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 393-396.
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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For Alexander

May 23, 1916

Dear Friend,

I have only just received from Grigory your letter to him of May 19.

You write that “the correspondence and negotiations with Kommunist have become a terrible bore”. I quite understand you, but do have patience! You can’t, after all, once you have set about negotiating, have attacks of nerves and fall into despair. That’s not the proletarian way, really and truly.

You put two questions: (1) to co-opt two more (C.O. supporters) to the editorial board; (2) to start a Discussion Section in Kommunist.

On the first point you write: “From conversations with them I realise that they have nothing against it, though of course it grieves them.”

I began thinking about your plan. I think that to take on non-writers (particularly after all our sad experiments) would be an absolute iniquity, something we could not justify before the Party. We could, perhaps, find one writer (I have one in my mind; I must find out more about him, and think it over again and again, before saying yes or no). It’s much harder getting another one.

Could you modify your plan, to make it workable, in this way: either the C.O. editorial board co-opts two Party writers, if they are available (then there will be seven); or, if it manages to find only one, the publishers (the Kievskys, he and she) delegate one of their number to the   editorial board (then there will be five: Bukharin+a publisher+three here)?

(I personally would find the latter particularly suitable, because (a) it would obviate the need to invent editors; (b) it would not reduce the “rights” of the publishers, because it is all the same to have one to one or two to two; (c) it would create an editorial board of writers, which is extremely important in a Party sense, to combat the striving abroad for editorial positions.)

Think it over and reply (if not inconvenient, probe the ground among the publishers).

As regards the Discussion Section, your plan is debatable, if it is implemented in a practical way and if one little thing, which you could not have known of, is eliminated.

In a practical way means laying down precisely who has the right to have a discussion article inserted. All members of the editorial board. That is unquestionable. Is it sufficient? I think it is. The editorial board will consist of five or seven persons.

The “one little thing” is this. A discussion within the Party. Undoubtedly. Well, but what about inflaming differences or opening doors for groups abroad which are not in the Party? This is the point. The publishers made Kommunist impossible, because they did not want any discussion, they did not write or prepare anything at all for discussion—but played on Radek’s striving to crawl through the cracks of our Party from outside. Radek and the Nashe Slovo people, and many others among the groups abroad, are simply straining, in the guise of discussion, to bring about divisions amongst us, to blow up discontents, and hamper our work (an old game of exiles abroad!).

You may not know that Radek pushed us out of the Vorbote editorial board. It was initially agreed that there would be a joint editorial board composed of two groups: (1) the Dutch (maybe+Trotsky) and (2) us (i.e., Radek, Grigory and me). This condition gave us equal rights on the editorial board.

Radek intrigued for months, and got the “missus” (Roland-Hoist) to cancel this plan. We were demoted to the position of contributors. It’s a fact!

Is it proper to reward Radek for this feat by giving him the right to “discuss”, and the publishers, the right to hide behind Radek? That will be not discussion, but dissension and intrigue. (1) Gazeta Robotnicza (February 1916), in which Radek participates, carried some purely factional attacks on us, and a resolution on Nashe Slovo lines. (2) Now on the question of assessing the Irish insurrection (a most important question, is it not? Not. abstract “theory”!) both Radek[1] and Kulisher (the Cadet in Rech[2] are in full agreement, stupidly calling it a “putsch”.

This is incredible, but it’s a fact!

If, in the guise of “discussion”, the publishers want to provide a platform for all the groups abroad wishing to fight our Party without joining it, that is not discussion, it is a game.

X If they don’t want this, why not lay down precisely, for example, that the right to open discussions is restricted (1) to members of the editorial board; (2) to the Party organisations in Russia; (3) to the C.O.A.,[3] being the X organisation of the Party outside Russia?

Kommunist was an alliance with the Dutch and Radek. This alliance has been changed by the fact that we were downgraded in the Dutch-Radek journal from editors to contributors. So don’t cherish any harmful illusions about the alliance remaining the same! These are harmful illusions! We have to go forward ourselves, not allowing our hands to be tied. Not in any way.

The practical conclusion: think over (and I will think it over and write to Grigory about it) the following §§:

1) the composition of the editorial board is changed: 5 or 7 (see above);

2) another title is chosen (Sbornik or the like);

X\ 3) explicit rules of discussion (e.g., in the spirit of | ]; X’

4) Switzerland to be the place of publication (for some reason you don’t mention this point. Why?);

5) the income is divided in such-and-such a way. Will the publishers agree to provide 1/2 for the cost of transport   and of maintenance for the organiser of contacts, etc., i.e., yourself?


V. Ulyanov

Thousands of best wishes, and don’t let your nerves go. Chiefs have no right to have fits of nerves!


[1] A reference to Radek’s article “Ein ausgespieltes Lied” (Their Song Is Over) which appeared in Berner Tagwacht No. 108, May 9, 1916. For Lenin’s assessment, see the article “The Discussion on Self-Determination Summed Up” (see present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 354–55).

[2] The article by A. Kulisher, “The Dublin Putsch”, referred to here, appeared in Rech No. 102, April 15 (28), 1916.

[3] The Committee of the Organisation Abroad was set up in December 1911 at a conference of Bolshevik groups abroad.

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