V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written in Geneva
Published: First published in 1926 in Lenin Miscellany V. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 149-153.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   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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September 15, 1905

Dear Comrades,

I have received the money, 1,000 rubles—2,640 francs— and the first issue of Rabochy. It makes an excellent impression. Let us hope that it will largely solve the difficult problem of providing a popular exposition which is not boring. There is something fresh in the tone and character of the exposition. A splendid fighting spirit. In short, let me congratulate you on this success with all my heart, and wish for more. So far, I have the following minor remarks: (1) a little more should be said about socialism, in view of the “explanatory” nature of the organ, and (2) the fighting political slogans should be more closely and directly tied in with the resolutions of the Third Congress, and with the general spirit of our revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics.

Now for your letter of Aug. 24, 1905,[2] which simply amazed us all by its tone. I. About information. You “can do nothing more”. That is not true, since we find that the Bund, and the Mensheviks, and a number of Bolsheviks can do more, and are doing it. It is a fact that the C.C. member abroad is not as well informed as the Bundists and Iskra. This should be put right, and maintained steadily through tireless effort. Here is the most recent example. We received your active boycott resolution just the other day.[3] People arriving from Russia have known about it since June! And you tell us that you “can do nothing more”? Its late arrival caused discordance between us, through no fault of mine, for, not knowing how you were   interpreting it, I gave a different interpretation of “active boycott” in Proletary.

There you have another fact of the two-centre situation which you have restored. In substance, the discordance turned out not to be great, but still it is undesirable on a question concerning the course of action of the whole Party. I believe it to be (1) extremely important and the only correct approach, from the point of view of the decisions of the Third Congress, to put forward directly, as the central point in the agitation campaign, the slogan of insurrection and a provisional revolutionary government. (2) I think it is quite wrong to advise that meetings of the electors should be “dispersed by force”. Such tactics would be fatal. One of the two things: either there are no conditions for using force on a sizable scale—in which case, we should confine ourselves to agitation, speeches, strikes and demonstrations, making an effort at persuading the electors and on no account “dispersing them”. Or conditions do exist for the use of force on any considerable scale—in which case the force must be directed, not against the electors, but against the police and the government. In that case, undertake an insurrection. Otherwise you risk landing in a most absurd situation: the workers “use force to break up” meetings of electors; the government uses force to defend them! This in practice shows the harmfulness of not advancing the straightforward and resolute slogan of insurrection, as a centre of agitation against the Duma: prepare for an insurrection, try to persuade everybody (including the electors as well) to prepare for an insurrection, explain its objectives, forms, methods, conditions, organs and preliminaries. But don’t use force to no purpose, before it has been accumulated, for if you haven’t convinced the electors, it is plain madness and suicide for the Social-Democrats to scatter them by force.

Furthermore. II. You write that you were not tricking the Organising Committee, but were doing the will of the Third Congress. I think that you are clearly wrong in this. I wrote to you as long ago as...[1] about the need to prepare

  the conditions for unification, and two congresses to give it effect (in the same place and at the same time, with an obligation on the part of each organisation to accept the decisions of its own congress). So there is no difference of opinion there. But it is a fact that you have forgotten about the secret resolution (I append it below) concerning the obligatory endorsement of the conditions of fusion by the Fourth Congress. That is what I have been insisting on. Two clauses of the Organising Committee’s statement—Clauses 2 and 3—(Letuchy Listok TsK[4] No. 3, p. 5) speak out directly against unification through a congress. This cannot be denied. But you, in your reply, say nothing at all of your disagreement! So the result is that you have set aside the resolution. That this is a mistake, and that it must be corrected, is beyond doubt.

Then there is another unquestionable mistake: the absence of any direct reply to the Organising Committee. You write that “it was a question of fusion on the basis of the Third Congress”. Have a heart, gentlemen! Why deceive yourselves? Why weaken your correct position by obvious hypocrisy?

Fusion on the basis of the Third Congress was rejected. It was offered here both by Vinter and by Vadim directly both to Plekhanov and to the Organising Committee. Given such a unification, there would have been a single C.O. (through his agents, Plekhanov even suggested a “trio” for it). Given such a unification, there would have been a single C.C., formed out of both halves as an essential condition, i.e., the “co-optation” would not have been co-optation but a real fusion.

But this was rejected. Consequently, there remains agreement up to the Fourth Congress, and fusion “on the basis of the Fourth Congress”. Instead of giving such a direct and clear reply and statement for all to hear, you evade the substance of the question by withholding your opinion from our people (for while the O.C. is patently proposing fusion not on the basis of the Third Congress, you reply: this is on the whole acceptable, good, let’s have another   talk about it!). Meanwhile you write to me: “Our ultimatum was the Rules of the Third Congress.” And you don’t call that self-deception? Why, if you say it in public, in the first place, all the Bolsheviks will laugh you out of court, and, in the second place, the Mensheviks will reply to you in such fashion that all your good intentions about fusion will go to the devil!

In my opinion, it is better to tell the Party frankly: to our regret, they have rejected unification on the basis of the Third Congress. Let’s set about preparing for the Fourth Congress in such a way as to have two congresses assemble at the same time and in the same place. Let’s work out a plan of unification. Let’s say, in all parallel organisations everywhere there are equal numbers of both groups (à la Nikolayev[5]). If so, draw up a list of parallel organisations, a complete list, and poll all of them. Then there is a Central Committee, shall we say, also half–and– half, i.e., in equal numbers. With complete unification, there can be no objection in principle to “co-optation” of that kind (though in practice the question is more complicated and one must know how many parallel organisations there are, etc). (In parenthesis: it’s a great pity that in No. 1 of Letuchy Listok you boasted that 2/3 of the Party are on our side. Thereby you prejudiced any future acceptance of the “half-and-half” principle on your part. And were you really telling the truth about the 2/3?) Furthermore, the C.O. With fusion it would be absurd, in my opinion, to have two Central Organs and I believe it possible that the Bolsheviks will prefer, rather than have this absurd situation, to have their own organ issued by several committees, in accordance with the Party Rules. If there are two rival Central Organs, unification will be a dead letter. In that event, it is better to have “agreement”, on a basis similar to that at Nikolayev, i.e., everywhere unification or conciliation commissions, with equal numbers from both sides.

III. About money. We were all thunderstruck by your statement that the C.O. must be published “on resources from abroad”, and that the bankruptcy of the C.C. must begin with the C.O. You write that this is not irritation and not a rebuke. Give me leave not to believe you. To say this   calmly, coolly and in all seriousness is to proclaim a rupture between the C.O. and the Party, and this is something you could not wish. It is something unheard of to have the Party’s C.O. published not with the Party’s resources, but on funds abroad, and to decide that the bankruptcy of the Party must begin (rather than end) with the C.O. If we were to take this seriously, instead of regarding it merely as a sign of nervousness on account of temporary difficulties (for in general your turnover is a “fat” one, and your prospects both of the 60,000 arid the “undertaking” are three times “fatter”), we should have to take immediate steps to start publication “on resources from abroad ” of an organ of the Committee of the Organisation Abroad. But, I repeat, I regard this monstrous outburst on your part only as a state of nerves, and will await our personal meeting, since, in my opinion, it is not the beginning of a break, but a misunderstanding.

Best wishes,
N. Lenin


[1] A space was left in the MS. after “as long ago as” for the date of the letter to the Central Committee—July 28 (see present edition, Vol.  34, pp. 320–22). N. K. Krupskaya crossed out “as long ago as” and wrote “earlier” over it.—Ed.

[2] The Central Committee’s letter of August 24 (September 6), 1905, was signed by three members of the C.C. (A. A. Bogdanov, D. S. Postolovsky and L. B. Krasin). It was in reply to Lenin’s Letter of August 1 (14), 1905 (see present edition, Vol. 34, pp. 326–27).

[3] The Central Committee resolution, entitled “The Central Committee on the Duma”, was published in Proletary (The Proletarian) No. 19, October 3 (September 20), 1905.

[4] Letuchy Listok TsK RSDRP (Leaflet of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.) was issued at various intervals and dealt with current tactical and organisational questions in the light of the decisions of the Party’s Third Congress. There were four issues in all.

[5] A reference to the agreement between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks in Nikolayev on joint political action. Both committees appointed representatives to a commission, called “United Organisation of Social-Democrats of the Town of Nikolayev”, with the task of working out a plan for joint action and agitation connected with it. To ensure the preparations for the action, the commission set up a technical group, a funds commission, and a combat group.

A report from Nikolayev on this agreement was published in the “From the Party” section of Proletary No. 9 of July 26 (13), 1905.

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