Towards the close of Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Victor Serge – faced with a miserable Mexican exile, and oppressed by the spread of totalitarian ideas – offers a number of reflections on the fate of the betrayed Russian revolution and the ‘socialist experiment’:
It is often said that ‘the germ of all Stalinism was in Bolshevism at its beginning’. Well, I have no objection. Only Bolshevism also contained many other germs – a mass of other germs – and those who lived through the enthusiasm of the first years of the first victorious revolution ought not to forget it. To judge the living man by the death germs which the autopsy reveals in a corpse – and which he may have carried in him since his birth – is this very sensible?
I went to Nicaragua, as I had gone to Cuba, Angola, Zimbabwe, Grenada and other such loci, not as a tourist of revolution but as an amateur biochemist. How were the bacilli doing? What germs were emerging as the dominant strain? In other words, would Nicaragua turn into another example of frowsty barracks socialism, replete with compulsory enthusiasm, affirming only the right to agree?