Thirteenth Conference of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik
Thirteenth Conference of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)
a conference held in Moscow from Jan. 16 to Jan. 18, 1924. It was attended by 128 delegates with voting rights and 222 delegates with consultative rights. The following items were on the agenda: (1) immediate tasks of economic policy—A. I. Rykov, reporter; (2) building the party—J. V. Stalin; and (3) the international situation—G. E. Zinoviev. In addition to the resolutions on these questions, the conference adopted a resolution summarizing the debate and dealing with the petit bourgeois deviation in the party, as well as a resolution welcoming Pravda as the party’s central press organ.
The conference took place at a time when the Soviet economy, while on the road toward successful recovery, was experiencing serious difficulties because of the uneven development of the national economy—a circumstance resulting in sharply divergent prices for industrial and agricultural products. The low prices of agricultural products and high prices of industrial goods provoked dissatisfaction not only among the peasants but among the workers as well, since overstocking caused wages to be held back. In the fall of 1923, taking advantage of the economic difficulties and of V. I. Lenin’s illness, the Trotskyists and other members of the opposition had come out against the party’s policy and leadership in an effort to split the party and cause it to deviate from Lenin’s path. The ensuing debate diverted the Communists from the economic and political problems to be solved. The Trotskyists attempted to cast aspersions on the party’s economic policy and to discredit the party apparatus; they flattered the students by calling them the party’s “barometer” and tried to set them against the Central Committee and the party’s main cadres, whom they accused of “degeneration.” Demanding freedom for factions and alignments, the oppositionists were thus leading toward a split in the party and an end of the alliance between workers and peasants. In the course of the conference, they opposed party policy on all the major questions.
In its resolution On the Immediate Tasks of Economic Policy, the conference set forth the measures to be adopted under the New Economic Policy to develop the national economy and strengthen the alliance between the working class and the peasantry. The cause and nature of the economic difficulties were clarified, and a course was set toward the improvement of national economic planning, the building up of industry and agriculture, the expansion of state and cooperative trade, and the maintenance of financial stability. It was stressed that greater assistance must be given to the peasantry in the effort to raise the technical level and productivity of agriculture and to develop different types of cooperatives, agricultural credit organizations, and other measures to alleviate rural poverty.
The conference decided to lower the prices of industrial goods, pointing out that the rate of industrial development must correspond to the rate of expansion of the agricultural market. A measure favored by the Trotskyists was rejected—namely, their proposal to close down some large factories, including the Putilov (now Kirov), Sormovo, and Briansk plants, on the grounds of their being unprofitable. The conference adopted a resolution to improve the metallurgical industry, retain and strengthen the monopoly of foreign trade, and complete the monetary reform.
In the resolution On Building the Party, the conference approved the decisions of the Central Committee of the RCP(B) with respect to greater intraparty democracy and outlined immediate steps toward this goal. It was recommended that party cells be brought in closer contact with production and that economic conferences be held by the party; Communists working in industry were urged to present economic reports and data for regular discussion at party meetings. Furthermore, it was emphasized that intraparty democracy did not imply freedom for factions and alignments. The conference also prescribed a set of measures to improve government operations and the work of mass workers’ organizations such as the trade unions.
The conference reviewed the results of the debate with the Trotskyist opposition—a debate carried on within the party between November 1923 and January 1924 and ending with the complete defeat of the opposition: 1.3 percent of the party membership voted for the Trotskyists, while 98.7 percent voted in favor of the Central Committee of the RCP(B). The conference concluded that the Trotskyist opposition represented “not only an attempt to revise Bolshevism or a direct deviation from Leninism, but clearly also a petit bourgeois deviation” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh . . ., 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, p. 511). All party organizations were directed to wage a systematic and vigorous struggle against petit bourgeois deviation.
Despite objections by the oppositionists, it was deemed advisable to make public the hitherto unpublished point 7 of the resolution On Party Unity of the Tenth Congress of the RCP(B), held in 1921. The resolution prohibited the formation of factions within the party, and point 7 provided that a joint session of the Central Committee and Central Control Commission of the RCP(B), by a two-thirds vote, had the right to change a member’s status to that of candidate member or even expel from the party any member of the Central Committee who broke party discipline or permitted factionalism.
The conference declared it essential for the RCP(B) to accept as new members no fewer than 100,000 workers over the next year, while during the same period nonproletarian elements were to be denied access to party membership. It was also recommended that workers be broadly represented on all soviet bodies. A resolution was adopted to intensify party educational work among party members and in particular among Komsomol members and youth as a whole. Instruction in party history was made compulsory in party schools and institutions of higher learning, and all party organizations were directed to set up Leninist study groups.
The decisions of the conference were approved by the Thirteenth Congress of the RCP(B) and the Fifth Congress of the Comintern, both held in 1924.
REFERENCESKPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, book 1. Moscow, 1970.
A. I. SEREDA