J. T. Murphy

A First Meeting With Comrade Lenin

Source: Workers’ Life, January 20, 1928
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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.

I HAD arrived in Moscow only two days in June, 1920, when Comrade Boris Reinstein called on me and said, “Comrade Lenin wants to meet you today at 2 p.m. prompt. Don’t be late, for if you are behind time there will be no chance of the appointment to-day.”

Naturally, I had no inclination to be late to such an appointment. It isn’t every day that one gets the chance to talk freely with the head of the First Workers’ Republic and leader of the world revolution.

I was then a leading member of the Shop Stewards’ and Workers’ Committee movement, and felt that I had got a terrible lot to learn. I feel that now, but more so then, for I had only just got an introduction to what is the rôle of a Communist Party. And here I was to meet the leader of the first great Communist Party in history. I was there to time.

Comrade Lenin was not in his room in the Kremlin when I arrived, but almost to the dot he entered.

I had heard much about him and had read many descriptions of him, but none conveyed to me the impression I got on this occasion. I had read about him being short of stature, his splendid head, and so on; all of which is perfectly true, but does not convey the personality of the man.

He walked forward with outstretched hand and a pleasant smile of welcome. I forgot all about the descriptions I had read. He was the man of short stature. He had a splendid head and a keen eye. But it was his comradely, hearty greeting, as of an elder brother, that I remember most.

It seemed to me from that moment impossible to conceive a time when I had not known him.

At once he sat down and began to fire away all kinds of questions. “How are the stewards organised?” “How large is the Shop Stewards’ Movement?” “What is its attitude to the Soviet?” “Why have you not a Communist Party?”

I am quite sure that he was able to answer these questions himself, for he went on to discuss most intimately the different political currents in the Labour Movement of this country.

Nor was our conversation confined to the question of the Labour Movement. He asked me about the books I had read, and he was keen to know if I was acquainted with any of the philosophical writers. When I showed an interest in this query he was delighted, and told me of the fights he had had on philosophical questions with the Russian philosophers, especially those who were busy perverting Marxism.

I went away from this hour’s conversation impressed by this man as I had been impressed by no other.

It was clear to me that every phase of life and thought was related in Comrade Lenin’s mind to the question of world revolution. Here was no narrow-minded bigot, but a scientist of scientists, who saw in and through the whole maze of social evolution with unparalleled clearness.

The strange feature of the conversation to me was that I never thought about the man whilst I was with him, so engrossing did he make the conversation. The revolution to him was everything. It was only when one got away from him and reflected on meeting with him that his personal greatness began to assert itself in our minds.

When with him, there was no question of I, I, I, but the revolution was pre-eminent. His absolute devotion to and understanding of the problems of social revolution and the liberation fight of the toilers absorbed him and enhanced his greatness.