V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written on July 16, 1902
Published: First published in 1924 in the Journal Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 3. Sent from Loguivy to St. Petersburg. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 119-121.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   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.README

A Letter to Arkady

Dear Friend,

I have read your long letter of June 6[1] over again, and want to add something to my previous letter.[2] I was very glad indeed to have your report of a talk with the workers. Such letters are a great rarity for us, and they really invigorate us. Be sure to pass this on to your workers, with our request that they themselves should write to us not only for publication, but simply to exchange ideas and not to lose contact and mutual understanding. I personally am particularly interested, in this connection, in what the workers will think of What Is To Be Done?, because I have not yet had any views from workers.

And so give us a direct contact with your group of workers, and also with Manya[3]: this is very important, and will very much consolidate both their closer approach to Iskra and your own position among them. And then, if there are really capable people among Manya’s leaders, it would be a good thing for one of them to come and see us: suggest this to them and find out what they think of it.

Then there are three more points.

(1) If Vanya[4] is with us, how are you to determine your relations with him? What is your opinion? Perhaps, if Vanya and Manya are entirely on our side (and if they issue the statement I wrote of—this is extremely important), they could include you in their Central Committee[5] and in addition formally confirm you in your function for the special work of unification on an all-Russia scale (i.e., “The Central Committee authorises N. N., who is one of its members and a member of the Iskra organisation in Russia, an organisation with which the C.C. is in complete   solidarity, to be in charge of work in preparation for Party unity, in the Iskra spirit”).

Perhaps it might be varied in this way (of course I am suggesting all this only tentatively, no more): “The C.C. of the St. Petersburg Committee, expressing its complete solidarity with the Iskra organisation in Russia, is happy to co-opt to the Committee, with its full consent, a group of persons belonging to that organisation and specially engaged in transporting Iskra and distributing it throughout Russia. The C.C. assigns such-and-such members to assist this group and allocates such-and-such funds, and one of the members of this group (Arkady) enters the C.C. of the St. Petersburg Committee, while remaining a member of the Iskra organisation in Russia, and takes special charge of preparations for all-Party unity in the Iskra spirit.” By the group I mean the persons you sent for fish,[6] etc. I repeat that I am only suggesting various acceptable and possible propositions, in fulfilment of your request to suggest a “concrete draft of a plan”, and leaving it to your discretion to make use of my suggestions in one form or another. Be sure to write how things stand at present, and in what direction you are moving them. Strike the iron while it is hot, and remember that we have to come to a mutual agreement in as detailed a form as possible about the plan for finally and irrevocably winning over the “ tuning fork” (=the St. Petersburg Committee=Vanya). And you must be as wise as a serpent with your young friends!

If this is possible, it would be best of all. Then you would be a delegate from Vanya in the Organising Committee (preparing for Sasha[7]), and one more of our people could be in it from Sonya. Write as soon as you can what you think of all this, and whether you have talked about it with Vanya and with Manya.

(2) It is you who must without fail set up an Organising Committee in Russia, and take it into your own hands: you on behalf of Vanya, Claire on behalf of Sonya+one more of our people from the South—that is the ideal. Be extremely careful and restrained with the Bund, without showing your hand, and letting it deal with Bundist affairs but not allowing it to stick its nose into Russian affairs: remember that there you have an unreliable friend (and maybe even an enemy).

(3) Explain to everyone everywhere that it is pure gossip that Iskra’s editorial board itself wants to become the Russian Party’s C.C. It is nonsense. The C.C. can exist only in the field of operations, and our hope is that it will develop out of the Organising Committee and revolutionary workers. The relationship between Iskra’s editorial board and the C.C. would be determined by the division of functions principle (ideological leadership and practical direction), with regular congresses serving to ensure unity, or possibly the attachment of one of the five (as an assumption) members of the C.C. here as a permanent delegate. The gossip is being spread by Borba, and it must be exposed. We don’t want to reply in print to these rogues: the best way to punish them is for Iskra to be silent.

Perhaps Vanya’s doubts (about which you wrote) are also due to his vague idea of all this? Make sure that both Vanya and still more Many a are quite clear about it.

All the very best, and hopes above all that you will manage to hold out.


[P.S. If it should come into Vanya’s head to demand a precise definition of relations between Manya and himself, between his members and the members of Manya who are in the St. Petersburg C.C., I think this would be best postponed until we meet here, and that Vanya should be told straight: “One of two things—either we really see eye to eye; and then a month of work together will see us working so smoothly that there will not remain the slightest shadow of misunderstanding between us, because we shall all be Iskrists. Or else we shall find ourselves in disagreement— in which case we shall part ways in a proper manner. But we don’t want to look silly once again by drawing up agreements, etc.!” From your letter of June 6 I see that you replied to them at the outset in this sense, and of course it was an excellent thing to do.]


[1] June 19, N.S.—Ed.

[2] See present edition, Vol. 6, pp. 176–81.

[3] Manya—a code name for the Committee of Workers’ Organisation in St. Petersburg.

[4] Vanya—A code name for the St. Petersburg Committee.

[5] The Central Committee of the St. Petersburg organisation uniting the St. Petersburg League of Struggle and the Workers’ Organisation.

[6] To send for political literature to Vardö (Norway).

The composition of the group transporting literature via Vardö has not been established.

[7] Sasha—a code name for the Second Congress of the Party.

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