The Question of Mr. Bogdanov and the Vperyod Group

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 3 June 1913


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Written June 3 (16), 1913
Published: First published in 1930 in the second and third editions of V. I. Lenin’s Collected Works, Vol. XVI. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 19, pages 173-174.
Collection(s): Pravda

This letter to the editors of Pravda was evoked by the publication of a declaration by A. Bogdanov in Pravda No. 120 on May 26, 1913. Bogdanov tried to deny Lenin’s point that the renunciation of work in the Duma and the use of other legal possibilities were connected with the Vperyod line (see p. 154 of this volume). In a comment to Bogdanov’s letter made by the editors, it was stated that Bogdanov’s declaration had been published for “purposes of objectivity”; this Lenin vehemently objected to.

In answer to this comment Lenin sent, together with this letter, an article (unpublished at that time and not found since) against Bogdanov’s distortion of Party history. On a number of occasions Lenin warned the editorial board that Bogdanov’s collaboration with a Bolshevik newspaper was impermissible. On Lenin’s demand Bogdanov was excluded from the list of Pravda contributors after he had written an article, “Ideology”, which contained open propaganda of Machist views.

The action of the editors in respect of Mr. Bogdanov’s distortion of Party history is so scandalous that, to tell the truth, one does not know whether it is possible after this to remain a contributor.

What actually happened?

In my article there was not a word against Mr. Bogdanov (who is not a member of the Vperyod group); there was not a word of censure in general.

As cautiously as possible I stated a fact—that the trend condemned unanimously by the entire Party was “connected with the Vperyod line”.[1]

Not a word more. Nor could Mr. Bogdanov quote anything more himself!

The question arises—can this fact be evaded? It cannot, for the Party simultaneously condemned both liquidationism and otzovism.[2] Anyone who tried to avoid this fact when speaking of Party history in respect of liquidationism would be swindling. I dare say the editors do not demand that I should engage in swindling. I have to believe this, especially in view of the editorial board’s having announced its agreement with No. 95!

Is the fact true? The editors agree that it is. It would be difficult not to agree since the Vperyod group itself declared that otzovism was a “legitimate tendency”!

If the fact is true, then how could they possibly allow (“for tile sake of impartiality”) Mr. Bogdanov to lie about it? The only explanation I can think of is that the editors lack knowledge of the Vperyod group’s history (unless someone has been affected by an absolutely blinding enthusiasm for the reactionary trash that philosopher Bogdanov teaches the workers).

The editors probably do not know that the Vperyod group is disintegrating completely. Mr. Bogdanov left them a long time ago—his “philosophy” was condemned in the press by Alexinsky of the Vperyod group. That same Alexinsky condemned “proletarian culture” (from the Vperyod platform) in the press. Does the editorial board not know this?

Bogdanov, Domov,[3] Lyadov, Volsky[4] and Stepinsky[5] have now left the Vperyod group (and Lunacharsky is on the point of leaving—see the new leaflets in Paris). Does the editorial board not know this?

The editors are supporting the worst (hopeless) elements among the bourgeois liars from the Vperyod group against the best (like Alexinsky) who have broken with Mr. Bogdanov!

The devil alone knows what this all means! This is a mockery of the truth, of the Party.

I demand categorically that the enclosed article be print ed in full. I have always permitted the editors to make changes in a comradely manner, but after Mr. Bogdanov’s letter, I do not grant any right to alter or do anything else of that kind with this article. If you do not print it, pass it on to Prosveshcheniye; I insist on having complete freedom to fight against the distortion of Party history. We are struggling against liquidationism and concealing otzovism—this is such a despicable position that I can only assume that the blunder was due to lack of knowledge in the matter.

The editorial board must state that it has convinced itself that Mr. Bogdanov expounded the Vperyod platform incorrectly and gave the facts incorrectly.

I insist on an immediate reply. I cannot continue to con tribute articles in face of Mr. Bogdanov’s despicable lying.

At your service, V. Ilyin

  1. See p. 154 of this volume.—Ed.
  2. Otzovism (from otozvat—to recall)—-an opportunist trend that took shape among Bolsheviks after the defeat of the Revolution of 1905–07. The otzovists believed that under the conditions obtaining in the period of reaction the Party should conduct only under ground work; they demanded the recall of the Social-Democratic deputies from the Duma and refused to participate in trade unions and other legal and semi-legal working-class organisations. The policy advocated by the otzovists would have alienated the Party from the masses and converted it into an isolated sect.
  3. Domov—pseudonym of M. N. Pokrovsky.
  4. Volsky, Stanislav—pseudonym of A. V. Sokolov.
  5. Stepinsky—pseudonym of V. R. Menzhinsky.