V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written before August 4, 1915
Published: First published in 1930 in Lenin Miscellany XIV. Sent from Sörenberg to Berne. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 334-336.
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 Radek,

I have received your letter to Wijnkoop, and am sending it off by the first post. I am adding that work should be started right away, if the idea is to prepare a declaration (to say nothing of another Communist Manifesto).

We have provided (1) a manifesto; (2) resolutions; (3) a draft declaration.[3] So let us have your amendments or counterdrafts as soon as possible. Hurry! Or we shall be late!

I personally am against Nashe Slovo participating, but would not make this an ultimatum. Why am I against? (1) It is corruption, because Nashe Slovo has not itself declared that it is an independent or third (apart from the C.C. and O.C.) party or group for work in Russia; (2) There are 0.C. supporters in Nashe Slovo in numbers unknown to the public. This is dual representation! (O.C.+ Nashe Slovo). (3) Nashe Slovo is for the Chkheidze faction in the Duma (and the O.C. and Plekhanov+Alexinsky are also for it). Isn’t that corruption?

Taking Lichtstrahlen as a group, and considering it more important than Zetkin’s, is not funny.

This group includes Borchardt+Radek+contributors to Lichtstrahlen. That is enough.

This group has a little journal (while Zetkin and Co. haven’t got one).

Borchardt was the first to say publicly: Die Sozialdemokratie abgedankt.[1] [4] That was not propaganda but a most important political act. It was action, and not promise.

The most important thing for us (i.e., all the Left) is a clear, complete, precise Prinzipienerklärung.[2] Without this all the so-called programmes of action are nothing but talk and deception. What did the Zetkin “resolution of action” in Berne come to? Nothing in terms of action! Nothing in terms of principle![5]

The Borchardt group, if it comes forward (together with us or separately) as an anonymous group (Stern, or Pfeil, or whatever) with a clear-cut Prinzipienerklärung+a call to revolutionary action, will play an outstanding part in world history.

Meanwhile, Zetkin and Co., having everything in their hands (newspapers, journals, connections with Berner Tagwacht, the opportunity of visiting Switzerland, etc.), have done nothing in 10 months to unite the international Left. This is a disgrace.

All the best,

P.S. I advise you not to enlist. It’s stupid to help the enemy. You will be doing a service to the Scheidemanns. Better emigrate. Really, that will be better. There is now a desperate need of Left-wing workers.

The opposition in Germany is the product of ferment among the masses, whereas the Bolsheviks represent the orientation of a little group of revolutionaries.”

That is not the Marxist approach.

It is Kautskianism—or a dodge.

What was the 1847 Communist Manifesto and its group? The product of ferment among the masses? Or the orientation of a little group of revolutionaries? Or both the one and the other?

And what are we, the Central Committee? Or hasn’t the R.S.D.L. Duma group proved that there are links with the masses? And what about the Petrograd Proletarsky Golos? Or is there no “ferment among the masses” in Russia?

The Left in Germany will make a historic mistake if, on the pretext that they (they =Zetkin, Laufenberg,   Borchardt, Thalheimer, Duncker! Ha, ha!) are “the product of ferment among the masses”, they refuse to come forward with a Prinzipienerklärung (anonymously, on behalf of a Stern group, etc. Later the workers will support it and think about it).

There is need for a Left statement and programme so as to develop the “ferment among the masses”. It is necessary because of such ferment. It is necessary so as to transform the “ferment” into a “movement”. It is necessary so as to develop “ferment” in the rotten International.

And immediately!

You are quite, quite wrong!

P.S. You didn’t say clearly in your letter to Wijnkoop whether it was set or proposed for August 20. Drop me and Grigory a line about this (if it is urgent).

Rakovsky (see his pamphlet)[6] is for defence of the fatherland. To my mind, we should part company with such people.


[1] The Social-Democrats recanted.—Ed.

[2] Statement of principles.—Ed.

[3] A reference to the drafts of a manifesto, declaration and resolutions written for preliminary discussion among Left-wing delegates of various socialist parties and for subsequent motioning at the Zimmerwald Conference on behalf of the Left (see present edition, Vol. 35, pp. 193–94).

[4] J. Borchardt’s pamphlet, Vor und nach dem 4. August 1914. Hat die deutsche Sozialdemokratie abgedankt? Verlag der Lichtstrahlen (Before and After August 4, 1914. Have the German Social-Democrats Recanted? Lichtstrahlen Publishers), Berlin, 1915, in which he first sharply criticised the treacherous behaviour of German Social-Democrats at the outbreak of the war. For Lenin’s opinion on this pamphlet see present edition, Vol. 21, p. 130.

[5] A reference to the resolution adopted by the International Conference of Socialist Women held in Berne from March 26 to 28, 1915. See Lenin’s article “On the Struggle Against Social-Chauvinism” (present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 199–203).

[6] Ch. Dumas, C. Racovski, Les Socialises et la Guerre, Bucharest, 1915.

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