from Guy Debord

To Afonso Monteiro
[March 1975]
Dear Ulysses:

After having successively met with Penelope and Captain Rayo,[1] who transmitted to me a great deal of unpublished information, and in light of all this, I provide the most concise summary of my own opinions:

1. Portugal is currently undergoing a proletarian revolution and it will almost certainly be defeated.

a) The Stalinists, who since April [1975] have preferred to guard Spinola,[2] have not quite halted the movement of the masses, so that Spinola can still win their trust ("Spinola" here means the capitalist forces that want to cede the minimum of their possession of society, and thus establish a Gaullist type of modernization; these forces must now cede a lot to the captains and Stalinists, since they must make the workers enter the [established] order by themselves). The price for this return to the international capitalist order can be a socio-political power of the Peruvian or even Cuban type. In the absence of such a turn of events, the price to be paid -- perhaps higher from the point of view of the superior interests in this capitalist order -- is a foreign intervention (but the current domestic situation in Spain[3] appears to prohibit sending the army [NATO] into such a risky enterprise).

b) No doubt the repression will try to accustom the workers to its exigencies by falling upon particular Leftist groups.

c) Current power must begin this repression now, if it can. The existence of the Constituent Assembly[4] can serve to reinforce this repression.

d) The nature of the next oppressive power in Portugal will very exactly come from the principal deed that will be constituted by the amplitude that the repression must take (which depends on the resistance that the workers will be capable of). Or, without delay, the possible victory of the workers.

2. Your public activity in the movement has remained below what can be done, because you have taken excellent positions, but too rarely.

a) What you published at the beginning was certainly very useful; if you had regularly pursued this work at each stage, by exposing each new practical development, you would quickly have had greater means of making yourselves heard and, at length, in the precipitous series of events that you could have confirmed each time, you would have found few theoretical contradictions.

b) I believe that you have taken too much pleasure in stopping the tanks and breaking open the prison doors. It was necessary to do this, but not for such a long period of exclusivity, because others would have done so in any event; whereas no one said what you had to say in the moments in which you kept quiet.

c) I regret a little that you did not call upon me in September [1974]. It seems to me that at that moment -- several days before the 28th[5] -- you had not really taken into account the first autonomous demonstration of the workers, the tract for which I have only seen now; the tract was reserved in its form, but contained quite clear, radical allusions.

d) To me, it was of this demonstration and at that moment that it was necessary to speak. Imbecilic intellectuals reading aloud over the radio passages from The Society of the Spectacle -- this is not the [proper] use of revolutionary theory in a revolutionary moment.

e) At the stage that has now been reached, I suppose that it is quite late for groups with very limited means to have a great usefulness: because everything plays out in a much larger theater and the three blows[6] have been struck.

3. The revolutionary situation in Portugal is almost totally unknown in all the milieus -- even the extremist ones -- in all countries. Whatever happens, it will be important to publish the maximum of the truth in countries other than Portugal.

a) The manuscript of the book that Rayo has supplied is so eloquent in describing the modern revolution in general that two-thirds of it could be applied to a revolution that might one day break out in England; on the other hand, its weakness is that Portugal does not appear in it enough, because you had it in mind as much as anywhere else. I repeat, all this remains unknown (Rayo has indicated to me, contrary to what I believe, that a very small number of foreigners have come to Portugal, that is, other than the tourists on short vacations and naturally they have not seen nor understood anything profound).

b) Thus I have proposed to Rayo, who has agreed, to add a chapter entirely composed of significant anecdotes because, concerning every past revolutionary situation, one can only read the best accounts scattered throughout one or two dozen books and, most often, there are only two or three of such anecdotes in each book. This proposed procedure would thus have the merit of novelty.

c) Send me quickly all of the articles and documents that you judge useful to add to this book.

Affectionately, to all,


To Portugal:

--When does one reach the culmination point of this offensive (which has been very clearly pronounced against the old world)?

When one what one has gained begins to "cost us too much" -- to weaken us by the resistance that this result provokes -- of our forces have not totally destroyed the adversary -- if we are weakened, certainly not in absolute terms, with respect to April 1974, but with respect to the battles of today and tomorrow, the task that is before us, if on this day we have not found all the forces that are necessary to accomplish our goal. Starting from such a moment, everything will be reversed and one will retreat everywhere, except if one can quickly make peace. But there is no possible peace between the world order and the proletarian movement of Portugal.

[1] Antonia Monteiro and Eduardo Rothe.

[2] General Spinola went into exile after the failure of the military putsch.

[3] Juan Carlos, interim head of state (death throes of Franco), was confronted by a series of attacks.

[4] The election would take place on 25 April 1975.

[5] On 28 September 1974, the working-class masses provoked the collapse of the Right (Spinola resigned).

[6] Translator's note: Which announce the beginning of the play.

(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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