L'associazione Utopia Rossa lavora e lotta per l'unità dei movimenti rivoluzionari di tutto il mondo in una nuova internazionale: la Quinta. Al suo interno convivono felicemente - con un progetto internazionalista e princìpi di etica politica - persone di provenienza marxista e libertaria, anarcocomunista, situazionista, femminista, trotskista, guevarista, leninista, credente e atea, oltre a liberi pensatori. Non succedeva dai tempi della Prima internazionale.

lunedì 11 marzo 2013

VICTOR SERGE'S RED UTOPIA, by Roberto Massari

Not even Trotsky, the leading theoretician of the criticism of Stalinism – in The betrayed revolution or in his last writings collected In defense of Marxism – had dared so much or even thought of taking such a step.  Till the very end, Trotsky kept hoping that the regime´s revolutionary origins would eventually somehow manifest themselves in some areas of social life (and consequently in a given sector of the apparatus), or that the working class movement would recover its own traditions, under the impact of contingencies, first and foremost the inevitable war, an event the Old Man (as he is always fraternally called in the Memoirs) could not grasp in all its implications.






Problème essentiel: il faut prendre parti, il y a toujours une vérité à chercher, à trouver, à défendre, une vérité qui oblige, impérative. Ni action ni pensée valable sans intransigeance. L’intransigeance c’est la fermeté, c’est l’être. Comment la concilier avec le respect de l’être différent, de la pensée différente [...]. J’aperçois une solution. L’intransigeance combative, contrôlée par une rigueur aussi objective que possible et par une règle absolue de respect d’autrui - de respect de l‘ennemi même...
(V. Serge, Carnets, October 24, 1944)*

There is an anarchist Victor Serge who, having survived prison and internment, joins the Russian revolutionary movement in 1919, becoming the “Bolshevik” Serge who in the summer of 1920 writes a scarcely libertarian panegyric of the ongoing process: 
“Whoever says revolution says violence. All violence is dictatorial. All violence imposes the sort of will which shatters resistance… I admit not being able to conceive the possibility of being a revolutionary (unless it is in a purely individualistic manner) and not acknowledging the necessity of the proletarian dictatorship… even at the risk of dying, of immediately losing their lives in the hands of a triumphant reactionary dictatorship, it shall be necessary that revolutionaries establish very soon their own dictatorship.”1
And there is a Victor Serge – an exceptional fugitive from the extermination of Old Guard Bolsheviks, after three years of Siberian confinement (Orenburg in the Urals), exiled in Mexico and already seduced by the idea of an indispensable revolutionary synthesis of the libertarian and the Marxist thought – who writes in the summer of 1947, just a few months away from death. 
“Totalitarianism, just as it has been established in the Ussr, in the Third Reich and feebly formulated in Fascist Italy and elsewhere, is a regime characterized by the despotic exploitation of work, by the collectivization of production, the terrorist monopoly of the bureaucracy and the police, the subjugation of thought, the myth of the symbolic leader…In  this sense, proletarian revolution is not anymore, for me, our goal; the revolution we intend to serve cannot be any other thing than socialist, in the humanist sense of the term and, more exactly, socializing, achieved in a democratic, libertarian way.”2 
In between we find the big events of the XX Century (the stormy postwar, the Russian revolution, the rising of Stalinism, the insurrectional attempts in various countries, the division of the world into two blocks, the historical defeat of the organized workers’ movement) lived first-hand by a great Belgian-Russian writer naturalized as… cosmopolitan.

1. A primary and thrilling aspect of the book is given through the fact that the Author is addressing us, mankind and History (with capital letters) from the inside of those big events – or from above their ruins, as one could say, while the narration unravels itself. The great tragedies of the XX Century are “told” by a direct interpreter, a participating actor, a critical spirit, polyglot, libertarian Marxist, untamable and incorruptible, a humanitarian revolutionary who has turned the quest for freedom into a raison d´etre, more than just a question of social conflict or political reflection, that is, a life lived in a lucid revolutionary manner.
As he gets in touch with the story, the reader, even one who may not be familiar with these topics, will become conscious of the fact that the strongest (the most decisive) of those events – most stimulating in its origins and disastrous in its precocious and tragic epilogue – was the Russian revolution: from the fall of the Tsarist empire to the popular revolution of February 1917, from the workers´ conquest of power to the victory of the single party bureaucratic dictatorship: up to the establishment of  the autocratic despotism of an all-powerful Leader – who, to make things worse, was a psychopath - going through the extermination of the internal old guard of the soviets movement (anarchists, social-revolutionaries, leftist Mensheviks, Bolsheviks, Workers’ opposition, freethinkers, etc.), the use of  forced or enslaved work3, the destruction of any possibility of dissent as well as of the main achievements of the working class, the annihilation of any form of  auto-organization in the countryside, the complete extermination of populations and ethnic groups,  the holocaust of around 15-20 million citizens, mostly Soviet, in the horrendous Gulag ramifications. A crime against the Russian people, against the international workers’ movement, against mankind and its most ancient laws and cultural achievements that could only be defined today as a systematic “crime against humanity”, yet to be surpassed a) in geographic extension, b) amount of victims and c) its duration in time.

2. There is a second, theoretical aspect. To define Stalinism, Serge elaborates the concept of totalitarianism, analyses its origins 4 and international diffusion, and goes as far as to consider it a real criminal enterprise (political as it may be) run by a caste alien to the working class movement. He does not use the definition of “crime against humanity” (a concept which will acquire a juridical nature only after Second World War, and only referred at the beginning to Nazi crimes); but beyond terminology, those of his writings devoted to the barbaric rule established upon the achievements of the October revolution - and these Memoirs contain a small, if crucial, part of them - show an unmistaken tone of denouncing.  Proud as he was for being the first to apply the definition “totalitarian” to the Soviet regime 5 (putting it at the same level of Nazism and the various Fascist experiences), he claimed that born though it was from the victory of the working class, the regimen did not have any social, political or ideological links anymore with that historic fact and much less with any socialist project, however degenerated. And this Serge did in the 30´, the only one among those intellectuals directly involved with the revolution. 
 “From all that we can deduce an undisputable conclusion, that is to say that the struggle between the opposition and bureaucracy is no longer between different trends inside the workers’ movement but a classist conflict. As to this point, it´s no use breeding any illusions: in order to take back the right to think and act, the Soviet working class will still have to fight as hard as it did against the previous regimen”  (Seize fusillés, September, 1936). 
Not even Trotsky, the leading theoretician of the criticism of Stalinism – in The betrayed revolution or in his last writings collected In defense of Marxism – had dared so much or even thought of taking such a step.  Till the very end, Trotsky kept hoping that the regime´s revolutionary origins would eventually somehow manifest themselves in some areas of social life (and consequently in a given sector of the apparatus), or that the working class movement would recover its own traditions, under the impact of contingencies, first and foremost the inevitable war, an event the Old Man (as he is always fraternally called in the Memoirs) could not grasp in all its implications.

Serge, on the contrary, managed to see further from the start of the war and described the social and psychological commotion of a crumbling world, together with the exodus of fugitives and “political activists”, like him, together with some outstanding names of the “alternative” culture of the moment (from Breton to Benjamin). And he fully understood the implications of the Stalin-Hitler pact, perceiving the alliance of the two main totalitarianisms as something natural though foreseeing – his prophecy being as ignored as Trotsky´s - that, sooner or later, Hitler would have turned arms against the Ussr
In the Memoirs, Serge shows the essential political and ideological similarities between those two regimes and condemns the infamous pact in terms of the “Ussr conformity with the unleashing of the war” (pg 295), while clearly affirming elsewhere6 something which not even today can be said too openly or written in history books (due to a tacit agreement between the victorious allies, sanctioned at the end of the war and still valid): that is to say, that the conflagration was made possible thanks precisely to the Stalin-Hitler alliance.  An enormous criminal responsibility for the two totalitarian regimes, which costed the Soviet people the highest price with the Nazi invasion (Operation Barbarossa, June 1941) for which they were politically and psychologically unprepared, causing the death of more than 20 million soldiers and civilians. That, in turn, provoked a consolidation of Stalinism as a result of a strong nationalistic sentiment and the macabre euphoria following the military victory upon the former ally. For a long time, such tragedies could not be officially mentioned but Serge was writing about them in his Memoirs in an epoch when the right to say such truths was dearly bought.   

3. Little is said in the Memoirs about Stalin, the man, and this happens late in the book because his presence during the ascendant period of the revolution was secondary and discreet, his role becoming significant only from the moment he assumed control of the Bolshevik party and the social and dictatorial apparatus (which was identified with the party). From that moment on, Serge tends to speak, above all, about Stalin´s regime leaving the individual aside. But this is not the case in other books of his, most significantly Portrait de Staline [A Stalin´s Portrait, published in Italian by us in 1991 and reedited several times].
The book appeared in 1940 and was not really welcome because, for the first time, the world was presented with a truthful biography of the dreadful Georgian - a head of state who all governments (Nazi, Fascist and “democrats” alike) wanted to have by their side - but also with an analytic sketch of his deepest psychological motivations. The resulting image perfectly matched the pathological frame of a paranoid individual, obsessed by an inferiority complex and sadistic impulses – notorious aspects of Stalin´s sick personality which have been long commonplace in books written about him. Nevertheless, to write about such things in 1940 and continue to spread them in successive years meant to risk life and become an easy target for the killers of the Gpu/Nkvd who had already eliminated many anti-Stalinist figures, sometimes for less important reasons. 
And, thus, the third motivation to passionately engage in the reading of the Memoirs is that Serge was putting his own life on the line, aware of the possibility of facing an end similar  to that of Nin, Reiss, Blumkin, Sedov, Trotsky and many others (to whom he pays in the book a moving tribute). There is a sense to it of humble heroism in isolation, “surrounded by somber threats” (a foreboding that appears on page 312), far from tribunes and medias, but also a passionate attachment to the principles of revolutionary humanism; conflicting moods conditioning the writing process, difficult to understand if one is not historically conscious of the anti-humanism of Stalinism – just as the Memoirs help us to be with many interesting details7.

4. The reference to media (then, printed paper and photography) takes us to a fourth aspect which should also motivate us to read and re-read these memoirs, in order to value their treasures: that is to say, the many pages devoted by Serge to the behavior of the literary intelligentsia - Russian, French, international - considering it one of the “great” issues of his time. And just how right he was…
Entering this enchanted world, made out of verses, novels, paintings and professional charmeurs, we see a parade of certain figures that were celebrities at the time or were to become so in the future, writers whom Serge draws painstakingly or just with a few strokes, evincing their outstanding traits, physical or psychological. Of those he was familiar with or was able to meet frequently, he tells some episodes that could be delightful for biographers. Sometimes it is about writers who are legendary and we feel spontaneously grateful for the chance Serge offers to share those unique moments. He has also left traces about many of them in the articles he wrote for the Clarté magazine, later gathered by his friend Henry Poulaille in the volume Littérature et Révolution, published in Paris in 1932.
We shall merely extract a few names from this sequence of literary and artistic celebrities, subdividing them into three categories: a) great Russian writers (with various political and ideological orientation), b) great non-Russian writers more or less involved in the spider web of Stalinism (whether or not they freed themselves from it), c) great non-Russian writers who shared with Serge important ideas, if not also political partnership or exile.
In the first category, we find among many others we could mention, N. Gumiliëv, A. Lunacharsky, V. Schklovsky, M. Gorky, A. Biely, A. Blok, V. Ivanov, K. Fedin, V. Mayakovsky, B. Pilniak, F. Sologub, E. Zamiatin, B. Pasternak, I. Ehrenburg along with other writers less known outside Russia, Futurist painters, historians and philosophers such as Ivanov-Razumnik or D. Riazanov, the well known founder of the Institute for Studies on Marx and Engels, with whom Serge collaborated intensely. Serge had already devoted a long text to the great symbolist poet S. Esenin (who killed himself in 1925) published elsewhere, in 1931. And certainly those pages dedicated to suicidal writers such as Mayakovsky, Esenin or Sobol are very touching, apart from masterful; and, more in general, there is also a long punctilious list of all those who committed suicide in order to protest against Stalin (A. Ioffe) or out of despair. Such pages serve as counterpoint to the no less dismal list of executions of intellectuals carried out by the regime: it contains most of the names of the above mentioned writers, along with others less known or their relatives, etc.
In the second category we remember only outstanding names - G. Lukács, A. Gramsci (with whom he made acquaintances in Wien), H. Barbusse, R. Rolland, A. Malraux, A. Gide – among many others who make their appearances or who played important roles in Serge´s judiciary misadventures: it is the preeminent case of the controversial Romain Rolland.
Some members of the Western intelligentsia are tenaciously denounced 8, as guilty of a timid silence in relation to the drama which was developing itself in the “Country of the big lie” (A. Ciliga) and who let themselves, more or less consciously, get entangled in the spirals of this dark “midnight of the century”. That pusillanimous intelligentsia who never really wanted to take sides in one direction or the other while being always open to games of power inspires Serge some of his most beautiful pages on ethics and politics, which partly coalesce with the polemics with Trotsky´s Their moral and ours9 (translated into French by Serge himself)
In the third category we can place certain figures representative of the most authentic and anti-conformist culture of the entre guerre period: J. Reed, E. Goldman, P. Istrati, M. Martinet, Saint-Exupéry, the historian M. Dommanget, the painter A. Masson, the playwright E. Toller, A. Breton – and the list would be even longer if the Memoirs did not stop at 1941.
5. We find, finally, historical references to thousands of political militants, famous leaders of the Second and Third International, to even the most obscure militants in Russia, France, Spain and elsewhere. This type of sequence is doubtless unique in the genre, because in a time span of 42 years, Serge (himself  a son of two political émigrés, one Narodnik father and an Spencerian mother) went through the whole spectrum of organizations that we could generically define as “revolutionary left”, acquiring an unparalleled experience and an extraordinary knowledge of that world. Such acquisitions would be translated into the literary tongue, from the adhesion of a fifteen year old Kibalcic to the Jeune garde socialiste d’Ixelles (1905) and the Parti ouvrier belge [POB, the Belgian socialist party] (1906), which he leaves that same year in order to found, together with anarchists and unionists, the GRB: Groupe révolutionnaire de Bruxelles. The anarchist option was enhanced through the collaboration with the Communiste, with La Guerre Sociale and with the Russian anarchist group in Brussels. The libertarian militia goes on in Paris, acquiring certain shades of individualistic anarchism, till he gets involved, much against his will, in the process to the “band Bonnot”
After 5 years of reclusion (in 1917), keeping his anarchist affiliation, he participates in the Barcelona insurrection, assuming the pseudonym “Serge”. In a concentration camp in France, he joins the Groupe révolutionnaire russe-juif (anarchistic in tendency but oriented towards bolshevism). In Petrograd, 1919, he joins the PCR (Bolshevik party) and works in the offices of the Communist International. He still declares himself an “anti-authoritarian” but his position tends to become unsustainable: he will hold an ambiguous stance in respect to the Kronstadt massacre, in 1921, a position he will subsequently abandon to take sides, ideally, with the insubordinates.
Having become a well known signature in the Communist press of the time, he fulfills political missions in Berlin and Wien, coming into contact with the militant realities in those countries. Taking sides with Trotskyist opposition, he collaborates with the magazine Contre le courant. Ejected from the party in 1928, he becomes one of the main leaders in the Leningrad Opposition. Expelled from the Ussr in 1936, he gets in touch with the Spanish Poum (Nin) while also participating in the Movement for the Fourth International. He will not be part of the new organization due to a brotherly but deep contradiction with Trotsky. He will go on identifying himself with Marxism and with the best acquisitions of Trotskyism, while recovering the anarchistic roots of his youth10. Even in 1943, together with Pivert, Gorkin and several refugees, he takes part in the Csim (Mexican International Socialist Commission). To his death, he will coherently remain a libertarian Marxist11, putting special emphasis in democracy and revolutionary humanism.

6. Probably the propositional part is the least developed in the Memoirs, not only because such eventual propositions stop “before the Mexican threshold”, but also due to the dominating, almost overwhelming attention devoted (in negative) to the degeneration of the Ussr. In the final pages the substance of Serge´s message can be grasped, though, essential as it is, is mainly about implicit concepts, placed within the lines and not rendered explicit in an organic manner. As it otherwise happens in some of his other works , even prior in several years to the Mexican exile, where the long matured positions of Serge are revealed in a way we cannot fail to consider “humanist” and “utopian”, as long as it remains clear that it is a revolutionary humanism and a red utopianism we are talking about.
The “new” itinerary in Serge´s thought is already synthesized in the above mentioned letter to Magdeleine Paz, from February 1st 1933. There he affirms, underlining it, that “Everything is subject to questioning”. It is necessary to depart once again from the beginning, to overcome political divisions, “to set up among comrades of the most diverse tendencies a really fraternal collaboration in discussion and action.” After the work of extermination carried out by the Comintern, after the brutal failure of Bolshevism, in front of the growing moral corruption in the ranks of the workers’ movement, Serge indicates three matters of principle (“ superior to any other tactical consideration”), which are not to be relinquished if we are to start again from the beginning: a) defense and respect of the human being inasmuch as human being (regardless of his political or social position); defense of truth (in the historical, literary and informative fields); defense of the freedom of thought, research and conflict of ideas).
These are principles sustained in a letter to Trotsky (March 18, 1939) where he proposes a “bringing together of all leftist trends of the working class”, so as to hold a “free and frank discussion about everything” and – this one inacceptable for the Old Man (who had already converted himself to the most rigid, hierarchical bankruptcy of Bolshevism against which, nonetheless, he had brilliantly argued in his youth) – “the creation of an international Office for committees” formed by local movements, after abandoning “the hegemony of Bolshevism-Leninism in the leftist working class movement, in order to create an international association reflecting the ideological contents of progressive elements of the working class”: formulated in positive, it is a clear rejection of the path of  substitutionism, sectarianism and the political paralysis typical of small political groups.
In “Potency and limits of Marxism” (August-September, 1938), Serge settles matters with Marxist sclerosis caused by the ideological degeneration, first of Bolshevism and then of Stalinism, accusing contemporary Marxism of having lost contact with social realities, of being focused “ in an even infantile manner” on abstract issues, of having been “in general compliant”, of having relinquished its original libertarian traits (the concept of libertarian is twice reaffirmed in the article) and of  transforming itself into one of the “most fearful instruments of defense of the privileged classes”: being unable to find solutions to the lack of freedom of the masses, it appears “today threatened by the possibility of a huge discredit”. Time has more than sufficiently confirmed Serge´s fears, as he, in a note, pays homage to Rosa Luxemburg´s clairvoyance since - as he would elsewhere put it - “the deadly germs that Bolshevism carried in itself were always visible” (“Moral and revolution”, 1938).
In the Csim program, Serge´s red utopia is further systematized in the guise, not of a political blueprint, but as a kind of “general orientation” of the commission itself. These are 6 points which could be thus summarized: 1) reunification of all socialist trends, “with the exception of the totalitarian ones”; 2) reconstruction of those unitary socialist movements independent not only from the bourgeoisie but also from Stalinism; 3) critical intransigence (with no verbal violence or sectarianism) in relation to those trends seeking compromise with the liberal bourgeoisie; 4) self-definition of Csim as an “international Marxist revolutionary trend” which refuses to become an ideological sect alien to mass movements; 5) defense of the Russian people and their achievements, against the bureaucratic totalitarianism, and a refusal to collaborate with representatives of the latter; 6) to work for the reunification “regardless of tendencies, of all socialist groups of the world”, imposing on them, as only rule, that of solidarity, mutual respect and free discussion.
Let us remember that Serge had already attempted to set these ideas into practice in August 1936, as he was trying to persuade the Movement for the Fourth International to launch an appeal to unification in Spain between anarchists, unionists and Marxists from the Poum (letters to Sedov, August 5, and to Trotsky, August 10). We know that his ideas were not welcome, the Poum was liquidated by Stalinists (despite, or maybe due to its firm contribution to the struggle against Franco), while Trotsky and the Fourth International went on their sectarian path, in a tragic imitation of a Bolshevik party and a centralized practice which had already proven their historical bankruptcy. A path that would lead the Fourth International to a semi-clandestine foundation in 1938 and to its de facto dissolution the following year, in the wake of the Nazi-Stalinist pact and Trotsky´s assassination, thus sanctioning the definitive historical defeat of the XX century working class movement, just as Serge had foreseen it.
Only in the future his message of a red utopia and revolutionary humanism will have the possibility of becoming, for the first time in history, an active heritage for mass movements. Till then, until the most conscious part of humanity will comprehend the true nature of bureaucratic totalitarianism (once known as Stalinism), it is advised to appreciate, at least, the literary qualities of this great work.

(Translation from Italian by Omar Pérez)   


NOTES  

*      “An essential problem: it is necessary to take sides, there is always a truth to seek, an obligating, imperative truth. There is no valid thought or action without intransigence. Intransigence is the firmness, it’s the being. How to reconcile it with the respect of a different being, a different thought […] I foresee a solution. Combative intransigence, controlled by a rigor as objective as possible, must obey an absolute rule of respect to the others –respect even of the enemy” (Carnets, Actes Sud, Arles 1985, p. 126).
1    Les anarchistes et l’expérience de la Révolution russe, Librairie du Travail, Paris 1921 [Gli anarchici e l’esperienza della Rivoluzione russa, Jaca Book, Milano 1969, pp. 16-17]. In order to moderate the dogmatic tone of the quote, we suggest a text written by Serge in Kiev, May-June 1922: “The middle classes in the Russian revolution”, in Giovane Critica, 15/16, 1967, pp. 106-17. It contains interesting ideas as to the role of the middle classes that Serge will again deal with in “Socialism and managerial revolution”, June 1941.
2      «Trente ans après la Révolution russe», in Révolution prolétarienne, n. 309, Nov. 1947 [«Trent’anni dopo», in V. Serge, Socialismo e totalitarismo, edited by A. Chitarin, Prospettiva, Roma 1997, pp. 159-61].
3      Serge  analyses “modern slavery” in «L’Urss a-t-elle un régime socialiste?» (Masses, n. 9/10, June 1947), referring to the millions of forced workers in the concentration camps. Also in «Trente ans», cit., p. 162. As to the “slave-based way of production” see our «Dove è arrivata l’Urss di Andropov e la necessità di una Quinta internazionale» (1983), followed by «Precisazioni sul Gulag» (2010), both in www.utopiarossa.blogspot.com.
4      In 1919-20 Serge did not oppose the existence of Cheka (the secret police created in December 1917). But, in retrospect - most surely from 1939 on, but also before - he defined the start of that organization as the first step towards counterrevolution in the Ussr, thus deeming Bolshevik leaders (Lenin and Trotsky in the first place) responsible for the ensuing Stalinist degeneration. See Susan Weissman , «Victor Serge: the forgotten Marxist», the beautiful introduction to V. Serge, Russia twenty years after, Humanities Press, Atlantic Islands (N.J.) 1996, p. XIX. It is the translation that Max Shachtman made, in 1937, of Destin d’une révolution. Urss 1917-1937. soon to be published by this press.
5      He did it in the letter-testament to Magdeleine Paz and others, from February 1st 1933. Reproducing some fragments (pp. 235-6), Serge himself claims having been the first to apply the term “to an absolute, totalitarian, caste-cratic state, intoxicated with its own power, which does not take man into consideration.” In other writings and in a fragment of the Memoirs (p. 219), nevertheless, the term is specifically connoted to define the Ussr, adding the epithet “bureaucratic”: bureaucratic totalitarianism.
In “Trente ans…”, Serge provides his keenest definition of “totalitarianism”: “From this ensues a perfectly totalitarian system, for its leaders are absolute owners of the social, economic and spiritual life of the country, whereas the individual and the masses do not, in reality, enjoy any kind of rights.”
6      In “Lenin´s Heir?” (end of May 1945) Serge affirms that “since the war in Spain, Stalin is manipulated by his mortal enemy, Hitler, whom he helps unleashing the European war.” In the same text, he draws attention on the Soviet acknowledgement of Iraq´s pro-Nazi (quisling) government, its servile attitude towards Japan, the passage from blind faith in Hitler to no less blind faith in the Allies, and so forth.
7      Whether also Victor Serge was assassinated by Stalin´s agents or not is subject to hypotheses from the very day following that November 17 1947, when he died of a heart attack, in Mexico City, just like Tina Modotti did in January 5 1942 in similar circumstances: in a taxi, after dinner. We are not to forget Gorki´s famous precedent and the suspicions of poisoning that surrounded his death.
These are conjectures unable to substitute non-existing evidence, one that very well may never exist: our juridical civilization believes in the principle of never condemning on the base of suppositions or circumstantial evidence. But the human being is not a juridical device and is free to intimately nourish feelings of doubt or certainty, even if these may never reach the dimension of a documented inquiry or a judicial sentence.
The author of these notes admits to have always thought that Serge was assassinated using one of the poisoning techniques elaborated in the infamous Jagoda laboratory during the 1930´, and employed whenever the Stalinist police wanted to eliminate someone without leaving traces (something they would have been forced to do in 1947 in a country like Mexico). In August 1966, talking to Serge´s son, Vlady, in his Cuernavaca home, I confided him with my suspicions. In response I only received a bitter smile of melancholic resignation, as if to say: “It might have been so, but we´ll never know for certain.” Not with juridical certainty, but in an intimate logical and political reasoning I am still convinced of the fact that Serge was eliminated by Stalinists and that, since April 1928, he was aware of that concrete possibility.
8      The “brilliant fogeys of the intelligentsia” as Serge calls them in “Trente ans…”, cit. Hanna Arendt would not fit into this category, though it is disappointing to notice that in her well known The origins of totalitarianism, from 1951, there is not a hint of Serge´s fundamental contribution. Arendt quotes certain authors that could lead to Serge such as Rakovskij, Souvarin, Ciliga, Deutscher  and, obviously, Trosky, but not Rizzi, Orwell, Volin, Arsinov, Mett, and others with anarchist, Trostkyist or, in any case, radically anti-Stalinist ascent.
9      From February, 1938. We discuss it in two of our works: Trotsky e la ragione rivoluzionaria, Massari Press 1990, 2004, pp. 344-7 and Il terrorismo. Storia, concetti, metodi (1979), id., 1998, 2002, pp. 203-5. Serge ´s response – «Moral and revolution» (in Socialismo e totalitarismo, cit.) – was written at the end of 1938. His ethical stance is assumed in the phrase “Whoever wants the end wants also the means, for every end requires the appropriate means” (p. 73) and in all the definitions spread all over the text against (Trotsky´s) intolerance.
But the article´s importance is based on Serge´s enumeration of some serious violations of revolutionary ethics committed by the Soviets´ first government, such as the persecution of anarchists, the illegal functioning of the Cheka, the utilization of “reaction´s old arms” during the civil war (the debate about Kronstadt had already taken place) to conclude by saying that Stalin and the bureaucracy were able to establish their dictatorship and expel the Opposition by simply using legal mechanisms adopted by Bolsheviks before them. Serge asks Trotsky to question himself about his own responsibilities as well as those of the Leninist Bolshevik regime in the Stalinist victory. Trotsky refused to do so, thus definitively breaking with Serge. The controversy between them is to be found in La lutte contre le stalinisme (1936-39), edited by Michel Dreyfus, Maspero, Paris, 1977 and in  The Serge-Trotsky Papers, edited by David Cotterill, Pluto Press, London, 1994.
10     Among the many misunderstandings around Serge´s thought in that respect, we should mention Susan Sontag who, in an essay written shortly before her death   (Unextinguished: the case of Victor Serge, 2004), among other inexactitudes and groundless opinions (also about Trotsky), defines Serge “an anti-communist” and even repeats the definition three times: this text also serves as introduction to the new Italian edition of Il caso Tulaev, Fazi, Roma 2005.
Still in the area of “misunderstandings”, we also quote the response given by Jean-Jacques Marie, an outstanding scholar of Soviet historiography, to a journalist who managed to write an article on the political Serge without ever mentioning Trotsky, Trotskyism and leftist opposition: «Jean Birnbaum, du Monde: un petit menteur par (grosse) omission», in Cahiers du mouvement ouvrier (Cermtri), n. 47/2010, pp. 105-6.
11     See the definition in  Daniel Guérin, Per un marxismo libertario (1969), Massari ed., Bolsena 2008, and our introduction :«Marxisti libertari oggi». Soon to be published, D. Guérin, Per il comunismo libertario.

Nella diffusione e/o ripubblicazione di questo articolo si prega di citare la fonte: www.utopiarossa.blogspot.com

RED UTOPIA ROJA - Principles / Principios / Princìpi / Principes / Princípios

a) The end does not justify the means, but the means which we use must reflect the essence of the end.

b) Support for the struggle of all peoples against imperialism and/or for their self determination, independently of their political leaderships.

c) For the autonomy and total independence from the political projects of capitalism.

d) The unity of the workers of the world - intellectual and physical workers, without ideological discrimination of any kind (apart from the basics of anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and of socialism).

e) Fight against political bureaucracies, for direct and councils democracy.

f) Save all life on the Planet, save humanity.

(January 2010)

* * *

a) El fin no justifica los medios, y en los medios que empleamos debe estar reflejada la esencia del fin.

b) Apoyo a las luchas de todos los pueblos contra el imperialismo y/o por su autodeterminación, independientemente de sus direcciones políticas.

c) Por la autonomía y la independencia total respecto a los proyectos políticos del capitalismo.

d) Unidad del mundo del trabajo intelectual y físico, sin discriminaciones ideológicas de ningún tipo, fuera de la identidad “anticapitalista, antiimperialista y por el socialismo”.

e) Lucha contra las burocracias políticas, por la democracia directa y consejista.

f) Salvar la vida sobre la Tierra, salvar a la humanidad

(Enero de 2010)

* * *

a) Il fine non giustifica i mezzi, ma nei mezzi che impieghiamo dev’essere riflessa l’essenza del fine.

b) Sostegno alle lotte di tutti i popoli contro l’imperialismo e/o per la loro autodeterminazione, indipendentemente dalle loro direzioni politiche.

c) Per l’autonomia e l’indipendenza totale dai progetti politici del capitalismo.

d) Unità del mondo del lavoro mentale e materiale, senza discriminazioni ideologiche di alcun tipo (a parte le «basi anticapitaliste, antimperialiste e per il socialismo.

e) Lotta contro le burocrazie politiche, per la democrazia diretta e consigliare.

f) Salvare la vita sulla Terra, salvare l’umanità.

(Gennaio 2010)

* * *

a) La fin ne justifie pas les moyens, et dans les moyens que nous utilisons doit apparaître l'essence de la fin projetée.

b) Appui aux luttes de tous les peuples menées contre l'impérialisme et/ou pour leur autodétermination, indépendamment de leurs directions politiques.

c) Pour l'autonomie et la totale indépendance par rapport aux projets politiques du capitalisme.

d) Unité du monde du travail intellectuel et manuel, sans discriminations idéologiques d'aucun type, en dehors de l'identité "anticapitaliste, anti-impérialiste et pour le socialisme".

e) Lutte contre les bureaucraties politiques, et pour la démocratie directe et conseilliste.

f) Sauver la vie sur Terre, sauver l'Humanité.

(Janvier 2010)

* * *

a) O fim não justifica os médios, e os médios utilizados devem reflectir a essência do fim.

b) Apoio às lutas de todos os povos contra o imperialismo e/ou pela auto-determinação, independentemente das direcções políticas deles.

c) Pela autonomia e a independência respeito total para com os projectos políticos do capitalismo.

d) Unidade do mundo do trabalho intelectual e físico, sem discriminações ideológicas de nenhum tipo, fora da identidade “anti-capitalista, anti-imperialista e pelo socialismo”.

e) Luta contra as burocracias políticas, pela democracia directa e dos conselhos.

f) Salvar a vida na Terra, salvar a humanidade.

(Janeiro de 2010)