Perspectives for Conscious Change in Everyday Life
Publisher: Internationale Situationniste, Paris
Year Published: 1961
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX7224
Guy Debord says that to study everyday life would be a completely absurd undertaking, unable even to grasp anything of its object, if this study was not expressly for the purpose of transforming everyday life.
Someone posed the question, "What is private life [vie privée] deprived [privée] of?" Quite simply of life itself, which is cruelly absent. People are as deprived as possible of communication and of self-fulfillment; deprived of the opportunity to personally make their own history. Positive responses to this question about the nature of the privation can thus only take the form of projects of enrichment; the project of developing a style of life different from the present one (if the present way of life can even be said to have a 'style'). Or to put it another way, if we regard everyday life as the frontier between the dominated and the undominated sectors of life, and thus as the terrain of chance and uncertainty, it would be necessary to replace the present ghetto with a constantly moving frontier; to work ceaselessly toward the organization of new chances.
The present depoliticization of many former leftist militants, their withdrawal from one type of alienation to plunge into another, that of private life, represents not so much a return to privacy, a flight from 'historical responsibility,' but rather a withdrawal from the specialized political sector that is always manipulated by others - a sector where the only responsibility they ever took was that of leaving all responsibility to uncontrolled leaders; a sector where the communist project was sidetracked and betrayed. Just as one cannot simplistically oppose private life to public life without asking: what private life? what public life? (for private life contains the factors of its negation and supersession, just as collective revolutionary action harboured the factors of its degeneration), so it would be a mistake to assess the alienation of individuals within revolutionary politics when it is really a matter of the alienation of revolutionary politics itself. The problem of alienation should be tackled dialectically, so as to draw attention to the constantly recurring possibilities of alienation arising within the very struggle against alienation