V. I. Lenin

Instructions of the Council of Labour and Defence To Local Soviet Bodies[1]


Written: 21 May, 1921
First Published: 1921; Published according to the text of the pamphlet collated with the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 375-398
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

The primary task of the Soviet Republic is to restore the productive forces and revive agriculture, industry and transport. The ruin and impoverishment caused everywhere by the imperialist war are so vast that an economic crisis is raging throughout the world, and even in the advanced countries, which before the war were way ahead of Russia in their development and which suffered much less from the war than she did, economic rehabilitation is proceeding with enormous difficulty and will take many long years. This situation prevails even in many of the “victor” countries, despite the fact that they are allied with the richest capitalist powers and are exacting a fat tribute from the defeated, dependent and colonial countries.

Backward Russia, which in addition to the imperialist war endured more than three years of civil war, imposed upon the workers and peasants by the landowners and capitalists with the help of the world bourgeoisie, naturally finds the difficulties of economic rehabilitation so much more formidable. The heavy crop failure in 1920, the lack of fodder and the loss of cattle have had a disastrous effect on peasant farming.

In conformity with the law passed by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, a tax in kind has been substituted for the surplus appropriation system. The farmer is free to exchange his surplus produce for various goods. The tax rates have been announced by order of the Council of People’s Commissars. The tax amounts to approximately one-half of the produce obtained under the surplus appropriation system. The Council of People’s Commissars has issued a new law on the co-operative societies giving them wider powers in view of the free exchange of surplus farm produce.

These laws have done a great deal for the immediate improvement of the condition of peasant farming and stimulation of peasant interest in enlarging the area under crop and improving methods of farming and livestock breeding. They have also done much to help revive and develop small local industry which can do without the procurement and transportation of large state stocks of food, raw materials and fuel.

Particularly great importance now attaches to independent local initiative in improving peasant farming, developing industry and establishing exchange between agriculture and industry. Great opportunities are being created for the application of new forces and fresh energy to the work of restoring the country ‘s economy.

The Council of Labour and Defence, upon whom, in pursuance of the decision of the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, devolves the duty of co-ordinating and directing the activity of the People’s Commissariats for the various sectors of the economy, insistently urges all local bodies to do their utmost to develop extensive activities for the all-round improvement of peasant farming and the revival of industry, in strict conformity with the new laws and in the light of the fundamental propositions and instructions given below.

We now have two main criteria of success in our work of economic development on a nation-wide scale. First success in the speedy, full and, from the state point of view, proper collection of the tax in kind; and second—and this is particularly important—success in the exchange of manufactured goods for agricultural produce between industry and agriculture.

This is most vital, urgent and imperative. It will put all our efforts to the test and lay the foundations for implementing our great electrification plan, which will result in the restoration of our large-scale industry and transport to such proportions and on such a technical basis that we shall overcome starvation and poverty once and for all.

We must collect 100 per cent of the tax in kind, and, in addition, an equal quantity of food products through the free exchange of surplus farm produce for manufactured goods. Of course, this will not be achieved everywhere all at once, but it should be our short-term goal. We can achieve it in a very short time if we take the right view of the state of our economy and put our hearts into reviving it the right way. All local authorities and bodies in every gubernia, uyezd, regional centre and autonomous republic must join forces and co-ordinate their efforts to stimulate the exchange of surplus produce. Experience will show how far we can do this by increasing the output and delivery of goods made by the state in the big socialist factories. It will show how far we succeed in encouraging and developing small local industry, and what part will be played in this by the co-operative societies and the private traders, manufacturers and capitalists who are under state control. We must try out every method, giving the utmost scope to local initiative. The new task before us has never been tackled anywhere else before. We are trying to solve it in the conditions of post-war ruin, which prevent any precise estimation of our resources or of the effort we can expect of the workers and peasants, who have made such incredible sacrifices to defeat the landowners and capitalists. We must be bolder in widely applying a variety of methods and taking different approaches, giving rein to capital and private trade in varying degree, without being afraid to implant some capitalism, as long as we succeed in stimulating exchange at once and thereby revive agriculture and industry. We must ascertain the country ‘s resources by practical experience, and determine the best way to improve the condition of the workers and peasants to enable us to proceed with the wider and more fundamental work of building up the economy and implementing the electrification plan.

The two main questions to which every Soviet official engaged in economic work must pay attention are: how much of their surplus farm produce, over and above the tax, have the peasants exchanged for the manufactures of small industry and private trade, and how much for manufactured goods provided by the state? These are the main lines to follow over the short haul in order to achieve the greatest results. They will provide the success indicators and enable us to decide on the subsequent tasks. Every aspect of economic construction in general must be geared to these two immediate tasks.

To attain this co-ordination, encourage local initiative, enterprise and large-scale operations to the utmost, and make sure that central bodies are guided by local experience and local supervision, and vice versa, thereby eliminating red tape and bureaucratic practices, the Council of Labour and Defence has ordered (see text of the order) that:

first, regular economic conferences should be convened in all districts for the purpose of co-ordinating the work .of the local departments of all the People’s Commissariats for the various sectors of the economy;

second, proper records of the local economic conferences should be kept to facilitate the pooling of experience and the organising of emulation, and mainly, to utilise the work of the local organisations and its results as a means of checking up on the methods and organisation of the central bodies.

The local economic conferences should be organised on the lines of the C.L.D. (Council of Labour and Defence) and their relationship with the local executive committees should be similar to those between the C.L.D. and the Council of People’s Commissars. The C.L.D. functions as a commission of the Council of People’s Commissars. The appointment of members of the Council of People’s Commissars to the C.L.D. ensures the fullest co-ordination of the work of both bodies, eliminates the possibility of any friction between them, expedites matters and simplifies procedures. Having no staff of its own, the C.L.D. utilises that of various government departments, striving to simplify their procedures and co-ordinate their operations.

gubernia economic councils should stand in the same relationship to the gubernia executive committees, and that is the actual trend in practice. The C.L.D., in confirming the appointment of members and chairmen of regional and territorial economic councils, strives to take account of the experience of local workers and consults with them on all its confirmations. The regional economic councils must certainly strive, and will continue to strive, to co-ordinate their work with that of the gubernia economic councils, securing their fullest co-operation, keeping them informed and stimulating their interest. This is hardly the time to try to reduce these relationships to a set of regulations, for experience is still very short and any such attempt might result in a purely bureaucratic exercise. It is far more appropriate to allow practice to determine initially the most suitable form of relationship (the C.L.D. worked side by side with the Council of People ‘s Commissars for about a year, virtually without a constitution). Let these forms be at first not absolutely stable: variety is desirable, useful and even necessary to enable us to make a more precise study and a fuller comparison of the various systems of relationships.

Uyezd and volost economic councils should-be organised on the same lines, naturally with a lot of leeway in modifying the main type, that is, the executive committees may assume all the functions and duties of the economic conferences, convert their own “executive” or “economic” meetings into economic conferences, appoint (say, in the volosts and sometimes in the uyezds) special committees or even individuals to exercise all or some of the functions of the economic conferences, and so on and so forth. The village committees should be the bottom rung and should operate as the lower units of the C.L.D. in the rural districts. The Council of People’s Commissars has already passed a law, issued in May 1921, which gives the village committees wider powers and defines their relationship with the village Soviets. The gubernia executive committees must draw up provisional regulations suitable for the given locality which, however, must not restrict, but give the greatest possible scope to “local” initiative in general, and that of the lowest units in particular.

In industrial uyezds and settlements, the district committees and factory committees, or the management boards of factories, should serve as the lower units of the C.L.D., depending on whether one or more branches of industry are being dealt with. In any case, co-operation with theuyezdexecutive committees, volost executive committees and village committees in directing all local economic life is absolutely essential in one form or another.

Furthermore, it is exceptionally important that local organisations should submit to the C.L.D. regular and precise information on their activity, for one of our main evils is the inadequate study of practical experience, inadequate exchange of experience and mutual control—putting orders from the centre to the test of local experience, and subjecting local work to control by the centre. One of the most important means of combating bureaucratic practices and red tape should be to check the way the laws and orders from the centre are carried out locally, and this requires the printing of public reports, with non-Party people and people not working in the departments necessarily taking a greater hand. Nashe Khozyaistvo, “the fortnightly journal of the Tver gubernia Economic Council” (No. 1, April 15, 1921; No. 2, April 30, 1921), is evidence that the local need to study, elucidate and publicise the results of our economic experience is being realised and satisfied the correct way. It will not be possible, of course, to publish a journal in every gubernia, not within the next few months, at any rate; nor will it be possible everywhere to have a fortnightly printing of 3,000 copies, as is the case in Tver. But every gubernia, and every uyezd even, can—and should—compile a report on local economic activities once every two months (or initially at longer intervals, by way of exception) and issue it in a printing of, say, 100 to 300 copies. The paper and the printing facilities for such a small operation will surely be found everywhere, provided we realise its urgency and importance, and see the necessity to satisfy this need by taking the paper from many of the departments which print a mass of useless and hardly urgent material. The copy could be set up in small type and printed in two columns (as the comrades in Tver are doing); the feasibility and urgency of this will be quite clear if we realise the simple truth that even a hundred copies, distributed one to every gubernia library and all the major state libraries, will provide a source of information for the whole of Russia, which may perhaps be scanty but sure, and will serve as a record of experience.

These reports must be published regularly, even if in small printings, in order to maintain a proper record of experience, and actually pool it, and enlist all the prominent and capable organisers among the non-Party people. This is something we can and must do immediately.

When drawing up the reports, the questions put must be answered as briefly and precisely as possible. The questions fall into four groups, the first being those especially prominent at the present time. They must be answered in every report with the maximum precision and in the greatest detail. That is particularly necessary because this group of questions is extremely vital and urgent for most uyezds at this very moment. Other questions will come to the fore for the smaller part of the uyezds and districts, that is, the purely industrial ones. The second group consists of questions which must also be answered in every report, but the answers can and should frequently be given in the form of brief summaries of reports already submitted to the government departments concerned. In all such cases, the reports to the C.L.D. must give: the dates on which the reports were sent off; the departments to which they were sent; and a brief summary of the reports in figures. The C.L.D. requires such reports for supervision over the various departments, as well as for the totals indicating the results in food supplies, fuel, industry, and so forth. The third group contains questions that need not be answered in every report. The answers to these questions must be given initially, that is, in the first report, but subsequent reports should add only the supplementary and new information as it accumulates. In many cases, there will be nothing to report at all on these questions every two months. The fourth group consists of miscellaneous, supplementary questions, which are not indicated in advance; they are not formulated by the centre but arise locally. This group must be compiled by the local bodies, and is not limited in any-way. It goes without saying that questions pertaining to state secrets (army, or such as are connected with military operations, security, etc.) must be answered in special reports not for publication, but intended exclusively for the C.L.D. as confidential reports.

Here is a list of these questions:

First Group Of Questions

1. Commodity Exchange With The Peasantry

At present, this question ranks first in importance and urgency. First, the state cannot carry on any economic development unless the army and the urban workers have regular and adequate supplies of food; the exchange of commodities must become the principal means of collecting foodstuffs. Secondly, commodity exchange is a test of the relationship between industry and agriculture and the foundation of all our work to create a fairly well regulated monetary system. All economic councils and all economic bodies must now concentrate on commodity exchange (which also includes the exchange of manufactured goods, for the manufactured goods made by socialist factories and exchanged for the foodstuffs produced by the peasants are not commodities in the politico-economic sense of the word; at any rate, they are not only commodities, they are no longer commodities, they are ceasing to be commodities).

What preparations have been made for commodity exchange? What has been done specifically to prepare for it? By the Commissariat for Food? By the co-operative societies? The number of co-operative shops available for this purpose? Are there such shops in every volost? In how many villages? Stock of goods for commodity exchange? Prices on the “free” market? Surplus stocks of grain and other farm produce? Is there any, and how much, experience in commodity exchange? Totals and results? What is being done to prevent the pilferage of goods stocks earmarked for exchange, and of food stocks (a particularly important point demanding investigation of every case of pilferage)?

Salt and paraffin oil as articles for commodity exchange? Textiles? Other goods? What items are needed most? What are the chief peasant shortages? What can be supplied by local, small, handicraft industry? Or by developing local industry?

Facts and figures showing how commodity exchange is organised and the results achieved are most important for the conduct of the experiment on a country-wide scale.

Has the proper relationship been established between the Commissariat for Food, the body controlling and supervising commodity exchange, and the co-operative societies, the bodies carrying on commodity exchange? How does this relationship operate in practice? In each locality?

What part does private trade play in commodity exchange? To what extent is private trade developing, or developed? Number of private traders; their turnover in the major items, particularly foodstuffs?

2. The State’s Attitude To The Capitalists

Commodity exchange and freedom of trade inevitably imply the appearance of capitalists and capitalist relationships. There is no reason to fear this. The workers’ state has enough resources to keep within the proper bounds and control these relationships, which are useful and necessary in conditions of small-scale production. The thing to do at present is to make a close study of their dimensions and devise suitable methods (not restrictive, or rather, not prohibitive) of state control and accountancy.

To what extent is private trade developing as a result of the substitution of the tax for the surplus appropriation system? Can it be estimated or not? Is it only profiteering or regular trade as well? Is it registered, and if so, what are the results?

Private enterprise: have there been any offers from capitalists and entrepreneurs to lease enterprises or establishments, or commercial premises? Exact number of such offers and an analysis of them? How are the results of trading operations assessed (if only approximately)? Ditto as regards the accounts of leaseholders and commission agents, if any?

Have there been any offers from commission agents? To buy produce for the state on a commission basis? Or to market and distribute it? Or to organise industrial enterprises?

Handicraft industry: changes since the introduction of the tax in kind? Extent of development? Source of information?

3. Encouragement Of Enterprise In Commodity Exchange,
And In Economic Development In General

This question is closely bound up with the preceding one. The encouragement of initiative may often prove to have no connection with capitalist relationships. All economic councils and economic bodies in general should ask them- selves: how is this to be encouraged? In view of the novelty of the task, it is scarcely possible to issue any definite instructions at present. The thing is to pay great attention to the question, encourage all initiative in economic matters, make a careful study of practical experience and let the country know what is being done.

When the small farmer pays his tax to the state and enters into commodity exchange with it (with the socialist factory) the economic situation created imperatively demands that the state, through its local bodies, should give all possible encouragement to enterprise and initiative. The exchange of the observations and experience of local bodies will enable us to collect material, and later on, perhaps, to supplement this general and inadequate formulation of the question with a number of examples and detailed instructions.

4. Co-Ordination Of The Economic Work
Of Various Departments In The Local Administrative Areas:
volosts, uyezds And gubernias

One of the great evils hindering our economic development is the absence of co-ordination in the work of the various local departments. Great attention must be devoted to this question. It is the function of the economic councils to eliminate this flaw and to stimulate the enterprise of local bodies. There must be a collection of practical examples to secure improvements and hold out the successful cases as a model for all. During the extreme food shortage, for instance, it was natural and inevitable that local bodies should be highly restricted in making decisions on the use of grain collected. As grain stocks increase, and under appropriate control, they must have a freer hand to do so. This can and should help to reduce red tape, cut down haulage of goods, encourage production and improve the condition of the workers and peasants. The food supply, small local industry, fuel, large-scale state industry, etc., are all bound up together, and their necessary division into “departments” for the purposes of state administration will cause harm unless constant efforts are made to co-ordinate them, remove friction, red tape, departmental narrow-mindedness and bureaucratic methods. The local bodies, which are closer to the mass of workers and peasants, have a better view of these defects, and it is therefore their business to devise methods of eliminating them by pooling their experience.

It is absolutely essential that definite, careful and detailed replies should be submitted to the following question: What has been done and how to co-ordinate the activity of the local state farms, timber committees,uyezdland departments, economic councils, and so forth?

How are officials penalised for satisfying local requirements to the detriment of the centre and in violation of orders from the centre? The names of those penalised? Is the number of such offences diminishing? Have the penalties been increased? If so, in what way?

5. Improvement Of The Condition Of
The Workers And 6. Ditto Of The Peasants

Every success achieved in economic development improves the condition of the workers and peasants. But, first, here again departmental narrow-mindedness and the lack of co-ordination are doing a great deal of harm. And, second, these questions must be brought up well to the fore to allow a careful observation of the results achieved in this sphere. What exactly has been achieved? In what way? Answers to these questions are essential.

Weariness and in some cases downright exhaustion as a result of the long years of war, first the imperialist war and then the Civil War, are so great that it is absolutely essential to make special efforts to improve the condition of the workers and peasants. Very far from everything is being done that could and should be done, even with our meagre resources. By no means all the departments and agencies are concentrating on it. It is therefore a matter of urgent necessity to collect and study local experience in this field. The reports should be compiled as precisely, fully and carefully as possible. If that is done, it will at once become evident which departments lag most and where. We shall then secure an improvement more quickly through a common effort.

7. Increasing The Number Of
Government Officials In Economic Development

It is extremely important for us to enlarge this group of workers, but very little systematic effort is being made to do so. Under capitalism, the individual proprietors strove to obtain—secretly from one another, and tripping each other up—the services of good salesmen, managers and directors. It took them decades to do this, and only a few of the best firms achieved good results. Today, the workers’ and peasants’ state is the “proprietor “, and it must select the best men for economic development; it must select the best administrators and organisers on the special and general, local and national scale, doing this publicly, in a methodical and systematic manner and on a broad scale. Now and again we still see traces of the initial period of the Soviet power—the period of fierce civil war and intense sabotage, traces of Communists isolating themselves in a narrow circle of rulers, being fearful or incapable of enlisting the services of sufficient numbers of non-Party people.

We must set to work quickly and energetically to correct this. A number of capable and honest non-Party people are coming to the fore from the ranks of the workers, peasants and intellectuals, and they should be promoted to more important positions in economic work, with the Communists continuing to exercise the necessary control and guidance. Conversely, we must have non-Party people controlling the Communists. For this purpose, groups of non-Party workers and peasants, whose honesty has been tested, should be invited to take part, on the one hand, in the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, and on the other, in the informal verification and appraisal of work, quite apart from any official appointment.

In their reports to the C.L.D., the local bodies, particularly in the volosts, uyezds and districts, which have the best knowledge of the worker and peasant masses, should give lists of non-Party people who have proved their honesty at work, or who have simply become prominent at non-Party conferences, or who command universal respect in their factory, village, volost, etc., and should indicate their assignments in economic construction. By work is meant official position as well as unofficial participation in control and verification, regular attendance at informal conferences, etc.

There must be regular replies to these questions, for otherwise the socialist state will be unable to organise correctly the enlistment of the masses in the work of economic development. There are any number of honest and loyal workers. There are many of them among the non-Party people, but we do not know them. Only local reports can help us to find them and try them out in wider and gradually expanding fields of work, and cure the evil of isolation of Communist Party cells from the masses, an evil that is in evidence in many places.

8. Methods And Results Of
Combating Bureaucratic Practices And Red Tape

At first, most answers to this question will probably be very simple: methods—nil; results—nil. The decisions of the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets have been read and forgotten.

But although the situation in this field is deplorable, we shall certainly not imitate those who give way to despair. We know that in Russia bureaucratic routine and red tape are mostly due to the low standard of culture and the consequences of the extreme ruin and impoverishment resulting from the war. This evil can be overcome only by strenuous and persistent effort over a long period of years. Therefore, we must not give way to despair, but make a new start every time, pick it up where it was abandoned, and try diverse ways of achieving our goal.

The reorganisation of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection; enlistment of the services of non-Party people with and without this inspection; legal proceedings; reduction and careful selection of staffs; verification and co-ordination of the work of the various departments, and so on and so forth—all these measures, everything indicated in the decisions of the Eighth Congress of Soviets, all the measures and methods mentioned in the press must be systematically, steadily and repeatedly tried out, compared and studied.

The gubernia economic councils, and all the other bodies co-ordinating and directing economic development in the localities, must insist on the implementation of measures prescribed by the law and indicated by practical experience. Local experience must be pooled. Answers to this question must be sent in to the C.L.D., regardless of how hard it may be at first to teach people to give exact, full and timely answers. The C.L.D. will see to it that this is done. It will undoubtedly produce good results, even if not as quickly as is expected by those who tend to reduce the “combating of red tape” to a mere phrase (or to a repetition of whiteguard, Socialist-Revolutionary and also Menshevik, gossip) instead of working hard to take definite steps.

Second Group Of Questions

9. Revival Of Agriculture: A) Peasant Farming; B) State Farms; C) Communes; D) Artels; E) Co-Operatives; F) Other Forms Of Collective Farming

The briefest summaries, giving the figures of the reports sent to the respective departments, with the date on which each report was sent.

More detailed information—not in every report, but periodically, every four or six months, and so forth—on the more important aspects of local farming, results of surveys, the major measures adopted, and their verified results.

Exact information must be given at least twice a year on the number of collective farms (all types, b-f ), classified according to the degree of organisation—good, fair and unsatisfactory. A typical farm in each of the three groups must be described in detail at least twice a year, with exact data on size, location, production performance, its assistance to peasant farming, etc.

10. Revival Of Industry: A) Large-Scale Industry Entirely
Controlled By The Centre; B) Large-Scale Industry
Controlled Wholly Or Partly By Local Bodies; C) Small,
Handicraft, Domestic, Etc., Industries

The answers should be on the same lines as those for the preceding section. As regards category A, the local bodies, which have opportunities for making a close observation of the work of large national establishments, their influence on the neighbouring population, and the attitude of the population to them, must, in every report, give information on these establishments, the assistance given to them by local bodies, the results of this assistance, the assistance rendered to the local population by these establishments, their most urgent requirements, defects in their organisation, etc.

11. Fuel: A) Firewood; B) Coal; C) Oil; D) Shale;
E) Other Types Of Fuel (Waste Fuel, Etc.)

The same as for the two preceding questions: the briefest summaries, giving the figures of the reports sent to the respective departments and dates on which they were sent.

Detailed information on major points, on what is outside the scope of the department, on local co-ordination of work, etc.

Special attention must be paid to economising fuel. What measures are being taken? What are the results?

12. Food Supplies

Summary of reports to the Commissariat for Food, following the same rules as above.

Market gardening and suburban farming (connected with industrial establishments). Results.

Local experience in organising school meals, the feeding of children, dining-rooms, public catering in general, etc.

Bi-monthly summaries in two figures are obligatory, that is, total number of persons receiving food, and total quantity of foodstuffs distributed.

In every large consuming centre (large or medium towns, military institutions in special settlements, etc.) we are feeding many extra people, former government officials who have crept into Soviet agencies, bourgeois lying low, profiteers, etc. There must be a determined drive to sift out these superfluous mouths who are breaking the fundamental law: He who does not work shall not eat. For this purpose, a responsible statistician must be appointed in all such places to study the returns of the census of August 28, 1920, and current statistical returns, and submit a signed report on the number of extra consumers every two months.

13. Building Industry

Answers must be on the same lines as the preceding. Local initiative and self-reliance are particularly important in this sphere and must be given particularly wide scope. Detailed information on the major measures and results is obligatory.

14. Model And Hopeless Enterprises And Establishments

A description of every enterprise, establishment and office connected with economic development and meriting the designation of model, or at least outstanding, or successful (in the event of there being none in the first two categories) is obligatory. Names of the members of the management boards of these establishments. Their methods. Results. Attitude of the workers and the population.

The same as regards hopeless and useless enterprises.

Of special importance is the question of closing down enterprises that are not absolutely essential (hopeless ones, such as might be closed down and their operations transferred to a smaller number of larger enterprises, etc.). Statistical summary of such superfluous establishments, their number and the order in which the Republic should gradually dispense with them.

15. Improvement In Economic Work

Enumerate major and model cases of improvements introduced by inventors and workers of exceptional ability. Give names; enumerate experiments which the local bodies regard as important, and so forth.

16. Bonuses In Kind

This is one of the most important factors in socialist development. The enlistment of labour is one of the most important and difficult problems of socialism.

Practical experience in this field must be systematically collected, recorded and studied.

Obligatory bi-monthly reports showing how many bonuses issued, what the bonuses consist of, what branch of industry (separately forestry and all other branches of work). A comparison of the results, output, with the number of bonuses in kind issued?

Have there been any cases of bonuses being converted into a wage reserve? Report each case separately.

Have bonuses been issued to conspicuously successful enterprises and individual workers? Give exact details of each case.

Investigate: can a local product be obtained (for export, or one particularly valuable for use in Russia) by increasing the bonuses in kind by a given quantity? This is highly important, because if this survey is properly conducted across the country we shall discover many valuable products which we could profitably export, even if we have to import a certain quantity of goods for the bonuses in kind.

17. The Trade Unions. Their Part In Production

The gubernia trade union councils and theuyezdtrade union bodies must immediately appoint reporters and their deputies who must, on their own, and with the help of local statisticians, draw up bi-monthly reports on the subject.

As regards production propaganda, give exact facts and figures on lectures, meetings and demonstrations, with the names of organisers, etc.

But of even greater importance than production propaganda are the facts about the part the factory committees and the trade unions in general actually play in production. Forms of participation? Describe every typical case. Practical results. Compare establishments where the participation of the trade union in production is well, or fairly well, organised, with those where it is not.

The question of labour discipline is particularly important. Reports on the number of absentees are obligatory. Compare factories where labour discipline is bad with those where it is good.

Methods of improving labour discipline.

Comrades’ disciplinary courts. How many, and when established? How many cases examined per month? Results?

18. Stealing

While some organisations are aware of this widespread evil and are fighting it, there are others which report that “in the department, office or factory in our charge, there is no stealing", “everything is in order”.

Precise bi-monthly reports are obligatory. How many offices, establishments, and so forth, send in information? How many do not?

Brief summary of this information.

The measures taken to combat stealing.

Are managers, management boards, or factory committees called to account (for laxity in combating stealing)?

Are people searched? Are other methods of control employed; if so, what are they?

Is the new law on commodity exchange, and on the permission given the workers to retain part of their output for this purpose, having the effect of reducing stealing? Give precise details.

Local warehouses, that is, warehouses located in the given district, and belonging to the state or to the local authorities. Brief summary of the reports on these warehouses, giving the date on which each was sent.

Reports by the local authorities on state warehouses. Methods of protection. Stealing. Number of persons employed, etc.

19. Profiteering

Extent of this according to local information. Predominating type of profiteer. Workers? Peasants? Railway employees? Other Soviet employees? And so forth.

State of the railways and waterways.

Measures to combat profiteering and results obtained.

What records are being kept of profiteers and profiteering?

20. Use Of Army Units For Labour

Labour armies. Composition, numerical strength, and performance. Methods of accounting? Attitude of the local population?

Other forms of using army units—ditto universal military training units—for labour purposes.

Numerical strength of local army units—ditto local universal military training administration, and number of youths undergoing training in the units.

Concrete cases of employment of youths undergoing universal military training and Red Army men for definite forms of control work, sanitary inspection, help to the local population, various economic operations. Give a detailed description of each case, or if there are a number of cases give two typical ones: the most and the least successful.

21. Labour Service And Labour Mobilisation

How are the local departments of the People’s Commissariat for Labour organised? What are they doing?

Brief summaries of their reports sent to the People ‘s Commissariat for Labour; give date on which each report was sent.

Describe, not less than once in four months, two typical cases of labour mobilisation; the most and the least successful.

Enumerate purposes for which labour service was enforced. Total figures of the number engaged and results of work done.

What part do the local departments of the Central Statistical Board play in organising labour service and labour mobilisation?

Third Group Of Questions

22. Regional And Local Economic Councils

When and how were the economic councils established in the localities at region, gubernia,uyezdand volost level? How is their work co-ordinated between themselves and with the village committees, the factory committees?

Economic councils of district Soviets in big towns. Their composition, work, how is the work organised, relations with the city Soviets?

Are there any district committees and district economic councils? Are they necessary? Is it necessary to set up the larger factory or industrial settlements, with their environs, as separate areas, and so forth?

23. Gosplan (The State General Planning Commission Of The C.L.D.)
And Its Relationships With Local Economic Bodies

Are there any regional bodies of Gosplan? Or special representatives of the latter? Or groups of experts acting in such a capacity?

Is the work of the local bodies co-ordinated with Gosplan’s? If so, how? Is such co-ordination necessary?

24. Electrification

Have the gubernia anduyezdlibraries copies of the Plan for the Electrification of the R.S.F.S.R., which was submitted as a report to the Eighth Congress of Soviets? If so, how many copies? If not, it shows that the local delegates to the Eighth Congress of Soviets are dishonest and ought to be expelled from the Party and dismissed from their responsible posts, or else they are idlers who should be taught to do their duty by a term of imprisonment (at the Eighth Congress of Soviets, 1,500-2,000 copies were handed out for local libraries).

What measures have been taken to carry out the decision of the Eighth Congress of Soviets to conduct extensive propaganda of the electrification plan? How many articles on the subject have appeared in the local newspapers? How many lectures have been delivered? Number of persons attending these?

Have all local workers with theoretical or practical knowledge of electricity been mobilised for the purpose of delivering lectures on, or teaching, the subject? Number of such persons? How is their work being conducted? Are the local or nearest electric power stations utilised for lectures and purposes of instruction? Number of such stations?

How many educational establishments have included the electrification plan in their syllabus, in conformity with the decision of the Eighth Congress of Soviets?

Has anything practical been done towards carrying out this plan? Or any electrification work outside the plan? If so, what has been done?

Is there a local plan and schedule of work on electrification?

25. Commodity Exchange With Foreign Countries

It is absolutely obligatory for all border areas to answer this question, but not only for them. uyezds and gubernias adjacent to border areas also have opportunities for engaging in such commodity exchange and observing how it is organised. Furthermore, as indicated above (Point 16: Bonuses in Kind), localities even very remote from the border have opportunities to engage in commodity exchange with foreign countries.

State of the ports? Protection of the border? Volume and forms of trade? Brief summaries of the reports on this sent to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, giving the date on which each report was sent.

Supervision of the work of the People ‘s Commissariat for Foreign Trade by the local economic councils? Their opinions on practical organisation and results?

26. Railway, Water And Local Transport

Brief summaries of the reports sent to the appropriate department, giving date on which each report was sent.

State of affairs appraised from the local standpoint.

Defects in the transport system. Measures taken to improve it and their results?

The state of local transport facilities, and measures taken to improve them.

27. Press Publicity For Economic Work

Local publications and Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn. How is economic work treated in the press? Participation of non-Party people? Verification and appraisal of practical experience?

Circulation of local publications and of Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn ? Are they available at the libraries and accessible to the public?

Publication of pamphlets and books on economic development. Give list of the publications issued.

Demand for foreign literature: to what extent is it satisfied.? Are the publications of the Bureau of Foreign Science and Technology delivered? If so, what opinion is expressed about them? Other foreign publications in Russian and other languages?

Fourth Group Of Questions

This group should include questions chosen at the discretion of and suggested by the local bodies themselves, and by individuals; moreover, these questions may have a direct or indirect, close or remote, connection with economic development.

These reports must be drawn up in co-operation with the members of the local staffs of the Central Statistical Board. Whether this is done by them, or any other persons, is up to the local economic council to decide, but the co-operation of the gubernia statistical bureau anduyezdstatisticians is obligatory. Every report and every answer to a question, if written by different persons, must be signed by the author, giving his official position, if he holds one. Responsibility for the reports rests on the authors, and the local economic councils as a whole, and it shall be their duty to send in regular, punctual and truthful reports.

Wherever there is a shortage of local workers, courses of instruction in the compilation of reports must be organised under the supervision of statisticians and comrades, specially appointed for the purpose (from the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, and other bodies). The names of the persons responsible for these courses and the schedule of instruction must be published.

May 21, 1921


[1] Lenin worked on the draft Instructions at the same time as he was preparing a draft decision of the C.L.D. (Council of Labour and Defence), entitled “On Local Economic Meetings, Records and Reports, and Guidance by the C.L.D.’s Instructions”. Lenin made a thorough study of local documents on economic meetings and the first NEP measures. On May 20, 1921, the C.L.D. referred the draft Instructions and the draft decision to a special commission, which published the Instructions as a pamphlet because it was important to discuss them immediately. Members of the Presidium of the State Planning Commission and officials of departments and local bodies were invited to help edit the two drafts. On Lenin’s proposal they were widely discussed by the working people. On May 24, they were discussed by the Fourth Congress of Economic Councils. On May 25, the Fourth All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions instructed the newly elected All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions to consider the drafts and to insert the necessary amendments and addenda. The Tenth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) approved the draft Instructions, authorising the All-Russia C.E.C. Communist Group to take steps to got them adopted as law. On May 30, both drafts were discussed at the Third Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, where Lenin delivered a speech. The session adopted them as a basis and referred them to a commission. Lenin introduced a number of editorial amendments to the C.E.C. decision, “On Local Economic Meetings", just before its final approval. On June 30, both drafts were adopted by the Presidium of the C.E.C. Because the Instructions defined the tasks of recording and reporting for all Commissariats and not only the economic ones, they were called “Instructions of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence”.

Lenin believed it was highly important to give the working people a thorough explanation of these Instructions and put them into practice as soon as possible.