J. V. Stalin

Letter to Shinkevich

Source: Works, Vol. 9, December-July, 1927, pp. 194-195
Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow, 1954
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.

I apologise for being late in replying.

1) You refer to what Lenin said against vodka (see Vols. XXVI and XXVII 1). The Party’s Central Committee is familiar, of course, with what Lenin said. And if it agreed to introduce vodka, nevertheless, it was because it had Lenin’s consent to this, given in 1922.

Lenin did not consider it excluded that we might, with certain sacrifices on our part, arrive at a settlement on the debts with the bourgeois states and receive a substantial loan or substantial long-term credits. That was what he thought at the time of the Genoa Conference.2 With such an arrangement, there would have been no need, of course, to introduce vodka. But as that arrangement did not materialise, and as we had no money for industry, and without a certain minimum of monetary funds we could not count upon any satisfactory development of our industry—on the development of which the fate of our entire national economy depends—we, along with Lenin, came to the conclusion that vodka would have to be introduced.

Which was better: enslavement to foreign capital or introduction of vodka?—that was the question that faced us. Naturally, we decided on vodka, because we considered, as we still consider, that if we had to dirty our hands a little for the sake of the victory of the proletariat and the peasantry, we would resort even to this extreme expedient in the interests of our cause.

The question came up for discussion in the Central Committee of our Party in October 1924. Some members of the Central Committee objected to the introduction of vodka, without, however, indicating the sources from which we could derive the funds needed for industry. In reply to this, seven C.C. members, myself among them, submitted the following statement to the plenum of the Central Committee:

“In the summer of 1922 and the autumn of the same year (September), Comrade Lenin said several times to each of us that, since there was no hope of receiving a loan from abroad (failure of the Genoa Conference), it would be necessary to introduce a vodka monopoly, and that this was particularly necessary in order to create a minimum fund for the maintenance of the currency and the maintenance of industry. We consider it our duty to make a statement about all this in view of the fact that some comrades refer to earlier statements of Lenin on this subject.”

The plenum of the Central Committee of our Party decided to introduce a vodka monopoly.

2) As to your desire to “maintain contact with me by correspondence,” I am prepared to meet your wish, and ask you to write on such subjects as may interest you. It is possible that I shall reply with some delay. But I shall certainly reply.

With communist greetings,
J. Stalin
March 20, 1927

Published for the first time



1. See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, p. 403 and Vol. 33, p. 279

2. The international economic conference in Genoa (Italy) was held from April 10 to May 19, 1922. There took part in it, on the one hand, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and other capitalist states, and, on the other hand, Soviet Russia. The representatives of the capitalist countries presented to the Soviet delegation demands which, if conceded, would have meant transforming the Soviet country into a colony of West-European capital (the demand for payment of all war and pre-war debts, for restitution to foreigners of nationalised property formerly owned by them, etc.). The Soviet delegation rejected the claims of the foreign capitalists. For the Genoa Conference, see V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 33, pp. 186-200 and 235-38.