V. I.   Lenin

Speeches at a Meeting of Non-Party Delegates to the Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets[1]

Published: First published in 1933 in Lenin Miscellany XXIII. Printed from the shorthand record.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 370b-374a.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). 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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December 26, 1921


Comrades, having decided to continue our talk—I think we have no doubts on this score—I just want to say that it is now about half past eight and we can sit on till half past nine or even later. We must pick a question which we   are most interested in. If, as one comrade said here, it is the agrarian question, then I say—let us distribute our time on those questions which are most important for you. My business here, as I understand it, is mainly to listen and make notes. What I wanted to tell you I have already told you at the congress. I am trying to take down notes as to what gubernia, what uyezd the complaints come from and what most of them are about. I think the time should be distributed in such a way that after the question of compulsory carting tax has been dealt with, we should figure out what questions seem most important so that delegates from different gubernias can have time to have their say on them. My business here is to make as detailed notes as possible in order to know what the non-Party delegates have spoken about. In any case, it will be very difficult for me to answer some of the questions that will be put here, as I have no information at hand and cannot give an immediate reply. That is why I suggest choosing questions which are considered the most important and on which delegates will speak from the floor, the way the carting tax question has been raised, and I shall write down every statement made by local people.


Comrades, it is very difficult for me to say even a few words on this question, because all the questions that have been put here I am writing down with a note of what gubernia they come from, but without exact information from the institution concerned I am unable straight off to answer the questions that have been put here. The comrade from the Commissariat for Labour who has just spoken, found it much easier because he has before his eyes a published law and an explanation of what mitigations the enforcement of that law will yield. Without information from the commissariats concerned I can give no definite answers to some of the questions that have been put here.

A number of notes have been sent up. One of them is from a Ukrainian comrade from Kiev, who asks why I have never visited the Ukraine. It is a long journey to the Ukraine, and a difficult one to undertake.

One comrade asks, who is going to pay for the horses killed in the carting service. I have made a note of that question. The comrade has already answered in a general way.

Two notes have been handed up on the question of the tax in kind and about it being impossible for the needy peasant to buy textile goods. Naturally, the peasants in all gubernias these days have many difficulties like these to bear. Without information from the institution concerned I am unable to answer this sort of question just now.

Can we help and to what extent can we help? I repeat, that at the moment I can give no reply. It seems to me that the most important thing that has been said here on the question of carting service is—as far as I can gather from a glance at my notes (and I have written down briefly what each of the comrades has said here)—the most important thing, to my mind, are the instances of abuse and irregularities on the part of the Zheleskoms.[2] Most of the complaints have been about the stints assigned by the Zheleskoms being heavy, about the hard time peasants are having, about there being far too many irregularities in the distribution and assignment of jobs, especially at a time when they are simply harmful to the peasants’ farm work. I have made notes of all these remarks, and a note that when the last three-week campaign was held, all comrades from the centre were sent out to the local areas. I asked for exact information on all irregularities connected with fuel work, and on all abuses, as well as a number of reports to be collected. I have already begun to receive letters about this, but recently, owing to ill-health, which made me confine myself only to a general report at the congress, I have not been able to deal with these letters myself. This will be entrusted to another comrade, who is temporarily taking my place, but we shall definitely collect all the information that has come in during the last three-week campaign. The complaints about the irregularities and abuses of the Zheleskoms I consider, on the whole, undoubtedly correct. One of the principal reasons why it was decided to introduce the carting tax which the comrade from the Labour Commissariat has spoken about here is that, unless the amount of work to be done is properly determined (this attempt is being   made by the fixing of a six-day period of work in the law), unless this is properly determined in the law, abuses by the gubernia logging committees and the Zheleskoms are bound to take place and will be very difficult to combat. But when the law definitely declares, as it now does, how many work days are required and there will be a known set task fixing how much work is to be done in the given number of days, the abuses will be much easier to combat. Naturally, the fight against abuses by these bodies in the gubernias and uyezds is no easy job, especially when, as a comrade here pointed out, many of the old employees, the former land owners and former timber contractors have wormed their way into these bodies. A stricter eye must be kept on this in the local areas and we must have more comrades from among the non-Party peasants in the Central Executive Committee, who could be applied to in the event of a complaint failing to reach its destination, and who would raise the question at a sitting of the C.E.C. and demand an investigation into the abuses. These measures will be put through at this congress in any case. The number of C.E.C. members from among the non-Party peasants, as comrades taking part in the congress have told me, will definitely be increased. By this means it will be possible to keep an eye on abuses by the Zheleskoms and easier to combat them when there will be more non-Party peasant members in the C.E.C. I repeat, I am making a note of all the remarks that are made here and shall write to the appropriate commissariat or economic council about each of them in order to have proper measures taken. I cannot of course give a reply offhand to each particular question without getting the information from the commissariat concerned.


I have asked Comrade Kalinin for two minutes to clear up any misunderstanding that his words may have caused.[3] I am sure he did not intend to impute to me the idea that I ever suggested burning prayer-books. Needless to say, I never suggested such a thing and never could. You know that according to our Constitution, the fundamental law   of our Republic, freedom of conscience in respect of religion is fully guaranteed to every person.

Another word to the comrade who spoke about the very difficult situation in some of the uyezds of Vyatka Gubernia. These uyezds are in the famine-stricken area. Our main hope now will be in the agreement which the American Government has offered us. We shall conclude it within the next few days. Under this agreement the American Government offers twenty million dollars. We shall give ten million, making thirty million dollars altogether—that is, sixty million gold rubles. This is a sizable sum. Most of the spring crop area, if not all of it, will be sown. In addition we are sending men to Canada. I think we shall be able to spend an extra sum from the gold fund to buy a little more seed. The main problem now, of course, is the famine, the dearth of fodder. The sowing of spring crops must be done as fully as possible. Every effort in this direction will be made. (Applause.)


[1] The Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets sat in Moscow on December 23-28, 1921. It was attended by 1,993 delegates, of whom 1,631 were voting delegates and 362 had a consultative voice. 1,850 delegates were Communists, 139 non-Party people, and one delegate each with a consultative voice from the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Anarcho-Universalists, the Jewish Social-Democratic Labour Party Poale Zion and the Molokan communities.

The congress discussed the reports and passed the following decisions: 1) Resolution on the report of the All-Russia C.E.C. and the C.P.C. on the Republic’s home and foreign policies; 2) Declaration on the international position of the R.S.F.S.R.; 3) Resolution on the building up of the Red Army and Navy; 4) Resolution on relief to the famine-stricken areas; 5) Appeal for collection of the tax in kind; 6) Instructions on questions of economic activities; 7) Resolution on the preliminary results of the New Economic Policy and on the Republic’s industry; 8) Resolution on measures for strengthening and developing agriculture; 9) Resolution on agricultural co-operation; 10) Resolution on finances and the budget; 11) Resolution of the C.P.C. on electrification endorsed by the Ninth Congress of Soviets;   12) Resolution on Soviet administrative activities; 13) Resolution on the Vecheka.

Lenin put in a great deal of work in preparing for the congress and directing its proceedings (see present edition, Vol. 33, pp. 141-81).

The Meeting of Non-Party Delegates held on the evening of December 26, 1921, discussed two questions: that of the compulsory carting tax (reporter Lemberg, representative of the Commissariat for Labour), and the agrarian question. The meeting was chaired by M. I. Kalinin.

The first two speeches were delivered by Lenin during the discussion of the carting tax question, the second speech following a request by one of the congress delegates asking Lenin to say a few words “about the servicing of Soviet institutions”.

Lenin’s third speech was delivered during the discussion of the agrarian question following a speech by Kalinin. Lenin made brief notes of the speeches at the meeting (see Lenin Miscellany XXIII, pp. 292-94, 297-98).

[2] Zheleskoms—Russian abbreviated name for Railway Logging Committees supervising felling operations and the carting of wood to the railway stations for the needs of industry and transport.

[3] Pointing out that twenty instead of five non-Party peasants would now be elected to the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, Kalinin said: “Some comrades say that we elect men by their beards. Excuse me, Comrades, but a beard means a lot to a peasant. It stands for his way of life, his thinking, and the best example is the peasant Petrushkin sitting here next to me. If Comrade Lenin says, ’I’ll go and burn all the prayer-books’, I’d like to know the opinion of a non-Party man, and I’ll ask Petrushkin what the peasants will think of my wanting to burn the prayer- books. He 11 say, ’Who cares, let them burn’. He’s a young man, but if I ask a bearded man he’ll say we ought to wait a bit. This means a lot to us” (Istorichesky Arkhiv [Historical Archives], No. 2, 1962, p. 76).

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