V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written in the first half of October 1912
Published: First published in 1956 in the Journal Kommunist No. 5. Sent from Cracow to St. Petersburg. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 194-196.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   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.README

Letter to the Editors

The undersigned, now in the capacity of a permanent political contributor to Pravda and Nevskaya Zvezda, considers it his duty to express his protest against the behaviour of the colleagues in charge of these newspapers at a critical time.

The elections in St. Petersburg, both in the workers’ curia and in the 2nd urban curia, are a critical moment, a moment for realising the results of five years of work, a moment for determining, in many respects, the direction of work for the next five years.

At such a moment, the leading organ of working-class democrats must follow a clear, firm, and precisely defined policy. But Pravda, which is in many respects effectively the leading organ, is not conducting such a policy.

Luch and Metallist,[1] with their desperate shouts about “unity”, are carrying on under that “popular” flag the worst policy of the liquidators, namely, insubordination of an insignificant minority to the vast majority of Marxist workers in St. Petersburg, imposition of the candidate of some three, five or ten tiny groups of intellectuals and a handful of workers on hundreds of consistent working-class democratic groups.

During the few days remaining before the election of workers’ electors, during the few weeks remaining before elections in St. Petersburg in the 2nd curia, it is Pravda’s undoubted duty to carry on a merciless fight against this deception of the mass of workers, behind the barrage of pious and popular phrases. Its bounden duty is in the   most detailed fashion to explain, demonstrate, chew up for all and sundry, 1st, that liquidationism is a non-Marxist, liberal trend;

2nd, that unity requires the subordination of the minority to the majority, whereas the liquidators are beyond doubt, as the experience of eight months’ work shows, an insignificant minority;

3rd, that those who want to support the working-class democracy must know where the mass of workers stand, and where the philistine intelligentsia, which is playing at Marxism;

4th, that the conference which the liquidators and Luch are fussing about has been denounced and exposed both by the neutral Plekhanov (he said straight out that “non-Party and anti-Party elements” took part in their conference) and even by Alexinsky, who is hostile to the anti-liquidators.

And so on, and so forth.

Unless Pravda explains all this in good time, it will be responsible for the confusion and the disruption, since, having the vast majority of the workers behind it and having explained matters in good time, Pravda would most certainly have ensured unity, because the liquidators are past masters at boasting and threats, but would never dare act against Pravda.

Pravda itself has admitted that there are two clearly formalised lines, platforms, collective wills (the August, or liquidators’, line and the January line). Yet Pravda creates the opinion that it is carrying on some third line “of its own”, invented only yesterday by someone and amounting (as we have learned from St. Petersburg through other channels, since Pravda’s editorial board has stubbornly refused to favour us with a reply) either to letting the liquidators have one of the three candidates, or handing over to them the whole of the 2nd curia “in exchange for the workers’ curia”. If these rumours are untrue, Pravda bears the entire responsibility for them, because you cannot sow such uncertainty among Marxists that unquestionable friends, Marxists, believe these rumours, and pass them on.

At this hot time, Nevskaya Zvezda is closed down,   without a single letter or explanation, collective exchange of opinion is completely interrupted, and political contributors are left in the dark, not knowing whom they are helping after all to get elected; may it not be a liquidator? I am obliged hotly to protest against this, and to decline any responsibility for this abnormal situation, which is pregnant with drawn-out conflicts.

Please communicate this letter to the “boss” of Pravda and Nevskaya Zvezda, to the whole editorial board of both papers and all contributors who are consistent working-class democrats.

V. Ilyin


[1] Metallist—one of the names of the magazine Robochy po metallu (Metalworker), organ of the metalworkers’ trade union; published in St. Petersburg from August 30 (September 12), 1906 to June 12 (25), 1914. Initially, the editorial board, like the executive of the trade union, was in the hands of liquidators. After an election in 1913, the executive and the editorial board passed into the hands of the Bolsheviks.

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