Gianfranco Sanguinetti to Guy Debord
I Fagiolini,
[1] 1 June 1978
My dear Cavalcanti,

If I am allowed to say so: if it was necessary to kidnap Moro, this kidnapping has at least had the utility of getting you to write to me![2] And if ten scandals or a revolution were necessary for me to have the opportunity to speak to you freely once again, I could ask for nothing better. Unfortunately, only yesterday did I receive the letter dated 21 April [1978] and sent in care of the Doge,[3] who has long been abroad. Your preceding silence, which lasted three long years,[4] left me so sad that I’ve been sick all this time. And that idiot Paola told me by telephone that she also had a letter for me, but she still hasn’t forwarded it. This young woman is so slow in everything that she is only now leaving her husband!

On 16 March [1978], the day Moro was kidnapped, I was in Milan, where I had a meeting with the Doge in the afternoon. In the morning, when the news of the event in Rome echoed on all the streets of Italy, chance would have it that I met Pietro Valpreda,[5] who I immediately asked if this time he could come up with a better alibi than before. Since he said that he didn’t have one, and I didn’t either, I told him that nothing could be better for me if we were seen together on that morning, because no one would bother me if I could prove – in any situation that could arise – that I was with a person with a completely burned reputation, and thus no one would dare to disturb me a second time. He then invited me back to his place to listen to the first news reports, and it was there that I proposed to him – since he is so well known in the entire world in connection with the provocation of 1969[6] – that we immediately make a public, printed declaration in a completely sarcastic tone that he cheerfully “claimed” responsibility for this new provocation, since it clearly came from the same people who placed the bomb in the Piazza Fontana. I even wrote a short text for him, but as you know he isn’t the boldest man in Milan, nor the most lucid, and thus he refused it in a categorical manner, with the argument that he’d had his fill of prisons, police and provocations. He offered me a small bottle of Barbera, which, beyond an alibi, was the only thing he offered me. And now, several days ago, he was condemned (without the possibility of appeal) to ten months in prison who having previously insulted the public minister [Vittorio] Occorsio, who had been killed in Rome, officially by neo-fascists, and who was one of the politicians who had made legal accusations against Valpreda. And thus he went back to prison without glory after being freed from it without personal merit, and the fact of having had his fill of prison did not save him from this most recent mockery[7] that our system of “justice” made of him!

As for my particular situation in these troubled times, I immediately thought that, if it had been quite dangerous to not go underground in 1969, to do so in 1978 would be the most dangerous thing that I could do. In fact, from the first moment, any hunted person who wasn’t immediately found would, after Moro’s kidnapping, find himself depicted in a large photograph in the newspapers, with all that would follow from this. Thus I returned as soon as possible to the country, where I am now in voluntary imprisonment, so to speak, and where nothing can be clandestine because everyone can see everyone else, and I haven’t failed to have myself seen every Tuesday at the market, where the carabinieri prowl, without otherwise budging from here. In brief, I have “cultivated my garden” and my olive trees, like any gentleman,[8] fuck,[9] must do in the country.

The choice was a good one, and if I have not avoided being bored, as you will see, I have certainly avoided much worse annoyances. By contrast, many Leftists went underground, due to stupidity or mythomania concerning the “repression,” and now they’re sought and taken every day with no other justification for it than their absence.

Your analysis of 21 April[10] most resembles the famous letter that Mr. Niccolo [Machiavelli] wrote from Marignano, I believe, to Bartolomeo Cavalcanti, and perfectly corresponds to the text that I would have made and started to write – although in a less concise fashion – in the form of a short pamphlet, with the title Final Warning to Mr. Giulio Andreotti about Terrorism – or, Rather, a Contribution to the Detoxification of Public Opinion on the Abduction of Aldo Moro and the Attacks that Followed It.[11] For a variety reasons, I have not been able to publish or even complete it. Among others, I give this “proof”: that if it truly was the Leftists who kidnapped Moro, this would signify that, for the very first time, the Italian State isn’t lying to us in the matter of terrorism, but this, being incredible, must be excluded. And in any case, I would say that, even if Andreotti or Berlinguer had proof that this attack had been carried out – what do I know? – by the mafia or by German “skinheads,” would what they say be different from what they have said? Etc. And, as for the Stalinists, since they speak in counter-truths, always evoking a “conspiracy hatched by reactionary trade unions” when it is actually a question of a spontaneous and general proletarian revolt, as in Rome and Bologna in 1977, it is completely normal that they never speak of this particular conspiracy, exactly when it is a question of artificial provocations like those of 1969 or those attributed to and claimed by the Red Brigade [RB]. And concerning the RB, which is quite capable of shooting the legs of the bosses, if not killing them, at one time or another, they are not capable – I don’t mean being successful in a similar attack – of even imagining it. Etc., etc. As announced by its title, my short pamphlet would have ended with a threat to Andreotti (avvertimento is a word from the underworld[12]), a vague threat but so much more lugubrious for that, if he doesn’t stop the [State’s] terrorist practices. Presenting itself as upside-down terrorism or an anti-terrorism, much more disturbing than routine terrorism, this pamphlet would certainly have created a scandal, so much so that I would have been busted three hours after it was published, at least for threatening the President of the Council, calumny, diffusion of “false news and tendentious acts that disturb the public order,”[13] and perhaps even kidnapping Moro. It is truly a shame that I didn’t put it together, but when I say that I’ve been sick, this isn’t a rhetorical flourish.

After that, things got complicated. The Doge, coming to find me during Moro’s captivity, recalled to me the remark that you’d previously made to him in Florence, that is to say, “in Italy today, everything is possible,” and he added to this idea that “we other Italians are not good for anything, but we are capable of everything.” Thus, the rest of the story of Moro and his death has led me to not exclude any hypothesis. And although what you wrote to me is completely probable and rational, [and though] it is as true as what I had thought, I will try here to envision this story in an inverted perspective: you will see that everything truly is possible. Nevertheless, I will not do this as an authority, as the sophist who eulogized Helen despite what every Greek thought of that whore, or as an aesthetician, like the choirboy did with respect to Kennedy from his tranquil little corner of Brussels.[14] I am in all senses of the world in the middle [au milieu] of this field of obscure battle, and perhaps this fact allows me to see better or pushes me to deceive myself more. But since I live in this Italy, which is servile and dangerous,[15] for me there is the greatest urgency in not deceiving myself, believing something [false] about it, nor excluding something a priori: a question of life and death,[16] as one says here.

Thus, here is my reasoning and my hypothesis. You will pardon me, I hope, for the length, but I would need more time to express myself better. The Italian Leftists are very stupid, obviously. But this same stupidity, on the one hand, isn’t completely sufficient to render them all incapable of doing something and, on the other hand, is quite sufficient to convince them that terrorism can be a good thing. And you know that the Italian Leftist, unlike the French one, isn’t a contemplator of theory, but a contemplator of practice, [that is to say,] more Edouardian than Salvadorian[17] and, where the Frenchman contemplates theory (an ideological monster), the Italian contemplates practice (a terrorist monster). Goethe’s remark, “nothing is worse than active mediocrity,” seems to have been tailor-made for the Italian Leftist. In fact, the same stupidity that had for a long time prevented them from understanding from whence came the attack of 1969 could very well have subsequently worked – when its provenance became confusedly clear to them – to make them “theorize” that one responds to State terrorism with “proletarian” terrorism. It is an unquestionable fact that there are many Leftists in Italy who have become terrorists in the last few years, and among them there are quite a few young workers (there are a hundred known groups). It remains to be seen if a similar blow is beyond their reach or not. One knows, for example, that German and Spanish leftists have been successful with the attacks against Schleyer and Carrero Blanco.[18] I agree that the Spanish have had much more experience with clandestine and guerilla activities, and that the Germans are probably better organized. But in my hypothesis, this isn’t the problem, but seeing against whom they have struck: the “advantages” of the Germans and Spaniards over the Italian terrorists are balanced by the advantages constituted by the incompetent stupidity of Italy’s police forces, which are always in competition amongst themselves to see which one wins the award for the most imbecilic. Italy’s terrorists are not eagles, but its secret services are nonexistent (crushed under the weight of their 1969 attack, the arrests in Catanzaro,[19] and the [subsequent] dismantling[20] undertaken by Andreotti himself), and, as for the efficiency of Italy’s police and carabinieri, “posing the question is already a response to it,” to make use of your phrase.

(Here’s a relevant anecdote, but I could cite a thousand other more instructive ones that personally concern me less. They only came for me on 12 May [1978], when Moro’s body was already quite cold, but did so after having searched my sister’s home in Rome, as well as that of my other sister. As if this wasn’t sufficient to put me on my guard, the day before their arrival they thought it would be good to come in a group of four, in civilian clothes and in a regular van, to inspect the place, feigning to be hunters though the hunt had ended here as everywhere else. Since I was strolling on my family homestead,[21] I did not see them, but they were recognized by the Sardinian shepherd, who they waved at, and he recognized one of them. Ten minutes later I was informed. The next morning, at 7:30, eighteen (sic!) carabinieri arrived in several military and civilian vans. Expecting them for two full hours, I knew, thanks to a peasant, that one of their vans (with a carabiniere and a military radio inside) had been surveilling my house from afar since 6 o’clock. They were armed to the teeth, with bullet-proof vests, and descended all at once from their vans with their submachine guns pointed at my house. It seemed to me that I was watching a film, and I believe that they believed that they were in one. The captain who commanded the operation was completely inept, because, if he had made such a show of force and had the radioman ready to call in reinforcements, he had to believe that he was confronted with a terrorist or several of them, but, if he had been, he at least should not have arrived (with 18 officers) from the side same of the hill upon which my house sits! What was the use of the surveillance the day before? And even if I didn’t expect their visit (which was impossible), they woke me up with the noise from their five vans, and if I was a terrorist, with two bombs in hand at the window, I would have killed 18 people in the blink of an eye. Then this valiant captain lost five long minutes surrounding my house with 10 of his men in a very iconographic or choreographic maneuver that was very stupid because the door facing them was wide open. I’d left it open precisely to “de-dramatize” the situation that I’d expected, but since they didn’t know that I expected them, they had to profit from it. This ridiculous operation at least had the result of cleansing me of the suspicion of being a terrorist, [at least] according to what the captain said afterwards, and here one reached the heights of idiocy, because, if I was a terrorist, and if I’d wanted to not appear to be one, I would have had 15 hours to remove or hide whatever I had in my possession. Then, although they remained here a long time, they completely forgot to search my large cowsheds, which they didn’t even open up, or the cellar. And one cannot even say that they came here for some other reason, because the judge’s warrant, which authorized their search even during the night, said that I was suspected of having committed crimes “against the personhood of the State,”[22] id est[23] Moro. Everywhere else the police have also comported themselves in a maladroit fashion. I end this parenthesis by saying that the only result of this operation has been that the peasants were very excited by what took place here, expanded upon and crippled, which by word of mouth reached as far as the suburbs of Arezzo. I’ve heard from people who do not know me that they finally found the leader of the RB and from others that I had been “discovered” and arrested.)

The Italian secret services have been sure of being the only ones to commit terrorist attacks for such a long time that, when real terrorism takes places, they’ve been taken completely by surprise. And as for Italy’s police, who are only prepared for maintaining public order – from the “investigative” point of view they are especially inept (80% of all crimes committed go unpunished) – ever since Calabresi[24] they have been so well instructed in the fabrication of false evidence against false suspects that, when it comes to a real deed and a concrete crime, they are routinely paralyzed. In the inquest into the Moro affair, they didn’t even seek to find false suspects, which could demonstrate that they believed that they might find real ones. If they still haven’t found any, this again proves their inability, but also that the task isn’t easy. (Moreover, the Germans still haven’t managed to find Schleyer’s kidnappers, and their prisons, [apparently] so secure, weren’t sufficient to prevent two good women from springing a terrorist, although here one might suspect that this escape was teleguided by the security services exactly to try to follow the escapee back to Schleyer’s kidnappers, but, if this was the case, we will soon see.)

In Italian society, where the only stable thing is society’s very instability, in which nothing is solid and nothing functions, one wouldn’t be surprised if the very small terrorist groups could, over time, profit from the fragility of the system by appearing to be the only solid things. They function in the very inverted social and political panorama of which they are the product and which thereby assures them of success. But one can also say that, up to a certain point, such success against the system doesn’t truly harm it.

The fact that terrorism brings fuel to the spectacle’s fire doesn’t prove that the supporters of the spectacle are always the ones who perpetrate terrorism, nor does it prove that the Red Brigade is black,[25] as the Stalinists say. It proves that the supporters of the spectacle are still in a position to exploit what their police forces cannot manage to repress, and it also proves the thoughtlessness and impotence of the choice of terrorism. It furthermore proves that the system is incomparably more capable of absorbing these attacks than preventing them. When applied to terrorism in the society of the spectacle, the argument cui prodest?[26] cannot be of any utility, because one sees that terrorism is combated in its intentions at least by those who profit from it, but without great results, and that it is perpetrated by those who are harmed by it, but with good results. In fact, we have seen that Italian capitalism is quite capable of harming itself, on its own, much better than the Leftists can, and, inversely, Italian Leftists can also harm themselves, on their own, by devoting themselves to terrorism without reflection and casually.[27]

And even in this apparent madness it must have a hidden rationality, since what is real is rational (and Corriere della Sera was almost theoretical on 27 April [1978] when it demonstrated – apropos of the Moro affair – its theoretical impotence: “All forms of rationality seem to drown in emotionalism and the spectacle. The mass media[28] thoughtlessly[29] aids this process . . .” And L’Espresso, believing itself to be more refined, entitled an article “The Red Brigade builds its strategy upon the ‘society of the spectacle’”[30]). The hidden rationality in this reality is that, in its apparent madness, Italian capitalism, like Italian Leftism, condemns itself by its own movement. And the historical utility of terrorism will be that it convinced all revolutionaries that terrorism is useless and [convinced] all capitalists that it can be dangerous. Because I wonder to what extent it will be useful for the State to let this phenomenon continue by losing all control over it.

This State was the first to begin the terrorist game, knowing well that, up to the present, no terrorism of this kind has ever brought down a State. But if there is someone lucid in Italy who still makes casual use of it, I would be surprised if he also doesn’t have the intelligence or culture to know that the history of provocations – ever since the adventures of the parish priest named Gapone,[31] who helped to provoke nothing less than the Revolution of 1905 – is full of very dangerous examples of “excess.” And if the terrorist phenomenon is no longer mastered by the State, which will cause its personnel to live perpetually in fear (as a sort of purgatory in which one only nourishes oneself on hope), then I strongly doubt that this or that government minister, industrialist or powerful person has the stoic lucidity to console himself by dreaming that anyone, in the final analysis, is indispensible to the State. And living continually surrounded by cops who are so official and incompetent, living so privately and at such great cost, well that is not living![32] Furthermore, the only message that Moro left to Italy and his friends in a number of letters that were written in his tortuous and unmistakable style is, finally, that it isn’t worth dying for the State. And who could say that he was wrong? Certainly not his friends, for whom the State is only good insofar as it assures them of what is needed to live and to live easily, as one knows.

And since any act of terrorism has its fans[33] among the very Leftists who, before becoming Leftists, applauded their soccer teams, without wondering too much from whence this terrorism came or could come, or to what it might lead, it is normal that terrorism also produces recruitment, and then the fan[34] sometimes become a soccer player. Thus the phenomenon grows like a cancer that feeds upon itself ever-more rapidly until it strikes ever-more higher targets, which have never been reached before, due more to the fact that they weren’t supposed to be reachable than for other reasons.

I would even say that, for a while now, in Italy as in Germany, the terrorists have been technically successful in all of the attacks they’ve perpetrated, which demonstrates the extreme fragility of these systems with respect to this phenomenon. (Nor is it by chance that terrorism strikes these two countries in particular: both have never known revolutions comparable to the ones that took place in France, Spain and England; both combated the revolutions that broke out in 1919-1920 with fascist terrorism; both lost the Second World War; and for both “democracy” was imposed upon them as the price for such a defeat.) From the military point of view, about which you know more than I do, it seems that terrorist acts – in those instances where one couldn’t respond to them with general reprisals – were quite easy to commit: they had the advantage of surprise and did not have the disadvantage of classical attacks, in which the attacking forces must be quite superior, because the terrorists didn’t need to occupy and hold a country, but to occupy the territory of the spectacle without, moreover, knowing how or being able to truly ravage it. On the other hand, one has seen that the Germans and Israelis obtained excellent results by adopting terrorist tactics at Mogadishu and Entebbe, respectively.[35] To fail at operations of this type, it appears to me that one must be fuckups, like the Egyptians were at Cyprus,[36] which is easily avoidable. And this facility can very well suggest to the terrorists that they undertake ever-more risky operations.

As for those who began terrorism and provocation in Italy, the least one can say is that they didn’t weigh Seneca’s remark, according to which “it is easier not to begin than it is to stop” along such a route and, nevertheless, one knows that Seneca – as Nero’s advisor – knew something about provocations and terrorism. Thus, if these types of attacks can, as we know, be of service to certain State forces, the chain reaction started after 1969 might have relieved these forces of the necessity of organizing such attacks directly at the start. But when everything proceeds automatically, these forces face a new problem that they cannot manage to master thereafter. And in my opinion, we have already arrived at this second stage.

It is impossible to understand this new phenomenon, because it takes places in a new context, that is, if one doesn’t know the theory of the spectacle, and the new proofs of this fact are that even the bourgeois, when they speak of terrorism in Italy, speak of the spectacle, and that your book (of which a new pirate edition was made several weeks ago for purely speculative reasons, I believe, in the common economic meaning of the word “speculative”) is one of the biggest sellers in Italy, especially after what Panorama said last week. Never has a book been pirated so often during the life of its author and, for various reasons, as yours has been in Italy over the course of the last ten years! (This would be the moment to produce a veritable first Italian edition, one that is accurate and perhaps augmented by a preface that explains this phenomenon.) It seems to me that there have been a few rare periods in history in which the greatest and most important theories are diffused with as much speed as the greatest events [take place], and this is due to the simple fact that these periods understand and believe these theories to be the greatest events. As Gondi[37] would say, only theory, after a certain period of time, is capable of producing events on a grand scale.[38]

You can’t even imagine, from afar, the precise point to which things in Italy have come in the escalation of madness, on the one hand, and the degradation of everything that exists, in general. And even what I’ve advanced concerning the terrorist phenomenon I have not advanced due to ravings that have no support in reality. Perhaps you recall that piece of shit from Naples or Rome who one day came to Caldaie[39] and showed so much pleasure when you stroked her cunt with both hands. Perhaps you recall that she had a brother who was hardly better than her where morality was concerned, because they were both equally incestuous and didn’t even hide it. Anyway, it turned out that this brother had met a known terrorist whose name he didn’t want to tell me and, furthermore, I do not even recall his name or that of his piece-of-shit sister. And this brother told me that, despite his own dubious morality, he was surprised by the casual madness that reigned in that ready-for-anything milieu, which is capable of many things, all of them useless to us and too spectacular, so much so that one could believe that we’d returned to the times of Necaev and Dostoevsky. Furthermore, it would be better for us, who still believe in certain principles, to not get mixed up with pieces of shit, incestuous couples and terrorists!

Do you know Alfieri’s remark about Italy, which Stendhal quoted?

Finally, what can I say? Modern Italy, which has reached the height of nullity and abasement, still shows me (good God! must I say it?) by the execrable and yet sublime crimes that one sees committed every day that, even today, it – more so than any other country in Europe – abounds in raging souls who are above all fears and for whom only a battlefield and the means to act are lacking to make them immortal.

Since 1786, when Alfieri said this, there have been five revolutions, five republics, and two empires in France, while in Italy there have been the Cinque giornate in Milan, the miserable Risorgimento, a sciammannato reign,[40] Mussolini, and the epic Resistance[41] from which our first amazing Republic[42] was born! But Italy hasn’t had a real battlefield or a real means of acting. This, too, can explain the current suicidal activism of Italy’s terrorists.

The departure point for each of these Leftists is a lack of money. Thus they begin with several hold ups,[43] then they kidnap a rich bourgeois, then they have plenty of [ransom] money that they don’t know how to use “for the cause,” and then they prepare the infrastructure for terrorism properly speaking (apartments, cars, weapons, radios, etc.). And they use this simple reasoning: “What I’ve done so far was quite easy, but no one has spoken of it; so let’s do something that will obligate everyone to speak of and that will strike the class adversary.” And among all the things of which everyone is obligated to speak, on the field of class struggle, terrorist acts are obviously the ones that obtain this result at the least cost. The spirit of the modern terrorist is not practical in the sense that it isn’t the spirit of someone who executes an attack to enjoy the advantages that can be derived from it or from the real effects that it unleashes; it is, rather, the spirit of a voyeur who places a mirror on the ceiling to watching himself fucking someone or even, lacking this, to watch himself getting fucked. Everything that he does he does to see it deformed and exaggerated in the mirror of the spectacle. Because today killing someone like Moro or Giscard makes more noise than stabbing Caesar in person, no matter who believes that he is greater and more frightening than Brutus. This fact, added to the fact that today there are more Moros than Caesars, places the role of Brutus within everyone’s grasp.

The risk of spending one’s entire life in prison doesn’t even bother the young terrorists because they all think that they will out last this State (and who could say a priori that they are wrong on this point, given that Italy is constantly on the point of collapse?), and, in any case, they hope to not be arrested or, if so, escaping from custody and, in the worst-case scenario, the fact of remaining in jail for several years doesn’t mean shit to those who only have the choice between the assured risk of spending their lives in a factory and the uncertain risks of alternating between periods spent underground and periods spent in jail. That’s quite precisely what they think. Certainly they are very backwards in matters of historical awareness, knowing neither art nor the art of living, and they don’t even manage to grasp the simple truth that, when people who present themselves as revolutionaries act in the same manner in which the secret services act, their condemnation has already been pronounced. But this derives from the fact, which you mentioned, that in Italy after the [bombing of the] Piazza Fontana, there was no “Dreyfus affair,”[44] and that no one, and especially not those self-avowed revolutionaries, were able to reach a conclusion about State terrorism. And the perpetual state of terrorism (six terrorist acts per day in 1977) in which Italy has plunged is the logical consequence, and contemporary terrorism appears to me to be the exact compensation that this State has merited for having done everything to prevent a “Dreyfus affair” from breaking out with respect to the attack in 1969. What’s worse is that one doesn’t see how all this can end up, if not in a social revolution, which would be the only remedy to the alienated violence of terrorism, as well as all the rest. The fact that the group that abducted Moro did not make him spit out the truth concerning the attack of 1969 isn’t as surprising as it might first appear: it is another consequence of the “suppressed Dreyfus affair.” The question of 1969 doesn’t interest them because, if it did, they wouldn’t be what they are. These ideologues of clandestinity are, above all, the covert actors of ideology, and they are the worst ones, if in this matter it is possible to have a preference. They almost never speak of ideology because the majority of them are Stalinists and they aren’t ashamed to declare it. The Stalinism of the Red Brigade constitutes, as it were, the last bloody surge of the disappointed illusions of a bloodthirsty Stalinism that is in a state of total ruin, and the bearers of this ideology believe that they are justified by the failures of a Stalinism that has become “democratic,” as much in Italy as in France or Spain.

There are also other groups with different ideologies, and they only have terrorist practices in common. One of these groups is even pro-situ, and I froze when I read the beginning of the only document that, to my knowledge, this group has produced: “Debord was right when he said . . .” etc.! This group, Azione Rivoluzionaria,[45] has also been the only one up to now to shoot a Stalinist from L’Unità.[46] I live in a Stalinist municipality of 20,000 inhabitants, and I regard with some anxiety the possible base police actions and summary justice [that could take place] if this continues and positions the situationists as the authorities that justify terrorism against Stalinists.

As for the political prospects in Italy, about which I have not spoken, what you have said appears completely sufficient to me, [that is to say,] about the weakening of the Stalinists, even from the electoral point of view; about the omerta in general (but see at what price!); and about the very possibility of a forceful blow, given the incredible disorder in which Italy finds itself. Perhaps I am too optimistic if I, not wanting to neglect the role that the stupidity of power plays in Italy’s fate, repeat again that, since everything is possible, there will be war here, and soon, despite the nonsense uttered by this group,[47] if those who can profit from it do not do so as soon as possible.

Afterwards, it will be too late. I still wish to write Rimedio a tutto,[48] but I would like to speak to you about it. If I can’t do this, it will be difficult for me to make a decision, and yet I feel that I must write it immediately or never. I don’t know what it lacks or, rather, I do know: it lacks your opinion and encouragement.

I will send you many press clippings and documents, some of which I’ve cited above, but I do not know where you will be. And, as you know, of all the things in the world, I would love to see you, but it appears almost impossible for me to cross the border into France, which surely is well guarded against Italians, and I have broken off my relations with the trucker with whom you are familiar. Can you not come to servile Italy, not mistress of provinces, but a brothel?[49] 1977 was an exceptional year for Chianti. And I still have two demijohns,[50] thus a total of more than 100 liters, which I haven’t wanted to touch since 1975, hoping, as the peasants of Auvergne say, to celebrate [arroser] our meeting in the best conditions.

And to conclude, these are the lyrics of a madrigal from the 16th century,[51] the music of which is very beautiful, to dedicate to the workers in your next film.

I no longer buy hope,
Because it is false merchandise.
I only wait to see how goes
The little that remains for me.
Once I bought it dearly,
Now I sell it cheaply.
And I counsel that
A happy person should never buy it.[52]

I embrace you, Alice and you.


[1] Italian for “string beans,” this phrase was used by Sanguinetti to indicate to Debord where he was writing from.

[2] The last time Debord had written was on 2 August 1977.

[3] A reference to Aliberti Mignoli, Sanguinetti’s attorney. Cf. Sanguinetti's recollections about "The Doge" (December 2012).

[4] 1975 was the last year that Debord and Sanguinetti were close. See Debord’s letter dated 15 January 1976.

[5] An anarchist who was initially accused of perpetrating the 12 December 1969 bombing of the Piazza Fontana. See Debord & Sanguinetti’s letter addressed to him on 23 October 1971.

[6] The bombing of the Piazza Fontana in Milan.

[7] Italian in original.

[8] English in original.

[9] Italian in original.

[10] See our translation.

[11] Italian in original.

[12] Italian in original.

[13] Italian in original.

[14] The ex-situationist Raoul Vaneigem, who believed that Lee Harvey Oswald (and no one else) assassinated JFK.

[15] Italian in original.

[16] Italian in original.

[17] More like the ex-situationist Eduoardo Rothe than the ex-situationist Paolo Salvadori.

[18] Hanns-Martin Schleyer was a former Nazi, a businessman and a Christian Democrat who was kidnapped by the Red Army Faction and murdered on 19 October 1977 in retribution for the murder in prison of Andreas Baader. Luis Carrero Blanco was a Spanish Admiral and Francoist who was killed by the ETA on 20 December 1973.

[19] In 1974, Vito Miceli, the head of Italy’s Military Intelligence and Security Service, was arrested and charged with “political conspiracy” for his role in the failed Golpe Borghese of 1970.

[20] The French word used here, demanteler, can also mean “uncovered.”

[21] Italian in original.

[22] Italian in original.

[23] Latin for “that is to say.”

[24] Police Commissioner Luigi Calabresi was the lead investigator into the bombing of the Piazza Fontana.

[25] Anarchist rather than communist.

[26] Latin for “who profits?”

[27] Italian in original.

[28] English in original.

[29] The French word used here, inconsciemment, also means “unwittingly” and “unconsciously.”

[30] Italian in original.

[31] Georgy Gapon, a police agent who organized a procession on 22 January 1905 that led to a massacre, which in turn greatly undermined working class support for the Czarist regime.

[32] Italian in original.

[33] English in original.

[34] English in original.

[35] On 18 October 1977, in Mogadishu, Somalia, a German counter-terrorist squad stormed and rescued all the passengers from an airplane that had been hijacked five days earlier by members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. On 4 July 1976, in Entebbe, Uganda, a squad of commandos from the Israeli Defense Forces stormed and rescued over a hundred passengers from an airplane that had been hijacked seven days earlier by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a German group called the Revolutionary Cells.

[36] On 19 February 1978, at the Larnaca International Airport in Cyprus, Egyptian troops attempted to intervene in a stand-off with hijackers, but, due to a lack of coordination with the Cypriot authorities, they ended up fighting a battle with the Cypriot military in which more than 20 Egyptian soldiers were killed.

[37] Guy Debord.

[38] Italian in original.

[39] The street in Florence where Sanguinetti maintained his residence.

[40] The “Five Days” refers to the war for independence fought between 18 and 22 March 1848. The “Resurgence” was the period from 1815 to 1871, during which Italy was unified into a single nation. The “disordered” or “untidy” reign took place around the time of World War I.

[41] Italian in original.

[42] Italian in original.

[43] English in original.

[44] Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French Army, was falsely accused of passing secrets to the German government in 1894. He was exonerated in 1906.

[45] Founded in Tuscany in 1977 by Gianfranco Faina, who died of advanced lung cancer in February 1980, and Salvatore Cinieri, who was killed in prison in 1979. “Revolutionary Action” mostly attacked the media and Christian Democratic politicians.

[46] The official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party.

[47] Italian in original. “This group” refers to the Italian Communist Party.

[48] In 1979, Sanguinetti would in fact write his Remedy for Everything, of which “On Terrorism and the State” would form a part. Cf. his letter to Mustapha Khayati (December 2012).

[49] Italian in original: a quotation from Dante’s Purgatory, VI, 76-78.

[50] Italian in original.

[51] Italian in original.

[52] Italian in original. From a song by Marchetto Cara (1465-1525) called “Hor vendut’ho la speranza.” We have located and translated another verse (perhaps the song’s chorus?): “Hope is like a dream that passes into nothing / Hope is the demand that can be weighed in the wind / Hope often destroys those who dance its dance.”

(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. Footnotes #3 and #48 expanded May 2013.)

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