Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. December 14, 1917

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Lenin speaks in defence of the Soviet draft, pointing out that the Supreme Economic Council cannot be reduced to a parliament, but must be the same kind of fighting organ for combating the capitalists and landowners in the economy as the Council of People’s Commissars is in politics.

  1. The question of setting up a Supreme Economic Council (S.E.C.) was raised directly after the October Revolution. On October 26 or 27 (November 8 or 9), 1917, a meeting of the Central Council of the Petrograd factory committees in which Lenin took part discussed the project for a governing economic body. In his speech at an enlarged meeting of the Petrograd Trade Union Council on November 9 (22), Lenin drew attention to the need to create machinery for running the Soviet economy and said that preparations for the establishment of such organisations were already under way. The draft for the organisation of a supreme economic body was worked out by a special commission set up by the Council of People’s Commissars.
    The Bolshevik group of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee discussed the matter and stressed the need to make the Supreme Economic Council a militant organ of the working-class dictatorship by investing it with legislative powers. On December 1 (14) the question was taken up by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. The Left S.R.s demanded an enlargement of the SEC’s peasant section and insisted that the Council should be under the All-Russia Central Executive Committee instead of the Council of People’s Commissars, as the draft proposed. This was opposed by Lenin and the amendments were, voted down by a majority. The decree on the Supreme Economic Council was approved and published in Gazeta Vremennogo Rabochego i Krestyanskogo Pravitelstva (Gazette of the Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government) No. 25 on December 5 (18).
    Lenin devoted much attention to organising the work of the Supreme Economic Council, directed its activity and spoke at congresses of economic councils. The question of organising its activity was repeatedly discussed by the Council of People’s Commissars. Thus, a government decision of December 23, 1917 (January 5, 1918) said that the SEC must be transformed from a discussion body into one actually directing industry. On January 19 (February 1), 1918, the government discussed the question of the SEC’s activity and the need to eliminate duplication in the work of the SEC and economic commissariats and departments, and adopted a circular binding the SEC and all commissariats to work in close contact with each other. The draft circular had been amended and edited by Lenin (see Lenin Miscellany XXI, pp. 122–23).
    When large-scale industry was fully nationalised, the SEC became its organ of management.