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the-great-escape 4a

Even before I emerged from childhood, I seem to have experienced, deeply at heart, that paradoxical feeling which was to dominate me all through the first part of my life: that of living in a world without any possible escape, in which there was nothing for it but to fight for an impossible escape.
Victor Serge, Memoirs of a Revolutionary

I’m working on the layout of a new edition of Victor Serge’s Birth of Our Power, so I’ve just been reminded of how Serge opens his autobiography. I remember reading it about 30 years ago and those lines really struck a chord. There’s something in that notion of “an impossible escape”. Our idea of what’s possible at any moment is shaped by our immediate conditions: most of the time it feels like tomorrow is going to be exactly the same as today. But every now and then something happens and you find yourself popping your head out and seeing an entirely different terrain.

Until then, it’s more like the end of Beckett’s The Unnamable: “you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

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Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things.