from Guy Debord

To Jean-Francois Martos
25 February 1982
Dear Jeff:

It is quite true that Michel [Prigent], having so fully failed to discern the obvious facts of last year, must henceforth abstain from offering other people lessons on lucidity and rigor.

This type of conduct directly derives from the unrealistic spirit of the milieu "that he frequented without knowing it."[1] Nevertheless, this was not difficult. The most recent examples that I mentioned to you, among ten other examples that I have since forgotten, have no importance in themselves; they nearly summarize the tone of their discussions and the quality of the themes that interest them exclusively. Despite their pretentious reading, with which they have no known what to do in ten or twelve years, they fundamentally resemble the most common contemporary spectators in their illusory passivity and their jealous bad faith. They do not so much lack bookish intelligence, nor even intelligence, but all this is nothing to them, owing to a dialogue and a genre of life in which each one hates all the others but covers for them. Fighting against nothing, they understand nothing, and thus never discover anything good, on the theoretical plane or in their daily routines. If they do not know how to fight anything, they also do not dare to love anything. This is the root of the extravagant confusion of all of their "conclusions." If one asks them how they would judge the Palazzo Vecchio,[2] they would say that they take offense at discerning a fly on the marble of the Parthenon, which moreover is not there. It is patent that they are incapable of any practical activity -- personally and even less collectively -- and, whatever they say, they are incapable of friendship. Thus I cannot discern in them anything that would interest anyone else, and this opinion is proven truth (in their own eyes) by experience.

In a few years, such a milieu will wear out for good those who enter and remain in it. And this wear and tear does not merely mark them on the terrain of their political reveries -- the loss would be slight -- but everywhere: one hears the same voice from all of them, just like the stars of power all have the same intonations of Giscard, then Mitterand, sometimes mixed with a little Defferre. Thus I do not believe that people of this kind, even those who better informed, have the obligation or (in a certain way) the right to condemn Arthur [Marchadier], who is, in short, the most talented among them. At the moment, this is a problem for the living, especially in Spain.

One has also told me and, in my opinion, in the same false perspective of imaginary political responsibilities, that it was unfortunate that the cunning Arthur tried again to compromise [your companion] Etiennette by meeting her under diverse practical pretexts. I responded with a sincere optimism that I find that she has the air of a rebel and that I would thus have been quite surprised if she demanded from life nothing better than this lukewarm water. But, above all, this concerns her personally. In the spring of last year, Michel had been the one who showed himself to be the most inclined to give the "Parisian" debates a dangerously organizational form, whereas it was instead a question of discussions among building superintendents. It is more and more inconsequential to want to go on, since there has been confusion here that would have been unhealthy among the simplest band of film-lovers or football fans.

The Sanguinettists of whom you speak are inept fanatics, since they find that posing to their idol questions concerning several very precise and important points would already be "taking sides" against him.[3] By this very fact they confess that these were questions to which their idol could not respond, and thus that it was disrespectful to ask them! It is true that the idol had himself previously made this confession by deciding to not respond to you, and that he had justified the understanding things this way through the same absurd arguments. One can wonder if the fanatics in question (especially the most simple-minded) consider themselves to be Leftists or if they have instead rallied to the type of thinking of the "Moonist"[4] type of sects. I estimate that you have conducted yourself in the best way in this affair and along the road that has led to the greatest clarity. If your letter had been a condemnation that completely rested upon unknown information and documents, one could have -- without needing to completely falsify the meaning of your letter -- reproach you with suddenly taking sides and no doubt expressing the customary hypotheses on the influences that one would like to find at work. But since you did not leave the shadow of a pretext, one can only ask oneself more and more why these cretins who display their dishonesty on this point do not find it more convenient to simply affirm that the letters exchanged in 1978[5] are nothing other than fakes? You do well to resolve to completely ignore all of these incompetent opinions, because one is assured of ceaselessly hearing them (they will become more self-contradictory) as soon as one arouses the slightest envy. And each year the envious will become more delirious and stupider, following the model traced out by the society that sinks itself.

You have seen how, in Italy, one has arrived at the next stage of the use of the "Red Brigades," which I announced without difficulty in 1979:[6] the "repenti" spring up on command and, without trial, condemn to years in prison the thousands of socio-political activists [contestataires] whom they have the desire -- or the task -- to denounce as their "comrades." Thus it is hardly pleasant to have been seen with one once in a cafe; and all the more because the "R.B." have fought against the revolts of the political prisoners with the worst means, accusing them of reformism because they would allegedly like to make the prisons into "a bed of roses." Among so many masterpieces of black humor -- such as the release of General Dozier,[7] which was both quite spectacular and very obscure -- there were the two executioners of the brother[8] of one of the first supposed repenters ("If you were not the traitor, your brother must be"), who, completely changing their roles at the first order, balanced out their recent acolytes by an entire half-brigade.

As for Spain, the Constitutionalists have proclaimed that the military tribunal is their last hope for finally proving that democracy still exists and will continue to exist there, and they simultaneously begin to all to appear in all of their lying texts the fear that they have so bravely hidden for the last thirteen months.

On 13 February [1982], a newscaster on French radio said that the state of siege in Poland had already lasted "three months." A slip of the tongue that clearly revealed an intention to push the accomplished fact back into a distant past.[9] But it is still the present. A journalists from El Pais recently reported that he had seen on many streets and factories in Gdynia and Gdansk -- where the international press had walked for two days in the exact style of the voyages organized by Mao -- the following slogan: "The winter is yours, the spring is ours." I do not know if the French press also mentioned this fact.

The history of the houses occupied on your street -- and precisely by those beautiful squatters[10] who do not much like the judgments of the connoisseurs of their merits[11] -- is very amusing but dangerous as well. Truly, the northeast of what is still called "Paris" becomes even more uninhabitable. Since the time that we squatted the world, which continues to degrade itself, we still cannot say that we have found an environment, nor any good neighborhoods, that are fully satisfying.

Best wishes,

P.S. Do you think of writing a short book on Poland? As there are at the moment commentators who anxiously await the knowledge of the truth of the story[12] -- so as to begin to travesty it -- one can anticipate that soon there will be a flood of falsifications that work in the service of the most varied nuances of repression.

[1] Translator's note: the "pro-situationist" milieu in Paris.

[2] Powerful fortress situated in the city square of the Seigneurie at the heart of Florence.

[3] Translator's note: in a letter dated 3 June 1981, Martos had addressed some questions to Gianfranco Sanguinetti concerning his book On Terrorism and the State (1979), which Martos had translated from the Italian into French. Sanguinetti responded to these insinuations in his letter to Mustapha Khayati (December 2012).

[4] Sect founded in 1954 by the Korean Sun Myung Moon, who relocated to the United States in 1972. [Translator's note: the "Moonies."]

[5] Translator's note: See in particular the letter dated 21 April 1978. Sanguinetti responded to these insinuations in his letter to Mustapha Khayati (December 2012).

[6] Translator's note: "Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of The Society of the Spectacle."

[7] Brigadier General James Lee Dozier, head of logistics for NATO in Southern Europe, was kidnapped in Verona on 17 December 1980 by the "Red Brigades" and freed on 28 January 1981 by the police in Padua.

[8] Roberto Pecci, brother of a "brigadist" who had collaborated with the police, was killed by the "Red Brigades" on 3 August 1981.

[9] Translator's note: It actually started two months previously, on 13 December 1981.

[10] Members of "Direct Action." [Translator's note: "squatters": English in original.]

[11] Translator's note: including Guy Debord himself, who likened "Direct Action" to the "Red Brigades." For their part, "Direct Action" considered the post-1968 Debord to be a disappointment.]

[12] Translator's note: An illusion to Martos himself, who founded Editions le fin mot de l'Histoire to publish his own books.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Footnotes #3 and #5 updated May 2013.)

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