Armenian Libertarian-Socialist Movement

Global, Caucasian and Armenian politics in anarchist perspective

Situationism, etcetera…

Posted by Sasuntsi Anarchist on March 6, 2007

Guy DebordI’ve had a comment from Artashes with regards to responsibility of putting up the video below.  Whatever I do, please believe me, I do with responsibility, integrity and a thought.  My response grew large enough to make an interesting article. So here it is:
Dear Artashes, asking me what’s the point of posting this video (see below) is like asking David Lynch about the meaning of his films.  Maybe, its for me to do and for others to think.  But some encouragement may also be needed…

I mean… on which level do you want it? 
It already appear that you are a rationalist moralist (like Chomsky, for instance, is a Cartesian rationalist), which is a good philosophical position to see and analyze most of the problems at hand…. but only upto a certain point.  That point being the realization that rationalism and morality, though originally with noble intentions, are themselves involved in the originary encoding of the status quo.  Don’t forget that ultimately it was the height of Rationalism and populist conscientiousness that led to Holocaust, Stalin’s repressions, Mao’s “cultural” revolution, triumph of fascism in many countries of Europe, dictatorships in Africa and last but not least the rise of Taliban (whose barbarity such the destruction of the largest in the world statue of Buddha stands out there with Azeri destruction of khatchkqars in Julfa).  Yes, it was this Rationalism encoded in the logic of Statism and Conscientious appear of the Yerat Turks that led to Armenian Genocide.  

But there are even more contemporary problems with Rationalism and Conscientious Moralism that are applicable today.  To give a simple example: What’s worse? the tyranny of the State where most people are equally oppressed and repressed? Or the tyranny of the Community which conscientiously and self-righteously believed that it has found the Golden Ratio or morals and is free to marginalize and exclude everybody and anybody who in the slightest doubt or disagreement?   Don’t forget that this was the primary reason why artists, intellectuals, eccentrics and avant-gardists were systematically purged in Bolshevick Revolution — because they did not think according to the generic standards of proletarians and peasants.  The same pattern applies to life in a small American city, where the notion of “Community” and “Normality” is more oppressive and marginalizing then liberating or egalitarian.   That’s a problem indeed, so how do you address that kind of problem?  I have my thoughts on this and this is not the place to lay them out, but ultimately, it is definitely a serious practical question to think over.

When a society represses, marginalizes and excludes the segments which form its progressive core, that is when that society is doomed for depression and driving itself into oblivion.  I see exactly this plague of anti-intellectualism corrupting the inherently progressive Armenian society.  The role of the progressive force is no longer with the intellectuals, philosophers, students, artists and eccentric avant-gardists, but with Journalists (I have little against journalistic mode of argumentation, except that it should be secondary to the former list, rather then the primary force.  Journalistic thinking often defends Law, rather then the concept of Justice, while there’s a wide gap between the two concepts).  A similar process, though of a different configuration is taking place in the West – which is widely known as “Western Decadence”, a process that was only intensified after the King Kong towers collapsed.  Society of the Spectacle is the name of this boredom and continuum.

At the same time what’s the point of pointing fingers at Kocharian&Co and oligarkhs without a sufficiently deep analysis?  After all, all of the existing parties and well as 3,000,000+ people are doing exactly that.  But why not think deeper?  Deeper about the structures that we take for granted… deeper about the notions and terminologies (like “development” or “democracy” or “nation” or “freedom” or “justice” or “GDP” or “efficiency” or “civilization”) that we take for granted… deeper about the Culture that we take as “natural”… deeper about our conceptions of how is and what is “human nature” (if there is such a thing), and its historical rooting in bourgeois discourses and interests… deeper about morals that we take for granted, as well as their role in causing where we are now and where we are heading.

To emulate the Western models of Democracy without the prior deeper evaluation of its cultural and social processes, institutions and failures is a recipe for disaster.  And we already see it materializing itself at a faster pace under Mickey “Mouse” Saakashvily than it did under Eduardo Shevarnadze.  If elections could change anything, they would most probably be forbidden.  To think that fair elections and that your vote is going to be counted are the key solutions to our problems is nothing less then an expression of political and intellectual naivety. 

If you are dissatisfied and concerned about the conditions in Armenia and you’re serious about wanting a Change, then you/we cannot possibly afford to scratch the surface, or just deal with the tip of the iceberg.  You/we must interrogate everything, and I mean everything, down to the bare existentials, and build our logic, theory and practical proposals from there.  The 3rd Republic is a manifest failure.  Our country is young inexperienced.  At this embryonic stage where not everything is yet settled and where many things are still possible, it is necessary to think deep about the track that we’re going to set for it.  We can choose to be clever about it and learn from the mistakes of the others (especially from the mistakes of the West), OR we can choose to emulate and export the standard mass-produced models of “Parliamentary Republicanism” (which are riddled with mistakes, contradictions and system failures, and which are designed to ease the Imperialist exploitations and manipulations) while comforting ourselves in the belief that this is the only viable political form, and teaching our children to comfort themselves in the same fashion.
The history is not all certain, but given the rate at which historical contradictions are unveiling themselves, and given the intensity of this centuries and millennia-old class struggle, there can be only 2 outcomes already visible in the horizons: Socialism or Barbarism.  

 abolition of alienated work

I’m not demanding that everybody MUST understand Situationism (a movement that many artists and philosophers are still having difficulty understanding) or their texts.  Nevertheless, it is a good food for thought.  And as a progressive movement we see necessary to put Situationist questions, themes and achievements on the table and to evaluate their usefulness in understanding the scope and roots of the problems at hand.

in our spectacular society they'll do anything to raise the standard of boredom

Godard is yet another beatle

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4 Responses to “Situationism, etcetera…”

  1. Artashes said

    Sasuntsi,

    You have to learn an important skill: to answer questions on substance and to-the-point. More importantly, you have to go through difficult life situations to appreciate the fragility, drama, and beauty of human life. You have to grow up.

    The text you posted was about inciting some social cataclysms [“to exchange love and hate, life and death, terror and redemption”] in service of total uprooting of the society as we know it, “it [the society] demands to be destroyed beyond the power of memory to recall its existence”. (I didn’t see the video, I go by the text posted).

    The only purpose stated in the piece was this: “so that our oppressed desires of a more authentic nature can come forward”.

    If you were able to come down from your mighty horse of teenage boy infatuation with the big bad (sorry, THE BIGGEST and BADDEST!) world of “Anarchism” and think and reason and imagine for a second what kind of practical calamities and rivers of blood that sermon implies, and how the beastly animal instincts of “more authentic nature” could prevail over whatever hope of harmonious self-rule people like you might entertain, you would be much more sober and, indeed, responsible!

    When, and if, you get there in your own development and are able to appreciate the deep sense of tragedy of human life [reflect on the phrase!], we can talk further. Now you are on the level of superficial intellectualism (which is great IF it’s not the final destination, IF it opens and stimulates your mind to explore deeper), basically showing off…

    See you in a couple of years,
    Artashes

  2. Atrashes, I really don’t see the point of all this. I mean what is it with you: do you surf from one blog to the next in search of something yummy to criticise just because it is not in line with what TV says? Are you some kind of a sociopath or something? I mean why don’t you say something constructive worth pondering and having a discussion over?

    I can’t believe that after everything that I said you’re still coming back to me with this “wooden” thinking. Maybe you’d just make a great bureaucrat, a good office worker and a good cleric, a good cog in a big corporate or statist machine – and maybe you should stick with that. Maybe there are just some deep sea waters that are just not for you. Maybe you should stay away from modern art, urban poetry and your local fight clubs, because there is danger that you may read everything literally — as a party “manifesto” or as an inter-departmental memo or as a statistical report produced by ministry of culture.

    Let me ask you these questions: How important is TV in your life? When was the last time you watched it? Will you be able to just simply get up and throw the TV set out of your window? And if you did such a seemingly “irrational” act, what would hurt you more: the fact that you have just lost something of a monetary value, or the fact that you have just deposed of the plug that feeds your need to stay in touch with what you would like to call “reality”?

    Ultimately, the question of responsibility is on you. If you wish to engage with me on these questions then maybe you need to read into the history of anarchism and history of the left thought to understand what Situationism was about, where they came from and specifically within which socio-cultural conditions. Maybe then you would appreciate the meaning in these brief, seemingly militant, lines.

    As for the quote that you brought up, I don’t see a problem of exchanging narrow-minded petty hatred for openness and love; I don’t see a problem in exchanging culture of death for the culture of Life-affirmation and I definitely don’t see a problem in exchanging self-securitization in numbness and redemption for life of danger. This video is asking you to live your life passionately, to take politics more seriously, to Live, Think and Act with social and political responsibility!!! Because it’s YOU and not your vote that matters! …while all you can read in it is “inciting social cataclysms” and “rivers of blood” and “beastly animal instincts” and what not…

    You want to talk about “deep sense of tragedy of human drama”? Aha! So where do you get your arrogant assumption that the man here had it a lot easier than you did. Yes, the tragedy of human drama is thought provoking indeed, and maybe you didn’t have enough of it to be dragged into deeper waters. Why don’t you start with Kafka, then shift the gear up a bit with Camus and Sartre, then on to Nietzsche (nothing too heavy… maybe “Beyond Good and Evil” for a start), then on to Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Derrida. And after that if you’re still making sense to yourself then either you failed to extract any lessons from human tragedy, or you’re just simply made of wood.

    If you see, what you call, “superficial intellectualism” in my writings, then I really don’t know whether to laugh at you (because many and I mean MANY genuine intellectuals from all walks of life and all kinds of political convictions would be quite startled by such a proposition in my address), or whether to advise you to be more responsible about how you choose to communicate with fellow humans.

    Though they are made of same substance, there are millions of years of maturing that separate a lump of coal from a diamond. Please don’t be so arrogant toward your fellow humans.

    As for being a teenager — ahhh, I wish I was one. 😉

    See you in a couple of years, or maybe a couple of decades.

  3. Robert Z said

    You two are great!

    I first want to compliment “Artashes” you just slapped every dumb anarcho-punk poser across the face whiling hitting deep hard beliefs. I really do love your passion for putting astray adolescent misinformed children to the side and telling them whats what!

    Now “Sasuntsi Anarchist” Your great cause you put old fucks back. You know what the future wants and holds. I love it, your kind are what got me into this mess!

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