V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1964 in Collected Works, Fifth (Russian) Ed., Vol. 49. Sent from Sörenberg to Christiania (Oslo). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 493-494.
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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19/IX. 1915

Dear Comrade,

Comrade Kollontai has forwarded your letter on to me. I have read and reread it attentively. I can understand your passionate protest against the emigrant colony, which apparently did anything but please you. The experience of 1905, however, has proved, in my opinion, that there are emigrants and emigrants. Part of the emigrant body, which prior to 1905 had devised the slogans and tactics of revolutionary Social-Democracy, proved in the years 1905–07 to be closely linked with the mass revolutionary movement of the working class in all its forms. The same applies today, in my opinion. If the slogans are correct, if the tactics are the right ones, the mass of the working class, at a given stage of development of its revolutionary movement, is bound to come round to these slogans. You write that for the people “Plekhanov is merely a name”. I cannot agree with this, although, perhaps, the difference between us here is only a seeming one. Plekhanov is the most striking, and in Russia, thanks to the bourgeois and liquidator press, the most popular exponent of the extremely wide spread “people’s” patriotism. In showing up Plekhanov we are, in fact, answering a host of questions, thoughts, doubts, and so on, that arise in the minds of the people. But, of course, it is up to an intelligent propagandist and agitator to translate the dispute of a revolutionary inter nationalist Marxist with Plekhanov into another language, to approach the matter in a different way, to make allowance for the specific qualities of the environment, etc., etc.

For that matter, you probably take the same view your self, since you distinguish only the “Left trends” (the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Social-Democrats) and our dispute with Plekhanov & Co. is precisely that of determining and separating trends.

As to the urgency of the problem of sending people to Russia you are quite right. We do what we can in this field lately.

The other day I received another letter from a Socialist-Revolutionary, who writes that after the conference of the Trudoviks+Popular Socialists+Socialist-Revolutionaries in Russia (a chauvinist conference)[2] he gives the Socialist-Revolutionary Party up as a bad job. I, too, doubt whether it has any viable elements in it. At any rate, I consider it a fact that there are now 2 main revolutionary trends in Russia: the revolutionary chauvinists (to over throw the tsar in order to defeat Germany) and the revolutionary-proletarian internationalists (to overthrow the tsar as a means of assisting the international revolution of the proletariat). Any rapprochement between these trends beyond occasional “joint actions” is, in my opinion, impossible and harmful. The war has linked together the proletariat of all the great powers of Europe, the war has placed on the order of the day the task of putting into effect proletarian solidarity. A difficult task, to be sure, but one that is posed by life itself and cannot be shelved.

If you are going to work in Russia and should you wish to help the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Left Social-Democrats, I would advise giving help to each of them separately, helping to link[1] the respective groups, both in different places among themselves, and with the centres abroad. The Social-Democrats separately, the Socialist-Revolutionaries separately. This will yield definite benefit and make for less squabbling. Rapprochement, when possible, will proceed more normally. There will be greater trust.

I wish you every success and all the best.

With socialist greetings,

P.S. You may write to me at the address printed in our Geneva Sotsial-Demokrat.


[1] Literature will gain from the establishment of such contacts. It will become more lively, more useful, closer to the people both with the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Social-Democrats. —Lenin

[2] The Conference of Popular Socialists, Trudoviks and Socialist Revolutionaries in Russia, held in July 1915 in Petrograd, passed   a resolution calling upon the masses to “defend the fatherland” in the imperialist war.

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