V. I.   Lenin




Published: First published in 1925. Sent from Paris to Berlin. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, page 397.
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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May 18, 1909

Werte Genossin,

I sent you yesterday by registered book-post a copy of my book on philosophy—in memory of our conversation about Mach when we last met.[3]

If possible, I should like to ask you to write a note about this book for Neue Zeit[4] for the “Verzeichnis der in der Redaktion eingelaufenen Druck-Schriften”= [1] . If this necessitates any formality, such as sending the book direct to the editors (who do not understand Russian), please drop me a line about it and I shall try to send a special copy to the editors of Neue Zeit,

You, of course, have heard from Comrade Tyszka about our internal struggle among the Bolsheviks. Your article against the otzovists and ultimatumists[5] has pleased everyone very much[6]; it is a pity that you write so rarely in Russian; you prefer the rich Social-Democratic Party of the Germans to the poor Social-Democratic Party of the Russians.

All the best! Regards to Tyszka. With greetings. N. Lenin

P.S. The note of Die Neue Zeit editors to Rothstein’s (excellent) article in No. 33 leads me to think that Kautsky himself is none too pleased now with his defence of the I.L.P. in Brussels[7].... Am I right?


[1]List of printed matter received by the editorial board.”—Ed.

[2] Luxemburg, Rosa (1871–1919)—a prominent member of the international labour movement, one of the leaders of the Left wing of the Second International. Started revolutionary activities in the late eighties, was one of the founders and leaders of the Social-Democratic Party of Poland. From 1897 took an active part in the German Social-Democratic movement.

After the revolution of November 1918 in Germany took a leading part in the Inaugural Congress of the Communist Party of Germany. In January 1919 she was arrested and killed by order of the Scheidemann government.

[3] Lenin and Krupskaya visited Rosa Luxemburg early in January 1908 when they stopped over in Berlin on their way to Geneva from Stockholm.

[4] The notice (note) concerning the appearance of Lenin’s. book Materialism and Empirio-Criticism was published in the journal Die Neue Zeit, 1. Band, No. 2, October 8, 1909.

[5] Otzovists (from the Russian word otzovat—recall)—the name given to some of the Bolsheviks (Bogdanov, Pokrovsky, Lunacharsky, Bubnov and others) who demanded that the Social-Democratic deputies in the Third Duma should be recalled and that work in the legal organisations should be stopped. In 1908 the otzovists formed a group of their own and waged a struggle against Lenin. They emphatically refused to sit in the Duma or work in the trade unions, co-operative societies and other mass legal and semi-legal organisations of the workers. They strove to shut themselves up within the framework of the illegal organisation: to tear the Party away from the non-party masses and expose it to the attacks of reaction. Lenin called the otzovists “liquidators of a new type” and “Mensheviks inside out”.

A variety of otzovism was ultimatumism. The ultimatumists differed from the otzovists only in form. They proposed that an ultimatum should first be presented to the Social-Democratic group in the Duma and if it was not complied with, the Social-Democratic deputies should be recalled from the Duma.

Ultimatumism was virtually otzovism in disguise. Lenin called the ultimatumists “bashful otzovists”.

In the spring of 1909 the otzovists, ultimatumists and god-builders formed a promotion group to organise an anti-Party school on the Isle of Capri (Bogdanov, Alexinsky, Lunacharsky and others). This group, in effect, was the centre of the anti-Party faction of otzovists, ultimatumists, and god-builders.

A meeting of the extended editorial board of Proletary held in June 1909 adopted a decision that “Bolshevism, as a definite tendency in the R.S.D.L.P. has nothing in common with otzovism or ultimatumism” and called upon the Bolsheviks to resolutely combat this defection from revolutionary Marxism. Bogdanov (Maximov), the guiding spirit of otzovism, was expelled from the ranks of the Bolsheviks.

Later, in his book “Left-Wing” Communism—an Infantile Disorder, Lenin wrote that the Bolsheviks were able to make an orderly retreat and preserve their forces after the failure of the revolution because “they ruthlessly exposed and expelled the revolutionary phrase-mongers, those who did not wish to understand that one had to retreat, that one had to know how to retreat, and that one had absolutely to learn how to work legally in the most reactionary of parliaments, in the most reactionary of trade unions, co-operative and insurance societies and similar organisations”^^(see Vol. 31, p. 28, of this edition)^^.

[6] The article referred to was “Revolutionary Hangover” published in Proletary No. 44, April 8 (21), 1909.

[7] The reference is to Kautsky’s stand at the meeting of the International Socialist Bureau on October 11, 1908 on the question of the British Labour Party’s membership of the Second International. This is dealt within Lenin’s article “Meeting of the International Socialist Bureau”^^(see Vol. 15 of this edition)^^.

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