Seventeenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party Bolshevik
Seventeenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)
held Jan. 26 to Feb. 10, 1934, in Moscow; attended by 1,225 delegates with a casting vote and 736 delegates with a consultative vote, representing 1,872,488 party members and 935,298 candidate members. The agenda included a report from the Central Committee of the ACP(B) by J. V. Stalin, a report from the Central Auditing Commission by M. F. Vladimirskii, a report from the Central Control Commission and the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection by la. E. Rudzutak, and a report from the party’s delegation to the Executive Committee of the Communist International (the Comintern) by D. Z. Manuil’skii. Also on the agenda were reports on the second five-year plan by V. M. Molotov and V. V. Kuibyshev, a report on organizational questions regarding the party and the soviets by L. M. Kaganovich. and the election of central party bodies.
At the time of the Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) the Soviet people were experiencing general political and labor enthusiasm, owing to the successful completion of the first five-year plan in four years (1929–32), as well as the decisive victory of the Leninist policy of socialist industrialization, the organization of the peasantry into producers’ cooperatives, and the abolition of the exploiting classes in the USSR. The party came to the congress solidly united. A prolonged internal conflict had culminated in the defeat of the oppositionists, who lacked faith in the possibility of building socialism in the USSR and obstructed the implementation of the party’s general line.
An analysis of the international situation was presented at the Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B). As the economic crisis of 1929–33 gave way to a special type of depression, threatening the capitalist system with new economic upheavals and giving rise to conditions that strengthened the working-class and democratic movements, the imperialist bourgeoisie resorted to establishing fascist regimes and adopted a policy of military adventurism. The Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) pointed out the danger of an imperialist war that would directly threaten the USSR, emphasized the need for special viligance, and designated the continued improvement of the country’s defensive capability as one of the main tasks of the second five-year plan.
The party congress tallied the results of the first five-year plan, the fulfillment of which had transformed the USSR from a backward agrarian country into an industrial power with a collectivized agriculture: “The foundations of a socialist economy had been built, the last capitalist class—the kulaks—had been destroyed, and the bulk of the peasantry, the kolkhozniks, had become a reliable base of support for Soviet power in the countryside; the USSR had placed itself firmly on the road to socialism once and for all” (KPSS v. rezoliutsiiakh…, 8th ed., vol. 5, 1971, p. 129). The congress approved the political and practical work of the Central Committee of the ACP(B) and adopted a resolution promising to be guided by the propositions and tasks presented in the report from the Central Committee.
The Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) also passed resolutions approving the work of the Central Control Commission and Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection, as well as the actions of the party’s delegation to the Executive Committee of the Communist International.
The party congress adopted the resolution On the Second Five-year Economic Development Plan of the USSR (1933–1937). The main political tasks of the second five-year plan were to completely eliminate remaining capitalist elements and sources of the exploitation of man by man and to strengthen and expand socialist production relations. The main economic task was to complete the technological modernization of the entire economy. The Seventeenth party congress designated the mastery of the new technology as the principal condition for fulfilling the five-year plan. An average annual increase of 16.5 percent in industrial output was to be stipulated in the second five-year plan, under which the productivity of labor would be increased by 63 percent, and the prime cost of production lowered by 26 percent. The total value of new and rebuilt plants put into operation under the second five-year plan was to be 132 billion rubles—three times the figure achieved under the first five-year plan. About half of all capital investment was earmarked for establishing bases for the industrialization of the eastern regions—the Urals, Siberia, Bashkiria, Kazakhstan, and Middle Asia. The organization of the peasantry into cooperatives and the technical reorganization of agriculture were to be completed in the countryside. The Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) indicated that the basic economic activities would be the introduction of economic accountability, the strengthening of discipline in planning and finances, and the stabilization of the ruble. The training of qualified technical personnel was emphasized by the party congress. A substantial increase in the national income was envisaged, as well as further improvement in the material and cultural level of the working people.
The Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) elaborated more specific formulations on a number of questions of Marxist-Leninist doctrine on socialist society, including the intensification and improvement of the organizing role of the state, in the form of the dictatorship of the proletariat, during the period of transition to socialism, as well as the correct interpretation of the concept of equality under socialism (Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, book 2, 1971, pp. 270–72).
The Seventeenth party congress adopted a resolution on organizational questions, pointing out that because of the complexity of the tasks facing the party in completing the reorganization of the economy, it was necessary to place organizational work on a par with political leadership. A revised version of the party rules was adopted, with amendments designed to strengthen the leading role of the party in building socialist society. For the first time, the party rules included an introduction emphasizing that the Communist Party “is the advanced and organized detachment of the proletariat of the USSR, the highest form of its class organization” (KPSS ν rezoliutsiiakh…, 8th ed., vol. 5, 1971, p. 160).
More stringent demands were placed on Communists and on applicants for party membership. The number of recommendations required of new applicants was increased, as was the length of membership for those giving recommendations. The conditions for admission to membership in the party were differentiated in terms of four social categories. To ensure that the party would grow primarily through an influx of workers, preference was given to workers, in comparison with other social groupings. A new section entitled On Inner Party Democracy and Party Discipline was added to the rules, stressing the necessity for all party members to observe the strictest discipline, as well as the inadmissibility of factions and groupings. At the same time, the new section of the party rules pointed out the inalienable right of every party member to engage in free, businesslike discussion of all questions of party policy. To bring nonparty activists who helped the party closer to the ACP(B), groups of sympathizers were formed in the lowest level party organizations.
The Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) decided to reorganize party cells at enterprises and in institutions, sovkhozes, kolkhozes, and military units into primary party organizations, in order to strengthen their influence in the resolution of production problems and to enhance the role of Communists in the workplace.
With regard to government organization, the Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B) oriented the party organizations toward the task of improving the structure and functioning of government bodies and combating the excessive growth of the administrative and economic apparatus.
The Central Control Commission and Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection was reorganized into the Commission of Party Control of the Central Committee of the ACP(B), and the Commission of Soviet Control under the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR.
Speeches expressing repentance and acknowledging the party’s successes were given by former leaders of opposition groups, including N. I. Bukharin, G. E. Zinoviev, L. B. Kame-nev, A. I. Rykov, and M. P. Tomskii. The congress gave a guarded reception to these speakers, whose capitulationist policies had obstructed the party’s advance. The delegates demanded that these speakers show not in words but by deeds that they were ready to join the party in carrying out its policy line.
A Central Committee of 71 members and 58 candidate members was elected. A new Central Auditing Commission and a Commission of Party Control were elected, and the membership of the Commission of Soviet Control was approved by secret ballot.
Representatives of many other Communist parties took part in the work of the Seventeenth Congress of the ACP(B), highly praising the successes achieved by the USSR, as well as the foreign and domestic policies pursued by the ACP(B), and demonstrating the unity of the Communist vanguard of the international working-class movement.
REFERENCESXVII s”ezd VKP(b): Stenograficheskii otchet. Moscow, 1934.
KPSS ν rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferenlsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 5. Moscow, 1971.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, book 2. Moscow, 1971.
B. V. GAUBIKH