from Guy Debord

To the Italian section of the SI
Saturday 20 September [1969]
Dear friends:

We just received the two packages of five copies of I.S. [Internazionale Situazionista] #1. Moreover, the Minister of the Interior has authorized its entry into French territory; and we will thus get back the package of forty copies confiscated at Orly.

Yesterday, I sent you three copies of I.S. [Internationale Situationniste] #12, which has just come from the printer. At best, we can only distribute four or five thousand copies before our departure [for the Venice conference] (Wednesday). The printer has been sluggish and has accumulated delays. The rest upon our return; that is, if there isn't a seizure [by the French police]. But we judge this to be less probable. Beyond the reassuring symptom of the authorization of the Italian journal, we think that the authorities are looking to create several problems for us at a moment in which there is relative calm.

But, for the last dozen days, the period has completely ceased to be calm. The united unions have barely succeded in stopping the railroad workers' strike (launched by the base, but followed by the unionists) by quickly grabbing several concessions from the government -- a quite small "Grenelle accord," as far as appeasement goes -- the same day that the subway workers started a wildcat strike. A part of the workers wanted to continue [the strike], and the unions needed close to two days to get everyone in the S.N.C.F. to go back to work. The subway strike has spread to half of the bus workers in Paris, and now the postal workers, electricians and others have announced strikes. The entire dominant class is obsessed with the possibility of a "new May [1968]." Seguy,[1] even more anguished, has made a few somewhat threatening declarations concerning the power "used in May," which is going to be used even more by the current movements, and on the seven-year mandate of Pompidou, who will without doubt not finish his term. Big effect on public opinion, although he softened his remarks starting the next day! Obviously, he can only put the screws on, so as to maintain his position, by breaking the wildcat strike; but his game is less easy to play than it was before May. There is now a strong independent current in the base; the game has become triangulated between the government, the unions and the workers (at the same time, the wildcat strike is paying off, because the unions can only stop it by grabbing several small advantages obtained by their negotiations, which must then be "approved" by the strikers). Without doubt, the Stalinists will not recommence the total obstruction they put up at the beginning of May 1968. It is necessary for them to bear in mind the experience acquired by the workers, the results of which are now beginning to be seen. One can forsee that our [French] Stalinists will partially evolve towards the style of their Italian homologues.

We hope to arrive in Venice before the strike against the Italian trains. I still have not read Buchet's book.[2] But one tells me that it speaks of me, Raoul [Vaneigem] and Michele Bernstein. So!

Two Americans have already arrived in Paris. We expect the others. I suppose that the two Scandanavians will go directly to Venice. That cretin Sylvain also wrote us two letters, trying to soften his avowals concerning Sigiani.[3] He must now have received our communal response.[4] It's over.

The letter to Prima Intern.[5] is very clear. We wish them to understand it quickly.

"The friend of the Asian"[6] writes in a very clear French. But the De Donato affair doesn't look good. I do not think that it would be good if I (or Raoul) telephone De Donato to set up a meeting. There is too great a chance that he will know what the tone of the meeting will be; and nothing would be easier for him than to escape from it. Thus, he would have the satisfaction of knowing that we made a vain move against him, and he will therefore be less fearful. It will be necessary to come up with an efficacious plan in Venice.

See you very soon,

P.S. The appearance, this month, of wildcat strikes in Germany is also a very important phenomenon: when one knows the old attitude of German workers, one can see this as a decisive step: one no longer has to wait for the American workers; because those of Germany are exactly the closest in relation to the USA style. With recent developments, at the moment at which I.S. #12 comes out, the fact that May was "the beginning of an era" can be recognized by many more people than two months ago.

[1] George Seguy, member of the Political Bureau of the P.C.F. [Parti Communiste de France] from 1956 to 1982 and Secretary of the C.G.T. [Confederation Generaux de Travailleurs] from 1967 to 1982.

[2] The Authors of My Life, or My Life as an Editor, by Edmond Buchet.

[3]Marco Maria Sigiani, cf. letter of 16 April 1969 to Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[4] Under the form of a post-script added to a letter anouncing a break, dated 5 September [1969], emanating from the Italians.

[5] Letter of insult sent to the editors of Prima Internazionale on 10 September 1969.

[6] Claudio Pavan. [The Asian is Alice Becker-Ho.]

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

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