By Richard Greeman
Was Victor Serge moving to the right at the time of his death, as some have contended? Richard Greeman of the International Victor Serge Foundation addresses the question on the occasion of the publication of Serge’s Memoirs of a Revolutionary.
“My Father’s Hands” by Serge’s son, Vladimir Kibalchich
“What would be Victor Serge’s political position if he were alive today?” During the sixty-odd years since Serge’s untimely death, this question—a priori unanswerable—has been asked (and answered) many times—on occasion, as we shall see, by self-interested politicos and pundits. The consensus among these postmortem prophets is that this hypothetical posthumous Serge would have moved to the right, along with ex-Communists like Arthur Koestler and the so-called “New York intellectuals” around the Partisan Review. It is of course impossible to prove otherwise. Yet the fact remains that throughout the Cold War neither the CIA-sponsored Congress for Cultural Freedom nor any other conservative anti-Communist group ever attempted to exploit Serge’s writings, which continued to speak far too revolutionary a language and remained largely out of print. Nonetheless, the specter of an undead right-wing Serge continues to haunt the critics, and there are reasons why.