from Guy Debord

To Jean-Francois Martos
24 February 1990
Dear Comrade:

Thank you for the documents you communicated.[1] I was ignorant of many of them, especially the Benoit,[2] the most extreme of the New Philosophers. I have thus seen the beginning of the collapse of the totalitarian bureaucracy from Peking to Berlin [portrayed] as a dangerous maneuver by the skillful Gorbachev! But I have not quite grasped if he [Benoist] thinks that Gorbachev has plagiarized me, like everyone -- and perhaps Anders[3] as well, so as to not forget anyone . . . -- or if he instead insinuates that I am personally and directly his [Gorbachev's] advisor.

I attach a photocopy of almost the totality of a letter[4] that you must keep confidential and that you thus cannot cite: but you can treat what is said in it as established certitudes, with which it would be good to guide your reasoning and conduct[5] (you can see in the Comments[6] several expositions of what is called a "disinformer," in two historically distinct stages, but engendered, one from the other, from the phenomenon: a) disinformer due to impotent and envious passion -- and b) disinformer by trade).

I will explain to you several circumstances surrounding the text [the letter]. A little more than six weeks ago, by chance I encountered in the street a foreign comrade from long ago, whom I had not seen for more than ten years, without us being positively and formally "separated." We drank a glass quite quickly at the nearest cafe. He told me that he had violently broken with the Encyclopedists.[7] He defined their position as "cunningly anti-Debordist," and certainly I did not have a different opinion that could add nuances to his. He defined the milieu as being essentially and purely pro-situ, and cited as an extremely burlesque example someone named [Guy] Bernelas.[8] Later on, he provided me with many documents, although I had not hidden from him the facts that I had no need of them and certainly had little time to read them. Nevertheless, this was quite interesting. I thus responded to him with this letter, so as to make precise the only point that was still lacking, but which precisely settled everything in the very numerous critiques that have been made. As I thought at the time, you will remember, the Encyclopedists were truly and completely collapsing due to the polemic against the pamphlet Encyclopedia of Powers,[9] and, even less foreseeable, almost all of their public had understood it on the spot: because the Encyclos had almost everywhere derived their commerce from their "prestige." But, moreover, as a pleasing consequence of the Comments, [Guy] Fargette had to flee: which left the Encyclos in a truly desperate situation (which they now claim to link to the accidental death of Pierre Lepetit[10]). Fargette, burned on the terrain of "extremist theories," seems to have since then assigned himself to the railway workers, who, since 1986, have constituted a very dangerous social terrain (as in China). Those who want to cover their retreat have reproached Fargette, quite falsely, with becoming an executive in a SNCF[11] studies office and a moderate due to this!

The ex-comrade of whom I was speaking departed precisely at la rue Saint-Sulpice and sadly announced the imminent death of Floriana [Lebovici]. You will imagine the manner in which this secret -- the keeping of which had been immediately decided upon by Floriana and the disclosure of which, in my opinion (you will remember) was absolutely necessary to delay as long as possible to frustrate the inevitable maneuvers of the enemy on such an occasion -- was protected, if one can use this word, in this den [of thieves], from beginning to end.[12]

I had read the Quadruppani.[13] He is obviously a disinformer and perhaps of "type b." At least on the borderline? That is to say, manipulated by his dangerous associations (police-related or repenters[14]) and also by the person who wrote the preface.[15] Henceforth, he will be "the most Leftist" expert on questions of terrorism. And you know what an expert must always be today. He obeys (consciously or due to being maneuvered? I believe rather consciously) the same orders that Fargette has obeyed. It is a marvel of ridiculous fuckery, since he [Quadruppani] says that it is necessary to take me "at my word," that he claims to have inspired me. And this also serves for a very reassuring interpretation of many (actually worrisome but modern) points in the Comments. He makes it seem that he understands, and as an unquestionable banality, that an "impenetrable building"[16] is inevitably (as in 1860) an embassy covered by its diplomatic [legal] extraterritoriality. "Remove your mustache, we have recognized you. . . ." Ass![17]

It appears the journalist from the Globe has also dared to go by rue Saint-Sulpice, but without success, I believe one can say so here. His information actually smells like the "Renseignments Generaux."[18] There are three truths [in it]:[19] I do not have a telephone; I officially live in Champot because I consider the town in which I was born no longer exists; finally, I pay very few taxes (and I find that this is still too much).

A Portuguese friend gave me that laughable issue of A Batalha, but I did not know that it was written by a Marchadierist bitch. I was simply enjoyed all that was amusing about seeing an anarchist find me to be a good strategists, but "a general without troops." His praise for my strategy is worth nothing, but I remarked that he did not congratulate me at all for being "without troops." This anarchist thus thinks that I should have kept them, and made them march, and perhaps even with him, instead of unwisely refusing them: one does not truly know by which crazy idea. . . .

On the "121," once again you are judged incorrectly. It is true that [Michele] Bernstein signed the manifesto. Here are the facts: there were, naturally, more situationists in Paris, but they were almost all foreigners. The third "citizen" was precisely an Algerian. Thus, all the French people [in the Situationist International] signed, and this perhaps is a number that we did not judge it too clever to publish? I was the only one interrogated by the P.J.;[20] and, moreover, despite a very firm attitude, or rather thanks to it, I was not even charged. Moreover, the government had to choose to forget all of the grandiose threats of the first few days [of the scandal]. It was only this fact that was noted in I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #5, December 1960.[21]

I knew about the suicide of Comrade [Francois] Pagnon and I believe that you have commented upon it very justly. At the end of the day, and more or less quickly, everyone wears out. Certain people [are worn out] by what they have the courage to refuse and risk. And other by what they have the baseness to accept, by accommodating themselves to a poor comfort, like Ratgeb;[22] or by lying more skillfully than a [government] minister, before or during his appointment, like [Jaime] Semprun.

It was hard for me, treating you so coldly, when we encountered each other on la rue Jouye-Rouve. But I can certainly not accept, nor discuss any further, your incomprehension concerning the Baudet correspondence.[23] You know, at least I hope so, that for more than 30 years I have been very sincerely and quite completely scornful of all sorts of voluntary and outrageous incomprehensions of what I truthfully wrote about whatever subject (and it is a lot) on the part of hundreds of recuperators, mediatics,[24] politicians, artists, police officers, university professors, historians, false revolutionaries and renegades of our camp (who at least only dare to speak from faraway). So! In [September] 1988, Baudet's theoretico-historical somersaults enervated me. On Floriana's request -- she knew quite well that, seeing the prolongation of his impudent silence, I would soon thereafter crush him with a public response to his preceding distraction, and who was even more convinced by the delay -- Baudet wrote me a letter full of excuses,[25] which actually rather worsened the situation. He argued exactly like the Encyclos and he also claimed to rely upon his reputation. And I very precisely found their reputation smelled bad. Finally, I contented myself with this, because Floriana already had too many other misfortunes.[26]

Nevertheless, I salute you cordially. Embrace Etienne for us.

[1] See letter from Martos to Debord dated 19 February 1990.

[2] A pun (benoit means indulgent or santimonious) on the name of Jean-Marie Benoist, who declared that "Gorbatchev has verified the analyses of Guy Debord" (quoted in Le canard enchaine on 15 November 1989).

[3] Gunther Anders (1902-1992) was a German philosopher and the author, among other books, of Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen (The Obsolescence of Man), first published in 1956. In September 1988, the book -- or, rather, Jean-Pierre Baudet's Expurgated Summary of Gunther Anders' book Die Antiquiertheit des Menschen -- was the cause of a falling out between Baudet and Guy Debord. The latter objected that Baudet's summary, which was written in French, used words that did not appear in the original German, but were familiar from Debord's own writings, especially Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988), which made it appear that Debord had plagiarized from Anders.

[4] Though a portion of this letter is reproduced in Martos' Correspondance avec Guy Debord, it is not dated, the name of the addressee is "blacked out," it is impossible to determine how much of the letter itself has been redacted and what remains of it does not strike us as particularly significant. And so we have not translated it.

[5] Note that, in the version of this text available to us, the French says "it would be good to guide his reasoning and conduct." But this must be a typo: there is no reason that Debord would try to guide the reasoning and conduct of this person, who is labeled a "disinformer." Furthermore, there is nothing in the letter addressed to this "disinformer" that could be considered any kind of advice.

[6] Guy Debord, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988).

[7] Those who produce the Encyclopedia of Nuisances, founded in 1984 by Jaime Semprun and Christian Sebastiani.

[8] See letter from Martos to Debord dated 22 January 1988.

[9] Co-authored by Martos and Jean-Pierre Baudet, dated September 1987.

[10] Back in 1967, a member of the Libertarian Group of Menilmontant.

[11] The National Railway Company.

[12] The wife of Gerard Lebovici, Floriana passed away on 19 February 1990.

[13] Anti-Terrorism in France, or Integrated Terror, 1981-1989.

[14] People who claim to have been former terrorists (in the "Red Brigades," for example) and come forward to implicate others.

[15] Gilles Perrault.

[16] A reference to a line in Comments on the Society of the Spectacle: "And it was thus in Italy, when Aldo Moro was a prisoner of Potere Due, he was not held in a building more or less unfindable, but simply impenetrable."

[17] Note by Jean-Francois Martos: cf. Cette mauvaise reputation, Guy Debord, Paris 1993. One now knows more clearly that Serge Quadruppani was, as a defender of [Robert] Faurisson, in the first rank of the revisionist operation that begun at the end of the 1970s. A "Supplement to #3 of La Guerre Sociale" affirmed in June 1979: "The legend of the 'gas chambers' was made official by the Nuremburg Tribunal, in which the Nazis were judged by their vanquishers (...) Faurisson is attacked for having sought the truth and made it advance (...) We who are revolutionaries intend to support him in any case." It was not merely a question of a trap to compromise naive people as much as possible. The goal of the maneuver, which aimed at scrambling and leading astray any true critique of the existing world, was explicitly unveiled in the final "repentance," made by Quadruppani himself. In Libertarians and "Ultra-Leftists" Against Negationism (Editions Reflex, Paris 1996), one actually learned that it was necessary to finish off the surpassed reflexes that are "conspiracism, the conception of ideology as lie, with its illuminist cult of the truth, [and] the taste for scandal"; because these lead straight o revisionism, in which "the delirious residuum of May 68 inextricably mix with neo-fascist phantasmagorias." The guilty party is the "innate belief in conspiracies that (...) make one see behind every event the Machiavellian maneuvers of the State or the 'Masters of the World,' a world in which everything is only spectacle and lies (a complaint (...) in Debord's Comments)." Because this attack was too transparent, the words within parentheses disappeared from the 1996 version of this text, which was originally published in 1992.

The loop has been looped. Also in 1996, issue #6 of The Monthly Letter of the Good Descent announced a debate: "Terrorism and the conspiracy vision of history: the example of Italy. Exposition by Serge Quadruppani: 'Guy Debord: did he exist or was he an invention of the spectacle?'" As for "the conspiracy vision of history," it was quite simply a question of denying the revelations of Debord, and then [Gianfranco] Sanguinetti, concerning the Moro Affair and the terrorism that was manipulated by the Italian State (and, beyond, as the new attraction [recette] of the modern powers), and all this despite the incontestable proofs and the dazzling confessions that have since verified them. State terrorism? Guy Debord? The deliriums of May 1968? Here is what must be effaced from the hard drive, after at first trying to efface the gas chambers!

The agents of integrated negation scramble the comprehension of the past so as to better disorient the critique of the present. They thus serve current domination, which must permanently remodel the past so as to perpetuate itself.

To deny authentic critique, to discredit it so as to liquidate it better. This was the very same Quadruppani who one found at the center of an ad hoc network that campaigned against The Era of AIDS, so as to dissuade the readers to which this book was principally addressed (cf. Incitation to Self-Defense and also The Art of Celine and His Times for denunciations of the revisionist operation; these two books [1995 and 1997], like The Time of AIDS [1990], were written by Michel Bounan and published by Editions Allia).

And Audry Maupin, post mortem, and Florence Rey, imprisoned for a long time, did not need such singular experts, Quadruppani especially, to teach them a lesson (cf. Several lessons on the so-called "Fusillade of Vincennes Affair" (Auberge Au Libre Olibrius, supplement to #4, April 1995).

This says a lot about a single man, and those who still want to associate with him.

[18] The French equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

[19] "Inquest on the big silencers: . . . Clandestine Debord," Globe, February 1990.

[20] The judicial police. See Debord's letter to Patrick Staram dated 22 November 1960.

[21] Cf. the Editorial Note entitled "La Minute de verite," still untranslated.

[22] Pseudonym adopted by Raoul Vaneigem.

[23] See footnote #3, above.

[24] mediatiques: not simply people who work for "the media," but also people who speak in or through it.

[25] Dated 26 April 1989.

[26] Note by Jean-Francois-Martos: A copy of Debord's letter to Floriana Lebovici was attached to this letter.

(Published in Jean-Francois Martos, Correspondance avec Guy Debord, Le fin mot de l'Histoire, August 1998, and in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! July 2007. Footnotes by the translator, except where noted.)

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