from Guy Debord

To Daniel Blanchard[1]
13 June 1961
Dear Daniel

I believe, as you have written, that the S[ituationist] I[nternational] draws closer to the real (complete) revolutionary enterprise. The most recent adherents are very engaged in this regard. This even goes as far as overthrowing the equilibrium of the German section, which has long been our nightmare. In the last week of May [1961], at the moment that the German journal was supposed to have come out, it was seized at the printer for the following reasons: violation of the fundamental laws [of Germany], incitement to revolution, pornography, blasphemy, perversion of youth and offense to the personalities of the Church. It was [in short] a question of unitary urbanism.

After several exclusions (or resignations), which are already established or to be expected, we aren't without hope of soon being disencumbered of the aesthetes and jokers.

In July [1961], we will publish the next issue of the French journal. I think it will be more interesting than its predecessor.

As for S[ocialisme] ou B[arbarie], things go well on certain sides. The article by Chatel[2] is a mere detail, although truly idiotic. As you know, I have defended our positions in another text, "For a Revolutionary Judgment of Art,"[3] which has not met a very large response on the "official" side of the organization, but which has circulated well enough in manuscript. Moreover, Chatel quit the organization shortly afterwards, and the polemic is over. The true difficulty, centrally and heavily resented by almost everyone, is that it proves that the [S. ou B.] group has passed to a superior stage of action, has transformed itself into an effective revolutionary organization (it possesses the theoretical base and a good number of sufficiently conscious militants), by breaking with the aspect of a "circle of specialized intellectual discussions" that now corresponds to a surpassed effort, but has left behind clumsy habits. Which renders less exigent the contestation of the clumsy habits of the totality of the social life to which we must submit everywhere.

On this question, I have been led to withdraw from the field of relations with the [S. ou B.] organization (copy of my letter enclosed).[4] But understanding well that I remain as sympathetic as possible. Moreover, three situationists are in the Belgian Pouvoir Ouvrier group. In Paris, I remain in quite close contact with five or six of the young militants who constitute, in my mind, the most advanced tendency of the French organization -- this can hardly be fixed in the classical terms of political opposition, but we say that, if Vega represents the conservation of a certain theoretical antiquity in Pouvoir Ouvrier, the comrades of whom I speak are obviously, on the basis of the texts by Chaulieu-Cardan [Cornelius Castoriadis], on the "left," though without appreciating the centrist (or "presidential") position, which is generally that of Barjot [Castoriadis] in the everyday life of the organization.

The existence of this (in fact, very recent) current certainly isn't the sole encouraging point in the developments, numerical or otherwise, of Pouvoir Ouvrier since Autumn [1960]. To cite only the English group, there are workers and capacities for collective action that are entirely admirable.

Your absence has surely made it harder to have discussions that are essential. If you had been in Paris in April-May [1961], I think that certain positions would have been more easily understood inside the French organization. One will now understand them much later.

Are you returning this summer? We will be very happy to see you, Michele [Bernstein] and I. The others, too.

Cordially yours,

[1] Alias P. Canjuers [co-author with Guy Debord of Preliminaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program, 20 July 1960].

[2] Sebastien Chatel, pseudonym of Sebastien de Diesbach, member of Socialisme ou Barbarie.

[3]In which it is noted: "Drafted in February 1961 after the appearance of S. Chatel's critique of [Jean-Luc Godard's] 'Breathless.' This text aims to instaurate a discussion inside the Pouvoir Ouvrier organization, at the same moment that comrades in the Situationist International have been engaged in communal work with Pouvoir Ouvrier. We specify that G.-E. Debord is a member of the Situationist International."

[4] Letter of 5 May 1961.

(Published in Guy Debord, Correspondance, Volume 2, 1960-1964. All footnotes by Alice Debord. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! April 2005.)

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