V. I.   Lenin



Dictated: Dictated by phone on January 23, 1922
Published: First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. Printed from secretarial notes.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1976, Moscow, Volume 45, pages 436b-438a.
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
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To Comrade Molotov for the Politbureau

I enclose Lezhava’s report on the Steinberg concession. Please have this matter raised in the Politbureau on   Thursday, so as to allow the C.P.C. to pass the C.C. decision through Soviet government channels on Friday.[1]

Appoint two rapporteurs on this question for the Politbureau: A. D. Tsyurupa and a representative of the C.P.C. majority.

This is an important business, and I very much fear that the C.P.C. majority (opposing Tsyurupa) is about to make another mistake in the spirit of “communist conceit”: they are afraid to allow a merchant who knows how to trade to make money, and their overriding concern is only to secure a majority for the Communists, most of whom may bawl a bit, but then they never touch the stuff.[2]

I draw your attention to § 5: three Communists (ignorant of trade? I know of only two Communists who have shown an ability to trade: Belov (GUM) and Serg. Malyshev) are about to teach two merchants how to trade.

I am afraid that this “majority” will look very much like Shchedrin’s accoucheurs.[3]

Perhaps § 5 should be amended as follows: Steinberg, as representative, be empowered to decide everything alone, while the majority of the board should have the right to know everything and to complain to us about Steinberg’s acts, without suspending them (i.e., the majority of three against two will nominally retain the right to reverse Steinberg’s decisions, but we shall tell him that we shall not reverse anything without a special C.L.D. decision).

Meanwhile, the three Communists will be given the duty, by a special C.C. decision, to study and to learn the business in three years or so, otherwise they will be expelled with ignominy.


First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI
Printed from the original


To Comrade Molotov (for members of the Politbureau)
To Comrade Tsyurupa and Comrade Lezhava with a request
for their opinion

The C.L.D. is meeting in plenary session today. Perhaps, it could be possible, so as not to put off the matter,   to adopt by phone the following proposal concerning the Steinberg concession (Politbureau decision mandatory upon the C.L.D.): “To accept the Lezhava commission’s proposal with an addendum of this kind: Steinberg, as representative of the board, shall act on his own, with decisions by the board majority (3 representatives of the board, 1—Steinberg, 1—capitalist), without suspending Steinberg’s order, only referable to the C.L.D.”[4]

This addendum should be adopted by the C.L.D., but not written into the board’s charter. Then, by informing Steinberg of this decision, we shall, on the one hand, provide the possibility of really doing business commercially to a man who knows commerce otherwise than from reading communist booklets and, on the other, in the event of Steinberg committing any crime, we shall assure ourselves of the possibility of revoking our decision through the C.L.D., without altering the Society’s charter in any way. I think that such a guarantee is quite sufficient.



[1] Lenin’s letter to the Politbureau of the R.C.P.(B.) C.C. on January 17, 1922, was discussed on January 20. The Politbureau decided to have the question of granting Steinberg a concession finally settled by the C.P.C. (see also this volume, Document 515).

[2] These words are from Ivan Krylov’s fable, “The Musicians”,   which tells of a choir of serf peasants who sang very poorly, but were a model of sobriety.

[3] Meaning people who are prepared to engage in any activity regardless of their qualification, so long as they have the authority and the assignment. “I am prepared to be an accoucheur at any time,” is a sentence from an introduction by the Russian satirical writer Saltykov-Shchedrin to his novel The Golovlyov Family.

[4] Lenin’s proposal was adopted the same day by the Politbureau of the R.C.P.(B.) C.C. On January 24, the Council of People’s Commissars approved in substance the draft statutes of the Joint-Stock Company for Domestic and Export Trade in Hides and Skins (Kozhsyryo). On February 1, the statutes of the company and the articles of association were approved by the C.L.D.

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