V. I. Lenin

Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets

Part II

Report On The Work Of The Council Of People’s Commissars December 22

(Shouts from the hall : “Long live Comrade Lenin!” Storm of applause. An ovation.) Comrades, I have to present a report on the home and foreign policy of the government. I do not think it is the purpose of my report to give you a list of at least the most outstanding or most important laws and measures adopted by the workers’ and peasants’ government. Nor do I think that you would be interested in an account of the events of this period, or that it is very important that I should give one. As I see it, general conclusions should be drawn from the principal lessons we have learnt during this year, which was no less abundant in abrupt political changes than the preceding years of the revolution were. From the general lessons of this year’s experience we must deduce the most urgent political and economic tasks that face us, tasks to which the Soviet government—both through the legislative acts which are being submitted for your examination and endorsement and through the sum total of its measures—at present attaches the greatest hopes and significance, and from the fulfilment of which it expects important progress in our economic development. Permit me, therefore, to confine myself to brief comments on the Republic’s international situation and on the chief results of our foreign policy during the past year.

You all know, of course, how the Polish landowners and capitalists forced a war on us under the pressure and at the insistence of the capitalist countries of Western Europe, and not of Western Europe alone. You know that in April of this year we made peace proposals to the Polish Government, on terms which were incomparably more advantageous to it than the present terms, and that it was only under pressure of dire necessity, after our negotiations for an armistice with Poland had ended in a complete breakdown, that we were obliged to fight. Despite the heavy defeat our forces suffered near Warsaw, as a result of their undoubted exhaustion, this war has ended in a peace that is far more favourable to us than the one we proposed to Poland in April. A preliminary treaty with Poland has been signed, and negotiations are now under way for the conclusion of a final peace treaty. We certainly do not conceal from ourselves the danger presented by the pressure being exerted by some of the more stubborn capitalist countries and by certain Russian whiteguard circles with the aim of preventing these negotiations from ending in a peace. It should, however, be said that the Entente’s policy, which aims at military intervention and the armed suppression of the Soviets, is steadily coming to nought, and that we are winning over to our policy of peace a steadily increasing number of states which are undoubtedly hostile towards the Soviets. The number of countries that have signed peace treaties is increasing, and there is every probability that a final peace treaty with Poland will be signed in the immediate future. Thus, another severe blow will be struck at the alliance of the capitalist forces which are trying to wrench the power of government from us by means of war.

Comrades, you also know, of course, that the temporary setbacks we suffered in the war with Poland and the difficulty of our position at certain moments of the war were due to our being obliged to fight Wrangel, who was officially recognised by one imperialist power,[1] and received vast material, military and other aid. To end the war as quickly as possible, we had to effect a rapid concentration of troops so as to strike a decisive blow at Wrangel. You, of course, know what dauntless heroism was displayed by the Red Army in surmounting obstacles and fortifications which even military experts and military authorities considered impregnable. The complete, decisive and remarkably swift victory the Red Army gained over Wrangel is one of the most brilliant pages in its history. That was how the war forced on us by the whiteguards and the imperialists ended.

It is with far greater assurance and determination that we can now set about a task that is dear to us, an essential task, one that has long been attracting us—that of economic development. We can do so with the assurance that the capitalist tycoons will not find it as easy to frustrate this work as in the past. Of course, we must be on our guard. In no case can we say that we are already guaranteed against war. It is not because of the absence of formal peace treaties that we are still without that guarantee. We are very well aware that the remnants of Wrangel’s army have not been destroyed, that they are lying low close at hand, that they are under ward and tutelage, and are being re-formed with the aid of the capitalist powers. We know that the white-guard Russian organisations are working actively to re-create certain military units and, together with Wrangel’s forces, to prepare them for a new onslaught on Russia at a favourable moment.

That is why we must maintain our military preparedness under all circumstances. Irrespective of the blows already struck at imperialism, we must keep our Red Army in a state of combat readiness at all costs, and increase its fighting efficiency. The release of a certain section of the army and its rapid demobilisation does not, of course, militate against this. We rely on the tremendous experience gained by the Red Army and its leaders during the war to enable us now to improve its quality. And we shall see to it that although the army is reduced we shall retain a cadre whose maintenance will not entail an undue burden on the Republic, while at the same time, with the reduction in the number of effectives, we shall be in a better position than before, in case of need, to mobilise and equip a still larger military force.

We are certain that all the neighbouring states, which have already lost a great deal by supporting the whiteguard conspiracies against us, have learnt the hard lesson of experience and have duly appreciated our conciliatory spirit, which was generally considered as weakness on our part. Three years of experience have no doubt shown them that, while we are persistently striving for peace, we are prepared from the military point of view. Any attempt to start a war against us will mean, to the states involved, that the terms they will get following such a war will be worse than those they could have obtained without a war or prior to it. This has been proved in respect of several countries. This is an achievement we shall not forego, one that will not be forgotten by any of the powers surrounding us or in political contact with Russia. Thanks to this, our relations with neighbouring countries are steadily improving. You know that a final peace has been signed with a number of states bordering on the Western frontiers of Russia. These were part of the former Russian Empire, and the Soviet government has unequivocally recognised their independence and sovereignty, in conformity with the fundamental principles of our policy. Peace on such a basis has every chance of being far more durable than is to the liking of the capitalists and certain West-European states.

As regards the Latvian Government, I must say that at one time there was a danger of our relations becoming strained, so much so that the idea even arose of severing diplomatic relations. But the latest report from our representative in Latvia indicates that a change of policy has already taken place, and that many misunderstandings and legitimate causes of dissatisfaction have been removed. There is good reason to hope that in the near future we shall have close economic ties with Latvia, which will naturally be even more useful to us in our trade with Western Europe than Estonia and the other states bordering on the R.S.F.S.R.

I must also say, comrades, that during this year our policy in the East has been very successful. We must welcome the formation and consolidation of the Soviet Republics of Bokhara, Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have not only recovered their complete independence, but have placed the power of government in the hands of the workers and peasants. These republics are proof and corroboration of the fact that the ideas and principles of Soviet government are understood and immediately applicable, not only in the industrially developed countries, not only in those which have a social basis like the proletariat, but also in those which have the peasantry as their basis. The idea of peasants’ Soviets has triumphed. The peasants’ power has been assured: they own the land and the means of production. The friendly relations between the peasant Soviet Republics and the Russian Socialist Republic have already been consolidated by the practical results of our policy.

We can also welcome the forthcoming signing of a treaty with Persia,[2] friendly relations with whom are assured by the fact that the fundamental interests of all peoples suffering from the yoke of imperialism coincide.

We must also note that friendly relations with Afghanistan, and still more so with Turkey, are being steadily established and strengthened. As for the latter power, the Entente countries have done everything they could to render impossible any more or less normal relations between her and the West-European countries. This circumstance, coupled with consolidation of the Soviets, is steadily strengthening the alliance and the friendly relations between Russia and the oppressed nations of the East, despite the bourgeoisie’s resistance and intrigues and the continuing encirclement of Russia by bourgeois countries. The chief factor in politics today is the violence being used by the imperialists against peoples which have not had the good fortune to be among the victors; this world policy of imperialism is leading to closer relations, alliance and friendship among all the oppressed nations. The success we have achieved in this respect in the West as well, in relation to more Europeanised states, goes to show that the present principles of our foreign policy are correct and that the improvement in our international position rests on a firm basis. We are confident that, by continuing our peace policy and by making concessions (and we must do so if we wish to avoid war), the basic line of our policy and the fundamental interests which stem from the very nature of imperialist policy will come into their own and will make it more and more imperative for the R.S.F.S.R. to establish closer relations with a growing number of neighbouring states, despite the intrigues and machinations of the imperialists, who, of course, are always capable of provoking a quarrel between us and some other state. Such relations are our guarantee that we shall be able to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to economic development and that we shall be able, for a longer period, to work calmly, steadfastly and confidently.

I must add that negotiations for the conclusion of a trade agreement with Great Britain are now under way. Unfortunately, these negotiations have been dragging out much longer than we would wish, but we are not at all to blame for that. When, as far back as July—at the moment the Soviet troops were achieving their greatest successes—the British Government officially submitted to us the text of an agreement assuring the establishment of trade relations, we replied by giving our full consent, but since then the conflict of the various trends within the British Government and the British state has held this up. We see how the British Government is vacillating, and is threatening to sever relations with us and immediately to dispatch warships to Petrograd. We have seen all this, but at the same time we have seen that, in reply to this threat, Councils of Action have sprung up all over Great Britain. We have seen how, under pressure from the workers, the most extreme adherents of the opportunist trend and their leaders have been obliged to resort to this quite “unconstitutional” policy, one that they had themselves condemned a short while before. It appears that, despite the Menshevik prejudices which have hitherto prevailed in the British trade union movement, the pressure brought to bear by the working people and their political consciousness have become strong enough to blunt the edge of the imperialists’ bellicose policy. Continuing our policy of peace, we have taken our stand on the proposals made by the British Government in July. We are prepared to sign a trade agreement at once; if it has not yet been signed, the blame rests wholly with those trends and tendencies in British ruling circles that are anxious to frustrate the trade agreement and, against the will of the majority, not only of the workers but even of the British bourgeoisie, want a free hand to attack Soviet Russia again. That is their affair.

The longer this policy is pursued by certain influential circles in Great Britain, by financial and imperialist circles there, the more it will aggravate the financial situation, the longer it will delay the semi-agreement which has now become essential between bourgeois Britain and the Soviet Republic, and the nearer it will bring the imperialists to a situation that will oblige them to accept a full agreement, not merely a semi-agreement.

Comrades, I must say that this trade agreement with Great Britain is connected with one of the most important questions in our economic policy, that of concessions. One of the important acts passed by the Soviet government during the period under review is the law on concessions of November 23, this year. You are, of course, all familiar with the text of this law. You all know that we have now published additional material, from which delegates to the Congress of Soviets can obtain full information on this question. We have published a special pamphlet containing, not only the text of the decree but also a list of the chief concessions we are offering: agricultural, timber and mining. We have taken steps to make the published text of this decree available in the West-European countries as early as possible, and we hope that our concessions policy will also be a practical success. We do not in the least close our eyes to the dangers this policy presents to the Socialist Soviet Republic, a country that, moreover, is weak and backward. While our Soviet Republic remains the isolated borderland of the capitalist world, it would be absolutely ridiculous, fantastic and utopian to hope that we can achieve complete economic independence and that all dangers will vanish. Of course, as long as the radical contrasts remain, the dangers will also remain, and there is no escaping them. What we have to do is to get firmly on our feet in order to survive these dangers; we must be able to distinguish between big dangers and little dangers, and incur the lesser dangers rather than the greater.

We were recently informed that, at a Congress of Soviets of Arzamas Uyezd in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, a peasant, not a member of the Party, said on the subject of concessions: “Comrades, we are delegating you to the All-Russia Congress and declare that we peasants are prepared to endure hunger and cold and do our duty for another three years, but don’t sell Mother Russia in the form of concessions.” I heartily welcome such sentiments, which are very widespread. I think it is highly indicative that during these three years the masses of non-Party working people—not only industrial workers but peasants as well—have acquired the political and economic experience which enables and compels them to value their liberation from the capitalists above all else, which compels them to exercise redoubled caution and to treat with extreme suspicion every step that involves the possibility of new dangers of the restoration of capitalism. Of course, we give the greatest consideration to all declarations of this kind, but we must say that there is no question of selling out Russia to the capitalists. It is a question of concessions; any concessions agreement is limited to a definite period and by definite terms. It is hedged around with all possible guarantees, by guarantees that have been carefully considered and will be considered and discussed with you again and again, at the present Congress and at various other conferences. These temporary agreements have nothing to do with any selling out. There is not a hint in them of selling Russia. What they do represent is a certain economic concession to the capitalists, the purpose of which is to enable us, as soon as possible, to secure the necessary machinery and locomotives without which we cannot effect the restoration of our economy. We have no right to neglect anything that may, in however small a measure, help us to improve the conditions of the workers and peasants.

We must do all we possibly can to bring about the rapid restoration of trade relations, and negotiations are at present being carried on in a semi-legal framework. We are ordering locomotives and machines in far from adequate numbers, but we have begun to order them. When we conduct these negotiations officially, the possibilities will be vastly expanded. With the aid of industry we shall achieve a great deal, and in a shorter period; but even if the achievements are very great, the period will cover years, a number of years. It must be borne in mind that although we have now gained a military victory and have secured peace, history teaches us that no big question has ever been settled, and no revolution accomplished, without a series of wars. And we shall not forget this lesson. We have already taught a number of powerful countries not to wage war on us, but we cannot guarantee that this will be for long. The imperialist predators will attack us again if there is the slightest change in the situation. We must be prepared for it. Hence, the first thing is to restore the economy and place it firmly on its feet. Without equipment, without machinery obtained from capitalist countries, we cannot do this rapidly. And we should not grudge the capitalist a little extra profit if only we can effect this restoration. The workers and peasants must share the sentiments of those non-Party peasants who have declared that they are not afraid to face sacrifice and privation. Realising the danger of capitalist intervention, they do not regard concessions from a sentimental point of view, but as a continuation of the war, as the transfer of the ruthless struggle to another plane; they see in them the possibility of fresh attempts on the part of the bourgeoisie to restore the old capitalism. That is splendid; it is a guarantee that not only the organs of Soviet power but all the workers and peasants will make it their business to keep watch and ward over our interests. We are, therefore, confident that we shall be able to place the protection of our interests on such a basis that the restoration of the power of the capitalists will be totally out of the question even in carrying out the concessions agreements; we shall do everything to reduce the danger to a minimum, and make it less than the danger of war, so that it will be difficult to resume the war and easier for us to restore and develop our economy in a shorter period, in fewer years (and it is a matter of a good many years).

Comrades, economic tasks, the economic front, are again and again assuming prominence as the chief and fundamental factor. While studying the texts of the various laws on which I have to report to you, I saw that the vast majority of the measures and decisions of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Defence consist at present of specific, detailed and frequently minute measures connected with this economic activity. You, of course, do not expect me to give you a list of these measures. It would be extremely tedious and quite uninteresting. I should only like to remind you that this is by no means the first time that we are attaching primary importance to the labour front. Let us recall the resolution passed by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on April 29, 1918.[3] That was a time when Russia was economically dismembered by the Peace of Brest-Litovsk that was forced upon us, and when this extremely rapacious treaty had placed us in an extremely difficult position. It then appeared possible to count on a respite which would create conditions for the restoration of peaceful economic activities, and—although we now know that this respite was a very brief one—the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, in its resolution of April 29, at once focussed all attention on economic development. This resolution, which has not been rescinded and remains one of our laws, provides a proper perspective, enabling us to judge how we approached this task and to what we must now devote greater attention in the interests of our work and in order to complete it successfully.

An examination of this resolution clearly shows that many of the problems we now have to tackle were presented in a clear-cut, firm and sufficiently decisive way as far back as April 1918. Remembering this, we say that repetition is the mother of learning. We are not dismayed by our having to repeat the basic axioms of economic development. We shall repeat them time and again, but see what a difference there is between the declaration of abstract principles in 1918 and the practical economic work that has already been begun. Despite the tremendous difficulties and the constant interruptions in our work, we are approaching closer and closer lo a concrete and practical solution of our economic problems. We shall repeat things over and over again. In constructive work you cannot avoid a vast number of repetitions, or avoid turning back every now and again, testing what you have done, making certain corrections, adopting new methods, and bending every effort to convince the backward and the untrained.

The essential feature of the present political situation is that we are now passing through a crucial period of transition, something of a zigzag transition from war to economic development. This has occurred before, but not on such a wide scale. This should constantly remind us of what the general political tasks of the Soviet government are, and what constitutes the particular feature of this transition. The dictatorship of the proletariat has been successful because it has been able to combine compulsion with persuasion. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not fear any resort to compulsion and to the most severe, decisive and ruthless forms of coercion by the state. The advanced class, the class most oppressed by capitalism, is entitled to use compulsion, because it is doing so in the interests of the working and exploited people, and because it possesses means of compulsion and persuasion such as no former classes ever possessed, although they had incomparably greater material facilities for propaganda and agitation than we have.

If we ask ourselves what the results of our experience in these three years have been (for it is difficult, on certain fundamental points, to sum up the results of a single year), if we ask ourselves how, after all, our victory over an enemy much stronger than ourselves is to be explained, it must be said that it was because the organisation of the Red Army splendidly embodied the consistency and firmness of proletarian leadership in the alliance of the workers and the working peasantry against all exploiters. What was the reason? Why did the vast masses of the peasantry willingly consent to this? Because they were convinced, though their vast majority were not Party members, that there was no way of salvation except by supporting the Soviet government. It was, of course, not books that convinced them of this, nor was it propaganda. It was all through experience. They were convinced by the experience of the Civil War, in particular by the alliance between our Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, which is more closely akin to certain fundamental features of small-scale peasant economy. Their experience of the alliance between these parties of the small property-owners and the landowners and the capitalists, and their experience of Kolchak and Denikin, convinced the peasant masses that no middle course was possible, that the plain and straightforward Soviet policy was the right one, and that the iron leadership of the proletariat was their only means of salvation from exploitation and violence. It has been only because of our ability to convince the peasants of this that our policy of coercion, which is based on this firm and absolute conviction, has met with such tremendous success.

We must now bear in mind that, in going over to the labour front, we are faced with the same problem, under new conditions and on a much wider scale, that confronted us when we were fighting the whiteguards and witnessed a degree of enthusiasm and concentration of energy on the part of the worker and peasant masses such as has never been, and never could have been, displayed in any war in any other state. From their own observations and their knowledge of life, the non-Party peasants, like the Arzamas peasant whose words I have just quoted, did really come to the conclusion that the exploiters are ruthless enemies and that a ruthless state power is required to crush them. We succeeded in rousing unprecedented numbers of people to display an intelligent attitude towards the war, and to support it actively. Never before, under any political regime, has there been even one-tenth of the sympathy with a war and an understanding of it as that unanimously displayed by our Party and non Party workers and non-Party peasants (and the mass of the peasants are non-Party) under Soviet power. That is the main reason for our having ultimately defeated a powerful enemy. That is corroboration of one of the most profound and at the same time most simple and comprehensible precepts of Marxism. The greater the scope and extent of historical events, the greater is the number of people participating in them, and, contrariwise, the more profound the change we wish to bring about, the more must we rouse an interest and an intelligent attitude towards it, and convince more millions and tens of millions of people that it is necessary. In the final analysis, the reason our revolution has left all other revolutions far behind is that, through the Soviet form of government, it has aroused tens of millions of people, formerly uninterested in state development, to take an active part in the work of building up the state. Let us now consider, from this aspect, the new tasks which confronted us and were expressed in tens and hundreds of decisions passed by the Soviet government during this period; they accounted for nine-tenths of the work of the Council of Labour and Defence (we shall speak of this later), and probably more than half of the work of the Council of People’s Commissars, namely, the economic tasks, the elaboration of a single economic plan, the reorganisation of the very foundations of the economy of Russia, the very foundations of small-scale peasant economy. These tasks require that all members of trade unions, without exception, should be drawn into this absolutely new work, something that was alien to them under capitalism. Now ask yourselves whether we at present have the condition for the rapid and unequivocal success that we had during the war, the condition of the masses being drawn into the work. Are the members of the trade unions and the majority of the non-Party people convinced that our new methods and our great tasks of economic development are necessary? Are they as convinced of this as they were of the necessity of devoting everything to the war, of sacrificing everything for the sake of victory on the war front? If the question is presented in that way, you will be compelled to answer that they are certainly not. They are far from being as fully convinced of this as they should be.

War was a matter which people understood and were used to for hundreds and thousands of years. The acts of violence and brutality formerly committed by the landowners were so obvious that it was easy to convince the people; it was not difficult to convince even the peasants of the richer grain regions, who are least connected with industry, that we were waging war in the interests of the working people, and it was therefore possible to arouse almost universal enthusiasm. It will be more difficult to get the peasant masses and the members of the trade unions to understand these tasks now, to get them to understand that we cannot go on living in the old way, that however firmly capitalist exploitation has been implanted in the course of decades, it must be overcome. We must get everybody to understand that Russia belongs to us, and that only we, the masses of workers and peasants, can by our activities and our strict labour discipline remould the old economic conditions of existence and put a great economic plan into practice. There can be no salvation apart from this. We are lagging behind the capitalist powers and shall continue to lag behind them; we shall be defeated if we do not succeed in restoring our economy. That is why we must repeat the old truths I have just reminded you of, the old truths regarding the importance of organisational problems, of labour discipline, regarding the immense role of the trade unions—an absolutely exclusive role in this sphere, because there is no other organisation which unites the broad masses; that is why we must not only repeat these old truths, but must with every fibre of our being realise that the transition from military tasks to economic tasks has begun.

We have been completely successful in the military sphere, and we must now prepare to achieve similar successes in tasks which are more difficult and which demand enthusiasm and self-sacrifice from the vast majority of workers and peasants. The conviction that the new tasks are necessary must be instilled in hundreds of millions of people who from generation to generation have lived in a state of slavery and oppression and whose every initiative has been suppressed. We must convince the millions of workers who belong to trade unions but who are still not politically conscious and are unaccustomed to regarding themselves as masters. They must be organised, not to resist the government but to support and develop the measures of their workers’ government and to carry them out to the full. This transition will be accompanied by difficulties. Regarded merely as a formulation, it is not a new task; it is a new task insofar as the economic problem is being raised on such a vast scale for the first time; we must realise and remember that the war on the economic front will be more difficult and prolonged. To achieve success on this front, a larger number of workers and peasants must be educated to be self-reliant, active and devoted. This can be done, as is borne out by the experience we have gained in economic development, because the masses fully realise that the misfortunes, cold, hunger and privation have been caused by the inadequacy of our productive forces. We must now transfer all our agitation and propaganda from political and military interests to economic development. We have proclaimed this many times, but insufficiently; it seems to me that the most outstanding measures adopted by the Soviet government during the past year are the creation of the Central Bureau for Production Propaganda of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions,[4] the amalgamation of its work with that of the Chief Committee for Political Education, and the publication of additional newspapers for the respective industries, which are to devote attention, not only to production propaganda but also to its organisation on a country-wide scale.

The necessity of organising production propaganda on a nation-wide scale follows from the special features of the political situation. It is equally necessary to the working class, the trade unions, and the peasantry. It is absolutely essential to our state apparatus, which we have used far from enough for this purpose. We have a thousand times more knowledge, book knowledge, of how to run industry and how to interest the masses than is being applied in practice. We must see to it that literally every member of the trade unions becomes interested in production, and remembers that only by increasing production and raising labour productivity will Soviet Russia be in a state to win. Only in this way will Soviet Russia be able to shorten by about ten years the period of the frightful conditions she is now experiencing, the hunger and cold she is now suffering. If we do not understand this task, we may all perish, because we shall have to retreat owing to the weakness of our apparatus, since, after a short respite, the capitalists may at any moment renew the war, while we shall not be in a state to continue it. We shall not be able to bring the pressure of the millions of our masses to bear, and in this last war we shall be smashed. That is how the matter stands. Hitherto, the fate of all revolutions, of all great revolutions, has been decided by a long series of wars. Our revolution too is such a great revolution. We have passed through one period of wars, and we must prepare for another. We do not know when it will come, but we must see to it that when it does come we shall be prepared for all contingencies. That is why we must not give up measures of compulsion, and not merely because we are preserving the dictatorship of the proletariat, which the mass of peasants and non-Party workers already understand. They know all about our dictatorship, and it holds out no terrors to them. It does not frighten them. They regard it as a bulwark and a stronghold, that is, something with which they can resist the landowners and capitalists, and without which victory is impossible.

This realisation, this conviction, which has already become deep-rooted among the peasant masses as far as military and political tasks are concerned, must now be extended to economic problems. We may not, perhaps, succeed in bringing about this transition at once. It may, possibly, not be effected without certain vacillations and reversions to the old flabbiness and petty-bourgeois ideology. We must tackle this work with still greater energy and zeal, remembering that we can convince the non-Party peasants and insufficiently class-conscious trade union members, because the truth is on our side, and because it cannot be denied that in the second period of wars we shall not be able to defeat our enemies unless the country’s economy is restored. Let us only see to it that the millions take a more enlightened attitude towards the war on the economic front. This is the task of the Central Bureau of Production Propaganda, the task of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, the task of all Party workers, the task of all the departments of the Soviet government, the task of all our propaganda, with the help of which we have secured successes of world wide significance, because our propaganda throughout the world has always told the workers and peasants the truth, while all other propaganda tells them lies. We must now switch our propaganda over to something which is far more difficult and concerns the everyday work of the workers in the factory shop, no matter how difficult the conditions of this work may be, and no matter how strong the memories of the old capitalist system may be, which taught the workers and peasants to mistrust governments. We must convince both workers and peasants that, without a new combination of forces, new forms of state amalgamation, and the new forms associated with compulsion, we shall not cope with our difficulties, and we shall not escape the abyss of economic collapse on the brink of which we are standing—and we have already begun to cope with the situation.

Comrades, I shall now deal with certain facts of our economic policy and the economic problems which seem to me to be characteristic of the present political situation and of the transition now confronting us. I must first mention our agrarian bill, the bill of the Council of People’s Commissars for the consolidation and development of agricultural production and for assistance to peasant farms. This bill was published on December 14 of this year, and before that date the substance and principles of it were communicated to all local officials by wireless.

Arrangements should at once be made to have this bill thoroughly discussed—in the light of local experience (on which it is actually based), and this is being done in the localities—by the Congress and also by the representatives of the local Executive Committees and the departments of the latter. I think that no comrade now doubts the necessity of specific and very energetic measures of assistance—not only in the form of encouragement but also in the form of compulsion—to improve our agricultural production.

Our country has been and still is a country of small peasants, and the transition to communism is far more difficult for us than it would be under any other conditions. To accomplish this transition, the peasants’ participation in it must be ten times as much as in the war. The war could demand, and was bound to demand, part of the adult male population. However, our country, a land of peasants which is still in a state of exhaustion, has to mobilise the entire male and female population of workers and peasants without exception. It is not difficult to convince us Communists, workers in the Land Departments, that state labour conscription is necessary. In the discussion of the bill of December 14, which has been submitted for your consideration, I hope that on this point there will not be even a shadow of difference in principle. We must realise that there is another difficulty, that of convincing the non-Party peasants. The peasants are not socialists. To base our socialist plans on the assumption that they are would be building on sand; it would mean that we do not understand our tasks and that, during these three years, we have not learnt to adjust our programmes and carry out our new undertakings with due account of the poverty and often squalor that surround us. We must have a clear picture of the problems that face us. The first task is to unite the Communists working in the Land Departments, draw general conclusions from their experience, grasp what has been done in the localities, and embody it in the legislative acts which will be promulgated at the centre, by government departments, and by the All-Russia Congress of Soviets. We hope that we shall be able to do that. However, that is only the first step. The second step is to convince the non-Party peasants, yes, the non-Party peasants, because they form the majority and because what we are in a position to do can be done only by making this mass, which is in itself active and full of initiative, realise to a greater degree that the task must be tackled. Peasant farming cannot continue in the old way. While we were able to extricate ourselves from the first period of wars, we shall not extricate ourselves so easily from the second period, and must therefore pay special attention to this aspect.

Every non-Party peasant must be made to understand this undoubted truth, and we are sure that he will understand it. He has not lived through these last six painful and difficult years in vain. He is not like the pre-war muzhik. He has suffered severely, has done a lot of thinking, and has borne many political and economic hardships that have induced him to give up a good deal of their old habits. It seems to me that he already realises that he cannot live in the old way, that he must live in a different way. All our means of propaganda, all the resources of the state, all our educational facilities and all our Party resources and reserves must be devoted in full force to convincing the non-Party peasant. Only then will our agrarian bill—which I hope you will adopt unanimously, with necessary amendments and addenda, of course—be placed on a sound basis. Only when we convince the majority of the peasants and draw them into this work will this measure become just as firm as our policy is. That is because—as Comrade Kurayev has rightly said in an article based on the experience of the Tatar Republic—the working middle peasant and poor peasant are friends of the Soviet government, while the idlers are its enemies. That is the real truth, a truth in which there is nothing socialist, but which is so indisputable and obvious that any village assembly and any meeting of non-Party peasants will understand it, and it will become the conviction of the overwhelming majority of the working peasants.

Comrades, here is what I particularly want to bring home to you now that we have turned from the phase of war to economic development. In a country of small peasants, our chief and basic task is to be able to resort to state compulsion in order to raise the level of peasant farming, beginning with measures that are absolutely essential, urgent and fully intelligible and comprehensible to the peasant. We shall be able to achieve this only when we are able to convince more millions of people who are not yet ready for it. We must devote all our forces to this and see to it that the apparatus of compulsion, activated and reinforced, shall be adapted and developed for a new drive of persuasion. Another campaign in the war will then end in victory. We are now declaring war on the relics of inertness, ignorance and mistrust that prevail among the peasant masses. We shall achieve nothing by the old methods, but we shall achieve victory by the methods of propaganda, agitation and organised influence which we have learnt. We shall also see to it that, besides decrees being adopted, institutions created and documents written—it is not enough to send orders flying all over the country—all the fields are sown better than before by the spring, and a definite improvement is achieved in small peasant farming. Let it be even the most elementary improvement—the more cautious we are the better—but it must be achieved at all costs and on a mass scale. If we correctly understand the task that faces us, and if we devote our whole attention to the non-Party peasant, and concentrate on this all the skill and experience we have gained during these three years, we shall succeed. And unless we succeed, unless we achieve a practical and massive improvement in small-scale peasant farming, there is no salvation for us. Unless this basis is created, no economic development will be possible and the most ambitious plans will be valueless. The comrades must remember this and must bring it home to the peasants. They must tell the non-Party peasants of Arzamas—and there are about ten or fifteen million of them—that we cannot go on starving and freezing endlessly, for then we shall be overthrown in the next period of wars. This is a state matter; it concerns the interests of our state. Whoever reveals the least weakness, the least slackness in this matter, is an out-and-out criminal towards the workers’ and peasants’ government; he is helping the landowner and the capitalist. And the landowner and the capitalist have their armies nearby, holding them in readiness to launch against us the instant they see us weakening. There is no way to strengthen ourselves otherwise than by building up our main bulwark—agriculture and urban industry. These cannot be improved except by convincing the non-Party peasant of the need to do so, by mobilising all our forces to help him, and by actually helping him in practice.

We admit that we are in debt to the peasant. We have had grain from him in return for paper money, and have taken it from him on credit. We must repay that debt, and we shall do so when we have restored our industry. To restore it we need a surplus of agricultural products. That is why the agrarian bill is important, not only because we must secure practical results, but also because around it, as on a focal point, are grouped hundreds of decisions and legislative measures of the Soviet government.

I now pass on to the question of how the basis for our industrial development is being created to enable us to begin restoring Russia’s economic forces. In this connection I must first draw your attention—from among the mass of reports which you have received or will receive in the next few days from all the Commissariats—to a passage in the report of our Commissariat of Food. In the next few days each Commissariat will present you with a profusion of figures and reports, which taken together are overwhelming in their abundance. We must extract from them what is most essential to success, however modest it may be, and what is fundamental for the realisation of our economic plan, for the restoration of our economy and our industry. One of these essentials is the state of our food procurements. In the booklet which has been distributed to you—the report of the Commissariat of Food for three years—you will find a table from which I shall read only the totals, and even those in round figures, because reading figures, and particularly listening to figures, is a difficult matter. These are the figures showing the total procurements for each year. From August 1, 1916 to August 1, 1917, 320,000,000 poods were procured; 50,000,000 were procured in the following year, then 100,000,000 and then 200,000,000 poods. These figures—320, 50, 100 and 200—give you the basis of the economic history of Soviet government, of the work of the Soviet government in the economic field, the preparations for that foundation which, when laid down, will enable us to really start developing. The pre-revolutionary 320,000,000 poods is the approximate minimum without which development is impossible. In the first year of the revolution, with only 50,000,000 poods, there was starvation, cold and poverty. In the second year we had 100,000,000 poods; in the third year, 200,000,000 poods. The total has doubled with each year. According to figures I received yesterday from Svidersky, we had 155,000,000 poods on December 15. We are beginning to stand on our feet for the first time, but with the utmost efforts, with unparalleled difficulties, very often having to accomplish the task without any supplies from Siberia, the Caucasus and the South. At present, with a procurement of over 150,000,000 poods, we can say without any exaggeration that despite the tremendous difficulties, this task has been accomplished. We shall have a total of about 300,000,000 poods, perhaps more. Without such a supply, however, it will be impossible to restore the country’s industry; it will be hopeless to expect the revival of the transport system and it will be impossible even to approach the great task of electrifying Russia. There can be no socialist country, no state with a workers’ and peasants’ government unless, by the joint efforts of the workers and peasants, it can accumulate a stock of food sufficient to guarantee the subsistence of the workers engaged in industry and to make it possible to send tens and hundreds of thousands of workers wherever the Soviet government deems it necessary. Without this there can be nothing but empty talk. Food stocks are the real basis of the economic system. In this we have achieved a signal success. Having achieved this success and with such a reserve, we can set about restoring our economy. We know that these successes have been achieved at the cost of tremendous privation, hunger and lack of cattle fodder among the peasants, which may become still more acute. We know that the year of drought increased the hardships and privations of the peasants to an unparalleled extent. We therefore lay prime stress on the measures of assistance contained in the bill I have referred to. We regard stocks of food as a fund for the restoration of industry, as a fund for helping the peasants. Without such a fund the state power is nothing. Without such a fund socialist policy is but a pious wish.

We must remember that the production propaganda which we have firmly decided to launch will be supplemented with a different kind of persuasion, namely, bonuses in kind.[5] The law on bonuses in kind has been one of the most important decrees and decisions of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Defence. We were not able to pass this law immediately. If you examine the matter, you will find that ever since April there has been a long chain of decisions and resolutions, and that this law was passed only when, as the result of strenuous efforts on the part of our transport system, we were able to accumulate a food reserve of 500,000 poods. Five hundred thousand poods is a very modest figure. The reports which you no doubt read in Izvestia yesterday show that out of these 500,000 poods 170,000 poods have already been expended. As you see the reserve is nothing to boast of, and is far from adequate; nevertheless, we have entered on a road along which we shall advance. It is proof that we are not relying on persuasion alone in the transition to new methods of work. It is not enough to tell the peasants and the workers to maintain the utmost labour discipline. We must also help them; we must reward those who, after suffering tremendous hardships, continue to display heroism on the labour front. We have already created a reserve fund, but it is being utilised in a way that is far from satisfactory. We in the Council of People’s Commissars have numerous indications that in practice a bonus in kind often amounts simply to an increase in wages. A good deal still remains to be done in this respect. The work of conferences and of drafting supplementary schemes at the centre must be coupled with very important work of another kind, namely, on the spot and among the masses. When the state not only persuades, but also rewards good workers by creating better living conditions for them, that is something that is not hard to understand; one does not have to be a socialist to understand it, and here we are assured in advance of the sympathy of the non-Party masses of workers and peasants. We have only to make this idea much more widely known and to organise this work in a more practical way in the localities.

Now with regard to fuel; you will find in Comrade Rykov’s theses figures that show the improvement that has been achieved, not only in firewood, but also in oil supplies. Thanks to the great zeal displayed by the workers in the Azerbaijan Republic, the friendly relations we have established with them and the capable managers provided by the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the oil situation is now favourable, so that we are beginning to stand on our own feet in the matter of fuel as well. Coal deliveries from the Donets Basin are being increased from 25,000,000 poods to 50,000,000 poods per month, thanks to the work of the authorised commission which was sent there under the chairmanship of Comrade Trotsky. This commission has decided to send responsible and experienced men to the Donets Basin, and Comrade Pyatakov has now been sent there to take charge.

Thus, to achieve success, we have adopted certain measures with regard to fuel. The Donets Basin, one of the largest sources, is already under our control. In the minutes of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Defence, decisions may be found relating to the Donets Basin. These make reference to the dispatch of commissions invested with considerable powers and consisting of representatives of the central government and of local officials. We must stimulate work in the localities, and it appears to me that we can do so with the help of these commissions. You will see the results of the work of these commissions, which we shall continue to set up in the future. We must give a definite boost to fuel production, the principal branch of our industry.

I must say that, in the matter of fuel, the hydraulic method of extracting peat is a great achievement. Peat is a fuel we possess in very large quantities, but which we have been unable to utilise till now because of the deplorable working conditions. This new method will enable us to overcome the fuel shortage, which presents one of the greatest dangers on our economic front. We shall not be able to get out of this impasse for many years to come, if we stick to the old methods and do not restore our industry and transport. The members of our Peat Committee have helped two Russian engineers to perfect this new invention, with the result that the new method is on the verge of completion. We are thus on the eve of a great revolution, which will be an important aid to us economically. It must not be forgotten that we possess vast deposits of peat, which we cannot utilise because we cannot send people to do such back-breaking work. The capitalist system could send people to work under such harsh conditions. In the capitalist state people were driven to work there by hunger, but in the socialist state we cannot consign people to such intolerable work, and nobody will go there voluntarily. The capitalist system did everything for the upper crust. It was not concerned with the lower classes.

We must introduce more machines everywhere, and resort to machine technology as widely as possible. The extraction of peat by the hydraulic method, which has been so successfully promoted by the Supreme Council of the National Economy, makes it possible to extract fuel in vast quantities and eliminates the need for skilled workers, since even unskilled workers can perform the work under this method. We have produced these machines; I would advise the delegates to see the cinema film on peat extraction which has been shown in Moscow and which can be demonstrated for the Congress delegates. It will give you a definite idea of one of the means for coping with the fuel shortage. We have made the machines required for the new method, but we have made them badly. If we send our people abroad, with the establishment of trade with foreign countries, with even the existing semi-legal trade relations, the machines designed by our inventors could be made properly there. The number of these machines and the success gained in this field by the Chief Peat Committee and the Supreme Council of the National Economy will serve as a measure of all our economic achievements. Unless we overcome the fuel shortage, it will be impossible to win on the economic front. Vital success in restoring the transport system will also depend on this.

Incidentally, you have already seen from the theses of Comrades Yemshanov and Trotsky that in this field we have a real plan worked out for a number of years. Order No. 1042 was designed for a period of five years[6] in five years we can restore our transport and reduce the number of broken-down locomotives. I should like to stress as probably the most difficult problem the statement made in the ninth thesis, to the effect that this period has already been reduced.

When extensive plans appear, designed for a number of years, sceptics are frequently to be found who say: how can we plan for a number of years ahead? The best we can hope for is to do what is required at the moment. Comrades, we must be able to combine the two things; we cannot work without a long-term plan that envisages important achievements. The truth of this is borne out by the undoubted improvement in the work of the transport system. I draw your attention to the passage in the ninth thesis which says that the period for the restoration of transport was fixed at five years, but it has already been reduced because we are ahead of the schedule. The period is now being fixed at three and a half years. That is the way to work in the other branches of economic activity too. The real and practical task of the Council of Labour and Defence is being steadily reduced to that. We must avail ourselves of the progress of science and practice, and must steadfastly strive to get the plan fulfilled in the localities ahead of schedule, so that the masses will see that the long period separating us from the complete restoration of industry can be reduced in practice. It depends on us. Let us improve our methods in every workshop, in every railway depot, in every sphere, and we shall shorten this period. It is already being reduced. Do not be afraid of long-term plans, for without them you cannot achieve an economic revival; let us devote all our energies in the localities to their fulfilment.

Economic plans must be carried out in accordance with a definite programme, and the increasing fulfilment of this programme must be noted and encouraged. The masses must not only realise, but also feel that the shortening of the period of hunger, cold and poverty depends entirely upon how quickly they fulfil our economic plans. The plans of the various branches of production must be soundly co-ordinated, and linked up so as to constitute the single economic plan we stand in such great need of.

In this connection, we are confronted with the task of unifying the People’s Commissariats for the various branches of the economy under a single economic centre. We have begun to tackle this task and we are submitting for your consideration a decision of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence regarding the reorganisation of the latter body.

You will examine this project, and I trust that with the necessary amendments it will be adopted unanimously. Its contents are very modest but its significance is great, because we need a body which definitely knows what its position is and unites all economic work; it is on economic work that the chief stress is now being laid.

This has been dealt with in the literature which appeared before and in connection with the Congress, in a pamphlet by Comrade Gusev, which, incidentally, is not as well written as his earlier one. The pamphlet contains a sweeping plan for the organisation of the Council of Labour and Defence, to which it is proposed to transfer many prominent workers, among whom we find the names of Trotsky and Rykov. I would say that we need somewhat fewer flights of fancy like this. We cannot burst out of an apparatus which it has taken three years to build up. We realise its immense shortcomings, of which we shall speak in detail at this Congress. This question has been placed on the agenda; it is one of the most important questions. I am referring to the question of improving the Soviet apparatus. But we must at present act with circumspection, confine ourselves to what is essential, and change our apparatus on the basis of practical experience. Comrade Gusev has derided the project we have submitted and says that we are proposing to add the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture to the Council of Labour and Defence. Quite right, we are proposing such a project. In it we assign a very modest place to the Council of Labour and Defence, making it a Commission of Labour and Defence under the Council of People’s Commissars. Until now we have been working in the Council of Labour and Defence without any constitution. The powers of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence have been poorly defined; we have sometimes exceeded these powers and acted as a legislative body. But there has never been any conflict on these grounds. Such cases have been settled by immediately referring them to the Council of People’s Commissars. When it became apparent that the Council of Labour and Defence must be converted into a body for the closer co-ordination of economic policy, the question arose how to give legal definition to these relations. There are two plans before us. One of them calls for the demarcation of the competence of the Council of People’s Commissars and that of the Council of Labour and Defence. To do this, numerous codifiers must be engaged and reams of paper used, and even then there will be no guarantee that mistakes will not be made.

Let us set about it in a different way. The Council of Labour and Defence has been regarded as something almost equal to the Council of People’s Commissars. Let us abandon that idea. Let it be a commission of the Council of People’s Commissars. We shall avoid a great deal of friction and shall achieve more rapid practical realisation. If any member of the Council of People’s Commissars is dissatisfied, let him bring his complaint before the Council of People’s Commissars; it can be summoned in a few hours, as you know. In this way we shall avoid friction between departments and will make the Council of Labour and Defence a rapidly acting body. That is no easy problem. It is bound up with the actual creation of a single economic plan. The problem, for the solution of which we have done something and for which we have been preparing for two years, is to achieve the unification of the Commissariats for the various branches of the economy. That is why I draw your attention to this bill on the Council of Labour and Defence, and I hope that, with the necessary amendments, you will endorse it. The work of uniting these Commissariats will then proceed more smoothly, rapidly, firmly and energetically.

I now come to the last item—the question of electrification, which stands on the agenda of the Congress. You are to hear a report on this subject. I think that we are witnessing a momentous change, one which in any case marks the beginning of important successes for the Soviets. Henceforth the rostrum at All-Russia Congresses will be mounted, not only by politicians and administrators but also by engineers and agronomists. This marks the beginning of that very happy time when politics will recede into the background, when politics will be discussed less often and at shorter length, and engineers and agronomists will do most of the talking. To really proceed with the work of economic development, this custom must be initiated at the All-Russia Congress of Soviets and in all Soviets and organisations, newspapers, organs of propaganda and agitation, and all institutions, from top to bottom.

We have, no doubt, learnt politics; here we stand as firm as a rock. But things are bad as far as economic matters are concerned. Henceforth, less politics will be the best politics. Bring more engineers and agronomists to the fore, learn from them, keep an eye on their work, and turn our congresses and conferences, not into propaganda meetings but into bodies that will verify our economic achievements, bodies in which we can really learn the business of economic development.

You will hear the report of the State Electrification Commission, which was set up in conformity with the decision of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of February 7, 1920. On February 21, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy signed the final ordinance determining the composition of the commission, and a number of leading experts and workers, mainly from the Supreme Council of the National Economy, over a hundred of them, and also from the People’s Commissariat of Railways and the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture, are devoting their entire energy to this work. We have before us the results of the work of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia in the shape of this small volume which will be distributed to you today or tomorrow.[7] I trust you will not be scared by this little volume. I think I shall have no difficulty in convincing you of the particular importance of this book. In my opinion it is the second programme of our Party. We have a Party programme which has been excellently explained by Comrades Preobrazhensky and Bukharin in the form of a book which is less voluminous, but extremely useful. That is the political programme; it is an enumeration of our objectives, an explanation of the relations between classes and masses. It must, however, also be realised that the time has come to take this road in actual fact and to measure the practical results achieved. Our Party programme must not remain solely a programme of the Party. It must become a programme of our economic development, or otherwise it will be valueless even as a programme of the Party. It must be supplemented with a second Party programme, a plan of work aimed at restoring our entire economy and raising it to the level of up-to-date technical development. Without a plan of electrification, we cannot undertake any real constructive work. When we discuss the restoration of agriculture, industry and transport, and their harmonious co-ordination, we are obliged to discuss a broad economic plan. We must adopt a definite plan. of course, it will be a plan adopted as a first approximation. This Party programme will not be as invariable as our real Party programme is, which can be modified by Party congresses alone. No, day by day this programme will be improved, elaborated, perfected and modified, in every workshop and in every volost. We need it as a first draft, which will be submitted to the whole of Russia as a great economic plan designed for a period of not less than ten years and indicating how Russia is to be placed on the real economic basis required for communism. What was one of the most powerful incentives that multiplied our strength and our energies to a tremendous degree when we fought and won on the war front? It was the realisation of danger. Everybody asked whether it was possible that the landowners and capitalists might return to Russia. And the reply was that it was. We therefore multiplied our efforts a hundredfold, and we were victorious.

Take the economic front, and ask whether capitalism can be restored economically in Russia. We have combated the Sukharevka black market. The other day, just prior to the opening of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, this not very pleasant institution was closed down by the Moscow Soviet of Workers’ and Red Army Deputies. (Applause.) The Sukharevka black market has been closed but it is not that market that is so sinister. The old Sukharevka market on Sukharevskaya Square has been closed down, an act that presented no difficulty. The sinister thing is the “Sukharevka” that resides in the heart and behaviour of every petty proprietor. This is the “Sukharevka” that must be closed down. That “Sukharevka” is the basis of capitalism. While it exists, the capitalists may return to Russia and may grow stronger than we are. That must be clearly realised. It must serve as the mainspring of our work and as a condition and yardstick of our real success. While we live in a small-peasant country, there is a firmer economic basis for capitalism in Russia than for communism. That must be borne in mind. Anyone who has carefully observed life in the countryside, as compared with life in the cities, knows that we have not torn up the roots of capitalism and have not undermined the foundation, the basis, of the internal enemy. The latter depends on small-scale production, and there is only one way of undermining it, namely, to place the economy of the country, including agriculture, on a new technical basis, that of modern large-scale production. Only electricity provides that basis.

Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country. Otherwise the country will remain a small-peasant country, and we must clearly realise that. We are weaker than capitalism, not only on the world scale, but also within the country. That is common knowledge. We have realised it, and we shall see to it that the economic basis is transformed from a small-peasant basis into a large-scale industrial basis. Only when the country has been electrified, and industry, agriculture and transport have been placed on the technical basis of modern large-scale industry, only then shall we be fully victorious.

We have already drawn up a preliminary plan for the electrification of the country; two hundred of our best scientific and technical men have worked on it. We have a plan which gives us estimates of materials and finances covering a long period of years, not less than a decade. This plan indicates how many million barrels of cement and how many million bricks we shall require for the purpose of electrification. To accomplish the task of electrification from the financial point of view, the estimates are between 1,000 and 1,200 million gold rubles. You know that we are far from being able to meet this sum from our gold reserves. Our stock of foodstuffs is not very large either. We must therefore meet the expenditure indicated in these estimates by means of concessions, in accordance with the plan I have mentioned. You will see the calculation showing how the restoration of our industry and our transport is being planned on this basis.

I recently had occasion to attend a peasant festival held in Volokolamsk Uyezd, a remote part of Moscow Gubernia, where the peasants have electric lighting.[8] A meeting was arranged in the street, and one of the peasants came forward and began to make a speech welcoming this new event in the lives of the peasants. “We peasants were unenlightened,” he said, “and now light has appeared among us, an ’unnatural light, which will light up our peasant darkness’.” For my part, these words did not surprise me. Of course, to the non-Party peasant masses electric light is an “unnatural” light; but what we consider unnatural is that the peasants and workers should have lived for hundreds and thousands of years in such backwardness, poverty and oppression under the yoke of the landowners and the capitalists. You cannot emerge from this darkness very rapidly. What we must now try is to convert every electric power station we build into a stronghold of enlightenment to be used to make the masses electricity-conscious, so to speak. All should be made aware of the reason why these small electric power stations, whose numbers run into the dozens, are linked up with the restoration of industry. We have an established plan of electrification, but the fulfilment of this plan is designed to cover a number of years. We must fulfil this plan at all costs, and the period of its fulfilment must be reduced. Here we must have the same thing as was the case with one of our first economic plans, the plan for the restoration of transport—Order No. 1042—which was designed to cover a period of five years, but has now been reduced to three and a half years because we are ahead of the schedule. To carry out the electrification plan we may need a period of ten or twenty years to effect the changes that will preclude any return to capitalism. This will be an example of rapid social development without precedent anywhere in the world. The plan must be carried out at all costs, and its deadline brought nearer.

This is the first time that we have set about economic work in such a fashion that, besides separate plans which have arisen in separate sections of industry as, for instance, in the transport system and have been brought into other branches of industry, we now have an all-over plan calculated for a number of years. This is hard work, designed to bring about the victory of communism.

It should, however, be realised and remembered that we cannot carry out electrification with the illiterates we have. Our commission will endeavour to stamp out illiteracy—but that is not enough. It has done a good deal compared with the past, but it has done little compared with what has to be done. Besides literacy, we need cultured, enlightened and educated working people; the majority of the peasants must be made fully aware of the tasks awaiting us. This programme of the Party must be a basic book to be used in every school. You will find in it, in addition to the general plan of electrification, separate plans for every district of Russia. Thus every comrade who goes to the provinces will have a definite scheme of electrification for his district, a scheme for transition from darkness and ignorance to a normal life. And, comrades, you can and must compare the theses you have been presented with, elaborate and check them on the spot; you must see to it that when the question “What is communism?” is asked in any school and in any study circle, the answer should contain not only what is written in the Party programme but should also say how we can emerge from the state of ignorance.

Our best men, our economic experts, have accomplished the task we set them of drawing up a plan for the electrification of Russia and the restoration of her economy. We must now see to it that the workers and peasants should realise how great and difficult this task is, how it must be approached and tackled.

We must see to it that every factory and every electric power station becomes a centre of enlightenment; if Russia is covered with a dense network of electric power stations and powerful technical installations, our communist economic development will become a model for a future socialist Europe and Asia. (Stormy and prolonged applause.)


[1] On August 10, 1920, the French Government officially recognised Wrangel as the ruler of South Russia.

[2] This agreement, which established friendly relations between the R.S.F.S.R. and Persia was signed in Moscow on February 26, 1921, despite opposition from British ruling circles. It was based on the principles of peaceful coexistence and co-operation, equality, respect for the sovereignty of the two-countries, non-interference in internal affairs, and mutual advantage. All the treaties concluded by tsarist Russia with Persia and third parties which infringed on the sovereignty of the Persian people were revoked. Persia got back all the concessions of the tsarist government on her territory. The Soviet Government renounced claims to the loans granted to Persia by the tsarist government. Especially important were the articles pledging both parties to preclude the formation or the existence on their respective territories of organisations or groups with aims subversive to Russia or Persia. This was the first equal treaty in the history of Persia.

[3] See present edition, Vol. 27, pp. 314-17.

[4] The All-Russia Bureau for Production Propaganda of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions was set up by a decision of the C.C. R.C.P.(B.) on December 8, 1920. It consisted of representatives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the Chief Committee for Political Education, the Central Board for Vocational Training, and the Commissariat of Agriculture. On January 21, 1921, the Organising Bureau of the Party’s Central Committee approved the statute of the bureau which defined the aims and tasks of central and local bodies in charge of production propaganda and their structure. The bureau was instructed to work out a general plan of propaganda, and direct and supervise various organs and bodies in carrying out their production propaganda.

[5] The decree of the Council of People’s Commissars on “Provisional Rules on Bonuses in Kind” was published on October 23, 1920.

[6] Order No. 1042 was issued by the Chief Department of Railways on May 22, 1920. It dealt with the repair of locomotives damaged during the First World War and the Civil War. Railway depots were ordered to lower the percentage of locomotives under repair from 60 to 20 per cent in four and a half years, beginning from July 1, 1920.

[7] The first session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the seventh convocation held on February 2-7, 1920, instructed the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy and the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture to work out a plan for the construction of a network of power stations. On February 21, 1920, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, by agreement with the People’s Commissariat of Agriculture, appointed a State Commission for the Electrification of Russia. The Commission began its work on March 20 and by the time the Eighth Congress of Soviets met it had compiled an over-all plan for the electrification of the R.S.F.S.R. The State Commission was set up on Lenin’s initiative and in keeping with his directives.

[8] On November 14, 1920, Lenin attended the ceremony of the opening of an electric power station in the village of Kashino, Yaropolets Volost, Volokolamsk Uyezd, where he had been invited by the local peasants. Lenin spoke to the latter and then gave an address on the importance of electrification for the national economy.