V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written after February 12, 1917
Published: First published in 1929 in Lenin Miscellany XI. Sent from Zurich to Geneva. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, page 419.
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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Dear Comrade Olga,

Many thanks for your letter on affairs in your local party. You are not alone, to tell the truth, in having bouts of “pessimism”.[1] The party here is opportunist through and through, a benevolent society for petty-bourgeois officials.

Even the alleged Left leaders (like Nobs and Flatten) are no use at all: the said two in particular.[2] You can’t do anything without access to the masses. But while taking care not to entertain excessive hopes, we should not fall into pessimism either: this is an important moment, and if we helped ever so little (a couple of leaflets or the like), that would also be something. Even that will not be lost quite without trace.

I am very glad that you have the intention to help in every possible way in the distribution of the leaflet.[3] Please, don’t forget to destroy all our correspondence.

When is your cantonal congress of the Socialist Party? I sent a draft resolution to Abramovich. Has he sent it on to you? Do you know anything (apart from what was in Volksrecht) about the congress of the Zurich party at Toss?[4]

Who reported on the Olten meeting on Feb. 1?[5] Only Guilbeaux and Co.? They got the jitters, you know! They failed to understand the task, and got scared!

I cannot lecture in French.

Every good wish of success. Regards to Vyacheslav Alexeyevich.


And how are things with the referendum? How many signatures? Are they still collecting them?[6]


[1] Sophia Ravich wrote to Lenin about the opportunism of the Geneva Social-Democratic organisation, among whose members a handful of Bolsheviks spread internationalist ideas.

[2] A reference to the attitude adopted by E. Nobs and F. Platten during the sharpening of the struggle within the Swiss Social-Democratic Party on the question of militarism and the behaviour of Social-Democrats in Parliament on the question of war credits. Thus, for instance, E. Nobs was against the motivated referendum staged by the Left on an urgent convocation of a congress. Both took part in a private meeting of Centrists held on February 3, 1917 (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 283–86).

[3] A reference to the leaflets published in Zurich by a group of Swiss, German, Polish and Russian supporters of the Zimmerwald Left. Lenin took part in editing Bulletin No. 1, organised its translation into foreign languages and did everything to circulate it.

[4] The Cantonal Congress of the Zurich Social-Democratic organisation in Toss was held on February 11 and 12, 1917. The Party organ, Volksrecht No. 36, of February 12, 1917, dealt with it in an editorial, entitled “Der Parteitag in Töss” (Party Congress at Toss).

Two draft resolutions on the war question were tabled at the Congress: = 1) that of the minority of the war commission drawn up by the Right in a spirit of social-chauvinism; and = 2) the Centrist draft of the majority. The Congress adopted the latter by 93 to 65. To prevent the social-chauvinist resolution from going through, the Left voted for the majority resolution but tabled Lenin’s “ Proposed Amendments to the Resolution on-the War Issue”, which was adopted by the Congress.

[5] On February 1, 1917, a meeting of some members of the Zimmerwald Conference was held at Olten with the participation of organisations invited to attend a conference of socialists from the Entente countries (March 1917) (see present edition, Vol. 23, p. 284).

[6] The referendum on the convocation of an extraordinary congress of the Swiss Social-Democratic Party to discuss the attitude to the war was announced by the Swiss Left-wing Social-Democrats in connection with the Executive’s decision to postpone the congress indefinitely. Despite the struggle started by the leaders of the party, R. Grimm, J. Schmid, F. Schneider, H. Greulich and G. Müller (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 283–86), against the referendum, it was enthusiastically welcomed by the workers of German– and French-speaking Switzerland. But the party congress was held only in June 1917.

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