Ninth Congress of the RCP(b)
|Written||16 March 1920|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 439-490
March 29- April 5, 1920
The Ninth Party Congress was held in Moscow from March 29 to April 5, 1920. The Congress opened in the Bolshoi Theatre with an introductory speech by Lenin. The following meetings of the Congress took place in one of the buildings of the Kremlin. Present at the Congress were 715 delegates, of whom 553 had the right to vote and 162 were delegates with voice but no vote; they represented 611,973 Party members. At the Congress there were delegates from the Party organisations of Central Russia, the Ukraine, Urals Siberia and of other districts recently liberated by the Red Army. Many delegates came to the Congress straight from the front.
The Congress adopted the following agenda: (1) Report of the Central Committee; (2) Immediate tasks of economic development; (3) Trade union movement; (4) Organisational questions; (5) Tasks of the Communist International, (6) Attitude to the co-operatives; (7) Transition to the militia system; (8) Election to the Central Committee, (9) Other business.
Lenin guided the work of the Congress. He delivered the report on the political work of the Central Committee and closed the debate on the report. He also spoke on economic development and on co- operation, and made the speech on the closing of the Congress. He submitted a proposal on the list of candidates for membership to the CC
In its resolution “The Immediate Tasks of Economic Construction” the Congress pointed out that “the basic condition of economic rehabilitation of the country is steady implementation of the single economic plan for the coming historical epoch”.
The Ninth Congress directives were taken as the basis for a plan by the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia (GOELRO); the final draft of which was approved in December 1920 by the All-Russia Congress of Soviets. It was the first long-term scientific plan in history for the economic development of a vast country; it was calculated to create the production and technical basis of socialism.
Special attention was devoted to the organisation of production management. The resolution on the question pointed out the necessity of competent, firm and energetic one-man management.
The Congress emphasised the importance of utilising the achievements of science, technology and culture in the interests of socialist economy. The Congress put forward the task of enlisting specialists into the sphere of production and of establishing the atmosphere of comradely co-operation between workers and specialists.
The factional group of Democratic Centralists (Sapronov, Osinsky, V. Smirnov and others) opposed the Party line on economic development. Using phrases about democratic centralism, this group spoke against the use of specialists, against centralised state administration, against one-man management and the personal responsibility of managers of enterprise’s; they insisted on unlimited corporate management. That group was supported at the Congress by Rykov, Tomsky, Milyutin, and Lomov, who also spoke against the principle of one-man management and claimed that corporate management was the only principle of management of industry from the Supreme Economic Council down to the management of a single factory.
The Congress resolutely denounced the democratic centralism group and rejected their anti-Party proposals.
Another important question discussed at the Congress was that of trade unions in connection with the adaptation of their work for economic tasks. The Congress severely criticised syndicalist elements (Shlyapnikov, Lozovsky, Tomsky, Lutovinov), who advocated the “independence” of trade unions and counterposed them to the Communist Party and the Soviet power. The Congress pointed out that the trade unions, as school of communism, should organise the proletarian masses, train them in the work of management, raise their cultural and political level to the standards of communism, and prepare them for the role of active builders of communism.
At its closed meeting on April 4, the Congress elected a new Central Committee of 19 members and 12 alternate members. A .A. Andreyev, F. E. Dzerzhinsky, M. I. Kalinin, V. I. Lenin, Y. E. Rudzutak, F. A. Sergeyev (Artyom) were among the newly elected CC members.
1. Opening Speech[edit source]
First of all allow me on behalf of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party to greet the delegates who have assembled for the Party Congress.
Comrades, we are opening this present Congress of the Party at a highly important moment. The internal development of our revolution has led to very big and rapid victories over the enemy in the Civil War, and, in view of the international situation, these victories, we find, are nothing more nor less than the victory of the Soviet revolution in the first country to make this revolution—a very weak and backward country—a victory over the combined forces of world capitalism and imperialism. And after these victories we may now proceed with calm and firm assurance to the immediate tasks of peaceful economic development, confident that the present Congress, having reviewed the experience of over two years of Soviet work, will be able to utilise the lesson gained in order to cope with the more difficult and complex task of economic development that now confronts us. From the international standpoint, our position has never been as favourable as it is now; and what fills us with particular joy and vigour is the news we are daily receiving from Germany, which shows that, however difficult and painful the birth of a socialist revolution may be, the proletarian Soviet power in Germany is spreading irresistibly. The part played by the German Kornilov-type putsch was similar to that of Kornilov revolt in Russia. After that a swing towards a workers’ government began, not only among the masses of urban workers, but also among the rural proletariat of Ger- many. And this swing is of historic importance. Not only is it one more absolute confirmation of the correctness of the line, but it gives us the assurance that the time is not far off when we shall be marching hand in hand with a German Soviet government. (Applause.)
I hereby open the Congress and request you to nominate a presidium.
2. Report Of The Central Committee[edit source]
Comrades, before beginning my report I must say that, like the report at the preceding Congress, it is divided into two parts: political and organisational. This division first of all leads one to think of the way the work of the Central Committee has developed in its external aspect, the organisational aspect. Our Party has now been through its first year without Y. M. Sverdlov, and our loss was bound to tell on the whole organisation of the Central Committee. No one has been able to combine organisational and political work in one person so successfully as Comrade Sverdlov did and we have been obliged to attempt to replace his work by the work of a collegium.
During the year under review the current daily work of the Central Committee has been conducted by the two collegiums elected by the plenary meeting of the Central Committee—the Organising Bureau of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. In order to achieve co-ordination and consistency in the decisions of these two bodies, the Secretary was a member of both. In practice it has become the main and proper function of the Organising Bureau to distribute the forces of the Party, and that of the Political Bureau to deal with political questions. It goes without saying that this distinction is to a certain extent artificial; it is obvious that no policy can be carried out in practice without finding expression in appointments and transfers. Consequently, every organisational question assumes a political significance; and it has become the established practice for the request of a single member of the Central Committee to be sufficient to have any question, for one reason or another, examined as a political question. To have attempted to divide the functions of the Central Committee in any other way would hardly have been expedient and in practice would hardly have achieved its purpose.
This method of conducting business has produced extremely good results: no difficulties have arisen between the two bureaus on any occasion. The work of these bodies has on the whole proceeded harmoniously, and practical implementation has been facilitated by the presence of the Secretary who acted, furthermore, solely and exclusively in pursuance of the will of the Central Committee. It must be emphasised from the very outset, so as to remove all misunderstanding, that only the corporate decisions of the Central Committee adopted in the Organising Bureau or the Political Bureau, or by a plenary meeting of the Central Committee—only these decisions were carried out by the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party. The work of the Central Committee cannot otherwise proceed properly.
After these brief remarks on the arrangement of work within the Central Committee, I shall get on with my job, which is the report of the Central Committee. To present a report on the political work of the Central Committee is a highly difficult task if understood literally. A large part of the work of the Political Bureau has this year consisted in making the current decision on the various questions of policy that have arisen, questions of co-ordinating the activities of all the Soviet and Party institutions and all organisations of the working class, of co-ordinating and doing their utmost to direct the work of the entire Soviet Republic. The Political Bureau adopted decisions on all questions of foreign and domestic policy. Naturally, to attempt to enumerate these questions, even approximately, would be impossible. You will find material for a general summary in the printed matter prepared by the Central Committee for this Congress. To attempt to repeat this summary in my report would be beyond my powers, and I do not think it would be interesting to the delegates. All of us who work in a Party or Soviet organisation keep daily track of the extraordinary succession of political questions, both foreign and domestic. The way these questions have been decided, as expressed in the decrees of the Soviet government, and in the activities of the Party organisations, at every turn, is in itself an evaluation of the Central Committee of the Party. It must be said that the questions were so numerous that they frequently had to be decided under conditions of extreme haste, and it was only because the members of the body concerned were so well acquainted with each other, knew every shade of opinion and had confidence in each other, that this work could be done at all. Otherwise it would have been beyond the powers of a body even three times the size. When deciding complex questions it frequently happened that meetings had to be replaced by telephone conversations. This was done in the full assurance that obviously complicated and disputed questions would not be overlooked. Now, when I am called upon to make a general report, instead of giving a chronological review and a grouping of subjects, I shall take the liberty of dwelling on the main and most essential points, such, moreover, as link up the experience of yesterday, or, more correctly, of the past year, with the tasks that now confront us.
The time is not yet ripe for a history of Soviet government. And even if it were, I must say for myself—and I think for the Central Committee as well—that we have no intention of becoming historians. What interests us is the present and the future. We take the past year under review as material, as a lesson, as a stepping-stone, from which we must proceed further. Regarded from this point of view, the work of the Central Committee falls into two big categories—work connected with war problems and those determining the international position of the Republic, and work of internal, peace-time economic development, which only began to come to the fore at the end of the last year perhaps, or the beginning of this year, when it became quite clear that we had won a decisive victory on the decisive fronts of the Civil War. Last spring our military situation was an extremely difficult one; as you remember, we were still to experience quite a number of defeats, of new, huge and unexpected offensives on the part of the counter-revolution and the Entente, none of which could have been anticipated by us. It was therefore only natural that the greater part of this period was devoted to the military problem, the problem of the Civil War, which seemed unsolvable to all the faint-hearted, not to speak of the parties of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries and other petty-bourgeois democrats, and to all the intermediate elements; this induced them to declare quite sincerely that the problem could not be solved, that Russia was backward and enfeebled and could not vanquish the capitalist system of the entire world, seeing that the revolution in the West had been delayed. And we therefore had to maintain our position and to declare with absolute firmness and conviction that we would win, we had to implement the slogans “Everything for victory!” and “Everything for the war!”
To carry out these slogans it was necessary to deliberately and openly leave some of the most essential needs unsatisfied, and time and again to deny assistance to many, in the conviction that all forces had to be concentrated on the war, and that we had to win the war which the Entente had forced upon us. It was only because of the Party’s vigilance and its strict discipline, because the authority of the Party united all government departments and institutions, because the slogans issued by the Central Committee were adopted by tens, hundreds, thousands and finally millions of people as one man, because incredible sacrifices were made—it was only because of all this that the miracle which occurred was made possible. It was only because of all this that we were able to win in spite of the campaigns of the imperialists of the Entente and of the whole world having been repeated twice, thrice and even four times. And, of course, we not only stress this aspect of the matter; we must also bear in mind that it teaches us that without discipline and centralisation we would never have accomplished this task. The incredible sacrifices that we have made in order to save the country from counter-revolution and in order to ensure the victory of the Russian revolution over Denikin, Yudenich and Kolchak are a guarantee of the world social revolution. To achieve this, we had to have Party discipline, the strictest centralisation and the absolute certainty that the untold sacrifices of tens and hundreds of thousands of people would help us to accomplish all these tasks, and that it really could be done, could be accomplished. And for this purpose it was essential that our Party and the class which is exercising the dictatorship, the working class, should serve as elements uniting millions upon millions of working people in Russia and all over the world.
If we give some thought to what, after all, was the underlying reason for this historical miracle, why a weak, exhausted and backward country was able to defeat the most powerful countries in the world, we shall find that it was centralisation, discipline and unparalleled self-sacrifice. On what basis? Millions of working people in a country that was anything but educated could achieve this organisation, discipline and centralisation only because the workers had passed through the school of capitalism and had been united by capitalism, because the proletariat in all the advanced countries has united—and united the more, the more advanced the country; and on the other hand, because property, capitalist property, small property under commodity production, disunites. Property disunites, whereas we are uniting, and increasingly uniting, millions of working people all over the world. This is now clear even to the blind, one might say, or at least to those who will not see. Our enemies grew more and more disunited as time went on. They were disunited by capitalist property, by private property under commodity production, whether they were small proprietors who profiteered by selling surplus grain at exorbitant prices and enriched themselves at the expense of the starving workers, or the capitalists of the various countries, even though they possessed military might and were creating a League of Nations, a “great united league” of all the foremost nations of the world. Unity of this kind is a sheer fiction, a sheer fraud, a sheer lie. And we have seen—and this was a great example—that this notorious League of Nations, which attempted to hand out mandates for the government of states, to divide up the world—that this notorious alliance proved to be a soap-bubble which at once burst, because it was an alliance founded on capitalist property. We have seen this on a vast historical scale, and it confirms that fundamental truth which told us that our cause was just, that the victory of the October Revolution was absolutely certain, and that the cause we were embarking on was one to which, despite all difficulties and obstacles, millions and millions of working people in all countries would rally. We knew that we had allies, that it was only necessary for the one country to which history had presented this honourable and most difficult task to display a spirit of self-sacrifice, for these incredible sacrifices to be repaid a hundredfold—every month we held out in our country would win us millions and millions of allies in all countries of the world.
If, after all, we give some thought to the reason we were able to win, were bound to win, we shall find that it was only because all our enemies—who were formally tied by all sorts of bonds to the most powerful governments and capitalists in the world—however united they may have been formally, actually turned out to be disunited. Their internal bond in fact disunited them, pitted them against each other. Capitalist property disintegrated them, transformed them from allies into savage beasts, so that they failed to see that Soviet Russia was increasing the number of her followers among the British soldiers who had been landed in Archangel, among the French sailors in Sevastopol, among the workers of all countries, of all the advanced countries without exception, where the social-compromisers took the side of capital. In the final analysis this was the fundamental reason, the underlying reason, that made our victory certain and which is still the chief, insuperable and inexhaustible source of our strength; and it permits us to affirm that when we in our country achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat in full measure, and the maximum unity of its forces, through its vanguard, its advanced party, we may expect the world revolution. And this in fact is an expression of will, an expression of the proletarian determination to fight; it is an expression of the proletarian determination to achieve an alliance of millions upon millions of workers of all countries.
The bourgeoisie and the pseudo-socialist gentry of the Second International have declared this to be mere propagandist talk. But it is not, it is historical reality, borne out by the bloody and painful experience of the Civil War in Russia. For this Civil War was a war against world capital; and world capital disintegrated of itself, devoured itself, amidst strife, whereas we, in a country where the proletariat was perishing from hunger and typhus, emerged more hardened and stronger than ever. In this country we won the support of increasing numbers of working people. What the compromisers formerly regarded as propagandist talk and the bourgeoisie were accustomed to sneer at, has been transformed in these years of our revolution, and particularly in the year under review, into an absolute and indisputable historical fact, which enables us to say with the most positive conviction that our having accomplished this is evidence that we possess a world-wide basis, immeasurably wider than was the case in any previous revolution. We have an international alliance, an alliance which has nowhere been registered, which has never been given formal embodiment, which from the point of view of “constitutional law” means nothing, but which, in the disintegrating capitalist world, actually means everything. Every month that we gained positions, or merely held out against an incredibly powerful enemy, proved to the whole world that we were right and brought us millions of new supporters.
This process has been a difficult one; it has been accompanied by tremendous defeats. In this very year under review the monstrous White terror in Finland was followed by the defeat of the Hungarian revolution, which was stifled by the governments of the Entente countries that deceived their parliaments and concluded a secret treaty with Rumania.
It was the vilest piece of treachery, this conspiracy of the international Entente to crush the Hungarian revolution by means of a White terror, not to mention the fact that in order to strangle the German revolution they were ready for any understanding with the German compromisers, and that these people, who had declared Liebknecht to be an honest German, pounced on this honest German like mad dogs together with the German imperialists. They exceeded all conceivable bounds; but every such act of suppression on their part only strengthened and consolidated us, while it undermined them.
And it seems to me that we must first and foremost draw a lesson from this fundamental experience. Here we must make a special point of basing our agitation and propaganda on an analysis, an explanation of why we were victorious, why the sacrifices made in the Civil War have been repaid a hundredfold, and how we must act, on the basis of this experience, in order to succeed in another war, a war on a bloodless front, a war which has only changed its form, but which is being waged against us by those same representatives, lackeys and leaders of the old capitalist world, only still more vigorously, still more furiously, still more zealously. More than any other, our revolution has proved the rule that the strength of a revolution, the vigour of its assault, its energy, determination, its victory and its triumph intensify the resistance of the bourgeoisie. The more victorious we are the more the capitalist exploiters learn to unite and the more determined their onslaught. For, as you all distinctly remember—it was not so long ago when judged by the passage of time, but a long time ago when judged by the march of events—at the beginning of the October Revolution Bolshevism was regarded as a freak; this view, which was a reflection of the feeble development and weakness of the proletarian revolution, very soon had to be abandoned in Russia and has now been abandoned in Europe as well. Bolshevism has become a world-wide phenomenon, the workers’ revolution has raised its head. The Soviet system, in creating which in October we followed the traditions of 1905, developing our own experience—this Soviet system has become a phenomenon of world-historic importance.
Two camps are now quite consciously facing each other all over the world; this may be said without the slightest exaggeration. It should be noted that only this year have they become locked in a decisive and final struggle. And now, at the time of this very Congress, we are passing through what is perhaps one of the greatest, most acute but not yet completed periods of transition from war to peace.
You all know what happened to the leaders of the imperialist powers of the Entente who loudly announced to the whole world: “We shall never stop fighting those usurpers, those bandits, those arrogators of power, those enemies of democracy, those Bolsheviks”—you know that first they lifted the blockade, that their attempt to unite the small states failed, because we succeeded in winning over not only the workers of all countries, but also the bourgeoisie of the small countries, for the imperialists oppress not only the workers of their own countries but the bourgeoisie of the small states as well. You know that we won over the vacil- lating bourgeoisie in the advanced countries. And the present position is that the Entente is breaking its former promises and assurances and is violating the treaties which, incidentally, it concluded dozens of times with various Russian whiteguards. And now, as far as these treaties are concerned, the Entente is the loser, for it squandered hundreds of millions on them but failed to complete the job.
It has now lifted the blockade and has virtually begun peace negotiations with the Soviet Republic. But it is not completing these negotiations, and therefore the small states have lost faith in it and in its might. So we see that the position of the Entente, its position in foreign affairs, defies all definition from the standpoint of the customary concepts of law. The states of the Entente are neither at peace with the Bolsheviks nor at war with them; they have recognised us and they have not recognised us. And this utter confusion among our opponents, who were so convinced that they represented something, proves that they represent nothing but a pack of capitalist beasts who have fallen out among themselves and are absolutely incapable of doing us any harm.
The position today is that Latvia has officially made peace proposals to us. Finland has sent a telegram which officially speaks of a demarcation line but actually implies a swing to a policy of peace. Lastly, Poland, the Poland whose representatives have been, and still are, sabre-rattling so vigorously, the Poland that has been, and still is, receiving so many trainloads of artillery and promises of help in everything, if only she would continue the war with Russia—even Poland, the unstable position of whose government compels her to consent to any military gamble, has invited us to begin negotiations for peace. We must be extremely cautious. Our policy demands the most careful thought. Here it is hardest of all to find the proper policy, for nobody as yet knows on what track the train is standing; the enemy himself does not know what he is going to do next. The gentlemen who represent French policy and who are most zealous in egging Poland on, and the leaders of landowner and bourgeois Poland do not know what will happen next; they do not know what they want. Today they say, “Gentlemen, let us have a few trainloads of guns and a few hundred millions and we are prepared to fight the Bolsheviks.” They are hushing up the news of the strikes that are spreading in Poland; they are tightening up the censorship so as to conceal the truth. But the revolutionary movement in Poland is growing. The spread of revolution in Germany, in its new phase, in its new stage, now that the workers, after the German Kornilov-type putsch, are creating Red Armies, plainly shows (as can be seen from the recent dispatches from Germany) that the temper of the workers is rising more and more. The Polish bourgeoisie and landowners are themselves beginning to wonder whether it is not too late, whether there will not be a Soviet Republic in Poland before the government acts either for war or for peace. They do not know what to do. They do not know what the morrow will bring.
But we know that our forces are growing vastly every month, and will grow even more in future. The result is that our international position is now more stable than ever. But we must watch the international crisis with extreme care and be prepared for any eventuality. We have received a formal offer of peace from Poland. These gentlemen are in desperate straits, so desperate that their friends, the German monarchists, people with better training and more political experience and knowledge, plunged into a venturous gamble, a Kornilov-type putsch. The Polish bourgeoisie are throwing out offers of peace because they know that any venturous gamble may prove to be a Polish Kornilov-type affair. Knowing that our enemy is in desperate straits, that our enemy does not know what he wants to do or what he will do tomorrow, we must tell ourselves quite definitely that in spite of the peace overtures war is possible. It is impossible to foretell what their future conduct will be. We have seen these people before, we know these Kerenskys, these Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. During the past two years we have seen them one day drawn towards Kolchak, the next day almost towards the Bolsheviks, and then towards Denikin—and all this camouflaged by talk about freedom and democracy. We know these gentlemen, and therefore we grasp at the proposal of peace with both hands and are prepared to make the maximum concessions, in the conviction that the conclusion of peace with the small states will further our cause infinitely more than war. For the imperialists used war to deceive the working masses, they used it to conceal the truth about Soviet Russia. Any peace, therefore, will open channels for our influence a hundred times wider, which, as it is, has grow n considerably in these past few years. The Third, Communist International has achieved unparalleled successes. But at the same time we know that war may be forced upon us any day. Our enemies do not themselves know as yet what they are capable of doing in this respect.
That war preparations are under way, of that there is not the slightest doubt. Many of the states bordering on Russia—and perhaps many of those not bordering on Russia—are now arming. That is why we must manoeuvre so flexibly in our international policy and adhere so firmly to the course we have taken, that is why we must be prepared for anything. We have waged the war for peace with extreme vigour. This war is yielding splendid results. We have made a very good showing in this sphere of the struggle, at any rate, not inferior to the showing made by the Red Army on the front where blood is being shed. But the conclusion of peace with us does not depend on the will of the small states even if they desire it. They are up to their ears in debt to the countries of the Entente, who are wrangling and competing desperately among themselves. We must therefore remember that peace is of course possible from the point of view of the world situation, the historical situation created by the Civil War and by the war against the Entente.
But the measures we take for peace must be accompanied by intensified preparedness for defence, and in no case must our army be disarmed. Our army offers a real guarantee that the imperialist powers will not make the slightest attempt or encroachment on us; for although they might count on certain ephemeral successes at first, not one of them would escape defeat at the hands of Soviet Russia. That we must realise, that must be made the basis of our agitation and propaganda, that is what we must prepare for, in order to solve the problem which, in view of our growing fatigue, compels us to combine the one with the other.
I now pass to those important considerations of principle which induced us to direct the working masses so resolutely along the lines of using the army for the solution of certain basic and immediate problems. The old source of discipline, capital, has been weakened, the old source of unity has disappeared. We must create a different kind of discipline, a different source of discipline and unity. Coercion evokes the indignation, the howls, the yells and outcries of the bourgeois democrats, who make great play of the words “freedom” and “equality”, but do not understand that freedom for capital is a crime against the working people, that equality between the rich and the destitute is a crime against the working people. In our fight against falsehood, we introduced labour conscription and proceeded to unite the working people, not hesitating to use coercion. For no revolution has ever been effected without coercion, and the proletariat has a right to exercise coercion in order to hold its own at all costs. When those gentry, the bourgeois, the compromisers, the German Independents, the Austrian Independents, and the French Longuetists, argued about the historical factor, they always forgot such a factor as the revolutionary determination, firmness and steadfastness of the proletariat. And that factor is precisely the steadfastness and firmness of the proletariat of our country, which declares, and has proved by its deeds, that we are prepared to perish to a man rather than yield our territory, rather than yield our principle, the principle of discipline and firm policy, for the sake of which everything else must be sacrificed. At the time when the capitalist countries and the capitalist class are disintegrating, at this moment of crisis and despair, this political factor is the only decisive one. Talk about minority and majority, about democracy and freedom decides nothing, however much the heroes of a past historical period may invoke them. It is the class-consciousness and firmness of the working class that count here. If the working class is prepared to make sacrifices, if it shows that it is able to strain every nerve, the problem will be solved. Everything must be directed to the solution of this problem. The determination of the working class, its inflexible adherence to the watchword “Death rather than surrender!” is not only a historical factor, it is the decisive, the winning factor.
We are now going over from this victory and this conviction to problems of peaceful economic development, the solution of which is the chief function of our Congress. In this respect we cannot, in my opinion, speak of a report of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, or, rather, of a political report of the Central Committee. We must say frankly and bluntly that this, comrades, is a question which you must decide, which you must weigh with all your authority as the supreme Party body. We have laid the question before you quite clearly. We have taken up a definite stand. It is your duty finally to endorse, correct or amend our decision. But in its report the Central Committee must say that on this fundamental and urgent question it has adopted an absolutely definite stand. Yes, the thing now is to apply to the peaceful work of economic development, to the restoration of our shattered industry, everything that can weld the proletariat into an absolute unity. Here we need the iron discipline, the iron system, without which we could not have held on for two months, let alone over two years. We must be able to utilise our success. On the other hand, it must be realised that this transition will demand many sacrifices, of which the country has already made so many.
On the principle involved the Central Committee was quite clear. Our activities were entirely governed by this policy and conducted in this spirit. Take, for example, the question of corporate management versus individual management, which you will have to settle—a question which may appear to be a subsidiary one, and which in itself, if torn from its context, cannot of course claim to be a fundamental question of principle. This question should be examined only from the point of view of our basic knowledge, experience and revolutionary practice. For instance, we are told that “corporate management is one of the forms in which the masses participate in the work of administration”. But we on the Central Committee discussed this question and took our decision, which we have to report to you—comrades, such theoretical confusion cannot be tolerated. Had we permitted a tenth part of this theoretical confusion in the fundamental question of our military activities, of our Civil War, we would have been beaten, and would have deserved to be beaten.
Permit me, comrades, in connection with the report of the Central Committee and with this question of whether the new class should participate in the work of administration on a corporate or an individual basis, to introduce a little bit of theory, to point out how a class governs and what class domination actually is. After all, we are not novices in these matters, and what distinguishes our revolution from former revolutions is that there is nothing utopian about it. The new class, having replaced the old class, can maintain itself only by a desperate struggle against other classes; and it will finally triumph only if it can bring about the abolition of classes in general. That is what the vast and complex process of the class struggle demands; otherwise you will sink into a morass of confusion. What is class domination? In what way did the bourgeoisie dominate over the feudal lords? The Constitution spoke of freedom and equality. That was a lie. As long as there are working men, property-owners are in a position to profiteer, and indeed, as property-owners, are compelled to profiteer. We declare that there is no equality, that the well-fed man is not the equal of the hungry man, that the profiteer is not the equal of the working man.
How is class domination expressed today? The domination of the proletariat consists in the fact that the landowners and capitalists have been deprived of their property. The spirit and basic idea of all previous constitutions, even the most republican and democratic, amounted to one thing—property. Our Constitution has the right, has won itself the right, to a place in history by virtue of the fact that the abolition of property is not confined to a paper declaration. The victorious proletariat has abolished property, has completely annulled it—and therein lies its domination as a class. The prime thing is the question of property. As soon as the question of property was settled practically, the domination of the class was assured. When, after that, the Constitution recorded on paper what had been actually effected, namely, the abolition of capitalist and landed property, and added that under the Constitution the working class enjoys more rights than the peasantry, while exploiters have no rights whatever—that was a record of the fact that we had established the domination of our class, thereby binding to ourselves all sections and all small groups of working people.
The petty-bourgeois property-owners are disunited; those who have more property are the enemies of those who have less property; and the proletarians, by abolishing property, have declared open war on them. There are still many unenlightened and ignorant people who are wholly in favour of any kind of freedom of trade, but who cannot fight when they see the discipline and self-sacrifice displayed in securing victory over the exploiters; they are not with us, but are powerless to come out against us. It is only the domination of a class that determines property relations and which class is to be on top. Those who, as we so frequently observe, associate the question of the nature of class domination with the question of democratic centralism create such confusion that all successful work on this basis becomes impossible. Clarity in propaganda and agitation is a fundamental condition. When our enemies said and admitted that we had performed miracles in developing agitation and propaganda, that was not to be understood in the superficial sense that we had large numbers of agitators and used up large quantities of paper, but in the intrinsic sense that the truth contained in that propaganda penetrated to the minds of all; there is no escaping from that truth.
Whenever classes displaced each other, they changed property relations. When the bourgeoisie superseded the feudals, it changed property relations; the Constitution of the bourgeoisie says: “The man of property is the equal of the beggar.” That was bourgeois freedom. This kind of “equality” ensured the domination of the capitalist class in the state. But do you think that when the bourgeoisie superseded the feudals they confused the state with the administration? No, they were no such fools. They declared that the work of administration required people who knew how to administer, and that they would adapt feudal administrators for that purpose. And that is what they did. Was it a mistake? No, comrades, the art of administration does not descend from heaven, it is not inspired by the Holy Ghost. And the fact that a class is the leading class does not make it at once capable of administering. We have an example of this: while the bourgeoisie were establishing their victory they took for the work of administration members of another class, the feudal class; there was nowhere else to get them from. We must be sober and face the facts. The bourgeoisie had recourse to the old class; and we, too, are now confronted with the task of taking the knowledge and training of the old class, subordinating it to our needs, and using it all for the success of our class. We, therefore, say that the victorious class must be mature, and maturity is attested not by a document or certificate, but by experience and practice.
When the bourgeoisie triumphed, they did not know how to administer; and they made sure of their victory by proclaiming a new constitution and by recruiting, enlisting administrators from their own class and training them, utilising for this purpose administrators of the old class. They began to train their own new administrators, fitting them for the work with the help of the whole machinery of state; they sequestrated the feudal institutions and admitted only the wealthy to the schools; and in this way, in the course of many years and decades, they trained administrators from their own class. Today, in a state which is constructed on the pattern and in the image of the dominant class, we must act as every state has acted. If we do not want to be guilty of sheer utopianism and meaningless phrase-mongering, we must say that we must take into account the experience of the past; that we must safeguard the Constitution won by the revolution, but that for the work of administration, of organising the state, we need people who are versed in the art of administration, who have state and business experience, and that there is nowhere we can turn to for such people except the old class.
Opinions on corporate management are all too frequently imbued with a spirit of sheer ignorance, a spirit of opposition to the specialists. We shall never succeed with such a spirit. In order to succeed we must understand the history of the old bourgeois world in all its profundity; and in order to build communism we must take technology and science and make them available to wider circles. And we can take them only from the bourgeoisie—there is nowhere else to get them from. Prominence must be given to this fundamental question, it must be treated as one of the basic problems of economic development. We have to administer with the help of people belonging to the class we have overthrown; they are imbued with the prejudices of their class and we must re-educate them. At the same time we must recruit our own administrators from our own class. We must use the entire machinery of state to put the schools, adult education, and all practical training at the service of the proletarians, the factory workers and the labouring peasants, under the guidance of the Communists.
That is the only way to get things going. After our two years’ experience we cannot argue as though we were only just setting about the work of socialist construction. We committed follies enough in and around the Smolny period. That is nothing to be ashamed of. How were we to know, seeing that we were undertaking something absolutely new? We first tried one way, then another. We swam with the current, because it was impossible to distinguish the right from the wrong; that requires time. Now that is all a matter of the recent past, which we have got beyond. That past, in which chaos and enthusiasm prevailed, is now over. One document from that past is the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. It is a historic document—more, it was a period of history. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was forced upon us because we were helpless in every way. What sort of period was it? It was a period of impotence, from which we emerged victorious. It was a period in which corporate management was universal. You cannot escape that historical fact by declaring that corporate management is a school of administration. You cannot stay for ever in the preparatory class of a school! (Applause.) That will not do. We are grown-up now, and we shall be beaten and beaten again in every field if we behave like schoolboys. We must push forward. We must push higher with energy and unanimity of will. Tremendous difficulties face the trade unions. We must get them to regard this task in the spirit of the fight against the survivals of the celebrated democracy. All these outcries against appointees, all this old and dangerous rubbish which finds its way into various resolutions and conversations must be swept away. Otherwise we cannot succeed. If we have failed to master this lesson in these two years, we are lagging, and those who lag, get beaten.
The task is an extremely difficult one. Our trade unions have been of tremendous assistance in building the proletarian state. They were a link between the Party and the unenlightened millions. Let us not close our eyes to the fact that the trade unions bore the brunt of the struggle against all our troubles when the state needed help in food work. Was this not a tremendous task? The recent issue of the Bulletin of the Central Statistical Board contains summaries by statisticians who certainly cannot be suspected of Bolshevism. Two interesting figures are given: in 1918 and 1919 the workers in the consuming gubernias received seven poods a year, while the peasants in the producing gubernias consumed seventeen poods a year. Before the war they used to consume sixteen poods a year. There you have two figures illustrating the relation of classes in the struggle for food. The proletariat continued to make sacrifices. People shout about coercion! But the proletariat justified and legitimatised coercion; it justified it by making the greatest sacrifices. The majority of the population, the peasants of the producing gubernias of our starving and impoverished Russia, for the first time had more food than throughout the centuries of tsarist and capitalist Russia. And we say that the masses will go on starving until the Red Army is victorious. The vanguard of the working class had to make this sacrifice. This struggle is a school; but when we leave this school we must go forward. This step must now be taken at all costs. Like all trade unions, the old trade unions have a history and a past. In the past they were organs of resistance to those who oppressed labour, to capitalism. But now that their class has become the governing class, and is being called upon to make great sacrifices, to starve and to perish, the situation has changed.
Not everybody understands this change, not everybody grasps its significance. And certain Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries who are demanding that corporate management be substituted for individual management have helped us in this matter. No, comrades, that won’t work. We have got beyond that. We are now faced with a very difficult task; having gained victory on the bloody front, we must now gain victory on the bloodless front. This war is a more difficult one. This front is the most arduous. We say this frankly to all class-conscious workers. The war which we have withstood at the front must be followed by a bloodless war. The fact is that the more we were victorious, the more regions we secured like Siberia, the Ukraine and the Kuban. In those regions there are rich peasants; there are no proletarians, and what proletariat there is, has been corrupted by petty-bourgeois habits. We know that everybody who has a piece of land in those parts says: “A fig for the government, I’ll get all I can out of the starving. A fat lot I care for the government.” The peasant profiteer who, when left to the tender mercies of Denikin, was swinging towards us will now be aided by the Entente. The war has changed its front and its forms. It is now taking the form of trade, of food profiteering, which it has made international. In Comrade Kamenev’s theses published in the Bulletin of the CC, RCP(b) the underlying principles are stated fully. They want to make food profiteering international. They want to turn peaceful economic development into the peaceful disintegration of Soviet power. No you don’t, my imperialist gentlemen! We are on our guard. We declare: we have fought and won, and we shall therefore retain as our basic slogan the one which helped us to victory; we shall fully preserve that slogan and apply it to the field of labour. That slogan is the firmness and unity of will of the proletariat. The old prejudices, the old habits that still remain, must be discarded.
I should like in conclusion, to dwell on Comrade Gusev’s pamphlet, which in my opinion deserves attention for two reasons. It is a good pamphlet not only from the formal standpoint, not only because it has been written for our Congress. Somehow, up to now we have all been accustomed to writing resolutions. They say that all literature is good except tedious literature. Resolutions, I take it, should he classed as tedious literature. It would be better if we followed Comrade Gusev’s example and wrote fewer resolutions and more pamphlets, even though they bristled with errors as his does. The pamphlet is good in spite of these errors, because it centres attention on a fundamental economic plan for the restoration of industry and production throughout the country, and because it subordinates everything to this fundamental economic plan. The Central Committee has introduced into the theses distributed today a whole paragraph taken entirely from Comrade Gusev’s theses. This fundamental economic plan can be worked out in greater detail with the help of experts. We must remember that the plan is designed for many years to come. We do not promise to deliver the country from hunger all at once. We say that the struggle will be much harder than the one on the war front. But it is a struggle that interests us more; it brings us nearer to our immediate and main tasks. It demands that maximum exertion of effort and that unity of will which we have displayed before and must display now. If we accomplish this, we shall gain no less a victory on the bloodless front than on the front of civil war. (Applause.)
3. Reply to the Discussion on the Report of the Central Committee[edit source]
Comrades, the part of the political report of the Central Committee which evoked chief attack was the one Comrade Sapronov called vituperation. Comrade Sapronov lent a very definite character and flavour to the position he defended; and in order to show you how matters actually stand, I would like to begin by reminding you of certain basic dates. Here I have before me Bulletin of the CC, RCP(b) for March 2 in which we printed a letter from the Central Committee to RCP organisations on the subject of the organisation of the Congress. And in this first letter we said: “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.”
I must confess that I was guilty of optimism in thinking that the time of theoretical discussions had passed. We had theorised for fifteen years before the revolution, we had been administering the state for two years, and it was about time we displayed practical, business-like efficiency; and so, on March 2 we appealed to comrades with practical experience. In reply, Tomsky’s theses were published in Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn on March 10, the theses of Comrades Sapronov, Osinsky and Maximovsky on March 23, and on March 27 the theses of the Moscow Gubernia Committee appeared—that is, all after our appeal to the Party. And in all the theses the question was treated wrongly from the theoretical standpoint. The view we expressed in the letter was optimistic, mistaken; it had seemed to us that this period had already passed, but the theses showed that it had not yet passed, and the comrades from the trade unions have no right to complain of having been treated unfairly. The question now is, which is right—our view, or the position advocated after our appeal of March 2 by all these theses? All of them contain a lot of practical material to which attention must be given. If the Central Committee did not give it serious attention, it would be an absolutely worthless institution.
But listen to what Comrade Tomsky says:
“§7. The basic structural principle of the regulation and management of industry, the only one that can ensure the participation of broad masses of non-party workers through the trade unions, is the existing principle of corporate management of industry, from the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council down to the factory managements. Only in special cases, and by mutual agreement between the Presidiums of the Supreme Economic Council and the All-Russia Central Trade Union Council, or the Central Committees of the trade unions concerned, should one-man management be permitted in certain enterprises, but only on the obligatory condition that control be exercised over the administrators by the trade unions and their bodies.
“§8. To ensure a single plan of economic development and co-ordination of the activities of the trade unions and the economic bodies, the participation of the trade unions in the management and regulation of industry should be based on the following principles: (a) general questions of economic policy shall be discussed by the Supreme Economic Council and its organs with the participation of the trade unions; (b) the directing economic collegiums shall be formed by the Supreme Economic Council and its organs in conjunction with the relevant trade union bodies; (c) the collegiums of economic bodies, while discussing general questions of the economic policy of any branch of production in conjunction with the trade unions and furnishing them with periodical reports on their activities, shall be regarded as organs of the Supreme Economic Council only, and shall be obliged to carry out the decisions only of that body, (d) all collegiums of economic bodies shall unreservedly carry out the decisions of the higher organs of the Supreme Economic Council, individually and corporately, and be accountable for their fulfilment only to the Supreme Economic Council.”
Here the most elementary theoretical questions are terribly muddled.
It is true that management is the job of the individual administrator; but who exactly that administrator will be—an expert or a worker—will depend on how many administrators we have of the old and the new type. That is elementary theory. Well, then, let us talk about that. But if you want to discuss the political line of the Central Committee, do not attribute to us things we did not suggest and did not say. On March 2 we appealed to the comrades to give us practical support, and what did we get in reply? From the comrades in the localities we got in reply things that are obviously wrong from the theoretical standpoint. The theses of Comrades Osinsky, Maximovsky and Sapronov that appeared on March 23 contain nothing but theoretical blunders. They say that corporate management in one form or another is an indispensable basis of democracy. I assert that you will find nothing like it in the fifteen years’ pre-revolutionary history of the Social-Democratic movement. Democratic centralism means only that representatives from the localities get together and elect a responsible body, which is to do the administering. But how? That depends on how many suitable people, how many good administrators are available. Democratic centralism means that the congress supervises the work of the Central Committee, and can remove it and appoint another in its place. But if we were to go into the theoretical errors contained in these theses, we should never be done. I personally will not deal with this any more, and will only say that the Central Committee adopted the only line that could be adopted on this question. I know very well that Comrade Osinsky, and the others do not share the views of Makhno and Makhaisky, but Makhno’s followers are bound to seize upon their arguments. They are connected with them. Take the theses of the Moscow Gubernia Committee of the Party that we have been given. It says there that in a developed socialist society, where there will be no social division of labour or fixed professions, the periodical replacement of people performing administrative functions in rotation will be possible only on the basis of a broad corporate principle, and so on and so forth. This is a sheer muddle!
We appealed to the experienced people in the localities to help us with their practical advice. Instead, we are told that the Central Committee ignores the localities. What does it ignore? Dissertations on socialist society? There is not a trace of anything practical or business-like here. Of course, we have some splendid workers, who are borrowing a lot from the intelligentsia; but sometimes they borrow the worst, not the best. Then something has to be done about it. But if in reply to an appeal of the Central Committee for practical advice you bring up questions of principle, we have to talk about those questions. We have to say that errors of principle must be combated. And the theses published since March 2 contain preposterous errors of principle.
That is what I affirm. Well, let us talk about that and argue it out. Don’t try to evade it! It is no use claiming that you are not theoreticians. Pardon me, Comrade Sapronov, your theses are the theses of a theoretician. You would see if they were put into practice that you would have to turn back and settle questions in an unbusiness-like manner. Anybody who tried to take the theses of Comrades Maximovsky, Sapronov and Tomsky as practical guidance, would be profoundly mistaken; they are fundamentally wrong. I consider that their idea of the attitude of the class to the structure of the state is fundamentally wrong and would drag us back. Naturally, it is backed by all the elements who are lagging behind and have not yet got beyond all this. And the authors of these theses are to be blamed not for deliberately advocating inefficiency, but for their theoretical mistake on the question the Central Committee asked them to discuss; a mistake which in a way provides a banner, a justification, for the worst elements. And why? From want of thought. Authentic documents prove this beyond all doubt.
I now pass to the accusation made by Comrade Yurenev in connection with Comrade Shlyapnikov. If the Central Committee had removed Comrade Shlyapnikov, as a representative of the opposition, just before the Congress, that certainly would have been infamous. When we had established that Comrade Shlyapnikov was leaving, we said in the Political Bureau that we were not giving him any instructions before his departure; and on the eve of his departure Comrade Shlyapnikov came to me and said that he was not going on the instructions of the Central Committee. And so Comrade Yurenev simply heard a rumour and is now spreading it. (Yurenev : “Shlyapnikov told me so himself. . . .”)
I do not know how he could have told you so himself, seeing that he came to me before he left and said that he was not going on the instructions of the Central Committee. Yes, of course, if the Central Committee had banished the opposition before the Congress that would have been an unpardonable thing. But, in general, when there is talk about banishing people, I say: “Well, then, just try to elect a Central Committee which could distribute forces properly without giving any cause for complaint.” How can forces be distributed so that everybody is satisfied? If forces are not distributed, how can you talk about centralism? And if there were distortions of principles, let us have instances. If you say that we banished representatives of the opposition, give us an instance, and we shall examine it, for there may have been mistakes. Perhaps Comrade Yurenev, who complained to the Political Bureau of having been wrongfully withdrawn from the Western Front—perhaps he was banished? The Political Bureau examined the matter and found it correct. And whatever Central Committee you elected, it would have to distribute its forces.
Further, as regards the division of business between the Organising Bureau and the Political Bureau. Comrade Maximovsky is more experienced in matters of organisation than I am, and he says that Lenin is mixing Organising Bureau and Political Bureau questions. Well, let us see. In our opinion, the Organising Bureau should distribute forces and the Political Bureau deal with policy. If such a division is wrong, how are the functions of these two bodies to be divided? Do you want us to write a constitution? It is difficult to draw a hard and fast line between the Political Bureau and the Organising Bureau, to delimit their functions precisely. Any question may become a political one, even the appointment of the superintendent of a building. If anyone has any other solution to suggest, please let us have it. Comrades Sapronov, Maximovsky and Yurenev, let us have your proposals; just try to divide, to delimit the Organising Bureau and the Political Bureau. As we have it, the protest of a single member of the Central Committee is enough for us to treat the question as a political one. Yet in all this time there has not been a single protest. Independence is not hampered in any way: any member of the Central Committee may declare a question to be a political one. And anybody who has any practical experience in organisation, even if he is not as competent as Comrade Maximovsky, even if he has worked in this field only six months, ought to have made a different sort of criticism from the one Comrade Maximovsky made. Let the critics make definite recommendations. We shall accept them, and advise the election of a new Central Committee, which will carry out these recommendations. But all we have had is abstract criticism and false assertions.
Let us suppose you keep the Organising Bureau away from political leadership. What, then, I ask, will political leadership amount to? Who does the leading, if not people? And how can you lead except by distributing forces? How can you compel a man to carry out instructions if he is incompetent? He is given certain instructions, his work is checked, and finally he is put on another job. What more must we do to bring this home to Comrades Maximovsky, Sapronov and Osinsky, who in their theses propose a theoretical amendment that was rejected long ago? What they are doing in practice is even worse, and they are making it quite clear that they have no material for serious criticism.
I heard one practical point in Comrade Sapronov’s speech and jumped at it. Comrade Sapronov said: “The Seventh Congress of Soviets gave a ruling, and we are violating it; the decree on requisitioning flax is an infringement of the decision of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.” I cannot remember even a tenth of the decrees we pass. But I made inquiries in the Secretariat of the Council of People’s Commissars about the regulations governing flax procurements. The decree was passed on February 10. And what has happened? There is not a comrade, whether on the Political Bureau or on the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, who is opposed to independent initiative. We have seen them all here on this platform. Comrades know that they can speak for themselves. Why did they not appeal against this decision? Let us have your complaints! There was no such complaint after February 10. After a long fight, we adopted this decision, which was proposed by Comrade Rykov and agreed to by Comrade Sereda and the People’s Commissariat of Food. “You have made a mistake!” we are told. Perhaps we have. Correct us. Submit this question to the Political Bureau. That will be a formal decision. Let us have the minutes. If they show that we have violated a decision of the Congress, we ought to be put on trial. Where is the charge? On the one hand, they reproach us on account of Shlyapnikov; on the other, they say that the flax business was a violation of a decision. Be good enough to bring facts to show that we violated the decision. But you do not bring any facts. All your words are mere words: initiative, appointments, and so on. Why then have centralism? Could we have held out for even two months if we had made no appointments during this period, during these two years when in various places we passed from complete exhaustion and disruption to victory again? Just because you are displeased with the recall of Comrade Shlyapnikov or Comrade Yurenev, you fling these words among the crowd, among the unenlightened masses. Comrade Lutovinov says that the question has not been settled. It will have to be settled. If two people’s commissars differ in their opinion of Ivan Ivanovich, and one says that a question of policy is involved, what is to be done? What method do you propose? Do you think that it is only in the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee that tedious questions arise? Let me tell you that there is not a single institution where tedious questions do not arise, and we all have to deal with questions of Maria Ivanovna and Sidor Ivanovich. But you cannot say that no politics are involved here, for politics fill all minds. Comrade Lutovinov had—I do not know how to put it; I fear to offend Comrade Sapronov’s delicate ear and I shrink from using a polemical expression—but he said that Comrade Krestinsky threatened to bring about a split. A meeting of the Bureau was held on the subject. We have the minutes of the Bureau, and I would ask all the Congress delegates to take these minutes and read them. We came to the conclusion that Comrade Krestinsky was hot-headed and that you, Comrade Lutovinov and Comrade Tomsky, had raised a very malodorous scandal. Perhaps we were wrong—then correct our decision; but it is preposterous to say what you said, without having read the documents and without mentioning that there was a special meeting and that the matter was investigated in the presence of Tomsky and Lutovinov.
There are two other points I still have to deal with. First, the appointment of Comrades Bukharin and Radek. It is said that we sent them to the All-Russia Central Trade Union Council as political commissars, and the attempt is being made here to represent this as a violation of independence, as bureaucracy. Perhaps you know better theoreticians than Radek and Bukharin. Then by all means let us have them. Perhaps you know people better acquainted with the trade union movement. Let us have them. Do you mean to say that the Central Committee has no right to reinforce a trade union with people who have the best theoretical knowledge of the trade union movement, who are acquainted with the experience of the Germans, and who can counteract an incorrect line? A Central Committee which did not do that could not be a directing body. The more we are surrounded by peasants and Kuban Cossacks the more difficulties we have with the proletarian dictatorship. Therefore the line must be straightened out at all costs and made as hard as steel, and this is the line we recommend to the Party Congress.
Comrade Bubnov told us here that he has close connections with the Ukraine and thereby betrayed the true character of his objections. He said that the Central Committee is responsible for the growing strength of the Borotba Party. This is a very complex and important issue, and I think in this important issue, which demanded manoeuvring, and very complex manoeuvring at that, we emerged victorious. When we said in the Central Committee that the maximum concessions should be made to the Borotbists, we were laughed at and told that we were not following a straight line. But you can fight in a straight line when the enemy’s line is straight. But when the enemy moves in zigzags, and not in a straight line, we have to follow him and catch him at every turn. We promised the maximum concessions to the Borotbists, but on condition that they pursued a communist policy. In this way we showed that we are in no way intolerant. And that these concessions were made quite rightly is shown by the fact that all the best elements among the Borotbists have now joined our Party. We have carried out a re-registration of this party, and instead of a revolt of the Borotbists, which seemed inevitable, we find that, thanks to the correct policy of the Central Committee, which was carried out so splendidly by Comrade Rakovsky, all the best elements among the Borotbists have joined our Party under our control and with our recognition, while all the rest have disappeared from the political scene. This victory was worth a couple of good tussles. So anybody who says that the Central Committee is guilty of strengthening the Borotbists does not understand the political line on the national question.
I shall just touch on the speech of the last comrade, who said that everything in the programme about the trade unions should be deleted. There you have an example of hastiness. We don’t do things so simply. We say that nothing should be deleted, that the question should be discussed in pamphlets, articles in the press, and so on. The trade unions are heading for the time when they will take economic life, namely industry, into their hands. The talk about not admitting bourgeois specialists into the trade unions is a prejudice. The trade unions are educational bodies, and strict demands must be made on them. The Central Committee will not tolerate bad educators. Education is a long and difficult business. A decree is not enough here; patient and skilful handling is required. And that is what we are aiming at and will continue to aim at. It is a matter in which we must be cautious but firm.
4. Speech On Economic Development[edit source]
Comrades, first two brief remarks. Comrade Sapronov continued to accuse me of forgetfulness, but the question he raised he left unexplained. He continued to assure us that the flax requisitioning decree is a violation of the decision of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. I maintain that you cannot hurl unsupported accusations, very serious accusations, at a Party Congress in that way. Of course, if the Council of People’s Commissars has violated a decision of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee it should be put on trial. But how is it that from February 10 to this day no complaint has been received that this decree is a violation? All we get is an absolutely unsupported accusation of the sort that are handed out easily enough, but such methods of fighting are not to be taken seriously.
Comrade Milyutin says that there are practically no points of difference between us, and that therefore it looks as if Lenin opposes squabbling and himself provokes this squabble. But Comrade Milyutin is distorting things somewhat, which he ought not to do. The first draft of the resolution, compiled by Comrade Trotsky, was then edited corporately in the Central Committee. We sent this draft to Comrades Milyutin and Rykov. They returned it with the statement that they would give battle on it. This is what actually happened. After we had developed agitation and obtained allies, they organised an all-round opposition at the Congress; and it was only when they saw that nothing would come of it that they began to say they were almost in agreement. That is so, of course; but you must carry it through to the end and admit that your agreement means that you failed completely after the opposition came forward here and tried to consolidate itself on the issue of corporate management. Only after Comrade Milyutin had spoken for fifteen minutes, and his time was up, did it occur to him that it would be well to put the matter on a practical footing. He was quite right there. But I am afraid it is too late: although Comrade Rykov has still to close the discussion, the opposition cannot be saved. If the advocates of corporate management had during the past two months practised what they preached, if they had given us even a single example—not by saying there is a certain director and an assistant, but by an inquiry promoting a detailed investigation of the problem, comparing corporate management with individual management as was decided by the Congress of Economic Councils and by the Central Committee—we would have been much the wiser; at the Congress we would then have had something more than not very relevant discussions of principle, and the advocates of corporate management might have furthered matters. Their position would have been a strong one if they could have produced even ten factories with similar conditions managed on the corporate principle and compared them in a practical manner with the state of affairs in factories with similar conditions, but managed on the individual principle. We could have allowed any speaker an hour for such a report, and he would have furthered matters considerably. We might perhaps have established practical gradations in this question of corporate management. But the whole point is that none of them, neither the Economic Council members nor the trade unionists, who should have had practical data at their disposal, gave us anything, because they had nothing to give. They have nothing, absolutely nothing!
Comrade Rykov objected here that I want to remake the French Revolution, that I deny that the bourgeoisie grew up within the feudal system. That is not what I said. What I said was that when the bourgeoisie replaced the feudal system they took the feudal lords and learned from them how to administer; and this in no way contradicts the fact that the bourgeoisie grew up within the feudal system. And as for my thesis that, after it has seized power, the working class begins to put its principles into effect, nobody, absolutely nobody, has refuted it. After it has seized power, the working class maintains it, preserves it and consolidates it as every other class does, namely, by a change of property relations and by a new constitution. That is my first and fundamental thesis; and it is incontrovertible. My second thesis that every new class learns from its predecessor and takes over administrators from the old class, is also an absolute truth. And, lastly, my third thesis is that the working class must increase the number of administrators from its own ranks, establish schools, and train executives on a nation-wide scale. These three theses are indisputable, and they fundamentally contradict the theses of the trade unions.
At the meeting of the group, when we examined their theses, and when Comrade Bukharin and I were defeated, I told Comrade Tomsky that article 7 in the theses is the result of complete theoretical confusion. It says:
“The basic structural principle of the regulation and management of industry, the only one that can ensure the participation of broad masses of non-party workers through the trade unions, is the existing principle of corporate management of industry, from the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council down to the factory managements. Only in special cases, and by mutual agreement between the Presidiums of the Supreme Economic Council and the All-Russia Central Trade Union Council, or the Central Committees of the trade unions concerned should one-man management be permitted in certain enterprises but only on the obligatory condition that control be exercised over the administrators by the trade unions and their bodies.”
This is sheer nonsense, because everything—the role of the working class in winning state power, the interrelation of methods—everything is muddled! Such things cannot be tolerated. Such things drag us back theoretically. The same must be said of the democratic centralism of Comrades Sapronov, Maximovsky and Osinsky. Comrade Osinsky forgets that when he comes forward and claims that I call democratic centralism nonsense. You cannot distort things in that way! What has the question of appointments, of endorsement by local organisations, got to do with it? You can have things endorsed by collegiums and you can also appoint collegiums. That has nothing to do with the case. They say that democratic centralism consists not only in the All-Russia Central Executive Committee ruling; but in the All-Russia Central Executive Committee ruling through the local organisations. What has corporate management or individual management got to do with it?
Comrade Trotsky recalled his report made in 1918 and, reading the speech he then made, pointed out that at that time not only did we argue about fundamental questions but a definite decision was taken by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. I dug up my old pamphlet The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government, which I had completely forgotten, and find that the question of individual management was not only raised but even approved in the theses of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. We work in such a way that we forget not only what we ourselves have written but even what has been decided by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, and subsequently dig up these decisions. Here are some passages from this pamphlet.
“Those who deliberately (although most of them probably do not realise it) promote petty-bourgeois laxity would like to see in this granting of ‘unlimited’ (i.e., dictatorial) powers to individuals a departure from the collegiate principle, from democracy and from the principles of Soviet government. Here and there, among Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, a positively hooligan agitation, i.e., agitation appealing to the base instincts and to the small proprietor’s urge to ‘grab all he can’, has been developed against the dictatorship decree. . . .
“Large-scale machine industry—which is precisely the material source, the productive source, the foundation of socialism—calls for absolute and strict unity of will, which directs the joint labours of hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of people. The technical, economic and historical necessity of this is obvious, and all those who have thought about socialism have always regarded it as one of the conditions of socialism” . . . this is the only way in which “strict unity of will can be ensured. . . .
“But be that as it may, unquestioning subordination to a single will is absolutely necessary for the success of processes organised on the pattern of large-scale machine industry. On the railways it is twice and three times as necessary. . . .
“And our whole task, the task of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), which is the class-conscious vehicle of the strivings of the exploited for emancipation, is to appreciate this change, to understand that it is necessary, to stand at the head of the exhausted people who are wearily seeking a way out and lead them along the true path, along the path of labour discipline, along the path of co-ordinating the task of arguing at mass meetings about the conditions of work with the task of unquestioningly obeying the will of the Soviet leader, of the dictator, during the work. . . .
“It required precisely the October victory of the working people over the exploiters, it required a whole historical period in which the working people themselves could first of all discuss the new conditions of life and the new tasks, in order to make possible the durable transition to superior forms of labour discipline, to the conscious appreciation of the necessity for the dictatorship of the proletariat, to unquestioning obedience to the orders of individual representatives of the Soviet government during the work. . . .
“We must learn to combine the ‘public meeting’ democracy of the working people—turbulent, surging, overflowing its banks like a spring nood with iron discipline while at work, with unquestioning obedience to the will of a single person, the Soviet leader, while at work.”
On April 29, 1918, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee adopted a resolution fully endorsing the basic propositions set forth in this report and instructed its Presidium to recast them as theses representing the principal tasks of the Soviet government. We are thus reiterating what was approved two years ago in an official resolution of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee! And we are now being dragged back on a matter that was decided long ago, a matter which the All-Russia Central Executive Committee endorsed and explained, namely, that Soviet socialist democracy and individual management and dictatorship are in no way contradictory, and that the will of a class may sometimes be carried out by a dictator, who sometimes does more alone and is frequently more necessary. At any rate, the attitude towards the principles of corporate management and individual management was not only explained long ago, but was even endorsed by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. In this connection our Congress is an illustration of the sad truth that instead of advancing from the explanation of questions of principle to concrete questions, we are advancing backward. Unless we get away from this mistake we shall never solve the economic problem.
I should also like to say a few words about certain remarks of Comrade Rykov’s. He asserts that the Council of People’s Commissars is putting obstacles in the way of the amalgamation of the commissariats running the economy. And when Comrade Rykov is told that he wants to swallow up Comrade Tsyurupa, he replies, “I don’t care if it is Tsyurupa that swallows me up, as long as the economic commissariats are amalgamated.” I know where this leads, and I must say that the attempt of the Supreme Economic Council to form a sort of separate bloc of the economic commissariats, separate from the Council of Defence and the Council of People’s Commissars, did not pass unnoticed by the Central Committee, and met with disfavour. The Council of Defence has now been renamed the Council of Labour and Defence. You want to separate yourselves from the Commissariat of the Army, which is giving its best forces to the war and is an institution without which you cannot even carry out labour conscription. And we cannot carry out labour conscription without the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs either. Take the post office; we cannot send a letter without the Commissariat of Posts and Telegraphs. Take the People’s Commissariat of Health. How will you conduct the economy if seventy per cent are down with typhus? What it amounts to is that every matter must be co-ordinated and referred to an economic commissariat. Is not such a plan absolutely absurd? Comrade Rykov had no serious argument. That is why it was opposed and the Central Committee did not support it.
Further, Comrade Rykov joked about a bloc with Comrade Holtzmann, which Comrade Trotsky seems to be forming. I should like to say a few words on this. A bloc is always needed between Party groups that are in the right. That should always be regarded as an essential condition for a correct policy. If Comrade Holtzmann, whom, I regret to say, I know very little, but of whom I have heard as a representative of a certain trend among the metalworkers, a trend that particularly insists on sensible methods—which I stress in my theses, too—if it, is on these grounds that he insists on individual management, that, of course, can only be extremely useful. A bloc with this trend would be an exceedingly good thing. If the representation of the trade unions on the Central Committee is to be increased, it would be useful to have on it representatives of this trend too—though it may be wrong on certain points, it is at least original and has a definite shade of opinion of its own—side by side with the extremist champions of corporate management who are battling in the name of democracy but who are mistaken. Let them both be represented on the Central Committee—and you will have a bloc. Let the Central Committee be so constituted that, with the help of a bloc, a field of operation may be found that functions all the year round, and not only during the week a Party Congress is held. We have always rejected the principle of regional representation, because it leads to a lot of regional cliquism. When it is a question of closer fusion with the trade unions, of being alive to every shade of opinion in the trade unions, of maintaining contacts—it is essential for the Central Committee to be constituted in such a way as to have a transmission belt to the broad masses of the trade unions (we have 600,000 Party members and 3,000,000 trade union members) to connect the Central Committee simultaneously with the united will of the 600,000 Party members and the 3,000,000 trade union members. We cannot govern without such a transmission belt. The more we won back of Siberia, the Kuban area and the Ukraine, with their peasant population, the more difficult the problem became, and the more laboriously the machine revolved, because in Siberia the proletariat is numerically small, and it is weaker in the Ukraine too. But we know that the Donets Basin and Nikolayev workers have bluntly refused to defend the semi-demagogic corporate principle into which Comrade Sapronov has lapsed. There can be no question but that the proletarian element in the Ukraine differs from the proletarian element in Petrograd, Moscow and Ivanovo Voznesensk—not because it is no good, but for purely historical reasons. They did not have occasion to become, so steeled by hunger, cold and strife as the proletarians of Moscow and Petrograd. We therefore need such a bond with the trade unions, such a form of organisation of the Central Committee, as would enable it to know every shade of opinion, not only among the 600,000 Party members, but also among the 3,000,000 trade union members, so that it may be able at any moment to lead them all as one man! Such an organisation is essential. That is the basic factor, the political factor without which the dictatorship of the proletariat will not be a dictatorship. If we are to have a bloc, let it be a real bloc! We should not be afraid of it, but should welcome it and practise it more vigorously and more extensively right in the central institutions of the Party.
5. Speech On The Co-Operatives[edit source]
It was only last night and today that I have had an opportunity of partially acquainting myself with the two resolutions. I think that the resolution of the minority of the commission is the more correct. Comrade Milyutin attacked it with a great battery of terrifying words: he discovered half measures in it, even quarter-measures; he accused it of opportunism. But it seems to me that the devil is not as black as he is painted. If you get down to the root of the matter you will see that Comrade Milyutin, who tried to give the matter a basis in principle, showed by his own arguments that the resolution he advocated was incorrect and unsuitable specifically from the standpoint of practice and of Marxism. It is incorrect for the following reasons; Milyutin stated that his resolution, the resolution of the majority of the commission, advocated fusion with the volost executive committees, subordination to the volost executive committees, and that is why he sees in his resolution directness and decisiveness as compared with the insufficiently revolutionary character of the minority resolution. During the long course of our revolutionary campaign we have seen that whenever we made proper preparations for our revolutionary actions they were crowned with success; but that when they were merely imbued with revolutionary fervour they ended in failure.
What does the resolution of the minority of the commission say? The resolution of the minority says: direct your attention to intensifying communist work in the consumers’ societies and to securing a majority within them; first make ready the organs to which you want to hand them over, then you can hand them over. Compare this with the line pursued by Milyutin. He says: the co-operatives are no good, therefore hand them over to the volost executive committees. But have you a communist basis in the co-operatives you want to hand over? The essence of the matter—preparation—is ignored; only the ultimate slogan is given. If this communist work has been done, and organs have been set up to take them over and guide them, the transfer is quite natural, and there is no need to proclaim it at a Party congress. But have you not been threatening the peasants enough? Has not the Supreme Economic Council shaken its fist enough at the peasants and the co-operatives in the matter of the flax procurement? If you recall the practical experience of our work in the localities and in the Council of People’s Commissars, you will admit that this is a wrong attitude to take, and that the right resolution is the one which declares that the work of communist education and the training of executives are necessary, for otherwise the transfer will be impossible.
The second question of cardinal importance is that of contacts with the consumers’ co-operatives. Here Comrade Milyutin says something utterly inconsistent. If the consumers’ co-operatives are not fulfilling all their assignments—which is what we have been saying for two years in a number of decrees directed against the kulaks—it must be remembered that government measures against the kulaks can also be applied against the co-operative societies. And this is being done in full. The most important thing at the moment is to increase production and the quantity of goods. If the consumers’ co-operatives do not get this done, they will be punished for it. But if, owing to their connection with the producers’ co-operatives, they give even a small increase of products, we must welcome it and foster the initiative. If the consumers’ co-operatives, in spite of their closer, intimate local connections with production, do not show an increase, it will mean that they have not fulfilled the direct assignment of the Soviet government. If there are even two or three energetic comrades in a district who are prepared to combat the kulaks and the bourgeoisie, victory is assured. In what way was Comrade Chuchin’s initiative thwarted? He did not cite a single instance. But the idea that we must link up the producers’ co-operatives with the consumers’ cooperatives and agree to any concession that may increase the amount of products in the near future follows logically from our experience of the past two years. It in no way hampers either communist functionaries or Soviet officials in their war on the kulak co-operative, the bourgeois type of co-operative. Far from hampering them, it provides them with a new weapon. If you succeed in organising anything at all we shall give you a bonus; but if you do not fulfil this assignment we shall punish you, not only because you are counter-revolutionary-we have the Cheka for that, as was rightly pointed out here-no, we shall punish you for not fulfilling the assignment of the state, of the Soviet government and the proletariat.
Comrade Milyutin has not produced a single sound argument against amalgamating the consumers’ co-operativesall ho said was that this seemed to him to be opportunism or a half-measure. This is strange coming from Comrade Milyutin, who, with Comrade Rykov, was prepared to make big strides, hut discovered that lie cannot even make a tenth of one stride. From this aspect, connections with the consumers’ cooperatives will ho an advantage; they will make it possible to tackle production immediately. All means are available to prevent interference in political matters; and as to obedience in the production and economic sphere, that depends entirely on the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture and the Supreme Economic Council. These means are adequate for you to be able to control the co-operatives.
I now come to the third question, the question of nationalisation, which Milyutin advocated in a way that was strange to hear. A commission was set up. Comrade Krestinsky was in a minority on the commission and Comrade Mi. lyutin was the victor. But now he says: "On the question of nationalisation I am prepared not to argue." Then what was the commission arguing about? If your standpoint is the same as Comrade Chuchin’s you are wrong in renouncing nationalisation. It has been asked here why, if the capitalists have been nationalised, the kulaks cannot be nationalised too. It is not surprising that this argument evoked hilarity. For however you count the well-to-do peasants, those who exploit the labour of others, you will find there are no less than half a million, perhaps even something like a million. How do you propose to nationalise them? It is fantastic. We have not the means for that as yet.
Comrade Chuchin is quite right when he says that there are a lot of counter-revolutionaries in the co-operatives. But that is a horse of another colour. What was said about the Cheka was quite in place here. If you are too shortsighted to expose individual leaders of the co-operatives, then just install one Communist to detect the counter-revolution; if he is a good Communist—and a good Communist has the qualities of a good member of the Cheka—he should, when assigned to a consumers’ society, bag at least two counter-revolutionary co-operators.
That is why Comrade Chuchin is wrong when he advocates immediate nationalisation. It would be a good thing, but it is impossible, for we are dealing with a class which is least susceptible to our influence and which certainly cannot be nationalised. We have not even nationalised all the industrial enterprises. By the time an order of the chief administrations and central boards reaches the localities it becomes absolutely ineffective; it is completely lost in a sea of documents, because of lack of roads and telegraph, etc. It is therefore impossible to speak of the nationalisation of the co-operatives as yet. Comrade Milyutin is wrong in principle too. He feels that his position is weak and thinks that he can simply withdraw this point. But in that case, Comrade Milyutin, you are undermining your own resolution, you are issuing a certificate to the effect that the resalution of the minority is right; for the spirit of your resolution—to subordinate them to the volost executive committees (that is exactly what is said ill the first clause—"take measures")is a Cheka spirit, wrongly introduced into an economic issue. The other resolution says that the first thing to do is to increase the number of Communists, to intensify communist propaganda and agitation-that a basis must be created. There is nothing grandiloquent here, no immediate promises of a land flowing with milk and honey. But if there are Communists in the localities, they will know what has to be done, and there will be no need for Comrade Chillchin to explain where counter-revolutionaries should be taken to. Secondly, an organ must be created. Create an organ and test it in action, check whether production is increasing-that is what the resolution of the minority says. First of all create a basis, and then-then we shall see. What has to be done will follow from this of itself. We have enough decrees saying that counter-revolutionaries should he handed over to the Choke, and if there is no Cheka, to the Revolutionary Committee. We need less of this fist-shaking. We must adopt the resolution of the minority, which lays down a basic line of policy.
6. Speech Closing The Congress[edit source]
Comrades, in making a brief summary of the work of our Congress we must, in my opinion, first of all dwell upon the tasks of our Party. The Congress has adopted a detailed resolution on the question of organisation, and as might have been expected, a very important place in that resolution is occupied by the question of the education, the training, the organisational deployment of the members of our Party. The Credentials Committee has reported that over 600,000 members of our Party are represented at this Congress. We are all fully aware of the tremendous difficulties the Party has had to cope with in these strenuous times, when measures had to be taken to prevent the worst elements, the offal of the old capitalist system, from seeping into the government party, from fastening themselves on to it—it is naturally an open party, for it is the government party, and as such opens the way to power. One of these measures was the institution of Party Weeks. Under such conditions, at such moments, when the Party and the movement were in exceptionally trying situations, when Denikin stood north of Orel, and Yudenich within fifty versts of Petrograd, it was only people who were sincerely devoted to the cause of the emancipation of the working people who could have joined the Party.
Such conditions will not occur again, at least not in the near future, and it must be said that the huge membership (as compared with previous congresses) our Party has attained gives rise to a certain apprehension. And there is one very real danger, which is that the rapid growth of our Party has not always been commensurate with the extent to which we have educated this mass of people for the performance of the tasks of the moment. We must always bear in mind that this army of 600,000 must be the vanguard of the working class, and that we should scarcely have been able to carry out our tasks during these two years if it had not been for iron discipline. The basic condition for the maintenance and continuance of strict discipline is loyalty; all the old means and sources of discipline have ceased to exist, and we base our activities solely on a high degree of understanding and political consciousness. This has enabled us to achieve a discipline which is superior to that of any other state and which rests on a basis different from that of the discipline which is being maintained with difficulty, if it can be maintained at all, in capitalist society. We must therefore remember that our task in the coming year, after the brilliant successes achieved in the war, is not so much the growth of the Party as work inside the Party, the education of the membership of our Party. It is not for nothing that our resolutions on organisation devote as much space as possible to this question.
We must spare no effort to make this vanguard of the proletariat, this army of 600,000 members, capable of coping with the tasks that confront it. And it is confronted by tasks of gigantic international and internal importance. As to the international tasks, our international position has never been as good as it is now. News about the life of the workers abroad seldom reaches us, yet every time you receive a couple of letters or a few issues of European or American working-class socialist newspapers you experience real pleasure, because everywhere, in all parts of the world, you see among masses formerly entirely untouched by propaganda, or steeped in wretched opportunism, in purely parliamentary socialism, a tremendous growth of interest in the Soviet power, in the new tasks, a growth much greater than we imagine; everywhere you see intense revolutionary movement, ferment, and revolution has become a current issue.
I had occasion yesterday to glance through an issue of the newspaper of the British Socialist Labour Party. The British workers, whose leaders were intellectuals and who for decades were distinguished by their contempt for theory, are talking in quite definite tones; and the paper shows that the British workers are now taking an interest in the question of revolution, that there is a growing interest in the fight against revisionism, opportunism, and parliamentary socialism, the social-treachery we have got to know so well. This struggle is becoming an issue of the day. We can say quite definitely that our American Comrade R., who has published a voluminous book containing a number of articles by Trotsky and myself, thus giving a summary of the history of the Russian revolution, was quite right when he said that the French Revolution was victorious on a world-wide scale, and that, if it was directly crushed, it was only because it was surrounded on the European continent by more backward countries, in which a movement of emulation, sympathy and support could not immediately arise. The Russian revolution, which, owing to the yoke of tsarism and a number of other factors (continuity with 1905, etc.), started before the others, is surrounded by countries which are on a higher level of capitalist development and are approaching the revolution more slowly, but more surely, durably and firmly. We find that with every year, and even with every month, the number of supporters and friends of the Soviet Republic is increasing tenfold, a hundredfold, a thousandfold in every capitalist country; and it must be said that we have more friends and allies than we imagine!
The attempt of world imperialism to crush us by military force has collapsed completely. The international situation has now given us a much longer and more durable respite than the one we had at the beginning of the revolution. But we must remember that this is nothing more than a respite. We must remember that the whole capitalist world is armed to the teeth and is only waiting for the moment, choosing the best strategical conditions, and studying the means of attack. We must never under any circumstances forget that all the economic power and all the military power is still on its side. We are still weak on an international scale, but we are rapidly growing and gaining strength, wresting one weapon after another from the hands of the enemy. But the enemy is lurking in wait for the Soviet Republic at every step. International capital has definite designs, a calculated plan, now that the blockade has been removed, to unite, to fuse, to weld together international food speculation, international freedom of trade, with our own internal food speculation, and on the basis of this speculation to pave the way for a new war against us, to prepare a new series of traps and pitfalls.
And this brings us to that fundamental task which constituted the chief theme, the chief object of attention of our Congress. That is the task of development. In this respect the Congress has done a lot. A resolution has been unanimously adopted on the principal question, the question of economic development and transport. And now, by means of Party education, we shall be able to get this resolution carried into effect by the three million working-class members of the trade unions, acting as one man. We shall ensure that this resolution channels all our strength, discipline and energy to the restoration of the country’s economic life—first of all to the restoration of the railways, and then to the improvement of the food situation.
We have now quite a number of subjects for propaganda and every item of news we get from abroad and every new dozen members of the Party provide us with fresh material. Propaganda must be carried on systematically, without the dispersion and division of forces. We must bear firmly in mind that we achieved successes and performed miracles in the military sphere because we always concentrated on the main and fundamental thing, and solved problems in a way that capitalist society could not solve them. The point is that in capitalist society everything that particularly interests the citizens—their economic conditions, war and peace—is decided secretly, apart from society itself. The most important questions—war, peace, diplomatic questions—are decided by a small handful of capitalists, who deceive not only the masses, but very often parliament itself. No parliament in the world has ever said anything of weight on the question of war and peace. In capitalist society the major questions affecting the economic life of the working people—whether they are to live in starvation or in comfort—are decided by the capitalist—who is the lord, a god! In all capitalist countries, including the democratic republics, the attention of the people is diverted at such times by the corrupt bourgeois press, which wears the label of freedom of speech, and which will invent and circulate anything to fool and deceive the masses. In our country, on the other hand, the whole apparatus of state power, the whole attention of the class-conscious worker have been entirely and exclusively centred on the major and cardinal issue, on the chief task. We have made gigantic progress in this way in the military sphere, and we must now apply our experience to the economic sphere.
We are effecting the transition to socialism, and the most urgent question—bread and work—is not a private question, not the private affair of an employer, but the affair of the whole of society, and any peasant who thinks at all must definitely realise and understand that if the government raises the question of the railways in its whole press, in every article, in every newspaper issue, it is because it is the common affair of all. This work to develop the country will lead the peasant out of the blindness and ignorance that doomed him to slavery; it will lead him to real liberty, to a state of affairs in which the working folk will be aware of all the difficulties that confront them and will direct all the forces of public organisation, all the forces of the state apparatus, all the forces of agitation to the simplest and most essential things, rejecting all the tinsel and trimmings, all the playing at resolutions and the artful promises which form the subject of the newspaper agitation of all capitalist countries. All our forces, all our attention must be centred on these simple economic tasks, which are clear to every peasant, to which the middle, even the well-to-do, peasant, if he is at all honest, cannot object, and which we are always absolutely right in raising at every meeting. Even the masses of the least politically-conscious workers and peasants will confirm that the chief thing at the moment is to restore the economy in a way that will prevent it from falling again into the hands of the exploiters and will not offer the slightest indulgence to those who, having a surplus of grain in a starving country, use it to enrich themselves and to make the poor starve. You will not find a single man, however ignorant and unenlightened, who does not have the feeling that this is unjust, to whom the idea has not occurred, vague and unclear perhaps, that the arguments of the supporters of the Soviet government fully accord with the interests of the working people.
It is to these simple tasks, which in the big capitalist societies are kept in the background and are regarded as the private affair of the bosses, that we must direct the attention of the whole army of 600,000 Party members, among whom we must not tolerate a single one who does not do his duty; and for the sake of this we must get the whole mass of the workers to join us and to display the greatest self-sacrifice and devotion. It will be difficult to organise this, but since, from the point of view of the working people it is just, it has tremendous moral weight and immense power of conviction. And so, confident that, thanks to the work of the Congress, this task can now be accomplished as brilliantly as we accomplished the military task (although again at the price of a number of defeats and mistakes), we may say that the workers of all European and American countries are now looking towards us, looking with expectancy to see whether we shall accomplish the more difficult task confronting us—for it is more difficult than the achievement of military victory. It cannot be accomplished by enthusiasm, by self-sacrifice and heroic fervour alone. In this work of organisation, in which we Russians have been weaker than others in this work of self-discipline, in this work of rejecting the incidental and striving for the main thing, nothing can be done in a hurry. And in this sphere of requisitioning grain, repairing the railways, restoring the economy, where progress is made only inch by inch, where the ground is being prepared, and where what is being done is perhaps little, but is durable—in this work, the eyes of the workers of all countries are upon us, they expect new victories of us. I am convinced that, guided by the decisions of our Congress, with the 600,000 members of the Party working like one man, and establishing closer ties with the economic bodies and the trade union bodies, we shall accomplish this task as successfully as we accomplished the military task, and shall march swiftly and surely towards the victory of the World Socialist Soviet Republic! (Applause.)
- Lenin refers to the savage terror resorted to by the Finnish bourgeoisie to suppress the proletarian revolution in 1918. Over 90,000 people were imprisoned or sent to concentration camps, nearly 18,000 were executed and nearly as many died of hunger or tortures. The number of victims of White Terror ten times exceeded the number of Finnish workers killed in the battles for the revolution.
- After the November revolution of 1918 in Germany the Right-wing leaders of German Social-Democracy exerted every effort to save the capitalist system. The Right Social-Democrats and the Independents seized the majority of seats in the Arbeiterräte which had sprung up during the revolution, and at their First All-Germany Congress, held December 16-21, 1918, in Berlin, succeeded in carrying through a resolution on handing over power to a government representing the interests of the bourgeoisie and on convening a Constituent Assembly. This actually meant the end of the Arbeiterräte. In January 1919 counter-revolutionary detachments set up by the War Minister Noske, Right Social-Democrat, brutally suppressed the revolutionary action of the Berlin proletariat. On January 15, armed detachments arrested and brutally murdered the leaders of the German working class, Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg. Having crushed the January uprising and destroyed the best leaders of the German working class, the German bourgeoisie ensured the victory of the bourgeois parties during the elections to the Constituent Assembly on January 19, 1919.
- The rout of the foreign interventionists and whiteguards in 1919 and the consolidation of Soviet Russia’s position in the world compelled the bourgeois rulers of Latvia to seek a peace treaty with the R.S F.S.R. On March 25, 1920, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Latvia addressed a proposal to the Soviet Government to start peace negotiations. The peace conference of RSFSR and Latvian representatives opened on April 16 in Moscow. The peace treaty was signed in Riga on August 11.
- By the beginning of 1920 Soviet Russia’s position at home and abroad had been consolidated, and the ruling circles of Finland had to conclude a peace treaty with the RSFSR On March 25 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland proposed to the Soviet Government to demarcate the frontier that was tantamount to starting negotiations on peace. The peace treaty between the RSFSR and Finland was signed on October 14, 1920 in the town of Yuryev (now Tartu). It confirmed the independence and sovereignty of Finland granted her by the Soviet Government in 1917.
- The Polish Government’s agreement to start negotiations was merely a manoeuvre to cover war preparations against the Soviet Republic. In reply to the Soviet Government’s many proposals (De-cember 22, 1919, January 28, February 2, March 6 1920), the Polish Government gave its consent only on March 2, 1920. But the Polish reactionaries sabotaged the negotiations and started hostilities on April 25, 1920. In the autumn of 1920, however, as a result of the Red Army’s offensive the Polish Government had to agree to sign a peace treaty. The Treaty on an Armistice and Preliminary Peace Terms was signed in Riga on October 12, and the Peace Treaty between the RSFSR and the Ukrainian S.S.R. on the one side and Poland on the other was signed in Riga on March 18, 1921.
- Lenin refers to S. I. Gusev’s pamphlet “Immediate Problems of Economic Development (On CC, RCP(b) Theses. Materials for the Ninth Party Congress, Saratov, 1920)”. The paragraph referred to by Lenin was included in the draft resolution with slight alterations.
In Gusev’s pamphlet this point is worded as follows: “All enterprises which are not subsidiary to the chief economic task of the period should be developed to the extent that they do not interfere with the fulfilment of the main task. Subsidiary enterprises should be developed as required by the main task. In view of this a single economic plan should not be the sum total of production programmes worked out by individual industries and local economic councils on the basis of orders received from central and local organisations, but, on the contrary, such a plan should envisage the volume of production for each industry.
- Lenin refers to the meeting of the group of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions on March 15, 1920, at which Tomsky’s theses on the “Tasks of the Trade Unions” were discussed. Lenin sharply criticised the theses, particularly article 7 on corporate management as the main method. But the All-Russia CCTU group took up an incorrect stand, and its majority voted for Tomsky’s theses.
- The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars “On Centralisation of Management, Protection of Roads and Raising Their Traffic Capacity”, published in Izvestia No. 59, March 28, 1918, was demagogically called the “Decree on Dictatorship” by the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries.
- The Ninth Congress of the RCP(b) set up a special committee to discuss the co-operative movement. At its meeting of April 2, 1920, the committee examined several variants of the theses on the co-operatives submitted for discussion at the Congress. The committee took as the basis the theses by V. P. Milyutin, who proposed to subordinate co-operatives to the state. After Lenin’s speech against Milyutin’s theses, the Congress by a majority vote passed a resolution which Lenin had supported.