from Jean-Francois Martos

To Guy Debord
Paris, 11 September 1990
Dear Guy:

To respond to your question on the subject of Benoist in your most recent letter,[1] it is not so much Gorbachev who has [allegedly] pilfered you, but rather the Half-Wit [le Benet] himself and quite sanctimoniously,[2] thanks to a clumsy, voluntary incomprehension. In this particular case of a spontaneous recuperation that today sprawls almost everywhere, it is pleasing to see the cheap finery of reactionary thought annex the concepts of the integrated and diffuse spectacular,[3] so as to combat the "new habits of Leninist strategy." He ends up with that bit of simple obviousness after discussing Gorbachev, all of the meanings of the notions of disinformation and lure, integrated strategy and communication, after opposing Clausewitz to Sun-Tzu: when one has passed one's competitive teacher's exam and become a professor of philosophy, an under-director of the History Chair of Modern Civilization at the College of France and President of the European Center of International Relations and Strategy, could one ever publish anything other than Benoiteries? The boldest does not consist of wanting to eradicate the unfortunate consequences of "sixty-eighter nonchalance" from the heads of the children, nor in making apologies for the most savage economic liberalism, but in the idea that it is in a certain way necessary to abolish the spectacle by a return to the pre-spectacular stage, though this implicitly extols the restoration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire! Austriae est imperare orbi universo.[4] Otto von Hapsburg, who so much admires our integrated strategy, did not fail the motto of his dynasty: visiting Budapest at the time of the most recent soccer world championship,[5] the Archduke -- in response to a journalist who told him that he had arrived on the very day of the Austria-Hungary match -- responded smugly: but against who? As for the author of Marx is Dead [Jean Marie Benoist], he passed away several days ago, rejoining the nothingness of his thought.

When you said in your letter to the "foreign comrade"[6] that the Encyclos[7] had chosen to cover for [Guy] Fargette "with an ill-advised pride at least," other motivations are also quite possible.

a) It is of course a matter of conserving to the very end their principal reservoir of "new" ideas: which is vital for someone like [Jaime] Semprun, devoted to indefinitely and "nicely" repeating the same quarterly critique (and you know what compromises literary people make so as to prolong their miserable careers). Moreover, you have remarked that your correspondent had been led to "furnish ideas and arguments in a scholarly discussion on Poland" and to "re-read all of the Italian dossier." The Encyclos engaged in the same attempt with [Jean-Pierre] Baudet at the beginning of [19]86. If the hasty departure of Fargette left the Encyclos in a truly desperate situation, this was also because -- in addition to having swept the last crumbs of their "prestige" after such a compromised support -- he had in a certain way left them in the lurch for ideas.

b) But it is even more serious: I now also believe that they were at least secretly and shamefully shaken by his arguments; that they conceded a half-hearted muss es sein?[8] A somewhat forced es muss sein,[9] because they really wondered if there were not several "exaggerations" in the Comments.[10] Because, when one reads in issue #12 of The Bad Days Will End,[11] (there is no reason to doubt Fargette's statements): "What I affirm with respect to the Situationist International refers to previous discussions, dating back several months, in which members of the EdN [Encyclopedia of Nuisances] had expressed in order to disperse considerations similar to mine (...) The problem was that there were subjects that they dared to approach verbally but not in writing"; and when one sees, in the same pamphlet, what he affirms about the SI and the Comments, the "skillful anti-Debordism" that you evoked concerning the Nuisances has now taken an overwhelming aspect. What the Encyclos actually reproached Fargette for, but not without being to so, is that he cried out loud and clear what they silently thinking!

All this clarifies even more cruelly the central aspect of Semprun: he is fundamentally not a revolutionary, but he must ceaselessly simulate the appearance that he is one (he has no other exchange value [faire-valoir], nor any "spare theory," and so he must play his role until the end; his motto, like that of the EdN, is "provided that this lasts!"). This is no doubt why he loved so much those who seemed to see several essential questions falsely.

"Operation Crush" (you will find attached[12] another example, on a larger scale and in other context) was briskly conducted. To the extent that the Nuisances vampirized Fargette, he Fargettized them in return. In other words, Fargette let himself be vampirized so as to better Fargettize them. Perhaps they even asked for it: he who is Fargettized wants to be so. In this little game, he who traps the last one will be trapped [and] it will be the Encyclos who will be crushed and to the very bone. And when Fargette brusquely withdrew, he still had several good cards to put on the table.

Semprun and Fargette find themselves on the same terrain of "anti-Debordism," dissimulated by one and notoriously by the other. Moreover, Semprun jealously admires Fargette -- who is more cunning than he is -- for what he does not know how to do. But what distinguishes them is that Fargette has no ambitions for a literary career -- his aims are elsewhere -- and that, if Semprun secretly learns a revolution will succeed, it would be for even more derisory reasons. Fargette has understood all this and this is why he had such good sport criticizing the EdN: "The reference to what must bring art into social critique inevitably reverses itself through a cynical utilization of the social question to make art (...) Their fascination with writing texts comes from what is for them a veritable substitute for an artistic inspiration that they henceforth know is impossible (...) They are secretly convinced that the world will not change and that the only thing that matters is getting people to speak of them" (pages 35, 3 and 5 of The Bad Days Will End #12).

The modesty displayed by Fargette and Semprun's "sense of proportion" constitute another trait shared by these two ex-accomplices. Such affectations did not escape the salubrious lucidity of La Rochefoucauld:[13] "Humility is often only a feigned submission, with which one serves oneself to subject others; it is an artifice of pride that abases itself to elevate itself; and although its transforms itself in a thousand ways, it is never better disguised and more capable of deceiving when it hides itself under the figure of humility."

In the same way that The Gravediggers of the Old World[14] appeared in a more mordant epoch like the shocking thing[15] in radicalism, the EdN -- radicalism's chic thing -- is indeed the pure product of the consensus of the 1980s and this consensual negation is already headed down the slope of integrated negation.

It is certain that, through "the will to spectacular vainglory," the Encyclopedists have led brought to adopt simulated arguments when they pretend to discover the unexpected and unheard-of excesses of the era when they claim "to find other unexpected failings" in Fargette. Furthermore, if one considers that not an insignificant share of the pro-situs after [19]68 have become advertisers, mediatics,[16] experts in culture and thus also, inevitably, agents of influence and [even] more secret surveillance -- in short, disinformers of "type a" have become disinformers of "type b"[17] -- then it will be interesting to see what road the Nuisances will take, because they can't all be [government] ministers.

When Fargette reproaches you (page 36 and elsewhere) for having hurt -- and continuing to hurt -- the EdN, he obviously reproaches you with hurting what he wanted to do. And when he attacks the Comments for having transformed the theory of the spectacle into a "scandalous police conception of history," it is perhaps himself whom he would like to cover. He now advances the idea that the theory of the spectacle must pass into the background of social critique (page 6) and he confusedly affirms that the conjoined surpassing of art and politics is neither "possible" nor "desirable" (page 35; [Jacques] Baynac already said that the concept of spectacle is not operative; one sees where all this rancidity comes from). In its place, he advocates the "patient constitution of a coherent eclecticism," in reality a vague primitive syncretism that would function as a pole of attraction for the supporters of the orthodox ultra-Left that is attracted to situationism or the Frankfurt School or vice versa: this "open method" thus aims at fleecing many people -- a little like L'Antenne? As a "pole of negation" to "influence theories"?

A little like [Serge] Quadruppani, Fargette would also like to provide a completely reassuring interpretation of the most worrisome aspects of the integrated spectacular: "Things seem to him [Debord] even more terrible than they are in reality" (page 35). The "exaggerations" of your analysis are crudely explained by several artificial psychological postulates: "morbid irrationality," "scandalous and enlightened defeatism on the meaning of all activity," "desire for the accession" of "the historical catastrophe" as "secret revenge on humanity." And it is by playing on the meaning of the word "bureaucracy" that he can declare that "the situationist theory crosses over its disintegration point." Knowing that he was not born yesterday, these points especially show that he also feigns to understand the Comments. And could he do otherwise, when it is a question of men tasked with infiltrating, contradicting and preventively eliminating authentic critique to the profit of a false one, or when it is a question of confidential texts and several manifestly intelligent points that serve as the first degree of initiation, etc? It has already been some time since inept discussions have been regularly re-started concerning the "ideas" of this curious person (who is at once alone and who knows everyone on the "Left" of Leninism) and ingenuous judgments have weighed one and then the other, a little in the manner of the adherents of [Robert] Faurisson who wore down certain weak minds.

After having spit on the rioters and the occupiers of the Sorbonne in 1986, then quite skillfully manipulated by the Encyclopedists, Fargette now pursues his undermining efforts in broad daylight. Negation has already been removed from this thought; it is now necessary that thought be deprived of the negative. The greatest ambition of the integrated spectacular is for people like Fargette to become revolutionaries and that revolutionaries become Fargettes.[18] And Gondi[19] adds: "There are things of which the basis is not good and the appearance is bad, and which, for this reason, are always very dangerous. It will thus be necessary to observe closely the continuation of these operations."

If one can henceforth "publish a novel so as to prepare an assassination,"[20] one can also publish a novel so as to designate an assassin, real or supposed. [Marc] Francelet[21] seems to have wanted Chateau to fly off the handle -- for reasons that one doubts but that remain to be precisely determined -- without success, it seems. Also, the pressure grows: "The name of the assassin is at the tips of their pens," cry out in unison Le Match and L'Evenement (where [Jacques] Derogy is considered the godfather of video).

I stop here to read The Princes of Jargon.[22] Look out, those who chatter in Argomuche[23] like snitches, they will be impeded by paving stones![24]

Best wishes to you both.

[1] Letter from Debord to Martos, dated 24 February 1990.

[2] The French word employed here, benoitement, puns wickedly on Benoist's name.

[3] The French here is spectaculaire integre. This must be translated as "spectacular," not "spectacle," because Debord's text -- Comments on the Society of the Spectacle -- carefully distinguishes the two terms. It would appear that the author's intention was to "detourn" the theory he originally presented in The Society of the Spectacle.

[4] Latin for "It falls to Austria to rule the whole world."

[5] Spanish in original.

[6] Though a portion of this letter is reproduced in Martos' Correspondance avec Guy Debord, it is not dated, the name of the addressee is "blacked out," it is impossible to determine how much of the letter itself has been redacted and what remains of it does not strike us as particularly significant. And so we have not translated it.

[7] The publishers of the Encyclopedia of Nuisances (EdN)

[8] German for "must it be?"

[9] German for "it must be."

[10] Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle (1988).

[11] Guy Fargette's journal.

[12] Note by Jean-Francois Martos: Three articles about the role of Moscow in the "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia ("Czechoslovakia: Precisions by the BBC on the Conspiracy of the KGB that unleashed the Revolution," in Le Monde, 1 June 1990; "Czechoslovakia: A Revolution under the Influence," in Le Figaro, 31 May 1990; [and] Liberation for 31 May 1990). "Operation Crush" was the codename of the conspiracy.

[13] Francois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680).

[14] See the letter from Debord to Martos dated 29 August 1981.

[15] In 1982, an advertising campaign for the Parisian Metro used the slogan ticket chic, ticket choc.

[16] The French here, mediatiques, has no equivalent in English. It means people employed, not just in the media, but in the spectacle as a whole.

[17] "Type a" are "disinformers due to impotent and envious passion" and "type b" are "disinformers by trade." See letter from Debord to Martos dated 24 February 1990.

[18] Detournement of a declaration in Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle: "[...] the highest ambition of the integrated spectacular is still that secret agents become revolutionaries, and that revolutionaries become secret agents."

[19] Jean Francois Paul de Gondi (1614-1679), better known as Cardinal de Retz.

[20] A quote from Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle.

[21] In 1990, the co-author with Francois Caviglioi of Masters, a novel based upon the assassination of Gerard Lebovici.

[22] Written by Debord's wife, Alice Becker-Ho. Martos must have had access to the book's manuscript, because it was not published until 1993 (Gallimard).

[23] The argot of butchers and slaughterhouse workers.

[24] Written in argot: Gare a ceux qui jaspinent l'argomuche commes des baltrinages, ils y entravent queu dalle!

(Published in Jean-Francois Martos, Correspondance avec Guy Debord, Le fin mot de l'Histoire, August 1998. Translated from the French and, where necessary from the German, by NOT BORED! July 2007. Footnotes by the translator, except where noted.)

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