Bricianer, Serge, 1923-1997

Bricianer group

A biography of French left communist Serge Bricianer.

Submitted by Spassmaschine on April 28, 2010

Serge Bricianer was born in Paris on February 15, 1923. Coming from a rich family (so much so that his younger brother was victim of a kidnap attempt for ransom), he had a comfortable childhood and received an excellent education. But the crisis of 1929 caused the bankruptcy of his father's business. The large family house in Vaucresson was sold in this financial upset.

Serge was thus forced to work from his early youth, first as tailor-furrier (initially for an employer, then at home paid at piece-rates) until the 60's, when he got to work more regularly as a translator, primarily for the Gallimard publishing house. In the 70's he became a proof-reader 1 and worked, among others, for Encyclopaedia Universalis (1977-78) and for the Robert-historique together with his friend Christian Lagant2 .

His family, of Jewish origin, came from Briciani, a village in Moldavia, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, close to the border of Russia and today part of Romania.

During the occupation and in order to escape the anti-Jewish raids Serge took refuge initially in Marseilles and Nice, later towards the end of the war in Switzerland. In the 40's he was close to the Young Communists3 , and then moved towards the anarchists. At the end of the war he returned to Paris.

At that time everyone or almost everyone was "on the left", in particular the intellectuals. The weight of the PC was then considerable (about 25 % of the votes at elections), owing obviously to its (late) participation in the Resistance, but also to the direct support from the USSR and to its participation in various governments (until its exclusion by Ramadier in 1947). The Ministry of Labour was thus directed by Ambroise Croizat, who put the policy of reconstruction preached by Thorez into practice. This policy was challenged from the left, among others by the Trotskyists, who reproached the PC for having disarmed the maquis instead of making the revolution. Driven out of government, the PC then made itself the advocate of social disputes especially centered on the unconditional defense of the USSR, thus returning to its behavior of pre-war period.

The situation in the immediate post-war period did of course favour the activity of small groups criticizing both the attitude of the PC and of the dominant Trotskyists. The Trotskyists had experienced various splits. One of these promoted by Castoriadis, then known as Chaulieu, gave birth to Socialisme ou Barbarie. The questions debated at that time related to the evolution of the Russian revolution, the nature of the Soviet system, the viability of socialism in only one country. But if there was then some cement joining together individuals with often widely different ideas, it was clearly the fight against Stalinism.

Before the war a group had appeared under the name of Union Communiste. Participating in this were among others Marc Chirik4 , Szajko Schönberg called Laroche and Gaston Davoust called Chazé. They defended, with nuances according to the individuals, positions often close to those of the Dutch Council Communists (in particular on the question of participation in elections and on the policy of popular fronts). They were in communication with Henk Canne Meijer, an influential member of the GIK (Group of International Communists in Holland), who himself was in direct contact with Anton Pannekoek. At the end of the war a new group was formed around Marc Chirik in which Serge took part. Also participating were people like Mousso, Munis, Jean Malaquais, Pierre Bessaignet 5 and Laroche. Serge only participated partially in the activities of the group, but he did contribute to its review Internationalisme: He was notably the author of the first French version of [Pannekoek's] Lenin as Philosopher published by this framework. Moreover he was here linked by solid bonds of friendship with Marc Chirik and Canne Meijer, and also with Maximilien Rubel, which explains many later meetings.

From 1947 and until 1952 Serge contributed to the review of the group under the pseudonym of Cousin (no doubt a reference to his numerous family) as did occasionally also Louis Évrard, who Serge knew from the building where they both lived then, 2 rue de Tournon, – an address where, towards the end, the distribution of Internationalism was also organized.

The debates mentioned above took place in this group as in others. But another problem quickly arose: Would it come to a new war between the USSR and the United States?

As this was regarded possible (let us recall that the Korean War was to break out in 1952 and seemed to be a prologue of a new world war), Chirik and Laroche – who, as Jews, had both escaped the deportations and were of the opinion, according to Laroche, that "though Gestapo did not get them, the GPU would" – decided to emigrate to South America. Laroche and his wife Dora left at the end of 1951 with their 9 year old son Eddy to settle in Peru, where they remained until their death. Their daughter Rina, who was then 23 years old, remained in Paris to live with Daniel Saint-James who she had met on the benches of the School of Physics and Chemistry. Marc Chirik left for Venezuela in 1952, leaving his partner Clara for a few months in Paris, as well as his son Marc, who was only a few years old (and whom Rina and Daniel were to take to Amsterdam, where he remained for a time with Canne Meijer and his wife Ge before joining his parents in Venezuela).

Meanwhile Clara in her turn left Paris and was seen off on the station platform at her departure by Rina and Daniel, Serge and Louis. On this occasion a special friendship was born between these four people which would only end with the death of the last two.

In the small studio of 75 rue des Plantes, rented as an office by Maximilien Rubel and where Daniel and Rina then lived, the foursome met every Saturday evening for a common dinner and exchanged their points of views on the problems of the time, Marxist positions, etc. And, each year at Whitsun, they all went to Amsterdam to spend a few days at Canne Meijer's.

At the same time a sort of discussion circle formed around Maximilien Rubel with comrades coming from a group around the militant of Trotskyist origin Galién6 . The foursome joined this circle. There they mixed with militants who already had a certain political history, such as Sophie Moen (known as Sophie Galienne), Ngo Van, Agustin Rodriguez, Louis Gontarbert (known as Sania), Guy Perrard (night working postal worker), Dornier Lambert, etc, but also with more "virgin" people, such as the mathematician Isaac Kapuano. Here general questions were discussed, like the idea of revolution, socialism or communism? But there were also often presentations of books, such as Reform or Revolution by Rosa Luxemburg or Bourgeois et bras nus dans la Révolution de 89 by Daniel Guerin, which were used as a basis for the discussions. It was in this context that Serge presented for the first time his ideas about the German revolution of 1918-23. It should be mentioned that at this time Maximilien Rubel, while preparing his thesis of doctorate (that he presented in 1954), published his first selected texts of Marx, which earned him venomous attacks from the Stalinists.7

In 1953 the rising of the workers of Berlin set off a certain amount of agitation in the ultra-left milieu. But it was above all the events of 1956 in Hungary that created a shock, and this time amongst the traditional left. Many meetings followed one another in Paris. In one of them, organized by Socialisme ou Barbarie, Castoriadis presented his positions on the Hungarian uprising: in his eyes it served as a very pure example of proletarian insurrection. Contrary to this, the group around Rubel while fully recognizing the extreme importance of the event, tended to describe it only as a "commune", considering that, following the example of the Commune of Paris 1870-71, it also expressed other characteristics (if only because of certain nationalist attitudes).

At that time, the meetings of the group were attended more or less episodically by many new people, among who were Benno Sarel8 , Étienne Balasz 9 and Jean Malaquais10 . Certain personalities made only a single appearance, such as Cheikh Anta Diop 11 or even, one evening in 1956 (?), Nathalia Trotsky. More regularly two Hungarians used to come – George Pap, who took part in the insurrection, and his father12 , who was still very attached to the idea of party – as well as an "observer" who seldom intervened, the bordigist Dangeville13 . Some more "informal" bonds were made, as with Louis Janover, who later became Rubel's closest collaborator.

In competition Castoriadis and Vega organized evening courses, in which Castoriadis began to present his ideas about modern society and future society, ideas which appeared more or less modified in his later publications. Serge and Daniel attended these courses, until the day Castoriadis accused Serge, who proposed to present the positions of the Council Communists, of wanting "to sell the products of his shop" – this was in fact only one of many clashes between certain opposing participants and this overwhelming and authoritarian personality.

1956 was also the year when opposition to the war in Algeria (which actually started in 1954) became extensive. The Indo-China war had scarcely moved the crowds in France, but this new war was more disturbing, since with the sending of the conscripts, decided by the socialist government, many families were directly affected. The question of the position to take arose in the politicized milieus of the left and the ultra-left. There were many who became "bag carriers", directly helping the FLN in the name of anticolonialism.

In the group united around Rubel obviously nobody supported the FLN, in which they all just saw the embryo of a future dominant class. But between the various members there were many nuances. Rubel saw in the action of the FLN the prefiguration of a society like in Russia, and one which was likely to be worse than this (building upon the idea that the revolution of 1917 had been definitively written off). Serge and Daniel made the contrary point that decolonization would create a proletariat in Algeria and would thus help society evolve. They were in favor of revolutionary defeatism, which sought to attack both French colonialism and support for the FLN bureaucracy in formation.

From this moment on all the discussions polarized on the general evolution of the countries called "backward", a question directly related to the interpretation of the Russian revolution and the nature of the Soviet regime. In 1958 Daniel wrote a text on "Nationalism in the 20'th century", in which he explained in detail his ideas about the revolutions in underdeveloped countries which were starting to set up the capitalist system. In his eyes they had inevitably to pass through a stage of independent industrial development, which excluded any possibility of a true proletarian movement, since this would presuppose first of all the existence of a proletariat. Rubel and the others accused Daniel of being an admirer of History, even a "Marxist", and of being inconsistent in refusing to support this type of revolution14 . Serge then defended him in a particularly vigorous letter, which in fact constituted the letter of rupture by the foursome from this group15 .

Serge however continued to collaborate with Rubel, both for the la Pléiade edition of the first volume of the works of Marx as well as for the Cahiers de l'ISMEA, until the moment when a final rupture intervened between the two16 .

In May 1958 the Gaullist "coup d'etat" took place. Much concern and agitation were expressed in various milieus. In Socialisme ou Barbarie Castoriadis (followed by the majority) predicted the outbreak of an enormous proletarian movement in October. Certain members of the group expressed disagreements, which crystallized from preexistent tensions and caused a split: Claude Lefort left S or B, taking with him a certain number of people with whom he created a new group, Informations et Liaisons Ouvrières (ILO), which they wanted to be free of bureaucratic manipulations and of formal or implicit hierarchy. Serge and Daniel attended one or two meetings of this group17 , at a moment when the discussions were focused on organization, and proposed, primarily on the initiative of Serge, a text on "the art of the organisers"18 . Here they underlined the unreal character of a discussion on Organization with a big O in a group hardly counting more than a dozen people, as if they were acting as a mass-party. But this text had hardly any effect. Rapidly the personal opposition here developed to a split: Serge and Daniel criticized the directing methods of Lefort, which closely resembled those of Castoriadis, and then left the ILO.

Simultaneously oppositional trade-unionists from various enterprises organized meetings, eager to share their experiences from the world of work. Members of the ILO took part in this regroupment in enterprises, which in 1962 became Informations et Correspondance Ouvrière (ICO). In 1963 or 1964 Serge and Daniel joined this group and regularly took part in its meetings. These were held on the first Saturday of each month, initially at Louvois, a bistro located close to the National Library, then at the Colbert, in the same district (rue Vivienne), and finally at the Tambour, on the corner of Place de la Bastille and Rue de la Roquette. Various people met at these sessions where there were general exchanges of information on daily life in the factories – generally denouncing the activity (or the inactivity) of the trade-unions. Notes from the discussions were taken by Henri Simon, who used them to write the bulletin, which he brought out with the assistance of his wife Odette.

The group was visited by many people, but there was to some extent a hard core: Ngo Van, Antony19 , Guy Perrard, Agustin Rodriguez, Jeannine Morel20 , Paco Gomez, Jeannine Boubal, Rina, Serge and Daniel, Christian Lagant (who came in October 1959 following a joint meeting between ILO, Noir et Rouge and the Cahiers du Socialisme de Conseil), Marcel Kouroriez, called "small Marcel", and, of course, Henri and Odette Simon, who were the true pillars of the group together with Pierre Blachier, an anarchist worker from Renault-Billancourt and legally responsible for the journal.

In the bulletin of the ICO can therefore be found reports of the discussions – which give a very original and relevant picture of the life in French enterprises, although limited to the experiences of some of the comrades working in particular factories. But there are also reports of talks given by Chazé and articles reviews on then little known authors, like Herbert Marcuse; some of these were done by Serge. The ICO also published, as a renewed pamphlet, a text by him on workplace committees21 .

Serge, as indeed Rina and Daniel, suffered however from the absence of more properly theoretical and political discussions. When these occurred, for example in connection with the decolonization, they were often based on those that had been made by the group around Maximilien Rubel.

Dissatisfied, Serge continued on his own more personal activities by writing texts on the State, on the reproduction of man by man (demographic problems) – texts that unfortunately were destroyed later – but also on the political attitude of Marx, German Social Democracy, the German revolution of 1918-23, etc. Many of these were discussed with Rina and Daniel. Around 1958-59 consideration was even given to publishing a theoretical review which, besides new contributions, would reproduce certain texts by Mattick or by Henk Canne Meijer from Living Marxism22 , But this project did not come to anything due to a lack of money or even of potential readers.

On November 29, 1958 Serge, in a personal capacity, gave a lecture on the official initiative of the "Amis du doute" in the Lancry room in Paris. The topic was: Historical Outline of the Bolshevik opposition to Bolshevism, about the political situation in Russia and Germany 1919-1933, with a particular emphasis on the non-Trotskyist tendencies.23 This was a total flop: hardly ten people were present and some of them were just direct friends of Serge, like the photographer Gilles Ehrmann and a friendly Lithuanian Jewish ex-Trotskyist from Rina's family. But from this intervention Serge made a carefully written text, probably intended for a publication.

In 1963 Louis Évrard went to the United States, where he met Paul Mattick and Naomi Sager. From here he maintained an interesting personal correspondence with Serge. Évrard brought back invaluable contacts from the US. A regular exchange by mail was established between Mattick and Serge, Rina and Daniel, relating in particular to the question of the evolution of the underdeveloped countries. Gradually the bonds with Mattick became closer, as with Naomi Sager24 , who visited France regularly. Serge, Rina and Daniel then came to meet various friends of Paul Mattick, like Zellig Harris, the famous linguist and teacher of Noam Chomsky, and Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, American historians who took a radical position against the American intervention in Vietnam25 . Between all these people a solid friendship developed, lasting for life, in spite of serious political divergences.

In the mid-sixties Serge lived for a few years (1964-66) with Béatrice Rochereau de la Sablière, the ex-partner of the poet Gherasim Luca, who was a friend of Serge's. Their relationship was not only of an affectual nature. In their apartment on rue Geoffroy-Marie they both worked in order to survive, translating, separately or together, works for publishers, especially Gallimard. In 1965 or 1966 Béatrice during a psychotic crisis destroyed many of Serge's manuscripts, among others also the texts on the State and on demography mentioned above; she was then interned for a while, and Serge went to Peyménade, at Louis and Nicole Évrard's, trying to recover from this drama. There he fell and broke the leg. Back in Paris he stayed for some time at Rina and Daniel. 26

From there he moved to Bois-Colombe, to a small apartment owned by his sister. The weekly meetings with Rina and Daniel then began again, as well as frequentation at the meetings of ICO. Always aware of what was going on in the political microcosm, Serge brought to the ICO the first numbers of the review of l'Internationale situationniste as well as a copy of De la misère en milieu étudiant.

In 1967 Daniel entered the Faculty of Science and this was in the long run to have consequences for his up to that point very close relations with Serge.

The "events of 1968" greatly disturbed their lives, which so far had been well regulated. Daniel took part in the strike committee at Jussieu, Rina in the events at Saclay. They only met Serge on the demonstrations, during the weekends and at the meetings of the ICO.

In the ICO Jean-Pierre Duteuil had just made a report on the situation at Nanterre, followed a little later by Riesel and his friends of the "enragés", who wrote to the group with the acknowledged aim of causing chaos. At the ICO-meeting which followed the May 13, 1968, more than a hundred people (among others Castoriadis) came seeking direct information on what was going on in the factories; they had to move the meeting to the occupied faculty of Jussieu. A little later it was decided to publish a booklet on the "events": That was La Grève généralisée en France, in the drafting of which Serge, Rina, Daniel, Henri and others participated.

In the same period time a talk was organized at the faculty of Jussieu, where Serge spoke about the German revolution in front of a large audience of students. This was a mitigated success: speaking in an amphitheatre in front of 200 people was not an easy thing for Serge.

It was also at this time Serge started to write his book on Pannekoek, which appeared in 1969. In 1970 he and Daniel published a text on the question of violence in the bulletin of ICO27 .

In the ICO some activism began to emerge. And the composition of the group was changing. The students became the majority. Also people like Jean-Jacques Lebel appeared bringing with them other concerns. Various openings were tried, which led Serge and Daniel to participate in meetings with various groups, some of which had Maoist tendencies. A meeting was also organized with a group around the Trotskyist Jean-Jacques Marie and the éditions EDI (where Serge's book on Pannekoek was to be published), a meeting attended, in addition to Marie, by Serge (who had already broken with the ICO), Daniel, Yvon Bourdet and Claude Orsoni. But this attempt at rapprochement failed straightaway.

For some time the ICO also organized regular international meetings. The first was held on July 29-30, 1966, in Taverny 28 with the English Solidarity group, some Germans and some Belgians; the second in 1967, with the same participants plus Mattick and a situationist by the name of Glou, who had come to cause trouble. In 1968 no meetings were organized, everyone being absorbed by other more urgent matters. But in 1969 a national meeting was held in Taverny with the participation of very different tendencies and groups, among others Révolution Internationale (the new group around Marc Chirik, formed after his return to Paris). Paul Mattick, his wife Ilse and their son Paul 29 were present. This was also the first time Guillaume and Barrot presented their texts on the ideology of the German Ultra-Left and on the Council Communists. Daniel asked Serge and Paul Mattick to answer these kind of allegations, but both estimated that they were are too stupid to be worth the trouble30 . In 1969 (July 11-12), a new international meeting was organized, this time in Brussels. Among others this meeting was attended by Mattick, Malaquais and Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Serge went there with Claude Orsoni, although he had broken with the ICO in an article entitled La difference31 .

Why this break? The activism seems to have worried him, the discussions on the sexual question which then haunted the students milieu did not really interest him, but what he especially questioned was the lack of theoretical coherence as well as the "non directive" attitude of the group which, to avoid accusations of censorship, had let articles appear in the bulletin justifying certain types of violent attacks32 .

The few attempts made among others by Daniel to create a sort of more or less coherent theoretical group did not result in anything. The positions were too disparate: to make people such as Yann Moulier, Christine Fauré, Jean-Jacques Lebel, Jean Pierre Duteuil, Serge, Rina and Daniel coexist was not easy.

At that time Serge, Jorge Valadas and Jackie Reuss undertook the short experiment of Mise au point, which produced a book on Wilhelm Reich and a criticism of the positions of Deleuze, who was then very à la mode. This shows that the questions relating to sexuality were not so indifferent for Serge after all. In the bulletin of the ICO he had also previously collaborated in the publication of certain texts of Reich, as well as with critique of his ideas33 .

Although he had broken with the ICO Serge took part in the publication of the pamphlet on communist production and distribution, a reprint of the text from the past drafted by Canne Meijer. He corrected certain material errors, but refused to endorse the presentation made by Henri Simon, in which he saw a kind of war machine.

The relations with Daniel weakened at this time. The Saturday evening meetings ceased, especially when Serge learned that Rina and Daniel in the Postface to the book on the events in Pologne34 , published by the éditions Spartacus, supported the idea, that it is difficult to speak about a predictive social science. A kind of hiatus occured for the first time in their political positions, which until then had been so close that they were almost indistinguishable. But the true reason of this distancing is to be sought elsewhere. Daniel was involved in the struggles at the university of Jussieu to which Serge was completely foreign. Serge, for his part, expressed a certain indulgence towards the French Maoists that Daniel didn't share. And, in this relative separation, there were in fact also an aspect of "tired old couple".

In the 70's Rene Lefeuvre, director of the éditions Spartacus, tried to create a collective intended to play the part of editorial board for the review of the same name, and later, when he fell seriously ill, to undertake the work of publication which he had assumed alone till then. Several of Serge's friends took part in this, but Serge himself, while expressing some sympathy for this initiative and providing some articles, abstained from taking part in it. The collective dissolved after a few years, faced with the difficulty of collectively ensuring the publishing work that remained essentially the task of an individual.

It was also in the 70's that Serge did several translations of Mattick, of which Crise et théories des crises appeared by Champ libre in 1976, and wrote his book presenting the ideas of Korsch, which appeared in 1975, as well as a note on the KAPD inserted in the book by Gorter published by Spartacus in 1979.

When in 1976 the book by D. Authier and J. Barrot on the German revolution appeared, Serge saw it as a "disgusting book" and wrote, without telling anyone, some texts on "anticouncillism" with the intention of answering their theses. These texts were found in his papers. In these notes he examined in particular the ideas of Canne Meijer on the role and the organization of the workers councils.

In spite of his hatred of flying Serge went to Boston to meet Mattick some time before the death of the latter in 1981.

At the beginning of the 80's, Serge took part in the "la Teinturerie"-debates organized in a community center by a group from East Paris, in which some of his friends were involved, and which was to give rise to the "Amis du doute", taking up again a name that he had used himself earlier. Although Serge had a pessimistic evaluation of the social situation and wanted to stay away from all activity aimed at the exterior, he followed the activities of the group with interest. This group published three numbers of the Cahiers du doute. For the same reasons he refused to participate in the discussions of the Cercle Berneri, formed in 1990, but continued to follow publications and to bring his points of views in friendly discussions around a meat.

In the last years of his life Serge renewed his links with Rina and Daniel: he regularly came to see them in Paris, and went on a visit to Normandy with Naomi Sager, in spite of his horror of the countryside! Discussions were resumed, and the positions appeared so close that almost nothing seemed to have changed...

Victim of a lung cancer, he was first operated at the Necker-hospital, but had a relapse in 1997 and went to the Saint-Anthony hospital, then to the Galliéni-clinic at Blanc-Mesnil, where he was hospitalized until his death a few weeks later.

The preoccupations that were his throughout his life continued to occupy him even from his hospital bed. To Rina and Daniel, who visited him, he proposed to set up a foundation with the purpose of illustrating a certain form of social struggle. And which would have as its prime objective to carry out an estimate of the current state of capitalism, somewhat in the same spirit of what Henk Canne Meijer had wanted to do at the end of his life35 .

Serge died on June 12, 1997. His ashes were deposited at the cemetery of la Vésinet.

Serge was a very reserved person. It was only after his death that his closest friends could realize the extent to which his studies and his interests were coherent and systematic. He had a great passion for history and for the analysis of facts and ideas.

With the examination of his library the guiding lines of his interests became evident:

The Russian and German revolutions, Marx, Marxism, anarchism, the international labour movement, the council movements and Council Communism, surrealism, the religions (orientalism, occultism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.) philosophy, psychology, psychoanalysis, sciences of nature, literature and in particular the detective novels. His books and his files – which were used as basis for the posthumous edition of some of his texts – are preserved at the BDIC of Nanterre. The works which this library had already were given to the Musée social de Paris and the BFS (Biblioteca Franco Serantini) in Pisa. A list of all his books was deposited with the BDIC.

The main source of the information in this biographical note has come from the personal memories of Rina and Daniel Saint-James, but also from confidences made by Serge himself at different times during his life. Several people who knew him at one time or another contributed whith shares to the drafting of this biographical note: these include Gianni Carrozza, Jean-Pierre Duteuil, Elisiario Lapa, Claude Orsoni, Tonia Perez Lopez, Georges Rubel, Henri Simon, Nicole Thirion, Ngo Van.

Serge himself provided some elements of confirmation in "Karl Korsch (1886-1961): un itinéraire marxiste", Introduction à Karl Korsch, Marxisme et contre-révolution dans la première moitié du vingtième siècle, Paris, Seuil, 1975.

What remains of his correspondence and of his writings was used to check orally-provided information.

We regard this text as not completed. Testimonies which we will manage to collect, checks and crossings with other sources, will be integrated as they reach us. Thank you in advance to those who contact us and share with us their memories or provide additional information.

-Some friends of Serge Bricianer, 2001.

Taken from and lightly edited and formatted for

  • 1 See S.B., "Karl Korsch (1886-1961) Un itinéraire marxiste", Introduction à Karl Korsch, Marxisme et contre-révolution dans la première moitié du vingtième siècle, Paris, Ed. du Seuil, 1975, selected texts translated and presented by himself, p. 66: "After joining the Communist Youth in 1940 because someone there talked about 'proletarian fraternisation' [at least this is what I believed I had heard], I caught somehow the nuances of black and vivid red. Two words, on the same occasion, about my professional biography: I was a furrier for about ten years, now I am a proof-reader". This text was dated: Bois-Colombes, 1st June 1973.
  • 2 According to Henri Simon, they had known each other since the time of the ILO, but it was from the moment when they worked together at Universalis that they become inseparable.
  • 3 S.B., Karl Korsch..., op. cit., p.66
  • 4 According to Henri Simon, he took part in the first meeting after the foundation of Union Communiste, but he moved away from it rather quickly, while remaining in contact with several of its members.
  • 5 Pierre Bessaignet was a sociologist. He left France in the 50's for various missions in the Far East (the Indies, Indonesia, etc.) and later became professor at the University of Nice. Among his writings can be cited: Méthode de l'anthropologie, 1961, and L'Etude sociologique des villages du Guilan par la méthode de la photographie aérienne, same year, two booklets published by the Institut d'études et de recherches sociales, Université de Téhéran (BDIC, Rubel funds).
  • 6 According to information from Ngo Van, Rubel had ben active for the l'Union ouvrière internationale – Avec Maximilien Rubel, Combat pour Marx 1954-1996, une amité, une lutte [Paris], Friends of Maximilien Rubel, 1997, p. 7. The surrealist poet Benjamin Peret also took part in this group.
  • 7 Who didn't hesitate to put this play on words into circulation: wahres Marx oder falsches Rubel? (true Marx or false rouble/Rubel?)
  • 8 His true name was Sternberg. Within S. ou B. his pseudonym was Barois. He was the author of a particularly interesting text: La classe ouvrière d'Allemagne orientale, 1945-1958, Paris, les Editions ouvrières, 1958, 268 p.
  • 9 Pseudonym: Philippe (see Ngo Van, Combat pour Marx 1954-1996, une amité, une lutte, op. cit. p.24-26, where he evokes a meeting of the 27 dec. 1959). Under the pseud. of P-L Tomori, he wrote the booklet Qui succédera au capitalisme?: du paradoxe tragique de Lénine à " l'ère des organisateurs ", Paris, Spartacus, 1947, 38 p.
  • 10 ranslator of Norman Mailer and Mircea Eliade, author of a text on Kierkegaard and of Le nomméé Louis Aragon ou le patriote professionnel (Paris, Lefeuvre, 1947, 16 p.), particularly known for his novel Les Javanais his friendship with André Gide (Correspondence 1935-1950). Among his writings we can also mention Planète sans visa, Journal de guerre, Journal du métèque, Coup de barre, La courte paille, Le Gaffeur.
  • 11 Sheik Anta Diop (1923-1986), militant of the Pan African cultural unity of the 1950's , is probably one of the first to have defended the thesis that the Blacks were the origin of civilization, based on Egyptology. A synthesis of his ideas can be found in Encyclopaedia Universalis, volume I, with the article on African literature and negritude. Among his writings, can usefully be consulted: L'unité culturelle de l'Afrique noire. Domaines du patriarcat et du matriarcat dans l'antiquité classique, 1959; L'Afrique noire pré-coloniale. Etude comparée des systèmes politiques et sociaux de l'Europe et de l'Afrique noire de l'antiquité à la formation des états modernes, 1960; Les fondements culturels techniques et industriels d'un futur état fédéral d'Afrique noire, 1960; these texts were published in Paris by Présence africaine and are available at the BDIC. For a presentation of his work and a complete biographical note, see the site: htp:/
  • 12 The father, worker, had had Kadar as a childhood comrade and had difficulties understanding how Kadar had been able to become head of the government installed by the Russians. He told of how the first Russian soldiers that came to Budapest (often coming the depths of Siberia) believed that the Danube was the Suez Canal and imagined that they were dealing with the Franco-British invaders of Egypt!
  • 13 Roger Dangeville, translator and commentator of Marx, wrote in particular Succession des formes de production et de société dans la théorie marxiste, Paris 1972, and Le marxisme et la question militaire, Paris, 1974. He was formerly a very close collaborator of Rubel, who broke with him accusing him of using his work for his own publications.
  • 14 Incidentally, Rubel reproached him for having got the wrong way round Marx's positions on the Mir and the Obchtchina.
  • 15 The group continued to exist and took the name of " groupe pour le socialisme de conseil". In one number of its publications there is a text of Daniel, Serge's letter and a text by Canne Meijer, all three defending the same positions, and a series of comments, answers and critiques from M.R. Gontarbert, Rodriguez etc. Some explanations on these debates and their backgrounds can be found in the text by Ngo Van: Avec Maximilien Rubel, Combat pour Marx 1954-1996, une amité, une lutte [Paris], Friends of Maximilien Rubel, 1997, p. 7 and 22-23.
  • 16 Louis Évrard hardly took part in the activities of the group any more. Although sharing the ideas of the other members of the foresome , he continued to collaborate with M.R. for the Pleiad publication of Marx.
  • 17 In particular with one of them, where it was a question about the Algerian war the problem of the desertion (1959?). This group existed from 1958 to 1962.
  • 18 The title is a way of dissociating himself from Burnham's book, L'Ere des organisateurs. An allusion nobody has perceived...
  • 19 The pseudonym of Nguyen Van Nam. For a biographical sketch, see Ngo Van, With the country of the cracked bell, Montreuil, the insomniac, 2000, p. 229-230.
  • 20 See: Paolo Casciola, Homage to Jeannine Morel (1921-1998), Florence,Quaderni Pietro Tresso, n. 15, January 1999, 33 p. This pamphlet gathers in an appendix testimonies of Paul Parisot, JacquesDecobert, Raymond Hirzel, Roger Bossièère and Henri Simon.
  • 21 ICO, n?°50, June 1966, supplement.
  • 22 In particular the text of Sam Moss "On the impotence of the revolutionary groups", which seriously criticizes the sterile activism of a number of these groups.
  • 23 See the handwritten letter of invitation that Serge sent to D. Guerin, who he had met previously at a meeting at Maximilien Rubel's. BDIC, Funds D. Guerin, F. 688/31.
  • 24 Henri Simon points out that, about the same time, Jean-Max Claris and his partner Pascale, of the Noir et Rouge group, left for the United States and also formed relations with Naomi Sager and Zellig Harris.
  • 25 Serge had offered to review for the ICO Kolko's book of on the situation of the classes in the United States. Gabriel Kolko took part in the Russel Tribunal as prosecutor. Serge said of him, notwithstanding their divergences and the support that Gabriel gave to the Viet Cong: "a man who caused so much harm to his country cannot be entirely bad". Among his texts can be mentioned: Anatomy of a war: Vietnam, the United States, and the modern historical experiment, New York, Pantheon Books, 1985; (with Joyce), The Limits of power, the world and United States foreign policy, 1945-1954, New York, Harper and Row, 1972; The Politics of the war, allied diplomacy and the world crisis of 1943-1945, London, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1969.
  • 26 After leaving hospital, Beatrice worked at L'Abeille , about 1968, and attended the ICO meetings.
  • 27 Some reflexions, in: ICO, June 1970, n. 94, p. 1-7 (anonymous).
  • 28 In a room of the MIAJ, obtained through Tepernowski, who was at the same time with the MIAJ and the ICO – and who reappeared in the 80'ies as a union representative at Figaro.
  • 29 They then journeyed to Europe and in particular to France (they stayed at Rina and Daniel's and the meetings with Serge, Louis and Nicole Evrard, even sometimes Marc Chirik, were animated).
  • 30 Paul Mattick: "You should not loose time for sheer nonsense!" The minutes of these two meetings were published in ICO, suppl. with the n. 84, August 1969 (national meeting at Taverny) and the suppl. with the n. 89, January 1970 (international meeting in Brussels).
  • 31 ICO, n. 81, May 1969, p. 18-25.
  • 32 The climax was reached during the last national meeting of the ICO in Bessat, in 1970, where there were reports about rapes of students at the university of Nanterre by North-Africans who had come from the nearby housing estates, and where there was someone who saw this as a (conscious?) breakdown of class barriers. Fortunately a black female comrade was there to answer him back in no uncertain terms.

    The ICO group, after an unfortunate more determined attempt at joint work disappeared, without a death certificate, after the meeting at Pontarlier with the Italian group Collegamenti. Information on the struggles in Italy did not then interest anybody anymore. On the climate of this period within the ICO, see the pamphlet by Henri Simon, ICO, un point de vue, where he explains the reasons for his departure.

  • 33 See for example, in connection with Wilhelm Reich, the supplement of the n. 60, May 1967, p. 1-16 (not signed).
  • 34 ICO, Capitalisme et lutte de classes en Pologne, 1970-1971, éd. Spartacus.
  • 35 An unfinished work from the middle of the 60's, entitled Le mécompte de Marx, where Canne Meijer seeks to see whether the falling tendency of the rate of profit is verifiable in the facts.