J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 6, January - December, 1924, pp. 246-273
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
First Published: Pravda, Nos. 136 and 137, June 19 and 20, 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, I do not propose to give a detailed analysis of the Thirteenth Congress resolutions. There are quite a number of them—they make up a whole pamphlet—and it is hardly possible to examine them now in detail, the more so because neither you nor I can spare the time just now. I think, therefore, it will be more expedient to outline and explain the basic starting points in order to facilitate your own study of the resolutions when you return home.
And so, a detailed study of the Thirteenth Congress resolutions will reveal that the manifold questions they deal with can be reduced to four basic questions which run through all the resolutions like a red thread.
What are these questions?
The first basic question, or first group of questions, concerns the external position of our Republic, the consolidation of its international position.
The second basic question, or second group of questions, concerns the bond between state industry and the peasant economy, the alliance between the proletariat and peasantry.
The third group of questions embraces the education and re-education of the working masses in the spirit of the proletarian dictatorship and socialism. Included in this group are such questions as those of the state apparatus, work among the peasants, among the women toilers and among the youth.
Lastly, the fourth group of questions concerns the Party itself, its internal life, its existence and development.
I shall deal especially, in the concluding part of my report, with the tasks of Party workers in the uyezds in connection with the Thirteenth Congress decisions.
What new developments in Soviet Russia’s international position has the past year produced? What basic, new developments in the international field must be taken into account in proceeding from the past year to the new—developments which the Thirteenth Congress could not but take into account?
These new developments consist, firstly, in the fact that during the past year we have had occasion to witness a number of attempts at the open fascisation of internal policy in the West-European countries; attempts that have proved futile and miscarried. Leaving aside Italy, where fascism is disintegrating, attempts to fascise European policy in the main countries, France and Britain, have miscarried, and the authors of these attempts, Poincaré and Curzon, have, to put it plainly, come a cropper, they have been thrown overboard.
This is the first new development of the past year.
The second new development of the past year was a series of attempts by the bellicose imperialists of Britain and France to isolate our country, attempts that were defeated. There can hardly be any doubt that Poincaré’s numerous machinations against the Soviet Union, and Curzon’s notorious ultimatum, were intended to isolate our country. But what happened? Instead of isolation, the result has been the factual recognition of the Soviet Union. More, instead of isolation of the Soviet Union, the result has been isolation of the isolators, the resignation of Poincaré and Curzon. Our country has proved to be a more weighty factor than some of the older imperialist politicians were prone to believe.
This is the second new development of the past year in the sphere of foreign policy.
What is the explanation of all this?
Some are inclined to attribute it to the wisdom of our policy. I do not deny that our policy has been, if not wise, at any rate correct, and this has been confirmed by the Thirteenth Congress. But neither the wisdom nor the correctness of our policy can be regarded as sufficient explanation. The explanation lies not so much in the correctness of our policy, as in the situation that has arisen in Europe of late, and which determined the success of our policy. Three circumstances should be noted in this connection.
Firstly. The impotence of the imperialist powers to cope with the results of their war victories and to establish anything resembling a tolerable peace in Europe. They are incapable of developing further without plundering the defeated countries and colonies, without conflicts and clashes among themselves over division of the loot. Hence, the new armaments. Hence, the danger of another war. But the masses do not want war, for they have not yet forgotten the sacrifices they had to make for the sake of the capitalists’ profits. Hence, the growing resentment which the policy of bellicose imperialism is evoking among the peoples.
That is the reason for the inner weakness of imperialism. Why were Curzon and Poincaré thrown out? Because public opinion regards them as instigators of another war. Because by their frankly bellicose policy they aroused mass resentment against imperialism generally, and thereby created a danger for imperialism.
Secondly. The consolidation of Soviet power inside the country. The capitalist states counted on the collapse of Soviet power inside the country. Divine truth, the psalmist tells us, is sometimes uttered through the mouths of infants. Well, if Western imperialism is to be regarded as a divinity, then it is only natural that it should be unable to do without an infant of its own. And so, it has found one, in the person of Benes, the not unknown Czechoslovak Minister of Foreign Affairs. Through him it announced to the world that there was no need to hurry with the recognition of the Union of Republics, in view of the instability of Soviet power, and that since the latter would soon be replaced by a new, bourgeois-democratic government, it would be better to “abstain,” for the time being, from establishing “normal relations” with the Soviet Union. That was how things stood only a short while ago. But the “truth” of imperialism, proclaimed to the world through the mouth of its infant, hardly lasted a couple of months, for, as we know, a number of countries soon abandoned the policy of “abstention” for one of “recognition.”1Why? Because there is no going against the facts, and the facts are that Soviet power is as firm as a rock. To begin with, the man in the street, no matter how naive he may be politically, could not but notice that the Soviet government is, evidently, more stable than any bourgeois government, for in these seven years of proletarian dictatorship bourgeois governments have come and gone, but the Soviet government remains. Further, the man in the street could not but notice our economic progress, if only from the steady increase of our exports. Is additional proof required that all these circumstances speak in favour of the Soviet Union, not against it? We are accused of conducting propaganda in Western Europe against capitalism. I must say that there is no need for us to conduct such propaganda; we do not need it. The very existence of the Soviet regime, its growth, its material prosperity, its indubitable consolidation, are all most effective propaganda among the European workers in favour of Soviet power. Any worker who comes to the Soviet land and takes a look at our proletarian order of things will not fail to see what Soviet power is, and what a working class in power is capable of accomplishing. This is indeed real propaganda, but propaganda by facts, which has a much greater effect on the worker than oral or printed propaganda. We are accused of conducting propaganda in the East. That, too, is nonsense. There is no need for us to conduct propaganda in the East. Any citizen of a dependency or colony has only to come to the Soviet Union and see how the people run the country, how black and white, Russians and non-Russians, people of every colour of skin, and of every nationality, have joined together in the work of running a great country, to convince himself that ours is the only land where the brotherhood of nations is not a phrase, but a reality. With such propaganda by facts as the existence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, we require no printed or oral propaganda.
Thirdly. The increasing weight and prestige of the Soviet government, its mounting popularity among the masses in the capitalist countries, due first and foremost to the fact that ours is the only country in the world which is capable of pursuing, and actually is pursuing, a policy of peace—pursuing this policy not hypocritically, but honestly and openly, resolutely and consistently. Today everyone, both friend and foe, admits that ours is the only country that can be rightly called the buttress and standard-bearer of the policy of peace throughout the world. Does it need to be proved that this circumstance was bound to increase support and sympathy for the Soviet Union among the European masses? Have you noticed that certain European rulers are endeavouring to build their careers on “friendship” with the Soviet Union, that even such of them as Mussolini are not averse, on occasion, to “profit” from this “friendship”? This is a direct indication of the very real popularity the Soviet government has won among the broad masses in the capitalist countries. More than to anything else, however, the Soviet government owes its popularity to the policy of peace it has been honestly and courageously pursuing amid the difficult conditions of capitalist encirclement.
These, in general outline, are the factors which have determined the success of our foreign policy in the past year.
The Thirteenth Congress in its resolution has approved the Central Committee’s policy on foreign affairs. What does this imply? It implies that the congress has bound the Party to continue its policy of peace, its policy of determined struggle against another war, of ruthlessly exposing each and every advocate and abettor of new armaments and new conflicts.
What is meant by the bond between town and country? It means constant contact, constant exchange, between town and country, between our industry and the peasant economy, exchange of the products of our industry for the food and raw materials produced by the peasant economy. The peasant economy cannot thrive, cannot exist, without selling its foodstuffs and raw materials in the urban market and obtaining from the cities, in exchange, the manufactures and implements it requires. Similarly, state industry cannot develop without selling its products in the peasant market and obtaining from the countryside supplies of food and raw materials. Consequently, the home market, and above all the peasant market, the peasant economy, is the lifesource of our socialist industry. For that reason the question of the bond between town and country is one that involves the existence of our industry, the existence of the proletariat itself; it is a question of life or death for our Republic, a question of the victory of socialism in our country.
We did not succeed in effecting this bond, this constant contact between town and country, between industry and the peasant economy, through direct exchange of industrial goods for peasant-farm produce. We did not succeed because of our low industrial development, because we did not have a ramified supply network covering the entire country, and because following the war our economy as a whole was in a state of disruption. That is why we were obliged to introduce what is known as the New Economic Policy, i.e., we were obliged to proclaim freedom of trade, free circulation of commodities, to permit capitalism, to mobilise the efforts of millions of peasants and small proprietors so as to create a flow of goods in the country and promote trade, in order subsequently, after gaining control of the key positions in trade, to build up the bond between industry and the peasant economy through trade. That is what Lenin called the roundabout method of building up the bond— not directly, not by means of direct exchange of peasant-farm produce for industrial goods, but through the medium of trade.
The task is, by utilising the efforts of millions of small proprietors, to gain control of trade, to bring the chief supply channels of town and country into the hands of the state and the co-operatives, and in this way to establish uninterrupted contact, an indissoluble bond, between industry and the peasant economy.
It would be wrong to say that this task is beyond our capacity. Wrong because the proletariat, being in power, possesses all the chief instruments, so to speak, required for establishing the bond between town and country by roundabout means, through trade. Firstly, the proletariat holds state power. Secondly, it owns industry. Thirdly, it controls credit, and credit is a potent force in the hands of the state. Fourthly, it has its own trading apparatus, good or bad, but at any rate an apparatus that is developing and gaining strength. Lastly, it possesses certain commodity stocks which can be thrown onto the market from time to time in order to curb or neutralise market fluctuations, influence prices, and so on. The workers’ state has all these means at its command and for that reason it cannot be said that establishing the bond between town and country through trade is beyond our capacity.
That is how matters stand with regard to organising the bond between town and country and the possibilities for its establishment.
And so, what new and significant developments has the past year produced from the standpoint of establishing the bond between town and country?
What new materials did the Thirteenth Congress have to deal with when framing its decisions on the bond?
The year’s new developments in this sphere lie in the fact that in our practical work we have for the first time been confronted with a broad struggle, waged on a large scale, between the socialist and private capitalist elements within our national economy and, consequently, have for the first time approached the question of the bond in a practical and very concrete way. Questions of the bond and of trade appeared before us no longer as questions of theory, but as vital questions of immediate practice, requiring urgent solution.
You will recall that already at the Eleventh Congress Lenin said2 that capture of the market by the state and the co-operatives, and gaining control of the basic channels of trade, would not be a matter of peaceful work, but would assume the form of struggle between the socialist and the private capitalist elements; that it would assume the form of fierce rivalry between these two opposite elements in our national economy. Now this struggle has flared up. It has made itself evident mainly in two spheres: trade between town and country, and credit, chiefly in the countryside.
What have been the results of this struggle?
Firstly. Private capital, we found, had penetrated not into industry, where the risk is greater and the turnover of capital slower, but into trade, the very sphere which, as Lenin said, in our transition period constitutes the basic link in a chain of processes. And having penetrated into trade, private capital entrenched itself there to such an extent that it controlled about 80 per cent of the country’s entire retail trade, and about 50 per cent of all its wholesale and retail trade. This is due to the fact that our trading and co-operative organisations were young and not yet properly organised; to the incorrect policy of our syndicates, which abused their monopoly position and forced up commodity prices; to the weakness of our Commissariat of Internal Trade, whose function it is to regulate trade in the interests of the state, and, lastly, to the instability of the Soviet currency then in circulation, which hit mainly at the peasant and forced down his purchasing capacity.
Secondly. Rural credit, we found, was entirely in the hands of the kulak and the usurer. The small peasant, having no agricultural implements of his own, was forced into bondage to the usurer, was compelled to pay extortionate interest and to tolerate the usurer’s domination without a murmur. This is due to the fact that we still have no local agricultural credit system capable of granting the peasant cheap credit and ousting the usurer; to the fact that the usurer has this field entirely to himself.
Thus we see that the merchant and the usurer have wedged themselves in between the state, on the one hand, and the peasant economy, on the other, with the result that the bond between socialist industry and the peasant economy has proved more difficult to organise, and in fact has not been properly organised. The summer marketing crisis last year was an expression of this difficulty and lack of proper organisation.
Already then, even before the congress, the Party took steps to overcome the marketing crisis and lay the foundation for a system of agricultural credit. A new, stable currency was introduced, which improved the situation. Commodity stocks were put on the market to bring down prices, and this likewise had a favourable effect. The Commissariat of Internal Trade was reorganised in a way that ensured successful struggle against private capital. The question was raised of reorganising the work of the trade and co-operative bodies with a view to cementing the bond between town and country. The marketing crisis was, in the main, eliminated. But the Party could not confine itself to these measures. It was the task of the Thirteenth Congress to consider the question of the bond anew in all its implications and to work out the basic lines for solving it in the new situation created after the marketing crisis had been eliminated.
What did the Thirteenth Congress decide on this score?
Firstly. The congress called for a further expansion of industry, primarily of light industry, and also metals, for it is clear that with our present stocks of manufactured goods we cannot satisfy the peasant’s hunger for commodities. This apart from growing unemployment, which makes industrial expansion imperative. The further expansion of industry is, therefore, a question of life or death (see the congress resolution on the Central Committee’s report3.
Secondly. The congress called for a further expansion of peasant farming, for assistance to the peasants in extending crop areas. This, too, is necessary to strengthen the bond, for it is clear that the peasantry is interested in meeting not only the requirements of our industry, of course in exchange for manufactures, but also the requirements of the foreign market, of course in exchange for machines. Hence, the further expansion of peasant farming as an immediate task of Party policy (see the resolution on “Work in the Countryside”4).
Thirdly. The congress endorsed the formation of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Trade and made it the principal task of all our trading and co-operative organisations to combat private capital, gain control of the market, and oust private capital from the sphere of trade by economic measures, by reducing commodity prices and improving the quality of goods, by manoeuvring with commodity stocks, utilising preferential credits, etc. (see the resolutions on “Internal Trade” and on the “Co-operatives”5).
Fourthly. The congress raised and decided the very important question of agricultural credit. The question concerns not only the Central Agricultural Bank, or even the gubernia agricultural credit committees, but chiefly the organisation of a network of local credit cooperatives in the uyezds and volosts. It is a question of democratising credit, of making agricultural credit available to the peasant, of replacing the extortionate credit of the usurer by cheap state credit, and of ousting the usurer from the countryside. This is a highly important question for the whole of our economy, and unless it is solved there can be no really durable bond between the proletariat and the peasantry. That is why the Thirteenth Congress devoted special attention to this problem (see the resolution on “Work in the Countryside”). The Central Committee has secured the appropriation of 40 million rubles to augment the basic capital of the Agricultural Bank, on the understanding that by an arrangement with the State Bank it will be possible to increase the amount to 80 million rubles. I believe that with some exertion of effort the amount can be raised to 100 million rubles. Certainly this is not very much for such a giant as our Union; nevertheless it will do something to help the peasant to improve his farming and to undermine bondage to the usurer. I have already spoken of the importance of local peasant credit co-operatives for the small peasants, for the bond between the peasantry and the workers’ state. But the local credit co-operatives can be of assistance not only to the peasant. Under the proper conditions, they can become a most valuable source not only of state assistance to the peasant, but also of peasant assistance to the state. Indeed, if we develop a ramified network of local agricultural credit co-operatives in the uyezds and volosts, and if these institutions enjoy prestige among the peasant masses, they can engage not only in credit, but in debit operations, too; in other words, the peasants will not only come to them for state loans, but will deposit money in them as well. It should not be difficult to visualise that if these local credit institutions develop favourably they can become a source of substantial assistance to the state by the peasant millions, a source with which no foreign loan can compare. As you see, the congress did not err in devoting special attention to the organisation of cheap rural credit.
Fifthly. The congress re-affirmed the inviolability of our monopoly of foreign trade. I do not think there is any need to explain the importance of the foreign trade monopoly for our industry and agriculture as well as for the bond between the two. Its cardinal significance requires no fresh proof (see the resolution on the Central Committee’s report).
Sixthly. The congress endorsed the need to increase our exports in general, and the export of grain in particular. This decision, too, I believe, requires no comment (see the resolution on the Central Committee’s report).
Seventhly. The congress resolved that every measure be taken to complete the carrying through of the currency reform,6 which has facilitated trade and the establishment of firm ties between industry and the peasant economy, and to ensure that both central and local bodies create all the conditions necessary for this (see the resolution on the Central Committee’s report).
Such are the slogans issued by the Thirteenth Congress on the bond between town and country. Their purpose is to gain control of trade, establish a firm bond between our industry and the peasant economy and thereby pave the way for the victory of the socialist elements of our national economy over the capitalist elements.
One of the essential tasks confronting the Party in the epoch of the dictatorship of the proletariat is to re-educate the older generations and educate the new generations in the spirit of the proletarian dictatorship and socialism. The old habits and customs, traditions and prejudices inherited from the old society are most dangerous enemies of socialism. They—these traditions and habits—have a firm grip over millions of working people; at times they engulf whole strata of the proletariat; at times they present a great danger to the very existence of the proletarian dictatorship. That is why the struggle against these traditions and habits, their absolute eradication in all spheres of our activity, and, lastly, the education of the younger generations in the spirit of proletarian socialism, represent immediate tasks for our Party without the accomplishment of which socialism cannot triumph. Work to improve the state apparatus, work in the countryside, work among women toilers and among the youth—these are the principal spheres of the Party’s activity in the fulfilment of these tasks.
a) The struggle to improve the state apparatus. The congress devoted little time to the question of the state apparatus. The report of the Central Control Commission on the fight against defects in the state apparatus was endorsed without debate. The resolution on “The Work of the Control Commissions”7 was likewise adopted without debate. This, I believe, was due to lack of time and to the great number of questions which the congress was called upon to consider. But it would be absolutely wrong to infer from this that the Party does not regard the question of the state apparatus as one of key importance. On the contrary, it is a vital issue in all our constructive work. Does the state apparatus function honestly, or does it indulge in graft; does it exercise economy in expenditure, or does it squander the national wealth; is it guilty of duplicity, or does it serve the state loyally and faithfully; is it a burden on the working people, or an organisation that helps them; does it inculcate respect for proletarian law, or does it corrupt the people’s minds by disparaging proletarian law; is it progressing towards transition to a communist society in which there will be no state, or is it retrogressing towards the stagnant bureaucracy of the ordinary bourgeois state—these are all questions the correct solution of which cannot but be a matter of decisive importance for the Party and for socialism. That our state apparatus is full of defects, that it is cumbersome and expensive and nine-tenths bureaucratic, that its bureaucracy weighs heavily on the Party and its organisations, hampering their efforts to improve the state apparatus—these are things which hardly anyone will doubt. Yet it should be perfectly clear that, if our state apparatus were to rid itself of at least some of its basic faults, it could, in the hands of the proletariat, serve as a most valuable instrument for the education and re-education of broad sections of the population in the spirit of the proletarian dictatorship and socialism.
That is why Lenin devoted special attention to improving the state apparatus.
That is why the Party has set up special organisations of workers and peasants (the reorganised Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection and the enlarged Central Control Commission) to combat deficiencies in our state apparatus.
The task is to help the Central Control Commission and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection in their difficult work of improving, simplifying, reducing the cost of the state apparatus and bringing a healthier atmosphere into it from top to bottom (see the congress resolution on “Work of the Control Commissions”)
b) Work in the countryside. This is one of the most complex and difficult problems of our practical Party activity. The congress adopted a splendi resolution on the basic lines of our work in the countryside. One need only compare this resolution with that of the Eighth Congress on work in the countryside8 to appreciate the Party’s progress in this field. But it would be a mistake to think that the Thirteenth Congress has given, or could have given this year, an exhaustive solution to the very complicated problem of work in the countryside. Such questions as the organisational forms of collective farming; reorganisation of the state farms; proper adjustment of land tenure, both in the central and border regions; new forms of organisation of labour in connection with the activities of the agricultural co-operatives; understanding of the specific features obtaining in different regions of our Union, and proper regard for these specific features in our work—all these questions, for reasons that will be readily appreciated, could not be exhaustively settled in the congress resolution. The importance of that resolution lies in the fact that it charts the basic lines of our work and contributes to the further study of these questions. You probably know that the Central Committee plenum9 set up a permanent commission on work in the countryside for a detailed study of these questions.
The focal point of the resolution is the slogan of developing the co-operative movement among the peasantry. This should proceed along three lines: consumers’ cooperatives, agricultural co-operatives and credit co-operatives. This is one of the surest ways of implanting the idea of collectivism and collective methods, among the peasantry, among the poor and middle sections of the peasantry (see the congress resolution on “Work in the Countryside”).
c) Work among women toilers. In my report to the congress, I remarked on the neglect shown in regard to this work, which is of extreme, in some cases of decisive, importance to the Party for the training of the younger generations in the spirit of socialism. There is no point, certainly, in repeating here what has already been said at the congress. I would like only to call your attention to the fact that, although the congress, unfortunately, had no opportunity to discuss activities among women toilers as a separate item, it adopted a special decision stating that: “The congress draws the particular attention of the entire Party to the need for intensifying our activities among working women and peasant women and for promoting their participation in all Party and Soviet elected bodies” (see the resolution on the Central Committee’s report). I think that the next congress will have to deal with this question specially. In accordance with the congress decision, the Central Committee plenum held immediately after the congress instructed the C.C. Organising Bureau to initiate special measures to raise our activities among women toilers to the proper level.
d) Work among the youth. The congress devoted particular attention to work among the youth. Its resolution on the subject is, in my opinion, the most detailed and exhaustive of all the congress resolutions, and is therefore of immense value to the Party and to the youth.
The importance of the youth—I am referring to the working-class and peasant youth—lies in the fact that it constitutes a most favourable soil for building the future, that it represents our country’s future and is the bearer of that future. If our work in the state apparatus, among the peasants, among women toilers, is of immense importance for overcoming old habits and traditions, for re-educating the older generations of working people, work among the youth, who are more or less free from these traditions and habits, assumes inestimable importance for the education of new cadres of working people in the spirit of the proletarian dictatorship and socialism, for here—and this is self-evident—we have an extremely favourable soil.
From this follows the very great importance of the Young Communist League and of its offshoot, the Pioneers.
The Young Communist League is a voluntary organisation of young workers and peasants. The young workers are its centre, its core; the young peasants—its support. The basis of the organisation of the youth is the alliance of the working-class youth and peasant youth. Its tasks are: to gather around the proletarian core all honest-minded and revolutionary elements among the peasant youth; to draw its members into all branches of activity—economic and cultural, military and administrative; to train them to be fighters and builders, workers and leaders of our country (see the resolution on “Work Among the Youth”10)
There are four questions here: the opposition, the Lenin Enrolment, democratisation of the Party leadership, theory in general and the propaganda of Leninism in particular.
a) The opposition. Now that the question of the opposition has been decided by the congress and the whole matter, consequently, is settled, one might ask: What is the opposition, and what, essentially, was the issue involved in the discussion? I think, comrades, that the issue was one of life or death for the Party. Perhaps the opposition itself did not realise this, but that is not the point. The important thing is not what aims particular comrades or opposition groups set themselves. The important thing is the objective results that are bound to follow from the actions of such a group. What does declaring war on the Party apparatus mean? It means working to destroy the Party. What does inciting the youth against the cadres mean? It means working to disintegrate the Party. What does fighting for freedom of groups mean? It means attempting to demolish the Party, its unity, What does the effort to discredit the Party cadres by talk about degeneration mean? It means trying to disrupt the Party, to break its backbone. Yes, comrades, the issue was one of life or death for the Party. And that, indeed, explains the passion of the discussion. It also explains the fact, unparalleled in our Party’s history, that the congress unanimously condemned the opposition platform. The gravity of the danger welded the Party into a solid ring of iron.
It is interesting to trace the history of the opposition. We can begin with the Seventh Party Congress, the first after the establishment of Soviet power (in the early part of 1918). There was an opposition at that congress, and it was headed by the same people who led the opposition at the Thirteenth Congress. The issue was war or peace, the Brest Peace. At that time the opposition had one quarter of the whole congress on its side—no mean proportion. No wonder there was talk then of a split.
Two years later, at the Tenth Congress, the inner-Party struggle flared up anew, this time over the trade union issue, and the opposition was headed by the same people. The opposition mustered one-eighth of the congress, which, of course, was less than the quarter it had before.
Another two years passed, and a new struggle flared up at the Thirteenth Congress, the one that has just concluded. Here, too, there was an opposition, but it failed to muster a single vote at the congress. This time, as you see, its showing was a sorry one indeed.
And so, on three occasions the opposition has tried to wage war against the Party’s basic cadres. The first time at the Seventh Congress, the second time at the Tenth, and the third time at the Thirteenth Congress. It met with defeat on all these occasions, each time losing some of its following and with every new step diminishing the strength of its army.
What do all these facts show? Firstly, that the history of our Party in these past six years has been one of progressive rallying of the majority of our Party around its basic cadres. Secondly that the opposition’s supporters have been steadily breaking away from it to join the basic core of the Party and swell its ranks. The conclusion that follows is this: it is not precluded that from the opposition, which had no delegates at the Thirteenth Congress (we do not have proportional representation) but which undoubtedly has followers in the Party, a number of comrades will break away and join the basic core of the Party, as has happened in the past.
What should our policy be with regard to these oppositionists, or, more precisely, with regard to these former oppositionists? It should be an exceptionally comradely one. Every measure must be taken to help them to come over to the basic core of the Party and to work jointly and in harmony with this core.
b) The Lenin Enrolment. I shall not dwell on the fact that the Lenin Enrolment, that is, the admission into our Party of 250,000 new members from among the workers, is evidence of the Party’s profound democracy, of the fact that it actually is the elected organ of the working class. The importance of the Lenin Enrolment from this aspect is, of course, tremendous. But that is not the aspect I should like to discuss today. I wish to draw your attention to the dangerous infatuation which has made its appearance in our Party of late in connection with the Lenin Enrolment. Some say that we should go further and bring the number of members up to one million. Others want to go beyond that figure, maintaining that it would be better to go as far as two millions. I do not doubt that others are prepared to go further still. This is a dangerous infatuation, comrades. Infatuation has been the cause of the downfall of the world’s biggest armies; they seized too much and then, being unable to digest what they had seized, they fell to pieces. The biggest parties can perish if they yield to infatuation, seize too much and then prove incapable of embracing, digesting what they have captured. Judge for yourselves. Political illiteracy in our Party is as high as 60 per cent—60 per cent prior to the Lenin Enrolment, and I am afraid that with the Lenin Enrolment it will be brought up to 80 per cent. Is it not time to call a halt, comrades? Is it not time to confine ourselves to 800,000 members and put the question squarely and sharply of improving the quality of the membership, of teaching the Lenin Enrolment the foundations of Leninism, of converting the new members into conscious Leninists? I think it is time to do that.
c) Democratisation of the Party leadership. The Lenin Enrolment testifies to the profound democracy of our Party, to the proletarian composition of its basic units, to the undoubted confidence it enjoys among the millions of non-Party people. But these are not the only features of democracy in our Party; they make up only one aspect of democracy. Another aspect is the steady democratisation of the Party leadership. It was pointed out at the congress that the focus in Party leadership is being shifted more and more from narrow leading bodies and bureaus to wider organisations, to the plenums of the local and central bodies; and that the plenums themselves are being extended and their composition improved. You probably know that the congress fully approved this tendency in the development of our leading organisations. What does all this indicate? It indicates that our leading organisations are beginning to take root in the very midst of the proletarian masses. It is interesting to trace the development of our Party’s Central Committee during the past six years, from the point of view of size and social composition. At the time of the Seventh Congress (1918) the Central Committee consisted of 15 members, of whom only one (7 per cent) was a worker, while intellectuals numbered 14 (93 per cent). That was at the Seventh Congress. Now, after the Thirteenth Congress, the Central Committee has 54 members, of whom 29 (53 per cent) are workers and 25 (47 per cent) are intellectuals. This is a sure sign of the democratisation of the principal Party leadership.
d) Theory in general and the propaganda of Leninism in particular. One of the dangerous shortcomings of our Party is the decline in the theoretical level of its members. This is due to the devilish pressure of routine work, which kills the desire for theoretical study and fosters a certain dangerous disregard—to put it mildly—for questions of theory. Here are a few examples.
I recently read in a newspaper a report on the Thirteenth Congress by one of the comrades (I think it was Kamenev) which said in so many words that our Party’s immediate slogan was conversion of “Nepman Russia” into socialist Russia. And what is still worse, this strange slogan was attributed to none other than Lenin himself— no more and no less! Yet we know that Lenin did not say anything of the kind, nor could he have done so, for everyone knows that no such thing as “Nepman” Russia exists. True, Lenin spoke of “NEP” Russia. But “NEP” Russia (that is, Soviet Russia which is carrying out the new economic policy) is one thing, and “Nepman” Russia (that is, a Russia ruled by Nepmen) is quite another. Does Kamenev appreciate this fundamental difference? Of course he does. Why then did he come out with this strange slogan? Because of the usual disregard for questions of theory, for precise theoretical formulations. Yet, unless the error is corrected, this strange slogan is very likely to give rise to a good deal of misunderstanding in the Party.
Another example. People often say that we have a “dictatorship of the Party.” Someone will say: I am for the dictatorship of the Party. I recall that the expression figured in one of our congress resolutions, in fact, I believe, in a resolution of the Twelfth Congress. This, of course, was an oversight. Apparently, some comrades think that ours is a dictatorship of the Party, not of the working class. But that is sheer nonsense, comrades. If that contention were right, then Lenin was wrong, for he taught us that the Soviets implement the dictatorship, while the Party guides the Soviets. Then Lenin was wrong, for he spoke of the dictatorship of the proletariat, not of the dictatorship of the Party. If the contention about “dictatorship of the Party” were correct, there would be no need for the Soviets, there would have been no point in Lenin, at the Eleventh Congress, speaking of the necessity to draw a “distinction between Party and Soviet organs.” But from what quarter, and how, has this nonsense penetrated into our Party? It is the result of the passion for the “Party principle,” which does so much harm precisely to the Party principle, without quotation marks. It is the result of a disregard for questions of theory, of the habit of putting forward slogans without considering them properly beforehand, for very little thought is required to realise the utter absurdity of substituting the dictatorship of the Party for the dictatorship of the class. Does it need proof that this absurdity may well give rise to confusion and misunderstanding in the Party?
Or another example. Everybody knows that during the discussion one section of our Party succumbed to the opposition’s anti-Party agitation against the organisational principles of Leninism. Any Bolshevik who has had even the briefest schooling in the theory of Leninism would have immediately realised that these opposition preachings had nothing in common with Leninism. However, a section of the Party, as we know, failed at first to see the opposition in its true colours. Why? Because of this same disregard for theory, because of the low theoretical level of our Party members.
The discussion brought the question of studying Leninism to the forefront. The death of Lenin made this question more acute, by heightening the Party members’ interest in theory. The Thirteenth Congress merely reflected this sentiment, when in a number of resolutions it confirmed the need to study and propagate Leninism. The task of the Party is to take advantage of this heightened interest in questions of theory and do everything to raise, at last, the theoretical level of the membership to the proper degree. We must not forget Lenin’s words that without a clear and correct theory, there can be no correct practice.
Comrades, it is not accidental that it is to you that I have come to report on the congress. I have come here not only because of your invitation, but also because at the present stage of development the uyezds, and in particular the Party workers in the uyezds, represent the principal connecting link between the Party and the peasantry, between town and country. And, as you are well aware, establishing the bond between town and country is today the fundamental question of our practical Party and state activities.
I have already said that establishing the bond between state industry and the peasant economy must proceed along three main lines: consumers’ co-operatives, agricultural co-operatives and local credit co-operatives. I have said that these are the three basic channels through which the bond must be organised. But it would be fanciful to imagine that we shall succeed at once in linking up industry with the peasant economy directly on the volost level, by-passing the uyezd. There is no need to prove that we have neither the forces for this, nor the skill, nor the funds. Therefore, at this juncture, the uyezd, the area, remains the pivotal point in building up the bond between town and country. To entrench ourselves in the sphere of trade there is no need to oust the very last shopkeeper from the very last volost; all we need is to convert the uyezd into a base of Soviet trade, so that all the shopkeepers will be compelled to revolve round the co-operative or Soviet shop in the uyezd as the planets revolve round the sun. To gain control in the sphere of credit there is no need at all at the present moment to cover the volosts and villages with a network of credit co-operatives; it is sufficient to build a base in the uyezd, and the peasants will immediately begin to break away from the kulak and usurer. And so on and so forth.
In short, in the near future the uyezd (area) must be converted into the principal base for organising the bond between town and country, between the proletariat and the peasantry.
How quickly this conversion will take place depends upon you comrades working in the uyezds. There are some 300 of you now—a veritable army. And it depends upon you, and your comrades in the uyezds of our country, to convert the uyezd, as quickly as possible, into the pivotal point of our Party and state work in establishing the bond between industry and the peasant economy. I do not doubt that the uyezd workers will fulfil their duty to the Party and the country.
1. The capitalist countries’ policy of recognising the U.S.S.R. was expressed in the establishment of diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R. in February 1924 by Great Britain, Italy, Norway and Austria; in March by Greece and Sweden; in June by Denmark; in October by France, and in January 1925 by Japan and a number of other countries.
2. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 33, pp. 231-91.
3. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 566-68.
4. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 589-98.
5. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 582-88.
6. Currency reform—the replacement of the depreciated Soviet paper money by chervonets (ten-ruble) notes with a firm gold backing, carried out by the Soviet Government during 1924.
7. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 578-82.
8. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 307-11.
9. This refers to the plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) held on June 2, 1924, after the Thirteenth Party Congress. J. V. Stalin was elected to the Political Bureau, to the Organising Bureau and to the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.), and re-elected General Secretary of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.). The plenum discussed the question of the representation of the R.C.P.(B.) on the E.C.C.I. and at the Fifth Congress of the Comintern, questions concerning wages, the metal industry, the drought, etc. The plenum decided to set up a permanent commission of the plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) for detailed study of questions concerning work in the countryside. On the instructions of the plenum, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee appointed the following to this commission: V. M. Molotov (chairman), J. V. Stalin, M. I. Kalinin, L. M. Kaganovich, N. K. Krupskaya, and others. By a decision of the plenum of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) held in September 1924, the commission was transformed into a Council on Work in the Countryside under the auspices of the C.C., R.C.P.(B.).
10. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U.(B.) Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1941, pp. 610-17.