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V. I. Lenin
THE EIGHTH ALL-RUSSIA
CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
DECEMBER 22-29, 1920
Report on concessions; speech to
the R.C.P.(B.) group on December 24
and draft resolutions of the Congress
were first published in 1930; report
on the work of the Council of People's
Commissars, and reply to the debate
were published in 1921 in the book
The Eighth All-Russia Congress of
Soviets. Verbatim Report
Report on concessions and speech
to the R.C.P.(B.) group are published
according to the verbatim report;
report on the work of the Council
of People's Commissars, and reply
to the debate -- according to the text
in the book
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966
Vol. 31, pp. 461-534.
Translated from the Russian
Edited by Julius Katzer
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, firstname.lastname@example.org (July 2000)
THE EIGHTH ALL-RUSSIA CONGRESS OF SOVIETS, December
22-29, 1920 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
REPORT ON CONCESSIONS DELIVERED TO THE R C.P.(B.) GROUP AT THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS, DECEM-
BER 21 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE'S
COMMISSARS, DECEMBER 22 . . . . . . . . .
REPLY TO THE DEBATE ON THE REPORT ON THE WORK OF
THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE.'S COMMISSARS, DECEMBER 23
SPEECH DELIVERED AT A MEETING OF THE R.C P.(B.)
GROUP OF THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS, DECEM-
BER 24 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
DRAFT RESOLUTION OF THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOV-
IETS ON THE REPORT ON ELECTRIFICATION . . . . .
DRAFT RESOLUTION OF THE R.C.P.(B.) GROUP OF THE
EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS . . . . . . . .
page 462 [blank]
REPORT ON CONCESSIONS DELIVERED TO THE R C.P.(B.)
GROUP AT THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
Comrades, I think you have made a fully correct decision by preferring the discussion on concessions to be held first in the Party group. To the best of our knowledge, the question of concessions has everywhere aroused considerable concern and even anxiety, not only in Party circles and among the working-class masses but also among the masses of the peasantry. All comrades have pointed out that, since the decree of November 23 of this year, the questions most frequently raised and the written questions submitted at most meetings held on a variety of subjects have dealt with concessions, and the general tone of the questions, as well as of talk on the subject, has been one of apprehension: we have driven out our own capitalists, and now we want to admit others. I believe that this apprehension, this widespread interest in concessions -- displayed, not only by Party comrades but by many others -- is a good sign, which shows that in three years of incredibly hard struggle the workers' and peasants' state power has become so strong and our experience of the capitalists has become so fixed in the mind that the broad masses consider the workers' and peasants' state power stable enough to manage without concessions; they also consider their lesson learnt well enough to avoid any deals with the capitalists unless there is a dire necessity to do so. This sort of supervision from below, this kind of apprehension emanating from the masses, and this kind of anxiety among non-Party circles show the highly vigilant attention that is being paid to relations between
us and the capitalists. I believe that on this score we should absolutely welcome this apprehension as revealing the temper of the masses.
Yet I think that we shall come to the conclusion that, in the question of concessions, we cannot be guided by this revolutionary instinct alone. When we have analysed all aspects of the question we shall see that the policy we have adopted -- the policy of offering concessions -- is the<"p464"> correct one. I can tell you briefly that the main subject of my report -- or rather the repetition of a talk I had very recently in Moscow with several hundred leading executives, because I have not prepared a report and cannot present it to you -- the main subject of this talk is to offer proof of two premises: first, that any war is merely the continuation of peacetime politics by other means, and second, that the concessions which we are giving, which we are forced to give, are a continuation of war in another form, using other means. To prove these two premises, or rather to prove only the second because the first does not require any special proof, I shall begin with the political aspect of the question. I shall dwell on those relations existing between the present-day imperialist powers, which are important for an understanding of present-day foreign po!icy in its entirety, and of our reasons for adopting this policy.
The American Vanderlip sent a letter to the Council of People's Commissars in which he said that the Republicans, members of the Republican Party of America, the party of the banking interests, which is linked with memories of the war against the Southern States for liberation, were not in power at the time. He wrote this before the November elections, which he hoped the Republicans would win (they have won them) and have their own president in March. The Republicans' policy, he went on, would not repeat the follies that had involved America in European affairs, they would look after their own interests. American interests would lead them to a clash with Japan, and they would fight Japan. It might interest you to know, he went on, that in 1923 the U.S. navy would be stronger than Britain's. To fight, they needed control of oil, without which they could not wage a modern war. They not only needed oil,
but also had to take steps to ensure that the enemy did not get any. Japan was in a bad way in that respect. Somewhere near Kamchatka there is an inlet (whose name he had forgotten) with oil deposits, and they did not want the Japanese to get that oil. If we sold them that land, Vanderlip could vouch that the Americans would grow so enthusiastic that the U.S. would immediately recognise our government. If we offered a concession, and did not sell them the land, he could not say that they would refuse to examine the project, but he could not promise the enthusiasm that would guarantee recognition of the Soviet Government.
Vanderlip's letter is quite outspoken; with unparalleled cynicism he outlines the point of view of an imperialist who clearly sees that a war with Japan is imminent, and poses the question openly and directly -- enter into a deal with us and you will get certain advantages from it. The issue is the following: the Far East, Kamchatka and a piece of Siberia are de facto in the possession of Japan insofar as her troops are in control there, and circumstances made necessary the creation of a buffer state, the Far Eastern Republic. We are well aware of the unbelievable sufferings<"p465"> that the Siberian peasants are enduring at the hands of the Japanese imperialists and the atrocities the Japanese have committed in Siberia. The comrades from Siberia know this; their recent publications have given details of it. Nevertheless, we cannot go to war with Japan and must make every effort, not only to put off a war with Japan but, if possible, to avert it because, for reasons known to you, it is beyond our strength. At the same time Japan is causing us tremendous losses by depriving us of our links with world trade through the Pacific Ocean. Under such conditions, when we are confronted with a growing conflict, an imminent clash between America and Japan -- for a most stubborn struggle has been going on for many decades between Japan and America over the Pacific Ocean and the mastery of its shores, and the entire diplomatic, economic and trade history of the Pacific Ocean and its shores is full of quite definite indications that the struggle is developing and making war between America and Japan inevitable -- we return to a situation we were in for three years: we are a Socialist Republic surrounded by imperialist countries that
are far stronger than us in the military sense, are using every means of agitation and propaganda to increase hatred for the Soviet Republic, and will never miss an opportunity for military intervention, as they put it, i.e., to strangle Soviet power.
If, remembering this, we cast a glance over the history of the past three years from the point of view of the international situation of the Soviet Republic, it becomes clear that we have been able to hold out and have been able to defeat the Entente powers -- an alliance of unparalleled might that was supported by our whiteguards -- only because there has been no unity among these powers. We have so far been victorious only because of the most profound discord among the imperialist powers, and only because that discord has not been a fortuitous and internal dissension between parties, but a most deep-seated and ineradicable conflict of economic interests among the imperialist countries which, based on private property in land and capital, cannot but pursue a predatory policy which has stultified their efforts to unite their forces against the Soviets. I take Japan, who controlled almost the whole of Siberia and could, of course, have helped Kolchak at any time. The main reason she did not do so was that her interests differ radically from those of America, and she did not want to pull chestnuts out of the fire for U.S. capital. Knowing this weakness, we could of course pursue no other policy than that of taking advantage of this enmity between America and Japan so as to strengthen ourselves and delay any possibility of an agreement between Japan and America against us;<"p466"> we have had an instance of the possibility of such an agreement: American newspapers carried the text of an agreement between all countries who had promised to support Kolchak
That agreement fell through, of course, but it is not impossible that an attempt will be made to restore it at the first opportunity. The deeper and more formidable the communist movement grows, the greater will be the number of new attempts to strangle our Republic. Hence our policy of utilising the discord among the imperialist powers so as to hamper an agreement or to make one temporarily impossible. This has been the fundamental line of our policy for
three years; it necessitated the conclusion of the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, as well as the signing, with Bullitt, of a peace treaty and an armistice agreement most disadvantageous to us. This political line of conduct enjoins us to grasp at a proposal on the granting of concessions. Today we are giving America Kamchatka, which in any case is not actually ours because it is held by Japanese troops. At the moment we are in no condition to fight Japan. We are giving America, for economic exploitation, a territory where we have absolutely no naval or military forces, and where we cannot send them. By doing so we are setting American imperialism against Japanese imperialism and against the bourgeoisie closest to us, the Japanese bourgeoisie, which still maintains its hold on the Far Eastern Republic.
Thus, our main interests were political at the concessions negotiations. Recent events, moreover, have shown with the greatest clarity that we have been the gainers from the mere fact of negotiations on concessions. We have not yet granted any concessions, and shall not be able to do so until the American president takes office, which will not be before March; besides, we reserve the possibility of renouncing the agreement when the details are being worked out.
It follows, therefore, that in this matter the economic interest is secondary, its real value lying in its political interest. The contents of the press we have received goes to show that we have been the gainers. Vanderlip himself insisted that the concessions plan should be kept secret for the time being, until the Republican Party had won the elections. We agreed not to publish either his letter or the entire preliminary draft. However, it appeared that such a secret could not be kept for long. No sooner had Vanderlip returned to America than exposures of various kinds began. Before the elections Harding was candidate for the presidency; he has now been elected. The selfsame Harding published in the press a denial of the report that he was in touch with the Soviets through Vanderlip. That denial was categorical, almost in the following words: I don't know Vanderlip and recognise no relations with the Soviets. The reason behind this denial is quite obvious. On the eve of the elections in bourgeois America, it might have meant losing
several hundred thousand votes for Harding to become known as a supporter of an agreement with the Soviets, and so he hastened to announce in the press that he did not know any Vanderlip. As soon as the elections were over, however, information of a quite different kind began to come in from America. In a number of newspaper articles Vanderlip came out in full support of an agreement with the Soviets and even wrote in one article that he compared Lenin to Washington. It turns out, therefore, that in the bourgeois countries we have propagandists for an agreement with us, and have won these propagandists from among representatives of exploiters of the worst type, such as Vanderlip, and not in the person of the Soviet ambassador or among certain journalists.
When I told a meeting of leading executives what I am now telling you, a comrade just back from America where he had worked in Vanderlip's factories, said he had been horrified; nowhere had he seen such exploitation as at Vanderlip's factories. And now in the person of this capitalist shark we have won a propagandist for trade relations with Soviet Russia, and even if we do not get anything except the proposed agreement on concessions we shall still be able to say that we have gained something. We have received a number of reports, secret ones, of course, to the effect that the capitalist countries have not given up the idea of launching a new war against Soviet Russia in the spring. We have learnt that preliminary steps are being taken by some capitalist states, while whiteguard elements are, it may be said, making preparations in all countries. Our chief interest therefore, lies in achieving the re-establishment of trade relations, and for that purpose we need to have at least a section of the capitalists on our side.
In Britain the struggle has been going on for a long time. We have gained by the mere fact that among those who represent the worst capitalist exploitation we have people who back the policy of restoring trade relations with Russia. The agreement with Britain -- a trade agreement -- has not yet been signed. Krasin is now actively negotiating it in London. The British Government has submitted its draft to us and we have presented our counterdraft, but all the same we see that the British Government is dragging
out the negotiations and that there is a reactionary military group hard at work there which is hindering the conclusion of trade agreements and has so far been successful. It is our prime interest and prime duty to support anything that can strengthen the parties and groups working for the conclusion of this agreement with us. In Vanderlip we have gained such a supporter, not by mere chance or because Vanderlip is particularly enterprising or knows Siberia very well. The causes here lie much deeper and are linked with the development of the interests of British imperialism, which possesses a huge number of colonies. This rift between American and British imperialism is deep, and it is our imperative duty to base ourselves on it.
I have mentioned that Vanderlip is particularly knowledgeable in respect of Siberia. When our talks were coming to a close, Comrade Chicherin pointed out that Vanderlip should be received because it would have an excellent effect on his further actions in Western Europe. Of course, the prospect of talking to such a capitalist shark was not of the pleasantest, but then I had had to talk very politely, by way of duty, even to the late Mirbach, so I was certainly not afraid of a talk with Vanderlip. It is interesting that when Vanderlip and I exchanged all sorts of pleasantries and he started joking and telling me that the Americans are an extremely practical people and do not believe what they are told until they see it with their own eyes, I said to him, half in banter: "Now you can see how good things are in Soviet Russia and you can introduce the same in America." He answered me, not in English but in Russian: "Mozhet byt."[*] Why, you even know Russian?" He answered: "A long time ago I travelled five thousand versts through Siberia and the country interested me greatly." This humorous exchange of pleasantries with Vanderlip ended by his saying as he was leaving, "Yes, it is true Mr. Lenin has no horns and I must tell that to my friends in America." It would have seemed simply ridiculous had it not been for the further reports in the European press to the effect that the Soviets are a monster no relations can be established with. We were given an opportunity to throw
* Perhaps. --Ed.
into that swamp a stone in the person of Vanderlip, who favours the re-establishment of trade relations with us.
There has not been a single report from Japan that has not spoken of the extraordinary alarm in Japanese commercial circles. The Japanese public say that they will never go against their own interests, and are opposed to concessions in Soviet Russia. In short, we have a terrific aggravation of the enmity between Japan and America and thus an undoubted slackening of both Japanese and American pressure on us.
At the meeting of executives in Moscow where I had to mention the fact, the following question was asked. "It appears," one of the comrades wrote, "that we are driving Japan and America to war, but it is the workers and peasants who will do the fighting. Although these are imperialist powers, is it worthy of us socialists to drive two powers into a war against each other, which will lead to the shedding of workers blood?" I replied that if we were really driving workers and peasants to war that would be a crime. All our politics and propaganda, however, are directed towards putting an end to war and in no way towards driving nations to war. Experience has shown sufficiently that the socialist revolution is the only way out of eternal warfare. Our policy, therefore, is not that of involving others in a war. We have not done anything justifying, directly or indirectly, a war between Japan and America. All our propaganda and all our newspaper articles try to drive home the truth that a war between America and Japan would be just as much an imperialist war as the one between the British and the German groups in 1914, and that socialists should think, not of defending their respective countries but of overthrowing the power of the capitalists; they should think of the workers' revolution. Is it the correct policy for us to use the discord between the imperialist bandits to make it more difficult for them to unite against us who are doing everything in our power to accelerate that revolution, but are in the position of a weak socialist republic that is being attacked by imperialist bandits? Of course, it is the correct policy. We have pursued that policy for four years. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was the chief expression of this policy. While the German imperialists
were offering resistance, we were able to hold out even when the Red Army had not yet been formed, by using the contradictions existing between the imperialists.
Such was the situation in which our concessions policy in respect to Kamchatka emerged. This type of concession is quite exceptional. I shall speak later of the way the other concessions are taking shape. For the moment I shall confine myself to the political aspect of the question. I want to point out that the relations between Japan and America show why it is to our advantage to offer concessions or to use them as an inducement. Concessions presume some kind of re-establishment of peaceful agreements, the restoration of trade relations; they presume the possibility for us to begin direct and extensive purchases of the machinery we need. We must turn all our efforts to achieving this. That has not yet been done.
The comrade who has asked about the resumption of trade relations with Britain wants to know why the signing of the agreement with that country has been held up. My answer is that it is being delayed because the British Government is hesitant. Most of the trade and industrial bourgeoisie in Britain are in favour of relations being resumed and clearly realise that any action for war means taking enormous risks and speeding up the revolution. You will remember that during our drive on Warsaw the British Government presented us with an ultimatum, threatening to order its navy to sail against Petrograd. You will remember that Councils of Action sprang up all over Britain at the time and the Menshevik leaders of the British working class declared that they were against war and would not permit one. On the other hand, the reactionary section of the British bourgeoisie and the military clique at court are in favour of the war continuing. The delay in signing the trade agreement must undoubtedly be ascribed to their influence. I shall not go into all the details of these trade relations with Britain, or of this agreement on trade relations with Britain, because it would take me too far afield. This delicate problem had recently to be very thoroughly discussed by the Central Committee of the Party. We have returned to it again and again, and our policy in this matter has been marked by the greatest degree of accommodation. Our aim
now is to obtain a trade agreement with Britain so as to start more regular trade and be able to buy as soon as possible the machinery necessary for our extensive plan to rehabilitate the national economy. The sooner we do this the greater will be the basis ensuring our economic independence of the capitalist countries. At present, after having burnt their fingers in the armed invasion of Russia, they cannot think of an immediate resumption of the war. We must seize the opportunity and bend every effort to achieve trade relations even at the cost of maximum concessions, for we cannot for a moment believe in lasting trade relations with the imperialist powers; the respite will be temporary. The experience of the history of revolutions and great conflicts teaches us that wars, a series of wars, are inevitable. The existence of a Soviet Republic alongside of capitalist countries -- a Soviet Republic surrounded by capitalist countries -- is so intolerable to the capitalists that they will seize any opportunity to resume the war. The peoples are weary of the imperialist war and threaten to make their indignation felt if war continues, but the possibility of the capitalists being able to resume it in a few years is not precluded. That is why we must exert every effort to utilise the opportunity, since it exists, and conclude trade agreements. I can say the following here (this is not for the record) I think that we shall ultimately emerge on top as a result of our firm stand that the Communist International is not a governmental institution. That is the more probable for the British bourgeoisie having to realise the ridiculousness of rising up against the Third International. The Third International was formed in March 1919. Its Second Congress was held in July 1920, following which the terms proposed in Moscow were made publicly known in all countries. An open struggle is going on for adhesion to the Communist International. The organisational foundations for the formation of Communist parties exist everywhere. In these circumstances, any attempt to present us seriously with an ultimatum that we get rid of the Communist International is inexcusable. However, the emphasis laid on the matter shows where the shoe pinches and what displeases them in our policy. Even without that, we have known what it is in our policy that is not to their liking. The East is
another question that can be spoken of at a Party meeting, and is alarming Britain. The latter wants us to give assurances that we will do nothing against Britain's interests in the East. We are willing and ready to give such an undertaking. As an example I might mention that the Congress of Peoples of the East, a Communist congress, took place, not in the R.S.F.S.R. but in Baku, in the independent republic of Azerbaijan. The British Government will have no reason to accuse us of doing anything against British interests. In their ignorance of our Constitution, they sometimes confuse the Azerbaijan Republic with the Russian Soviet Republic. Our laws are definite and precise on that score, and it will be easy to refute the false interpretations of the British ministers. However, there are still differences on this subject, and Krasin is engaged with the ministers in talks on these two sore points.
In July, when Poland was threatened with utter defeat, and the Red Army was about to crush her, the complete text of an agreement was presented by Britain, which in effect said that we had to declare as a matter of principle that we would not carry on official propaganda or do any thing contrary to British interests in the East. That was to be laid down at a subsequent political conference, but at the moment they were concluding a definite trade agreement. They asked whether we would like to sign it. We replied that we would. Today we say again that we will sign such an agreement. The political conference will specify Britain's interests in the East. We also have certain interests in the East, and we shall set them forth in detail when the need arises. Britain cannot say outright that she is abandoning her July proposal and so she is dragging things out and concealing from her own people the truth about the negotiations. The outcome of the negotiations is uncertain and we cannot guarantee that an agreement will be signed. The very powerful court and military circles in Britain are opposed to the agreement. We are, however, proposing maximum concessions, and we believe it to be in our interests to sign a trade pact and purchase with all possible dispatch some of the essentials for the restoration of the railways (i.e., locomotives), for the rehabilitation of industry, and for electrification. This is more important to us than anything
else. If we achieve that, we shall become so strong a few years that even, if the worst comes to the worst and there is armed intervention in a few years' time, it will fail because we shall be stronger than we are now. The line we in the Central Committee are following is one of maximum concessions to Britain. If these gentlemen think they will catch us breaking promises, we declare that our government will not carry on any official propaganda and that we have no intention of infringing on any of Britain's interests in the East. If they hope to derive some advantage from this, let them try; we shall not be the losers.
I now come to the question of the relations between Britain and France. These are confused. On the one hand, Britain and France belong to the League of Nations and are obliged to act jointly; on the other hand, whenever any tension arises they fail to do so. When Comrade Kamenev was in London conducting negotiations together with Krasin, this became quite obvious. France was in favour of supporting Poland and Wrangel, but the British Government declared it would not support France. Concessions are more acceptable to Britain than to France, which still aspires to get her debts paid back, while in Britain capitalists with any business sense no longer think about it. From that angle, too, it is to our advantage to use the dissension between Britain and France, and we must therefore insist on the political proposal of concessions to Britain. We now have a draft agreement on timber concessions in the Far North. Since there is no political unity between Britain and France, our position imposes on us the duty of even incurring a certain risk, if only we succeed in hampering a military alliance between Britain and France against us. A new war that Britain and France will support against us will be an immense burden on us (even if it ends as the war with Wrangel has done, in our complete victory), it will hinder our economic development and worsen the condition of the workers and peasants. We must therefore be ready to do whatever involves the least loss. Obviously, the losses from concessions are negligible compared with those that would arise from a delay in our economic development and the loss of thousands of workers and peasants that would ensue were we unable to withstand the alliance
of the imperialists. Negotiations on concessions with Britain are one of the means of standing up to their alliance. That is the political aspect of the issue.
Last, the final aspect of the matter is the attitude of Britain and the entire Entente to Germany. If we exclude America, Germany is the most advanced country. In the development of electricity her technical level is even higher than America's. The conditions obtaining in Germany in consequence of the Treaty of Versailles make her existence impossible. Because of that situation it is natural for Germany to be prompted towards an alliance with Russia. When the Russian troops were approaching Warsaw, all Germany was seething. An alliance between Russia and Germany, a country that has been strangled, a country that is able to set gigantic productive forces in motion -- this situation has led to a political mix up in Germany: the German Black Hundreds sympathise with the Russian Bolsheviks in the same way as the Spartacus League does. This can well be understood because it derives from economic causes, and is the basis of the entire economic situation and of our foreign policy.
While we stand alone and the capitalist world is strong, our foreign policy consists, on the one hand, in our having to utilise disagreements (to vanquish all the imperialist powers would, of course, be a most pleasant thing, but for a fairly long time we shall not be in a position to do so). On the one hand, our existence depends on the presence of radical differences between the imperialist powers, and, on the other, on the Entente's victory and the Peace of Versailles having thrown the vast majority of the German nation into a situation it is impossible for them to live in. The Peace of Versailles has created a situation in which Germany cannot even dream of a breathing-space, or of not being plundered, of not having the means of subsistence taken away from her, of her people not being doomed to starvation and extinction; Germany cannot even dream of any of these things, so that, naturally, her only means of salvation lies in an alliance with Soviet Russia, a country towards which her eyes are therefore turning. They are furiously opposing Soviet Russia; they detest the Bolsheviks, and shoot down their own Communists in the manner of real whiteguards. The
German bourgeois government has an implacable hatred of the Bolsheviks, but such is its international position that, against its own desires, the government is driven towards peace with Soviet Russia. That, comrades, is the second corner-stone of our international policy, our foreign policy; it is to show peoples that are conscious of the bourgeois yoke that there is no salvation for them without the Soviet Republic. Since the Soviet Republic withstood the onslaught of the imperialists for three years, this goes to show that one country, and that country alone, has been successful in hurling back this imperialist yoke. That country has been called a country of "robbers", "plunderers", "bandits", Bolsheviks, etc. -- let that be so, but still it is impossible to improve the economic situation without that country.
In a situation such as this, the question of concessions acquires still another aspect. The pamphlet I have in my hands<"p476"> is the Decree on Concessions of November 23. It will be distributed to all members of the Congress. We intend to publish this pamphlet abroad, in several languages. It is our immediate object to do everything possible to arouse interest in concessions among the population of the greatest number of countries, to interest those countries that are the most oppressed. The divergence of interests between Japan and America is very great. They are unable to agree between themselves over China, a number of islands, etc. The divergence of interests between Germany and the Entente is of another kind. Germany's existence has been made impossible by the conditions in which the Entente has placed her. People are dying there because the Entente has been requisitioning their motors and their cattle. Such a situation urges Germany towards a rapprochement with Soviet Russia. I do not know the details of the treaty between Germany and the Entente, but in any case the treaty is known to ban direct trade relations between Germany and Soviet Russia. When we arranged for the purchase of German locomotives, that was done through the agency of Sweden. Germany will hardly be able to restore direct trade relations with us before April 1921. However, progress in restoring our trade relations with Germany is more rapid than with the Entente. The conditions of existence in
Germany are compelling the German people as a whole, including the Black Hundreds and the capitalists, to seek relations with Soviet Russia. Germany is already linked with us by certain trade relations. These links can become closer inasmuch as we are offering Germany agricultural concessions. It is therefore clear that we must advance concessions as an economic method, even irrespective of the measure in which we are able to put the project into effect. The interest in concessions is so obvious that even if we do not succeed in granting a single concession, or none of our agreements are put into effect (and even that is quite possible) -- even in that case we shall still have gained something, and we still have to pursue our policy because by so doing we make it more difficult for the imperialist countries to attack us.
Irrespective of this, we must tell all the oppressed peoples that a handful of countries are overtly or covertly, consciously or unconsciously, strangling other peoples -- this derives from the Treaty of Versailles -- and these peoples are turning to us for help, and are becoming more and more aware of the economic necessity of an alliance with Soviet Russia against international imperialism. Agricultural concessions, therefore, are of a wider scope than the old bourgeois concessions; they are different from the old capitalist concessions. They remain capitalist in character inasmuch as we tell the German capitalists to bring so many tractors into our country, in exchange for which we shall give them so much excellent virgin land and grain. We are attracting capital with the prospect of tremendous profits. In this respect the concessions are a purely capitalist undertaking, but they acquire an immeasurably greater significance because Germany as a nation, Austria and other countries cannot exist because they need aid in food and because the entire people, irrespective of whether the capitalists make a profit of a hundred or two hundred per cent, can, despite anti-Bolshevik prejudices, see that the Bolsheviks are establishing completely different international relations which make it possible for all oppressed peoples to rid themselves of the imperialist yoke. That is why our successes of the last three years will lead to still greater successes in foreign policy during the coming year. Our policy is grouping around the Soviet Republic those capitalist
countries which are being strangled by imperialism. That is why our concessions proposal has more than a capitalist significance; that is why it is a hand held out, not only to the German capitalists with the offer, "Bring us hundreds of tractors and make as much as three hundred per cent on each ruble if you like"; it is a hand held out to oppressed peoples, an alliance of the oppressed masses, which is a factor in the future proletarian revolution. The doubts and fears that still exist in the advanced countries, which assert that Russia could risk a socialist revolution because she is a vast country with her own means of subsistence while they, the industrial countries of Europe, cannot do so because they have no allies -- these doubts and fears are groundless. We say: "You now have an ally, Soviet Russia." Since we are granting concessions, this will be an alliance that will consolidate the alliance against world imperialism. This is a postulate that must not be lost sight of, it justifies our concessions policy and proves the need to grant concessions.
And now for several purely economic considerations. I shall now go on to these considerations and read out the stipulations of the law, although I hope that the comrades present here have read the law of November 23. I shall, however, remind you briefly that it says that concessionaires shall be paid with part of the products, that when special technical improvements have been introduced, we are prepared to offer trade advantages, and that the term of concessions will be more or less prolonged, depending on the volume and character of the expenditures involved. We guarantee that property invested in an enterprise shall not be confiscated or requisitioned.
Without such a guarantee owners of private capital and private property will not, of course, enter into relations with us. The question of courts, which was at first raised in the draft agreement, was subsequently removed, since we saw that this was not to our advantage. Thus the judicial authority on our territory remains in our hands. In the event of a dispute, the issue will be settled by our judges. This will be not requisitioning but the lawful exercise of jurisprudence by our judicial bodies.
The fifth clause in the agreement deals with the code of labour laws. In the original draft of the agreement, which
was discussed with Vanderlip, provision was made for the withdrawal of the application of the labour code in localities inhabited by underdeveloped tribes, we cannot say which. In such places no code of labour laws is possible. The labour code was to be replaced in such areas by a special agreement on guarantees for the workers.
In the final clause we guarantee the concessionaire against any unilateral changes. Without this guarantee, there can, of course, be no question of granting concessions. The question of what is meant by non-unilateral changes has, however, been left open. That will depend on the text of the agreement on each individual concession. Arbitration may be possible through some of the neutral powers. This is a point that may lead to differences, and leaves a certain latitude in determining the actual terms of a concession. It should, incidentally, be pointed out that in the capitalist countries the Menshevik leaders of the working class are considered reliable people. They enter bourgeois governments, and it is very difficult for bourgeois governments to challenge such mediators or arbitrators as the Mensheviks or social-traitors of the European countries. Experience has shown, however, that when any serious tension arises, the American and European Mensheviks behave just like the Russian Mensheviks do, i.e., they do not know how to behave, and are obliged to yield to the pressure of the revolutionary masses, though they themselves remain opposed to the revolution. The question remains open; we shall not decide it in advance.
From the terms that I have read out to you, you will see that economic relations between the capitalist concessionaires and the Socialist Republic are far from stable or durable. It is obvious that a capitalist who retains private property and exploitation relations cannot be anything but a foreign body in a socialist republic. Hence one of the main themes in my report: concessions are a continuation of war by other means. I shall deal with that in detail in a moment, but first I want to mention the three main forms or kinds of the concessions.
In this pamphlet we have given a list of the chief concessions; the comrades from the Supreme Council of the National Economy who provided the material for the pam-
phlet and edited it, have appended maps showing these objects. These maps show that the concessions fall into three main groups -- first, timber concessions in the Far North, second, agricultural concessions and third, mining concessions in Siberia.
Our economic interest in timber concessions in the Far North of European Russia is obvious; there are tens and even hundreds of millions of dessiatines of forest land which we are quite unable to exploit because we lack the railways, the means of production and the possibility of providing the workers there with food, but which could be exploited by a country that owns a big merchant fleet and could fell and saw timber properly and export it in tremendous quantities.
If we want to trade with foreign countries -- and we do want to, because we realise its necessity -- our chief interest is in obtaining as quickly as possible, from the capitalist countries, the means of production (locomotives, machinery, and electrical equipment) without which we cannot more or less seriously rehabilitate our industry, or perhaps may even be unable to do so at all, because the machinery needed by our factories cannot be made available. It is with the motive of extra profit that we must attract the capitalist. He will get surplus profit -- well, let him have that surplus profit; we shall obtain the fundamentals that will help strengthen us; we shall stand firmly on our own feet, and shall win in the economic field. We shall have to pay up if we want to get the best machinery, etc. What are we to pay with? We still dispose of gold reserves totalling several millions. You will see from the special plan for the electrification of Russia, drawn up for several decades, that this plan, together with the additional work for the rehabilitation of industry, will involve an approximate expenditure of something like 17,000 million gold rubles. Electrification alone will require the direct expenditure of more than 1,000 million rubles in gold. We cannot cover this with our gold reserves; it is extremely undesirable and dangerous for us to export foodstuffs because we have not got sufficient for our own industry, and yet this need has to be met. In this case there is no concession project economically more suitable for us than the forests of the Far North which cover an enormous area, and where the timber is rotting away
and a total loss because we are economically unable to exploit these timber reserves. Timber, however, is of tremendous value on the world market. Besides, the Far North is also convenient politically because it is an outlying border area. This concession is convenient to us both politically<"p481"> and economically, and we must make the best possible use of it. At the Moscow Conference I have told you about, Milyutin said that negotiations with Britain about concessions in the north of European Russia are progressing. There are several scores of millions of dessiatines of standing timber there. If we grant three or five million dessiatines disposed chequerwise, we shall get an opportunity to derive advantage from up-to-date enterprises, an opportunity to learn, by stipulating that our technicians take part in the work; we shall thus gain a lot and make it difficult for capitalist powers that enter into deals with us to take part in military action against us, because war cancels everything, and should one break out we shall get possession of all the buildings, installations and railways. Any possible action against us by new Kolchaks, Denikins and others will not be made the easier.
The second type is agricultural concessions. With the exception of West Siberia with its vast expanses of excellent land, inaccessible to us because of its great distance from railways, there are in European Russia and along the River Ural alone (our Commissariat of Agriculture has taken the necessary steps and has calculated the amount of land we cannot cultivate, which is no less than 3,000,000 dessiatines along the River Ural, abandoned by entire Cossack villages as a result of the victorious culmination of the Civil War) excellent lands that must be brought under the plough, but which we cannot cultivate because of the shortage of draught animals and our weakened productive forces.
The state farms of the Don Region have about 800,000 dessiatines which we cannot cultivate; to cultivate this land we shall need a tremendous number of draught animals or entire tractor columns that we cannot put on the fields, while some capitalist countries, including those that urgently need foodstuffs -- Austria, Germany and Bohemia -- could put tractors to work and obtain excellent wheat in good season. We do not know to what extent we shall be
able to carry that out. At present we have two tractor plants' functioning, in Moscow and Petrograd, but in consequence of the difficult conditions that obtain they cannot produce tractors in large numbers. We could ease the situation by purchasing a greater number of tractors. Tractors are the most important means of effecting a radical change in the old farming methods and of extending the area cultivated. By such concessions we shall show a large number of countries that we are able to develop the world economy on a gigantic scale.
If our propaganda and our proposal do not meet with success, and if our proposal is not accepted, we shall still reap an advantage that is not only political but socialist as well. What is going on in the capitalist world is not only a waste of wealth, but madness and a crime, for in some countries there is a food surplus that cannot be sold because of currency revolutions, since money has depreciated in a number of countries that have suffered defeat. Huge stocks of foodstuffs are rotting away, while tens of millions of people in countries like Germany are actually starving. This absurdity, this crime of capitalism, is becoming obvious to all capitalist countries and to the small countries that surround Russia. To the capitalist countries the Soviet Republic says: "We have hundreds of thousands of dessiatines of excellent land that can be ploughed with tractors; you have the tractors, the petrol and the trained technicians; we propose to all peoples, including the peoples of the capitalist countries, to make the rehabilitation of the economy and the salvation of all peoples from hunger their main object." If the capitalists do not understand this, it is an argument demonstrating the corruption, madness and criminal nature of the capitalist system. That will be of more than mere propaganda value: it will be a communist call for revolution, for it shows beyond doubt that capitalism is falling apart and cannot satisfy the people's needs, a fact that is more and more penetrating into the consciousness of all peoples. An insignificant minority of imperialist countries are growing rich, while a large number of other countries are actually on the verge of ruin. The world economy needs reorganisation, and the Soviet Republic comes forward with a plan of reconstruction, with
the following incontestable business-like, and realisable proposal: "You are starving under capitalism, despite the fabulous wealth of machinery. We can solve the crisis by bringing together your machinery and our raw materials, but the capitalists are in the way. We have proposed to them that they should accept our offer, but they are holding back and wrecking our plan." That is the second type of concession, the agricultural or tractor type.
Mining concessions are the third type. These are indicated on the map of Siberia, with details of each area in which concessions are being considered. Siberia's mineral wealth is literally boundless, and at best, even given significant progress, we cannot exploit even a hundredth part of it for many years. The minerals are to be found in conditions that demand the best machinery. There are such products as copper ore, which the capitalists need badly for their electrical industry because it is in such short supply. It is possible to rehabilitate the world economy and improve the world's technology if they enter into regular relations with us.
It is, of course, more difficult to implement these concessions, i.e., they present greater difficulties than timber or agricultural concessions do. As far as agricultural concessions are concerned, it is only a matter of a brief working period with tractors being used. Timber concessions are also easier, especially as they concern an area we cannot avail ourselves of; but mining concessions are frequently at no great distance from the railways, frequently in densely populated areas. Here the danger is serious and we shall weigh the pros and cons very carefully to see whether or not they should be granted; we shall do so on definite terms, for there is no doubt that concessions are a new kind of war. The capitalists are coming to us to wage a new kind of war -- the very existence of the capitalists is in itself a war against the socialist world surrounding them. Capitalist enterprises in a socialist state are in the economic sense a war for freedom of trade, against the policy of compulsory deliveries,<"p483"> a war for private property against a republic that has abolished that property. On this economic basis there develop a variety of relationships (similar to the hostility between the Sukharevka Market and
our institutions). We may be told that we are closing down the Sukharevka black market but opening up a number of other "Sukharevkas" by letting the capitalists in. We have not closed our eyes to this, and say: if we have been victorious till now, if we were victorious when our enemies used every means to disrupt our enterprises, when there was disruption from within combined with that from without, then we must surely be able to deal with such things, to keep an eye on them when they are in certain limited areas and there are definite conditions and relations. We have practical experience of the struggle against military espionage and against capitalist sabotage. We fought against them when they were under cover in our own institutions; surely we shall be able to handle them when the capitalists have been let in according to a definite list and under definite conditions. We know, of course, that they will try to break these conditions, and we shall combat such infractions. But, comrades, concessions on a capitalist foundation means war. Until we have overthrown capital in other countries, and while capital is much stronger than we are, its forces can be sent against us at any time and it can start another war against us. For this reason we have to make ourselves stronger, and to do that we must develop large-scale industry and get our transport going. In carrying this out, we are taking a risk; here we again have relations of warfare, of struggle, and if they try to undermine our policy, we shall fight them. It would be grossly mistaken to think that a peaceful agreement on concessions is a peaceful agreement with capitalists. It is an agreement concerning war, but an agreement that is less dangerous to us, besides being less burdensome for the workers and peasants, less burdensome than at the time when the best tanks and guns were being thrown into action against us; we must therefore use all methods, and, at the cost of economic concessions, develop our economic forces and facilitate our economic rehabilitation. The capitalists will, of course, not honour their agreements, say comrades who are afraid of concessions. It is quite impossible, of course, to be sure that the capitalists will honour agreements. It will be a war, and war is the ultimate argument, which in general remains an argument entering the relations of the socialist republic.
War threatens us at any hour. We are conducting peace negotiations with Poland, and there is every chance that peace will be concluded, or at least, to be more exact, the vast majority of chances are that peace will be concluded. There is no doubt, however, that the Savinkovs and the French capitalists are working to prevent the treaty from being signed. To the capitalists war is possible tomorrow if not today, and they would willingly start a war today if they had not learnt something from three years' experience. Concessions constitute a certain risk; they are a loss; they are the continuation of war. There is no doubt of this, but it is a war that is more to our advantage. When we have obtained a certain minimum of the means of production, locomotives and machines, then we shall be different, in the economic sense, from what we have been till now, and the imperialist countries will be still less dangerous to us.
We have been told that the concessionaires will create exclusive conditions for their workers, and supply them with better clothes, better footwear, and better food. That will be their propaganda among our workers, who are suffering privation and will have to suffer privation for a long time to come. We shall then have a socialist republic in which the workers are poverty-stricken and next to it a capitalist island, in which the workers get an excellent livelihood. This apprehension is frequently voiced at our Party meetings. Of course, there is a danger of that kind, and it shows that concessions are a continuation of war and do not constitute peace. We have, however, experienced far greater deprivations and have seen that workers from capitalist countries nevertheless come to our country, knowing that the economic conditions awaiting them in Russia are far worse; surely, then, we ought to be able to defend ourselves against such propaganda with counter-propaganda; surely we should be able to show the workers that capitalism can, of course, provide better conditions for certain groups of its workers, but that this does not improve the conditions of the rest of the workers. And lastly, why is it that at every contact with bourgeois Europe and America we, not they, have always won? Why is it that to this day it is they who fear to send delegations to us, and not we to them? To this day we have always managed to win over to our side at least
a small part of the delegations, despite the fact that such delegations consisted in the main of Menshevik elements, and that they were people who came to us for short periods. Should we be afraid of being unable to explain the truth to the workers?! We should be in a bad way if we had such fears, if we were to place such considerations above the direct interest which is a matter of the greatest significance as far as concessions are concerned. The position of our peasants and workers remains a difficult one. It must be improved. We cannot have any doubt on that score. I think we shall agree that the concessions policy is a policy of continuation of the war, but we must also agree that it is our task to ensure the continued existence of an isolated socialist republic surrounded by capitalist enemies, to preserve a republic that is infinitely weaker than the capitalist enemies surrounding it, thereby eliminating any possibility of our enemies forming an alliance among themselves for the struggle against us, and to hamper their policies and not give them an opportunity to win a victory. It is our task to secure for Russia the necessary machinery and funds for the restoration of the economy; when we have obtained that, we shall stand so firmly on our own feet that no capitalist enemies can overawe us. That is the point of view which has guided us in our policy on concessions, the policy I have outlined.
REPORT ON THE WORK
OF THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE'S COMMISSARS
(Shouts from the hall : "Long live Comrade Lenin!" Storm of applause. An ovation.) Comrades, I have to present a report on the home and foreign policy of the government. I do not think it is the purpose of my report to give you a list of at least the most outstanding or most important laws and measures adopted by the workers' and peasants' government. Nor do I think that you would be interested in an account of the events of this period, or that it is very important that I should give one. As I see it, general conclusions should be drawn from the principal lessons we have learnt during this year, which was no less abundant in abrupt political changes than the preceding years of the revolution were. From the general lessons of this year's experience we must deduce the most urgent political and economic tasks that face us, tasks to which the Soviet government -- both through the legislative acts which are being submitted for your examination and endorsement and through the sum total of its measures -- at present attaches the greatest hopes and significance, and from the fulfilment of which it expects important progress in our economic development. Permit me, therefore, to confine myself to brief comments on the Republic's international situation and on the chief results of our foreign policy during the past year.
You all know, of course, how the Polish landowners and capitalists forced a war on us under the pressure and at the insistence of the capitalist countries of Western Europe, and not of Western Europe alone. You know that in April
of this year we made peace proposals to the Polish Government, on terms which were incomparably more advantageous to it than the present terms, and that it was only under pressure of dire necessity, after our negotiations for an armistice with Poland had ended in a complete breakdown, that we were obliged to fight. Despite the heavy defeat our forces suffered near Warsaw, as a result of their undoubted exhaustion, this war has ended in a peace that is far more favourable to us than the one we proposed to Poland in April. A preliminary treaty with Poland has been signed, and negotiations are now under way for the conclusion of a final peace treaty. We certainly do not conceal from ourselves the danger presented by the pressure being exerted by some of the more stubborn capitalist countries and by certain Russian whiteguard circles with the aim of preventing these negotiations from ending in a peace. It should, however, be said that the Entente's policy, which aims at military intervention and the armed suppression of the Soviets, is steadily coming to nought, and that we are winning over to our policy of peace a steadily increasing number of states which are undoubtedly hostile towards the Soviets. The number of countries that have signed peace treaties is increasing, and there is every probability that a final peace treaty with Poland will be signed in the immediate future. Thus, another severe blow will be struck at the alliance of the capitalist forces which are trying to wrench the power of government from us by means of war. <"p488">
Comrades, you also know, of course, that the temporary setbacks we suffered in the war with Poland and the difficulty of our position at certain moments of the war were due to our being obliged to fight Wrangel, who was officially recognised by one imperialist power, and received vast material, military and other aid. To end the war as quickly as possible, we had to effect a rapid concentration of troops so as to strike a decisive blow at Wrangel. You, of course, know what dauntless heroism was displayed by the Red Army in surmounting obstacles and fortifications which even military experts and military authorities considered impregnable. The complete, decisive and remarkably swift victory the Red Army gained over Wrangel is one
of the most brilliant pages in its history. That was how the war forced on us by the whiteguards and the imperialists ended.
It is with far greater assurance and determination that we can now set about a task that is dear to us, an essential task, one that has long been attracting us -- that of economic development. We can do so with the assurance that the capitalist tycoons will not find it as easy to frustrate this work as in the past. Of course, we must be on our guard. In no case can we say that we are already guaranteed against war. It is not because of the absence of formal peace treaties that we are still without that guarantee. We are very well aware that the remnants of Wrangel's army have not been destroyed, that they are lying low close at hand, that they are under ward and tutelage, and are being re-formed with the aid of the capitalist powers. We know that the white-guard Russian organisations are working actively to re-create certain military units and, together with Wrangel's forces, to prepare them for a new onslaught on Russia at a favourable moment.
That is why we must maintain our military preparedness under all circumstances. Irrespective of the blows already struck at imperialism, we must keep our Red Army in a state of combat readiness at all costs, and increase its fighting efficiency. The release of a certain section of the army and its rapid demobilisation does not, of course, militate against this. We rely on the tremendous experience gained by the Red Army and its leaders during the war to enable us now to improve its quality. And we shall see to it that although the army is reduced we shall retain a cadre whose maintenance will not entail an undue burden on the Republic, while at the same time, with the reduction in the number of effectives, we shall be in a better position than before, in case of need, to mobilise and equip a still larger military force.
We are certain that all the neighbouring states, which have already lost a great deal by supporting the whiteguard conspiracies against us, have learnt the hard lesson of experience and have duly appreciated our conciliatory spirit, which was generally considered as weakness on our part. Three years of experience have no doubt shown them
that, while we are persistently striving for peace, we are prepared from the military point of view. Any attempt to start a war against us will mean, to the states involved, that the terms they will get following such a war will be worse than those they could have obtained without a war or prior to it. This has been proved in respect of several countries. This is an achievement we shall not forego, one that will not be forgotten by any of the powers surrounding us or in political contact with Russia. Thanks to this, our relations with neighbouring countries are steadily improving. You know that a final peace has been signed with a number of states bordering on the Western frontiers of Russia. These were part of the former Russian Empire, and the Soviet government has unequivocally recognised their independence and sovereignty, in conformity with the fundamental principles of our policy. Peace on such a basis has every chance of being far more durable than is to the liking of the capitalists and certain West-European states.
As regards the Latvian Government, I must say that at one time there was a danger of our relations becoming strained, so much so that the idea even arose of severing diplomatic relations. But the latest report from our representative in Latvia indicates that a change of policy has already taken place, and that many misunderstandings and legitimate causes of dissatisfaction have been removed. There is good reason to hope that in the near future we shall have close economic ties with Latvia, which will naturally be even more useful to us in our trade with Western Europe than Estonia and the other states bordering on the R.S.F.S.R.
I must also say, comrades, that during this year our policy in the East has been very successful. We must welcome the formation and consolidation of the Soviet Republics of Bokhara, Azerbaijan and Armenia, which have not only recovered their complete independence, but have placed the power of government in the hands of the workers and peasants. These republics are proof and corroboration of the fact that the ideas and principles of Soviet government are understood and immediately applicable, not only in the industrially developed countries, not only in those which have a social basis like the proletariat, but also in those which have the peasantry as their basis. The idea
of peasants' Soviets has triumphed. The peasants' power has been assured: they own the land and the means of production. The friendly relations between the peasant Soviet Republics and the Russian Socialist Republic have already been consolidated by the practical results of our policy. <"p491">
We can also welcome the forthcoming signing of a treaty with Persia, friendly relations with whom are assured by the fact that the fundamental interests of all peoples suffering from the yoke of imperialism coincide.
We must also note that friendly relations with Afghanistan, and still more so with Turkey, are being steadily established and strengthened. As for the latter power, the Entente countries have done everything they could to render impossible any more or less normal relations between her and the West-European countries. This circumstance, coupled with consolidation of the Soviets, is steadily strengthening the alliance and the friendly relations between Russia and the oppressed nations of the East, despite the bourgeoisie's resistance and intrigues and the continuing encirclement of Russia by bourgeois countries. The chief factor in politics today is the violence being used by the imperialists against peoples which have not had the good fortune to be among the victors; this world policy of imperialism is leading to closer relations, alliance and friendship among all the oppressed nations. The success we have achieved in this respect in the West as well, in relation to more Europeanised states, goes to show that the present principles of our foreign policy are correct and that the improvement in our international position rests on a firm basis. We are confident that, by continuing our peace policy and by making concessions (and we must do so if we wish to avoid war), the basic line of our policy and the fundamental interests which stem from the very nature of imperialist policy will come into their own and will make it more and more imperative for the R.S.F.S.R. to establish closer relations with a growing number of neighbouring states, despite the intrigues and machinations of the imperialists, who, of course, are always capable of provoking a quarrel between us and some other state. Such relations are our guarantee that we shall be able to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to economic development and that
we shall be able, for a longer period, to work calmly, steadfastly and confidently.
I must add that negotiations for the conclusion of a trade agreement with Great Britain are now under way. Unfortunately, these negotiations have been dragging out much longer than we would wish, but we are not at all to blame for that. When, as far back as July -- at the moment the Soviet troops were achieving their greatest successes -- the British Government officially submitted to us the text of an agreement assuring the establishment of trade relations, we replied by giving our full consent, but since then the conflict of the various trends within the British Government and the British state has held this up. We see how the British Government is vacillating, and is threatening to sever relations with us and immediately to dispatch warships to Petrograd. We have seen all this, but at the same time we have seen that, in reply to this threat, Councils of Action have sprung up all over Great Britain. We have seen how, under pressure from the workers, the most extreme adherents of the opportunist trend and their leaders have been obliged to resort to this quite "unconstitutional" policy, one that they had themselves condemned a short while before. It appears that, despite the Menshevik prejudices which have hitherto prevailed in the British trade union movement, the pressure brought to bear by the working people and their political consciousness have become strong enough to blunt the edge of the imperialists' bellicose policy. Continuing our policy of peace, we have taken our stand on the proposals made by the British Government in July. We are prepared to sign a trade agreement at once; if it has not yet been signed, the blame rests wholly with those trends and tendencies in British ruling circles that are anxious to frustrate the trade agreement and, against the will of the majority, not only of the workers but even of the British bourgeoisie, want a free hand to attack Soviet Russia again. That is their affair.
The longer this policy is pursued by certain influential circles in Great Britain, by financial and imperialist circles there, the more it will aggravate the financial situation, the longer it will delay the semi-agreement which has now become essential between bourgeois Britain and the Soviet
Republic, and the nearer it will bring the imperialists to a situation that will oblige them to accept a full agreement, not merely a semi-agreement.
Comrades, I must say that this trade agreement with Great Britain is connected with one of the most important questions in our economic policy, that of concessions. One of the important acts passed by the Soviet government during the period under review is the law on concessions of November 23, this year. You are, of course, all familiar with the text of this law. You all know that we have now published additional material, from which delegates to the Congress of Soviets can obtain full information on this question. We have published a special pamphlet containing, not only the text of the decree but also a list of the chief concessions we are offering: agricultural, timber and mining. We have taken steps to make the published text of this decree available in the West-European countries as early as possible, and we hope that our concessions policy will also be a practical success. We do not in the least close our eyes to the dangers this policy presents to the Socialist Soviet Republic, a country that, moreover, is weak and backward. While our Soviet Republic remains the isolated borderland of the capitalist world, it would be absolutely ridiculous, fantastic and utopian to hope that we can achieve complete economic independence and that all dangers will vanish. Of course, as long as the radical contrasts remain, the dangers will also remain, and there is no escaping them. What we have to do is to get firmly on our feet in order to survive these dangers; we must be able to distinguish between big dangers and little dangers, and incur the lesser dangers rather than the greater.
We were recently informed that, at a Congress of Soviets of Arzamas Uyezd in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, a peasant, not a member of the Party, said on the subject of concessions: "Comrades, we are delegating you to the All-Russia Congress and declare that we peasants are prepared to endure hunger and cold and do our duty for another three years, but don't sell Mother Russia in the form of concessions." I heartily welcome such sentiments, which are very widespread. I think it is highly indicative that during these three years the masses of non-Party working people -- not only
industrial workers but peasants as well -- have acquired the political and economic experience which enables and compels them to value their liberation from the capitalists above all else, which compels them to exercise redoubled caution and to treat with extreme suspicion every step that involves the possibility of new dangers of the restoration of capitalism. Of course, we give the greatest consideration to all declarations of this kind, but we must say that there is no question of selling out Russia to the capitalists. It is a question of concessions; any concessions agreement is limited to a definite period and by definite terms. It is hedged around with all possible guarantees, by guarantees that have been carefully considered and will be considered and discussed with you again and again, at the present Congress and at various other conferences. These temporary agreements have nothing to do with any selling out. There is not a hint in them of selling Russia. What they do represent is a certain economic concession to the capitalists, the purpose of which is to enable us, as soon as possible, to secure the necessary machinery and locomotives without which we cannot effect the restoration of our economy. We have no right to neglect anything that may, in however small a measure, help us to improve the conditions of the workers and peasants.
We must do all we possibly can to bring about the rapid restoration of trade relations, and negotiations are at present being carried on in a semi-legal framework. We are ordering locomotives and machines in far from adequate numbers, but we have begun to order them. When we conduct these negotiations officially, the possibilities will be vastly expanded. With the aid of industry we shall achieve a great deal, and in a shorter period; but even if the achievements are very great, the period will cover years, a number of years. It must be borne in mind that although we have now gained a military victory and have secured peace, history teaches us that no big question has ever been settled, and no revolution accomplished, without a series of wars. And we shall not forget this lesson. We have already taught a number of powerful countries not to wage war on us, but we cannot guarantee that this will be for long. The imperialist predators will attack us again if there is the
slightest change in the situation. We must be prepared for it. Hence, the first thing is to restore the economy and place it firmly on its feet. Without equipment, without machinery obtained from capitalist countries, we cannot do this rapidly. And we should not grudge the capitalist a little extra profit if only we can effect this restoration. The workers and peasants must share the sentiments of those non-Party peasants who have declared that they are not afraid to face sacrifice and privation. Realising the danger of capitalist intervention, they do not regard concessions from a sentimental point of view, but as a continuation of the war, as the transfer of the ruthless struggle to another plane; they see in them the possibility of fresh attempts on the part of the bourgeoisie to restore the old capitalism. That is splendid; it is a guarantee that not only the organs of Soviet power but all the workers and peasants will make it their business to keep watch and ward over our interests. We are, therefore, confident that we shall be able to place the protection of our interests on such a basis that the restoration of the power of the capitalists will be totally out of the question even in carrying out the concessions agreements; we shall do everything to reduce the danger to a minimum, and make it less than the danger of war, so that it will be difficult to resume the war and easier for us to restore and develop our economy in a shorter period, in fewer years (and it is a matter of a good many years).
Comrades, economic tasks, the economic front, are again and again assuming prominence as the chief and fundamental factor. While studying the texts of the various laws on which I have to report to you, I saw that the vast majority of the measures and decisions of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Defence consist at present of specific, detailed and frequently minute measures connected with this economic activity. You, of course, do not expect me to give you a list of these measures. It would be extremely tedious and quite uninteresting. I should only like to remind you that this is by no means<"p495"> the first time that we are attaching primary importance to the labour front. Let us recall the resolution passed by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on April 29, 1918. That was a time
when Russia was economically dismembered by the Peace of Brest-Litovsk that was forced upon us, and when this extremely rapacious treaty had placed us in an extremely difficult position. It then appeared possible to count on a respite which would create conditions for the restoration of peaceful economic activities, and -- although we now know that this respite was a very brief one -- the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, in its resolution of April 29, at once focussed all attention on economic development. This resolution, which has not been rescinded and remains one of our laws, provides a proper perspective, enabling us to judge how we approached this task and to what we must now devote greater attention in the interests of our work and in order to complete it successfully.
An examination of this resolution clearly shows that many of the problems we now have to tackle were presented in a clear-cut, firm and sufficiently decisive way as far back as April 1918. Remembering this, we say that repetition is the mother of learning. We are not dismayed by our having to repeat the basic axioms of economic development. We shall repeat them time and again, but see what a difference there is between the declaration of abstract principles in 1918 and the practical economic work that has already been begun. Despite the tremendous difficulties and the constant interruptions in our work, we are approaching closer and closer lo a concrete and practical solution of our economic problems. We shall repeat things over and over again. In constructive work you cannot avoid a vast number of repetitions, or avoid turning back every now and again, testing what you have done, making certain corrections, adopting new methods, and bending every effort to convince the backward and the untrained.
The essential feature of the present political situation is that we are now passing through a crucial period of transition, something of a zigzag transition from war to economic development. This has occurred before, but not on such a wide scale. This should constantly remind us of what the general political tasks of the Soviet government are, and what constitutes the particular feature of this transition. The dictatorship of the proletariat has been successful because it has been able to combine compulsion with
persuasion. The dictatorship of the proletariat does not fear any resort to compulsion and to the most severe, decisive and ruthless forms of coercion by the state. The advanced class, the class most oppressed by capitalism, is entitled to use compulsion, because it is doing so in the interests of the working and exploited people, and because it possesses means of compulsion and persuasion such as no former classes ever possessed, although they had incomparably greater material facilities for propaganda and agitation than we have.
If we ask ourselves what the results of our experience in these three years have been (for it is difficult, on certain fundamental points, to sum up the results of a single year), if we ask ourselves how, after all, our victory over an enemy much stronger than ourselves is to be explained, it must be said that it was because the organisation of the Red Army splendidly embodied the consistency and firmness of proletarian leadership in the alliance of the workers and the working peasantry against all exploiters. What was the reason? Why did the vast masses of the peasantry willingly consent to this? Because they were convinced, though their vast majority were not Party members, that there was no way of salvation except by supporting the Soviet government. It was, of course, not books that convinced them of this, nor was it propaganda. It was all through experience. They were convinced by the experience of the Civil War, in particular by the alliance between our Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, which is more closely akin to certain fundamental features of small-scale peasant economy. Their experience of the alliance between these parties of the small property-owners and the landowners and the capitalists, and their experience of Kolchak and Denikin, convinced the peasant masses that no middle course was possible, that the plain and straightforward Soviet policy was the right one, and that the iron leadership of the proletariat was their only means of salvation from exploitation and violence. It has been only because of our ability to convince the peasants of this that our policy of coercion, which is based on this firm and absolute conviction, has met with such tremendous success.
We must now bear in mind that, in going over to the labour front, we are faced with the same problem, under new conditions and on a much wider scale, that confronted us when we were fighting the whiteguards and witnessed a degree of enthusiasm and concentration of energy on the part of the worker and peasant masses such as has never been, and never could have been, displayed in any war in any other state. From their own observations and their knowledge of life, the non-Party peasants, like the Arzamas peasant whose words I have just quoted, did really come to the conclusion that the exploiters are ruthless enemies and that a ruthless state power is required to crush them. We succeeded in rousing unprecedented numbers of people to display an intelligent attitude towards the war, and to support it actively. Never before, under any political regime, has there been even one-tenth of the sympathy with a war and an understanding of it as that unanimously displayed by our Party and non Party workers and non-Party peasants (and the mass of the peasants are non-Party) under Soviet power. That is the main reason for our having ultimately defeated a powerful enemy. That is corroboration of one of the most profound and at the same time most simple and comprehensible precepts of Marxism. The greater the scope and extent of historical events, the greater is the number of people participating in them, and, contrariwise, the more profound the change we wish to bring about, the more must we rouse an interest and an intelligent attitude towards it, and convince more millions and tens of millions of people that it is necessary. In the final analysis, the reason our revolution has left all other revolutions far behind is that, through the Soviet form of government, it has aroused tens of millions of people, formerly uninterested in state development, to take an active part in the work of building up the state. Let us now consider, from this aspect, the new tasks which confronted us and were expressed in tens and hundreds of decisions passed by the Soviet government during this period; they accounted for nine-tenths of the work of the Council of Labour and Defence (we shall speak of this later), and probably more than half of the work of the Council of People's Commissars, namely, the economic tasks, the elaboration of a single economic plan, the reorganisation of the very
foundations of the economy of Russia, the very foundations of small-scale peasant economy. These tasks require that all members of trade unions, without exception, should be drawn into this absolutely new work, something that was alien to them under capitalism. Now ask yourselves whether we at present have the condition for the rapid and unequivocal success that we had during the war, the condition of the masses being drawn into the work. Are the members of the trade unions and the majority of the non-Party people convinced that our new methods and our great tasks of economic development are necessary? Are they as convinced of this as they were of the necessity of devoting everything to the war, of sacrificing everything for the sake of victory on the war front? If the question is presented in that way, you will be compelled to answer that they are certainly not. They are far from being as fully convinced of this as they should be.
War was a matter which people understood and were used to for hundreds and thousands of years. The acts of violence and brutality formerly committed by the landowners were so obvious that it was easy to convince the people; it was not difficult to convince even the peasants of the richer grain regions, who are least connected with industry, that we were waging war in the interests of the working people, and it was therefore possible to arouse almost universal enthusiasm. It will be more difficult to get the peasant masses and the members of the trade unions to understand these tasks now, to get them to understand that we cannot go on living in the old way, that however firmly capitalist exploitation has been implanted in the course of decades, it must be overcome. We must get everybody to understand that Russia belongs to us, and that only we, the masses of workers and peasants, can by our activities and our strict labour discipline remould the old economic conditions of existence and put a great economic plan into practice. There can be no salvation apart from this. We are lagging behind the capitalist powers and shall continue to lag behind them; we shall be defeated if we do not succeed in restoring our economy. That is why we must repeat the old truths I have just reminded you of, the old truths regarding the importance of organisational
problems, of labour discipline, regarding the immense role of the trade unions -- an absolutely exclusive role in this sphere, because there is no other organisation which unites the broad masses; that is why we must not only repeat these old truths, but must with every fibre of our being realise that the transition from military tasks to economic tasks has begun.
We have been completely successful in the military sphere, and we must now prepare to achieve similar successes in tasks which are more difficult and which demand enthusiasm and self-sacrifice from the vast majority of workers and peasants. The conviction that the new tasks are necessary must be instilled in hundreds of millions of people who from generation to generation have lived in a state of slavery and oppression and whose every initiative has been suppressed. We must convince the millions of workers who belong to trade unions but who are still not politically conscious and are unaccustomed to regarding themselves as masters. They must be organised, not to resist the government but to support and develop the measures of their workers' government and to carry them out to the full. This transition will be accompanied by difficulties. Regarded merely as a formulation, it is not a new task; it is a new task insofar as the economic problem is being raised on such a vast scale for the first time; we must realise and remember that the war on the economic front will be more difficult and prolonged. To achieve success on this front, a larger number of workers and peasants must be educated to be self-reliant, active and devoted. This can be done, as is borne out by the experience we have gained in economic development, because the masses fully realise that the misfortunes, cold, hunger and privation have been caused by the inadequacy of our productive forces. We must now transfer all our agitation and propaganda from political and military interests to economic development. We have proclaimed this many times, but insufficiently; it seems to me that the most outstanding<"p500"> measures adopted by the Soviet government during the past year are the creation of the Central Bureau for Production Propaganda of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, the amalgamation of its work with that of the Chief Committee
for Political Education, and the publication of additional newspapers for the respective industries, which are to devote attention, not only to production propaganda but also to its organisation on a country-wide scale.
The necessity of organising production propaganda on a nation-wide scale follows from the special features of the political situation. It is equally necessary to the working class, the trade unions, and the peasantry. It is absolutely essential to our state apparatus, which we have used far from enough for this purpose. We have a thousand times more knowledge, book knowledge, of how to run industry and how to interest the masses than is being applied in practice. We must see to it that literally every member of the trade unions becomes interested in production, and remembers that only by increasing production and raising labour productivity will Soviet Russia be in a state to win. Only in this way will Soviet Russia be able to shorten by about ten years the period of the frightful conditions she is now experiencing, the hunger and cold she is now suffering. If we do not understand this task, we may all perish, because we shall have to retreat owing to the weakness of our apparatus, since, after a short respite, the capitalists may at any moment renew the war, while we shall not be in a state to continue it. We shall not be able to bring the pressure of the millions of our masses to bear, and in this last war we shall be smashed. That is how the matter stands. Hitherto, the fate of all revolutions, of all great revolutions, has been decided by a long series of wars. Our revolution too is such a great revolution. We have passed through one period of wars, and we must prepare for another. We do not know when it will come, but we must see to it that when it does come we shall be prepared for all contingencies. That is why we must not give up measures of compulsion, and not merely because we are preserving the dictatorship of the proletariat, which the mass of peasants and non-Party workers already understand. They know all about our dictatorship, and it holds out no terrors to them. It does not frighten them. They regard it as a bulwark and a stronghold, that is, something with which they can resist the landowners and capitalists, and without which victory is impossible.
This realisation, this conviction, which has already become deep-rooted among the peasant masses as far as military and political tasks are concerned, must now be extended to economic problems. We may not, perhaps, succeed in bringing about this transition at once. It may, possibly, not be effected without certain vacillations and reversions to the old flabbiness and petty-bourgeois ideology. We must tackle this work with still greater energy and zeal, remembering that we can convince the non-Party peasants and insufficiently class-conscious trade union members, because the truth is on our side, and because it cannot be denied that in the second period of wars we shall not be able to defeat our enemies unless the country's economy is restored. Let us only see to it that the millions take a more enlightened attitude towards the war on the economic front. This is the task of the Central Bureau of Production Propaganda, the task of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, the task of all Party workers, the task of all the departments of the Soviet government, the task of all our propaganda, with the help of which we have secured successes of world wide significance, because our propaganda throughout the world has always told the workers and peasants the truth, while all other propaganda tells them lies. We must now switch our propaganda over to something which is far more difficult and concerns the everyday work of the workers in the factory shop, no matter how difficult the conditions of this work may be, and no matter how strong the memories of the old capitalist system may be, which taught the workers and peasants to mistrust governments. We must convince both workers and peasants that, without a new combination of forces, new forms of state amalgamation, and the new forms associated with compulsion, we shall not cope with our difficulties, and we shall not escape the abyss of economic collapse on the brink of which we are standing -- and we have already begun to cope with the situation.
Comrades, I shall now deal with certain facts of our economic policy and the economic problems which seem to me to be characteristic of the present political situation and of the transition now confronting us. I must first mention our agrarian bill, the bill of the Council of People's Commissars for the consolidation and development of
agricultural production and for assistance to peasant farms. This bill was published on December 14 of this year, and before that date the substance and principles of it were communicated to all local officials by wireless.
Arrangements should at once be made to have this bill thoroughly discussed -- in the light of local experience (on which it is actually based), and this is being done in the localities -- by the Congress and also by the representatives of the local Executive Committees and the departments of the latter. I think that no comrade now doubts the necessity of specific and very energetic measures of assistance -- not only in the form of encouragement but also in the form of compulsion -- to improve our agricultural production.
Our country has been and still is a country of small peasants, and the transition to communism is far more difficult for us than it would be under any other conditions. To accomplish this transition, the peasants' participation in it must be ten times as much as in the war. The war could demand, and was bound to demand, part of the adult male population. However, our country, a land of peasants which is still in a state of exhaustion, has to mobilise the entire male and female population of workers and peasants without exception. It is not difficult to convince us Communists, workers in the Land Departments, that state labour conscription is necessary. In the discussion of the bill of December 14, which has been submitted for your consideration, I hope that on this point there will not be even a shadow of difference in principle. We must realise that there is another difficulty, that of convincing the non-Party peasants. The peasants are not socialists. To base our socialist plans on the assumption that they are would be building on sand; it would mean that we do not understand our tasks and that, during these three years, we have not learnt to adjust our programmes and carry out our new undertakings with due account of the poverty and often squalor that surround us. We must have a clear picture of the problems that face us. The first task is to unite the Communists working in the Land Departments, draw general conclusions from their experience, grasp what has been done in the localities, and embody it in the legislative acts which will be promulgated at the centre, by government
departments, and by the All-Russia Congress of Soviets. We hope that we shall be able to do that. However, that is only the first step. The second step is to convince the non-Party peasants, yes, the non-Party peasants, because they form the majority and because what we are in a position to do can be done only by making this mass, which is in itself active and full of initiative, realise to a greater degree that the task must be tackled. Peasant farming cannot continue in the old way. While we were able to extricate ourselves from the first period of wars, we shall not extricate ourselves so easily from the second period, and must therefore pay special attention to this aspect.
Every non-Party peasant must be made to understand this undoubted truth, and we are sure that he will understand it. He has not lived through these last six painful and difficult years in vain. He is not like the pre-war muzhik. He has suffered severely, has done a lot of thinking, and has borne many political and economic hardships that have induced him to give up a good deal of their old habits. It seems to me that he already realises that he cannot live in the old way, that he must live in a different way. All our means of propaganda, all the resources of the state, all our educational facilities and all our Party resources and reserves must be devoted in full force to convincing the non-Party peasant. Only then will our agrarian bill -- which I hope you will adopt unanimously, with necessary amendments and addenda, of course -- be placed on a sound basis. Only when we convince the majority of the peasants and draw them into this work will this measure become just as firm as our policy is. That is because -- as Comrade Kurayev has rightly said in an article based on the experience of the Tatar Republic -- the working middle peasant and poor peasant are friends of the Soviet government, while the idlers are its enemies. That is the real truth, a truth in which there is nothing socialist, but which is so indisputable and obvious that any village assembly and any meeting of non-Party peasants will understand it, and it will become the conviction of the overwhelming majority of the working peasants.
Comrades, here is what I particularly want to bring home to you now that we have turned from the phase of war
to economic development. In a country of small peasants, our chief and basic task is to be able to resort to state compulsion in order to raise the level of peasant farming, beginning with measures that are absolutely essential, urgent and fully intelligible and comprehensible to the peasant. We shall be able to achieve this only when we are able to convince more millions of people who are not yet ready for it. We must devote all our forces to this and see to it that the apparatus of compulsion, activated and reinforced, shall be adapted and developed for a new drive of persuasion. Another campaign in the war will then end in victory. We are now declaring war on the relics of inertness, ignorance and mistrust that prevail among the peasant masses. We shall achieve nothing by the old methods, but we shall achieve victory by the methods of propaganda, agitation and organised influence which we have learnt. We shall also see to it that, besides decrees being adopted, institutions created and documents written -- it is not enough to send orders flying all over the country -- all the fields are sown better than before by the spring, and a definite improvement is achieved in small peasant farming. Let it be even the most elementary improvement -- the more cautious we are the better -- but it must be achieved at all costs and on a mass scale. If we correctly understand the task that faces us, and if we devote our whole attention to the non-Party peasant, and concentrate on this all the skill and experience we have gained during these three years, we shall succeed. And unless we succeed, unless we achieve a practical and massive improvement in small-scale peasant farming, there is no salvation for us. Unless this basis is created, no economic development will be possible and the most ambitious plans will be valueless. The comrades must remember this and must bring it home to the peasants. They must tell the non-Party peasants of Arzamas -- and there are about ten or fifteen million of them -- that we cannot go on starving and freezing endlessly, for then we shall be overthrown in the next period of wars. This is a state matter; it concerns the interests of our state. Whoever reveals the least weakness, the least slackness in this matter, is an out-and-out criminal towards the workers' and peasants' government; he is helping the landowner and the capitalist. And the landowner
and the capitalist have their armies nearby, holding them in readiness to launch against us the instant they see us weakening. There is no way to strengthen ourselves otherwise than by building up our main bulwark -- agriculture and urban industry. These cannot be improved except by convincing the non-Party peasant of the need to do so, by mobilising all our forces to help him, and by actually helping him in practice.
We admit that we are in debt to the peasant. We have had grain from him in return for paper money, and have taken it from him on credit. We must repay that debt, and we shall do so when we have restored our industry. To restore it we need a surplus of agricultural products. That is why the agrarian bill is important, not only because we must secure practical results, but also because around it, as on a focal point, are grouped hundreds of decisions and legislative measures of the Soviet government.
I now pass on to the question of how the basis for our industrial development is being created to enable us to begin restoring Russia's economic forces. In this connection I must first draw your attention -- from among the mass of reports which you have received or will receive in the next few days from all the Commissariats -- to a passage in the report of our Commissariat of Food. In the next few days each Commissariat will present you with a profusion of figures and reports, which taken together are overwhelming in their abundance. We must extract from them what is most essential to success, however modest it may be, and what is fundamental for the realisation of our economic plan, for the restoration of our economy and our industry. One of these essentials is the state of our food procurements. In the booklet which has been distributed to you -- the report of the Commissariat of Food for three years -- you will find a table from which I shall read only the totals, and even those in round figures, because reading figures, and particularly listening to figures, is a difficult matter. These are the figures showing the total procurements for each year. From August 1, 1916 to August 1, 1917, 320,000,000 poods were procured; 50,000,000 were procured in the fol lowing year, then 100,000,000 and then 200,000,000 poods. These figures -- 320, 50, 100 and 200 -- give you the basis of
the economic history of Soviet government, of the work of the Soviet government in the economic field, the preparations for that foundation which, when laid down, will enable us to really start developing. The pre-revolutionary 320,000,000 poods is the approximate minimum without which development is impossible. In the first year of the revolution, with only 50,000,000 poods, there was starvation, cold and poverty. In the second year we had 100,000,000 poods; in the third year, 200,000,000 poods. The total has doubled with each year. According to figures I received yesterday from Svidersky, we had 155,000,000 poods on December 15. We are beginning to stand on our feet for the first time, but with the utmost efforts, with unparalleled difficulties, very often having to accomplish the task without any supplies from Siberia, the Caucasus and the South. At present, with a procurement of over 150,000,000 poods, we can say without any exaggeration that despite the tremendous difficulties, this task has been accomplished. We shall have a total of about 300,000,000 poods, perhaps more. Without such a supply, however, it will be impossible to restore the country's industry; it will be hopeless to expect the revival of the transport system and it will be impossible even to approach the great task of electrifying Russia. There can be no socialist country, no state with a workers' and peasants' government unless, by the joint efforts of the workers and peasants, it can accumulate a stock of food sufficient to guarantee the subsistence of the workers engaged in industry and to make it possible to send tens and hundreds of thousands of workers wherever the Soviet government deems it necessary. Without this there can be nothing but empty talk. Food stocks are the real basis of the economic system. In this we have achieved a signal success. Having achieved this success and with such a reserve, we can set about restoring our economy. We know that these successes have been achieved at the cost of tremendous privation, hunger and lack of cattle fodder among the peasants, which may become still more acute. We know that the year of drought increased the hardships and privations of the peasants to an unparalleled extent. We therefore lay prime stress on the measures of assistance contained in the bill I have referred to. We regard stocks
of food as a fund for the restoration of industry, as a fund for helping the peasants. Without such a fund the state power is nothing. Without such a fund socialist policy is but a pious wish. <"p508">
We must remember that the production propaganda which we have firmly decided to launch will be supplemented with a different kind of persuasion, namely, bonuses in kind. The law on bonuses in kind has been one of the most important decrees and decisions of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Defence. We were not able to pass this law immediately. If you examine the matter, you will find that ever since April there has been a long chain of decisions and resolutions, and that this law was passed only when, as the result of strenuous efforts on the part of our transport system, we were able to accumulate a food reserve of 500,000 poods. Five hundred thousand poods is a very modest figure. The reports which you no doubt read in Izvestia yesterday show that out of these 500,000 poods 170,000 poods have already been expended. As you see the reserve is nothing to boast of, and is far from adequate; nevertheless, we have entered on a road along which we shall advance. It is proof that we are not relying on persuasion alone in the transition to new methods of work. It is not enough to tell the peasants and the workers to maintain the utmost labour discipline. We must also help them; we must reward those who, after suffering tremendous hardships, continue to display heroism on the labour front. We have already created a reserve fund, but it is being utilised in a way that is far from satisfactory. We in the Council of People's Commissars have numerous indications that in practice a bonus in kind often amounts simply to an increase in wages. A good deal still remains to be done in this respect. The work of conferences and of drafting supplementary schemes at the centre must be coupled with very important work of another kind, namely, on the spot and among the masses. When the state not only persuades, but also rewards good workers by creating better living conditions for them, that is something that is not hard to understand; one does not have to be a socialist to understand it, and here we are assured in advance of the sympathy of the non-Party masses of workers and peasants. We have
only to make this idea much more widely known and to organise this work in a more practical way in the localities.
Now with regard to fuel; you will find in Comrade Rykov's theses figures that show the improvement that has been achieved, not only in firewood, but also in oil supplies. Thanks to the great zeal displayed by the workers in the Azerbaijan Republic, the friendly relations we have established with them and the capable managers provided by the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the oil situation is now favourable, so that we are beginning to stand on our own feet in the matter of fuel as well. Coal deliveries from the Donets Basin are being increased from 25,000,000 poods to 50,000,000 poods per month, thanks to the work of the authorised commission which was sent there under the chairmanship of Comrade Trotsky. This commission has decided to send responsible and experienced men to the Donets Basin, and Comrade Pyatakov has now been sent there to take charge.
Thus, to achieve success, we have adopted certain measures with regard to fuel. The Donets Basin, one of the largest sources, is already under our control. In the minutes of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Defence, decisions may be found relating to the Donets Basin. These make reference to the dispatch of commissions invested with considerable powers and consisting of representatives of the central government and of local officials. We must stimulate work in the localities, and it appears to me that we can do so with the help of these commissions. You will see the results of the work of these commissions, which we shall continue to set up in the future. We must give a definite boost to fuel production, the principal branch of our industry.
I must say that, in the matter of fuel, the hydraulic method of extracting peat is a great achievement. Peat is a fuel we possess in very large quantities, but which we have been unable to utilise till now because of the deplorable working conditions. This new method will enable us to overcome the fuel shortage, which presents one of the greatest dangers on our economic front. We shall not be able to get out of this impasse for many years to come, if we stick to the old methods and do not restore our industry
and transport. The members of our Peat Committee have helped two Russian engineers to perfect this new invention, with the result that the new method is on the verge of completion. We are thus on the eve of a great revolution, which will be an important aid to us economically. It must not be forgotten that we possess vast deposits of peat, which we cannot utilise because we cannot send people to do such back-breaking work. The capitalist system could send people to work under such harsh conditions. In the capitalist state people were driven to work there by hunger, but in the socialist state we cannot consign people to such intolerable work, and nobody will go there voluntarily. The capitalist system did everything for the upper crust. It was not concerned with the lower classes.
We must introduce more machines everywhere, and resort to machine technology as widely as possible. The extraction of peat by the hydraulic method, which has been so successfully promoted by the Supreme Council of the National Economy, makes it possible to extract fuel in vast quantities and eliminates the need for skilled workers, since even unskilled workers can perform the work under this method. We have produced these machines; I would advise the delegates to see the cinema film on peat extraction which has been shown in Moscow and which can be demonstrated for the Congress delegates. It will give you a definite idea of one of the means for coping with the fuel shortage. We have made the machines required for the new method, but we have made them badly. If we send our people abroad, with the establishment of trade with foreign countries, with even the existing semi-legal trade relations, the machines designed by our inventors could be made properly there. The number of these machines and the success gained in this field by the Chief Peat Committee and the Supreme Council of the National Economy will serve as a measure of all our economic achievements. Unless we overcome the fuel shortage, it will be impossible to win on the economic front. Vital success in restoring the transport system will also depend on this. <"p510">
Incidentally, you have already seen from the theses of Comrades Yemshanov and Trotsky that in this field we have a real plan worked out for a number of years. Order No. 1042 was designed for a period of five years; in five years
we can restore our transport and reduce the number of broken-down locomotives. I should like to stress as probably the most difficult problem the statement made in the ninth thesis, to the effect that this period has already been reduced.
When extensive plans appear, designed for a number of years, sceptics are frequently to be found who say: how can we plan for a number of years ahead? The best we can hope for is to do what is required at the moment. Comrades, we must be able to combine the two things; we cannot work without a long-term plan that envisages important achievements. The truth of this is borne out by the undoubted improvement in the work of the transport system. I draw your attention to the passage in the ninth thesis which says that the period for the restoration of transport was fixed at five years, but it has already been reduced because we are ahead of the schedule. The period is now being fixed at three and a half years. That is the way to work in the other branches of economic activity too. The real and practical task of the Council of Labour and Defence is being steadily reduced to that. We must avail ourselves of the progress of science and practice, and must steadfastly strive to get the plan fulfilled in the localities ahead of schedule, so that the masses will see that the long period separating us from the complete restoration of industry can be reduced in practice. It depends on us. Let us improve our methods in every workshop, in every railway depot, in every sphere, and we shall shorten this period. It is already being reduced. Do not be afraid of long-term plans, for without them you cannot achieve an economic revival; let us devote all our energies in the localities to their fulfilment.
Economic plans must be carried out in accordance with a definite programme, and the increasing fulfilment of this programme must be noted and encouraged. The masses must not only realise, but also feel that the shortening of the period of hunger, cold and poverty depends entirely upon how quickly they fulfil our economic plans. The plans of the various branches of production must be soundly co-ordinated, and linked up so as to constitute the single economic plan we stand in such great need of.
In this connection, we are confronted with the task of unifying the People's Commissariats for the various branches
of the economy under a single economic centre. We have begun to tackle this task and we are submitting for your consideration a decision of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence regarding the reorganisation of the latter body.
You will examine this project, and I trust that with the necessary amendments it will be adopted unanimously. Its contents are very modest but its significance is great, because we need a body which definitely knows what its position is and unites all economic work; it is on economic work that the chief stress is now being laid.
This has been dealt with in the literature which appeared before and in connection with the Congress, in a pamphlet by Comrade Gusev, which, incidentally, is not as well written as his earlier one. The pamphlet contains a sweeping plan for the organisation of the Council of Labour and Defence, to which it is proposed to transfer many prominent workers, among whom we find the names of Trotsky and Rykov. I would say that we need somewhat fewer flights of fancy like this. We cannot burst out of an apparatus which it has taken three years to build up. We realise its immense shortcomings, of which we shall speak in detail at this Congress. This question has been placed on the agenda; it is one of the most important questions. I am referring to the question of improving the Soviet apparatus. But we must at present act with circumspection, confine ourselves to what is essential, and change our apparatus on the basis of practical experience. Comrade Gusev has derided the project we have submitted and says that we are proposing to add the People's Commissariat of Agriculture to the Council of Labour and Defence. Quite right, we are proposing such a project. In it we assign a very modest place to the Council of Labour and Defence, making it a Commission of Labour and Defence under the Council of People's Commissars. Until now we have been working in the Council of Labour and Defence without any constitution. The powers of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence have been poorly defined; we have sometimes exceeded these powers and acted as a legislative body. But there has never been any conflict on these grounds. Such cases have been settled by immediately referring them to
the Council of People's Commissars. When it became apparent that the Council of Labour and Defence must be converted into a body for the closer co-ordination of economic policy, the question arose how to give legal definition to these relations. There are two plans before us. One of them calls for the demarcation of the competence of the Council of People's Commissars and that of the Council of Labour and Defence. To do this, numerous codifiers must be engaged and reams of paper used, and even then there will be no guarantee that mistakes will not be made.
Let us set about it in a different way. The Council of Labour and Defence has been regarded as something almost equal to the Council of People's Commissars. Let us abandon that idea. Let it be a commission of the Council of People's Commissars. We shall avoid a great deal of friction and shall achieve more rapid practical realisation. If any member of the Council of People's Commissars is dissatisfied, let him bring his complaint before the Council of People's Commissars; it can be summoned in a few hours, as you know. In this way we shall avoid friction between departments and will make the Council of Labour and Defence a rapidly acting body. That is no easy problem. It is bound up with the actual creation of a single economic plan. The problem, for the solution of which we have done something and for which we have been preparing for two years, is to achieve the unification of the Commissariats for the various branches of the economy. That is why I draw your attention to this bill on the Council of Labour and Defence, and I hope that, with the necessary amendments, you will endorse it. The work of uniting these Commissariats will then proceed more smoothly, rapidly, firmly and energetically.
I now come to the last item -- the question of electrification, which stands on the agenda of the Congress. You are to hear a report on this subject. I think that we are witnessing a momentous change, one which in any case marks the beginning of important successes for the Soviets. Henceforth the rostrum at All-Russia Congresses will be mounted, not only by politicians and administrators but also by engineers and agronomists. This marks the beginning of that very happy time when politics will recede into the
background, when politics will be discussed less often and at shorter length, and engineers and agronomists will do most of the talking. To really proceed with the work of economic development, this custom must be initiated at the All-Russia Congress of Soviets and in all Soviets and organisations, newspapers, organs of propaganda and agitation, and all institutions, from top to bottom.
We have, no doubt, learnt politics; here we stand as firm as a rock. But things are bad as far as economic matters are concerned. Henceforth, less politics will be the best politics. Bring more engineers and agronomists to the fore, learn from them, keep an eye on their work, and turn our congresses and conferences, not into propaganda meetings but into bodies that will verify our economic achievements, bodies in which we can really learn the business of economic development.
You will hear the report of the State Electrification Commission, which was set up in conformity with the decision of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of February 7, 1920. On February 21, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy signed the final ordinance determining the composition of the commission, and a number of leading experts and workers, mainly from the Supreme Council of the National Economy, over a hundred of them, and also from the People's Commissariat of Railways and the People's Commissariat of Agriculture, are devoting their entire energy<"p514"> to this work. We have before us the results of the work of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia in the shape of this small volume which will be distributed to you today or tomorrow. I trust you will not be scared by this little volume. I think I shall have no difficulty in convincing you of the particular importance of this book. In my opinion it is the second programme of our Party. We have a Party programme which has been excellently explained by Comrades Preobrazhensky and Bukharin in the form of a book which is less voluminous, but extremely useful. That is the political programme; it is an enumeration of our objectives, an explanation of the relations between classes and masses. It must, however, also be realised that the time has come to take this road in actual fact and to measure the practical
results achieved. Our Party programme must not remain solely a programme of the Party. It must become a programme of our economic development, or otherwise it will be valueless even as a programme of the Party. It must be supplemented with a second Party programme, a plan of work aimed at restoring our entire economy and raising it to the level of up-to-date technical development. Without a plan of electrification, we cannot undertake any real constructive work. When we discuss the restoration of agriculture, industry and transport, and their harmonious co-ordination, we are obliged to discuss a broad economic plan. We must adopt a definite plan. of course, it will be a plan adopted as a first approximation. This Party programme will not be as invariable as our real Party programme is, which can be modified by Party congresses alone. No, day by day this programme will be improved, elaborated, perfected and modified, in every workshop and in every volost. We need it as a first draft, which will be submitted to the whole of Russia as a great economic plan designed for a period of not less than ten years and indicating how Russia is to be placed on the real economic basis required for communism. What was one of the most powerful incentives that multiplied our strength and our energies to a tremendous degree when we fought and won on the war front? It was the realisation of danger. Everybody asked whether it was possible that the landowners and capitalists might return to Russia. And the reply was that it was. We therefore multiplied our efforts a hundredfold, and we were victorious.
Take the economic front, and ask whether capitalism can be restored economically in Russia. We have combated the Sukharevka black market. The other day, just prior to the opening of the All-Russia Congress of Soviets, this not very pleasant institution was closed down by the Moscow Soviet of Workers' and Red Army Deputies. (Applause.) The Sukharevka black market has been closed but it is not that market that is so sinister. The old Sukharevka market on Sukharevskaya Square has been closed down, an act that presented no difficulty. The sinister thing is the "Sukharevka" that resides in the heart and behaviour of every petty proprietor. This is the "Sukharevka" that must be
closed down. That "Sukharevka" is the basis of capitalism. While it exists, the capitalists may return to Russia and may grow stronger than we are. That must be clearly realised. It must serve as the mainspring of our work and as a condition and yardstick of our real success. While we live in a small-peasant country, there is a firmer economic basis for capitalism in Russia than for communism. That must be borne in mind. Anyone who has carefully observed life in the countryside, as compared with life in the cities, knows that we have not torn up the roots of capitalism and have not undermined the foundation, the basis, of the internal enemy. The latter depends on small-scale production, and there is only one way of undermining it, namely, to place the economy of the country, including agriculture, on a new technical basis, that of modern large-scale production. Only electricity provides that basis.
Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country. Otherwise the country will remain a small-peasant country, and we must clearly realise that. We are weaker than capitalism, not only on the world scale, but also within the country. That is common knowledge. We have realised it, and we shall see to it that the economic basis is transformed from a small-peasant basis into a large-scale industrial basis. Only when the country has been electrified, and industry, agriculture and transport have been placed on the technical basis of modern large-scale industry, only then shall we be fully victorious.
We have already drawn up a preliminary plan for the electrification of the country; two hundred of our best scientific and technical men have worked on it. We have a plan which gives us estimates of materials and finances covering a long period of years, not less than a decade. This plan indicates how many million barrels of cement and how many million bricks we shall require for the purpose of electrification. To accomplish the task of electrification from the financial point of view, the estimates are between 1,000 and 1,200 million gold rubles. You know that we are far from being able to meet this sum from our gold reserves. Our stock of foodstuffs is not very large either. We must therefore meet the expenditure indicated in these estimates by means of concessions, in accordance with the plan I have
mentioned. You will see the calculation showing how the restoration of our industry and our transport is being planned on this basis. <"p517">
I recently had occasion to attend a peasant festival held in Volokolamsk Uyezd, a remote part of Moscow Gubernia, where the peasants have electric lighting. A meeting was arranged in the street, and one of the peasants came forward and began to make a speech welcoming this new event in the lives of the peasants. "We peasants were unenlightened," he said, "and now light has appeared among us, an 'unnatural light, which will light up our peasant darkness'." For my part, these words did not surprise me. Of course, to the non-Party peasant masses electric light is an "unnatural" light; but what we consider unnatural is that the peasants and workers should have lived for hundreds and thousands of years in such backwardness, poverty and oppression under the yoke of the landowners and the capitalists. You cannot emerge from this darkness very rapidly. What we must now try is to convert every electric power station we build into a stronghold of enlightenment to be used to make the masses electricity-conscious, so to speak. All should be made aware of the reason why these small electric power stations, whose numbers run into the dozens, are linked up with the restoration of industry. We have an established plan of electrification, but the fulfilment of this plan is designed to cover a number of years. We must fulfil this plan at all costs, and the period of its fulfilment must be reduced. Here we must have the same thing as was the case with one of our first economic plans, the plan for the restoration of transport -- Order No. 1042 -- which was designed to cover a period of five years, but has now been reduced to three and a half years because we are ahead of the schedule. To carry out the electrification plan we may need a period of ten or twenty years to effect the changes that will preclude any return to capitalism. This will be an example of rapid social development without precedent anywhere in the world. The plan must be carried out at all costs, and its deadline brought nearer.
This is the first time that we have set about economic work in such a fashion that, besides separate plans which have arisen in separate sections of industry as, for instance,
in the transport system and have been brought into other branches of industry, we now have an all-over plan calculated for a number of years. This is hard work, designed to bring about the victory of communism.
It should, however, be realised and remembered that we cannot carry out electrification with the illiterates we have. Our commission will endeavour to stamp out illiteracy -- but that is not enough. It has done a good deal compared with the past, but it has done little compared with what has to be done. Besides literacy, we need cultured, enlightened and educated working people; the majority of the peasants must be made fully aware of the tasks awaiting us. This programme of the Party must be a basic book to be used in every school. You will find in it, in addition to the general plan of electrification, separate plans for every district of Russia. Thus every comrade who goes to the provinces will have a definite scheme of electrification for his district, a scheme for transition from darkness and ignorance to a normal life. And, comrades, you can and must compare the theses you have been presented with, elaborate and check them on the spot; you must see to it that when the question "What is communism?" is asked in any school and in any study circle, the answer should contain not only what is written in the Party programme but should also say how we can emerge from the state of ignorance.
Our best men, our economic experts, have accomplished the task we set them of drawing up a plan for the electrification of Russia and the restoration of her economy. We must now see to it that the workers and peasants should realise how great and difficult this task is, how it must be approached and tackled.
We must see to it that every factory and every electric power station becomes a centre of enlightenment; if Russia is covered with a dense network of electric power stations and powerful technical installations, our communist economic development will become a model for a future socialist Europe and Asia. (Stormy and prolonged applause.)
REPLY TO THE DEBATE ON THE REPORT ON THE WORK
OF THE COUNCIL OF PEOPLE'S COMMISSARS
(Applause.) Comrades, I must confine myself to a few remarks on the speeches and declarations you have just heard. One of the notes I have received expresses perplexity and asks what is the use of the Congress of Soviets hearing such declarations and speeches. I think most of you will disagree with this opinion. It is no doubt always very useful to have a reminder of what some catchwords, now perhaps quite popular -- as set forth by certain parties, sections of which have just made their declarations -- may lead to in the present political situation. Take for example the reasoning of the representative of the Menshevik Party, or to be more exact, a certain section of that party. It is not our fault that the Menshevik Party and the Socialist-Revolutionaries, which still preserve their old titles, constitute a conglomeration of heterogeneous parts that are constantly changing camps, which turns them into voluntary or involuntary, conscious or unconscious, accomplices of international imperialism. This is evident from their declarations and speeches at this Congress.
For example, I have been reproached for advancing a new theory about an impending new period of wars. I need not go far back into history to show what my statements were based upon. We have only just finished with Wrangel; but Wrangel's troops exist somewhere, not very far from the frontiers of our Republic, and are biding their time. Therefore, whoever forgets about the danger that is con-
stantly threatening us and will never cease as long as world imperialism exists, whoever forgets about this forgets about our working people's republic. To say to us that we are conducting secret diplomacy; to say that we must wage only a war of defence, at a time when the sword still hangs over us, when to this day, despite the hundreds of offers we have made and the incredible concessions we are prepared to make, not a single big power has concluded peace with us -- to say such things means repeating the old phrases of petty-bourgeois pacifism which have long become meaningless. If, in the face of these ever actively hostile forces, we pledged ourselves -- as we have been advised to do -- never to resort to certain actions which from a military-strategical point of view may prove to be aggressive, we would be, not only fools but criminals. This is whet these pacifist phrases and resolutions lead to. They lead to a situation wherein the Soviets, surrounded by enemies, will be tied hand and foot and thrown to the predators of world imperialism to be torn to pieces.
When, further, we hear talk about the unity of the proletariat and about our disrupting that unity, it is hard not to smile. We in this country have heard about the unity of the proletariat and now see in fact that the unity of the proletariat in the epoch of social revolution can be achieved only by the extreme revolutionary party of Marxism, and only through a relentless struggle against all other parties. (Stormy applause.)
Further, we are told about the arming of the whole people; we hear the ABC of the old bourgeois-democratic slogan repeated at a time when a most decisive class struggle is raging among the people.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of being present -- regrettably, for only a short while -- at a small private conference<"p520"> of non-Party peasant delegates to our Congress and I learned a great deal from their discussion of some of the most burning questions of rural life, the questions of food supplies, of their destitution and want, of which you all know. The most striking impression that I obtained from this discussion was the depth of the struggle between the poor peasants -- the real toilers -- and the kulaks and idlers. The supreme significance of our revolution lies in
our having helped the lowest sections in the rural districts, the mass of politically the least educated, the mass of the non-Party peasantry, to raise this fundamental question of the social revolution, not only from the theoretical but also from the broad and practical point of view. In all the villages and hamlets throughout our boundless Soviet Russia, people are discussing and finding out who benefits from our political and economic measures. Every where, even in the most remote villages, people understand the problem of the working peasantry and the kulaks. Sometimes they accuse each other too heatedly and passionately, but at any rate they look into the matter and realise that it is necessary, imperatively necessary, to help the working peasant and put him on his feet and to repulse all sorties by the insolent kulaks.
The class struggle has become a reality in the rural districts, deep down among the masses of the peasantry; we have been doing all we can to make this struggle a conscious one. And when, after all this, the leaders of a certain special "International" come before us and talk about arming the people, one feels as if one has been transformed into a pupil of a preparatory class on questions of Marxism and socialism. To forget about the class struggle which is raging all over the world means involuntarily aiding the imperialists of the whole world against the fighting proletariat. The arming of the people is the slogan of our enemies; we stand on the basis of an armed class; we have achieved victory on this basis, and on it we will always win. (Stormy applause.)
The representatives of the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutionaries asked how we could think of such a thing as granting concessions without a special referendum, and why we did not make labour equality the corner-stone of our economic policy (in the Socialist-Revolutionaries' resolution this labour equality was called "rule of labour", while in the Mensheviks' resolution it was paraphrased and called equality between toilers of town and countryside). But what else are these phrases about the "rule of labour" but agitation for the trade unions' independence of the class rule of the proletariat? Jointly with the Menshevik~ and Socialist-Revolutionaries, the whole of the West-European
bourgeois press is showing concern for, and wailing about, this "independence" of the trade unions.
What happened when Martov appeared at the Congress of the Independent Social-Democrats in Halle, where, free of any constraint from the dictatorship of the Bolsheviks, which he dislikes, he said everything he wanted to say? A few days later Martov's speech was published in its entirety, as a titbit, in the most reactionary and imperialist newspapers in Britain. These newspapers thanked Citizen Martov for having disclosed the designs of the Bolsheviks. (Incidentally, over there they use Mr., not Citizen as the form of address.) When such speeches are made in the thick of a world-wide struggle against us, what are they but a piece of Entente politics? You may, of course, say that such a presentation of your ideas of the rule of labour, etc., is petty-bourgeois nonsense, but in actual fact, I repeat, it is nothing more and nothing less than a piece of Entente politics. Tomorrow, if there is an agent of the Entente present here, your speech will be sent to all the capitalist countries and there printed in millions of copies, so that your speech, Citizen Dan, may mislead and dupe the politically unintelligent section of the European workers.
Citizen Dan argued that when I spoke about labour discipline, I was advocating only coercion. The Socialist-Revolutionary Party's representative was more explicit and said that I advocated compulsion based on persuasion. Our entire policy is a clear reply to this. We do not claim that we make no mistakes; but please point out these mistakes and show us better ways of doing things. We have heard nothing like that here. Neither the Mensheviks nor the Socialist-Revolutionaries say: "Here there is want, here there is destitution among the peasants and workers; here is the way to get rid of this poverty." No, they do not say anything of the kind. They only say that what we are doing is compulsion. Yes, that cannot be denied. But we ask you, Citizen Dan: Are you for or against? That is the essence, the crux of the matter. Answer categorically: yes or no? "Neither yes nor no," is the reply. You see, they only want to talk about the rule of labour, to say that we are encroaching on the freedom of the peasants. But who are
the peasants? Does not our Soviet Constitution say that the peasants are toilers, working people? We respect such peasants and regard them as the equals and brothers of the workers. Without such a peasantry we could not take a single step in our Soviet policy. Between the working peasantry and the workers there is a fraternal understanding, embodied in our Constitution. But there is another element in the peasantry, the element that constitutes a vast "Sukharevka". I hope that any assembly, even of non-Party people, will be able to see that after careful examination. Do the profiteering peasants represent the working people? This is the crux of the economic problems in the rural districts. The peasants, as petty proprietors, and the workers are two different classes, and we shall abolish the difference between them when we abolish the basis of small-scale production, and create a new basis of gigantic, large-scale, machine production, as I have already pointed out in my report. This is economically inevitable, but the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries who spoke here came out with incoherent talk of some kind of labour equality between all the peasants and the workers. These are mere phrases, which are fallacious in terms of economics and are refuted by scientific Marxism. Take our revolution in Siberia and in Georgia, take the experience of the international revolution, and you will see for yourselves that these resonant words about labour equality are false. They are part and parcel of the policy the bourgeoisie is pursuing against us, and nothing more.
Dan has asserted here that, in the offices of the Cheka, there is a document to the effect that the Mensheviks are not to come under the October amnesty; from this Citizen Dan draws the conclusion that the Cheka instructs and controls the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. Can we, who are in power, believe a thing like that? Do not the Communists here, who constitute 70 to 80 per cent of all delegates, know that the Cheka is headed by Comrade Dzerzhinsky, a member of the Central Executive Committee and of the Central Committee of the Party, and that in the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee there are six members of the Central Committee of our Party? There are no grounds whatever for
believing that, under these circumstances, the Presidium of the Cheka or its Operations Department instructs and runs the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee. That is simply ridiculous. Of course, there is nothing of interest in this, and the representative of the Menshevik Party was simply putting on a comedy. I would, however, like you to take up, in a few days' time, any bourgeois newspaper published in Western Europe or America in half a million or a million copies. There you will find printed in the boldest type that Citizen Dan has disclosed that the Cheka instructs and controls the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee..
DELIVERED AT A MEETING OF THE R.C P.(B.) GROUP
OF THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
Comrades, in the first place I will say a word or two about the wrong construction that has been put on the question of force. To bring out this wrong construction, I shall read three lines from the minutes of the Eighth Congress.
The whole argument against force was connected with the question of the communes. I think that the slightest use of force in this sphere will be harmful. Attempts have been made to apply this argument -- i.e., that it is foolish to resort to force in establishing communes -- to the entire question of persuasion and compulsion in general. This is obviously stretching the point, and is wrong. As regards the bill we are introducing and the exchange of opinions that has commenced, I must say that I think that the effort to give the question a more Leftist bias is the least business-like. I saw nothing concrete or business-like in the proposal made by Comrade Khanov, who claimed to belong to the extreme Left. I considered that Comrade Schlichter's advice to refrain from passing the bill, and leave it to the next session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee to do so, was most reprehensible. We in the Council of People's Commissars tried to lick the bill into shape as quickly as possible so that the Congress of Soviets, consisting in the main of representatives from the localities, might adopt a final decision. We are threatened with the danger of being too late in conducting this campaign at district level. To
conduct the campaign instructions are needed. It must take at least two or three weeks to draw up such instructions. There can be nothing more injurious than the advice given by Schlichter in his speech on another item of the agenda, regarding the rights of the Gubernia Executive Committees. In substance, the bill proposes that practical measures should at once be taken to assist individual peasant farming, which is the predominating system, and that this assistance should take the form, not only of encouragement but of compulsion as well.
I must say that the bill definitely indicates the measures we have in mind. Clause 11, the most important one, states that the Gubernia Sowing Committees may, under the direction and control of the People's Commissariat of Agriculture, issue "compulsory regulations governing the principal methods of mechanical cultivation of the fields and of improving meadows, sowing, and the methods of preserving the natural fertility of the soil". Where are these compulsory regulations to come from? The bill goes on to say that the methods mainly employed by the more efficient farmers should be adopted. What methods should we make compulsory by law? Well-known methods of improving agriculture -- these must be made compulsory by law and popularised. At the end we read the following: "It is forbidden to introduce regulations and demands: 1) that will cause a radical change in peasant farming, unless such regulations and demands are proposed by volost congresses, or unless the state supplies the given locality with improved implements and means of production; 2) that are difficult of fulfilment by the household of average means, and 3) that involve risks."
A comrade expressed the opinion that the shortcoming in Comrade Osinsky's report consisted in its being too practical and specific; this, he said, prevented him from presenting the problem properly. On the contrary, the most valuable feature of Comrade Osinsky's report was that he took the bull by the horns and called upon you to set to work and discuss immediate practical questions, such as the question of seeds, of taking measures to prevent seed grain from being consumed. In European Russia this will be much more difficult than in the extremely rich Altai
Region, where, it appears, it is so easy to issue orders. If it is so easy to issue orders there, and if you can achieve practical results by issuing orders, then every gubernia land department -- the Altai or any other -- will deserve the utmost encouragement.
Unfortunately, this is far from being the case in the poorer gubernias of European Russia. Here, the whole task of the present campaign, like the whole task of our Congress, is to keep this question as far away as possible from all arguments of a general character, which Schlichter and other comrades called upon us to indulge in. I would like to call for a more practical and business-like presentation of questions, and I welcome the turn which Osinsky has given to the matter. Let us discuss the question of seeds. They will be consumed, unless we do something about preserving them. What is the most practical method of doing that? They must be stored in the public granaries, and the peasants must be given guarantees that they will not be tied up by red tape and improperly distributed. We must convince them that our object at present is to put in the safekeeping of the state the quantity of seeds required to sow all the fields. We shall certainly convince the middle peasant of this, because it is an obvious necessity. If any objection is raised, and if some say that they cannot work for Tsyurupa, and try to depict him as some sort of beast of prey, we will say: "Stop joking; give us a straight reply to the question: How do you propose to restore industry?" The peasants must be supplied with agricultural machinery and implements. If the state is to be in a position to meet all requirements and to provide all the necessary agricultural and technical equipment it will need a steadily growing fund. But we are reaching this position very slowly. That is why I think it is wrong to confuse the issue with the tasks of the state farms and collective farms. The collective farms are not an immediate problem. I know that the collective farms are still in such a state of disorganisation, in such a deplorable position, that they deserve the name of alms-houses. I have no objection to the delegates of the Eighth All-Russia Congress impressing on the Council of People's Commissars or the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the necessity of taking special measures to im-
prove the work of the All-Russia Union of Land and Forest Workers. In this respect, this union is a bulwark, if only it unites in its ranks real semi-proletarian elements who are capable of helping us to become real business-like organisers. I have no objection to that whatever.
However, the object of the present bill is a different one. The present condition of the overwhelming majority of the state farms is below the average. We must base ourselves on the individual peasant; we must take him as he is, and he will remain what he is for some time to come, and so it is no use dreaming about going over to socialism and collectivisation at present. We must drop general arguments and discuss the first practical steps we must take this very spring, and no later; only such a presentation of the question will be business-like. To do that, we must at once pass this bill in the form it has been drafted by the Council of People's Commissars, introduce the necessary changes and amendments at once, and not delay matters for a moment.
As for the socialisation of agricultural implements,<"p528"> I think you are best able to judge what compulsory regulations may be issued in the name of the state. I would warn you against that. We already have a law which grants the right to socialise the implements of the rich peasants. In the districts where this can be successfully carried out, complete freedom to municipalise these implements is allowed by this law; however, the methods to be used are not always and everywhere fully established. Therefore, to introduce that into an act whose immediate object is different would create the danger of scattering our forces instead of concentrating on the most urgent tasks and wherever pressure may be needed. Let us rather concentrate all our efforts on what is absolutely urgent, on collecting a sufficient quantity of seeds at all costs so as to ensure that the entire plan of sowing is carried out, and on introducing, on a mass scale, and wherever the toilers, the poor and middle peasants, predominate, improved methods of farming that have been tested by experience. That is the point. The fewer measures of this kind we draw up now, the better, because, by making sure of carrying out a few measures, we shall put on the proper basis the entire machinery for impro-
ving agriculture, and thoroughly convince the peasants that the road we have taken is the right one. If, however, we undertake more than we can do we shall discredit ourselves in the eyes of the peasants. If there are gubernias where more can be done by issuing orders, there is nothing to prohibit that. The bill says: take into account your own peasant experience; consider what you are able to do in the way of collecting livestock and implements. If agricultural implements in good condition are still available in the gubernia that will be done successfully. However, to apply the law in gubernias where the situation in this respect is far worse and where the peasants are unable to carry out such orders means that the orders will remain a dead letter and will be left hanging in mid-air, as it were; instead of understanding the importance of these measures, the peasants will be disappointed, and that is what I fear most of all for the future. That is why we must first of all start with what is absolutely essential, that is, with preserving the seeds.
Let us now go over to the measures for improving small peasant individual farming, which are quite feasible and must be discussed immediately, in detail, and here decreed and made compulsory by law, to be enforced by order and compulsion, so that what is passed after repeated discussion shall be carried out without fail. I would propose that we at once set up committees, without waiting until the committees are formed officially at the plenary session of the Congress after the report. This unofficial committee can be set up at once, or at all events some time today. The official committee can be set up later, but it would be a mistake to put this off for a day, or even half a day. We have a total of 2,500 delegates, and I think that at least one-tenth of this number have a practical knowledge of this question, after several years of work; if we have 250, that is, over 25 for each district, since our Republic is divided up into nine agricultural districts, I think this number of representatives is sufficient to enable us to proceed at once to a discussion of the practical questions, the concrete measures we should adopt.
What measures to improve agriculture should be adopted in the various districts? In one district, perhaps, steps
may be taken towards compulsory sowing; in another, perhaps, the ground may be prepared for a more vigorous order, like the one proposed by the comrade who investigated conditions in the Altai Gubernia only this spring. In still another district, perhaps, measures could be taken, with the help of agronomists and non-Party peasants, for more timely ploughing and harrowing. I think we ought at once to form committees and divide the regions into districts, since the same measures cannot be employed in all districts, and devote a half a day or a day to the discussion of questions that are not directly mentioned in the decree, but constitute the most important part of the bill. This bill says: appropriate measures should be taken to convince the non-Party peasants. If we are lagging behind in this respect, then, with the mass agitation which we are developing and will develop a hundred times more vigorously and widely than we have done up to now, we can draw up measures for each district and each gubernia; we shall endeavour to make them successful, and do that no less strenuously than we did when we strove to achieve success in our food policy. In the latter case the task was not so complex: we demanded that the peasants yield up a certain quantity of foodstuffs. Here, however, we are demanding that the peasants introduce on their own farms the changes which the state regards as necessary. The chief thing is to make no mistake in defining these changes. That is the most important thing. The fact that Comrade Kurayev put these questions concretely indicates that he is on the right track; however to go over from this to arguments about the general plan of collectivisation, the role of the state farms, which sometimes play a very nasty role, and the Marxist method of approach to purchases, means dragging us away from the immediately practical affairs, back to general arguments which may be useful, but not at a Congress of Soviets which is to pass a law of supreme importance. To prepare the ground for this step, we must carefully consider what the activities and role of the village Soviets should be. We must carefully consider whether the chairman of a village Soviet is the person to be consulted, since he is mainly responsible for carrying out these measures among the peasants. Will it be useful to combine the functions of chairman
of the village Soviet and of chairman of the Committee of Assistance in one person? I am throwing this out as a suggestion. I would like the comrades who are familiar with the work at district level to pay careful attention to this question. The Committees of Assistance ought to discuss what measures should be made compulsory by law. In discussing this question there is no need to be afraid of non-Party people. We shall carefully weigh all their proposals, and we shall know definitely who is for us and who is against us. Clarity must be achieved in every volost and every village. The demands proposed are quite feasible and, with a certain amount of effort, they can be carried out this spring. I would propose that this conference of the group now adjourn. When you consider that the general debate has ended, we should form committees for the various districts with specific agricultural conditions, and immediately proceed to discuss the question. That will be the proper thing to do from the practical point of view, and will ensure the success of the bill.
OF THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
ON THE REPORT ON ELECTRIFICATION
The Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets,
after hearing the report of the Chairman of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia, expresses its thanks, in the first place, to the Presidium of tho Supreme Council of the National Economy and also to the People's Commissariat of Agriculture and the People 's Commissariat of Railways, and particularly to the Commission for the Electrification of Russia for their work in drawing up the plan for the electrification of Russia.
The Congress instructs the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Council of People's Commissars, the Council of Labour and Defence, the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy and also the other People's Commissariats to complete the elaboration of this plan and to endorse it without fail at the earliest date.
The Congress further instructs the government and requests the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions and the All-Russia Congress of Trade Unions to take all measures to conduct the widest possible propaganda for this plan and to make the broadest sections of the population in town and countryside familiar with it. The study of this plan must be introduced into all educational establishments in the Republic without exception; every electric power station and every tolerably well organised factory and state farm must become a centre for teaching the principles of electricity and modern industry, a centre of propaganda for the plan of electrification, and of its systematic study.
All persons possessing sufficient scientific or practical knowledge must be mobilised for the purpose of conducting propaganda for the electrification plan and for imparting to others the knowledge necessary to understand it.
The Congress expresses its firm conviction that all Soviet institutions, all Soviets, and all industrial workers and working peasants will exert every effort and shrink from no sacrifice to carry out the plan for the electrification of Russia at all costs, and despite all obstacles.
Published according to
DRAFT RESOLUTION OF THE R.C.P.(B.) GROUP
OF THE EIGHTH CONGRESS OF SOVIETS
It is obligatory upon all members of the R.C.P., by the time the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. is held (February 6, 1921):
1) to make the fullest possible study of the plan of electrification;
2) to take measures to ensure the widest and most detailed study of the local plan in every district;
3) to draw up, for the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P., practical proposals:
for methods of making all working people more widely familiar with the plan of electrification,
as well as for ways and means of immediately proceeding with the practical fulfilment of this plan in all its aspects.
Published according to
<"en161"> The Congress was held in Moscow from December 22 to 29, 1920. There was a record attendance of 2,537 delegates, of whom 1,728 had full voting rights, and 809 had deliberative votes.
The Congress met at a time when the Soviet Republic had won victory over the foreign interventionists and internal counter-revolution, and the economic front, as Lenin said, had become "the main, the principal front".
The Congress was guided by Lenin, who delivered a report on the work of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars, and a speech closing the debate on his report at plenary sessions of the Congress on December 22 and 23. He also took the floor six times at sittings of the Communist group of the Congress on December 21, 22, 24 and 27 to deal with the question of concessions and the bill on measures to strengthen and develop peasant farming.
After the debate on Lenin's report, the Congress passed a resolution by an overwhelming majority, approving the activities of the Soviet Government. The delegates gave a concerted rebuff to representatives of the petty-bourgeois parties who made a number of anti-Soviet declarations at the Congress and tabled a draft resolution of their own.
The Congress adopted the plan for the electrification of Russia which was drawn up on Lenin's initiative and in keeping with his directions. This was the first long-term economic plan of the Soviet state, which Lenin called "the Party's second programme". The resolution adopted on Krzhizhanovsky 's report was drafted by Lenin (see p. 532 in this volume).
One of the most important questions on the agenda was the bill on measures to strengthen and develop peasant farming, passed by the Council of People's Commissars on December 1-4, 1920. Lenin participated in the discussion of the main clauses of the law at a private meeting of non-Party peasant delegates on
December 22 and in the Communist group of the Congress on December 24 and 27. The Congress unanimously approved the bill.
The transition to peaceful construction called for the improvement and reorganisation of the entire Soviet apparatus. The Congress passed a detailed resolution on the question, setting up proper relations between central and local administrative bodies. The Congress dealt extensively with questions relating to the reorganisation of the entire system of economic management to meet the new tasks. The delegates discussed and approved a new statute of the Council of Labour and Defence.
The Congress instituted the Order of the Red Banner of Labour to be awarded for labour heroism, initiative and organisation in solving economic tasks. [p. 461]
<"en162"> Lenin is referring to his speech at the meeting of activists of the Moscow organisation of the R.C.P.(B.) on December 6, 1920 (see pp. 438-59 in this volume [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Speech Delivered at the Meeting of Activists of the Moscow Organisation of the R.C.P.(B.)". -- DJR]). [p. 464]
<"en163"> Lenin is apparently referring to the collection Red Calvary put out in memory of the victims of the Japanese intervention. [p. 465]
<"en164"> On May 26, 1919, the Supreme Council sent a Note to Kolchak over the signatures of Wilson, Lloyd George, Clemenceau, Orlando and Saionji informing him of the Allies' readiness to recognise Kolchak and supply him with food and munitions to enable him to become ruler of all Russia. In return Kolchak was to convene a constituent assembly after he took Moscow, recognise the independence of Poland and Finland and, unless agreement could be reached on the relations between Russia, on the one hand, and Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Caucasian and Trans-Caspian territories, on the other, to submit this question to the League of Nations and to recognise their autonomy pending a decision by the League, etc. In his reply Kolchak accepted a number of conditions. On July 12 Britain, France, the U.S.A. and Italy considering Kolchak's reply satisfactory, reaffirmed their readiness to give him help. [p. 466]
<"en165"> The decree of the Council of People's Commissars on concessions, the accompanying maps of forest, agricultural and mining concessions and several articles by leading Soviet specialists were published in the journal Russische Korrespondenz No. 1-2 for 1921. [p. 476]
<"en166"> The reference is to a meeting of activists of the Moscow organisation of the R.C.P.(B.) on December 6, 1920. [p. 481]
<"en167"> "Sukharevka" was the name of a market-place near the Sukharev Tower built under Peter I in 1692. At the time of the foreign military intervention and the Civil War it became a centre and symbol of black marketeering. In December 1920 the Moscow Soviet decided to close the market.
When the New Economic Policy was introduced, the market reappeared and existed till 1932. In 1934 the Sukharev Tower was demolished as a hindrance to traffic. [p. 483]
<"en168"> On August 10, 1920, the French Government officially recognised Wrangel as the ruler of South Russia. [p. 488]
<"en169"> This agreement, which established friendly relations between the R.S.F.S.R. and Persia was signed in Moscow on February 26, 1921, despite opposition from British ruling circles. It was based on the principles of peaceful coexistence and co-operation‹equality, respect for the sovereignty of the two-countries, non-interference in internal affairs, and mutual advantage. All the treaties concluded by tsarist Russia with Persia and third parties which infringed on the sovereignty of the Persian people were revoked. Persia got back all the concessions of the tsarist government on her territory. The Soviet Government renounced claims to the loans granted to Persia by the tsarist government. Especially important were the articles pledging both parties to preclude the formation or the existence on their respective territories of organisations or groups with aims subversive to Russia or Persia. This was the first equal treaty in the history of Persia. [p. 491]
<"en170"> See present edition, Vol. 27, pp. 314-17. [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Six Theses on the Immediate Tasks of the Soviet Government". -- DJR] [p. 495]
<"en171"> The All-Russia Bureau for Production Propaganda of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions was set up by a decision of the C.C. R.C.P.(B.) on December 8, 1920. It consisted of representatives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks), the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, the Chief Committee for Political Education, the Central Board for Vocational Training, and the Commissariat of Agriculture. On January 21, 1921, the Organising Bureau of the Party's Central Committee approved the statute of the bureau which defined the aims and tasks of central and local bodies in charge of production propaganda and their structure. The bureau was instructed to work out a general plan of propaganda, and direct and supervise various organs and bodies in carrying out their production propaganda. [p. 500]
<"en172"> The decree of the Council of People's Commissars on "Provisional Rules on Bonuses in Kind" was published on October 23, 1920. [p. 508]
<"en173"> Order No. 1042 was issued by the Chief Department of Railways on May 22, 1920. It dealt with the repair of locomotives damaged during the First World War and the Civil War. Railway depots were ordered to lower the percentage of locomotives under repair from 60 to 20 per cent in four and a half years, beginning from July 1, 1920. [p. 510]
<"en174"> The first session of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the seventh convocation held on February 2-7, 1920, instructed the Presidium of the Supreme Council of the National Economy and the People's Commissariat of Agriculture to work out a plan for the construction of a network of power stations. On February 21, 1920, the Supreme Council of the National Economy, by agreement with the People's Commissariat of Agriculture, appointed a State Commission for the Electrification of Russia. The Commission began its work on March 20 and by the time the Eighth Congress of Soviets met it had compiled an over-all plan for the electrification of the R.S.F.S.R. The State Commission was set up on Lenin's initiative and in keeping with his directives. [p. 514]
<"en175"> On November 14, 1920, Lenin attended the ceremony of the opening of an electric power station in the village of Kashino, Yaropolets Volost, Volokolamsk Uyezd, where he had been invited by the local peasants. Lenin spoke to the latter and then gave an address on the importance of electrification for the national economy. [p. 517]
<"en176"> On December 22, 1920, Lenin attended a private conference of non-Party peasant delegates to the Eighth Congress of Soviets, which was called on Lenin's request by M. I. Kalinin, then Chairman of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. The conference discussed the bill on measures to strengthen and develop agriculture adopted by the Council of People's Commissars on December 14, and submitted for consideration by the Congress. Lenin closely followed the debate, and took notes of the speeches. [p. 520]
<"en177"> The meeting of the Communist group of the Congress, called in the morning of December 24, 1920, was devoted to a discussion of the bill presented by the Council of People's Commissars on measures to promote peasant farming. [p. 525]
<"en178"> Lenin is referring to the following passage in his report on work in the countryside, which he delivered at the Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) on March 23, 1919: "Coercion applied to the middle peasants would cause untold harm" (see present edition Vol. 29, p. 210 [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's Eighth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.). -- DJR]). [p. 525]
<"en179"> The reference is to the law on the socialisation of the land passed on January 18 (31), 1918, by the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets which was held on January 10-18 (23-31), 1918. Clause 6 of the law read: "All livestock and agricultural implements in private possession shall pass, without indemnification, from the hands of the non-working farmers exploiting the labour of others into the hands of uyezd, gubernia, regional and federative Soviets, depending on the importance of the implements and livestock transferred." [p. 528]