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J. V. Stalin
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Speech Delivered at the Sverdlov University
June 9, 1925
Pravda, Nos. 139, 141,
142 and 145, June 21,
24, 25 and 28, 1925
From J. V. Stalin, Works,
Foreign Languages Publishing House,
Vol. 7, pp. 158-214.
Prepared © for the Internet by David J. Romagnolo,firstname.lastname@example.org (August 1997) (Corrected and Updated March 2004)
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Speech Delivered at the Sverdlov University
June 9, 1925<"NOTES">
Comrades, I shall answer the questions you have submitted in writing. I shall deal with them in the order in which they are given in your note. As you know, there are ten questions.
Let us begin with the first question.
What measures and what conditions would help to strengthen the bond between the working class and the peasantry under the proletarian dictatorship if the Soviet Union is not supported by a social revolution of the Western proletariat during the next ten to fifteen years?
I think that this question embraces all your other written questions. Therefore, my answer will be of a general, and hence far from exhaustive, character. Otherwise, there will be nothing left to say in answer to the other questions.
I think that the decisions of the Fourteenth Party Conference give an exhaustive answer to this question. These decisions say that the chief guarantee that the bond will be strengthened is a correct policy towards the peasantry.
But what is a correct policy towards the peasantry?
It can consist only of a series of measures -- economic, administrative-political and cultural-educational -- that will ensure the strengthening of the bond.
Let us start with the economic sphere.
First of all, the survivals of war communism in the countryside must be eliminated. Further, a correct policy must be pursued in relation to the prices of manufactured goods and agricultural produce, a policy that will ensure the rapid growth of industry and agriculture and the elimination of the "scissors." Furthermore, the total amount of the agricultural tax must be reduced and the tax must be gradually transferred from the state budget to the local budgets. The vast masses of the peasantry must be organised in co-operatives, primarily in agricultural and credit co-operatives, as a means of drawing peasant economy into the general system of socialist construction. The countryside must be supplied with the maximum amount of tractors as a means of bringing about a technical revolution in agriculture and as the way towards creating cultural and technical centres in the countryside. Finally, the plan for electrification must be carried out as a means of bringing the countryside closer to the towns and of abolishing the antithesis between them.
Such is the path along which the Party must proceed if it wants to ensure the bond between town and country in the economic sphere.
I should like to draw your attention to the question of transferring the agricultural tax from the state budget to the local budgets. It may seem strange to you, but it is nevertheless a fact, that the agricultural tax is
assuming, and will steadily more and more assume, the character of a local tax. You know, for example, that formerly, a year or two ago, the agricultural tax was the chief, or almost the chief, item of revenue in our state budget. But now? Now it is a small item in the state budget. Today, the state budget amounts to 2,500 million rubles, but the revenue from the agricultural tax will amount, may amount, this year to 250-260 million rubles at most, that is, 100 million rubles less than last year. As you see, it is not very much. And the more the state budget grows, the smaller will be the proportion represented by this tax. Secondly, 100 million out of the 260 million obtained from the agricultural tax will go to the local budgets. That is more than a third of the total revenue from this tax. What is the explanation of this? The fact that of all the existing taxes, the agricultural tax is most closely connected with local conditions and can be most easily utilised for local needs. There can scarcely be any doubt that the local budgets in general will grow, but it is also beyond doubt that they will grow primarily on account of the agricultural tax, which should be adapted to the utmost to local conditions. That is all the more probable for the reason that the bulk of our state revenues is already coming, and in future will in general increasingly come, from other sources, from our state enterprises, indirect taxes and so forth.
That is why the transfer of the agricultural tax from the state budget to the local budgets may in time become likely and quite expedient from the standpoint of strengthening the bond.
Let us pass to the measures for ensuring the bond in the administrative and political sphere.
Implanting Soviet democracy in town and country and revitalising the Soviets with a view to simplifying, cheapening, and morally improving the state apparatus, with a view to expelling elements of bureaucracy and bourgeois corruption from this apparatus, with a view to completely linking the state apparatus with the vast masses -- such is the path along which the Party must proceed if it wants to strengthen the bond in the sphere of administrative and political development.
The dictatorship of the proletariat is not an end in itself. The dictatorship is a means, a way of achieving socialism. But what is socialism? Socialism is the transition from a society with the dictatorship of the proletariat to a stateless society. To effect this transition, however, preparations must be made for altering the state apparatus in such a way as to ensure in fact that the society with the dictatorship is transformed into communist society. That purpose is served by the slogan of revitalising the Soviets, the slogan of implanting Soviet democracy in town and country, the slogan of drawing the best elements of the working class and the peasantry into the direct work of governing the country. It will be impossible to reform the state apparatus, to alter it thoroughly, to expel elements of bureaucracy and corruption from it and to make it near and dear to the broad masses unless the masses themselves render the state apparatus constant and active assistance. But on the other hand, active and continuous assistance of the masses is impossible unless the best elements of the workers and peasants are drawn into the organs of government, unless direct and close connection is established between the state apparatus and the "rank and file" of the toiling masses.
What distinguishes the Soviet state apparatus from the apparatus of the bourgeois state?
Above all, the fact that the bourgeois state apparatus stands above the masses and, as a consequence, it is separated from the population by an impassable barrier and by its very spirit is alien to the masses of the people. The Soviet state apparatus, however, merges with the masses, for it cannot and must not stand above the masses if it wants to remain a Soviet state apparatus, for it cannot be alien to these masses if it really wants to embrace the millions of working people. That is one of the fundamental differences between the Soviet state apparatus and the apparatus of the bourgeois state.
Lenin once said in his pamphlet Can the Bolsheviks Retain State Power? that the 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party could undoubtedly govern the country in the interests of the poor and against the rich, for they were in no way inferior to the 130,000 landlords who governed the country in the interests of the rich and against the poor. On these grounds, some Communists think that the state apparatus can consist merely of several hundred thousand Party members, and that this is quite enough for the purpose of governing a vast country. From this standpoint they are sometimes not averse to identifying the Party with the state. That is wrong, comrades. It is a distortion of Lenin's idea. When speaking of the 240,000 members of the Bolshevik Party, Lenin did not in the least mean that this figure indicated, or could indicate, the total personnel and general scope of the Soviet state apparatus. On the contrary, in addition to the members of the Party, he included in the state apparatus the million electors who cast their votes for the Bolsheviks at that time, before October, stating that we had the means by which at one stroke to enlarge tenfold our state apparatus, that is to say, to increase its personnel to at least 10,000,000 by drawing the working people into the daily work of governing the state.
"These 240,000," said Lenin, "are already backed by not less than a million votes of the adult population, for this is precisely the proportion between the number of Party members and the number of votes cast for it established by the experience of Europe and the experience of Russia, as shown, for example, by the August elections to the Petrograd Duma. Thus, we already have a 'state apparatus' of one million people who will be devoted to the socialist state for the sake of their ideals and not for the sake of receiving a fat sum on the 20th of every month.
"Not only that. We have a 'magic means' by which at once, at one stroke to enlarge tenfold our state apparatus, a means which no capitalist state ever possessed nor could possess. This magic means is that of drawing the working people, drawing the poor, into the daily work of governing the state" (see Vol. XXI, pp. 264-65).
How does this "drawing the working people, drawing the poor, into the daily work of governing the state" take place?
It takes place through organisations based on mass initiative, all kinds of commissions and committees, conferences and delegate meetings, that spring up around the Soviets, economic bodies, factory committees, cultural institutions, Party organisations, youth league organisations, all kinds of co-operative associations, and so on and so forth. Our comrades sometimes fail to see that around the low units of our Party, Soviet, cultural, trade-union, educational, Y.C.L. and army organisations, around the departments for work among women and all other kinds of organisations, there are whole teeming ant-hills -- organisations, commissions and conferences which have sprung up of their own accord and embrace millions of non-Party workers and peasants -- ant-hills which, by their daily, inconspicuous, painstaking, quiet work, provide the basis and the life of the Soviets, the source of strength of the Soviet state. If our Soviet and Party organs did not have the help of these organisations embracing millions, the existence and development of Soviet power, the guidance and administration of a great country would be absolutely inconceivable. The Soviet state apparatus does not consist solely of Soviets. The Soviet state apparatus, in the profound meaning of the term, consists of the Soviets plus all the diverse non-Party and Party organisations, which embrace millions, which unite the Soviets with the "rank and file," which merge the state apparatus with the vast masses and, step by step, destroy everything that serves as a barrier between the state apparatus and the people.
That is how we must strive to "enlarge tenfold" our state apparatus, making it near and dear to the vast masses of the working people, expelling the survivals of bureaucracy from it, merging it with the masses and thereby preparing the transition from a society with the dictatorship of the proletariat to communist society.
Such is the meaning and significance of the slogan of revitalising the Soviets and implanting Soviet democracy.
Such are the principal measures for strengthening the bond that must be taken in the administrative and political sphere of the Party's work.
As regards the measures for ensuring the bond in the cultural and educational sphere of work, little need be said about them, for they are obvious and commonly known, and therefore need no explanation. I should only like to indicate the main line of work in this sphere for the immediate future. This main line lies in preparing the conditions necessary for introducing universal, compulsory, primary education throughout the country, throughout the Soviet Union. That is a very important reform, comrades. Its achievement will be a great victory not only on the cultural front, but also on the political and economic fronts. That reform must serve as the basis of an immense advance of the country. But it will cost hundreds of millions of rubles. Suffice it to say that to carry it out a whole army of men and women school-teachers, almost half a million, will be needed. But we must, in spite of everything, carry out this reform in the very near future if we really intend to raise the country to a higher cultural level. And we shall do it, comrades. There can be no doubt about that.
Such is the answer to your first question.
Let us now pass to the second question.
What dangers are there of our Party degenerating as a result of the stabilisation of capitalism, if this stabilisation lasts a long time?
Are we faced by such dangers at all?
Such dangers, as possible and even real dangers, undoubtedly exist. They face us quite apart from stabilisation. Stabilisation merely makes them more palpable. Of those dangers, taking the most important of them, I think there are three:
a) the danger of losing the socialist perspective in our work of building up our country, and the danger of liquidationism connected with it;
b) the danger of losing the international revolutionary perspective, and the danger of nationalism connected with it;
c) the danger of a decline of Party leadership and the possibility connected with it of the Party's conversion into an appendage of the state apparatus.
Let us begin with the first danger.
The characteristic feature of this danger is lack of confidence in the internal forces of our revolution; lack of confidence in the alliance between the workers and peasants; lack of confidence in the leading role of the working class within that alliance; lack of confidence in the conversion of "NEP Russia" into "socialist Russia"; lack of confidence in the victory of socialist construction in our country.
That is the path of liquidationism and degeneration, for it leads to the liquidation of the principles and aims of the October Revolution, to the degeneration of the proletarian state into a bourgeois-democratic state.
The source of this "frame of mind," the soil on which it has arisen in the Party, is the growth of bourgeois influence on the Party in the conditions of the New Economic Policy and of the desperate struggle between the capitalist and socialist elements in our national economy. The capitalist elements are fighting not only in the economic sphere; they are trying to carry the fight into the sphere of proletarian ideology, trying to infect the least stable detachments of the Party with lack of confidence in the possibility of building socialism, with scepticism concerning the socialist prospects of our work of construction, and it cannot be said that their efforts have been entirely fruitless.
Some of these infected "Communists" say: "How can a backward country like ours build a complete socialist society? The state of the productive forces of our country makes it impossible for us to set ourselves such utopian aims. God grant that we hold on somehow. How can we dream of building socialism? Let us build in one way or another, and we shall see what happens. . . ."
Others say: "We have already fulfilled our revolutionary mission by making the October Revolution. Now everything depends on the international revolution, for we cannot build socialism unless the Western proletariat first gains victory. Strictly speaking, a revolutionary has nothing more to do in Russia." . . . As you know, in 1923, on the eve of the German revolution, some of our young students were ready to throw down their books and go to Germany. They said: "A revolutionary has nothing to do in Russia. We must throw down our books and go to Germany to make a revolution."
As you see, both these groups of "Communists," the first and the second, adopt the standpoint of denying the socialist potentialities of our work of construction, they adopt a liquidationist standpoint. The difference between them is that the first group cover up their liquidationism with the "scientific"<"p167"> "theory of productive forces" (no wonder Milyukov praised them in Posledniye Novosti  the other day, calling them "serious Marxists"), whereas the second group cover it up with Left and "terribly revolutionary" phrases about world revolution.
Indeed, let us assume that a revolutionary has nothing to do in Russia; let us assume that it is inconceivable, impossible, to build socialism in our country until socialism is victorious in other countries; let us assume that the victory of socialism in the advanced countries is delayed for another ten or twenty years -- can we suppose that under those circumstances the capitalist elements in our economy, acting in the conditions of capitalist encirclement of our country, will agree to cease their mortal struggle against the socialist elements in this economy and wait with folded arms for the victory of the world revolution? It is enough to put this question to realise how utterly absurd that supposition is. But if that supposition is excluded, what is there left for our "serious Marxists" and "terrible revolutionaries" to do? Obviously, only one thing is left for them: to loaf around, surrender to the elemental forces and gradually degenerate into ordinary bourgeois democrats.
One thing or the other: either we regard our country as the base of the proletarian revolution, either we have, as Lenin said, all that is needed to build a complete socialist society -- in which case we can and must build such a society in expectation of complete victory over the capitalist elements in our national economy; or we do not regard our country as the base of the revolution, we have not got what is needed to build socialism, and we cannot build a socialist society -- in which case, if the victory of socialism in other countries is delayed, we must resign ourselves to the prospect that the capitalist elements in our national economy will gain the upper hand, that the Soviet regime will decay, and the Party will degenerate.
One thing or the other.
That is why lack of confidence in the socialist potentialities of our work of construction leads to liquidationism and to degeneration.
That is why the struggle against the liquidationist danger is an immediate task of our Party, particularly at the present time, particularly during the temporary stabilisation of capitalism.
Let us pass to the second danger.
The characteristic feature of that danger is lack of confidence in the international proletarian revolution; lack of confidence in its victory; a sceptical attitude towards the national-liberation movement in the colonies and dependent countries; failure to understand that without the support of the revolutionary movement in other countries our country would not be able to hold out against world imperialism; failure to understand that the victory of socialism in one country alone cannot be final because it has no guarantee against intervention until the revolution is victorious in at least a number of countries; failure to understand the elementary demand of internationalism, by virtue of which the victory of socialism in one country is not an end in itself, but a means of developing and supporting the revolution in other countries.
That is the path of nationalism and degeneration, the path of the complete liquidation of the proletariat's international policy, for people afflicted with this disease regard our country not as a part of the whole that is called the world revolutionary movement, but as the beginning and the end of that movement, believing that the interests of all other countries should be sacrificed to the interests of our country.
Support the liberation movement in China? But why? Wouldn't that be dangerous? Wouldn't it bring us into conflict with other countries? Wouldn't it be better if we established "spheres of influence" in China in conjunction with other "advanced" powers and snatched something from China for our own benefit? That would be both useful and safe. . . . Support the liberation movement in Germany? Is it worth the risk? Wouldn't it be better to agree with the Entente about the Versailles Treaty and bargain for something for ourselves by way of compensation?. . . Maintain friendship with Persia, Turkey and Afghanistan? Is the game worth the candle? Wouldn't it be better to restore the "spheres of influence" with one or other of the Great Powers? And so on and so forth.
Such is the new type of nationalist "frame of mind," which is trying to liquidate the foreign policy of the October Revolution and is cultivating the elements of degeneration.
Whereas the first danger, the danger of liquidationism, springs from the growth of bourgeois influence on the Party in the sphere of internal policy, in the sphere of the struggle between the capitalist and socialist elements in our national economy, the second danger, the danger of nationalism, must be regarded as springing from the growth of bourgeois influence on the Party in the sphere of foreign policy, in the sphere of the struggle that the capitalist states are waging against the state of the proletarian dictatorship. There can scarcely be any doubt that the pressure of the capitalist states on our state is enormous, that the people who are handling our foreign policy do not always succeed in resisting this pressure, that the danger of complications often gives rise to the temptation to take the path of least resistance, the path of nationalism.
On the other hand, it is obvious that the first country to be victorious can retain the role of standard-bearer of the world revolutionary movement only on the basis of consistent internationalism, only on the basis of the foreign policy of the October Revolution, and that the path of least resistance and of nationalism in foreign policy is the path of the isolation and decay of the first country to be victorious.
That is why losing the international revolutionary perspective leads to the danger of nationalism and degeneration.
That is why the struggle against the danger of nationalism in foreign policy is an immediate task of the Party.
Finally, about the third danger.
The characteristic feature of that danger is lack of confidence in the Party's internal forces; lack of confidence in the Party's leadership; the efforts of the state apparatus to weaken the Party's leadership, to free itself from it; failure to understand that without the Party's leadership there can be no proletarian dictatorship.
This danger arises on three sides.
Firstly. The classes that have to be led have changed. The workers and peasants today are no longer what they were in the period of war communism. Formerly, the working class was declassed and scattered, and the peasants were in dread of the return of the landlords in the event of defeat in the civil war, while in that period the Party was the only concentrated force, which directed affairs in military fashion. The situation is different now. There is no war now. Consequently, there is no war danger to rally the toiling masses around the Party. The proletariat has recovered and has risen to a higher level, both culturally and materially. The peasantry has also developed and risen to a higher level. The political activity of both classes is growing and will continue to grow. It is now no longer possible to lead in the military fashion. Firstly, there must be the utmost flexibility in leadership. Secondly, there must be extreme sensitiveness to the requirements and needs of the workers and peasants. Thirdly, there must be the ability to draw into the Party the best of the workers and peasants who have come to the fore as a result of the development of the political activity of these classes. But these conditions and qualities are not created at one stroke, as we know. Hence the discrepancy between what is demanded of the Party and the possibilities at the disposal of the Party at the present time. Hence, also, the danger of a weakening of the Party's leadership, the danger of the Party losing the leadership.
Secondly. During the recent period, during the period of economic development, the apparatuses of the state and public organisations have considerably grown and gained in strength. The trusts and syndicates, the trading and credit institutions, the administrative-political and cultural-educational organisations, and,
finally, the co-operatives of all kinds, have grown and expanded considerably, having absorbed hundreds of thousands of new people, mainly non-Party people. But these apparatuses are not only growing in personnel; their power and influence are growing too. And the more their importance grows the more palpable becomes their pressure on the Party, the more persistently do they strive to weaken the Party's leadership, and the stronger becomes their resistance to the Party. The forces in those apparatuses must be regrouped and the leading people in them must be distributed in such a way as to ensure the Party's leadership in the new situation. But that cannot be achieved at one stroke, as we know. Hence the danger of the state apparatus becoming divorced from the Party.
Thirdly. The work itself has become more complicated and differentiated. I am speaking of the present work of construction. Entire branches and sub-branches of work have arisen and developed in both town and country. Accordingly, leadership has become more concrete. Formerly, it was customary to speak of leadership "in general." Today, leadership "in general" is mere talk, for there is no leadership in it whatever. Today we must have concrete, specific leadership. The past period developed a know-all type of Party worker who was ready to answer all questions of theory and practice. Today, this old, know-all type of Party worker must give way to a new type, who strives to become an expert in a given branch of work. To give real leadership, one must know the work, one must study the work conscientiously, patiently and perseveringly. One cannot give leadership in the countryside without a knowledge of agriculture, without a knowledge of the co-operatives, without being familiar with the price policy, without having studied the laws that directly concern the countryside. One cannot give leadership in a town without a knowledge of industry, without studying the life of the workers, without paying heed to the requirements and needs of the workers, without a knowledge of co-operative, trade-union and club affairs. But can all this be acquired at one stroke? Unfortunately, it cannot. To raise Party leadership to the requisite level, it is first of all necessary to raise the qualifications of the Party workers. Today the quality of the Party worker must be the first consideration. But it is not so easy to improve the quality of the Party worker at one stroke. The old habit of hastily issuing orders, which, unfortunately, served as a substitute for knowledge, still persists in Party organisations. That explains why it is that so-called Party leadership sometimes degenerates into the ridiculous piling up of totally useless orders, into empty verbal "leadership," which affects nobody and nothing. Herein lies one of the gravest dangers of the weakening and decline of the Party's leadership.
Such, in general, are the reasons why the danger of the Party losing the leadership leads to the decay and degeneration of the Party.
That is why a determined struggle against that danger is an immediate task of our Party.
Such is the answer to your second question.
Let us pass to the third question.
How can a struggle be waged against the kulaks without fomenting class struggle?
I think that the question is confused and, therefore, presented incorrectly. What class struggle is meant? If it means class struggle in the countryside in general, then the proletariat is waging such a struggle not only against the kulaks. What about the contradictions between the proletariat and the peasantry as a whole -- is that not class struggle, even though it assumes a rather unusual form? Is it not true that at the present time the proletariat and the peasantry constitute the two main classes of our society, that between these classes there are contradictions, soluble and in the long run surmountable it is true, but contradictions for all that, which give rise to a struggle between these two classes?
I think that the class struggle in our country, if we have in mind the relations between town and country, between the proletariat and the peasantry, has three main fronts:
a) the front of the struggle between the proletariat as a whole (in the shape of the state) and the peasantry in the matter of establishing maximum prices for manufactures and agricultural produce, in the matter of normalising taxation, and so forth;
b) the front of the struggle between the proletariat as a whole (in the shape of the state) and the kulaks in the matter of liquidating profiteering prices of agricultural produce, in the matter of shifting the main burden of taxation on to the kulaks, and so forth;
c) the front of the struggle between the rural poor, above all the agricultural labourers, and the kulaks.
You see that these fronts cannot be equal either in importance or in the character of the struggle that is being waged on them. Hence, our attitude towards the forms of the class struggle that is being waged on these fronts must be differentiated, it cannot be the same for all.
Let us examine this more closely.
The first front. The proletariat (in the shape of the state), taking into consideration the weakness of our industry and the impossibility of obtaining loans for it, took a series of fundamental measures capable of protecting it from the competition of foreign industry and of accelerating its development for the benefit of our entire national economy, including agriculture. Those measures are: the monopoly of foreign trade, the agricultural tax, state forms of procurement of agricultural produce, the introduction of the planning principle in the development of the national economy as a whole. All these are based on the nationalisation of the principal branches of industry, transport and credit. You know that those measures have led to what they were intended to lead to: that is to say, they have checked both the precipitous fall in the price of manufactured goods and also the precipitous rise in the price of agricultural produce. On the other hand, it is obvious that the peasantry as a whole, as buyers of manufactured goods and sellers of agricultural produce, prefer to buy those goods at the lowest possible price and to sell their produce at the highest possible price. Equally, the peasantry would like to have the agricultural tax abolished altogether, or at least to have it reduced to a minimum.
Here, then, is the ground for the struggle between the proletariat and the peasantry.
Can the state abandon the fundamental measures enumerated above? No, it cannot, for the abandonment of those measures would lead at the present time to the ruin of our industry, to the utter defeat of the proletariat as a class, to the conversion of our country into an agrarian colony of the industrially developed capitalist countries, to the failure of our entire revolution.
Would it be in the interests of the peasantry as a whole to abolish those fundamental measures taken by our state? No, it would not, for their abolition at the present time would mean the triumph of the capitalist path of development, and this path is that of development through the impoverishment of the majority of the peasants for the sake of the enrichment of a handful of rich people, a handful of capitalists. Who would dare to assert that the peasantry is interested in its own impoverishment, that it is interested in the conversion of our country into a colony, that it is not vitally interested in the triumph of the socialist path of development of our national economy?
Here, then, is the ground for the alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry.
Does that mean that our industrial bodies, relying on their monopoly, can screw up the prices of manufactured goods to the detriment of the interests of the bulk of the peasantry, and to the detriment of industry itself? No, it does not. Such a policy, above all, would injure industry, for it would make it impossible to transform it from the feeble, hothouse plant that it was only yesterday into the strong and mighty industry that it must become tomorrow. Hence our campaign to reduce the prices of manufactured goods and to raise productivity of labour. You know that this campaign is meeting with fairly wide success.
Furthermore, does it mean that our procurement bodies, relying on their monopoly, can force down the prices of agricultural produce and make them ruinous for the peasantry, to the detriment of our entire national economy? No, it does not. Such a policy, above all, would ruin industry, for, firstly, it would make it difficult to supply the workers with agricultural produce; and, secondly, it would utterly dislocate and disorganise the home market for our industry. Hence our campaign against the so-called "scissors." You know that this campaign has already produced favourable results.
Finally, does it mean that our local or central bodies, relying on the agricultural tax law and exercising their right to collect taxes, can regard that law as something unquestionable and go to such lengths in actual practice as to demolish the barns and remove the roofs from the houses of impoverished taxpayers, as happened in some districts of the Tambov Gubernia? No, it does not. Such a policy would completely destroy the peasants' confidence in the proletariat, in the state. Hence the Party's latest measures to reduce the agricultural tax, to give that tax a more or less local character, to normalise our taxation affairs in general, to put a stop to the scandalous practices in the collec- tion of taxes that have occurred in some places. You know that those measures have already produced the desired results.
Thus, we have, firstly, the community of interests of the proletariat and the peasantry on fundamental questions, their common interest in the triumph of the socialist path of development of our national economy. Hence the alliance of the working class and the peasantry. We have, secondly, the contradictions between the interests of the working class and those of the peasantry on current questions. Hence the struggle within this alliance, a struggle whose importance is outweighed by that of the community of interests, and which should disappear in the future, when the workers and the peasants cease to be classes -- when they become working people of a classless society. We have, thirdly, the ways and means of solving these contradictions between the working class and the peasantry within the framework of maintaining and strengthening the alliance between the workers and the peasants in the interest of both allies. We not only have those ways and means at our disposal, but we are already employing them successfully in the complicated conditions of NEP and the temporary stabilisation of capitalism.
Does it follow from this that we must foment class struggle on this front? No, it does not. On the contrary! What follows from this is merely that we must do everything to moderate the struggle on this front, to regulate it by means of agreements and mutual concessions, and under no circumstances permit it to assume acute forms, to reach the point of clashes. And we are doing this, for we have every possibility of doing it; for here the community of interests is stronger and deeper than the contradiction between them.
As you see, the slogan of fomenting class struggle is totally unsuitable for the conditions of the struggle on this front.
The second front. The forces operating here are the proletariat (in the shape of the Soviet state) and the kulaks. The forms of the class struggle here are as peculiar as they are under the conditions of the struggle on the first front.
Wishing to give the agricultural tax very definitely the character of an income tax, the state is shifting the main burden of this tax on to the kulaks. In retaliation, the kulaks are trying, "by hook or by crook," to evade paying, and are exercising all their power and all their influence in the countryside to shift the burden of this tax on to the middle and poor peasants.
Combating the high cost of living, and endeavouring to maintain the stability of wages, the state is trying to take measures of an economic character for the purpose of establishing fair maximum prices for agricultural produce which fully meet the interests of peasant economy. In retaliation, the kulaks buy up the produce of the poor and middle peasants, accumulate large stocks, hoard them in their barns, and withhold them from the market in order artificially to screw up the price of produce to a profiteering level; only then do they release those stocks on the market with the object of making fabulous speculatory profits. You are no doubt aware that this year, in some gubernias of our country, the kulaks have succeeded in forcing up the price of grain to the utmost limit.
Hence the class struggle on this front, and its peculiar and more or less hidden forms.
It might seem that the slogan of fomenting class struggle is quite suitable for the conditions of the struggle on this front. But that is not true, for here, too, it is not in our interest to foment class struggle; for here we are quite able to avoid, and must avoid, fomenting class struggle and the complications resulting from it.
We can and must revitalise the Soviets, win over the middle peasants and organise the poor peasants in the Soviets in order to secure relief of taxation for the bulk of the peasants and actually to shift the main burden of taxation on to the kulaks. You know that measures in that direction are being taken and are already producing favourable results.
We can and must hold at the disposal of the state sufficiently large food stocks to be able to bring pressure to bear on the food market, to intervene, when necessary, to maintain prices at a level acceptable to the masses of the working people, and in this way to frustrate the profiteering machinations of the kulaks. You know that this year we have used several tens of millions of poods of grain for this purpose. You no doubt know that we have achieved quite favourable results in this field, for we have not only succeeded in keeping the price of grain at a low level in districts like Leningrad, Moscow, the Donets Basin, Ivanovo-Voznesensk and other places, but have also forced the kulaks to surrender in a number of districts, compelling them to put on to the market old stocks of grain at moderate prices.
Of course, things here do not depend upon us alone. It is quite possible that in some cases the kulaks themselves will begin to foment class struggle, will try to bring the struggle to boiling point, will try to give it the form of bandit or insurrectionary outbreaks. If that happens, however, the slogan of fomenting class struggle will not be our slogan, but that of the kulaks, and, therefore, a counter-revolutionary one. Moreover, there is no doubt that the kulaks themselves will then get a taste of all the disadvantages of this slogan against the Soviet state.
As you see, the slogan of fomenting class struggle on this front is not our slogan.
The third front. The forces operating here are two: the rural poor, primarily the agricultural labourers, on the one hand, and the kulaks, on the other. Formally, the state stands aside. As you see, this front is not as wide as the preceding fronts. On the other hand, on this front the class struggle is quite evident and open, whereas it is hidden and more or less masked on the first two fronts.
Here it is a matter of the direct exploitation of wage-workers, or semi-wage-workers, by kulak employers. That is why the Party cannot here conduct a policy of allaying, or moderating the struggle. Here our task is to organise the struggle waged by the rural poor and to lead this struggle against the kulaks.
But does that mean that we thereby undertake to foment class struggle? No, it does not. Fomenting a struggle means something more than organising and leading the struggle. It also means artificially stirring up and deliberately fanning the class struggle. Is there any necessity for these artificial measures now, when we have the dictatorship of the proletariat, and when the Party and trade-union organisations are operating quite freely in our country? Of course, not.
Therefore, the slogan of fomenting class struggle is also unsuitable for this third front.
That is how the matter stands with the third question.
As you see, the question of the class struggle in the countryside is not as simple as it might appear to be at first sight.
Let us pass to the fourth question.
A workers' and peasants' government -- is it a fact or an agitational slogan?
It seems to me that the formulation of the question is rather absurd.
What is the meaning of the formulation: a workers' and peasants' government -- is it a fact or an agitational slogan? It suggests that the Party can issue slogans that are not in accordance with the truth, but merely serve the purpose of some cunning manoeuvre, here, for some reason, called "agitation." It suggests that the Party can issue slogans that do not have, and cannot have, scientific substantiation. Is that correct? Of course, not. Such a party would deserve to vanish like a soap-bubble after a brief existence. Our Party would not then be the Party of the proletariat pursuing a scientific policy; it would be mere froth on the surface of political events.
Our Government, by its nature, by its programme and tactics, is a workers', proletarian, communist government. There should be no misconception or doubt on this score. Our Government cannot simultaneously have two programmes: a proletarian one and some other kind. Its programme and practical activities are proletarian, communist, and in this sense our Government is undoubtedly proletarian, communist.
Does that mean that our Government is not at the same time a workers' and peasants' government? No, it does not. By its programme and activities, our Government is proletarian, but at the same time it is a workers' and peasants' government.
Because, under our conditions, the fundamental interests of the bulk of the peasant masses wholly and entirely coincide with the interests of the proletariat.
Because, in view of that, the interests of the peasantry are fully expressed in the programme of the proletariat, in the programme of the Soviet Government.
Because the Soviet Government rests on the alliance of the workers and peasants, which is based on the common fundamental interests of these classes.
Because, finally, in the organs of government, in the Soviets, there are not only workers, but also peasants, who are fighting the common enemy and building the new life jointly with the workers, under the leadership of the workers.
That is why the slogan "a workers' and peasants' government" is not an empty "agitational" slogan, but the revolutionary slogan of the socialist proletariat, scientifically substantiated in the programme of communism.
That is how the matter stands with the fourth question.
Let us pass to the fifth question.
Some comrades interpret our policy towards the peasantry as an extension of democracy for the peasantry and as a change in the character of the governmental power in our country. Is this interpretation correct?
Are we actually extending democracy in the countryside?
Yes, we are.
Is that a concession to the peasantry?
Certainly, it is.
Is it a big concession, and does it keep within the bounds of the Constitution of our country?
I think the concession is not very big, and it does not alter our Constitution one iota.
In that case, what are we changing, and what is the nature of this concession?
We are changing the way in which work in the countryside is carried out, for the old way is totally unsatisfactory under the new conditions of development. We are changing the established state of affairs in the countryside, which is impeding the bond and disorganising the work of the Party in rallying the peasantry around the proletariat.
Until now, the situation was that quite a number of rural districts were governed by small groups of people connected more with the uyezd and gubernia administrations than with the rural population. The result of this was that those who governed the rural districts mostly looked to the top, to the uyezd, and least of all looked to the bottom, to the rural population; they felt responsible not to the villages, not to their electors, but to the uyezd and gubernia administrations, evidently failing to understand that the "top" and the "bottom" constitute here a single chain, and that if the chain is broken below, the whole of it must collapse. The result of this was unchecked arbitrariness and tyranny of the rulers, on the one hand, and discontent and murmuring in the countryside, on the other. We are now putting an end to this state of affairs in the countryside, resolutely, once and for all.
Until now the situation was that in quite a number of districts elections to the Soviets in the countryside were not real elections, but merely a bureaucratic procedure of smuggling in "deputies" by means of all kinds of trickery and of pressure exercised by the small groups of rulers who were afraid of losing power. The result of this was that the Soviets stood in danger of being transformed from bodies that are near and dear to the masses into bodies alien to the masses; and the leadership of the peasants by the workers, that foundation and fortress of the proletarian dictatorship, stood in danger of becoming a fiction. You know that in view of this the Party was obliged to arrange for new elections of Soviets, and these elections showed that the old election practices in quite a number of districts were a survival of war communism, and that they had to be abolished as harmful and utterly rotten. We are now putting an end to such election practices in the countryside.
That is the basis of the concession, the basis of the extension of democracy in the countryside.
It is not only the peasantry who need this concession. It is needed just as much by the proletariat, for it strengthens the proletariat, raises its prestige in the countryside and increases the peasants' confidence in the proletariat. As is known, the main purpose of concessions, and of compromises generally, is that they should, in the long run, reinforce and strengthen the proletariat.
What are the limits of these concessions at the present time?
The limits of these concessions were laid down by the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) and<"p187"> by the Third Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. You know that they are not very wide; they are restricted to the limits I have just spoken about. That, however, does not mean that they will remain unalterable forever. On the contrary, they will undoubtedly be expanded, in proportion to the development of our national economy, in proportion to the growth in strength of the economic and political might of the proletariat, in proportion to the development of the revolutionary movement in the West and East, in proportion to the growth in strength of the international positions of the Soviet state. In 1918, Lenin spoke of the necessity of "extending the Soviet Constitution to the e n t i r e population i n p r o p o r t i o n a s the resistance of the exploiters ceases" (see Vol. XXII, p. 372). As you see, it is a matter of extending the Constitution to the entire population, including the bourgeoisie. That was said in March 1918. From that time until Lenin died more than five years passed; but not once during that period did Lenin even hint that it was time to put that proposition into practice. Why? Because the time to make that extension had not yet come. There can be no doubt, however, that it will come some day, when the internal and international positions of the Soviet state are finally consolidated.
That is why, although foreseeing the further extension of democracy in the future, we nevertheless consider it necessary at the present time to restrict the concessions in the sphere of democracy to the limits laid down by the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) and by the Third Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R.
Do these concessions change the character of the governmental power in the country?
No, they do not.
Do they introduce into the system of the proletarian dictatorship any changes that would weaken it?
Not in the least, not in the slightest degree.
Far from being weakened, the proletarian dictatorship is strengthened by revitalising the Soviets and drawing the best elements of the peasantry into the work of administration. The leadership of the peasantry by the proletariat is not only maintained by the expansion of democracy, but it acquires additional strength, creating an atmosphere of confidence around the proletariat. And surely that is the chief thing in the dictatorship of the proletariat, as regards the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry in the system of the dictatorship.
Those comrades who assert that the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat is limited to the concept of violence are wrong. The dictatorship of the proletariat is not only violence ; it is also leadership of the toiling masses of the non-proletarian classes, it is also the building of a socialist economy, which is a higher type of economy than capitalist economy, with a higher productivity of labour than capitalist economy. The dictatorship of the proletariat is: 1) violence, unrestricted by law, in relation to the capitalists and landlords, 2) leadership by the proletariat in relation to the peasantry, 3) the building of socialism in relation to the whole of society. Not one of these three aspects of the dictatorship can be excluded without running the risk of distorting the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Only by taking all these three aspects together do we get a complete and finished concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
Does the Party's new course in the sphere of Soviet democracy introduce any deterioration into the system of the proletarian dictatorship?
No, it does not. On the contrary! The new course can but improve matters by strengthening the system of the proletarian dictatorship. As regards the element of violence in the system of the dictatorship, the instrument of that violence being the Red Army, it scarcely needs proof that the implanting of Soviet democracy in the countryside can but improve the state of the Red Army by rallying it more closely around the Soviet power, for our army consists mainly of peasants. As regards the element of leadership in the system of the dictatorship, there can be scarcely any doubt that the slogan of revitalising the Soviets can but facilitate the proletariat's leadership by strengthening the peasants' confidence in the working class. And as regards the element of building in the system of the dictatorship, it scarcely needs proof that the Party's new course can but facilitate the building of socialism, for it has been put into effect for the purpose of strengthening the bond, and it is impossible to build socialism without this bond.
Only one conclusion follows: concessions to the peasantry in the present situation strengthen the proletariat and consolidate its dictatorship without changing the character of the governmental power in the country one iota.
That is how the matter stands with the fifth question.
Let us pass to the sixth question.
Is our Party making any concessions to the Right deviation in the Comintern in connection with the stabilisation of capitalism, and if so, is such a tactical manoeuvre really necessary?
Evidently, this refers to the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the agreement concluded with the group headed by Comrades Smeral and Zapotocky against the Right elements in that Party.
I do not think our Party has made any concessions to the Right deviation in the Comintern. On the contrary,<"p190"> the key-note of the entire enlarged plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern was the isolation of the Right elements in the Comintern. Read the Comintern's resolution on the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, read the resolution on Bolshevisation, and you will easily see that the Comintern's chief target was the Right elements in the communist movement.
That is why it is impossible to say that our Party has made concessions to the Right deviation in the Comintern.
Strictly speaking, Comrades Smeral and Zapotocky are not Rights. They do not accept the platform of the Rights, the platform of the Brünnites. The nearest description would be that they are vacillators between the Leninists and the Rights, with an inclination toward the Rights. The specific feature of their behaviour at the enlarged plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern was that, under the pressure of our criticism, on the one hand, and as a result of the dangerous prospect of a split created by the Rights, on the other, they, on this occasion, swung to our side, the side of the Leninists, and pledged themselves to keep in alliance with the Leninists against the Rights. That is to their credit. But do the comrades think that we should not have offered a hand to the vacillators when the latter swung to the side of the Leninists, when they made concessions to the Leninists against the Rights? It would be strange and deplorable if people were to be found among us who are incapable of understanding the elementary truths of Bolshevik tactics. Has not experience already shown that the Comintern's policy on the question of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia is the only correct policy? Are not Comrades Smeral and Zapotocky continuing to fight in the ranks of the Leninists against the Rights? Are not the Brünnites in the Czechoslovak Party already isolated?
It may be asked: will this be for long? Of course, I do not know whether this will be for long; I do not undertake to prophesy. It is obvious, at all events, that as long as the Smeralites fight the Rights, the agreement with the former will remain in force; but as soon as the Smeralites abandon their present position, the agreement with them will cease to hold good. But that is not at all the point now. The point now is that the present agreement against the Rights strengthens the Leninists, creates new possibilities for them to carry the vacillators with them. That is the main thing now, and not how Comrades Smeral and Zapotocky may vacillate again in the future.
Some people think that it is the duty of the Leninists to support every Left tub-thumper and neurasthenic, that everywhere and in everything the Leninists are the inveterate Lefts among the Communists. That is not true, comrades. We are Lefts in relation to the non-communist parties of the working class; but we have never pledged ourselves to be "more Left than everybody," as the late Parvus demanded at one time, and for which he received a severe telling-off from Lenin. Among Communists we are neither Lefts nor Rights, we are simply Leninists. Lenin knew what he was doing when he fought on two fronts, against both the Left and the Right deviations in the communist movement. It is not for nothing that one of Lenin's best pamphlets deals with the subject: "Left-Wing" Communism, an Infantile Disorder.
I think that the comrades would not have asked me the sixth question had they paid timely attention to this latter circumstance.
That is how the matter stands with the sixth question.
Let us pass to the seventh question.
Owing to the weakness of the Party organisations in the countryside, is there not a danger that, with the adoption of the new course, anti-Soviet agitation in the countryside will assume a definite ideological form?
Yes, there is such a danger. There can be scarcely any doubt that conducting elections to the Soviets under the slogan of revitalising the Soviets means freedom of local election propaganda. Needless to say, the anti-Soviet elements will not miss such a convenient opportunity to squeeze through the loop-hole and once more make trouble for the Soviet regime. Hence the danger that anti-Soviet agitation in the countryside will increase and assume definite form. The elections in the Kuban, in Siberia and in the Ukraine provide eloquent proof of this. Undoubtedly, the weakness of our rural organisations in a number of districts enhances this danger. It is beyond doubt, too, that the interventionist proclivities of the imperialist powers also enhance this danger.
What fosters this danger, what are its sources?
There are at least two such sources.
Firstly, the anti-Soviet elements sense that a certain change in favour of the kulaks has taken place recently in the countryside, that in a number of districts the middle peasants have turned towards the kulaks. That might have been guessed before the elections; after the elections the guess became a certainty. That is the first and chief basis of the danger that anti-Soviet agitation in the countryside will assume a definite ideological form.
Secondly, in quite a number of districts our concessions to the peasantry were regarded as a sign of weakness. Before the elections there might have been some doubt about that; after the elections, there is no room for doubt. Hence the cry issued by the whiteguard elements in the countryside: "Press harder!" That is the second, although less important, basis of the danger that anti-Soviet agitation in the countryside will increase.
Communists must understand, first of all, that the present period in the countryside is a period of struggle to win over the middle peasants, that to win the middle peasants to the side of the proletariat is the Party's paramount task in the countryside, that unless this task is carried out, the danger that anti-Soviet agitation will assume definite form will increase, and the Party's new course may benefit only the whiteguard elements.
Communists must understand, secondly, that the middle peasants can be won over now only on the basis of the Party's new policy in the sphere of the Soviets, co-operation, credit, the agricultural tax, local budgets, and so forth; that measures of administrative pressure can only do harm and ruin the work; that the middle peasants must be convinced of the correctness of our policy by means of measures of an economic and political character; that the middle peasants can be "captured" only by means of example, by practical proof.
Communists must understand, furthermore, that the new course has been taken not to stimulate the anti-Soviet elements, but to revitalise the Soviets and to win over the bulk of the peasant masses, that the new course does not preclude, but presupposes, a deter- mined struggle against the anti-Soviet elements, that if the anti-Soviet elements, regarding the concessions to the peasantry as a sign of our weakness and utilising them for the benefit of counter-revolution, say: "Press harder," then we must, without fail, show them that the Soviet power is strong, and remind them of the prisons, which have long been waiting to receive them.
I think that the danger that anti-Soviet agitation in the countryside will assume a definite ideological form and increase will certainly be completely removed if these tasks of ours are understood and carried out.
That is how the matter stands with the seventh question.
Let us pass to the eighth question.
In view of the increased influence of the non-Party people, is there not a danger that non-Party groups will be formed in the Soviets?
One can speak of danger in this case only with reservations. There is nothing dangerous in the growth of the influence of more or less organised non-Party people in places where the influence of Communists has not yet penetrated. Such is the case, for example, with the trade unions in the towns and with non-Party, more or less Soviet organisations in the countryside. Danger arises the moment non-Party organisations begin to think of usurping the place of the Party.
What is the source of this danger?
It is characteristic that no sign, or very little sign of such danger is to be observed in our working class.
How is this to be explained? By the fact that around our Party in the working class there is a large active of non-Party workers who surround the Party with an atmosphere of confidence and link it with the vast masses of the working class.
It is no less characteristic that such a danger is especially acute among the peasantry. Why? Because the Party is weak among the peasantry, the Party has not yet a large active of non-Party peasants to link it with the tens of millions of peasants. And yet nowhere, perhaps, is the need of a non-Party active felt as acutely as it is among the peasantry.
Only one conclusion follows: to remove the danger of the non-Party peasant masses becoming divorced and alienated from the Party we must create around the Party a large non-Party peasant active.
But such an active cannot be created at one stroke, or in a couple of months. It can be created and singled out from the mass of the peasantry only in the course of time, in the course of work, in the course of revitalising the Soviets, in the course of implanting a co-operative communal life. For this purpose the Communist must change his very approach to the non-Party person. For this purpose the Communist must treat the non-Party person as an equal. For this purpose the Communist must learn to treat the non-Party person with confidence, to treat him as a brother. The non-Party person cannot be expected to display confidence when treated with distrust in return. Lenin said that the relations between Party and non-Party people must be those of "mutual confidence." Those words of Lenin's must not be forgotten. The creation of an atmosphere of mutual confi- dence between Party and non-Party people -- that is what is needed first of all in order to prepare the conditions for the creation of a large non-Party peasant active around the Party.
But how is this mutual confidence to be created? Not at one stroke, of course, and not by order. It can be created, as Lenin said, only by means of "mutual testing" of Party and non-Party people, mutual testing in the course of the daily practical work. During the first purge of the Party, the Party members were tested through the medium of non-Party people, and this was beneficial for the Party, for it created around it an atmosphere of extraordinary confidence. Already at that time Lenin said in this connection that the lessons of the first purge as regards the mutual testing of Party and non-Party people should be extended to all branches of activity. I think it is high time to recall this advice of Lenin's and to take measures to put it into practice.
Thus, mutual criticism and mutual testing of Party and non-Party people in the course of the daily practical work as the means of creating an atmosphere of mutual confidence between them -- such is the path along which the Party must proceed if it wants to remove the danger of the alienation of the millions of non-Party people from the Party, if it wants to create a large non-Party peasant active around its organisations in the countryside.
That is how the matter stands with the eighth question.
Let us pass to the ninth question.
Shall we really be able to carry out the re-equipment and considerable enlargement of the fixed capital of large-scale industry without foreign assistance?
This question can be interpreted in two ways.
Either that the questioners have in mind immediate assistance to the Soviet state in the shape of credits from the existing capitalist states as an essential condition for the development of Soviet industry -- in which case one answer would have to be given, corresponding to that way of presenting the question
Or that the questioners have in mind assistance to the Soviet state on the part of the Western proletariat in the future, after it has achieved victory, as an essential condition for the building of a socialist economy -- in which case a different answer would have to be given.
To avoid offending anybody, I shall try to answer both possible interpretations of this question.
Let us start with the first interpretation.
Is it possible to develop large-scale Soviet industry in the conditions of capitalist encirclement without credits from abroad?
Yes, it is possible. It will be accompanied by great difficulties, we shall have to go through severe trials, nevertheless we can industrialise our country without credits from abroad, in spite of all those difficulties.
History up to now knows three ways of the formation and development of powerful industrial states.
The first way is the seizure and plunder of colonies. That was the way Britain, for example, developed.
After seizing colonies in all parts of the world, she for two centuries squeezed "extra capital" out of them for the purpose of strengthening her industry, and eventually she became the "workshop of the world." You know that this path of development is unacceptable for us, for the seizure and plunder of colonies are incompatible with the nature of the Soviet system.
The second way is the military defeat of one country by another and the imposition of indemnities upon the defeated country. Such was the case with Germany, for example. After defeating France in the Franco-Prussian war, Germany squeezed an indemnity of 5,000 millions out of France and poured this money into the channels of her own industry. You know that this path of development is also incompatible with the nature of the Soviet system, for, in essence, it differs in no way from the first.
The third way is for capitalistically backward countries to grant concessions to and accept loans from capitalistically developed countries on enslaving terms. Such was the case with tsarist Russia, for example. She granted concessions to and accepted loans from the Western powers on such terms and thereby imposed upon herself the yoke of a semi-colonial existence, which, however, did not preclude the possibility of her eventually emerging on to the road of independent industrial development, not, of course, without the aid of more or less "successful" wars, and, of course, not without plundering neighbouring countries. It scarcely needs proof that this path is also unacceptable for the Land of Soviets. We did not shed our blood in the three-years' war against the imperialists of all countries in order to go into voluntary bondage to imperialism the very next day after the victorious termination of the civil war.
It would be wrong to think that in real life each of these paths of development is necessarily travelled in its pure form, and is absolutely isolated from the others. Actually, in the history of individual countries those paths often intercrossed and supplemented one another, presenting an interwoven pattern. An example of such an interweaving of paths is provided by the history of the development of the United States of America. That is explained by the fact that, notwithstanding all the differences between them, those diverse paths of development have certain features in common, which bring them close to one another and make their interweaving possible: firstly, all lead to the formation of capitalist industrial states; secondly, all presuppose an influx from outside of "extra capital," obtained in one way or another, as an essential condition for the formation of such states. It would be still more wrong, however, on these grounds to confuse those paths, to jumble them together, failing to understand that, after all, those three paths of development imply three different modes of formation of industrial capitalist states, that each of those paths puts its own special impress upon the complexion of those states.
What, then, is the Soviet state to do if the old paths of industrialisation are unacceptable for it, and if an influx of new capital on other than enslaving terms is still out of the question?
It can take a new path of development, a path not yet fully explored by other countries, the path of developing large-scale industry without credits from abroad,
the path of industrialising the country without necessarily having an influx of foreign capital, the path indicated by Lenin in his article "Better Fewer, but Better."
"We must strive," says Lenin, "to build up a state in which the workers retain their leadership of the peasants, in which they retain the confidence of the peasants, and, by exercising the greatest economy, remove every trace of extravagance from their social relations.
"We must bring our state apparatus to the utmost degree of economy. . . . If we see to it that the working class retains the leadership of the peasantry, we shall be able, by exercising the greatest possible economy in the economic life of our state, to use every kopek we save to develop our large-scale machine industry, to develop electrification. . . . Only when we have done this," says Lenin further, "will we, speaking figuratively, be able to change horses, to change from the peasant, muzhik, horse of poverty, from the horse of economies adapted to a ruined peasant country, to the horse which the proletariat is seeking and cannot but seek -- the horse of large-scale machine industry, of electrification, of Volkhovstroi, etc." (see Vol. XXVII, p. 417).
That is the path our country has already taken, and along which it must proceed, in order to develop its large-scale industry and in order that it may itself develop into a powerful, industrial, proletarian state.
As I have already said, that path has not been explored by the bourgeois states, but that does not mean in the least that it cannot be taken by the proletarian state. What in this case is impossible, or almost impossible, for bourgeois states, is quite possible for the proletarian state. The fact of the matter is that, in this respect, the proletarian state possesses advantages which bourgeois states do not, and, perhaps, cannot possess. Nationalised land, nationalised industry, nationalised transport and credit, monopoly of foreign trade and state-regulated home trade -- these are all new sources of "extra capital," which can be used for developing our country's industry, and which hitherto no bourgeois state has possessed. You know that the proletarian government is already using these and similar new sources for developing our industry. You know that along this path we have already achieved some successes of no little importance.
That is why the path of development that is impossible for bourgeois states is quite possible for the proletarian state, in spite of all the difficulties and trials involved.
Furthermore, it must be noted that the absence at the present time of an influx of capital from abroad on other than enslaving terms cannot be eternal and absolute. You know that some influx of capital into our country from abroad has already begun. There is scarcely any room for doubt that this influx will increase in proportion as our national economy grows and becomes consolidated.
That is how the matter stands with the first interpretation of the question.
Let us pass to the second interpretation of the question.
Is it possible to build a socialist economy in our country before socialism is victorious in the major European countries, without direct assistance in machinery and equipment from the victorious European proletariat?
Before dealing with this question, which, by the by, I have already answered in the beginning of my speech,
I should like to dispel a very widespread misconception concerning it. The misconception is that some comrades are inclined to identify the question of "the re-equipment and enlargement of the fixed capital of large-scale industry" with the question of building a socialist economy in our country. Can we agree to such an identification? No, we cannot. Why? Because the scope of the first question is narrower than that of the second. Because the first question concerning the enlargement of the fixed capital of industry embraces only a part of the national economy, namely, industry, whereas the question concerning the building of a socialist economy embraces the whole national economy, namely, both industry and agriculture. Because the problem of building socialism is the problem of organising the national economy as a whole, the problem of correctly combining industry and agriculture, whereas, strictly speaking, the question of enlarging the fixed capital of industry does not even touch that problem. We can picture to ourselves that the fixed capital of industry is already being re-equipped and enlarged, but that would not at all mean that the problem of building a socialist economy has already been solved. Socialist society is a producers' and consumers' association of those who work in industry and agriculture. If, in this association, industry is not linked up with agriculture, which provides raw materials and food and absorbs the products of industry, if industry and agriculture do not thus constitute a single, national-economic whole, there will be no socialism whatever.
That is why the question of the relations between industry and agriculture, the question of the relations between the proletariat and the peasantry, is a fundamental question in the problem of building a socialist economy.
That is why the question of the re-equipment and enlargement of the fixed capital of large-scale industry cannot be identified with the question of building a socialist economy.
And so, is it possible to build a socialist economy in our country before socialism is victorious in other countries, without direct assistance in machinery and equipment from the victorious Western proletariat?
Yes, it is possible. It is not only possible, but necessary and inevitable. For we are already building socialism by developing nationalised industry and linking it with agriculture, implanting co-operatives in the countryside and drawing peasant economy into the general system of Soviet development, revitalising the Soviets and merging the state apparatus with the vast masses of the people, building a new culture and implanting a new social life. Undoubtedly, a multitude of difficulties face us on this path, and we shall have to go through a number of trials. Undoubtedly, things would be vastly easier if the victory of socialism in the West came to our aid. But, firstly, the victory of socialism in the West is not "happening" as quickly as we would like; and, secondly, those difficulties can be surmounted and we are already surmounting them, as you know.
I spoke about all this in the beginning of my speech. I spoke about it even before, in my report to the Moscow active.* And still earlier I spoke about it in my "Pref-
* See this volume, pp. 90-134. --Ed. [Transcriber's Note: See Stalin's "The Results of the Work of the Fourteenth Conference of the R.C.P.(B.)." -- DJR]
ace" to the book On the Road to October [¥]. I said that denial of the possibility of building socialism in our country is liquidationism, which leads to the degeneration of the Party. It is scarcely worth while repeating now what has already been said several times before. Therefore, I refer you to the works of Lenin, where you will find sufficient material and propositions on this subject.
I should like, however, to say a few words about the history of the question, and about the significance it has for the Party at the present time.
If we leave out of account the discussion that took place in 1905-06, we can say that the question of the possibility of building socialism in one country was first raised in the Party during the imperialist war, in 1915. As is known, Lenin then for the first time formulated his proposition about "the possibility of the victory of socialism" first of all "in one capitalist country taken separately" (see Vol. XVIII, p. 232).[¥¥] That was the period of the turn from the bourgeois-democratic revolution to the socialist revolution. As is known, Trotsky, already at that time, disputed this proposition of Lenin's, declaring that "it would be hopeless to think . . . that, for example, a revolutionary Russia could hold out in the face of a conservative Europe" (see Vol. III of Trotsky's Works, Part I, p. 90).
In 1921, after the October Revolution and the civil war, when questions of construction came to the fore, the question of building socialism again rose in the Party. That was the period when some comrades regarded the turn towards the "New Economic Policy" as the abandonment of socialist aims, as the abandonment of the building of socialism. As is known, Lenin, in his pamphlet <"fnp205">
[¥] [Transcriber's Note: See Stalin's "The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists." -- DJR]
[¥¥] [Transcriber's Note: See Lenin's "On the Slogan of a United States of Europe." -- DJR]
The Tax in Kind, then defined the turn towards the "New Economic Policy" as a necessary condition for linking industry with peasant economy, as a condition for building the foundation of a socialist economy, as the path to the successful building of socialism. That was in April 1921. As if in answer to this, Trotsky, in January 1922, in the preface to his book The Year 1905, advanced a totally opposite proposition on the question of building socialism in our country, declaring that "the contradictions in the position of a workers' government in a backward country with an overwhelmingly peasant population can be solved only on an international scale, in the arena of the world proletarian revolution."
A year later (in 1922) we again get two statements in opposition to one another: that of Lenin at the plenum of the Moscow Soviet, saying "NEP Russia will become socialist Russia," and that of Trotsky in the postscript to his Peace Programme, saying "real progress of a socialist economy in Russia will become possible only after the victory of the proletariat in the major European countries."
Finally, still another year later, shortly before his death, Lenin reverted to this question again in his article "On Co-operation" (May 1923), stating that here in the Soviet Union, we have "all that is necessary for building a complete socialist society."
Such is the brief history of the question.
This reference to history alone is sufficient to show that the problem of building socialism in our country is one of the major problems of our Party's practical work. It scarcely needs proof that Lenin would not have reverted to it repeatedly had he not regarded it as a major problem of our practical work.
The subsequent development of our economy, the intensification of the struggle between the socialist and the capitalist elements within it, and particularly the temporary stabilisation of capitalism, only served to make the question of the possibility of building socialism in our country more acute and to enhance its importance.
Why is this question so important from the standpoint of the Party's practical work?
Because it affects the question of the prospects of our work of construction, the question of the aims and objects of that work. You cannot build effectively if you do not know what you are building for. You cannot move a step forward if you do not know in what direction to go. The question of prospects is a cardinal question for our Party, which is accustomed to have a clear and definite goal. Are we building for socialism, in anticipation of victory in the building of socialism? Or are we building at haphazard, blindly, so as, "in anticipation of a socialist revolution throughout the world" to manure the soil for bourgeois democracy? That is a fundamental question today. We cannot work and build effectively unless we have a clear answer to this no less clear question. Hundreds and thousands of Party workers, trade-unionists and co-operators, business executives and cultural workers, military men and Young Communist Leaguers turn to us, asking us, asking our Party: What is the aim of our work? What are we building for? Woe betide those leaders who are unable, or unwilling, to give a clear and definite answer to that
question, who begin to shuffle, to send people from Pontius to Pilate, and drown the socialist prospects of our work of construction in intellectualist scepticism.
The great significance of Leninism lies, among other things, in that it does not recognise building at haphazard, blindly, that it cannot conceive of building without prospects, that it gives a clear and definite answer to the question of the prospects of our work, declaring that we have all that is needed to build a socialist economy in our country, that we can and must build a complete socialist society.
That is how the matter stands with the question of the possibility of building a socialist economy.
Whether we shall succeed for certain in building a socialist economy is another question. That does not depend upon us alone. It also depends upon the strength, or weakness, of our enemies and of our friends outside our country. We shall build it if we are allowed to do so, if we succeed in prolonging the period of "respite," if there is no serious intervention, if intervention is not victorious, if the international revolutionary movement on the one hand, and our own country on the other, are sufficiently strong and mighty to make a serious attempt at intervention impossible. And vice versa, we shall not build it if we are crushed as the result of successful intervention.
That is how the matter stands with the ninth question.
Let us pass to the last question.
Indicate the greatest forthcoming difficulties in our Party and Soviet affairs arising from stabilisation and the delay of the world revolution, especially difficulties in the sphere of the relations between the Party and the working class, and between the working class and the peasantry.
I have counted five such difficulties, having in mind the chief ones. The part played by the stabilisation of capitalism is that it somewhat increases these difficulties.
The first difficulty. This consists of the difficulties arising from the danger of foreign armed intervention. That does not mean that we are confronted with the immediate danger of intervention, that the imperialists are already prepared and fully in a position to intervene in our country immediately. To be able to do that, imperialism would have to be at least as strong as it was, for example,<"p209"> before the war, which is not the case, as is known. The present war in Morocco and intervention in China, those rehearsals of future wars and intervention, clearly demonstrate that the backbone of imperialism has weakened. Therefore, it is not a matter of immediate intervention; the point is that, as long as capitalist encirclement exists, there will always be the danger of intervention in general, and as long as the danger of intervention exists we shall have to maintain, for the purpose of defence, an army and navy, which cost us hundreds of millions of rubles every year. What does the annual expenditure of hundreds of millions of rubles on the army and navy mean? It means a corresponding reduction of expenditure on cultural and economic development. Needless to say, if there were no danger of intervention we could use these sums, or at least the greater part of them, to strengthen industry, to improve agriculture, to introduce, for example, a reform like universal compulsory primary education, and so forth. Hence the difficulties in the sphere of constructive work which arise from the danger of intervention.
The characteristic feature of this difficulty, which distinguishes it from all the others, is that to overcome it does not depend upon us alone, that it can be removed only by the joint efforts of our country and of the revolutionary movement in all other countries.
The second difficulty. This consists of the difficulties arising from the contradictions between the proletariat and the peasantry. I spoke about those contradictions when dealing with the question of the class struggle in the countryside. There is no need whatever to repeat what has already been said. Those contradictions manifest themselves in the sphere of the policy relating to prices of agricultural produce and manufactured goods, in the sphere of the agricultural tax, rural administration, and so forth. The danger here is that the bond may be disrupted and that the idea of the proletariat leading the peasantry may be discredited. Hence the difficulty arising from this danger.
The characteristic feature of this difficulty, which distinguishes it from the preceding one, is that it can be overcome by our own internal forces. The new course in the countryside -- such is the path that must be taken to overcome this difficulty.
The third difficulty. This consists of the difficulties arising from the national contradictions within our Union, from the contradictions between the "centre" and the "border regions." Those contradictions develop as a result of the dissimilarity between the economic and cultural conditions of development at the "centre" and those in the "border regions," as a result of the fact that the latter lag behind the former. Whereas the political contradictions in this sphere may be regarded as already overcome, the cultural, and more especially, the economic contradictions, are only just arising and taking shape; consequently, they still have to be overcome. The danger here is twofold: on the one hand, the danger of dominant-nation arrogance and bureaucratic arbitrariness on the part of those central institutions in the Union which are unable, or unwilling, to display the necessary sensitiveness to the requirements of the national republics, and, on the other hand, the danger of the republics and regions becoming imbued with national distrust and national insularity in relation to the "centre." To combat those dangers, especially the first -- such is the path that must be taken to overcome the difficulties in the sphere of the national question.
The characteristic feature of this difficulty is that, like the second one, it can be overcome by the internal forces of the Union.
The fourth difficulty. This consists of the difficulties arising from the danger that the state apparatus may become divorced from the Party, the danger that the Party's leadership of the state apparatus may be weakened. I spoke about that danger when dealing with the dangers of the Party's degeneration. It is hardly necessary to repeat what has already been said. That danger is fostered by tbe presence of bourgeois-bureaucratic elements in the state apparatus. It is intensified and aggravated by the growth of the state apparatus and its increased importance. The task is to reduce the state apparatus as much as possible, systematically to expel the elements of bureaucracy and bourgeois decay from it, to place leading Party forces in the key positions of the state apparatus and thus ensure the Party's leadership of it.
The characteristic feature of this difficulty is that, like the third one, it can be overcome by our own forces.
The fifth difficulty. This consists of the danger of a partial divorce of the Party organisations and trade unions from the broad working-class masses, from the needs and requirements of these masses. That danger arises and develops as a result of the domination of bureaucratic elements in quite a number of Party and trade-union bodies, not excluding Party units and factory committees. That danger has increased lately owing to the slogan "face to the countryside," which has shifted the attention of our organisations from the town to the country, from the proletariat to the peasantry. Many comrades have failed to understand that when turning to face the countryside they must not turn their backs on the proletariat, that the slogan "face to the countryside" can be implemented only through the medium of the proletariat and with the forces of the proletariat, that inattention to the requirements of the working class can only increase the danger of the Party and trade-union organisations becoming divorced from the masses of the workers.
What are the signs of this danger?
Firstly, loss of sensitiveness and inadequate attention of our Party and trade-union organisations to the requirements and needs of the broad working-class masses; secondly, failure to understand that the workers now have a higher sense of dignity and a sense of being the ruling class, that they will not understand or tolerate a bureaucratic attitude on the part of Party and trade-union organisations; thirdly, failure to understand that one should not thrust oneself on the workers with ill-considered orders, that attention must now be focussed not on such "measures," but on winning for the Party the confidence of the whole working class; fourthly, failure to understand that no measures at all extensive affecting the masses of the workers (for example, going over to the three-loom system in the textile area) should be carried out without first conducting a campaign among the workers, without first holding broad production conferences.
All this results in a number of Party and trade-union organisations becoming divorced from the broad working-class masses and in conflicts in the factories. As is known, the conflicts which flared up in the textile area recently revealed the existence of all these evils in a number of our Party and trade-union organisations.
Such are the characteristic features of the fifth difficulty on our path of development.
To overcome these difficulties it is necessary above all to rid our Party and trade-union organisations of the manifestly bureaucratic elements, to set about renewing the composition of the factory committees, to revive without fail the production conferences, to centre Party work on the large Party units in industrial enterprises and to assign the best Party workers to them.
More attention and thought to the requirements and needs of the working class, less bureaucratic formalism in the practical work of our Party and trade-union organisations, more sensitiveness and responsiveness to the sense of class dignity of the working class -- such is now the task.
That is how the matter stands with the tenth question.
Pravda, Nos. 139, 141,
142 and 145, June 21,
24, 25 and 28, 1925
<"en34"> Posledniye Novosti (Latest News ), a daily newspaper of Cadet white emigres; began publication in Paris in April 1920; was edited by the Cadet leader P. N. Milyukov. [p. 167]
<"en35"> The Third Congress of Soviets of the U.S.S.R. was held in Moscow, May 13-20, 1925. The congress discussed the following questions: the acceptance of the Turkmenian and Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republics into the U.S.S.R.; report of the Government of the U.S.S.R.; the state of industry in the U.S.S.R. questions concerning Soviet affairs; measures for improving and strengthening peasant economy; the Red Army, etc. The report on questions concerning Soviet affairs was delivered by M. I. Kalinin. [p. 187]
<"en36"> This refers to the Fifth Enlarged Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern held in Moscow, March 21-April 6, 1925 (for the speech delivered by J. V. Stalin on the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in the Czechoslovak Commission of the plenum see this volume, pp. 58 68). [p. 190]
<"en37"> See V. I. Lenin, Works, 4th Russ. ed., Vol. 32, pp. 308-43. [p. 206]
<"en38"> This refers to the war for national liberation launched by the Riffs in Morocco against French imperialism in the spring of 1925. After the defeat of the Spanish army of occupation in Morocco in the autumn of 1924, France resolved to seize the Riff, the Spanish zone of Morocco, and provoked a war. In the spring and summer of 1925 the Riffs inflicted a series of heavy defeats upon the French. The Riffs were defeated in May 1926 only after the conclusion of a military alliance between France and Spain. [p. 209]
<"en39"> This refers to the intervention of Anglo-American and Japanese imperialism in the internal affairs of China in the second half of 1924. In South China, British naval forces supported the revolt of the counter-revolutionary Canton merchants against the revolutionary Canton Government headed by Sun Yat-sen. In the North, the Anglo-American and Japanese imperialists instigated war between their respective proteges, the Chinese generals Wu Pei-fu and Chang Tso-lin, for the partition of
China. This intervention gave a powerful impetus to the struggle for national liberation in China, which led to the revolution of 1925-27. [p. 209]