from Guy Debord

To Eduardo Rothe
Thursday, 21 February 1974
Dear Eduardo:

You forgot to take your musical instrument, the name of which I do not know.[1] I will return it to you tomorrow. I will also send you the pamphlet on the orientation debate of 1970; I will buy another copy, and I believe that it merits being read very attentively.

Although the little cunts who published it, looking to earn a few pennies that they will fight over, certainly do not like me (I have already told you how I treated [Daniel] Denevert), they find themselves obliged by the force of facts to objectively be "Debordists."[2] This dossier shows quite well who made the critique that dissolved the SI, and how the miserable, decadent situs submitted to everything, hoping to shelter themselves in a shameful silence. And the last makers of "critiques of the pro-situs," when they wanted -- years after the battle -- to abstractly repeat something thereupon, found themselves constrained, by their misfortune, to show their real work. Thus they shut themselves into the trap of pretentious passivity and retardation; at the same time they published documents that are quite instructive for the hundred people who are interested in the details and [yet] who are not capable of discovering them all in the "Circular."[3] These hundred people are not well served by this mass of secondary texts that comes to crowd [out] a serious book.

But, for us, there is no longer any importance to attribute to the anecdotes, so clear and so simple, that come from the final period of the SI. This is the period that you knew, and it is what you are somewhat carried to overvalue. And although it is useful that you now know several bits of information concerning the very end that you lacked, all this has become merely archeological: I have not thought about it for a long time. The formation of the SI, or what has taken place since 1970-1971, is far more important.

The operation undertaken in 1970-72, so necessary, has been very successful. As for any thing that is done and settled, one too often has a tendency -- even in front of the best "public" -- to no longer envision or imagine what was risked (for example: a small mendacious party as the sequel to the SI, the realization of the brief ambitions of the ridiculous Vaneigem and Vienet, etc.). I would say, detourning a famous Asian proverb: "For those who ride the SI, the difficulty is in descending."[4]

To my charming film editor, who has known me for several months and who finally asked me one evening what became of the situationists and what my position had been then, I responded with a just satisfaction: "I made them disappear." This is true in all senses of the word, and perhaps this example appears to you worthy of meditation for adorning your "History of crime."[5]

What today prevents the Vaneigems from writing -- even in the quantity of their fuckery, they have been very sober -- is the fact that the epoch no longer simply demands a vague response to the question "What is to be done?" (they could formerly say a few banalities, becoming always more comical: for example, that the strike at Kiruna[6] was on this side of the Paris Commune, whereas it is, rather, a question of surpassing it! And they think in petto[7] this "astute" response: "to do" what Debord would do). It is now a question, if one wants to remain in the present, of responding to this question almost every week: "What is happening?" It is this richness of the return of modern history that puts their poverty into the light of final judgment, and condemns them to silence.

The principle work that, it appears to me, one must engage in -- as the complementary contrary to The Society of the Spectacle, which described frozen alienation (and the negation that is implicit in it) -- is the theory of historical action. One must advance strategic theory in its moment, which has come. At this stage and to speak schematically, the basic theoreticians to retrieve and develop are no longer Hegel, Marx and Lautreamont, but Thucydides, Machiavelli and Clausewitz.

Furthermore, the cinema -- as one agrees in this old debate -- has (when it is well handled) a power for agitation before which [even] the best issue of Internationale Situationniste appears poor. You will see: I learn that my film will be screened at the Racine towards the end of March; more exactly, at the moment in which another film that starts screening on 6 March will be withdrawn.

It perhaps would be necessary that one again speaks, [but] more seriously, of the "Friends of the International,"[8] which we have evoked "ridendo e scherzando."[9]

Best wishes,

[1] A Jew's-harp.

[2] Translator's note: Given their limited choice in the matter, the pro-situs' only other option would have been to be "Vaneigemists," which no one wanted to be.

[3] Translator's note: a reference to the subtitle of The Veritable Split in the International: A Circular of the Situationist International, published by Champ Libre in 1972.

[4] The Chinese proverb concerns [riding] a tiger.

[5] Written in the margin: "The Asian -- perhaps suspecting you of an excess of economic Marxism? -- has typed here 'History of copper.'" [Translator's note: the "Asian" is Alice Becker-Ho, also known as Alice Debord.]

[6] Translator's note: The strikers in Kiruna were mentioned at the delegates' conference of the Situationist International, held in East Germany from 17-19 January 1970. In Document Beyond Debate, one of his many contributions to the "orientation debate," Guy Debord denounced the "wooden language addressed to the miners of Kiruna."

[7] Translator's note: Latin for "in the secret of the heart."

[8] Translator's note: the signatories of Is the Reichstag Burning? which was co-written by Eduardo Rothe.

[9] "Ridendo e scherzando, abbiamo fatto le undici" (laughing and joking, we arrive at the 11th hour), which is the equivalent of "A good day for the stupid woman," the formula for a morning burial.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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