The Fifteenth Congress of the C.P.S.U.(B.)

REPORT - December 2-19, 1927








History of the CPSU( b) between 14th and 16th Congress







History of the CPSU (B)

- short course -




In October 1927, that is, two months before the Fifteenth Congress, the Central Committee of the Party announced a general Party discussion, and the fight began. Its result was truly lamentable for the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites: 724,000 Party members voted for the policy of the Central Committee; 4,000, or less than one per cent, for the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites. The anti-Party bloc was completely routed. The overwhelming majority of the Party members were unanimous in rejecting the platform of the bloc.

    Such was the clearly expressed will of the Party, for whose judgment the oppositionists themselves had appealed.

    But even this lesson was lost on the supporters of the bloc. Instead of submitting to the will of the Party they decided to frustrate it. Even before the discussion had closed, perceiving that ignominious failure awaited them, they decided to resort to more acute forms of struggle against the Party and the Soviet Government and to stage an open demonstration of protest in Moscow and Leningrad. The day they chose for their demonstration was November 7, the anniversary of the October Revolution, the day on which the working people of the U.S.S.R. annually hold their countrywide revolutionary demonstration. Thus, the Trotskyites and Zinovievites planned to hold a parallel demonstration. As was to be expected, the supporters of the bloc managed to bring out into the streets only a miserable handful of their satellites. These satellites and their patrons were overwhelmed by the general demonstration and swept off the streets.

    Now there was no longer any doubt that the Trotskyites and Zinovievites had become definitely anti-Soviet. During the general Party discussion they had appealed to the Party against the Central Committee; now, during their puny demonstration, they had taken the course of appealing to the hostile classes against the Party and the Soviet state. Once they had made it their aim to undermine the Bolshevik Party, they were bound to go to the length of undermining the Soviet state, for in the Soviet Union the Bolshevik Party and the state are inseparable. That being the case, the ringleaders of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites had outlawed themselves from the Party, for men who had sunk to the depths of anti-Soviet action could no longer be tolerated in the ranks of the Bolshevik Party.

    On November 14, 1927, a joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission expelled Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Party.







    By the end of 1927 the decisive success of the policy of Socialist industrialization was unmistakable. Under the New Economic Policy industrialization had made considerable progress in a short space of time. The gross output of industry and agriculture (including the timber in dustry and fisheries) had reached and even surpassed the pre-war level. Industrial output had risen to 42 per cent of the total output of the country, which was the pre-war ratio.

    The Socialist sector of industry was rapidly growing at the expense of the private sector, its output having risen from 81 per cent of the total output in 1924-25 to 86 per cent in 1926-27, the output of the private sector dropping from 19 per cent to 14 per cent in the same period.

    This meant that industrialization in the U.S.S.R was of a pronounced Socialist character, that industry was developing towards the victory of the Socialist system of production, and that as far as industry was concerned, the question -- "Who will win?" -- had already been decided in favour of Socialism.

    No less rapid was the displacement of the private dealer in the sphere of trade, his share in the retail market having fallen from 42 per cent in 1924-25 to 32 per cent in 1926-27, not to mention the wholesale market, where the share of the private dealer had fallen from 9 per cent to 5 per cent in the same period.

    Even more rapid was the rate of growth of large-scale Socialist industry, which in 1927, the first year after the restoration period, increased its output over the previous year by 18 per cent. This was a record increase, one beyond the reach of the large-scale industry of even the most advanced capitalist countries.

    But in agriculture, especially grain growing, the picture was different. Although agriculture as a whole had passed the pre-war level, the gross yield of its most important branch -- grain growing -- was only 91 per cent of pre-war, while the marketed share of the harvest, that is, the amount of grain sold for the supply of the towns, scarcely attained 37 per cent of the pre-war figure. Furthermore, all the signs pointed to the danger of a further decline in the amount of marketable grain.

    This meant that the process of the splitting up of the large farms that used to produce for the market, into small farms, and of the small farms into dwarf farms, a process which had begun in 1988, was still going on; that these small and dwarf peasant farms were reverting practically to a natural form of economy and were able to supply only a negligible quantity of grain for the market; that while in the 1927 period the grain crop was only slightly below that of the pre-war period, the marketable surplus for the supply of the towns was only a little more than one-third of the pre-war marketable surplus.

    There could be no doubt that if such a state of affairs in grain farming were to continue, the army and the urban population would be faced with chronic famine.

    This was a crisis in grain farming which was bound to be followed by a crisis in livestock farming.

    The only escape from this predicament was a change to large-scale farming which would permit the use of tractors and agricultural machines and secure a several-fold increase of the marketable surplus of grain. The country had the alternative: either to adopt large-scale capitalist farming, which would have meant the ruin of the peasant masses, destroyed the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, increased the strength of the kulaks, and led to the downfall of Socialism in the countryside; or to take the course of amalgamating the small peasant holdings into large Socialist farms, collective farms, which would be able to use tractors and other modern machines for a rapid advancement of grain farming and a rapid increase in the marketable surplus of gain.

    It is clear that the Bolshevik Party and the Soviet state could only take the second course, the collective farm way of developing agriculture.

    In this, the Party was guided by the following precepts of Lenin regarding the necessity of passing from small peasant farming to large scale, co-operative, collective farming:

    a) "There is no escape from poverty for the small farm." (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VIII, p. 195.)
b) "If we continue as of old on our small farms, even as free citizens on free land, we shall still be faced with inevitable ruin."
(Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VI, p. 370.)
c) "If peasant farming is to develop further, we must firmly assure also its transition to the next stage, and this next stage must inevitably be one in which the small, isolated peasant farms, the least profitable and most backward, will by a process of gradual amalgamation form large-scale collective farms."
(Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. IX, p. 151.)

    d) "Only if we succeed in proving to the peasants in practice the advantages of common, collective, co-operative, artel cultivation of the soil, only if we succeed in helping the peasant by means of co-operative or artel farming, will the working class, which holds the state power, be really able to convince the peasant of the correctness of its policy and to secure the real and durable following of the millions of peasants." (Lenin, Selected Works, Vol. VIII, p. 198.)

    Such was the situation prior to the Fifteenth Party Congress.

    The Fifteenth Party Congress opened on December 2, 1927. It was attended by 898 delegates with vote and 771 delegates with voice but no vote, representing 887,233 Party members and 348,957 candidate members.

    In his report on behalf of the Central Committee, Comrade Stalin referred to the good results of industrialization and the rapid expansion of Socialist industry, and set the Party the following task:

    "To extend and consolidate our Socialist key position in all economic branches in town and country and to pursue a course of eliminating the capitalist elements from the national economy."

    Comparing agriculture with industry and noting the backwardness of the former, especially of grain growing, owing to the scattered state of agriculture, which precluded the use of modern machinery, Comrade Stalin emphasized that such an unenviable state of agriculture was endangering the entire national economy.

    "What is the way out?" Comrade Stalin asked.
"The way out," he said, "is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large united farms based on the common cultivation of the soil, to introduce collective cultivation of the soil on the basis of a new and higher technique. The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, co-operative, collective cultivation of the soil with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture. There is no other way out."

    The Fifteenth Congress passed a resolution calling for the fullest development of collectivization in agriculture. The congress adopted a plan for the extension and consolidation of the collective farms and state farms and formulated explicit instructions concerning the methods to be used in the struggle for collectivization in agriculture.

    At the same time, the congress gave directions:

    "To develop further the offensive against the kulaks and to adopt a number of new measures which would restrict the development of capitalism in the countryside and guide peasant farming towards Socialism." (Resolutions of the C.P.S.U.[B.], Russ. ed., Part II, p. 260.)

    Finally, in view of the fact that economic planning had taken firm root, and with the object of organizing a systematic offensive of Socialism against the capitalist elements along the entire economic front, the congress gave instructions to the proper bodies for the drawing up of the First Five-Year Plan for the development of the national economy.

    After passing decisions on the problems of Socialist construction, the congress proceeded to discuss the question of liquidating the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites.

    The congress recognized that "the opposition has ideologically broken with Leninism, has degenerated into a Menshevik group, has taken the course of capitulation to the forces of the international and home bourgeoisie, and has objectively become a tool of counter-revolution against the regime of the proletarian dictatorship." (Ibid., p. 232.)

    The congress found that the differences between the Party and the opposition had developed into differences of program, and that the Trotsky opposition had taken the course of struggle against the Soviet power. The congress therefore declared that adherence to the Trotsky opposition and the propagation of its views were incompatible with membership of the Bolshevik Party.

    The congress approved the decision of the joint meeting of the Central Committee and the Central Control Commission to expel Trotsky and Zinoviev from the Party and resolved on the expulsion of all active members of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites, such as Radek, Preobrazhensky, Rakovsky, Pyatakov, Serebryakov, I. Smirnov, Kamenev, Sarkis, Safarov, Lifshitz, Mdivani, Smilga and the whole "Democratic-Centralism" group (Sapronov, V. Smirnov, Boguslavsky, Drobnis and others).

    Defeated ideologically and routed organizationally, the adherents of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites lost the last vestiges of their influence among the people.

    Shortly after the Fifteenth Party Congress, the expelled anti-Leninists began to hand in statements, recanting Trotskyism and asking to be reinstated in the Party. Of course, at that time the Party could not yet know that Trotsky, Rakovsky, Radek, Krestinsky, Sokolnikov and others had long been enemies of the people, spies recruited by foreign espionage services, and that Kamenev, Zinoviev, Pyatakov and others were already forming connections with enemies of the U.S.S.R in capitalist countries for the purpose of "collaboration" with them against the Soviet people. But experience had taught the Party that any knavery might be expected from these individuals, who had often attacked Lenin and the Leninist Party at the most crucial moments. It was therefore sceptical of the statements they had made in their applications for reinstatement. As a preliminary test of their sincerity, it made their reinstatement in the Party dependent on the following conditions:

    a) They must publicly denounce Trotskyism as an anti-Bolshevik and anti-Soviet ideology.

    b) They must publicly acknowledge the Party policy as the only correct policy.

    c) They must unconditionally abide by the decisions of the Party and its bodies.

    d) They must undergo a term of probation, during which the Party would test them; on the expiration of this term, the Party would consider the reinstatement of each applicant separately, depending on the results of the test.

    The Party considered that in any case the public acceptance of these points by the expelled would be all to the good of the Party, because it would break the unity of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite ranks, undermine their morale, demonstrate once more the right and the might of the Party, and enable the Party, if the applicants were sincere, to reinstate its former workers in its ranks, and if they were not sincere, to unmask them in the public eye, no longer as misguided individuals, but as unprincipled careerists, deceivers of the working class and incorrigible double-dealers.

    The majority of the expelled accepted the terms of reinstatement and made public statements in the press to this effect.

    Desiring to be clement to them, and loath to deny them an opportunity of once again becoming men of the Party and of the working class, the Party reinstated them in its ranks.

    However, time showed that, with few exceptions, the recantations of the "leading lights" of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites were false and hypocritical from beginning to end.

    It turned out that even before they had handed in their applications, these gentry had ceased to represent a political trend ready to defend their views before the people, and had become an unprincipled gang of careerists who were prepared publicly to trample on the last remnants of their own views, publicly to praise the views of the Party, which were alien to them, and -- like chameleons -- to adopt any colouring, provided they could maintain themselves in the ranks of the Party and the working class and have the opportunity to do harm to the working class and to its Party.

    The "leading lights" of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites proved to be political swindlers, political double-dealers.

    Political double-dealers usually begin with deceit and prosecute their nefarious ends by deceiving the people, the working class, and the Party of the working class. But political double-dealers are not to be regarded as mere humbugs. Political double-dealers are an unprincipled gang of political careerists who, having long ago lost the confidence of the people, strive to insinuate themselves once more into their confidence by deception, by chameleon-like changes of colour, by fraud, by any means, only that they might retain the title of political figures. Political double-dealers are an unprincipled gang of political careerists who are ready to seek support anywhere, even among criminal elements, even among the scum of society, even among the mortal enemies of the people, only that they might be able, at a "propitious" moment, again to mount the political stage and to clamber on to the back of the people as their "rulers."

    The "leading lights" of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites were political double-dealers of this very description.






    The agitation conducted by the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites against the Party policy, against the building of Socialism, and against collectivization, as well as the agitation conducted by the Bukharinites, who said that nothing would come of the collective farms, that the kulaks should be let alone because they would "grow" into Socialism of themselves, and that the enrichment of the bourgeoisie represented no danger to Socialism -- all found an eager response among the capitalist elements in the country, and above all among the kulaks. The kulaks now knew from comments in the press that they were not alone, that they had defenders and intercessors in the persons of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and others. Naturally, this could not but stiffen the kulaks' spirit of resistance against the policy of the Soviet Government. And, in fact, the resistance of the kulaks became increasingly stubborn. They refused en masse to sell to the Soviet state their grain surpluses, of which they had considerable hoards. They resorted to terrorism against the collective farmers, against Party workers and government officials in the countryside, and burned down collective farms and state granaries.

    The Party realized that until the resistance of the kulaks was broken, until they were defeated in open fight in full view of the peasantry, the working class and the Red Army would suffer from a food shortage, and the movement for collectivization among the peasants could not assume a mass character.

    In pursuance of the instructions of the Fifteenth Party Congress, the Party launched a determined offensive against the kulaks, putting into effect the slogan: rely firmly on the poor peasantry, strengthen the alliance with the middle peasantry, and wage a resolute struggle against the kulaks. In answer to the kulaks' refusal to sell their grain surpluses to the state at the fixed prices, the Party and the Government adopted a number of emergency measures against the kulaks, applied Article 107 of the Criminal Code empowering the courts to confiscate grain surpluses from kulaks and profiteers in case they refused to sell them to the state at the fixed prices, and granted the poor peasants a number of privileges, under which 25 per cent of the confiscated kulak grain was placed at their disposal.

    These emergency measures had their effect: the poor and middle peasants joined in the resolute fight against the kulaks; the kulaks were isolated, and the resistance of the kulaks and the profiteers was broken. By the end of 1928, the Soviet state already had sufficient stocks of grain at its disposal, and the collective-farm movement began to advance with surer strides.

    That same year, a large organization of wreckers, consisting of bourgeois experts, was discovered in the Shakhty district of the Donetz Coal Basin. The Shakhty wreckers were closely connected with the former mine owners -- Russian and foreign capitalists -- and with a foreign military espionage service. Their aim was to disrupt the development of Socialist industry and to facilitate the restoration of capitalism in the U.S.S.R. The wreckers had deliberately mismanaged the mines in order to reduce the output of coal, spoiled machinery and ventilation apparatus, caused roof-falls and explosions, and set fire to pits, plants and power stations. The wreckers had deliberately obstructed the improvement of the workers' conditions and had infringed the Soviet labour protection laws.

    The wreckers were put on trial and met with their deserts.

    The Central Committee of the Party directed all Party organizations to draw the necessary conclusions from the Shakhty case. Comrade Stalin declared that Bolshevik business executives must themselves become experts in the technique of production, so as no longer to be the dupes of the wreckers among the old bourgeois experts, and that the training of new technical personnel from the ranks of the working class must be accelerated.

    In accordance with a decision of the Central Committee, the training of young experts in the technical colleges was improved. Thousands of Party members, members of the Young Communist League and non-Party people devoted to the cause of the working class were mobilized for study.

    Before the Party took the offensive against the kulaks, and while it was engaged in liquidating the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites, the Bukharin-Rykov group had been more or less lying low, holding themselves as a reserve of the anti-Party forces, not venturing to support the Trotskyites openly, and sometimes even acting together with the Party against the Trotskyites. But when the Party assumed the offensive against the kulaks, and adopted emergency measures against them, the Bukharin-Rykov group threw off their mask and began to attack the Party policy openly. The kulak soul of the Bukharin-Rykov group got the better of them, and they began to come out openly in defence of the kulaks. They demanded the repeal of the emergency measures, frightening the simple-minded with the argument that otherwise agriculture would begin to "decay," and even affirming that this process had already begun. Blind to the growth of the collective farms and state farms, those superior forms of agricultural organization, and perceiving the decline of kulak farming, they represented the decay of the latter as the decay of agriculture. In order to provide a theoretical backing for their case, they concocted the absurd "theory of the subsidence of the class-struggle," maintaining, on the strength of this theory, that the class struggle would grow milder with every victory gained by Socialism against the capitalist elements, that the class struggle would soon subside altogether and the class enemy would surrender all his positions without a fight, and that, consequently, there was no need for an offensive against the kulaks. In this way they tried to furbish up their threadbare bourgeois theory that the kulaks would peaceably grow into Socialism, and rode roughshod over the well-known thesis of Leninism that the resistance of the class enemy would assume more acute forms as the progress of Socialism cut the ground from under his feet and that the class struggle could "subside" only after the class enemy was destroyed.

    It was easy to see that in the Bukharin-Rykov group the Party was faced with a group of Right opportunists who differed from the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites only in form, only in the fact that the Trotskyite and Zinovievite capitulators had had some opportunity of masking their true nature with Left, revolutionary vociferations about "permanent revolution," whereas the Bukharin-Rykov group, attacking the Party as they did for taking the offensive against the kulaks, could not possibly mask their capitulatory character and had to defend the reactionary forces in our country, the kulaks in particular, openly, without mask or disguise.

    The Party understood that sooner or later the Bukharin-Rykov group was bound to join hands with the remnants of the bloc of Trotskyites and Zinovievites for common action against the Party.

    Parallel with their political pronouncements, the Bukharin-Rykov group "worked" to muster and organize their following. Through Bukharin, they banded together young bourgeois elements like Slepkov, Maretsky, Eichenwald, Goldenberg; through Tomsky -- high bureaucrats in the trade unions (Melnichansky, Dogadov and others); through Rykov -- demoralized high Soviet officials (A. Smirnov, Eismont, V. Schmidt, and others). The group readily attracted people who had degenerated politically, and who made no secret of their capitulatory sentiments.

    About this time the Bukharin-Rykov group gained the support of high functionaries in the Moscow Party organization (Uglanov, Kotov, Ukhanov, Ryutin, Yagoda, Polonsky, and others). A section of the Rights kept under cover, abstaining from open attacks on the Party line. In the Moscow Party press and at Party meetings, it was advocated that concessions must be made to the kulaks, that heavy taxation of kulaks was inadvisable, that industrialization was burdensome to the people, and that the development of heavy industry was premature. Uglanov opposed the Dnieper hydro-electric scheme and demanded that funds be diverted from heavy industry to the light industries. Uglanov and the other Right capitulators maintained that Moscow was and would remain a gingham city, and that there was no need to build engineering works in Moscow.

    The Moscow Party organization unmasked Uglanov and his followers, gave them a final warning and rallied closer than ever around the Central Committee of the Party. At a plenary meeting of the Moscow Committee of the C.P.S.U.(B.), held in 1928, Comrade Stalin said that a fight must be waged on two fronts, with the fire concentrated on the Right deviation. The Rights, Comrade Stalin said, were kulak agents inside the Party.

    "The triumph of the Right deviation in our Party would unleash the forces of capitalism, undermine the revolutionary position of the proletariat and increase the chances of restoring capitalism in our country," said Comrade Stalin. (Stalin, Leninism, Vol. II.)






15th Congress

December 1927

























trotzkistisch-sinowjewistischer parteifeindlicher Block










Central Committee elected by the 15th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)



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