Stalin ‐ to the members of the Politburo ‐ August 5, 1934

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Stalin ‐ to the members of the Politburo ‐ August 5, 1934

Below is the transcript Stalin mentions on his Letter to Kaganovich

Stalin to Kaganovich

5 August

F. 81, op. 3, d. 100, ll. 43–46.

Comrade Kaganovich:

I am sending you my criticisms regarding the conduct of the editors of Bolshevik related to their commentaries (“From the Editors”) on the letter from Engels to Ioan Nedejde. I don’t think the commentaries by the Bolshevik editors are an accident.

It seems to me that they are the handiwork of Comrade Zinoviev. If the editors point out that they did not receive my previous criticisms, approved by the CC, regarding Engels’ article “On the Foreign Policy of Tsarism,” that will be a formalistic evasion of the issue, because they certainly were aware of those criticisms through Comrade Adoratsky.1 I think this is a serious matter. We cannot leave Bolshevik in the hands of such blockheads, whom Comrade Zinoviev can always dupe. The guilty individuals must be identified and removed from the staff.

The best thing is to oust Comrade Zinoviev.2


P.S. Send out my enclosed letter to members of the Politburo and others.

I. Stalin.

5 August 1934.

P.P.S. My criticisms of Engels’ article should be shown to Knorin and

Stetsky, even though they are familiar with them.

I. St.

1.  On 22 July 1934 the Politburo decided that it was inadvisable to publish Engels’ article in Bolshevik. This decision was preceded by a letter from Stalin to Politburo members and Adoratsky, dated 19 July, which gave a critical assessment of the article (see Appendix: document


2.  See note 2 to document 90.


Stalin ‐ to the members of the Politburo, Adoratsky, Knorin, Stetsky, Zinoviev, Pospelov on August 5, 1934

source:         Stalin     and     Kaganovich.     Correspondence.     1931‐1936     Moscow:

  (ROSSPEN),    2001   p.  716‐717

Archive: RGASPI. F. 17. Op. 3.D. 950. L. 87–89. Script. Typescript. Members of the Politburo, com. Adoratsky, Knorin, Stetsky, Zinoviev, Pospelov.

In issue 13‐14 of ʺBolshevikʺ there is a note ʺFrom the Editorʺ (pages 8690), which comments on the letter of F. Engels to John Nadezhda in January 1888 and where Engelsʹs views on the coming war are clearly falsified.

Using Engelsʹ letter to the Romanian Ioan Nadezhda (1888), incorrectly and trickily, the Bolshevik editorial staff asserts in their note that:

a)  Engels ʺstands entirely on the defeatist positionʺ, on the position of defeat ʺand his bourgeois fatherlandʺ;

b)  ʺLenin defended a similar position in the war of 1914ʺ;

c)   Lenin, therefore, did not give anything essentially new in determining the nature of the war and the policy of the Marxists in connection with the war.

In this way:

1.                   The editorial staff of ʺBolshevikʺ concealed from readers that Engels did not understand the imperialist nature of the coming war, which is evident both from Engelsʹs letter to John Nadezhda (1888) and from his article ʺForeign policy of Russian tsarismʺ (1890). as well as from his famous letters to Bebel (1891). It is enough to compare with these works of Engels the tables of Lenin, printed in the same issue of the Bolshevik, ʺThe Experience of the Summary of the Main Data of World History After 1870,ʺ where Lenin notes the imperialist struggle of powers (including Germany) for colonies and spheres of influence , even at the beginning 80s of the last century, as the cause of the war, in order to understand the whole difference in the views of Lenin and Engels on the nature of the war.

2.                   The editorial staff of ʺBolshevikʺ concealed from readers that Engels, 2‐3 years after the letter to John Nadezhda, when the Franco‐Russian alliance began to take shape in opposition to the alliance of Germany, Austria and Italy, changed his attitude to the war and began to speak not for defeat, but for the victory of Germany (see especially Engelsʹs letters to Bebel from 1891), and Engels retained this attitude, as is known, until the end of his life.

3.                   The editorial staff of ʺBolshevikʺ concealed from readers that between Engelsʹ passive defeatism (ʺwish that they all be defeatedʺ), which he later rejected in favor of defencism , and Leninʹs active defeatism (ʺthe transformation of the imperialist war into civil war ʺ) ‐ there is no way to draw an equal sign.

4.                   The editorial board of Bolshevik concealed from the readers the undoubted fact that Lenin and Lenin alone gave a fundamentally new and the only correct directive, both in the question of the nature of the war and in the question of the policy of the Marxists in connection with the war.

This is the case with the tricks of the Bolshevik editorial board.

That Engels was and remains our teacher, only idiots can doubt this. But it does not at all follow from this that we must gloss over Engelsʹs mistakes, that we must conceal them, and even more so, pass them off as indisputable truths. Such a policy would be a policy of lies and deceit. Nothing is so contrary to the spirit of Marxism and the precepts of Marx‐Engels as such a policy unworthy of Marxists. Marx and Engels themselves said that Marxism is not a dogma, but a guide to action. This explains the fact that Marx and Engels themselves repeatedly changed and supplemented certain provisions of their works. This means that Marx and Engels considered the main thing in their teaching not the letter, not individual provisions, but the spirit of this teaching, its method. It cannot be otherwise, since with a different attitude, further developmentMarxism would be unthinkable, for Marxism would turn into a mummy. It could not be otherwise, because otherwise Lenin would not have been the person who not only restored Marxism, but also developed it further. And if Lenin developed Marxism further, then is it not clear that we should not be afraid to write down as an asset to Lenin what is new about the war that belongs to him by right and what is given to them as new in the interests of the further development of Marxism?

There can be no doubt that only disrespect for Marxism and its founders could dictate to the editorial board of Bolshevik the policy of obscuring and hiding facts, a policy of belittling Leninʹs role in developing a new Marxist attitude on the nature of the war and the policy of Marxists in connection with the war.

I think that in their article the Bolshevik editors tacitly proceed from one Trotskyist‐Menshevik attitude, by virtue of which Engels supposedly said everything that needed to be said about the war, its character and the policy of the Marxists in connection with the war, which all that remains is to restore what Engels said and apply it to practice that Lenin allegedly did exactly that, taking a ʺsimilar position in the 1914 war,ʺ that whoever does not agree with this revises Marxism, he is not a real Marxist.

As you know, the Trotskyist‐Menshevik gentlemen proceeded from the same attitude when they denied the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country, referring to the fact that Engels in his Principles of Communism (1846) denied the possibility that Engels had already said everything what had to be said, and whoever continues to insist on the possibility of the victory of socialism in one country is revising Marxism.

It is hardly necessary to prove that such an attitude is thoroughly rotten and anti‐Marxist, for it condemns Marxism, its method to stagnation, to vegetation, sacrificing it to the letter.

I think that this incorrect attitude is the root of the mistake made by the Bolshevik editors.

It seems to me that the Bolshevik magazine is falling (or has already fallen into) unreliable hands. The very fact that the editorial board tried to place Engelsʹ article ʺOn the Foreign Policy of Russian Tsarismʺ in the Bolshevik as a guiding article — this fact alone speaks not in favor of the editorial board. The Central Committee of the CPSU (b), as is known, promptly intervened in the matter and stopped such an attempt. But this circumstance, obviously, did not go to the editorial office for future use. On the contrary: the editorial board, as if in defiance of the Central Committeeʹs instructions, published a note after the Central Committeeʹs warning, which could not be qualified otherwise than an attempt to mislead readers about the Central Committeeʹs real position. But the ʺBolshevikʺ is the organ of the

Central Committee.

I think the time has come to put an end to this situation.

I. Stalin.

5.VIII.34 g.


Transcripts from the Soviet Archives, Svitalan M, Erdgan A