from Guy Debord

To Gerard Lebovici
4 March [1976], 3 pm
Dear Gerard:

So as to give you all the information I have concerning the diverse police actions in progress, here is a copy of the fake tract from yesterday evening.

It is very important for us (concerning the outburst at Mitterand's place,[1] which might be repeated, and our wider and future "publicity" in the milieus of the cinema and the general population) to let no one make the unsupportable error that this might have been an "irresponsible" action by pseudo-extremist idiots.

One could perhaps then correct what Liberation and L'Observateur said, because they might even want to be deceived where this matter is concerned.

For this Saturday, try to obtain from those responsible for the editorial content of Film francais a serious, indignant, professional and democratic article -- which would provide a primary basis for reference. As the film's producer, you certainly have the right, even though they are not your employees.

It is necessary to speak here of commandos, activists, "one of many parallel police forces," but especially not of fascists (a fascist group has "political style" in their actions -- which, moreover, resemble bureaucratic Leftism enough to be taken for it). The modus operandi here is not that of the political groupuscule, and despite the sought-after appearance, still less that of a "self-managed" aggragate of disturbers. Ten or twelve truly inept students -- who know a lot amongst themselves, but say nothing and give the impression of passively waiting around for and without knowing what will happen during a disturbance that was announced to them by the more active among them -- have been recruited to "do a little number" and thus be the water in which the fish will swim. Two or three professionals (informers or police officers among the many who have infiltrated into all of Vincennes[2]) came straight to the point from their side, agitated and immediately went to it. An obvious police officer waited, alone after the incident, in a large "unmarked car" that was double-parked nearby, certainly so as to recuperate one or two of their men if Mitterand had them arrested by the Police-secours (in the style of the book about the S.A.C.[3] that you had me read).

The truth of this hypothesis is also demonstrated by the debility, which is truly beyond measure, of the anonymous tract that says nothing, that supports no thesis or dream of any group or individual -- that does not even attack me, while a hundred violent attacks would have been so easy. The text cheaply disguises itself as a pseudo pro-situ manifesto (clumsily emphasizing that they were "pro," but that this position was surpassed -- by what?). It gathers together certain pseudo-Leftist inscriptions, in the manner of certain S.A.C., bombs, whose style immediately translates as "Death to the bosses," "Proletarian vengeance," etc., phrases which no group ever employs.

Finally, "the profession" must make several good commentaries, of the Social-Democratic type, about the serious threat to freedom of expression (we know that ours is more threatened by the profession itself, but here we have them in a trap, and we can profit from it). Emphasize that this has not been seen in France since the raid of the Young Patriots against L'Age d'or,[4] etc. And, to detourne [Heinrich] Heine: when one starts burning films, one will soon thereafter burn people. After the slightly moralizing attack against pornography, this is worse, etc.

Strike while the iron is hot. Moreover, it will be necessary for G.T.C. to reprint the reel that was destroyed and stolen; and I believe that it would be prudent to have a third copy (for foreign distribution). It would also be necessary to instruct young Mitterand on the genre of communiques that he might have to issue quickly, if pressure of this type is renewed. Moreover, I believe that he would be strengthened if he was convinced that it was purely and simply a question of repression. Since Mitterand now finds himself, despite himself, mixed up in all this, might you not explain to him that this film has many enemies among the enemies of freedom, with the result that he will have merit and courage in the affair? This would be a kind of compensation.

See you soon. Best wishes,

[1] Frederick Mitterand, owner of the Olympic film theater (where the projection of the film The Society of the Spectacle was interrupted by a commando unit that seized the film reel).

[2] Translator's note: Founded in 1969 as an alternative to traditional universities, the Universite de Vincennes was the home of such well-known "post-structuralist" philosophers and sociologists as Michel Serris, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. Debord's dislike of Vincennes theorists was in part a response to their theories, but also to their means of supporting themselves. Michel Foucault "undertook a number of research projects for the Ministere de l'Equipment in the 1970s [...] Many well known sociologists and philosophers participated in research financed by this Ministry, such as Deleuze and Guattari who also undertook contract research [...] Lefebvre points out that recuperation has taken a specific form in the years after 1968 in that technocrats got the critics themselves to work out what would be applicable out of the radical critique. Many Marxists sociologists at this time accepted contracts from State ministries."

[3] The Civil Action Service, a Gaullist militia created in 1959 and dissolved by governmental decision in 1982.

[4] On 3 December 1930, militants from extreme-Right leagues sacked Studio 28, at which Luis Bunuel's film L'Age d'or was being screened. The Prefect of Police took the attack as a pretext to prohibit the film.

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

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