V. I.   Lenin



Published: Published in full in 1932 in the second and third editions of Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. XXIX. First published, but not in full, in Pravda No. 17, January 21, 1925. Sent to Berne, Stockholm and Berlin. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 362-363.
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

September 20, 1918

Dear Comrades,

Today’s Pravda has quoted extracts from Kautsky’s article against Bolshevism (from Sozialistische Auslandspolitik).[1]

Kautsky’s disgraceful rubbish, childish babble and shallowest opportunism impel me to ask: why do we do nothing to fight the theoretical vulgarisation of Marxism by Kautsky?

Can we tolerate that even such people as Mehring and Zetkin keep away from Kautsky more “morally” (if one may put it so) than theoretically.... Kautsky has found nothing better to do now than to write against the Bolsheviks, they say.

Is that an argument? Can one really so weaken one’s own position? Why, that is only putting a weapon into Kautsky’s hands!!

And this instead of writing:

Kautsky has absolutely failed to understand and has distorted in a purely opportunist way 

the teaching of Marx on the state ” ” ” ” on the dictatorship of the proletariat ” ” ” ” on bourgeois democray ” ” ” ” on parliamentarism ” ” ” ” on the role and significance of the Commune, etc.

We ought to take these measures:

(1) have a detailed talk with the Left (Spartacists and others), stimulating them to make a statement of principle,   of theory, in the press, that on the question of dictatorship Kautsky is producing philistine Bernsteinism, not Marxism;

(2) publish as soon as possible in German my The State and Revolution;

(3) provide it with at least a publisher’s foreword, as for example:

The publisher considers the appearance of this booklet particularly essential at the present moment, in view of the complete distortion of Marxism, precisely on these quest ions, in the latest works of Kautsky, who is replacing the viewpoint of the dictatorship of the proletariat by philistine social-liberalism in the spirit of Bernstein and other opportunists.”

(4) If it is impossible to publish the booklet quickly, then get a note similar to the “publisher’s foreword” in the newspapers (of the Left).

I would very much ask you to send (especially addressed to me) Kautsky’s pamphlet (about the Bolsheviks, dictatorship, etc.) as soon as it appears—[2]

and then to collect for me all Kautsky’s articles about the Bolsheviks (“Democracy and Dictatorship”, the end of 1917 or the beginning of 1918; then the article from Sozialistische Auslandspolitik, August 1918) and other articles, if there were any.

Very best greetings!



[1] Reference is to the article “Karl Kautsky and Henriette Roland-Holst on the Bolsheviks”, published on September 20, 1918 in Pravda. The extracts mentioned by Lenin were taken from Kautsky’s article “Democracy or Dictatorship” in No. 34 of the magazine Sozialistische Auslandspolitik (Socialist Foreign Policy) for August 1918. The magazine was the organ of the Kautskians. It was published in Berlin from 1915 to 1922 (after November 1918, under the title of Der Sozialist).

[2] Kautsky’s pamphlet The Dictatorship of the Proletariat was published in Vienna in the autumn of 1918. It distorted the Marxist theory of the proletarian revolution and slandered the Soviet state. Lenin in his book The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky and oilier works of this period castigated the leaders of the Second International, particularly Kautsky, for their distortion of Marxist teaching on the socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and further developed Marxist theory on these vital questions.

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