Truthful Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy

Translator’s Introduction

“There is scarce truth enough alive to make societies secure; but security enough to make fellowships accursed. Much upon this riddle runs the wisdom of the world. This news is old enough, yet it is every day’s news.” William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act III Scene II, lines 216-220.

The origins of Censor’s Truthful Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy lie in the exchanges that Gianfranco Sanguinetti had with Guy Debord at the end of 1971, when these two men were drafting the documents that would eventually be published in La Véritable Scission dans L’Internationale (Paris: Editions Champ Libre, April 1972). Concerned with documenting the post-1968 history of the Situationist International (“SI”), which Debord had co-founded in 1957 and Sanguinetti had joined in 1969, and with continuing situationist subversion after the impending dissolution of the group, they struck upon the idea of publishing an essay titled “The Class Struggles in Italy.”[1]

In the words of Debord’s letter to Sanguinetti dated 3 January 1973,[2] such a text – now envisioned as a short book – would need to have the “trenchant” and “assured” tone of Machiavelli’s The Prince. Under the heading “Notes on the book in progress,” Debord made the following suggestions.

1. Italy before the crisis. The Italian miracle took place in a relatively backwards country, but within the platoon of the industrially advanced countries, and in the country that had the strongest Stalinist party in the West. Among the causes of the remarkable expansion of the Italian economy – linked to the global process – was the fact that Italy had a proletariat that was deeply involved (compared to the Spanish conditions of the same period).

2. The origins of the crisis. The university and high school students of 1967, stimulated by the agitations of the rest of the world (the USA, Strasbourg) and clashing with much more archaic conditions (the Zanzara affair). Role of the influence of the Situationist International then and, later, when the occupations movement developed by agitating for factory committees in the north.

3. The Battipaglia process to the hot summer of 1969; then the hot autumn (here, the role of the Italian journal, the Venice Conference, your poster from November, etc.).

4. The bomb. What it was; what ends it served. Unfortunate story of Pinelli-Valpreda. The SI at that moment (Reichstag).

5. The ownership classes in their conscious and coordinated struggle against the proletarian revolution: the bourgeoisie and its disinherited younger sister – the Italian branch of the bureaucracy. Their negotiations for an “honest” division, among associates, of possession of Italian capitalism (via the State). How bureaucratic politics is difficult* and how its very success left it the poor share [of the spoils].

*One can only content the workers by buying them off; and if they are actually content, one no longer needs to pay them. But if one goes too far in contenting the workers, one risks completely losing control over them. And so it is necessary, not only to pay them, but to also accord a number of advantages to them (but according them too much radicalizes them, etc.)

6. The ripening of the crisis after the recoil due to the bomb. Reggio. The situation today (Agnelli and his anticipations, the attached article from Le Monde, etc.). The point reached by the F.A.I. in its worried hatred of the SI, a thousand other symptoms, without forgetting the revolts in the prisons, which have since spread to America and France.

7. What the proletariat wants; and how it can obtain it.

The central event in this chronology is “the bomb,” that is to say, the bomb that exploded at the Piazza Fontana in Milan on 12 December 1969. Though the authorities defined the attack as an instance of terrorism and blamed it on anarchists (Giuseppe Pinelli and Pietro Valpreda were arrested shortly thereafter), the situationists believed that the attack was actually a “false flag” operation that had been planned and perpetrated by the secret services of the Italian State. On 19 December 1969, the Italian section of the SI published Il Reichstag Brucia?, which, as its title indicates (“Is the Reichstag Burning?”), likened the event to the Nazis setting fire to the Reichstag building on 27 February 1933 and blaming the attack on the Communists. Though they were virtually alone in making this claim, the Italian situationists were right: the bombing at the Piazza Fontana was the beginning of what later came to be called “the strategy of tension.”

Sanguinetti took Debord’s suggestions very seriously; one might even say that he took them literally. Not only does the Truthful Report contain seven chapters, but the contents of those seven chapters match up almost exactly with the contents of the seven sections in Debord’s outline, as well.

But there is a crucial difference between the two. In Debord’s outline, the person writing the history and analysis of Italian capitalism – the person attempting to show why the Italian State had recourse to a false flag operation against its own people – would be a real person (even if, like the authors of “Il Reichstag Brucia?” he didn’t use his real name) and he would speak in his own voice and from the perspective of the situationist movement (the perspective of proletarian revolution). But the author of the Truthful Report is imaginary, a character who speaks words that have been placed in his mouth by a situationist. Furthermore, this character – he calls himself “Censor,” a pseudonym that evokes the officer in ancient Rome who was tasked with supervising public morality and governmental finances[3] – is not an anti-capitalist revolutionary and he doesn’t seek to destroy capitalism in Italy. He claims that he is a conservative member of the ruling class and that he wishes to save it.

Thus, unlike Debord’s outline, which anticipates a “simple” subversion, Sanguinetti’s Truthful Report is doubly subversive: in addition to using the truth to attack authority (not just “the authorities,” but authority as such), it uses a usurped authority to do so. Significantly, though the idea to create Censor and use him to write the text of the Truthful Report was Sanguinetti’s idea, he wasn’t the first situationist to undertake a double subversion. In point of fact, it was the use of such techniques – the détournement (diversion) of other people’s ideas, the provocation of using them for subversive purposes, and the scandal caused by eventually revealing what one has done and why one has done it – that made the Situationist International such a powerful and effective organization, despite its small size, limited means, and short duration.

For example: in October 1966, the SI teamed up with a small group of radical students at the University of Strasbourg to publish On the Poverty of Student Life, which was a virulent attack on both French capitalism and the ineffectiveness of student protest movements. Written by a situationist (Mustapha Khayati)[4] and published under the auspices and with the funds of the official student union, On the Poverty of Student Life not only caused a major scandal in Strasbourg, but, thanks to the fact that it was widely distributed outside of Strasbourg and translated into several other languages, it also contributed to the growth of the revolutionary movement in France, Europe and the United States.

But Sanguinetti was certainly the first ex-situationist to use these situationist tactics after the dissolution of the SI. Thus he extended the subversion to a third level: not only did he use a usurped authority to attack authority as such, he also did so as an autonomous person, without the “authority” of the SI to back him up.

In the planning and execution of what came to be called “Operation Censor,” Sanguinetti received help and encouragement from Ariberto Mignoli, who was his lawyer and friend, as well as from Guy Debord. According to “The Doge: A Recollection,” which Sanguinetti wrote and published in 2012,[5] the character of Censor was based upon Mignoli (aka “the Doge”), and that, when Mignoli read the manuscript of the Truthful Report, he recognized himself in it. But though Mignoli was not an anti-capitalist revolutionary, he wasn’t a supporter of Italy’s ruling class, either. In Sanguinetti’s words, “he scorned it as much as he knew it up-close.”

Sanguinetti worked on the manuscript of the Truthful Report all through 1973 and 1974. A good deal of it must have been finished during those years because, in a letter dated 15 October 1974,[6] Debord told his friend that “the beginning of your pamphlet seems magnificent to me,” that “all goes for the best” where “the tone, the dedication, [and] the pseudonym” were concerned, and that, “the Italian situation being what it is, I believe – fuck! – that this text could produce an effect much greater than the Poverty did in 1966.” But Debord also warned Sanguinetti “it is necessary to finish work immediately,” because there’s always “the chance that the text might be rendered obsolete by new events.”

Doing his best, Sanguinetti was still working on the manuscript in early 1975. “I prepared for [the publication of the Truthful Report] amidst a thousand dangers and unexpected events,” he writes in “The Doge.”

In March of that year, I was imprisoned in Florence and charged by the principal Italian anti-terrorist prosecutor, Pier Luigi Vigna, on the very day that I was transporting the Censor manuscript to the printer in Milan. I was intercepted because the police had to know that I was preparing something and because Mignoli’s phone was tapped because of the bankruptcy of a bank for which he was momentarily the attorney (at the time, I had no telephone as a precaution against taps). To arrest me, the police planted and ‘found’ bullets from a machinegun in the car in which I was traveling. The manuscript was saved because it had been placed in the violin case of my companion, Katherine Scott, who – along with my friend Mario Masanzanica – were also arrested. The manuscript thus had the singular luck of entering and leaving, unperceived, the women’s prison at Santa Verdiana in Florence. The Doge furnished me with the best criminal-defense attorney in Florence, Terenzio Ducci, who, despite all expectations, got me out of prison in eight days.

The Italian political police were surveilling and harassing Sanguinetti for a number of reasons. First and foremost, despite the explosion of the bomb at the Piazza Fontana and other similar acts that were designed to intimidate them or portray them “terrorists,” the revolutionary parts of the Italian working class had continued to go out on strike, to sabotage their places of work, and to receive support from other parts of Italian society. Second, despite the fact that the SI had dissolved in 1972, situationist ideas were an essential part of the revolutionary movement. Finally, Sanguinetti himself was seen as one of the most dangerous situationists. He had been summarily expelled from France on 21 July 1971 for his membership in the SI; he had worked on the film version of Debord’s book La Société du Spectacle, released in 1973; and, as he says, he was obviously preparing to do something, though the authorities didn’t know what it was.

In June 1975, Sanguinetti finally finished working on his book. The following month, a Milanese printer by the name of Dario Memo set to work using the monotype process and special, high-quality paper to produce a luxury edition of Censor’s Rapporto veridico sulle ultima opportunita di salvare il capitalismo in Italia. Only 520 individually numbered copies were made. Ostensibly published by Bergio Scotti-Camuzzi, who was in fact not a publisher, but Mignoli’s cousin, the book was sent by mail in August 1975 to 520 Italian politicians, industrialists, union leaders and journalists, whose names and addresses had been furnished to Sanguinetti by Mignoli.

“We laughed heartily when we received [via Scotti-Camuzzi] the letters of thanks from government ministers and high-level civil servants, that is to say, all those who believed that Censor was real and sincere: Giulio Andreotti, Aldo Moro, Guido Carli (the governor of the Bank of Italy), Giorgio Amendola, Pietro Nenni, the Prefect of Milan, the High Council of the Magistracy, etc.,” Sanguinetti recalls in “The Doge.” The laughter intensified in October 1975, when the publisher Ugo Mursia brought out an inexpensive and widely distributed edition of the Truthful Report. In fact, this edition was so popular and so well reviewed in the Italian press that Mursia reprinted it twice over the course of the following two months.

We might well wonder how it was that Censor’s book was not immediately recognized as a fake. After all, it was a fake, and, if one knew how to read between the lines (or even some of the lines themselves), it was an obvious one. Furthermore, fakes and their exposure had been in the news for several years before then. For example, in 1968, the Hungarian painter Elmyr de Hory, who had been forging dozens of paintings and selling them off to some of the most prestigious galleries and museums in the world for more than twenty years, was finally unmasked and imprisoned. In 1969, de Hory told his story to the American novelist Clifford Irving, who not only published Fake! The Story of Elmyr de Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time, but also, two years later, went on to perpetrate a fake of his own, the infamous Autobiography of Howard Hughes, for which he was imprisoned in 1972. To complete this cycle, in March 1975 the American film director Orson Welles released a feature-length film, F. for Fake, which documented the rise and fall of both de Hory and Irving.

It is obvious that fakers succeed by fooling the experts. Their fakes are “so good” that “even the experts” can’t tell the difference. But Welles’ contention was that this commonplace observation, i.e., fakers succeed despite the experts, has things backwards. In point of fact, fakers succeed because of the experts. It is because of the authority of experts – which is based upon the inability of everyone else to make educated decisions on their own and their consequent willingness to rely unquestioningly on the experts’ judgments (which, in truth, are only their opinions) – that fakes are not only possible, but also highly lucrative when they are successfully perpetrated. Fool the expert, and you’ve managed to fool everyone else, in one fell swoop. In Welles’ words,

What’s new? Experts are the new oracles. They speak to us with the absolute authority of the computer. And we bow down before them. They’re God’s own gift to the faker […] “It’s pretty but is it art?” How is it valued? The value depends on opinion. Opinion depends on the experts. A faker like Elmyr makes fools of the experts. So who’re the experts? Who’s the faker?[7]

Experts are merely authenticators, not creators in their own right. So as not to be exposed as the fakers that they truly are, they must be experts in two fields: their own particular area of expertise, whatever that may be (modern art or fine wines or political analysis); and the ability to dissimulate instances in which they have been fooled.

Not surprisingly, it is rare that the existence of fakes, once they have been discovered, is publicized. If a fake has been exposed after it has been widely accepted as the real thing, then one is entitled to wonder: how many other, similar things are also fake? But the people who have made purchases or decisions based upon the mistaken opinions of the experts do not want to find out the answer to this question. They prefer not to know, because, if the full extent of fakery were revealed, the entire market for a particular product might collapse and they would be wiped out.

Thus we have our answer. In Italy in 1975, the Truthful Report was not denounced as a fake because its author seemed to be an expert, someone who was well acquainted with many State secrets. He might have been bluffing, but what if he wasn’t? If he said that the bombing of the Piazza Fontana had been perpetrated by the Italian secret services, and that didn’t jibe with what you thought you knew about it, then maybe you weren’t really privy to the truth. And yet the very fact that such an apparently knowledgeable person had taken you into his confidence seemed to be an indication that you were in fact a real expert. At least Censor recognized you as one. Any suggestion that his book was a fake opened you to the accusation that you were in fact not a real expert, but a fake one. And so, in the interests of maintaining your own status as an insider, you kept your doubts (if you had any) to yourself. And then, after the book was published commercially, no one among its secondary audience – ordinary men and women – was willing to proclaim that the thing was a fake because that would have contradicted the unanimous judgment of the “real” experts. And if they didn’t think that Censor’s book was a fake, then why should you, i.e., someone who lacked expertise, think otherwise?

By the same token, these insights about expertise explain how and why fakes and hoaxes have continued to exist and be successful. One would think that, precisely because we now live in a world in which more people have access to more information about more subjects, fakes and hoaxes would be impossible to perpetrate. For example, if you search on-line for the phrase “lying in the age of the Internet,” you will see that the unanimous opinion is that it is no longer possible to lie: the widespread availability of information makes “getting caught” inevitable. But the simple truth is that, precisely because of the spectacular increase in the quantity of information, which requires time to wade through and evaluate, the bad quality of a lot of that information, and the speed with which it piles up, the numbers of and reliance upon experts have steadily increased. As a result, the numbers of successful hoaxes and fakes have increased proportionately. The year 2013, for example, has been called “the year of the hoax.”[8]

In January 1976, Sanguinetti published an essay titled Prova dell’inesistenza di Censore, enunciate dal suo autore, which revealed that Censor did not exist and that he himself had written the Rapporto verdico. Precisely because no one had doubted the existence of Censor or had questioned the veracity of the claims that Censor had made (particularly where the Piazza Fontana and the State’s use of “artificial terrorism” to stop proletarian subversion were concerned), a major scandal ensued. In an attempt to make that scandal international in nature, Editions Champ Libre brought out a volume that included Véridique rapport sur les dernières chances de sauver le capitalisme en Italie, which was Guy Debord’s translation of the text into French, plus Debord’s translation of the Prova dell’inesistenza di Censore and selections from the book’s extremely positive reviews in the Italian press.

In February 1976, calumnied by the Italian newspapers that had been so easily and completely duped by “Operation Censor” and hounded by the political police, who now found a new reason to harass him, Sanguinetti fled Italy. Even though he had been deported from France in 1971, he attempted to re-enter that country, where he had friends and supporters. Furthermore, the man who had been responsible for his expulsion, Minister of the Interior Raymond Marcellin, was no longer in office. But Sanguinetti wasn’t allowed in, not even temporarily.

To bring this news to the attention of the readers of France’s newspapers, which had not seen fit to publish a single word about it, Debord wrote a bitter and sarcastic statement on behalf of Editions Champ Libre. Published as an advertisement in the 24 February 1976 issue of Le Monde,[9] it focused on the failure of France’s “post-modern” academics and the rest of the intelligentsia to register the existence of, not to mention denounce, the government’s decision to refuse Sanguinetti entry.

We do not have the presumptuousness to insinuate that the critique of capitalism could at all concern our contemporaries, their work, their ways of making a living, their ideas or their pleasures. We do not ignore the facts that, even as a subject for scholarly discussion limited to a small number of experts, the very justness of the concept of that critique has been controversial and that capitalism, as a hypothesis, is no longer of contemporary interest, because the Thought of [the Université de] Vincennes – at which the best-recycled professors have decided upon the dissolution of history and the prohibition of the criteria of truthfulness in discourse, which is something that is very rich in consequences for them – recently leapt beyond it.

Furthermore, we are not assured that, somewhere, there really exists a geographical (and an economically quite weak) entity called Italy. And, where Italy’s economy is concerned, the eminent leaders of the Common Market – even if the principle of the free circulation of commodities is as much their affair as the free circulation of people – have other reasons to doubt its existence.

The actual existence of Gianfranco Sanguinetti himself – either as the author of a Western samizdat or as the target of some liberal-advanced Gulag – is highly questionable. If we, on the unique basis of the magnitude of a public rumor (which also remains outside of our borders), allow ourselves to positively affirm the reality of his existence, his writings and the diverse and harmless police persecutions that have followed from them, one could retort that no one here in France has ever heard of him, and we [as his publisher] feel all the weight of such an objection.

We will also frankly state that we know a number of estimable people who, working for the newspapers or the distributors of books, do not hide the fact that they have been led to conclude that Editions Champ Libre also does not exist, and, for our part, we do not pretend to have the boldness to settle such an obscure question and thus go against the honest convictions of so many competent people by basing ourselves only upon our contingent desires and limited personal interests.

Given all this, we nevertheless will not allow ourselves to leave open the question of knowing if the world in which we live – the world of which you read all the most up-to-date news every day – truly exists. We are in a position to be assured that, for the moment, it still does.

But Debord’s words fell on deaf ears. Sanguinetti was left to fend for himself. He eventually returned to Italy, where, undeterred, he went on to write several new texts, including On Terrorism and the State, which was published in 1979.

* * *

Though it was published almost 40 years ago, the Truthful Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy is certainly worthy of being read and studied closely today. Historians of the situationist movement in general and the development of the thought of Guy Debord in particular will find it especially valuable. Though few have remarked this fact, the Truthful Report (and Sanguinetti’s subsequent book, On Terrorism and the State) had a powerful influence on Debord’s last major theoretical work, Comments on the Society of the Spectacle, which was published in 1988. Attentive readers will note a strong similarity between the five major historical developments presented in Chapter I of the former and the five principal features of “the society modernized to the stage of the integrated spectacle” presented in Chapter V of the latter.[10] For Debord, what had taken place in Italy in the 1970s was the harbinger of what was taking place in the entire world during the late 1980s because “the predominant place that Russia and Germany held in the formation of the concentrated spectacle, and that the United States held in that of the diffuse spectacle, seems to belong to France and Italy in the putting into place of the integrated spectacle, through the play of a series of shared historical factors: the important role of the Stalinist party and unions in political and intellectual life, a weak democratic tradition, the long monopoly on power by a single party of government, and the necessity to put an end to unexpected revolutionary contestation.”[11] For Debord, it had been in France and Italy that the terrorism – “artificial terrorism,” which isn’t violence perpetrated against the State by extremists, but violence launched by the State against itself or the population that it rules – that came to dominate the entire world was first practiced.

The Truthful Report was also important to one of Sanguinetti’s friends, Pier Franco Ghisleni, who used the tactic of usurped authority to generate Lettere agli eretici: Epistolario con i dirigenti della nuova sinistra italiana (“Letters to the Heretics: Correspondence with the Leaders of the New Italian Left”). Not only was this satirical work attributed to Enrico Berlinguer, the head of the Italian Communist Party, but it also presented itself as if it had been printed by the publishing house founded and run by Giulio Einaudi. Though the Lettere agli eretici did not create the immense scandal that was caused by the Truthful Report, it did create a minor sensation.

What about writers who were not members of the SI or one of Sanguinetti’s friends? As Sanguinetti himself has said, “The Situationist International is historically confirmed as a true avant-garde only to the extent that its practices and theories have been applied, taken up, developed, détourned, publicized, etc., by other groups and individuals in other forms, situations, conditions, etc.”[12] Though they may or may not have modeled their respective actions on the Truthful Report in particular, all of the following contemporary individuals or groups have certainly been explicitly inspired by the SI’s use of détournement, provocation and scandal: the American activist group the Yes Men, whose members create fake websites and pretend to be corporate spokesmen; the American pro-privacy group the Surveillance Camera Players, which compiles and releases maps of the locations of publicly installed surveillance cameras; the English artist Banksy, whose graffiti art is a form of vandalism; the Russian punk band Pussy Riot, which plays scandalous songs in provocative settings; and the Czech art group Ztohoven, which hacks into State TV broadcasts and official government ceremonies.

But what about the contents of the Truthful Report? Even though it recorded the history of Italy between 1943 and 1975, and even though it made history in 1975 and 1976, this book is virtually never mentioned in discussions of State-sponsored terrorism or “false flag operations,” even when anti-capitalist revolutionaries hold those discussions. The same goes for Sanguinetti’s On Terrorism and the State. Neither book is mentioned in any of the many studies that have been published on these subjects,[13] nor are they cited in any of the Wikipedia entries for “Operation Gladio,” “Gladio in Italy,” “the strategy of tension,” “the years of lead,” “false flag” or “state terrorism,” or in any of the archives maintained by, a libertarian Marxist website.

Perhaps the reason for the spectacular absence of references to and discussions of Sanguinetti’s books is that copies of them are hard to come by. Small presses published both the Truthful Report and On Terrorism and the State and, as a general rule, book reviewers and the book-buying public ignore the publications of small presses. But it seems that something else is at work here and, in fact, has been at work for many years.

In January 1980, in his “Preface” to the French edition of On Terrorism and the State,[14] Sanguinetti himself noted “the quasi-complete silence that has surrounded a book [On Terrorism and the State] that deals with a subject that is spoken about every day, but always in the same mendacious way, on the front pages of all the Italian newspapers as well as on the State-sponsored radio and television stations” and that the existence of his book has been “kept secret by the very people who are believed to have the obligation to speak about terrorism.”

The reason for this silence is, I believe, easy to imagine. Sanguinetti didn’t simply assert what many people refused to believe at the time, namely, that the Italian State had bombed, wounded and even killed some of its constituents. He also denounced those who refused to believe that such a thing could ever happen. And these people, and all those for whom they spoke, never forgave him, even though – or precisely because – history has proved that he was right. Such is the price for proving that the experts have lied: they lie about you; they deny that you even exist.

* * *

The mistake that the Italian secret services made – the mistake that made “Operation Censor” possible – was that they turned the tactic of artificial terrorism into a strategy. Instead of using it sparingly and only when absolutely necessary, they began to use it again and again. As a result, they risked the long-term loss of everything that they had gained in the short term at the Piazza Fontana.

Perhaps this is why there have been no instances of artificial terrorism in the United States since September 11, 2001: the State knows the risks that it runs if it over-uses it. And from the perspective of the State, the false flag operations undertaken on September 11 were completely successful.

But what if the situation in China[15] gets out of control? What if the workers of the United States and Europe – inspired by their counterparts in India and China – become rebellious again? What if critical mass is reached in the clamor to reign in or even cease and roll back the systematic surveillance of the world’s populations by the United States’ intelligence agencies, which, of course, has been done in the name of “fighting terrorism”?

Then Western capitalism might find that one or two more instances of artificial terrorism are “necessary” for its survival. If it does, then a new “Operation Censor” will become possible. I do not relish such a possibility; I simply hope that the revolutionary movement of the future will have one of the weapons that it will need when history starts repeating itself.

* * *

A few notes about the text. Since I do not speak Italian, I have used Guy Debord’s Véridique rapport sur les dernières chances de sauver le capitalisme en Italie as the basis for this translation into English. The Italian original included words and phrases from a number of other languages (mostly Latin, French and English). Debord was careful to preserve this multi-lingual richness as he translated the work as a whole from Italian into French, and I, translating from French into English, have tried to be careful, too. When Censor has quoted from something in English, I have sought out and used the original wording. When Censor has quoted from something in Latin, I have consulted and relied upon the already-established rendering of it into English. All of the footnotes are by me, except where noted. The typographical imprint on page 1 reproduces the 17th century woodblock engraving that Ariberto Mignoli chose for publication in the colophon of the first numbered edition of the Truthful Report. Finally, this edition of Censor’s pamphlet is the first to include an index of the important names, events and places mentioned in the text.

[1] Cf. Debord’s letter to Sanguinetti dated 13 December 1971: “On your side, do not forget that the proletariat, like the publisher, awaits your ‘class struggles in Italy.’” Guy Debord Correspondance, Volume 4, Janvier 1969 – Décembre 1972 (Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2004), p. 452. The phrase itself alludes to Karl Marx, The Class Struggles in France, 1848-1850.

[2] Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Volume 5, Janvier 1973 – Décembre 1978 (Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2005), pp. 14-17.

[3] In a letter to Mustapha Khayati dated 10 December 2012 and included in On Terrorism and the State (Colossal Books, 2014), p. 111, Sanguinetti says the name “Censor” was intended to echo “Bancor, […] the supranational currency invented by Keynes” and that “it was also the penname of Guido Carli, who was the head of the Bank of Italy at the time.”

[4] Guy Debord’s contributions to the success of this scandal cannot be overlooked. Cf. his letters to Khayati dated 9 September 1966, 29 September 1966, 13 October 1966, and 19 October 1966, all of which are included in Guy Debord Correspondance, Volume 3, Janvier 1965 – Décembre 1968 (Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2003), pp. 161-162, 164-165, and 165-168.

[5] Only available on-line.

[6] Guy Debord Correspondance, Volume 5, Janvier 1973 – Décembre 1978 (Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2005), pp. 212-213.

[7] Orson Welles, F. for Fake (1975). My transcription.

[8] Cf. Doug Gross, “2013: The Web’s year of the hoax,” published by CNN on December 18, 2013: “News alert: some things you read on the Internet are not true. As obvious as that may seem, and as savvy as you’d think we’d be a decade after deposed Nigerian princes began e-mailing us with the promise of vast riches, 2013 has turned out to be the Year of the On-line Hoax.”

[9] Reprinted in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondance, Volume I (Paris, 1978), back cover.

[10] Guy Debord, Commentaires sur la société du spectacle, 1992, p. 25.

[11] Ibid., p. 22.

[12] Email message sent to me on 14 August 2012.

[13] Kenneth R. Langford’s An Analysis of Left and Right Wing Terrorism in Italy (Defense Intelligence College, 1985); Leonard Weinberg and William Lee Eubank’s The Rise and Fall of Italian Terrorism (Westview Press, 1987); Richard Drake’s The Revolutionary Mystique and Terrorism in Contemporary Italy (Indiana University Press, 1989); Robert C. Meade’s Red Brigades: The Story of Italian Terrorism (Macmillan, 1990); Raimondo Catanzaro’s The Red Brigades and Left-wing Terrorism in Italy (Pinter, 1991); Marco Rimanelli’s Waning Terror: Red Brigades and Neo-Nazi Terrorism in Italy (World Jurist Association, 1991); Jeffrey McKenzie Bale’s The “Black” Terrorist International: Neo-fascist Paramilitary Networks and the “Strategy of Tension” in Italy, 1968-1974 (University of California, Berkeley, 1994); Paul Ginsborg’s A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 1943-1988 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003); Ganser Daniele’s NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation GLADIO and Terrorism in Western Europe (Routledge, 2004); Silje Dalsbotten Aass’s State Responses to Terrorism in Italy: The Period 1969-1984 (S.D. Aass, 2005); Graeme Allen Stout’s Arrested Images: Discourses of Terrorism in Italy and Germany (University of Minnesota Press, 2006); Anna Cento Bull’s Italian Neo-Fascism: The Strategy of Tension and the Politics of Non-Reconciliation (Berghahn Books, 2007); Pier Paolo Antonello’s Imagining Terrorism: The Rhetoric and Representation of Political Violence in Italy 1969-2009 (MHRA, 2009); and Richard Cottrell’s Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis (Progressive Press, 2012).

[14] Du Terrorisme et de l’etat, translated from the Italian by Jean-François Martos (Le fin mot de l’Histoire, Paris, 1980), pp. 5-6.

[15] Cf. Eli Friedman, “China in Revolt,” Jacobin Magazine, Issue 7-8, August 2012, from which I quote at length because of the very strong similarities between the situations in Italy in the early 1970s and in China today.

“Today, the Chinese working class is fighting. More than thirty years into the Communist Party’s project of market reform, China is undeniably the epicenter of global labor unrest. While there are no official statistics, it is certain that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of strikes take place each year. All of them are wildcat strikes – there is no such thing as a legal strike in China. So on a typical day anywhere from half a dozen to several dozen strikes are likely taking place. More importantly, workers are winning, with many strikers capturing large wage increases above and beyond any legal requirements. […] Strikes […] are never organized by the official Chinese unions, which are formally subordinate to the Communist Party and generally controlled by management at the enterprise level. Every strike in China is organized autonomously, and frequently in direct opposition to the official union, which encourages workers to pursue their grievances through legal channels instead. […] When faced with recalcitrant management, workers sometimes escalate by heading to the streets. This tactic is directed at the government: by affecting public order, they immediately attract state attention. Workers sometimes march to local government offices or simply block a road. Such tactics are risky, as the government may support strikers, but just as frequently will resort to force. Even if a compromise is struck, public demonstrations will often result in organizers being detained, beaten, and imprisoned. Even more risky, and yet still common, is for workers to engage in sabotage and property destruction, riot, murder their bosses, and physically confront the police. Such tactics appear to be more prevalent in response to mass layoffs or bankruptcies. A number of particularly intense confrontations took place in late 2008 and early 2009 in response to mass layoffs in export processing due to the economic crisis in the West. As will be explained, workers may now be developing an antagonistic consciousness vis-à-vis the police. […] A turning point came in the summer of 2010, marked by a momentous strike wave that began at a Honda transmission plant in Nanhai. Since then, there has been a change in the character of worker resistance, a development noted by many analysts. Most importantly, worker demands have become offensive. Workers have been asking for wage increases above and beyond those to which they are legally entitled, and in many strikes they have begun to demand that they elect their own union representatives. […] In just a few years, worker resistance has gone from defensive to offensive. Seemingly small incidents have set off mass uprisings, indicative of generalized anger.”

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