V. I. Lenin

The Second All-Russia Congress of Miners

January 23, 1921[1]

Delivered: 23 & 24 January, 1921
First Published: Published in the Bulleten Vtorogo vserossiiskogo syezda gornorabochikh (Bulletin of the Second All-Russia Congress of Miners ) No. 1, January 25, 1921 and No. 2, January 26, 1921; Published according to the Bulleten text.
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 54-68
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Report On The Role And Tasks Of The Trade Unions Delivered On January 23 At A Meeting Of The Communist Group Of The Congress

Speech Closing The Discussion Delivered At A Meeting Of The Communist Group Of The Congress, January 24

Report On The Role And Tasks Of The Trade Unions Delivered On January 23 At A Meeting Of The Communist Group Of The Congress

The morbid character of the question of the role and tasks of the trade unions is due to the fact that it took the form of a factional struggle much too soon. This vast, boundless question should not have been taken up in such haste, as it was done here, and I put the chief blame on Comrade Trotsky for all this fumbling haste and precipitation. All of us have had occasion to submit inadequately prepared theses to the Central Committee and this is bound to go on because all our work is being done in a rush. This is not a big mistake, for all of us have had to act in haste. Taken by itself, it is a common mistake and is unavoidable because of the extremely difficult objective conditions. All the more reason, therefore, to treat factional, controversial issues with the utmost caution; for in such matters even not very hot-headed persons—something, I’m afraid, I cannot say about my opponent—may all too easily fall into this error. To illustrate my point, and to proceed at once to the heart of the matter, let me read you the chief of Trotsky’s theses.

In his pamphlet, towards the end of thesis No. 12, he writes:

“We observe the fact that as economic tasks move into the foreground, many trade unionists take an ever more aggressive and uncompromising stand against the prospect of ’coalescence’ and the practical conclusions that follow from it. Among them we find Comrades Tomsky and Lozovsky.

“What is more, many trade unionists, balking at the new tasks and methods, tend to cultivate in their midst a spirit of corporative exclusiveness and hostility for the new men who are being drawn into the given branch of the economy, thereby actually fostering the survivals of craft-unionism among the organized workers.”

I could quote many similar passages from Trotsky’s pamphlet. I ask, by way of factional statement: Is it becoming for such an influential person, such a prominent leader, to attack his Party comrades in this way? I am sure that 99 per cent of the comrades, excepting those involved in the quarrel, will say that this should not be done.

I could well understand such a statement if Comrades Tomsky and Lozovsky were guilty, or could be suspected of being guilty, of, say, having flatly refused to sign the Brest Peace Treaty, or of having flatly opposed the war. The revolutionary interest is higher than formal democracy. But it is fundamentally wrong to approach the subject in such haste at the present moment. It won’t do at all. This point says that many trade unionists tend to cultivate in their midst a spirit of hostility and exclusiveness. What does that mean? What sort of talk is this? Is it the right kind of language? Is it the right approach? I had earlier said that I might succeed in acting as a “buffer” and staying out of the discussion, because it is harmful to fight with Trotsky—it does the Republic, the Party, and all of us a lot of harm—but when this pamphlet came out, I felt I had to speak up.

Trotsky writes that “many trade unionists tend to cultivate a spirit of hostility for the new men”. How so? If that is true, those who are doing so should be named. Since this is not done, it is merely a shake-up, a bureaucratic approach to the business. Even if there is a spirit of hostility for the new men, one should not say a thing like that. Trotsky accuses Lozovsky and Tomsky of bureaucratic practices. I would say the reverse is true. It is no use reading any further because the approach has spoiled everything; he has poured a spoonful of tar into the honey, and no matter how much honey he may add now, the whole is already spoiled.

Whose fault is it that many trade unionists tend to cultivate a spirit of hostility for the new men? Of course, a bufferite or a Tsektranite will say it is the trade unionists’.

The fact is that in this case idle fancy and invention have accumulated like the snowdrifts in the storm outside. But, comrades, we must sort things out and get at the substance. And it is that a spirit of hostility has been aroused among the masses by a number of tactless actions. My opponent asserts that certain people have been cultivating a spirit of hostility. This shows that the question is seen in the wrong light. We must sort things out. The All-Russia Conference was held in November, and that is where the “shake-up” catchword was launched. Trotsky was wrong in uttering it. Politically it is clear that such an approach will cause a split and bring down the dictatorship of the proletariat.

We must understand that trade unions are not government departments, like People’s Commissariats, but comprise the whole organised proletariat; that they are a special type of institution and cannot be approached in this way. And when there arose this question of a wrong approach, latent with the danger of a split, I said: “Don’t talk about any broad discussion for the time being; go to the commission and examine the matter carefully over there.” But the comrades said: “No, we can’t do that; it is a violation of democracy.” Comrade Bukharin went so far as to talk about the “sacred slogan of workers’ democracy”. Those are his very words. When I read that I nearly crossed myself. (Laughter.) I insist that a mistake always has a modest beginning and then grows up. Disagreements always start from small things. A slight cut is commonplace, but if it festers, it may result in a fatal illness. And this thing here is a festering wound. In November, there was talk about a shake-up; by December, it had become a big mistake.

The December Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee was against us. The majority sided with Trotsky and carried Trotsky and Bukharin’s resolution, which you must have read. But even the C.C. members who did not sympathise with us had to admit that the water transport workers had more right on their side than Tsektran. That is a fact. When I ask what Tsektran’s fault was, the answer is not that they had brought pressure to bear—that goes to their credit—but that they had allowed bureaucratic excesses.

But once you have realised that you had allowed excesses you ought to rectify them, instead of arguing against rectification. That is all there is to it. It will take decades to overcome the evils of bureaucracy. It is a very difficult struggle, and anyone who says we can rid ourselves of bureaucratic practices overnight by adopting anti-bureaucratic platforms is nothing but a quack with a bent for fine words. Bureaucratic excesses must be rectified right away. We must detect and rectify them without calling bad good, or black white. The workers and peasants realise that they have still to learn the art of government, but they are also very well aware that there are bureaucratic excesses, and it is a double fault to refuse to correct them. This must be done in good time, as the water transport workers have pointed out, and not only when your attention is called to it.

Even the best workers make mistakes. There are excellent workers in Tsektran, and we shall appoint them, and correct their bureaucratic excesses. Comrade Trotsky says that Comrades Tomsky and Lozovsky—trade unionists both—are guilty of cultivating in their midst a spirit of hostility for the new men. But this is monstrous. Only someone in the lunatic fringe can say a thing like that.

This haste leads to arguments, platforms and accusations, and eventually creates the impression that everything is rotten.

You know when people fall out it only takes them a couple of days to start abusing each other’s relatives down to the tenth generation. You ask: “What are you quarrelling over?” “Oh, his aunt was this, and his grandfather was that.” “I don’t mean now; how did the whole thing start?” It turns out that in the course of two days a heap of disagreements has piled up.

Tsektran has allowed excesses in a number of cases, and these were harmful and unnecessary bureaucratic excesses. People are liable to allow excesses everywhere. There are departments with a staff of 30,000 in Moscow alone. That is no joke. There’s something to be corrected, there’s a wall to be scaled. There must be no fear, no thought of causing offence or dissension. To start a factional struggle and accuse Tomsky of cultivating among the masses a spirit of hostility for the Tsektranites is utterly to distort the facts, absolutely to spoil all the work, and entirely to damage all relations with the trade unions. But the trade unions embrace the whole proletariat. If this thing is persisted in and voted on by platforms, it will lead to the downfall of the Soviet power.

If the Party falls out with the trade unions, the fault lies with the Party, and this spells certain doom for the Soviet power. We have no other mainstay but the millions of proletarians, who may not be class conscious, are often ignorant, backward and illiterate, but who, being proletarians, follow their own Party. For twenty years they have regarded this Party as their own. Next comes a class which is not ours, which may side with us, if we are wise and if we pursue a correct policy within our own class. We have now reached the supreme moment of our revolution: we have roused the proletarian masses and the masses of poor peasants in the rural areas to give us their conscious support. No revolution has ever done this before. There is no class that can overthrow us: the majority of the proletarians and the rural poor are behind us. Nothing can ruin us but our own mistakes. This “but” is the whole point. If we cause a split, for which we are to blame, everything will collapse because the trade unions are not only an official institution, but also the source of all our power. They are the class which the economics of capitalism has converted into the economic amalgamator, and which through its industry brings together millions of scattered peasants. That is why one proletarian has more strength than 200 peasants.

That is just why Trotsky’s whole approach is wrong. I could have analysed any one of his theses, but it would take me hours, and you would all be bored to death. Every thesis reveals the same thoroughly wrong approach: “Many trade unionists tend to cultivate a spirit of hostility.” There is a spirit of hostility for us among the trade union rank and file because of our mistakes, and the bureaucratic practices up on top, including myself, because it was I who appointed Glavpolitput. What is to be done? Are things to be set right? We must correct Tsektran’s excesses, once we realise that we are a solid workers’ party, with a firm footing, and a head on its shoulders. We are not renouncing either the method of appointment, or the dictatorship. This will not be tolerated by workers with a twenty years’ schooling in Russia. If we condone this mistakes we shall surely be brought down. It is a mistake, and that is the root of the matter.

Trotsky says Lozovsky and Tomsky are balking at the new tasks. To prove this will put a new face on the matter. What are the new tasks?

Here we are told: “production atmosphere”, “industrial democracy” and “role in production”. I said, at the very outset, in the December 30 discussion, that that was nothing but words, which the workers did not understand, and that it was all part of the task of production propaganda. We are not renouncing the dictatorship, or one-man management; these remain, I will support them, but I refuse to defend excesses and stupidity. “Production atmosphere” is a funny phrase that will make the workers laugh. Saying it more simply and clearly is all part of production propaganda. But a special institution has been set up for the purpose.

About enhancing the role of the trade unions in production, I replied on December 30 and in the press, and said that we have Comrade Rudzutak’s resolution, which was adopted at the Conference on November 5. Comrades Trotsky and Bukharin said that Tsektran had drafted this resolution. Although this has been refuted, let me ask: if they had drafted it, who, in that case, is kicking? The trade unions adopted it and Tsektran drafted it. Well and good. There’s no point, therefore, in quarrelling like children and raising factional disagreements. Has Comrade Trotsky brought up any new tasks? No, he hasn’t. The fact is that his new points are all worse than the old ones. Comrade Trotsky is campaigning to get the Party to condemn those who are balking at new tasks, and Tomsky and Lozovsky have been named as the greatest sinners.

Rudzutak’s resolution is couched in clearer and simpler language, and has nothing in it like “production atmosphere” or “industrial democracy”. It says clearly that every trade union member must be aware of the vital necessity of increasing productivity in the country. It is put in simple and intelligible language. All this is stated better than in Trotsky’s theses, and more fully, because bonuses in kind and disciplinary courts have been added. Without the latter, all this talk of getting the transport system going and improving things is humbug. Let us set up commissions and disciplinary courts. In this matter Tsektran has allowed excesses. We propose calling a spade a spade: it is no use covering up excesses with new tasks; they must be corrected. We have no intention of renouncing coercion. No sober-minded worker would go so far as to say that we could now dispense with coercion, or that we could dissolve the trade unions, or let them have the whole of industry. I can imagine Comrade Shlyapnikov blurting out a thing like that.

In the whole of his speech there is one excellent passage on the experience of the Sormovo Works, where, he said, absenteeism was reduced by 30 per cent. This is said to be true. But I am a suspicious sort, I suggest that a commission be sent there to investigate and make a comparison of Nizhni-Novgorod and Petrograd. There is no need to have a meeting about this: it can all be done in commission. Trotsky says that there is an attempt to prevent coalescence, but that is nonsense. He says we must go forward. Indeed, if the engine is good; but if it isn’t, we must put it into reverse. The Party will benefit from this, because we must study experience.

Production is at a standstill, but some people have been busy producing bad theses. This question requires study and experience. You are trade unionists and miners who are doing their job. Now since you have taken up this question, you must inquire, demand figures, verify them over and over again—don’t take any statements for granted—and when you have done that, let us know the result. If it is good, then go on; if it is bad, go back. This means work, not talk. All this should have been done at Party meetings.

At the Eighth Congress of Soviets, I said that we ought to have less politics. When I said that I thought we would have no more political mistakes, but here we are, three years after the Soviet revolution, talking about syndicalism. This is a shame. If I had been told six months ago that I would be writing about syndicalism, I would have said that I preferred to write about the Donbas. Now we are being distracted, and the Party is being dragged back. A small mistake is growing into a big one. That is where Comrade Shlyapnikov comes in. Point 16 of Comrade Trotsky’s theses gives a correct definition of Shlyapnikov’s mistake.

In an effort to act the buffer, Bukharin clutched at Shlyapnikov, but it would have been better for him to clutch at a straw. He promises the unions mandatory nominations, which means they are to have the final say in appointments. But that is exactly what Shlyapnikov is saying. Marxists have been combating syndicalism all over the world. We have been fighting in the Party for over twenty years, and we have given the workers visual proof that the Party is a special kind of thing which needs forward-looking men prepared for sacrifice; that it does make mistakes, but corrects them; that it guides and selects men who know the way and the obstacles before us. It does not deceive the workers. It never makes promises that cannot be kept. And if you skip the trade unions you will make a hash of everything we have achieved over the past three years. Comrade Bukharin, with whom I discussed this mistake, said. “Comrade Lenin, you are picking on us.”

I take mandatory nominations to mean that they will be made under the direction of the Party’s Central Committee. But in that case, what are the rights we are giving them? There will then be no chance of having a bloc. The workers and the peasants are two distinct classes. Let us talk about vesting the rights in the trade unions when electricity has spread over the whole country—if we manage to achieve this in twenty years it will be incredibly quick work, for it cannot be done quickly. To talk about it before then will be deceiving the workers. The dictatorship of the proletariat is the most stable thing in the world because it has won confidence by its deeds, and because the Party took great care to prevent diffusion.

What does that mean?

Does every worker know how to run the state? People working in the practical sphere know that this is not true, that millions of our organised workers are going through what we always said the trade unions were, namely, a school of communism and administration. When they have attended this school for a number of years they will have learned to administer, but the going is slow. We have not even abolished illiteracy. We know that workers in touch with peasants are liable to fall for non-proletarian slogans. How many of the workers have been engaged in government? A few thousand throughout Russia and no more. If we say that it is not the Party but the trade unions that put up the candidates and administrate, it may sound very democratic and might help us to catch a few votes, but not for long. It will be fatal for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Read the decision of the Second Congress of the Comintern. [2] Its resolutions and decisions have gone round the world. The recent Socialist Congress in France revealed that we have won a majority in a country where chauvinism is most virulent; we have split the Party and ejected the corrupt leaders, and we did this in opposition to the syndicalists.[3] And all the best workers and leaders there have adopted our theory. Even syndicalists—revolutionary syndicalists—are siding with us all over the world. I myself have met American syndicalists who, after a visit to this country, say: “Indeed, you cannot lead the proletariat without a Party.” You all know that this is a fact. And it is quite improper for the proletariat to rush into the arms of syndicalism and talk about mandatory nominations to “all-Russia producers’ congresses”. This is dangerous and jeopardizes the Party’s guiding role. Only a very small percentage of the workers in the country are now organised. The majority of the peasants will follow the Party because its policy is correct, and because, during the Brest peace ordeal, it was capable of making temporary sacrifices and retreats, which was the right thing to do. Are we to throw all this away? Was it all a windfall? No, it was all won by the Party in decades of hard work. Everybody believes the word of the Bolsheviks, who have had twenty years of Party training.

To govern you need an army of steeled revolutionary Communists. We have it, and it is called the Party. All this syndicalist nonsense about mandatory nominations of producers must go into the wastepaper basket. To proceed on those lines would mean thrusting the Party aside and making the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia impossible. This is the view I believe it to be my Party duty to put to you. It is, in my opinion, enunciated in the form of practical propositions in the platform called Draft Decision of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. and signed by Lenin, Zinoviev, Tomsky, Rudzutak, Kalinin, Kamenev, Lozovsky, Petrovsky, Sergeyev and Stalin. Lozovsky, who is not a member of the Central Committee, was included because he was on the trade union commission from which Shlyapnikov and Lutovinov, unfortunately, resigned. It is up to the workers to decide whether Shlyapnikov was right in resigning, and he will be censured, if he was wrong. I am convinced that all class-conscious workers will accept this platform and that the present disagreements in our Party will be confined to fever at the top. I am sure the workers will put them right, remain at their posts, maintain Party discipline and join in an efficient but careful drive to increase production and secure full victory for our cause. (Prolonged applause.)

Speech Closing The Discussion Delivered At A Meeting Of The Communist Group Of The Congress January 24

Comrades, I should like to begin by speaking about who is trying to intimidate whom, and about Comrade Shlyapnikov, who has tried hard to scare us. Everyone here said Lenin was trying to raise the bogey of syndicalism. This is ridiculous because the very idea of using syndicalism as a bogey is ridiculous. I think we ought to start with our programmes, by reading the Programme of the Communist Party to see what it says. Comrades Trotsky and Shlyapnikov referred to the same passage which happens to be its Paragraph 5. Let me read it to you in full:

“5. The organisational apparatus of socialised industry should rely chiefly on the trade unions, which must to an ever increasing degree divest themselves of the narrow craft-union spirit and become large industrial associations, embracing the majority, and eventually all of the workers in the given branch of industry.”

Comrade Shlyapnikov quoted this passage in his speech. But, if the figures were correct, those who were managing the organisations constituted 60 per cent, and these consisted of workers. Furthermore, when reference is made to the Programme, this should be done properly, bearing in mind that Party members know it thoroughly, and do not confine themselves to reading one extract, as Trotsky and Shlyapnikov have done. Comrades, there is much history to show that the workers cannot organise otherwise than by industries. That is why the idea of industrial unionism has been adopted all over the world. That is for the time being, of course. There is talk about the need to cast off the narrow craft-union spirit. I ask you, has this been done to, say, a tenth? Of course, not, is the sincere answer. Why forget this?

Who is it who says to the unions: “You have not yet divested yourselves of the narrow craft-union spirit, and must get on with it”? It is the R.C.P. which does this in its Programme. Read it. To depart from this is to abandon the Programme for syndicalism. Despite the hints at Lenin’s “intimidation”, the Programme is still there. You depart from it by quoting the first part and forgetting the second. In which direction? Towards syndicalism. Let me read further:

“The trade unions being, on the strength of the laws of the Soviet Republic and established practice, participants in all the local and central organs of industrial management, should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration in their hands of the whole administration of the whole national economy, as a single economic entity.”

Everyone makes references to this paragraph. What does it say? Something that is absolutely indisputable: “should eventually arrive.” It does not say that they are arriving. It does not contain the exaggeration which, once made, reduces the whole to an absurdity. It says, “should eventually arrive”. Arrive where? At a de facto concentration and administration. When are you due to arrive at this point? This calls for education, and it must be so organised as to teach everyone the art of administration. Now can you say, with a clear conscience, that the trade unions are able to fill any number of executive posts with suitable men at any time? After all, it is not six million, but sixty thousand or, say, a hundred thousand men that you need to fill all the executive posts. Can they nominate this number? No, they cannot—not yet—as anyone will say who is not chasing after formulas and theses and is not misled by the loudest voices. Years of educational work lie ahead for the Party, ranging from the abolition of illiteracy to the whole round of Party work in the trade unions. An enormous amount of work must be done in the trade unions to achieve this properly. This is exactly what it- says: “should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration in their hands of the whole administration of the whole national economy”. It does not say branches of industry, as Trotsky does in his theses. One of his first theses quotes the Programme correctly, but another one says: organisation of industry. I’m afraid that is no way to quote. When you are writing some theses and you want to quote the Programme, you must read it to the end. Anyone who takes the trouble to read this Paragraph 5 right through and give it ten minutes’ thought will see that Shlyapnikov has departed from the Programme, and that Trotsky has leaped over it. Let’s read Paragraph 5 to the end:

“The trade unions, ensuring in this way indissoluble ties between the central state administration, the national economy and the broad masses of working people, should draw the latter into direct economic management on the widest possible scale. At the same time, the participation of the trade unions in economic management and their activity in drawing the broad masses into this work are the principal means of combating the bureaucratisation of the economic apparatus of the Soviet power and making possible the establishment of truly popular control over the results of production.”

You find that you must first achieve de facto concentration. But what are you ensuring now? First, there are the ties within the central state administration. This is a huge machine. You have not yet taught us to master it. And so, you must ensure ties between the central state administration—that ’s one; national economy—that’s two; and the masses—that’s three. Have we got those ties? Are the trade unions capable of administration? Anybody over thirty years of age with some little practical experience of Soviet organisation will laugh at this. Read the following:

“At the same time, the participation of the trade unions in economic management and their activity in drawing the broad masses into this work are the principal means of combating the bureaucratisation of the economic apparatus of the Soviet power and making possible the establishment of truly popular control over the results of production.”

First, there is need to create ties between the central state organisations. We have no intention of concealing this malaise, and our Programme says: ensure ties with the masses, and ensure the participation of the trade unions in economic management. There are no loud words in this. When you have done that in such a way as to reduce absenteeism by, say, 3 per cent—let alone 30—we shall say: you have done a fine job. Our present Programme says: “. . . the participation of the trade unions in economic management and their activity in drawing the broad masses into this work. . . .” It does not contain a single promise or a single loud word; nor does it say anything about your doing the electing. It does not resort to demagogy, but says that there is an ignorant, backward mass, that there are trade unions, which are so strong that they are leading the whole of the peasantry, and which themselves follow the lead of the Party, with a twenty-year schooling in the fight against tsarism. No country has gone through what Russia has, and that is the secret of our strength. Why is this regarded as a miracle? Because in a peasant country, only the trade unions can provide the economic bonds to unite millions of scattered farms, if this mass of six million has faith in its Party, and continues to follow it as it had hitherto. That is the secret of our strength, and the way it works is a political question. How can a minority govern a huge peasant country, and why are we so composed? After our three years’ experience, there is no external or internal force that can break us. Provided we do not make any extra stupid mistakes leading to splits, we shall retain our positions; otherwise everything will go to the dogs. That is why, when Comrade Shlyapnikov says in his platform: “The All-Russia Congress of Producers shall elect a body to administer the whole national economy,” I say: read the whole of Paragraph 5 of our Programme, which I have read out to you, and you will see that there is no attempt at intimidation either on Lenin’s or anyone else’s part.

Shlyapnikov concluded his speech by saying: “We must eliminate bureaucratic methods in government and the national economy.” I say this is demagogy. We have had this question of bureaucratic practices on the agenda since last July. After the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P. last July, Preobrazhensky also asked: Are we not suffering from bureaucratic excesses? Watch out! In August, the Central Committee endorsed Zinoviev’s letter: Combat the evils of bureaucracy. The Party Conference met in September, and endorsed it. So, after all, it was not Lenin who invented some new path, as Trotsky says, but the Party which said: “Watch out: there’s a new malaise.” Preobrazhensky raised this question in July; we had Zinoviev’s letter in August; there was the Party Conference in September and we had a long report on bureaucratic practices at the Congress of Soviets in December. The malaise is there. In our 1919 Programme we wrote that bureaucratic practices existed. Whoever comes out and demands a stop to bureaucratic practices is a demagogue. When you are called upon to “put a stop to bureaucratic practices”, it is demagogy. It is nonsense. We shall be fighting the evils of bureaucracy for many years to come, and whoever thinks otherwise is playing demagogue and cheating, because overcoming the evils of bureaucracy requires hundreds of measures, wholesale literacy, culture and participation in the activity of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection.[4] Shlyapnikov has been People’s Commissar for Labour and People’s Commissar for Trade and Industry. Has he put a stop to bureaucratic practices? Kiselyov has been on the Central Board of the Textile Industry. Has he put a stop to the evils of bureaucracy?

Let me say this once again: We shall have grown up when all our congresses resolve themselves into sections and marshal the facts about coalescence among the millers and the Donbas miners. But writing a string of useless platforms shows up our poor economic leadership. I repeat that nothing can break us, neither external nor internal forces, if we do not lead things up to a split. I say that Tsektran is more than a bludgeon, but exaggerating this has led up to a split. Anyone can be guilty of an excess of bureaucratic practices, and the Central Committee is aware of it, and is responsible for it. In this respect, Comrade Trotsky’s mistake lies in that he drew up his theses in the wrong spirit. They are all couched in terms of a shake-up, and they have all led to a split in the union. It is not a matter of giving Trotsky bad marks—we are not schoolchildren and have no use for marks—but we must say that his theses are wrong in content and must therefore be rejected.


[1] The Congress was held in Moscow’s Trade Union House from January 25 to February 2, 1921. It was attended by 341 delegates, of whom 295 had voice and vote, and 46, voice only. They represented more than 332,000 members of the Miners’ Trade Union. Lenin and Kalinin were Honorary Chairmen.

The items on its agenda were: report of the Miners’ Trade Union Central Committee; reports of the Mining Council and its departments; fuel supply problems; tasks of the trade union; organisation of production; wage rates; organisation; cultural and educational work; labour safety measures; international ties; concessions, and election of a new Trade Union Central Committee. The Congress decided to issue an appeal for unity to the organised workers of all countries.

Prior to the Congress, on January 22-24, the R.C.P.(B.) group had four meetings to discuss the trade unions’ role and tasks, which were addressed by Lenin, Trotsky and Shlyapnikov. The absolute majority of the group supported Lenin’s platform, which won 137 votes; Shlyapnikov’s received 61, and Trotsky’s, 8.

The Congress helped to solve the fuel crisis and work out production programmes for the mining industry.

[2]The reference is to the resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist International, “On the Role of the Communist Party in the Proletarian Revolution”. See Vtoroi kongress Kominterna (Second Congress of the Communist International, Moscow, 1934, pp. 640-46).

[3] The reference is to the Eighteenth Congress of the French Socialist Party in Tours, December 25-30, 1920. It was attended by 285 delegates with 4,575 mandates. The main question on the agenda was the Party’s affiliation to the Communist International. The issue was a foregone conclusion because at the federation congresses held before the national Congress, an absolute majority had voted for immediate entry into the Third International on the basis of the 21 conditions. Still there was a bitter struggle at the Congress between supporters of affiliation (Paul Vaillant Couturier, Marcel Cachin, Daniel Renoult) and its opponents (Leon Blum, Jean Longuet, Marcel Sembat and others). Clara Zetkin, who had come to the Congress in spite of the French Government’s ban and police harassment, delivered a brilliant speech and conveyed greetings on behalf of the Communist International.

After a four-day debate, the delegates voted for affiliation by 3,208 mandates, or more than 70 per cent.

The majority set up the Communist Party of France, which was finally formed in May 1921. The minority, led by Leon Blum, aimed at splitting the workers’ movement, and walked out of the Congress, forming their own reformist party, which retained the old name of the French Socialist Party.

[4] The Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection (Rabkrin) was set up in February 1920 on Lenin’s initiative, on the basis of the reorganised People’s Commissariat for State Control which had been formed in the early months of the Soviet power.

Lenin attached great importance to control and verification from top to bottom. He worked out in detail the principles of organising control in the Soviet state, kept an eye on Rabkrin’s activity, criticised its shortcomings and did his best to make it more efficient. In his last articles, “How We Should Reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection” and “Better Fewer but Better”, Lenin outlined a plan for reorganising Rabkrin. To merge Party and state control and to enlist more workers and peasants in its activity were the basic principles of Lenin’s plan, and this he regarded as the source of the Party’s and the state’s inexhaustible strength. On Lenin’s instructions, the Party’s Twelfth Congress set up a joint organ, the Central Control Commission and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, to exercise Party and state control.

During Stalin’s personality cult, these principles were violated, and Lenin’s system of control was substituted by a bureaucratic apparatus. In 1934, Stalin secured a decision to set up two control centres—the Central Committee’s Party Control Commission, and the Government’s Soviet Control Commission. The People’s Commissariat for State Control of the U.S.S.R. was set up in 1940; it was reorganised into the Ministry for State Control in 1946, and later, into the Commission for State Control. Pursuant to a decision of the Twenty-Second Congress, which stressed the importance of Party, state and mass control, the November 1962 Central Committee Plenary Meeting deemed it necessary to reorganise the system of control on Leninist principles. The Party and State Control Committee of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U. and the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. was set up under a decision of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U., the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers on November 27, 1962.