G. Zinoviev

The Consolidation of the Party
and its New Tasks

(5 May 1922)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 32/33, 5 May 1922, pp. 254–256.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, December 2019.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Theses of comrade G. Zinoviev delivered at the 11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party and confirmed by the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party.

  1. The last few years’ work of the Party have clearly shown with what difficulties a proletarian party has to contend after capturing power, especially in a country the majority of whose population is non-proletarian. In the last 4½ revolutionary years the party has done a tremendous amount of work and accomplished heroic deeds in the civil war At the same time the Party is now faced with enormous difficulties with which it was previously unacquainted.
  2. Since the party became the government party, there have begun to creep into it strange careerist elements. (An unavoidable occurrence.) These elements, for the greater part, consist of those expelled in the last All-Russian Party purification. In order to guard itself against such sneaking elements in the future, the party will also in future take similar purifying measures.
  3. At the same time, however, Communists must consider the following circumstances. In order to ensure the victory of the proletariat, and to maintain its dictatorship during the bitterest civil war, the advance guard of the proletariat was obliged to withdraw the right of organization from all political groups which were antagonistic to the Soviet government. The Russian Communist Party became the sole legal political party of the country. This was of course a very advantageous circumstance for the working-class and its party. It has on the other hand produced other results which greatly complicate the work of the party. Such bodies and groups who under other conditions would not have belonged to the Communist Party, but to the Social Democratic Partv or some other variety of petty-bourgeois Socialism, naturally entered the only legal political party, in order to make use of their strength. These elements which at times hold a sincere belief in Communism remain, in actuality, petty-bourgeois and bring their petty-bourgeois psychology and ideology into the party.
  4. As a result of the trying years of the imperialist and civil wars the number of workers tn Russia became considerably reduced. The hard conditions of the last years or so have led to a considerable dilution of the proletarian class. This is only a temporary phenomenon but it has been perceptible during the last years. Some of the workers have scattered themselves over the countryside; a part have entered the Red Army. Many previous industrial workers can now hardly maintain themselves and often change their occupation and residence ... The State apparatus absorbs many thousands of the best workers who in this way are withdrawn from the factories and workshops. As a result of all these factors the structure of the Party has of recent years become less homogeneous.
  5. Although the Russian Communist Party is a proletarian party it cannot refuse to accept peasants and clerks. A considerable number of half-peasants and half-workers regularly enter the Party through the Red Army. Nor can the Party refuse entrance to these elements. It must, however, pay close and continual regard to its social composition and take every means to ensure the execution of a proletarian policy not merely in words but in fact.
  6. The new economic policy brings many new difficulties to the Party. The transition from those conditions which existed while Communism was conducting a war to the work under the new conditions creates a quite new and varied set of relationships. A Workers’ Party realized through the Dictatorship of the Proletariat cannot permit the organization of forces inimical to the proletarian revolution. The fact that the Party considers the partial restoration of Capitalism as unavoidable makes it necessary that it should at the same time take the most active part in controlling the relationships arising therefrom. At the same time two things are required from the members of the Party: to learn to trade, buy and sell advantageously for the state, and also not to lose touch with the masses. On the other hand the most active portion of the Party membership must devote itself to the economic and commercial questions which at present are unsolved in the capitalist problem. On the other hand the same most active members must fight most energetically against the capitalistic conditions, show the masses the real way to Socialism, and undertake the most self-sacrificing work for its realization.

    The work of the Party under the conditions of the new economic policy produces new and complicated results. A part of the “Communistic” peasants with petty-bourgeois psychology begin to leave the Party as the Party hampers them in their capacity of small producers. The petty-bourgeois wave carries certain other elements, and even vacillating workers along with it. Thanks to these secessions the Party will undergo a second purifying process which will complete the process which the Party itself inaugurated. Provided the nucleus of the Party adopts the right conduct, the new economic policy becomes not less homogeneous and proletarian, but on the contrary more homogeneous and proletarian.
  7. Agitation and propaganda were the chief tasks of the proletarian Party before the attainment of power. One an almost say that up to the October Revolution our whole Party had the same functions as its present Party Agitation Bureau. Because our Party at present conducts the political and economic life of the whole country every Party organization is obliged in some form or other to participate energetically in the whole manifold economic, administrative, educational, and political life of the transition period. In consequence there is a systematic growth of the Party apparatus which serves the Party organization. This apparatus gradually grew, became a little bureaucratic and absorbed a tremendous quantity of energy. To reduce this portion of the Party apparatus considerably is one of the most important tasks of our Party, a task which the Central Committee and the organizations already have in hand.
  8. The conditions of the Party organizations in different parts of our country vary entirely according to the social structure of the population and so forth. In analyzing the inner condition of the Party one must always bear in mind that the position of the party organisations, for example, in Moscow, Petrograd and Ivanovo-Vosnesensk differs considerably from those, for instance of Siberia where the peasants possess a tremendous influence even among the Communists, or in the Border Republics, etc. It is one of the tasks of the Party to differentiate the work and to take into consideration the difference between the organizations in which the industrial city workers preponderate and the remainder.
  9. Such a differentiation of the conditions of the work of the Party in the various districts of Russia in no wise contradicts the principle of centralization. Without the strictest carrying out of a centralizing process it will not be possible tor the Party to govern an area comprizing almost a sixth of the Earth’s surface.
  10. The first All-Russian Party purging process has in general proceeded satisfactorily. The Party must, however, be fully aware that a great deal of work is yet necessary in order io surmount the dangers which threaten it. The conditions of the transition period doubtless contain the potential possibility of the deterioration of the Party’s social composition and of its becoming tainted with petty-bourgeois influence. The proletarian nucleus of the Party must always be alive to this danger and take all the requisite measures against it.
  11. For the next few years the chief aim of the Communist Party of Russia must be not the quantitative increase of its membership, but its qualitative improvement. The unrelenting labor of improving the Party membership is the most important task of the next year or so. The stormy years of the civil war made it impossible to pay sufficient attention to the betterment of the Marxist education and the raising of the cultural level of the average member. The next few years must be equally devoted to this most important task. The Party nucleus must set itself the task of not merely raising the standard of theoretical knowledge of the Party members but of helping them to become qualified in an economic capacity. With this end – the attainment oi economic capability – in view the Party will group its members in the economic organizations, in the trade-unions and m the communist Youth organizations. The entire work is to be so conducted, as to enable the highest possible number of members materially to improve their allotted activity, to acquire detailed and special knowledge in this or that branch and gradually to deepen it. After the conclusion of the mass purging, which has rid the Party of the careerist and selfish elements, there will take place a gradual selection of the best members of the Party according to their capacity for the work of raising the level of national economy, for fighting bureaucracy, etc.

With a view to the gradual realization of the objects exposed above, the 11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party resolves:

  1. To ratify the Resolution of the All-Russian Party Conference of 1921 on the question of the consolidation of the Party, with due regard to making best use of the experiences and the testing of the personnel of the Party.
  2. To confirm the resolutions and decisions of the Conference of Secretaries of District Committees, the District Bureaus and Provincial Committees of the Russian Communist Party from 27th to 29th December 1921.
  3. The Congress especially emphasizes and confirms that portion of these resolutions, which demand the following:

    The organization of Marxist classes of a higher type, particularly workers’ classes, organization of Marxist Clubs and Associations for the discussion of current topics and above all the carrying out of the organization of Party Schools of the intermediate and highest types, energetic, attentive and comprehensive work on behalf of the Youth and the organizing of classes for self-culture for the benefit of the non-party workers.
  4. To effect a change of conditions for admission to the Russian Communist Party in order to check the entrance of not purely proletarian and unprepared elements into the Party. The clause in the Party Statutes dealing with this (Paragraph 2, Section 6) is changed as follows: during the year 1922 up to the 12th Party Congress, workers, peasants and members of the Red Army will only be admitted into the Communist Party of Russia upon the recommendation of three members of the Party who nave belonged to the Party for at least three years and with the confirmation of the Provincial Committee. Officials, etc., will only be admitted to the Party for at least five years, and only with the confirmation of the Provincial Committee.
  5. The institution for Candidates or for sympathizers is to receive closer attention. By rendering the conditions of entrance into the party more stringent the importance of the Candidates’ Institution will increase.

    The clause of the Party Statutes dealing therewith (Paragraph 2, Section 7) is changed as follows: The 11th Congress decides that in the case of workers and peasants the period of Candidature for Party membership shall be at least 6 months and in all other cases a year. Paragraph 2, Sections 8 and 9, of the Party Statutes with regard to the payment of membership fees by Candidates and with regard io their right to attend open general meetings of the Party with a voice but no vote remains in force.
  6. The Party groups in factories and workshops must safeguard the interests of production and at the same time represent the daily interests of the workers. They must through the personal behavior and conduct of their members provide an example of careful and eager attention to general economic interests. They shall reduce the commandeering of their members to a minimum. They shall do their best to ensure that all members of the group are engaged in actual production and that in general non-party workers be commandeered. They are to assist the management of factories and works in cases where it is actually in the interests of the general welfare. They shall not allow the masters, etc., to shelter themselves behind the Party group in the not very rare instances where the management treats the working men and women according to the old pre-revolutionary methods.

    The Congress agrees in principle with the idea of the dissolution of the special Party groups in the Soviet institutions and the transfer of their members to the workers’ organizations. The Congress entrusts the Central Committee with the carrying out ol this decision in accordance with local conditions and in collaboration with the various Provincial Committees.
  7. The chief activities of the Party shall be devoted to the working class. We must at all costs put an end to those conditions where the number of the members of our Party groups in large factories and important industrial villages is very small. The data of the All-Russian Census will inform us of the exact state of affairs. The Central and the Government Committees shall return a number of Communist workers from government institutions, etc., to the workshops. The 11th Congress of the Communist Party of Russia categorically charges the local Organizations and the Central Committee with the carrying out at all costs of this decision.
  8. The Congress desires a suitable distribution of work for the most active members of the Party. They should be granted the possibility of carefully acquiring a knowledge of one or another branch of Party, trade-union, Soviet and economic work. The transfer of Party workers from one position to another must be reduced to a minimum. A better training in business and a more expert specialization than has obtained hitherto are among the most important tasks of our Party. The Congress instructs the Central Committee to make the solution of this problem a special object. The completion of the All-Russian Party membership census will in a relatively short time contribute toward the solution of this problem.

    It is necessary to carry out a distribution of work – be it in a most crude and elementary form – for the members of the Provincial Committees and their Executives, and for all the highest Party and State Organs.
  9. Especially hard is the material situation of the average member of the Party, particularly those active party comrades who cannot work in the workshops because their work for the Party keeps them from it. As a result of the new economic policy these conditions will become untenable. The Congress instructs the Central Committee to adopt all measures in order to provide this inner group which undertakes the chief work of the Party and in the work of the Party plays the same role as the non-commissioned officers in the Red Army. The Party cannot ask for privileges for its members. It is however its right and duty to ensure bread and tolerable conditions of life to those whose energies are completely absorbed in the hard, soul-wearying but very valuable organizing and other work in the local party organizations, in the cities, provinces, and districts. It is imperatively necessary that the institution of mutual help be put on a more rational basis.

    The local branches and the Central Committee must demand that in the event of inevitable mobilizations and commandeering of particular comrades and groups of members proper care is taken of the families left behind by the mobilized comrades, at least to a reasonable extent. Special attention must be paid to the comrades demobilized from the Army, who after their return from the front find themselves in a very difficult situation.
  10. The Party must be fully conscious of the dangers bound up with the new economic policy. It should fight moot energetically against all attempts to use the new economic policy as a means of planting bourgeois morality within the Party. The attempts of the “Communist" directors of State or economic bureaus to enrich themselves must be ruthlessly repressed. To this end the activities of the Provincial and All-Russian Control Commissions should be perfected. These Commissions should be composed of experienced comrades. Party quarrels and “fraction-forming” which perfectly paralyzes the Party at many points should be ruthlessly suppressed. The Congress instructs the Central Committee in its fight against such “fraction-forming” to have recourse to the means of Party expulsion.
  11. The correct division of work between the Party and the Soviet institutions, the exact definition of the rights and duties of this and that, is the most important problem of the Party at the present time. The 8th Congress of the Russian Communist Party stated in its resolution on the Organization Problem (See paragraph The mutual relationships between the Party and the Soviets ) that:

“The functions of the Party organs shall be strictly separated from the functions of the Soviets, which are State organs. A confusion of functions would have very harmful results, especially in the military sphere ... The Party is endeavoring to direct the activity of the Soviets but not to replace it.

The 11th Congress of the Russian Communist Party confirms this declaration and lays especial emphasis upon it. Before us stands the huge problem of restoring economic life, which will require years of unwearied effort. This problem can only be solved provided there exist proper and healthy relationships between the Party organizations and the economic organizations. As the Party in 1919 declared that the confusion of functions would be harmful for military affairs, so in 1922 it declares that such confusion of functions would be harmful in economic affairs.

The Party organizations must never interfere in the daily current work of the economic organs. They are obliged to abstain from making administrative dispositions within the area of Soviet Work. The Party organizations shall direct the activities of the economic organs but in no way attempt to replace these or to transform their machinery. The lack of strict demarcation of functions and the meddling by incompetent officials have resulted in the failure of each individual being strictly and definitely responsible for the tasks allotted to him. This leads to an increase of bureaucracy in the Party organs themselves, which do everything and nothing. It hinders the earnest specialization of the economic worker, the mastering of problems in all details, and the acquirement of real expert knowledge. In one word, it hinders the proper organisation of work.

The Party organizations should concern themselves with the definite guidance of the Soviet and economic organa. They shall select the leading prominent workers and raise all the Party members working in these organs. The Party organization must explain to the working masses the significance of the new economic policy, especially the importance and significance of the commercial operations which under the conditions obtaining in Soviet Russia have become a means to setting up the Socialist structure. The Party organizations must fight against prejudices which hinder the proper development of economic activity.

The Party organizations carry on their agitation not in the abstract but adapt it to the economic problems of a given time at a given place. Party organizations shall in no wise limit themselves to those stereotyped forms of agitation connected with this or that particular “Agitation Week” which happens to be going on. They shall through their members awaken and develop a real and earnest interest for economic problems. The Party organizations are to select their best workers for the immediate work in the economic organs. The Party organizations themselves will only solve the economic problems when they actually carry through the principal decisions of the Party.

Last updated: 29 December 2019