Be Careful! Three Provocateurs

Because the SI [Situationist International] is developing the theory of coherence as a requirement for all of today's revolutionary organizations, we have equally emphasized the problems of an ideology of coherence that would come into existence as soon as people believe they are able to rally around such a flag by conserving diverse contradictions between theoretical affirmation and practice. To the extent that even in the SI certain people become suspected of a dissociation of this type, it is clear that they must in all haste correct their insufficiencies or become the bearers of this ideology. We have clearly warned that we will never tolerate the formation among us of an "ideological critique of ideology." Theo Frey, Jean Garnault and Herbert Holl[1] have followed their inclinations [down] to false coinsciousness. Their attempt to defend false consciousness in an unfavorable milieu can only rapidly conduct them to conscious and organized falsification. We cornered them so that they would reveal themselves, to themselves and to us. And we have also excluded them [from the SI], thus destroying the first manifestation among us of this "ideology of coherence."

Together, Frey, Garnault and Holl launched and supported an inept collection of accusations that were fabricated with the goal of obtaining the exclusion of Mustapha Khayati.[2] They propagated hostile rumors and then denied them. They affirmed imaginary facts and protested -- as soon as they were in the presence of witnesses to their gossiping -- that they didn't say anything. They denied proven facts by trying to discredit all those who remembered them. A meeting of the SI held on 10 January [1967] decided unanimously to have done with this "crisis" by the simple application of the principle that any convicted liar will be excluded on the spot. Present at this meeting, Frey and Holl obviously did not refuse this principle. On 15 January,[3] they were summoned to appear with those whom they had accused at a general confrontation. At first, Frey, Garnault and Holl maintained all of their accusations and denials. In less than three hours, they had to ratify the pitiful collapse of their interdependent lies. At first, by individual half-confessions and then, side by side, they recognized the dismantling of their falsifications. No longer denying the facts, they came to claim that they had forgotten them. Finally, they confessed everything. It was only upon seeing themselves excluded that they revealed -- with the frankly delirious intention of exonerating themselves -- that they had formed in the SI a secret faction that required all of the lies that were finally unmasked. It was as occult members of this unbelievable faction that, in December [1966], a delegate (Garnault) from an assembly of the SI presented as unacceptable the very conclusions of which he was made the bearer; that one of the signatories (Holl) of a collective letter immediately telephoned the addressees of that text, which they still haven't read, to say that it was an indignity. After which the two good apostles "justified" their cowardice by committing another one, by inventing a "threat of exclusion" that had paralyzed them down to their toes during the discussion. After which they "radically" denied that they had ever spoken of the possibility of exclusion, betrayed their mandates or telephoned anyone. After which it was necessary for them to obtain the elimination of Khayati because he had been a witness to these hoaxes; and they thought to succeed in it by systematically accusing him of having invented it all to harm them. After which everything flew back into their faces.

But this secret faction was explicitly intended to reinforce democracy and the equal participation of all in the situationist project! It had to save the SI and, if necessary, "dissolve" it. Furthermore, Frey, the most burlesque ideologue in this art of lighting fires with the aid of a bucket of water, introduced this relevation -- subsequent to the public collpase of all the calumnies that he had come to support and cover -- by nobly pronouncing the phrase, "The truth is revolutionary!"[4]

Even at the last hour, none of them dared to say that any critique in the SI has ever been censored to the least degree. They avowed that they had never meant to say so. Well then? They were vexed and unhappy to find themselves inferior at the level of real participation in the SI. But, on the one hand, by joining the SI they had affirmed that they felt themselves capable of such participation (which implies the reinforcement of this capacity by real practice). On the other hand, the two least limited among them, after having promised the opposite, willingly remained geographically isolated from this practice, so as to complete their "student lives" (in this regard they had already constitued a curious exception among the [other] situationists). They thus came to valorize the abstract experience of total, immediate participation, despite all of the realities of the SI that they complacently admired. Of course, their abstract recognition of their quasi-impotence promptly opposed them, as if by cunning enemies, to all of the real capacities that they envied (they didn't have the lucidity or the courage; they hadn't written the books; they hadn't fucked the Queen of Siam). Thus, all the delays in their own development in life hadn't been surmounted, but had ceased to be dissimulated. Those who do not dare to participate do not dare to speak. They murmur, they groan amongst themselves (selected on the basis of their shared poverty, by reciprocally opening up their secret susceptibilities to being comedy's virgins[5]). Thus they clandestinely recomposed a hierarchical situation among us, so as to have something to complain about. These unhappy consciousnesses[6] invoked a beyond so as to deplore its absence: they were sure that all the situationists are equal, but they found themselves less equal than the others. Incapable of assuming the SI's requirements to the end, they fabricated an absurd image, intended to be critiqued -- by them, behind closed doors -- and thus allowed themselves to magically affirm themselves "more radical," even at the cost of [committing] several, quite traditional, base acts.

The day after their exclsuion (communicated on 15 January to all the comrades concerned), Frey, Garnault and Holl published a tract [The Truth is Revolutionary] that announced their resignation! Therefore, it is obvious that everything that can be said or written by people who know a lot about starting from this base of action no longer has any importance. In this tract, which was intended for the public, the tone of their calumnies and falsifications naturally falls several degrees with respect to the confessions of the day before -- still a "forgotten" time, one is asked to believe. They are even quite drole when they write that it would be vain to search for "a particular liar in a situation of general lying." And so it is good we haven't tried: no more than one thinks to personalize the sardines in a can, we would not amuse ourselves by searching for the liar in the loud Frey-Garnault-Holl collusion, which is unfortunate even in its concrete deployment of its ruses, despite the climate of trust in which it began. It is quite notable that the only practical question with which they are truly occupied -- their own completely useless conspiracy -- was not only a schizophrenic practice that is opposed to all of their "ideal goals," but was also conducted with a confused lack of realism [irrealisme confondant]: thus, these "pure" ideologues, marching on their heads, were in form what they had already been in content.

We clearly and definitively declare that the SI will refuse all subsequent contact with anyone who will henceforth compromise themselves by associating with these three fakers or a single one of them (as is already the case with Edith Frey[7]). By deliberately engaging all the rigor that can be recognized in us, we supply these facts as unquestionable.

To serve the self-defense of all revolutionary groupings in which these people might want to infiltrate themselves, we furnish the following easily verifiable specifications on the manners in which they each lie.

Frey is the most intelligent. Capable of fragments of veritable reasoning and a conviction that believes itself to be almost sincere in several flights [envolees], provided that he remains at a sufficient distance from the concrete. One can detect his lies by comparing the clearness of these privileged moments to the fog of the totality, and by recalling to him the incompatible positions that he has juxtaposed without any embarassment. It is much easier to unveil [his lies] if one can observe his incoherence when Frey must account for the much more obviously untenable positions taken by his accomplices at the worst moments (their quality certainly isn't spoiled).

Garnault is very maladroit when he lies. He can't deceive anyone for a quarter of an hour, even if one poses few indiscreet questions to him. When he sees that everything isn't going well, he seeks refuge in an injured dignity, but with a profoundly unconvincing air.

Holl lies with the greatest coldness (a suspect stiffness). But he is also the stupidest, the most embroiled in the simplest everyday affairs. With the result that he obligatorily raises doubts during the slightest confrontations; certainly not by the perplexity of his attitude, but by the extreme extravagance of the points that he finds it opportune to invent and falsify.[8]

22 January 1967

For the Situationist International:
Michele Bernstein, Guy Debord, Mustapha Khayati, J.-V. Martin,
Donald Nicholson-Smith, Raoul Vaneigem, Rene Vienet

[1] Trans. Later called the "Garnautins," all three men were from Strasbourg, where the SI created a great scandal in November 1966 by publishing On the Poverty of Student Life with detourned funds. In May 1966, Garnault published On the root structures of reification in Internationale Situationniste #10.

[2] Trans. Primary author of On the Poverty of Student Life.

[3] Trans. See letter to the SI dated 15 January 1967.

[4] Trans. The title of the tract issued by Frey, Garnault and Holl on 16 January 1967.

[5] Trans. The French here is leurs secretes susceptibilites de vierges de comedie.

[6] Trans. See the writings of Hegel (not sure which one).

[7] Trans. Theo Frey's wife.

[8] Trans. For more on this affair, see The Alsatian Ideology, Internationale Situationniste #11, October 1967.

(Published as a supplement to Internationale Situationniste. Printed by the A.F.G.E.S./Strasbourg Cooperative. Translated from the French NOT BORED! March 2006.)

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