Written: Written on February 22 and 28, 1922
Published: First published in 1949 in Bolshevik No. 1. Printed from the original.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, , Moscow, Volume 35, pages 549-550.
Translated: Andrew Rothstein
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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The question is not just of GUM alone. All the work of all our economic bodies suffers most of all from bureaucracy. Communists have become bureaucrats. If anything will destroy us, it is this. And for the State Bank it is most dangerous of all to be bureaucratic. We are still thinking in terms of decrees, of institutions. This is the mistake. The whole essence now is practical men and practice. To find people who are men of business (1 out of 100; 1 out of 1,000 Communists, and that only with God’s help); to transform our decrees out of dirty paper (it’s all the same whether they arc bad or good decrees) into living practice—that is the essence.
Whether the State Bank itself should trade, or through subordinate firms, through its agents, or through its client debtors, etc.—I don’t know. I don’t take it upon myself to judge, because I am not sufficiently acquainted with the technique of currency circulation and banking business. But what I do know firmly is that the whole problem now is the rapid development of state trade (in all its varieties: co-operation, clients of the State Bank, mixed companies, factors, agents, etc., etc.).
On account of my illness I did not finish and send away this letter. You speak (in your interview) about replacing state trusts by mixed companies. There will be no practical results. The clever capitalists will draw stupid (most honest and most virtuous) Communists into the mixed companies, and swindle us as they are swindling us now. The problem now is not one of institutions but of people, and of checking up on practical experience. One by one we must discover people who know how to trade, and step by step use their experience, their labour, to clean out the..., expelling the virtuous Communists from boards of management, shutting down sleepy (and strictly communist) enterprises, shutting them down, separating out the one per cent which are worth while. Either the People’s Commissariat of Finance will prove able to got over to such work, or the entire People’s Commissariat of Finance=0.