Theses on the Current Situation, May 26, 1918

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Theses on the Current Situation were written when the country was undergoing a very serious food shortage. The Council of People's Commissars was guided by these theses on May 28, 1918, when it passed a decision on food policy (see Lenin Miscellany XVIII, p. 95) instructing the People’s Commissariat for Food to draw up by the following day an appeal to the workers and peasants on the organisation of armed detachments to be used in the campaign for grain. The appeal, which was drawn up on the basis of Lenin’s theses, was approved by the Government on May 29 and published in the newspapers on May 31 on behalf of the Council of People’s Commissars.

1) The Commissariat for War to be converted into a Com-missariat for War and Food-i.e., 9/10 of the work of the Commissariat for War to be concentrated on reorganising the army for the war for grain and on waging this war-for three months: June-August.r

2) Martial law to be declared throughout the country during this period.

3) The army to be mobilised, selecting its sound elements, and 19-year-olds to be called up, at any rate in certain regions, for systematic military operations to fight for, win, collect and transport grain and fuel.

4) Shooting for indiscipline to be introduced.

5) The success of detachments to be measured by success in obtaining grain and by practical results in collecting grain surpluses.

6) The tasks of the military campaign should be formulated as fdllows:

a) the collection of stocks of grain for feeding the popu-lation;

b) ditto-for three months' food reserve for war;

c) safeguarding stocks of coal, collecting them and increas-ing output.

7) The detachments of the active army (active against kulaks, etc.) to consist of from one-third to one-half (in each detachment) of workers and poor peasants of the famine-stricken gubernias.

8) Each detachment to be issued two kinds of instruction:

a) ideological-political, on the importance of victory over famine and the kulaks, on the dictatorship of the proletar-iat as the working people's power;

b) military-organisational, on the internal organisation of the detachments, on discipline, on control and written documents of control for each operation, etc.

9) A collective liability of the whole detachment to be Introduced, for example the threat of shooting every tenth man-for each case of plunder.

10) All means of transport belonging to rich persons in the towns to be mobilised for work In transporting grain; well-to-do classes to be mobilised to act as clerks and stewards.

11) If signs of demoralisation of the detachments become threateningly frequent, the "sick" detachments to be sent back after a month, i.e., exchanged, to the place from which they came, for report and "treatment".

12) The following to be adopted both in the Council of People's Commissars and In the Central Executive Commit-tee:

(a) declaration that the country is in a state of grave danger as regards food;

(b) martial law;

(c) mobilisation of the army, together with its reorganisation as mentioned above, for the campaign for grain;

(d) in each uyezd and volost with grain surpluses, immediate compilation of a list of rich owners of land (kulaks), grain traders, etc., making them personally responsible for the collection of all grain surpluses;

(e) the appointment to each military detachment-at the rate of at least one out of approximately ten men-of er-sons with a party recommendation of the RCP, the Eeft Socialist-Revolutionaries or the trade unions.

13) In implementing the grain monopoly the most vig-orous measures for assistance to the rural poor to be made obligatory without shrinking from any financial sacrifices, and measures for free distribution among them of part of the grain surpluses collected from the kulaks, side by side with ruthless suppression of kulaks who withhold grain surpluses.