V. I.   Lenin

A Letter to V. A. Karpinsky[1]

Published: First published in 1929 in Lenin Miscellany XI. Written on December 26, 1916 (January 8, 1917). Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 217-219.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and and Others
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (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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Dear Comrades!

I am sending you a most important communication.

Discuss it and pass it on to Brilliant[2] and Guilbeaux: then we shall know whom they support and who they are: cowards or men capable of fighting.

The whole struggle will now be shifted here.

Let me know how they reacted and if there are any chances of publishing a protest or an open letter.

We should take advantage of the fact that Name enjoys undisputed authority in French Switzerland.

Best wishes, Yours

The Executive (Parteivorstand) of the Swiss Socialist Party met in Zurich on Sunday, January 7, 1917.

It adopted a disgraceful decision—to postpone indefinitely the party congress, which was to have met in Berne on February 11, 1917 for the express purpose of discussing the war issue. The excuse: the need to fight the high cost of living; the workers are not yet ready; there was no unanimity in the commission, arid similar excuses that are an outright insult to the party. (Two drafts have already been drawn up in the commission and published confidentially: one, against fatherland defence, prepared by Affolter, Nobs, Schmid, Naine and Graber; the other, for fatherland defence, prepared by G. Muller. Pflüger, Huber and Klöti.)

The January 7 meeting was very stormy. Grimm led the Rights, i.e., the opportunists, i.e., the nationalists, shouting the most vile things against the “foreigners”, against   the youth, accusing them of a “split” (!!!), and so on. Naine, Platten, Nobs and Münzenberg firmly opposed postponing the congress. Name told Grimm outright that he was destroying himself as an “international secretary”!

Adoption of this decision signifies complete betrayal by Grimm and is an insult to the party on the part of the opportunist leaders, the social-nationalists. The entire Zimmerwald-Kienthal group and action have been factually reduced to an empty phrase by a handful of leaders (Grimm included) who threaten to resign (sic!!) if defence of the fatherland is rejected. They are determined not to allow this issue to be discussed by the party “mob” until the end of the war. The Grütlianer[3] (January 4 and 8) is speaking the truth and is giving this party a slap in the face.

The whole struggle of the Left, the whole struggle for Zimmerwald and Kienthal, has now been shifted to other ground: struggle against this gang of leaders defiling the party. We must everywhere rally the Left and discuss methods of struggle. Hurry!

Would not the best method be (not a minute must be lost) to secure immediate adoption in La Chaux-de-Fonds and Geneva of protest resolutions, plus open letters to Name, and publish them without delay? There can be no doubt that the “leaders” will bring every lever into motion to prevent protests appearing in the press.

The open letter should frankly state everything recounted here and square]y put the question: (1) Does Name refute these facts? (2) Does he consider it permissible, in a democratic party of socialists, for the Executive to repeal congress decisions?—(3) Permissible to hide from the party the way the betrayers of socialism voted at the meeting of January 7, 1917, and the speeches they made there?—(4) Permissible to accept a chairman of the International Socialist Commit tee (Grimm) who combines Left phrases with assistance to the Swiss nationalists, opponents of Zimmerwald, “fatherland defenders” Pflüger, Huber and Co., in virtually disrupting the Zimmerwald decisions?—(5) Permissible to abuse, in the Berner Tagwacht, the German social-patriots, while secretly helping the Swiss social-patriots? etc.

I repeat: this will not be allowed to appear in the news papers. That is clear. Publication of an open letter to Name on behalf of one or another group is the best method. If that is possible, lose no time and reply without delay.


[1] This letter was written in Zurich and sent to V. A. Karpinsky in Geneva. It was meant for discussion in R.S.D.L.P. groups abroad.

[2] Brilliant—G. Y. Sokolnikov (1888–1939), joined the Party in 1905. During the war contributed to Trotsky’s paper Nashe Slovo (Our Word).

[3] Grütlianer—organ of the Swiss bourgeois-reformist Grütli-Verein; founded in Zurich in 1851. Became a social-chauvinist mouthpiece during the war. Lenin described it as the organ of “the consistent and avowed servants of the bourgeoisie in the labour movement”.

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