V. I.   Lenin

Concerning Demonstrations[1]

Written: Written late in October 1902
Published: Published for the first time. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, page 262.
Translated: ??? ???
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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It seems to us that the writer of the letter raises the question rather too bluntly and underestimates the significance of organised demonstrations. We have as yet done little in this important matter, and our efforts must be concentrated mainly and primarily on organisation. As long as we Lack solidly united revolutionary organisations capable of mustering several detachments of picked people to direct all aspects of a demonstration, so long will failures be inevitable. Once an organisation like that takes shape and gains strength in the process of work, through a number of experiences, then it (and it alone) will be able to decide the question as to when and how it is necessary to arm, and when and how arms should be used. This organisation will also have to give serious attention to the question of raising “the speed of mobilisation” (a very important circumstance quite rightfully emphasised by the writer of the letter), of increasing the number of active demonstrators, training marshals for demonstrations, extending agitation among the masses, drawing “the crowd of onlookers” “into the work,” and of “corrupting” the troops. Precisely because a step like the transition to armed street fighting is a “tough” one and because it is “inevitable, sooner or later,” it can and should be taken only by a strong revolutionary organisation which directly leads the movement.


[1] “Concerning Demonstrations” is Lenin’s reply to a letter from a St. Petersburg University student about the editorial article, “What Is to Be Done?” printed on September 15, 1902, in Iskra, No. 25. The manuscript has no heading. The present heading has been provided by the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.

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