from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
Tuesday, 25 May 1971
Dear Gianfranco,

Today, after your telegram, I received your letter #1, dated 20 May [1971]. Thus I am reassured about the workings of the mail.

But note that:

1) I haven’t received Il Principe[1] or the postcard, which seems to say that disorder continues in the Italian postal system; and

2) I sent a letter numbered 1.

I was deceived about the pathetic people from Torino: they have actually dared to write to us, and to parade their scandalous stupidity with bad faith. We will actually respond to them. Briefly, and violently.

They are quite exactly everything that we said they were. But as far as their tactics, after having seen all the documents, I believe that they could have been a little different at the beginning. Here’s my hypothesis: they did not want a break with you (too dangerous, since they did not want a break with the SI). That cunt [la conne] “merely” wanted to mistreat you, to show herself to be “more intelligent” and “stronger” than you in the discussion so that:

a) she could definitely improve her image in the eyes of her “man,” who for too long had been at your feet, which humiliated the cunt and limited her power over Puni;[2] [and]

b) to show herself clearly as an “autonomous intelligence” and the leader of the pro-SI movement, and even the SI, in Italy!

But this stupid tactic, having been taken – obviously with the stupidity [connerie] that one has seen –, inevitably obtained for her your reaction of breaking off discussion. What was so obvious, so foreseeable, has surprised and frightened them. At this moment, they have nothing other to do than rise to your challenge: they’ve demanded your exclusion [from the SI]. Thus they make it seem they’ve found total infamies in your text (the only terrain for a break that they could discover). Of course, at this point, hysteria could lead one to believe it a little. But they must sense that their claim is weak; they would have preferred to make a moderate critique (to show their relative “superiority”) rather than to risk everything on a total confrontation that judges your text and on the indignant protests that they could devote to it.

The metaphysical idealism that makes them unilaterally reconstruct several concepts (tactics, influence) – which they don’t know have been employed by all of us in this debate – is mixed together with the crudest special effects in pseudo-polemics. This recalls several aspects of the Garnautins and the pro-Garnautins in Strasbourg.[3] In Strasbourg, the adventure only lasted three months, and there were no workers involved.

I’ve already prepared the note on this affair for I[nternationale] S[ituationniste] #13.[4]

In general, advance to the maximum all that you must write for this issue.

We are hard at work. This project is immense (we might perhaps reduce the extent of certain subjects that are well-known to all, like [the recent events in] Poland). One cannot say that we’ve worked quickly.[5] But at present all the bases, or almost all, are established for this issue. And we begin to have well-drafted texts. Now it will be useful to confront our writings, and come up with a good unified presentation.

I end on the most urgent practical point: you’ve set your return here around 1, 2 or 3 June. At this moment, I must leave Paris for several days.[6] Thus I think that you must remain in Milan a week more, if you can find something interesting there. I propose that you visit me on Wednesday 9 June in the afternoon.

There’s other news; we will speak of it better face to face. Bring the document of the F.A.I.[7]

Best wishes

[1] Translator: Machiavelli’s The Prince, in the original Italian.

[2] Translator: Puni Cesoni. The woman in question here is Cristina Massili, from Torino.

[3] Translator: See letter dated 22 January 1967.

[4] Translator: Never published.

[5] I.S. #12 was published in September 1969.

[6] Written in the margin: “And I’ve learned today that [René] Riesel, having been caught up, during a demonstration, in a brawl between bureaucrats and anarchists, was struck quite seriously, as was Comrade Loiseau, by the police stewards of the AJS” (the Youth Alliance for Socialism, a “Lambertist” Trotskyite groupuscule).

[7] Translator: the International Anarchist Federation.

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

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