:: Article

Manufacturing Dissent: (The Revenance of 1968)

By Louis Armand.


On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the “Mai ’68” Paris student uprising & “Pražské Jaro” (Prague Spring), it is more than just timely to consider the systematic appropriation & reinvention of the idea of dissent that has occurred in their wake, both within the corporate-state apparatus & the erstwhile fringe-phenomena of populist extremism. Confronted by the virtual criminalization of protest in many socalled Western democracies; by rampant commodification & the normalisation of dissent within the culture industry; & by the bold resurgence of neo-fascism inside the political mainstream, what forms can active resistance take? And is there a future in such a political landscape for the idea of an avantgarde?

While Mai ’68 presented a spectre of “revolution” that the entire post-War political settlement in Western Europe, from the Marshall Plan to the creation of the EEC,[1] had been geared to forestall – & while its unforeseen metamorphosis from student protest movement to the largest general strike in France’s history appeared momentarily on the verge of up-ending the status quo – its subsequent dissolution into a programme of reformism inaugurated a far more wide-reaching social transformation. Likewise the Prague Spring, all too often regarded as a counterpoint to the events in Paris.[2] The seemingly inverse dynamics of these two “social upheavals” remain, however, irreducible to the bipolar delusions of the Cold War’s ideological compass: on both occasions an industrial bureaucracy, confronted by politics in the street, alternated its strategies of suppression between psychology & force, reform & normalisation, in ways only superficially dissimilar.

If Moscow “feared everything from the Czechoslovakian process & nothing from the Romanian bureaucracy’s independence,”[3] as Guy Debord argued, this was because Prague – like Paris – presented a new possibility. As a popular political manifestation catalysed by, but ostensibly independent of supervening control (capable of either holding it in check or totalising it as a phenomenon), it represented the danger of what Deleuze & Guattari called “a collective enunciation by a new existence, by a new collective subjectivity,” which was therefore “crushed in advance… on the left almost as much as on the right… Each time it appeared, the possible was closed off.”[4] Just as the Communist Party refused to side with the students & striking workers in Paris, so too the West declined – in the event – to side with Czechoslovakia in the face of the anticipated Warsaw Pact intervention, despite intimations on Radio Free Europe that it would do so. But above all, in each case, “the discourses of anticapitalism & anti-imperialism” – both of the American & Soviet varieties – “were woven together in an intricate mesh.”[5] The events of Prague & Paris weren’t defined by counterpoint, but complementarity.

While an oppressive policy of “Normalizace” replaced Prague’s shortlived experiment in “Socialism with a Human Face,” the consequences of the “failed” Paris uprising appeared both less sinister, & even far less comprehensible, yet were no less total in their pervasive effect. The eclipse of Charles de Gaulle & the unexpected election to the Élysée in 1969 – against a predicted landslide to the Left that failed to materialise – of de Gaulle’s former personal secretary, Georges Pompidou, produced a sense of surreality in the political landscape by which the root causes of Mai ’68 were able to be tarmacked-over by the now-familiar call-to-order of security & reform. As Kristen Ross observed:

‘The official story that has been encoded, celebrated publicly in any number of mass media spectacles of commemoration, and handed down to us today, is one of a family or generational drama, stripped of any violence, asperity, or overt political dimensions—a benign transformation of customs and lifestyles that necessarily accompanied France’s modernization from an authoritarian bourgeois state to a new, liberal, modern financier bourgeoisie.’[6]

Like Donald Rumsfeld’s response to the publication of photographs on CBS News documenting abuse, by US personnel, of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib in April 2004 – as the work of a “few bad apples” – Mai ’68 & its aftershocks, in France & elsewhere (Poland, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, the United States), were quickly characterised as the work of maverick subversive elements, & ultimately of “terrorist” organisations (like the Tupamaros, Weather Underground, RAF, Brigate Rosse, which were founded in the wake of 1968 upon the belief that any real possibility of legal dissent had been foreclosed by the governments of the day: “Legality,” they concluded, “is about power”[7]). Yet just as Abu Ghraib exposed real illegality & a pervasive & systemic moral corruption throughout the executive branch of the United States government comparable to that of the Nixon regime – reaching all the way down, through the military industrial complex & its intelligence agencies, to those individual scapegoats offered up to the public – so too 1968 in France exposed a chronic political malaise that – a decade after the wars in Algeria & Indochina – had spread to all areas of daily life, producing an undisguisable sense of the existing social order’s illegitimacy.[8] Ross again:

May ’68 was the largest mass movement in French history, the biggest strike in the history of the French workers’ movement, and the only “general” insurrection the overdeveloped world has known since World War II. It was the first general strike that extended beyond the traditional centers of industrial production to include workers in the service industries, the communication and culture industries – the whole sphere of social reproduction. No professional sector, no category of worker was unaffected by the strike; no region, city, or village in France was untouched.[9]

Accepted at face value, the supposed “failure” of 1968 does nothing to account for its occurrence in the first place. Daniel Singer puts it thus: “When mighty productive forces clash with obsolete social relations, one must have the intellectual horizon of a policeman to explain the resulting unrest in terms of the subversive work of a handful of political agitators.”[10] In a coordinated counter-movement, “the language of power,” as Debord observed, found a further alibi for the depoliticisation of the social sphere & renewed justification for the permanence of the status quo, under the banner of reformism. Whereas previously the apparatus of power had shown “nothing but happiness everywhere in window displays & sold everywhere at the most attractive price,” they now denounced “the ubiquitous failings of the system. Society’s owners have suddenly discovered that everything in it must be changed without delay… They wish only to draw our attention to the fact that they are more qualified than revolutionaries to engineer a turnaround requiring so much experience & such considerable means, for possess them they do, & accustomed to them they certainly are.”[11]

This paradox does little to disguise itself. Where past disillusionment taught that the only successful revolutionary force was that of capitalism, the situation of Mai ’68 required this narrative to be presented in a more tentative, even vulnerable light. The status quo sought to presented itself as more open, pluralistic. Appeals to reason were joined to a benevolent granting of concessions. Among them, to “give rebelling students the novelty they were hoping for,” a new university at Vincennes was created. “It was,” Jacques Rancière recalled in 1974, “a nursery of young academics marked by their Marxist convictions & by the theoretical novelties of the time: structuralist linguists & anthropologists, Althusserian philosophers, Lacanian psychoanalysts, sociologists trained by Bourdieu & literature professors instructed by Roland Barthes’s semiology & by the ‘literary theory’ of the Tel Quel group. The whole thing had the look of what we called at the time a ‘recuperation’ of the May movement, & it seemed bound to dissolve that movement’s political potential into academic & cultural novelties.”[12]

At the same time, it was important for the status quo to make something of a general appeal for its defence; as a defence of the general good (that’s to say, of “the commodity’s particular freedom & happiness”).[13] Since capitalism had already presented itself, “in the face of the revolution’s past failures, as a reformism which had succeeded,” it was now, Debord argued, the task of capitalism to assume the “self-entrusted paramount task to lead the struggle” against a “problem of its own making.”[14] This was not just a case of “equivocal coexistence”[15] – it was an effective theoretical & political equivalence. This reformist reaction, however, wasn’t limited to the West, but extended equally to the bureaucratic class of the expropriated “workers’ revolutions” in the socalled developing world. “Castro,” Debord wryly observed, “has become reformist in Chile, while stage-managing a parody of the Moscow trials at home, after condemning the occupations movement & the Mexican revolt in 1968, yet giving his unqualified approval to the action of Russian tanks in Prague.” Such paradoxical “reformism” was to be found likewise in China, in the “ludicrous double act of Mao Zedong & Lin Piao,” & throughout the communist sphere, as a symptom of “the crisis of the totalitarian bureaucracy, as part of the general crisis of capitalism.”[16]

This paradox, of course, isn’t located solely in the details, it is endemic to the entire discourse of self-supersession, which reformism brings to the fore in its ambivalent relation to what we might call a revolutionary conservatism or exceptionalism. Concerning the Prague Spring, the argument may be stated as: all social relations must submit to the law of revolution, except the “revolutionary regime” itself. Concerning Paris: everything must submit to the law of the commodity, except the “commodity system” itself. Where revolutionary politics is declared obsolete, the principle of revolution is enshrined in the magic of perpetual rebirth of a political order that exists for no other purpose than to perpetuate itself (like the “pseudo-cyclical mode of untrammelled commodity production”[17]) – & to do so against the real possibility of “mass ideological revolt,”[18] which it nevertheless does everything to render phantasmatic (such that capitalism succeeds not only in centering its own ideological framework in the form of the commodity, but in centering there ideology as such).

If the corporate & cybernetic revolutions of the fifty years following the events of 1968 have utterly transfigured the social matrix, “society” itself has become the paradigm of an algorithmic imaginary. In keeping with a certain logic of self-supersession, subversion of pre-existing social relations has for decades been systematised as the norm, mirroring the institutionalization (heralded by the likes of Vannevar Bush, Marshall McLuhan & Harvey Wheeler[19]) of the “scientific” & “information” revolutions. One of the areas in which this has been most apparent is ecology. The emergence of environmentalism in the late ’60s gave rise almost simultaneously to environmental management: like the other post-1968 reformisms, such “management” sought to project an image of external crisis – an epiphenomenon of a breakdown of order, rather than a product of that order itself. Yet as Debord remarks, “pollution is… the ne plus ultra of ideology in material form, the wholly contaminated superabundance of the commodity, as well as the real miserable dross of spectacular society’s illusory splendour.”[20] The paradox again stands naked: ecological crisis isn’t some thing that can be reformed away by the corporate-state apparatus, since it is endemic to it.

Yet if today the threat of looming environmental catastrophe still appears underappreciated within key sectors of the global economy, the same cannot be said of environmentalism. While there are those who regard environmentalism itself as a product of the “failure” of ’68 & a retreat from direct political action into a kind of proxy activism, this view does not equate with the vastly asymmetrical investment of resources by Western governments in the subversion & suppression of ecological movements – from the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in Auckland Harbour in 1985 by French commandos of the DGSE, to the planting of undercover agents provocateurs by Scotland Yard’s National Public Order Intelligence Unit among environmentalist & antiglobalisation protestors (most notoriously “Mark Kennedy,” who operated in 22 countries & was exposed as an infiltrator in 2010, being found responsible for falsely causing the arrest of activists accused of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass at Ratcliffe-on-Soar nuclear power station in the UK in 2009).

On 11 November, 2008, in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, while anti-austerity protests against the Papandreou government were already spreading throughout Greece, Nicholas Sarkozy’s administration in France orchestrated a large-scale police action, coordinated with the media, involving helicopters & 150 balaclava-clad anti-terrorist police for the sake of arresting nine members of a rural commune in Tarnac accused of “criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity.” Among their alleged crimes was that of the authorship of The Coming Insurrection (published under the collective nom-de-guerre The Invisible Committee), described as a “manual for terrorism.” After almost ten years, the prosecution’s case collapsed, with judges ruling in April 2018 that the alleged “Tarnac group” had been “fiction.”[21] Yet almost simultaneously with this verdict, & in a virtual replay of the 2008 events, the former socialist finance minister & self-proclaimed “moderate,” Emmanuel Macron, having been swept into the Élysée on an electoral landslide, himself announced a major security crackdown – authorising a massive paramilitary police offensive (some 2,500 riot police & several hundred state security officers) to evict an environmentalist commune on 4,000 acres located at Notre-Dame-des-Landes outside Nantes. ZAD-NDDL (one of a network of zones à defender established in protest against industrial re-development around the country), was assaulted over a three-week period with bulldozers, armoured vehicles, teargas & potentially lethal flash-grenades – while elsewhere in France students, supermarket workers, railway unions & others initiated widespread strike action against a series of education & labour reforms that appeared uncannily timed by Macron’s government to create theatre out of a revanche against the “empty symbolism” of Mai ’68.

The events involving ZAD-NDDL & the Tarnac 9 (in which the publication of The Coming Insurrection became central evidence in the ten-year anti-terrorism trial) give the lie to the widespread perception that the very possibility of social critique has been negated by socalled postmodernism & the declared neo-liberal “End of History” (corresponding to the “defeat” of Marxism signalled by the collapse of Soviet bureaucracy in the period 1989-1991).[22] According to this more or less “tragic” view, the history of avantgardism, as the culture of radical dissent (though already declared in the 1970s to be nothing but self-parody & a front for laissez-faireism by the likes of Peter Bürger[23]), had evolved – with the emergence of digital culture & “social media” – into a mere regurgitator of memes. In a classic one-two manoeuvre, the avantgarde was declared not only to be irrelevant & but to have become detached from its own critical potential – a potential which nevertheless persisted without it, so to speak, in the form of various sectarian extremisms which had successfully appropriated the avantgarde’s traditional discourses of civil disobedience, subversion & dissent, thereby supplanting its role in the public consciousness. The alt-right, for example, as post-avantgardist avantgarde.

This view may not be entirely parodic, insofar as it articulates a twofold anxiety: that of a leftist intelligentsia, paralysed by a fetishism for “authenticity,” & of a reactionary conservatism alienated in its diminished access to the “radicalism” of pure spectacle. Yet if it is true that avantgardism names something that has come to amount to a creature of the academies, a mere opportunistic gadfly (if not indeed a product) of art capitalism, this alone does nothing to nullify the critical impetus of those forms of radical “art” this economy either denies representation to or actively suppresses (as in the case of The Coming Insurrection). Indeed, such denial & suppression are proof to the contrary. In addition, no properly “radical” art would accept such an arrangement, by definition. And yet, while we might easily dismiss the question of contemporary avantgardism as a mere aesthetic distraction from real politics, it’s worth considering that the cultural denigration it occasions mirrors the thorough reshaping of political consciousness inaugurated by the Reagan-Thatcher administrations in the ’80s & brought to their present culmination by what can only be described as emergent quasi-fascist parties operating within the institutions of Western democracy itself.

It is not inconsequential that, accompanying this realignment of the status quo, a self-proclaimed alt-right has emerged from an understanding that “politics is downstream from culture.” The socalled Culture Wars of the ’80s & ’90s paved the way for a shift from reactionary conservatism to a wholesale appropriation of avantgardist tactics & strategising; just as 1968 may be said to have paved the way for the “primitive” commodification of dissent in the form of the Sex Pistols & its subsequent wholesale expropriation by the Culture Industry. From Chanology & Vaporwave to Breitbart, CasaPound, Pegida & the political performance art of Martin Konvička’s 2016 declaration of a “Prague caliphate” – the interventions of the alt-right have concretely affected public discourse & the collective consciousness in ways that present themselves as far beyond the reach of the “institutional avantgarde,” whose counter-actions (confined to the world of art capitalism & celebrity “dissidents,” & overshadowed by Benetton ad campaigns) are at best an irrelevance, at worst a form of complicity. Yet such gestures of negation do nothing to account for the ongoing possibility of an avantgarde as such, they simply point to a fundamental ambivalence in the structure of radical discourse & ultimately all discourses of political action. Since when we speak of action what we mean is the precipitation of events.

As Deleuze & Guattari succinctly put it, “there is always a part of the event that is irreducible to any social determinism, or to causal chains,” since “the event itself is a splitting-off from, a breaking with causality… it is an opening onto the possible.”[24] The possibility of what we call the avantgarde is inextricable from this possibility of the event. It is, so to speak, the en avant of which the event is always a kind of revenant. “The possible,” Deleuze & Guattari say, “does not pre-exist, it is created by the event.” When we speak, then, of the event of 1968 as the creation of a “new existence,” as the production of a “new subjectivity” that was, at the same time, also the negation of these emergent possibilities, we enter precisely that zone of ambivalence at the heart of this strange portmanteau: avant/garde. Like an exquisite corpse, the avantgarde presents itself as that species of “event” that can’t be outdated because it is pure anachronism. If Bürger’s objection was that the neo-avantgarde had effectively detached itself from (the auratic kitsch of) “History,” all the better. History, even before Walter Benjamin previewed its passing,[25] had already turned to cinema in any case: a symptom of the general accession to montage (what Benjamin, observing the ideological niceties of the era, termed “the dialectical image,” the only authentic image).[26]

For Bürger, the obvious conclusion to be drawn from an avantgarde detached from History, was its subjection to the rule of the commodity (just as for Benjamin it equated to an “aestheticisation of politics”). In other words, the mystification of revolutionary thought, of criticism. By contrast, the avowed task of the avantgarde had always been, to borrow Benjamin’s phrase, the “politicisation of art”: to bring “art” & “everyday life” into productive conflict, against the forces of abstraction & social separation (the End-of-History as end of ideological struggle). Conflict, montage, event. Bürger’s complaint, however, failed to ask what the apparent commodification of the avantgarde, as an annex of Adorno & Horkheimer’s Kulturindustrie,[27] was symptomatic of. Was this an inevitable teleology, played out as if in a movement of historical capture, of the reconstitution of a certain image of History? Of what Debord called the society of the spectacle? Here, too, we see “possibility” being abducted by a subtle relativism: the tragic view that mourns a failure which is simultaneously its raison d’être & its corroboration. It is within precisely such a teleology, as Ross notes, that 1968 was in fact to be understood “as an affirmation of the status quo,”

‘…. a disruption in the service of consensus, a transformation of consciousness, a generational revolt of the young against structural rigidities that were blocking the necessary momentum of cultural modernization in France. The official version of May’s afterlife served the interests of sociologists in reinserting any rupture into a logic of the same, enforcing the identities of systems & groups that allow the reproduction of social structures.’[28]

This narrative of rupture & the normalisation of “1968” mirrors that of the avantgarde, epitomised – in the 1970s – by the discourse of postmodernism (“capitalism’s masterstroke,” as Fukuyama once said). The real dilemma for Bürger & other acolytes of the Frankfurt School, was in coming to terms with how their critique of postmodernism was often indistinguishable from that of a reactionary conservatism whose radical fringes were increasingly adept at renovating avantgardist Culture War tactics of subversion & spectacularism & turning them to populist ends: from Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority to the emergence of the alt-right. The narrative looks something like this:

What commences by way of a critique of the culture industry[29] – as mass cultivation of false psychological needs that could only be satisfied by capitalism – becomes inverted, through a dialectical process of mass cultural expropriation, into the authorizing & gratification of art. Consequently this movement of aesthetic normalisation within the cultural economy comes to be identified with a broader normalising of political discourse & a turn towards technocracy. Construed as bureaucratic decadence, “normalisation” thus calls forth a “critical” counter-discourse, one arising from a self-styled “mass” of the unrepresented, whose denunciation of the falisification of culture & politics adapts to its cause precisely that language of Culture War identified with the historical avantgarde. But where the avantgarde opposed the ideology of normalisation with the creation of new possibilities, the alt-right promotes a mass cultivation of ideologically suppressed needs that can only be satisfied by populism.

It’s no accident that the alt-right’s “critique” of institutional inertia should resemble precisely that “postmodern relativism” it claims to negate, nor that this negation should mirror the dialectic of Cold War cynicism & the failure of “socialism with a human face” to transcend it, out of which emerged the ideological defeatism so characteristic of this era of #fakenews & social media – & of which it itself is the parasitic outgrowth. Yet if we are supposed to believe that the lesson of ’68 was merely to renew social-democratic faith in ballot boxes, passive resistance & poetry that “chides industrialists for making life extinct,”[30] the phenomenon of the alt-right clearly adverts to a different set of political stakes. Taught to believe in the fairy tale of Velvet Revolutions, the children of postmodernity have – according to this narrative – confused New World Order irrealism with accomplished emancipation. And here arises another opportunistically cultivated paradox. For if it is true that the emancipation pronounced by Fukuyama’s End-of-History is delusory, the “populist” revanche of the alt-right is – like Pol Pot’s year zero & Mao’s cultural revolution – a vicious pseudo-radicalism masking a reactionary effort at negating the emancipatory project itself.

If 1989 represented the final “disillusionment” of Mai ’68 & the Prague Spring, it wasn’t simply because of the triumph of normalisation (epitomised by the global market) but that, in consigning an entire tradition of dissent to the “dustbin of History,” global capital had become the sole signifier of possibility. Moreover, it revealed that – to a greater or lesser extent – it really already was. As the Invisible Committee write: “the demise of the USSR didn’t come about because a people revolted, but because the nomenklatura was undergoing a changeover.”[31] (Just as the end of the Vietnam War wasn’t caused by the Moratorium, the leaking of the Pentagon Papers, nor by the public exposure & political demise of Richard Nixon – who’d been re-elected in 1972 in a landslide.) In effect, one form of “capitalism” had negotiated the takeover of another. Dissent, localised even at the collective level, was confronted with a global system that flattered it into general obsolescence: the continued existence or non-existence of an avantgarde being in every respect a moot point, beyond its exchange value as cultural commodity.

Thirty years later, subject to unprecedented forms of manipulation, surveillance & parliamentary cretinism – & in the wake of decades of democratic “failure” to curtail the numerous forms of oppression conducted in its name: to curb the excesses of the IMF & World Bank, to prevent the Iraq Invasion, to hold the architects of the Global Financial Crisis to account, to defeat austerity rhetoric & protect against the widespread suspension of civil rights, etc. – critical discourse remains mired in a “No Future”-ism. Goaded by the alt-right, & exemplified in the radical ambivalence of accelerationist hypercapitalism (the belief that “capitalism will speed up & evolve into something else out of its own internal differences”[32]), the institutional avantgarde appears determined to transcend its own supersession by routinised extinction. No longer a mere tragic view of History as revolutionary nostalgia, but a literalised farce: the overstuffed spectacle of manufactured dissent, like vertical montage at hyperspeed. In the face of such ideological fatalism, what possible futures does the “spirit of 1968” have? How is its “task” to be represented? And for whom?



[1] Marshall Plan, formally European Recovery Programme, 1948-1952; EEC, European Economic Community, 1958-2009.

[2] See Daniel Singer, Prelude to Revolution: France in May 1968 (New York: Hill & Wang, 1970) xii.

[3] Guy Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International & its time,” The Real Split in the International, trans. John McHale (London: Pluto Books, [1972] 2003) 16.

[4] Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari, “May ’68 Did Not Take Place,” in Gilles Deleuze, Two Regimes of Madness: Texts & Interviews 1975–1995, ed. D. Lapoujade, trans. A. Hodge & M. Taormina (New York: Semiotext(e), 2006) 233-236: emphasis added.

[5] To extend the observation made by Kristin Ross in May ’68 & Its Afterlives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002) 11.

[6] Ross, May ’68 & Its Afterlives, 5-6.

[7] Ulrike Meinhof, Das Konzept Stadtguerilla (1971). As a consequence, throughout the 1970s dissent came to be associated with militant extremism & “criminality.”

[8] Indeed, Abu Ghraib emblematised everything about the post-Soviet “New World Order” against which a decade of international protest was directed – spanning the anti-globalisation movements of the late ’90s, the anti-war movement, & the various Occupy movements following the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 – just as the Mÿ Lai massacre had for the period between 1968 & the 1977 “Deutsche Herbst.”

[9] Ross, May ’68 & Its Afterlives, 3-4.

[10] Singer, Prelude to Revolution, x.

[11] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 13.

[12] Jacques Rancière, Althusser’s Lesson, trans. Emiliano Battista (London: Continuum, [1974] 2011) 127.

[13] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 14.

[14] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 13.

[15] Rancière, Althusser’s Lesson, 129.

[16] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 15.

[17] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 23.

[18] Rancière, Althusser’s Lesson, 129.

[19] See in particular, Harvey Wheeler, Democracy in a Revolutionary Era (Santa Barbara: The Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, 1968) 102ff.

[20] Debord, “Theses on the Situationist International,” 24.

[21] Angelique Chrisafis, “Leftwing ‘anarchist terror cell’ is fiction, French judges rule,” The Guardian Newspaper (13 April, 2018): https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/13/tarnac-nine-leftwing-anarchist-terror-cell-fiction-france

[22] Francis Fukuyama, The End of History & the Last Man (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1992).

[23] Peter Bürger, Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press: 1984).

[24] Deleuze & Félix Guattari, “May ’68 Did Not Take Place,” 223.

[25] Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (London: Fontana, [1937] 1995).

[26] Walter Benjamin, “Awakening,” The Arcades Project, trans. Howard Eiland & Kevin McLaughlin (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1999) 462; n2a, 3.

[27] Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer, “The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception,” Dialectic of Enlightenment, trans. John Cumming (New York: Herder, [1944] 1972).

[28] Ross, May ’68 & Its Afterlives, 6 – my emphasis.

[29] I.e. from the position of the avantgarde; that is to say, from a position opposed to mass cultural “kitsch.”

[30] Michael Dransfield, “Endsight,” Collected Poems, ed. Rodney Hall (St Lucia: University of Queensland Press, 1987).

[31] The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection (Los Angeles: Semiotiext(e), 2009).

[32] “McKenzie Wark | Information-Commodification,” Interview with Marvin Jordan, DIS Magazine (2016): http://dismagazine.com/disillusioned/discussion-disillusioned/56968/mckenzie-wark-information-commodification/


Louis Armand is the author of eight novels, including The Combinations (2016), Cairo (2014), and Breakfast at Midnight (2012). In addition, he has published ten collections of poetry – most recently, East Broadway Rundown (2015) & The Rube Goldberg Variations (2015) – & is the author of Videology (2015) & The Organ-Grinder’s Monkey: Culture after the Avantgarde (2013). He lives in Prague.


First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, May 27th, 2018.