from Guy Debord

To Mustapha Khayati
Thursday [27 October 1966]
Dear Mustapha:

Bravo for the Robot operation.[1] (Useful detail for history: was it yesterday or Tuesday?)

We hope that the operation will become widely known -- even without official reaction. I think that the hundred cretins who were there will speak about it everywhere as an extraordinary event, whatever their indignation. The spectator always considers himself enriched by what he has seen. This is the principal property that remains his, and the exact essence of modern property is the display of it.

The post festum reaction of Moles is quite sublime. In the security of his robotized world, which perhaps already thinks it has finished with the pathological agents that ideas become when they are concretized -- the bone in the cheese of planning -- , ideas have been flung back into his face, under a precisely fitting historical figure.

One can say that he has finally seen the Spirit of the Times appear in a tomato!

We impatiently await the pamphlet.[2] You will have Bonnot[3] for the 15th.

[J.V.] Martin writes me that the Provo Vries will organize a conference in Arhus next month. I suggest the same treatment [that Moles received].

The Japanese have written me a note (they responded to our questions[4] from November [1965]). They attached an appeal to commemorate the [tenth anniversary of the] Hungarian Revolution. Perhaps this is an occasion, in advance of the publication of the pamphlet, to crudely politicize the "reign" of our bureau of the A.G., which still must be considered to be a band of innocent jokers by many Strasbourgeois. You might:

1) Send a long telegraphic message -- in the name and at the expense of the U.N.E.F.-Strasbourg -- to Shigeru Mori[5] before their meeting [English in original]. Send five or six phrases so that the message has a certain content (that links up with our own perspective on the struggle that begins with the recognition of the anti-bureaucratic workers' revolution in Hungary).

2) Read from this message in the university restaurant,[6] where they have their loudspeaker set up.

Also attached is a note for four supplementary consignments.

I suppose that Herbert [Holl] has written to you that, on the rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau (between les Halles and the Bank of France), he has found a two-room apartment for himself and you (55,000 per month).

See you soon. Regards to all,

Questions from the SI to the Revolutionary Communist League of Japan (Marxist Faction)

I. What is your theoretical position on Russian society? The State has not withered away, there isn't a classless society. Why do you interpret this "alienation" in economic terms?

II. Do you accept the critique that Marx and Engels made of "ideology"? If so, why do you employ this concept in a non-critical sense (in your letter to the SI)?

III. What is your position on Workers' Councils? (The soviets from 1905 to Hungary, the ideas of Pannekoek.)

IV. How do you critique the modern aspects of capitalism, of which Japan presents all the traits: abundance of market relations, alienation of the worker in consumption, advertising-propaganda of the dominant society, etc.?

V. According to you, what must be the actual organization of industry in a socialist society? (That is to say, the relations of production in the principal base of modern society.)

VI. Given the increase of the powers of production, who must and can set the goals -- and reconstruct all of the existing structure -- according to the coherent necessities of socialist life?

VII. What is your position on the function of the avant-garde revolutionary organization in its relations with the proletarian masses:

a) in the current struggle against the dominant class?
b) at the moment of the liquidation of this class power?
c) subsequently?

Responses of the SI to the questions of the Revolutionary Communist League of Japan (Marxist Faction)[7]

First response:

The dominant ideas of an era are those of the dominant class. Thus we attack all fashionable ideas. Among ourselves, we principally attack the falsifications of revolutionary ideas. Whatever their nuances, all of the falsifiers are in practical solidarity and contribute to the prevention of the formation of a new revolutionary movement. [Henri] Lefebvre is an example of university recuperation of a fragmented Marxism, separated from all practical perspectives. Cardan [Cornelius Castoriadis] is an example of a parody of political activity: his theoretical and practical impotence have finally led him to rally the vulgar thought of modern sociology. Socialisme ou Barbarie finished with Cardan. Pouvoir Ouvrier remains loyal to the old, partially positive line of Socialisme ou Barbarie, but shows itself incapable of developing it.

Second response:

For us, Marxism is a method indivisible from social revolution.

Third response:

A summary response to this complex question can not be satisfactory. Schematically, we say that the positive heritage of Lenin as a theoretician is almost nothing (except his opportune Marxist compilation The State and Revolution). We principally approve of his revolutionary position against the war after the bankruptcy of the Second International; and the taking of power in 1917. We principally reject his organizational conception from the start (What is to be done?) and his actions identified with the State after the taking of power.

The theoretical heritage of Trotsky appears important to us only before 1917 (Permanent Revolution). We reject the role Trotsky played in power as an extremist bureaucrat (for example, on the "union question" and against Kronstadt). His critique of Stalinism remains very partial. Furthermore, we think that there is more to "inherit" in the theoretical work of Rosa Luxembourg (the programme of the "Spartakus Bund" [Spartakist Confederation]).

Fourth response:

There still aren't any mass movements in the revolutionary sense in Europe. The workers' unions are bureacratized and currently have the principal function of integrating the working class into the existing system (naturally, the workers at the base resist). At the current stage, we look to encounter avant-garde groups. We publish journals, pamphlets, [and] tracts. We hope to publish posters and books. We still can not publish newspapers.

Fifth response:

We critique politics insofar as it is a specialized activity. We reject any conception of a party insofar as it would represent the working class. We are partisans of the formation of a new type of revolutionary organization.

Sixth response:

We think we have been as clear as possible. We understand your difficulties with translation. We hope that our expression would be more accessible in a broader development.

[1] The cybernetician [Abraham] Moles had tomatoes thrown at him at the beginning of his inaugural course [at the University of Strasbourg] on Wednesday 26 October 1966.

[2] Translator: On the Poverty of Student Life.

[3] Pseudonym taken by Rene Vienet.

[4] Attached.

[5] Cf. letter of 19 August 1963.

[6] Le Gallia, property of the National Union of French Students.

[7] These responses appeared on the other side of the questionnaire [above].

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 3, 1965-1968. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! August 2005.)

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