V. I.   Lenin



To Alex. Nikolayevich

Published: First published in a shortened version in 1904 in the pamphlet: V. I. Lenin, One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, and in full in 1927. Sent from Geneva to Montreux (Switzerland). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 164-166.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: D. Moros
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.README

September 13, 1903

I tried to have a talk with Y. O. recently, when the atmosphere of the impending split was already in full evidence, and I want to try to have a talk with you too, in the hope that you, like Y. O., would not be averse to making an attempt at explanation. If this hope is unfounded, you will, of course, let me know, but meanwhile I shall do what I consider necessary.

The refusal of Martov to serve on the editorial board, his refusal and that of other Party writers to collaborate, the refusal of a number of persons to work for the Central Committee, and the propaganda of a boycott or passive resistance are bound to lead, even if against the wishes of Martov and his friends, to a split in the Party. Even if Martov adheres to a loyal stand (which he took up so resolutely at the Congress), others will not, and the out come I have mentioned will be inevitable. (Not for nothing, by the way, does Auntie, too, write about “building a new hearth”.)

And so I ask myself: over what, in point of fact, would we be parting company as enemies for life? I go over all the events and impressions of the Congress,[1] I realise that I often behaved and acted in a state of frightful irritation, “frenziedly”; I am quite willing to admit this fault of mine to anyone, if that can be called a fault which was a natural product of the atmosphere, the reactions, the in terjections, the struggle, etc. But examining now, quite unfrenziedly, the results attained, the outcome achieved by frenzied struggle, I can detect nothing, absolutely nothing   in these results that is injurious to the Party, and absolutely nothing that is an affront or insult to the Minority.

Of course, the very fact of finding oneself in the minority could not but be vexatious, but I categorically protest against the idea that we “cast slurs” on anybody, that we wanted to insult or humiliate anybody. Nothing of the kind. And one should not allow political differences to lead to an interpretation of events based on accusing the other side of unscrupulousness, chicanery, intrigue and other pleasantries we are hearing mentioned more and more often in this atmosphere of an impending split. This should not be allowed, for it is, to say the least, the nec plus ultra of irrationality.

Martov and I have had a political (and organisational) difference, as we had dozens of times before. Defeated over 1 of the Rules, I could not but strive with all my might for revanche in what remained to me (and to the Congress). I could not but strive, on the one hand, for a strictly Iskrist Central Committee, and, on the other, for a trio on the editorial board that would remove the very cause of our old, hopeless quarrels, that would unite per sons of whom each has his own political line, of whom each makes decisions and will always make decisions “with out regard for persons” and in keeping with his own extreme conviction.

I said (during our conversation with you and Y. O. about the trio before the Congress) that I regarded the inclusion in the Six of an absentee member[2] as most harmful of all for the work; I also took exception at the time, very strong exception, to Zasulich’s highly personal attitude (although Y. O. has forgotten it); I said quite definitely (when you named the most probable elected trio) that I too considered it the most probable and that even if it remained alone, without going in for any co-optation (although at the time we mentioned one of the possible cooptations), I saw nothing bad in that. Yuli Osipovich has forgotten this last statement of mine too, but I remember it very well. But it is, of course, useless to argue about this. That is not important; what is important is that with such a trio not one of those painful, long-drawn-out, hope less quarrels with which we began the work of Iskra in 1900 and which were often repeated, making it impossible for   us to work for months on end—a single one of such quarrels would be possible. That is why I consider this trio the only business-like arrangement, the only one capable of being an official institution, instead of a body based on indulgence and slackness, the only one to be a real centre, each member of which, I repeat, would always state and defend his Party viewpoint, not one grain more, and irrespective of all personal motives, all considerations concerning grievances, resignations, and so on.

This trio, after what had occurred at the Congress, undoubtedly meant legitimising a political and organisational line in one respect directed against Martov. Undoubtedly. Cause a rupture on that account? Break up the Party be cause of it? Did not Martov and Plekhanov oppose me over the question of demonstrations? And did not Martov and I oppose Plekhanov over the question of the programme? Is not one side of every trio always up against the other two?

If the majority of the Iskrists, both in the Iskra organisation and at the Congress, found this particular shade of Martov’s line organisationally and politically mistaken, is it not really senseless to attempt to attribute this to “intrigue”, “incitement”, and so forth? Would it not be senseless to try to talk away this fact by abusing the Majority and calling them “riffraff”

I repeat that, like the majority of the Iskrists at the Congress, I am profoundly convinced that the line Martov adopted was wrong, and that he had to be corrected. To take offence at this correction, to regard it as an insult, etc., is unreasonable. We have not cast, and are not casting, any “slurs” on anyone, nor are we excluding anyone from work. And to cause a split because someone has been excluded from a central body seems to me a piece of inconceivable folly.



[1] Meaning the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. held on July 17 (30)-August 10 (23), 1903, first in Brussels, then in London.

[2] This refers to P. B. Axelrod.

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