Special pages :
Original Version of the Article “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government” (1)
|Written||23 March 1918|
Published: First published in 1962 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 36. Printed from the shorthand record.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 68.2-84.
This was dictated to a stenographer by Lenin on March 23-28, 1918. His work on the article was apparently connected with the forthcoming discussion in the Central Committee of the RCP(b) of the plan for developing socialist construction. In his opening speech at the plenary meeting of the CC held on April 7 Lenin stressed that the revolution was living through a “new period”. The Central Committee instructed Lenin “to draw up theses con-cerning the present situation and submit them to the CC” In connection with this decision Lenin wrote his “Theses on the Tasks of the Soviet Government in the Present Situation” (this was the heading given in the manuscript of Lenin’s work The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government; see present edition, Vol. 27, pp. 236-77),
For chapters X (end), XI, XII and XIII see Vol. 27 of this edition, pp. 203-18. Part of Chapter IV and chapters V, VI, VII, VIII, IX and the beginning of Ch. X of the original version of the article “The Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government” were first published in Vol. 36 of Lenin’s Collected Works, Fifth Russian Edition. Chapters I, II, III and the beginning of Ch. IV have not yet been found.
Chapter IV[edit source]
Today this task—which is, of course, not yet sufficiently completed and can never be fully accomplished-no longer stands first among the tasks facing the Soviet government. The recent congresses of the Soviets, notably the All-Russia Congress held in Moscow, have shown that the overwhelming majority of the labouring classes have firmly and consciously sided with the Soviet power in general and with the Bolshevik Party in particular. It goes without saying that for any government that is at all democratic the task of convincing the masses can never be wholly overshadowed—on the contrary, it will always be among the important tasks of government. As a key issue, however, it will only have significance for parties of the opposition or for parties that are fighting for ideals of the future. After the Bolsheviks, first under tsarism and then under Kerensky, had succeeded in winning over to their side the majority of the class-conscious active elements of the working masses, our Party was faced with the task of conquering power and suppressing the resistance of the exploiters. The task that came to the fore was that of winning, instead of convincing, Russia. From the end of October 1917 approximately up to February 1918 the militant or military task held first place, as it naturally should for any political party making a bid for power in conditions of sharp and extremely bitter struggle. Obviously, for the Party of the proletariat, the task of suppressing the resistance of the exploiters becomes a crucial issue, because the working masses who side with the proletariat are opposed here by the united members of the propertied classes armed both with the power of capital, the power of knowledge and the long-standing, if not age-old, habit and practice of government. Owing to the special conditions that were created in Russia under the influence of the unforgotten lessons of the revolution of 1905 and the influence of the far more painful and harsher lessons of the present war-owing to these conditions the Bolsheviks succeeded with comparative ease in solving the problem of winning power both in the capital and in the chief industrial centres of Russia. But in the provinces, in places far removed from the centre, and especially in districts known to have the greatest concentration of a comparatively backward population rooted in the traditions of the monarchy and medievalism—the Cossack regions, for instance—Soviet power had to contend with a resistance that took on military forms and is only now, more than four months after the October Revolution, coming to an end. At the present time the task of overcoming and suppressing the resistance of the exploiters in Russia is, in the main, completed. Russia has been won by the Bolsheviks chiefly because—as that prominent leader of the counter-revolutionary Don Cossacks, Bogayevsky himself, recently admitted—the overwhelming majority of the people even among the Cossacks have consciously, firmly and definitely sided with the Bolsheviks. But the special conditions in which the propertied classes are placed economically enable them naturally to organise not only passive resistance (sabotage), but to repeat the attempt at military resistance to Soviet power. For that reason the task of suppressing the resistance of the exploiters cannot be regarded as having been finally completed. At any rate, it has now obviously been dealt with in its main aspects and is retreating into the background. The Soviet government will never for a moment allow itself to forget about this task and will under no circumstances let itself be diverted from it by any political or so-called socialist names or declamations. We have to speak about this because both the Mensheviks and the Right S.R.s act as the most mobile, some-times even as the most brazen-faced counter-revolutionaries, who wage a sharper struggle against the Soviet government than the one they had allowed themselves to wage against the reactionary and landowner governments, and rely on. their party’s label and designation to protect them. Naturally, the Soviet government will never falter in its task of suppressing the resistance of the exploiters, no matter what party banners or what popular and specious names this resistance may be covered up with. However, at the present time the task of suppressing resistance has, in the main, been completed, and the task now confronting us is that of administering the state.
This transition from what was once the priority task of convincing the masses, a transition from the task of winning power and crushing the resistance of the exploiters by military force to what is now the primary task of administering the state—this transition is the main feature of the present moment. The difficulty which the Soviet government is experiencing is that of bringing home the essentials of this transition to all the class-conscious elements of the working masses as well as the people’s political leaders. For it is self-understood that the transition to the peaceful tasks of governing the whole population irrespective of classes, a transition that is taking place in conditions when the civil war is still going on in some places, when grave military dangers are threatening the Soviet Republic from both the West and the East, and when the war has caused untold havoc throughout the country—it is self-understood that such a transition is beset with tremendous difficulties.
Chapter V[edit source]
The task of administering the state, which now confronts the Soviet government, has this special feature, that, probably for the first time in the modern history of civilised nations, it deals pre-eminently with economics rather than with politics. Usually the word “administration” is associated chiefly, if not solely, with political activity. However, the very basis and essence of Soviet power, like that of the transition itself from capitalist to socialist society, lie in the fact that political tasks occupy a subordinate position to economic tasks. And now, especially after the practical experience of over four months of Soviet government in Russia, it should be quite clear to us that the task of administering the state is primarily a purely economic task-that of healing the country’s wounds inflicted by the war, restoring its productive forces, organising accountancy in and control over production and distribution, raising the productivity of labour-in short, it boils down to the task of economic reorganisation.
This task can be said to fall under two main headings: I) accounting and control over production and distribution in the broadest, most widespread and universal forms of such accounting and control, and 2) raising the productivity of labour. These tasks can be handled by any form of collective effort or any form of state passing over to socialism only on condition that the basic economic, social, cultural and political preconditions for this have been created in a sufficient degree by capitalism. Without large-scale machine production, without a more or less developed network of railways, postal and telegraph communications, without a more or less developed network of public educational institutions, neither of these tasks can be carried out in a systematic way on a national scale. Russia is in a position when quite a number of these initial preconditions for such a transition actually exist. On the other hand, quite a number of these preconditions are absent in our country, but can be borrowed by it fairly easily from the experience of the neighbouring, far more advanced countries, whom history and international intercourse have long since placed in close contact with Russia.
Chapter VI[edit source]
The basic aim of every society going over to a socialist system consists in the victory of the ruling class-or rather the class that is growing up to be the ruling class-namely, the proletariat, over the bourgeoisie as described above. And this task is set before us in a substantially new way, quite unlike the way it stood in the course of many decades of the proletariat’s world-wide experience of struggle against the bourgeoisie. Now, after the gains of the October Revolution, after our successes in the civil war, victory over the bourgeoisie should stand for something much bigger, albeit more peaceful in form: namely, victory over the bourgeoisie, now that it has been secured politically and made good militarily, should now be achieved in the sphere of organisation of the national economy, in the sphere of organisation of production, in the sphere of country-wide accounting and control. The problem of accounting and control over production was dealt with by the bourgeoisie all the more effectively in proportion as production expanded and the network of national economic institutions embracing tens and hundreds of millions of the population of a large modern state became more ramified. We must handle this task now in a new way, backed by the predominating position of the proletariat, supported by the bulk of the working and exploited masses, making use of those elements of organising talent and technical knowledge which have been accumulated by the preceding society, and nine-tenths, perhaps even ninety-nine hundredths of which belong to a class hostile and opposed to the socialist revolution.
Chapter VII[edit source]
German imperialism, which has made the greatest advance not only in military power and military techniques, but in big industrial organisations within the framework of capitalism, has incidentally given proof of its economic progressiveness by being the first country to introduce labour conscription. Naturally, in the conditions of capitalist society in general and particularly when the monarchist states are waging an imperialist war, labour conscription is nothing more than a military convict prison for the workers, a new means of enslaving the working and exploited masses, a new system of measures for suppressing all protest on the part of these masses. Nevertheless, there is no question that it is only because of the economic preconditions created by big capitalism that such a reform could be put forward and effected. And now we, amid conditions of appalling post-war economic disorganisation, are obliged to consider the urgency of a similar reform. Naturally, Soviet power, which is passing from a capitalist to a socialist organisation of society, must tackle this problem of labour conscription from the other end, opposite to that of German imperialism. For the capitalists and imperialists of Germany labour conscription meant enslavement of the workers. For the workers and peasant poor in Russia labour conscription should mean, first and foremost, recruitment of the rich and propertied classes for the discharge of their social duties. We should start labour conscription with the rich.
This is necessitated, generally speaking, not only by the fact that the Soviet Republic is a socialist republic. The necessity arises also from the fact that it was precisely the wealthy and propertied classes who, by their resistance, both. military and passive (sabotage), mostly prevented Russia from healing the wounds inflicted upon her by the war, hampered the country’s economic rehabilitation and progress. That is why accounting and control, which should be now considered a problem of paramount importance in the whole business of state administration, must be applied first of all to the wealthy and propertied classes. It was the members of these classes who enjoyed the tribute they collected from the working people, especially during the war; it was they who used this tribute to evade a task which is the duty of every citizen, namely, that of lending a hand in healing the country’s wounds and putting it on its feet again; it was they who used the plundered tribute to retire and entrench themselves behind impregnable walls and offer every possible resistance to the victory of the socialist principle over the capitalist principle of society’s organisation. One of the chief weapons of such struggle against the Soviets and against socialism on the part of the wealthy and propertied classes was their possession of considerable hoards of currency notes. The propertied classes in capitalist society derived most of their wealth from the land and other means of production, such as factories, mills, etc., which they owned. The Soviet government had no difficulty, thanks to the support of the workers and the great majority of the peasants, in abolishing the right of the landowners and the bourgeoisie to these basic items of the country’s wealth. It was not difficult to decree the abolition of private property in land. It was not difficult to nationalise most of the factories and mills. There is no doubt that the nationalisation of other big industrial enterprises and transport facilities is a problem that will easily be dealt with in the very near future.
Capitalist society, however, has created another form of wealth, which is by no means so easy for the Soviet government to deal with. This is wealth in the form of money, or rather, currency notes. Currency notes during the war were issued in very great numbers. Russia was cut off by a wall of military operations from commerce with a number of countries who had been her largest importers and exporters. The amassment of currency notes in the hands of the wealthy and propertied classes, practically all of whom, directly or indirectly, had speculated on the high prices for military contracts and supplies, is one of the chief means by which the propertied classes amassed wealth and accumulated power over the working people. Today the economic position of Russia, as probably of every capitalist country that has gone through three years of war, is characterised by the fact that enormous amounts of paper money are concentrated in the hands of and hoarded by a comparatively small minority, the bourgeoisie and propertied classes, and this paper money, though greatly depreciated through massive emission, still represents a claim to levy tribute on the working population.
During the transition from capitalist to socialist society it is absolutely impossible to do without currency notes or to replace them with new ones in a short space of time. The Soviet government is now confronted with a difficult task, which nevertheless has to be dealt with at all costs—the task of combating the resistance of the wealthy, a resistance that takes the form of hoarding and concealing the proofs of their claim to levy tribute on the working people. These proofs are currency notes. Naturally, while these currency notes previously gave the right to acquire and purchase the means of production, such as land, factories, mills, etc., their significance today has diminished and even been reduced to naught. The purchase of land has become impossible in Russia after promulgation of the law on the socialisation of the land, while the purchase of factories and mills and similar large-scale means of production and transport has become practically impossible owing to the rapid process of nationalisation and confiscation of all such large enterprises. And so, it becomes more and more difficult and almost impossible for members of the bourgeoisie and propertied classes (including the peasant bourgeoisie) to acquire money for the purchase of the means of production. But in defending their old privileges and trying to retard and obstruct as much as they can the business of socialist reforms within the country, the bourgeoisie are hoarding and concealing the proofs of their claim to a share in the social wealth, their claim to levy tribute on the working people, hoarding and concealing currency notes in order to have a chance, however slender, of maintaining their position and recovering their old privileges in the event of difficulties or crises of a military or commercial nature that might yet beset Russia.
As regards consumer goods, the possibility of buying them with the sums of paper money they have accumulated through speculations during the war remains almost fully with the bourgeoisie and propertied classes, since the problem of proper rationing and distribution of these goods in a country like Russia, with her huge population of small peasants, petty artisans or handicraftsmen, presents tremendous difficulties, and in the prevailing state of economic chaos caused by the war this problem still remains practically unsolved. Thus, the Soviet government is obliged to start the business of accounting and control over production and distribution by an organised struggle against the wealthy and propertied classes who are hoarding vast sums in currency notes and evading state control.
I is estimated that currency notes to the value of about thirty thousand million rubles have been issued in Russia to date. Of this sum probably no less than twenty thousand million, or maybe considerably more, are excess hoards unneeded for trade turnover, which are kept hidden away by members of the bourgeoisie and propertied classes for motives of self-interest——or class self-interest.
The Soviet government will have to combine the introduction of labour conscription with the registration, in the first place, of people belonging to the bourgeoisie and propertied classes; it will have to demand truthful statements (declarations) concerning the amount of currency notes available; it will have to take a number of measures to make sure that this demand will not remain on paper; it will have to consider transitional measures for concentrating all stocks of currency notes in the State Bank or its branches. Unless these measures are taken, the business of accounting and control over production and distribution cannot be effectively carried through.
Chapter VIII[edit source]
The introduction of labour conscription, however, cannot be confined to accounting and control over the sums of currency notes concentrated in the hands of the propertied classes. The Soviet government will have to apply the principles of labour conscription also to the direct activities of the bourgeoisie and propertied classes in the sphere of factory management and the servicing of enterprises by all kinds of subsidiary labour such as book-keeping, accountancy, clerical work, technical, administrative and other jobs. In this respect, too, the task of the Soviet government is now shifting from the sphere of direct struggle against sabotage to the sphere of business organisation in the new conditions, since after the victories won by the Soviets in the civil war, beginning with October and ending February, a breach has virtually been made in the passive forms of resistance, namely, in the sabotage by the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois intellectuals. It is no accident that at the present time we are witnessing a sweeping, one might say widespread, change of sentiment and political behaviour in the camp of the former saboteurs, i.e., the capitalists and bourgeois intellectuals. In all spheres of economic and political life we now find a great number of bourgeois intellectuals and capitalist businessmen offering their services to the Soviet power. And it is up to the Soviet power now to make use of these services, which are definitely necessary for the transition to socialism, especially in a peasant country like Russia, and should be utilised on condition that the Soviet government has complete ascendancy, direction and control over its new assistants and co-operators (who had often acted in defiance of this same Soviet power in the secret hope of protesting it).
To show how necessary it is for the Soviet government to make use of the services of bourgeois intellectuals for the transition to socialism, we venture to use an expression that may at. first glance seem paradoxical: we must to a considerable extent, take a lesson in socialism from the trust managers, we must take a lesson in socialism from capitalism’s big organisers. That this is no paradox anyone can easily see who realises that it is the big factories, big machine industry, which developed exploitation of the working people to an unheard-of degree, that it is precisely the big factories that are the centres of concentration of that class which alone has been able to destroy the rule of capital and begin the transition to socialism. It is not surprising, therefore, that in order to solve the practical problems of socialism, when the organisational aspects of it are pushed to the fore, we must enlist to the service of the Soviet power a great number of bourgeois intellectuals, especially from among those who were engaged in the practical work of organising large-scale capitalist production, that is to say, first and foremost, those engaged in organising syndicates, cartels and trusts. Tackling this problem will require of the Soviet government an exertion of energy and initiative by the working masses in all fields of the national economy, since the old position held by the so-called captains of industry-the old position of the masters and exploiters-this old position the Soviet government will never let them have. The former captains of industry, the former masters and exploiters, must be employed as technical experts, managers, consultants, advisers. A new, difficult, but extremely gratifying problem must be solved, that of combining all the experience and knowledge which these members of the exploiting classes have accumulated, with the initiative, energy and work of the broad masses of the working people. For only by this combination is it possible to build the bridge leading from the old capitalist to the new socialist society.
If the socialist revolution had won simultaneously throughout the world or, at least, in a number of advanced countries, then the task of enlisting the services of the best technician specialists from among the leaders of old capitalism to the process of the new organisation of production would have been made considerably easier. Backward Russia would not have to wrestle with this problem on her own, as the advanced workers of the West-European countries would have come to her help and relieved her of most of the complexities involved in that most difficult of all tasks arising in the period of transition to socialism known as the organizational task. In the present situation, when the socialist revolution in the West is slow and late in coming, and Russia has to speed up measures for her reorganisation if only in order to save the population from starvation and afterwards the whole country from a possible foreign military invasion-in the present situation we have to borrow from the advanced countries, not their help in socialist organization and the support of the workers, but the help of their bourgeoisie and capitalist intellectuals.
Things have so shaped themselves that we are able to get this help by organising the assistance of the bourgeois intellectuals in solving the new organisational problems of the Soviet power. This assistance can be secured by paying high salaries to the best specialists in every field of know-ledge, both to the citizens of this country and to those invited from abroad. Naturally, in a developed socialist society it would appear quite unfair and incorrect for members of the bourgeois intelligentsia to receive considerably higher pay than that received by the best sections of the working class. Under the conditions of practical reality, however... we must solve this pressing problem by means of this (unfair) remuneration for bourgeois specialists at much higher rates. If, for example, we found that in order to organise production in’ Russia on new lines, in order to raise the productivity of labour and train our people in the art of working in better conditions we had to employ for this purpose, say two thousand big specialists in different fields of knowledge, specialists from among Russian and still more from among foreign, let us say, American sources-if we had to pay them fifty or a hundred million rubles a year, such an expense, from the point of view of the interests of the national economy, and generally from the point of view of abandoning out-worn methods of production for newer and more up-to-date methods, would be fully warranted. Such a sum is worth paying to have our people trained in better methods and techniques of production, and we shall have to pay it because, short of the victory of the socialist revolution in other countries, there is no other possibility of getting this leadership.
Of course, employment of the labour and guidance of the bourgeois intellectuals in combination with proper control by the democratic organisations of the working people and the Soviets, will create a number of new problems, but these problems will be quite solvable. No difficulties can stop us from solving these problems, as we have no other way out towards a higher organization of production under the present situation.
I shall go further. Big capitalism has created systems of work organization, which, under the prevailing conditions of exploitation of the masses, represent the harshest form of enslavement by which the minority, the propertied classes, wring out of the working people surplus amounts of labour, strength, blood and nerves. At the same time they are the last word in the scientific organization of production, and as such, have to be adopted by the Socialist Soviet Republic and readjusted to serve the interests of our accounting and control over production on the one hand, and raising the productivity of labour, on the other. For instance, the famous Taylor system, which is so widespread in America, is famous precisely because it is the last word in reckless capitalist exploitation. One can understand why this system met with such an intense hatred and protest on the part of the workers. At the same time, we must not for a moment forget that the Taylor system represents the tremendous progress of science, which systematically analyses the process of production and points the way towards an immense increase in the efficiency of human labour. The scientific researches which the introduction of the Taylor system started in America, notably that of motion study, as the Americans call it, yielded important data allowing the working population to be trained in incomparably higher methods of labour in general and of work organisation in particular.
The negative aspect of Taylorism was that it was applied in conditions of capitalist slavery and served as a means of squeezing double and triple the amount of labour out of the workers at the old rates of pay regardless of whether the hired workers were capable of giving this double and triple amount of labour in the same number of working hours without detriment to the human organism. The Socialist Soviet Republic is faced with a task which can be briefly formulated thus: we must introduce the Taylor system and scientific American efficiency of labour throughout Russia by combining this system with a reduction in working time, with the application of new methods of production and work organisation undetrimental to the labour power of the working population. On the contrary, the Taylor system, properly controlled and intelligently applied by the working people themselves, will serve as a reliable means of further greatly reducing the obligatory working day for the entire working population, will serve as an effective means of dealing, in a fairly short space of time, with a task that could roughly be expressed as follows: six hours of physical work daily for every adult citizen and four hours of work in running the state.
The adoption of such a system would call for very many new skills and new organisational bodies. Without doubt, this will create for us many difficulties, and the posing of such a task will even evoke perplexity if not resistance among certain sections of the working people themselves. We may be sure, however, that the progressive elements among the working class will understand the need for such a transition, and that the appalling extent of the economic chaos witnessed in the towns and villages by millions of men returning from the front who had been torn away from it all and now saw the full extent of the ravages caused by the war-all this, without doubt, has prepared the ground for shaping public opinion in this direction, and we may be sure that the transition which we have roughly outlined above will be accepted as a practical task by all elements among the working classes who have now consciously sided with the Soviet government.
Chapter IX[edit source]
An economic transition of the above nature calls also for a corresponding change in the functions of Soviet leadership. It is quite natural, in a situation under which the main task was to convince the majority of the nation or to win power and crush the resistance of the exploiters, that among the leaders, too, those who came to the fore should have been agitators in regard to the masses, with whom Soviet power was more closely connected than any other democratic form of government in the past. Naturally, winning over the majority of the population or drawing it into a hard and difficult armed struggle against the exploiters called above all for agitators of ability. Conversely, the tasks outlined above, and aimed at establishing accounting and control over production and distribution, advance to the fore practical managers and organisers. Accordingly, a certain reappraisal of leaders, certain shifts among them, should be effected in cases where they are unable to adapt themselves to the new conditions and the new task. Naturally, the leadership of a past period accustomed chiefly to agitators’ tasks, would find such a transition very difficult. Naturally, a number of mistakes because of this was unavoidable. Both the leaders and the Soviet electorate at large, that is, the working and exploited masses, must now be made to see the necessity for this change.
Among the working and exploited masses there is far more talent and ability as organisers than as agitators, for the entire work milieu of these classes demanded of them to a much greater extent the ability to organise joint work and a system of accounting and control over production and distribution. Their former conditions of life, on the contrary, provided far less grounds for advancing from their midst leaders possessing the gift of agitators or propagandists. Perhaps that is why we so often see now agitators and propagandists by vocation or calling who are compelled to assume the tasks of organisers, and who have it brought home to them at every step that they are not quite fit for the job and that the workers and peasants are disappointed and dissatisfied with them. These mistakes arid failures of the Soviet government often provoke malicious glee among classes that are hostile to the idea of a socialist remodelling of society, among members of the bourgeois parties or those who call themselves socialist parties but who actually serve the bourgeoisie with zeal-people like the Mensheviks and the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries. Clear as the historical inevitability of these mistakes is, it is equally clear that the shortcomings in this respect are merely the growing pains of the new socialist society. There can be no doubt that the representatives of Soviet power all over Russia can and will requalify without great difficulty, that the practical agitators will learn to occupy a befitting leading place. This, however, will take time, and only practical experience by trial and error is capable of bringing a clear realisation of the need for change, capable of bringing to the fore a number of people, or even a whole cross-section, fit to deal with the new tasks. There is probably more organising talent among the workers and peasants than the bourgeoisie imagine. The trouble is that these talents have no chance to develop, make good and win a place for themselves in the conditions of capitalist economy.
On the other hand, if we clearly recognise today the need for enlisting new organising talent on a broad scale to the business of running the state, if we-guided by the principles of Soviet power-start systematically promoting to leading positions people who have practical experience in this business, we shall succeed in a short time in building up a new stratum of practical organisers of production, who, on the basis of the principles evolved by Soviet power, principles cast among the masses and carried into practice by the masses under the control of Soviet bodies representing the mass membership, will win a position for themselves befitting their role of leadership.
Chapter X[edit source]
Soviet government will have to pass over, or rather it will simultaneously have to deal with, the problem of applying corresponding principles to the bulk of the workers and peasants. Here the task of introducing labour conscription presents its other side to us. We must approach this problem differently and highlight different things to those that have to be applied in the case of the wealthy classes. We see no essential need for registering all the working people, for keeping an eye on their stocks of currency notes or their consumption, since all the conditions of life compel the vast majority of these sections of the population to work for their living and give them no chance to hoard anything but the most meagre stocks. Therefore, the task of introducing labour conscription in this field resolves itself into the task of establishing labour discipline and self-discipline.
In the old capitalist society discipline over the working people was enforced by capital through the constant threat of starvation. This threat being combined with excessively heavy toil and the workers’ awareness that they were working, not for themselves, but for somebody else’s benefit, the conditions of labour became a constant struggle of the great majority of the working people against the organisers of production. This inevitably created a psychology in which public opinion among the working people not only did not frown on poor work or shirkers, but, on the contrary, saw in this an inevitable and legitimate protest against or means of resistance to the excessive demands of the exploiters. If the bourgeois press and its echoers are now shouting so much about anarchy among the workers, about their lack of discipline and excessive demands, the vicious nature of this criticism is so obvious that it is not worth dwelling on. It is only natural that in a country like Russia, where the bulk of the population for the last three years has endured such appalling hunger and privations, there should have been a number of cases of utter despondency and a break-down of organisation. To demand a quick change in this connection or to expect such changes to be achieved by several decrees, Would be as absurd as resorting to appeals in an attempt to restore good cheer and energy into a man who had been beaten within an inch of his life. Only the Soviet government, created by the working people themselves, and taking into consideration the growing signs of recovery among them, is in a position to carry out radical changes in this respect.
The need for working out systematic measures to improve self-discipline among the working people has now been fully brought home to the representatives of Soviet power and its supporters—the political-minded trade union leaders, for instance. There is no doubt that in the environment of capitalist society in general, and still more, in the atmosphere of frenzied, unbridled speculation created by the war, there has seeped in among the working class an element of demoralisation that will seriously need coping with. All the more that, owing to the war, the composition of the working-class vanguard itself has not changed for the better either. Therefore, the maintenance of discipline among the working people, the organisation of control over the measure of labour and the intensity of labour, the introduction of special industrial courts for establishing the measure of labour, for prosecuting those guilty of flagrant violations of this measure, and for exercising systematic influence on the majority with the object of raising this measure-all this has now been brought to the fore as one of the most urgent tasks of the Soviet government.
The only thing is to bear in mind that in bourgeois society one of the principal instruments of social education, namely, the press, completely failed to discharge its task in this respect. And to this day our Soviet press, too, is still largely under the influence of the old habits and old traditions of bourgeois society. This is evidenced, among other things, by the fact that our press, like the old bourgeois press, continues to devote too much space and attention to political trivia, to those personal questions of political leadership by which the capitalists of all countries have striven to draw the attention of the masses away from the really important, profound and cardinal questions of their life.