J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 6, January - December, 1924, pp. 197-245
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
First Published: Pravda, Nos. 118 and 119, May 27 and 28, 1924
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
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, the general situation, as it has developed in the country and around the Party in the past year, can be described as favourable. The basic facts: economic progress, increased activity generally, and especially of the working class, more vigorous Party life.
In sum and substance, the question is of the extent to which the Party has succeeded during the year in utilising this situation to enhance its influence in the mass organisations that surround it; the extent to which it has succeeded in improving the composition of its membership, its work generally, the registration, allocation and promotion of responsible workers; and, lastly, the extent to which the Party has succeeded in improving the internal life of its organisations.
From this follow eight points which I propose to discuss:
a) the state of the mass organisations that surround the Party and link it with the class, and the growth of communist influence in these organisations;
b) the condition of the state apparatus—the People’s Commissariats and organisations functioning on a business-accounting basis—and of the lower Soviet apparatus, and the growth of communist influence in this sphere;
c) the composition of the Party and the Lenin Enrolment;
d) the composition of leading Party bodies; Party cadres and the younger Party element;
e) the work of the Party in the sphere of agitation and propaganda, work in the countryside;
f) the work of the Party in the registration, allocation and promotion of responsible workers, both Party and non-Party;
g) inner-Party life;
I shall have to cite many figures, for without them the report will be incomplete and unsatisfactory. But I must make the reservation that I have no faith in their absolute accuracy, for our statistics are not up to the mark, since not all Soviet statisticians, unfortunately, possess elementary professional pride.
With this necessary reservation, I pass to the figures.
a) The trade unions. Last year, according to the statistical returns, the trade union membership was 4,800,000. This year it is 5,000,000. There is no doubt about the increase. Trade union membership in the industries covered by the twelve principal industrial unions is 92 per cent of all the workers employed. In the basic industries trade union membership comprises 91-92 per cent of the working class. That is the position in industry.
The picture is less favourable in agriculture, where there are some 800,000 workers, and where, if we count the agricultural workers employed outside state-owned enterprises, trade union organisation amounts to 3 per cent.
As for communist influence in the unions, we have data on the chairmen of gubernia and area trade union councils. At the time of the Twelfth Congress the proportion of underground-period Party members among them was in excess of 57 per cent; at the time of the present congress it is only 35 per cent. A decline, but there has been an increase in the percentage of trade union council chairmen who joined the Party after February 1917. The explanation is that the trade union membership has grown, there are not enough underground-period Party members and the cadres are being augmented by the younger Party element. The proportion of workers among these chairmen was 55 per cent; now it has become 61 per cent. The social composition of the leading trade union bodies has improved.
b) The co-operatives. In this field the figures are more confused than in any other and inspire no confidence. Last year the consumers’ co-operatives had about 5,000,000 members. This year the number is about 7,000,000. God grant us a new year every day, but I have no faith in these statistics because the consumers’ cooperatives have not yet completely gone over to voluntary membership, and no doubt the figures include many “dead souls.” The agricultural co-operatives had, we are told, 2,000,000 members last year (though I have figures received last year from the Selskosoyuz giving the membership as 4,000,000). This year they have 1,500,000. There can be no doubt about the decline in the agricultural co-operative membership. Party membership in the central leading bodies of the consumers’ co-operatives was 87 per cent last year, and 86 per cent now—a decline. For the gubernia and district unions of co-operatives, the figures are 68 per cent last year and 86 per cent this year—an increase of Party influence. If, however, we examine not the “leading” bodies, but the responsible workers, the actual leaders, we shall find that the proportion of Communists among all responsible workers is only 26 per cent. I believe that this figure is closer to the truth. Party membership in the leading bodies of the agricultural co-operative movement was 46 per cent last year and 55 per cent this year. But if we go into the matter a little deeper and take the responsible leaders, we shall find that only 13 per cent are Communists.
That is how some of our statisticians embellish the façade, the exterior, and conceal the seamy side.
c) The Young Communist League. Last year the League had 317,000 members and candidate members (though I have figures for last year, signed by a member of the Central Committee of the R.Y.C.L., giving the membership as 400,000); this year the number is 570,000. Although the figures are somewhat confused, the growth of the organisation is beyond doubt. Last year the percentage of workers in the R.Y.C.L. was 34, this year it is 41; the percentage of peasants was 42 last year and is 40 this year. The number of pupils in factory training schools was 50,000 last year, this year it is 47,000. The proportion of R.C.P.(B.) members in the Young Communist League was about 10 per cent last year, and is 11 per cent this year. Here, tool there has been undoubted progress.
d) Organisations of working women and peasant women. The basic organisation in this field is the delegate meeting. There is any amount of confused figures here, but a careful analysis will show that last year there were 37,000 women’s delegates in the towns, while this year there are somewhat more—46,000. In the villages there were 58,000 delegates last year, while there are 100,000 this year. I have been unable to obtain anything like accurate figures on the number of working women and peasant women these delegates represent.
In view of the special importance of drawing working women and peasant women into Soviet and Party work, it will not be superfluous to examine their percentage participation in trade union bodies, Soviets, Gubernia and Uyezd Party Committees. The proportion of women in the village Soviets last year was only about one per cent (terribly small). This year it is 2.9 per cent (also very small), but nevertheless there has been a definite increase. In the executive committees of the volost Soviets the percentage was 0.3 last year, and is 0.5 this year, a negligible increase, not worth mentioning. In the executive committees of the uyezd Soviets there were about two per cent of women last year, and a little over two per cent this year (my figures are for the R.S.F.S.R.; there are no data for all the republics). The figures for the executive committees of the gubernia Soviets in the R.S.F.S.R. are: over two per cent last year, and over three per cent this year. Women this year make up 26 per cent of the trade union membership (no figures are available for last year), 14 per cent of the membership of the factory trade union committees, six per cent in the gubernia committees of the various unions, and over four per cent in the union central committees. The proportion of women members in the Party was roughly eight per cent last year, and is about nine per cent this year. Last year the proportion of women among candidate members was about nine per cent, now it is about 11 per cent. All these figures refer to the position prior to the Lenin Enrolment. At the time of the Thirteenth Congress, women make up three per cent of the membership of the Gubernia Party Committees, and about six per cent of the Uyezd Committees. The percentage of Communists in the principal women’s organisations, the delegate meetings, has dropped from 10 to 8, the decline being due to the increase in the number of non-Party delegates. It must be admitted that half of the population of our Soviet Union—the women—still stand aside, or practically stand aside, from the highway of Soviet and Party affairs.
e) The army. The total number of Communists in the army, the military colleges and the navy has decreased from 61,000 to 52,000. This is a defect that must be eliminated. At the same time there has been an increase in the number of Party members among the commanding personnel. At the time of the Twelfth Congress 13 per cent of the commanding personnel were Communists; at the present time the figure is 18 per cent. The data on the Party standing of Communists in the army are of interest. Of the 52,000 Communists in the army, 0.9 per cent—not even one per cent—joined the Party in its underground period; a little over three per cent joined after February and up to October 1917, 11 per cent joined prior to 1919, 22 per cent in 1919, 23 per cent in 1920, and 20 per cent in 1921-23. You will see from this that our army is served mainly, if not exclusively, by the younger Party element.
f) Voluntary public initiative organisations. A noteworthy development of the past year has been the appearance of a new type of organisation—voluntary public initiative organisations—diverse cultural and educational circles and societies, sports organisations, auxiliary societies, organisations of worker and peasant correspondents, etc. The number of these bodies is constantly growing, and it should be noted that they include not only organisations sympathetic to the Soviet power, but some that are hostile to it. In the R.S.F.S.R. the number of public initiative organisations has increased from about 78-80 last year to more than 300 this year. If one takes the physical culture organisation in the R.S.F.S.R., it had 126,000 members last year and 375,000 this year. Its social composition: 35 per cent workers last year, 42 per cent now. All these organisations are centred around the trade union committees and clubs in the factories and around the peasant mutual aid committees2 in the villages. Especially noteworthy are the worker and peasant correspondents organisations the purpose of which is to act as vehicles of proletarian public opinion. The organisations of worker correspondents embrace 25,000 members, those of peasant correspondents—5,000 members. In the R.S.F.S.R. the proportion of Communists on the gubernia executives of these organisations has increased from 19 per cent last year to over 29 per cent this year. Lastly, mention should be made of a new organisation which held a demonstration yesterday before the Lenin Mausoleum3—the Young Pioneers. According to our statistics (which, as I have said, are not altogether up to the mark) it had 75,000 members last June and over 161,000 this April. Of the Young Pioneers, 71 per cent are children of workers in the industrial gubernias and seven per cent are children of peasants. In the national areas workers’ children account for 38 per cent of the membership; in the peasant gubernias—for 36 per cent.
That is how matters stand with the mass organisations that surround the Party and link it with the class. Fundamentally there has been an undoubted growth of Party influence in these organisations.
a) Number of employees. According to the statistics, the institutions of the People’s Commissariats, that is, institutions financed out of the state budget, had over 1,500,000 employees last year, and—so we are told—1,200,000 this year. The drop is 300,000. But if we take institutions functioning on a business-accounting basis, we find that their employees this year number approximately 200,000 (no figures are available for last year). In other words, what we gained by reducing the personnel in institutions financed by the state budget has been largely offset by an increase in the personnel of institutions on a business-accounting basis. This is apart from the fact that part of the employees have been transferred to the local budgets and, consequently, are not included in these figures. On balance, the number of employees has remained the same, or has even increased. Then there are the employees of the co-operatives— 103,000 last year, 125,000 this year, an in crease; trade union employees—28,000 last year, 27,000 now; and the employees in the Party apparatus— 26,000 last year, 23,000 now. All in all, this makes 1,575,000, not counting the employees of institutions financed out of the local budgets. So you see, there are no grounds so far for reporting progress in cutting down our office personnel generally, and that of the state apparatus in particular.
b) Party composition of higher executive bodies. In 1923, Communists made up 83 per cent of the members of our higher executive bodies, members of collegiums, heads of central departments and their assistants (exclusive of industry); this year the figure is 86 per cent. Some progress, undoubtedly, has been made compared with the state of affairs that prevailed two years ago. The proportion of workers in these leading bodies was 19 per cent last year, and is now 21 per cent. This is not much, but at any rate there has been an increase.
c) Party composition of industrial administrations. The following is the picture in relation to the industrial administrations—trusts, syndicates and the larger enterprises: Communists made up a little over six per cent of the entire apparatus of the various trusts in the U.S.S.R. last year, and account for a little over 10 per cent this year. The figure for the directing bodies of trusts, syndicates and the larger enterprises was a little over 47 per cent last year, and is a little over 52 per cent this year. Among the directors of the larger enterprises, last year 31 per cent were Communists, and this year 61 per cent. The figures for the entire apparatus of R.S.F.S.R. trusts are 9.5 and over 12 per cent (nearly 13 per cent) respectively, and for the leading bodies of R.S.F.S.R. trusts—37 and 49 per cent. For the apparatus of the syndicates as a whole the figures are 9 and 10 per cent, and for their executive personnel 42 and 55 per cent.
On the whole, it can be stated that in our economic organisations, if we take the executive personnel, Communists make up approximately 48-50 per cent.
d) Party composition of trade and credit organisations. A totally different picture is presented by our trade and credit organisations, which at the present juncture have acquired exceptional importance in our entire economy. Take, for example, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Trade, which is of the greatest importance for our entire development. Prior to the last reform, only four per cent of the executive personnel of its central apparatus were Communists. If one takes so vital a department of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade as Gostorg,* it is found that only 19 per cent of the responsible officials are Communists, and just what kind of Communists these are may be judged from the fact that 100 per cent of the Communists at the central Gostorg offices have been purged. (Laughter.) Another important organisation, one that plays a big part in our entire economy, is Khleboprodukt.* This is the picture we have there: not counting the central office, local representatives and their deputies, its 58 branch offices employ a total of 9,900 people, of whom 5.9 per cent are Communists and 0.7 per cent members of the R.Y.C.L., the rest are non-Party. In those parts of the organisation that are most closely in contact with the peasantry—the grain delivery centres and all manner of auxiliary centres—and among grain buyers, Communists make up only 17 per cent. The Khleboprodukt central office has 137 responsible officials, of whom 13, or 9 per cent, are members of the R.C.P.(B.). It should be noted that the Party members in Khleboprodukt are utilised in a most irrational way: only 20 per cent are doing responsible work, while the remaining 80 per cent are lower-category employees. The situation is no better in the State Bank, that key credit centre which is of such great importance for our entire economic life. You know what a powerful weapon credit can be—any section of the population can be ruined or made prosperous depending merely on how the so-called preferential credits are dispensed. Well, in the entire apparatus of the State Bank, only seven per cent are Communists, and of its executive personnel only 12 per cent. Yet the State Bank decides the destinies of a number of enterprises and of very many economic institutions.
e) Party composition of the Soviets. Figures are available for the R.S.F.S.R. The proportion of Communists in the village Soviets is now a little over seven per cent, compared with about six per cent last year. In the executive committees of the volost Soviets the proportion of Communists has increased from a little over 39 per cent to 48 per cent; in the executive committees of the uyezd Soviets—from a little over 80 per cent to a little over 87 per cent; in the town Soviets of uyezd towns the proportion has dropped from 61 per cent to 58 per cent, in the executive committees of the gubernia Soviets from 90 per cent to 89 per cent, and in the town Soviets in gubernia towns from 78 per cent to 71 per cent. In these last three cases—town Soviets in uyezd towns, executive committees of gubernia Soviets and town Soviets in gubernia towns—the influence of non-Party elements is insignificant, nevertheless it is growing. As regards the plenums of the executive committees of gubernia Soviets, we have data about 69 gubernias, with information about 2,623 members. What do they show? It appears that about 11 per cent of the membership of these plenums is non-Party. The highest non-Party percentage is in Siberia and the Far Eastern Region, where it forms 20 per cent. As for the national republics, the proportion of non-Party members on the executive committees of gubernia Soviets is seven per cent —the lowest percentage of all. And this in the national republics, where Party membership is low generally!
a) Membership. The Party had upwards of 485,000 members and candidate members at the time of the Twelfth Congress. The number at present is 472,000, without the Lenin Enrolment. Counting the Lenin Enrolment, taking the figures as on May 1 (by which date 128,000 members had been admitted), our membership totals 600,000. Considering that in about a fortnight from now the Lenin Enrolment will have reached at least 200,000, the membership of the Party can be estimated at 670,000-680,000.
b) Social composition of the Party. Last year workers accounted for 44.9 per cent of the total membership; this year, exclusive of the Lenin Enrolment, they account for 45.75 per cent—an increase of 0.8 per cent. The proportion of peasants has declined from 25.7 per cent to 24.6 per cent, or by 1.1 per cent. Office employees and other categories made up just over 29 per cent of the membership; now the percentage is somewhat in excess of 29 per cent, or has slightly increased. The social composition of the R.C.P.(B.), counting members and candidate members, and including the Lenin Enrolment as on May 1, was as follows: workers 55.4 per cent, peasants 23 per cent, office employees and others 21.6 per cent.
c) Composition as regards Party standing. Members who joined the Party prior to 1905 were 0.7 per cent last year, and 0.6 per cent this year. Members who joined in the period 1905-16 were two per cent last year and the figure is the same this year. Those who joined in 1917 accounted for slightly over nine per cent last year, and for slightly under nine per cent this year. The figure for those who joined in 1918 was 16.5 per cent, and is now 15.7 per cent; and the figures for those who joined in 1920 are 31.5 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively. Members who joined in 1921 made up 10.5 per cent last year, and 10.1 per cent this year. Members who joined in 1922 now make up 3.2 per cent; there are no figures for last year. Members who joined in 1923 make up 2.3 per cent. All these figures are exclusive of the Lenin Enrolment.
d) Composition according to nationality and sex. The Thirteenth Congress finds Great Russians forming 72 per cent of the Party membership; the proportion will evidently increase as a result of the Lenin Enrolment. Second come Ukrainians—5.88 per cent, third Jews 5.2 per cent, next come the Tyurk nationalities—upwards of four per cent, followed by other nationalities, such as Latvians, Georgians, Armenians, etc. The percentage of women members of the Party at the time of the Twelfth Congress was 7.8 and it is now 8.8. The figures for women candidate members are nine per cent and 10.5 per cent respectively. Thirteen per cent of the new members admitted in the Lenin Enrolment are women, and this should somewhat increase the percentages mentioned above.
Lastly, on December 1, 1923, 17 per cent of all Communists (members and candidate members) were workers at the bench, and with the Lenin Enrolment, taking the figure as 128,000, the proportion is 35.3 per cent.
e) Degree of Party organisation of the working class. Taking the number of workers in our Party as on May 1, plus the number we shall have admitted about two weeks hence, when the Lenin Enrolment will reach (and probably exceed) the 200,000 mark, we get a total of 410,000 workers in our Party, out of a membership of 672,000. This makes 10 per cent of the entire industrial and rural proletariat of the Union, numbering 4,100,000.
We have achieved a degree of organisation in which 10 out of every 100 workers are in the Party.
a) Composition of local bodies. I shall cite data on the composition of 45 Gubernia and Regional Party Committees. Party members from the underground period constitute over 32 per cent, the remaining 67 per cent consisting of members who joined the Party later: 23 per cent in 1917, 33 per cent in 1918-19 and nine per cent in 1920. In the leading local bodies, both Gubernia and Regional Party Committees, it is not the underground-period members who predominate, but members who joined after October. Taking the presidiums of 52 Gubernia and Regional Party Committees for which we have statistics on Party standing, we find that 49 per cent of their members joined the Party before the revolution, 19 per cent in 1917, after February, 26 per cent in 1918-19, and the remaining six per cent at later periods. Here we still have a predominance of Party members who joined after February. Among the heads of organisational departments of Gubernia and Regional Party Committees, 27.4 per cent at the time of the Twelfth Congress, and 30 per cent at the time of the Thirteenth Congress, dated their Party membership from the underground period. The corresponding figures for heads of agitation and propaganda departments are 31 and 23 per cent. A reverse tendency is to be observed in the case of secretaries of Gubernia and Regional Party Committees: of these, 62.5 per cent at the time of the Twelfth Congress, and 71 per cent at the time of the present congress, joined the Party in the underground period.
The task is clear—we must lower the requirements as to Party standing for secretaries of Gubernia Party Committees.
Composition of 67 Uyezd Committees: underground-period Party members—12 per cent, membership dating from 1917—22 per cent, membership dating from 1918-19—43 per cent. Data on secretaries of 248 Uyezd Committees at the time of the present Thirteenth Congress: underground-period members—25 per cent, membership dating from 1917, before October—27 per cent, membership dating from before 1919—37 per cent. Data on 6,541 secretaries of Party units in 28 gubernias: underground-period members—a little over three per cent, and the largest proportion, 55 per cent, consisting of members who joined the Party after October, in 1917-18.
Data on the social composition of 45 Gubernia and Regional Committees this year show that 48 per cent of their members are workers. Workers constitute 41 per cent of the presidiums of 52 Gubernia and Regional Committees. The proportion of workers among the secretaries of Gubernia and Regional Committees has risen from 44.6 per cent at the time of the Twelfth Congress to 48.6 per cent at the time of the Thirteenth Congress. Workers make up 63.4 per cent of the Uyezd Committee membership (67 uyezds), and 50 per cent of Uyezd Committee secretaries (248 uyezds).
All these statistics relate to the period preceding the last gubernia and uyezd Party conferences.
But just before the congress I received some statistics on the results of these last conferences. They cover 11 gubernias and 16 regions, and indicate that the proportion of underground-period Party members in the Gubernia and Regional Committees has dropped to 27 per cent, while the proportion of workers has risen to 53 per cent.
This clearly points to two tendencies: on the one hand, the introduction of the younger Party element into the Party cadres and an extension of the cadres, and, on the other, an improvement in the social composition of the Party organisations.
b) Composition of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission. Of the 56 members and candidate members of the Central Committee, 44.6 per cent are workers and 55.3 per cent are peasants or intellectuals. Consequently, we should broaden the Central Committee by increasing the proportion of workers in it. In the Central Control Commission, 48 per cent of the members and candidate members are workers and 52 per cent are peasants or intellectuals. The same conclusion applies here too. As regards Party standing, 96 per cent of the members and candidate members of the Central Committee joined the Party in the underground period, before February 1917. Of the 56 members and candidate members of the Central Committee, only 2, i.e., four per cent, joined the Party at later periods. We have the same picture in the Central Control Commission. Of its 60 members and candidate members, 57 joined the Party in the underground period, and 3 (i.e., five per cent) at later periods. We must, consequently, add younger people.
c) Composition of the present congress. In all, 742 delegates have been registered, of whom 63.2 per cent are workers, and 48.4 per cent underground-period members. The remainder are more or less young members.
a) Communist education. What stands out here is the large proportion of political illiteracy among Party members: in some gubernias it is as high as 70 per cent. The average for several central Russian gubernias (60,000 people were examined) is 57 per cent; last year it was about 60 per cent. This is one of the fundamental defects in our work. Evidently, the work has proceeded extensively, rather than intensively. The number of Soviet-Party schools, or rather their student body, has somewhat contracted owing to the fact that some of the schools have been transferred to the local budgets. The Communist Universities have more students than last year. We shall, however, have to reduce the number somewhat, in order, in proportion to available means, to improve their material position and shift the emphasis to more profound communist education. Special stress must be laid on the propaganda of Leninism, which is of decisive importance in our work of communist education.
b) The press. Last year we had 560 newspapers; this year the number is less—495, but the circulation has increased from 1,500,000 to 2,500,000. Noteworthy is the increase of newspapers in languages other than Russian. We even have republics without a single newspaper in Russian—for example Armenia, where all the papers without exception are published in Armenian. In Georgia, 91 per cent of the newspapers are published in Georgian. In Byelorussia, 88 per cent are published in languages other than Russian. This increase in the number of newspapers in the national languages is to be observed literally in every national region and republic. Attention should be drawn to the composition of the editorial staffs of our periodical publications. A survey of 287 press organs reveals that only 10 per cent of their editors are underground-period Party members The greatest proportion of the editors joined the Party in 1918-19. This is a defect which must be remedied by assigning older and more experienced newspapermen to help the younger ones.
c) Work among the peasants. There are a number of defects in this sphere. The village and volost Soviets are so far only tax-collecting bodies and the peasant regards them primarily as such. Officials well acquainted with the countryside give the following general opinion of the activities of our rural bodies: our policy is correct, but it is being incorrectly carried out in the localities. The composition of village and volost Soviet bodies leaves very much to be desired. The fact that our Party units in the countryside consist too much of administrative officials adversely affects their work. Still more detrimental is the ignorance of Soviet laws displayed by officials closely associated with village affairs and their inability to explain these laws to the peasant poor, their inability to defend the interests of the poor and middle peasants against kulak domination on the basis of Soviet laws and the privileges these laws extend to the poor peasants. Then there is the general mistake: the attempt to approach the peasant merely with verbal agitation, failing to understand that the peasant requires not verbal, but concrete agitation, agitation that shows tangible results. Recruiting into the co-operatives, utilisation of the privileges extended to the poor peasants, agricultural credits, mutual aid organised by the peasant committees—these, primarily, are the issues that can interest the peasant.
a) Registration and allocation. The number of responsible workers on our register last year was about 5,000; this year we have on the register about 15,000 responsible workers of all categories. There can be no doubt that our work of registration is improving. The figures show that last year we allocated 10,000 Party workers of all kinds, among them over 4,000 responsible Party workers. This year 6,000 were allocated including 4,000 responsible workers. The main work of the Party in the allocation of forces centred, firstly, on providing officials for the Party; secondly, for the various bodies of the Supreme Council of National Economy; and, lastly, for the People’s Commissariat of Finance—chiefly its tax-collecting apparatus. Allocation of Communists to all other sectors was on a lesser scale. That is a big mistake in our work. At a time when the centre of economic life has shifted to trade we have displayed insufficient initiative and vigour in providing our trade and credit organisations and their branches in the U.S.S.R. and abroad with a maximum number of active workers. I refer in particular to such bodies as the Gostorg and Khleboprodukt.
I shall not enumerate the questions examined by the Central Committee and its bodies, nor the nature of these questions. This is not of decisive importance, and moreover it has been dealt with in the written report circulated to you. I would only like to draw your attention to the following:
Firstly, the internal life of our organisations has, undoubtedly, improved. The impression one gets is that the organisations have settled down, there is little squabbling, and business-like work is going on. Some exceptions will be found in the border regions, where, side by side with the older Party workers who are not too well versed in communism, cadres of young Marxists are coming to the fore, those trained in the Sverdlov University and other educational institutions, well versed in Party work, but terribly weak as regards Soviet work. It will take some time before these conflicts between the younger and older workers in the border regions are eliminated. In this respect the border regions are an exception. As for the majority of the central Russian gubernias, it can be taken that the Party organisations there have settled down, and business-like work has made good headway. In Georgia, the Republic where there was more squabbling than anywhere else, and which was the subject of so much talk at the last congress, Party life has now been brought into pacific channels. The better elements among the former deviators, such as Philip Makharadze and Okudzhava, have definitely broken with the extreme deviators and have announced their readiness to carry on work in harmony.
Secondly, in the Gubernia Committees, and especially in the Central Committee of the Party, in the past year the main emphasis in the work has been shifted from the bureaus or presidiums to the plenums. Formerly Central Committee plenums would entrust the decision of cardinal questions to the Political Bureau. This is no longer the case. Now, cardinal questions of our policy and economy are decided by the plenums. Look through the agendas of our plenums and the stenographic reports, which are circulated to all the Gubernia Committees, and you will appreciate that the centre of activities has shifted from the Political and Organising Bureaus to the plenum. This is very important, for our plenums bring together 100-120 people (members and candidate members of the Central Committee and of the Central Control Commission), and since the centre of activity has shifted to the plenum, the latter has become a highly valuable school for training leaders of the working class, political leaders of the working class. New people, tomorrow’s leaders of the working class, are growing up and coming to full stature before our very eyes, and in this lies the inestimable value of our extended plenary sessions.
It is noteworthy that the same tendency is to be observed in the localities. Decision of major problems is passing from the bureaus of the Gubernia Committees to the plenums. The plenums are being enlarged; they hold longer sessions, to which all the best forces in the gubernia are invited, and in this way the plenums are becoming schools for training local and regional leaders. This tendency in the localities, in the gubernias and uyezds, must be made the regular practice.
Thirdly, inner-Party life has in this past year been exceedingly intense, full-blooded, one might say. We Bolsheviks are accustomed to coping with big tasks, and often we fail to notice the greatness of the tasks we perform. Such facts as the discussion and the Lenin Enrollment—and this requires no proof—are developments of the greatest moment for the country and the Party, and, obviously, they could not but animate inner-Party life.
What is the significance of these two facts? They show that our Party, which has gone through a discussion, is as firm as a rock. They show that our Party, which, by the will and with the approval of the entire working class, has admitted 200,000 new members, is essentially an elected Party, the elected organ of the working class.
1. Of the mass organisations surrounding our Party, special attention should be paid to the co-operatives and the organisations of working women and peasant women. I have singled out these organisations because at the present juncture they are the weakest points.
a) It is beyond doubt that the apparatus of the consumers’ co-operatives, whose function it is to link state industry with the peasant economy, has not been on a level with the tasks confronting it. This is borne out by the irrefutable fact that the peasant sector in the consumers’ co-operatives accounts for only one-third of the total membership. We must bring about a situation in which the peasants will have their due place in the consumers’ co-operatives. Communists must shift the centre of their activities from the gubernias to the uyezds and districts in order to build up contact with the mass of the peasants and in this way convert the consumers’ co-operatives into a connecting link between industry and the peasant economy.
b) Matters are no better in regard to the agricultural co-operatives. Confused figures and a drop in membership during the past year are facts that call for serious consideration. Here too, as in the consumers’ co-operatives, Communists must shift the centre of their activities to the uyezds and districts, closer to the peasant masses; they must make it their aim to ensure that the local offices of the Selskosoyuz are not used as a shield for kulak domination. But that is not enough. We must reinforce the leading bodies of the Selskosoyuz with communist forces, for of late its work has begun seriously to deteriorate.
c) The position is worse with regard to work among women. True, the delegate meetings of working women and peasant women are growing in number and scope, but what our forces active in this field have accomplished by way of agitation is far from having been consolidated organisationally. In this respect we have not achieved even a hundredth part of the necessary minimum. This is irrefutably borne out by the percentage of working women and peasant women participating in the Soviets, the trade unions and the Party. The Party must take every measure to make good this deficiency in the very near future. We cannot tolerate a situation when half of the population of the Soviet Union continues to stand aside from the highway of Soviet and Party development.
d) The voluntary public initiative organisations merit special attention, particularly the organisations of worker and peasant correspondents. These have a great future. Given the proper conditions for development, they can become a highly important and powerful medium for expressing and carrying out the will of proletarian public opinion. You are aware of the power of proletarian public opinion in exposing and rectifying shortcomings in our Soviet public life. It is much more effective than administrative pressure. That is why the Party must render these organisations every assistance.
2. Special attention should be paid to the state apparatus. That the position in this sphere is unsatisfactory is hardly open to challenge.
a) Lenin’s behests to reduce and simplify the state apparatus have been fulfilled only in part, to a very minute degree. The reduction of the apparatus of the People’s Commissariats by 200,000 or 300,000 employees, while at the same time a new apparatus—the trusts, syndicates, etc.—has grown up alongside them, cannot properly be regarded as either a reduction or a simplification of the apparatus. The Party must take every measure to ensure that Lenin’s behests in this sphere are carried out with an iron hand.
b) I have given you figures showing that the proportion of non-Party people participating in our Soviets is extremely low. Comrades, this must not continue; we cannot go on building the new state in this way. Serious constructive work is impossible without devoting special attention to drawing non-Party people into Soviet activities in the gubernias and uyezds. Various methods might be suggested. One expedient method might be the following: the organisation, under the different departments of the gubernia and uyezd Soviets, of groups, or better still, of regularly convened conferences on concrete questions for non-Party people—workers in the towns and peasants in the uyezds—in order to draw non-Party elements into active participation in the various branches of administration and subsequently to select the best of these non-Party workers and peasants, the more capable, and appoint them to government posts. Without this extension of the base of our town and uyezd Soviets, without extending the base of Soviet work and drawing non-Party people into it, the Soviets stand in danger of a grave setback in weight and influence.
c) There is an opinion current in our Party that genuine Party work is confined to activities in the Gubernia, Regional and Uyezd Party Committees and in the Party units. As for any other form of work, it is alleged that it is not genuine Party work. People working in the trusts and syndicates are often ridiculed: “They have lost contact with the Party,” it is said. (Voice: “They are purged.”) Some comrades, in both economic bodies and Party organisations, should be purged. However, I am dealing not with the exception, but with the typical case. It is customary among us to divide Party work into two categories: a higher category comprising genuine Party work in the Gubernia and Regional Committees, in the Party units, in the Central Committee; and a lower category referred to as Party work only in quotation marks, which embraces work in all Soviet bodies, and above all in trading bodies. Comrades, such an attitude to business executives is profoundly contrary to Leninism. Every such business executive working even in the most wretched of shops, in the most wretched of trading establishments, if he advances and improves its work, is a genuine Party worker and deserves every support from the Party. We shall not be able to take a single step forward in our constructive work if this aristocratic, intelligentsia approach to trade persists. I gave a lecture at the Sverdlov University recently, and in the course of it I said that we might, perhaps, have to transfer some 10,000 Communists from Party work or industry to trade. They laughed. They don’t want to trade! Yet it should be perfectly clear that all our discussions on socialist construction may degenerate into so much empty talk unless we eradicate from the Party these aristocratic-intelligentsia prejudices about trade and unless we, Communists, master all aspects of trade.
d) Comrades, no constructive work, no state activity, no planning is conceivable without proper accounting. And accounting is inconceivable without statistics. Without statistics, accounting cannot advance one inch. Rykov recently told a conference that during the War Communism period he had a statistician working in the Supreme Council of National Economy who would submit one set of figures on a given subject one day, and a different set the next day. Unfortunately, we still have statisticians of that type. The nature of statistics is such that separate components make up a continuous chain and if one of its links is defective, the entire work may be spoiled. In bourgeois countries the statistician possesses a certain minimum of professional pride. He will not lie. Whatever his political beliefs and leanings, when it comes to facts and figures he is prepared to lay down his life rather than submit untrue data. We could do with more of such bourgeois statisticians, people with self-respect and possessing a certain minimum of professional pride! Unless we have this approach to our statistical work, our constructive work will not advance one inch.
The same must be said of bookkeeping. No branch of economic activity can make headway without proper bookkeeping. But unfortunately our accountants do not always possess the elementary merits of the ordinary honest, bourgeois accountant. I have a high regard for some of our accountants; among them are honest and devoted workers. But the fact remains that we have also worthless accountants capable of concocting any sort of statement and who are more dangerous than counter-revolutionaries. Without overcoming these defects, without eliminating them, we cannot advance either the country’s economy or its trade.
e) The percentage of workers and of Communists in the directing bodies of some state institutions is still at a minimum level and inadequate. This defect is very evident in the case of our directing bodies and of the foreign representations of our trading organisations (foreign trade, home trade, syndicates) and credit institutions, which at the present time are of decisive importance for the life and development of our economy, and, above all, of our state industry. The Party must take every measure to fill this gap. Otherwise there can be no question of implementing the Party’s economic and political directives.
f) Up till now a key problem in economic development has been to organise the trusts and give them proper shape. Now that the focus has shifted to trade, questions arise concerning the organisation of mixed and joint-stock companies4 for home and foreign trade. Practice shows that, while we have coped with the problem of the trusts, our organisations are sadly lacking when it comes to solving the problems connected with mixed and joint-stock companies. There is a tendency to organise trade enterprises of a type that would reduce the effectiveness of state control in this important sphere to a minimum. There can be no doubt that the Party will vigorously combat such tendencies.
3. We must continue to improve the composition of the Party generally, and of its leading bodies in particular. Under no circumstances should the Party cadres be regarded as a sort of closed corporation. They should be widened step by step by drawing in the younger Party element, which must serve to replenish the cadres. Otherwise, there is no point in having Party cadres.
4. As regards agitation activities:
a) The position with regard to political literacy among Party members is bad (60 per cent politically illiterate). The Lenin Enrolment will increase the proportion. Systematic work is required to eliminate this drawback, and the task is to go ahead with such work.
b) The position with regard to the cinema is bad. The cinema is a most valuable means of mass agitation. The task is to take this matter in hand.
c) The press is making progress, but not enough. The task is to raise the circulation of Krestyanskaya Gazeta5 to one million, of Pravda to 600,000, and to start a popular paper for the Lenin Enrolment, building up its circulation to at least half a million.
d) Publication of wall newspapers is making progress, but not enough. The task is to support the wallnewspaper correspondents and to go ahead with the work.
e) Work in the countryside is in a bad state. Agitation in the countryside must be chiefly concrete. It should consist in rendering all possible assistance to the poor and middle peasant elements, including preferential credits; development of rudimentary collective farming (not communes) along the lines of the Committees of Peasant Poor6 in the Ukraine, where there are some 5,000 collective farms; in recruiting the peasantry into the co-operatives, primarily the agricultural co-operatives. Gaining a dominant influence in the peasant committees must be considered a task of special importance. Nor should we overlook the territorial formations,7 which offer very important opportunities for agitation in the countryside.
5. As regards registration, allocation and promotion of Party and non-Party forces:
a) Proper registration has been more or less achieved.
b) Things are somewhat worse with regard to allocation of cadres, for the principal tasks involved in regrouping our forces in the new situation of internal development—tasks outlined by Lenin at the Eleventh Congress8—have not yet been fulfilled. The immediate task of bringing a maximum number of our best forces into the various trading organisations still awaits solution.
Properly speaking, in the past year the Registration and Allocation Department served organisations of the Supreme Council of National Economy and the People’s Commissariat of Finance, especially its tax-collecting apparatus, and supplied workers mainly to these organisations. The task now is to turn our attention to the trade and credit organisations and give them priority over other institutions in the allocation of forces. Some 5,000 Communists may be required here. Simultaneously, the task is to supplement the existing method of allocating forces with new methods: voluntary enlistment, enrolment of volunteers to organise the work in especially important sectors of Soviet affairs. This method is directly related to the question of organising exemplary work in certain districts, a thing that cannot be dispensed with at the present stage. Lenin’s idea concerning exemplary work, outlined by him in The Tax in Kind,9 a must be put into effect.
c) Special attention must be devoted to the promotion of new forces, Party and non-Party. The method of advancing new people only by appointment from above is not sufficient. It must be supplemented by methods of promoting people from below, in the course of practical work, in the course of drawing new forces into our practical activities. In this respect, the production conferences in the factories and trusts should play a big part in advancing factory workers to responsible posts in industrial plants and trusts. We must develop the working groups attached to the various departments of the Soviets in the gubernia and uyezd towns, converting them into periodical conferences that discuss concrete questions and drawing into the work of these conferences both members and, especially, nonmembers of the Soviets—workers and peasants, both men and women. Only in the course of these broad practical activities will we be able to promote new forces from among the non-Party workers and peasants. The great wave of the Lenin Enrolment in the cities and the enhanced political activity of the peasantry show beyond all doubt that this method of promoting new forces is bound to have great results.
6. Two conclusions regarding inner-Party life:
a) The so-called “principle” of broadening the Party Central Committee has proved correct. Experience has shown the immense value of broadening the Central Committee, it has shown that the comrades who upheld the “principle” of narrowing down the Central Committee were taking a wrong course.
b) It is now clear to all that the opposition was entirely wrong in asserting, during the discussion, that the Party was in a state of disintegration. You are not likely to find in our Party a single organisation of any importance which, observing the development of inner-Party life and the Party’s powerful growth, would not say that the people who only recently were croaking that our Party was heading for ruin, did not, in actual fact, know the Party, were far removed from it, and were very reminiscent of people who ought rightly to be described as aliens in the Party.
To sum up: our Party is growing; it is forging ahead; it is learning efficient administration; it is becoming the most influential organ of the working class. The Lenin Enrolment is a direct indication of this. (Prolonged applause.)
Comrades, I found no objections in any of the speeches to the Central Committee’s organisational report. I take this to mean that the congress agrees with the conclusions of that report. (Applause.)
In my report, I deliberately refrained from discussing our inner-Party disagreements. I did not touch on them because I did not wish to re-open wounds which, so it seemed, had healed. But since Trotsky and Preobrazhensky have touched on these questions, making a number of inaccurate statements and throwing down a challenge—it would not be right to be silent. In this situation silence would not be understood.
Comrade Krupskaya has objected here to repetition of the debate on our disagreements. I am absolutely opposed to such repetition and that is precisely why I did not touch on the disagreements in my report. But since the comrades of the opposition have brought up the subject and have thrown down a challenge, we have no right to be silent.
In speaking of our disagreements, both Trotsky and Preobrazhensky try to focus the attention of the congress on one resolution, that of December 5. They forget that there is another resolution as well, on the results of the discussion.10 They forget that there has been a Party conference and that the Central Committee’s December 5 resolution was followed by a new wave of discussion, the results of which were appraised in a special resolution of the Thirteenth Conference. They forget that hushing up the Thirteenth Conference cannot but have its repercussions for the opposition.
I draw the attention of the congress to the fact that the conference adopted one resolution on economic policy and two on Party affairs. Why? There was one resolution, endorsed by the entire Party and adopted by the Central Committee on December 5, and then it was found necessary to adopt a second resolution on the same question, on the petty-bourgeois deviation. Why this affliction? What is the explanation? The explanation is that the whole discussion went through two periods. The first concluded with the unanimously adopted resolution of December 5, and the second with the resolution on the petty-bourgeois deviation. At that time, i.e., in the first period, we believed that the December 5 resolution would probably put an end to the controversy in the Party, and that was why last time, in my report at the Thirteenth Conference, when dealing with this period, I said that, if the opposition had so wished, the December 5 resolution could have terminated the struggle within the Party. That was what I said, and that was what we all believed. But the point is that the discussion was not brought to a close with that period. After the December 5 resolution Trotsky’s letters appeared— a new platform which raised new issues; and this ushered in a fresh wave of discussion, more violent than the preceding one. It was this that destroyed the opportunity of establishing peace in the Party. This was the second period, which the oppositionists now try to hush up and by-pass.
The point is that there is a vast difference between the discussion in the second period and that in the first, where the discussion found its reflection in the December 5 resolution. That resolution did not raise the question of a degeneration of the cadres. Trotsky, with whom we jointly framed that resolution, did not so much as hint at a degeneration of the cadres. Evidently, he was saving this additional issue for his later pronouncements. Further, the December 5 resolution does not raise the question of the student youth being the truest barometer. This question, too, Trotsky was apparently keeping in reserve for fresh discussion pronouncements. In the December 5 resolution there is nothing of the tendency to attack the apparatus, nor of the demands for punitive measures against the Party apparatus, about which Trotsky spoke at such length in his subsequent letters. Lastly, in the December 5 resolution there is not even a hint about groups being necessary, although this question, the question of groups, is one on which Trotsky spoke at great length in his subsequent letters.
There you have the immense difference between the stand taken by the opposition prior to December 5 and the stand its leaders took after December 5.
Now Trotsky and Preobrazhensky try to hush up and hide their second platform, the one that figured in the second period of the discussion, in the belief, evidently, that they can outwit the Party. No, you will not succeed! You cannot deceive the congress with your none-too-clever stratagems and diplomacy. I do not doubt that the congress will state its opinion both on the first stage of the discussion, summed up in the December 5 resolution, and on the second stage, summed up in the conference resolution on the petty-bourgeois deviation.
These two resolutions are two parts of a single whole—the discussion. And whoever thinks he can deceive the congress by confusing these two parts is mistaken. The Party has matured; its political understanding is at a higher level, and it is not to be tricked by diplomacy. This the opposition fails to understand, and that is the sum and substance of its mistake.
Let us examine who has proved right on the issues raised in the opposition platform after December 5. Who has proved right on the four new issues brought up in Trotsky’s letters?
First issue: degeneration of the cadres. We have all demanded and continue to demand that facts be adduced to prove that the cadres are degenerating. But no facts have been produced, nor could they be, because no such facts exist. And when we looked into the matter properly we all found that there was no degeneration, but that there was undoubtedly a deviation towards petty-bourgeois policy on the part of certain opposition leaders. Who, then, has proved to be right? Not the opposition, it would seem.
Second issue—the student youth which, supposedly, is the truest barometer. Who has proved right on this point? Again, it would seem, not the opposition. If we look at the growth of our Party in this period, at the admission of 200,000 new members, it follows that the barometer must be sought not among the student youth, but in the ranks of the proletariat, and that the Party must orientate itself not on the student youth, but on the proletarian core of the Party. Two hundred thousand new members—that is the barometer. Here, too, the opposition has proved wrong.
Third issue—punitive measures against the apparatus, attack on the Party apparatus. Who has proved right? Again, not the opposition. I t furled its flag of attack on the apparatus and passed to the defensive. All of you here have seen how it tried to wriggle out, how it beat a disorderly retreat in the fight against the Party apparatus.
Fourth issue—factions and groups. Trotsky has announced that he is resolutely opposed to groups. That is all well and good. But if we must go into the history of the issue, then allow me to re-establish certain facts. In December a sub-commission of the Party Central Committee framed the resolution published on December 5. This sub-commission consisted of three members: Trotsky, Kamenev, Stalin. Have you noticed that there is no mention of groups in the December 5 resolution? It deals with the prohibition of factions but says nothing about prohibiting groups. There is only a reference to the well-known Tenth Congress resolution on Party unity. How is this to be explained? Was it an accident? No, it was not. Kamenev and I firmly insisted on the prohibition of groups. Trotsky protested against their prohibition, and his protest was tantamount to an ultimatum, for he declared that in such a case he could not vote for the resolution. And so we confined ourselves to a reference to the Tenth Congress resolution, which Trotsky, apparently, had not read at the time, and which provides not only for the prohibition of factions, but for the prohibition of groups as well. (Laughter, applause.) At that time Trotsky was in favour of freedom of groups. At this congress he has praised the December 5 resolution. But in his letter to the R.C.P.(B.) Central Committee of December 9, that is four days after the adoption of the resolution on Party affairs, Trotsky wrote: “I am especially alarmed by the purely formal ttitude of the Political Bureau members on the question of groups and factional formations.” What do you think of that? Here is a man who extols the resolution but who, it turns out, is especially alarmed in his soul by the Political Bureau’s attitude on the question of groups and factions. This does not seem to indicate that he was then in favour of prohibiting groups. No, Trotsky at that time was in favour of the formation and freedom of groups.
Further, who does not remember the resolution Preobrazhensky submitted in Moscow, demanding that the question of factions, which had been decided by the Tenth Party Congress, be given a more precise formulation in the sense of removing some of the restrictions? Here in Moscow, everyone remembers this. And is there anyone of you who does not remember the newspaper articles in which Preobrazhensky demanded that we revive the order of things which existed in the Party at the time of the Brest Peace? Yet we know that in the Brest period the Party was compelled to permit the existence of factions—as we all know very well. And who does not remember that at the Thirteenth Conference, when I proposed the simplest thing—to remind the Party membership of point seven of the resolution on unity, on the prohibition of groups—who does not remember how all the oppositionists raged, insisting that this point should not be introduced? Consequently, on this issue the opposition’s attitude has been wholly and entirely one of freedom for groups. It thought that it could lull the vigilance of the Party by declaring that it was demanding freedom not for factions, but for groups. If today we are told that the opposition is against groups, that is all well and good. But this certainly cannot be called an offensive on their part: it is a disorderly retreat, it is a sign that the Central Committee was right on this issue too.
After this review of the facts, permit me, comrades, to say a few words on certain fundamental mistakes made by Trotsky and Preobrazhensky in their utterances on questions of Party organisation.
Trotsky has said that the essence of democracy can be reduced to the question of generations. That is wrong, wrong in principle. The essence of democracy can by no means be reduced to that. The question of generations is a secondary one. The life of our Party, and figures relating to it, show that the younger generation of the Party is being drawn step by step into the cadres—the cadres are being extended from the ranks of the youth. That always has been, and will continue to be, the Party’s line. Only those who regard our cadres as a closed entity, as a privileged caste which does not admit new members to its ranks; only those who regard our cadres as a sort of officer corps of the old regime which looks down on all other Party members as “beneath its dignity,” only those who want to drive a wedge between the cadres and the younger Party members—only they can make the question of generations in the Party the pivotal question of democracy. The essence of democracy lies not in the question of generations, but in the question of independent activity, of members of the Party taking an active part in its leadership. It is in this way, and in this way alone, that the question of democracy can be presented if, of course, we are discussing not a party with formal democracy, but a genuinely proletarian party linked by indissoluble bonds with the mass of the working class.
The second question. The greatest danger, Trotsky says, is bureaucratisation of the Party apparatus. This too is wrong. The danger resides not in this, but in the possibility of the Party’s actual isolation from the non-Party masses. You can have a party with a democratically constructed apparatus, but if the Party is not linked with the working class this democracy will be worthless, it won’t be worth a brass farthing. The Party exists for the class. So long as it is linked with the class, maintains contact with it, enjoys prestige and respect among the non-Party masses, it can exist and develop even if it has bureaucratic shortcomings. But in the absence of all this the Party is doomed, no matter what kind of Party organisation you build—bureaucratic or democratic. The Party is part of the class; it exists for the class, not for itself.
The third contention, also erroneous in principle: the Party, Trotsky says, makes no mistakes. That is wrong. The Party not infrequently makes mistakes. Ilyich taught us to teach the Party, on the basis of its own mistakes, how to exercise correct leadership. If the Party made no mistakes there would be nothing from which to teach it. It is our task to detect these mistakes, to lay bare their roots and to show the Party and the working class how we came to make them and how we should avoid repeating them in future. The development of the Party would be impossible without this. The development of Party leaders and cadres would be impossible without this, for they are developed and trained in the struggle to combat and overcome their mistakes. It seems to me that this statement of Trotsky’s is a kind of compliment, accompanied by an attempt—an unsuccessful one it is true—to jeer at the Party.
Next—about Preobrazhensky. He spoke of the purge. Preobrazhensky feels that the purge is a weapon used by the Party majority against the opposition. Evidently he does not approve of the methods employed in the purge. This is a question of principle. Preobrazhensky’s profound mistake is his failure to understand that the Party cannot strengthen its ranks without eriodical purges of unstable elements. Comrade Lenin taught us that the Party can strengthen itself only if it steadily rids itself of the unstable elements which penetrate, and will continue to penetrate, its ranks. We would be going against Leninism if we were to repudiate Party purges in general. As for the present purge, what is wrong with it? It is said that individual mistakes have been made. Certainly they have. But has there ever been a big undertaking that was free from individual mistakes? Never. Individual mistakes may and will occur; but in the main the purge is correct. I have been told with what fear and trepidation some non-proletarian elements among the intellectuals and office employees awaited the purge. Here is a scene that was described to me: a group of people are sitting in an office, waiting to be called before the purging commission. It is a Party unit in a Soviet institution. In another room is the purging commission. One of the members of the Party unit comes rushing out of the commission room, perspiring. He is asked what happened, but all he can say is: “Let me get my breath, let me get my breath. I’m all in.” (Laughter.) The purge may be bad for the kind of people who suffer and perspire like that; but for the Party it is a very good thing. (Applause.) We still have, unfortunately, a certain number of Party members receiving 1,000 or 2,000 rubles a month, who are considered to be Party members but who forget that the Party exists. I know of a Party unit at one of the Commissariats, in which men of this type work. The members of this unit include several chauffeurs, and the unit selected one of them to sit on the purging commission. This evoked no little grumbling, such as saying that a chauffeur should not be allowed to purge Soviet big-wigs. There have been cases like that here in Moscow. Party members who have evidently lost contact with the Party are indignant, they cannot stomach the fact that “some chauffeur” will put them through the purge. Such Party members must be educated and re-educated, sometimes by expulsion from the Party. The chief thing about the purge is that it makes people of this kind feel that there exists a master, that there is the Party, which can call them to account for all sins committed against it. It seems to me absolutely necessary that this master go through the Party ranks with a broom every now and again. (Applause.)
Preobrazhensky says: Your policy is correct, but your organisational line is wrong, and therein lies the basis of the possible ruin of the Party. That is nonsense, comrades. That a party with a correct policy should perish because of shortcomings in its organisational line is something that does not happen. It never works out that way. The foundation of Party life and Party work resides not in the organisational forms it adopts or may adopt at any given moment, but in its policy, in its home and foreign policy. If the Party’s policy is correct, if it has a correct approach to the political and economic issues that are of decisive significance for the working class—then organisational defects cannot be of decisive significance; its policy will pull it through. That has always been the case, and will continue to be so in the future. People who fail to understand this are bad Marxists; they forget the very rudiments of Marxism.
Was the Party right on the issues involved in the discussion—on the economic questions and on the questions of Party affairs? Anyone who wants to obtain an immediate, concise answer to that should turn to the Party and the mass of the workers and put the question: how does the mass of non-Party workers regard the Party? Is it sympathetic or unsympathetic? If the members of the opposition were to put the question that way, if they were to ask themselves: how does the working class regard the Party—is it sympathetic or unsympathetic?— they would realise that the Party is on the correct path. The Lenin Enrolment is the key to an understanding of everything involved in the results of the discussion. If the working class sends 200,000 of its members into the Party, selecting the most upright and staunch, this signifies that such a party is invincible because it has, in fact, become the elected organ of the working class, one that enjoys the undivided confidence of the working class. Such a party will live and strike fear into its enemies; such a party cannot disintegrate. The trouble with our opposition is that it did not approach Party problems and the results of the discussion from the standpoint of the Marxist, who appraises the weight of the Party in the light of its influence among the masses—for the Party exists for the masses, and not vice versa—but approached them from the formal standpoint, from the standpoint of “pure” apparatus. To find a simple and direct clue to understanding the results of the discussion one must turn not to this babbling about the apparatus, but to the 200,000 who have joined the Party and who have demonstrated its profound democracy. References to democracy in the speeches of the oppositionists are just empty talk. But when the working class sends 200,000 new members into the Party, that is real democracy. Our Party has become the elected organ of the working class. Point me out another such party. You cannot point one out because so far there does not exist one. But, strange as it may seem, even such a powerful party as ours is not to the liking of the oppositionists. Where on this earth will they find a better one? I am afraid they will have to migrate to Mars in their search for a better party. (Applause.)
The last question—that of the opposition’s petty-bourgeois deviation; the assertion that the charge of a petty-bourgeois deviation is unjust. Is that true? No, it is not. How did the charge arise, what is the foundation for it? It is founded on the fact that in their unbridled agitation for democracy in the Party the oppositionists have unwittingly, without so desiring, served as a sort of mouthpiece for that new bourgeoisie which does not care a hang about democracy in our Party, but which would like, and very much like, to obtain democracy for itself in the country. The section of the Party which has raised such a clamour over questions of democracy has unwittingly served as a mouthpiece and vehicle for the agitation in the country that emanates from the new bourgeoisie and aims at weakening the dictatorship, at “broadening” the Soviet constitution and at reestablishing political rights for the exploiters. That is the mainspring and secret why members of the opposition, who undoubtedly love the Party and so on and so forth, have without themselves noticing it become a mouthpiece for elements outside the Party, elements which seek to weaken and disintegrate the dictatorship.
No wonder the sympathies of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries are with the opposition. Is that accidental? No, it is not. The alignment of forces internationally is such that every attempt to weaken the authority of our Party and the stability of the dictatorship in our country will inevitably be seized upon by the enemies of the revolution as a definite gain for them, irrespective of whether such attempts are made by our opposition or by the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks. Whoever fails to understand this, fails to grasp the logic of factional struggle within our Party, fails to realise that the outcome of this struggle depends not on personalities and desires, but on the results produced in the sum total of the struggle between the Soviet and anti-Soviet elements. That is the basis of the fact that in the opposition we are dealing with a petty-bourgeois deviation.
Lenin once said about Party discipline and the unity of our ranks: “Whoever weakens in the least the iron discipline of the Party of the proletariat (especially during the time of its dictatorship), actually aids the bourgeoisie against the proletariat” (see Vol. XXV, p. 190). Is there any need to prove, after this, that the comrades of the opposition, by their attacks on the Moscow organisation and the Party’s Central Committee, have been weakening Party discipline and undermining the foundations of the dictatorship, for the Party is the basic core of the dictatorship?
That is why I think that the Thirteenth Conference was right in declaring that we are dealing here with a deviation towards petty-bourgeois policy. This is not as yet a petty-bourgeois policy. By no means! At the Tenth Congress, Lenin explained that a deviation is something as yet unconsummated, something that has not assumed definite shape. And if you, comrades of the opposition, do not persist in this petty-bourgeois deviation, in these small mistakes—everything will be rectified and the Party’s activities will go forward. But if you do persist, the petty-bourgeois deviation may develop into a petty-bourgeois policy. Consequently, it all depends on you, comrades of the opposition.
What are the conclusions? The conclusions are that we must continue to conduct inner-Party work on the basis of the complete unity of the Party. Look at this congress, at its solid support of the Central Committee line—there you have Party unity. The opposition represents an insignificant minority in our Party. That our Party is united, that it will continue to be united, is demonstrated by the present congress, by its unanimity and solidity. Whether we will have unity with that insignificant group in the Party known as the opposition, depends on them. We want to work in harmony with the opposition. Last year, at the height of the discussion, we said that joint work with the opposition was necessary. We re-affirm this here today. But whether this unity will be achieved, I do not know, for in future unity will depend entirely on the opposition. In the present instance unity comes as the result of the interaction of two factors, the Party majority and minority. The majority wants united activity. Whether the minority sincerely wants it, I do not know. That depends entirely on the comrades of the opposition.
Conclusion. The conclusion is that we must endorse the Thirteenth Conference resolutions and approve the activity of the Central Committee. I do not doubt that the congress will endorse these resolutions and approve the political and organisational activity of the Central Committee. (Prolonged applause.)
1. The Thirteenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)—the first congress of the Bolshevik Party held after the death of V. I. Lenin— took place on May 23-31, 1924. The congress proceedings were directed by J. V. Stalin. There were present 748 delegates with right of voice and vote, representing 735,881 Party members. Of these, 241,591 had joined during the Lenin Enrolment and 127,741 were candidate members who had joined before the Lenin Enrolment. There were also present 416 delegates with right of voice only. The congress discussed the political and organisational reports of the Central Committee, the reports of the Central Auditing Commission and of the Central Control Commission, the report of the R.C.P.(B.) representatives on the Executive Committee of the Comintern, questions of Party organisation, internal trade and the co-operatives, work in the countryside, work among the youth, and other questions.
The congress unanimously condemned the platform of the Trotskyite opposition, defining it as a petty-bourgeois deviation from Marxism, as a revision of Leninism, and it endorsed the resolutions on “Party Affairs” and “Results of the Discussion and the Petty-Bourgeois Deviation in the Party” adopted by the Thirteenth Party Conference.
The congress pointed to the enormous importance of the Lenin Enrolment and drew the Party’s attention to the necessity of intensifying the education of new members of the Party in the principles of Leninism. The congress instructed the Lenin Institute to prepare a thoroughly scientific and most carefully compiled edition of the complete Works of V. I. Lenin, and also selections of his works for the broad masses of the workers in the languages of all the nationalities in the U.S.S.R.
2. Peasant mutual aid committees (peasant committees) were set up under village Soviets and executive committees of volost Soviets in conformity with the decree of the Council of People’s Commissars on May 14, 1921, signed by V. I. Lenin. They existed until 1933. They were set up for the purpose of improving the organisation of public aid for peasants and families of men in the Red Army, with the aim of stimulating the independent activity and initiative of the broad masses of the peasants. The regulations governing the peasant mutual aid committees, endorsed by the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and by the Council of People’s Commissars of the R.S.F.S.R. in September 1924, also charged the peasant committees with the task of promoting and strengthening various forms of cooperation among the rural population and of drawing the masses of the poor and middle peasants into these co-operative organisations.
3. On May 23, 1924, a parade of Young Pioneers was held in the Red Square in Moscow in honour of the Thirteenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) and of the adoption by the Young Pioneer organisation of the new name: “V. I. Lenin Children’s Communist Organisation.” About 10,000 Young Pioneers took part in the parade, at which the salute was taken by the Presidium of the Thirteenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.).
* The state import and export organisation.—Tr.
* The grain trading organisation.—Tr.
4. Joint-stock companies (state, mixed and co-operative) were formed in the U.S.S.R. by the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade, the People’s Commissariat of Internal Trade and the People’s Commissariat of Finance on endorsement by the Council of Labour and Defence. Their function was to attract capital, including those of private businessmen, for the rapid restoration of the national economy and the development of trade.
The mixed companies, one of the forms of the joint-stock companies, attracted foreign capital for procuring export goods within the country and selling them abroad, and for importing goods needed for restoring the national economy. The mixed companies operated under the control of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade. The joint-stock companies existed in the first period of the NEP.
5. Krestyanskaya Gazeta (Peasants’ Gazette)—organ of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.), a newspaper for the masses of the rural population, published from November 1923 to February 1939.
6. The Ukrainian Committees of Peasant Poor, which united Ukrainian peasants who had little or no land, were formed for the purpose of protecting the interests of the poor and middle peasants. They existed from 1920 onwards and were dissolved after the achievement of complete collectivisation in 1933. In the first period of their existence (1920-21), these committees were political organisations, which helped to consolidate Soviet power in the countryside. On the introduction of the New Economic Policy they were reorganised into public organisations concerned with production, their chief function being to draw the peasants into various agricultural collective organisations. The Committees of Peasant Poor were effective agencies for carrying out the policy of the Party and the state in the countryside.
7. Territorial formations, i.e., territorial army units, were established by a decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Commissars of the U.S.S.R. dated August 8, 1923, alongside the regular units of the Red Army. They were organised on a militia basis and their purpose was to provide military training for the working people during short periods at training camps.
8. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 33, pp. 231-91.
9. This refers to V. I. Lenin’s work The Tax in Kind (see Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, pp. 308-43).
10. This refers to the resolution #8220;Results of the Discussion and the Petty-Bourgeois Deviation in the Party” adopted at the Thirteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) on January 18, 1924 on J. V. Stalin’s report “Immediate Tasks in Party Affairs” (see Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 540-45).