J. V. Stalin

Interview with the Participants
in the Conference of Agitation and
Propaganda Departments

October 14, 1925

Source : Works, Vol. 7, 1925
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.

Question. Have any changes taken place in the stabilisation of capitalism since the last congress of the Comintern?

Answer. In our Party circles we usually speak of two stabilisations: the stabilisation of capitalism and the stabilisation of the Soviet system. The stabilisation of capitalism signifies a certain temporary relaxation of the crisis of capitalism accompanied by a growth within capitalism of irreconcilable contradictions, the development of which must lead to the next, fresh crisis of capitalism. No matter what changes take place in this sphere, a new crisis cannot be averted. As regards the stabilisation of the Soviet system, it is developing with increasing tempo, consolidating the forces of socialism in our country and uprooting the capitalist elements. There can be no doubt that the complete victory of the socialist elements in our country over the capitalist elements is a matter of the next few years.

Question. Will not the growing Left-wing movement in the Western trade unions lead to some part of the proletariat becoming divorced from the Communist Parties?

Answer. No, it should not. On the contrary, the swing of the trade unions to the Left should strengthen the influence of the Communist Parties in the working-class movement. The social-reformists are strong in the working-class movement not only, and even not so much, because they have Social-Democratic parties at their command, but mainly because they have the backing of the workers' trade unions. It will be enough to deprive them of this backing for them to be left hanging in midair. The swing of the trade unions to the Left means that a considerable section of the organised workers is beginning to desert the old, reformist leaders and is seeking new, Left leaders. The mistake that the Communist Parties make is that they fail to understand this beneficent process, and instead of offering a hand to the Social-Democratic workers who are moving to the Left and helping them to extricate themselves from the mire, they begin to abuse them as traitors and repel them.

It must be borne in mind that the situation as regards the trade unions in the West is different from what it is here, in our country. Here, the trade unions arose after the Party had appeared, after the Party had already become strong and had gained great prestige among the workers. Here, the trade unions were implanted and organised by the efforts of the Party, under the leadership of the Party, with the assistance of the Party. It is this, incidentally, that explains the fact that, here, the Party's prestige among the workers is much higher than that of the trade unions. We see an entirely different picture in the West. There, the trade unions arose much earlier than the working-class political parties. There were no parties yet in the West when the trade unions were leading the workers in strikes, organising them and helping them to defend their interests in the struggle against the capitalists. More than that. There, the parties arose out of the trade unions. It is this, incidentally, that explains the fact that the trade unions in the West enjoy much more prestige among the masses than the parties. Whether the trade unions and their leaders there are good or bad, one thing is clear, namely, that the workers regard the trade unions as their bastions against the capitalists. All these specific features must be taken into account when exposing the reformist trade-union leaders. Hurling abuse and violent epithets at the reformist leaders will not help. On the contrary, abuse and violent epithets can only create the impression among the workers that the aim is not to secure the removal of bad leaders, but to wreck the trade unions.

Question. What is the position of the German Communist Party after the removal of the "ultra-Lefts"?

Answer. Undoubtedly, the removal of the "ultra-Lefts" has improved the position of the German Communist Party. The "ultra-Lefts" are people alien to the working class. What can Ruth Fischer and Maslow1 have in common with the working class of Germany? The result of the removal of the "ultra-Lefts" has been that new leaders of the Communist Party have come to the fore from the workers. That is a great gain for the German working-class movement.

Question. Is a new orientation of the U.S.S.R. contemplated in connection with the pact with Germany?

Answer. No. We have always had and always will have but one orientation: our orientation is on the U.S.S.R. and its success both at home and abroad. We need no other orientation. Whatever pacts are concluded, they cannot change anything in this respect.

Question. What is our chief method of Party work among the broad masses?

Answer. The elimination of the survivals of war communism in Party work and transition to the method of persuasion. In relation to the exploiting elements in our country, we have the old, tried method — the method of coercion. In relation to the working people of our country, the workers, peasants, and so forth, we must employ the method of persuasion. The point is not that the Party's instructions and directives are correct. That, of course, is a good thing, but it is not enough. The point now is to convince the broad masses of the working people that these directives and instructions are correct. The point is that the masses themselves should by their own experience become convinced that the Party's directives and instructions are correct. That calls for extensive, intricate, flexible and patient Party work; but that is the only correct method of work under present conditions, when the activity of the masses of the working people is growing.

Question. What questions should the agitation and propaganda departments pay attention to in view of the forthcoming Party Congress?

Answer. Firstly, the question of the industrialisation of our country; and secondly, the peasant question. On the first question, the point must be stressed that industrialisation is the principal means by which we can preserve the economic independence of our country, that if we do not industrialise our country it will run the risk of becoming an appendage of the world capitalist system. On the second question, more efforts must be devoted to the problem of strengthening the bond between the working class and the peasantry, between industry and peasant economy, for without this bond it will be impossible to build socialism in our country.

Question. What problems arise out of the Party's growth and the necessity of regulating its membership?

Answer. The growth of the Party membership has been proceeding rapidly of late. That, of course, is good, for the Party's rapid growth is an indication of the growing confidence of the working class in our Party. But it also has serious drawbacks. The drawbacks are that the Party's rapid growth leads to a certain lowering of the level of political understanding of the Party membership, to some deterioration of the Party's quality. But quality should be of no less, if not more, importance to us than quantity. To remove those drawbacks we must put an end to the excessive passion of some of our comrades for a quantitative growth of the Party; we must stop the wholesale influx into the Party and make it a rule in future to accept new members with great discrimination. That is the first thing. Secondly, we must organise intensive political education of the new Party members in order to raise their political understanding to the requisite level.

Question. What can now best ensure contact with the non-Party peasant masses — drawing the peasants into the Party, or the creation of a non-Party active around the Party?

Answer. We need both. It will be very difficult to create a broad, non-Party, peasant active around our Party unless we have in the countryside a certain minimum of peasants organised in the Party. It will be still more difficult to create effective Party organisations in the countryside unless we have a broad, non-Party, peasant active, for Party organisations are usually created out of such an active. Nevertheless, the creation of a broad, non-Party, peasant active is the more important task.

What makes the Party strong from the standpoint of its connections with the masses? The fact that it has around itself a broad, non-Party active of sympathisers. The Party could not have led the vast working-class masses into the struggle if it had not had this broad active of sympathisers around itself. Without the aid of such an active the Party cannot exercise leadership of the vast masses of the people. That is one of the fundamental laws of leadership.

Do you remember the Lenin Enrolment, when, in the course of a few days, 200,000 new members, the finest sons of the working class, joined the Party? Where did those 200,000 come from? They came from the ranks of the broad, non-Party active of workers in sympathy with our Party.

Hence, the non-Party active is the medium that provides the sap on which the Party lives and develops. That is true not only in relation to the working class. It is also true in relation to the labouring peasantry.

Question. What concrete results for the expansion of industry are expected from concessions?

Answer. Lenin in his day already said that nothing had come of concessions in our country. We are now in possession of new data which confirm Lenin's words. We can now quite confidently say that there are no prospects for concessions in our country. It is a fact that the proportion of the output of concession industry to our total industrial output is insignificant, and that proportion is tending to drop to zero.



1.Ruth Fischer and Maslow — leaders of the Trotskyite group in the Communist Party of Germany. In April 1924, at the Frankfurt Congress of the Communist Party of Germany, after the removal of the bankrupt Right-opportunist Brandler-Thalheimer group from the Party leadership, the Ruth Fischer-Maslow group seized the leadership in the newly-elected Central Committee of the C.P.G. In the autumn of 1925, Ruth Fischer and Maslow and their supporters were removed from the leading posts in the Communist Party of Germany and in 1926 they were expelled from the Party as agents of the class enemy. After that the leadership of the Communist Party of Germany was headed by E. Thalmann.