N.I. Bukharin and E. Preobrazhensky: The ABC of Communism



To the adamantine incarnation of all the greatness and vigour of the proletariat; to that which incorporates its heroism, the definiteness of its class-consciousness, its deadly hatred for capitalism, and its splendid impulse towards the creation of a new society - to the great Communist Party - we dedicate this book.

We dedicate it to the Party which commands an army of a million men, dwells in the trenches, administers a vast realm, carts wood on Communist Saturdays, makes ready for the resurrection day of mankind.

We dedicate it alike to the veterans of the Party, steeled in battles and victories, and to the young recruits of the Party, destined to carry our work to its end.

To the warriors and martyrs of the Party, to those who have perished on the numberless fronts, who have been done to death in prison, who have perished under torture, who when doing the Party's work have been hanged or shot by our enemies, we dedicate this book.


The ABC of Communism should, in our opinion, be an elementary textbook of communist knowledge. Daily experience of propagandists and agitators has convinced us of the urgent need for such a textbook. There is an unceasing influx of new adherents. The dearth of teachers is great, and we have not even a sufficiency of textbooks for such institutions as the party schools. Obviously, the older Marxist literature, such as The Erfurt Programme is largely inapplicable to present needs. Answers to new problems are extremely difficult to find. All that the student requires is scattered in various newspapers, books, and pamphlets.

We have determined to fill this gap. We regard our ABC as an elementary course which is to be followed in the party schools; but we have also endeavoured to write it in such a manner that it can be used for independent study by every worker or peasant who desires to acquaint himself with the party programme.

Every comrade who takes up this book should read it all through, so that he may acquire an idea of the aims and tasks of communism. The book has been written in such a way that the exposition forms a running commentary upon the text of the party programme. At the end of the volume, for the convenience of our readers, we have appended this text, which is divided into numbered paragraphs; to each paragraph of the programme there correspond certain explanatory paragraphs of the book, the numeration in the text being identical with that in the programme.

Fundamentals are printed in ordinary type, whilst smaller type is used for more detailed explanations, examples, numerical statements, etc. The paragraphs in small type are chiefly intended for those comrades who are studying the work without assistance, and who have neither time nor opportunity for access to information concerning matters of fact.

For those who wish to carry their studies further, a brief bibliography is appended to each chapter.

The authors are well aware that their book is defective in many ways; it was written fragmentarily, and in scant intervals of leisure. Communists have to pursue their literary labours under conditions that can hardly be described as normal. The present work affords an interesting example of this, for the manuscript (to say nothing of both its authors) narrowly escaped destruction in the explosion at the Moscow Committee Rooms....Nevertheless, with all its defects, we have decided to publish the book at once. We merely ask that comrades should furnish us with any relevant information which practice discloses to them.

The theoretical section, comprising Part One, the beginning of Part Two, together with the chapters on The Soviet Power, The Organization of Industry, Labour Protection and Social Welfare, and Public Hygiene, were written by Bukharin; the rest of the work was penned by Preobrazhensky. Obviously, however, both the authors accept full responsibility for the work.

The title of our book, ABC, is an expression of the task we set ourselves. Should the work prove helpful to beginners and to propagandists, we shall feel sure that our labour has not been in vain.

October, 1919.