Thirteenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik
Thirteenth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)
a congress held from May 23 to May 31, 1924, in Moscow. Of the delegates attending, 748 had voting rights, and 416 had consultative rights. The delegates represented 735,881 members and candidate members of the party, including 241,591 candidates who joined the party in the “Lenin enrollment” (the mass enrollment following Lenin’s death), and 127,741 previously enrolled.
The following items were on the agenda of the congress: (1) the right of candidate members of the RCP to vote in the elections to the Thirteenth Congress of the RCP; (2) a political report of the Central Committee (CC)—G. E. Zinoviev, reporter; (3) an organizational report of the CC—J. V. Stalin; (4) a report of the Central Auditing Commission—D. I. Kurskii; (5) a report of the Central Control Commission—V. V. Kuibyshev; (6) a report on RCP(B) representation on the Executive Committee of the Comintern—N. I. Bukharin; (7) domestic trade and cooperation: (a) commodity turnover and planning, and (b) cooperation—L. B. Kamenev, reporter, and G. M. Krzhizhanovskii and A. A. Andreev, co-reporters; (8) working in rural areas—M. I. Kalinin, reporter, and N. K. Krupskaia, co-reporter; (9) working with youth—Bukharin; (10) party organization—V. M. Molotov; (11) communication on the manuscripts of K. Marx and F. Engels—D. B. Riazanov; (12) communication on the work of the Lenin Institute—Kamenev; and (13) election of central party institutions.
The congress provided a forum for the party to demonstrate its fidelity to Lenin’s precepts. In recognition of the great importance of the Lenin enrollment in the party, the congress endorsed the resolution of the Plenum of the CC of the RCP(B) (at its meeting of Mar. 31-Apr. 2, 1924), granting candidate members of the party the right to vote in the election of delegates to the Thirteenth Congress.
In the resolution On the Report of the Central Committee, the congress approved the CC’s political direction and organizational work in all areas of domestic and foreign policy; the CC was authorized to continue its policy of peace and to wage a firm struggle against the imperialists’ preparations for a new war. The congress also endorsed the position of the Thirteenth Conference of the RCP(B), as expressed in the conference resolution On Building the Party and the resolution On the Results of the Debate and the Petit Bourgeois Deviation in the Party. The platform of the Trotskyist opposition was thus condemned by the congress as a petit bourgeois deviation from Marxism and a revision of Leninism.
The congress also expressed its approval of the CC for its firm and irreconcilable stand—true to Bolshevik principles—in the struggle for party unity and defense of Leninism against petit bourgeois deviations. As the congress declared, “After the party lost comrade Lenin, the preservation of complete party unity became even more important and necessary than it had been until then. The slightest factionalism must be prosecuted in the most pitiless fashion” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 3,1970, p. 42).
A major question facing the congress was that of building the economy. The congress noted that the New Economic Policy, consistently practiced, had justified itself and ensured the successful restoration and development of the national economy. For heavy industry, the immediate goal set by the congress was the development of metallurgy as the necessary basis for the production of the means of production and for the country’s conversion to electricity. The development of light industry was declared to be essential for establishing strong economic ties between city and country and accumulating capital for heavy industry.
It was recognized that the party must concentrate on securing the fullest cooperation of the working peasantry. V. I. Lenin’s cooperative plan was made the basis of the resolutions On Cooperation and On Working in Rural Areas. Special emphasis was placed on the need for productive cooperation on the part of the peasantry, on strict adherence to the principle of voluntary participation of the peasants in the cooperatives, and on the encouragement of all forms of cooperation. In order to make credit available to the peasants, it was decided to establish a Central Agricultural Bank and develop a local credit system on the district level. The congress recommended that educational work in the villages be intensified by means of cottage reading rooms, schools for illiterate adults, study groups, and short-term courses.
Basing itself on Lenin’s dictum that trade alone can create economic ties between the small peasant economy and state industry, the congress set goals for the development and strengthening of state and cooperative trade, the establishment of strict controls over private trade, and the gradual take-over of the circulation of commodities as a whole. The congress approved the establishment of the People’s Commissariat of Internal Trade.
The resolution On the Immediate Tasks of Party Construction called for the enrollment of greater numbers of workers into the party, as well as for improving the effectiveness of the industrial party cells and strengthening the party’s organizational apparatus. The work of the control commissions was the subject of further discussion of an organizational nature. The structure of the Central Control Commission was examined, and consideration was given to the problem of improving the state apparatus, the party’s operational methods, and the work of soviet control agencies. In accordance with Lenin’s directives, it was decided that party and state control was to be exercised through local bodies.
In view of the ever more acute conflict between the proletarian and bourgeois ideologies under the New Economic Policy, the congress called for intensified training in communist theory and set the goal of raising the workers’ ideological and political level. Furthermore, it was declared essential for the party to teach the history—the basic stages of historical development—of the Communist Party and Leninism. To carry out these tasks, the congress adopted resolutions undertaking the immediate publication of the complete works of Marx and Engels in Russian and other languages, as well as publication of the complete works of Lenin and mass printings of the works of Lenin in all the national languages of the USSR. In the resolution On the Work of the Lenin Institute, it was emphasized that the institute must become “a base for the study and dissemination of Leninism among the broad masses within and outside the party” (ibid., p. 122).
The congress, designating the Komsomol as a militant mass organization and the party’s reserve force, stressed that the education of the young must incorporate the experience and traditions of Bolshevism—youth being directly involved in the building of socialism. It was decided to devote greater efforts to the political and cultural education of women, the enrollment of outstanding female workers and peasants in the party, and the advancement of such women in the governing bodies of the party, soviets, and trade unions.
Each delegation listened to and discussed Lenin’s “Letter to the Congress, ” dictated in late December 1922 and early January 1923. Lenin’s letter emphasized the need to preserve party unity and to enhance the party’s leadership role. In Lenin’s judgment, what was required to preserve party unity and ensure collective leadership was a cohesive and monolithic central committee; advocating greater authority for the CC, Lenin proposed that the committee’s size be augmented to comprise between 50 and 100 members.
In his letter, Lenin referred to Trotsky’s “non-Bolshevism, ” thus warning the party of possible Menshevik relapses on Trotsky’s part. Furthermore, as the letter pointed out, Zinoviev and Kamenev’s strike-breaking activities on the eve of the October Revolution of 1917 were not accidental. Lenin also expressed doubt that Bukharin’s theoretical views could be regarded as fully consistent with Marxism; Bukharin had never studied and did not completely understand dialectics. Writing about Piatakov, Lenin described him as a capable person but as one excessively concerned with administration and not to be relied upon in serious political matters.
Further critical remarks by Lenin were directed at J. V. Stalin. Lenin doubted that Stalin could make proper use of his power—that is, of the great authority that would be concentrated in his hands once he became general secretary of the CC. It was proposed by Lenin that someone else be considered for the post of general secretary—someone who “differs from Comrade Stalin in having only one advantage, namely, that of being more tolerant, more loyal, more polite and more considerate to the comrades, less capricious, etc.” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 45, p. 346). In view of the circumstances—namely, the sharply intensified struggle against Trotskyism and Stalin’s great services in this respect—the congress delegations decided to retain Stalin in the post of general secretary, in the hope that he would take heed of Lenin’s critical comments.
In accordance with Lenin’s proposals, the congress increased the membership of the party’s governing bodies. The newly elected CC consisted of 53 members and 34 candidates; the Central Control Commission, of 151 members; and the Central Auditing Commission, of three members.
The Thirteenth Congress marked the achievement of party unity and the party’s adherence to Lenin’s general line. The congress set goals for the party and for the Soviet people in the continuing struggle for the national economy’s renewal and further growth.
REFERENCESTrinadtsatyis”ezd RKP(b): Stenograficheskii otchet. Moscow, 1963.
KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh i resheniiakh s”ezdov, konferentsii i plenumov TsK, 8th ed., vol. 2. Moscow, 1970.
Istoriia KPSS, vol. 4, book 1. Moscow, 1970.
I. E. GORELOV and A. M. TRUBITSYN