V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1934 in Proletarskaya Revolutsia No. 4. Sent from Zurich to Berne. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 218-222.
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.
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May 21, 1910

Dear Grigory,

I don’t want to turn our correspondence into an altercation. The question is a serious one and, although I have discussed it more than once, I will repeat my views since it is a necessity.

After more than six months’ work with the “publishers” (from Kiev) and several months of thinking over this experience from every point of view, the editorial board of the Central Organ sent them in the winter of 1915 a letter which you also signed. In this letter the editorial board stated that it was giving up participation in Kommunist, on account of a number of considerations which were set forth in exceptional detail, took up a great deal of space in our letter, and amounted to this: that we could not assume Party responsibility for such co-editors, that their attitude to the cause was a non-Party one, and that we must regard the temporary attempt to reach understanding as unsuccessful.

We decided to publish Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata.

Then you began to have hesitations, which led to our last talk at Kienthal. I made a concession to you by agreeing to an attempt to restore relations, on the condition that (1) there should be an agreement between the editorial board of the Central Organ and the publishers for each issue; (2) they should give up their group position of an “ imperialist economic” character, their “playing” on the differences with Radek, etc.

These conditions were not written down, and you now dispute them. But that dispute has become unimportant,   since you yourself have set forth in writing, in your draft letter to A., your conditions, and the publishers have not accepted even these! (and you had been assuring me that the question was settled, that they would not insist on equal rights!).

The fact is, consequently, that if, even after our meeting at Kienthal, one were to accept your “interpretation”, i.e., that I had laid down more extensive conditions than you, even so, your lesser conditions have also been rejected by the publishers.

It is obvious that your direct and unquestionable duty after this was to attack the publishers with all your strength, to break with them for good, and to use every effort to prove to Alexander that it was impossible to have any dealings with these gentry as editors of a leading journal.

Instead of this you propose to surrender to them, to renounce all conditions and to withdraw the letter written by the editorial board of the Central Organ which you yourself signed! And this on the pretext that “they should not be taken seriously”. In reality, what you are proposing is that your policy should not be taken seriously. You reduce the letter from the editorial board to devil knows what, abjure your own point of view and give the right to the publishers to draw the conclusion that the editorial board of the Central Organ was merely throwing its weight about!

These are no longer hesitations, these are hesitations cubed, which are turning into something much worse.

It remains for me only to repeat for the last time why I don’t enter Kommunist, why I consider it anti-Party and harmful, why I maintain the position of the letter from the editorial board of the Central Organ breaking with the publishers.

We concluded a temporary “federation” with the publishers, and called it a “federation” in so many words, quite definitely making a reservation about its temporary character, “as an experiment”. When we concluded this temporary alliance, the publishers were opposing the wobblings of Bukharin (at the Conference in Berne in March 1915), and there was not a single fact pointing to any rapprochement of this group of three (the publishers + Bukharin) with special views of their own.

But after the very first number of the journal they did come together in this way, and when, after a long preliminary correspondence, I called their trend “imperialist Economism”, you wrote to me that you agreed. This was in March 1910. It confirmed once more the most detailed letter from the editorial hoard of the Central Organ written during the winter.

The Party—and international—situation now is such that the Central Committee must continue to go ahead independently, not lying its hands either in Russian or in international affairs. The “publishers”, good for nothing as writers and as politicians (which the editorial board of the Central Organ was obliged to recognise in its winter letter), want to tie us down with an agreement about equal rights, i.e., we must agree to grant equal rights to a lady who hasn’t written a single line and doesn’t understand a single thing, and to a “young man” who is entirely under her influence. And they will make use of this equality to play on our differences with Radek, with Bukharin and others!

It is simply madness to agree to equal rights on such conditions, it means ruining all the work.

It is not true that they want “only a discussion”. They have every opportunity for a discussion. They have money. Nearly a year has gone by. Why don’t they write, why don’t they publish discussion pamphlets? Because they don’t want to take responsibility themselves! That is clear. And it is this that constitutes their mockery of Party principles, because anyone who proclaims that he has differences must think out his case, come forward openly, face his responsibility, and not “play” and not aspire to “equality” when the Party does not even know the position they take up (and when they have no position).

It is a fact that Bukharin stumbles at every step into the views which he set forth in writing in March 1915 (at the Conference), and which you also rejected. You admitted this fact by agreeing in March 1916 (a year later) with my assessment of “imperialist Economism”.

By granting “equality”, you grant equality in face of the Party to the wobblings of Bukharin! You tie our hands and encourage these wobblings. That is an insane policy.

You know that Radek, in the first place, was so “   offended” (at our insistence on the printing of our theses in Pannekoek’s journal[2]) that—as you yourself wrote to me in March 1916—he carries on “no team work” with you! And the differences with him have not disappeared; on the contrary, you yourself agreed with me that his estimate of the Irish insurrection was a philistine one. And you propose to give “equality” to publishers who hide behind Radek, playing (for 2,000 francs!) on our differences with him!! This is an insane policy.

Secondly, Radek is one thing and the editorial board of his paper (Gazeta Robotnicza) is another. That this paper has also started a game (using the Chkheidze group, Trotsky, etc.) you yourself have admitted. Remember that this paper appeared in February 1916, and that the letter of the Committee of Organisations Abroad[1] against it was worked out with your participation. Well then, is it serious politics if we now in our leading journal grant “equality” to people who want to make their career by “utilising” our struggle with the Poles, who betrayed us to Vandervelde and Kautsky on July 3 (16), 1914??

Thirdly, you know that at Kienthal Radek wanted to build up a majority against us among the Left, at the meeting of the Left, making use of Fröhlich, the Robmann woman, etc., and that an ultimatum was required to force him to recognise the independence of our Central Committee. What new “game” will these people make of this when the question arises of the attitude to Junius (the question has already arisen), or of a “mechanical separation” from the Kautskians and others! Do you guarantee that there will be none?? If you do, this would amount on your part to renouncing all our policy. If you don’t, then it is insane to tie our hands after this in the editorial board of our leading journal.

In no circumstances do I accept this insane policy. This is my final decision. I continue to think that only the publication of Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata disentangles the affair (which you want to put in a hopeless tangle). Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata groups around us a number of most useful workers (Varin, Safarov, the Letts, etc.), detaches Bukharin   from the publishers to us, enables us to lead the Party (and the international Left) and not to march at the tail of ... Madam Publisher.

Write to me precisely what your decision is. Formally the matters now stand in this way, that the editorial board of the Central Organ has broken with Kommunist, and its final attempt (even your lesser conditions) has been rejected. That means that we must announce in print that Kommunist has stopped, and that Sbornik Sotsial-Demokrata is going to appear.

I shake your hand and send you salut.

V. U.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 157–60.—Ed.

[2] Lenin is referring to the magazine Vorbote (Herald), the theoretical organ of the Zimmerwald Left. It appeared in German in Berne. Two issues were published: No. 1 in January and No. 2 in April 1916. Its official publishers were Henriette Roland-Hoist and Anton Pannekoek. Lenin took an active part in the foundation of the   magazine and, after the publication of No. 1, in organising its translation into French, so that it could be more widely distributed.

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