First published in 1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV.
Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 90c-92a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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Yesterday I saw Ivan Afanasyevich Chekunov. It turned out that he had already been to see me in 1919 on the question of a congress of toiling peasants. Now he says: it is better to start with regional ones.
He Sympathises with the Communists, but will not join the Party, because he goes to church and is a Christian (he says he rejects the ritual but is a believer).
He has been improving his farm. He has toured Nizhni-Novgorod and Simbirsk gubernias. He says the peasants have lost confidence in the Soviet power. I asked him whether we could right things with a tax? He thinks we could. In his own uyezd, he has succeeded, with the help of the workers, to substitute a good Soviet authority for the bad one.
That is the kind of people we must do our utmost to hold on to, in order to restore the confidence of the peasant mass. This is the main political task and one which brooks no delay. My earnest request: see that the “apparatus” standpoint does not run away with you, and do not worry too much over it. Devote more attention to the political attitude towards the peasantry.
I think we must “capture” Chekunov immediately, i.e., involve him in our activity. How are we to do this? This needs thinking about. Perhaps we should set up right away (rather start) a “toiling peasant council” or a “non-Party peasant council” (perhaps, the latter name is more guarded for keeping out those whom Chekunov calls the “hissers”, i.e., the downright kulaks and enemies of the Soviet power). Chekunov should be appointed right away as the authorised representative of the People’s Commissariat for Agriculture to organise (or prepare) such an institution. He should be urgently sent to Simbirsk Gubernia (we need an adviser and a mediator from a gubernia with surplus grain, better two mediators) and be given this assignment: to bring us over here from Simbirsk Gubernia (where he knows various people) a non-Party Russian peasant, a man advanced in years and a farmer, who favours the toiling peasants and the workers, and is not a “hisser”. Another one must also be found. Three would be best: Chekunov+the man from Simbirsk+another from a gubernia not growing grain. This trio of “old men” (it would be good for all of them to be both non-Party men and Christians) we will at once turn either into non-voting members of the collegium, or into the nucleus of a “non-Party peasant council”, or a similar corporation.
This must be done speedily, at once (he intends to leave the day after tomorrow).
Strike while the iron’s hot. Let me have your reply.
With communist greetings,