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A Few Extra Remarks
on Guy Debord - Revolutionary


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13.  l e n  b r a c k e n

distorts what was said by making what is perhaps the most
spectacular event in the Commune the most important. The SI
makes it clear that what didn't happen is particularly
significant: the half-measures and timidity that reigned
were what doomed this reversal of "the coherence of the
world" (if you insist) to failure (a glorious defeat for
the SI because of the lack of leaders and because of its
festival atmosphere). While this point about half-measures
clearly picks up on the same theme mentioned in Debord's
"The Situationists and New Forms of Action in Politics and
Art," Debord wasn't talking about the Paris Commune, he was
talking about new forms, mentioning, in particular, some
revolutionary art thieves in Caracas and the Spies for
Peace in England. In point of fact, for the Communards to
have stopped with the Column, was just such a half-measure
- the spectacle isn't "concentrated in a single point," as
Marcus claims, rather spread out throughout society.
However, the spectacle as Debord conceived it didn't even
exist in 1871. Marcus would have to wait at least another
fifty years to find an event to illustrate this erroneous
point with a historical example. This reminds me of
Korsch's comments about historical specificity, the method
that distinguishes the eternal values of the bourgeois
economists from Marx's analysis of commodities in his time
(and Marx from Debord's subsequent take on the
commodity-spectacle). As Korsch put it, historical
specificity constitutes "an offensive arm in the political
struggle, an arm that opposes the apologetic tendency
defending the existing order with a critique of society, a
revolutionary tendency." And when Marcus writes about the
Commune's toppling of the Vendôme Column, he throws us off
track again with phrases such as: "To Haussmann's 'Ecce
homo!' the Communards offered Shelley's 'Ozymandias.'" The
Communards could've cared less about a pretentious poem
about some ruins in far off desert sands. If Marcus had
wanted to write about the SI's propositions on the Paris
Commune, he could've done so - instead he wrote about the
"reversible connecting factor" and the Vendôme Column as if
they had something to do with the SI's propositions on the
Paris Commune, when in fact, they don't.

DID THE SI CALL THE STRASBOURG scandal "the reversible
connecting factor" as Marcus does? No. They called it a
"scandal" in "Nos buts et nos méthodes dans le scandale de
Strasbourg" (Internationale Situationiste #11, October
1976). The distribution of so many copies of On the Poverty
of Student Life was a "moment" (their word) when a real
youth movement began to understand the SI's unified theory
that was "identified" with a unified practice, and in many
countries as the pamphlet was translated and widely
distributed. The effects of propaganda are difficult to
gauge, but it may well be that this pamphlet, at least in
part, indirectly inspired the occupations and riots and
protests, not just in Nanterre and Paris in 1968 (which is

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