from Guy Debord

To Afonso Monteiro
24 February 1975
Dear Ulysses:

I was very happy to receive your letter of 14 February, above all for its magnificent content and also because our communications (although they continued via Florence) were interrupted for quite a long time. No doubt several letters were lost during the long strike of the French postal workers.

I have only read a single article in Le Monde (attached) about this demonstration of such immense importance.[1] In this article, one feels the embarrassment of saying it, the impossibility of avoiding it and the hope that no one will remark what is bizarre and terrible in it: I can imagine in 1793 an English newspaper, which until then had hidden the French Revolution from its readers and that one day announced, in a few lines on the second page, that the King had been guillotined, as if this were the most natural fact in the world, and in the following days one only spoke of the small constitutional discussions taking place.

It is clear that the modern proletariat has never gone as far as this, not even in Hungary, where foreign factors distorted the game. Thus, one easily understands why the Stalinists, the soldiers and others are running to the elections[2] of the Constituent Assembly. Stalinism and its unionism condemn their bases to disappear within these elections. The M.F.A.[3] currently draws its principal strength from being "institutionalized" and from no longer being the effective command of the soldiers and the sailors. Thus, through the elections, one urgently wants to make appear a legality that one can defend (and they even desire a good dose of traditionally reactionary deputies, so as to gamble on the opportunities). In any case, here is a Constituent Assembly that Cunhal[4] will not dissolve! The principal strategic model of all these people is the French situation of 1848. Knowing very well that what they want and what they are preparing for are the days of June.[5] Global Stalinism, like the bourgeoisie in all countries, must use all means to repress the workers there. No one can believe that the elections, whatever their results, will, by themselves, be capable of deceiving or cooling off (for a month) the workers who, in such a situation, have formed an autonomous interenterprise organization (which we have recommended to them in principle since May 1974). Thus bring all forms of confrontation, without exception, into your calculations. What I would like to understand better is your own position as a practical force. At this moment, what is the degree of your "influence" -- not on the theoretical plane -- but on the plane of direct contacts? What are you principally doing and what can you do? In what way can one help you?

At present, what can one say that the proletariat is saying on its own and is it in a state that it can impose what it is saying by force? What ideas dominate the Interenterprise Committee? (For example, what is its position on the elections, at what point do they feel that the Stalinists would like to put them done by force?)

Who are those who have been delegated by the committees? Do Leftist groups play certain roles in them? And which ones?) How can you address yourself to the assemblies, to the Committee, etc.? For example, I suppose that it would be immediately necessary, through wall-posters, to show the profound meaning of this autonomous organization, the very logic of its action and to put it on guard against all those who would fight against it.

In any case, the point already reached must contain a lesson that has not been seen in the world since one developed the new theory of the revolution. Thus, you must teach to the maximum. (Has Rayo pursued his book[6] and will it be finished soon?) And, moreover, if one can obtain a victory this time, this would be even more original in the field of our knowledge and our experiences.

Best wishes to all,

P.S. My dear Ulysses, I have so meticulously hidden Penelope's address[7] (which you now tell me to use) that I cannot find it. Could you send it to me one more time?

The workers in Portugal are speaking at every moment, and they are saying:

The revolution is not a tempest, it is a majestic and fertile river. One only dreams when one is asleep. Fraternity is not a myth. In misfortune, friends grow. You who enter, leave all despair behind. It is here that the wisdom of the nations dwells. Mankind if the vanquisher of chimeras, the novelty of tomorrow, the regularity that chaos groans, the subject of conciliation. Mankind is the judge of all things.

It is henceforth necessary to reckon with reason, which only works on the faculties that preside over the category of the phenomena of pure goodness. Evil rebels against good; it cannot do less. In the new science, each thing comes in its turn, such is its excellence.

We are born just. Each tends towards itself. Towards order. It is necessary to tend towards the general. The inclination towards self is the end of all disorder, in war, in [the] economy.

We are so unpresumptuous that we would like to be known by the world, even by the people who will come when we are no longer on it. Despair is the smallest of our errors. When a thought offers itself to us like a truth that travels the streets, that we take the effort to develop, we find that it is a discovery.

It is necessary to expect everything, fear nothing from time, from mankind. The revolutions of the empires, the faces of the times, the end of nations -- all this comes from a class that grovels, only to wake up one day [and] destroy the spectacle of the universe in all the ages.

There are more truths than errors, more good qualities than bad ones, more pleasures than pains. Nothing is done. One comes too soon, since for more than a century, there have been proletarians, who want to abolish the classes. Concerning social emancipation, as with the rest, only the least good is removed. We have the advantage of acting after the old revolutionaries and the clever ones among the moderns. We are capable of friendship, justice, compassion and reason.

And this is why they say the Portuguese workers are a scandal and an abomination to all the proprietary classes of the world, which must then put the workers down as soon as possible and by all means necessary. Capital and the bureaucracy have sworn their downfall and all of their agents work toward this goal together, Cunhal and Kissinger, Franco and Brezhnev, Giscard and Moa, because the ridiculous and miserable futility of the real practice and the spectacular justifications of the exploiting powers that they represent instantaneously unveil themselves in the face of the seriousness and greatness of the project, for which the Portuguese workers have provided the example. But because they enjoy so much liberty at this moment (the bourgeois flee, unionism is in hiding, the soldiers are in command of the officers), the workers believe that the State has almost disappeared.

The Portuguese proletariat says again that, as long as its friends are not dying, it will not speak of death. It does not know that time does not wait, that goodness is not enough, that chance changes and that wickedness never encounters generosity great enough to satisfy it.

[1] On 7 February 1975, more than 20,000 workers -- summoned by the Interenterprises Committee -- demonstrated in the streets of Lisbon against unemployment and the presence in Portugal of NATO troops.

[2] Set for 25 April 1975.

[3] The Movement of the Armed Forces (issued from the Movement of the Captains, which was founded in September 1973) would be instituted as the superior organ of the revolution after the failure of the military putsch of 11 March 1975, which was organized by the partisans of General Antonio de Spinola [translator's note: who was forced out in September 1974].

[4] See Debord's letter to Afonso Monteiro dated 8 May 1974.

[5] Days of insurrection, from 23-26 June 1848, followed by a bloody repression (more than 4,000 killed).

[6] Eduardo Rothe, who had undertaken to write a book on the Portuguese Revolution (see notes entitled "The workers in Portugal are speaking at every moment, and they are saying . . .").

[7] Antonia Monteiro.

(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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