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Fourth International, Autumn 1959


Victor Serge

A Reaffirmation


From Fourth International, No. 7, Autumn 1959, pp. 25–26.
The copy of the magazine from which this was transcribed is damaged – the missing passages are indicated by [...].
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Victor Serge (Victor Lvovich Kibalchich), born in Brussels in 1890 of Russian revolutionary émigré parents, led an active and courageous life as an anarchist militant in Belgium, France, and Spain, until 1917, when, interned in France, he managed to get himself exchanged for an officer of the French Military Mission in Petrograd. He joined the Bolshevik Party, fought in the civil war, participated in the First Congress of the Communist International, and became an editor of its organ of the same name. He joined the Left Opposition in 1923. He was expelled from the party and imprisoned in 1928, banished from the USSR in 1936. He remained active till some years after World War II, then gradually drifted away from Bolshevism and into relative inactivity. He died in exile in Mexico some years ago.

He is the author of numerous books, including three novels. The following excerpt, from his Vie et Mort de Trotsky, written in conjunction with Trotsky’s companion Natalia Sedova, was published in Paris by Amiot-Dumont in 1947.

It was to the cause of the workers that Leon Davidovitch devoted his long life of toil, combat, thought, and inflexible resistance to inhumanity. All those who approached him know that he was disinterested and conceived of his whole existence only as part of a great historic task, which was not his alone, but that of the movement of the socialist masses conscious of the perils and possibilities of our period. “These are bitter times,” he wrote, “but we have no other country.” His character was integral in the full sense of the word: seeing no gap between behavior and conviction, idea and action; not, admitting that higher interests, which give meaning to life, can be sacrificed to what is passing and personal to banal petty egotism. His moral uprightness was [...] to an intelligence that was simultaneously objective and passionate, and always tended toward depth [...] creative effort, the fight for the right ... [...] simple man. He happened to note in the [...] book whose author alluded to his “will” [...] [was another man who] wanted power [...]

“I have never felt this sentiment ... I sought power over intelligences and wills ...” He felt himself to be not so much an authoritarian – though without failing to recognize the practical utility of authority – as one who spurred men on, drew them after him, not by flattering their base instincts but by summoning them to idealism, to clear reason, to the greatness of being fully men of a new type called on to transform society.

Those who hunted him down and killed him, as they killed the Russian Revolution and martyrized the peoples of the USSR, will meet their punishment. Already they have called down on a Soviet Union weakened by the massacres called the “Stalinist purges” the most disastrous invasion. They continue on their road to the abyss ... A few days after his death, I wrote – and I wish to change nothing in these lines: “Throughout his whole heroic life, Leon Davidovitch believed in the future, in the liberation of men. Far from weakening during the last sombre years, his faith matured still further and was rendered firmer by ordeal. Humanity of the future, freed from all oppression, will eliminate from its life all violence. As he did to many others, he taught me this faith.”

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Last updated on 30 January 2016