V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written June 16, 1913
Published: First published in 1933 in Lenin Miscellany XXV. Sent from Poronin to St. Petersburg. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 350b-353a.
Translated: Martin Parker and Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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 Colleagues,

I received the issues of the enlarged Pravda only today, 16.VI. 1913, and hasten to congratulate the editorial staff and contributors. I wish you every success. The important thing now, in my opinion, is not to forget that we must fight to win 100,000 readers. For this we must (1) have a small, one-kopek, extremely popular Sunday supplement. Write without fail, giving your opinion on this, and also information on the estimates: i.e., how much extra money the enlarged format has taken. And what the monthly expenses now are, how much more than previously. The great (and sole) danger for Pravda now is the loss of the broad readership, loss of a position to fight for it.

This is the first business point, and I would ask you earnestly to acquaint the publisher with all the business points and kindly let me have your answer.

(2) On the question of the 7-hour day for postal employees, etc., the editors have made an obvious mistake. We   are all prone to make mistakes, and there is nothing particularly wrong in that. But, in persisting in their mistake, the editors, for a long time to come, if not for always, are “leaving a thorn”, marring their reputation and position both in Russia and in Europe. I was very pleased to see from the secretary’s letter that not all the members of the Editorial Board stood by the mistake. I earnestly advise you to re-examine the question and take a different stand in print (by publishing article by G. Z. unsigned, in the name of the editors). Two lines would suffice: “Having re examined the matter, the editors have come to this conclusion”—followed by G. Z.’s article. Or: “Having re examined the matter at a fuller meeting of the Editorial Board and contributors”. This is worse than simplyhaving re-examined”.[4]

Let the liars from Luch dance a cancan for once over this rectification—only false shame can prevent it being made. It would be 1,000 times worse if Luch were forever able to point to this error. An error rectified is an error no more. Unrectified it becomes a festering sore. In such cases one must have the courage to have it operated on at once. It won’t be very pleasant, failing this, to have a number of Pravda friends—both individual writers and organs of the press—dissociating themselves from Pravda’s stand.

Will you please discuss all this and drop me a line without delay.

(3) As regards Y. K. I have already written once. His article on Alexeyenko is excellent. The author, of course, can give such articles regularly. But you do not pay him—it’s a disgrace!! He writes me that he is going to stop writing. You couldn’t imagine, I trust, that the enlarged format would involve extra expenses on paper and printing alone. Naturally, you calculated on an unavoidable increase of expenditure on the literary side too. Y. K. should top the list. He has nothing else to live on now. We cannot afford to lose such a contributor to both Pravda and Prosveshcheniye. I therefore advise you most strongly to immediately adopt a decision to pay Y. K—v 75 (seventy-five) rubles a month. This is the minimum for a regular contributor to both newspaper and journal; don’t forget the literary criticism section, too, which always   leaves much to be desired and without which a “big” newspaper is impossible.

Will you please give me your reply on this immediately. I have a letter from Y. K. in the tone of an ultimatum, and I consider it my duty to warn the editors and publisher of Pravda that to run an enlarged paper without the services of such a contributor is a thing I don’t know who can think of.

(4) Vitimsky’s article in No. 123 is a very felicitous one in my opinion. I congratulate the author. As for Stal, I think it ought to be reprinted: it’s good![5]

[[ I am enclosing a reply to Vitimsky,[1] which, I think, you ought to read (I am not sure whether Vitimsky’s letter is a personal one; I don’t think it is). ]]

(5) Alexinsky’s letter concerning “Controversial Issues”[2] has been lying in the editorial office for a month, we have been told. I cannot understand this attitude!! The editors, apparently, do not know the position, do not know the history of the Vperyod group, and have fallen into an error with Mr. Bogdanov (about this separately). Why could not Alexinsky’s letter have been forwarded to us here?? This is necessary in order to discuss the one and only Vperyodist who had the sense to revolt against the vile empirio-monism and similar abominations which disgrace the proletarian party. In publishing Bogdanov’s mendacious letters,[6] the editors have made it difficult to arrange a general discussion regarding Alexinsky: his letter, too, may be worthless, but we have to talk it over. For that purpose we ask you to send his letter on to us as quickly as possible, and generally send such things to us.

(6) In regard to the Bogdanov incident I am sending a separate letter to the editors and publisher of Pravda.[3] This question is extremely serious. I am loath to come out against the editors of Pravda in print—we have worked together too long—but for me to support otzovism is a sin a 100 times worse than supporting liquidationism—not   only worse, but more dishonest. Frankly, I would be obliged to come out in print too against such support, which has become clear through publication of Mr. Bogdanov’s letter. If this is a slip, let’s rectify it. If it is not, we shall fight.

Send us Alexinsky’s letter. Very important. Alexinsky is talking friendly, and you ... respond with Bogdanov!!

(7) I have received the money for April. That for May should be sent. Please do not delay it. (I need money badly for my wife’s treatment, for an operation.)

At your service,
V. I.

I am very much afraid that you may have alienated Plekhanov!! Potresov lies and flings mud. To silence Plekhanov?? This would be an irretrievable error.[7]

Thanks very much for the promise to send the missing Nos. of Pravda and Luch. Only you mistakenly mentioned once a different number instead of No. 8 (number eight) for 1912 (nineteen twelve). Will you please send me this No. 8. It was returned from under arrest to the editorial office in 180 copies.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 170–72.—Ed.

[2] Ibid., pp. 447–69.—Ed.

[3] See V. I. Lenin, “The Question of Mr. Bogdanov and the Vperyod Group (For the Editors of Pravda)” (present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 173–74).—Ed.

[4] On the closing of the debate on the estimates of the post and telegraph department in the Fourth Duma on May 22 (June 4), 1913, voting was held on the motion of the Duma Cadet group calling for a 7–hour day for post and telegraph employees. The Duma Social-Democratic group, on the basis of Point 3 (h) of the resolution on “The Social-Democratic Group in the Duma” adopted at the Fifth (All-Russia) Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1908, abstained from voting. As a result the motion for a 7–hour day. for post and telegraph employees was rejected. Polemising with Luch in its articles “Liberal Failure” (issue No. 117 for May 23) and “Luch Against the S. D. Group” (issue No. 119 for May 25, 1913), Pravda defended the wrong action of the S. D. group in the Duma.

After Lenin’s remark, this error was rectified.

In the resolution of the 1913 Poronin meeting of the C.C. with Party officials on “Social-Democratic Activities in the Duma” Point 3 (h) was revised and endorsed in a new and improved wording.

[5] The article by M. S. Olminsky (Vitimsky), “Pravda”, devoted to the appearance of the paper in enlarged format was published in No. 123 for May 30, 1913.

In the same issue Pravda published the fragment of a poem by the American poet, Horace Traubel, a former workman “Common Men and Women” translated by L. Stal.

[6] Lenin is referring to A. Bogdanov’s letter-statement “A Factual Explanation” published in No. 120 of Pravda, May 26, 1913, in which Bogdanov tried to refute the fact, pointed out by Lenin in his article “Controversial Issues”, that negation of Duma work and of the employment of other legal possibilities derived from “Vperyodism” (see present edition, Vol. 19, p. 154). Together with his letter “The Question of Mr. Bogdanov and the Vperyod Group” (ibid., pp. 173–74) Lenin sent in to Pravda a paragraph directed against Bogdanov’s distortion of the Party’s history (this para graph was not published at the time and has not yet been found). After the writing of his article “Ideology” containing undisguised propaganda of Machist views Bogdanov was struck off the list of Pravda contributors.

[7] In April–June 1913 Pravda carried articles by Plekhanov “Under a Hail of Bullets (Passing Notes)”. One of them was directed against A. N. Potresov, “Mr. Potresov in the Role of My Accuser” (Nos. 112 and 114 for May 17 and 19, 1913). Following this Pravda published no more articles by Plekhanov up to June 7, while Potresov, in his feuilleton “In the Grip of His Past (On Plekhanov)” published in Luck Nos. 119, 121 and 122 for May 25, 28 and 29, 1913, continued to “fling mud” at Plekhanov. Criticism of Potresov’s attacks on Plekhanov is given in Lenin’s article “Working-Class Party and Liberal Riders (On Potresov)” (see Collected Works, Vol. 41, pp. 287–88).

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