Metamorphosis: the making of Daniel Guerin, 1904-1930

2014-06-20T13:01:42Z (GMT) by David Berry
This article explores the early years of Daniel Guérin (1904–88), who from the 1930s onwards became known as a leading revolutionary socialist and campaigner for decolonisation, antimilitarism and homosexual liberation. It examines the ‘making of Daniel Guérin’ in two senses: (i) his transformation from a son of the grande bourgeoisie into a workerist revolutionary and anti-imperialist; and (ii) Guérin's own retrospective representation of his early years through his autobiographical works, as well as interviews. Based on a close reading of these sources, his two novels as well as his private papers and other archival material including police reports, it provides fresh insights into the formative influences on his ideological development. Rather than focusing exclusively on the influence of his liberal, Dreyfusard family, or the impact of his relationships with working-class men or his experiences of colonial realities, it brings to light the influence on him of Tolstoy and of Gandhi, an influence which would inform a strong ethical core in his libertarian conception of socialism. The article also argues that despite the apparently protean nature of his political itinerary, there was in fact always an underlying ideological consistency to Guérin's libertarian Marxism.