Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ninth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)


held in Moscow from Mar. 29 to Apr. 5, 1920. It was attended by 553 delegates with a casting vote and 162 with an advisory vote, representing the party’s 611,978 members. In terms of age, 0.5 percent of the delegates to the Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) were between 16 and 18, 12 percent were between 19 and 23, 42.5 percent were between 24 and 30, 38 percent were between 31 and 40, and 7 percent were over 40. By vocation, 51 percent were workers, 8 percent artisans, 5 percent peasants, 12 percent office employees, and 24 percent intelligentsia. Considering length of party membership, 49 percent of the delegates had joined the RCP (Bolshevik) before the February Revolution of 1917, 24 percent had joined between February and October 1917, and 27 percent had joined after the Great October Socialist Revolution.

The agenda included the report of the Central Committee, which was read by V. I. Lenin and N. N. Krestinskii, a report on the immediate tasks of economic construction, which was delivered by L. D. Trotsky, N. Osinskii, and A. I. Rykov, and a report on the trade union movement, which was presented by N. I. Bukharin with the assistance of D. B. Riazanov. A report on organizational questions, which had been discussed in the organizational section of the congress, was delivered by L. B. Kamenev, and K. B. Radek presented a report on the tasks of the Communist International. On the subject of cooperatives, the congress heard V. P. Miliutin, the representative of the majority of the cooperative section of the congress, who spoke against the section’s official rapporteur, N. N. Krestinskii, who represented the minority. L. D. Trotsky reported on the transition to a militia system. The final item on the agenda was elections to the Central Committee of the party.

The Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) was held at a time of peace, when the Soviet Republic had triumphed over the main forces of the foreign military interventionists and domestic counterrevolutionaries. However, this respite was soon interrupted by an offensive of the troops of Wrangel and bourgeois-landlord Poland. The work of the congress proceeded under the leadership of Lenin, who delivered the opening speech, a summary report on the political activity of the party’s Central Committee, concluding remarks on the report, speeches on economic construction and cooperatives, and speeches at the time of elections to the Central Committee and at the closing of the congress.

In the report on the political activity of the Central Committee, Lenin summarized the experience of the Soviet state in its more than two years of existence, analyzed the country’s international and domestic situation, elucidated the party’s foreign policy, and defined the tasks of economic construction, emphasizing the exceptional importance of a unified economic plan, which should be based on electrification of the country. Giving grounds for the objective feasibility of peaceful coexistence between the socialist republic and capitalist states, Lenin pointed out that “peace is of course possible from the point of view of the world situation” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40, p. 248). His ideas on the peaceful coexistence of states with different social systems formed the basis of the Soviet state’s foreign policy. The congress approved the activity of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik).

The central item on the congress’ agenda was the question of economic construction—the transition from struggle on the military front to struggle on the labor front against wartime devastation and for the rebuilding and development of the country’s economy. In the resolution On the Immediate Tasks of Economic Construction the congress, taking note of the labor upsurge that had begun in the country, pointed out that this was only the first step. In order to achieve genuine successes, it was necessary to convey the experience of the advanced strata of the working class to the broad masses of toiling people of the city and countryside. “The principal prerequisite for the country’s economic revival,” the resolution stated, “is the steadfast implementation of a unified economic plan intended for the immediate historical epoch” (KPSS v rezoliutsiakh. . . , 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, p. 151). Electrification of the country, which Lenin advanced as the great program of socialist construction, had top priority in the economic plan. The congress’ directives provided the basis for the GOELRO (State Commission for the Electrification of Russia) plan, which was finally drawn up and confirmed in December 1920 by the Eighth All-Russian Congress of Soviets. The Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) called on the toiling people to develop labor competition, which was a powerful force for raising labor productivity.

The antiparty “democratic centralist” group (detsisty), led by T. V. Sapronov, N. Osinskii, and V. M. Smirnov, opposed the party line on the question of industrial management and other questions. In their theses the detsisty spoke out against individual leadership in industrial management, against the employment of old specialists, and against the centralization of state administration. They were supported by a number of trade-union functionaries, including M. P. Tomskii, and some economic managers, such as A. I. Rykov. The views of the democratic centralists were actually a manifestation of petit bourgeois lack of discipline and a protest against discipline and centralized leadership. The congress condemned and resolutely rejected all of the democratic centralists’ proposals and advocated the introduction of individual leadership. A resolution of the congress stated that the basic task in the organization of management is to create a competent, firm, energetic leadership, whether it is an individual enterprise that is involved or an entire industry (ibid., p. 156).

The decisions of the congress called attention to the need for training new leadership cadres recruited from the workers. A great deal of attention was devoted to improving railroad transportation, and a special message to party organizations was adopted, pointing out the bad condition of transportation and ordering the execution of the directive of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) on assigning of 5,000 Communists to work in transportation. A resolution was adopted to mobilize 10 percent of the congress’ delegates for transportation work.

The congress also decided to create a food stockpile of several hundred million poods (1 pood = 16.38 kg) and distribute it in the form of food bases in the chief areas of industrial concentration. In matters of distribution, food policy was subordinated to the tasks of reviving industry and transportation—that is, the most important industrial enterprises and transportation received top priority in the distribution of food supplies (ibid., p. 161).

In accordance with Lenin’s instructions, the congress clearly defined the role of the trade unions, their relationship with the Soviet state and party, and the forms of their participation in economic construction. The congress stressed that in the age of the dictatorship of the proletariat, trade unions face problems primarily in economic organization and education. The decision on cooperatives proposed the strengthening of party leadership in cooperative bodies. The congress also adopted a decision on establishing coordination between economic commissariats (the Supreme Council of the National Economy and the people’s commissariats for foodstuffs, railroads, and agriculture), in order to ensure full unity in the implementation of the economic plan.

The resolution On the Organizational Question pointed out the necessity of focusing the attention of the party and all its organizations on questions of economic construction.

Because the Ninth Congress of the RCP (Bolshevik) convened at a time of respite from war, a decision was adopted to change to a militia system for the country’s armed forces. However, this decision could not be carried out, inasmuch as Poland started a war against the Land of the Soviets. The congress adopted a decision to issue the complete works of Lenin and elected the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik), which consisted of 19 members and 12 candidates.


Lenin, V. I. “Rech’ pri otkrytii s”ezda 29 marta,” “Doklad Tsentral’nogo Komiteta 29 marta,” “Zakliuchitel’noe slovo po dokladu Tsentral’nogo Komiteta 30 marta,” “Rech’ o khoziaistvennom stroitel’stve 31 marta,” “Rech’ o kooperatsii 3 aprelia,” “Rech’ pri zakrytii s”ezda 5 aprelia” [IX s”ezd RKP(b) 29 marta-5 aprelia 1920]. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 40.
Deviatyi s”ez RKP(b), mart-aprel’ 1920 goda: Protokoly. Moscow, 1960.
KPSS v rezoliutsiakh i resheniakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK. 8th ed, vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.