J.V. Stalin

A Letter To Comrade Demyan Bedny

Date: 1924
Published/Source: J. V. Stalin, Works, Volume 6, pages 285-288. Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription: Victor Barraza
HTML: Mike B.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2005). 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.

Dear Demyan,

I am very late in replying. You have a right to be angry with me, but you must bear in mind that I am unusually remiss as regards letters and correspondence in general.

Point by point.

1. It is very good to hear that you are in a "joyful mood." The philosophy of "Weltschmerz" is not our philosophy. Let the departing and the dying grieve. Our philosophy was quite aptly expressed by the American Whitman: "We live! Our scarlet blood seethes with the fire of unspent strength!" That's the way it is, Demyan.

2. You write: "I am afraid to offend, but I must take a cure." My advice is: better offend a couple of visitors than refrain from taking a cure according to all the rules of the art. You must take a cure; you must without fail. To refrain from offending visitors is a concern of the moment; but to offend them a little in order to take a serious cure is a concern of more lasting importance. Opportunists differ from their antipodes precisely in the fact that they place concerns of the first kind above those of the second. Needless to say, you will not imitate the opportunists.

3. You write: "There was a touch of subtlety in the amnesty tone of your report to the Uyezd Party Committee secretaries."1 It would be truer to say that there is here a policy which, speaking generally, does not preclude a certain amount of subtlety. I think that, after having smashed the leaders of the opposition to smithereens, we, i.e., the Party, must now adopt a milder tone towards the rank-and-file and middle followers of the opposition in order to make it easier for them to abandon the opposition leaders. Leave the generals without an army-that is the leitmotif. The opposition has about forty or fifty thousand followers in the Party. The majority of them would like to abandon their leaders, but they are hindered by their own pride, or by the rudeness and arrogance of certain supporters of the Central Committee who torment the rank-and-file followers of the opposition with their pinpricks and thereby hinder them from coming over to our side. The "tone" of my report was directed against such supporters of the Central Committee. Only in this way can we destroy the opposition now that its leaders have been disgraced in sight of the whole world.

4. You ask: "Will not the harvest let us down?" It has already let us down somewhat. Whereas, last year we harvested (gross crop) over two thousand seven hundred million poods, this year we expect about two hundred million poods less. This will be a blow to exports, of course. True, the number of farms affected by the crop failure this year is only a fifth of the number affected in 1921, and we shall be able to cope with the evil unaided without exceptional effort. You need have no doubt about that. Still, a blow is a blow. But it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good. We have decided to take advantage of the increased readiness of the peasants to do all in their power to insure themselves against the chance of drought in future, and we shall try to take the utmost advantage of this readiness to carry out (jointly with the peasants) resolute measures for land melioration, improvement of methods of cultivation, and so forth. We intend to start by creating a necessary minimum meliorated zone along the line Samara-Saratov-Tsaritsyn-Astrakhan-Stavropol. We are assigning fifteen to twenty million rubles for the purpose. Next year we shall pass to the southern gubernias. This will mark the beginning of a revolution in our agriculture. The local people say that the peasants will render considerable assistance. It needs thunder to make the peasant cross himself. It turns out that the scourge of drought is needed to raise agriculture to a higher stage and to insure our country for ever against the hazards of weather. Kolchak taught us to build an infantry, and Denikin taught us to build a cavalry. Drought is teaching us to build agriculture. Such are the paths of history. And there is nothing unnatural about it.

5. You write: "Come." Unfortunately, I cannot come. I cannot, because I cannot spare the time. I advise you to go for "a spree in Baku." You must. Tiflis is not so interesting, although outwardly it is more attractive than Baku. If you have not yet seen a forest of oil derricks then you "have seen nothing." I am sure that Baku will provide you with a wealth of material for gems like your Railway Traffic. 2

Here in Moscow the congress period is not yet over. The speeches and debates at the Fifth Congress are, of course, worth while, but strictly speaking they are merely a trimming. Much more interesting are the friendly talks with the delegates from the West (and also from the East) which all of us here have had. I had a long talk with German, French and Polish workers. Magnificent revolutionary "material"! Everything goes to show that over there, in the West, hatred, real revolutionary hatred of the bourgeois order is growing. I was delighted to hear them express in simple but powerful speeches their desire "to make a revolution in the Russian way" in their own countries. These are a new type of workers. We have not had any like them at our congresses before. It is still a long way to the revolution, of course, but that things are moving towards revolution there can be no doubt. I was struck by yet another feature about these workers: their warm, ardent, almost maternal love for our country and their colossal, boundless faith in the rightness, capability and might of our Party. Of the skepticism that was only recently evident there was not a trace. That, too, is no accident. It is also a sign of the maturing revolution.

That's the way it is, Demyan.

Well, enough for the present. Firmly gripping your hand,


J. Stalin


1. See this volume, pp. 246-73. Ed.

2. This refers to a poem about railwaymen by Demyan Bedny (see Demyan Bedny, Complete Works, Russ. ed., 1928, Vol. IX, pp. 86-93)