Words and Bullets

The Condemned of the Lebovici Affair

That the publisher of Orwell was assassinated in 1984 is a sinister coincidence that history will certainly pass over, but this world's Big Brothers will not soon be cheered: the adventures of the dialectic are not ended and will spoil their pleasures.

Now that the clamorers have practically killed themselves over the assassination of Gerard Lebovici, we have to authenticate what was said without considering the essential aspect, that is to say, the evidence, about this "affair."

The diverse hypotheses, unwrapped at the start so as to give nourishment to the unhappy readers of the press, all lead back to two domains artificially framed as separate and as not having the power to affect the other: the cinema and politics.

In these two spheres, these hypotheses, considered in all their variations, provide all the reassurances of the reigning spectacle. Devoloped pell mell, theses about Lebovici alleged that he was a godfather in the film mafia, a protagonist of the Red Brigades or the Baader Gang, Francois Besse [trans: one of Jacques Mesrine's henchmen], videocassette pirates, an agent of the KGB, a schizophrenic whose destiny was inscribed in the fatality of his marginal habits, drugs and sex shops, shady poker games, whiskey, cigarettes and broads, that is to say, anything and everything. Because it's a question, as usual, of avoiding all the truly embarassing questions. Does one realize that, just before the assassination, Champ Libre published The History of Anarchy by Claude Marmel, with a preface in which Gerard Lebovici exposed the Nazi underworld past of its author, who today is recycled at the Institute for Social History and Sovietology? Or that, at the same moment, there was anonymously published in a fake issue of East and West, the Institute's review, an article -- in which the tone, subject and coincidental timing were reminiscent of Gerard Lebovici -- that denounced and provided supporting documentation about Harmel's Nazi past? Or that it is in this very virulent milieu of the extreme right, swarming behind the folding screen of this same Institute, that was the source of the dossiers that helped orchestrate the press campaigns against [Pierre] Goldman and [Henri] Curiel, press campaigns that preceded their assassinations [in 1979 and 1978, respectively]? Or that the collusion among the extreme right, the mafia and the secret services don't need to be further demonstrated, not at a time in which a murderous anti-Basque collaboration exists in the death squads that re-unite a long list of Spanish cops, ex-OAS [trans: Organization de Armee Secrete] officers, French SDECE [trans: Service de Documentation Exterieur et de Contre-Espionnage] agents and other assorted thugs? Or that the reprinting by Champ Libre of Jacques Mesrine's The Death Instinct constituted a not-so-small affront to the honor of the police? When one considers all this, one can see that at the very least one hypothesis is more plausible than all the others. And one also sees why it was necessary to keep it quiet.

But the question isn't simply knowing which straw broke the camel's back: the concurrence of the affairs of cinematic distribution, Mesrine, videocassettes, or the more directly revolutionary activity of Lebovici. In effect, whether the attack came from the more reactionary milieus of the cinema or from an extreme right more politically connected with the State's police services, one knows quite well that all the mafias have connections between them, that their members can be found at the same tables at certain restaurants and cafes, where they agree in their private salons on the one inviolable law that unites them: the bitter defense of this world. Their offers and encouragements, their promises, like their information, can easily pass for the others. It is in such a context that one learns that, after six months of investigation, all the trails have gone cold in the same icy silence [trans: omerta]. And the general complicity has been well proved by the press, which certainly hasn't demonstrated that the assassination wasn't encouraged and desired by all sides. This was an execution by the established social order.

If we now pay close attention to the particular role of the media in this affair, it is not to verify, yet again, that journalists lie above all and constantly, but instead to make precise the "how and why" of these lies. Because rarely does assassination by the spectacle and the spectacle of assassination find such a perfect coincidence. And in this sinister adequation between the second death of Lebovici and his physical death, seldom have hired pens and handymen [trans: valets de plume et hommes de main] so effectively shared their foul deed.

Since we, like Diderot, believe that "all the nonsense of metaphysics isn't as valuable as an ad hominem argument," we will cites these sources directly:

"Lebovici didn't hide his sympathies for the dynamiters of 'bourgeois society,' in particular, the Baader Gang in West Germany and the Red Brigades in Italy" (Lamy and Babronski, France-Soir, 9 March 1984).

"Lebovici voluntarily associated with the thugs of the underworld and the wanna-be thugs of intellectual terrorism who conduct physical terrorism" (Le Quotidien de Paris, 15 March 1984).

"Lebovici entertained relations with the milieus that are close to international terrorism . . . he is also the publisher of works consecrated to terrorism or written by terrorists. . . . " (Puyalte, Le Figaro, 15 May 1984).

"It wasn't a secret in extreme-left circles that he financed revolutionary groups" (Lemoine, VSD, 15 March 1984).

At Champ Libre, "he published the thoughts and strategies of the libertarian and terrorist Left. . . . Across the center of Leftist propaganda, Lebovici's contacts extended to all of international terrorism. He maintained relations in Germany with the Baader Gang, and also with the Red Brigades in Italy. In a general fashion, all the dynamiters of bourgeois society, Christian and Western civilization, fascinated this Israelite. . . . Lebovici, like all influential Jews, was constrained to spit upon Israel. . . . Subsidize subversion . . . accept the risks" (Cochet, Present, 10 March 1984).

"That these unhealthy passions caused his downfall is the opinion of all who knew him" (Minute, 10 March 1984).

"A most mysterious man, who provided the 'open sesame' to the clandestine milieus of the most destruction anarchism, fascinated Gerard Lebovici. He is the filmmaker and writer Guy Debord, 54 years old, the gray eminence of Champ Libre, chief of the situationists, a movement of libertarian tendency that was one of the detonators of the May '68 events. . . . Guy Debord, sympathesizer with the terrorists of the Baader Gang and the Red Brigades" (Babronski, Lamy, Brigouleix, France-Soir, 9 and 10 March 1984).

"Finally, is not Lebo a man under the influence? Beginning with Debord, did he not drift towards extremist organizations such as the Red Brigades and Direct Action, which he financed out of a taste for scandal and provocation? . . . He was fascinated by clandestinity, open contestation, revolt against society. But to live dangerously, one must take risks" (Alia, Le Nouvel Observateur, 23 March 1984).

"Strange person, this Debord. Author of ultra-Left theories that found their hours of glory in May 1968, he tried to obtain someone to produce every little thing he demanded." And so, didn't Lebovici "surrender the publishing house to Guy Debord . . . didn't Lebovici, as some think, fall under the influence of the 'guru' Debord?" (Huleux, L'Humanitite, 13 March 1984).

"I didn't know Gerard Lebovici, but I don't think I would have liked him. . . . With Guy Debord, the situationist who found a situation, he secretly worked to shake our society and the last traces of the sacred that it kept, notably in Art. Also, his murder appears to us like a translation of frenzied suicide, the death instinct that, in a certain way, turned against him and zeroed him out" (Charriere, Le Quotidien de Paris, 18 March 1984).

"In the life of Lebovici, Guy Debord plays the part of darkness. 'The Devil.' A crappy Mephistopheles in a real tragedy: that of the bewitching of a man" . . . . "And for many police officers concerned with crime, from the DST [trans: Direction de la Surveillance de Territoire, the French CIA] to General Intelligence [trans: the French FBI], the most serious trail leads to the entourage of Guy Debord" (Prier, Tiller, Le Journal du Dimanche, 11 and 18 March 1984).

"Who killed Gerard Lebovici? For many police officers, whether they work with DST, General Intelligence or the Criminal Bureau [trans: Parisian police], the most serious trails lead to the entourage of Guy Debord. . . . This frightening agent of destabilization was in contact with Italian intellectuals, Germans, who were themselves very close to revolutionary groups, Red Brigades and the Baader Gang" (Paris-Match, 6 April 1984).

In the "extravagant collection of correspondence published by Champ Libre, Debord wields the pen and Lebovici the signature in the writing of icy letters of hate and contempt, in which one senses a formible desire to do evil, to wound, to sully, to debase, to annihilate the receiver. Letters of crazy sadism, total cynicism. Literally diabolical; of which the true meaning, the political goal, is to subvert everything that exists and even the untouchable social convention of private correspondence. . . .

"And after ten years of oblivion, he reaches this unexpected madness of terrorism. The attacks of the Red Brigades and Baader, death elevated into a political system, the destruction, finally, of the ruins, as they've called them. These terrorists are enraged killers who require gurus, patrons, thinkers, ideologues, revolutionary justifications. It is in this dance of death that the Lebovicis, Debords, Feltrinellis, Goldmanns, Sanguinettis and others find their rhythm. . . .

"Who benefits? Who pulls the strings of these bloody puppets?

"One imagines the pleasure that a Lebovici must have experienced by debating ideology with a sectarian from Direct Action and a thinker from the Red Brigades, and then finishing the day at Maxim's, between his friend Badinter, Guard of the Seals, and his accomplice at the poker table, Montand. But can you imagine him laughing at 'Mohamed Mohamedovitch,' who holds up to this puppet the allures of the exhibitor of marinettes?

"This life of derision, of lies and appearances. All the things those who knew him could only imagine. Who could believe that Lebo had a dossier on him, contained in a metal case, at the DST? Who divined that behind Debord, the implacable enemy of Stalinism, there was a man who held a Soviet bank between his teeth? Who knew of the interest of the other, forgotten situationists, one [trans: Mustapha Khayati] in the armed struggle of Yasser Arafat, the Soviet general of the Palestinian army, while another [trans: Rene Vienet?] was arrested in China and charged with espionage? Who would believe that the young people, who in the revolt also anathematized Stalinism, would learn, 15 years later, as a result of an investigation into an assassination, what they had always been: agents of subversion and destabilization in the service of Soviet imperialism" (De Beketch, Minute, 17 March 1984).

The campaign didn't simply seek to discredit the people who attack the press or break with the consensus for sowing doubt and confusion. Beyond its subsidiary goals, this journalistic police force, for which words have the same function as bullets, clearly affirms: "That's why it was necessary to kill Lebovici; that's why it will, sooner or later, be necessary to do the same with Debord and the other revolutionaries." Moreover, nothing's lacking for the creation of truly descriptive files on targeted people, with their habits and addresses and telephone numbers. But the killers shouldn't start rejoicing yet: we will henceforth be on our guard and, whether it is in a parking lot or elsewhere, we will dispatch the first who come. In addition, the second attack has the disadvantage of being signed ipso facto, completely exposing the origin of the first.

In other similar affairs, the press campaign preceded the assassination; today it comes afterward. Whether this campaign served to reinforce the arms of the killers or the second blow dealt by the journalists who greeted the assassination with applause, there is an objective bond between those who killed and those who say why it was necessary to kill. As for those who applauded the loudest: did they do so only because they didn't have anything to do with the job?

At the top of the list of this visible party of the enemy, it is necessary to make a special place for those who, regretably, were unable to be at the actual execution:

"I went to see Lebovici in his office. . . . He dials up the mafia . . . he tried to draw me into a night of poker" . . . . "Debord has an unbelievable magnetism. . . . He makes use of psychological techniques. . . . " (Manchette, interviewed in Le Journal du Dimanche, 11 March and VSD, 15 March 1984).

"Guegan came up with the name 'Champ Libre' . . . Lebovici came up with the money. It's my belief that, since 1972, he was an agent for Belmondo or Cassell. . . . A representative of capital. . . . He paid badly. . . . Within several months, he turned a living place into a museum. Mixing sarcasm with suspicion, he drove diverse people away from him. . . . We think that the opinion of Debord . . . determined Lebovici's 'passage to action' and his metamorphosis into a dialectian and revolutionary. Debord's affirmations concerning his [Lebovici's] role as publisher . . . are inexact. They confirmed Lebovici's situation, prisoner of a role that led to verbal excess. Under the reign of a severe 'father', professor of radicalism [Debord], he [Lebovici] surrounded himself with 'gangsters'" (Sorin, Le Monde, 10 March 1984).

"Under the influence of Guy Debord, Lebovici became another man: he fired Gerard Guegan . . . and only stayed with his guru. Debord was already 41. Gerard Guegan ran into him later on; [trans: he was] antiquated, ceremonious, haughty. . . . Lebovici wanted to give the Left a whack. For Guegan and his friends, behind this whack was Guy Debord, the invisible one; Debord, the fanatic of himself. 'His only goal is posterity,' Guegan says. 'His disappearance is a trick so that people will still be reading him in 30 years. He'd like to be taken for Rimbaud, who left for Africa and never wrote another line. But for Rimbaud, it wasn't a trick" . . . "According to Gerard Guegan, Gerard Lebovici . . . adopted the hard, implacable tone of the situationists, headed by Guy Debord, without doubt thereby provoking the hatred of those who responded to [trans: killed] him" (Guegan interviewed in VSD, 15 March 1984; Le Journal du Dimanche, 11 March; and Le Quotidien de Paris, 9 March 1984).

"Gerard Lebovici wrote, not with humor, that Jacques Mesrine's 'machinations' were, 'for the French of our epoch, the perfect symbols of liberty' . . . 'The frightening honor of being the publisher of Jacques Mesrine, concluded Lebovici, fell to Champ Libre.' No doubt a victim of faltering memory, G. Lebovici failed to remember that Mesrine had also made death threats against his [previous] publisher. That is to say, to consider it a 'frightening' honor to reprint The Death Instinct, in which the affair's principal protagonist is banished to the dark side, is in effect to display exceptional recklessness. 'It is the man who holds the arms that is more important than the arms themselves,' Mesrine wrote. Strange morals, sad epoch -- that is to say, [trans: Lebovici was] a naive simpleton." (Alliot, Le Monde, 24 February, 1984).

"This [very common] name 'Francois,' written on a piece of paper [which Lebovici had on his person the day he was killed], is terribly disappointing for the 'All-Paris-Cinema,' for the last readers of the situationists, who dreamt of an end of politico-literary history . . . by [committing] murder. This clue reduces the brutal death of Gerard Lebovici to an intimate drama, too precise for the police, tomorrow or in a month, to put a name to the face of the assassins. . . . 'It's a shame. I would gladly imagine a wilder motive,' confided a producer on Monday, vaguely in relation to the affairs of Gerard Lebovici. . . . 'Lebo played with fire, said a press attache.' A certain taste for poker parties, furtive meetings. . . . In a certain way, Gerard Lebovici was asking for it [trans: appele le meurtre]. 'If someone had to die in the world of the cinema, it was him, confided someone who, like the majority of the people we talked to, preferred to remain anonymous.' Why? Because he apparently gave into the allures of permanent conspiracy; he hid his role as literary patron from the world of the cinema, and, at Champ Libre, his publishing house, he hid the extent of his power in the cinema. . . . This duality, which certainly qualifies as 'schizophrenic,' was surprising. Today it only adds weight to suspicions. Thus, it appears that this energetic man, active in the extroverted, self-promoting world of film, allowed himself to come under the influence of Guy Debord, the solitary one, who was discreet to the point of obsession, suffering from an evitably fatal weakness. Gerard Lebovici 'went downhill,' according to ten, twenty witnesses; he gradually turned away from the social norm accepted by his professional milieu, all because the 'guru' Debord led Lebovici psychologically and intellectually astray. 'Too many provocations, too many public insults; it had to end badly' . . . . It had to 'end badly' because of his hardly veiled fascination with criminal marginality, which, according to certain people close to him [Lebovici], found its full expression in the recent reprinting of Jacques Mesrine's The Death Instinct by Champ Libre" (Boggio, Le Monde, 15 March 1984).

There they are, the first convicts of the Lebovici affair. In making such judgments, they have judged themselves.

No doubt, a less mendacious epoch than ours, one in which the professionals of the press weren't also professional falsifiers, would find several who could ask good questions, such as these: For what "shameful reason of the State" (Le Matin, 23 March 1984) was [police superintendant James] Genthial investigated and removed from office, and replaced by a more docile functionary? Did he discover something embarassing? Why is it that, "in the Lebovici affair, General Intelligence and the DST didn't furnish their complete files to the head of the Criminal Bureau" (Le Journal du Dimanche, 25 March 1984)? Why did Besse, the honorable bandit, take pains to deny that he was accused of committing the crime? Isn't Besse himself still alive? Those who investigate Lebovici's death, aren't they the ones who have no interest in determining what the truth really is? There will be nothing astonishing: the State doesn't hide its crimes, and it isn't, for this reason, a criminal among other criminals, but the absolute mafia capo. (Thus, this same State, which for years had Lebovici and Debord under constant surveillance, didn't fear to announce its assuredly incompetent approval: "With confidence, Regis Debray declares 'that one leftist intellectual in two has read the very beautiful books by Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle and The Treatise on Living for Young People [trans: the latter is by Raoul Vaneigem, not Debord]" -- declaration on television by a special counsel to Mitterand, cited in Le Canard Enchaine, 3 April 1984. "Not only do they shoot us, but they search our pockets, as well," remarked the impressionist Degas. But, when touched by the hands of the enemy, the pure gold of theory becomes carbon).

The press claims that this deliberate media accumulation of obvious counter-truths and delirious inventions (the least of which is seeing terrorist or Stalinist traits in those who radically denounced terrorism teleguided by the State and Stalinism) constitutes a true historical eradiction of the Situationist International. Because that which motivates their hate has been involuntarily acknowledged:

Gerard Lebovici was a "fanatic of the Situationist International, the political and revolutionary movement that was at the origin of the events of May 68" (Rivarol, 16 March 1984).

" . . . the enrage Guy Debord, the leader of the situationists, the most nihilistic, the most destructive of the anarcho-surrealist movements, probably the principal promoter of subversion of 1968" (Present, 10 March 1984).

"But what is situationism? What is its program? It can be described in a few words: 'Discredit the good. Compromise all leaders. Shake their words. Deliver them up to disdain. Utilize vile men. Disorganize authority. Sow discord among the citizens. Turn young against old. Ridicule tradition. Disrupt supplies. Make people listen to lascivious music. Spread lechery.' Or, if one prefers: 'The extreme of nihilism is reached through a decomposition of the system and this is what the Situationist International is skilled in exploiting. We only construct on the ruins of the system'" (Minute, 17 March 1984).

To complete this presentation of the press's exagerrated simplification of the "situationist program," and so as to expose all the lies cited above, it suffices to read any revolutionary text published by Editions Champ Libre. And, when paging through the catalogue, the reader will easily see the subversive value of Editions Champ Libre, and the praise due Gerard Lebovici, which has already been demonstrated in a perfectly sufficient manner.

If now his person is slowing dissolving in our memories, the ideas that Gerard Lebovici defended are still alive, and each revolutionary anticipates that he or she will get revenge in one fashion or another, and not only through the blows dispensed every day against a world that has been condemned. Because it was him, because it is us.

"Les mots et les balles" was originally published as an anonymous pamphlet in Paris in August 1984. Translated by NOT BORED! August 2003.

To read Herve-Claude Lapidaire's hostile review of "Words and Bullets," published on May 1985 by a newspaper that claimed to be "libertarian," click here.

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