from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
18 September 1978
Dear Paolo:

I was happy to read your letter of 2 September: given the general circumstances at the moment, I was worried when I did not receive news from you.

I was also very happy with your analysis of the [Aldo] Moro affair. It suffices that this said, so that no one can support another hypothesis with the least appearance of logic. As this analysis is already quite rich, I will make precise these two nuances:

1) The most profound question is, indeed, that of the management of society in the era of the contested spectacle. And this is a worldwide affair, in which Italy finds itself in the avant-garde, but it is not alone in this. For example, just about everywhere there is an extraordinary progress of the lie of power, which goes even further than Goebbels, because the socio-material conditions of the reception of the lie have evolved since 1930. I consider the assassination of Baader[1] to be a very significant turning point. The dazzling absurdity of the "governmental truth" -- this time -- is not a fault in the execution of the operation. I think that the intention was to register on such a basis the formal accord of everyone (that is to say, all those who can speak in the spectacle) with this purely unbelievable version of the facts, but which must be registered just the same. Thus, one openly measures the engagement in the program (the most trivial reality that has become perfectly inverted) of the authorities that affirm themselves to be democratic (Giscard d'Estaing) and also the definitive cowardice of all of the marginals whose opinions one wants to cite (Cohn-Bendit). In this case, the strategy that commanded the Moro affair has its recognized place, and is certainly sustained, in an international struggle, although there is no doubt a real Italian "Censor"[2] who played this card, and not the CIA or the German [secret] services.

2) When I say that the Italian Stalinists are accomplices [in the murder of Moro], I do not believe that they themselves participate in pseudo-terrorism. They are accomplices, all the same, at the same time that they are victims, in that they do not want to really denounce pseudo-terrorism, because there are -- being what they are and what they have become -- inconveniences in denouncing it and advantages in not doing so. Nevertheless, one of the principal elements of their own game is exactly the threat of denouncing all of it, if one goes too far against them: from whence comes their terrifying allusions at certain moments. You have sent me several very remarkable quotations of their threats from 4-5 May [1978]. At that time, I had only seen a quotation of four or five words in the French press. And soon after I concluded that "now Moro will die." Because it was clear that the Stalinists had, from the beginning, accepted the necessity of Moro's death, but suffered enormously from the blackmail that was prolonged the entire time that he was condemned but not executed. By making such threats, the Stalinists immediately made the enemy realize that it had reached "the culminating point of the offensive." This type of allusion is exactly comparable to nuclear "dissuasion" in the pseudo-war of our epoch: all are de facto allies and none want to nor can actually start a conflict, and simultaneously the attitudes of each of the allies are still slightly hostile and often very hostile on several points, so that -- every time that it is necessary to do so -- each ally saves itself by issuing the reminder that it is not permitted to push too far an advantage without seeing all of the rules of the game collapse, to the absolute detriment of all the associated powers. Consider as well how the current state of the world, surrounded by lies that change from one day to the next, permits this: in 1870, a war began because someone did not receive an ambassador with politeness. Today, after being [continuously] threatened with total destruction, one continues to be linked through commerce and the police. Likewise, in a political party such as that of Lenin, one could only hold on to one's militants after having said what the PCI[3] said at the beginning of May; fortunately for it, it no longer has militants but "vitelloni spettatori."[4] This is also its misfortune.

Do you think that the text that you sent me could be the basis for a book, which would have great importance, even if it were quite short? It would bring together a complete explication of this [Moro] affair, officially so mysterious, with the very theory that explains it. The revolution expounding its most advanced theory by showing that it alone can clearly write the history of its adversaries -- this is the method of The Class Struggles in France/The 18th Brumaire,[5] and nothing so striking has been attempted in this genre in our epoch. I am convinced that no Italian publisher would want it, but Champ Libre could publish it in French and, based on this, there would surely be a pirate edition in Italy.

Can you come see me, for four or five days, around 20 October? I am in the mountains of Auvergne, but I must leave here to take several short trips. Write to this address.

Tell me if you are thinking of coming by train or by car and, accordingly I will explain the route to follow.

Best wishes. Transmit them to Elvio, etc.

P.S. The last "leader" of the B.R.s[6] to be arrested does not fit the image of a skillful practitioner of clandestinity: he lived in the midst of an arsenal and a stack of documents; one says that he was a "model worker" up to 1974; he had a permit for military conduct, as well as police entry-permits!

Anarcharsis Cloots,[7] a Prussian baron, was the most extreme man in the bourgeois revolution in France. An internationalist who wanted to exterminate all the tyrants as far away as China and to make Paris the capital of the world; "the personal enemy of Jesus Christ," etc. Such historical contradictions, which he could not see, caused him to be guillotined by Robespierre insofar as he "exaggerated" and was probably "an agent of the Mikado and Wall Street" (back then one said "Pitt and Cobourg"). He was systematically forgotten by the historians, but only for less than two centuries. I will ask Champ Libre to send you the book [that it published]. Perhaps it can be translated into Italian.

I do not know who Michael Borgia is (anything is possible where [Raoul] Vaneigem is concerned), but until now I only knew the misery detective stories that he has written with [Mustapha] Khayati, in the manner of the "Black Series," published by Lattes, etc., under the pseudonyms Bastid and Martens.

[1] Translator's note: Andreas Baader, one of the leaders of the German group "The Red Army Factor," was shot to death while in prison during the night of 18 October 1977.

[2] Translator's note: that is to say, a "Machiavellian" industrialist and/or political leader.

[3] Translator's note: Italian Communist Party.

[4] "Lazy spectators."

[5] The Class Struggles in France (1850) and The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon (1852) by Karl Marx.

[6] Translator's note: The Red Brigades.

[7] Translator's note: The following two points seem to have been made in answer to specific questions that Salvadori asked.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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