Victor Serge’s Notebooks: 1936-1947

A book release presentation with translator Mitch Abidor and Jacob Pittman

In 1936, Victor Serge—poet, novelist, and revolutionary—left the Soviet Union for Paris, the rare opponent of Stalin to escape the Terror. In 1940, after the Nazis marched into Paris, Serge fled France for Mexico, where he would spend he rest of his life. His years in Mexico were marked by isolation, poverty, peril, and grief; his Notebooks, however, brim with resilience, curiosity, outrage, a passionate love of life, and superb writing. Serge paints haunting portraits of Osip Mandelstam, Stefan Zweig “the Old Man” Trotsky; argues with André Breton; and, awaiting his wife’s delayed arrival from Europe, writes her passionate love letters. He describes the sweep of the Mexican landscape, visits an erupting volcano, and immerses himself in the country’s history and culture. He looks back on his life and the fate of the revolution. He broods on the course of the war and the world to come after. In the darkest of circumstances, he responds imaginatively, thinks critically, feels deeply, and finds reason to hope.

MITCH ABIDOR has published over a dozen volumes of translation, including a collection of Victor Serge’s anarchist writings, Anarchists Never Surrender. His writings have appeared in the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Paris Review, and Cineaste. Mitch has been translated into German and Turkish. He is currently writing a history of the Bisbee Depredation of 1917.

JACOB PITTMAN is the publisher of Jewish Currents, the magazine of the Jewish left.


This is a free event.



Marxism / Leninism • Reform / Revolution • Role of a Vanguard Party

Abhinav Sinha, India (Mazdoor Bigul- “Workers Bugle”)
Immanuel Ness, Journal of Labor and Society
Jackie Di Salvo, Baruch College

Our panelists assert that the failure of the socialist movement in the US is rooted in a binary
between the opportunism of right wing reformism and ultra-leftist utopianism. As the storm
clouds of fascism grow more ominous, and right wing reformists and their social democratic allies
join forces with the Democratic Party sectarian ultra-leftists also offer no concrete vision for the
future—leading to a dead end for any practical social transformation. Anarchists and syndicalists
may document the militancy and spontaneity of the working class, but have no sense of building
class power to counter the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. Today, as most political efforts are
moribund, disciplined and principled anti-capitalist socialist organization is more urgent than at
any time in the US since the 1930s. How do we develop a political organization capable of
avoiding the same traps of the past? Are communist parties inevitably social democratic and
bureaucratic? Can existing parties in the US be saved? In this panel, Marxist organizations come
together to learn from the experience in India and elsewhere. This public event is both a
workshop and a frank and sober discussion about the road ahead.

No one is turned away for inability to pay

Greece at the Crossroads

Alex Steinberg
Frank Brenner
George Caffentzis

Live via Skype from Greece, Savas Michael Matsas, Secretary of the Workers Revolutionary Party of Greece

The book, Greece at the Crossroads, concentrates on the fateful year 2015 when for the first time in generations a radical left wing party took power with a promise of ending the vicious austerity regime imposed by the EU.
The year began with euphoria about the victory of Syriza in January, continued through the spring with increasing frustration at the willingness of the new government to make one concession after another and was capped by the referendum of July. The mass mobilizations supporting a NO vote in the referendum were unlike anything seen in Greece in several decades. The landslide victory of the NO promised a historic confrontation with the EU and the capitalist system in general. But Prime Minister Tsipras overnight repudiated the results of the referendum and negotiated the most onerous agreement yet with the EU. The year ended with a series of general strikes against the Syriza government. Those actions continue in the new year.
How to make sense of these developments? What are the implications of the events in Greece for the project of fighting the austerity regime of the EU? Is socialism a viable alternative to austerity?
These are just some of questions that we will deal with in the Panel