J. V. Stalin
Source: Works, Vol. 11, January, 1928 to March, 1929
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.
Frumkin's letter of June 15, 1928, deserves attentive consideration.
Let us examine it point by point.
1. Incorrect, in the first place, is Frumkin's appraisal of the international position of the U.S.S.R. It is the generally accepted opinion in the Party that the reason for the growth of the contradictions between the U.S.S.R. and its capitalist encirclement, the reason for the offensive of the capitalist states against the U.S.S.R., is the growth of the socialist elements in the U.S.S.R., the growth of the U.S.S.R.'s influence on the working class in all countries and, hence, the danger which the developing U.S.S.R. represents for capitalism. That is precisely the way the Fifteenth Congress of our Party understood it, in saying in its resolution on the report of the Central Committee: "The contradictions between the countries of the bourgeois encirclement and the U.S.S.R., whose victorious development is undermining the foundations of world capitalism, have grown more acute. The chief factors contributing to this increasing acuteness are the growth of the socialist elements in the U.S.S.R., the collapse of the hopes of the bourgeoisie that the proletarian dictatorship would degenerate, coupled with the increasing international and revolutionary influence of the U.S.S.R."* 1
We know that the Party elaborated this standpoint not casually and incidentally, but in the course of a desperate struggle against the opposition, who openly asserted that the reason for the offensive of imperialism against the U.S.S.R. was the weakening of the U.S.S.R. owing to its being in process of degeneration.
Frumkin, however, fundamentally disagrees with the standpoint of the Party. He asserts that, on the contrary, "the basic and decisive factor determining the offensive of the capitalist world against the U.S.S.R. is that we are growing weaker, politically and economically."
What can there be in common between these two opposite estimates, one of which emanates from Frum-kin and the other from the Fifteenth Congress of our Party?
2. Even more incorrect is Frumkin's estimate of the internal situation in the U.S.S.R. Reading Frumkin's letter, one might think that the Soviet regime is on its last legs, that the country is on the verge of the abyss and that the downfall of the U.S.S.R. is a matter of only a few months, if not of a few days. The only thing he omitted to say is that we have "sung our swan song."
We are accustomed to hearing the wailing of intellectuals about the "doom" of the U.S.S.R. coming from the lips of the oppositionists. But is it seemly for Frumkin to follow the example of the opposition?
It would be incorrect, of course, to underestimate the importance of our difficulties. But it would be even more incorrect to overestimate their importance, to lose our balance and succumb to panic. Undoubtedly, the kulak is furious with the Soviet Government: it would be strange to expect him to be friendly towards it. Undoubtedly, the kulak has an influence on a certain section of the poor and middle peasants. But to conclude from this that the sentiment of the majority of the poor and middle peasants is against the Soviet Government, that "this sentiment is already beginning to spread to the working-class centres," is to lose one's head and succumb to panic. It is with truth that the proverb says: "Fear has big eyes."
One can imagine in what a state Frumkin would be if we had today not our present, but more serious difficulties—a war, say, when vacillations of every kind would have a wide "field of action."
3. Frumkin is absolutely wrong when he states that "the deterioration in our economic position has grown sharper owing to the new political line in relation to the countryside after the Fifteenth Congress." This evidently refers to the measures taken by the Party at the beginning of this year to improve grain procurements. Frumkin regards these measures as harmful, as having caused a "deterioration" in our position.
It follows that the April plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. was wrong when it established that
a) "the grain procurement difficulties were connected with the difficulties arising from the swift rate of industrialisation of the country dictated to the proletarian state by the entire international and internal situation, and with the errors committed in the planned direction of the economy," that
b) "the aggravation of the disproportion in market relations (between rural effective demand on the one hand, and the supply of manufactured goods on the other) is due to the increased incomes of the rural population, and especially of its well-to-do and kulak sections" (and not to the Party's measures—J. St.), and that
c) "the difficulties were aggravated and complicated by the endeavour of the kulak section of the rural population and the speculators to take advantage of them in order to force up grain prices and to disrupt the Soviet price policy"* (and not by the Party's measures—J. St.).
It follows that the April plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. was wrong when it declared in its resolution on grain procurements that "the above-mentioned measures of the Party, which were in part of an emergency character, ensured very great successes in increasing grain procurements."* 2
It follows, then, that Frumkin is right, and the April plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. is wrong!
Who, after all, is right—Frumkin or the plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C.?
Let us turn to the facts.
What was the position at the beginning of January of this year? We had a deficit of 128,000,000 poods of grain as compared with last year.
How were the procurements being carried out at that time? By letting them proceed of their own accord, without any emergency measures being taken by the Party, without any active interference by the Party in the procurements.
What resulted from letting things go of their own accord and not exerting any pressure? A deficit of 128,000,000 poods of grain.
What would the results be now if the Party had followed Frumkin's advice and had not interfered, if the deficit of 128,000,000 poods of grain had not been made good before the spring, before the spring sowing? Our workers would now be going hungry, there would be hunger in the industrial centres, a break-down of our constructive work, hunger in the Red Army.
Could the Party refrain from interfering and not go to the length of applying emergency measures? Obviously, it could not have acted otherwise than it did.
What follows from this? It follows that our entire national economy would now be in a most dangerous crisis if we had not interfered in the matter of grain procurements in good time.
There can be only one conclusion, and that is that Frumkin is absolutely wrong in coming out against the decisions of the April plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. and in demanding their revision.
4. Frumkin is absolutely wrong when he says: "We must return to the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Party Congresses." We have no need to return to the Fifteenth Congress, for the Party stands fully and entirely by the decisions of the Fifteenth Congress. But Frumkin demands a return to the Fourteenth Congress. What does that mean? Does it not mean obliterating the whole path we have travelled and going backward instead of forward?
The Fifteenth Party Congress says in its resolution on "Work in the Countryside" that, in the interest of socialist development in the countryside, we must wage a "more resolute offensive against the kulak." 3 The Fourteenth Party Congress did not say this, and could not have said it in the conditions of that time. What, in that case, can Frumkin's demand for a "return to the Fourteenth Congress" mean? It can mean only one thing, namely, renunciation of the policy of a "more resolute offensive against the kulak."
It follows that Frumkin's demand that we return to the Fourteenth Congress would lead to renunciation of the decisions of the Fifteenth Party Congress.
The Fifteenth Party Congress says in its resolution on "Work in the Countryside" that "in the present period, the task of uniting and transforming the small individual peasant farms into large collective farms must be made the Party's principal task in the countryside." 4 The Fourteenth Party Congress did not say this, and could not have said it in the conditions of that time. It could be said only by the time of the Fifteenth Congress, when, parallel with the old and unquestionably obligatory task of developing individual small- and middle-peasant farming, we were faced with the new practical task of developing collective farms, as farms producing large marketable surpluses.
What, in that case, can be meant by Frumkin's demand for a "return to the Fourteenth Congress"? It can mean only one thing: renunciation of the new practical task of developing collective farms. This, indeed, explains the fact that for the practical task of developing collective farms, Frumkin substitutes the artful task of rendering "maximum assistance to the poor peasants entering collectives."
It follows, therefore, that Frumkin's demand for a return to the Fourteenth Congress would lead to renunciation of the decisions of the Fifteenth Congress.
The Fifteenth Party Congress says in its resolution on "Directives for Drafting a Five-Year Plan for the National Economy" that "it is necessary at the present time to give greater support to all viable forms of producers' co-operatives (communes, collective farms, artels, producers' co-operatives, co-operative factories, etc.), as well as to state farms, which must be raised to a higher level."* 5 The Fourteenth Party Congress did not say this, and could not have said it in the conditions of that time. It could be said only by the time of the Fifteenth Congress, when, parallel with the tasks of developing individual small- and middle-peasant farming on the one hand, and of developing collective farms on the other, we were faced with another new practical task, the task of developing state farms, as units producing the largest marketable surpluses.
What, in that case, can be meant by Frumkin's demand for a "return to the Fourteenth Congress"? It can mean only one thing: renunciation of the policy of "raising the state farms to a higher level." This, indeed, explains why for the positive task of developing state farms, as laid down by the Fifteenth Congress, Frumkin substitutes a negative task, namely, that "state farms should not be expanded by shock or super-shock tactics," although Frumkin cannot help knowing that here the Party is not setting itself, and cannot set itself, any "super-shock" tasks, because we are only just beginning seriously to approach the question of organising new state farms.
Again it follows that Frumkin's demand for a return to the Fourteenth Congress leads to renunciation of the decisions of theFifteenfhCongress.
In view of all this, what value can be attached to Frumkin's assertion that the C.C. has "departed" from the decisions of the Fifteenth Congress? Would it not be truer to say that Frumkin's whole letter is a badly camouflaged attempt to nullify the Fifteenth Congress decisions on a number of highly important questions?
Is it not this that explains Frumkin's assertion that the resolution of the April plenum of the C.C. and C.C.C. on grain procurements is "half-hearted and ambiguous"? Would it not be truer to say that the resolution of the plenum is correct, and that it is Frumkin himself who is beginning to see things "ambiguously" because of a certain "half-heartedness" in his position?
Frumkin's basic mistake is that he sees only one task, that of stimulating individual peasant farming, believing that our attitude towards agriculture is in the main restricted to this.
His mistake is that he does not understand the new thing that the Party gave us at its Fifteenth Congress; he does not understand that we cannot now restrict ourselves to the one task of stimulating individual peasant farming, that this task must be supplemented by two new practical tasks: that of developing state farms and that of developing collective farms.
Frumkin does not understand that if the first task is not combined with the two others, we shall not be able to make good either in the matter of supplying the state with marketable grain, or in the matter of organising the entire national economy on socialist lines.
Does this mean that we are already laying the principal stress on the state farms and collective farms? No, it does not. At the present stage, the principal stress must still be laid on raising the level of individual small-and middle-peasant farming. But it does mean that this task alone is no longer enough. It means that the time has come when this task must be practically supplemented by two new tasks—the development of collective farms and the development of state farms.
5. Absolutely incorrect is Frumkin's remark that "the outlawing of the kulak has led to lawless actions against the entire peasantry."
In the first place, it is not true that the kulak has been "outlawed."
In the second place, if there is any meaning at all in Frumkin's words, it can only be that he is demanding that the Party should restore "rights of citizenship" to the kulak, should restore political rights to the kulak (the right, say, to take part in elections to the Soviets, etc.).
Does Frumkin think that the Party and the Soviet Government would gain by abolishing the restrictions on the kulaks? How can Frumkin's "state of mind" be reconciled with the Fifteenth Congress decision to wage a "more resolute offensive against the kulak"?
Does Frumkin think that weakening the fight against the kulak will strengthen our alliance with the middle peasant? Does it not occur to Frumkin that restoration of rights to the kulak would only facilitate the latter's efforts to sever the middle peasant from us?
In view of all this, what value can be attached to Frumkin's talk about alliance with the middle peasant?
Of course, it would be wrong to deny the infringement of laws by some of our officials in the countryside. It would be still more wrong to deny that, because of the clumsy way some of our officials are waging the fight against the kulak, blows intended for the kulak sometimes fall on the heads of the middle peasants, and even of the poor peasants. Unquestionably, a most resolute struggle is necessary against such distortions of the Party line. But how can it be concluded from this that the fight against the kulak must be relaxed, that restriction of the kulak's political rights must be renounced, and so on?
6. Frumkin is right when he says that you cannot fight the kulaks by means of dekulakisation, as certain of our local officials are doing. But he is mistaken if he thinks that he has said anything new by this. To blame Comrade Molotov or Comrade Kubyak for these distortions, as Frumkin does, and to assert that the Party is not combating such distortions, is to commit the gravest injustice and to be guilty of unpardonable bad temper.
7. Frumkin is right when he says that we must open peasant markets, the grain market. But be is mistaken if he thinks that he has said anything new by this. In the first place, the Party never was in favour of closing the peasant markets. In the second place, Frumkin cannot help knowing that, since closing of peasant markets did take place in certain districts, the centre promptly ordered the local organisations to reopen them immediately and to put a stop to such distortions. We know that this decision of the centre was circulated to the localities already towards the end of May (May 26), that is, two weeks before the appearance of Frumkin's letter. Frum-kin could not help knowing this. Was it then worth while "knocking at an open door"?
8. Frumkin is right when he says that grain prices must be raised and that the fight against illicit distilling must be intensified. But, again, it would be strange to think that Frumkin has made some new discovery. The fight against illicit distilling has been going on since January of this year. It must and will be intensified, although Frumkin cannot but know that it will cause discontent in the countryside. As to raising grain prices, Frumkin cannot but know that a decision to raise grain prices at the beginning of the next procurement year was taken by the Political Bureau in February of this year, that is, four months before the appearance of Frumkin's letter. Once again: was it worth while "knocking at an open door" with regard to raising prices?
9. At first glance it might appear that Frumkin's letter was composed with a view to defending the alliance with the middle peasant. But that is only an appearance. Actually, Frumkin's letter is a plea on behalf of making things easier for the kulak, a plea on behalf of abolishing the restrictions on the kulak. No one who desires to strengthen the alliance with the middle peasant can demand that the struggle against the kulak should be relaxed.
To ensure a stable alliance with the middle peasant is a most important task of our Party. But such an alliance can be ensured only if a resolute fight is waged against the kulak, only if the poor peasant is made the bulwark of the proletariat in the countryside, and, finally, only if we are ready and able to come to a lasting agreement with the middle peasant, one capable of reinforcing the alliance with him and strengthening the position of the proletariat in the struggle for socialist construction.
Our policy in this field must aim not at a relaxation of the struggle against the capitalist elements in the countryside, but at "agreement between the proletariat and the middle peasantry," at "a long period of collaboration with the middle peasantry," at "alliance and agreement between the victorious proletariat and the middle peasantry" (see the resolution of the Eighth Party Congress on "The Attitude to the Middle Peasantry"). 6
June 20, 1928
* My italics. — J. Stalin
1. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 315.
2.. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, pp. 372-80.
3. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953
4. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 355.
5. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part II, 1953, p. 342.
6. See Resolutions and Decisions of C.P.S.U. Congresses, Conferences and Central Committee Plenums, Part I, 1953, pp. 447, 448.