Total Self–Management

Chapter 3 of Raoul Vaneigem’s book
From Wildcat Strike to Total Self–Management


Translator’s Preface
Total Self–Management
Positive Revolutionary Rights
The Right to Self–Defense
The Right To Communicate
The Right To Participate
The Right to Fulfillment
The Abolition of Forced Labor
The Right to Encounters and Affinities
The Free Use of Space–Time




Raoul Vaneigem’s De la grève sauvage à l’autogestion généralisée, published under the pseudonym “Ratgeb” by Éditions 10/18 in 1974, has been out of print for many years. The first two chapters were translated by Paul Sharkey under the title Contributions to the Revolutionary Struggle (Bratach Dubh, 1981; reprinted by Elephant Editions, 1990). That translation has also been out of print for some time, though it can now be found online. The text below is the third and last chapter of the book, which has not previously been translated.

As I noted in The Joy of Revolution, Vaneigem’s book “usefully recapitulates a number of basic tactics during wildcat strikes and other radical situations as well as various possibilities of postrevolutionary social organization. Unfortunately it is also padded with the inflated verbiage characteristic of Vaneigem’s post–SI writings, attributing to worker struggles a Vaneigemist content that is neither justified nor necessary.” This criticism applies particularly to the first chapter, in which Vaneigem is constantly declaring that this or that expression of dissatisfaction implies a total revolt (if you have ever felt like cussing out your boss, or showing up late for work, or smashing your TV set, you are implicitly demanding a life in which all your dreams can be fulfilled). But the other two chapters, though somewhat more concrete because they deal with specific practical issues, also contain quite a bit of ideological fluff.

Nevertheless, Vaneigem’s book is one of the few texts that seriously consider the problems and possibilities of a postrevolutionary society. I incorporated several of his suggestions into the last chapter of The Joy of Revolution. (The only other text I found equally useful in this regard was Castoriadis’s Workers’ Councils and the Economics of a Self–Managed Society.) Even where Vaneigem’s proposed solutions are too vague or simplistic, he at least reminds us of important problems that we will have to deal with if we are ever fortunate enough to find ourselves in such a situation.

To clarify the context: The first chapter denounces various aspects of the present society and comments on some common reactions against it. The second chapter discusses radical tactics during wildcat strikes and workplace takeovers. The third chapter (the only one reproduced here) deals with issues that would arise following a successful self–management revolution, i.e. a popular nonhierarchical revolution that has abolished capitalism and the state.

The most literal sense of autogestion généralisée is “generalized self–management.” Another acceptable rendering, used by Sharkey in his translation of the earlier chapters, is “universal self–management.” In the present case I have chosen “total self–management,” which makes for a bit more fluent style without, I hope, being too misleading. However translated, it should be clearly understood that the phrase does not mean the self–management of this or that detail, but self–management extended to every region and every aspect of life; not the self–management of the present world, but the self–management of its total transformation. Although the situationists always stressed this fact, some people still claim that the situationists “failed to realize that self–management is only the self–management of alienation.” I have yet to see any of these people explain why self–management can only be that and nothing more, or how they imagine a liberated society could work if it is not self–managed by the people living in it.

May 2001


Total Self–Management

  1. Total self–management is the form of social organization in which everybody has the right to make the decisions that affect their everyday life, whether individually or collectively in self–managing assemblies.

  2. It has appeared in the history of the workers movement each time that the people themselves have tried to make and implement their own decisions without giving up their power to leaders and without allowing themselves to be tied to any ideology.

  3. It has been crushed by the combined effect of its own internal weaknesses, hesitancies and confusions, by its isolation, and by the leaders it has made the mistake of creating for itself or of tolerating, leaders who have led it to defeat while pretending to organize and strengthen it. The most instructive examples are the workers councils that appeared in Russia in 1905 (crushed by the Czarist regime), in 1917 (coopted and destroyed by the Bolsheviks), and in 1921 (crushed at Kronstadt by Lenin and Trotsky); in Germany in 1918 (crushed by the socialists); in Italy in 1920 (destroyed by the socialists and the labor unions); in Spain in 1934 (the Asturian revolution, crushed by the republican government) and in 1936–1937 (coopted by the anarchist labor union and crushed by the Stalinists); and in Hungary in 1956 (crushed by the “Soviet” state).

  4. No revolution is possible without the revival of the movement for total self–management, which this time must be decisively strengthened and extended internationally.

  5. The movement for total self–management develops through the operation of popular assemblies and their coordinating councils.

  6. Total self–management assemblies arise out of class struggles. These struggles are the most direct expression of the proletariat’s will to abolish the bourgeoisie and to abolish itself as a class; of its decision to no longer remain a mere spectator watching its own dispossession and the delusory representations that mask that dispossession; and of its determination to no longer submit to history but to make its own history for itself and for the benefit of everyone.

  7. A total self–management assembly is nothing other than a strike assembly formed by the workers the moment they begin occupying their factories, and which extends as quickly as possible from the workplace to the neighborhood and surrounding region. Far from being abstract or political, its primary aim is to liberate and enrich the daily life of each individual.

  8. Councils of delegates are elected by the assembly for specifically defined purposes. These delegates are constantly monitored by the assembly and may be revoked at any moment.

  9. A council has essentially a coordinating function. It is indissociable from the assembly. It has no members other than delegates who have been elected for very specific purposes; and those delegates have no power of their own, though they are granted whatever creative freedom is necessary to carry out the task they have been assigned. If any separation ever appears between their interests and the interests of the people who elected them, the council will have become a committee which, by acting as an autonomous power, would open the way toward a new State.

  10. Even at their greatest degree of expansion, the total self–management assemblies constantly monitor their delegates by means of appropriate telecommunications technologies, in order to verify how those delegates are carrying out the goals they have been assigned.

Positive Revolutionary Rights

  1. Positive revolutionary rights are the ever–increasing range of individual rights to enjoyment guaranteed by the very functioning of the new social organization.

    1. Arising out of the struggle against the commodity system and concretized with the first measures taken by the total self–management assemblies, they constitute entitlements which should never be given up.

    2. Derived from requests presented in the total self–management assemblies, whether those requests have been immediately implemented, harmonized, or temporarily postponed due to lack of means to fulfill them, they comprise a perpetual code of possible rights.

  2. Rights to enjoyment appear in a negative form in our reactions against the system of survival. We become aware of them as we articulate critiques of the state, of bureaucracy, work, exchange, sacrifice, private property; of ideology, hierarchy, and quantification. We can therefore only have a relatively poor idea of the inexhaustible happiness that the destruction of this system of constraints and lies could bring within our grasp virtually overnight. By positively realizing the desires that have thus far been blocked, repressed and falsified, the self–management assemblies will free the passions from the conditions that have debased them and will harmonize them in such a way that all the psychological effects of survival (jealousy, avarice, prestige, authoritarianism, taste for submission or for rape, etc.) will disappear once and for all.

  3. A genuine movement for total self–management cannot peacefully coexist with any other form of social power. We want the self–management of freedoms, not the self–management of oppression and lies (which amounts to nothing other than oppression and lies in the name of self–management).

  4. The point is not to condemn a desire or a passion that has been warped into a masochistic or destructive form, but to undermine its appeal by presenting a far richer range of possible enjoyments. All desires thus merit being presented to the total self–management assemblies in order to be satisfied, harmonized by the process of “supply and demand,” developed from simple to composite, multiplied and refined. If revolutionaries create the first total self–management assemblies, it is equally true that those assemblies will engender new revolutionaries.

  5. Positive revolutionary rights are the practice of concrete individuals, not abstract principles of “citizens” or of “humanity.”

  6. It is not enough that individuals know their rights or even invent rights for themselves by trial and error; society must be organized in such a way that it will automatically reinforce, enrich and multiply those individual rights. We don’t want a new “Declaration of the Rights of Man,” but real rights that flow from the very nature and functioning of the social organization.

  7. Positive revolutionary rights will be manifested in all domains of social life thanks to the functioning of the total self–management assemblies. The simpler this functioning is, the more the complexity of individual demands will increase and the more desires can be satisfied without even bothering with the assemblies.

  8. The more decisive the blows struck against the commodity system and the state, the more the harmonization of individual interests, desires and passions will make everybody masters of their own daily life. During the initial trial–and–error phase, it is crucial to prevent any form of repression within the self–managed society. Except during the self–defensive war that will be necessary to eliminate the statist forces:

    1. No one should be condemned for what he was before the revolution. The only determining factor should be a person’s attitude during the current struggle. For example, in the Aragon village of Alcorisa during the uprisings of 1933 the anarchists fired on the village notary, leaving him with a permanent limp. In 1936 the village was collectivized and the notary became part of the collective along with all the other residents. A year later, with the Communist Party’s reinforcement of the bourgeoisie and the Stalinists’ efforts to destroy the collectives, a minority of small farmers wanted to leave the collective and tried to convince others to do the same. The notary opposed their arguments and said: “Before, I owned such–and–such number of acres of land. Now, in the collective, everything belongs to me and I’m much richer.” This notary who had become a revolutionary was shot by the Francoists in 1939 in Barcelona.

    2. While we have to be extremely strict during battle, once victory has been assured we should diversify playful relations in order to get beyond the habit of sniffing out people’s past offenses or possible future betrayals.

    3. Practical results are the only thing that counts. As we develop ever more harmonized relations, the need to judge people will fade away. A breach of someone’s right will call for no other “punishment” than making good the injury.

The Right to Self–Defense

  1. Self–defense is the first right of revolutionaries. As long as arms have not become unnecessary, each person will have the right to be armed.

  2. An assembly should immediately organize its own self–defense groups charged among other things with:

    • Carrying on guerrilla warfare in unliberated zones, including the destruction of economic centers vital to the statists and individual attacks aimed at disorganizing the enemy.

    • Producing new arms.

    • Devising new and unexpected tactics.

    • Protecting key factories, supply sources, storehouses, health care facilities, and telecommunications in the liberated zones.

  3. During the period of experimentation and inevitable errors, the best self–defense is to concretely demonstrate to everyone:

    1. That total self–management brings everybody an immediate improvement in the quality of their daily life (by giving highest priority to de–alienating passions, abolishing forced labor, and constructing real human relations).

    2. That any regression toward money, hierarchy, or commodity relations is subjectively repugnant and objectively impossible.

    3. That the abolition of the commodity system radically changes the orientation of human interests and activities. Freed from the problems of survival, we will finally have no other care than to learn how to live.

  4. Creating an increasing number of increasingly rich rights is our best weapon. We will not need to give lessons or exhortations. We are not heroes, but discoverers of new passions, enragés of unlimited pleasure.

  5. The expansion of the movement for total self–management — an expansion which must rapidly become international — depends primarily on the progress of individual liberation engendered by the collective transformation of historical conditions.

  6. The struggle against the isolation that threatens the efforts toward total self–management entails a simultaneous transformation of space and time:

    1. We have to modify geographical space by inaugurating the reign of free goods, by conquering complementary economic sectors (industrial zones, agricultural zones, and zones where we can obtain needed raw materials), and by creating automated “polyindustries” capable of providing the greatest diversity of products. And inseparably:

    2. We have to create the conditions for passing from the present time of boredom and passivity to a new time of creativity and multiple passions, so that people live in a different rhythm within a network of space–time ensembles that they themselves control and transform.

  7. The qualitative transformation of everyday life is an absolutely necessary requirement in the society of total self–management. It eliminates any compromise with the forces of the old world. The Spanish revolutionaries of 1937 were doomed to extermination precisely because they had failed to push forward boldly enough and came to terms with the forces of Stalinism and reformism.

  8. Total self–management is neither a minimum program nor a maximum program. Its fate is linked to that of the assemblies, depending on whether they develop coherently or fade away. Certain inseparable and immediately implementable requirements will enable us to judge its success or failure: all state or para–state power must be eliminated; the producers must appropriate all the means of production; work must be replaced by collective creativity; exchange relations must be replaced with universal giving; and survival and the spectacle must be abolished through the individual construction of everyday life.

The Right to Participate

  1. Each individual has the right:

    1. To participate in the self–management assembly of her choice.

    2. To elect delegates.

    3. To be elected as a delegate.

    4. To have her demands heard by the assembly, to take the floor to defend them and deal with them, and to make them known anywhere else by using any of the assembly’s means of communication.

    5. To personally enjoy the enrichments guaranteed by the self–management assembly.

  2. Each delegate commits to defending the mandates for which she has been elected, and sees that they are carried out by every means possible. Being elected as a delegate does not give her any special privileges. If she is revoked, this does not necessarily imply any blame. The sole criterion that determines whether she is revoked or not is how successfully she carries out her mandates.

  3. The members of an assembly do not delegate their power. A delegate never has any power separate from the assembly, she is simply a means for implementing the power of each and everyone. It is to prevent any such separation that assembly members should remain in continual contact with their delegate, using telecommunications not so much to control her every move as to enable her to consult with them at each stage of her mandate. This ongoing communication pertains only to the mission the delegate has agreed to carry out. Its purpose is to ensure the successful implementation of the mandate, not to hinder the delegates’ creativity.

  4. Each delegate has the right to resign. It would seem, however, that this right should sometimes be temporarily suspended during the period of self–defense. A guerrilla volunteer should not feel free to abandon her comrades in the middle of an armed engagement.

  5. Without presuming to predict the exact organizational forms that historical conditions will make most appropriate, it may be helpful to consider some of the main necessities and possibilities. It seems likely that the assemblies’ councils of delegates will set up four closely interrelated sections, something along the following lines:

    1. An equipment section, charged with coordinating supplies and demands (what has been or needs to be produced, and what should be distributed where) and with regulating relations between industrial zones and agricultural zones in such a way as to promote their interconnection and eventual merging.

    2. A self–defense section, charged with organizing guerrilla actions, liberating territory controlled by statists, and protecting key factories, storehouses, and sources of raw materials.

    3. A harmonization section, charged with coordinating passional offers and requests, harmonizing the plurality of desires, and facilitating the fulfillment of particular caprices.

    4. A liaison section, charged with relations between assemblies and delegate councils of different regions.

  6. The division of councils into these different sections represents an initial effort to coordinate the most diverse supplies and demands. But there should be no separation between these sections; on the contrary, they should work together to establish concrete foundations that will foster a spirit of unity. The delegates should take part in the meetings and work of all the council sections.

  7. Except in certain matters of self–defense where strategical considerations may require unified action, no majority decision precludes other desires or viewpoints. If a desire cannot be satisfied (because the necessary material means are lacking, or because it reflects a regression toward old, alienated behavior), it should be referred to the delegates of the harmonization section, whose task will be to look into ways of satisfying it as fully as possible.

  8. Each person has the right to present and defend her desires until they are satisfied. (See paragraphs 82–88, below.)

  9. Whatever harmonizes spontaneously has no need to pass through the total self–management assembly. The diversity of attractive occupations, the multiplication of adventures, the taste for variety, and the interplay of intrigues, encounters and enthusiasms will blossom to such a point that the only things that will need to be harmonized by the assemblies will be those things that have not spontaneously harmonized themselves in the happenstances of everyday life.

  10. The members of the assemblies determine the frequency of meetings according to the needs of the moment. People will participate in the assemblies to the extent that they find it interesting and enjoyable to do so, not out of any sense of duty, much less as a result of any form of coercion.

  11. The reinforcement of possibilities and the enrichment of regions and their assemblies is the best guarantee of international relations based on gift and play. Conversely, the international interrelation of assemblies and their councils will provide the best foundation for harmonizing desires and inaugurating the reign of abundance.

  12. The freedom to change occupations and dwelling places includes the freedom to change assemblies. Such mobility offers at least three advantages:

    1. It prevents the reappearance of a narrow regionalism in which people patriotically identify with some particular territory.

    2. It prevents the development of rigidly fixed groups and conformist habits.

    3. By taking care to satisfy minority as well as majority desires and by continually altering the number of members of the assemblies and of the various affinity groups that are constantly forming and disbanding, it helps dissolve quantitative criteria, reduces proportional oppositions (such as majority–minority antagonisms), and encourages qualitative diversity.

  13. In the processes of participation, as in the problems of realization, we must demolish whatever subsists of the old dictatorship of the quantitative. Where qualitative diversity exists, the law of numbers no longer holds sway; where people give freely without expecting anything in return, exchange of equal quantities disappears; where each person has the right to affirm her particularity, groups cease to be considered as mere sums of individuals.

The Right to Communicate

  1. Each individual has the right to express and disseminate her opinions, desires, demands, and critiques by spoken or printed word, by film, by artistic means, etc. In so doing she has free access to all the communications technologies created, maintained, and improved by the self–management assemblies.

  2. Each assembly should have on hand the widest possible range of telecommunications facilities. These latter serve notably:

    • To disseminate projects and requests of individuals and groups.

    • To make known the decisions of different assemblies and the current status of problems being dealt with.

    • To bring to everyone’s attention various possibilities for harmonizing material and passional “supplies and demands.”

    • To communicate information on anything and everything, to form centers for gathering knowledge on all sorts of topics, to let people know about creative methods in every domain, to put together basic surveys or compendiums for use in education based on curiosity and practical attraction.

    • To collect and communicate particular experiences, dreams, memories, creations, studies and individual and collective researches.

  3. Each proposal in the assembly is publicly debated and settled. When all attractions are allowed, all can be avowed, and the fulfillment of one desire incites people to fulfill them all.

  4. The assembly limits itself to enabling the individual to communicate what she would not have had the means to communicate on her own. It never intervenes in individuals’ affairs except upon their request (to do so would amount to acting not only against those individuals, but contrary to its own raison–d’être). The purpose of an assembly is not to limit attractive occupations, encounters, experiences, and adventures, but to radicalize, multiply, and enrich them.

  5. By maintaining ongoing “balance sheets” of radical achievements, the development of new rights, and the progress of social harmonization, people will be able to clearly assess the uneven march of the long revolution, so as to correct its mistakes and be aware of the areas in which it is still lagging. (They can ignore the advances, since the latter present no problem.)

  6. Mistakes will be made in the assemblies. But the transparency of relations between individuals (made possible by the absence of prejudices, constraints and taboos) encourages ongoing self–correction rather than mere self–criticism. The only irremediable error would be to prefer a committee that is always right over an assembly that sometimes makes mistakes.

  7. The council of delegates will fulfill its assembly mandate by presenting comprehensive reports on the current status of individual demands and comprehensive accounts of its own actions, successes and failures.

The Right to Fulfillment

  1. The self–management assembly puts the collectivity at the service of individuals, not vice versa. Whatever the creativity of each person contributes in the interplay of attractive occupations is immediately made freely available to everyone else.

  2. The council of delegates is a mere coordinating body. It is the focus of the assembly just as the assembly is the pivot of social life. It is also the instrument for carrying out the goals expressed in the assembly. Needs create delegates, not the other way around. Delegates should not be elected except when they are needed to carry out some particular project; and at any moment the assembly can ask those delegates to justify their implementation of their mandate.

  3. The construction by each person of her own individual life — the realization of what she really wants — implies the end of the economy as a separate sector and its integration into a collective creation that ensures free access to all the means of survival (food, clothing, housing, utilities, health care) and to all the means necessary for the realization of passions, encounters, adventures and games.

  4. Even if self–defense is urgent (arms, equipment, supplies, guerrilla organization), the satisfaction of individual passions should retain high priority. “We will fight without restraint only if we stand to win a life without restraints.”

  5. The abolition of the commodity economy will inaugurate the reign of freeness. This abolition will pass the point of no return when the self–management assemblies have seized the centers of distribution and production and organized the sharing of goods and free access to technological facilities.

  6. People’s right to goods will not depend on whether they have produced or created them. We will replace “To each according to his work” with “To each according to his desires.” The system of exchange must be wiped out by the universal practice of giving.

  7. Council delegates will be continually mandated to monitor the level of supplies in the warehouses and collective stores. Computers will enable them to do this and to coordinate offers of production and creation, and all this information will be made available to everyone. The gradual increase of supplies and the multiplication of centers for surplus products will lead to a society of abundance and luxury.

  8. A society in which everything is free means the end of the forms of exchange that have dominated all social behavior under the commodity system. When passions prevail over profits and power, the use of objects and the very notion of usefulness will be transformed, everyday gestures will be liberated from their old rigidities, and the habits of avarice, private property, jealousy, lying, prestige and spectatorship will disappear.

  9. Such a society is simply a further development of what the revolutionary moments of the past have begun. In Kronstadt in 1921, for example, “the agriculture union — the organization of workers with connections in the countryside — asked anyone with any scrap iron to donate it for the production of farm equipment. Everything that was produced was listed in the Kronstadt soviet’s paper Izvestia. Each item was stamped ‘Agriculture Union of Kronstadt.’ Agitators from the soviet setting out for the country took the tools and products manufactured by this union and offered them to peasants through their local soviets” (Efin Yartchouk, Cronstadt dans la révolution russe). The practice of exchange will be replaced by the practice of giving without demanding anything in return.

  10. The end of the commodity system means the end of the reign of the quantitative. As production gives way to collective creation, quality will become the dominant factor in the games of passional emulation and the generalization of luxury. Just as the art of fine cuisine should replace the mere need for nourishment, the quest for quality in products, techniques and lifestyles will become the essential occupation of everyone.

  11. The progress of the long revolution will be reflected in the transition from the stage of “Minimum work and equal distribution for everyone” to the more advanced stage of “Universal creativity and maximum gifts for everyone.”

  12. We want the enjoyment of all rights, or what amounts to the same thing, the right to all enjoyments.

The Abolition of Forced Labor

  1. Total self–management is the shortest path to a society of abundance, a society in which work tends toward zero and creativity toward infinity.

  2. The abolition of forced labor is one of the first measures demonstrating the authenticity of a revolutionary situation. It can be immediately initiated by:

    1. Suppressing parasitic sectors (useless or polluting industries, offices, ministries, banks, insurance companies, and the tertiary sector in general). This suppression will free up an enormous number of workers, many of whom will be happy to switch to 5–8 hours of voluntary work per month in the essential sectors and to taking part in individual and collective creation. The assemblies will coordinate the projects of the continually fluctuating work–teams, whose voluntary participants will themselves determine their own procedures and schedules.

    2. Reversing perspective: instead of 40 hours of forced labor per week and a time dominated by the necessities of survival (the rat race for profits and promotions), each individual will discover the interesting problems posed by the construction of a society designed to ensure happiness for everyone — the creation and free distribution of goods, the multiplicity of encounters, regroupings by affinities, and the satisfaction of desires by the variety of passional dispositions that have finally become recognized and freed from the taboos that previously repressed them and turned them toward violence and destruction.

    3. Automating the essential sectors, particularly the most unpleasant tasks (e.g. cleaning, sewage), and reducing pollution through the development of solar energy and other renewable sources.

  3. Since it will probably not be possible to immediately eliminate all unpleasant tasks, those that remain:

    1. Should be divided into brief shifts.

    2. Should be reserved for those who enjoy them or at least don’t mind them too much.

    3. Should be automated in priority.

  4. In general, forced labor should be replaced by collective creation and the interplay of attractive occupations. In this way, indispensable tasks will tend to take on (though at a higher technological level) the festive character of collective harvest work in certain agricultural societies of the past.

  5. When the conditions in which time is money have been abolished, occupations will cease being dominated by profit and social representation and will be organized according to the criteria of pleasure. Do–it–yourself activities, though they are now usually rather trivial, contain a kernel of a creativity that only awaits the moment when it can develop without constraint. Once it is able to make full use of the most sophisticated technologies, this creativity will enrich humanity within a few months with more ingenious and enjoyable discoveries and inventions than were produced in centuries of forced labor.

  6. Any remaining repetitive and boring tasks will be organized in such a way that the greatest possible number of people will devote an hour or two to them out of simple taste for variety; so that people who previously had to devote their lives to those tasks will not have to spend any additional time at them beyond whatever is necessary to train others to take over for them.

  7. As the taste for variety becomes more refined, it is likely that increasing numbers of people will become adept at an increasingly wide range of skills and will be capable of enjoyably taking part in all sorts of creative occupations.

  8. New desires will create new notions of what is or is not necessary. When time is no longer money, the need for rapid transportation will fade away, along with automobiles; the organization of lies will vanish along with the spectacle; bureaucracy will disappear along with hierarchical power and the state. The wealth of individual creativity will ultimately lead to agricultural and industrial decentralization.

  9. There is no risk of poverty unless we make the mistake of concentrating exclusively on survival, instead of striving for a qualitative rise in the standard of life.

  10. We need to reduce concentrations of population, to decentralize and open up the cities to a new countryside.

  11. The end of separations will include the end of the separation between city and country. This will entail developing a mechanized agriculture that is freed from market imperatives (profitability, pesticides) and interspersing cities with agricultural zones (fields, pastures, forests, farms, gardens).

  12. The rapid automation of essential sectors will encourage the rebirth of new craft industries, the development of new inventions, and the rediscovery of all sorts of traditional techniques that had disappeared due to their lack of profitability.

  13. As soon as possible, factories will be decentralized into automated workshops for collective creation (along the lines of what already exists, but in an archaic manner, in certain manufacturies of textiles, arms, or watchmaking). Raw material industries will furnish basic materials to creative workshops, enabling them to create the greatest variety of finished products.

  14. In addition to workshops for creation and assembling, we will also need to set up numerous local centers for experimentation by individuals or small groups; machine shops where people can repair or build things; and public kitchens and bakeries (modern versions of the public ovens, mills and granaries of the Middle Ages).

  15. Whatever her age, physical condition, or capacities, each person has the right to freely exercise her creativity. This is a particularly important right because it hastens the withering away of distinctions of age, sex, intelligence, and physical strength, and of reliance on abilities or disabilities as a source of prestige.

  16. Social harmonization will incite the greatest variety of tastes and passions, which will henceforth be the mainspring of abundance and the guarantee against any reversion to forced labor or social roles.

The Right to Encounters and Affinities

  1. The movement toward total self–management also involves the study, research and experimentation of human relationships based on interpersonal attractions and antipathies.

  2. The delegates who form the harmonization section must deal with the conflicts and accords that arise among individuals and groups. The section will facilitate encounters, register and communicate passional offers and requests, enlarge the field of possibilities, and foster the greatest possible variety of behaviors and desires.

  3. The point is not to suppress oppositions and disagreements, but to encourage them in such a way that everyone discovers increased pleasures among them.

  4. Inequalities, contrasts, and divergent desires are the mainspring of harmonization, engendering the multitude of variants and varieties that are essential to it. The analysis and organization of these varieties will be one of the most important concerns of everyday life under self–management — the realization of individual history through the realization of collective history.

  5. Anything that cannot be immediately harmonized should be referred to delegates assigned to seek some way of fulfilling it as soon as possible.

  6. The more uniquenesses there are, the more harmonization will spontaneously develop. The best way to avoid succumbing to a single passion is to have several.

  7. We don’t want the rejection of the commodity system to give rise to a new moralism. The appeal to revolutionary virtue is always counterrevolutionary. It only makes those it condemns more ashamed, more devious and more cynical. Lies, separations, prestige, passivity, private property, and all the habits inherited from the commodity system will not disappear as a result of constraints or punishments or noble exhortations, but by the harmonious organization of passions and desires for personal fulfillment.

  8. Certain pre–revolution ideological groups (political parties and organizations) will no doubt try to maintain or reconstitute themselves within the assemblies. They must be resolutely combatted during the life–and–death struggle against the statist forces, but not after that struggle has been won. If self–management spreads as it should, political or syndicalist groups will merge into the variety and complexity of all the regroupings based on affinities and antipathies, into an interplay of agreements and disagreements which will bring rivalries and affinities into the service of the progress of self–management.

  9. Individuals will have the freedom to join or refuse to join, to associate with those of like mind, to engage in collective projects, to share their passions and their tastes, to remain alone, to shift from one group to another, to propagandize for this or that enthusiasm, to change activities several times a day, to enter into creative rivalries with each other (cooking contests, inventions, refinements of pleasures, etc.).

  10. The coherence of the assembly should promote a network of activities organized in such a way that they don’t destroy each other, but multiply and enhance each other. It should be understood once and for all that such an organization implies the abolition of spectacle–commodity conditions, and thus has nothing to do with group dynamics and other techniques for integrating people into the present world of survival. The point is not to combine alienated desires, but to harmonize de–alienated desires, desires which the radical transformation of historical conditions has freed from all the constraints, impotencies and lies that previously turned them against themselves.

  11. All tastes are compatible with social harmonization. By eliminating guilt, the promotion and liberation of desires will also eliminate what the old world knew as crimes. This is one of the things total self–management is staked on.

  12. Rival or divergent tendencies will enliven total self–management assemblies and the entire social organization. “The absence of discords is only a poor substitute for the positive good which arises out of the combination of discords.”

  13. The new social organization is nothing other than the organization by all individuals of desires, passions and dreams, creating day by day the historical conditions of their liberation, development and practical fulfillment. We have arrived at a point in history where humanity will not survive unless it creates guarantees of individual happiness.

  14. Behaviors and habits inherited from the commodity system which its destruction has not succeeded in completely wiping out must be turned toward play, brought into the interplay of passions in such a way that the abundance of enjoyments overwhelms their miserable lacks, compensations, renunciations, and self–underestimations.

  15. We must not only accept each individual disposition, each subjective demand, each particular desire, each peculiarity of taste, each ability, we must encourage them all. This is what gives positive value to inequalities and prevents them from developing into the negative foundation of a new hierarchy. The competing satisfactions of individual tendencies express a range of positive inequalities which, within playful and nonconstraining relations, enhance the charm of encounters and regroupings. We want to create equalitarian conditions for all our subjective inequalities.

  16. The social harmonization of individuals is inseparable from the struggle against separations. The economy and everyday life, for example, must not subsist as autonomous sectors, but must disappear as they have existed up till now and become intimately intermingled and indistinguishable from each other. It is therefore necessary to make sure that passional offers and demands are inseparable from offers and demands of the products necessary for survival (food, information, raw materials, health care, etc.). It will be the task of the delegates to coordinate into a coherent whole the various demands that they are called on to fulfill separately, in such a way that a spirit of unity spreads into every domain.

  17. The process of grouping by affinities and contrasts is one of the surest guarantees of the end of separations, the end of fragmentation and specializations. By becoming everybody’s business in the interplay of general emulation and particular enjoyments, economics, education, language and the various fields of knowledge will cease to be separate sectors of everyday life. They will instead become integral parts of a unified life that past generations could only dimly imagine — the greatest revolutionary transformation in history.

  18. A harmonization section within the council of delegates is useful insofar as it facilitates, in cooperation with the other sections, the possibilities of encounter and attractional regroupings. Such a section will no longer be necessary once individuals have themselves developed a sufficiently comprehensive grasp of the possibilities of encounter and association. Meanwhile, it can among other things promote children’s self–management of their own lives by coordinating the actions of their parents, teachers and friends in such a way as to create the most favorable conditions for their development within the present age of survival, and then by learning from those children’s spontaneous creativity how to rediscover a lost sensitivity, a new perception of reality, the real unity between word and deed, space and time, dream and reality.

The Free Use of Space-Time

  1. The space–time created by the revolution of everyday life is the ensemble of territories liberated from the control of the state and the commodity system and continually modified by individuals who are learning how to collectively and individually construct each moment of their existence.

  2. As both model and center of social life, the total self–management assembly is revolutionary practice’s unity of place and time. It is in such assemblies that the old project of making oneself by making history discovers its sole possible means of realization.

  3. The free use of time and the free use of space are inseparable. Everyone should be able to feel at home anywhere at any time. What this means in practice is that each individual must have the right to build any style of dwelling, to create ambiences, to move wherever she wants (the right to nomadism), to explore, to construct her dreams, to condense lived time, to dissipate it in fugitive moments, or to put an end to it by suicide.

  4. One of the most elementary changes in space–time, one that could be implemented within a relatively short time span, consists of eliminating the distinction between town and country. As large cities are partially invaded by fields and forests, they will disappear in a vast dispersion of people living in a variety of dwellings, fixed or mobile, temporary or permanent.

  5. The right to change the space–time of one’s daily life includes the right to all the changes one might dream of (for example, changing one’s name or appearance in different circumstances).

  6. There is no question that the free use of space–time will bring about marvelous transformations in human behavior. Our perceptions of reality will be modified, and our senses, now eroded by the brutalizing habits of survival, will become refined to a level of acuteness that we can now scarcely imagine.

Never–ending revolution is the rational

pivot of all the passions.



Chapter 3 of Raoul Vaneigem’s De la grève sauvage à l’autogestion généralisée (Éditions 10/18, 1974). Translated by Ken Knabb. This translation is not copyrighted.

The entire book, including the first two chapters of the book which were originally translated under the title “Contributions to the Revolutionary Struggle” and the Introduction (also newly translated by Ken Knabb), can be found online at  Situationist International Online.

For an earlier Vaneigem text on the same theme, see Notice to the Civilized Concerning Generalized Self–Management. For a text that addresses many of the same issues, see the last chapter of The Joy of Revolution.