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Stalin- Transcripts from Soviet Archives
From the speech of Comrade Stalin. March 5, 1937
Source: Questions of history, 1995, No. 12, pp. 11‐23
Andreev. Comrade Stalin has the final word.
Comrades, in my report I spoke about general questions of the matter under discussion. Now let me say a few words in my closing remarks about more specific questions.
Now, apparently, everyone understood, realized that an excessive enthusiasm for economic campaigns and economic affairs, a hobby explained by the fact that these affairs give immediate results and this, so to speak, even more people are involved in this business, that this is an extraordinary passion when forgetting about other issues lead to a dead end. I think that the comrades have understood and realized this.
But from the speeches of some speakers, it is clear that they draw extreme conclusions from this clear and, I would say, axiomatic position. There were voices: ʺWell, now, thank God, letʹs get rid of economic affairs ...ʺ (Laughter) ʺ... now we can get down to party political work.ʺ
This, comrades, is the other extreme. You cannot jump from one extreme to the other. It is impossible to separate politics from the economy. We cannot abandon the economy in the same way that we cannot and must not abandon politics. It is only in the interests of a methodological study of the issue, for convenience, we separate politics from economics in our heads. In life, on the contrary, in practice politics and economy are not separate and inseparable. They exist together and act together. In no case should we leave the farm. In no case. The meaning of the draft resolution is not to substitute economic bodies for our party leaders, not to replace, not to transfer the headquarters of economic work ‐ whether the question is about industry or agriculture, all the same ‐ not to transfer them to the office of the first secretary. This is what we are talking about.
Of course, we will not be able to immediately get rid of household trifles. Weʹre just scheduling the installation. Time is needed for the directive to free oneself from economic trifles and to strengthen party political work. It is necessary to staff the organs of agriculture, to give them the best people. Industry, it is stronger built, and its organs, perhaps, will not allow you to replace them. And this is very good. The situation is weaker with the agricultural authorities both in the center and in the localities. These bodies must be strengthened worldwide by people, and, most importantly, we must learn the method of the Bolshevik leadership of Soviet economic bodies, not replace them and not depersonalize them, but help them, strengthen them and lead through them, and not apart from them. This is where the question comes down.
The agricultural agencies have not yet been staffed, not strengthened, unfortunately, you will have to deal closely with agricultural affairs in the near future so that these matters are not abandoned altogether. So, you need to combine one with the other. This is the method of the Bolshevik leadership of the economic organs, of the economy in general, both industry and agriculture. Strengthening the organs of the economy, equipping them with the best people, ‐ to help them from the outside, to give them guiding thoughts and to manage the economy through them, without jumping to the other extreme and without rejecting economic work. This will not work, comrades; it will go to extremes.
The next question is about saboteurs, saboteurs and all other agents of the Trotskyist and non‐Trotskyist type, foreign states. I think that all the comrades understood and realized that this breed of people, no matter what flag it is masked, Trotskyist or Bukharin, we do not care, this breed of people has nothing to do with any political trend in the labor movement. This is a rabid gang of hired killers, saboteurs, spies, pests, etc., etc. This, I think, people have understood and realized. But I am afraid that in the speeches of some comrades the thought was slipping that: letʹs now beat right and left anyone who has ever walked along the same street with some Trotskyist or who has ever been in the same public canteen somewhere along I dined next door to the Trotskyist. Letʹs hit right and left now.
It wonʹt work, it wonʹt do. Among the former Trotskyists, we have wonderful people, you know this, good workers who accidentally fell into the hands of the Trotskyists, then broke up with them and work like real Bolsheviks who can be envied. One of these was Comrade Dzerzhinsky. (Voice from the seat. Who?) Comrade. Dzerzhinsky, you knew him. Therefore, when destroying the Trotskyist nests, you must look around, see around you, dear comrades, and strike with discernment, not nagging at people, not nagging at individual comrades who, I repeat, accidentally passed along the same street with the Trotskyist. This is the second question.
Third question. What does it mean to choose the right frames, what does it mean to choose the right frames? The Bolsheviks understand this matter as follows. Selecting cadres correctly means selecting an employee, firstly, according to his loyalty to the party, whether he deserves political trust and, secondly, on a business basis, that is, whether he is suitable for such work. This is an axiomatic proposition that is not worth explaining. We have violated this provision. Violations of this provision were discussed. I would like to demonstrate violations of this Bolshevik position with two examples and demonstrate with examples showing that people are sometimes selected not according to political and business principles, but from the point of view of personal acquaintance, personal devotion, friendly relations, in general, on the basis of a philistine character , on grounds that should not have a place in our practice. Take Comrade Mirzoyan. He works in Kazakhstan, he used to work in Azerbaijan for a long time, and after Azerbaijan he worked in the Urals. I warned him several times: do not drag your friends either from Azerbaijan or the Urals with you, but nominate people in Kazakhstan, do not isolate yourself from local people in Kazakhstan, because ‐ what does it mean to drag along a whole group of friends, friends from Azerbaijan, which are not fundamentally related to Kazakhstan? What does it mean to drag along a whole group of friends from the Urals, who are also not fundamentally connected with Kazakhstan? This means that you have gained some independence from local organizations and, if you like, some independence from the Central Committee. He has his own group, I have my own group, they are personally devoted to me. Here, look, the head of the ORPO of the South Kazakhstan regional committee is sitting with him Comrade Badabashyan, taken from Azerbaijan, Comrade Sahakyan, taken from Azerbaijan, is the secretary of the Kostanai regional committee; Comrade Sargsyan, taken from Azerbaijan, is sitting as the secretary of the Jata‐Gori regional committee; taken from Georgia. I am reading the certificate of the Central Committee apparatus.
The secretary of the Karsakpay regional committee sits with him. Comrade Shirazyan, taken from Azerbaijan, the head of the ORPO of the regional committee sits with him, Asriyan, taken from Baku, the chairman of the City Council in Alma‐Ata, the capital of the republic, sits with him. Comrade Saumov, also taken from Baku. Sarkisova is the secretary of the Stalin district committee of Alma‐Ata, Yusupov is the secretary of the city committee of Alma‐Ata ‐ all these are people from Baku. The secretary of the Karaganda regional committee is Pinkhasik, taken from Sverdlovsk, where he used to work. A certain Sverdlov, now the secretary of the East Kazakh Regional Committee, was also taken from Baku. First, he was dragged from Baku to the Urals, and then from the Urals ‐ here, to Kazakhstan. Kiselev is the secretary of the Alma‐Ata regional committee ‐ taken from the Urals. The chairman of the North‐Kazakh regional committee is Stepanov from the Azov‐Black Sea region. The secretary of the Chimkent regional committee is Kuliev, taken from Azerbaijan. Kamakidze is the deputy head of the Agricultural Department of the Kazkraykom. (Beria. A rather suspicious person.) He is suspected of active Trotskyism. In general, all these people are more or less suspected of the republics from which they were taken. (A voice from the seat. Kuliev was removed from the political department.) Deputy Peopleʹs Commissariat for Agriculture Rzayev is the former chairman of the AzGPU. (Voice from the place. They removed him from the GPU for failure to work). Also taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev Council of Peopleʹs Commissars in Kazakhstan Aliyev Teymur was taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev State Planning Committee Baranov ‐ taken from Azerbaijan. He was transferred by him to the Urals, and from there he took with him to Kazakhstan. (Mirzoyan. He was never with me.) We know Baranov. In general, all these people are more or less suspected of the republics from which they were taken. (A voice from the seat. Kuliev was removed from the political department.) Deputy Peopleʹs Commissariat for Agriculture Rzayev is the former chairman of the AzGPU. (Voice from the place. They removed him from the GPU for failure to work). Also taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev Council of Peopleʹs Commissars in Kazakhstan Aliyev Teymur was taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev State Planning Committee Baranov ‐ taken from Azerbaijan. He was transferred by him to the Urals, and from there he took with him to Kazakhstan. (Mirzoyan. He was never with me.) We know Baranov. In general, all these people are more or less suspected of the republics from which they were taken. (A voice from the seat. Kuliev was removed from the political department.) Deputy Peopleʹs Commissariat for Agriculture Rzayev is the former chairman of the AzGPU. (Voice from the place. They removed him from the GPU for failure to work). Also taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev Council of Peopleʹs Commissars in Kazakhstan Aliyev Teymur was taken from Azerbaijan. Deputy Prev State Planning Committee Baranov ‐ taken from Azerbaijan. He was transferred by him to the Urals, and from there he took with him to Kazakhstan. (Mirzoyan. He was never with me.) We know Baranov. State Planning Committee Baranov ‐ taken from Azerbaijan. He was transferred by him to the Urals, and from there he took with him to Kazakhstan. (Mirzoyan. He was never with me.) We know Baranov. State Planning Committee Baranov ‐ taken from Azerbaijan. He was transferred by him to the Urals, and from there he took with him to Kazakhstan. (Mirzoyan. He was never with me.) We know Baranov.
What does it look like? How can you select people like that! What does this lead to, what good can there be ‐ I ask you? After all, I warned comrade Mirzoyan that you cannot behave like that, that you have to select personnel from local people. And he, you see, created his own group of people who were personally loyal to him, selected people not on the basis of the Bolshevik principle, but among them there are Trotskyists. But he hopes that since they are loyal to him, they will work with him forever. What if he doesnʹt get there?
Another comrade, Vainov, like Mirzoyan, he took for himself people from other regions, especially from [...] 23 people. There are many more of them, because there are still many people in the Soviet apparatus. I took 9 people from Donbass: Zhuravlev, Weisberg, Krimer, Ivanov, Katz, Ponukalov, Yurlov, Alexandrov and Isaev. They took him from Donbass, he was transferred as a secretary to Yaroslavl, he gradually brought 9 people from Donbass to him ‐ he cannot work without them. And these people occupy the most important positions. Why did Vainov need it? What should be the attitude towards these people who came from outside, the attitude of local personnel? Of course, wary. What does it mean to take people to you, to form a group of personally loyal people from outside? This means expressing distrust of the local staff. What grounds do Mirzoyan or Vainov have to express distrust to local cadres ‐ let them tell us. These comrades are taking on too much and letting themselves down, and therefore letting the Party down too.
Itʹs not good to pick people like that. Here, too, Comrade Sergo ‐ he was one of the first with us, one of the best members of the Politburo, the head of the economy of the highest type, I would say, he also suffered from such a disease: he will become attached to someone, declare people personally loyal to him and rush about , contrary to warnings from the party, from the Central Committee. How much blood he had spoiled himself in order to clatter with Lominadze. How much blood he ruined for himself, he hoped that he could straighten Lominadze, but he cheated him, let him down at every step. How much blood he spoiled in order to defend against all such, as you can see now, scoundrels like Vardanyan, Gogoberidze, Meliksetov, Okudzhava ‐ is now revealed in the Urals. How much blood he spoiled for himself and how much blood he spoiled for us, and he made a mistake on this, because he suffered more than all of us and worried that these people, whom he most trusted and whom he considered personally loyal to himself, turned out to be the last scoundrels. The experience of a person, a leader of the highest type, shows that the method of personal selection of people is disastrous, especially the experience of people like Mirzoyan and Vainov, whom I cannot consider as leaders of the highest type, but I bring them to show this experience that these people let them down and let them down party. This method of selection is a nonBolshevik, I would say, anti‐Party method of selecting people, and the comrades must put an end to this method before it is too late. that these people let them down and let the party down. This method of selection is a non‐Bolshevik, I would say, anti‐Party method of selecting people, and the comrades must put an end to this method before it is too late. that these people let them down and let the party down. This method of selection is a non‐Bolshevik, I would say, anti‐Party method of selecting people, and the comrades must put an end to this method before it is too late.
Fourth question. What does verification of work, verification of performance mean? How should employees be checked whether an inspection is needed at all? Undoubtedly needed. Without checking people according to the results of their work, it is impossible to recognize a single employee, to recognize what he breathes and what he is. It is impossible, on the basis of speeches, declarations, verbal statements, to draw a conclusion about the nature, so to speak, of a given worker. It’s impossible, it’s dangerous, it’s naive. To recognize workers, they must be checked at work, according to the results of their work, day after day must be checked.
What kind of verification is there in general in our practice? There is a check from above, well, a top manager, having lower managers in his subordination, checks them, visits them, or invites them to his place, and generally checks according to the results of work. This is very good, this is great, but it is not enough. Even this rule is violated here and there. If a person is scheduled to work and put in, then they forget about him, do not ask, do not check, no help. Many of them ask for help, squeak, shout, send letters, telegrams, no answer, no greetings, they just put a person to work, which means they gave him the job at the mercy. This is a violation of an elementary rule of the Leninist principle of verifying performance.
So, this check happens from above, a check coming from above, when the boss checks his subordinates; there is a check from below, when the leaders are checked by the party masses or the non‐party masses. Party assets or non‐party assets. The people are checking themselves by way of elections. Here are the elections we are organizing to the supreme bodies of our country; these elections will be a great test for many of our workers. Means for verification from below are regular assets, party and non‐party, and reports of leaders, honest practical reports on their work. Many comrades left this business, being carried away by economic campaigns and imagining themselves [...] of the world. But they were mistaken, apparently, and got confused.
It is necessary to restore party assets and non‐party assets under the peopleʹs commissariats, under enterprises ‐ what we used to call a production meeting. It is difficult to assemble the entire plant, we have factories where 30–40 thousand people work, but we should select an asset from the best party and non‐party people and report to them and find out how they breathe, these assets, and what mistakes are noticed.
Here is one means of checking workers from below: party assets, nonparty assets, non‐party assets and accountability on these assets on the part of the leaders. And another means is the restoration of democratic centralism in our internal party life. This is also a test, comrades. Restoration, on the basis of the charter, the election of party bodies. Secret elections, the right to reject candidates without exception and the right to criticize. Hereʹs the second checker from the bottom. Both must be practiced.
Therefore, we have two ways to test workers: the way coming from above, from the boss to the subordinate, and the other way ‐ the way coming from below, control from below. Moreover, control from below has two forms: control through assets with accountability on the part of the leaders and control through the restoration of democratic elections in our party, when party members have the right to reject any candidate, criticize as much as they like, and make the leader accountable to the party masses.
Fifth question. What does it mean to educate cadres on their own mistakes? Lenin taught us that the best way to educate cadres, to develop and develop the reserves of a party or other organization, is to educate them on their own mistakes. What does it mean? This means helping cadres to reveal their mistakes in time; help every employee, every manager in time to reveal their mistakes, help them honestly admit these mistakes and help them correct their mistakes honestly and to the end, without fear that this can, as they say, make enemies.
There are few people or workers who are unpleasant, but you need to teach people, arm yourself with courage to listen to criticism, accustom yourself and on this give the workers the opportunity to go up and grow.
Some examples. You remember our mistakes in collective building in 1930, when we talked about the dizziness of success. The Party Central Committee has taken a firm line of ruthless criticism of our cadres. And then, after all, how the collective farms were created, there was a great competition between the regions, who will fulfill the highest percentage of collectivization. A group of propagandists came to the village, collected 500‐600 houses in the village, gathered a gathering and raised the question of who is for collectivization. And they made very transparent hints: if you are against collectivization, then you are against the Soviet regime. The peasants said: what are we, organize, we are for collectivization. After that telegrams flew to the Central Committee of the Party that collectivization was growing in our country, and the economy remained on the old rails. There were no collectives, there was only a vote for collectivization.
When we checked in the Moscow region, it turned out that 85% were collectivized in 1930. How much is effective in these percentages and how much is actual? It turned out that only 8% of collectivization instead of 85. So, you shake your head, but everyone had it. This disease was common, each area was infected with this disease to a greater or lesser extent.
The Central Committee struck at these mistakes. Our cadres have managed to turn this business around, and we have raised our cadres on this. If we had not revealed these mistakes, if the Central Committee began to fear that we would lose some cadres, that we would provoke discontent, if the Central Committee began to be afraid to pet someone the wrong way, if the Central Committee went against this trend, we would ruin the whole business and demoralize all our cadres. We would ruin the growth of agricultural personnel, the growth of collective farms. Now we have quite good leaders of the collective farm movement, by revealing their mistakes to the end, forcing them to admit these mistakes, and take a new path.
Another example is the Shakhty affair, we all would have miscalculated, what would have happened to us if we had not really undertaken, in a Bolshevik way, to give our cadres the opportunity to educate themselves on their mistakes — would have ruined the cause of industry. Many comrades were afraid that going against the current meant making enemies for themselves. The leadership of the Partyʹs Central Committee launched self‐criticism, merciless self‐criticism, and we won. They revealed their mistakes and trained their economic cadres on this. Since that time, we have had real, real economic cadres. Since then ‐ after the Shakhty affair ‐ ten years have passed, and we have grown up excellent Bolshevik cadres in technical leadership. These cadres would not exist, they would be demoralized, disorganized, if we succumbed even for a minute to the considerations that if we go against the current,
This is what it means to educate cadres on their own mistakes. This is what it means to have the courage to honestly admit your mistakes, analyze them and find ways to correct them. Only in such a situation do cadres grow and temper, so Lenin taught us, and these words of Lenin are justified several times in our eyes.
The sixth question is, what does it mean to spare cadres? And how can they be preserved and grown in general? Spare the staff. Many comrades think that if we soften the mistakes of some comrades, if we smear them and tell the truth about the mistakes of our comrades only half, we will spare the cadres and save them. Is it right or wrong? Anyone who thinks that glossing over the mistakes of our cadres means preserving them, sparing them, he is ruining cadres, for sure, he is ruining cadres. To mitigate the mistakes of our cadres, to gloss over them — this means not to spare the cadres, but to destroy them. Ruin.
I would like to put forward again a few facts from the field, so to speak, of the practical work of some of our very responsible leaders. This was with Comrade Sergo, whom I respect not less, but more than some comrades, but I must tell about his mistakes here in order to give us and you the opportunity to learn.
Take his relationship with Lominadze. Lominadze noticed quite serious mistakes on the party and state lines. Since 1926‐27‐28. Comrade Sergo knew more about these mistakes than any of us. He did not tell us about them, relying on himself, believing that he would be able to correct it himself, taking on too much in this matter. He had a rich correspondence with him ‐ Comrade Sergo with Lominadze. We subsequently only 8 or 9 years after these letters were written, we later learned in the Central Committee that they were anti‐Party in nature. Comrade Out of his kindness, Sergo did not tell us about this exclusively, it goes without saying that he hoped to correct him.
Since we did not know the real insides of Lominadze, angry, the Central Committee did not know, we began to nominate him to some posts in order to see what would come of him. It is very difficult to recognize a person. There is one remedy ‐ to take the risk of betting, give him maximum responsibility and see what comes of it. They took this risk and made him the secretary of the Transcaucasian Party Organization. If we knew about Sergoʹs correspondence, we would not have allowed this in any way, we would not have put on this post. But we didnʹt know. Put. It turned out later that the person was working not for the party, but against the party.
It was during this period that Comrade Sergo received one very bad, unpleasant and non‐partisan letter from Lominadze. He came to me and said: ʺI want to read you Lominadzeʹs letter.ʺ ‐ ʺWhat is it talking about?ʺ ‐ ʺBad.ʺ ‐ ʺLet me, Iʹll report to the Politburo, the Central Committee should know what kind of workers there are.ʺ ‐ ʺI canʹt.ʺ ‐ ʺWhy?ʺ ‐ “I gave him my word.” ‐ “How could you give him the floor, you are the chairman of the Central Committee, the keeper of party traditions, how could you give a person your word of honor that you will not show an anti‐party letter about the Central Committee and against the Central Committee to the Central Committee? And what, will you have with him, with Lominadze, secrets against the Central Committee? What is it like, Comrade Sergo, how could you go for this? ʺ ‐ ʺHere I cannot.ʺ He asked several times, begged to read. Well, apparently, morally he wanted to share with me the responsibility for the secrets that he had with Lominadze, without, of course, sharing his views, certainly against the Central Committee. Purely such a noble attitude to business, in my opinion, chivalrous, I would say. I tell him that I don’t want to be a participant in such a secret, I am still considered a member of the Central Committee. Give the letter, I will immediately send the members of the Politburo so that they know what kind of workers there are, I will report to the Central Committee, and so he said to Sergo: “You will ruin him, Lominadze.” “Why? Now, if you are on this little ‐ the letter is anti‐Party, but not such that one could be expelled from the party for it ‐ if you are on this little, tell about the letter to the members of the Central Committee, then on the big Lominadze they will be careful. If you hide this thing from the Central Committee and defend, Lominadze will continue to hope that it is possible to continue making some mistakes against the Central Committee, since there are people who can protect him, and Lominadze can repeat these mistakes, but then he may get caught on more, and if he gets caught on a larger one, we will smash him to smithereens, there will be no dust left from him. You are ruining him; you think that you are sparing him ‐ Lominadze. In a philistine, perhaps, it turns out that way, but in real, in a Bolshevik way, if you look at it, you are ruining him, because you do not pull him down in time. ʺ He says he has received such letters before. So, itʹs bad, you probably ruined him, you put him at risk of the Central Committee, because now he will be caught on more and he will not be spared.
And so, it happened. Got caught on more. Well, of course, no one experienced this tragedy as much as Sergo, because he personally trusted a person, and he deceived his personal trust. He demanded the execution of Lominadze. Such an extreme. He passed his defense to execution. We said: “No, we will not shoot him, we will not arrest him, we will not even be expelled from the party. We will simply withdraw him from the Central Committee. ʺ Here is an example for you, comrades, an example of a man, Comrade Sergo, through whose hands tens of thousands of people passed, who raised thousands of wonderful business executives and party members. Here, you see, this kind of thing happens when you cover up, hide the mistakes of a comrade and do not pull him back in time, but on the contrary, you cover up ‐ you ruin him, you probably ruin him.
So, what does it mean to spare cadres and keep them? This means, if they have mistakes, point them out in time, pull them up in time, without hiding, without glossing over. This is the only way to spare personnel, the only way to preserve them.
How should our cadres be trained and retrained in the spirit of Leninism? A short outline of this issue is set out in the draft resolution. I said something about this in my report, I could say a few words more specifically.
First of all, comrades, you must be able to strain yourself and prepare each of you two deputies first of all. Whether they are the current second secretaries or some other, more suitable, it depends, so to speak, on your sagacity and on your ability to recognize people. But deputies must be real deputies, full‐fledged ones, capable of replacing you, because if the plenum of the Central Committee adopts this point in the draft resolution, and he, apparently, accepts it, then it is clear that we will begin to carry out this matter.
We have 102 thousand cells in the party, 102 thousand primary party organizations. Hence, 102 thousand secretaries of the primary party organizations. We will recall them all to the courses in 4, in 5 months, we will recall them in 3, in 4 months ‐ this practice will show. But before they are withdrawn, they, these secretaries, must nominate two deputies for themselves. And so that they do not make mistakes in people, it is necessary that the corresponding district committees approve the lists of deputies. We must send 102,000 secretaries into training and retraining of a party‐political nature. These are our party non‐commissioned officers, a lot depends on them, I would say, ninetenths of our work depends on them.
We have over 3,500 district secretaries, city and non‐city. Each of them must definitely choose two full‐fledged deputies, capable of replacing them ‐ whether they will be the current second secretaries or not, I do not know, but we no longer want to tolerate the secretaries picking up runners and runners as their deputies. It wonʹt do. The Central Committee will demand that deputies be real, full‐fledged and capable of replacing district secretaries. We have about 3,500 secretaries. We will send all of them to study, retraining, courses, so‐called Leninist courses. We will work out the program of these courses, we will deal with this together with you, representatives of regions and republics. Centers will be identified where these courses will be organized. Of course, there is nothing so categorical in the draft resolution, it is possible to outline more centers,
We have several hundred city committees. After this plenum, obviously, the first secretary of the regional or regional committee, he should also be the first secretary of the city committee. It is clear that in order to raise the cityʹs work, it is necessary to assign direct and immediate responsibility to it. Well, there will be second secretaries, maybe two. We would like the first secretaries of city committees to select two full‐fledged deputies for themselves, in order to send them to courses on the history of the party.
We have over 100 regional committees, secretaries also sit there, as well as in national regions. We will also demand that each of the first secretaries try to nominate two deputies for himself, real, full‐fledged. We will approve them in the Central Committee, these deputies, so that later the first secretaries of regional committees, regional committees in the Central Committee of the national communist parties will deign to come to Moscow and arrange such meetings. We can give a certain interest to these meetings.
I said in my report, I repeat here, that we old men, members of the Politburo, will soon withdraw, leave the stage. This is the law of nature. And we would like us to have several shifts, and in order to organize the matter, we must now do it, dear comrades, first secretaries of regional committees, regional committees, Central Committee of national communist parties, and get involved in international and internal affairs properly, together with us.
Here are our ways by which it is necessary to organize a real Leninist training and retraining of our cadres: 102 thousand first secretaries of primary party organizations, 3,500 district secretaries, over 200 secretaries of city committees, over 100 secretaries of regional committees, regional committees and the Central Committee of the national communist parties. This is the leadership team that should be retrained and improved.
Next question. What does it mean not only to teach the masses, but also to learn from the masses? I, comrades, pose these questions because my impressions from the debate are such that there is a complete readiness to correct mistakes and there are opportunities, of course, if people want to, they will undoubtedly correct themselves. But there is no understanding of some specific issues in our practical policies and organizational policies. Therefore, I think it would be superfluous to talk about these issues in the final word.
What does Leninʹs thesis mean — not only to teach the masses, but also to learn from the masses? Lenin obliged us not to pretend to be people who have a vessel of all wisdom in their heads. It is not true, it is for us, the leaders, that things and events are visible from one side, and those who are guided look at the same things from the other side. What we see, maybe, ordinary members of the party do not see, not what they see, for the most part we do not see. And in order for us to recognize things properly, and what does it mean to recognize is to understand things from all sides, and for this it is necessary to combine the experience of leaders who look at things from above with the experience of ordinary party members who also live and gain experience and who look at things from below. The combination of these two experiences, it gives a real full knowledge of things, deeds and facts. This means not only teaching the masses, but also learning from the masses. Some of our comrades think that if he is the Peopleʹs Commissar, then he knows everything, they think that the rank in itself gives a very large, almost exhaustive knowledge, or they think: if I am a member of the Central Committee, therefore, it is no coincidence that I am a member of the Central Committee, therefore , I know everything. This is not true. Old people have to study until the day they die, not to mention the young. We are the leaders and they, the guided, must teach each other so that the study is full‐fledged, one hundred percent. And what does it mean not only to teach the masses, but also to learn from the masses? This means not for a moment weakening, not severing ties with the masses, with the party masses, with the working masses, with the peasant masses, with the people in general, not for a moment weakening or severing ties. It means listening to the voice of the masses, as they say, to the voice of the lower classes, or, as they say, to the voice of ordinary little people; learn to listen to the voice of little people,
To make this clear, I would like to share with you two examples that are relevant to our tutorial. That was three or four years ago or more, maybe five years ago. I have the case when, here in Moscow, the Central Committee and the leaders of the Peopleʹs Commissariat for Heavy Industry jointly worked out new guidelines for the Donbass on a new organization of wages, on a new organization of work and on checking performance. It was, I think, about five years ago.
Our situation was desperate, they demanded from the Donbass ‐ mobilize workers, there is not enough workers. We are mobilizing several hundred thousand workers, mobilizing 200 thousand. A week later, 200 thousand leave Donbass. People tell us: you are supplying us poorly, so coal mining is not going well. We answer to business executives: last year you mined so much, received such and such a supply, and now you received 20% more supply, we mobilized several hundred thousand people for you, but these people went somewhere, fell into a hole, and this is repeated from year to year. Some kind of Sisyphean work. We mobilize several hundred thousand people, 300 thousand people, and it turns out that the same number left the Donbass, we give better supplies ‐ it also does not help.
We suggested to the Peopleʹs Commissariat of Labor: letʹs have your project that gives a way out of this situation, because there is some kind of vicious circle ‐ the supply is better, we give new several hundred thousand people, 300 thousand people, and 300 thousand people leave, again we will mobilize 300 thousand. people ‐ and again they leave. The case is disorganized, the Donbass is turning into a courtyard. Three projects were presented at different times. Here Sergo took part, Iosif Kosior, leading workers of the Peopleʹs Commissariat. We, members of the Politburo, have come to the conclusion that these projects are not worth a damn thing. People have completely broken away from the practical needs of Donbass and cannot offer anything sensible, and decided to call ordinary people, grassroots workers, ordinary workers from Donbass. They summoned, asked ‐ whatʹs the matter, how to get out of the situation? We talked with them for three days, and so they suggested to us that solution, which we accepted, and which later turned the situation in Donbass for the better. It turns out that the further the worker is from the mine, the more salary he receives, the closer to the underground, the less salary he receives. It is clear that the best workers move farther from the mine, while the worst ones move closer to the mine. But bad workers cannot do any good. Overground workers themselves receive more salaries than underground workers. Who will go there from experienced initiative workers? Nobody will go, because he gets much more from the above groundwork. Both functional and impersonality were found here. All this was sanctioned and, most importantly, a concrete way out was given. What the workers told us, we formulated, read, they approved, and then put it into practice. This is what it means to listen to the voice of little people,
The second example is the example of Nikolayenko. They talked a lot about her, and there is nothing to smear. She turned out to be right ‐ the little man Nikolaenko, a woman. She squeaked, squeaked to all instances, no one paid attention to her, and when he did, they stuck her for it. Then the letter goes to the Central Committee. We checked. But what did she go through and what nooks she had to go through in order to get to the truth! You know that. But the fact is ‐ a small person, not a member of the Central Committee, not a member of the Politburo, not a Peopleʹs Commissar, and not even a secretary of a cell, but a simple person ‐ and she turned out to be right. And how many such people do we have, whose voices are muffled, muffled? Why was she beaten? For the fact that she does not give up like that, it interferes, worries. People reason like this: you were expelled, well, sit, be silent, while you are whole. No, she doesnʹt want to calm down, she pokes at one place, at another, at a third, ‐ well, that she had enough initiative, everyone beat her on the hands, and when, finally, she got to the point, it turned out that she was right, she helped you expose a number of people. That is what it means to listen to the head of the lower classes, to the voice of the masses.
The ancient Greeks in the system of their mythology had one famous hero who was considered invincible ‐ Antaeus. He was, as mythology tells us, the son of Poseidon, the god of the seas, and Gaia, the goddess of the Earth. He had a special affection for his mother, who gave birth to him and nursed him. There was no such hero whom he would not put on both shoulder blades, this Antaeus, according to the narrative of mythology. What was his strength? It consisted in the fact that when he had a hard time fighting the enemy, he touched the ground, to his mother, who gave birth to him and nursed him, and received new strength. The hero, who each time touching the ground, received new powers, he became invincible, but he was still defeated, Hercules defeated him. How? He tore him off the ground, lifted him into the air, and strangled him in the air, tore him away from his mother, who gave birth to and nurtured him.
I think that our Bolshevik leaders are like Antaeus, they should be like Antaeus. The Bolshevik leaders are Antaeus, their strength lies in the fact that they do not want to break ties, weaken ties with their mother, who gave birth to and nursed them ‐ with the masses, with the people, with the working class, with the peasantry, with little people. All of them are Bolsheviks ‐ the sons of the people, and they will be invincible only if they do not allow anyone to tear themselves off the ground and thereby lose the opportunity, touching the ground, to their mother ‐ to the masses, to receive new strength.
Only people who have understood that not only must we teach the masses, but also learn from them, only people who have understood that in no case for a single minute can one tear ourselves away from our mother, from the people, from the working class, from the masses, who gave birth to, nurtured and brought us into the world, only such Bolsheviks can be invincible, and only insofar as they carry out this covenant and this thesis of Lenin. Without this ‐ separation from the masses, without this ‐ bureaucratic ossification, without this ‐ death, without such a connection with our mother ‐ with the masses, with the working class that gave birth to us and promoted us, without such an indissoluble connection ‐ bureaucratic ‐ ossification, destruction. That is what Leninʹs principle means, not only to teach the masses, but also to learn from the masses.
Finally, the last question is about taking care of party members and their fate. I would not say that we care very much about the party members and their fate. In general, we have divorced people on a large scale who think in thousands and tens of thousands. To expel 10,000 party members is nonsense, this is nonsense. So, they think. We have 2 million party members and candidates, what does it mean to exclude 10 thousand, ballast, passivity, as they say in our country ‐ passive? (Voices from the field. Passive.) And what does this attitude towards an ordinary party member mean? This is help to wreckers, Trotskyists, the enemy in general. Because if we exclude people and allow them to be expelled indiscriminately, if we think in tens, and forget about the few, about individual party members, it is so clear that not all excluded will come to terms with their situation. This gives a clue to the Trotskyists, our enemies, gives them a reserve, gives them an army. The Trotskyists themselves have never represented a great force in our Party.
If you remember the last discussion, we had in 1927, the discussion was open, it was a referendum. A real referendum. 730 thousand out of 854 thousand party members took part in this referendum. This means that 123 thousand did not participate in the voting. Either because they were on shifts then, or because they were away or on vacation and so on. Of the 854,000 party members, 730,800 took part in the referendum. 724,000 spoke for the Bolsheviks against the Trotskyists. 4,000 spoke out for the Trotskyists. This is half a percent. Abstained 2600. I think that to those who voted for the Trotskyists, we must add those who abstained. It will be more than 6 thousand. I think that of those party members who, for various reasons, could not participate in this referendum, this means 121 thousand, 10 percent could be given to the Trotskyists. True, the balance of power among those who voted is such that 99.5% voted for the Bolsheviks and 0.5%, that is, half a percent, which means, for the Trotskyists. However, here among those who did not take part in the referendum, I would like to give the Trotskyists 10 percent, not half a percent, but 10 percent. This will amount to about 11 thousand, it seems, from 120 thousand.
Hereʹs to you: 4,000 voted for the Trotskyists, 2,600–6,600 abstained. Letʹs add 11,000–18,000 to them. Here are the Trotskyists. You can put 10 thousand for Zinovievites ‐ 28 thousand. Letʹs put more for objectivity, more than we should ‐ 28 thousand. And every other riffraff: right and others, letʹs put 30 thousand. Here are the cadres, the number is by no means exaggerated, people who stood for the antiparty trend, for the Trotskyists, for the Zinovievites. Many began to speak out for the Zinovievites, and then every little thing: the workersʹ opposition, the right, democratic centralism, etc. — 30,000 with 854,000 party members. Now we have 1.5 million party members, it seems, with candidates ‐ 2 million. Of these cadres of Trotskyists and Zinovievites, 18,000 have already been arrested. If you take 30 thousand, then 12 thousand remain. Many of them went over to the partyʹs side and went over pretty thoroughly. Part dropped out of the party, part remains, as if not very large forces. But first of all, in order to play a dirty trick and shit, it doesnʹt take a lot of energy. Secondly, this is not limited to the Trotskyist cadres within the USSR.
The fact that during this time we have excluded tens, hundreds of thousands of people, that we have shown a lot of inhumanity, bureaucratic heartlessness in relation to the fate of individual party members, that over the past two years there was a purge and then the exchange of party cards ‐ 300 thousand people were excluded ... So, since 1922 we have expelled one and a half million. The fact that at some factories, for example, if you take the Kolomna plant ... How many thousands of workers are there? (Voice from the place. Thirty thousand.) There are now 1,400 party members, and there are 2,000 former members and those who left this plant or expelled from this plant, at one plant. As you can see, there is such a balance of forces: 1,400 party members ‐ and 2,000 former members at the plant. Here, all these outrages that you allowed ‐ all this is water for the mill of our enemies. Do not console yourself with the fact that some 12 thousand, maybe of the old cadres, and that the Trotskyists are using the last cadres in order to do dirty tricks, whom we will soon shoot, do not console yourself. The soulless, inhuman policy towards the rank‐andfile members of the Party, the lack of any interest on the part of many of our leaders in the fate of individual Party members, this readiness to kick out thousands of people who turned out to be wonderful people when we checked them out, first‐class Stakhanovists, ready to make any sacrifices.
All this creates the situation in order to increase reserves for the enemies — for the Rights, for the Trotskyists, for the Zinovievites, and for anyone else. This soulless policy, comrades, must be done away with.
To demand from every member of the Party that he be a Marxist — after all, this is nonsense. We have the old, tried and tested formula for Party membership, given by Lenin, a formula that is justified by the entire history of our Party. A party member is one who recognizes the program, participates in one of the partyʹs organizations, and pays membership fees. To accept a program does not mean necessarily to be a conscious Marxist who read Marx. It takes years, if not decades, to become a conscious Marxist. Where, then, can a worker become a classconscious Marxist when he has no time? His position pushes him towards Marxism, he understands the program, more or less recognizes it, he is ready to fight the enemy for this program. Thatʹs all. But if he didn’t understand Marxism, if he didn’t study the foundations of Marxism ... (Voice from the spot. He didn’t get it.), He didn’t get it — this is idiocy. We allowed this idiocy at the party congress by including such comments in the party charter about who can be called active and who can be called passive. We cannot change the charter. We cannot at the plenum cancel the mistake that we made through an oversight, but we can in good conscience not apply this point, because it is against Marxism, against Leninism, against truth and against conscience.
If a person recognizes our program, well, accepts it as a basis, if he works in one of our party organizations, if he pays membership fees, since he can pay ‐ this is a full party member. It is impossible to demand from every member of the Party that he assimilated Marxism. I do not know how many members of the Central Committee have adopted
Marxism. (Cheerful animation in the hall).
How many secretaries of regional and regional committees have adopted Marxism? It takes a decade to master Marxism. How did Lenin assimilate Marxism? How did he read the works of Marx? He did not just read but worked. He compiled notes, once, twice, re‐read the third time, directed the movement. And so, he finally achieved that he mastered Marxism. You cannot demand this from every member of the Party. This is stupid.
And one more oversight or our error, I donʹt know anymore. If a common man is guilty, our people have no other measure than exception, as at one time we had in criminal practice ‐ either shoot or justify, as if there was no intermediate step. Letʹs say a party member could not attend the meeting once or twice. Well, you call him, warn him that you canʹt avoid party meetings. Well, if he still cannot be present, or if there was such a case that he could not pay membership fees, then you again warn him. Well, you can make an instruction, you can then put it on top of the view, you can then write down a reprimand to him and then you can give a term ‐ hereʹs a term for you ‐ during this time you will somehow improve. Or if he does not know the most elementary things about our party ideology, there is some alphabet, which a party member should study, well, give him a term, help him study. If it does not help, transfer to candidates, if this does not help, transfer to sympathizers. No, we donʹt want that. Either you are a party member or out of the party. This is not good, comrades, it is not good.
These are the questions that I wanted to talk about today. (Prolonged applause.)
Andreev. We pass to making a decision on Comrade Stalinʹs report. The draft, basically approved by the Politburo, was distributed to everyone. Are there any amendments or additions to the project? (Voices from the localities. No. Khatayevich. One editorial amendment. It says: ʺThe plenum obliges the secretaries of the regional committees to take on the duties of the secretary of the city committee.ʺ This is a little inconvenient, they must be elected. Stalin. It says that elections must be held. Take to take over the functions does not mean to become a secretary.) There is no need to accept your amendment, Comrade
Khatayevich, this is clear and true.
Are there any more amendments and additions? No. I Voice. Anyone in favor of approving the submitted draft resolution, please raise your hands. Who is against? Who abstained? No. Adopted unanimously. The agenda of the Plenum is over.
Stalin. You see, comrades, here elections along the party line based on the resolution adopted on the report of Comrade Zhdanov will have to be held by May 20, no doubt. We in the Politburo discussed the issue, our opinion is that we will have to discuss in the same detailed manner the question of our soviets also being reorganized in a new way, meaning the restoration of democratic centralism in soviets. The election is bad there. Not only party organizations have forgotten about the election of party bodies, but Soviet organizations have forgotten about this and incorrectly apply the principle of election — the deputies disappear somewhere, there are no lists, there are no reports. Meanwhile, if we only restructure the party organizations ‐ in the perspective of restructuring party organizations in a democratic way ‐ we will help them take an active part and lead the elections to the countryʹs supreme bodies. Moreover, you should rebuild our local councils in a general democratic way, all these RECs, executive committees, city councils, because how much democracy is there, as you think? (Voices from localities. Few. Molotov. Yes, yes). So, we have a common opinion that at the next plenum we raise the question of preparing the councils for the new conditions of elections in connection with the adoption of a new constitution ... (Voices from the localities. Thatʹs right!) ... with the invitation of the executive committee members and Soviet people in general. (Voice from the floor. About trade unions, too.) About trade unions and about the Komsomol, perhaps, we will have to discuss the issue there, not only about the trade unions, but also about the Komsomol, maybe we will have to combine these three issues. But the center will be the restructuring of the ranks of our workers in local councils, where there is very little democracy, where work has started. (Kaganovich. Right. Voices from the seats. Right.) If this is true,
Andreev. Are there any objections to this proposal of Comrade Stalin?
Voices from the field. No.
Stalin. The question of perestroika can be discussed only if the comrades in their party hold an elective beginning and share their experience with Soviet workers whom we will invite to the next plenum. Then there will be a democratic experience. (Kaganovich. You will be able to report back then.)
Andreev. Is Comrade Stalinʹs proposal accepted?
Voices from the field. Accepted
Andreev. I declare the meeting of the Plenum of the Central Committee closed.