J. V. Stalin

Speeches at the Fourth Conference
of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
of the Ukraine 1

March 17-23, 1920

Source : Works, Vol. 4, November, 1917 - 1920
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1953
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2009
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2009). 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.


Comrades, until now the one basic task confronting you, the Communists of the Ukrainian rear and front, has been to halt the advance of the Poles, rout Pet-lura and drive out Denikin. This task is being carried out successfully, as is now admitted by enemies as well as by friends.

Now that the Ukraine has been delivered from the most ferocious enemy of the revolution, Denikin's army, you have another and no less important and complex task before you—to rehabilitate the Ukraine's shattered economy. There is no doubt that you, who have succeeded in coping with Denikin, will also succeed in coping with economic disruption, that you will be able to devote all your strength, all that energy which distinguishes the Communists from other parties, to checking the disruption and aiding your comrades in the North.

There are symptoms that in the North this task is beginning to be fulfilled. The communiques from the Labour Armies indicate that more and more railway locomotives and wagons are being repaired, and more and more fuel is being produced. The industries of the Urals are likewise growing and forging ahead. I have no doubt that you will do as well as our comrades in the North.

The Communists will most assuredly succeed in this task, because our Party is solid, united and devoted, and because above all this is our motto: "Finish the work begun even if you have to die for it." Only thanks to its discipline and solidarity is the Party able effectively to direct thousands of its workers to all the districts and regions. This discipline and solidarity enabled us to triumph over imperialism, and they permit us to hope that we shall likewise triumph over our other enemy— economic disruption.


I have to report on our immediate tasks in the sphere of economic construction.

A year ago, when our Federation was surrounded by a tight ring of armies subsidized by the international imperialists, the Council of Defence issued the slogan: "Everything for the front!" This meant that all our constructive efforts had to be concentrated on the supply and reinforcement of the front. A year's experience has shown that the Council of Defence was right, for in this year our ferocious enemies were hurled back—Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin have been as good as routed. Thus the slogan "Everything for the front!" has been put into practice and has yielded good results.

A couple of months ago the Council of Defence issued another slogan: "Everything for the national economy!"

This means that all our constructive work must be put on a new, an economic footing, that all our vital forces must be brought to the economic altar. This, however, does not mean that we no longer have any military task. Two attempts of the Entente to strike down Soviet Federative Russia—the first from the East, with the help of Kolchak, and the second from the South, with the help of Denikin—have failed. Now, apparently, a new blow is being planned—from the West. The Entente is not so stupid as not to exploit the forces of the Polish gentry, if only with the object of preventing our Federation from tackling new constructive tasks. Moreover, we do not yet know what immediate prospects open out in connection with the German coup. 2 Evidently, the West is pregnant with certain new, but quite apparent complications. It therefore must not be said that, in redirecting all our efforts to the work of rehabilitating the national economy, we are turning our backs on the military tasks. Nevertheless, the basic slogan must always be basic.

What induced the Council of Defence and the Central Committee of our Party to issue the new slogan? The fact, comrades, that on looking about us after the defeat of the external enemy, we found a picture of utter economic disruption.

What problems are involved in the task of repairing the war-shattered national economy?

The basic problem in the restoration of the national economy is fuel. All imperialist wars have been fought for the sake of fuel. All the stratagems of the Entente were designed to deprive us of fuel.

There are three types of fuel: coal, oil and wood.

Let us begin with the problem of coal.

In 1916, i.e., before the revolution, we used to produce not less than 140-150 million poods of coal each month, and sent out not less than 120 million poods to other parts. Now we are producing not more than 18 million poods of coal and anthracite, and are sending out not more than 4-5 million poods. The picture is clear.

The second type of fuel is oil. Our chief source of oil fuel is the Baku area. In 1916, we secured in all about 500 million poods of oil from Baku, some 100 million from Grozny, and about 15 million from the Urals (Emba). As you know, our chief source of oil—Baku— is not in our hands. Grozny is not worth talking about. In what state it will be when we get it back I do not know. As a fuel source, it possesses very rich oil deposits. Its output last year was as high as 200 million poods. But in what state we shall get it back, I do not know. All we know is that the Whites have wrecked it thoroughly.

The third type of fuel is wood. In former days, measured in terms of coal, about 500 million poods of wood fuel were obtained annually. The output now is not more than 50 per cent of this amount, according to the estimates of the Chief Timber Committee.

As you see, as far as fuel is concerned our situation is critical.

The second problem is iron and steel. To all intents and purposes, almost our only source of ore, pig iron and finished products was, and is, the Donets-Krivoy Rog Basin. Pig iron output in 1916 was not less than 16 million poods each month. We had not less than 65 blast furnaces operating in the Donbas. Not a single one of the 65 is operating today. In 1916 our iron and steel plants produced some 14 million poods of semi-manufactures each month. They are now producing not more than five per cent of this figure. In 1916 we produced about 12 million poods of finished products each month. Today—two or three per cent of this figure. As far as iron and steel are concerned, we are in a pretty bad way too.

The third problem is grain. If we are to restore industry, we must feed the workers. Lack of grain is our chief handicap and the chief cause of our industrial paralysis. Before the war we used to harvest some 5,000 million poods of grain annually in the territory of the Federation. Of this, over 500 million poods were exported to other countries. All the rest went for internal consumption. Even in 1914, when the war began and the frontiers closed, we managed to export some 300 million poods of grain in ten months. Subsequently, exports dropped to 30 million poods.

All this indicates that there are, as there must be, surpluses of grain in the country. Obviously, if we are asked whether the objective possibility exists of securing grain and creating that grain reserve without which it will be impossible to set industry on its feet, we can answer that it undoubtedly does exist. For us to procure the 300 million pood reserve which our comrades talk so loudly about is, objectively speaking, quite possible. The whole problem is to create a flexible machinery, to give heed to the sentiment of the peasants, to display patience and proficiency, and to assign to this work forces possessing the necessary managerial ability to turn word into deed. In this matter I could cite our experience in the

Ukraine. Not so long ago it was estimated that at least 600 million poods of grain of the last harvest had accumulated in the Ukraine. With a certain effort, these six hundred million poods might have been procured. But our food agencies decided to issue a demand for not more than 160 million poods, and further decided that it would be possible to obtain about 40 million poods by March. But this amount was not secured. Owing to the laxity of our agencies, and because of the regular manhunt conducted by Makhno's men against our food officials, and because of the kulak revolts in a number of districts, we succeeded in obtaining only about two million poods instead of forty million.

The next problem is sugar. In 1916 we produced about 115 million poods of sugar. Requirements amounted to 100 million poods. Today we have only about three million.

Such is the state of our war-shattered national economy today.

This state of the Federation's economic affairs naturally compels us to issue the slogan: "Everything for the national economy!"

What does this slogan imply? What it amounts to is that all agitational and constructive work must be re-organized along new, economic lines. We shall now have to promote economic non-commissioned officers and officers from the ranks of the workers to teach the people how to battle against economic disruption and build a new economy. Only in the course of the battle against the disruption will new constructive work be possible, and this requires the training of officers of labour. If last year we arranged emulation among the military units, now we must do the same thing among the workers in our industrial establishments, in the mills and factories, on the railways, in the mines. Evidently, we shall have to draw not only the workers, but also the peasants and other labouring elements into this movement.

Next, it should be observed, in addition to all that has been said, that the local economic bodies, especially the regional and district ones, will have to be granted more extensive rights, more independence in the matter of rehabilitating industry than has been the case hitherto. The position until now was that the work was directed by the Chief Boards, and the Chief Boards alone; now we shall have to pay special attention to the localities and give them the opportunity, at last, to display their initiative, without which it will be difficult to get our economy on its feet.

Lastly, we must pay attention to supporting the organizations which the Council of Defence has converted from military to economic work. I refer to the Councils of the Labour Armies. Experience has shown that it is not always expedient mechanically to assign whole army units to economic work. Here we have to arrange a certain co-ordination between the work of the reserve units and of the working people in the rear.

Passing to the Ukrainian Labour Army, I must say that for a number of reasons it has only recently started work. The first task was to find out the present situation, and then to consider what practical measures were necessary. What we found out presents a dismal picture. Railway transport is in a particularly bad way. It must be said that on the four Ukrainian railways—the South-Western, the South, the Donets and the Yekaterininskaya— there are quite a number of locomotives, but 70 per cent of them are out of order. The consequence is that, instead of the 45 pairs of trains which used to run daily on the Kharkov-Moscow line, we now manage to run only four or five, at most eight, pairs.

Having gathered all this information about the situation in the Ukraine, the Labour Army Council decided on a number of practical measures, of which I must mention the following:

First, to militarize labour in the coal industry, and also to mobilize the rural population for labour duty in transporting coal.

Secondly, to bring new forces from among the workers into industry, because we know that of the 250,000 workers engaged in industry before the revolution, only 80,000 remain. But in order to enlist these new forces, arrangements must first be made for their food supply, and we are adopting a number of measures in this direction.

Thirdly, to set up a Central Board at the head of the coal industry, which would have under its direction a health administration, a communications department, a supply department, a military tribunal and a political department.

All this is necessary in order to get the industries and transport services of the Ukraine going properly, to ensure the regular supply of man power, food, medical aid and political workers, to discourage self-seekers and labour deserters from sneaking out of the Donets Basin, and to implant labour discipline in industry and transport. By arrangement with the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party and the Central Committee of the Ukraine, from now on the Chairman of the Donets Gubernia Committee of the Communist Party will also be chief of the Political Department of the coal industry. All distribution of Party forces and their transfer from district to district for duty in the coal industry will now come within the jurisdiction of the Political Department.

These, in general, are the measures which must be carried out if we are to start work on repairing the war-shattered national economy of the Federation and put it on the way to its maximum development.

Concluding my report, I submit for your attention the theses of the C.C., R.C.P. on economic construction. 3



March 20

It is to be noted that none of the delegates attempted to put forward any other resolution in opposition to the Central Committee's theses. The resolution of the Kharkov Conference is only an addendum to the resolutions of the Seventh Congress of Soviets, 4 and one which does not touch upon a whole series of problems dealt with in the Central Committee's theses concerning the immediate tasks of economic construction.

I have already said that the basic task now is to rehabilitate the coal industry. In view of this, the Council of the Ukrainian Labour Army is concentrating its chief attention on organizing a coal industry board capable of ensuring regular supply and implanting discipline in the industry.

As you know, our industry throughout the Federation is just now passing through a phase of laxity and guerilla mentality similar to the phase the Red Army was in a year and a half ago. At that time the Party centre issued a call to pull the army together, to implant discipline, and to convert the guerilla units into regular units. The same thing must be done now with respect to industry, which has broken down. This broken down industry must be pulled together and organized, otherwise we shall not extricate ourselves from the chaos.

One comrade said here that the workers do not fear militarization, because the better workers are sick and tired of the lack of order. That is perfectly true. The workers are sick and tired of mismanagement, and they will gladly accept leadership capable of introducing order and implanting labour discipline in industry.


March 23

In his closing speech, Comrade Stalin summed up the work of the All-Ukrainian Conference. He gave an appraisal of the decisions taken on various questions, dwelling on the resolutions adopted on work in the countryside and in economic construction. The latter question will be finally decided at the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P. 5

"The cardinal problem of our policy—work in the countryside—has, in my opinion, been settled correctly," he said. "I consider that here, in the Ukraine, we are passing through the same stage of development in the countryside as that in Russia a year and a half ago, when the Volga area and many areas of Central Russia were in a phase of revolt. This period will become a thing of the past here as it has in Russia.

"In our work in the countryside we have to rely upon the poor peasant. The middle peasant will come over to our side only when he becomes convinced that the Soviet regime is strong. Only then will the middle peasant side with us.

"From these considerations it may be said that the resolution you have adopted is unquestionably correct.

"There is another important question which was decided at the conference, namely, the affiliation of the Borotbists 6 to our Party. The Borotbists are a party which drew its nourishment from the countryside. Now that the Borotbists have merged with our Party, we are in a position to implement the alliance between the proletariat and the poor peasants in full measure. As you know, this alliance is the basis of the might and strength of our Federative Republic.

"Permit me to congratulate you on the fruitful work of your conference.

"I hereby declare the conference closed." (Applause.)

Reproduced from the records of the Secretariat of the Ukrainian Labour Army Staff and the report in the Kharkov newspaper

Kommunist, Nos. 62, 64, 65 and 66, March 18, 21, 23 and 24, 1920


1.The Fourth All-Ukrainian Conference of the Ukrainian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held in Kharkov, March 17-23, 1920, and was attended by 278 delegates. Its agenda contained the following items: 1) Political and organizational report of the C.C., Ukr.C.P.(B.); 2) Relations between the Ukrainian Soviet Republic and the R.S.F.S.R.; 3) Attitude towards other political parties; 4) Economic policy; 5) The land question and work in the countryside; 6) The food question; 7) Election of the C.C., Ukr.C.P.(B.) and of delegates to the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.).

J. V. Stalin took part in the conference as the representative of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.). The central question at the conference was that of economic policy. The anti-Party "Democratic Centralism" group (Sapronov, etc.), who in the discussion on this question opposed the principle of one-man management in industry, received a rebuff. On the question of work in the countryside, the conference adopted an important decision providing for the formation in the Ukraine of unions of small and landless peasants (Committees of Poor Peasants). The conference elected J. V. Stalin as a delegate to the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.).

2.The reference is to the counter-revolutionary Kapp putsch in Berlin on March 13, 1920, organized by German reactionaries. The Kapp Government was driven out a few days later as the result of a general strike of the workers.

3.This refers to the theses of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.) on "Immediate Tasks of Economic Construction," prepared for the Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.). They were published in Izvestia of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.), No. 14, March 12, 1920.

4.The Seventh All-Russian Congress of Soviets, which met from December 5 to 9, 1919, in Moscow, heard a report by V. I. Lenin on the work of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars and discussed the military situation, Soviet development, the food situation, the fuel situation and other questions. The decisions adopted on the main items of the agenda (resolutions on "Organization of Food Affairs in the R.S.F.S.R.," "Soviet Development," "Organization of Fuel Affairs in the R.S.F.S.R.") concerned the organization of Soviet economy and Soviet administration.

The resolution of the Kharkov conference referred to was a resolution on economic construction adopted by the Kharkov Gubernia Conference of the Ukrainian Communist Party on March 15, 1920, following the report on economic policy.

5.The Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) met in Moscow from March 29 to April 5, 1920. It discussed the following questions: 1) Report of the Central Committee; 2) Immediate tasks of economic construction; 3) The trade union movement; 4) Tasks of the Communist International; 5) Organizational questions; 6) Attitude towards the co-operatives; 7) Transition to the militia system; 8) Election of the Central Committee. The political report of the Central Committee was made by V. I. Lenin, who also spoke on economic construction and co-operative affairs.

The congress defined the immediate economic tasks of the country in the sphere of transport and industry. Special attention was devoted to the question of a single economic plan, the pivotal item in which was the electrification of the national economy. The congress rebuffed the anti-Party "Democratic Centralism" group (Sapronov, Ossinsky, etc.), which opposed one-man management in industry.

6.Borotbists—Ukrainian Left Socialist-Revolutionaries who had formed a separate party in May 1918. Their name derived from their central organ, Borotba (Struggle). In March 1920, owing to the growing influence of the Bolsheviks among the Ukrainian peasant masses, the Borotbists were compelled to dissolve their party and apply for membership in the Ukrainian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). The Fourth Conference of the Ukr.C.P.(B.) decided to admit them to the Party, but they were accepted only after re-registration. In subsequent years many of the Borotbists took the path of double-dealing and deception of the Party and led the movement of the anti-Soviet counter-revolutionary nationalist elements in the Ukraine, proving themselves to be vile enemies of the Ukrainian people.