Champ Libre to Robert Brecy
30 April 1980

I find your manuscript on the beautiful songs of the [Paris] Commune to be very interesting, and I have quite appreciated the results of your scholarly research.

Having also read the other writings that you sent me, I found the following anecdote, which you relate in Volume XXII of the Revue d’Histoire modern et contemporain apropos of a man named Thorez: “At the end of the 1940s, during a meal that followed the federal conference of the P.C.F.[1] in Troyes,” a delegate sang “Le Drapeau rouge.” You write: “Ah yes, Thorez – the reconciler of the red flag and the tricolor flag [of France] – appreciated it as a connoisseur. . . .”

You did not say: Thorez the bureaucrat; Thorez the enemy of the workers; Thorez the liar; Thorez the Prime Stalinist of France; Thorez the criminal, who covered up all the butcheries of the Russian counter-revolution and, all his life, combatted workers democracy everywhere; or Thorez the accomplice and the man who was one of the most repugnant criminals of the century. No, by forgetting all this, you [simply] note that he was a “connoisseur” of old workers’ songs: in sum, just like you. But Thorez was a connoisseur of many other things as well: workers’ slavery, repression and calumny.

One can believe that you yourself were not a partisan of Thorez’s politics. But then it is much more striking – and much more indicative of the complete baseness of the era – for you to be satisfied with the tyrant’s temporary, amiable caprice, and to cite him, years later, with pride, with the little collusion that was once allowed among the specialists, among the “connoisseurs.”

For Champ Libre’s public, connoisseurs of this type are too redolent of another retinue of servant-connoisseurs: [Jean] Maitron the historian-falsifier of 1968 (he recently wrote the preface to your book, I’ve recently learned!) and his close friend, [Madeleine] Rébérioux-the-Stalinist. There was so much complicity among the diverse, specialized connoisseurs of past social history that their ignominy didn’t allow them to touch [each other], and soon after they were no longer able to do so.

It is with regret that, given what you’ve written and communicated to me, I now know that you aren’t very different from those people.

Gérard Lebovici

P.S. I’ve sent to you, under separate cover, the entirety of the texts that you deposited with me.

[1] The French Communist Party.

(Published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance, Vol. 2, Editions Champ Libre, Paris, 1981. Translated from the French and footnoted by NOT BORED! August 2012.)

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