Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Materials to the Article “How We Should Reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection”[1]

Dictated: Dictated January 9 and 13, 1923
Written: (See below.)
Published: Taken down by L.F. First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI. (See below.). Printed from the secretary’s notes (typewritten copy).
Source:Lenin's Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1971, Moscow, Volume 42, pages 433b-442.
Translated: Bernard Isaacs
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive (2004). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.



Plan of an Article “What Should We Do with the W.P.I.?”

1. — Our state apparatus as a whole is most closely tied, most imbued with the old spirit.

In this way we may better renovate it.

2. — Such a type of apparatus as that directly connected with the Central Committee makes for the greatest mobility.

3. — It enjoys greatest authority.

4. — Won’t that make for too many C.C. members?

5. The conference nature of the C.C. plenums has already grown out of our previous Party building.

6. — A ruling is possible limiting attendance of C.C. members at meetings of higher government bodies (the C.P.C., C.L.D., All-Russia Central Executive Committee, etc.).

7. — It is possible to arrange their taking turns in attending these meetings.

8. — It is possible to arrange their taking turns at the meetings of the Board of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection.

9. — Possible objections to this plan: too many inspectors, too much supervision, too many chiefs having the right to demand an immediate reply and tearing the staff away from their direct duties, etc.

10. — Answer: we propose an unusual type of personnel for the W.P.I.

11. — How account for the fact that the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs has a better type of staff? And what are the conditions for making a similar renovated apparatus out of the W.P.I.?

12. — The W.P.I. should start right away organising the work on new lines, guided by five years experience.

13. — New organisation of work on the part of the C.C. Secretariat (training new members of the C.C. in all the details of administration).

14. — Better organisation of Politbureau meetings will come about in the course of the work itself.

15. — Important gain from increasing the number of C.C. members—lessening of the personal and casual element in its decisions, etc.

_DICTATED_ Dictated not later than January 9, 1923 _FIRST_PUBLISHED_ First published in 1959 in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI _PRINTED_FROM_ Printed from the secretary’s notes (typewritten copy)  


What Should We Do With the W.P.I.?

Without a doubt, the W.P.I. is an enormous difficulty for us. So far nothing has come of it, and the question of its organisation and even its expediency remains a question.

I think that those who doubt whether there is any need for it are wrong. At the same time, however, I do not deny that the problem presented by our state machinery and the task of improving it is very difficult and far from being solved.

With the exception of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, our state apparatus is largely a survival of the past, and least of all affected by any drastic change. It has only been slightly touched up on the surface. In all other respects, in order to get it to work properly, it has always been necessary for the workers’ and peasants’ state—a state built entirely on new lines—to concentrate members of the Party in it throughout the hierarchical framework.

It is worth remembering how we acted in the critical moments of the civil war, how we concentrated our best Party forces in the Red Army, how we resorted to the mobilisation of the advanced workers from among the Party ranks—in order to confirm what has been said.

And so, I believe, as a result of all our attempts to reorganise the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection there emerges the conclusion that we have not made one more attempt. Namely, we have not tried to put this matter into the hands of our workers and peasants, by placing them at the head of our Party as members of the Central Committee.

I visualise this reform of the W.P.I. in the following manner: some 50 to 75 workers and peasants, fully tried and trusted as to conscientiousness and devotion, are elected to the C.C. of the Party in addition to the other C.C. members. At the same time, the staff of the W.P.I. should be reduced at last (at long last!) to several hundred, consisting, on the one hand, of persons with most experience in W.P.I. work in general, i.e., persons who are most familiar with the general supervision of our apparatus of highly skilled specialists and who have a knowledge of   both our apparatus and of the principles and problems of office work organisation, methods of verification and investigation—and, on the other hand, of persons of the purely secretarial, auxiliary staff.

The task of the new members of the C.C., who have fully equal rights with the other members of the C.C., is, by long hard work, to make a study of and improve our state machinery. All the other members of the W.P.I. staff are to help them in this, some as persons most familiar with this machinery and with the work of the W.P.I., others as employees of the secretarial type.

At the same time the People’s Commissariat of Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection could remain the same commissariat it has been up till now. The new members of the C.C. could be considered temporarily attached to it. The People’s Commissar of the W.P.I. could retain his present rank, position and rights along with the members of his Board.

What do we stand to gain from such an organisation? First of all, we would drop once and for all the practice of new reorganisations undertaken on the basis of an inadequate study of our apparatus. Secondly, we would enhance the authority of this commissariat both by means of enlisting members of the C.C. to it and by reducing its staff to a few hundred members. From the present position, under which the members of the People’s Commissariat of the W.P.I. as a general rule live on sops from the inspected institutions, we would pass immediately to a position under which the maximum independence of the W.P.I. employees would be guaranteed either by a very high salary (this could be achieved by reducing the number of the staff to a few hundred very highly skilled and tested top-level workers), or by those assistants of a purely secretarial type, who would be under the constant control and supervision of both the above-mentioned members of the C.C. and of the few specialists left by us after careful screening of the commissariat’s staff.

The new members of the Central Committee would be assigned the task of making a closer and more careful study of our machinery of state in all its ramifications, including, incidentally, the state trusts.

This job cannot be done quickly. No definite time limit, therefore, would be set for them. On the other hand, they could reckon on several years work by alternating members of the C.C. working on the same assignment, i.e., by a decision of a Party congress we would guarantee to members of the C.C. the possibility of working at this job for several years and then returning to their former jobs.


January 9, 1923

Taken down by M. V.

What Should We Do With the W.P.I.?


I foresee that this plan will evoke no end of objections, most of which will be prompted by the vicious howl of the worst of the old elements in our state apparatus, who have remained really old, that is, pre-revolutionary. They will say that this will lead to nothing but complete chaos in the work, that the C.C. members, not knowing what to do, will loiter about the commissariats and government offices, interfering everywhere with the work, demanding explanations, etc., etc.

I think that the nature of these objections clearly betrays the source they come from, and are hardly worth answering. Obviously, if we had in mind an ordinary type of staff, some of these objections might be warranted. But the thing is, we do not have in mind the usual type of staff for this commissariat, but single out for it the best workers, who, on verification by the Party congress, deserve to be elected to the C.C. In this way, I believe, we guarantee that the staff of the People’s Commissariat of the W.P.I. will be as good as the best of our commissariats, namely, the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. How do we account for the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs having the best staff of employees? In the first place, because diplomats of the old stamp could not remain there to any noticeable degree; secondly, because we selected people there anew, selected them by entirely new standards, by their fitness for the new tasks; thirdly, because there, in the Foreign Commissariat, we do not have, as in other commissariats, that plethora   of haphazardly selected employees who, practically speaking, have inherited all the old qualities of officialdom; and fourthly, because the Foreign Commissariat is working under the direct guidance of our Central Committee. This, as a matter of fact, is the only one of our commissariats that has been fully renovated and that is really working for the workers’ and peasants’ government and in the spirit of that government, and not merely giving the impression of working for it, while actually, in the main, working against it or in the wrong spirit.

Now what conditions are we faced with in our attempt to make a truly renovated apparatus out of the W.P.I.? The first condition—conscientiousness, will be fully ensured by selection; the second condition is the high qualities of the staff members as regards their devotion to the cause and their abilities; the third condition is their closeness to the highest Party body and their equal rights with those who lead our Party, and, through it, the whole of our state apparatus.

It may be said that no amount of conscientiousness or Party authoritativeness can make up for what, in this case, is the most important thing, namely, knowledge of one’s business, knowledge of our state apparatus, and knowledge of the way it should be remodelled.

My reply to this is that one of the essential conditions of my proposal is that we are not to expect quick results in the work of the new commissariat and anticipate that this work will go on for many years. The question then boils down to organising the work of the new commissariat.

And here I feel justified in presuming that both our Party workers and the people now in charge of the W.P.I. have accumulated sufficient experience, sufficient knowledge, sufficient ability and other qualities to properly organise the training of the new C.C. members, and a practical training at that, i.e., by combining their familiarisation with all the details of our state apparatus with a study of what modern science has achieved in the bourgeois states as regards efficient organisation of every kind of staff work.


January 13, 1923

Taken down by L. F.


What Should We Do With the W.P.I.?

(continuation 2)

I assume that it goes without saying that the W.P.I. will start at once, on the basis of five years experience, organising the work on new lines; that it will divide the new workers into a number of groups and assign the work among these groups systematically; that it will divide these groups into: periodically employed people making a practical study of foreign experience; into people engaged in theoretical work and studying the results of modern science in the field of organisation of labour generally and managerial work in particular. It will arrange for all the W.P.I. workers to go through the jobs assigned to them, systematically working from the bottom upwards, performing varied functions in varied fields of administration, in varied localities, in varied conditions of work as regards nationalities, and so on.

In short, I assume that the comrades in the W.P.I. have learned something during these five years and will be able to apply the knowledge they have gained to the new organisation of the commissariat. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that we have, I believe, three scientific institutions carrying out research into problems of work organisation (the Central Institute of Labour, a special group under the W.P.I. and a group under the Military Commissariat). A meeting of these three groups was held recently,[2] and it is to be hoped that their work will now proceed in a more efficient manner and in a better team spirit than heretofore.

What is the new work organisation that I propose on the part of the Secretariat of our C.C.? Naturally, the increased number of C.C. members will require a new organisation of the work. I must point out, however, that actually we have already passed to a form of organisation of our C.C. plenums after the type of highest conferences. The thing now is to organise the training of these new C.C. members in all Central Committee work and familiarise them with the work of the leading state institutions. If we are late with this, we shall not be fulfilling one of our main duties,, namely, that of taking advantage of our being in power in order   to teach the best elements of the working people all the details of administration. Such measures as making better arrangements for the meetings of our Politbureau, holding them twice a week and reducing the length of sittings, better preparation of all the documents for these meetings and arranging for these documents to be at the disposal of all the members of the C.C. in good time. These measures now follow from the entire course of the work and are essential, so much so that any kind of objection to this is hardly conceivable. Naturally, this will call for an increase in expenditure on secretarial type personnel, but to grudge the money for these expenses would be most unwise.

Besides, frankly speaking, an important advantage in increasing the number of C.C. members I consider to be the diminished chances of a personal, incidental element being introduced in its decisions; these decisions will be better prepared, the endorsements made at such meetings will be more thoroughly verified, and as a result there will be greater stability in our C.C., both as regards the continuity of its work and its power to resist splits that might arise from insufficient contact of this body with the masses.


January 13, 1923


[1] See Vol. 33 of this edition, pp. 481-86.—Ed.

[2] This apparently refers to the conference on management normalisation held in September 1922 in Moscow.

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