Letter to Pavel Axelrod, Beginning of November 1895

From Marxists-en
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Axelrod, Pavel Borisovich (1850-1928)—in the seventies a Narodnik, later a Marxist. in 1883 took part in founding the Emancipation of Labour group. From 1900 a member of the editorial board of Iskra and Zarya. After the Second Congress of the RSDLP (1903), a Menshevik leader.

During the period of reaction (1907-10) one of the leading liquidators. Adopted a hostile attitude towards the October Socialist Revolution. p. 20

You are probably cursing me for this delay. There were some good reasons for it.

I will recount them in order. First of all, I was in Vilna.[1] I had talks with our people about the Miscellany.[2] Most of them are agreed on the need for such a publication and promise support and supply of material. Their mood is in general sceptical (I recalled your expression about the pal.[3] provinces), as much as to say—we shall see whether it will correspond to agitational tactics, to the tactics of the economic struggle. I stressed that this would largely depend on us.

Further, I was in Moscow. I saw no one, for there was no trace of the “Teacher of Life”. Is he all right? If you know anything about him and have an address, write to him to send it to us, otherwise we cannot find any contacts there. Great havoc has been played there,[4] but it seems that some people have survived and the work did not cease. We have material from there—a description of some strikes. If you have not had it, write and we shall send it to you.

After that I was in Orekhovo-Zuyevo. Places like this, frequently to be met with in the central industrial area, are extremely peculiar: a purely manufacturing town with tens of thousands of inhabitants, whose only means of livelihood is the mills. The mill management is the sole authority. The mill office “runs” the town. There is the sharpest division of the people into workers and bourgeois. Hence the workers’ frame of mind is rather oppositional, but, after the recent smash-up there, so few of our people are left and all of them so closely watched that contacts are very difficult. However, we shall be able to deliver the literature.

Further, the delay has been due to local trouble. This also accounts for the meagreness of the material sent.

I don’t like the address in Zurich. Can’t you find another—not in Switzerland, but in Germany? That would be much better and safer.

Further, in sending your reply—a book on technology, address: Mr. Luchinsky, Alexandrovsky Iron Works, Chemical Laboratory, St. Petersburg—add, if there is room, other material: pamphlets issued in Geneva, interesting cuttings from Vorwärts,[5] etc. Write in detail about the Miscellany: what material there is already, what is planned, when the first issue will appear, and what exactly is lacking for the second. We shall probably send money, but later on. Reply as quickly as possible so that we may know whether this method is suitable.

Send the Pole a rendezvous address as quickly as possible, since we need delivery facilities. The address is: student Mikhail Leontievich Zakladny, Technological Institute, the same town, ask for Ivanov. The money for the publication in Russian of his Geschichte, etc., has been promised.[6]

Another request: we are badly in need of ink; as to what kind, you can find out from Mögli, who has it. Could you send it somehow? Is there no opportunity? Please think it over or ask your “practical men” to do so. By the way, you asked us to approach them directly. In that case, tell us: 1) do they know our method and key? 2) do they know who these letters come from?

You are now being sent: 1) information about the expulsion of the Dukhobors; 2) an account about rural workers in the south; and 3) a description of the Thornton mills—for the time being, only the beginning, about a quarter, of this is being sent.

It is necessary to write with Chinese ink. Better still, add a small crystal of potassium dichromate (K_2Cr_2O_7): then it won’t wash off. Use the thinnest paper possible. All the best.


Regards to the comrade.

  1. The key is the same as the one we have been using.—LeninThis footnote was given by Lenin in view of the fact that the names of towns were ciphered in the letter for purposes of secrecy. p. 20
  2. This refers to the preparations for publishing abroad a non-periodical Miscellany entitled Rabotnik. It was published in 1896-99 by the Union of Russian Social-Democrats Abroad and edited by the Emancipation of Labour group. The publication was sponsored by Lenin. In May 1895, during his stay in Switzerland, Lenin made arrangements for its publication with G. V. Plekhanov, P. B. Axelrod and other members of the Emancipation of Labour group. On his return to Russia in September 1895 Lenin developed extensive activities aimed at supplying articles from Russia for the Miscellany and organising financial support for the publication. During his trips to Vilna, Moscow and Orekhovo-Zuyevo Lenin made arrangements with the local Social-Democrats for assistance to be rendered this publication.
    Altogether 6 issues of Rabotnik in three volumes and 10 issues of Listok Rabotnika were published. p. 20
  3. The word “pal.” has not been deciphered.—Ed.
  4. This refers to the arrests made among the Social-Democrats in Moscow and Moscow Gubernia. p. 20
  5. Vorwärts—a daily, central organ of the German Social-Democratic Party, published in Berlin from 1891. In the late nineties, after the death of Engels, the paper was controlled by the Party’s Right wing and systematically published articles of the opportunists. Vorwärts tendentiously reported the struggle against opportunism and revisionism within the RSDLP and supported the Economists, and later, after the split in the Party, the Mensheviks. p. 21
  6. The publication and its author have not been ascertained.—Ed.