V. I. Lenin

Concluding Remarks at a Conference of Chairmen of

Uyezd, Volost and Village Executive Committees Of Moscow Gubernia

October 15, 1920

Delivered: December 2, 1920
First Published: Published in 1920 In the book: Verbatim Reports of the Plenary Sessions of the Moscow Soviet of Workers’, Peasants’ and Red Army Deputies; Published according to the text in the book
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 31, pages 334-338
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

Comrades, I shall have to confine myself to some brief concluding remarks, because from the very beginning of the meeting it has been clear that there is quite a strong desire, in fact a very strong desire, to upbraid the central government. That would, of course, have been useful, and I have considered it my duty to listen to everything said in criticism of the government and its policy. I think that the discussion should not have been wound up. (Hear, hear!) However, while listening to your remarks, I have been surprised to see how few precise and specific proposals you have put forward. Of the two questions-the foreign affairs and the home affairs of our Republic—I think that home affairs interest you more. That is how it should be. But, comrades, you forget that home affairs depend on foreign affairs, and I therefore have thought it my duty to tell you how and why the Polish war brought us up against the international imperialists and then led to peace; how and why this peace is precarious, and what has to be done to consolidate it. I hope that, in this matter, after you have discussed all the other questions and set forth all the problems in a calm fashion, you will not behave like certain personages in the fable mentioned by one of the speakers, about the lynx which waits for the goat and the ram to fall out, so as to devour them both. You will not give that satisfaction to the lynx-of that I am sure. However furiously the goat and the ram may clash, we shall give no satisfaction to the lynx. (Applause and cheers.) Comrades, if extreme dissatisfaction and impatience have been expressed here so often, we all know that freedom of speech is the primary rule of procedure at meetings. At this meeting you have broken this rule-it is because the majority of the peasants are experiencing all too severely the effects of the very grave situation that has arisen in the localities. Most of the peasants are feeling all too severely the effects of famine, cold and excessive taxation. ("Hear, Hear!" and applause.) It was, in the main, for this that most of the speakers upbraided the central government, directly and indirectly. One got a feeling that the comrades did not even want to give a full hearing to speakers in whose speeches they heard no replies to this acute problem. One of the speakers, I do not remember which, said that in his opinion I had evaded this issue. I consider this assertion groundless.

The position of the Soviet Republic is most grave, which made us hurry to conclude peace before the winter campaign set in. That haste stemmed from a desire to avoid a winter campaign, a realisation that it is better to have a worse frontier, that is to say, to get less Byelorussian territory and be in a position to wrest fewer Byelorussian peasants from the yoke of the bourgeoisie, than to impose fresh hardships and another ’winter campaign on the peasants of Russia. Such were our reasons. You know that the poor harvest of this year has aggravated the peasants’ need. However, the measure in which this ties us in our home policy is not generally realised. I think that you will all be fully informed on the subject of taxation. You will also hear what the speaker on the food policy will have to say. And all I want is to draw your attention to the close connection between the internal situation and the external. Let us take, for example, the sittings of our Council of Defence and the Council of People’s Commissars. At these meetings we even have to deal with the question of the running of each train, the grain-requisitioning quotas imposed upon the Great Russia gubernias—quotas that are often extremely rigorous. Two or three weeks ago the Council of People’s Commissars considered the question of the excessively rigorous quotas, established by the central authorities; it decided that they should be reduced. At whose expense is this to be done? There can be only one reply .to this question: only at the expense of outlying regions that are richer in grain, namely, Siberia and the Kuban, and by making it possible to obtain grain from the Ukraine. We are getting grain from Siberia and from the Kuban, but we cannot get grain from the Ukraine because warfare is raging there, and the Rod Army has to fight the hands that infest that area. We have to settle the problem of almost every train. We have seen what this meeting has turned into, the dissatisfaction expressed here, and the voices raised in loud protest. We know the reason for all this. We know that all those who have revealed such emotion here are sick at heart because there i3 no fodder, livestock is perishing, and taxation is so heavy. The comrade who said that these cries of protest were something new to us was wrong. Both from telegrams and reports from the provinces we know of the heavy loss of cattle as a result of the grave fodder situation, and we all realise the difficulties. But we also know the solution. There is only one solution—Siberia, the Kuban and the Ukraine.

From Siberia we had to bring up troops to the Wrangel front, and in the Council of Defence there were two or three very painful meetings when comrades came with the demand that we should cancel the special food trains. After the most bitter wrangling and bargaining, we ended by deciding to somewhat curtail the number of food trains. However, we would like to hear more weighty and, serious criticism. We know all about the outcries and lamentations that the farms are being ruined. That is why even the truce that comes into force on the 18th, even though the Poles are entitled to cancel it at forty-eight hours’ notice, will give us some respite and relief; in any case there will be more trainloads of grain from Siberia and the Kuban in the next few weeks. Of course, the need is so acute and the crop shortage so severe that the relief this will provide will not be very great. We should not, of course, deceive ourselves and say that it will remove all our difficulties and enable us to discontinue the grain requisitioning quotas.

That is something I cannot and will not say. State your views precisely, let us have your definite suggestions for relieving the heavy taxation, and the representatives of the workers’ and peasants’ government will examine them with the closest attention, because we must find a way of easing this exceedingly painful situation. There is no less grain in the Ukraine than in the Kuban; there is perhaps even more, but so far we have been able to get hardly anything from the Ukraine under the grain quotas, which have been fixed at 600,000,000 poods, and which could meet all the needs of our industries and help restore them. We have struck the Ukraine off our accounts: not a single pood can be expected from the Ukraine, because of the bandits there, and because the war with Wrangel compels us to say that we cannot be sure of getting a single pood from the Ukraine. Such is the situation, which, notwithstanding your legitimate impatience and quite justified indignation, makes us divert all our attention to the Polish and the Wrangel fronts. That is why when comrades say that they are not against giving help, but they want that help to be given freely, we say: "Go and help the front!"

I shall conclude my brief remarks by reminding you of what I said at the end of my report, namely, that every time the Soviets have had to get out of a difficult situationwhen Denikin was in Ore!, or when Yudenich was within five versts of Petrograd-when the situation seemed not only difficult, but desperate, a hundred times as difficult as it is now, the Soviet government got out of that situation by calling together meetings of workers and peasants like the present one and telling them the unvarnished truth. That is why I say that whether or not Wrangel will soon be crushed depends, not on a decision of the central government but on the way in which the representatives from the localities, after giving vent to their dissatisfaction, after finishing the struggle which the above-mentioned comrade has called a clash between the goats and the rams-an indispensable thing-and after voicing their complaints, accusations and recriminations-the way in which local representatives reply to the question whether they themselves want freedom, quite apart from any decision by the central government. Here we cannot give orders; it will depend on your own decisions, when you come to discuss the state of affairs, the grain-requisitioning quotas, taxation, Wrangel, etc.-it will depend on you. Let each man have his say; give vent to all your reproaches; censure us ten times more severely-that is your right and your duty. You have come here to express your opinion plainly and bluntly. But when you have done all that, just reflect calmly what you want to contribute and do so as to finish with Wrangel as quickly as possible. I think that we shall reach such thorough agreement on this question that I repeat in conclusion-never will the lynx benefit from our arguments, recriminations and accusations. (Applause.)