V. I. Lenin

Speech Delivered At An Enlarged Conference Of

Moscow Metalworkers[1]

February 4, 1920

Delivered:4 February, 1921
First Published: In full in 1927; Published according to a typewritten copy of the minutes
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 1st English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 32, pages 108-111
Translated: Yuri Sdobnikov
Transcription\HTML Markup: David Walters & R. 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

I regret that I am unable to participate in the work of your Conference and that I must confine myself to a brief statement of my views.

From the speeches the comrades have delivered here I gather that you want to know all about the sowing campaign. Very many people think that there is something tricky about the Soviet government’s policy towards the peasants. Our policy in this sphere is one that we are always ready to reveal to the masses. The fundamental problem of the Soviet power is that our own victories have not yet been followed by victories in other countries. If you give our Constitution a careful reading, you will see that we have not made any fantastic promises, but insist on the need for dictatorship, because the whole bourgeois world is against us.

We are told: the peasants’ condition is not the same as that of the workers, there is some trick in this. But it is one that we have openly proclaimed.

Anyone who has stopped to think of the relation of forces between ourselves and the bourgeoisie knows that they are stronger; yet, for three years, they have been unable to crush us. That is not a miracle; we do not believe in miracles. The simple truth is that they cannot unite, and are quarrelling over the division of the spoils. Most of the oppressed countries are colonies, and a minority live on their labour, but atop a volcano.

They are stronger, but the movement is growing over there as well. The capitalists have a stronger military force, but they have had a set-back, and we say: the worst is over, but the enemy will make further attempts. Of the Europeans who have visited us none has claimed that his country could have avoided the rags and the queues; and they all agree that, after six years of war, even Britain would have been in a similar state.

We must do our best to establish proper relations between the wor1srs and the peasants. The peasants are another class. We shall have socialism when there are no classes, when all the means of production belong to the working people. We still have classes, it will take many, many years to abolish them, and only a quack will promise to do it overnight. The peasants prefer to go it alone, each one on his own farm, and with his own stock of corn. This givss them power over everybody. An armed enemy is lying in wait for us, and if we are to prevent him from overthrowing us, we must establish proper relations between the workers and the peasants.

If you take the workers and the peasants, you will find that the latter are more numerous. The capitalists claim to have a democracy under which workers and peasants enjoy equal rights. So long as the peasants follow the bourgeoisie and the workers are isolated, they will be defeated. If we forget that, the capitalists will beat us. We have not promised equality, and we have not got it. There can be no equality so long as one has plenty of corn and the other has none.

The capitalists realised that you can share out the land, but not the factories. We have a dictatorship of the prole-tariat, a term that scares the peasants, but it is the only means of uniting them and making them fellow the lead of the workers. We believe this is the correct solution, and the working class will succeed in uniting the peasantry. Only then will the road be open to further advance towards the abolition of classes.

What is the policy of the American capitalists? They are doling out land, and the peasants follow them and are lulled by their talk of equality. Either you are duped in this fashion, or you see through it, unite with the workers and drive out the capitalists.

This is our policy, and you will find it in our Constitu-tion. 1 was told here that we ought to review the sowing campaign plans. I know that this spring the peasants are having it very bad. For the workers, the worst is over. We have not promised equality to anyone: if you want to be with the workers, come with us, come over to the socialist side; if not, go over to the Whites. We never promised a liberal regime; the one we have has helped us to escape the bondage of the landowners and capitalists. During these three years the workers starved and froze, and took over the idle factories. But they also got the power. Even the peasants in the fertile areas came to see the difference between the workers’ rule and Denikin’s, and they have made their choice. Our victory over Denikin was not a miracle; it was due to the fact that even the rich peasants realised what the Constituent Assembly had come to; this drove home the point that the proof of the pudding was in the eating.

The peasants realised that the more territory the Whites seized, the more peasants would he drafted into the army, and as soon as enough of them had been collected in the army, they overthrew Denikin.

We do not promise a land flowing with milk and honey. But over there you are promised equality, and get saddled with a landowner. That is why we won.

We are told we ought to review our plans for the sowing campaign. I say: nobody has suffered as much as the workers. During this period, the peasants received land and could obtain corn. This winter the peasants are in desperate straits and their discontent is understandable.

Let us review the relations between the workers and the peasants. We have said that the workers have made incredible sacrifices. This year the peasants are in a terrible plight, and we know it. We are not opposed to reviewing these relations. What is the main goal of the sowing cam-paign? It is to sow all the land, otherwise we are surely doomed. Do you know how much grain has been taken from the peasants this year? About three hundred million poods. What would the working class have done without it? Even so it starved. We know that the conditions of the peasants are hard, but there is no other way out of the situation. We have completely suspended the surplus grain appropriation system in thirteen gubernias. Last year we supplied eight million poods of seed grain, and after the harvest we got back six million poods. Now we have supplied approximately fifteen million. To cancel the sowing campaign would be like jumping out of a fifth storey window. We cannot promise the peasants to relieve them of want at a stroke; to do that our factories would have to multiply their output a hundredfold.

If we did not give the workers even the short ration they are now getting, industry would have ground down to a stop.

It is true that for three years the workers got nothing at all. But there is no cure-all.

The working class has been exhausted by these three years, and this spring will be a very hard one for the peasants. But you help us with the sowing campaign-to sow all the fields-then we shall manage to overcome our difficulties.

In Hungary, the peasants failed to help the Hungarian workers and fell under the power of the landowners.

There is the alternative before you. What is the way out of this difficult situation? It is to concentrate efforts on the sowing campaign, point out the mistakes, and make corrections; otherwise there is no way out of the difficulties.


[1] The Conference was held in Trade Union House on February 4, 1921, arid was attended by about 1,000 delegates from Moscow and Moscow Gubernia. In view of the acute food crisis, the main reports dealt with the food situation and the working-class atti-tude to the peasantry. Wage rates and the trade unions’ role in production were also discussed. A resolution adopted on the report about the relations between the workers and the peasants stressed the need to substitute a tax in kind for the surplus appropriation system. The Menshevik and S. R. delegates tried to use the country’s difficulties to incite the delegates against the Soviet Government’s economic policy and against the Communist Party but were rebuffed by the Conference. At the delegates’ request, Lenin addressed the final sitting of the Conference.