V. I.   Lenin

Speech at a Meeting of
Moscow Party Activists

February 24, 1921[1]

Delivered: February 24, 1921
Published: First published in 1963 in the Fifth Russian Edition of the Collected Works, Vol. 42. Printed from the typewritten copy of the minutes.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, 3nd English Printing, Progress Publishers, 1977, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 272b-275a.
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.
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I am rather surprised at the nature of today’s talk. I don’t think this is the right political moment for it. We have to cope with the present situation, which has deteriorated both internally and internationally. Peace with Poland has not yet been concluded, and at home we have a growth of banditism and kulak revolts. As for food and fuel, thinks have gone from bad to worse. Last year we consumed 15 million poods of grain during the first half-year and 8 million in the second; this year we have used 25 million poods in the first half-year and are now obliged to cut the bread rations and are not even sure we shall be able to issue them regularly. Obviously our mistake was that we wrongly distributed the grain in the first half-year; we should not have increased its consumption to 25 million poods. There are no deliveries from Siberia now, because the kulak rebels have cut off the railway. Our Siberian comrades spoke of the possibility of   a kulak uprising, but it is very difficult to determine the extent of it. It is not a war, in which one can weigh the forces engaged in it. The Siberian peasantry are not yet used to privations, although they are bearing less than the peasantry of European Russia, and there is now a break off in communications with Siberia and stoppage of deliveries. Between March 1 and 10, approximately, there will be no improvement in the food situation. We have left ourselves no stocks. The thing now is to hold out, to bear the present situation with the greatest possible firmness. There is a certain improvement in deliveries from the Caucasus, but there is a likelihood that things may get worse. Apparently the uprising in Armenia will quieten down,[2] but deliveries from the Caucasus can in no way compensate us for non-deliveries from Siberia, although pressure is being put on the South-Eastern Railway to make up the losses. This is sad news, but it can’t be helped.

In the banditism one feels the influence of the Socialist-Revolutionaries. Their main forces are abroad; every spring they dream of overthrowing Soviet power. Chernov wrote about this recently in a Russian newspaper abroad. The S.R.s are connected with the local instigators. This connection is to be seen in the fact that the uprisings take place in the very districts from which we take grain. The surplus-appropriation system here met with tremendous difficulties. The same system is being applied in Siberia, but there they still have stocks left over from previous years.

The deterioration has spread to fuel as well. We have no exact figures, so no clear deductions can be made, nor can we determine the causes of the fuel crisis.

We have come to the conclusion that there exists discontent of a general nature. This discontent has to be caught from below, directly through the Party apparatus if it cannot be caught quickly through the administrative apparatus.

In addition to signs of bureaucratism, there are mistakes in the plan. The plan should be checked when it is drawn up by being discussed in the press and at meetings. We are obliged to stop enterprises and thereby upset the work of factories which do have fuel. What is the matter? Clearly, besides mistakes, the plan contains material for legal proceedings. Proletarian elements should be sent into the offices.

Undoubtedly, until the floating season is over, we shall not emerge from the fuel crisis. We must make the best possible use of sleighing and floating. The fuel crisis has affected the textile mills, too, and they are unable to fulfil even a minimum programme.

There are the difficulties arising from banditism and interrupted communication with Siberia. Smirnov’s[3] report says they are coping with banditism out there but cannot promise an improvement in grain deliveries. Therefore, we should not disperse our attention in talk about the general situation, but concentrate our efforts on finding a way out of this situation.

A word or two about the situation in the Moscow organisation. Some comrades try to shift the blame for the squabbling on the majority of the Moscow Committee. If the minority are dissatisfied they can appeal against the conference decision to the Central Committee. I dont’t know how the C.C. will decide the question, but my own opinion is that the minority is to blame. The resolution of the All-Russia Conference says that the opinion of the minority is to be reckoned with and that a discussion and debate is necessary within the Party.[4] At the gubernia conference in November elections to the Moscow Committee took place on this platform.[5] A two-room system was applied, and that is already a rift; such a state of affairs, though, can no longer be tolerated. We permitted criticism not for the sake of criticism, but to get a correct decision passed. Moscow has broken the record in discussions. In November there was talk about the Moscow Committee’s wrong line, and 120 votes were given for it. During the discussion, when everyone put forward his own platform, the votes against the Moscow Committee were already less. What democracy is it, if a conference cannot elect the M.C.? After a three-month discussion the blame for the squabbling falls on those who are dissatisfied. Of course, there is the formal right to appeal against a decision, but it is the duty of revolutionaries to rally more closely at difficult moments and not abuse the formal right of appeal.

Sixty-seven Russian newspapers abroad tell us that the S.R.s and others count on setting us at odds in the spring at non-Party conferences. And at such a moment people talk   about appealing against the decision of the conference. You have got to understand what you can appeal for, when and to what extent. We gave everyone a chance to have his say, we held a discussion—and the congress will decide, but now we are at our fighting posts. We have to rally and realise that one more step in the discussion and we are no longer a Party. While not for a moment denying the right to appeal, I say that we performed our duty even without the discussion and should do our duty now. We must send Communists to all the non-Party organisations and explain this difficult situation to them.


[1] The meeting of Party activists was called by the Moscow Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) at an extremely difficult period, when economic dislocation in the country was at its worst.

The purpose of the meeting was to inform the Party activists of the measures taken to improve the supply of Moscow’s working people. The meeting decided to have a report on Soviet Russia’s international and domestic situation included in the agenda of the plenary session of the Moscow Soviet.

[2] This refers to the counter-revolutionary revolt of the Dashnaks in Armenia, which started on February 13, 1921. The Dashnaks received aid in arms and money from the imperialist Govern-ments of Britain, the U.S.A., France, Menshevik Georgia and Turkey. They established a regime of terror and tyranny in the areas which they had seized, burning and razing to the ground villages and towns. The working people of Armenia under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party and with the support of units of the 11th Army of Soviet troops quelled the revolt, liberated the capital of Armenia, Yerevan, on April 4, 1921 and drove out the Dashnaks.

[3] I. N. Smirnov was the Chairman of the Siberian Revolutionary Committee.

[4] This refers to Point 9 of the resolution of the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) “On the Immediate Tasks of Party Organisation” (see The C.P.S. U. in Resolutions, and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenary. Meetings of the Central Committee, Part I, 1954, p. 509).

[5] See present edition, Vol. 31, pp. 408-26.

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