V. I.   Lenin


To:   I. E. HERMAN

Written: Written later than July 18, 1914
Published: First published in 1935 in the magazine Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 5. Sent from Poronin to Berlin. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 150-152.
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 Comrade Herman,

It seems to me that an important moment is approaching in the attitude of the Lettish Social-Democrats to the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (in the person of the Central Committee—to our part of the R.S.D.L.P.—if that suits your legitimists, who want to “consider” the liquidators a little).

Here clarity and honesty are necessary.

In 1911–14 the Letts (their C.C.) were liquidators.

At the Congress of 1914[2] they became opponents of liquidationism, but neutral as between the O.C. and the C.C.

Now, after Brussels, after the resolution in No. 32 of Trudovaya Pravda,[3] the Letts want to enter our Party and conclude an agreement with the C.C.

Is this a good thing?

It is good, if what is being done is clearly understood and there is an honest attitude towards it.

It is bad, if it is being done without clear understanding, without firm resolution and reckoning with the consequences.

Those who want legitimacy in the sense of restoring the Stockholm-London (1906–07) R.S.D.L.P., had better not join our Party: there will be no result except squabbles, disappointments, offence taken and mutual hindrance. That was “a federation of the worst type” (as was stated in the resolution of the January 1912 Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.).[4] It was rottenness. Away with that rottenness!

If it is a question of defending the relics of federalism (for example, the Stockholm agreement and delegation   from the Lettish C.C. to the Russian C.C.[5]), then it’s a waste of time! In my belief we shall not accept it. It is play-acting, diplomacy à la Tyszka (which is now being imitated by the scoundrels in the Polish opposition, who went over at Brussels to the liquidators), not team work. Are we agreed in principle? Yes or no? If the answer is yes, then we must march together against (1) liquidationism, (2) “nationalism” (=(a) “cultural-national autonomy” and (b) the separatism of the Bund), (3) against federalism. We have clearly, openly, before all the workers of Russia, unfurled these banners since January 1912. That is not a short time. You could and should have realised what was involved.

So let’s come to an agreement—if we are to agree—clearly and honestly. To play at hide-and-seek, in my opinion, is out of place and unworthy. We are waging a serious war: against us are all the bourgeois intellectuals, the liquidators, the nationalists and the separatists of the Bund, the federalists overt and covert. Either we conclude an agreement against all these enemies, or it would be better put off.

It is better to confine ourselves to engagement than to tie ourselves up with marriage, if there is no complete certainty that the union will endure!!

All this is my personal opinion.

But I should very much like to come to an understanding with you and to reach clarity. If we came to an agreement on fundamentals at Brussels, we can and must ask ourselves without diplomacy whether we can agree on a stable treaty.

I am very worried that part of the Letts are

for cultural-national autonomy, or wavering,

for Bundist federalism, or wavering, hesitating to attack the nationalism and separatism of the Bund,

hesitating to support our demand that the liquidationist paper of a group of disorganisers in Petersburg[6] should be closed, etc.

Is it a great part? in general and among members of the Central Committee? among the workers and among the intellectuals?

Is it influential?

After all, it, is we who are waging the battle against the liquidators in Petersburg and throughout Russia. What is to he done if yon cannot conscientiously help us tight the liquidators and the Bundists?? To conclude a lasting agreement in that case would he dishonest, and simply unrealistic!

And now, in addition, there is this disgusting manoeuvre of the Polish opposition in favour of the liquidators (voting for the Brussels resolution),[7] for nationalism (recognition of cultural-national autonomy as “an arguable proposition”), for federalism (the demand for the old, Tyszka, agreement of 1906 with the P.S.D.[1] ).

Clarity, clarity before everything else! Anyone who has not realised the state and the circumstances of the war of proletarian democracy against bourgeois democracy (= the liquidators and the nationalists) had better wait.

I would like to know your opinion!


I should he very glad to hear the opinion of “Paragraph” on these questions. Show him this letter!

(Please give the “14 points” of our C.C.[8] to Rude for a day to read through.)


[1] Polish Social-Democracy.—Ed.

[2] Reference is to the Fourth Congress of the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Region, which was held from January 26 to February 8 (N.S.), 1914 in Brussels.

[3] Trudovaya Pravda No. 32, July 4, 1914, published a resolution “On the Current Situation and Unity” over the signature of the “Leading Institution of the Social-Democrats of the Lettish Region” (C.C. of the S.D.L.P.). Stressing the “need for unity of forces and activity of the working class”, the resolution stipulated the following as the basis of unity: (1) “uncurtailed demands”; (2) recognition of the underground; (3) unity from below; (4) “recognition of the democratic majority and not the federation”; (5) struggle “against the liquidators both on the right and on the left”.

[4] The resolution was on “The Absence of Delegates from the Non-Russian National Centres at the General Party Conference” passed by the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.

[5] Reference is to the “Draft Terms of the Amalgamation of the Lettish Social-Democratic Labour Party with the R.S.D.L.P.”, passed at the Fourth (Unity) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., April-May 1906, in Stockholm.

[6] The paper was the Menshevik liquidators’ Nasha Rabochaya Gazeta, which came out in St. Petersburg from May to July 1914.

[7] The Polish opposition, which at the earlier sessions of the Brussels Conference had been unanimous with the Bolsheviks and the Lettish Social-Democrats, voted at the last session in favour of the resolution of the International Socialist Bureau drawn up by Kautsky.

[8] Reference is to the conditions of “unity” proposed by the Bolsheviks at the Brussels “Unity” Conference (see present edition, Vol. 20, pp. 515–27).

< backward   forward >
Works Index   |   Volume 35 | Collected Works   |   L.I.A. Index