Search View Archive

Raoul Vaneigem, A new translation from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

RAOUL VANEIGEM was born in Lessines, Belgium, in 1934. A leading light in the Situationist International in the 1960s, he is a prolific writer and a relentless critic of late capitalism.

His Traité de savoir-vivre à l'usage des jeunes générations, known in English translation as The Revolution of Everyday Life, was written during the Cold War in 1963-65. It is one of two influential books, the other being Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle, published by the Situationist International just months before the May 1968 upheavals in France. The extract presented here is from a completely revised translation forthcoming in September from PM Press (

DONALD NICHOLSON-SMITH is a longtime resident of Brooklyn who has translated Antonin Artaud, Thierry Jonquet, Paco Ignacio Taibo II, and Jean Piaget.

From The Revolution Of Everyday Life

Until now tyranny has merely changed hands. By virtue of their like respect for the principle of the ruler, antagonistic powers have always contained the seeds of their future coexistence. (When the organizer of the game assumes the power of a leader, the revolution dies along with the revolutionaries.)

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

My aim is not to make the real experience contained in this book comprehensible to readers who have no real interest in reliving it. I fully expect this experience to be lost—and rediscovered—in a general alteration of consciousness, just as I am convinced that the present conditions of our lives will one day be no more than a memory.

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

by Raoul Vaneigem A new translation from the French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

In anachronistic fashion, the modern welfare state provides the guarantees of survival once demanded by the disinherited members of the former produc­tion-based society. Affluent survival means the impoverishment of life. Purchasing power is a licence to purchase power, to become an object in the order of things. Oppressor and oppressed alike fall prey - albeit at different rates – to the self-same dictatorship of consumption.

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

There is such a thing as a reformism of sacrifice that is really just a sacrifice to reformism. Humanist self-mutilation and fascist self-destruction both leave us nothing — not even the option of death. All causes are equally inhuman.

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

According to Nietzsche, the ‘ideal world’ is a construct based on a lie: ‘Reality has been deprived of its value, its meaning, its veracity to the same degree as an ideal world has been fabricated.’

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

Our efforts, our troubles, our failures, the absurdity of our actions – all stem largely from the imperious necessity in our present situation of playing hybrid parts, parts which appear to answer our desires but which are really antagonistic to them.

from The Revolution Of Everyday Life

The light of Power obscures. The eyes of the illusion of community are holes in a mask, holes to which the eyes of individual subjectivity cannot adapt. The individual point of view must prevail over the point of view of false collective participation.


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

All Issues