V. I. Lenin

Letter To D. I. Kursky With Notes

On The Draft Civil Code

Written: 28 February, 1922
First Published: 1945. In Lenin Miscellany XXXV Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 202-203
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
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

February 28, 1922

Comrade Kursky,

Re your letter of February 23 (No. 255) in reply to my letter.

I shall try to see you personally, but I cannot promise it because I am not feeling well.

I hope that after the meeting of executives in connection with my letter, you will write to me about its practical results. It is particularly important to organise a real check of what is actually being done, what is actually being accomplished, what the People’s Courts and the Revolutionary Tribunals have achieved and how this can be assessed and verified.

How many cases of abuses of the New Economic Policy have been tried?

How many sentenced, and what punishments (as a whole and not in individual cases)?


With communist greetings,


Especially urgent and important:

P. S. Re the Civil Code[1]: I am unable to go into the wording of individual articles. My health does not permit me to do so.

I must confine myself to the following points:

1) The People’s Commissar of Justice must find out and personally check who precisely is responsible for each major section of the Civil Code.

2) Everything that the literature and experience of the West-European countries contain on the protection of the working people must be used.

3) Do not limit yourself to that (this is most important). Do not follow the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs blindly. We must not play up to “Europe” but MOVE FARTHER in intensifying state interference in “private legal relations” , in civil affairs. I cannot say exactly how that ought to be done because I am in no condition either to study the question or to go into even an individual code. But that that must be done is clear to me. The danger threatening us in this field is that of under doing it (and not that of overdoing it); that, too, is perfectly clear to me. On the eve of Genoa[2] we must not make a false move, show a lack of spirit, let slip out of our hands the slightest possibility of extending state interference in “civil” relations.



[1] The Civil Code was revised on the basis of Lenin’s directives in the letter to D. I. Kursky. It. was examined at the Third and Fourth Sessions of the Ninth AU-Russia Central Executive Cornsnittee (in May and October 1922). The Fourth Session passed a decision to give effect to the Civil Code as of January 1, 1923 (see Lenin’s speech at the Fourth Session of the Ninth All-Russia Central Executive Committee in the present volume, pp. 390-95),

[2] The International Economic and Financial Conference was held in Genoa on the initiative of the Soviet Government expressed in Notes to Britain, Italy, the U.S.A., France and Japan on October 28, 1921. The Soviet Notes stated that the Conference should examine the establishment of peace and economic co-operation in Europe and also the question of Russian debts. The decision to convene the Conference was taken by the Supreme Entente Council at a conference in Cannes on January 6, 1922.

The Allied countries invited Soviet Russia to the Conference in the hope of compelling her to make a number of political and economic concessions and, at the same time, establishing economic relations with her.

The Soviet delegation to the Genoa Conference was named by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee at an extraordinary meeting on January 27. Lenin was appointed to lead the delegation, and G. V. Chicherin was named as his deputy. The question of Lenin going to Genoa was widely discussed by the people of the Soviet republics. Many of them expressed apprehension for his life and safety and opposed his going to the Conference. The Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) passed a special decision on this question, under which Lenin’s plenary powers as head of the delegation were passed to Chicherin.

Lenin directed the work of the delegation, drew up the Central Committee’s directives to It and also other Important documents connected with Soviet Russia’s participation in the Genoa Conference.

The Conference sat from April 10 to May 19, 1922. It was attended by representatives of 29 countries. At the Conference the Soviet delegation reiterated the need for peaceful coexistence between states with different social and economic systems. Its statement, approved by Lenin and endorsed by the Council of People’s Commissars, declared: “While remaining tree to the principles of communism, the Russian delegation recognises that in the present epoch, which makes the parallel existence of the old and the emergent social system possible, economic co-operation between states representing the two systems of ownership is imperatively necessary for universal economic reconstruction (see Materialy Genuezskoi konferentsii. Poley stenografichesky otchot [Materials of the Genoa Conference. Complete Verbatim Report], Moscow, 1922, p. 78).

The Genoa Conference failed to settle the problems that confronted it. The Soviet delegation emphatically rejected the attempts of the imperialist powers to impose a colonial status upon Soviet Russia (the establishment of control over Soviet finances and so forth). By proposing talks on a general reduction of armaments and the banning of the most barbarous means of ’warfare (poison gases, military aircraft), the Soviet delegation demonstrated the peace-loving nature of Soviet Russia’s Leninist foreign policy to the whole world.