Letter to Alexandra Kollontai, Later than May 22, 1915

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 22 May 1915

Written later than May 22, 1915
Published: First published in 1924 in Lenin Miscellany II. Sent from Berne to Christiania (Oslo). Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 35, pages 189-190.

Dear Comrade,

Many thanks for all your trouble and assistance, about which you write in your last letter.

Your articles in Nashe Slovo and for Kommunist[1] on Scandinavian affairs have raised the following question in my mind:

Can one praise and find correct the position of the Left Scandinavian Social-Democrats who reject the arming of the people? I argued about this with Höglund in 1910 and tried to prove to him that this was not Leftism, nor revolutionism, but simply the philistinism of petty-bourgeois provincials.[2] These Scandinavian petty-bourgeois have lucked themselves away in their little countries, almost at the North Pole, and are proud of the fact that you can’t get to them in a month of Sundays! How can one allow that a revolutionary class on the eve of the social revolution should be against the arming of the people? This is not struggle against militarism, but a cowardly attempt to retire from the great questions of the capitalist world. How can one “recognise” the class struggle, without understanding its inevitable transformation at certain moments into civil war?

It seems to me that you ought to collect material on this, and come out resolutely against in Kommunist, and then, for the instruction of the Scandinavians, print it afterwards in Swedish, etc.

I should like to know your opinion about this in more detail.

Bruce Glasier, in my belief, is an unsuitable contributor: although he has a proletarian strain in him, still he is an unbearable opportunist. You will hardly be able to go along with him: he will start crying after two days, and saying that he was “trapped”, that he doesn’t want and doesn’t recognise anything of the kind.

Have you seen the book by David, and his opinion about our manifesto?[3]

Is there not in the Scandinavian countries any material on the struggle of the two currents of opinion concerning the attitude to the war? Could not one gather precise material (reactions, assessments, resolutions) with a precise contrasting of facts regarding the tendencies of the two currents? Do facts confirm (in my opinion, they do) that the opportunists—taken as a current of opinion—are, on the whole,>chauvinists than the revolutionary Social- Democrats? What do you think, would it not be possible to gather and work up such material for Kommunist?

I shake your hand, and wish you all the best,

N. Lenin

P.S. Who is this Shaw Desmond who has been giving a lecture in the Scandinavian countries? Is the text of his lecture available in English? Is he a conscious revolutionary, or à la Hervé?

  1. The magazine Kommunist was organised by Lenin and published by the editorial board of the newspaper Sotsial-Demokrat in co-operation with G. L. Pyatakov and E. B. Bosh, who both financed the publication. N. I. Bukharin was also on the editorial board. Only one (double) issue appeared, in 1915.
    Lenin had intended making Kommunist the organ of the Left Social-Democrats but serious difficulties soon arose between the editorial board of Sotsial-Demokrat and Bukharin, Pyatakov and Bosh. These difficulties became more acute after the double issue had appeared.
    This issue contained Alexandra Kollontai’s article “Why Was the German Proletariat Silent in the July Days?”
    Nashe Slovo (Our Word) printed a number of articles by Kollontai.
  2. Lenin criticises the incorrect position of Carl Zeth Höglund and the Swedish, Norwegian and Swiss Left Social-Democrats in his articles “The Military Programme of the Proletarian Revolution” and “The ‘Disarmament’ Slogan” (see present edition, Vol. 23, pp. 77–87, 94–104).
  3. Reference is to Eduard David’s book Die Sozialdemokratie im Weltkrieg (Social-Democracy in the World War), published in __PRINTERS_P593_COMMENT__ 38—01148 Berlin in 1917. For a criticism of this book see Lenin’s article “The Main German Opportunist Work on the War” (see present edition, Vol. 21, pp. 270–74).