Posted by: HAT | December 16, 2009

“The police conception of history”

I hope someone will help me out.

Debord has this in quotation marks in Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, and says it was “a reactionary and ridiculous explanation” in the 19th century. So I don’t believe it was invented by Kristin Ross for her book on the afterlives of 1968, nor by Gianfranco Sanguinetti in “On Terrorism and the State”, nor even by Manes Sperber in 1959, as claimed by Humphrey McQueen.

It sounds like Marx, and like something I should remember where it’s from. Only I don’t.



  1. That conception of history according to which tabula rasa, i.e., a clean sweep, is temporarily made and must be made in order to start a new administration and system free from the old, is in the highest degree unscientific and stands in the most direct contradiction to experience. The clean sweep theory is a spook which exists today only in the heads of police politicians who accuse us of wanting to ‘ruinate’ everything that does not fit into our scheme. These gentlemen thereby give judgment against themselves, for they think they are the ones who possess this magical power of being able to ‘ruinate’ anything and everything which Time’s eternal loom has woven and is weaving, if perchance it has been done without first getting a permit from the chief of police.

    Wilhelm Liebknecht, No Compromise. No Political Trading. translated by A.M. Simons and Marcus Hitch. Revised edition. (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr & Co. Co-operative, 1907) p. 29.

    Google Books Link
    Marxist Internet Archive link (in the section “What is a Compromise?”)

    This conception was “a reactionary and ridiculous explanation” in the 19th century, but those who “believe that this conclusion remains true for eternity” actually “never want to see the real praxis of their time.” E v e n   t h e   p a s t   is in danger.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: