Jules Scarceriaux [obituary tribute]

The death of comrade Jules Scarceriaux on May 2nd, 1963, removed from our midst an outstanding figure in the international anarchist movement.

(Sabina Scarceriaux, his life-long companion, passed away on March 23rd, 1963).

Comrade Scarceriaux was born on July 22nd, 1873, Wasmuel, Heinaut, Belgium. His mother died when he was still a child, and at the age of eleven, his father placed him to work in a pottery. In his seventeenth year he fell in love with a girl, and to which affair his father strongly objected, finally forbidding him to see her. One night, upon returning from a secret meeting with the girl, his father inflicted upon him a severe beating which led him to leave the house at midnight, never to return there.

Thus began the wanderings of Jules Scarceriaux. His new tramp-life, as he termed it, found him first in Lille, Northern France, where he resumed his trade as a potter. It was here where he attended for the first time a debate between an anarchist and a socialist. Afterwards, the anarchist recommended to him to read Sebastian Faure’s La Douleur Universelle which, in turn, influenced him to enter the ranks of the anarchist movement.

His further wanderings found comrade Scarceriaux in Bonn, Germany, and in 1899 he returned to France, this time taking up residence in Paris. His activities here finally led to his deportation from France.

The years 1904-1905 find Jules Scarceriaux in Rotterdam, Holland, where his anarchist activities, likewise, as in France, led to his deportation.

Comrade Scarceriaux left no data in his scrapbooks as to when he came to the United States. What is known to me is the fact of his residing in the 1920’s in Richmond, California, where he carried on his anarchist activities.

I came to know Comrade Scarceriaux personally in 1936, when the publishing of MAN! was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles. His collaboration in this magazine, as well as in the “Man Group” is well known. What is not known is the close collaboration of his in reading with me the proofs of nearly every issue of MAN! that was printed until April, 1940, when the harassings and intimidations by the governmental authorities imposed upon many readers and the printers of MAN!, led to its suspension.

Comrade Scarceriaux makes no mention anywhere to having received any formal education. Nevertheless, the fact is that, thanks to these very wanderings, he acquired a thorough knowledge of many languages, enabling him to render into English some of the most important essays that appeared in the anarchist press of Europe. There is scarcely any English anarchist publication that appeared in the United States that did not have his collaboration. For twenty years comrade Scarceriaux also rendered into English most of the leading essays that the editor of L’Adunata [L’Adunata dei Refrattari was edited by Max Sartin ie Raffaele Schiavina] had written, and which the organ of the I.W.W. The Industrial Worker regularly published until a new pro-centralist editor, came out with an attack on anarchists, thereby bringing to an end his collaboration in it. It was in this weekly too that many of the social poems of comrade Scarceriaux were printed.

Comrade Scarceriaux’s pen activity was a far-reaching one. He collaborated in French, Belgian and many Scandinavian anarchist publications. He also found time to collaborate in the organ of his Union The Plasterer, as well as the organ of the Workingman’s Beneficial Association, Solidarity. And besides, as a member of his Union, and part-time teacher in French, he came into contact with scores of people, and he utilized that opportunity to propagate our anarchist ideas by word of mouth.

Many were the educational Groups that comrade Scarceriaux brought to life, and before whom he prepared and delivered written lectures. He lost no opportunity to lecture to any group that invited him, as he often did, for instance, at the Forum of the local I.W.W.

The material support that comrade Scarceriaux so generously rendered to our movement including a legacy of $5,000, is well known. Likewise during the last few years before his death he also distributed hundreds of dollars to various individuals and the press of our movement through comrade A.R.

In this respect, the material aid he gave to the Industrial Worker, created misgivings with some of us, although the mitigating explanation for this lies in the fact of that organ having printed for years the trenchant anarchist thoughts from the pen of the editor of L’Adunata.

In addition to all these far-reaching activities, he devoted a great deal of his time to the creative art of Sculpture (mostly in Bas-Relief) reproducing them in hundreds from which the movement derived heavy material aid.
Comrade Scarceriaux had the good fortune to witness a partial realization of the dreams that our teachers and he have propagated: the social awakening of the oppressed and exploited masses throughout the world, especially among the most ill-treated – the coloured people.

His life was, as can be seen, a very rich, fruitful one. The last few years, he suffered much physical pain, and finally pleaded for pills to end his discomforts. But, living as we do in an abnormal and therefore irrational society, his wish could not be complied with.

Saddened as we are by his passing from our midst, we are at the same time happy in the knowledge of having had the good fortune to have known and worked with him, and our movement in general has been enriched by the unceasing spiritual contributions that he has made to it for over seventy years. 

May 20, 1963. 

Marcus Graham.

Freedom 8 June 1963 https://freedomnews.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Freedom-1963-06-08.pdf