V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written on October 31, 1914
Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Berne to Stockholm. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 170-172.
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


Für Alexander

Dear Friend,

In two or three days you will receive our Central Organ, and then I hope there will be complete “harmony” of our views. Frankly speaking, I am a little afraid whether some of the steps you have taken may not be interpreted in the sense that you are ignoring our legitimate representative in the International Socialist Bureau—Mr. Litvinoff, 76. High Street. Hampstead. London, N. W. Of course, such an interpretation will be a malicious distortion, but all the same be more careful.

Troelstra has deceived you, or led you into error. He is an arch-opportunist, and an agent of the intrigues of the most scoundrelly centre of the most scoundrelly opportunists—the German Social-Democrats (headed by Kautsky, who basely defends the opportunists), with their most foul Vorstand. We shall not attend any conferences or join in any steps, taken on the initiative of scoundrels like them. We will stand aside: let them disgrace themselves! For they, having disgraced themselves once, will disgrace themselves again. The French have already rejected their intrigues, and without the French there can be only a dirty comedy acted by dirty blackguards.

Larin, to all appearances, is swindling you without scruple. If he expresses his “confidence” in the German Vorstand, I can well understand that Troelstra has “taken note of it”. Of course he would!! Confidence in the rottenest opportunists!! For God’s sake correct what can be corrected,   and don’t express the least confidence, direct or indirect, in any of the opportunists, either German or French. Pannekoek is right: the Second International is dead for ever. It was killed by the opportunists (and not by “ parliamentarism”, as the slow-witted Pannekoek put it). “Papering over” the differences is only a petty intrigue, and we must take no part in it, either direct or indirect.

We shall try to send you a couple of leaflets shortly. Don’t go away, have patience. Arrange everything I wrote to you about, wait until the Central Organ has reached Russia, wait until we reach a complete understanding with the Russian colleagues too (both with Kamenev and with others), after they have received the Central Organ. Before all this has been done there can be no thought of your departure. It would be premature for us as yet to leave.[2] Find out, by the way, whether Social-Democratic things can be printed in Sweden (as for example, our Central Organ).

Poor Gorky! What a pity that he has disgraced himself by putting his signature under that rotten little paper of the Russian liberal gentry.[3] Both Meshkovsky and Plekhanov and others (including Maslov and Smirnov) have sunk to the same level.

Make sure of getting and rereading (or get someone to translate to you) Kautsky’s Weg zur Macht[1] —what he wrote there about the revolution of our times!!

And what a scoundrel he has become now, renouncing all this!

Our job now is a merciless war on chauvinism, covered up by chatter about defence of the “fatherland” etc., especially on the “socialist chauvinism” of Plekhanov, Guesde, Kautsky (the worst of the lot, the hypocrite!) and Co. Defending the revolution (bourgeois in Russia and socialist in the West), we preach it in wartime too. Our watchword is civil war. It is all purest sophistry that this watchword is unsuitable, etc., and so forth. We cannot “make” it, but we preach it and we work in that direction. In every country preference should be given to the struggle against the chauvinism of the particular country, to awakening of hatred of one’s own government, to appeals (repeated,   insistent, numerous, tireless) to the solidarity of the workers of the warring countries, to their joint civil war against the bourgeoisie.

No one will venture to guarantee when and to what extent this preaching will be “justified” in practice: that is not the point (only base sophists renounce revolutionary agitation because they don’t know when the revolution will take place). The point is to work on those lines. Only that work is socialist, not chauvinist. And it alone will bear socialist fruit, revolutionary fruit.

The watchword of peace now is absurd and mistaken (especially after the betrayal by almost all the leaders up to and including Guesde, Plekhanov, Vandervelde, Kautsky). In practice it would mean petty-bourgeois moaning. But we must remain revolutionaries in war conditions too. And must preach the class struggle among the troops also.

All the best. Write more often.



[1] Path to Power.—Ed.

[2] To improve connections with Party organisations in Russia Lenin tried to find out through some of the comrades whether it would be possible for him to move from Switzerland to Sweden or Norway. The move did not take place.

[3] The proclamation “From Writers, Artists and Actors” was written in a spirit of bourgeois patriotism and justification of tsarist Russia’s participation in the war. It appeared over the signatures of several prominent figures in the world of letters and the arts, including Maxim Gorky.

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