Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Socialisme ou Barbarie: Complete Run Now onLine.

with 5 comments

Socialisme ou Barbarie (“Socialism or Barbarism”) was a French-based radical libertarian socialist group of the post-World War II period whose name comes from a phrase Friedrich Engels used, which was cited by Rosa Luxemburg in the 1916 essay The Junius Pamphlet. It existed from 1948 until 1965. The animating personality was Cornelius Castoriadis, also known as Pierre Chaulieu or Paul Cardan.  Writes Wikipedia (English Entry).

To those familiar with the French left, intellectual radicals, and postmodernism, it’s worth also pointing to the names  Claude Lefort (as Claude Montal) (1924-2010). SouB until 1958.  and Jean-François Lyotard (1924–1998). SouB: 1950- 1963 (PO). Edgar Morin, b. 1921 (some sources have him as a member in the early 1950s). Henri Simon, b. 1922. SouB: 1952- 1958. And the ‘situationist’  Guy Debord (1931–1994). SouB: One year from 1960 to 1961. Programatic statement, with Daniel Blanchard.#

The Holocaust denier and leading figure in the Vieille Taupe Pierre Guillaume, b. 1941 (or 1940 ?). SouB: 1960- 1963 (PO) was also a member

The British group, Solidarity, published many of ‘Paul Cardan’s’ texts. I bought them – in my (very) early teens – from the Collet’s Bomb Shop in Charing Cross Road.

They played a key part in my early political development.

Solidarity’s best-known figure was Chris Pallis, some of whose pamphlets (written under the name Maurice Brinton) continue to be worth reading, notably The Irrational in Politics.

The first biography of Castoriadas, Castoriadis, une vie  Francois DOSSE (2014) is winging my way.

Now La Battaile Socialiste signals that you read online, and download, the complete run of the review Socialisme ou Barbarie.

Un projet de numérisation complète est sur http://soubscan.org (let’s hope the link is working…)




5 Responses

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  1. Really Andrew, even in a world free of obligations this has to come way down a reading list. Perhaps excepting Guy Debord on a sunny day)

    Nick Wright

    December 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    • It’s free, and the biography promises to be interesting.

      I really came to hate Castoriadis in his virulent anti-Communist and hysterical ‘anti-totalitarian’ old age.

      You can guarantee that I will not be praising him!

      Andrew Coates

      December 20, 2014 at 1:16 pm

  2. The Socialism or Barbarism tag was actually mis-attributed to Engels (I suspect deliberately) and was really Karl Kautsky’s from his 1892 commentary on the Erfurt Programme:


    http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1892/erfurt/ch04.htm (you’ll find quote halfway through section VI).

    Roger McCarthy

    December 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    • Glad you’ve made that point Roger: it certainly wasn’t something I could recall Engels writing.

      Andrew Coates

      December 22, 2014 at 11:17 am

  3. As the MR piece I link to points out that clearly was his view (and is present as early as the Communist Manifesto with its common ruin of the contending classes line) Engels just never said it in those words.

    And Kautsky in that text was effectively channelling Marx and Engels and had the still living latter’s express approval for it as a summary of Marxism.

    Compare with GK Chesterton whose most famous quote is probably ‘when men stop believing in God they don’t start believing in nothing – they believe in anything’ which is actually from a book about Chesterton summarising what his view should have been – even though the man himself never said any such thing.

    Roger McCarthy

    December 23, 2014 at 6:35 pm

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