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J. V. Stalin
THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF COMMUNISM
IN GEORGIA AND TRANSCAUCASIA
Report to a General Meeting of the Tiflis
Organisation of the Communist Party of Georgia
July 6, 1921
Pravda Gruzii (Tiflis), No. 108,
July 13, 1921
From J. V. Stalin, Works
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Vol. 5, pp. 90-102.
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo, email@example.com (May 2001)
THE IMMEDIATE TASKS OF COMMUNISM
IN GEORGIA AND TRANSCAUCASIA
Report to a General Meeting of the Tiflis
Organisation of the Communist Party of Georgia
July 6, 1921
Comrades, the committee of your organisation has instructed me to deliver a report to you on the immediate tasks of communism in Georgia.
The immediate tasks of communism are questions of tactics. But to be able to determine a party's tactics, particularly the tactics of a government party, it is first of all necessary to weigh up the general situation in which the party finds itself, which it must not ignore. What, then, is this situation?
It scarcely needs proof that with the outbreak of the Civil War the world split up into two opposite camps, the imperialist camp headed by the Entente, and the socialist camp headed by Soviet Russia; that in the first camp are all kinds of capitalist, "democratic" and Menshevik states, and in the second are the Soviet states, including Georgia. The principal feature of the situation in which the Soviet countries find themselves today is that the period of armed struggle between the two above-mentioned camps ended with a more or less prolonged armistice between them; that the period of war has been superseded by a period of peaceful economic construction of the Soviet republics. Before, in the war period, so to speak, the Soviet republics operated under the general
slogan "All for the war," for the Soviet republics were a beleaguered camp, blockaded by the imperialist states. In that period, the Communist Party devoted all its energy to throwing all active forces into the work of building the Red Army, into strengthening the front of the armed struggle against imperialism. Needless to say, in that period the Party was unable to concentrate its attention on economic construction. It may be said without exaggeration that in that period the economics of the Soviet countries were confined to the development of war industry and to the maintenance, as best they could, of certain branches of the national economy, also connected with the war. This, indeed, explains the economic ruin that we inherited from the war period of the Soviet states.
Now that we have entered the new period of economic construction, now that we have passed from war to peaceful labour, the old slogan "All for the war" is naturally replaced by a new slogan "All for the national economy." This new period imposes on the Communists the duty of throwing all forces on to the economic front, into industry, agriculture, food supply, the co-operatives, transport, etc. For if we fail to do this we shall be unable to overcome economic ruin.
Whereas the war period produced Communists of the military type -- supply officers, mobilisation officers, operations officers, and so forth, in the new period, the period of economic construction, the Communist Party must, in drawing the broad masses into the task of economic revival, train a new type of Communist, a communist business-manager -- managers of industry, agriculture, transport, the co-operatives, and so forth.
But, while developing the work of economic construction, Communists must not ignore two very important circumstances that we have inherited from the past. These circumstances are: firstly, the existence of highly industrialised bourgeois states surrounding the Soviet countries; secondly, the existence of a numerous peasant petty bourgeoisie within the Soviet states.
The point is that by the will of history the Soviet power has triumphed, not in the more highly developed countries, but in those relatively less developed in a capitalist respect. History has shown that it is much easier to overthrow the bourgeoisie in countries like Russia, where capitalism is relatively young, where the proletariat is strong and concentrated and the national bourgeoisie is weak, than in the classical countries of capitalism like Germany, Britain and France, where capitalism has existed for several centuries, and where the bourgeoisie has succeeded in becoming a powerful force that controls the whole of social life.
When the proletarian dictatorship is established in countries like Germany and Britain, it will, no doubt, be easier there to develop and complete the socialist revolution, i.e., it will be easier to organise socialist economy there, for industry is more developed there, it is more highly equipped technically, and the proletariat is relatively more numerous than in the present Soviet countries. For the time being, however, we are faced with the fact that, on the one hand, the proletarian dictatorship has been established in countries that are less developed industrially and have a numerous class of small commodity producers (peasants) and, on the other hand, that the bourgeois dictatorship exists
in the countries that are more highly developed industrially and have a numerous proletariat. It would be unwise, thoughtless, to ignore this fact.
Since the Soviet countries have abundant sources of raw materials and fuel, while the industrially developed bourgeois countries are suffering from a shortage of these, individual capitalist groups in bourgeois states are undoubtedly interested in concluding agreements with the Soviet states with a view to exploiting these sources of raw materials and fuel on definite terms. On the other hand, since the small producer class in the Soviet states (the peasantry) needs manufactured goods (textiles, agricultural machines), it is also undoubtedly interested in concluding an agreement with its proletarian government with a view to receiving such goods on a barter basis (in exchange for agricultural produce).
The Soviet Government, in its turn, is also interested in concluding temporary agreements both with individual capitalist groups in foreign countries, and with the class of small commodity producers in its own country, for such agreements will undoubtedly accelerate and facilitate the restoration of the productive forces that were destroyed by the war, and the development of electrification, the technical-industrial basis of the future socialist economy.
These circumstances dictate to the Communists of the Soviet states a policy of concluding temporary agreements both with individual capitalist groups in the West (with a view to exploiting their capital and technical forces), and with the petty bourgeoisie at home (with a view to obtaining the necessary raw materials and food products).
Some people may say that these tactics of concluding agreements with the bourgeoisie smack of Menshevism, for the Mensheviks in their activities employ the tactics of agreements with the bourgeoisie. But that is not correct. There is a wide gulf between the tactics of concluding agreements with individual bourgeois groups, now proposed by the Communists, and the Menshevik tactics of concluding agreements with the bourgeoisie. The Mensheviks usually propose the conclusion of agreements with the bourgeoisie when the capitalists are in power, when, in order to strengthen their power and to corrupt the proletariat, the capitalists in power are not averse from handing down from above some "reforms," small concessions to individual groups of the proletariat. Such agreements are harmful to the proletariat and profitable to the bourgeoisie, for they do not weaken but strengthen the power of the bourgeoisie, cause dissension among the proletariat and split its ranks. That is precisely why the Bolsheviks always opposed, and always will oppose, the Menshevik tactics of concluding agreements with the bourgeoisie when the latter is in power. That is precisely why the Bolsheviks regard the Mensheviks as vehicles of bourgeois influence on the proletariat.
In contrast to the Menshevik tactics, however, the tactics of concluding agreements proposed by the Bolsheviks are of an altogether different character, for they presuppose an entirely different situation, one in which the proletariat and not the bourgeoisie is in power; and the inevitable result of the conclusion of agreements between individual bourgeois groups and the proletarian government must be the strengthening of proletarian power, on the one hand, and the disintegration of the
bourgeoisie, the taming of some of its groups, on the other. It is only necessary that the proletariat should keep a tight hold on the power it has won and make skilful use of the resources and knowledge of these bourgeois groups for the economic revival of the country.
You see that these tactics and the Menshevik tactics are as far apart as heaven and earth.
Thus, to throw all active forces on to the economic front and, by means of agreements with individual bourgeois groups, to make use of the latter's resources, knowledge and organising skill in the interests of the economic revival of the country -- such is the first immediate task dictated by the general situation to the Communists in Soviet countries, including the Communists in Georgia.
It is not, however, sufficient to weigh up the general situation in order to be able to determine the tactics of individual Soviet countries, in this case, the tactics of Soviet Georgia. To be able to determine the tactics the Communists in each Soviet country must pursue, it is also necessary to take into account the particular, concrete conditions of existence of each country. What are the particular, concrete conditions of existence of Soviet Georgia, in which the Communist Party of Georgia has to operate?
A number of facts that characterise these conditions can be established beyond doubt.
First, it is beyond doubt that in view of the utter hostility of the capitalist states towards the Soviet countries, the totally isolated existence of Soviet Georgia, or of any other Soviet country, is inconceivable both from the military and from the economic point of view. The mutual economic and military support of the Soviet
states is a condition without which the development of these states is inconceivable.
Secondly, it is obvious that Georgia, which is suffering from a shortage of food products, needs Russian grain and cannot do without it.
Thirdly, Georgia, having no liquid fuel, obviously needs the oil products of Azerbaijan, and cannot do without them, in order to maintain her transport and industry.
Fourthly, it is also beyond doubt that, suffering from a shortage of goods for export, Georgia needs assistance from Russia in the form of gold for covering the deficit in the balance of trade.
Lastly, it is impossible to ignore the distinctive conditions created by the national composition of the population of Georgia: a large percentage of this population consists of Armenians, and in Tiflis, the capital of Georgia, they constitute as much as half the population. This, undoubtedly, under any form of government and in particular under the Soviet regime, makes it the duty of Georgia to maintain absolute peace and fraternal co-operation both with the Armenians in Georgia and with Armenia.
It scarcely needs proof that these, and many other concrete conditions of a similar kind, impose on Soviet Georgia, as well as upon Soviet Armenia and Azerbaijan, the duty of in some way uniting their economic activities, of uniting their economic efforts, in order, say, to improve transport, for joint action in foreign markets, organisation of land reclamation schemes (irrigation, drainage), etc. I shall not dwell on the necessity of mutual support and contact between the Transcaucasian
independent Soviet republics, and between them and Soviet Russia, in the event of our having to defend ourselves against attacks from outside. All this is obvious and indisputable. And if I mention these commonplace truths it is only because certain circumstances have arisen during the past two or three years which hinder such union, which threaten to frustrate attempts at such union. I am referring to nationalism -- Georgian, Armenian and Azerbaijanian -- which has shockingly increased in the Transcaucasian republics during the past few years and is an obstacle to joint effort.
I remember the years 1905-17, when complete fraternal solidarity was to be observed among the workers and among the labouring population of the Transcaucasian nationalities in general, when fraternal ties bound the Armenian, Georgian, Azerbaijanian and Russian workers into one socialist family. Now, upon my arrival in Tiflis, I have been astounded by the absence of the former solidarity between the workers of the nationalities of Transcaucasia. Nationalism has developed among the workers and peasants, a feeling of distrust of their comrades of other nationalities has grown strong: anti-Armenian, anti-Tatar, anti-Georgian, anti-Russian and every other sort of nationalism is now rife. The old ties of fraternal confidence are severed, or at least greatly weakened.<"p97"> Evidently, the three years of existence of nationalist governments in Georgia (Mensheviks), in Azerbaijan (Mussavatists) and in Armenia (Dashnaks) have left their mark. By pursuing their nationalist policy, by working among the toilers in a spirit of aggressive nationalism, these nationalist governments finally brought matters to the point where each of these small countries found
itself surrounded by a hostile nationalist atmosphere, which deprived Georgia and Armenia of Russian grain and Azerbaijanian oil, and Azerbaijan and Russia of goods passing through Batum -- not to speak of armed clashes (Georgian-Armenian war) and massacres (Armenian-Tatar), as the natural results of the nationalist policy. No wonder that in this poisonous nationalist atmosphere the old international ties have been severed and the minds of the workers poisoned by nationalism. And since the survivals of this nationalism have not yet been eliminated among the workers, this circumstance (nationalism) is the greatest obstacle to uniting the economic (and military) efforts of the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics. Well, I have said already that without such union, the economic progress of the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics, and especially of Soviet Georgia, is inconceivable. Hence the immediate task of the Communists of Georgia is to wage a ruthless struggle against nationalism, to restore the old fraternal international bonds that existed before the nationalist Menshevik government came on the scene, and thus to create that healthy atmosphere of mutual confidence which is necessary for uniting the economic efforts of the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics and for the economic revival of Georgia.
This does not mean, of course, that there ought no longer to be an independent Georgia, or an independent Azerbaijan, and so forth. In my opinion, the draft scheme that is circulating among some comrades for restoring the old gubernias (Tiflis, Baku, Erivan), to be headed by a single Transcaucasian government, is a utopia, and a reactionary utopia at that; for this scheme is undoubt-
edly prompted by the desire to turn back the wheel of history. To restore the old gubernias and to dissolve the national governments in Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia would be tantamount to restoring landlordism and liquidating the gains of the revolution. This has nothing in common with communism. It is precisely in order to dispel the atmosphere of mutual distrust, and to restore the bonds of fraternity between the workers of the nationalities of Transcaucasia and Russia, that the independence both of Georgia and of Azerbaijan and Armenia must be preserved. This does not preclude, but, on the contrary, presupposes the necessity of mutual economic and other support, and also the necessity of uniting the economic efforts of the independent Soviet republics on the basis of voluntary agreement, on the basis of a convention.
According to information I have received, it was recently decided in Moscow to render Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan some small assistance in the shape of a loan of 6,500,000 rubles in gold. Furthermore, I have learned that Georgia and Armenia are receiving oil products from<"p99"> Azerbaijan free of charge, something that is inconceivable in the life of bourgeois states, even such as are united by the notorious "Entente Cordiale." It scarcely needs proof that these and similar acts do not weaken, but strengthen the independence of these states.
Thus, to eliminate nationalist survivals, to cauterise them with red-hot irons, and to create a healthy atmosphere of mutual confidence among the toilers of the Transcaucasian nationalities in order to facilitate and hasten the uniting of the economic efforts of the
Transcaucasian Soviet Republics (without which the economic revival of Soviet Georgia is inconceivable), while preserving the independence of Soviet Georgia -- such is the second immediate task dictated to the Communists of Georgia by the concrete conditions of existence of that country.
Lastly, the third immediate task, equally important and equally necessary, is to preserve the purity, staunchness and flexibility of the Communist Party of Georgia.
Comrades, you must remember that our Party is the government party, that often whole groups of unreliable careerist elements, alien to the proletarian spirit, get into or try to get into, the Party and carry into it the spirit of disintegration and conservatism. It is the vital task of the Communists to guard the Party against such elements. We must remember once and for all that the strength and weight of a party, and especially of the Communist Party, do not depend so much on the quantity of members as on their quality, on their staunchness and devotion to the cause of the proletariat. The Russian Communist Party has all-in-all 700,000 members. I can assure you, comrades, that it could raise its membership to 7,000,000 if it wished to do so, and if it did not know that 700,000 staunch Communists constitute a much stronger force than 7,000,000 unwanted and good-for-nothing fellow-travellers. If Russia has withstood the onslaught of world imperialism, if she has achieved a number of most important successes on the external fronts, and if in the course of two or three years she has developed into a force that is shaking the foundations of world imperialism, this is due, among other things, to the
existence of the united Communist Party, forged out of hard steel and tempered in battle, which has never gone out for quantity of members, but which has made its first concern the improvement of their quality. Lassalle was right when he said that the party becomes strong by purging itself of dross. On the other hand, there can be no doubt that the reason why the German Social Democratic Party, for example, the biggest Social-Democratic Party in the world, proved to be a plaything in the hands of imperialism during the imperialist war and collapsed like a colossus with feet of clay after the war was that for years it had devoted itself to enlarging its organisations by admitting all sorts of petty-bourgeois trash, which killed its living spirit.
Thus, to preserve the staunchness and purity of its ranks, not to go out for quantity of Party members, systematically to improve the quality of the Party membership, to guard itself against an influx of intellectual, petty-bourgeois nationalist elements -- such is the third and last immediate task of the Communist Party of Georgia.
I am finishing my report, comrades. I pass now to the conclusions:
1) Develop all-round economic construction work, concentrating all your forces on this work and utilising in it the forces and resources both of capitalist groups in the West and of petty-bourgeois groups at home.
2) Crush the hydra of nationalism and create a healthy atmosphere of internationalism in order to facilitate the union of the economic efforts of the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics, while preserving their independence.
3) Guard the Party against an influx of petty-bourgeois elements and preserve its staunchness and flexibility, systematically improving the quality of its membership.
Such are the three principal immediate tasks of the Communist Party of Georgia.
Only by carrying out these tasks will the Communist Party of Georgia be able to keep a tight hold on the helm and defeat economic ruin. (Applause.)
Pravda Gruzii (Tiflis), No. 108,
July 13, 1921
<"en28"> J. V. Stalin arrived in Tiflis at the end of June 1921 from Nalchik (where he had been taking a cure) to attend a plenary session of the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.) held jointly with representatives of the local Party and trade-union organisations. The session, which lasted from July 2 to July 7, discussed important questions of political and economic affairs in the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics. In the resolution it adopted on the report on the political situation, drafted under J. V. Stalin's direction, the Plenum defined the tasks of the Transcaucasian Communists and struck a decisive blow at the nationalist deviators. The Plenum adopted a decision to set up a commission to unite the economic activities of the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics. It also discussed the following questions: the condition of the Transcaucasian railway; currency circulation in the Transcaucasian Soviet Republics; the autonomy of Nagorny Karabakh; Ajaria; the situation in Abkhazia, etc. At a general meeting of the Tiflis Party organisation held on July 6, J. V. Stalin delivered a report on "The Immediate Tasks of Communism in Georgia and Transcaucasia." This report was published in the newspaper Pravda Gruzii, No. 108 of July 13, 1921, and in the same year was also published in pamphlet form by the Caucasian Bureau of the Central Committee of the R.C.P.(B.). [p. 90]
<"en29"> Mussavatists -- the members of the "Mussavat" Party, a nationalist party of the bourgeoisie and landlords in Azerbaijan, formed in 1912. In the period of the October Revolution and the Civil War it was the chief counter-revolutionary force in Azerbaijan. Supported by the Turkish, and later, by the
British interventionists, the Mussavatists were in power in Azerbaijan from September 1918 to April 1920, when the Mussavat government was overthrown by the joint efforts of the Baku workers and the Azerbaijanian peasants, and of the Red Army, which came to their assistance. [p. 97]
<"en30"> Dashnaks -- the members of the "Dashnaktsutyun" Party, an Armenian bourgeois-nationalist party, formed in the 1890's. In 1918-20, the Dashnaks headed the bourgeois-nationalist government of Armenia and transformed that country into a British interventionist base for fighting Soviet Russia. The Dashnak government was overthrown in November 1920 as a result of the struggle waged against it by the working people of Armenia, who were assisted by the Red Army. [p. 97]
<"en31"> This refers to the military and political agreement concluded between Great Britain and France in 1904. It marked the beginning of the formation of the Entente, the imperialist alliance of Great Britain, France and tsarist Russia. [p. 99]