V. I. Lenin

Speech Delivered At A Meeting of

Cells’ Secretaries Of The Moscow Organisation Of The R.C.P.(B.)

November 26, 1920[1]

Newspaper Report

Delivered: 26 November, 1920 or earlier.
First Published: Pravda No. 269, November 30, 1920; Published according to the Pravda text checked against the verbatim report.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 430-433
Translated: Julius Katzer
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. 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 the first written question submitted, a comrade asks whether it is true that all institutions of administration are to he transferred to Petrograd. That is inaccurate. The rumour has arisen from the fact that the Moscow Soviet has had the idea of transferring non-essential institutions from Moscow to Petrograd because of the housing shortage in the capital. It appears that Petrograd can accept up to 10,000 Soviet office workers, who number 200,000 in Moscow. To study all aspects of the matter, a committee has been set up, which is now working. Its findings will be submitted to the Council of People’s Commissars.[2] So you see that this rumour is inaccurate in some respects.

The second question and the third ask about concessions. You will allow me to dwell on the subject.

In one of his books, Spargo, the American Socialist, a man who is something like our Aiexinsky, and has a vindictive hate of the Bolsheviks, speaks of concessions as proof of the collapse of communism. Our Mensheviks say the same thing. The challenge has been made, and we are ready to take it up. Let us consider the question in terms of the facts. Who has got the worse of it, we or the European bourgeoisie? For three years they have been calumniating us, calling us usurpers and bandits; they have had recourse to all and every means tooverthrow us, but have now had to confess to failure, which is in itself a victory for us. The Mensheviks assert that we are pledged to defeating the world bourgeoisie on our own. We have, however, always said that we are only a single link in the chain of the world revolution, and have never set ourselves the aim of achieving victory by our own means. The world revolution has not yet come about, but then we have not yet been overcome. While militarism is decaying, we are growing stronger; not we, but they have had the worse of it.

They now want to subdue us by means of a treaty. Until the revolution comes about, bourgeois capital will be useful to us. How can we speed up the development of our economy whilst we are an economically weaker country? We can do that with the aid of bourgeois capital. We now have before us two drafts of concessions. One of them is for a ten-year concession in Kamchatka. We were recently visited by an American multimillionaire, who told us very frankly of the reasons behind the treaty, viz., that America wants to have a base in Asia in case of a war against Japan. This multimillionaire said that if we sold Kamchatka to America, he could promise us such enthusiasm among the people of the United States that the American Government would immediately recognise the Soviets of Russia. If we gave them only the lease, there would be less enthusiasm. He is now on his way to America, where he will make it known that Soviet Russia is a far cry from what people believed her to he.

We have till now been more than a match for the world bourgeoisie, because they are incapable of uniting. The Treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Versailles[3] have both divided them. An intense hostility is now developing between America and Japan. We are making use of this and are offering a lease of Kamchatka instead of giving it away gratis; after all, Japan has taken a huge expanse of our territory in the Far East,[4] this by force of arms. It is far more to our advantage to run no risk, grant a lease of Kamchatka, and receive part of its products, the more so for our being unable, in any case, to run or exploit it. The treaty has not been signed, but it is already being spoken of in Japan with the utmost anger. Through this treaty we have aggravated the differences between our enemies.

The second kind of concession is represented by our granting the lease of several million dessiatines[a Russian unit of land measure equal to 2.7 acres.—Editor] of timberland in Archangel Gubernia which, despite all our efforts, we cannot fully exploit. We are arranging a kind of checker-board pattern, with sections of timberland we shall be exploiting alternating with the leased sections, so that our workers will be able to learn the use of felling equipment from their neighbours. All this is very much to our advantage.

And now for the final aspect of the question.

Concessions do not mean peace; they too are a kind of warfare, only in another form, one that is to our advantage. Previously war was waged with the aid of tanks, cannon and the like, which hindered our work; the war will now be conducted on the economic front. They may perhaps try to restore the freedom to trade, but they cannot get along without us. Besides, they have to submit to all our laws, and our workers can learn from them; in case of war—and we must always be prepared for war against the bourgeoisie—the property will remain in our hands by virtue of the laws of war. I repeat: concessions are a continuation of war on the economic front, but here we do not destroy our productive forces, but develop them. They will no doubt try to evade our laws and deceive us, but we have the appropriate bodies to deal with that, such as the All-Russia Cheka, the Moscow Cheka, the Gubernia Cheka, and so on, and we are sure that we shall win.

Eighteen months ago we wanted to sign a peace that would have given Denikin and Kolchak a vast territory. They turned this down and in consequence lost everything.,[5] We have napped out the right road to the world revolution, but this road is not a straight one, but goes in zigzags. We have weakened the bourgeoisie, so that it cannot overcome us by force of arms. They used to ban our conduct of communist propaganda; but there can be no question of that at present, and it would be ridiculous to demand such things. They are decaying from within, and that gives us strength. We do not imagine that we shall defeat the world bourgeoisie by force of arms alone, and the Mensheviks are wrong in ascribing that intention to us.

I did not hear Comrade Kamenev’s report on the Conference, but I shall say that the latter teaches us a lesson: no matter how the struggle proceeded and whatever memories remain, we must put a complete end to everything. It should be remembered that the consolidation of our forces is the main and most important task. Tasks of economic construction await us. That transition will be difficult after six years of war, and we have to tackle the problem with united forces, on the platform of the All-Russia Conference’s resolutions, which must he carried out. The struggle against red-tape methods, and economic and administrative work call for unity. What is expected of us is propaganda by example; the non-Party masses have to be set an example. It will be no easy matter to carry out the resolutions, but we must concentrate all our forces on that task and set about working in all earnest. I call upon you to do that.


[1] Held in the Hall of Columns, the House of Trade Unions, on November 20, 1920, this meeting discussed reports on the Mos cow Gubernia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) and the war situation. Lenin spoke at the meeting in connection with the publicationof the decree on concessions, on November 25.—Editor

[2] The Council of People's Commissars, with Lenin as chairman, was formed by the Second All-Russia Congress of Soviets in October 1917. It was occasionally called the great, or full, Council to distinguish it from the small, or limited, Council, whichfunctioned under its auspices from December 1917 to 1926 as acommission dealing with minor questions and preparing various questions for consideration by the full Council of People'sCommissars.—Editor

[3] The Peace Treaty of Versailles, which concluded the First World War, was signed on June 28, 1919, by the U.S.A., the British Empire, France, Italy, Japan and other Allied Powers, on the one hand, and Germany, on the other. Lenin wrote, "this is an unparalleled and predatory peace, whichhas made slaves of tens of millions of people, including the most civilised" (see p. 320 in this volume). The treaty consolidated the repartition of the capitalist world in favour of the victors, and established a system of relationships between countries which was aimed at strangling Soviet Russia and suppressingthe world revolutionary movement.—Editor

[4] The imperialist government of Japan, in collusion with U.S. and British ruling circles, invaded the Far East in the spring of 1918 in an attempt to seize Soviet territory east of Lake Baikal. On April 5, Japanese troops landed in Vladivostok. Operating from their main strategic base in Vladivostok, they occupied the Maritime Province, Northern Sakhalin and the Trans-Baikal region. The rout of Keichak at the end of 1919, the growing guerilla movement and the economic crisis in Japan in 1920-21, which was aggravated by the Japanese-American contradictions, spoiled the doom of the interventionists. By the autumn of 1922 their rout was complete and on October 25 the last interventionistsleft Vladivostok.—Editor

[5] The reference is to the talks with Bullitt (see Note 1from Speech at Conference of Workers and Red Army Men In Rogozhsko-Simonovsky District Of Moscow).