V. I. Lenin

Reply to Remarks Concerning the Functions of the Deputy Chairmen of the Council of People’s Commissars

Written: 5 May 1922
First Published:In abridged form, in 1928 in Lenin Miscellany VIII Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 353-355
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

To Comrade Stalin with the request to pass it on (do not duplicate it—to do so would give publicity to pole mics) to members of the Political Bureau and Comrade Tsyurupa (asking them to sign it and give the date when they have read it)

I am sorry for replying belatedly, but the delay was caused by the removal of the bullet.[1]

Comrade Rykov ’s remarks are ’critical”, but not concrete and do not require an answer.

I consider Comrade Tomsky’s remarks on the bonus system incorrect. The collapse of the trade union bonus system, which, according to Comrade Tomsky, has degenerated into “robbery of the state”, must force us to he more persevering in studying and improving the methods of applying the bonus system, but we must not reject it.

Some of Comrade Trotsky’s remarks are likewise vague (for example, the “apprehensions” in paragraph 4) and do not require an answer; other remarks made by him renew old disagreements, that we have repeatedly observed in the Political Bureau. I shall reply to these on two main points: a) the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection and b) the State Planning Commission.

a) As regards the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, Comrade Trotsky is fundamentally wrong. In view of the hidebound “departmentalism” that prevails even among the best Communists, the low standard of efficiency of the employees and the internal intrigues in the departments (worse than any Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection intrigues), we cannot at the moment dispense with the Workers’ and Peasants Inspection. A lot of hard arid systematic work has to be put in to convert it into an apparatus for investigating and improving all government work. We have no other practical means of investigating, improving and giving instruction in this work. If the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection now has an inefficient and underpaid staff of 12,000, that staff should be reduced and improved; for example, reduce it to one-sixth and the payroll by half, i.e., raise salaries threefold; at first select a few dozen and later hundreds of the best, absolutely honest and most efficient employees, who are now available but not registered. not selected, not put in any group and not organised. This can and must be done; if not, it will be impossible to combat departmentalism and red tape, it will be impossible to teach non-Party workers and peasants the art of administration, which is a task that at the present time we cannot shirk either in principle or in practice.

b) As regards the State Planning Commission, Comrade Trotsky is not only absolutely wrong but is judging something on which he is amazingly ill-informed. The State Planning Commission does not suffer from academic methods. On the contrary, it suffers from an overload of much too much petty, routine “vermicelli”. Comrade Krzhizhanovsky, because he is soft-hearted, gives way much too easily to those who ask him for urgent assistance. Pyatakov, the new Deputy Chairman of the State Planning Commission, will, I hope, be “stricter” and help to rid the State Planning Commission of its shortcoming, which is quite the opposite of “academic methods.

Since I know full well the real shortcomings of the State Planning Commission, and in order to provide the members of the Political Bureau with factual, objective material and not with figments of the imagination, I asked Comrade Krzhizhanovsky if his work suffered from “abstractness” and what the exact facts about it were. Comrade Krzhizhanovsky sent me a list of the questions that have piled up before the Presidium of the State Planning Commission in the course of two months: February and March 1922. Result: aa) questions concerning planning—17 per cent; bb) questions of an important economic nature—37 per cent; cc) “vermicelli"—46 per cent. I can send this mate rial to any member of the Political Bureau who would like to see it.

The second paper from Comrade Trotsky, dated April 23, 1922 and addressed to the Deputy Chairmen with a copy to the Secretariat of the Political Bureau (the copy was evidently posted to me by mistake), contains, first, an extremely excited but profoundly erroneous “criticism” of the Political Bureau decree on setting up a financial triumvirate (Sokolnikov and two deputies) as of a brake between the Narrow and Full Councils of People’s Commissars. The sending of this criticism to the Deputy Chairmen is not in conformity either with planned or, in genera’, with any organised state activity.

Secondly, this paper flings the same fundamentally wrong and intrinsically untrue accusations of academic method at the State Planning Commission, accusations which lead up to the next incredibly uninformed statement by Comrade Trotsky. “At present,” he writes, “there neither is nor can he an economic plan without establishing the quantity of money issued and without distributing cash funds between the departments. Yet, as far as I can judge, the State Planning Commission has nothing whatever to do with these basic questions."

The underscored words only make me want to ask the question: Why “judge” something about which you are uninformed? Any member of the C.C. or the Council of Labour and Defence could easily get the information he needs, and if he tried he would learn that the State Planning Commission has a financial and economic section, which deals precisely with the above questions. There are shortcomings in this work, of course, but they must not be sought in academic methods but in exactly the opposite direction.



[1] One of the bullets that struck Lenin during the assassination attempt on August 30, 1918, was removed on April 23, 1922 at the SDI datenkovskaya Hospital (now the Botkin Hospital).