Under such a title you might expect to find yet another tirade about the shameful performance of the President and his inner cabinet with respect to Benghazi, the maddening behavior of all three official branches of the federal behemoth surrounding Obamacare, or the pathetic tool that is Jay Carney. You may even anticipate a stretch to the leftist media mouthpiece of our government and their clownish denial of the obvious in such things as the Trayvon Martin affair. All so very true and in the end, that may all very well be the case; but not directly.
Over the last three years, I have read, among other things, some slightly older texts such as Nineteen Eighty-Four (Orwell), Brave New World (Huxley), The Trial (Kafka), The Jungle (Sinclair), and Darkness at Noon (Koestler). In certain ways, all seemed more modern and much closer to home (or much more possible) than is comfortable to my liberty loving sensibilities. Sometimes the storylines took on a creepiness when matched with daily face-shots of Obama, Holder, Clinton, Sebelius, and the rest on Drudge and elsewhere. So I have been in this frame of mind for quite some time…
…And so it was early this year, as I was pressing through the seven-hundred-plus pages of essays in Arguably (Hitchens), when the author introduced me to Victor Serge. Instantly, The Case of Comrade Tulayev was added to my Amazon Wish List. In presenting Serge, Hitchens cites the following:
“It was perhaps a happy chance, if the phrase can be allowed, that the Bolsheviks put Serge in charge of the captured files of the Okhrana-the tsarist secret police. He gave minute attention to these papers, and published a pamphlet detailing the web of repression and surveillance and provocation that he thus uncovered.” (Arguably, page 587) [emphasis added]
Any resemblance to today’s IRS, NSA, and our Department of Justice in that web…not to mention our Snowden character in that soon to be arrested leaker…should be considered purely coincidental. Please disregard that chill in your spine. (There, there…. There, there.) Hitchens also attached descriptors like “bureaucratic and intolerant” and crimes like “liquidat[ing] their stock” (as in mass executions) to that case of failed hope and change. In our current ruling class, the former can be clearly seen already on the horizon but, as for the later, surely we are more civilized today. Obamacare will certainly be much slower…none will dare call it liquidation…but it will be insidious and deadly all the same. But, I digress.
In stark contrast to today’s radicals…a chief executive with a paper-thin resume that would get him laughed out of any McDonalds, a shamed former Secretary of State (if that were possible) that is eminently qualified for any position simply because somewhere along the line she deemed it so, and a current Secretary of State who spent decades as a Senate backbencher doing little but marrying money and supplementing his walking around money through insider trading on information gathered behind closed doors while doing the people’s business…Mr. Serge was legitimate. Habitually cross with the corrupt powers that be, “before he was thirty, he served hard time behind bars and behind wire” and “was sentenced to a five-year stretch in solitary confinement…for his connection to the then-celebrated Bonnet gang…he drew this harsh penalty for refusing to testify against his former comrades.” And then there was this:
“There came a time when the agitation abroad in his behalf became too much to overlook, and when a campaign for his release…had embarrassed even the intellectual prostitutes of the French fellow-travelling classes. Stalin decided to examine the case in person, but before dong so he asked his police chiefs what crimes Serge had confessed to while in the Orenburg camp. He must have been somewhat startled to be told that the prisoner had confessed to nothing at all (a distinct rarity in those times)…” (Arguably, page 593) [emphasis added]
As far as bonifides and character go, that is a far cry from “What difference at this point does it make?”
Anyway, as of early this morning, The Case of Comrade Tulayev was at the top of the “to read” pile so I dove into the introduction. As I read through those twenty-plus pages titled Unextinguished – The Case for Victor Serge, it struck me that this book, along with the several texts listed above…all still relatively fresh in my memory and sitting on the shelf well highlighted…just might lend itself to the treatment I did a few years ago as Volume 1 under the Remedial Book Notes banner (see links below). So, at the risk of losing both of my loyal readers, I think I’ll give it a try.
(For the record, I also stole a good line from the introduction and updated it to fit my purposes in the title above.)
In once again using the Book Notes tag, albeit in a remedial sense since I don’t dare to presume to do it justice, I must admit that I claim no legitimate entitlement to that dead franchise in this dying neighborhood. Furthermore, given a busy work and family schedule, I cannot say how many posts there will be or how often progress reports and updates will come. This should be an interesting book…but I really have no idea where this is going. As it unfolds, I do invite you to check in, chime in, and keep me honest as often as you like.
Proud Redstate Member since April 2006…?
Volume 1 – Primary American Character
Volume 1.1 – Evolving Expectations…?
Volume 1.2 – “I had better things to do than be angry.”
Volume 1.3 – “Slavery was a State of War”
Volume 1.4 – “a tonic like no other”
Volume 1.5 – Douglass Decimates Obamacare
Volume 1.6 – “Only Bigots and Liberals!”