Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU Bolshevik

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU (Bolshevik)


held in Moscow Mar. 10-Mar. 21, 1939. It was attended by 1,569 delegates with casting votes and 466 delegates with deliberative votes, who represented 1,588,852 Party members and 888,814 candidate members.

The composition of delegates to the congress was in terms of kind of work: from Party organs, 659; from the Komsomol, 27; from Soviets and trade unions, 162; from the armed forces and NKVD, 283; from industry, 230; from transportation, 110; from agriculture, 63; and from culture, science, and art, 35.

In terms of education there were 418 delegates with higher education (26.5 percent), 78 with incomplete higher education (5 percent), 352 with secondary education (22.5 percent), and 721 with incomplete secondary education and primary education, (46 percent).

In terms of length of membership 2.4 percent had been members prior to 1917, 17 percent joined between 1917 and 1920, 37.6 percent joined between 1920 and 1929, and 43 percent joined between 1929 and 1939. The order of business was summary reports from the Central Committee of the CPSU (Bolshevik), J. V. Stalin; the Central Auditing Com-mission, M. F. Vladimirskii, and the delegation of the CPSU(B) to IKKI (Executive Committee of the Communist International; D. Z Manuil’skii); the Third Five-Year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR, V. M. Molotov; Changes in the Rules of the CPSU(B), A. A. Zhdanov; Elections to the Commission to Change the Program of the CPSU(B); and Elections to the Central Organs of the Party.

The report of the Central Committee of the CPSU(B) gave an analysis of the international and domestic situation of the country and prospects for its development. The congress noted that the socialist mode of production had become dominant, that essentially socialism had been built in the USSR and the country had entered a new period of development—the conclusion of the construction of socialist society. By 1938 industry had grown by a factor of more than 9 in comparison with 1913. Heavy industry had grown at the most rapid rate: its output had grown by a factor of 2.5 during the second five-year plan. The task was posed to overtake and surpass the most developed capitalist countries economically. The report examined theoretical issues concerning the stages of development and functions of the socialist state; mistaken views on the rapid disappearance of the state were censured. The socialist state had passed through the first phase of its development—from the victory of the socialist revolution to the liquidation of exploiting classes—and had entered a second phase—the existence of a uniform social and economic structure. The functions of the state had changed as well. During the first phase the functions of the state had consisted of suppressing the resistance of the exploiting classes within the country, defense against attack from the outside, and economic-organizational and cultural-educational work by state bodies. During the second phase the functions of defense and protection of national and kolkhoz-cooperative property were developed, and economic-organizational and cultural-educational functions were strengthened. The function of protecting the country against attacks from the outside was retained. In conjunction with changes in the social structure of society, the primary motive forces of its development were defined: moral and political unity, friendship among the peoples of the USSR, and Soviet patriotism. Particular attention was devoted to the role of the Soviet intelligentsia, who could not be set against the working class and kolkhoz peasantry from whom the intelligentsia had come.

In the sphere of foreign policy, tasks set were to redouble the struggle to avert war, actively support peoples threatened by enslavement, and strengthen business relations with all countries opposing fascist aggression. Along with this, there was the necessity for heightening the defensive capacity of the country in every way possible and maintaining the Soviet armed forces in combat readiness.

The congress adopted new Party rules reflecting changes in the class structure of Soviet society. Uniform conditions for admittance and for the candidate stage of Party membership (one year) were set for everyone admitted to the CPSU(B), with the exception of people who had come from other par-ties. The division into categories according to membership in social groups was abolished. The rules were enlarged by a point on the rights of Party members. A system of closed (secret) voting in elections to Party organs was established. The rules abolished mass purges. The rights of primary Party organizations were expanded, and their responsibility for implementing the decisions of the Party was increased. The Party organizations of productive enterprises, including sovkhozes, kolkhozes, and machine and tractor stations, were granted the right of control over the activity of the administration. To strengthen Party leadership of the economy, the Central Committee of the Party.could create political divisions and detach Party organizers to decisive sectors of socialist construction. The rules reflected the growing role of the Party in the leadership of social organizations. The section “The Party and Komsomol” was included in the rules for the first time. The congress devoted much attention to the issue of the Marxist-Leninist training of cadres and to the ideological work of Party organizations. The congress confirmed the third five-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR.

The congress elected the Central Committee of the Party, which included 71 members and 68 candidate members, and the Central Auditing Commission of 50 members.

The Eighteenth Congress summed up the results of the transitional period from capitalism to socialism and charted a course for the creation of the conditions of the transition to communist construction.


XVIII s”ezd Vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi partii (bol’shevikov) 10-21 marta 1939 g.: Stenograficheskii otchet. Moscow, 1939.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.