A Fly in the Ointment

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V. I. Lenin


Written after September 10, 1922
First published in 1928

Published according to the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966 Vol. 33, pp. 368-69.

Translated from the Russian
Edited by David Skvirsky
and George Hanna

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@marx2mao.org (July 2000)


    Citizen O. A. Yermansky has written a very good, useful book: The Taylor System and the Scientific Organisation of Labour (Gosizdat, 1922). It is a revised edition of his book, The Taylor System, which first appeared in 1918. The book has been substantially enlarged; very important supplements have been added: I. "Productive Labour and Culture"; II. "The Problem of Fatigue". One of the most important sections, earlier entitled "Labour and Leisure", only 16 pages long, has now been enlarged to 70 pages (Chapter III: "Human Labour").

    The book gives a detailed exposition of the Taylor system and, this is especially important, both its positive and negative aspects, and also the principal scientific data on the physiological intake and output in the human machine. On the whole the book is quite suitable, I think, as a standard textbook for all trade union schools and for all secondary schools in general. To learn how to work is now the main, the truly national task of the Soviet Republic. Our primary and most important task is to attain universal literacy, but we should in no circumstances limit ourselves to this target. We must at all costs go beyond it and adopt everything that is truly valuable in European and American science.

    Citizen Yermansky's book has one serious flaw which may make it unacceptable as a textbook. It is the author's verbosity. He repeats the same thing again and again without any conceivable need. I suppose the author may be vindicated to some extent by the fact that he was not trying to write a textbook. However, he says on p. VIII that he regards the popular exposition of scientific questions as one of the merits of his book. He is right. But popular exposition should also shun repetition. The people have no time to waste on bulky volumes. Without good reason, Citizen Yermansky's book is much too bulky. That is what prevents it from being a popular book. . . .*

    * Here the manuscript breaks off. --Ed.