V. I. Lenin



[February 13, 1908]

Sent from Geneva to the Isle
of Capri (Italy)
First published in 1924

Printed from the original

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966

Vol. 34, pp. 385-86.

Translated from the Russian
by Clemens Dutt
Edited by Bernard Isaacs

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (October 2001)

    page 385



    February 13, 1908 

    Dear Al. M.,

        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"ča 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.

    page 386

        In my opinion, this is mere posturising. At the London Congress,[371] 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 [372] 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"[373] 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 emphatically 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.     


page 504


  [371] 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.    [p. 386]

page 505

  [372] Golos Sotsial-Demokrata (Voice of a Social-Democrat ) -- a newspaper, the organ of the Mensheviks, published from February 1908 to December 1911, first in Geneva, then 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.    [p. 386]

  [373] 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.    [p. 386]