The Revolution of Everyday Life

Raoul Vaneigem

1967

The Situationist project is dead and gone, as well it should be. But discovering the Situationists was a watershed event in my intellectual life, and many of the books on this list touch on ideas I first encountered in their writing. This book is one of the more accessible Situationist tracts, and one I keep coming back to again and again.

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The real demand of all insurrectionary movements is the transformation of the world and the reinvention of life. This is not a demand formulated by theorists: rather, it is the basis of poetic creation. Revolution is made everyday despite, and in opposition to, the specialists of revolution. This revolution is nameless, like everything springing from lived experience. Its explosive coherence is being forged constantly in the everyday clandestinity of acts and dreams.

The Revolution of Everyday Life
Raoul Vaneigem

The promised land of survival will be the realm of peaceful death that the humanists are fighting for. No more Guernicas, no more Auschwitzes, no more Hiroshimas, no more Setifs. Hooray! But what about the impossibility of living, what about this stifling mediocrity and this absence of passion? What about the jealous fury in which the rankling of never being ourselves drives us to imagine that other people are happy? What about this feeling of never really being inside your own skin? Let nobody say these are minor details or secondary points. There are no negligible irritations: gangrene can start in the slightest graze. The crises that shake the world are not fundamentally different from the conflicts in which my actions and thoughts confront the hostile forces that entangle and deflect them. (How could it be otherwise when history, in the last analysis, is only important to me insofar as it affects my own life?) Sooner or later the continual division and re-division of aggravations will split the atom of unlivable reality and liberate a nuclear energy which nobody suspected behind so much passivity and gloomy resignation. That which produces the common good is always terrible.

The Revolution of Everyday Life
Raoul Vaneigem

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