Special pages :
The Use of Sticking to the Point in Polemics
|Written||8 June 1917|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 25, pages 63-64
Dear comrades writing for Novaya Zhizn, you resent our criticism, which you call angry. We shall try to be mild and kind.
To begin with, we wish to take up the two questions you raised.
Can one seriously speak of control over production, to say nothing of regulating it, without ending the "inviolability of commercial secrecy"?
We have maintained that Novaya Zhizn has not answered this “practical” question. Novaya Zhizn objects, saying that we can ’find" the answer “even” in Rabochaya Gazeta.
We cannot find it, dear comrades! Nor can you ever find it. Look more carefully and you will see you cannot find it.
You will pardon us for saying so, but Novaya Zhizn has sinned because, while holding forth about “control”, it has not raised the practical question of the inviolability of commercial secrecy in a practical way.
Second question: can one confuse the immediate introduction of socialism (which Novaya Zhizn has been arguing against and which we have never suggested) with the immediate assumption of actual control over the banks and trusts? When, in answer to that, we pointed out that we did not propose to expropriate, regulate, or exercise control over small-scale economy, Novaya Zhizn commented that we had made a "valuable confession", a “legitimate” one, but had done it “overhastily”.
Have a heart, dear comrades, how can you call it "over hasty" when it is just a brief paraphrase of the long and detailed resolution passed by our conference? Or didn’t you care enough to read that resolution?
In polemics, one should stick to the point. It is harmful in this kind of polemics to try to quibble the issue away.