V. I.   Lenin


Dictated: Dictated by telephone
Published: First published in 1928 in Lenin Miscellany VIII. Printed from a typescript copy.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, page 555.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
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.
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Very urgent

Avanesov, Kursky and Tsyurupa

I suspect a small military stratagem on the part of Osinsky and Bogdanov, who today, in my absence, are raising the question of reversing the decision of the Council of Labour and Defence about the prosecution of persons guilty of bureaucratic delays in the manufacture of the Fowler ploughs.[1] Please give attention to this matter, and use your influence against reversing the decision. There is no doubt that in this affair there are people guilty of red tape, and from the standpoint of principle it is essential not to leave such matters within the confines of bureaucratic institutions, but to bring them out into the public court—not so much for the sake of inflicting strict punishment (perhaps a reprimand will suffice), but for the sake of publicity and for dispelling the universal conviction that guilty persons are not punished.

December 13, 1921



[1] In October and November 1921, the case of red tape in the manufacture of the ploughs was repeatedly on the agenda of the Council of Labour and Defence. The collegium of the Metal Department of the Supreme Economic Council, which was instructed by the Presidium of the Council in May 1920 to manufacture the ploughs, displayed impermissible laxity and irresponsibility which doomed the programme from the outset. The Extraordinary Three-Man Committee set up to co-ordinate the operations took an extremely formal attitude to the task, and confined itself to the writing of reports and all sorts of correspondence between the departments. Its members did not have the courage to inform their superiors that the plan could not be fulfilled and that it was no use wasting money. It failed to inform either the Council of Labour and Defence or the Council of People’s Commissars of the state of affairs. At great cost over a period of almost two years, five experimental ploughs were manufactured out of a planned total of 2,000. The case was referred to the Moscow Military Tribunal, which in early January 1922 ruled that there was substance in the charges against the officials of the Supreme Economic Council and the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture to the effect that they had been derelict in their duties, but, in view of their previous record in rehabilitating the economy, decided to forgo punishment. In addition, on the proposal of the tribunal, the Council of Labour and Defence issued an administrative rebuke to the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council and the collegium of the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture for their insufficiently serious attitude to the manufacture of the Fowler ploughs (see Lenin’s letter to Bogdanov on December 23, 1921 in this volume, pp. 556–58).

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