Letter to Inessa Armand, End of December 1913

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...[1] Idiotically stupid are the people who have “taken fright” at trusted agents,[2] as something allegedly “insulting” to the Party cells. That means, the argument runs, that there are no Party cells if they want trusted agents!

Comedians! They chase words, without thinking about how devilishly complicated and subtle life is, producing entirely new forms, which we only partly “catch on” to.

People for the most part (99 per cent of the bourgeoisie, 98 per cent of the liquidators, about 60–70 per cent of the Bolsheviks) don’t know how to think, they only learn words by heart. They’ve learnt the word “underground”. Firmly. They can repeat it. They know it by heart.

But how to change its forms in a new situation, how to learn and think anew for this purpose, this we do not under stand.

The summer conference of 1913 (abroad) decided to over come the Seven. The campaign of the working masses in the autumn of 1913 in Russia—the majority are for us!! A “circle” of “trusted agents” (without election by the Party cells!! Alarm!!—shout Antonov, Isaac and Co.) decided—and the masses carried it out.

How can that be done? Well, that is where one must learn to understand such a “cunning” mechanism. It could not have been done, were there no underground and no Party cells. And it could not have been done, if there were no new and cunning forms of the underground and the Party cells.

I am very interested in whether you will succeed in making our people understand this. Write in as much detail as you can.

We have received one copy of Sputnik Rabochego.[3] 5,000 copies have already been sold!! Hurrah!! Set about the women’s journal[4] super-energetically!

  1. The beginning of the letter has never been found.—Ed.
  2. Trusted agents—workers chosen to maintain constant contact between the Central Committee and the local Social-Democratic groups, and to evolve flexible forms of leadership for local activities in the big working-class centres. The system of trusted agents was initiated by the Cracow Conference of the CC of the RSDLP of 1913 and the need for it was confirmed by the Poronin Conference.
  3. Sputnik Rabochego na 1914 God (Worker’s Handbook for 1914)—a pocket calendar put out by the Party Priboi Publishers in December 1913. The whole edition was sold in one day. In February 1914 a second, revised edition was produced.
    The calendar included Lenin’s article “Strikes in Russia” (see present edition, Vol. 19, pp. 534–38).
  4. Lenin refers to the preparation for the publication of the magazine Rabotnitsa (Working Woman), the first issue of which appeared in St. Petersburg on February 23 (March 8), 1914.