from Guy Debord

To Jaime Semprun
Tuesday, 24 June [1975]
Dear Jaime:

This strange Portuguese power continues to turn 'round and 'round in a tragic-comic indecision, so as to conserve a status quo ante that escapes it on all sides and that never even existed. Meanwhile, two true forces continue to advance very audaciously towards each other, more and more neglecting the unstable M.F.A.:[1] the cynical Stalinist infiltrators and the Workers' Councils.

The revolutionary workers, through the consequences that are caused by their growing pressure, have already virtually placed Mitterandism in an impossible situation, which henceforth must even appear in the spectacle and, so as to say nothing of Spain, the workers constitute the principal barricade to the Stalinist perspective in Italy, after its recent electoral triumph[2] (which has answered the question cui prodest? in the "strategy of tension" of the last five years). "They can . . . even win."[3]

No doubt you have seen the article on the demonstration of 17 June[4] in Le Monde of the 19th, finally evoking a reality that "already allows one to reflect" and to finally consider "the marching orders that were unthinkable several days ago" (really?). And thus, after Touraine[5] brought the most recent harvest of his confusionism to the same rag on the 24th, Duverger[6] informed us that no republic of councils has ever functioned: in the memory of the rose, no one has ever seen a gardener die. It is the panic of 1968 that returns, with the same arguments, but this time before the principal battle, instead of pontificating after the storm. Thus Le Monde has set records for falsification and censorship.

From what I know from listening to the radio yesterday for ten minutes, I have the strong impression that the document from Moscow published by Tesson[7] is a fake and that Marchais[8] already knows this. It is too good and too stupid to be true. Even in the [most] probable case, the Soares-Stalinist confrontation will rebound. If Soares falls into such a trap, one can suppose that the service that fabricated the document -- as crude and collapsible as one could wish -- is a service in the East. And one can expect a great outcry against Soares, a professional calumniator, so as to press the European Socialists to distance themselves from his, as today the Stalinists of Europe are pressed everywhere to repudiate Cunhal.[9]

It is thus necessary that your book quickly reaches a large audience. It is good that it is sold in the bookstores, because this is dialectically the consequence and cause of its purchase by a group of potential readers. But it is necessary to break the silence of the press, and quickly. What is necessary and sufficient is that someone (anyone) writes something (and especially if this person denounces your catastrophic irresponsibility, as Papaioannou[10] once did). If Roy[11] has the least dignity, he must supply the Observateur with one of the dithyrambic articles of which he has the secret, and demand to be published under the threat of his immediate resignation, so as to protest against such pro-Stalinist censorship. This would make some noise in the subservient intelligentsia and would certainly embarrass Daniel.[12]

I believe that it is necessary to place an advertisement without losing an instant of time and on the page in Le Monde that speaks of Portugal. The text that you have evoked would be good in any case, but this isolated phrase has the weakness of not distinguishing itself from ordinary Leftism, because Stalinism is not directly put into question by it. Something else could also be said (because your book merits two or three successive advertisements), for example, by beginning with these quotations:

"The presence of two thousand workers from a single firm in a parade around which the Communist Party had begged to not be mixed up with is already something to reflect upon" (...) "Capital has heard the marching orders which had been unthinkable several days ago: 'Immediate dissolution of the Constituent Assembly!,' 'Working-class government now!' and especially the most often reprised slogan of the evening: 'Out with the scoundrels, Power to the those who work!'" -- Dominique Pouchin, Le Monde, 19 June 1975.

What was unthinkable there has already been thought and done elsewhere: THE SOCIAL WAR IN PORTUGAL, etc.

Perhaps with the caption: "Completed by the printer on 16 May 1975"? Finally, we us see all that our publisher[13] is capable of. It is time.

I am not surprised that our beached Portuguese [comrades] do not show themselves. After 28 September [1974], the movement obviously began to surpass them. In addition, one must anticipate an affective phenomenon, typically pro-situ, of jealousy: those who have done nothing will want you to have taken ten years to write this book. In the [pro-situ] milieu, it is only me whom one wants to pardon for sometimes having made something good and still such a pardon is made due to extreme justness and very disagreeably.

Gianfranco [Sanguinetti] has written to me. He still hopes for the publication of his ["Censor"] pamphlet, but his principal argument seems to be that, otherwise, the betrayal of the Doge[14] would be too enormous (which is exact: but there are people to whom unheard-of misadventures often happen because they appear quite capable of letting them happen: cf. Claude Roy). He did not say a word to me about your book, but he explained at great length at which points the elements keep him from understanding what it is about, just as in Paolo's foggy, most recent exploit. Apart from this, Gianfranco is in the most critical situation, from all points of view. When I have the patience to respond to him, I will send you a copy.

As I have reason to believe that my work, as much architectural[15] as cinematographic,[16] will be concluded faster than anticipated, I think that you can come here a little earlier in August: for example between the 5th and the 10th.

Best wishes,

[1] Movement of the Armed Forces.

[2] At the heart of the coalition government.

[3] "The Portuguese proletarians have precipitated the course of modern history. They can precipitate still more, and even win." (Jaime Semprun, The Social War in Portugal.)

[4] Demonstration organized by the Revolutionary Councils of the Workers, Soldiers and Sailors, to which was joined the parade of the workers from the naval shipyards, who demanded the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly.

[5] Alain Touraine, sociologist. [Translator's note: Debord and the situationists' hatred of Touraine goes back to 1966 and the scandal they caused at Strasbourg.]

[6] Maurice Duverger, a writer on legal matters.

[7] On 23 June 1975, Le Quotidien de Paris reproduced the page from the [Italian] newspaper Republica that printed a secret document in which, in five points, the Kremlin laid out the route by which the Portuguese Communist Party could take power.

[8] Translator's note: Georges Marchais, leader of the French Communist Party.

[9] Translator's note: Alvaro Cunhal, leader of the Portuguese Communist Party.

[10] Kostas Papaioannou, a philosopher, specialist in Hegel and Marx, author of The Cold Ideology and The Marxists.

[11] Claude Roy. [Translator's note: Jaime Semprun's father-in-law.]

[12] Jean Daniel, editor in chief of Le Nouvel Observateur.

[13] Translator's note: Champ Libre.

[14] Translator's note: Ariberto Mignoli, Gianfranco Sanguinetti's troubled attorney.

[15] Concerning the house in Champot.

[16] Drafting the text for the voiceover of Refutation of All Judgments.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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