Thursday, August 05, 2010

Can Dialectics Break Bricks?

Excerpts from René Viénet's 1973 film "Can Dialectics Break Bricks?" - a Situationist detournement of a Chinese kung fu movie overdubbed with revolutionary content, as if it was really a film about rebels fighting against Marxist Leninist bureaucrats.

At one point he puts the following words into the mouths of one of the rulers, making clear the Situationist disdain for the radical theorists they saw as the last bastion of the status quo:

'Work! Family! Fatherland! Work! Family! Fatherland! Just stick to that! I don't want to hear any more about class struggle. If I do I'll send in my sociologists! And if necessary my psychiatrists! My urban planners! My architects! My Foucaults! My Lacans! And if that's not enough, I'll even send in my structuralists!'


Anonymous said...

The words pot and kettle ever come to mind?

Transpontine said...

Fair point! The situationists regarded Foucault, Lacan et al as the pseudo-radical academic establishment, fatally compromised by their relations to the university system. And indeed some of the leftist theorists of that period were also more than compromised by their attachments to various forms of Stalinism, including its Chinese variant (this certainly applies to both Sartre and Althusser).

But it's also true that the Situationists pretty much set themselves up as the sole genuine theoretical interpreters of the class struggle. Even Vienet, who made this film, was eventually denounced by the ever-shrinking circle around Guy Debord.