from Guy Debord

To Michel Bounan
29 January 1992
Dear Michel:

Thank you so much for the record by Flo,[1] which is so beautiful. And for all the books. The Joly[2] is a deliberately hidden marvel, already admirable in its own era and even more so during what followed: what the society of the 20th century became by so grandiosely prolonging the modernism that was already present in the reign of Napoleon III: the defeat of Montesquieu. I have long known about the police and pogromist origins of the Protocols,[3] but I did not know that the fake, so crudely obvious, was, moreover, a plagiarism, and that in fact it was the simple reversal -- in both its intention with respect to slavery and the quality of the writing -- of such an excellent pamphlet. And so the Protocols marks a historical turning-point, because this horrible fake turned out to be exactly faithful to the spirit of Nazism, Stalinism and spectacular democracy. It is a "true fake," as one says today. Joly wrote humorously against Napoleon-the-Small, and the Protocols are, on the contrary, written eulogistically and as if for Hitler. But both this humor and the eulogy spoke of real phenomena. Thus, 1903 is an important date in the appearance of the modern spectacle, which I had previously tended to date at the start of the War of 1914 (the patriotic "ballyhoo," Kronstadt, the March on Rome).[4]

I am also quite thrilled to read the conclusions reached by the Finland study and revealed by the Sunday Times. They will very quickly be denied as dangerous and irresponsible folly. No doubt, the brigades for the repression of scientific frauds will be brought out to detect the error, just as the pataphysician Benveniste undertook to prove (through sorcery) the unfortunate illusion that the Seine flows from east to west: he threw his car keys into the water at the Pont-Neuf with the intention of fishing them out at Rouen!

I do not know which precise therapeutic practices could be revealed to be worse than abstention, as the hemophiliacs are sometimes led to believe. No doubt I am excessively generalizing the lessons from this experiment when I imagine that it will eventually be shown that any sudden change in a well-established equilibrium, even if it is pathogenic, is more dangerous than its uninterrupted continuation. This is expressed by the principle: "The leopard dies with his spots, but at his [proper] age?" Not very far from this, it seems to me that it was Montesquieu, or perhaps Machiavelli, who remarked that the most difficult moment for a tyranny is when it undertakes to reform itself. It is definite that inept Gorbachev does not understand this kind of truth.

On the subject of health, I believe I can say that your prescriptions have worked miracles. With a single Lopril 25 every day, my blood pressure has remained steady at 16.8 and 9.8, without any inconvenience other than my habitual insomnia. Alice is pursuing her research into the constitution of jargon brilliantly. And me, too, I pursue research into the dissolution of the world, but this is less pleasant. (I have noted recent multidisciplinary breakthroughs in the practice of the advanced medical commodity: one concerns work on a vaccine against "some" forms of cancer; another hopes to define AIDS as "a chronic illness."

For the last three weeks, we have had snow here, not very heavy, but enough to not get melted away by the sunlight.

The rumors concerning me grow ever more distorted. It is true that [Jean-Jacques] Pauvert has made contact with me, very recently! But fortunately [Editions] Ramsay has never been involved.

Our best wishes to you and your family,

P.S. The preface to Henri Rollin's book[5] is very well done; it makes one want to read other books with this Clauswitzian strategy. A detail: just as a doctor exercises his art here or there, a naval officer serves on the Cassard or the Condorcet. . . .

[1] Jacques Florencie chant Bruant et Coute.

[2] Maurice Joly, Dialogue in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli.

[3] The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

[4] Translator's note: in previous texts, Debord had located the appearance of the modern spectacle in 1917 (cf. The Society of the Spectacle) and 1939 (cf. Comments on the Society of the Spectacle).

[5] The Apocalypse of our times. [Translator: this book, written in the 1930s, was one of the first in France to cross-check The Protocols against Joly's book.]

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 7: Janvier 1988-Novembre 1994 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2008. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! June 2009. Footnotes by the publisher, except where noted.)

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