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The New International, January 1935


The Testament of Lenin

From New International, Vol. II No. 1, January 1935, p. 27.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Lenin wrote what has come to be known as the Testament for transmission to the 12th congress of the Russian Communist party, the first one his illness would not permit him to attend. Hoping for his recovery, Krupskaya withheld the notes and presented them to the 13th congress only after Lenin’s death. By a vote of 30 to 10, the leadership refused to have the document read to the congress, for it was just then engaged in a violent struggle to discredit Trotsky and “Trotskyism”. The document, so keen and profound a product of Lenin’s mature thought and concern about the party situation, was literally suppressed. Its authenticity, widely denied by the supporters of Stalin, was, however, confirmed by the latter, under pressure of the Opposition, in a speech in Moscow, reprinted in the International Press Correspondence of November 17, 1927:

“It is said that in the ‘Testament’ in question Lenin suggested to the party congress that it should deliberate on the question of replacing Stalin and appointing another comrade in his place as General Secretary of the party. This is perfectly true ... Yes, comrades, I am rude towards those who are rudely and disloyally destroying and disintegrating the party. I have never made a secret of it and shall not do so now.”

A detailed account of the circumstances surrounding the Testament is to be found in the July and August 1934 issues of The New International.

The allusion in the second clause of the first sentence is to a part of the notes dealing with economic organisation. – Ed.

BY THE stability of the Central Committee, of which I spoke before, I mean measures to prevent a split, so far as such measures can be taken. For, of course, the White Guard in Russkaya Mysl (I think it was S.E. Oldenburg) was right when, in the first place, in his play against Soviet Russia he banked on the hope of a split in our party, and when, in the second place, he banked for that split on serious disagreements in our party.

Our party rests upon two classes, and for that reason its instability is possible, and if there cannot exist an agreement between such classes its fall is inevitable. In such an event it would be useless to take any measures or in general to discuss the stability of our Central Committee. In such an event no measures would prove capable of preventing a split. But I trust that is tod remote a future, and too improbable ah event, to talk about.

I have in mind stability as a guarantee against a split n the near future, and I intend to examine here a series of considerations of a purely personal character.

I think that the fundamental factor in the matter of stability – from this point of view – as such members of the Central Committee as Stalin and Trotsky. The relation between them constitutes, in my opinion, a big half of the danger of that split, which might be avoided, and the avoidance of which might be promoted in my opinion by raising the number of members of the Central Committee to fifty or one hundred.

Comrade Stalin, having become General Secretary, has concentrated an enormous power in his hands; and I am not sure that he always knows how to use that power with sufficient caution. On the other hand, comrade Trotsky, as was proved by his struggle against the Central Committee in connection with the question of the People’s Commissariat of Ways and Communications, is distinguished not only by his exceptional ability – personally, he is, to be sure, the most able man in the present Central Committee – but also by his too far-reaching self-confidence and a disposition to be far too much attracted by the purely administrative side of affairs.

These two qualities of the two most able leaders of the present Central Committee might, quite innocently, lead to a split, and if our party does not take measures to prevent it, a split might arise unexpectedly.

I will not further characterize the other members of the Central Committee as to their personal qualities. I will only remind you that the October episode of Zinoviev and Kamenev was not, of course, accidental, but that it ought as little to be used against them as the non-Bolshevism of Trotsky.

Of the younger members of the Central Committee, I want to say a few words about Piatakov and Bukharin. They are, in my opinion, the most able forces (among the youngest) and in regard to them it is necessary to bear in mind the following: Bukharin is not only the most valuable and biggest theoretician of the party, but also may legitimately be considered the favorite of the whole party; but his theoretical views can only with the very greatest doubt be regarded as fully Marxian, for there is something scholastic in him (he never has learned, and I think never fully understood the dialectic).

And then Piatakov – a man undoubtedly distinguished in will and ability, but too much given over to the administrative side of things to be relied on in a serious political question.

Of course, both these remarks are made by me merely with a view of the present time, or supposing that these two able and loyal workers may not find an occasion to supplement their knowledge and correct their onesidedness.


December 25, 1922

Postscript: Stalin is too rude, and this fault, entirely supportable in relations among us communists, becomes unsupportable in the office of General Secretary. Therefore, I propose to the comrades to find a way to remove Stalin from that position and appoint to it another man who in all respects differs from Stalin only in superiority – namely, more patient, more loyal, more polite and more attentive to comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may seem an insignificant trifle, but 1 think that from the point of view of preventing a split and from the point of view of the relation between Stalin and Trotsky which I discussed above, it is not a trifle, or it is such a trifle as may acquire a decisive significance.


January 4, 1923

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