V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written not earlier than November 20, 1909
Published: 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 405-406.
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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Dear A. M.,

You are wrong in asking me to come over. Why should I be slanging Maximov, Lunacharsky, etc.? You yourself write about keeping at loggerheads strictly among ourselves and yet you invite us to do the same in public. It’s no model. And about repelling the workers, you are wrong there too. If they accept our invitation and call on us, we shall have a chat with them and fight for the views of a certain news paper,[2] which certain factionalists are abusing (I heard this long ago from Lyadov and others) as being a deadly bore, a semi-literate and useless paper which does not believe in the proletariat or socialism.

As regards a new split, your arguments don’t hang together. On the one hand, both are nihilists (and “Slav anarchists”—why, my dear man, the non-Slav Europeans at times like ours fought, cursed and split a hundred times worse than we do!)—and, on the other hand, the split will be not less deep than that between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. If it is a question of the “nihilism” of the “loggerheads”, of the semi-literacy, etc., of someone who does not believe in what he writes, etc.—then, the split is not deep or it is not a split at all. And if the split is deeper than that between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks—then it is not a question of nihilism, not a question of writers who do not believe in what they write. It doesn’t hold water, really! You are wrong about the present split and justly[1] say: “I understand people but not their deeds.”

What strikes you and Maximov in Proletary as insincerity and futility, etc., is due to a totally different view point on the entire present moment (and, of course, on Marxism). We have been marking time for almost two years now, torturing questions which still seem “disput-   able” to Maximov, but which events decided long ago. And if we were to continue “disputing” about them, we would still be vainly marking time. But by parting company, we shall show the workers clearly, directly and definitely, two ways out. The Social-Democratic workers will make their choice easily and swiftly, for the tactics of preserving (in storage cans) the revolutionary words of 1905-06 instead of applying the revolutionary method to a new, different situation, to a changed epoch, which demands different methods and different forms of organisation—these tactics are dead. The proletariat is moving towards revolution and will come to it, but not in the way it did prior to 1905. To one who “believes” that the proletariat will make it, but who does not understand this “not in the way”–to him our position is bound to seem insincere, futile, tedious, based on lack of faith in the proletariat and socialism, etc., etc. The divergence resulting from this is, undoubtedly, deep enough to make a split—at least abroad—inevitable. But it does not come anywhere near the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, if one Is to speak of the depth of the split in the Party, in Social-Democracy, among Marxists.

You are surprised that I fail to see Mikhail’s hysteria, lack of discipline (it is not for you to say, nor for Mikhail to listen) and other bad qualities. Well, I have had a little opportunity of testing him: I thought that nothing would come of a conversation between you and me, that there was no sense in writing. Under the impression of my talk with Mikhail, I wrote at once, in the heat of the moment, without even reading through the letter, without putting it off until the next day. The next day I thought: I have been foolish enough to believe Mikhail. But it turned out that for all his enthusiasm Mikhail was right to some extent, for we did have our talk, you and I—not without hitches, of course, and not without Proletary being annihilated, but that can’t be helped!

All the very best,
N. Lenin


[1] An addition “justly”: I make a reservation. Without understanding their deeds one cannot understand people either, unless it be ... outwardly. That is to say, it is possible to understand the psychology of one or other participant of a struggle, but not the meaning of the struggle, not its party and political significance. —Lenin

[2] The newspaper referred to was Proletary^^(see Note 353)^^.

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