victor serge

Le fétichisme de la légalité fut et reste un des traits les plus marquants du socialisme acquis à la collaboration des classes. Il implique la croyance en la possibilité de transformer l'ordre capitaliste sans entrer en conflit avec ses privilégiés. Mais plutôt que l'indice d'une candeur peu compatible avec la mentalité des politiciens, c'est celui de la corruption des leaders. Installés dans une société qu'ils feignent de combattre, ils recommandent le respect des règles du jeu. La classe ouvrière, elle, ne peut respecter la légalité bourgeoise qu'à la condition d'ignorer le rôle véritable de l'État, le caractère trompeur de la démocratie ; bref, les premiers principes de la lutte des classes
—  Victor Serge
In May, June and July the inhabitants could be given only minute rations of nuts and sunflower seed; the small quantities of corn that the Soviet managed to bring in by sea were reserved for the troops. Attempts at requisitioning were made by the small Red Army of Baku, a poorly disciplined, poorly managed body composed largely of Armenians who were alien to the revolutionary spirit of the proletariat. These drank in excess and plundered the Moslem peasants, causing disaffection among them.
—  Victor Serge, Year One of the Russian Revolution
What is terrible when you seek the truth, is that you find it. You find it, and then you are no longer free to follow the biases of your personal circle, or to accept fashionable clichés.
—  Victor Serge, writer-agitator (1890-1947)

“Early on, I learnt from the Russian intelligentsia that the only meaning of life lies in conscious participation in the making of history. The more I think of that, the more deeply true it seems to be. It follows that one must range oneself actively against everything that diminishes man, and involve oneself in all struggles which tend to liberate and enlarge him. This categorical imperative is by no way lessened by the fact that such an involvement is inevitably soiled by error: it is a worse error merely to live for oneself, caught within traditions which are soiled by inhumanity.”

— Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Tr. Peter Sedgwick (2002)

Photo: Victor Serge, Mexico, 1944.

Je vous dois mon plus noir silence,
ma fermeté, mon indulgence
pour tous ces jours qui semblent vides,
ce qui me reste de fierté
pour un brasier dans un désert.
—  Victor Serge - Pour un brasier dans le desert
Both of them were sarcastic but that was where the resemblance ended: the one, good-natured with a large, bad forehead, rather prominent cheekbones, a prominent nose, a wisp of reddish beard, a striking air simplicity, sly intelligence. When he laughed, his eyes narrowed and sparkled green. He had an enormous, prominent forehead, a big mouth, a jovial expression revealing Asiatic traits mingled with the European…
The other was a Jew. At times he had about him the forceful ugliness of an eagle: in his glance there was piercing intelligence. He carried his head like a leader of men; and he had an air of inner certainty that shortsighted observers might have taken for pride; his laugh was a Mephistolphlian mask – and it there was something misleading – for this man retained the capacity for joy of a young man with all life’s struggles ahead of him.
They laughed at their own portraits. “I only hope,” said one, “that we live long enough to make them stop printing these.” “I hope,” said the other, “that we live long enough not to be canonized.”

Victor Serge, on Lenin and Trotsky. 

(This shit is so sadly ironic in retrospect… Lenin didn’t live long enough to prevent the formation of a cult of personality around him. As for Trotsky, he was excommunicated from the revolution rather than canonized).