V. I. Lenin

Speech Delivered At A Conference
Of Chairmen Of Uyezd, Volost And Village

Executive Committees Of Moscow Gubernia

October 15, 1920[1]

Delivered: 15 October, 1920
First Published: Published in 1920 in the book: Verbatim Reports of the Plenary Sessions of the Moscow Soviet of Workers, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies; Published according to the text in the book
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 318-333
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Comrades, in my report on the domestic and the external position of the Republic, which you wished to hear, I shall naturally have to devote most of my remarks to the war with Poland and its causes. It was this war which in the main determined the Republic’s domestic and external position during the past six months. Now that the preliminaries for a peace with Poland have just been signed, it is possible and necessary to take a general look at this war and its significance and try to give thought to the lessons we have all learnt from the war which has just ended, though nobody knows whether it has ended for good. I would therefore like first to remind you that it was on April 26 of this year that the Poles began their offensive. The Soviet Republic solemnly and formally proposed a peace to the Poles, the Polish landowners and the Polish bourgeoisie, on terms more favourable than those we have offered them now, despite the tremendous reverses our troops suffered at Warsaw, and the even greater reverses during the retreat from Warsaw. At the end of the April of this year, the Poles held a line between 50 and 150 versts to the east of the one they now regard as the line of a preliminary peace; though at that time the line was manifestly an unfair one, we solemnly proposed peace to them on behalf of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, since, as you all of course know and remember, the Soviet government was mainly concerned at the time with ensuring the transition to peaceful construction. We had no reason for wishing to resort to arms in settling questions in dispute between ourselves and the Polish state. We were fully aware that the Polish state was, and still is, a state of the landowners and capitalists, and that it is fully dependent on the capitalists of the Entente countries, in particular on France. Though at the time Poland controlled, not only the whole of Lithuania but also Byelorussia, to say nothing of Eastern Galicia, we considered it our duty to do everything possible to avert a war, so as to give the working class and the peasantry of Russia at least a brief respite from imperialist and civil wars, and at last enable them to get down in earnest to peaceful work. The events that ensued have happened all too frequently: our straightforward and public offer of peace on the line the Poles actually held was taken as a sign of weakness. Bourgeois diplomats of all countries are unaccustomed to such frank statements and our readiness to accept a peace along a line so disadvantageous to us was taken and interpreted as proof of our extreme weakness. The French capitalists succeeded in inciting the Polish capitalists to go to war. You will remember how, after a brief interval following upon the Polish offensive, we replied by dealing a counter-blow and almost reached Warsaw, after which our troops suffered a heavy defeat, and were thrown back.

For over a month and right down to the present, our troops were retreating and suffered reverses, for they were utterly worn out, exhausted by their unparalleled advance from Polotsk to Warsaw. But, I repeat, despite this difficult situation, peace was signed on terms less advantageous to Poland than the earlier ones. The earlier frontier lay 50 versts to the east, whereas it is now 50 versts to the west. Thus, though we signed a peace at a time favourable only to the enemy, when our troops were on the retreat and Wrangel was building up his offensive, we signed a peace treaty on more favourable terms. This once again proves to you that when the Soviet Government proposes peace, its words and statements have to be treated seriously; otherwise what will happen is that we shall offer peace on terms less favourable to us, and get this peace on better terms. This is a lesson the Polish landowners and capitalists will not, of course, forget; they realise that they have gone too far; the peace terms now give them less territory than was offered previously. This is not the first lesson either. You all probably remember that, in the spring of 1919, a representative of the U.S. Government came to Moscow and proposed a preliminary peace with us and with all the whiteguard commanders at the time: Kolchak, Denikin and others, a peace which would have been extremely unfavourable to us. When he returned and reported on our peace terms, they were not considered advantageous, and the war went on. You are aware of the outcome of the war. This is not the first time that the Soviet state has proved that it is considerably stronger than it appears, and that our diplomatic Notes do not contain the boasts and threats that are usual with all bourgeois governments; consequently, rejecting an offer of peace from Soviet Russia means getting that peace some time later on terms that are far worse. Such things are not forgotten in international politics; after proving to the Polish landowners that they have now obtained a peace worse than the one which we originally offered, we shall teach the Polish people, the Polish peasants and workers, to weigh and compare the statements of their government and ours.

Many of you may have read in the newspapers the American Government’s Note, in which it declares: “we do not wish to have any dealings with the Soviet Government because it does not honour its obligations.[2] “ This does not surprise us, because it has been said for many years, the only outcome being that all their attempts to invade Soviet Russia have ended in disaster. The Polish newspapers, nearly all of which are in the pay of the landowners and the capitalists-there this is called freedom of the press-assert that the Soviet government cannot be trusted, since it is a government of tyrants and frauds. All Polish newspapers say the same thing, but the Polish workers and peasants compare these words with the facts, and the facts show that we demonstrated our attachment to peace the very first time we made our peace offer; by concluding peace in October we proved this again. You will not find proof of this kind in the history of any bourgeois government, a fact that cannot but leave its impress on the minds of the Polish workers and peasants. The Soviet Government signed a peace when it was not to its advantage to do so. It is only in this way that we shall teach the governments that are controlled by the landowners and capitalists to stop lying; only in this way shall we destroy the faith the workers and peasants have in them. We must give more thought to this than to anything else. Soviet power in Russia is surrounded by countless enemies, and yet these enemies are impotent. Think of the course and outcome of the Polish war. We now know that the French capitalists stood behind Poland, that they supplied Poland with money and munitions, and sent them French officers. We quite recently received information that African troops, namely French colonial troops, had appeared on the Polish front. This means that the war was waged by France with aid from Britain and America. At the same time, France recognised the lawful government of Russia in the person of Wrangel-so Wrangel too was hacked by France, who provided him with the means to equip and maintain an army. Britain and America are also aiding Wrangel’s army. Consequently, three allies stood against us: France, supported by the world’s wealthy countries, Poland, and Wrangel-yet we have emerged from this war by concluding a favourable peace. In other words, we have won. Anyone who examines the map will see that we have won, that we have emerged from this war with more territory than we had before it started. But is the enemy weaker than we are? Is he weaker in the military sense? Has he got fewer men and munitions? No, he has more of everything. This enemy is stronger than we are, and yet he has been beaten. This is what we must give thought to in order to understand Soviet Russia’s position with respect to all other countries.

When we Bolsheviks started the revolution, we said that it could and should be started, but at the same time we did not forget that it could be successfully ended and brought to an absolutely victorious conclusion, without confining ourselves to Russia alone, but, in alliance with a number of countries, after defeating international capital. Russian capital is linked up with international capital. When our enemies say to us: even if you were to win in Russia, your cause will nevertheless perish because the other capitalist states will crush you, we now have an answer-the highly important experience of the war-with Poland, which shows how things have actually turned out. Indeed, why did it happen that, within six months and even less, if we take April as the beginning of the offensive, France, Poland and Wrangel, who were stronger than we are, were full of hatred of Bolshevism, and were determined to overthrow Soviet power, have been defeated, and the war has ended in our favour? How could it have happened that Soviet Russia, exhausted by the imperialist and civil wars, surrounded by enemies, and cut off from every source of supplies and equipmentthis Soviet Russia has proved the victor? We must reflect on this because, if we go deeper into this question, we begin to understand the mechanism, not only of the Russian but of the world revolution as well. We see confirmation of the fact that the Russian revolution is but a single link in the chain of the world revolution, and that our cause is strong and invincible because the cause of revolution is developing throughout the world; economic conditions are evolving in a way that is making our enemies weaker and us stronger with every day. The Polish war has again proved that this is neither exaggeration, boasting nor overenthusiasm. Three allies were fighting against us. One might have thought that uniting these three allies should present no difficulty but it appeared that, taught by the great experience of Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin campaigns, they were unable to unite against us and squabbled at every step. In this connection, the history of the Polish war, which has only just ended, is particularly instructive. Our march on Warsaw-the Red Army’s march, in which weary, exhausted and poorly-clad soldiers covered over 600 versts, inflicting one defeat after another on the Polish troops, who were excellently trained, with hundreds of the best French officer instructors-showed us the kind of relations that existed among our enemies. On July 12, when the Red Army troops were approaching the Polish frontier, we received a telegram from Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Curzon, on behalf of the League of Nations, that notorious League of Nations, an alliance which professes to unite Britain, France, America, Italy and Japan, countries with a tremendous military potential and possessing all the navies of the world, and against whom military resistance might seem perfectly impossible and absurd. On behalf of this League of Nations, Curzon proposed that we stop the war and enter into negotiations with the Poles in London. According to this telegram, the boundary should pass near Grodno, Byelostok, Brest-Litovsk and along the River San in Eastern Galicia. To this proposal we replied that we recognised no League of Nations, since we had seen its insignificance and the disregard that even its members had for its decisions. The French Government considered our reply insolent, and one would have thought that this League of Nations would come out against us. But what happened? The League of Nations fell apart at our very first declaration, and Britain and France fell on each other.

For several years Britain’s Secretary for War Churchill has been employing every means, both lawful and more often unlawful from the viewpoint of British law, to help the whiteguards against Russia, so as to supply them with military equipment. He hates Soviet Russia bitterly, yet immediately after our declaration Britain fell out with France, because France needs the forces of a whiteguard Russia to protect her against Germany, while Britain needs no such protection. Britain, a naval power, fears no such action because she has a most powerful navy. Thus, the League of Nations, which has sent such unprecedented threats to Russia, was itself helpless from the very outset. At every step the interests of the League’s member states are patently in conflict. France desires the defeat of Britain, and vice versa. When Comrade Kamenev was negotiating with the British Government in London and asked the British Prime Minister, “Let us suppose that you will really do what you say, what about France?”, the British Prime Minister had to reply that France would go her own way. He said that Britain could not take the same road as France. It became plain that the League of Nations was non-existent, that the alliance of the capitalist powers is sheer fraud, and that in actual fact it is an alliance of robbers, each trying to snatch something from the others. When at the conclusion of peace in Riga, we discovered what divided Poland, Britain, France and Wrangel, and why they could not act in unison, we learnt that their interests differed: Britain wanted to have the small succession states-Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania-in her sphere of influence and was not interested in the restoration of tsarist or whiteguard or even bourgeois Russia; she even stood to lose from it. That was why Britain was acting counter to France and could not unite with Poland and Wrangel. France’s concern was to fight to the last Polish soldier for her interests and the debts owed to her. She hoped we would pay her the 20-thousand-million debt incurred by the former tsar and recognised by the Keren-. sky government. Any sensible person will realise that the French capitalists will never see the colour of their money; the French capitalists realise that the French workers and peasants cannot be made to fight, while Polish soldiers are plentiful and can be driven into battle-so let them die that the French capitalists may get their millions back. However, the Polish workers too can see that the French, British and other officers behave in Poland just as if they were in a conquered country. That was why, during the Riga negotiations, we saw that the party of the Polish workers and peasants which is undoubtedly patriotic and undoubtedly hostile to Bolshevism, just like our Rightwing Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, stood for peace and was opposed to the government of the Polish landowners and capitalists, who up to the last moment tried to wreck the peace treaty, and even now want to do so and will go on doing so for a long time to come. I shall have to speak on this point when I come to the question of whether the preliminary peace we have just concluded will last.

The third ally, Wrangel, who fought for the return of the whole of Russia to the landowners and the capitalists, regards Poland as part of Russia. All the Russian tsars, landowners and capitalists were accustomed to regarding Poland as their prey; they never forgot that Poland had long ago been crushed by the Russian serf army led to war by the tsar. That meant that, had Wrangel been victorious, he would have used his victory in order to restore full power, both in Russia and in Poland, to the landowners. What happened, however, was that, when the three allies stood ready to attack us, they began by falling out among themselves. France’s aims are alien to both the Polish peasant and the Polish worker, while Wrangel ’s aims are alien even to any Polish landowner. And now, ---when we hear Wrangel’s radio or the French Government radio from Paris, we learn that France and Wrangel are gnashing their teeth because they realise the implication of this peace which we have concluded with Poland, though they assert that this is no peace, and that Poland cannot sign it. We shall see what we shall see, but meanwhile a peace has been signed. Actually, neither Wrangel nor France understands how it could have come about. They cannot stomach the miracle of a devastated Soviet Russia defeating civilised countries far stronger than she is. They do not understand that these victories stem from the fundamental doctrine of the Communists, which says that property divides whereas labour unites. Private property is robbery, and a state based on private property is a state of robbers, who are fighting for a share of the spoils. Though they have not yet finished this war, they are already fighting among themselves. A year ago fourteen states were threatening us, yet the alliance of these fourteen states at once fell apart. Why did it fall apart? Simply because the agreement between these states only existed on paper, and not one of them went to war. When a war started and France, Poland and Wrangel joined forces, their alliance too fell apart, because they were trying to trip one another up. As the Russian proverb says, they were trying to share out the skin of a bear they had not yet killed. They were, in fact, squabbling over a bear they would never kill.

The experience of world politics has shown that the alliance against Soviet Russia is irretrievably doomed to failure, because it is an imperialist alliance, an alliance of plunderers who are not united, and are bound by no genuine or permanent interests. They lack that which unites the working class; they have no common interests, which was again revealed during the Polish war. When our Red Army crushed the resistance of the Poles, captured Byelostok and Brest-Litovsk and approached the Polish frontier, this signified the collapse of the entire established system of international politics, for it is based on the Treaty of Versailles, which is a treaty of robbers and plunderers. When the Peace of Brest-Litovsk was imposed on us, a burden we bore so long, there was a world-wide outcry that it was a robber s peace. After Germany’s defeat, the League of Nations which had declared, during the war against Germany, that it was being fought for liberation and democracy, imposed a peace on the vanquished country, but it was a usurer’s peace, an oppressor’s peace, a butcher’s peace, because Germany and Austria were looted and carved up. They deprived them of all means of subsistence, and left the children hungry and starving; this was a predatory peace, without any parallel. What then is the Treaty of Versailles? It is an unparalleled and predatory peace, which has made slaves of tens of millions of people, including the most civilised. This is no peace, but terms dictated to a defenceless victim by armed robbers. Through the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s enemies have deprived her of all her colonies. Turkey, Persia and China have been enslaved. A situation has arisen wherein seven-tenths of the world’s population are in a condition of servitude. These slaves are to be found throughout the world and are at the mercy of a handful of countries-Britain, France and Japan. That is why this international system in its entirety, the order based on the Treaty of Versailles, stands on the brink of a volcano, for the enslaved seven-tenths of the world’s population are waiting impatiently for someone to give them a lead in a struggle which will shake all these countries. France hopes that her loans will be repaid to her, but is herself in debt to America whom she cannot repay because she has not the wherewithal, and private property is sacred over there. What is the essence of this sacrosanct private property? It is that the tsars and capitalists borrow money, while the workers and the peasants have to repay the debt for them. They are on the verge of bankruptcy. They cannot meet their debts. At that very moment, the Red Army broke through the Polish frontier and approached the German borders. At the time it was common talk in Germany, even among the reactionaries and the monarchists, that the Bolsheviks would save them, it being evident that the Versailles peace was falling apart, that there existed a Red Army which had declared war on all capitalists. What has come to pass? It has come to pass that the Peace of Versailles now hinges on Poland. True, we lacked the strength to bring the war to an end. It should, however, be remembered that our workers and peasants were ill-clad and practically barefooted, yet they marched on and overcame all difficulties, fighting in conditions never before experienced by any other army in the world. We lacked the strength to take Warsaw and finish off the Polish landowners, whiteguards and capitalists, but our army showed the whole world that the Treaty of Versailles is not the force it is made out to be, that hundreds of millions of people are condemned to repay loans for many years to come and have their grandchildren and great-grandchildren do the same in order that the French, British and other imperialists may be enriched. The Red Army proved that the Treaty of Versailles is not so very stable. After the Treaty of Versailles our army showed that in the summer of 1920, the Soviet land, devastated as it was, was on the eve of complete victory thanks to that Red Army. The world saw that a force exists to which the Treaty of Versailles holds no terror, and that no Versailles treaties will subdue the power of the workers and peasants once they have learnt to deal with the landowners and capitalists.

Thus, the campaign against the Peace of Versailles, the campaign against all the capitalists and landowners of every country and against their oppression of other countries, has not been in vain. Millions upon millions of workers and peasants in all lands have been watching this and giving it thought, and they now look upon the Soviet Republic as their deliverer. They say: the Red Army has shown that it can give blow for blow, though it was not strong enough for victory in the first year or, you might oven say, in the first month of its peaceful construction. That first month of peaceful construction, however, will be followed by many years, and with each passing year its strength will multiply tenfold. It was thought that the Peace of Versailles was one of the all-powerful imperialists, but after the summer of 1920 it became clear that they were weaker than the workers and peasants of even a weak country who know how to unite their forces and repulse the capitalists. In the summer of 1920 Soviet Russia showed herself as a force that not only defended herself against attack, against the onslaught of the Polish whiteguards, but showed herself in fact as a world force capable of smashing the Treaty of Versailles and freeing hundreds of millions of people in most countries of the world. That is the significance of the Red Army’s campaign of this summer. That is why events took place in Britain during this war, which marked a turning-point in the whole of British policy. When we refused to halt our troops Britain replied by threatening to send her fleet against Petrograd. The order was given to attack Petrograd. That is what the British Prime Minister announced to Comrade Kamenev, and all countries were notified. But on the day following the dispatch of this telegram, mass meetings were held throughout Britain, and Councils of Action sprang up. The workers united. All the British Mensheviks, who are even viler than the Russian brand, and fawn upon the capitalists far more assiduously-even they had to join in, because the workers were demanding it, because the British workers said they would not tolerate a war against Russia. All over Britain Councils of Action were formed, the British imperialists’ war plans were frustrated, and it once more turned out that, in her war against the imperialists of all lands, Soviet Russia has allies in each of them. When we Bolsheviks said: “We are not alone in our revolt against the landowners and capitalists of Russia, because in every country we have allies the worker and peasant; moreover, those allies are to be found in most countries”, we were ridiculed and were asked: “Where are these working people?” Yes, it is true that in Western Europe, where the capitalists are far stronger and live by fleecing hundreds of millions in the colonies, it is far more difficult to rise up in revolt. There the working-class revolution is developing incomparably more slowly. Nevertheless, it is developing. When, in July 1920, Britain threatened Russia with war, the British workers prevented that war from taking place. The British Mensheviks followed the lead of the British Bolsheviks. They had to do so and come out against the Constitution, against the law declaring they would not tolerate the war. If the latter was declared on the morrow, they would call a strike and give no coal to Britain and to France as well. The British workers declared that they wanted to determine foreign policy; they are directing it in the same way as the Bolsheviks in Russia, and not like the capitalists in other countries.

That is an example of what the Polish war has brought to light. That is why we have emerged victorious withir six months. That is why devastated, weak and backward Soviet Russia is defeating an alliance of states infinitely more powerful than she is. That is because they lack strength at home, and the workers, the working people in general, are against them. This is apparent at every crisis. This is apparent because they are robbers who attack each other and cannot unite against us; because, in the final analysis, private property divides people and brutalises them, whereas labour unites them. Labour has not only united the workers and peasants of Russia, it has united them with the workers and peasants of all lands. Consequently, in all these countries the people can now see that Soviet Russia is a force that is smashing the Peace of Versailles. Soviet Russia will become stronger, and the Treaty of Versailles will collapse just as it all but collapsed at the first blow by the Red Army in July 1920. That is why the Polish war has ended in a manner no imperialist state had bargained for. This is a lesson of the utmost importance to us, for it shows by the example and behaviour of all countries taking part in international politics that our cause is strong; that no matter what attempts are made to invade Russia and no matter what military moves are made against us-and in all probability many more will be made-all these attempts will go up in smoke as we know from our actual experience, which has steeled us. After every such attempt by our enemies, we shall emerge stronger than ever.

I shall now turn from international politics, where the clash with the Peace of Versailles demonstrated our strength, to problems that are more immediate and practical, to the situation which has arisen in connection with the Treaty of Versailles. I shall not dwell on the significance of the Second Congress of the Communist International, which took place in Moscow in July, a congress of the Communists of the whole world, and also of the Congress of the Peoples of the East, which took place afterwards in Baku.[3] These were international congresses which united the Communists and showed that in all civilised countries and in all the backward countries of the East, the banner of Bolshevism, the programme of Bolshevism, the line of Bolshevik action are an emblem of salvation, an emblem of struggle to the workers of all civilised countries and the peasants of all the backward colonial countries. They showed that, during the past three years, Soviet Russia not only beat off those who fell upon her in order to throttle her, but won the sympathy of the working people of the whole world; that we not only defeated our enemies, but acquired and are still acquiring new allies daily and by the hour. That which was achieved by the congress of Communists in Moscow and by the Baku congress of Communist representatives of the peoples of the East cannot be immediately assessed or directly calculated, but it has been an achievement of greater significance than some military victories are, because it proves to us that the Bolsheviks’ experience, their activities and programme, and their call for a revolutionary struggle against the capitalists and imperialists have won world-wide recognition; that which was achieved in Moscow in July and in Baku in September will for many months to come provide food for thought and assimilation by the workers and peasants of the world. This is a force which, in any conflict or crisis, will come out for Soviet Russia, as we have seen on more than one occasion. Such is the fundamental lesson of the Polish war, from the angle of the alignment of world forces.

In dealing with events at home, I must say that Wrangel is the chief force in the field against us. France, Poland and Wrangel joined forces against us. While our forces were wholly engaged in the war on the Western front, Wrangel mustered his forces, aided by the French and British navies. When Wrangel was approaching the Kuban, he was counting on support from the rich Cossack kulaks. Who helped Wrangel at the time? Who supplied him with fuel and a fleet to enable him to hold on to the Donets Basin? It was the British and the American navies. We know, however, that this landing operation failed, because the Kuban Cossack, though he was rich in grain, saw perfectly through those promises of a constituent assembly, rule by the people and the other fine things that the Mensheviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., try to fool simpletons with. Perhaps the Kuban peasants believed them while they were holding forth so eloquently, but in the long run they put their faith in action not words, and saw that though the Bolsheviks were severe people to deal with, they were to be preferred. As a result, Wrangel fled from the Kuban, and many hundreds and thousands of his troops were shot. Despite this, Wrangel assembled more and more of his forces in the Crimea, his troops consisting in the main of officers. He hoped that, at the first favourable moment, it would be possible to build up these forces, provided they had the backing of the peasants.

Wrangel’s troops are better equipped with guns, tanks, and aircraft than all the other armies that fought in Russia. Wrangel was assembling his forces when we were fighting the Poles; that is why I say that the peace with Poland is unstable. According to the preliminary peace signed on the 12th, the armistice will come into force only on the 18th, and the Poles still have two days in which they can repudiate it. ’4 The entire French press and the capitalists there are striving to get Poland to start a new war against Soviet Russia; Wrangel is hastening to use all his connections in order to wreck this peace, because he can see that when the war with Poland is ended the Bolsheviks will turn against him. The only practical conclusion for us, therefore, is to direct all our forces against Wrangel. In April this year we proposed peace on terms ’which were unfavourable to us, only in order to spare tens of thousands of workers and peasants the carnage of a new war. To us frontiers do not matter so much; we do not mind losing some territory in the frontier regions. To us it is more important to preserve the lives of tens of thousands of workers and peasants and to retain the possibility of peaceful construction, than to keep a small piece of territory. That is why we submitted this peace proposal and now repeat that Wrangel is the main threat, that his troops, which have meanwhile grown enormously in strength, are fighting desperately, at points have crossed the Dnieper and have assumed the offensive. The Wrangel front and the Polish front are one and the same thing, and the question of the war against Wrangel is a question of the war against Poland; to convert the preliminary peace with Poland into a permanent peace we must crush Wrangel in the shortest possible space of time. If that is not done, we cannot be certain that the Polish landowners and capitalists, under pressure from the French landowners and capitalists and with their help, will net once again try to embroil us in war. That is why I am taking advantage of this broadly representative meeting to draw your attention to this fundamental question and to ask you to make use of your position and authority in order to influence the masses of workers and peasants and ensure that the greatest possible efforts are made towards the full accomplishment of our immediate task-at all costs to crush Wrangel in the shortest space of time, because the possibility of our engaging in the work of peaceful construction depends only on this.

We know that in our devastated country the peasant economy has been destroyed, and that the peasant needs goods, and not the paper money which is being showered on him in such profusion. However, to supply him with goods such as paraffin oil, salt, clothing, etc., industry must be restored. We are approaching a position in which that can be done. We know that we now have more grain than last year; we now have fuel for industry: over 100 million poods of oil from Baku; the Donets Basin, which provides an enormous quantity of fuel, has been rehabilitated, though some industrial enterprises had to be evacuated during Wrangel’s advance to the south of the Donets Basin. Donots industry can be considered completely restored. Supplies of firewood are growing. Last year they totalled seven million cubic metres; we now have considerably more. Our industry is reviving. In Ivanovo-Voznesensk Gubernia, where for a number of years the mills were at a standstill, putting all the workers in low spirits, the mills are now being supplied with fuel and are beginning to operate. Thanks to the victories in Turkestan, they have received Turkestan cotton, and are starting to work. We are now confronted with a vast field of productive work, and we must do everything possible to rehabilitate industry, and supply the peasant with clothing, footwear and food and thus commence a fair exchange of the peasants’ grain for urban products. We must begin to give aid to agriculture. Yesterday, in the Council of People’s Commissars, we decided to encourage with extra rations the workers of the factory that will manufacture the first plough that proves best suited to our Russian conditions, so that we may restore our agriculture and raise it to a higher level, despite the shortage of cattle.

The workers and peasants are working together, without the landowners and the capitalists, and are achieving successes. However, the main thing in tackling this problem in earnest is the need to remember firmly that tens of thousands of workers and peasants are giving up their lives on the Wrangel front, that the enemy is better armed than we are, and that it is there, on the Wrangel front, that the last desperate battle is being fought out; it is there that the matter is being decided whether Soviet Russia will be able to strengthen herself for peaceful labour, so that no imperialist world-wide alliance, and not only the Polish whiteguards, will be able to threaten her. It is up to you, comrades. You must bend every effort, and remember that Soviet Russia has been able to solve all the problems in her struggle, not because decrees have been issued from the centre, but because these decrees have met with the enthusiastic and ardent sympathy of the workers and peasants throughout the country. Only when the workers and peasants saw that they were fighting against Kolchak, Denikin and Wrangel for their own land, their own factories and workshops, for their own interests and against the landowners and capitalists-only then did every one of them give the Red Army every possible support and assistance. When the Red Army men saw that the people in the rear were doing all they could for them, they were filled with the spirit which led them to victory. Everything depends on our defeating Wrangel, and I call on you to do everything possible in your organisations and factories, and in your villages, voluntarily and in accordance with the interests of the workers and peasants of the whole of Russia to come to the aid of the Wrangel front, and then we shall be victorious, both on the Wrangel and on the international fronts. (Stormy applause.)


[1] The conference was held between October 15 and 17, 1920, and was attended by some 3,000 delegates. Following Lenin's report a resolution was passed expressing satisfaction with the signing of a peace with Finland and a preliminary truce with Poland. It also recognised as correct the peaceful policy of the Soviet government which "has set out to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Russian and Polish workers and peasants and to spare the Russian and Polish working people the hardships and privations of a winter campaign". The conference went on record that "the immediate task in winning a lasting peace is the complete rout of surviving bands in the South" and urged the working people of Russia "to give all possible help to the fronts and to bend every effort to wipe out Wrangel" (Pravda No. 231, October 16, 1920). The conference also discussed the organisation of aid for the Western front, the food situation, labour and cart service, and education.

[2] Lenin is referring to a Note from the U.S. Secretary of State B. Colby to the Italian Government, on the attitude of the U.S. Administration towards Soviet Russia. The Note was published in Izvestia No. 198 of September 8, 1920.

[3] Lenin is referring to the First Congress of the Peoples of the East, which was held in Baku between September 1. and 7, 1920, and attended by 1,891 delegates representing 37 nationalities (1,273 delegates were Communists). On the national and the colonial questions the Congress expressed solidarity with the relevant resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist International.