from Guy Debord

To J.-L. Jollivet[1]
8 December 1961
Dear comrades

I agree to send you the two nominated negatives,[2] if you aren't too pressed for time (I myself don't have them on hand). You can have them in 10 to 15 days.

To respond to the question of your letter of 4 December [1961] on the motives for my departure from Pouvoir Ouvrier and the possible theoretical divergences between the situationists and this organization, I send you a copy of my [5 May 1961] letter of resignation, of which you haven't any knowledge. I add to it a text previously written in opposition to several stupidities published in the S[ocialisme] ou B[arbarie] journal.

As to the letter of 5 May, several copies have been circulated in Pouvoir Ouvrier, then quickly lost in the sands. Finally, I point out that the first editorial note in I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #6 must be read as a critique of the positions of Pouvoir Ouvrier. That is to say, of the notorious insufficiency in practice, which doesn't go without a serious theoretical insufficiency at a certain level (I mean by that: as [a lack of] critique of traditional politics on the extreme Left, for which, without going into detail, they have reason not to make).

I believe that these documents must be accompanied by a summary clarification of the connections between Pouvoir Ouvrier and the Situationist International [SI]:

Last year Canjuers [Daniel Blanchard] made contact with the SI in Paris, and, after sufficiently long discussions took place between him and I, we drafted "Preliminaries," which isn't, as you have written in N[otes] C[ritiques] #1, a publication of Pouvoir Ouvrier.[3] This text was in fact published by the SI, as a platform for discussion proposed to the entirety of the situationists and the militants of Pouvoir Ouvrier. But, from the beginning, it was presented as the sole responsibility of Canjuers and myself, without engaging any of the others. It was the exposition of what, it seemed to us, must be accepted by all (thus it is a little weak on several points). Later on, it was discussed at length and finally accepted by the SI; but it seems to me that one didn't start to read it in Pouvoir Ouvrier until ten months later. In the meantime, Canjuers left France for a year, and this discussion came to a stand-still. Several situationists had meanwhile begun to participate, in a sufficiently badly defined way, in the activities of Pouvoir Ouvrier: in France, because the current, archaic but invasive problems of local capitalism made it disagreeable not to be tied to a political group; in Belgium, because, after the strike, the moment appeared favorable to launch an organization (called Pouvoir Ouvrier Belgique [POB]).

Where are we now? A tendency, very weak from all points of view, which, after the discussions of the [most recent] national conference, had tried to constitute itself in Pouvoir Ouvrier in May-June 1961, has been able to do nothing and its members are now dispersed. The subsequent evolution confirms to me the judgments of my letter of 5 May [1961], so much so that [it now appears] they weren't severe enough: I have had the occasion to read, three months after its publication, an Internal Bulletin (#25)[4] that recounts the debates of this national conference. It is so comical in its falsity that it no longer appears very useful to us to discuss with those who produce -- or cover-up -- such a clumsy farce (the case of Canjuers become belatedly resurgent). Thus, the last situationists have withdrawn from POB in November [1961]. In Paris, I no longer have contact on the personal plane with the one or two Pouvoir Ouvrier militants (and this quite ruined by the pressure of the others).

We estimate that the work of creating a new revolutionary organization will be very difficult, theoretically and practically: less hurried and less casual. But, on the other hand, the constitution of this organization can be the point of departure for a very rapid development; contrary to the patient administration of a small capital of militants that enriches itself 6% every year.

I ask you now to take good note of this information (see the precise terms of the letter to Jollivet) that I have been obliged to give you, not to any other counsel (inside or outside of Pouvoir Ouvrier).

I know too little the conditions in which you find yourselves, to know if an adhesion (a critical adhesion, this goes without saying) to Pouvoir Ouvrier signifies an advance or a regression. These two factors, as you well know, are often of the same cloth.

Still, I add that we approve of the Pouvoir Ouvrier's position against Lefortism (which we consider weak in its theoretical premises and offensive in its practical results). You also know that, in the case of Notes Critiques, whose autonomy with respect to Arguments we appreciate very much, we clearly see the same peril of constituting, despite yourselves, a "Leftist cover" for Morin and his fine team; which, to judge in all moderation, appears to us to join together bad faith and imbecility (in the jumble of [Notes Critiques] #22, only the short text [5] by George Buchanan stands apart).

If one of you comes this way, call me.

Quite amicably,
G.-E. Debord

[1] J.-L. Jolliver, editor of the journal Notes Critiques.

[2] The town of Mourenx (on the model of Sarcelles) and the Milwaukee stadium built for 43,000 spectators and [a sufficiently large] parking lot.

[3] A correction appeared in Notes Critiques #2.

[4] April-May 1961.

[5] "For the second revolution," followed by "Towards the second revolution," in issue 25-26.


(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. All footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2005.)



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