Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Feb 25 13:25:13 MST 2017

I have been in touch with Serbyn who commented on my "Bitter Harvest" 
review. This is from an interview with him:

Q: In the academic world your work on Podolynsky is well known. 
Podolynsky is a remarkable thinker and personality. He finished medical 
school in Paris, he had Ukrainian aristocratic family roots, and, in 
defiance of his father’s pro-Empire positions, he became a socialist and 
nationalist. I believe your biobibliographic and biographic work on 
Podolynsky is the most complete to date.

RS: Podolynsky is one of the bright lights of 19th-century Ukrainian 
intellectual history. Unfortunately, he became mentally ill at the age 
of 32 and died in 1891 at age 41. Currently, in the West he is linked 
with the ecological movement because of his discussions on conservation 
and the use of solar energy. Ukrainians have always treated him 
primarily as an economist. In fact, by education, he was a medical 
doctor. For the Soviets he was an enigmatic figure because of his 
connections with Marx and the socialist movements in Europe and the 
Russian empire. We have Podolynsky’s letters to Marx; unfortunately, we 
do not have Marx’s replies to Podolynsky. Podolynsky liked Marxist 
socialist economic theories but did not like Marx as a politician 
because Podolynsky was a democrat, and he was most disappointed by 
Marx’s dictatorial behavior at the 1872 conference of the International 
at the Hague, where Podolynsky went to meet the leaders of European 
socialist movements. It was as a socialist that Podolynsky became a 
“nationalist” of sorts. Like Antonovych before him, who left the Polish 
camp to join the Ukrainian people among whom he was living, Podolynsky 
left the Russian revolutionaries to join Drahomanov and the Ukrainian 
hromada. As a young socialist, while studying medicine in Paris and then 
Zurich, he helped the Russian socialist P. Lavrov publish the ОmigrО 
journal Vpered. He was personally acquainted with Bakunin and the less 
familiar, but more important, Tkachev. Podolynsky’s position was that 
socialism in Ukraine would have to be built on Ukrainian roots and 
culture; this is why he found the use of Russian traditions and Russian 
slogans irrelevant in Ukraine. That is why he gradually moved away from 
the Russian socialists and joined Drahomanov, Pavlyk, Shulhyn — the 
Ukrainian radicals of the day. Podolynsky was an authentic democrat, and 
in the Russian dispute between Lavrov and Tkachev (a Blanquist who 
believed in coming to power by putchist methods) he took the side of 
Lavrov against this “Leninist before Lenin” — Tkachev. It was the latter 
that most influenced Lenin. Speaking of Lenin, do you know what Lenin’s 
training was in?


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