PRINT May 2008


SYLVÈRE LOTRINGER: In the years that preceded May 1968, the Situationists had an uprising in mind, but it had happened one century before. It was the Paris Commune of 1871, in which Marx saw the dawn of communism. The historical situations, of course, were widely different. The Paris Commune surged in reaction to the Prussian invasion and the betrayal of the Versailles government, which surrendered France to the enemy. The Versaillais surrounded the capital and starved the Communards to death, eventually gunning down those who survived. But it wasn’t this grim story that Henri Lefebvre heatedly debated with Guy Debord in the dead of night. They were trying to bring out the festive energy that had driven the Paris Commune and outlasted its fate. “Proletarian revolutions will be festivals or nothing,” they proclaimed.1 The Parisian May was a festival. Whether crowding the Théâtre de l’Odéon

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