Letter to the Congress

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V. I. Lenin




Dictated in December 1922-
January 1923
Published in 1956 in the journal
Kommunist No. 9 and as a pamphlet


Printed from
the shorthand notes

From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1966

Vol. 36, pp. 591-604.

Translated from the Russian
by Andrew Rothstein
Edited by Yuri Sdobnikov

Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,
djr@marx2mao.org (May 2000)
(Corrected October 2003)



LETTER TO THE CONGRESS[653]. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



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Addition to the Letter of December 24, 1922 . . . . . .



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PLANNING COMMISSION  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



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BER OF C.C. MEMBERS)  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .



page 593




    I would urge strongly that at this Congress a number of changes be made in our political structure.

    I want to tell you of the considerations to which I attach most importance.

    At the head of the list I set an increase in the number of Central Committee members to a few dozen or even a hundred. It is my opinion that without this reform our Central Committee would be in great danger if the course of events were not quite favourable for us (and that is something we cannot count on).

    Then, I intend to propose that the Congress should on certain conditions invest the decisions of the State Planning Commission with legislative force, meeting, in this respect, the wishes of Comrade Trotsky -- to a certain extent and on certain conditions.

    As for the first point, i.e., increasing the number of C.C. members, I think it must be done in order to raise the prestige of the Central Committee, to do a thorough job of improving our administrative machinery and to prevent conflicts between small sections of the C.C. from acquiring excessive importance for the future of the Party.

    It seems to me that our Party has every right to demand from the working class 50 to 100 C.C. members, and that it could get them from it without unduly taxing the resources of that class.

    Such a reform would considerably increase the stability of our Party and ease its struggle in the encirclement of hostile states, which, in my opinion, is likely to, and must, become much more acute in the next few years. I think

page 594

that the stability of our Party would gain a thousandfold by such a measure.


December 23, 1922
Taken down by M. V.



    Continuation of the notes.

    December 24, 1922

    By stability of the Central Committee, of which I spoke above, I mean measures against a split, as far as such measures can at all be taken. For, of course, the whiteguard in Russkaya Mysl (it seems to have been S. S. Oldenburg) was right when, first, in the whiteguards' game against Soviet Russia he banked on a split in our Party, and when, secondly, he banked on grave differences in our Party to cause that split.

    Our Party relies on two classes and therefore its instability would be possible and its downfall inevitable if there were no agreement between those two classes. In that event this or that measure, and generally all talk about the stability of our C.C., would be futile. No measures of any kind could prevent a split in such a case. But I hope that this is too remote a future and too improbable an event to talk about.

    I have in mind stability as a guarantee against a split in the immediate future, and I intend to deal here with a few ideas concerning personal qualities.

    I think that from this standpoint the prime factors in the question of stability are such members of the C.C. as Stalin and Trotsky. I think relations between them make up the greater part of the danger of a split, which could be avoided, and this purpose, in my opinion, would be served, among other things, by increasing the number of C.C. members to 50 or 100.

    Comrade Stalin, having become Secretary-General, has unlimited authority concentrated in his hands, and I am not sure

page 595

whether he will always be capable of using that authority with sufficient caution. Comrade Trotsky, on the other hand, as his struggle against the C.C. on the question of the People's Commissariat for Communications has already proved, is distinguished not only by outstanding ability. He is personally perhaps the most capable man in the present C.C., but he has displayed excessive self-assurance and shown excessive preoccupation with the purely administrative side of the work.

    These two qualities of the two outstanding leaders of the present C.C. can inadvertently lead to a split, and if our Party does not take steps to avert this, the split may come unexpectedly. <"p595">

    I shall not give any further appraisals of the personal qualities of other members of the C.C. I shall just recall that the October episode with Zinoviev and Kamenev[654] was, of course, no accident, but neither can the blame for it be laid upon them personally, any more than non-Bolshevism can upon Trotsky.

    Speaking of the young C.C. members, I wish to say a few words about Bukharin and Pyatakov. They are, in my opinion, the most outstanding figures (among the youngest ones), and the following must be borne in mind about them: Bukharin is not only a most valuable and major theorist of the Party; he is also rightly considered the favourite of the whole Party, but his theoretical views can be classified as fully Marxist only with great reserve, for there is something scholastic about him (he has never made a study of dialectics, and, I think, never fully understood it).

    December 25. As for Pyatakov, he is unquestionably a man of outstanding will and outstanding ability, but shows too much zeal for administrating and the administrative side of the work to be relied upon in a serious political matter.

    Both of these remarks, of course, are made only for the present, on the assumption that both these outstanding and devoted Party workers fail to find an occasion to enhance their knowledge and amend their one-sidedness.


December 23, 1925
Taken down by M. V.

page 596


OF DECEMBER 24, 1922

    Stalin is too rude and this defect, although quite tolerable in our midst and in dealings' among us Communists becomes intolerable in a Secretary-General. That is why I suggest that the comrades think about a way of removing Stalin from that post and appointing another man in his stead who in all other respects differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc. This circumstance may appear to be a negligible detail. But I think that from the standpoint of safeguards against a split and from the standpoint of what I wrote above about the relationship between Stalin and Trotsky it is not a detail, or it is a detail which can assume decisive importance.


Taken down by L. F.
January 4, 1923



    Continuation of the notes.

    December 26, 1922

    The increase in the number of C.C. members to 50 or even 100 must, in my opinion, serve a double or even a treble purpose: the more members there are in the C.C., the more men will be trained in C.C. work and the less danger there will be of a split due to some indiscretion. The enlistment of many workers to the C.C. will help the workers to improve our administrative machinery, which is pretty bad. We inherited it, in effect, from the old regime, for it was absolutely impossible to reorganise it in such a short time, especially in conditions of war, famine, etc. That is why those "critics" who point to the defects of our administrative machinery out of mockery or malice may be calmly answered that they do not in the least understand the conditions of the revolution today. It is altogether impossible

page 597

in five years to reorganise the machinery adequately, especially in the conditions in which our revolution took place. It is enough that in five years we have created a new type of state in which the workers are leading the peasants against the bourgeoisie; and in a hostile international environment this in itself is a gigantic achievement. But knowledge of this must on no account blind us to the fact that, in effect, we took over the old machinery of state from the tsar and the bourgeoisie and that now, with the onset of peace and the satisfaction of the minimum requirements against famine, all our work must be directed towards improving the administrative machinery.

    I think that a few dozen workers, being members of the C.C., can deal better than anybody else with checking, improving and remodelling our state apparatus. The Workers' and Peasants' Inspection on whom this function devolved at the beginning proved unable to cope with it and can be used only as an "appendage" or, on certain conditions, as an assistant to these members of the C.C. In my opinion, the workers admitted to the Central Committee should come preferably not from among those who have had long service in Soviet bodies (in this part of my letter the term workers everywhere includes peasants), because those workers have already acquired the very traditions and the very prejudices which it is desirable to combat.

    The working-class members of the C.C. must be mainly workers of a lower stratum than those promoted in the last five years to work in Soviet bodies; they must be people closer to being rank-and-file workers and peasants, who, however, do not fall into the category of direct or indirect exploiters. I think that by attending all sittings of the C.C. and all sittings of the Political Bureau, and by reading all the documents of the C.C., such workers can form a staff of devoted supporters of the Soviet system, able, first, to give stability to the C.C. itself, and second, to work effectively on the renewal and improvement of the state apparatus.


Taken down by L. F.
December 26, 1922

page 598



    Continuation of the notes.

    December 27, 1922


    This idea was suggested by Comrade Trotsky, it seems, quite a long time ago. I was against it at the time, because I thought that there would then be a fundamental lack of co-ordination in the system of our legislative institutions. But after closer consideration of the matter I find that in substance there is a sound idea in it, namely: the State Planning Commission stands somewhat apart from our legislative institutions, although, as a body of experienced people, experts, representatives of science and technology, it is actually in a better position to form a correct judgement of affairs.

    However, we have so far proceeded from the principle that the State Planning Commission must provide the state with critically analysed material and the state institutions must decide state matters. I think that in the present situation, when affairs of state have become unusually complicated, when it is necessary time and again to settle questions of which some require the expert opinion of the members of the State Planning Commission and some do not, and, what is more, to settle matters which need the expert opinion of the State Planning Commission on some points but not on others -- I think that we must now take a step towards extending the competence of the State Planning Commission.

    I imagine that step to be such that the decisions of the State Planning Commission could not be rejected by ordinary procedure in Soviet bodies, but would need a special procedure to be reconsidered. For example, the question should be submitted to a session of the All-Russia Central

page 599

Executive Committee, prepared for reconsideration according to a special instruction, involving the drawing up, under special rules, of memoranda to examine whether the State Planning Commission decision is subject to reversal. Lastly, special time-limits should be set for the reconsideration of State Planning Commission decisions, etc.

    In this respect I think we can and must accede to the wishes of Comrade Trotsky, but not in the sense that specifically any one of our political leaders, or the Chairman of the Supreme Economic Council, etc., should be Chairman of the State Planning Commission. I think that personal matters are at present too closely interwoven with the question of principle. I think that the attacks which are now made against the Chairman of the State Planning Commission, Comrade Krzhizhanovsky, and Comrade Pyatakov, his deputy, and which proceed along two lines, so that, on the one hand, we hear charges of extreme leniency, lack of independent judgement and lack of backbone, and, on the other, charges of excessive coarseness, drill-sergeant methods, lack of solid scientific background, etc. -- I think these attacks express two sides of the question, exaggerating them to the extreme, and that in actual fact we need a skilful combination in the State Planning Commission of two types of character, of which one may be exemplified by Comrade Pyatakov and the other by Comrade Krzhizhanovsky.

    I think that the State Planning Commission must be headed by a man who, on the one hand, has scientific education, namely, either technical or agronomic, with decades of experience in practical work in the field of technology or of agronomics. I think this man must possess not so much the qualities of an administrator as broad experience and the ability to enlist the services of other men.


December 27, 1922
Taken down by M. V.

page 600



    Continuation of the letter
    on the legislative nature of
    State Planning Commission

    December 28, 1922

    I have noticed that some of our comrades who are able to exercise a decisive influence on the direction of state affairs, exaggerate the administrative side, which, of course, is necessary in its time and place, but which should not be confused with the scientific side, with a grasp of the broad facts, the ability to recruit men, etc.

    In every state institution, especially in the State Planning Commission, the combination of these two qualities is essential; and when Comrade Krzhizhanovsky told me that he had enlisted the services of Comrade Pyatakov for the Commission and had come to terms with him about the work, I, in consenting to this, on the one hand, entertained certain doubts and, on the other, sometimes hoped that we would thus get the combination of the two types of statesmen. To see whether those hopes are justified, we must now wait and consider the matter on the strength of somewhat longer experience, but in principle, I think, there can be no doubt that such a combination of temperaments and types (of men and qualities) is absolutely necessary for the correct functioning of state institutions. I think that here it is just as harmful to exaggerate "administrating" as it is to exaggerate anything at all. The chief of a state institution must possess a high degree of personal appeal and sufficiently solid scientific and technical knowledge to be able to check people's work. That much is basic. Without it the work cannot be done properly. On the other hand, it is very important that he should be capable of administering and should have a worthy assistant, or assistants, in the matter. The combination of these two qualities in one person will hardly be found, and it is hardly necessary.


    Taken down by L. F.
    December 28, 1922

page 601



    Continuation of the notes
    on the State
    Planning Commission
    December 28, 1922

    The State Planning Commission is apparently developing in all respects into a commission of experts. Such an institution cannot be headed by anybody except a man with great experience and an all-round scientific education in technology. The administrative element must in essence be subsidiary. A certain independence and autonomy of the State Planning Commission is essential for the prestige of this scientific institution and depends on one thing, namely, the conscientiousness of its workers and their conscientious desire to turn our plan of economic and social development into reality.

    This last quality may, of course, be found now only as an exception, for the overwhelming majority of scientists, who naturally make up the Commission, are inevitably infected with bourgeois ideas and bourgeois prejudices. The check on them from this standpoint must be the job of several persons who can form the Presidium of the Commission. These must be Communists to keep a day-to-day check on the extent of the bourgeois scientists' devotion to our cause displayed in the whole course of the work and see that they abandon bourgeois prejudices and gradually adopt the socialist standpoint. This work along the twin lines of scientific checking and pure administration should be the ideal of those who run the State Planning Commission in our Republic.


    Taken down by M. V.

    December 29, 1922

    Is it rational to divide the work of the State Planning Commission into separate jobs? Should we not, on the contrary, try to build up a group of permanent specialists

page 602

who would be systematically checked by the Presidium of the Commission and could solve the whole range of problems within its ambit? I think that the latter would be the more reasonable and that we must try to cut down the number of temporary and urgent tasks.


    December 29, 1922

    Taken down by M. V.

page 712



  <"en653">[653] This is known as Lenin's "Testament " and was dictated from December 23 to 26, 1922, and the Addition to the Letter of December 24, 1922, on January 4, 1923.
    This letter, like those that follow, are part of Lenin's last works, which are equivalent to an outline programme. They are "Pages from a Diary", "On Co-operation", "Our Revolution (Apropos of N. Sukhanov's Notes)", "How We Should Reorganise the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection (Recommendation to the Twelfth Party Congress", and "Better Fewer, But Better", and were dictated in January and February 1923 and published at the time in Pravda (see present edition, Vol. 33)
    Lenin considered it necessary to have the present letter made known to the Party Congress after his death. Accordingly, it was read out to the delegations of the Thirteenth Congress which was held from May 23 to 31, 1924. The Congress unanimously decided

page 713

not to publish the letter, because it was addressed to the Congress and had not been intended for the press.
    The letters mentioned above were, under a decision of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U., read out to the delegates of the Twentieth Party Congress, and then circulated among Party organisations.
    In accordance with the instruction of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U., the letters were published in the magazine Kommunist No. 9 in 1956 and issued in pamphlet form in a mass edition.    [p. 591]

  <"en654">[654] A reference to the capitulatory behaviour of Zinoviev and Kamenev at the sittings of the Party Central Committee on October 10 (23) and 16 (29), 1917, when they spoke and voted against Lenin's resolution on immediate preparations for an armed uprising. Though they were given a firm rebuff at both sittings, they issued a statement in the Menshevik Novaya Zhizn (October 18) about the Bolshevik preparations for the uprising, which, they said, was a gamble. In this manner, they gave away to Rodzyanko and Kerensky a great Party secret. That same day, Lenin, in his "Letter to Bolshevik Party Members", condemned their behaviour and said it was an unprecedented act of strike-breaking (see present edition, Vol. 26, pp. 216-19).    [p. 595]