J. V. Stalin

A Letter from Kutais

(From the Same Comrade)

October 1904

Source : Works, Vol. 1, November 1901 - April 1907
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
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 am late with this letter, don't be angry. I have been busy all the time. All that you sent I have received (Minutes of the League; Our Misunderstandings by Galyorka and Ryadovoi; Sotsial-Demokrat, No 1; Iskra, the last issues). I liked Ryadovoi's idea ("A Conclusion"). The article against Rosa Luxemburg is also good. These ladies and gentlemen—Rosa, Kautsky, Plekhanov, Axel-rod, Vera Zasulich and the others, being old acquaintances, have evidently worked out some kind of family tradition. They cannot "betray" one another; they defend one another as the members of a clan in a patriarchal tribe used to defend one another without going into the guilt or innocence of the kinsman. It is this family feeling, this feeling of "kinship" that has prevented Rosa from studying the crisis in the Party objectively (of course, there are other reasons, for example, inadequate knowledge of the facts, foreign spectacles, etc.). Incidentally, this explains certain unseemly actions on the part of Plekhanov, Kautsky and others.

Everybody here likes Bonch's publications as masterly expositions of the Bolsheviks' position. Galyorka would have done well if he had dealt with the substance of Plekhanov's articles (Iskra, Nos. 70, 71). The fundamental idea in Galyorka's articles is that Plekhanov once said one thing and is now saying another, that he is contradicting himself. How very important! As if this were new! This is not the first time he is contradicting himself. He may even be proud of it and regard himself as the living embodiment of the "dialectical process." It goes without saying that inconsistency is a blotch on the political physiognomy of a "leader," and it (the blotch) should undoubtedly be noted. But that is not what we are discussing (in Nos. 70, 71); we are discussing an important question of theory (the question of the relation between being and consciousness) and of tactics (the relation between the led and the leaders). In my opinion, Galyorka should have shown that Ple-khanov's theoretical war against Lenin is quixotic to the utmost degree, tilting at windmills, for in his pamphlet Lenin, with the utmost consistency, adheres to K. Marx's proposition concerning the origin of consciousness. And Plekhanov's war on the question of tactics is a manifestation of utter confusion, characteristic of the "individual" who is passing over to the camp of the opportunists. Had Plekhanov formulated the question clearly, for example, in the following shape: "who formulates the programme, the leaders or the led?" or: "who raises whom to an understanding of the programme, the leaders the led, or vice versa?" or: "perhaps it is undesirable that the leaders should raise the masses to an understanding of the programme, tactics and principles of organisation?" The simplicity and tautology of these questions provide their own solution, and had Plekhanov put them to himself as clearly as this, he, perhaps, would have been deterred from his intention and would not have come out against Lenin with such fireworks. But since Plekhanov did not do that, i.e., since he confused the issue with phrases about "heroes and the mob," he digressed in the direction of tactical opportunism. To confuse the issue is characteristic of opportunists.

Had Galyorka dealt with the substance of these and similar questions he would have done much better, in my opinion. Perhaps you will say that this is Lenin's business; but I cannot agree with this, because the views of Lenin that are criticised are not Lenin's private property, and their misinterpretation is a matter that concerns other members of the Party no less than Lenin. Lenin, of course, could perform this task better than anybody else. . . .

We already have resolutions in favour of Bonch's publications. Perhaps we shall have the money too. You have probably read the resolutions "in favour of peace" in No. 74 of Iskra. The resolutions passed by the Imeretia-Mingrelia and Baku Committees were not mentioned, because they said nothing about "confidence" in the C.C. The September resolutions, as I wrote you, insistently demanded the convocation of the congress. We shall see what happens, i.e., we shall see what the results of the meetings of the Party Council 1 show. Have you received the six rubles? You will receive some more within the next few days. Don't forget to send with that fellow the pamphlet A Letter to a Comrade 2 — many here have not yet read it. Send also the next number of the Sotsial-Demokrat.

Kostrov 3 has sent us another letter in which he talks about the spiritual and the material (one would think he was talking about cotton material). That ass doesn't realise that his audience are not the readers of Kvali. 4 What does he care about organisational questions?

A new issue (the 7th) of The Proletarian Struggle (Proletariatis Brdzola)5 has appeared. Incidentally, it contains an article of mine against organisational and political federalism. 6

I'll send you a copy if I can.


1. In conformity with the Rules adopted at the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., the Party Council was the supreme body of the Party. It consisted of five members: two appointed by the Central Committee, two by the Central Organ, and the fifth elected by the congress. The main function of the Coun- cil was to co-ordinate and unite the activities of the Central Committee and the Central Organ. Soon after the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. the Mensheviks obtained control of the Party Council and converted it into an instrument of their factional struggle. The Third Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. abolished the multiple centre system in the Party and set up a single Party centre in the shape of the Central Commit- tee, which was divided into two sections—one functioning abroad, and the other in Russia. In conformity with the Rules adopted at the Third Congress, the editor of the Central Organ was appointed by the Central Committee from among its members. p. 61

2. V. I. Lenin's pamphlet A Letter to a Comrade on Our Organisational Tasks, with a Preface and Postscript by the author, was published in Geneva, in 1904, by the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 6, pp. 205-24). p. 61

3. Kostrov—pseudonym of N. Jordania. He also signed himself An.

4. Kvali (The Furrow)—a weekly newspaper published in the Georgian language, an organ of the liberal-nationalist trend. In the period of 1893-97 it placed its columns at the disposal of the young writers of the Messameh Dassy. At the end of 1897 the newspaper passed into the hands of the majority in Messameh Dassy (N . Jordania and others) and became a mouthpiece of "legal Marxism." After the Bolshevik and Menshevik groups arose within the R.S.D.L.P. Kvali became the organ of the Georgian Mensheviks. The newspaper was suppressed by the government in 1904.

5. Proletariatis Brdzola (The Proletarian Struggle)—an illegal Georgian newspaper, the organ of the Caucasian Union of the R.S.D.L.P., published from April-May 1903 to October 1905, and suppressed after the issue of the twelfth number. J. V. Stalin became its chief editor on his return from exile in 1904. The editorial board included also A. G. Tsulukidze, S. G. Shau-myan, and others. The leading articles were written by J . V. Stalin. Proletariatis Brdzola was the successor to Brdzola. The First Congress of the Caucasian Union of the R.S.D.L.P. decided to combine Brdzola with Proletariat, the Armenian Social-Democratic newspaper, and issue a joint organ in three languages: Georgian (Proletariatis Brdzola), Armenian (Proletarian Kriv) and Russian (Borba Proletariata). The contents of the newspapers were the same in all three languages. The numbering of the respective newspapers was continued from their preceding issues. Proletariatis Brdzola was the third largest illegal Bolshevik newspaper (after Vperyod and Proletary) and consistently advocated the ideological, organisational and tactical principles of the Marxist party. The editorial board of Proletariatis Brdzola maintained close contact with V. I. Lenin and with the Bolshevik centre abroad. When the announcement of the publication of Vperyod appeared in December 1904, the Caucasian Union Committee formed a group of writers to support that newspaper. In answer to an invitation of the Union Committee to contribute to Proletariatis Brdzola, V. I. Lenin, in a letter dated December 20 (New Style), 1904, wrote: "Dear Comrades. I have received your letter about The Proletarian Struggle. I shall try to write myself and pass on your request to the comrades on the editorial board" (see Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 34, p. 240). Proletariatis Brdzola regularly reprinted in its columns articles and information from Lenin's Iskra, and later from Vperyod and Proletary. The newspaper published articles by V. I. Lenin. Proletary often published favourable reviews and comments on Proletariatis Brdzola and also reprinted articles and correspondence from it. No. 12 of Proletary noted the issue of No. 1 of Borba Proletariata in Russian. The comment concluded as follows: "We shall have to deal with the contents of this interesting newspaper again. We heartily welcome the expan- sion of the publishing activities of the Caucasian Union and wish it further success in reviving the Party spirit in the Caucasus."

6. This refers to J. V. Stalin's article "The Social-Democratic View of the National Question" (present volume, p. 31).