Ninth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.)
March 29 - April 5, 1920
The 9th Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) was elected by the 9th Congress, and was in session from 1920 until 1921. It elected the 9th Politburo, the 9th Secretariat and the 9th Orgburo of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks).
The Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)
was held in Moscow from Mar. 29 to Apr. 5, 1920. It was attended by 553 delegates with a casting vote and 162 with an advisory vote, representing the party’s 611,978 members. In terms of age, 0.5 percent of the delegates to the Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) were between 16 and 18, 12 percent were between 19 and 23, 42.5 percent were between 24 and 30, 38 percent were between 31 and 40, and 7 percent were over 40. By vocation, 51 percent were workers, 8 percent artisans, 5 percent peasants, 12 percent office employees, and 24 percent intelligentsia. Considering length of party membership, 49 percent of the delegates had joined the RCP (Bolshevik) before the February Revolution of 1917, 24 percent had joined between February and October 1917, and 27 percent had joined after the Great October Socialist Revolution.
The Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) was held at a time of peace, when the Soviet Republic had triumphed over the main forces of the foreign military interventionists and domestic counterrevolutionaries. However, this respite was soon interrupted by an offensive of the troops of Wrangel and bourgeois-landlord Poland. The work of the congress proceeded under the leadership of Lenin, who delivered the opening speech, a summary report on the political activity of the party’s Central Committee, concluding remarks on the report, speeches on economic construction and cooperatives, and speeches at the time of elections to the Central Committee and at the closing of the congress.
The central item on the congress’ agenda was the question of economic construction—the transition from struggle on the military front to struggle on the labor front against wartime devastation and for the rebuilding and development of the country’s economy. In the resolution On the Immediate Tasks of Economic Construction the congress, taking note of the labor upsurge that had begun in the country, pointed out that this was only the first step. In order to achieve genuine successes, it was necessary to convey the experience of the advanced strata of the working class to the broad masses of toiling people of the city and countryside. “The principal prerequisite for the country’s economic revival,” the resolution stated, “is the steadfast implementation of a unified economic plan intended for the immediate historical epoch” (KPSS v rezoliutsiakh. . . , 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, p. 151). Electrification of the country, which Lenin advanced as the great program of socialist construction, had top priority in the economic plan. The congress’ directives provided the basis for the GOELRO (State Commission for the Electrification of Russia) plan, which was finally drawn up and confirmed in December 1920 by the Eighth All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) called on the toiling people to develop labor competition, which was a powerful force for raising labor productivity.
The antiparty “democratic centralist” group (detsisty), led by T. V. Sapronov, N. Osinskii, and V. M. Smirnov, opposed the party line on the question of industrial management and other questions. In their theses the detsisty spoke out against individual leadership in industrial management, against the employment of old specialists, and against the centralization of state administration. They were supported by a number of trade-union functionaries, including M. P. Tomskii, and some economic managers, such as A. I. Rykov. The views of the democratic centralists were actually a manifestation of petit bourgeois lack of discipline and a protest against discipline and centralized leadership. The congress condemned and resolutely rejected all of the democratic centralists’ proposals and advocated the introduction of individual leadership. A resolution of the congress stated that the basic task in the organization of management is to create a competent, firm, energetic leadership, whether it is an individual enterprise that is involved or an entire industry (ibid., p. 156).
The decisions of the congress called attention to the need for training new leadership cadres recruited from the workers. A great deal of attention was devoted to improving railroad transportation, and a special message to party organizations was adopted, pointing out the bad condition of transportation and ordering the execution of the directive of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) on assigning of 5,000 Communists to work in transportation. A resolution was adopted to mobilize 10 percent of the congress’ delegates for transportation work.
The congress also decided to create a food stockpile of several hundred million poods (1 pood = 16.38 kg) and distribute it in the form of food bases in the chief areas of industrial concentration. In matters of distribution, food policy was subordinated to the tasks of reviving industry and transportation—that is, the most important industrial enterprises and transportation received top priority in the distribution of food supplies (ibid., p. 161).
In accordance with Lenin’s instructions, the congress clearly defined the role of the trade unions, their relationship with the Soviet state and party, and the forms of their participation in economic construction. The congress stressed that in the age of the dictatorship of the proletariat, trade unions face problems primarily in economic organization and education. The decision on cooperatives proposed the strengthening of party leadership in cooperative bodies. The congress also adopted a decision on establishing coordination between economic commissariats (the Supreme Council of the National Economy and the people’s commissariats for foodstuffs, railroads, and agriculture), in order to ensure full unity in the implementation of the economic plan.
The resolution On the Organizational Question pointed out the necessity of focusing the attention of the party and all its organizations on questions of economic construction.
"Pravda" - March 31, 1920
Lenin on the 9th Congress of the RCP (B)
" that the chief thing at the moment is to restore the economy in a way that will prevent it from falling again into the hands of the exploiters" (Lenin,Volume 30, pages 488 - 489)
Some selected quotations of Lenin's speech:
If we give some thought to what, after all, was the underlying reason for this historical miracle, why a weak, exhausted and backward country was able to defeat the most powerful countries in the world, we shall find that it was centralisation, discipline and unparalleled self-sacrifice. On what basis? Millions of working people in a country that was anything but educated could achieve this organisation, discipline and centralisation only because the workers had passed through the school of capitalism and had been united by capitalism, because the proletariat in all the advanced countries has united—and united the more, the more advanced the country; and on the other hand, because property, capitalist property, small property under commodity production, disunites. Property disunites, whereas we are uniting, and increasingly uniting, millions of working people all over the world. This is now clear even to the blind, one might say, or at least to those who will not see. Our enemies grew more and more disunited as time went on. They were disunited by capitalist property, by private property under commodity production, whether they were small proprietors who profiteered by selling surplus grain at exorbitant prices and enriched themselves at the expense of the starving workers, or the capitalists of the various countries, even though they possessed military might and were creating a League of Nations, a “great united league” of all the foremost nations of the world. Unity of this kind is a sheer fiction, a sheer fraud, a sheer lie. And we have seen—and this was a great example—that this notorious League of Nations, which attempted to hand out mandates for the government of states, to divide up the world—that this notorious alliance proved to be a soap-bubble which at once burst, because it was an alliance founded on capitalist property. We have seen this on a vast historical scale, and it confirms that fundamental truth which told us that our cause was just, that the victory of the October Revolution was absolutely certain, and that the cause we were embarking on was one to which, despite all difficulties and obstacles, millions and millions of working people in all countries would rally. We knew that we had allies, that it was only necessary for the one country to which history had presented this honourable and most difficult task to display a spirit of self-sacrifice, for these incredible sacrifices to be repaid a hundredfold—every month we held out in our country would win us millions and millions of allies in all countries of the world.
If, after all, we give some thought to the reason we were able to win, were bound to win, we shall find that it was only because all our enemies—who were formally tied by all sorts of bonds to the most powerful governments and capitalists in the world—however united they may have been formally, actually turned out to be disunited. Their internal bond in fact disunited them, pitted them against each other. Capitalist property disintegrated them, transformed them from allies into savage beasts, so that they failed to see that Soviet Russia was increasing the number of her followers among the British soldiers who had been landed in Archangel, among the French sailors in Sevastopol, among the workers of all countries, of all the advanced countries without exception, where the social-compromisers took the side of capital. In the final analysis this was the fundamental reason, the underlying reason, that made our victory certain and which is still the chief, insuperable and inexhaustible source of our strength; and it permits us to affirm that when we in our country achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat in full measure, and the maximum unity of its forces, through its vanguard, its advanced party, we may expect the world revolution. And this in fact is an expression of will, an expression of the proletarian determination to fight; it is an expression of the proletarian determination to achieve an alliance of millions upon millions of workers of all countries.
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The old source of discipline, capital, has been weakened, the old source of unity has disappeared. We must create a different kind of discipline, a different source of discipline and unity. Coercion evokes the indignation, the howls, the yells and outcries of the bourgeois democrats, who make great play of the words “freedom” and “equality”, but do not understand that freedom for capital is a crime against the working people, that equality between the rich and the destitute is a crime against the working people. In our fight against falsehood, we introduced labour conscription and proceeded to unite the working people, not hesitating to use coercion. For no revolution has ever been effected without coercion, and the proletariat has a right to exercise coercion in order to hold its own at all costs. When those gentry, the bourgeois, the compromisers, the German Independents, the Austrian Independents, and the French Longuetists, argued about the historical factor, they always forgot such a factor as the revolutionary determination, firmness and steadfastness of the proletariat. And that factor is precisely the steadfastness and firmness of the proletariat of our country, which declares, and has proved by its deeds, that we are prepared to perish to a man rather than yield our territory, rather than yield our principle, the principle of discipline and firm policy, for the sake of which everything else must be sacrificed. At the time when the capitalist countries and the capitalist class are disintegrating, at this moment of crisis and despair, this political factor is the only decisive one. Talk about minority and majority, about democracy and freedom decides nothing, however much the heroes of a past historical period may invoke them. It is the class-consciousness and firmness of the working class that count here. If the working class is prepared to make sacrifices, if it shows that it is able to strain every nerve, the problem will be solved. Everything must be directed to the solution of this problem. The determination of the working class, its inflexible adherence to the watchword “Death rather than surrender!” is not only a historical factor, it is the decisive, the winning factor.
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The new class, having replaced the old class, can maintain itself only by a desperate struggle against other classes; and it will finally triumph only if it can bring about the abolition of classes in general. That is what the vast and complex process of the class struggle demands; otherwise you will sink into a morass of confusion. What is class domination? In what way did the bourgeoisie dominate over the feudal lords? The Constitution spoke of freedom and equality. That was a lie. As long as there are working men, property-owners are in a position to profiteer, and indeed, as property-owners, are compelled to profiteer. We declare that there is no equality, that the well-fed man is not the equal of the hungry man, that the profiteer is not the equal of the working man.
How is class domination expressed today? The domination of the proletariat consists in the fact that the landowners and capitalists have been deprived of their property. The spirit and basic idea of all previous constitutions, even the most republican and democratic, amounted to one thing—property. Our Constitution has the right, has won itself the right, to a place in history by virtue of the fact that the abolition of property is not confined to a paper declaration. The victorious proletariat has abolished property, has completely annulled it—and therein lies its domination as a class. The prime thing is the question of property. As soon as the question of property was settled practically, the domination of the class was assured. When, after that, the Constitution recorded on paper what had been actually effected, namely, the abolition of capitalist and landed property, and added that under the Constitution the working class enjoys more rights than the peasantry, while exploiters have no rights whatever—that was a record of the fact that we had established the domination of our class, thereby binding to ourselves all sections and all small groups of working people.
The petty-bourgeois property-owners are disunited; those who have more property are the enemies of those who have less property; and the proletarians, by abolishing property, have declared open war on them. There are still many unenlightened and ignorant people who are wholly in favour of any kind of freedom of trade, but who cannot fight when they see the discipline and self-sacrifice displayed in securing victory over the exploiters; they are not with us, but are powerless to come out against us. It is only the domination of a class that determines property relations and which class is to be on top. Those who, as we so frequently observe, associate the question of the nature of class domination with the question of democratic centralism create such confusion that all successful work on this basis becomes impossible. Clarity in propaganda and agitation is a fundamental condition. When our enemies said and admitted that we had performed miracles in developing agitation and propaganda, that was not to be understood in the superficial sense that we had large numbers of agitators and used up large quantities of paper, but in the intrinsic sense that the truth contained in that propaganda penetrated to the minds of all; there is no escaping from that truth.
Whenever classes displaced each other, they changed property relations.
March 29 - April 5, 1920
Lenin's questionnaire to the delegates
social composition of the Congress
report of Lenin's political activities of the Central Committee, the resolutions and decisions IX Congress of the RCP (b)
IX Congress of the RCP (b) on ways to strengthen the management of industrial enterprises
Lenin: here working on the " communist Saturday"
in the Kremlin. Moscow, May 1, 1920
All-Russian "communist Saturday"
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History of the CPSU (B) [Short Course]
March 29 - April 5, 1920
During the Civil War many skilled workers had left industry owing to the closing down of mills and factories. The Party now took measures to return them to industry to work at their trades. The railways were in a grave condition and several thousand Communists were assigned to the work of restoring them, for unless this was done the restoration of the major branches of industry could not be seriously undertaken. The organization of the food supply was extended and improved. The drafting of a plan for the electrification of Russia was begun. Nearly five million Red Army men were under arms and could not be demobilized owing to the danger of war. A part of the Red Army was therefore converted into labour armies and used in the economic field. The Council of Workers' and Peasants' Defence was transformed into the Council of Labour and Defence, and a State Planning Commission (Gosplan) set up to assist it. Such was the situation when the Ninth Party Congress opened.
The congress defined the immediate tasks of the country in the sphere of transportation and industry. It particularly stressed the necessity of the trade unions taking part in the building up of the economic life.
Special attention was devoted by the congress to a single economic plan for the restoration, in the first place, of the railways, the fuel industry and the iron and steel industry. The major item in this plan was a project for the electrification of the country, which Lenin advanced as "a great program for the next ten or twenty years." This formed the basis of the famous plan of the State Commission for the Electrification of Russia (GOELRO), the provisions of which have today been far exceeded.
Lenin speaking on the GOELRO-Plan
The congress rejected the views of an anti-Party group which called itself "The Group of Democratic-Centralism" and was opposed to one-man management and the undivided responsibility of industrial directors. It advocated unrestricted "group management" under which nobody would be personally responsible for the administration of industry. The chief figures in this anti-Party group were Sapronov, Ossinsky and Y. Smirnov. They were supported at the congress by Rykov and Tomsky.