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APRIL 29, 1918

... I have dwelt on the question of foreign policy more than I intended, but it seems to me that we see here very clearly that in this question we are, strictly speaking, faced with two main lines-the proletarian line, which says that the socialist revolution is what is dearest and highest for us, and that we must take account of whether it will soon break out in the West, and the other line-the bourgeois line-which says that for it the character of the state as a Great Power and national independence are dearer and higher than anything else.

In regard to domestic issues, we see the same thing on the part of the group of Left Communists, who repeat the main arguments leveled against us from the bourgeois camp. For example, the main argument of the group of Left Communists against us is that there can be observed a Right-Bolshevik deviation, which threatens the revolution by directing it along the path of  state capitalism.

Evolution in the direction of state capitalism, there you have the evil, the enemy, which we are invited to combat.

When I read these references to such enemies in the newspaper of the Left Communists, I ask: what has happened to these people that fragments of book-learning can make them forget reality? Reality tells us that state capitalism would be a step forward. If in a small space of time we could achieve state capitalism in Russia, that would be a victory. How is it that they cannot see that it is the petty proprietor , small capital, that is our enemy? How can they regard state capitalism as the chief enemy? They ought not to forget that in the transition from capitalism to socialism our chief enemy is the petty bourgeoisie, its habits and customs, its economic position. The petty proprietor fears state capitalism above all, because he has only one desire-to grab, to get as much as possible for himself, to ruin and smash the big landowners, the big exploiters. In this the petty proprietor eagerly supports us.

Here he is more revolutionary than the workers, because he is more embittered and more indignant, and therefore he readily marches forward to smash the bourgeoisie-but not as a socialist does in order, after breaking the resistance of the bourgeoi­sie, to begin building a socialist economy based on the principles of firm labour discipline, within the framework of a strict or­ganisation, and observing correct methods of control and accounting-but in order, by grabbing as much as possible for himself, to exploit the fruits of victory for himself and for his own ends, without the least concern for general state interests and the interests of the class of working people as a whole.

What is state capitalism under Soviet power? To achieve state capitalism at the present time means putting into effect the accounting and control that the capitalist classes carried out. We see a sample of state capitalism in Germany. We know that Germany has proved superior to us.. But if you reflect even slight­ly on what it would mean if the foundations of such state capi­talism were established in Russia, Soviet Russia, everyone who is not out of his senses and has not stuffed his head with frag­ments of book-learning, would have to say that state capitalism would be our salvation.

I said that state capitalism would be our salvation; if we had it in Russia, the transition to full socialism would be easy, would be within our grasp, because state capitalism is something cen­tralised, calculated, controlled and socialised, and that is exactly what we lack; we are threatened by the element of petty-bour­geois slovenliness, which more than anything else has been devel­oped by the whole history of Russia and her economy, and which prevents us from taking the very step on which the success of  socialism depends. Allow me to remind you that I had occasion to write my statement about state capitalism some time before the revolution and it is a howling absurdity to try to frighten us with state capitalism. I remind you that in my pamphlet The Impending Catastrophe I then wrote... (He reads the passage . ) 3

I wrote this about the revolutionary-democratic state, the state of Kerensky, Chernov, Tsereteli, Kishkin and their confreres, about a state which had a bourgeois basis and which did not and could not depart from it. I wrote at that time that state capitalism is a step towards socialism; I wrote that in Septem­ ber 1917, and now, in April 1918, after the proletariat's taking power in October, when it has proved its capacity: many factories have been confiscated, enterprises and banks nationalized, the armed resistance of the bourgeoisie and saboteurs smashed­ now, when they try to frighten us with capitalism, it is s ludi­crous, such a sheer absurdity and fabrication, that it becomes surprising and one asks oneself: how could people have this idea? They have forgotten the mere trifle that in Russia we have a petty-bourgeois mass which sympathises with the abolition of the big bourgeoisie in all countries, but does not sympathise with accounting, socialisation and control-herein lies the danger for the revolution, here you have the unity of social forces which ruined the great French revolution and could not fail to do so, and which, if the Russian proletariat proves weak, can alone ruin the Russian revolution. The petty bourgeoisie, as we see, steep the whole social atmosphere with petty proprietor tenden­cies, with aspirations which are bluntly expressed in the statement: I took from the rich, what others do is not my affair.

Here is our main danger. If the petty bourgeois were subor­dinated to other class elements, subordinated to state capitalism, the class-conscious worker would be bound to greet that with open arms, for state capitalism under Kerensky's democracy would have been a step towards socialism, and under the Soviet government it would be three-quarters of socialism, because anyone who is the organiser of state-capitalist enterprises can be made one's helper. The Left Communists, however, adopt a different attitude, one of disdain, and when we had our first meeting with the Left Communists on April 4,4 which inciden­tally proved that this question from remote history, which had been long discussed, was already a thing of the past, I said that it was necessary, if we properly understood our tasks, to learn socialism from the organisers of the trusts.

These words made the Left Communists horribly indignant, and one of them-Comrade Osinsky-devoted his whole article to inveighing against them. That is substantially what his argu­ments amounted to-The fact is, we do not want to teach them, but to learn from them. We, "Right-wing'' Bolsheviks,5 we want to learn from the organisers of the trusts, but these "Left Com­munists" want to teach them. But what do you want to teach them? Socialism, perhaps? Teach socialism to merchants, to busi­nessmen? (Applause.) No, take on the job yourselves, if you like. We are not going to help you, it is labour in vain. It is no use our teaching these engineers, businessmen and merchants. It is no use teaching them socialism. If we had a bourgeois revolu­tion, then there would be nothing to learn from them-except perhaps that you should grab what you can and have done with it, there is nothing more to learn. But that is not a social­ist revolution-that is something that happened in France in 1793, that occurs where there is no socialism but only an ap­proach to socialism.

The landowners have to be overthrown, the bourgeoisie has to be overthrown, and all the actions of the Bolsheviks, all their struggle, their violence against the landowners and capitalists, expropriation and forcible suppression of the resistance of the landowners and capitalists, will be justified and proved a million times correct by history. Taken as a whole, this was a very great historical task, but it was only the first step. What matters now is the purpose for which we crushed them. Was it in order to say that now, having finally crushed them, we shall bow down before their capitalism? No, we shall now learn from them because we lack knowledge , because we do not have this knowl­edge. We know about socialism, but knowledge of organisation on a scale of millions, knowledge of the organisation and distribution of goods, etc.-this we do not have. The old Bolshevik leaders did not teach us this. The Bolshevik Party cannot boast of this in its history. We have not done a course on this yet. And we say, let him be a thorough-paced rascal even, but if he has organised a trust, if he is a merchant who has dealt with the organisation of production and distribution for millions and tens of millions, if he has acquired experience-we must learn from him. If we do not learn this from them, we shall not get socialism, the revolution will remain at the stage it has now reached. Only the development of state capitalism, only the painstaking establishment of accounting and control, only the strict­est organisation and labour discipline, will lead us to socialism. 

Without this there is no socialism. (Applause.)

It is no use our undertaking the ridiculous task of teaching the organisers of trusts - there is nothing to teach them. We have to expropriate them. That is not where the hitch lies. There is no difficulty whatsoever in that. (Applause.) That we have suf­ficiently demonstrated and proved.

I told every workers' delegation with which I had to deal when they came to me and complained that their factory was at a standstill: you would like your factory to be confiscated. Very well, we have blank forms for a decree ready, they can be signed in a minute. (Applause.) But tell us: have you learnt how to take over production and have you calculated what you will produce?..-Do you know the connection between what you are producing and the Russian and international market? Where­ upon it turns out that they have not learnt this yet; there has not been anything about it yet in Bolshevik pamphlets, and noth­ing is said about it in Menshevik pamphlets either.

The situation is best among those workers who are carrying out this state capitalism: among the tanners and in the textile and sugar industries, because they have a sober, proletarian knowledge, of their industry and they want to preserve it and make it more powerful-because in that lies the greatest socialism.6 They say: I can't cope with this task just yet; I shall put in capitalists, giving them one-third of the posts, and I shall learn from them. And when I read the ironical statement of the Left Communists: it is yet to be seen who is taking advantage of whom, I find their short-sightedness strange. Of course, if, after taking power in October and after a victorious campaign against the whole bourgeoisie from October to April, we could still be doubtful as to who is taking advantage of whom-whether the workers of the trust organisers, or the businessmen and rascals of the workers-,-if that were the case, we should have to pack up our belongings and go home, leaving the field to the Milyu­ kovs and Martovs. But that is not the case. The class-conscious worker will not believe it, and the fright of the petty bourgeoisie is laughable; they know that socialism begins where larger­ scale industry begins, that the merchants and businessmen have learnt this by their own experience.

We have said: only these material conditions, the material conditions of large-scale machine industry serving tens of mil­lions of people, only these are the basis of socialism, and to learn to deal with this in a petty-bourgeois, peasant country is difficult, but possible. 

Revolution comes at the price of civil war, but that is something that is the more serious the more the country is civilised and developed. In Germany, state capitalism prevails, and therefore the revolution in Germany will be a hundred times more devastating and ruinous than in a petty-bourgeois country-there, too, there will be gigantic difficulties and tremendous chaos and imbalance. Therefore I do not see the slightest shadow of a reason for despair or despondency in the fact that the Russian revolution accomplished the easier task to start with-that of overthrowing the landowners and bourgeoi­sie-and is faced now by the more difficult socialist task of orga­nising nation-wide accounting and control. 

It is facing the task with which real socialism begins, a task which has the backing of the majority of the workers and class-conscious working peo­ple. Yes, the majority of the workers, who are better organised and have gone through the school of the trade unions, are whole­heartedly with us.

This majority raised the questions of piece-work and Taylorism - questions which ,the gentlemen from VPeryod 7 are scoffingly trying to reject-in the trade union councils before we did, even before the coming of Soviet power with its Soviets; they got busy and set about working out standards of labour discipline. These people showed that for all their proletarian modesty they were well acquainted with the conditions of fac­tory labour, they grasped the essence of socialism better than those who spouted revolutionary phrases but in reality consciously or unconsciously descended to the level of the petty bour­geoisie, whose standpoint was: throw out the rich but it's not worth while putting oneself under the accounting and control of an organisation; that's not needed for small proprietors, they don't want that-but in that alone lies the guarantee of the stability and triumph of our revolution.

Comrades, I shall not touch on further details and quotations from the newspaper Levi Kommunist,8 but I shall say briefly: it is time to cry out when people have gone so far as to say that the introduction of labour discipline will be a step back. And I must say that I regard this as such an unheard-of reactionary thing, such a threat to the revolution, that if I did not know that it was said by a group without any influence, and that it would be refuted at any class-conscious meeting of workers, I would say: the Russian revolution is lost..

The Left Communists write: "The introduction of labour dis­cipline, coupled with restoring the leadership of capitalists in industry, cannot substantially raise labour productivity but it will lower the class initiative, activity and organised character of the proletariat. It threatens serfdom for the working class... ", This is untrue; if it were the case, our Russian revolution as regards its socialist tasks and its socialist essence would be on the point of collapse. But this is not true. The declassed petty­ bourgeois intelligentsia does not understand that the chief diffi­culty for socialism lies in ensuring labour discipline. Socialists wrote about this long ago, they thought most of all about this in the distant past, they devoted the greatest concern to it and its analysis, they understood that the real difficulties for the so­cialist revolution begin here. More than once: up to now there have been revolutions which ruthlessly overthrew the bourgeoi­sie, no less vigorously than we did, but when we went so far as to establish Soviet power we thereby showed that we were making the practical transition from the abolition of economic serfdom to the self-discipline of labour, that our rule is one which must really be the rule of labour. When people say to us that the dictatorship of the proletariat is recognised in words but that in reality it is mere phrases that are written, this actually shows that they have no notion of the dictatorship of the prole­tariat, for it by no means merely consists in overthrowing the bourgeoisie or the landowners-that happened in all revolutions -our dictatorship of the proletariat is the establishment of order, discipline, labour productivity, accounting and control by the proletarian Soviet power, which is more stable and firmly based than the previous one. That is what you won't solve, that is what we have not yet taught, that is what is needed by the workers, that is why it is good to show them a mirror in which all these shortcomings are plainly visible. I consider that this is a useful task for it will cause all thinking, class-conscious workers and peasants to devote their main efforts to it. Yes, by overthrowing the landowners and bourgeoisie we cleared the way but we did not build the edifice of socialism. On the ground cleared of one bourgeois generation, new generations continually appear in history, as long as the ground gives rise to them, and it does give rise to any number of bourgeois. As for those who look at the victory over the capitalists in the way that the petty proprietors look at it-"they grabbed, let me have a go too"-indeed, everyone of them is the source of a new generation of bourgeois. When they tell us that the introduction of labour discipline coupled with restoring capitalists as leaders is a threat to the revolution, I say: it is just the socialist character of our revolution that these people have failed to understand, they repeat the very thing that easily unites them with the petty bourgeois, who fear discipline, organisation, accounting and control as the devil fears holy water.

They may say: you are actually proposing here to give us capitalists as leaders among the working-class leaders. Yes, they are being brought in because in the matter of practical organi­sation they have knowledge that we do not possess. The class conscious worker will never be afraid of such a leader, because he knows that Soviet power is his power, that it will stand firm in his defence, because he knows that he wants to learn the practice of organisation.

We organised thousands under the tsar and hundreds of thou­sands under Kerensky. That is nothing, it does not count in politics. It was preparatory work, it was a preparatory course. Until the leading workers have learnt to organise tens of millions, they will not be socialists or creators of a socialist society, they will not acquire the necessary knowledge of organisation. 

The road of organisation is a long road and the tasks of socialist construction demand stubborn, long-continued work and appropriate knowledge, of which we do not have enough. Even the more developed generation of the immediate future will hardly achieve the complete transition to socialism.

Recall what former socialists wrote about the future socialist revolution; it is doubtful whether it would be possible to pass to socialism without learning from the organisers of trusts, for they have been concerned with this type of production on a large scale. We do not need to teach them socialism we need to expropriate them and to break their sabotage. These two tasks we have carried out. We have to make them submit to workers' control. And if our critics among the Left Communists have levelled against us the reproach that we are not leading to communism by our tactics but are going back, their reproaches are ridiculous: they forget that we have lagged behind with accounting and control because it has been very difficult to smash this resistance and bring the bourgeoisie and its techni­cians and bourgeois specialists into our service. But we need their knowledge, their experience and labour, without which it is impossible , in fact, to gain possession of the culture that was created by the old social relations and has remained as the material basis of socialism. If the Left Communists have not noticed this, it is because they do not see life as it really is but concoct their slogans by counterposing state capitalism to ideal socialism. We, however, must tell the workers: yes, it is a step back, but we have to help ourselves to find a remedy. There is only one remedy: organise to the last man, organise accounting every production, organise accounting and control over consumption and act so that we do not have to turn out hundreds of millions in currency from the printing press,9 and so that a single hundred-ruble note is lost to the state treasury by falling into the wrong hands. This cannot be done by any outburst of revolutionary fervour, by any knock-out blow to the bourgeoisie. It can be done only by self-discipline, only by organising the labour of he workers and peasants, only by accounting and control. This we do not have yet and for it we have paid tribute by paying the capitalist organisers a higher remuneration than they paid you. This we have not learnt, but must learn it is the road to socialism, the sole road-that of teaching the 'workers the practical business of managing gigantic enterprises, of organising big industry and large-scale distribution.

Comrades, I am very well aware how easy it is to talk of accounting, control, discipline and self-discipline when the speaker is someone occupying a definite social position. What a lot of  material for criticisms this provides, and for saying: when your Party was not in power it promised the workers rivers flowing with milk and honey, mountains of sugar candy, but when these people are in power there is the usual transformation, they begin to talk of accounting, discipline, self-discipline, control, etc. I am very well aware what promising material this is for publi­cists of the type of Milyukov and Martov. I am very well aware what rich material this is for persons whose concern is hack writing or showmanship, and who are inclined to use the flimsiest arguments, which receive scant sympathy from class-conscious workers.

In the newspaper Levi Kommunist I came across a review of my book by such an eminent publicist as Bukharin; it was moreover a sympathetic review, but anything of value in it lost all its value for me when I had read through this review to the end. I perceived that Bukharin had not seen what should have been seen, and this happened because he wrote his review in April but quoted what had already become out of date for April, what belonged to a previous day, viz., that it was neces­sary to smash the old state. This we have already done, it is a task which belongs to a previous day, and we have to go forward and look not at the past but at the future and create a state based on the commune; he wrote about what is already embodied in Soviet organisations, but said nothing about ac­counting, control and discipline. What a frame of mind these people have, and how their psychology coincides with the sen­ timents of the petty bourgeoisie: let us overthrow the rich, but there is no need for control. That is how they look at it; it holds them captive and it divides the class-conscious proletarian from the petty bourgeoisie and even from the extreme revolutionaries. This is when the proletarian says: let us organise and brace up, or some petty kulak, and there are millions of them, will overthrow us.

Here is the division between the class-conscious proletarian and the petty bourgeois; here the revolution takes leave of the petty bourgeoisie. And how blind are those people who do not say anything about this.

I shall venture to remind you of some more of my quotations; I said that people will be able to do without coercion when they are accustomed to act without it; such a custom, of course, may be the result of  long training.

When the Left Communists hear this, they clutch their heads and say: how is it that we didn't notice this? Bukharin, why didn't you criticize it? We showed our strength in suppressing the landowners and the bourgeoisie, and now we have to show our strength as regards self-discipline and organisation because this is known from thousands of years of past experience and the people must be told that only in this lies the strength of our Soviet power, of the workers' dictatorship, of our proletarian au­thority. The petty bourgeois, however, hide from this truth behind the shield of revolutionary phraseology. .

We have to show our strength. Yes, the small employers, petty proprietors, are ready to help us proletarians to overthrow the landowners and capitalists. But after this our paths diverge. They have no love for organisation, discipline, they are hostile to it. And here we have to wage the most determined, ruthless struggle against these proprietors and small employers. Because it is here, in the sphere of organisation, that socialist construction begins for us. And when I express my dissent to those people who claim to be socialists and who promise the workers they shall enjoy as much as they like and whatever they like, I say that communism presupposes a productivity of labour that we do not have at present. Our productivity is too low, that is a fact. Capitalism leaves all as a heritage, especially in a backward country, a host of customs through which all state property, all public property, is regarded as something that may be maliciously spoiled. This psychology of the petty-bourgeois mass is felt at every step, and the struggle in this sphere is a very difficult one. Only the organised proletariat can endure everything.  

I wrote: "Until the higher phase of communism arrives the socialists demand the strictest control by society and by the state." I wrote this before the October Revolution and I stand by it now.

Now, having suppressed the bourgeoisie and broken their sabotage, the time has come when we have an opportunity of dealing with this matter. While this was not the case, the heroes of the day and the heroes of the revolution were the Red Guards who performed their great historic deeds. They took up arms without the consent of the propertied classes. They performed this great historic work. They took up arms in order to overthrow the exploiters and make their arms an instrument for defence of the workers, and in order to look after the standards of production and labour and the standard of consumption. We have not produced this, but it contains. the kernel and the basis of socialism. If there are any to whom such work seems boring and uninteresting, they are representatives of petty-bourgeois laziness.

If our revolution halted here, it would go down in history no less than the revolution of 1793. But people will say: that was in the eighteenth century. 

For the eighteenth century that sufficed, but for the twentieth it is not enough. Accounting and control-that is mainly what is needed for the proper functioning of socialist society. So I wrote before the October Revo­lution. I repeat, it was impossible to tackle this matter until the Alexeyevs, Komilovs and Kerenskys were crushed. Now the armed resistance of the bourgeoisie has been crushed. Our task is to put all the saboteurs to work under our control, under the control of the Soviet power, to set up managerial bodies so that accounting and control will be strictly carried out. The country is being ruined because after the war it has been through it lacks the elementary conditions for normal existence. Our enemies who are attacking us seem terrible only because we have not instituted accounting and control when  hear hundreds of thousands of complaints about famine, when you see and know that these complaints are justified, that we have grain and cannot transport it, when we encounter the scoffing of the Left.

Communists and their objections to such  measures as our rail­way decree-they have mentioned it twice-these are trifles.

At the meeting with the Left Communists on April 4, I said: give us your draft of the decree; after all, you ,are citizens of the Soviet Republic, members of Soviet institutions, you are not critics standing apart from us, outside the gate, like the bourgeois traders and saboteurs who criticize in order to vent their spleen. You, I. repeat, are leaders of Soviet organisations; try to give us your draft decree. They cannot give it and will never be able to, because our railway decree is correct, because by introducing dictatorship, our decree has the sympathy of the asses and class-conscious working people of the railways, but is opposed by those managers who plunder and accept bribes; because a vacillating attitude to it is shown by all those who waver between the Soviet government and its enemies-whereas the- proletariat, which learnt discipline from large-scale production, knows that there cannot be socialism until production is organised on a large scale and until there is even stricter discipline.

This proletariat supports us in the railway movement; it will combat the anarchy of the petty proprietors and will show that the Russian revolution, which is capable of winning brilliant victories, is capable also of overcoming its own lack of or­ganisation. And among the May Day slogans, from the standpoint of immediate tasks, it will appreciate the slogan of the Central Committee which reads: "We conquered capital, we shall conquer also our own lack of organisation." Only then shall we reach the full victory of socialism! 

(Loud applause.)

Vol. 27, pp. 293-305

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