Organisation Of Food Detachments

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This telegram was sent to the Second Gubernia Congress of Soviets in Penza in reply to a letter from the Chairman of the Penn Gubernia Soviet A. Y. Minkin. When the Congress opened on June 24, 1918, it elected Lenin its honorary chairman.

In view of the fact that it is too late to send a delegate from the Commissariat for Food to the Congress, I request you to bring the following to the attention of the Congress. Delegates to the Congress who support the Soviet government should remember, firstly, that the grain monopoly is being enforced simultaneously with a monopoly on textiles and on other staple articles of general consumption, and, second-ly, that the demand for the abolition of the grain monopoly is a political move on the part of counter-revolutionary strata, who are endeavouring to wrench from the hands of the revolutionary proletariat the system of monopoly regulation of prices, one of the most important implements for the gradual transition from capitalist exchange of commodi-ties to socialist exchange of products. Explain to the Congress that as a method of combating the food shortage the abo-lition of the monopoly would be not only useless but harmful, as is shown by the Ukraine, where Skoropadsky has abol-ished the grain monopoly and as a result profiteering in grain has within a few days achieved such proportions that the Ukrainian proletariat is now suffering from famine far more acutely than under the monopoly.

Point out that the only effective method of increasing bread rations is contained in the decision of the Council of People’s Commissars to requisition grain forcibly from the kulaks and to distribute it among the poor of the cities and the countryside. This requires that the poor shall much more rapidly and resolutely enlist in the food army which is being created by the People’s Commissariat for Food.

Propose that the Congress immediately start agitating among the workers to enlist in the food army formed by the Penza Soviet of Deputies and to abide by the following rules:

1) Every factory shall provide one person for every twenty-five of its workers.

2) Registration of those desiring to enlist in the food army shall be conducted by the factory committee, which shall draw up a list of the names of those mobilised, in two copies, one of which it shall deliver to the People’s Commis-sariat for Food while retaining the other.

3) To the list must be attached a guarantee given by the factory committee, or by the trade union organisation, or by a Soviet body, or by responsible representatives of Soviet organisations, testifying to the personal honesty and revolutionary discipline of every candidate. Members of the food army must be selected so that there will not in future be a single stain on the names of those who are setting out for the villages to combat the handful of predatory kulaks and save millions of toilers from starvation.

Comrades, workers, only if this condition is observed will it be obvious to all that the requisition of grain from the kulaks is not robbery but the fulfilment of a revolution-ary duty to the worker and peasant masses who are fighting for socialism!

4) In every factory those mobilised shall elect a rep-resentative from their midst to perform all the organisation-al measures necessary for the actual enrolment of the can-didates of the factory as members of the food army by the People’s Commissariat.

5) Those enrolled in the army shall receive their former pay as well as food and equipment from the date of actual enlistment.

6) Those enrolled in the army shall give a pledge that they will unreservedly carry out any instructions that may be given by the People’s Commissariat for Food they detachments leave for their place of operation, and that they will obey the commissars of the detachments.

I am certain that if convinced socialists loyal to the October Revolution are placed at the head of the food requisition detachments, they will be able to organise Poor Peasants’ Committees and by their concerted action succeed in taking grain from the kulaks even without resort to armed force.

Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars


June 27, 1918