Zorkine (Vrbica), Paul, 1921-1962

Paul Zorkine
Paul Zorkine

A short biography of Yugoslavian anarchist-communist Paul Zorkine.

Submitted by Steven. on September 14, 2005

Paul Zorkine
Born 1921 - Montenegro, died September 1962 - France

Born in Montenegro in 1921, Zorkine ( whose real surname was Vrbica) only came to anarchist-communism after long years of struggle and thought. A member of the Young Communists of Yugoslavia in the years before World War II. he struggled against the process of Stalinisation. He was expelled at the instigation of Milovan Djilas, who was himself to later develop harsh criticisms of state socialism.

He volunteered to defend Czechoslovakia in 1939, then organised an anti-Ustashi resistance network in Zagreb, Croatia. He was arrested, escaped and joined the RAF which parachuted him into Yugoslavia on several occasions where he led resistance operations. The war over, and despite his determined opposition to Stalinism, he was offered several posts of responsibility by the Yugoslav Communist Party. He refused this, and turned towards the anarchist movement. He became a militant in the land in which he took refuge, France. Whilst staying in contact with exiled anarchists from the Balkans (with whom he founded an ephemeral Balkan Anarchist Federation in Exile, and then the Christo Botev group, named after the Bulgarian anarchist poet) he joined the Kronstadt group of the Federation Anarchiste. He was the leading light in libertarian communist resistance to the “Fontenis adventure”, and he joined the GAAR then the FA in which he was active in the UGAC (Union des Groupes Anarchistes Communistes) tendency (see biography of Guy Bourgeois for more information on this and Fontenis).

As his friend Rolland remarked: “Paul sees the anarchist communist movement as political above all, that is to say the transformation of society’s structures. It never stops insisting on the need for organisation. Specifically libertarian revolutionary organisation, in the framework of the class struggle of the workers against the bourgeoisies and the bureaucracies, against State or private capitalism. Federal organisation of the world of work to prevent the appearance of a new ruling class issuing from revolutionaries, combatants or organisers themselves. Rational organisation of the economy the full utilisation of the forces of production and a communist distribution”.

Paul died in September 1962 after a car accident. One of the best militants of libertarian communism was removed from the scene.

Zorkine believed that the key task of the UGAC was not to eliminate other tendencies in the FA, as Fontenis had done, but to take their head, through the constitution of an active and coherent nucleus, to supplant them in theory and practice. To bring this about, this nucleus had to be more active and homogeneous than other tendencies, whether they were constituted as such, or existed as informal tendencies, to prove its arguments by good practice and exposition of ideas. At the same time, any putschist strategy should be rejected.

Nick Heath
Edited by libcom