V. I. Lenin

To the Author of The Song of the Falcon

Published: Sotsial-Demokrat No. 34, December 5, 1914. Printed from the Sotsial-Demokrat text.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 41, pages 344.2-345.1.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) © 2004 Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.  

Every class-conscious worker will feel a pang when he sees Gorky’s signature alongside that of P. Struve under the chauvinistic-clerical protest against German barbarity.{1}

In a talk we once had about Chaliapin’s genuflections, Gorky said: “You can’t judge him too strictly; we artists have a different mentality.” In other words, the artist frequently acts under the influence of his emotion, which attains such a force that it suppresses all other considerations.

Let that be so. Let us say that Chaliapin must not be strictly judged. He is an artist, and nothing more. He is a stranger to the cause of the proletariat: today, he is a friend of the workers, tomorrow, a reactionary, moved by his emotion.

But the workers have grown accustomed to regard Gorky as their own. They have always believed that his heart beats as warmly as theirs for the cause of the proletariat, and that he has dedicated his talent to the service of this cause.

That is why they keep sending messages of greetings to Gorky, and that is why his name is so dear to them. It is this trust on the part of the class-conscious workers that imposes on Gorky a certain duty—to cherish his good name and to refrain from putting his signature to all sorts of cheap chauvinist protests which could well confuse the workers who lack political consciousness. They are still unable to find their bearings in many situations, and could be led astray by Gorky’s name. Struve’s name will not confuse any worker, but Gorky’s may.

Therefore, the class-conscious workers, who well realise the falsehood and the vulgarity of this hypocritical protest against the “German barbarians”, must feel that they have to rebuke the author of The Song of the Falcon. They will tell him: “At this hard and responsible moment through which the proletariat of Russia is going, we expected you to go hand in hand with its leading fighters and not with Mr. Struve & Co.!”


{1} A reference to the appeal “From Writers, Artists and Actors” written in the spirit of bourgeois patriotism and justification of tsarist Russia’s war against Germany. It was signed by the honorary academicians and well-known artists A. Vasnetsov, V. Vasnetsov and K. Korovin, the sculptor S. Merkurov, F. Chaliapin and other prominent actors of Moscow theatres, the writers Maxim Gorky, A. Serafimovich, Skitalets and others, the editors of magazines P. Struve, N. Mikhailov, D. Tikhomirov, etc.

The appeal was published in No. 223 of Russkoye Slovo on September 28 (October 11), 1914. p. 344

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