V. I.   Lenin



Written: Written in July, prior to 13th, 1914
Published: Published in full in 1964 in Collected Works, Fifth (Russian) Ed., Vol. 48. First published in part in 1959 in Voprosy Istorii KPSS No. 5. Sent from Poronin to Lovran. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, [1977], Moscow, Volume 43, pages 417b-420a.
Translated: Martin Parker and Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Dear Friend,

I am extremely grateful to you. for giving your agreement. I am positive you will carry off your important role with flying colours and give a fitting answer to Plekhanov, Rosa Luxemburg and Kautsky and Rubanovich (the insolent fellow!) who are going to Brussels in the hope of staging a demonstration against us generally and against my self in particular.

You are sufficiently familiar with the business, you speak well, and I am sure you will now have enough “cheek”. Please don’t take my desire to give you occasional advice in “a bad sense”. It is meant to make your difficult task easier. Plekhanov likes to “disconcert” comrades of the “female sex” with “sudden” gallantries (in French, and so on). You must be prepared to meet this with quick repartees—I am delighted, Comrade Plekhanov, you are quite an old spark (or a gallant cavalier)—or something like that to politely take him down a peg. You should know that everybody will be very angry (I’m very glad!) at my not   being present, and will probably want to take it out on you. But I am sure you will show them your “nails” in the best possible way. I am tickled in advance at the thought of the cold, calm and somewhat scornful snub they will be publicly inviting.

Plekhanov likes to heckle and bully his victim. My advice is—cut him short immediately, saying: you have a right, as has every member of this conference, to ask questions, but I am not answering you personally, I am answering the whole conference, so will you please not interrupt me—and by this means promptly turn his heckling into an attack upon him. You should be on the offensive all the time. Or, say: I shall take the floor when my turn comes, in lieu of an answer and for an answer (I prefer it that way), and you will be quite satisfied. In my experience this is the best way to deal with insolent fellows. They are cowards and will sing small at once.

They don’t like it when we quote resolutions. But that is the best answer: I have come here chiefly to convey the officially documented decisions of our workers’ party. For those who are interested in these decisions I shall tell about one of them.

Especially nota bene and look through beforehand:

1) The resolution of the 1912 January Conference on the constitution of the Conference.[1] This is on the question of the validity of the January Conference of 1912 (Rosa Luxemburg will probably raise the question of validity and so will others). (By the way, I am glad that ... the Germans will hardly understand you, if they understand at all—sit closer to the Executive Committee and speak for them. At the same time you yourself have a full right to ask Huysmans after every German speech—the translation, please!)

2) The resolutions of 1912 and 1913 on flexible forms[2] (for Kautsky: this fool cannot grasp the difference between recognition of the underground and the search for new forms of screening this underground and organising it).

3) The resolutions of II.1913 on unity from below[3] (“You exclude 670 groups of workers??” Nonsense! We invite them. “The majority has no right to exclude the minority.” Except in cases when the minority flouts the will of the majority and does not bow to formal decisions. This is our case).


I advise you not to forget the official definition of the aim of the conference (take the French text of the resolution of the I.S.B. of XII.1913 from Popov or Huysmans), which is:

To exchange opinions
on moot points!!

Just that! To exchange opinions—that is what you are doing.

Another important subject for popular elucidation (you have to be extremely popular with the French) is that of the illegal organisation, of the complete trust, secrecy, etc., which it calls for. It is all very well for you Europeans: you have an open, legal party, you have lists of party members, you have open control and verification!! Everything’s easy then!!

With us, however, an accurate and open recording of party membership in the illegal organisation is impossible, as is also open control. Therefore, the maximum trust is needed in order to maintain discipline and good teamwork, whereas the liquidators, in rejecting the idea of an under ground, are destroying the very possibility of joint work.

The opinion that it is impossible today in Russia to determine the strength of the trends, to say whose lead the majority follows, is erroneous, however.

Thanks to the newspaper, to the contributions from the workers’ groups, etc., this can be determined quite reliably and unmistakably.

(I sent Popov a number of statistical tables and documents to have the headings translated and submitted to the Bureau.)

In Grigory’s opinion we should not walk out because of a refusal to take minutes and publish them; but a writ ten statement should be submitted. The Executive Committee is an intermediary. This should be kept firmly in mind (this is stated in the official resolution of the Inter national Socialist Bureau of XII. 1913). Not an arbiter but an intermediary. In case of anything, this is what you should declare: we thank you for your mediation, we accepted it willingly, and quote the resolution of the I.S.B. (of XII.1913). The word is “mediation”, but we ask of the mediator that he pass on to the opponent: 1) our conditions, and 2) objective information. And that is all!!

N.B. We are an autonomous party. Keep this firmly in mind. No one has a right to impose anybody’s will upon us, and the International Socialist Bureau has no right either. If there are threats, this is a mere phrase.

Tomorrow I shall send the end of the report. You will have your work cut out for you now, a lot of work to do and little time to do it in! Thanking you in advance.

Sincerely yours,
V. I.


[1] See present edition, Vol. 17, pp. 453–54.—Ed.

[2] Ibid., pp. 472–73 and Vol. 18, pp. 458–59.—Ed.

[3] Ibid., Vol. 18, pp. 463–65.—Ed.

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