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On the Poverty of Student Life by…

On the Poverty of Student Life

by Internationale Situationiste

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Hmmm, I do not think the Situationists are actually as freaky as I thought they were. Sneery, perhaps, and a little too Frenchly in love with le mot juste, but this is just a passionately felt, eloquently argued, impeccably Marxy little pamphlet that starts by hacking on students for their imbricated, logi-of-oppression-reproducing fake bohemianism (arguably all bohemianism is fake), and then moves into a discussion of revolutionary groups at the present time, looking for radical democracy and workers in council and a festival atmosphere, all the right stuff, but putting faith in all the wrong organizations to get us there--e.g. the Japanese Zengakuren, Spies for Peace, cautiously even the students at Berkeley are approved for their vim but pooh-poohed for not knowing the world has anything in it but the lecture hall, the beach and Vietnam (the biggest criticism of students, as always, isn't delusion or fake bohemianism but a little learning and no perspective, that combination of factors that lets the world be modelled as "there is the way things were," and then this arbitrary thing that happened and changed everything like a war or a piece of legislation or a dead singer, and now everything is different and awful"). It's that funny moment where the sixties still didn't know they were the sixties, still thought the socialists might be the vehicle for all that boomer vitality. We're just verging on hippie times here, and flash forward ten years and the radical liberation promised in that last pun on jouir, to enjoy/to come, would have withered and revealed itself as something surely reprehensible to a Situationist. I guess in identifying the proto-hippie students as the enemy they're scenting that, even if the critique at that moment still seems to make more sense to them couched in classic Marxist class terms, the scions of the middle class are about to birth something a lot more satisfying and distracting than a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Sex does liberate us sometimes, but mostly only from the drive to achieve revolutionary change.

So how do you "get us there"? Damned if I, or anyone, knows--but I hope it's progress that our vision of what that looks like is a lot less eager to pass judgment than this pamphlet's. ( )
2 vote MeditationesMartini | Jun 27, 2012 |
"I know terms like lucid exposition get thrown around a lot, but really, if you want a short, (relatively) simple introduction to the main situationist ideas and concepts—here it is! The legendary tract produced by Strasbourg students and SI members with student union funds, in 1966...which led to the immediate closure of the student union..."
  clpzines | Nov 2, 2010 |
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