Letter to Lenin, 27 October 1920

By Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst

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(1882 - 1960)

Estelle Sylvia Pankhurst (born 5 May 1882 in Manchester – died 27 September 1960 in Addis Ababa) was an English campaigner for the suffrage and suffragette movement, a socialist and later a prominent left communist and activist in the cause of anti-fascism and the international auxiliary language movement. She spent much of her later life campaigning on behalf of Ethiopia, where she eventually moved. (From: Wikipedia.org.)


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Letter to Lenin, 27 October 1920

Letter to Lenin
27 October 1920


Source: The Guardian.


Dear Comrade,

The situation is moving in a revolutionary direction more swiftly, but of course we are far away yet. The prices of necessaries are rising, but the cost of living is not totally supposed to have risen this month. Unemployment is now acute, and the unemployed are restive. One of Lansbury’s meetings was broken up by members of my party because he advised peaceful methods, and the crowd supported the young dockers, seamen, and others of my party who opposed him. Unemployed march to factories, enter them, make speeches, and speak of using them. Ex-soldiers arm and drill. Do not exaggerate these things – they are not formidable yet.

Unemployed smashed windows and stole jewels last Monday, when the London Mayors led them to Westminster. The Communist parties alone are neither big enough nor bold enough to rise to the occasion ...

In Coventry a member of our party, Emery, leads a campaign for setting aside a factory to work for Soviet Russia, the factory to be controlled by the workers. In ‘The Dreadnought’ I tried to set a bolder policy and should be discussing it with my executive this afternoon, but I was arrested last Thursday and am under £2,000 bail not to meet, or communicate with any of our people responsible for publishing the paper till my trial on Thursday, so I can only communicate indirectly.

I expect six months’ imprisonment. I considered a hunger strike, but I am afraid that weapon is destroyed now since the Government is letting the Irish hunger-strikers die.

I find all the Communist parties, except Gallagher’s Scottish Communist Labor party, disinclined for unity. Parliamentarism and the tameness of the B.S.P. crowd are sore points with our party, and I would have had a hard struggle to bring them round. Now I shall not be there, it seems.

I have done less than I should in seeing people, because I have had a most terrible struggle since I returned home. Our press where our paper is printed was suffering because ‘The Dreadnought’ owed money. Whilst I was away an account ran too long, and a creditor got a writ of payment against us in the court. Then all the creditors took fright. On my return the brokers were in twice in one week, and I have been fighting the situation ever since.

The Third International in Moscow heard my plea when I was there, and promised relief. It does not come. This week the South Wales mining comrades sent for 6,000 extra copies of ‘The Dreadnought’. I borrowed paper from the ‘Herald’. At present I have no paper for next week. It is not pleasant to go to prison so!

With Communist greetings.
SYLVIA PANKHURST.

From : Marxists.org

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