Critical theory must communicate itself in its own language — the language of contradiction, which must be dialectical in both form and content. It must be an all-inclusive critique and it must be grounded in history. It is not a “zero degree of writing,” but its reversal. It is not a negation of style, but the style of negation.
This aphorism is a détournement of Barthes' work, Writing Degree Zero. Barthes, at the time of writing WDZ, was against the use of conventional literary tropes and socially instituted forms of writing. He wanted to negate style and find an unmarked language, degree zero, that had no attached values to words. Debord disagrees and the very fact that he's making his point through a détournement illustrates how form and content can both express an idea. Debord and the other members of the Situationist International would often use the slogans of capitalism against itself. By stripping the old meaning of a slogan and giving it a new one, it devalued the slogan itself, a practice the SI carried out in the artistic realm as well.