from Guy Debord

To Italian section of the SI in Milan
and to Mario Perniola in Rome
12 March 1969
Dear Comrades:

We have attentively read the copies of the letters exchanged between Mario and Gianfranco [Sanguinetti]. Although the discussion is only just beginning, our friends in Paris have charged me with transmitting to you several remarks on Mario's letter.

1) This discussion, which, it appears to us, must be essentially oriented around the technical problem of the SI as it exists today and not as an ideal organization in the future (but we obviously admit that such a "technical" discussion is in a certain manner inseparable from the question of revolutionary organization in its totality), has actually a tendency to drift -- somewhat by walking on its head -- towards a preliminary question of revolutionary organization in general, and even the organization of the system of [workers] councils (which is very different). As a result, the discussion is becoming a confrontation with a methodological question.

2)[1] The councils as the only power (that is to say, the access to revolutionary society) must be open: the democratic equality of the decision obviously doesn't imply the prerequisite of an equalization of the competences of all the participants. But the councils will have all power! They will decide upon an executive praxis and they will correct themselves after the practical development of the facts for which the participants will have collectively taken the responsibilities and burdens (and for which they will endure the consequences). We think that the councils will make a number of errors, and must normally surmount the immense obstacles of their own false consciousness. But we think that they will be placed in a situation that renders men intelligent (if you wish: that provides the basis for the realization of philosophy). Because the councils can not be (like the preliminary councilist organization) a grouping of individuals rendered equal by their coherent agreement (but must, on the contrary, discover coherence in the same activity that transforms the world, of which it commands the resources), Mario creates an irony when he asks, Who will the councils serve? It is simple. They will serve to expropriate private and bureaucratic capital, and will manage the revolutionary society.

3) We find that what Mario says about Marx's relations with the Hegelian dialectic is a very old error made by anti-Marxists and a crowd of bad Marxists; but it isn't our interpretation of Marx's fundamental position (which really had several merits in "radical critique"). Without wanting to refer to one of our texts as if it were a uncriticizable bible, we recall that we proposed our interpretation, completely contrary to the one made by Mario in his account, in thesis 80 of The Society of the Spectacle.

4) We are assuredly partisans of the Hegealian dialectical method (wuthout confounding it with the moral or political positions of Hegel), and not of Plato's dialectic. It isn't Plato that the history of modern revolution has "set back on its feet."

Cordially yours,

[1] Paragraph emphasized by an arrow in the margin.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972. Footnote by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2005.)

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