from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
Florence, 5 April 1973
Dear Paolo:

I find the documents to be very interesting. Especially my proletarian precursor in 1968![1] At the level of such particular demands, we can make astronomical calculations with certitude: one inevitably ends up observing the star that must be there. Obviously, the historical difference with respect to astronomical observations is that such manifestations can be predicted -- or simply noted, before the [actual] observation -- based upon the epoch that has created them. Thus the formulation of a demand of this kind would have been almost impossible before 1968 and, I believe, absolutely impossible before the 1960s. I am also quite content with the "situationist-soviet" comic-strip[2] in the journalistic sense of the term "soviet" (because, in the profound sense, the two words make a pleonasm) and the reactions from students reported by L'Observateur after the burning of the C.E.S.[3] One can more and more remark that current production constructs a worthless world, always more more fragile, exactly for the usage of people who are resolved to break it. A beautiful coincidence!

I suppose that you have been reading Le Monde. The high school students[4] confirm the twelfth thesis of The Veritable Split and the O.S. [sic], too.[5] The conjunction of these revolts is so menacing that the C.G.T.[6] has gone quite far in its recuperative concessions with respect to the wildcat strikers and the anti-school movement (the invitation to participate in the May Day demonstrations). For the first time, one can see the light outlines of a hand stretched out to the Leftists themselves, against the movement of the base. The consternation of all the observers has not been so profound and general since May 1968. No doubt they do not so much fear "the frightening end" in the short-term, but they have become aware of the permanent character of the negation; they have entered into "endless fright."

Thank you for the invitation to meet me in Milan. But I think that I will have to return to France earlier than anticipated. Our meeting will have to wait until next time.

The news from Silva,[7] on the contrary, is more and more annoying. I believe that the first thing to do is that you manage to meet him as soon as possible -- this would itself be a kind of exploit -- so as to finally corner him. Write me quickly afterwards.

The book on Spain is indeed The Spanish Labyrinth (Editions Ruedo iberico, Paris, around 1966, in French). The English original must have appeared around 1937. The name of the author -- almost surely -- is Gerard Brenan (Brennan?)[8]

The word "zonard" means: young hoodlum (unemployed) from the outskirts [la banlieue] -- after the old phrase "zone of fortifications." It is a term in very modern argot, which appeared in Lyon and Nantes a little before 1968. Seek the equivalent used by the suburban youths in Milan and Turin.

Read well, Clausewitz.[9] With Machiavelli, he must -- in the current epoch -- complete his reading of Hegel and the other old friends of the International.

See you soon. Best wishes,

P.S. Excuse the horrible paper that I found in Florence and the subsequent bad handwriting.

[1] At the end of 1968, the salaried workers at a public firm in Milan went out on strike, demanding that transportation times be counted as time at work. [Translator's note: it would seem from the context that, prior to 1968, Debord predicted or desired that workers would make such a demand.]

[2] Comic-strip distributed as a samizdat by the clandestine newspaper Mtsyry, the heroine of which, Octabriana -- a kind of female Tarzan, half-Brigitte Bardot and half-Barbarella -- incarnated the spirit of the October Revolution in the features of a "situationist creature," to use the words of the 7 August 1972 issue of Le Nouvel Observateur.

[3] "High Schoolers: The Hour of the Blazes," in Le Nouvel Observateur, 19 February 1973, reporting on the burning of the C.E.S. Edouard-Pailleron in Paris on 6 February 1973.

[4] Demonstrations against the Debre Law (revoking the postponements long accorded to students for military service).

[5] Translator's note: Book written by Guy Debord, signed by him and Gianfranco Sanguinetti, and published in 1972. Thesis Twelve of "Theses on the Situationist International" says in part: "All respect for alienation is lost everywhere. Youth, workers, people of color, homosexuals, women, and children dare to want everything that has been forbidden them; at the same time, they refuse a large part of the miserable results that the old organization of class society permitted to be acquired and supported. They want no more bosses, no more family, no more State. They criticize architecture and learn how to speak to each other. And in opposing a hundred individual oppressions, they are in fact opposing alienated work. The abolition of wage labor is now on the order of the day. Every area of a social space that has been increasingly fashioned by alienated production and its planners today becomes a new terrain of struggle, from primary schools to public transportation, psychiatric asylums, and prisons." Note: in Debord's letter, is "O.S." a typographical error? Perhaps I.S. -- Internationale Situationniste -- was meant.

[6] Translator's note: The Confederation Generale du Travail.

[7] Translator's note: An Italian publisher who, as long ago as 1969, had planned to publish a book of situationist texts.

[8] The Spanish Labyrinth by Gerard Brenan (1943); first French edition published by Editions Ruedo iberico, 1962 (a revised and augmented version was published by Editions Champ libre in 1984).

[9] Reminder of the strategy to follow to successfully disentangle Salvadori from his military obligations.

(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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