Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

What Is To Be Done?


Written: Written between the autumn of 1901 and February 1902
Published: Lenin’s Selected Works, Volume 1, pp. 119 - 271. First published as a separate work in March 1902.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961, Moscow, Volume 5, pp. 347-530.
Translated: by Joe Fineberg and George Hanna
Original Transcription & Markup: Tim Delaney (1999)
Re-Marked up & Proofread by: K. Goins (2008)
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (1999). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

Lenin’s work What Is To Be Done? was written at the end of 1901 and early in 1902. In “Where To Begin”, published in Iskra, No. 4 (May 1901), Lenin said that the article represented “a skeleton plan to be developed in greater detail in a pamphlet now in preparation for print”.

Lenin began the actual writing of the book in the autumn of 1901. In his “Preface to the Pamphlet Documents of the ‘Unity’ Conference”, written in November 1901, Lenin said that the book was in preparation “to be published in the near future”. In December Lenin published (in Iskra, No. 12) his article “A Talk with Defenders of Economism”, which he later called a conspectus of What Is To Be Done? He wrote the Preface to the book in February 1902 and early in March the book was published by Dietz in Stuttgart. An announcement of its publication was printed in Iskra, No. 18, March 10, 1902.

In republishing the book in 1907 as part of the collection Twelve Years, Lenin omitted Section A of Chapter V, “Who Was Offended by the Article ‘Where To Begin,’” stating in the Preface that the book was being published with slight abridgements, representing the omission solely of details of the organisational relationships and minor polemical remarks. Lenin added five footnotes to the new edition.

The text of this volume is that of the 1902 edition, verified with the 1907 edition.


I. Dogmatism And “Freedom of Criticism”
II. The Spontaneity of the Masses and the Consciousness of the Social-Democrats
III. Trade-Unionist Politics And Social-Democratic Politics
IV. The Primitiveness of the Economists and the Organization of the Revolutionaries
V. The “Plan” For an All-Russia Political Newspaper
Appendix: The Attempt to Unite Iskra With Rabocheye Dyelo
Correction to What Is To Be Done?


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