On May 15 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Conversation and Book Launch
Brooklyn-based translator Mitchell Abidor (Mitch) will prime a conversation at MayDay Rooms on Friday May 15th about Victor Serge, and issues arising from the work of translation for Anarchists Never Surrender, an anthology that provides a complete picture of Serge’s relationship to anarchism.
Mitch Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published two collections of his translations, The Great Anger: Ultra-Revolutionary Writing in France from the Atheist Priest to the Bonnot Gang and Communards: The Story of the Paris Commune of 1871 as Told by Those Who Fought for It.
Anarchists Never Surrender contains writings going back to Serge’s teenage years in Brussels. At the heart of the anthology are key articles written soon after his arrival in Paris in 1909, when he became editor of the newspaper L’Anarchie. In these articles Serge develops and debates his own radical thoughts, arguing the futility of mass action and embracing “illegalism.” Serge’s involvement with the notorious French group of anarchist armed robbers, the Bonnot Gang, landed him in prison for the first time in 1912. Anarchists Never Surrender includes not only his prison correspondence with his anarchist comrade Émile Armand and articles written immediately after his release, but also material written by Serge after he had left anarchism behind and joined the Russian Bolsheviks in 1919. Here Serge analyzed anarchism and the ways in which he hoped anarchism would leaven the harshness and dictatorial tendencies of Bolshevism. Included here are writings on anarchist theory and history, Bakunin, the Spanish revolution, and the Kronstadt uprising.
Victor Serge was born in 1890 to Russian anti-Tsarist exiles living in Brussels. As a young anarchist firebrand, he was sentenced to five years in a French penitentiary in 1912. In 1919, Serge joined the Bolsheviks. An outspoken critic of Stalin, Serge was expelled from the Party and arrested in 1929. Nonetheless, he managed to complete three novels (Men in Prison, Birth of Our Power and Conquered City) and a history (Year One of the Russian Revolution), published in Paris. Arrested again in Russia and deported to Central Asia in 1933, he was allowed to leave the USSR in 1936 after international protests by militants and prominent writers like André Gide and Romain Rolland. Hounded by Stalinist agents, Serge lived in precarious exile in Brussels, Paris, Vichy France, and Mexico City, where he died in 1947.
|1978 edition of one of VS's novels|
|(Not the book that's being launched)|
|"Kronstadt 1921" from VS's writings was one of the earliest Solidarity pamphlets|
All seminars are held in Room 102, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St. WC1 and start at 5.30 p.m.
Monday May 18th - Mitch Abidor, 'Jean Jaurès, The Last Jacobin'
'Every revolutionary party, every oppressed people, every oppressed working class can claim Jaurès, his memory, his example, and his person, for our own' -Leon Trotsky
Jean Jaurès was the celebrated French Socialist Party leader, assassinated in 1914 for trying to use diplomacy and industrial action to prevent the outbreak of war. Published just a few years before his death, his magisterial A Socialist History of the French Revolution, has endured for over a century as one of the most influential accounts of the French Revolution ever to be published. Mitchell Abidor’s long-overdue translation and abridgement of Jaurès’s original 6-volumes brings this exceptional work to an Anglophone audience for the first time. Written in the midst of his activities as leader of the Socialist Party and editor of its newspaper, L’Humanité, Jaurès intended the book to serve as both a guide and an inspiration to political activity; even now it can serve to do just that. Abidor’s accomplished translation, and Jaurès’s verve, originality and willingness to criticise all players in this great drama make this a truly moving addition to the shelf of great books on the French Revolution.
About The Author
Jean Jaurès (3 September 1859 – 31 July 1914) was a French Socialist who became the leader, in 1902, of the French Socialist Party, which opposed Jules Guesde's revolutionary Socialist Party of France. The two parties merged in 1905 in the French Section of the Workers' International (SFIO). An antimilitarist, Jaurès was assassinated at the outbreak of World War I, and remains one of the main historical figures of the French Left.
Mitchell Abidor (Translator) books include anthologies of of Victor Serge, the Paris Commune, the left of the French Revolution, as well as the novella A Raskolnikov by Emmanuel Bove. He lives in Brooklyn.
Ian Birchall is a Marxist historian and translator, and author of numerous articles and books, particularly relating to the French Left and the Rebel's Guide to Lenin.