V. I. Lenin

Part II: Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)

Summing-Up Speech On
The Report Of The C.C. Of The R.C.P.(B.)

March 9

(Prolonged applause.) Comrades, one would have expected the criticism, remarks, additions and amendments, etc., elicited by the report on the political activity of the Central Committee to concentrate on political work and political mistakes, and to give political advice.

Unfortunately, when you take a closer look at the debate and go over the main points made in it, you cannot help asking yourself: Was it not because the speeches were so strangely vapid, and almost all the speakers were from the Workers’ Opposition, that the Congress folded up its debate so quickly? Indeed, just what has been said of the Central Committee’s political work and current political tasks? Most of the speakers said they belonged to the Workers’ Opposition. This is no trifling title. And it is no trifling matter to form an opposition in such a Party and at such a moment!

Comrade Kollontai, for example, said bluntly: “Lenin’s report evaded Kronstadt.” When I heard that I didn’t know what to say. Everyone present at this Congress knows perfectly well—newspaper reports will naturally not be as explicit as the speeches here are—that my report tied in everything—from beginning to end—with the lessons of Kronstadt. If anything, I deserve to be reproached for devoting the greater part of my report to the lessons that flow from the Kronstadt events, and the smaller part to past mistakes, political facts and crucial points in our work, which, in my opinion, determine our political tasks and help us to avoid such mistakes in the future.

What did we hear of the lessons of Kronstadt?

When people come forward in the name of an opposition, which they call a “workers’” opposition, and say that the Central Committee has failed to steer the Party’s policy properly, we must tell them that we need pointers indicating what was wrong on the main questions, and ways of rectifying it. Unfortunately, we heard absolutely nothing, not a word or sound, about the present situation and its lessons. No one even touched upon the conclusion that I drew. It may be wrong, but the whole point of making reports at congresses is precisely to rectify what is wrong. The political conclusion to be drawn from the present situation is that the Party must be united and any opposition prevented. The economic conclusion is that we must not rest content with what has been achieved in the policy of reaching an agreement between the working class and the peasantry; we must seek new ways and put them to the test. I was quite specific about what we needed to do. Perhaps I was wrong, but nobody said a word about that. One of the speakers, I think it was Ryazanov, reproached me only for having suddenly sprung the tax on the Congress, before the ground had been prepared for it by discussion. That is not true. The surprising thing is that responsible comrades can make such statements at a Party Congress. The tax discussion was started in Pravda a few weeks ago. If the comrades who are fond of the game of opposition and like to complain that we are not providing an opportunity for hroad discussion did not choose to take part in it, they have no one to blame but themselves. We are connected with Pravda’s editorial board not only through Comrade Bukharin’s being a member of the Central Committee, but also through the Central Committee discussions of all the most important subjects and lines of policy. Otherwise there can be no political work. The Central Committee submitted the tax question for discussion. Articles were published in Pravda. Nobody replied to them. Those who refrained from replying showed that they did not wish to go into the matter. When, at a meeting of the Moscow Soviet—after these articles had been published—somebody, I do not remember whether it was a non-Party man or a Menshevik, got up and began to talk about the tax, I said: You don’t seem to know what’s being said in Pravda. It was more natural to say that sort of thing to a non-Party man than to a member of the Party. It was no accident that the discussion was started in Pravda; and we shall have to deal with it here. The criticism has been altogether unbusiness-like. The question was put up for discussion, and the critics should have taken part in it; because they had failed to do so, their criticism is groundless. The same may be said of the political question. I repeat: all my attention was concentrated on drawing the correct conclusion from recent events.

We are passing through a period of grave danger: as I have said the petty-bourgeois counter-revolution is a greater danger than Denikin. The comrades did not deny this. The peculiar feature of this counter-revolution is that it is petty-bourgeois and anarchistic. I insist that there is a connection between its ideas and slogans and those of the Workers’ Opposition. There was no response to this from any of the speakers, although most of them belonged to the Workers’ Opposition. And yet, the Workers’ Opposition pamphlet, which Comrade Kollontai published for the Congress, serves to confirm my assertion better than anything else. And I suppose I shall have to deal chiefly with this pamphlet to explain why the counter-revolution, to which I have referred, is assuming an anarchist, petty-bourgeois form, why it is so vast and dangerous, and why the speakers from the Workers’ Opposition have failed entirely to realise the danger.

But before replying to them I want to say a word or two, before I forget, on another subject, namely Osinsky. This comrade, who has written a great deal and has brought out his own platform, gets up and criticises the Central Committee’s report. We could have expected him to criticise our principal measures, and this would have been very valuable for us. Instead, he said that we had “thrown out” Sapronov, which showed that our calls for unity were at variance with our deeds; and he made a point of stressing that two members of the Workers’ Opposition had been elected to the Presidium. I am surprised that an extremely prominent Party worker and writer, who occupies a responsible post, can talk about such trifles, which are of tenth-rate importance! Osinsky has the knack of seeing political trickery in everything. He sees it also in the fact that two seats on the Presidium were given to the Workers’ Opposition.

    At a Party meeting in Moscow I called attention to the rise of the Workers’ Opposition, and I regret that I must do so again now, at the Party Congress. It had revealed itself in October and November by bringing in the two-room system, and the formation of factions.

We have repeatedly said, and I have, in particular, that our task is to separate the wheat from the chaff in the Workers’ Opposition, because it has spread to some extent, and has damaged our work in Moscow. There was no difference of opinion in the Central Committee on that score. There was evidence of damage to our work, the start of factionalism and a split in November, during the two-room conference[13]—when some met here and others down at the other end of the floor, and when I had my share of the trouble, for I had to act as errand-boy and shuttle between the rooms.

Back in September, during the Party Conference,[14] we regarded it as our task to separate the wheat from the chaff for the group could not be regarded as consisting entirely of good stuff. When we hear complaints about inadequate democracy, we say: it is absolutely true. Indeed, it is not heing practised sufficiently. We need assistance and advice in this matter. We need real democracy, and not just talk. We even accept those who call themselves the Workers’ Opposition, or something worse, although I think that for members of the Communist Party no name can be worse or more disreputable. But even if they had adopted a much worse title, we say to ourselves: since this is a malaise that has affected a section of the workers we must pay the closest attention to it. And we should be given credit for the very thing that Comrade Osinsky has accused us of, though why he should have done so, I don’t know.

I now come to the Workers’ Opposition. You have admitted that you are in opposition. You have come to the Party Congress with Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet which is entitled The Workers’ Opposition. When you sent in the final proofs, you knew about the Kronstadt events and the rising petty-bourgeois counter-revolution. And it is at a time like this that you come here, calling yourselves a Workers’ Opposition. You don ’t seem to realise the responsibility you are undertaking, and the way you are disrupting our unity! What is your object? We will question you and put you through a test right here.

Comrade Osinsky used this expression in a polemical sense; he seemed to think that we were guilty of some mistake or misdemeanour. Like Ryazanov, he saw political trickery in our policy towards the Workers’ Opposition. It is not political trickery; it is the policy the Central Committee has been pursuing, and will continue to pursue. Since unhealthy trends and groups have arisen, let us more than redouble our attention to them.

If there is anything at all sound in that opposition, we must make every effort to sift it from the rest. We cannot combat the evils of bureaucracy effectively, or practise democracy consistently because we lack the strength and are weak. We must enlist those who can help us in this matter, and expose and sift out those who produce such pamphlets on the pretext of helping us.

This task of sifting is being facilitated at the Party Congress. Representatives of the ailing group have been elected to the Presidium and these “poor”, “wronged”, and “banished” people will no longer dare to complain and wail. There’s the rostrum, up on it, and let’s have your answer! You have spoken more than anyone else. Now let us see what you have in store for us, with this looming danger, which, you admit, is a greater one than Denikin! What have you come up with? What is the nature of your criticism? We must have this test now, and I think it will be the final one. We have had enough of that sort of thing! The Party will not be trifled with in this way! Whoever comes to the Congress with such a pamphlet is trifling with the Party. You can’t play that kind of game when hundreds of thousands of demoralised veterans are playing havoc with our economy—the Party will not stand for such treatment. You can’t behave that way. You must realise that, and put a stop to it!

After these preliminary remarks about the election to the Presidium and the character of the Workers’ Opposition I want to draw your attention to Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet. It really deserves your attention, for it sums up the activity this opposition has been carrying on for several months, or the disintegration it has caused. It was said here, by a comrade from Samara, I think, that I had stuck the label of syndicalism on the Workers’ Opposition, in an “administrative” fashion. The reference is altogether misplaced, and we must investigate which of the questions calls for an administrative solution. Comrade Milonov tried to score with a terrifying catchword, but it fell flat. He said that I stuck on a label in “administrative” fashion. I have said before that at our meetings Comrade Shlyapnikov and others have accused me of “intimidating” people with the word “syndicalism”. When this was mentioned at one of our discussions, at the Miners’ Congress, I think, I replied to Comrade Shlyapnikov: “Do you hope to take in any grown-ups?” After all, Comrade Shlyapnikov and I have known each other for many, many years, ever since the period of our underground work and emigration—how can he say that I am trying to intimidate anyone by characterising certain deviations? And when I say that the stand of the Workers’ Opposition is wrong, and that it is syndicalism—what has administrating got to do with it?! And why does Comrade Kollontai write that I have been bandying the word “syndicalism” about in frivolous fashion? She ought to produce some proof before saying anything like that. I am prepared to allow that my proof is wrong, and that Comrade Kollontai’s statement is weightier—I am prepared to believe that. But we must have some little proof—not in the form of words about intimidating or administrating (which, unfortunately, my official duties compel me to engage in a great deal), but in the form of a definite reply, refuting my accusation that the Workers’ Opposition is a deviation towards syndicalism.

I made it before the whole Party, with a full sense of responsibility, and it was printed in a pamphlet in 250,000 copies, and everyone has read it. Evidently, all the comrades have prepared for this Congress, and they should know that the syndicalist deviation is an anarchist deviation, and that the Workers’ Opposition, which is hiding behind the backs of the proletariat, is a petty-bourgeois, anarchist element.

That it has been penetrating into the broad masses is evident, and the Party Congress has thrown light on this fact. That this element has become active is proved by Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet and Comrade Shlyapnikov’s theses. And this time you can’t get away with talk about being a true proletarian, as Comrade Shlyapnikov is in the habit of doing.

Comrade Kollontai starts her pamphlet with the following: “The opposition,” we read on page one, “consists of the advanced section of the class-organised proletarians, who are Communists.” A delegate from Siberia told the Miners’ Congress[15] that over there they had discussed the same questions as were being discussed in Moscow, and Comrade Kollontai mentions this in her pamphlet:

“’We had no idea that there were disagreements and discussions in Moscow about the role of the trade unions,’ a delegate from Siberia told the Miners’ Congress, ’but we were set astir by the same questions that you are faced with over here.’”


“The Workers’ Opposition has the backing of the proletarian masses, or, to be more precise: it is the class-welded, class-conscious and class-consistent section of our industrial proletariat.”

Well, thank heaven, we now know that Comrade Kollontai and Comrade Shlyapnikov are “class-welded” and “class conscious”. But, comrades, when you say and write such things you must have some sense of proportion! Comrade Kollontai writes on page 25, and this is one of the main points of the Workers’ Opposition theses, the following:

“The organisation of the management of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers organised in trade and industrial unions, which shall elect a central body to run the whole of the national economy of the Republic.”

That is the very thesis of the Workers’ Opposition that I have quoted in every case in the discussion and in the press. I must say that after reading it I did not trouble to read the rest, as that would have been a waste of time; for that thesis made it quite clear that these people had reached the limit, and that theirs is a petty-bourgeois, anarchist element. Now, in the light of the Kronstadt events, that thesis sounds queerer than ever.

At the Second Congress of the Comintern last summer, I pointed to the significance of the resolution on the role of the Communist Party. It is a resolution uniting the Communist workers and the Communist Parties of the world. It explains everything. Does that mean that we are fencing off the Party from the whole of the working class, which is definitely exercising a dictatorship? That is what certain “Leftists” and very many syndicalists think, and the idea is now widespread. It is the product of petty-bourgeois ideology. The theses of the Workers’ Opposition fly in the face of the decision of the Second Congress of the Comintern on the Communist Party’s role in operating the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is syndicalism because—consider this carefully—our proletariat has been largely declassed; the terrible crises and the closing down of the factories have compelled people to flee from starvation. The workers have simply abandoned their factories; they have had to settle down in the country and have ceased to be workers. Are we not aware of the fact that the unprecedented crises, the Civil War, the disruption of proper relations between town and country and the cessation of grain deliveries have given rise to a trade in small articles made at the big factories—such as cigarette lighters—which are exchanged for cereals, because the workers are starving, and no grain is being delivered? Have we not seen this happen in the Ukraine, or in Russia? That is the economic source of the proletariat’s declassing and the inevitable rise of petty-bourgeois, anarchist trends.

The experience of all our hardships tells us how desperately hard it is to combat them. After two and a half years of the Soviet power we came out in the Communist International and told the world that the dictatorship of the proletariat would not work except through the Communist Party. At the time, the anarchists and syndicalists furiously attacked us and said: “You see, this is what they think—a Communist Party is needed to operate the proletarian dictatorship.[16] But we said this before the whole Communist International. After all this, you have these “class conscious and class-welded” people coming and telling us that “the organisation of the management of the national economy is the function of an All-Russia Congress of Producers” (Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet). What is this “All- Russia Congress of Producers”? Are we going to waste more time on that sort of opposition in the Party? I think we have had enough of this discussion! All the arguments about freedom of speech and freedom to criticise, of which the pamphlet is full and which run through all the speeches of the Workers’ Opposition, constitute nine-tenths of the meaning of these speeches, which have no particular meaning at all. They are all words of the same order. After all, comrades, we ought to discuss not only words, but also their meaning. You can’t fool us with words like “freedom to criticise”. When we were told that there were symptoms of a malaise in the Party, we said that this deserved our redoubled attention: the malaise is undoubtedly there, let us help to cure it; but tell us how you intend to go about it. We have spent quite a lot of time in discussion, and I must say that the point is now being driven farther home with “rifles” than with the opposition’s theses. Comrades, this is no time to have an opposition. Either you’re on this side, or on the other, but then your weapon must be a gun, and not an opposition. This follows from the objective situation, and you mustn’t blame us for it. Comrades, let’s not have an opposition just now! I think the Party Congress will have to draw the conclusion that the opposition’s time has run out and that the lid’s on it. We want no more oppositions! (Applause.)

This group has long been free to criticise. And now, at this Party Congress, we ask: What are the results and the content of your criticism? What have you taught the Party by your criticism? We are prepared to enlist the services of those of you who stand closest to the masses, the really class-welded and class-mature masses. If Comrade Oinsky regards this as political trickery he will be isolated, for the rest will regard it as a real help to Party members. We must really help those who live with the workers’ masses, who have intimate knowledge of them, who have experience and can advise the Central Committee. Let them call themselves what they like—it makes no difference—as long as they help in the work, as long as they help us, instead of playing at opposition and insisting on having groups and factions at all costs. But if they continue this game of opposition, the Party will have to expel them.

And when on this very same page of her pamphlet Comrade Kollontai writes in bold type about “lack of confidence in the working class”, the idea is that they are a real “workers’” opposition. There is an even more striking expression of this idea on page 36:

“The Workers’ Opposition cannot, and must not, make any concessions. This does not mean calling for a split. . . . No, its aim is different. Even in the event of defeat at the Coneress, it must remain within the Party and firmly defend its point of view, step by step, saving the Party and straightening out its line.”

“Even in the event of defeat at the Congress”—my word, what foresight! (Laughter.) You will pardon me if I take the liberty of saying, on my oun behalf, that I am sure that is something the Party Congress will certainly not permit! (Applause.) Everyone has the right to straighten out the Party’s line, and you have had every opportunity of doing so.

The condition has been laid down at the Party Congress that there must not be the slightest suspicion that we want to expel anybody. We welcome every assistance in getting democracy working, but when the people are exhausted it will take more than talk to do it. Everyone who wants to help is to be welcomed; but when they say that they will “make no concessions” and will make efforts to save the Party, while remaining in it, we say: yes, if you are allowed to stay! (Applause.)

In this case, we have no right to leave any room for ambiguity. We certainly need help in combating bureaucracy, safeguarding democracy, and extending contacts with the truly working-class masses. We can and must make “concessions” in this respect. And though they keep saying that they will not make any concessions, we shall repeat: We will. That’s not making concessions but helping the workers’ Party. In this way, we shall win over all the sound and proletarian elements in the Workers’ Opposition to the side of the Party, leaving outside the “class-conscious” authors of syndicalist speeches. (Applause.) This has been done in Moscow. The Moscow Gubernia Conference last November ended up in two rooms: some met in one, others, in another. That was the eve of a split. The last Moscow Conference said, “We will take from the Workers’ Opposition those we want, and not those they want “, because we need the assistance of men who are connected with the masses of workers and who can teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy in practice. This is a difficult task. I think the Party Congress should take note of the Muscovites’ experience and stage a test, not only on this point, but on all the points of the agenda. As a result, the people who declare that they “will make no concessions” must be told: “But the Party will.” We must all pull together. By means of this policy we shall sift the sound elements from the unsound in the Workers’ Opposition, and the Party will be strengthened.

Just think: it was said here that production should be run by an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”. I find myself groping for words to describe this nonsense, but am reassured by the fact that all the Party workers present here are also Soviet functionaries who have been doing their work for the revolution for one, two or three years. It is not worth criticising that sort of thing in their presence. When they hear such tedious speeches they close the discussion, because it is frivolous to speak of an “All-Russia Congress of Producers” running the national economy. A proposal of that kind could be made in a country where the political power has been taken but no start has been made on the work. We have made a start. And it is a curious fact that on page 33 of this pamphlet we find the following:

“The Workers’ Opposition is not so ignorant as to disregard the great role of technique and of technically trained forces. . . . It has no intention to set up its organs of administration of the national economy elected by the Producers’ Congress and then to dissolve the economic councils, chief administrations and central boards. No, the idea is quite different: it is to subordinate these necessary, technically valuable centres of administration to its guidance, assign theoretical tasks to them and use them in the same way as the factory owners once used the services of technical experts.”

In other words, Comrade Kollontai and Comrade Shlyapnikov, and their “class-welded” followers, are to subordinate to their necessary guidance the economic councils, chief administrations and central boards—all the Rykovs, Nogins and other “nonentities”—and assign to them theoretical tasks! Comrades, are we to take that seriously? If you have had any “theoretical tasks”, why had you not assigned them before? Why did we proclaim freedom of discussion? It was not merely to engage in verbal exchanges. During the war we used to say: “This is not the time for criticism: Wrangel is out there. We correct our mistakes by beating Wrangel.” After the war, we hear shouts of “We want freedom of discussion!” When we ask, “Tell us our mistakes!”, we are told, “The economic councils and chief administrations must not be dissolved; they must be assigned theoretical tasks.” Comrade Kiselyov, as a representative of the “class-welded “ Workers ’ Opposition, was left in an insignificant minority at the Miners’ Congress, but, when he was head of the Chief Administration of the Textile Industry, why did he not teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy? Why did not Comrade Shlyapnikov, when he was a People’s Commissar, and Comrade Kollontai, when she too was a People’s Commissar, why did they not teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy? We know that we have a touch of bureaucracy, and we, who have to deal with this bureaucratic machine at first hand, suffer as a result. You sign a paper—but how is it applied in practice? How do you check up on it, when the bureaucratic machine is so enormous? If you know how to make it smaller, dear comrades, please share your knowledge with us! You have a desire to argue, but you give us nothing apart from general statements. Instead, you indulge in demagogy pure and simple. For it is sheer demagogy to say: “The specialists are ill-treating the workers; the workers are leading a life of penal servitude in a toilers’ republic.”

Comrades, I entreat you all to read this pamphlet. You could not find a better argument against the Workers’ Opposition than Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet, The Workers’ Opposition. You will see that this is really no way to approach the question. We all admit that bureaucratic practices are a vexed question, and as much is stated in our Party Programme. It is very easy to criticise the chief administrations and economic councils, but your kind of criticism leads the masses of non-Party workers to think they should be dissolved. The Socialist-Rovolutionaries seize upon this Some Ukrainian comrades have told me that Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, at their conference,[17] formulated their proposals in exactly the same way. And what about the Kronstadt resolutions[18]? You have not all read them? We will show them to you: they say the same thing. I emphasised the danger of Kronstadt because it lies precisely in the fact that the change demanded was apparently very slight: “The Bolsheviks must go . . . we will correct the regime a little.” That is what the Kronstadt rebels are demanding. But what actually happened was that Savinkov arrived in Revel, the Paris newspapers reported the events a fortnight before they actually occurred, and a whiteguard general appeared on the scene. That is what actually happened. All revolutions have gone that way. That is why we are saying: Since we are faced with that sort of thing, we must unite, and, as I said in my first speech, counter it with rifles, no matter how innocent it may appear to be. To this the Workers’ Opposition does not reply, but says: “We shall not dissolve the economic councils but ’subordinate them to our guidance’.” The “All-Russia Congress of .Producers” is to subordinate to its guidance the Economic Council’s 71 chief administrations. I ask you: is that a joke? Can we take them seriously? This is the petty-bourgeois, anarchist element not only among the masses of the workers, but also in our own Party; and that is something we cannot tolerate in any circumstances. We have allowed ourselves a luxury: we gave these people the opportunity to express their opinions in the greatest possible detail and have heard their side of it several times. When I had occasion to debate with Comrades Trotsky and Kiselyov at the Second Miners’ Congress, two points of view were definitely revealed. The Workers’ Opposition said: “Lenin and Trotsky will unite.” Trotsky came out and said: “Those who fail to understand that it is necessary to unite are against the Party; of course we will unite, because we are men of the Party.” I supported him. Of course, Comrade Trotsky and I differed; and when more or less equal groups appear within the Central Committee, the Party will pass judgement, and in a way that will make us unite in accordance with the Party’s will and instructions. Those are the statements Comrade Trotsky and I made at the Miners’ Congress, and repeat here; but the Workers’ Opposition says: “We will make no concessions, but we will remain in the Party.” No, that trick won’t work! (Applause.) I repeat that in combating the evils of bureaucracy we welcome the assistance of every worker, whatever he may call himself, if he is sincere in his desire to help. This help is highly desirable if sincere. In this sense we will make “concessions” (I take the word in quotation marks). No matter how provocative the statements against us, we shall make “concessions” because we know how hard the going is. We cannot dissolve the economic councils and chief administrations. It is absolutely untrue to say that we have no confidence in the working class and that we are keeping the workers out of the governing bodies. We are on the look-out for every worker who is at all fit for managerial work; we are glad to have him and give him a trial. If the Party has no confidence in the working class and does not allow workers to occupy responsible posts, it ought to be ousted! Go on, be logical and say it! I have said that that is not true: we are on our last legs for want of men and we are propared to take any assistance, with both hands, from any efficient man, especially if he is a worker. But we have no men of this type, and this creates the ground for anarchy. We must keep up the fight against the evils of bureaucracy—and it demands hundreds of thousands of men.

Our Programme formulates the task of combating the evils of bureaucracy as one of extremely long duration. The wider the dispersal of the peasantry, the more inevitable are bureaucratic practices at the centre.

It is easy to write things like this: “There is something rotten in our Party.” You know what weakening the Soviet apparatus means when there are two million Russian émigrés abroad. They were driven out by the Civil War. They have gratified us by holding their meetings in Berlin, Paris, London, and all the other capitals but ours. They support this element that is called the small producer, the petty-bourgeois element.

We shall do everything that can be done to eliminate bureaucratic practices by promoting workers from below, and we shall accept every piece of practical advice on this matter. Even if we give this the inappropriate name of “concessions”, as some here have done, there is no doubt that, despite this pamphlet, 99 per cent of the Congress will say, “In spite of this we will make ’concessions’ and win over all that is sound.” Take your place by the side of the workers and teach us how to combat the evils of bureaucracy, if you know how to do it better than we do; but don’t talk as Shlyapnikov has done. That is not the sort of thing that one can brush aside. I shall not deal with the theoretical part of his speech because Kollontai said the same thing. I shall deal with the facts he quoted. He said that potatoes were rotting, and asked why Tsyurupa was not being prosecuted.

But I ask: Why is Shlyapnikov not prosecuted for making such statements? Are we seriously discussing discipline and unity in an organised Party, or are we at a meeting of the Kronstadt type? For his is a Kronstadt, anarchist type of statement, to which the response is a gun. We organised members of the Party, have come here to rectify our mistakes. If Shlyapnikov thinks that Tsyurupa ought to be prosecuted, why had he not, as an organised member of the Party, lodged a complaint with the Control Commission? When we were setting up the Control Commission, we said: The Central Committee is swamped with administrative work. Let us elect people who enjoy the confidence of the workers, who will not have so much administrative work and will be able to examine complaints on behalf of the Central Committee. This created a means of developing criticism and rectifying mistakes. If Tsyurupa was so wrong why was not a complaint lodged with the Control Commission? Instead, Shlyapnikov comes to the Congress, the most responsible assembly of the Party and the Republic, and starts hurling accusations about rotting potatoes, and asking why Tsyurupa is not being prosecuted. But I ask, doesn’t the Defence Department make any mistakes? Are not batt]es lost and waggons and supplies abandoned? Shall we then prosecute the military workers? Comrade Shlyapnikov comes here and hurls accusations which he himself does not believe, and which he cannot prove. Potatoes are rotting. Of course, many mistakes will be made, for our machinery wants adjustment, and our transport is not running smoothly. But when instead of a rectification of our mistakes such accusations are hurled at random, and when, in addition—as several comrades here have noted—there is an undertone of malice in this question of why Tsyurupa is not being prosecuted, then I say: Why not prosecute us, the Central Committee? We think that such talk is demagogy. Either proceedings should be started against Tsyurupa and us, or against Shlyapnikov; but no work can be done in such a spirit. When Party comrades talk as Shlyapnikov has done here—and he always talks like that at other meetings—and Comrade Kollontai’s pamphlet says the same thing, although she mentions no names, we say: We cannot go on like this, for it is the kind of demagogy that the Makhno anarchists and the Kronstadt elements jump at. We are both members of the Party, and both of us are standing before this most responsible tribunal. If Tsyurupa has committed an unlawful act and we, the Central Committee, have condoned it, then why not come out with a definite charge, instead of throwing about words that will be caught up here, in Moscow, tomorrow, and immediately carried by the grapevine telegraph to the bourgeoisie. Tomorrow all the gossips in the Soviet offices will be rubbing their hands in glee and repeating your words with delight. If Tsyurupa is the kind of man Shlyapnikov accuses him of being, and if, as he demands, he ought to be prosecuted, then I say that we must seriously ponder over his words; such accusations are not lightly made. Those who make accusations of this sort should be either removed from the Party or told: We are putting you on this potato job; you go to such and such a gubernia and let’s see whether you have less rotting potatoes than in the gubernias under Tsyurupa’s charge.

Preliminary Draft Resolution On Improving
The Condition Of Workers And Needy Peasants

The exhaustion caused by the privation and the calamities and havoc of the seven-year war, and the overstrain due to the virtually superhuman exertions on the part of the working class of Russia over the past three and a half years, have now been so aggravated that they demand urgent measures on the part of the Soviet power.

The Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. accordingly demands that the whole Party and all Party and Soviet establishments should redouble their attention to this question and immediately work out measures to improve the condition of the workers and ease their hardships at all costs.

The Congress approves of the decision taken by the Central Committee and the Soviet Government to release a part of the gold reserve for the purchase of consumer goods for the workers, and demands an extension of this measure and an immediate amendment, with that end in view, of our import plan.

The Congress authorises the Central Committee to set up a special Central Commission to implement urgent measures to improve the condition of the workers, which should be organised in such a way as to work in close contact with, on the one hand, the Central Committee of the R.C.P. and the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions, and, on the other, with the Council of People’s Commissars and the Council of Labour and Defence, for the swiftest implementation of the measures to be adopted, and to allow the workers themselves to exercise control over the implementation of these measures. The Commission must set up sub-commissions in the Commissariats which are in the best position right away to assign a part of their machinery and resources to help improve the condition of the workers (People’s Commissariats for Foreign Trade, Food, Defence, and Health, the Government Buildings Committee, etc.). Sub-commissions are especially needed in the gubernias where industrial workers are chiefly concentrated. The Congress entrusts the Central Committee and Party workers of the Commissariats concerned to work out an ordinance governing the operation of these commissions without delay.

In view of the acute hardships inflicted on the peasantry by the crop failure—in very many cases aggravated by the demobilisation of the army—the Tenth Congress authorises the Central Committee to take, through the Council of People’s Commissars and the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, measures similar to those outlined above to improve the condition of needy peasants, without confining itself to the commission earlier set up for that purpose by the All-Russia Central Executive Committee.

Published according to the manuscript

Speech On The Trade Unions

March 14

Comrades, Comrade Trotsky was particularly polite in his polemics with me today and reproached me for being, or said that I was, extremely cautious. I thank him for the compliment, but regret that I cannot return it. On the contrary, I must speak of my incautious friend, so as to express my attitude to the mistake which has caused me to waste so much time, and which is now making us continue the debate on the trade union question, instead of dealing with more urgent matters. Comrade Trotsky had his final say in the discussion on the trade union question in Pravda of January 29, 1921. In his article, “There Are Disagreements, But Why Confuse Things?”, he accused me of being responsible for this confusion by asking who started it all. The accusation recoils on Trotsky, for he is trying to shift the blame. The whole of his article was based on the claim that he had raised the question of the role of the trade unions in production, and that this is the subject that ought to have been discussed. This is not true; it is not this that has caused the disagreements, and made them painful. And however tedious it may be after the discussion to have to repeat it again and again—true, I took part in it for only one month—I must restate that that was not the starting point; it started with the “shake-up” slogan that was proclaimed at the Fifth All-Russia Conference of Trade Unions on November 2-6.[19] Already at that time it was realised by every one who had not overlooked Rudzutak’s resolution—and among those were the members of the Central Committee, including myself—that no disagreements could be found on the role of the trade unions in production. But the three month discussion revealed them. They existed, and they were a political mistake. During a discussion at the Bolshoi Theatre, Comrade Trotsky accused me before responsible Party workers of disrupting the discussion.[20] I take that as a compliment: I did try to disrupt the discussion in the form it was being conducted, because with a severe spring ahead of us such pronouncements were harmful. Only the blind could have failed to see that.

Comrade Trotsky now laughs at my asking who started it all, and is surprised that I should reproach him for refusing to serve on the commission. I did it because this is very important, Comrade Trotsky, very important, indeed; your refusal to serve on the trade union commission was a violation of Central Committee discipline. And when Trotsky talks about it, the result is not a controversy, but a shake up of the Party, and a generation of bitter feeling; it leads to extremes—Comrade Trotsky used the expression “diabolical rage”. I recall an expression used by Comrade Holtzmann—I will not quote it because the word “diabolical” calls to mind something fiendish, whereas Holtzmann reminds one of something angelic. There is nothing “diabolical” about it, but we must not forget that both sides go to extremes, and, what is much more monstrous, some of the nicest comrades have gone to extremes. But when Comrade Trotsky’s authority was added to this, and when in a public speech on December 25 he said that the Congress must choose between two trends, such words are unpardonable! They constitute the political mistake over which we are flghting. And it is naïve for people to try to be witty about two-room conferences. I should like to see the wag who says that Congress delegates are forbidden to confer to prevent their votes from being split. That would be too much of an exaggeration. It was Comrade Trotsky and Tsektran’s political mistake to raise the “shake-up” question and to do it in an entirely wrong way. That was a political mistake, and it is yet to be rectified. As regards transport, we have a resolution.[21]

What we are discussing is the trade union movement, and the relationship between the vanguard of the working class and the proletariat. There is nothing discreditable in our dismissing anybody from a high post. This casts no reflection upon anybody. If you have made a mistake the Congress will recognise it assuch and will restore mutual relations and mutual confidence between the vanguard of the working class and the workers’ mass. That is the meaning of the “Platform of Ten”.[22] It is of no importance that there are things in it that can be substituted, and that this is emphasised by Trotsky and enlarged upon by Ryazanov. Someone said in a speech that there is no evidence of Lenin’s having taken a hand in the platform or of his having taken any part in drafting it. I say to this: If I had a hand, by writing or phoning, in everything I sign, I would have gone mad long ago. I say that in order to estab]ish mutual relations and mutual confidence between the vanguard of the working class and the workers’ mass, it was necessary, if Tsektran had made a mistake—and anyone can make a mistake—to rectify it. But it is a source of political danger to defend the mistake. We would have been faced with political bankruptcy if we had not done everything we could to turn the attitudes expressed here by Kutuzov to the service of democracy. Persuasion must come before coercion. We must make every effort to persuade people before applying coercion. We were not able to carry conviction to the broad masses, and disturbed the correct relationship between them and the vanguard.

When people like Kutuzov devote part of a business-like speech to pointing out the scandalous bureaucratic practices in our machinery we say: That is true, our state is one with bureaucratic distortions. And we invite the non-Party workers to join us in righting them. I must say here that we should enlist comrades like Kutuzov for this work and promote them. That is the lesson of our experience.

As for the syndicalist deviation—it is ridiculous. That is all we have to say to Shlyapnikov, who maintained that the “All-Russia Congress of Producers”, a demand set down in black and white in their platform and confirmed by Kollontai, can be upheld by a reference to Engels. Engels speaks of a communist society which will have no classes, and will consist only of producers.[23] Do we now have classes? Yes, we do. Do we have a class struggle? Yes, and a most furious one! To come in the midst of this furious class struggle and talk about an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”,— isn’t that a syndicalist deviation which must be emphatically and irrevocably condemned? We saw that in this platform hurly-burly even Bukharin was tripped up by the one-third nomination proposal. Comrades, in the history of the Party we must not forget such waverings.

And now, since the Workers’ Opposition has defended democracy, and has made some sound demands, we shall do our utmost to mend our fences with it; and the Congress as such should make a definite selection. You say that we are not doing enough to combat the evils of bureaucracy—come and help us, come closer and help us in the fight; but it is not a Marxist, not a communist notion to propose an “All-Russia Congress of Producers”. The Workers Opposition, with Ryazanov’s help, is putting a false construction on our Programme which says: “The trade unions should eventually arrive at a de facto concentration in their hands of the whole administration of the whole national economy, as a single economic entity.”[24] Exaggerating, as he always does, Shlyapnikov thinks that it will take us twenty-five centuries. . . . The Programme says: the trade unions “should eventually arrive”, and when a Congress says that this has been done, the demand will have been carried out.

Comrades, if the Congress now declares before the proletariat of the whole of Russia and of the whole world that it regards the proposals of the Workers’ Opposition as a syndicalist semi-deviation, I am sure that all the truly proletarian and sound elements in the opposition will follow us and help us to regain the confidence of the masses, which has been shaken by Tsektran’s slight mistake. I am sure that we shall strengthen and rally our ranks in a common effort and march forward together to the hard struggle that lies ahead. And marching forward unanimously, with firmness and resolution, we shall win out. (Applause.)


[13] A Moscow Gubernia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) took place in the Kremlin from November 20 to 22, 1920. It was attended by 289 delegates with voice and vote, and 89, with voice only. On its agenda were reports on the activity of the Moscow Party Committee, the international and domestic situation and the Party’s tasks, the state of the country’s economy, and production propaganda.

The atmosphere at the Conference was very tense, because the Bolsheviks had to fight against the anti-Party groups of Democratic Centralism, the Workers’ Opposition and the Ignatovites, who made demagogic attacks on the Party’s policy. The Workers’ Opposition tried to get as many of their supporters on the Moscow Committee as possible and called a special meeting of worker delegates in the Mitrofanyevsky Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace, while the other delegates had a meeting in the Sverdlovsky Hall.

At the afternoon sitting on November 21, Lenin spoke on the international and domestic situation and the Party’s tasks, and later, on the elections to the Moscow Committee.

Led by Lenin, the Conference beat back the anty-Party attacks.

[14] The Ninth All-Russia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.) was held in Moscow from September 22 to 25, 1920. Its 241 delegates (116 with voice and vote, and 125, with voice only) represented 700,000 Party members. On its agenda were: 1) Report by a representative of the Polish Comlllunists; 2) Political report of the C.C., 3) Organisational report of the C.C., 4) The current tasks of Party organisation; 5) Report of a commission on the study of the history of the Party, 6) Report on the Second Congress of the Comintern.

At the first sitting Lenin gave the political report of the Central Committee, dealing mainly with peace negotiations with Poland and preparations for defeating Wrangel. The Conference adopted a unanimous resolution on the terms of a peace treaty with Poland.

Having discussed the current tasks of Party organisation, the Conference rejected the views of the Democratic Centralism group, which tried to discredit the one-man management system in industry, and to oppose Party discipline and the Party’s leading role in the Soviets and trade unions.

A resolution, “The Current Tasks of Party Organisation”, motioned by Lenin, outlined some measures for strengthening the Party and its leading role in the Soviet state, and developing inner-Party democracy, and also measures against the excesses of bureaucracy in Soviet administrative bodies and economic agencies. The Conference deemed it necessary to set up a Control Commission alongside the Central Conumittee, and special Party commissions under gubernia committees, to combat various abuses and to inquire into complaints filed by Communists.

[15] The Second Congress of Miners was held in Moscow’s Trade Union House from January 25 to February 2, 1921. Its 295 delegates with voice and vote, and 46 with voice only, represented over 332,000 members of the Miners’ Trade Union. Lenin and Kalinin were elected Honorary Chairmen.

The Congress heard and discussed a report of the Minors’ Trade Union Contral Committee and reports of the Mining Council and its chief administrations; discussed fuel supply, organisation of production and other problems.

From January 22 to 24, the R.C.P.(B.) group had four meetings to discuss the trade unions’ role and tasks. Lenin gave a report on January 23 and the absolute majority of the group voted for his platform.

The Congress helped to mobilise the people to combat the fuel crisis and to work out production programmes for the mining industry.

Lenin is quoting a speech by a Siberian delegate from Kollontai’s pamphlet, The Workers Oppostion (Moscow, 1921). The text quoted by Kollontai is not in the report of the Siberian delegate as it is given in the Minutes of the Second Congress of Miners.

[16] The reference is to the speeches of Angel Pestana, of the Spanish National Confederation of Labour, and of Jack Tanner, of the British Shop Stewards Committee, at the sitting of the Second Congress of the Comintern of July 23, 1920.

[17] The reference is to the Kharkov non-Party City Conference on March 5-6, 1921, on the food problem. It was attended by about 2,000 delegates. Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks sharply criticised the activity of economic and food supply bodies, but the Conference did not support their resolution. On the report of the Chairman of the Kharkov Gubernia Executive Committee it adopted a resolution mapping out concrete measures to improve the workers’ food supplies.

[18] The reference is to the anti-Soviet documents of the Kronstadt mutineers: a resolution of a general meeting of the battleships’ 1st and 2nd brigades on March 1, and the provisional committee’s appeal, “To the Population of the Fortress and the Town of Kronstadt”, issued on March 2, 1921.

[19] The Conference was held in Moscow from November 2 to 6, 1920, and was attended by 202 delegates with voice and vote, and 59, with voice only. The tasks of peaceful socialist construction demanded a reorganisation of trade union activity on the basis of greater democratisation, and this was opposed by Trotsky. At the Communist group meeting on November 3, he demanded the immediate “governmentalisation” of the trade unions, and the introduction of military methods of command and administration. His speech started the Party discussion on the trade unions, but his demands were rejected by the Communist delegates.

Y. E. Rudzutak gave a report on the trade unions’ tasks in industry. The Conference adopted his theses, which were based on Lenin’s ideas that it was necessary to enhance the role of the trade unions in industry, develop democratic principles in their work, and strengthen the Party’s leadership in the trade union movement. These ideas were later developed in the resolution “The Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions”, adopted by the Tenth Party Congress. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 534-49). p. 210

[20] The reference is to Trotsky’s speech at a joint meeting of Communist delegates to the Eighth Congress of Soviets and Communist members of the All-Russia Central Council of Trade Unions and the Moscow City Council of Trade Unions on December 30, 1920.

[21] The resolution on railway and water transport and its further development was adopted by the Eighth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on December 29, 1920.

[22] The “Platform of Ten” (“Draft Decision of the Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) on the Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions”) was worked out during the trade union discussion in November 1920 and signed by V. I. Lenin, F. A. Sergeyev (Artyom), G. Y. Zinoviev, M. I. Kalinin, L. B. Kamenev, S. A. Lozovsky, J. V. Stalin, M. P. Tomsky, Y. E. Rudzutak and G. I. Petrovsky. The Tenth Congress’s resolution on the role and tasks of the trade unions was based on the “Platform of 10”, which was supported by the majority of Party members. See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, pp. 534-49).

[23] See Engels, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. II, Moscow, 1962, p. 322).

[24] See K.P.S.S. v rezolutsiakh . . . (The C.P.S.U. in the Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and C.C. Plenary Meetings, Part 1, 1954, p. 422).