(en) New radical left library in Moscow asks for support

Aaron (aaron@burn.ucsd.edu)
Tue, 2 Sep 1997 04:29:02 -0400

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TEL/FAX (334) 67 63 14 36 <richard.greeman@hol.fr>

Press Release, August 30, 1997


The following report has just been received from Julia and Alexei Gusev* in Russia: "The Victor Serge Public Library in Moscow has been open since the 1st of May 1997. It is the first and only Russian library to take up the task of acquainting the Russian public with scholarly and political literature of a left-wing (anti-capitalist and anti-bureaucratic) orientation." In addition to lending books, the Library is used for discussions. The Library welcomes donations of books and journals as well as financial contributions (see addresses below).

"We are working in cooperation with the Self-Government Committee of a public library in a Moscow neighborhood," the Gusev's report. "Books are leant out, there are classes and discussions, most recently on the 1936 Spanish Revolution. The Library Committee appeals to all organizations and individuals that would like to support the spread of left-wing ideas and the development of the workers' movement in Russia to help our work."

The opening of the Library culminates a successful international project which began in 1995 with "Books for Struggle," a campaign to "send political dynamite to Russia" by shipping left-wing books and journals donated by U.S. activists and publishers to Moscow. To quote the "Books for Struggle" Appeal:

Russian activists and intellectuals have been cut off for seventy-five years from serious information about Western labor struggles and trends in socialist thought. Such knowledge is vital to the new Russian left that is struggling to find its way under the most difficult and confusing conditions.

During 1995-96 forty six cartons of donated radical material were collected and stored in the office of "News & Letters," the Marxist-Humanist organization based in Chicago. The Victor Serge Foundation organized the shipment by truck, ship, and rail to Moscow via Hamburg. The Institute of Political and Labor Studies offered them a space -- a near-miracle in high-rent Moscow. Renfrey Clarke, the Moscow-based Australian journalist, organized the actual miracle of getting them through customs. (He eventually succeeded by enlisting the aid of an unemployed actor, who impersonated an irate official.)

Another goal of the project was to create a center around the books where members of the fragmented Russian "new left" could come together for discussion and reflection around the donated books, according to Richard Greeman of the Serge Foundation.** The Library was set up "on the initative of representatives of various left-wing currents (from democratic socialists to anarcho-syndicalists), with support from the Victor Serge Foundation," according to the Gusevs. It was named after Victor Serge (1890-1947) the Franco-Russian writer and revolutionary who was active in many countries and whose career spanned Marxism and anarchism.

Cartons of books and journals can be mailed directly to the Victor Serge Public Library, Balaklavsky Prospect 4-6-365, 113639 Moscow, Russia. FAX: (095) 292-65-11, Box 8020 "Struggle." Tax-deductable financial contributions should be made out to the Victor Serge Foundation and mailed to 16 rue de la Teinturerie, 34000 Montpellier, France.

Contact Person: Richard Greeman <richard.greeman@hol.fr>

# Please copy and pass on! # Please print or excerpt in your publication! # Please post on E-Mail forums and the Web!

* Julia Guseva recently translated Victor Serge's Memoires of a Revolutionary and Conquered City into Russian for publication this Fall. Alexei Gusev is active in organizing a conference on Leon Trotsky's legacy (including discussion of Serge) for October 1997.

** The the non-profit Victor Serge Foundation Inc. was established in 1996 when the Yale University Library bought Victor Serge's archives. The proceeds are used to provide modest sums to support translation and publication of Serge's writings as well as small projects like "Books for Struggle." Tax-free contributions are welcome.

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