from Jean-Pierre Baudet

To Guy Debord
Paris, 3 July 1987
Dear Guy:

It certainly does not fall to me to develop a comparison between the S[ituationist] I[nternational] and the EdN[1]: there are people who are better-placed for that. But when one sees an epistolary cacophony[2] claim, without progressing an inch, the appearance of coherence, one no doubt was not wrong to look at it a little longer, by remembering the concern for public clarification that characterized another journal, in other times.[3]

It seems to me that the EdN hardly risks excluding its members; I even begin to wonder if it has any. I believe I can affirm, from several examples, that those who write or have written for this journal -- thus qualifying as encyclopedists -- are never advised of the decisions taken "for the encyclopedists."[4] Moreover, [Guy] Fargette himself was also among its editors, who at first defended him and who defend themselves for having defended him,[5] but never was his status as encyclopedist recognized or even touched upon.

But who are the encyclopedists, if they are not those who more or less episodically write for the journal? If it is, rather, a question of a secret Alliance, endowed with a chirographic right to the exclusive private property of the name, the prestige and the decisions of the EdN? Nothing is less impossible, since one also says of them that they "are brothers, who never attack each other, nor disclose their dissensions to the public" ("Rules of the International Brothers").[6]

If such a subtle and secret definition exists,[7] a permanent redefinition of the frontiers between the inside and the outside must indeed arrange things; to permit the annexation of the benefits (the articles) without exposing oneself to the inconveniences (the public's judgment of the machinations and personalities of the authors of those articles). Here the retrenched stockholders, there a variable (a very variable) capital. Thus, one obviously abolishes the danger of which the SI remains the most extreme example: clashes and splits in the name of the coherence and progress of the defended ideas. On the other hand, a field that is indefinitely open to opportune manipulations, propitious for the absence of open conflict, hardly offers possibilities for progress. Time must become strangely abstract in it: it inscribes itself nowhere. The hierarchical center places itself above temporal flux and its snags, Olympus drapes itself in the clouds, face veiled from the changing sky.

The EdN, thus prohibiting any public explosion of the nucleus, likewise prohibiting practical solidarity that is honestly recognized with its satellites, can only exclude those who were never part of it: the exterior, thus all that remains. A vast programme.

Thus, I believe to have provoked the anger of Semprun, Sebastiani & Co., not due to the divergences of appreciation of December [19]86; not due to a tone estimated to have been excessive or unjust with respect to Fargette; but uniquely due to the fact (unpremeditated, moreover) of having demanded that they clearly defend or reject someone; thus to situate this person in relation to them; thus to show openly who is an encyclopedist; what are his rights; what are his duties -- to speak a little crudely. In other words, I expected from them what they could not say and did not want to show.

If such a realpolitik actually characterizes the EdN, as it seems to me it does, one would certainly not fail to find in it several comical illusions on a supposed supercession of the SI, and one must at least recognize that the EdN possesses the irrefutable superiority over the SI in that twenty years have elapsed between the latter and the former, and that the historic confrontation of ideas has been subject -- in the inside, from one journal to another -- to a completely modern therapy: in the SI one travels through the moments of a process; in the EdN one now formally organizes the forgetting of their existence.

I must leave to others, in other circumstances, the concern for finding the link between such personal arrangements, and the style and form of the [respective] journals. I no longer doubt that it would be instructive to assemble several views of the rigid but discreet criteria that distinguish the noble and the noumenal encyclopedist from the common and phenomenal encyclopedist.[8] I know too little of this honorable association, something that I have not, moreover, complained about.

One will regret that by virtue of such a mode of organization, the journal [the EdN] must produce a surprising appeal for the entirety of the pro-situ residue of many years, with the result that one would eventually find within it the quasi-totality of those with whom Jeff [Jean-Francois Martos] or I have had disagreements with: but these would of course be "autonomous individuals." It would thus be necessary to console oneself with finding out that, at the end of the day, no one is truly led into error by reading the journal itself: the intelligent reader finds in it just theses, although they are quite redundant, but nowhere does the EdN seek to accredit the idea that it would already be, in private, the direct democracy that it defends on the historical plane. And this intelligent reader perhaps perceives the signs that indicate that the EdN is not such a democracy.

If my elucidations -- of which it is quite necessary to admit rest upon a very limited empirical foundation -- are not entirely wrong, one must then explain the reasons why someone who is intelligent and well instructed in the historic example of the consequences inherent in each mode of organization, as Semprun is, can not only fall into such a snare, but even be its principal instigator. I do not believe that he is capable of deceiving himself about such premises for an instant: it would thus be necessary that he has submitted to the influence of terribly imperative impulses to so misrecognize the situation and to favor what would be, in such a hypothesis, very much beneath his critical spirit and personal qualities. I confess that I do not know why somebody inspired in me as much esteem as sympathy; this leaves me perplexed.

I attach Books I and II[9] as previewed. I have kept a photocopy, so that I can, if you wish, comment upon -- from a distance -- the points that seem litigious to you. In all frankness, I do not think that problems still exist concerning the linguistic elements. My corrections, which are not very numerous, can still be judged with respect to Vatry's text,[10] which remains readable. In this way, you will see in all cases what is lacking or does not work, according to me. I thus believe that my rectifications no longer need to be judged by their relations to the German text, but for the faults that they carry in themselves (awkwardness, equivocal or inappropriate formulations, etc.). What I most fear is having added to the text fragments that break the unity or fluidity.

I have sometimes added notes, especially biographical ones, of which the opportuneness is questionable. All these notes are marked (quite stupidly) NdT [Note by Translator], whereas the translator is Vatry. It would thus be necessary to change these marks to NdEditor at the printer.

The well-named Editions Complexe, champion of all categories of typographical error, will publish -- under the high command of the eternal Chaliand, turncoat from Berger-Levrault -- the Campaign of 1812 in Russia [by Carl von Clausewitz] in a translation from 1900 (Niessel?). Will this volume adversely affect Champ Libre's "Complete Works"?

I will be in Paris from 10 to 30 July and so will send you the rest of Vom Kriege at the beginning of August, except if countermanded by you.

Good "vacation" . . .
Best wishes,

[1] The Encyclopedia of Nuisances, founded in 1984 by Jaime Semprun and Christian Sebastiani.

[2] Author's note: Sebastiani's logical somersaults [in his letter dated 30 May 1987] would not bring shame to the EdF [the Electrical Company of France], the responsible parties of which never fail to be ecstatic about having to place a supplementary filter or security valve after a revelatory leak: since -- filled with respect for his own hoax -- Sebastiani tranquilly advances the idea that Fargette's rectification of the "exhibits" was a credit to his virtuous character and not to the fact that I forced him to make it.

[3] Internationale Situationniste, published from 1958 to 1969.

[4] Author's note: the EdF advises its victims of the accomplished fact; the EdN does not.

[5] Author's note: An "autonomous individual," according to the disciplined student Sebastiani.

[6] See Mikhail Bakunin's "Hundred International Brothers."

[7] Author's note: Is Sebastiani the owner of this term, as he is of Masperization?

[8] In the writings of Immanuel Kant, the noumenon is an object that can be reached by intellectual intuition, while the phenomenon can only be reached through the five senses.

[9] Of Carl von Clausewitz's On War (Vom Kriege).

[10] Vatry translated Clausewitz into French. See Debord's letter dated 20 November 1984.

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

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