To Pupils of the Capri School
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1974, Moscow, Volume 16, pages 82-84.
To Pupils of the Capri School was written by Lenin in October 1909 in reply to two letters of the workers who were studying at the school and who had dissociated themselves from the Bogdanov group. The letters of the Leninist students were published together with Lenin’s article “A Shameful Fiasco” (see pp. 85–86 of this volume) as a separate reprint from the newspaper Proletary No. 50, November 28 (December 11), 1909.
Dear comrades, we have received both your letters about the incipient split in the “school”. These are the first comradely letters of kindred thinkers to reach us from Capri and they have made all of us very happy. We most heartily welcome the clear, demarcation in the school.
It required: time, of course, to lay bare the true character of the school as a new centre of the new faction. We did not doubt for a moment that sooner 0r later the most class conscious Social-Democratic workers would find their bearings in this situation and select the right path. We learn from Moscow that letters have been received there from out-and-out “Bogdanovist” pupils of the school who are campaigning openly for the Capri centre and very greatly helping all Social-Democratic workers to understand the true significance of the Capri school.
Now to come to the matter in hand. You, must, comrades, thoroughly think over the new situation that has arisen so that we can discuss it together and take the right steps, choosing the right time for them. You understand,of course, that a split in, the school is now inevitable: you yourselves write that you cannot feel at home in such a school. You, of course, are not counting on united action with the out-and-out “Bogdanovists”. And once matters have reached such a pitch that a split in the school is inevitable, it is necessary to understand clearly the significance of this split, to have a clear idea of the struggle ensuing from the split, and how the Bogdanovists will, try to “disarm” all of you (i. e., to deprive you, of the possibility of making your influence felt and of telling the truth about the school), to compromise all of you (the nickname “agent of the Bolshevik Centre” bandied about, as you say, by Alexinsky is only a beginning; it is only the bud, the fruit is still to come), etc., etc.
You must think this over thoroughly and act firmly, resolutely and intelligently, as in a battle; you yourselves write that a “battle” is going on in the school over the platform. This is the beginning of battles against you wherever the Bogdanovists have penetrated.
You should begin by making an accurate count of your numbers. How many resolute opponents of the “Bogdanovist” platform are there? Can this number be increased or not? If yes, then how and in what period of time? If not, then what is the behaviour of the “neutrals”? You must think over what your behaviour should be during an inevitable split in the school in order as far as possible to win over these neutrals to your side or at worst to prevent them falling wholly into the hands of the Bogdanovists.
Further, how do you intend to arrange your exit from the school? As a simple departure or as a withdrawal owing to the struggle over platforms? Of course, if the struggle among you has developed as rapidly as one might judge from your first two letters, the split has perhaps already happened, i. e., perhaps the Bogdanovists have already ousted you, quite simply ousted you, and in that case there is nothing to be said. If this has not yet happened—think carefully over how you will arrange your departure. You must give a reply to all the Russian organisations. You must refute, precisely and clearly, by giving the facts, all the thousands of attacks which will now be heaped on you by the “Bogdanovists”. You must be prepared to defend your views on the school and on the “platform” of the Bogdanovists.
If the question of your departure arises you must see that you are given the means for travelling to Russia. That is the school’s obligation, just as prior to the split among the Bolsheviks it was the obligation of the Bolshevik Centre to pay the expenses of travelling to Russia (after the December Party Conference of 1908) for Lyadov, Vsevolod and Stanislav. They demanded their expenses from us at that time and received them.
We shall, of course, help you as regards passports and a meeting with us (in Paris or in some small town, where it would be more secret and save you time, as well as being cheaper). We will discuss where to meet as a separate question and make a choice later on. Our finances are not brilliant and we can only give you modest assistance.
I am writing all this to clarify matters and to exchange opinions with you. When we have received more detailed replies from you and cleared up all the questions by our correspondence we shall convene the executive committee of the enlarged editorial board of Proletary and then settle the amount of assistance, the time and, place of our meeting, and so forth.
Please answer in detail. Can you give us your direct address?
With greetings, The Secretary of “Proletary”