V. I.   Lenin

A Letter to the Editors of Yuzhny Rabochy[1]

Written: Written on September 3 (16), 1902
Published: First Published in 1924 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia, No. 3. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 227-230.
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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Dear Comrades,

Your detailed letter has greatly gladdened us all. Please send us the promised supplement as soon as possible, and write oftener. We hope soon to send one of the comrades to you for more detailed and final talks; meanwhile we shall confine ourselves to the most important points.

You are right a thousand times over when you say that we must unite as soon as possible, indeed immediately, in a single all-Russian organisation, whose aim would be to prepare the ground for ideological unity among the committees and for the practical, organisational unity of the Party. We, for our part, have already taken a number of fairly important steps in this direction, thanks to the fact that the St. Petersburg Committee has come over fully to the Iskra point of view, published a statement to this effect, and de facto (this, of course, is strictly entre nous[Between us.—Ed.]) merged with the Iskra organisation in Russia, and given its members very influential places in the committee’s central group. If we succeed in getting the same complete solidarity and complete fusion with the South, the actual unification of the Party will be three-quarters on the way to accomplishment. This must be pushed ahead as fast as possible. We are taking steps immediately, first, to see to it that members of the Iskra organisation in Russia visit you for the purpose of coming to an agreement; second, to establish connections here with Chernyshov. For your part, hurry up the release (or publication in Iskra) of your statement of   principles, fully defining your position in the Party, and take all steps towards actual fusion with the Iskra organisation in Russia.

In conclusion, a few words on the questions you have raised. Regarding the peasantry and the agrarian programme, we are not clear on precisely what you find unsatisfactory in our draft agrarian programme and what changes you would like. Let us know this more concretely. Have you seen No. 4 of Zarya with the article on the agrarian programme? [See pp. 107-50 of this volume.—Ed.] In general, your remarks about the mistakes made by Iskra show how important it is for us to communicate more frequently and regularly so as to achieve complete harmony. We have so devilishly few forces that only the closest unity of all Social-Democrats can ensure us success in the struggle against both the “adventurers” and the government. And yet we hitherto knew almost nothing about your standpoint, for instance, or about your practical work—is that normal? Besides, is it normal that you, for instance, are now taking steps on your own to establish permanent transport connections, while we are doing it likewise on our own? (Let us know in greater detail what steps you are taking, how and where, what are the means you have, etc.) This same circumstance, i.e., the shortage of forces, should be taken into account in considering the question of a special press organ, of continuing the publication of Yuzhny Rabochy, of changing it to Russky Rabochy. We must weigh all aspects of the matter with the utmost care. Just consider where we are to get the forces for two papers, when we know very well that we have not enough even for one. Won’t you be giving St. Petersburg (the non-Iskra-ist elements in St. Petersburg) a stimulus to publish Rabochaya Mysl also as an “explanatory,” popular, etc., paper? And this at a time when St. Petersburg is preparing to discontinue Rabochaya Mysl and at last get down to real work on Iskra. Won’t your efforts to arrange regular contributions to Iskra from Russia suffer as a result of your plans—and you know that without this collaboration Iskra cannot become a genuine Party organ; don’t forget either that, except for you, we have practically no one in view for this work. And if the Iskra-ists   don’t take this in hand, who will do so, and when? Finally, thrash out more thoroughly the question of whether the purposes of explanatory, propagandist, popular literature meant for the “average worker” (as you put it) are compatible with the purposes of a newspaper. That there must be literature specially designed for the average worker and the masses is indisputable; but this can be only in the form of leaflets and pamphlets, since it is impossible for a newspaper properly to explain every question to the aver age worker. For this we must begin from the beginning, with the ABC, and go straight through to the end, carefully and thorougly examining all aspects of a question. A newspaper would scarcely be in a position to do this even if it were as sured of ideal conditions with regard to literary forces. Don’t forget, lastly, that what you do, whether you desire it or not, will be of all-Russian importance, and that all talk, notions, and theories about special papers “for the intelligentsia” and “for the workers” may play a most pernicious part, not only irrespectively of your desires, but even despite anything you may do to counteract it personally. After all, there is only a handful like you among the Russian Social-Democrats, while among the mass of the Russian Social-Democrats there is still a very great deal of narrow-mindedness of all kinds. We do not, of course, intend to limit ourselves to these cursory remarks on a question of such importance, but we only ask you not to unduly hasten your decision, and to discuss the matter from all angles. We consider it even desirable to preserve a separate group (the Editorial Board of Yuzhny Rabochy) at least until the Party congress, but this group should not be in a hurry with its paper.


[1] Yuzhny Rabochy (Southern Worker)—a Social-Democratic news paper, published illegally from January 1900 to April 1903 by a group of this name. Twelve numbers were issued. I. K. Lala yants, A. Vilensky (“Ilya”), 0. A. Kogan (Yermansky), B. S. Tseitlin (Batursky), E. Y. and E. S. Levin, V. N. Rozanov, and others were at various times editors and contributors.

Yuzhny Rabochy started as the “Ekaterinoslav Workers’ News paper” (the subtitle of the first two issues), and soon became an influential “organ of the working-class movement in South Russia.” The location of the newspaper’s print-shop was continually changed, being at different times in Ekaterinoslav, Sine lensk, Kishinev, Nikolayev, and elsewhere....

Yuzhny Rabochy opposed “economism” and terrorism and upheld the need to develop a mass revolutionary movement. But, in opposition to the Iskra plan of creating in Russia a centralised Marxist party round an all-Russian political newspaper, the Yuzhny Rabochy group put forward a plan for restoring the R.S.D.L.P. by creating regional Social-Democratic associations. A practical attempt to realise this plan was made through convocation of the conference of committees and organisations of the R.S.D.L.P. in South Russia in December 1901, at which the League of Southern Committees and Organisations of the R.S.D.L.P. was formed, with Yuzhny Rabochy as its organ. The attempt proved impracticable (as was the entire organisational plan of Yuzhny Rabochy) and after the mass police raids in the spring of 1902, the League disintegrated. In August 1902, those members of Yuzhny Rabochy’s Editorial Board who were at large entered into negotiations with the Iskra Editorial Board on joint work to restore the unity of Russian Social-Democracy. The declaration of the Yuzhny Rabochy group on solidarity with Iskra (published in Iskra, No. 27, November 1, 1902, and in Yuzhny Rabochy, No. 10, December 1902) was of great importance in consolidating the Social-Democratic forces in Russia. In November 1902, the Yuzhny Rabochy group, together with the Russian Iskra organisation, the St. Petersburg Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. and the Northern League of the R.S.D.L.P. participated in restoring the Organising Committee and in its activities in convening the Second Party Congress.

The Yuzhny Rabochy group conducted extensive revolutionary work in Russia, but at the same time it displayed opportunist tendencies in deciding the question of the attitude to the liberal bourgeoisie and to the peasant movement, and hatched a separatist plan to set up an all-Russian newspaper parallel to Iskra.

At the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., the Yuzhny Rabochy delegates adopted a “Centre” position (Lenin called the representatives of the Centre “opportunist middlemen”). The Second Congress decided to dissolve the Yuzhny Rabochy group as well as all separate Social-Democratic groups and organisations.

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