The Labour Armies

Basic Propositions

Of a Report to a Meeting of Members of the Yekaterinburg Organisation of the Russian Communist Party, February 25, 1920

Transcribed and HTML markup for the Trotsky Internet Archive by David Walters

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1. The military situation has improved still further with the capture of Archangel and Murmansk.

2. Our international situation is increasingly strong. To a certain extent, we can soon expect to renew economic relations with the capitalist countries.

The results of our international trade will depend entirely on the economic position of Soviet Russia.

If our economy continues to decline, conditions will be dictated to us by the world’s merchants who have stocks of goods at their disposal. In one way or another they will drag us down to the position of an enslaved colonial country.

Contrariwise, if our economy grows stronger, this trade will bear the character of a transaction advantageous for the furtherance of socialist construction in our country.

3. The Urals is one of the economically most important regions of Russia.

The economic situation of the Urals continues to worsen:

  1. particular enterprises continue to close down.
  2. the productivity of labour in the functioning enterprises continues to decline.

Conclusion: the Red Urals region is in danger. And, along with it, Soviet Russia is in danger.

4. The reasons for the continuing economic decline of the Urals:

  1. shortage of fuel,
  2. shortage of skilled labour-power,
  3. shortage of specialists, and bad, that is, unscientific, organisation of production,
  4. low level of intensity of labour,
  5. shortage of food,
  6. shortage of fodder, and
  7. shortage of mechanical equipment.

5. The procurement and dispatch of fuel, food and fodder will acquire decisive importance for the fate of the Urals in the course of the next few weeks and months.

Party, trade-union, soviet and, especially, military organisations must at once assign nine-tenths of their forces for work at getting in fuel and foodstuffs. In every institution only the minimum number of workers must be left who are needed to maintain continuity. All able-bodied men to the labour front, for direct participation in productive work, to provide leadership and supervision for this work, to carry on agitation in connection with labour service, and so on.

6. A substantial group of the most responsible and experienced Party members must be nominated for work on transport, in accordance with the decision of the Central Committee. This group to include, first and foremost, all those comrades who have practical familiarity with the work of railway transport.

7. The labour mobilisation of the 19-year-olds must be made the centre of attention for Party and soviet organisations, in particular for the YCL. A section of the workers assigned to economic work must be directed to organise the 19-year-olds and ensure their best use for labour tasks.

8. Every labour mobilisation announced must be carried out unwaveringly and in full. Any resistance must be overcome and, when necessary, put down by armed force. The masses must understand that labour service in the Workers’ Republic is no less sacred a duty than military service.

Party members must set an example in the performance of labour service.

9. The apparatus of the Workers’ Inspectorate (State Control) must be wholly directed towards checking whether any workers are left in various institutions and organisations who could be more usefully sent to the labour front.

In particular and especially, the Workers’ Inspectorate must check on fulfilment of the decision of the Defence Council that railway workers are to be withdrawn from all institutions and placed at the disposal of the railway authorities.

The Workers’ Inspectorate, together with the Army Inspectorate, must check as frequently as possible on whether garrisons are assigning the maximum number of Red Army men for work.

10. An intensive struggle - ideological, organisational and by means of repressive measures - must be waged against manifestations of self-seeking among the working class:

  1. The Party elements in the trade unions must explain the radical differences between a trade union policy, which haggles and quarrels with the state, demanding concessions from it and eventually urging workers to go on strike, and a Communist policy, which proceeds from the fact that our state is a workers’ state, which knows no other interests than those of the working people – from which it follows that the trade unions must teach the workers not to haggle and fight with their own state in difficult times, but by common effort to help it get on to the broad path of economic development.
  2. Agitation must not only take the form of mass agitation (both spoken and written) but must also be carried on in the factories and workshops, day by day, through personal example or personal influence by the advanced, Communist workers.
  3. Agitational and organisational shock-forces must be despatched to enterprises which are recognised as being the most important and most urgently in need.
  4. Strict and exemplary treatment must be handed out to all scoundrels and traitors who (like, for example, the self-seekers in the mint and in the railway workshops) take advantage of the calamities suffered by the workers’ and peasants’ country to worsen and intensify these calamities through counter-revolutionary strikes and demonstrations.
  5. The press must publish both red lists of workers who have distinguished themselves by their energy and self-sacrifice on the labour front, and black lists of self-seekers, idlers and slovens.

11. In accordance with the decision of the Labour Army Council to transform the Verkh-Isetsk factory into a model engineering works, to serve as an example to the whole Urals region, the Party committee and also the trade-union and Soviet organisations must give their full attention to this factory:

  1. by strengthening agitational and organisational work,
  2. by transferring to this factory from the Labour Army or from other sources a well-united nucleus of advanced Communist workers, and
  3. by purging the factory of worthless parasitical and counter-revolutionary elements.

12. A critical checking of the activity of factory managements is needed, with rigorous selection of those workers only whom experience has shown to be able to cope with their tasks.

13. Extensive recruitment of specialists (engineers and technicians) is needed for the organisation of disordered industry. It must be explained to the less conscious workers that, whereas in the past the specialists may have served capital, today, after the rule of capital has been smashed, they will serve the working class.

14. All measures possible under present conditions must be taken to improve the conditions, as regards food, housing and medical facilities, of the workers and of the administrative and technical personnel.

15. In order to arouse labour enthusiasm among the masses, the organisation of voluntary work on days off, in Yekaterinburg and throughout the Urals, must be broadened. It is desirable that in the near future a joint Urals ‘subbotnik’ be held, involving proletarians, peasants and the Labour Army.

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Last updated on: 26.12.2006