V. I. Lenin



To:   P. P. MASLOV

Written: Written in the second half of December 1898
Published: First published in 1940 in Lenin Miscellany XXXIII. Sent from St. Petersburg to Samara. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 37a-39a.
Translated: Martin Parker and Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.


I received your letter[1] the day before yesterday, and yesterday I wrote to inform you that the articles on the peasant reform[4] had been sent to you. Let me know whether you have the article on Postnikov.[2] If you have it, send it as soon as you can to N. Y. with the request that it be forwarded to me immediately after it has been read; I need it.

I am very sorry you did not find me in Samara.[3] Are you planning a trip to the capitals for the holidays? If you are, we could meet.

I am expecting from you a critical analysis in as minute detail as possible of the article on Postnikov: I trust you have noticed that I am drawing far more important and far-reaching conclusions from the premises set forth in it than are to he found in the article itself. The disintegration of our small producers (the peasants and handicrafts men) appears to me to be the basic and principal fact explaining our urban and large-scale capitalism, dispelling the myth that the peasant economy represents some special structure (it is the same bourgeois structure with the sole difference that it is still shackled to a far greater extent by feudal fetters), and making it patent that what are called “workers” are not a handful of specially circumstanced   people but simply the outer layers of the vast mass of peas ants who already derive their livelihood more from the sale of their labour power than from their own husbandry. I value Postnikov’s book so highly just because it contains data for a precise examination of the situation, provides factual proof of the absurdity of the current notions concerning our “communal” village, and shows that, essentially, the pattern in our country does not differ from that of Western Europe.

I offered the article to Russkaya Mysl[5] but it did not choose to publish it. I have been wondering whether it would be better to enlarge and revise the article somewhat and publish it in pamphlet form.

It would be very interesting to hear your opinion on this; I think this could be done by correspondence.

The basic premise in my comments on the works about the reform was that this reform stemmed from the development of commodity economy and that its entire meaning and purpose was the destruction of the fetters retarding and restricting the development of this system. We shall discuss this in greater detail some other time—perhaps I shall be able to forward to you the comments I sent to the author; this would be simplest and most convenient.

Let me have your reply as soon as possible, indeed at once, otherwise the letter may not find me here.


[1] You could have found out my address from the Bar Council here. —Lenin

[2] See V. I. Lenin, “New Economic Developments in Peasant Life” (present edition, Vol 1, pp. 11–73)—Ed.

[3] And did not meet my friends there. —Lenin

[4] A reference to articles by N. Y. Fedoseyev examining the economic and political situation in Russia and criticising the erroneous views of the Narodniks. Lenin had the manuscripts.

[5] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—a literary and political monthly published in Moscow from 1880 to 1918. Until 1905 it adhered to a liberal-Narodnik orientation, and in the nineties occasionally published articles by Marxists.

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