To Maxim Gorky

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V. I. Lenin



[March 24, 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. 388-90.

Translated from the Russian
by Clemens Dutt
Edited by Bernard Isaacs

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

page 385



To A. M., private

March 24, 1908 

Dear A. M.,

    I have received your letter concerning my fight with the Machists. I quite understand and respect your feelings and I ought to say that I get something similar from my St. Petersburg friends, but I am very deeply convinced that you are mistaken.

    You must understand -- and you will, of course -- that once a Party man has become convinced that a certain doctrine is grossly fallacious and harmful, he is obliged to come out against it. I would not be kicking up a row if I were not absolutely convinced (and I am becoming more and more convinced of this every day as I study the original sources of wisdom of Bazarov, Bogdanov and Co.) that their book is ridiculous, harmful, philistine, fideist -- the whole of it, from beginning to end, from branch to root, to Mach and Avenarius. Plekhanov, at bottom, is entirely right in being against them, only he is unable or unwilling or too lazy to say so concretely, in detail, simply, without unnecessarily frightening his readers with philosophical nuances. And at all costs I shall say it in my own way.

    What kind of "reconciliation" can there be here, dear A. M.? Why, it is ludicrous even to mention it. A fight is absolutely inevitable. And Party people should devote their efforts not to slurring it over, putting it off or dodging it, but to ensuring that essential Party work does not suffer in practice. That is what you should be concerned about, and nine-tenths of the Bolsheviks in Russia will help you in this and heartily thank you for it.

page 389

    How is this to be done? By "neutrality"? No. There cannot and will not be any neutrality on such an issue. If it is possible to speak of neutrality, it can only be in a relative sense: we must separate all this fight from the faction. So far, you have been writing "from the outside", keeping away from the factional publications; go on writing in this way. Only so will the faction not be committed, not be involved, not be compelled tomorrow or the day after to decide, to vote, i.e., to turn the fight into a chronic, protracted, hopeless affair.<"p389">

    That is why I am against allowing any kind of philosophy in the journal.[375] I know I am being abused for this: he wants to stop other people's mouths, while he has not yet opened his own! But just think it over coolly.

    A journal with philosophy. No. 1 -- three articles of Bazarov, Bogdanov and Lunacharsky against Plekhanov. One article of mine saying that Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism = Berdayevism and reactionary clericalism.

    No. 2 -- three times three keyed up articles of Bogdanov, Bazarov and Lunacharsky against Plekhanov and Lenin. One article of mine, proving from another angle that Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism = reactionary clericalism.

    No. 3 -- howling and cursing.

    I could write six or a dozen articles against Studies in the Philosophy of Marxism, one article against each author and each aspect of his views. Can this drag on in this way? How long? Will this not make a split inevitable through endless exacerbation and embitterment? Will this not bind the faction to make a decision: decide, analyse, and end the "discussion" by a vote. . . .

    Think this over carefully, if you fear a split. Will the practical workers undertake to distribute books with such a "fight"? Isn't another way better: go on writing as before, outside the factional publications. Do your scrapping on the side, for the time being the faction can wait. If there is a chance of weakening the inevitable animosity, it can only be in this way, I think.

    You write: the Mensheviks will gain from a fight. You are mistaken, deeply mistaken, A. M.! They will gain if the Bolshevik faction does not dissociate itself from the philosophy of the three Bolsheviks. In that case, they will

page 390

definitely win. But if the philosophical fight goes on outside the faction, the Mensheviks will be definitely reduced to a political line and that will be the death of them."

    I say: separate the fight from the faction. Of course, such a separation, on living persons, is rather difficult and painful. It needs time. It needs solicitous comrades. Here the practical workers will help, here you should help, here it is a question of "psychology", and you know best. I think you could help a lot here -- provided that, on reading my book against the Studies,[*] you don't become as furious against me as I became against them.

    As regards the journal, think it over carefully and answer me soon. I am a little doubtful whether it is worth while for us to make the journey to you together at present. Why jangle nerves unnecessarily? Why draw out the torture . . . there is no avoiding a fight. Would it not be better to settle this business of the journal simply, without long negotiations and ceremonial and futile meetings. I am merely putting questions to you in order to consult you.

    Best regards to M. F. I shall most certainly come to Capri and try to bring my wife along, only I should like to do this independently of the philosophical fight.

All the very best.          

    P.S. I enclose important information about a spy among you.



    * The reference is to Materialism and Empirio-criticism which Lenin was engaged on at the time (see present edition, Vol. 14). --Ed.

page 505



  <"en375">[375] A journal which was to have been published by Gorky. The plan for its publication did not materialise.    [p. 389]