V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written later than March 11, 1916
Published: First published in 1929 in Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 7. Sent from Zurich to Stockholm. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 213-217.
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 Friend,

As regards your letter and its mention of the current reproach that I am “uncompromising”, I should like to discuss the subject with you in greater detail.

As regards James, he never understood politics and was always against the split. James is a wonderful person, but on these subjects his judgements are profoundly wrong.

In Russia (and now in the new International too) the question of a split is the basic one. Any compromise here would be a crime. I know well how many good people (James, Galyorka, the Petrograd “friends” among the intellectuals) were against the split in the Duma group. All of them were 1,000 times wrong. The split was essential. And the split with Chkheidze and Co. now, too, is absolutely essential. All who waver on this subject are enemies of the proletariat, and we must be uncompromising with them.

But who is wavering? Not only Trotsky and Co. but also Yuri+Eug. B. (as late as last summer they were “creating scenes” on account of Chkheidze!!). Then the Poles (the opposition). In their Gazeta Robotnicza No. 25, there is their resolution: once again for manoeuvring, as in Brussels on July 3 (16), 1914.

With them an uncompromising attitude is obligatory.

Radek is the best of them; it was useful to work with him (for the Zimmerwarld Left as well, by the way), and we did work. But Radek is also wavering. And our tactics here are two-sided (this Yuri+Nik. Iv. absolutely could not or would not understand): on the one hand, to help Radek to move   left, to unite all who could be united for the Zimmerwald Left. On the other hand, not to allow one iota of wavering on the basic issue.

The basic issue is the break with the O.C., with Chkheidze and Co.

The Poles are wavering, and published a most black-guardly resolution after No. 1 of Kommunist.

The conclusion?

Either to hang on to the title of Kommunist, and open the door to squabbling and wavering, to letters to the editor (from Radek, Bronski, perhaps Pannekoek and others), complaints, whining, gossip, etc.

Not on any account.

This would be harmful to the cause.

It means helping the scoundrels of the O.C., Chkheidze and Co.

Not on any account.

Kommunist was a temporary bloc to achieve a definite object. The object has been achieved: the journal was published, the rapprochement attained (then it was possible, before Zimmerwald). Now we have to go by another road, to go further.

Kommunist has become harmful. It has to be stopped, and replaced by a different title: Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata (edited by the editorial board of “Sotsial-Demokrat”).[2]

Only in this way will we avoid squabbling, avoid wavering.

In Russia, is there also discord? Oh, of course! But it is not our business to increase it. Let Chkheidze and Co., Trotsky and Co. busy themselves with increasing the discord (that is their “profession”). Our job is to pursue our own line. The fruits of such work are manifest: the Petrograd workers are 100 times better than the Petrograd intellectuals (even the “sympathisers”...).

We had to make temporary concessions to the “trio” (Yuri + Eug. Bosh+Nik. Iv.), because at that time it was impossible to bring out the journal otherwise (now it is possible); and the main thing was that we had not yet seen Eug. Bosh+ Yuri at work, and could hope that the work would lead them upwards.

But they went downwards.

And the temporary alliance must be dissolved. Only in that way will the cause not suffer. Only in that way will they too learn.

For we are not against discussion. We are against editorial rights for those who displayed unforgivable vacillation ( perhaps owing to their youth? then we shall wait: perhaps in five years’ time they will straighten themselves out).

Nik. Iv. is an economist who studies seriously, and in this we have always supported him. But he is (1) credulous where gossip is concerned and (2) devilishly unstable in politics.

The war pushed him towards semi-anarchist ideas. At the conference which adopted the Berne resolutions (the spring of 1915)[3] he produced theses (I have them!) which were the height of stupidity, a disgrace, semi-anarchism.

I attacked sharply. Yuri and Eug. Bosh listened and remained satisfied that I did not allow any falling away to the left (they declared at the time their complete disagreement with N. Iv.).

Six months passed. Nik. Iv. studies economics. He doesn’t occupy himself with politics.

And lo and behold, on the question of self-determination, he serves us up the same nonsense. Eug. Bosh+Yuri sign it!! (Take their “theses” from N. Iv., and my reply to him.[4])

Yet the question is an important one. It is an essential question. It is inextricably bound up with the question of annexations—a most topical question.

They didn’t think it out. They didn’t read. They didn’t study. They listened two or three times to Radek (he has the old “Polish” disease: he is confused on this)—and signed.

That is a scandal. It is a disgrace. These are not editors. We must refute such people, expose them, give them time to study and think, and be in no hurry to humour them: “Here are editorial rights for you, distribute your nonsense among the workers!!”

If that is allowed, they will bring matters to polemics in the press—and then I will be obliged to call them “ imperialist Economists”, and demonstrate their complete emptiness, the completely unserious and unthought-out character of their ideas. Polemics in the press will drive them away for years.

But if we stop Kommunist now, they will think it over and drop their nonsense: they will read and become convinced. Come on, dear friends, write a serious pamphlet, if you proclaim that you have “differences” on policy (which you have never studied or worked on), let’s have it! They will think it over, and not produce it. And in a few months they will be “cured”.

That’s how it has been in the past. So it will be in the future.

On the question of annexations (and of self- determination) our position (the resolution of 1913)[1] has been completely confirmed by the war. And this question has become a topical one. While Radek+the Dutchmen (Gorter and Pannekoek) have obviously got muddled on this. In Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata we shall explain this affair again and again.

We must conduct matters so as to:

(1) stop Kommunist;

(2) in publishing the miscellany about the Jews,[5] give Yuri+Eug. Bosh as much humouring, rights and privileges as possible (it won’t harm the cause in this case). Detailed conditions in a written agreement;

(3) the same as regards their transport group (take their regulations and our amendments to them);

(4) publish Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata under the editorship of the editorial board of Sotsial-Demokrat.

We shall invite them to contribute. We shall say to them: you have differences? Prepare a serious pamphlet! We shall undertake to print it. (They won’t write it, because they haven’t even begun to think seriously about the question; they haven’t even studied it!!)

Now that will be a business-like policy.

Eug. Bosh has long been intending to go to Russia. There she could be useful. Here she has nothing to do, and she will invent something to do.

Do you know that affiction of life abroad: “inventing” things to do for people stranded abroad? A terrible affliction.

Well, that’s all for the time being. Gather all the documents and put yourself abreast of the facts. We shall talk about it again and again.


P.S. I attach a copy of my reply to N. I. Bukharin on the subject of what the new “differences” mean.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 427–29.—Ed.

[2] Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata (Social-Democratic Review) was published by the editorial board of the central organ of the R.S.D.L.P., the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat, under Lenin’s direct supervision. Two issues appeared: No. 1 in October, and No. 2 in December 1916.

[3] Reference is to the conference of the R.S.D.L.P. sections abroad, which was held from February 27 to March 4, 1915 in Berne (Switzerland).

In his report to the conference on “The War and the Tasks of the Party” Lenin dealt with the most vital questions of Bolshevik strategy and tactics during the imperialist war.

Bukharin put forward theses in defence of anti-Marxist views, which Lenin characterised as a trend of “imperialist Economism”.

The conference passed the resolutions written by Lenin on the character of the war, on the slogan “defence of the fatherland” on the slogans of revolutionary Social-Democracy, on the attitude to other parties and groups, etc. (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 158–64).

[4] Reference is to Lenin’s reply to Bukharin, which criticised the theses “On the Self-Determination Slogan” that had been sent to the editors of Sotsial-Demokrat over the signatures of Bukharin, Pyatakov and Eugène Bosh in November 1915. Lenin also criticised these “theses” in his articles “The Nascent Trend of Imperialist Economism”, “Reply to P. Kievsky (Y. Pyatakov)” and “A Caricature of Marxism and Imperialist Economism” (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 13–21, 22–27 and 28–76).

[5] Reference is to the proposed publication of material on the position of Jews in Russia collected by Shlyapnikov during his trip. The project was never realised.

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