V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in l934. Sent from Geneva to Italy. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 323-325.
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.
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August 2, 1905

Dear An. Vas.,

Yesterday I sent you a “business” letter and asked for Iskra No. 105 [1] and Plekhanov’s L. Feuerbach [2] to be sent to you. Today I’d like to talk to you on things other than current petty business.

Our people in Geneva are down in the dumps. It’s surprising how little is needed for people who are not quite self-dependent and not used to independent political work, to lose heart and start moping. And our Geneva Bolsheviks are terrible mopers. A serious struggle is on, which the Third Congress, of course, did not put an end to a-nd merely opened a new phase of it; the Iskrists are lively busybodies, brazen as hucksters, well skilled by long experience in demagogy—whereas among our people a kind of “conscientious stupidity” or “stupid conscientiousness” prevails. They can’t put up a fight, they’re awkward, inactive, clumsy, timid.... They’re good fellows, but no damn’d good whatever as politicians. They lack tenacity, fighting spirit, nimbleness and speed. Vas. Vas. is extremely typical in this respect: a charming fellow, an utterly devoted worker and honest man, but he’ll never make a politician, I’m afraid. He’s much too kind—one can hardly believe that the “Galyorka” pamphlets were written by him. He brings   no fighting spirit either to the newspaper (he is always regretting that I do not allow him to write kind articles about the Bund!) or to the colony. A spirit of despondency reigns and I am for ever being reproached (I have only been three weeks in the country, and travel to town for four to five hours three and sometimes four times a week!) because things are not going well with them, because the Mensheviks are smarter, etc., etc.!

And our C.C., for one thing, is not much of a “politician” either, it’s much too kind, it, too, suffers from a lack of tenacity, resourcefulness and sensitivity, from inability to take political advantage of every trifle in the Party struggle. Secondly, it has a lofty contempt for us “foreigners” and keeps all the best people away from us or takes them from here. And we here abroad, find ourselves behindhand. There is not enough ferment, stimulus or impulse. People are incapable of acting and fighting by themselves. We are short of speakers at our meetings. There is no one to pour cheer into people, to raise key issues, no one capable of lifting them above the Geneva marsh into the sphere of more serious interests and problems. And the whole work suffers. In political struggle a halt is fatal. There are thou sands of demands and they are continually increasing. The new-Iskrists are not dozing (they have now “intercepted” the sailors[5] who arrived in Geneva, have enticed them, probably by their usual political showmanship and overloud marktschreien [3] , “utilising” post facto the Odessa events for the benefit of their coterie). We are impossibly short of people. I don’t know when Vas. Vas. intends to write, but as a speaker and political centre he is beneath criticism. He is more likely to spread despondency among people than to rouse them and call them to order. Schwarz is absent; he writes from over there zealously and well, even better than he did here, I should say, but that’s all he does. As for personally exercising an influence on people and being able to direct them and meetings, he is rarely capable of doing that even when in Geneva. It is a large, important centre here. There are lots of Russians. Crowds of travellers. Summer is an especially busy time, for among   the multitude of Russian tourists coming to Geneva there is a certain percentage of people who should and could be made use of, aroused, drawn in and guided.

Think it over and write to me in greater detail (preferably to my private address: 3. Rue David Dufour). Do you re member writing me that your absence from Geneva would be no loss, because you wrote a lot even from afar. You do write a lot, and we keep the newspaper going somehow (just somehow and no more, though we desperately need a lot more). But not only is there a loss, but a tremendous loss, which is felt more and more sharply every day. Personal influence and speaking at meetings make all the difference in politics. Without them there is no political activity and even writing itself becomes less political. Faced by an enemy who has powerful forces abroad, we are losing more ground each week than we can probably make up in a month. The fight for the Party is not over, and it will not be brought to real victory without straining every nerve....

All the best.


[1] The leading article is said to be utter piffle! Will you write something against it as quickly as possible? If you agree, send a telegram. —Lenin

[2] Meaning Plekhanov’s preface to the second Russian edition of Engels’s pamphlet Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy.—Ed.

[3] Mountebank crying of wares.—Ed.

[4] Lunacharsky, Anatoly Vasilievich (1875-1933)—joined the revolutionary movement in the early nineties. After the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. (1903) a Bolshevik. Member of the editorial boards of the Bolshevik newspapers Vperyod, Proletary and later Novaya Zhizn. During the reaction deviated from Marxism and participated in the anti-Party Vperyod group. Advocated the combination of Marxism with religion. Lenin sharply criticised Lunacharsky’s views in his book Materialism and Empirio-criticism (1909). In 1917 Lunacharsky was enrolled in the Party at the Sixth Congress.

After the October Socialist Revolution a prominent Soviet statesman.

[5] Meaning the participants in the mutiny aboard the armoured cruiser Potemkin.

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