La Vieille Taupe
When Socialisme ou Barbarie rejected « traditional » revolutionary theory for good, a minority left it and regrouped around the journal Pouvoir Ouvrier. Pouvoir Ouvrier wanted to retain the good aspects of Socialisme ou Barbarie, while ignoring the common thread linking the origins of Socialisme ou Barbarie to its subsequent deviations. Pouvoir Ouvrier fell short of the German Left on many points : trade unions, the party, imperialism and the national question, etc. In fact different ultraleft tendencies coexisted within it, united only on the questions of the capitalist nature of Russia and worker's management. At its head was Vega, a former member of the Italian left who had joined Socialisme ou Barbarie shortly after its foundation. But this ex-« Bordigist » brought nothing of Bordigism to Socialisme ou Barbarie, having found in the Italian left only a purer Leninism than that of the Trotskyists, and supplementing this with the theses on state capitalism and workers management.
A duplicated monthly magazine with a thousand readers, Pouvoir Ouvrier acted as if it were read by 100,000 proletarians each week. In depth articles were rare. Often these were by Pierre Souyri, under the pseudonym Brune, who had been the author of two essential texts on China published in Socialisme ou Barbarie. In 1965, Pierre Guillaume, a member of Socialisme ou Barbarie and then of Pouvoir Ouvrier, founded the bookshop la Vieille Taupe, in the rue des Fossés-Saint-Jacques in Paris. Around it a current of reflection and activity came together which was as interested in the Situationist International, which for a while maintained relations with the bookshop, as it was in the Italian left, at that time known almost entirely through the filter of the International Communist Party (PCI). Pierre Guillaume took part, for example, in the English edition of the Situationist International text on the Watts riots. Pouvoir Ouvrier, undoubtedly feeling vulnerable, to the point of fearing that this (second) current could threaten the unity and life of the group, organised an absurd disciplinary hearing in September 1967, at the end of which Pierre Guillaume and Jacques Baynac were excluded for « fractional work »... A good halfdozen of the other members resigned. They formed themselves into an informal group which everyone called « La Vieille Taupe ».
From its start, the bookshop refused a doctrinal label. It was not a local section of Pouvoir Ouvrier (while Pierre Guillaume was still a member), nor its bookshop. At a time when it was difficult to obtain the essential revolutionary texts, very few being available for sale, many out of print etc., it wanted to facilitate access to them. In 1965 the mere fact of selecting texts by Marx, Bakunin, the Situationist International, Programme Communiste (the organ of the PCI) and texts by the ultra-left took on a theoretical and political meaning. In its way la Vieille Taupe took part in the theoretical synthesis which is indispensable at all times. It went beyond the sects without simply taking in everything « to the left of the Communist Party », like the bookseller and publisher Maspero (who at one time even refused to sell Voix Ouvrière, the [Trotskyist] ancestor of today's Lutte Ouvrière, because it appeared too hostile to left wing parties and trade unions !)
In 1967, at a time when the Communist Party was more concerned to publish Thorez and Stalin, the bookshop bought up the considerable remainders of the material published by Costes, the only real French publisher of Marx before the war. At the start of 1968, when the Communist Party's Editions Sociales version of Capital was out of print, the only place where the three volumes could be obtained was La Vieille Taupe. The bookshop distributed the unsold stock of Socialisme ou Barbarie, but also that of Cahiers Spartacus which had published many titles after the war, about the whole of the workers movement from the extreme left to the extreme right. Thousands of copies of texts by Luxemburg, Prudhommeaux etc., which had been gathering dust in a cellar in the town hall of the Vth district were once again offered to the public. La Vieille Taupe did not deny the need for coherence. It only considered that it could not be reached starting from just one of the radical currents of that period (all of them one-sided), nor just by starting to listen to workers (like Informations et Correspondances Ouvrières), nor just by studying the forms which modern capitalism had taken (as Souyri, who kept away from the unrest provoked by the split in Pouvoir Ouvrier, would have wished). Instead it would involve a theoretical appropriation of all of the currents of the communist left (and thus also of the historical ground on which they had come into being), and of the Situationist International, as well as a reflection on communism and, in particular, on the contribution of Marx.
The small heterogeneous group which had come out of Pouvoir Ouvrier had little or no « public » activities in the months preceding May 68. Mainly, it collectively read Capital and started to assimilate the components of the communist left, as well as of the Situationist International. La Vieille Taupe was not a group; rather it was the crossing point of various threads, with a dominant anti-Leninism, which was thrown into a new perplexity by the arrival of Invariance.
It would be absurd to claim that the existence of this small regroupment played a decisive part in May 68 or afterwards. What occurred there under privileged conditions (because we were able to benefit from the experiences handed down by various groups which had already sorted through a mass of ideas and facts), also, of course, occurred elsewhere – often in confusion, sometimes perhaps with greater clarity. What's important is that the process of theoretical maturation, without which the shockwave of 1968 would have gone less far, related to the following points : communism, the function of democracy and proletarian spontaneity, and not to the string of non-problems that was conveyed, even by part of the ultra-left (consciousness, leadership, management, authority, etc). May 68 was not a revolution (!), but what this movement actually was would not have existed without that maturation.
The refusal to form a group, delimiting an interior and an exterior, allowed those who met at La Vieille Taupe to move towards a common coherence which others only possessed on paper. Within this theoretical and practical community, a certain dynamic was at work, which put everyone on an equal footing while integrating abilities and various nuances of opinion. This collectivity, which for convenience, we will call La Vieille Taupe, advanced step by step, each time associating those who approved of the particular action being undertaken, without them having to agree on a « programme » or a « platform ». But of course, if somebody proposed such and such action to this or that person, it was because they thought they had more in common with them than just a desire for action. La Vieille Taupe didn't try to make a name for itself : our acts were our signature. Common activity was based on a consensus which was often experienced as inspiring : there were things to be done and said, and people often understood one another very quickly. The absence of voting, and of legalism, gave the feeling of an activity close to what one could consider as communist. Psychology, the discussion of states of feeling and the influence of character and emotional « problems » , were rejected.
This form of organisation encouraged irresponsibility. A questionable text might be distributed, a harmful initiative taken, without people coming to any necessary reservations or rectifications, because the group didn't have a definite existence. The most active individual, Pierre Guillaume, was thus the least controlled by the common activity. As for the absence of psychology, if we think of this with melancholy when we see what a soup so many among us now swim in, and when we see the extent to which disturbed behaviour became important in the subsequent evolution, and in the splits which punctuated it, we should also not forget that this refusal was in part a blindness which sometimes led us to tolerate behaviour we would no longer put up with today.
If the absence of formalism stopped us succumbing to the diseases of sects : doctrinal sclerosis and the organisation of organisation, the lack of clearly defined perspectives, which we might have agreed on after a more formal discussion, had the disadvantage of hindering a critique of our activities, for this could not be based on any formulated agreement. It's true that this effort of formulation would have inevitably deprived us of the support of part of the elements which circulated around La Vieille Taupe. And it is not certain that this would have been a good thing : we would perhaps have gained in precision, but a creative profusion would have been lost, which only later bore fruit, in our heads, and in those of others. Nevertheless, this vagueness facilitated a Stalinophobic mania which came close to making anti-Stalinism a requirement in the same way that antifascism was for others (if it was against the Communist Party and the USSR, it could not be bad...). Its necessary to say again that hostility to the Communist Party, like hostility to NATO, can be anti-revolutionary. For the communist movement there is no « enemy number one of the peoples of the world ».
It ended up that La Vieille Taupe devoted much energy to placing « banana skins » under the feet of Stalinists in order to throw them off balance, and that it devoted much effort to scandalous acts, attacks on a single terrain : that of ideology, which the enemy had controlled for far too long without being seriously threatened. A violent action that doesn't include within itself its meaning (comprehensible to those with whom you have something in common, and to whom you address yourself) plays the enemies game. Writing « Too many murderers (massacreurs) decorate this wall with flowers » on the mur des Fédérés [a memorial to the dead of the Paris commune in Père Lachaise cemetery, which was itself the site of the final resistance and subsequent massacre of the communards on the 28th May 1871. The memorial was used as a place of annual pilgrimage for the French Communist Party - translators note], is an act which contains within itself its impact, and whose significance cannot be misunderstood except through bad faith or from an obvious lack of interest in the issue. But a violent attack which doesn't inscribe within itself a possible clarification will be given its meaning by the political powers, or by the media, and from the outside.
If a blow aimed at representations, (for example, the myth which the Communist party maintains about itself), is addressed to radicals, it can retain its meaning, and encourage the silent majority. But if it attempts to address everyone, and change public opinion about the Communist Party, it will simultaneously fail to reach both general and minority consciousness. Yet La Vieille Taupe practised scandal without being able to discuss it, except on rare occasions, and to little effect. In France, 1972 was a turning point. The year saw the apogee of leftism and the last important occurrence of the anti-statist, anti-political and anti-repressive demonstrations which had appeared in 1968. The funeral of Overnay was the climax after which everything fell apart. It was a large anti-Communist Party gathering : Overney, a maoist militant, had been shot at the gates of Renault by the employers private police, and Marchais [general secretary of the Communist Party] had not been able to restrain this heartfelt cry : « We are not going to start again as in 68 … ». The leftist stewards could hardly contain this enormous demonstration, shot through with a riotous atmosphere, but unable to set goals for itself. We saw one of our number, his voice competing with the megaphones, recapture the slogan of the demonstration from the Trotskyist stewards : « Marchais, bastard, the people will have your hide », before the underlings intervened with a cry of « no anticommunism ». In its violence, this slogan nonetheless showed the limits of the demonstration. Within leftism, one part of Maoism developed an anti-trade union and anti-Communist Party line, but within a logic that was antifascist, populist and democratic.
Coming after a theoretical breakthrough in the work of revolutionaries, the demonstration was interpreted as a sign of the appearance (finally) of a radical current beyond leftism. A series of groups were born at this time : in particular Négation in Paris and Intervention communiste (which was to become Théorie communiste) in Aix. La Vieille Taupe prepared to publish several texts, one of which was En quoi la perspective communiste réapparaît by François Martin, developed from several texts from 1968 and afterwards. Continuing the discussions which had followed Overney's funeral, at which a Vieille Taupe leaflet had been well received, a number of workers who for a long time had taken part in our activities criticized the lack of follow up to our action, and called for the creation of a more coherent group. The leaflets, the theoretical texts such as those by Denis Authier (preface to Trotsky's Report of the Siberian Delegation, for Spartacus), by Gilles Dauvé, under the name Jean Barrot, and by Pierre Guillaume, and the informal contacts, were no longer enough they said. Thus Mouvement Communiste saw the light of day, with a bulletin of the same name, of which François Martin's text formed the first issue, and Capitalism and Communism the second. Five hundred copies of each were published (a further 1000 copies of No 2 almost immediately afterwards), and they were distributed in a few days, the greater part by direct contact, notably at workplaces (Renault). We had the impression of moving forward.
The theoretical clarification, and the confluence between groups in several countries, had created belief in the birth of a movement, few in number, but coherent, able to make itself known, and to maintain a minimum of active relations with the proletarian experience. Perhaps we were right about the clarification taking place, but we were certainly wrong about the formation of centres capable of reflection and even of action. Overnay's funeral was one of the illusions of May, of which it formed the last gasp, and by no means the sign of a renewal. Even those who had pushed for the formation of Mouvement Communiste dissociated themselves from it almost at once. The links established with Négation did not last. Our links with the more modern countries cooled and the only close contacts we maintained were in Italy and Spain. The global proletarian activity had facilitated the encounter and accumulation of points of view which were often in sympathy, but it was not strong enough to impose a synthesis which would have provided a better grasp of the present : we did not get beyond an understanding of the past. In these conditions, the book Le Mouvement Communiste (Champ Libre, 1972), which came out at the same time, could not be satisfactory. It was a text by Gilles Dauvé, not of La Vieille Taupe or the group Mouvement Communiste, which had hardly discussed or improved it. As the forward to the Portuguese edition (1975) has already put it, the work was an inadequate theorization, as partial, in its way, as most texts at that time. Re-reading Marx in the footsteps of Invariance and Bordiga, the book neglected to include Marx himself in its global critique. Its concern to describe objective « laws » made it forget real relations. « Value » no longer seemed to be the expression of social relations, but tended to personify itself, and become a subject of history like the « communist movement » , whereas value and communist movement are only theoretical constructions which approach reality. The book constructed an integrated model of contradictions instead of illuminating them on the basis of practise. On closing the book, one might believe in the existence of a proletarian movement automatically set in motion by the « obsolescence » of value. Today it seems to us that the link between capitalism and communism, and between Capital and proletariat, is far from being as clear as we put it then. Communist transformation was presented as a series of measures to be taken. While we said that it was a question of a movement, we didn't show in detail the subversive effects of such immediate measures. Abstract analysis of the real conditions, and idealism.
The Scandinavian split in the [Bordigist] PCI in 1971 triggered the departure of part of the members of the French section. The crisis of militancy, endemic within all political groups, did not orient these ex-militants towards revolutionary action (which would it would first have been necessary to define). It propelled them towards a search for « life » in which they got lost. Their evolution conformed to a process we often saw at work in our ranks : a kind of « life-cycle of the revolutionary ». On the basis of an instinctive rejection of established society, people pass from existential revolt to organised activity for revolution, through a series of breaks which lead more and more to the left. They make a critique of everything, of all forms of existence and proletarian intervention, of the whole of the revolutionary or pseudo-revolutionary past, glorified and deformed, until a limit point is reached where the critique of everything also includes revolution and proletariat which they end up rejecting as myths, unless, that is, they theorize them as nothing more than abstract identities, philosophical concepts out of reach of human action.
Invariance had obviously played a part in the crisis of the PCI, but its own evolution, reflecting the quasi-general disarray, only contributed to a lack of progress by some, and to a take-off into hyperspace by others. Camatte, in taking up Marx's phrase well summarized the contradiction of the proletariat : « a class of capitalist society that is not of capitalist society » (Series III, 1979, pp. 55-56). But he resolved this contradiction in a strange manner : first the class is the partycommunity, then the party is the class-community, and thus a universal class, and finally it is humanity. Camatte had initially relocated the failing class in the « party ». Instead of going on from there to what it is that creates the proletariat, its experience, and its contradictions, Invariance then relocated the party into being the whole of humanity. The metaphysics of humanity replaced that of the party. But it always remained a matter of a mediation between revolution and the activity of men, because what it was in their practice which could generate a revolution was poorly discerned.
Invariance translated into its own language capitalist omnipresence. Camatte so well understood the absorption of the world by this impersonal monster that he succumbed to its fascination, to the point of seeing it everywhere. If Capital swallows everything, then proletarians in their turn make themselves into cannibals, and their struggle nourishes Capital with their flesh. Invariance showed how structuralism expressed the strength of a system which in eternalising itself denied history. In its turn, incapable of seeing in barbarism anything other than barbarism, it no longer distinguished anything more than a totality within which all previous distinctions (classes, production/circulation, etc.) had been erased. The second and third series of Invariance theorised a visible reality which we run up against painfully : the omnipresence of Capital. According to Invariance, against a totalitarian being which occupies the entire social terrain, another subterranean, but equally omnipresent, reality would oppose itself : the uprising of life. Traditional revolutionary thought avoided speculation about the survival of Capital by assigning it to external causes (social democracy, imperialism, etc). Invariance resorted to an interiorization : Capital survives because it has entered into us. The economic « death crisis » is replaced by a revolt of our nature which has been scorned by Capital.
For Invariance, apart from this human nature, this something within us which refuses to submit itself, Capital absorbs everything. This is to forget that absorption must enter through the real relations between humans. The opposition is not between an activity, that is capitalised through and through, and human nature : if there is an opposition, it is necessarily within capitalist activity itself, precisely because it is set in motion by proletarians. It is this very activity that is contradictory and perhaps offers an exit. The solution lies in the social relation, not elsewhere.
« The worker himself is a Capital, a commodity… » (Marx), but he is not these things passively. Invariance understood that Capital does not proceed by itself, but through our own action. But Camatte concluded from this that Capital had therefore triumphed for good : it had made itself us, it incorporated us. However it is precisely through this activity which it imposes on us that Capital is contradictory. As Lefort said in the article previously cited, proletarians are in a situation of universality.
With regard to Camatte who believes that the revolutionary movement, in the sense we give these words, is dead, and who believes that the new reality of Capital has removed any validity from the concepts of proletariat and revolution, we should not take refuge in an attitude of rigid contempt. Revolutionaries at the end of the 19th century justifiably affirmed, against « revisionism » , that nothing essential had changed since 1848. In 1914 however, (i.e. too late), they realised that all the same something had indeed changed : the labour movement had become an instrument of Capital. Revolutionaries should have recognised then that revisionism was the expression of real problems which their refutation by itself had neglected. Camatte formerly provided many elements for revolutionary theory in our time. Today he poses a real question badly. His wandering illustrates the ambiguity of the period.
Castoriadis and Camatte saw in Capital something which devours everything, and concluded by invalidating the concepts differentiating the parts of Capital, to leave in place, in the work of one, a bureaucratic pyramid, in the work of the other, an indefinable totality which simultaneously integrates the human being and yet doesn't succeed in this. These are the thinkers of the new face of Capital, of the end of the labour movement and the absence of the revolutionary movement : because the latter does not display the characteristics which one might have imagined in the 1960s, they have cut themselves adrift from the moorings. A group like the Organisation des Jeunes Travailleurs révolutionnaires, who notably published Militancy - highest stage of alienation in 1972, went against this trend of « every man for himself ». Initially marked by the Situationist International, they became acquainted with the communist left, and effected a convergence with La Vieille Taupe.
Mouvement Communiste had not achieved a satisfactory collective functioning, any more than La Vieille Taupe had. It became an organ for publishing texts by Gilles Dauvé, amended by a few people. After difficult discussions with Négation and others about what we could agree to do, and a polemic about a memorial meeting for Leon Blum which we had disrupted, we realised there was a crisis in our ranks. The fourth issue of Mouvement Communiste « Révolutionnaire ? » (1973) contained some valid remarks, together with others which were distorted, on the subject of subversive action and the community. But it especially testified to a revealing displacement in the centre of interest : it no longer considered the proletarians, but the revolutionaries. Its hardly surprising that this text proposed no real remedy for what was not a disease but the state of the movement. A « milieu » had aimed at constituting itself around a communist ideology, with its own slogans (« abolition of wage labour » , « crisis of value » ) in place of those of the leftists. Noting that it no longer performed the role of a meeting place, and instead entertained a clientele like any other bookstore, the bookshop La Vieille Taupe closed at the end of 1972. « All the elements of revolutionary theory exist in the marketplace, but not their instructions for use. This is not the province of a bookshop. Revolutionary theory cannot exist apart from the establishment of practical links in order to act and this action can no longer principally be the affirmation and dissemination of revolutionary theory. (…) La Vieille Taupe must disappear. » (Bail à céder, [Lease for sale] La Vieille Taupe poster, 15th December 1972) Before 1968 there were groups unable to distribute their theory beyond a circle of initiates. This was the reason for existence of the bookshop. In 1972, revolutionary ideas circulated, amongst other reasons because society needed revolutionary theory to understand and adjust its contradictions. But any collective revolutionary effort was, and remained, extremely fragile.
Failing to politicise workplace conflicts, after 1968 leftism had not succeeded in its passage from the factories to the corridors of power, and had withdrawn into struggles outside work, struggles around everyday life (typical was the Maoist group Vive La Révolution (VLR) and its journal Ce que nous voulons : Tout ! What do we want : Everything!). After 1972, politics declined and the various neoreformisms of everyday life flourished. Compared to leftist specialists in power, these movements, in one sense, posed real problems. But each became bogged down in its own speciality. By comparison the « communist » milieu had a global point of view to oppose to theirs which seemed like their opposite : more like a political discourse, a more distinctive point of view, but unlike the others absolutely ineffective. All partial critique was false, but the global critique lacked any point of application.
The pirate Monde Diplomatique
The death of Baader and his comrades (1977) and the reactions which it provoked, notably in the press, gave two or three of us the idea of producing a fake Monde Diplomatique. The initiative brought together over a few days some energies which were momentarily isolated, and others who were then organised elsewhere. The main part of it was written and produced by the people who today produce La Banquise, with the assistance of members and friends of la Guerre Sociale, and some others. Part of the texts were reproduced in 1978 in Issue 2 of la Guerre Sociale.
It was a reaction to the spectacular reinforcement of the State in a period of crisis, which not only revealed its means of policing, but also gathered behind it nearly the whole of the media and of the political and intellectual forces. Far more than in the guise of the police state that was so much denounced, the counterrevolution appeared in the form of organised consensus. In West Germany, as elsewhere, the police operation functioned thanks to the conformism maintained by social inertia, and thanks to the guardians of the monopoly of speech : intellectuals, journalists, politicians, professors, experts, etc., who applied themselves to exacerbating and managing a popular hysteria which was undoubtedly without precedent in Europe since the last world war. The only discordant voices differed in calling for a « true » democracy, as if this hysterical consensus was not precisely a product of democracy.
Social inertia is made possible not by the « passivity » of the workers who continue no less to conduct struggles, but by respect for the limitations necessary for the normal functioning of capitalism and its democracy. It is obvious that an active communist movement would have found other forms of action, that were offensive in other ways, instead of, or in addition to, this détournement of the media. We by no means sought to turn its own weapons against the press. Confronting the journalistic servility which is plain to see in the media, we didn't call for a « true » journalism which was less respectful of power.
We had chosen le Monde Diplomatique both for reasons of convenience – its periodicity, and because the readership of this organ – left and liberal intellectuals, was precisely who we particularly wanted to attack. The technique of the forgery simultaneously made it possible for us to make our positions known (distribution through bookshops and by hand), and to attack the media through a process analogous to sabotage in the sphere of production.
Deprived of the means of effectively attacking the State, for example through a demonstration, or through any other more virulent act, we intervened in the domain of ideas, and within a limited milieu. The fake Monde Diplomatique did what the press is supposed to do in times of crisis, and which it evidently does not do : it exercised a critical spirit at a critical moment for power. To this end we employed irony and concealment : a powerful weapon, but a weapon of the weak who cannot conduct a frontal attack. We did what democracy did not do, but against it. We produced 2000 copies. A few hundred were sent to journalists and personalities,
creating a certain shock in the enemy ranks. We know for certain that those in charge of the principle media it aimed at (Le Monde) were rather inconvenienced by it. The other copies were distributed very quickly in the anti-establishment milieu. Despite what was imagined by journalists, in good or bad faith, the achievement of such a fake, which cost us 4,500 francs in all, is within the reach of anyone who gives themselves the means. The strength of social inertia and the weight of received ideas are the real brakes on action that breaks out of the usual political framework, not the material difficulties.
Some readers or recipients took a while before realising that it was a hoax. Should we conclude from this that the texts were not clear enough ? Rather it proves the destructuring character of such an action, which shakes up the established frameworks of thought. And beyond that ? The entire issue contained nothing of a democratic protest, communism and the revolution were there. But the nature of such activity contains its own limitations.
The production had been carried out in a pleasant and efficient atmosphere, bringing into contact people who had been separated for a long time, or who did not know one another. The network of contacts which had been woven around La Vieille Taupe had been reactivated. We wondered what to do next. Meetings over following weeks led to nothing. It was a successfully conducted limited action, but that was all. We had confirmed that the work undertaken in and around La Vieille Taupe had left sufficient traces in people that they could on occasion form an effective force of action. But there was no question of organising this reserve of energies. Organisation is the organisation of tasks and no other task appeared sufficiently urgent to weld these energies together. However one of the key sentences of the fake was the last : Now, let us speak of something else.
La Vieille Taupe 2 and the Faurisson Affair
The texts in the pirate Monde Diplomatique displayed a flaw of which we only later saw the implications. Although it repeatedly asserted that the question was of little importance, and despite the fact that it centred its critique on the spectacular and democratic consensus, the fake Monde Diplomatique resolved the question of whether Baader had been killed or had killed himself : it appeared to it that there was no doubt that the truth was literally the reverse of what the media said, and that it was extremely likely the prisoners of Stammheim had been killed by others than themselves.
The paradox of a forgery aiming at a truth ! It was a mistake to dwell on « literal » truth. Just as the « truth » of our Monde Diplomatique was not its title, even though this was written in black on white, in the same way the truth of the death of Baader was not the identity of the finger which pulled the trigger on the gun. It is literally true that this finger certainly had to possess one identity rather than another. In the same way, it is surely true that the gas chambers had to exist – or not. But for a revolutionary, the identity of the finger that killed Baader, just like the existence or non-existence of the gas chambers, is no more than a truth devoid of meaning, about as useful as the proverbial knife without a blade for which the handle is missing. Yet it was the problem of this truth which tore a little further apart a French revolutionary current which was already well dispersed.
1979 : to my right, a « little professor » from Lyon who for some years had been proclaiming the following « good news for humanity » : the gas chambers in the Nazi concentration camps never existed, they were no more than sinister prisoners gossip, taken up as war propaganda and appointed as official truth by those forces – in particular Zionism and Stalinism – whose interests converged on this point. It was the same for the genocide of Jews, which « in the strict sense » had no reality. On the first point the crackpot developed an argument that was sometimes convincing, at least at first sight. He showed how fragile some « proofs » of official history really are.
To my left, the representatives of the corporation of historians who, after having for a long time opposed the deepest silence to the little professor, declared in Le Monde : « it is not necessary to ask how such a mass murder was possible technically. It was technically possible because it took place (…) there is not, there cannot be a debate over the question of the gas chambers ». Then, having put forward these ethical premises, the corporation more or less entered the debate and applied themselves to showing, sometimes in a convincing way, that the little professor was not as rigorous as he claimed and on occasion was even a forger. Neither adversary spared themselves any considerations as to the motivations of their enemy, whether they located these in psychopathology or in the petty minded need to defend a nice little earner, not to speak of the shadowy ulterior political motives which both camps readily lent themselves to.
All this took place in the middle of an antifascist clamour from all those who had the floor and intended to hang on to it : politicians of every tendency merged together – from democrats in good standing to ex-Vichyists and ex-OAS, passing from Stalinists and journalists in search of a scoop through to the guardians of memory, without forgetting those people who consider it important to communicate their opinion on every digestive disorder of Western good conscience : the intellectuals.
The Faurisson affair occurred in France after two others which, at first sight, it greatly resembled. First of all there had been a particularly unsavoury journalistic « coup » : someone had gone to gather the senile ramblings of a former Vichy Commissioner for Jewish Affairs, Darquier de Pellepoix, now retired to Spain. Then, with a great fanfare, the European media had launched onto television screens a series produced in the United States devoted to the tragic destiny of a Jewish family during the Second World War. It was not the first time that the alarming spectre had been brought out : was Nazism raising its head again ? But thanks to the crisis, this question had more troubling resonances : around it could concentrate the irrational fears which haunt men when they identify their own futures with the extremely uncertain future of a world which oppresses them. We thus had the uncommon sight of the highest government authorities discussing the urgent necessity of purchasing a television « series ». The first screening of Holocaust was a moment of great national harmony. To listen to some everyday conversations, the duty of any democrat that evening was to be in front of his TV. The attention of newspaper readers was drawn to Faurisson for the first time, courtesy of Le Matin, which undoubtedly wished to mount an operation of the same kind which L'Express had successfully conducted with Darquier de Pellepoix. Knowing the circumstances in which an interview was extracted from the little professor and the way they then doctored and presented the interview in question, we might have been shocked if we had been interested in that sort of thing (codes of ethics), and if we still had any illusions about the profession of journalist. The socialist newspaper announced that in Lyon, a teacher was supporting Darquier de Pellepoix. Moreover, Jean-Pierre Pierre-Bloch, a frenzied antiracist, had told Le Matin that Darquier's « theory » was the same as that of the « falsifier Rassinier ». What's more Faurisson also claimed to follow Rassinier. Rassinier being dead – and what Le Matin had not thought to publish – Faurisson having declared that Darquier was the very kind of man he had fought all his life, the little professor of Lyon found himself alone against all. On one side the bad guy, on the other side the good guys. Everything was thus in place for one of those affairs which can only leave indifferent those who know what the society of the spectacle is. We were about to witness one of those events created from nothing in order to give breadth to the background noise, so that not for an instant is there any break in the incidental music which is the raison d'être of the media, the flow of pseudo-information which prevents the proletarian from thinking.
However, a number of people, who nearly all had in common that they were in favour of the abolition of wage labour (among them Pierre Guillaume, Jean-Pierre Carasso, Hervé Denès and Christine Martineau) thought it would be helpful to write to Libération in order to affirm that Rassinier, who Bloch had made a spiritual ancestor of Darquier, far from having been a Nazi had been a left-wing extremist, a member of the Resistance deported to Buchenwald, and that he was still a socialist and a pacifist when he formulated the theories which now earned him a comparison with a Vichy Commissioner for Jewish Affairs.
What were revolutionaries doing in this mess ? Some of those who today write La Banquise appended their signatures to this letter which appeared under the title « Do You Know Rassinier ? ». Today we consider that adding those signatures was a fundamental error, for several reasons, the principal one being that this letter aimed, above all, to prepare « the debate ».
Indeed, what was the debate about ? The official version and current public opinion affirm that the Nazis deliberately massacred Jews. « Revisionists » of the Faurisson type retort that the deportees died of hunger and disease, etc. Instead of dipping a toe into this debate as we did, and instead of losing themselves in it as some other revolutionaries did, we would all have been better advised to respond :
« This debate is false. We will no more become specialists in Zyklon B than in 1977 we claimed to have conducted the autopsy on Baader. A very large number (which we will let you determine) of Jews, and Baader and his comrades, were killed by the German State and the world capitalist system. »
From the start, the interest of revolutionaries in the concentration camps (and thus in Rassinier) formed part of an attempt to critically analyse the war of 1939-45. [Note 1] Understanding how Nazi atrocities had been used, and even exaggerated, in order to justify the war and its aftermath, helped us to better understand the false opposition between democracy and fascism. It was for this reason that we had republished an article from Programme Communiste : « Auschwitz ou le grand alibi », in 1971 and 1974. Today in 1983 after a four year campaign by the second Vieille Taupe, which had been created for this purpose by Pierre Guillaume, those who once read the works published by the bookshop la Vieille Taupe, which had closed in 1972, are still unaware of what Vieille Taupe 2 thinks about 1939-45, or about fascism. For four years, the only question for Vieille Taupe 2 has been gassings and the right to speak about them.
As we have said, those who met at the bookshop la Vieille Taupe considered that their actions and their writings were their signature; la Vieille Taupe was a link and a meeting place – everything except a signature. Pierre Guillaume revived it in the exclusive form of a signature which, whether he wanted it or not, drew all its interest from a past activity which had nothing to do with its present activities. In saying this, we are not putting ourselves forward as the supercilious heirs of an activity of which he had been the principal organiser. Quite simply, out of fidelity with what we once had in common with him, it is necessary for us to oppose the Pierre Guillaume of today to that of former times.
While Rassinier's The Lie of Ulysses is an interesting document, and while it stands out from the majority of writings on concentration camps, and from the excesses displayed by some of them, this doesn't make it an exceptional work. Everything that some have wished to see in it could have been brought out from other Note 1
However it is incorrect to write, as Pierre Guillaume has : « Briefly, since 1970, Vieille Taupe has shared the essential theories of Paul Rassinier. » (text sent to Libération quoted in Serge Thion, Historical Truth or Political Truth, la Vieille Taupe, 1980, p. 139). Or that « The Lie of Ulysses was unanimously accepted by Vieille Taupe which recognised its radical importance at all levels. » (Pierre Guillaume, preface to Rassinier, Ulysses betrayed by his own, la VT, 1980). The second assertion is very exaggerated. As for the first, Rassinier's « theories » were very little known, and still recently few of those who defended him had read anything other than The Lie of Ulysses and The Drama of the European Jews. Even today who has read «The Persons Responsible for the Second World War » ? accounts, for example that of the Russian deportee Martchenko, (My Testimony, La Seuil, 1970). Far more than the book itself, it is the reactions it provoked which are revealing.
Rassinier's interest lies above all in his refusal of war propaganda. When he leaves behind his hostility to brainwashing and begins to explain the war and the Jewish question, he is entirely off his head : not through errors of fact (we haven't attempted to check his sources), but above all through his angle of approach to these problems. The fact that his work might disturb people changes nothing. The Moonies also disturb people and unite a large Union Sacrée in opposition to them. Does this make them interesting ?
To deal with the massacre of Jews during the war by devoting a hundred pages to statistical calculations (one third of The Drama of the European Jews, 1964) in order to determine whether 1,600,000 or 6,000,000 Jews died, is to peer at things through the wrong end of the spyglass, and continues the Nuremberg Trials through contesting them. A new and profound book on this subject would be documented, but it would leave to one side the false problem of quantification. Everything has been said when it has been shown how the figure of six million, at the very least doubtful, has developed into dogma. One says nothing when one elaborates rival statistics for oneself, just as unverifiable for non-specialist readers as those one criticises.
Most of the documents and files which we have consulted were supplied to us by Vieille Taupe 2. They show that Rassinier was inclined towards, and supported throughout, by a pacifist, socialist (SFIO) and humanist current, in the line of those state employed teachers of the IIIrd Republic such as Dommanget, who were freethinkers and opponents of war. When war came, in 1914, as in 1939, they generally accepted, if not justified, it. But outside periods of war they maintained the anti-militarist tradition and sometimes declared themselves to be libertarians. After the scandal over The Lie of Ulysses around 1950-51, this current, which had received Rassinier's critique of brainwashing favourably, faded away. Rassinier then buried himself in the Jewish question and the gas chambers and disengaged from the left of the SFIO, which was engaged in other struggles (against the war in Algeria). He now rubbed shoulders more comfortably with the extreme right than with the former pacifists and socialists, who in general gave into the cold war. For la Vieille Taupe 2, « Rassinier unshakeably remained until his death a socialist, pacifist, antiracist, internationalist (…) » (Pierre Guillaume, forward to Ulysses betrayed by his own, p. 179). Rassinier was a socialist, in the sense that he remained for twenty years in the SFIO and even represented it in the Chamber of Deputies. His pacifism excluded internationalism, which among other things presupposes breaking with the « workers parties », and this explains why he agreed to travel alongside the extreme right.
Considering that « warmongering had passed from the right to the left », that « Resistancialism was being maintained there » (rough draft of a letter to Bauchet, 1964), and entirely preoccupied by peace, he first and foremost reserved his blows for the left. For him, as for antifascism, there existed a favoured enemy, but for him this was the left, and in particular the Communist Party, not fascism. He judged the right to be less dangerous – and this shocks left intellectuals – in much the same way that around 1950 Sartre preferred the USSR to the USA. He did not share the ideas of Bardèche, the editor of Défense de l'Occident [Défense de l'Occident (Defence of the West) and Rivarol were right-wing journals - translator], but all the same Bardèche was a « good man (…) more a poet than an editor » (letter of Rassinier to Faurrison, 3rd January 1967); he found Défense de l'Occident or Rivarol less harmful than l'Humanité [the Communist Party newspaper - translator]. Rassinier did not merely become a « revolutionary without revolution » writing wherever he could make his « scientific » studies known. From the start of his postwar activity Rassinier followed a precise political line : « Peace above all » – which was in no way revolutionary. He ended up by placing his pacifism at the service of the Western camp in the Cold War, and more particularly, of the extreme-right. In the issue of Rivarol for 1st January 1964 Rassinier set out his viewpoint as follows : obsessed by the desire to justify the reparations that Germany paid to the State of Israel, the international Zionist movement « brought the reinforcement of the gas chambers and the six million dead » to all of Khrushchev's attacks on Europe. In so doing, the Zionist movement will not fail to bring about that « not only the horses of Cossacks come to water themselves in the waters of the Rhine, but that their tanks are filled up on their way to the Sahara and that their planes stopover on their way to drop their bombs on the United States. » The supposedly anti-racist Rassinier, who understandably found the Stalinist discourse of l'Humanité disgusting, was not embarrassed in 1963-4 to write in a rag like Rivarol in which columns of the most indecent racism were spread out at length.
By forcibly incorporating the Sudeten Germans in 1918 into Czechoslovakia « whose culture and civilization were several centuries behind them, the Allies insulted them : a little like that insult which is offered today to those white Rhodesians who, under the cover of democracy and anti-racism, the universal conscience would like to place under the domination of negroes ». Rassinier, The Persons Responsible for the Second World War.
If it means to make Rassinier better known Vieille Taupe 2 should republish The Persons Responsible for the Second World War. In this book the Second World War becomes the work of a conspiracy of arms dealers, dominated by the Freemasons and Jews, supposedly influential even in the SFIO. It would be necessary to cite thirty long quotes in order to give the full extent of the abjectly anti-Semitic character of this work. The Allies blame everything on Hitler. Rassinier begins by sharing out the responsibility before making it weigh especially heavily on the Allies. From our point of view it is just as absurd to say that Hitler wanted war (the point of view of the Nuremburg trials) as that he didn't want war (the point of view of Rassinier). For revolutionary theory, the outbreak of a modern war has little to do with the will, good or bad, of statesmen.
« The Jews » enable Rassinier to turn to his own account a well known view of the world : that old tradition, entirely foreign to revolutionary critique, which explains world politics through the schemes of an international network of financiers and arms dealers which pulls all the strings. Rassinier joined those who identified this network with the trans-national Jewish « community », opposing « international capitalism » to national industry and labour. Admittedly, one can separate an authors opinions from his work, but when it is a question of anti-Semitic indulgence or prejudice in the work of someone who studies the Jewish question and the concentration camps, which rather a lot of Jews entered, one may fear that the author is no more objective than advocates of the official version of history.
Why does Vieille Taupe 2 present a distorted image of Rassinier ? Why do his ideas need to be accompanied by the image of an anti-racist man of the left ? The original Vieille Taupe had indicated the fundamental aspects of Bordiga without denying his Leninism, or hiding the fact that he had always approved of the repression at Kronstadt, for example. We did not need to tidy up his biography. The strength of the communist ideas he held was enough to separate the valid positions from the erroneous opinions in his work. If Vieille Taupe 2 dresses Rassinier up in the mask of an anti-racist and internationalist, this is because all of its activity has as its objective to influence the media. Its goal is that Rassinier and Faurisson are acknowledged and accepted in the forum of ideas. It is therefore necessary to make Rassinier presentable; so his biography will be given a face-lift. This is an enormous regression compared to what the Situationist International or the original Vieille Taupe had said : when they spoke of subversive elements in certain « unused books », they gave them a universal range by setting them within a critical theory. There is nothing like this in the activity of Vieille Taupe 2, which merely publishes Rassinier and Faurisson. It thus becomes necessary for it to exaggerate the subversive, and even the merely acceptable, where there is none.
At the end of 1978 when the Faurisson affair erupted, the question of the concentration camps had been discussed amongst us for several years. In 1977 a draft text had been given to la Guerre Sociale by Gilles Dauvé. Modified with the direct or indirect collaboration of quite a lot of people, and thus of Pierre Guillaume, it appeared in 1979 in the third issue of la Guerre Sociale. The way in which we had intended to speak of Faurisson became instead the desire to do something for him : he had been attacked because of his heretical ideas on the Nazi camps and after having been denounced by Libération; as for Faurisson himself, he set his misadventures within a much larger context, against all official propaganda, by stating that the campaign against Baader had disgusted him. Serge Quadruppani addressed a letter (unpublished) to Libération. Pierre Guillaume wrote the letter which Libération published on January 22nd 1979, which we spoke of above. (quoted in Thion, Historical Truth and Political Truth, pp 128-130). This letter, written to protest against the assimilation of Rassinier with Darquier de Pellepoix, gave just as false a picture of Rassinier as the one it claimed to criticise.
Without even talking about its very questionable content, it was a serious mistake to enter, even slightly, what was and always would be a journalistic and political scandal, and nothing more. We did not have to enter the arena of public opinion. Expressing the interests of a movement in its entirety, in the form of a manifesto for example, is neither to remain in an ivory tower, nor to project oneself into a cause while forgetting everything else. But the signatures added to this letter only encouraged some of the more clear sighted, those for example who identified with the Guerre Sociale article on the camps, to look at things from an angle of attack which no longer had anything to do with revolutionary theory, and either to become more interested in what interested Faurisson, like Pierre Guillaume, or to poorly distinguish between their ideas and those of Faurisson, like the « infantrymen » of la Guerre Sociale.
Meeting Faurisson should have opened our eyes to the difference in nature between his research and our activity. During 1979, dealing with Pierre Guillaume, we argued with him and we criticised him, but without ourselves understanding the roots of the affair, and thus without trying to make him understand : that revolutionaries cannot support Faurisson. That's not to say that we could have prevented him from reviving Vieille Taupe for such a waste of energy. But in any event our responsibility is great, because we were among those who knew Pierre best.
The idea that : « We who are revolutionaries in any case intend to support him (...) because Faurisson is being attacked for having sought for and spread the truth », presented in the Guerre Sociale leaflet Who is the Jew ?, was false when the leaflet was distributed (1979). At that time we neither understood this clearly, nor stated it clearly (the leaflet is quoted in Mise au Point, pp 98-99) Firstly, we don't have to support Faurisson because we have no more in common with him than with those who persecute him. The problem with Faurisson is obvious : society distinguishes between murder and involuntary death. It pursues the assassin and resigns itself to workplace and traffic accidents, the « natural » consequences of a way of life. But from the point of view of the human species, the important thing is to avoid massacres and suffering, whether it is a matter of murder or of the kind of violent death that is considered normal. The death of a child strangled by a « sadist » excites the imagination more than the death of thousands of others from hunger. The prosecutors at Nuremberg reduced the deaths in the concentration camps to the first example : they made them a crime. The lawyers for the accused at Nuremberg reduced them to the second example : they made them an accident. To try to prove that the Nazis killed without wanting to or without wanting to systematically, is to adopt the point of view of the defence lawyers at Nuremberg.
Analysing the 1939-45 war is not what interests Faurisson. His « passion for the truth » takes the gas chambers as its object. That's up to him. But this selflimitation leads to the same result as the antifascist campaign which presents the Nazis as monsters with sole responsibility for the war. For Faurisson explores a minor point, and trains the spotlight on this point, just like the other experts, thus obscuring what surrounds this point and might explain it. By helping to focus attention on the gas chambers, he dramatises them even more and reinforces the myth. A great obscurity continues to reign over the whole question of Nazism and 1939-45, which this focus helps to sustain. It is only by leaving aside the gas chambers that one might consider them seriously and hold the only discourse that is possible on this question :
« Faurisson is attacked and persecuted for having affirmed that the gas chambers are no more than a tall tale by prisoners. We are not experts and we don't want to become experts, therefore we won't enter into this discussion. But those who believe that by removing the gas chambers from Nazism, one might weaken the horror which it inspires, only reveal their grand-guignolesque view of what it is that makes human life truly horrible. They attach the horror to images instead of seeing it where it actually is : in the relations between men. In their conception, the fact that a crude tall story was imposed on millions of poor wretches would be less serious than the existence of a particular technique for extermination. Yet, if the gas chambers were nothing more than a sinister rumour among prisoners, it would be necessary to admit that in order for such an enormous tall story to be imposed with such force on so many people, these people must have been thrown into a radical dispossession of themselves. However, the fact that this dispossession indeed exists is a massive fact which no-one thinks of discussing.
« Whether or not the Nazi gas chambers had a concrete existence matters very little to us. They exist today, as at the very least they existed to the deportees, that is to say as an image derived from a horrible reality. It is not necessary to have anti-Semitic ulterior motives in order to discuss the possibility that this image did not correspond, or corresponded only partially, to reality. Our task is to subject to critique the part which this image plays in anti-fascist ideology, and critique that ideology itself. In doing this, when this discussion and these critiques will lead to us being characterised as Nazi's, we will have verified the totalitarian mentality of those who wish us ill. But what qualifies us in our own eyes to undertake this task of deconstructing an ideology, is precisely that we are not dispassionate fanatics for truth – assuming such a type really exists. We believe it's possible to speak because we recognise that the gas chambers have a basic level of existence : in the eyes of millions of deportees they embody the real horror of what they experienced. « The gas chambers, if they were not the means, would at least be the metaphor » (Y. Chotard).This appalling image which has come down to us hardly gives us any information about the real functioning of the camps. But it tells us very well the feelings which they inspired in men. »
That is all there is to say on the question of the gas chambers. As for the question of the camps, it is the analysis of 1939-45 which allows us to situate and understand them. It is certainly not the camps which enable us to understand Nazism. Just as in the same way it isn't the « Gulag » which explains the USSR, but the understanding of the history and nature of the USSR which explains the Gulag. The massacre of the Jews made it possible for democracy to save the costs of a critique of Nazism. Apart from the work of specialists there is no real attempt at understanding Nazism as a whole. The standard image of Nazism held by most people concentrates on the worst horrors, both real and imagined. This impression is formed according to a process which is simultaneously spontaneous and organised, popular and state-controlled. The article « The Horror is Human » in the first issue of La Banquise analyses the process of projecting the horror of the present onto the past.
Faurisson affirms that he is driven by a passion for the truth. But the truth is only true through a social relation, as when one speaks of a « true » behaviour, of an attitude that is appropriate to a situation, or of a reaction which moves things forward. Truth never lies in the raw fact, or in an inert thing or an isolated thought, it emerges from the process of setting into relation (mise en rapport). It is constructed by the gaze which falls upon it (see « Truth and Public Opinion » in this issue). The truth about the camps undoubtedly includes the intentions of those who ordered their construction, but it lies especially in the conditions which produced them and in their operation. The truth of the camps is not the dimensions of the buildings, the cost of the materials, the number of deportees, the proportion of Poles, etc., or more exactly these figures are only data which do not form the truth : they become it through what is bound to be an organisation of the facts. The controversy over the number of Jewish victims of Nazism distances us from the truth of the camps.
Whether Faurisson wants it or not, he also organises the facts according to his point of view. However, this point of view makes him absolutely indefensible. Faurisson searches for the authentic. An authentic document doesn't necessarily (and doesn't often) speak the truth, we only know whether or not it comes from the source from which it (or that one) says that it comes. Authenticity means to remain faithful to ones own code. An authentic being only exists in relation to norms, or to a restrictive code. Truth, a social relation, is potentially universal, and falls within the range of human activity. In this way the « truth is revolutionary ». The truth does not lie in the work of Faurisson.
« (...) the number of Jews exterminated by the Nazis (or victims of « genocide ») is happily equal to zero » Faurisson quoted in Thion. Faurisson's detractors treat him as Nazi or a madman. But quite simply, he plays with words. This denial of genocide only makes sense if one gives the word the significance which the most narrow-minded antifascism gives it. In this sense to say that the Nazis perpetrated genocide against the Jews would mean that for a long time they had wanted and planned the deaths of millions of Jews and that they then organised this by exceptional methods. This is the meaning which one finds in the Robert, a dictionary published after the Nuremberg trials : « Methodical destruction of an ethnic group ». Faurisson speaks the same false language as the « exterminationists ». He also makes massacre a question of intentions. He is on their terrain, and not on that of a revolutionary historical, or even of a merely serious, critique. Even liberal historians can see that the truth of the camps and the genocide does not lie in a history of intentions.
There was a massacre of a large number of Jews because they were Jews. And in our eyes, if words have meaning, there was genocide, whatever the exact number of deaths. In the same way France committed a massacre at Setif and in Constantinois in 1945 which killed between 4500 and 45000 Algerians. And there was a genocide of Red Indians.
We do not wish to discuss with people who deny massacres and racial persecution by twisting words, but rather with those who try to explain them, something which neither the revisionists nor the exterminationists do. Faurisson is neither usable nor supportable because he reinforces a confusion which revolutionary theory is precisely there to dispel.
In a text published by Libération on March 7th 1979, Pierre Guillaume wrote two sentences which could have summarised very well our position on the content of this affair : « The anti-Nazism without Nazi's which reigns over the world is an outlet for a confused society which cannot manage to face its own problems. One doesn't fight against the inexorable mechanisms of real oppression with stereotypical representations (images d'Épinal) ». If this text had contained only this, we would simply have observed that its publication in Libération went against our principles : that is to say we don't defend our basic positions in the newspapers. Unfortunately it contained something else. Shortly after the publication of this article Pierre Guillaume explained why he had considered it useful to send his prose to the central organ of neo-reformism.
After having explained the persecutions which had befallen Faurisson, Pierre Guillaume continued : « it became vital for the development of the situation to obtain support and thus to obtain the agreement of everyone over the same text, without concession or second thoughts. This text therefore had to include the famous sentence which seemed to render Faurisson indefensible : « Hitler never ordered the execution of a single Jew merely because he was Jewish » by showing that this sentence was strictly true, even if Hitler did not give a damn about what became of the Jews in practise »
This sentence indeed rendered Faurisson indefensible.
As to whether it's really true that on « the level of strictly scientific history » « Hitler never ordered the execution of a single Jew merely because he was Jewish », having examined Faurisson's scientific work more closely, we are no longer so sure. But even if it were true, this truth appears so severe, so restricted, that it is reduced to nothing. When Pierre Guillaume adds : « even if Hitler didn't give a damn about what happened to the Jews », he himself shows the inanity of this alleged truth.
A member of Herouth might say : « Begin never ordered or accepted that anyone was killed at Sabra and Chatila because of his Palestinian sympathies. » Faurisson would agree : where are the authentic documents proving the contrary ? The truth is that one is always responsible for one's allies, and that even if it did not want it, the Israeli army at least created the conditions favourable to this massacre (even without speaking of the fact that it allowed the murderers to continue). The Israeli board of inquiry itself recognised that the State had an « indirect » responsibility. One could multiply sentences of this kind : Guy Mollet [Socialist Prime Minister at the time of the struggle for independence in Algeria - translator] never ordered or accepted that anyone was killed or tortured merely because it was suspected that he belonged to the FLN. Stalin never ordered. . . It is strictly false to assert that Hitler didn't give a damn about [ie. was indifferent to – translator] the fate of the Jews. He wasn't organising their collective massacre from 1919 onwards, but he did plenty in order that rather a lot of them died, and it is not really to be the victim of antifascist propaganda to think that he did not mourn their fate. Is it necessary to find written orders by Guy Mollet himself in order to associate him with the Algerian torture ? Undoubtedly he did not give a damn what happened to the militants of the FLN who fell into the hands of the paratroopers during the battle of Algiers. In order to be anti-Stalinist is it necessary to find orders written by Stalin proving that he was directly implicated in the politics of his State ? In reality, revolutionary critique doesn't need the individual culpability of heads of State, and it is the same for their innocence. What determines our attitude towards them is not their good or bad will. What makes them enemies is the fact that they are heads of State. But Vieille Taupe 2 would seek to demonstrate that the Nazis, and particularly Hitler, were not « guilty » of everything attributed to them. To assert the opposite of the official version of something is not the same as to criticise it.
How does Faurisson claim to defend the indefensible ? Here are the explanations which he gives in Thion's book :
« Hitler never ordered nor admitted that anyone was to be killed because of his race or his religion »
« Explanation of this sentence : »
« Hitler and the Nazis said: "the Allies and the Jews want our annihilation, but it is they who will be annihilated." »
« Similarly, the Allies and the Jews said: "Hitler and the Nazis want our annihilation, but it is they who will be annihilated." »
« For one side as for the other, what mattered first was to win the war, at the same time against the military and against the civilians (men, women, the old, children all together). »
It is here that we disengaged from him. Hic Jacet Lepus. [Here is the crux of the problem].
Hitler and the Nazis on one side, the Allies and the Jews on the other : delimiting the sides involved in this way is historically false and it ought to be odious to anyone who isn't anti-Semitic; The Nazis – a political party in power within a State – and Hitler – the head of that party and of that State – form an easily defined whole. But, unless one thinks, like the pre-war anti-Semites, that the Jews manipulated the democratic regimes, it is false to present the Jews as a belligerent entity. Faurisson clarifies in a footnote : « On September 5th 1939, Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, declared war on Germany. » Apart from the fact that on the historical level this is a fiction, we would point out that Weizmann was not at all, like Hitler or Roosevelt, a Head of State capable of mobilising armies and citizens. Faurisson continues : « For Hitler, the Jews were representatives of a hostile, belligerent nation. » It must be noted that on this point Faurisson shares Hitler's point of view.
In its special issue devoted to the Jews on the 17th February 1939, Je Suis Partout, the organ of French fascists and anti-Semites, wrote :
« The Jews – we believe we have demonstrated it sufficiently – constitute despite their dispersion a perfectly homogenous nation, more coherent from the racial point of view than all other human groupings. For this reason they are subject to the great laws which govern the relations between the different human communities of the world. However the life of a nation is made up of the alternatives between peace and war. (...) » « The French people are at peace with Germany. The Jewish people are at war with Germany. »
« It does not matter who started it. Let's note that the Jewish nation has a PERSONAL disagreement to settle with the Reich and that it endeavours to settle it victoriously by mobilising under its standards the greatest possible number of allies. »
Making racial criteria the sign of membership of a nation which one is fighting, is a racist politics. To consider that this nation defined by racist politics really exists, is to adopt a racist point of view. Reducing the deaths of Jews during the Second World War to a banal act of war, is to conceal racism as a fundamental component of Nazi ideology and politics.
Certainly, « one doesn't fight against the inexorable mechanisms of real oppression with stereotypical representations ». But what are Faurisson and Vieille Taupe 2 doing ? To the dominant stereotypical image, outlined at Nuremberg and coloured by the projection of modern horror, they oppose another stereotypical image : that of a war between the Jews and the Nazis. This conception, which they share with the anti-Semitic right, is no more false than that which turns an imperialist war into a crusade against Absolute Evil. But it is no less false. Those who see in the birth of the « myth » of genocide the work of a Jewish conspiracy think according to the same pattern as those who see behind Faurisson's work the hand of a neo-Nazi international. Both of them have a policeman's conception of history. Pierre Guillaume's intentions are of little importance. It must be noted that far from making it possible for our basic positions to be expressed by drawing on the work of Faurisson, his activity only resulted in giving ultra-left support to this Lyonnais crackpot.
At the beginning of 1980, having decided to put things in writing, J-P Carasso, G Dauvé, C Martineau and S Quadruppani each wrote to Pierre Guillaume expressing their profound disagreement with him. A belated attempt to straighten things up regarding Vieille Taupe 2, but at least, we dipped a toe into it. Faurisson, we wrote, only violated a taboo without taking it apart, and he remained on the terrain of myth. One doesn't refute religion, and one doesn't seek to « convince » its followers, rather one shows its function and its operation. In the same way one would not refute an advertisement, something which is neither true nor false : its intention is not to demonstrate, but to associate, in the same way that a myth does, and is both elaborate and vivid in its variants. Thus it is absurd, if one wishes to deconstruct, to seek to prove that the myth lies. « Working-class people (…) are drawing upon beliefs which, though rarely considered, are still in most cases firmly there. These beliefs, some of the basic Christian doctrines, they hold but do not examine. Nor do they often think that they have much relevance to the day-to-day business of living » (Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy, Penguin, 1958, pp. 115-16). This truth obviously applies to all classes. The same person who shows immense common sense in his own life, will everyday swallow without discussion the worst improbabilities about Jesus, or Stalin, or the gas chambers, etc.
Pierre Guillaume's response, a few months later, can be summarised as : I'm sticking to my guns. Since then he has always pursued this course. Roughly speaking, everyone more or less believes in the gas chambers. But doubt about them is not some miraculous lever that might enable one to raise the world or its ideology. It may be that doubt about them is growing. So what ? To believe that one could intervene in order that the abandoning of this belief was not achieved smoothly, and that this might force people to reflect on the mechanisms of ideology, is a delusion close to delirium. Why would the gas chambers form the providential grain of sand, capable of jamming the mechanism of antifascist ideology ? There is no such grain of sand. To be convinced of this it is only necessary to see to what extent the Faurisson affair was specifically French. The principal function of horrific mythology is to blind people to the fundamental unity of the modern world. Concentrationist mythology derived from the Second World War is only part of this set of representations of barbarism, against which the only recourse is supposedly democracy. But concentrationist mythology and the imagery of the gas chambers are by no means the cornerstone of the dominant ideology. They play a role of unequal importance according to country. In the United States, an Arthur Butz, both « revisionist » and anti-Semitic, can teach in a small university, without his theories sparking off the journalistic and political hysteria of a « Faurisson affair ». In Britain, a former officer in the special services could organise a fake concentration camp in which people could pay to be treated badly, whereas in France such an enterprise would have been impossible, there would have been a mobilisation of organisations and the intervention of the law. As Pierre Guillaume had showed in his post-face to Kautsky's Three Sources of Marxism (Spartacus, 1969), there is no consciousness outside of a practise within which this consciousness has a function. The Leninist ambition to « make (people) become conscious » is ideological : it is only used to give the donor of consciousness power over those to whom he brings it. It wouldn't occur to us to appeal for communism through a leaflet. Even during a revolutionary period one would not « appeal », one would express what one was doing. Public opinion is the opposite of this : it develops a passionate interest in what it does not do, in what it cannot change.
When the revolutionary horizon appears to be blocked, revolutionaries readily cling to miraculous solutions. Vieille Taupe 2 believes in a certain number of « principles» that are supposed to be subversive : truth, honesty, scientific probity, the accuracy of information. It fights in the name of the ideal of the media as against their real use. It appeals to a moral code against the violation of that code. However experience teaches us that any morality is made to be transgressed, and that any code of ethics is fixed according to inevitable and foreseen lapses. In the fake Monde Diplomatique, we didn't reproach the press for playing its role badly. On the contrary we noted that it fulfilled it. The revolutionary movement does not appeal to an idea of justice against breaches of that idea. It demonstrates that the university, the school, the army, the law, the press, art, etc. etc., can only play the role of guarantors of social order. Vieille Taupe 2 went from this to demanding that the journalist produce the true duty of the journalist. There is no difference between this demand and democratic campaigns for « true » information, for a press that is « free from power and money », for « access to culture by all », etc. The important thing is not the fact that people believe or not in the existence of gas chambers, but the reasons why they value this belief so highly. It is not a matter of setting about the truth or falsity of this belief, but of the historic causes which make it a taboo.
The Faurisson affair had harmful effects within society as well as in the work of those who criticised it. At a time when the « Jewish community » was about to constitute just one more ghetto, one more « identity », at a time when the revolutionary movement had the task of affirming the human species against the crystallization of « communities » whether they be homosexual, Arab or Jewish. . . at this very moment the harmful influence of Faurisson exerted itself in the revolutionary ranks. Vieille Taupe 2 started looking for Jewish sounding names to sign its letters and petitions. However, to speak of « Jews » as a banal reality, whereas this is the first notion to be criticised, a notion whose questioning undermines anti-Semitism and Zionism at the same time, here was a practise which Faurisson helped reinforce among those who found him interesting. The conception of the Second World War as an « irreconcilable war between Hitler and the Jews » proceeds, following the example of Hitler or Begin, through the forced integration of everyone born to Jewish parents into the « Jewish » bloc, by commanding that person to conform, for good or bad fortune, to a community of « Jewish » destiny which falls into the category of myth. Speaking of « the Jews » is to justify the claims and practises of both the Third Reich and the State of Israel in imposing their law on any individual who cannot prove their non-membership of this « community ».
Just as much as the bombing in the rue Copernic or the shooting in the Rue des Rosiers, the Faurisson scandal achieved the opposite of what revolutionaries might wish for : it froze « persons born of Jewish parents » into a defensive hysteria. Amongst other things, it is because of Faurisson that today people still seek an identity according to criteria which resemble the racial laws of the Third Reich like two peas in a pod.
The spring of la Guerre Sociale
The Organisation of Young Revolutionary Workers (OJTR) had disappeared at about the same time as Mouvement Communiste. At the beginning of 1974 the OJTR organised a national meeting which was a failure. Fortunately this did not prevent it from publishing A World Without Money (3 booklets, 1975-6), in which for the first time, perhaps, and unlike utopian and anarchist writings, the concrete mechanism of a communist revolution was envisaged.
The author of this text, Dominique Blanc, then organised King Kong International (1976). Typical of the period, the editorial, a synthesis of essential communist positions, stood in sharp contrast to other minor articles, and to a text on LIP which produced no critique of this rescue operation of a company by its employees. It is never enough to indicate the profoundly proletarian causes of social acts, it is still necessary to speak of what effects they lead to. In the LIP affair, as in many other cases, capitalism succeeded in penetrating inside the workers' action and made it a capitalist enterprise (in both senses of the word) which also, by virtue of the national and international impact it experienced, had an anti-revolutionary function. [Note 1]
With the second issue the journal changed its name to la Guerre Sociale (Issue 1 1977). A text on the abolition of wage labour, distributed in large quantities on May 1st 1977, was rerun as an editorial. It coexisted with at least two deeply erroneous texts, one on automation and one on the refusal of work, which was one-sidedly interpreted as proof that Capital was at death's door. The clarification in issue 2 did not develop matters.
Among the past and present participants in la Guerre Sociale, some had taken part in Vieille Taupe and le Mouvement Communiste. In addition, Gilles Dauvé contributed to Guerre Sociale by giving the first versions, subsequently modified, of the texts on the State (published in issue 2) and on the camps (issue 3, 1979). Reading la Guerre Sociale and La Banquise will clearly show the connections and convergences between them. In addition to the matters we speak of below (and which are not trivial), La Banquise addresses two criticisms to Guerre Sociale : firstly, Guerre Sociale does not get to the bottom of the analysis of demand struggles; secondly, it has poorly broken away from propaganda. If Guerre Social is tempted by triumphalism (the articles already mentioned in Issue 1, the articles on Denain-Longwy on Issue 2), this is probably more than a sign of excessive optimism. The critique of the workers' movement, including wildcat movements, has not been carried to its conclusion. Guerre Sociale wrote in its fourth issue (1982) :
« It seems to us that, regardless of the forms of organisation, whether trade unionist or autonomous, the proletariat also expresses itself in its elementary struggle of resistance to exploitation. Even if in this way, it does not appear Note 1 See the issue of Négation devoted to LIP. revolutionary. »
This is a theory that is, at the very least questionable, and requires discussion. (See our positions on the definition of the proletariat). Elementary resistance is a condition of the communist movement, but it is only a condition. We don't applaud all workers' struggle (which can be or become anti-proletarian), nor even all class struggle (which can be reformist or even end up by imprisoning proletarians still further within capitalism).
One cannot make a dead end of this issue. No regroupment will be made solely on the basis of an understanding of communism and the revolution. Still it is necessary to agree about what there is between now and a revolution; about what the proletariat does and does not do.
In its first issues Guerre Sociale preferred to publish minor texts at the expense of others that were more fundamental (on the Situationist International for example), which were reserved for a more limited distribution. Guerre Sociale often lagged behind A World Without Money. The text on the crisis (issue 3) left to one side the main elements of a previous duplicated analysis by Dominique Blanc on the subject. Guerre Sociale produced too much simplification, and too much propaganda. « It was a conference, that is to say of education and popularisation. I would have liked that this conference while teaching me something, would also have taught you something. This criteria of discovery is the only one which appears valid to me when I write. » (letter of Antonin Artaud to André Rolland de Renéville, 11th January 1933).
At the end of 1979, after issue 3, Dominique Blanc sent a circular letter to the members of the group and to a series of people who had collaborated with him in the past, as well as those he knew among the editors of the fake Monde Diplomatique. Guerre Sociale, he said, was undergoing the consequences of the general passivity. It was in crisis and he wondered whether it was necessary to give it up or continue it. A correspondence followed. The future editors of La Banquise recognised the importance of the existence of a journal like la Guerre Sociale but addressed to it the criticisms summarised above.
In the spring of 1980, a meeting took place in Paris, the minutes of which were written shortly afterwards by the Lyons members of Guerre Sociale. No minute are impartial, and ours would have been different, but these are honest and we reproduce them in an annexe.
The meeting had proceeded in a general climate of goodwill, honest critique and a refusal of polemic. Those who today produce La Banquise had the feeling that we perhaps were entering a new period during which a revolutionary regroupment was going to take place. In the following weeks texts were written and dispatched to all the participants :
a text by Gilles Dauvé on the concentration camps and their myth (subsequently published in two issues of La Frondeur; some pages were incorporated in « The Horror is Human » in the first issue of La Banquise). This text lapsed too much into mass psychology but initiated a critique of Rassinier and Faurisson; another text by him on « Proletariat and Communism » taking up former manuscripts; a text by Jean-Pierre Carasso and Serge Quadruppani, which after modification became « For a World Without Moral Order » in the first issue of La Banquise; a text by Gilles Dauvé on war, part of which became « War and Fear » (Issue 1 of La Banquise, an extract of which would be published in Indolencia, in Barcelona, and would be presented in error as having emanated from Guerre Sociale).
Commitments seemed to have been honoured. But... Dominique Blanc firstly considered that « Proletariat and Communism » threw the proletariat out of the window, then some time after, declared that the text on morals was closer to the positions held by Bruckner (a modernist intellectual) than of Guerre Sociale, that this mush of « immoralist moralism was worth nothing and explained nothing » and he finished by characterising it as « Vaneigemist wanking » (in other words sub-Situationist). His criticisms were expressed with a less and less controlled aggression and left little room for argument. The text on morals did indeed contain some very erroneous passages which have since been corrected (amongst other things an uncritical presentation of the myth of the « recalcitrant », and even a half-identification of the recalcitrant with the revolutionary) but draft texts did not deserve such fury.
In addition, disagreements were further aggravated by the Faurisson affair. By mutual agreement between Pierre Guillaume and us it had not been discussed at the meeting, since we were still awaiting (March 1980) Pierre's answers to our criticisms. Shortly afterwards, since Pierre continued with fine energy along the path he had taken, we considered that it was impossible to conceal our disagreements with him any longer. Believing in preparing the future and not wasting it, we brought all of it to the attention of those who had taken part in the March meeting. Pierre reacted with a new letter which we also circulated. We wanted to lance the abscess. It was nearly impossible for us to believe that Vieille Taupe 2 would persist for long in its aberrations. We thought that on the whole the members of Guerre Sociale would agree with us on the content of our disagreement with Pierre, would make this known to him and that he would find himself up against the wall.
But Dominique Blanc, while holding Pierre to be wrong on the question of intervening in the media, concentrated all of his energy on criticising our attitude and declared that Pierre's was more « sympathetic » than ours. To our great astonishment, he hardly drew any conclusion about the content (should one support Faurisson ?) but declared Rassinier more subversive and Pierre more sympathetic than us.
He chose to take what, for us, was a call for an essential discussion and a warning, as an indictment, made against Pierre by people who were equally guilty of the things for which they reproached him (letters to the press, errors that were indeed open to criticism). Dominique Blanc had rightly reproached one of his comrades for having attempted to get the Nouvel Observateur to mention Guerre Sociale. Then what is to be said about a systematic publicity campaign for Faurisson ?
Imagine a group publishing an article against democracy, one of whose most eminent members, without whom the article could not have been produced, then stands as a candidate in an election ? This was the unacceptable confusion which Pierre created by taking part in a revolutionary grouping while conducting a campaign for the democratization of the media in favour of Faurisson. Here lay an ambiguity that needed be resolved. Dominique Blanc refused to do so. As a result the following autumn Guerre Sociale joined Vieille Taupe 2 in the confusionist activism in defence of Faurisson.
The critique of « human rights » today forms part of minimum revolutionary positions, for us, as without doubt for Guerre Sociale. How can a group then allow itself to be more and more openly drawn into a campaign for human rights ? And why exactly should the human in question be Faurisson ?
An agreement had been entered into in March. We had the impression that we had fulfilled it. We were alone in this view. Whatever the disagreements with Guerre Sociale, they did not justify an attitude which can be summarized as follows : Guerre Sociale deliberately chose not to associate with people which it characterised as sub-Situationist intellectuals or as drifting dangerously towards Camattism. The text on morals, amended, is in issue 1, the ideas on the proletariat are in issues 1 and 2. Everyone can judge for themselves the verdict passed on us by Dominique Blanc.
There undoubtedly exist between us important disagreements, as much over the conception of the proletariat as over the critique of moeurs. These disagreements would most probably have prevented a close collaboration, at any rate in the same journal. But there was an opportunity to discuss essential subjects and Dominique Blanc's attitude prevented that.
In the circular letter which put a full stop to our relations with Guerre Sociale and its network of correspondents we included these lines which summarize our feelings about this episode : « That the whims of an individual and the « obscure settling of emotional accounts » still have so such importance demonstrates the weakness of the revolutionary current. In the whole of this sad business this is what troubles us most. » As long as the revolutionary current is weak, confrontations of personality and character will retain their importance. Sometimes it is necessary to produce a little psychology in order not to have to do so later on. But in particular, it is necessary to find a mode of relations between individuals and groups which marginalises paralysing emotional behaviour. The gathering together of some individuals in La Banquise is not an end in itself. We are open to any relations with groups and individuals, but it is necessary that these relations are conducted on terms which show that from the start we have a minimum in common. There are rules of behaviour to be found between revolutionaries. After having characterised us as Vaneigemist wankers and declared us to be less subversive than Rassinier, Dominique Blanc appeared astonished that we thereafter refused any discussion with him. He has just written us a letter of abuse concerning the first issue of La Banquise. To this letter [Note 2] as to those which preceded it we will not be replying. Everyone knows those leftists who patiently draw themselves up to heap insults on their interlocutors before boldly returning to the argument. We don't practise this kind of angelism, not (or not only) out of self-esteem, but because one can only Note 2
Like the whole of the documents relative to the questions tackled by La Banquise, it goes without saying that this letter is at the disposal of anyone interested in it. discuss effectively with those people with whom one at least has a common language. To insults, we could only reply with insults, and we also do not want to sink into that sort of petty sub-Situationist game.
After the very friendly meeting in March 1980, with only one exception, the friends and members of Guerre Sociale to whom the texts and the copies of the correspondence with Pierre Guillaume and Dominique Blanc had been sent, expressed no reaction. Nothing. Why did they play the white zombies we know them not to be. In its exposition of what had occurred between issues 3 and 4 Guerre Sociale makes the following allusion to this wasted spring : « Instead of growing in size, we managed to damage some of our relationships and even those with whom a more remote and more occasional collaboration might have been possible » (issue 4, 1982, p. 43). The reader of la Guerre Sociale would learn no more.
La Banquise, like any consistent revolutionary journal, works for its own disappearance. Our activity only makes sense in terms of a movement which one day will encompass all of the energies expressed here or there in the form of groups or journals. We have nothing to do with the great family of the ultra-left. On the other hand, we know that a sudden appearance by the proletariat will soon settle the differences which separate us from the other segments of the revolutionary movement. While waiting, we will continue to seek among ourselves, and with those we meet, a coherence that is never given from the start, but can only be reached by clarifying points of disagreement as far as is possible, and working though them. The original Vieille Taupe, le Mouvement Communiste, Guerre Sociale and those who today produce La Banquise have all made errors. The most serious of them would be to leave these errors in the dark.
So, back in the 60s... In 1965 Dauvé originally joins J-F Lyotard's Pouvoir Ouvrier (Workers Power - the Lyotard split from Socialisme ou Barbarie, b. 1963 - d. 1969). In the same year the bookshop/publisher la Veille Taupe (Old Mole) is set up by ex-SouBer Pierre Guillaume and Jacques Baynac. la Veille Taupe is expelled from PO in 1967, but Dauvé later hooks up with them in the aftermath of May '68 (where a number of them are involved in the action committee in university of Paris-III aka Censier). The politics of the group are increasingly influenced by Bordgism and Cammatte. Meanwhile, in the aftermath of 1968, Pierre Guillaume also discovers Paul Rassinier's "Lie of Ulysses" and thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. Baynac falls out with Guillaume in 1969 and buggers off, calling on the rest of the collective to do likewise. Dauvé and François Cerutti (aka François Martin, co-writer of Eclipse...) stick around and Rassinier's books are sold by the bookshop from 1970 onwards. Eventually the bookshop closes in 1972 and Dauvé and Cerutti go on to found the magazine le Mouvement Communiste, etc.
In 1978 Pierre Guillaume opens another bookshop/publishing house under the la Veille Taupe name, which becomes a central holocaust denial publisher, in league with Robert Faurisson etc. as the story is known (including that infamous Chomsky "introduction" scam). In 1980 the Mouvement Communiste group apparently splits over the question of whether to support Faurisson or not. Dauvé is on the "not" side and hooks up with Serge Quaddrupani to form la Banquise (and later le Brise-glace).
During the 1980s Jacques Baynac and a number of other old ultraleftists attack Guillaume and the revisionnist milieu through various publications and media articles.
Time ticks along until 1995 when Dauvé, a professional writer and translator, submits a fiction novel to a publisher that Quaddrupani has put him onto. Said publisher actually has Baynac on board who remembers Dauvé from the 70s and goes, "hang on, he's a bleeding revisionist". Meanwhile in the 1990s the rumbling spat over Guillaume, la Veille Taupe and revisionism is seized on by a certain Didier Daeninckx who likes a good witch hunt and is used by him for another round of the old extreme left = extreme right gag. In response, the anti-fascist magazine collective Reflex (who have contact with Quaddrupani, through the latter's work for No Pasaran) decide to put out a compendium of articles by old and ex-ultraleftists making a stand against revisionism and also defending the ultraleft against the Daeninckx calumny. The book is "Libertaires et "Ultra Gauche" contre le négationnisme." in which Dauvé's contribution is "Bilan et contre bilan", at the John Grey site here. However that later version is edited in one detail. The original version, (still available here [edit: link broken]) says:
Quote: Auschwitz ou le grand alibi n'est pas un texte complaisant envers le nazisme, c'est seulement un texte borné. Au lecteur de ne pas prendre la partie pour le tout, ni d'oublier qu'il a sous les yeux une polémique contre la vision idéaliste réduisant le racisme à une idéologie pernicieuse réfutable par une propagande humaniste: Programme Communiste tord le bâton dans l'autre sens, vers un économisme réducteur. Une lecture parallèle d'Auschwitz ou le grand alibi et des publications du MRAP en 1960 grossirait d'ailleurs les dossiers des releveurs de perles, tant les textes du MRAP regorgeaient d'omissions et réductions, par exemple sur l'antisémitisme d'Etat... en URSS. [*NOTE* La première phrase de ma préface à Bilan 1936-1939 paru en 1979 chez 10x18 contient une énorme perle de cet acabit. Détachée du contexte, elle prête à confusion. J'y dis que "les horreurs nazies ne sont pas les pires" alors que jamais la barbarie capitaliste n'a atteint de tels sommets.] [hack trans] Auschwitz or the great alibi is not a text obliging to Nazism, it is only a limited [blinkered] text. It is for the reader not to take the part for the whole, nor to forget that he has before him a polemic against the idealistic vision reducing racism to a pernicious ideology rebuttable by a humanist propaganda: Program Communist bends the stick in the other direction, toward a reductive economism. A side-by-side reading of Auschwitz or the great alibi and publications of MRAP in 1960 also would swell the records of the hunters of pearls, as the texts of MRAP were full of omissions and discounts, for example on the state anti-Semitism. .. in the USSR. [* NOTE * The first sentence in my preface to Bilan 1936-1939 appeared in 1979 with 10x18 contains a huge pearl of this ilk. Detached from the context, it is confusing. I say "the horrors of Nazism are not the worst" whilst in fact never [before] has capitalist barbarism reached such heights.]
This [*NOTE ...*] is removed from the John Grey version.
So, even Dauvé himself has admitted that there was something pretty damn problematic in his opening statement to the Bilan intro and the (later edited) note.
My position on the line taken in Fascism/Anti-fascism is that it is "revisionist" in the sense that it denies any specificity to genocide and reduces the event to a mere body-count. This is actually a favourite tactic of those on the Right, particularly in Germany, who wish to relativise away the "problem" of the Holocaust, by reducing it to a body count. By reducing the Holocaust to a body count, right-wing revisionnists can then compare the figure to those who died in the famines caused by Stalin and Mao and say that, numerically speaking, National Socialism is a lesser evil than Communism (as they designate it). That is what I mean by revisionist.
I will deal with point 3 of Alf's challenge above, next - relating as it does to the critique of Bordiga's "Auschwitz the great alibi". But in a while, as I have IRL commitments to attend to. I trust no-one's in a rush, as this isn't a real-time issue particularly.
edit: removed the link to the scanned version of the Reflexes text (http://www.vho. [link broken] org/aaargh/fran/arvs/bavarde/GDbilan.html) as on further inspection it appears this is actually a revisionist site. This version does differ from the John Grey version in other sections as well, but without putting my hands on a printed copy of the original Reflexes version, it is not possible to say further.