V. I.   Lenin


Written: Written on September 3, 1921
Published: First published in 1928 in Lenin Miscellany VIII. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 36, pages 543-545.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive.   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.README

September 3

Comrade Gorbunov,

I have just signed credentials for the chairman and members of the Extraordinary Commission for Exports of the Council of Labour and Defence[1] (Rykunov, Pyatigorsky, Valayev and Vladimir Spiridonovich Yermakov). It will be your task to study the membership of this Commission and its terms of reference, then systematically to review its activity and its reports, and to inform me.

I take advantage of this opportunity to point out to you the need for a proper division of labour between you and Smolyaninov (and Boris Volin, if we succeed in getting him), and proper organisation of the whole work of the office of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence.

The functions should be clearly demarcated between yourself and Smolyaninov. Each must “carry on supervision” of specified undertakings (electric ploughs; Hydropeat Board; collective supply; wage rates, etc., etc.).

For each subject, both “old” and newly arising, there must be systematic filing of all papers and reference notes, so that it should always be easy to find what is required.

In addition to the distribution between you of the business of the “economic front”, the most important front at the present time, there should also be a division between you (or you should take them all on yourself) of the noneconomic People’s Commissariats, “following up” their work on the basis of the reports of the gubernia and uyezd economic conferences and otherwise.

On each “subject” it is necessary from time to time (once a week, once a month or every two months, according to the nature and importance of the business—and then also suddenly) to carry out a check on actual fulfilment. This is most important and most essential. A record should be made of the results of each check-up.

I think that when there are three of you (you+ Smolyaninov+B. Volin or someone else, if we can’t have Volin) this will be enough (with a few office assistants) to carry on the whole work, of course on condition of absolute efficiency, on the one hand, and of referring everything that can and should be referred to Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn, to the State Planning Commission and other appropriate institutions, on the other. To read the uyezd reports it will be necessary to recruit a number of other people, each being obliged to sign that he has read it, on a sheet attached to each report: we shall draw in both writers and some of the oldest members of the Party, as well as some “experts”. When the number of reports arriving begins to grow, you will draw up a list of “helpers in the reading of reports” and establish a strict procedure for returning what has been read.

Take a typed copy of this letter, and send it to me, together with your reply about a plan for distributing and carrying on all the work of the Executive Secretary of the C.P.C. and the Council of Labour and Defence.

In particular, it is necessary to follow up with special attention the work of the Hydropeat Board, both in connection with the orders for peat pumps already placed abroad for the 1922 season, and in connection with the recent communication from R. E. Klasson that he has solved the problem of dehydration.[2]

Then I ask you to investigate the affair of the idleness of the Swedish works, Nydqvist och Holms ( Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn No. 194, p. 4).[3]They were slow in getting out” the order for water-driven turbines! Of which we have a terrible lack! This is the height of disgrace and shamelessness! || Make sure to find out who is to blame so that we can send these scoundrels to rot in prison. ||

Find out who precisely is personally responsible for the work of this factory, and for the orders placed with it.

Altogether, the establishment of specified personal responsibility is the most important job for the Executive Secretary of the C.P.C. and the Council of Labour and Defence. I will require this more strictly than anything else. If it proves necessary, call in immediately for this purpose the People’s Commissariat for Justice, arid the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, or an “expert” from them.

One more thing. It seems to me that the Scientific and Technical Department of the Supreme Economic Council has fallen asleep altogether. It is essential either to wake it up, or really to set going a drive to disperse these scientific loafers, and establish precisely and without fail who will be responsible for keeping us abreast of European and American techniques sensibly, in good time, practically, not bureaucratically. In particular, Moscow should have one specimen of all the most important latest machines: to learn and to teach. (Two engineers have told me that in America they make roads with a machine which transforms a dirt road into a hard road simply by the force of its own pressure; how important this would be for our roadless semi-civilised country!)

We must see that the Scientific and Technical Department of the Supreme Economic Council, and its numerous idlers abroad, should stop idling, or that we should replace them by others.

V. Ulyanov (Lenin)
Chairman, Council of People’s Commissars


[1] Extraordinary Commission for Exports under the Council of Labour and Defence was formed on August 10, 1921, to help the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade in building up an export stock and concentrating it in its hands. The Commission consisted of representatives of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade, the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, the All-Russia Extraordinary Commission, the Supreme Economic Council and the People’s Commissariat for Food.

[2] R. E. Klasson (1868–1926)—an outstanding electrical engineer, specialising in hydropeat extraction, who introduced a number of inventions in the industry.

[3] A reference to the item entitled “Order for Hydroturbines in Sweden”, carried by Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn No. 194, September  2, 1921, saying that the power section of the State Planning Commission was told, during its discussion of conclusions on a project for turbine installations, worked out for the Volkhov and Svir construction sites, that the order for hydroturbines could be placed with the Swedish plant of Nydqvist och Holms, which was at the complete disposal of the Soviet Government as of July 1, 1921. At that time, its large turbine department was idle for lack of orders. Speakers at the sitting noted that because of delay in placing the order, the turbine department of the plant was being run at a loss. The power section decided to take steps to place the order at once and to raise this matter at the next sitting of the Council of People’s Commissars through the Presidium of the State Planning Commission. Lenin’s intervention speeded up the solution of this question.

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