Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik

Tenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)


held in Moscow on Mar. 8-16, 1921, and attended by 717 delegates with a casting vote and 418 delegates with a consultative vote, representing 732,521 party members.

In terms of social status, the delegates with a casting vote included 257 workers, 52 artisans and peasants, 109 office employees, 223 intellectuals, including students, and 63 from other social groups. (There is no information on the remaining delegates.) By education, 41.9 percent of the delegates with a casting vote had a higher or a secondary education, 48.4 percent had an elementary school education, and 7.4 percent had been educated outside of schools or at home. (There is no information on 2.3 percent of the delegates.) Of the delegates with a casting vote, 0.3 percent were under 20 years old, 18.9 percent were between 20 and 24, 33.4 percent were between 25 and 29, 24.8 percent were between 30 and 34, 14.9 percent were between 35 and 39 years, 5 percent were between 40 and 44, 1.6 percent were between 45 and 49, and 1.1 percent were 50 or older. By length of party membership, 8.8 percent of the delegates with a casting vote had joined the party before 1905, 9.2 percent between 1905 and 1907, 17.4 percent between 1908 and 1916, 25.5 percent in 1917, 20.5 percent in 1918, 14 percent in 1919, and 3.3 percent in 1920. (There is no information on 1.3 percent of the delegates.)

The agenda of the Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik) included the report of the Central Committee, which was delivered by V. I. Lenin, the organizational report of the Central Committee, which was delivered by N. N. Krestinskii, and the report of the Control Commission, which was delivered by A. A. Sol’ts. A report on the Central Administration of Political Educational Institutions and on the party’s agitation and propaganda work was presented by E. A. Preobrazhenskii, and the report on the current tasks of the party on the nationalities question was read by J. V. Stalin (coreporter, G. I. Safarov). A report on the problems of building up the party was delivered by N. I. Bukharin (coreporters—E. N. Ignatov, V. N. Maksimovskii, and I. T. Smilga), and a report on the trade unions and their role in the country’s economic life was presented by G. E. Zinoviev (coreporters—L. D. Trotsky and A. G. Shliapnikov). Also included on the agenda was a report on replacing the requisitioning of surplus grain with a tax in kind, read by Lenin (coreporter, A. D. Tsuriupa). L. B. Kamenev gave a report on the Socialist Republic encircled by the capitalists, G. E. Zinoviev read the report of the representative of the RCP(Bolshevik) in the Comintern, and Lenin presented a report on party unity and the anarchist-syndicalist deviation. Elections to the governing bodies of the party were held. In addition to the agenda that was announced in advance, the congress heard a report by M. S. Ol’minskii on the work of Istpart (the Commission on the History of the RCP(Bolshevik) and the October Revolution). Closed sessions held on March 12-14 discussed the military question (the reorganization of the Red Army). Lenin directed the work of the congress.

The Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik) was held under grave, complex conditions, at a time when Soviet Russia was converting from war to peaceful development. The country had been ruined by the imperialist and civil wars. There were acute shortages of manufactured goods, foodstuffs, and fuel, and the transportation system had been destroyed. The demobilization of the army created additional grave difficulties. The peasantry expressed its dissatisfaction with the system of requisitioning of foodstuffs, which had been imposed during the Civil War. The situation was so serious that dissatisfaction spread even to some strata of the workers. A number of anti-Soviet elements became more active, including the White Guards, Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s), Mensheviks, anarchists, and bourgeois nationalists, who were supported by foreign imperialist circles. Several anti-Soviet revolts broke out, the most dangerous of which was the Kronstadt Anti-Soviet Revolt of 1921. Within the Communist Party, antiparty groups were revived, including the Trotskyites, the Workers’ Opposition, and the “Democratic Centralists”(detsisty). Debate on the trade unions became especially bitter.

After their armed intervention against the Soviet Republic was defeated, the imperialist countries were compelled to establish economic relations with the RSFSR. Nevertheless, they continued their struggle, organizing plots and sabotage and hatching plans for a new military attack. The Communist Party, led by Lenin, found a way out of this extremely complicated situation, which was fraught with enormous difficul-ties, and guided the Soviet country onto the victorious path of building socialism.

In his opening speech and the report on the political activity of the Central Committee of the RCP(Bolshevik), Lenin described the party’s postwar policy toward the capitalist countries and further developed the idea that peaceful coexistence between states with different socioeconomic systems was possible. He declared that “our attention and all our endeavors were aimed at switching from our relations of war with the capitalist countries to relations of peace and trade”(Poln. sobr. sock., 5th ed., vol. 43, p. 19). After describing the tremendous difficulties confronting the party and the entire country in the wake of the Civil War, Lenin defined the party’s tasks in economic development and in the relations between classes within the country. In particular, he directed the delegates’ attention to the necessity of strengthening the alliance of the working class and the peasantry on a new economic basis, pointing out that the requisitioning of surplus grain that had been ordered under the conditions of War Communism during the Civil War had been dictated by necessity. In the report On the Substitution of a Tax in Kind for the Surplus-grain Appropriation System, Lenin pointed out that requisitioning must be replaced by a tax in kind, in order to improve the conditions of the working peasantry as much as possible and to create conditions for an upswing in agriculture and the whole national economy. On his initiative, the congress adopted an extremely important decision on replacing the policy of War Communism with the New Economic Policy (NEP), which was designed to build socialism in the country. The congress decided to replace the requisition of surplus grain with a tax in kind. In addition, it adopted a special resolution On Improving the Conditions of the Workers and Needy Peasants.

Lenin argued that a strengthening of the alliance of the working class and the peasantry on a new economic basis would ensure the successful building of socialism. Discussing the socialist reorganization of agriculture and the adoption of collective forms of agriculture by the peasantry, he pointed out that agricultural reorganization could be accomplished successfully only after the development of large-scale industry. Lenin remarked that “it will take generations to remold the small farmer and recast his mentality and habits. The only way to solve this problem of the small farmer—to improve, so to speak, his mentality—is through the material basis: technical equipment, extensive use of tractors and other farm machinery, and electrification on a mass scale. This would remake the small farmer fundamentally and with tremendous speed”(ibid., p. 60). Lenin also emphasized the role of cooperatives in the building of socialism.

The implementation of the decisions of the congress on introducing the NEP ensured the restoration and further development of the national economy, the victory of socialist over capitalist elements, and the building of socialism in the USSR. The principles of the economic policy elaborated by Lenin had an international significance and in later years guided the policies of Communist and workers’ parties in building socialism in a number of countries.

The congress’ resolution On the Party’s Present Tasks Concerning the Nationality Problem gave a comprehensive analysis of the party’s nationality policy. The congress pointed out that the establishment of the Soviet system in Russia and the proclamation of the right of nations (natsii: nation in the historical sense) to self-determination, including separation from the central state, had removed the basis for old national animosities and created conditions for friendship between the Russian workers and peasants and the toiling masses of all Russia’s nationalities, as well as for a fraternal international alliance with the toiling people of Europe and Asia. The Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik) established the goals of gradually eliminating the political, economic, and cultural backwardness of formerly oppressed peoples of Russia and helping them to develop industry, strengthen Soviet statehood, and develop education and the press. According to the congress, the common economic, political, and defense interests of the Soviet republics made it necessary for them to unite voluntarily in one state. Tendencies toward great-power chauvinism and local nationalism were severely condemned.

The result of the debate on the trade unions was the rejection by the congress of the views of the Trotskyites, the Workers’ Opposition, and the “Democratic Centralists,” whose representatives championed their antiparty opinions even at the congress. The resolution On the Role and Tasks of the Trade Unions, which the congress adopted by a majority vote, incorporated Lenin’s definition of the role of the trade unions as educational organizations and schools of administration, economic management, and communism.

The congress adopted several decisions on building up the party, which were designed to develop internal party democracy, improve composition of the party ranks, and raise the consciousness and improve the communist upbringing, activity, independence, and initiative of all party members. The Central Committee of the RCP(Bolshevik) was instructed by the congress to carry out a purge of the party.

The resolution On the Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviations in Our Party, which the congress adopted after Lenin’s report on party unity and the anarchist-syndicalist deviations, strongly condemned the antiparty views of the Workers’ Opposition and other factional groups that were guilty of the syndicalist and anarchist deviations and declared that propagandizing these views was incompatible with membership in the RCP(Bolshevik).

The Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik) adopted a special resolution On Party Unity, which was submitted by Lenin. It declared that all forms of factionalism are harmful and cannot be tolerated and prescribed that all factions be immediately dissolved. Paragraph 7 of the resolution invested the Central Committee of the Party with “the power to apply, in the case (or cases) of violation of discipline or of the reappearance of factionalism and the carrying on of factional activities, all available party measures, including expulsion from the party or, with respect to members of the Central Committee, demotion to candidate members and even, as an extreme measure, expulsion from the party”(KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh, 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, pp. 220-21). This paragraph, which was first made public after the Thirteenth Party Conference of the RCP(Bolshevik) in January 1924, played an important role in the struggle for party unity. The decision of the Tenth Congress of the RCP(Bolshevik) on party unity became an immutable principle in the life and development of the Communist Party.

The statute on control commissions, which was adopted by the congress, provided the establishment of the Central Control Commission and of control commissions of the oblast and provincial party committees. This measure was extremely important to the struggle to strengthen the party and to improve the machinery of state. The congress approved the activity of the RCP(Bolshevik) delegation in the Executive Committee of the Comintern and declared that a resolute struggle had to be waged against right-wing opportunism as well as anarchist and semianarchist deviations in the international Communist movement.

After discussing the military question, the congress adopted a special decision (originally not published) directed at strengthening the Red Army and Navy and raising the country’s defense capability. At the evening session of March 11 the congress mobilized about 300 delegates and dispatched them the same evening to help suppress the counterrevolutionary revolt in Kronstadt.

The congress elected the Central Committee of the RCP(Bolshevik), which was composed of 25 members and 15 candidate members, and the Central Control Commission, which was made up of seven members and three candidate members.


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