from Guy Debord

To the Italian section of the SI
Paris, 11 February 1970
Dear comrades,

We have just received your letter of the 8th [February 1970] to the French section (as well as the document intended for Eduardo[1]). Your letter can only be formally discussed at our next meeting, on the 18th. But we can already note the following:

We must note that the confusion of the debate in the Italian section – which you have all denounced – is in the process of spreading to the relations between our [two] sections.

The French section approved comrade Riesel[2] when, at Wolsfeld,[3] he declared he was satisfied “with the decisions taken” by the Italian section. But the problem lies in the execution of these decisions.

Since Wolsfeld, we have learned – through our meeting with Eduardo as well as by reading the attached letter[4] from Claudio[5] (the only letter from the Italian section [properly speaking] was exclusively devoted to a long analysis of the crisis of Italian capitalism) – that the internal problems of the Italian section have reached a degree that is more than worrisome.

We see therein a lack of theoretic-practical comprehension of the entirety of the problem, an incapacity to clearly recognize the priority of the most fundamental urgencies and elements of the problem. A certain lack of real dialectics (that is to say, in the concrete) is clear in the attached letter from Claudio. He writes that, “in this affair, the loyalty of no one is in question.” This is certainly true in the positivist sense that no Italian comrade has ever advanced such a hypothesis. But in this same letter from Claudio, with respect to the “opposing positions,” he says this: “We imagine them: one hardly hears them, and they disappear.” Therefore, for someone who has the least experience with real organizational conflicts, this unquestionably means that the hypothesis of a lack of loyalty has already been posed objectively. This hypothesis can, naturally, be rejected (and in our opinion, that is the case), but not ignored.

Beyond these questions of method, your response indicates an important difference between you and us in the evaluation of qualitative questions relating to membership in the SI (and thus relating to possible faults in that membership). This is certainly the principal divergence that exists between us. From now on, we must at least constitute tendencies that openly expose their views and [those] who participates in them. We must also envision the possibility of a split, either before a struggle between these tendencies, or even afterwards.

Best wishes,

[1] Eduardo Rothe, a member of the Italian section of the Situationist International, then staying in Paris.

[2] René Riesel, a member of the French section of the SI.

[3] German town at which the delegates meeting of the SI was held 17-19 January 1970.

[4] Not included in this volume of Debord’s letters.

[5] Claudio Pavan, a member of the Italian section.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol "4": Janvier 1969 - december 1972 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2004. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2012. Footnotes by the translator.)

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