Declaration of "Editions Champ Libre"

Gianfranco Sanguinetti, Italian, author of a Truthful Report on the Last Chances to Save Capitalism in Italy, the [French] translation of which Editions Champ Libre published on 8 January [1976], having presented himself at the French border on 11 February, was turned back due to the application of a “refusal of stay” decision taken on 21 July 1971 by Marcellin, the Minister of the Interior. We know that this kind of administrative manifestation of national security requires no judicial approval, cannot be appealed and thus is permanent. Even though the political regimes in Europe want to make small changes in their continuity, this naturally does not have any bearing on those who contest all of those regimes equally.

We are modestly aware of the fact that it is only fair to have recourse to advertizing[1] to put before the eyes of the reader – at every instant occupied with so much other pertinent and important news that is constantly of universal relevance and that concerns him personally – a simple, particular phenomenon that can only interest a few private individuals.

In fact, we do not have the presumptuousness to insinuate that the critique of capitalism could at all concern our contemporaries, their work, their ways of making a living, their ideas or their pleasures. We do not ignore the facts that, even as a subject for scholarly discussion limited to a small number of experts, the very justness of the concept of that critique has been controversial and that capitalism, as a hypothesis, is no longer of contemporary interest, because the Thought of Vincennes[2] – at which the best-recycled professors have decided upon the dissolution of history and the prohibition of the criteria of truthfulness in discourse, which is something that is very rich in consequences for them – recently leapt beyond it.

Furthermore, we are not assured that, somewhere, there really exists a geographical (and an economically quite weak) entity called Italy. And, where Italy’s economy is concerned, the eminent leaders of the Common Market – even if the principle of the free circulation of commodities is as much their affair as the free circulation of people – have other reasons to doubt its existence.

The actual existence of Gianfranco Sanguinetti himself – either as the author of a Western samizdat[3] or as the target of some liberal-advanced Gulag – is highly questionable. If we, on the unique basis of the magnitude of a public rumor (which also remains outside of our borders), allow ourselves to positively affirm the reality of his existence, his writings and the diverse and harmless police persecutions that have followed from them, one could retort that no one here in France has ever heard of him, and we [as his publisher] feel all the weight of such an objection.

We will also frankly state that we know a number of estimable people who, working for the newspapers or the distributors of books, do not hide the fact that they have been led to conclude that Editions Champ Libre also does not exist, and, for our part, we do not pretend to have the boldness to settle such an obscure question and thus go against the honest convictions of so many competent people by basing ourselves only upon our contingent desires and limited personal interests.

Given all this, we nevertheless will not allow ourselves to leave open the question of knowing if the world in which we live – the world of which you read all the most up-to-date news every day – truly exists. We are in a position to be assured that, for the moment, it still does.

[1] This declaration was published under the rubric of an advertisement in the 24 February 1976 issue of Le Monde, which never carried a news item (properly speaking) about the events described therein.

[2] Founded in 1969 as an alternative to traditional universities, the Université de Vincennes was then the home of such well-known “post-structuralist” philosophers as Michel Serris, Michel Foucault, and Gilles Deleuze. Debord’s dislike of Vincennes’ “critical theorists” was in part a response to their theories, but also to their means of supporting themselves. In the words of Eleonore Kofman and Elizabeth Lebas (translators’ introduction to Henri Lefebvre, Writings on Cities [Blackwell, 1996]), Michel Foucault “undertook a number of research projects for the Ministere de l'Equipment in the 1970s [...] Many well known sociologists and philosophers participated in research financed by this Ministry, such as Deleuze and Guattari who also undertook contract research [...] Lefebvre points out that recuperation has taken a specific form in the years after 1968 in that technocrats got the critics themselves to work out what would be applicable out of the radical critique. Many Marxists sociologists at this time accepted contracts from State ministries.”

[3] The aforementioned Truthful Report.

(Written by Guy Debord and published anonymously. Reprinted in Editions Champ Libre Correspondance, Volume I October 1978. Translated from the French and footnoted by NOT BORED! September 2012.)