Letter to RCP organisations on preparations for the Party Congress

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Dear Comrades,

The Party Congress has been appointed for March 27. The agenda of the Congress has been published, and no doubt all Party organisations have already begun to prepare for the Congress. The Central Committee of the Party deems it its duty to express certain views in connection with this work.

Our Party, which by its persistent struggle over a period of fifteen years (1903-17) had proved its bonds with the working class of Russia, its ability to combat bourgeois influences within the working class and to lead the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat in the most diverse and most difficult circumstances, naturally had to take upon itself the direct implementation of the tasks of the dictatorship of the proletariat after the October Revolution. The Congress of our Party is therefore of the utmost importance not only for the entire working-class movement, but also for the entire development of Soviet power and for the guidance of the Russian—and to a certain extent the international-communist movement.

The importance of our Party Congress in this respect is still further enhanced by the specific features of the present moment, when the Soviet government has to accomplish a most difficult transition from the military tasks that formerly absorbed its entire attention to the tasks of peaceful economic development.

The membership of our Party has greatly increased, chiefly owing to the immense influx of workers and peasants during the Party Weeks that were organised at the most difficult period of our revolution, when Yudenich and Denikin were closest to Petrograd and Moscow. The workers and peasants who joined the Party at such a critical moment constitute a fine and reliable body of leaders of the revolutionary proletariat and of the non-exploiting section of the peasantry. We are confronted with the task of helping, as rapidly, successfully and efficiently as possible, to complete the training of these new members of the Party, of helping to mould them into a body of builders of communism, people who are the most politically conscious and capable of filling the most responsible posts, and at the same time most closely connected with the masses, i.e., with the majority of the workers and of the peasants who do not exploit the labour of others.

Relevant to the specific nature of the present moment, the chief item on the agenda of the forthcoming Congress will be the question of economic development and, in particular, of the measures, ways and means, and results of having a greater proportion of workers in our chief administrations, central boards and Soviet government apparatus in general.

This must be the principal question at the Party Congress, for the principal question in the entire Soviet development in Russia (and—inasmuch as she has become the centre of the world revolution—to a large extent in international communism as well) is the transition from the fight on the bloody front to the fight on the bloodless front, the front of labour, the front of the war against economic chaos, the war for the restoration, improvement, reorganisation arid development of Russia’s entire economy.

The procurement and transportation of large state supplies of foodstuffs, the restoration of the ruined transport system, the implementation of these measures with military speed, energy and discipline; side by side with this and indivisibly from it, the greater proportion of workers employed in the Soviet government apparatus, the elimination of sabotage and red tape from this apparatus, the achievement of the maximum productivity of labour, the utmost exertion of all the forces of the country for the restoration of the economy—such is the task imperatively dictated by circumstances, an urgent task demanding methods involving the supreme revolutionary energy of millions and millions of workers and peasants.

The Party Congress must take into account the experience of the labour armies, that young and new institution; it must take into account the experience gained by the entire apparatus of Soviet government over a period of more than two years, and adopt a number of decisions permitting the whole of our Socialist Republic to concentrate all the forces of the working people with redoubled firmness, determination, energy and efficiency on achieving the best possible solution of the urgent problem of rapidly and thoroughly overcoming economic chaos.

We invite all Party members and all Party organisations to concentrate the maximum effort on this problem, both in the practical work of all Soviet institutions and in the work of preparation for the Congress. For these tasks merge into one indivisible whole.

Happily, the time for purely theoretical discussions, disputes over general questions and the adoption of resolutions on principles has passed. That stage is over; it was dealt with and settled yesterday and the day before yesterday. We must march ahead, and we must realise that we are now confronted by a practical task, the business task of rapidly overcoming economic chaos, and we must do it with all our strength, with truly revolutionary energy, and with the same devotion with which our finest worker and peasant comrades, the Red Army men, defeated Kolchak, Yudenich and Denikin.

We must march ahead, we must look ahead, and we must bring to the Congress the practical experience of economic development to which thought has been given and which has been carefully analysed by the common labour and common effort of all members of the Party.

We have learned something, and in order to march ahead and to overcome economic chaos, what we have to do is not to start anew, not to reconstruct everything right and left, but to utilise to the utmost what has already been created. There must be as little general reconstruction as possible and as many as possible business-like measures, ways, means and directions for the attainment of our chief aim which have been tested in practice and verified by results—we must have more workers in our apparatus, and see that it is done still more widely, still more rapidly and still better, we must enlist an even greater number of workers and labouring peasants in the work of administering industry and the national economy generally; not only must we enlist individual workers and peasants who have best proved themselves on the job, but we must enlist to a larger extent the trade unions and conferences of non-party workers and peasants; we must enlist literally all bourgeois specialists (because there are incredibly few of them)—i.e., specialists who have been trained under bourgeois conditions and who have reaped the fruits of bourgeois culture. We must organise things so that, in conformity with the demands of our Party Programme, our working masses may really learn from these bourgeois specialists and at the same time place them “in a comradely environment of common labour hand in hand with the masses of rank-and-file workers led by class-conscious Communists” (as our Party Programme puts it); such are our chief aims.

Comrades, we have hitherto been able to surmount the untold difficulties which history has placed in the way of the first socialist republic because the proletariat has properly understood its tasks as dictator, i.e., as the leader, organiser and teacher of all the working people. We won because we have always correctly defined the most urgent, insistent and pressing task and have really concentrated on this task the forces of all the working people, of the whole nation.

Military victories are easier to win than economic victory. It was much easier to defeat Kolchak, Yudenich and Demkmn than to defeat the old petty-bourgeois customs, relations, habits and economic conditions upheld and reproduced by millions and millions of small owners, alongside of the workers, together with them, and in the midst of them.

Victory in this field requires greater endurance, greater patience, greater persistence, greater steadfastness, greater system in work, greater organisational and administrative skill on the grand scale. This is what we, a backward nation, lack most of all.

Let all members of the Party exert their efforts to bring to the Party Congress practical experience, tested, analysed and summarised. If we bend all our efforts and succeed in pooling, testing and analysing in a careful, thoroughgoing and business-like way this practical experience, exactly what each of us has attempted and completed, or has seen others attempt and complete, then, and only then, will our Party Congress, and, following it, all our Soviet institutions, accomplish the practical task of overcoming economnic chaos as rapidly and surely as possible.

From congresses and meetings to discuss general questions to congresses and meetings to summarise practical experience—that is the slogan of our times. The task of the moment and the task of time Party Congress, as we conceive it, is to learn from practical experience, to discard what is harmful, to combine all that is valuable, in order to determine precisely a number of immediate practical measures, and to carry out these measures at all costs, not hesitating at any sacrifices.