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The Bolshevik Party in the Struggle for the Collectivization of Agriculture
(1930 - 1934)<"1">1. International Situation in 1930-34. Economic Crisis in the Capitalist Countries. Japanese Annexation of Manchuria. Fascists' Advent to Power in Germany. Two Seats of War
While in the U.S.S.R. important progress had been made in the Socialist industrialization of the country and industry was rapidly developing, in the capitalist countries a devastating world economic crisis of unprecedented dimensions had broken out at the end of 1929 and grew steadily more acute in the three following years. The industrial crisis was interwoven with an agrarian crisis, which made matters still worse for the capitalist countries.
In the three years of economic crisis (1930-33), industrial output in the U.S.A. had sunk to 65 per cent, in Great Britain to 86 per cent, in Germany to 66 per cent and in France to 77 per cent of the 1929 output. Yet in this same period industrial output in the U.S.S.R. more than doubled, amounting in 1933 to 201 per cent of the 1929 output.
This was but an additional proof of the superiority of the Socialist economic system over the capitalist economic system. It showed that the country of Socialism is the only country in the world which is exempt from economic crises.
The world economic crisis condemned 24,000,000 unemployed to starvation, poverty and misery. The agrarian crisis brought suffering to tens of millions of peasants.
The world economic crisis further aggravated the contradictions between the imperialist states, between the victor countries and the vanquished countries, between the imperialist states and the colonial and dependent countries, between the workers and the capitalists, between the peasants and the landlords.
In his report on behalf of the Central Committee to the Sixteenth Party Congress, Comrade Stalin pointed out that the bourgeoisie would seek a way out of the economic crisis, on the one hand, by crushing the working class through the establishment of fascist dictatorship, i.e., the dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinistic, most imperialistic capitalist elements, and, on the other hand, by fomenting war for the re-division of colonies and spheres of influence at the expense of the poorly defended countries.
That is just what happened.
In 1932 the war danger was aggravated by Japan. Perceiving that, owing to the economic crisis, the European powers and the U.S.A. were wholly engrossed in their domestic affairs, the Japanese imperialists decided to seize the opportunity and bring pressure to bear on poorly defended China, in an attempt to subjugate her and to lord it over the country. Unscrupulously exploiting "local incidents" they themselves had provoked, the Japanese imperialists, like robbers, without declaring war on China, marched their troops into Manchuria. The Japanese soldiery seized the whole of Manchuria, thereby preparing a convenient place d'armes for the conquest of North China and for an attack on the U.S.S.R. Japan withdrew from the League of Nations in order to leave her hands free, and began to arm at a feverish pace.
This impelled the U.S.A., Britain and France to strengthen their naval armaments in the Far East. It was obvious that Japan was out to subjugate China and to eject the European and American imperialist powers from that country. They replied by increasing their armaments.
But Japan was pursuing another purpose, too, namely, to seize the Soviet Far East. Naturally, the U.S.S.R. could not shut its eyes to this danger, and began intensively to strengthen the defences of its Far Eastern territory.
Thus, in the Far East, thanks to the Japanese fascist imperialists, there arose the first seat of war.
But it was not only in the Far East that the economic crisis aggravated the contradictions of capitalism. It aggravated them in Europe too. The prolonged crisis in industry and agriculture, the huge volume of unemployment, and the growing insecurity of the poorer classes fanned the discontent of the workers and peasants. The discontent of the working class grew into revolutionary disaffection. This was particularly the case in Germany, which was economically exhausted by the war, by the payment of reparations to the Anglo-French victors, and by the economic crisis, and the working class of which languished under a double yoke, that of the home and the foreign, the British and French, bourgeoisie. The extent of this discontent was clearly indicated by the six million votes cast for the German Communist Party at the last Reichstag elections, before the fascists came to power. The German bourgeoisie perceived that the bourgeois-democratic liberties preserved in Germany might play them an evil trick, that the working class might use these liberties to extend the revolutionary movement. They therefore decided that there was only one way of maintaining the power of the bourgeoisie in Germany, and that was to abolish the bourgeois liberties, to reduce the Reichstag to a cipher, and to establish a terrorist bourgeois-nationalist dictatorship, which would be able to suppress the working class and base itself on the petty-bourgeois masses who wanted to revenge Germany's defeat in the war. And so they called to power the fascist party – which in order to hoodwink the people calls itself the National-Socialist Party – well knowing that the fascist party, first, represents that section of the imperialist bourgeoisie which is the most reactionary and most hostile to the working class, and, secondly, that it is the most pronounced party of revenge, one capable of beguiling the millions of the nationalistically minded petty bourgeoisie. In this they were assisted by the traitors to the working class, the leaders of the German Social-Democratic Party, who paved the way for fascism by their policy of compromise.
These were the conditions which brought about the accession to power of the German fascists in 1933.
Analysing the events in Germany in his report to the Seventeenth Party Congress, Comrade Stalin said:
"The victory of fascism in Germany must be regarded not only as a symptom of the weakness of the working class and a result of the betrayals of the working class by the Social-Democratic Party, which paved the way for fascism; it must also be regarded as a symptom of the weakness of the bourgeoisie, of the fact that the bourgeoisie is already unable to rule by the old methods of parliamentarism and bourgeois democracy, and, as a consequence, is compelled in its home policy to resort to terroristic methods of rule...." (J. Stalin, Seventeenth Congress of the C.P.S.U., "Report on the Work of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.[B.]," p. 17.)
The German fascists inaugurated their home policy by setting fire to the Reichstag, brutally suppressing the working class, destroying its organizations, and abolishing the bourgeois-democratic liberties. They inaugurated their foreign policy by withdrawing from the League of Nations and openly preparing for a war for the forcible revision of the frontiers of the European states to the advantage of Germany.
Thus, in the centre of Europe, thanks to the German fascists, there arose a second seat of war.
Naturally, the U.S.S.R. could not shut its eyes to so serious a fact, and began to keep a sharp watch on the course of events in the West and to strengthen its defences on the Western frontiers.
<"2">2. From the Policy of Restricting the Kulak Elements to the Policy of Eliminating the Kulaks as a Class. Struggle Against Distortions of the Party Policy in the Collective-Farm Movement. Offensive Against the Capitalist Elements Along the Whole Line. Sixteenth Party Congress
The mass influx of the peasants into the collective farms in 1929 and 1930 was a result of the whole preceding work of the Party and the Government. The growth of Socialist industry, which had begun the mass production of tractors and machines for agriculture; the vigorous measures taken against the kulaks during the grain-purchasing campaigns of 1928 and 1929; the spread of agricultural co-operative societies, which gradually accustomed the peasants to collective farming; the good results obtained by the first collective farms and state farms – all this prepared the way for solid collectivization, when the peasants of entire villages, districts and regions joined the collective farms.
Solid collectivization was not just a peaceful process – the overwhelming bulk of the peasantry simply joining the collective farms – but was a struggle of the peasant masses against the kulaks. Solid collectivization meant that all the land in a village area in which a collective farm was formed passed into the hands of the collective farm; but a considerable portion of this land was held by the kulaks, and therefore the peasants would expropriate them, driving them from the land, dispossessing them of their cattle and machinery and demanding their arrest and eviction from the district by the Soviet authorities.
Solid collectivization therefore meant the elimination of the kulaks.
This was a policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.
By this time, the U.S.S.R. had a strong enough material base to allow it to put an end to the kulaks, break their resistance, eliminate them as a class and replace kulak farming by collective and state farming.
In 1927 the kulaks still produced over 600,000,000 poods of grain, of which about 130,000,000 poods were available for sale. In that year the collective and state farms had only 35,000,000 poods of grain available for sale. In 1929, thanks to the Bolshevik Party's firm policy of developing state farms and collective farms, and likewise to the progress made by Socialist industry in supplying the countryside with tractors and agricultural machinery, the collective farms and state farms had become an important factor. In that year the collective farms and state farms already produced no less than 400,000,000 poods of grain, of which over 130,000,000 poods were marketed. This was more than the kulaks had marketed in 1927. And in 1930 the collective farms and state farms were to produce, and actually did produce, over 400,000,000 poods of grain for the market, which was incomparably more than had been marketed by the kulaks in 1927.
Thus, thanks to the changed alignment of class forces in the economic life of the country, and the existence of the necessary material base for the replacement of the kulak grain output by that of the collective and state farms, the Bolshevik Party was able to proceed from the policy of restricting the kulaks to a new policy, the policy of eliminating them as a class, on the basis of solid collectivization.
Prior to 1929, the Soviet Government had pursued a policy of restricting the kulaks. It had imposed higher taxes on the kulak, and had required him to sell grain to the state at fixed prices; by the law on the renting of land it had to a certain extent restricted the amount of land he could use; by the law on the employment of hired labour on private farms it had limited the scope of his farm. But it had not yet pursued a policy of eliminating the kulaks, since the laws on the renting of land and the hiring of labour allowed them to carry on, while the prohibition of their expropriation gave them a certain guarantee in this respect. The effect of this policy was to arrest the growth of the kulak class, some sections of which, unable to withstand the pressure of these restrictions, were forced out of business and ruined. But this policy did not destroy the economic foundations of the kulaks as a class, nor did it tend to eliminate them. It was a policy of restricting the kulaks, not of eliminating them. This policy was essential up to a certain time, that is, as long as the collective farms and state farms were still weak and unable to replace the kulaks in the production of grain.
At the end of 1929, with the growth of the collective farms and state farms, the Soviet Government turned sharply from this policy to the policy of eliminating the kulaks, of destroying them as a class. It repealed the laws on the renting of land and the hiring of labour, thus, depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired labourers. It lifted the ban on the expropriation of the kulaks. It permitted the peasants to confiscate cattle, machines and other farm property from the kulaks for the benefit of the collective farms. The kulaks were expropriated. They were expropriated just as the capitalists had been expropriated in the sphere of industry in 1918, with this difference, however, that the kulaks' means of production did not pass into the hands of the state, but into the hands of the peasants united in the collective farms.
This was a profound revolution, a leap from an old qualitative state of society to a new qualitative state, equivalent in its consequences to the revolution of October 1917.
The distinguishing feature of this revolution is that it was accomplished from above, on the initiative of the state, and directly supported from below by the millions of peasants, who were fighting to throw off kulak bondage and to live in freedom in the collective farms.
This revolution, at one blow, solved three fundamental problems of Socialist construction:
a) It eliminated the most numerous class of exploiters in our country, the kulak class, the mainstay of capitalist restoration;
b) It transferred the most numerous labouring class in our country, the peasant class, from the path of individual farming, which breeds capitalism, to the path of co-operative, collective, Socialist farming;
c) It furnished the Soviet regime with a Socialist base in agriculture – the most extensive and vitally necessary, yet least developed, branch of national economy.
This destroyed the last mainsprings of the restoration of capitalism within the country and at the same time created new and decisive conditions for the building up of a Socialist economic system.
Explaining the reasons for the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, and summing up the results of the mass movement of the peasants for solid collectivization, Comrade Stalin wrote in 1929:
"The last hope of the capitalists of all countries, who are dreaming of restoring capitalism in the U.S.S.R. – 'the sacred principle of private property' – is collapsing and vanishing. The peasants, whom they regarded as material manuring the soil for capitalism, are abandoning en masse the lauded banner of ‘private property' and are taking to the path of collectivism, the path of Socialism. The last hope for the restoration of capitalism is crumbling." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "A Year of Great Change.")
The policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class was embodied in the historic resolution on "The Rate of Collectivization and State Measures to Assist the Development of Collective Farms" adopted by the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) on January 5, 1930. In this decision, full account was taken of the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R. and the varying degrees to which the regions were ripe for collectivization.
Different rates of collectivization were established, for which purpose the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) divided the regions of the U.S.S.R. into three groups.
The first group included the principal grain-growing areas: viz., the North Caucasus (the Kuban, Don and Terek), the Middle Volga and the Lower Volga, which were ripest for collectivization since they had the most tractors, the most state farms, and the most experience in fighting the kulaks, gained in past grain-purchasing campaigns. The Central Committee proposed that in this group of grain-growing areas collectivization should in the main be completed in the spring of 1931.
The second group of grain-growing areas, the Ukraine, the Central Black-Earth Region, Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan and others could complete collectivization in the main in the spring of 1932.
The other regions, territories and republics (Moscow Region, Transcaucasia, the republics of Central Asia, etc.) could extend the process of collectivization to the end of the Five-Year Plan, that is, to 1933.
In view of the growing speed of collectivization, the Central Committee of the Party considered it necessary to accelerate the construction of plants for the production of tractors, harvester combines, tractor-drawn machinery, etc. Simultaneously, the Central Committee demanded that "the tendency to underestimate the importance of horse traction at the present stage of the collective-farm movement, a tendency which was leading to the reckless disposal and sale of horses, be resolutely checked."
State loans to collective farms for the year 1929-30 were doubled (500,000,000 rubles) as compared with the original plan.
The expense of the surveying and demarcation of the lands of the collective farms was to be borne by the state.
The resolution contained the highly important direction that the chief form of the collective-farm movement at the given stage must be the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production are collectivized.
The Central Committee most seriously warned Party organizations "against any attempts whatsoever to force the collective-farm movement by ‘decrees' from above, which might involve the danger of the substitution of mock-collectivization for real Socialist emulation in the organization of collective farms." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part II, page 662.)
In this resolution the Central Committee made it clear how the Party's new policy in the countryside should be applied.
The policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class and of solid collectivization stimulated a powerful collective-farm movement. The peasants of whole villages and districts joined the collective farms, sweeping the kulaks from their path and freeing themselves from kulak bondage.
But with all the phenomenal progress of collectivization, certain faults on the part of Party workers, distortions of the Party policy in collective farm development, soon revealed themselves. Although the Central Committee had warned Party workers not to be carried away by the success of collectivization, many of them began to force the pace of collectivization artificially, without regard to the conditions of time and place, and heedless of the degree of readiness of the peasants to join the collective farms.
It was found that the voluntary principle of forming collective farms was being violated, and that in a number of districts the peasants were being forced into the collective farms under threat of being dispossessed, disfranchised, and so on.
In a number of districts, preparatory work and patient explanation of the underlying principles of the Party's policy with regard to collectivization were being replaced by bureaucratic decreeing from above, by exaggerated, fictitious figures regarding the formation of collective farms, by an artificial inflation of the percentage of collectivization.
Although the Central Committee had specified that the chief form of the collective-farm movement must be the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production are collectivized, in a number of places pigheaded attempts were made to skip the artel form and pass straight to the commune; dwellings, milch-cows, small livestock, poultry, etc., not exploited for the market, were collectivized.
Carried away by the initial success of collectivization, persons in authority in certain regions violated the Central Committee's explicit instructions regarding the pace and time limits of collectivization. In their zeal for inflated figures, the leadership of the Moscow Region gave the cue to their subordinates to complete collectivization by the spring of 1930, although they had no less than three years (till the end of 1932) for this purpose. Even grosser were the violations in Transcaucasia and Central Asia.
Taking advantage of these distortions of policy for their own provocative ends, the kulaks and their toadies would themselves propose that communes be formed instead of agricultural artels, and that dwellings, small livestock and poultry be collectivized forthwith. Furthermore, the kulaks instigated the peasants to slaughter their animals before entering the collective farms, arguing that "they will be taken away anyhow."
The class enemy calculated that the distortions and mistakes committed by the local organizations in the process of collectivization would incense the peasantry and provoke revolts against the Soviet Government.
As a result of the mistakes of Party organizations and the downright provocateur actions of the class enemy, in the latter half of February 1930, against the general background of the unquestionable success of collectivization, there were dangerous signs of serious discontent among the peasantry in a number of districts. Here and there, the kulaks and their agents even succeeded in inciting the peasants to outright anti-Soviet actions.
Having received a number of alarming signals of distortions of the Party line that might jeopardize collectivization, the Central Committee of the Party immediately proceeded to remedy the situation, to set the Party workers the task of rectifying the mistakes as quickly as possible. On March 2, 1930, by decision of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin's article, "Dizzy With Success," was published. This article was a warning to all who had been so carried away by the success of collectivization as to commit gross mistakes and depart from the Party line, to all who were trying to coerce the peasants to join the collective farms. The article laid the utmost emphasis on the principle that the formation of collective farms must be voluntary, and on the necessity of making allowances for the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R. when determining the pace and methods of collectivization. Comrade Stalin reiterated that the chief form of the collective-farm movement was the agricultural artel, in which only the principal means of production, chiefly those used in grain growing, are collectivized, while household land, dwellings, part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not collectivized.
Comrade Stalin's article was of the utmost political moment. It helped the Party organizations to rectify their mistakes and dealt a severe blow to the enemies of the Soviet Government who had been hoping to take advantage of the distortions of policy to set the peasants against the Soviet Government. The broad mass of the peasants now saw that the line of the Bolshevik Party had nothing in common with the pigheaded "Left" distortions of local authorities. The article set the minds of the peasants at rest.
In order to complete the work begun by Comrade Stalin's article in rectifying distortions and mistakes, the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) decided to strike another blow at them, and on March 5, 1930, published its resolution on "Measures to Combat the Distortions of the Party Line in the Collective-Farm Movement."
This resolution made a detailed analysis of the mistakes committed, showing that they were the result of a departure from the Leninist-Stalinist line of the Party, the result of a flagrant breach of Party instructions.
The Central Committee pointed out that these "Left" distortions were of direct service to the class enemy.
The Central Committee gave directions that "persons who are unable or unwilling earnestly to combat distortions of the Party line must be removed from their posts and replaced." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Part II, p. 663.)
The Central Committee changed the leadership of certain regional and territorial Party organizations (Moscow Region, Transcaucasia) which had committed political mistakes and proved incapable of rectifying them.
On April 3, 1930, Comrade Stalin's "Reply to Collective Farm Comrades" was published, in which he indicated the root cause of the mistakes in the peasant question and the major mistakes committed in the collective-farm movement, viz., an incorrect approach to the middle peasant, violation of the Leninist principle that the formation of collective farms must be voluntary, violation of the Leninist principle that allowance must be made for the diversity of conditions in the various districts of the U.S.S.R., and the attempts to skip the artel form and to pass straight to the commune.
The result of all these measures was that the Party secured the correction of the distortions of policy committed by local Party workers in a number of districts.
It required the utmost firmness on the part of the Central Committee and its ability to go against the current in order to promptly correct that considerable body of Party workers who, carried away by success, had been rapidly straying from the Party line.
The Party succeeded in correcting the distortions of the Party line in the collective-farm movement.
This made it possible to consolidate the success of the collective-farm movement.
It also made possible a new and powerful advance of the collective-farm movement.
Prior to the Party's adoption of the policy of eliminating the kulaks as a class, an energetic offensive against the capitalist elements with the object of eliminating them had been waged chiefly in the towns, on the industrial front. So far, the countryside, agriculture, had been lagging behind the towns, behind industry. Consequently, the offensive had not borne an all-round, complete and general character. But now that the backwardness of the countryside was becoming a thing of the past, now that the peasants' fight for the elimination of the kulak class had taken clear shape, and the Party had adopted the policy of eliminating the kulak class, the offensive against the capitalist elements assumed a general character, the partial offensive developed into an offensive along the whole front. By the time the Sixteenth Party Congress was convened, the general offensive against the capitalist elements was proceeding all along the line.
The Sixteenth Party Congress met on June 26, 1930. It was attended by 1,268 delegates with vote and 891 delegates with voice but no vote, representing 1,260,874 Party members and 711,609 candidate members.
The Sixteenth Party Congress is known in the annals of the Party as "the congress of the sweeping offensive of Socialism along the whole front, of the elimination of the kulaks as a class, and of the realization of solid collectivization." (Stalin.)
Presenting the political report of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin showed what big victories had been won by the Bolshevik Party in developing the Socialist offensive.
Socialist industrialization had progressed so far that the share of industry in the total production of the country now predominated over that of agriculture. In the fiscal year 1929-30, the share of industry already comprised no less than 53 per cent of the total production of the country, while the share of agriculture was about 47 per cent.
In the fiscal year 1926-27, at the time of the Fifteenth Party Congress, the total output of industry had been only 102.5 per cent of the pre-war output; in the year 1929-30, at the time of the Sixteenth Congress, it was already about 180 per cent.
Heavy industry – the production of means of production, machine-building – was steadily growing in power.
"...We are on the eve of the transformation of our country from an agrarian to an industrial country," declared Comrade Stalin at the congress, amidst hearty acclamation.
Still, the high rate of industrial development, Comrade Stalin explained, was not to be confused with the level of industrial development. Despite the unprecedented rate of development of Socialist industry, we were still far behind the advanced capitalist countries as regards the level of industrial development. This was so in the case of electric power, in spite of the phenomenal progress of electrification in the U.S.S.R. This was the case with metal. According to the plan, the output of pig-iron in the U.S.S.R. was to be 5,500,000 tons in the year 1929-30, when the output of pig-iron in Germany in 1929 was 13,400,000 tons, and in France 10,450,000 tons. In order to make good our technical and economic backwardness in the minimum of time, our rate of industrial development had to be further accelerated, and a most resolute fight waged against the opportunists who were striving to reduce the rate of development of Socialist industry.
"...People who talk about the necessity of reducing the rate of development of our industry are enemies of Socialism, agents of our class enemies," said Comrade Stalin. (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "Political Report of the Central Committee to the Sixteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.")
After the program of the first year of the First Five-Year Plan had been successfully fulfilled and surpassed, a slogan originated among the masses – "Fulfil the Five-Year Plan in Four Years." A number of branches of industry (oil, peat, general machine-building, agricultural machinery, electrical equipment) were carrying out their plans so successfully that their five-year-plans could be fulfilled in two and a half or three years. This proved that the slogan "The Five-Year Plan in Four Years" was quite feasible, and thus exposed the opportunism of the sceptics who doubted it.
The Sixteenth Congress instructed the Central Committee of the Party to "ensure that the spirited Bolshevik tempo of Socialist construction be maintained, and that the Five-Year Plan be actually fulfilled in four years."
By the time of the Sixteenth Party Congress, a momentous change had taken place in the development of agriculture in the U.S.S.R. The broad masses of the peasantry had turned towards Socialism. On May 1, 1930, collectivization in the principal grain-growing regions embraced 40-50 per cent of the peasant households (as against 2-3 per cent in the spring of 1928). The crop area of the collective farms reached 36,000,000 hectares.
Thus the increased program (30,000,000 hectares), laid down in the resolution of the Central Committee of January 5, 1930, was more than fulfilled. The five-year program of collective farm development had been fulfilled more than one and a half times in the space of two years.
In three years the amount of produce marketed by the collective farms had increased more than forty-fold. Already in 1930 more than half the marketed grain in the country came from the collective farms, quite apart from the grain produced by the state farms.
This meant that from now on the fortunes of agriculture would be decided not by the individual peasant farms, but by the collective and state farms.
While, before the mass influx of the peasantry into the collective farms, the Soviet power had leaned mainly on Socialist industry, now it began to lean also on the rapidly expanding Socialist sector of agriculture, the collective and state farms.
The collective farm peasantry, as the Sixteenth Party Congress stated in one of its resolutions, had become "a real and firm mainstay of the Soviet power."
<"3">3. Policy of Reconstructing All Branches of the National Economy. Importance of Technique. Further Spread of the Collective-Farm Movement. Political Departments of the Machine and Tractor Stations. Results of the Fulfilment of the Five-Year Plan in Four Years. Victory of Socialism Along the Whole Front. Seventeenth Party Congress
When heavy industry and especially the machine-building industry had been built up and placed securely on their feet, and it was moreover clear that they were developing at a fairly rapid pace, the next task that faced the Party was to reconstruct all branches of the national economy on modern, up-to-date lines. Modern technique, modern machinery had to be supplied to the fuel industry, the metallurgical industry, the light industries, the food industry, the timber industry, the armament industry, the transport system, and to agriculture. In view of the colossal increase in the demand for farm produce and manufactured goods, it was necessary to double and treble output in all branches of production. But this could not be done unless the factories and mills, the state farms and collective farms were adequately supplied with up-to-date equipment, since the requisite increase of output could not be secured with the old equipment.
Unless the major branches of the national economy were reconstructed, it would be impossible to satisfy the new and ever growing demands of the country and its economic system.
Without reconstruction, it would be impossible to complete the offensive of Socialism along the whole front, for the capitalist elements in town and country had to be fought and vanquished not only by a new organization of labour and property, but also by a new technique, by technical superiority.
Without reconstruction, it would be impossible to overtake and outstrip the technically and economically advanced capitalist countries, for although the U.S.S.R. had surpassed the capitalist countries in rate of industrial development, it still lagged a long way behind them in level of industrial development, in quantity of industrial output.
In order that we might catch up with them, every branch of production had to be equipped with new technique and reconstructed on the most up-to-date technical lines.
The question of technique had thus become of decisive importance.
The main impediment was not so much an insufficiency of modern machinery and machine-tools – for our machine-building industry was in a position to produce modern equipment – as the wrong attitude of our business executives to technique, their tendency to underrate the importance of technique in the period of reconstruction and to disdain it. In their opinion, technical matters were the affair of the "experts," something of second-rate importance, to be left in charge of the "bourgeois experts"; they considered that Communist business executives need not interfere in the technical side of production and should attend to something more important, namely, the "general" management of industry.
The bourgeois "experts" were therefore given a free hand in matters of production, while the Communist business executives reserved to themselves the function of "general" direction, the signing of papers.
It need scarcely be said that with such an attitude, "general" direction was bound to degenerate into a mere parody of direction, a sterile signing of papers, a futile fussing with papers.
It is clear that if Communist business executives had persisted in this disdainful attitude of technical matters, we would never have been able to overtake the advanced capitalist countries, let alone outstrip them. This attitude, especially in the reconstruction period, would have doomed our country to backwardness, and would have lowered our rates of development. As a matter of fact, this attitude to technical matters was a screen, a mask for the secret wish of a certain section of the Communist business executives to retard, to reduce the rate of industrial development, so as to be able to "take it easy" by shunting the responsibility for production on to the "experts."
It was necessary to get Communist business executives to turn their attention to technical matters, to acquire a taste for technique; they needed to be shown that it was vital for Bolshevik business executives to master modern technique, otherwise we would run the risk of condemning our country to backwardness and stagnation.
Unless this problem were solved further progress would be impossible.
Of utmost importance in this connection was the speech Comrade Stalin made at the First Conference of Industrial Managers in February 1931.
"It is sometimes asked," said Comrade Stalin, "whether it is not possible to slow down the tempo a bit, to put a check on the movement. No, comrades, it is not possible! The tempo must not be reduced!... To slacken the tempo would mean falling behind. And those who fall behind get beaten. But we do not want to be beaten. No, we refuse to be beaten! "Incidentally, the history of old Russia is one unbroken record of the beatings she suffered for falling behind, for her backwardness. She was beaten by the Mongol khans. She was beaten by the Turkish beys. She was beaten by the Swedish feudal lords. She was beaten by the Polish and Lithuanian gentry. She was beaten by the British and French capitalists. She
"We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or they crush us....
"In ten years at most we must make good the distance we are lagging behind the advanced capitalist countries. We have all the ‘objective' opportunities for this. The only thing lacking is the ability to make proper use of these opportunities. And that depends on us. Only on us! It is time we learned to use these opportunities. It is time to put an end to the rotten policy of non-interference in production. It is time to adopt a new policy, a policy adapted to the times the policy of interfering in everything. If you are a factory manager, then interfere in all the affairs of the factory, look into everything, let nothing escape you, learn and learn again. Bolsheviks must master technique. It is time Bolsheviks themselves became experts. In the period of reconstruction technique decides everything." (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II, "The Tasks of Business Managers." )
The historic importance of Comrade Stalin's speech lay in the fact that it put an end to the disdainful attitude of Communist business executives to technique, made them face the question of technique, opened a new phase in the struggle for the mastery of technique by the Bolsheviks themselves, and thereby helped to promote the work of economic reconstruction.
From then on technical knowledge ceased to be a monopoly of the bourgeois "experts," and became a matter of vital concern to the Bolshevik business executives themselves, while the word "expert" ceased to be a term of disparagement and became the honourable title of Bolsheviks who had mastered technique.
From then on there were bound to appear – and there actually did appear – thousands upon thousands, whole battalions of Red experts, who had mastered technique and were able to direct industries.
This was a new, Soviet technical intelligentsia, an intelligentsia of the working class and the peasantry, and they now constitute the main force in the management of our industries.
All this was bound to promote, and actually did promote, the work of economic reconstruction.
Reconstruction was not confined to industry and transport. It developed even more rapidly in agriculture. The reason is not far to seek: agriculture was less mechanized than other branches, and here the need for modern machinery was felt more acutely than elsewhere. And it was urgently essential to increase the supply of modern agricultural machines now that the number of collective farms was growing from month to month and week to week, and with it the demand for thousands upon thousands of tractors and other agricultural machines.
The year 1931 witnessed a further advance in the collective-farm movement. In the principal grain-growing districts over 80 per cent of the peasant farms had already amalgamated to form collective farms. Here, solid collectivization had in the main already been achieved. In the less important grain-growing districts and in the districts growing industrial crops about 50 per cent of the peasant farms had joined the collective farms. By now there were 500,000 collective farms and 4,000 state farms, which together cultivated two-thirds of the total crop area of the country, the individual peasants cultivating only one-third.
This was a tremendous victory for Socialism in the countryside.
But the progress of the collective-farm movement was so far to be measured in breadth rather than in depth: the collective farms were increasing in number and were spreading to district after district, but there was no commensurate improvement in the work of the collective farms or in the skill of their personnel. This was due to the fact that the growth of the leading cadres and trained personnel of the collective farms was not keeping pace with the numerical growth of the collective farms themselves. The consequence was that the work of the new collective farms was not always satisfactory, and the collective farms themselves were still weak. They were also held back by the shortage in the countryside of literate people indispensable to the collective farms (bookkeepers, stores managers, secretaries, etc.), and by the inexperience of the peasants in the management of large-scale collective enterprises. The collective farmers were the individual peasants of yesterday; they had experience in farming small plots of land, but none in managing big, collective farms. This experience could not be acquired in a day.
The first stages of collective farm work were consequently marred by serious defects. It was found that work was still badly organized in the collective farms; labour discipline was slack. In many collective farms the income was distributed not by the number of work-day-units, but by the number of mouths to feed in the family. It often happened that slackers got a bigger return than conscientious hard-working collective farmers. These defects in the management of collective farms lowered the incentive of their members. There were many cases of members absenting themselves from work even at the height of the season, leaving part of the crops unharvested until the winter snows, while the reaping was done so carelessly that large quantities of grain were lost. The absence of individual responsibility for machines and horses, and for work generally, weakened the collective farms and reduced their revenues.
The situation was particularly bad wherever former kulaks and their toadies had managed to worm their way into collective farms and to secure positions of trust in them. Not infrequently former kulaks would betake themselves to districts where they were unknown, and there make their way into the collective farms with the deliberate intention of sabotaging and doing mischief. Sometimes, owing to lack of vigilance on the part of Party workers and Soviet officials, kulaks managed to get into collective farms even in their own districts. What made it easier for former kulaks to penetrate into the collective farms was that they had radically changed their tactics. Formerly the kulaks had fought the collective farms openly, had savagely persecuted collective farm leading cadres and foremost collective farmers, nefariously murdering them, burning down their houses and barns. By these methods they had thought to intimidate the peasantry and to deter them from joining the collective farms. Now that their open struggle against the collective farms had failed, they changed their tactics. They laid aside their sawn-off shotguns and posed as innocent, unoffending folk who would not hurt a fly. They pretended to be loyal Soviet supporters. Once inside the collective farms they stealthily carried on their sabotage. They strove to disorganize the collective farms from within, to undermine labour discipline and to muddle the harvest accounts and the records of work performed. It was part of their sinister scheme to destroy the horses of the collective farms by deliberately infecting them with glanders, mange and other diseases, or disabling them by neglect or other methods, in which they were often successful. They did damage to tractors and farm machinery.
The kulaks were often able to deceive the collective farmers and commit sabotage with impunity because the collective farms were still weak and their personnel still inexperienced.
To put an end to the sabotage of the kulaks and to expedite the work of strengthening the collective farms, the latter had to be given urgent and effective assistance in men, advice and leadership.
This assistance was forthcoming from the Bolshevik Party. In January 1933, the Central Committee of the Party adopted a decision to organize political departments in the machine and tractor stations serving the collective farms. Some 17,000 Party members were sent into the countryside to work in these political departments and to aid the collective farms.
This assistance was highly effective.
In two years (1933 and 1934) the political departments of the machine and tractor stations did a great deal to build up an active body of collective farmers, to eliminate the defects in the work of the collective farms, to consolidate them, and to rid them of kulak enemies and wreckers.
The political departments performed their task with credit: they strengthened the collective farms both in regard to organization and efficiency, trained skilled personnel for them, improved their management and raised the political level of the collective farm members.
Of great importance in stimulating the collective farmers to strive for the strengthening of the collective farms was the First All-Union Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers (February 1933) and the speech made by Comrade Stalin at this congress.
Contrasting the old, pre-collective farm system in the countryside with the new, collective farm system, Comrade Stalin said:
"Under the old system the peasants each worked in isolation, following the ancient methods of their forefathers and using antiquated implements of labour; they worked for the landlords and capitalists, the kulaks and profiteers; they lived in penury while they enriched others. Under the new, collective farm system, the peasants work in common, co-operatively, with the help of modern implements – tractors and agricultural machinery; they work for themselves and their collective farms; they live without capitalists and landlords, without kulaks and profiteers; they work with the object of raising their standard of welfare and culture from day to day." (Stalin, Problems of Leninism, Russ. ed., p. 528.)
Comrade Stalin showed in this speech what the peasants had achieved by adopting the collective farm way. The Bolshevik Party had helped millions of poor peasants to join the collective farms and to escape from servitude to the kulaks. By joining the collective farms, and having the best lands and the finest instruments of production at their disposal, millions of poor peasants who had formerly lived in penury had now as collective farmers risen to the level of middle peasants, and had attained material security.
This was the first step in the development of collective farms, the first achievement.
The next step, Comrade Stalin said, was to raise the collective farmers – both former poor peasants and former middle peasants – to an even higher level, to make all the collective farmers prosperous and all the collective farms Bolshevik.
"Only one thing is now needed for the collective farmers to become prosperous," Comrade Stalin said, "and that is for them to work in the collective farms conscientiously, to make efficient use of the tractors and machines, to make efficient use of the draught cattle, to cultivate the land efficiently, and to cherish collective farm property." (Ibid., pp. 532-3.)
Comrade Stalin's speech made a profound impression on the millions of collective farmers and became a practical program of action for the collective farms.
By the end of 1934 the collective farms had become a strong and invincible force. They already embraced about three-quarters of all the peasant households in the Soviet Union and about 90 per cent of the total crop area.
In 1934 there were already 281,000 tractors and 32,000 harvester combines at work in the Soviet countryside. The spring sowing in that year was completed fifteen to twenty days earlier than in 1933, and thirty to forty days earlier than in 1932, while the plan of grain deliveries to the state was fulfilled three months earlier than in 1932.
This showed how firmly established the collective farms had become in two years, thanks to the tremendous assistance given them by the Party and the workers' and peasants' state.
This solid victory of the collective farm system and the attendant improvement of agriculture enabled the Soviet Government to abolish the rationing of bread and all other products and to introduce the unrestricted sale of foodstuffs.
Since the political departments of the machine and tractor stations had served the purpose for which they had been temporarily created, the Central Committee decided to convert them into ordinary Party bodies by merging them with the district Party Committees in their localities.
All these achievements, both in agriculture and in industry, were made possible by the successful fulfilment of the Five-Year Plan.
By the beginning of 1933 it was evident that the First Five-Year Plan had already been fulfilled ahead of time, fulfilled in four years and three months.
This was a tremendous, epoch-making victory of the working class and peasantry of the U.S.S.R.
Reporting to a plenary meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission of the Party, held in January 1933, Comrade Stalin reviewed the results of the First Five-Year Plan. The report made it clear that in the period which it took to fulfil the First Five-Year Plan, the Party and the Soviet Government had achieved the following major results.
a) The U.S.S.R. had been converted from an agrarian country into an industrial country, for the proportion of industrial output to the total production of the country had risen to 70 per cent.
b) The Socialist economic system had eliminated the capitalist elements in the sphere of industry and had become the sole economic system in industry.
c) The Socialist economic system had eliminated the kulaks as a class in the sphere of agriculture, and had become the predominant force in agriculture.
d) The collective farm system had put an end to poverty and want in the countryside, and tens of millions of poor peasants had risen to a level of material security.
e) The Socialist system in industry had abolished unemployment, and while retaining the 8-hour day in a number of branches, had introduced the 7-hour day in the vast majority of enterprises and the 6-hour day in unhealthy occupations.
f) The victory of Socialism in all branches of the national economy had abolished the exploitation of man by man.
The sum and substance of the achievements of the First Five-Year Plan was that they had completely emancipated the workers and peasants from exploitation and had opened the way to a prosperous and cultured life for ALL working people in the U.S.S.R.
In January 1934 the Party held its Seventeenth Congress. It was attended by 1,225 delegates with vote and 736 delegates with voice but no vote, representing 1,874,488 Party members and 935,298 candidate members.
The congress reviewed the work of the Party since the last congress. It noted the decisive results achieved by Socialism in all branches of economic and cultural life and placed on record that the general line of the Party had triumphed along the whole front.
The Seventeenth Party Congress is known in history as the "Congress of Victors."
Reporting on the work of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin pointed to the fundamental changes that had taken place in the U.S.S.R. during the period under review.
"During this period, the U.S.S.R. has become radically transformed and has cast off the integument of backwardness and mediaevalism. From an agrarian country it has become an industrial country. From a country of small individual agriculture it has become a country of collective, large-scale mechanized agriculture. From an ignorant, illiterate and uncultured country it has become – or rather it is becoming – a literate and cultured country covered by a vast network of higher, intermediate and elementary schools teaching in the languages of the nationalities of the U.S.S.R. (Stalin, Seventeenth Congress of the C.P.S.U., "Report on the Work of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.)," p. 30.)
By this time 99 per cent of the industry of the country was Socialist industry. Socialist agriculture – the collective farms and state farms – embraced about 90 per cent of the total crop area of the country. As to trade, the capitalist elements had been completely ousted from this domain.
When the New Economic Policy was being introduced, Lenin said that there were the elements of five social-economic formations in our country. The first was patriarchal economy, which was largely a natural form of economy, i.e., which practically carried on no trade. The second formation was small commodity production, as represented by the majority of the peasant farms, those which sold agricultural produce, and by the artisans. In the first years of NEP this economic formation embraced the majority of the population. The third formation was private capitalism, which had begun to revive in the early period of NEP. The fourth formation was state capitalism, chiefly in the form of concessions, which had not developed to any considerable extent. The fifth formation was Socialism: Socialist industry, which was still weak, state farms and collective farms, which were economically insignificant at the beginning of NEP, state trade and co-operative societies, which were also weak at that time.
Of all these formations, Lenin said, the Socialist formation must gain the upper hand.
The New Economic Policy was designed to bring about the complete victory of Socialist forms of economy.
And by the time of the Seventeenth Party Congress this aim had already been achieved.
"We can now say," said Comrade Stalin, "that the first, the third and the fourth social-economic formations no longer exist; the second social-economic formation has been forced into a secondary position, while the fifth social-economic formation – the Socialist formation – now holds unchallenged sway and is the sole commanding force in the whole national economy." (Ibid., p. 33.)
An important place in Comrade Stalin's report was given to the question of ideological-political leadership. He warned the Party that although its enemies, the opportunists and nationalist deviators of all shades and complexions, had been defeated, remnants of their ideology still lingered in the minds of some Party members and often asserted themselves. The survivals of capitalism in economic life and particularly in the minds of men provided a favourable soil for the revival of the ideology of the defeated anti-Leninist groups. The development of people's mentality does not keep pace with their economic position. As a consequence, survivals of bourgeois ideas still remained in men's minds and would continue to do so even though capitalism had been abolished in economic life. It should also be borne in mind that the surrounding capitalist world, against which we had to keep our powder dry, was working to revive and foster these survivals.
Comrade Stalin also dwelt on the survivals of capitalism in men's minds on the national question, where they were particularly tenacious. The Bolshevik Party was fighting on two fronts, both against the deviation to Great-Russian chauvinism and against the deviation to local nationalism. In a number of republics (the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and others) the Party organizations had relaxed the struggle against local nationalism, and had allowed it to grow to such an extent that it had allied itself with hostile forces, the forces of intervention, and had become a danger to the state. In reply to the question, which deviation in the national question was the major danger, Comrade Stalin said:
"The major danger is the deviation against which we have ceased to fight, thereby allowing it to grow into a danger to the state." (Ibid., p. 81.)
Comrade Stalin called upon the Party to be more active in ideological-political work, systematically to expose the ideology and the remnants of the ideology of the hostile classes and of the trends hostile to Leninism.
He further pointed out in his report that the adoption of correct decisions does not in itself guarantee the success of a measure. In order to guarantee success, it was necessary to put the right people in the right place, people able to give effect to the decisions of the leading organs and to keep a check on the fulfilment of decisions. Without these organizational measures there was a risk of decisions remaining scraps of paper, divorced from practical life. Comrade Stalin referred in support of this to Lenin's famous maximum that the chief thing in organizational work was the choice of personnel and the keeping of a check on the fulfilment of decisions. Comrade Stalin said that the disparity between adopted decisions and the organizational work of putting these decisions into effect and of keeping a check on their fulfilment was the chief evil in our practical work.
In order to keep a better check on the fulfilment of Party and Government decisions, the Seventeenth Party Congress set up a Party Control Commission under the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) and a Soviet Control Commission under the Council of People's Commissars of the U.S.S.R. in place of the combined Central Control Commission and Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, this body having completed the tasks for which it had been set up by the Twelfth Party Congress.
Comrade Stalin formulated the organizational tasks of the Party in the new stage as follows:
1) Our organizational work must be adapted to the requirements of the political line of the Party;
2) Organizational leadership must be raised to the level of political leadership.
3) Organizational leadership must be made fully equal to the task of ensuring the realization of the political slogans and decisions of the Party.
In conclusion, Comrade Stalin warned the Party that although Socialism had achieved great successes, successes of which we could be justly proud, we must not allow ourselves to be carried away, to get "swelled head," to be lulled by success.
"...We must not lull the Party, but sharpen its vigilance; we must not lull it to sleep, but keep it ready for action; not disarm it, but arm it; not demobilize it, but hold it in a state of mobilization for the fulfilment of the Second Five-Year Plan," said Comrade Stalin. (Ibid., p. 96.)
The Seventeenth Congress heard reports from Comrades Molotov and Kuibyshev on the Second Five-Year Plan for the development of the national economy. The program of the Second Five-Year Plan was even vaster than that of the First Five-Year Plan. By the end of the Second Five-Year Plan period, in 1937, industrial output was to be increased approximately eightfold in comparison with pre-war. Capital development investments in all branches in the period of the Second Five-Year Plan were to amount to 133,000,000,000 rubles, as against a little over 64,000,000,000 rubles in the period of the First Five-Year Plan.
This immense scope of new capital construction work would ensure the complete technical re-equipment of all branches of the national economy.
The Second Five-Year Plan was to complete in the main the mechanization of agriculture. Aggregate tractor power was to increase from 2,250,000 hp. in 1932 to over 8,000,000 hp. in 1937. The plan provided for the extensive employment of scientific agricultural methods (correct crop rotation, use of selected seed, autumn ploughing, etc.).
A tremendous plan for the technical reconstruction of the means of transport and communication was outlined.
The Second Five-Year Plan contained an extensive program for the further improvement of the material and cultural standards of the workers and peasants.
The Seventeenth Congress paid great attention to matters of organization and adopted decisions on the work of the Party and the Soviets in connection with a report made by Comrade Kaganovich. The question of organization had acquired even greater importance now that the general line of the Party had won and the Party policy had been tried and tested by the experience of millions of workers and peasants. The new and complex tasks of the Second Five-Year Plan called for a higher standard of work in all spheres.
"The major tasks of the Second Five-Year Plan, viz., to completely eliminate the capitalist elements, to overcome the survivals of capitalism in economic life and in the minds of men, to complete the reconstruction of the whole national economy on modern technical lines, to learn to use the new technical equipment and the new enterprises, to mechanize agriculture and increase its productivity – insistently and urgently confront us with the problem of improving work in all spheres, first and foremost in practical organizational leadership," it was stated in the decisions of the congress on organizational questions. (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part II, p. 591.)
The Seventeenth Congress adopted new Party Rules, which differ from the old ones firstly by the addition of a preamble. This preamble gives a brief definition of the Communist Party, and a definition of its role in the struggle of the proletariat and its place in the organism of the dictatorship of the proletariat. The new rules enumerate in detail the duties of Party members. Stricter regulations governing the admission of new members and a clause concerning sympathizers' groups were introduced. The new rules give a more detailed exposition of the organizational structure of the Party, and formulate anew the clauses dealing with the Party nuclei, or primary organizations, as they have been called since the Seventeenth Party Congress. The clauses dealing with inner-Party democracy and Party discipline were also formulated anew.
<"4">4. Degeneration of the Bukharinites into Political Double-Dealers. Degeneration of the Trotskyite Double-Dealers into a Whiteguard Gang of Assassins and Spies. Foul Murder of S. M. Kirov. Measures of the Party to Heighten Bolshevik Vigilance
The achievements of Socialism in our country were a cause of rejoicing not only to the Party, and not only to the workers and collective farmers, but also to our Soviet intelligentsia, and to all honest citizens of the Soviet Union.
But they were no cause of rejoicing to the remnants of the defeated exploiting classes; on the contrary, they only enraged them the more as time went on.
They infuriated the lickspittles of the defeated classes – the puny remnants of the following of Bukharin and Trotsky.
These gentry were guided in their evaluation of the achievements of the workers and collective farmers not by the interests of the people, who applauded every such achievement, but by the interests of their own wretched and putrid faction, which had lost all contact with the realities of life. Since the achievements of Socialism in our country meant the victory of the policy of the Party and the utter bankruptcy of their own policy, these gentry, instead of admitting the obvious facts and joining the common cause, began to revenge themselves on the Party and the people for their own failure, for their own bankruptcy; they began to resort to foul play and sabotage against the cause of the workers and collective farmers, to blow up pits, set fire to factories, and commit acts of wrecking in collective and state farms, with the object of undoing the achievements of the workers and collective farmers and evoking popular discontent against the Soviet Government. And in order, while doing so, to shield their puny group from exposure and destruction, they simulated loyalty to the Party, fawned upon it, eulogized it, cringed before it more and more, while in reality continuing their underhand, subversive activities against the workers and peasants.
At the Seventeenth Party Congress, Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky made repentant speeches, praising the Party and extolling its achievements to the skies. But the congress detected a ring of insincerity and duplicity in their speeches; for what the Party expects from its members is not eulogies and rhapsodies over its achievements, but conscientious work on the Socialist front. And this was what the Bukharinites had showed no signs of for a long time. The Party saw that the hollow speeches of these gentry were in reality meant for their supporters outside the congress, to serve as a lesson to them in duplicity, and a call to them not to laydowntheirarms.
Speeches were also made at the Seventeenth Congress by the Trotskyites Zinoviev and Kamenev, who lashed themselves extravagantly for their mistakes, and eulogized the Party no less extravagantly for its achievements. But the congress could not help seeing that both their nauseating self-castigation and their fulsome praise of the Party were only meant to hide an uneasy and unclean conscience. However, the Party did not yet know or suspect that while these gentry were making their cloying speeches at the congress they were hatching a villainous plot against the life of S. M. Kirov.
On December 1, 1934, S. M. Kirov was foully murdered in the Smolny, in Leningrad, by a shot from a revolver.
The assassin was caught red-handed and turned out to be a member of a secret counter-revolutionary group made up of members of an anti-Soviet group of Zinovievites in Leningrad.
S. M. Kirov was loved by the Party and the working class, and his murder stirred the people profoundly, sending a wave of wrath and deep sorrow through the country.
The investigation established that in 1933 and 1934 an underground counter-revolutionary terrorist group had been formed in Leningrad consisting of former members of the Zinoviev opposition and headed by a so-called "Leningrad Centre." The purpose of this group was to murder leaders of the Communist Party. S. M. Kirov was chosen as the first victim. The testimony of the members of this counter-revolutionary group showed that they were connected with representatives of foreign capitalist states and were receiving funds from them.
The exposed members of this organization were sentenced by the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. to the supreme penalty – to be shot.
Soon afterwards the existence of an underground counter-revolutionary organization called the "Moscow Centre" was discovered. The preliminary investigation and the trial revealed the villainous part played by Zinoviev, Kamenev, Yevdokimov and other leaders of this organization in cultivating the terrorist mentality among their followers, and in plotting the murder of members of the Party Central Committee and of the Soviet Government.
To such depths of duplicity and villainy had these people sunk that Zinoviev, who was one of the organizers and instigators of the assassination of S. M. Kirov, and who had urged the murderer to hasten the crime, wrote an obituary of Kirov speaking of him in terms of eulogy, and demanded that it be published.
The Zinovievites simulated remorse in court; but they persisted in their duplicity even in the dock. They concealed their connection with Trotsky. They concealed the fact that together with the Trotskyites they had sold themselves to fascist espionage services. They concealed their spying and wrecking activities. They concealed from the court their connections with the Bukharinites, and the existence of a united Trotsky-Bukharin gang of fascist hirelings.
As it later transpired, the murder of Comrade Kirov was the work of this united Trotsky-Bukharin gang.
Even then, in 1935, it had become clear that the Zinoviev group was a camouflaged Whiteguard organization whose members fully deserved to be treated as Whiteguards.
A year later it became known that the actual, real and direct organizers of the murder of Kirov were Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and their accomplices, and that they had also made preparations for the assassination of other members of the Central Committee. Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bakayev, Yevdokimov, Pikel, I. N. Smirnov, Mrachkovsky, Ter-Vaganyan, Reingold and others were committed for trial. Confronted by direct evidence, they had to admit publicly, in open court, that they had not only organized the assassination of Kirov, but had been planning to murder all the other leaders of the Party and the Government. Later investigation established the fact that these villains had been engaged in espionage and in organizing acts of diversion. The full extent of the monstrous moral and political depravity of these men, their despicable villainy and treachery, concealed by hypocritical professions of loyalty to the Party, were revealed at a trial in Moscow, 1936.
The chief instigator and ringleader of this gang of assassins and spies was Judas Trotsky. Trotsky's assistants and agents in carrying out his counter-revolutionary instructions were Zinoviev, Kamenev and their Trotskyite underlings. They were preparing to bring about the defeat of the U.S.S.R. in the event of attack by imperialist countries; they had become defeatists with regard to the workers' and peasants' state; they had become despicable tools and agents of the German and Japanese fascists.
The main lesson which the Party organizations had to draw from the trials of the persons implicated in the foul murder of S. M. Kirov was that they must put an end to their own political blindness and political heedlessness, and must increase their vigilance and the vigilance of all Party members.
In a circular letter to Party organizations on the subject of the foul murder of S. M. Kirov, the Central Committee of the Party stated:
"a) We must put an end to the opportunist complacency engendered by the enormous assumption that as we grow stronger the enemy will become tamer and more inoffensive. This assumption is an utter fallacy. It is a recrudescence of the Right deviation, which assured all and sundry that our enemies would little by little creep into Socialism and in the end become real Socialists. The Bolsheviks have no business to rest on their laurels; they have no business to sleep at their posts. What we need is not complacency, but vigilance, real Bolshevik revolutionary vigilance. It should be remembered that the more hopeless the position of the enemies, the more eagerly will they dutch at ‘extreme measures' as the only recourse of the doomed in their struggle against the Soviet power. We must remember this, and be vigilant.
"b) We must properly organize the teaching of the history of the Party to Party members, the study of all and sundry anti-Party groups in the history of our Party, their methods of combating the Party line, their tactics and – still more the tactics and methods of our Party in combating anti-Party groups, the tactics and methods which have enabled our Party to vanquish and demolish these groups. Party members should not only know how the Party combated and vanquished the Constitutional-Democrats, Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Anarchists, but also how it combated and vanquished the Trotskyites, the ‘Democratic-Centralists,' the ‘Workers' Opposition,' the Zinovievites, the Right deviators, the Right-Leftist freaks and the like. It should never be forgotten that a knowledge and understanding of the history of our Party is a most important and essential means of fully ensuring the revolutionary vigilance of the Party members."
Of enormous importance in this period was the purge of the Party ranks from adventitious and alien elements, begun in 1933, and especially the careful verification of the records of Party members and the exchange of old Party cards for new ones undertaken after the foul murder of S. M. Kirov.
Prior to the verification of the records of Party members, irresponsibility and negligence in the handling of Party cards had prevailed in many Party organizations. In a number of the organizations utterly intolerable chaos in the registration of Communists was revealed, a state of affairs which enemies had been turning to their nefarious ends, using the possession of a Party card as a screen for espionage, wrecking, etc. Many leaders of Party organizations had entrusted the enrolment of new members and the issuance of Party cards to persons in minor positions, and often even to Party members of untested reliability.
In a circular letter to all organizations dated May 13, 1935, on the subject of the registration, safekeeping and issuance of Party cards, the Central Committee instructed all organizations to make a careful verification of the records of Party members and "to establish Bolshevik order in our own Party home."
The verification of the records of Party members was of great political value. In connection with the report of Comrade Yezhov, Secretary of the Central Committee, on the results of the verification of the records of Party members, a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Party adopted a resolution on December 25, 1935, declaring that this verification was an organizational and political measure of enormous importance in strengthening the ranks of the C.P.S.U.(B.)
After the verification of the records of Party members and the exchange of Party cards, the admission of new members into the Party was resumed. In this connection the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.) demanded that new members should not be admitted into the Party wholesale, but on the basis of a strictly individual enrolment of "people really advanced and really devoted to the cause of the working class, the finest people of our country, drawn above all from among the workers, and also from among peasants and active intelligentsia, who had been tried and tested in various sectors of the struggle for Socialism."
In resuming the admission of new members to the Party, the Central Committee instructed Party organizations to bear in mind that hostile elements would persist in their attempts to worm their way into the ranks of the C.P.S.U.(B.). Consequently:
"It is the task of every Party organization to increase Bolshevik vigilance to the utmost, to hold aloft the banner of the Leninist Party, and to safeguard the ranks of the Party from the penetration of alien, hostile and adventitious elements." (Resolution of the Central Committee of the C.P.S.U.[B.], September 29, 1936, published in Pravda No. 270, 1936.)
Purging and consolidating its ranks, destroying the enemies of the Party and relentlessly combating distortions of the Party line, the Bolshevik Party rallied closer than ever around its Central Committee under whose leadership the Party and the Soviet land now passed to a new stage – the completion of the construction of a classless, Socialist society.
In the period 1930-34 the Bolshevik Party solved what was, after the winning of power, the most difficult historical problem of the proletarian revolution, namely, to get the millions of small peasant owners to adopt the path of collective farming, the path of Socialism.
The elimination of the kulaks, the most numerous of the exploiting classes, and the adoption of collective farming by the bulk of the peasants led to the destruction of the last roots of capitalism in the country, to the final victory of Socialism in agriculture, and to the complete consolidation of the Soviet power in the countryside.
After overcoming a number of difficulties of an organizational character, the collective farms became firmly established and entered upon the path of prosperity.
The effect of the First Five-Year Plan was to lay an unshakable foundation of a Socialist economic system in our country in the shape of a first-class Socialist heavy industry and collective mechanized agriculture, to put an end to unemployment, to abolish the exploitation of man by man, and to create the conditions for the steady improvement of the material and cultural standards of our working people.
These colossal achievements were attained by the working class, the collective farmers, and the working people of our country generally, thanks to the bold, revolutionary and wise policy of the Party and the Government.
The surrounding capitalist world, striving to undermine and disrupt the might of the U.S.S.R., worked with redoubled energy to organize gangs of assassins, wreckers and spies within the U.S.S.R. This hostile activity of the capitalist encirclement became particularly marked with the advent of fascism to power in Germany and Japan. In the Trotskyites and Zinovievites, fascism found faithful servants who were ready to spy, sabotage, commit acts of terrorism and diversion, and to work for the defeat of the U.S.S.R. in order to restore capitalism.
The Soviet Government punished these degenerates with an iron hand, dealing ruthlessly with these enemies of the people and traitors to the country.