Letter on Oil Concessions

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 12 February 1921

First Published: 1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 134-136

To Members of the Political Bureau

and Comrade Rykov,





We are in receipt of replies to the Political Bureau’s query concerning oil concessions both from Krasin (and Bogdatyan) and Chairman of Glavneft [Chief Oil Industry Administration.—Translator] Dosser and his four experts.

In connection with the report, The State of the Oil Industry by the End of 1920 (Baku, 1920), I am sending these replies on to Comrade Stalin, and request all members of the Political Bureau to ring him up to obtain all this materia] and read it in good time. (All you have to do with regard to the printed report is to read through what I have marked off with a blue pencil on the pages listed on the cover, that is, on the page before the text.)

This material needs to be read urgently, because it is desirable to have a Political Bureau decision (8.00 p.m . Monday, February 14).

The material gives ample proof that:

(a) disaster is imminent ;

(b) everything must be done to lease out the concessions in Baku (that is, find the concessionaires);

(c) the Glavneft Chairman is extremely stupid. Stupidity in such high quarters is a menace.

These three points summed up:

(a) Disaster is looming. This point is driven home by the Glavneft experts. The fool Dosser tries to minimise the danger in his “memo”. That is the height of stupidity. The opinions of all the Glavneft experts should be read and compared with Dosser’s toned-down conclusion.

(b) Dosser formulates his conclusion as follows: “There is doubtful benefit in inviting a concessionaire.” It looks as though he has, like the truly well-intentioned fool that he is, scared his experts into believing that an anti-concession stand is the only decent one to take for a “Soviet” citizen. That’s a really “good turn” he has done us!

In the practical plane, the reports of the Glavneft experts (which are business-like and are strictly borne out by the “end of 1920” printed report) clarify the kind of terms we should lay down for the concessionaire.

It is, of course, “doubtful” whether a concessionaire can be found on these terms. But no politician in his right mind would consult Dosser or the experts on that.

It is up to us to make every effort to find such concessionaires.

If we don’t, so much the worse for us.

If we fail to make an all-out effort to find a concessionaire, we shall find ourselves bankrupt.

The working out of the terms must be speeded up.

An immediate start must be made in fighting a highly dangerous prejudice which could easily carry a section of the workers and which must be debunked at any cost. It is this “idea”: “We don’t want to work for the capitalists”, or its variant, “We don’t want to work for the capitalists when workers nearby are not doing it”.

The harm of it (refuted by the RCP Programme and Marxism in general) is evident from this rough calculation, which epitomises the conclusion given in the experts’ reports.

We are extracting 100a of oil.

Output is dropping.

Flooding threatens disaster.

If we get a concessionaire, who will help to extract 100a + 100b of oil, and if we have to pay him 98b for this, our output will rise, instead of dropping, even if ever so slowly (100a + 2b ).

Here is the question: are the workers who give the concessionaire 98b out of the 100b working for “the capitalists” or for the Soviet power?

There is no difficulty about the answer.

Please go over the enclosed material and reports urgently, to allow us to take a decision as soon as possible. There is extreme danger in any delay.

February 12, 1921