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

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 CON- GRESS. POLICY OF SOCIALIST INDUSTRIALIZATION OF THE COUNTRY

    For over four years the Bolshevik Party and the working class had been working strenuously along the lines of the New Economic Policy. The heroic work of economic restoration was approaching completion. The economic and political might of the Soviet Union was steadily growing.

    By this time the international situation had undergone a change. Capitalism had withstood the first revolutionary onslaught of the masses after the imperialist war. The revolutionary movement in Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Poland and a number of other countries had been crushed. The bourgeoisie had been aided in this by the leaders of the compromising Social-Democratic parties. A temporary ebb in the tide of revolution set in. There began a temporary, partial stabilization of capitalism in Western Europe, a partial consolidation of the position of capitalism. But the stabilization of capitalism did not eliminate the basic contradictions rending capitalist society. On the contrary, the partial stabilization of capitalism aggravated the contradictions between the workers and the capitalists, between imperialism and the colonial nations, between the imperialist groups of the various countries. The stabilization of capitalism was preparing for a new explosion of contradictions, for new crises in the capitalist countries.

    Parallel with the stabilization of capitalism, proceeded the stabilization of the Soviet Union. But these two processes of stabilization were fundamentally different in character. Capitalist stabilization presaged a new crisis of capitalism. The stabilization of the Soviet Union meant a further growth of the economic and political might of the Socialist country.

    Despite the defeat of the revolution in the West, the position of the Soviet Union in the international arena continued to grow stronger, although, it is true, at a slower rate.

    In 1922, the Soviet Union had been invited to an international economic conference in Genoa, Italy. At the Genoa Conference the imperialist governments, emboldened by the defeat of the revolution in the capitalist countries, tried to bring new pressure to bear on the Soviet Republic, this time in diplomatic form. The imperialists presented brazen demands to the Soviet Republic. They demanded that the factories and plants which had been nationalized by the October Revolution be returned to the foreign capitalists; they demanded the payment of the debts of the tsarist government. In return, the imperialist states promised some trifling loans to the Soviet Government.

    The Soviet Union rejected these demands.

    The Genoa Conference was barren of result.

    The threat of a new intervention contained in the ultimatum of Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary, in 1923, also met with the rebuff it deserved.

    Having tested the strength of the Soviet Government and convinced themselves of its stability, the capitalist states began one after another to resume diplomatic relations with our country. In 1924 diplomatic relations were restored with Great Britain, France, Japan and Italy.

    It was plain that the Soviet Union had been able to win a prolonged breathing space, a period of peace.

    The domestic situation had also changed. The self-sacrificing efforts of the workers and peasants, led by the Bolshevik Party, had borne fruit. The rapid development of the national economy was manifest. In the fiscal year 1924-25, agricultural output had already approached the pre-war level, amounting to 87 per cent of the pre-war output. In 1925 the large-scale industries of the U.S.S.R. were already producing about three-quarters of the pre-war industrial output. In the fiscal year 1924-25, the Soviet Union was able to invest 385,000,000 rubles in capital construction work. The plan for the electrification of the country was proceeding successfully. Socialism was consolidating its key positions in the national economy. Important successes had been won in the struggle against private capital in industry and trade.

    Economic progress was accompanied by a further improvement in the condition of the workers and peasants. The working class was growing rapidly. Wages had risen, and so had productivity of labour. The standard of living of the peasants had greatly improved. In 1924-25, the Workers' and Peasants' Government was able to assign nearly 290,000,000 rubles for the purpose of assisting the small peasants. The improvement in the condition of the workers and peasants led to greater political activity on the part of the masses. The dictatorship of the proletariat was now more firmly established. The prestige and influence of the Bolshevik Party had grown.

    The restoration of the national economy was approaching completion. But mere economic restoration, the mere attainment of the pre-war level, was not enough for the Soviet Union, the land of Socialism in construction. The pre-war level was the level of a backward country. The advance had to be continued beyond that point. The prolonged breathing space gained by the Soviet state ensured the possibility of further development.

    But this raised the question in all its urgency: what were to be the perspectives, the character of our development, of our construction, what was to be the destiny of Socialism in the Soviet Union? In what direction was economic development in the Soviet Union to be carried on, in the direction of Socialism, or in some other direction? Should we and could we build a Socialist economic system; or were we fated but to manure the soil for another economic system, the capitalist economic system? Was it possible at all to build a Socialist economic system in the U.S.S.R., and, if so, could it be built in spite of the delay of the revolution in the capitalist countries, in spite of the stabilization of capitalism? Was it at all possible to build a Socialist economic system by way of the New Economic Policy, which, while it was strengthening and augmenting the forces of Socialism in the country in every way, nevertheless still promoted a certain growth of capitalism ? How was a Socialist economic system to be constructed, from which end should its construction begin?

    All these questions confronted the Party towards the end of the restoration period, and no longer as theoretical questions, but as practical questions, as questions of everyday economic policy.

    All these questions needed straightforward and plain answers, so that our Party members engaged in the development of industry and agriculture, as well as the people generally, might know in what direction to work, towards Socialism, or towards capitalism.

    Unless plain answers were given to these questions, all our practical work of construction would be without perspective, work in the dark, labour in vain.

    The Party gave plain and definite answers to all these questions.

    Yes, replied the Party, a Socialist economic system could be and should be built in our country, for we had everything needed for the building of a Socialist economic system, for the building of a complete Socialist society. In October 1917 the working class had vanquished capitalism politically, by establishing its own political dictatorship. Since then the Soviet Government had been taking every measure to shatter the economic power of capitalism and to create conditions for the building of a Socialist economic system. These measures were: the expropriation of the capitalists and landlords; the conversion of the land, factories, mills, railways and the banks into public property; the adoption of the New Economic Policy; the building up of a state-owned Socialist industry; and the application of Lenin's co-operative plan. Now the main task was to proceed to build a new, Socialist economic system all over the country and thus smash capitalism economically as well. All our practical work, all our actions must be made to serve this main purpose. The working class could do it, and would do it. The realization of this colossal task must begin with the industrialization of the country. The Socialist industrialization of the country was the chief link in the chain; with it the construction of a Socialist economic system must begin. Neither the delay of the revolution in the West, nor the partial stabilization of capitalism in the non-Soviet countries could stop our advance -- to Socialism. The New Economic Policy could only make this task easier, for it had been introduced by the Party with the specific purpose of facilitating the laying of a Socialist foundation for our economic system.

    Such was the Party's answer to the question -- was the victory of Socialist construction possible in our country?

    But the Party knew that the problem of the victory of Socialism in one country did not end there. The construction of Socialism in the Soviet Union would be a momentous turning point in the history of mankind, a victory for the working class and peasantry of the U.S.S.R., marking a new epoch in the history of the world. Yet this was an internal affair of the U.S.S.R. and was only a part of the problem of the victory of Socialism. The other part of the problem was its international aspect. In substantiating the thesis that Socialism could be victorious in one country, Comrade Stalin had repeatedly pointed out that the question should be viewed from two aspects, the domestic and the international. As for the domestic aspect of the question, i.e., the class relations within the country, the working class and the peasantry of the U.S.S.R. were fully capable of vanquishing their own bourgeoisie economically and building a complete Socialist society. But there was also the international aspect of the question, namely, the sphere of foreign relations, the sphere of the relations between the Soviet Union and the capitalist countries, between the Soviet people and the international bourgeoisie, which hated the Soviet system and was seeking the chance to start again armed intervention in the Soviet Union, to make new attempts to restore capitalism in the U.S.S.R. And since the U.S.S.R. was as yet the only Socialist country, all the other countries remaining capitalist, the U.S.S.R. continued to be encircled by a capitalist world, which gave rise to the danger of capitalist intervention. Clearly, there would be a danger of capitalist intervention as long as this capitalist encirclement existed. Could the Soviet people by their own efforts destroy this external danger, the danger of capitalist intervention in the U.S.S.R.? No, they could not. They could not, because in order to destroy the danger of capitalist intervention the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed; and the capitalist encirclement could be destroyed only as a result of victorious proletarian revolutions in at least several countries. It followed from this that the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., as expressed in the abolition of the capitalist economic system and the building of a Socialist economic system, could not be considered a final victory, inasmuch as the danger of foreign armed intervention and of attempts to restore capitalism had not been eliminated, and inasmuch as the Socialist country had no guarantee against this danger. To destroy the danger of foreign capitalist intervention, the capitalist encirclement would have to be destroyed.

    Of course, as long as the Soviet Government pursued a correct policy, the Soviet people and their Red Army would be able to beat off a new foreign capitalist intervention just as they had beaten off the first capitalist intervention of 1918-20. But this would not mean that the danger of new capitalist intervention would be eliminated. The defeat of the first intervention did not destroy the danger of new intervention, inasmuch as the source of the danger of intervention -- the capitalist encirclement -- continued to exist. Neither would the danger of intervention be destroyed by the defeat of the new intervention if the capitalist encirclement continued to exist.

    It followed from this that the victory of the proletarian revolution in the capitalist countries was a matter of vital concern to the working people of the U.S.S.R.

    Such was the Party's line on the question of the victory of Socialism in our country.

    The Central Committee demanded that this line be discussed at the forthcoming Fourteenth Party Conference, and that it be endorsed and accepted as the line of the Party, as a Party law, binding upon all Party members.

    This line of the Party came as a thunderbolt to the oppositionists, above all, because the Party lent it a specific and practical character, linked it with a practical plan for the Socialist industrialization of the country, and demanded that it be formulated as a Party law, as a resolution of the Fourteenth Party Conference, binding upon all Party members.

    The Trotskyites opposed this Party line and set up against it the Menshevik "theory of permanent revolution," which it would be an insult to Marxism to call a Marxist theory, and which denied the possibility of the victory of Socialist construction in the U.S.S.R.

    The Bukharinites did not venture to oppose the Party line outspokenly. But they furtively set up against it their own "theory" of the peaceful growing of the bourgeoisie into Socialism, amplifying it with a "new" slogan -- "Get Rich!" According to the Bukharinites, the victory of Socialism meant fostering and encircling the bourgeoisie, not destroying it.

    Zinoviev and Kamenev ventured forth with the assertion that the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. was impossible because of the country's technical and economic backwardness, but they soon found it prudent to hide under cover.

    The Fourteenth Party Conference (April, 1925) condemned all these capitulatory "theories" of the open and covert oppositionists and affirmed the Party line of working for the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., adopting a resolution to this effect.

    Driven to the wall, Zinoviev and Kamenev preferred to vote for this resolution. But the Party knew that they had only postponed their struggle and had decided to "give battle to the Party" at the Fourteenth Party Congress. They were mustering a following in Leningrad and forming the so-called "New Opposition."

   The Fourteenth Party Congress opened in December 1925.

    The situation within the Party was tense and strained. Never in its history had there been a case when the whole delegation from an important Party centre like Leningrad had prepared to come out in opposition to their Central Committee.

    The congress was attended by 665 delegates with vote and 641 with voice but no vote, representing 643,000 Party members and 445,000 candidate members, or a little less than at the previous congress. The reduction was due to a partial purge, a purge of the Party organizations in universities and offices to which anti-Party elements had gained entrance.

    The political report of the Central Committee was made by Comrade Stalin. He drew a vivid picture of the growth of the political and economic might of the Soviet Union. Thanks to the advantages of the Soviet economic system, both industry and agriculture had been restored in a comparatively short space of time and were approaching the pre-war level. But good as these results were, Comrade Stalin proposed that we should not rest there, for they could not nullify the fact that our country still remained a backward, agrarian country. Two-thirds of the total production of the country was provided by agriculture and only one-third by industry. Comrade Stalin said that the Party was now squarely confronted with the problem of converting our country into an industrial country, economically independent of capitalist countries. This could be done, and must be done. It was now the cardinal task of the Party to fight for the Socialist industrialization of the country, for the victory of Socialism.

    "The conversion of our country from an agrarian into an industrial country able to produce the machinery it needs by its own efforts -- that is the essence, the basis of our general line," said Comrade Stalin.

    The industrialization of the country would ensure its economic independence, strengthen its power of defence and create the conditions for the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.

    The Zinovievites opposed the general line of the Party. As against Stalin's plan of Socialist industrialization, the Zinovievite Sokolnikov put forward a bourgeois plan, one that was then in vogue among the imperialist sharks. According to this plan, the U.S.S.R. was to remain an agrarian country, chiefly producing raw materials and foodstuffs, exporting them, and importing machinery, which it did not and should not produce itself. As conditions were in 1925, this was tantamount to a plan for the economic enslavement of the U.S.S.R. by the industrially developed foreign countries, a plan for the perpetuation of the industrial backwardness of the U.S.S.R. for the benefit of the imperialist sharks of the capitalist countries.

    The adoption of this plan would have converted our country into an impotent agrarian, agricultural appendage of the capitalist world; it would have left it weak and defenceless against the surrounding capitalist world, and in the end would have been fatal to the cause of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.

    The congress condemned the economic "plan" of the Zinovievites as a plan for the enslavement of the U.S.S.R.

    Equally unsuccessful were the other sorties of the "New Opposition" as, for instance, when they asserted (in defiance of Lenin) that our state industries were not Socialist industries, or when they declared (again in defiance of Lenin) that the middle peasant could not be an ally of the working class in the work of Socialist construction.

    The congress condemned these sorties of the "New Opposition" as anti-Leninist.

    Comrade Stalin laid bare the Trotskyite-Menshevik essence of the "New Opposition." He showed that Zinoviev and Kamenev were only harping on the old tunes of the enemies of the Party with whom Lenin had waged so relentless a struggle.

    It was clear that the Zinovievites were nothing but ill-disguised Trotskyites.

    Comrade Stalin stressed the point that the main task of our Party was to maintain a firm alliance between the working class and the middle peasant in the work of building Socialism. He pointed to two deviations on the peasant question existing in the Party at that time, both of which constituted a menace to this alliance. The first deviation was the one that underestimated and belittled the kulak danger, the second was the one that stood in panic fear of the kulak and underestimated the role of the middle peasant. To the question, which deviation was worse, Comrade Stalin replied: "One is as bad as the other. And if these deviations are allowed to develop they may disintegrate and destroy the Party. Fortunately there are forces in our Party capable of ridding it of both deviations."

    And the Party did indeed rout both deviations, the "Left" and the Right, and rid itself of them.

    Summing up the debate on the question of economic development, the Fourteenth Party Congress unanimously rejected the capitulatory plans of the oppositionists and recorded in its now famous resolution:

    "In the sphere of economic development, the congress holds that in our land, the land of the dictatorship of the proletariat, there is 'every requisite for the building of a complete Socialist society' (Lenin ). The congress considers that the main task of our Party is to fight for the victory of Socialist construction in the U.S.S.R."

    The Fourteenth Party Congress adopted new Party Rules.

    Since the Fourteenth Congress our Party has been called the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) -- the C.P.S.U.(B.).

    Though defeated at the congress, the Zinovievites did not submit to the Party. They started a fight against the decisions of the Fourteenth Congress. Immediately following the congress, Zinoviev called a meeting of the Leningrad Provincial Committee of the Young Communist League, the leading group of which had been reared by Zinoviev, Zalutsky, Bakayev, Yevdokimov, Kuklin, Safarov and other double-dealers in a spirit of hatred of the Leninist Central Committee of the Party. At this meeting, the Leningrad Provincial Committee passed a resolution unparalleled in the history of the Y.C.L.: it refused to abide by the decisions of the Fourteenth Party Congress.

    But the Zinovievite leaders of the Leningrad Y.C.L. did not in any way reflect the mind of the mass of Young Communist Leaguers of Leningrad. They were therefore easily defeated, and soon the Leningrad organization recovered the place in the Y.C.L. to which it was entitled.

    Towards the close of the Fourteenth Congress a group of congress delegates -- Comrades Molotov, Kirov, Voroshilov, Kalinin, Andreyev and others -- were sent to Leningrad to explain to the members of the Leningrad Party organization the criminal, anti-Bolshevik nature of the stand taken up at the congress by the Leningrad delegation, who had secured their mandates under false pretences. The meetings at which the reports on the congress were made were marked by stormy scenes. An extraordinary conference of the Leningrad Party organization was called. The overwhelming majority of the Party members of Leningrad (over 97 per cent) fully endorsed the decisions of the Fourteenth Party Congress and condemned the anti-Party Zinovievite "New Opposition." The latter already at that time were generals without an army.

    The Leningrad Bolsheviks remained in the front ranks of the Party of Lenin-Stalin.

    Summing up the results of the Fourteenth Party Congress, Comrade Stalin wrote:

    "The historical significance of the Fourteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U. lies in the fact that it was able to expose the very roots of the mistakes of the New Opposition, that it spurned their scepticism and sniveling, that it clearly and distinctly indicated the path of the further struggle for Socialism, opened before the Party the prospect of victory, and thus armed the proletariat with an in vincible faith in the victory of Socialist construction." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. I, p. 319.)

 

B R I E F   S U M M A R Y
 

    The years of transition to the peaceful work of economic restoration constituted one of the most crucial periods in the history of the Bolshevik Party. In a tense situation, the Party was able to effect the difficult turn from the policy of War Communism to the New Economic Policy. The Party reinforced the alliance of the workers and peasants on a new economic foundation. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed.

    By means of the New Economic Policy, decisive results were obtained in the restoration of the economic life of the country. The Soviet Union emerged from the period of economic restoration with success and entered a new period, the period of industrialization of the country.

    The transition from Civil War to peaceful Socialist construction was accompanied by great difficulties, especially in the early stages. The enemies of Bolshevism, the anti-Party elements in the ranks of the C.P.S.U.(B.), waged a desperate struggle against the Leninist Party all through this period. These anti-Party elements were headed by Trotsky. His henchmen in this struggle were Kamenev, Zinoviev and Bukharin. After the death of Lenin, the oppositionists calculated on demoralizing the ranks of the Bolshevik Party, on splitting the Party, and infecting it with disbelief in the possibility of the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R. In point of fact, the Trotskyites were trying to form another party in the U.S.S.R., a political organization of the new bourgeoisie, a party of capitalist restoration.

    The Party rallied under the banner of Lenin around its Leninist Central Committee, around Comrade Stalin, and inflicted defeat both on the Trotskyites and on their new friends in Leningrad, the Zinoviev Kamenev New Opposition.

    Having accumulated strength and resources, the Bolshevik Party brought the country to a new stage in its history -- the stage of Socialist industrialization .