The Encyclopedia of Powers

Public circular relative to several theoretical nuisances
verified by the strikes during the winter of 1986-1987

"It does not suffice to have been the contemporary of the events that one relates or has been well-informed about. (...) To know the facts and to see them in their true place, it is necessary to be placed at the summit -- not to look at them from below, through the keyhole of morality or some other wisdom." (Hegel, Reason in History.)

"All the mysteries that push theory toward mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and the intelligence of that practice." (Marx, Theses on Feuerbach.)

The reader will find in the pages that follow a collection of citations that are only disorganized in appearance. Below the surface, there is a remarkable regularity that, on its own, amply justifies being read by a much larger public.

Concerning a single event -- the wildcat occupation of the Sorbonne on 5 December 1986 -- , which is at the center of this astonishing pot-pourri and of which the historic judgment obviously remains falls to each person as a function of the momentarily available intellectual resources, there came gibes and peevish scorn from radical commentators, and more lucid strategic appreciations from the side of power. If one had hoped for a little from some people, one obtained even less.

Thus, here is a worthy story from the current era: not a single quality finds itself where naivete would suppose to find it. In these bacchanals of inversion, in which no text remains sober, the efforts of nuanced and prudent style dissimulate what is, finally, only a pretentious imposture. Let us leave this word to it: it has quite merited it.



"One see crystallize a weak tendency to occupy the Sorbonne (still closed!). Twenty people force the doors around 7 pm, so as to invite in several hundreds who remain in the neighborhood to hold an assembly inside. This laborious repetition of a well-known scene, as well as 'the appeal to the population' that resulted from it and that abstractly extolled the extension of the movement, was taken seriously by one or two hundred participants, of which the largest part -- perhaps aware of the artificial aspect of their actions -- would disperse even before having decided anything concrete, and especially not upon a permanent occupation of the place, which was a manner of invalidating such an appeal, which had little meaning when the assembly from which it emanated was not there to receive those who responded to it. (...) After midnight, several maniacs for rioting, seized in their turn by the compulsion to repeat (which, the day before, had carried others to try to occupy the Sorbonne and make an 'historic' appeal to the population to spread the movement), strove to ignite several cars and to erect several barricades improvised from construction sheds. Everything was reduced to a strange simulacrum of a riot, in which several shop windows were smashed and a few shops looted (perhaps two or three). Right away, the falseness of these actions came into view: the largest part of those who occupied the streets did not seek this kind of result and listlessly opposed it." December 86 (Bulletin #3 of The Bad Days Will End, February 1987).[1]

"The criteria that decides the pertinence of an occupation are, to me, of an essentially practical nature: it depends upon the intentions that preside over the action, on the response that it immediately inspires and the general context. In fact, the day after 4 December [1986], from what followed the events, after more than eight days, all of them in the streets, it was obvious that only the sovereign assemblies of this still-student movement could efficaciously appeal for its broadening: if not, one would give the negative impression of wanting to force its hand. Those who had not understood this at that moment simply proved a lack of historical sense. (...) That evening, everything in the atmosphere of the "occupation" of the Sorbonne sounded false, and not from the point of view of the journalists. From the beginning of this action, it appeared that it would not last more than several hours. (...) I do not even say that the derisory scenes at the Sorbonne on 5 December and the simulacrum of a riot on 6 December did not greatly hurt the movement: they were useless from start to finish and the error lies precisely in glorifying them." The author of December 86 (letter dated 6 March 1987).

"No doubt, those in this movement who mechanically wanted to remake 68 through actions that were without real connection to the real situation could hardly serve the search for a supercession." Encyclopedia of Nuisances #10, February 1987, p. III.

"In revolutionary history, examples are not lacking of such repetitions and, as far as determining if -- beyond the fact that they had 'nothing fundamentally wrong' [with them] -- they had something good as well, I think that their consequences in real history will show this and nothing other. From this point of view, the absence of consequences of this occupation of the Sorbonne can certainly protect it from blame, but that is all. The good will and sincerity o the participants are not at issue: after all, it is better to try what one perceives as possible, if one does not see anything else, than doing nothing. But this never prevents anyone from lucidly considering, in hindsight, the 'voluntarism' of this attempt, and how much it found itself in an untenable position with respect to the movement that was certainly less advanced in many respects, but which nevertheless advanced by itself, in its own rhythm." Jaime Semprun (letter of 2 March 1987).[2]


4 December 1986, 10:48 pm:

"At the top of the cordon that you will set up at Auguste Comte, you will ask that TI make contact with the demonstrators who for the moment have the appearance of being peaceful, so as to invite them to disperse by explaining that, due to the incidents, there is no question of them marching back to the Latin Quarter."

The same evening, 10:56 pm:

"The people here are all at rue de Rennes, they propose to us that they return to the Sorbonne through la rue de Vaugirard. TI 60: No, that is not possible. You tell Mr Campinchi that the Sorbonne is closed. He organized the demonstration, he knew the consequences, then you demand that he draw the consequences and that, from now on, he invites the people who followed him to disperse."

11:01 pm:

"TI 60: You make precise to them that in any case they can not enter into the Latin Quarter, we have the means to prevent them from doing so, and that they should show a little good will."

5 December 1986:

From this day of blunders there nevertheless emerged three strong movements:

-- the search for the "second wind" by the National Coordination (...)

-- the surprise of the peaceful evacuation of the Sorbonne, while the memories of May 68 still prowled around this veritable symbol of the student struggle (...). This evacuation was so peaceful that the memory has already almost disappeared. (...) And yet "the occupation of the Sorbonne" would harbor a considerable emotional charge. (...) (At 5:55 pm) no incident was indicated. At least one serious incident: a fire was started at the place Saint Michel, back home, but it did not create any notable tension. "The demonstrators do not know what they want to do" indicated the radio at %:53 pm. Forty minutes later, some of them found the objective: the forced open the doors and entered the Sorbonne. A little after 8 pm, things got worse: at 8:16, traffic was interrupted on the boulevard Saint-Michel near the Sorbonne by 350 demonstrators who lit a fire across the boulevard. The firefighters were stopped from approaching the fire and had to return to their firehouse. A group of 150 individuals, helmeted and equipped with bolts, is indicated to the Command Center, which responds: "Received, I see the conditions in which we can intervene . . . but I believe that we must act now and not let the situation get worse. (...)"


"At 6:20 pm, the front of the march again reaches le boulevard Saint-Michel, and the 'organizers' issue orders by megaphone, inviting all the young people to a sit-in.[4] Twenty minutes later, the doors of the Sorbonne are broken open and a good number of the 2,500 demonstrators who were in the neighborhood enter, not without roughing up the night watchmen. The situation isn't simple for the forces of law and order: the Minister of National Education is scheduled to speak in a little more than an hour. No question of a hasty operation. Moreover, three big obstacles even prevent envisioning it: the first concerns the configuration of the place, which imposes a particularly well-thought out maneuver and conducted by men who know the place well: this requires time; the second concerns the legal situation of the Richelieu Amphitheatre, which is occupied: the police can only intervene on the orders of the Rector of Paris; [and] the third concerns the situation in the neighborhood of the Sorbonne: it is degrades hour by hour and groups are circulating, manifestly 'seeking contact'. . . . In brief, the forces of law and order do not have a choice: they must wait. A wait that proves to be beneficial: little by little, groups leave the Sorbonne. At 10 pm, there are only remain around 400 people in the Richelieu Ampthitheater. The Rector pursues her attempts at dialogue with them in vain: the interlocutors ceaselessly change and the proportion of students among the occupiers decreases even more . . . but those who remain seem decided upon passing the night in the place. The risk of a focal point for grievances squarely in the middle of the Latin Quarter becomes precise: it is necessary to act. (...) For almost two long hours, this round of observation[5] continues among professionals, if one can use that word here, the student world appearing more and more foreign to what is going on. There is even a very 'sixty-eight' aspect of all this. (...) Curious thing, for nearly an hour, it seems that nothing big happens in the street, all of the concerns of the Command Center are focused on the evacuation of the Sorbonne. (...) This maneuver unfolds in three stages:

-- Around 10:30 pm, the Rector alerted those responsible for the forces of law and order that she is ready to sign the necessary authorization. A CRS [unit], under the authority of a commissioner, an excellent expert on the premises, takes up an attack position in the neighborhood of the Sorbonne.

-- Around one in the morning the document of authorization is presented to the commissioner. At 1:08 am, the order having been given by the Command Center, the CRS enters the precinct of the Sorbonne. Divided into two groups, accompanied by civil servants accustomed to the place, it advances without any resistance, other than a light barrage of furniture. . . . The commissioner assumes his three-colored sash and invites the occupiers to leave the premises, making it clear that if they comply without [further] difficulty, no interrogations will take place.

-- At 1:28 am, the Sorbonne is liberated . . . without any resistance.

Detail: several occupiers left with their arms raised in the air, a gesture of surrender par excellence after a stubborn and desperate resistance that only existed in their spirit. Perhaps they noted the presence of television cameras and journalists? (...) But the peaceful evacuation of the Sorbonne did not resolve the events in the street. It is necessary, on the one hand, to prevent an always possible return of the occupants and, on the other hand, to disperse the groups that one has already seen at work, although the greatest dangers now seem to have been set aside (...) The death of Malik Oussekine[6] will only later be known by the police authorities and the Government leaders. At the beginning of the day [dawn], of 6 December, Mr Paolini, the Prefect of Police, is informed that the Sorbonne is evacuated and that only several groupuscules come and go, he is reassured and withdraws. (...) A feeling then predominates among those responsible for the operation, those who ordered it and those who executed it: relief. Everything was possible and everything has passed. 68 is truly over." Students, police, press, power -- Inquest of the Senatorial Commission on the Student Demonstrations (November and December 1986), published by Hachette in June 1987 (passim).


We come to the facts. At the time of the strikes of Winter 1986-87, several people came together in an ephemeral fashion to do what could be done in the course of the unexpected movement of the high-school students and railway workers (which greatly worried the government and echoed in Spain and China): through tracts, through the impulse to practical action, by taking part in the assemblies of the railway workers. Participating in the occupation of the Sorbonne in this capacity, they made known what was taking place by a tract distributed the next day, notably that the improvised assembly [in the Sorbonne] had "summoned all the workers of France to show solidarity with the high school and college students in struggle. (...) To the extent that this appeal has obviously been censored by the entirety of the media, we ask all concerned comrades to echo it by all means [available]."[7] It was against this that the "critique" fought so bitterly. Therefore, "critical analysis is not simply a verification of the means actually put into action, but also of all the possible means, which one must designate, that is to say, invent: one can obviously never critique a means without indicating another, thus one will be in a position to prove its superiority" (Clausewitz, On War):[8] this is what suffices to send back to their sterile nothingness the negative critiques that seek their positivity in passivity.

As the Parliamentary Inquest clearly indicates, the only thing that was dreaded by power was that this movement, monomaniacally ambulatory, would fix itself somewhere, in a minoritarian way. Because, by opening a breach in the succession of marches, and by creating a place in which the students' belonging to the masses was no longer imperative for one to take the floor, to indulge in a veritable occupation in an appropriate place, for once without the agreement of the rectors and without the supervision of the dog-handlers, one thus obtained the first necessary element for a wildcat generalization: a place of free and uncontrolled encounter.

But to reach it, it was still necessary to try to do so. Would one find that those who would defend what was thus sketched out and for two whole days stayed in the heads of the demonstrators, as the Senatorial Inquest demonstrates, had renounced making use of the good sense in this affair," to quote the comic expression of a member of the Encyclopedia of Nuisances?[9] Could one critique this appeal for solidarity and respectfully keep quiet about those who emanated from the assemblies of apprentice-bureaucrats at practically the same time? Could one write that it "is better to attempt what one perceives as a possibility, if one does not see another, rather than doing nothing,"[10] and then -- despite such obviousness -- plunge back into the nauseating mysteries of demoralizing and Jesuitical syllogisms?[11] Well, some can do it.

Informed of our immediate break with the author of December 86 (according to the good old formula, "it is better to change friends than ideas" -- Potlatch[12]), the encyclopedists were astonished, and seemed to think that we no longer recognized the old qualities of this shared friend, whereas we simply came to discover in him a quite unexpected grave fault: they found the sickening, incriminated passages, which had been reproduced as an exergue, were only the slightly forced formulation of an unimportant but fundamentally just detail. In the guise of a final nuance, one declared to us that this brave young man [Guy Fargette], who was thus guilty of nothing, had nevertheless cracked down as "an autonomous individual."[13] No doubt this prudence passed for useful, although we knew quite well that this person published in the Encyclopedia of Nuisances and that he assiduously associated with several of its members.

Thus it is necessary to say that, as interlocutors, we were not sufficiently sensitized to this encyclopedia of nuances.[14]

Over the course of this affair, one reproached us for the major crime of not having -- concerning an encyclopedist [Jaime Semprun] who was more celebrated than the others -- respect for the opinion of someone who "has acquired by his activity the right to seeing it taken into consideration on this terrain";[15] and, to top it all off, this reproach came from an encyclopedist who nevertheless was, in his youth, part of an International[16] that excluded members for more subtle faults than spitting upon the occupiers of the Sorbonne or the barricades. Is it in response to problematic encumbrances of this type that the Encyclopedia of Nuisances declares: "This is why we, who are so little disposed to have a sense of proportion, must also acquire it" (EdN #11)[17]? Must one at least see in it a discreet response to those who declare that wisdom will never come?[18] One reassures oneself: here wisdom has come and it has made its quarters.

This affair was publicly conducted by encyclopedist theory in the following way (cf. EdN #11, page 266): "Nothing must distract us from our central activity, and especially not personal questions, it being understood that, in matters of divergences, we do not want to consider who is on this side of the argued formulation. Critical debate and polemics in good faith have never weakened the revolutionary movement, but, on the contrary, [it has been weakened by] discussions that have not taken place, that have been replaced by organizational proceedings and calumnious imputations. It is even less necessary to play with ad hominem arguments than those arguments that are more useful in the settling of accounts with all the profiteers on decomposition."

At the very least, here is a singular and quite grotesque working model of the conflict that actually took place. So that this "discussion" could take place, was it at first necessary to ratify as its foundation the questionable character of the self-seeking detractions made by a lesson-giver? What buffoonery! "Calumnious imputations"? But these were made by a bureaucrat where rioters where concerned! An "argued formulation"? It would be better to speak of argumentist: [arguments] without significance. Was all this necessary to purchase -- in a certain way and by such miserable investments -- the right to "discuss" . . . in a circle? Was it necessary, through "discussion," to bail out the ineptitudes that we have already cited and to dress them up as the rudiments of a theory of the future? Those who feel the desire to "discuss" things in these conditions do so: for us, such a "discussion" would be no more than a pastime, diluted by false pretensions. Let us leave to their literature those who place above everything else the important "central activity," with respect to which the rest are only trifles -- a central activity that, after such an experimental verification, can be nothing other than the simple production of the Encyclopedia of Nuisances, because it is animated by a fetishism of such a nature than, in hardly veiled indignation, one can come to proscribe the frightening "organizational proceedings" of another era and another journal:[19] since it is quite necessary to understand that here it is a question of avoiding exclusions. It is decidedly necessary to feel at ease (in the midst of the organizational silence that succeded the Situationist International in France) so as to legislate, from the depths of such a vacillating memory and with such extraordinary aplomb, on the old technique of exclusion, which would be good to discard, and on the ad hominem critique, which would be biodegradable in the radical milieu. These weapons, which the SI and other organizations were given to combat the routine softening and the comportments that are incompatible with the radical pretensions of a [revolutionary] group, would no longer be fresh: at most one might use them in encounters with an "adversarial camp" clearly delimited in advance. Here we would not only return to the days before the SI, but before the epoch of Rosa Luxembourg, since it would be necessary to ignore the fact that the organizational expression of revolutionary theory inevitably freezes among the [alleged] owners of critical truth when it shuts itself into the refuge of the necessities of intervening in reality, of intervening with respect to itself, and of theorizing its [own] action. If we understand correctly, it would be a matter of reserving these opprobrious treatments for Pascal Bruckner or Bruno Etienne, Andre Glucksmann or Jacques Heers,[20] that is to say, the standardized positions at the heart of the illusorily individualizable dominant stupidity, and never applying them to the people who, in the critical milieu, undeniably constitute the individual avatars whom one must distinguish from the rest. But beyond all discursive subtlety, this is only a team spirit that rejects with fright the simple idea of what, in other times, prevented its formulation or at least its support.


Everyone has begun to be disappointed by the realization that the EdN, after a very brilliant beginning, has obviously turned in circles for the last several issues; not showing clearly where it would like to go and even seeming little preoccupied with knowing where its circular repetition of generalized blame (which this epoch certainly merits) can lead. One comes to see why, by discovering the manner in which the EdN envisions the least intervention into practice. The occasion was provided by the movement of the high-school students in November-December [19]86 and by the EdN's subsequent, strangely impassioned judgment of a detail in these struggles.[21]

These were actually the practical implications of the mechanisms revealed in issue #7 of this journal (page IV -- Why I Take Responsibility for the "Encyclopedia of Nuisances," by Jaime Semprun).[22] In this declaration, one learned that its author took this responsibility because it was necessary "that someone clearly has the responsibility for the redaction" (up to and including issue #6, the place was thus vacant under the name of Francois Martin, who was not anyone and only held this responsibility obscurely); that the "quasi-anonymity that we initially adopted risked disserving us much more than serving us" (a journal, composed of anonymous articles, directed by F. Martin ceased to be "quasi-anonymous" by becoming a journal, composed of anonymous articles, directed by J. Semprun: here were nuances that threatened to surpass the [understanding of the] unfortunate reader; that it "was not necessary that a kind of purposeless clandestinity prevented each from clearly affirming his responsibility" (this through articles that were still anonymous, and whose order of succession and style naturally were in themselves -- is this a coincidence? -- resistances to the affirmation of collective or individual tendencies, personal investigations, internal discussions, dissentions that became conscious, practical experiments or agitations in such-and-such domains); that the editorial committee was constituted by the group's founders, that an informal but extended network of collaborators furnished the articles were rewritten in their totality by the journal's director,[23] to whom it did not appear "desirable, for the moment, to increase the number of direct participants" (a nuanced expression that probably designated those who benefited from membership status and who had voices in the organization).

In 1925, when [Andre] Breton wrote Why I Take Responsibility for "The Surrealist Revolution," thus succeding [Benjamin] Peret and [Pierre] Naville, he placed himself at the head of a group of friends and collaborators who all signed their contributions, thus bringing to light the divergences that quite fruitfully co-existed during a certain time: "Contradiction is not here to frighten us. No doubt, one is in little haste to decree that all license must be given to spontaneity or that it is necessary to let oneself be guided by events or that one only has the chance to intimidate the world through brutal summations. Each of these conceptions, taking priority by turns, has had the effect of hiding from us the good original foundation of the surrealist cause and to inspire in us a regrettable detachment." Breton took the helm so as to preserve the unity of the journal as much as possible, by a realigning of the essential and by allowing the existing tendencies to live under the form of personal responsibility for all. Taking on the responsibility for the Encyclopedia could hardly claim the [existence of the] same circumstances. There was only the formal translation of the unique and already concretized responsibility for the rewriting[24] of the ensemble to a unique signature. The style was the journal and reciprocally [the journal was the style], so as to provide the greatest happiness for the readers that this group sought out, the public of pro-situs,[25] their commensals, to whom the EdN simply proposed to play the music that they were fond of: the fantastic number of plagiarized phrases in the journal exactly makes it -- truly extremist on this point -- the anthology of this style.[26]

This Encyclopedia is obviously nothing other than a literary enterprise; it is a matter of treating, as long as this monotony can be maintained, a theme that is actually quite rich (the multiform poverty of the epoch), by placing itself, naturally and by postulate, above it. This is its only goal.[27] Organizational subtleties translate this goal and do so quite faithfully.

This was the backdrop when, in the course of these episodes, we accepted delivery of the letter signed "for the Encyclopedists." We ascertained that we knew people who had written for the journal,[28] but who had not been preliminarily advised of this collective letter and even less about the casus belli, not even afterwards. Thus the people we knew were only inferior collaborators, menial workers without prerogatives, nor duties, nor benefiting from any status. The author of December 86 had already become an "autonomous individual" because of this. None of the mistakes committed by one or the other of the free lance[29] collaborators thus could be attributed to their part-time employer, who could always guardedly disavow them. This aspect of secret maneuver cohabited with a turn of phrase that one could call "The Universal Thought of the Nuisance," in which everyone in sum could pay to have his or her little work printed up (or even be relieved of this effort by adhering to the mysterious Encyclopedist Club, as a member-benefactor).[30] The organizational duplicity intended to shelter the vicissitudes of the owner-encyclopedists quite naturally was prolonged outside of the journal, when it was a question of surrounding themselves -- always without risk, at the price of double memberships and (in this sense) discrete contacts -- with an Irradiated of All Countries, Unite Committee: all the harmful things [nuisants] can be irradiated, but all the irradiated things cannot be harmful. This is a status without status, an antechamber delegated to the testing of reality.

One can thus identify the EdN with the worst tactics of the surrealist group: even on the terrain of the galleries of paintings, when it appeared as the final attempt to salvage literature. But also on a more political terrain: this other attempt -- aborted until now, the EdN had only assembled the ensembles of its "fans"[31] -- to regroup the anti-nuclearists, the old "anti-nuclearist Left" fortunately being annihilated, resembled the intervention of the surrealists in the anti-fascism of 1934 ("Counter-Attack"), which was at the origin of the unfortunate Popular Front.[32]

Retrospectively, this permits one to better understand how a radical group could come to bail out what should have horrified it. Indeed, through the interposition of December 86, the EdN fundamentally behaved like the journalists of the time: to flatter the high-school students (by appealing to them to remain students) for all that they did not know and all that they did not do; in brief, for not falling into the "archaic" error of wanting to begin 68 again (which the students were ignorant of, but which the EdN knew by heart). If the movement of 68 had succeeded, there would have been no place for the EdN (terrible impression of retrospective threats of the "writers," who thus feel a little like those who, during the Paris Commune, held Versailles against Paris). And if 68 was only a little better known by the young rebels, it would no longer have had a place in the discourse of the EdN, which in no way envisioned a new departure for the revolution, but which only made abstract critiques of the Restoration, quite modernized in the accumulation of repressive procedures, but not at all new in theory after 68. The EdN wanted to be -- and was effectively until now -- the owner of the sub-critique of such an epoch of Restoration. In the political meaning of the word, they are indignant liberals, who pretend to discover unexpected and unheard-of excesses.[33] At the same time, this is an Encyclopedia in which there is no new critical idea. It repetitively pronounces on all of the aspects of current society -- with good reason, furthermore, but also with much facility -- the same condemnation. As for individual polemics, if it is true that it is truly a novelty to see them now fulminating against the rioters (no doubt by using the style of the authority), they are most often devoted to plagiarizing from ridiculous "mediatic"[34] cadavers, always the same ones: in sum, they kill again their rivals who are better-known, but also quite a bit more discredited, in the "representation" of the epoch.[35]

This literary enterprise, which incontestably has talent, although it is very clumsily repetitive in the continual and justified blaming of the current society, seen from above, it has much less talent when it writes about subjects that concern it more directly: see the maladroitly Jesuitical and completely ridiculous tone of their attempts at justifications. Up against the wall[36] of practice, even if it is a question of a quite common practice, the real genius, the talent is no longer present. There is no doubt that among those whom the bluff was about to dupe, many will lose their illusions all at once, simply because of the awkwardness with which they [the Encyclopedists] are suddenly allowed to "speak frankly."[37]

The goal is principally to hold power over public opinion -- of which one will make use . . . -- and this by systematically plagiarizing all the other, more mediatic powers of the current period. Severe with those who do not even want to know them, they become very indulgent towards anyone in their meager [personal] associations. Even before attaining the least power, they imprudently employ -- enunciating after ripe reflection upon the official truth adopted by an unknown Council or by some loyalty to one-knows-not-what dynasty? -- the tone of power and authority. But who recognizes it in them? They do not practice the ideas that they have adopted. And since it is practice that allows one to create ideas, they have no ideas.[38] It remains for them to affirm a lexical ownership: one does not have the right to treat as a Masperizer[39] someone who has replaced authentic documents with pieces attributed in a fantastic fashion -- this practice by the author of December 86 is thus covered for, even justified.

When the EdN considers separated theorization as the only truly revolutionary theorization, practical intervention is only seized and fixed in its common form, the avant-gardist form of activism, because it no longer understand the meaning of critical-practical revolutionary activity. That which presents itself as "the most important intellectual initiative of the end of the century" will only be this: an intellectual initiative, a strange prowess in an impossible genre. By dividing theory and practice (even in its theory, even in its polemics), it simply forgets that no idea can lead beyond the existing spectacle, but only beyond the ideas existing in the spectacle,[40] and that critical theory is only true when it actively unifies itself with the practical current of negation in society. When a form of practice arises in opposition to the sphere of autonomous theory, it can no longer to rationally grasped [by that theory]; it can only be defamed, because this theory has provided no place in itself for it. Until now, the EdN was its own goal: its greatest victory but, nevertheless, a bitter one; the EdN was -- without actions -- its own existence, in which the Nuisances only harm [nuisaient] themselves. It is this very essence of the EdN, its literary realization as separated end of the real movement, which has now become visible, that has led it to openly determine itself against this movement. After having spit upon the rebels, the EdN can henceforth be assured that the next revolt will not only be fought without it, but against it as well. All the water in the sea will not be enough to wash away this stain of intellectual blood.

September 1987

[1] Written by Guy Fargette.

[2] Letter to Jean-Pierre Baudet.

[3] English in original.

[4] English in original.

[5] A term usually used in the context of French elections.

[6] A twenty-year-old man, apparently uninvolved with the demonstrations, was murdered by the police on the night of 5-6 December 1986.

[7] The name of the committee that diffused this tract was "The Committe for the Generalization of the Movement"; it included both Martos and Baudet.

[8] In the translation by Colonel J.J. Graham (1873), this passage is rendered as follows: "Critical examination is not merely the appreciation of those means which have been actually employed, but also of all possible means, which therefore must be suggested in the first place -- that is -- must be discovered, and the use of any particular means is not fairly open to censure until a better is pointed out." (Barnes & Noble Edition, 2004, p. 111.)

[9] See letter from the EdN, signed by Christian Sebastiani and dated 30 May 1987.

[10] See letter from Jaime Semprun dated 2 March 1987.

[11] The phrase "demoralizing syllogisms" can be found in Poesis I by Lautreamont.

[12] Why Lettrism? written by Guy Debord and Gil J Wolman, and published in Potlatch #22 on 9 September 1955.

[13] See letter from the EdN, signed by Christian Sebastiani and dated 30 May 1987.

[14] No italics in the original, which suggests that the EdN group itself was a collection (an "encyclopedia") of annoying people ("nuisances").

[15] Note by the authors: "One will find annexed [to this text] this letter signed by Christian Sebastiani 'for the Encyclopedists'; it is a very clear testimony of the feeling of having been compromised and an attempt to parry it with the weapons [le coup] of authority and prestige, in a tone that will horrify any anti-hierarchical and anti-bureaucratic individual. What would these people do with glory, if they had it?" [Translator's note: these comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.]

[16] The Situationist International, which Sebastiani joined in 1968 and from which he was forced to resign in December 1970.

[17] This is the last line of the essay entitled Abundance. We find it interesting that this essay should be cited in this context: it is a very weak piece of writing, and does not appear to have been written by Jaime Semprun, who -- despite all of his deficiencies -- was a very good writer. Is the citation of Abundance in this context an indication that it was written by either Guy Fargette or Christian Sebastiani?

[18] This is the last line of Guy Debord's film In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni (1978).

[19] The era of Internationale Situationniste (1958-1969).

[20] Pascal Bruckner is a right-wing "New Philosopher." Bruno Etienne is a professor of political science. Andre Glucksman is a right-wing "New Philosopher." Jacques Heers in a professor of history. (Heers was attacked by the EdN in 1985 for declaring that "the author of The Prince was in fact only an obscure bureaucrat, an arriviste and opportunist." See Guy Debord's letter to the EdN dated 16 September 1985.)

[21] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[22] This text was first circulated on 1 April 1986. See Guy Debord's letter to Jaime Semprun dated 13 February 1986.

[23] Guy Debord was one such contributor: compare the version of "Abat-Faim" that he submitted to the EdN on 16 September 1985 and the version that was published in EdN #5 (November 1985).

[24] English in original.

[25] Short for "pro-situationists," that is, passive consumers of the "spectacle" of the situationists, who were the enemies of all spectacles, even/especially their own.

[26] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[27] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[28] Guy Debord, among them.

[29] English in original.

[30] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[31] English in original.

[32] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[33] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[34] There is no English equivalent for the French word used here, which is mediatique. Rather than render it as "media," "mediated" or "mediatized" -- none of which capture this word's particular meaning -- we have used genetique (genetic) as our model.

[35] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[36] Au pied du mur, literally, "At the feet of the wall."

[37] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[38] These comments were directly taken from the passages suggested to Baudet and Martos by Guy Debord in his letter to them dated 9 September 1987.

[39] Editions Maspero was a publishing house in the 1960s and 1970s that the situationists condemned for butchering the texts that they published.

[40] A paraphrase of a remark in Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (1967).

(Published by Le fin mot de l'Histoire, December 1987. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! July 2007. Footnotes by the translator, except where noted.)

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