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V. I. Lenin
ON THE ESTABLISHMENT
OF THE U.S.S.R.
Written September 26, 1922
First published in 1959
in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI
Printed from the manuscript
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1971
Vol. 42, pp. 421-23.
Translated from the Russian
by Bernard Isaacs
First printing 1969
Second printing 1971
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, email@example.com (August 2000)
ON THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE U.S.S.R.
LETTER TO L. B. KAMENEV
FOR MEMBERS OF THE POLITBUREAU
Comrade Kamenev, Stalin has probably already sent you the resolution of his commission on the entry of the independent republics into the R.S.F.S.R.
If he has not, please take it from the secretary at once, and read it. I spoke about it with Sokolnikov yesterday, and with Stalin today. Tomorrow I shall see Mdivani (the Georgian Communist suspected of "independent" sentiments).
In my opinion the matter is of utmost importance. Stalin tends to be somewhat hasty. Give the matter good thought (you once intended to deal with it, and even had a bit to do with it); Zinoviev too.
Stalin has already consented to make one concession: in Clause 1, instead of "entry" into the R.S.F.S.R., to put:"Formal unification with the R.S.F.S.R. in a Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia."    I hope the purport of this concession is clear: we consider ourselves, the Ukrainian S.S.R. and others, equal, and enter with them, on an equal basis, into a new union, a new
federation, the Union of the Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia.
Clause 2 needs to be amended as well. What is needed besides the sessions of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the R.S.F.S.R. is a"Federal All-Union Central Executive Committee of the Union of the Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia."If the former should hold sessions once a week, and the latter once a week (or once a fortnight even), this may be easily arranged.
The important thing is not to provide material for the "pro-independence" people, not to destroy their independence, but to create another new storey, a federation of equal republics.
The second part of Clause 2 could stand: the dissatisfied will appeal (against decisions of the Council of Labour and Defence, and the Council of People's Commissars ) to the Federal All-Union Central Executive Committee, without thereby suspending implementation (just as in the R.S.F.S.R.).
Clause 3 could stand, but its wording should be: "amalgamate in federal People's Commissariats whose seat shall be in Moscow, with the proviso that the respective People's Commissariats of the R.S.F.S.R. have their authorised representatives with a small staff in all the Republics that have joined the Union of Republics of Europe and Asia. "
Part 2 of Clause 3 remains; perhaps it could be said to emphasise equality: "by agreement of the Central Executive Committees of the member republics of the Union of the Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia."
Let's think about Part 3: perhaps we had better substitute "mandatory " for "desirable"? Or perhaps insert conditionally mandatory at least in the form of a request for instructions and the authority to decide without such instructions solely in cases of "specially urgent importance"?
Clause 4 could perhaps also be "amalgamate by agreement of the Central Executive Committees"?
Perhaps add to Clause 5: "with the establishment of joint (or general) conferences and congresses of a purely consultative nature (or perhaps of a solely consultative nature)?
Appropriate alterations in the 1st and 2nd comments.
Stalin has agreed to delay submission of the resolution to the Political Bureau of the Central Committee until my return. I shall arrive on Monday, October 2. I should like to see you and Rykov for about two hours in the morning, say 12 noon to 2 p.m., and, if necessary, in the evening, say 5-7 or 6-8.
That is my tentative draft. I shall add or amend on the strength of talks with Mdivani and other comrades. I beg you to do the same, and to reply to me.
P. S. Send copies to all members of the Political Bureau.
<"en481"> On August 10, 1922, the Politbureau directed the Orgbureau to set up a commission to go into the question of relations between the R.S.F.S.R. and the independent national Soviet Republics in preparation for the next plenary meeting of the Party's Central Committee. This commission, set up on August 11, consisted of J. V. Stalin, V. V. Kuibyshev, G. K. Orjonikidze, K. G. Rakovsky, G. Y. Sokolnikov and representatives of the national republics -- S. A. Agamali-ogly (Azerbaijan), A. P. Myasnikov (Armenia), P. G. Mdivani (Georgia), G. I. Petrovsky (Ukraine), A. G. Chervyakov (Byelorussia) and others.
Stalin drafted the commission's resolution "On the Relations Between the R.S.F.S.R. and the Independent Republics", which provided for the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia entering the Russian Federation as autonomous republics. Stalin's draft was forwarded for discussion to the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of the Soviet national republics. It was supported by the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of Azerbaijan and Armenia. The C.C. of the Georgian Communist Party was against the draft resolution. At its meeting on September 15, 1922, it passed the following decision by a majority vote: "The union in the form of autonomisation of the independent republics proposed on the basis of Stalin's theses is premature. A union of economic efforts and a common policy are necessary, but all attributes of independence should be preserved." The C.C. of the Byelorussian Communist Party went on record for the preservation of treaty relations between the independent republics. The C.C. of the Ukrainian C.P. did not discuss the draft.
The commission met on September 23 and 24, 1922, with V. M. Molotov in the chair. It approved Stalin's draft (with one abstention -- the representative from Georgia). In a special point the commission rejected the resolution of the C.C. of the Georgian Communist Party. Stalin's draft was gone over point by point and approved by a majority with certain minor amendments and addenda. Point 2 stating that the decisions of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence of the R.S.P.S.R. were binding upon the corresponding bodies of the national republics was carried by an 8 to 1 majority (Mdivani voting against and Petrovsky abstaining).
The final wording of the commission's resolution, which Lenin deals with in his letter to the members of the Politbureau, was as follows:
"1. It is considered advisable that treaties be concluded between the Soviet Republics of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia and the R.S.F.S.R. for their formal entry
into the R.S.F.S.R., the question of Bokhara, Kharezm and the Far-Eastern Republic being left open and confined to agreements with them on customs arrangements, foreign trade, foreign and military affairs, and so on.
"Note: Corresponding changes in the constitutions of the Republics mentioned in Point 1 and of the R.S.F.S.R. to be made after enactment by Soviet procedure.
"2. In accordance with this the decisions of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the R.S.F.S.R. shall be considered binding upon the central bodies of the republics mentioned in Point 1, while the decisions of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence of the R.S.F.S.R. shall be binding upon the unified commissariats of these republics.
"Note: These republics are to be represented on the Presidium of the All-Russia C.E.C. of the R.S.F.S.R.
"3. External affairs (foreign affairs and foreign trade), military affairs, ways of communication (with the exception of local transport) and Potel (the People's Commissariat for Post and Telegraph --Ed..) of the republics mentioned in Point 1 shall be merged with those of the R.S.F.S.R., the corresponding commissariats of the R.S.F.S.R. having their agents and a small staff in the republics.
"The agents are appointed by the People's Commissars of the R.S.F.S.R. by arrangement with the Central Executive Committees of the republics.
"It is considered advisable that the republics concerned be represented on the corresponding foreign agencies of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and the People's Commissariat for Foreign Trade.
"4. The Commissariats for Finance, Food, Labour and National Economy of the republics shall be formally subject to the directives of the corresponding R.S.F.S.R. commissariats.
"5. The remaining commissariats of the republics mentioned in Point.1, namely, the Commissariats for Justice, Education, Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, Public Health and Social Security, shall be considered independent.
"Note 1: The agencies fighting counter-revolution in the afore mentioned republics shall be subject to the directives of the G.P.U. of the R.S.F.S.R.
"Note 2: The Central Executive Committees of the republics shall be granted the right of amnesty only in civil cases.
"6. This decision, if approved by the C.C. of the R.C.P., shall not be published, but shall be passed on to the national Central Committees as a circular directive to be enacted through the Central Executive Committee or the Congress of Soviets of the aforementioned republics pending the convocation of an All-Russia Congress of Soviets, at which it is to be declared as the desire of these republics" (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C., C.P.S.U.).
On September 25 the commission's materials (Stalin's draft, the resolution and minutes of the commission's meetings, and the resolutions of the Central Committees of the Communist Parties of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia) were sent to Lenin at Gorki. Simultaneously, without waiting for Lenin's instructions and without the question being considered in the Politbureau, the Secretariat of the C.C. sent the commission's resolution to all the members and alternate members of the C.C. in preparation for the latter's plenary meeting fixed for October 5.
After studying the Commission's material Lenin wrote his letter to the members of the Politbureau which is published in this volume. The letter is dated September 27; apparently this is a slip of the pen, since the Registration Book of Lenin's Letters, Notes and Instructions bears an entry stating that this letter was forwarded to the members of the Politbureau on September 26; moreover, Lenin's conversation with Stalin, to which reference is made in the letter, took place on September 26; it can be inferred from this that Lenin's letter was written on September 26. In his letter to the members of the Politbureau Lenin came out against Stalin's idea of "autonomisation" of the independent national Soviet Republics and suggested a fundamentally different way of uniting them by creating a Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (see also Lenin's letter "The Question of Nationalities or 'Autonomisation'", present edition, Vol. 36, pp. 605-11).
In accordance with Lenin's proposals the resolution drafted by the C.C.'s Commission was revised.
The new resolution was worded as follows:
"1. It is considered necessary that a treaty be concluded between the Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Federation of Transcaucasian Republics and the R.S.F.S.R. for their amalgamation in a Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, each reserving the right to freely secede from membership of the Union.
"2. The supreme body of the Union shall be the Union Central Executive Committee consisting of representatives of the central executive committees of the R.S.F.S.R., the Transcaucasian Federation, the Ukraine and Byelorussia pro rata to the population they represent.
"3. The executive organ of the Union C.E.C. shall be the Union Council of People's Commissars appointed by the Union C.E.C.
"4. The People's Commissariats for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Military Affairs, Railways and Post and Telegraph of the republics and federations comprising the Union shall be merged with those of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the corresponding commissariats of the Union of Republics having in the republics and federations their agents and a small staff appointed by the People's Commissars of the Union by arrangement with the Central Executive Committees of the federations and republics.
Note: It is considered necessary for the republics concerned to be represented on the corresponding foreign agencies of the
People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and the People's Commissariat for Foreign Trade.
"5. The People's Commissariats for Finance, Food, National Economy, Labour and Inspection of the republics and federations comprising the Union of Republics, also the central agencies for fighting counter-revolution shall be subject to the directives of the corresponding People's Commissariats and to the decisions of the Council of People's Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence of the Union of Republics.
"6. The remaining people's commissariats comprising the Union of Republics, namely, the Commissariats for Justice, Education, Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Public Health and Social Security shall be considered independent" (Central Party Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism of the C.C. of the C.P.S.U.).
On October 6, 1922, the day on which the question of the relations between the R.S.F.S.R. and the independent republics was discussed at the plenary meeting of the C.C., Lenin, who was unable to attend the meeting, wrote a note to Kamenev urging the need for combating dominant-nation chauvinism and proposing an addendum to the resolution saying that representatives of all the uniting republics should take their turn in presiding at the Union Central Executive Committee (see Collected Works, Fifth [Russian] Edition, Vol. 45, p. 214 [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "Memo to the Political Bureau on Combatting Dominant Nation Chauvinism". -- DJR]).
The C C. Plenum fully supported Lenin, adopted a resolution in the form of C.C. directives based on his proposals, and instructed a new commission to draft a bill on the formation of the U.S.S.R. for submission to the Congress of Soviets. The members of the C.C. in their speeches strongly denounced all manifestations of dominant-nation chauvinism. At the same time the plenum rebuffed Mdivani, who at first objected to the formation of the U.S.S.R. and then insisted on Georgia joining the U.S.S.R. directly, and not through the Transcaucasian Federation.
Guided by Lenin's instructions, the Central Committee of the Party directed all the subsequent work of uniting the republics.
On December 30, 1922, the First All-Union Congress of Soviets met to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. [p. 421]