from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
Wednesday 3 January 1973
Dear Gianfranco:

Yesterday I received your (non-express) letter of 24 December, postmarked in Florence on the 27th. This is already much quicker.[1] One can no longer make calculations, even pessimistic ones, on the rhythms of the postal services. Dadaism reigns among them.

I am in agreement on the planning[2] that you have formulated. We only hope that, this time, it will be respected.

As I wrote to you on 31 December, I also insist on the necessity of pressing Silva.[3]

The Gallimard-Vaneigem thing is amusing. It suffices not to respond.

I send back to you your letter to the Florentine attorney, which is splendid, and reminds me a little of La Mandragone.[4] I also believe that the proceeding (blocking the raising of the rent[5]) is good. But it is necessary that you now see your lawyer: perhaps he does not have the right to keep the deposit and it might be necessary to deposit it with a more official organism (which in France is "The Bank of Deposits and Consignments").

Here, all of the polls indicate that the "Union of the Left" will be victorious in the March elections.[6] I do not know what to think. In any case, the Gaullists are in a complete panic. The principal political effect that one might anticipate in this case would be, for you, the departure of Marcellin.[7] But even this is not definite.

Do you have news from the baleful parish-priest of Montfiorale?[8] Can you bring this affair into the clear?

We think the same thing about Bolchi.[9]

A good phrase to detourne, from a letter by Nicolas: "Il che sarebbe il modo piu sicuro che ci fusse senza avere a dis fare il mondo."[10] (To the Seigneurie, 3 August 1510).

We embrace Alison.[11] Best wishes,

Notes on the book in progress

It seems to me that The Class Struggles in Italy[12] can be published in a small volume, a little like The Prince, if the tone can be trenchant and concise.

What do you think about a short chapter (on the model, in Enrages and Situationists,[13] of the chapter entitled "The Culminating Point," which I wrote in an hour in a bistro and which I believe to be the best chapter in the book) devoted to a scandalous and implacable explication of what has effectively passed, without making any arguments or justifications?

They [the chapters] can be, for example:[14]

1. Italy before the crisis. The Italian miracle took place in a relatively backwards country, but within the platoon [peloton] of the industrially advanced countries, and in the country that had the strongest Stalinist party in the West. Among the causes of the remarkable expansion of the Italian economy -- linked to the global process -- was the fact that Italy had a proletariat that was deeply involved (compared to the Spanish conditions of the same period).

2. The origins of the crisis. The university and high school students of 1967, stimulated by the agitations of the rest of the world (the USA, Strasbourg) and clashing with much more archaic conditions (the Zanzara affair).[15] Role of the influence of the Situationist International then and, later, when the occupations movement developed by agitating for factory committees in the north.

3. The Battipaglia process[16] to the hot summer of 1969; then the hot autumn (here, the role of the Italian journal, the Venice Conference,[17] your poster from November,[18] etc.).

4. The bomb.[19] What it was; what ends it served. Unfortunate story of Pinelli-Valpreda[20]. The SI at that moment (Reichstag).[21]

5. The ownership classes in their conscious and coordinated struggle against the proletarian revolution: the bourgeoisie and its disinherited younger sister [cadette] -- the Italian branch of the bureaucracy. Their negotiations for an "honest" division, among associates, of possession of Italian capitalism (via the State). How bureaucratic politics is difficult (*) and how its very success left it the poor share [of the spoils].

(*) One can only content the workers by buying them off; and if they are actually content, one no longer needs to pay them. But if one goes too far in contenting the workers, one risks completely losing control over them. And so it is necessary, not only to pay them, but to also accord a number of advantages to them (but according them too much radicalizes them, etc.)

6. The ripening of the crisis after the recoil due to the bomb. Reggio.[22] The situation today (Agnelli and his anticipations, the attached article from Le Monde, etc.). The point reached by the F.A.I.[23] in its worried hatred of the SI, a thousand other symptoms, without forgetting the revolts in the prisons, which have since spread to America and France.

7. What the proletariat wants; and how it can obtain it.

There you go. I believe the assured tone of Machiavelli,[24] almost a parody of his chapter titles and many of his phrases, will produce a magnificent effect. Have courage!

[1] Written in the margin: "Here, there has not been 'normal' distribution since the 30th. . . ."

[2] The plans for such a collaboration started in December 1972.

[3] Milanese publisher who, back in February 1969, planned to publish a collection of texts by the Situationist International.

[4] A comedy by Machiavelli.

[5] Rent at the Palazzo Bardi in Florence, where Gianfranco Sanguinetti lived.

[6] Legislative elections of 4 and 11 March 1973.

[7] Translator's note: the Minister of the Interior who ordered that Sanguinetti be expelled from France on 23 July 1971.

[8] Lessor of the house rented by Alice and Guy Debord in Chianti.

[9] Sandro Bolchi, a film director.

[10] "The most sure means would be to do it without having to defeat the world." (Nicolas [sic] Machiavelli, letter to the Seigneurie.)

[11] Allison D.

[12] Mentioned by Debord in a letter to Sanguinetti dated on 13 December 1971.

[13] Enrages and Situationists in the Occupations Movement ([first published in French by] Gallimard, October 1968).

[14] Translator's note: a point-by-point comparison of these seven chapters and the seven chapters that, two years later, would make up the book called The Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy would be very revealing.

[15] In February 1966, a bulletin from the Parini high school in Milan, La Zanazara (The Mosquito), caused a scandal by denouncing the weight of the Church and the family upon sexuality, [thus] posing the problem of freedom in general.

[16] Insurrection of the workers of Battipaglia on 9 and 10 April 1969, which made them masters of the town for more than twenty-four hours before the arrival of huge numbers of carabiniers (cf. I.S., #12, p. 33).

[17] The VIIIth and last conference of the Situationist International, held in Venice, Italy, in September 1969.

[18] Avviso as proletariato italiano sulle possibilita presenti della rivoluzione sociale (Milan, November 1969).

[19] A bomb placed by members of the extreme Right who were manipulated by the [Italian] secret services exploded in Milan on 12 December 1969, killing 16 and injuring 107 people. This attack served to make the anarchists and the revolutionary extreme Left the first designated terrorists.

[20] The anarchist Pietro Valpreda was accused of being the author of the Milanese attack. Arrested, he would not be freed until December 1972. Pino Pinelli, another anarchist, was found dead (on 15 December) at the base of the building of the Milanese Prefect of Police, where had been interrogated by Commissioner Luigi Calabresi, who would be assassinated in his turn on 17 May 1972 in Milan.

[21] Il Reichstag brucia? [Is the Reichstag Burning?], a situationist tract that denounced the governmental manoeuvre (and was distributed clandestinely on 19 December 1969).

[22] In July 1970, after the announcement that Reggio de Calabria would not become the region's capital, riots exploded in the town (barricades, attacks against commissariats and the arming of demonstrators, sacking of the mayor's house and the train station, sieges of the different [political] parties and pillaging of banks). The troubles lasted until February 1971, despite the proclamation of a state of siege.

[23] Document drafted by the 10th Congress of the Italian Anarchist Federation and directed against the Situationist International (reprinted in The Veritable Split in the International, Champ Libre, July 1972.)

[24] Written in the margin: "Thus: do not get lost in the multitude of quotations. Say the essential, quote only the most striking. Only occupy yourself with the dialectical movements of the ensemble."

(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. All footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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