from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
21 April 1978

Ever since the bombing of Milan [on 12 December 1969], the "Red Brigades" have made constant progress in raising of stakes -- Moro[1] is not Calabresi[2] -- but not in their methods: they have always killed efficiently, but their exploitation of these actions suffers from the same poor and illogical staging, full of hesitations and contradictions.

The leftists, who are stupid in both their intentions and their strategy, are in no way able to operate by themselves in this manner. First of all, if they weren't followed, they would need to act very quickly after the kidnapping (because of the possibilities that they were already infiltrated or would one day find themselves denounced at some level, if they did something stupid or encountered bad luck, this will be evident at least to one of them). Immediately, they would clearly and with the most urgent insistance demand something [in exchange for Moro]: either the liberation of political prisoners (as in the case of Baader), the dissemination of their propaganda or what they have learned from Moro's extracted confessions of certain recent practices by the Christian-Democratic, semi-Stalinist State. But they are naturally indifferent to the fate of those accused in Turin; they have no discernible ideas; they don't want to compromise State personnel, who moreover have shown no fear of this happening.

I suppose that the intelligence of the Italian people, who don't express themselves in the mass media, have in large part understood all this. From whence comes the diverse responses of the last few days. Moro will be "suicided" so as to give the impression that a terrorist style has been translated from the German (and then his body will be found in a lake[3] that will, as it happens, contain another body, but then there will be a correction -- because one must have been dreaming to think such a simple coincidence was strange -- that says the aforementioned body was found elsewhere, and that the information concerning these incidents came from remote areas that are more accessible to the carabinieri than urban terrorists). In Hollywood movies, one says: "Cut! Re-do the scene, it lacks naturalism." Then Moro wasn't "suicided" anymore, and they now want a short postponement. Etc etc.

This affair is evidently staged by the enemies of the "Historic Compromise"[4], not by revolutionary enemies [of the State]. The leftists are ordinarily very naive, even in Italy, where they gladly engage on these occasions in the completely theological discussions of the problems of revolutionary violence, like that chorus of children who, in their faded aestheticism of the "anarchist assassin," once believed that Oswald killed Kennedy.[5] It is thus a discussion on this model: "If God existed, would he kidnap Moro"? But couldn't one just as easily ask: "Perhaps Censor exists and has changed his politics?"

The Stalinists[6] evidently know who directed this coup against them. The fragile foundation of their politics is the idea that all of the Christian-Democrats are officially their friends. Certain friends of the Stalinists' exerted this pressue on other friends of theirs. The Stalinists say that it isn't necessary to yield: and how could they say otherwise? The omerta governs their relations to the end. But who applies this pressure, at this point? The things that are said, are coded signs of an insult that plays itself out elesewhere. Some take great risks to show that the entry of the Stalinists into the majority [coalition] won't restore order; quite the contrary. It is necessary not to forget that from the point of view of the revolution, and from the point of view of a capitalism in the manner of [Umberto] Agnelli[7], the Stalinists' participation absolutely doesn't change the nature of class society, which exists in other sectors of capitalism in which interests, which is to say, passions are completely opposed to the cost of making this change and overtly constitute a casus belli [cause for war].

The Stalinists are cruelly embarassed (Euro-Communism is already sunk, in France as in Spain). But if, today, the public is surprised by these enormities, the Stalinist chiefs, and other old anti-fascists, have seen all this and more, when they were young, in another Spain, when Andres Nin[8] was kidnapped. It is this that they say nothing about. As they once, as part of the International Brigades, defended the Spanish Republic in silence, they now defend the Italian Republic. But the Republics that they thus defend didn't last long.

The Stalinists' obligation to say nothing about diverse crimes [of the present] because they are silent on the precedents for them creates a problem that is well-known to their enemies, whose audacity is thus justified. But their silence isn't simply founded on the properly Stalinist crimes of another epoch. The Stalinists, by virtue of their silence, have also collaborated in the coup of [12 December] 1969, from which the rest has followed. Because it is the State that began terrorism [the bombing at the Piazza Fontana] in Milan (those who are invited to eat scraps from the table of the State, despite its shady antecedents, won't say aloud that the dishes are dirty), Italian politics have spiralled into apparent madness. There won't be a public "Dreyfus Affair"[9], not because the scandal is smaller, but because nobody will ever demand a true conclusion. Thus Italy, which has had a "May [1968] in slow-motion," will aggravate its disease into a "Suppressed Dreyfus Affair."

Perhaps those who decided to kidnap Moro haven't accurately calculated all of the consequences or their interactions with each other; but these people have certainly weighed them. To obtain the change they now want, they are ready for anything, and they are now objectively constrained to obtain it. Those who have staged this display, this coup, will do the worst. All of the partisans of the "Historic Compromise" are both provoked and terrorized. One already sees how they will react. If the pressure doesn't soon succeed in producing a kind of softness, a crackdown is the obligatory programme.

The experimenters who operate in Italy and begin to make it into the European laboratory for counter-revolution are accustomed to a general complicity of all those who speak, a complicity that -- pushed to this point -- gives the entire country a false aspect of general imbecility. But one well knows that there are one or two exceptions. I have known a man[10] who spent his time among the "sfacciate donne fiorentine" [immodest ladies of Florence] and who loved to keep bad company with all of the hard-drinkers of the bad neighborhoods. But he comprehended everything that went on. He demonstrated his comprehension once. One knows that he will do it again. He is, today, considered by some to be the most dangerous man in Italy.

[Signed] Calvacanti [11]

[1] Former Italian Prime Minister Aldo was kidnapped on 16 March 1978.

[2] Police Inspector Luigi Calabresi was in charge of investigating various terrorist bombings that took place in 1969, and was present when the anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli was "suicided" by police interrogators. On 17 May 1972, Calabresi himself was murdered.

[3] Here Debord refers to the bizarre events of 19 April 1978, on which the Italian Army -- prompted by a false claim attributed to the Red Brigades -- searched iced-over Lake Duchess for the body of Aldo Moro, who was in fact still alive at the time. It wasn't until 9 May 1978 that Moro was actually killed.

[4] The "Historic Compromise" was a proposal made by Aldo Moro to bring the Italian Communist Party into the ruling coalition. The "compromise" was strongly opposed by anti-communist elements in both Italy and "the international community" (NATO, the White House and the CIA).

[5] Note by Alice Debord: A thesis supported by Raoul Vaneigem in 1968.

[6] The Italian Communist Party.

[7] The president of Fiat Motors.

[8] Andres Nin was the founder of the Spanish Communist Party and later became a leader of the POUM. He was kidnapped and murdered by the Soviet Union's secret police in June 1937.

[9] Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French army, was falsely accused of passing secrets to the German government in 1894. It wasn't until 1906 that he was exonerated.

[10] Debord is referring to Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[11] Guido Calvacanti was a contemporary and close friend of Dante Alighieri, the author of The Divine Comedy.

(First published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondence, Volume II, November 1981. Reprinted in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. All footnotes by the translator, except where noted.)

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