By Victor Serge
Birth of Our Power is an epic novel set in Spain, France, and Russia in the course of the heady progressive years 1917–1919. Serge’s story starts within the spring of 1917, the 3rd yr of mass slaughter within the blood-and-rain-soaked trenches of global battle I, while the flames of revolution unexpectedly erupt in Russia and Spain. even if the Spanish rebellion ultimately fizzles, in Russia the staff, peasants, and customary infantrymen may be able to take strength and carry it. Serge’s “tale of 2 towns” is comprised of the competition among Barcelona, the town “we” couldn't take, and Petrograd, the ravenous, beleaguered capital of the Russian Revolution besieged by means of counter-revolutionary Whites. among the romanticism of radicalized employees awakening to their very own energy in a sun-drenched Spanish city to the awful fact of employees clinging to strength in Russia’s darkish, frozen innovative outpost. the unconventional used to be composed a decade after the revolution in Leningrad, the place Serge used to be dwelling in semicaptivity as a result of his declared competition to Stalin’s dictatorship over the revolution.
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Additional resources for Birth of Our Power
Goya’s “Disasters of War”). Throughout the nineteenth century, repeated attempts to establish liberal government in Spain resulted only in bloody fusillades and paper reforms. Spain entered the twentieth century, after its stunning defeat by the United States in 1898, as a backward, corrupt, priest- and soldier-ridden monarchy. The anarchism of the Russian Bakunin caught the imagination of the peasants and of the workers in the new industrial centers like Barcelona, and their revolt took the form of jacqueries and individual terrorism (a situation quite similar to that in Czarist Russia).
The Workers’ Committee, entirely too Bakuninist, failed to fully analyze the situation and prepare for all eventualities. They were certain of taking Barcelona, but what about Madrid? And the rest of Spain? Would they overthrow the monarchy? Power. This, Victor saw, was the problem, the only one that counted. And no one in Barcelona seemed to be posing it besides him and Seguí. Once the city was taken, then what? How was it to be governed? ” What was lacking was a head. ” And all these lacks could be laid at the feet of the anarchists who didn’t want to hear about the seizure of power.
What is most remarkable in these half-forgotten pages of history is the extent to which the Spanish workers were inspired by the February Revolution in distant Russia, and the fact that the demands of the Comité Obrero in Barcelona actually prefigured those of the Soviets in October 1917. On the basis of this historical “coincidence,” Serge develops his theme of power in complex counterpoint. The two cities, Barcelona and Petrograd (the setting for the last part of the novel), at opposite ends of Europe, complement one another.