V.I. Lenin Library: A Note on Notes

Lenin Work Index

A Note on Notes and other issues…

The monumental “Lenin Collected Works” (LCW) issued by Progress Publishers is the core source for the V.I. Lenin Internet Archive. The Institute of Marxism-Leninism in Moscow, USSR, assembled LCW more than 50 years ago. While there have been other editions of Lenin’s collected writings—most notably those issued in Beijing, China, under the Maoist regime—those by Progress Publishers and its related institutions in Russia have long been considered the most authoritative translations.

LCW is part of a larger collection of collected writings that includes the 80-volume collected works of Lenin in the Russian language, which represents everything Lenin wrote, including many non-political writings.

One problem with using LCW is that the collection was amassed after Lenin’s death and during the rise and consolidation of the Stalinist bureaucracy. There is no doubt that political considerations were taken into account by the bureaucracy in determining the content of the various LCW versions. For instance, many of the telegrams sent by Lenin to Leon Trotsky, Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs and founder of the Red Army, were excluded from the English version of LCW. We know this because these telegrams can be found in other sources, notably Trotsky’s own Collected Military Writings, (available on the Marxists Internet Archive). These military writings were published by the same Soviet government that undertook to collect Lenin’s writings after his death.

We write these words as a mild cautionary note to the user of the V.I. Lenin Internet Archive.

A stronger note of caution is warranted, though, with respect to the notes to each document. Except for those found in Lenin’s major theses (which are by the author), 95% of the footnotes and endnotes in the text of the LCW are from the editors. Because our “loyalty” to the LCW extends to its content, not its form, we took it upon ourselves to reorganize these notes in a manner different from how they are presented in the Progress version. Because each document presented herein should be viewed as one that can stand alone, we have combined the footnotes and endnotes consecutively. These include Lenin’s own footnotes (so noted) and all others (uncredited).

Some of the most endnotes inserted by Progress’s Stalinist editors in editions up to and including the last editions in the 1970s are fraught with polemics aimed at prejudicing the reader against this or that Bolshevik or revolutionary who, since Lenin’s death, had fallen out of favor with the current leadership of the USSR at the time the notes were inserted. Wherever possible, we have deleted, corrected, or toned down these polemics. In addition, we have added our own notes where appropriate, integrating them into the whole of the endnotes for each document.

Also where possible and appropriate, we have integrated a large number of the endnotes into the Encyclopedia of Marxism on the Marxists Internet Archives, making the terms used accessible to users of other writers’ archives. By clicking on a linked term directly in the text of the document, the reader will arrive at the definition of the term in the Encyclopedia. We hope readers will take advantage of this additional resource.

The V. I. Lenin Internet Archive Administrators