Date: March 02, 1984.
Source: TASS News Agency, "Party and People United", text reproduced as "Text of Chernenko speech to election meeting", US Central Intelligence Agency declassified document number CIA-RDP86B00420R000200470003-6. Retrieved from Internet Archive (https://archive.org) on 27 December 2021.
Allow me to extend my sincere thanks to all the speakers here, to all working people of Moscow’s Kuibyshev district who nominated me as their candidate for election to the supreme Soviet of the USSR. I regard their confidence as support for our party’s Leninist course, as approval of the activity of its Central Committee, of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. I assure you that I will do my best to justify the high honour of being your deputy.
Quite recently, we suffered a heavy loss — Yuriy Vladimirovich Andropov, an outstanding figure of the party and the state — passed away. He was a leader of the Leninist type. He could not stand routine and stereotype, (words indistinct) how to overcome inertia and attune people to concerted work in the name of strengthening the motherland’s might, in the name of peace on Earth, it is under his leadership that the Central Committee, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee launched major positive changes in the country’s life.
The collectively developed guidelines on the key directions of society’s development, everything that has been achieved of late constitute a weighty political capital, and we will take care of it, and multiply it.
The election campaign is nearing completion. This year, it was characterised by great activity, businesslike course of voters’ meetings. It became vivid evidence of the unshakeable unity of the Party and the people. The CPSU attaches immense importance to the elections to the supreme Soviet. For this is, in fact, an account by Soviet power to the working people. This is also a form of the masses’ control over the performance of those whom they empowered to govern the socialist state.
It is in keeping with the party’s traditions to conduct an open, honest conversation with the masses, precisely this approach permeates the CPSU Central Committee’s address setting forth the Party’s election platform.
When addressing voters, my colleagues in the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the Central Committee spoke in detail about our home and foreign policy, about plans for the future. Allow me as well to set forth some ideas on this matter.
You know well how much attention the party is giving to economic issues. They featured most prominently in the work and decisions of the 26th CPSU Congress. They were subject of a realistic analysis at the Central Committee’s plenums in November 1982 and in December last year. The importance of a number of cardinal problems of the country’s economic development was stressed at the February plenum of the Central Committee.
What can be said in this respect about the period following the previous elections to the supreme Soviet?
On the whole, this was a fruitful period. The country’s productive forces became stronger and substantially renovated. More than a thousand industrial enterprises, fitted out with modern machinery, were made operational. The reconstruction and modernization of the operating plants and factories were conducted on a large scale. But, I’ll put it bluntly, less was done in this sphere than we would like. The fuel and energy base of the national economy was developed, about 40,000 kilometres of trunk gas pipelines were built — unprecedented scales and tempo in world practice. We succeeded in transferring a multitude of factories, cities and villages to use of natural gas. The number of people using gas at home grew by so million.
These years saw substantial achievements in many other fields too. A unique nuclear reactor with a capacity of 1.5 million kilowatt, for example, was developed in our country. Powerful atomic ice-breakers, built in our country, opened a new chapter in the exploration of the Arctic. Mineral prospecting with the help of ultradeep wells was started. Technical lasers are now extensively used in industry and medicine.
Suite a lot was done to develop agriculture, power availability per worker in this sphere increased by 30 per cent, mineral fertilizer deliveries to collective and state farms grew nearly by a third. Combined with the development in the countryside of new forms of organization of labour and economic management, this produces tangible results.
Judge for yourselves. We were unlucky with the weather last year as well, but the grain crop exceeded 190 million tonnes. Productivity of live-stock farming noticeably grew too. All this confirms once again that well-organized, persistent work yields fruit even in difficult conditions. The concrete point at issue now is mobilizing people, preparing all machinery and ensuring a smooth organization of field-work. There is no time to waste — the Spring sowing is not far off, it is also necessary to see to the successful completion of the wintering of cattle.
During the past five years, the complexities of international life compelled us to divert considerable resources to the needs connected with the consolidation of the country’s security, but he did not even think of curtailing social programmes, since the ultimate goal of all our work is improving the well-being of the Soviet people, and our approach to this task is broad. We want the people not only to be better off materially, but also healthy physically, developed spiritually, active in social life.
Four-fifths of the national income were directed over the past period to people’s well-being. The real incomes of the population increased. The public consumption funds became richer as well, and this is the source from which money us drawn for education, health service, payment of pensions, and upkeep of houses.
Our food programme, as well as the programme of developing the manufacture of consumer goods and services system, currently being drawn up, are also directed at raising the people’s well-being. Much is being done now to expand the production of popular commodities of good quality, the modernization of light and food industry enterprises has been started. In this area, we are actively cooperating with CMEA countries.
Among the party’s permanent priorities are such vital problems as construction of housing, child-care centres, expansion of the network of hospitals and polyclinics. Last year, more than two million flats were built — more than in any of the past five years. The housing construction target for the current five-year-plan period is very high. But there are grounds for believing that it will be met.
We realize, of course, that the housing problem is far from being resolved, and we will look for ways to improve further housing conditions. What this implies is not only construction with state money. It appears that the expansion of cooperative and individual construction should be encouraged more vigorously. As to kindergartens and nurseries, we have succeeded in easing the tension here. Much, however, remains to be done.
It is planned to increase in the coming years the salaries of teachers and other workers engaged in public education. Attention will be given in the future as well to war and labour veterans, large families, newly-weds, and to improving living standards of the Soviet people in general.
It is, probably, worthwhile making special mention of the year 1983. As you know, the Plenum of the Central Committee worked out in November 1982 a package of measures which imparted greater dynamism to our economy. We started overcoming the unfavorable trend of the first two years of the five-year-plan period when economic growth rates had slowed down. Of particular value is that labour productivity started growing faster and that quality indicators in many branches of the economy improved.
To take your district, for example, the industrial output has been obtained without increasing the workforce. You have actively joined the ongoing campaign for overfulfilling the plan assignment on labour productivity growth and reduction of production costs. Allow me to congratulate with personal labour accomplishments Maria Dmitriyevna Poleschchuk, a weaver, Aleksandr Mikhailovich Gorbunov, a turner, Nina Sergeyevna Izmailova, a glass-blower, Aleksandr Nikolayevich Serov, a fitter. All front-ranking workers of Kuibyshev District.
Of course, comrades, what has been accomplished is only a beginning of great work. There are still many things, and urgent ones, to be done. We can and we want to move forward faster. We can and should be more vigorous in solving the problems of intensifying economic development, for it is only on this basis that it is possible to meet ever fuller the material and intellectual needs of the people.
In brief, speaking about plans for the future, one should never forget one simple truth: in order to live better, it is necessary to work better. In order to advance successfully in implementing our social programmes, it is necessary to ensure a stable, dynamic growth of the economy and, above all, its efficiency. This was the topic both rt the December and the February plenums of the Central Committee.
We have succeeded so far in improving economic indicators chiefly through reserves lying, so to say, at hand, on the surface. We started enhancing order, organization and discipline. And this immediately produced a noticeable economic effect.
It is necessary to advance further — towards profound qualitative changes in the national economy.
Our economy still has no few sectors where lagging just leaps to the eye. The available production potential is far from being fully used. The experimental base of mechanical engineering is impermissibly weak. The share of arduous manual and unskilled work in industrial production and construction is being reduced slowly.
It is a must that we ensure a swift and continuous modernization Of all branches of the national economy on the basis of the latest Achievements in science and technology. This is one of our basic Tasks. Without this, progress of the society is simply unthinkable.
The party also lays keen emphasis upon the issue of starting a large-scale improvement of economic management and restructuring of the economic mechanism. The main guidelines for this work have been defined. They fully accord with the Leninist principle of democratic centralism.
We should, no doubt, strengthen centralized management and planning, ensure that they are made more effective and flexible. Things should be arranged in such a way that national-level economic bodies direct all their resources rt resolving the questions of really key importance for the country. Some of their present duties can well be handed over to subordinate organizations, either branch or local ones.
We have and will curb any actions that are dictated by narrow departmental or parochial considerations.
But, comrades, no denying it, there are still instances when local initiative is fettered under the pretext of curbing parochialism. That won’t do at all. Encouraging economic initiative, creative work at the levels of economic regions, amalgamations and factories is one of the most important tasks precisely as a country-wide character.
This is, I’d say, also the question of further consolidating friendship between the peoples of our country — one of the basic principles of the party’s Leninist policy. It is necessary to ensure a growth of the possibilities of each republic to make an effective contribution to developing the Soviet Union’s economy as a single national economic complex. Of course, the interests of the whole people should be placed highest. This directly follows from the internationalist nature of our society, from our world outlook.
Forms of management, comrades, should correspond to present-day demands. This hill be, undoubtedly, facilitated by the current economic experiments. Their essence is that more rights be given to enterprises and their responsibility enhanced, while excessive supervision from the centre be removed. Experimental testing will make it possible to turn from the stage of search -to confident advance. But, of course, comrades, the search for and introduction of the new should not be limited to enterprises involved in this or another experiment.
It is, for example, obvious for all that it is necessary to give the green light to the universal introduction of cost-accounting principles. Everything that is standing in its way should be removed.
One of our chief concerns is that the socialist principle of distribution according to one’s work be put into life always and everywhere. Those who work with complete devotion should by all means have a better pay. Some may say: But we can, even today, punish slackers financially and award bonuses to conscientious workers. This is so. But, it seems, the penalties still lack strictness, while material incentive lacks proper fairness and, sometimes, I would say, generosity. This question should be thoroughly dealt with, and without delay either.
It is necessary to overcome resolutely conservatism and sluggishness. In brief, the slogan of the day in the economic sphere should be: from the correct idea, primed with experience -- to bold actions!
As you see, comrades, a great deal of work is being done to raise the efficiency of the national economy. This, naturally, is not easy work. And then, at the height of this work, in June last year, the Central Committee gathered for a plenary meeting to examine questions of ideological, political work of the party among the masses. Why? What connection is there with our economic tasks?
The relationship is direct, inseparable.
The matter is that today, as never before, successes of party guidance of society depends on the consistent observance of the Leninist principle of the unity of ideological, organizational and economic work. Building socialism and perfecting it means not only construction of modern factories and power plants, making our land, our villages and cities more beautiful. This is a necessary, but far from sole concern of communists. While transforming the living conditions of people, it is also necessary to do everything possible for their ideological and moral elevation. Obviously, the tasks of perfecting developed socialism cannot be resolved without a great deal of work to spiritually develop people and their socialist education.
It is precisely the essence of the June plenum’s decisions that all creative forces, contained in the consciousness and ideological conviction of the masses, be put into motion. This is the basis of their labour and social activity.
I have mentioned the need for a drastic restructuring of the economic management system. It is apparent, however, that improvement of this system is in no way limited to eliminating shortcomings in the work, of the, so to say, managers by profession. Another thing is no less important: conditions should be made for enhancing the initiative and creative spirit of the broadest sections of the working masses in their entire fruitfulness and Strength.
I have been told that industrial robots have started performing some production operations at several enterprises of your district, there will be more of them with time, of course. But even then, I assure you, the importance of what we call the human factor of economic progress will not be lessened. By this we mean the importance of knowledge, the interests and good of people. For work is done by man and renowned through man, this old truth will never be made obsolete by scientific and technological progress.
In production, the Soviet man should always be the full-fledged and responsible master. This aim is served by the law on work collectives which was adopted last year, it is aimed at further developing precisely the managerial initiative of the working people.
The educational force of moral incentives is tremendous in the life of every work collective. In our country work is for the social recognition of man, his social prestige. The people are justly indignant at shirkers, job-switchers and drunkards, who try to use the lofty name of the working man as a cover for their own laziness and slipshodness, and even demand public respect for themselves. One of the main objectives of the educational work is to form and strengthen in society an atmosphere of respectful attitude to work and, at the same time, of intolerance and to all kinds of idleness, sloppiness and irresponsible attitudes.
I would also like to hake special mention of the following. The party and the state, as you know, have stepped up against such disgraceful phenomena as squandering of state funds, eyewash and abuse of office, embezzlement and bribes. This is not a temporary campaign. This is a line which will be pursued permanently and undeviatingly. There is, and there will be, no indulgence to anybody in this respect. Nobody should have illusions about that. Therefore, it takes even higher responsibility and insistence on high standards on the part of executives, permanent attention to those issues of party organizations and work collectives, all Soviet people, effective functioning of the people’s control, law, order and justice organs.
Comrades, there is, perhaps, no such corner in our vast country, where the problems and perspectives of the Soviet school were not discussed. The question of its reform has left nobody indifferent. It concerns literally, as they say, both old and young. The nation-wide discussion of the draft reform of the general educational and vocational school is graphic example of how issues of general state significance are resolved by the Soviet power, an example of true democracy. You are, certainly, familiar with the guidelines of that reform. I would like to dwell here on one aspect -- the labour education.
Labour will never be an amusement, a pastime. Even under communism it will remain, as Marx put it, a devilishly serious matter. Working is difficult, and nothing can be done about that. Yet parents are at times tempted to spare their children of difficulties. But it is only socially useful labour that makes human life meaningful. That is why children should be taught not what is easy, they will themselves cope with that, but what is difficult. One of the most important objectives of education is to instill in the schoolchildren love for work. To include, in full measure, the impact of productive labour into the process of education.
The point, as you understand, is by no means to belittle the significance of general cultural standards, of knowledge, to introduce something like labour conscription. It goes without saying that the reform of the school has nothing to do with the ideas that are dished by hostile radio voices. The point at issue is different: a man, who has not been educated to work, cannot be a conscious builder of the new world.
We take [text obscured -marxists.org] not falter, not bend beneath the weight of historical responsibility for the country’s destiny, for the destiny of socialism and peace. Such young people who would be able not only to assimilate the experience of the older generations, but also to enrich it with their own accomplishments. This is a responsibility of the school and the family, but not only of them. This is a responsibility of the Young Communist League, trade unions and work collectives.
This is a major task of the party. In the final analysis, it is the question of reliably ensuring our socialist homeland’s future. We are resolving this task, and doing it successfully.
Comrades, it is way back on the eve of the birth of the world’s first state of the workers and peasants that Lenin wrote: “Under socialism, the mass of the population mill rise to taking an independent part, not only in voting and elections, but also in the every-day administration of the state.” And today the key to fresh successes in the work of the bodies of our people’s power, above all, of the soviets, lies in the ever-wider drawing in the affairs of the state of conscious, politically mature and creative, thinking citizens. These activists of the soviets, who number tens of millions, should be really active. The possibilities for that have considerably grown in recent years, the role of the soviets of all levels has grown in resolving diverse economic and socio-political tasks.
It is totally justified that the local soviets have begun to coordinate to a greater extent the activities of enterprises of different industries in their territories. And it is a good thing that they enhance control over the production of consumer goods and the development of the services, over environmental protection. Generally speaking, the soviets’ functions of control should be enhanced further. There is much room for work here.
It is invaluable for the further extension of the democratic basis of the Soviet state to keep people better informed of the real state of affairs and to enhance publicity in the work of party and government institutions. The mass media have a great role to play here. Their work has been somewhat intensified during the recent period. However, we expect from them more in-depth and interesting materials about the life of the country and the world at large, and a bolder approach to outstanding problems.
And, of course, it is always necessary to be sensitive to the proposals and critical remarks of the working people and to be intolerant of any form of the suppression of criticism.
We communists take pride in the fact that the party as the nucleus of the entire political system has a great influence in the soviets. Moreover, this is ensured not by the numerical superiority of party members in the soviets: as everyone knows, we have more non-party deputies. The party asserts its political influence in society by tireless efforts for the good and happiness of the working people and by the ability to draft and implement a policy meeting the needs of one stage of our development or another.
The party attaches much importance to analysing the specific feature of the present period and to determining in a sober, entirely non-utopic way the level of the social and economic maturitv of the new society we have achieved. Determining it, we work out strictly scientific foundations of the CPSU’s policy.
A great role is played here by the concept of developed socialism as an historically protracted period, at the beginning of which our country is now. It is in the process of accomplishing the tasks of perfecting developed socialism that gradual advance towards communism is taking place.
It is difficult to overestimate the fundamental political importance of these conclusions drawn by the party. They make possible to have a clearer picture of the development of our society in all its complex, controversial and multifaceted entirety. They help to remove in practice those discrepancies which have sometimes been allowed to occur between words and deeds, between the real possibilities of society and unsubstantiated forecasts. It is these points in view that the Central Committee is doing today exceptionally important work of preparing a new edition of the CPSU program.
 The source document ends here but it seems evident that the speech continued beyond this point. (marxists.org)