from Guy Debord

To Edouard Taube[1]
17 October 1964

-- It is important that E[douard] makes a critique of the S[ituationist] I[nternational] (not only to see what he disapproves of, [but also] to eliminate superficial misunderstandings and to see what we can gain from honest confrontation on our divergences). Especially in order that we know what E[douard] approves of in the theoretical work of the SI and thus what he takes away practically, what he "integrates into his praxis"! (Currently, his diffusion of the [ideas of the] SI has something unclear about it, as he thoroughly utilizes the placing between parentheses of "artistic bizarreness" -- which can have a provisional sociological truth, in so far as the "rev[olutionary] org[anization]" that it represents hasn't taken a position on these problems, but which isn't really a permanent specialization that the SI can accept).

-- Likewise, it is important that E[douard] makes a complete critique of S[ocialisme] ou B[arbarie], not only to show the point at which they are and become deceived, but also to appropriate all of its richness, to explicitly carry it even further. Currently, E[douard] manifests an insolent schematicism, which is allied with the workerist activism of Valois -- and which proclaims triumph with respect to the political defects of their tendency in the last few months (by an "overcompensation" thanks to proclaimed organizational "gimmicks").

-- E[douard]'s group urgently must publish these texts.

-- Make exactly known his position and at first on their conception of the organization (where there are suspect things: demo[cratic] centralism and its "management" of the [proletarian] class. It is just to reject the Party as representative and passive instrument -- bad instrument -- but "management" is hollow. Towards "compass"? The a[vant]-g[arde] concept, doesn't it agree with compass and examples in acts?).

-- We are extremely opposed to "conspiratorial contempt," which is manifest in the fact of not being preoccupied with making known and explicating their break with S. ou B. to the "a[vant]-g[arde] readers" (this explains itself perhaps by their haste, which is a timid flight from a massive confrontation with S. ou B.'s themes; and this also helps explain the loss of the minimum "richness" of the Social-Barbarian problematic -- which they reduce to 2 texts and several scattered phrases). The subterranean side -- which goes towards worker action and justifies itself by it -- augurs poorly for internal democracy and even more [poorly] for authentic "honest" connections between this avant-garde and the [proletarian] class.

-- More generally, E[douard] and his group still ignore and want to ignore a number of the most profound (and most explosive) givens of the problem today: all that the rev[olutionary] movement, as solution and as coherence, must take charge of (from Reich to SI urbanism!) On this last point, the interest of seeing the response to the first point raised here (cultural critique).

-- Ignorance of the new conditions (why hasn't there been a rev[olutionary] org[anization] for such a long time?) as conditions for praxis (the propaganda of every action: how to make the alternative appear?) They say, "by action." They tend to mystically reduce action to the moment when "their" workers appear menacing in the factories. If they arrive at that point, then they must seriously pose general theoretical problems! They do not understand the modern conditions of repression (here all my work on S[ociety] of the S[pectacle]). An example of this is their guilty indifference to the struggle against S. ou B.

-- the SI is an organized and disciplined group. At a certain level, profoundly theoretical. No hesitant individuals or intellectuals integrated into society and "flirting" with revolutionaries. Resolved to cooperate in the formation of a rev[olutionary] org[anization] (in which we situate the vital minimum of formation, in comparison with E[douard], more difficult and by far.) We have or will have contact with all groups that appear to us capable of working toward such a formation -- E[douard]'s group hasn't had to complain of our position with respect to previous contact with him -- (one can say: not 2 groups in France, but our group is itself international) as long as they and we believe the dialogue is possible and useful. Obviously, in a more developed stage of the next international revolutionary movement, this autonomy can lose its meaning (at first because the problems and the practical activities with which we experiment will be effectively taken charge of by this movement).

The task is the creation of an international rev[olutionary] org[anization] (from whence not only the importance of the anti-Barjot [Cornelius Castoriadis] struggle in England and Italy, but also the necessity of publishing and translating texts -- to correspond (practical role of the SI at this level). No current of the workers' movement has ever begun otherwise than around a journal (more rarely a newspaper). If you estimate that this law has changed, tell how and why.

The necessity of carrying the struggle to the crit[ique] of e[veryday] l[ife] (not to "militate 24 hours a day" in denying private life -- but to carry rev[olutionary] critique to its supercession in private life), what has rendered the sit[uationist]s who have not encountered anyone without immediate reference to this judgment. From whence "exclusion," but especially total personal breaks (more often even before personal contacts [have been made]), which are the dev[elopment] of the "class consciousness" that is necessary to encourage among prole[tarian]s (and that there isn't another way -- that this criteria of liberated e[veryday] l[ife] or what consciously tends towards its liberation -- in order that the workers really become responsible, massively, and then capable of rectifying any and all errors of organization and all resurgences of old power in a new bureaucracy).

They reduce (ridiculously enough) the action of the rev[olutionary] org[anization] to a good theory of the organization [2] plus good choice of militants plus liaison with the [proletarian] class. This is just, but not sufficient. They see the being of the proletariat. They justly see that the absence of a revolutionary alternative is the principle condition/modality of existence of this prol[etariat] today. Nevertheless, at the same time they neglect the other modalities and the explication of them!

Methodologically, the center of revolutionary dialectical thought is the concept of the totality. One can't reduce the development of the class consciousness of the proletariat to the awakening of the possibility and necessity of a rev[olutionary] org[anization] (no more as a "technical" question, but as a fundamentally political question). The critique of all aspects of the current world is the minimum self-education of the proletariat.

[Guy Debord]

[1] Summary of a letter "For and concerning Edouard [Taube] -- after our conversation of 16 October [1964].

[2] This phrase marked by an arrow.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2005.)

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