B U R E A U O F P U B L I C S E C R E T S
It seems to us that the insurrections of the blacks in Newark and Detroit have indisputably confirmed our 1965 analysis of the Watts riot [The Decline and Fall of the Spectacle-Commodity Economy]. In particular, the participation of numerous whites in the looting demonstrates that in its deepest sense Watts really was a revolt against the commodity, an elemental reaction to the world of commodity abundance. On the other hand, the danger represented by the leadership that is trying to constitute itself above the movement is now taking more definite shape: the Newark Conference has adopted the essential features of the Black Muslim program of black capitalism. Stokely Carmichael and the other Black Power stars are walking the tightrope between the vague and undefined extremism necessary to establish themselves at the head of the black masses (Mao, Castro, power to the blacks and we dont even have to say what were going to do about the 9/10 of the population who are white) and the actual unavowed paltry reformism of a black third party, which would auction off its swing vote in the American political marketplace and which would eventually create, in the person of Carmichael and his colleagues, an elite like those that emerged out of the other American minorities (Poles, Italians, etc.), an elite that has so far never developed among the blacks.
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In Algeria, too, Boumédienne has unfortunately proved the correctness of our analysis of his regime [The Class Struggles in Algeria]. Self-management there is now completely dead. We have no doubt we will eventually see it return under more favorable conditions. But for the moment no revolutionary network has succeeded in forming on the basis of the offensive resistance of the self-managed sector; and our own direct efforts toward this goal have been extremely inadequate.
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Daniel Guérin wrote to us to say that our note about him [The Algeria of Daniel Guérin, Libertarian] was unfair and that he wanted to explain himself. We met him. He had to admit that we gave a correct account of his analysis of Algeria, which is at the opposite pole from ours. He complained only of having been presented as a sort of agent of Ben Bella. We stated that our note in no way suggests such an idea. Guérin explained his admiration for Ben Bella by psychological arguments whose sincerity we don’t question: He had found Ben Bella very likable, particularly after thirty years of disappointments with his other militant anticolonialist North African friends, who have generally ended up becoming government officials. Ben Bella remained a man of the people, that was his good side. He became President of the Republic, that was his failing. Guérin already found Ben Bella’s Algeria “miraculous” and reproached us for demanding a succession of additional miracles. We replied that such a succession was precisely our conception of revolution, and that any single “miracle” that remains miraculous (i.e. isolated and exceptional) will quickly disappear. We proposed to Guérin that he publish a text in response to our article; but he considered that his oral explanation was sufficient.
Six additifs au précédent numéro appeared in Internationale Situationniste #11 (Paris, October 1967). These three, translated by Ken Knabb, are from the Situationist International Anthology (Revised and Expanded Edition, 2006). No copyright.
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