from Guy Debord

To Juvénal Quillet
22 July 1970
Dear Juju,

At our meeting yesterday we listened to your flowing letter.[1] It was a pleasure for everyone, except perhaps for [René] Riesel, who had read it from one end to the other, almost without stopping to drink, and I believe it was sixty pages long. Riesel is now in the process of responding to it at length, but without claiming to contradict [menacer] the record. I write to you now, more briefly, about several points.

I am quite in agreement with you on what the allusions to “Mao-Debordist workerism” mean in the response to the G.R.C.A.[2] (and even more so in all the murmured and not written-down rumors). That is how the comrades in Angers and elsewhere have understood it. And that was how the Chotard-Breteau[3] Holy Family wanted it to be understood.[4]

What I wanted to say in my preceding letter[5] was that, following Brovelli,[6] one will see that the [members of the] C.D.N.[7] defended themselves against your attack on that single point, because it is the only point they could use to sketch out a defense, in bad faith, by saying that, if you alluded to it in general, they only understood that there is a “confusion” with a barely-different phrase that they have actually used, etc. But it hardly matters! The sole fact that they defend themselves on a detail, while you have published a hundred truly terrible accusations, to which they do not offer the least defense, constitutes a total confession on their part. They are too stupid to even understand that.

As the other[8] would say, the petit-bureaucrat scorns with crazy assurance any rationality that might harm him, because he is, at every moment of his sub-existence, confirmed in his assurance by his exclusive association with the actually contemptible heads of his petit-militants.

With regards to Jean Pol Madillac, if you still haven’t responded to his insults, we think that you must let the matter drop. He is actually a phony, [and] quite bizarre. We do not know him, but, during the last two years, he has written to us two or three letters of more-or-less crude or amusing pleasantries, but they also contained several not-stupid points. Each time, we have responded in the same tone, without getting angry. He is a kind of lumpen-instructor, an ex-lieutenant of [French army] parachutists, completely marginal. Rather likeable (given the very little we know him) and completely without pretense. He has surely not wanted to insult you, nor seduce you. He is extremely far from the milieu that we know, you and us.

We are quite in agreement on what you say about the term “situationist” – and we much approve of the clarifications in your pamphlet on theory and on how theory can only find itself to be the theory of the situationists. In fact, it is a quite simple question of a certain organizational practice: [and] practice is what the majority of our enemies refuse us, and this is why these morons attribute to us, en bloc, the theory, as a merit (“surpassed”) and as a defect. There will be – fortunately! – other practical organizations. As soon as there are autonomous revolutionaries who will act and will themselves produce all the necessary theory, the hierarchical-spectacular dramatizations of these awful students [des cons d’étudiants] will disappear along with them.

Your idea about how to deal with Brovelli appears completely correct to us. By recording in severe fashion all his reactions to the preceding letter I addressed to you (as a “non-response” to his) you will find out exactly if he is a bastard or simply an idiot.

Apropos syndicalism, your debate in 1968, before May, was quite archaic, because it is extremely easy to agree on the fact that syndicalism is effectively reformist in nature (in any case, especially for the last sixty years, if one sets apart the more nuanced discussions that one could have about the C.N.T. up until 1936 and on the really revolutionary traits and the revolutionary illusions that existed in a large part of syndicalism in the 19th century). For dozens of years, the customary discussion among ultra-leftists begins with this observation; there then resurges the eternal propositions concerning the three or four possibilities – always the same ones, always made ridiculous by experience – that “revolutionaries” can “utilize” so as to have an efficacious “role” in the unions. As far as our differences thereupon with Chotard, they were constant until the end. We certainly had them around March 1968, but not more than before or afterwards. In general, Chotard almost approved of us, but with nuances or reservations that he expressed as regrets. There had been much sweetness in his disagreement, and even declared uncertainty. And this began again the next time. But one finds that it was indeed his right to turn round and round with his own head, rather than advance by enthusiastically adopting ideas that in fact remained foreign to him (this was evidently tied to his Nantese practices, but also reinforced the worst aspects of these practices). Thus Chotard never finds himself faced with a break on this question, nor any kind of pressure. We consider him to be autonomous; he doesn’t at all represent us, and he doesn’t owe us anything. We have never broken off dialogue with an[y] autonomous (and very likeable) individual for some unsettled theoretical divergences. By contrast, we have broken off dialogue, two or three hundred times, [and] immediately, on account of things like the Guin affair.[9]

Your critique of the brave boy-scouts[10] of the G.R.C.A. is correct, except that it is perhaps too kind to describe them as Hegelians, even if you say “ignorant Hegelians.” They’ve read I.S., which taught them to read the newspapers, but not I.S.

Best wishes,
Guy Debord

[1] Translator: the French here, lettre-fleuve, literally means “letter-river.” Such a letter might be very lengthy as well as flowing.

[2] Groupe Revolutionnaire Conseillist d’Agitation, founded by Jacques Le Glou, Alain Chevalier, Francois Lécuyer and Jean-Louis Rancon in January 1970 and disbanded by the last two in February 1972. [Translator: Jacques Le Glou had been and would, later on, be a friend of Guy Debord, while Alain Chevalier was excluded from the Situationist International.]

[3] Translator: Yves Chotard, to whom Debord wrote on 17 December 1967 and 28 February 1969. Jean Breteau was a radical student, active during May 1968.

[4] Translator: it would appear that Chotard and Breteau, members of the Council of Nantes, responded to something written by the G.R.C.A., and that this response included references to “Mao-Debordist workerism.” Furthermore, it would appear that Quillet’s letter (read aloud at a meeting of the French section of the SI) in part concerned the references to Debord and, presumably, to the SI.

[5] Translator: see letter dated 6 July 1970.

[6] Translator: Gérard Brovelli, a future professor of political science at the University of Nantes.

[7] Conseil de Nantes [The Council of Nantes].

[8] Translator: Karl Marx.

[9] Cf. letter of 21 June 1969 to the Council of Nantes, and I.S. #12.

[10] Translator: English in original.

(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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