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Two Concepts of the (NEP) New Economic Policy - V.A Sakharov

Selected Articles From"Lenin's political testament: the reality of history and the myths of politics" Sakharov V.A.

Svitlana M, Erdogan A

Overcoming the crisis that followed the civil war was first conceived by the Bolshevik leadership within the framework of the former policy - the so-called "war communism" - and the already adopted tactics of restoring the national economy. It was supposed to raise large-scale industry with the help of withdrawing funds from the countryside, and then begin to transform agriculture with the help and on the basis of equipment supplied by industry. Changes had to undergo only methods of management and the system of management of the national economy. Such views were developed by V.I. Lenin, for example, in the report of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars on foreign and domestic policy at the VIII All-Russian Congress of Soviets on December 22, 1920[224] However, attempts to stimulate the work of the peasants, undertaken on the basis of the policy of "war communism", did not create an economic incentive for the development of the peasant economy. The discontent in the village continued to grow. The Soviet government found itself in the face of peasant uprisings, which objectively turned into a counter-revolution in relation to the proletarian socialist revolution.

Lenin, assessing the situation that had arisen, spoke of a “peasant (petty-bourgeois) counter-revolution”: 

“Such a counter-revolution is already standing against us.”, and the fate of the socialist revolution in Russia "will be decided by the struggle, which will take place according to the principle "Who wins?"[225]. 

To prevent an undesirable development of events, V.I. Lenin proposed a deep tactical maneuver. On February 8, 1921, he submitted a proposal to the Politburo to meet the needs of the working peasantry, for which, firstly, to replace the seizure of bread according to the apportionment with a tax in kind; secondly, to reduce the size of the tax in comparison with the apportionment; thirdly, to introduce incentives for the work of the peasant by lowering the percentage of tax; fourthly, "to expand the freedom of the farmer to use his surplus in excess of the tax in the local economic turnover, provided that the tax is paid promptly and in full"[226]. This was supposed to bring down the wave of counter-revolution, to restore political understanding with the peasantry, establish cooperation with him in the economic field and create political conditions for the continuation of the socialist revolution. Here is the minimum of tasks that were solved by this proposal. The 10th Congress of the RCP(b) accepted Lenin's proposals. 

Trotsky challenged Lenin's right to authorship of the NEP [227]. The question of these claims by Trotsky is very important for understanding the depth of the differences between Lenin and Trotsky on the issue of the NEP. At the 11th Congress, Trotsky, for example, said that it was he who proposed “in February 1920, on the eve of the 9th Congress, to switch to the food tax from allotment and to contractual relations in industry” [228]. Trotsky, indeed, at the beginning of 1920, made proposals that in many respects echoed those of Lenin in February 1921, but were not identical to them, as he claimed. 

What did Trotsky propose? At the beginning of 1920, when a peaceful respite during the civil war made it possible to bring to the fore questions of economic development, Trotsky proposed to make adjustments in relations with the peasantry. Speaking at a meeting of the Moscow Committee of the RCP (b) on January 6, 1920 with a report “The main tasks and difficulties of economic development”, he stated:

“While we have a shortage of bread, the peasant will have to give the Soviet economy a tax in kind in the form of bread under pain of merciless reprisal. The peasant will get used to this in a year and will give bread. We will allocate proletarian units, a hundred or two thousand, to create food bases. And then, having created ... the possibility of a common labor service, as compulsory, with the great importance of the educational factor, we will be able to organize our economy.”[229]. 

As can be seen, in Trotsky's proposal the tax is inscribed in the former system of economic relations and does not play the economic and political role that it had in Lenin's proposals. 

In February 1920, Trotsky sent to the Central Committee of the RCP (b) the theses “Basic Questions of Food and Land Policy”, in which he developed his proposals: 

“The current policy of egalitarian requisitioning according to food standards, mutual responsibility for dumping and egalitarian distribution of industrial products is aimed at lowering agriculture, at dispersing the industrial proletariat and threatening to completely undermine the economic life of the country.” “Food resources threaten to dry up, against which no improvement in the requisitioning apparatus can help. It is possible to fight against such tendencies of economic degradation by the following methods:

1. Replacing the withdrawal of surpluses with a certain percentage deduction (a kind of income-progressive tax in kind) in such a way that a larger plowing or better cultivation of the land still represents a benefit;

2. By establishing a greater ratio between the issuance of industrial products to the peasants and the amount of grain poured by them, not only in volosts and villages, but also in peasant households [230].

 “Lenin strongly opposed this proposal,” writes Trotsky. — It was rejected in the Central Committee by eleven votes to four. ;

“As the further course of things showed, the decision of the Central Committee was erroneous”, “the transition to market relations was rejected”, “the economy was at an impasse for a whole year after that”[231]. 

The last statement is, of course, true. But Trotsky obscures the fundamental difference between his own and Lenin's proposals. The proposals of Trotsky and Lenin have only one thing in common - a tax instead of a surplus appropriation. But in the NEP, it is not only the tax that is important, but also how it is built into the economic system: in allowing trade. In Trotsky there is not even a hint of the market, while in Lenin his assumption is the essence of the new economic policy. Trotsky's proposal refers to the "issuance" of industrial products to the peasants and there are no hints of "market relations". Trotsky's "innovation" boils down to using the tax for economic stimulation, first of all, of the kulak, whose economy could more quickly and to a greater extent satisfy the conditions proposed by Trotsky, and not only be able to pay a lower tax, but also be encouraged by a large number of manufactured goods. The farms of the middle and poor peasants could not seriously compete with the kulak. Trotsky's proposals thus led to the stimulation of the kulak, the enemy of Soviet power, at the expense of the poor and middle peasants, which could not but complicate their relations with the dictatorship of the proletariat. Thus, if the Leninist NEP led to the expansion of the social base of the socialist revolution, then Trotsky's proposals led to its narrowing. 

Significant for Trotsky's position is the letter he sent to the Central Committee of the RCP(b) a year later, in February 1921,[232] at the same time that Lenin made his proposals on the New Economic Policy. Ascertaining the crisis and the poor performance of the economic apparatus, Trotsky saw a way out of this situation in the reorganization of the management system and in the strengthening of planning principles in the national economy, like a year ago, he did not see the problem of interclass relations, did not believe that something should be radically changed in them. With Lenin, this is the main thing, and administration only ensures the success of the new policy. 

These differences made themselves fully felt in the course of the development of the general idea and the creation of an appropriate economic mechanism for it, as well as in assessing the possibilities of the NEP to ensure the successful development of the socialist revolution. 

Soviet historiography shied away from comparing them, and as a result, the question of the existence of various models of the NEP, which were proposed by Lenin and his political opponents in the party, primarily Trotsky, escaped its attention. As a result, the internal party struggle of the early 1920s was greatly impoverished and distorted. 

N.A  Vasetsky, pointing out the existence of serious differences in the views of Lenin and Trotsky on the NEP, at the same time believes that “in principle, Lenin agreed with Trotsky”[233]. This statement cannot be accepted. The situation is more complicated: a number of fundamental issues of the NEP were interpreted by them in the same way, and a number of others differently, so it is impossible to bring a common denominator under their views. 

Trotsky accepted Lenin's proposals for a transition to a tax in kind and voted for them at the Tenth Congress of the RCP(b). This is understandable: Lenin's proposals, although not identical to his own, went in the same direction and pursued one goal - strengthening the economic and political positions of the Soviet government, overcoming the political opposition to the power of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry. During this period, their views on the NEP still had a lot in common. 

The NEP, as Lenin saw it in the spring of 1921, included some of the fundamental ideas formulated by him in the spring of 1918 (hence his repeated references to the continuity of the NEP and the policy of 1918), adjusted so as to make it acceptable to the peasantry and aim for the restoration of agriculture. In the Trotskyist interpretation, the NEP is largely Lenin's program for the spring of 1918[234], adjusted by his own proposals (February 1920, February 1921) in order to ensure the priority and rapid restoration of large-scale industry, without stopping before a violent confrontation with the peasantry. Hence the coincidence of Trotsky's views and assessments with Lenin's in the interpretation of many important problems of the NEP. 

However, since Lenin and Trotsky disagreed on issues relating to the essence of the NEP, over time, the differences between them grew. It is significant that in his comments on Lenin's theses on the role and tasks of trade unions under the NEP, written a year after the adoption of the NEP (January 8, 1922), Trotsky argued that "the new economic policy consists, on the one hand, in restoring the market as foundations of purely capitalist forms of economy. On the other hand, in the use of market forms of exchange, calculation and accounting for the development and self-testing of the socialist economy. He emphasizes that we are talking about “forms and norms of relationships created by capitalism” [235]. Thus, speaking about the content of the NEP, Trotsky did not identify the problems of the peasantry in any way, either in social, or in political, or in economic aspects. Only in this: to find a link between the new economy, which we are creating with enormous efforts, and the peasant economy” [236]. There is practically nothing in common between the views of Lenin and Trotsky on the essence of the NEP. 

Different understanding of the essence of the NEP is associated with a different understanding of its purpose. For Lenin, the NEP is a class maneuver, a desire to change the movement of the revolution in such a way as to take into account both the new conditions and the accumulated political experience, in order to better rely on real opportunities, an attempt to draw the peasantry into the channel of the socialist revolution, gradually transforming its socio-economic nature. Since the dictatorship of the proletariat failed to adapt the peasant economy to its requirements, now it is precisely it, as the party more capable of maneuvering and adapting, that must take the initiative and adapt the state sector of the economy to the peasant economy in order to later be able to gradually transform the petty-bourgeois peasant economy into a socialist one. [237]. Trotsky, on the other hand, insisted on maintaining the old tactics, which assumed the adaptation of the peasant economy to the needs of large-scale industry [238]. In fact, he saw in the NEP a more effective form of exploitation by the socialist sector of the petty-bourgeois countryside and the capitalist sector. 

If Lenin has a clearly expressed "peasant" orientation of the NEP, then Trotsky (and the "workers' opposition") have an "urban" one. Therefore, the NEP as a retreat in the system of views of Lenin and Trotsky is also read quite differently. For Lenin, a retreat is a tactical maneuver towards a strategic ally. And with Trotsky, there is a retreat from the methods of economic management characteristic of socialism, a corresponding strengthening of bourgeois elements and relations in society, threatening the degeneration of the revolution. 

The different interpretations of the NEP by Lenin and Trotsky are clearly visible in the question of the tactics of restoring the national economy. 

Before the transition to the NEP, there were no serious disagreements regarding the tactics of restoring the national economy. It was taken for granted that, first of all, large-scale industry should be restored as the basis of the socialist economy, and only then should the technical reconstruction of agriculture be carried out. But even Lenin's first sentence (February 8, 1921) actually contained the recognition of the need and inevitability of a change in tactics - the priority restoration of agriculture as a completely urgent task, in the solution of which large-scale industry could not immediately help. The time has come to adopt a new tactic for the restoration of the national economy, in which the restoration of industry follows the restoration of agriculture and does not precede it.

Lenin called for abandoning the previous plan for restoring the national economy, which was correct in principle, but unrealistic in the real conditions of the early 1920s[239]. In the draft decree of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee “Order of the STO (Council of Labor and Defense) to local Soviet institutions” (May 1921), Lenin defines the priorities in the restoration of the national economy as follows:

“The primary task of the Soviet Republic is the restoration of productive forces, the rise of agriculture, industry and transport" [240]. 

 As you can see, among the main tasks, he puts the restoration of agriculture in the first place. Accordingly, the "measure of economic success" was also determined, first of all, the success of collecting agricultural tax, then the success of trade and product exchange, the turnover between agriculture and industry. Here Lenin actually disputes the assessments and proposals made by Trotsky [241]. 

Trotsky insisted on maintaining the old tactics: first, the peasantry must pay for the restoration of large-scale industry, which would then return this debt to the peasantry, providing it with its products. On August 7, 1921, he proposed to the Plenum of the Central Committee of the RCP (b) “Theses on the implementation of the principles of a new economic policy”, in which, in particular, he wrote: 

“Under the new course, as under the old one, the main task is to restore and strengthen the major nationalized industry” [242] (see Appendix No. 3). 

The Plenum did not support Trotsky's proposals. For Lenin, the interests of the immediate normalization of relations with the peasantry determined the meaning and real content of the NEP, were the reason for the transition to it and its justification as a means of saving the revolution from death and providing it with the opportunity to develop further with the hope of success. And for Trotsky, the normalization of relations with the peasantry, the satisfaction of its economic interests should have been the result of a long process of restoration of large-scale industry. 

Lenin actually entered into a polemic with Trotsky. In the article “On the Significance of Gold Now and After the Complete Victory of Socialism” (November 1921), which had programmatic significance, he wrote:

“Let us restore large-scale industry and organize its direct exchange of products with small peasant landownership, helping to socialize it. In order to restore large-scale industry, we will borrow a certain amount of food and raw materials from the peasants through apportionment. This is the plan (or method, system) we carried out for over three years, until the spring of 1921. It was a revolutionary approach to the task in the sense of a direct and complete destruction of the old in order to replace it with a new socio-economic structure.

The transition to the NEP meant that “we are replacing this approach, plan, method, system of actions ... with a completely different ...of the old socio-economic order, trade, small farming, small business, capitalism, but to revive trade, small business, capitalism, carefully and gradually mastering them or getting the possibility of their state regulation only to the extent of their revival. And on this basis to raise the industry. “A completely different approach to the problem” [243]. 

From a different understanding of the essence and purpose of the NEP, from different ideas about the tactics of restoring the national economy, Lenin and Trotsky disagreed on the role and place of the plan and the market, on the corresponding restructuring of the economic mechanism. If agriculture was to be restored in the first place, then, naturally, planning would lose its former importance, its scope would shrink, and tasks would change. The role of market levers in the economy, on the contrary, increased to the extent that it was required to revive agricultural production and establish an economic bond between town and countryside. If large-scale nationalized industry was restored first of all, then the methods of directive planning retained their significance, and not only because that this was required by the task of distributing raw materials (including agricultural), but also (mainly) by the task of subordinating the work of all sectors of the national economy to the interests of the work of large-scale industry. The problem of combining planned and market methods of managing the national economy placed the State Planning Commission, its tasks, methods of work and organization at the center of the discussion. 

It is known that Lenin highly appreciated the GOELRO plan - a long-term plan for the development of the country, calling it the second program of the party [244]. Regarding operational planning, he believed that in the conditions of granting economic independence to industrial enterprises and the use of market, capitalist methods by them, the role of planned control levers would inevitably be reduced. 

In accordance with the new economic conditions, he proposed to rebuild the State Planning Commission. From the body of operational planning, as it was originally conceived, after the transition to the NEP, with the active participation of Lenin [245], it began to turn into an expert commission under the Council of Labor and Defense (STO), which was a special commission of the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR, which was given a central place in management national economy [246]. 

Lenin demands when planning “the foundations of a nationwide economic plan for the next period, a year or two”, take “foodstuffs”, which limits the development of other industries, “as a starting point”, and “pay special attention to the industry that provides items suitable for exchange for bread” [247]. 

Trotsky demanded that the plan be structured differently, so that it would ensure the priority development of large-scale industry. Trotsky rated the GOELRO plan very low, denying it precisely as a plan. Soon after the adoption of the GOELRO plan by the VIII Congress of Soviets of the RSFSR, in February 1921, he wrote to the Central Committee of the RCP (b):

 “Delegates from all of Russia receive in the Moscow Center in the form of a thorough economic plan the “idea” of electrification for 10 years, and then, when they go home, they have to make sure that we do not have enough fuel for the next 10 months, but for the next 10 days, and the center did not warn anyone about it” [248]. 

Trotsky was against the transformation of the State Planning Commission from an organ of operational planning into an advisory body, not entitled to make final decisions, into a commission of experts working on instructions from the government. Trotsky thus insisted on restructuring the existing economic mechanism in accordance with his ideas about the NEP. He launched an attack on the entire system of government, proposing to eliminate the Central Committee of the party from participating in solving economic issues, and to withdraw the solution of current issues from the jurisdiction of the STO, in which Lenin presided, and to concentrate both promising and current issues of development of the national economy in the State Planning Commission. 

Prior to the introduction of the NEP, Trotsky recognized that SRT must ensure "a systematic, correct, vigilant coordination of economic work in its main factors"[249]. Now, in his theses on the implementation of the beginnings of the New Economic Policy (August 7, 1921), he proposed a variant of the reorganization of the economic mechanism, in which the role of the “real economic political center” was no longer to be played by the STO, but by the State Planning Committee, which should develop a state plan and ensure its implementation "from the point of view of large state industry." Trotsky wrote that the State Planning Commission “is subject to complete reconstruction in terms of the composition and methods of work; the economic plan must be built around large-scale industry as a pivot ... Whoever practically directs industrial life must ideologically, organizationally direct the development, verification, regulation of the implementation of the economic plan from day to day, from hour to hour” [250] (see Appendix No. 3). 

Such a formulation of the question can be fully regarded as a request that this work be entrusted to him, Trotsky, as the author of this project. On August 9, 1921, members of the Politburo assessed Trotsky's actions in precisely this way: 

“Comrade Trotsky actually placed himself before the party in such a position that ... the party must provide comrade Trotsky an actual dictatorship in the field of economy” [251]. 

The plenum of the Central Committee of the RCP(b) rejected Trotsky's proposals and adopted the draft "Theses on the implementation of the principles of the new economic policy", prepared in June-July 1921 in the Supreme Council of National Economy, the Council of People's Commissars, and the Central Committee of the RCP(b) under the leadership and with the active participation of Lenin [ 252]. On the same day, the theses were approved by the Council of People's Commissars of the RSFSR as "Instruction of the Council of People's Commissars on the implementation of the principles of the New Economic Policy"[253]. 

Trotsky retained his adherence to these views later. This was manifested in a very sharp clash in the spring of 1922 during the discussion of Lenin's proposal to improve the work of the STO of the RSFSR. At this time, Lenin had already created a management system that fully corresponded to the new economic policy. Lenin responded to the demands of the supporters of further restructuring (Trotsky was among them) with criticism of the perestroika itch and explained that the existing mechanism needed not to be restructured, but to be improved [254]. He associated the latter with the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate (RKI), which determined its special position in the system of state authorities. The NEP forced in many respects to take a fresh approach to the question of the work of RCT and to think about its reorganization. Lenin proposed reorganizing the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection "in the direction of combating bureaucracy and red tape, improving the conditions of workers and peasants, and attracting non-party people to Soviet work"[255]. Trotsky opposed. The front of struggle on the issues of reorganization of the management system has expanded even more. 

Immediately after the XI Congress of the RCP (b), at the beginning of April 1922, Lenin submitted to the Politburo the “Draft Resolution on the Work of the Deputies of the Pred SNK and STO”, which contained proposals for the redistribution of work between the Chairman of the STO and his deputies, which, according to Lenin, was supposed to improve the work of the service station and ensure that it fulfills its tasks[256]. 

Trotsky replied on April 18 with a letter sharply criticizing the existing system of government and the measures proposed by Lenin. 

“The tasks set are so universal that it is tantamount to as if no tasks were set. The deputies must strive for everything to be good in all spheres and in all respects—that is what the draft resolution boils down to. The points give, as it were, some semblance of indications on how to achieve that everything and everywhere is good. “The Rabkrin is indicated as the apparatus for the implementation of these universal tasks. Meanwhile, in its essence, the Rabkrin is not suitable for this and cannot become suitable ... And most importantly, I still don’t see the body that actually directs economic work from day to day ... There must be an institution on the wall of which hangs an economic a calendar for the year ahead, an institution that foresees and agrees in order of foresight. Such an institution should be the State Planning Commission” [257]. 

On April 19, Trotsky sent an addendum to this letter, in which, assessing Lenin's plans for establishing the work of the state apparatus as utopian, he threw an accusation against Lenin himself:

“We need a system at work. Meanwhile, an example of unsystematic- and this is the most important and most dangerous thing - it comes from above. All economic and organizational issues are resolved hastily and always later than necessary.” 

On May 5, 1922, Lenin responded with such a sharp attack against Trotsky, which he had not done for a long time in his address or in the address of any member of the Politburo:

“Comrade Trotsky’s remarks are partly also vague... and do not require an answer, partly they renew our old disagreements with Comrade Trotsky, which have already been observed many times in the Politburo. I will briefly answer them on two main points: a) Rabkrin and b) Gosplan. 

a) Comrade Trotsky is fundamentally wrong about the Rabkrin. With our desperate "departmentalism" even among the best communists, with a low level of employees, with intra-departmental intrigue (worse than any Rabkrinovsky), it is impossible to do without the Rabkrin now. We can and must work systematically and persistently on it in order to turn it into an apparatus for checking and improving all state work. Otherwise, there is no practical means to check, improve, teach work... 

b) Comrade Trotsky is not only fundamentally wrong about the State Planning Commission, but he is also strikingly unaware of what he is judging. Gosplan not only does not suffer from academicism, but, on the contrary, suffers from congestion from too small, topical "vermicelli". [259]

Lenin confirmed this reproach with statistics characterizing the work of the State Planning Commission. 

On Trotsky’s second letter, Lenin responded as follows:

 “Comrade Trotsky’s second paper ... contains, firstly, an extremely excited, but deeply incorrect “criticism” ... secondly, this paper contains the same, in fundamentally wrong and diametrically opposed to the truth, accusations of State Planning Committee in academicism, accusations that reaching to the next, downright unbelievable due to ignorance, Comrade Trotsky's statement that State Planning Committee "has nothing to do" with the distribution of funds between departments. The State Planning Commission has a financial and economic section that works precisely on these issues” [260]. 

Lenin did not hope to convince Trotsky and, apparently, was not bothered by his objections. He continued to work on his project, as evidenced by numerous documents from the second half of 1922. 

On November 2, 1922, V.I. Lenin discussed the problems of reorganizing the RCT with I.V. Stalin and L.B. Kamenev; based on the results of this conversation, he formulated his proposals in the directive of A.D. Tsyurupe, who, as deputy chairman of the STO, was instructed to work out specific issues within the framework of the general installation: 

 “Make it (i.e. NC RCT. - BC) strong and independent while maintaining the same functions plus normalization” (i.e., problems of labor rationing . - V. S.) [261]. 

 In accordance with this attitude, Tsyurupa began to prepare practical proposals, which he informed Rykov in a letter (copy to Lenin, Stalin, Kamenev). 

Trotsky bent his line: in a letter dated December 13, addressed to Lenin, Kamenev, Rykov, Tsyurupa, Pyatakov, Stalin, he wrote: 

“Under the conditions of a market economy, the “workers' and peasants' inspection” is absolute and unconditional nonsense, and accounting is everything. Now the workers' and peasants' inspectorate is the workers' and peasants' market. This inspection is solid, business-like, not deceitful. It is only necessary to be able to write down the conclusions of this inspection, that is, to calculate the expense and income and deduce the loss or profit” [262]. 

Of course, the RCT could not control the movement of all funds and goods on the market and thus influence the work of the apparatus, trade, and manufacturing enterprises. But it is also true that the “workers' and peasants' market” cannot check the work of accountants or officials at their workplaces and thus increase the efficiency of the apparatus as a whole and in its individual parts. This (Trotsky’s comment) is a resonant but empty phrase. 

In a letter to the Central Committee dated January 20, 1923, Trotsky agreed to “attach serious importance to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Committee,” “of course, not as a universal educator of the entire population, but as Soviet state control” [263]. In those very days, Lenin was completing his work on his article “How We Should Reorganize the Rabkrin” — on the reorganization of the RKI and its merger with the Central Control Commission in order to improve the state apparatus and its work, identify capable personnel, select, and deploy them, which is both conceptually and in particular its provisions opposed Trotsky. 

The disagreements between Lenin and Trotsky on the questions of the State Planning Commission and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection were closely connected with deeper contradictions - on the questions of the place and role of the Communist Party in the system of government. 

After the transition to the NEP, the problem of separating the functions of the party and economic bodies in the management of the national economy became the focus of attention. The party's substitution of Soviet organs led not only to the weakening of the state, but also confronted it with tasks that, due to their nature and gigantic volume, could not be solved by the party's forces. It was clear. On the other hand, a clear separation of the functions and spheres of activity of the party and the state would inevitably lead to the restriction of the party to questions of ideology and would weaken its position in the political system, and, consequently, its ability to effectively influence the state of affairs in the country, would make it impossible to implement the program of socialist transformations. 

At first, party leadership was thought to be exercised through communist factions in the soviets, through communists working in responsible positions, through party organizations. By the end of the civil war, in connection with the crisis of the former system of government and the prominence of questions of the restoration of the national economy, the differences between Lenin and Trotsky on these issues took on a sharp form in the course of the discussion about trade unions. Some believed that the party should limit itself to the development of a political line and ideological work. Trotsky also belonged to them. Others believed that the party, in addition, should have a leading position in all spheres of the state and public life of the country, including the economy. This point of view was supported by Lenin and his supporters. At the 10th Party Congress, which summed up this discussion, Lenin's point of view prevailed. Experience has shown that these measures did not solve the problem. 

Obviously, therefore, after the Tenth Congress of the RCP (b), Lenin began to nurture the idea that the delimitation of the functions of the party and the state should be balanced by a certain connection, a merger of the party and state apparatus, party, and state functions. The fact is that the task of improving the quality of decisions made required an ever-greater concentration of real power in the hands of economic bodies that were under the strong influence of specialists, most of whom did not share the ideas of the socialist revolution and could use this influence for the detriment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Lenin said that the main thing in the NEP was politics, not economics, which was designed to ensure the achievement of the desired political result. Naturally, that in this case, the political leadership should have been retained and strengthened the leading position in solving all problems in the management of the country's economy. Consequently, the RCP(b) had to play a crucial role not only in the development but also in the implementation of economic policy. 

Trotsky took a different view. He continued to argue for the clearest and most definite delimitation of the functions of party and state bodies, for the transfer of all management functions into the hands of specialists who, to a large extent, were hostile to the Soviet regime and did not share its political plans. He began his attack on the role of the party by criticizing the work of the Politburo, which, according to him,

“decided in one meeting ten or twelve of the most important practical economic issues, without the slightest preparation, after ten minutes of discussion, by ear, by eye” [264] 

The problems in the work of the Politburo were indeed great, and the organization of its work left much to be desired. But they could be solved in different ways - by fundamentally restructuring the entire system, as Trotsky insisted, or within the framework of its preservation. 

Supporters of different views were preparing for a struggle over the question of delimiting the functions of the party and the state at the forthcoming XI Congress of the RCP(b). The Politburo instructed Zinoviev to prepare a draft thesis "On the Strengthening of the Party". On March 9, Lenin approved them, and Stalin and Kamenev, in a letter dated March 10, 1922, suggested that “we wait with Zinoviev’s theses,” since “in our opinion, they are insufficient and need to be supplemented.” In particular, they considered it necessary to “establish as accurately as possible the difference between Party and Soviet institutions, determine the scope of work of the first and second, obliging party institutions to refrain from administrative orders in the field of Soviet work,” and also “to recognize as expedient the distribution of functions between individual branches of the Party-Soviet trade union work, minimizing the frequent redeployment of party workers”[265]. 

On the same day, the Central Committee received a letter from Trotsky, in which he noted that the question of delimiting the functions of the party and the state, which is one of the most important, was bypassed in Zinoviev's theses, and its raising in connection with economic work and the proposed solution "pushed on the wrong path ". “Unless the party is freed as a party from the functions of direct management and control, it is impossible to cleanse the party of bureaucracy, and the economy of licentiousness. Such a "policy", when questions about the sowing campaign, about leasing or not leasing the plant, are resolved in passing at meetings of the provincial committee, is pernicious.” 

Trotsky proposed to deprive party organs of the right to interfere in economic work in the same way that trade unions were deprived of this right. The NEP demands that "trade unions be trade unions" and "a party be a party". The Party must ensure "sustainable leadership" of economic bodies and give them "the opportunity to select workers, educate them without random and incompetent intrusions from outside." It “explains to the working masses the importance and significance of commercial transactions as a method of socialist construction... fights against prejudices that hinder the proper development of economic activity... fights against attempts to use the New Economic Policy to instill bourgeois morals in the Communist Party itself... firmly establishes what is possible and what is not. But the party does not direct commercial operations. The Party does not educate for economic activity, and in particular for commercial activity, because it is incapable of this... At the same time, the Party is concentrating to a much greater extent than before, their attention on the theoretical education of party youth” [266]. 

Let us sum up Trotsky's proposals:

 it is necessary to carry out rigidly the division of labor on a functional basis. The party, like the trade unions, must completely withdraw from the management of the economy and the selection of personnel. Its functions are ideology and education. The entire economy, including the question of personnel appointments, is being handed over to non-Party specialists. In fact, it is recognized that the party cannot nominate personnel from its midst who are capable of leading the economy, as well as integrating a part of specialists into its ranks. Behind it remains control, actually turned into a fiction. 

On March 21, Lenin notified Stalin and Kamenev by letter of his intention to write a letter to the Plenum of the Central Committee and outline in it the plan of his report at the forthcoming congress. In particular, he reported on how he intended to respond to Trotsky's proposals. “I will refer to Trotsky’s letter: basically, I’m for it” [267]. This "de- «де» " is the whole point. It speaks of Lenin's true attitude towards Trotsky's proposal. He fulfilled his intention on March 24 in a letter to Molotov for the Plenum of the Central Committee, in which he so generally formulated his position, which apparently did not contradict Trotsky:

“it is necessary to distinguish much more precisely the functions of the party (and its Central Committee) and the Soviet power; to increase the responsibility and independence of the co-workers and co-institutions, and to leave to the party the overall direction of the work of all state agencies together, without the present too frequent, irregular, often petty interference” [268]. 

At the XI Congress of the Party, Trotsky, Preobrazhensky, Osinsky criticized Lenin, against the existing system of government [269]. Trotsky declared:

“The ruling party does not mean at all the party directly managing all the details of the matter” [270]. 

There is a clear exaggeration in these words: the RCP(b) never managed "all the details of the case", if only because it was practically impossible. The main direction ("nail") of all party work, Trotsky believed, was the education of the younger generation. He assessed this work as a matter of life and death for the Soviet government, since young people do not have the social experience of the older generation, and this shortcoming, in his opinion, could only be filled with theoretical work. Consequently, according to Trotsky, the task of ensuring the tomorrow of the revolution had to be solved by the party by pedagogical methods, which is doubtful, because life experience cannot be replaced by theoretical study. Having taken this position, Trotsky also retreats from the well-known thesis of Marxism that being determines consciousness. 

In speeches at the congress, Lenin reduced the matter to the fact that the combination of the functions of the party and state went through him, and he connected the failures and shortcomings that took place with his illness, which tore him away from everyday work, as well as with the insufficiently organized work of his deputies, Stalin's workload [ 271]. About the main thing, Lenin said, as it were, casually, but quite definitely. Recognizing that with all sorts of issues that should be considered in the Council of People's Commissars and the STO, they go to the Politburo, he noted that this cannot be formally banned, since the ruling party and any decision can be appealed to the Central Committee. Lenin did not propose to break this order, he only proposed to free the Politburo and the Central Committee from trifles, for which purpose to increase the responsibility of Soviet workers, primarily people's commissars, to reduce the number of commissions of the Council of People's Commissars and the STO, accordingly expand the activities of regional economic conferences (ECOSO), as well as increase the duration of the sessions of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee so that its work becomes more systematic[272]. 

Preobrazhensky made specific organizational proposals aimed at withdrawing economic questions from the Politburo. He proposed, along with the Politburo and the Orgburo, to create an Economic Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP(b)[273]. Lenin rejected this proposal on the grounds that it was impossible to separate political and economic issues, and at the same time criticized the desire for endless restructuring of the apparatus, which could well have been addressed to Trotsky [274]. 

Lenin approached this problem differently. He saw the main task in the selection and placement of personnel. As for the class education of the younger generation, it takes place in the process of socialist construction. Trotsky's position is understandable: if the revolution is not yet socialist, but only moves in the direction of socialism, then, naturally, one will not learn socialism in the course of it. Lenin's assessment is also understandable: the construction of socialism is already underway, in the practice of this construction people cannot but learn socialism. Hence the thesis about the trade unions as a "school of communism", hence the difference in the formulation of the question of education. Lenin called for learning in the process of work and without interrupting it, while Trotsky considered the combination of work and study impossible and demanded that they be separated - either work or study [275]. 

This particular issue reveals the fundamentally different views of Lenin and Trotsky on the Russian revolution. 

The 11th Congress of the RCP(b) supported Lenin and adopted decisions that would strengthen the position of the party in all spheres of state activity, including economic management. The principle of the division of labor between the party and the state proposed by Lenin, which did not detract from the leading role of the party, was enshrined in the resolutions; “According to the report of the Central Committee” and “On the strengthening and new tasks of the party” [276]. 

* Evaluation of the NEP as a concession to the peasant. Evaluation of the NEP not as a return to capitalism, but as a specific method of using the methods of capitalism in the interests of the socialist revolution. Recognition of the decisive importance of commanding heights for determining the measure of concessions to anti-socialist forces. Recognition of the possibility of abandoning the NEP and returning to product exchange in the event of revolutions in other countries and the need to abandon it in the event of war. In recognition of the fact that the NEP does not abolish the party program, but only introduces serious changes in the methods of work. Recognition of the international significance of the NEP as a policy necessary as a transitional one on the path to the socialist organization of production. Recognition of the NEP as a tactical maneuver, etc. (See: Eleventh Congress of the RKB(b). March-April 1922. Verbatim report. S. 130, 133, 135-136; Vasetsky N.A. Trotsky. The experience of political biography. pp. 168-170, 186). 

Translated from Russian by MLDG members


 [224] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 42. S. 148, 150–151, 155–156.

[225] Ibid. T. 43. S. 371. 

[226] Ibid. T. 42. S. 333. 

[227] News of the Central Committee of the CPSU. 1990. No. 10. S. 174; Trotsky L. My life. Autobiographical experience. T. 2. M., 1990. S. 195–199. 

[228] See: Eleventh Congress of the RCP(b). March-April 1922 Stenograph. report. M., 1961. S. 270. 

[229] Trotsky L.D. The main tasks and difficulties of economic construction. From a report at a meeting of the Moscow Committee of the RCP(b). January 6, 1920 // On the history of the Russian revolution. M., 1990. S. 160-161. 

[230] News of the Central Committee of the CPSU. 1990. No. 10. S. 174; Trotsky L. My life. Autobiographical experience. T. 2. M., 1990. S. 198–199; Eleventh Congress of the RCP(b). Stenographer. report. pp. 793-794. 

[231] Trotsky L. My life. Autobiographical experience. T. 2. S. 199. 

[232] RGASPI. F. 5. Op. 2. D. 21. L. 9–12. 

[233] See: Vasetsky N.A. Trotsky. The experience of political biography. M., 1992. S. 172, 186. 

[234] Eleventh Congress of the RCP(b). Stenographer. report. pp. 128-129. 

[235] RGASPI. F. 5. Op. 2. D. 17. L. 41. 

[236] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 75. 

[237] Ibid. pp. 77-78. 

[238] Trotsky's archive. Communist opposition in the USSR. 1923-1927. M., 1990. T. 1. S. 16. 

[239] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 43. S. 151, 153–155, 351–352, 354, 357. 

[240] Ibid. S. 266. 

[241] Ibid. S. 357. 

[242] RGASPI. F. 325. Op. 1. D. 88. L. 1, 2, 5. 

[243] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 44. S. 222.

[244] Ibid. T. 42. S. 157; T. 45. S. 51–52. 

[245] Ibid. T. 43. S. 260–263. 

[246] Ibid. T. 42. S. 155–156. 

[247] Ibid. T. 43. S. 263. 

[248] RGASPI. F. 5. Op. 2. D. 21. L. 9, 10. 

[249] Ibid. L. 12. 

[250] RGASPI. F. 325. Op. 1. D. 88. L. 1, 2, 5. See also: Trotsky Archive. Communist opposition in the USSR. 1923–1927 T. 1. S. 16–17. 

[251] News of the Central Committee of the CPSU. 1990. No. 7. S. 179. 

[252] RGASPI. F. 7. Op. 2. D. 70. L. 1; Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 44. S. 73, 537–538. 

[253] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 44. S. 538. 

[254] Ibid. T. 54, pp. 131–133. 

[255] Ibid. T. 43. S. 410. 

[256] Ibid. T. 45. S. 152–159. 

[257] RGASPI. F. 325. Op. 1. D. 407. L. 44–45. 

[258] Ibid. L. 47. 

[259] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 180-181. 

[260] Ibid. pp. 181–182. 

[261] RGASPI. F. 5. Op. 1. D. 2662. L. 100–104. 

[262] Ibid. D. 1406. L. 14; F. 325. Op. 1. D. 407. L.72. 

[263] Trotsky's archive. Communist opposition in the USSR. T. 1 S. 13. 

[264] RGASPI. F. 5. Op. 2. D. 307. L. 3; Trotsky archive. Communist opposition in the USSR. T. 1. S. 14. 

[265] RGASPI. F. 325. Op. 1. D. 407. L. 24. 

[266] Ibid. F. 5. Op. 2. D. 50. L. 35–38. 

[267] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 57, 511. 

[268] Ibid. S. 61. 

[269] Eleventh Congress of the RCP (b). Stenographer. report. pp. 83 - 85, 87, 88, 133, 134. 

[270] Ibid. S. 134. 

[271] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45, pp. 103–104, 113–114, 122. 

[272] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 115-116. 

[273] Eleventh Congress of the RCP(b). Stenographer. report. S. 85. 

[274] Lenin V.I. Full coll. op. T. 45. S. 121-122. 

[275] Eleventh Congress of the RCP (b). Stenographer. report. S. 134. 

[276] Ibid. pp. 481-482, 507-509; CPSU in resolutions and decisions of congresses, conferences, and plenums of the Central Committee. Ed. 9th. T. 2. M., 1983. S. 481, 501–509; T. 3. M 1984. S. 95.


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