Letter to Alexander Tsiurupa, January 24, 1922

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Author(s) Lenin
Written 24 January 1922


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First published, but not in full, in Krasnaya Gazeta No. 14, January 16, 1927
First published in full in 1928 in Lenin Miscellany VIII
Printed from the original
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 35, pages 535-542.
Collection(s): Krasnaya Gazeta

On December 1, 1921, the Political Bureau of the CC of the RCP(b), having heard Lenin’s report on the work of Tsyurupa, endorsed his appointment as Second Deputy Chairman of the Council of Labour and Defence. On December 5, by decision of the Political Bureau Tsyurupa was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars.

NEW ARRANGEMENTS FOR THE WORK OF THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE’S COMMISSARS AND THE COUNCIL OF LABOUR AND DEFENCE

January 24, 1922

Comrade Tsyurupa,

In connection with our telephone conversation yesterday, and your promise to observe a strict regime, we need to have a detailed talk on the whole system of work, and to think it over thoroughly.

The most radical defect of the CPC and the CLD is the absence of any checking-up on fulfilment. We are being sucked down by the rotten bureaucratic swamp into writing papers, jawing about decrees, drawing up decrees— and in this sea of paper live work is being drowned.

Clever saboteurs are deliberately luring us into this paper swamp. Most of the People’s Commissars and other grandees are, quite unconsciously, “sticking their heads into the noose”.

The strict medical regime laid down for you must be used at all costs to break away from turmoil and commotion, commissions, talking and writing of papers—to break away, to think over the system of work and radically reform it.

The centre of gravity of your activities must be just this refashioning of our disgustingly bureaucratic way of work, the struggle against bureaucracy and red tape, the checking-up on fulfilment.

The checking-up on fulfilment, the checking-up on what happens in practice—this is your main and principal task. You should set up for this a little staff (four–six persons) of particularly tried and tested assistants (an office manager, his assistants, a secretary and such like).

For this purpose, in my opinion, it is essential:

(1) to relieve the CPC and the CLD of unnecessary burdens, transferring all petty questions to the Narrow Council of People’s Commissars and the procedural meetings of the CLD

This has begun. But it will “come apart” in two weeks, given our damned Oblomov ways, if it is not followed up, chased up, checked up, flogged along with three knouts.

The office manager must be taught (just as the Secretariat of the CPC and the CLD should be) to watch very closely to see that petty questions are not brought before the CPC and the CLD, and that all questions in general first go through a triple filter (an inquiry to the appropriate People’s Commissariats; their urgent reply; the same from the Codification Department, etc., etc.).

You and Gorbunov[1] must together work out written regulations for the bringing forward and consideration of questions, and check not less than once a month, you personally, whether the regulations are being observed and whether they are achieving their object, i.e., reduction of paper work, red tape, more forethought, more sense of responsibility on the part of the People’s Commissars, replacement of half-baked decrees by careful, prolonged, businesslike checking-up on fulfilment and by checking of experience, establishment of personal responsibility (in effect, we have complete irresponsibility at the top, in the People’s Commissariats and in their departments, and the saboteurs make magnificent use of this: as a result we have an Oblomov situation which wrecks all business).

I know that this is extraordinarily difficult. But just because it is difficult, you must devote yourself entirely to this matter.

Hence

(2) a minimum of sessions. The standard should be once a week for the Council of People’s Commissars + once a week for the Council of Labour and Defence, two hours each.

(3) The Supreme Economic Commission. Close down all its subcommissions as rapidly as possible, and replace them by demanding of the People’s Commissars that each of them should have responsible people to write drafts, that the People’s Commissar should endorse them, and that he himself should get them co-ordinated in the briefest possible time with all “interested” People’s Commissars and at the CLD or the CPC

The Supreme Economic Commission should exist only for co-ordination (codification) and the most rapid checking (stamping) by yourself plus Kamenev.

Only for this.

Not for talk.

Not for discussion.

(4) You are not to become a member of a single commission, not one, except the Supreme Economic Commission.

(5) To fight the outrageous abundance of commissions, replacing them by a formal demand for a written opinion in the shortest possible time.

(6) You must in this way set yourself free from commotion and turmoil, which are killing all of us, and make it possible for you to think calmly about the work as a whole

—and particularly to concentrate on checking-up on fulfilment, on fighting bureaucracy and red tape.

I beg you to think over this whole question, and to write to me.

With communist greetings,

Lenin

  1. + a codifier+1 from the Narrow Council of People’s Commissars—Lenin