from Guy Debord

To Christopher Gray and Donald Nicholson-Smith
25 November 1967
Dear Dear Chris and Donald,

Raoul [Vaneigem] returned yesterday, quite happy with his visit to New Tork. [Robert] Chasse seems perfect, and Tony [Verlaan] – although probably less comfortable theoretically – at a sufficient level. Moreover, they agree with each other quite strongly.

Their past errors have been critiqued and auto-critiqued (it seems that no one had taken the effort to read the “English” version of the Algerian Address,[2] which they knew in its French version . . .). Tony was never presented as a member of the SI and, placed in the perspective of actually being one,[3] the two just mentioned – and them alone – are in agreement upon a limited coordination. They will soon submit to us a first text, beyond the vast current work of translating and publishing [texts by the SI].

The most important fact – one that has led Raoul to reach a positive pre-conclusion, a little in advance of what his written mandate foresees – is that this visit didn’t simply focus on satisfying theoretical clarifications during long discussions, but also and especially on several initial practical conclusions that have the little milieu of New York “revolutionaries” trembling with horror.

1) Break with “Black Mask”[4] and the “totalist” cretins who go along – who draw mystical conclusions from the concept of Totality (for kids),[5] a kind of astrological reading of Vaneigem’s theses!

2) Mark a complete distance from Murray’s group,[6] foreseeing a break on the personal level next (I enumerate several reasons below).

3) With a certain critical prudence, make contact with the best elements of the SDS, which is a totally confused movement, containing both the best and the worst tendencies. Robert and Tony are completely vaccinated against the tendency to imprudently recruit random individuals.

It is necessary to note the following news. The police have seized all our packages of journals and documents, and who knows how many letters. The post office box is open, but up until now nothing of what’s been sent there (from the US and everywhere else) has been delivered. The box is always empty. They [the Americans] will try to slip into their publications a supplementary prospectus that diverts the mail to our post office box in London. Other than the fact that Murray ended his stay in Paris very badly (declaiming on the American Revolution at the Nataf bookstore[7] to four cretins who obviously didn’t give a fuck), the rest of the “Black Flag” group is infinitely worse than him. They have tried diverse maneuvers to make Chasse and Tony despair about false news concerning the SI (they are a kind of miserable “Anarchist International”). Thus Beatrice[8] has claimed that, in Paris, I told her that I absolutely did not know someone named Tony Verlaan.

Ignoble Jean-Louis Philippe has, in the last month, written a number of letters that explain our break with the AI.[9] Out of pure personal friendship with [Jacques] Le Glou, the situationists chose to condemn the AI, which excluded Le Glou because of his supposed choice of “abstract terrorism.” I don’t know if that faker [Philippe] had full awareness of the complete dimensions of the calumny, but the New York “anarchists” have understood his philosophical jargon in this one way: Le Glou had supposedly begun to plant bombs, and the SI had supposedly supported this political madness.

We now have a secret way of communicating[10] with those who, it seems, are good. The experiment begins.

See you soon,

[1] Handwritten letter.

[2] “Address to Revolutionaries in Algeria and All Countries,” July 1965.

[3] Translator: Verlaan officially joined the SI in January 1968. Chasse became a member in November 1968.

[4] Translator: Ben Morea’s group, active in New York City between 1966 and 1968.

[5] Translator: The Totality For Kids was the title of Christopher Gray’s translation of Vaneigem’s book, better known in English under the title The Revolution of Everyday Life. The “totalist cretin” who drew “mystical conclusions” was Allan Hoffman, a member of the Black Mask group.

[6] Murray Bookchin (1921-2006), anarcho-communist founder of “Social Ecology.”

[7] La Nataf de Paris, run by Georges Nataf. [Translator: see Debord’s letter to Red & Black dated 20 June 1967.]

[8] Bookchin’s companion.

[9] See letter dated 7 November 1967.

[10] Translator: other addresses than those of the SI in Paris and London, in particular, Alice Becker in Paris and Brenda Gravelle in London. (See letter to Chasse and Verlaan dated 5 December 1967.)

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol "0": Septembre 1951 - Juillet 1957: Complete des "lettres retrouvees" et d l'index general des noms cites by Librairie Artheme Fayard, October 2010. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! February 2011. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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