V. I. Lenin

Freedom To Trade In Grain

The Basic Condition For Victory

Written: August, 1919
First Published: 1930; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 567-570
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert 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

How are we to consolidate our victory over Koichak? How to complete it by destroying Denikin? How to make it impossible for the landowners, capitalists and kulaks to make any further attempts to regain their power, their land, their capital and their rule over the workers and peasants?

These are the questions that are actually identical with the question of the fate of the socialist revolution in Russia. Every politically-conscious worker and peasant has given some thought to this question, and it is not difficult to come to the conclusion that the food question now lies at the bottom of all socialist development.

Collecting all grain surpluses in the hands of the Soviet central authorities and correctly distributing them means making our Red Army invincible, it means the final rout of Kolchak and Denikin, it means the rehabilitation of industry and guarantees proper socialist production and distribution, guarantees the complete victory of the socialist system.

We now have enough experience of food supply work and socialist organisation to get a clear picture of its dimensions and the means of doing it. We know all the difficulties involved, we also know from experience that we have found the right way to surmount them and that by concentrating on this task, by applying greater energy, by mustering our forces and improving the apparatus we can solve this problem in its entirety.

Between August 1, 1917 and August 1, 1918, the state pro-cured 30 million poods of grain. Between August 1, 1918 and August 1, 1919, we procured about 105 million poods, i.e., three and a half times more, although in this latter period we did not have the Don region, the North Caucasus and Western Siberia, and had a very small part of the Ukraine-we did not have the main grain-growing regions.

With a good harvest in 1919 we shall be able to procure very much grain, perhaps 400 million poods or more. Then we shall increase tremendously our output of fuel, timber, coal, etc. Then we shall restore industry and take the broad road of planned socialist development, firmly and irrevo-cably. Then we shall completely defeat profiteering and shall destroy this disgusting survival of capitalism that is today everywhere damaging the young beginnings of socialism.

The True Road To Victory

The figures given above show that Soviet power has achieved important successes in matters of food; these suc-cesses have been achieved in conditions of unprecedented, unheard-of difficulty. Even the clearest figures and the most indisputable facts are either challenged or passed over in silence when it comes to defending the selfish interests of the bourgeoisie, capitalists, profiteers and kulaks.

An exact study of the food situation of the urban worker shows that he obtains only a half (approximately) of his food from the state, from the Commissariat of Food, and the other half he buys in the “free”, “open” market, i.e., from the profiteers. Furthermore, for the first half he pays only one-tenth of the total amount spent on food and for the second half he pays the other nine-tenths.

The profiteers skin the hungry worker nine times over.

The profiteers plunder him unbelievably. We all know that an orgy of profit-making, robbery and crime, that the torments of hunger for the masses of the workers and the enrichment of a few scoundrels are connected with this notorious "freedom to trade” in grain.

Notwithstanding this there are people who advocate freedom to trade!

Our workers' and peasants' government, the entire Soviet Republic, all the socialist society of ours now being born, are in a state of war, a brutal, desperate, savage war for survival against capitalism, against profiteering, against freedom to trade in grain. This is the most profound, most radical, daily and truly mass struggle between capitalism and socialism. The fate of our revolution as a whole depends on the outcome of this struggle. But people who call them-selves “socialists”, Social-Democrats, Menshevi ks, “Socialist-Revolutionaries” are helping capitalism in this struggle against socialism! Even the best of these people, those most hostile to Kolchak, Denikin and the capitalists, go over to the side of capitalism when it comes to the question of the food policy of Soviet power, and demand minor concessions in favour of the “private commercial apparatus”, “individual enterprise” and so on, and so forth.

If you study this carefully, if you think deeply about why, actually, there is a struggle against Soviet power, you come to the conclusion that the enemies of Soviet power may be divided into two big groups both of which defend capi-talism against socialism. One of them acts brutally and with the crudest selfishness; this is the group of landowners, capitalists, kulaks, Denikins, Kolchaks, Black Hundreds and Constitutional-Democrats. The other group defends capitalism “ideologically”, that is, unselfishly, without any direct, personal profit, but out of prejudice and cowardice in face of the new; this is the group of Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. These are the last “ideological” advocates of capitalism. And it was by no means an accident that the Koichaks and Denikins, the Russian and all foreign capitalists march under cover of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, behind their banner, behind their flag, and repeat their slogans and phrases about “freedom” in general, about “democracy” in general, about “private” (commercial, capitalist) enterprise, etc., etc.

Clever capitalists realise that the “ideological” position of the Menslieviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries is of ser-vice to them, to their class, to “their” capitalism, but the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, like all petty-bourgeois socialists everywhere and at all times, do not realise this. They fear a life-and-death struggle against freedom to trade in grain, they want to make concessions to i, to recognise it at least in part, to be in “peace” and agreement with it.

What Is Freedom To Trade In Grain?

Freedom to trade in grain is a return to capitalism, to the full power of the landowners and capitalists, to a savage struggle between people for profit, to the “free” enrichment of the few, to the poverty of the masses, to the eternal bon-dage we see in all bourgeois states, including the freest and most democratic republics.

If we ask any person who works for his living, any factory worker, peasant or even intellectual, whether he wants such a “system” he will certainly say “no”. The whole trouble and the whole danger is that a very large number of working people, especially a large number of peasants, do not realise that freedom to trade in grain is connected with the universal power of the landowrers and capitalists.