V. I. Lenin

Letter To The Editors Of

Ekonomikeskaya Zhizn

Written: 20 August, 1921
First Published: November 6, 1921 In Ekonomicluskuva Zhirn No. 31; Published according to the manuscript
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 2nd English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965, Volume 33, pages 36-38
Translated: David Skvirsky and George Hanna
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

September 1

The conversion of Ekonomikeskaya Zhizn into the official organ of the Council of Labour and Defence should not he a simple and empty formality.

The paper must become a militant organ that not only, first, provides regular and truthful information on our economy but, secondly, analyses the information, processes it scientifically to arrive at the right conclusions for the management of industry, etc., and, thirdly and lastly, tightens up the discipline of all workers on the economic front, ensures punctuality in reporting, approves good work and exposes inaccurate, backward and incompetent workers in a certain factory, office, branch of economy, etc., to the judgement of all.

The paper provides a mass of valuable, especially statistical, material on our economy. That material, however, suffers from two faults-it is casual, incomplete, unsystematic and, what is more, net processed, not analysed.

I will give you examples to explain this.

The article “The Moscow Basin in July” (No. 188) is one of the best because it analyses the data, compares them with the past and compares the enterprises one with another. The analysis, however, is incomplete. There is no explanation of why one enterprise (the Tovarkovo mines) has solved a problem others have not solved. No practical deduction is made. There is no comparison with annual data.

In issue No. 190, on page 2, there is an abundance of statistical details, usual for the paper, but they are not “digested” at all, they are casual, raw, without a suggestion of analysis and are not compared (with the past or with other enterprises), etc.

The following changes must be made if the paper is to be the real organ of the Council of Labour and Defence, and not its organ in words alone.

(1) Keep a strict check on unpunctual and incomplete reports sent to relevant organisations and publicly list those that are inaccurate; at the same time work to ensure (through the People's Commissariat concerned or through the directorate of the Council of Labour and Defence) precise reporting.

(2) All statistical data must be much more strictly, that is, more carefully and thoroughly, systematised, and data must be obtained for comparison, always using the data for past years (past months, etc.); always select material for analysis that will explain the reasons for failure, and will make prominent some successfully operating enterprises or, at least, those that are ahead of the rest, etc.

(3) Organise a network of local correspondents, both Communists and non-Party people; allot greater space to local correspondence from factories, mines, state farms, railway depots and workshops, etc.

(4) Publish returns on the most important problems of our economy as special supplements. The returns absolutely must be processed, with an all-round analysis and practical conclusions.

Since we are short of newsprint, we must economise. And we probably can. For instance, reduce the number of copies from 44,000 to 30,000 (quite enough if correctly distributed, allowing two copies to each of 10,000 volosts, four to each of 1,000 uyezds, ten to each of 100 gubernias and 5,000 extra—all of them to go only to libraries, editorial offices and a few institutions). That will leave enough newsprint for eight supplements, each of two pages, a month.

That would be sufficient for monthly returns on a large number of important points (fuel; industry-two or three supplements; transport; food supplies; state farms, etc.).

These supplements should provide summarised statistics on the most important branches of the economy and they should be processed and analysed, nod practical conclusions should he drawn from them.

The entire statistical material in the daily paper—there is a great deal of it but it is fragmentary—should be adjusted to the monthly reports and shorn of all details and trivialities, etc.

Since, in many cases, Ekonotnicheskaya Zhizn and the Central Statistical Board use the same sources, the supplements to the newspaper should (for the time being) replace the publications of the Central Statistical Board.

(5) All current statistical material should be divided between (a) employees of Ekonornicheskaya Zhizn, (b) members of the State Planning Commission and (c) members or employees of the Central Statistical Board in such a way that each should be in charge of one branch of the economy, and should be responsible for—

(aa) the timely receipt of reports and summaries; for a successful "struggle" to get them; for repeated demands for them, etc.;

(bb) for the summarising and analysis of data, and

(cc) for practical conclusions.

(6) Ekonomichiskaya Zhizn must keep track of enterprises granted as concessions and those leased, as far as their reporting is concerned and also by way of supervision and the drawing of conclusions, in the same way as it keeps track of all others.

Please arrange for a conference to include an editor of Ekonomicheskaya Zhizn, one member of the Central statistical Board and one member of the State Planning Commission to discuss these questions and measures to be taken. Please inform me of the decisions of the conference.

Chairman of the Council of Labour and Defence

P. S. Will that conference please discuss the question of elaborating an index-number[These words are in English in the original—Editor.] to determine the general state of our economy. This index should be published every month.