That is how it should be, because a disease that has affected the Party and has been acknowledged in the resolutions of the general Party Conference exists, not in Moscow alone, but has spread throughout the entire republic. It is a result of the need to carry on political and military work, when we had to involve the peasant masses and were unable to increase our demands for a broader plan to raise the level of the peasant economy, and that of the mass of peasants.
Allow me in conclusion to say a few words about the situation within the Party, about the struggle and the appearance of an opposition, of which all those present are fully aware and which took up a great deal of energy and attention at the Moscow City and Gubernia Conference perhaps considerably more than we would have all liked. It is quite natural that the great transition now in progress at a time when all the forces drawn by the Republic from the proletariat and the Party during three years of struggle have been exhausted, has placed us in a difficult position in the face of a task to accurately assess which is beyond our powers. We have to acknowledge that we do not know the real extent of the evil, and that we cannot determine the relationships and the exact groupings. The Party Conference's main task is to raise the question, not cover up the existing evil, but to draw the Party's attention to it, and call on all Party members to work on remedying the evil. From the point of view of the Central Committee and also, I think, of the immense majority of Party comrades, it is perfectly natural and beyond doubt (as far as I am aware of the views, which nobody has repudiated), that in connection with the crisis in the Party the opposition which exists, not only in Moscow but throughout
Russia, reveals many tendencies that are absolutely healthy, necessary and inevitable at a time of the Party's natural growth and the transition from a situation in which all attention was concentrated on political and military tasks to a period of construction and organisation, when we have to take care of dozens of bureaucratic institutions, this at a time when the cultural level of the majority of the proletariat and the peasants is unequal to the task. After all, the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection exists more as a pious wish; it has been impossible to set it in motion because the best workers have been sent to the front, and the cultural level of the peasant masses is such that they have been unable to produce a sufficient number of officials.
Of course the opposition, whose slogan urges a more speedy transition, the enlistment of the greatest number of fresh and young forces and the promotion of local workers to more responsible posts, has extremely sound aspirations, trend and programme. No doubts on this score exist either in the Central Committee or among comrades who hold positions of any responsibility, as far as can be seen from their statements. It is, however, equally beyond doubt that, besides the sound elements which are united on the platform of fulfilment of Conference decisions, others also exist. At aIl meetings, including preliminary meetings attended by a larger number of delegates than this Conference, opinions on this question were unanimous. Our general Programme must be carried out -- that is beyond doubt, and difficult work awaits us. Of course, the important thing is not to confine ourselves to overthrowing the opponent and repelling him. Here we have petty-bourgeois elements surrounding us and numbering tens of millions. We are fewer in number; there are very few of us compared with this petty-bourgeois mass. We must educate this mass and prepare it, but it has so happened that all the organised forces engaged in such preparatory work have had to be directed elsewhere and employed in an undertaking that is essential, arduous and very risky, involving great sacrifices, i.e., warfare. War calls for every ounce of effort, and there is no getting away from this fact.
The question we must ask ourselves in connection with this state of affairs is; is the Party quite healthy again?
Have we a complete victory over bureaucratic methods so as to place economic construction on a more correct foundation, and get the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection operating, not only in the sense of issuing decrees but by actually drawing the masses of workers into the work? This is a difficult matter, and our main task -- if we are to speak of Party tasks -- must be the speediest possible elimination of the so-called line of the opposition. If this is a question of diverging views, differing interpretations of current events, different programmes or even of future activities, the Central Committee must devote the greatest attention to the matter at all meetings of the Political Bureau and at plenary meetings, where various shades of opinion are voiced. Harmonious work by the entire Party will ensure the accomplishment of this task. We regard this as a matter of the utmost importance. We now face an economic effort that is more taxing than the military task we have accomplished thanks to the enthusiasm of the peasants, who undoubtedly preferred the workers' state to that of Kolchak. Things are quite different today when the peasant masses have to be switched over to construction work that is quite unfamiliar to them, which they do not understand and cannot have any faith in. This task calls for more systematic work, greater perseverance, and greater organising skill, and so far as the latter quality is concerned, the Russian is not in the picture. This is our weakest point, so we must try rapidly to eliminate everything that hampers this work. The opposition, which is a reflection of this period of transition, no doubt contains a sound element, but when it turns into an opposition for the sake of opposition, we should certainly put an end to it. We have wasted a great deal of time on altercations, quarrels and recrimination and we must put an end to all that, and try to come to some agreement to work more effectively. We must make certain concessions, better greater than smaller, to those who are dissatisfied, who call themselves the opposition, but we must succeed in making our work harmonious, for otherwise we cannot exist when we are surrounded by enemies at home and abroad.
There can be no doubt that the old petty-bourgeois elements -- small property-owners -- outnumber us. They are
stronger than the socialist sector of an economy geared to meet the requirements of the workers. Anyone who has had contacts with the rural areas and has seen the speculation in the cities, realises perfectly well that this social sector, which is based on small-scale economy units is stronger than we are: hence the necessity of absolutely harmonious effort. We must achieve it at all costs. When I had occasion to observe the controversies and the struggle in the Moscow organisations, and saw the numerous debates at meetings, and the altercations, and quarrels there, I came to the conclusion that it was high time to put an end to all this and to achieve general unity on the Conference platform. It should be said that we have paid a heavy price for this. It was sad, for example, to see hours wasted at Party meetings on altercation as to whether someone had arrived at the meeting punctually or not, or whether a particular individual had made his stand clear in one way or another. Do people attend meetings for this sort of thing? For that we have a special commission, which decides whether or not an individual on the list of delegates has made his stand clear in one way or another. Here, however, it is a question of the content of the meeting. For instance, take an experienced Party comrade like Bubnov. I heard his speech on the platform proposed by the Conference. This platform boils down to greater freedom of criticism. The Conference, however, was held in September, and it is now November. Freedom of criticism is a splendid thing -- but once we are agreed on this, it would be no bad thing to concern ourselves with the content of criticism. For a long time the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries and others tried to scare us with freedom of criticism, but we were not afraid of that. If freedom of criticism means freedom to defend capitalism then we shall suppress it. We have passed that stage. Freedom of criticism has been proclaimed, but thought should be given to the content of criticism.
And here we have to admit something that is highly regrettable: criticism is devoid of content. You visit a district and ask yourself what criticism actually contains. The Party organisations cannot overcome illiteracy by using the old bureaucratic methods. What methods of defeating red tape are there other than bringing workers and peasants
into the work? Meanwhile, criticism at district meetings is concerned with trifles, and I have not heard a single word about the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. I have not heard of a single district encouraging workers and peasants to take part in this work. Genuine construction work means applying criticism which must be constructive. For instance, the management of every small block of flats, every large plant, every factory in Moscow must have its own experience. If we wish to combat bureaucratic methods, we must draw people from below into this work. We must acquaint ourselves with the experience of certain factories, learn what steps they have taken to remove their bureaucrats, and study the experience of a house management or of a consumers' society. A most rapid functioning of the entire economic machine is needed, but meanwhile you do not hear a word about this, although there is plenty of altercation and recrimination. Of course, such a gigantic upheaval could not have taken place without a certain amount of dirt and some scum coming to the surface. It is time we posed the question, not only of freedom of criticism but also of its content. It is time we said that, in view of our experience, we must make a number of concessions but that in future we shall not tolerate the slightest tendency to recrimination. We must break with the past, set about genuine economic construction, and completely overhaul all Party work so as to enable it to guide Soviet economic construction, ensure practical successes, and conduct propaganda more by example than by precept. Today neither the worker nor the peasant will be convinced by words; that can be done only by example. They have to be persuaded that they can improve the economy without the capitalists, and that conflicts can be abolished without the policeman's truncheon or capitalist starvation; for that they need Party leadership. This is the attitude we must adopt; if we do so, we shall achieve successes in future economic construction which will lead to our complete victory on a world-wide scale.