Gianfranco Sanguinetti to Guy Debord
15 August 1978

Cavalcanti[1] says that there has never been a Dreyfus affair here [in Italy]. But if this thing still has unpleasant consequences, it nevertheless is not without remedy: one could make an international Dreyfus case against this poor country. In short, here is a project to be clarified, Niccolò[2] having received remarkable material concerning many historical examples of provocations – material that is hardly accessible and too little known, which could be printed without any problems (thanks to very trustworthy bad workers) in a kind of short manual, conceived as follows.

Title: Technical Solutions to Political and Social Questions.[3] Subtitle: Practical Manual for Domestic Use, With Historical References and Useful Examples, Examined in the Light of Recent Italian Experiences.[4] Author: Army Chief of Staff.[5] Graphics would be identical with those of the E.M.[6] Colophon: “75 copies of this manual have been printed in collaboration with the London Higher Institute for Strategic Studies”[7] (for example). Thanks to the very useful collaboration of certain persons, the celebrated Admiral, etc. Date: just before the latest Italian affair.

Since it is here in Italy that one experiments with counter-revolutionary strategies, as Cavalcanti says, it seems to me that it is necessary to counter-attack from here, by once again taking up the good habits of Mr. Niccolò,[8] to “say the unspeakable about the State.”

R. to E.[9] is finally completed. It must still be proofread and typed up. Attached is the definitive table of contents (around 200 printed pages, I believe). The book appears to me to be well conceived, and I would like to believe it is executed as best as is possible.

I can announce to Cavalcanti that the first Strasbourg scandal in the factories[10] has taken place in Milan, with the greatest success imaginable, thanks to a group of situ workers.[11] Two factories, Motta and Alemagna, united under the name UNIDAL after being purchased by the State, have gone bankrupt. They produced foodstuffs and cakes, which had been popular, by employing more than 5,000 workers, which isn’t a few.

It took two years, but the result was obtained. I was informed of it by one of these workers, who came to find me. In Chapter XIII [of Remedy for Everything] (“On Sabotage Considered as One of the Fine Arts”), I will make this scandal public. In fact, the story of this bankruptcy was already a scandal, but all the details were false because the story was reported by the Corriere [della Sera] along with fake editorials, which hushed up the central principle, which was that this bankruptcy was the determined and premeditated work of conscious, situationist workers who quoted The S. of the S.,[12] etc. It would take me 30 pages to recount to you the truly scandalous aspects of this story; I will limit myself here to a very short summary. Apart from wildcat strikes, these workers bankrupted the factory principally by declaring to the entire country what its products actually contained. Having stolen the list of all the Italian distributors of the factory’s foodstuffs from the management, they first warned and them challenged these distributors to sell poisoned things. Naturally, this caused a great scandal, but it wasn’t enough to convince the managers to change their methods of production, nor to bankrupt the factory, the deficits of which were paid off by the State for two years. Then, in various but very effective ways, the workers declared to the public that, starting on a certain day, they would begin to spit and piss into the [already] poisoned foodstuffs, which were dangerous to their producers as well as their consumers. This, coupled with certain quite new means of sabotage, was sufficient.

During these two years, these workers amused themselves, as they said, like crazy people. At the beginning, the situs [among them] were a very small group, but the illness quickly spread to the others. Three months after the arrival of my friend, he and other workers were laid off, but – supported by their comrades – they appealed to the courts, where they demonstrated with the most advanced facility [avec la dernière facilité] that they had only acted in the interests of the factory’s good name and the consumers’ [good] health. The court then condemned the firm to take these workers back and pay them damages and interest. This example then spread, and several other workers – made strong by that first success – denounced the factory’s management, pleading that they’d experienced nervous troubles due to the noise and a thousand other things, always winning their cases and thus monetary damages. Thus, a young worker continued to be paid, but on the condition that she no longer had to show up at the factory, etc.

The funniest part of the story is that several workers, including my friend, got themselves laid off just before the bankruptcy, for which they received extravagant compensations, which they themselves had calculated with management, after a precise accounting of the damages that, if they had remained on the job, they would have sustained during the subsequent three months. And since they were always winners on the terrain of the détournement of the justice system, management granted them what they demanded, or almost all of it. My friend, for example, who had sworn to me that he had only really worked two weeks over the course of two years (although he almost always came to work, though, alas! to do other things while there), received over six million lira as compensation. And the ringleader of this game, who was the first [among them] to read Spectacle and put it to good use, received 13 million lira. If all this isn’t scandalous, then I don’t know what could be!

Some of these workers are now in South America or touring the world that they want to change from the bottom up, thus taking literally the famous advertising slogan of an American airline company that, underneath a photo of an exploding cocktail,[13] asked, “How can you claim to change the world if you still don’t know it?”

My friend is in Greece, with his wife. I hardly delude myself when I say that – with such workers, and such politicians, managers[14] and courts – Italy will not last long!

Best wishes,

[P.S.] Have you received the books I sent to Chateau-Boujoum?[16]

Remedy for Everything

Discourses on the next chances of ruining capitalism in Italy

Table of Contents

Foreword by the author

Dedication to the bad workers of Italy and of all countries


Chapter I: Some objections that will be made against these Discourses and their refutation

Chapter II: Brief discourses on the recent progress achieved by our enemies in their decomposition

Chapter III: Disorders begin with difficulty but spread easily

Chapter IV: Invective against Enrico Berlinguer

Chapter V: If a compromise without history or a history without compromise is to be preferred

Chapter VI: If it is better to work without living or to live without working

Chapter VII: Discourse to the good workers of Italy

Chapter VIII: What this democracy effectively is and why it can only find inept and dishonest defenders

Chapter IX: Digression on intellectuals: what purpose they serve, what they are, what they are worth, if one is permitted to insult them, and if that is sufficient or not

Chapter X: State terrorism and the state of terrorism

Chapter XI: Prolegomena to any future ideology which will present itself as revolutionary

Chapter XII: Brief but irrefutable discourse from a XIVth century revolutionary on how to prevent repression

Chapter XIII: On sabotage considered as one of the fine arts

Chapter XIV: Minimal contribution to the elaboration of new forms of criminality

Chapter XV: Utopia, supreme stage of the spectacle

Remedy for everything or the invulnerable constitution of public felicity

Index of Names Insulted

[1] Guy Debord. See letter dated 21 April 1978.

[2] Gianfranco Sanguinetti.

[3] Italian in original.

[4] Italian in original.

[5] Italian in original.

[6] Short for Esercizio Militare, i.e., the Italian Armed Forces.

[7] The International Institute for Strategic Studies in located in London.

[8] A reference to the precedent established by Sanguinetti when he used a fictitious person (“Censor”) to tell the truth about the bombing of the Piazza Fontana in Milan on 12 December 1969.

[9] Remedy for Everything.

[10] Something that the Situationist International had been interested since 1970. See document signed by Christian Sebastiani.

[11] Situationist inspired workers.

[12] Debord’s book, The Society of the Spectacle.

[13] English in original.

[14] English in original.

[15] Gianfranco Sanguinetti. Francesco Guicciardini was a friend and critic of Niccolò Machiavelli.

[16] The domicile of an Afghani friend of Alice Becker-Ho.

(Published in Editions Champ Libre, Correspondence, Volume II, November 1981. Translated from the French and, where necessary, from the Italian, by NOT BORED! August 2012. All footnotes by the translator.)

To Contact NOT BORED!
ISSN 1084-7340.
Snail mail: POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998