Letter to Georgi Plekhanov, July 25, 1901

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 25 July 1901

First published in 1925. Sent from Munich to Geneva. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 34, pages 80-82

July 25, 1901

Dear G. V.,

Yesterday I received the books on the agrarian question. Thank you for them. I am pretty deeply immersed in my “agrarian” article against Chernov (and partly Hertz and Bulgakov). I think this Chernov needs to be trounced unmercifully.[1]

Velika was here just now and read extracts from your letter to her. As regards the proofs, we have already done “everything in our power”, i.e., we have sent Dietz corrections to be inserted in the text if it is not too late; if it is, we shall specify them without fail at the end of the book so that there will be no great harm done really. My wife read the proofs and compared them with the manuscript (the phrase on which you have made the marginal note, “I didn’t have that!” proved to be a slip of the pen on your part. As I have just seen from the manuscript, you actually did write “the May uprising”. We have corrected this too). Since proof-reader mistakes are unavoidable, we shall from now on apply the “tactics” proposed by you: we shall send the author the first proofs (the second will be too late), for him to correct not individual letters and characters, since that will be done by the proof-reader and is indeed not important, but only places where the sense is distorted by the omission of words and phrases or by the replacement of one word by another.

I received my article[2] from P. B. with his letter. P. B. is also in favour of toning it down. Needless to say, I have already introduced all the mitigations concretely indicated by you and P. B. As regards changing the whole tone Of the article, or replacing all attacks by tongue-in-cheek edification, although I like this plan of yours, I doubt whether I could do it. If I didn’t feel any “irritation” against the author I would not have written like that. But since there is “irritation” (understandable not only to us but to every Social-Democratic reader of the preface), I am no longer able to conceal it, and cannot exercise cunning here. I shall try to tone it down still more and make still further reservations; perhaps something will come of it.

I shall pass on to Alexei your comments on his essay (he has long been looking forward to them). He probably forgot to tell you that he himself passed his subject about Mikhailovsky on to Ryazanov (the latter is now writing it). I understood that you were writing a review of At the Post of Honour, which we sent you.

All the very best.


If you see Koltsov, give him many thanks from me for Volnoye Slovo.[3]

O yes, I almost forgot. I should like to ask your advice on the following question. This same swine Chernov quotes F. Engels’s article “The German Peasant” in Russkoye Bogatstvo, 1900, No. 1, where at the end Engels says that it is necessary to “restore the Mark”. I found this article. It turned out to be a translation of the Anhang to the Entwicklung des Sozialismus von der Utopie zur Wissenschaft— “Die Mark”; moreover in “Russkoye Bogatstvo” at the end two paragraphs (18 lines) have been inserted which are absent in the original. I compared all the rest of the translation paragraph by paragraph, but the devil knows where these two paragraphs have come from. This outrage ought to be exposed, only—isn’t there a misunderstanding here perhaps? Isn’t there another text of this article by Engels? In a note to the Russian translation, the editors of Russkoye Bogatstvo say:

“This article of his (Engels) appeared in the eighties tin 1882? the preface to Entwicklung is marked September 21, 1882] in a German magazine [? Neue Zeit? or Zuricher Sozialdemokrat?[4] Do you know? ] without his signature [?]. But in a copy of it, which Engels sent to one of his friends [sic! Danielson? Did you hear anything about this from Engels? ] he signed it with his initials.” In addition, it is said, the historical part of the article is identical with the preface to “Schlesische Milliarde” and with an article in Neue Rheinische Zeitung[5] (April-March 1849).

Could you help me to get to the bottom of this? Wasn’t there another text of the article “Die Mark” in Neue Rheinische Zeitung or elsewhere? Gould Engels later have thrown out the end about “the restoration of the Mark”?

  1. See “The Agrarian Question and the ’Critics of Marx”’ (present edition, Vol. 5).—Ed.
  2. The Persecutors of the Zemstvo and the Hannibals of Liberalism.” (see present edition, Vol. 5).—Ed.
  3. Volnoye Slovo (Free Word)—a weekly, and from issue No. 37 a fortnightly publication which appeared in Geneva from 1881 to 1883; altogether 62 issues were put out. Founded for provocative purposes with the knowledge of the Russian secret political police by members of the Svyashchennaya Druzhina (Holy Squad)—a secret organisation of the landed gentry and tsarist dignitaries headed by Prince P. Shuvalov. Edited by the police agent A. P. Malshinsky. p. 81
  4. The reference is to Der Sozialdemokrat, Central Organ of the German Social-Democrats, published illegally in Zurich and London from 1879 to 1890. p. 82
  5. Die Neue Rheinische Zeitung—a daily, published in Cologne from July 1, 1848, to May 19, 1849, edited by K. Marx. “No German newspaper, before or since,” wrote Engels, “has ever had the same power and influence or been able to electrify the proletarian masses as effectively as the Neue Rheinische Zeitung” (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. 11, Moscow, 1962, pp. 336-37). In his article “Karl Marx” Lenin called this newspaper “the finest and unsurpassed organ of the revolutionary proletariat” (see present edition, Vol. 21, p. 81). p. 82