Written: Written May 15, 1922
Published: First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. Printed from the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, page 418b.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala and D. Walters
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In view of this, please get a directive passed through the Politbureau by collecting the votes of members that “The C.C. reaffirms the monopoly of foreign trade and resolves that a stop be put everywhere to the working up of the question of merging the Supreme Economic Council with the Commissariat for Foreign Trade. All People’s Commissars to sign confidentially” and return the original to Stalin. No copies to be made.
 This document was written in connection with the discussion of the question of the foreign trade monopoly which was taking place in leading Party circles at the end of 1921 and during 1922.
The monopoly of foreign trade, established by Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of April 22, 1918, was repeatedly reconfirmed in decisions of the Soviet Government. The adoption of the New Economic Policy and expansion of trade relations with foreign countries necessitated, legislative amendments in the sphere of foreign trade. The Theses on Foreign Trade, which A. M. Lezhava, Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade, drafted at Lenin’s request, stressed the need for strengthening the monopoly of foreign trade and determined the conditions for the export and import of goods under the new conditions. Lenin approved the Theses, which were accepted on January 4, 1922, by the Supreme Economic Commission of the C.P.C. G. Y. Sokolnikov, N. I. Bukharin and G. L. Pyatakov were against retaining the monopoly of foreign trade. Sokolnikov proposed that it he abolished and replaced by a system of trade concessions. J. V. Stalin, G. Y. Zinoviev and L. B. Kamenev stood for a relaxation of the monopoly of foreign trade. The Politbureau of the C.C., R.C.P. approved the Theses on March 4, 1922, with certain amendments. The final version of the Theses was endorsed on March 10. On the basis of these Theses the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on March 13, 1922, passed its decision “On Foreign Trade” (published in Izvestia No. 60, March 15, 1922).
Despite the decision of the Politbureau, Sokolnikov continued to press his point of view and proposed a plan under which the state corporations, co-operatives, etc. were to he allowed to buy food abroad; M. I. Frumkin, Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade, also stood for a relaxation of the foreign trade monopoly and proposed leaving only 4 or 5 items of wholesale trade in the hands of the state on the basis of a firm monopoly.
Following the receipt of documents from N. N. Krestinsky the R.S.F.S.R. Ambassador in Germany, testifying to the adverse influence which the Party controversy on the foreign trade monopoly was having on the business negotiations with foreign capitalists, Lenin on May 15 wrote the draft decision printed here, together with a letter to Stalin and Frumkin in which he pointed out that “a formal ban should be put on all talk and negotiations and commissions, etc. concerning the relaxation of the foreign trade monopoly” (Collected Works, Vol. 54, Fifth Russian Edition, p. 260). Stalin wrote on Lenin’s letter: “I have no objections to a ‘formal ban’ on measures to mitigate the foreign trade monopoly at the present stage. All the same, I think that mitigation is becoming indispensable” (Lenin. A Biography, Moscow, 1966,
Lenin’s draft decision was endorsed by the Politbureau on May 22. See also present edition, Vol. 33, pp. 455–59; Vol. 45, Fifth Russian Edition, pp. 338–39.