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le roman de nos origines
La Banquise No. 2 (1983)
Publication Details
This article was published in the second issue of La Banquise. Four issues of this journal were published in France between 1983 and 1986. The collective which produced it included Gilles Dauvé, Serge Quadruppani & J.-P. Carasso.
Some sections of this article in english translation can be found here at this link.
An article in the final issue of La Banquise looked back at its activity. It said this about this article :
« Le no. 1 de LB était indiscutablement le fruit d'un effort et même d'une existence collectifs. Il réalisait un équilibre entre l'expérience prolétarienne (texte sur la Pologne) et la vision anthropologique et anticipatrice, l'exploration du futur (texte contre la morale). Il n'était pas parfait mais il allait vers la totalité.

« Le no. 2 était déjà moins global puisqu'il dressait un bilan d'ailleurs nécessaire. Parce que son élaboration fut nettement moins collective, il contenait un défaut majeur, de forme sinon de fond. Il était assez étrange de consacrer à peine une page à Marx, et bien plus à l'affaire Faurisson (quoique le no. 3 revienne longuement sur Marx). C'était voulu. Nous aurions pu traiter nos demêlés avec La Guerre sociale et l'affaire Faurisson en annexe, et développer le paragraphe sur Marx et le marxisme. Nous avons refusé de séparer l'évolution historique des itinéraires personnels. Le principe était juste, mais nous n'avons pas trouvé le moyen de l'appliquer correctement et de le faire passer. »

« Issue 1 of LB was indisputably the fruit of a collective effort and even of a collective existence. It achieved a balance between proletarian experience (text on Poland) and an anthropological and anticipatory vision, the exploration of the future (text against morals). It was not perfect but it opened toward the totality.

« Issue 2 was already less global since it drew up a necessary assessment of the past. Because its development was distinctly less collective, it contained a major defect, though of form rather than content. It was rather strange to hardly devote a page to Marx, but many to the Faurisson affair (although issue 3 returned at length to Marx). This was deliberate. We could have treated our entaglments with La Guerre sociale and the Faurisson business in an appendix, and developed the paragraph on Marx and marxism. But we refused to separate historic evolution from personal itinerary. The principle was right, but we didn't find the means to apply it correctly and to get it across. »
This article created controversy in ultra-left circles at the time it was published because it represented a public break with Pierre Guillaume and the journal La Guerre Sociale, amongst other things over the issue of their support for Robert Faurisson. Faurisson was a minor academic who achieved notoriety by declaring that Nazi gas chambers didn't exist, and that Hitler hadn't planned any genocide (such ideas are called negationism in France). Guillaume, who had been an influential figure in the parisian ultra-left (as the article details) developed from supporting Faurisson to today being France's leading publisher of 'negationist' and 'revisionist' literature. With Guillaume, La Guerre Sociale were the principle movers in popularising these ideas in the French ultra-left. As this article explains (at some length !) the editors of La Banquise had been closely involved with Guillaume after 1968, and had later made attempts, which seem to have come to little, to collaborate with La Guerre Sociale before that journal moved into promoting 'negationism'. La Guerre Sociale reacted very badly to this article - issue 7 of the journal was largely devoted to attacking La Banquise and Gilles Dauvé.
Since then the issue of ultra-left involvement in negationism has erupted over the years as a succession of minor 'scandals', actively encouraged by the publishing activities of Guillaume. In 1996 one of these 'scandals' involved Dauvé and Quadruppani, who despite their break with Guillaume and La Guerre Sociale were unjustly accused of being negationists themselves. Dauvé's response to this can be found here. One of Quadruppani's responses which specifically deals with La Banquise can be found here. However if this were all that le roman de nos origines was about it would be of relatively minor interest.
What is most interesting today is the account this article gives of the 'birth of modern communism' (as La Banquise saw it) and of the origins of the political currents in France in which appeared the writings of Gilles Dauvé (still better known under his 70's pen-name of Jean Barrot). It should go without saying that this is not an 'objective'or impartial history - nonetheless there are few other sources of information about this current in the French ultra-left


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