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.
The line of Party work on the national question as regards combating deviations from the position adopted by the Twelfth Party Congress must be defined by the relevant points of the resolution on the national question adopted by that congress, namely, Point 7 of Part I of the resolution, and Points 1, 2 and 3 of Part II.
One of the Party's fundamental tasks is to rear and develop in the national republics and regions young communist organisations consisting of proletarian and semi-proletarian elements of the local population; to do everything to assist these organisations to stand firmly on their feet, to acquire real communist education and to unite the genuinely internationalist communist cadres, even though they may be few at first. The Soviet regime will be strong in the republics and regions only when really important communist organisations are firmly established there.
But the Communists themselves in the republics and regions must bear in mind that the situation there, if only because of the different social composition of the population, is markedly different from the situation in the industrial centres of the Union of Republics and that, for this reason, it is often necessary to employ different methods of work in the border regions. In particular, here, in the endeavour to win the support of the labouring masses of the local population, it is necessary to a larger extent than in the central regions to meet halfway the revolutionary democratic elements, or even those who are simply loyal in their attitude to the Soviet regime. The role of the local intelligentsia in the republics and regions differs in many respects from that of the intelligentsia in the central regions of the Union of Republics. There are so few local intellectual workers in the border regions that all efforts must be made to win every one of them to the side of the Soviet regime.
A Communist in the border regions must remember that he is a Communist and therefore, acting in conformity with the local conditions, must make concessions to those local national elements who are willing and able to work loyally within the framework of the Soviet system. This does not preclude, but, on the contrary, presupposes a systematic ideological struggle for the principles of Marxism and for genuine internationalism, and against a deviation towards nationalism. Only in this way will it be possible successfully to eliminate local nationalism and win broad strata of the local population to the side of the Soviet regime.
Judging by as yet incomplete data, there are in all seven such questions:
a) The composition of the second chamber. This chamber must consist of representatives of the autonomous and independent republics (four or more from each) and of representatives of the national regions (one from each will be enough). It is desirable that matters be arranged in such a way that members of the first chamber should not, as a rule, be at the same time members of the second chamber. The representatives of the republics and regions must be endorsed by the Congress of Soviets of the Union of Republics. The first chamber should be called the Union Soviet, the second—the Soviet of Nationalities.
b) The rights of the second chamber in relation to the first. The two chambers should have equal rights, each having power to initiate legislation, with the proviso that no Bill introduced in either of the chambers can become law unless it receives the consent of both chambers, voting separately. In the event of disagreement, the questions in dispute should be referred to a conciliation commission of the two chambers, and if no agreement is reached they should be put to another vote at a joint sitting of the two chambers. If the disputed Bill thus amended fails to obtain a majority of the two chambers, the matter should be referred to a special or to an ordinary Congress of Soviets of the Union of Republics.
c) The jurisdiction of the second chamber. The questions to come within the jurisdiction of the second (as of the first) chamber are indicated in Point 1 of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. The legislative functions of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union and of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union are to remain in force.
d) The Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Republics. There should be one Presidium of the Central Executive Committee. It should be elected by both chambers of the Central Executive Committee, provision being made, of course, for representation of the nationalities, at least for the largest ones. The proposal of the Ukrainians for setting up two presidiums with legislative functions, one for each chamber of the Central Executive Committee, in place of a single Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union, is inadvisable. The Presidium is the supreme authority in the Union, functioning constantly, continuously, from session to session. The formation of two presidiums with legislative functions would mean a divided supreme authority, and this would inevitably create great difficulties in practice. The chambers should have their presidiums, which, however, should not possess legislative functions.
e) The number of merged Commissariats. In conformity with the decisions of previous plenums of the Central Committee, there should be five merged Commissariats (Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, War, Transport, and Posts and Telegraphs), and also five directive Commissariats (People's Commissariat of Finance, Supreme Council of National Economy, People's Commissariat of Food, People's Commissariat of Labour, Workers' and Peasants' Inspection), the rest of the Commissariats should be quite autonomous. The Ukrainians propose that the Commissariats of Foreign Affairs and of Foreign Trade be transferred from the merged to the directive category, i.e., that these Commissariats be left in the republics parallel with the Union Commissariats of Foreign Affairs and of Foreign Trade, but subordinate to their directives. This proposal cannot be accepted, if we are really going to form a single Union State capable of coming before the outside world as a united whole. The same must be said about concession agreements, the conclusion of which must be concentrated in the Union of Republics.
f) The structure of the People's Commissariats of the Union of Republics. The collegiums of these People's Commissariats should be enlarged by the inclusion of representatives of the biggest and most important nationalities.
g) The budget rights of the republics. The republics should be given more independence in regard to their budgets, within the limits of the share allotted to them, the dimensions of the share to be specially determined.
Judging by incomplete data, it is already possible to propose four measures:
a) To purge the state and Party apparatuses of nationalist elements (this refers primarily to the Great-Russian nationalists, but it also refers to the anti-Russian and other nationalists). The purge must be carried out with caution, on the basis of proved data, under the control of the Central Committee of the Party.
b) To conduct systematic and persevering work to make the state and Party institutions in the republics and regions national in character, i.e., gradually to introduce the local languages in the conduct of affairs, making it obligatory for responsible workers to learn the local languages.
c) To choose and enlist for the Soviet institutions the more or less loyal elements among the local intelligentsia. At the same time our responsible workers in the republics and regions must train cadres of Soviet and Party officials from among the members of the Party.
d) To arrange non-Party conferences of workers and peasants at which People's Commissars, and responsible Party workers in general, should report on the most important measures taken by the Soviet Government.
It is necessary, for example:
a) to organise clubs (non-Party) and other educational institutions to be conducted in the local languages;
b) to enlarge the network of educational institutions of all grades to be conducted in the local languages;
c) to draw into school work the more or less loyal school-teachers of local origin;
d) to create a network of societies for the dissemination of literacy in the local languages;
e) to organise publishing activity.
It is necessary, for example:
a) to regulate and, where necessary, to stop the transference of populations;
b) as far as possible to provide land for the local working population out of the state land fund;
c) to make agricultural credit available to the local population;
d) to expand irrigation work;
e) to give the co-operatives, and especially the producers' co-operatives, all possible assistance (with a view to attracting handicraftsmen);
f) to transfer factories and mills to republics in which suitable raw materials abound;
g) to organise trade and technical schools for the local population;
h) to organise agricultural courses for the local population.
It is necessary to proceed at once with the organisation of military schools in the republics and regions for the purpose of training within a certain time commanders from among the local people who could later serve as a core for the organisation of national military units. It goes without saying that a satisfactory Party and social composition of these national units, particularly of the commanders, must be ensured. Where there are old military cadres among the local people (Tataria, and, partly, Bashkiria), it would be possible to organise regiments of national militia at once. Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan already have, I think, a division each. In the Ukraine and in Byelorussia it would be possible, at once, to form one division of militia in each (particularly in the Ukraine).
The question of forming national military units is one of prime importance, both as regards defence against possible attacks by Turkey, Afghanistan, Poland, etc., and as regards the possibility of the Union of Republics being compelled to take action against neighbouring states. The importance of national military units from the standpoint of the internal situation in the Union of Republics needs no proof. It must be supposed that in this connection the numerical strength of our army will have to be increased by approximately 20-25 thousand men.
It is necessary, for example:
a) to organise schools for elementary political education in the native languages;
b) to create a Marxist literature in the native languages;
c) to have a well-organised periodical press in the native languages;
d) to widen the activities of the University of the Peoples of the East at the centre and in the localities and to provide this university with the necessary funds;
e) to organise a Party debating society at the University of the Peoples of the East, and to enlist the cooperation of members of the Central Committee living in Moscow;
f) to intensify work in the Youth League and among women in the republics and regions.
It is necessary to bring into the Registration and Distribution, Agitation and Propaganda, Organisation, Women's, and Instructors' Departments of the Central Committee, a definite number of people (two or three in each) from the nationalities to facilitate the Central Committee's current Party work in the border regions, and properly to distribute Party and Soviet officials among the republics and regions so as to ensure the implementation of the line on the national question adopted by the Twelfth Congress of the R.C.P.
I have taken the floor in order to make a few comments on the speeches of the comrades who have spoken here. As regards the principles involved in the Sultan-Galiyev case, I shall endeavour to deal with them in my report on the second item of the agenda.
First of all, with regard to the conference itself. Someone (I have forgotten who exactly it was) said here that this conference is an unusual event. That is not so. Such conferences are not a novelty for our Party. The present conference is the fourth of its kind to be held since the establishment of Soviet power. Up to the beginning of 1919 three such conferences were held. Conditions at that time permitted us to call such conferences. But later, after 1919, in 1920 and 1921, when we were entirely taken up with the civil war, we had no time for conferences of this kind. And only now that we have finished with the civil war, now that we have gone deeply into the work of economic construction, now that Party work itself has become more concrete, especially in the national regions and republics, has it again become possible for us to call a conference of this kind. I think the Central Committee will repeatedly resort to this method in order to establish full mutual understanding between those who are carrying out the policy in the localities and those who are making that policy. I think that such conferences should be called, not only from all the republics and regions, but also from individual regions and republics for the purpose of drawing up more concrete decisions. This alone can satisfy both the Central Committee and the responsible workers in the localities.
I heard certain comrades say that I warned Sultan-Galiyev when I had the opportunity of acquainting myself with his first secret letter, addressed, I think, to Adigamov, who for some reason is silent and has not uttered a word here, although he should have been the first to speak and the one to have said most. I have been reproached by these comrades with having defended Sultan-Galiyev excessively. It is true that I defended him as long as it was possible, and I considered, and still consider, that it was my duty to do so. But I defended him only up to a certain point. And when Sultan-Galiyev went beyond that point I turned away from him. His first secret letter shows that he was already breaking with the Party, for the tone of his letter is almost white-guard; he writes about members of the Central Committee as one can write only about enemies. I met him by chance in the Political Bureau, where he was defending the demands of the Tatar Republic in connection with the People's Commissariat of Agriculture. I warned him then, in a note I sent him, in which I called his secret letter an anti-Party one, and in which I accused him of creating an organisation of the Validov type; I told him that unless he desisted from illegal, anti-Party work he would come to a bad end, and any support from me would be out of the question. He replied, in great embarrassment, that I had been misled; that he had indeed written to Adigamov, not, however, what was alleged, but something else; that he had always been a Party man and was so still, and he gave his word of honour that he would continue to be a Party man in future. Nevertheless, a week later he sent Adigamov a second secret letter, instructing him to establish contact with the Basmachi and with their leader Validov, and to "burn" the letter. The whole thing, therefore, was vile, it was sheer deception, and it compelled me to break off all connection with Sultan-Galiyev. From that moment Sultan-Galiyev became for me a man beyond the pale of the Party, of the Soviets, and I considered it impossible to speak to him, although he tried several times to come to me and "have a talk" with me. As far back as the beginning of 1919, the "Left" comrades reproached me with supporting Sultan-Galiyev, with trying to save him for the Party, with wanting to spare him, in the hope that he would cease to be a nationalist and become a Marxist. I did, indeed, consider it my duty to support him for a time. There are so few intellectuals, so few thinking people, even so few literate people generally in the Eastern republics and regions, that one can count them on one's fingers. How can one help cherishing them? It would be criminal not to take all measures to save from corruption people of the East whom we need and to preserve them for the Party. But there is a limit to everything. And the limit in this case was reached when Sultan-Galiyev crossed over from the communist camp to the camp of the Basmachi. From that time on he ceased to exist for the Party. That is why he found the Turkish ambassador more congenial than the Central Committee of our Party.
I heard a similar reproach from Shamigulov, to the effect that, in spite of his insistence that we should finish with Validov at one stroke, I defended Validov and tried to preserve him for the Party. I did indeed defend Validov in the hope that he would reform. Worse people have reformed, as we know from the history of political parties. I decided that Shamigulov's solution of the problem was too simple. I did not follow his advice. It is true that a year later Shamigulov's forecast proved correct: Validov did not reform, he went over to the Basmachi. Nevertheless, the Party gained by the fact that we delayed Validov's desertion from the Party for a year. Had we settled with Validov in 1918, I am certain that comrades like Murtazin, Adigamov, Khalikov and others would not have remained in our ranks. (Voice : "Khalikov would have remained.") Perhaps Khalikov would not have left us, but a whole group of comrades working in our ranks would have left with Validov. That is what we gained by our patience and foresight.
I listened to Ryskulov, and I must say that his speech was not altogether sincere, it was semi-diplomatic (voice : "Quite true!"), and in general his speech made a bad impression. I expected more clarity and sincerity from him. Whatever Ryskulov may say, it is obvious that he has at home two secret letters from Sultan-Galiyev, which he has not shown to anyone, it is obvious that he was associated with Sultan-Galiyev ideologically. The fact that Ryskulov dissociates himself from the criminal aspect of the Sultan-Galiyev case, asserting that he is not involved with Sultan-Galiyev in the course leading to Basmachism, is of no importance. That is not what we are concerned with at this conference. We are concerned with the intellectual, ideological ties with Sultan-Galiyevism. That such ties did exist between Ryskulov and Sultan-Galiyev is obvious, comrades; Ryskulov himself cannot deny it. Is it not high time for him here, from this rostrum, at long last to dissociate himself from Sultan-Galiyevism emphatically and unreservedly? In this respect Ryskulov's speech was semi-diplomatic and unsatisfactory.
Enbayev also made a diplomatic and insincere speech. Is it not a fact that, after Sultan-Galiyev's arrest, Enbayev and a group of Tatar responsible workers, whom I consider splendid practical men in spite of their ideological instability, sent a demand to the Central Committee for his immediate release, fully vouching for him and hinting that the documents taken from Sultan-Galiyev were not genuine? Is that not a fact? But what did the investigation reveal? It revealed that all the documents were genuine. Their genuineness was admitted by Sultan-Galiyev himself, who, in fact, gave more information about his sins than is contained in the documents, who fully confessed his guilt, and, after confessing, repented. Is it not obvious that, after all this, Enbayev ought to have emphatically and unreservedly admitted his mistakes and to have dissociated himself from Sultan-Galiyev? But Enbayev did not do this. He found occasion to jeer at the "Lefts," but he would not emphatically, as a Communist should, dissociate himself from Sultan-Galiyevism, from the abyss into which Sultan-Galiyev had landed. Evidently he thought that diplomacy would save him.
Firdevs's speech was sheer diplomacy from beginning to end. Who the ideological leader was, whether Sultan-Galiyev led Firdevs, or whether Firdevs led Sultan-Galiyev, is a question I leave open, although I think that ideologically Firdevs led Sultan-Galiyev rather than the other way round. I see nothing particularly reprehensible in Sultan-Galiyev's exercises in theory. If Sultan-Galiyev had confined himself to the ideology of Pan-Turkism and Pan-Islamism it would not have been so bad and I would say that this ideology, inspite of the ban pronounced by the resolution on the national question passed by the Tenth Party Congress, could be regarded as tolerable, and that we could confine ourselves to criticising it within the ranks of our Party. But when exercises in ideology end in establishing contacts with Basmach leaders, with Validov and others, it is utterly impossible to justify Basmach practices here on the ground that the ideology is innocent, as Firdevs tries to do. You can deceive nobody by such a justification of Sultan-Galiyev's activities. In that way it would be possible to find a justification for both imperialism and tsarism, for they too have their ideologies, which sometimes look innocent enough. One cannot reason in that way. You are not facing a tribunal, but a conference of responsible workers, who demand of you straightforwardness and sincerity, not diplomacy.
Khojanov spoke well, in my opinion. And Ikramov did not speak badly either. But I must mention a passage in the speeches of these comrades which gives food for thought. Both said that there was no difference between present-day Turkestan and tsarist Turkestan, that only the signboard had been changed, that Turkestan had remained what it was under the tsar. Comrades, if that was not a slip of the tongue, if it was a considered and deliberate statement, then it must be said that in that case the Basmachi are right and we are wrong. If Turkestan is in fact a colony, as it was under tsarism, then the Basmachi are right, and it is not we who should be trying Sultan-Galiyev, but Sultan-Galiyev who should be trying us for tolerating the existence of a colony in the framework of the Soviet regime. If that is true, I fail to understand why you yourselves have not gone over to Basmachism. Evidently, Khojanov and Ikramov uttered that passage in their speeches without thinking, for they cannot help knowing that present-day Soviet Turkestan is radically different from tsarist Turkestan. I wanted to point to that obscure passage in the speeches of these comrades in order that they should try to think this over and rectify their mistake.
I take upon myself some of the charges Ikramov made against the work of the Central Committee, to the effect that we have not always been attentive and have not always succeeded in raising in time the practical questions dictated by conditions in the Eastern republics and regions. Of course, the Central Committee is overburdened with work and is unable to keep pace with events everywhere. It would be ridiculous to think that the Central Committee can keep pace with everything. Of course, there are few schools in Turkestan. The local languages have not yet become current in the state institutions, the institutions have not been made national in character. Culture in general is at a low level. All that is true. But can anybody seriously think that the Central Committee, or the Party as a whole, can raise the cultural level of Turkestan in two or three years? We are all shouting and complaining that Russian culture, the culture of the Russian people, which is more cultured than the other peoples in the Union of Republics, is at a low level. Ilyich has repeatedly stated that we have little culture, that it is impossible to raise Russian culture appreciably in two or three, or even ten years. And if it is impossible to raise Russian culture appreciably in two or three, or even ten years, how can we demand a rapid rise of culture in the non-Russian backward regions with a low level of literacy? Is it not obvious that nine-tenths of the "blame" falls on the conditions, on the backwardness, and that you cannot but take this into account?
About the "Lefts" and the Rights.
Do they exist in the communist organisations in the regions and republics? Of course they do. That cannot be denied.
Wherein lie the sins of the Rights? In the fact that the Rights are not and cannot be an antidote to, a reliable bulwark against, the nationalist tendencies which are developing and gaining strength in connection with the N.E.P. The fact that Sultan-Galiyevism did exist, that it created a certain circle of supporters in the Eastern republics, especially in Bashkiria and Tataria, leaves no doubt that the Right-wing elements, who in these republics comprise the overwhelming majority, are not a sufficiently strong bulwark against nationalism.
It should be borne in mind that our communist organisations in the border regions, in the republics and regions, can develop and stand firmly on their feet, can become genuine internationalist, Marxist cadres, only if they overcome nationalism. Nationalism is the chief ideological obstacle to the training of Marxist cadres, of a Marxist vanguard, in the border regions and republics. The history of our Party shows that the Bolshevik Party, its Russian section, grew and gained strength in the fight against Menshevism; for Menshevism is the ideology of the bourgeoisie, Menshevism is a channel through which bourgeois ideology penetrates into our Party, and had the Party not overcome Menshevism it could not have stood firmly on its feet. Ilyich wrote about this a number of times. Only to the degree that it overcame Menshevism in its organisational and ideological forms did Bolshevism grow and gain strength as a real leading party. The same must be said of nationalism in relation to our communist organisations in the border regions and republics. Nationalism is playing the same role in relation to these organisations as Men-shevism in the past played in relation to the Bolshevik Party. Only under cover of nationalism can various kinds of bourgeois, including Menshevik, influences penetrate our organisations in the border regions. Our organisations in the republics can become Marxist only if they are able to resist the nationalist ideas which are forcing their way into our Party in the border regions, and are forcing their way because the bourgeoisie is reviving, the N.E.P. is spreading, nationalism is growing, there are survivals of Great-Russian chauvinism, which also give an impetus to local nationalism, and there is the influence of foreign states, which support nationalism in every way. If our communist organisations in the national republics want to gain strength as genuinely Marxist organisations they must pass through the stage of fighting this enemy in the republics and regions. There is no other way. And in this fight the Rights are weak. Weak because they are infected with scepticism with regard to the Party and easily yield to the influence of nationalism. Herein lies the sin of the Right wing of the communist organisations in the republics and regions.
But no less, if not more, sinful are the "Lefts" in the border regions. If the communist organisations in the border regions cannot grow strong and develop into genuinely Marxist cadres unless they overcome nationalism, these cadres themselves will be able to become mass organisations, to rally the majority of the working people around themselves, only if they learn to be flexible enough to draw into our state institutions all the national elements that are at all loyal, by making concessions to them, and if they learn to manoeuvre between a resolute fight against nationalism in the Party and an equally resolute fight to draw into Soviet work all the more or less loyal elements among the local people, the intelligentsia, and so on. The "Lefts" in the border regions are more or less free from the sceptical attitude towards the Party, from the tendency to yield to the influence of nationalism. But the sins of the "Lefts" lie in the fact that they are incapable of flexibility in relation to the bourgeois-democratic and the simply loyal elements of the population, they are unable and unwilling to manoeuvre in order to attract these elements, they distort the Party's line of winning over the majority of the toiling population of the country. But this flexibility and ability to manoeuvre between the fight against nationalism and the drawing of all the elements that are at all loyal into our state institutions must be created and developed at all costs. It can be created and developed only if we take into account the entire complexity and the specific nature of the situation encountered in our regions and republics; if we do not simply engage in transplanting the models that are being created in the central industrial districts, which cannot be transplanted mechanically to the border regions; if we do not brush aside the nationalist-minded elements of the population, the nationalist-minded petty bourgeois; and if we learn to draw these elements into the general work of state administration. The sin of the "Lefts" is that they are infected with sectarianism and fail to understand the paramount importance of the Party's complex tasks in the national republics and regions.
While the Rights create the danger that by their tendency to yield to nationalism they may hinder the growth of our communist cadres in the border regions, the "Lefts" create the danger for the Party that by their infatuation with an over-simplified and hasty "communism" they may isolate our Party from the peasantry and from broad strata of the local population.
Which of these dangers is the more formidable? If the comrades who are deviating towards the "Left" intend to continue practising in the localities their policy of artificially splitting the population—and this policy has been practised not only in Chechnya and in the Yakut Region, and not only in Turkestan . . . . (Ibrahimov : "They are tactics of differentiation.") Ibrahimov has now thought of substituting the tactics of differentiation for the tactics of splitting, but that changes nothing. If, I say, they intend to continue practising their policy of splitting the population from above; if they think that Russian models can be mechanically transplanted to a specifically national milieu regardless of the manner of life of the inhabitants and of the concrete conditions; if they think that in fighting nationalism everything that is national must be thrown overboard; in short, if the "Left" Communists in the border regions intend to remain incorrigible, I must say that of the two, the "Left" danger may prove to be the more formidable.
This is all I wanted to say about the "Lefts" and the Rights. I have run ahead somewhat, but that is because the whole conference has run ahead and has anticipated the discussion of the second item.
We must chastise the Rights in order to make them fight nationalism, to teach them to do so in order to forge real communist cadres from among local people. But we must also chastise the "Lefts" in order to teach them to be flexible and to manoeuvre skilfully, so as to win over the broad masses of the population. All this must be done because, as Khojanov rightly remarked, the truth lies "in between" the Rights and the "Lefts."
Comrades, you have no doubt already received the draft platform of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee on the national question. (Voices : "Not everybody has it.") This platform concerns the second item of the agenda with all the sub-items. At all events, everybody has received the conference agenda in the shape of the Central Committee's coded telegram.
The Political Bureau's proposals may be divided into three groups.
The first group of questions concerns the reinforcement of the communist cadres in the republics and regions from among local people.
The second group of questions concerns everything connected with the implementation of the concrete decisions on the national question adopted by the Twelfth Congress, namely: questions about drawing working people of the local population into Party and Soviet affairs; questions about measures necessary for raising the cultural level of the local population; questions about improving the economic situation in the republics and regions with due regard to specific features of the manner of life; and lastly, questions about the co-operatives in the regions and republics, the transfer of factories, the creation of industrial centres, and so on. This group of questions concerns the economic, cultural and political tasks of the regions and republics, with due regard to local conditions.
The third group of questions concerns the Constitution of the Union of Republics in general, and in particular the question of amending this Constitution with a view to setting up a second chamber of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Republics. As you know, this last group of questions is connected with the forthcoming session of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Republics.
I pass to the first group of questions—those concerning the methods of training and reinforcing Marxist cadres from among local people, who will be capable of serving as the most important and, in the long run, as the decisive bulwark of Soviet power in the border regions. If we examine the development of our Party (I refer to its Russian section, as the main section) and trace the principal stages in its development, and then, by analogy, draw a picture of the development of our communist organisations in the regions and republics in the immediate future, I think we shall find the key to the understanding of the specific features in these countries which distinguish the development of our Party in the border regions.
The principal task in the first period of our Party's development, the development of its Russian section, was to create cadres, Marxist cadres. These Marxist cadres were made, forged, in our fight with Menshevism. The task of these cadres then, at that period—I am referring to the period from the foundation of the Bolshevik Party to the expulsion from the Party of the Liquidators, as the most pronounced representatives of Menshevism—the main task was to win over to the Bolsheviks the most active, honest and outstanding members of the working class, to create cadres, to form a vanguard. The struggle here was waged primarily against tendencies of a bourgeois character—especially against Menshevism—which prevented the cadres from being combined into a single unit, as the main core of the Party. At that time it was not yet the task of the Party, as an immediate and vital need, to establish wide connections with the vast masses of the working class and the toiling peasantry, to win over those masses, to win a majority in the country. The Party had not yet got so far.
Only in the next stage of our Party's development, only in its second stage, when these cadres had grown, when they had taken shape as the basic core of our Party, when the sympathies of the best elements among the working class had already been won, or almost won— only then was the Party confronted with the task, as an immediate and urgent need, of winning over the vast masses, of transforming the Party cadres into a real mass workers' party. During this period the core of our Party had to wage a struggle not so much against Men-shevism as against the "Left" elements within our Party, the "Otzovists" of all kinds, who were attempting to substitute revolutionary phraseology for a serious study of the specific features of the new situation which arose after 1905, who by their over-simplified "revolutionary" tactics were hindering the conversion of our Party cadres into a genuine mass party, and who by their activities were creating the danger of the Party becoming divorced from the broad masses of the workers. It scarcely needs proof that without a resolute struggle against this "Left" danger, without defeating it, the Party could not have won over the vast labouring masses.
Such, approximately, is the picture of the fight on two fronts, against the Rights, i.e., the Mensheviks, and against the "Lefts"; the picture of the development of the principal section of our Party, the Russian section.
Comrade Lenin quite convincingly depicted this essential, inevitable development of the Communist Parties in his pamphlet "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder. There he showed that the Communist Parties in the West must pass, and are already passing, through approximately the same stages of development. We, on our part, shall add that the same must be said of the development of our communist organisations and Communist Parties in the border regions.
It should, however, be noted that, despite the analogy between what the Party experienced in the past and what our Party organisations in the border regions are experiencing now, there are, after all, certain important specific features in our Party's development in the national republics and regions, features which we must without fail take into account, for if we do not take them carefully into account we shall run the risk of committing a number of very gross errors in determining the tasks of training Marxist cadres from among local people in the border regions.
Let us pass to an examination of these specific features.
The fight against the Right and "Left" elements in our organisations in the border regions is necessary and obligatory, for otherwise we shall not be able to train Marxist cadres closely connected with the masses. That is clear. But the specific feature of the situation in the border regions, the feature that distinguishes it from our Party's development in the past, is that in the border regions the forging of cadres and their conversion into a mass party are taking place not under a bourgeois system, as was the case in the history of our Party, but under the Soviet system, under the dictatorship of the proletariat. At that time, under the bourgeois system, it was possible and necessary, because of the conditions of those times, to beat first of all the Mensheviks (in order to forge Marxist cadres) and then the Otzovists (in order to transform those cadres into a mass party); the fight against those two deviations filled two entire periods of our Party's history. Now, under present conditions, we cannot possibly do that, for the Party is now in power, and being in power, the Party needs in the border regions reliable Marxist cadres from among local people who are connected with the broad masses of the population. Now we cannot first of all defeat the Right danger with the help of the "Lefts," as was the case in the history of our Party, and then the "Left" danger with the help of the Rights. Now we have to wage a fight on both fronts simultaneously, striving to defeat both dangers so as to obtain as a result in the border regions trained Marxist cadres of local people connected with the masses. At that time we could speak of cadres who were not yet connected with the broad masses, but who were to become connected with them in the next period of development. Now it is ridiculous even to speak of that, because under the Soviet regime it is impossible to conceive of Marxist cadres not being connected with the broad masses in one way or another. They would be cadres who would have nothing in common either with Marxism or with a mass party. All this considerably complicates matters and dictates to our Party organisations in the border regions the need for waging a simultaneous struggle against the Rights and the "Lefts." Hence the stand our Party takes that it is necessary to wage a fight on two fronts, against both deviations simultaneously.
Further, it should be noted that the development of our communist organisations in the border regions is not proceeding in isolation, as was the case in our Party's history in relation to its Russian section, but under the direct influence of the main core of our Party, which is experienced not only in forming Marxist cadres, but also in linking those cadres with the broad masses of the population and in revolutionary manoeuvring in the fight for Soviet power. The specific feature of the situation in the border regions in this respect is that our Party organisations in these countries, owing to the conditions under which Soviet power is developing there, can and must manoeuvre their forces for the purpose of strengthening their connections with the broad masses of the population, utilising for this purpose the rich experience of our Party during the preceding period. Until recently, the Central Committee of the R.C.P. usually carried out manoeuvring in the border regions directly, over the heads of the communist organisations there, sometimes even by-passing those organisations, drawing all the more or less loyal national elements into the general work of Soviet construction. Now this work must be done by the organisations in the border regions themselves. They can do it, and must do it, bearing in mind that that is the best way of converting the Marxist cadres from among local people into a genuine mass party capable of leading the majority of the population of the country.
Such are the two specific features which must be taken strictly into account when determining our Party's line in the border regions in the matter of training Marxist cadres, and of these cadres winning over the broad masses of the population.
I pass to the second group of questions. Since not all the comrades have received the draft platform, I will read it and explain.
First, "measures for drawing the proletarian and semi-proletarian elements into Party and Soviet affairs." Why is this needed? It is needed to bring the Party, and particularly the Soviet, apparatus closer to the population. These apparatuses must function in the languages that are understood by the broad masses of the people, otherwise it will be impossible to bring them closer to the population. Our Party's task is to make Soviet power near and dear to the masses, but this task can be fulfilled only by making this power understood by the masses. Those who are at the head of the state institutions, and the institutions themselves, must function in the language understood by the people. The chauvinistic elements who are destroying the feeling of friendship and solidarity between the peoples in the Union of Republics must be expelled from these institutions; our institutions, both in Moscow and in the republics, must be purged of such elements, and local people who know the language and customs of the population must be placed at the head of the state institutions in the republics.
I remember that two years ago, the Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars in the Kirghiz Republic was Pestkovsky, who could not speak the Kirghiz language. Already at that time this circumstance gave rise to enormous difficulties in the matter of strengthening the ties between the Government of the Kirghiz Republic and the masses of the Kirghiz peasants. That is precisely why the Party arranged for a Kirghiz to be Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Kirghiz Republic.
I also remember that last year a group of comrades from Bashkiria proposed that a Russian comrade be put forward as Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of Bashkiria. The Party emphatically rejected this proposal and secured the nomination of a Bashkir for this post.
The task is to pursue this line, and, in general, the line of gradually making the governmental institutions national in character in all the national republics and regions, and first of all in such an important republic as the Ukraine.
Secondly, "to choose and enlist the more or less loyal elements among the local intelligentsia, while at the same time training Soviet cadres from among the members of the Party." This proposition does not call for special explanation. Now that the working class is in power and has rallied the majority of the population around itself, there are no grounds for fearing to draw the more or less loyal elements, even including former "Octobrists," into the work of Soviet construction. On the contrary, all these elements must without fail be drawn into the work in the national regions and republics in order to assimilate and Sovietise them in the course of the work itself.
Thirdly, "to arrange non-Party conferences of workers and peasants at which members of the Government should report on the measures taken by the Soviet Government." I know that many People's Commissars in the republics, in the Kirghiz Republic, for example, are unwilling to visit the districts, to attend meetings of peasants, to speak at meetings and inform the broad masses about what the Party and the Soviet Government are doing in connection with questions that are particularly important to the peasants. We must put a stop to this state of affairs. Non-Party conferences of workers and peasants must be convened without fail, and at them the masses must be informed about the Soviet Government's activities. Unless this is done we cannot even dream of bringing the state apparatus closer to the people.
Further, "measures to raise the cultural level of the local population." Several measures are proposed, but, of course, the list cannot be regarded as exhaustive. These measures are: a) "to organise clubs (non-Party) and other educational institutions to be conducted in the local languages"; b) "to enlarge the network of educational institutions of all grades to be conducted in the local languages "; c) "to enlist the services of the more or less loyal school-teachers"; d) "to create a network of societies for the dissemination of literacy in the local languages"; e) "to organise publishing activity." All these measures are clear and intelligible and, therefore, do not need special explanation.
Further, "economic construction in the national republics and regions from the standpoint of the specific national features of their manner of life." The relevant measures proposed by the Political Bureau are: a) "to regulate and, where necessary, to stop the transference of populations"; b) "to provide land for the local working population out of the state land fund"; c) "to make agricultural credit available to the local population"; d) "to expand irrigation work"; e) "to transfer factories and mills to republics in which raw materials abound"; f) "to organise trade and technical schools"; g) "to organise agricultural courses," and lastly, h) "to give the co-operatives, and especially the producers' co-operatives, all possible assistance (with a view to attracting handicraftsmen)."
I must dwell on the last point owing to its special importance. In the past, under the tsar, development proceeded in such a way that the kulaks grew, agricultural capital developed, the bulk of the middle peasants were in a state of unstable equilibrium, while the broad masses of the peasants, the broad masses of small peasant proprietors, writhed in the clutches of ruin and poverty. Now, however, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, when credit, the land and power are in the hands of the working class, development cannot proceed along the old lines, notwithstanding the conditions of the N.E.P., notwithstanding the revival of private capital. Those comrades are absolutely wrong who assert that in view of the development of the N.E.P. we must again go through the old history of developing kulaks at the cost of wholesale ruin for the majority of the peasants. That path is not our path. Under the new conditions, when the proletariat is in power and holds in its hands all the basic threads of our economy, development must proceed along a different path, along the path of uniting the small proprietors of the villages in all kinds of co-operative societies, which will be backed by the state in their struggle against private capital; along the path of gradually drawing the millions of small peasant proprietors into socialist construction through the co-operatives; along the path of gradually improving the economic conditions of the small peasant proprietors (and not of impoverishing them). In this respect, "all possible assistance to the co-operatives" in the border regions, in these predominantly agricultural countries, is of prime importance for the future economic development of the Union of Republics.
Further, "practical measures for the organisation of national military units." I think that we have delayed considerably in drawing up measures of this kind. It is our duty to organise national military units. Of course, they cannot be organised in a day; but we can, and must, proceed at once to set up military schools in the republics and regions for the purpose of training within a certain period, from among local people, commanders who could later serve as a core for the organisation of national mili tary units. It is absolutely necessary to start this and to push it forward. If we had reliable national military units with reliable commanders in republics like Turkestan, the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, our republic would be in a far better position than it is now both in regard to defence and in regard to the contingency of our having to take action. We must start this work at once. Of course, this will involve an increase in the strength of our army by 20-25 thousand men, but this cannot be regarded as an insuperable obstacle.
I shall not dwell at length on the remaining points (see the draft platform), for their significance is self-evident and needs no explanation.
The third group of questions consists of those connected with the institution of a second chamber of the Central Executive Committee of the Union and the organisation of the People's Commissariats of the Union of Republics. Here the principal questions, the most conspicuous ones, are singled out and, of course, the list of such questions cannot be regarded as complete.
The Political Bureau conceives the second chamber as a component part of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R. Proposals were made that, in addition to the existing Central Executive Committee, there should be set up a Supreme Soviet of Nationalities separate from the Central Executive Committee. This project was rejected and the Political Bureau decided that it was more advisable to divide the Central Executive Committee itself into two chambers: the first, which can be called the Union Soviet, to be elected by the Congress of Soviets of the Union of Republics, and the second, which should be called the Soviet of Nationalities, to be elected by the Central Executive Committees of the republics and by the regional congresses of national regions in the proportion cadres were made, forged, in our fight with Menshevism. The task of these cadres then, at that period—I am referring to the period from the foundation of the Bolshevik Party to the expulsion from the Party of the Liquidators, as the most pronounced representatives of Menshevism—the main task was to win over to the Bolsheviks the most active, honest and outstanding members of the working class, to create cadres, to form a vanguard. The struggle here was waged primarily against tendencies of a bourgeois character—especially against Menshevism—which prevented the cadres from being combined into a single unit, as the main core of the Party. At that time it was not yet the task of the Party, as an immediate and vital need, to establish wide connections with the vast masses of the working class and the toiling peasantry, to win over those masses, to win a majority in the country. The Party had not yet got so far.
Only in the next stage of our Party's development, only in its second stage, when these cadres had grown, when they had taken shape as the basic core of our Party, when the sympathies of the best elements among the working class had already been won, or almost won— only then was the Party confronted with the task, as an immediate and urgent need, of winning over the vast masses, of transforming the Party cadres into a real mass workers' party. During this period the core of our Party had to wage a struggle not so much against Men-shevism as against the "Left" elements within our Party, the "Otzovists" of all kinds, who were attempting to substitute revolutionary phraseology for a serious study of the specific features of the new situation which arose
Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Republics, while the other five Commissariats are directive bodies, i.e., the Supreme Council of National Economy, the People's Commissariat of Food, the People's Commissariat of Finance, the People's Commissariat of Labour, and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection are subordinate to two authorities, while the remaining six Commissariats are independent. This project was criticised by some of the Ukrainians, Rakovsky, Skrypnik, and others. The Political Bureau, however, rejected the proposal of the Ukrainians that the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and the People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade be transferred from the category of merged Commissariats to the directive category and, in the main, accepted the principal clauses of the Constitution in keeping with the decisions adopted last year.
Such, in general, are the considerations that guided the Political Bureau in drawing up the draft platform.
I think that on the question of the Constitution of the Union of Republics and of the second chamber, the conference will have to limit itself to a brief exchange of opinions, the more so that this question is being studied by a commission of the Plenum of the Central Committee. 3 The question of the practical measures to implement the resolutions of the Twelfth Congress will, in my opinion, have to be discussed in greater detail. As for the question of strengthening the local Marxist cadres, we shall have to devote the greater part of the debate to this matter.
I think that it would be advisable before opening the debate to hear the reports of the comrades from the republics and regions on the basis of the information they have brought from their localities.
First of all I would like to say a few words about the reports made by the comrades, and about the character of the conference in general, in the light of the reports presented. Although this is the fourth conference of this kind held since Soviet power came into existence, it is the only one that can be called a full conference, having heard more or less full and substantiated reports from the republics and regions. It is evident from the reports that the communist cadres in the regions and republics have grown more mature and are learning to work independently. I think that the wealth of information the comrades have given us, the experience of the work performed in the regions and republics which the comrades related to us here, should certainly be brought to the knowledge of the whole of our Party in the shape of the minutes of this conference. The people have grown more mature and are making progress, they are learning to govern—such is the first conclusion to be drawn from the reports, the first impression that one gets from them.
Passing to the contents of the reports, we can divide the material presented into two groups: reports from the Socialist Republics, and reports from the People's, non-Socialist, Republics (Bukhara, Khorezm).
Let us proceed to examine the first group of reports. It is evident from these reports that as regards bringing the Party and, particularly, the state apparatus closer to the language and manner of life of the people, Georgia must be considered the most developed and advanced republic. Next to Georgia comes Armenia. The other republics and regions are behind them. Such, to my mind, is the indisputable conclusion. This is due to the fact that Georgia and Armenia are more highly cultured than the others. The percentage of literates in Georgia is fairly high—as much as 80; in Armenia it is not less than 40. That is the secret why these two countries are ahead of the other republics. From this it follows that the more literate and cultured a country, a republic, or a region is, the closer is the Party and Soviet apparatus to the people, to its language, to its manner of life. All this, provided other conditions are equal, of course. This is obvious, and there is nothing new in this conclusion; and precisely because there is nothing new in it, this conclusion is often forgotten and, not infrequently, efforts are made to attribute cultural backwardness, and hence, backwardness in state affairs, to "mistakes" in the Party's policy, to conflicts, and so forth, whereas the basis of all this is insufficient literacy, lack of culture. If you want to make your country an advanced country, that is, to raise the level of its statehood, then increase the literacy of the population, raise the culture of your country, the rest will come.
Approaching the matter from that angle, and appraising the situation in the individual republics in the light of these reports, it must be admitted that the situation in Turkestan, the present state of affairs there, is the most unsatisfactory, and is the most alarming. Cultural backwardness, a terribly low percentage of literacy, divorce of the state apparatus from the language and manner of life of the peoples of Turkestan, a terribly slow tempo of development—such is the picture. And yet it is obvious that, of all the Soviet republics, Turkestan is the most important from the standpoint of revolutionising the East; and not only because Turkestan presents a combination of nationalities most closely connected with the East, but also because, owing to its geographical situation, it cuts right into the heart of the East, which is the most exploited, and which has accumulated in its midst the most explosive material for the fight against imperialism. That is why present-day Turkestan is the weakest point of Soviet power. The task is to transform Turkestan into a model republic, into an outpost for revolutionising the East. That is precisely why it is necessary to concentrate attention on Turkestan with a view to raising the cultural level of the masses, to making the state apparatus national in character, and so forth. We must carry out this task at all costs, sparing no effort, and shrinking from no sacrifice.
The second weak point of Soviet power is the Ukraine. The state of affairs there as regards culture, literacy, etc., is the same, or almost the same, as in Turkestan. The state apparatus is as remote from the language and manner of life of the people as it is in Turkestan. And yet the Ukraine has the same significance for the peoples of the West as Turkestan has for the peoples of the East. The situation in the Ukraine is still more complicated by certain specific features of the country's industrial development. The point is that the basic industries, coal and metallurgy, appeared in the Ukraine not from below, not as a result of the natural development of her national economy, but from above; they were introduced, artificially implanted, from outside. Consequently the proletariat in those industries is not of local origin, its language is not Ukrainian. The result of this is that the exercise of cultural influence by the towns upon the countryside and the establishment of the bond between the proletariat and the peasantry are considerably hindered by these differences in the national composition of the proletariat and the peasantry. All these circumstances must be taken into account in the work of transforming the Ukraine into a model republic. And in view of her enormous significance for the peoples of the West, it is absolutely essential to transform her into a model republic.
I pass to the reports on Khorezm and Bukhara. I shall not speak about Khorezm because of the absence of the Khorezm representative; it would be unfair to criticise the work of the Khorezm Communist Party and of the Government of Khorezm merely on the basis of the information at the disposal of the Central Committee. What Broido said here about Khorezm concerns the past. It has little relation to the present situation in Khorezm. Concerning the Party there, he said that fifty per cent of the members are merchants and the like. Perhaps that was the case in the past, but at the present time the Party is being purged; not a single "uniform Party card" has yet been issued to Khorezm; properly speaking, there is no Party there, it will be possible to speak of a Party only when the purge is completed. It is said that there are several thousand members of the Party there.
I think that after the purge not more than some hundreds of Party members will be left. The situation was exactly the same in Bukhara last year, when 16,000 members were registered in the Party there; after the purge not more than a thousand were left.
I pass to the report on Bukhara. Speaking of Bukhara, I must first of all say a word or two about the general tone and character of the reports presented. I consider that, on the whole, the reports on the republics and regions were truthful and, on the whole, did not diverge from reality. Only one report diverged very widely from reality, that was the report on Bukhara. It was not even a report, it was sheer diplomacy, for everything that is bad in Bukhara was obscured, glossed over, whereas everything that glitters on the surface and strikes the eye was pushed into the foreground, for display. Conclusion—all's well in Bukhara. I think that we have gathered at this conference not for the purpose of playing at diplomacy with one another, of making eyes at one an other, while surreptitiously trying to lead one another by the nose, but for the purpose of telling the whole truth, of revealing, exposing all the evils in the communist way, and of devising means for improvement. Only in this way can we make progress. In this respect, the report on Bukhara differs from the other reports by its untruthfulness. It was not by chance that I asked the reporter here about the composition of the Council of Nazirs in Bukhara. The Council of Nazirs is the Council of People's Commissars. Are there any dekhans, i.e., peasants, on it? The reporter did not answer. But I have information about this; it turns out that there is not a single peasant in the Bukhara Government. The nine, or eleven, members of the government include the son of a rich merchant, a trader, an intellectual, a mullah, a trader, an intellectual, another trader, but not a single dekhan. And yet, as is well known, Bukhara is exclusively a peasant country.
This question is directly related to the question of the Bukhara Government's policy. What is the policy of this government that is headed by Communists? Does it serve the interests of the peasantry, of its own peasantry? I would like to mention only two facts which illustrate the policy of the Bukhara Government that is headed by Communists. From a document signed by highly responsible comrades and old members of the Party it is evident, for example, that of the credits the State Bank of Bukhara has granted since it came in existence, 75 per cent have gone to private merchants, whereas the peasant co-operatives have received 2 per cent. In absolute figures it works out like this: 7,000,000 gold rubles to the merchants, and 220,000 gold rubles to the peasants. Further, in Bukhara the land has not been confiscated. But the Emir's cattle were confiscated . . . for the benefit of the peasants. But what do we find? From this same document it appears that about 2,000 head of cattle were confiscated for the benefit of the peasants, but of this number the peasants received only about 200; the rest were sold, to wealthy citizens of course.
And this government calls itself a Soviet, a People's, government! It scarcely needs proof that in the activities of the Bukhara Government just described there is nothing either of a People's or of a Soviet character.
The reporter painted a very radiant picture of the attitude of the Bukhara people towards the R.S.F.S.R. and the Union of Republics. According to what he said, all is well in this respect too. The Bukhara Republic, it appears, wants to join the Union. Evidently the reporter thinks that it is enough to want to enter the Union of Republics for the gates to be flung open. No, comrades, the matter is not so simple. You have to ask first whether you will be allowed to enter the Union of Republics. To be able to join the Union you must first show the peoples of the Union that you have earned the right to join; you have to win this right. I must remind the Bukhara comrades that the Union of Republics must not be regarded as a dumping ground.
Lastly, to conclude the first part of my reply to the discussion on the reports, I should like to touch upon a characteristic feature of them. Not one of the reporters answered the question that is on the agenda of this conference, namely: whether there are unused, unengaged reserves of local people. Nobody answered this question, nobody even touched upon it, except Grinko, who, however, is not a reporter. And yet this question is of first-rate importance. Are there in the republics, or in the regions, local responsible workers who are free, who are not being used? If there are, why are they not being used? If there are no such reserves, and yet a shortage of workers is experienced, with what national elements are the vacant places in the Party or Soviet apparatuses being filled? All these questions are of the highest importance for the Party. I know that in the republics and regions there are some leading workers, mostly Russians, who sometimes block the way for local people, hinder their promotion to certain posts, push them into the background. Such cases happen, and this is one of the causes of discontent in the republics and regions. But the greatest and basic cause of discontent is that there are terribly few unengaged reserves of local people fit for the work; most likely there are none at all. That is the whole point. Since there is a shortage of local workers, it is obviously necessary to engage non-local workers for the work, people of other nationalities, for time will not wait; we must build and govern, and cadres of local people grow slowly. I think that here the workers from the regions and republics showed a certain guile in saying nothing about this. And yet it is obvious that nine-tenths of the misunderstandings are due to the shortage of responsible workers from among local people. Only one conclusion can be drawn from this: the Party must be set the urgent task of accelerating the formation of cadres of Soviet and Party workers from among local people.
From the reports I pass to the speeches. I must observe, comrades, that not one of the speakers criticised the statement of principles in the draft platform submitted by the Political Bureau. (Voice: "It is above criticism.") I take this as evidence of the conference's agreement, of the conference's solidarity with the principles that are formulated in this part of the platform. (Voices: "Quite true!")
Trotsky's addendum, which he spoke about, or insertion (it concerns the part dealing with principles), ought to be adopted, for it in no way alters the character of that part of the resolution; more than that, it naturally follows from it. The more so because, in essence, Trotsky's addendum is a repetition of the well-known point in the resolution on the national question adopted by the Tenth Congress, where it is said that Petrograd and Moscow models must not be mechanically transplanted to the regions and republics. It is, of course, a repetition, but I think that sometimes it does no harm to repeat certain things. In view of this, I do not intend to dwell at length on that part of the resolution which deals with principles. Skrypnik's speech gives some ground for the conclusion that he interprets that part in his own way, and in face of the main task—to combat Great-Russian chauvinism, which is the chief danger— he tries to obscure the other danger, the danger of local nationalism. But such an interpretation is profoundly mistaken.
The second part of the Political Bureau's platform concerns the questions of the character of the Union of Republics, and of certain amendments to the Constitution of the Union of Republics from the standpoint of instituting a so-called second chamber. I must say that on this point the Political Bureau disagrees somewhat with the Ukrainian comrades. What is formulated in the Political Bureau's draft platform, the Political Bureau adopted unanimously. But some points are disputed by Rakovsky. This, incidentally, was apparent in the Commission of the Plenum of the Central Committee. Perhaps we ought not to discuss this, because this question is not to be settled here. I have already reported on this part of the platform; I said that this question was being studied by the Commission of the Plenum of the Central Committee and by the Commission of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union.4 But since the question has been raised I cannot ignore it.
It is wrong to say that the question of confederation or federation is a trivial one. Was it accidental that, when examining the well-known draft Constitution adopted at the Congress of the Union of Republics, the Ukrainian comrades deleted from it the phrase which said that the republics "are uniting into a single union state"? Was that accidental? Did they not do that? Why did they delete that phrase? Was it accidental that the Ukrainian comrades proposed in their counter-draft that the People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade and the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs should not be merged but be transferred to the directive category? What becomes of the single union state if each republic retains its own People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade? Was it accidental that in their counter-draft the Ukrainians reduced the power of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee to nil by splitting it up between two presidiums of the two chambers? All these amendments of Ra-kovsky's were registered and examined by the Commission of the Plenum of the Central Committee, and rejected. Why, then, repeat them here? I regard this persistence on the part of some of the Ukrainian comrades as evidence of a desire to obtain in the definition of the character of the Union something midway between a confederation and a federation, with a leaning towards confederation. It is obvious, however, that we are creating not a confederation, but a federation of republics, a single union state, uniting military, foreign, foreign trade and other affairs, a state which in no way diminishes the sovereignty of the individual republics.
If the Union is to have a People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, a People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade, and so forth, and the republics constituting the Union are also to have all these Commissariats, it is obvious that it will be impossible for the Union as a whole to come before the outside world as a single state. One thing or the other: either we merge these apparatuses and face the external enemy as a single Union, or we do not merge them and create not a union state, but a conglomeration of republics, in which case every republic must have its own parallel apparatus. I think that in this matter truth is on the side of Comrade Manuilsky, and not on the side of Rakovsky and Skrypnik.
From questions of state I pass to questions of a purely concrete, practical character, connected partly with the Political Bureau's practical proposals, and partly with the amendments that may be moved here by the comrades who are engaged in practical work. Being the reporter on behalf of the Political Bureau, I did not, and could not, say that the list of concrete, practical proposals made by the Political Bureau is exhaustive. On the contrary, I said at the very outset that there may be omissions in the list, and that additions were inevitable. Skrypnik is proposing one such addition in relation to the trade unions. That one is acceptable. I also accept some of the additions proposed by Comrade Miko-yan. As regards a fund for publishing work, and for the press in general in some of the backward republics and regions, an amendment is certainly needed. That question was overlooked. So also was the question of schools in some regions, and even republics. Primary schools are not included in the State Budget. This is certainly an omission, and there may be a heap of such omissions. I therefore suggest to the comrades engaged in practical work, who spoke a lot about the state of their organisations, but made less effort to propose something concrete, to think about this and to submit their concrete addenda, amendments, etc., to the Central Committee, which will unify them, insert them in the relevant points and circulate them to the organisations.
I cannot pass over in silence a proposal made by Grinko to the effect that certain easier conditions should be created to facilitate local people among the less cultured and, perhaps, less proletarian nationalities entering the Party and being promoted to its leading bodies. The proposal is correct and, in my opinion, it ought to be adopted.
I conclude my reply to the discussion with the following motion: that the Political Bureau's draft platform on the national question be adopted as a basis, Trotsky's amendment to be taken into consideration. That the Central Committee be requested to classify amendments of a practical character that have been, or may be, proposed, and to embody them in the relevant points of the platform; that the Central Committee be requested to have the draft platform, the minutes, the resolution and the most important documents left by the reporters printed in a week's time and distributed to the organisations. That the draft platform be adopted without setting up a special commission.
I have not touched on the question of setting up a commission on the national question under the Central Committee. Comrades, I have some doubt about the advisability of creating such an organisation, firstly because the republics and regions will certainly not provide top-level workers for this body. I am sure of that. Secondly, I think that the Regional Committees and national Central Committees will not agree to yield to the Central Committee's commission even a particle of their rights in the distribution of responsible workers. At the present time, when distributing forces, we usually consult the Regional Committees and national Central Committees. If this commission is set up, the centre of gravity will naturally shift to it. There is no analogy between a commission on the national question and commissions on questions concerning the co-operatives, or work among the peasants. Commissions on work in the countryside, and on co-operatives, usually draw up general instructions. On the national question, however, we need not general instructions, but the indication of concrete steps to be taken in each republic and region, and this a general commission will be unable to do. It is doubtful whether any commission can draw up and adopt any decisions for, let us say, the Ukrainian Republic: two or three men from the Ukraine cannot act as substitutes for the Central Committee of the C.P.(B.) of the Ukraine. That is why I think that a commission will not produce any effective results. The step that is here proposed—to appoint people from the nationalities to the chief departments of the Central Committee—is to my mind quite sufficient for the time being. If no particular success is achieved within the next six months, the question can then be raised of setting up a special commission.
Since I have been attacked (laughter), permit me to answer the point about the "one and indivisible." None other than Stalin, in the resolution on the national question, denounced the "one and indivisible" in Point 8. Obviously, what was meant was not "indivisible," but federation, whereas the Ukrainians are trying to force confederation upon us. That is the first question.
The second question is about Rakovsky. I repeat, for I have already said it once, that the Constitution that was adopted at the First Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. says that such and such republics "are uniting into a single union state"—"the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." The Ukrainians sent their counter-draft to the Central Committee. That draft says : such and such republics "are forming a Union of Socialist Republics." The words "are uniting into a single union state" were thrown out. Six words were thrown out. Why? Was that accidental? What has become of federation? I also perceive the germ of confederalism in Rakovsky's action in throwing out of the clause in the Constitution that was adopted at the First Congress, the words describing the Presidium as being "vested with supreme authority in the intervals between sessions," and in dividing power between the presidiums of two chambers, i.e., reducing the Union power to a fiction. Why did he do that? Because he is opposed to the idea of a union state, opposed to real Union power. That is the second question.
The third: in the draft proposed by the Ukrainians, the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs and the People's Commissariat of Foreign Trade are not merged, but are transferred from the merged category to the directive category.
Such are the three reasons which cause me to perceive the germ of confederation in Rakovsky's proposals. Why is there such a divergence between your proposals and the text of the Constitution, which the Ukrainian delegation also accepted? (Rakovsky: "We've had the Twelfth Congress.")
Excuse me. The Twelfth Congress rejected your amendments and adopted the wording: "uniting the republics into a single union state."
I can see that during the period from the First Congress of the Union of Republics to the Twelfth Party Congress and the present Conference, some of the Ukrainian comrades have undergone a certain evolution from federalism to confederalism. Well, I am in favour of federation, i.e., opposed to confederation, i.e., opposed to the proposals made by Rakovsky and Skrypnik.
Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the R.C.P. With Responsible Workers of the National Republics and Regions. Verbatim Report, Moscow, 1923
1. The Fourth Conference of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) With Responsible Workers of the National Republics and Regions was convened on J. V. Stalin's initiative and took place in Moscow on June 9-12, 1923. In addition to the members and candidate members of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.), there were present 58 representatives of the national republics and regions. The chief item on the agenda was J. V. Stalin's report on "Practical Measures for Implementing the Resolution on the National Question Adopted by the Twelfth Party Congress." Representatives of twenty Party organisations of the national republics and regions reported on the situation in the localities. The conference also examined the Central Control Commission's report on the anti-Party and anti-Soviet activities of Sultan-Galiyev. (For the resolutions passed by this conference see "Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums," Part 1, 1941, pp. 525-30.)
2. The draft platform on the national question was written by J. V. Stalin at the end of May 1923 in connection with the preparations for the Fourth Conference, and it was endorsed by the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) on June 4. The Draft was adopted by the conference as the resolution on J. V. Stalin's report on "Practical Measures for Implementing the Resolution on the National Question Adopted by the Twelfth Party Congress."
3. This refers to the commission appointed by the Plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) on February 24, 1923, to draw up practical proposals concerning the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The commission was headed by J. V. Stalin and contained representatives of the Party organisations of all the Union Republics. It directed the drafting of the Constitution of the U.S.S.R.
4. This refers to the commission appointed by the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R. to draft the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. It consisted of twenty-five representatives of the Union Republics. J. V. Stalin was a member from the R.S.F.S.R. The plenary sittings of the commission, at which the draft Constitution was discussed, took place on June 8-16, 1923.