V. I.   Lenin



To the Siberian Committee from N. Lenin

Published: First published in 1930. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 259-263.
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

Geneva, October 30, 1904


I should like through you to answer Comrade Simonov, who was here as a representative of the Siberian Union and who, before departing, left me a letter (I was not in Geneva at the time) setting out his conciliatory point of view. It is this letter, the contents of which are probably known to you from Comrade Simonov, that I should like to talk to you about. Comrade Simonov’s point of view amounts to this: they (the Minority) are, of course, anarchists and disrupters, but there is nothing to be done with them; a “truce” is necessary (Simonov stresses that, in contrast to other conciliators, he does not speak of peace but of a truce) in order to find some way out of an intolerable situation, and to gather strength for a further struggle against the Minority.

I found Simonov’s letter extremely instructive as coming from such a rarity as a sincere supporter of conciliation. There is so much hypocrisy among the conciliators that one finds it refreshing to meet the views (even if incorrect) of a man who says what he thinks. And his views are certainly incorrect. He himself realises that it is impossible to be reconciled with falsehood, confusion and squabbling, but what is the sense of talking about a truce? For the Minority will use such a truce merely for strengthening their positions. Factional polemics (cessation of which was hypocritically promised by the hypocritical C.C. in its recent letter to the committees, a letter that you too have prob-   ably already received) have not ceased but have assumed the especially vile forms that were condemned even by Kautsky, who sides with the Minority. Even K. Kautsky said in his letter to Iskra that a “hidden” polemic is worse than any other, for the issue becomes confused, hints re main obscure, straightforward answers are impossible. And take Iskra; the leading article in No. 75, the subject of which is very remote from our differences, will be found interspersed, without rhyme or reason, with senilely embittered abuse against the Ivanovs on the Council, the sheer ignoramuses, etc., etc. From the standpoint of our deserters from the C.C., this, probably, is not factional polemics! I say nothing, in substance, of the arguments used by the author of the leading article (apparently Plekhanov): that Marx was mild towards the Proudhonists. Can you imagine a falser use of historical facts and great names of history? What would Marx have said if the slogan of mildness was used to cover up muddling the distinction between Marxism and Proudhonism? (And is not the new Iskra wholly occupied in muddling the distinction between Rabocheye Dyeloism and Iskrism?) What would Marx have said if mildness had been made a cover for asserting in print the correctness of Proudhonism against Marxism? (And is not Plekhanov now playing the fox in print by pretending to recognise that the Minority is correct in principle?) By this comparison alone Plekhanov gives himself away, betrays the fact that the relation of the Majority to the Minority is equivalent to the relation of Marxism to Proudhonism, to that very relation of the revolutionary to the opportunist wing which figures also in that memorable article “What Should Not Be Done”. Take the decisions of the Party Council (No. 73 and the supplement to Nos. 73-74) and you will see that the cessation of the Minority’s secret organisation, proclaimed in the above-mentioned letter of the C.C. to the committees, signifies nothing but the passing of three C.C. members into the secret organisation of the Minority. In this sense the secret organisation has really disappeared, for all three of our so-called central institutions—not only the C.C. and the Council, but also the Central Committee—have now become a secret organisation (for struggle against the Party). In the name of a struggle (“on prin-   ciple”) against formalism and bureaucracy, they are now declaring war on the “headings”, declaring that the publishing house of the Majority is not a Party one. They falsify the congress, counting the votes falsely (16 x4==61, for five members of the Council figure in the total 61, but in half the organisations the Council figures as an organisation with two votes!), concealing the resolutions of the committees from the Party (it is concealed that Nizhni-Novgorod, Saratov, Nikolayev and the Caucasus were in favour of a congress: see the last resolutions in our pamphlet To the Party and The Fight for a Congress [1]). They bring squabbling into the Council, interminably distorting the question of representation at the Amsterdam Congress [2]and having the audacity to publish charges of “deceit” against the Northern Committee, when this incident had not only not been investigated (although the C.C. had decided to investigate it as far back as July), but the comrade accused by some slanderer has so far not even been questioned (during three months, August, September and October, this comrade was abroad and saw Central Committee member Glebov, who had taken the decision for an investigation but did not take the trouble to present the charges to the accused person himself!). They encourage disruption in the name of the Council, inciting the “periphery” to attack the Majority committees, and uttering a deliberate lie about St. Petersburg and Odessa. They condemn as an “abuse” the voting of one and the same comrades in different committees, when at the same time three Council members—Plekhanov, Martov and Axelrod—vote three times against a congress: once on the editorial board, once in the Council and once in the League! They assume the powers of a congress by declaring credentials invalid. Isn’t that falsifying the congress? And can it be that Comrade Simonov would advise a truce in relation to these tactics as well?

Take the report to the Amsterdam Congress [3]which has recently been issued in Russian. Deliberately flouting the will of the Party, the Minority speak in the name of the Party, repeating in a covert form the same lie about the old Iskra which was always being propagated by Martynov and Co., and which is now being served up by Balalaikin-   Trotsky. Or maybe Comrade Simonov wants a truce with this Balalaikin too (whose pamphlet is published under the editorship of Iskra as plainly stated in Iskra)? Maybe here, too, he believes in the cessation of factional polemics promised by the C.C.?

No, the belief that a truce with hypocrisy and disruption is permissible is one that is unworthy of a Social Democrat and profoundly erroneous at bottom. It is faint heartedness to think that “there is nothing to be done” with writers, even notable ones, and that the only tactic left in relation to them is that formulated by Galyorka (“Down with Bonapartism”) in the words “You curse but bow down”. To the conversion of all the Party’s central institutions into a secret organisation for struggle against the Party, to the Council’s falsification of the congress, the Majority replies by a further and inevitable strengthening of its unity. Disdaining hypocrisy, it openly puts for ward a programme of struggle (see the resolution of the 22 endorsed by the Caucasian Union,= [4]and the Committees of St. Petersburg, Riga, Moscow, Odessa, Ekaterinoslav and Nikolayev. The C.O., of course, concealed this resolution from the Party although it received it two months ago). The southern committees have already taken a decision to unite the committees of the Majority and to set up an Organising Committee to combat the flouting of the Party. There is not the slightest doubt that such an organisation of the Majority will be set up in the near future and will act openly. Despite the lying stories of deserters from the C.C., the adherents of the Majority are growing in number in Russia, and the young literary forces, repelled by the muddled and hypocritical Iskra, are beginning to rally from all sides to the newly-started publishing house of the Majority (the publishing house abroad of Bonch-Bruyevich and Lenin) with the aim of giving it every possible support by transforming, enlarging and developing it.

Comrade Simonov had no reason to be down-hearted. He was wrong to jump to the conclusion that, however nasty it was, there was nothing to be done about it. There is something to be done! The more grossly they flout the idea of a congress (Balalaikin-Trotsky, writing under the editorship of Iskra, has already declared a congress to be   a reactionary attempt to reinforce the plans of the Iskrists. Ryazanov was more sincere and honest when he called the congress a packed affair) and the more grossly they flout the Party and its functionaries in Russia, the more merciless becomes the rebuff they encounter and the more closely does the Majority rally its ranks, uniting all per sons of principle and recoiling from the unnatural and intrinsically rotten political alliance of Plekhanov, Martynov and Trotsky. It is precisely such an alliance that we see now in the new Iskra and in Zarya No. 5 (a reprint of Martynov’s article has appeared). Anyone who sees a little further than his nose, whose policy is not determined by interests of the minute and coalitions of the hour, will understand that this alliance, which breeds only confusion and squabbles, is doomed, and that the adherents of the trend of the old Iskra, people who are able to distinguish this trend from a circle even of notable “foreigners”, must and will be the grave-diggers of this alliance.

I should be very glad, comrades, if you would inform me of the receipt of this letter and whether you have succeeded in forwarding it to Comrade Simonov.

With comradely greetings,
N. Lenin


[1] This refers to the pamphlet To the Party, in which the appeal under the same heading written by Lenin was published ^^(see Vol. 7 of this edition)^^, and N. Shakhov’s pamphlet The Fight for a Congress, to which Lenin wrote a preface ^^(see Vol. 7 of this edition)^^.

[2] The question of representation at the Amsterdam Congress was this: The Party Council, in its September decision, accused Lenin, Lyadov and Krasikov of a breach of Party discipline, expressed in their applying directly to the International Socialist Bureau on the question of Lenin transferring his mandate to the Congress. The Council further maintained that Lenin demanded for himself, as a representative of the C.C., the right to attend the Congress “at a time when he was already in antagonism with the Central Committee”. Actually, Lenin sent representatives to the Congress early in August, that is, before his conflict with the conciliator section of the C.C., which took place towards the end of August.

[3] This refers to the Report of the Delegation of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party to the Amsterdam International Socialist Congress (August l4–20, 1904), Geneva, 1904.

[4] The Caucasian S.D. Union united the working-class organisations of the Caucasus (Tiflis, Baku, Batum, Kutais, Guria, etc.). At the first Congress of the Caucasian Union held in March 1903 a leading Party organ was set up—the Caucasian Union Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.

Lenin and the Caucasian Union Committee were in constant and close contact. In September 1904 the C.U.C. supported the resolution of the meeting of the “22” and started agitation in favour of the immediate convocation of the Party’s Third Congress.

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