J. V. Stalin

Speech Delivered at a Meeting of Workers of the Stalin Railway Workshops, October Railway

March 1, 1927

(Abbreviated Report)

Source: Works, Vol. 9, December 1926-July, 1927, pp. 173-178
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
First Published: Pravda, No. 51, March 3, 1927
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, it is usually “expected” of an orator to hold forth without end while others listen to him without end. I think that on this occasion we shall adopt a somewhat different procedure. I shall confine myself to answering the questions put to me in written form by various comrades. I think that that will be more lively. If you agree, I shall get down to business.

The majority of the questions boil down to one: shall we have war this year, in the spring or autumn of this year?

My reply is that we shall not have war this year, neither in the spring nor in the autumn.

The reason we shall not have war this year is not that there is no danger at all of imperialist wars. No, the danger of war exists. There will be no war this year because our enemies are not ready to go to war, because they more than anyone else fear the outcome of a war, because the workers of the West do not want to fight the U.S.S.R., and to fight without the workers is impossible, and, lastly, because we are conducting a firm and unwavering policy of peace, and this fact makes it difficult to make war on our country.

Having substantiated this opinion by facts drawn from the sphere of our relations with the Western Powers, great and small, Comrade Stalin went on to speak of the policy of the U.S.S.R. in the East.

We are told that our policy of friendship with the dependent and colonial peoples of the East is fraught with certain concessions on our part, and, consequently, involves certain expenses for us. That, of course, is true. But any other policy would be unacceptable to us not only from the standpoint of principle, but also from the standpoint of the cost of our foreign policy. That we cannot in principle pursue any other policy than one of friendship follows from the very nature of the Soviet power, which has shattered the fetters of imperialism and built its might on this basis. Hence I shall not dilate on this point.

Let us examine the matter from the standpoint of the cost of our foreign policy. Our state frontiers with the countries in the East, with China, Afghanistan, Persia and Turkey, have, as you know, a length of several thousand versts. On these frontiers we now maintain an insignificant number of troops, who are on friendly relations with the inhabitants of the border states, and we are able to allow ourselves this gigantic economy in regard to the protection of our frontiers precisely because we pursue a policy of friendship with those states.

But let us assume that our relations with those countries were not friendly, but hostile, as they were at the time of the Russian autocracy. We should then be obliged to maintain several armies on those frontiers armed from head to foot, and a whole number of warships in the Far East, as certain imperialist countries now do. And what would the maintenance of several armies on those frontiers and a corresponding navy mean? It would mean an annual expenditure of hundreds of millions of rubles out of public money for those armies and that navy. That also would be an Eastern policy. But it would be the most unthrifty, the most wasteful and most dangerous of all conceivable policies. That is why I think that our policy in the East is the most correct in principle, the surest from the point of view of political results, and the most economical of all possible policies in the East.

This is apart from the fact that such a policy assures us stable peace in the East not only with the colonial and dependent countries, but also with Japan.

After a number of speakers had taken part in the discussion on the mandate to the deputies, Comrade Stalin again took the floor to reply to a number of new questions submitted in writing by members of the audience.

Comrades, permit me to reply to the additional notes sent in by comrades. Two questions stand out in these notes: the possibility of a rupture of Anglo-Soviet diplomatic relations, and the question of the principal achievements in our work of economic construction. Will Britain break the 1921 trade agreement? Will she sever diplomatic relations with the U.S.S.R.?

Of course, a rupture of relations on the part of Britain is not excluded. But I think it is hardly likely. It is hardly likely because a rupture can only be of disadvantage to Britain. This is apart from the fact that, in view of the peaceful policy of the U.S.S.R., responsibility for a rupture would be the heaviest of all possible heavy responsibilities that the British Government could take upon itself at the present time. . . .

What is our principal achievement in the work of economic construction?

We are told that there are shortcomings in our constructive work. We are told that these shortcomings have not yet been eliminated. That is all true, comrades. There are many shortcomings in our mills and factories, as also in our administrative apparatus. It would be strange if there were no shortcomings, bearing in mind the colossal scale of the work we have undertaken. But the crux of the matter does not lie in these shortcomings. The crux of the matter now is that we have succeeded in starting the industrialisation of our country by our own efforts.

What does the industrialisation of our country mean? It means transforming an agrarian country into an industrial country. It means putting our industry on a new technical basis and developing it on that basis.

Nowhere in the world before has a huge and backward agrarian country been transformed into an industrial country without plundering colonies or foreign countries, or without big loans and long-term credits from abroad. Recall the history of the industrial development of Britain, Germany, America, and you will realise that this is so. Even America, the mightiest of all the capitalist countries, was obliged after the civil war to exert itself for not less than thirty or forty years in order to build up her industry with the help of loans and long-term credits from abroad and the plundering of neighbouring countries and islands.

Can we adopt this “tried and tested” course? No, we cannot, because the nature of the Soviet regime is such that it will not tolerate colonial robbery, and because we have no grounds for counting on large loans or long-term credits.

The old Russia, tsarist Russia, took a different road towards industrialization—by negotiating enslaving loans and by granting enslaving concessions for the main branches of our industry. You know that practically the whole of the Donbas, more than half the industry of St. Petersburg, the Baku oil-fields and a number of the railways, to say nothing of the electrical industry, were in the hands of foreign capitalists. That was industrialisation at the expense of the peoples of the U.S.S.R. and against the interests of the working class. It is obvious that we cannot adopt that course; we did not fight against the capitalist yoke, we did not overthrow capitalism, in order later to place ourselves voluntarily under the yoke of capitalism.

Only one course remains, that of accumulating our own funds, that of economising, that of thrifty management of our economy in order to accumulate the necessary resources for the industrialisation of our country. It goes without saying that that is a difficult task. But despite its difficulty, we are already accomplishing it. Yes, comrades, four years after the Civil War, we are already accomplishing this task. That is the point, comrades, and that is our principal achievement.

This year we are assigning 1,300 million rubles for the needs of industry. With that money we are building new plants and repairing old ones, installing new machinery, and increasing the numbers of the working class, We have thus reached a position where we are laying the foundation of a new industry on the basis of our own accumulations. We have reached a position where we are erecting the majestic edifice of a new, socialist industry with our own resources. That is our principal achievement, comrades.

It is said that this majestic edifice has certain defects—that the plastering is not what it should be, that here and there the wallpaper is peeling off, that in some corners there is litter that has not yet been swept up, and so on. All that is true. But is that the point, is that the chief thing? Is the majestic edifice of a new industry being erected, or is it not? Yes, it is. And is this edifice being built with our own resources, or is it not? Yes, with our own resources. Is it not clear that in the matter of economic construction, in the matter of industrialisation, we are already achieving the chief and principal things?

That is the basis of our achievements.

Some comrades are inclined to ascribe these successes exclusively to our Party. That, in fact, explains why some comrades praise our Party out of all proportion. It is to this, too, that must be attributed the fact that some Communists are disposed to brag and to become conceited—a weakness to which, unfortunately, our comrades are still given. Of course, the basically correct policy of our Party has played a very great part in achieving these successes. But the policy of our Party would not be worth a farthing, were it not for the truly friendly support it receives from the vast masses of non-Party workers. Indeed, our Party is strong precisely because it has the support of the masses of non-Party workers. That, comrades, should never be forgotten. (Stormy applause.)