Ellis Hillman: A Letter from Moscow

IC32 reported with the agreement of IC Ellis Hillman had written to the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow to urge the publication of a comprehensive edition of Karl Kautsky’s works. Ellis undertook to supply a translation of the expected reply, but when it arrived just as IC33 was going to press we inserted the original – as a boast or a tease, whichever you prefer. We had underestimated the readers of IC; one of them came up with a translation, slightly incomplete but giving, correctly, all the important points of the reply. What follows is the complete translation sent in by Ellis. It is the work of Judith Harrison, to whom our grateful thanks. Numbers in square brackets refer to the notes following the translation – GW.


Respected Comrade Hillman!

We agree with you that it is essential to continue the broad study of the theoretical heritage of the pupils and contemporaries of Marx and Engels. In recent years in the USSR books have appeared on Lafargue [1] (by I. Boldyrev), on Labriola [2] (by L. Hikitich), on Luxemburg [3] (by N. Bukharin [4] and I. Yazhborovskaya). In 1982 a monograph was published by S. Braiovich: Karl Kautsky – the Evolution of his Views (Moscow, Nauka). At the moment the Institute of Philosophy of the Academy of Sciences is preparing a plan of publications of the works of the prominent Marxists in which, along with the works of Plekhanov, may be included the works of Kautsky.

With Regards, M. Mchedlov, Deputy Director, Inst. of Marxist – Leninism, 31 March 1988

Notes by Ellis Hillman:

[1] Paul Lafargue (1842 – 1911): French socialist and prominent figure in the First International. One of the founders of the Polish French Workers’ Party: Marx’ son-in-law.
[2] Antonio Labriola (1843 – 1904): Italian man of letters and philosopher; in the 80s and 90s was close to Marxism; retired from the political left in his last years.
[3] Rosa Luxemburg (1871 – 1919): One of the founders of the Polish Social Democratic movement; from 1897 onwards actively participated in the German Social Democratic movement; sided with Karl Kautsky in the revisionist controversy. Anti-war socialist, supported the Russian Revolution and the Spartacists. Founding member of the German Communist Party; later became critical of Lenin. Murdered in 1919 by freelance counter-revolutionaries.
[4] Nikolai Bukharin (1888 – 1938): Marxist theoretician and economist; active in the Russian Social Democratic Party from 1906. Active in the Russian Revolution of 1917, became Editor of Pravda. Succeeded Zioviev as President of the Comintern 1926 – 1929. Editor of Izvestia 1934. Drew up the Soviet Constitution of 1936. Eventually expelled from the Party and executed by Stalin following the Second Moscow Trial in 1938. Recently rehabilitated by Michael Gorbachov.

from Ideological Commentary 34, July 1988.