Nikolai Bukharin

The Era of Great Works

Source: The Communist Index, January 27, 1921, p. 9 (524 words)
Transcription: Ted Crawford
HTML Markup: Brian Reid
Proofreader: David Tate
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

In a certain Utopian romance by A. Bogdanov, called the “Red Star”—a book that was at one time eagerly devoured by party workers there is a chapter entitled: “The Era of Great Works.”

The scene takes place on Mars, where a Russian Bolshevik, a child of the Russian revolution, happens to have fallen.

A great agricultural crisis has called forth the necessity of unprecedented work in the digging of canals. “The Era of Works” sets in. Hundreds of thousands of men are sent to work. And, when it is accomplished, it becomes the technical foundation of the new society.

I recalled all this whilst listening to comrade Krijanovsky’s report at the Congress of Soviets in December. The surroundings were unusual. The vast hall of the Grand Theatre was packed with workers and peasants—a great assembly of the toiling masses. On the platform stood, not a political leader, not an engineer; and although an old and worthy party comrade, he is not a politician.

Behind the platform is a great map of Soviet Russia, dotted over with many-coloured lamps, which light up one after another as the engineer enumerates the new electric stations that we are hoping to build.

The speech, too, is unusual for our congress. Not a single word about politics; but there is, instead, the appeal of labour, the appeal of the “Great works.” Poor, starving, and sheep-skinned Russia—Russia of primitive lighting and a crust of black bread—is going to be covered by a network of electric stations. The electric current will mysteriously set our factories and mills in motion; they will move freight and passengers by railway and waterway; they will drive the tractors and the ploughs along earth that but yesterday was worked by the primitive horse plough; they will illuminate our buildings; they will transform Russia into an economic whole, and the dismembered nation into an intelligent and organised section of humanity. The horizon is endless and beautiful.

And all this is not taking place on Mars; nor is it a Utopian romance. It has all been calculated and verified dozens of times. We can do it.

The thousands of comrades listen with strained attention to catch the whole of the report—a report which lasts over two hours. One feels the first movements of the new spirit—the spirit of the “Great Works”—in the hall, quivering on invisible wings.

When a “group of usurpers” declared, through Lenin, at the beginning of the war, that the civil war was coming, they were considered irresponsible babblers.

When that “group,” carried forward by the wave of revolution, took the helm of government into its hands, its ruin was every day foretold.

Today that “group,” now a tremendous force, affirms there is coming an order such as mankind has not yet seen. We shall build this order; and in its name we are beginning the “Era of Great Works”.

You millions of builders of the future fraternal society, do you not feel the warm blood of that future coursing already through your veins?