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Response to Bill Brown's Open Letter

by Stewart Home


Having had his attempt to smear me as an anti-Semite rebuffed by, amongst others, subscribers to the Virginia Avant-Garde List whose families are what Bill Brown himself describes as "polish jews", it seems that the Not Bored! editor wants to wriggle out of the corner he's boxed himself into. One of Brown's tactics for doing this appears to be the circulation of a text entitled Manufacturing Dissent, in which he calls on himself to denounce me for involving him in a publicity scam that entailed a faked public feud between us. While it cannot be proved that Brown is the author of this tract, internal and circumstantial evidence point to Not Bored! as the source of the screed. Much of the text is plagiarised from Florian Cramer's e-mail missives to various parties, all of which were sent to Brown by their author after Not Bored! e-mailed him their Open Letter To Stewart Home. Other material quoted in the text is available on the Virginia Avant-Garde List or from its subscribers, and since Brown posted his Open Letter on this site, it is not unreasonable to conclude that he is aware of the deeply hostile responses it elicited after being placed there.

Rather than being lifted from a text entitled Quantity As Quality: A Challenge To Bill Brown, Larry O'Hara and Michel Prigent, my rebuttal of Brown's smear that I am anti-Semitic as cited in Manufacturing Dissent, actually comes from a private communication to a Virginia Avant-Garde List subscriber: "All I'm saying is that Greil Marcus is a prick, what's so shocking about calling a rock journalist a wanker? The charge of "anti-Semitism" is all a projection on Not Bored!'s part, it certainly isn't there in my introduction to the Polish edition of Assault. Strange though that Brown should wait until three years after the text appeared to attack it. Brown is desperate to prove his pro-situ credentials. Unfortunately his attempts are always so inept that he ends up coming across as thick. In Not Bored! 19 (June 1991), there was a piece entitled Ken Knabb R.I.P.: "Its always a drag when someone reverses things and has the practice prove the theory right (instead of having the theory prove the practice right), but especially where the situationists are concerned. Like they really need to have their theory of the spectacle proved right, again? and at this stage of things?" It's clearly pointless to argue with someone whose understanding is so deformed by idealism that they don't even know which side they're supposed to be fighting on. Naturally, Brown was still vain enough to cut from this a whole paragraph fleshing out the old cliché that when you're the fastest gun in town, every worthless punk wants to shoot you down...

In the introduction to the Polish edition of The Assault On Culture, I attack as worthless the methodology used by Greil Marcus in Lipstick Traces and demonstrate the absurdity of his rhetorical technique of free association by using it to come up with a number of ludicrous results. In his Open Letter, Brown disingenuously pretends that I want people to believe the worthless crap that is thrown up when this technique is taken to its logical conclusion. The key point to be made, and it isn't made in Manufacturing Dissent, is that if you accept the methodology used in Lipstick Traces, then as a logical consequence you can conclude that the situationists were anti-Semitic. Clearly, given Michèle Bernstein's key role in the production of the SI's ideology, it is ridiculous to make claims of this type. Brown wants people to think that I believe the SI was anti-Semitic because it plagiarised a few slogans from medieval Christian heretics, some of whom were anti-Semitic, despite the fact that none of the schismatics' genocidal outpourings were appropriated by the situationists. In the course of his "argument", Brown studiously ignores my key point, which is that the technique of free association used by Greil Marcus is worthless precisely because it leads to conclusions of the type he falsely attributes to me.

It seems that Brown is feeling very embarrassed now that it has been pointed out to him that the trivial accusations of anti-Semitism made in his Open Letter To Stewart Home, "help create a climate in which bigotry is able to thrive" by conflating pointless sectarian denunciations with the practical necessity of challenging real instances of racism. It appears that as a direct result, Brown has anonymously issued Manufacturing Dissent so that he can deflect criticism of his stupid behaviour. He could retire with far greater dignity if he simply apologised to me and withdrew his absurd allegations.

Stewart Home, BM Senior, London WC1N 3XX, UK. 9 July 1996.

Previously unpublished, Brown apparently lacked the guts to reply to the copy he was sent. Now included in Disputations On Art, Anarchy & Assholism just published by Sabotage Editions.


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