Victor Serge 1936

Letter to Andres Nin

Source: La Lutte Contre le Stalinisme. Paris, Maspero, 1977;
Translated: for by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) 2005.

August 13, 1936

My Dear Andres,

1. Pierre Schavitz and Pierre Boul are two comrades from here who I highly recommend to you.

2. If they don’t find you I advised them to address themselves on my part to Gorkin or Andrade or to the other comrades of the POUM. This serves as their letter of introduction.

3. I can’t easily travel at this time, having had my Soviet nationality taken from me by the Stalinist bureaucrats, who besides this are dragging out the official declaration of this fact, obviously in order to prevent me from obtaining the papers according me some freedom of movement. Nevertheless, I hope to obtain them shortly. Whatever the case, I am entirely at the disposal of the comrades of your organization for any task or mission anywhere, and if you think my presence useful I'm ready to take the trip to you (in this case the Spanish authorities will have to furnish a safe-conduct pass.)

4. Extremely alarmed by the differences between the Marxists and the anarchists of which the papers spoke, and knowing what these differences cost the Russian Revolution, I permit myself to recommend to you in this regard a new attitude, breaking with the old social-democratic and Stalinist positions. It is my opinion that that we should loudly and publicly notify the anarchists and the syndicalists that:

– If we accept the moral responsibility for the measures of public safety taken in the past by the Russian Bolsheviks in the retrenched camp of the revolution against anarchist and other dissidents, whose armed interventions created an obvious internal threat, we condemn all the more vigorously the policy of the Stalinist prison-state, which refuses the right to exist and the right to expression to the different tendencies of the workers’ movement, thus suppressing workers’ democracy.

– We make the commitment to defend freedom of thought and speech and worker’s democracy alongside the syndicalists and the anarchists, considering that within healthy institutions these freedoms alone can assure firm discipline in combat and production, of which we are firm partisans.

– Having decided to ceaselessly submit the anarchist and syndicalist comrades’ theory and practice to severe criticism – which is how criticism should be among revolutionaries – we do not and will not ever forget that these comrades are our class brothers, and our profound divergences should not be the occasion for dangerous dissensions and splits within the revolution, but that of a fertile emulation in service to the revolution.

I think that neither the Socialists nor the Stalinists could speak using this language, which would mark a great and useful change in tactics on the part of Marxist revolutionaries.

Fraternal greetings to all. A friendly handshake.