On Maxim Gorky























 collection of quotations

on occasion of the 80th Day of Death of Maxim Gorky

18th of June 1936 - 18th of June 2016

arranged by Wolfgang Eggers








Lenin, Volume 5, "The demonstrations begin", December 20, 1901

We see now that demonstrations are being revived on the most varied grounds in Nizhni-Novgorod, in Moscow, and in Kharkov. Public unrest is growing everywhere, and more and more imperative becomes the necessity to unify it into one single current directed against the autocracy, which everywhere sows tyranny, oppression, and violence. On November 7, a small but successful demonstration was held in Nizhni-Novgorod, which arose out of a farewell gathering in honour of Maxim Gorky. An author of European fame, whose only weapon was free speech (as a speaker at the Nizhni-Novgorod demonstration aptly put it), was being banished by the autocratic government from his home town without trial or investigation. The bashi bazouks accuse him of exercising a harmful influence on us, said the speaker in the name of all Russians in whom but a spark of striving towards light and liberty is alive, but we declare that his influence has been a good one. The myrmidons of the tsar perpetrate their outrages in secret, and we will expose their outrages publicly and openly. In Russia, workers are assaulted for demanding their right to a better life; students are assaulted for protesting against tyranny. Every honest and bold utterance is suppressed! The demonstration, in which workers took part, was concluded by a student reciting: “Tyranny shall fall, and the people shall rise—mighty, free, and strong!”

In Moscow, hundreds of students waited at the station to greet Gorky. Meanwhile, the police, scared out of their wits, arrested him on the train en route and (despite the special permission previously granted him) prohibited his entering Moscow, forcing him to change directly from the Nizhni-Novgorod to the Kursk line. The demonstration against Gorky’s banishment failed; but on the eighteenth of November, without any preparation, a small demonstration of students and “strangers” (as our Ministers put it) took place in front of the Governor General’s house against the prohibition of a social evening arranged for the previous day to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the death of N. A. Dobrolyubov. The representative of the autocracy in Moscow was howled down by people who, in unison with all educated and thinking people in Russia, held dear the memory of a writer who had passionately hated tyranny and passionately looked forward to a people’s uprising against the “Turks at home”, i.e., against the autocratic government. The Executive Committee of the Moscow Students’ Organisations rightly pointed out in its bulletin of November 23 that the unprepared demonstration served as a striking indication of the prevailing discontent and protest.



Lenin, Volume 8, Letter to Bogdanov

January 10, 1905

My dear friend,

At last we have launched Vperyod, and I would like to discuss it with you in greater detail. Issue No. 2 will appear the day after tomorrow. We intend to bring it out weekly. We have sufficient literary forces for the task. We are all in excellent spirits and at the top of our working form (with the slight exception of Vasily Vasilyevich,[2] who has a touch of the blues). We are sure that things will go well, so long as we don’t go bankrupt. We need 400 francs (150 rubles) per issue, but we have only 1,200 francs all in all. We shall need the deuce of a lot of help for the first few months; for, unless we can make it a regular publication, the entire position of the Majority will be dealt a terrific, well-nigh irreparable blow. Do not forget this and get whatever you can (e s p e c i a l l y   f r o m   Gorky).


Lenin, Volume 8, Vperyod No 5, "Trepov in the Saddle"


The members of the delegation—Gessen, Arsenyev, Kareyev, Peshekhonov, Myakotin, Semevsky, Kedrin, Shnitnikov, Ivanchin-Pisarev, and Gorky (who was arrested in Riga and brought to St. Petersburg)—were held in custody on the ridiculous charge that they intended to organise a “provisional government of Russia” on the day after the revolution. Such a charge, of course, is bound to collapse of itself. A number of the arrested men (Arsenyev, Kedrin, and Shnitnikov) have been released. A vigorous campaign in behalf of Gorky has been started in educated bourgeois circles abroad, and a petition to the tsar for his release was signed by many prominent German scientists and writers. These have now been joined by scientists and men of letters in Austria, France, and Italy.




A Letter to A. M. Gorky

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 13, pages 448-454.


Dear A. M.,

I did not answer your letter immediately because, strange as it may seem at first glance, we had quite a serious fight on the editorial board with Al. Al.[2] over your article, or rather in a certain connection with it. Ahem, ahem... I spoke not in that place and not on that subject which you thought!

It happened like this.

The book, Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism,[3] has considerably sharpened the old differences among the Bolsheviks on questions of philosophy. I do not consider myself sufficiently competent on these questions to rush into print. But I have always followed our Party debates on philosophy very closely, beginning with Plekhanov’s struggle against Mikhailovsky and Go. in the late eighties and up to 1895, then his struggle against the Kantians from 1898 onwards (here I not only followed it, but participated in it to some extent, as a member of the Zarya editorial board since 1900), and, finally, his struggle against the empirio-critics and Co.

I have been following Bogdanov’s writings on philosophy since his energeticist book, The Historical View of Nature, which I studied during my stay in Siberia. For Bogdanov, this position was merely a transition to other philosophical views. I became personally acquainted with him in 1904, when we immediately gave each other presents—I, my Steps,[4] he, one of his current philosophical works.[5] And I at once (in the spring or the early summer of 1904) wrote to him in Paris from Geneva that his writings strongly convinced   me that his views were wrong and as strongly convinced me that those of Plekhanov were correct.

When we worked together, Plekhanov and I often discussed Bogdanov. Plekhanov explained the fallacy of Bogdanov’s views to me, but he did not think the deviation a terribly serious one. I remember perfectly well that in the summer of 1903 Plekhanov and I, as representatives of the Zarya editorial board, bad a conversation in Geneva with a delegate from the editors of the symposium Outlines of a Realistic World Outlook,[6] at which we agreed to contribute—I, on the agrarian question, Plekhanov on anti-Machist philosophy. Plekhanov made it a condition of his collaboration that he would write against Mach, a condition that the symposium delegate readily accepted. Plekhanov at that time regarded Bogdanov as an ally in the fight against revisionism, but an ally who erred in following Ostwald and, later on, Mach.

In the summer and autumn of 1904, Bogdanov and I reached a complete agreement, as Bolsheviks, and formed the tacit bloc, which tacitly ruled out philosophy as a neutral field, that existed all through the revolution and enabled us in that revolution to carry out together the tactics of revolutionary Social-Democracy (= Bolshevism), which, I am profoundly convinced, were the only correct tactics.

There was little opportunity to engage in philosophy in the heat of the revolution. Bogdanov wrote another piece in prison at the beginning of 1906—the third issue of Empirio-monism, I believe. He presented it to me in the summer of 1906, and I sat downs to study it. After reading it I was furious. It became clearer to me than ever that lie was on an absolutely wrong track, not the Marxist track. I thereupon wrote him a “declaration of love”, a letter on philosophy taking up three notebooks. I explained to him that I was just an ordinary Marxist in philosophy, but that it was precisely his lucid, popular, and splendidly written works that had finally convinced me that he was essentially wrong and that Plekhanov was right. I showed these note books to some friends (including Lunacharsky) and thought of publishing them under the title “Notes of an Ordinary Marxist on Philosophy”, but I never got round to it. I am sorry now that I did not have them published at the moment.   I wrote to St. Petersburg the other day to have these note books hunted out and forwarded to me.[7]

Now the Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism have appeared. I have read all the articles except Suvorov’s (I am reading it now), and every article made me furiously indignant. No,no, this is not Marxism! Our empirio-critics, empirio-monists, and empirio-symbolists are floundering in a bog. To try to persuade the reader that “belief” in the reality of the external world is “mysticism” (Bazarov); to confuse in the most disgraceful manner materialism with Kantianism (Bazarov and Bogdanov); to preach a variety of agnosticism (empirio-criticism) and idealism (empirio-monism); to teach the workers “religious atheism” and “worship” of the higher human potentialities (Lunacharsky); to declare Engels’s teaching on dialectics to be mysticism (Berman); to draw from the stinking well of some French “positivists” or other, of agnostics or metaphysicians, the devil take them, with their “symbolic theory of cognition” (Yushkevich)! No, really, it’s too much. To be sure, we ordinary Marxists are not well up in philosophy, but why insult us by serving this stuff up to us as the philosophy of Marxism! I would rather let myself be drawn and quartered than consent to collaborate in an organ or body that preaches such things.

I felt a renewed interest in my “Notes of an ordinary Marxist on Philosophy” and I began to write them,[8] but to Al. Al., in the process of reading the Studies, I gave my impressions bluntly and sharply, of course.

But what has your article got to do with it, you will ask? It has this to do with it: just at a time when these differences of opinion among the Bolsheviks threaten to become particularly acute, you are obviously beginning to expound the views of one trend in your article for Proletary. I do not know, of course, what you would have made of it, taken as a whole. Besides, I believe that an artist can glean much that is useful to him from philosophy of all kinds. Finally, I absolutely agree with the view that in matters that concern the art of writing you are the best judge, and that in deriving this kind of views both from your artistic experience and from philosophy, even in idealistic philosophy, you can arrive at conclusions that will be of tremendous benefit to the workers’ party. All that is true; nevertheless Proletary     must remain absolutely neutral towards all our divergencies in philosophy and not give the reader the slightest grounds for associating the Bolsheviks, as a trend, as a tactical line of the revolutionary wing of the Russian Social-Democrats, with empirio-criticism or empirio-monism.

When, after reading and re-reading your article, I told A. A. that I was against its publication, he grew as black as a thundercloud. The threat of a split was in the air. Yesterday our editorial trio held a special meeting to discuss the matter. A stupid trick on the part of Neue Zeit came unexpectedly to our rescue. In its issue No. 20, an unknown translator published Bogdanov’s article on Mach, and blurted out in a foreword that the differences between Plekhanov and Bogdanov had a tendency, among Russian Social-Democracy, to become a factional disagreement between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. The fool, whether man or woman, who wrote this foreword succeeded in uniting us. We agreed at once that an announcement of our neutrality was now essential in the very next issue of Proletary. This was perfectly in keeping with my own frame of mind after the appearance of the Studies. A statement was drawn up, unanimously endorsed, and tomorrow it will appear in issue No. 21 of Proletary, which will be forwarded to you.[1]

As regards your article, it was decided to postpone the matter, explain the situation to you in letters from each of Proletary’s three editors, and hasten my and Bogdanov’s trip to see you.

And so you will be receiving a letter also from Al. Al. and from the third editor,[9] about whom I wrote you previously.

I consider it necessary to give you my opinion quite frankly. Some sort of fight among the Bolsheviks on the question of philosophy I regard now as quite unavoidable. It would be stupid, however, to split on this. We formed a bloc in order to secure the adoption of definite tactics in the workers’ party. We have been pursuing these tactics up to now without disagreement (the only difference of opinion was on the boycott of the Third Duma, but that, first, was never so sharp among us as to lead to even a hint of a split, and,   secondly, it never corresponded to the disagreement between the materialists and the Machists, for the Machist Bazarov, for example, was with me in opposing the boycott and wrote a long article on this in Proletary).

To hinder the application of the tactics of revolutionary Social-Democracy in the workers’ party for the sake of disputes on the question of materialism or Machism, would be, in my opinion, unpardonable folly. We ought to fight over philosophy in such a way that Proletary and the Bolsheviks, as a faction of the party, would not be affected by it. And that is quite possible.

And you, I think, ought to help in this. You can help by contributing to Proletary on neutral questions (that is, unconnected with philosophy) of literary criticism, publicism, belles lettres, and so on. As for your article, if you wish to prevent a split and help to localise the new fight— you should rewrite it, and everything that even indirectly bears on Bogdanov’s philosophy should be placed somewhere else. You have other mediums, thank God, besides Proletary. Everything that is not connected with Bogdanov’s philosophy—and the bulk of your article is not connected with it—you could set out in a series of articles for Proletary. Any other attitude on your part, that is, a refusal to rewrite the article or to collaborate with Proletary would, in my opinion, unavoidably tend to aggravate the conflict among the Bolsheviks, make it difficult to localise the new fight, and weaken the vital cause, so essential practically and politically, of revolutionary Social-Democracy in Russia.

That is my opinion. I have told you all my thoughts and am now looking forward to your reply.

We intended to go to you today, but find that we have to postpone our visit for not less than a week, perhaps two or three weeks.

With very best regards,

Yours, N. Lenin



[1] See p. 447 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] Al. Al.—A.A. Bogdanov.

[3] Lenin refers to the collection of articles by V. Bazarov, Berman A. Lunacharsky, P. Yushkevich, A. Bogdanov, I. Gelfond, and S. Suvorov.

[4] This refers to Lenin’s One Step Forward, Two Steps Back which appeared in Geneva in May 1904.

[5] This refers to A. Bogdanov’s book Empirio-monism, Moscow, 1904.

[6] A collection of articles by A. Lunacharsky, V. Bazarov, A. Bogdanov. P. Maslov, A. Finn, V. Shulyatikov, V. Fritche, and others, published in St. Petersburg in 1904. The articles by Plekhanov and Lenin did not appear in this book.

[7] Lenin’s Notes of an Ordinary Marxist on Philosophy has not been found.

[8] At that time Lenin had begun to write his book Materialism and Empirio-criticism.

[9] The third editor was I. F. Dubrovinsky.




A Word to the Bolsheviks of St. Petersburg

Published: Proletary No. 49, October 3 (16), 1909.
Lenin Collected Works, , Volume 16, pages 65-75.

By the time this issue of Proletary reaches Russia the election campaign in St. Petersburg will be over. Hence it is quite in place now to discuss with the St. Petersburg Bolsheviks—and all the Russian Social-Democrats—the struggle with the ultimatumists, which almost came to the point of a total split in St. Petersburg during the election and which is of tremendous significance for the whole Social-Democratic Labour Party in Russia.

Comrade Maximov and Co. publish a leaflet abroad, in which on the one hand we are accused of a split, while on the other hand the policy of the new Proletary (which is supposed to have betrayed the old Proletary, the old Bolshevism) is declared Menshevist, “Duma-ist” and so forth. Is it not absurd to complain of a split in the factions i. e., in a union of kindred minds within a party, if you yourselves admit that there is no unanimity? Defending their ultimatumism Comrade Maximov and Co. wrote in their leaflet that “the Party cannot then [i. e., in the conditions of acute and increasing reaction characteristic of the present time] carry out a big and spectacular election campaign, nor obtain worth-while parliamentary representation”—that the “question of the actual usefulness of taking part in a pseudo-parliamentary institution then becomes doubtful and disputable”—that “in essence” Proletary was “going over to the Menshevik point of view of parliamentarism at any price”. These phrases are accompanied by an evasive defence of otzovism (“the   otzovists have never [!!!] expressed anti-parliamentary sentiments at all”) and an evasive repudiation of otzovism (We are not otzovists; the Party must not liquidate the, Social-Democratic group in the Duma now; “the Party must”... “decide whether in the last analysis the whole undertaking—participation in the Third Duma—has not been disadvantageous to it”, as though the Party had not decided this question already!).

This evasiveness of Maximov and Co. has deceived and still deceives many people. They say: “Well, what harm can the Party or even the faction suffer from people who do not at all refuse to carry out the Party’s decisions but only cautiously defend their own somewhat different point of view on tactics?”

Such a reaction to the propaganda of Maximov and Co. is very widespread among the unthinking public who give credence to words without taking into account the concrete political significance of evasive, guarded, diplomatic phrases in the circumstances of the present Party situation. Now they have received an excellent lesson.

Maximov and Co.’s leaflet is dated July 3 (16), 1909. In August the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Committee passed the following resolution by three ultimatumist votes to two on the prospective election, campaign in St. Petersburg (which is now over).

“On the question of the election the Executive Committee, without attaching special importance to the State Duma and our group there, but being guided by the general Party decision, resolves to take part in the election, not investing all the available forces, but merely putting forward its own candidates to gather the Social-Democratic votes and organising an election committee subordinated to the Executive Committee of the St. Petersburg Committee through its representative.”

Let readers compare this resolution with Maximov’s foreign leaflet. A comparison of these two documents is the best and surest way of opening the eyes of the public to the true character of Maximov’s group abroad. This resolution, just like Maximov’s leaflet, professes submission to the Party but, again just like Maximov, in principle defends ultimatumism. We do not at all mean to say that the St. Petersburg ultimatumists have been guided directly by   Maximov’s leaflet—we have no data on this subject. And it is not important. We assert that the ideological affinity of the political stand here is indubitable. We assert that this is a particularly clear example of the application of “cautious”, “diplomatic”, tactical, evasive—call it what you will—ultimatumism in practice, an application that, to any person who is close to Party work, is familiar from a hundred analogous cases which are less “striking”, are not authenticated by official document5 and concern matters that a Social-Democrat cannot tell to the public for reasons of secrecy, etc. Of course, the St. Petersburg resolution is less skilful as regards literary technique than Maximov’s leaflet. But in practice the views of Maximov will always (or in 999 cases out of a thousand) be applied in the local organisations not by Maximov himself but by his less “skilful” supporters. What concerns the Party is not who is more “skilful” in covering up tracks, but what is the actual content of Party work, what is the actual trend imparted to it by particular leaders.

And we ask any impartial person: is it possible for the supporters of Proletary and the authors of such resolutions to work in one faction, i. e., in one union of Party members with kindred opinions? Is it possible to speak seriously of putting into effect the Party decision to utilise the Duma and the Duma tribune when such resolutions are passed by the governing bodies of the local committees?

That the resolution of the Executive Committee did in effect put a spoke in the wheel of the election campaign that had just begun, that this resolution did in effect disrupt the election campaign, was immediately understood by everyone (except the authors of it and the ultimatumists who were enraptured by Maximov’s “art” in covering up the tracks). We have already related how the Bolsheviks in St. Petersburg reacted to this resolution and we shall say more farther on. As for ourselves, we immediately wrote an article entitled “The Otzovist-Ultimatumist Strike-breakers” —strike-breakers because the ultimatumists, by the position they took, were obviously betraying the Social-Democratic election campaign to the Cadets—in which we showed what a downright disgrace it was for Social-Democrats to pass such a resolution and invited the Executive Committee which passed this resolution to immediately withdraw from   Proletary the beading “Organ of the St. Petersburg Committee” if this Executive Committee claimed to voice the views of the St. Petersburg Social-Democrats: we do not want to be hypocritical—said this: article—we have never been and never will be the organ of such ... also-Bolsheviks.

In what do our “bad” methods consist? In the tact that we called for a dissociation from Maximov and Co.? In what do your good methods consist?. In the fact that you condemned as “altogether stupid” a resolution wholly advocating Maximov’s views, called a special meeting, raised a campaign against this resolution, with the result that the authors themselves became ashamed of it, that it was rescinded and another resolution passed in its stead, not ultimatumist but Bolshevist.

Your “campaign”, comrades, does not cut across our campaign but is a continuation of it.

“But we do not admit that anyone has broken away,” you will say. Very well. If you want to “refute” our, bad method, try to do abroad what you have done in St. Petersburg. Try to secure that Maximov and his supporters (if only at the site of the celebrated Yerogin “school”) admit that the ideological content of Maximov’s leaflet (“Report to the Bolshevik Comrades”) is “altogether stupid”, to secure that Maximov and his clique become “ashamed” of this leaflet, that the notorious “school” issue a leaflet with a diametrically opposite ideological content.

In St. Petersburg there was vital, urgent, general Party business in hand: the election. In St. Petersburg the Social-Democratic proletariat immediately called the ultimatumists to order in such a tone that they obeyed at once: the Party spirit prevailed, the proximity of the proletarian masses exerted a favourable influence; it at once became clear to all that the ultimatumist resolution made work impossible. The ultimatumists were immediately presented with an ultimatum, and the St. Petersburg ultimatumists (to their honour be it said) replied to this ultimatum of the Bolsheviks by submitting to the Party, by submitting to the Bolsheviks, and not by waging a struggle against the Bolsheviks (at least, not at the election; whether they will refrain from a struggle after the election remains to be seen).

Maximov and Co. are ultimatumists not only in sentiment. They are trying to make ultimatumism a whole political line. They are building a complete system of ultimatumist policy (we say nothing of their friendship with the god-builders, for which the St. Petersburg ultimatumists are probably not to blame), they are creating a new trend on this basis, they have begun to wage systematic war against   Bolshevism. Of course these inspirers of the otzovists, too, will suffer (and are already suffering) defeat, but to rid our faction and Party more rapidly of the disease of otzovism-ultimatumism, more drastic methods are required and the more decisively we combat the overt and covert otzovists the sooner we shall be able to rid the Party of this disease.


* - Here, incidentally, is an illustration how Maximov and the notorious “school” cover their tracks. The school issued a printed leaflet,   dated August 26, t909, containing, the programme of the school, a letter from Kautsky (who very mildly advises that philosophical differences should “not be brought to the fore”, and declares that he “does not consider justified the sharp criticism of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma”, not to speak of “ultimatumism"!), a letter of Lenin’s (see present edition, Vol. 45, pp. 468-69—Ed.) and a resolution passed by the school Council. This droll Council declares that “factional strife has absolutely no relation to its (the school’s) aims and objects, which strictly coincide with the general aims and objects of the Party”. We read the signatories to the leaflet. Lecturers: Maximov, Gorky, Lyadov, Lunacharsky, Mikhail, Alexinsky. Only think: a school with such a roster of lecturers “has absolutely no relation” to “factional strife”. Listen, my dear comrades: ... invent, but don’t stretch it too far!—We shall be told that the school has “invited” other lecturers too. In the first place, it did so, knowing that these others would practically never be able to come. In the second place, it sent out invitations, but.... “But the school could not offer them (the other lecturers) travelling expenses and maintenance during the period of the lectures.” (Leaflet of August 26, 19O9). Nice that, is It not? We are absolutely not factionalists, but we “cannot offer” travelling expenses to anyone but our “own” people.... —Lenin



The Bourgeois Press Fable About the Expulsion of Gorky

Proletary No. 50, November 28 (December 11), 1909.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 16, page 106.

For several days now the bourgeois newspapers of France (L’Eclair, Le Radical), Germany (Berliner Tageblatt) and Russia (Utro Rossii, Rech, Russkoye Slovo, Novoye Vremya) have been smacking their lips over a most sensational piece of news: the expulsion of Gorky from the Social-Democratic Party. Vorwärts has already published a refutation of this nonsensical report. The editorial board of Proletary has also sent a denial to several newspapers, but the bourgeois press ignores it and continues to boost the libel.

It is easy to see how it originated: some penny-a-liner over heard a whisper of the dissensions about otzovism and god-building (a question which has been discussed openly for almost a year in the Party in general and in Proletary in particular), made an unholy mess in weaving together his fragments of information and “earned a pretty penny” out of imaginary “interviews”, etc.

The aim of this slanderous campaign is no less clear. The bourgeois parties would like Gorky to leave the Social-Democratic Party. The bourgeois newspapers are sparing no effort to fan the dissensions in the Social-Democratic Party and to give a distorted picture of them.

Their labour is in vain. Comrade Gorky by his great works of art has bound himself too closely to the workers’ movement in Russia and throughout the world to reply with anything but contempt.



Notes of a Publicist

I - The “Platform” of the Adherents and Defenders of Otzovism

March 6 (19) and May 25 (June 7) 1910 in Discussionny Listok Nos. 1 and 2.

Lenin, Volume 16

We have examined the new platform’s first deviation from the tactics set out in the resolution of the December Conference of 1908. We have seen that it is a deviation towards otzovist ideas, ideas that have nothing in common either with the Marxist analysis of the present situation or with the fundamental premises of revolutionary Social-Democratic tactics in general. Now we must examine the second original feature of the new platform.

This feature is the task, proclaimed by the new groups of “creating” and “disseminating among the masses a new, proletarian” culture: “of developing proletarian science, of strengthening genuine comradely relations among the proletarians, of developing a proletarian philosophy, of directing art towards proletarian aspirations and experience” (p. 17).

Here you have an example of that naive diplomacy which in the new platform serves to cover up the essence of the matter! Is it not really naïve to insert between “science” and “philosophy” the “strengthening of genuine comradely relations”? The new group introduces into the platform its supposed grievances, its accusations against the other groups (namely, against the orthodox Bolsheviks in the first place) that they have broken “genuine comradely relations”. Such is precisely the real content of this amusing clause.

Here “proletarian science” also looks “sad and out of place”. First of all, we know now of only one proletarian science—Marxism. For some reason the authors of the platform systematically avoid this, the only precise term, and everywhere use the words “scientific socialism” (pp. 13, 15,   16, 20, 21). It is common knowledge that even outright opponents of Marxism lay claim to this latter term in Russia. In the second place, if the task of developing “proletarian science” is introduced in the platform, it is necessary to state plainly just what ideological and theoretical struggle of our day is meant here and whose side the authors of the platform take. Silence on this point is a naïve subterfuge, for the essence of the matter is obvious to everyone who is acquainted with the Social-Democratic literature of 1908–09. In our day a struggle between the Marxists and the Machists has come to the fore and is being waged in the domain of science, philosophy and art. It is ridiculous, to say the least, to shut one’s eyes to this commonly known fact. “Platforms” should be written not in order to gloss over differences but in order to explain them.

Our authors clumsily give themselves away by the above-quoted passage of the platform. Everyone knows that it is Machism that is in fact implied by the term “proletarian philosophy”—and every intelligent Social-Democrat will at once decipher the “new” pseudonym. There was no point in inventing this pseudonym, no point in trying to hide behind it. In actual fact, the most influential literary nucleus of the new group is Machist, and it regards non-Machist philosophy as non-“proletarian”.

Had they wanted to speak of it in the platform, they should have said: the new group unites those who will fight against non-“proletarian”, i. e., non-Machist, theories in philosophy and art. That would have been a straight forward, truthful and open declaration of a well-known ideological trend, an open challenge to the other tendencies. When an ideological struggle is held to be of great importance for the Party, one does not hide but comes out with an open declaration of war.

And we shall call upon everyone to give a definite and clear answer to the platform’s veiled declaration of a philosophical struggle against Marxism. In reality, all the phraseology about “proletarian culture” is just a screen for the struggle against Marxism. The “original” feature of the new group is that it has introduced philosophy into the Party platform without stating frankly what tendency in philosophy it advocates.

Incidentally, it would be incorrect to say that the real content of the words of the platform quoted above is wholly negative. They have a certain positive content. This positive content can be expressed in one name: Maxim Gorky.

Indeed, there is no need to conceal the fact already pro claimed by the bourgeois press (which has distorted and twisted it), namely, that Gorky is one of the adherents of the new group. And Gorky is undoubtedly the greatest representative of proletarian art, one who has done a great deal for this art and is capable of doing still more in the future. Any faction of the Social-Democratic Party would be justly proud of having Gorky as a member, but to intro duce “proletarian art” into the platform on this ground means giving this platform a certificate of poverty, means reducing one’s group to a literary circle, which exposes itself as being precisely “authoritarian”.... The authors of the platform say a great deal against recognising authorities, without explaining directly what it is all about. The fact is that they regard the Bolsheviks’ defence of materialism in philosophy and the Bolsheviks’ struggle against otzovism as the enterprise of individual “authorities” (a gentle hint, at a serious matter) whom the enemies of Machism, they say, “trust blindly”. Such sallies, of course, are quite childish. But it is precisely the Vperyodists who mistreat authorities. Gorky is an authority in the domain of proletarian art—that is beyond dispute. The attempt to “utilise” (in the ideological sense, of course) this authority to bolster up Machism and otzovism is an example of how one should not treat authorities.

In the field of proletarian art Gorky is an enormous asset in spite of his sympathies for Machism and otzovism. But a platform which sets up within the Party a separate group of otzovists and Machists and advances the development of alleged “proletarian” art as a special task of the group is a minus in the development of the Social-Democratic proletarian movement; because this platform wants to consolidate and utilise the very features in the activities of an outstanding authority which represent his weak side and are a negative quantity in the enormous service he renders the proletariat.




Letters From Afar


How To Achieve Peace

Lenin, Volume 23

March 12 (25), 1917

I have just (March 12/25) read in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (No. 517 of March 24) the following telegraphic dispatch from Berlin:

“It is reported from Sweden that Maxim Gorky has sent the government and the Executive Committee greetings couched in enthusiastic terms. He greets the people’s victory over the lords of reaction and calls upon all Russia’s sons to help erect the edifice of the new Russian state. At the same time he urges the government to crown the cause of emancipation by concluding peace. It must not, he says, be peace at any price; Russia now has less reason than ever to strive for peace at any price. It must be a peace that will enable Russia to live in honour among the other nations of the earth. Mankind has shed much blood; the new government would render not only Russia, but all mankind, the greatest service if it succeeded in concluding an early peace.”

That is how Maxim Gorky’s letter is reported.

It is with deep chagrin that one reads this letter, impregnated through and through with stock philistine prejudices. The author of these lines has had many occasions, in meetings with Gorky in Capri, to warn and reproach him for his political mistakes. Gorky parried these reproaches with his inimitable charming smile and with the ingenuous remark: “I know I am a bad Marxist. And besides, we artists are all somewhat irresponsible.” It is not easy to argue against that.

There can be no doubt that Gorky’s is an enormous artistic talent which has been, and will be, of great benefit to the world proletarian movement.

But why should Gorky meddle in politics?

In my opinion, Gorky’s letter expresses prejudices that are exceedingly widespread not only among the petty bourgeoisie, but also among a section of the workers under its influence. All the energies of our Party, all the efforts of the class-conscious workers, must be concentrated on a persistent, persevering, all-round struggle against these prejudices.

The tsarist government began and waged the present war as an imperialist, predatory war to rob and strangle weak nations. The government of the Guchkovs and Milyukovs, which is a landlord and capitalist government, is forced to continue, and wants to continue, this very same kind of war. To urge that government to conclude a democratic peace is like preaching virtue to brothel keepers.

Let me explain what is meant.

What is imperialism?

In my Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, the manuscript of which was delivered to the Parus Publishers some time before the revolution, was accepted by them and announced in the magazine Letopis,

[Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism was written in the first half of 1910, and on June 19 (July 2) was sent to Petrograd via Paris. It was to have been published by the Parus publishing house which, on Maxim Gorky s initiative, was putting out a series of popular surveys of West-European countries involved in the war. Lenin maintained contact with the publishers through the editor of the series, M. N. Pokrovsky. On September 29, 1916, Gorky wrote Pokrovsky in Paris that Lenin’s book was “really excellent” and would be put out in addition to the regular series. However, the Parus editors strongly objected to Lenin’s criticism of Kautsky’s renegade position and substantially altered the text, deleting all criticism of Kautsky’s theory of ultra-imperialism and distorting a number of Lenin’s formulations The book was finally published in mid–1917 with a preface by Lenin, dated April 26.

Parus (Sail) and Letopis (Annals)—the names of the publishing house and magazine founded by Gorky in Petrograd.


I answered this question as follows:

“Imperialism is capitalism at that stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world among the international trusts has begun; in which the division of all territories of the globe among the biggest capitalist powers has been completed” (Chapter VII of the above-mentioned book, the publication of which was announced in Letopis, when the censorship still existed, under the title: “Modern Capitalism”, by V. Ilyin).

Hence, to urge the Guchkov-Milyukov government to conclude a speedy, honest, democratic and good-neighhourly peace is like the good village priest urging the landlords and the merchants to “walk in the way of God”, to love their neighbours and to turn the other cheek. The landlords and merchants listen to these sermons, continue to oppress and rob the people and praise the priest for his ability to console and pacify the “muzhiks”.

Exactly the same role is played—consciously or unconsciously—by all those who in the present imperialist war address pious peace appeals to the bourgeois governments. The bourgeois governments either refuse to listen to such appeals and even prohibit them, or they allow them to be made and assure all and sundry that they are only fighting to conclude the speediest and “justest” peace, and that all the blame lies with the enemy. Actually, talking peace to bourgeois governments turns out to be deception of the people.

To achieve peace (and still more to achieve a really democratic, a really honourable peace), it is necessary that political power be in the hands of the workers and poorest peasants, not the landlords and capitalists. The latter represent an insignificant minority of the population, and the capitalists, as everybody knows, are making fantastic profits out of the war.

For these peace terms the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies would, in my opinion, agree to wage war against any bourgeois government and against all the bourgeois governments of the world, because this would really be a just war, be cause all the workers and toilers in all countries would work for its success.

Judge for yourselves, can the German worker trust such a republic?

Judge for yourselves, can the war continue, can the capitalist domination continue on earth, if the Russian people, always sustained by the living memories of the great Revolution of 1905, win complete freedom and transfer all political power to the Soviets of Workers’ and Peasants’ Deputies?

N. Lenin

Zurich, March 12 (25), 1917



The Tasks of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party in the Russian Revolution

March 15–16 (28–29), 1917

Lenin, Volume 23


Lenin also attacked Gorky’s social-pacifist appeal and deplored the fact that the great writer was indulging in politics and reiterating petty-bourgeois prejudices.




Concerning The Conditions Ensuring The Research Work Of Academician I. P. Pavlov and his associates

Lenin, Volume 32

24 January, 1921

Decree Of The Council Of People’ Commissars

In view of Academician I. P. Pavlov’s outstanding scientific services, which are of tremendous importance to the working people of the world, the Council of People’s Commissars decrees:

1. To set up, on the strength of the Petrograd Soviet’s proposal, a special commission with broad powers, consisting of Comrade M. Gorky, chief of Petrograd’s institutions of higher learning, Comrade Kristi, and member of the collegium of the Petrograd Soviet’s Administrative Department, Comrade Kaplun; whose task is to create, as soon as possible, the best conditions to ensure the research work of Comrade Pavlov and his associates.











First published in 1930. Sent to the Isle of Capri (Italy).

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, page 369.

Wednesday, August 14, 1907

Dear Alexei Maximovich,

We arrived here today with Meshkovsky and tomorrow we are going to Stuttgart.

[Lenin and Meshkovsky (I. P. Goldenberg) were delegates to the International Socialist Congress in Stuttgart (August 18–24, 1907). This letter was apparently written in Berlin. Gorky did not attend the Stuttgart Congress.]

It is very, very important that you, too, should be there. For one thing, you were appointed officially by the C.C. (with a consultative voice). Secondly, it would be very good to see you, as it may be a long time before we meet. Thirdly, it is only a matter of a day’s journey from where you are and it will last not more than a week (it is not London!). It will not be at all late if you leave on Sunday or even Monday.

In short, everything is in favour of your coming. I wish you would, health permitting. Don’t miss this opportunity of seeing the international socialists at work—it is something quite, quite different from a general acquaintance and mere chatting. The next congress will not be held for another three years. Besides, we shall never be able to discuss all our business by mail unless we meet. In short, come without fail.

Au revoir!

My best regards to Maria Fyodorovna.

N. Lenin





First published in 1924. Sent to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, page 372.

January 9, 1908, Geneva

Dear Al. M.,

My wife and I arrived here a few days ago. We both caught cold on the way. We are settling down here just anyhow, for the time being temporarily, so everything is bad. I was very glad to have your letter: it would really be fine to make a trip to Capri! I shall definitely find time one of these days to visit you. At present, unfortunately, it is impossible. We have come here with the commission to establish a newspaper: to transfer Proletary here from Finland. We haven’t decided yet finally whether we shall choose Geneva or some other city. In any case we must hurry and we have our hands full with the new arrangements. It would be nice to pay you a visit in the spring or summer, when things here are well under way! What is the best time for Capri?

How is your health? How do you feel? Does your work go well? I heard while passing through Berlin that you and Lunacharsky have been touring Italy and, in particular, have been in Rome. Do you like Italy? Do you meet many Russians?

It would be best for me to visit you when you are not engaged on anything big, so that we can wander about at leisure and chat together.

Have you received my book (the first volume of collected articles for twelve years)? I asked for it to be sent to you from St. Petersburg.

My very best regards to Maria Fyodorovna. Au revoir!

N. Lenin

My address is: Mr. Wl. Oulianoff, 17, Rue des deux Ponts, 17, (chez Küpfer), Genève.





First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 373-374.
January 15, 1908

Dear A. M. and M. F.,

I received your express letter today. The idea of dropping in on you on Capri is delightfully tempting, dash it! You have painted such an attractive picture that I have definitely made up my mind to come out, and I shall try to bring my wife with me. Only I am still uncertain about the date; at present I must give all my attention to Proletary, it must be established and work got going smoothly at all costs. That will take a month or two at least. But it must be done. By the spring we shall find ourselves drinking the white wine of Capri, looking at Naples and chatting with you. Incidentally, I have begun to study Italian and, as a learner, I pounced at once on the address written by Maria Fyodorovna: expresso instead of espresso! Let’s have that dictionary!

As for the shipment of Proletary, you have brought it on your own head by writing. You won’t be able to wriggle away from us now so easily! A heap of commissions have to be given straight away to M. F.:

1) To find the secretary of the union of steamship employees (there must be such a union!) serving on steamers that maintain communications with Russia.

2) To find out from him where the ships come from and go to, and how often. He must arrange weekly shipments for us without fail. How much will that cost? He must find someone for us who is punctual (are there punctual men among the Italians?). Will they want an address in Russia (in Odessa, say, for delivering the newspapers or could small quantities be kept temporarily with some   Italian innkeeper in Odessa? This is extremely important for us.

3) If M. F. cannot take care of this herself—making all the arrangements, finding the necessary people, instructing them, checking, etc., let her be sure to put us in touch with this secretary—we shall then write to him directly.

This thing is urgent. In two or three weeks’ time we hope to publish Proletary here and it will have to be dispatched at once (1)

Well—until we meet on Capri! Now, A. M., take care of yourself.

V. Ulyanov



(1) Arrangements for delivering Proletary to Russia through Gorky and Andreyeva were made in the early months of 1908, but hitches occurred owing to police interference. In a letter to Morgari, socialist M. P. editor of Avanti!,Gorky wrote at the beginning of May 1908, that two parcels containing the newspaper Proletary had been sequestered in Genoa and asked for an explanation of this “strange misunderstanding”. Gorky’s letter was published in Avanti! on May 5 (18), and on May 25 the newspaper reported that the ban on Proletary had been lifted.


Excerpt – concerning Gorky



First published in 1929 in the journal Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya No. 11. Sent from Geneva to St. Petersburg.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 37, pages 374-375.
January 22, 1908

Mother dearest,

(...) About Capri— as soon as I arrived I found a letter from Gorky, who very insistently invites me there. Nadya and I have made up our minds to accept that invitation and take a trip to Italy (in Capri now the narcissi are in bloom, so the Gorkys write), but not yet. All our affairs must be settled first and then we can travel.

I embrace you, my dear, and hope you are quite well. Regards to all from Nadya and myself.

V. Ulyanov





First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 377-378.
February 2, 1908

Dear A. M.,

I am writing to you about two matters.

Firstly, about the Semashko affair. If you do not know him personally, it is not worth while your intervening in the matter described below. If you do know him, it is worth while.

L. Martov made a “statement” in the Berne Social-Democratic newspaper to the effect that Semashko was not a delegate at the Stuttgart Congress, but merely a journalist. Not a word about his being a member of the Social-Democratic Party. This is a vile attack by a Menshevik on a Bolshevik who is in prison. I have already sent my official statement as the representative of the R.S.D.L.P. in the International Bureau.[2] If you know Semashko personally, or knew him in Nizhni-Novgorod, you should write without fail to the same newspaper saying that you are shocked at Martov’s statement, that you are personally acquainted with Semashko as a Social-Democrat, and that you are sure that he is not implicated in the affairs inflated by the international police. I am quoting below the news paper’s address and the full text of Martov’s statement, which M. F. will translate for you. Write to the editors yourself in Russian, and ask M. F. to append a German translation.

The second matter. All three of us have come together here now, having been sent from Russia to establish Proletary (Bogdanov, I and one “Praktik”). Everything is in running order, in a day or two we shall publish an announcement.[3] You are on our list of contributors. Drop us   a line as to whether you could give us something for the first issues (something after the manner of your “notes on philistinism” in Novaya Zhizn, or fragments from a story you are writing[4], etc.

All the very best. Best regards to M. F.!
V. Ulyanov

The following was published in Berner Tagwacht[5] (address of the editorial office: Kapellenstrasse 6, Bern. Social-Democratic organ) No. 24, January 30, 1908.

“Erklärung. In einigen Zeitungen stand zu lesen, dass der unlängst in Genf verhaftete D-r Simaschko ein Delegierter der Genfer Gruppe der russischen Sozialdemokratie in Stuttgart gewesen sei. Dem gegenüber erkläre ich, dass D-r Simaschko nicht Mitglied der russischen Section auf dem genannten Kongresse war und kein Delegiertenmandat besessen hat. Er war dort nur als Journalist tätig.

“L. Martoff, Delegierter der russischen Sozialdemokratie auf dem Stuttgarter Kongress.” [1]

That’s all. The disgusting thing about it is that Social-Democracy indirectly, as it were, shakes the dust off its the feet, and repudiates Semashko!



[1] “Statement. Some newspapers reported that Dr. Semashko, recently arrested in Geneva, was a delegate in Stuttgart of the Russian Social-Democratic group in Geneva. In contradiction to this, I declare that Dr. Semashko was not a member of the Russian section at the said Congress and had no delegate’s mandate. He was there only in the capacity of journalist.

“L. Martoff, delegate of Russian Social-Democracy at the Stuttgart Congress. —Ed.

[2] N. A. Somashko was arrested in Geneva at the end of January 1908. Lenin’s statement was published in the newspaper Berner Tagwacht No. 29, for February 5, 1908.

[3] The announcement concerning the resumption of Proletary abroad was issued as a separate leaflet, stating that the publication had been transferred from Russia to Geneva and giving publication dates, the names of contributors and subscription rates.

[4] Gorky’s Notes on Philistinism were published in the legal Bolshevik newspaper Novaya Zhizn in October–November 1905.

[5] Berner Tagwacht—daily, organ of the Swiss Social-Democratic Party, founded in Berne in 1893. At the beginning of World War I the paper published articles by Karl Liebknecht, Franz Mehring and other Left Social-Democrats. From 1917 the paper openly supported the social-chauvinists.




First published in 1934. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 379-382.

February 7, 1908

Dear A. M.,

I shall consult A. A. about your statement; since you did not know him personally I think it is not worth while publishing it.[1]

To what Bolshevik symposium have you sent the article on cynicism? I am puzzled, because people write to me a good deal about Bolshevik symposia, but I have never heard of this one. I hope it is to the St. Petersburg one.[2] Send me a copy of your letter to Sienkiewicz, if you have one (indicating when it was sent)—but Sienkiewicz will no doubt publish it since it is an opinion poll.[3]

Your plans are very interesting and I should like to come. But, you will agree, I cannot very well throw up the Party job, which needs organising immediately.[4] It is difficult to get a new job going. I can’t throw it up. We shall have it going in about a couple of months or so, and then I shall be free to tear myself away for a week or two.

I agree with you a thousand times about the need for systematically combating political decadence, renegadism, whining, and so forth. I do not think that there would be any disagreement between us about “society” and the “youth”. The significance of the intellectuals in our Party is declining; news comes from all sides that the intelligentsia is fleeing the Party. And a good riddance to these scoundrels. The Party is purging itself from petty-bourgeois dross. The workers are having a bigger say in things. The role of the worker-professionals is increasing. All this is wonderful, and I am sure that your “kicks” must be under stood in the same sense.

Now—how are we to exert influence, what exactly should our literature be? Symposia or Proletary? Of course, the easier thing is to reply: not or, but and—the reply will be irreproachable but of little practical value. We must have legal symposia, of course; our comrades in St. Petersburg are working on them by the sweat of the brow, and I, too, have been working on them after London, while sitting in Kwakalla.[5] If possible, all efforts should be made to support them and continue these symposia.[6]

But my experience from London up to November 1907 (half a year!) has convinced me that no systematic legal literature can now be produced. I am convinced that what the Party now needs is a regular political organ, consistently and vigorously pursuing a policy of struggle against disintegration and despondency—a Party organ, a political newspaper. Many people in Russia do not believe in a foreign-based organ. But this is an error, and our collegium knew what it was doing when it decided to transfer Proletary here. That it is difficult to organise, set it up and run it—goes without saying. But it has to be done and it will be done.

Why shouldn’t literary criticism be included in it? Too little space? I don’t know, of course, your system of working. Unfortunately, when we have met, we spent more time chattering than talking business. If you don’t like writing small, short, periodical (weekly or fortnightly) articles, if you prefer to work on big things—then, of course, I would not advise you to interrupt it. It will be of greater benefit!

If, however, you are inclined towards joint work in a political newspaper—why not continue and make a regular feature of the genre which you began with “Notes on Philistinism” in Novaya Zhizn, and began very well, in my opinion? I wrote to you about this “with an ulterior motive” in one of the first letters, thinking: if it appeals to him, he will seize on the idea. And it seems to me that in your last letter you are seizing on it after a fashion. Or am I mistaken? How great would be the gain, both- for Party work through the newspaper, which would not be so one-sided as it previously was, and for literary work, which would be more closely linked with Party work,   with systematic, continuous influence on the Party! There should be not “forays”, but a solid onslaught all along the line, without stops or gaps; Bolshevik Social-Democrats should not only attack all kinds of duffers piecemeal, but should conquer all and everything as the Japanese conquered Manchuria from the Russians.

Of the three subjects that you mention for the symposia (philosophy, literary criticism, and current tactics) one- and-a-half would go into the political newspaper, into Proletary, viz.: current tactics and a good half of the literary criticism. Ah, there is nothing good about all those special, long articles of literary criticism scattered through various semi-Party and non-Party periodicals! We should try to take a step away from this old, intellectualist, stuff ed shirt manner, that is, we should link literary criticism, too, more closely with Party work, with Party leadership. That is what the adult Social-Democratic Parties in Europe are doing. That is what we should do, too, without being afraid of the difficulties of the first steps of collective news paper activity in this field.

Large works of literary criticism—in books, partially in periodicals.

Systematic, periodic articles, in the concert of a political newspaper, linked with Party work, in the spirit, of what was begun by Novaya Zhizn—tell me, have you any inclination towards this, or not?

The third subject is philosophy. I am fully aware of my unpreparedness in this sphere, which prevents me from speaking about it in public. But, as a rank-and-file Marxist, I read attentively our Party philosophers, I read attentively the empirio-monist Bogdanov and the empirio-critics Bazarov, Lunacharsky, etc.—and they drive me to give all my sympathy to Plekhanov! It takes physical strength to keep oneself from being carried away by the mood, as Plekhanov does! His tactics are the height of ineptitude, and baseness. In philosophy, however, he upholds the right cause. I am for materialism against “empirio-” etc.

Can, and should, philosophy be linked with the trend of Party work? With Bolshevism? I think this should not be done at the present time. Let our Party philosophers put in some more work on theory for a while, let them dis-   pute and ... seek a meeting of minds. For the time being, I would stand for such philosophical disputes as those between materialists and “empirios” being separated from integral Party work.

I look forward to your reply, meanwhile I must conclude.




[1] This refers to Gorky’s statement for the press in connection with the arrest of Semashko.

[2] The article “On Cynicism” was written by Gorky for the French magazine Les Documents du Progrès and was first published in the symposium Literaturny Raspad (Zerno Publishers, St. Petersburg, which appeared in 1908) and afterwards in the March issue of the French magazine. The article contained erroneous ideas of a god-building nature.

[3] Gorky’s letter of January 30, 1908, to Henryk Sienkiewicz was an answer to the opinion poll organised by the latter on the attitude to the seizure of the Poznan landowners’ estates by the Prussian government.

Gorky’s letter was an accusatory document directed against Sienkiewicz’s defence of big private landownership in Poznan. Gorky wrote to Sienkiewicz that, while he appreciated his gift as an artist, he protested against Sienkiewicz appealing to Wilhelm II with such arguments as the “peaceful” behaviour of the Poles, who were “not kindling in the fire of revolution”, were punctually paying their taxes and providing soldiers for the Prussian army. “These words give me reason to doubt the strength of your love for the Polish people,” Gorky wrote in conclusion.

The 252 replies to Sienkiewicz’s questionnaire were published by him in book form in Paris, but Gorky’s reply was left out.

[4] Lenin was engaged in the work of issuing the newspaper Proletary, publication of which had been transferred from Finland to Geneva at the end of 1907.

[5] Kwakalla—a jocular name for the village Kuokkala, in Finland, where Lenin lived during May–November 1907.

[6] The Bolshevik symposia were published after the coup of June 3rd when the legal newspapers and periodicals were obliged to close down owing to censorship persecution. The year 1907 and beginning of 1908 saw the publication of the symposia Golos Zhizni (The Voice of Life), Zarnitsy (Summer Lightning), Kalendar dlya vsekh (Popular Calendar) for 1908, Tyemi Dnya (Topics of the Day), Tekushchaya Zhizn (Current Life), O Veyaniakh Vremeni (Spirit of the Times).




First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 385-386.

I think that some of the questions you raise about our differences of opinion are a sheer misunderstanding. Never, of course, have I thought of “chasing away the intelligentsia”, as the silly syndicalists do, or of denying its necessity for the workers’ movement. There can be no divergence between us on any of these questions; of that I am quite sure, and since we cannot get together at the moment, we must start work together at once. At work we shall best of all find a common language.

I am very, very pleased with your plan of writing short paragraphs for Proletary (the announcement has been sent to you). Naturally, if you are working on something big, do not break it off.

Regarding Trotsky, I wanted to reply last time, but I forgot. We (i.e., the editorial board of Proletary, Al. Al., myself and “Inok”—a very good colleague from the home Bolsheviks) decided straight away to invite him on to Proletary. We wrote him a letter, proposing and outlining a theme. By general agreement we signed it the “Editorial Board of Proletary”, so as to put the matter on a more collegial footing (I personally, for example, had had a big fight with Trotsky, a regular fierce battle in 1903-05 when he was a Menshevik). Whether there was something in the form of our letter that offended Trotsky, I do not know, but he sent us a letter, not written by him: “On Comrade Trotsky’s instructions” the editorial board of Proletary was informed that he refused to write, he was too. busy.

In my opinion, this is mere posturing. At the London Congress,[1] too, he acted the poseur. I don’t know really whether he will go with the Bolsheviks....

The Mensheviks here have issued an announcement about the monthly Golos Sotsial-Demokrata[2] over the signatures of Plekhanov, Axelrod, Dan, Martov and Martynov. I shall get it and send it to you. The struggle may become sharper. But Trotsky wants to stand “above the contending factions”....

It is in regard to materialism as a world outlook that I think I disagree with you in substance. Not the “materialist conception of history” (our “empirios”[3] do not deny that), but philosophical materialism. That the Anglo-Saxons and Germans owed their philistinism to “materialism”, and the Romance peoples their anarchism, is something I emphatic ally dispute. Materialism, as a philosophy, was everywhere pushed into the background by them. Neue Zeit, that most sober and well-informed organ, is indifferent to philosophy, was never a zealous supporter of philosophical materialism, and of late has been publishing the empirio-critics without a single reservation. It is wrong, absolutely wrong to think that dead philistinism could be deduced from the materialism which Marx and Engels taught! All the philistine trends in Social-Democracy are most of all at war with philosophical materialism, they lean towards Kant, neo-Kantianism, the critical philosophy. No, the philosophy which Engels substantiated in Anti-Dühring keeps philistinism at arm’s length. Plekhanov does harm to this philosophy by linking the struggle here with the factional struggle, but after all no Russian Social-Democrat ought to confuse the present Plekhanov with the old Plekhanov.

Al. Al. has just now left me. I shall communicate with him again about the “meeting”. If you insist—it could be arranged for a couple of days and very soon at that.

All the best.



[1] The Fifth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. was held in London on April 30–May 19 (May 13–June 1), 1907. It was attended by 336 delegates, of whom 105 were Bolsheviks, 97 Mensheviks, 57 Bundists, 44 Polish Social-Democrats, 29 Lettish Social-Democrats and 4 non-factionalists. The Poles and Letts supported the Bolsheviks, who had a solid majority at the Congress. One of the main questions discussed was that of the attitude to the bourgeois parties. Lenin delivered the report on this question. On all fundamental issues the Congress adopted Bolshevik resolutions. A Central Committee was elected consisting of 5 Bolsheviks, 4 Mensheviks, 2 Polish and 1 Lettish Social-Democrats. Among the alternate members elected to the C.C. were 10 Bolsheviks, 7 Mensheviks, 3 Polish and 2 Lettish Social-Democrats.

The Fifth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. marked the victory of Bolshevism in the Russian working-class movement. The decisions of the Congress summed up the struggle of the Bolsheviks against the opportunist, Menshevik wing of the Party in the period of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. The Bolsheviks’ tactics were approved by the Congress and accepted as the tactics of the whole Party.

[2] Golos Sotsial-Democrata (Voice of a Social-Democrat)—a newspaper, the organ of the Mensheviks, published from February 1908 to December 1911, first in Geneva, thon in Paris. The newspaper coming out in open support of the liquidators, Plekhanov resigned from the editorial board in May 1909, after which the paper took definite shape as the ideological centre of the liquidators.

[3] Lenin is referring to the group of empirio-critics and empirio-monists, adherents of the reactionary idealist philosophy of Mach and Avenarius, namely, Bogdanov, Bazarov and Lunacharsky.



Written in the first half of March 1908
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Geneva to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, page 160.

Dear A. M.,

It’s a long time since I wrote to you. Our trip is being constantly put off: the main obstacle at present is the lack of news from Brussels. My friends wrote to me from there that I am expected at a meeting of the Bureau (International Socialist). I asked the secretary when I should come (because, I said, I had to go to Italy). There’s still no reply. But I mustn’t miss Brussels.

Have you received Proletary? What are your intentions about it, then? And what about An. Vas.? It was with regret that I got his refusal to write about the Commune. Innokenty is our third editor.

Drop me a line about what plans you and An. Vas. have for Proletary.

All the best,





First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, page 387.

March 16, 1908

Dear A. M.,

It’s a pity I can’t manage to go and see you. A reply has come from Brussels[1] and here there is no delay. But there is no money and no time, and I cannot abandon the newspaper.

Judging from the fact that you own a nanny-goat, I see that you are in a good humour, the right frame of mind, and life is normal with you. With us things are going none too well. We are pretty much at loggerheads with Al. Al. over this philosophy. I am neglecting the newspaper because of my hard bout of philosophy: one day I read one of the empirio-critics and swear like a fishwife, next day I read another and swear still worse. And Innokenty scolds me—and quite right too—for neglecting Proletary. Things are not running smoothly.

Ah, well, it’s only natural. Things will come right.

It would be fine if you could manage to write for Proletary without your major works suffering.

With warm greetings and best regards to A. Vas. and Maria Fyodorovna.




[1] This refers to an invitation to Lenin to attend the meeting of the International Socialist Bureau.




To A. M., private

First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 388-390.
March 24, 1908

Dear A. M.,

I have received your letter concerning my fight with the Machists. I quite understand and respect your feelings and I ought to say that I get something similar from my St. Petersburg friends, but I am very deeply convinced that you are mistaken.

You must understand—and you will, of course—that once a Party man has become convinced that a certain doctrine is grossly fallacious and harmful, he is obliged to come out against it. I would not be kicking up a row if I were not absolutely convinced (and I am becoming more and more convinced of this every day as I study the original sources of wisdom of Bazarov, Bogdanov and Co.) that their book is ridiculous, harmful, philistine, fideist—the whole of it, from beginning to end, from branch to root, to Mach and Avenarius. Plekhanov, at bottom, is entirely right in being against them, only he is unable or unwilling or too lazy to say so concretely, in detail, simply, without unnecessarily frightening his readers with philosophical nuances. And at all costs I shall say it in my own way.

What kind of “reconciliation” can there be here, dear A. M.? Why, it is ludicrous even to mention it. A fight is absolutely inevitable. And Party people should devote their efforts not to slurring it over, putting it off or dodging it, but to ensuring that essential Party work does not suffer in practice. That is what you should be concerned about, and nine-tenths of the Bolsheviks in Russia will help you in this and heartily thank you for it.

How is this to be done? By “neutrality”? No. There cannot and will not be any neutrality on such an issue. If it is possible to speak of neutrality, it can only be in a relative sense: we must separate all this fight from the faction. So far, you have been writing “from the outside”, keeping away from the factional publications; go on writing in this way. Only so will the faction not be committed, not be involved, not be compelled tomorrow or the day after to decide, to vote, i.e., to turn the fight into a chronic, protracted, hopeless affair.

That is why I am against allowing any kind of philosophy in the journal.[2] I know I am being abused for this: he wants to stop other people’s mouths, while he has not yet opened his own! But just think it over coolly.

A journal with philosophy. No. 1—three articles of Bazarov, Bogdanov and Lunacharsky against Plekhanov. One article of mine saying that Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism=Berdayevism and reactionary clericalism.

No. 2—three times three keyed up articles of Bogdanov, Bazarov and Lunacharsky against Plekhanov and Lenin. One article of mine, proving from another angle that Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism=reactionary clericalism.

No. 3—howling and cursing.

I could write six or a dozen articles against Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism, one article against each author and each aspect of his views. Can this drag on in this way? flow long? Will this not make a split inevitable through endless exacerbation and embitterment? Will this not bind the faction to make a decision: decide, analyse, and end the “discussion” by a vote....

Think this over carefully, if you fear a split. Will the practical workers undertake to distribute books with such a “fight”? Isn’t another way better: go on writing as before, outside the factional publications. Do your scrapping on the side, for the time being the faction can wait. If there is a chance of weakening the inevitable animosity, it can only be in this way, I think.

You write: the Mensheviks will gain from a fight. You are mistaken, deeply mistaken, A. M.! They will gain if the Bolshevik faction does not dissociate itself from. the philosophy of the three Bolsheviks. In that case, they will   definitely win. But if the philosophical fight goes on out side the faction, the Mensheviks will be definitely reduced to a political line and that will be the death of them.

I say: separate the fight from the faction. Of course, such a separation, on living persons, is rather difficult and painful. It needs time. It needs solicitous comrades. Here the practical workers will help, here you should help, here it is a question of “psychology”, and you know best. I think you could help a lot here—provided that, on reading my book against the Studies, [1] you don’t become as furious against me as I became against them.

As regards the journal, think it over carefully and answer me soon. I am a little doubtful whether it is worth while for us to make the journey to you together at present. Why jangle nerves unnecessarily? Why draw out the torture there is no avoiding a fight. Would it not be better to settle this business of the journal simply, without long negotiations and ceremonial and futile meetings. I am merely putting questions to you in order to consult you.

Best regards to M. F. I shall most certainly come to Capri and try to bring my wife along, only I should like to do this independently of the philosophical fight.

All the very best.

P.S. I enclose important information about a spy among you.



[1] The reference is to Materialism and Empiric-criticism which Lenin was engaged on at the time (see present edition, Vol. 14).— Ed.

[2] A journal which was to have been published by Gorky. The plan for its publication did not materialise.




Written in the first half of April 1908
First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works,Volume 34, page 391.

How is it there is no news from you, dear A. M.? You wrote that you had long finished your big work and were going to help us in Proletary. But when? What about your doing a small article on Tolstoy or something of that sort? Send us a line whether you intend to do so.[1]

Al. Al. is on his way to you. I can neither abandon the paper nor get away from my work. But this is only a delay, I shall come all the same.

What do you think of Proletary? It is an uncared-for waif. Never before have I so neglected my paper: I spend whole days reading the accursed Machists, and dash off articles for the newspaper in incredible haste.

Well, all the best.

To M. F. thousand greetings! I shall bicycle down to see her!

Get Anat. Vas. to write for Proletary too! Let me do some philosophic barking by helping Proletary in the meantime!



[1] Gorky’s article on Tolstoy did not appear in Proletary. Asked in 1927 whether he had written such an article, Gorky answered. “I wrote something about Tolstoy for Proletary. I don’t remember what the title was. Possibly, ’A Great Man’.”





First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, page 393.

April 16, 1908

Dear Al. M.,

Today I received your letter and hasten to reply. It is useless and harmful for me to come: I cannot and will not talk to people who are preaching the union of scientific socialism and religion. The time for notebooks[1] is past. It’s no use arguing, and it’s stupid to jangle one’s nerves for nothing. Philosophy must be separated from Party (factional) affairs: the decision of the Bolshevik Centre [2] makes this obligatory.

I have already sent to be printed the most formal declaration of war.[3] There is no longer any room for diplomacy here—of course, I am speaking of diplomacy not in the bad sense, but in the good sense of the word.

“Good” diplomacy on your part, dear A. M. (if you, too, have not come to believe in God), should consist in separating our joint (i.e., including myself) affairs from philosophy.

A talk on other matter than philosophy won’t come off now: it would be unnatural. Incidentally, if these other matters, not philosophical, but Proletary matters, for example, really demand talks just now, and at your place, I could come (I don’t know whether I shall find the money: there are difficulties at present), but I repeat: only on condition that I do not speak about philosophy or religion.

And I definitely intend coming to have a talk with you when I am free and through with my work.

All the very best.

Best regards to M. F.: she is not for God, by any chance, is she?



[1] “Notebooks”—“Notes of an Ordinary Marxist on Philosophy”— was written by Lenin in 1906 in connection with Bogdanov’s book Empirio-monism (Issue III). Lenin deals with these “Notes” in greater detail in his letter to Gorky dated February 25, 1908^^(see Vol. 13 of this edition)^^.

[2] The Bolshevik Centre was elected by the Bolshevik group of the Fifth (London) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1907.

[3] Lenin is referring to his article “Marxism and Revisionism” published in the symposium Karl Marx—1818–1883, in which he stated for the first time in print that he would shortly write a number of articles or a separate book against the neo-Humist and neo-Berkeleyan revisionists—Bogdanov, Bazarov and others^^(see Vol. 15, pp. 29–39, of this edition)^^.




First published in 1924. Sent from Geneva to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, page 394.
April 19, 1908

Dear A. M.,

I have received the telegram from you and M. F. and am sending my refusal today or tomorrow morning. I repeat, on no account is it permissible to mix the disputes of writers about philosophy with a Party (i.e., factional) matter. I have already written about this to An. Vas.[1] and to avoid any misinterpretations or incorrect conclusions from my refusal to come I repeat it for all the comrades. We should continue to conduct our factional work harmoniously: none of us has regretted the policy which we pursued and implemented at the time of the revolution. Hence, it is our duty to defend it before the Party. We can only do this all together, and we should do it in Proletary and in all Party work.

If, in the course of it, A should inveigh against B, or B inveigh against A, on account of philosophy, we must do this as a thing apart, that is, without interfering with the work.

I shouldn’t like you and the comrades to put a bad construction on my refusal to come. I am very sorry, but the whole situation and the state of the editorial board prevent my coming.

All the very best.
Yours, Lenin

We are expecting to receive the promised article about the Rome strike from An. Vas. as soon as possible. We are expecting help for Proletary from all writers: we are all answerable to our comrades in Russia, who are dissatisfied with it. Let Al. Al. concern himself seriously about money! They are crying out in Russia for lack of money.



[1] This letter has not been found.




First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 403-404.
November 16, 1909

Dear Alexei Maximovich,

I have been fully convinced all the time that you and Comrade Mikhail were the most hardened factionalists of the new faction, with whom it would be silly of me to try and talk in a friendly way. Today for the first time I met Comrade Mikhail, and had a heart-to-heart chat with him both about affairs and about you, and I perceived that I had been cruelly mistaken. Believe me, the philosopher Hegel was right: life proceeds by contradictions, and living contradictions are so much richer, more varied and deeper in content than they may seem at first sight to a man’s mind. I regarded the school as merely the centre of a new faction. This has turned out to be wrong—not in the sense that it was not the centre of a new faction (the school was this centre and is so at the present time), but in the sense that this was incomplete, not the whole truth. Subjectively, certain people made such a centre out of the school, objectively, it was such, but in addition the school drew to it real front-rank workers from real working-class life. What happened was that, besides the contradiction between the old and the new faction, a contradiction developed on Capri, between some of the Social-Democratic intellectuals and the workers from Russia, who will bring Social-Democracy on to the true path at all costs and whatever happens, and who will do so despite all the squabbling and dissension abroad, despite the “incidents”, and so on and so forth. People like Mikhail are a guarantee of it. Moreover, it turned out that a contradiction developed in the school between elements of the Capri Social-Democratic intelligentsia.

I gathered from Mikhail that you are taking things hard, dear A. M. You have seen the working class and Social-Democratic movement from an aspect and in forms and manifestations which already more than once in the history of Russia and Western Europe have led intellectuals of little faith to despair of the workers’ movement and Social-Democracy. I am confident that this will not happen in your case, and after my talk with Mikhail I want to shake your hand heartily. With your gifts as an artist you have rendered such a tremendous service to the working-class movement of Russia—and indeed not only of Russia—and will render a still greater service yet, that it is on no account permissible for you to fall a prey to moods of depression evoked by episodes of the struggle abroad. Conditions occur when the course of the working-class movement inevitably gives rise to this struggle abroad, and to splits, dissension and the quarrelling among the circles —but this is not because of the workers’ movement being intrinsically weak or Social-Democracy intrinsically erroneous, but because the elements out of which the working class has to forge its Party are too heterogeneous and diverse in calibre. The working class will forge it in any case, it will forge an excellent revolutionary Social-Democratic Party in Russia, and it will do so more speedily than Sometimes seems likely from the standpoint of the thrice-accursed emigrant position; it will forge it more surely than might be imagined if one were to judge by some external manifestations and individual episodes. People like Mikhail are a guarantee of that.

All the very best to you and to Maria Fyodorovna. I am now hopeful that we shall meet again and not as enemies.


Wl. Oulianoff, 4, Rue Marie Rose, 4, Paris, XIV





Written not earlier than November 20, 1909
First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 405-406.

Dear A. M.,

You are wrong in asking me to come over. Why should I be slanging Maximov, Lunacharsky, etc.? You yourself write about keeping at loggerheads strictly among ourselves and yet you invite us to do the same in public. It’s no model. And about repelling the workers, you are wrong there too. If they accept our invitation and call on us, we shall have a chat with them and fight for the views of a certain news paper,[2] which certain factionalists are abusing (I heard this long ago from Lyadov and others) as being a deadly bore, a semi-literate and useless paper which does not believe in the proletariat or socialism.

As regards a new split, your arguments don’t hang together. On the one hand, both are nihilists (and “Slav anarchists”—why, my dear man, the non-Slav Europeans at times like ours fought, cursed and split a hundred times worse than we do!)—and, on the other hand, the split will be not less deep than that between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. If it is a question of the “nihilism” of the “loggerheads”, of the semi-literacy, etc., of someone who does not believe in what he writes, etc.—then, the split is not deep or it is not a split at all. And if the split is deeper than that between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks—then it is not a question of nihilism, not a question of writers who do not believe in what they write. It doesn’t hold water, really! You are wrong about the present split and justly[1] say: “I understand people but not their deeds.”

What strikes you and Maximov in Proletary as insincerity and futility, etc., is due to a totally different view point on the entire present moment (and, of course, on Marxism). We have been marking time for almost two years now, torturing questions which still seem “disput-   able” to Maximov, but which events decided long ago. And if we were to continue “disputing” about them, we would still be vainly marking time. But by parting company, we shall show the workers clearly, directly and definitely, two ways out. The Social-Democratic workers will make their choice easily and swiftly, for the tactics of preserving (in storage cans) the revolutionary words of 1905-06 instead of applying the revolutionary method to a new, different situation, to a changed epoch, which demands different methods and different forms of organisation—these tactics are dead. The proletariat is moving towards revolution and will come to it, but not in the way it did prior to 1905. To one who “believes” that the proletariat will make it, but who does not understand this “not in the way”–to him our position is bound to seem insincere, futile, tedious, based on lack of faith in the proletariat and socialism, etc., etc. The divergence resulting from this is, undoubtedly, deep enough to make a split—at least abroad—inevitable. But it does not come anywhere near the split between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks, if one Is to speak of the depth of the split in the Party, in Social-Democracy, among Marxists.

You are surprised that I fail to see Mikhail’s hysteria, lack of discipline (it is not for you to say, nor for Mikhail to listen) and other bad qualities. Well, I have had a little opportunity of testing him: I thought that nothing would come of a conversation between you and me, that there was no sense in writing. Under the impression of my talk with Mikhail, I wrote at once, in the heat of the moment, without even reading through the letter, without putting it off until the next day. The next day I thought: I have been foolish enough to believe Mikhail. But it turned out that for all his enthusiasm Mikhail was right to some extent, for we did have our talk, you and I—not without hitches, of course, and not without Proletary being annihilated, but that can’t be helped!

All the very best,
N. Lenin



[1] An addition “justly”: I make a reservation. Without understanding their deeds one cannot understand people either, unless it be ... outwardly. That is to say, it is possible to understand the psychology of one or other participant of a struggle, but not the meaning of the struggle, not its party and political significance. —Lenin

[2] The newspaper referred to was Proletary^^(see Note 353)^^.




To Al. Max.

First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 419-422.
April 11, 1910

Dear A. M.,

I did not receive the letter from you and M.F. sent through M. S. Botkina until today. Before I forget: you can write to me at my private address (Oulianoff, 4, Rue Marie Rose, 4, Paris, XIV) and at the address of the Party—in which case it is safer to use two envelopes, the inner one marked: for Lenin, private (110, Avenue d’Orléans, Mr. Kotliarenko, Paris, XIV).

I shall try and send you tomorrow the publications you ask for.

Did I criticise you, and where? It must have been in Diskussionny Listok No. 1[1] C.O.).[2] I am sending you a copy. If this is not what your informants had in mind, then I don’t remember anything else at the moment. I wrote nothing else during that period.

Now about unity. You ask: is this a fact or an anecdote? I shall have to go back a long way to tell you about this, for there is something both “anecdotal” (rather trivial) about this fact, and something serious, in my view.

There have been deep and serious factors leading to Party unity: in the ideological field—the need to purge Social-Democracy from liquidationism and otzovism; in the practical field—the terribly difficult plight of the Party and of all Social-Democratic work, and the coming to maturity of a new type of Social-Democratic worker.

At the C.C. plenum (the “long plenum”—three weeks of agony, all nerves were on edge, the devil to pay!) to these serious and deep-lying factors, which were by no means generally recognised, were added minor, petty factors—a mood of “conciliation in general” (without any clear idea with whom, for what, and how); hatred of the Bolshevik Centre for its implacable ideological struggle; squabbling on the part of the Mensheviks, who were spoiling for a fight, and as a result—an infant covered with blisters.

And so we have to suffer. Either—at best—we cut open the blisters, let out the pus, and cure and rear the infant.

Or, at worst—the infant dies. Then we shall be childless for a while (that is, we shall re-establish the Bolshevik faction) and then give birth to a more healthy infant.

Among the Mensheviks, those working for serious unity are the Plekhanovites (not quite consciously, rather slowly and waveringly, but they are nevertheless working for it, and, what is most important, they cannot help working for it), the pro-Party-ists and the workers. The Golos people, however, are fencing, causing confusion and making mischief. They are building up a strong, legal, opportunist centre in Russia (Potresov & Co. in the press: see Nasha Zarya[3] No. 2—what a scoundrel this Potresov is!—and Mikhail, Roman, Yury+the sixteen authors of the “Open Letter”[4] in No. 19/20 of Golos—in practical, organisational work).

The C.C. plenum wanted to unite everyone. Now the Golos people drop out. This abscess must be removed. It can not be done without squabbling, rows, nervous strain, mud and “scum”.

We are just now in the thick of this squabbling. Either the C.C. in Russia iops off the Golos supporters by removing them from important bodies (such as the Central Organ, etc.)—or our faction will have to be re-established.

In No. 11 of Dnevnik, Piekhanov has given an appraisal of the plenum which clearly shows that the sincere and serious desire to fight opportunism now prevails with him over the minor, petty desire to utilise the Golos opportunists against the Bolsheviks. Here, too, things take a com plex and protracted course, but the Mensheviks’ legalistic, liquid ationist centre that has been built up in Russia will   inevitably lead to serious Social-Democrats turning away from them.

Now about the Vperyodists. At one time it seemed to me that within this group, too, there were two trends: towards the Party and Marxism, towards renouncing Machism and otzovism, and the opposite. As far as the first; trend is concerned, Party unity would enable the patent absurdities of otzovism, etc., to be corrected in a convenient and unembarrassing Party way. But, apparently, the second trend is getting the upper hand among them. Alexinsky (a mere babe-in-arms in politics, but one who has turned angry and is committing one stupidity after another) kicked up a row and resigned from both the editorial board of Diskussionny Listok and from the Party’s School Committee.418^^ They will probably organise a school of their own, again a factional one, again on the side. If they do, we shall fight again and win the workers away from them.

And so it works out, that in the matter of unity the “anecdotic” predominates at the present time, is brought into high focus, gives occasion for sniggering and sneering, etc. It is said that the Socialist-Revolutionary Chernov has even written a farce about unity among the Social-Democrats entitled “A Storm in a Tea-cup”, and that this farce will be performed here in a day or two before one of the groups of the emigrant colony, who are addicted to sensationalism.

It is sickening to be stuck in the midst of this “anecdotic” situation, this squabbling and row-making, nervous strain and “scum”; to observe all this is also sickening. But one should not allow oneself to succumb to the mood. Life in exile is now a hundred times harder than it was before the revolution. Life in exile and squabbling are inseparable.

But the squabbling will pass away; nine-tenths of it remains abroad; it is an accessory feature. The development of the Party, the development of the Social-Democratic movement goes forward despite all the devilish difficulties of the present situation. The purging of the Social-Democratic Party from its dangerous “deviations”, from liquidationism and otzovism goes forward steadfastly; within the framework of unity it has progressed considerably farther   than before. As a matter of fact, we had finished with otzovism ideologically before the plenum. We had not finished with liquidationism at that time; the Mensheviks succeeded temporarily in hiding the snake, but now it has been dragged out into broad daylight, now everyone sees it, now we shall kill it!

And this purging is by no means only an “ideological” task, a labour of armchair workers as that fool (or rogue) Potresov thinks, who stands up for the Machists the way the Mensheviks at the plenum stood up for the Vperyodists. No, this purge is inseparably bound up with the mass working-class movement, which learns how to organise Social-Democratic work in the present difficult period, learns precisely by rejection, finds the right path by rejecting liquidationism and otzovism. Only that windbag Trotsky imagines that this rejection can be avoided, that it is superfluous, that it does not concern the workers, that the issues of liquidationism and otzovism have been posed not by life itself, but by the wicked polemicists.

I can imagine how distressing the sight of this painful growth of the new Social-Democratic movement must be to those who have not seen and lived through its painful growth in the late eighties and early nineties. At that time such Social-Democrats were to be counted by the score, if not in individuals. Now there are hundreds and thou sands of them. Hence the crisis and crises. And the Social-Democratic movement as a whole is coping with them openly and will overcome them honestly.

All the very best.



(published as a supplement to the =

[1] See “Notes of a Publicist”, Section One, “The Platform” of the Adherents and Defenders of Otzovism (present edition, Vol. 16).—Ed.

[2] Diskussionny Listok (Discussion Bulletin) was started by decision of the January 1910 (“Unity”) Plenum of the C.C. Its editorial board was composed of representatives of all the existing trends and national organisations in the Party. It appeared as a supplement to the Central Organ Sotsial-Demokrat in Paris from March 6 (19), 1910, to April 29 (May 12), 1911. Three issues were put out.

[3] Nasha Zarya (Our Dawn)—a monthly legal journal of the Menshevik liquidators, published in St. Petersburg from 1910 to 1914. It became the centre of the liquidators in Russia.

[4] The “Open Letter” was by a group of prominent Mensheviks, who proposed liquidating the Party.




First published in 1930. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).

Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 432-433.
November 14, 1910

Dear A. M.,

There has been no news from you and M. F. for a very long time. I have been looking forward eagerly to news from Capri. What’s wrong? Surely you don’t keep count of letters as some people are said to keep count of visits.

Everything here is as of, old. A host of trivial affairs and all kinds of trouble connected with the struggle of the various “dominions” inside the Party. Brrr!... It must be nice on Capri....

By way of relaxation from the squabbling we have taken up the old plan of publishing Rabochaya Gazeta. With difficulty we raised 400 francs. Yesterday No. 1 came out at last. I am sending you a copy together with a leaflet and a subscription list.[1] Members of the Capri-Neapolitan colony who sympathise with such an enterprise (and with the “rapprochement” between the Bolsheviks and Plekhanov) are invited to afford every assistance. Rabochaya Gazeta is necessary, but we can’t make a go of it with Trotsky, who is intriguing in favour of the liquidators and the otzovists and Vperyod supporters. Already in Copenhagen Plekhanov and I protested vigorously against Trotsky’s despicable article in Vorwärts. And what a disgusting article he has published in Neue Zeit, too, on the historical significance of the struggle among the Russian Social-Democrats[2]! And Lunacharsky’s in the Belgian Le Peuple—have you seen it?

We are setting up a small legal periodical to combat Nasha Zarya and Zhizn—this, too, with Plekhanov’s participation. We hope to issue No. 1 soon.[3]

And so we jog along. Little by little, hard and slowly we are making headway, extricating ourselves from the squabbles.

What is the news with you? Did you write to Stroyev and what reply did you receive? We wrote a first letter to him to “make contact”; he received it and replied that he did not understand who was writing. We wrote again. Not a word. There’s a terrible shortage of the right people, and the old ones have dispersed.

Arrangements were on the point of completion in St. Petersburg for putting out a weekly newspaper together with the Duma group (the Mensheviks there fortunately incline not towards the liquidators, but towards Plekhanov), but the matter has been held up again, the devil knows why.[4]

Write how you are getting on. Is your work going well? Has anything come of the journal we talked about in the summer? How are things with Znaniye?[5]

I have the right to be cross with M. F. She promised to write. Nothing has come. She promised to find out about the Paris library on the history of the Russian revolution. Nothing has come. That’s bad.

All the best.

Tria’s report will, probably, be published after all. The editorial board of the C.O.[6] decided this. But the squabbling on that editorial board—ye gods!...



[1] Lenin’s “Announcement on the Publication of Rabochaya Gazeta”^^(see Vol. 16 of this edition)^^. Rabochaya Gazeta (Workers’ Gazette)—an illegal popular organ of the Bolsheviks, published in Paris in 1910–12.

[2] During the International Socialist Congress In Copenhagen (August 28–September 3, 1910) Lenin and Plekhanov submitted a joint protest to the Executive of the German Social-Democratic   Party against the publication in Vorwärts, the Central Organ of the German Social-Democrats, of an anonymous article penned by Trotsky concerning the state of affairs in the Russian Social-Democratic Party.

Lenin came out against Trotsky in his article “How Certain Social-Democrats Inform the International About the State of Affairs in the R.S.D.L.P.” published in the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat No. 17, for September 25 (October 8), 1910, and in his article “The Historical Meaning of the Inner-Party Struggle in Russia” published in Diskussionny Listok No. 3, for April 29 (May 12), 1911^^(see Vol. 16 of this edition)^^.

[3] Lenin has in mind preparations for the publication of the Bolshevik legal monthly Mysl (Thought), the first issue of which appeared in Moscow in December 1910. The journal was published up till April 1911, altogether five numbers being issued.

The journal was founded on Lenin’s initiative to step up the fight against the liquidator’s legal organs and to educate the advanced workers and intellectuals in the spirit of Marxism. Lenin directed the journal from abroad and carried on a regular correspondence with the editors.

[4] This refers to the publication of the Bolshevik legal newspaper Zvezda (Star). It appeared from December 16 (29), 1910 to April 22 (May 5), 1912. Up till the autumn of 1911 the pro-Party Mensheviks (the Plekhanovites) contributed to Zvezda. Ideological guidance of the newspaper was effected by Lenin from abroad.

[5] Znaniye (Knowledge)—a book-publishing house, founded in St. Petersburg in 1898 by a group of writers; later Maxim Gorky was closely associated with it.

[6] The Central Organ of the R.S.D.L.P., the illegal newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat, was published from February 1908 to January 1917^^(see Note 394)^^.






First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 434-435.

Dear A. M.,

November 22, 1910

I wrote you a few days ago when sending Rabochaya Gazeta, and asked what had come of the journal we talked about in the summer and about which you promised to write to me.

I see in Rech today a notice about Sovremennik, published “with the closest and exclusive [that is what is printed! illiterately, but so much the more pretentiously and significantly I participation of Amfiteatrov” and with you as a regular contributor.[1]

What is this? How does it happen? A “large monthly” journal, with sections on “politics, science, history, social life”—why, this is something quite different from symposia aiming at a concentration of the best forces of belles-lettres. Such a journal should either have a perfectly definite, serious and consistent trend, or it will inevitably disgrace itself and those taking part in it. Vestnik Yevropy[2] has a trend—a poor, watery, worthless trend—but one which serves a definite element, certain sections of the bourgeoisie, and which also unites definite circles of the professorate and officialdom, and the so-called intelligentsia from among the “respectable” (or rather, would-be respectable) liberals. Russkaya Mysl[3] has a trend, an odious trend, but one which performs a very good service for the counter-revolutionary liberal bourgeoisie. Russkoye Bogatstvo[4] has a trend—a Narodnik, Narodnik-Cadet trend—but one which has kept its line for scores of years, and which serves definite sections of the population. Sovremenny Mir[5] has a trend—often Menshevik-Cadet trend (at present with a leaning towards pro-Party Menshevism)—but a trend A journal without a trend is an absurdity, a ridiculous, scandalous and harmful thing. And what sort of trend can there be with   the “exclusive participation” of Amfiteatrov? One cannot expect G. Lopatin to provide a trend, and if the talk (said also to have got into the newspapers) is true about Kachorovsky’s participation, then that is a “trend”, but a trend of the blockheads, a S.R. trend.

During our talk in the summer when I told you that I had all but written you a disappointed letter about Confessions but did not send it because of the split with the Machists which had begun at that time, you replied: “it’s a pity you did not send it”. Then you went on to reproach me for not going to the Capri school,[6] and you said that, if matters had taken a different course, the breakaway of the Machists and otzovists might have cost you less nervous strain, less waste of energy. Recalling these talks, I have now decided to write to you without putting it off and without waiting for any verification, while the impression the news has made is still fresh.

I think that a political and economic monthly with the exclusive participation of Amfiteatrov is something many times worse than a special Machist-otzovist faction. What was and still is bad about this faction is that the ideological trend deviated and still deviates from Marxism, from Social-Democracy, without, however, going so far as a break with Marxism, and only creating confusion.

Amfiteatrov’s journal (his Krasnoye Znamya[7] did well to die when it did!) is a political act, a political enterprise in which there is not even a realisation that a general “leftism” is not enough for a policy, that after 1905 to talk seriously about politics without making clear one’s attitude towards Marxism and Social-Democracy is out of the question, impossible, inconceivable.

Things are turning out bad. It’s saddening.


To M.F.—salut et fraternité.



[1] Sovremennik (The Contemporary)—a monthly literary and political journal, published in St. Petersburg in 1911–15. Grouped around it were Menshevik liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries, “Popular Socialists” and Left liberals. The journal had no ties whatever with the working-class masses. A leading role in the journal at the beginning of its existence was played by A. V. Amfiteatrov.

As a result of Lenin’s letter, Gorky demanded that the words in the announcement describing him as “regular contributor” should be deleted^^(see V. I. Lenin and A. M. Gorky, Letters, Reminiscences, Documents, Second Russ. ed., Moscow, 1961, p. 59)^^. Gorky broke with Sovremennik in August 191l, but resumed his contributions in 1912 when Amfiteatrov resigned from the editorial staff.

[2] Vestnik Yevropy (European Messenger)—a monthly magazine devoted to politics, history and literature, bourgeois-liberal in trend, published in St. Petersburg from 1866 to 1918.

[3] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—a monthly literary and political journal published in Moscow from 1880 to 1918. Up to 1905 it was of a liberal-Narodnik trend. In the nineties it sometimes published articles of the Marxists. After the revolution of 1905 it became the organ of the Right wing of the Cadet Party. The editor was P. B. Struve.

[4] Russkoye Bogatstvo.^^See Note 16.^^

[5] Sovremenny Mir (The Modem World)—a monthly literary, scientific and political journal, appeared in St. Petersburg from 1906 to 1918.

[6] ^^See Note 391.^^

[7] Krasnoye Znamya (Red Banner)—a bourgeois political and literary journal founded by A. V. Amfiteatrov. Published in Paris from 1906.





First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 437-440.
January 3, 1911

Dear A. M.,

I have long been intending to reply to your letter but intensification of the squabbling[1] here (a hundred thousand devils take it!) distracted me.

But I should like to have a chat with you.

First of all, before I forget: Tria has been arrested together with Jordania and Ramishvili. It is reported as being true. A pity, for he is a good chap. A revolutionary.

Regarding Sovremennik. In Rech today I read the contents of the first issue and I am cursing and swearing. Vodovozov on Muromtsev ... Kolosov on Mikhailovsky, Lopatin “Not ours”, etc. You can’t help swearing. And here are you, teasing as it were: “realism, democracy, activity”.

Do you think these are good words? They are bad words, used by all the bourgeois tricksters in the world, from the Cadets and S.R.s in our country to Briand or Millerand here, Lloyd George in Britain, etc. The words are bad, turgid, and they carry a S.R.-Cadet message. It’s not good.

As regards Tolstoy, I fully share your opinion that hypocrites and rogues will make a saint of him. Plekhanov, too, was infuriated by all the lying and sycophancy around Tolstoy, and in here we see eye to eye. He criticises Nasha Zarya for it in the C.O. (the next issue),[3] and I am doing so in Mysl[2] (No. 1 arrived today. Congratulate us on our own little journal in Moscow, a Marxist one. This has been a happy day for us). Zvezda No. 1. (it appeared on December   16 in St. Petersburg) also contains a good article by Plekhanov with a trivial comment, for which we have already scolded the editors. It was probably concocted by that ninny Yordansky, together with Bonch! But how come Sovremennik to combat the “legend about Tolstoy and his religion”. Is it Vodovozov with Lopatin? You must be joking.

That they have started hitting out at the students is, in my opinion, comforting, but Tolstoy must not be allowed to get away with either “passivism” or anarchism or Narodism or religion.

As regards quixotism in the international policy of Social-Democracy, I think, you are wrong. It is the revisionists who have long been asserting that colonial policy is progressive, that it implants capitalism and that therefore it is senseless to “accuse it of greed and cruelty”, for “without these qualities” capitalism is “hamstrung”.

It would be quixotism and whining if Social-Democrats were to tell the workers that there could be salvation some where apart from the development of capitalism, not through the development of capitalism. But we do not say this. We say: capital devours you, will devour the Persians, will devour everyone and go on devouring until you overthrow it. That is the truth. And we do not forget to add: except through the growth of capitalism there is no guarantee of victory over it.

Marxists do not defend a single reactionary measure, such as banning trusts, restricting trade, etc. But to each his own. Let Khomyakov and Co. build railways across Persia, let them send Lyakhovs,[4] but the job of the Marxists is to expose them to the workers. If it devours, say the Marxists, if it strangles, fight back.

Resistance to colonial policy and international plunder by means of organising the proletariat, by means of defending freedom for the proletarian struggle, does not retard the development of capitalism but accelerates it, forcing it to resort to more civilised, technically higher methods of capitalism. There is capitalism and capitalism. There is Black-Hundred-Octobrist[5] capitalism and Narodnik (“realistic, democratic”, full of “activity”) capitalism. The more we expose capitalism before the workers for its “greed and cruelty”, the more difficult is it for capitalism   of the first order to persist, the more surely is it bound to pass into capitalism of the second order. And this just suits us, this just suits the proletariat.

You think I have fallen into a contradiction? In the be ginning of the letter I considered the words “realism, democracy, activity” bad words, and now I find them good? There is no contradiction here; what is bad for the proletariat is good for the bourgeois.

The Germans have an exemplary journal of the opportunists: Sozialistische Monatshefte. There gentlemen like Schippel and Bernstein have long been attacking the international policy of the revolutionary Social-Democrats by raising an outcry that this policy resembles the “lamentations of compassionate” people. That, brother, is a trick of opportunist swindlers. Ask for this journal to be sent to you from Naples and have their articles translated if you are interested in international politics. You probably have such opportunists in Italy too, only there are no Marxists in Italy, that’s what makes her so nasty.

The International proletariat is pressing capitalism in two ways: by converting Octobrist capitalism into democratic capitalism and, because it drives Octobrist capitalism away from itself, by transplanting this capitalism to the savages. This, however, enlarges the basis of capitalism and brings its death nearer. There is practically no Octobrist capitalism left in Western Europe; practically all capitalism is democratic. Octobrist capitalism has gone from Britain and France to Russia and Asia. The Russian revolution and the revolutions in Asia=the struggle for ousting Octobrist capitalism and replacing it by democratic capitalism. And democratic capitalism=the last of its kind. It has no next stage to go on to. The next stage is its death.

What do you think of Zvezda and Mysl? The former is dull, in my opinion. But the latter is all ours and I am delighted with it. I’m afraid they’ll soon close it down, though.

I was wondering whether you could arrange for my book on the agrarian question to go to Znaniye. Talk it over with Pyatnitsky. I just can’t find a publisher, not for love or money.[6]

Reading your postscript: “my hands are shaking and freezing” makes me indignant. What wretched houses you   have on Capri! It’s a disgrace, really! Even we here have central heating; and your “hands are freezing”. You must revolt.

All the very best.

I have received from Bologna an invitation to come to the school there (20 workers). I have turned it down.[7] I don’t want to have anything to do with the Vperyodists. We’re trying again to get the workers to come here.



[1] That rascal Trotsky is uniting the Golosists and Vperyodists against us. It is war! —Lenin

[2] See “Heroes of ’Reservation”’ (present edition, Vol. 16).—Ed.

[3] This refers to Plekhanov’s article “Karl Marx and Leo Tolstoy” published in the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat No. 19–20, for January 13 (26), 1911.

[4] Lyakhov V.—a tsarist army colonel, commanded the Russian troops who suppressed the revolutionary movement in Persia in 1908.

[5] The Black Hundreds were monarchist gangs of pogromists organised by the tsarist police to fight the revolutionary movement.

Octobrists—members of the Octobrist party (or Union of October Seventeenth), a counter-revolutionary party of the big industrial bourgeoisie and landowners who engaged in capitalist farming. It was founded in November 1905. While paying lip service to the Manifesto of October 17, in which the tsar, frightened by the revolution, promised the people “civil liberties” and a constitution, the Octobrists unreservedly supported the home and foreign policies of the tsarist government. The leaders of the Octobrists were the well-known industrialist A. Guchkov and the owner of vast estates M. Rodzyanko.

[6] Lenin is apparently referring to his book The Agrarian Question in Russia Towards the Close of the Nineteenth Century written in 1908 for the Granat Bros. Encyclopaedia. It was not published there for censorship reasons, and Lenin intended, as his letter indicates, to have it published by the Znaniye book publishers. However, it was first published in Moscow in 1918 as a separate booklet by the Zhizn i Znaniye Publishing House ^^(see Vol. 15 of this edition)^^.

[7] The anti-Party school in Bologna (November 1910–March 1911) was a continuation of the Capri school. Lecturers at this school were Bogdanov, Lunacharsky, Trotsky, Lyadov, Maslov, Sokolov and others. An invitation to read lectures there was turned down by Lenin in view of the anti-Party tendency and splitting activities of the school’s organisers. Lenin invited the students to Paris, where he promised to read them a number of lectures on the questions of tactics, the situation within the Party and the agrarian question. The lectures in Paris did not take place.



Written at the end of April 1911
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Paris to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 178-179.

Dear A. M.,

How is your health? M. F. wrote that you had returned with a cough, etc. I hope you are better.

We’ve had some bad luck with Mysl.[1] You probably know what has happened from Rech and other papers. We have to transfer the whole business to St. Petersburg, and begin all over again. But we have no legal and reliable people.

Could you help us, if you sympathise with Mysl? Or perhaps Pyatnitsky could help? As things are, we still have enough money to publish such a small journal ( provided, of course, that we all work for nothing and pay outsiders 20 rubles a sheet! Not so generous, you see). So at present it is only technical help that is needed: to find a publisher who, without spending a kopek of his own, would bring out the journal (and we so strongly recognise the strictest legality, that we give the right both to the publisher and to the secretary of the editorial board-f-a lawyer to hold up anything in the least dangerous; we brought out four issues without the slightest faultfinding from the court. No. 5 was confiscated on account of Kautsky[2]! That was obviously a mere pretext. There was nothing illegal in Kautsky).

Why should not Pyatnitsky or someone else help us in such a safe business? If it is impossible to find a publisher, what about a secretary, a legal person whom we would pay 50 rubles a month for worrying about the printing press and forwarding. All we want is an honest and thoughtful person. The trouble is that we have no legal people, except workmen (and they won’t do).

The second question. We have a translation of Kautsky’s latest articles against Maslov, which has already been paid for.[3] It’s quite legal. It’s an essential thing, because Maslov has written a lot of nonsense and has also lied to his Russian readers. It’s 3–5 printed sheets. Could it be published—without author’s fees (for our translation has already been, paid for) at cost price? Is Pyatnitsky (or someone else) suitable for anything like this or not?

The third question. Y. M. Nakhamkis, deported here from St. Petersburg for his connections with the Social-Democratic Duma group (he is Nevzorov or Steklov, author of a good book about Chernyshevsky[4]), is badly in need of work and asks me to inquire whether it would be possible to publish Peary: A Journey to the North Pole. He thinks it will have a good sale.

What news is there of the “plans”? Please write.

And do reply to the workers at our school. They are good fellows. One of them is a poet, and keeps writing verses, but the poor chap has no guide, helper, instructor or adviser.

Best wishes,

Robert E. Peary:

La découverte du pôle nord, Paris—magnificent illustrations. The blocks can be bought here cheaply. About 15 printed sheets, each of 40,000 letters and spaces. (I have just seen Steklov, who gave me these details.)



[1] Mysl (Thought)—a Bolshevik legal magazine, published in Moscow from December 1910 to April 1911; was closed down by the tsarist government.

[2] The first part of the Russian translation of K. Kautsky’s pamphlet, Taktische Strömungen in der deutschen Sozialdemokratie (Tactical Trends among German Social-Democrats), Berlin, 1911, appeared in Mysl No. 5, April 1911, and this was the pretext for its closure.

[3] A reference to K. Kautsky’s article, “Malthusianismus und Sozialismus” (Malthusianism and Socialism), published in Die Neue Zeit Nos. 18, 19, 20, February 1911.

[4] Y. M. Steklov’s book, N. G. Chernyshevsky, His Life and Work (1828–1889), appeared in 1909.





First published in 1924. Sent from Paris to the Isle of Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 34, pages 446-447.
May 27, 1911

Dear A. M.,

A few days ago I received a letter from Poletayev. He writes, inter alia: “We have received a letter from Gorky. He is proposing that N. I. should come abroad to work out a plan for unity around some organ, and adds that he has spoken to you about this and to the Menshevik M” (Martov, I assume).

Poletayev adds that N. I. is hardly suitable for this plan and that if somebody must come, it should be somebody else. It is hardly likely that Pokrovsky will make the journey.

Reading this in Poletayev’s letter frightened me—no, really.

Our uniting with Mensheviks like Martov is absolutely hopeless, as I told you here. If we start arranging a meeting for such a hopeless plan—the result will be nothing but a disgrace (personally I would not go even to a meeting with Martov).

Judging from Poletayev’s letter, the participation of the Duma group is planned. Is this necessary? If it is a question of a journal, then the Duma group has nothing to do with it. If it is a question of a newspaper, it should be borne in mind that we have had plenty of discord as it is with Zvezda: they have no line, they are afraid of going with us, afraid of going with the liquidators, they play hot and cold, they give themselves airs, they vacillate.

Besides, a union of the Plekhanovites+our people+the Duma group threatens to give Plekhanov a preponderance, for Mensheviks predominate in the Duma group. Is it desirable and reasonable to give Plekhanov a preponderance?

I very much fear that Yordansky is unsuitable for such plans (for he has “his” own journal and he will either raise   obstacles or try to impose “his” journal, leaving it as his, that is, a semi-liberal organ).

To avoid disappointments and hopeless squabbles, I think we should be very careful as regards “unity”. Upon my word, we should be not uniting now, but dissociating! If a publisher can be found for a journal or a newspaper, you should conclude an agreement with him off your own bat (or take money from him without an agreement, if possible), but the arrangement of a meeting will only make a mess. Truly, the result will be a mess.

I am writing to you because I do not want to see you of all people wasting your time, nervous energy, etc , on a mess. I know from my own bitter experience of 1908-11 that it is impossible to “unite” now. In our Mysl, for example, Plekhanov more than once behaved temperamentally—he was dissatisfied, for example, with my article on strikes and on Potresov,[1] saying that I was abusing “him”! We managed to smooth things over and for the time being we can and must work with Plekhanov, but formal unions and meetings are premature and could spoil everything.

Don’t hurry with the meeting!

It is said positively among us that there exists a government oircular of Stolypin’s for closing down all Social-Democratic publications. It sounds like the truth Before the Fourth Duma they will probably put the screw on ten times tighter.

Legal opportunities will evidently diminish in the immediate future. We must push on with illegal work.

M. F. wrote that you have completely withdrawn from Znaniye. That means a complete break with Pyatnitsky and my last letter came too late?

All the best.

P. S. Sovremennaya Zhizn[2] in Baku has also been raided and suppressed!



[1] “Strike Statistics in Russia”, “Those Who Would Liquidate Us” (see present edition, Vol. 16, and Vol. 17).—Ed.

[2] Sovremennaya Zhizn (Modern Life)—a Bolshevik legal journal, appeared in Baku in March–April 1911.




First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III. Sent from Paris to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 185-186.
September 15, 1911

Dear A. M.,

It must have been two months ago that I wrote to you last—at the beginning of the school[1] (it is now over, and the students have gone away). There was no reply, and I was wondering whether the “negotiations” had become protracted or whether anything had radically changed. Leshchenko was here the other day and told me about Capri, and I was very glad to learn that the whole trouble was the postponement of the meetings you had had in mind until “after the fair”.[2] But the plans at Capri, Leshchenko said, were unchanged: a literary monthly, a full-sized paper and also, I understand, a tabloid.

Yes, all this would be very welcome indeed just now. The liquidators are buying Kievskaya Kopeika (so they say in St. Petersburg, whence we had a letter today), and are transferring it to St. Petersburg. It would be extremely important to organise a counter-attack.

So far we have been able only to collect our last cash for reviving Zvezda. I very much count on your help: send us an article. Help is particularly important at the beginning, because it won’t be easy to resume an interrupted publication.

Have you received the pamphlet by Kamenev, and have you read it? I cherish the hope that it must dissipate some of the prejudices you seem to have against its author.

Our Party affairs are in a pretty mess, but still things are coming to a head. Plekhanov is hedging, he always acts that way—it’s like a disease—before things break. Martov sent Kautsky and Zetkin the translation (in typescript)   of his pamphlet, and this was a great help to us: both Kautsky and Clara Zetkin said some pretty harsh things about the pamphlet: the former called it “disgusting”, the latter “dirty”.

Well, all the best. Do write for Zvezda.

Drop me a line, if you feel equal to the effort. Warm greetings to Maria Fyodorovna.




[1] In the summer of 1911, the Bolshevik centre set up a Party school in Longjumeau near Paris for Party workers coming from Russia. Among the lecturers were Lenin, Inessa Armand and N. A.   Semashko. Among those who attended the lectures and seminars were G. K. Orjonikidze, Y. D. Zevin, I. I. Schvarz, the workers I. S. Belostotsky, A. I. Dogadov, and I. V. Prisyagin. Graduates carried out important Party work in Russia.

For details of the letter mentioned by Lenin, see present edition, Vol. 34, pp. 446–47.

[2] The “fair” was apparently a code name for the meeting of C.C. members in Paris on May 28–June 4 (June 10–17), 1911.




A number of letters, to Maxim Gorky throw light on Lenin's efforts to unite the Party on the basis of the decisions of the Prague Conference, and his fight against the anti-Party August bloc, organised by Trotsky.





Written in February 1912
First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III. Sent from Paris to Capri (Italy).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 23.

Dear A. M.,

We shall shortly send you the resolutions of the Conference.[1] We have finally succeeded—in spite of the liquidationist[2] scoundrels—in reviving the Party and its Central Committee. I hope you will be as glad of this as we are.

Won’t you write a May Day leaflet for us? Or a little leaflet in a similar May Day spirit? Quite a short one, a “heart-warmer”, what do you say? Think of old times, remember 1905, and put down a couple of words, if you have the mind to write. There are two or three illegal printing-presses in Russia, and the Central Committee will republish it, probably, in several tens of thousands of copies. It would be a good thing to gel a revolutionary manifesto like the Tales in Zvezda.[3] T am very, very glad that you are helping Zvezda. We are having a devilish hard job with it—internal and external and financial difficulties are immense—but still we are managing so far.

All the best,

P.S. And Sovremennik[4] has had the sense to die, after all! That was a good deed on its part.



[1] Reference is to the resolutions passed by the Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. of 1912. The resolutions and “Announcement” concerning the Conference were published in booklet form in Paris in February 1912 by the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P.

[2] Liquidationism—an opportunist trend in the R.S.D.L.P. that emerged in the period of reaction following the defeat of the 1905– 07 revolution. The liquidators demanded liquidation of the illegal revolutionary party of the working class and tried to subordinate the working-class movement to bourgeois interests. The Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. expelled the liquidators from the Party.

[3] Zvezda (The Star)—legal Bolshevik newspaper (December 1910– May 5, 1912). In 1911 and 1912 it published seven stories by Gorky from his Tales of Italy series.

[4] Sovremennik (The Contemporary)—literary and political monthly published in St. Petersburg from 1911 to 1915. It was a rallying point for Menshevik liquidators, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Popular Socialists and Left-wing liberals.




Written in February-March 1912
First published in Bakinsky Rabochy No. 17, January 21, 1927. Sent from Paris to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 24.

Dear A. M.,

I am very glad you have agreed to try and write a May Day leaflet.

I enclose the Conference resolutions.

I have seen Zhivoye Dyelo.[1] A rotten little liquidationist rag with an “approach”. Liberal propaganda. They are glad that the police prevent the question of the Party being openly discussed.

Zvezda will continue, either as a weekly or as a kopek daily.[2] You helped Zvezda very, very much with your splendid Tales, and that made me extremely joyful, so that the joy—if I am to talk straight—outweighed my sadness at your “affair” with the Chernovs and Amfiteatrovs[3].... Brr! I am glad, I must confess, that they are “going up the spout”.

But as for your having nothing to live on and not being able to get printed anywhere, that’s bad. You ought to have got rid of that leech Pyatnitsky long ago and appointed an honest agent, an agent pure and simple, to deal with Znaniye[4] (perhaps it’s already too late, I don’t know)!!! If only.... It would have been a gold mine....

I see Rozhkov’s Irkutskoye Slovo[5] very rarely. The man’s become a liquidator. And Chuzhak is an old ass, hardened and pretentious.


Thank M. F.[6] for her letter to Moscow, and a thousand greetings!



[1] Zhivoye Dyelo (Vital Cause)—Menshevik liquidationist legal weekly, published in St. Petersburg from January to April 1912. Sixteen issues appeared. Its contributors included L. Martov, F. Dan and P. Axelrod.

[2] The daily newspaper for the workers that succeeded Zvezda was Pravda (Truth), the first issue of which appeared on May 5, 1912.

[3] Reference is to Gorky’s work for the magazine Zavety (Behests), to which V. Chernov, a Socialist-Revolutionary leader, contributed, __PRINTERS_P_563_COMMENT__ 36*   and for the magazine Sovremennik, which in 1911 was run by A. Amfiteatrov.

[4] Znaniye (Knowledge)—a book-publishing firm founded in St.  Petersburg in 1898 by a group of writers. Gorky joined the firm later and virtually became its leading spirit. The managing director was K. P. Pyatnitsky.

[5] Irkutskoye Slovo (Irkutsk Word)—weekly newspaper with a Menshevik-liquidationist orientation (1911–12). = Its publisher, Rozhkov, a member of the R.S.D.L.P. since 1905, had in the years of reaction become one of the ideologists of liquidationism; N.  Chuzhak (N. F. Nasimovich) was a literary critic.

[6] M. F.—Maria Fyodorovna Andreyeva—Gorky’s wife.





First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 50-51.

Cracow, August 1, 1912

Krakau, Oesterreich.
Zwierzyniec. 218.
Wl. Ulijanow

Dear A. M.,

I have received your letter and a letter from the Siberians. My address now is not Paris, but Cracow—see above.

I haven’t quite understood what party you have decided to expel me from. From the Socialist-Revolutionary perhaps?

No, joking apart, it’s a bad, philistine, bourgeois style you have adopted, to wave us away with a “you’re all squabblers”. Just have a look at the latest S.R. literature —Pochin, Izvestia zagranichnoi oblastnoi organizatsii— compare it with Revolutsionnaya Mysl and with Revolutsionnaya Rossiya[2]—and then again with Ropshin,[3] etc. Remember Vekhi[4] and the polemics (quasi-polemics) conducted against it by Milyukov, Gredeskul[5] (who has now discovered that a second revolution in Russia is not necessary), etc., etc.

Compare all this as a whole, the sum total of ideological trends from 1908 to 1912 among the S.R.s,[6] Trudoviks,[7] Bezzaglavtsi[8] and Cadets,[9] with what existed and exists among the Social-Democrats (somebody, some day— probably a historian—will certainly do this work). You will see that everyone, literally everyone outside the Social-Democrats was discussing the same questions, literally the very same, on account of which little groups have broken   away from our Party in the direction of liquidationism and otzovism.

The bourgeois, the liberals, the S.R.s like to shout about “squabbles” among the Social-Democrats, because they themselves do not take “painful questions” seriously, tag along behind others, play the diplomat, and make do with eclecticism. The difference between the Social-Democrats and all of them is that among the Social-Democrats squabbles are the externals of a struggle of groups with profound and clear ideological roots, while among them squabbles are externally smoothed over, internally empty, petty, trivial. Never and not for anything would I exchange the sharp struggle of currents of opinion among the Social-Democrats for the nicely smoothed emptiness and intellectual poverty of the S.R.s and Co.

All the very best.


P.S. Greetings to M. F.!

P.S. And in Russia there is a revolutionary revival, not just a revival, but a revolutionary one. And we have managed at last to set up a daily Pravda—incidentally, thanks precisely to that (January) Conference[1] which the fools are yapping at.



[1] The Sixth (Prague) All-Russia Conference of the R.S.D.L.P. —Ed.

[2] The publications mentioned here—Pochin (Beginning), Izvestia zagranichnoi oblastnoi organizatsii (Journal of the Regional Organisation Abroad), Revolutsionnaya Mysl (Revolutionary Thought) and Revolutsionnaya Rossiya (Revolutionary Russia)—were run by various groups and|trends in the Socialist-Revolutionary Party.

[3] Reference is to the novels by V. Ropshin (B. Savinkov), one of the leaders of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party: Kon bledny (The Pale Horse), published in the magazine Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought) No. 1 for 1909, and To chego ne bylo (What Never Happened), published in the magazine Zavety (Behests) Nos. 1–8, April–November 1912, and in No. 1 for January 1913.

[4] Vekhi (Landmarks)—a symposium published by the Constitutional-Democrats in Moscow in the spring of 1909. Its articles devoted to the Russian intelligentsia cast a slur on the revolutionary-democratic traditions of the liberation movement in Russia, and the views and activities of the outstanding revolutionary democrats^of the nineteenth century V. G. Belinsky, N. A. Dobrolyubov, N. G. Chernyshevsky and D. I. Pisarev. The contributors to the   symposium vilified the revolutionary movement of 1905 and thanked the tsarist government for protecting the privileged classes “with its bayonets and jails” from “fury of the people”.

[5] Milyukov, P. N. (1859–1948)—leader of the Constitutional– Democratic (Cadet) Party, prominent ideologist of the Russian imperialist bourgeoisie. One of the men who in October 1905 founded the Cadet Party, he became chairman of its Central Committee and editor of its central organ, the newspaper Rech (Speech). He was a member of the Third and Fourth Dumas. After the February bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917 he became Minister for Foreign Affairs in the bourgeois Provisional Government and after the October Socialist Revolution helped to organise the foreign military intervention against Soviet Russia. Later ho was active among the White émigrés.

Gredeskul, N. A. (b. 1864)—professor of law, publicist, Constitutional-Democrat; deputy to the First Duma. Worked on Cadet Rech and a number of other bourgeois-liberal papers. In 1916 he left the Constitutional-Democratic Party. After the October Socialist Revolution taught as a professor in Leningrad.

[6] Socialist-Revolutionary Party (S.R.s)—a petty-bourgeois party in Russia; emerged at the end of 1901 and the beginning of 1902 as a result of the union of various Narodnik groups and circles. The S.R.s did not recognise the class differences between the proletariat and the small owners. They glossed over the class differentiation and contradictions within the peasantry and denied the leading role of the proletariat in the revolution. The tactics of individual terrorism which the S.R.s advocated as the main form of struggle against the autocracy did great harm to the revolutionary movement and made it more difficult to organise the masses for revolutionary struggle.

The Bolshevik Party exposed the S.R.s’ attempts to masquerade as socialists, waged a determined struggle against them for influence over the peasantry, and exposed the harm caused to the working-class movement by their tactics of individual terrorism. At the same time the Bolsheviks, under certain conditions, made temporary agreements with the S.R.s in the struggle against tsarism.

The heterogeneity of the peasantry as a class determined the political and ideological instability and organisational disunity of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and their constant wavering between the liberal bourgeoisie and the proletariat. In the period of reaction (1907–10) the S.R.s suffered complete ideological and organisational collapse. During the first world war the majority of them became social-chauvinists.

After the victory of the February bourgeois-democratic revolution in 1917, the S.R.s together with the Mensheviks and the Cadets were the mainstay of the counter-revolutionary bourgeois-landowner Provisional Government, and their leaders (Kerensky, Avksentyev, Chernov) were members of it. The S.R. Party refused   to support the peasant demand for abolition of the landed estates and came out in favour of landed proprietorship. The S.R. ministers in the Provisional Government sent punitive expeditions against peasants who had seized the landowners’ estates.

At the end of November 1917, the Left wing of the party formed the independent party of Left S.R.s. In an attempt to preserve their influence over the mass of the peasants, the Left S.R.s formally recognised Soviet power and came to an agreement with the Bolsheviks, but soon joined the struggle against Soviet power.

During the years of foreign intervention and civil war, the S.R.s engaged in counter-revolutionary subversion, actively supported the interventionists and whiteguards, participated in counter-revolutionary conspiracies, and organised terrorist acts against leaders of the Soviet state and the Communist Party. After the Civil War the S.R.s continued their hostile activities against the Soviet state.

[7] Trudovik group (Trudoviks)—group of petty-bourgeois democrats in the Duma, consisting of peasants and intellectuals with a Narodnik orientation.

Their politics were the class politics of the small peasant farmer and the Trudoviks in the Duma wavered between the Cadets and Social-Democrats. Since the Trudoviks did to some extent represent the peasant masses, the Bolsheviks in the Duma adopted tactics of co-operating with them, in certain fields, for the sake of the common struggle against tsarist autocracy and the Cadets.

[8] Bezzaglavtsi—semi-Cadet, semi-Menshevik group of the Russian bourgeois intelligentsia, formed when the revolution of 1905–07 was on the wane. It took its name from the political weekly Bez Zaglaviya (Without a Title) published in St. Petersburg between January and May 1906. Under cover of their formal non– attachment to any party, the Bezzaglavtsi advocated bourgeois-liberal and opportunist ideas, and supported the revisionists in the Russian and international Social-Democratic movement.

[9] Witte, S. Y. (1849–1915)—statesman of tsarist Russia, a convinced supporter of the autocracy, who sought to preserve the monarchy by means of small concessions and promises to the liberal   bourgeoisie and harsh repressive measures against the people. He was Prime Minister (1905–06).




Written earlier than August 25, 1912
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 54-55.

Dear A. M.,

If you recognise that “our squabbles are produced by an irreconcilable difference of ideological roots”—that the same applies to the S.R.s (that it is the same with the Cadets—Vekhi—this you did not add, but there can be no doubt about it)—that there is being created a reformist (apt word!) party—then you cannot say both to the liquidator and to his enemy: “Both of you are squabblers.”

In that case the business of those who have understood the ideological roots of the “squabble”, without taking part in it, is to help the masses to discover the roots, and not to justify the masses for regarding the disputes as “a private matter between the generals”.

We “leaders have not written a single clear book, not a single sensible pamphlet”.... Untrue. We wrote as best we could. No less clearly, no less sensibly, than before. And we have written a lot. There have been cases when we wrote against people without any “squabbling” (against Vekhi[1] against Chernov,[3] against Rozhkov,[2] etc.). [Do you see all the issues of Nevskaya Zvezda?]

... “The result of this: among the workers in Russia there are a great number of good ... young people, but they are so furiously irritated with those abroad”.... This is a fact; but it is not the fault of the “leaders”, it is the result of the detachment, or, more truly, the tearing asunder of Russia and the emigrant centres. What has been torn   asunder must be tied together again, and to abuse the leaders is cheap and popular, but of little use ... “that they dissuade the workers from taking part in the conference”....

What conference? The one the liquidators are now calling? Why, we ourselves are dissuading them too! Isn’t there some misunderstanding on your part about this?[4]

I have read that Amfiteatrov has written, in some Warsaw paper,[5] if I am not mistaken, in favour of boycotting the Fourth Duma? Do you happen to have this article? Send it me, I will return it.

Things are warming up in the Baltic Fleet! I had a visit in Paris (this is between ourselves) by a special delegate sent by a meeting of the sailors and Social-Democrats. What’s lacking is organisation—it’s enough to make one weep!! If you have any officer contacts, you should make every effort to arrange something. The sailors are in a fighting mood, but they may all perish again in vain.

Your articles in Zaprosy Zhizni were not too good. It’s a strange journal, by the way—liquidationist– Trudovik-Vekhi. A “classless reformist” party just about sums it up....

You ask why I am in Austria. The C.C. has organised a Bureau here (between ourselves): the frontier is close by, we make use of it, it’s nearer to Petersburg, we get the papers from there on the third day, it’s become far easier to write to the papers there, co-operation with them goes better. There is less squabbling here, which is an advantage. There isn’t a good library, which is a disadvantage. It’s hard without books.

All the very best,

Greetings to M. F.



[1] See “Concerning Vekhi” (present edition, Vol. 16, pp. 123– 31).—Ed.

[2] See “A Liberal Labour Party Manifesto” (present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 313–24).—Ed.

[3] Reference seems to be to L. B. Kamenev’s article “Ob obyazannostyakh demokrata (otvet V. Chernovu)” “(On the Duties of a Democrat [A Reply to V. Chernov]”), published in Nos. 8–9 of Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment) in July–August 1912.

[4] Reference is to the liquidators’ so-called August Conference, which was held in Vienna in August 1912. This conference was responsible for the forming of the anti-Party August bloc, organised by Trotsky.

[5] Lenin has in mind the newspaper Warsaw Latest News, published from July 13 to August 19, 1912 under the editorship of V. N. Chudovskaya. A. Amfiteatrov was a contributor.


Excerpt – concerning Gorky


Written in the autumn of 1912
First published in 1930 in the journal Proletarskaya Revolyutsiya No. 4. Sent from Krakow to Saratov.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 37, page 482.

Dear Anyuta,

I receive very occasional news from Gorky, who is now less unfriendly in his attitude towards us than he was.

V. U.





Written at the beginning of October 1912
First published in Bakinsky Rabochy No. 17, January 21, 1927. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 58.

Dear A. M.,

How is your health? Last time the news you sent me was not good—temperature rising, etc. Are you quite well again? Write a couple of words: I shall be very grateful.

Still nothing from you in Pravda. A pity. You ought to support the paper.

We are now “up to the ears” in the elections. Absenteeism is damnably great. In the worker curia likewise. But still everywhere Social-Democrats have been elected. Very much depends on the outcome of the elections for the building up of the Party.[1]

Have you heard anything about the liquidators’ conference?

In what journal will you be printed? What’s happening about Znaniye?

All the best, and I wish you a speedy and sound recovery.

Regards to M. F.


P.S. My address is not Paris, but Cracow, Ulica Lubomirskiego. 47. Krakau.

P.S. Have you seen Luch[2]? Have you heard what^sort of an undertaking Dyen[3] is? There are rumours that it is the organ of Witte[4]....



[1] Lenin refers to the elections to the Fourth State Duma, which ended on November 7 (20), 1912.

[2] Luch (Bay)—legal daily newspaper put out by Menshevik liquidators in St. Petersburg from September 1912 to July 1913. In all 237 issues appeared. The newspaper existed mainly on the liberals’ donations. Its policy was controlled by P. B. Axelrod, F. I. Dan, L. Martov and A. S. Martynov.

[3] Dyen, (The Day)—liberal-bourgeois daily paper, published in St. Petersburg from 1912 until it was closed down on October 26 (November 8), 1917. Its contributors were Menshevik liquidators, who took over the paper completely after the February bourgeois-democratic revolution of 1917.

[4] Witte, S. Y. (1849–1915)—statesman of tsarist Russia, a convinced supporter of the autocracy, who sought to preserve the monarchy by means of small concessions and promises to the liberal   bourgeoisie and harsh repressive measures against the people. He was Prime Minister (1905–06).




Written on October 17, 1912
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 59-60.

Dear A. M.,

The other day I had a letter from the editorial board of Pravda in Petersburg, in which they ask me to write to you that they would be extremely glad of your regular contributions. “We would like to offer Gorky 25 kopeks a line, but we are afraid of offending him.” That’s what they write to me.

To my mind, there is nothing at all to be offended at. Nobody could even dream of your contributions depending on considerations of payment. In the same way, everybody knows that the workers’ Pravda, which usually pays 2 kopeks a line, and still more frequently pays nothing, cannot attract anyone by its fees.

But there is nothing bad about contributors’ to a workers’ paper receiving regular payment, however small it may be. In fact, it’s all to the good. The circulation is now 20–25 thousand. It’s time it began thinking of a proper arrangement about payment for contributions. What is bad about everybody working on a workers’ paper beginning to earn a little? And how can there be anything offensive in this proposal?

I am sure that the fears of the Petersburg editors of Pravda are quite without foundation, and that you will not treat their proposal otherwise than in comradely fashion. Write a couple of words, either to them direct at the office, or to me.

Tomorrow is the election of electors in Petersburg (for the worker curia). The struggle with the liquidators has   developed. In Moscow and Kharkov the Party people have won.

Have you seen Luch, and do you get it at all? There are people who have fiddled the cards and pretend to be “ kindhearted”!

I have seen an advertisement for Krugozor.[1] Is this your undertaking, or are you there by invitation?

Every good wish, and above all for your health. Greetings to M. F.


47. Ulica Lubomirskiego. Krakau.



[1] Krugozor (Horizon)—literary-political monthly with a bourgeois-liberal orientation. Two numbers were published in St.  Petersburg in January and February 1913. Maxim Gorky was listed among the contributors but actually did not take part.



Excerpt – concerning Gorki


Written after November 2, 1912
First published in 1956 in the journal Kommunist No. 5. Sent from Cracow to St. Petersburg.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 200-201.

Dear Colleague,

I wrote to Gorky as you requested, and received a reply from him today. He writes:

“Send the enclosed note to Pravda. There is no question of fee, that is nonsense. I will work for the paper, and will soon begin sending it manuscripts. I couldn’t do it up to now only because I have been desperately busy, putting in about 12 hours a day; it’s back-breaking work.”

As you see, Gorky’s attitude is very friendly.[1] I hope you will reciprocate, and see that Pravda is sent to him regularly. The forwarding department sometimes slips up, so that from time to time you must check and check again.

If you want to retain his friendly interest, send him (through me) any new publication which might be of interest to him, and also any particular manuscripts.

All the best,



[1] I enclose Gorky’s letter to Sovremenny Mir[2] requesting them to hand his Tale over to you. Get it as soon as possible.—Lenin

[2] Sovremenny Mir (Contemporary World)—a monthly literary, scientific and political magazine, published in St. Petersburg from 1906 to 1918. The Mensheviks were closely connected with the magazine. The Bolsheviks contributed to it during the bloc   with Plekhanov’s pro-Party Menshevik group and in early 1914. During the First World War, the magazine became an organ of the social-chauvinists.





Written on December 22 or 23, 1912
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 67-68.

Dear Al. M.,

It seems a long time since we have had any word from you. How are you getting on? Are you well?

I received today No. 187 of Pravda with the subscriptions for 1913. The paper is having a hard passage: since the summer decline in circulation, the rise has been very slow, and a deficit remains. They have even temporarily stopped payment to two permanent contributors, which has made our position exceptionally difficult.

We propose to develop intensive agitation among the workers for subscriptions, and to use the money collected to strengthen the paper and expand it, because since the opening of the Duma there has been no room at all for articles.

I hope you too will take part in the agitation for subscriptions, in order to help in “rescuing” the paper. In what form? If you have a tale or something suitable, the announcement of it will make very good agitation. If not, send them a promise to provide one in the near future, and particularly in 1913. Finally, a few simple lines, in a letter to the workers from you, about the importance of supporting the workers’ paper actively (by subscriptions, sales, collections), would also be splendid agitation.

Please drop a line about one or the other—direct to the editor of Pravda (2 Yamskaya, St. Petersburg) or to me here (Ulijanow, 47, Lubomirskiego, Krakau).

Probably there will be no war, and we shall remain here for the time being, “taking advantage” of the desperate hatred of the Poles towards tsarism.

The liquidators are now carrying on an attack against revolutionary strikes! They’ve sunk to that. There is talk of a strike and demonstration for January 9.

Among the workers’ deputies, for the first time in the three Dumas (2nd, 3rd, 4th), all six deputies from the chief gubernias are on the side of the Party. Things are difficult, but still the cause is going ahead.

Have you seen the “defence” of Ropshin in Zavety,[1] in the name of “freedom of thought and criticism” (in reply to the letter to the editor from Natanson and Co.)? That is worse than any liquidationism—renegacy which is muddled, cowardly, evasive and nonetheless systematic!

We are swimming “against the stream”.... One has now to fight for revolutionary agitation among the masses against very many “would-be revolutionaries”.... Among the mass of the workers there is unquestionably a revolutionary mood, but the new democratic intelligentsia ( including the workers’ intelligentsia) with a revolutionary ideology is growing up slowly, lagging behind, can’t yet catch up.

Very warm greetings!

Write me a couple of words.


P.S. Greetings to M. F.! She has somehow fallen quite, quite silent....



[1] Zavety (Behests)—legal literary-political monthly with a Socialist-Revolutionary orientation; appeared in St. Petersburg, April 1912 to July 1914.






Written earlier than January 8, 1913
First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 69-72.

Dear A. M.,

New Year’s greetings to you, too! I wish you all the very best, and above all health! We have Malinovsky,[1] Petrovsky and Badayev staying with us just now. Yesterday I received your letter and read it out to them. They were all extraordinarily pleased. Malinovsky wanted to visit you, but probably the distance will be a barrier. Ah, if only you could be nearer to us.... If your health permitted, you could transfer to the local Galician health resorts like Zakopane, find a healthy place in the mountains, two days nearer to Russia; we could get more frequent visits from the workers, once again organise a workers’ school[2]: crossing the frontier is not difficult, the price of the journey from Petersburg is 12 rubles, contacts with the workers of Moscow and the South are also possible.... I’ve been really day-dreaming in connection with M. F.’s journey.... That was a wonderful idea of hers, really wonderful. Make sure to drop me a line, when you have a chance, whether she has succeeded in getting her legal papers ( probably she will succeed). Also let me know how Malinovsky can find her in Petersburg or in Moscow. Through Tikhonov? If we can’t find some cash to expand and strengthen Pravda, it will perish. The deficit is now 50–60 rubles a day. We have to increase the circulation, reduce costs, expand the paper. We have held out for 200 issues—a record. After all, we are influencing twenty to thirty thousand worker–   readers systematically in a Marxist spirit: it is something really big, and we should be damnably sorry if the paper went under. We are discussing with the deputies, from every point of view and in every possible way, how to get Pravda out of its difficulties, but fear that without financial help from outside we won’t succeed.

Malinovsky, Petrovsky and Badayev send you warm greetings and best wishes. They are good fellows, especially the first. Really, it is possible to build a workers’ party with such people, though the difficulties are incredibly great. The base at Cracow has proved to be useful: our move to Cracow has fully “paid for itself” (from the point of view of the cause). The deputies confirm that a revolutionary mood is unquestionably growing among the mass of the workers. If we now create a good proletarian organisation, without obstacles from the treacherous liquidators—the devil knows what victories we can then win when the movement from below develops....

What you write about letters from Russia is remarkably interesting and characteristic. Menshevik workers say that Russia has outlived Marx!! And this is not the only case. The liquidators introduce such corruption, such a spirit of treachery, such desertion, as it is difficult to imagine. And in addition, thousands of intrigues for “uniting” with them: the only way to make a mess of the whole cause, to spoil the building of the Party, which has had a difficult start, is once again to begin the intrigues =“unity” with the liquidators. Well, the battle isn’t over yet....

I am ready to share with all my heart in your joy at the return of the Vperyod group, if... if your supposition is justified that “Machism, god-building[3] and all that nonsense has been dumped for ever”, as you write. If that is so, if the Vperyod people have understood this or will understand it now, then I warmly join in your delight at their return. But I underline “if” because this, so far, is still a hope rather than a fact. Do you remember, at Capri in the spring of 1908, our “last meeting” with Bogdanov, Bazarov and Lunacharsky[4]? Do you remember how I said that we should have to part company for two or three years, and how then M. F., in the chair, furiously protested, calling me to order, etc.![5]

It has turned out to be four and a half, nearly five years. And this is not very long, for such a period of the most profound collapse as occurred in 1908–11. I don’t know whether Bogdanov, Bazarov, Volsky (a semi-anarchist), Lunacharsky, Alexinsky[6] are capable of learning from the painful experience of 1908–11. Have they understood that Marxism is a more serious and more profound thing than it seemed to them, that one cannot scoff at it, as Alexinsky used to do, or dismiss it as something dead, as the others did? If they have understood this—a thousand greetings to them, and everything personal (inevitably brought in by the sharpness of the struggle) will in one moment be thrown on the scrap-heap. But if they haven’t understood it, if they haven’t learned anything, then don’t hold it against me: friendship is friendship, but duty is duty. Against attempts to abuse Marxism or to confuse the policy of the workers’ party we shall fight without sparing our lives.

I am very glad it is through Pravda, which did not directly attack them, that the way has been found for the gradual return of the Vperyod people. Very glad. But for the sake of a lasting rapprochement, we must now move towards it slowly and cautiously. That is what I have written to Pravda too. And friends of the reunion of the Vperyodists with us must bend their efforts to this also: a careful, tested return of the Vperyodists from Machism, otzovism,[7] god-building can yield great results. The least carelessness, any “recurrence of the Machist, otzovist, etc., disease”, and the struggle will burst, out still more violently.... I have not read the new “Philosophy of Living Experience” by Bogdanov, probably the same old Machism in a new dress....

We have excellent connections with Sergei Moiseyev in Paris. We have known him a long time, and are working together. He is a real Party man and Bolshevik. It, is with such people that we are building the Party, but there are damnably few of them left.

Once again I wish you the best: I must finish this letter, which has become indecently long. Good health!


N. K. sends her warm greetings!

(Some more good workers from Russia have gathered here. We are organising a conference.[8] Alas, we haven’t the money, or we could get a devil of a lot done from this base!)

I am writing to Pravda today that they, after asking Tikhonov, should print a notice that Tikhonov and you are in charge of the literary ^department of Pravda. Isn’t that so? Write to them yourself, if they don’t print it.



[1] Malinovsky was subsequently exposed as an agent provocateur.

[2] Reference is to the Party school at Poronin, which the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. planned to organise in 1913, during the Duma’s summer recess, for members of the Social-Democratic group in the Duma, workers and Party activists. Lenin intended giving an important series of lectures on political economy, the theory and practice of socialism in Russia, and on the agrarian and nationalities problems. Difficulties, such as lack of funds, etc., prevented the school from being organised.

[3] Machism, or empirio-criticism—reactionary subjective-idealist philosophical trend which became widespread in Western Europe at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Its founders were the Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach and the German philosopher Richard Avenarius. In Russia, during the years of reaction, the influence of Machism made itself felt among some intellectuals of the R.S.D.L.P., particularly Menshevik intellectuals (N. Valentinov, P. Yushkevich and others). Some literary men among the Bolsheviks also adopted Machist positions (V. Bazarov, A. Bogdanov and others). Though they claimed to advocate Marxism, the Russian Machists were trying to revise the fundamental principles of Marxist philosophy. In his book Materialism and Empirio-criticism Lenin revealed the reactionary essence of Machism, defended Marxist philosophy from   revisionist attacks and in the new historical conditions obtaining at the time pushed forward the development of dialectical and historical materialism in all respects. The defeat of Machism was a crippling blow to the ideology of Menshevism, otzovism and god-building.

God-building—A religious-philosophical trend hostile to Marxism. It arose during the period of reaction among certain Party intellectuals who departed from Marxism after the defeat of the 1905–07 revolution. The god-builders (A. V. Lunacharsky, V.  Bazarov and others) advocated a new “socialist” religion and tried to reconcile Marxism with religion. Maxim Gorky was at one time associated with them.

[4] Bogdanov, A. = (Malinovsky, A. A.; = Maximov, N.) (1873–1928)— Social-Democrat, philosopher, sociologist, economist; by training, a doctor. After the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. he joined the Bolsheviks and was elected a member of the Central Committee. He was on the editorial boards of the Bolshevik newspapers Vperyod and Proletary, = and worked as an editor of the Bolshevik newspaper Novaya Zhizn (New Life). In the years of reaction (1907– 10) and the subsequent revolutionary revival ho headed the otzovists, and the Vperyod anti-Party group. In philosophy he tried to create his own system of “empiric-monism” (a variety of subjective-idealist philosophy), which Lenin criticised sharply in his Materialism and Empirio-criticism. At a meeting of the enlarged editorial board of the newspaper Proletary in June 1909 Bogdanov was expelled from the Bolshevik Party. After the October Socialist Revolution he became one of the organisers and leaders of the Proletcult (Proletarian Culture Organisation). From 1926 onwards he was director of the Blood-Transfusion Institute which he had founded.

Bazarov, V. (real name Rudnev, V. A.) (1874–1939)— philosopher and economist, joined the Social-Democratic movement in 1896.

Between 1905 and 1907 he contributed to a number of Bolshevik publications, gave up Bolshevism in the years of reaction, and became one of the main representatives of the Machist revision of Marxism.

Lunacharsky, A. V. (1875–1933)—professional revolutionary, prominent Soviet statesman.

Having entered the revolutionary movement in the early nineties, he became a Bolshevik after the Second Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. During the years of reaction he turned away from Marxism, took part in the anti-Party Vperyod group, and called for the merging of religion and Marxism.

[5] Lenin visited Capri for a few days at Gorky’s request in April 1908. During his stay he told A. Bogdanov, V. Bazarov and A. V. Lunacharsky that he definitely disagreed with them in matters of philosophy.

[6] Alexinsky, G. A. (b. 1879)—started his political career as a Social-Democrat. An otzovist and one of the organisers of the anti-Party   Vperyod group in the years of reaction, he became a social– chauvinist during the world war and worked for a number of bourgeois papers. In July 1917 he made slanderous allegations against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. In April 1918 he fled the country.

[7] Otzovism (from the Russian “otozvat”—to recall)—an opportunist trend among the Bolsheviks, which was led by A. Bogdanov. Under cover of revolutionary phrases the otzovists (besides Bogdanov the group included G. A. Alexinsky, S. Volsky, A. V. Lunacharsky and M. N. Lyadov) demanded the recall of the Social-Democratic deputies from the Third Duma. They also refused to work in legal organisations. Declaring that under conditions of reaction the Party should conduct only illegal work, the otzovists refused to participate in the Duma, the trade unions, the cooperatives or any mass legal and semilegal organisations.

A variety of otzovism was ultimatumism. The ultimatumists proposed that the Social-Democratic deputies in the Duma should be presented with an ultimatum demanding implicit obedience to the decisions of the Party Central Committee and, if they rejected it, that they should be recalled. Ultimatumism was actually a masked form of otzovism. Lenin called the ultimatumists “bashful otzovists”.

The otzovists caused great harm to the Party. Their policy would have isolated the Party from the masses and converted it into a sectarian organisation.

[8] Reference is to the Conference of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. with Party workers, known for conspiratorial purposes as the “ February Conference”. It look place in Cracow on December 26, 1912, lasting till January 1, 1913 (January 8–14, 1913).




Written after January 25, 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
: Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 74-77.

Dear A. M.,

Of course, I have nothing against your sending my letter to Tikhonov.

After your account I have become interested in Lunacharsky’s article “Between Fear and Hope”. Couldn’t you send it to me, if you have a copy? If you want it I shall return it without fail.

The collections for the Moscow paper rejoiced us greatly. Our trio of deputies from Moscow Region—Malinovsky, Shagov and Samoilov—will set about this. That has already been agreed. But care is needed: before consolidating Pravda, we cannot set about a Moscow paper. We have a plan for organising a Moskovskaya Pravda.[3]

Please write to Tikhonov that he should talk only to Badayev and Malinovsky—but he must talk with them.

I was particularly glad of the following words in your letter: “From all the plans and suppositions of the Russian intelligentsia, it is clear beyond any doubt that socialist thought is interlarded with various currents radically hostile to it. They include mysticism, and metaphysics, and opportunism, and reformism, and relapses into Narodism. All these currents are all the more hostile because they are extremely indefinite and, not having their own platforms, cannot determine themselves with sufficient clarity.”

I underline the words which have particularly delighted me. That’s just it: “radically hostile”, and all the more so because they are indefinite. You ask, for example, about   Stepanov (I. I.).[4] What did he turn out to be in the era of collapse and vacillation, 1908–11 (yet he was a good fellow, a hard worker, well-read, etc.)? He wanted to make peace with the Vperyodists. But then that means that he was wobbling himself.

He wrote letters to me about giving up the democratic revolution in Russia as a bad job, that in our country things would proceed without revolution, on Austrian lines. I branded him as a liquidator for these philistine ideas. He was offended. And then Larin[5] blurted out his ideas in print.

Now Stepanov is demonstratively writing not for us but for Rozhkov’s paper Novaya Sibir at Irkutsk.[6] And do you know what “trend” Rozhkov has discovered? Did you read his article in Nasha Zarya of 1911 and my reply in Zvezda?[1] And Rozhkov has dug himself in as an arch– opportunist. And Stepanov? Allah knows. That’s just it: an “extremely indefinite” and muddled position. I should never entrust any at all independent department to Stepanov now: he himself doesn’t know where he will jump next. But probably he could be a useful contributor. He is one of those who haven’t “seen clearly”. To commission him to “organise” a department means to kill both him and the department for certain.

You write: “It’s time we had our journal, but we haven’t, a sufficient number of people who have come properly to terms with each other for this.”

I don’t accept the second part of this sentence. The journal would oblige a sufficient number of people to come to terms with each other, provided there was a journal, provided there was a nucleus.

A nucleus does exist, but there is no full-size journal for external reasons—no money. If we had money, I am sure we could manage a full-size journal even now, because in addition to the nucleus of contributors we could, for payment, draw in a lot of people by giving out subjects and allocating jobs.

So long as we have no money, we must in my opinion not only dream hut build upon what we’ve got, in other words, on Prosveshcheniye.[7] Of course, it’s a little fish, but in the first place a big fish, like everything else, grows from a little one. Secondly, better a little fish than a big cockroach.

It’s time, high time, to begin coming to terms, if we want to have “people who have come to terms” in large numbers.

“It’s time we had our journal.” The literary nucleus is there. The correctness of the line has been confirmed by the experience of 12 years (or even 20), and particularly by the experience of the last six years. We should gather around this nucleus, thereby defining it in greater detail, training it up and expanding. We had to begin with the illegal one and with Pravda. But we don’t want to stop at that. And therefore, once you have said that “it’s time we had our journal”, allow me to call you to account for these words: either to draft out at once a plan of enquiries for money for a full-size journal with such-and-such a programme, such-and-such an editorial board and such-and-such a body of contributors, or to begin on the same plan expanding Prosveshcheniye.

Or more truly, not either—or, but both.

I await your reply. You probably have already had a letter from Vienna about Prosveshcheniye. There is a reliable hope of consolidating it for 1913 in a smaller form. You want us to “have our journal”, then let’s push it ahead together.

I haven’t heard anything about the Dashnaks. But I think it’s a nonsensical rumour. It’s been started by the government, which wants to swallow up Turkish Armenia.[8]

The P.P.S.[2] are undoubtedly for Austria and will fight for her. A war between Austria and Russia would be a very useful thing for the revolution (throughout Eastern Europe), but it’s not very probable that Franz-Josef and Nicky will give us this pleasure.

You ask me to keep you better informed. With pleasure— only you must reply. I send you (for the time being   confidentially) the resolutions of our recent conference (which in my view was very successful and will play its part).[9]

Resolutions, they say, are of all forms of literature the most boring. I am a man who has consumed too many resolutions. Drop me a line about how readable they are for you (especially about revolutionary strikes and about the liquidators).

What bad effect has the rumour about an amnesty had in Russia? I don’t know. Drop me a line.

N. K. sends her regards.

All the best.




[1] See “A Liberal Labour Party Manifesto” (present edition Vol. 17, pp. 313–24).—Ed.

[2] P.P.S. (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna)—Polish Socialist Party.—Ed.

[3] Reference is to the newspaper Nash Put (Our Path). Lenin had pointed out the necessity for a legal workers’ newspaper in Moscow in the summer of 1912. But the fund-collecting campaign for the Moscow newspaper did not begin until November 1912. Pravda No. 176 for November 24 (O.S), 1912 published a “Letter from a Group of Moscow Workers”, which indicated that it would be possible and opportune to start a workers’ newspaper in Moscow. The call to make collections for the paper was enthusiastically supported by the workers, but, its appearance was delayed by the arrest, in February 1913, of the group of Bolsheviks who were starting it.

The first number of Nash Put appeared on August 25 ( September 7), 1913. Lenin was active on the paper. Its contributors included Maxim Gorky, Demyan Bedny, M. S. Olminsky, I. I. Skvortsov-Stepanov, and also the Bolshevik deputies to the Fourth Duma. Nash Put was very popular among the workers and received donations from 395 workers’ groups. When the paper was banned on September 12 (25), 1913, after only 16 issues had appeared, the Moscow workers staged a protest strike but did not succeed in getting the ban lifted.

[4] Skvortsov-Stepanov, I. I. (1870–1928)—one of the oldest participants in the Russian revolutionary movement. He joined the R.S.D.L.P. in 1896, becoming a Bolshevik and Marxist writer towards the end of 1904. On several occasions between 1907 and 1911 he was nominated by the Bolsheviks as a candidate for the Duma. In the period of reaction he held incorrect views on the agrarian problem and adopted a conciliatory attitude to the anti-Party Vperyod group, but under Lenin’s influence overcame his mistakes.

[5] Larin, Y. (Lurye, M. A.) (1882–1932)—Social-Democrat, Menshevik. After the defeat of the 1905–07 revolution he became an active supporter of liquidationism, but in August 1917 was admitted to the Bolshevik Party. After the October Socialist Revolution he held various administrative and managerial posts.

[6] Novaya Sibir (New Siberia)—socio-political and literary daily newspaper with a liberal orientation. It was published in Irkutsk from December 1912 to February 1913. The liquidator N. Rozhkov was, in practice, its editor.

[7] Prosveshcheniye (Enlightenment)—legal Bolshevik socio-political and literary monthly; began publication in St. Petersburg in December 1911. Maxim Gorky was editor of the fiction section. The magazine was banned by the tsarist government on the eve of the first world war, in June 1914. One further issue (a double one) appeared in the autumn of 1917.

[8] Reference is probably to rumours of the possibility of a rising in Turkish Armenia under the leadership of the Armenian bourgeois-nationalist Dashnaktsutyun Party. This was suggested in an article “Turkish Armenians and Russia” in the newspaper Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word) No. 7, January 9, 1913.

[9] Reference is to the resolutions of the Cracow Conference of the C.C. of the R.S.D.L.P. and Party workers (January 8–14, 1913).





Written between February 15 and 25, 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 83-85.

Dear A. M.,

Now, sir, what’s the meaning of this bad behaviour of yours? You’re overworked, tired, your nerves are out of order. This is all wrong. In Capri of all places, and in the winter when there are probably less “visitors”, you ought to have a regular way of life. You have no one to look after you, is that why you have let yourself slide like this? Honestly, it’s no good. Pull yourself together and give yourself a stricter regime, really! Falling ill in limes like these just isn’t allowed. Have you begun working at night? Why, when I was in Capri, I was told that it was only with my coming that things had got out of hand, while before me everyone went to bed at the right time. You must rest and establish a régime, without fail.

I will write to Troyanovsky and his wife about your wish to meet them. This would be a really good thing. They are good people. We haven’t seen much of them at work yet, but everything we have heard up to now speaks in their favour. They also have money. They might get into their stride and do a great deal for the journal. Troyanovskaya is going to Russia soon.

It is a great joy to me, and to all of us, that you are taking up Prosveshcheniye. I confess that I did have the thought! now as soon as I write about our little journal, A. M. will lose his enthusiasm. I repent, I repent of such thoughts.

Now it really will be splendid if little by little we draw in fiction writers and set Prosveshcheniye going! Excellent! The reader is new, proletarian; we shall make the journal cheap; you will let in only democratic fiction, without   moaning, without renegade stuff. We shall consolidate the workers. And the workers now are fine. Our six deputies in the Duma from the worker curia have now begun to work outside the Duma so energetically that it is a joy to see. This is where people will build up a real workers party! We were never able to bring this off in the Third Duma. Have you seen the letter in Luch (No. 24) from the four deputies about their resignation?[1] A good letter, wasn’t it?

And have you seen in Pravda how mildly Alexinsky is writing, and so far not making a row? Wonderful! He sent one “Manifesto” (why he entered Pravda). They didn’t print it. And still, so far, he is not making a row. Wonder–ful! But Bogdanov is making a row: a piece of exceptional stupidity in Pravda No. 24. No, we shall never gel anywhere with him! I have read his Engineer Mannie. It’s the same old Machism = idealism, so concealed that neither the workers nor the stupid editors of Pravda understood it. No, this Machist is as hopeless as Lunacharsky (thanks for his article). If only Lunacharsky could be separated from Bogdanov in aesthetics, as Alexinsky has begun to draw apart from him in politics ... if only...

As regards the theory of matter and its structure, I am fully in agreement with you that one should write about it, and that it is a good remedy against “the poison which the shapeless Russian soul is sucking”. Only you are wrong to call this poison “metaphysics”. It ought to be called idealism and agnosticism.

For the Machists call materialism metaphysics! And it so happens that a host of the most prominent present-day physicists, on the occasion of the “wonders” of radium, electrons, etc., are smuggling in the God business—both the crudest and the most subtle—in the shape of philosophical idealism.

As regards nationalism I am fully in agreement with you that we ought to take this up more seriously. We have a marvellous Georgian who has sat down to write a big article for Prosveshcheniye, for which he has collected all the Austrian and other materials.[2] We shall go at this hard. But that our resolutions (I am sending them in printed form) “are formalities, bureaucracy”, there your abuse is off target. No. It’s not a formality. In Russia and in the   Caucasus the Georgian + Armenian + Tartar + Russian Social-Democrats have worked together, in a single Social-Democratic organisation for more than ten years. This is not a phrase, but the proletarian solution of the problem of nationalities. The only solution. So it was in Riga too: Russians + Letts + Lithuanians. Only the separatists—the Bund—used to stand aloof. The same at Vilna.

There are two good Social-Democratic pamphlets on the nationalities problem: Strasser and Pannekoek. Would you like me to send them to you? Will you find anyone to translate them from the German for you?

No, the disgusting situation that exists in Austria won’t happen here. We won’t allow it! And there are more of our Great Russians here. With the workers on our side we won’t let in any of the “Austrian spirit”.

As regards Pyatnitsky,[3] I am for prosecution. There is no need to stand on ceremony. Sentimentalism would be unforgivable. Socialists are not at all against use of the slate court. We are for making use of legality. Marx and Bebel made use of the stale court even against their socialist opponents. One must know how to do it, but it must be done.

Pyatnitsky must be prosecuted, and no nonsense. If you hear reproaches against you for this—spit in the mugs of those who make them. It is the hypocrites who will reproach you. To give way to Pyatnitsky, to let him off for fear of going to court, would be unforgivable.

Well, I have chattered more than enough. Write and tell me about your health.



P.S. We know Foma-Piterets. He is now at Narym. Foma from the Urals? We don’t seem to remember him. At the Congress of 1907 there was a Foma-Piterets.



[1] Lenin refers to the following letter from the Bolshevik deputies in the Fourth Duma—A. Y. Badayev, G. I. Petrovsky, F. N. Samoilov and N. R. Shagov—on their resignation from the liquidators’ newspaper Luch: “On December 18, 1912, we, in accordance with __PRINTERS_P_563_COMMENT__ 37—01148   the wishes of the Social-Democratic group of December 15, accepted the proposal of the newspaper Luch that we should be included among its contributors.

“Since then more than a month has passed. In all this time Luch has acted in constant and rabid opposition to anti– liquidationism. We consider its advocacy of an ‘open’ workers’ party and its attacks on the underground, in the present conditions of Russian life, impermissible and harmful.

“Since we find it impossible to allow our names to be used as a cover for the liquidationist views advocated by Luch we request the editors to remove us from the list of its contributors” (Luch No. 24, January 30, 1913).

[2] Lenin refers to J. V. Stalin’s writing of the article “The Nationalities Problem and Social-Democracy”.

[3] Gorky suspected dishonesty on the part of K. P. Pyatnitsky, the managing director of the St. Petersburg publishing firm Znaniye (Knowledge). The matter was never actually taken to court.




Written after March 6, 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 92.

Dear A. M.,

I have read the “Manifesto”[1] today....

It seems there is a complete amnesty for writers. You should try to get hack—having first found out, of course, whether they won’t play you a dirty trick on account of the “school”,[2] etc. Probably they won’t be able to prosecute you for this.

I hope you don’t take the view that one mustn’t “accept” an amnesty? This would he wrong. A revolutionary, as things are today, will do more from inside Russia, and our deputies even sign “the solemn oath”.

But you don’t have to sign anything, only to make use of the amnesty. Drop me a line about your opinion and your plans. Perhaps you will call here it you do move— after all, it’s on your way!

And for a revolutionary writer to have the possibility of roaming around Russia (the new Russia) means that he is afterwards able to hit a hundred limes harder at the Romanovs and Co....

Did you get my last letter? Somehow we haven’t had news from you for a long time. Are you well?


P.S. Did you get the letter from N. K. with the material?



[1] The “Manifesto” referred to is the amnesty decree promulgated in connection with the 300th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs.

[2] Reference is to a school on Capri organised by the Vperyod group in 1909 with Gorky’s participation.




Written not earlier than May 9–10, 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 97-98.

Dear A. M.,

How do you stand about a little article or a story for the May issue of Prosveshcheniye? They write to me from there that they could publish 10–15 thousand (that’s how we are marching ahead!), if there were something from you. Drop me a line whether there will be.[1] Then Pravda reprints it, and we get 40,000 readers. Yes ... the affairs of Prosveshcheniye could begin to prosper; otherwise there does not exist, devil take it, a single consistent journal for the workers, for the Social-Democrats, for revolutionary democracy; nothing but rotten sour-pusses of one kind or another.

How is your health? Have you rested, and will you be taking a rest in the summer? It is essential, my word on it, that you should have a good rest!

Things are not too well with me. The wife is down with goitre. Nerves! My nerves are also playing me up a little. We are spending the summer in the village of Poronin, near Zakopane. (My address is: Herrn Wl. Ulianow, Poronin, Galizien, Austria.) It’s a good place, and healthy. Height about 700 metres. Suppose you took it into your head to pay us a visit? There will be interesting workers from Russia. Zakopane (seven versts from us) is a well-known health resort.

Have you seen Demyan Bedny’s Fables?[2] I will send them if you haven’t. If you have, write and say what you think of them.

Do you get Pravda and Luch regularly? Our cause is going ahead—in spite of everything—and the workers’ party is being built up as a revolutionary Social-Democratic party, against the liberal renegades, the liquidators. We shall have cause to celebrate one day. We are rejoicing just now at the victory of the workers in Petersburg over the liquidators when the Board of the new Metalworkers’ Union[3] was elected.

And “your” Lunacharsky is a line one!! Oh, what a fine fellow! Maeterlinck, he says, has “scientific mysticism”.... Or Lunacharsky and Bogdanov are perhaps no longer yours?

Joking apart. Keep well. Send me a couple of words.

Rest as well as you can.


Ulianow, Austria. Poronin (Galizien).

How did you find the jubilee number of Pravda?[4]



[1] In the May 1913 issue of Prosveshcheniye there are no works by Gorky, but the June issue contains his story “Krazha” (“The Theft”).

[2] Bedny, Demyan (Pridvorov, Y. A.) (1883–1945)—outstanding Soviet poet, joined the Bolshevik Party in 1912. In 1911 he had begun contributing to the Bolshevik newspapers Zvezda and Pravda. His poems and fables were fired with the spirit of the class struggle against the capitalist system and its defenders. During the period of foreign intervention and civil war Bedny went to the front as a poet-agitator.

[3] The elections of the Board of the Petersburg Metalworkers’ Union took place on April 21 (May 4), 1913. The meeting was attended by nearly 800 people and another 400 were unable to get in because there was no room. The Bolsheviks submitted a list of candidates for the Board that had been published in Pravda No. 91 and was distributed among those present. Despite the liquidators’ demand that candidates should be elected “irrespective of trend”, the majority of the meeting voted for the Pravda list; 10 out of the 14 successful candidates for the Board were Pravda nominees.


[4] Reference is to Pravda No. 92, April 23, 1913, which contained Lenin’s articles “Anniversary of Pravda” and “A Few Words on Results and Facts”.




Written not later than June 22, 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 105-106.

Dear Al. Max.,

We have had a letter today from Petersburg that our plan for a visit of the Social-Democratic deputies here is close to fulfilment (extra-conspiratively: it has been decided not to say a word to anyone except you). In addition to the six supporters of Pravda it is possible, they write, that Tulyakov, Buryanov, Khaustov and even, maybe, Mankov may come. Probably they will manage to draw in some of the workers as well (non-deputies). Write, please, whether you could come (for a number of lectures, or talks, or classes, just as you please). It would be a fine thing! Seven kilometres from here by rail is Zakopane, a very good health resort. As regards money for the journey, we shall raise it, in all probability (so they write). We can collect and send you all the information about Zakopane as a health resort.

If your health permits, do come for a short time! You would meet more workers, after the ones at London[1] and the Capri school.

Malinovsky wanted to visit you but didn’t manage it, he was short of time. He and all the deputies send you warm greetings.

I await your reply.


The newspapers are full of reports about the “conflict”.[2] I think they are going to stifle Pravda for us. Maklakov will bring this off one way or another—by-passing the   Duma, against, the Duma or in some other way, but bring it off he will![3]

In that case we shall turn again to illegal literature— but we have no money.

Hasn’t the “merchant” begun to contribute yet? It is time, just the right time.

Address: Herrn Wl. Ulianow. Poronin (Galizien) Autriche.



[1] Gorky had been a delegate to the Fifth (London) Congress of the R.S.D.L.P., which took place from April 30 to May 19 (May 13 to June 1), 1907.

[2] The conflict was between the Fourth Duma and the government, in connection with a speech by the Black Hundred deputy Markov II who had said with reference to a representative of the Ministry of Finance “there must be no stealing”. The Duma had not reacted in any way to the statement. The Cabinet, considering this an insult to the whole government, insisted that Markov II should be prosecuted for slander and demanded that Rodzyanko, Chairman of the Fourth Duma, should make a public statement condemning Markov’s speech.

[3] Pravda was banned on July 5 (18), 1913 by decree of the St.  Petersburg Chamber of Justice on the proposal of N. A. Maklakov, Minister of the Interior. On July 13 (26) of the same year it resumed publication under the new name of Rabochaya Pravda (Workers’ Truth).





First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 107-108.
July 25, 1913


Dear A. M.,

I have kept on intending to write to you, and then pulling it off on account of my wife’s operation. The other day at last the operation look place, and things are now on the mend. The operation proved a rather difficult one: I am very glad indeed that we managed to get Kocher to operate.

Now to business. You wrote that you would be in Berlin in August. When in August? At the beginning or at the end? We intend to leave here on August 4. Our tickets lake us through Zurich, Munich and Vienna, and we shall break the journey in each of these cities. (Possibly the doctor will not let us leave so soon as the 4th: in that case we shall postpone it again.)

Couldn’t we see each other somewhere? In all probability it would suit you to travel through Berne, or through Zurich, or through Munich, wouldn’t it?

There is great need for us to meet. The closing down of Pravda creates a devilishly difficult situation. Perhaps we could think of something. Then in Berlin you could do a very great deal for us, i.e., for Pravda.

Therefore I beg you to write immediately, be it only two words, whether our meeting is possible, either here or in the places mentioned, at the beginning of August? If it is impossible, I will write to you about everything in greater detail, particularly about the school (the arrest of the   organiser[1] has spoilt things for us damnably; we are looking for another).

I shake your hand warmly and wish you the best of luck, and most of all health for the journey. So reply at once!


Address: Herrn Ulianoff. 4. Gesellschaftsstraße Bwhatthe;e, 4. ( Svizzera). Bern.





First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 112-113.
September 30, 1913

Dear A. M.,

This reply has been delayed a little. Sorry. How devilishly furious I was in Berne, and later!! I thought: if you were in Verona (the telegram from you about Bebel was from Verona)—or in some Rom...[2]?? Why, I could have come to Verona from Berne!! But from you at that time there was not a sound for months....

What you write about your illness worries me terribly. Are you doing the right thing in living without treatment at Capri? The Germans have excellent sanatoria (for example, at St. Blasien, near Switzerland) where they treat and completely cure lung diseases, achieve complete healing, feed you up, then systematically accustom you to cold, harden you against catching cold, and turn out fit people, able to work.

While you, after Capri, and in winter, want to go to Russia???? I am terribly afraid that this will injure your health and undermine your working capacity. Are there first-class doctors in that Italy of yours??

Really, go and visit some first-class doctor in Switzerland[1] or Germany, and set about a couple of months of serious treatment in a good sanatorium. Because to squander official property, i.e., to go on being ill and undermining your working capacity, is something quite intolerable in every respect.

I have heard (from the editor of Prosveshcheniye, who saw Ladyzhnikov) that you are dissatisfied with Pravda.   Because it’s dry? That is true. But it’s not easy to correct this defect all at once. We haven’t the people. With great difficulty, one year after it started, we secured a merely tolerable editorial board in Petersburg.

(I have forwarded your letter to Prosveshcheniye.)

Write what your plans are, and what your health is like. I earnestly ask you to set about your treatment seriously— really, it is quite possible to be cured, and to let it go on is simply outrageous and criminal.


P.S. Some of the people we have had here, and some we shall have, are good. And have you seen “Nash Put”? What a success, eh? Our second paper. We shall start a third, too, in the South.

Address: Ulianow. Poronin (Galizien). Austria. (During the winter I shall be in Cracow: Lubomirskiego. 51.)



[1] I can find out names and addresses.—Lenin

[2] Lenin refers to a telegram sent by Maxim Gorky from Rimini to the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. about the death of August Bebel. It was published in Severnaya Pravda No. 4, August 4, 1913.



Written at the beginning of November 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, page 265.

Dear Alexei Maximych,

I am sending you today by registered book-post the beginning of a novel which is to go into Prosveshcheniye. We think that you will not object. But if, by any chance, you should, cable to Prosveshcheniye: “Postpone Voitinsky” or “Don’t carry Voitinsky’s novel”.[1]

The news that you are being given a new kind of treatment by “a Bolshevik”, even if a former one, has really worried me. The saints preserve us from comrade-doctors in general, and Bolshevik-doctors in particular! Really and truly, in 99 cases out of 100 the comrade-doctors are “asses”, as a good doctor once said to me. I assure you that you should consult (except on minor complaints) only first-class men. It is terrible to try out on yourself the inventions of a Bolshevik! The only reassuring thing is the supervision of professors in Naples, if these professors really know their business.... You know, if you do go in winter, in any case call on some first-class doctors in Switzerland and in Vienna—there will be no excuse for not doing so! How do you feel now?

N. Lenin

P.S. Over here things are not at all bad; in St. Petersburg, the workers are organising on party lines in all the legal societies, including the sick benefit societies. There were some interesting and practical lads here, too.

My address: Wl. Ulianow. Ulica Lubomirskiego. 51. Kraków. Krakau (Galizien).



[1] An extract from V. Voitinsky’s novel The Waves, entitled “A Ray of Light in the Night”, was published in Prosveshcheniye No. 4, 1914. But Lenin’s letter of mid-November 1913 to A. M. Gorky (see p. 266 of this volume) shows that Gorky was against the publication of Voitinsky’s novel in Prosveshcheniye. That is why it is not quite clear whether the reference is to The Waves or to another of Voitinsky’s manuscripts.



Written in the middle of November 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, page 266.

Dear A. M.,

I have received the novel[1] and your letter. My opinion is that the novel should be shelved, since you are not in favour. I enclose a letter from Kamenev, who read the novel (I have not read it yet).

We shall write to St. Petersburg to have them hold it up.

I enclose my letter of yesterday[2]: don’t be angry that I lost my temper. Perhaps I did not understand you aright? Perhaps it was as a joke that you wrote “for a time”? Perhaps you weren’t serious about God-building, either?

I entreat you to get the best possible treatment.




[1] Voitinsky’s manuscript (see p. 265 of this volume).

[2] See present edition, Vol. 35, pp. 121–24.





Written on November 13 or 14, 1913
First published in Pravda No. 51, March 2, 1924. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 121-124.

Dear A. M.,

Whatever are you doing? This is simply terrible, it really is!

Yesterday I read your reply in Rech to the “howling” over Dostoyevsky,[1] and was preparing to rejoice, but today the liquidators’ paper arrives, and in it there is a paragraph of your article which was not in Rech.

This paragraph runs as follows:

“And ‘god-seeking’ should be for the time being” (only for the time being?) “put aside—it is a useless occupation: it’s no use seeking where there is nothing to be found. Unless you sow, you cannot reap. You have no God, you have not yet” (yet!) “created him. Gods are not sought—they are created; people do not invent life, they create it.”

So it turns out that you are against “god-seeking” only “for the time being”!! It turns out that you are against god-seeking only in order to replace it by god-building!!

Well, isn’t it horrible that such a thing should appear in your article?

God-seeking differs from god-building or god-creating or god-making, etc., no more than a yellow devil differs from a blue devil. To talk about god-seeking, not in order to declare against all devils and gods, against every ideological necrophily (all worship of a divinity is necrophily—be it the cleanest, most ideal, not sought-out but built-up divinity, it’s all the same), but to prefer a blue devil to a yellow one is a hundred times worse than not saying anything about it at all.

In the freest countries, in countries where it is quite out of place to appeal “to democracy, to the people, to public opinion and science”, in such countries (America, Switzerland and so forth) particular zeal is applied to render the people and the workers obtuse with just this very idea of a clean, spiritual, built-up god. Just because any religious idea, any idea of any god at all, any flirtation even with a god, is the most inexpressible foulness, particularly tolerantly (and often even favourably) accepted by the democratic bourgeoisie—for that very reason it is the most dangerous foulness, the most shameful “infection”. A million physical sins, dirty tricks, acts of violence and infections are much more easily discovered by the crowd, and therefore are much less dangerous, than the nubile, spiritual idea of god, dressed up in the most attractive “ideological” costumes. The Catholic priest corrupting young girls (about, whom I have just read by chance in a German newspaper) is much less dangerous, precisely to “democracy”, than a priest without his robes, a priest without crude religion, an ideologically equipped and democratic priest preaching the creation and the invention of a god. For it is easy to expose, condemn and expel the first priest, while the second cannot be expelled so simply; to expose the latter is 1,000 times more difficult, and not a single “frail and pitifully wavering” philistine will agree to “condemn” him.

And you, knowing the “frailty and pitiful wavering” of the (Russian: why Russian? Is the Italian any better??) philistine soul, confuse that soul with the sweetest of poisons, most effectively disguised in lollipops and all kinds of gaily-coloured wrappings!!

Really, it is terrible.

“Enough of self-humiliation, which is our substitute for self-criticism.”

And isn’t god-building the worst form of self– humiliation?? Everyone who sets about building up a God, or who even merely tolerates such activity, humiliates himself in the worst possible way, because instead of “deeds” he is actually engaged in self-contemplation, self-admiration and, moreover, such a man “contemplates” the dirtiest, most stupid, most slavish features or traits of his “ego”, deified by god-building.

From the point of view, not of the individual, but of society, all god-building is precisely the fond self– contemplation of the thick-wilted philistine, the frail man in the street, the dreamy “self-humiliation” of the vulgar petty bourgeois, “exhausted and in despair” (as yon condescended to say very truly about the soul: only yon should have said, not “the Russian”, but the petty-bourgeois, for the Jewish, the Italian, the English varieties are all one and the same devil; stinking philistinism everywhere is equally disgusting—but “democratic philistinism”, occupied in ideological necrophily, is particularly disgusting).

Reading your article over and over again, and trying to discover where this slip of your tongue could come from, I am at a loss. What does it mean? A relic of the “ Confession”, which you yourself did not approve?? Or its echo??

Or something different: for example, an unsuccessful attempt to bend back to the viewpoint of democracy in general, instead of the viewpoint of the proletariat? Perhaps it was in order to talk with “democracy in general” that you decided (excuse the expression) to indulge in baby-talk? Perhaps it was “for a popular exposition” to the philistines that you decided to accept for a moment their, the philistines’, prejudices??

But then that is a wrong approach, in all senses and in all respects!

I wrote above that in democratic countries it would be quite out of place for a proletarian writer to appeal “to democracy, to the people, to public opinion and science”. Well, but what about us in Russia?? Such an appeal is not quite appropriate, because it also in some ways flatters the prejudices of the philistines. A kind of general appeal, general to the point of vagueness—even Izgoyev of Russkaya Mysl[2] will sign it with both hands. Why then select watchwords which you distinguish perfectly well from those of Izgoyev, but which the reader will not be able to distinguish?? Why throw a democratic veil over the question for the reader, instead of clearly distinguishing the petty bourgeois (frail, pitifully wavering, exhausted, despairing, self-contemplating, god-contemplating, god-building, god-indulging, self-humiliating, uncomprehendingly-anarchistic— wonderful word!!—et cetera, et cetera)

—from the proletarians (who know how to be of good cheer not only in words, and who are able to distinguish the “science and public opinion” of the bourgeoisie from their own, bourgeois democracy from proletarian democracy)?

Why do you do this?

It’s damnably disappointing.

V. I.

P.S. We sent you the novel by registered book post. Did you receive it?

P.P.S. Get as good medical treatment as you can, please, so that you can travel in the winter, without colds (it’s dangerous in the winter).

V. Ulyanov



[1] Lenin’s letter was prompted by the appearance in Russkoye Slovo (Russian Word) No. 219, September 22, 1913, of an article by Gorky “On the Karamazov Attitude”, protesting against the Moscow Art Theatre’s staging of Dostoyevsky’s reactionary novel The Possessed. The bourgeois press came to the defence of the play and Gorky replied with another article “Once Again on the Karamazov Attitude”, which was published in No. 248 of Russkoye Slovo, October 27, 1913.

Large sections of the article, but without the concluding para graph, were reprinted on October 28 (November 40) in Rech No. 295. The next day Gorky’s article, including the final paragraph, which Lenin quotes in full in his letter, was reprinted in the liquidators’ Novaya Rabochaya Gazeta No. 69.

[2] Russkaya Mysl (Russian Thought)—literary-political magazine that was published in Moscow from 1880 to 1918. After the 1905 revolution it became the organ of the Right wing of the Constitutional-Democratic (Cadet) Party. Izgoyev, A.S., a bourgeois journalist, was one of the ideologists of this party.




Written in the second half of November 1913
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany I. Sent from Cracow to Capri.
Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1976], Moscow, Volume 35, pages 127-129.

...[1] On the question of god, the god-like and everything connected with it, there is a contradict ion in your position—the same, I think, which I used to point out in our talks when we last met in Capri. You broke (or appeared to break) with the Vperyod people, without having noticed the ideological basis of “Vperyodism”.

The same has happened now. You are “most vexed”, you “cannot understand how the words ‘for the time being’ crept in”—that is how you write—and yet at the same time you defend the idea of God and god-building.

“God is the complex of those ideas, worked out by the tribe, the nation, mankind, which awaken and organise social feelings, having as their object to link the individual, with society and to bridle zoological individualism.”

This theory is obviously connected with the theory or theories of Bogdanov and Lunacharsky.

And it is clearly wrong and clearly reactionary. Like the Christian socialists (the worst variety of “socialism”, and its worst distortion), yon make use of a method which (despite your best intentions) repeals the hocus-pocus of the priests: you eliminate from the idea of God everything about it that is historical and drawn from real life (tilth, prejudices, sanctified ignorance and degradation, on the one hand, serfdom and monarchy, on the other), and instead of the reality of history and life (here is substituted in the idea of God a gentle petty-bourgeois phrase (God=“ideas which awaken and organise social feelings”).

Your wish in so doing is to say something “good and kind”, to point out “truth and justice” and the like. But your good wish remains your personal affair, a subjective “ innocent desire”. Once you have written it down, it goes out among the masses, and its significance is determined not by your good wishes, but by the relationship of social forces, the objective relationship of classes. By virtue of that relationship it turns out (irrespective of your will and independently of your consciousness) that you have put a good colour and a sugary coating on the idea of the clericals, the Purishkeviches, Nicholas II and the Struves,[2] since in practice the idea of God helps them keep the people in slavery. By beautifying the idea of god, you have beautified the chains with which they fetter ignorant workers and peasants. There—the priests and Co. will say—what a good and profound idea this is (the idea of God), as even “your” leaders recognise, Messrs. democrats: and we (the priests and Co.) serve that idea.

it is untrue that god is the complex of ideas which awaken and organise social feelings. That is Bogdanov idealism, which suppresses the material origin of ideas. God is (in history and in real life) first of all the complex of ideas generated by the brutish subjection of man both by external nature and by the class yoke—ideas which consolidate that subjection, lull to sleep the class struggle. There was a time in history when, in spite of such an origin and such a real meaning of the idea of God, the struggle of democracy and of the proletariat went on in the form of a struggle of one religious idea against another.

But that time, too, is long past.

Nowadays both in Europe and in Russia any, even the most refined and best-intentioned defence or justification of the idea of God is a justification of reaction.

Your entire definition is reactionary and bourgeois, through and through. God==the complex of ideas which “awaken and organise social feelings, having as their object to link the individual with society and to bridle zoological individualism

Why is this reactionary? Because it falsely colours the idea of “bridling” zoology preached by priests and feudals. In reality, “zoological individualism” was bridled not by   the idea of God, it was bridled both by the primitive herd and the primitive community. The idea of God always put to sleep and blunted the “social feelings”, replacing the living by the dead, being always the idea of slavery (the worst, hopeless slavery). Never has the idea of God “linked the individual with society”: it has always tied the oppressed classes hand and foot with faith in the divinity of the oppressors.

Your definition is bourgeois (and not scientific, not historical) because it operates with sweeping, general, “Robinson Crusoe” conceptions in general, not with definite classes in a definite historical epoch.

The idea of God among the Zyrian savages, etc. (including semi-savages) is one thing. With Struve and Co. it is something quite different. In both cases class domination supports this idea (and this idea supports it). The “popular” conception of God and the divine is “popular” ignorance, degradation, darkness, just like the “popular conception” of the tsar, the devil and dragging wives by the hair. I completely fail to understand how you can call the “popular conception” of God “democratic”.

It is untrue that philosophical idealism “always has in view only the interests of the individual”. Did Descartes have the interests of the individual more in mind than Gassendi? Or Fichte and Hegel as compared with Feuerbach?

That “god-building is the process of the further development and accumulation of social elements in the individual and society” is simply terrible!! If there were freedom in Russia, the entire bourgeoisie would praise you to the skies for such things, for such sociology and theology of a purely bourgeois type and character.

Well, that’s enough for the time being: this letter is too long as it is. Once again, I shake your hand and wish you good health.


V. I.




[1] The beginning of the letter has never been found.—Ed.

[2] Purishkevich, V. M. (1870–1920)—big landowner, monarchist, leader of the Black Hundreds, notorious for his anti-Semitic speeches in the Duma.

Struve, P. B. (1870–1944)—bourgeois economist and publicist, a leader of the Constitutional-Democratic (Cadet) Party. In the nineties he was a prominent representative of “legal Marxism”. and tried to adapt Marxism and the working-class movement to the interests of the bourgeoisie.





Written on October 31, 1914
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Berne to Stockholm.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 170-172.

Poor Gorky! What a pity that he has disgraced himself by putting his signature under that rotten little paper of the Russian liberal gentry.[1] Both Meshkovsky and Plekhanov and others (including Maslov and Smirnov) have sunk to the same level.


[1] The proclamation “From Writers, Artists and Actors” was written in a spirit of bourgeois patriotism and justification of tsarist Russia’s participation in the war. It appeared over the signatures of several prominent figures in the world of letters and the arts, including Maxim Gorky.


1 9 1 5

Excerpt – concerning Gorky


Written on September 19, 1915
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Sörenberg to Stockholm.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 354-355.

September 19

Dear Alexander,

(...) It is clear that the reactionaries are either frightened by the bloc of the Left, or are banking on some “military” chances (perhaps a separate peace?). Our attitude to the chauvinist revolutionaries (like Kerensky and part of the Social-Democrat liquidators or patriots) cannot, in my opinion, be expressed by the formula of “ support”. The gulf between the chauvinist revolutionaries (revolution for victory over Germany) and the proletarian internationalist revolutionaries (revolution to awaken the proletariat of other countries, to unite it in a general proletarian revolution) is too wide for there to be any question of support. We must utilise every protest (even a timid and muddled one, à la Gorky), we shall utilise the revolutionary work of the chauvinists too, and depending on the circumstances shall not reject “joint action” (in keeping with our Party’s resolutions adopted in 1907, at the London Congress, and in 1913, at our conference),[1] but nothing beyond that. At the moment, in practice: we shall not issue joint appeals and manifestos with the revolutionary   patriots, we shall avoid Duma “blocs” with them, avoid “unity” with them when speaking at congresses, during demonstrations and the like. But technical mutual services, if the patriots go along, will probably be possible (as with the liberals before 1905), and we shall not reject them. Our relations must be straightforward and clear-cut: you want to overthrow tsarism for victory over Germany, we want to do so for the international revolution of the proletariat.

With all my best wishes,



[1] A reference to: = 1) a resolution on the attitude to non-proletarian parties adopted at the London Congress of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1907; = 2) a resolution on the Narodniks adopted by the August (Summer) 1913 Joint Conference of the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P. and Party officials (see KPSS v resolyutsiyakh..., Part One, 1954, pp. 164–65 and 316–17).





First published in 1925 in Lenin Miscellany III. Sent to Petrograd.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 212.
January 11, 1916

Dear Alexei Maximovich,

I am sending you at the Letopis address, not for Letopis but for the publishing house, the manuscript of a pamphlet and request you to publish it.[1]

I have tried in as popular a form as possible to set forth new data about America which, I am convinced, are particularly suitable for popularising Marxism and substantiating it by means of facts. I hope I have succeeded in setting out these important data clearly and comprehensibly for the new sections of the reading public which are multiplying in Russia and need an explanation of the world’s economic evolution.

I should like to continue, and subsequently also to publish, a second part—about Germany.

I am setting to work on a pamphlet about imperialism.[2]

Owing to war-time conditions I am in extreme need of earnings, and would therefore ask, if it is possible and will not embarrass you too much, to speed up publication of the pamphlet.

Yours with respect,
V. Ilyin

The address is Mr. Wl. Oulianoff, Seidenweg, 4-a, Berne, (Suisse).



[1] The Parus (Sail) Publishing House was organised under the auspices of the magazine Letopis (Chronicle). Parus was to publish Lenin’s New Data on the Laws Governing the Development of Capitalism in Agriculture. Part One. Capitalism and Agriculture in the United States of America (see present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 13–102).

[2] Reference is to Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (see present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 185–304).—Ed.



Excerpt of Lenin's letter – concerning Gorki



Written later than October 3, 1916
First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Zurich to Stockholm.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 232-236.

Bazarov has made a fool of himself in Letopis. Bogdanov is talking another kind of balderdash, but also balderdash in Letopis. An exceptionally suspicious bloc of the Machists and the O.C.–ists has come into being there. A shameful bloc! It’s hardly likely that we can break it up.... Should we perhaps try a bloc with the Machists against, the O.C.– ists? Hardly likely to succeed!! Gorky is always supremely spineless in politics, a prey to emotion and passing moods.


As regards myself personally, I will say that I need to earn. Otherwise we shall simply die of hunger, really and truly!! The cost of living is devilishly high, and there is nothing to live on. The cash must be dragged by force[1] out of the publisher of Letopis, to whom my two pamphlets[2] have been sent (let him pay at once and as much as possible!). The same with Bonch. The same as regards translations. If this is not organised I really will not be able to hold out, this is absolutely serious, absolutely, absolutely.



[1] About cash Belenin will have a talk with Katin, and with Gorky himself, of course if it is not inconvenient.—Lenin

[2] Reference is to New Data on the Laws Governing the Development of Capitalism in Agriculture and Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (see present edition, Vol. 22, pp. 13–102, 185–304).—Ed.



Excerpt from a latter of Lenin – concerning Gorki



Written on December 18, 1916
First published in 1949 in Bolshevik No. 1. Sent from Zurich to Clarens (Switzerland).
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 259-261.

My manuscript about imperialism has reached Petersburg, and now they write today that the publisher (and this is Gorky! oh the calf!) is dissatisfied with the sharp passages against ... who do you think? ... Kautsky! He wants to get in touch with me about it!!! Both laughable and disappointing.

There it is, my fate. One fighting campaign after another—against political stupidities, philistinism, opportunism and so forth.

It has been going on since 1893. And so has the hatred of the philistines on account of it. But still, I would not exchange this fate for “peace” with the philistines.




Excerpt – concerning Gorky


Written not later than March 27, 1917
First published in 1955 in the Journal Istorichesky Arkhiv No. 2.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 36, pages 422-424.


29. Peace? How (Gorky?)

30. —Our conditions of peace
(Thesis No. 11 in No. 47).[2]

31. A step (transition) to socialism.

32. Long live the Russian, long live the incipient worldwide proletarian revolution!



[1] Lenin read his lecture, “The Russian Revolution, Its Significance and Its Tasks”, in German at a meeting of Swiss workers at People’s House in Zurich on March 27, 1917.

The basic propositions outlined in the plan for a lecture were elaborated by Lenin in his famous Letters from Afar (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 295–342). A brief account of the lecture appeared in the Zurich newspaper Volksrecht Nos. 77 and 78 on March 31 and April 2, 1917 (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 355–61).

[2] For Thesis No. 11, see Lenin’s article “Several Theses”, which was published in Sotsial-Demokrat No. 47, October 13, 1915 (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 403–04).



This letter is missing in the English Edition




Für A. M. Gorki

Geschrieben vor dem 8. Februar 1919.

Lenin, Band 36, Seite 354

Sehr geehrter Alexej Maximowitsch!

Ich sende Ihnen eingeschrieben unter Kreuzband die Broschüre meiner Frau: „Volksbildung und Demokratie".

Das Buch N . K. Krupskajas „Volksbildung und "Demokratie" wurde nicht, wie vorgesehen, vom Verlag „Parus" (Das Segel) herausgebracht. Es erschien erst 1917 im Verlag „Shisn i Snanije" (Leben und Wissen).

Die Verfasserin beschäftigt sich schon lange mit Pädagogik, seit über zwanzig Jahren. Der Broschüre liegen sowohl persönliche Beobachtungen als auch Materialien über die moderne Schule in Europa und Amerika zugrunde. Aus dem Inhaltsverzeichnis ersehen Sie, daß der erste Teil auch einen Abriß der Geschichte der demokratischen Anschauungen enthält.

Das ist ebenfalls sehr wichtig, denn gewöhnlich werden die Anschauungen der großen Demokraten der Vergangenheit nicht richtig oder von einem falschen Standpunkt aus dargelegt. Ich weiß nicht, ob Sie selbst Zeit finden, die Broschüre zu lesen und ob Sie sich dafür interessieren.

Die Abschnitte 2 und 12 könnten als Einblick dienen. Die Veränderungen im Schulwesen der jüngsten, der imperialistischen Epoche sind an Hand von Materialien der letzten Jahre beschrieben und geben sehr interessante Aufschlüsse für die Demokratie in Rußland.

Ich wäre Ihnen sehr dankbar, wenn Sie - direkt oder indirekt – bei der Herausgabe dieser Broschüre behilflich sein würden. Die Nachfrage nach Literatur auf diesem Gebiet ist jetzt in Rußland sicher sehr gestiegen.

Beste Grüße und Wünsche.

W. Uljanow

Wl. Uljanow. Seidenweg 4-a. Bern.

Geschickt von Bern nach Petersburg.

Zuerst veröffentlicht 1925 im Lenin-Sammelband III.





First published in Pravda No. 75 and Izvestia No. 75, March 29, 1928. Sent from Moscow to Petrograd.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, page 409.
July 18, 1919

Dear A. M.,

Come here for a rest—I often go away for two days to the country, where I can put you up splendidly for either a short or a longer time. Do come!

Telegraph when; we shall arrange a compartment for you, so that you can travel in comfort. Really, you need a little change of air. I await your reply.




Excerpt – concerning Gorki



First published in 1931 in Lenin’s Letters to Relatives. Printed from the original.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 37, pages 543-544.
July 9, 1919

Nadya dearest,

(...) I sent a telegram to Kazan and, as I got no answer, sent another to Nizhny, and from there I today received a reply to the effect that the Krasnaya Zvezda is supposed to arrive in Kazan on July 8 and stay there for not less than 24 hours. In that telegram I asked whether it would be possible to give Gorky a cabin on Krasnaya Zvezda. He is arriving here tomorrow and I want very much to drag him out of Petrograd, where he has exhausted his nerves and gone sour. I hope you and the other comrades will be glad to have Gorky travelling with you. He is really a very nice chap, a bit capricious, but that is nothing.

V. Ulyanov


Excerpt – concerning Gorki



Written July 10, 1919
First published in 1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV. Printed from a typewritten copy.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 37, page 545.


We are all well. I saw Gorky today and tried to persuade him to travel on your steamer, about which I sent a telegram to Nizhny, but he flatly refused.





Excerpt – concerning Gorki



Written July 15, 1919
First published in the Fourth Edition of the Collected Works.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 37, page 546.

Nadezhda Konstantinovna Ulyanova,
Government vessel Krasnaya Zvezda

July 15

Nadya dearest,


I could not persuade Gorky to go, hard as I tried.

V. Ulyanov





First published in 1925 in Krasnaya Letopis No. 1. Sent to Petrograd.
Lenin Collected Works, Volume 35, pages 410-414.

July 31, 1919

Dear Alexei Maximych,

The more I read over your letter, and the more I think of the connection between its conclusions and what it sets forth (and what yon described at our meetings), the more I arrive at the conviction that the letter, and your conclusions, and all your impressions, are quite sick.

Petrograd has been one of the sickest places in recent times. This is quite understandable, since its population has suffered most of all, the workers have given up more of their best forces than anyone else, the food shortage is grave, and the military danger too. Obviously your nerves can’t stand it. That is not surprising. Yet you won’t listen when you are told that you ought to change your abode, because to let oneself flog I he nerves to a slate of sickness is very unwise, unwise even from the plain common-sense point of view, not to speak of other points of view.

Just as in your conversations, there is in your letter a sum of sick impressions, leading you to sick conclusions.

You begin with dysentery and cholera, and immediately a kind of sick resentment comes over you: “fraternity, equality”. Unconscious, but the result is something like communism being responsible for the privations, poverty and diseases of a besieged city!!

Then follow some bitter witticisms, which I don’t understand, against “hoarding” literature (which? why connected with Kalinin?). And the conclusion that a “wretched   remainder of the intelligent workers” say that they have been “betrayed” into “captivity to the muzhik”.

That, now, has no sense in it at all. Is it Kalinin who is being accused of betraying the workers to the muzhik? That is what it amounts to.

This might be invented by workers who are either quite green, stupid, with a “Left” phrase instead of a brain, or else by those who are overwrought, exhausted, hungry, sick, or else by the “remainder of the aristocracy” who have a splendid ability to distort everything, a splendid gift for picking on every trifle to vent their frenzied hatred of Soviet power. You yourself mention this remainder at the same point in your letter. Their state of mind is having an unhealthy influence on you.

You write that you see “people of the most varied sections of society”. It’s one thing to see them, another thing to feel daily contact with them, in all aspects of one’s life. What you mainly experience is from the “remainder”—if only by virtue of your profession, which obliges you to “receive” dozens of embittered bourgeois intellectuals, and also by virtue of your general circumstances.

As though the “remainder” cherish “something bordering on sympathy for Soviet power”, while “the majority of the workers” produce thieves, “Communists” who have jumped on the band-waggon, etc.! And you talk yourself into the “conclusion” that a revolution cannot be made with the help of thieves, cannot be made without the intelligentsia.

This is a completely sick psychology, acutely aggravated in the environment of embittered bourgeois intellectuals.

Everything is being done to draw the intelligentsia (the non-whiteguard intelligentsia) into the struggle against the thieves. And month by month the Soviet Republic acquires a growing percentage of bourgeois intellectuals who are sincerely helping the workers and peasants, not merely grumbling and spitting fury. This cannot be “seen” in Petrograd, because Petrograd is a city with an exceptionally huge number of bourgeois people (and “ intelligentsia”) who have lost their place in life (and their heads), but for all Russia this is an unquestionable fact.

In Petrograd, or from Petrograd, one can only become convinced of this if one is exceptionally well informed   politically and has a specially wide political experience. This you haven’t got. And you are engaged, not in politics and not in observing the work of political construction, but in a particular profession, which surrounds you with embittered bourgeois intellectuals, who have understood nothing, forgotten nothing, learned nothing and at best—a very rare best—have lost their bearings, are in despair, moaning, repeating old prejudices, have been frightened to death or are frightening themselves to death.

If you want to observe, you must observe from below, where it is possible to survey the work of building a new life, in a workers’ settlement in the provinces or in the countryside. There one does not have to make a political summing-up of extremely complex data, there one need only observe. Instead of this, you have put yourself in the position of a professional editor of translations, etc., a position in which it is impossible to observe the new building of a new life, a position in which all your strength is frittered away on the sick grumbling of a sick intelligentsia, on observing the “former” capital[1] in conditions of desperate military peril and fierce privations.

You have put yourself in a position in which you cannot directly observe the new features in the life of the workers and peasants, i.e., nine-tenths of the population of Russia; in which you are compelled to observe the fragments of life of a former capital, from where the flower of the workers has gone to the fronts and to the countryside, and where there remain a disproportionately large number of intellectuals without a place in life and without jobs, who specially “besiege” you. Counsels to go away you stubbornly reject.

Quite understandably, you have reduced yourself to a condition of sickness: you write that you find life not only hard, but also “extremely revolting”!!! I should say so! At such a time to chain oneself to the sickest of places as an editor of translated literature (the most suitable occupation for observing people, for an artist!). As an artist, you cannot see and study anything there that is new—in the army, in the countryside, in the factory. You have   deprived yourself of any opportunity of doing what would satisfy the artist: in Petrograd a politician can work, but you arc not a politician. Today it’s windows being broken for no reason at all, tomorrow it’s shots and screams from prison, then snatches of oratory by the most weary of the non-workers who have remained in Petrograd, then millions of impressions from the intelligentsia, the intelligentsia of a capital which is no longer a capital, then hundreds of complaints from those who have been wronged, inability to see any building of the new life in the time you have left after editing (the building goes on in a particular way, and least of all in Petrograd)—how could you fail to reduce yourself to a point when it is extremely revolting to go on living?

The country is living in a feverish struggle against the bourgeoisie of the whole world, which is taking a frenzied revenge for its overthrow. Naturally. For the first Soviet Republic, the first blows from everywhere. Naturally. Here one must live either as an active politician or (if one’s heart does not draw one to politics), as an artist, observe how people are building life anew somewhere that is not, as the capital is, the centre of furious attack, of a furious struggle against conspiracies, of the furious anger of the capital’s intelligentsia—somewhere in the countryside, or in a provincial factory (or at the front). There it is easy, merely by observing, to distinguish the decomposition of the old from the first shoots of the new.

Life has become revolting, the “divergence” from communism “is deepening”. Where the divergence lies, it is impossible to tell. Not a shadow of an indication of a divergence in politics or in ideas. There is a divergence of mood— between people who are engaged in politics or are absorbed in a struggle of the most furious kind, and the mood of a man who has artificially driven himself into a situation where he can’t observe the new life, while his impressions of the decay of a vast bourgeois capital are gelling the better of him.

I have expressed my thoughts to you frankly on the subject of your letter. From my conversations (with you) I have long been approaching the same ideas, but your letter gave shape and conclusion, it rounded off the sum   total of the impressions I have gained from these conversations. I don’t want to thrust my advice on you, but I cannot help saying: change your circumstances radically, your environment, your abode, your occupation—otherwise life may disgust you for good.

All the best.




[1] Petrograd. In March 1918 the capital was transferred to Moscow.—Ed.