Democratic Tasks of Revolutionary Proletariat

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V. I. Lenin


First published in 1959
in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI

Printed from the original

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1970

Vol. 45, pp. 99-100.

Translated from the Russian
by Yuri Sdobnikov

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (August 2000)


17. III.1921  

<"p99"> Dear Comrade Joffe:

    I was highly distressed to read your deeply perturbed letter of 15/III.[84] I see that you have the most legitimate grounds for dissatisfaction and even indignation, but I assure you that you are wrong in seeking the causes of it.

    First, you are wrong in saying (repeatedly) that "I am the C.C.". This could have been written only in a state<"p99a"> of great nervous irritation and overwork. The old C.C. (1919-1920) defeated me on one of the vastly important questions, as you must know from the discussion.[85] I cannot say how many times I have been in a minority on organisational and personal matters. You must have seen this for yourself on many occasions as a member of the C.C.

    You should not allow yourself to be so nervous as to write such an absolutely impossible, absolutely impossible thing that I am the C.C. This is overwork.

    Second, I do not feel the slightest dissatisfaction with you or mistrust of you in any way. Nor do the members of the C.C., as far as I know them, have spoken to them and seen their attitude towards you.

page 100

    What then is the explanation of the matter? It is that you have been tossed about by fate. I have seen this happen to many workers. Take Stalin, as an example. You must know that he would have stood up for himself, in any case. But "fate" did not allow him, a single time in three and a half years, to be either People's Commissar for the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, or People's Commissar for Nationalities. That is a fact.

    You, like rather many other leading workers, have been tossed about by fate. You are one of our first and best diplomatists. Our diplomacy has been working on and off. In the intervals, you have been "tried out" (W.P.I.), without giving you time to finish things. It is the fault (the misfortune?) of the whole C.C., which has tossed about many people in this way. If you give this some cool thought, you will see that this is true.

    Failure to be elected to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee? Ask anyone, Trotsky, for instance, how often the C.C. has hesitated in its views of the principle and its decisions on this! This has happened many times! We were forced to make maximum renewals for considerations of "democracy". <"p100">

    (The new C.C. was constituted only yesterday and will take some time to "gear up".[86])

    My personal opinion, which is quite frank, is: (1) you must have a good rest. It is harmful to fray oneself. We are badly in need of experienced, veteran, tested workers. Have a good rest. Perhaps, you will decide that it is better to go to a sanatorium, abroad. It is bad over here. Your health must be completely restored. (2) You have been and remain one of our leading and best diplomatists and politicians. Take Turkey? Turkestan? Can we do without you? Rumania? I'm afraid we cannot. I think we cannot.

    Have a rest. Then come to Moscow, we shall have a talk.

With best wishes,            
Lenin    <"NOTES">


  <"en84">[84] In a letter to Lenin on March 15, 1921, A. A. Joffe, who was then in Riga as chairman of the Soviet peace delegation negotiating with Poland, expressed dissatisfaction over the fact that despite his extensive experience in political and especially diplomatic work, the Party's C.C. kept transferring him from one job to another.    [p. 99]

  <"en85">[85] A probable reference to the Plenary Meeting of the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee on December 7, 1920, which discussed the conflict between the water transport union and Tsektran (Central Committee of the Joint Trade Union of Rail and Water Transport Workers). During the discussion of this question, Lenin and his supporters were left in a minority, and the resolution proposed by N. I. Bukharin was carried with L. D. Trotsky's support. Lenin analysed this episode in his article "The Party Crisis" (see present edition, Vol. 32, p. 45).    [p. 99]

  <"en86">[86] A reference to the Party Central Committee elected at the 13th sitting of the Tenth Party Congress on March 14, 1921. On March 16, atfer the Congress had closed, a plenum of the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee met to elect the governing organs of the C.C.    [p. 100]