from Guy Debord

To Jaap Kloosterman
23 February 1981
Dear Jaap:

I am not extremely surprised by the evolution of your relations with Arthur.[1] Ever since the day that he had the cold audacity to falsely report a conversation that he had with me, in front of witnesses moreover, and that (in addition) concerned a question that was completely without importance for all of us, I have recognized in him the dishonest bureaucratic temperament, with its taste for hostile maneuvres, even if they are stupidly doomed to failure. This aspect of his personality, which perhaps increases with age, will end up obscuring and dominating what he can be as a revolutionary and a historian. The amusing law that dominates this kind of praxis is a bureaucrat is always destined to be out-maneuvred by and subjected to a bureaucrat who is more beastly than he is (it is unquestionable that Trotsky was much more intelligent that Stalin). Thus, this poor game has led Arthur, like a marionette, to follow around an imbecile of the dimensions of [Rudolf] De Jong,[2] whose essence I clearly recognized by reading a single letter from her to the Italian section of the SI twelve years ago! Moreover, I indicated this to Arthur and Maria,[3] who confirmed that he was absolutely inconsequential. I have always thought that he remained the essential cause of the hostility that Arthur felt for me, since all of our encounters were always cordial and we never had the least conflict about anything. Not just a hundred times, but a thousand times, and without ever finding a single exception, I have experienced the constant fact that people do not forgive you for the good counsel that you have given them when they have not followed it and suffer the consequences. For all that, I have never modified my behavior, because prudent wisdom is not my strong point.

The only distressing thing about your current conflict, which Arthur seems to find completely insignificant and without interest, is that the complete edition of Bakunin[4] risks suffering greatly: once again, after a hundred years, for he who truly held the palm among cursed authors! I hope that you can arrive at an arrangement with Champ Libre that can prevent this misfortune.

I cannot at all accept the publication of my Preface[5] in the same book as Gianfranco Sanguinetti's Terrorism.[6] I think it's a very good thing to publish Terrorism, which is completely accurate on its central question and is full of valuable arguments concerning it. It is [however] extremely deficient theoretically, and its pretentious tone is most disagreeable, when he has the insolence to treat -- and reduce to a ridiculous schemata -- the historical and strategic question of armed struggle in general and the particular case of all terrorism as it has existed in many diverse forms throughout history.

My refusal to bring these two texts together is based upon the most serious reasons. After the end of our organizational links in 1972, for several years I maintained a very close collaboration with Gianfranco on several projects and very good personal relations [as well]. But all this is over. At the moment that Moro[7] was kidnapped, I wrote to Gianfranco[8] and revealed the truth of this entire affair, advised him to reveal it [in Italy] immediately and, at the same time, go underground, since he was, in any case, in great danger, because the enemy knew that – having written Censor[9] – he was probably the only one in Italy who could possibly reveal this truth at that very moment, that is to say, when the enemy absolutely didn’t want to run this risk, when Moro was still alive, etc. (To reveal what had taken place once the affair was over, almost forgotten, and other spectacles had taken the stage, would only express ‘an opinion,’ although a dangerous one, certainly.) For reasons that have remained very obscure to me, Gianfranco then responded that my thesis – which he subsequently took up – was brilliant and ingenious, but he believed that it was true Leftists who then held Moro captive. Nevertheless, this was a belief that no slightly reasonable person, very up-to-date with the Italian situation until the day before these events, could entertain.

I have asked Floriana [Lebovici] to send you a photocopy of a recent letter from Gerard [Lebovici] that was sent to the first French publishers of Terrorism, which is a document that will be published in Volume II of the Correspondence.[10] I cannot tell you which is the better of the two [French] editions of Terrorism; I read it in the Italian. People say that [Jean-Francois] Martos' translation is the better one. For the other details, you can write directly to Gianfranco Sanguinetti at [address omitted] in Italy.

If you can publish the Preface by itself, you will obviously have the agreement of Champ Libre. To my knowledge, it has already been published, outside of Italy, in English[11] and in Greek, and it is now being translated in Spain.

You must see how one now has the opportunity to serious shake Spain, and not leave to the Basques the monopoly on refusal, which is moreover a localized refusal. The book about Segovia only expounds upon the beginning of the process. The English, French, Italians, etc. are already involved in the struggle, and I think that you must translate all this for Holland. One has quickly obtained a remarkable effect: the liberation, not of all prisoners, but precisely the most guilty and the best, by a truly comic "denial of justice" that the reason of the State chose precisely to avoid what could only rekindle the fire on the side of the "libertarian front." But, two months later, Suarez's politics of relative weakness towards the autonomous regions, the demand for divorce and especially in matters of the repression of the armed struggle -- all this has caused the first pronunciamiento rampant[12] in the history of Spain. This is a pronunciamiento without bragging and spectacularly contradicted, but which follows its inexorable course: the army hunts for the Prime Minister and one speaks of constitutional rules to apply to the case; the bishops reunite and make it known that they have been discovered to be enemies of the divorce; the "government" -- probably the first in the world to do so -- reveals that a detained Basque [separatist] was tortured and killed the day before, thus causing the Basques to revolt, while Saurez wanted to appease them and the army wanted to force them into a state of siege; one sanctions several police torturers and all the Spanish Chiefs of Police resign at the same time; etc. In brief, two successive politics prove the accuracy of the analyses in the tract A los libertarios:[13] 1) it is necessary "that one does not see an internationalist revolutionary current reappear in Spain"; and 2) it is time to confess that "all the pleasures of permitted democracy have already seen their best days."

The Russian bureaucrats' delay in intervening against the Polish Revolution proves in the most flagrant way their weakness today in Russia itself. Because this intervention was absolutely necessary for them and was so from the end of August [1980], because their system cannot accept a union of the Western type. They wanted to accept such a union for a while, and this union -- as everywhere else -- was incapable of combating wildcat strikes. The peasants became involved, it became like Hungary [in 1956], in which Walesa, the Pope and Kania tried to contain a revolution by weak exhortations. In the end, it would be necessary to order the Red Army to advance against the millions of "White Guards, aristocrats and fascists" who occupied all of the factories. But the morsel would be harder to digest than Kronstadt.

With our best wishes,

P.S. If you translate In girum,[14] I can send you a list of detournements. The address below is good until the end of May. Afterwards, Champ Libre can forward mail to me.

[1] Arthur Lehning. [Translator's note: the Director of the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam and editor of Mikhail Bakunin's The Complete Works.]

[2] Translator's note: associated with the International Institute of Social History.

[3] Maria Hunink, collaborator with Arthur Lehning. [Translator's note: Hunink was also the Curator of the International Institute of Social History.]

[4] An enterprise in which Editions Champ Libre was engaged.

[5] Preface to the Fourth Italian Edition of "The Society of the Spectacle." [Translator's note: first published in French in 1979.]

[6] On Terrorism and the State, by Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[7] Aldo Moro, president of the Democratic-Christian Party and instigator of the "Historic Compromise" with the Communist Party, was kidnapped on 16 March 1978 and assassinated by the so-called Red Brigades. His body was discovered on 19 May 1978.

[8] Translator's note: see letter dated 21 April 1978. Sanguinetti answered these objections in his letter to Mustapha Khayati (December 2012).

[9] Translator's note: The Veritable Report on the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy, written by Gianfranco Sanguinetti and signed "Censor."

[10] Letter from Gerard Lebovici to Jean-Francois Labrugere and Philippe Rouyau (Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance vol. 2, pp. 70-72.)

[11] Translator's note: Published by Chronos Publications, London.

[12] Translator's note: creeping insurrection.

[13] Translator's note: an open letter written by Guy Debord and dated 1 September 1980.

[14] Translator's note: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, Guy Debord's last film, released in 1978.

(Abridged version published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondence, Volume II, November 1981. Full version published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 6: Janvier 1979-Decembre 1987 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2006. Footnotes by Alice Becker, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. Footnote #8 updated May 2013.)

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