V. I.   Lenin



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 434-435.
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.

Dear A. M.,

November 22, 1910

I wrote you a few days ago when sending Rabochaya Gazeta, and asked what had come of the journal we talked about in the summer and about which you promised to write to me.

I see in Rech today a notice about Sovremennik, published “with the closest and exclusive [that is what is printed! illiterately, but so much the more pretentiously and significantly I participation of Amfiteatrov” and with you as a regular contributor.[1]

What is this? How does it happen? A “large monthly” journal, with sections on “politics, science, history, social life”—why, this is something quite different from symposia aiming at a concentration of the best forces of belles-lettres. Such a journal should either have a perfectly definite, serious and consistent trend, or it will inevitably disgrace itself and those taking part in it. Vestnik Yevropy[2] has a trend—a poor, watery, worthless trend—but one which serves a definite element, certain sections of the bourgeoisie, and which also unites definite circles of the professorate and officialdom, and the so-called intelligentsia from among the “respectable” (or rather, would-be respectable) liberals. Russkaya Mysl[3] has a trend, an odious trend, but one which performs a very good service for the counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie. Russkoye Bogatstvo[4] has a trend—a Narodnik, Narodnik-Cadet trend—but one which has kept its line for scores of years, and which serves definite sections of the population. Sovremenny Mir[5] has a trend—often Menshevik-Cadet trend (at present with a leaning towards pro-Party Menshevism)—but a trend A journal without a trend is an absurdity, a ridiculous, scandalous and harmful thing. And what sort of trend can there be with   the “exclusive participation” of Amfiteatrov? One cannot expect G. Lopatin to provide a trend, and if the talk (said also to have got into the newspapers) is true about Kachorovsky’s participation, then that is a “trend”, but a trend of the blockheads, a S.R. trend.

During our talk in the summer when I told you that I had all but written you a disappointed letter about Confessions but did not send it because of the split with the Machists which had begun at that time, you replied: “it’s a pity you did not send it”. Then you went on to reproach me for not going to the Capri school,[6] and you said that, if matters had taken a different course, the breakaway of the Machists and otzovists might have cost you less nervous strain, less waste of energy. Recalling these talks, I have now decided to write to you without putting it off and without waiting for any verification, while the impression the news has made is still fresh.

I think that a political and economic monthly with the exclusive participation of Amfiteatrov is something many times worse than a special Machist-otzovist faction. What was and still is bad about this faction is that the ideological trend deviated and still deviates from Marxism, from Social-Democracy, without, however, going so far as a break with Marxism, and only creating confusion.

Amfiteatrov’s journal (his Krasnoye Znamya[7] did well to die when it did!) is a political act, a political enterprise in which there is not even a realisation that a general “leftism” is not enough for a policy, that after 1905 to talk seriously about politics without making clear one’s attitude towards Marxism and Social-Democracy is out of the question, impossible, inconceivable.

Things are turning out bad. It’s saddening.


To M.F.—salut et fraternité.


[1] Sovremennik (The Contemporary)—a monthly literary and political journal, published in St. Petersburg in 1911–15. Grouped around it were Menshevik liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries, “Popular Socialists” and Left liberals. The journal had no ties whatever with the working-class masses. A leading role in the journal at the beginning of its existence was played by A. V. Amfiteatrov.

As a result of Lenin’s letter, Gorky demanded that the words in the announcement describing him as “regular contributor” should be deleted^^(see V. I. Lenin and A. M. Gorky, Letters, Reminiscences, Documents, Second Russ. ed., Moscow, 1961, p. 59)^^. Gorky broke with Sovremennik in August 191l, but resumed his contributions in 1912 when Amfiteatrov resigned from the editorial staff.

[2] Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger)—a monthly magazine devoted to politics, history and literature, bourgeois-liberal in trend, published in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918.

[3] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—a monthly literary and political journal published in Moscow from 1880 to 1918. Up to 1905 it was of a liberal-Narodnik trend. In the nineties it sometimes published articles of the Marxists. After the revolution of 1905 it became the organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. The editor was P. B. Struve.

[4] Russkoye Bogatstvo.^^See Note 16.^^

[5] Sovremenny Mir (The Modem World)—a monthly literary, scientific and political journal, appeared in St. Petersburg from 1906 to 1918.

[6] ^^See Note 391.^^

[7] Krasnoye Znamya (Red Banner)—a bourgeois political and literary journal founded by A. V. Amfiteatrov. Published in Paris from 1906.

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