8th Congress

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Eighth Congress of the RCP (b). March 1919.

The VIII Congress of the RCP (b) was held on March 18–23, 1919 in Moscow. The minutes of the VIII Congress of the RCP (b) were first published by the Kommunist book publishing house in 1919 and republished in 1933 by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute under the Central Committee of the CPSU (b). When preparing this edition of the minutes, the printed text of the first edition of the minutes of 1919 was taken as the basis, which was compiled with the transcripts of the sessions of the congress stored in the Archives of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism under the Central Committee of the CPSU and the first publications in the newspaper Pravda for 1919 without reservations. All additions and clarifications to the text of the protocols are given in footnotes. VI Lenin's reports and speeches are given according to the text of the 29th volume of the 4th edition of the Works of VI Lenin.

The VIII All-Russian Party Conference in the history of our party, in the history of its struggle to strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat, to build socialism during the civil war, occupies a significant place.

The conference took place in an atmosphere of tremendous success, on the fronts of the civil war and the emerging temporary respite, thwarted by the offensive of the White Poles and Wrangel. “We are calling a conference,” Lenin said at the opening of the conference, “in connection with the Congress of Soviets, at a moment when we have managed to achieve a gigantic improvement on the fronts, and when we are confident that we are on the eve of a major turning point for the better both in the international situation and in relation to the military ". “The failure of the counter-revolution this time was so unexpected and sudden,” wrote Stalin, “that the victors of imperialist Germany, the old wolves of the Entente, were forced to proclaim publicly: “Bolshevism cannot be defeated by force of arms”.

The victory of the dictatorship of the working class on the fronts of the civil war strengthened the international position of Soviet power, and the tasks of socialist construction and organizational tasks began to come to the fore. On these main and most difficult tasks of the proletarian revolution — organizational tasks — the VIII All-Russian Conference focused its attention mainly on. “Behind,” Lenin said later in his report at the VII Congress of Soviets, “lies the main phase of the civil wars that we were waging, and. ahead is the main phase of that peaceful construction, which attracts all of us, which we want, which we must create and to which we will devote all our efforts and our whole life. Now we can say on the basis of the difficult trials of the war that in the main - in terms of military and international - we have proved to be the winners. The road of peaceful construction opens before us”.

The Party approached the solution of these most important tasks of socialist construction with the experience of two years of heroic struggle not only against the interventionists; and internal White Guards, but also the fight against devastation in the difficult conditions of the civil war. The Party, both on the labor front, as well as on the military fronts, organized and led the labor enthusiasm, heroism and dedication of the workers and toiling masses. Subbotniks were a striking indicator of this enthusiasm and were “extraordinarily valuable as the actual beginning of (the first phase of) communism”.

One of the main issues of the conference was the question of " Soviet construction." It was during the discussion of this issue (as, in part, according to the report of the Central Committee) that the less-whistle-Socialist-Revolutionary insides of the Sapronov-Osinsky group, which later took shape as a group of "democratic centralism", came to light. The group put forward a special scheme of organizational measures on issues of both party and Soviet construction, in which it gave an anti-Leninist interpretation of the principle of democratic centralism. Their struggle against one-man management for collegiality, their struggle against the centralism of the Soviet apparatus and the defense of de facto "local power", replacing the real struggle with bureaucracy with shouts of "bureaucracy" essentially meant a struggle against strengthening the proletarian state, for its separation from the party leadership. The conference rebuffed these anti-party attitudes of the opposition, about which Lenin later said: “This is the worst Menshevism and Socialist-Revolutionaryism,” and adopted a number of decisions to strengthen the apparatus of the dictatorship of the proletariat and to maximize the involvement of the broadest working masses in building the Soviet state.

One of the most difficult tasks of communist construction was the task of strengthening the alliance with the middle peasantry. Already at the 8th Congress, the party proclaimed a policy of a strong alliance with the middle peasant. The conference outlined a number of measures to strengthen this alliance, to develop party work in the countryside and to provide real assistance to the peasant. At the conference, the party criticized the anti-middle peasant tendencies of the Sapronov group, which, under the guise of accusing the Central Committee of bureaucratic persecution of local workers, essentially defended the resistance that had taken place in a number of party organizations to the implementation of the decision of the 8th Congress on an alliance with the middle peasant. Sapronov's proposal to remove 9 of the "Instruction for work in the countryside", which says: "to obtain from Soviet farms and communes direct and real assistance to the neighboring peasants," followed from these same anti-middle-peasant sentiments. Lenin, in his concluding remarks, exposed the entire harm of the anti-middle-class deviation. "This is a serious question," said Lenin, "because on this basis our relations with the peasants often deteriorate," "the relationship of the communes and Soviet farms to the surrounding peasantry, this is one of the most painful questions of our entire policy." An alliance with the middle peasantry - Lenin stressed - will not be lasting "if we are not able to arrange this matter in such a way that real help is rendered to this peasant."

The discussion at the conference of the question of "Soviet power in Ukraine" was of great importance for the whole party. The party mercilessly criticized the mistakes in national and peasant issues that took place in Ukraine in 1919 (underestimation of the national question in the practice of many party organizations, the forced planting of communes, etc.) and, in essence, were Luxembourgian perversions. Based on the experience of Ukraine, the conference showed all national communist parties how to pursue the party line on peasant and national issues in the peculiar conditions of the national regions previously oppressed by tsarism. Under the direct leadership of the Central Committee of the RCP (b), the CP (b) U, correcting these mistakes, consistently pursuing the Leninist national policy, ensured the victory of the proletarian dictatorship in Ukraine.

The issues of the correct implementation of the policy towards the peasantry and in the national question were of decisive importance not only for 1919, the period of the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat in Ukraine, but also during the period of socialist construction. And now, under the leadership of the Leninist Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) and Comrade Stalin, the CP (b) U has corrected the mistakes made recently in Ukraine, expressed in the weakening of the Bolshevik vigilance, which made it easier for the Ukrainian nationalists - a weapon of German and Polish fascism - to counter-revolutionary subversive work. The decisions of the June and November plenums of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of U, in which mistakes were revealed, the results were summed up and further tasks of national policy were outlined, are of tremendous general party significance. Under the direct leadership of the Central Committee and the leader of the party, Comrade Stalin, the CP (b) U has achieved brilliant victories in the construction of socialist Ukraine over the past year. These victories of the Soviet power in Ukraine - an example of the Leninist nationality policy - are of international importance.

The issues of strengthening the party itself - the most important instrument of the proletarian dictatorship and the construction of socialism - acquired special significance in the then situation. "We must," said Lenin, "create a party that will be a party of workers, in which there is no place for those who take over."  Held in then? Since the party's re-registration is the first purge of its ranks under the dictatorship of the proletariat, party week, like the charter adopted at the conference, ensured the strengthening and purification of the party. The conference adopted a special decision to involve in the party work new masses of workers who joined the party during the difficult years of the civil war, emphasizing the importance of the task of making every member of the party "workers of the new communist society under construction."

The conference in its decisions summed up the results of a two-year struggle to strengthen the dictatorship of the proletariat and, without in any way weakening the military work - the defense of the Soviet republic, - focused the attention of the entire party “on the basic, on the foundation, on those simple tasks,” as Lenin says. which are the most difficult to solve ... it is the bread problem, the fuel problem, the lice control problem. Here are three simple tasks, - says Lenin further, - which will give us the opportunity to build a socialist republic, and then we will defeat the whole world a hundred times more victorious, solemn and triumphant than we will repel the attack of the Entente. "

The transcripts of the VIII All-Russian Conference are published for the first time. The publication is based on: 1) Verbatim records of reports and debates published in Izvestia of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) No. 9, 10, 11 for 1919; Lenin - "Political Report of the Central Committee"; Krestinsky— “Organizational Report OK”; Vladimirsky - "Report on Soviet construction"; Zinoviev - "On the charter"; Bukharin - "On work among the new members of the Party" and co-reports and debates on them. 2) The transcripts stored in the archives of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute, unpublished and not corrected by the editorial committee of the conference: - Yakovlev's report - "On Soviet power in Ukraine", debates on this report, the closing words of Lenin and Yakovlev, and Rykov's report - "On fuel ".

The transcript of one of Lenin's main speeches - his report "On Soviet Power in Ukraine" - was not preserved in the conference materials. The absence of this - of exceptional importance in terms of its meaning - of the document constitutes a very large gap.

The text of the conference sessions published in Izvestia of the Central Committee was carefully checked against the transcripts stored in the IMEL archive, and on the basis of them was supplemented.

It was not possible to establish the personal composition of the conference delegates. From the report of the credentials committee, it is clear that the conference was attended by 45 delegates with a decisive vote - 40 representatives from provincial committees, 5 - from regional, territorial, and other organizations - and 73 delegates with an advisory vote. Delegates from Tobolsk, Omsk, Chelyabinsk, Samara, Kursk, Orenburg, and Astrakhan provincial committees were not represented at all, and a representative of Turkestan was also absent.

The section "Materials" contains resolutions and resolutions adopted by the VIII Conference (reproduced in this edition according to the text of Izvestia Central Committee No. 10, 11 for 1919 and JMb 12 for 1920.

In the section "Attachments" are given: a notice of the convocation of the conference and documents published in connection with the issues that were the subject of discussion at the conference.

The preparation for publication of this edition was done by T. Khait; working editing was carried out by M. Volin.