V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written after January 25, 1913
Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 74-77.
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

Dear A. M.,

Of course, I have nothing against your sending my letter to Tikhonov.

After your account I have become interested in Lunacharsky’s article “Between Fear and Hope”. Couldn’t you send it to me, if you have a copy? If you want it I shall return it without fail.

The collections for the Moscow paper rejoiced us greatly. Our trio of deputies from Moscow Region—Malinovsky, Shagov and Samoilov—will set about this. That has already been agreed. But care is needed: before consolidating Pravda, we cannot set about a Moscow paper. We have a plan for organising a Moskovskaya Pravda.[3]

Please write to Tikhonov that he should talk only to Badayev and Malinovsky—but he must talk with them.

I was particularly glad of the following words in your letter: “From all the plans and suppositions of the Russian intelligentsia, it is clear beyond any doubt that socialist thought is interlarded with various currents radically hostile to it. They include mysticism, and metaphysics, and opportunism, and reformism, and relapses into Narodism. All these currents are all the more hostile because they are extremely indefinite and, not having their own platforms, cannot determine themselves with sufficient clarity.”

I underline the words which have particularly delighted me. That’s just it: “radically hostile”, and all the more so because they are indefinite. You ask, for example, about   Stepanov (I. I.).[4] What did he turn out to be in the era of collapse and vacillation, 1908–11 (yet he was a good fellow, a hard worker, well-read, etc.)? He wanted to make peace with the Vperyodists. But then that means that he was wobbling himself.

He wrote letters to me about giving up the democratic revolution in Russia as a bad job, that in our country things would proceed without revolution, on Austrian lines. I branded him as a liquidator for these philistine ideas. He was offended. And then Larin[5] blurted out his ideas in print.

Now Stepanov is demonstratively writing not for us but for Rozhkov’s paper Novaya Sibir at Irkutsk.[6] And do you know what “trend” Rozhkov has discovered? Did you read his article in Nasha Zarya of 1911 and my reply in Zvezda?[1] And Rozhkov has dug himself in as an arch– opportunist. And Stepanov? Allah knows. That’s just it: an “extremely indefinite” and muddled position. I should never entrust any at all independent department to Stepanov now: he himself doesn’t know where he will jump next. But probably he could be a useful contributor. He is one of those who haven’t “seen clearly”. To commission him to “organise” a department means to kill both him and the department for certain.

You write: “It’s time we had our journal, but we haven’t, a sufficient number of people who have come properly to terms with each other for this.”

I don’t accept the second part of this sentence. The journal would oblige a sufficient number of people to come to terms with each other, provided there was a journal, provided there was a nucleus.

A nucleus does exist, but there is no full-size journal for external reasons—no money. If we had money, I am sure we could manage a full-size journal even now, because in addition to the nucleus of contributors we could, for payment, draw in a lot of people by giving out subjects and allocating jobs.

So long as we have no money, we must in my opinion not only dream hut build upon what we’ve got, in other words, on Prosveshcheniye.[7] Of course, it’s a little fish, but in the first place a big fish, like everything else, grows from a little one. Secondly, better a little fish than a big cockroach.

It’s time, high time, to begin coming to terms, if we want to have “people who have come to terms” in large numbers.

It’s time we had our journal.” The literary nucleus is there. The correctness of the line has been confirmed by the experience of 12 years (or even 20), and particularly by the experience of the last six years. We should gather around this nucleus, thereby defining it in greater detail, training it up and expanding. We had to begin with the illegal one and with Pravda. But we don’t want to stop at that. And therefore, once you have said that “it’s time we had our journal”, allow me to call you to account for these words: either to draft out at once a plan of enquiries for money for a full-size journal with such-and-such a programme, such-and-such an editorial board and such-and-such a body of contributors, or to begin on the same plan expanding Prosveshcheniye.

Or more truly, not either—or, but both.

I await your reply. You probably have already had a letter from Vienna about Prosveshcheniye. There is a reliable hope of consolidating it for 1913 in a smaller form. You want us to “have our journal”, then let’s push it ahead together.

I haven’t heard anything about the Dashnaks. But I think it’s a nonsensical rumour. It’s been started by the government, which wants to swallow up Turkish Armenia.[8]

The P.P.S.[2] are undoubtedly for Austria and will fight for her. A war between Austria and Russia would be a very useful thing for the revolution (throughout Eastern Europe), but it’s not very probable that Franz-Josef and Nicky will give us this pleasure.

You ask me to keep you better informed. With pleasure— only you must reply. I send you (for the time being   confidentially) the resolutions of our recent conference (which in my view was very successful and will play its part).[9]

Resolutions, they say, are of all forms of literature the most boring. I am a man who has consumed too many resolutions. Drop me a line about how readable they are for you (especially about revolutionary strikes and about the liquidators).

What bad effect has the rumour about an amnesty had in Russia? I don’t know. Drop me a line.

N. K. sends her regards.

All the best.


[1] See “A Liberal Labour Party Manifesto” (present edition Vol. 17, pp. 313–24).—Ed.

[2] P.P.S. (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna)—Polish Socialist Party.—Ed.

[3] Reference is to the newspaper Nash Put (Our Path). Lenin had pointed out the necessity for a legal workers’ newspaper in Moscow in the summer of 1912. But the fund-collecting campaign for the Moscow newspaper did not begin until November 1912. Pravda No. 176 for November 24 (O.S), 1912 published a “Letter from a Group of Moscow Workers”, which indicated that it would be possible and opportune to start a workers’ newspaper in Moscow. The call to make collections for the paper was enthusiastically supported by the workers, but, its appearance was delayed by the arrest, in February 1913, of the group of Bolsheviks who were starting it.

The first number of Nash Put appeared on August 25 ( September 7), 1913. Lenin was active on the paper. Its contributors included Maxim Gorky, Demyan Bedny, M. S. Olminsky, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, and also the Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma. Nash Put was very popular among the workers and received donations from 395 workers’ groups. When the paper was banned on September 12 (25), 1913, after only 16 issues had appeared, the Moscow workers staged a protest strike but did not succeed in getting the ban lifted.

[4] Skvortsov-Stepanov, I. I. (1870–1928)—one of the oldest participants in the Russian revolutionary movement. He joined the R.S.D.L.P. in 1896, becoming a Bolshevik and Marxist writer towards the end of 1904. On several occasions between 1907 and 1911 he was nominated by the Bolsheviks as a candidate for the Duma. In the period of reaction he held incorrect views on the agrarian problem and adopted a conciliatory attitude to the anti-Party Vperyod group, but under Lenin’s influence overcame his mistakes.

[5] Larin, Y. (Lurye, M. A.) (1882–1932)—Social-Democrat, Menshevik. After the defeat of the 1905–07 revolution he became an active supporter of liquidationism, but in August 1917 was admitted to the Bolshevik Party. After the October Socialist Revolution he held various administrative and managerial posts.

[6] Novaya Sibir (New Siberia)—socio-political and literary daily newspaper with a liberal orientation. It was published in Irkutsk from December 1912 to February 1913. The liquidator N. Rozhkov was, in practice, its editor.

[7] Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment)—legal Bolshevik socio-political and literary monthly; began publication in St. Petersburg in December 1911. Maxim Gorky was editor of the fiction section. The magazine was banned by the tsarist government on the eve of the first world war, in June 1914. One further issue (a double one) appeared in the autumn of 1917.

[8] Reference is probably to rumours of the possibility of a rising in Turkish Armenia under the leadership of the Armenian bourgeois-nationalist Dashnaktsutyun Party. This was suggested in an article “Turkish Armenians and Russia” in the newspaper Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word) No. 7, January 9, 1913.

[9] Reference is to the resolutions of the Cracow Conference of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. and Party workers (January 8–14, 1913).

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