V. I.   Lenin

Note of December 29, 1900

Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 4, pages 380-382.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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.
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29. XII. 1900. Sunday, 2 a. m.

I should like to set down my impressions of today’s talks with the “twin.” It was a remarkable meeting, “historic” in a way (Arsenyev, Velika, the twin+wife[4]+myself)—at least it was historic as far as my life is concerned; it summed up, if not a whole epoch, at least a page in a life history, and it determined my conduct and my life’s path for a long time to come.

As the case was first stated by Arsenyev, I understood that the twin was coming over to us and wished to take the first steps, but the very opposite turned out to be the case. In all probability this strange error originated from the fact that Arsenyev keenly desired what the twin was “tempting” us with, viz., political material, correspondence, etc. “The wish is father to the thought,” and Arsenyev believed in the possibility of what the twin was tempting him with; he wished to believe in the sincerity of the twin, and in the possibility of a decent modus vivendi with him.

This very meeting utterly and irrevocably destroyed such a belief. The twin revealed himself in a totally new light, as a “politician” of the purest water, a politician in the worst sense of the word, an old fox, and a brazen huckster. He arrived completely convinced of our impotence, as Arsenyev himself described the results of our negotiations, and this formulation was entirely correct. Convinced of our impotence, the twin arrived for the purpose of laying down conditions of surrender, which be did in an exceedingly clever manner, without uttering a single impolite word,   yet without being able to conceal the coarse haggling nature of the common liberal that lay hidden beneath the dapper, cultured exterior of this latest “critic.”

In reply to my question (with which the business part of the evening began) as to why he did not agree to work simply as a contributor, the twin stated firmly that it was psychologically impossible for him to work for a magazine in which he would be “taken to task” (his precise words), and that surely we did not think that we could abuse him and he would “write political articles” (his very words!) for us; that he could co-operate only on terms of complete equality (i.e., evidently, equality between the critics and the orthodox); that since the Declaration,[1] his comrade and friend[5] has refused even to meet Arsenyev; that his, the twin’s, attitude was determined not so much by the Declaration, in fact not at all by the Declaration, as by the fact that at first he had desired to confine himself to the role of “benevolent helpmate,” but that now he did not intend so to limit himself but wanted also to be an editor (he said it almost in these words!!). The twin did not blurt this out all in one breath, the negotiations concerning his collaboration dragged on for quite a long time (too long in the opinion of Arsenyev and Velika), but the negotiations made it quite clear to me that no business could be done with this gentleman.

He then began to insist on his proposal: Why not establish a third political periodical on an equal basis with the others? This would be to our and his advantage (the newspaper would get material, we would “make” some thing out of the resources provided for it). He proposed that on the cover we should have nothing Social-Democratic, nothing to indicate our firm, and that we were obliged (not formally but morally) to contribute to this organ all our material of a general political nature.

Everything became clear, and I said openly that the publication of a third periodical was out of the question, and that the whole matter reduced itself to the question as to whether Social-Democracy must carry on the political struggle or whether the liberals should carry it on as an   independent and self-contained movement (I expressed myself more clearly and definitely, more precisely). The twin understood and angrily retorted that after I had expressed myself with anerkennenswerter Klarheit[2] (literally!) there was nothing more to be said and all that we might discuss was the placing of orders—orders for the collections; but that would be a sort of third magazine (I put in). “Well, then place an order for just the one available pamphlet,” replied the twin. “Which one?” I asked. “Why do you want to know?” retorted the wife insolently. “If you agree in principle, we shall decide, but if not, why do you want to know?” I inquired about the conditions of the printing. “Published by X, and nothing more; there must be no mention of your firm, nothing except the Verlag.[3] There must be no connection with your firm”—declared the twin. I argued also against that, demanding that mention be made of our firm. Arsenyev began to argue against me, and the conversation was cut off.

Finally, we decided to postpone the decision. Arsenyev and Velika had another heated discussion with the twin, demanded an explanation from him, argued with him. I remained silent for the most part and laughed (so that the twin could see it quite clearly) and the conversation soon came to an end.


[1] See p. 351 of the present volume.—Ed.

[2] Commendable clarity.–Ed. —Lenin

[3] Publishers.–Ed. —Lenin

[4] Arsenyev—A. N. Potresov; Velika—V. I. Zasulich; “the twin”—P. B. Struve; “the wife”—N. A. Struve, wife of P. B. Struve.

[5] The comrade and friend of P. B. Struve—M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky.

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