from Guy Debord

To Paolo Salvadori
Copy to Claudio Pavan
Paris, 17 February 1970
Dear Paolo,

I’ve just received your letter of the 14th [February 1970] along with the copy of the letter from Gianfranco[1] (I must make clear that several words or nuances remain inaccessible to me because of the handwriting and the photocopy, but I hope that this is not important). At the same time I received a letter from Claudio,[2] also dated the 14th. The French [situationists] will discuss all of these texts tomorrow.

As this affair has become extremely serious, I believe that it would be useful to respond to you right away concerning several essential points.

1) It is indispensible to immediately constitute tendencies because we have come to the point at which the suspicion that there has been a real secret faction [in the SI] has already arisen (it is obvious that all letters must be communicated to everyone).

2) The tendency that we have already formed here[3] wants the complete clarification of the detestable obscurities that have arisen since December. This tendency has no agreement at all with Claudio. The fact that Eduardo[4] has already declared himself in favor of this tendency signifies that certain personal sympathies and apparent theoretical accords between them have no organizational consequences.

3) Our tendency is opposed to any possibility of personal resignation [from the SI] in such an affair. If opposed tendencies clearly expose theoretical or practical incompatibilities, the normal result is a split. Then each autonomous group will have to make historical proof of its truth.

4) We are not partisans of making cases against all the nuances that could coexist at this moment among us (on the greater or lesser importance of dialectical theory in a revolution – since we all think that it is very important; on the precise modalities of acceptable resignations – since we all agree that it is acceptable in principle, etc. etc.), and even less to dwell on the overly unilateral formulations that easily arise in any polemic. What we must define are the fundamental oppositions, [that is to say] the points that, among our current comrades, are considered to be vital for the practice of a communal organization.

5) For our tendency, the three very worrisome points, before your collective letter of 8 February, were:

a) the fact that Gianfranco had been suspected, on two occasions, of having reported inexact organizational information (in the first case, this suspicion had been proved by our communal examination in Paris).

b) the fact Gianfranco had also clearly lacked “savoir-vivre,” as far as being a revolutionary (and the necessity of not letting it continue).

c) the fact that vague confrontations, without communicable formulations or practical consequences (except, obviously, an unfortunate climate of hostility and discouragement), were continuing to take place in the Italian section in January [1970].

6) But the immediately unacceptable point – for our tendency – was your letter of 8 February, which we have certainly not considered in isolation (on its own, simply concerning its argumentation, and despite its polemical aspects and its affectation of not understanding our letter of the 4th [January]). It is in the real context of December-January that it is unacceptable, and especially when one considers its total incompatibility with the letter that Claudio also signed on 5 February. It is in this sense that this letter would be “retracted” by anybody whose eyes are open to real contradictions. The general sense of your response was, “Everything’s going well here, so what’s your problem?” Today no one among you could believe that such innocence is real [de mise]. The time of the omerta is truly over.

I believe that I have noted herein the principal basis of the discussion, keeping in mind all the facts that are currently known to me. Claudio will show you the letter that we wrote to him on the 16th.

I will now speak of a related point, with respect to “loyalty.” In point of fact, all the comrades of the Italian section have, at least until now, always reciprocally recognized the loyalty of everyone (while, on the contrary, some French [situationists] estimate that Gianfranco’s tendencies to thoughtlessness – the end of which they have not seen – end up in practice with the same result as intentional disloyalty). But we’ve raised here a question of method, not a hypothesis about a fact. Claudio (in his letter of the 14th, point #3) responds to Christian[5] that he must only take his phrase “the loyalty of anyone is not in question”) as a simple positivist affirmation, which would mean that no one had raised this question! Claudio’s nonsense is complete. Justly so, we have understood very well that Claudio would like to say, using this precise phrase, that he judges no one to be disloyal. Nevertheless, at the same time, Claudio speaks of elusive “adverse positions” that always return to disturb the debate, but which are fleeting, so that one is reduced to “imagining” them. As a result, Claudio exactly describes an organizational situation of sabotage and disloyalty. He says, in addition, that no one has envisioned this disloyalty. We say that this type of assurance, in the final analysis, can only have the positivist sense critiqued by Christian because, in reality, disloyalty is very precisely evoked, and by Claudio himself, in the very letter that claims to deny its existence.

One can’t make anything good, not even a correct split, with this type of equivocation. Thus we are resolved to specify everything, according to our customary practice of a rigorous and irreversible debate, so that each [member] can choose his camp.

Best wishes,

[1] Translator: Gianfranco Sanguinetti, a member of the Italian section of the Situationist International.

[2] Translator: Claudio Pavan, a member of the Italian section of the SI.

[3] See letter dated 14 February 1970.

[4] Translator: Eduardo Roth, a member of the Italian section.

[5] Translator: Christian Sebastiani, member of the French 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 publisher, except where noted.)

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