Lenin Collected Works: Volume 44: Preface by Progress Publishers

Lenin Collected Works:
Volume 44

Preface by Progress Publishers

Volume 44 contains letters, telegrams, notes and other documents written or dictated in the period from October 1917 to November 1920; it supplements the works by Lenin included in volumes 26-31 of this edition.

The documents relating to this period demonstrate Lenin's many-sided activity in building up the new, Soviet machinery of state and ensuring its smooth running, guiding economic and cultural development, and organising the defence of the country.

In these documents Lenin gives directives for defeating counter-revolutionary revolts, ensuring revolutionary order, and defending the World's first proletarian dictatorship. They show Lenin as the organiser and inspirer of the victories over the interventionists and whiteguards. Lenin's instruction to the Red Guard Staff, his letters to the Petrograd Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.), to the Supreme Military Council, to the People's Commissariat for Naval Affairs, to G. V. Chicherin and M. M. Litvinov, to E. M. Sklyansky, the telegrams to the Revolutionary Military Councils of the Eastern and Southern fronts, to the army commanders, to S. I. Gusev, I. T. Smilga, M. M. Lashevich and G. Y. Sokolnikov, and many other documents, are examples of Lenin's activity in leading the struggle against foreign and domestic counter-revolution and guiding the military activities on the fronts of the Civil War.

Volume 44 publishes a letter of Lenin's to the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) dated June 17, 1919, which, like a number of other documents, shows that he regarded the Central Committee of the Party as the body for collective leadership of the country's defence. Lenin set aside Trotsky's objections to the Central Committee's decision to strengthen the General Headquarters, and wrote that this decision contained “what Trotsky overlooked, namely, that the majority of the C.C. is convinced that ... all is not well at Headquarters, and in seeking a serious improvement, in seeking ways for a radical change it has taken a definite step” (p. 255 of this volume).

In response to Lenin's call, many of the country's industrial cities sent their best Communists and non-Party workers to the decisive fronts of the Civil War. Lenin constantly followed the progress of mobilisation and the training of reserves for the Red Army. In a letter to the Revolutionary Military Council of the Southern Front re commending a group of Ivanovo-Voznesensk Communists Lenin requested that they should be allocated correctly and carefully. “I particularly ask to be informed of the receipt of this letter," he wrote, “and of where and how the comrades are assigned” (p. 302).

Situated as it was in a hostile capitalist encirclement, the Soviet Republic experienced extreme difficulties. The documents in this volume contain much material on Lenin s leadership of the foreign policy of the Soviet state and show his exceptional perspicacity and profound understanding of the alignment of forces in the international arena. It was only thanks to the tremendous efforts of Lenin, in a stubborn struggle of the Party against Trotsky and the oppositional group of “Left Communists” that the peace treaty with Germany was signed at Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918. Its conclusion was a striking example of the wisdom and flexibility of Lenin's tactics, and his ability to frame the solely correct policy in an extremely complicated situation. The signing of the Brest peace and the struggle against the “Left Communists” are dealt with in the letter to Major-General S. I. Odintsov on November 15 (28), 1917, the note to Karl Radek on January 14 (27), 1918, the radio- telegram to the peace delegation on February 25, 1918, the telegram to Irkutsk on February 27, 1918, and other documents.

The Soviet Government headed by Lenin consistently pursued a policy of peace, advocated peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems. When the imperialists of the Entente began their anti-Soviet armed intervention, the Soviet state repeatedly addressed proposals for peace to the governments of the United States, Great Britain and France. In the letter to G. V. Chicherin and L. M. Karakhan on October 10, 1918, Lenin wrote: “Regarding the Note to Wilson, I think it should be sent. Write it in detail, politely, but caustically, saying: in any case we consider it our duty to propose peace—even to governments of capitalists and multimillionaires—in order to try to stop the bloodshed and to open the eyes of the peoples” (p. 152). The Soviet Government's readiness to enter into peace negotiations with the leaders of the Entente Powers is also stressed in Lenin's letter of May 6, 1919, to Chicherin and Litvinov. Letters to Krasin, Litvinov, Chicherin, and others are devoted to the establishment of trade and economic relations with the capitalist countries. Among them are letters on the negotiations with W. B. Vanderlip, a representative of American business circles (see pp. 423, 442). In one of the letters, Lenin wrote: “trade agreements with the Soviet Republics are more advantageous to the British bourgeoisie than unprofitable and even ruinous attempts to crush them” (pp. 404-05).

Published in this volume is a considerable number of documents showing Lenin's activity in the most diverse fields of the socialist economy: putting the work of nationalised enterprises on a proper footing, organising financial affairs, the utilisation of the co-operative movement for supplying the population, the development of agriculture, the organisation of communes and artels.

The volume contains Lenin's letters elaborating and clarifying the basic principles of the single economic plan endorsed by the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.). A number of letters are devoted to propaganda for the electrification of the country. Lenin was interested in the coal deposits of Bryansk District, the oil of Ukhta, Berchogur and Cheleken, the exploitation of shales, the use of peat as a basis for electrification. He attached very great significance to the development of engineering, to the speediest introduction of up-to-date achievements in the national economy, to making wide use of scientists and experts. There are documents showing Lenin's interest in the Nizhni-Novgorod Radio Laboratory, which was in fact one of the first scientific research institutes. In the note to N. P. Gorbunov on October 21, 1918, Lenin wrote: “I earnestly request you to speed up as much as possible the Science and Technology Department's findings in regard to the Radio Laboratory. it is extremely urgent. Drop me a line when its findings are ready” (p. 156). The telegram to the Porokhovo District Soviet on July 2,1919, the letters to N. A. Semashko on May 3,1920, and to A. I. Rykov and I. I. Radchenko on October 28, 1920, and other letters, are indicative of Lenin's attitude to inventions and inventors.

Lenin pointed out that scientists must play a leading part in applying scientific knowledge to the national economy and making use of scientific achievements. The present volume publishes Lenin's letter to Gorky of September 15, 1919, in which he said that the Soviet government highly valued scientists who had resolved to devote their knowledge and labour to the people. He wrote: “To the 'intellectual forces' who want to bring science to the people (and not to act as servants of capital), we pay a salary above the average. That is a fact. We take care of them. That is a fact” (p. 285). At the same time he explained to Gorky that the Soviet Government was compelled to take severe measures against those who were involved in counter-revolutionary conspiracies and revolts, which threatened the lives of tens of thousands of workers and peasants.

Lenin repeatedly pointed to the need to put science and ideology at the service of the new socialist order. He sharply criticised the views of the ideologists of Proletcult who oppugned the leading role of the Soviet state and the Party in cultural matters. Everything connected with raising the cultural level of the working people claimed Lenin's attention: the abolition of illiteracy, questions concerning literature, the quality of mass publications, the development of libraries, radio broadcasting, the cinema, etc. One of the main tasks of education during the first years of Soviet rule was the liquidation of illiteracy. "... The struggle against illiteracy is a task more important than any other," he wrote in August 1920 (p. 413).

Lenin attached great importance to propaganda and agitation. On receiving a letter from a “group of students interested in communism”, he wished them “most speedy success in your study of communism, mastery of it, and commencement of practical work in the ranks of the Russian Communist Party” (pp. 147-48). Lenin devoted much attention to the realisation of his plan for “monumental propaganda”, for decorating the streets of Moscow and Petrograd with revolutionary inscriptions on buildings and with monuments to outstanding leaders of the revolutionary movement and culture.

The Party and government exerted tremendous efforts to rescue the country from the grip of economic chaos and famine. In the letter to A. G. Shlyapnikov on May 28, 1918, Lenin wrote: “The Central Committee has passed a decision to direct the maximum number of Party workers to the food front. For obviously we shall perish and ruin the whole revolution if we do not conquer famine in the next few months” (p. 95). The letter to the Commissariat for Food and to the Food Department of the Supreme Economic Council, the note to the secretary, the telegram to Kharkov and Moscow, the letter to V. A. Antonov-Ovseyenko and G. K. Orjonikidze, the telegram to S. V. Malyshev, the telegram to the Revolutionary Military Councils of the 10th and 4th armies, the letter to the Agricultural Section of the Food Department of the Moscow Soviet, and the telegram to the Podolsk Uyezd Food Committee reflect Lenin's activities in the business of supplying food for the Red Army and the population of the industrial centres.

"Petrograd and Moscow are without grain. Heroic measures needed. Wire exact reply immediately," wrote Lenin to V. A. Radus-Zenkovich, Chairman of the Saratov Gubernia Executive Committee, on July 11, 1919 (p. 263). “At all costs provide all workers of the Urals, particularly the Ekaterinburg district, Kizel and other coal-mining districts, with full supplies of essential foodstuffs," was Lenin's instruction to the civil and military authorities of Perm and Ekaterinburg in November 1919 (p. 311). He gave special attention to supplies for children. Supporting the proposals for ensuring food for children, Lenin wrote to Tsyurupa: “Perhaps something more could be done for the children? It should be” (p. 188).

The letters show how Lenin's principles of Party and state leadership were worked out, and characterise his style of work.

Lenin attached immense importance to collective leadership. As the documents in this volume show, on all important matters he consulted his colleagues and other leading workers and submitted these questions to the Central Committee or the Council of People's Commissars for consideration and decision. “I cannot go against the will and decision of my Council colleagues," he emphasised in a letter to Maria Andreyeva (p. 69). At the same time Lenin considered it essential that collective leadership should be duly combined with the personal responsibility of each worker for the task entrusted to him. On August 26, 1918, he wrote to A. P. Smirnov: “I very much fear that you in Saratov are playing at collegiate methods at a time when the work demands energy and prompt action by responsible executives..." (p. 142). Lenin severely criticised all manifestations of localism, anarchy, indiscipline, or the refusal of one or another staff member to submit to instructions from higher organisations. He taught the executives of administrative and Party bodies to be business-like, quicker on the move in taking decisions, to be able to concentrate attention on the most important task and see each job through to the end.

A number of documents show Lenin's efforts to strengthen revolutionary, socialist legality. In the note to the Commissariat for Justice on April 15, 1918, be stressed the need for codification, for publishing a Collection of Laws and Decrees of the Soviet Government, for expanding propaganda on matters of law among the population, and for drawing the mass of working people into the work of the People's Courts. He pointed to the need for a determined struggle against embezzlement of state property, profiteering and hooliganism; he proposed severe measures of punishment for bribe-takers. Lenin demanded that all Soviet bodies and all the personnel of the state apparatus should strictly observe the laws in force in the Republic. He wrote that the mere suggestion to evade a decree should entail prosecution by the courts. Lenin was quick to react to any information signalising a violation of socialist legality, he issued directives for a deeper study of individual cases, and took vigorous steps to stop responsible workers abusing their official position.

The Communist Party of Soviet Russia acted as a great patriotic and international force. Lenin closely followed the events in Hungary and endeavoured to hearten the Hungarian Communists, who were encountering great difficulties. In a letter to Bela Kun, he wrote: “We are aware of Hungary's grave and dangerous situation and are doing all we can.... Hold on with all your might, victory will be ours” (p. 271). “The communist movement in all countries is growing remarkably. The Soviet system has every where become a practical slogan for the working masses. This is a step forward of tremendous world-historic significance." These were the words with which Lenin greeted the Dutch Communists in October 1919 (p. 291). He wrote to Raymond Robins on April 30, 1918: “I am sure the new democracy, that is, the proletarian democracy, is coming in all countries and will crush all obstacles and the imperialist-capitalist system..." (p. 82).

All the documents given in Volume 44 are published in accordance with the Fifth (Russian) Edition of Lenin's Collected Works (volumes 50 and 51).

Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.

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