V. I.   Lenin


Published: First published in 1929 in the journal Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 7. Sent from Zurich to Christiania. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 403-407.
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

June 17, 1916

Dear Friend,

Nadezhda Konstantinovna is writing to you about other matters, but I will reply to your P.S. to me.

You write that “our people have no evil intentions”, and you add that for the Kievskys “it’s a matter of the national question alone, and that they write the articles themselves”.

If that were the case, why then have a paragraph in the Rules about the right of discussion for contributors on the demand of two (note: not even three, but two, i.e., distrust of Bukharin on the part of the Japanese)? In that event, this paragraph would have no meaning. And it is a thing without precedent for two editors out of six or seven to demand “freedom” of discussion (alleged discussion) not for themselves, but for contributors.

No. The Japanese woman cannot insert meaningless paragraphs into the Rules. The meaning of this paragraph is just this, and only this, that our hands are being tied, and we find ourselves helpless against the striving of the Poles to start an intrigue.

You write that you have not seen Gazeta Robotnicza (you should have been sent it, and also the C.O.A. resolution adopted with the participation of Grigory: I am writing to him and Zina at once, to have them send it to you immediately). You say, moreover, that for this reason “you don’t know what it’s all about”.

But you add there and then, for some reason: “I know, I feel, that you have cooled off towards Radek and Co.”

You will agree that this is somewhat strange. After all,   my apprehension about intrigue on the part of Radek and Co., my conviction that this is so, springs directly from the facts concerning Vorbote (I wrote to you about it).[1] That is the first point. And the second, and most important, is that it springs from Gazeta Robotnicza.

It is in that paper that Radek and Co. began an intrigue against us, when we had nowhere written a single line against them![2] After all, this is a fact. You can’t brush facts aside. The old “game” (the word used in the C.O.A. resolution) of playing up our split with Chkheidze and Co. began in Gazeta Robotnicza, and is Tyszka’s old, long familiar game.[3]

So what are we to do? Either we allow this game not only to grow unhindered, but to seep through to our journal. This is what the paragraph in the Japanese woman’s draft Rules leads to! And it would mean a hopeless and final war against Radek and Co.

You write, as though against me, that “it is not to our advantage to quarrel with the Zimmerwald Left”.

I reply: if we are not to have a final quarrel with Radek and Co. (and through them with others as well, should things go badly), we must, for that very purpose, make this kind of “game” and intrigue impossible in our journal.

That is just why I refuse to go along with the discussing “contributors”, and refuse to join Kommunist.

It’s one of two things: if we agree to restore Kommunist, it would mean opening the door to the development of that intrigue; it would mean us opening the door to it. This would be a mad policy, I am sure. Does the Japanese woman understand all its implications? I don’t know, but that isn’t very important: the “mechanics” of relations abroad would itself lead to such a result, regardless of the malice or angelic goodness and purity of the Japanese woman’s intentions.

The other prospect: not to revive Kommunist. To issue another miscellany. Give the editors the right of discussion. Analyse the national question. Beat off Gazeta Robotnicza’s game and intrigue.

Radek or his friends attacked us in Gazeta Robotnicza. We replied in our miscellany,[4] only in ours, please note, not in one published in common with the Zimmerwald Left of other countries.

That’s where it ends.

The Zimmerwald Left, whom Radek tried without success to drag into a quarrel with us at Kienthal (in talks with Flatten and others, he wanted to deprive us of equality in the main commission of the Left but the Left wouldn’t let him do it)—these Zimmerwald Left have nothing to do with the struggle between Gazeta Robotnicza and Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata.

The Zimmerwald Left cannot intervene in this struggle, they cannot take offence and complain: Radek and Co. were the first to attack in Gazeta Robotnicza, and they have had their reply in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata (or in some other miscellany). In such a situation, no efforts by Radek and Co. can conceivably bring about a quarrel between ourselves and the Zimmerwald Left (just as at Kienthal Radek failed to set us at loggerheads, either with Flatten or with the German Left, though he did try to).

While Radek and Co. reply to us in the next issue of Gazeta Robotnicza, and we to them in another miscellany (I insist absolutely on agreements from miscellany to miscellany), quite a lot of time will go by.

And during all that time, if that is the approach, Radek and Co.’s dirty trick in Gazeta Robotnicza will not be able to set us at loggerheads with the Left.

That is why I have said, and still say, that I will not on any account now either join Kommunist, or accept equal rights with the Japanese woman, or membership at all jointly with Radek in our own miscellany, because I am convinced that this will make inevitable a quarrel with the Left.

If we issue Kommunist No. 3, then Radek and Bronski and Pannekoek (and the general public) will have the right to expect, and will expect, a continuation of the same thing; they will have the right to expect, and will expect, all possible guarantees for contributors; they will have the right, finally (and this is particularly important), to take offence and intervene if we reply there to Gazeta Robotnicza’s dirty tricks. This throws the gates wide open to intrigue.

In that event, Radek and Co. will surely bring about a quarrel between us and the Left, because even Pannekoek will have the most sacred right to say: it wasn’t that kind of Kommunist that I agreed to join, I don’t want   “attacks” on Gazeta Robotnicza (he will depict defence as attack: you know how that’s done).

In that case, Radek and Co. will have the right to issue any letter to the general public, both in Russian and in German; they will have the right to say: Kommunist was in practice (this is a fact) the common organ of yourselves+ Pannekoek+Radek+Bronski, while you use it to “offend” Gazeta Robotnicza, you are beginning to split the Left, and so on and so forth (as he had already been saying at Kienthal, note that: he had already used this strategy at Kienthal).

And in the eyes of the whole Left, the blame falls on us! We allowed ourselves to be drawn into a quarrel with the Left, we fell into the Tyszka trap. That is where continuing the Kommunist leads to; that is why I refuse to go in.

Whereas on the contrary, I repeat, if—in a separate, new miscellany, without Pannekoek, Radek, Bronski—we reply to Gazeta Robotnicza, reply to Bukharin and anyone else, this is absolutely no concern of the Zimmerwald Left, and they cannot either interfere or take offence. Radek cannot “ complain” either to Pannekoek or to the Germans that Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata has replied to Gazeta Robotnicza.

And then, in addition, there is also the question of defeatism. The same applies.

And then there is also the question of the Chkheidze group. The same applies. For that is what Gazeta Robotnicza was playing on.

If the Japanese woman has no “evil intentions”, she cannot reject an agreement on one miscellany (without Radek and the others), when we provide for a discussion with the Japanese and Bukharin. We are agreeable likewise to have it in a separate pamphlet (if Bukharin wants it, for he will then be able in advance to look at my “tone”, about which he has expressed fears). It will then be possible to separate the arguments with Bukharin from the joint work with Bukharin.

My articles and Grigory’s about defeatism, self– determination, Gazeta Robotnicza’s dirty tricks, Chkheidze, “ self-defence”, etc., your articles about the “War Industries Committees”, etc., Varin’s and Safarov’s (we mustn’t have foreigners in this miscellany), etc., and whatever they please from Bukharin and the Japanese.

There is the plan for an agreement on one miscellany.

The Japanese woman cannot refuse, unless she has evil intentions.

One cannot insist on Kommunist, if it has fallen to pieces; it is absurd and ridiculous to drag me by force into Kommunist; they won’t succeed.

But if the Japanese woman won’t have an agreement on a separate miscellany, that means she has evil intentions or (which is all the same for the cause) her policy leads to an evil intrigue.

And then we publish Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata alone.

All the best,


[1] A reference to K. Radek’s intrigues against Lenin as a member of the Vorbote editorial board. For details, see pp. 394–95 

[2] A reference to “Thesen über Imperialismus und nationale Unterdrückung” (Theses on Imperialism and National Oppression), __PRINTERS_P_675_COMMENT__ 43*   first published in Vorbote No. 2, April 1916, on behalf of the organ of the Polish Social-Democratic opposition, Gazeta Robotnicza (Workers’ Newspaper).

[3] A reference to the split within the Social-Democratic Party of Poland and Lithuania which lasted more than four years, from 1912 to 1916.

Leon Tyszka, a member of the Chief Executive, was a leading figure in the split. He supported the Executive and took a conciliatory stand in respect of the anti-Bolshevik groups within the R.S.D.L.P. on questions of Party organisation. For details on the split, see present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 495–98.

[4] Lenin’s article “The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up” was published in Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata No. 1, October 1916 (see present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 320–60).

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