from Guy Debord

To Branko Vucicovic
24 December 1966
Dear Sir:

Believe that the long-forgotten mailing of the journals, like the late character of my current response to your last letter, must be attributed to a certain disorder that isn't rare in this aspect of our activities, and not to a lack of ostentatious eagerness that aims at you personally. I also send you a recent pamphlet[1] that perhaps you haven't received.

According to the impression that remains with me after our first exchange of letters, it seems to me that the disagreements expressed between us have so far been slight. However, there are others! So as to specify several points on which your letter raises the principal objections, I will say:

The situationists do not hope to make it believed that they are "supermen." They have estimated that their most urgent communal task is to make a theoretical analysis of modern society, without becoming distressed by the results of this analysis (and without forgetting them too much in practice). This analysis obviously aims for a split society. One doesn't at all claim to have effectuated it from a position mythically exterior to this society.

I am rather happy that you speak of our "unmerciful" attitude. This is definitely what we want and what is necessary, vis-a-vis so many of the stupidly mendacious vulgarities that the mass of intellectuals accept with delight or resignation. But I only deny that we are part of the world of "doctrinaires." And no longer "inquisitors": what we denounce is proudly displayed everywhere!

Your idea that we might inspire a secret sympathy for "such a dumb fascist" seems to me too arbitrary to be denied seriously. Since this sympathy would be secret, how can it be understood? A still more mysterious element would be that one doesn't know what, according to you, a smart fascist and his fine perspectives would be.

Why do we fear literature? Or the House of Austria? On the other hand, by admitting that we already figure in literature, under the chapter of "imprecation," you suppose that the entirety of this unresolved question is answered by your precise thesis.

Obviously, I can not respond to this aspect of the problem: would I be what you call a "true artist"? On the one hand, if one looks at the position of the SI on the impossibility of maintaining the old function of the artist, it is obvious that the response would be "no" (because even if this thesis was historically false, I have taken it seriously and it is thus an objective factor for me). On the other hand, if one speaks of certain abilities, which were formerly deployed in art and which we certainly want to put back into play, it surely isn't for me to undertake to reassure you without providing proof.

We haven't made an identification (which isn't an equation, but the result of a process) between art and religion, but between the spectacle without art and the impoverished inheritance of religion. We do not "want" to suppress art; we say that its historic conditions have in fact already disappeared. The question is thus: will the form of human activity that follows it be better or worse?

It is obviously not a question of revolutionarily suppressing sadness or death, but knowing them in other conditions.

As for your remarks on number 10 [of Internationale Situationniste] -- we now pass to the praises -- it seems to me that you have good reason to critique the brutal end of the Spanish text,[2] for example. We have been manifestly carried away by the flavor of the illustration for this page. Concerning the difference between rich and poor tourists in Spain, we have certainly not tried to make moral gradations in "the excusable." We have re-launched an old banality: some are rich and relatively few; the others are still poor.

You will surely read the [situationist] Dictionary one day and, in general, almost all of what we have announced. But I cannot guarantee the precise dates for you. The demonstration of the existence of an exploiting class in Russia no longer appears necessary to me, after twenty-five years of theoretical work that stretches from Anton Ciliga[3] to the journal Socialisme ou Barbarie.

If the Yugoslavian attempts of which you speak condemn the self-management that officially exists in this country, it is perhaps for the same reason that the SI condemns the avant-garde filmmaker [Jean-Luc] Godard: because this isn't [really] self-management, this isn't [really] an avant-garde fillmaker.

Guy Debord

[1] On the Poverty of Student Life.

[2] "Contribution to the program of Workers Councils in Spain," cf. I.S. #10, p. 27-32.

[3] Anton Ciliga, Croatian communist, author of In the Country of the Great Life (1938) and Siberia, Land of Exile and Industrialization (1950), published together in 1977 (Editions Champ Libre) under the title Ten Years in the Country of the Disconcerting Lie.

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

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