Letter to Grigori Zinoviev, August 24, 1909

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Zinoviev, Grigory Yevseyevich (1883–1936)—joined the RSDLP in 1901. From 1908 to April 1917 was an emigrant abroad, member of the editorial board of the Party’s Central Organ Sotsial-Democrat and of the Bolshevik newspaper Proletary. During the years of reaction (1907–10) and the new revolutionary upsurge he adopted a conciliatory attitude towards the liquidators, otzovists and Trotskyists. In the period of preparation and conduct of the October Revolution he wavered and was opposed to an armed uprising.

In November 1927 he was expelled from the Party for factional activities, was twice reinstated and expelled again for anti-Party activities.

Dear Gr.,

I have received No. 7–8 of Sotsial-Demokrat.[1] I object to Trotsky’s signature; signatures must be omitted. (I have not yet read the articles.)

As regards Proletary, I think we should insert in it 1) am article on the elections In St. Petersburg (in connection with the claptrap of Rech[2] and Vodovozov, if Rech has not misreported him); 2) on the Swedish strike—a summing-up article is essential; 3) ditto on the Spanish events[3]; 4) on the Mensheviks, in connection with their (very vile) polemic with the Geneva (Georgien[4]) anti-liquidator; 5) in the supplement as a special sheet, an answer to the “Open Letter” of Maximov and Co.[5] A proper answer must be given to them so that these scoundrels do not mislead people by their lies.

After three weeks’ holiday, I am beginning to comb round. I think I could take No. 4 and 5, upon myself, if need be No. 1 as well, but I am still afraid to promise. Write me your opinion and the exact deadlines. What else is there for Proletary?

No. 2 and 3 can be made up from Vorwärts; I shall send it to you, if you will undertake to write.

As regards Pravda, have you read Trotsky’s letter to Inok? If you have, I hope it has convinced you that Trotsky behaves like a despicable careerist and factionalist of the Ryazanov-and-Co. type? Either equality on the editorial board, subordination to the CC and no one’s transfer to Paris except Trotsky’s (the scoundrel, he wants to “fix up” the whole rascally crew of Pravda at our expense!)— or a break with this swindler and an exposure of him in the CO He pays lip-service to the Party and behaves worse than any other of the factionalists.

All the best.

N. Lenin

P.S. I’m afraid we’ll have to give Kamenev up as a bad job. An article on The Social Movement[6]has been promised six weeks (or six months) ago?

My address is: Mr. Wl. Oulianoff (Chez Madame Lecreux), Bombon (Seine-et-Marne).

  1. Sotsial-Demokrat—Central Organ of the RSDLP, an illegal newspaper published from February 1908 to January 1917. The editorial board, by decision of the CC elected at the Fifth (London) Congress of the RSDLP, was composed of representatives of the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Polish Social-Democrats. The paper was virtually run by Lenin.
  2. Rech (Speech)—a daily newspaper, Central Organ of the Cadet Party, published in St. Petersburg from February 1906. Closed down by the Military Revolutionary Committee on October 26 (November 8), 1917.
  3. The reference is to the general strike in Sweden, which broke out on August 4, 1909, following the lockout of 83,000 workers in various branches of industry, and to the revolt in Catalonia. Articles on these subjects were published in Proletary No. 47–48 under the headings: “Lessons of the Class Struggle (the General Strike in Sweden)”, a leading article and “Colonial Robbery and Revolution”.
  4. The polemic Lenin intended writing about was carried on in June and August–September 1909 in Golos Sotsial-Demokrata, Nos. 15 and 16–17, in connection with an article by a Geneva anti-liquidator Menshevik, apparently Victor Tevzaya (Georgien), entitled “A Word on a Topical Subject”, in which he defended the idea of an illegal party and urged that the Menshevik organisations clear their ranks of the liquidator legalists. In leading articles headed “Concerning the Article of a Geneva Comrade” and “On the Organisational Discussion” the Golos people denied that they “winked at” liquidationism and accused the author of sectarianism. In his reply (“On the Same Subject”) Georgien quoted a number of documents reflecting the activities of the liquidators in the organisations in Russia. No special article on this polemic appeared in Proletary. Reference to a promised analysis and evaluation of liquidator ideas “piled up” in issue No. 15 of Golos Sotsial-Demokrata is contained in a footnote to Lenin’s article “The Liquidation of Liquidationism”^^(see Vol. 15, p. 460, of this edition)^^.
  5. This refers to the contents of the current issue, No. 47–48, of Proletary, which published the following articles by Lenin: “The Liquidators Exposed”, “On the Open Letter of the Executive Committee of the Moscow Regional Committee”, and “The Elections in St. Petersburg”, and to the supplement to this issue containing the article “The Faction of Supporters of Otzovism and God-Building”^^(see Vol. 16 of this edition)^^.
  6. L. B. Kamenev’s article on the Menshevik five-volume publication The Social Movement in Russia at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century edited by L. Martov, P. Maslov and A. Potresov, was published in Proletary, Nos. 47–48 and 49, September 5 (18) and October 3 (16), 1909.