Bolshevik Writers: J. V. Stalin (1879-1953)

J. V. Stalin

THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF THE PARTY
IN THE NATIONAL QUESTION

Theses for the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
Endorsed by the Central Committee of the Party

Pravda, No. 298,
December 31, 1922

From J. V. Stalin, Works
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Moscow, 1953

Vol. 5, pp. 159-62.


Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, djr@marx2mao.org (April 2001)


    Comrades, this day marks a turning point in the history of the Soviet power. It places a landmark between the old period, now past, when the Soviet republics, although they acted in common, yet each followed its own path and was concerned primarily with its own preservation, and the new period, already begun, when an end is being put to the isolated existence of the Soviet republics, when the republics are being united into a single union state for a successful struggle against economic ruin, and when the Soviet power is concerned not only with its preservation, but with developing into an important international force, capable of influencing the international situation and of modifying it in the interests of the working people.

    What was the Soviet state five years ago? A small, scarcely noticeable entity, which evoked the derision of all its enemies and the pity of many of its friends. That was the period of wartime ruin, when the Soviet power relied not so much upon its own strength as upon the impotence of its opponents; when the enemies of the Soviet power, split into two coalitions, the Austro-German coalition and the Anglo-French coalition, were engaged in mutual warfare and were not in a position to turn their weapons against the Soviet power. In the history of the Soviet power that was the period of war time ruin. In the struggle against Kolchak and Denikin, however, the Soviet power created the Red Army and successfully emerged from the period of wartime ruin.

    Later, the second period in the history of the Soviet power began, the period of struggle against economic ruin. This period is by no means over yet, but it has already borne fruit, for during this period the Soviet power has successfully coped with the famine which afflicted the country last year. During this period we have witnessed a considerable advance in agriculture and a considerable revival of the light industries. Cadres of industrial leaders have already come to the fore and are the object of our hope and trust. But that is far from enough for the purpose of overcoming economic ruin. To vanquish and eliminate that ruin the forces of all the Soviet republics must be pooled; all the financial and economic potentialities of the republics must be concentrated on the task of restoring our basic industries. Hence the necessity for uniting the Soviet republics into a single union state. Today is the day of the union of our republics into a single state for the purpose of pooling all our forces for the restoration of our economy.

    The period of combating wartime ruin gave us the Red Army, one of the foundations of the existence of the Soviet power. The next period, the period of struggle against economic ruin, is giving us a new framework of state existence -- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,

which will undoubtedly promote the work of restoring Soviet economy. What is the Soviet power now? A great state of the working people which evokes among our enemies not derision but the gnashing of teeth.

    Such are the results of the development of the Soviet power during the five years of its existence.

    But, comrades, today is not only a day for summing up, it is at the same time the day of triumph of the new Russia over the old Russia, the Russia that was the gendarme of Europe, the Russia that was the hangman of Asia. Today is the day of triumph of the new Russia, which has smashed the chains of national oppression, organised victory over capital, created the dictatorship of the proletariat, awakened the peoples of the East, inspires the workers of the West, transformed the Red Flag from a Party banner into a State banner, and rallied around that banner the peoples of the Soviet republics in order to unite them into a single state, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the prototype of the future World Soviet Socialist Republic.

    We Communists are often abused and accused of being unable to build. Let the history of the Soviet power during these five years of its existence serve as proof that Communists are also able to build. Let today's Congress of Soviets, whose function it is to ratify the Declaration and Treaty of Union of the Republics that were adopted at the Conference of Plenipotentiary Delegations yesterday, let this Union Congress demonstrate to all who have not yet lost the ability to understand, that Communists are as well able to build the new as they are to destroy the old.

    Here, comrades, is the Declaration that was adopted yesterday, at the Conference of Plenipotentiary Delegations.[50] I shall read it (see appendix No. 1).

    And here is the text of the Treaty that was adopted at the same conference. I shall read it (see appendix No. 2).

    Comrades, on the instructions of the Conference of Plenipotentiary Delegations of the Soviet Republics I move that you ratify the texts I have just read of the Declaration and Treaty on the Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

    Comrades, I propose that you adopt them with the unanimity characteristic of Communists, and thereby add a new chapter to the history of mankind. (Applause.)

APPENDICES

Appendix 1  

 

DECLARATION
ON THE FORMATION OF THE UNION
OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS

    Since the Soviet republics were formed, the states of the world have split into two camps: the camp of capitalism and the camp of socialism. There, in the camp of capitalism, we have national animosity and inequality, colonial slavery and chauvinism, national oppression and pogroms, imperialist brutalities and wars.

    Here, in the camp of socialism, we have mutual confidence and peace, national freedom and equality, the peaceful co-existence and fraternal co-operation of peoples.

    The attempts made by the capitalist world during the course of decades to solve the problem of nationalities by combining the free development of peoples with the system of exploitation of man by man have proved fruitless. On the contrary, the skein of national contradictions is becoming more and more entangled and is threatening the very existence of capitalism. The bourgeoisie has proved to be incapable of bringing about the co-operation of peoples.

    Only in the camp of the Soviets, only in the conditions of the dictatorship of the proletariat, which has rallied the majority of the population around itself, has it been possible to eradicate national oppression, to create an atmosphere of mutual confidence, and to lay the foundation for the fraternal co-operation of peoples.

    It was these circumstances alone that enabled the Soviet republics to repel the attacks of the imperialists of the whole world, home and foreign.

    It was these circumstances alone that enabled them to bring the Civil War to a successful conclusion, to preserve their existence and begin peaceful economic construction.

    But the years of war have left their traces. Ruined fields, idle factories, shattered productive forces and exhausted economic resources left as a heritage by the war render inadequate the individual efforts of the individual republics to build up their economy. The restoration of the national economy has proved to be impossible while the republics continue to exist separately.
    On the other hand, the instability of the international situation and the danger of new attacks render inevitable the creation of a united front of the Soviet republics in face of the capitalist encirclement.
    Lastly, the very structure of Soviet power, which is international in its class nature, impels the toiling masses of the Soviet republics to unite into a single socialist family.
    All these circumstances imperatively demand the union of the Soviet republics into a single union state, capable of ensuring external security, internal economic progress and the unhampered national development of the peoples.
    The will of the peoples of the Soviet republics, who recently assembled at their Congresses of Soviets and unanimously resolved to form a "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics," is a reliable guarantee that this Union is a voluntary association of peoples enjoying equal rights, that each republic is guaranteed the right of freely seceding from the Union, that admission to the Union is open to all Socialist Soviet Republics, whether now existing or hereafter to arise, that the new union state will prove to be a worthy crown to the foundation for the peaceful co-existence and fraternal co-operation of the peoples that was laid in October 1917, and that it will serve as a sure bulwark against world capitalism and as a new and decisive step towards the union of the working people of all countries into a World Socialist Soviet Republic.
    Declaring all this before the whole world, and solemnly proclaiming the firmness of the foundations of Soviet power as expressed in the Constitutions of the Socialist Soviet Republics by whom we have been empowered, we, the delegates of these republics, acting in accordance with our mandates, have resolved to sign a treaty on the formation of a "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."

TREATY
ON THE FORMATION OF THE UNION
OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS

    The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (R.S.F.S.R.), the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (Ukr.S.S.R.), the Byelorussian Socialist Soviet Republic (B.S.S.R.) and the Transcaucasian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (T.S.F.S.R. -- Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) conclude the present treaty of union providing for uniting into a single union state -- "the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics" -- on the following principles:

    1.  Within the jurisdiction of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as represented by its supreme organs, are the following:

    a) representation of the Union in foreign relations;

    b) modification of the external boundaries of the Union;

    c) conclusion of treaties providing for the admission of new republics into the Union;

    d) declaration of war and conclusion of peace;

    e) obtaining state loans abroad;

    f) ratification of international treaties;

    g) establishment of systems of foreign and home trade;

    h) establishment of the principles and the general plan of the national economy of the Union as a whole and conclusion of concession agreements;

    i) regulation of transport, posts and telegraphs;

    j) establishment of the principles of organisation of the armed forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics;

    k) ratification of the single state budget of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, establishment of a monetary, currency and credit system and a system of All-Union, Republican and local taxes;

    l) establishment of the general principles of land settlement and tenure as well as of the exploitation of mineral wealth, forests and waters throughout the territory of the Union;
    m) enactment of All-Union legislation on resettlement;
    n) establishment of the principles of court structure and court procedure, as well as civil and criminal legislation for the Union;
    o) enactment of basic labour laws;
    p) establishment of general principles of public education;
    q) establishment of general measures for the protection of public health;
    r) establishment of a system of weights and measures;
    s) organisation of statistics for the whole Union;
    t) enactment of fundamental laws relating to the rights of foreigners in respect to citizenship of the Union;
    u) the right of general amnesty;
    v) annulment of decisions violating the Treaty of Union on the part of Congresses of Soviets, Central Executive Committees and Councils of People's Commissars of the Union Republics.
    2.  The supreme organ of power in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and, in the intervals between congresses, the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    3.  The Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics consists of representatives of town Soviets on the basis of one deputy for every 25,000 voters, and of representatives from Gubernia Congresses of Soviets on the basis of one deputy for every 125,000 inhabitants.
    4.  Delegates to the Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are elected at Gubernia Congresses of Soviets.
    5.  Ordinary Congresses of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are convened by the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics once a year; extraordinary Congresses are convened by the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at its own discretion, or upon the demand of not less than two Union Republics.

    6.  The Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics elects a Central Executive Committee consisting of representatives of the Union Republics in proportion to the population of each and to a total number of 371 members.
    7.  The ordinary sessions of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are convened three times a year. Extraordinary sessions are convened by decision of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union, or upon the demand of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or of the Central Executive Committee of a Union Republic.
    8.  Congresses of Soviets and sessions of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are convened in the capitals of the Union Republics in accordance with the procedure established by the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    9.  The Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics elects a Presidium, which is the supreme organ of power of the Union in the intervals between the sessions of the Central Executive Committee of the Union.
    10.  The Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is elected to the number of 19 members, from among whom the Central Executive Committee of the Union elects four chairmen of the Central Executive Committee of the Union, corresponding to the number of Union Republics.
    11.  The executive organ of the Central Executive Committee of the Union is the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the C.P.C. of the Union), elected by the Central Executive Committee of the Union for the period of the mandate of the latter, and consists of:
    The Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union;
    The Vice-Chairmen;
    The People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs;
    The People's: Commissar of Military and Naval Affairs;
    The People's Commissar. of Foreign Trade;
    The People's Commissar of Transport;

    The People's Commissar of Posts and Telegraphs;
    The People's Commissar of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection;
    The Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy;
    The People's Commissar of Labour;
    The People's Commissar of Food;
    The People's Commissar of Finance.
    12.  In order to uphold revolutionary law within the territory of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and to unite the efforts of the Union Republics in combating counter-revolution, a Supreme Court is set up under the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics with the functions of supreme judicial control, and under the Council of People's Commissars of the Union a joint organ of State Political Administration is set up, the Chairman of which is a member of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union with voice but no vote.
    13.  The decrees and decisions of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are binding on all the Union Republics and have immediate effect throughout the territory of the Union.
    14.  The decrees and decisions of the Central Executive Committee and of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union are published in the languages in common use in the Union Republics (Russian, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, Georgian, Armenian and Tyurk).
    15.  The Central Executive Committees of the Union Republics may appeal against the decrees and decisions of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union to the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, without, however, suspending their operation.
    16.  Decisions and orders of the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be annulled only by the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its Presidium; orders of the various People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be annulled by the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by its Presidium, or by the Council of People's Commissars of the Union.

    17. Orders of the People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics may be suspended by the Central Executive Committees, or by the Presidiums of the Central Executive Committees of the Union Republics, only in exceptional cases, if the said orders are obviously at variance with the decisions of the Council of People's Commissars or the Central Executive Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. When suspending an order, the Central Executive Committee, or the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee, of the Union Republic concerned shall immediately notify the Council of People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the competent People's Commissar of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    18.  The Council of People's Commissars of a Union Republic consists of:
    The Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars;
    The Vice-Chairmen;
    The Chairman of the Supreme Council of National Economy;
    The People's Commissar of Agriculture;
    The People's Commissar of Food;
    The People's Commissar of Finance;
    The People's Commissar of Labour;
    The People's Commissar of Internal Affairs;
    The People's Commissar of Justice;
    The People's Commissar of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection;
    The People's Commissar of Education;
    The People's Commissar of Public Health;
    The People's Commissar of Social Maintenance;
    The People's Commissar for the Affairs of Nationalities; and also, with voice but no vote, representatives of the Union People's Commissariats of Foreign Affairs, Military and Naval Affairs, Foreign Trade, Transport, and Posts and Telegraphs.

    19.  The Supreme Council of National Economy and the People's Commissariats of Food, Finance, Labour and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection of each of the Union Republics, while being directly subordinate to the Central Executive Committees and the Councils of People's Commissars of the respective

page 410

Union Republics, are guided in their activities by the orders of the corresponding People's Commissars of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    20.  Each of the republics constituting the Union has its own budget, as an integral part of the general budget of the Union endorsed by the Central Executive Committee of the Union. The budgets of the republics, both revenue and expenditure sides, are fixed by the Central Executive Committee of the Union. The items of revenue, and the size of allocations from revenue which go to make up the budgets of the Union Republics, are determined by the Central Executive Committee of the Union.
    21.  A common Union citizenship is established for all citizens of the Union Republics.
    22.  The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics has its flag, arms and state seal.
    23.  The capital of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is the City of Moscow.
    24.  The Union Republics will amend their Constitutions in conformity with the present treaty.
    25.  Ratification, alteration and supplementation of the Treaty of Union is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
    26.  Every Union Republic retains the right freely to secede from the Union.

    NOTES

      [49] The First Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. took place in Moscow on December 30, 1922. There were present 1,727 delegates from the R.S.F.S.R., 364 from the Ukrainian S.S.R., 91 from the Transcaucasian Federation and 33 from the Byelorussian S.S.R. The congress discussed J. V. Stalin's report on the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, it ratified the Declaration and the Treaty of Union on the Formation of the U.S.S.R., and elected the Central Executive Committee of the U.S.S.R.    [p. 159]

      [50] The Conference of Plenipotentiary Delegations of the R.S.F.S.R., the Ukrainian S.S.R., the Byelorussian S.S.R. and of the Transcaucasian S.F.S.R. took place on December 29, 1922. The conference examined and adopted the Declaration and the Treaty on the Formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. J. V. Stalin made a report to the conference on the order of proceedings at the First Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. The conference instructed J. V. Stalin to deliver at the congress the report on the formation of the U.S.S.R. In the morning of December 30, the plenipotentiary delegations signed the Declaration and the Treaty on the Formation of the U.S.S.R.    [p. 162]