from Guy Debord

To Gianfranco Sanguinetti
Copies to all the members of the SI
Paris, 8 September 1970
Dear Gianfranco,

I have just returned to Paris, and I regret not being here when you last come through. I have not received your letter of 16 August [1970], which did not arrive general delivery on 20 August.

During my trip, several days ago, I met Raoul,[1] who read the letter from Paolo[2] just as Tony[3] and I did: that is to say, as an ignominy that, despite the difficulty [l’embarras] of the style, presented itself very clearly. I briefly saw René-Donatien[4] before his departure for Milan. The new “explanations” from Paolo – in particular the constructed nuances between their meeting in Rome and their meeting in Milan – have meant that René-Donatien has completely abandoned the strange indulgence that he had extended to Paolo. It was only after the meeting with René-Donatien that I read your letter of 16 August (a copy of which he brought me). I find that it exactly confirms what was already legible in Paolo’s letter.

The irregularity of “the exclusion”[5] that Paolo had dreamed of pronouncing is so profound and scandalous that it could almost make the style of Chasse-Elwell[6] appear to be a simple political delirium by comparison. Because the content of the rigged trial that Paolo made of you is ten levels below the wickedest politics. He must take us all for idiots if he believes that we could not understand that. I am not hostile to the fact that Paolo wants to speak before an assembly of the SI. But I will not be present for it, because Paolo is the first, until now, who has introduced into one of our debates someone outside the SI to pronounce an exclusion from it. The result is that a true meeting would be false for him, and I will have nothing to do with false meetings. I do not care that much if Paolo is “excluded.” I would prefer a split in the SI: those who are not radically revolted by his style can only go with him; they can make “situationism” and fuckery their own responsibility. But I do not want to be compromised for [even] an hour longer with similar practices, and those who think as I do will not accept any more. We must have done with metaphysicians in the SI, who survive in and for real inactivity, and who are only really active at the moment in which they have the occasion to deploy some monstrous error, which is the only thing that impassions them. Shame and misery!

I do not think, as do the three comrades whom you met in Paris, that you must still produce a more or less theoretical text that explains this lamentable affair. Your letter of 16 August explains the facts quite well; their extremely bizarre character truly does not merit a theoretical work, which could only be a parody of theoretical analysis. At the same time, this extreme bizarreness is the only excuse that you could invoke.

The three comrades who were together in Paris have themselves greatly lacked vigilance by remaining passive and mute for at least ten days, at the beginning of this affair, until the collective letter of the 7th – written at a meeting at which Tony and I were present and in response to Paolo’s unacceptable letter. The silence of the French comrades has been an even more clumsy error because some of them, at least, possessed particular information, which they neglected, and which they neglected to make known, about the miserable and ridiculous story of the woman who is the obvious center, and admittedly so, of this summit of pro-situ fuckery.

That said, I consider that you have been [acting] below the most pessimistic prediction in this affair, by yielding to the crudest intimidation right away. I want to believe that you have had good motives – emotional and physical – to be dazed, and bad reasons to be desperate. All the same!

My personal opinion is that we cannot currently maintain a phantom Italian section. You must choose between the spots in which you can participate in an activity that can and must be undertaken: either in Paris, or with Tony in Amsterdam when he begins something there towards the end of the year (or even in New York with Jon[7]).

In any case, I hope that you will soon come through Paris again, and that we can speak of all this [in person].

Best wishes,

[1] Raoul Vaneigem, a member of the French section of the Situationist International.

[2] Paolo Salvadori, a member of the Italian section of the SI.

[3] Tony Verlaan, a member of the American section.

[4] René-Donatien Viénet, a member of the French section.

[5] The exclusion of Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[6] Robert Chasse and Bruce Elwell, former members of the American section.

[7] Jonathan Horelick, a member of the American section.

(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 translator.)

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