Written: Written on August 11 (24), 1902
Published: First Published in 1922 in P. N. Lepshinsky’s book At the Turning-Point. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 6, pages 208-210.
Translated: ??? ???
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.
Other Formats: Text • README
We have received your letter expressing your gratitude to the author of What Is to Be Done? and informing us of the decision to allocate 20 per cent[I.e., of the Moscow Party Committee’s fund.—Ed. ] to Iskra. I thank you heartily for this expression of sympathy and solidarity. It is all the more valuable for an author of illegal publications because of the fact that in his work he is completely cut off from his readers. Each exchange of ideas, each report of the impression any article or pamphlet produces on the various groups of readers is of particular importance to us, and we shall be very grateful, not only for letters dealing with the work in the strict sense of the word, not only for contributions to the press, but also for Letters which make the author feel that he is not cut off from the reader.
We published your decision to credit 20 per cent to Iskra in No. 22 of Iskra. However, we did not venture to publish your thanks to Lenin, since for one thing you mentioned that separately, without saying that you would like to see it in print. And for another, the wording of your message of thanks did not seem suitable for the press. But please do not think we attach no importance to publication of the committees’ declarations on their solidarity with certain views. On the contrary, this is of special importance, particularly now when all of us are thinking of the unification of revolutionary Social-Democracy. It would be highly desirable for the Moscow Committee to express its solidarity with my book in the form of a statement, which would immediately appear in Iskra. It is high time that the committees came out with an open announcement of their Party stand, breaking with those tactics of tacit agreement which prevailed in the “third period.” This is the general argument in favour of an open declaration. In particular, I, for example, have been accused in the press (by the Borba group, in its Listok[Literally, a one-sheet newspaper.—Ed.]) of wanting to turn the Editorial Board of Iskra into the Russian Central Committee, of wanting to “order” “agents” about, etc. This is downright distortion of what is said in What Is to Be Done?, but I have no desire to keep on reiterating in the press: “you are distorting.” Those who should begin to speak up are, I think, the functionaries in Russia, who know very well that the “orders” of Iskra go no further than advice and an expression of opinion, and who see that the organisational ideas propounded in What Is to Be Done? reflect the vitally urgent and burning question of the actual movement. I think that these functionaries should themselves demand to be heard and loudly declare how they regard this question, how their experience in work leads them to agree with our views on the organisational tasks.
We understand, and naturally could understand, your expression of gratitude for What Is to Be Done? only in the sense that this book has provided you with answers to your own questions, that through first-hand acquaintance with the movement you have yourselves arrived at the conviction that bolder, more widespread, more unified, and more centralised work is needed, more closely consolidated about a single, central newspaper—a conviction which is also set forth in this book. And this being so, once you have really become convinced of this, it is desirable that the commit tee should say so openly and emphatically, urging the other committees to work together with it in the same direction, following the same “line,” setting itself the same immediate tasks with regard to Party organisation.
We hope, comrades, that you will find it possible to read this letter to a general meeting of the whole commit tee, and will inform us of your decision on the questions indicated. (In parenthesis, let me add that the St. Petersburg Committee has also sent us an expression of solidarity, and is now considering a similar statement.)
Did you have enough copies of What Is to Be Done?? Have the workers read it, and what is their reaction?
I warmly shake the hands of all the comrades, and wish them full success.