On the Poverty of Student Life
Author: Situationists International
Publisher: Black & Red Books
Subjects: Politics, Social Science, History, Situationist
When the Situationist International was a little known revolutionary art group, before Guy Debord’s philosophical masterpiece Society of the Spectacle was published, and before Paris’ universities were occupied in May ’68, a pamphlet titled On the Poverty of Student Life spurred a scandal that would turn into a global revolt.
On the Poverty of Student Life was a match that recognized and described student and youth alienation, and the way it was printed and distributed spread that fire. For the first edition, supporters of the SI (mis)appropriated school funds to create and distribute 10,000 copies of the pamphlet. From there, dozens of editions were produced by worker- and student-run printing presses around the world, from Paris to East London, from Tokyo to Detroit.
The Situationist International and the students at the University of Strasbourg prepared and published (using student union funds) this scathing analysis of student duplicity. While claiming to be revolutionaries, students prepare themselves for a professional career – “just in case.” The pamphlet provides a Situationist analysis of a familiar institution.
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