Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky

Dear Iosif Vissarionovich:

The emigre and bourgeois press bases its perception of Soviet reality almost entirely on the negative information which is published by our own press for self-criticism with the aim of education and agitation. The products of the these "individual journalists" of the bourgeois press are not as numerous and harmful as they are made out to be, in contrast to our own release of self-revealing facts and conclusions.

By strongly emphasizing facts of a negative nature, we open ourselves up to our enemies, providing them an enormous amount of material, which they in turn very aptly use against us, compromising our party and our leadership in the eyes of Europe's proletariat, compromising the very principle of the dictatorship of the working class, because the proletariat of Europe and America feeds on the bourgeois newspapers for the most part--and for this reason it cannot grasp our country's cultural- revolutionary progress, our successes and achievements in industrialization, the enthusiasm of our working masses, and of their influence on the impoverished peasantry.

It stands to reason, I do not think we can positively influence the attitude which the bourgeoisie has already formed towards the Union of Soviets, and I do know that European conditions are zealously raising the revolutionary consciousness of the European proletariat.

I also know that the one-sidedness of our treatment of reality--created by us--exerts an extremely unhealthy influence on our young people.

In their letters, and in their conversations with me, it seems that today's youth displays an extremely pessimistic mood. This mood is very natural. Direct knowledge of reality of our youth from the central areas, especially our provinces is limited, insignificant. To acquaint themselves with what is going on they turn to the newspapers.

It is furthermore imperative to put the propaganda of atheism on solid ground. You won't achieve much with the weapons of Marx and materialism, as we have seen. Materialism and religion are two different planes and they don't coincide. If a fool speaks from the heavens and the sage from a factory--they won't understand one another. The sage needs to hit the fool with his stick, with his weapon.

For this reason, there should be courses set up at the Communist Academy which would not only treat the history of religion, and mainly the history of the Christian church, i.e., the study of church history as politics.

We need to know the "fathers of the church," the apologists of Christianity, especially indispensable to the study of the history of Catholicism, the most powerful and intellectual church organization whose political significance is quite clear. We need to know the history of church schisms, heresies, the Inquisition, the "religious" wars, etc. Every quotation by a believer is easily countered with dozens of theological quotations which contradict it.

We cannot do without an edition of the "Bible" with critical commentaries from the Tubingen school and books on criticism of biblical texts, which could bring a very useful "confusion into the minds" of believers.

There is a fine role to be played here by a popular book on the Taborites and the Husite movements. It would be useful to introduce here "The history of the peasant wars in Germany," the old book by Zimmerman. Carefully edited, it would be very useful for the minds.

It is necessary to produce a book on the church's struggle against science.

Our youth is very poorly informed on questions of this nature. The "tendency" toward a religious disposition is very noticeable--a natural result of developing individualism. At this time, as always, the young are in a hurry to find "the definitive answer."