from Guy Debord

To Jaime Semprun
31 May 1975
Dear Jaime:

The book[1] is magnificent. I believe that this is the first time that one can read such a book before the failure of a revolution. Until now, consciousness has always arrived too late, at least in publishing! This thunderclap was permitted by the slowness of the Portuguese process, the product of the great weakness of all the factions that coexist in a disequilibrium slowed down from all sides (certain weakness with respect to the immensity of their tasks, because even the repressive task with which the Stalinists are changed is no small affair).

The importance of a Spanish translation is extreme. This would obviously be best done in Barcelona. But Ruedo Iberico[2] appears to me acceptable for a street of this span (its other books would suffer from the neighborhood, but this one will not), if an immediate publication can be assured. Urgency must trump all other considerations. But in the best possibility, the publishing house in Barcelona will remain uncertain for a long time, due to censorship.

I do not think that the Leftist had the least role in the affair of the Republica newspaper[3] (or several negligible Leftists of the Trotskyist-Krivinist type who adhere closely to the P.C.[4] and would thus be manipulated by the Stalinists). Their evocation in the French Stalinophile was, above all, a new variant of the famous thesis of "symmetrical extremisms" in Italy. It suffices to ascertain that the sabotage initially aimed at stopping the appearance of an article condemning the Inter-Union [Committee]. Seguy calls this a simple workplace conflict and Marchais begins to instruct all of the naive self-managers a la Ratgeb[5] on the complexity of their future problems be declaring that it is quite surprising that the "partisans of self-management" are outraged by a successful [Communist] infiltration among the workers at this or that firm.

Seeing that the strikers at Marinha-Grande had announced that they were going to march on Lisbon in support (Le Monde, 23 May), Soares naturally and immediately renounced all. With the result that Le Monde presented the Portuguese Army to us "at the banks of the Rubicon": as if thirteen months had not already passed and as if the army had not crumbled back then. And, in a new record for reasoning in the world turned upside-down, the radio rejoiced that Soares had obtained satisfaction, seeing that he was returned to the government,[6] but assured its listeners that he must, in exchange (would it be enough?), no longer boycott the sessions of this government. He had no other satisfaction -- having taken an historic punch in the face -- than showing that he was still capable of receiving others in the future. And so your book could not appear at a better moment: the mass media[7] has not spoken so much of Portugal for a dozen days.

So as to sample the consequences in all their nuances, you must read, or re-read, Cromwell and the Levellers, published several years ago in the "Archives" collection.[8] The army of the English Republic is the only example of an army that has identified itself with an authentic social-revolutionary movement. What remains of the Portuguese Army, that is to say, its base, is perhaps on the verge of being the second example.

The correspondence with Paolo [Salvadori] has the merit of fully confirming, with the irrefutability of documents, the very nature of the fault that has been shown in the voluntarily vague words or "inexplicable" silences. You must send photocopies to G. Sanguinetti (c/o Ariberto Mignoli, via Agnello 185-20100, Milano). Not that I Much care about what Gianfranco thinks, but so that he has so many difficulties from all sides that he has the full choice among the terrains on which he prefers to fall.

At the time of my most recent meeting with Paolo, I also remarked -- wanting to finally interrupt his hollow Napoleonic pronouncements by approvingly citing you book -- that he literally had not responded. Thus I had the cruelty, ten minutes later, to begin a new discourse on the same theme and [witnessed] the absolute silence that followed it. I had the impression that this showed him to be completely hostile (in order of the people who are most immediately concerned) to 1) the Portuguese proletarians, 2) the worldwide proletariat, 3) me, and 4) you. It is quite good that he himself has furnished the occasion to finish with a precise incident, if one dares to refer to it as "precise," what in any case must finish here, but imprecisely.

See you soon. Best wishes. We embrace Anne.

P.S. Attached[9] is a note that followed me from Paris. You can telephone this Portuguese person "on the part of Glaucos, currently on a voyage" -- and perhaps meet him, with all necessary prudence?

[1] Translator's note: Semprun's The Social War in Portugal, published by Champ Libre.

[2] Translator's note: the Portuguese publishers of the Portuguese translation of The Society of the Spectacle.

[3] The offices of this Socialist newspaper had been occupied.

[4] Translator's note: the Communist Party.

[5] Translator's note: Georges Seguy was a member of the French Communist Party and the General Secretary of the CGT labor union. Georges Marchais was a politician and the Secretary General of the French Communist Party. "Ratgeb" was the pseudonym adopted by Raoul Vaneigem to write From Wildcat Strike to Generalized Self-Management.

[6] The Socialist Party won Portugal's first free elections in April 1975 with 37.9% of the vote.

[7] Translator's note: English in original.

[8] The Levellers, Cromwell and the Republic, presented by Olivier Lutaud.

[9] Translator's note: text not attached in the Fayard edition.

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

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