First published in 1924.
Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 403-404.
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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November 16, 1909
Dear Alexei Maximovich,
I have been fully convinced all the time that you and Comrade Mikhail were the most hardened factionalists of the new faction, with whom it would be silly of me to try and talk in a friendly way. Today for the first time I met Comrade Mikhail, and had a heart-to-heart chat with him both about affairs and about you, and I perceived that I had been cruelly mistaken. Believe me, the philosopher Hegel was right: life proceeds by contradictions, and living contradictions are so much richer, more varied and deeper in content than they may seem at first sight to a man’s mind. I regarded the school as merely the centre of a new faction. This has turned out to be wrong—not in the sense that it was not the centre of a new faction (the school was this centre and is so at the present time), but in the sense that this was incomplete, not the whole truth. Subjectively, certain people made such a centre out of the school, objectively, it was such, but in addition the school drew to it real front-rank workers from real working-class life. What happened was that, besides the contradiction between the old and the new faction, a contradiction developed on Capri, between some of the Social-Democratic intellectuals and the workers from Russia, who will bring Social-Democracy on to the true path at all costs and whatever happens, and who will do so despite all the squabbling and dissension abroad, despite the “incidents”, and so on and so forth. People like Mikhail are a guarantee of it. Moreover, it turned out that a contradiction developed in the school between elements of the Capri Social-Democratic intelligentsia.
I gathered from Mikhail that you are taking things hard, dear A. M. You have seen the working class and Social-Democratic movement from an aspect and in forms and manifestations which already more than once in the history of Russia and Western Europe have led intellectuals of little faith to despair of the workers’ movement and Social-Democracy. I am confident that this will not happen in your case, and after my talk with Mikhail I want to shake your hand heartily. With your gifts as an artist you have rendered such a tremendous service to the working-class movement of Russia—and indeed not only of Russia—and will render a still greater service yet, that it is on no account permissible for you to fall a prey to moods of depression evoked by episodes of the struggle abroad. Conditions occur when the course of the working-class movement inevitably gives rise to this struggle abroad, and to splits, dissension and the quarrelling among the circles —but this is not because of the workers’ movement being intrinsically weak or Social-Democracy intrinsically erroneous, but because the elements out of which the working class has to forge its Party are too heterogeneous and diverse in calibre. The working class will forge it in any case, it will forge an excellent revolutionary Social-Democratic Party in Russia, and it will do so more speedily than Sometimes seems likely from the standpoint of the thrice-accursed emigrant position; it will forge it more surely than might be imagined if one were to judge by some external manifestations and individual episodes. People like Mikhail are a guarantee of that.
All the very best to you and to Maria Fyodorovna. I am now hopeful that we shall meet again and not as enemies.
Wl. Oulianoff, 4, Rue Marie Rose, 4, Paris, XIV