Perspectives' cover letter to At Dusk: The Situationist Movement in Historical Perspective

January 1976

Dear Person:

The purpose of this letter is simply to inform you of the publication of our latest text, a copy of which is enclosed, and to offer some sort of explanation for the hitherto silence of the group which has previously corresponded with you under the name of Point-Blank. The hiatus in our public (and private) communication and the history of At Dusk are not unrelated: we felt that we had little to say to others until we had achieved a measure of clarity in our own thinking about numerous issues. The last year and a half has been a period of theoretical introspection and critical reappraisal for us; having been forced to confront the objective failure of the situationist movement to respond to, or even to recognize, the new realities of the present historical period, we found it necessary to question virtually all of the premises upon which our previous activity had been based. Our progress in this self-examination was painfully slow and uneven; the results, for better or worse, are to be seen in At Dusk.

Much of our text has a retrospective character, and our critical focus is necessarily limited by our preoccupation with the particular history of the SI and with the specific concepts of situationist theory. Nonetheless, we have attempted to provide a general historical context to our argument: not only is the past quite naturally viewed from the vantage-point of the present -- and in the course of our critique we sketch out what we perceive to be the broad historical contours which define the present era -- but, in our endeavor to place the situationist movement in "historical perspective," we have sought both to illuminate the social and intellectual origins of this movement and to clarify its relationship to the overall movement of capitalist society in the "epoch" of situationist contestation. In this light, our theses pertaining to a theory of advanced capitalism should not be regarded as a mere theoretical digression, but rather from a necessary framework and counterpart to our discussion of the situationist movement. No such apology is required with respect to our extensive, and hopefully exegetical treatment of important concepts in the situationist perspective. With all due modesty, we believe that this is one of the few attempts to take situationist theory seriously as theory, with all the analytical rigor that it demands, and which unfortunately it has failed to receive.

It should also be noted that in At Dusk we take leave en passant of the entire demi-monde of "situationist" marginalism. Our criticism of these tendencies is unabashedly polemical, but we feel it is a polemic with a purpose; namely, to distinguish ourselves as clearly as possible from those who, while not lacking any excessive "radical" hubris, give scant indication of any historical sensibility whatsoever, and yet presume themselves to be revolutionary "theorists." The most recent publications of this "camp" only confirm our estimations in At Dusk. This depreciation of others should not be taken as a sign that we consider our own work to be above reproach, however. Criticism of our past activity is there to be seen in our text, and we make no claims for the definitiveness of At Dusk. On the contrary, we consider it to be very much a transitional document, one which is only a rather small preliminary to the larger task of developing contemporary revolutionary perspectives. We hope to make this task more explicit in the near future.

Finally, we regret the impersonal nature of this "communication," but our backlog of correspondence is so great that this seemed to be the only way to expedite answering it. Your comments are invited and are assured of a personal response. We would like to know what you have been up to.



Berkeley, California, USA



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