Tenth Congress of the RCP(b)
|Written||8 March 1921|
First Published: First published in full in 1921 in the book: Desiaty syzed rossiiskoi kommunisticheskoi partii. Stenograficheski otchot ( The Tenth Congress of the RCP Verbatim Report, March 8-16, 1921), Moscow; Published according to to the text of the book collated with the verbatim report
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 165-271
March 8-16, 1921
The Tenth Party Congress was held in Moscow on March 8-16, 1921. It was attended by 694 delegates with voice and vote and 296 with voice only. They represented 732,521 Party members. The items on the agenda were: 1) Report of the Central Committee 2) Report of the Control Commission; 3) The trade unions’ economic role; 4) The Socialist Republic in a capitalist encirclement foreign trade, concessions, etc.; 5) Food supply, surplus-food appropriation, tax in kind and fuel crisis, 6) Problems of Party organisation; 7) The Party’s current tasks in the nationalities question; 8) Reorganisation of the army and the militia question; 9) The Chief Administration for Political Education and the Party’s propaganda and agitation work; 10) Report of the RCP’s representative in the Comintern, and its current tasks; 11) Report of the RCP’s representatives in the International Trade Union Council; 12) Elections to the Central Committee, the Control Commission and the Auditing Commission. The Congress resolutions dealt with the key political and economic problems.
Lenin lead much of the work of the Congress: he delivered the opening and closing speeches and gave reports on the political activity of the CC, the substitution of a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system, the Party’s unity and the anarcho-syndicalist deviation, the trade unions and the fuel crisis. He drafted the main resolutions. He gave a theoretical and political substantiation of the necessity of transition from War Communism to the New Economic Policy (NEP). The Congress adopted historic decisions on the substitution of a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system, and the transition to NEP, which was designed to draw millions of peasants into the organization of the planned socialist economy.
The Congress paid special attention to the Party’s unity. Lenin exposed and sharply criticised the anti-Marxist views of the opposition groups. The resolution “On Party Unity” adopted on Lenin’s motion ordered the immediate dissolution of all factions and groups which tended to weaken the Party’s unity. The Congress authorised the Central Committee to apply, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party to CC members who engaged in factional activity.
The Congress also adopted Lenin’s draft resolution “On the Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in our Party”, which exposed the views of the Workers’ Opposition as an expression of petty-bourgeois, anarchist vacillations. The propaganda of anarcho-syndicalist ideas was found to be incompatible with membership in the Party. With the country engaged in peaceful socialist construction, the Congress came down in favour of broader democracy within the Party.
The Congress summed up the discussion on the trade unions’ role in economic development, condemned the ideas of the , the Workers’ Opposition, the Democratic Centralism group and other trends, and approved Lenin’s platform by an overwhelming majority, terming the trade unions as a school of communism, and suggesting measures to develop trade union democracy.
A commission headed by Lenin worked out the Congress’s decisions on the Party’s nationalities policy in the new conditions: to eliminate the actual inequality of peoples which had been oppressed in tsarist Russia, and draw them into socialist construction. The Congress condemned the anti-Party deviations on the nationalities question, great-power chauvinism and local nationalism, which were a grave danger to communism and proletarian internationalism.
On the newly elected 25-man Central Committee were Lenin, Artyom (F. A. Sergeyev), F. E. Dzerzhinsky, Leon Trotsky, L. Kamanev, G. Zinoviev, M. I. Kalinin, G. K. Orjonikidze, M. V. Frunze, Y. E. Rudzutak, J. V. Stalin, Y. M. Yaroslavsky; S. M. Kirov, V. V. Kuibysllev, V. Y. Chubar were among the alternate members.
The historic decisions of the Tenth Congress charted the ways of transition from capitalism to socialism, and methods of construction of socialism in the new conditions; they stressed the importance of greater unity between the proletariat and the peasantry, and stronger Party leadership in the construction of Soviet Russia.
- 1 1. Speech At The Opening Of The Congress
- 2 2. Report On The Political Work Of The Central Committee Of The RCP(b)
- 3 3. Summing-Up Speech On The Report Of The CC Of The RCP(b)
- 4 4. Preliminary Draft Resolution On Improving The Condition Of Workers And Needy Peasants
- 5 5. Speech On The Trade Unions
- 6 6. Report On The Substitution Of A Tax In Kind For The Surplus Grain Appropriation System
- 7 7. Summing-Up Speech On The Tax In Kind
- 8 8. Preliminary Draft Resolution Of The Tenth Congress Of The RCP On Party Unity
- 9 9. Preliminary Draft Resolution Of The Tenth Congress Of The RCP On The Syndicalist And Anarchist Deviation In Our Party
- 10 10. Report On Party Unity and The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation
- 11 11. Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity and The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation
- 12 12. Remarks On Ryazanov’s Amendment To The Resolution On Party Unity
- 13 13. Speech On The Fuel Question
- 14 14. Proposal On The Fuel Question
- 15 15. Speech In Closing The Congress
1. Speech At The Opening Of The Congress[edit source]
(Prolonged applause.) Comrades, allow me to declare the Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party open. We have passed through a very eventful year both in international and in our own internal history. To begin with the international situation, let me say that this is the first time we have met in conditions in which the Communist International has ceased to be a mere slogan and has really been converted into a mighty organisation with foundations—real foundations—in the major advanced capitalist countries. What had only been a set of resolutions at the Second Congress of the Communist International has been successfully implemented during the past year and has found expression, confirmation and consolidation in such countries as Germany, France and Italy. It is enough to name these three countries to show that the Communist International, since its Second Congress in Moscow last summer, has become part and parcel of the working-class movement in all the major advanced countries of Europe—more than that, it has become the chief factor in international politics. This is such a great achievement, comrades, that however difficult and severe the various trials ahead of us—and we cannot and must not lose sight of them—no one can deprive us of it!
Furthermore, comrades, this is the first congress that is meeting without any hostile troops, supported by the capitalists and imperialists of the world, on the territory of the Soviet Republic. The Red Army’s victories over the past year have enabled us to open a Party Congress in such conditions for the first time. Three and a half years of unparalleled strugg]e, and the last of the hostile armies has been driven from our territory—that is our achievement! Of course, that has not won us everything, not by a long shot; nor have we won all that we have to—real freedom from imperialist invasion and intervention. On the contrary, their warfare against us has taken a form that is less military but is in some respects more severe and more dangerous. The transition from war to peace—which we hailed at the last Party Congress and in the light of which we have tried to organise our work—is still far from completed. Our Party is still confronted with incredibly difficult tasks, not only in respect of the economic plan—where we have made quite a few mistakes—or the basis of economic construction, but also the basis of relations between the classes remaining in our society, in this Soviet Republic. These relations have undergone a change, and this—you will all agree—should be one of the chief questions for you to examine and decide here.
Comrades, we have passed through an exceptional year, we have allowed ourselves the luxury of discussions and disputes within the Party. This was an amazing luxury for a Party shouldering unprecedented responsibilities and surrounded by mighty and powerful enemies uniting the whole capitalist world.
I do not know how you will assess that fact now. Was it fully compatible with our resources, both material and spiritual? It is up to you to appraise this. At all events, however, I must say that the slogan, task and aim which we should set ourselves at this Congress and which we must accomplish at all costs, is to emerge from the discussions and disputes stronger than before. (Applause.) You, comrades, cannot fail to be aware that all our enemies—and their name is legion—in all their innumerable press organs abroad repeat, elaborate and multiply the same wild rumour that our bourgeois and petty-bourgeois enemies spread here inside the Soviet Republic, namely: discussion means disputes; disputes mean discord; discord means that the Communists have become weak; press hard, seize the opportunity, take advantage of their weakening. This has become the slogan of the hostile world. We must not forget this for a moment. Our task now is to show that, to whatever extent we have allowed ourselves this luxury in the past, whether rightly or wrongly, we must emerge from this situation in such a way that, having properly examined the extraordinary abundance of platforms, shades, slight shades and almost slight shades of opinion, that have been formulated and discussed, we at our Party Congress could say to ourselves: at all events, whatever form the discussion has taken up to now, however much we have argued among ourselves—and we are confronted with so many enemies—the task of the dictatorship of the proletariat in a peasant country is so vast and difficult that formal cohesion is far from enough. (Your presence here at the Congress is a sign that we have that much.) Our efforts should be more united and harmonious than ever before; there should not be the slightest trace of factionalism—whatever its manifestations in the past. That we must not have on any account. That is the only condition on which we shall accomplish the immense tasks that confront us. I am sure that I express the intention and firm resolve of all of you when I say: at all events, the end of this Congress must find our Party stronger, more harmonious, and more sincerely united than ever before. (Applause.)
2. Report On The Political Work Of The Central Committee Of The RCP(b)[edit source]
Comrades, the question of the Central Committee’s political work, as you are, of course, aware, is so closely bound up with the whole work of the Party and Soviet institutions, and with the whole course of the revolution, that in my view, at any rate, there can be no question of a report in the full sense of the word. Accordingly, I take it to be my task to try to single out some of the more important events which, I think, represent the cardinal points of our work and of Soviet policy over the past year, which are most typical of what we have gone through and which provide most food for thought concerning the reasons for the course taken by the revolution, the significance of our mistakes—and these have been many—and the ]essons for the future. For no matter how natural it is to report on the events of the past year, no matter how essential it is for the Central Committee, and no matter how interesting such a report in itself may be for the Party, the tasks of the current and forthcoming struggle are so urgent, difficult and grave, and press so hard upon us that all our attention is unwittingly concentrated on how to draw the appropriate conclusions from past experience and how best to solve present and future problems on which all our attention is focused.
Of all the key problems of our work in the past year, which chiefly hold our attention and with which, in my opinion, our mistakes are mainly connected, the most important is the transition from war to peace. All, or possibly most of you, will recall that we have attempted this transition several times during the past three and a half years, without once having completed it; and apparently we shall not accomplish it this time either because international capitalism is too vitally interested in preventing it. I recall that in April 1918, i.e., three years ago, I had occasion to speak to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee about our tasks, which at the time were formulated as if the Civil War had in the main come to an end, when in actual fact it had only just begun. You will all recall that at the pre vious Party Congress we based all our plans on the transition to peaceful construction, having assumed that the enormous concessions then made to Poland would assure us of peace. As early as April, however, the Polish bourgeoisie, which, with the imperialists of the capitalist countries, interpreted our peaceful stand as a sign of weakness, started an offensive for which they paid dearly: they got a peace that was much worse. But we were unable to switch to peaceful construction and had once again to concentrate on the war with Poland and subsequently on wiping out Wrangel. That is what determined the substance of our work in the year under review. Once again all our work turned on military problems.
Then followed the trunsition from war to peace when the last enemy soldier was finally driven from the territory of the R.S.F.S.R.
This transition involved upheavals which we had certainly never foreseen. That is undoubtedly one of the main causes of all our mistakes in policy during the period under review, from which we are now suffering. We now realise that some of the tasks we had grossly underrated were posed by the demobilisation of the army, which had to be created in a country that had suffered unparalleled strains and stresses, and that had gone through several years of imperialist war. Its demobilisation put a terrible strain on our transport facilities, and this was intensified by the famine due to the crop failure and the fuel shortage, which largely brought the railways to a standstill. That is largely the source of the series of crises—economic, social and political—that hit us. At the end of last year I had occasion to point out that one of the main difficulties of the coming spring would be that connected with the demobilisation of the army. I also pointed this out at the big discussion on December 30, which many of you may have attended. I must say that at the time we had scarcely any idea of the scale of these difficulties. We had not yet seen the extent of the possible technical difficulties; but then neither had we realised the extent to which the demobilisation would intensify all the misfortunes which befell the Soviet Republic, exhausted as it was by the old imperialist war and the new civil war. To some extent it would be right to say that the demobilisation brings out these difficulties to an even greater degree. For a number of years, the country had been dedicated to the solution of war tasks and had glven its all to solve them. It had ungrudgingly sacrificed all it had, its meagre reserves and resources, and only at tho end of the war were we able to see the full extent of that devastation and poverty which now condemn us to the simple healing of wounds for a long time to come. But even to this we cannot devote ourselves entirely. The technical difficulties of army demobilisation show a good part of the depth of that devastation which inevitably breeds, apart from other things, a whole series of economic and social crises. The war had habituated us—hundreds of thousands of men, the whole country—to war-time tasks, and when a great part of the army, having solved these military tasks, finds very much worse conditions and incredible hardships in the countryside, without any opportunity—because of this and the general crisis—to apply its labour, the result is something midway between war and peace. We find that it is a situation in which we cannot very well speak of peace. For it is the demobilisation—the end of the Civil War—that makes it impossible for us to concentrate on peaceful construction, because it brings about a continuation of the war, but in a new form. We find ourselves involved in a new kind of war, a new form of war, which is summed up in the word “banditism”—when tens and hundreds of thousands of demobilised soldiers, who are accustomed to the toils of war and regard it almost as their only trade, return, impoverished and ruined, and are unable to find work.
Failure to reckon with the scale of the difficulties connected with the demobilisation was undoubtedly a mistake on the part of the Central Committee. It must, of course, be said that we had nothing to go on, for the Civil War was so arduous an effort that there was only one guiding principle: everything for victory on the Civil War front, and nothing else. It was only by observing this principle, and by the Red Army’s unparalleled efforts in the struggle against Kolchak, Yudenich and others, that we could hope to, achieve victory over the imperialists who had invaded Soviet Russia.
From this crucial fact, which determined a whole series of mistakes and intensified the crisis, I should like to turn to the question of how a whole number of even more profound discrepancies, erroneous calculations or plans were brought to light in the work of the Party and the struggle of the entire proletariat. These were not only mistakes in planning, but in determining the balance of forces between our class and those classes in collaboration with which, and frequently in struggle against which, it had to decide the fate of the Republic. With this as a starting-point, let us turn to the results of the past, to our political experience, and to what the Central Committee, as the policy-making body, must understand and try to explain to the whole Party. These questions range from the course of our war with Poland to food and fuel. Our offensive, our too swift advance almost as far as Warsaw, was undoubtedly a mistake. I shall not now analyse whether it was a strategic or a political error, as this would take me too far afield. Let us leave it to future historians, for those of us who have to keep beating off the enemy in hard struggle have no time to indulge in historical research. At any rate, the mistake is there, and it was due to the fact that we had overestimated the superiority of our forces. It would be too difficult to decide now to what extent this superiority of forces depended on the economic conditions, and on the fact that the war with Poland aroused patriotic feelings even among the petty-bourgeois elements, who were by no means proletarians or sympathisers with communism, by no means giving unconditional support to the dictatorship of the proletariat; sometimes, in fact, they did not support it at all. But the fact remains that we had made a definite mistake in the war with Poland.
We find a similar mistake in food. With regard to surplus food appropriation and its fulfilment there can be no doubt that the year under review was more favourable than the previous one. This year the amount of grain collected is over 250 million poods. By February 1, the figure was estimated at 235 million poods, as against the 210 million poods for the whole of the previous year; that is to say, more was collected in a much shorter period than for the whole of the previous year. It turned out, however, that of these 235 millions collected by February 1, we had used up 155 million poods within the first six months, that is, an average of 25 million or even more poods a month. Of course, we must on the whole admit that we were unable to space out our reserves properly, even when they were better than last year’s. We failed to see the full danger of the crisis approaching with the spring, and succumbed to the natural desire to increase the starving workers’ ration. Of course, it must be said that there again we had no basis for our estimates. All capitalist countries, in spite of the anarchy and chaos intrinsic to capitalism, have as a basis for their economic planning, the experience of many decades which they can compare, for they have the same economic system differing only in details. From this comparison it is possible to deduce a genuinely scientific law, a certain regularity and uniformity. We cannot have and have not had anything of the kind, and it was quite natural that when at the end of the war the possibility finally arose to give the starving population a little more, we were unable all at once to establish the correct proportion. We should have obviously limited the increase in the ration, so as to create a certain reserve fund for a rainy day, which was due to come in the spring, and which has now arrived. That we failed to do. Once again it is a mistake typical of all our work, a mistake which shows that the transition from war to peace confronted us with a whole number of difficulties and problems, and we had neither the experience, the training, nor the requisite material to overcome them, and this worsened, intensified and aggravated the crisis to an extraordinary extent.
We undoubtedly had something similar in fuel. It is crucial to economic construction. The output estimates and proper distribution of fuel had, of course, to be the basis for the entire transition from war to peace—to economic construction—which was discussed at the previous Party Congress and which has been the main concern and the focal point of all our policy during the year under review. There can be no question of overcoming our difficulties or rehabilitating our industry without it. In this respect, we are clearly in a better position now than we were last year. We used to be cut off from the coal and oil districts, but we got the coal and oil after the Red Army’s victories. In any case, our fuel resources have increased. We know that the fuel resources with which we entered upon the year under review were greater than before. Accordingly, we made the mistake of immediately permitting such a wide distribution of fuel that these resources were exhausted and we were faced with a fuel crisis beIore we had put everything in proper working order. You will hear special reports on all these problems, and I cannot even give you any approximate figures. But in any case, bearing in mind the experience of the past, we must say that this mistake was due to a wrong understanding of the state of affairs and the rapid pace of transition from war to peace. It turned out that the transition could only be made at a much slower pace than we had imagined. The lesson driven home to us over the past year is that the preparations had to be longer, and the pace slower. It is a lesson that the whole Party will need particularly to learn in order to determine our main tasks for the year ahead, if we are to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
I must add that the crop failure aggravated these mistakes and especially the resultant crises. I have pointed out that the food effort during the year under review gave us very much better food reserves, but that too was one of the main sources of the crises, because the crop failure had led to an acute feed shortage, a great loss of cattle and widespread ruin among the peasants, so that these grain procurements fell mainly in places where the grain surplus was not very large. There are far greater surpluses in various outlying areas of the Republic, in Siberia and in the Northern Caucasus, but it is there that the Soviet power was less stable, the Soviet government apparatus least efficient, and transportation from over there was very difficult. That is why it turned out that we collected the increased food reserves from the gubernias with the poorer crops and this went to intensify the crisis in the peasant economy considerably.
Here again we clearly see that our estimates were not as accurate as they should have been. But then we were in such a tight corner that we had no choice. A country which, after a devastating imperialist war, survived such a thing as a long civil war, could not, of course, exist without giving the front everything it had. And, once ruined, what could it do but take the peasants’ surpluses, even without compensating them by any other means. We had to do this to save the country, the army, and the workers’ and peasants’ government. We said to the peasants: “Of course, you are lending your grain to the workers’ and peasants’ state, but unless you do, you cannot expect to save the country from the landowners and the capitalists.” We could do nothing else in the circumstances forced upon us by the imperialists and the capitalists through their war. We had no choice. But these circumstances led to such a weakening of the peasant economy after the long war that the crop failure was due also to the smaller sown area, worsening equipment, lower crop yields, shortage of hands, etc. The crop failure was disastrous, but the collection of surplus grain, which was rather better than we had expected, was accompanied by an aggravation of the crisis that may bring us still greater difficulties and calamities in the months to come. We must carefully reckon with this fact when analysing our political experience of the past year, and the political tasks we set ourselves for the year ahead. The year under review has left the following year with the same urgent problems.
I shall now deal with another point from a totally different sphere—the trade union discussion, which has taken up so much of the Party’s time. I mentioned it earlier on today, and could naturally only venture the cautious remark that I thought many of you would consider this discussion as being too great a luxury. I must add, for my part, that I think it was quite an impermissible luxury, and we certainly made a mistake when we allowed it, for we had failed to realise that we were pushing into the forefront a question which for objective reasons cannot be there. We allowed ourselves to indulge in this luxury, failing to realise how much attention we distracted from the vital and threatening question before us, namely, this question of the crisis. What are the actual results of this discussion, which has been going on for so many months and which must have bored most of you? You will hear special reports on it, but I should like to draw your attention to one aspect of the matter. It is that in this case the saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”, has been undoubtedly justified.
Unfortunately, there was rather a lot of cloud, and very little silver lining. (Laughter.) Still, the silver lining was there, for although we lost a great deal of time and diverted the attention of our Party comrades from the urgent tasks of the struggle against the petty-bourgeois elements surrounding us, we did learn to discern certain relationships which we had not seen before. The good thing was that the Party was bound to learn something from this struggle. Although we all knew that, being the ruling party, we had inevitably to merge the Party and government leadership— they are merged and will remain so—the Party nevertheless learned a certain lesson in this discussion which cannot be ignored. Some platforms mostly got the votes of the “top” section of the Party. Some platforms which were sometimes called “the platforms of the Workers’ Opposition”, and sometimes by other names, clearly proved to be an expression of a syndicalist deviation. That is not just my personal opinion, but that of the vast majority of those present. (Voices : “That’s right.”)
In this discussion, the Party proved itself to have matured to such an extent that, aware of a certain wavering of the “top” section and hearing the leadership say: “We cannot agree—sort us out,” it mobilised rapidly for this task and the vast majority of the more important Party organisations quickly responded: “We do have an opinion, and we shall let you know it.”
During the discussion we got a number of platforms. There were so many of them that, although in view of my position I should have read them all, I confess I had not. (Laughter.) I do not know whether all those present had found the time to read them, but, in any case, I must say that this syndicalist, and to a certain degree even semi-anarchist, deviation, which has crystallised, gives food for thought. For several months we allowed ourselves to wallow in the luxury of studying shades of opinion. Meanwhile, the demobilisation of the army was producing banditry and aggravating the economic crisis. The discussion should have helped us to understand that our Party, with at least half a million members and possibly even more, has become, first, a mass party, and, second, the government party, and that as a mass party it reflects something of what is taking place outside its ranks. It is extremely important to understand this.
There would be nothing to fear from a slight syndicalist or semi-anarchist deviation; the Party would have swiftly and decisively become aware of it, and would have set about correcting it. But it is no time to argue about theoretical deviations when one of them is bound up with the tremendous preponderance of peasants in the country, when their dissatisfaction with the proletarian dictatorship is mounting, when the crisis in peasant farming is coming to a head, and when the demobilisation of the peasant army is setting loose hundreds and thousands of broken men who have nothing to do, whose only accustomed occupation is war and who breed banditry. At the Congress, we must make it quite clear that we cannot have arguments about deviations and that we must put a stop to that. The Party Congress can and must do this; it must draw the appropriate lesson, and add it to the Central Committee’s political report, consolidate and confirm it, and make it a Party law and duty. The atmosphere of the controversy is becoming extremely dangerous and constitutes a direct threat to the dictatorship of the proletariat.
A few months ago, when I had occasion to meet and argue with some comrades in a discussion and said, “Beware, this constitutes a threat to working-class rule and the dictatorship of the proletariat,” they replied, “This is intimidation, you are terrorising us.” On several occasions I have had to hear my remarks being labelled in this manner, and accusations of intimidation thrown about, and I replied that it would be absurd for me to try to intimidate old revolutionaries who had gone through all sorts of ordeals. But when you see the difficulties the demobilisation is producing you can no longer say it was an attempt at intimidation, or even an unavoidable exaggeration in the heat of the controversy; it was, in fact, an absolutely exact indication of what we now have, and of our need for unity, discipline and restraint. We need all this not only because otherwise a proletarian party cannot work harmoniously, but because the spring has brought and will bring even more difficult conditions in which we cannot function without maximum unity. These two main lessons, I think, we shall still be able to learn from the discussion. I think it necessary to say, therefore, that whilst we did indulge in luxury and presented the world with a remarkable example of a party, engaged in a most desperate struggle, permitting itself the luxury of devoting unprecedented attention to the detailed elucidation of separate points of platforms—all this in face of a crop failure, a crisis, ruin and demobilisation—we shall now draw from these lessons a political conclusion—not just a conclusion pointing to some mistake, but a political conclusion—concerning the relations between classes, between the working class and the peasants. These relations are not what we had believed them to be. They demand much greater unity and concentration of forces on the part of the proletariat, and under the dictatorship of the proletariat they are a far greater danger than all the Denikins, Kolchaks and Yudeniches put together. It would be fatal to be deluded on this score! The difficulties stemming from the petty-bourgeois elemont are enormous, and if they are to be overcome, we must have great unity, and I don’t mean just a semblance of unity. We must all pull together with a single will, for in a peasant country only the will of the mass of proletarians will enable the proletariat to accomplish the great tasks of its leadership and dictatorship.
Assistance is on its way from the West-European countries but it is not coming quickly enough. Still it is coming and growing.
I pointed out this morning that one of the most important factors of the period under review, one closely related to the work of the Central Committee, is the organisation of the Second Congress of the Comintern. Of course, compared with last year, the world revolution has made considerable headway. Of course, the Communist International, which at the time of last year’s Congress existed only in the form of proclamations, has now begun to function as an independent party in each country, and not merely as an advanced party—communism has become central to the working-class movement as a whole. In Germany, France and Italy the Communist International has become not only the centre of the working-class movement, but also the focus of political life in these countries. Any German or French newspaper you picked up last autumn contained abuse of Moscow and the Bolsheviks, who were called all sorts of names; in fact, the Bolsheviks and the 21 conditions for admission to the Third International were made the central issue of their entire political life. That is an achievement no one can take away from us! It shows how the world revolution is growing and how it is paralleled by the aggravation of the economic crisis in Europe. But in any case, it would be madness on our part to assume that help will shortly arrive from Europe in the shape of a strong proletarian revolution, and I am sure no one here is making such an assumption. In these last three years, we have learned to understand that placing our stake on the world revolution does not mean relying on a definite date, and that the accelerating pace of development may or may not lead to a revolution in the spring. Therefore, we must be able to bring our work in line with the class balance here and elsewhere, so as to be able to maintain the dictatorship of the proletariat for a long time, and, however gradually, to remedy all our numerous misfortunes and crises. This is the only correct and sober approach.
I shall now turn to an item concerning the work of the Central Committee during the present year which is closely related to the tasks facing us. It is the question of our foreign relations.
Prior to the Ninth Party Congress, our attention and all our endeavours were aimed at switching from our relations of war with the capitalist countries to relations of peace and trade. For that purpose we undertook all sorts of diplomatic moves and bested men who were undoubtedly skilled diplomats. When, for instance, the representatives of America or of the League of Nations proposed that we halt hostilities against Denikin and Kolchak on certain stated terms, they thought we would land in difficulties. In actual fact, it was they who landed in difficulties and we who scored a great diplomatic victory. They were made to look silly, they had to withdraw their terms, and this was subsequently exposed in all the diplomatic writings and press of the world. But we cannot rest content with a diplomatic victory. We need more than that: we need genuine trade relations. However, only this year has there been some development in trade relations. There is the question of trade relations with Britain, which has been central since the summer of last year. In this connection, the war with Poland was a considerable setback for us. Britain was ready to sign a trade agreement. The British bourgeoisie wanted it, but court circles in Britain were against it and hampered it, and the war with Poland delayed it. It so happens that the matter has not been settled yet.
Today ’s papers, I think, say that Krasin has told the press in London that he expects the trade agreement to be signed shortly.] I do not know whether these hopes are fully justified. I cannot be certain that it will actually take place, but for my part I must say that we in the Central Committee have devoted a great deal of attention to this question and considered it correct for us to compromise in order to achieve a trade agreement with Britain. Not only because we could obtain more from Britain than from other countries—she is, in this respect, not as advanced as, say, Germany or America. She is a colonial power, with too great a stake in Asian politics, and is sometimes too sensitive to the successes of the Soviet power in certain countries lying near her colonies. That is why our relations with Britain are especially tenuous. This tenuousness arises from such an objective tangle of causes that no amount of skill on the part of the Soviet diplomatists will help. But we need a trade treaty with Britain owing to the possibility opening up for a treaty with America, whose industrial capacity is so much greater.
The concession issue is bound up with this. We devoted far more attention to it last year than before. A decree of the Council of People’s Commissars issued on November 23 set out the concession question in a form most acceptable to foreign capitalists. When certain misinterpretations or insufficient understanding of this problem arose in Party circles, a number of meetings of senior Party workers were held to discuss it. On the whole, there was not a great deal of disagreement, although we did hear of many protests from workers and peasants. They said: “We got rid of our own capitalists, and now they want to call in some foreign capitalists.” Of course, the Central Committee had no statistics at its disposal to decide to what extent these protests were due to ignorance, or expressed the hopes of the kulak or outright capitalist section of the non-Party people who believe they have a legitimate right to be capitalists in Russia, and not like the foreign capitalists who are invited in without any power, but with real power. Indeed, it is most unlikely that statistics on such factors are available anywhere in the world. But this decree was, at any rate, a step towards establishing relations with a view to granting concessions. I must add that in practice—and this is something we must never forget—we have not secured a single concession. The point at issue is whether we should try to get them at all costs. Whether we get them or not does not depend on our arguments or decisions, but on international capital. On February 1 of this year, the Council of People’s Commissars took another decision on the concessions. Its first clause says: “To approve in principle the granting of oil concessions in Grozny and Baku and at other working oilfields and to open negotiations which should be pressed forward.”
There was some difference of opinion on this point. Some comrades thought it was wrong to grant concessions in Grozny and Baku, as this would arouse opposition among the workers. The majority on the Central Committee, including myself, took the view that there were possibly no grounds for the complaints.
The majority on the Central Committee and I myself took the view that it was essential to grant these concessions, and we shall ask you to back it up with your authority. It is vital to have such an alliance with the state trusts of the advanced countries because our economic crisis is so deep that we cannot, on our own, rehahilitate our ruined economy without machinery and technical aid from abroad. Getting the equipment out here is not enough. We could grant concessions to the biggest imperialist trusts on a wider basis: say, a quarter of Baku, a quarter of Grozny, and a quarter of our best forest reserves, so as to assure ourselves of an essential basis by the installation of the most modern machinery; on the other hand, in return for this we shall be getting badly needed machinery for the remaining part. In this way we shall be able to close a part—say, a quarter or a half—of the gap between us and the modern, advanced trusts of other countries. No one, with anything like a sober view of the present situation, will doubt that unless we do this we shall be in a very difficult position indeed, and shall be unable to overtake them without a superhuman effort. Negotiations with some of the largest world trusts have already begun. Naturally, for their part they are not simply doing us a good turn: they are in it only for the fantastic profits. Modern capitalism—as a non-belligerent diplomat would put it—is a robber, a ring. It is not the old capitalism of pre-war days: because of its monopoly of the world market its profit margins run to hundreds of per cents. Of course, this will exact a high price, but there is no other way out because the world revolution is marking time. There is no other way for us to raise our technology to the modern level. And if one of the crises were to give a sharp spur to the world revolution, and if it were to arrive before the concession terms ran out, our concession obligations would turn out to be less onerous than they appear on paper.
On February 1, 1921, the Council of People’s Commissars decided to purchase 18,500,000 poods of coal abroad, for our fuel crisis was already in evidence. It had already become clear by then that we would have to expend our gold reserves not only on the purchase of machinery. In the latter case, our coal output would have increased, for we would have boosted our production if, instead of coal, we had bought machines abroad to develop our coal industry, but the crisis was so acute that we had to opt for the worse economic step and spend our money on the coal we could have produced at home. We shall have to make further compromises to buy consumer goods for the peasants and workers.
I should now like to deal with the Kronstadt events. I have not yet received the latest news from Kronstadt, but I have no doubt that this mutiny, which very quickly revealed to us the familiar figures of whiteguard generals, will be put down within the next few days, if not hours. There can be no doubt about this. But it is essential that we make a thorough appraisal of the political and economic lessons of this event.
What does it mean? It was an attempt to seize political power from the Bolsheviks by a motley crowd or alliance of ill-assorted elements, apparently just to the right of the Bolsheviks, or perhaps even to their “left”—you can’t really tell, so amorphous is the combination of political groupings that has tried to take power in Kronstadt. You all know, undoubtedly, that at the same time whiteguard generals were very active over there. There is ample proof of this. A fortnight before the Kronstadt events., the Paris newspapers reported a mutiny at Kronstadt. It is quite clear that it is the work of Socialist-Revolutionaries and whiteguard émigrés, and at the same time the movement was reduced to a petty-bourgeois counter-revolution and petty-bourgeois anarchism. That is something quite new. This circumstance, in the context of all the crises, must be given careful political consideration and must be very thoroughly analysed. There is evidence here of the activity of petty-bourgeois anarchist elements with their slogans of unrestricted trade and invariable hostility to the dictatorship of the proletariat. This mood has had a wide influence on the proletariat. It has had an effect on factories in Moscow and a number of provincial centres. This petty-bourgeois counter-revolution is undoubtedly more dangerous than Denikin, Yudenich and Kolchak put together, because ours is a country where the proletariat is in a minority, where peasant property has gone to ruin and where, in addition, the demobilisation has set loose vast numbers of potentially mutinous elements. No matter how big or small the initial, shall I say, shift in power, which the Kronstadt sailors and workers put forward—they wanted to correct the Bolsheviks in regard to restrictions in trade—and this looks like a small shift, which leaves the same slogans of “Soviet power” with ever so slight a change or correction. Yet, in actual fact the whiteguards only used the non-Party elements as a stepping stone to get in. This is politically inevitable. We saw the petty-bourgeois, anarchist elements in the Russian revolution, and we have been fighting them for decades. We have seen them in action since February 1917, during the great revolution, and their parties’ attempts to prove that their programme differed little from that of the Bolsheviks, but that only their methods in carrying it through were different. We know this not only from the experience of the October Revolution, but also of the outlying regions and various areas within the former Russian Empire where the Soviet power was temporarily replaced by other regimes. Let us recall the Democratic Committee in Samara. They all came in demanding equality, freedom, and a constituent assembly, and every time they proved to be nothing but a conduit for whiteguard rule. Because the Soviet power is being shaken by the economic situation, we must consider all this experience and draw the theoretical conclusions a Marxist cannot escape. The experience of the whole of Europe shows the practical results of trying to sit between two stools. That is why in this context we must say that political friction, in this case, is a great danger. We must take a hard look at this petty-bourgeois counter-revolution with its calls for freedom to trade. Unrestricted trade—even if it is not as bound up initially with the whiteguards as Kronstadt was—is still only the thin end of the wedge for the whiteguard element, a victory for capital and its complete restoration. We must, I repeat, have a keen sense of this political danger.
It shows what I said in dealing with our platforms discussion: in face of this danger we must understand that we must do more than put an end to Party disputes as a matter of form—we shall do that, of course. We need to remember that we must take a much more serious approach to this question.
We have to understand that, with the peasant economy in the grip of a crisis, we can survive only by appealing to the peasants to help town and countryside. We must bear in mind that the bourgeoisie is trying to pit the peasants against the workers; that behind a façade of workers’ slogans it is trying to incite the petty-bourgeois anarchist elements against the workers. This, if successful, will lead directly to the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat and, consequently, to the restoration of capitalism and of the old landowner and capitalist regime. The political danger here is obvious. A number of revolutions have clearly gone that way; we have always been mindful of this possibility and have warned against it. This undoubtedly demands of the ruling party of Communists, and of the leading revolutionary elements of the proletariat a different attitude to the one we have time and again displayed over the past year. It is a danger that undoubtedly calls for much greater unity and discipline; it undoubtedly requires that we should all pull harder together. Otherwise we shall not cope with the dangers that have fallen to our lot.
Then there are the economic problems. What is the meaning of the unrestricted trade demanded by the petty-bourgeois elements? It is that in the proletariat’s relations with the small farmers there are difficult problems and tasks we have yet to solve. I am-speaking of the victorious proletar iat’s relations with the small proprietors when the proletarian revolution unfolds in a country where the proletariat is in a minority, and the petty bourgeoisie, in a majority. In such a country the proletariat’s role is to direct the transition of these small proprietors to socialised and collective work. Theoretically this is beyond dispute. We have dealt with this transition in a number of legislative acts, but we know that it does not turn on legislative acts, but on practical implementation, which, we also know, can be guaranteed when you have a very powerful, large-scale industry capable of providing the petty producer with such benefits that he will see its advantages in practice.
That is how Marxists and all socialists who have given thought to the social revolution and. its tasks have always regarded the question in theory. But Russia’s most pronounced characteristic of which I have spoken is that we have, on the one hand, not only a minority, but a considerable minority of proletarians, and, on the other, a vast majority of peasants. And the conditions in which we have had to defend the revolution made the solution of our problems incredibly difficult. We have not been able to show all the advantages of large-scale production, for it lies in ruins, and is dragging out a miserable existence. It can only be rehabilitated by demanding sacrifices from these very same small farmers. To get industry on its feet you need fuel; if you need fuel, you must rely on firewood; and if you rely on firewood, you must look to the peasant and his horse. In conditions of crisis, the fodder shortage and the loss of cattle, the peasant must give his produce on credit to the Soviet power for the sake of a large-scale industry which has not yet given him a thing. That is the economic situation which gives rise to enormous difficulties and demands a deeper analysis of the conditions of transition from war to peace. We cannot run a war-time economy otherwise than by telling the peasants: “You must make loans to the workers’ and peasants’ state to help it pull through.” When concentrating on economic rehabilitation, we must understand that we have before us a small farmer, a small proprietor and producer who will work for the market until the rehabilitation and triumph of large-scale production. But rehabilitation on the old basis is impossible; it will take years, at least a decade, and possibly longer, in view of the havoc. Until then we shall have to deal, for many long years, with the small producer as such, and the unrestricted trade slogan will be inevitable. It is dangerous, not because it covers up the aspirations of the whiteguards and Mensheviks, but because it may become widespread in spite of the peasants’ hatred for the whiteguards. It is apt to spread because it conforms to the economic conditions of the small producer’s existence. It is out of such considerations that the Central Committee adopted its decision to start a discussion on the substitution of a tax for surplus food appropriation and today placed this question squarely before the Congress, a motion which today’s resolution approves. The tax and appropriation problem had been brought up in our legislation a long time ago, back in late 1918. The tax law was dated October 30, 1918. The law on a tax in kind on the farmer was enacted, but never became operative. A number of instructions were issued in the few months after its promulgation, but it was never applied. On the other hand, the confiscation of surpluses from the peasants was a measure with which we were saddled by the imperative conditions of war-time, but which no longer applies to anything like the peace time conditions of the peasant’s economy. He needs the assurance that, while he has to give away a certain amount, he will have so much left to sell locally.
This transition is bound up with such difficulties and has so clearly delineated this petty-bourgeois element, that we must take a sober view of it. We view this series of events in terms of the class struggle, and we have never doubted that the relations between the proletariat and the petty bourgeoisie are a difficult problem, demanding complex measures or, to be more accurate, a whole system of complex, transitional measures, to ensure the victory of the proletarian power. The fact that we issued our tax in kind decree at the end of 1918 proves that the Communists were aware of this problem, but were unable to solve it because of the war. With the Civil War on, we had to adopt war-time measures. But it would be a very great mistake indeed if we drew the conclusion that these are the only measures and relations possible. That would surely lead to the collapse of the Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat. When the transition to peace takes place in a period of economic crisis, it should be borne in mind that it is easier to build up a proletarian state in a country with large-scale production than in one with a predominantly small-scale production. This problem has to be approached in a whole number of ways, and we do not close our eyes to these difficulties, or forget that the proletariat is one thing, and the small-scale producer, another. We have not forgotten that there are different classes, that petty-bourgeois, anarchist counter-revolution is a political step to whiteguard rule. We must face this squarely, with an awareness that this needs, on the one hand, maximum unity, restraint and discipline within the proletarian party, and on the other, a series of economic measures which we have not been able to carry out so far because of the war. We must recognise the need to grant concessions, and purchase machinery and equipment to satisfy agriculture, so as to exchange them for grain and re-establish relations between the proletariat and the peasants which will enable it to exist in peace-time conditions. I trust that we shall return to this problem, and I repeat that, in my view, we are dealing here with an important matter, and that the past year, which must be characterised as a period of transition from war to peace, confronts us with some extremely difficult problems.
Let me say a few words in conclusion about combating bureaucratic practices, the question which has taken up so much of our time. It came up before the Central Committee last summer; in August the Central Committee sent a circular to all organisations, and the matter was put before a Party conference in September. Finally, at the December Congress of Soviets, it was dealt with on a wider scale. We do have a bureaucratic ulcer; it has been diagnosed and has to be treated in earnest. Of course, in the discussion that we have had some platforms dealt with the problem quite frivolously, to say the least, and, by and large, from a petty-bourgeois viewpoint. There is no doubt that some discontent and stirrings have recently been in evidence among non-Party workers. Non-Party meetings in Moscow have clearly turned “democracy” and “freedom” into slogans leading up to the overthrow of the Soviet power. Many, or, at any rate, some representatives of the Workers’ Opposition have battled against this petty-bourgeois, counter-revolutionary evil, and have said: “We shall unite against this.” And in actual fact they have been able to display the maximum unity. I cannot tell whether all the supporters of the Workers’ Opposition group and other groups with semi-syndicalist platforms are like them. We need to learn more about this at the Congress, we need to understand that the struggle against the evils of bureaucracy is absolutely indispensable, and that it is just as intricate as the fight against the petty-bourgeois element. The bureaucratic practices of our state system have become such a serious malaise that they are dealt with in our Party Programme, because they are connected with this petty-bourgeois element, which is widely dispersed. This malaise can only be cured by the working people’s unity and their ability not only to welcome the decrees of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection (have you seen many decrees that have not been welcomed?) but to exercise their right through the Inspection, something you don’t find either in the villages, the towns, or even the capital cities. Those who shout loudest against the evils of bureaucracy very frequently do not know how to exercise this right. Very great attention needs to be paid to this fact.
In this area, we often see those who battle against this evil, possibly with a sincere desire to help the proletarian party, the proletarian dictatorship and the proletarian movement, actually helping the petty-bourgeois, anarchist element, which on more than one occasion during the revolution has shown itself to be the most dangerous enemy of the proletarian dictatorship. And now—and this is the main conclusion and lesson of the past year—it has once again shown itself to be the most dangerous enemy, which is most likely to have followers and supporters in a country like ours, to change the mood of the broad masses and to affect even a section of the non-Party workers. That is when the proletarian state finds itself in a very difficult position. Unless we understand this, learn our lesson, and make this Congress a turning-point both in cconomic policy and in the sense of maximum unity of the proletariat, we shall have to apply to ourselves the unfortunate saying: we have forgotten nothing of what—small and trifling at times—deserves to be forgotten, and have learned nothing of the serious things this year of the revolution should have taught us. I hope that will not be the case! (Stormy applause.)
3. Summing-Up Speech On The Report Of The CC Of The RCP(b)[edit source]
(Prolonged applause.) Comrades, one would have expected the criticism, remarks, additions and amendments, etc., elicited by the report on the political activity of the Central Committee to concentrate on political work and political mistakes, and to give political advice.
Unfortunately, when you take a closer look at the debate and go over the main points made in it, you cannot help asking yourself: Was it not because the speeches were so strangely vapid, and almost all the speakers were from the Workers’ Opposition, that the Congress folded up its debate so quickly? Indeed, just what has been said of the Central Committee’s political work and current political tasks? Most of the speakers said they belonged to the Workers’ Opposition. This is no trifling title. And it is no trifling matter to form an opposition in such a Party and at such a moment!
Comrade Kollontai, for example, said bluntly: “Lenin’s report evaded Kronstadt.” When I heard that I didn’t know what to say. Everyone present at this Congress knows perfectly well—newspaper reports will naturally not be as explicit as the speeches here are—that my report tied in everything—from beginning to end—with the lessons of Kronstadt. If anything, I deserve to be reproached for devoting the greater part of my report to the lessons that flow from the Kronstadt events, and the smaller part to past mistakes, political facts and crucial points in our work, which, in my opinion, determine our political tasks and help us to avoid such mistakes in the future.
What did we hear of the lessons of Kronstadt?
When people come forward in the name of an opposition, which they call a “workers’” opposition, and say that the Central Committee has failed to steer the Party’s policy properly, we must tell them that we need pointers indicating what was wrong on the main questions, and ways of rectifying it. Unfortunately, we heard absolutely nothing, not a word or sound, about the present situation and its lessons. No one even touched upon the conclusion that I drew. It may be wrong, but the whole point of making reports at congresses is precisely to rectify what is wrong. The political conclusion to be drawn from the present situation is that the Party must be united and any opposition prevented. The economic conclusion is that we must not rest content with what has been achieved in the policy of reaching an agreement between the working class and the peasantry; we must seek new ways and put them to the test. I was quite specific about what we needed to do. Perhaps I was wrong, but nobody said a word about that. One of the speakers, I think it was Ryazanov, reproached me only for having suddenly sprung the tax on the Congress, before the ground had been prepared for it by discussion. That is not true. The surprising thing is that responsible comrades can make such statements at a Party Congress. The tax discussion was started in Pravda a few weeks ago. If the comrades who are fond of the game of opposition and like to complain that we are not providing an opportunity for hroad discussion did not choose to take part in it, they have no one to blame but themselves. We are connected with Pravda’s editorial board not only through Comrade Bukharin’s being a member of the Central Committee, but also through the Central Committee discussions of all the most important subjects and lines of policy. Otherwise there can be no political work. The Central Committee submitted the tax question for discussion. Articles were published in Pravda. Nobody replied to them. Those who refrained from replying showed that they did not wish to go into the matter. When, at a meeting of the Moscow Soviet—after these articles had been published—somebody, I do not remember whether it was a non-Party man or a Menshevik, got up and began to talk about the tax, I said: You don’t seem to know what’s being said in Pravda. It was more natural to say that sort of thing to a non-Party man than to a member of the Party. It was no accident that the discussion was started in Pravda; and we shall have to deal with it here. The criticism has been altogether unbusiness-like. The question was put up for discussion, and the critics should have taken part in it; because they had failed to do so, their criticism is groundless. The same may be said of the political question. I repeat: all my attention was concentrated on drawing the correct conclusion from recent events.
We are passing through a period of grave danger: as I have said the petty-bourgeois counter-revolution is a greater danger than Denikin. The comrades did not deny this. The peculiar feature of this counter-revolution is that it is petty-bourgeois and anarchistic. I insist that there is a connection between its ideas and slogans and those of the Workers’ Opposition. There was no response to this from any of the speakers, although most of them belonged to the Workers’ Opposition. And yet, the Workers’ Opposition pamphlet, which Comrade Kollontai published for the Congress, serves to confirm my assertion better than anything else. And I suppose I shall have to deal chiefly with this pamphlet to explain why the counter-revolution, to which I have referred, is assuming an anarchist, petty-bourgeois form, why it is so vast and dangerous, and why the speakers from the Workers’ Opposition have failed entirely to realise the danger.
But before replying to them I want to say a word or two, before I forget, on another subject, namely Osinsky. This comrade, who has written a great deal and has brought out his own platform, gets up and criticises the Central Committee’s report. We could have expected him to criticise our principal measures, and this would have been very valuable for us. Instead, he said that we had “thrown out” Sapronov, which showed that our calls for unity were at variance with our deeds; and he made a point of stressing that two members of the Workers’ Opposition had been elected to the Presidium. I am surprised that an extremely prominent Party worker and writer, who occupies a responsible post, can talk about such trifles, which are of tenth-rate importance! Osinsky has the knack of seeing political trickery in everything. He sees it also in the fact that two seats on the Presidium were given to the Workers’ Opposition.
At a Party meeting in Moscow I called attention to the rise of the Workers’ Opposition, and I regret that I must do so again now, at the Party Congress. It had revealed itself in October and November by bringing in the two-room system, and the formation of factions.
We have repeatedly said, and I have, in particular, that our task is to separate the wheat from the chaff in the Workers’ Opposition, because it has spread to some extent, and has damaged our work in Moscow. There was no difference of opinion in the Central Committee on that score. There was evidence of damage to our work, the start of factionalism and a split in November, during the two-room conference—when some met here and others down at the other end of the floor, and when I had my share of the trouble, for I had to act as errand-boy and shuttle between the rooms.
Back in September, during the Party Conference, we regarded it as our task to separate the wheat from the chaff for the group could not be regarded as consisting entirely of good stuff. When we hear complaints about inadequate democracy, we say: it is absolutely true. Indeed, it is not heing practised sufficiently. We need assistance and advice in this matter. We need real democracy, and not just talk. We even accept those who call themselves the Workers’ Opposition, or something worse, although I think that for members of the Communist Party no name can be worse or more disreputable. But even if they had adopted a much worse title, we say to ourselves: since this is a malaise that has affected a section of the workers we must pay the closest attention to it. And we should be given credit for the very thing that Comrade Osinsky has accused us of, though why he should have done so, I don’t know.
I now come to the Workers’ Opposition. You have admitted that you are in opposition. You have come to the Party Congress with Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet which is entitled The Workers’ Opposition. When you sent in the final proofs, you knew about the Kronstadt events and the rising petty-bourgeois counter-revolution. And it is at a time like this that you come here, calling yourselves a Workers’ Opposition. You don ’t seem to realise the responsibility you are undertaking, and the way you are disrupting our unity! What is your object? We will question you and put you through a test right here.
Comrade Osinsky used this expression in a polemical sense; he seemed to think that we were guilty of some mistake or misdemeanour. Like Ryazanov, he saw political trickery in our policy towards the Workers’ Opposition. It is not political trickery; it is the policy the Central Committee has been pursuing, and will continue to pursue. Since unhealthy trends and groups have arisen, let us more than redouble our attention to them.
If there is anything at all sound in that opposition, we must make every effort to sift it from the rest. We cannot combat the evils of bureaucracy effectively, or practise democracy consistently because we lack the strength and are weak. We must enlist those who can help us in this matter, and expose and sift out those who produce such pamphlets on the pretext of helping us.
This task of sifting is being facilitated at the Party Congress. Representatives of the ailing group have been elected to the Presidium and these “poor”, “wronged”, and “banished” people will no longer dare to complain and wail. There’s the rostrum, up on it, and let’s have your answer! You have spoken more than anyone else. Now let us see what you have in store for us, with this looming danger, which, you admit, is a greater one than Denikin! What have you come up with? What is the nature of your criticism? We must have this test now, and I think it will be the final one. We have had enough of that sort of thing! The Party will not be trifled with in this way! Whoever comes to the Congress with such a pamphlet is trifling with the Party. You can’t play that kind of game when hundreds of thousands of demoralised veterans are playing havoc with our economy—the Party will not stand for such treatment. You can’t behave that way. You must realise that, and put a stop to it!
After these preliminary remarks about the election to the Presidium and the character of the Workers’ Opposition I want to draw your attention to Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet. It really deserves your attention, for it sums up the activity this opposition has been carrying on for several months, or the disintegration it has caused. It was said here, by a comrade from Samara, I think, that I had stuck the label of syndicalism on the Workers’ Opposition, in an “administrative” fashion. The reference is altogether misplaced, and we must investigate which of the questions calls for an administrative solution. Comrade Milonov tried to score with a terrifying catchword, but it fell flat. He said that I stuck on a label in “administrative” fashion. I have said before that at our meetings Comrade Shlyapnikov and others have accused me of “intimidating” people with the word “syndicalism”. When this was mentioned at one of our discussions, at the Miners’ Congress, I think, I replied to Comrade Shlyapnikov: “Do you hope to take in any grown-ups?” After all, Comrade Shlyapnikov and I have known each other for many, many years, ever since the period of our underground work and emigration—how can he say that I am trying to intimidate anyone by characterising certain deviations? And when I say that the stand of the Workers’ Opposition is wrong, and that it is syndicalism—what has administrating got to do with it?! And why does Comrade Kollontai write that I have been bandying the word “syndicalism” about in frivolous fashion? She ought to produce some proof before saying anything like that. I am prepared to allow that my proof is wrong, and that Comrade Kollontai’s statement is weightier—I am prepared to believe that. But we must have some little proof—not in the form of words about intimidating or administrating (which, unfortunately, my official duties compel me to engage in a great deal), but in the form of a definite reply, refuting my accusation that the Workers’ Opposition is a deviation towards syndicalism.
I made it before the whole Party, with a full sense of responsibility, and it was printed in a pamphlet in 250,000 copies, and everyone has read it. Evidently, all the comrades have prepared for this Congress, and they should know that the syndicalist deviation is an anarchist deviation, and that the Workers’ Opposition, which is hiding behind the backs of the proletariat, is a petty-bourgeois, anarchist element.
That it has been penetrating into the broad masses is evident, and the Party Congress has thrown light on this fact. That this element has become active is proved by Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet and Comrade Shlyapnikov’s theses. And this time you can’t get away with talk about being a true proletarian, as Comrade Shlyapnikov is in the habit of doing.
Comrade Kollontai starts her pamphlet with the following: “The opposition,” we read on page one, “consists of the advanced section of the class-organised proletarians, who are Communists.” A delegate from Siberia told the Miners’ Congress that over there they had discussed the same questions as were being discussed in Moscow, and Comrade Kollontai mentions this in her pamphlet:
“’We had no idea that there were disagreements and discussions in Moscow about the role of the trade unions,’ a delegate from Siberia told the Miners’ Congress, ’but we were set astir by the same questions that you are faced with over here.’”
“The Workers’ Opposition has the backing of the proletarian masses, or, to be more precise: it is the class-welded, class-conscious and class-consistent section of our industrial proletariat.”
Well, thank heaven, we now know that Comrade Kollontai and Comrade Shlyapnikov are “class-welded” and “class conscious”. But, comrades, when you say and write such things you must have some sense of proportion! Comrade Kollontai writes on page 25, and this is one of the main points of the Workers’ Opposition theses, the following:
“The organisation of the management of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers organised in trade and industrial unions, which shall elect a central body to run the whole of the national economy of the Republic.”
That is the very thesis of the Workers’ Opposition that I have quoted in every case in the discussion and in the press. I must say that after reading it I did not trouble to read the rest, as that would have been a waste of time; for that thesis made it quite clear that these people had reached the limit, and that theirs is a petty-bourgeois, anarchist element. Now, in the light of the Kronstadt events, that thesis sounds queerer than ever.
At the Second Congress of the Comintern last summer, I pointed to the significance of the resolution on the role of the Communist Party. It is a resolution uniting the Communist workers and the Communist Parties of the world. It explains everything. Does that mean that we are fencing off the Party from the whole of the working class, which is definitely exercising a dictatorship? That is what certain “Leftists” and very many syndicalists think, and the idea is now widespread. It is the product of petty-bourgeois ideology. The theses of the Workers’ Opposition fly in the face of the decision of the Second Congress of the Comintern on the Communist Party’s role in operating the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is syndicalism because—consider this carefully—our proletariat has been largely declassed; the terrible crises and the closing down of the factories have compelled people to flee from starvation. The workers have simply abandoned their factories; they have had to settle down in the country and have ceased to be workers. Are we not aware of the fact that the unprecedented crises, the Civil War, the disruption of proper relations between town and country and the cessation of grain deliveries have given rise to a trade in small articles made at the big factories—such as cigarette lighters—which are exchanged for cereals, because the workers are starving, and no grain is being delivered? Have we not seen this happen in the Ukraine, or in Russia? That is the economic source of the proletariat’s declassing and the inevitable rise of petty-bourgeois, anarchist trends.
The experience of all our hardships tells us how desperately hard it is to combat them. After two and a half years of the Soviet power we came out in the Communist International and told the world that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not work except through the Communist Party. At the time, the anarchists and syndicalists furiously attacked us and said: “You see, this is what they think—a Communist Party is needed to operate the proletarian dictatorship. But we said this before the whole Communist International. After all this, you have these “class conscious and class-welded” people coming and telling us that “the organisation of the management of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers” (Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet). What is this “All- Russia Congress of Producers”? Are we going to waste more time on that sort of opposition in the Party? I think we have had enough of this discussion! All the arguments about freedom of speech and freedom to criticise, of which the pamphlet is full and which run through all the speeches of the Workers’ Opposition, constitute nine-tenths of the meaning of these speeches, which have no particular meaning at all. They are all words of the same order. After all, comrades, we ought to discuss not only words, but also their meaning. You can’t fool us with words like “freedom to criticise”. When we were told that there were symptoms of a malaise in the Party, we said that this deserved our redoubled attention: the malaise is undoubtedly there, let us help to cure it; but tell us how you intend to go about it. We have spent quite a lot of time in discussion, and I must say that the point is now being driven farther home with “rifles” than with the opposition’s theses. Comrades, this is no time to have an opposition. Either you’re on this side, or on the other, but then your weapon must be a gun, and not an opposition. This follows from the objective situation, and you mustn’t blame us for it. Comrades, let’s not have an opposition just now! I think the Party Congress will have to draw the conclusion that the opposition’s time has run out and that the lid’s on it. We want no more oppositions! (Applause.)
This group has long been free to criticise. And now, at this Party Congress, we ask: What are the results and the content of your criticism? What have you taught the Party by your criticism? We are prepared to enlist the services of those of you who stand closest to the masses, the really class-welded and class-mature masses. If Comrade Oinsky regards this as political trickery he will be isolated, for the rest will regard it as a real help to Party members. We must really help those who live with the workers’ masses, who have intimate knowledge of them, who have experience and can advise the Central Committee. Let them call themselves what they like—it makes no difference—as long as they help in the work, as long as they help us, instead of playing at opposition and insisting on having groups and factions at all costs. But if they continue this game of opposition, the Party will have to expel them.
And when on this very same page of her pamphlet Comrade Kollontai writes in bold type about “lack of confidence in the working class”, the idea is that they are a real “workers’” opposition. There is an even more striking expression of this idea on page 36:
“The Workers’ Opposition cannot, and must not, make any concessions. This does not mean calling for a split. . . . No, its aim is different. Even in the event of defeat at the Coneress, it must remain within the Party and firmly defend its point of view, step by step, saving the Party and straightening out its line.”
“Even in the event of defeat at the Congress”—my word, what foresight! (Laughter.) You will pardon me if I take the liberty of saying, on my oun behalf, that I am sure that is something the Party Congress will certainly not permit! (Applause.) Everyone has the right to straighten out the Party’s line, and you have had every opportunity of doing so.
The condition has been laid down at the Party Congress that there must not be the slightest suspicion that we want to expel anybody. We welcome every assistance in getting democracy working, but when the people are exhausted it will take more than talk to do it. Everyone who wants to help is to be welcomed; but when they say that they will “make no concessions” and will make efforts to save the Party, while remaining in it, we say: yes, if you are allowed to stay! (Applause.)
In this case, we have no right to leave any room for ambiguity. We certainly need help in combating bureaucracy, safeguarding democracy, and extending contacts with the truly working-class masses. We can and must make “concessions” in this respect. And though they keep saying that they will not make any concessions, we shall repeat: We will. That’s not making concessions but helping the workers’ Party. In this way, we shall win over all the sound and proletarian elements in the Workers’ Opposition to the side of the Party, leaving outside the “class-conscious” authors of syndicalist speeches. (Applause.) This has been done in Moscow. The Moscow Gubernia Conference last November ended up in two rooms: some met in one, others, in another. That was the eve of a split. The last Moscow Conference said, “We will take from the Workers’ Opposition those we want, and not those they want “, because we need the assistance of men who are connected with the masses of workers and who can teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy in practice. This is a difficult task. I think the Party Congress should take note of the Muscovites’ experience and stage a test, not only on this point, but on all the points of the agenda. As a result, the people who declare that they “will make no concessions” must be told: “But the Party will.” We must all pull together. By means of this policy we shall sift the sound elements from the unsound in the Workers’ Opposition, and the Party will be strengthened.
Just think: it was said here that production should be run by an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”. I find myself groping for words to describe this nonsense, but am reassured by the fact that all the Party workers present here are also Soviet functionaries who have been doing their work for the revolution for one, two or three years. It is not worth criticising that sort of thing in their presence. When they hear such tedious speeches they close the discussion, because it is frivolous to speak of an “All-Russia Congress of Producers” running the national economy. A proposal of that kind could be made in a country where the political power has been taken but no start has been made on the work. We have made a start. And it is a curious fact that on page 33 of this pamphlet we find the following:
“The Workers’ Opposition is not so ignorant as to disregard the great role of technique and of technically trained forces. . . . It has no intention to set up its organs of administration of the national economy elected by the Producers’ Congress and then to dissolve the economic councils, chief administrations and central boards. No, the idea is quite different: it is to subordinate these necessary, technically valuable centres of administration to its guidance, assign theoretical tasks to them and use them in the same way as the factory owners once used the services of technical experts.”
In other words, Comrade Kollontai and Comrade Shlyapnikov, and their “class-welded” followers, are to subordinate to their necessary guidance the economic councils, chief administrations and central boards—all the Rykovs, Nogins and other “nonentities”—and assign to them theoretical tasks! Comrades, are we to take that seriously? If you have had any “theoretical tasks”, why had you not assigned them before? Why did we proclaim freedom of discussion? It was not merely to engage in verbal exchanges. During the war we used to say: “This is not the time for criticism: Wrangel is out there. We correct our mistakes by beating Wrangel.” After the war, we hear shouts of “We want freedom of discussion!” When we ask, “Tell us our mistakes!”, we are told, “The economic councils and chief administrations must not be dissolved; they must be assigned theoretical tasks.” Comrade Kiselyov, as a representative of the “class-welded “ Workers ’ Opposition, was left in an insignificant minority at the Miners’ Congress, but, when he was head of the Chief Administration of the Textile Industry, why did he not teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy? Why did not Comrade Shlyapnikov, when he was a People’s Commissar, and Comrade Kollontai, when she too was a People’s Commissar, why did they not teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy? We know that we have a touch of bureaucracy, and we, who have to deal with this bureaucratic machine at first hand, suffer as a result. You sign a paper—but how is it applied in practice? How do you check up on it, when the bureaucratic machine is so enormous? If you know how to make it smaller, dear comrades, please share your knowledge with us! You have a desire to argue, but you give us nothing apart from general statements. Instead, you indulge in demagogy pure and simple. For it is sheer demagogy to say: “The specialists are ill-treating the workers; the workers are leading a life of penal servitude in a toilers’ republic.”
Comrades, I entreat you all to read this pamphlet. You could not find a better argument against the Workers’ Opposition than Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet, The Workers’ Opposition. You will see that this is really no way to approach the question. We all admit that bureaucratic practices are a vexed question, and as much is stated in our Party Programme. It is very easy to criticise the chief administrations and economic councils, but your kind of criticism leads the masses of non-Party workers to think they should be dissolved. The Socialist-Rovolutionaries seize upon this Some Ukrainian comrades have told me that Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, at their conference, formulated their proposals in exactly the same way. And what about the Kronstadt resolutions? You have not all read them? We will show them to you: they say the same thing. I emphasised the danger of Kronstadt because it lies precisely in the fact that the change demanded was apparently very slight: “The Bolsheviks must go . . . we will correct the regime a little.” That is what the Kronstadt rebels are demanding. But what actually happened was that Savinkov arrived in Revel, the Paris newspapers reported the events a fortnight before they actually occurred, and a whiteguard general appeared on the scene. That is what actually happened. All revolutions have gone that way. That is why we are saying: Since we are faced with that sort of thing, we must unite, and, as I said in my first speech, counter it with rifles, no matter how innocent it may appear to be. To this the Workers’ Opposition does not reply, but says: “We shall not dissolve the economic councils but ’subordinate them to our guidance’.” The “All-Russia Congress of .Producers” is to subordinate to its guidance the Economic Council’s 71 chief administrations. I ask you: is that a joke? Can we take them seriously? This is the petty-bourgeois, anarchist element not only among the masses of the workers, but also in our own Party; and that is something we cannot tolerate in any circumstances. We have allowed ourselves a luxury: we gave these people the opportunity to express their opinions in the greatest possible detail and have heard their side of it several times. When I had occasion to debate with Comrades Trotsky and Kiselyov at the Second Miners’ Congress, two points of view were definitely revealed. The Workers’ Opposition said: “Lenin and Trotsky will unite.” Trotsky came out and said: “Those who fail to understand that it is necessary to unite are against the Party; of course we will unite, because we are men of the Party.” I supported him. Of course, Comrade Trotsky and I differed; and when more or less equal groups appear within the Central Committee, the Party will pass judgement, and in a way that will make us unite in accordance with the Party’s will and instructions. Those are the statements Comrade Trotsky and I made at the Miners’ Congress, and repeat here; but the Workers’ Opposition says: “We will make no concessions, but we will remain in the Party.” No, that trick won’t work! (Applause.) I repeat that in combating the evils of bureaucracy we welcome the assistance of every worker, whatever he may call himself, if he is sincere in his desire to help. This help is highly desirable if sincere. In this sense we will make “concessions” (I take the word in quotation marks). No matter how provocative the statements against us, we shall make “concessions” because we know how hard the going is. We cannot dissolve the economic councils and chief administrations. It is absolutely untrue to say that we have no confidence in the working class and that we are keeping the workers out of the governing bodies. We are on the look-out for every worker who is at all fit for managerial work; we are glad to have him and give him a trial. If the Party has no confidence in the working class and does not allow workers to occupy responsible posts, it ought to be ousted! Go on, be logical and say it! I have said that that is not true: we are on our last legs for want of men and we are propared to take any assistance, with both hands, from any efficient man, especially if he is a worker. But we have no men of this type, and this creates the ground for anarchy. We must keep up the fight against the evils of bureaucracy—and it demands hundreds of thousands of men.
Our Programme formulates the task of combating the evils of bureaucracy as one of extremely long duration. The wider the dispersal of the peasantry, the more inevitable are bureaucratic practices at the centre.
It is easy to write things like this: “There is something rotten in our Party.” You know what weakening the Soviet apparatus means when there are two million Russian émigrés abroad. They were driven out by the Civil War. They have gratified us by holding their meetings in Berlin, Paris, London, and all the other capitals but ours. They support this element that is called the small producer, the petty-bourgeois element.
We shall do everything that can be done to eliminate bureaucratic practices by promoting workers from below, and we shall accept every piece of practical advice on this matter. Even if we give this the inappropriate name of “concessions”, as some here have done, there is no doubt that, despite this pamphlet, 99 per cent of the Congress will say, “In spite of this we will make ’concessions’ and win over all that is sound.” Take your place by the side of the workers and teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy, if you know how to do it better than we do; but don’t talk as Shlyapnikov has done. That is not the sort of thing that one can brush aside. I shall not deal with the theoretical part of his speech because Kollontai said the same thing. I shall deal with the facts he quoted. He said that potatoes were rotting, and asked why Tsyurupa was not being prosecuted.
But I ask: Why is Shlyapnikov not prosecuted for making such statements? Are we seriously discussing discipline and unity in an organised Party, or are we at a meeting of the Kronstadt type? For his is a Kronstadt, anarchist type of statement, to which the response is a gun. We organised members of the Party, have come here to rectify our mistakes. If Shlyapnikov thinks that Tsyurupa ought to be prosecuted, why had he not, as an organised member of the Party, lodged a complaint with the Control Commission? When we were setting up the Control Commission, we said: The Central Committee is swamped with administrative work. Let us elect people who enjoy the confidence of the workers, who will not have so much administrative work and will be able to examine complaints on behalf of the Central Committee. This created a means of developing criticism and rectifying mistakes. If Tsyurupa was so wrong why was not a complaint lodged with the Control Commission? Instead, Shlyapnikov comes to the Congress, the most responsible assembly of the Party and the Republic, and starts hurling accusations about rotting potatoes, and asking why Tsyurupa is not being prosecuted. But I ask, doesn’t the Defence Department make any mistakes? Are not batt]es lost and waggons and supplies abandoned? Shall we then prosecute the military workers? Comrade Shlyapnikov comes here and hurls accusations which he himself does not believe, and which he cannot prove. Potatoes are rotting. Of course, many mistakes will be made, for our machinery wants adjustment, and our transport is not running smoothly. But when instead of a rectification of our mistakes such accusations are hurled at random, and when, in addition—as several comrades here have noted—there is an undertone of malice in this question of why Tsyurupa is not being prosecuted, then I say: Why not prosecute us, the Central Committee? We think that such talk is demagogy. Either proceedings should be started against Tsyurupa and us, or against Shlyapnikov; but no work can be done in such a spirit. When Party comrades talk as Shlyapnikov has done here—and he always talks like that at other meetings—and Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet says the same thing, although she mentions no names, we say: We cannot go on like this, for it is the kind of demagogy that the Makhno anarchists and the Kronstadt elements jump at. We are both members of the Party, and both of us are standing before this most responsible tribunal. If Tsyurupa has committed an unlawful act and we, the Central Committee, have condoned it, then why not come out with a definite charge, instead of throwing about words that will be caught up here, in Moscow, tomorrow, and immediately carried by the grapevine telegraph to the bourgeoisie. Tomorrow all the gossips in the Soviet offices will be rubbing their hands in glee and repeating your words with delight. If Tsyurupa is the kind of man Shlyapnikov accuses him of being, and if, as he demands, he ought to be prosecuted, then I say that we must seriously ponder over his words; such accusations are not lightly made. Those who make accusations of this sort should be either removed from the Party or told: We are putting you on this potato job; you go to such and such a gubernia and let’s see whether you have less rotting potatoes than in the gubernias under Tsyurupa’s charge.
4. Preliminary Draft Resolution On Improving The Condition Of Workers And Needy Peasants[edit source]
The exhaustion caused by the privation and the calamities and havoc of the seven-year war, and the overstrain due to the virtually superhuman exertions on the part of the working class of Russia over the past three and a half years, have now been so aggravated that they demand urgent measures on the part of the Soviet power.
The Tenth Congress of the RCP accordingly demands that the whole Party and all Party and Soviet establishments should redouble their attention to this question and immediately work out measures to improve the condition of the workers and ease their hardships at all costs.
The Congress approves of the decision taken by the Central Committee and the Soviet Government to release a part of the gold reserve for the purchase of consumer goods for the workers, and demands an extension of this measure and an immediate amendment, with that end in view, of our import plan.
The Congress authorises the Central Committee to set up a special Central Commission to implement urgent measures to improve the condition of the workers, which should be organised in such a way as to work in close contact with, on the one hand, the Central Committee of the RCP and the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, and, on the other, with the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence, for the swiftest implementation of the measures to be adopted, and to allow the workers themselves to exercise control over the implementation of these measures. The Commission must set up sub-commissions in the Commissariats which are in the best position right away to assign a part of their machinery and resources to help improve the condition of the workers (People’s Commissariats for Foreign Trade, Food, Defence, and Health, the Government Buildings Committee, etc.). Sub-commissions are especially needed in the gubernias where industrial workers are chiefly concentrated. The Congress entrusts the Central Committee and Party workers of the Commissariats concerned to work out an ordinance governing the operation of these commissions without delay.
In view of the acute hardships inflicted on the peasantry by the crop failure—in very many cases aggravated by the demobilisation of the army—the Tenth Congress authorises the Central Committee to take, through the Council of People’s Commissars and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, measures similar to those outlined above to improve the condition of needy peasants, without confining itself to the commission earlier set up for that purpose by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.
Published according to the manuscript
5. Speech On The Trade Unions[edit source]
Comrades, Comrade Trotsky was particularly polite in his polemics with me today and reproached me for being, or said that I was, extremely cautious. I thank him for the compliment, but regret that I cannot return it. On the contrary, I must speak of my incautious friend, so as to express my attitude to the mistake which has caused me to waste so much time, and which is now making us continue the debate on the trade union question, instead of dealing with more urgent matters. Comrade Trotsky had his final say in the discussion on the trade union question in Pravda of January 29, 1921. In his article, “There Are Disagreements, But Why Confuse Things?”, he accused me of being responsible for this confusion by asking who started it all. The accusation recoils on Trotsky, for he is trying to shift the blame. The whole of his article was based on the claim that he had raised the question of the role of the trade unions in production, and that this is the subject that ought to have been discussed. This is not true; it is not this that has caused the disagreements, and made them painful. And however tedious it may be after the discussion to have to repeat it again and again—true, I took part in it for only one month—I must restate that that was not the starting point; it started with the “shake-up” slogan that was proclaimed at the Fifth All-Russia Conference of Trade Unions on November 2-6. Already at that time it was realised by every one who had not overlooked Rudzutak’s resolution—and among those were the members of the Central Committee, including myself—that no disagreements could be found on the role of the trade unions in production. But the three month discussion revealed them. They existed, and they were a political mistake. During a discussion at the Bolshoi Theatre, Comrade Trotsky accused me before responsible Party workers of disrupting the discussion. I take that as a compliment: I did try to disrupt the discussion in the form it was being conducted, because with a severe spring ahead of us such pronouncements were harmful. Only the blind could have failed to see that.
Comrade Trotsky now laughs at my asking who started it all, and is surprised that I should reproach him for refusing to serve on the commission. I did it because this is very important, Comrade Trotsky, very important, indeed; your refusal to serve on the trade union commission was a violation of Central Committee discipline. And when Trotsky talks about it, the result is not a controversy, but a shake up of the Party, and a generation of bitter feeling; it leads to extremes—Comrade Trotsky used the expression “diabolical rage”. I recall an expression used by Comrade Holtzmann—I will not quote it because the word “diabolical” calls to mind something fiendish, whereas Holtzmann reminds one of something angelic. There is nothing “diabolical” about it, but we must not forget that both sides go to extremes, and, what is much more monstrous, some of the nicest comrades have gone to extremes. But when Comrade Trotsky’s authority was added to this, and when in a public speech on December 25 he said that the Congress must choose between two trends, such words are unpardonable! They constitute the political mistake over which we are flghting. And it is naïve for people to try to be witty about two-room conferences. I should like to see the wag who says that Congress delegates are forbidden to confer to prevent their votes from being split. That would be too much of an exaggeration. It was Comrade Trotsky and Tsektran’s political mistake to raise the “shake-up” question and to do it in an entirely wrong way. That was a political mistake, and it is yet to be rectified. As regards transport, we have a resolution.
What we are discussing is the trade union movement, and the relationship between the vanguard of the working class and the proletariat. There is nothing discreditable in our dismissing anybody from a high post. This casts no reflection upon anybody. If you have made a mistake the Congress will recognise it assuch and will restore mutual relations and mutual confidence between the vanguard of the working class and the workers’ mass. That is the meaning of the “Platform of Ten”. It is of no importance that there are things in it that can be substituted, and that this is emphasised by Trotsky and enlarged upon by Ryazanov. Someone said in a speech that there is no evidence of Lenin’s having taken a hand in the platform or of his having taken any part in drafting it. I say to this: If I had a hand, by writing or phoning, in everything I sign, I would have gone mad long ago. I say that in order to estab]ish mutual relations and mutual confidence between the vanguard of the working class and the workers’ mass, it was necessary, if Tsektran had made a mistake—and anyone can make a mistake—to rectify it. But it is a source of political danger to defend the mistake. We would have been faced with political bankruptcy if we had not done everything we could to turn the attitudes expressed here by Kutuzov to the service of democracy. Persuasion must come before coercion. We must make every effort to persuade people before applying coercion. We were not able to carry conviction to the broad masses, and disturbed the correct relationship between them and the vanguard.
When people like Kutuzov devote part of a business-like speech to pointing out the scandalous bureaucratic practices in our machinery we say: That is true, our state is one with bureaucratic distortions. And we invite the non-Party workers to join us in righting them. I must say here that we should enlist comrades like Kutuzov for this work and promote them. That is the lesson of our experience.
As for the syndicalist deviation—it is ridiculous. That is all we have to say to Shlyapnikov, who maintained that the “All-Russia Congress of Producers”, a demand set down in black and white in their platform and confirmed by Kollontai, can be upheld by a reference to Engels. Engels speaks of a communist society which will have no classes, and will consist only of producers. Do we now have classes? Yes, we do. Do we have a class struggle? Yes, and a most furious one! To come in the midst of this furious class struggle and talk about an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”,— isn’t that a syndicalist deviation which must be emphatically and irrevocably condemned? We saw that in this platform hurly-burly even Bukharin was tripped up by the one-third nomination proposal. Comrades, in the history of the Party we must not forget such waverings.
And now, since the Workers’ Opposition has defended democracy, and has made some sound demands, we shall do our utmost to mend our fences with it; and the Congress as such should make a definite selection. You say that we are not doing enough to combat the evils of bureaucracy—come and help us, come closer and help us in the fight; but it is not a Marxist, not a communist notion to propose an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”. The Workers Opposition, with Ryazanov’s help, is putting a false construction on our Programme which says: “The trade unions should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration in their hands of the whole administration of the whole national economy, as a single economic entity.” Exaggerating, as he always does, Shlyapnikov thinks that it will take us twenty-five centuries. . . . The Programme says: the trade unions “should eventually arrive”, and when a Congress says that this has been done, the demand will have been carried out.
Comrades, if the Congress now declares before the proletariat of the whole of Russia and of the whole world that it regards the proposals of the Workers’ Opposition as a syndicalist semi-deviation, I am sure that all the truly proletarian and sound elements in the opposition will follow us and help us to regain the confidence of the masses, which has been shaken by Tsektran’s slight mistake. I am sure that we shall strengthen and rally our ranks in a common effort and march forward together to the hard struggle that lies ahead. And marching forward unanimously, with firmness and resolution, we shall win out. (Applause.)
6. Report On The Substitution Of A Tax In Kind For The Surplus Grain Appropriation System[edit source]
Comrades, the question of substituting a tax for surplus-grain appropriation is primarily and mainly a political question, for it is essentially a question of the attitude of the working class to the peasantry. We are raising it because we must subject the relations of these two main classes, whose struggle or agreement determines the fate of our revolution as a whole, to a new or, I should perhaps say, a more careful and correct re-examination and some revision. There is no need for me to dwell in detail on the reasons for it. You all know very well of course what totality of causes, especially those due to the extreme want arising out of the war, ruin, demobilisation, and the disastrous crop failure—you know about the totality of circumstances that has made the condition of the peasantry especially precarious and critical and was bound to increase its swing from the proletariat to the bourgeoisie.
A word or two on the theoretical significance of, or the theoretical approach to, this issue. There is no doubt that in a country where the overwhelming majority of the population consists of small agricultural producers, a socialist revolution can be carried out only through the implementation of a whole series of special transitional measures which would be superfluous in highly developed capitalist countries where wage-workers in industry and agriculture make up the vast majority. Highly developed capitalist countries have a class of agricultural wage-workers that has taken shape over many decades. Only such a class can socially, economically, and politically support a direct transition to socialism. Only in countries where this class is sufficiently developed is it possible to pass directly from capitalism to socialism, without any special country-wide transitional measures. We have stressed in a good many written works, in all our public utterances, and all our statements in the press, that this is not the case in Russia. for here industrial workers are a minority and petty farmers are the vast majority. In such a country, the socialist revolution can triumph only on two conditions. First, if it is given timely support by a socialist revolution in one or several advanced countries. As you know, we have done very much indeed in comparison with the past to bring about this condition, but far from enough to make it a reality.
The second condition is agreement between the proletariat, which is exercising its dictatorship, that is, holds state power, and the majority of the peasant population. Agreement is a very broad concept which includes a whole series of measures and transitions. I must say at this point that our propaganda and agitation must be open and above-board. We must condemn most resolutely those who regard politics as a series of cheap little tricks, frequently bordering on deception. Their mistakes have to be corrected. You can’t fool a class. We have done very much in the past three years to raise the political consciousness of the masses. They have been learning most from the sharp struggles. In keeping with our world outlook, the revolutionary experience we have accumulated over the decades, and the lessons of our revolution, we must state the issues plainly—the interests of these two classes differ, the small farmer does not want the same thing as the worker.
We know that so long as there is no revolution in other countries, only agreement with the peasantry can save the socialist revolution in Russia. And that is how it must be I stated, frankly, at all meetings and in the entire press. We know that this agreement between the working class and the peasantry is not solid—to put it mildly, without entering the word “mildly” in the minutes—but, speaking plainly it is very much worse. Under no circumstances must we try to hide anything; we must plainly state that the peasantry is dissatisfied with the form of our relations, that it does not want relations of this type and will not continue to live as it has hitherto. This is unquestionable. The peasantry has expressed its will in this respect definitely enough. It is the will of the vast masses of the working population. We must reckon with this, and we are sober enough politicians to say frankly: let us re-examine our policy in regard to the peasantry. The state of affairs that has prevailed so far cannot be continued any longer.
We must say to the peasants: “If you want to turn back, if you want to restore private property and unrestricted trade in their entirety, it will certainly and inevitably mean falling under the rule of the landowners and the capitalists. This has been proved by a number of examples from history and examples of revolutions. The briefest examination of the ABC of communism and political economy will prove that this is inevitable. Let us then look into the matter. Is it or is it not in the interest of the peasantry to part ways with the proletariat only to slip back—and let the country slip back—to the rule of the capitalists and landowners? Consider this, and let us consider it together.”
We believe that if the matter is given proper consideration, the conclusion will be in our favour, in spite of the admittedly deep gulf between the economic interests of the proletariat and the small farmer.
Difficult as our position is in regard to resources, the needs of the middle peasantry must be satisfied. There are far more middle peasants now than before, the antagonisms have been smoothed out, the land has been distributed for use far more equally, the kulak’s position has been undermined and he has been in considerable measure expropriated—in Russia more than in the Ukraine, and less in Siberia. On the whole, however, statistics show quite definitely that there has been a levelling out, an equalisation, in the village, that is, the old sharp division into kulaks and cropless peasants has disappeared. Everything has become more equable, the peasantry in general has acquired the status of the middle peasant.
Can we satisfy this middle peasantry as such, with its economic peculiarities and economic roots? Any Communist who thought the economic basis, the economic roots, of small farming could be reshaped in three years was, of course, a dreamer. We need not conceal the fact that there were a good many such dreamers among us. Nor is there anything particularly bad in this. How could one start a socialist revolution in a country like ours without dreamers? Practice has, of course, shown the tremendous role all kinds of experiments and undertakings can play in the sphere of collective agriculture. But it has also afforded instances of these experiments as such playing a negative role, when people, with the best of intentions and desires, went to the countryside to set up communes but did not know how to run them because they had no experience in collective endeavour. The experience of these collective farms merely provided examples of how not to run farms: the peasants around either laughed or jeered.
You know perfectly well how many cases there have been of this kind. I repeat that this is not surprising, for it will take generations to remould the small farmer, and recast his mentality and habits. The only way to solve this problem of the small farmer—to improve, so to speak, his mentality—is through the material basis, technical equipment, the extensive use of tractors and other farm machinery and electrification on a mass scale. This would remake the small farmer fundamentally and with tremendous speed. If I say this will take generations, it does not mean centuries. But you know perfectly well that to obtain tractors and other machinery and to electrify this vast country is a matter that may take decades in any case. Such is the objective situation.
We must try to satisfy the demands of the peasants who are dissatisfied and disgruntled, and legitimately so, and who cannot be otherwise. We must say to them: “Yes, this cannot go on any longer.” How is the peasant to be satisfied and what does satisfying him mean? Where is the answer’? Naturally it lies in the demands of the peasantry. We know these demands. But we must verify them and examine all that we know of the farmer’s economic demands from the standpoint of economic science. If we go into this, we shall see at once that it will take essentially two things to satisfy the small farmer. The first is a certain freedom of exchange, freedom for the small private proprietor, and the second is the need to obtain commodities and products. What indeed would free exchange amount to if there was nothing to exchange, and freedom of trade, if there was nothing to trade with! It would all remain on paper, and classes cannot be satisfied with scraps of paper, they want the goods. These two conditions must be clearly understood. The second—how to get commodities and whether we shall be able to obtain them—we shall discuss later. It is the first condition—free exchange—that we must deal with now.
What is free exchange? It is unrestricted trade, and that means turning back towards capitalism. Free exchange and freedom of trade mean circulation of commodities between petty proprietors. All of us who have studied at least the elements of Marxism know that this exchange and freedom of trade inevitably lead to a division of commodity producers into owners of capital and owners of labour-power, a division into capitalists and wage-workers, i.e., a revival of capitalist wage-slavery, which does not fall from the sky but springs the world over precisely from the agricultural commodity economy. This we know perfectly well in theory, and anyone in Russia who has observed the small farmer’s life and the conditions under which he farms must have seen this.
How then can the Communist Party recognise freedom to trade and accept it? Does not the proposition contain irreconcilable contradictions? The answer is that the practical solution of the problem naturally presents exceedingly great difficulties. I can foresee, and I know from the talks I have had with some comrades, that the preliminary draft on replacing surplus-grain appropriation by a tax—it has been handed out to you—gives rise to legitimate and inevitable questions, mostly as regards permitting exchange of goods within the framework of local economic turnover. This is set forth at the end of Point 8. What does it mean, what limits are there to this exchange, how is it all to be implemented? Anyone who expects to get the answer at this Congress will be disappointed. We shall find the answer in our legislation; it is our task to lay down the principle to be followed and provide the slogan. Our Party is the government party and the decision the Party Congress passes will be obligatory for the entire Republic: it is now up to us to decide the question in principle. We must do this and inform the peasantry of our decision, for the sowing season is almost at hand. Further we must muster our whole administrative apparatus, all our theoretical forces and all our practical experience, in order to see how it can be done. Can it be done at all, theoretically speaking: can freedom of trade, freedom of capitalist enterprise for the small farmer, be restored to a certain extent without undermining the political power of the proletariat? Can it be done? Yes; it can, for everything hinges on the extent. If we were able to obtain even a small quantity of goods and hold them in the hands of the state—the proletariat exercising political power—and if we could release these goods into circulation, we, as the state, would add economic power to our political power. Release of these goods into circulation would stimulate small farming, which is in a terrible state and cannot develop owing to the grievous war conditions and the economic chaos. The small farmer, so long as he remains small, needs a spur, an incentive that accords with his economic basis, i.e., the individual small farm. Here you cannot avoid local free exchange. If this turnover gives the state, in exchange for manufactured goods, a certain minimum amount of grain to cover urban and industrial requirements, economic circulation will be revived, with state power remaining in the hands of the proletariat and growing stronger. The peasants want to be shown in practice that the worker who controls the mills and factories—industry—is capable of organising exchange with the pcasantry. And, on the other hand, the vastness of our agricultural country with its poor transport system, bonndless expanses, varying climate, diverse farming conditions, etc., makes a certain freedom of exchange between local agriculture and local industry, on a local scale, inevitable. In this respect, we are very much to blame for having gone too far; we overdid the nationalisation of industry and trade, clamping down on local exchange of commodities. Was that a mistake? It certainly was.
In this respect we have made many patent mistakes, and it would be a great crime not to see it, and not to realise that we have failed to keep within bounds, and have not known where to stop. There has, of course, also been the factor of necessity—until now we have been living in the conditions of a savage war that imposed an unprecedented burden on us and left us no choice but to take war-time measures in the economic sphere as well. It was a miracle that the ruined country withstood this war, yet the miracle did not come from heaven, but grew out of the economic interests of the working class and the peasantry, whose mass enthusiasm created the miracle that defeated the landowners and capitalists. But at the same time it is an unquestionable fact that we went further than was theoretically and politically necessary, and this should not be concealed in our agitation and propaganda. We can allow free local exchange to an appreciabIe extent, without destroying, but actually strengthening the political power of the proletariat. How this is to be done, practice will show. I only wish to prove to you that theoretically it is conceivable. The proletariat, wielding state power, can, if it has any reserves at all, put them into circulation and thereby satisfy the middle peasant to a certain extent—on the basis of local economic exchange.
Now a few words about local economic exchange. First of all, the co-operatives. They are now in an extreme state of decline, but we naturally need them as a vehicle of local economic exchange. Our Programme stresses that the co-operatives left over from capitalism are the best distribution network and must be preserved. That is what the Programme says. Have we lived up to this? To a very slight extent, if at all, again partly because we have made mistakes, partly because of the war-time necessity. The co-operatives brought to the fore the more business-like, economically more advanced elements, thereby bringing out the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in the political sphere. This is a law of chemistry—you can’t do anything about it! (Laughter.) The Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are people who either consciously or unconsciously work to restore capitalism and help the Yudeniches. This too is a law. We must fight them. And if there is to be a fight, it must be done the military way; we had to defend ourselves, and we did. But do we have to perpetuate the present situation? No, we do not. It would be a mistake to tie our hands in this way. Because of this I submit a resolution on the question of the co-operatives; it is very brief and I shall read it to you:
“Whereas the resolution of the Ninth Congress of the RCP on the co-operatives is based entirely on the principle of surplus-grain appropriation, which is now superseded by a tax in kind, the Tenth Congress of the RCP resolves:
“That the said resolution be rescinded.
“The Congress instructs the Central Committee to draw up and carry out through Party and Soviet channels decisions to improve and develop the structure and activity of the co-operatives in conformity with the Programme of the RCP and with a view to substituting the tax in kind for the surplus-grain appropriation system.”
You will say that this is rather vague. Yes, it is, and should necessarily be so to some extent. Why necessarily? Because if we are to be absolutely definite, we must know exactly what we are going to do over the year ahead. Who knows that? No one.
But the resolution of the Ninth Congress ties our hands by calling for “subordination to the Commissariat for Food”. This is a fine institution, but it would be an obvious political mistake to subordinate the co-operatives to it and to no other, and to tie our hands at a time when we are reviewing our attitude to the small farmers. We must instruct the newly elected Central Committee to elaborate and carry out definite measures and changes, and to check up on every step we take forward or back—to what extent we must act, how to uphold our political interests, how much relaxation there must be to make things easier, how to check up on the results of our experience. Theoretically speaking, in this respect we are facing a number of transitional stages, or transitional measures. One thing is clear: the resolution of the Ninth Congress assumed that we would be advancing in a straight line, but it turned out, as has happened again and again throughout the history of revolutions, that the movement took a zigzag course. To tie one’s hands with such a resolution would be a political mistake. Annulling it, we say that we must be guided by our Programme, which stresses the importance of the co-operative machinery.
As we annul the resolution, we say: work with a view to replacing surplus-grain appropriation by a tax. But when are we to do this? Not before the harvest, that is, in a few months’ time. Will it be done the same way everywhere? In no circumstances. It would be the height of stupidity to apply the same pattern to central Russia, the Ukraine, and Siberia. I propose that this fundamental idea of unrestricted local exchange be formulated as a decision of this Congress. I presume that following this decision the Central Committee will without fail send out a letter within the next few days and will point out—doing it better than I can do here (we shall fnd the best writers to polish up the style)—that there are to be no radical changes, no undue haste, or snap decisions, and that things should be done so as to give maximum satisfaction to the middle peasantry, without damaging the interests of the proletariat. Try one thing and another, study things in practice, through experience, then share your experience with us, and let us know what you have managed to do, and we shall set up a special commission or even several commissions to consider the experience that has been accumulated. I think we should issue a special invitation to Comrade Preobrazhensky, the author of Paper Money in the Epoch of the Proletarian Dictatorship. This is a highly important question, for money circulation is a splendid test of the state of commodity circulation in the country; when it is unsatisfactory, money is not worth the paper it is printed on. In order to proceed on the basis of experience, we must check and recheck the measures we have adopted.
We shall be asked where the goods are to come from, for unrestricted trade requires goods, and the peasants are shrewd people and very good at scoffing. Can we obtain any goods now? Today we can, for our international economic position has greatly improved. We are waging a fight against the international capitalists, who, when they were first confronted by this Republic, called us “brigands and crocodiles” (I was told by an English artiste that she had heard these very words spoken by one of the most influential politicians). Crocodiles are despicable. That was the verdict of international capital. It was the verdict of a class enemy and quite correct from his point of view. However, the correctness of such conclusions has to be verified in practice. If you are world capital—a world power—and you use words like “crocodile” and have all the technical means at your disposal; why not try and shoot it! Capital did shoot—and got the worst of it. It was then that the capitalists, who are forced to reckon with political and economic realities, declared: “We must trade.” This is one of our greatest victories. Let me tell you that we now have two offers of a loan to the amount of nearly one hundred million gold rubles. We have gold, but you can’t sell gold, because you can’t eat it. Everybody has been reduced to a state of impoverishment, currency relations between all the capitalist countries are incredibly chaotic as a result of the war. Moreover, you need a merchant marine to communicate with Europe, and we have none. It is in hostile hands. We have concluded no treaty with France; she considers that we are her debtors and, consequently, that every ship we have is hers. They have a navy and we have none. In these circumstances we have so far been in a position to make use of our gold on a limited and ridiculously insignificant scale. Now we have two offers from capitalist bankers to float a loan of one hundred million. Of course, they will charge us an exorbitant rate of interest. Still it is their first offer of this kind; so far they have said: “I’ll shoot you and take everything for nothing.” Now, being unable to shoot us, they are ready to trade with us. Trade agreements with America and Britain can now be said to be almost in the bag; the same applies to concessions. Yesterday I received another letter from Mr. Vanderlip, who is here and who, besides numerous complaints, sets forth a whole series of plans concerning concessions and a loan. He represents the shrewdest type of fnance capitalist connected with the Western States of the U.S.A., those that are more hostile to Japan. So it is economically possible for us to obtain goods. How we shall manage to do it is another question, but a certain possibility is there.
I repeat, the type of economic relations which on top looks like a bloc with foreign capitalism makes it possible for the proletarian state power to arrange for free exchange with the peasantry below. I know—and I have had occasion to say this before—that this has evoked some sneers. There is a whole intellectual-bureaucratic stratum in Moscow, which is trying to shape “public opinion”. “See what communism has come to!” these people sneer. “It’s like a man on crutches and face all bandaged up—nothing but a picture puzzle.” I have heard enough of gibes of this kind—they are either bureaucratic or just irresponsible. Russia emerged from the war in a state that can most of all be likened to that of a man beaten to within an inch of his life; the beating had gone on for seven years, and it’s a mercy she can hobble about on crutches! That is the situation we are in! To think that we can get out of this state without crutches is to understand nothing! So long as there is no revolution in other countries, it would take us decades to extricate ourselves, and in these circumstances we cannot grudge hundreds of millions’ or even thousands of millions’ worth of our immense wealth, our rich raw material sources, in order to obtain help from the major capitalists. Later we shall recover it all and to spare. The rule of the proletariat cannot be maintained in a country laid waste as no country has ever been before—a country where the vast majority are peasants who are equally ruined—without the help of capital, for which, of course, exorbitant interest will be extorted. This we must understand. Hence, the choice is between economic relations of this type and nothing at all. He who puts the question otherwise understands absolutely nothing in practical economics and is side-stepping the issue by resorting to gibes. We must recognise the fact that the masses are utterly worn-out and exhausted. What can you expect after seven years of war in this country, if the more advanced countries still feel the effects of four years of war?!
In this backward country, the workers, who have made unprecedented sacrifices, and the mass of the peasants are in a state of utter exhaustion after seven years of war. This condition borders on complete loss of working capacity. What is needed now is an economic breathing space. We had hoped to use our gold reserve to obtain some means of production. It would be best of all to make our own machines, but even if we bought them, we would thereby build up our industry. To do this, however, you must have a worker and a peasant who can work; yet in most cases they are in no condition for it, they are exhausted, worn-out. They must be assisted, and contrary to our old Programme the gold reserve must be used for consumer goods. That Programme was theoretically correct, but practically unsound. I shall pass on to you some information I have here from Comrade Lezhava. It shows that several hundred thousand poods of various items of food have already been bought in Lithuania, Finland, and Latvia and are being shipped in with the utmost speed. Today we have learned that a deal has been concluded in London for the purchase of 18,500,000 poods of coal, which we decided to buy in order to revive the industry of Petrograd and the textile industry. If we obtain goods for the peasant, it will, of course, be a violation of the Programme, an irregularity, but we must have a respite, for the people are exhausted to a point where they are not able to work.
I must say a few words about the individual exchange of commodities. When we speak of free exchange, we mean individual exchange of commodities, which in turn means encouraging the kulaks. What are we to do? We must not close our eyes to the fact that the switch from the appropriation of surpluses to the tax will mean more kulaks under the new system. They will appear where they could not appear before. This must not be combated by prohibitive measures but by association under state auspices and by government measures from above. If you can give the peasant machines you will help him grow, and when you provide machines or electric power, tens or hundreds of thousands of small kulaks will be wiped out. Until you can supply all that, you must provide a certain quantity of goods. If you have the goods, you have the power; to preclude, deny or renounce any such possibility means making all exchange unfeasible and not satisfying the middle peasant, who will be impossible to get along with. A greater proportion of peasants in Russia have become middle peasants, and there is no reason to fear exchange on an individual basis. Everyone can give something in exchange to the state: one, his grain surplus; another, his garden produce; a third, his labour. Basically the situation is this: we must satisfy the middle peasantry economically and go over to free exchange; otherwise it will be impossible—economically impossible—in view of the delay in the world revolution, to preserve the rule of the proletariat in Russia. We must clearly realise this and not be afraid to say it. In the draft decision to substitute a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system (the text has been handed out to you) you will find many discrepancies, even contradictions, and that is why we have added these words at the end: “The Congress, approving in substance [this is a rather loose word covering a great deal of ground] the propositions submitted by the Central Committee to substitute a tax in kind for surplus-grain appropriation, instructs the Central Committee of the Party to co-ordinate these propositions with the utmost dispatch.” We know that they have not been co-ordinated, for we had no time to do so. We did not go into the details. The ways of levying the tax in practice will be worked out in detail and the tax implemented by a law issued by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars. The procedure outlined is this: if you adopt the draft today, it will be given the force of a decision at the very first session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, which will not issue a law either, but modified regulations; the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence will later make them into a law, and, what is still more important, issue practical instructions. It is important that people in the localities should understand the significance of this and help us.
Why must we replace surplus appropriation by a tax? Surplus appropriation implied confiscation of all surpluses and establishment of a compulsory state monopoly. We could not do otherwise, for our need was extreme. Theoretically speaking, state monopoly is not necessarily the best system from the standpoint of the interests of socialism. A system of taxation and free exchange can be employed as a transitional measure in a peasant country possessing an industry—if this industry is running—and if there is a certain quantity of goods available.
The exchange is an incentive, a spur to the peasant. The proprietor can and will sure]y make an effort in his ovrn interest when he knows that all his surplus produce will not be taken away from him and that he will only have to pay a tax, which should whenever possible be fixed in advance. The basic thing is to give the small farmer an incentive and a spur to till the soil. We must adapt our state economy to the economy of the middle peasant, which we have not managed to remake in three years, and will not be able to remake in another ten.
The state had to face definite responsibilities in the sphere of food. Because of this the appropriation quotas were increased last year. The tax must be smaller. The exact figures have not been defined, nor can they be defined. Popov’s booklet, Grain Production of the Soviet and Federated Republics, gives the exact data issued by our Central Statistical Board and shows why agricultural production has fallen off.
If there is a crop failure, surpluses cannot be collected because there will be none. They would have to be taken out of the peasants’ mouths. If there is a crop, everybody will go moderately hungry and the state will be saved, or it will perish, unless we take from people who do not eat their fill as it is. This is what we must make clear in our propaganda among the peasants. A fair harvest will mean a surplus of up to five hundred million poods. This will cover consumption and yield a certain reserve. The important thing is to give the peasants an economic incentive. The small proprietor must be told: “It is your job as a proprietor to produce, and the state will take a minimum tax.”
My time is nearly up, I must close; I repeat: we cannot issue a law now. The trouble with our resolution is that it is not sufficiently legislative—laws are not written at Party congresses. Hence we propose that the resolution submitted by the CC be adopted as a basis and that the CC be instructed to co-ordinate the various propositions contained in it. We shall print the text of the resolution and Party officials in the various localities will try to co-ordinate and correct it. It cannot be co-ordinated from beginning to end; this is an insoluble problem, for life is too varied. To find the transitional measures is a very difficult task. If we are unable to do this quickly and directly, we must not lose heart, for we shall win through in the end. No peasant with the slightest glimmer of political consciousness will fail to understand that we, as the government, represent the working class and all those working people with whom the labouring peasants (and they make up nine-tenths of the total) can agree, that any turn back will mean a return to the old, tsarist government. The experience of Kronstadt proves this. There they do not want either the whiteguards or our government—and there is no other—and as a result they find themselves in a situation which speaks best of all in our favour and against any new government.
We are now in a position to come to an agreement with the peasants, and this must be done in practice, skilfully, efficiently, and flexibly. We are familiar with the apparatus of the Commissariat for Food and know that it is one of the best we have. We see that it is better than that of the others and we must preserve it. Administrative machinery, however, must be subordinated to politics. The splendid apparatus of the Commissariat for Food will be useless if we cannot establish proper relations with the peasants, for otherwise this splendid apparatus will be serving Denikin and Kolchak, and not our own class. Since resolute change, flexibility and skilful transition have become politically necessary, the leaders must realise it. A strong apparatus must be suitable for any manoeuvre, but struggle is inevitable when its strength makes it unwieldy and hampers change. All efforts must, therefore, be turned to achieving our aim: the complete subordination of the apparatus to politics. Politics are relations between classes, and that will decide the fate of our Republic. The stronger the apparatus, as an auxiliary, the better and more suitable it is for manoeuvring. If it cannot manoeuvre, it is of no use to us.
I ask you to bear in mind this basic fact—it will take several months to work out the details and interpretations. The chief thing to bear in mind at the moment is that we must let the whole world know, by wireless this very night, of our decision; we must announce that this Congress of the government party is, in the main, replacing the surplus appropriation system by a tax and is giving the small farmer certain incentives to expand his farm and plant more; that by embarking on this course the Congress is correcting the system of relations between the proletariat and the peasantry and expresses its conviction that in this way these relations will be made durable. (Stormy applause.)
7. Summing-Up Speech On The Tax In Kind[edit source]
Comrades, I think I can confine myself to a few fairly brief remarks. First of all, the question of the Siberian food supply workers. Yaroslavsky and Danishevsky have asked me to make the following statement. Drozhzhin has been put on trial to prove that he is not guilty. I can hear sceptical remarks, but at all events it must be said that this course is correct. We hear a lot of scandal and gossip, and this is the proper way of proving them to be false. Then again, a number of food supply workers in Tyumen have been shot for flogging, torture, rape and other crimes. Consequently, in no circumstances can this be connected with food supply work, but should be regarded as criminal outrages calling for harsher penalties than usual, in view of the conditions in which the food supply work is proceeding. From this aspect, therefore, the measures adopted were correct.
I should now like to start by saying a few words about the question of the co-operatives. Comrade Tsyurupa’s report—as we all heard him say here—was not a co-report presenting a point of view opposite to that of the chief rapporteur. The Central Committee’s decision to substitute a tax for the surplus-grain appropriation system was adopted with such obvious unanimity—and what is most important, we saw at once, even before the Congress opened, that various comrades in the localities had arrived at the same conclusions independently of this decision, on the basis of their own practical experience—that it is essentially impossible to doubt that as a measure it is proper and necessary. In his report, Comrade Tsyurupa added a few suggestions and warnings on a number of questions, but he did not propose a different policy.
The only departure from this general line in his report was made on the question of the co-operatives. He opposed my draft resolution, but I’m afraid his arguments do not carry conviction. We can hardly determine just now how relations in local free economic exchange will develop, and how the fund is to be handled—through co-operative societies or the restoration of small private trade. This question must certainly be examined, and in this respect we must make a careful study of local experience; that, of course, is something we all agree upon. I think, however, that the co-operative societies still present certain advantages. In so far as, politically—I have already pointed this out—they serve as centres for the organisation, centralisation and amalgamation of elements politically hostile to us and are in effect pursuing a Kolchak and Denikin po]icy, the co-operatives are only another form of small economy and small trade. Every emergence of the kulaks and the development of petty-bourgeois relations evidently give rise to corresponding political parties, which had been developing in Russia for decades, and with which we are quite familiar. The choice before us is not whether or not to allow these parties to grow—they are inevitably engendered by petty-bourgeois economic relations. The only choice before us, and a limited one at that, is between the forms of concentration and co-ordination of these parties’ activities. It cannot possibly be proved that the co-operatives are worse in this respect. On the contrary, the Communists will have somewhat greater opportunities to exert systematic influence and control over the co-operatives.
The resolution on the co-operatives passed by the Ninth Congress was strongly defended here by Comrade Tsyurupa, and strongly opposed by Comrade Milyutin.
Incidentally, Comrade Tsyurupa said that I had been a witness to the struggle over the question of co-operatives before it was settled by the Congress. I must corroborate this. Indeed, there was a struggle, and the resolution adopted by the Ninth Congress put a stop to it by ensuring greater predominance, or it would be more exact to say complete predominance, for the Food Supply Department. Bnut it would, undoubtedly, be politically wrong, on these grounds, to forego greater freedom of action and freedom of choice of political measures in respect of the co operatives. In my capacity of, say, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, I find it much more unpleasant to have to watch this petty strife, and even bickering, at scores of meetings, than to have the backing of a Congress resolution, which is binding on all and which puts a stop to this struggle. But we must not be swayed by such conveniences, but must look to the interests of a definite economic policy. You have all seen here, and the large number of notes—a great pile of notes—that I have received confirm it even more strikingly, that in this concrete question a vast number of difficulties of detail arise in the course of changing our policy. That is the whole point. And there is no doubt whatever that we shall be unable to solve them at one stroke. If we allow the resolution on the co-operatives adopted by the Ninth Congress to remain in force we shall have our hands tied. We shall put ourselves in a position where, being entirely subordinate to the Congress and bound to pursue its policy, we shall be unable to depart from the letter of this resolution. The resolution repeatedly refers to the surplus-grain appropriation system, but we are substituting a tax for it.
We have no idea how much latitude we shall leave to economic exchange.
That we must allow some is beyond doubt, and we must take account of and verify the economic conditions for it. That is why, of course, if we rescind the resolution of the Ninth Congress we shall be back where the question, which seems to have been closed to some extent, becomes an open one again. This is absolutely inevitable. To evade it would mean basically to prejudice the economic policy relations which we have outlined and which are, undoubtedly, more acceptable to the peasants.
There is evidently no difference of opinion at this Congress, or among Communists in general, as to whether the switch from appropriation to a tax is a more acceptable economic policy for the peasants. And we have a number of statements to this effect from non-Party peasants as well. This has been definitely established, and it alone suggests that we ought to have the change. Let me, therefore, read you the resolution on the co-operatives again:
“Whereas the resolution of the Ninth Congress of the RCP on the co-operatives is based entirely on the principle of surplus-grain appropriation, which is now superseded by a tax in kind, the Tenth Congress of the RCP resolves:
“That the said resolution be rescinded.
“The Congress instructs the Central Committee to draw up and carry out through Party and Soviet channels decisions to improve and develop the structure and activity of the co-operatives in conformity with the Programme of the RCP and with a view to substituting the tax in kind for the surplus-grain appropriation system.”
On behalf of the Central Committee, I shall ask the Congress to adopt the first resolution—the preliminary draft on substituting a tax for the surplus-grain appropriation system—to adopt it as a basis and instruct the Central Committee of the Party to co-ordinate the proposals, make the final draft and submit it to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee; and also the second resolution on the co-operatives.
I now come to the remarks made here. I must say that the questions I have received in writing are so numerous, there is such a heap of them, that not only am I unable to enumerate the subjects they touch upon, but I am compelled to give up the effort to classify them all in a suitable way for discussion here. I regret to say that I am compelled to abandon this task, but I will keep these notes as material for any future discussion of the subject.
Perhaps it will be possible to utilise them in greater detail in the press, or, at all events, to collect and classify them and then compile a detailed and really full summary for the benefit of the comrades economists, executives and political leaders who will be directly engaged in the task of drafting the law substituting the tax for surplus appropriation. At present, I can only select the two main trends and say a few words about the two main objections or remarks about the two main types or groups of questions raised in these notes.
The first deals with technical questions: these are numerous and detailed references to the difficulties and the many problems that will arise in carrying out these measures. I pointed out in my report that this was absolutely inevitable and that it is quite impossible at present to determine at once how we shall proceed to solve these difficulties.
The second deals with general principles of economic policy. Many, I should say most, of the speakers, and these written questions, all pointed to the inevitable increase in the strength of the petty bourgeoisie, the bourgeoisie and capitalism. A number of comrades wrote in their notes: “This is throwing open the door for the development of a bourgeoisie, small industry and capitalist relationships.” In answer to this, comrades, I must say, repeating something of what I said in my report: There is no doubt whatever that the transition from capitalism to socialism is conceivable in different forms, depending upon whether big capitalist or small production relationships predominate in the country. And I must say on this score that criticism was expressed of certain conclusions drawn from my speech on the relation between state capitalism and free small-scale exchange; but no one has criticised my propositions, nor were they criticised in any of the notes I have received (I have read most of them, and they run to several dozen). Direct transition to communism would have been possible if ours was a country with a predominantly—or, say, highly developed—large-scale industry, and a high level of large scale production in agriculture, otherwise the transition to communism is economically impossible. Comrade Milyutin said that we had a harmonious system, and that our laws represented, as he put it, to a certain extent, a harmonious system for such a transition, which, however, did not take account of the necessity of having to make a number of concessions to the petty bourgeoisie. But having said that, Comrade Milyutin drew a different conclusion from mine. The harmonious system that has been created was dictated by war and not by economic requirements, considerations or conditions. There was no other way out in the conditions of the unexampled ruin in which we found ourselves, when after a big war we were obliged to endure a number of civil wars. We must state quite definitely that in pursuing our policy, we may have made mistakes and gone to extremes in a number of cases. But in the war-time conditions then prevailing, the policy was in the main a correct one. We had no alternative but to resort to wholesale and instant monopoly, including the confiscation of all surplus stocks, even without compensation. That was the only way we could tackle the task. That was not a harmonious economic system; it was not a measure called forth by economic conditions, but one largely dictated to us by war conditions. The main economic consideration now is to increase the quantity of products. Our principal productive forces, the peasants and workers, are in such a state of impoverishment, ruin, weariness and exhaustion that for a time we must subordinate everything to this main consideration—increasing the quantity of products at all costs.
Some ask: What connection is there between the substitution of a tax for the surplus-grain appropriation system and the sowing campaign now in progress? In their notes, the comrades strive to expose a number of contradictions. I think that, in the main, there is economic consistency here, and not contradiction. The sowing campaign is based on a number of measures directed towards taking the utmost possible advantage of all economic opportunities to increase the sown area. For this purpose, we must redistribute the seed, store it properly and transport it. But scanty as our seed stocks are, we are unab]e to transport them; very often we are compelled to resort to various forms of mutual aid to reduce the area left unsown to a minimum and to eliminate it altogether, in spite of the appalling shortage of implements. That is out of the question in a number of gubernias. If the non-Party peasants, who in very many cases have themselves demanded the switch to the tax—for it gives them an incentive to develop their farms on the present economic basis—are definitely told by the state authorities before the spring campaign that this measure has been decided upon and will be applied—does that run counter to the general policy of the sowing campaign? No, it does not; it is a measure that introduces an element of encouragement. I know that it will be said that this is a very small element of encouragement. But that is not the point. It would, of course, be something much more real, if we could immediately show the peasants dozens of ships on their way from Britain with goods to be exchanged for the grain they collect in the coming harvest. But it would be ridiculous to attempt to deceive people who have practical knowledge of the state of our commerce. We know that ships loaded with coal and a small quantity of foodstuffs are leaving Britain; we have the information from Comrade Krasin. We know that pending the conclusion of a trade agreement, which has not been signed yet, semi-legal commerce is being carried on with individual merchants whom the bourgeois government cannot, of course, prohibit from trading with us. It is a difficult task to break through the economic blockade, and, of course, we cannot make any great promises. At all events, we are doing all we can, and we are altering the imports plan accordingly.
From the standpoint of the small proprietor, the small farmer, the tax, which is to be smaller than surplus appropriation, will be more definite and will enable him to sow more, and assure him of the opportunity of using his surplus to improve his farm. From his standpoint, it is a policy of rendering the utmost assistance to the industrious farmer, and this is being emphasised in the sowing campaign. In the last analysis, all the objections can be reduced to the following: Who will gain most by this—the petty bourgeoisie, which is economically hostile to communism, or large-scale industry, which is the basis of the transition to socialism and—in the light of the state of the productive forces, that is, the touchstone of social development—is the basis of socialist economic organisation, for it unites the advanced industrial workers, the class which is exercising the dictatorship of the proletariat?
Several speakers tried to prove or draw the economic deduction that the petty bourgeoisie—handicraft commodity production—will undoubtedly gain most; and they urged this particularly on the grounds that as a result of our granting concessions, large-scale industry will cease to be socialist. I think there is fundamental economic error in these arguments. Even if it could be definitely proved that small industry will gain most, relatively, or even, say, absolutely, it would not, either theoretically or practically, disprove the correctness of the steps we are taking. The fact is that there is no other basis for the economic consolidation of our work of building socialism. Let us assume—purely for the sake of example and illustration—that small industry has a value of 100 (100 million work units, or 100 units of any other kind, it makes no difference) and large-scale industry, 200. Let us assume that on a capitalist basis small industry increases to 175, while large-scale industry remains at 200. We are assuming stagnation in large-scale industry and an enormous development of small industry. I think that even this worst assumption that I have made would represent an undoubted gain for us because at present, as this year’s experience has shown, as our fuel and transport conditions indicate, and as the food distribution—which Comrade Milyutin very opportunely reminded us of—is showing, we are barely holding on.
Speakers here have asked, and I have received written questions to the same effect: “How will you retain the workers’ state, if capitalism develops in the rural areas?” This peril—the development of small production and of the petty bourgeoisie in the rural areas—is an extremely serious one.
I now come to concessions. They signify a bloc with capitalism in the advanced countries. We must be clear in our minds about the nature of concessions. They signify an economic alliance, a bloc, a contract with advanced finance capital in the advanced countries, a contract that will give us a slight increase in products, but will also result in an increase in the products of the concessionaires. If we give the latter ore or timber, they will take the lion’s share and leave us a small share. But it is so important for us to increase the quantity of products at our command that even a small share will be an enormous gain for us. Even a slight improvement in the condition of the urban workers, which will be guaranteed in the concessions agreement, and will not present the s]ightest difficulty to foreign capital, will be a gain and will serve to strengthen our large-scale industry. And this, as a result of its economic influence, will serve to improve the condition of the proletariat, the class which is wielding political power.
There is no ground to fear that small-scale agriculture and small industry will grow to dimensions that may prove dangerous for our large-scale industry. There must be certain signs for the rise of industry.
If we have a bad harvest (I have already mentioned Popov’s pamphlet), and our resources are as scanty as they were last year, an abatement of the crisis and development of small industry are out of the question: capitalist relations can be restored only if agricultural industry yields a surplus. That is possible, and this is very important, for it represents a material gain for us. The question of whether small or large-scale production will gain more will be determined by the extent to which we succeed in co-ordinating and combining the utilisation of our funds and the development of the market, which we shall achieve by means of concessions agreements with capitalism; and this will result in an increase in agricultural production for us. The result will depend upon which side makes the best use of these resources. I think that if the working class, which controls the most important branches of large-scale industry, concentrates on the key ones, it will gain more than small industry, even if the latter does have a relatively faster growth. The situation in our textile industry was such that at the end of 1920 there were obvious signs of an improvement, but there was a shortage of fuel. Otherwise we should have obtained about 800 million arshins[Arshin is equal to 28 inches.—Translator] of cloth, and would have had materials of our own manufacture to exchange for farm products.
Owing to the fuel crisis, however, there has been an enormous drop in production. Although we have succeeded in purchasing coal abroad, and ships with this cargo will arrive in a week or two, we have nevertheless lost several weeks or even months.
Every improvement in the state of large-scale production and the possibility of starting some large factories will strengthen the position of the proletariat to such an extent that there will be no need to fear the petty-bourgeois element, even if it is growing. We must not be afraid of the growth of the petty bourgeoisie and small capital. What we must fear is protracted starvation, want and food shortage, which create the danger that the proletariat will be utterly exhausted and will give way to petty-bourgeois vacillation and despair. This is a much more terrible prospect. If output is increased the development of the petty bourgeoisie will not cause great harm, for the increased output will stimulate the development of large-scale industry. Hence, we must encourage small farming. It is our duty to do all we can to encourage small farming. The tax is one of the modest measures to be taken in this direction, but it is a measure that will undoubtedly provide such encouragement, and we certainly ought to adopt it. (Applause.)
8. Preliminary Draft Resolution Of The Tenth Congress Of The RCP On Party Unity[edit source]
1. The Congress calls the attention of all members of the Party to the fact that the unity and cohesion of the ranks of the Party, the guarantee of complete mutual confidence among Party members and genuine team-work that really embodies the unanimity of will of the vanguard of the proletariat, are particularly essential at the present time, when a number of circumstances are increasing the vacillation among the petty-bourgeois population of the country.
2. Notwithstanding this, even before the general Party discussion on the trade unions, certain signs of factionalism had been apparent in the Party—the formation of groups wlth separate platforms, striving to a certain degree to segregate and create their own group discipline. Such symptoms of factionalism were manifested, for example, at a Party conference in Moscow (November 1920) and at a Party conference in Kharkov, by the so-called Workers’ Opposition group, and partly by the so-called Democratic Centralism group.
All class-conscious workers must clearly realise that factionalism of any kind is harmful and impermissible, for no matter how members of individual groups may desire to safeguard Party unity, factionalism in practice inevitably leads to the weakening of team-work and to intensified and repeated attempts by the enemies of the governing Party, who have wormed their way into it, to widen the cleavage and to use it for counter-revolutionary purposes.
The way the enemies of the proletariat take advantage of every deviation from a thoroughly consistent commu- nist line was perhaps most strikingly shown in the case of the Kronstadt mutiny, when the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries and whiteguards in all countries of the world immediately expressed their readiness to accept the slogans of the Soviet system, if only they might thereby secure the overthrow of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia, and when the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the bourgeois counter-revolutionaries in general resorted in Kronstadt to slogans calling for an insurrection against the Soviet Government of Russia ostensibly in the interest of the Soviet power. These facts fully prove that the whiteguards strive, and are able, to disguise themselves as Communists, and even as the most Left-wing Communists, solely for the purpose of weakening and destroying the bulwark of the proletarian revolution in Russia. Menshevik leaflets distributed in Petrograd on the eve of the Kronstadt mutiny likewise show how the Mensheviks took advantage of the disagreements and certain rudiments of factionalism in the Russian Communist Party actually in order to egg on and support the Kronstadt mutineers, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the whiteguards, while claiming to be opponents of mutiny and supporters of the Soviet power, only with supposedly slight modifications.
3. In this question, propaganda should consist, on the one hand, in a comprehensive explanation of the harmfulness and danger of factionalism from the standpoint of Party unity and of achieving unanimity of will among the vanguard of the proletariat as the fundamental condition for the success of the dictatorship of the proletariat; and, on the other hand, in an explanation of the peculiar features of the latest tactical devices of the enemies of the Soviet power. These enemies, having realised the hopelessness of counter-revolution under an openly whiteguard flag, are now doing their utmost to utilise the disagreements within the Russian Communist Party and to further the counter-revolution in one way or another by transferring power to a political group which is outwardly closest to recognition of the Soviet power.
Propaganda must also teach the lessons of preceding revolutions, in which the counter-revolution made a point of supporting the opposition to the extreme revolutionary party which stood closest to the latter, in order to undermine and overthrow the revolutionary dictatorship and thus pave the way for the subsequent complete victory of the counter-revolution, of the capitalists and landowners.
4. In the practical struggle against factionalism, every organisation of the Party must take strict measures to prevent all factional actions. Criticism of the Party’s shortcomings, which is absolutely necessary, must be conducted in such a way that every practical proposal shall be submitted immediately, without any delay, in the most precise form possible, for consideration and decision to the leading local and central bodies of the Party. Moreover, every critic must see to it that the form of his criticism takes account of the position of the Party, surrounded as it is by a ring of enemies, and that the content of his criticism is such that, by directly participating in Soviet and Party work, he can test the rectification of the errors of the Party or of individual Party members in practice. Analyses of the Party’s general line, estimates of its practical experience, check-ups of the fulfilment of its decisions, studies of methods of rectifying errors, etc., must under no circumstances be submitted for preliminary discussion to groups formed on the basis of “platforms”, etc., but must in all cases be submitted for discussion directly to all the members of the Party. For this purpose, the Congress orders a more regular publication of Diskussionny Listok and special symposiums to promote unceasing efforts to ensure that criticism shall be concentrated on essentials and shall not assume a form capable of assisting the class enemies of the proletariat.
5. Rejecting in principle the deviation towards syndicalism and anarchism, which is examined in a special resolution, and instructing the Central Committee to secure the complete elimination of all factionalism, the Congress at the same time declares that every practical proposal concerning questions to which the so-called Workers’ Opposition group, for example, has devoted special attention, such as purging the Party of non-proletarian and unreliable elements, combating bureaucratic practices, developing democracy and workers’ initiative, etc., must be examined with the greatest care and tested in practice. The Party must know that we have not taken all the necessary measures in regard to these questions because of various obstacles, but that, while ruthlessly rejecting impractical and factional pseudo-criticism, the Party will unceasingly continue—trying out new methods—to fight with all the means at its disposal against the evils of bureaucracy, for the extension of democracy and initiative, for detecting, exposing and expelling from the Party elements that have wormed their way into its ranks, etc.
6. The Congress, therefore, hereby declares dissolved and orders the immediate dissolution of all groups without exception formed on the basis of one platform or another (such as the Workers’ Opposition group, the Democratic Centralism group, etc.). Non-observance of this decision of the Congress shall entail unconditional and instant expulsion from the Party.
7. In order to ensure strict discipline within the Party and in all Soviet work and to secure the maximum unanimity in eliminating all factionalism, the Congress authorises the Central Committee, in cases of breach of discipline or of a revival or toleration of factionalism, to apply all Party penalties, including expulsion, and in regard to members of the Central Committee, reduction to the status of alternate members and, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the Party. A necessary condition for the application of such an extreme measure to members of the Central Committee, alternate members of the Central Committee and members of thc Control Commission is the convocation of a Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee, to which all alternate members of the Central Committee and all members of the Control Commission shall be invited. If such a general assembly of the most responsible leaders of the Party deems it necessary by a two-thirds majority to reduce a member of the Central Committee to the status of alternate member, or to expel him from the Party, this measure shall be put into effect immediately.
Published according to the manuscript
9. Preliminary Draft Resolution Of The Tenth Congress Of The RCP On The Syndicalist And Anarchist Deviation In Our Party[edit source]
1. A syndicalist and anarchist deviation has been definitely revealed in our Party in the past few months. It calls for the most resolute measures of ideological struggle and also for purging the Party and restoring its health.
2. The said deviation is due partly to the influx into the Party of former Mensheviks, and also of workers and peasants who have not yet fully assimilated the communist world outlook. Mainly, however, this deviation is due to the influence exercised upon the proletariat and on the Russian Communist Party by the petty-bourgeois element, which is exceptionally strong in our country, and which inavitably engenders vacillation towards anarchism, particularly at a time when the condition of the masses has greatly deteriorated as a consequence of the crop failure and the devastating effects of war, and when the demobilisation of the army numbering millions sets loose hundreds and hundreds of thousands of peasants and workers unable immediately to find regular means of livelihood.
3. The most theoretically complete and clearly defined expression of this deviation (or : one of the most complete, etc., expressions of this deviation) is the theses and other literary productions of the so-called Workers’ Opposition group. Sufficiently illustrative of this is, for example, the following thesis propounded by this group: “The organisation of the management of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers organised in industrial unions which shall elect a central body to run the whole of the national economy of the Republic.”
The ideas at the bottom of this and numerous similar statements are radically wrong in theory, and represent a complete break with Marxism and communism, with the practical experience of all semi-proletarian revolutions and of the present proletarian revolution.
First, the concept “producer” combines proletarians with semi-proletarians and small commodity producers, thus radically departing from tbe fundamental concept of the class struggle and from the fundamental demand that a precise distinction be drawn between classes.
Secondly, the bidding for or flirtation with the non-Party masses, which is expressed in the above-quoted thesis, is an equally radical departure from Marxism.
Marxism teaches—and this tenet has not only been formally endorsed by the whole of the Communist International in the decisions of the Second (1920) Congress of the Comintern on the role of the political party of the proletariat, but has also been confirmed in practice by our revolution—that only the political party of the working class, i.e., the Communist Party, is capable of uniting, training and organising a vanguard of the proletariat and of the whole mass of the working people that alone will be capable of withstanding the inevitable petty-bourgeois vacillations of this mass and the inevitable traditions and relapses of narrow craft unionism or craft prejudices among the proletariat, and of guiding all the united activities of the whole of the proletariat, i.e., of leading it politically, and through it, the whole mass of the working peop]e. Without this the dictatorship of the proletariat is impossible.
The wrong understanding of the role of the Communist Party in its relation to the non-Party proletariat, and in the relation of the first and second factors to the whole mass of working people, is a radical theoretical departure from communism and a deviation towards syndicalism and anarchism, and this deviation permeates all the views of the Workers’ Opposition group.
4. The Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party declares that it also regards as radically wrong all attempts on the part of the said group and of other persons to defend their fallacious views by referring to Paragraph 5 of the economic section of the Programme of the Russian Com- munist Party, which deals with the role of the trade unions. This paragraph says that “the trade unions should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration in their hands of the whole administration of the whole national economy, as a single economic entity” and that they will “ensure in this way indissoluble ties between the central state administration, the national economy and the broad masses of working people”, “drawing” these masses “into direct economic management”.
This paragraph in the Programme of the Russian Communist Party also says that a prerequisite for the state at which the trade unions “should eventually arrive” is the process whereby they increasingly “divest themselves of the narrow craft-union spirit” and embrace the majority “and eventually all” of the working people.
Lastly, this paragraph in the Programme of the Russian Communist Party emphasises that “on the strength of the laws of the R.S.F.S.R., and established practice, the trade unions participate in all the local and central organs of industrial management”.
Instead of studying the practical experience of participation in administration, and instead of developing this experience further, strictly in conformity with successes achieved and mistakes rectified, the syndicalists and anarchists advance as an immediate slogan “congresses or a congress of producers” “to elect” the organs of economic management. Thus, the leading, educational and organising role of the Party in relation to the trade unions of the proletariat, and of the latter to the semi-petty-bourgeois and even wholly petty-bourgeois masses of working people, is completely evaded and eliminated, and instead of continuing and correcting the practical work of building new forms of economy already begun by the Soviet state, we get petty-bourgeois-anarchist disruption of this work, which can only lead to the triumph of the bourgeois counter-revolution.
5. In addition to the theoretical fallacies and a radically wrong attitude towards the practical experience of economic organisation already begun by the Soviet government, the Congress of the Russian Communist Party discerns in the views of this and similar groups and persons a gross political mistake and a direct political danger to the very existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
In a country like Russia, the overwhelming preponderance of the petty-bourgeois element and the devastation, impoverishment, epidemics, crop failures, extreme want and hardship inevitably resulting from the war, engender particularly sharp vacillations in the temper of the petty-bourgeois and semi-proletarian masses. First they incline towards a strengthening of the alliance between these masses and the proletariat, and then towards bourgeois restoration. The experience of all revolutions in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries shows most clearly and convincingly that the only possible result of these vacillations—if the unity, strength and influence of the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat is weakened in the slightest degree—will be the restoration of the power and property of the capitalists and landowners.
Hence, the views of the Workers’ Opposition and of like minded elements are not only wrong in theory, but are an expression of petty-bourgeois and anarchist wavering in practice, and actually weaken the consistency of the leading line of the Communist Party and help the class enemies of the proletarian revolution.
6. In view of all this, the Congress of the RCP, emphatically rejecting the said ideas, as being expressive of a syndicalist and anarchist deviation, deems it necessary:
First, to wage an unswerving and systematic struggle against these ideas;
Secondly, to recognise the propaganda of these ideas as being incompatible with membership of the RCP
Instructing the CC of the Party strictly to enforce these decisions, the Congress at the same time points out that special publications, symposiums, etc., can and should provide space for a most comprehensive exchange of opinion between Party members on all the questions herein indicated.
Published according to the manuscript
10. Report On Party Unity and The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation[edit source]
Comrades, I do not think there is any need to say a great deal on this question because the subjects on which an official pronouncement must now be made on behalf of the Party Congress, that is, on behalf of the whole Party, were touched upon in all the questions discussed at the Congress. The resolution “On Unity” largely contains a characterisation of the political situation. You must have all read the printed text of this resolution that has been distributed. Point 7, which introduces an exceptional measure, namely, the right to expel a member from the Central Committee by a two-thirds majority of a general meeting of members of the CC, alternate members and members of the Central Control Commission, is not for publication. This measure was repeatedly discussed at private conferences at which representatives of all shades expressed their opinions. Let us hope, comrades, that it will not be necessary to apply this point; but it is necessary to have it, in view of the new situation, when we are on the eve of a new and fairly sharp turn, and want to abolish all traces of separatism.
Let me now deal with the resolution on syndicalist and anarchist deviations. It is the question touched upon in point 4 of the Congress agenda. The definition of our attitude to certain trends, or deviations in thinking, is the pivot of the whole resolution. By saying “deviations”, we emphasise that we do not as yet regard them as something that has crystallised and is absolutely and fully defined, but merely as the beginning of a political trend of which the Party must give its appraisal. Point 3 of the resolution on the syndicalist and anarchist deviation, copies of which you all probably have, evidently contains a misprint (judging by the remarks, it has been noticed). It should read: “illustrative of this is, for example, the following thesis of the Workers’ Opposition: ’The organisation of the manage ment of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers organised in industrial unions which shall elect a central body to run the whole of the national economy of the Republic.’” We have repeatedly discussed this point during the Congress, at restricted conferences as well as at the open general sessions of the Congress. I think we have already made it clear that it is quite impossible to defend this point on the plea that Engels had spoken of an association of producers, because it is quite obvious, and an exact quotation of the appropriate passage will prove, that Engels was referring to a classless communist society. That is something we all take for granted once society is rid of classes, only the producers remain; without any division into workers and peasants. And we know perfectly well from all the works of Marx and Engels that they drew a very clear distinction between the period in which classes still exist and that in which they no longer do. Marx and Engels used to ridicule the idea that classes could disappear before communism, and said that communism alone meant their abolition.
The position is that we are the first to raise the question of abolishing classes in the practical plane, and that two main classes remain in this peasant country—the working class and the peasantry. Alongside of them, however, are whole groups left over from capitalism.
Our Programme definitely says that we are taking the first steps and shall have a number of transitional stages But in the practical work of Soviet administration and in the whole history of the revolution we have constantly had graphic illustrations of the fact that it is wrong to give theoretical definitions of the kind the opposition has given in this case. We know perfectly well that classes have remained in our country and will remain for a long time to come; and that in a country with a predominantly peasant population they are bound to remain for many, many years. It will take us at least ten years to organise large-scale industry to produce a reserve and secure control of agriculture. This is the shortest period even if the technical conditions are exceptionally favourable. But we know that our conditions are terribly unfavourable. We have a plan for building up Russia on the basis of modern large-scale industry: it is the electrification plan drawn up by our scientists. The shortest period provided for in that plan is ten years, and this is based on the assumption that conditions will be something like normal. But we know perfectly well that we do not have such conditions and it goes without saying that ten years is an extremely short period for us. We have reached the very core of the question: the situation is such that classes hostile to the proletariat will remain, so that in practice we cannot now create that which Engels spoke about. There will be a dictatorship of the proletariat. Then will come the classless society.
Marx and Engels sharply challenged those who tended to forget class distinctions and spoke about producers, the people, or working people in general. Anyone who has read Marx and Engels will recall that in all their works they ridicule those who talk about producers, the people, working people in general. There are no working people or workers in general; there are either small proprietors who own the means of production, and whose mentality and habits are capitalistic—and they cannot be anything else—or wage-workers with an altogether different cast of mind, wage-workers in large-scale industry, who stand in antagonistic contradiction to the capitalists and are ranged in struggle against them.
We have approached this question after three years of struggle, with experience in the exercise of the political power of the proletariat, and knowledge of the enormous difficulties existing in the relationships between classes, which are still there, and with remnants of the bourgeoisie filling the cracks and crevices of our social fabric, and holding office in Soviet institutions. In the circumstances the appearance of a platform containing the theses I have read to you is a clear and obvious syndicalist-anarchist deviation. That is no exaggeration: I have carefully weighed my words. A deviation is not yet a full-blown trend. A deviation is something that can be rectified. People have somewhat strayed or are beginning to stray from the path, but can still be put right. That, in my opinion, is what the Russian word uklon means. It emphasises that there is nothing final in it as yet, and that the matter can be easily rectified; it shows a desire to sound a warning and to raise the question on principle in all its scope. If anyone has a better word to express this idea, let us have it, by all means. I hope we shall not start arguing over words. We are essentially examining this thesis as the main one, so as not to go chasing after a mass of similar ideas, of which the Workers’ Opposition group has a great many. We will leave our writers, and the leaders of this trend to go into the matter, for at the end of the resolution we make a point of saying that special publications and symposiums can and should give space to a more comprehensive exchange of opinion between Party members on all the questions indicated. We cannot now afford to put off the question. We are a party fighting in acute difficulties. We must say to ourselves: if our unity is to be more solid, we must condemn a definite deviation. Since it has come to light, it should be brought out and discussed. If a comprehensive discussion is necessary, let us have it, by all means; we have the men to give chapter and verse on every point, and if we find it relevant and necessary, we shall raise this question internationally as well, for you all know and have just heard the delegate of the Communist International say in his report that there is a certain Leftist deviation in the ranks of the international revolutionary working-class movement. The deviation we are discussing is identical with the anarchist deviation of the German Communist Workers’ Party, the fight against which was clearly revealed at the last Congress of the Communist International. Some of the terms used there to qualify it were stronger than “deviation”. You know that this is an international question. That is why it would be wrong to have done with it by saying, “Let’s have no more discussions. Full stop.” But a theoretical discussion is one thing, and the Party’s political line—a political struggle— is another. We are not a debating society. Of course, we are able to publish symposiums and special publications and will continue to do so but our first duty is to carry on the fight against great odds, and that needs unity. If we are to have proposals, like organising an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”, introduced into the political discussion and struggle, we shall be unable to march forward united and in step. That is not the policy we have projected over the next few years. It is a policy that would disrupt the Party’s team-work, for it is wrong not only in theory, but also in its incorrect definition of the relations between classes—the crucial element which was specified in the resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist International, and without which there is no Marxism. The situation today is such that the non-Party element is yielding to the petty-bourgeois vacillations which are inevitable in Russia’s present economic condition. We must remember that in some respects the internal situation presents a greater danger than Denikin and Yudenich; and our unity must not be formal but must go deep down below the surface. If we are to create this unity, a resolution like the one proposed is indispensable.
The next very important thing in my opinion is Point 4 of this resolution, which gives an interpretation of our Programme. It is an authentic interpretation, that is, the author’s interpretation. Its author is the Congress, and that is why it must give its interpretation in order to put a stop to all this wavering, and to the tricks that are some times being played with our Programme, as if what it says about the trade unions is what some people would like it to say. You have heard Comrade Ryazanov’s criticism of the Programme—let us thank the critic for his theoretical researches. You have heard Comrade Shlyapnikov’s criticism. That is something we must not ignore. I think that here, in this resolution, we have exactly what we need just now. We must say on behalf of the Congress, which endorses the Programme and which is the Party’s supreme organ: here is what we understand the Programme to mean. This, I repeat, does not cut short theoretical discussion. Proposals to amend the Programme may be made; no one has suggested that this should be prohibited. We do not think that our Programme is so perfect as not to require any modification whatever; but just now we have no formal proposals, nor have we allocated any time for the examination of this question. If we read the Programme carefully we shall find the following: “The trade unions . . . should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration”, etc. The words, “should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration”, should be underlined. And a few lines above that we read: “On the strength of the laws . . . the trade unions participate in all the local and central organs of industrial management.” We know that it took decades to build up capitalist industry, with the assistance of all the advanced countries of the world. Are we so childish as to think that we can complete this process so quickly at this time of dire distress and impoverishment, in a country with a mass of peasants, with workers in a minority, and a proletarian vanguard bleeding and in a state of prostration? We have not even laid the main foundation, we have only begun to give an experimental definition of industrial management with the participation of the trade unions. We know that want is the principal obstacle. It is not true to say that we are not enlisting the masses; on the contrary, we give sincere support to anyone among the mass of workers with the least sign of talent, or ability. All we need is for the conditions to ease off ever so little. We need a year or two, at least, of relief from famine. This is an insignificant period of time in terms of history but in our conditions it is a long one. A year or two of relief from famine, with regular supplies of fuel to keep the factories running, and we shall receive a hundred times more assistance from the working class, and far more talent will arise from its ranks than we now have. No one has or can have any doubts about this. The assistance is not forthcoming at present, but not because we do not want it. In fact, we are doing all we can to get it. No one can say that the government, the trade unions, or the Party’s Central Committee have missed a single opportunity to do so. But we know that the want in the country is desperate, that there is hunger and poverty everywhere, and that this very often leads to passivity. Let us not be afraid to call a spade a spade: it is these calamities and evils that are hindering the rise of mass energy. In such a situation, when the statistics tell us that 60 per cent of the members of management boards are workers, it is quite impossible to try to interpret the words in the Programme—“The trade union . . . should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration”, etc.—à la Shlyapnikov.
An authentic interpretation of the Programme will enable us to combine the necessary tactical solidarity and unity with the necessary freedom of discussion, and this is emphasised at the end of the resolution. What does it say in essence? Point 6 reads:
“In view of all this, the Congress of the RCP, emphatically rejecting the said ideas, as being expressive of a syndicalist and anarchist deviation, deems it necessary, first, to wage an unswerving and systematic struggle against these ideas; secondly, to recognise the propaganda of these ideas as being incompatible with membership of the RCP
“Instructing the CC of the Party strictly to enforce these decisions, the Congress at the same time points out that special publications, symposiums, etc., can and should provide space for a most comprehensive exchange of opinion between Party members on all the questions herein indicated.”
Do you not see—you all who are agitators and propagandists in one way or another—the difference between the propaganda of ideas within political parties engaged in struggle, and the exchange of opinion in special publications and symposiums? I am sure that everyone who takes the trouble to understand this resolution will see the difference. And we hope that the representatives of this deviation whom we-are taking into the Central Committee will treat the decisions of the Party Congress as every class-conscious disciplined Party member does. We hope that with their assistance we, in the Central Committee, shall look into this matter, without creating a special situation. We shall investigate and decide what it is that is going on in the Party—whether it is the propaganda of ideas within a political party engaged in struggle, or the exchange of opinion in special publications and symposiums. There is the opportunity for anyone interested in a meticulous study of quotations from Engels. We have theoreticians who can always give the Party useful advice. That is necessary. We shall publish two or three big collections—that is useful and absolutely necessary. But is this anything like the propaganda of ideas, or a conflict of platforms? How can these two things be confused? They will not be confused by anyone who desires to understand our political situation.
Do not hinder our political work, especially in a difficult situation, but go on with your scientific research. We shall be very happy to see Comrade Shlyapnikov supplement his recent book on his experiences in the underground revolutionary struggle with a second volume written in his spare time over the next few months and analysing the concept of “producer”. But the present resolution will serve as our landmark. We opened the widest and freest discussion. The platform of the Workers’ Opposition was published in the central organ of the Party in 250,000 copies. We have weighed it up from all sides, we have elected delegates on its basis, and finally we have convened this Congress, which, summing up the political discussion, says: “The deviation has come to light, we shall not play hide-and-seek, but shall say openly: a deviation is a deviation and must be straightened out. We shall straighten it out, and the discussion will be a theoretical one.”
That is why I renew and support the proposal that we adopt both these resolutions, consolidate the unity of the Party, and give a correct definition to what should be dealt with by Party meetings, and what individuals—Marxists, Communists who want to help the Party by looking into theoretical questions—are free to study in their spare time. (Applause.)
11. Summing-Up Speech On Party Unity and The Anarcho-Syndicalist Deviation[edit source]
Comrades, we have heard some incredibly harsh expressions here, and the harshest, I think, was the accusation that our resolution is slanderous. But some harsh expressions tend to expose themselves. You have the resolution. You know that we took two representatives of the Workers’ Opposition into the Central Committee and that we used the term “deviation”. I emphasise the meaning of this term. Neither Shlyapnikov nor Medvedyev proposed any other. The theses we have criticised here have been criticised by the representatives of all shades of opinion. After this, how can one talk of slander? If we had ascribed to someone something which is not true there would have been some sense in this harsh expression. As it is, it is simply a sign of irritation. That is not a serious objection!
I now come to the points that have been mentioned here. It has been stated that the Democratic Centralism group was given unfair treatment. You have followed the development of the agreement between groups and the exchange of opinion on the question of the election to the Central Committee brought up by the representatives of the Democratic Centralism group. You know that ever since the private conference that was attended by the whole of the Workers’ Opposition group and a number of very prominent comrades, representatives of all shades, I, for one, have publicly urged that it would be desirable to have representatives of the Workers’ Opposition and Democratic Centralism groups on the Central Committee. No one opposed this at the conference, which was attended by all the comrades of the Workers’ Opposition and representatives of all shades. It is quite clear that the election of a representative of the Democratic Centralism group as an alternate and not as a full member of the Central Committee was the result of a lengthy exchange of opinion, and an agreement arrived at among the groups. It is captious to regard this as a sign of mistrust in or unfairness to the Democratic Centralism group. We in the Central Committee have done everything to emphasise our desire to be fair. This is a fact that cannot be obliterated. It is cavilling to draw the conclusion that someone has been unfairly treated. Or take the argument of a comrade from the Democratic Centralism group that Point 7 of the resolution was superfluous because the Central Committee already had that right. We propose that Point 7 be withheld from publication because we hope it will not be necessary to apply it; it is an extreme measure. But when the comrade from the Democratic Centralism group says: “The Rules give you this right”, he shows that he does not know the Rules, and is ignorant of the principles of centralism and democratic centralism. No democracy or centralism would ever tolerate a Central Committee elected at a Congress having the right to expel its members. (A voice : “Bypassing the Party.”) Particularly bypassing the Party. The Congress elects the Central Committee, thereby expressing its supreme confidence and vesting leadership in those whom it elects. And our Party has never allowed the Central Committee to have such a right in relation to its members. This is an extreme measure that is being adopted specially, in view of the dangerous situation. A special meeting is called: the Central Committee, plus the alternate members, plus the Control Commission, all having the same right of vote. Our Rules make no provision for such a body or plenum of 47 persons; and never has anything like it been practised. Hence, I repeat that the comrades of the Democratic Centralism group know neither the Rules, nor the principles of centralism or democratic centralism. It is an extreme measure. I hope we shall not have to apply it. It merely shows that the Party will resort to what you have heard about in the event of disagreements which in one aspect verge on a split. We are not children, we have gone through some hard times, we have seen splits and have survived them; we know what a trial they are, and are not afraid of giving the danger its proper name.
Have we had at previous congresses, even amidst the sharpest disagreements, situations which, in one aspect, verged on a split? No, we have not. Do we have such a situation now? Yes, we do. This point has been made repeatedly. Now, I think, these are disagreements we can combat.
It has also been said that unity is not created by such resolutions; that according to the resolution criticism must be expressed only through the medium of the gubernia committee; that lack of confidence has been expressed in the comrades of the Workers’ Opposition and that this has hampered their presence on the Central Committee. But all of this is not true either. I explained from the very outset why we had chosen the word “deviation”. If you don ’t like the word, accept the resolution as a basis and send it up to the Presidium for possible modification. If we find a milder term I would propose that it be substituted for the word “deviation”, and also that other parts be modified. We shall not object to that. We cannot discuss such details here, of course. Hand in the resolution to the Presidium for editing and toning down. It is certainly impossible to couch it in stronger terms—I agree with that. But it is not true to say that the resolution means inciting one section of the Party against another.
I do not know the composition of the Workers’ Opposition group in Samara, I have not been there; but I am sure that if any member of the Central Committee or delegate to the Congress of whatever shade of opinion—except the Workers’ Opposition—were to set out to prove at a meeting of the Samara organisation that there is no incitement in the resolution, but a call for unity and for winning over the majority of the members of the Workers’ Opposition, he would certainly succeed. When people here use the term “incitement” they forget about Point 5 of the resolution on unity, which notes the services of the Workers’ Opposition. Are these not set down alongside each other? On the one hand, there is the “guilty of a deviation”, and on the other, Point 5 says: “The Congress at the same time declares that every practical proposal concerning questions to which the so-called Workers ’ Opposition group, for example, has devoted special attention, such as purging the Party of non-proletarian and unreliable elements, combating bureaucratic practices, developing democracy and workers’ initiative, etc., must be examined with the greatest care”, etc. Is that incitement? It is a recognition of services. We say: On the one hand, in the discussion, you have shown a deviation which is politically dangerous, and even Comrade Medvedyev’s resolution admits this, although his wording is different. And then we go on to say: As for combating bureaucratic practices, we agree that we are not yet doing all that can be done. That is recognition of services and not incitement!
When a comrade from the Workers’ Opposition is taken into the Central Committee, it is an expression of comradely confidence. And after this, anyone attending a meeting not inflamed with factional strife will hear it say that there is no incitement in this, and that it is an expression of comradely confidence. As for the extreme measure, it is a matter for the future: we are not resorting to it now, and are expressing our comradely confidence. If you think that we are wrong in theory, we can issue dozens of special publications on the subject. And if there are any young comrades, in the Samara organisation, for example, who have anything new to say on this question, then let’s have it, Comrades Samarians! We shall publish a few of your articles. Everyone will see the difference between speeches at a Congress and words being bandied outside it. If you examine the precise text of the resolution you will find a theoretical definition of principle, which is not offensive in the least. Alongside of it is recognition of services in combating bureaucratic practices, a request for assistance and, what is more, inclusion of the representatives of this group in the Central Committee, which is the Party’s greatest expression of confidence. Therefore, comrades, I move that both resolutions be adopted, by a roll-call vote, and then sent on to the Presidium for revision and modification of the formulations. As Comrade Shlyapnikov is a member of the Presidium, perhaps he will find a more appropriate substitute for the word “deviation”.
As regards the notices of resignation, I move we adopt the following resolution: “The Congress calls upon all members of the dissolved Workers’ Opposition group to submit to Party discipline, binding them to remain at their posts, and rejects Comrade Shlyapnikov’s and all other resignations.”
12. Remarks On Ryazanov’s Amendment To The Resolution On Party Unity[edit source]
I think that, regrettable as it may be, Comrade Ryazanov’s suggestion is impracticable. We cannot deprive the Party and the members of the Central Committee of the right to appeal to the Party in the event of disagreement on fundamental issues. I cannot imagine how we can do such a thing! The present Congress cannot in any way bind the elections to the next Congress. Supposing we are faced with a question like, say, the conclusion of the Brest peace? Can you guarantee that no such question will arise? No, you cannot. In the circumstances, the elections may have to be based on platforms. (Ryazanov : “On one question?”) Certainly. But your resolution says: No elections according to platforms. I do not think we have the power to prohibit this. If we are united by our resolution on unity, and, of course, the development of the revolution, there will be no repetition of elections according to platforms. The lesson we have learned at this Congress will not be forgotten. But if the circumstances should give rise to fundamental disagreements, can we prohibit them from being brought before the judgement of the whole Party? No, we cannot! This is an excessive desire, which is impracticable, and I move that we reject it.
13. Speech On The Fuel Question[edit source]
Allow me to take the floor to refer the fuel question to a commission. The fuel crisis is undoubtedly one of the—if not the—most important issue in all our economic development. But I ask myself: shall we be able to reach a final decision on such an important question on the basis of the report and co-report—the one setting forth the view of the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council, which is to be given by Comrade Rykov, and the other, criticising that policy, Comrade Larin’s standpoint—without referring it to a commission and studying documents which explain the essence of the matter and help to find out whether the whole depends on flaws in the machinery, scandalous practices and crimes, or the weakness of the peasant economy and the peasant horse, without which the supply of firewood is impossible? I ask myself: can we adopt a decision without a commission? And I say that we cannot. It would therefore be much better for us to elect an enlarged commission consisting mostly of comrades from the provinces, who are familiar with the fuel, and specifically the firewood, business, who have more than a book knowledge of it, and have actually had experience in the line. The commission would hear not only the rapporteurs but would summon a number of persons and see that the statements made by the rapporteur and co-rapporteur are documented. It will then report to the Central Committee, which will, on that basis, have to adopt a number of crucial decisions in that sphere. This procedure will yield much more productive and useful results than discussions at the Congress which could make us waste a whole day and eventually lead us up to no further than reference of the question to a commission.
14. Proposal On The Fuel Question[edit source]
I move that we instruct the Central Timber Board immediately to confer with delegates to the Congress who have practical experience in the work of fuel and firewood enterprises, with the view of working out right away urgent measures, especially in floating.
15. Speech In Closing The Congress[edit source]
Comrades, we have concluded the work of the Party Congress, which has been meeting at an extremely important moment for the fate of our revolution. The Civil War, coming in the wake of so many years of imperialist war, has so torn and dislocated this country, that its revival is taking place in incredibly difficult conditions. Hence, we should not be surprised that there is a resurgence of the elements of disintegration and decay and of petty-bourgeois and anarchistic elements. One of the fundamental conditions for this is the extreme and unprecedented intensification of want and despair that has now gripped tens and hundreds of thousands, and possibly even larger numbers, of people who see no way out of this disastrous situation. But we know, comrades, that this country has had it even worse. Without shutting our eyes to the danger, or entertaining any sort of false optimism, we say frankly to ourselves and our comrades that the danger is great, but we have great trust in the solidarity of the vanguard of the proletariat. We know that no other force but the class conscious proletariat can unite the millions of scattered small farmers, many of whom are suffering incredible hardships; no other force can unite them economically and politically against the exploiters. We are convinced that this force has emerged from the experience of the struggle—the gruelling experience of the revolution—sufficiently steeled to withstand all severe trials and the difficulties that lie ahead.
Comrades, apart from the decisions we have adopted on these lines, there is the exceptionally important decision our Congress has adopted on relations with the peasantry. In it we make a most sober appraisal of the relations between classes, and are not afraid openly.to admit that this is a most difficult task, namely, that of establishing proper relations between the proletariat and the predominating peasantry while normal relations are unfeasible. You can call relations normal only when the proletariat has control of large-scale industry and its products and fully satisfies the needs of the peasantry and, providing them with the means of subsistence, so alleviates their condition that there is a tangible and obvious improvement over the capitalist system. That is the only way to create a basis for a normally functioning socialist society. We cannot do thls at present because of the crushing ruin, want, impoverishment and despair. But to help to rid ourselves of this accursed legacy we are reacting in a definite way to the relations established during the disastrous war. We will not conceal the fact that the peasantry have some very deep grounds for dissatisfaction. We shall explain the situation more fully, and tell them that we shall do all we can to improve it and pay more heed to the small proprietor’s living conditions.
We must do everything to alleviate his condition, to give more to the small farmer, and assure him of greater security in private farming. We are not afraid of the anti-communist trend this measure is bound to produce.
Comrades, we have now been working for several years to lay, for the first time in history, the foundations of a socialist society and a proletarian state, and it is in the spirit of sober appraisal of these relations that we have expressed our full readiness to reconsider this policy and even to modify it. I think that the results of our Congress in this respect will be all the more successful because we have been solidly united on this fundamental question from the very outset. There was need for unanimity in the solution of two fundamental questions, and we have had no disagreements on the relations between the vanguard of the proletariat and its mass, and the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry In spite of the very difficult political conditions, we have been more united in our decisions on these points than ever before.
Permit me now to deal with two points, which I ask not to be entered into the minutes. The first is the question of concessions in Baku and Grozny. It was dealt with only in passing at this Congress. I was unable to attend that session, but I have been told that some comrades have their doubts or have been left with a sense of dissatisfaction. I don’t think there are any grounds for this. The Central Committee thrashed out this question of granting concessions in Grozny and Baku. Several special commissions were set up and special reports from the departments concerned were called for. There was some disagreement, several votes were taken, but after the last one not a single member or group in the Central Committee wished to exercise their incontestable right to appeal to the Congress. The new Central Committee will, I think, have full formal and actual right to decide this big question on the strength of a Congress decision. Unless we grant concessions, we cannot hope to obtain the assistance of well-equipped modern capitalist industry. And unless we utilise the latter, we shall be unable to lay a proper foundation for our own large-scale production in such industries as oil, which is of exceptional importance for the whole of the world economy. We have not yet concluded a single concession agreement, but we shall do all we can to do so. Have you read in the newspapers about the opening of the Baku-Tiflis oil pipeline? There will soon be news of a similar pipeline to Batum. This will give us an outlet to the world market. We have to improve our economic position, and the technical equipment of our Republic, and give our workers more food and goods. Everything that helps to ease things in this respect is of tremendous value to us. That is why we are not afraid of leasing parts of Grozny and Baku. By leasing out one-fourth of Grozny and one-fourth of Baku, we shall be able—if we succeed—to raise the rest of them to the modern technical level of advanced capitalism. There is no other way for us to do this at present. Those who know the state of our economy will understand this. But once we have a base, even if it costs us hundreds of millions of gold rubles, we shall do everything to develop the rest.
The second question that I ask not to be published is the Presidium’s special decision concerning the manner of reporting. You know that at this Congress we have repeatedly had to work in an atmosphere of excessive tension and a larger number of delegates were kept away from the sittings of the Congress than has usually been the case. We must, therefore, be more calm and thoughtful in drawing up a plan of how the reports are to be made in the localities, and we must be guided by a definite decision. Let me read you a comrade’s draft of the Presidium’s instructions to the delegates returning home (reads ). I have summed it up, and I think these few lines are sufficient to cause every delegate to ponder over the question and in his report to exercise the necessary caution, taking care not to exaggerate the danger of the situation or allow himself or those around him to panic, whatever the circumstances.
Now that world capitalism has started its incredibly frenzied, hysterical campaign against us, it would be particularly inappropriate for us to panic, and there is no reason to do so. Yesterday, by arrangement with Comrade Chicherin, I received a summary of the news on this question, and I think you will find it instructive. It is a summary of the news on the slander campaign about the situation in Russia. The comrade who made the summary writes: “Never before has the West-European press indulged in such an orgy of lies or engaged in the mass production of fantastic inventions about Soviet Russia as in the last fortnight. Since the beginning of March, the whole of the West-European press has been daily pouring out torrents of fantastic reports about insurrections in Russia; a counter-revolutionary victory; Lenin and Trotsky’s flight to the Crimea; the white flag over the Kremlin; barricades in Petrograd and Moscow and their streets running with blood; hordes of workers converging on Moscow from the hills to overthrow the Soviet government; Budyonny’s defection to the rebels; a counter-revolutionary victory in a number of Russian towns, a succession of names adding up to virtually all the gubernia capitals of Russia. The scope and method of the campaign betray it as a far-reaching plan adopted by all the leading governments. On March 2, the British Foreign Office announced through the Press Association that it regarded these reports as improbable, but immediately thereafter issued its own bulletin about a rising in Petrograd, a bombardment of Petrograd by the Kronstadt fleet, and fighting in the streets of Moscow.
On March 2, all the British newspapers published cabied reports about uprisings in Petrograd and Moscow: Lenin and Trotsky have fled to the Crimea; 14,000 workers in Moscow are demanding a constituent assembly; the Moscow arsenal and the Moscow-Kursk railway station are in the hands of the insurgent workers; in Petrograd, Vasilyevsky Ostrov is entirely in the hands of the insurgents.
Let me quote a few of the radio broadcasts and cables received on the following days: on March 3, Klyshko cabled from London that Reuter had picked up some absurd rumours about a rising in Petrograd and was assiduously circulating them.
March 6. The Berlin correspondent Mayson cables to New York that workers from America are playing an important part in the Petrograd revolution, and that Chicherin has radioed an order to General Hanecki to close the frontier to émigrés from America.
March 6. Zinoviev has fled to Oranienbaum; Red artillery is shelling the working-class quarter in Moscow; Petrograd is beleaguered (cable from Wiegand).
March 7. Klyshko cables that according to reports from Revel, barricades have been erected in the streets of Moscow; the newspapers carry reports from Helsingfors that anti-Bolshevik troops have taken Chernigov.
March 7. Petrograd and Moscow are in the hands of the insurgents; insurrection in Odessa; Semyonov advancing in Siberia at the head of 25,000 Cossacks; a Revolutionary Committee in Petrograd is in control of the fortifications and the fleet (reported by the Poldhu wireless station in England).
Nauen, March 7. The factory quarter in Petrograd is in revolt; an anti-Bolshevik insurrection has broken out in Volhynia.
Paris, March 7. Petrograd in the hands of a Revolutionary Committee; Le Matin quotes reports from London saying the white flag is flying over the Kremlin.
Paris, March 8. The rebels have captured Krasnaya Gorka; Red Army regiments have mutinied in Pskov Gubernia; the Bolsheviks are sending Bashkirs against Petrograd.
March 10. Klyshko cables: the newspapers are asking whether Petrograd has fallen or not. According to reports from Helsingfors three-quarters of Petrograd is in the hands of the insurgents. Trotsky, or according to other reports, Zinoviev is in command of operations and has his headquarters in Tosna, or else in the Peter and Paul Fortress. According to other reports, Brusilov has been appointed Commander-in-Chief. Reports from Riga say that Petrograd, except for the railway stations, was captured on the 9th; the Red Army has retreated to Gatchina; strikers in Petrograd have raised the slogan: “Down with the Soviets and the Communists.” The British War Office states that it is not yet known whether or not the Kronstadt rebels have joined up with the Petrograd rebels but, according to information at its disposal, Zinoviev is in the Peter and Paul Fortress, where he is in command of the Soviet troops.
Of a vast number of fabrications in this period I am taking only a few samples: Saratov has become an in dependent anti-Bolshevik republic (Nauen, March 11). Fierce anti-Communist riots in towns along the Volga (same source). Fighting between Byelorussian detachments and the Red Army in Minsk Gubernia (same source).
Paris, March 15. Le Matin reports that large numbers of Kuban and Don Cossacks are in revolt.
Nauen reported on March 14 that Budyonny’s cavalry has joined up with the rebels near Orel. At various times insurrections were reported in Pskov, Odessa and other towns.
Krasin cabled on March 9 that the Washington correspondent of The Times said the Soviet regime was on its last legs and America was therefore deferring establishment of relations with the border states. Reports at various times quoted American banking circles as saying that in the circumstances trade with Russia would be a gamble.
The New York correspondent of The Daily Chronicle reported as early as March 4 that business circles and the Republican Party in America considered trade relations with Russia at the present time to be a gamble.
This campaign of lies is being undoubtedly conducted not only with an eye to America, but also to the Turkish delegation in London, and the plebiscite in Silesia.
Comrades, the picture is absolutely clear. The world press syndicate—over there they have a free press, which means that 99 per cent of the press is in the pay of the financial magnates, who have command of hundreds of millions of rubles—has launched a world-wide campaign on behalf of the imperialists with the prime object of disrupting the negotiations for a trade agreement with Britain, which Krasin has initiated, and the forthcoming trade agreement with America, which, as I have stated, we have been negotiating here, and reference to which was made at this Congress. This shows that the enemies around us, no longer able to wage their war of intervention, are now pinning their hopes on a rebellion. And the Kronstadt events revealed their connection with the international bourgeoisie. Moreover, we see that what they fear most, from the practical angle of international capital, is the resumption of proper trade relations. But they will fail in their attempts to disrupt them. There are some big businessmen here in Moscow, and they have stopped believing these false rumours. They have told us that a group of citizens in America has used an original method of propaganda in favour of Soviet Russia.
It has collected the diverse press reports about Russia over the past few months—about the flight of Lenin and Trotsky, about Trotsky shooting Lenin, and vice versa—and has published them in a pamphlet. You couldn’t find a better way of popularising the Soviet power. Day after day they collected reports of the assassination of Lenin and Trotsky and showed how many times each had been shot or killed; such reports were repeated month after month. Finally, all these reports were collected in a pamphlet and published. The American bourgeois press has got a bad name for itself. That is the enemy whom two million Russian émigrés, landowners and capitalists, are serving; this is the army of the bourgeoisie confronting us. Let them try to disrupt trade relations and belittle the practical achievements of the Soviet power. We know that they will fail. And the reports of the international press, which controls hundreds of thousands of newspapers and supplies news to the whole world, show once again how we are surrounded by enemies and how much weaker they are as compared with last year. That, comrades, is what we must understand. I think that the majority of the delegates present here have realised just how far we can let our disagreements go. It was naturally impossible to keep within these bounds during the struggle at the Congress. Men who have just emerged from the heat of battle cannot be expected to see these limits all at once. But we must have no doubts in our own mind when we look at our Party as the nucleus of the world revolution, and at the campaign which the world syndicate of states is now waging against us. Let them wage their campaign. We have sized it up, and we have egactly sized up our own disagreements. We know that by closing our ranks at this Congress we shall emerge from our disagreements solidly united, with the Party much stronger and marching with ever greater resolution towards international victories! (Stormy applause.)
- The Second Congress, which laid the programme, tactical and organisational foundations of the Comintern, was held from July 19 to August 7, 1920. It opened in Petrograd, but was transferred to Moscow on July 23. More than 200 delegates represented Communist Parties and workers’ organisations from 37 countries. Committed to World Socialist Revolution, with many of the manifestos written by Lenin and Trotsky, the 10th Congress of the RCP dovetailed with the expections that the Russian Revolution, it's coming victory in the Civil War would lead to revolution in Europe, the international prerequesite for the construction of the sociaism.
At the first sitting, Lenin gave a report on the international situation and the main tasks of the Comintern. Later he made speeches on the Communist Party, the nationalities and colonial questions, parliamentarism and other questions. He took part in the work of most of the commissions.
The Congress adopted Lenin’s 21 conditions of affiliation to the Communist International, which was of great importance for creating and strengthening the new type of workers’ parties in the capitalist countries. The ideas in Lenin’s classic Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Disorder served as the basis of the Congress’s resolutions. Lenin also took part in drafting a resolution “On the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution”, which stressed that the Communist Party was the principal instrument in the liberation of the working class. Lenin’s theses on the nationalities and colonial question and on the agrarian question were also adopted as resolutions.
The Congress stimulated the international communist movement. Lenin said that after the Congress “communism has become central to the working-class movement as a whole”.
- The Ninth Congress was held in Moscow from March 29 to April 5, 1920. It was attended by 715 delegates, the greatest number ever, who represented 611,978 Party members. Of them 553 had voice and vote, and 162, voice only. The delegates came from Central Russia, the Ukraine, the Urals, Siberia and other areas just liberated by the Red Army. Some delegates came straight from the front lines. The country was having a short respite after the defeat of Kolchak and Denikin.
Items on the agenda were: 1) Report of the Central Committee; 2) Current tasks of economic construction; 3) Trade union movement; 4) Organisational questions; 5) Tasks of the Communist International; 6) Attitude to co-operatives, 7) Transition to the militia system; 8) Election of the Central Committee; 9) Current business.
Lenin guided the work of the Congress. He made a report on the Central Committee’s political activity and a summing-up speech; he spoke on economic construction and the co-operatives; he proposed a list of candidates for election to the Central Committee. He also delivered the closing speech of the Congress.
In the resolution, “The Current Tasks of Economic Construction”, the Congress stated that “the main condition of the country’s economic rehabilitation is the undeviating implementation of an integrated economic plan projected for the immediate historical period ahead”. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 478). Lenin considered its key item—electrification—to be a great programme for a period of 10 or 20 years. The Congress’s directives served as the basis for GOELRO (the Plan of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia), which was completed and adopted by the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets in December 1920.
The Congress also dealt with industrial management. The resolution on this question stressed the need to develop competent, firm and vigorous administration on the basis of one-man management.
The anti-Party group of Democratic Centralism (T. V. Sapronov, N. Osinsky, V. V. Obolensky], V. M. Smirnov) came out against the Party’s line in economic construction, but its proposals were condemned and rejected by the Congress.
The Congress discussed and approved the idea of labour emulation and communist subbotniks.
The Congress discussed the trade unions’ activity in helping to fulfil the economic tasks. It defined their role, their relationship with the Party and the state, the forms and methods of the Party’s leadership in the trade unions and their participation in economic construction.
At a closed session on April 4, the Congress elected 19 members and 12 alternate members of the new Central Committee.
- The reference is to the Party discussion of the trade unions’ role and tasks in socialist construction. Lenin analysed these problems in his articles: The Trade Unions, The Present Situation and Trotsky’s Mistakes; The Party Crisis; Once Again on the Trade Unions, The Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin, and also in his speeches at the Second All-Russia Congress of Miners and at the Tenth Party Congress.
- The Soviet Government did its utmost to establish normal and good-neighbour relations with Poland. In 1919, it offered peace on many occasions, but received no answer from her bourgeois-landowner government, which continued in its hostile policy towards Soviet Russia.
On January 28, 1920, the Council of People’s Commissars of the R.S.F.S.R. sent the Polish Government and people a message re-emphasising its recognition of Poland’s independence and sovereignty, and offering to make sizable territorial concessions to Poland.
On February 2, 1920, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee once again offered peace to the Polish people. Their reactionary government was dependent on the imperialists of the Entente and considered the Soviet concessions a sign of weakness. It was preparing for aggression against the Soviet Republic and the negotiations failed.
- The 21 conditions for admission to the Comintern were adopted by its Second Congress on August 6, 1920. Lenin worked out 19 of the conditions, which were published before the Congress. He submitted the 20th to the Congress commission on July 25, 1920, and it was adopted. The 21st condition ran: “Members of the Party who reject the obligations and theses of the Communist International in principle should be expelled from the Party. This also applies to delegates of extraordinary Party congresses.”
- An international organisation set up at the Paris Peace Conference of victor powers in 1919. The League’s working organs were its Assembly, Council and Permanent Secretariat headed by a secretary-general. Its Covenant, a part of the Peace Treaty of Versailles, was signed by 44 states. It was so couched as to create the impression that the League served the purposes of peace and security, worked for a relluction of armaments, and opposed aggression. Actually, however, it pandered to the aggressors, and encouraged the arms drive and preparations for the Second World War.
From 1920 to 1934, the League’s activity was hostile to the Soviet state and in 1920 and 1921 the League was the organisational centre of armed intervention against it.
On September 15, 1934, on the initiative of French diplomats, 34 member-states sent the Soviet Union an invitation to join the League. In joining, the U.S.S.R. tried to create a peace front, but the reactionary circles of the Western powers resisted its efforts. When the war broke out, the League actually ceased to operate, although it was formally dissolved in April 1946, under a special Assembly decision.
- The trade agreement between Britain and Soviet Russia was signed on March 16, 1921.
- The counter-revolutionary mutiny in Kronstadt which began on February 28, 1921, was organised by the S.R.s, Mensheviks and whiteguards. It involved newly recruited sailors, most of whom came from the countryside and were politically ignorant and discontented with the gurplus appropriation system. The mutiny was sparked off by the economic hardships and facilitated by the fact that the Kronstadt Bolshevik organisation was weakened.
The counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie did not dare come out against the Soviet power openly and used a new tactic. In an attempt to deceive the people the leaders of the mutiny put torward the slogan “Soviets without the Bolsheviks”, hoping to drive out the Bolsheviks from the Soviets and re-establish capitalist rule in Russia.
On March 2, the mutineers arrested the fleet command and got in touch with foreign imperialists who promised them military and financial aid. The events in Kronstadt were a threat to Petrograd.
Commissar of the Red Army, Leon Trotsky, gave orders to Red Army units under M. N. Tukhachevsky to storm Kronstadt. With participation of over 300 delegates of the Tenth Party Congress who had military experience, led by K. Y. Voroshilov, The Red Army was able to crush the revolt on March 18. There was no dissension by any faction or tendency of the 10th Congress in this discision.
- On June 8, 1918, Samara was occupied by the mutinous Czechoslovak corps which set up a whiteguard-S.R.-Menshevik government, the so-called Komuch (A Committee of Members of the Constituent Assembly). By August 1918, Komuch had, with the aid of Czechoslovak units, occupied some gubernias on the Volga and in the Urals area, but that autumn it was defeated by the Red Army and ceased to exist.
- The substitution of a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system was discussed on February 8, 1921, at the CC Political Bureau, when N. Osinsky gave a report on “The Sowing Campaign and the Condition of the Peasants”. A special commission was set up to work out proposals for improving the peasants’ condition. For this commission Lenin wrote the Rough Draft of Theses Concerning the Peasants and defined the main principles on which the tax in kind was to be substituted for surplus appropriation.
Under a Political Bureau decision of February 16, a discussion on the question was started in Pravda, the first articles appearing on February 17 and 26.
On February 24, a CC Plenary Meeting approved a draft resolution on this question, which was then edited by a new commission. On March 3, Lenin tabled three amendments to it. On March 7, the CC Plenary Meeting discussed the draft once again and referred it for final editing to a commission headed by Lenin. It was adopted by the Tenth Congress on March 15, 1921.
- A Moscow Gubernia Conference of the RCP(b) took place in the Kremlin from November 20 to 22, 1920. It was attended by 289 delegates with voice and vote, and 89, with voice only. On its agenda were reports on the activity of the Moscow Party Committee, the international and domestic situation and the Party’s tasks, the state of the country’s economy, and production propaganda.
The atmosphere at the Conference was very tense, because the Bolsheviks had to fight against the anti-Party groups of Democratic Centralism, the Workers’ Opposition and the Ignatovites, who made demagogic attacks on the Party’s policy. The Workers’ Opposition tried to get as many of their supporters on the Moscow Committee as possible and called a special meeting of worker delegates in the Mitrofanyevsky Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace, while the other delegates had a meeting in the Sverdlovsky Hall.
At the afternoon sitting on November 21, Lenin spoke on the international and domestic situation and the Party’s tasks, and later, on the elections to the Moscow Committee.
Led by Lenin, the Conference beat back the anty-Party attacks.
- The Ninth All-Russia Conference of the RCP(b) was held in Moscow from September 22 to 25, 1920. Its 241 delegates (116 with voice and vote, and 125, with voice only) represented 700,000 Party members. On its agenda were: 1) Report by a representative of the Polish Comlllunists; 2) Political report of the CC, 3) Organisational report of the CC, 4) The current tasks of Party organisation; 5) Report of a commission on the study of the history of the Party, 6) Report on the Second Congress of the Comintern.
At the first sitting Lenin gave the political report of the Central Committee, dealing mainly with peace negotiations with Poland and preparations for defeating Wrangel. The Conference adopted a unanimous resolution on the terms of a peace treaty with Poland.
Having discussed the current tasks of Party organisation, the Conference rejected the views of the Democratic Centralism group, which tried to discredit the one-man management system in industry, and to oppose Party discipline and the Party’s leading role in the Soviets and trade unions.
A resolution, “The Current Tasks of Party Organisation”, motioned by Lenin, outlined some measures for strengthening the Party and its leading role in the Soviet state, and developing inner-Party democracy, and also measures against the excesses of bureaucracy in Soviet administrative bodies and economic agencies. The Conference deemed it necessary to set up a Control Commission alongside the Central Conumittee, and special Party commissions under gubernia committees, to combat various abuses and to inquire into complaints filed by Communists.
- The Second Congress of Miners was held in Moscow’s Trade Union House from January 25 to February 2, 1921. Its 295 delegates with voice and vote, and 46 with voice only, represented over 332,000 members of the Miners’ Trade Union. Lenin and Kalinin were elected Honorary Chairmen.
The Congress heard and discussed a report of the Minors’ Trade Union Contral Committee and reports of the Mining Council and its chief administrations; discussed fuel supply, organisation of production and other problems.
From January 22 to 24, the RCP(b) group had four meetings to discuss the trade unions’ role and tasks. Lenin gave a report on January 23 and the absolute majority of the group voted for his platform.
The Congress helped to mobilise the people to combat the fuel crisis and to work out production programmes for the mining industry.
Lenin is quoting a speech by a Siberian delegate from Kollontai’s pamphlet, The Workers' Oppostion (Moscow, 1921). The text quoted by Kollontai is not in the report of the Siberian delegate as it is given in the Minutes of the Second Congress of Miners.
- The reference is to the speeches of Angel Pestana, of the Spanish National Confederation of Labour, and of Jack Tanner, of the British Shop Stewards Committee, at the sitting of the Second Congress of the Comintern of July 23, 1920.
- The reference is to the Kharkov non-Party City Conference on March 5-6, 1921, on the food problem. It was attended by about 2,000 delegates. Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks sharply criticised the activity of economic and food supply bodies, but the Conference did not support their resolution. On the report of the Chairman of the Kharkov Gubernia Executive Committee it adopted a resolution mapping out concrete measures to improve the workers’ food supplies.
- The reference is to the anti-Soviet documents of the Kronstadt mutineers: a resolution of a general meeting of the battleships’ 1st and 2nd brigades on March 1, and the provisional committee’s appeal, “To the Population of the Fortress and the Town of Kronstadt”, issued on March 2, 1921.
- The Conference was held in Moscow from November 2 to 6, 1920, and was attended by 202 delegates with voice and vote, and 59, with voice only. The tasks of peaceful socialist construction demanded a reorganisation of trade union activity on the basis of greater democratisation, and this was opposed by Trotsky. At the Communist group meeting on November 3, he demanded the immediate “governmentalisation” of the trade unions, and the introduction of military methods of command and administration. His speech started the Party discussion on the trade unions, but his demands were rejected by the Communist delegates.
Y. E. Rudzutak gave a report on the trade unions’ tasks in industry. The Conference adopted his theses, which were based on Lenin’s ideas that it was necessary to enhance the role of the trade unions in industry, develop democratic principles in their work, and strengthen the Party’s leadership in the trade union movement. These ideas were later developed in the resolution “The Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions”, adopted by the Tenth Party Congress. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 534-49). p. 210
- The reference is to Trotsky’s speech at a joint meeting of Communist delegates to the Eighth Congress of Soviets and Communist members of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions and the Moscow City Council of Trade Unions on December 30, 1920.
- The resolution on railway and water transport and its further development was adopted by the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on December 29, 1920.
- The “Platform of Ten” (“Draft Decision of the Tenth Congress of the RCP(b) on the Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions”) was worked out during the trade union discussion in November 1920 and signed by V. I. Lenin, F. A. Sergeyev (Artyom), G. Y. Zinoviev, M. I. Kalinin, L. B. Kamenev, S. A. Lozovsky, J. V. Stalin, M. P. Tomsky, Y. E. Rudzutak and G. I. Petrovsky. The Tenth Congress’s resolution on the role and tasks of the trade unions was based on the “Platform of 10”, which was supported by the majority of Party members. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 534-49).
- See Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1962, p. 322).
- See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 422).
- Lenin’s draft resolution on the co-operatives was adopted at the fourteenth sitting of the Tenth Party Congress, on March 15, 1921. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 564).
- The Tenth Congress of the RCP(b) adopted a resolution “On the Substitution of a Tax in Kind for the Surplus Appropriation System”. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 563-64).
- Clare Sheridan, an English sculptor, who visited Soviet Russia in 1920.
- The Fifth All-Ukraine Party Conference was held in Kharkov in November 1920. Out of 316 delegates, only 23, or 7 per cent voted for the Workers’ Opposition platform.
- Diskussionny Listok (Discussion Bulletin )—a non-periodical publication of the Party Central Committee, issued under a decision of the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the RCP(b) heldin September 1920. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 509).
Two issues—in January and in February 1921—came out before the Tenth Congress, and it was subsequently issued during discussions and before Party congresses.
- The resolution “On the Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in Our Party”. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 530-33).
- Under a decision of the Tenth Congress, Point 7 of the resolution, “On Party Unity”, was not published at the time. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 785, item 14). It appeared in the Bulletin of the Thirteenth Party Conference.
- Lenin gave a report on Party unity and the anarcho-syndicalist deviation at the final, sixteenth, sitting of the Congress on March 16, 1921. The Workers’ Opposition and the Democratic Centralism groups came out against Lenin’s draft resolutions on these questions. But after Lenin’s summing-up speech, his resolutions were carried by an overwhelming majority.
- See Marx, Critique of the Gotha Programme; Marx’s letter to J. Weydemeyer of March 5, 1852; and Engels, Anti-Dühring; The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
- An anarchist “Leftist” group broke away from the German Communist Party and in April 1920 formed the so-called Communist Workers’ Party of Germany. The “Leftists” held petty-bourgeois, anarcho-syndicalist views. Their representatives to the Second Congress of the Comintern, Otto RühIe and A. Merges, failed to win any support, and walked out. The party had no support within the working class and later degenerated into an insignificant sectarian group.
- Its resolution on the agrarian question adopted on August 4, 1920. See Vtoroi kongress ... (The Second Congress of the Communist International, July-August 1920, Moscow, 1934, pp. 522-31).
- The reference is to A. Z. Kamensky’s speech.
- On behalf of the Workers’ Opposition, S. P. Medvedyev motioned a resolution to counter Lenin’s draft resolution “On Party Unity”. The former was rejected by a majority of the Tenth Party Congress.
- The resolution was adopted, with somc slight changes, by the Tenth Party Congress. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The CPSU in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and CC Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 533).
- D. B. Ryazanov motioned an amendment to Lenin’s draft resolution “On Party Unity”. It said: “While condemning all factional activity, the Congress vigorously opposes any election to the Congress by platform.” Desyaty syezd . . . (The Tenth Congress of the RCP(b), March 1921, Moscow, 1963, p. 539). On Lenin’s motion, the amendment was rejected by the Congress.
- The draft instructions of the Presidium of the Tenth Congress to the delegates going to the localities are at the Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the CPSU Central Committee.
- Le Matin—a French bourgeois daily, published in Paris from 1884. Its last issue appeared in August 1944.