Letter to Alexander Bogdanov, January 10, 1905
|Written||10 January 1905|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 8, pages 43-46.
January 10, 1905
My dear friend,
At last we have launched Vperyod, and I would like to discuss it with you in greater detail. Issue No. 2 will appear the day after tomorrow. We intend to bring it out weekly. We have sufficient literary forces for the task. We are all in excellent spirits and at the top of our working form (with the slight exception of Vasily Vasilyevich, who has a touch of the blues). We are sure that things will go well, so long as we don’t go bankrupt. We need 400 francs (150 rubles) per issue, but we have only 1,200 francs all in all. We shall need the deuce of a lot of help for the first few months; for, unless we can make it a regular publication, the entire position of the Majority will be dealt a terrific, well-nigh irreparable blow. Do not forget this and get whatever you can (e s p e c i a l l y f r o m G o r k y).
Next. It is particularly important now to let Rakhmetov know that he should push on as hard as he can with the arrangements for literary contributions from Russia. The success of a weekly depends largely upon the energetic collaboration of Russian writers and Social-Democrats. Write to Rakhmetov that he should mobilise both Finn and Kollontai for the purpose (we badly need articles o n F i n l a n d), as well as Rumyantsev and Andrei Sokolov, the latter especially and particularly. I know by long experience that the people in Russia are devilishly, unpardonably, and incredibly slow at this sort of thing. It is therefore necessary to act, first of all, by personal example; secondly, not to rely on promises, but to see that you get the things written. Let Rakhmetov be sure to order the articles and the correspondence himself, and receive them himself, and send them off himself, keeping at it until he gets the material. (I would also add S u v o r o v a n d L u n t s, but I am sure Rakhmetov knows many others besides.) We badly need: (1) articles on questions of Russian life, from 6,000 to 18,000 letters; (2) paragraphs on the same subjects, from 2,000 to 6,000 letters; (3) correspondence of diverse length about everything; (4) interesting passages and quotations from local Russian and special Russian publications; (5) paragraphs on articles in Russian newspapers and magazines. The last three points are quite within the range of contribution by working-class and especially the student youth, and therefore the thing should be given attention; this work should be popularised, people should be roused and filled with zeal; they should, by concrete example, be taught what is wanted and how necessary it is to utilise every trifle; they should be made to see how badly needed the raw material from Russia is abroad (we shall be able to work it up from a literary angle and make use of it ourselves), that it is foolish in the extreme to feel embarrassed about literary shortcomings, that they must learn to speak simply and correspond simply with the periodical abroad if they wish to make it their own journal. In view of this I would consider it simply necessary and positively essential to hand out a Vperyod address (a foreign address, of which we have many now and shall have more) to every student circle and to every workers’ group. I assure you that there is an idiotic prejudice among our committee-men against handing out addresses on a broad scale to the periphery youth. Combat this prejudice with all your might, hand out the addresses, and demand direct contact with the Editorial Board of Vpe.ryod. Unless this is done there will be no newspaper. Workers’ correspondence is very badly needed, and there is so little of it. What we need is scores and hundreds of workers corresponding directly with Vperyod.
We must also get the workers to communicate their own addresses to which Vperyod may be mailed in closed envelopes. The workers will not be afraid. The police will not be able to intercept a tenth of the envelopes. The small (four-page) size and frequent appearance of Vperyod make the question of envelope delivery a most vital one for our newspaper. We should make it our direct objective to develop workers’ subscriptions to Vperyod, to develop the habit of sending the money (a ruble isn’t something God knows what!) and one’s address abroad. If we tackle this properly, my word, we could revolutionise the distribution of underground literature in Russia. Don’t forget that transportation, at best, takes four months. And that’s with a weekly paper! As for the enveloped copies. probably from 50 to 75 per cent will be delivered at postal speed.
Now, as to the writers. They ought simply to be obligated to write regularly once a week or once a fortnight; otherwise— so, indeed, tell them—-we cannot consider them decent people and will have nothing more to do with them. The usual excuse is: We don’t know what theme to choose, we’re afraid to waste our effort, we think “they already have this”. It is against these trite and idiotic pretexts that Rakhmetov must wage a personal, a definitely personal, fight. The principal themes are the domestic topics of Russia (of the kind that comprise in periodical literature reviews of the domestic political scene and reflections of social life), as well as articles and brief comments on material appearing in Russian special publications (statistical, military, medical, prison, ecclesiastical, and other periodicals). We are always in need of copy for these two sections. Only people living in Russia, and such people alone, can conduct these two sections well. The keynote here is fresh facts, fresh impressions, special materials that are inaccessible to the people abroad, and not just arguments, not evaluations from the Social-Democratic point of view. Therefore, such articles and comments will never go to waste, for we shall always make use of them. It is Rakhmetov’s duty now to organise this thing at once and give us at least half a dozen good, useful contributors, who would not be lazy or try to shirk their jobs, but would each get in direct touch with the Editorial Board. Only by direct contact with contributors can we arrange all the details of the work. People should be enlisted by being made to realise that nowhere else can they “get into print” as quickly as in a weekly newspaper.
In conclusion, a word or two about the organisational slogan of today. After the article “Time to Call a Halt!” (Vperyod, No. 1), this slogan should be clear; but people are so inert that Rakhmetov, here again, will have to explain and explain again, and hammer it into their heads as hard as he can. The split is now complete; for we have exhausted all means. It is the Third Congress against the will of the Central Committee and the Council and without them. Complete rupture with the Central Committee. An open statement that we have our own Bureau. The complete removal of the Mensheviks and the new-Iskrists everywhere. We did everything we could to get on together, and should now declare openly and bluntly that we are obliged to work separately. All trustfulness and naivet6 can only cause tremendous harm.
For Christ’s sake hurry up and issue an open and emphatic statement on the Bureau. It is necessary: (1) to line up fully with “Time to Call a Halt!” and re-issue its appeal; (2) to declare that Vperyod is the organ of the majority of the committees and that the Bureau is working with it in complete and friendly agreement; (3) that the CC and the Council have deceived the Party in the most disgraceful way and sabotaged the Congress; (4) that there is no way out now other than the convening of a congress of the committees themselves without the CC and the Council; (5) that the Bureau undertakes to help the constructive work of the committees; (13) that the Central Organ has utterly lost the membership’s confidence by its vacillations and lies.
Believe me, we highly appreciate Zemlyachka, but she is wrong in her opposition to Papasha, and it is for you to correct her mistakes. Let us hurry up and break with the CC all along the line, and publish a statement about the Bureau at once to the effect that it is the Organising Committee and that it is convening the Third Congress.
- Vastly Vasilyevich—the Bolshevik M. S. Olminsky (Alexandrov).
- Rakhmetov—A. A. Malinovsky, better known by the name of Bogdanov; joined the Bolsheviks in 1903, but deserted Bolshevism after the Fifth, London, Congress.
- See pp. 35-39 of this volume.—Ed.
- Meaning the Bureau of Committees of the Majority.
- Papasha—the Bolshevik M. M. Litvinov.