J. V. Stalin
Source : Works, Vol.
Publisher : Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
Transcription/Markup : Salil Sen for MIA, 2008
Public Domain : Marxists Internet Archive (2008). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit "Marxists Internet Archive" as your source.
First of all the question of Sosnovsky, although it is not the central question. He is accused of stating somewhere in the press that the entire Soviet apparatus, even the system, is rotten. I have not read such statements, and nobody has indicated where Sosnovsky wrote this. Had he said anywhere that the Soviet system was rotten, he would have been a counter-revolutionary.
Here is his book. It says: "Not knowing the Ukrainian countryside sufficiently, I do not undertake to judge how far Dymovka is typical of all the Ukrainian villages. Let those who have more expert knowledge about the Soviet Ukraine decide this. Nevertheless, I take the liberty to assert that Dymovka is by no means an exception. From the local press, from conversations with responsible workers, from meetings with peasants and from certain documents that came into my hands, I gathered that elements of a ‘Dymovka' situation are to be found in other villages too."
This is put very mildly, and it does not say anything about decay of the Soviet system or of the Soviet apparatus as a whole. Therefore, the accusations against
Sosnovsky made by the commission, or by individual comrades, are incorrect. Whether they are made by the Gubernia Committee, the Okrug Committee, the commission, or by individuals makes no difference; the charges are unsupported, there are no documents.
On the contrary, I should like to point out that in this matter Sosnovsky has something to his credit. Nobody has said anything about that. It is to the credit of Pravda, to the credit of Sosnovsky, to the credit of Demyan Bedny, that they had the courage to drag into the light of day a piece of real life and to reveal it to the whole country. That is a service which it is absolutely necessary to point out. That is what must be said, and not that they overdid things.
It is said that Sosnovsky overdid things. But in cases where there is a general tendency towards officialdom, -while there are evils under the surface which are spoiling all our work, it is necessary to overdo things. It is certainly necessary. It is inevitable. Nothing but good can come of it. Of course, somebody will be offended, but our work gains by it. We shall not be able to set things right without some offence to individuals.
The main thing in this matter, in my opinion, is not that a village correspondent was murdered, or even that we have a Dymovka—all this is very deplorable, but it is not the main thing. The main thing is that here and there in the countryside, in the volosts, in the districts, in the okrugs, our local responsible workers look only towards Moscow and refuse to turn towards the peasantry, failing to understand that it is not enough to be on good terms with Moscow, that it is also necessary to be on good terms with the peasantry. That is the principal mistake, the principal danger in our work in the countryside.
Many responsible workers say that it has become the fashion at the centre to make new statements about the countryside, that this is diplomacy for the outside world, that we are not moved by an earnest and determined desire to improve our policy in the countryside. That is what I regard as the most dangerous thing. If our comrades in the localities refuse to believe that we have earnestly set to work to teach our responsible workers a new approach to the countryside, to the peasantry, if they fail to see this, or do not believe it, a very grave danger arises. What we must do now is to dispel this mood among the local responsible workers, to turn the line abruptly in the other direction, so that they look on our policy in regard to the countryside as something important, something absolutely essential.
We have three allies: the international proletariat, which is tardy in making a revolution; the colonies, which are very slow in getting into their stride; and the peasantry. I shall not now speak of the fourth ally, i.e, the conflicts in the camp of our enemies. It is hard to say when the international revolution will get into its stride; when it does, it will be the decisive factor. It is also hard to say when the colonies will get into their stride; that is a very serious and difficult question and nothing definite can be said about it. As for the peasantry, we are working with it today; it is our third ally, and an ally who is giving us direct assistance at this very moment; it gives us the men for the army, grain, and so forth. With this ally, i.e., the peasantry, we are working jointly, together we are building socialism, well or ill, but we are building it, and we must appreciate the value of this ally at the present time, particularly at the present time.
That is why we are now putting the question of the peasantry into the forefront of our work.
It must be said that the present course of our policy is a new one; it marks a new line in our policy in regard to the countryside in the matter of building socialism. The comrades do not wish to understand this. If they fail to understand this fundamental thing, we shall make no progress whatever in our work, and there will be no building of socialism in our country. The gravest cause of danger, to my mind, is that our comrades forget about this main thing and are carried away by what may be called their departmental view that Moscow must be shown the "right side of the cloth" and that apparently all is well, that they must conceal evils, that they must not permit criticism because, they think, it discredits the local authorities, the local responsible workers. We must put a stop to that, and we must tell the comrades that they must not be afraid of dragging bits of life into the light of day, however unpleasant they may be. We must make our comrades turn round, so that they do not look only towards Moscow, but learn to look towards the peasantry, whom it is their function to serve; so that they shall not conceal evils, but, on the contrary, help us to expose our mistakes, to rectify them and to conduct our work along the line now laid down by the Party.
One thing or the other (I have already spoken about this a number of times): either we, jointly with the non-Party peasants, jointly with our local Soviet and
Party workers, criticise ourselves in order to improve our work, or the discontent of the peasants will accumulate and burst out in revolts. Bear in mind that under the new conditions, under NEP, another Tambov, or another Kronstadt,2 is by no means precluded. The Transcaucasian, the Georgian revolt3 was a grave warning. Such revolts are possible in future if we do not learn to expose and eliminate our evils, if we go on making it appear outwardly that all is well.
That is why I think that what we must speak of here is not the shortcomings or exaggerations of individual writers who expose the defects in our work, but their merits in doing so.
Here I must pass on to the question of our writers, our correspondents. I think that we have arrived at the period when the worker correspondents and village correspondents can become one of the principal instruments for correcting our constructive work in the countryside, for exposing our defects and, consequently, for correcting and improving the work of the Soviets. Perhaps we do not all realise this, but it is clear to me that it is precisely from this end that the improvement of our work must begin. These people, the bulk of whom are impressionable, who are fired by the love of truth, who desire to expose and correct our shortcomings at all costs, people who are not afraid of bullets—it is these people who, in my opinion, should become one of the principal instruments for exposing our defects and correcting our Party and Soviet constructive work in the localities.
That is why we must heed the voice of these comrades and not disparage our press workers. By means of them, as by means of a sort of barometer which directly marks defects in our constructive work, there is very much that we could expose and correct.
As regards the Central Control Commission, I think that, on the whole, the resolution that it adopted is correct. Something, perhaps, should be amended, revised.
The Dymovka affair should be dealt with in the press in such a way as to enable our comrades to understand what gave rise to it. The point does not lie in the fact that a village correspondent was murdered; still less does it lie in not offending the secretary of the Okrug Committee or Gubernia Committee. The point is to start improving our constructive socialist work in the countryside. That is the main thing. That is the point at issue.
J. Stalin, The Peasant Question, Moscow and Leningrad, 1925
1.J. V. Stalin spoke at the meeting of the Organising Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) during the discussion of the events that took place in the village of Dymovka (Nikolayev Okrug, Odessa Gubernia). In Dymovka, on March 28,1924, a gang of criminals, instigated by the kulaks, killed a village correspondent named Grigory Malinovsky. The resolution passed by the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the R.C.P.(B.) on the events in Dymovka in connection with the murder of the village correspondent Malinovsky was published in Pravda, No. 30, February 6, 1925.
2.This refers to the kulak revolt in the Tambov Gubernia in 1919-21, and to the counter-revolutionary Kronstadt mutiny in March 1921, which were organised by whiteguards, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and agents of foreign states.
3.This refers to the counter-revolutionary revolt in Georgia on August 28, 1924, organised by the remnants of the defeated bourgeois-nationalist parties and by the emigre Menshevik "government" headed by Jordania on the instructions and with the financial support of the imperialist states and leaders of the Second International. On August 29 the revolt was put an end to with the active support of the Georgian workers and toiling peasants.