The Eleventh Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was held from March 27th to April 2nd in 1922. The congress was the last attended by Lenin in person and the second to last congress before his death in 1924. This post will analysis the Political Report of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) given by Lenin which underlines the main task of the government and Party for the coming year.
One year of the New Economic Policy
The Congress marked one year of the N.E.P, which was passed at the Tenth Party congress the previous year. At the beginning of his report Lenin states plainly that the N.E.P has not had the desired effects as of yet and then proceeds to highlight three lessons the previous year has taught the Party and the Country.
Lesson 1: Establishing a Link
Lenin points out that the main task of the country and party should be to firmly establish the link between the “new socialist economy” and the “old peasant economy”. He states that the Party until now has had the urgent task of repelling foreign invasion, be it the Entente, German imperialist, or the internal counter revolution, and because of this had to place significant burden on the peasantry. These threats are also what lead to the rapid development of the “new socialist ecnomey” without the peasant economy, which shattered the link between the two. However, Lenin justifies this rapid development as it was needed in light of the desperate circumstances the country found itself in the early years after the Revolution.
“But the fact that we began to develop this new economy with such splendid audacity does not mean that we must necessarily continue in the same way. Why should we? There is no reason.”Vladimir Lenin
Lenin then highlights the fact that even though this rapid development was needed for the time, now it his harmful, and threatens the very existence of the Proletarian State. Now that the threat of foreign invasion has subsided, (not completely disappeared), the main task was now to provide the peasants with practical solutions, not Communist ideals. One of the most critical things to remember, Lenin notes is that the peasants were providing the Communist with time and understanding to show that they can indeed run the country effectively, and if the Communist were unable to show the peasants that they could run the country effectively, they would then indeed be “sent to the devil”.
Lesson 2: The Competition between State and Capitalist Enterprises
Following the establishment of the N.E.P, mixed state and bourgeois companies were formed, while many comrades at the time viewed these companies with suspicion, Lenin held a more of a practical view of them. He felt that these companies provided “practical competition” between capitalist and socialist methods.
“The capitalist was able to supply things. He did it inefficiently, charged exorbitant prices, and insulted and robbed us. The ordinary workers and peasants, who do not argue about communism because they do not know what it is, are well aware of this.”Vladimir Lenin
Here Lenin is trying to stress that the most important task at the present moment is the country’s economy and is driving home the point that Communist must learn practical work to benefit the people. He then states that it does not matter how many good Communist we have, because if they can not run the economy, then they are not worth even a few capitalist.
3rd lesson: State Capitalism
Lenin begins this part of his speech by stating that all the material written about State capitalism, even that written by Marx was not applicable to Russia, because of one crucial point. That all the material written about state capitalism up until now was written about state capitalism under a capitalist state, not a Proletarian one. This is critical Lenin points out, because once again the Soviet State was navigating through uncharted waters, and thus had to find its own way. Lenin then acknowledges that the job of the Proletarian state under state capitalism was to regulate and control capitalism, and at present the Soviet State had all the resources it needed to do so, other than the “ability”. And that more practical and effective methods of administration and control must be established before it could be properly regulated.
“Capitalism under a proletarian state is capitalism we can and must permit to satisfy the peasantry.”Vladimir Lenin
Grasping the main link
At the end of Lenin’s speech he outlines some more areas of practical work the Bolsheviks can improve on. The first, is the essential task of the reduction of “red tape” and placing the right people in the right jobs. This task is essential in efforts to improve the administrative capabilities of the state. This also meant utilizing and learning from the capitalist proper ways of running the economy. And secondly he once again stresses the need to provide practical improvements to the lives of peasants and to stop “philosophizing about communism”.
Lenin’s speech highlights the countries need for practical solutions to their economic problems, and marks a major shift in tone. In the previous years the major problem facing the state was military annihilation, however after the Kronstadt rebellion and the passing of the New Economic Policy the major task was obviously economic development. In the Congress Lenin states that this enemy was far worse than the others the state has faced, because this enemy will never go away and must be faced constantly. The urgency of the situation can be seen by the fact that Lenin argues for the need of capitalist specialist in running of the economy and the many capitalist concessions made to the peasantry. Lenin argues that all this is needed in order to establish a firm link between the peasant and socialist economies and continue the march to communism together at a slower, but more definite pace.
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