Written: Written on September 15, 1919
Published: First published in 1965 in Collected Works, Fifth Ed., Vol. 51. Sent to Petrograd. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 44, pages 283c-285.
Translated: Clemens Dutt
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Dear Alexei Maximych,
I received Tonkov, and even before that and before receiving your letter we had decided in the Central Committee to appoint Kamenev and Bukharin to check on the arrests of bourgeois intellectuals of the near-Cadet type and to release whoever possible. For it is clear to us that there have been mistakes here, too.
It is also clear that in general the measure of arrest applied to Cadet (and near-Cadet) people has been necessary and correct.
Reading your frank opinion on this matter, I recall a remark of yours, which sank into my mind during our talks (in London, on Capri, and afterwards):
“We artists are irresponsible people.”
Exactly! You utter incredibly angry words about what? About a few dozen (or perhaps even a few hundred) Cadet and near-Cadet gentry spending a few days in jail in order to prevent plots like that of the surrender of Krasnaya Gorka, plots which threaten the lives of tens of thousands of workers and peasants.
A calamity, indeed! What injustice! A few days, or even weeks, in jail for intellectuals in order to prevent the massacre of tens of thousands of workers and peasants!
“Artists are irresponsible people.”
It is wrong to confuse the “intellectual forces” of the people with the “forces” of bourgeois intellectuals. As a sample of the latter I take Korolenko: I recently read the pamphlet War, the Fatherland and Mankind, which he wrote in August 1917. Mind you, Korolenko is the best of the “near-Cadets”, almost a Menshevik. But what a disgusting, base, vile defence of imperialist war, concealed behind honeyed phrases! A wretched philistine in thrall to bourgeois prejudices! For such gentlemen 10,000,000 killed in an imperialist war is a deed worthy of support (by deeds, accompanied by honeyed phrases “against” war), but the death of hundreds of thousands in a just civil war against the landowners and capitalists evokes ahs and ohs, sighs, and hysterics.
No. There is no harm in such “talents” being made to spend some weeks or so in prison, if this has to be done to prevent plots (like Krasnaya Gorka) and the death of tens of thousands. But we exposed these plots of the Cadets and “near-Cadets”. And we know that the near-Cadet professors quite often help the plotters. That’s a fact.
The intellectual forces of the workers and peasants are growing and gaining strength in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeoisie and its henchmen, the intellectual lackeys of capital, who imagine they are the brains of the nation. Actually, they are not the brains, but sh—.
To the “intellectual forces” who want to bring science to the people (and not to act as servants of capital), we pay a salary above the average. That is a fact. We take care of them. That is a fact. Tens of thousands of officers are serving in our Red Army and are winning victory, despite the hundreds of traitors. That is a fact.
As for your moods, I can “understand” them all right (since you raise the question whether I shall be able to understand you). Often, both on Capri and afterwards, I told you: You allow yourself to be surrounded by the worst elements of the bourgeois intelligentsia and succumb to their whining. You hear and listen to the howl of hundreds of intellectuals over the “terrible” arrest for a few weeks, but the voice of the masses, the millions, the workers and peasants, whom Denikin, Kolchak, Lianozov, Rodzyanko, the Krasnaya Gorka (and other Cadet) plotters are threatening—this voice you do not hear and do not listen to. I quite understand, I quite fully understand, that in this way one can write oneself not only into saying that “the Reds are just as much enemies of the people as the Whites” (the fighters for the overthrow of the capitalists and landowners are just as much enemies of the people as the landowners and capitalists), but also into a belief in the merciful god or our Father the Tsar. I fully understand.
No really, you will go under unless you tear yourself out of this environment of bourgeois intellectuals! With all my heart I wish that you do this quickly.
For you are not writing anything! And for an artist to waste himself on the whining of rotting intellectuals and not to write—is this not ruin, is it not shameful?
 On September 11, 1919, the Politbureau of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.) discussed the arrests of bourgeois intellectuals and directed F. E. Dzerzhinsky, N. I. Bukharin and L. B. Kamenev to have their cases reconsidered.