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Victor Serge

butchersapron

blood on the walls
Haberkern’s article seemed to me to attempting to do two other directly related things. Firstly point out where Serges embrace of Bolshevism was wrong - that it was based on lack of knowledge and experience, and was primarily derived from the war communism of the years 1918-21 rather than the claimed earlier more 'democratic' years.

And secondly, to make the point that this was a direct result of Serge's anarchism (and by extension all anarchism)- and that consequently Serge (and all other anarchists) never manged to grasp what was happening and why the revolution degenerated.

Now, i do have a measure of sympathy for the first point - Serge undoubtdly was fascinated by 'men of action' and did tend to drop his critical intelligence when around them - actually it wouild probably be more accurate to say that he used that critical intelligence to justify their actions.

But he was the son of Social Revolutionaries expelled from Russia, he grew up surrounded by Russian exiles and his whole life was spent amongst political radicals. I really don't think it's possible that he had no idea who the bolsheviks were, what they stood for or what they promoted pre-1917. That's just too handy a claim for Haberkern's argument.

The second though is really just nonsense. Haberkern tries to pass off the uninfluential and tiny individualist French anarchist movement off as anarchism full stop. He correctly characterises that current as full of contempt for the w/c, for 'prolos' and for collective action, but he then, rather disgracefully, extends those same feelings from this tiny minority onto anarchism as a whole, and beats the wider movement with their crimes and mistakes.

I think what Haberkern does manage to do - rather inadvertently - in his stressing the continuities in Serge's political thought, is highlight the similiarites between individualist anarchism and jacobinism/authoritarian Communism. The distrust/dislike of the w/c and it's capabilities, the role of the strong leader/vanguard to keep the revolution on track (brain and memory of the class) etc.

The exchange continued later on here and here

There is still no English edition of Serges early individualist writings as far as i know.
There is now. Anarchists Never Surrender: Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence on Anarchism, 1908–1938

( i do have a epub but not sharing Pm press stuff i'm afraid)
 

UK subversive

New Member
or perhaps Serge realised that Anarchism couldn't really offer anything in the new circumstances developing in Russia, ie had no chance of success?

I think that Anarchism is the UK now increasingly seems very empty especially as things are now getting bad. ie there are no real solutions to anything, no real political line, program, nothing. just cliches and slogans.
 

Pickman's model

every man and every woman is a star
or perhaps Serge realised that Anarchism couldn't really offer anything in the new circumstances developing in Russia, ie had no chance of success?

I think that Anarchism is the UK now increasingly seems very empty especially as things are now getting bad. ie there are no real solutions to anything, no real political line, program, nothing. just cliches and slogans.
Care to expand? or are you another of the SWP muppets who turn up here occasionally?
 

butchersapron

blood on the walls
Serge's notebooks covering 1936-47 were discovered in Mexico in 2011. They were recently published in English. There is an interesting thoughtful overview of them here:

A Hard Case: Victor Serge’s Notebooks: 1936-1947

Teeming with vivid characters, full of richly observed locations, detailed memories and the author’s continual grappling with political events, Notebooks is the equal of Serge’s novels, although structurally, at nearly six hundred pages with another fifty providing brief identifications, it might be considered as two novellas (one set in Paris during the Spanish Civil War and the Moscow Trials, the other on the boat steaming towards America), a novel (Serge in Mexico) and an epilogue (Serge in the cold dawn of the Cold War).

Notebooks’s earliest entries, dating from late 1936 through the summer of 1940, sketch an oblique political thriller that might be the outline for a Patrick Modiano novel—populated by weary double agents and full of unsolvable dead-end mysteries and inexplicable back-alley intrigue under a gray Paris sky. Serge describes a series of clandestine meetings. One is with the then-eminent André Gide, newly returned from and now secretly critical of the Soviet Union. “Try not to be followed,” his contact advises him. Gide favorably impresses Serge, who writes that as they parted that “his voice took on a something of the accent of a lower-class, slack-jawed Montmartre gangster, revealing the man who knows the dirty corners of Paris and the underside of life.”

Others are that underside. As hyper-alert as a hunted animal, Serge is suspicious of Walter Krivitsky, the recently defected head of Soviet intelligence in Western Europe, eventually to be assassinated in Washington D.C.: “when he put his hand in his pocket to take out a cigarette I watched him closely.” Others are pitiful. Serge finds Trotsky’s former translator Maurice Parijanine holed up in a shabby hotel in an outlying district where the wallpaper is “the color of poverty.”
 

Nigel

For A Degenerates' Workers State
Haberkern’s article seemed to me to attempting to do two other directly related things. Firstly point out where Serges embrace of Bolshevism was wrong - that it was based on lack of knowledge and experience, and was primarily derived from the war communism of the years 1918-21 rather than the claimed earlier more 'democratic' years.

And secondly, to make the point that this was a direct result of Serge's anarchism (and by extension all anarchism)- and that consequently Serge (and all other anarchists) never manged to grasp what was happening and why the revolution degenerated.

Now, i do have a measure of sympathy for the first point - Serge undoubtdly was fascinated by 'men of action' and did tend to drop his critical intelligence when around them - actually it wouild probably be more accurate to say that he used that critical intelligence to justify their actions.

But he was the son of Social Revolutionaries expelled from Russia, he grew up surrounded by Russian exiles and his whole life was spent amongst political radicals. I really don't think it's possible that he had no idea who the bolsheviks were, what they stood for or what they promoted pre-1917. That's just too handy a claim for Haberkern's argument.

The second though is really just nonsense. Haberkern tries to pass off the uninfluential and tiny individualist French anarchist movement off as anarchism full stop. He correctly characterises that current as full of contempt for the w/c, for 'prolos' and for collective action, but he then, rather disgracefully, extends those same feelings from this tiny minority onto anarchism as a whole, and beats the wider movement with their crimes and mistakes.

I think what Haberkern does manage to do - rather inadvertently - in his stressing the continuities in Serge's political thought, is highlight the similiarites between individualist anarchism and jacobinism/authoritarian Communism. The distrust/dislike of the w/c and it's capabilities, the role of the strong leader/vanguard to keep the revolution on track (brain and memory of the class) etc.

The exchange continued later on here and here

There is still no English edition of Serges early individualist writings as far as i know.
Wasn't there some in book about Bonnot Gang?
Gave away what books I had on Serge a while ago; there was one that I bought at Freedom after Arson attack that had something in it.

BONNOT GANG !
(Not The Book I Had)
 

Lurdan

old wave
S
Wasn't there some in book about Bonnot Gang?
Gave away what books I had on Serge a while ago; there was one that I bought at Freedom after Arson attack that had something in it.

BONNOT GANG !
(Not The Book I Had)
Since the (15 year old :)) post you're quoting, an interesting collection of his anarchist writings has been published by PM

Anarchists Never Surrender: Essays, Polemics, and Correspondence on Anarchism, 1908–1938

There's currently a $1.99 ebook sale on at PM's website until the end of the month (apply the coupon code 'READ' at checkout).
Alternatively it can be found at libgen for a full five finger discount.
 
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