Comrades, I must first of all apologise for departing from the rules of procedure, for anyone wishing to take part in the debate should have heard the report, the second report and the speeches. I am so unwell, unfortunately, that I have been unable to do this. But I was able yesterday to read the principal printed documents and to prepare my remarks. This departure from the rules will naturally cause you some inconvenience; not having heard the other speeches, I may go over old ground and leave out what should be dealt with. But I had no choice.
Trade unions are not just historically necessary; they are historically inevitable as an organisation of the industrial proletariat, and, under the dictatorship of the proletariat, embrace nearly the whole of it. This is basic, but Comrade Trotsky keeps forgetting it; he neither appreciates it nor makes it his point of departure, all this while dealing With "The Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions", a subject of infinite compass.
It follows from what I have said that the trade unions have an extremely important part to play at every step of the dictatorship of the proletariat. But what is their part? I find that it is a most unusual one, as soon as I delve into this question, which is one of the most fundamental theoretically. On the one hand, the trade unions, which take in all industrial workers, are an organisation of the ruling, dominant, governing class, which has now set up a dictatorship and is exercising coercion through the state. But it is not a state organisation; nor is it one designed for coercion, but for education. It is an organisation designed to draw in and to train; it is, in fact, a school: a school of administration, a school of economic management, a school of communism. It is a very unusual type of school, because there are no teachers or pupils; this is an extremely unusual combination of what has necessarily come down to us from capitalism, and what comes from the ranks of the advanced revolutionary detachments, which you might call the revolutionary vanguard of the proletariat. To talk about the role of the trade unions without taking these truths into account is to fall straight into a number of errors.
Within the system of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the trade unions stand, if I may say so, between the Party and the government. In the transition to socialism the dictatorship of the proletariat is inevitable, but it is not exercised by an organisation which takes in all industrial workers. Why not? The answer is given in the theses of the Second Congress of the Communist International on the role of political parties in general. I will not go into this here. What happens is that the Party, shall we say, absorbs the vanguard of the proletariat, and this vanguard exercises the dictatorship of the proletariat. The dictatorship cannot be exercised or the functions of government performed without a foundation such as the trade unions. These functions, however, have to be performed through the medium of special institutions which are also of a new type, namely, the Soviets. What are the practical conclusions to be drawn from this peculiar situation? They are, on the one hand, that the trade unions are a link between the vanguard and the masses, and by their daily work bring conviction to the masses, the masses of the class
which alone is capable of taking us from capitalism to communism. On the other hand, the trade unions are a "reservoir" of the state power. This is what the trade unions are in the period of transition from capitalism to communism. In general, this transition cannot be achieved without the leadership of that class which is the only class capitalism has trained for large-scale production and which alone is divorced from the interests of the petty proprietor. But the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised through an organisation embracing the whole of that class, because in all capitalist countries (and not only over here, in one of the most backward) the proletariat is still so divided, so degraded, and so corrupted in parts (by imperialism in some countries) that an organisation taking in the whole proletariat cannot directly exercise proletarian dictatorship. It can be exercised only by a vanguard that has absorbed the revolutionary energy of the class. The whole is like an arrangement of cogwheels. Such is the basic mechanism of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and of the essentials of transition from capitalism to communism. From this alone it is evident that there is something fundamentally wrong in principle when Comrade Trotsky points, in his first thesis, to "ideological confusion", and speaks of a crisis as existing specifically and particularly in the trade unions. If we are to speak of a crisis, we can do so only after analysing the political situation. It is Trotsky who is in "ideological confusion", because in this key question of the trade unions' role, from the standpoint of transition from capitalism to communism, he has lost sight of the fact that we have here a complex arrangement of cogwheels which cannot be a simple one; for the dictatorship of the proletariat cannot be exercised by a mass proletarian organisation. It cannot work without a number of "transmission belts" running from the vanguard to the mass of the advanced class, and from the latter to the mass of the working people. In Russia, this mass is a peasant one. There is no such mass anywhere else, but even in the most advanced countries there is a non-proletarian, or a not entirely proletarian, mass. That is in itself enough to produce ideological confusion. But it's no use Trotsky's pinning it on others.
 Lenin's first speech to Party activists in the discussion of the role and tasks of the trade unions in socialist construction was delivered at the Bolshoi Theatre on December 30, 1920.
Trotsky had started the discussion in the Communist group of the Fifth All-Russia Trade Union Conference on November 3 with his call "to tighten the screws of War Communism" as opposed to the Party's line to stimulate democratic activity in the trade unions.
The disagreements turned "on the different approach to the mass, the way of winning it over, and keeping in touch with it" (Lenin
). The disagreements in the group were brought before the Central Committee Plenary Meeting. But Trotsky's December 24 speech before the delegates of the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets and trade union activists carried the issue outside the Central Committee. On December 25, he published a pamphlet, which marked the formation of an anti-Party faction, and served as a signal for action by other anti-Party groups -- "buffer", "Workers' Opposition", "Democratic Centralism", etc.
Lenin was against any discussion, realising that it distracted the Party's attention and forces from the immediate tasks of fighting the economic dislocation and the famine. But when the anti-Party groups came out, he attacked them, concentrating on the Trotskyites as the chief anti-Party force. In his-speeches and articles --
The Party Crisis and Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin -- Lenin showed the essence of the internal Party struggle and exposed the factional activity of the opposition groups, which tended to disrupt the Party's unity, and the great harm of the discussion imposed on it. He put forward and developed a number of important principles underlying the trade unions' role in the dictatorship of the proletariat and their tasks in socialist construction.
The discussion lasted more than two months. The overwhelming majority of the Party organisations approved Lenin's platform and rejected the opposition's. The results of the discussion were summed up at the Tenth Congress of the Party on March 8-16, 1921.
 On its agenda were the current tasks of economic construction and the question of the trade union movement. It defined the short-term economic tasks and stressed the need for the trade
unions' active participation in socialist construction. It adopted the following resolutions: "The Current Tasks of Econormic Construction" and "The Trade Unions and Their Organisation". See
K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh i resheniakh syezdov, konferentsi i plenumov TsK (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 477-90, 490-94).
 The reference is to the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets of Workers', Peasants', Red Army and Cossack Deputies held in Moscow on December 22-29, 1920. It was attended by 2,537 delegates, the greatest number ever. Of them 1,728 had voice and vote, and 809, voice only. Of the total number of delegates 91.7 per cent were Communists; 2.7, Communist sympathisers; 3.9, non-party people; 0.3, Mensheviks; 0.3, Bundists; 0.15, Left S.R.s; 0.15, anarchists, and 0.8, from other parties. It showed the growing authority of the Communist Party and the political bankruptcy of the petty-bourgeois parties, which had betrayed themselves as anti-Soviet and counter-revolutionary.
The Congress met at a time when the war against the foreign intervention and internal counter-revolution was coming to a victorious end, and when the economic front stood out as "the main and most important one" (Lenin
). On its agenda there were the following questions, the chief of which had been discussed beforehand by the Communist group: report on the activity of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, electrification of Russia; rehabilitation of industry and transport; development of agricultural production and promotion of farming; efficiency of Soviet establishments and the struggle against bureaucratic practices. These problems were thrashed out in three sections: industry, agriculture and Soviet administration.
Lenin guided the work of the Congress. At the plenary meeting on December 22, he gave a report on the activity of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, and on December 23, he summed up the debate. He spoke six times at the Communist group meetings on December 21, 22, 24 and 27 on the question of concessions and the draft law on measures to consolidate and develop peasant farming. By an overwhelming majority, the Congress adopted a resolution on Lenin's report, approving the government's activity, and rejected a draft resolution motioned by the petty-bourgeois delegates, who had delivered anti-Soviet speeches.
The Congress adopted a plan for the electrification of the country (GOELRO), worked out on Lenin's initiative and instructions. This was the first long-range economic plan of the Soviet state and Lenin called it "the second Party Programme". He also wrote the resolution on Krzhizhanovsky's report.
Another major question on the agenda was a draft law on measures to consolidate and develop peasant farming, which had been adopted by the Council of People's Commissars on December
14, 1920. Lenin stressed that the law was "a kind of a focus around which hundreds of decrees and bills of the Soviet power were grouped". Lenin took part in the discussion of its principal clauses by the non-Party peasant delegates to the Congress at a special meeting on December 22, and by the Communist group on December 24 and 27. The draft law was adopted unanimously.
The Congress passed a comprehensive resolution to improve and reorganise the entire Soviet apparatus as required by the transition to peaceful economic construction. It regulated relations between central and local organs of power and administration. The Congress also discussed the reorganisation of the whole system of economic management in accordance with the new economic tasks, and approved a new statute of the Council of Labour and Defence.
It instituted the Order of the Red Banner of Labour as an award for dedication, initiative, efficiency and hard work in solving economic tasks.
 The reference is to the resolution of the Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), "The Current Tasks of Party Organisation". See
K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 506-12).
 Izvestia of the Central Committec of the Russian Communist Party was an information organ dealing with Party problems. It was published under a resolution of the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) as a weekly supplement to
Pravda from May 28, 1919, and as an independent organ from October 1920.
In 1929, it was transformed into a fortnightly, Partiinoye Stroitelstvo (Party Construction
), and in June 1946 renamed Partiinaya Zhizn (Party Life ).
 The "buffer group
" took shape during the trade union discussion in 1920-21, as one of the anti-Party groups. It was headed by N. I. Bukharin and included Y. Larin, Y. A. Preobrazhensky, L. P. Serebryakov, G. Y. Sokolnikov, V. N. Yakovleva and others. They tried to reconcile Leninism and Trotskyism, acting as a "buffer" in disagreements on the question of the role and tasks of the trade unions. In fact Bukharin attacked Lenin and defended Trotsky. They did much harm to the Party by supporting the worst kind of factional activity. Lenin said Bukharin's theses were a "low in ideological disintegration". Bukharin soon abandoned his platform and openly sided with Trotsky.
Lenin characterised the "buffer" group and its anti-Party views in his article, "The Party Crisis", in the pamphlet,
Once Again on the Trade Unions, the Current Situation and the Mistakes of Trotsky and Bukharin, and elsewhere.
 The Council of Workers' and Peasants' Defence was set up by the All-Russia Ccntlal Exccutive Committee on November 30, 1918, to implement its September 2, 1918 decree which proclaimed the Soviet Republic a military camp. Lenin was appointed
its Chairman. It was vested witll extraordinarv powers in mobilising the resources of the Soviet state for defence in that exceptionally difficult period.
The Council was the Republic's chief military-economic and planning centre during the intervention and Civil War and also controlled the activity of the Revolutiollary Military Council and other military organs. Its decrees were binding on all Soviet citizens, as well as on central and local agencies. Early in April 1920, it was reorganised into the Council of Labour and Defence (C.L.D.) (Soviet Truda i Oborony -- STO), and under a decision of the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets in December 1920 it began to operate as a government commission responsible for co-ordinating the work of all economic departments. It was abolished in 1937.
 Glavpolitput -- the Chief Political Department of the People's Commissariat for Communications -- was formed as a provisional organ under the direct leadership of the Party's Central Committee in February 1919, and in January 1920 it was renamed tbe Chief Political Administration. It took extraordinary measures to rehabilitate the railways that had been ruined in the imperialist war and the Civil War, to improve Party and political work among railway workers, aud to strengthen and stimulate the activity of the railwaymen's trade union and make it an instument for the further development of the railways. It introduced military discipline on the railways to gear them to the war effort. The measures effected by Glavpolitput saved the railways from utter ruin, but produced bureaucratic and undemocratic practices in the trade unions and a tendency to lose touch with the masses.
It was abolished by a Central Committee decision on December 7, 1920, at the end of the Civil War and the start of peaceful development.
 Tsektran -- the Central Committee of the Joint Trade Union of Rail and Water Transport Workers. In September 1920, the two unions were merged to set up a strong centralised administration capable of tackling the tasks of rapidly rehabilitating transport, whose stoppages tended to paralyse the national economy. Its extraordinary powers and military methods of work, which sprang from the enormity of the tasks before it, bred bureaucratic practices, the appointments system, administration by injunction, etc. It fell into the hands of the Trotskyites, who set the workers against the Party and split their unity. The plenary meetings of the C.C. on November 8 and December 7, 1920, condemned Tsektran's methods and adopted a decision to incorporate it into the general system of the All-Russia Central Couucil of Trade Unious on a par with other unions. Tsektrall was advised to change its methods, develop trade union democracy, make all trade union bodies elective, reduce the appointments system, etc. The First All-Russia Congress of Transport Workers in March 1921 called by the Central Committee of the Party expelled the Trotskyites from the Tsektran leadership and outlined new methods of work.
 Politvod -- the Chief Political Administration of Water Transport of the People's Commissariat for Communications -- was set up inApril 1920 as an agency of Glavpolitput to carry on political education among the workers and exercise political control over the technical and administrative personnel; to put water transport on its feet as soon as possible; to stimulate higher productivity and improve discipline. It was dissolved in December 1920.
 The Party wanted the trade unions' work reorganised in accordance with the tasks of peaceful socialist construction, democracy developed and military methods of administration abolished. This was opposed by Trotsky, who demanded, at the Communist group meeting on November 3, a "shake-up" of the trade unions. He wanted "the screws tightened" and the trade unions governmentalised immediately. He disagreed on the "approach to the mass, the way of winning it over, and keeping in touch with it". His speech started the Party discussion on the trade unions, but the Communist delegates rejected his demands, for their realisation would have abolished the trade unions and undermined the dictatorship of the proletariat. That is why his theses were discussed by the Party Central Committee. At the November 8 C.C. Plenary Meeting, Lenin came out with his own theses which, when put to the vote, won 8 votes, as against 7 for Trotsky's.