V. I.   Lenin



To Al. Max.

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 419-422.
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.

April 11, 1910

Dear A. M.,

I did not receive the letter from you and M.F. sent through M. S. Botkina until today. Before I forget: you can write to me at my private address (Oulianoff, 4, Rue Marie Rose, 4, Paris, XIV) and at the address of the Party—in which case it is safer to use two envelopes, the inner one marked: for Lenin, private (110, Avenue d’Orléans, Mr. Kotliarenko, Paris, XIV).

I shall try and send you tomorrow the publications you ask for.

Did I criticise you, and where? It must have been in Diskussionny Listok No. 1[1] C.O.).[2] I am sending you a copy. If this is not what your informants had in mind, then I don’t remember anything else at the moment. I wrote nothing else during that period.

Now about unity. You ask: is this a fact or an anecdote? I shall have to go back a long way to tell you about this, for there is something both “anecdotal” (rather trivial) about this fact, and something serious, in my view.

There have been deep and serious factors leading to Party unity: in the ideological field—the need to purge Social-Democracy from liquidationism and otzovism; in the practical field—the terribly difficult plight of the Party and of all Social-Democratic work, and the coming to maturity of a new type of Social-Democratic worker.

At the C.C. plenum (the “long plenum”—three weeks of agony, all nerves were on edge, the devil to pay!) to these serious and deep-lying factors, which were by no means generally recognised, were added minor, petty factors—a mood of “conciliation in general” (without any clear idea with whom, for what, and how); hatred of the Bolshevik Centre for its implacable ideological struggle; squabbling on the part of the Mensheviks, who were spoiling for a fight, and as a result—an infant covered with blisters.

And so we have to suffer. Either—at best—we cut open the blisters, let out the pus, and cure and rear the infant.

Or, at worst—the infant dies. Then we shall be childless for a while (that is, we shall re-establish the Bolshevik faction) and then give birth to a more healthy infant.

Among the Mensheviks, those working for serious unity are the Plekhanovites (not quite consciously, rather slowly and waveringly, but they are nevertheless working for it, and, what is most important, they cannot help working for it), the pro-Party-ists and the workers. The Golos people, however, are fencing, causing confusion and making mischief. They are building up a strong, legal, opportunist centre in Russia (Potresov & Co. in the press: see Nasha Zarya[3] No. 2—what a scoundrel this Potresov is!—and Mikhail, Roman, Yury+the sixteen authors of the “Open Letter”[4] in No. 19/20 of Golos—in practical, organisational work).

The C.C. plenum wanted to unite everyone. Now the Golos people drop out. This abscess must be removed. It can not be done without squabbling, rows, nervous strain, mud and “scum”.

We are just now in the thick of this squabbling. Either the C.C. in Russia iops off the Golos supporters by removing them from important bodies (such as the Central Organ, etc.)—or our faction will have to be re-established.

In No. 11 of Dnevnik, Piekhanov has given an appraisal of the plenum which clearly shows that the sincere and serious desire to fight opportunism now prevails with him over the minor, petty desire to utilise the Golos opportunists against the Bolsheviks. Here, too, things take a com plex and protracted course, but the Mensheviks’ legalistic, liquid ationist centre that has been built up in Russia will   inevitably lead to serious Social-Democrats turning away from them.

Now about the Vperyodists. At one time it seemed to me that within this group, too, there were two trends: towards the Party and Marxism, towards renouncing Machism and otzovism, and the opposite. As far as the first; trend is concerned, Party unity would enable the patent absurdities of otzovism, etc., to be corrected in a convenient and unembarrassing Party way. But, apparently, the second trend is getting the upper hand among them. Alexinsky (a mere babe-in-arms in politics, but one who has turned angry and is committing one stupidity after another) kicked up a row and resigned from both the editorial board of Diskussionny Listok and from the Party’s School Committee.418^^ They will probably organise a school of their own, again a factional one, again on the side. If they do, we shall fight again and win the workers away from them.

And so it works out, that in the matter of unity the “anecdotic” predominates at the present time, is brought into high focus, gives occasion for sniggering and sneering, etc. It is said that the Socialist-Revolutionary Chernov has even written a farce about unity among the Social-Democrats entitled “A Storm in a Tea-cup”, and that this farce will be performed here in a day or two before one of the groups of the emigrant colony, who are addicted to sensationalism.

It is sickening to be stuck in the midst of this “anecdotic” situation, this squabbling and row-making, nervous strain and “scum”; to observe all this is also sickening. But one should not allow oneself to succumb to the mood. Life in exile is now a hundred times harder than it was before the revolution. Life in exile and squabbling are inseparable.

But the squabbling will pass away; nine-tenths of it remains abroad; it is an accessory feature. The development of the Party, the development of the Social-Democratic movement goes forward despite all the devilish difficulties of the present situation. The purging of the Social-Democratic Party from its dangerous “deviations”, from liquidationism and otzovism goes forward steadfastly; within the framework of unity it has progressed considerably farther   than before. As a matter of fact, we had finished with otzovism ideologically before the plenum. We had not finished with liquidationism at that time; the Mensheviks succeeded temporarily in hiding the snake, but now it has been dragged out into broad daylight, now everyone sees it, now we shall kill it!

And this purging is by no means only an “ideological” task, a labour of armchair workers as that fool (or rogue) Potresov thinks, who stands up for the Machists the way the Mensheviks at the plenum stood up for the Vperyodists. No, this purge is inseparably bound up with the mass working-class movement, which learns how to organise Social-Democratic work in the present difficult period, learns precisely by rejection, finds the right path by rejecting liquidationism and otzovism. Only that windbag Trotsky imagines that this rejection can be avoided, that it is superfluous, that it does not concern the workers, that the issues of liquidationism and otzovism have been posed not by life itself, but by the wicked polemicists.

I can imagine how distressing the sight of this painful growth of the new Social-Democratic movement must be to those who have not seen and lived through its painful growth in the late eighties and early nineties. At that time such Social-Democrats were to be counted by the score, if not in individuals. Now there are hundreds and thou sands of them. Hence the crisis and crises. And the Social-Democratic movement as a whole is coping with them openly and will overcome them honestly.

All the very best.


(published as a supplement to the =

[1] See “Notes of a Publicist”, Section One, “The Platform” of the Adherents and Defenders of Otzovism (present edition, Vol. 16).—Ed.

[2] Diskussionny Listok (Discussion Bulletin) was started by decision of the January 1910 (“Unity”) Plenum of the C.C. Its editorial board was composed of representatives of all the existing trends and national organisations in the Party. It appeared as a supplement to the Central Organ Sotsial-Demokrat in Paris from March 6 (19), 1910, to April 29 (May 12), 1911. Three issues were put out.

[3] Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)—a monthly legal journal of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. It became the centre of the liquidators in Russia.

[4] The “Open Letter” was by a group of prominent Mensheviks, who proposed liquidating the Party.

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