V. I. Lenin

Speech Delivered at a

Non-Party Conference in Blagusha-Lefortovo District

February 9, 1920

Newspaper Report

Delivered: 9 February, 1920
First Published: Pravda No. 32, February 13, 1920; Published according to the Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 30, pages 349-351
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

In his speech Lenin dealt with two burning questions of present-day Soviet life—the international situation and the labour front.

“By its victories,” Lenin said, “our Red Army has consol-idated the position of Soviet Russia and has secured for us the first victory over the Entente imperialists. How is this victory to be explained? It is clear that it was not achieved by the victories at the front alone, but by our having won over the soldiers of the countries warring against us. The Allies corrupted their own armies by landing troops in our country and were soon forced to withdraw them. The sol-diers refused to fight us. The very expression’Soviet gov-ernment,’ that is, a government of the working people, brings joy to the hearts of the proletarians all over the world.

“By means of agitation and propaganda, we deprived the Entente of its own troops. We defeated the imperialists not only with the aid of our soldiers, but also by relying on the sympathy the Entente soldiers felt for us. On the other hand, we gave a practical demonstration to the small neighbouring states that our policy is a peaceful one. Britain, through its mouthpiece, Churchill, threatened to send fourteen states against us; but this campaign collapsed when concurrently with our victories, we kept making proposals for peace. We proposed peace to Estonia without insisting on any particular frontiers, knowing only that we did not want to shed the blood of workers and peasants for the sake of any frontiers.

“The removal of the blockade is exclusively to be attrib-uted to the sympathy which Soviet power inspires among the workers of the hostile countries. In Italy, matters have gone so far that a congress of socialist parties has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding the raising of the blockade of Soviet Russia and the resumption of trade relations. Although they do not love the Bolsheviks, the bourgeois gov-ernments of the small countries have become convinced that the Bolsheviks want to live on good-neighbourly terms with them, whereas those on whose side General Denikin or any other general is, would tear up all the scraps of paper prom-ising independence to the small nations immediately after gaining victory. Without a single gun, without a single machine-gun, without firing a single shot, we have concluded peace; we have laid the foundation for the conclusion of peace with all the countries that are waging war on us. We have shown that all governments have to lay down their arms in face of the peace policy of the Soviet government.

“We have already cut a window opening on to Europe, and we shall try to make wide use of it. Attempts are being made to incite Poland against us. But these attempts will fail, and the time is not far off when we shall conclude peace with all of them, although they say that they will not recognise us. They are mortally afraid of the spread of the Bolshevik infection at home; but although they have surrounded themselves with a Chinese Wall the Bolshevik infection already exists in each of these countries, it lurks in their midst. This infection was brought by the French and British soldiers who had been to Soviet Russia and had breathed her air. We have thus gained two victories. We have smashed the whiteguard hordes on all fronts, and we are winning peace on a world scale, winning it not with guns, but by the sympathy we have been able to inspire not only in the workers but even in the bourgeois governments of the small nationalities.”

Lenin then went on to deal briefly with the labour front.

“Comrades,” he said, “spring is approaching; we have been through an extraordinarily difficult winter of cold, hunger, typhus and railway chaos. We must be victorious on this front too. Just as we were able to sacrifice everything during the war and to give our best forces—the advanced workers, Communists and political and military students died in the front ranks and thus raised the morale of the whole army—so now we say that we must win on the front of eco-nomic chaos; the Communists and the advanced workers, the most honest and conscientious, the finest and staunch. est, must be in the forefront, as they were then; every train, every locomotive must be won by struggle, must be fought for. That is my appeal to the non-party conference.

“Comrades, before concluding my speech I would like to say a few words about the measures decided on at the last session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. The session decided on a number of measures which will shortly be published in the newspapers, and which should be read and discussed at all meetings of workers, in clubs, factories and Red Army units. One of the most important decisions of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, one to which in my opinion the most profound attention should be directed, concerns the fight against red tape in our institutions. One of the measures is the decision of the All-Russia Cen-tral Executive Committee to transform our state control into a workers’ and peasants’ control, or a workers’ inspection.”0 We shall not drive out the old officials—just as we did not drive the experts out of the army, but attached worker com-missars to them—we must attach groups of workers to these bourgeois experts, to look on, to learn and to take this work into their own hands. Workers must enter all the govern-ment establishments so as to supervise the entire government apparatus. And this should be done by the non-party work-ers, who should elect their representatives at non-party conferences of workers and peasants. They must come to the assistance of the Communists who are being overtaxed by the tremendous burden they have to bear. We must pour as many workers and peasants as possible into this apparatus. We shall tackle this job and accomplish it, and thus drive red tape out of our institutions. The broad non-party masses must keep a check on all government affairs, and must themselves learn to govern.”