V. I.   Lenin

The Journal Svoboda[1]

Written: Written in the autumn of 1901
Published: First published in the magazine Bolshevik, No. 2, 1936. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961, Moscow, Volume 5, pages 311-312.
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Svoboda is a worthless little rag. Its author—indeed, this is precisely the impression it creates, that one person has written it all, from beginning to end—claims to write popularly “for the workers”. But what we have here is not popularisation, but talking down in the worst sense of the term. There is not one simple word, everything is twisted.... The author cannot write a single phrase without embellishments, without “popular” similes and “popular” catchwords such as “theirn”. Outworn socialist ideas are chewed over in this ugly language without any new data, any new examples, any new analysis, and the whole thing is deliberately vulgarised. Popularisation, we should like to inform the author, is a long way from vulgarisation, from talking down. The popular writer leads his reader towards profound thoughts, towards profound study, proceeding from simple and generally known facts; with the aid of simple arguments or striking examples he shows the main conclusions to be drawn from those facts and arouses in the mind of the thinking reader ever newer questions. The popular writer does not .presuppose a reader that does not think, that can not or does not wish to think; on the contrary, he assumes in the undeveloped reader a serious intention to use his head and aids him in his serious and difficult work, leads him, helps him over his first steps, and teaches him to go forward independently. The vulgar writer assumes that his reader does not think and is incapable of thinking; he does   not lead him in his first steps towards serious knowledge, hut in a distortedly simplified form, interlarded with jokes and facetiousness, hands out “ready-made” all the conclusions of a known theory, so that the reader does not even have to chew but merely to swallow what he is given.


[1] Svoboda (Freedom)—a journal published in Switzerland in 1901-02 by the Svoboda group that was formed in May 1901 and that referred to itself as “a revolutionary socialist group”. Two issues appeared—No. 1 in 1901 and No. 2 in 1902. The Svoboda group also issued The Eve of the Revolution: A Non-Periodical Review of Questions of Theory and of Tactics, No. 1; the publication 0tkliki (Responses), No, 1; the pamphlet The Renaissance of Revolutionism in Russia, by L. Nadezhdin and others.

The Svoboda group was devoid of “serious, lasting ideas, of programme, tactics, organisation, or roots in the masses” (see present edition, Vol. 20, “On Adventurism”). Its publications advocated the ideas of, “Economism” and of terrorism and supported the anti-Iskra groups in Russia. The Svoboda group ceased to exist in 1903.

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