from Guy Debord

To Eduardo Rothe
26 June 1974
Dear Rayo, dear comrades:

I have received the letter from Rayo [Eduardo Rothe] dated 11 June and your package from the same day, containing your publications of 26 and 29 May.[1] I hope that you have received my express letter of 12 June, containing an address at which one must write me directly at this moment (I have repeated it on the other side of this envelop). In Paris, my mail has experienced several delays and suspicious disappearances. Here, it is quicker and more secure. Already, the Renseignements generaux[2] has been prowling around, as monstrously visible in this solitude as the impotence of Ratgeb[3] when faced with real life, but one is in sympathy with the few workers at the closest post office.

The poster of 26 May is magnificent. One understands why Spinola has declared that one can no longer lose any time in combating the subversion that speaks louder than "his importance in the country"! But the poster says exactly what his importance in the country is, because it says the truth that all the other people live without knowing how or without wanting to enunciate. One thus teaches us that "the abolition of censorship" principally and first of all means: prohibition upon inciting workers to go on strike. Today, the strike is the minimum truth of Portugal. One must denounce with precision all those who combat it and one must discover the totality of its goals: Down with political economy!

The attached piece from Le Monde, published on 22 June, enunciates -- for the first time (to my knowledge) in the "objective" bourgeois press -- the tranquil evidence that the failure of the postal workers' strike "appears as a victory for the Leftist parties . . . and for the Portuguese unions, which are close to the Communist Party." If one sent to the soldiers to [man] the post offices, this strike risked being the decisive test of strength. This time, the Stalinists were successful at avoiding it at the very last minute. I am in agreement with the analyses in Rayo's letter, with perhaps (I speak from afar) the nuance that it appears to me to underestimate the weight of the bureaucratic organizations, even if their means are reduced to the possibility of enunciating demobilizing declarations. Such "divisive manoeuvres," as the postal workers call them, have been sufficient.

In general, this is how I see the division of repressive work in the near future (afterwards, it would eventually turn more violent): the Stalinists will give moral guarantees to the struggle against the revolution, and a small number of police officers, military police, for example, might at this stage suffice as the "secular arms" of the hunt for extremists, for the "heretics" of this strange theology of the Mystery of Democracy in the trinitarian form of Spinola-the-Father, Cunhal-the-Son and the Holy-Spirit of the Common Market. On the other hand, the "Leftist parties" of the government will prefer to show their divergences with the junta on the question of colonial negotiations (if necessary, they will leave the government of the here-below), rather than on the question of the socio-economic struggles, in which they have no fundamental, real divergences, or in which any slight apparent divergence is more dangerous to handle than nitroglycerine. But "the facts have a hard head," and current Portuguese power, which is quite young, enters into a very old spectacle.

It seems to me that any revolutionary statement, on the social totality or on each particular point, must at this point utilize this kind of "fixed form," here presented in three points:

1) Through impotence, Salazarism committed suicide two months ago already (unfortunately, it was not us who killed it and this still remains the "original sin" of our movement). You see all that we hope for and want; and we have good reason. See the little we have obtained. See how it is at every moment questioned and lost again (censorship, the Stalino-Spinolist government "which now wants to maintain -- horrors! -- the salariat," etc., the denunciation of everything that carries off the promises and illusions of 1 May).

2) How to defend against this process, that is to say, against the parties and the unions as much as the bishops and the generals. The self-organization of the class.

3) To show where these defensive measures inevitably lead, if they succeed. (The bourgeois and the bureaucrats have already clearly shown themselves to be against the movement; the workers must show themselves to be completely in favor of it.)

At present, I suppose that you are in contact with revolutionary workers.

If the workers do not succeed at this moment to constitute their own liaisons (not only in streets demonstrations and strikes, but in factory and neighborhood assemblies), the movement will be vanquished.

The time has come. The current situation cannot last, neither for the revolutionaries, nor for Spinola.[4] If the repression becomes more marked without the workers going even further, time will begin to work against us, and perhaps very quickly.

If the autonomous struggles of the workers do not soon go further, no doubt there will be a limited repression against the extremists (notably, against you). All the global forces that defend class society are greatly interested in the success of "the Spinola experiment," not only to save capitalism in Portugal, but (as much as possible) to save it through this way, that is, the participation of the Stalinists in the government insofar as this participation is a modern form of counter-revolution in a Europe that is collapsing. This form of counter-revolution is also the old Italian project of Stalinist-Democratic Christian agreement;[5] the project of Carrillo in Spain (reaffirmed with such assurance at the Geneva meeting this past Sunday); and it is the project that the Mitterandist coalition in France just barely failed to realize during the most recent presidential elections.

If the Portuguese proletariat quickly succeeds at becoming more openly threatening -- better armed -- one will head towards a civil war, in which the Stalinists will side, at least at the beginning with Spinola, who will then liquid them. If so, you must be ready to become clandestine or leave the country. In case of a civil war, the situation might resemble Spain, or Chile (a civil war that one did not want to fight, that is to say, bloody for one side only). Fortunately, your Kornilov[6] has created fewer illusions that Allende.

If R.M.[7] has finally run out of copies of [The Society of the] Spectacle, I hope he will have the finesse to reprint it without delay.

If you can lay your hands on recently filmed documents (through the procedures of our "Furniture Commission" of May '68[8] or by being in contact with cameramen[9] or students at a film school), this would be very precious for a future cinematographical exposition of this moment.[10]

Furthermore, if you have time, one can also envision publishing a book in Paris (narrative and documents), because the most radical aspect of the situation is and obviously will [otherwise] remain hidden to foreigners, especially among the Leftists. Since you, dear Rayo, must write a book, this might be a good subject.

I await more recent news from you concerning all that takes place. Long live the Conselho para o desenvolvimento da revolucao social![11] This is the slogan for the current period and the flag of "our party."

Best wishes to all,

P.S. Tell "Celeste"[12] that I have not forgotten her voice.

[1] Aviso ao proletariado portugues . . . and De greve parcial a greve total: Da ocupacao parcial a ocupacao total. [Translator's note: to our knowledge, these posters have never been reprinted or translated from the Portuguese.]

[2] Translator's note: the French equivalent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

[3] Translator's note: Pseudonym adopted by Raoul Vaneigem.

[4] Who would resign at the end of September [1974].

[5] Translator's note: In Italy, such a collaboration dates back to 1948.

[6] Translator's note: Generalissimo Kornilov, removed from office by Kerensky after his failed coup in August 1917, fought against the Bolsheviks at the head of a troop of Cossacks.

[7] Ribeiro de Mello.

[8] Under the form of "recapture." [Translator's note: that is to say, theft.]

[9] Translator's note: English in original.

[10] Translator's note: in his 1975 film Refutation of All Judgments, Whether Full of Praise or Hostile, that have until now be made of the film "The Society of the Spectacle," Guy Debord would include a good deal of footage from Portugal.

[11] Translator's note: the Council for the Development of the Social Revolution.

[12] Leonor, the "Celeste" of Lisbon.

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

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