V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written October 26, 1900
Published: First published in 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XIII. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 47b-48a.
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.
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I clearly see two trends also in your letter to a friend: one quite legitimately lays the stress on the need for economic struggle, the need to be able to make use of the workers’ legal societies as well, “to respond in diverse ways to the day-to-day vital needs of the workers”, and so on. All this is legitimate and correct. You are mistaken if you think that the revolutionaries “are opposed to legal societies”, that such societies are “hateful” to them, that they “turn their backs on society”, and so on. The revolutionaries too recognise the necessity of economic struggle, of responding also to the day-to-day vital needs, and of learning to make use of legal societies as well. Not only have the revolutionaries never and nowhere advised to turn one’s back on society, but on the contrary have stressed that it is essential for Social-Democracy to take the lead in the social movement and to unite under the leadership of the revolutionary Social-Democratic Party all the democratic elements. However, it is imperative to take care that the legal societies and purely economic organisations should not separate the workers’ movement from Social-Democracy and revolutionary political struggle, but that they should, on the contrary, link them as closely and indissolubly as possible. But in your letter there is also that tendency (a harmful and, in my opinion, thoroughly reactionary one), the tendency to separate the workers’ movement from Social-Democracy and revolutionary political struggle—to put off the political tasks, to replace the   concept “political struggle” with the concept “struggle for legal rights”, and so on.

How to draw the line between the sound and useful tendency and the harmful one? I believe there is no need for me to persuade you who have already had a taste of “meetings abroad” that we must not confine ourselves to mere talk. And would it not be ridiculous to fear examination of the question in print since it has already been discussed for a long time in letters and debates. Why should debates at meetings and writing letters be considered permissible and elucidation of controversial issues in the press a “most harmful thing capable only (???) of amusing our enemies”? This I cannot understand. Only polemics in the press can precisely establish the dividing line I am referring to, for some people are often bound to go to extremes. Of course struggle in the press will cause more ill feeling and give us a good many hard knocks, but we are not so thin-skinned as to fear knocks! To wish for struggle without knocks, differences without struggle, would be the height of naïveté, and if the struggle is waged openly it will be a hundred times better than foreign and Russian “Gubarevism”, and will lead, I repeat, a hundred times faster to lasting unity.


[1] A variant of part of the letter (see present edition, Vol. 34, pp. 51–54).—Ed.

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