from Guy Debord

To Edouard Taube[1]
9 August 1963

Here is the proposed summary.[2]

The article by Toru[3] was published in yesterday's Observateur. There is evidence of rewriting, and on a point that is at least theoretically serious (the American proletariat). I can not determine the extent because I do not have a copy of what you recorded, nor a transcript.

There are two or three short analytical phrases that you must insert in order to remove the summarily "Trotskyist" aspects of the characterizations of capitalism and Stalinism, which are clearly out of place. But I don't know if they were cut by the editors or forgotten by you. The first possibility would be the better of the two. Because it is quite clear that, in the absence of capacity or seriousness concerning the most immediate and vulgar tasks of practical activity, no one has ever been capable of "implanting oneself in the proletariat." Nor in any other class, since the dawn of history!

Cordially yours,

[Post script:] "The important points in the formation of the Japanese movement"[4]

1) What is universally exemplary.

a) The intelligence of the individuals who have formed the first critical nucleus; their real appropriation of Marxist thought, of the dialectic. Consequently, the numerical development (and the deepening by action) on such a basis.

b) The liaison, found on the occasion of struggle, with a group of revolutionary workers (on the railroads), instead of research on the workers, one by one, in the "calm" of a posteriori global political explanation.

c) The organization voluntarily limited to around 600 members, so as to suppress, with the directly subordinated masses, the bureaucratic danger. But in a revolutionary organization thus defined, the lucidity of not playing with the functioning of the workers' council in an untimely fashion: the workers' council locally unites all of the workers so that they can decide everything; the avant-garde only unites (not locally) those who accept its revolutionary programme and its coherence, so as to propose it to the class [the proletariat].

Concerning the complete democracy that, at every moment, supposes the definition of and experimentation with such a programme of "proposition" -- but only by those who claim and prove by themselves this coherence -- one can cite the two congresses per year of the Revolutionary-Communist League.

d) The first-rank internationalism of the preoccupations of the League (a European movement as essential condition for the revolutionary reversal of the bureaucratic camp), at the same time having no illusions concerning the existence or current strength of these future movements.

2) What causes the favorable local conditions.

e) The period of deep struggles of the Japanese working class in the last few years.

f) The sensitivity of the Japanese masses to nuclear questions (which even weigh upon the official attitudes of the government); thus discrediting the partisans of the "socialist camp," beginning with the Russian experiences of 1961.

g) The radicality of the student movement (caused by the miserable conditions of life and by the lack of social outlets in the capitalist regions, where schooling is the highest -- especially in the first years of Japan's current industrial expansion). This has furnished a mass of laborers who have contributed to making the theses of the League become "celebrated" (in the world, the Zengakuren aren't only known for their anti-imperialist actions, and, in Japanese factories, one calls the workers who make claims and ask questions "Zengakuren").

To these last three points, but, without doubt, primarily the last one, one must link the fact that the Japanese organization is not founded in a historical museum of the workers' movement, but as a Leftist split-off (in favor of the Hungarian Revolution) by a portion of the young intellectuals who were formerly part of the mass movement controlled by the bureaucracy. This has naturally favored the selection evoked by point "a."

3) What remains to be done

h) A clearer supercession of the formal attachment to old revolutionary politics (before its degradation in the 1920s). It seems that part of this attachment is the existence of a united Central Council, which interposes itself between the base and the Political Bureau (a dozen members, who are responsible for three things: the journal, worker action, and international liaisons).

i) Corollarily, a more exact critique of modern capitalism (its new conditions of production and consumption). This modernization of capitalism goes very far in Japan, which is in the avant-garde of certain newly created industrial societies -- Japan holds first (or second?) place in the cinema industry, there are already six or seven television networks, etc.

It is precisely this capitalist modernization in Japan over the last dozen years that has created the terrain for the Japanese movement (workers' struggles that derive from the modernization) and, in the last analysis, the capacity to think the revolution in a new manner.


N.B.: This summary can not be presented as representing the position of T.K.[5] (who has promised to treat precisely these questions for us in a theoretical text), but as the conclusions we have reached after having several conversations with him on these subjects.

[1] Edouard Taube, a member of the extreme Left faction of the Socialisme ou Barbarie group.

[2] "The important points in the formation of the Japanese movement," post script.

[3] Toru Tagaki, vice-president of Japan's Zengakuren.

[4] Written in the margin: "Autumn [19]63, for the extreme-left faction of S. ou B. (Taube-Valois)."

[5] Tsushi Kurokawa of the Zengakuren.

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

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