from Guy Debord

To Jaap Kloosterman
12 May 1981
Dear Jaap:

Yesterday I sent you Els' postface,[1] which is exactly what it should be.

Have have forgotten the origin of the palindrome title,[2] if I ever knew it. The Baroque era? I am left with the idea that many palindromes were produced in the Middle Ages, in the monasteries: legend assures us that many authors went crazy before finishing their work. But this one was successful.

Your description of the unfortunate evolution of Arthur Lehning, developing the facts and their meanings together, is as beautiful and convincing as The 18th Brumaire of Louis B[onaparte]. I can imagine the consternation of Maria[3] when she hears some blasphemy concerning her dogma and her idols. Thus I believe that we can conclude that, Bakunin and us, we have emerged victorious from this adventure? As for Lehning, his idea of selling Holland to France is properly Napoleonic!

Voyer[4] is semi-crazy, but cunning. Through opportunism, although always without success, he plays at being crazy the way he plays at being a theoretician. The last word of universal history would be that Voyer was masperized,[5] and we know how![6] One can only masperize that which merits it, and thus the merit of Voyer has been demonstrated. And what proves that Voyer brings to the market the novel -- and the most changing -- thought is the idea that he was masperized by and only by the jealous owners of the most advanced of the earlier "orthodoxies," the Marxo-situationist one. One quite recognizes here "the revolutionary publisher" Lebovici, and my complicity is not doubtful, since Champ Libre published my translation of a Spanish poet of the 15th Century and, moreover, one can easily conceive my interest in making disappear an absolutely new thinker whose unbearable brilliance relegates me to a place among the utopians of the previous century. Thus ends "peaceful situationism"[7] and my famous authority among our [government] ministers (which even now is increasing).

I am ready to believe that the cretins who take Voyer seriously will see the Marxo-situationist orthodoxy of Lebovici traced in bloody letters in his catalogue, by the publication of Dejacque, Clausewitz, Cieszkowski, Bakunin, Cloots, Junius and the "Incontrolado." But, for my part, I was only a situationist from 1957 to 1972, when the SI existed (cf. I.S. #4, p. 33). I rarely saw "situationism" proclaim itself within the SI: it was always against me, but each time it was very quickly extinguished. Finally, I have never been known as "peaceful," either before, during or after the SI. On the contrary, I find the Parisians of today -- those who are interested in the pseudo-problems posed by Voyer -- to be extraordinarily peaceful with respect to this swindler, who mocks them so openly.

Your critique of the pamphlet by Jaime Semprun[8] is very just: I also think that it is still the best one can read on the subject of Poland. The many faults come from a single source. When Semprun defends a revolution, he says what it really is and what it has done, and he denounces with a talented anger the commentaries of all the spectators who, diversely, are deceived or who lie. But one can say that he is indifferent to what might happen, to the chances for victory or defeat and how these results might present themselves, in order of probability according to which this or that might or might not take place: in brief, that which really interests the people who are active in that revolution. One knows that the Polish Revolution has pleased Semprun and that, whatever happens, what has already happened is always better than nothing. He wrote in a similar fashion about the Portuguese Revolution[9] and, especially after its end, he only judged matters provisionally. Of course, over a certain length of time, everything is provisional, but the people engaged in a conflict do not judge from such Heraclitean heights. I do not know if Semprun will ever make progress where such strategic questions are concerned. It is because current revolutions and counter-revolutions are so slow that they leave Semprun the time to write about what they were at the beginning and to publish his writing before they become a victory or a defeat. Semprun is more at ease in writings such as The Nuclearization of the World.[10] There are also weaknesses in this book, but they are fewer and less serious: because the ridiculous and terrible poverty of the politics of [the opposition to] nuclear power plants, if they are truly not a static affair, at least they present themselves as such, and they want to present themselves as a slow, long-term process, in the image of nearly all cases of radiation. Thus Semprun can parry with certainty and expect to see what he predicts with assurance.

After the Segovian coup,[11] one continues in general conditions that, for the moment, clearly turn towards the worse. It is clear that the democracy of Suarez does not have a future: outside of a vast sector of indifferent inactivity, it can only hope for the support of the political cadres, immensely multiplied by the regional "autonomies" and, indistinctly, the "artistic"-journalistic cadres, which develop as quickly as possible so as to recapture the level that one sees in the Common Market. They love the Suarez regime and are joyoulsy deluded about "the King," but these cadres are not a force, because almost no one follows them and, moreover, when someone does follow them, their trade consists in hiring them. As Suarez's epitaph, one might say that such a destiny for Spain was not acceptable for [General] Tejero nor for us. The necessary "destabilization" has come (it certainly no longer threatens [to come], as one still hears). Obviously, to judge all this, historical coldness is a little more difficult for me than in the case of Poland. I have not known any Poles for a long time, whereas in Spain the lives of my friends hang in the balance.

I would also like to tell you that one must, in my opinion, hope that someone who has your knowledge and talents can very soon give us a book that treats the current questions (even if you yourself have deployed an irreplaceable activity where past books have been concerned).

You can write me in Arles until 10 June (that is to say, if the letter reaches me before this date). Afterwards: in Champot. This is a lost place at the foot of the Auvergne, in the Haute-Loire region. The letters that arrive here -- there is only a single letter carrier for 2km, but almost no residents -- follow me to Arles, but I am not sure that the reverse is true, given the shambles that the post office in Arles is in. Not that it is in the hands of wildcat letter carriers, but privileged Stalinist unionists who keep themselves within the norms of ordinary productivity of the bureaucratic powers.

If, during the summer, Els and you come south, we would be happy if you could stay for several days at Champot.

Best wishes from Alice and me.
Guy

P.S. I think that you have received from Gerard a series of four letters exchanged between Gianfranco [Sanguinetti] and me during the spring of 1978, concerning the Moro Affair.[12] They make an overwhelming document.


[1] Postface to the Dutch translation of the book by Gianfranco Sanguinetti, "Del terrorismo e dello Stato," by Els van Daele, reproduced in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance vol. 2, pp. 118-124.

[2] In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

[3] Maria Hunink.

[4] Jean-Pierre Voyer.

[5] Translator's note: adjectivization of the name Editions Maspero, which developed a reputation for "bowlderizing" the texts it published.

[6] Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance vol. 1, pp. 167-185.

[7] Allusion to the title of a work that Jean-Pierre Voyer would publish: The End of Peaceful Situationism.

[8] "Considerations on the current state of Poland," L'Assommoir #4, January 1981.

[9] The Social War in Portugal.

[10] Published in March 1980 by Editions de L'Assommoir and reprinted by Editions Gerard Lebovici in 1986.

[11] Translator's note: the release of libertarian prisoners from the prison in Segovia at the end of 1980.

[12] Translator's note: see especially letter dated 21 April 1978.


(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 6: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)




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