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New Left Review 87, May-June 2014


sven lütticken

CULTURAL REVOLUTION

From Punk to the New Provotariat

‘Those who want to supersede the old established order in all its aspects cannot cling to the disorder of the present, even in the sphere of culture. In culture as in other areas, it is necessary to struggle without waiting any longer for some concrete appearance of the moving order of the future.’ Thus Guy Debord, in his 1958 ‘Theses on Cultural Revolution’. [1] Guy Debord, ‘Thèses sur la révolution culturelle’, in Internationale situationniste 1, June 1958, p. 21; in Ken Knabb, ed., Situationist International Anthology, Oakland 2006. Thanks to Alexander Galloway for comments on an early draft of this text. In appropriating a term Lenin used in 1923 to signal the need for a true socialist culture in the ussr, Debord affirmed his belief in a full-blown remodelling of the social life of the senses, rather than a mere takeover of the state. Seeking to re-excavate the original aesthetic promise of communism, the avant-gardes of the 1960s likewise took up the term, which would have a significant career during and following the upheavals of 1967 and 1968. By then it had acquired Maoist connotations that were hard to avoid—and which tainted the concept for some, while only increasing its allure for others.

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