from Guy Debord

To Attila Kotanyi and Raoul Vaneigem
Friday 22 March 1963
Dear Attila, dear Raoul:

I can not respond now to all the points called to mind by your last letters, especially the one from Attila, which was very long and had a great thematic richness. I approve of it (and particularly your conclusion on the necessity of responding to Tom Gutt: perfect). In Raoul's letter (it is older than Attila's), I only disapprove of a tendency toward "conciliation" concerning D.G.[1] and especially the utopia of "sharing relations" between Uwe [Lausen] and Paris or Brussels. I am totally sure (cf. the experiences of I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] and S.R.[2]) that a journal, even if it is crammed full of addresses of [other] journals in foreign countries or bureaus of U.U.,[3] yields only two letters to these addresses while it brings two hundred letters to its own address. One can not change these laws.

In fact, I only want to speak of Uwe and D.G. I believe that we are perfectly in agreement on Uwe (certainly in the S[ituationist] I[nternational] of January [19]62, static and unchanged since then, thus extremely retarded). I subscribe to all of Attila's judgments on Uwe's attempt to execute a more or less sub-beatnik "lazy supercession" of the SI and on his missing acts (especially the omission of manuscripts, which reminds me of Alain Girard). Thus, our goal is clear: to agree that, when it comes to all exigent operations, we must relieve Uwe of the burdens of shouldering a heavy responsibility for representing the SI and being capable of autonomous struggles of the first rank. This is more in our interest than that of Uwe. If possible, we will try to keep Uwe [as a member of the SI] -- that is, if he can be more patient and attentive, after we have stopping taking him for a hero. That is to say, if he can profit in the near future from a relative obscurity. Especially after [our experiences with] Spur, it would be crazy to give the SI "label" and our theoretical power (castrated so that Uwe experiences neither inconvenient company nor fatigue) to someone who is against theory, who is even against publishing journals, who only wants to have a journal for himself -- but without working on it, nor having to come to Antwerp (as he promised) or anywhere else!

Such a journal could serve to sell some paintings, and Kunzelmann would then be right (for the first time in his life, which would be too much).

More generally, since there has already been real juridical troubles in Munich, we can not go half-way into exile or "clandestinity." We must exploit the advantages, which is to say: not producing a foreign journal that softens its content in order to be acceptable in the D.B.R.[4] We must produce a foreign (protected) journal that can cause trouble in the D.B.R. and the D.D.R.,[5] and even in Poland, Hungary and Switzerland. Briefly: everywhere we can send it. With 1,000 or 2,000 copies, we won't need a big, commercially distributed journal, which risks interdiction in any case. We ourselves can discreetly do the distribution (in 6 or 8 months). It isn't necessary to make any dodges concerning the fact that a politically radical journal may land its editors in prison. It is only necessary to protect the editors and those responsible (as in the case of the editorial board of Etudes,[6] which, at least in this sense, is logically consistent). If we now make deletions from already published situationist translations, this would put a terrible weapon in the hands of our enemies. In fact, all those whom we have reproached over the years for their lack of clarity and for their concessions would retrospectively have good reason to highlight this fact in their struggles against us. I can't see accepting this, whatever the costs (and, of course, I am close to taking personal responsibility for all the texts supposed to be "dangerous").

Naturally, I am sure that it is possible, and that it would be much better, to write new texts for each new "zone" of the SI (bearing in mind the conditions of each country, the linguistic resonances, etc.). This will obviously be necessary with the Anglo-Americans. But here it is: to do this, it is necessary to have trustworthy and capable people, who work hard. Whereas Uwe's incapacity obliges him to limit himself, at least to start out, to making translations. At the minimum, Uwe can be -- must be -- a courageous and ready-for-anything militant. But he isn't even this (and we don't want any martyrs, of any kind); and yet, at the first Spur trial, he deplored the fact that he wasn't in trouble for the more serious theoretical motives. Suddenly the dangerous side of making translations was suddenly emphasized, when he had previously complained that making translations was tiring and, without doubt, useless! This adds up to many contradictions, on the same texts, in just three weeks. I think that this past year, Uwe's year of inaction, also has the sense of an "artistic" bourgeoisification: painting with a certain distaste; theory with even more distaste. The only consequence risks being: money (with distaste, too: always too late).

We must guard ourselves against this. And, by the same token, we must guard Uwe, if there is still time. But we have:

1) a principal objective. We must "save" the SI, which will not be able to withstand the ridicule of being unable to publish D.G. at a certain level (content, not weight). Next, we must have summary but distinct platforms for discussions in Central and Eastern Europe.

2) a secondary objective. We must "save" Uwe, who is certainly condemned to evil fuckery (neo-Spurism) if we don't sanction his attitude. We need to make him "fit into rank," as a "simple member of the C.C."[7] (it isn't bad already . . . ), who doesn't direct one of our journals. A sure test of his capacities for reflection or the degree of his idiotic pride that he has attained in his solitude. (He has only seen [J.V.] Martin several weeks out of the last year. He finds that Martin isn't quite intelligent enough for him. As Martin is indubitably intelligent enough for me -- over the course of a hundred exchanges of letter -- my conclusion is that Uwe isn't intelligent enough for me.)

In any case, our secondary objective must be subordinated to our principal objective.

Thus, here, to my mind, is the only tenable position:


Subtitle: Journal of the Situationist International for the region of Central Europe

Director: R. Vaneigem

Address: Post office box . . . Brussels, Belgium[8]

On page 3, the anti-copyright declaration but not the redaction committee (in its place, the formula "D.G. is edited by the Central Council of the SI" -- without reproducing the names of the members).

In the journal, Uwe can personally sign his article (which certainly doesn't risk getting him thrown in jail). Certain other things can be signed "the Editorial Committee" -- or by Attila under a German-Hungarian pseudonym (Hans Beimler?[9] E. Bathory?[10]) The programme of the U.U. can appear without attribution: published in the journal Internationale Situationniste #6. If you'd like to avoid too much anonymity, I myself can sign either of the editorial notes taken from the I.S. Raoul personally signs "B.B."[11] (the translation of which must, as I've said, go at least as far as the end of point #6).

Finally, don't you think that the "Formulary for a new urbanism" by Gilles Ivain, which was published [in a German translation] in Spur #5, merits being reprinted (there are within it several nearly concrete propositions from the "affective" perspective)? It would be necessary to situate its pre-situationist date (cf. I.S. #1) and only to correct several translation errors in the Spur #5 version (for example, the epigraph, in which the names of streets and mansions must remain in French, because the ludic meanings of the words were lost in the translation). I think that, if you are forced to do so, it is better to reduce the size to 24 pages -- the money gained with respect to the estimate (set for 40 pages) will perhaps permit you to make use of two or three beautiful illustrations. And these will find their places among the texts. Taking into account blank spaces, title pages, etc., even a 32-page format implies 4 or 5 "new" pages (or "lost" pages, if one prefers).

When you have finished your work -- WITHOUT COUNTING ON ANYTHING MORE FROM UWE -- that is, if you don't have a German proofreader in Brussels, send me everything quickly. I have such a German. But he can not make the ultimate re-reading. Thus there is one more good reason to work very quickly: he might leave Paris two weeks from today and can only work for us during the weekends: thus 29 March [1963] is perfect, that is, if I have received everything beforehand.

To have the address printed in D.G. #1, Raoul must immediately open a post office box in his name (plus the journal title Der Deutsche Gedanke) in Brussels. In Paris, this costs 20 or 30 Francs per year. It will suffice if he gives the key to Attila, who must be the only one truly responsible for all of our relations with Central Europe (correspondence in German and choice of the next editors!) But it seems obvious to me that, for reasons of security, Attila must not be the official director of D.G. The worst that could happen would be a diplomatic protest from the D.B.R. to Brussels. [As a Belgian national] Raoul has full rights in the country. (Concerning the post office box: you must have seen that, as part of an experiment made by Martin, a letter sent to Uwe's post office box in Munich was sent back with the note "unknown address." And so you can see where D.G. would go if it were trusted to such a beautiful specimen of the Beat Generation [as Uwe].)

For the SI organization, this means that Brussels -- capital of Europe! -- and, more modestly, Attila and Raoul, are henceforth to consider themselves in our Central European region. Attila will take charge of this region; there will be a delegate (Raoul) to the publishing house in Brussels; an advanced militant in Munich (Uwe, if he doesn't kill himself or sulk) and another in the D.D.R. (Weimar).

Our titanic activities in Western Europe will subdivide into a northern sub-sector (the Netherlands, plus Antwerp, and the journal edited by Jan [Strijbosch] and Rudi[12]) and a southwest sector (Paris and, as the Nashists say, "the Latins").

Rene,[13] who has the opportunity to stay in Peking for two years, will swing between this [southwest] group and having the perilous honor of being the pioneer of our African-Asian region.

I believe that this arrangement is functionally correct, quite practically guaranteeing us clarity and impunity, and projecting a very good image of the SI to the outside world. Finally, its greatest advantage lies in not humiliating Uwe (nor involving the least public reproach of him). Quite simply: the police pressure in the D.B.R., which he has felt more than anyone else, obliges the SI's German journal to go into exile. Since he lives in Munich, he is not in position to direct it (a word from Rene [Vienet]: "Why can't Uwe travel to Antwerp or Paris, as he foresaw last year?"). Finally, the D.G. journal isn't Munichian, nor even D.B.R. It must be Central European in a much more immediately true way than the [French] I.S. journal is supposed to be French-Italian-Spanish! We must avoid provincialization.

Because these nuances of specialization and honorific titles only have a derisory meaning among us, when all is said and done, everyone must work on everything and, according to Alex,[14] must find themselves quickly assembled in a single prison. The simple question is: "Is Uwe among us? The future will tell. But, without the debris falling down on our heads, he is worth more. Finally, consider, dear friends, the most brilliant merit of my solution, that is, if the flow of my dialectic hasn't already convinced you of it: as a result of the stage at which we have arrived with Uwe, the Germans and this unfortunate journal, there isn't another solution that resists five minutes of examination.

Cordially yours,[15]

[1] Der Deutsche Gedanke.

[2] Situationistisk Revolution.

[3] Unitary urbanism.

[4] Deutsche Bundes Republik [German Federal Republic], (formerly West Germany).

[5] Deutsche Democratik Republik [German Democratic Republic], (formerly East Germany).

[6] A publication of the Imre Nagy Institute of Political Science, in Brussels.

[7] Central Council.

[8] Written in the margin: "First page (completely in German)."

[9] Hams Beimler, German volunteer in the Thaelmann Battalion, Commissioner of the First Unit of the International Brigades, in Spain. An escapee from Dachau, he was [eventually] murdered in Madrid in 1936.

[10] Erzsebet Bathory, the Hungarian "Bloody Countess," compared to Gilles de Rais.

[11] "Basic Banalities."

[12] Rudi Renson, a situationist from the Belgian section.

[13] Rene Vienet.

[14] Alexander Trocchi.

[15] Added at the end of the letter: "Price 2 D[eutsche] Marks, plus East [German], Austrian, Swiss Francs moneys."

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

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