from Guy Debord

To the Italian section of the SI
21 February [1969]
Dear friends:

Thank you for the four copies of [The Society of the] Spectacle in the two languages [French and Italian].

My publisher [Guy Buchet] has told me that he will now bring out a second printing, with the result that the crisis [concerning the absence of copies of the book] will doubtlessly soon end.

Attached is a letter from [the Italian pseudo-situationist] Pasquale Alferj: we haven't responded. Coco has written to Raoul [Vaneigem], saying that he will send this person to Brussels. Raoul will not receive him.

As I said during a telephone call to Gianfranco [Sanguinetti], Yvon Chotard also thinks that it would be better if Coco doesn't too soon learn what know [that Coco is a police spy]: this will at least delay the possible denunciations concerning Paris and especially Nantes; as he is in cahoots with the French police, I believe that he is especially interested in Italian revolutionaries to the extent that they have liaisons with France.

I am sending you and Mario [Perniola] my propositions on the organization.[1] They are quite summary; Mario will have many things to add to them. But I believe that the essential gets said, that is, against Mario's extreme "federalism."

See you soon,

[1] See below. [Translator: this text was adopted in Venice, Italy, on 30 September 1969, at the 8th Conference of the SI. The only changes to it were several additions, which we have indicated below by placing those additions within brackets.]

To the Italian section of the SI

In response to the "Project for the organization of the SI," this is a rough sketch of organizational statutes, which I present as only a personal contribution: I have borne in mind the first reactions of our friends here, after reading Mario's project, but I communicate this text to you before they have read it (20 February 69).

I believe that it will be necessary to foresee a preamble that enunciates the general goals of the SI, its affinities and its differences (as an attempt of general critique to reach an advanced coherence) with respect to the revolutionary councilist organization of which we encourage the formation by the workers of all countries. After this premable, one can already propose the following articles (which were written very quickly, and I do not hold to the precise words, but to the points of view generally evoked):

Participation in the SI and the national groups

1 -- The SI is an international association of individuals who are equal in all aspects of its democratic management, and who have proved -- in general, not in all the details -- an equality of capacities for our theoretical and practical communal activity. The majority decision is executed by all; the minority has the duty to schism if their opposition appears to concern a fundamental question among the bases of accord that were recognized until then.

2 -- The SI organizes its activities on the basis of a division into national groups (or sections?). This "national" criteria is understood in geographical and cultural terms; it is possible, and desirable, that each of the groups is partially international in the composition of its members. Each group is also "national" in the sense that it preoccupies itself with a centralized, advanced activity in a given country, and doesn't look to join to itself regional sub-groups in this country. [A section might envision such a subdivision within itself in certain exceptional geographical conditions, but the SI would continue torelate to that section as a single unit.]

3 -- A member of the SI is ipso facto a member of any national group in which it suits him to announce his decision to live and engage in actual personal participation. Every member of the SI is responsible before the SI as a whole; and the SI is collectively engaged by the known conduct of each of its members.

4 -- The general assembly of all the members of the SI is the only decision-making power concerning the ensemble of its theoretical and practical choices. To the exact extent of practical obstacles to the presence of all of its members, the SI admits the system of delegates who represent each of the known members of the SI; these delegates may or may not be carriers of an imperative mandate. Their decision will be revocable by the members represented by each delegate if these members have revoked their delegate, but not in cases where a delegate has correctly executed a precise mandate.

Organization of the national groups

5 -- Under its sole responsibility, in the framework of the general directives adopted by the whole of the SI, each national group democratically decides its activities and its tactics on its own terrain. On all points, it decides on its publications, contacts and efforts that it judges worthy of being undertaken. If possible, it will publish a journal of which the editorial direction is entirely its own. The efforts and theoretical hypotheses that its members pursue can not be limited by the group, nor by the SI as a whole [-- except in cases in which they are manifestly hostile to the SI's very bases].

6 -- In its zone, each national group is the only judge of its breaks with people outside of itself and of the adhesions to the group: in this case, it only takes responsibility, before the SI as a whole, to criticize everything that lowers the general level of the SI (cf. article 3) or introduces a notable inequality between participants. As soon as its is informed, the SI as a whole automatically recognizes and follows these breaks and adhesions.

7 -- Each national group is master of its exclusions, by immediately furnishing the motivations and all useful documents to all the other groups. In cases in which the facts are contested by the excluded comrades, or even in cases in which another [national] group of the SI demands a new discussion upon the basis of the debate, those who are excluded will be suspended until a general conference of the SI (or a meeting of delegates), which will make the definitive decision. As a general rule, it isn't admissible that theoretical or practical oppositions, even serious ones, will be sanctioned by exclusion before a general meeting of the SI has discussed them. But all practical lapses must be sanctioned quickly, on the spot. [Any divergence or choice that does not require exclusion allows for resignation.]

8 -- On all theoretical or tactical questions that have not been unanimously decided, each member is free to maintain his opinion (without breaking the group's practical solidarity). If the same problems and divergences reoccur on several successive occasions, the members of the SI who find themselves in agreement on one of these options have the right to openly constitute a tendency, and to draft texts to specify and support their point of view, up to the final resolution (by a re-found unanimity, or schism, or even by a practical surpassing of the debate). Such texts can be distributed through the entirety of the SI and, if possible and when the SI has been warned, published outside the group, and can also appear in the publications of one or several [national] groups of the SI. A tendency concerning a problem of general tactics will normally be international (thus tracing a division in several groups).

9 -- In exceptional cases in which a situationist finds himself isolated, and yet active on a terrain of concrete action (a country where he is the only one to act in the name of the SI), he must determine his own activity, but remaining responsible before the SI as a whole.

10 -- At different times, the current national groups can agree to provisionally share their contacts or activities in certain countries where an SI group, for reasons of language or location, doesn't exist. Such a division must never become institutionalized, nor notably increase the importance of one of the groups with respect to the others.

11 -- Each national group will organize its own complete financial autonomy; but, in this domain, it will show, to the extent of its means, its solidarity with other SI groups that might be in need.

Coordination between the groups

12 -- The general conference of the SI must be held as often as possible, with the totality or at least the greatest number of members of the SI who can participate in it: in each case, it will not be held without the presence of at least one delegate from the group that has the greatest difficulties in attending.

13 -- To coordinate the action of the SI in the intervals between conferences, meetings of delegates from the groups will be held as necessary. Each delegate will speak for the exact number of voices of the situationists in the group that has sent him. In cases in which two different positions are held by one or several of these groups, each [delegate] will represent the number of voices that support each position. Any member of the SI can attend these metings of delegates and vote at them: but only with his own voice, which thus will not be accounted for by a delegate.

14 -- A group that can not send a delegate to these meetings has the right to have itself represented by a situationist whom it has chosen from another group, who will carry a specific mandate. However, the choice must be communicated soon enough so that he can refuse to support a mandate if he disapproves of the content. The group that can not be present must then ask that another situationist defends its point of view.

Guy Debord

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 4, 1969-1972. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2005.)

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