A Letter to V. V. Kuibyshev and a Draft Engagement for Workers Going to Russia from America
|Written||22 September 1921|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, 1965, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 344b-345a.
In 1921 various groups of American workers united around the Society for Technical Aid to Soviet Russia expressed a desire to go to Soviet Russia to lend a hand in economic construction. Most of these workers were Russian emigrants who had gone to America before the October Revolution.
On June 22, 1921, the Council of Labour and Defence discussed the question of enlisting the services of members of the industrial emigrant community, and recognised the desirability of “developing individual industrial enterprises or groups of enterprises by handing them over to groups of American workers and industrially developed farmers on a contract basis ensuring them a definite degree of economic autonomy” (Lenin Miscellany XX, p. 202). The Council also considered it necessary to regulate industrial immigration of workers from foreign countries. On August 11, 1921, a telegram signed by Lenin was sent to the Society for Technical Aid to Soviet Russia, stating, among other things: “You must bear in mind the hardships existing in Russia, the difficulties in connection with the food supply problem, and other obstacles which would have to be faced. Persons going to Russia should be prepared to meet these conditions .... It would be best to send delegates first for an on-the-spot inspection of settlement land lots, wood lots, mines, factories, etc. to be leased” (U.S.S.R. Foreign Policy Documents, Vol. IV, Moscow, 1960, p. 261).
In the latter part of 1921 a group of American workers headed by S. Rutgers,, a Dutch engineer and Communist, W. D. Heywood, a prominent leader of the American labour movement and G. S. Calvert, an American worker, carried on negotiations with the Soviet Government for exploitation by this group of a part of the Kuznetsk coal-field in Siberia and the organisation there of an industrial colony. Lenin received delegates of the American workers’ colony on September 19 and had a talk with them. A record of this talk, made by Lenin, is given in Lenin Miscellany XX III , p. 39. Lenin’s draft engagement was written in connection with this talk. For details concerning the agreement with the sponsor group of the American workers (Rutgers group) see pp. 348-50 of this volume.
I am sending you the draft of an undertaking which Rutgers and all his people down to each individual worker have to give (in the event of an agreement being signed).
If you are agreeable, put it to them.
Find a reliable interpreter (for all negotiations) who knows both languages well.
An agreement is essential, and it must be very precisely worded.
We must get our own lawyer (a Communist) to draw it up.
I suggest it be called an agreement for handing over the management of a number of factories, etc.
The technical examination results should be signed by Stunkel and several other experts of repute.
With communist greetings,
Do the leaders aid organisers of the enterprise agree to sign the following engagement and obtain the signatures of all the other people going to Russia from America:
1. We undertake to see to it and collectively answer for it that only such people shall go to Russia as are capable and willing to face a number of severe hardships involved in the rehabilitation of industry in a very backward and utterly ruined country.
2. Those going to Russia undertake to work their hardest and with the greatest efficiency and discipline exceeding those of capitalist standards, as otherwise Russia will not be able to outstrip capitalism or even catch up with it.
3. We undertake, in the event of any conflicts whatsoever to submit them for settlement to the supreme Soviet authority of Russia and faithfully abide by its decisions.
4. We undertake not to forget the extremely nervous state of the starving and exhausted Russian workers and peasants involved in our business and to render them every assistance with a view to establishing friendly relations and overcoming any distrust or envy.