V. I. Lenin

Preface To The Pamphlet;

The Problem Of The New Economic Policy

(Two Old Articles And A Still Older Postscript[1]

Written: 16 November, 1921
First Published: 1930; Published according to proofs corrected by Lenin
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 121-123
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

In the spring of 1919 I spoke at a meeting of Petrograd workers. As usual, a verbatim report of the speech was taken, and, as usual, it was taken very badly-or perhaps the report was not so bad, but I, as usual, spoke badly. Be that as it may-reported badly or delivered badly-the speech was published, as usual.

Knowing and feeling all these “badlies” and “as usuals” only too well, I, soon after, sent the Petrograd comrades the following “postscript” to my speech (which, if I remember rightly, was published under the title of Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government[2]:


“After spending no little effort in correcting the verbatim report of my speech, I am compelled to make the following urgent request to all comrades who wait to report my speeches for the press.

“My request is that they should never rely on the shorthand or any other verbatim reports of my speeches, never make any endeavour to obtain such reports, and never publish such reports of my speeches.

“Instead of publishing the verbatim reports of my speeches, let them, if necessary, publish summaries of them. I have seen such summaries of my speeches in the newspapers that were satisfactory; but I have never seen a single verbatim report of my speech that was at all satisfactory. Whether this is due to the fact that I speak too fast, or that I do not construct my sentences properly, or to some other reason. I will not undertake to say; but the fact remains that I have never seen a single satisfactory shorthand or any other verbatim report of my speech.

“A good summary of a speech is better than a bad verbatim report. That is why I request that no verbatim reports of my speeches should ever be published. April 17, 1919. N. Lenin.”

I sent this postscript to Petrograd with the following note: “I earnestly request the Petrograd comrades to publish the enclosed as a preface, or postscript, to my speech, at least in the smallest type. April 17. Lenin.”

The reader will note the polite, almost pleading tone in which I begged the Petrograd comrades to publish these few lines “at least in the smallest type”. As usual, the Petrograd comrades-headed by Comrade Zinoviev— “let me down”, to use the mildest term I can think of. As usual, the Petrograd comrades are extremely fond of doing everything they can to display their self-reliance and independence—even going to the length of not granting an author’s request, which is considered an obligatory duty by all people, comrades and citizens in all countries and in all republics, including even Soviet republics (with the exception of independent Petrograd). When I found that the Petrograd comrades had not fulfilled my request, I complained bitterly to Comrade Zinoviev; but the latter, as usual, answered, “It’s done now and cannot be changed. Besides, how could we publish a postscript in which you discredit your own pamphlet.” Thus “independence” was augmented by cunning, and I was made to feel foolish.

Recently I had other cases of badly delivered or (perhaps 1 should say “and") badly recorded speeches. These were the speeches I made at the Second All-Russia Congress of Political Education Departments and at the Moscow Gubernia Party Conference. Taught by bitter experience I have now decided to act in a less “pleading” manner. Among my papers! have found my old preface of April 17, 1919, and am publishing it as a preface to my two articles. I am not publishing the two speeches mentioned for the reasons I have already stated.

Let truth prevail-better late than never. And it will prevail in many respects; in that the Petrograd comrades will be punished, even if to some slight degree, considering their offence, for their excessive “independence” and cunning; in that the reading public will at last realise most precisely, vividly and palpably how bad the verbatim reports of my speeches are; and in that those who are interested to learn my opinion about one of the most important tasks of the day in the sphere of our New Economic Policy will obtain an exact text of what I really wanted to say, and really did say.

N. Lenin

November 16, 1921


[1] This pamphlet was not published. Lenin’s pamphel The Problem of the new Economic Policy, which include the articles Fourth Anniverary of the October Revolution and The Importance of Gold Now and After the Complete Victory of Socialism, was published in 1921.

[2] See Lenin, The Achievements and Difficulties of the Soviet Government