from Jean-Francois Martos

To Guy Debord
Paris, 19 February 1990
Dear Comrade:

You will find attached several documents that I should have sent you a while ago.

A Batalha,[1] the old organ of Portuguese anarcho-syndicalism, recently adopting a new-look,[2] risks several Considerations on situationism; and does not fear affirming that the first thesis of The Society of the Spectacle is manifestly false, given that separation and representation already raged in ancient Greece, and that therefore nothing was directly lived in it. At this level of analysis, it would also be necessary to add that the pithecanthropus of Java possessed TV, the seven channels and, in addition, color [TV sets], without forgetting to denounce "situationism" as the common thought of the restoration, since you love the 20th century so much, scorning its exemplary denunciation by Engels. Thus, here is the type of argumentation that this Torch of the Sepulcher (in Portuguese: Torcato Sepulveda) wanted to see used in my book,[3] at the same time as historical writing in the manner of Marcus,[4] reviewed or corrected by Ratgeb,[5] Michele Bernstein et alii (by the way, when Sepulveda comically accuses me of having hidden the fact that M. Bernstein had [also] signed the Manifesto of the 121, it seems to me that he is well informed, since, to my knowledge, this was not mentioned anywhere in I[nternationale] S[ituationniste]). What he especially and definitely reproaches me for is knowing you: "The chronicler appears honest, but he must have too often associated with the seraglio." And he, whom does he associate with? One tells me that this Torcato works with Arthur [Marchadier]: thus, this explains that.

Perhaps you have not seen the correspondence between [Guy] Fargette and the EdN,[6] difficult to read in places because, as you can imagine, it has come to me through several interposed people. With issue #14 of the EdN, it is today amusing to see how these letters in many respects verify a posteriori the judgment that The Encyclopedia of Powers [EdP][7] made in its time.

In the letter from Fargette, dated 22 February 1989:

1) The EdN vampirized Fargette's activity concerning the Eastern countries. Fargette often returned to this situation, which totally verifies the critique made by the EdP of the fundamental nature of the EdN: a dishonest and exploitative employer, living off of the work of others without recognizing their rights to make use of their work.

2) The refusal of the EdN to "deal en bloc with the chicanery and the intrigue," that is to say, all of the pro-situ milieu in which the EdN patiently sorted through, knowing that it could never make us of another fishpond. If the Encyclopedists are constrained to find "nuances," this is not due to humanism.

3) Fargette deceives himself where the date is concerned when he estimates that the EdN henceforth will [not] find excellent what it will do in the future. It has not done anything [excellent for a while], and the EdP said so.[8]

In the Diverse Remarks on the Second Part of the Prospectus:

4) The EdN does not favor the development of tendencies, the deepening of individual points of view: "Has the EdN at least succeeded in influencing individuals by its development, [individuals] who would further it by giving it a vaster and more concrete content? You know well that it has not.

5) The EdN "underestimates its myth" in the pro-situ milieu: two years after the EdP, Fargette has not understood that the EdN only lives because of it. The EdN overestimates its myth, at least since the [publication of] EdP.

6) "The refusal of double membership" is thus asserted on the sly, after having defended this entrism[9] against the EdP.

7) Revealing the extraordinary pretensions of the "Prospectus," Fargette concludes that ambitious equals can no longer be allowed the smallest faux pas. Therefore, the faux pas are, at present, legion, even in the eyes of Fargette. "Energy orients itself towards miseries or turns 'round" (the EdP said so, too).

In the letter from the EdN dated 20 March 1989:

8) Bad faith is constant in all that the EdN writes about itself: "We do not see what we have actually done that is of a nature to ratify or institutionalize the very relative preeminence that a certain number of people want to recognize in the EdN"! Therefore, the EdN constantly produces the proof that it itself believes in this preeminence and that, beyond itself, "a certain number of people" think the contrary instead. A certain number that grows that day to day.

In "Adjustment" [Mise au point] by Fargette, dated 15 May 1989:

9) One learns that "from 1987," that is to say, at the time of the publication of the EdP, "we have been the first to speak of changing our methods of proceeding." One again finds here the proceeding that issue #14 constantly illustrates: [Jaime] Semprun refuses the critiques (yet holding forth that he is criticizable) and then, secretly, bearing this in mind, tries to profit from it. We have here the Lenin of the pro-situs, the homo politicus[10] who declares on TV the contrary of what he will do immediately afterwards. One can probably foresee the revisions still to come from the EdN due to the EdP and now due to the conflict with Fargette. But if the EdN has to silently get rid of certain weaknesses revealed by the EdP, paragraph 7 [of "Adjustment"] nevertheless reveals that it cannot abrogate its method of exploitative functioning without disappearing.

In EdN #14, pages I to XI:

"In France we have rallied to our perspectives those rare partisans of the modern revolutionary project who are really committed to do something in the changed conditions" (page I). With 500 readers, 50% of whom are rather critical, and a quasi-general disappointment in all of its encounters, which are quite limited and concentrated in the same milieu, the EdN is justified of speaking of its rare partisans. But it is incorrect to describe its partisans, actually rare, as partisans (impossible to count them) of a revolutionary project: here is a mistake that can have serious consequences, as history has shown -- for example, the Bolshevik party. Those who do not more or less explicitly rally to the EdN are not -- the EdN dixit[11] -- partisans of a radical change: a good example of the authoritarian definition of the social landscape. Who could still doubt that the EdN is its own end?

11) What does someone -- who shamefully, clandestinely makes such reproaches -- do? He produces repeated denials: "if the EdN has thus defended its own terrain, this certainly was not (sic!) to preserve any know-how, as another kind of comfort" (p. II). Or, further on: "we make it precise nevertheless that, according to us, it is not a question in cases such as this to adopt or not adopt a formal rule that proscribes 'double membership'" (p. III; only particularly malevolent interpretations of this would make a connection between the departures of Bernelas and Martin from the "Irradiated" Committee and the critique formulated by EdP; this is only one coincidence among many others). Or, one more time[12]: "we do not want to employ anyone."

12) That someone like Semprun, who knew the Voyerist[13] past of Lambert since December 1986 at the latest, only "discovers" this information at the end of 1988 -- at a moment when such a thing is tactically more profitable or simply incontrovertible due to collective notoriety -- gives a quite wretched aspect to his tirades on mnemonic loyalty. It was necessary to have two years for Semprun to quite unwillingly perceive with whom his what-do-you-call-it had reconciled himself. But how many centuries would he need to understand that this selective affinity had nothing fortuitous about it? And perfectly justified?

13) Prudently, he also waited two years to begin to falsify the past on another point: when I by chance came across Ouldamerde[14] and [Jacques] Fredet in mid-September 1987, and told them, among others, what I thought of Fargette, it was necessary for someone like Semprun to claim that it "was at the printer," when its first printing was on 23 November!

14) On the mania of the country-estate owner [Semprun] to simulate his desire to break with those whom he had already dismissed: the manner in which the discord with Fargette is retraced on page V is very unfaithful to the tone of the letters, in which Fargette ceaselessly maintained the initiative. Semprun-Blue Helmet-White Helmet-Manpower[15] only separated himself from those who risked involving him in their discredit (Lambert) or those whom one had already shown him up ([Jean-Pierre] Baudet, Fargette). A thunderbolt -- in the journal.

15) "One sees at which point Fargette is henceforth (sic!) identified with the obligatory discretion that is, on all the important subjects, that the of the pseudo-thinkers and diverse workerists, since they have the situationists critique across their throats." But in December 86, the workerist Fargette had already rejected the "noisy" attitude of the occupiers of the Sorbonne and if the adverb "henceforth" can be applied to anyone, it would only be to the Encyclopedists and their optical faculties of variable acuity. Finally, Fargette's stupid diatribe against the theory of the spectacle (to the point of resuscitating Castoriadis-last-vintage) was already announced in nuce[16] in his hatred in 86 of those who wanted to "remake 68" -- Fargette had at first wanted to develop his anti-situationist perspective in the EdN; then he perceived, following many others, that this enterprise "turned 'round," that it made use of him, rather than the reverse; he was disentangled himself from this devalued and thus unusable burden, before announcing that an issue of [his journal] The Bad Days Will End would be devoted to a critique of the Comments [on the Society of the Spectacle].

16) As for issue #14 of the EdN, what is still readable in its analysis of the uprisings in the East no longer suffice to delude many people, whereas the bad faith in its personal polemics and, more generally, in all of what concerns the people close to the EdN has never been more obvious: as the EdP had predicted.

In the most recent issue of the Globe, Francois la Rousselle does not restrain himself from implying, through an equivocal formulation, that I gave him an interview; he keenly aggravated his case by publishing a scarcely disguised police report. It is necessary henceforth to call this rag Globe-Minute.

The project of damming up Serre de la Fare has been reported. Just in case, I send you the reproduction of the text of the pamphlet entitled Alert! which was published in Courant Alternatif; but I believe that you are well-placed to know all about it.

In Poland, Walesism in power does not cease to affirm that it is necessary that everything changes so that, fundamentally, nothing changes. And in Romania, when the Timisoara riots unleashed a conspiracy that had been programmed for many months previously, the "first televised revolution in history" displayed "its unverifiable recitations, its uncheckable statistics, its improbable explanations and its untenable reasoning."[17] If the 80,000 deaths become 800 in scarcely three days, if the images of mass graves are only put onstage thanks to bodies exhumed from cemeteries, and if the all-powerful State Security Department -- with its armored columns and helicopters -- did not succeed in scratching a single antennae of the television station, all this was vital for the Gorbatchevian neo-bureaucracy (in fact, the ex-collaborators with the Danube of Thought) to immediately receive general agreement that Ceaucescu was the absolute evil. If [in the past] it had been necessary to wait 40 years to see someone like [Robert] Faurisson[18] revise history, now the spectacle falsifies on the spot the perceptions of millions of individuals where major historical events are concerned; this is another domain in which you Comments have hit the bull's-eye, by describing -- a year before the collapse of the Leninism in the East -- this tendency of the integrated spectacular[19] to impose itself globally on the basis of the victory of the diffuse form of the spectacle. -- It is now Russia that is at the verge of an explosion, when 1989 saw the committees of the striking miners declare "All power to the Soviets," and other demonstrators demanded "The Soviet without the Party," when the libertarian kernels appeared lastingly in all of the bureaucratic zone and in favor of its accelerated aggiornamento.[20]

Perhaps you know that Francis Pagnon[21] hung himself on 11 January: of a somber nature, he more keenly felt than any other the blackness of this life. With the exception of several short moments of remission in which he felt better (railway workers, high-school students and, more recently, Romania; I include his last photo, in front of the embassy), he followed an inexorable slope in the last few years. The current period of ebb, and its corollary of reinforced isolation, took its toll on him.

You will also find [enclosed] several passages from Anti-Terrorism in France, or Integrated Terror 1981-89 by Serge Quadruppani,[22] which will give you an idea of the contents of this book, in case you have not seen it.

Good health to you and Alice.

[1] Note by Jean-Francois Martos: October-December 1989.

[2] English in original.

[3] History of the Situationist International, Editions Gerard Lebovici, 1989.

[4] Greil Marcus, author of Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, Harvard University Press, 1989.

[5] A pseudonym adopted by Raoul Vaneigem.

[6] The Encyclopedia of Nuisances, hereafter abbreviated as "EdN" by the author.

[7] Co-authored by Jean-Francois Martos and Jean-Pierre Baudet, September 1987.

[8] Fearing that there have been typographical mistakes, we have added the words in brackets [thus]. Without these additions, this passage does not make much sense.

[9] "Entrism" signifies infiltration so as to influence.

[10] Political man.

[11] Latin for "asserts."

[12] English in original.

[13] A partisan of Jean-Pierre Voyer.

[14] Meziod Ouldamer.

[15] UN peacekeeping forces wear blue or white helmets. Manpower: English in the original.

[16] Latin: "in a nutshell."

[17] A quotation from Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle.

[18] Like Serge Thion, a "historical revisionist" (Holocaust-denier).

[19] Note well: spectaculaire integre, not the spectacle integre: in footnote #6 to our translation of Debord's Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, we declared that, "We have consistently translated spectaculaire as 'spectacular' because Debord's text carefully distinguishes it from 'spectacle.' It would appear that the author's intention in his Comments on the Society of the Spectacle is to 'detourn the theory he originally presented in The Society of the Spectacle."

[20] Italian: updating, bringing up to date.

[21] Author of By evoking Wagner, published by Editions Champ Libre in 1981. Martos doesn't seem to realize that, whatever his feelings had been for Pagnon's first book, Debord detested Pagnon's second one: see Debord's letter to Floriana Lebovici dated 20 November 1984.

[22] An ultra-Leftist and the author of several detective stories, Quadruppani (born 1952) is perhaps best known for his controversial defenses of the free speech rights of people like Robert Faurisson, Serge Thion, et al. For more on Quadruppani, see footnote # 14 in the letter from Debord to Martos dated 24 February 1990.

(Published in Jean-Francois Martos, Correspondance avec Guy Debord, Le fin mot de l'Histoire, August 1998. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! July 2007. Footnotes by the translator, except where noted.)

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