Manajemen Teritorial

Guy Debord

Situationist International

#1 (June 1969)

PRODUKSI KAPITALIS memiliki ruang terpadu, ruang yang tidak lagi dibatasi oleh masyarakat eksternal. Perpaduan ini merupakan proses banalisasi yang ekstensif dan intensif. Akumulasi komoditi yang diproduksi massal bagi ruang abstrak dari pasar harus menghilangkan otonomi dan kualitas suatu tempat, sebagaimana ia sebelumnya merusak batasan legal dan regional dan pembaatasan korporatif, dengan kualitas artesan mereka. Kekuatan homogenisasi adalah persenjataan berat yang dibawahnya semua tembok China ambruk.


The living room of the commodity is forever being modified and rebuilt in order to become ever more identical to itself, to get as close as possible to motionless monotony.


Society suppresses geographical distance but gathers distance inwardly in the form of spectacular separation.


As a by-product of the traffic of commodities, tourism — human traffic as consumption — is to base the possibility of going to see what has become commonplace. The economic planification of different sites is already the guarantee of their equivalence. The modernization that removed time from travel also removed the reality of space from it.


Society, which molds its surroundings, has developed a special technique to mold the territory itself, which is the concrete base for all its tasks. Urbanism is the monopolization of the natural and human environment by capitalism which can — and now has to — remake the whole of space as its own decor, as its logical development into absolute domination.


The capitalist necessity which is fulfilled in urbanism (as a means for the visible suspension of life) finds expression in Hegelian terminology as, for example, the absolute predominance of “the peaceful coexistence of space” as against “the anxious becoming in the succession of time.”


If we understand the technical forces of capitalist economy as resulting in separation, what we have in the case of urbanism is the overall equipment for treating the terrain in the way that best fits the deployment of these forces; the very technique of separation.


Urbanism is the modern achievement in the uninterrupted task of preserving class power: it maintains the atomization of workers dangerously brought together by urban conditions of production. The constant struggle against the possibilities of their coming together finds its ideal battleground in urbanism. Since the experiences of the French Revolution, the effort of established powers to multiply the means of keeping law and order in the street finally results in the suppression of the street. “With mass-transit systems cutting across long distances, the isolation of the population has proven to be a more effective means of control,” says L. Mumford in The City in History, while describing a “one-way world hereafter.” But the general movement to isolation, which is the reality of urbanism, also contains a controlled reintegration of workers, based on the planned necessities of production and consumption. Integration to the system recaptures the isolated individuals as individuals isolated together: factories, culture halls, tourist resorts and housing developments are expressly organized in the light of this pseudo-community that follow the isolated individual right in to the familial cell: the generalized use of mass-media with its spectacular message fills the isolation with the images of the ruling world: it is only through this isolation that these images acquire their full power.


New architecture, traditionally developed to satisfy ruling classes, is for the first time destined to the poor. The mass character of housing — character prefigured in its destination and modern conditions of construction — is the source of the formal misery and huge extension of this new architectural experiment. At the core of modern construction is the authoritarian decision to abstractly manage the territory into the territory of abstraction. Whenever the industrialization of industrially backwards countries begins, the same architecture appears, as the fitting terrain for the new kind of social existence being implanted. Both the increasing material power of society and the delay in the conscious domination of this power are displayed in urbanism, as clearly as they are in matter of thermonuclear weaponry or birth control (where the possibility of manipulating heredity is already in view).


The present is already the time of self destruction for the urban milieu. The explosion of cities over the countryside — countryside increasingly covered with the “shapeless masses of urban residue” (L. Mumford) — is directly rules by the imperatives of consumption. The dictatorship of the automobile as prototype of the first phase of mercantile affluence — impressed the terrain with the domination of the highway, a highway which dislocated old urban centers and made for an ever-widening dispersal. At the same time, unfinished reorganizations of the urban fabric polarize themselves temporarily around the “distribution factories” that are supermarkets. These temples of precipitated consumption, having brought about a partial recomposition of the agglomeration, are themselves caught in the centrifugal movement that discards them as soon as they in turn become overloaded secondary centers. But the technical organization of consumption only stands in the foreground of the general dissolution that has led the city to consume itself.


Economic history, developed entirely around the antagonism between town and country, has achieved the kind of success that cancels out both terms. The actual paralysis of the total historical development for the benefit of the independent movement of the economy is such that as city and country begin to disappear, we witness not the supersession of their separation but their simultaneous collapse. The reciprocal exhaustion of city and country — product of the failure of the historical movement through which the existing urban reality should be surpassed — appears in the eclectic mixture of the decayed elements covering the most industrially advanced areas.


Universal history, born in the city, reached maturity when the city became victorious over the country. Marx considers one of the greatest revolutionary merits of the bourgeoisie to be the “subjection of the country to the city,” whose very air emancipates. But if the history of the city is the history of freedom, it is also the history of tyranny, and of state power which rules over both city and country. The city has only been able to be, so far, the battleground for historical freedom, not its possession. The city is the center of history because it is at once concentration of social power, which makes possible the historical task, and consciousness of the past. The actual tend towards the destruction of the city is only another expression of the delay in subordinating the economy to historical consciousness, to bring about a unification of society as it re-assumes the powers that have become detached from it.


“The countryside shows the exact opposite, isolation and separation” (German Ideology). As it destroys the city, urbanism recreates a pseudo-countryside in which are lost both the natural relationships of the old countryside and the direct and directly questioned social relationships of the historical city. A pseudo-peasantry is being created by the housing conditions and the spectacular control of space through territorial management. Two elements — dispersal in space and stubbornness — that kept the peasantry from undertaking independent action and affirm itself as a creative historical force, have now become the characterization of the producers — the movement of a world they create themselves remains as much beyond their reach as the natural rhythm of work was in the agrarian society. But when the peasantry — which was the unshakable foundation of “oriental despotism,” and whose disintegration summoned bureaucratic centralization — re-emerges as a product of the conditions off the increasing bureaucratization of the modern state, its apathy has to be historically fabricated and maintained; natural ignorance has been replaced by the organized spectacle of error. The “new cities” of the technological pseudo-peasantry show clearly their break with the historical time on which they were built. Their motto could be: “Nothing will ever happen here, and nothing ever has.” Because history, which has to be delivered in the cities has not — up to now — been delivered, the force of historical absence begins to compose its own exclusive landscape.


As it threatens this twilight world, history is also the force that can subject space to living experience. The proletarian revolution is the very critique of human geography through which individuals and communities are forced to build places and events directly related to the appropriation, not just of their work, but of their total history. In this moving space of play and freely chosen variations in the rules of the game, the autonomy of places can be rediscovered without reintroducing an exclusive attachment to the soil, as well as the reality of life seen as a journey which contains in itself its whole meaning.


The greatest revolutionary idea concerning urbanism is neither urbanistic, technological, nor esthetic. It is the decision to rebuild the entire territory according to the needs of the power of the workers councils, of the anti-state dictatorship of the proletariat, of executory dialogue. And the councils’ power, which can only be effective if it transforms existing conditions in their entirety, cannot settles for less a task if it wants to be recognized and recognize itself in its world.

From paragraphs 165 through 179 of our comrade’s book,

La Société du Spectacle

, published by Buchet-Chastel, 1967.


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