from Guy Debord

To Claude, Roger, Yves[1]
28 November 1968

Concerning several uncertainties of the "Garnautin" Affair

Several comrades -- whom the situationists have recently met and who are esteemable on all points for their activity in May [1968] and for the critical positions that they themselves have developed -- have expressed doubts about the Garnautins and the motivations for their exclusion[2] (pseudo-indulgent concerning "both sides"). At the same time, they ignore the affair as if it were a negligible detail that no longer impedes current relations with us.

We can not consider this as an annexed question, because we see in it a typical attitude of the demoralization involved in the bad habits of the "groupuscular" practices of the preceding period -- in which, it seemed, everyone resigned themselves to the ideas that every little group lies a little or calumnies a little, even the Exception-I.C.O.,[3] to say nothing of the Janovers and Morins.[4] It would be good if these comrades could surpass this demoralization; in any case, it isn't a question for us to ratify.

These comrades know that we have no intention of influencing them, enrolling them, or convincing them of anything. We only evoke the indispensible basis of equal dialogue (which implies a reciprocal esteem concerning essential, practical options).

Everyone has forgotten the Garnautins -- which is only fitting -- and in general we have have no propensity to re-pose such miserable questions, to prove by repetition that we were right to confront the pompous fuckery of their "perspectives," which they established at the moment that they were thrown into "the supercession of the SI."[5]

But here we consider something else. The comrades for whom we write this note have themselves chosen to pose the question of the truthfulness of the SI and the Garnautins on the basis of the facts that led to their exclusion. They have thus gone to inform themselves at the side of the Garnautins (which is a correct application of intellectual scruples, except they haven't found it useful to inform themselves about both sides). Since they have raised this problem in practice, they must one day take responsibility for resolving it.

We do not seek from them assurances that we are more intelligent, "effective" or "serious" than the Garnautins [because]:

1) everyone knows it.
2) we have no propensity to make people "vote" for us on any occasion.

On the other hand, we do not ask these comrades to approve our theses. We say that it is quite possible that errors abound in the I[nternationale] S[ituationniste], the Treatise [on Living for the Younger Generations], the [Society of the] Spectacle, our tactics in May [1968], etc. They can usefully critique them all.

On the contrary, we can not accept that one speaks of us by putting our testimony [concerning the Garnautins] into doubt on the basis of the facts (which are particularly crude and ignominious). We have not reminded our learned comrades that theory separated from practice has very little interest. It is however necessary to note that one feels that there is a banal relationship between the tendency to want an "ultra-situ" super-theory and the custom of associating oneself with the waste products or by-products of the SI's activity.

According to us, the choice is simple:

1) If the facts to which we've testified in the tract Attention! Three Provocateurs[6] are true, then it is unworthy of a revolutionary to associate with a Garnautin. It's a question of method, a problem of communal action.

2) If the facts in question are false (or even if one among them is false), then nothing would permit the least degree of indulgence towards us. Despite our more advanced "ideas," and exactly because of them, we would clearly be worse than the F.E.R.[7]

Thus, the comrades who pose this question and do not resolve it must resolve it before any new contact [with the SI]. They can do this on the basis of internal critique and the precise confrontation of published texts (two by the SI and ten or a dozen by the Garnautins); or the global examination of what we are and what the Garnautins are (before and after this affair); or a rigorous and intellectigent inquest on the side of one or several Garnautins (to facillitate this task, at the end of "Three Provocateurs," we have exposed the precise manners in which each of the three of them lie -- we know nothing of Edith Frey[8]); or finally by combining these three methods of examination, which would be still better.

When these comrades have come to a conclusion, they will themselves be able to judge if they can speak with us or not.

[For the SI]

[1] Text adopted by the meeting of the SI held 28 November 1968 and communicated to the comrades "Claude, Roger, Yves," without mentioning their last names.

[2] Translator: see letter dated 15 January 1967.

[3] Translator: I.C.O. was the Informations et Correspondance Ouvrier (Workers News and Letters).

[4] Louis Janover and Edgar Morin.

[5] In a tract entitled Truth is Revolutionary, drafted the day after their exclusion, the Garnautins engaged themselves in a "more complete analysis of the situation and the perspectives that derive from it," and declared that "the task of being more extreme than the SI henceforth no longer belongs to the SI."

[6] Attention! Three Provocateurs, 22 January 1967.

[7] Federation of Revolutionary Students (Lambertist Trotskyists).

[8] Absent at the moment of the exclusion, the sister of Theo Frey declared her solidarity with the three who had been excluded.

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

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