V. I.   Lenin

The Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.)

September 22-25, 1920[7]

Written: See below.
Published: See below.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 2nd English Printing, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 207-214a.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2003). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.



Speech on the Immediate Tasks of Party Development. September 24

Comrades, I think that certain statements made during the debates and even certain speeches are worth mentioning if only because they obviously express not just overstrain, but overstrain bordering on hysteria and therefore giving a misplaced emphasis. I would not call it demagogy. It is physical overstrain to the point of hysteria. This applies mainly to the speeches by Lutovinov and Bubnov, in which there was less of demagogy than of overstrain. To some extent I think there were signs of overstrain in Medvedev’s statement too. He said: “Now you have all started speaking about unhealthy symptoms, but before you used to deny it, you weren’t telling the truth.” I think this explanation is not quite correct, in fact it is quite incorrect. That the unhealthy symptoms we are talking about really exist-was hardly a secret. Without a doubt, the general situation was so grave that we couldn’t find time till now for the Party, we had no chance to raise this question specially in the Party. Even now we raise it with difficulty, because the chance we are discussing here in our political talk-the chance of our being able to avoid a winter campaign-is extremely slender. The general situation of the Republic, as I mentioned, has improved to such an extent that we are now able to discuss things more calmly: there is no longer any question of suspending the conference the way we did several times when Kolchak and, Denikin were advancing. There were Party congresses from which a number of leading workers went straight off to the front without waiting for them to end. Mind you, we seldom convene congresses, we seldom have a chance of discussing important issues at congresses-yet before we couldn’t even see a congress through to the end, rarely though it was convened.   Today at any rate we can and ought to thresh things out without restricting ourselves. I should also like to say a word about Kalinin’s attempts to present the case in a Marxist way. It seems to me that his arguments were a long step away from Marxism, and the correct Marxist view I think was given in the resolution of the Moscow Committee—which you have all, of course, read and which has been put out in a small pamphlet and printed in Pravda—and the letter of the Central Committee.

I should like to read out several lines, which I would offer to the committee (if it be decided to set one up), not in lieu of the Moscow resolution and the C.C.’s letter, but as supplementary material to them.[1] The resolution of the Moscow Committee I think-and all are agreed on this-deals with the question correctly. Allow me to quote those few words and dwell on them briefly. Here is the addendum: “The indescribably grave position of the Soviet Republic in the early years of its existence, extreme devastation and grave military danger, made it necessary to designate special “shock” (and therefore virtually privileged) departments and groups of workers. This was unavoidable, since the ruined country could not be saved unless resources and energies were concentrated on such departments and such groups of workers, without the strengthening of which the imperialists of the whole world would have certainly crushed us and prevented the Soviet Republic from even starting on economic construction ....”

As regards the old specialists we have heard some very heated attacks here. The truth came out in Comrade Kutuzov’s speech when he said that the proletariat saw no improvement of its position from Soviet Russia–if anything, it was often worse. That’s true. But one must sort out the facts-for instance, that in Vienna, where there is no Soviet government, you have the same deterioration, to which you can add a moral humiliation a hundred times worse. But the rank and file cannot get this straight. Understand-ably, we are asked: What did we get in the course of these two years? And obviously, dissatisfaction with the old   specialists is widespread. Naturally, the question whether we need specialists or not was a salient issue. We shouldn’t forget, however, that without them we would not have had our army. We would have found ourselves in the same position as Hungary and the Finnish workers. That is how the matter stands. Without these specialists—I spoke about this in my political report—we would not have been able to take those elementary steps that helped us rise to a definite level. If we had failed to cope with this specialist business, we would not have had this, we would not have been able to make further progress. But now, when we have taken them in hand and harnessed them, when we know that they will not run away from us, but, on the contrary, are all running to join us, we shall now be sure that democratisation in the Party and the army will rise. I shall read further (reads the resolution) ....

Point one (reads).[2] Here there is an addition. Comrade Tomsky said, referring to what we have often spoken about ourselves, that the rank and file should be brought to the fore, the leaders are tired, give the rank and file a chance. This could not be done at once, but it will be after another, maybe the twentieth, attempt. Failing this, Soviet Russia’s cause would be hopeless. But we know that it is not hopeless, because we have new elements that are growing up. If the first attempts failed, we shall try and try again.

Point two (reads).[3] Here a rather sarcastic question was asked as to whether freedom of criticism would correspond to freedom to eat peaches.[8] I have one measure as a possible guarantee, on the basis of the proposals made by the committee. At moments when the country is in danger, when Kolchak reached the Volga and Denikin Orel, there can be no freedoms. There are other things than this to be regretted. But the military situation is bad now, too, we see how fickle the fortunes of war are. We must put this question on the order of the day. But we cannot, we must not, promise that at moments of military danger we shall not act differently. We shall have to make a tremendous   effort again and no arguing about it, we shall have to stand firm, strain every nerve. We do not renounce this at all, and until we have an Italian victory we must not renounce it. And that’s my reply to the peaches.

Point three (reads).[4] Here Comrade Preobrazhensky raised a question which Zinoviev raised too: Is regulation appropriate here and what is to be understood by it? I shall leave this question open, as it will be detailed in the committee. We shall see whether regulation is to be understood as detailed points or as the setting up of special bodies.

Point four (reads).[5] The speaker here said that this question had been raised by the committee but was rejected by its majority. I believe—I am putting this forward only in my own name—I believe that it should not be rejected, and if not accepted at once, at least it should first be considered. It has been pointed out here that 500 complaints have accumulated in the Orgbureau of the C.C. The Orgbureau has to distribute tens of thousands of people. Besides, there is not a single member of the Orgbureau who is not swamped with work, doing several jobs. Under these conditions one has to work with unknown quantities, and under such conditions you can only decide questions by intuition, a thing only experienced people can do, and even they often make mistakes. Taking into consideration these conditions, we want to find people with a length of Party membership of not less than fifteen years, who enjoy the Party’s trust, who are unbiassed, and who would help in this business, while at the same time standing above the Orgbureau as regards independence, as they would be elected by the congress. I believe this step could be taken. To hamper the C.C.’s work or hold up the decision is impossible. There is no special provision for it, and we cannot offer it. There used to be a control commission in the German Workers’ Party. How far that will be possible in our war situation—one cannot say. In any case we are in a position to take such a step, and the C.C. has taken that course.

The C.C.’s letter says: “Special Party commissions to handle relevant complaints should be organised at all   Gubernia Party Committees and made up of the most dispassionate comrades enjoying the general trust of the organisation.” It speaks here of dispassionate comrades. For real militant activities—military, economic and organisational—passionate people are very often absolutely necessary, because without high passion they will not be able to work at high pressure, they will not solve the urgent problem facing the exhausted country. On the contrary, what we need here are people, who though they may not possess conspicuous administrative abilities, have a good knowledge of life. I doubt whether we shall be able to find enough of them for the whole of Russia, for all gubernias, and if the commissions which are now going to be set up and which you will set up under the Gubernia Party Committees prove to be unsuccessful, don’t draw the conclusion that the whole enterprise is a failure. We may not find a sufficient number of comrades in the gubernias capable of holding out from congress to congress. If we don’t find them in the gubernias, we shall find staunch comrades with a knowledge of life in the centre. I think we should not give up the idea of forming these bodies.

It may be said: Where is the guarantee that these bodies can exist? We are in a state of desperate civil war, where, generally speaking, there can be no question of any freedom of broad criticism and so forth. We have other things to think of, we must strain every effort to end the war. If the conditions of war were not what they are, the position would be different. Under the present conditions we cannot provide for a good many things; and we say straight out that in order to settle this question in a practical manner we cannot rely on the C.C., because it is swamped with work as it is. I doubt whether you will find a single C.C. member—I judge from my own experience—who doesn’t feel over head and heels in debt as regards unfinished or skimped jobs. I can imagine no more effective guarantee of this plan being carried out than the creation of this commission, of a group of comrades capable of concentrating wholly on this job with the assurance that it will be entirely independent, handling affairs which no single member of the C.C., the Orgbureau, or the Politbureau is in a position to go into with any thoroughness. We may have a practical grasp of things, seeing   that we are making some progress, that we have increased our grain collections from 60 to 260 million poods-but this proved insufficient to give us a Red Army that was not overexhausted, to give us workers who did not say, “What good has the Red Army done us, we are starving”, and to give us a leadership that was not utterly worn out and does not stand in need of help from the rank and file. Nevertheless, we did make that progress, and that means that even in such a mass state of extreme fatigue the scale of this fatigue is beginning to diminish and we are entering a period when we can stop discussing the crust-of-bread question and pass on to weightier problems confronting us, which we all shall most certainly tackle.

First published in 1963 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 41
Printed from the shorthand record


Draft Resolution on the Immediate Tasks of Party Development

Not in lieu of, but as supplementary material to the C.C,’s letter and the Moscow Committee’s resolution:

The indescribably grave position of the Soviet Republic in the early years of its existence, extreme devastation and grave military danger, made it necessary to designate “shock” (and therefore virtually privileged) departments and groups of workers. This was unavoidable, since the ruined country could not be saved unless resources and energies were concentrated on such departments and groups of workers, without the strengthening of which the imperialists of the whole world would have certainly crushed us and prevented the Soviet Republic from even starting on economic construction.

This circumstance, coupled with the heritage of capitalist and proprietary habits and attitudes, which are so difficult to get rid of, explain the necessity for directing   the Party’s attention again and again to the struggle for implementingÉ[6]

Éthe need for practical guarantees that the decisions of the Party, which is unanimous on the above-mentioned questions of principle, should not remain on paper. The conference therefore directs the Central Committee immediately to resolve, carry out and furthermore propose to the next congress of the Party that it endorse the following:

(1) the absolute obligatoriness of more frequent and wider meetings of Party members parallel with other measures for developing activity among the Party membership;

(2) literary organs to be set up, capable of carrying out a more systematic and wider criticism of the Party’s mistakes and generally of criticism within the Party (discussion leaflets, etc.);

(3) precise practical rules to be drawn up on measures for eliminating the existing inequality (in the conditions of life, size of salaries, and so forth) between specialists and executives, on the one hand, and the rank and file, on the other-an inequality that violates democracy, is a source of demoralisation within the Party and lowers the prestige of Communists;

(4) it shall be found necessary to set up a Control Commission parallel with the Central Committee consisting of the most experienced, unbiassed comrades having the longest Party training and capable of carrying out strict Party control. The Control Commission elected by the congress of the Party should have the right to receive all kinds of complaints and examine them by arrangement with the Central Committee and if necessary by holding joint meetings with it or by submitting the question to the Party congress.


24. IX. 1920

First published in 1942 in Lenin Miscellany XXXIV
Printed from the manuscript


Proposals for the Resolution on the Immediate Tasks of Party Development[9]

Re the composition of the Control Commission.
Adopt resolution of the C.C.:

that we nominate C.C. members to the Control Commission only at the desire of the Party conferences, considering it generally incorrect that these C.C. members are not bound by the decisions of the C.C. in their work within the Control Commission;

that C.C. members of the Control Commission do not vote in the latter when the matter specially concerns their departments or field of work.

As regards transference, add:
without detriment to those being transferred familiarising themselves with the matter in hand and without detriment to the work, i.e., only in such a manner as ensures that the management of affairs remains always in the hands of fully competent workers who guarantee success.


Written September 29, 1920
First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI
Printed from the manuscript


[1] See pp. 212-13 of this volume.—Ed.

[2] See p. 213 of this volume.—Ed.

[3] See p. 213 of this volume.—Ed.

[4] See p. 213 of this volume.—Ed.

[5] See p. 213 of this volume.—Ed.

[6] One page of the manuscript is missing—Ed.

[7] The Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) held in Moscow from September 22 to 25, 1920, was attended by 241 delegates (116 of them voting delegates and 125 with a consultative voice) representing 700,000 Party members. There were delegates from the gubernia organisations of the R. S. F.S,R. and the Ukraine, from the C.C. of the Communist Parties of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Red Army was represented by 34 delegates. The agenda consisted of the following items: 1) Report by the delegate from the Polish Communists; 2) Political report of the C.C.; 3) Organisa-tional report of the C.C.; 4) The immediate tasks of Party develop-ment; 5) Report of the Party History Studies Committee; 6) Report on the Second Congress of the Communist International.

Lenin opened the conference with the Central Committee’s political report (see present edition. Vol. 31, pp. 275-79), which dealt mainly with two questions-that of concluding peace with Poland and organising Wrangel’s defeat.

Lenin’s report was followed by heated debates, especially on the causes of the Soviet troops’ setback near Warsaw. Wind-ing up the debate, Lenin pointed out that the speeches of the delegates provided rich material for drawing necessary lessons and deductions. The conference unanimously passed a resolution on the terms of peace with Poland, and approved the statement by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee concerning the specific peace.. terms drawn up under Lenin’s direction and edited by him (see Lenin Miscellany XXXVI, P. 123-26).

A highlight of the Ninth Conference was the discussion of the question of the immediate tasks of Party development. The anti-Party group of "Democratic Centralism" put forward T. V. Sapronov as co-reporter to air their views on this question. They came out against Party discipline and the Party’s guiding role in the Soviets and the trade unions. The conference, like the Ninth Congress of the B.C.P. (B.), strongly rebuffed the "Democrat-ic Centralism" group.

The conference adopted a re.solution on “The Immediate Tasks of Party Development” drafted and moved by Lenin (see pp. 212-13 of this volume), who also wrote the "Proposals for the Resolution on the Immediate Tasks of Party Development (see p. 214 of this volunie). The conference called attention to the need for drawing the rank-and-file Communists intowider active participation in the work of gubernia conferences and Guhernia Party Committee pie-nums. Measures were outlined for eliminating red tape in the work of Government and economic bodies. To combat various abuses and examine complaints received from Communists, the conference deemed it necessary to set up a Control Commission, and under the gubernia committees-special Party commissions.

On the C.C.’s organisational report the conference adopted a resolution to step up the work of the C.C.’s Secretariat with a view to achieving greater familiarity with local activities and a pooling of experience, and to pay more attention to the work of the Agitation and Propaganda Department; it also urged the necessity of improving the C.C.’s direct guidance of the organi- sational work of the Red Army and Navy Party organisations and not allowing the work of these organisations to become detached from public life.

[8] Lenin is referring to the demagogic statement by A. M. Koliontai alleging persecution for criticism. She said that criticisers were sometimes offered to go “to nice torrid climes to eat peaches”.

[9] Lenin’s proposals concerning the composition of the Control Commission were, with certain amendments, incorporated in the resolut,.od of the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) “On the Immediate Tasks of Party Development” (see KPSS v resolyutsiyalch I resheniyakh syezdov, kon/erentsii I plenumov Ts.K. [The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Its Congresses, Conferences and Plenary Meetings. of the Central Committee, Part 1, 1854, pp. 506-12).

The last paragraph from the words “As regards transference” was crossed out by Lenin and omitted from the resolution.

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