V. I.   Lenin



Published: First published in 1932 in Lenin Miscellany XX. Sent to Baku. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 112b-114a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 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.README


Comrade Serebrovsky:

I am sending you some material on the oil concessions. I wanted to send it along with Comrade Kaminsky, but unfortunately, because of his grave illness, he had to be given treatment over here.

It is extremely important for the Baku comrades to adopt the correct view of the concessions (a view approved by the Tenth Party Congress, i.e., binding on all Party members). It is highly desirable to let the concessionaires have a quarter of Baku (or perhaps two-quarters) (on condition of assistance from abroad both in foodstuffs and equipment, over and above the concessionaires’ own requirements[1] ). Only then is there any hope of using the other three-quarters (or two-quarters) to catch up with (and then to forge ahead of) modern advanced capitalism. Any other view boils down to the most harmful attitude of a “walkover”, “we’ll manage on our own”, and other such-like rubbish which presents an increasingly greater danger the more it is clad in “purely communist” attire.

Write me at once if there are still any traces (even the slightest) of these most harmful views and prejudices in Baku (among the workers and among the intellectuals): do you undertake to dispel these prejudices yourself and secure the most loyal implementation of the congress decision (for the concessions) or do you need my help? Make sure that you and everyone else realise that “the concessions are extremely desirable. There is nothing more harmful or fatal for communism than communist boasting—we’ll manage on our own”.

Now that we have Batum, we must do our utmost to arrange the speediest possible exchange of oil and kerosene for equipment abroad.

For this the Baku district needs some independence. If you do not have it, telegraph precisely, we shall let you have it.[2]

Formulate precise proposals—send them over to the C.L.D. by telegram and letter. There is need for a regional economic centre, responsible for Baku+Batum, etc., and conducting operations independently, swiftly, without red tape.

We cannot help you from over here, we are poor ourselves. You must help us by buying everything necessary from abroad in exchange for oil and oil products.

Awaiting your reply: a short one by telegram “(letter of 2/IV received, prejudices over concessions exist, hard (or easy) to overcome, concerning exchange of goods with foreign countries and the regional centre, will do or are doing so-and-so”) and give details by mail.

There is an urgent necessity for correct contacts with the C.L.D.; that is the main thing.

Another question: is there a correct approach in Baku to the question of oil from the standpoint of co-ordinating the various aspects of the national economy? After all, the territory is very rich: forests, fertile land (given the irrigation), etc. We are pumping water (with oil) but not using the water for irrigation, which would yield great crops of hay, rice, cotton? Not making use of the “north wind” to run windmills? But, of course, foodstuffs and irrigation are the main things. Is it possible to develop   the oil industry without developing irrigation and farming around Baku? Is anyone thinking about this and working on it properly? What about the English irrigation plan?

With communist greetings,


[1] I had a telegram from Krasin yesterday in reply to the draft concession terms sent to him: “acceptable in the main.” Krasin, let me add, has a knowledge of this business not from communist pamphlets!—Lenin

[2] On April 16, 1921, a telegram was received from Chairman of the Oil Committee, A. P. Serebrovsky, asking Lenin “To send in an official recognition of some independence for the Oil Committee to exchange oil products in Persia, Turkestan and Europe for articles of equipment and supply of workers with clothes and foodstuffs” (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.P.S.U. Central Committee).

On April 18, Lenin requested A. I. Rykov, V. P. Milyutin and A. M. Lezhava to give their opinion and an agreed draft C.P.C. decision on this matter. On April 19, the C.P.C. appointed a special commission to work out a draft decision enlarging the competence of the Azerbaijan Oil Committee in this sphere.

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