Fifteenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party Bolshevik
Fifteenth Congress of the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)
a congress of the ACP(B) held in Moscow from Dec. 2 to Dec. 19, 1927. It was attended by 898 delegates with a casting vote and 771 with a consultative vote, representing 887,233 party members and 348,957 candidate members.
The agenda included a political report by the Central Committee (delivered by J. V. Stalin), an organizational report by the Central Committee (S. V. Kosior), a report by the Central Auditing Commission (D. I. Kurskii), a report by the Central Control Commission and the People’s Commissariat for Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection (G. K. Ordzhonikidze), and a report by the ACP(B) delegates to the Comintern (N. I. Bukharin). The directives for drawing up the five-year plan for the development of the national economy were presented by A. I. Rykov, and a report on work in the countryside was read by V. M. Molotov. Elections to central bodies were held. The congress was attended by guest delegations from 21 foreign communist parties.
The congress was held at a difficult time in international affairs. After approving the foreign policy of the Central Committee of the ACP(B), the congress noted that the correct policy of the Central Committee had assured “the strengthening of the USSR’s international power, the growth of our country’s role as a factor in international peace, and the increasing authority of the USSR as the center of the world revolutionary movement” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh, 8th ed., vol. 4, 1970, p. 13). The congress also enjoined the Central Committee to fight for peace and consolidate its fraternal ties with the working people of all countries and to strengthen the defense capability of the USSR.
The political and organizational reports of the party Central Committee stated that the Land of the Soviets was confidently advancing on the Leninist path to socialism. Socialist industrialization was progressing. Industry’s relative share in the national economy was steadily increasing, from 32.4 percent in 1924–25 to 38 percent in 1926–27. Heavy industry was developing, especially such new branches as the manufacture of machinery, machine tools, turbines, airplanes, motor vehicles, tractors, and chemicals. As socialism was further consolidating its position in industry and trade, capitalist elements were being vigorously pushed out. The socialist sector was dominant in industry: in 1926–27, the relative share of the gross output of private enterprises had dropped from 39 to 24 percent. The working class was growing larger.
Some gains had also been made in the development of agriculture. Agricultural output had reached the prewar level, the sown areas in 1927 amounting to 96.7 percent of the 1913 level and the gross agricultural output to 108.3 percent, including 91.9 percent for grain crops. As the political and social system gained strength and improved, the class base of the dictatorship of the proletariat became stronger. The living standard and cultural level of the working people had risen.
The congress approved the politics and organizational policy of the Central Committee and set the party’s further tasks in implementing the Leninist plan of building a socialist society in the USSR. The congress confirmed the directives for drawing up the first five-year plan for the development of the USSR’s economy, pointing out that, in view of the country’s international position, it was necessary to ensure such an expansion of its economy and defense capability as would enable the USSR to withstand a possible military and economic intervention by the imperialist states. To promote industrialization the congress proposed that priority be given to machine building and other branches of heavy industry. The congress recommended ensuring “the growth of the well-being of the working class and of the poorest and middle peasants while preserving the maximum possible rate of development of the whole national economy” (ibid, p. 45).
The resolution On Work in the Countryside stated that the development of agriculture was marked by a struggle between socialist and capitalist tendencies and that the proletarian state was doing its utmost to promote and strengthen the socialist tendency by implementing a strict class policy in the countryside, enhancing the planning and regulating role of state agencies, promoting cooperatives, and cementing the alliance between the working class and the working peasantry. The congress noted that, despite the successes attained, agriculture was still developing more slowly than industry. The rural areas were also lagging in social and political development. While socialist production dominated in the city and while industrial production was based on state ownership, small-scale farming based on private property still predominated in the countryside. As a result, the annual growth rate of agricultural output was from one-fifth to one-fourth the growth rate of industrial output, and the country’s growing demands were not being satisfied. To create a unified socialist economy, it had become necessary to restructure production relations in rural areas and to mechanize agriculture. Moreover, small-scale farming promoted the growth of capitalist elements.
The congress proclaimed the all-out collectivization of USSR agriculture as the primary task of the party, stating that “in the present period the task of consolidating and transforming small individual peasant farms into large collectives must be the party’s basic task in the countryside” (ibid., p. 57). The most important part of the party’s collectivization drive was a resolute offensive against the kulaks. The resolution indicated the need for “adopting several new measures that would limit the development of capitalism in the countryside and lead peasant farming toward socialism” (ibid., p. 63).
To improve the party’s organizational work and its influence on the poor and middle peasants, it would be necessary to reinforce the poor groups (gruppy bednoty) affiliated with the soviets and cooperatives, to admit larger numbers of farm laborers and poor peasants into the party, and to reinforce cooperative and soviet agencies in the countryside with party cadres. It was decided to set up departments for work in the countryside within the Central Committee of the ACP(B) and the party’s province, oblast, and okrug committees. The congress’ decision determined the tasks of the party’s struggle for the further implementation of V. I. Lenin’s cooperative plan.
After approving the Central Control Commission’s work in preserving the unity of the party and strengthening party discipline, the congress urged the Central Control Commission and the People’s Commissariat for Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection to continue streamlining and reducing the state apparatus and struggling against bureaucracy, drawing into this effort the broad masses of workers and peasants.
After considering the work of the ACP(B) delegates to the Executive Committee of the Comintern, the congress noted that the ACP(B), along with other communist parties, had enlarged the role of the Comintern as the militant staff of the international proletariat. It had helped strengthen the Comintern’s sections ideologically and organizationally and had helped increase their influence on the world revolutionary movement.
Upon the proposal of the Central Control Commission of the ACP(B), the congress discussed the question of the Trotskyist-Zinovievist antiparty bloc. The Trotskyists and Zinovievists, at first separately and then together, fought against the party’s political course, revised the Leninist doctrine of the possibility of building socialism in the USSR, and tried to destroy the unity of the party’s ranks. The Trotskyist-Zinovievist opposition was defeated in the precongress debate: only 0.5 percent of the total party membership approved its platform. The congress declared that “membership in the Trotskyist opposition and the dissemination of its views were incompatible with membership in the Bolshevik Party” (ibid., p. 21). The main opposition group, consisting of 121 persons, addressed the congress with a declaration stating that it would discontinue the factional fight and submit to the congress’ decisions, but also insisting that it had not renounced its political views.
The congress set up a commission of 65 delegates chaired by G. K. Ordzhonikidze to examine the actual state of affairs concerning the opposition. After hearing the commission’s report, the congress adopted the resolution On the Opposition, in which it stated that the ideological differences between the party and the opposition were of a programmatic nature. In matters of tactics, the opposition had overstepped the bounds of party discipline and had embarked on an open struggle against Soviet rule. In the organizational respect, it had taken steps to create its own party and directing bodies and to establish its own party discipline. The congress confirmed the expulsion of L. D. Trotsky and G. E. Zinoviev from the party by the Nov. 14, 1927, resolution of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission and expelled 75 other active members of the anti-party bloc from the party. T. V. Sapronov’s group (23 persons) was expelled from the party for factionalism.
The congress elected 71 members and 50 candidate members to the Central Committee, nine members to the Central Auditing Commission, and 195 members to the Central Control Commission.
The Fifteenth Congress of the ACP(B) has gone down in history as the congress that oriented the party toward the collectivization of agriculture and toward preparing socialism’s offensive along the entire front of economic development.
REFERENCESPiatnadtsalyi s”ezd VKP(b): Stenograficheskii otchel, parts 1–2. Moscow, 1961–62.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov Tsk, 8th ed., vol. 4. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, book 1. Moscow, 1970.
F. M. VAGANOV