V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written before March 23, 1914
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 273-275.
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.

Dear Colleagues,

I welcome your paper in every way, and particularly its obvious improvement. At last the literary side is beginning to be well organised! The next job is the business side. You must not leave the question of subscribers “ unpublished” either: you should announce their number, otherwise you cannot rise from the small circle level to full-scale organisation, from a private enterprise to a collective one.

Nor can I pass over an obvious mistake in No. 22, where side by side with the correct resolution from the Vyborg workers (on Buryanov) you have, without comment from the editors, a longer and disgustingly double-faced resolution from the Zurich group.[2] Pravda’s word is law; its silence tends to confuse the workers; its abstention sows bewilderment.

With Buryanov one must be “as wise as a serpent”, but the editorial board has departed from such wisdom. We praise him only for leaving the liquidators, and not at all for lone-wolf “independence”. In this the liquidators are right, and there is no greater danger for a politician in the struggle than to take up the wrong position.

Yet the Zurich group support Buryanov in his erroneous, false, double-faced position! And we give them a platform— what for? Knowing that the Zurich group are a minority abroad! Knowing that we cannot make all the groups abroad express their stand in Pravda!

Buryanov should be made to understand and feel the falseness of his attitude. You have left the liquidators? Good.

You have proposed equality? Good.

What then? It is time to make a choice. We will not support you in double-dealing (the pendulum game). The liquidators are attacking you as an “independent Social-Democrat”: they are right, and we shall not defend you. Here is a reasonable period for you, here is assistance during that period (tacit, with speeches, etc.), but no more than that. Either you make your choice (within 2 or 4 weeks)—or you get no more help.

That is the only way to act. Otherwise in the immediate future (both at the Vienna Congress and earlier[3]) Buryanov’s stand will do us harm, and people will be justified in telling us that we are supporting an “independent”.

The editorial board must find an occasion to say (1) that the Vyborg workers are right, not the Zurich group; (2) that, apart from a section of those abroad (Zurich), no one in Russia has approved or will approve “independence”.

This must be done.

All the best, and wishing the paper every kind of improvement and success!

V. I.

P.S. Within a month, Buryanov will say: the Zurich group supported me, and only the workers of Vyborg condemned me! And we shall not have had general mass support for the Vyborg group. But that is just what we need most now.

If you “give Buryanov a free hand” and your support, he will consolidate his position against us, and that would be a crime against the will of the majority of the workers and against the “Marxist whole”.

P.S. Could you please send No. 2 of Nasha Zarya as quickly as possible, when it comes out, for a reply to L.  Martov in Prosveshcheniye?

P.P.S. Please show this letter to the paper’s contributors who are in the R.S.D.L. Duma group.

Can you send me Milyukov’s article in Russkiye Vedomosti where he speaks about the tactics of refusing to believe in a peaceable outcome?

The lost book has been found. Insist on non-abridgement.

About the paper, I repeat that the improvement is tremendous. (The same comments from everywhere.) All the best. Laissez-nous écrire plus souvent l’opinion et les directives (les commandes même) du rédacteur![1]


[1] Have them inform us more frequently of the editor’s opinion and directives (nay, his orders)!—Ed.

[2] The resolution of a group of workers in the Vyborg district, “On the Withdrawal of Comrade Buryanov from the Seven”, and the “Open Letter to A. F. Buryanov”, signed by the Zurich group for the promotion of the R.S.D.L.P.

In their resolution the Vyborg workers welcomed Buryanov’s withdrawal from the Seven, as fresh evidence of its political bankruptcy, but censured his neutralist stand as being incorrect. The Zurich group, mostly Mensheviks, assessed this as a major step towards the unification of the two Social-Democratic groups in the Duma. The two documents appeared in Put Pravdy No. 22, February 26, 1914.

[3] A congress of the Second International set for Vienna in 1914 and a congress of the R.S.D.L.P. then being prepared. Neither took place because of the outbreak of the war.

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