V. I. Lenin

Letter Addressed To The

Conference Of Representatives Of Enterprises To Be Nationalised[1]

May 18, 1918

Written: 19 May, 1918
First Published: Izvestia VTsIK No. 99. May 19, 1918; Published according to the Izvestia text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 27, pages 388-389
Translated: Clemens Dutt; Edited by Robert Daglish
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: Lenin Internet Archive March, 2002

Having heard the statement made by the comrades elected as the workers’ delegation at the conference of representatives of large metalworks, and bearing in mind the resolution adopted by the conference, I am able to say that in my opinion the Council of People’s Commissars will certainly be unanimously in favour of immediate nationalisation if the conference exerts every effort to secure planned and systematic organisation of work and increased productivity.

Hence, it is desirable that the conference: I) Should immediately elect a Provisional Council to prepare for the amalgamation of the works; 2) Should authorise the Central Committee of the Metalworkers’ Union, in agreement with the Supreme Economic Council, to change the form of and to add members to this Provisional Council for the purpose of transforming it into a Management Board of a single union (or amalgamation) of all the nationalised works; 3) Should approve, or by means of a resolution legalise, the factory regulations on the model of the Bryansk regulations,[2] for the purpose of creating strict labour discipline; 4) Should nominate candidates from among specialists, engineers and organisers of large-scale production, for the purpose of participating in the management, or authorise the Supreme Economic Council to seek for and appoint such; 5) It is desirable that workers from the best organised works, or those having most experience in managing large-scale production, shall be sent (by the Provisional Council or by the Central Committee of the Metalworkers’ Union) to assist in organising affairs properly at the less successful works; 6) By keeping the strictest account and control of all materials with reference to the productivity of labour, we must achieve, and we can achieve, enormous economies in raw materials and labour.

I think that if the conference and the bodies it sets up work energetically, it will be possible for the Council of People’s Commissars to pass the nationalisation decree within the next few days.


[1] Conference of Representatives of the Metal Works Due for Nationalisation was held in Moscow, May 12-18, 1918. It was attended by 6 representatives from each works: 3 workers, 2 engineers and one representative from the Managerial side. The conference cussed the problems involved in nationalising large works like these at Bryansk, Kolomna, Sormovo, Byeleretsk, Zlatoust, Tver and the Baltic Works in Petrograd.

Before the conference took place, the subject had been discussed by various economic and trade union bodies and by the Council of People’s Commissars. During this discussion the proposal (known as the Meshchersky plan) put forward by the capitalists and bourgeois experts to amalgamate the big machine-building works in a capitalist joint-stock company controlled by the state was rejected and it was decided that these enterprises should be nationalised. On May 17, the conference came out in favour of nationalisation. Only the group of bourgeois experts, who had a voice but no vote, defended the Meshchersky plan.

Lenin’s letter which was read out at the morning session on May 18, was greeted with loud applause. As Lenin proposed, the conference elected a temporary committee to organise the amalgamation of the state metal works under the Supreme Economic Council, confirmed the Regulations on the Committee, and also the instructions on the management of nationalised enterprises.

The share companies of the Sormovo and Byeloretsk iron works and the Kelomna machine-building works and others were nationalised on June 18, 1918. They were amalgamated as the Temporary Central Beard of the Sormovo-Kolomna Amalgamated National Machine-Building Works. When the Bryansk, Mytishchi, Tver and other machine-building works were added to this organisation, it became known as the State Amalgamation of Machine Building Works.

[2] The Bryansk Regulations-the Provisiona—Regulations of Internal Management drawn up by the factory trade union committee and the workers’ management of the nationalised Bryansk Rail-rolling, Ironmaking and Machine Works in Bezhitsa (now the Krasny Prefixtern Works). On May 9, 1918 they were published as an order signed by the works trade union committee and the director of the works. The Regulations were drawn up on the basis of the Statute on Labour Discipline, which had been passed by the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions on April 3, 1918. They instituted a firm system of discipline at the works and helped to strengthen one-man management in industry.