J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol.
5, 1921 - 1923
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). 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, I think that the Central Committee's report published in Izvestia of the Central Committee 2 is quite sufficient as far as details are concerned, and there is no need to repeat it here, in the Central Committee's organisational report.
I think that the Central Committee's organisational report should consist of three parts.
The first part should deal with the Party's organisational ties with the working class, with those ties and apparatuses of a mass character which surround the Party, and by means of which the Party exercises leadership of the working class, and the working class is transformed into the army of the Party.
The second part of the report should, in my opinion, deal with those organisational ties and apparatuses of a mass character by means of which the working class is linked with the peasantry. This is the state apparatus. By means of the state apparatus the working class, led by the Party, exercises leadership of the peasantry.
The third and last part should deal with the Party itself, as an organism living its own separate life, and as the apparatus which issues slogans and supervises their implementation.
I pass to the first part of the report. I speak of the Party as the vanguard, and of the working class as the army of our Party. It may seem from this analogy that the relations here are the same as in the military sphere, i.e., that the Party issues orders, that slogans are sent out by telegraph, and the army, i.e., the working class, carries out those orders. Such a view would be radically wrong. The point is that in the political sphere matters are much more complicated. In the military sphere, the commanders themselves create the army, they themselves enrol it. In the political sphere, however, the Party does not create its army, it finds it ready-made; that army is the working class. The second difference is that in the military sphere the commanders not only create the army, but provide it with food, clothing and footwear. That is not the case in the political sphere. The Party does not provide food, clothing and footwear for its army, the working class. For that very reason, matters are much more complicated in the political sphere. For that very reason, in the political sphere, it is not the class that depends upon the Party, but vice versa. That is why, in the political sphere, in order that the vanguard of the class, i.e., the Party, may exercise leadership, it must surround itself with a wide network of non-Party, mass apparatuses to serve as its feelers, by means of which it conveys its will to the working class, and the latter is converted from a diffuse mass into the army of the Party.
And so I pass to an examination of these apparatuses, these transmission belts, which link the Party with the class, to see what these apparatuses are, and what the Party has succeeded in doing during the past year to strengthen them.
The first and principal transmission belt, the first and principal transmission apparatus by means of which the Party links itself with the working class, is the trade unions. During the past year of activity, as is shown by the figures dealing with what has been done to strengthen this principal transmission belt which connects the Party with the class, the Party has increased, has strengthened its influence in the leading bodies of the trade unions. I am not referring to the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. Everybody knows what its composition is. Nor am I referring to the Central Committees of the trade unions. I have in mind, chiefly, the Gubernia Trade-Union Councils. Last year, at the Eleventh Congress of our Party, 27 per cent of the chairmen of Guber-nia Trade-Union Councils were Party members of pre-October standing; this year the figure is over 57 per cent. Not a very great achievement, but an achievement nevertheless. It shows that leading elements of our Party of pre-October standing hold in their hands the main threads of the unions with the aid of which they link the Party with the working class.
I shall not deal with the composition of the workers' trade unions as a whole. The figures show that at the time of the last congress the total membership of the trade unions was about 6,000,000. This year, at the time of the present congress, the total membership is 4,800,000. That looks like a step backward, but it only appears to be so. Last year—permit me to tell the truth here!—the union membership figures were inflated. The figures that were given did not correctly reflect the actual situation. The figures given at this congress, although smaller than last year's, are more real, and are nearer the truth. I regard this as a step forward, in spite of the fact that the membership of the trade unions has diminished. Thus, the transformation of the trade unions from unreal and bureaucratic bodies into real live unions, having a common life with their leading bodies, on the one hand, and the increase in the percentage of leading Party elements in the Gubernia Trade-Union Councils from 27 per cent to 57 per cent on the other—such is the success we have to record in our Party's activities in strengthening the trade unions during the past year.
It cannot be said, however, that everything went well in this sphere. The primary units of the trade unions —the factory committees—are not yet ours everywhere. For example, of the 146 factory committees in the Kharkov Gubernia, 70 have not a single Communist in them. But such cases are rare. In general it must be admitted that the development of the trade unions, as regards the growth of the Party's influence in the gubernia and in the lower units, undoubtedly shows progress. This front can be regarded as secure for the Party. In the trade-union sphere we have no strong opponents.
The second transmission belt, the second transmission apparatus of a mass character by means of which the Party links itself with the class, is the co-operatives. First of all I have in mind the consumers' co-operatives, their working-class members; and then the rural co-operatives, those in which the rural poor are organised. At the time of the Eleventh Congress the workers' sections affiliated to the Centrosoyuz had a total membership of about 3,000,000. This year, at the time of the present congress, there is a slight increase: the total membership is 3,300,000. This is very little. But for all that, under present conditions, under the conditions of the N.E.P., it is a step forward. Counting three consumers in each worker's family, it works out that about 9,000,000 of the working-class population are organised as consumers in the consumers' co-operatives, in which our Party's influence is growing from day to day. . . .
At the last congress we had no data about the size of the Party's forces in the consumers' co-operatives; 2-3-5 per cent, not more. At the time of the present congress not less than 50 per cent of the members of the gubernia organs of the Centrosoyuz are Communists. This too is a step forward.
The situation is not quite so good in the rural co-operatives. These co-operatives are certainly growing. Last year, at the time of the congress, not less than 1,700,000 peasant households belonged to rural co-operatives. This year, at the time of the present congress, not less than 4,000,000 peasant households belong to them. These include a certain section of the rural poor, which gravitates towards the proletariat. Precisely for this reason it is of interest to ascertain to what extent the Party's influence has grown in the rural co-operatives. We have no figures for last year. This year, it appears (although it seems to me that the figures are doubtful), not less than 50 per cent of the members of the gubernia organs of the rural co-operatives are Communists. If that is true, it is a colossal step forward. The situation is not quite so good in the lower units; we are still unable to liberate the primary co-operative organisations from the influence of forces hostile to us.
The third transmission belt which links the class with the Party is the Youth Leagues. The colossal importance of the Youth League, and of the youth in general, for our Party's development scarcely needs proof. The figures we have at our disposal show that last year, at the time of the Eleventh Congress, the Youth League had a membership of not less than 400,000. Later, in the middle of 1922, when staffs were reduced, before the system of reserving places in the factories for young workers had been fully introduced, and before the Youth League had been able to adapt itself to the new conditions, the membership dropped to 200,000. Now, especially since last autumn, we have a colossal increase in the membership of the Youth League. It has a membership of not less than 400,000. The most welcome thing is that the increase is primarily due to the influx of young workers. The Youth Leagues are growing primarily in those districts where our industry is reviving.
You know that the Youth League's chief activity among the workers lies in the factory apprenticeship schools. The relevant figures show that last year, at the time of the Eleventh Congress, we had about 500 factory apprenticeship schools, with a total of 44,000 pupils. By January of this year we had over 700 schools, with a total of 50,000 pupils. The main thing, however, is that the increase comes from working-class members of the Youth League.
Like the previously mentioned front—the rural cooperative front—the youth front must be regarded as being under special threat because the attacks of our Party's enemies are specially persistent in this field. It is on these two fronts that the Party and its organisations must exert all efforts to secure predominating influence.
I pass next to the delegate meetings of working women. This, too, is for our organisations a, perhaps, inconspicuous, but very important, highly essential, transmission mechanism, which links our Party with working-class women. The figures at our disposal show the following: last year, at the time of the Eleventh Congress, we had in 57 gubernias and three regions about 16,000 women delegates, predominantly working women. This year, at the time of the present congress, in the same gu-bernias and regions, we have not less than 52,000 women delegates, of whom 33,000 are working women. This is a colossal step forward. It must be borne in mind that this is a front to which we have devoted little attention up till now, although it is of colossal importance for us. Since there is progress here, since there is a basis for strengthening this apparatus too, for extending and directing the Party's feelers with the object of undermining the influence of the priests among the youth whom these women are bringing up, it must naturally be one of the Party's immediate tasks to develop the maximum energy also on this front, which is undoubtedly in danger.
I pass to the schools. I refer to the political schools, the Soviet-Party schools and the Communist Universities. These are also an apparatus with the aid of which the Party spreads communist education, trains the educational commanding personnel who sow the seeds of socialism, the seeds of communism, among the working population and thereby link the Party with the working class by spiritual ties. The figures show that last year about 22,000 students attended the Soviet-Party schools. This year there are not less than 33,000, counting also those attending the urban political education schools that are financed by the Central Political Education Department. As regards the Communist Universities, which are of enormous importance for communist education, the increase is small: there were about 6,000 students, now there are 6,400. The Party's task is to exert greater efforts on this front, to intensify activity in training, in forging commanding staffs for communist education.
I pass to the press. The press is not a mass apparatus, a mass organisation, nevertheless, it establishes an imperceptible link between the Party and the working class, a link which is as strong as any mass transmission apparatus. It is said that the press is the sixth power. I do not know whether that is so or not, but that it is a potent one and carries great weight is beyond dispute. The press is a most powerful weapon by means of which the Party daily, hourly, speaks in its own language, the language it needs to use, to the working class. There are no other means of stretching spiritual threads-between the Party and the class, there is no other apparatus of equal flexibility. That is why the Party must pay special attention to this sphere, and it must be said that here we have already achieved some success. Take the newspapers. According to figures issued, last year we had 380 newspapers; this year we have no less than 528. The total circulation last year was 2,500,000, but this was a semi-artificial, not a live circulation. Last summer, when subsidies to the press were reduced and the press was faced with the necessity of standing on its own feet, the circulation dropped to 900,000. At the time of the present congress we have a circulation of about 2,000,000. Thus, it is becoming less artificial, the press is living on its own resources and is a sharp weapon in the hands of the Party; it gives it contact with the masses, otherwise the circulation could not increase and the increase be maintained.
I pass to the next transmission apparatus—the army. People are accustomed to regard the army as an apparatus of defence or attack. I, however, regard the army as a mustering centre of the workers and peasants. The history of all revolutions tells us that the army is the only mustering centre where workers and peasants from different gubernias, and who are strangers to one another, come together, and having come together, hammer out their political opinions. It is not by chance that big mobilisations and important wars always give rise to social conflicts, to mass revolutionary movements, of one kind or another. This occurs because it is in the army that peasants and workers from the most widely separated parts meet one another for the first time. Ordinarily, peasants from Voronezh do not meet Petrograd people, and men from Pskov never see men from Siberia; but in the army they do meet. The army is a school, a mustering centre of the workers and peasants, and from this point of view the Party's strength and influence in the army is of colossal importance, and in this respect the army is a tremendous apparatus that links the Party with the workers and the poor peasants. The army is the only mustering centre for the whole of Russia, for the entire federation, where people of different gubernias and regions come together, learn, and are drawn into political life. In this extremely important mass transmission apparatus the following changes have taken place: at the time of the last congress, Communists in the army numbered 7.5 per cent; this year the figure has reached 10.5 per cent. During this period the army was reduced in size, but in quality it has improved. The Party's influence has grown; in this principal mustering centre, too, we have achieved a victory as regards the growth of communist influence.
Last year, of the commanding staff, taking the latter as a whole, down to platoon commanders, 10 per cent were Communists; this year 13 per cent are Communists. Excluding platoon commanders, the corresponding figures of the proportion of Communists among the commanding staff are: 16 per cent last year, and 24 per cent this year.
Such are the transmission belts, the mass apparatuses, which surround our Party, and by linking it with the working class enable it to become a vanguard and the working class to become an army.
Such is the network of connections and transmission points by means of which the Party, as distinct from a military commanding staff, is transformed into a vanguard, and the working class is transformed from a diffuse mass into a real political army.
The successes shown by our Party in these spheres in strengthening these connections are due not only to the fact that the Party has grown in experience in this matter, and not only to the fact that the means of influencing these transmission apparatuses have been improved, but also to the fact that the general political state of the country has assisted, facilitated this.
Last year we had the famine, the results of the famine, depression in industry, dispersion of the working class, and so forth. This year, on the contrary, we have had a good harvest, a partial revival of industry, a beginning of the process of the re-concentration of the proletariat, and an improvement in the conditions of the workers. The old workers who had been compelled earlier to disperse to the villages are coming back to the mills and factories, and all this is creating a favourable political situation for the Party to conduct extensive work in strengthening the above-mentioned connecting apparatuses.
I pass to the second part of the report: concerning the Party and the state apparatus. The state apparatus is the chief mass apparatus linking the working class in power, represented by its party, with the peasantry, and which enables the working class, represented by its party, to lead the peasantry. I link this part of my report directly with the two well-known articles by Comrade Lenin. 3
It seemed to many people that the idea Comrade Lenin elaborated in those two articles is entirely new. I think that the idea that is elaborated in those articles is one with which Vladimir Ilyich was already pre-occupied last year. You no doubt remember the political report he made last year. He said that our policy was correct, but the apparatus was not working properly and, therefore, the car was not running in the right direction, it swerved. I remember that Shlyapnikov, commenting on this, said that the drivers were no good. That is wrong, of course, absolutely wrong. The policy is correct, the driver is excellent, and the type of car is good, it is a Soviet car, but some of the parts of the state car, i.e., some of the officials in the state apparatus, are bad, they are not our men. That is why the car does not run properly and, on the whole, we get a distortion of the correct political line. We get not implementation but distortion. The state apparatus, I repeat, is of the right type, but its component parts are still alien to us, bureaucratic, half tsarist-bourgeois. We want to have a state apparatus that will be a means of serving the mass of the people, but some persons in this state apparatus want to convert it into a source of gain for themselves. That is why the apparatus as a whole is not working properly. If we fail to repair it, the correct political line by itself will not carry us very far; it will be distorted, and there will be a rupture between the working class and the peasantry. We shall have a situation in which, although we shall be at the steering wheel, the car will not obey. There will be a crash. These are the ideas Comrade Lenin elaborated as far back as a year ago, and which only this year he formulated in a harmonious system in the proposal to reorganise the Central Control Commission and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection in such a way that the reorganised inspection apparatus should be transformed into a device for re-arranging all the parts of the car, for replacing the old useless parts with new ones, which must be done if we really want the car to go in the right direction.
That is the essence of Comrade Lenin's proposal.
I could mention a fact like the inspection of the Orekhovo-Zuyevo Trust, organised on Soviet lines, the function of which was to turn out the utmost quantity of manufactured goods to be supplied to the peasants, whereas this trust, organised on Soviet lines, delivered the goods it manufactured into private hands to the detriment of the state. The car was not going in the right direction.
I could mention the following fact, which Comrade Voroshilov told me the other day. We have an institution that is called the Industrial Bureau. There was an institution like that in the South-East. This apparatus had a staff of about 2,000. The function of this apparatus was to direct industry in the South-East. Comrade Voroshilov told me in despair that it was a difficult job to manage this apparatus, that to do so they had to set up an additional small apparatus, i.e., to manage the managing apparatus, Well, we found some good men: Voroshilov, Eismont and Mikoyan, who set about making a thorough investigation. And it turned out that instead of a staff of 2,000, one of 170 was enough. And what happened? It turns out that it is working much better than before. Formerly, the apparatus ate up all it produced. Now it is serving industry. A multitude of facts of this kind could be quoted, more than there are hairs on my head.
All these facts point only to one thing, namely, that our Soviet apparatuses, although of the right type, are frequently staffed with people whose habits and traditions upset our essentially correct political line. That is why the whole mechanism is not working properly, and the result is a great political setback, the danger of a rupture between the proletariat and the peasantry.
The matter stands as follows: either we improve the economic apparatuses, reduce their staffs, simplify them, make them cheaper to run, staff them with people who are akin to the Party in spirit, and then we shall achieve the purpose for which we introduced the so-called N.E.P., i.e., industry will turn out the maximum quantity of manufactured goods to supply the countryside and receive the produce it needs, and in this way we shall establish a bond between peasant economy and industrial economy; or we fail to do this, and there will be a crash.
Or again: either the state apparatus itself, the tax-collecting apparatus, will be simplified, reduced, and the thieves and scoundrels driven out of it, and then we shall be able to take less from the peasants than we do now and the national economy will come through the strain; or this apparatus will become an end in itself, as was the case in the South-East, and all that is taken from the peasants will go to maintain the apparatus itself, and then there will be a political crash.
These, I am convinced, are the considerations that guided Vladimir Ilyich when he wrote those articles.
There is yet another side to Comrade Lenin's proposals. His aim is not only to improve the apparatus and to increase the Party's leading role in it to the utmost —for the Party built the state and it is its duty to improve it; but evidently he also has in mind the moral side. His aim is that there should not be left in the country a single official, no matter how highly-placed, concerning whom the ordinary man might say: he is above the law. This moral aspect is the third aspect of Ilyich's proposal; it is precisely this proposal that sets the task of purging not only the state apparatus, but also the Party, of those traditions and habits of domineering bureaucrats which discredit our Party.
I now pass to the question of choosing staffs, i.e., the question which Ilyich spoke about already at the Eleventh Congress. If it is clear to us that as regards its composition, habits and traditions our state apparatus is no good, and that this threatens to cause a rupture between the workers and the peasants, then it is clear that the Party's leading role must find expression not only in the issue of directives, but also in the appointment to certain posts of people who are capable of understanding our directives and capable of carrying them out honestly. That no impassable border-line can be drawn between the Central Committee's political work and its organisational work needs no proof.
Hardly anyone of you would assert that it is enough to give a correct political line and the matter is finished. No, that is only half the matter. After a correct political line has been given it is necessary to choose staffs in such a way as to fill the various posts with people who are capable of carrying out the directives, able to understand the directives, able to accept these directives as their own and capable of putting them into effect. Otherwise the policy becomes meaningless, becomes mere gesticulation. That is why the Registration and Distribution Department, i.e., the organ of the Central Committee whose function it is to register our principal workers, at the bottom as well as at the top, and to distribute them, acquires immense importance. Until now this department has confined itself to registering and distributing comrades for Uyezd Committees, Gubernia Committees and Regional Committees. Beyond this, to put it bluntly, it did not stick its nose. Now that the war is over and there are no more mass, wholesale mobilisations, now that these have become quite purposeless — as was proved by the mobilisation of a thousand Party workers that was thrust upon the shoulders of the Central Committee last year, and which failed, because under present conditions, when our work has become more thorough and we are steering towards specialisation, when the qualifications of every single individual must be thoroughly scrutinised, wholesale mobilisations only make things worse and the localities gain nothing from them — now, the Registration and Distribution Department cannot confine itself to the Gubernia and Uyezd Committees.
I could quote several figures. The Eleventh Congress instructed the Central Committee to mobilise not less than a thousand Moscow Party workers. The Central Committee registered for mobilisation about 1,500. Owing to sickness and all sorts of other reasons, only 700 were mobilised; of these, according to the opinions expressed by the districts, 300 proved to be more or less suitable. Thus you have a fact which shows that the old type of wholesale mobilisation, such as was carried out in the past, is no longer suitable, because our Party work has become more thorough, it has become specialised for the different branches of the national economy, and to shift people about from place to place indiscriminately means, firstly, dooming them to idleness, and secondly, failing to satisfy even the minimum requirements of the organisations which demand new workers.
I would like to quote a few figures from a study of our industrial commanding staffs given in the pamphlet 4 by Sorokin, who works in the Registration and Distribution Department. But before quoting these figures I must speak about the reform of this department which the Central Committee carried out in the course of its work on the registration of responsible workers. Formerly, as I have already said, the Registration and Distribution Department confined itself to the Gubernia and Uyezd Committees. Now that our work has become more thorough and construction work is expanding everywhere, it must not confine itself to the Uyezd and Gubernia Committees. It must now cover all branches of the administration without exception, and the entire industrial commanding personnel by means of which the Party keeps control of our economic apparatus and exercises its leadership. With this in view, the Central Committee decided to enlarge the staffs of the Registration and Distribution Departments both at the centre and in the localities, so that their chiefs could have deputies for the economic and Soviet spheres respectively, and assistants to register commanding staffs according to factories, trusts and business organisations, local and central, in the Soviets and in the Party.
The effect of this reform soon made itself felt. In a short space of time it was possible to register the industrial commanding staff, consisting of about 1,300 factory managers. Of these, 29 per cent are Party members and 70 per cent non-Party. It might seem that non-Party persons predominate in importance in the basic enterprises, but that is not true. It appears that the Communists, the 29 per cent, are managers of the largest enterprises which employ a total of over 300,000 workers, while the non-Party persons, the 70 per cent, are managers of enterprises which embrace not more than 250,000 industrial workers. The small enterprises are managed by non-Party people, the big ones are managed by Party members. Further, among the managers who are Party members, those from the working class outnumber the others by three to one. This shows that unlike the top of the industrial structure — the Supreme Council of National Economy and its departments where there are few Communists, at the bottom, in the basic units, Communists, and primarily workers, have begun to take control of the enterprises. An interesting point is that as regards quality and suitability, there were more proficient factory managers among the Communists than among the non-Party people. This shows that in distributing Communists among the enterprises, the Party is guided not by purely Party considerations, not only by the aim of increasing the Party's influence in the enterprises, but also by practical considerations. Not only the Party as such, but the whole of our economic construction gains by this, for it turns out that there are far more proficient factory managers among the Communists than among the non-Party people.
That, then, is the first experiment in registering our industrial commanding staff, a new experiment, which, as I have said, covers by no means all the enterprises, for the 1,300 factory managers registered in this pamphlet represent only about half the number of enterprises that still have to be registered. But the experiment shows that this is an inexhaustibly rich field, and that the work of the Registration and Distribution Department must be expanded to the utmost so as to enable the Party to staff the managements of our basic enterprises with Communists and thereby exercise its leadership of the state apparatus.
The comrades are no doubt familiar with the proposals on the organisational question which the Central Committee is submitting for the consideration of the congress, proposals concerning both the Party and the Soviet sides. As regards the Soviet side, about which I have just spoken in the second part of my report, the Central Committee proposes that this question be submitted for detailed discussion to a special committee, which should study both the Party and the Soviet sides of the question and then submit its findings to the congress.
I pass to the third part of the report: on the Party as an organism, and the Party as an apparatus.
First of all I must say a word or two about the numerical strength of our Party. The figures show that last year, at the time of the Eleventh Congress, the Party had a membership of several tens of thousands over 400,000. This year, owing to the subsequent reduction of the Party membership, to the fact that in a number of regions the Party rid itself of non-proletarian elements, the membership has become smaller, it is a little below 400,000. This is not a loss, but a gain, for the social composition of the Party has improved. The most interesting thing in our Party's development as regards the improvement in its social composition is that the former tendency of the non-proletarian elements in the Party to grow faster than the working-class element ceased in the year under review; there was a turn for the better, a definite swing was to be noted towards an increase in the percentage of the working-class element of the membership over the non-proletarian element. This is precisely the success we strove for before the purge, and which we have now achieved. I will not say that we have already done all that should be done in this sphere; that is far from being the case. But we have achieved a turn for the better, we have achieved a certain minimum of uniformity, we have ensured the working-class composition of the Party, and evidently we shall have to continue this line of further reducing the non-proletarian elements in the Party and further increasing the proletarian elements. The measures by which the Central Committee proposes to achieve a further improvement in the Party membership are outlined in the Central Committee's proposals; I shall not repeat them. Evidently, we shall have to strengthen the barriers against an influx of non-proletarian elements, for at the present time, under the conditions of the N.E.P., when the Party is certainly exposed to the corrupting influence of N.E.P. elements, it is necessary to achieve the utmost uniformity in our Party's membership, or, at all events, a decisive preponderance of working-class over non-working-class elements. The Party must do this, it is its duty to do this, if it wants to remain the party of the working class.
I pass to the question of the life and activities of the Gubernia Committees. Often a note of irony creeps into some of the articles published in the press about the Gubernia Committees; the latter are often ridiculed and their activities are underrated. I, however, must say, comrades, that the Gubernia Committees are the main bulwark of our Party, that without the Gubernia Committees, without their guidance of Soviet and Party work, the Party would have no ground to stand on. In spite of all their shortcomings, in spite of the defects they still suffer from, in spite of the so-called squabbling and wrangling in the Gubernia Committees, taken as a whole they are the main bulwark of our Party.
How are the Gubernia Committees living and developing? About ten months ago I read letters from Gubernia Committees showing that the secretaries of our Gu-bernia Committees were then still confused about economic matters, that they had not yet adapted themselves to the new conditions. I have also read letters written ten months later; I read them with pleasure, with joy, because it is evident from them that the Gubernia Committees have matured, they have got into their stride, they have taken up construction work in earnest, they have put the local budgets in order, they have taken control of local economic development, they have really managed to take the lead of the entire economic and political life of their respective gubernias. This, comrades, is a great gain. The Gubernia Committees undoubtedly have their defects, but I must say that if they had not gained this Party and economic experience, if there had not been this tremendous step forward in the sense of the growth of maturity of the Gubernia Committees in directing local economic and political life, we could not even dream of the Party ever undertaking the leadership of the state apparatus.
There is talk about squabbling and friction in the Gubernia Committees. I must say that in addition to their bad sides, squabbling and friction have their good sides. The chief cause of the squabbling and wrangling is the effort of the Gubernia Committees to create within themselves a united, compact core capable of directing affairs smoothly. This aim and striving are quite healthy and legitimate, although they are often pursued by methods that are out of harmony with the aim. This is due to the diversity of our Party membership? to the fact that we have in our Party old hands and new, proletarians and intellectuals, people from the centre and from the border districts, and people of various nationalities; and all these diverse elements in the Gubernia Committees introduce there diverse customs and traditions and this gives rise to friction and squabbling. For all that, although it assumes impermissible forms, nine-tenths of this squabbling and friction is prompted by the healthy striving to create a solid core capable of directing the work. It needs no proof that if there were no such leading groups in the Gubernia Committees, if things were so arranged that the "good" and the "bad" counter-balanced each other, there would be no leadership in the gubernias, the tax in kind would not be collected, and we would be unable to carry through any campaigns. Such is the healthy side of the squabbling, which must not be obscured by the fact that it sometimes assumes ugly forms. This does not mean, of course, that the Party must not combat squabbling, especially when it arises on personal grounds.
That is how matters stand with the Gubernia Committees.
Below the Gubernia Committees, however, the Party, unfortunately, is not yet as strong as it might appear to be. Our Party's chief weakness, as far as the apparatus is concerned, lies precisely in the weakness of our Uyezd Committees, in the absence of reserves, namely, of uyezd secretaries. I think that the reason why we have not yet taken complete control of the principal apparatuses which link our Party with the working class—the apparatuses I spoke about in the first part of my report (I have in mind the lower Party units, the co-operatives, the women's delegate meetings, the Youth Leagues, etc.), the reason why the gubernia organs have not yet taken complete control of these apparatuses, is precisely that we are too weak in the uyezds.
I think that this is a fundamental question.
I think that one of our Party's fundamental tasks is to set up under the auspices of the Central Committee a school for training uyezd secretaries from among the most devoted and capable people, from among the peasants and workers. If the Party could by next year build around itself a reserve of 200 or 300 uyezd secretaries who could be sent to assist the Gubernia Committees in directing activities in the uyezds, it would thereby ensure guidance of all the mass transmission apparatuses. There would not then be a single consumers' co-operative, a single rural co-operative, a single factory or works committee, a single women's delegate meeting, a single Youth League unit, a single mass apparatus in which the Party's influence would not predominate.
Now about the regional organs. The past year has shown that the Party and the Central Committee were right in setting up regional organs, partly elected and partly appointed. When discussing the general question of delimiting administrative areas, the Central Committee arrived at the conclusion that in building up the regional Party organs, the Party must pass gradually from the principle of appointment to the principle of election, having in mind that such a change will undoubtedly create a favourable moral atmosphere around the Regional Party Committees and make it easier for the Central Committee to lead the Party.
I pass to the question of improving the Party's central organs. You have no doubt read the Central Committee's proposal that the functions of the Secretariat of the Central Committee should be quite clearly and precisely delimited from the functions of the Organising Bureau and of the Political Bureau. It is scarcely necessary to deal with this question separately, because it is perfectly clear. But there is one question—the enlargement of the Central Committee itself—which we have discussed several times inside the Central Committee, and which at one time gave rise to serious controversy. Some members of the Central Committee are of the opinion that the Central Committee should not be enlarged, but, on the contrary, reduced. I shall not give their reasons; let the comrades speak for themselves. I shall briefly give the reasons in favour of enlarging the Central Committee.
The present state of affairs in the central apparatus of our Party is as follows: we have 27 members on the Central Committee. The Central Committee meets once every two months; but within the Central Committee there is a core of 10-15 persons who have become so skilled in the matter of directing the political and economic activities of our organs that they are in danger of becoming something in the nature of high priests in the art of leadership. This may be a good thing, but it has a very dangerous side: these comrades who have acquired great experience in leadership may become infected by self-conceit, may isolate themselves and become divorced from work among the masses. If some members of the Central Committee, or, say, the core of fifteen, have acquired such experience and have become so skilled that in drawing up instructions they make no mistakes in nine cases out of ten, that is a very good thing. But if they have not around themselves a new generation of future leaders who are closely connected with the work in the localities, all the chances are that these highly-skilled men will become ossified and divorced from the masses.
Secondly, the core within the Central Committee that has gained great experience in the art of leadership is growing old; we must have people to take their place. You are aware of the state of Vladimir Ilyich's health. You know that the other members, too, of the main core of the Central Committee are pretty well worn out. The trouble is that we have not yet the new cadres to take their place. The training of Party leaders is a very difficult matter, it takes years, 5 to 10 years, more than 10. It is much easier to conquer a country with the aid of Comrade Budyonny's cavalry than to train two or three leaders from the rank and file capable of becoming real leaders of the country. And it is high time to think about training young leaders to take the place of the old. There is only one way of doing this, namely, to draw new, fresh forces into the work of the Central Committee and to promote them in the course of work, to promote the most capable and independent of them, those whose heads are screwed on in the right way. Leaders cannot be trained by means of books. Books help to make progress, but they do not create leaders. Leading workers mature only in the course of the work itself. Only by electing new members to the Central Committee, by letting them experience the entire burden of leadership, shall we be able to train the replacements whom we need so much in the present state of things. That is why I think that the congress would make a profound mistake if it disagreed with the Central Committee's proposal that it be enlarged to at least forty members.
In concluding my report I must mention a fact which is not conspicuous—perhaps because it is too well known— but which should be mentioned because it is very important. I mean the unity of our Party, that unexampled solidarity which enabled our Party to avoid a split during such a turn as the introduction of the N.E.P. Not a single party in the world, not a single political party, could have made such an abrupt turn without confusion, without a split, without some group or other falling out of the cart. It is well known that when a turn like this is made, some group or other falls out of the cart, and confusion, if not a split, begins in the party. We had such a turn in the history of our Party in 1907 and 1908, when, after 1905 and 1906, having been accustomed to revolutionary struggle, we did not want to go over to humdrum legal activity, we did not want to go into the Duma, to make use of legal institutions, to strengthen our positions in legal organisations and, in general, refused to adopt new methods. This turn was not as abrupt as the introduction of the N.E.P., but, evidently because we were then still a young party and had not yet gained experience in manoeuvring, the result was that two whole groups fell out of the cart at that time. Our present turn towards the N.E.P. after our policy of the offensive is an abrupt turn. And yet, during such a turn, when the proletariat was obliged temporarily to give up the offensive and retire to its former positions, was obliged to turn towards the peasantry in the rear in order not to lose contact with it, when the proletariat had to think about strengthening, reinforcing, its reserves in the East and in the West—during such an abrupt turn the Party not only avoided a split, but made the turn without confusion.
It testifies to the Party's unexampled flexibility, unity and solidarity.
It is a guarantee that our Party will triumph.
Last year our enemies croaked about disintegration in our Party, and they are croaking about it this year too. Nevertheless, while entering on the New Economic Policy we retained our positions, we have kept the threads of the national economy in our hands, and the Party continues to march forward, united to a man, whereas it is our enemies who are actually undergoing disintegration and liquidation. You have no doubt heard, comrades, that a congress of the Socialist-Revolutionaries took place in Moscow recently. 5 That congress decided to appeal to our congress to open the door of our Party to the Socialist-Revolutionaries. You have no doubt also heard that Georgia, the former citadel of Menshevism, where the Menshevik Party has no less than 10,000 members, that stronghold of Menshevism is already collapsing and about 2,000 members have left the Menshevik ranks. That would seem to show that it is not our Party that is disintegrating, but that it is our enemies who are disintegrating. And lastly, you no doubt know that one of the most honest and practical of the Menshevik leaders—Comrade Martynov—has left the ranks of the Mensheviks, and the Central Committee has accepted him as a member of our Party and moves that this congress endorse this acceptance. (Some applause.) All these facts show, comrades, not that things are bad in our Party, but that disintegration has set in among our enemies all along the line, while our Party has remained solid and united, it has stood the test of a momentous turn, and is marching forward with flying colours. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
Comrades, my reply to the discussion will consist of two parts. In the first part I shall deal with the Central Committee's organising work, since it was criticised by speakers. In the second part I shall deal with those of the Central Committee's organisational proposals which speakers did not criticise, and with which the congress evidently agrees.
First I shall say a few words about the critics of the Central Committee's report.
About Lutovinov. He is displeased with the regime in our Party: there is no free speech in our Party, there is no legality, no democracy. He knows, of course, that never in the past six years has the Central Committee prepared for a congress so democratically as it prepared for this one. He knows that immediately after the February Plenum, the members of the Central Committee and the candidate members of the Central Committee dispersed to all parts of our federation and delivered reports on the work of the Central Committee. He, Lutovinov, must know that four issues of the Discussion Sheet6 have already appeared, and in them the Central Committee's activities are analysed and interpreted quite at random, I repeat, at random. But that is not enough for Lutovinov. He wants "real" democracy; he wants to have at least all the major questions discussed in all the units, from the bottom up; he wants the whole Party to be stirred up on every question and to take part in the discussion of it. But, comrades, now that we are in power, now that we have no fewer than 400,000 members and no fewer than 20,000 Party units, I do not know what that sort of thing would lead to. The Party would be transformed into a debating society that would be eternally talking and would decide nothing. But above all our Party must be a party of action, for we are in power.
Furthermore, Lutovinov forgets that although we are in power within the federation and enjoy all the advantages of legality, from the international standpoint, however, we are going through a period similar to that which we went through in 1912, when the Party was semi-legal, or rather, illegal, when the Party had a few legal footholds in the shape of the group in the Duma, in the shape of legal newspapers and clubs, but at the same time was surrounded by enemies, and was striving to accumulate forces in order to push forward, and to enlarge the legal framework. We are now going through a similar period on an international scale. We are surrounded by enemies— that is evident to everybody. The imperialist wolves who surround us are wide awake. Not a moment passes without our enemies trying to capture some gap through which to crawl and do us damage. There are no grounds for asserting that the enemies who surround us are not conducting some kind of preparatory work for a blockade, or for intervention. Such is the situation. Is it possible in such a situation to discuss all questions of war and peace in public? To discuss a question at meetings of 20,000 Party units is tantamount to discussing it in public. What would have become of us had we discussed in public all our preliminary work for the Genoa Conference? We would have gone down with a crash. It must be borne in mind that in a situation, when we are surrounded by enemies, a sudden stroke, an unexpected manoeuvre on our part, swift action, decides everything. What would have become of us if instead of discussing our political campaign at the Lausanne Conference in a narrow circle of trusted Party people, we had discussed all this work publicly, had exposed our hand? Our enemies would have taken all the weak and strong points into account, they would have defeated our campaign, and we would have left Lausanne in disgrace. What would become of us if we were to discuss publicly in advance the questions of war and peace, the most important of all important questions? For, I repeat, to discuss questions at meetings of 20,000 units is tantamount to discussing them in public. We would be smashed in no time. It is obvious, comrades, that for both organisational and political reasons Lutovinov's so-called democracy is a fantasy, is democratic Manilovism. It is false and dangerous. Lutovinov's road is not ours.
I pass on to Osinsky. He pounced upon the phrase in my statement that in enlarging the Central Committee we must get independent people on it. Yes, yes, Sorin, independent, but not freelances. Osinsky thinks that on this point I established some sort of a link with Osinsky, with democratic centralism. 7 I did say that the Central Committee should be reinforced with comrades who are independent. I did not say independent of what, knowing in advance that it is unwise to deal exhaustively with all points in the main speech, that something should be left for the speech in reply to the discussion. (Laughter. Applause.) We need independent people in the Central Committee, but not people independent of Leninism—no comrades, God forbid! We need independent people, people free from personal influences, free from the habits and traditions of the internal struggle in the Central Committee that we have acquired, and which sometimes cause anxiety in the Central Committee. You remember Comrade Lenin's article. He says in it that we are faced with the prospect of a split. Since that passage in Comrade Lenin's article might have caused the organisations to think that a split is already maturing in the Party, the members of the Central Committee unanimously decided to dispel doubts that might arise and said that there is no split in the Central Committee, which is quite in accordance with the facts. But the Central Committee also said that the prospect of a split is not excluded. That, too, is quite correct. In the course of its work during the past six years the Central Committee has acquired (and was bound to acquire) certain habits and traditions of struggle within it which sometimes create an atmosphere that is not quite good. I felt this atmosphere at one of the last plenary meetings of the Central Committee in February, and I remarked at the time that the intervention of people from the districts often decides the whole matter. We need people who are independent of those traditions and of those personal influences in order that, on becoming members of the Central Committee and bringing into it the experience of practical work and contact with the districts, they should serve as the mortar, so to speak, to cement the Central Committee as a single and indivisible collective body leading our Party. We need such independent comrades, free from the old traditions that have become established in the Central Committee, precisely as people who will introduce a new, refreshing element that will cement the Central Committee, and avert any possibility of a split within it. That is what I meant when I spoke about independent people.
Comrades, I cannot ignore the thrust that Osinsky made at Zinoviev. He praised Comrade Stalin, he praised Kamenev, but he kicked Zinoviev, calculating that it will be enough to get rid of one for the time being, and that the turn of the others will come later. He has set out to break up the core that has been formed within the Central Committee in the course of years of work in order gradually, step by step, to break up the whole. If Osinsky seriously thinks of pursuing that aim, if he seriously thinks of launching such attacks against individual members of the core of our Central Committee, I must warn him that he will collide with a wall against which, I am afraid, he will break his head.
Lastly, about Mdivani. May I be permitted to say a few words about this question, which has bored the whole congress. He talked about the Central Committee's vacillations. He said that one day it decides to unite the economic efforts of the three Transcaucasian republics, the next day it decides that these republics should unite in a federation, and the day after that it takes a third decision that all the Soviet republics should unite in a Union of Republics. That is what he calls the Central Committee's vacillations. Is that right? No, comrades, that is not vacillation, it is system. The independent republics first drew together on an economic basis. That step was taken as far back as 1921. After it was found that the experiment of drawing together the republics was producing good results the next step was taken—federation, particularly in a place like Transcaucasia, where it is impossible to dispense with a special organ of national peace. As you know, Transcaucasia is a country where there were Tatar-Armenian massacres while still under the tsar, and war under the Mussavatists, Dashnaks and Mensheviks. To put a stop to that strife an organ of national peace was needed, i.e., a supreme authority whose word would carry weight. It was absolutely impossible to create such an organ of national peace without the participation of representatives of the Georgian nation. And so, several months after the economic efforts were united, the next step was taken—a federation of republics, and a year after that yet another step was taken, marking the final stages in the process of uniting the republics—a Union of Republics was formed. Where is there vacillation in that? It is the system of our national policy. Mdivani has simply failed to grasp the essence of our Soviet policy, although he regards himself as an old Bolshevik.
He asked a number of questions, insinuating that the major questions concerning the national aspect of affairs in Transcaucasia, and particularly in Georgia, were decided either by the Central Committee or by individuals. The fundamental question in Transcaucasia is the question of the federation of Transcaucasia. Permit me to read a small document that gives the history of the directive of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. on the Transcaucasian Federation.
On November 28, 1921, Comrade Lenin sent me a draft of his proposal for the formation of a federation of the Transcaucasian republics. It states:
"1) to recognise the federation of the Transcaucasian republics as absolutely correct in principle and its realisation as absolutely necessary, although it would be premature to apply it in practice immediately, i.e., it would require several weeks for discussion and propaganda, and for carrying it through from below;
"2) to instruct the Central Committees of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to carry out this decision."
I wrote to Comrade Lenin and suggested that there should be no hurry about this, that we ought to wait a little to give the local people a certain period of time to carry through the federation. I wrote to him :
"Comrade Lenin, I am not opposed to your resolution, if you agree to accept the following amendment: instead of the words ‘would require several weeks for discussion,' in Point 1, say: ‘would require a certain period of time for discussion,' and so on, in accordance with your resolution. The point is that in Georgia it is impossible to ‘carry through' federation ‘from below' by ‘Soviet procedure' in ‘several weeks,' since the Soviets in Georgia are only just beginning to be organised. They are not yet completely built. A month ago they did not exist at all, and to call a Congress of Soviets there in ‘several weeks' is inconceivable; and, well, a Transcaucasian federation without Georgia would be a federation on paper only. I think we must allow two or three months for the idea of federation to triumph among the broad masses of Georgia. Stalin."
Comrade Lenin answered: "I accept this amendment."
Next day that proposal was adopted by the votes of Lenin, Trotsky, Kamenev, Molotov and Stalin. Zinoviev was absent, his place was taken by Molotov. The decision was adopted by the Political Bureau at the end of 1921, as you see, unanimously. The struggle which the group of Georgian Communists headed by Mdivani is waging against the Central Committee's directive concerning federation dates back to that time. You see, comrades, that the case is not as Mdivani presented it. I quote this document against those unseemly insinuations which Mdivani made here.
The second question: how is the fact to be explained that the group of comrades headed by Mdivani has been recalled by the Central Committee of the Party, what is the reason of that? There are two chief and, at the same time, formal reasons. I must say this because reproaches have been levelled at the Central Committee, and at me in particular.
The first reason is that the Mdivani group has no influence in its own Georgian Communist Party, that it is repudiated by the Georgian Communist Party itself. This Party has held two congresses: the first congress was held at the beginning of 1922, and the second was held at the beginning of 1923. At both congresses the Mdivani group, and its idea of rejecting federation, was emphatically opposed by its own Party. At the first congress, I think, out of a total of 122 votes he obtained somewhere about 18; and at the second congress, out of a total of 144 votes he obtained about 20. Mdivani was persistently refused election to the Central Committee; his position was systematically rejected. On the first occasion, at the beginning of 1922, we in the Central Committee brought pressure to bear upon the Communist Party of Georgia and compelled it against its will to accept these old comrades (Mdivani is certainly an old comrade, and so is Makharadze), thinking that the two groups, the majority and the minority, would eventually work together. In the interval between the first and second congresses, however, there were a number of conferences, city and all-Georgian, at which the Mdi-vani group was everywhere severely trounced by its own Party, until finally, at the last congress, Mdivani barely scraped together 18 votes out of 140.
The Transcaucasian Federation is an organisation that affects not only Georgia, but the whole of Transcaucasia. As a rule, the Georgian Party congress is followed by a Transcaucasian congress. There we have the same picture. At the last Transcaucasian congress, out of a total of, I think, 244 votes, Mdivani barely obtained about 10 votes. Such are the facts. What is the Central Committee of the Party to do in such a situation, where the Party, the Georgian organisation itself, cannot stand the Mdivani group? I understand our policy in the national question to be a policy of concessions to non-Russians and to national prejudices. That policy is undoubtedly correct. But is it permissible to go on without end thwarting the will of the Party in which the Mdivani group has to work? In my opinion it is not. On the contrary, we must as far as possible harmonise our actions with the will of the Party in Georgia. That is what the Central Committee did when it recalled certain members of this group.
The second reason that prompted the Central Committee to recall certain comrades of this group is that they repeatedly disobeyed the decisions of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. I have already told you the history of the decision concerning federation; I have already said that without this organ national peace is impossible; that in Transcaucasia only the Soviet Government succeeded in establishing national peace by creating the federation. That is why we in the Central Committee regarded that decision as being absolutely binding. But what do we see? That the Mdivani group disobeys that decision. More than that, it opposes it. That has been established both by Comrade Dzerzhinsky's commission and by the Kamenev-Kuibyshev commission. Even now, after the decision of the March Plenum concerning Georgia, Mdivani is continuing to oppose federation. What is that if not contempt for the Central Committee's decisions?
Such are the circumstances that compelled the Central Committee of the Party to recall Mdivani.
Mdivani tries to make it appear that, in spite of his recall, he is the victor. If that is victory, I don't know what defeat is. You know, of course, that Don Quixote, of blessed memory, also regarded himself as the victor when he was knocked head over heels by windmill sails. I have a notion that certain comrades who are working in a certain piece of Soviet territory called Georgia are not all there in their upper storeys.
I pass on to Comrade Makharadze. He declared here that he is an old Bolshevik in the national question, that he belongs to the school of Lenin. That is not true, comrades. At the conference held in April 1917,8 Comrade Lenin and I fought against Comrade Makharadze. He was then against the self-determination of nations, against the basis of our programme, against the right of nations to exist as independent states. He upheld that standpoint and fought the Party. Later he changed his opinion (that, of course, is to his credit), but still, he should not have forgotten this! He is not an old Bolshevik in the national question, but rather a fairly young one.
Comrade Makharadze put to me a parliamentary interpellation: do I admit, or does the Central Committee admit, that the organisation of the Georgian Communists is a real organisation which is to be trusted, and if so, does the Central Committee agree to this organisation having the right to raise questions and put forward its proposals? If all that is admitted, does the Central Committee consider that the regime that has been established there, in Georgia, is intolerable?
I shall answer this parliamentary interpellation.
Of course, the Central Committee trusts the Communist Party of Georgia—whom else should it trust?! The Communist Party of Georgia represents the essence, the best elements, of the Georgian people, without whom it would be impossible to govern Georgia. But every organisation consists of a majority and a minority. We have not a single organisation in which there is not a majority and a minority. And in practice we see that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia consists of a majority which is carrying out the Party line, and of a minority which does not always carry out this line. Obviously, we are referring to trust in the organisation as represented by its majority.
The second question: Have the national Central Committees the right to initiative, to raise questions; have they the right to make proposals?
Of course they have. That is obvious. What I do not understand is, why did Comrade Makharadze not present us with any facts to prove that the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Georgia is not allowed to raise questions, is not allowed to make proposals and to discuss them? I am not aware of any such facts. I think that Comrade Makharadze would submit such materials to the Central Committee if he had any at all.
The third question: can the regime that has been created in Georgia be tolerated?
Unfortunately, the question lacks concreteness. What regime? If he means the regime under which the Soviet power in Georgia has recently been ejecting the nobles from their nests, and also Mensheviks and counter-revolutionaries, if he means that regime, then, in my opinion, there is nothing bad about it. It is our Soviet regime. If, however, he means that the Transcaucasian Territorial Committee has created conditions making it impossible for the Communist Party of Georgia to develop, I have no facts to show that this is so. The Georgian Central Committee that was elected at the last congress of the Georgian Communist Party by 110 votes against 18, did not raise this question with us. It is working in complete harmony with the Transcaucasian Territorial Committee of our Party. If there is a small group, a trend, in short, members of the Party, who are dissatisfied with the Party regime, they ought to submit the relevant material to the Central Committee. Two commissions have already been to Georgia to investigate such complaints, one that of Dzerzhinsky, and the other that of Kamenev and Kuibyshev. We can set up a third commission if need be.
With this I conclude the first part of my reply to the discussion on the Central Committee's organisational activities during the past year.
I pass on to the second part, to the proposals on organisation which the Central Committee has submitted for the consideration of the congress. As far as I know, none of the speakers has criticised any of the proposals submitted by the Central Committee. I interpret this as an expression of complete agreement with the proposals the Central Committee has submitted for your consideration. Nevertheless, I would like to help, and to move a number of amendments. I shall submit these amendments to the committee which the Central Committee thinks should be set up, to the Organisational Committee, in which Comrade Molotov will be in charge of the main work as regards Party affairs, and Comrade Dzerzhinsky as regards Soviet affairs.
The first amendment is that the number of candidate members of the Central Committee be increased from five to at least fifteen.
The second amendment is that special attention be devoted to strengthening and enlarging the Registration and Distribution departments both at the top and bottom levels, because these bodies are now acquiring enormous, first-rate importance, because they are the most effective means by which the Party can keep hold of all the threads of our economy and of the Soviet apparatus.
The third amendment is that the congress should approve the proposal to set up under the auspices of the Central Committee a school for training uyezd secretaries, so that by the end of the year the Gubernia Committees may have 200 to 300 uyezd secretaries at their disposal.
And the fourth amendment concerns the press. I have nothing concrete to propose on this point, but I would like the congress to pay particular attention to the task of raising the press to the proper level. It is making progress, it has made big progress, but not as much as is needed. The press must grow day in and day out—it is our Party's sharpest and most powerful weapon.
In conclusion, a few words about the present congress. Comrades, I must say that I have not for a long time seen a congress so united and inspired by a single idea as this one is. I regret that Comrade Lenin is not here. If he were here he would be able to say: "I tended the Party for twenty-five years and made it great and strong." (Prolonged applause.)
Comrades, this is the third time since the October Revolution that we are discussing the national question: the first time was at the Eighth Congress, the second was at the Tenth, and the third at the Twelfth. Does this indicate that some fundamental change has taken place in our views on the national question? No, our fundamental outlook on the national question has remained what it was before and after the October Revolution. But since the Tenth Congress the international situation has changed in that the heavy reserves of the revolution which the countries of the East now constitute have acquired greater importance. That is the first point. The second point is that since the Tenth Congress our Party has also witnessed certain changes in the internal situation in connection with the New Economic Policy. All these new factors must be taken into account and the conclusions must be drawn from them. It is in this sense that it can be said that the national question is being presented at the Twelfth Congress in a new way.
The international significance of the national question. You know, comrades, that by the will of history we, the Soviet federation, now represent the advanced detachment of the world revolution. You know that we were the first to breach the general capitalist front, that it has been our destiny to be ahead of all others. You know that in our advance we got as far as Warsaw, that we then retreated and entrenched ourselves in the positions we considered strongest. From that moment we passed to the New Economic Policy, from that moment we took into account the slowing down of the international revolutionary movement, and from that moment our policy changed from the offensive to the defensive. We could not advance after we had suffered a reverse at Warsaw (let us not hide the truth); we could not advance, for we would have run the risk of being cut off from the rear, which in our case is a peasant rear; and, lastly, we would have run the risk of advancing too far ahead of the reserves of the revolution with which destiny has provided us, the reserves in the West and the East. That is why we made a turn towards the New Economic Policy within the country, and towards a slower advance outside; for we decided that it was necessary to have a respite, to heal our wounds, the wounds of the advanced detachment, the proletariat, to establish contact with the peasant rear and to conduct further work among the reserves, which were lagging behind us—the reserves in the West and the heavy reserves in the East which are the main rear of world capitalism. It is these reserves— heavy reserves, which at the same time are the rear of world imperialism—that we have in mind when discussing the national question.
One thing or the other: either we succeed in stirring up, in revolutionising, the remote rear of imperialism— the colonial and semi-colonial countries of the East— and thereby hasten the fall of imperialism; or we fail to do so, and thereby strengthen imperialism and weaken the force of our movement. That is how the question stands.
The fact of the matter is that the whole East regards our Union of Republics as an experimental field. Either we find a correct practical solution of the national question within the framework of this Union, either we here, within the framework of this Union, establish truly fraternal relations and true co-operation among the peoples —in which case the whole East will see that our federation is the banner of its liberation, is its advanced detachment, in whose footsteps it must follow—and that will be the beginning of the collapse of world imperialism. Or we commit a blunder here, undermine the confidence of the formerly oppressed peoples in the proletariat of Russia, and deprive the Union of Republics of the power of attraction which it possesses in the eyes of the East— in which case imperialism will win and we shall lose.
Therein lies the international significance of the national question.
The national question is also of importance for us from the standpoint of the internal situation, not only because the former dominant nation numbers about 75,000,000 and the other nations 65,000,000 (not a small figure, anyway), and not only because the formerly oppressed nationalities inhabit areas that are the most essential for our economic development and the most important from the standpoint of military strategy, but above all because during the past two years we have introduced what is known as the N.E.P., as a result of which Great-Russian nationalism has begun to grow and become more pronounced, the Smena-Vekhist idea has come into being, and one can discern the desire to accomplish by peaceful means what Denikin failed to accomplish, i.e., to create the so-called "one and indivisible."
Thus, as a result of the N.E.P., a new force is arising in the internal life of our country, namely, Great-Russian chauvinism, which entrenches itself in our institutions, which penetrates not only the Soviet institutions, but also the Party institutions, and which is to be found in all parts of our federation. Consequently, if we do not resolutely combat this new force, if we do not cut it off at the root—and the N.E.P. conditions foster it—we run the risk of being confronted by a rupture between the proletariat of the former dominant nation and the peasants of the formerly oppressed nations— which will mean undermining the dictatorship of the proletariat.
But the N.E.P. fosters not only Great-Russian chauvinism—it also fosters local chauvinism, especially in those republics where there are several nationalities. I have in mind Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bukhara and partly Turkestan; in each of these there are several nationalities, the advanced elements of which may soon begin to compete among themselves for supremacy. Of course, this local chauvinism as regards its strength is not such a danger as Great-Russian chauvinism. But it is a danger nevertheless, for it threatens to convert some of the republics into arenas of national squabbling and to weaken the bonds of internationalism there.
Such are the international and internal circumstances that make the national question one of great, of first-rate, importance in general, and at the present moment in particular.
What is the class essence of the national question? Under the present conditions of Soviet development, the class essence of the national question lies in the establishment of correct mutual relations between the proletariat of the former dominant nation and the peasantry of the formerly oppressed nationalities. The question of the bond has been more than sufficiently discussed here, but when this question was discussed in connection with the report of Kamenev, Kalinin, Sokolnikov, Rykov and Trotsky, what was mainly in mind was the relations between the Russian proletariat and the Russian peasantry. Here, in the national sphere, we have a more complex mechanism. Here we are concerned with establishing correct mutual relations between the proletariat of the former dominant nation, which is the most cultured section of the proletariat in our entire federation, and the peasantry, mainly of the formerly oppressed nationalities. This is the class essence of the national question. If the proletariat succeeds in establishing with the peasantry of the other nationalities relations that can eradicate all remnants of mistrust towards everything Russian, a mistrust implanted and fostered for decades by the policy of tsarism—if, moreover, the Russian proletariat succeeds in establishing complete mutual understanding and confidence, in effecting a genuine alliance not only between the proletariat and the Russian peasantry, but also between the proletariat and peasantry of the formerly oppressed nationalities, the problem will be solved. To achieve this, proletarian power must become as dear to the peasantry of the other nationalities as it is to the Russian peasantry. And in order that Soviet power may become dear also to the peasants of these nationalities, it must be understood by these peasants, it must function in their native languages, the schools and governmental bodies must be staffed with local people who know the language, habits, customs and manner of life of the non-Russian nationalities. Soviet power, which until very recently was Russian power, will become a power which is not merely Russian but inter-national, a power dear to the peasants of the formerly oppressed nationalities, only when and to the degree that the institutions and governmental bodies in the republics of these countries begin to speak and function in the native languages.
That is one of the fundamentals of the national question in general, and under Soviet conditions in particular.
What is the characteristic feature of the solution of the national question at the present moment, in 1923? What form have the problems requiring solution in the national sphere assumed in 1923? The form of establishing co-operation between the peoples of our federation in the economic, military and political spheres. I have in mind inter-national relations. The national question, at the basis of which lie the tasks of establishing correct relations between the proletariat of the former dominant nation and the peasantry of the other nationalities, assumes at the present time the special form of establishing the co-operation and fraternal co-existence of those nations which were formerly disunited and which are now uniting in a single state.
Such is the essence of the national question in the form it has assumed in 1923.
The concrete form of this state union is the Union of Republics, which we already discussed at the Congress of Soviets at the end of last year, and which we then established.
The basis of this Union is the voluntary consent and the juridical equality of the members of the Union. Voluntary consent and equality—because our national programme starts out from the clause on the right of nations to exist as independent states, what was formerly called the right to self-determination. Proceeding from this, we must definitely say that no union of peoples into a single state can be durable unless it is based on absolutely voluntary consent, unless the peoples themselves wish to unite. The second basis is the juridical equality of the peoples which form the Union. That is natural. I am not speaking of actual equality—I shall come to that later—for the establishment of actual equality between nations which have forged ahead and backward nations is a very complicated, very difficult, matter that must take a number of years. I am speaking now about juridical equality. This equality finds expression in the fact that all the republics, in this case the four republics: Transcaucasia, Byelorussia, the Ukraine and the R.S.F.S.R., forming the Union, enjoy the benefits of the Union to an equal degree and at the same time to an equal degree forgo certain of their independent rights in favour of the Union. If the R.S.F.S.R., the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Transcaucasian Republic are not each to have its own People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, it is obvious that the abolition of these Commissariats and the establishment of a common Commissariat of Foreign Affairs for the Union of Republics will entail a certain restriction of the independence which these republics formerly enjoyed, and this restriction will be equal for all the republics forming the Union. Obviously, if these republics formerly had their own People's Commissariats of Foreign Trade, and these Commissariats are now abolished both in the R.S.F.S.R. and in the other republics in order to make way for a common Commissariat of Foreign Trade for the Union of Republics, this too will involve a certain restriction of the independence formerly enjoyed in full measure, but now curtailed in favour of the common Union, and so on, and so forth. Some people ask a purely scholastic question, namely: do the republics remain independent after uniting? That is a scholastic question. Their independence is restricted, for every union involves a certain restriction of the former rights of the parties to the union. But the basic elements of independence of each of these republics certainly remain, if only because every republic retains the right to secede from the Union at its own discretion.
Thus, the concrete form the national question has assumed under the conditions at present prevailing in our country is how to achieve the co-operation of the peoples in economic, foreign and military affairs. We must unite the republics along these lines into a single union called the U.S.S.R. Such are the concrete forms the national question has assumed at the present time.
But that is easier said than done. The fact of the matter is that under the conditions prevailing in our country, there are, in addition to the factors conducive to the union of the peoples into one state, a number of factors which hinder this union.
You know what the conducive factors are: first of all, the economic coming together of the peoples that was established prior to Soviet power and which was consolidated by Soviet power; a certain division of labour between the peoples, established before our time, but consolidated by us, by the Soviet power. That is the basic factor conducive to the union of the republics into a Union. The nature of Soviet power must be regarded as the second factor conducive to union. That is natural. Soviet power is the power of the workers, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which by its very nature disposes the labouring elements of the republics and peoples which form the Union to live in friendly relations with one another. That is natural. And the third factor conducive to union is the imperialist encirclement, forming an environment in which the Union of Republics is obliged to operate.
But there are also factors which hinder, which impede, this union. The principal force impeding the union of the republics into a single union is that force which, as I have said, is growing in our country under the conditions of the N.E.P.: Great-Russian chauvinism. It is by no means accidental, comrades, that the Smena-Vekh-ites have recruited a large number of supporters among Soviet officials. That is by no means accidental. Nor is it accidental that Messieurs the Smena-Vekhites are singing the praises of the Bolshevik Communists, as much as to say: You may talk about Bolshevism as much as you like, you may prate as much as you like about your internationalist tendencies, but we know that you will achieve what Denikin failed to achieve, that you Bolsheviks have resurrected, or at all events will resurrect, the idea of a Great Russia. All that is not accidental. Nor is it accidental that this idea has even penetrated some of our Party institutions. At the February Plenum, where the question of a second chamber was first raised, I witnessed how certain members of the Central Committee made speeches which were inconsistent with communism—speeches which had nothing in common with internationalism. All this is a sign of the times, an epidemic. The chief danger that arises from this is that, owing to the N.E.P., dominant-nation chauvinism is growing in our country by leaps and bounds, striving to obliterate all that is not Russian, to gather all the threads of government into the hands of Russians and to stifle everything that is not Russian. The chief danger is that with such a policy we run the risk that the Russian proletarians will lose the confidence of the formerly oppressed nations which they won in the October days, when they overthrew the landlords and the Russian capitalists, when they smashed the chains of national oppression within Russia, withdrew the troops from Persia and Mongolia, proclaimed the independence of Finland and Armenia and, in general, put the national question on an entirely new basis. Unless we all arm ourselves against this new, I repeat, Great-Russian chauvinism, which is advancing, creeping, insinuating itself drop by drop into the eyes and ears of our officials and step by step corrupting them, we may lose down to the last shreds the confidence we earned at that time. It is this danger, comrades, that we must defeat at all costs. Otherwise we are threatened with the prospect of losing the confidence of the workers and peasants of the formerly oppressed peoples, we are threatened with the prospect of a rupture of the ties between these peoples and the Russian proletariat, and this threatens us with the danger of a crack being formed in the system of our dictatorship.
Do not forget, comrades, that if we were able to march against Kerensky with flying colours and overthrow the Provisional Government it was because, among other things, we were backed by the confidence of the oppressed peoples that were expecting liberation at the hands of the Russian proletarians. Do not forget such reserves as the oppressed peoples, who are silent, but who by their silence exert pressure and decide a great deal. This is often not felt, but these peoples are living, they exist, and they must not be forgotten. Do not forget that if we had not had in the rear of Kolchak, Denikin, Wran-gel and Yudenich the so-called "aliens," if we had not had the formerly oppressed peoples, who disorganised the rear of those generals by their tacit sympathy for the Russian-proletarians—comrades, this is a special factor in our development, this tacit sympathy, which nobody hears or sees, but which decides everything—if it had not been for this sympathy, we would not have knocked out a single one of these generals. While we were marching against them, disintegration began in their rear. Why? Because those generals depended on the Cossack colonising elements, they held out to the oppressed peoples the prospect of further oppression, and the oppressed peoples were therefore pushed into our arms, while we unfurled the banner of the liberation of these oppressed peoples. That is what decided the fate of those generals; such is the sum-total of the factors which, although overshadowed by our armies' victories, in the long run decided everything. That must not be forgotten. That is why we must make a sharp turn towards combating the new chauvinist sentiments and pillory those bureaucrats in our institutions and those Party comrades who are forgetting what we gained in October, namely, the confidence of the formerly oppressed peoples, a confidence that we must cherish.
It must be understood that if a force like Great-Russian chauvinism blossoms and spreads, there will be no confidence on the part of the formerly oppressed peoples, we shall have no co-operation within a single union, and we shall have no Union of Republics.
Such is the first and most dangerous factor that is impeding the union of the peoples and republics into a single union.
The second factor, comrades, which is also hindering the union of the formerly oppressed peoples around the Russian proletariat, is the actual inequality of nations that we have inherited from the period of tsarism.
We have proclaimed juridical equality and are practising it; but juridical equality, although in itself of very great importance in the history of the development of the Soviet republics, is still far from being actual equality. Formally, all the backward nationalities and all the peoples enjoy just as many rights as are enjoyed by the other, more advanced, nations which constitute our federation. But the trouble is that some nationalities have no proletarians of their own, have not undergone industrial development, have not even started on this road, are terribly backward culturally and are entirely unable to take advantage of the rights granted them by the revolution. This, comrades, is a far more important question than that of the schools. Some of our comrades here think that the knot can be cut by putting the question of schools and language in the forefront. That is not so, comrades. Schools will not carry you very far. These schools are developing, so are the languages, but actual inequality remains the basis of all the discontent and friction. Schools and language will not settle the matter; what is needed is real, systematic, sincere and genuine proletarian assistance on our part to the labouring masses of the culturally and economically backward nationalities. In addition to schools and language, the Russian proletariat must take all measures to create in the border regions, in the culturally backward republics—and they are not backward because of any fault of their own, but because they were formerly regarded as sources of raw materials—must take all measures to ensure the building of centres of industry in these republics. Certain attempts have been made in this direction. Georgia has taken a factory from Moscow and it should start operating soon. Bukhara has taken one factory, but could have taken four. Turkestan is taking one large factory. Thus, all the facts show that these economically backward republics, which possess no proletariat, must with the aid of the Russian proletariat establish their own centres of industry, even though small ones, in order to create in these centres groups of local proletarians to serve as a bridge between the Russian proletarians and peasants and the labouring masses of these republics. In this sphere we have a lot of work to do, and schools alone will not settle the matter.
But there is still a third factor that is impeding the union of the republics into a single union: the existence of nationalism in the individual republics. The N.E.P. affects not only the Russian, but also the non-Russian population. The New Economic Policy is developing private trade and industry not only in the centre of Russia, but also in the individual republics. And it is this same N.E.P., and the private capital associated with it, which nourish and foster Georgian, Azerbaijanian, Uzbek and other nationalism. Of course, if there were no Great-Russian chauvinism—which is aggressive because it is strong, because it was also strong previously and has retained the habit of oppressing and humiliat-ing—if there were no Great-Russian chauvinism, then, perhaps, local chauvinism also, as a retaliation to Great-Russian chauvinism, would exist only in a much reduced form, in miniature, so to speak; because, in the final analysis, anti-Russian nationalism is a form of defence, an ugly form of defence against Great-Russian nationalism, against Great-Russian chauvinism. If this nationalism were only defensive, it might not be worth making a fuss about. We could concentrate the entire force of our activities, the entire force of our struggle, against Great-Russian chauvinism, in the hope that as soon as this powerful enemy is overcome, anti-Russian nationalism will be overcome with it; for, I repeat, in the last analysis, this nationalism is a reaction to Great-Russian nationalism, a retaliation to it, a certain form of defence. Yes, that would be so if anti-Russian nationalism in the localities were nothing more than a reaction to Great-Russian nationalism. But the trouble is that in some republics this defensive nationalism is turning into aggressive nationalism.
Take Georgia. Over 30 per cent of her population are non-Georgians. They include Armenians, Abkhazians, Ajarians, Ossetians and Tatars. The Georgians are at the head. Among some of the Georgian Communists the idea has sprung up and is gaining ground that there s no particular need to reckon with these small nationalities; they are less cultured, less developed, they say, and there is therefore no need to reckon with them. That is chauvinism—harmful and dangerous chauvinism; for it may turn the small republic of Georgia into an arena of strife. In fact, it has already turned it into an arena of strife.
Azerbaijan. The basic nationality here is the Azerbaijanian, but there are also Armenians. Among a section of the Azerbaijanians there is also a tendency, sometimes quite unconcealed, to think that the Azerbaijanians are the indigenous population and the Armenians intruders, and therefore, it is possible to push the Armenians somewhat into the background, to disregard their interests. That is chauvinism too. It undermines the equality of nationalities on which the Soviet system is based.
Bukhara. In Bukhara there are three nationalities— Uzbeks, the basic nationality; Turkmenians, a "less important" nationality from the point of view of Bukharan chauvinism; and Kirghiz, who are few in number here and, apparently, "less important."
In Khorezm you have the same thing: Turkmenians and Uzbeks. The Uzbeks are the basic nationality and the Turkmenians "less important."
All this leads to conflict and weakens the Soviet regime This tendency towards local chauvinism must also be cut off at the root. Of course, compared with Great-Russian chauvinism, which in the general scheme of the national question comprises three-quarters of the whole, local chauvinism is not so important; but for local work, for the local people, for the peaceful development of the national republics themselves, this chauvinism is a matter of first-rate importance.
Sometimes this chauvinism begins to undergo a very interesting evolution. I have in mind Transcaucasia. You know that Transcaucasia consists of three republics embracing ten nationalities. From very early times Transcaucasia has been an arena of massacre and strife and, under the Mensheviks and Dashnaks, it was an arena of war. You know of the Georgian-Armenian war. You also know of the massacres in Azerbaijan at the beginning and at the end of 1905. I could mention a whole list of districts where the Armenian majority massacred all the rest of the population, consisting of Tatars. Zangezur, for instance. I could mention another province—Nakhichevan. There the Tatars predominated, and they massacred all the Armenians. That was just before the liberation of Armenia and Georgia from the yoke of imperialism. (Voice: "That was their way of solving the national question.") That, of course, is also a way of solving the national question. But it is not the Soviet way. Of course, the Russian workers are not to blame for this state of mutual national enmity, for it is the Tatars and Armenians who are fighting, without the Russians. That is why a special organ is required in Transcaucasia to regulate the relations between the nationalities.
It may be confidently stated that the relations between the proletariat of the formerly dominant nation and the toilers of all the other nationalities constitute three-quarters of the whole national question. But one-quarter of this question must be attributed to the relations between the formerly oppressed nationalities themselves.
And if in this atmosphere of mutual distrust the Soviet Government had failed to establish in Transcaucasia an organ of national peace capable of settling all friction and conflict, we would have reverted to the era of tsarism, or to the era of the Dashnaks, the Mussavat-ists, the Mensheviks, when people maimed and slaughtered one another. That is why the Central Committee has on three occasions affirmed the necessity of preserving the Transcaucasian Federation as an organ of national peace.
There has been and still is a group of Georgian Communists who do not object to Georgia uniting with the Union of Republics, but who do object to this union being effected through the Transcaucasian Federation. They, you see, would like to get closer to the Union, they say that there is no need for this partition wall in the shape of the Transcaucasian Federation between themselves— the Georgians—and the Union of Republics, the federation, they say, is superfluous. This, they think, sounds very revolutionary.
But there is another motive behind this. In the first place, these statements indicate that on the national question the attitude towards the Russians is of secondary importance in Georgia, for these comrades, the deviators (that is what they are called), have no objection to Georgia joining the Union directly; that is, they do not fear Great-Russian chauvinism, believing that its roots have been cut in one way or another, or, at any rate, that it is not of decisive importance. Evidently, what they fear most is the federation of Transcaucasia. Why? Why should the three principal nations which inhabit Transcaucasia, which fought among themselves so long, massacred each other and warred against each other, why should these nations, now that Soviet power has at last united them by bonds of fraternal union in the form of a federation, now that this federation has produced positive results, why should they now break these federal ties? What is the point, comrades?
The point is that the bonds of the Transcaucasian Federation deprive Georgia of that somewhat privileged position which she could assume by virtue of her geographical position. Judge for yourselves. Georgia has her own port—Batum—through which goods flow from the West; Georgia has a railway junction like Tiflis, which the Armenians cannot avoid, nor can Azerbaijan avoid it, for she receives her goods through Batum. If Georgia were a separate republic, if she were not part of the Trans-caucasian Federation, she could present something in the nature of a little ultimatum both to Armenia, which cannot do without Tiflis, and to Azerbaijan, which cannot do without Batum. There would be some advantages for Georgia in this. It was no accident that the notorious savage decree establishing frontier cordons was drafted in Georgia. Serebryakov is now being blamed for this. Let us allow that he is to blame, but the decree originated in Georgia, not in Azerbaijan or Armenia.
Then there is yet another reason. Tiflis is the capital of Georgia, but the Georgians there are not more than 30 per cent of the population, the Armenians not less than 35 per cent, and then come all the other nationalities. That is what the capital of Georgia is like. If Georgia were a separate republic the population could be reshifted somewhat—for instance, the Armenian population could be shifted from Tiflis. Was not a well-known decree adopted in Georgia to "regulate" the population of Tiflis, about which Comrade Makharadze said that it was not directed against the Armenians? The intention was to reshift the population so as to reduce the number of Armenians in Tiflis from year to year, making them fewer than the Georgians, and thus convert Tiflis into a real Georgian capital. I grant that they have rescinded the eviction decree, but they have a vast number of possibilities, a vast number of flexible forms—such as "de-congestion"—by which it would be possible, while maintaining a semblance of internationalism, to arrange matters in such a way that Armenians in Tiflis would be in the minority.
It is these geographical advantages that the Georgian deviators do not want to lose, and the unfavourable position of the Georgians in Tiflis itself, where there are fewer Georgians than Armenians, that are causing our deviators to oppose federation. The Mensheviks simply evicted Armenians and Tatars from Tiflis. Now, however, under the Soviet regime, eviction is impossible; therefore, they want to leave the federation, and this will create legal opportunities for independently performing certain operations which will result in the advantageous position enjoyed by the Georgians being fully utilised against Azerbaijan and Armenia. And all this would create a privileged position for the Georgians in Transcaucasia. Therein lies the whole danger.
Can we ignore the interests of national peace in Transcaucasia and allow conditions to be created under which the Georgians would be in a privileged position in relation to the Armenian and Azerbaijanian Republics? No. We cannot allow that.
There is an old, special system of governing nations, under which a bourgeois authority favours certain nationalities, grants them privileges and humbles the other nations, not wishing to be bothered with them. Thus by favouring one nationality, it uses it to keep down the others. Such, for instance, was the method of government employed in Austria. Everyone remembers the statement of the Austrian Minister Beust, who summoned the Hungarian Minister and said: "You govern your hordes and I will cope with mine." In other words: you curb and keep down your nationalities in Hungary and I will keep down mine in Austria. You and I represent privileged nations, let's keep down the rest.
The same was the case with the Poles in Austria itself. The Austrians favoured the Poles, granted them privileges, in order that the Poles should help the Aus-trians strengthen their position in Poland; and in return they allowed the Poles to strangle Galicia.
This system of singling out some nationalities and granting them privileges in order to cope with the rest is purely and specifically Austrian. From the point of view of the bureaucracy, it is an "economical" method of governing, because it has to bother only with one nationality; but from the political point of view it means certain death to the state, for to violate the principle of equality of nationalities and to grant privileges to any one nationality means dooming one's national policy to certain failure.
Britain is now ruling India in exactly the same way. To make it easier, from the point of view of the bureaucracy, to deal with the nationalities and races of India, Britain divided India into British India (240,000,000 population) and Native India (72,000,000 population). Why? Because Britain wanted to single out one group of nations and grant it privileges in order the more easily to govern the remaining nationalities. In India there are several hundred nationalities, and Britain decided that, rather than bother with these nationalities, it was better to single out a few nations, grant them certain privileges and through them govern the rest; for, firstly, the discontent of the other nations would be directed against these favoured ones and not against Britain, and, secondly, it would be cheaper to have to "bother" with only two or three nations.
That is also a system of governing, the British system. What does it lead to? To the "cheapening" of the appa-ratus—that is true. But, comrades, leaving aside bureaucratic conveniences, it means certain death to British rule in India; this system harbours inevitable death, as surely as twice two make four, the death of British rule and British domination.
It is on to this dangerous path that our comrades, the Georgian deviators, are pushing us by opposing federation in violation of all the laws of the Party, by wanting to withdraw from the federation in order to retain an advantageous position. They are pushing us on to the path of granting them certain privileges at the expense of the Armenian and Azerbaijanian Republics. But this is a path we cannot take, for it means certain death to our entire policy and to Soviet power in the Caucasus.
It was no accident that our comrades in Georgia sensed this danger. This Georgian chauvinism, which had passed to the offensive against the Armenians and Azerbaijanians, alarmed the Communist Party of Georgia.
Quite naturally, the Communist Party of Georgia, which has held two congresses since it came into legal existence, on both occasions unanimously rejected the stand of the deviator comrades, for under present conditions it is impossible to maintain peace in the Caucasus, impossible to establish equality, without the Transcaucasian Federation. One nation must not be allowed more privileges than another. This our comrades have sensed. That is why, after two years of contention, the Mdivani group is a small handful, repeatedly ejected by the Party in Georgia itself.
It was also no accident that Comrade Lenin was in such a hurry and was so insistent that the federation should be established immediately. Nor was it an accident that our Central Committee on three occasions affirmed the need for a federation in Transcaucasia, having its own Central Executive Committee and its own executive authority, whose decisions would be binding on the republics. It was no accident that both commissions— Comrade Dzerzhinsky's and that of Kamenev and Kuiby-shev—on their arrival in Moscow stated that federation was indispensable.
Lastly, it is no accident either that the Mensheviks of Sotsialistichesky Vestnik 9 praise our deviator comrades and laud them to the skies for opposing federation: birds of a feather flock together.
I pass to an examination of the ways and means by which we must eliminate these three main factors that are hindering union: Great-Russian chauvinism, actual inequality of nations and local nationalism, particularly when it is growing into chauvinism. Of the means that may help us painlessly to rid ourselves of all this heritage of the past which is hindering the peoples from coming together I shall mention three.
The first means is to adopt all measures to make the Soviet regime understood and loved in the republics, to make the Soviet regime not only Russian but inter-national. For this it is necessary that not only the schools, but all institutions and all bodies, both Party and Soviet, should step by step be made national in character, that they should be conducted in the language that is understood by the masses, that they should function in conditions that correspond to the manner of life of the given nation. Only on this condition will we be able to convert the Soviet regime from a Russian into an inter-national one, understood by and near and dear to the labouring masses of all the republics, particularly those which are economically and culturally backward.
The second means that can help us in painlessly getting rid of the heritage from tsarism and the bourgeoisie is to construct the Commissariats of the Union of Republics in such a way as to enable at least the principal nationalities to have their people on the colle-giums, and to create a situation in which the needs and requirements of the individual republics will be met without fail.
The third means: it is necessary to have among our supreme central organs one that will serve to express the needs and requirements of all the republics and nationalities without exception.
I want especially to draw your attention to this last means.
If within the Central Executive Committee of the Union we could create two chambers having equal powers, one of which would be elected at the Union Congress of Soviets, irrespective of nationality, and the other by the republics and national regions (the republics being equally represented, and the national regions also being equally represented) and endorsed by the same Congress of Soviets of the Union of Republics, I think that then our supreme institutions would express not only the class interests of all the working people without exception, but also purely national needs. We would have an organ which would express the special interests of the nationalities, peoples and races inhabiting the Union of Republics. Under the conditions prevailing in our Union, which as a whole unites not less than 140,000,000 people, of whom about 65,000,000 are non-Russians, in such a country it is impossible to govern unless we have with us, here in Moscow, in the supreme organ, emissaries of these nationalities, to express not only the interests common to the proletariat as a whole, but also special, specific, national interests. Without this it will be impossible to govern, comrades. Unless we have this barometer, and people capable of formulating these special needs of the individual nationalities, it will be impossible to govern.
There are two ways of governing a country. One way is to have a "simplified" apparatus, headed, say, by a group of people, or by one man, having hands and eyes in the localities in the shape of governors. This is a very simple form of government, under which the ruler, in governing the country, receives the kind of information that can be received from governors and comforts himself with the hope that he is governing honestly and well. Presently, friction arises, friction grows into conflicts and conflicts into revolts. Later, the revolts are crushed. Such a system of government is not our system, and in addition, although a simple one, it is too costly. But there is another system of government, the Soviet system. In our Soviet country we are operating this other system of government, the system which enables us to foresee with accuracy all changes, all the circumstances among the peasants, among the nationals, among the so-called "aliens" and among the Russians; this system of supreme organs possesses a number of barometers which forecast every change, which register and warn against a Basmach movement, 10 a bandit movement, Kronstadt, and all possible storms and disasters. That is the Soviet system of government. It is called Soviet power, people's power, because, relying on the common people, it is the first to register any change, it takes the appropriate measures and rectifies the line in time, if it has become distorted, criticises itself and rectifies the line. This system of government is the Soviet system, and it requires that the system of our higher agencies should include agencies expressing absolutely all national needs and requirements.
The objection is made that this system will complicate the work of administration, that it means setting up more and more bodies. That is true. Hitherto we had the Central Executive Committee of the R.S.F.S.R., then we created the Central Executive Committee of the Union, and now we shall have to split the Central Executive Committee of the Union into two. But it can't be helped. I have already said that the simplest form of government is to have one man and to give him governors. But now, after the October Revolution, we cannot engage in such experiments. The system has become more complex, but it makes government easier and lends the whole governmental system a profoundly Soviet character. That is why I think that the congress must agree to the establishment of a special body, a second chamber within the Central Executive Committee of the Union, since it is absolutely essential.
I do not say that this is a perfect way of arranging co-operation between the peoples of the Union; I do not say that it is the last word in science. We shall put forward the national question again and again, for national and international conditions are changing, and may change again. I do not deny the possibility that perhaps some of the Commissariats that we are merging in the Union of Republics will have to be separated again if, after being merged, experience shows that they are unsatisfactory. But one thing is clear, namely, that under present conditions, and in the present circumstances, no better method and no more suitable organ is available. As yet we have no better way or means of creating an organ capable of registering all the oscillations and all the changes that take place within the individual republics than that of establishing a second chamber.
It goes without saying that the second chamber must contain representatives not only of the four republics that have united, but of all the peoples; for the question concerns not only the republics which have formally united (there are four of them), but all the peoples and nationalities in the Union of Republics. We therefore require a form that will express the needs of all the nationalities and republics without exception.
I shall sum up, comrades.
Thus, the importance of the national question is determined by the new situation in international affairs, by the fact that here, in Russia, in our federation we must solve the national question in a correct, a model way, in order to set an example to the East, which constitutes the heavy reserves of the revolution, and thereby increase their confidence in our federation and its attraction for them.
From the standpoint of the internal situation, the conditions created by the N.E.P. and the growing Great-Russian chauvinism and local chauvinism also oblige us to emphasise the special importance of the national question.
I said, further, that the essence of the national question lies in establishing correct relations between the proletariat of the formerly dominant nation and the peasantry of the formerly subject nations, and that from this point of view the concrete form of the national question at the present moment is expressed by having to find ways and means of arranging the co-operation of the peoples within a Union of Republics, within a single state.
I spoke, further, of the factors which are conducive to such a coming together of the peoples. I spoke of the factors impeding such a union. I dwelt especially on Great-Russian chauvinism, as a force that is gaining in strength. That force is a basic danger, capable of undermining the confidence of the formerly oppressed peoples in the Russian proletariat. It is a most dangerous enemy, which we must overcome; for once we overcome it, we shall have overcome nine-tenths of the nationalism which has survived, and which is growing in certain republics.
Further. We are faced with the danger that certain groups of comrades may push us on to the path of granting privileges to some nationalities at the expense of others. I have said that we cannot take this path, because it may undermine national peace and kill the confidence of the masses of the other nations in Soviet power.
I said, further, that the chief means that will enable us most painlessly to eliminate the factors that hinder union lies in the creation of a second chamber of the Central Executive Committee, of which I spoke more openly at the February Plenum of the Central Committee, and which is dealt with in the theses in a more veiled form in order to enable the comrades themselves, perhaps, to indicate some other more flexible form, some other more suitable organ, capable of expressing the interests of the nationalities.
Such are the conclusions.
I think that it is only in this way that we shall be able to achieve a correct solution of the national question, that we shall be able to unfurl widely the banner of the proletarian revolution and win for it the sympathy and confidence of the countries of the East, which are the heavy reserves of the revolution, and which can play a decisive role in the future battles of the proletariat against imperialism. (Applause.)
Comrades, before proceeding to report on the work of the committee on the national question, permit me to deal with two main points in answer to the speakers in the discussion on my report. It will take about twenty minutes, not more.
The first point is that a group of comrades headed by Bukharin and Rakovsky has over-emphasised the significance of the national question, has exaggerated it, and has allowed it to overshadow the social question, the question of working-class power.
It is clear to us, as Communists, that the basis of all our work lies in strengthening the power of the workers, and that only after that are we confronted by the other question, a very important one but subordinate to the first, namely, the national question. We are told that we must not offend the non-Russian nationalities. That is perfectly true; I agree that we must not offend them. But to evolve out of this a new theory to the effect that the Great-Russian proletariat must be placed in a position of inequality in relation to the formerly oppressed nations is absurd. What was merely a figure of speech in Comrade Lenin's well-known article,
Bukharin has converted into a regular slogan. Nevertheless, it is clear that the political basis of the dictatorship of the proletariat is primarily and chiefly the central, industrial regions, and not the border regions, which are peasant countries. If we exaggerate the importance of the peasant border regions, to the detriment of the proletarian districts, it may result in a crack in the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is dangerous, comrades. We must not exaggerate things in politics, just as we must not underrate them.
It should be borne in mind that in addition to the right of nations to self-determination, there is also the right of the working class to consolidate its power, and the right of self-determination is subordinate to this latter right. There are cases when the right of self-determination conflicts with another, a higher right—the right of the working class that has come to power to consolidate its power. In such cases—this must be said bluntly—the right of self-determination cannot and must not serve as an obstacle to the working class in exercising its right to dictatorship. The former must yield to the latter. That was the case in 1920, for instance, when in order to defend working-class power we were obliged to march on Warsaw.
It must therefore not be forgotten when handing out all sorts of promises to the non-Russian nationalities, when bowing and scraping before the representatives of these nationalities, as certain comrades have done at the present congress, it must be borne in mind that, in our external and internal situation, the sphere of action of the national question and the limits of its jurisdiction, so to speak, are restricted by the sphere of action and jurisdiction of the "labour question," as the most fundamental question.
Many speakers referred to notes and articles by Vladimir Ilyich. I do not want to quote my teacher, Comrade Lenin, since he is not here, and I am afraid that I might, perhaps, quote him wrongly and inappropriately. Nevertheless, I am obliged to quote one passage, which is axiomatic and can give rise to no misunderstanding, in order that no doubt should be left in the minds of comrades with regard to the relative importance of the national question. Analysing Marx's letter on the national question in an article on self-determination, Comrade Lenin draws the following conclusion:
"Marx had no doubt about the subordinate significance of the national question as compared with the ‘labour question.'" 11
Here are only two lines, but they are decisive. And that is what some of our comrades who are more zealous than wise should drill into their heads.
The second point is about Great-Russian chauvinism and local chauvinism. Rakovsky and especially Bukharin spoke here, and the latter proposed that the clause dealing with the harmfulness of local chauvinism should be deleted. Their argument was that there is no need to bother with a little worm like local chauvinism when we are faced by a "Goliath" like Great-Russian chauvinism. In general, Bukharin was in a repentant mood. That is natural: he has been sinning against the nationalities for years, denying the right to self-determination. It was high time for him to repent. But in repenting he went to the other extreme. It is curious that Bukharin calls upon the Party to follow his example and also repent, although the whole world knows that the Party is in no way involved, for from its very inception (1898) it recognised the right to self-determination and therefore has nothing to repent of. The fact of the matter is that Bukharin has failed to understand the essence of the national question. When it is said that the fight against Great-Russian chauvinism must be made the corner-stone of the national question, the intention is to indicate the duties of the Russian Communist; it implies that it is the duty of the Russian Communist himself to combat Russian chauvinism. If the struggle against Russian chauvinism were undertaken not by the Russian but by the Turkestanian or Georgian Communists, it would be interpreted as anti-Russian chauvinism. That would confuse the whole issue and strengthen Great-Russian chauvinism. Only the Russian Communists can undertake the fight against Great-Russian chauvinism and carry it through to the end.
And what is intended when a struggle against local chauvinism is proposed? The intention is to point to the duty of the local Communists, the duty of the non-Russian Communists, to combat their own chauvinists. Can the existence of deviations towards anti-Russian chauvinism be denied? Why, the whole congress has seen for itself that local chauvinism exists, Georgian, Bashkir and other chauvinism, and that it must be combated. Russian Communists cannot combat Tatar, Georgian or Bashkir chauvinism; if a Russian Communist were to undertake the difficult task of combating Tatar or Georgian chauvinism it would be regarded as a fight waged by a Great-Russian chauvinist against the Tatars or the Georgians. That would confuse the whole issue. Only the
Tatar, Georgian and other Communists can fight Tatar, Georgian and other chauvinism; only the Georgian Communists can successfully combat Georgian nationalism or chauvinism. That is the duty of the non-Russian Communists. That is why it is necessary to refer in the theses to the double task, that of the Russian Communists (I refer to the fight against Great-Russian chauvinism) and that of the non-Russian Communists (I refer to their fight against anti-Armenian, anti-Tatar, anti-Russian chauvinism). Otherwise, the theses will be one-sided, there will be no internationalism, whether in state or Party affairs.
If we combat only Great-Russian chauvinism, it will obscure the fight that is being waged by the Tatar and other chauvinists, a fight which is developing in the localities and which is especially dangerous now, under the conditions of the N.E.P. We cannot avoid fighting on two fronts, for we can achieve success only by fighting on two fronts—on the one hand, against Great-Russian chauvinism, which is the chief danger in our work of construction, and, on the other hand, against local chauvinism; unless we wage this double fight there will be no solidarity between the Russian workers and peasants and the workers and peasants of the other nationalities. Failure to wage this fight may result in encouraging local chauvinism, a policy of pandering to local chauvinism, which we cannot allow.
Permit me here too to quote Comrade Lenin. I would not have done so, but since there are many comrades at our congress who quote Comrade Lenin right and left and distort what he says, permit me to read a few words from a well-known article of his:
"The proletariat must demand freedom of political secession for the colonies and nations that are oppressed by ‘its' nation. Unless it does this, proletarian internationalism will remain a meaningless phrase; neither mutual confidence nor class solidarity between the workers of the oppressing and the oppressed nations will be possible." 12
These are, so to say, the duties of proletarians of the dominant or formerly dominant nation. Then he goes on to speak of the duties of proletarians or Communists of the formerly oppressed nations:
"On the other hand, the Socialists of the oppressed nations must particularly fight for and put into effect complete and absolute unity, including organisational unity, between the workers of the oppressed nation and the workers of the oppressing nation. Otherwise, it is impossible to uphold the independent policy of the proletariat and its class solidarity with the proletariat of other countries against all the subterfuges, treachery and trickery of the bourgeoisie. For the bourgeoisie of the oppressed nations constantly converts the slogans of national liberation into a means for deceiving the workers."
As you see, if we are to follow in Comrade Lenin's footsteps—and some comrades here have sworn by him— both theses must be retained in the resolution—both the thesis on combating Great-Russian chauvinism and that on combating local chauvinism—as two aspects of one phenomenon, as theses on combating chauvinism in general.
With this I conclude my answers to those who have spoken here.
Permit me now to report on the work of the committee on the national question. The committee took the Central Committee's theses as a basis. It left six points of these theses, namely, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, entirely unaltered. There was a dispute in the committee, primarily, on the question whether or not the autonomous republics should first be taken out of the R.S.F.S.R. and the independent republics in the Caucasus out of the Transcaucasian Federation, in order that they should then join the Union of Republics individually. This was the proposal of a section of the Georgian comrades, but, as is known, it is a proposal which meets with no sympathy from the Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijanian delegations. The committee discussed this question and by an overwhelming majority decided in favour of retaining the proposition given in the theses, namely, that the R.S.F.S.R. should remain an integral unit, that the Transcaucasian Federation should also remain an integral unit and each should enter the Union of Republics as such. Not all the proposals submitted by this section of the Georgian comrades were put to the vote, because, seeing that the proposals met with no sympathy, their authors withdrew them. The dispute on this question was a serious one.
The second question on which there was a dispute was the question how the second chamber should be constituted. One section of the comrades (the minority) proposed that the second chamber should not consist of representatives of all the republics, nationalities and regions, but that it should be based on the representation of four republics, namely: the R.S.F.S.R., the Transcaucasian Federation, Byelorussia and the Ukraine. The majority rejected this proposal and the committee decided against it on the grounds that it would be more advisable to form the second chamber on the principle of equal representation of all the republics (both independent and autonomous) and of all national regions. I shall not present the arguments on this point, for Rakovsky, the representative of the minority, intends to speak here in order to substantiate his proposal, which the committee rejected. After he has spoken I shall present my arguments.
There was also a dispute, not very heated, on the question whether the theses should be amended so as to point to the necessity of looking to the West as well as to the East in solving the national question. This amendment was put to the vote. It was the minority's amendment, moved by Rakovsky, The committee rejected it. I shall speak on this question too after Rakovsky has spoken.
I shall read the amendments that we accepted. Six points were adopted as they stood. In Point 7, paragraph 2, line 3, before the words: "Hence, our Party's first immediate task is vigorously to combat," the following is to be inserted:
"The situation in a number of national republics (Ukraine, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan, Turkestan) is complicated by the fact that a considerable section of the working class, which is the main bulwark of the Soviet system, belongs to the Great-Russian nationality. In these districts the establishment of the bond between town and country, between the working class and the peasantry, encounters extremely powerful obstacles in the shape of survivals of Great-Russian chauvinism in both Party and Soviet organs. Under these circumstances, talk about the superiority of Russian culture, and advancement of the argument that the higher Russian culture must inevitably triumph over the culture of the more backward peoples (Ukrainian, Azerbaijanian, Uzbek, Kirghiz, etc.) are nothing but an attempt to perpetuate the domination of the Great-Russian nationality."
I accepted this amendment because it improves the theses.
The second amendment also relates to Point 7. Before the words: "Otherwise there can be no grounds for expecting," the following is to be added:
"This assistance must find expression primarily in the adoption of a number of practical measures for forming in the republics of the formerly oppressed nationalities industrial centres with the maximum participation of the local population. Lastly, in conformity with the resolution of the Tenth Congress, this assistance must be accompanied by a struggle of the labouring masses to strengthen their own social positions in opposition to the local and immigrant exploiting upper sections, which are growing as a consequence of the N.E.P. Since these republics are mainly agricultural districts, the internal social measures must consist primarily in allotting the labouring masses land out of the available state land fund."
Further, in the same Point 7, middle of paragraph 2, where it speaks of Georgian chauvinism, Azerbaijanian chauvinism, etc., insert: "Armenian chauvinism, etc." The Armenian comrades did not want the Armenians to be left out in the cold, they wanted their chauvinism to be mentioned too.
Further, in Point 8 of the theses, after the words "one and indivisible," insert:
"We must regard as a similar heritage of the past the striving of some of the government departments of the R.S.F.S.R. to subordinate to themselves the independent Commissariats of the autonomous republics and to prepare the ground for the liquidation of the latter." Further in Point 8, insert:
"and proclaiming the absolute necessity of the existence and further development of the national republics."
Further, Point 9. It should begin as follows:
"The Union of Republics, formed on the principles of equality and voluntary consent of the workers and peasants of the various republics, is the first experiment of the proletariat in regulating the mutual international relations of independent countries, and the first step towards the creation of the future World Soviet Republic of Labour."
Point 10 has a sub-point "a"; a new sub-point "a" was inserted before it, in the following terms:
"a) in the building up of the central organs of the Union, equality of rights and duties of the individual republics should be ensured both in their relations with one another and in their relations with the central authority of the Union."
Then follows sub-point "b", worded as the former sub-point "a":
"b) within the system of higher organs of the Union a special organ should be instituted that will represent all the national republics and national regions without exception on the basis of equality, providing as far as possible for the representation of all the nationalities within these republics."
Then comes what was sub-point "b" and is now sub-point "c", worded as follows:
"c) the executive organs of the Union should be constructed on principles that will ensure the actual participation in them of representatives of the republics and the satisfaction of the needs and requirements of the peoples of the Union."
Then comes sub-point "d", an addendum:
"d) the republics should be accorded sufficiently wide financial and, in particular, budgetary powers, enabling them to display initiative in state administration and cultural and economic matters."
Then comes the former sub-point "c" as sub-point e".
"e) the organs of the national republics and regions should be staffed mainly with people from among the local inhabitants who know the language, manner of life, habits and customs of the peoples concerned."
Further, a second sub-point has been added, namely, "f":
"f) special laws should be passed ensuring the use of the native languages in all state organs and in all institutions serving the local and national population and national minorities—laws that will prosecute and punish with all revolutionary severity all violators of national rights, particularly the rights of national minorities."
Then comes sub-point "g", an addendum: "g) educational activities in the Red Army should be increased with the aim of inculcating the ideas of the fraternity and solidarity of the peoples of the Union, and the adoption of practical measures to organise national military units, all precautions to be taken to ensure the complete defensive capacity of the republics."
Such are all the addenda that were adopted by the committee and to which I have no objection, since they make the theses more concrete.
As regards Part II, no really important amendments were introduced. There were some slight amendments, which the commission elected by the committee on the national question decided to refer to the future Central Committee.
Thus, Part II remains in the shape in which it was distributed in the printed materials.
Although Rakovsky has changed two-thirds of the resolution he moved in the committee and has cut it down to a quarter, I am nevertheless emphatically opposed to his amendment, and for the following reason. Our theses on the national question are constructed in such a way that we, as it were, turn to face the East, having in view the heavy reserves that are latent there. We have linked the entire national question with the article of Ilyich, who, as far as I know, does not say a single word about the West, because the centre of the national question does not lie there, but in the colonies and semi-colonies of the East. Rakovsky argues that, having turned towards the East, we must also turn towards the West. But that is impossible, comrades, and unnatural, because, as a rule, people face either one way or another; it is impossible to face two ways at the same time. We cannot and must not upset the general tone of the theses, their Eastern tone. That is why I think that Rakovsky's amendment should be rejected.
I regard this amendment as being of cardinal significance. I must say that if the congress accepts it, the theses will be turned upside down. Rakovsky proposes that the second chamber be constructed in such a way that it should consist of representatives of state entities. He regards the Ukraine as a state entity, but not Bashkiria. Why? We are not abolishing the Councils of People's Commissars in the republics. Is not the Central Executive Committee of Bashkiria a state institution?! Then why is Bashkiria not a state? Will the Ukraine cease to be a state after she has entered the Union? State fetishism has confused Rakovsky. Since the nationalities have equal rights, since they have their own languages, habits, manner of life and customs, since these nationalities have set up their own state institutions— Central Executive Committees and Councils of People's Commissars—is it not obvious that all these national units are state entities? I think that we cannot depart from the principle of equality between the republics and nationalities in the second chamber, particularly in relation to the Eastern nationalities.
Evidently, Rakovsky is captivated by the Prussian system of federation. The German federation is built in such a way that there is no equality whatever between the states. I propose that we should arrange matters in such a way that in addition to class representation—I mean the first chamber, which is to be elected at the All-Union Congress of Soviets—we should have representation of the nationalities on the basis of equality. The Eastern peoples, which are organically connected with China, with India, being connected with them by language, religion, customs, etc., are of primary importance for the revolution. The relative importance of these small nationalities is much higher than that of the Ukraine.
If we make a slight mistake in the Ukraine, the effect upon the East will not be great. But we have only to make one slight mistake in a small country, in Ajaristan (120,000 population), for the effect to be felt in Turkey, to be felt in the whole of the East, for Turkey is most closely connected with the East. We have only to commit a slight mistake in the small Kalmyk Region, the inhabitants of which are connected with Tibet and China, for the effect on our work to be far worse than that of a mistake committed in relation to the Ukraine. We are faced with the prospect of a mighty movement in the East, and we must direct our work primarily towards rousing the East and avoid doing anything that could even remotely, even indirectly, belittle the importance of any, even the smallest, individual nationality in the Eastern border regions. That is why I think that it would be more just, more expedient and of greater advantage for the revolution from the standpoint of governing a big country like the Union of Republics with a population of 140,000,000, it would be better, I say, to arrange matters so that in the second chamber there should be equal representation of all the republics and national regions. We have eight autonomous republics and also eight independent republics; Russia will join as a republic, we have fourteen regions. All these will constitute the second chamber that will express all the requirements and needs of the nationalities and facilitate the government of such a big country. That is why I think that Rakovsky's amendment should be rejected.
Comrades, when reporting to you on the work of the committee on the national question I forgot to mention two other small addenda, which certainly must be mentioned. To paragraph 10, point "b", where it says that a special organ should be instituted that will represent all the national republics and national regions without exception on the basis of equality, it is necessary to add: "providing as far as possible for all the nationalities within these republics," because in some of the republics that will be represented in the second chamber there are several nationalities. For example, Turkestan. There, in addition to Uzbeks, there are Turkme-nians, Kirghiz and other nationalities, and the representation must he so arranged that each of these nationalities is represented.
The second addendum is to Part II, at the very end. It reads :
"In view of the tremendous importance of the activities of responsible workers in the autonomous and independent republics, and in the border regions in general (the establishment of contact between the working people in the given republic and the working people in the whole of the rest of the Union), the congress instructs the Central Committee to be particularly careful that such responsible workers are selected as will fully ensure the actual implementation of the Party's decisions on the national question."
And now a word or two about a remark Radek made in his speech. I am saying this at the request of the Armenian comrades. In my opinion that remark is contrary to the facts. Radek said here that the Armenians oppress, or might oppress, the Azerbaijanians in Azerbaijan and, vice versa, the Azerbaijanians might oppress the Armenians in Armenia. I must say that such things do not happen. The opposite happens: in Azerbaijan, the Azerbaijanians, being the majority, oppress the Armenians and massacre them, as happened in Nakhichevan, where nearly all the Armenians were massacred; and the Armenians in Armenia massacred nearly all the Tatars. That happened in Zangezur. As for the minority in a foreign state oppressing the people who belong to the majority — such unnatural things have never happened.
The Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks). Verbatim Report, Moscow, 1923
1. The Twelfth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) was held on April 17-25, 1923. This was the first congress since the October Socialist Revolution that V. I. Lenin was unable to attend. The congress discussed the reports of the Central Committee, of the Central Control Commission and of the Russian delegation in the Executive Committee of the Comintern, and also reports on: industry, national factors in Party and state affairs taxation policy in the countryside, delimitation of administrative areas, etc. In its decisions the congress took into account all the directives given by V. I. Lenin in his last articles and letters. The congress summed up the results of the two years of the New Economic Policy and gave a determined rebuff to Trotsky, Bukharin and their adherents, who interpreted the N.E.P. as a retreat from the socialist position. The congress devoted great attention to the organisational and national questions. At the evening sitting on April 17, J. V. Stalin delivered the Central Committee's organisational report. In the resolution it adopted on this report, the congress endorsed Lenin's plan for the reorganisation of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection and the Central Control Commission, and noted an improvement in the organisational apparatus of the Central Committee and in all organisational activities. J. V. Stalin's report on "National Factors in Party and State Affairs" was heard on April 23. The debate on this report continued during April 23 and 24, and further discussion was referred to the committee on the national question that was set up by the congress, and which conducted its proceedings under the direct guidance of J. V. Stalin. On April 25, the congress passed the resolution submitted by the committee. This resolution was based on J. V. Stalin's theses. The congress exposed the nationalist deviators and called on the Party resolutely to combat the deviations on the national question—Great-Russian chauvinism and local bourgeois nationalism. (Concerning the Twelfth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), see History of the C.P.S.U.(B.), Short Course, Moscow 1952, pp. 403-06. For the resolutions of the congress see "Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums," Part I, 1941, pp. 472-524.)
2. Izvestia of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (B.) —an information bulletin, founded by decision of the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.), which appeared from May 28, 1919 to October 10, 1929 (the first twenty issues appeared as supplements to Pravda). Gradually it changed from an information bulletin to a central Party magazine, and in 1929 it began to appear as the magazine Partiinoye Stroyitelstvo (Party Affairs). The "Report of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. to the Twelfth Party Congress" was published in Izvestia of the Central Committee, No. 4 (52), April 1923.
3. J. V. Stalin is referring to V. I. Lenin's articles "How We Should Reorganise the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection" and "Better Fewer, But Better" (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 33, pp. 440-60).
4.J. V. Stalin is referring to the pamphlet The Commanders of Our Industry (Based on the Data of the Registration and Distribution Department of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.), Moscow 1923.
5. The All-Russian Congress of Rank-and-File Members of the Socialist-Revolutionary Party was held in Moscow on March 18-20, 1923. The congress admitted that the Socialist-Revolutionary Party had definitely disintegrated, and declared that its leading bodies in emigration had no right to speak in the name of a non-existent Party.
6. The Discussion Sheet was published as a supplement to Pravda before the Twelfth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) under the heading "Pre-Congress Discussion Sheet." Five issues appeared in all, four before the congress and one while the congress was in session (Pravda, Nos. 46, 65, 75, 82 and 86, of March 1 and 24 and April 5, 15 and 20, 1923).
7. J. V. Stalin is referring to the anti-Party group known as the "Democratic Centralism" group (see History of the C.P.S.U.(B.), Short Course, Moscow 1952, pp. 370, 390).
8. This refers to the Seventh (April) All-Russian Conference of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) which took place on April 24-29, 1917. At this conference J. V. Stalin delivered a report on the national question. The resolution on this report was drafted by V. I. Lenin. (For the resolutions of the congress see "Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums," Part I, 1941, pp. 225-39.)
9. Sotsialistichesky Vestnik (Socialist Courier) — organ of the Menshevik whiteguard emigres, founded by Martov in February 1921. Until March 1933 it was published in Berlin, from May 1933 to June 1940 in Paris, and later in America. It is the mouthpiece of the most reactionary imperialist circles.
10. The Basmach movement — a counter-revolutionary nationalist movement in Central Asia (Turkestan, Bukhara and Khorezm) in 1918-24. Headed by beys and mullahs, it took the form of open political banditry. Its aim was to sever the Central Asianre publics from Soviet Russia and to restore the rule of the exploiting classes. It was actively supported by the British imperialists, who were endeavouring to transform Central Asia into their colony.
11. See V. I. Lenin, The Right of Nations to Self-Determination, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 20, p. 406.
12. V. I. Lenin, The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 22, p. 136).