from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
31 January 1975
Dear Gianfranco:

I have just met the professor's friend,[1] who has faithfully returned the first volume of the study on the monetary theory of the contemporary West.[2] Thank you. This will be very useful for me during my current work.

You were right to write me about the details of the most recent Florentine story.[3] The day after I received your letter, the unfortunate Patrick [Cheval] telephoned me. He seemed very disappointed to find out that I already knew the story, and I suppose that otherwise he would have let it be understood that he had something to tell me, which necessitated a meeting. He again invited me to meet up with him and I again said that I surely did not have the time at the moment. The adjunct professor [Davide De Ambrosi] has since told me that you have sufficiently informed Patrick how little you find him interesting: this is quite good, and I hope that this will be enough to be definitive. We do not need this most recent verification of the peopling of Florence, but can admire how this confirms our fine hypotheses on the subject! Not only the atrocious Mimi, but perhaps all of the Negroes of the town are in the pay of the police -- whose chiefs want to learn the ruse of the Lucques[4] so as to execute it in the Florentine cemetery (it is, alas, necessary to designate the place in these terms because the natives are dead and the barbaric riffraff speak so loudly).

The adjunct professor told me that the professor himself [Paolo Salvadori] is having "problems with his work." I responded that this was a magnificent euphemism, practically as if one said that the modern proletariat has "problems with its management of the classless society."

It is truly for all these reasons that the retreat was necessary, out of "serva Fiorenza,"[5] almost as urgent as in Milan in 1969.[6]

What you tell me of the most recent escapades of your mother,[7] the infinite palavering concerning the Sanguinetti trust and perhaps also the legal troubles of the Doge[8] is very worrisome to me. It will be necessary to speak face to face about these matters.

Here, we have escaped from an extreme danger. The film distribution company N.E.F. signed a contract for the distribution of the film[9] in France for the next five years. Their good words were many and their promises were multiple (but not covered by the contract). After four months of a strange delay, the film was released on 22 January [1975] (and at the Studio de la Clef, a miserable, modernist hall for students, nearby Censier, instead of at La Pagode, which was what was first announced). The production company demanded a minimum of ten weeks and guaranteed the number of receipts (a gift that is unheard-of in the profession). On the point of death,[10] the hall (in fact, the distributor itself, because the hall belonged to it) only "offered" six weeks, with this insolent argument: "But what will happen if no one comes to see it?" At the same time, we learned that N.E.F. -- or, rather, its boss, someone named Nedjar -- was going to buy Maspero,[11] which went bankrupt. Thus, one clearly saw arise Krivino-Masperist[12] censorship, which dominated all economic questions, because they feared that the film would be screened for a long time (it is always easy to put a commando group of militants to work, so as to sabotage screenings in a friendly hall). Thereupon, [Gerard] Lebovici said that he would withdraw the film -- already announced -- and that he would break the contract. N.E.F., surprised and frightened, agreed to sign a cancellation. In fact, there was no logic in their strategy: they would have been a hundred times more harmful than Buchet if they had affirmed their rights to keep the film in their vaults and release it only when and where they wanted. Their legal position was extremely strong. They proved such a lack of courage because they wanted to keep -- without fighting -- a certain "Leftist" image, and because any denunciation of their special [form of] censorship, which replaces the deficiency of State censorship, also risked harming them. In fact, it is because everyone speaks of this film -- at least in their rotten milieus -- with the horror that you can imagine, that they are in such a panic and have so maladroitly unmasked themselves (a film that very few people -- or "no one" -- would come to see: this would obviously be an excellent thing to provide a hall -- over the course of ten [guaranteed] weeks -- a profitability that it does not possess for three weeks a year!) One will now distribute the film in a manner better calculated and better supervised: we have already refused to loan a copy to the Ecole des arts decoratifs -- the atrocity that we occupied at the end of May '68![13] -- where, for the beginning of February, the cretins have organized a debate about my book among a great assembly of sociologists and they had the immodesty to ask for the film as a supplementary document!

The adjunct professor also brought me two new pirate editions of the book, one in English and the other in Italian.[14] This last one seems much better than the one published by De Donato.

An American has sent me a poster on which he has assembled many very droll citations about the SI (generally unfavorable).[15] For the last three or four years, I have been ignorant of the extent of journalistic reactions. There is a small Trotskyist party, the existence of which everyone is obviously ignorant, that has reprised the very formulations of the Italian Anarchist Federation: the SI only existed to prevent this particular party from organizing the American workers! They declare that the SI was a "gang" organized by the CIA. It appears that this is what they themselves are: certainly not a gang, but teleguided by the CIA. Finally, it is a pleasure to verify that the people who want to make their names from the SI's notoriety are no more than that, and not the Ratgebs[16] that one feared in '71-'72.

Our friend Guicciardini[17] telephoned me about two weeks ago to say that one would see him "in around a month." Would that now be in two weeks? I would be very happy to see him. If you run into him, tell him to confirm this for me more precisely.

The Stalinist leadership in current Portugal -- which is installed everywhere much quicker than it has developed its real forces, and which now fears the elections and even the diversity of the unions, and which prohibits its soldiers from engaging in separate demonstrations, at which the Socialists would certainly show their relative strength -- is at this moment seriously threatened by leftist demonstrations (which, in Porto, had the support of the soldiers). How will our Portuguese do in these circumstances? Pitifully, I fear. I no longer get letter from them, which makes at least three months of silence.

Best wishes,

[1] Davide De Ambrosi, friend of Paolo Salvadori.

[2] In its concrete form. [Translator's note: Sanguinetti gave Debord some money.]

[3] Two black people -- George (an ex-boxer) and his friend Mimi (suspected of having provoked a police search at Gianfranco Sanguinetti's apartment one year previously) -- brought Patrick Cheval to a poker game at which Cheval, drunk, lost ten thousand francs. Friends who were alerted came to his assistance and there then ensued a series of arrests and police searches on the pretext of a hold-up [English in original] and drug possession.

[4] Florentine mockery directed against the town of Lucques.

[5] "Subservient Florence."

[6] Translator's note: a reference to the bombing of the Piazza Fontana in Milan on 12 December 1969, perpetrated by extreme Rightists and cynically used to vilify Leftists, ultra-Leftists, and situationists.

[7] Fled to Mexico with the money due Gianfranco Sanguinetti and his sister Antonella.

[8] The failure of the Sindona Bank, the head of which had employed Mignoli as his attorney. [Translator's note: Ariberto Mignoli was also Sanguinetti's attorney at the time.]

[9] Translator's note: The Society of the Spectacle.

[10] Translator's note: Latin in original.

[11] Editions Maspero. [Translator's note: known for editing, maiming, etc. the texts that it published.]

[12] Translator's note: Alain Krivine, a Trotskyist politician.

[13] The Council for Maintaining the Occupations (CMDO), after leaving the Institut pedagogique national, rue d'Ulm, which it had occupied since 19 May 1968, occupied the nearby building of the Ecole des arts decoratifs at the end of May 1968.

[14] The translators: Brambila and Morra. [Translator's note: these would appear to be the Italian translators. The translators of the English-language edition were the Americans at Red & Black in Detroit: Fredy Perlman and others.]

[15] Translator's note: Ken Knabb, creator of "Blind Men and the Elephant."

[16] Translator's note: pseudonym adopted by Raoul Vaneigem.

[17] Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

(Published in Guy Debord Correspondance, Vol 5: Janvier 1973-Decembre 1978 by Librairie Artheme Fayard, 2005. Translated from the French by NOT BORED! March 2007. Footnotes by Alice Debord, except where noted.)

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