Delivered: 30 March, 1919
First Published: Brief report published in the newspaper Izvestia No. 70, April 1, 1919; First published in run In 1932; Published according to the verbatim report
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 29, pages 233-236
Translated: George Hanna
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Copyleft: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive (www.marx.org) 2002; Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.
Comrades! To find a person who could take the place of Comrade Yakov Mildiailovich Sverdlov in full is an exceedingly difficult task, for it is next to impossible for any one man to he at once a leading Party worker, moreover one who knows the history of the Party, and an excellent judge of people capable of choosing leading functionaries for the Soviets. It would be impossible to expect any one comrade to assume all the functions that Comrade Sverdlov took care of alone—on this all were agreed when candidacies were discussed in the Party—and hence we shall have to entrust the various functions to whole collegiums that will meet daily and direct the different spheres of work. As far as the chairman is concerned, we must ensure that he expresses the Party line in respect of the peasantry.
You know that our approach to the middle peasants as set forth at the Party Congress introduces no change in our general policy. The tasks we have outlined in regard to the middle peasants must be carried out once our primary problem—the suppression of the bourgeoisie—has been solved. The question of the attitude to the middle peasants is a more acute problem for us than for our comrades in Europe, and we must make sure that we have at the head of the Soviet state a comrade who can demonstrate that our decision in this matter will really be carried out.
I believe that we can and must find a comrade who will devote himself wholly to carrying out the line of the leading Party in respect of the middle peasants. We know that at present the problem of gathering and transmitting information is particularly acute. We know that the break-down of transport facilities and the existence of civil war, which at times interrupts communications between the centre and entire regions, not to speak of separate gubernias—we know that under the circumstances this problem requires special attention.
We know that we can solve this problem if we find a comrade with the necessary experience and knowledge of the life of the middle peasants, and I believe that the candidacy of which you read in today’s papers meets all these requirements. This is the candidacy of Comrade Kalinin.
Here we have a comrade who has been engaged in Party work for nearly twenty years. He is a peasant from Tver Gubernia, who has close connections with peasant farming which he constantly renews and freshens. Petrograd workers have witnessed his ability to approach wide sections of the working masses who had had no Party experience; where other propagandists and agitators failed to find the right, comradely approach to them, Comrade Kalinin succeeded. All this is especially important at the present time. Of course, the middle peasantry as a whole, all the best elements among them, are giving us the resolute support that will overcome all difficulties and put down the revolt of the rural kulaks and that insignificant minority of the rural masses who follow them. We know that our main task in a country of small peasants is to ensure an indestructible alliance of the workers and the middle peasants. Our agrarian measures—complete abolition of landed proprietorship and determined assistance to the middle peasants—have already produced results, and in the course of the past year have led to an increase in the number of middle peasants. But in the localities people have frequently been appointed to administrative posts who were not up to the job.
There have been cases of abuses, but we are not to blame for them. We know that we have (lone everything we could to enlist the intelligentsia, but there were political differences that kept us apart. We know that the epoch of bourgeois parliamentarism has ended, that the sympathy of the workers of the whole world is with Soviet power, and that the victory of Soviet power is inevitable, no matter how many proletarian leaders the bourgeoisie may kill, as they are doing in Germany. The sum total of their experience will, in the long run, inevitably bring the intelligentsia into our ranks, and we shall acquire the material with which we can govern. We shall see to it that alien elements who have attached themselves to Soviet power are removed—indeed, they are one cause of dissatisfaction which we are not afraid to admit is legitimate. We must pay maximum attention to the fight against this evil. At the Party Congress we decided firmly to make this line of conduct obligatory for all functionaries.
We must say that we see no way of introducing socialist farming other than through a series of comradely agreements with the middle peasants, to whom we must turn more and more often.
We know also that comrades who bore the brunt of the work in the period of the revolution and were completely engrossed in this work, were unable to approach the middle peasants as they should have, they could not avoid making mistakes, each of which was seized upon by our enemies, each of which gave rise to certain doubts and complicated the middle peasant’s attitude toward us.
That is why it is very important for this purpose to find a comrade possessing the qualities I have mentioned. We must help him with our organisational experience, so that the middle peasants should see that they have one of their own as the highest functionary in the whole Soviet Republic, so that the decision of our Party calling for a proper approach to the middle peasant and declaring our resolve to examine, study every step we make and test it in the light of the experience we have gained will not remain on paper.
We know that the numbers of our allies are growing, that they will increase many times over in the next few months, but for the time being the burden rests wholly on our country, which is greatly ruined and impoverished. The load is more than the middle peasant can carry. We must go to him and do everything we can, we must make him understand and show him in practice that we are firmly resolved to carry out the decisions of our Party Congress.
That is why the candidacy of a man like Comrade Kalinin ought to have the unanimous support of us all. His candidacy will enable us to organise practically a series of direct contacts between the highest representative of Soviet power and the middle peasants; it will help to bring us closer to them.
This aim cannot be achieved at once, but we have no doubt that the decision we propose to make will be the correct one, though we know that we have little practical experience in this respect. Let the highest representative of the Soviet Republic himself be the first, with our joint assistance, to begin acquiring this experience, gather the full sum of knowledge, and check up; then we can be certain that we shall solve the task facing us, that Russia will become not only the model of a country where the dictatorship of the proletariat has been firmly established and the bourgeoisie ruthlessly suppressed—this has already been done-but also the model of a country where the relations between the urban workers and the middle peasants are satisfactorily arranged oil the basis of comradely support and new experience; this is one of the main guarantees of the complete victory of the proletarian revolution.
That is why I take it upon myself to recommend to you this candidacy—the candidacy of Comrade Kalinin.