V. I. Lenin


Written in March-April 1918        Published on April 28, 1918        
in Pravda No. 83        
and Izvestia VTsIK No.85        
Signed: N. Lenin        

Published according to
the text of the pamphlet:
N. Lenin, The Immediate
Task of the Soviet Government

2nd ed., Moscow, 1918,
collated with the manuscript

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965

Vol. 27, pp. 235-77.

Translated from the Russian
by Clemens Dutt
Edited by Robert Daglish

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, (June 1997)



The International Position of the Soviet Government and
  the Fundamental Tasks of the Socialist Revolution   .   .
The General Slogan of the Moment .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
The New Phase of the Struggle Against the Bourgeoisie .   .
The Significance of the Struggle for Country-wide
  Accounting and Control   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Raising the Productivity of Labour   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
The Organisation of Competition  .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
"Harmonious Organisation" and Dictatorship .  .   .   .   .   .
The Development of Soviet Organisation .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Conclusion   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .



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      [99] In the manuscript, Lenin's work The Immediate rasks of the Soviet Gouernment was headed "Theses on the Tasks of the Soviet Government in the Present Situation". Lenin's theses were discussed at a meeting of the Party Central Committee on April 26, 1918.

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    The Central Committee unanimously approved them and passed a decision to have them published as an article in Pravda and Izvestia, and also as a separate pamphlet. In 1918 the pamphlet went through more than ten editions, in Moscow, Petrograd, Saratov, Kazan, Tambov and other cities of Russia. It was published in the same year in English in New York, and in French in Geneva; an abridged version in German, edited by F. Platten, appeared in Zurich under the title Am Tage nach der Revolution.
        The Central Committee instructed Lenin to give a report on the immediate tasks of the Soviet government at a meeting of the All-Russia C.E.C. and to formulate the Theses briefly as a resolution (see this volume, pp. 314-17).    [p.235]

      [100] Bogayevsky, M. P. (1881-1918) -- counter-revolutionary leader and organiser of the civil war against Soviet power on the Don. He was defeated and surrendered in the spring of 1918.    [p.242]

      [101] On November 18 (December 1), 1917 the Council of People's Commissars, acting on a proposal made by Lenin, passed a decision "On the Remuneration of People's Commissars and Senior Government Employees and Officials" (published on November 23 [December 6], 1917 in No. 16 of the Newspaper of the Provisional Workers' and Peasants' Government ). Drafted by Lenin it fixed the maximum monthly salary of a People's Commissar at 500 rubles with an additional 100 rubles for every member of his family unable to work. This corresponded roughly to the worker's average monthly wage. On January 2 (15),1918, in answer to an inquiry from the People's Commissar for Labour A. G Shlyapnikov, the Council of People's Commissars issued a decision written by Lenin explaining that the Decree of November 18 (December 1), 1917 fixed no limit for the payment of experts and thus sanctioned higher remuneration for scientific and technical experts.    [p.249]

      [102] Control over foreign trade was initiated in the early days of Soviet power. At first this was handled by the Petrograd Revolutionary Military Committee, which considered applications for the import and export of goods and supervised the work of the customs. By a decree of the Council of People's Commissars of December 29 1917 (January 11, 1918) foreign trade was placed under the control of the People's Commissariat for Trade and Industry. This kind of control and customs inspection, however, was not enough to protect the Soviet economy from foreign capital. Lenin emphasised later that the working class of Soviet Russia "would be totally unable to build up its own industry and make Russia an industrial country without the protection, not of tariffs, but of the monopoly of foreign trade" (see V. I. Lenin, On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet State, Moscow, p. 424). In December 1917 Lenin proposed introducing a state monopoly on foreign trade, a decree on which was passed by the Council of People's Commissars on April 22, 1918 (see Decrees of the Soviet Government, Russ. ed., Vol. 2, 1959, pp. 158-60).    [p.252]

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      [103] In the first months of Soviet power indemnities and special taxes were one of the principal sources of revenue, particularly in the provinces. When Soviet power became more firmly establisiled the question arose of how to devise a regular system of taxation based primarily on a progressive income tax and a property tax which would make it possible to place the main burden of taxation on the well-to-do sections of the population. At the First All-Russia Congress of Representatives of the Financial Departments of the Soviets, Lenin pointed out: "We have many plans in this sphere and have cleared the ground on which to build the foundation, but the actual foundation of that building has not yet been built. The time for this has now come" (see this volume, pp. 384-85). The Congress accepted Lenin's proposal on the need to introduce an income tax and property tax and elected a special commission to draw up the requisite Statute on the basis of Lenin's theses.
        On June 17,1918 the Council of People's Commissars approved the Decree on the Amendment of the Decree of November 24, 1917 on the Levying of Direct Taxes, which laid down a strict system of income and property taxation (see Decrees of the Soviet Government, Russ. ed., Vol. 2, 1959, pp. 441-43).    [p.253]

      [104] Decree on Consumers' Co-operative Societies was passed by the Council of People's Commissars on April 10, 1918, approved at a meeting of the All-Russia C.E.C. on April 11, and published over Lenin's signature in Pravda No. 71 of April 13 and Izvestia VTsIK No. 75 of April 16.
        The first draft of the decree, written by Lenin, was worked out in detail by the People's Commissariat for Food and published on January 19 (February 1) in Izvestia TsIK No. 14. The draft decree was bitterly opposed by bourgeois co-operators, who insisted that co-operative societies should be independent of the organs of Soviet power. In order to use the existillg co-operative apparatus for accounting and control of the distribntion of foodstuffs the Council of People's Commissars made several concessions during its negotiations with bourgeois co-operators (March to the beginning of April 1918). On April 9 and 10 the C.P.C. discussed the draft decree proposed by the co-operators. Lenin revised the draft considerably (he rewrote points 11, 12 and 13), and the decree with his amendments was passed by the Council of People's Commissars, and then by the All-Russia C.E.C.    [p.255]

      [105] The organisation of social production on socialist principles made it necessary to draw up new internal regulations for the nationalised enterprises, and new regulations on labour discipline and on enrolling all able-bodied persons for socially useful work. These questions acquired special importance in the period of the peaceful breathing-space in the spring of 1918.
        The first regulations concerning labour discipline were worked out by the Soviet trade unions in conjunction with managerial

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    bodies. They were discussed at a number of meetings of the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council with representatives of the central organs of the trade unions taking part. On March 27 the Presidium of the Supreme Economic Council after a debate in which Lenin participated passed a decision charging the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions with the task of drawing up a general statute on labour discipline. On April 1, with Lenin taking part, the Presidium examined the draft resolution on labour discipline drawn up by the A.C.C.T.U. and proposed that it should be re-worded as a decree, taking into account Lenin's remarks and suggestions. The re-worded Statute on Labour Discipline passed by the A.C.C.T.U. on April 3 was published in the magazine Narodnoye Khozyaistvo No. 2, for April 1918. In this statute the A.C.C.T.U. stated that strict regulations regarding internal management should be introduced at all state-owned enterprises, that output quotas and account of labour productivity should be established, that piece-work and a system of bonuses for exceeding output quotas should be introduced, and that stern action should be taken against those who violated labour discipline. On the basis of the Statute speciflc internal regulations were drawn up at factories and these played an important part in the organisation of socialist industry.
        The Central Committee of the Metalworkers' Union was one of the first to carry out Lenin's instructions on raising labour productivity by introducing a system of piece-work and bonuses. When the question of improving labour discipline was discussed by the A.C.C.T.U. representatives of the Central Committee of the Metalworkers' Union got the thesis on the need for piece rates included in the resolution submitted on April 1 for consideration by the Presidium of the Supremc Economic Council. In April, on the basis of the decisions taken by the A.C.C.T.U. the Central Committee of the Metalworkers' Union instructed all the lower organisations of the union to adopt piece-work and the bonus system in the metal industry.    [p.258]

      [106] After the October Revolution piece-work was almost everywhere superseded by a time system of payment, which had an adverse effect on labour productivity and labour discipline.
        The introduction of piece-work, which came closest to the socialist principle of "to each according to his work", began at the first nationalised enterprises. During the period of respite, piece work was widely adopted in industry. By July 1918, for instance, a quarter of the workers of Petrograd went over to piece-work. The principle of payment according to the piece was finally endorsed by the pubucation in December 1918 of the Soviet Labour Code.    [p.258]

      [107] This refers to the right protected by bourgeois law to keep secret all production, trade and financial operations and also all the relevant documents at private capitalist enterprises.

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        In his work The Impending Catastrophe and How to Combat It Lenin showed that commercial secrecy in the hands of the bourgeoisie was "an instrument for concealing financial swindles and the fantastically high profits of big capital" (see present edition, Vol. 25, p. 339), and showed why commercial secrecy should be abolished. The resolution of the Sixth Congress of the R.S.D.L.P.(B.) "On the Economic Situation" demanded the abolition of commercial secrecy as an essential measure for making workers' control effective (see The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenums of the Central Committee, Part 1, Russ. ed., 1954, p. 378). After the October Revolution commercial secrecy was abolished by the Statute on Workers' Control passed by the All-Russia C.E.C. and the Council of People's Commissars on November 14 (27), 1917.    [p.260]

      [108] The reference is to the decree of the Council of People's Commissars "On Centralisation of Management, Protection of Roads and the Improvement of Their Carrying Capacity" (see Decrees of the Soviet Government, Vol. 2 Russ. ed., 1959, pp. 18-20). Having considered on March 18, 1918 the draft decree proposed by the People's Commissariat for Ways of Communication on non-interference by various institutions in the affairs of the Railway Department, the Council of People's Commissars instructed a special commission to revise the decree on the basis of the following theses put forward by Lenin: (1) Considerable centralisation. (2) Appointment of responsible executives at every local centre as elected by the railway organisations. (3) Unquestioning obedience to their orders. (4) Dictatorial rights to be given to the military detachments for maintaining order. (5) Steps to be taken immediately to take account of rolling stock and its whereabouts. (6) Steps to be taken to set up a technical department. (7) Fuel.
        Lenin made several important amendments to the draft, which was submitted by the commission and considered at a meeting of the Council of People's Commissars on March 21, before being approved by the government. In view of the hostilily with which the decree was greeted by the All-Russia Executive Committee of Railwaymen (Vikzhedor), which was strongly influenced by the Mensheviks and the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, the People's Commissariat for Ways of Communication on March 23 proposed amending the decree at a meeting of the Council of People's Commissars. The representatives of Vikzhedor who attended the meeting attacked the decree on the grounds that it meant the "destruction of the role of Vikzhedor and its replacement by the individual authority of a Commissar". Arguing against the opponents of the decree, Lenin explained the need for taking the very firmest measures to eliminate sabotage and inefficiency on the railways and introduced amendments making the decree even more categorical. With these amendments the decree was finally approved by the government on March 23 and published over Lenin's signature on March 26 in No. 57 of Izvestia VTsIK.    [p.267]

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      [109] Vperyod (Forward ) -- a Menshevik daily newspaper, which began to appear in March 1917 in Moscow as the organ of the Moscow organisation of Mensheviks, and subsequently as the organ of the committees of the R.S.D.L.P. (Mensheviks) of the Moscow organisation and the Central Region On April 2, 1918 the newspaper became the organ of the Mensheviks' Central Committee as well, and L. Martov, F. I. Dan and A. S. Martynov joined its editorial board, It was banned for its counter-revolutionary activities in February 1919 by decision of the All-Russia C.E.C.    [p.269]

      [110] Nash Vek (Our Age ) -- one of the names of the newspaper Rech, the central organ of the counter-revolutionary party of the Constitutional-Democrats. After it had been banned by a decision of the Petrograd Revolutionary Military Committee of October 26 (November 8), 1917, the newspaper continued to appear until August 1918 under various names: Nasha Rech (Our Speech ), Svobodnaya Rech (Free Speech ), Vek (Age ), Novaya Rech (New Speech ) and Nash Vek.    [p.269]

      [111] Lenin is referring to and quoting from Anti-Dühring by F. Engels, Section Three. Socialism. Chapter II. Theoretical.    [p.273]

      [112] Chernyshevsky describes Turgenev's attitude to Dobrolyubov and himself in an account of a conversation he had with Turgenev in the early sixties of the last century (see the article "An Expression of Gratitude" in Complete Collected Works by N. G. Chernyshevsky, Vol. 10, Russ. ed., Moscow, 1951, pp. 122-23).    [p.274]