Works of Stalin 1926

Letter to Ksenopontov

Source: J. V. Stalin Works, Vol. IX, December 1926-July 1927, pp. 156-158
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, U.S.S.R., 1954
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 have read your letter and the draft of the article. I apologise for being late in replying.

Here are my comments:

1) I object to your calling yourself “a disciple of Lenin and Stalin.” I have no disciples. Call yourself a disciple of Lenin; you have the right to do so, notwithstanding Shatskin’s criticism. But you have no grounds for calling yourself a disciple of a disciple of Lenin’s. It is not true. It is out of place.

2) I object to your referring in a controversy with Shatskin at the close of 1926 to a personal letter from me written in July 1924. All the more because the question under discussion, about a definition of Leninism, was formulated by me in March 1924, before the appearance of my book, On Lenin and Leninism.1 That is apart from the fact that such a reference to a passage in my letter, while not helping you in the least in your controversy with Shatskin, confuses the issue and carries the argument on to another plane, and may compel me to come out with a statement in the press that would not be in your favour (which I would not like to do).

3) I consider that in the main Shatskin is right and you are wrong. I regret that I did not have the Opportunity of looking through your new pamphlet on strategy. I would certainly have dissuaded you from publishing a work so hastily and carelessly compiled and containing a number of gross errors and incorrect formulations.

4) That, of course, does not mean that Shatskin is right in everything. I shall enumerate his principal errors.

Shatskin, for instance, is mistaken in that passage of his article in which he regards Marx’s formula about the impossibility of accomplishing the task of the working class within national boundaries as being almost identical with Lenin’s formula about the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country. Instead of bringing out the difference between these formulas and disclosing its historical roots, Shatskin evaded the issue with a note that says absolutely nothing, thus slurring over a most important question. But an evasion is not a solution of a question.

Shatskin is also mistaken when he unwittingly contrasts two of Lenin’s formulas about the dictatorship of the proletariat (the dictatorship as the rule of one class, and the dictatorship as a special form of alliance between the proletariat and the toiling sections of the non-proletarian classes, with leadership of the state by the proletariat). Shatskin is right in rejecting the idea of the peasantry being a partner in power, the idea of a division of power between two classes under the dictatorship. But he is wrong when he contrasts these two formulas, for by contrasting them, he shows that he does not understand them.

Nor do I like the crudely self-assured tone of Shatskin’s articles; he himself preaches modesty, but in fact he displays the utmost self-assurance.

5) I advise you not to start a controversy in the press, because you are wrong and Shatskin, in the main, is right. You would do better to devote yourself to a diligent and thoughtful study of Leninism. Furthermore, I advise you to give up once and for all the habit of hastily concocting booklets on Leninism. It will not do.

December 30, 1926

Published for the first time



1. J. V. Stalin’s book On Lenin and Leninism was published in May 1924. It contained two items: “Lenin: A Speech delivered at a Memorial Meeting of the Kremlin Military Scool, January 28, 1924” and “The Foundations of Leninism: Lectures delivered at the Sverdlov University” (See J. V. Stalin).