from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
Tuesday, 25 April [19]72
Dear Gianfranco:

I have just received your letter #10 (and, before that, #8 and #9). And, at the same time, your supplemntary note of the 21st. Thus, I think to meet M[ignoli][1] tomorrow.

I have received for you a letter from [Rene] Vienet -- from Japan. I think that you can translate the text of six pages (not signed, of course) and send it to his post office box. If by chance you haven't received the book, send him a note saying so and giving your Pisa address. And saying that you will willingly translate the preface.[2] For this translation,[3] the tone must be brilliant, insolent. In this preface, one feels the assurance of the revolutionary, and also the pedanticism of the specialist. In brief, that is Vienet, when he happens to write. There is humor and also naivete that would like to be cynicism. In the ensemble, it is a quite likable preface, clearly anti-Maoist. But it also introduces an "Asiatic collection" that completely feels like Vienet's habitual constructions. On the wind.

You have certainly admired the recent disappointments of Pompidou and Marcellin. So as to divert the attention of all of their enemies, and to reassemble the dopes in their approval of a European politics already translated into actions -- which leaves almost everyone indifferent -- , they call for a referendum, and one only hears of it for several weeks. In this referendum, 47% of the electoral body refuses to vote, and 17% votes no. It was very pleasing to hear all of the government thinkers discover post festum that the people can not quite understand at which point they are concerned with the Common Market; and they have reacted indignantly to the trifles that weren't in question, such as salaries, unemployment, pollution, Pompidou's hostility, urbanism and the department stores, not to mention dozens of financial scandals. Eh, bella figa![4] Thus, it isn't necessary to ask.

Attached[5] is the beginning of an editorial in Le Monde in which one begins to cry about the discomfiture of power all over Europe!

I see that there has been a change at the top of the Banca Commerciale. I hope that this does not inconvenience your relations.

In the Feltrinelli affair, which is as crude as the fabrications, one must not underestimate the fact that this imbecile had necessarily committed a certain number of imprudences (but to what degree?). He really had associated himself with all sorts of shady people. The provocateurs certainly haven't removed it from one of his chateaux, where he led a dignified bourgeois existence. For example, if Saba now acts like Rolandi,[6] it is definite that Saba truly associated with F[eltrinelli] for several years, whereas Rolandi naturally never saw [Pietro] Valpreda.

As it is presented at the moment, the affair suits both C.D. and the I.C.P.[7]; it is thus improbable that there will be more events before the elections,[8] which might have some importance this time around. They can perhaps give indications and "permissions" for a choice between diverse forms of counter-revolution. If they do not help clarify this, there will be other elections, no doubt, a little later on. If the fascists and the Stal[inist]s make progress at the same time, this could justify a Leftist government that is supported by the I.C.P. in the name of "anti-fascism."

For The Class Struggles [in Italy], it will be necessary in all of the chapters to pass from the "gaseous state" to the solid state. Thus, we will have several sessions of work. And others, even during the summer, if the thing can't be finished by June (which I fear). We judge completely in the same way the urgency of this achievement and in all respects. In any case, it is necessary that it is ready by September; but it would be much better to finish it before then. Advance to the maximum before the next "summit meeting."

I believe that the astounding [Rene] Riesel was envious of Vienet. Moreover, I have retrospectively understood that the poverty of several situationists expressed itself by a certain real admiration for Vienet! (Which I find unimaginable, because we all know our Vienet.) But exactly: Vienet would like to undertake -- or do very badly -- the heap of things that many others know not to even dream of undertaking. Even [Raoul] Vaneigem, who particularly detested Vienet, must be envious of someone who is more active and courageous than him. Riesel thus triumphs by proving that Vienet took two or three weeks to render correct accounts. And he hasn't done so in three years!

What nationality is the elegant gentleman?


[1] Translator: Sanguinetti's lawyer.

[2] Preface to the "Asian Library" collection, Editions Champ Libre (cf. Simon Leys, President Mao's New Clothes, p. 9-14.)

[3] Written in the margin: "A single difficulty, I believe: 'the Sobouls.' The historian Soboul, whom Vienet scorned, as he does with all that he hasn't read.

[4] Ah, pretty cat! [Italian in original].

[5] Translator: not attached in the Fayard edition.

[6] Cornelio Rolandi, a taxi driver, the only witness of the deeds allegedly committed by Pietro Valpreda. He died on 15 July 1971, of an opportune pulmonary infarctus, a few days before tesifying a futura memoria, which would be invalidated on 20 April 1972.

[7] The Christian Democractic Party and the Italian Communist Party.

[8] Written in the margin: "Except if the soundings show a precise current that certain people would like to reverse."

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

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