The Revolution of Everyday Life  

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"One day, when Rousseau was travelling through a crowded village, he was insulted by a yokel whose spirit delighted the crowd. Rousseau, confused and discountenanced, couldn't think of a word in reply and was forced to take to his heels amidst the jeers of the crowd. By the time he had finally regained his composure and thought of a thousand possible retorts, any one of which would have silenced the joker once and for all, he was at two hours distance from the village."

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The Revolution of Everyday Life is a 1967 book by Raoul Vaneigem, Belgian author, philosopher and former member of the Situationist International (1961-1970). In French the title of the work was more elaborate: Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations, or Treatise on Living for the Younger Generations. John Fullerton & Paul Sieveking, the first translators of the work into English, chose this alternative title. Though later translators such as Donald Nicholson-Smith prefer the original French title, publishers generally insist upon the latter title, by which it has become well-known in the English-speaking world.

The book was, along with Guy Debord’s Society of the Spectacle, one of the most significant major works written by members of the Situationist International (1957-1972).

The book takes the field of "everyday life" as the ground upon which communication and participation can occur, or, as is more commonly the case, be perverted and abstracted into pseudo-forms. The author considers that direct, unmediated communication between "qualititive subjects" is the 'end' to which human history tends - a state of affairs still frustrated by the perpetuation of capitalist modes of relation and to be "called forward" through the construction of situations. Under these prevailing conditions, people are still manipulated as docile "objects" and without the "qualititive richness" which comes from asserting their irreducible individuality - it is toward creating life lived in the first person that situations must be "built" . So to speak, it is the humiliation of being but a "thing" for others that is responsible for all the ills Vaneigem equates with modern city life - isolation, humiliation, mis-communication - and toward creating new roles that flout stereotyped convention that freedom comes.


Contents of the Donald Nicholson-Smith translation (Rebel Press, 2003):

  • Translator’s Preface
  • Author’s Preface to the First French Paperback Edition
  • Introduction

Part One: Power’s Perspective

  • Chapter 1: The Insignificant Signified

The Impossibility of Participation: Power as the Sum of Constraints

  • Chapter 2: Humiliation
  • Chapter 3: Isolation
  • Chapter 4: Suffering
  • Chapter 5: The Decline and Fall of Work
  • Chapter 6: Decompression and the Third Force

The Impossibility of Communication: Power as Universal Mediation

  • Chapter 7: The Age of Happiness
  • Chapter 8: Exchange and Gift
  • Chapter 9: Technology and Its Mediated Use
  • Chapter 10: Down Quantity Street
  • Chapter 11: Mediated Abstraction, Abstracted Mediation

The Impossibility of Realisation: Power as Sum of Seductions

  • Chapter 12: Sacrifice
  • Chapter 13: Separation
  • Chapter 14: The Organization of Appearances
  • Chapter 15: Roles
  • Chapter 16: The Fascination of Time

Survival and False Opposition to it

  • Chapter 17: Survival Sickness
  • Chapter 18: Spurious Opposition

Part Two: Reversal of Perspective

  • Chapter 19: Reversal of Perspective
  • Chapter 20: Creativity, Spontaneity, and Poetry
  • Chapter 21: Masters Without Slaves
  • Chapter 22: The Space-Time of Lived Experience and the Rectification of the Past
  • Chapter 23: The Unitary Triad: Self-Realisation, Communication, Participation
  • Chapter 24: The Interworld and the New Innocence
  • Chapter 25: You Won’t Fuck With Us Much Longer!
  • A Toast to Revolutionary Workers

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