from Guy Debord

To Tony Verlaan
Copy to Robert Chasse
Wednesday, 24 April 1968
Dear Tony:

Bravo for your activities on the Pacific Coast [of the USA].

Concerning your meeting with Chris [Gray] and Donald [Nicholson-Smith], we suppose that -- although you do not say so explicitly in your letter -- you are quite aware of the lying, ridiculous, unacceptable character of the most recent fabrications by these poor people. This manner of wanting to transform -- a posteriori -- the reality of a precise opposition is exactly like that of Ben Morea.[1]

The English comrades completely had the right to deceive themselves (even concerning Robert and you, even concerning Raoul [Vaneigem]). It certainly was a mistake (which they only seem to confess today) not to expose -- amongst ourselves -- all of their errors. But it was immediateky unacceptable that their errors manifested themselves publically -- against the SI, against you and against their own formal engagements -- by writing once too much to Morea and Bookchin.[2]

After that, "the ultimatum" wasn't just Guy's, but all of ours (this was already very generous on our part).

In London, after having acted as is they'd accepted this ultimatum, they refused it the next day. Thus it was definitive, and Raoul and Rene [Vienet] made them know it clearly. At that moment, they completely accepted the break. Their new lies, now that they have confessed their old lies, haven't been examined by us for [even] a minute.

On the other hand, it is true that they subsequently asked for a meeting with us, so as to discuss several practical modalities of the declared break (questions of books, films, an apartment [in Paris] to be rented, translations to perhaps be continued). It is even possible that, at that moment, they wanted to envision other problems, which would be more glorious for them (always like Morea!). But we have considered that a discussion, even on these practical questions, with the people whose bad faith Raoul and Rene have proven, would be superfluous.

Since then, Chris has written to us to ask if he could continue to translate [Vaneigem's] Treatise [on Living for the Younger Generations]. We responded that we would only accept if he specified for us his current positions. He kept silence, because it it obviously easier to verbally lie to you than it is by writing to us.

We have never varied on this question: any membership in the SI implies the recognition of the justness of all of our preceding exclusions. We cannot discuss with anyone who isn't in agreement on this point.

We suppose that you are in agreement, except if you make the contrary be known.

Enclosed is a first draft of a text written for the general discussion on organization.

[Guy] Debord, [Mustapha] Kahayati, [Raoul] Vaniegem, [Rene] Vienet

The question of organization for the SI[3]

1. Up until now, everything for which the SI has been known belongs to a period that is fortunately over (more precisely, it can be said that this was the "second period," if the activity that centered around the supersession of art from 1957 to 1962 is counted as the first).

2. The new revolutionary tendencies of current society, however weak and confused they may still be, are no longer restricted to a clandestine margin: this year they are appearing in the street.

3. Parallel to this, the SI has emerged from silence, and in strategic terms it must now exploit this opening. The vogue that the term "situationist" has achieved here and there cannot be prevented. We must act in such a way that this (normal) phenomenon serves us more than it hurts us. To me, "what serves us" is indistinguishable from what serves to unify and radicalize scattered struggles. This is the SI's task as an organization. Beyond this, the term "situationist" could be used to vaguely designate a certain period of critical thought (and it is already quite good to have inaugurated this), but where each one is only engaged by what he does personally, without any reference to an organizational community. But as long as such a community exists, it will have to succeed in distinguishing itself from whoever talks about it without being [a part of] it.

4. Concerning the tasks on which we already recognized each other previously, it can be said that we must currently place the accent less on theoretical elaboration, which is to be continued, and more on its communication: essentially, the accent must be on our practical relationship with what appears (by quickly increasing our possibilities for intervention, critique and exemplary support).

5. The movement that is beginning poorly is the beginning of our victory (in other words, the victory of what we have been supporting and pointing out for many years). But we must not "capitalize" on this victory (because every affirmation of a moment of the revolutionary critique already calls for -- on its own level -- the requirement that every advanced, coherent organization must know how to lose itself in revolutionary society). In the current and the forthcoming subversive currents, there will be much to criticize. It would be inelegant if we were to make this necessary critique while leaving the SI above it all.

6. The SI must now prove its efficiency in a subsequent stage of revolutionary activity -- or else disappear.

7. In order to have the possibility of attaining this efficacity, we must recognize and state several truths about the SI that were obviously true prior to this; but, in the current stage, in which "the truth is verifying itself," it has become urgent to make them precise.

8. Since we have never considered the SI to be a goal in itself, but as a moment of historical activity, the force of things now leads us to prove it. The "coherence" of the SI is the relationship, tending towards coherence, between all of our formulated theses, between them and our action; as well as our solidarity on many, but not all, of the questions about which each of us must engage the responsibility of others. This coherence cannot be mastery that is guaranteed to just anyone, who would then be reputed to have acquired our theoretical bases so well that he [sic] would automatically draw an unquestionably proper conduct from them. This coherence cannot be a demand for (still less the recognition of) an equal excellence of everyone on all questions or operations.

9. Coherence is acquired and verified by egalitarian participation in the totality of a common practice, which simultaneously reveals mistakes and provides remedies -- this practice requires formal meetings to arrive at decisions, the transmission of all information and the examination of all proven failures.

10. Currently, this practice demands more participants in the SI, taken from among those who affirm their accord and show their capacities. The small number of members, very unjustly selected up until now, has been the cause and the consequence of a ridiculous over-estimation "officially" accorded to all the members of the SI simply by virtue of that fact, when many of them had in no way given proof of any real capacities (i.e., the exclusions that have occurred in the last year, of the Garnautins[4] and the Englishmen[5]). Such a pseudo-qualitative numerical limitation exaggeratedly increases the importance of each particular stupidity while stirring it up at the same time.

11. Externally, a direct product of this selective illusion has been the mythological recognition of autonomous pseudo-groups, gloriously located at the level of the SI, whereas they were merely feeble-minded admirers (and thus were, to be brief, dishonest detractors as well). It seems to me that we cannot recognize any autonomous group unless it is engaged in autonomous practical work, nor can we recognize the lasting success of such a group unless it is engaged in united action with the workers (without of course having such action fall below our "minimum definition of revolutionary organizations").[6] All kinds of recent experiences have shown the recuperated confusionism of the term "anarchist,"[7] and it seems to me that we must oppose this confusionism everywhere.

12. I estimate that it is necessary to accept the possibility of tendencies in the SI that concern diverse preoccupations or tactical options, on the condition that our general bases are not put into question. Likewise, we must advance toward a complete practical autonomy of the national groups, to the extent that they will be really able to constitute themselves.

13. Contrary to the habits of the excluded people[8] who, in 1966, claimed to have attained (inactively) a total realization of transparency and friendship in the SI (it was almost embarrassing to judge their boring company), and who, as a corollary, developed the most idiotic jealousies, lies unworthy of grammar school kids and conspiracies as ignominious as they were irrational, we must only admit historical relationships among us (a critical trust, the knowledge of each member's possibilities or limits), but on the basis of the fundamental loyalty demanded by the revolutionary project that has been defining itself for over a century.

14. We have no right to deceive ourselves in breaking with people. We must still deceive ourselves in matters of adhesion -- more or less frequently: exclusions have almost never marked any theoretical progress of the SI (on such occasions, we have not discovered a more precise definition of what is unacceptable -- the surprising thing about Garnautism is precisely linked to the fact that it was an exception to this rule). Exclusions have almost always been responses to objective pressures that existing conditions reserved for our action: thus, we run the risk of having this reproduce itself on higher levels. All kinds of "Nashisms"[9] could reconstitute themselves: the only question is whether we are in a position to destroy them.

15. To accord the form of this debate to what I believe to be its content, I propose that this text be communicated to certain comrades close to the SI or capable of taking part in it,[10] and that we solicit their opinions on this question.

Guy Debord

[1] Translator: Ben Morea was the publisher of Black Mask, New York City, November 1966. In New York City as a delegate of the SI, Raoul Vaneiegm refused to meet with him.

[2] Translator: Murray Bookckin was ex-Trotskyist become neo-anarchist. In New York City, Vaneiegm also refused to meet with him.

[3] Published in I.S. #12 [September 1969], p. 112-113.

[4] Translator: See the letter dated 15 January 1967.

[5] Translator: See the letter dated 21 December 1967.

[6] Translator: See the letter dated 1 August 1966.

[7] Translator: See the texts concerning the Anarchist Federation.

[8] Translator: Theo Frey, Jean Garnault and Herbert Holl: the so-called Garnautins.

[9] Translator: Named after Jorgen Nash, who, in February and March 1962, led a protest in the SI against the exclusion of the Spurists. This protest also included Ansgar Elde, Steffan Larsson, Katja Lindell, Jorgen Nash, Hardy Strid and Jacqueline de Jong, many of whom either helped found the "Second" Situationist International or contributed to The Situationist Times.

[10] Translator: People like Rene Riesel, Christian Sebastiani, Yves Chotard, Jacques Le Glou, Pierre Lepetit. . . .

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 3, 1965-1968. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! September 2005.)

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