Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party Bolshevik

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Twelfth Congress of the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik)


the congress held in Moscow, Apr. 17–25, 1923. Attending the congress were 408 delegates with deciding votes and 417 with consultative votes, representing 386,000 party members.

The breakdown of delegates (those with deciding votes) by social composition was 53 percent workers, 29.7 percent clerical employees, 1.9 percent peasants, and 15.4 percent others; by education it was 20.9 percent with higher education, 29.4 percent with secondary education, and 49.7 percent with elementary education; by age the composition was 34.6 percent aged 20 to 29, 52.9 percent aged 30 to 39, and 10.5 percent 40 to 49; and by length of time as members of the party, 59.2 percent of the delegates had joined the party before the February bourgeois democratic revolution, and a total of 80.1 percent of the delegates prior to the Great October Socialist Revolution.

The agenda included the report of the Central Committee, consisting of the political report of the Central Committee delivered by G. E. Zinoviev and the organizational report of the Central Committee delivered by J. V. Stalin; report of the Auditing Commission delivered by V. P. Nogin; report of the Central Control Commission delivered by M. F. Shkiriatov; report of the Russian delegation at the Executive Committee of the Comintern delivered by N. I. Bukharin; report on industry delivered by L. D. Trotsky; report on tax policy in the countryside delivered by L. B. Kamenev and also co-reports delivered by M. I. Kalinin and G. Ia. Sokol’nikov; report on districting delivered by A. I. Rykov; report on national factors in building the party and state delivered by J. V. Stalin; and elections to the central bodies.

As a result of illness, V. I. Lenin could not participate directly in the work of the Congress. But by his speeches in November and December 1922 at the Fourth Congress of the Comintern and at the plenary session of the Moscow soviet, his articles “Pages From a Diary” and “On Cooperation,” written and dictated in January and February 1923, and also by works directly addressed to the Twelfth Congress, entitled “How the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection Should be Reorganized (Recommendation to the Twelfth Party Congress)” and “Better Fewer, But Better,” Lenin elaborated upon the most important tasks that confronted the party and Soviet power, and the prospects for the victorious building of socialism. These instructions from Lenin formed the basis for the congress’ resolutions. Summing up the results of the party’s work during the two years of NEP (New Economic Policy), the congress approved the political and organizational line taken by the Central Committee as well as its domestic and international policies. A decisive rebuff was given to K. B. Radek and L. B. Krasin, who did not believe that the country could cope with the rehabilitation and building of the economy through its own efforts and who proposed that more concessions be granted to foreign capitalists. This congress also rejected the proposals made by Bukharin and Sokol’nikov concerning a partial abrogation of the monopoly on foreign trade. The congress discussed in detail the question of the party’s role in guiding the Soviet state. In accordance with Lenin’s instructions on improving Soviet and party machinery, the composition of the Central Committee of the party was broadened, and the Central Control Commission was merged with the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection; this new, joint body was entrusted with preserving party unity and with facilitating in all ways the improvement of the state machinery’s operation. For the latter purpose it was recommended that workers be drawn from the production line. The congress emphasized the need to intensify party direction of all Soviet and economic work: “Still closer to the economy, still more attention, direction, and efforts to be spent on the economic organs,—this is the party’s slogan for the period immediately ahead” (KPSS v rezoliutsiiakh .... 8th ed., vol. 2, 1970, p. 406). The congress rejected the attempts made in speeches by Trotsky, Zinoviev, Preobrazhenskii, Osinskii, Larin, and others to oppose the party to the state and the state to the working class and to weaken the party’s guiding role with regard to state and economic machinery.

In considering the question of industry the indisputable success of its growth was noted, as well as the considerable improvement in the workers’ position. But overall, industry remained in serious difficulty. Therefore, the party’s attention turned to questions of a planned development of the country’s economy.

Even prior to the congress, in ratifying the draft theses for the report on industry, the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) was forced to wage a stubborn struggle against Trotsky on basic political questions, including the relationship between the proletariat and the peasantry and between industry and agriculture. Trotsky proposed to close down as “unprofitable” those of the country’s largest plants that had to do with defense (those in Putilov, Briansk, and others). He opposed the interests of industry to those of the peasant economy, calling for the development of industry at the expense of the peasantry, which would have led to a breakup of the alliance between the workers and the peasants. The draft of the theses, as presented by Trotsky, was appraised by the Politburo of the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik) as a document that would incorrectly orient the party on the principal questions of the present situation and lead to the elimination of the party’s directing role. This draft was subjected to a radical revision by the Central Committee of the RCP (Bolshevik). The resolutions adopted by the congress pointed out that only heavy industry could serve as a firm foundation for socialist construction, that “only the development of industry would create a stable base for the dictatorship of the proletariat” (ibid., p. 410), that closely connected with this “stands the party’s most important political task, which will determine the entire outcome of the revolution: to protect and develop the alliance between the working class and the peasantry with the greatest attention and care” (ibid., p. 405).

In promulgating the line on strengthening the alliance between the working class and the peasantry, the congress adopted the resolutions “On the Tax Policy in the Countryside” and “On the Work of the RCP in the Countryside.” The congress’ resolutions pointed out the need to carry on intensified work in strengthening agricultural cooperation: as one of the forms of strengthening the working class’ influence over the peasants, the patronage of the city over the village was recognized.

The congress paid great attention to the national question, guided by the principles of Leninist national policy as set forth in Lenin’s letter “On the Question of Nationalities or ‘Autonomization’ ” (December 1922), which was read to the delegates of the congress. The congress’ resolutions spelled out in concrete terms Lenin’s ideas for creating a voluntary union form of a Soviet state, the USSR. In the resolution on the national question the congress noted the international importance of the party’s national policy and that the correct resolution of the national question in the USSR would be an inspirational example for the national liberation movement among peoples living in colonial and semicolonial countries, who were struggling against colonialism and imperialism. The congress emphasized the need to eliminate the economic and cultural inequalities among the peoples of the Soviet country which had been inherited from the past; it also called upon the party to wage a resolute struggle against vestiges of Great Russian chauvinism and local nationalism. During that period an especially acute manifestation of local nationalism was occurring in Georgia. The Georgian national deviationist—B. G. Mdivani, M. S. Okudzhava, and others—spoke out against the creation of the Transcaucasian Federation and conducted a chauvinistic policy with regard to the other peoples of Transcaucasia. An incorrect position on a number of questions on national policy was taken by Kh. G. Rakovskii, N. I. Bukharin. and others, who denied the danger of local nationalism. In the course of the discussion that developed at the congress, in which M. V. Frunze, G. K. Ordzhonikidze, A. I. Mikoyan, M. D. Orakhelashvili, Zh. Z. Eliava, A. S. Enukidze, and others took part, the erroneous line of the national deviationists was decisively condemned by the congress.

The congress devoted a great deal of attention to the work of the RCP (Bolshevik) among young people and women, and it adopted special resolutions on these questions. In a resolution on the organizational question the congress made special note of the work done by the Commission for the Study of the History of the RCP (Bolshevik) and the October Revolution. The congress elected a Central Committee composed of 40 persons and a Central Control Commission consisting of 50 persons.


Dvenadtsatyi s”ezd RKP(b): Stenograficheskii otchet. Moscow, 1968.


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