G. Zinoviev

In the International

The Interior Policy of the
Communist Party of Russia

Extract from Zinoviev’s speech at the All-Russian Convention of the C.P.R.

(August 1922)

Source: International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 71, 23 August 1922, p. 532.
On-line Publication: Zinoviev Internet Archive, May 2020.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Be assured we shall never renounce repression. The reactionary cooperator who thinks that in cooperation he has a weapon to restore the old regime, will be hit severely. But the cooperatives are a formidable machine of our social life which we ought to be able to conquer by an effort at penetration, which may last for years.

The trade unions have always been nearer to us. We have spent ten years in winning them. It was only at the beginning of the October Revolution that we began to be the majority. But it is the social composition of the cooperatives that keeps us away from them. Our party has done little work in them, and now is the time for us to concentrate all our forces; and those militants among us who wish to recourse to repressive measures are ill advised.

We have in Petrograd universities which discuss the democratic qualities of the League of Nations and the mistakes of the Russo-German treaty. Yes, comrades, these things are told and listened to by audiences of thousands of students. And this “academic” propaganda goes hand in hand with a great counter-revolutionary agitation. Manifestos, which say that Russia “has been deceived” in the Rapallo treaty are being circulated, in the streets and shops.

The university chairs are striving to become the seats of politics. We must realize this, and counter their designs, not only by repressive means, which we shall never renounce, but above all by other means; we must find men in our ranks who are capable of conquering the universities.

In 1920–21 this would have been ridiculous. Those among our comrades who were adapted for university teaching, we sent to the front. Our Communist savants met their death fighting. But in 1922 it is otherwise. In 1922 we must conquer the dominating positions in the university.

In Moscow, in Ekaterinoburg, the cooperators founded institutions which carried on a systematic counter-revolutionary propaganda. We have closed this sort of schools and will continue to do so. But it is more important for us to capture the cooperative schools that will train cooperative organizers for our immense peasant country. And here again repression is not everything.

The strength of our Party lies in the fact that when if has had to solve a problem by force it has not hesitated to use the rifle and to defend itself; it has not hesitated to crush the resistance of its enemies by pitiless measures. The strength of our Party lies in having dared to use power with a strong hand. Power is only an arm; a tool of the working class in the transformation of our vast country, a sixth of the total area of the globe, and in the establishment of a new society. I have spoken of the thirst for knowledge which one meets everywhere, in every town, in every Russian hamlet. This is a new and formidable factor. In 1917–18 this was either non-existent or kept down by other more important factors. But to-day we see it, and woe to the revolutionary party that does not know how to reply. Look at our young workers, our young peasants, our tens of thousands of youths, who form the ranks of the proletarian army. These young intellectuals, half peasant, half proletarian, have an irresistible need of knowing and understanding. And the professors, born of the old regime offer them a poisoned cup. In all our great cities, in nearly all our universities, professors of bourgeois origin are attempting consciously to poison the minds of the sons of our revolutionary working masses. What then is our task? Our task is to proceed with the work of educating the rising generation. To some of the comrades this will perhaps appear an excessive demand. “We have”, you will say to me, “perhaps a man or two in every district; but we cannot find a president for the District Soviets. Our militants are too young; we lack men.” I realize that the general standard of education among our comrades is still too low. Our Party, in the condition in which it emerged from civil war, appears perhaps at first glance too feeble to fulfill this task. But we have accomplished even greater tasks. And we shall come out victorious in this one too.

For some years we cannot hope for any great success. But if we succeed in applying the principles of the October Revolution, in making them real and living, our political adversaries, the Mensheviki and S.R.’s who are aping as faithful servants of the revolution, will be quickly unmasked.

When the workers see that their standard of life is being improved (and that will not be long delayed), and that we have succeeded in organizing the stale well, it will be a question of liquidating the parties that are hostile to us, in so much organized force. We are in good trim and have good prospects. The years experience allow me to state that the hopes of our adversaries have not met with any success. They hoped to see interior conflicts in our Party, as a result of our new economic policy. It is they who have been disorganized. And if we remain in good trim, the organized enemy forces of the Soviets in Russia will disappear of their own accord. But this process, of the highest importance, can only evolve parallel with the solution of economic problems.

Last updated: 5 May 2020