The World of Which We Speak
The new theory that we are constructing, despite the unusual or mad appearance it takes on in the eyes of contemporary conformism, is nothing other than the theory of a new historical moment that is already the present reality, a reality that can only be transformed through the progressive articulation of a precise critique. “Will theoretical needs be directly practical needs? It does not suffice for thought to reach its realization: reality must also seek thought” (Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right [Marx]). One need only begin to decipher the news such as it appears at any given moment in the popular press in order to obtain a quotidian X-ray of Situationist reality. The means of this deciphering lie essentially in the relationship to be established between the facts and the coherence of various themes that thoroughly illuminate them. The meaning of this deciphering can be verified a contrario by emphasizing the incoherence of various thinkers that are currently taken all the more seriously the more miserably they contradict themselves from one detail to another within the generalized fraud.
The Technology of Isolation
In today’s society, all aspects of technological development — and above all the means of so-called communication — serve to produce the greatest possible passive isolation of these individuals by a “direct and permanent contact” that operates in one direction only, that is, by incitements (to which one cannot respond) that are broadcast by all sorts of leaders. Some applications of this technology go so far as to offer paltry consolations for that which is fundamentally lacking or even at times testify to the pure condition of this lack.
If you are a TV fanatic, you will definitely be interested in the newest, most extraordinary television set in the world: a TV that can go with you everywhere. Thanks to a totally new shape designed by the Hughes Aircraft Corporation in the USA, this television set is meant to be worn on the head. Weighing in at a mere 950 grams, it is actually installed on the type of headgear worn by pilots and telephone operators. Thanks to a mount, its tiny round screen made of plastic and reminiscent of a monocle is kept at a distance of four centimeters from the eye ... You use only one eye to watch the image. With the other eye, according to the manufacturer, you can continue to look elsewhere, read, or engage in manual labor.Journal du Dimanche, 29-7-62.
The coal miner conflict has finally been resolved and work will probably resume again tomorrow. It is perhaps the feeling of having participated in the debate that explains the almost complete calm that has reigned continuously throughout the last thirty-four days in the miners’ quarters and in the pitheads. In any case, television and transistor radios helped maintain this direct and permanent contact between the miners and their representatives. However, the same media also compelled everyone to go home at the decisive hours during which, on the contrary, only yesterday everyone would go out to meet at the union headquarters.Le Monde, January 5-4-63.
A new cure for lonely travelers at the Chicago train station. For a “quarter” (1.25 francs) a wax automaton shakes your hand and says “Hello pal, how are you? It’s been great to see you. Have a good trip.”Marie-Claire, January 1963.
“I have no more friends; no one will ever talk to me again.” These are the opening lines of the confession left on his own tape recorder by a Polish worker who had just turned on the gas in his kitchen. “I am almost unconscious, no one will save me anymore, the end is near” — these were Joseph Czternastek’s last words.A.F.P. [Agence France Presse], London, 7-4-62.
Words and Those Who Use Them
“Words work on behalf of the dominant organization of life ... Power merely provides words with a false identity card ... It creates nothing, it recuperates” (I.S. #8 [All the King’s Men]). The inversion of words is evidence of the disarming of the forces of the protest that depended on those words. The masters of the world thus seize signs, defuse them, and turn them upside down. Revolution, for instance, is a standard term in advertising vocabulary. This reaches its height in the formulation “Révolution en rouge — révolution avec Redflex” [Revolution in red — revolution with Redflex] cited by the journal Der Deutsche Gedanke. From Kruschev to the priests, socialism as a concept has been given the richest variety of contradictory meanings ever consolidated in one single word. Unions have undergone such transformations that at this point the most effective strikes are those organized by the members of the privileged classes, as evidenced by the Belgian doctors this year. Not even anarchy has been spared, as one can tell from the “anarchist opinions” of the pro-Chinese Mr Siné and, even more so, by the anarchist opinions of Le Monde libertaire.
The Duke of Edinburgh has just become a member of the Labour Party’s Congress of British Unions (TUC). In fact, the Screenwriters Guild, one of whose members is Queen Elizabeth’s husband, has also just become part of the TUC.Reuters, 17-4-64.
Since in formal terms the Khmer regime draws upon socialist terminology, its republican sovereign is called “Samdech Sahachivin,” which means “comrade-prince.”Le Monde, 27-5-64.
We need to move back from Roman law to Negro-African law, from the bourgeois concept of landed property to the socialist conception of property which is that of traditional black Africa.Léopold Senghor, speech broadcast in Dakar, May 1964.
Some of the speakers could be heard expressing very serious reservations about the liberation of women. Others asserted in substance that the Algerian woman should be emancipated and reintroduced into the life of the nation, however, she must first be made to understand all of her duties and have a good knowledge of the Qu’ran and of all the religious rules. In the economic and social resolution, one then reads: “A family code consistent with our traditions and our socialist line must be developed as quickly as possible.”Le Monde, 22-4-64.
One will be better able to distinguish the different tendencies that make up the fraction of the “socialist family” brought together on the occasion of conventions ... The militant Christians participate fully in this family, but not without manifesting some annoyance since, as one of them put it, “they are tired of having to beg endlessly for a certificate of socialist baptism.”France-Observateur, 13-2-64.
He is an anarchist, if one is to take him at his word. He will confide this to you in a whisper and will even add “this is common knowledge” ... His name is Siné and he has just returned from Cuba . . . “Do the workers have an understanding of the revolution? — No, and it would be best if they never acquired one either ... Not capitalist prisons but revolutionary prisons. In the latter one is happy, almost too happy and (he adds, speaking to one of his interviewers) it would do you extremely well to go there.” These are the anarchist opinions of Mr Siné.Le Monde libertaire, September 1963.
The inevitable accounts of Ravachol and the Bonnot gang, the standard fare of all the journalists that discovered anarchy in the Ambigu and the Grande-Guignol.Le Monde libertaire, January 1964.
Leisure is Working
With the development of leisure and of forced consumption, pseudo-culture and pseudo-games not only become expanding sectors of the economy — betting on horse races has become the fifth largest business in France in terms of turnover — but tend to be what makes the entire economy run, by representing the very objective of that economy. The almost complete fusion within the cultural spectacle of what is ordinarily considered “the best and the worst” inevitably tends toward this “worst.” This is what gives the cultural spectacle its only meaning: a consumption of survival that goes so far as to prefer a socially forecast, planned, and guaranteed death. The avant-garde of capitalism is already speculating on consumption during death itself and encourages everyone to establish pensions in order to finally be able to enjoy the absolute in survival.
- Des rôles réservés au nègre dans le spectacle. — I. Bon nègre, en République Sud-Africaine, 1963.
- « Le président Johnson inaugurera mercredi la foire internationale de New-York ... un spectacle de 1 milliard de dollars … D‘autre part le Congrès pour l’égalité raciale ... a fait part de son intention
- Des rôles réservés au nègre dans le spectacle. — II. Mauvais nègre, dans le Nebraska, 1919.
- de troubler la cérémonie d‘inauguration de la foire en demandant à trois mille de ses adhérents de se rendre en voiture sur les lieux avec juste assez d’essence pour le trajet aller. »
Le Monde, 22-4-64.
The Young Musicians Club of France, Club Med, the Friends of the Book Club, and the journal Planète have just joined together to form the Association of Frenchmen of the Twentieth Century. This association — constituted according to the Law of 1901 as not-for-profit and without religious or political affiliation — is open not to individuals but to groups wishing to participate in organized exchanges between different types of leisure organizations. In listening to the organizers of the four founding organizations, one might ask oneself what unites them besides strictly commercial interests. One of the four gave the following explanation: “We all work in a realm that is little known but continuously expanding, the realm of popular culture and leisure.”Le Monde, 22-2-64.
In the latest issue of the journal published by the Barclay Bank, one reads that the Beatles represent “an invisible export that contributes significantly towards the equalization of the balance of payments in Great Britain.”Reuters, 25-2-64.
Many people like the Beatles because, so it is claimed, they express the authentic voice of the working class masses in Liverpool ... But is the “Mersey sound” really what the Communist Daily Worker claims it to be, that is, a cry of revolt emanating from the eighty thousand slum dwellings housing three hundred thousand unemployed workers? ... Even if they have retained and even emphasized the popular accent of their origins, the Beatles today speak to a much wider audience composed not only of the new working class, but also of the middle classes and all the beneficiaries of the society of adundance. And it is because they have clearly understood this evolution that their impresarios have advised them to wear clean clothes and to wash their hair.Henri Pierre, Le Monde, 12-12-63.
The largest spectacle the world has ever seen, an investment of one billion dollars (of which ninety percent will have disappeared two years later without a trace), a fantastic collection of objects and living beings: from the Watutsi dancers that comprise the personal ballet of his majesty, the King of Burundi (whose sacred drum has never before left its native land) to the most complicated electronic machines, from Michelangelo’s Pietà to the capsule in which men are preparing to land on the moon. “Peace through Understanding” is the motto of the New York [World’s Fair] that opens its doors on Wednesday ...
Visitors to the fair will travel into the future in tiny cars. They will drive through the city of the future in which all traffic problems will be resolved, highways will be tunneled underground, the parking lots located on the ground floor, the stores on the first floor, the residential houses on the second, and the parks, wooded areas, and spaces laden with plants on the third. A mere fantasy? The advertising agents of the powerful company retort that at the 1939 New York Exhibition, General Motors had already sketched a vision of highways, bridges and underground passages that seemed fantastic at the time and have since become a part of American life ...
Coca-Cola ... will offer the curious a “round-world-tour” of a very special sort. Visitors will be able “to feel, touch, and taste the most far-away places of the earth,” and, what is more, they will be able to hear the most exquisite music and song as well as experiencing a multitude of other emotions. Of course, all these smells and all these tastes will be “synthesized” and controlled automatically by electronic brains ...
The UAR will try to gain the sympathies of the Americans by showing them the gold objects of the Pharoahs. General Franco will attempt to do the same by presenting paintings by old and modern masters from Vélasquez to Goya and from Picasso to Miró ...
For art lovers there will be a huge exhibit of modern art and for the more scientifically minded there will be a pavilion housing recent discoveries. Nor have the female visitors been forgotten: in the Clairol pavilion every woman will be able to decide what she will look like in the following season — blonde, redhead, chestnut, brunette, and so on. Thanks to “practical beauty” machines they will be able to try on clothes “in color.” The pavilion will also be equipped with an electronic brain that will give good tips based on the physical data of each individual: what color she should choose for her powder, her lipstick, her eyeliner, her eyebrow pencil, her nail polish, and so on.Le Monde, 22-4-64.
Visit “Technology for Living.” “Come see how you will be living in fifteen years.” In the great room at Harrods, one of the most famous stores in London ... “Why waste your time bringing wine to room temperature? Buy an ’electronic room-temperaturizer’ : the button on the left for Bordeaux, the button on the right for Burgundy. The price: seven pounds” ... “Technology for Living” is anticipation within hand’s reach; an anticipation that one buys on credit with payments spread over twelve or twenty-four months ... “Why have wallpaper on the walls?” the female vendor continues. “Hang up heliorama instead (an electric painting with moving colors).”France-Soir, 28-2-64.
Six prisoners in the Harris county jail in Texas, quite impressed by the official report on the ill effects of tobacco, announced yesterday that they had decided to quit smoking because they were determined not to die of lung cancer. The six men, imprisoned for various crimes, are all condemned to die in the electric chair.U.P.I., Houston, 13-2-64.
Ettinger describes the refrigeration of the body as “the greatest promise — and perhaps the greatest problem — of history.” Whatever may eventually happen — one should be practical — the American expert advises all those human beings who think ahead toward the future to specify in their wills if they want to be frozen, and to put aside money for their temporary death and for their second life. According to Ettinger’s estimation, the sojourn in the refrigerated “dormitories” where cadavers will be stacked (in the United States there will be fifteen million tons of them) will cost about two hundred dollars a year.France-Soir, 17-6-64.
Absence and its Costumers
As modern art increasingly tends toward a radical reduction of its means, towards silence, the products of this decomposition are required to be increasingly useful, are put on display and are “communicated” everywhere. This is due to the fact that this development in modern art expressed — and opposed — the noncommunication that has effectively established itself everywhere in society. The emptiness of life must now be furnished with the emptiness of culture. This is done using all the possible sales strategies, particularly those that also serve almost everywhere else to pass off half-empty goods. To this end it is necessary to mask the real dialectic of modern art by reducing everything to a satisfying positivity of nothingness that justifies its own existence tautologically by the mere fact that it exists, which is to say that it is granted recognition within the spectacle. Moreover, this self-proclaimed new art, down to its very details, turns out to be unabashedly the art of open plagiarism. The fundamental difference between an inventive modern art and the current generation is that what was previously anti-spectacular is now reiterated in a form both integrated into, and accepted within, the spectacle. This preference for repetition serves to eliminate all historical evaluation: now that neo-dadaism has become the official art of the United States, one goes so far as to repraoch the dadaist Schwitters for recalling his own epoch. Indeed, even the critical form of writing known as détournement is subjected to a number of literary popularizations, with “references at the end of the volume.” But the volume of cultural nothingness today guarantees a totally different end.
Long live nothing! You’ve perhaps heard of this gadget that caused a sensation in the United States last month, and which had the peculiarity of being useless. Well, you will be interested to learn that this extraordinary object — a cubicle box encrusted with electric lightbulbs that can light up in any direction — was such a success that it sold out completely and is impossible to find anymore. And yet the “Nothing Box” cost nearly forty dollars (more than 200 francs).Elle, 8-2-63.
After each play, and particularly after this year’s discovery Oh! les beaux jours, one wondered what new means or words Beckett could possibly still invent in order to materialize the nothingness and approach the silence that fascinates him. Yet the text of Comédie displays the very increase in sobriety that one no longer thought was possible.Le Monde, 13-6-64.
One should know better: to buy a painting when it is love at first sight is dangerous. For a beginner, it is the worst way to start a collection. A battery of psychological tests has recently proven this: you can only become attached to a painting if it resembles you. In the Culture Boutique that puts these theories into practice, Marie-France Pisier, star of François Reichenbach’s next film, was subjected to a barrage of questions posed by a psychologist: “Are you a glutton? Do you wear red? Do you sleep well?” and so on. The test is so convincing that Marie-France, at first attracted to a canvas by Singier, ultimately walked out of the boutique with a Soulages.Marie-Claire, July 1963.
Mukaï, an important Japanese sculptor. His most famous work: a compressed Renault 4 CV car that now adorns one of Tokyo’s train stations.Elle, 9-8-63.
The organizer of a vaction club proposes the following quite seductive package for the month of January: “Eight days in the mountains for three hundred and fifty francs, everything included.” When I first read this advertisement I did not find it very striking, It is the details of the “everything included” that make it extraordinary. The price not only includes air fare, a comfortable chalet, free stay for children under ten, and a kindergarten, but also “an encounter with a celebrity.” For starters: Le Clézio.Alfred Fabre-Luce, Arts, 1-1-64.
In large housing projects the theatrical space takes on a different meaning. It can no longer be a space and a stage constructed exclusively for dramatic performances. Formerly a total art form involving literature, painting, music, and architecture (not to mention lighting techniques), the theater is now considered as a space adaptable to the entire range of cultural presentations of the small town: dramatic art, cinema, television, lectures, dance ... something like what the architect P. Nelson calls poetically a “leisure garden.” This is what is at the root of the tendency, both in France and in the entire world, to build cultural centres.Le Monde, 12-10-62.
The last four years have witnessed a veritable blossoming of a generation of musician-mathematicians throughout the entire world. Here in France research in this domain is refused substantive government subsidy, and is therefore reduced to the level of industrious craftsmanship more or less supported by the major producers of electronic machines ...
The fruits of this research include, among others, the compositions Variations triangulaires by Michel Philippot and the Nonetto in forma in triangulo by Pierre Barbaud. The latter was also asked to provide music for the film Les abysses. Without taking the slightest account of the images, he calculated the music on his Gamma 60, transcribed it in traditional notation, handed it over to the musicians, and recorded it. The reviews subsequently applauded the beauty of the score and its considerable contribution to the film’s success.
In this manner the Gamma 60 today produces kilometers of harmonic exercises that are neither more ugly nor more beautiful than those produce in the conservatories, but infinitely more perfect in terms of their strict obedience to the rules! One can, by the way, even program the “tics” of past composers ...
The imprecision of the stroke of a bow, indeed the instability of the sound emitted by the majority of today’s instruments is not ideally suited to “realizing” the implacable logic generated by the machine. It seems that the supplementary use of an acoustic synthesizer is virtually indespensable in order to make the results of this research a true means of acoustic information.
It is clear, however, that “calculated” music has opened up a new era in terms of artistic creation. Our musician-researchers are already envisaging applying the best data provided by the electronic brains simultaneously to both music and the plastic arts. They are already living the (hopefully furtile) marriage of man and machine in the realm of the spirit. They affirm loudly that the machine helps them “to better conceive new structures.” Let us here salute, together with Abraham Moles, the advent of the technological age.France-Observateur, 21-5-64.
An agitated audience at the Théâtre de France the other night for a concert of the “Domaine”...
Next on the program was Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Klavierstück X, the performance of which, by the same artist, looked like true forced labor. The soloist, armed with gloves, engaged in hand to hand combat combat with his Steinway for a number of rounds, some of them extremely short — a single chord, played very powerfully — and each separated by numberous and interminable silences, such that this Klavierstück really looked like a boxing match ...
And yet behind all this experimentation there is nothing really new. The piano abused by punches? Already seen around 1926-1928 at a concert by the Revue musicale. And Kurt Schwitter’s dadaism recalls that there were beautiful scandals provoked by Tristan Tzara around 1920.Le Monde, 25-3-64.
This American presentation, an annex geographically outside the Biennale, is entirely devoted to the neo-dada protest movement known by the name of “Pop Art”; its appearance is a bit like that of an American festival on the margins of the official show.Le Monde, 19-6-64.
I have not forgotten that I must discuss Jean-Pierre Faye’s Anthologues — a book that, it is true, does not call itself a novel... Nevertheless, what he wants to tell us is a story, even several stories. And I am perfectly willing to accept the fact that he embellishes his text with camouflaged citations from writers of the past, the references to which one only finds at the end of the volume.Guy Dumur, France-Observateur, 18-6-64.
Urbanism as Will and Representation
Modern capitalism — concentrated and highly developed capitalism — inscribes onto the scenery of life the fusion of what used to be opposed as the positive and negative poles of alienation: a sort of equalizer of alienation. One’s obligatory stay there is supervised by an increasingly preventative police. The new cities are laboratories of this stifling society: from Vällingby in Sweden to Bessor in Israel where all forms of leisure are to be united in one single center, without forgetting the housing project in Avilés that signals the neo-capitalist development now reaching Spain. Simultaneously, the disappearance of the “urban jungle” that corresponded to free market capitalism — in all its lack of comfort, its luxury, and its adventures — continues apace. The center of Paris is radically restructured by the organization of automobile traffic: the quays transformed into highways, place Dauphine into an underground parking garage. this in no way precludes the complementary tendency to restore a few old urban spots as sites of touristic spectacle, a simple extension of the principle of the classical museum by means of which an entire neighborhood can become a monument. Administrative bureaucracies of all sorts construct everywhere buildings suited to their taste. At Canisy, this even includes the administration of a new activity that, despite its enormity, can be sold at a premium like all the charlatanry that responds to real lacks: the specialists of generalization.
In order to buy all this, one depends on one’s credit; the monthly bills are sometimes a burden, but one pays them: the Frenchman — this is a new development — is willing to make sacrifices for his housing. Where do you live? In Paris, Marseille, Lille, Nantes, Toulouse? It makes little difference since wherever you are you will find the same lodgings, equally well equipped and well decorated. Whose home are you in? Whether it is the home of an office worker, a mason, a judge, or a skilled worker: the difference is imperceptible . . . In this way a style of life can be imposed that is clear, happy, uniform, and common to all social classes. I am conveying the things as they are without adding any political exegesis whatsoever. However, allow me to recall that in the previous century an abyss separated the bourgeois from the worker ... Today, the salary of a skilled worker is close to that of a professor, and all of them end up on middle-income housing projects. Is this good? Is this bad? I leave the judgment up to you. But it is a fact that a leveling is underway, neither from above, nor from below, but at the middle.Jean Duché, Elle, 10-5-63.
The 32nd conference of the International Organization of Criminal Police (Interpol) began Wednesday morning in Helsinki, in the large amphitheater of the Economic Sciences Building . . . There are plans to create during the course of the conference a “bureau of criminal prevention” in each of the member countries similar to the one that has been in operation for a number of years in Stockholm. The purpose of this bureau is to provide architects, engineers, builders, and other specialists with the wide range of techniques developed and endorsed by the police in order to prevent criminal offenses.Le Monde, 22-8-63.
The city of Canisy: an ideal thirty billion franc observatory for market of gray matter.. . On a huge billboard located in a place called La Croix-Solier: ’International Center of Generalization. The first experimental scientific city, site of synthesis and generalization between men of all disciplines.’ ’All this comes from semantics,’ the mailman explains with a large sweeping gesture across the countryside.L’Express, 22-8-63.
Reflections on Violence
The revolt against existing conditions is manifest everywhere. It has not yet taken the form of an explicit project or an organization because the position is still occupied at the moment by the old, mystified, and mendacious revolutionary politics. This politics has failed — and has inverted its own repressive opposite — because it was incapable of grasping the unacceptable and the possible in their totality. As evidenced by its contemporary ruins, revolutionary politics has been equally unable to define either the unacceptable or the possible because its practice failed and transformed itself into a lie. The revolutionary project can only be realized once again by means of excess; it needs a new maximalism that demands a total transformation of society. Kowa Shoitani’s gesture is not absurd: a society can choose to invest its resources in the development of television stations, in medical research, or in other types of more unexpected research. “The eye has become the human eye just as the object has become a social, human object, which is to say produced by men for men ... The development of the five senses is the work of all of past history” (Marx, 1844 Manuscripts).
Today sports and idols draw the crowds that the political parties can no longer even dream of attracting. This is because for quite some time now the masses gathered together by politics were nothing but masses of passive spectators gaping at deceptive idols. However, these spectators that have succumbed to the contemplation of futile competitions also bring their dissatisfaction with them. In Lima, a mere falsification of the superficial spectacle was enough to awaken a radical refusal that revolted against the totality of spectacular falsification. This is what assures that the psychodrama will go bankrupt before it has fulfilled the stultifying function that its administrators expect of it.
In Clacton, gangs had it in for the local population, above all, the world of the adults. This manifested itself in the form of gratuitous acts of vandalism. In Morgate and Brighton they fought each other for various, obscure reasons ... The presence of an “audience” — beginning with the mass of reporters and television cameramen, and also including the respectable adult tourists both terrified and attracted by the much reported violence — without a doubt played a role. As others have already observed, the youths presented themselves as spectacle ...Le Monde, 20-5-64.
A year ago, the black-jacket toughs of Serinette, a neighborhood in the suburbs of Toulon, decided to terrorize a seventy-year-old lady, Madame Hervé Conneau. A widow for quite a number of years, she lived alone in a comfortable house located in the middle of a park, a residence that everyone in the area called “the castle.” It was the park that first caught the attention of the young gang, since the foliage lent itself well for meetings and semi-clandestine gatherings ... Once they had occupied the park, the young thugs began to attack the castle itself. “One morning,” the old lady recounts, “I noticed that they had leveled the chapel.” There had been, in fact, a small, half-ruined chapel near the house: the “black jackets” had demolished it stone by stone during the night.Le Monde, 10-5-64.
Jean-Marie Launay, born in Dreux (Eure-et-Loir), a young soldier from the 735th Munitions Company that guards a major depot near Thouars, had conceived of a plan to blow up the depot together with its thousands of tons of ammunition. Some friends who were supposed to come from Chartres in a stolen car would then have taken advantage of the ensuing panic to rob the vaults of the Place Lavault branch of the Banque Populaire, in the very center of Thouars.Le Monde, 20-1-62.
Large numbers of arrests during the last few days. The Caen fair. Endless Brigitte Bardot films. The gangs from La Guérinière and Grâce-de-Dieu. The bus station. Girls doing strip-tease in basements. Delinquent minors turn up in court at age 20 ... The V. family ... occupy four rooms — three bedrooms and a salon with built-in kitchen — at La Guérinière. Mrs. V. ... shows me the room: “You see, it has all the amenities: refrigerator, television, but he always insists on going out with his friends. Recently, they have been at the fair. I did not think that they would raise any trouble.”7 Jours de Caen, April 1964.
Around noon on Wednesday, the US ambassador to Japan, Mr Edwin Reischauer, was stabbed in the right leg by a young nineteen-year-old Japanese man in the embassy courtyard. Although seriously wounded, the ambassador’s life is not in danger ... According to the Japanese police, the aggressor is an unstable youth whose action was not politically motivated. The nineteen-year-old, whose name is Kowa Shoitani, lives in Numazu, one-hundred-fifty kilometers southwest of Tokyo. By means of his action he wanted to call attention to the inadequate medical aid given to those suffering eye illnesses. According to the police report he is said to have declared: “I am short-sighted and it is because of the bad political situation caused by the American occupation that Japan does not provide facilities for people who suffer from problems of vision.”Le Monde, 25-3-64.
In Algiers at night, groups of slightly drunk men occasionally roam through the former rue d’Isly shouting out their list of demands: “Wine! Women!”Daniel Guérin, Combat, 16-1-64.
The authorities are preparing to launch an operation against the young “black sheep” that are becoming increasingly numerous in the streets of the larger Algerian cities. On 1 December last year, president Ben Bella already alluded to this “social blight.” “We are going to take care of them,” he announced. “The FLN is going to undertake a large operation to break their necks. We will make the necessary arrangements to send them to camps in the Sahara where they will break stones.”Le Monde, 18-12-63.
A young twenty-one-year-old man, Ryszard Bucholz, was condemned to death on Saturday by the Warsaw court for having assaulted and seriously wounded a police officer together with two of his friends in Polish capital last October 12 ... The same day, Tadeusz Walcak, from the Wroclow region, was also sentenced to death for using a hunting rifle to shoot and seriously wound two police officers and an army officer who had surprised him as he was in the process of robbing a store. The same sentence was handed down for Julian Krol, a resident of Warsaw, who had already previously been indicted for armed assault, this time for having seriously wounded with a pistol a police officer who had asked to see his identity papers ... The extreme severity of these judgments seems to be due to the wave of gang violence and juvenile delinquency now raging in Poland.A.F.P., Warsaw, 18-11-63.
Three “sadistic hooligans” were shot to death according to a communiqué from the attorney general of the Republic of Bulgaria. The statement emphasizes the extremely brutal manner in which the three thugs “attracted by the bourgeois mode of life” had accomplished their crimes.A.F.P., Sofia, 11-4-64.
Three hundred and fifty dead and more than eight hundred wounded: this is the outcome of the soccer game in Lima yesterday in which Peu faced Argentina. The match, which was part of the pre-Olympic South American tournament, suddenly degenerated into a riot when the Uruguayan referee, Mr. Eduardo Pazos, in front of the forty-five thousand people that had gathered in the national stadium, disqualified the goal scored against his own team by the Argentinean Moralès ... In the stands, the tension mounted by the second. Shortly thereafter, in view of the increasingly threatening crowd, the referee decided to stop the match, thereby giving the victory to the Argentineans by a score of 1 to 0.
Breaking down all the fences, hundreds of people then rushed onto the field. The police, completely overwhelmed, threw tear-gas grenades and fired shots into the air ...
The real tragedy began, however, when the gates of the stadium were violently burst open. This caused a terrible and murderous crush. Thousands of people rushed out into the streets, smashing and trampling women and children. This human tide demolished everything in its way: cars were overturned and then set on fire and a number of buildings close to the stadium were invaded. A tire factory and the “Jockey Club” were set on fire as were two other houses and three buses ... Soon thereafter, in the center of the city, groups of crazed fanatics began to pelt store windows with stones and set cars on fire.France-Soir, 26-5-64.
Choice Between Available Models of Revolution
Now that stalinism has split into several rival currents that express the interests of bureaucracies at very different stages of economic and political development (Khrushchev, Mao, Togliatti), the reciprocal accusation are sufficiently revealing — both about those who formulate them and about those they are directed against — to render seemingly impossible any reference to old positions (leftist, revisionist, and so on) of what was formerly the workers’ movement because the minimum of cohesion necessary even within a mystification has been lost for too long. China wants atomic weapons, initiates a border conflict with Russia, vies with others for the destruction of Israel, flirts with Pakistan, France, and an Iraq that is simultaneously massacring those sympathetic to Moscow; most incredible, however, is that it has come to terms with the journal Révolution run by Vergès. Russia has already proven itself, as has Togliatti-Ercoli. The equilibrium between all these contenders is in the end the equilibrium of revolutionary falsification extablished for forty years and maintained by the common interests of the two camps. In the same fashion, the falsification was maintained during the era of monolithic Stalinism by the common interest of bot the Weat and the East in proclaiming the East as the only known example of socialist revolution. The West manifested no weakness for the Stalinist revolution except perhaps the fact that it preferred it all the same to true revolution.
The new accusatory article published in Peking to denounce what it calls the “infamous deeds” of the Soviet leaders claims to be the first in a series that will be continued ... “And at the critical moment when the Hungarian counter-revolutionaries had occupied Budapest, it (the leadership of the Russian Communist Party) had had the intention, for a while, to adopt a strategy of capitulation and to abandon socialist Hungary to the counter-revolution.” If one is to believe the Chinese document it is thanks to the intervention of Peking that the situation in Hungary was rectified and the harder line adopted.Le Monde, 7-9-63.
At the conference of Afro-Asian solidarity in Algiers ... the Chinese diatribe met with the approval of well over one-third of the participants ... However, everyone had noticed the absence of any reference to France, whose activity in Gabon was not cited among the recent instances of imperialism in Africa.Le Monde, 25-3-64.
In an article published by the Communist weekly Rinascita, Mr. [Palmiro] Togliatti writes that Mr. [Pietro] Nenni claims that everything will change in this country [Italy] when the Socialists come to power. “This is a crass and primitive argument,” he asserts, “We would go so far as to call such a vision of power ’Stalinist.’”A.P., Rome, 16-11-63.
The Last Show: The Priests Open Their Big Mouths
The church, having fought for so long against “spectacles” even as it maintained monopoly on the social spectacle based on the divine otherworld, is struggling today for a place — limited but still important — within the spectacle of the century. It makes useful concessions, puts its pope-stars on center stage, and recuperates the lost architects of abandoned experiments in concentration-camp primitivism. The Priests’ International is capable of making itself heard everywhere and in every sort of tone, be it as survivors of the inquisition or as parachutists into the wilderness of youth. This International also produces the frightening thalidomide thinkers of “red Christianity,” Teilhardian mutants who can only live in incubators under a glass bell in the super-vacuum of contemporary leftist thought (see the examples in the sections “Words and Those Who Use Them” and “Critique in Shreds”). It is surely obvious that there cannot have been any nonorthodox Christians since the end of those centuries during which the critique of the world had to be posed primarily in religious terms. Even before its ecumenical unification, all of Christianity is already unified on a theoretical level. The renunciation of the critique of religion is necessarily the culmination of the renunciation of all critique.
According to Mr. Simon Wiesenthal (the former director of the Documentation Center of the Association of Jews Persecuted by the Nazis) currently attending the Auschwitz trial, “the constructor of the cremation ovens in the camps is still alive in Austria and has recently built a church.”Le Monde, 7-3-64.
Burger met a guy in a bar who offered him a drink and got him to talk about problems in his life. When he finally discovered that he had been duped by a priest dressed to look like a normal person, Robert Burger killed him on the spot. The police are still puzzled as to the possible meaning of this exemplary act.New York, 11-8-63.
It was a big surprise when the pope announced on 4 December 1963, during the closing ceremonies of the second session of Vatican II, that he planned to travel to Palestine ... Some Catholic circles and the entire Protestant world deplored the fact that this trip had had, here and there, some unexpected and annoying aspects. Could it not have been possible to avoid the many disorderly demonstrations and the excessive American-style publicity campaign? And even if one acknowledges the importance of structuring the festivities in a popular fashion, could these not have been protected from the barrage of publicity technology? Too many photographers, too many filmmakers.Le Monde, 20-6-64.
Ermanno Olmi plans to make a film about Pope John XXIII. The filming is set to start at the end of the summer. To show the pope, the director plans to use images from documentaries as he is reluctant to confide the role to an actor.A.F.P., Rome, 9-5-64.
In France, the churches are careful to delay the religious services on Sundays so as not to overlap with the horse races ... since between 10 and 12 a.m. three million Frenchmen are holding their betting tickets in hand.Week-End, 22-2-64.
“God, who created our beaches, did not intend for them to become sites of orgies, where half-naked men and women in bikinis, lacking both morality and prudery, offend our children’s innocent gaze, igniting the flames of their sexual instinct.” So writes the Honorable Antonio, the bishop of the Canary Islands, in a thundering pastoral letter.France-Soir, 10-5-62.
One of the nuns of the Holy Family who witnessed the massacre of the three oblate monks in the Kilembe mission arrived in Léopoldville Friday during the course of the afternoon. It was with tears in her eyes that she responded to the questions posed to her. “The villagers of Kilembe attacked the mission, armed with machetes, knives and guns. Some of them wore helmets painted red like those worn in Stanleyville by the Gizenguist forces. The monks were killed with the machetes. Following the departure of the villagers, we buried their remains.”Le Soir, 26-1-64.
Time is pressing ... there are 142 churches to be built. This immense project is due solely to the generosity of the Parisians. May everyone also boldly add their efforts to those of our “church builders.” Who could refuse to carry their stone to the cardinal’s construction sites?Appeal by Cardinal Feltin, on 23-4-64.
In numerous cities in central England and in the suburbs of London there were renewed skirmishes Saturday between the two rival gangs of English thugs: the “Mods” and the “Rockers.” Nearly 100 arrests were made. On the other hand, the “Rockers” helped a pastor dressed in a leather jacket and motorcycle gear to distribute posters for the campaign against hunger; on Trafalgar square they received the blessing of brother Austen Williams, the vicar of the local church.France-Soir, 26-5-64.
Critique in Shreds
An entire generation of leftist thinkers forced into retreat can only conceive of exhibiting itself as the caricatural image of submission. This takes one of two forms: either they offer themselves up to some promising reheated Stalinism (usually of a Chinese sort) in order to satisfy some religious masochism of the martyr delightfully ridiculed and rejected by what he worships and is not meant to understand. Otherwise they marvel at the splendors of the technocratic success offered them, a success all the more merited and quickly achieved the more subtle and detailed their critique of the dominant social order. In order to improve and render eternal its own operation, this dominant order will then extract the best part of the critique that will modify it step by step in both a revisionist and revolutionary manner. The wages of idiocy immediately exhibited by these managers of criticism, of a gimmick-critique, are themselves already the best victory of the oppressive and stultifying system. [Serge] Mallet, the eulogist of the Loire-Atlantic, is totally moved to discover in the most recent compilation of mush by André Gorz a number of banal truths that have been expressed for years by all the avant-garde movements — or perhaps simply by [John Kenneth] Galbraith. His technocratic pride then swells so far that he publicly praises participation in the leading economic spheres, and loudly faults the primitivism on the part of Engels who supposedly did not dare to acknowledge his well-being. And [Paul] Cardan, when he is not organizing votes for or against the meaning of the Realm of God, presents to his movement (whose mission is to “recommence the revolution”) the same anti-Marxist and grossly falsifying platform that was proclaimed by the professors of philosophy in 1910.
Although the members of the A.F.P.C. [Franco-Chinese People’s Association] cannot but hope for recognition from the representatives of China, they are sufficiently lucid not to get annoyed if and when the answer is “no.” They are also big enough not to plunge into despair if Peking, like l’Humanité, drags them into the mud. What is most important for them is less the success of their little project of a Franco-Chinese People’s Association, but rather some kind of Franco-Chinese association of some sort.Claude Cadart, France-Observateur, 13-2-64.
Influenced by the theories of “group dynamics” in modern sociology, the directors of associations in Paris and Lyons perceive these as means of reducing the isolation of students that is particularly severe during the first year of study. By ganizing themselves on their own, the students would be led to an awareness of their problems and also their demands ... Congress has approved the creation of research centers, both on the national level and within local associations, that will bring to gather the members of the UNEF [National Association of French Students] and of the Support Organization of French Students for the purpose of “studying the possibility of rendering students more sensitive to their problems by means of a study carried out in the form of participant observers.”Le Monde, 13-4-63.
In 1958, Gorz still knew nothing about the reality of the world of today’s worker or indeed of economic reality as such ... Luckily for him, and for us, he had to earn his living, which he did by writing a financial column for a major weekly paper, something which, I imagine, did not correspond whit his initial aspirations. But after all, if Engels had not been forced in 1844 to give up his life as a freelance civil intellectual in order to devote himself to “the birth of commerce,” he would certainly never have gained the slightest understanding of political economy and would never have helped the young Hegelian, his friend Marx, discover it.
Philosophical analysis, once it has rediscovered the purposivity of labor relations, helps the political theorist free himself from false dilemmas of the sort “reform or revolution” ...
To struggle against integration means to struggle “to get control of the data that form the basis of administrative politics, to anticipate the decisions of employers and propose at every step one’s own alternative solution.” Through such means one criticizes capitalist administration much more effectively than by any “protest speeches” . . . The struggle to create a new model of consumption, which starts by making capitalism pay the price of social facilities, strikes Gorz as one of the most important links in the chain of revolutionary reformism that he advocates, a reformism that aims at depriving capital little by little of its economic power.Serge Mallet, France-Observateur, 21-5-64.
Editorial note: it is hardly necessary to point out that for almost all of the members of Socialisme ou barbarie the “Realm of God” is effectively meaningless, but that they do not consider this a reason to prevent another comrade who is of a different opinion from expressing himself on this issue.Socialisme ou barbarie, no. 36, April 1964 (p.85).
The Marxist theory of history ... is ultimately based on the hidden postulate of an essentially unchangeable human nature whose overriding motivation is an economic one.Paul Cardan, Socialisme ou barbarie, no. 37, July 1964.
Sketch of a Morality without Obligation or Sanction
“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. #8 [Ideologies, Classes, and the Domination of Nature]). 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.
“I Must Admit that Everything Continues” (Hegel)
The refusal of life in its present arrangement characterizes, to different degrees, the blacks in Africa and the rebellious youth “without a cause” in Scandinavia; the Austrian miners who have effectively been on strike almost continuously for two years, and the Czechoslovakian workers. The “festive atmosphere” of the strike in Lagos was also evident in January 1961 in southern Belgium or in Budapest. Everywhere one hears posed the obscure question of a new revolutionary organisation that has a sufficient grasp of the dominant society for it to be able to function effectively and at all levels against the dominant society: to be able to detourn it in its entirety without reproducing it in any form, “a sunrise that, in a flash, depicts all at once the form of the new world.”
A commando of young Argentine Communists made a breakthrough in the realm of pirate broadcasting: the first pirating of an electronic billboard advertisement! Armed with revolvers, five young men burst into the offices of the Argentine electronic billboard company yesterday and forced the operators to broadcast Communist propaganda in the heart of downtown Buenos Aires.Paris-Presse, 10-1-63.
Three young French students, accused of acts of terrorism, were condemned by a military tribunal this Thursday in Madrid to prison terms ranging from fifteen years and one day to thirty years. The young Frenchmen had been arrested last April. Mr Alain Pecunia, a seventeen-year-old graduate and former student at the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, was sentenced to two prison terms of twelve years and one day each for having placed a small bomb on the boat Ciudad-de-Ibiza in Barcelona. Bernard Ferry, a twenty-year-old student at the art academy in Aubervilliers, was sentenced to thirty years in prison for having placed an explosive in front of the airline offices of Iberia in Valencia, slightly injuring two children. Guy Batous, a twenty-three-year-old student of philosophy from Villefranche-sur-Saône, who had been arrested in Madrid and found to be in possession of a bomb, was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.Le Monde, 14-8-63.
A detachment of two hundred marine soldiers had taken up position toady in front of the Union of Metalworkers in Rio de Janeiro in order to evict 1500 mutinous sailors and leading seamen. After the minute of silence that followed their arrival, the leader of the “mutineers,” a small, twenty-five-year-old sailor, called out from the top of the barricades: “Comrades, I know you. I know your greatest desire is to come and join us.” He then gave a signal with his hand and the 1500 rebels began to sing as a chorus “The White Swan,” the national marine anthem. One soldier with a very striking northeastern appearance broke ranks, undid his belt, threw down his weapons, and entered the building. One hundred and ninety-four of his colleagues went on to repeat the gesture. At this point is became clear that the rebellion of the sailors would have grave consequences.Le Monde, 3-4-64.
Since last Spring Zengakuren has organized a series of demonstrations against the stationing in Japanese ports of American atomic submarines armed with Polaris missiles. The protests were also directed at the same time against the Japanese government, which had decided to tolerate the Polaris missiles as part of a strategy aimed at providing Japan with nuclear arms. One of the most serious difficulties of this struggle stems from the fact that the Japanese Communist party tries to seize every opportunity to transform the struggle into an anti-American movement, which is to say a nationalist and patriotic campaign against “the occupation and the domination of Japan by the United States.” Aanother difflculty arises from the worker’s movement, whose leadership, controlled as it is by the Socialist party, always transforms the objectives of other protests into the current struggles of the workers. Despite these difficulties, demonstrations were held throughout Japan by the students of Zengakuren, who had also protested against the Japanese-Korean negotiations, The Chinese preparations for a nuclear explosion and the French experiments in Tahiti ... On 13 September in Tokyo, a few hundred students protested in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Toru Tagaki, the vice-president of Zengakuren, was arrested during the demonstration.Zenshin (International Edition), November 1963.
In the Congo, Hell’s Angel types are burning the missions ... These groups have from three to sevety members whose ages range from fourteen to twenty. They are dressed in shorts and are armed with bow and arrows, machetes, and sometimes spears. They sleep during the day in the forest and meet at twilight at a previously arranged point. They move around by foot, running at moderate speeds, and can strike at places very distant from each other. Each group has its own president, sectretary, and leading officer ... Their leader, Pierre Mulele, is said to have studied guerilla warfare in Egypt and China. He used ot be close to Patrice Lumumba, the head of the Congolese government who was assassinated in 1961. The group of youths are profoundly superstitious. They speal constantly of miniature airplanes in which their leaders travel at night and which can instantaneously transport a man from one location to another. The groups can often cover a distance of thirty to fifty kilometers in one night. They largely exaggerate their mobility ... Amongst themselves, they call each other “comrade,” and are continuously proclaiming their own honesty: “We are not thieves” ... This seems to merit comparison with the discomfort that afflicts youths under twenty all over the world.Observer, 19-4-64.
On the first of May students demonstrated in Prague . . . The events that took place of Friday were the result, according to official accounts, of significant factors and were not due to politics. Some people with nothing to do , “hooligans,” wanted to sing, and honest passersby, having overheard the noise, observed them with curiosity or expressed their reprobation. The dispatches of Western press agencies, on the other hand, claim that the demonstrations were directed by college and high school students who were protesting against party politics ... The Czechoslovak press aganecy C.T.K. confirmed that the incidents had taken place but did everything it could to play down the importance: “... At the two sites mentioned, the crowd did not exceed 1500 people. The security forces were able o reestablish order with the help of the spectators. A total of thirty-one demonstrators were arrested, among them five young women.”Le Monde, 5-5-64.
Particularly in Lagos there reigned a very curious atmosphere, very different from the atmosphere of a European city on strike. The dominant emotion was one of joy, a feeling of festivity. The employees that earn seven pounds a month (a police dog costs fifteen pounds) discovered all that they were capable of. This gave them such a sense of satisfaction that the entire movement took place in an extraordinarily good mood ...E.-R. Braundi, France-Observateur, 9-7-64.
The blacks are getting organized on their own. According to a detective, certain rioters are carrying small portable radio transmitters that enable them to convey information about the movements of the police forces. M. Epton, president of the Harlem “defense council” that was created two weeks ago, revealed that his organization is divided into cells. This grid pattern is designed to “help people defend themselves against the police.” The “defense council” had posters printed on which the phrase “Wanted for Murder” is placed below a photograph of the police officer Gilligan who recently shot a young black man.Le Monde, 26-7-64.
Monkey skin, duck feathers, palm leaves and fake flowers taken from cemeteries seem to me to constitute the principle elements of the uniform of the Mulelists. Fantasy is not excluded, however, and so Brillo pads, typewriter ribbons, and Christmas tree balls can also make for elegant finery . . .
At this moment, one of the “Simbas” [simba: Swahili, “lion”] standing guard spies two Europeans taking a bit of fresh air on the second floor balcony. He shouts at them in French, carried away by his own power:
“Don’t you know that you have been summoned? All right then, come down here or else I’ll shoot! Brothers, this is the revolution!”
The two whites obey. We all look at each other: the light-hearted tone of an urbane conversation which we had effected had suddenly peeled off like varnish, leaving behind only a permanent, insidious unease similar to a depression.
“They are playing,” someone tells me sadly, “they are constantly playing, even when they kill.”Y.-G. Bergès, “8 Jours chez les étranges rebelles du Congo,” France-Soir, 4-8-64.