In the 1920s Victor Serge published a series of pamphlets on the Russian Revolution that together form a unity. These were (1) During the Civil War; (2) The Endangered City, that was a series of journal articles; and (3) The Anarchists and the Experience of the Russian Revolution. These essays were first translated by Ian Birchall and have been re-published by Haymarket Books as Revolution in Danger: Writings from Russia, 1919-1921. They are invaluable documents in their own right but also act as a crucial supplement to Serge’s novels, poetry, correspondence, and memoirs, much of which have been covered in For the Desk Drawer.
These writings, though, start with the period of the ‘civil war’ in 1919, when the revolutionary workers’ state in Russia was under attack from fourteen states – including Britain, France, the United States, Canada, Czechoslovakia, and Japan – that all sent military forces to assist the anti-communist ‘White Army’. Petrograd, the frontline red city of the Russian Revolution, was the key spatial target during this struggle over territoriality. As Serge grasped, struggles over the city’s isotopies (its broad avenues, its canals, the voids of its squares, and its monuments) would equally define and shape its utopias (its projection of non-places in novels, poetry, and musical composition).