Vladimir Lenin

Letter To Yelets Workers[1]

Written: 6 August, 1918.
First Published: 11 August Sovetskaya Gazeta (Yelets) No. 78, 1918; Published according to the newspaper text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Progress Publishers, Moscow, Volume 28, 1965, pages 48-50
Translated (and edited): Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters
Online Version: V.I.Lenin Internet Archive, 2002

I have received a clipping from a Yelets newspaper containing a report of a special meeting of the Yelets branch of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party held on July 27. I see from it that Mochenov reported on the Saratov conference of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, where eight branches approved their Central Committee’s tactics which had been defended by Mr. Kolegayev, while thirteen branches demanded the party’s reorganisation and a change of tactics.

I note that at the Yelets meeting Comrade Rudakov insisted that “our party [the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries] be reorganised”and its name changed, that it be purged and that under no circumstances should it be allowed to fall apart and disappear. A certain Kryukov then alleged that he had spoken to representatives of the central government in Moscow and that Comrades Avanesov, Sverdlov and Bonch Bruyevich had declared that the Soviet government favoured the existence of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party. He also alleged that in a conversation with him I had said the same thing and had stated that the Communists too had come so far from their former theories, from their books, that they had no programme at all at present, while in their policies a great deal was being indirectly borrowed from Narodnik theory, and so on and so forth.

I consider it my duty to say this is pure fiction and that I have never spoken to this Kryukov. I earnestly request our comrades, the workers and peasants of the Yelets tJyezd, to be extremely wary of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who all too frequently tell lies.

A few words about my view of them. Types like Kolegayev and the others are certainly just pawns in the hands of the whiteguards, the monarchists and the Savinkovs, who in Yaroslavl showed who was “profiting”by the Left Socialist-Revolutionary revolt. Their stupidity and spinelessness brought Kolegayev and his friends to this degradation, and good riddance! They will go down in history as “Savinkov lackeys#8221;. But the facts show that among the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries there are people (and in Saratov they are in the majority) who were ashamed of this stupidity and spinelessness, of this servility to monarchism and the interests of the landowners. We can only welcome it if these people desire to change even their party’s name (I have heard they want to call themselves “Village Commune Communists”or “Narodnik Communists#8221;, etc.).

The pure ideological basis of this Narodism, an alliance with which the Bolshevik Communists have never rejected, is, firstly, disagreement with Marxism, and, secondly, complete agreement with the theory of “equal land tenure” (and with the law of equal land tenure).

We favour such an alliance, an agreement with the middle peasants, for we worker Communists have no grounds for quarrelling with the middle peasants and are prepared to make them a number of concessions. We have proved this, and proved it in deed, because we have been carrying out the law on the socialisation of land with absolutely good faith, despite the fact that we do not entirely agree with it.[2]Generally, we have been and are in favour of ruthless war on the kulaks, but we favour an agreement with the middle peasants and union with the poor peasants. An agreement with the middle peasants must not be construed as necessarily implying agreement with the Left SocialistRevolutionaries. Nothing of the kind.

We passed the socialisation law at a time when we had no agreement with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries; and this law, in fact, is an expression of our agreement with the middle peasants, with the peasant masses, and not with the Left Socialist-Revolutionary petty intellectuals.

Comrade workers and peasants, don’t seek an agreement with the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, for we have seen and experienced their unreliability. Spread communism among the poor peasants; the majority will be on our side. Try to make concessions to the middle peasants. Treat them as tactfully and as fairly as possible. We can and should make concessions to them. Be ruthless in your attitude towards the tiny handful of exploiters, including the kulaks and the grain profiteers, who are growing rich on the people’s misfortunes and the starvation of the workers-towards the handful of kuinks who are sucking the blood of the working people.

V. Ulyanov (N. Lenin)
Moscow, August 6, 1918


[1] Lenin wrote this letter in reply to the report about the meeting of the Yelets branch of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, which appeared in the Yelets Sovetskaya Gazeta on Jylu 31, 1918. The copy of the newspaper carrying the report was delivered to Lenin by K. Grodner, a representative of the Yelets branch of the R.C.P.(B), who was sent to Moscow for the purpose of refuting the slander of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Kryukov, with which Lenin deals in his letter. On August 11, Sovetskaya Gazeta carried Lenin’s letter and Grodner’s report, in which the latter said he had ascertained from talks with Y. M. Sverdlov, V. A. Avanesov and V. D. Bonch-Bruyevich that they did not say what Kryokov had charged them with saying.

Sovetskaya Gazeta—organ of the Yelets Uyez Executive Committee, Orel Gubernia. Appeared from May 16, 1918, to March 2, 1919.

[2] Reference is to the decree on land adopted by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets on October 26 (November 8), 1917. The decree abolished private ownership of land and proclaimed the nationialisation. However, the Peasant Mandate, which formed part of the decree, insisted on the distribution of land among working peasants “in conformity with a labour standard or a subsistence standard quota”, putting forward the idea of land socialistion. Lenin’s comment on the nationalisation of land and “equal land tenure” is to be found page 307-316 of this volume.