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The Return of the Durutti Column – André Bertrand

Excerpt from the Introduction

The Return of the Durutti Column (Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti) was a four—page comic by the student André Bertrand that was handed out at Strasbourg University in October 1966 during a student protest at the opening of the school year. This provocative piece of anarchic propaganda was published and distributed with the help of a number of students sympathetic to Situationist ideas who had joined a local chapter of the student organization AFGES (Association Fédérative Générale des Etudiants de Strasbourg).

The students illegally used 5,000 francs of the organization’s money to print numerous copies of the comic along with 10,000 copies of the pamphlet The Poverty of Student Life written by the Situationist Mustapha Khayati. This action along with their protests across campus prompted a court order to close AFGES. The judge’s ruling concluded:

One has only to read what the accused have written, that these five students, scarcely more than adolescents, lacking all experience of real life, their minds confused by ill-digested philosophical, social, political and economic theories, and perplexed by the drab monotony of their everyday life, make the empty, arrogant, and pathetic claim to pass definitive judgments, sinking to outright abuse, on their fellow students, their teachers, God, religion, the clergy, the governments and political systems of the whole world. Rejecting all morality and restraint, these cynics do not hesitate to commend theft, the destruction of scholarship, the abolition of work, total subversion and a world-wide proletarian revolution with “unlicensed pleasure” as its goal.

Libcom note: The comic was the inspiration for the name of the Manchester post-punk group The Durutti Column whose debut album (titled “The Return of the Durutti Column”) featured a sandpaper cover inspired by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn’s Mémoires.

Translation by Stephen Canfield. PDF from:

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