from Guy Debord

To Yves Le Manach[1]
Saturday 23 December 1972
Dear Yves:

I received your letter of the 18th only yesterday. I hope that this will reach you while you are still in Brussels: the comrades at the post office being more and more persuaded of the justice of our theses on the uselessness of wotk, the speed of forwarding the mail again reaches that of the XVIIIth century; inadvertantly, we have ourselves to complain to.

I will meet [Gerard] Lebovici, of Champ Libre, next Thursday (the 28th). I will speak to him of you the best I can.[2] I do not believe they attach too much importance to literary perfection, but it seems to me that you should rather give them something with which you are satisfied, to take or to leave. It isn't the role of a publisher, even the most sympathetic one, to collaborate in the expression of an author's ideas. It seems dangerous to me to place one's fingers in these gears.

I am much of your opinion on the necessity of suppressing work. But this is still only a beginning. Self-management obviously must not be a question of the self-management of the existing productive process. And the Councils have only been a weak and primitive image that, according to me, indicates the route of necessary methods for rebuilding the world. It is certain that these last two notions have been recuperated by all kinds of people. But why must modern society recuperate anew so many revolutionary questions? Is it from gaity of heart? It was certainly easier to recuperate us in the 1950s. As a result of recuperation, is not the ruling order becoming more and more sick?

I believe that our most profound divergence (before the unfortunate publication of The Sower[3]) I tried to take note of it for a public discussion in 1970) resides in the idea that it would bee necessary to depend almost totally on the pure development of automated productivity to abolish work and classes (whereas, nevertheless, the possibility of such a reconversion is of obvious importance). It seems to me that, on the one side, you are "too Marxist" and, on another side, not enough of one. Here I use a quite imprecise formula: to each his Marx, and Marx for everyone! But, with respect to the movement that accelerates under our eyes, I will make these observations:

1) In the "advanced" countries, the great mass of existing work is already useless in itself. Must it be automated so that everyone finds this out without any possible discussion?

2) Industrial development seems to me doomed to collapse under the action of three or four profound contradictions and well before half of today's operations are automated (I think that the automatization of half or three-quarters would not interest you at all).

3) Existing and currently developable automation is put in place by the specialists of the old society, according to its models and so as to maintain these models. In itself, automation can only be the conservation of current production. But very few things merit being conserved as they are. It would certainly be necessary to reconstruct the world; and each year the problem poses itself in a more precisely concrete fashion. What revolutionary society would accept the inhabitation of Sarcelles or even of what Paris has become?

4) I am not as optimistic as you are about the simplicity of the work accomplished by the technocrats, who have to make clear space, even if it is necessary to leave several heads on the scaffold. The shit in which they put us contributes to rendering them "necessary" for the prolongation of immense efforts that are necessities for their own activities and are always controlled by them. See the beautiful capitalist affair that constitutes the project of splitting apart directly productive industry and "de-polluting" industries that claim to transform the harmful by-products of the first.

But finally, all of these problems must be discussed at length in the following years. And the expression of all of their perspectives and investigations is quite necessary. It is thus necessary that your book is published.

While you are in Paris, if you can indicate an evening that you are free, I would meet you quite willingly.


[1] Translator: born in Belgium, a member of the Revolutionary Communist League and a contributor to Informations et Correspondance Ouvriere.

[2] Translator: Bye Bye Turbin was published by Champ Libre in 1973.

[3] Journal of Protestant students.

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

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