Friday, 15 February 2013

Books: Memoirs Of A Revolutionary By Victor Serge

A beautifully written epic of the tragic failure of revolution in the 20th Century. Victor Serge saw it all; a young anarchist in poverty stricken but vibrant Paris before WW1, then involved in an aborted syndicalist uprising in Barcelona, before going to Russia in 1919 and joining the Bolsheviks. Here on in Serge is a personal witness of the disintegration of the dreams of the revolution, as the regime becomes increasingly despotic, ending in the final totalitarian nightmare of Stalin's rule and the apocalypse of WW2. This is not a dry or detached tome but written by a masterful writer; you are right there living this turbulent period in history-the exhilaration, the hopes, the anger, the fears and the despair. It's also for those wishing to understand the defeat and failure of the 20th Century revolutionary left. The impact of this disaster is still being felt today.

Although John Grey is no leftist his review of the book in the New Statesman is still basically correct and worth a read here. His despairing conclusion, very much in tune with his philosophy, that all Utopian dreams are doomed to failure, I believe is wrong. Ordinary working people through their everyday struggles against oppression can achieve wonderful things, if only briefly-The Paris Commune, The early pre-Bolshevik Russian Soviets, the Spanish collectives of 1936 and countless other revolts and uprisings right up to Tahir Square, Egypt.

Please see the Wiki entry for Victor Serge here         

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