V. I.   Lenin

Speeches at the Meeting of the C.P.C.

March 4, 1918[3]

Published: First published in 1962 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 35. Printed from the shorthand record.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 63-66a.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). 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.README



I fully agree with Comrade Trutovsky that the tendencies and attempts of which we have heard here are completely at variance with the aims of the workers’ and peasants’ government and have nothing in common with socialism.[4] The aim of socialism is to turn all the means of production into the property of the whole people, and that does not at all mean that the ships become the property of the ship workers or the banks the property of the bank clerks. If people take such paltry things seriously, then we must do away with nationalisation,[5] because the whole thing is preposterous. The task, the aim of socialism, as we see it, is to convert the land and the industrial enterprises into the property of the Soviet Republic. The peasant receives land on condition that he works it properly. If the river transport workers receive ships, it is on condition that they take a proprietary interest in them: they must submit their estimates if only in order to have income and expenditure endorsed, and they must take proper care of the ships. If they cannot do this, we shall remove them. Seeing that they have been arguing for three weeks, I would propose removing all of them from, the management, because this shows an utter inaptitude for organisation, a complete failure to grasp the vital tasks facing the Soviet Republic.. It is chaos, disorganisation, even worse-it borders on sabotage. They have started a sort of organised crusade in the Union and come complaining. Meanwhile, the boats on the Volga stand unrepaired. What is this? What is it—a madhouse? I am perfectly sure that they realise that if we go on existing in this chaos we shall bring still greater calamities down on our heads. The chief condition with us is discipline and the organised transfer of all property to the people, the transfer of all sources of wealth to the Soviet Republic, and their strictly disciplined disposal. So when we are told that the river transport workers will be private managing proprietors, we obviously cannot agree to it. Soviet power   is to do the managing. But you organise a sort of debate preventing unity among all organisations....[1] If they are dissatisfied, they could have asked for the order to be rescinded. But they are proposing again that it should be decided first whom the ships belong to, so that the ship workers should demand a 140 per cent rise.


I fully agree with many things, but as to the make-up of the Board, I think the proposal of the river transport comrades is absolutely unacceptable. For one thing, that is not the question we are dealing with. The question at issue is that the men are not receiving their money. That’s simply scandalous, of course. What are we allocating money for? For it to remain on paper? We have heard a thousand complaints, that unless the money is sent, our transport will collapse. If the money was assigned on February 21, and on the 22nd it was not received, then they should have come on the 23rd complaining. We are suffering from a money famine, we are short of currency notes, the treasury cannot print all we need. If we assign money and you unassign it, then actually nothing is sent. You should have come here on February 23, and not March 3. We demanded that these tens of millions should be given. I don’t know who is more to blame. I believe the representatives of the Economic Council. We cannot satisfy everybody. While we are supplying Petrograd, Moscow is hungering for currency notes…[2] If people only wrote assignments and did not take any measures, they should have come here, or called me to the phone or somebody else, and complained about it. It is a rare week when I do not receive a complaint about money not being paid out, but from you I never received a single complaint. The people in charge should be made to answer for it, at least reprimanded. Under the ruling of February 21 the congress of river transport workers is obliged to submit the estimates. As regards the composition of the Management   Board, I think we should have corrected our decree rather in the vein Comrade Shlyapnikov suggested. Paragraph 3 provides for a Board of seven members. Why this wasn’t inserted is incomprehensible. A number of trade union representatives could be included in it. I propose that resolute measures be taken to have this money forwarded immediately by through goods trains. Then notification should be sent in the usual way saying the money has been dispatched. As regards the second point I believe the only Board possible in this instance and most acceptable for everyone, for the Council of People’s Commissars-the only possible Board is the one appointed yesterday by the Council of People’s Commissars. There are no grounds for changing this. I believe we should put this through. And if it’s really true about the 200 rubles salary, which was adopted as definite and made a condition for the nationalisation of transport—if that’s a fact, and if demands are made for levelling up with other organisations, then I personally raise the question of cancelling nationalisation. There may come a time shortly when there will be no money at all. We had a single guarantee on the basis of which we wanted to carry out nationalisation, and this is being taken away from us. If that’s the case, this measure should be revoked. Unless this is done we shall be taking on another responsibility incurring enormous losses.


I find the appointment of a commissar inconvenient in many respects. We have no indisputable candidate for this post. Therefore we shall not satisfy all requirements, inasmuch as both sides will be dissatisfied. The appointment of a commissar will mean setting aside the Union, and that form is undemocratic. We shall pass a decision for them to submit a proposal by the morning. If the Board is too unwieldy it could elect an executive committee. We can implement that organisationally tomorrow or the day after and have the thing put through organisationally at once within a fixed period. In appointing an executive committee, certain people could perhaps be appointed to it. This would   be correct, as we would not be setting aside the river transport workers. They can have no objection to co-operation by the trade unions. If this doesn’t go through, we can then go ahead with the appointment of a commissar. The members of this Council know that the question of a candidate is, of course, a difficult one, and to decide now on appointing a commissar is to decide nothing, as we quite often waste a whole week over it. It is best to use this method. There remains one proposal—to revoke points 5, 6 and 7. Adopted. Under Paragraph 3 six Board members will be replaced by temporary representatives from the trade unions.


[1] Part of the shorthand report has not been deciphered. —Lenin

[2] Part of the shorthand report has not been deciphered. —Lenin

[3] The shorthand record of the C.P.C. meeting from which these speeches are printed is kept in the Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U. It was read back in 1962 for the Fifth Russian Edition of Lenin’s Collected Works.

[4] This refers to the proposal made by representatives of the C.C. of the Water Transport Workers Trade Union that the management of water transport be concentrated in the hands of the Trade Union.

At the meeting of the C.P.C. on March 4, 1918, the question of setting up a water transport management board was discussed. According to the decision of the C.P.C. the management of water transport was entrusted to the Supreme Economic Council, under which a Waterways Department was being set up; the Board of this Department was to consist of representatives of the S.E.C., the C.P.C., the Water Transport Workers Trade Union and the regional . economic councils.

The C.P.C.. rejected the anarcho-syndicalist demands of the water transport workers. On Lenin’s motion the C.P.C. decided to immediately set up a Board on the basis of § 3 of the C.P.C.’s decision of February 27, to temporarily increase the number of trade union representatives on the Board, and take steps to immediately dispatch currency notes to pay the wages of the workers on the Volga and the Mariinsk system. The chief points of this decision of the C.P.C. were drafted by. Lenin (see p. 66 of this volume).

[5] Lenin is referring to the Decree of the C.P.C. on the Nationalisation of the Merchant Fleet adopted on January23 (February 5), 1918. The decree was published on January 26 (February 8) in Gazeta Vremennogo Rabochego i Krestanskogo Pravitelstva No. 18. p. 63 55 This draft was written by Lenin and endorsed at the meeting of theC.P.C. onMarch4, 1918, following a discussion of the question of organising a Water Transport Management Board. (For Lenin’s speeches at this meeting see pp. 63-66 of this volume.)

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