SPEECH IN THE ORGANISATION SECTION
Comrades, I have received a number of notes from delegates asking me to speak on this issue. I did not think there was any need for it, and I refrained from speaking until I received these invitations because I unfortunately have had no opportunity of acquiring a practical knowledge of work in the localities and it stands to reason that the knowledge obtained through work in the Council of People's Commissars is insufficient. I am, furthermore, in complete agreement with what Comrade Trotsky has said and shall, therefore, confine myself to some brief comments.
When the question was raised in the Council of People's Commissars of the state farms and their transfer to gubernia land departments, and when the question of chief administrations and central boards was raised, there was no doubt in my mind that there are more than a few counter-revolutionary elements in both types of institution. But when attempts are made to accuse the state farms of being particularly counter-revolutionary institutions it has always seemed to me, and still does, that it is missing the mark, for neither the state farms, nor the chief administrations and central boards, nor any kind of big industrial establishment, or, in general, any central or local organisation administering a branch of economy of any importance, can and does manage without solving the problem of the employment of bourgeois specialists. It seems to me that attacks on the chief administrations and boards, though fully justified because a thorough purge of them is needed, are nevertheless mistaken, because in the present case this type of institution is chosen
indiscriminately from a number of similar institutions. It is, however, as clear as daylight from the work of the Economic Council that on no account must the chief administrations and boards and the state farms be specially selected in this matter because all our Soviet work, whether in the military field, or in the health services, or in education, has everywhere been up against, and is still up against, problems of this sort. We cannot recast the state apparatus and train a sufficient number of workers and peasants to make them fully acquainted with the government of the state without the aid of the old specialists. This is the main lesson to be learned from all our organisational work, and this experience tells us that in all spheres, including the military sphere, the old specialists -- they are called old because of this -- cannot be taken from anywhere except from capitalist society. That society made possible the training of specialists from far too narrow strata of the population, those that belonged to the families of landowners and capitalists, with only an insignificant number of peasant origin and only from among the wealthy peasants at that. If, therefore, we take into consideration the situation in which those people grew up and that in which they are now working, it is absolutely inevitable that these specialists, i.e., those skilled in administration on a broad, national scale, are to nine-tenths permeated with old bourgeois views and prejudices and even in those cases when they are not downright traitors (and this is not something that happens occasionally but is a regular feature), even then they are not capable of understanding the new conditions, the new tasks and the new requirements. On these grounds friction, failures and disorder are apparent everywhere, in all commissariats.
It seems to me, therefore, that people are missing the mark when they shout about reactionaries in the state farms, chief administrations and boards, attempting to separate this question from the general one of how to teach a large number of workers and peasants to administrate on a broad national scale. We are doing this at a speed that, if you take into consideration the backwardness of the country and the difficulty of our conditions, is certainly unknown in world history. No matter how great that speed is, it still does not satisfy us, because our requirements in workers and peasants
capable of administrative work and acquainted with special branches of administration are tremendous and are not being met even ten, even one per cent. When we are told, or when it is demonstrated at meetings of the Council of People's Commissars, that the state farms everywhere are hiding-places for old landowners who are slightly disguised or are not disguised at all, that nests of the bureaucracy are being built there, and that similar things are often to be observed in chief administrations and central boards, I never doubt that it is true. But I did say that if you think you can remedy this evil by handing the state farms over to the gubernia land departments you are mistaken.
Why are there more counter-revolutionary elements left in the chief administrations and central boards and in the state farms than there are in the army? Why are there fewer of them among the military? Because greater attention was, on the whole, paid to the military sphere and more Communists, more workers and peasants were sent there, political departments worked on a broader scale there, in short, the influence of advanced workers and peasants on the entire military apparatus was broader, more profound and more regular. Owing to this we have succeeded, if not in eradicating the evil, at least in being close to eradicating it. To this, I say, the greatest attention should be paid.
We are taking only the first steps towards getting the state farms in close contact with the neighbouring peasants and with communist groups so that there will be commissars everywhere, not only in the army and not only on paper. No matter whether they will be called members of a collegium, assistant managers or commissars, there must be individual responsibility -- this and individual management are as necessary as collectivism is essential in discussing basic questions if there is to be no red tape and no opportunity to evade responsibility. We need people who will learn to administer independently in all cases. If this is done we shall overcome the evil in the best manner.
I am in complete agreement, let me say in conclusion, with Comrade Trotsky when he says that here many incorrect attempts have been made to present our disputes as being between workers and peasants and that the question of the administrations and boards has been woven into the question
of the dictatorship of the proletariat. In my opinion this is radically wrong. The question of the dictatorship of the proletariat may be raised when the issue is that of suppressing the bourgeoisie. Then we have to think about this question, then we need the dictatorship because only through it can we suppress the bourgeoisie and place power in the hands of that section of the working people that is capable of acting unwaveringly and attracting to itself ever greater numbers of the vacillating. In the present case we are not faced with anything of the sort. We are discussing how much more or how much less centralism is needed in a certain field at a certain moment. Since the comrades from the localities assure us (and Comrade Trotsky and many people's commissars confirm it) that in recent times in the gubernias and, to a considerable degree, in the uyezds, functionaries of a higher type have appeared (I am constantly hearing such an assertion also from Comrade Kalinin who has visited many places, and from comrades arriving here from the provinces), we shall have to take that into consideration and ask ourselves whether the matter of centralism is rightly understood in the present instance. I am sure we shall have to undertake a very great deal of this sort of correcting in the work of Soviet institutions. We are only now beginning to acquire organisational experience in this field. Insofar as we can see this experience from inside the Council of Defence and the Council of People's Commissars, it is quite obvious that it cannot be expressed by any figures and that it is impossible to talk about it in a short speech. We are sure, however, that in the localities work is being done in accordance with the general instructions of the central authorities. This has been achieved only in recent times.
This is by no means a question of a conflict between the dictatorship of the proletariat and other social elements. It is a matter of the experience of our Soviet organisational work, experience which, in my opinion, does not even concern the Constitution. Much has been said here about changes to the Constitution. But I do not think it has anything to do with this. The Constitution speaks of centralism as the basic principle. This basic principle is so indisputable for all of us (we all learned it from the impressive and even brutal object-lesson of Kolchak, Yudenich, Denikin and guer-
rilla bands) that here it cannot come into question. Nor does Comrade Sapronov reject the basic principle of centralism when it is a matter of granting a people's commissar or the Council of People's Commissars the right to challenge a candidate. It is not a constitutional question but one of practical convenience. We have to bring pressure to bear, first in one, then in another direction, in order to achieve positive results. When we are talking about gubernia state farm boards, or gubernia land departments, the stress is on placing them under the control of workers and neighbouring peasants. This is irrespective of whom they are subordinated to. It seems to me that no changes to the Constitution will ever enable you to kick out the hidden landowners or the disguised capitalists and bourgeois. We must introduce into our institutions a sufficient number of workers and peasants who are loyal beyond all doubt and who have practical experience as members of small collegiums, as assistants to some managers or as commissars. That's the crux of the matter! In this way you will have an ever greater number of workers and peasants who are learning to administer, and if they go through a complete schooling side by side with the old specialists they will take their places, carry out the same tasks and will train for our civil business, for the management of industry, for the direction of economic activities, a corps of officers to replace the personnel in the same way as that is being done in our war department. Therefore, I do not think there is any reason to proceed from considerations of principle as has here sometimes been the case; we must examine the question as one of practical experience and not as a constitutional one. If the majority of local functionaries, after an all-round discussion of the problem, come to the conclusion that gubernia state farm boards should be subordinated to the gubernia land departments -- so well and good, we'll experiment on those lines and then decide the issue from the point of view of practical experience. First of all, however, we have to decide whether we shall get rid of the disguised landowners in this way, whether we shall make better use of the specialists. Shall we in this way train a larger number of workers and peasants to take over the management themselves? Shall we be drawing the neighbouring peasantry into the practical check-up of the state farms?
Shall we be elaborating practical forms for that check-up? That is what really matters! If we solve these problems I do not think we shall have wasted our time and our labour. Let us try different systems in the different people's commissariats; let us establish one system for state farms, chief administrations and central boards and another for the army or the Commissariat of Health. Our job is to attract, by way of experiment, large numbers of specialists, then replace them by training a new officers' corps, a new body of specialists who will have to learn the extremely difficult, new and complicated business of administration. The forms this will take will not necessarily be identical. Comrade Trotsky was quite right in saying that this is not written in any of the books we might consider our guides, it does not follow from any socialist world outlook, it has not been determined by anybody's experience but will have to be determined by our own experience. It seems to me that in this respect we must pool experience of communist organisation and test it by its practical implementation, so that we shall fully determine how we must tackle the problems that confront us.
SPEECH DELIVERED ON THE CLOSING OF THE CONGRESS
(Prolonged applause. Delegates and visitors rise and applaud stormily for several minutes.) Comrades, I should like to say a few words apropos of the most important items we have dealt with at this Congress.
We had a brief discussion, comrades, on the question of democracy and Soviet power. Although it may seem at first glance that this discussion was far removed from the burning, practical, day-to-day problems of the Soviet Republic, I nevertheless think that it was far from useless. Comrades, in workers' organisations throughout the world and very often in bourgeois parliaments, and, in any case, during elections to bourgeois parliaments, there is today the same basic discussion on democracy -- which, although many people do not realise it, is the old bourgeois democracy -- and on the new, Soviet, power. Old or bourgeois democracy proclaims freedom and equality, equality irrespective of whether a person owns anything or not, irrespective of whether he is the owner of capital or not; it proclaims freedom for private owners to dispose of land and capital and freedom for those who have neither to sell their workers' hands to a capitalist.
Comrades, our Soviet power has made a determined break with that freedom and that equality which is a lie (applause) and has said to the working people that socialists who understand freedom and equality in the bourgeois way have forgotten the germ, the ABC and all the content of socialism. We, and all the socialists who have not yet betrayed socialism,
have always exposed the lies, fraud and hypocrisy of bourgeois society that talk about freedom and equality, or, at any rate, about the freedom and equality of elections, although actually the power of the capitalists, the private ownership of land and factories, predetermines not freedom but the oppression and deception of the working people under every possible kind of "democratic and republican" system.
We say that our aim, being the aim of world socialism, is the abolition of classes and that classes are groups of people, one of which lives by the labour of another, one of which appropriates the labour of another. And so, if we are to speak of that freedom and that equality we shall have to admit, as most of the working people in Russia do, that no other country has as yet given as much in such a short time for real freedom and real equality, no other country has, in such a short time, given the working people freedom from the main class that oppresses them, the class of landowners and capitalists, and no other country has granted such equality in respect of the chief means of subsistence, the land. It is along this road, that of emancipation from the exploiting bourgeois classes up to the complete abolition of the classes, that we have begun and are continuing a resolute struggle for the complete abolition of classes. We know full well that those classes have been defeated but not destroyed. We know full well that the landowners and capitalists have been defeated but not destroyed. The class struggle continues, and the proletariat, together with the poor peasantry, must continue the struggle for the complete abolition of classes, attracting to their side all those who stand in the middle, and by their entire experience, their example of struggle they must ensure that all those who until now have stood in the ranks of the wavering are attracted to their side.
Comrades, going over to the business of our Congress, I must say that the Seventh Congress, is the first that has, been able to devote a lot of time to the practical tasks of organisation, for the first time we have succeeded in making a start on a practical discussion, based directly on practical experience, of those tasks that concern the better organisation of Soviet economy and the better organisation of Soviet government.
We have, of course, had too little time to deal with this problem in great detail but we have, nevertheless, done a lot here, and all the further work of the Central Executive Committee and of the comrades in the localities will follow the lines laid down here.
In conclusion, comrades, I should like to make special mention of the way the present Congress is to become effective insofar as our international situation is concerned.
Comrades, we have here repeated our peace proposal to all the powers and countries of the Entente. We have here expressed confidence based on experience that is already very rich and of a very serious nature -- our confidence that the main difficulties are behind us and that we are undoubtedly emerging victorious from the war forced on us by the Entente, the war that we have been fighting for two years against an enemy considerably stronger than we are.
But I think, comrades, that the appeal we have just heard from a representative of our Red Army was nevertheless very timely. If the main difficulties have been left behind, comrades, we have to admit that ahead of us, too, organisational tasks are developing on an extremely broad scale. There can be no doubt that there are still very influential and very strong capitalist groups, groups that are obviously dominant in many countries and that have decided to continue the war against Soviet Russia to the end, cost what it may. There can be no doubt that now we have achieved a certain decisive victory we shall have to devote additional efforts, we shall have to bend still greater effort in order to exploit that victory and carry it through to the end. (Applause.)
Comrades, there are two things you must not forget -- first, our general weakness connected, perhaps, with the Slav character -- we are not stable enough, not persistent enough in pursuing the aims we set ourselves -- and secondly, experience has shown, once in the East and again in the South, that in a decisive moment we were unable to press hard enough on a fleeing enemy and have allowed him to rise to his feet again. There can be not a shadow of doubt that governments and the military classes of Western Europe are now drawing up new plans to save Denikin. There cannot be the slightest doubt that they will try to increase tenfold the
aid they have been giving him because they realise how great is the danger threatening him from Soviet Russia. We must, therefore, tell ourselves at a time when the victories are beginning, as we did in times of difficulty, "Comrades, remember that it may now depend on a few weeks or perhaps two or three months whether we end this war, not merely with a decisive victory, but with the complete destruction of the enemy, or whether we shall condemn tens and hundreds of thousands of people to a lengthy and tormenting war. On the basis of the experience we have acquired we can now say with full confidence that if we can redouble our efforts the possibility of not only achieving a final victory, but also of destroying the enemy and gaining for ourselves a durable and lengthy peace depends on a few weeks or on two or three months. . . ."
Therefore, comrades, I should like more than anything to ask each of you on arriving in your locality to present this question to every Party organisation, to every Soviet institution and to every meeting of workers and peasants -- comrades, this winter campaign will most certainly lead to the complete destruction of the enemy if we, encouraged by success and by the clear prospects for Soviet development that now open up before us, regard the forthcoming weeks and months as a period of hard work in which we must re-double our war effort and other work connected with it, and we shall then in the shortest time destroy the enemy, and put an end to the Civil War, which will open up before us the possibility for peaceful socialist construction for a long time. (Applause.)