V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written at the end of October 1905, in Geneva (local mail)
Published: First published in 1926. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 363-366.
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

Dear Georgi Valentinovich,

I am writing this letter to you because I am convinced that the need for Social-Democratic unity is a question that can no longer be put off, and the possibility for it is now greater than ever. Two reasons prevent me from further postponing a direct approach to you: 1) the founding of a legal Social-Democratic newspaper, Novaya Zhizn, in St. Petersburg, and 2) the events of the last few days.[1] Even if these events do not lead to our returning to Russia very soon, at any rate this return is now very, very near, and the Social-Democratic newspaper provides an immediate basis for the most serious joint work.

That we Bolsheviks earnestly desire to work together with you is something I need hardly repeat to you. I have written to St. Petersburg asking all the editors of the new newspaper (at present there are seven of them: Bogdanov, Rumyantsev, Bazarov, Lunacharsky, Orlovsky, Olminsky and myself) to send you a joint and official request to join the editorial board. But events will not wait, postal communication is interrupted, and I do not think I am justified in postponing an essential step for what is really a mere formality. In fact, I am absolutely sure of general agreement and joy on account of this proposal. I am very well aware that all Bolsheviks have always regarded disagreement with you as something temporary, due to exceptional circumstances. It goes without saying, the struggle often involved us in steps, statements and actions which were bound to make future unity more difficult, but there has always been a readiness on our part to unite, a consciousness of the extreme abnormality of the best force among Russian   Social-Democrats standing aloof from the work, a consciousness of the entire movement’s extreme need of your guiding, close and immediate participation. And we all firmly believe that if not today, then tomorrow, and if not tomorrow, then the day after, our union with you will come about despite all difficulties and obstacles.

But it would be better if it were today rather than tomorrow. Things have now taken such a turn that we may be too late, and we intend to exert every effort not to be late.

Would you care to work together with us? I should be extremely glad if you would agree to meet me and talk this over. I am confident that a personal meeting would remove many misunderstandings, and many seeming difficulties in the way of unity would vanish at once. But should you not agree in general, or not agree just now, I venture to take the liberty of touching on some of these difficulties in advance.

These difficulties are: 1) Your disagreements with many members of the new editorial board. 2) Your disinclination to join either of the two halves of the Social-Democratic Party.—The first difficulty, I think, is wholly removable. We are in agreement with you on approximately nine-tenths of the questions of theory and tactics, and to quarrel over one-tenth is not worth while. You wanted, and still want, to correct some assertions, which you regard as erroneous, in my writings. But nowhere at any time have I gone out of my way specially to impose my views on any Social-Democrat, and none, positively none, of the new editors has entered into an engagement to be “Leninist”. Barsov’s speech at the Third Congress was an expression of the general view in this respect. You consider that the philosophical views of three of the seven persons mentioned are erroneous.[2] But these three, too, have not attempted, and are not attempting, to link these views of theirs with any official Party matter. And these three—I am not speaking at random but on the basis of precise knowledge of the facts—would be extremely glad to work jointly with you. For you and us to part company politically now, at a time when your general sympathy with the views of the Majority is known, among other things, from your lecture, is evident from your latest writings, and is evident indi-   rectly from the position adopted by Parvus, who is perhaps most in agreement with you—to part company politically now would be extremely undesirable, extremely inopportune, and extremely harmful for the Social-Democratic movement.

And a new legal newspaper, which will have an audience of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of workers—indeed, all the coming work in Russia at a time when your immense knowledge and vast political experience are terribly needed by the Russian proletariat—all this will provide new ground, on which it will be so much easier to forget the past and work together on a real live job. To pass from work in Geneva to work in St. Petersburg is a transition that is exceptionally favourable, psychologically and from the Party standpoint, for going over from disunity to unity, and I very much hope that we shall not miss such an opportunity, which has not occurred since the Second Congress and which, probably, will not occur again so soon.

Here, however, is the second difficulty. Perhaps you do not want unity with one half of the Party. You will demand unity of the whole Party as a conditio sine qua non for your participation in the work. You are quite right in holding that such unity is desirable and necessary. But is it possible at present? You yourself are inclined to answer this in the negative, for not long ago you were proposing a federation. Today the broadest tribune for our influence on the proletariat is a daily newspaper in St. Petersburg (we shall be in a position to issue it in an edition of 100,000 copies and bring the price down to one kopek). Is a joint editorial board with the Mensheviks conceivable at present? We think it is not. And so do the Mensheviks. And so do you, judging from your proposal for a federation. Are three newspapers really necessary? Cannot we get together for a political organ of revolutionary Social-Democracy when there are really no organisational disagreements between us, and the Party’s coming out into the open tomorrow will dispel all lingering fears about conspiracy. And the revolution itself will sweep away our tactical differences with astonishing speed; besides, you have not expressed any disagreement with the resolutions of the Third Congress;   and these resolutions, after all, are the sole Party directive that unites all of us Bolsheviks.

It seems to me that under such circumstances your coming over to us is fully possible, and it will not make future unity more difficult, but will rather facilitate and accelerate it. Instead of the present struggle, which is being protracted owing to your standing aloof, the revolutionary Social-Democratic movement as a whole will be in a stronger position. The struggle, too, will gain by it by becoming steadier, more disciplined. The general body of Social- Democrats will at once feel confident, hopeful—a different atmosphere will immediately be created, and the new newspaper, hour by hour, will win for itself a leading position in the Social-Democratic movement, without looking backwards, without going into details of the past, but only firmly and steadfastly leading the working class in the present arena of struggle.

I conclude by once again asking you to agree to meet me and by expressing the general confidence of us Bolsheviks in the usefulness, importance and necessity of working jointly with you.

Sincerely yours,
V. Ulyanov


[1] The events of the last few days apply to the general political strike in Russia in October 1905.

[2] The three persons were A. Bogdanov, V. Bazarov and A. Lunacharsky.

< backward   forward >
Works Index   |   Volume 34 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index