This evening’s Cafe Calcio on London’s Resonance FM will be looking at the culture of football in the capital. You don’t have to live there to be able to listen to and enjoy it, though. The show is on at 9.00 this evening and is repeated at 11.00 tomorrow morning, with a podcast version available during the week. You can listen to it by clicking here.

A small band of avante-garde artists and intellectuals who sought to fuse poetry and music and transform the urban landscape founded the magazine ‘Situationiste Internationale’ in 1957. At first, they were principally concerned with the “suppression of art”, to supersede the categorization of art and culture as separate activities and to transform them into part of everyday life. From 1962, the Situationists increasingly applied their critique not only in culture but to all aspects of capitalist society when Guy Debord emerged as the most important figure.

They believed that the revolutionary movement in advanced capitalist countries should be led by an “enlarged proletariat” which would include the majority of waged laborers but that the “spectacle” of such societies kept their proletariats dazzled by increasingly sophisticated modes of communication, consumption and entertainment. This spectacle of seeming connectivity and commercially led expression trapped the workers into collusion in their own imprisonment. It was the job of the situationalists to break through this barrier of false consciousness and confront the society of the spectacle. In the UK the most extreme example being the Angry Brigade bombing campaign of the early 70s which targeted not only politicians but fashionable boutiques (see Communique #8 below). This might be a telling critique of the casual culture in football, or not if one considers Merseyside fans in the 1980s cavalier approach to paying for goods.

In footballing terms today though the analogy is clear as fans worldwide are held spellbound by the gripping display of the Premier League and the constant “dialogue” around it; which encourages a desire to be a part of it, a sense of identity and also route of (albeit limited) participation via phone ins and banterboards. Another manifestation of the spectacle are any side who have no purpose other than being in, and remaining a part of, the premier league without a hope of winning it once again both Merseyside giants fit that paradigm as do most of the other north west sides. These teams are trapped in the situationalist paradigm of being dissatisfied with their lot but unable to break out of it. Perhaps worse is the position of those sides who look on from outside and yearn to be in the Premier League.

Another currently popular offshoot of situationalism is psychogeography, essentially a means of reading the streets of a city using the text of events and buildings that were once there rather than the present reality. In a more advanced definition this could mean trying to navigate the streets of contemporary Berlin using a map of 19th century Paris or in footballing terms attempting to understand Vicarage Lane using a map of Old Trafford.

*Communique 8 from the Angry Brigade– modified version,`If you’re not busy being born you’re busy buying’.

All the Premier League fans are made to dress the same and have the same get-up, representing a classic past era. In fashion as in everything else, capitalism can only go backwards — they’ve nowhere to go — they’re dead.

The future is ours.

Life is so boring there is nothing to do except spend all our wages on the latest shirt.

Brothers and Sisters, what are your real desires?

Sit in the stand, look distant, empty, bored, drinking some tasteless tea? Or perhaps…

BLOW IT UP OR BURN IT DOWN. The only thing you can do with modern slave-houses — called the English Premier League  — IS WRECK THEM. You can’t reform profit capitalism and inhumanity. Just kick it till it breaks.


Communique 8 The Angry Brigade – Real version here

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