from Guy Debord

To Alexander Trocchi
22 April 1963
Dear Alex:

As I telegrammed you when I saw Jean-Charles [Calixte] and thus learned of your error, the roneotyped text that announces the exclusion of Attila Kotanyi is a fake. We know the exact origin of it: Belgian Stalinism (though it was mailed from Paris).

It is necessary to note several points concerning this affair:

1) It has never been the practice of the S[ituationist] I[nternational] to exclude someone without long deliberations, without motives known to everyone. In a word, we know that this is a serious weapon (and we have never used it lightly, because it is a serious weapon, without which we could not maintain and develop our base. We do not make stupid jokes about the idea of exclusion.) I am pained that you could believe that a serious and debatable decision by a group of which you have been a part could be taken without anyone asking your opinion!

2) The style of this falsification is so clearly idiotic and weakly ironic that I regret that, solely on the criteria of the style, you didn't judge that it couldn't have been written by [Raoul] Vaneigem or me. The irony of these sour Stalinists even begins with a parody of your most recent article ("Technique of the coup du monde"). I don't think that we define ourselves as writers. But it seems to me that the questions of language, of communication, are so intimately tied to our collective project that it is a bad sign when we can be mistaken about ourselves on this point. By definition, that which is stupid as action and stupid as "tone" can not have been written by me or by [one of] my friends.

In your letter of 8 April [1963], you already speak of certain "misunderstandings" with us. I am of the same opinion as you: these misunderstandings of detail will be cleared up by more communal explications; and we are fundamentally in agreement.

Meanwhile, I can say that the first attitude to have, in order to avoid misunderstandings and errors of interpretation of our texts (and the collective action of the SI), is to admit, as a working hypothesis from the start, that these are very intelligent texts (even in their "hard" style,[1] which is founded on the detournement of a large number of phrases -- taken from the most important Marxist texts or from modern art -- that, after the 1930-1960 era of miserable sterility in which they walked on their heads, "we put back on their feet").

This false story [concerning the exclusion of Kotanyi] permits one to once again pose the entirety of the problem of the exclusions. I really hope that we don't have enemies in the intellectual milieu in England; that everyone is honest and wants to understand us. We will see. But what is definite is the fact that the conditions of our action on the continent are extremely different. We arouse many people, but all of them aren't with us; many are against us! And against us in every way, with all kinds of violence, of which this fake document is only an ordinary example.

In the entire history of the SI, there have only been three resignations (and one can't retain such people; for example, those who converted back to the Communist Party) and perhaps two dozen exclusions that were absolutely necessary because there have been people who claim kinship with us and yet say and do things that are unacceptable to our communal project. They didn't understand it and didn't approve of it (the second point is dependent on the first). Again, I think that too many have been excluded. But the error lies in having accepted them too quickly in the first place, and not so much in sending them back when we discovered that the credit we gave them was truly too generous and stupid. Personally, I have always struggled against the exclusions by supporting a politics of "the almost closed door." But in those places where we practiced a "politics of the open door" (Germany, Scandanavia), the exclusions were numerous.

The best proof that our action has been successful lies in the fact that, theoretically and practically, we are more intelligent and more profound than we were, for example, in 1956. In the current SI, apart from perhaps one or two people, the "members of the C[entral] C[ouncil]" and the new situationists we have admitted since Antwerp are trustworthy people who have just about equally understood the totality of our problems and who are just about equally capable of taking all of the forms of action that we envision.

In this regard, I specify that Jean-Charles, although he is sympathetic and certainly intelligent, only has the status of a sympathiser and would only be admitted into the SI after a doubtlessly long period of perfecting himself (so as to be more capable of coherence and personal activity), without which he remains a simple disciple, the kind that we would like to keep on the exterior of the SI.

On the other hand, we have encountered the man called Pierre Rouxel only once. We can't say if he is intelligent or sympathetic. Perhaps he is stupid, and perhaps even a little suspect in his relations with diverse nuances of Leftist politics, which we don't like very much here. At the same time, he is interested in our ideas and [yet] says that we are phonies, beatniks and alcoholics.

In this regard, I have already written to you that it is necessary to guard against the possible manoeuvres of the "Solidarity for Workers' Power" group -- which has correspondents in France and in the USA -- but to always maintain an attitude of sympathy and interest in their problems (from the anti-nuclear struggle to the power of the workers' councils), which are actually very interesting problems. On which we ourselves have several things to say.

After your letter and what Jean-Charles told me, the moment has nearly arrived at which I must spend some time in England. Is 15 May [1963] convenient for you? We have many things to talk about.

Cordially yours,

P.S. The financial questions here get even worse. Is there something in London, in the cinema or involving Michele's translations?

[1] Note in the margin: "One can say, in Brecht's terms: we put a certain distance into our theoretical statements, so that they themselves do not become 'spectacular.'"

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. Footnote by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! May 2005.)

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