arrived at by this type of investigation, to their influence on human feelings, and more generally to any situation or conduct that seems to reflect the same spirit of discovery.

Random Walks

The Chilean Poet society that Alejandro Jodorowsky was involved in, documented in his film Poesia sin Fin, is a roughly contemporaneous example of Situationism. The protagonist and his poet friend decide to begin walking in a straight line no matter what and encounter a series of homeowners as they march through doors, climb through windows, amble over public barriers and so on, which causes a variety of fun social interactions and blurs property boundaries. However, these Chileans do not qualify as Situationists as they are not French, thus they are merely Sparkling Surrealists.

Personality and Behavior

Situationism is *fun*. Then, maybe Situationism is a bit too heavy. Situationism likes to get dense on theory as a flex. Situationism is almost what you'd get if you took Egoist and made him more of an artist, and dramatically more passionate about community, combined with unorthodox Marxism. Situationism is prone to random utterances of a cryptic nature, including riddles, samplings of poetry, lytotes, satire, and sarcasm. Situationism likes to take long walks through private property, and when told "excuse me, this is private property," Situationism might respond with quips such as: "What isn't?", "Super Profundo on the early eve of your day" or "Can a rabbit own property?" followed by simulated rabbit noises.

Getting oneself arrested can at times be a... situational hazard... for a Situationist.

Stylistic Notes

1. Situationism loves avant-garde art and wordy jargon.

2. He also tries his best to get Marxism and Anarchism back together whenever they are near each other.

3. He knows French and uses it all the time to add to his vocabulary.

4. Loves rewriting comics to preach his ideas.

How to Draw

Flag of Situationism

Drawing Situationism is very easy:

  • Draw a ball
  • Divide it in half diagonally, from bottom left to top right
  • Colour the top left half red
  • Colour the bottom right half teal
  • Draw the eyes

You're done!

Color Name HEX RGB
Red #FF0000 255, 0, 0
Teal #016965 1, 105, 101


Relationships

Friends

  • Council Communism - The only true road to working class emancipation.
  • Satirism - While you do little to find remedies to issues, your masterful execution of détournement is vital to our cause.
  • Marxism - You came up with an excellent means of dissecting human constructs, it would be stupid of us to not continue your analysis.
  • Post-Leftism - I enjoy critiquing consumerism with you brother, but please develop a view on economics. (Please shower though, It is becoming really hard to deal with the smell..)
  • Anarcho-Egoism & Ego-Communism - "[t]he positive conception of egoism, the perspective of communist egoism, is the very heart and unity of our theoretical and practical coherence". For Ourselves: Council for Generalized Self-Management.
  • Hegelianism - Possibly even better than Marx. Immanent critique is the greatest contribution to systematic philosophy the world might ever know.
  • Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism - Humanity will enter into space to make the universe the playground of the last revolt: that which will go against the limitations imposed by nature. Once the walls have been smashed that now separate people from science, the conquest of space will no longer be an economic or military "promotional" gimmick, but the blossoming of human freedoms and fulfillments, attained by a race of gods. We will not enter into space as employees of an astronautic administration or as "volunteers" of a state project, but as masters without slaves reviewing their domains: the entire universe pillaged for the workers councils.

Frenemies

  • Anarchism - The anarchists rightly criticize the authoritarian and narrowly economistic tendencies in Marxism, but they generally do so in an undialectical, moralistic, ahistorical manner...
  • Anarcho-Communism - A great one! But disrespect for Marxism is intolerable.
  • Every Accelerationist - So similar, yet you drown in the spectacle's politics.
  • Futurism - Essentially a situation, might as well let it happen.
  • Jean Baudrillard - While you may be influenced by me, I don't know why you rejected Marxism. Capital relations are part of the real!

Enemies

  • Libertarian Municipalism - We have seen you support the liars while you were in Paris. Your suspicious efforts to act as a mediator in New York in favor of pathetic Ben Morea and his mystical associate have finished you off. You are only spit in the horrible communitarian soup in which everyone scorns everyone else, as you all merit. Never more hope to meet a situationist (if you see one, it will be a false one), STOP.
  • Khrushchevism - THE OCCUPATION COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE’S FREE SORBONNE SENDS FRATERNAL GREETINGS TO COMRADE SVITAK AND OTHER CZECHOSLOVAKIAN REVOLUTIONARIES STOP LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL POWER OF THE WORKERS COUNCILS STOP HUMANITY WON’T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST CAPITALIST IS HUNG WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST BUREAUCRAT STOP LONG LIVE REVOLUTIONARY MARXISM.
  • Neoliberalism - LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLE OF THE JAPANESE COMRADES WHO HAVE OPENED COMBAT SIMULTANEOUSLY ON THE FRONTS OF ANTI-STALINISM AND ANTI-IMPERIALISM STOP LONG LIVE FACTORY OCCUPATIONS STOP LONG LIVE THE GENERAL STRIKE STOP LONG LIVE THE INTERNATIONAL POWER OF THE WORKERS COUNCILS STOP HUMANITY WON’T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST STOP OCCUPATION COMMITTEE OF THE PEOPLE’S FREE SORBONNE.
  • Leninism - SHAKE IN YOUR SHOES BUREAUCRATS STOP THE INTERNATIONAL POWER OF THE WORKERS COUNCILS WILL SOON WIPE YOU OUT STOP HUMANITY WON’T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST STOP LONG LIVE THE STRUGGLE OF THE KRONSTADT SAILORS AND OF THE MAKHNOVSHCHINA AGAINST TROTSKY AND LENIN STOP LONG LIVE THE 1956 COUNCILIST INSURRECTION OF BUDAPEST STOP DOWN WITH THE STATE STOP LONG LIVE REVOLUTIONARY MARXISM.
  • Maoism - SHAKE IN YOUR SHOES BUREAUCRATS STOP THE INTERNATIONAL POWER OF THE WORKERS COUNCILS WILL SOON WIPE YOU OUT STOP HUMANITY WON’T BE HAPPY TILL THE LAST BUREAUCRAT IS HUNG WITH THE GUTS OF THE LAST CAPITALIST STOP LONG LIVE FACTORY OCCUPATIONS STOP LONG LIVE THE GREAT CHINESE PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION OF 1927 BETRAYED BY THE STALINIST BUREAUCRATS STOP LONG LIVE THE PROLETARIANS OF CANTON AND ELSEWHERE WHO HAVE TAKEN UP ARMS AGAINST THE SO-CALLED PEOPLE’S ARMY STOP LONG LIVE THE CHINESE WORKERS AND STUDENTS WHO HAVE ATTACKED THE SO-CALLED CULTURAL REVOLUTION AND THE MAOIST BUREAUCRATIC ORDER STOP LONG LIVE REVOLUTIONARY MARXISM STOP DOWN WITH THE STATE.
  • Mediacracy - The spectacle that I wish to shatter.
  • Capitalism - The one who wishes to uphold the spectacle.
  • Fordism - Ok, this is my worst nightmare.

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