MARXIST INTERNET ARCHIVE | History of CP Bolshevik

H I S T O R Y O F  T H E C O M M U N I S T   P A R T Y

O F  T H E

S O V I E T  U N I O N

(B O L S H E V I K S)


C H A P T E R N I N E
THE BOLSHEVIK PARTY IN THE PERIOD OF TRANSITION TO THE PEACEFUL WORK OF ECONOMIC RESTORATION (1921-1925)
1. SOVIET REPUBLIC AFTER THE DEFEAT OF THE INTERVENTION AND END OF THE CIVIL WAR. DIFFICULTIES OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD
2. PARTY DISCUSSION ON THE TRADE UNIONS. TENTH PARTY CONGRESS. DEFEAT OF THE OPPOSITION. ADOPTION OF THE NEW ECONOMIC POLICY (NEP)
3. FIRST RESULTS OF NEP. ELEVENTH PARTY CONGRESS. FORMATION OF THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS. LENIN'S ILLNESS. LENIN'S CO-OPERATIVE PLAN. TWELFTH PARTY CONGRESS
4. STRUGGLE AGAINST THE DIFFICULTIES OF ECONOMIC RESTORATION. TROTSKYITES TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LENIN'S ILLNESS TO INCREASE THEIR ACTIVITY. NEW PARTY DISCUSSION. DE FEAT OF THE TROTSKYITES. DEATH OF LENIN. THE LENIN ENROLMENT. THIRTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS
5. THE SOVIET UNION TOWARDS THE END OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD. THE QUESTION OF SOCIALIST CONSTRUCTION AND THE VICTORY OF SOCIALISM IN OUR COUNTRY. ZINOVIEV- KAMENEV "NEW OPPOSITION." FOURTEENTH PARTY CONGRESS. POLICY OF SOCIALIST INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE
COUNTRY

3. FIRST RESULTS OF NEP. ELEVENTH PARTY CONGRESS. FORMATION OF THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS.LENIN'S ILLNESS. LENIN'S CO-OPERATIVE PLAN. TWELFTH
PARTY CONGRESS

    The New Economic Policy was resisted by the unstable elements in the Party. The resistance came from two quarters. First there were the "Left" shouters, political freaks like Lominadze, Shatskin and others, who argued that NEP meant a renunciation of the gains of the October Revolution, a return to capitalism, the downfall of the Soviet power. Because of their political illiteracy and ignorance of the laws of economic development, these people did not understand the policy of the Party, fell into a panic, and sowed dejection and discouragement. Then there were the downright capitulators, like Trotsky, Radek, Zinoviev, Sokolnikov, Kamenev, Shlyapnikov, Bukharin, Rykov and others, who did not believe that the Socialist development of our country was possible, bowed before the "omnipotence" of capitalism and, in their endeavour to strengthen the position of capitalism in the Soviet country, demanded far-reaching concessions to private capital, both home and foreign, and the surrender of a number of key positions of the Soviet power in the economic field to private capitalists, the latter to act either as concessionaries or as partners of the state in mixed joint stock companies.

    Both groups were alien to Marxism and Leninism.

    Both were exposed and isolated by the Party, which passed severe stricture on the alarmists and the capitulators.

    This resistance to the Party policy was one more reminder that the Party needed to be purged of unstable elements. Accordingly, the Central Committee in 1921 organized a Party purge, which helped to considerably strengthen the Party. The purging was done at open meetings, in the presence and with the participation of non-Party people. Lenin advised that the Party be thoroughly cleansed "of rascals, bureaucrats, dishonest or wavering Communists, and of Mensheviks who have repainted their 'facade' but who have remained Mensheviks at heart." (Lenin, Collected Works, Russ. ed., Vol. XXVII, p. 13.)

    Altogether, nearly 170,000 persons, or about 25 per cent of the total membership, were expelled from the Party as a result of the purge.

    The purge greatly strengthened the Party, improved its social composition, increased the confidence of the masses in it, and heightened its prestige. The Party became more closely welded and better disciplined.

    The correctness of the New Economic Policy was proved in its very first year. Its adoption served greatly to strengthen the alliance of workers and peasants on a new basis. The dictatorship of the proletariat gained in might and strength. Kulak banditry was almost completely liquidated. The middle peasants, now that the surplus-appropriation system had been abolished, helped the Soviet Government to fight the kulak bands. The Soviet Government retained all the key positions in the economic field: large-scale industry, the means of transport, the banks, the land, and home and foreign trade. The Party achieved a definite turn for the better on the economic front. Agriculture soon began to forge ahead. Industry and the railways could record their first successes. An economic revival began, still very slow but sure. The workers and the peasants felt and perceived that the Party was on the right track.

   In March 1922, the Party held its Eleventh Congress. It was attended by 522 voting delegates, representing 532,000 Party members, which was less than at the previous congress. There were 165 delegates with voice but no vote. The reduction in the membership was due to the Party purge which had already begun.

    At this congress the Party reviewed the results of the first year of the New Economic Policy. These results entitled Lenin to declare at the congress:

    "For a year we have been retreating. In the name of the Party we must now call a halt. The purpose pursued by the retreat has been achieved. This period is drawing, or has drawn, to a close. Now our purpose is different -- to regroup our forces." (Ibid., p. 238.)

    Lenin said that NEP meant a life and death struggle between capitalism and Socialism. "Who will win?" -- that was the question. In order that we might win, the bond between the working class and the peasantry, between Socialist industry and peasant agriculture, had to be made secure by developing the exchange of goods between town and country to the utmost. For this purpose the art of management and of efficient trading would have to be learned.

    At that period, trade was the main link in the chain of problems that confronted the Party. Unless this problem were solved it would be impossible to develop the exchange of goods between town and country, to strengthen the economic alliance between the workers and peasants, impossible to advance agriculture, or to extricate industry from its state of disruption.

    Soviet trade at that time was still very undeveloped. The machinery of trade was highly inadequate. Communists had not yet learned the art of trade; they had not studied the enemy, the Nepman, or learned how to combat him. The private traders, or Nepmen, had taken advantage of the undeveloped state of Soviet trade to capture the trade in textiles and other goods in general demand. The organization of state and co-operative trade became a matter of utmost importance.

    After the Eleventh Congress, work in the economic sphere was resumed with redoubled vigour. The effects of the recent harvest failure were successfully remedied. Peasant farming showed rapid recovery. The railways began to work better. Increasing numbers of factories and plants resumed operation.

    In October 1922, the Soviet Republic celebrated a great victory Vladivostok, the last piece of Soviet territory to remain in the hands of the invaders, was wrested by the Red Army and the Far Eastern partisan from the hands of the Japanese.

    The whole territory of the Soviet republic having been cleared of interventionists, and the needs of Socialist construction and national defence demanding a further consolidation of the union of the Soviet peoples, the necessity now arose of welding the Soviet republics closer together in a single federal state. All the forces of the people had to be combined for the work of building Socialism. The country had to be made impregnable. Conditions had to be created for the all-round development of every nationality in our country. This required that all the Soviet nations should be brought into still closer union.

    In December 1922 the First All-Union Congress of Soviets was held, at which, on the proposal of Lenin and Stalin, a voluntary state union of the Soviet nations was formed -- the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.). Originally, the U.S.S.R. comprised the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (R.S.F.S.R.), the Trancaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (T.S.F.S.R.), the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (Ukr. S.S.R.) and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (B.S.S.R.). Somewhat later, three independent Union Soviet Republics -- the Uzbek, Turkmen and Tadjik -- were formed in Central Asia. All these republics have now united in a single union of Soviet states -- the U.S.S.R. -- on a voluntary and equal basis, each of them being reserved the right of freely seceding from the Soviet Union.

    The formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics meant the consolidation of the Soviet power and a great victory for the Leninist Stalinist policy of the Bolshevik Party on the national question.

    In November 1922, Lenin made a speech at a plenary meeting of the Moscow Soviet in which he reviewed the five years of Soviet rule and expressed the firm conviction that "NEP Russia will become Socialist Russia." This was his last speech to the country. That same autumn a great misfortune overtook the Party: Lenin fell seriously ill. His illness was a deep and personal affliction to the whole Party and to all the working people. All lived in trepidation for the life of their beloved Lenin. But even in illness Lenin did not discontinue his work. When already a very sick man, he wrote a number of highly important articles. In these last writings he reviewed the work already performed and outlined a plan for the building of Socialism in our country by enlisting the peasantry in the cause of Socialist construction. This contained his co-operative plan for securing the participation of the peasantry in the work of building Socialism.

    Lenin regarded co-operative societies in general, and agricultural cooperative societies in particular, as a means of transition -- a means within the reach and understanding of the peasant millions -- from small, individual farming to large-scale producing associations, or collective farms. Lenin pointed out that the line to be followed in the development of agriculture in our country was to draw the peasants into the work of building Socialism through the co-operative societies, gradually to introduce the collective principle in agriculture, first in the selling, and then in the growing of farm produce. With the dictatorship of the proletariat and the alliance of the working class and the peasantry, with the leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat made secure, and with the existence of a Socialist industry, Lenin said, a properly organized producing co-operative system embracing millions of peasants was the means whereby a complete Socialist society could be built in our country.

    In April 1923, the Party held its Twelfth Congress. Since the seizure of power by the Bolsheviks this was the first congress at which Lenin was unable to be present. The congress was attended by 408 voting delegates, representing 386,000 Party members. This was less than was represented at the previous congress, the reduction being due to the fact that in the interval the Party purge had continued and had resulted in the expulsion of a considerable percentage of the Party membership. There were 417 delegates with voice but no vote.

    The Twelfth Party Congress embodied in its decisions the recommendations made by Lenin in his recent articles and letters.

    The congress sharply rebuked those who took NEP to mean a retreat from the Socialist position, a surrender to capitalism, and who advocated a return to capitalist bondage. Proposals of this kind were made at the congress by Radek and Krassin, followers of Trotsky. They proposed that we should throw ourselves on the tender mercies of foreign capitalists, surrender to them, in the form of concessions, branches of industry that were of vital necessity to the Soviet state. They proposed that we pay the tsarist government's debts annulled by the October Revolution. The Party stigmatized these capitulatory proposals as treachery. It did not reject the policy of granting concessions, but favoured it only in such industries and in such dimensions as would be of advantage to the Soviet state.

    Bukharin and Sokolnikov had even prior to the congress proposed the abolition of the state monopoly of foreign trade. The proposal was also based on the conception that NEP was a surrender to capitalism. Lenin had branded Bukharin as a champion of the profiteers, Nepmen and kulaks. The Twelfth Congress firmly repelled the attempts to undermine the monopoly of foreign trade.

    The congress also repelled Trotsky's attempt to foist upon the Party a policy towards the peasantry that would have been fatal, and stated that the predominance of small peasant farming in the country was a fact not to be forgotten. It emphatically declared that the development of industry, including heavy industry, must not run counter to the interests of the peasant masses, but must be based on a close bond with the peasants, in the interests of the whole working population. These decisions were an answer to Trotsky, who had proposed that we should build up our industry by exploiting the peasants, and who in fact did not accept the policy of an alliance of the proletariat with the peasantry.

    At the same time, Trotsky had proposed that big plants like the Putilov, Bryansk and others, which were of importance to the country's defence, should be closed down allegedly on the grounds that they were unprofitable. The congress indignantly rejected Trotsky's proposals.

    On Lenin's proposal, sent to the congress in written form, the Twelfth Congress united the Central Control Commission of the Party and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection into one body. To this united body were entrusted the important duties of safeguarding the unity of our Party, strengthening Party and civil discipline, and improving the Soviet state apparatus in every way.

    An important item on the agenda of the congress was the national question, the report on which was made by Comrade Stalin. Comrade Stalin stressed the international significance of our policy on the national question. To the oppressed peoples in the East and West, the Soviet Union was a model of the solution of the national question and the abolition of national oppression. He pointed out that energetic measures were needed to put an end to economic and cultural inequality among the peoples of the Soviet Union. He called upon the Party to put up a determined fight against deviations in the national question -- Great Russian chauvinism and local bourgeois nationalism.

    The nationalist deviators and their dominant-nation policy towards the national minorities were exposed at the congress. At that time the Georgian nationalist deviators, Mdivani and others, were opposing the Party. They had been against the formation of the Trancaucasian Federation and were against the promotion of friendship between the peoples of Transcaucasia. The deviators were behaving like outright dominant-nation chauvinists towards the other nationalities of Georgia. They were expelling non-Georgians from Tiflis wholesale, especially Armenians; they had passed a law under which Georgian women who married non-Georgians lost their Georgian citizenship. The Georgian nationalist deviators were supported by Trotsky, Radek, Bukharin, Skrypnik and Rakovsky.

    Shortly after the congress, a special conference of Party workers from the national republics was called to discuss the national question. Here were exposed a group of Tatar bourgeois nationalists -- Sultan-Galiev and others -- and a group of Uzbek nationalist deviators -- Faizulla Khodjayev and others.

    The Twelfth Party Congress reviewed the results of the New Economic Policy for the past two years. They were very heartening results and inspired confidence in ultimate victory.

    "Our Party has remained solid and united; it has stood the test of a momentous turn, and is marching on with flying colours," Comrade Stalin declared at the congress.