Twenty-Fourth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Twenty-Fourth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


held from Mar. 30 to Apr. 9. 1971. in Moscow. The congress was attended by 4,740 delegates with deciding votes and 223 delegates with consultative votes and represented 14,455,321 communists, of whom 13,810,089 were members and 645,232 candidate members of the CPSU.

The figures below characterize the composition of the congress. Of the delegates, 1,195 were workers in industry, construction, and transportation; 870 workers in agriculture, two-thirds of whom were rank-and-file kolkhoz and sovkhoz members, team and brigade leaders, and chiefs of animal and poultry farms; 370 managers of industrial enterprises, construction projects, production associations, and firms; 82 sovkhoz directors; 148 kolkhoz chairmen; 1,205 party officials, including 300 secretaries of oblast and krai party committees and of Central Committees of Communist Parties of Union republics and more than 700 secretaries of okrug, city, and raion party committees; 556 Soviet officials; 126 trade union and Komsomol officials; and 120 workers in cultural and public educational institutions, writers, composers, painters, and actors. The age composition of the delegates was as follows: 5.1 percent were under 30, 12.8 percent between 31 and 35, 13.9 percent between 36 and 40, 41.6 percent between 41 and 50, 20.7 percent between 51 and 60, and 5.9 percent 60 or older. Approximately 58 percent of the delegates had a higher education and 27 percent an incomplete higher or secondary education; there were 1,586 engineers, economists, and technicians, 555 agronomists and zootechnicians, and 483 teachers, doctors, and jurists. Nine delegates had joined the party before the October Revolution, 21 between November 1917 and 1921, 638 between 1922 and 1940, 967 between 1941 and 1945, 1,240 between 1946 and 1955, 1,675 between 1956 and 1965, and 431 between 1966 and 1970. The congress included 1,204 women, or 24.3 percent of the delegates; 1,284 deputies to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and to Supreme Soviets of Union and autonomous republics; and 96 academicians and corresponding members of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR and of specialized academies of sciences and academies of sciences of Union republics. A total of 98 percent of the delegates to the congress had been awarded orders and medals of the USSR; 89 were Heroes of the Soviet Union, 549 Heroes of Socialist Labor, and 182 winners of Lenin and State Prizes. The congress was attended by delegations of 101 Communist, National Democratic, and left Socialist parties.

The agenda of the congress included the report of the Central Committee of the CPSU, delivered by L. I. Brezhnev; the report of the Central Auditing Commission of the CPSU delivered by G. F. Sizov; a report on the Directives of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU on the five-year plan for the development of the USSR national economy for 1971–75, delivered by A. N. Kosygin; and elections of the central party bodies.

The congress fully approved the political line and the practical activity of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the proposals and conclusions presented in its report. It adopted a resolution on the report and confirmed the Directives of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU on the five-year plan for the development of the USSR national economy for 1971–75.

The Central Committee report points out that the party has unflinchingly implemented a policy aimed at strengthening the world socialist system, further developing cooperation among socialist states and consolidating the international communist movement on the basis of Marxism-Leninism. The USSR has helped the peoples of Indochina in their struggle against American aggression and has helped the Arab states to fight the Israeli aggression. With other socialist countries, the USSR supported the working people of Czechoslovakia in defense of the gains of socialism from domestic and foreign counterrevolution. The report analyzes the special features of present-day imperialism, which tries to adjust to the new world situation and to use the scientific and technological revolution to increase its power. As the general crisis of capitalism deepens, capitalism becomes more aggressive and reactionary. The report shows the rising strength of the international labor movement and of the national liberation struggle which has brought about great social changes and made several young states embark on a noncapitalist path of development.

The report states that the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet government have done everything “to achieve normalization of relations with the Chinese People’s Republic” (XXIV s”ezd KPSS: Stenograficheskii otchet, vol. 1, 1971, p. 34). The CPSU has resolutely rejected the attempts of the present leadership of the Communist Party of China to make the CPSU adopt an ideological and political stand that is incompatible with Leninism, and the Chinese leadership’s demand that the CPSU abandon the line of the Twentieth Congress and the program of the party. The congress pointed out that the success of the struggle for social progress depends on the solidarity of all the anti-imperialist forces, and above all its vanguard, the world communist movement.

As in the past, the main aim of Soviet foreign policy is to bring about, jointly with other socialist countries, international conditions favorable for building socialism and communism. The congress especially emphasized that “the role of such spheres of the class struggle as the economic, scientific, and technological competition between the two world systems has now greatly increased” (ibid., p. 63).

The congress noted that communist construction, the scientific and technological revolution, and profound changes in the economy and nature of labor are bringing important changes to the social structure of Soviet life. The ranks of the working class have grown; the vocational training, skill, education, and cultural standards of workers and peasants are on the rise; and the intelligentsia, especially the scientific and technical intelligentsia, has increased in size. Great strides have been made in resolving the problem of equalizing the working conditions and living standards of the city and the country. This has led to a further consolidation of the alliance of the working class and the kolkhoz peasantry. “The process of socialist construction has created a historically new community of people, the Soviet people” (ibid., vol. 2, 1971, p. 232).

The report of the Central Committee of the CPSU notes that a fully developed socialist society has been built in the USSR. This society is characterized, as V. I. Lenin stated, by “the transition from conclusively victorious and consolidated socialism to full communism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 27, p. 253). The party’s social policy is aimed at further strengthening the unity of Soviet society, creating a rapprochement of different classes and social groups of all nations and nationalities, steadily developing socialist democracy and ever greater participation of the masses in public and state affairs, and raising the communist consciousness of the working people.

The party’s great work in improving the management of the national economy guaranteed the fulfillment of the Directives of the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU. The economic and military strength of the Soviet state has increased. In the course of the eighth five-year plan, the total social product increased by 42 percent, the national income by 41 percent, and the industrial output by 50 percent. About 1,900 big industrial enterprises were put into operation, and labor productivity rose by 37 percent. The industrial output for 1970 alone was about twice the output for all the prewar five-year plans taken together (1929–40). Average annual agricultural output rose by 21 percent, and in 1970 more than 186 million tons of grain were harvested, constituting the biggest harvest in the entire history of the country. Real per capita income rose by 33 percent, and retail trade by 38 percent. A total of 11,350,000 apartments have been built. This is equivalent to the construction of more than 50 big new cities, each with a population of 1 million.

According to the Directives for the Five-year Plan for the Development of the Soviet National Economy for 1971–75, “the main task of the five-year plan is to bring about a substantial rise of the material and cultural living standards of the people based on a high rate of development of socialist production, a rise in production efficiency, scientific and technological progress, and an accelerated growth of labor productivity” (XXIV s”ezd KPSS: Stenograficheskii otchet, vol.2, 1971.p. 16; also see p. 227). The directives provide for maintaining a high rate of growth of the national economy. A rise of efficiency in production and a fuller utilization of all the reserves will be decisive in the development of all national production.

The congress set the task of saturating the market with manufactured consumer goods while maintaining state retail prices. It recommended the necessary changes in the structure of industrial production and for ensuring a higher rate of development of consumer goods production and of industries that promote accelerated technological progress. The congress approved a broad, comprehensive program for developing and intensifying agriculture and for strengthening its material and technical base. Specialization and concentration of agricultural production had to be increased, the system of production and technical service of kolkhozes and sovkhozes improved, and interkolkhoz and state-kolkhoz production associations developed. The task of putting agricultural production on an industrial basis was also posed.

The section of the resolution dealing with the party’s domestic policy contained the following fundamental directive: “The Communist Party’s course in raising the well-being of the people will determine not only the main task of the ninth five-year plan, but also the overall orientation of the country’s economic development in the long-term perspective. The greater economic potential and the requirements of the development of the national economy make it possible and necessary to turn the economy more radically toward the solution of the manifold tasks stemming from the rising well-being of the people” (ibid., p. 228).

The congress set the task of organically combining the achievements of the scientific and technological revolution with the advantages of the socialist economic system. It defined what is needed to raise production efficiency in industry: the reduction of material per unit expenditures, the economical use of raw and processed materials, rationally utilizing labor resources, lowering labor expenditures, and substantially increasing the quality of the products. The congress attached great importance to perfecting the entire management of the economy, the scientific organization of labor, and the raising of the cultural and technical standards of the industrial personnel. The congress resolution states: “We must continue to promote the concentration of production by creating production and scientific production associations and combines that will eventually become the basic economically accountable units of national production. We must refine the structure of the administrative apparatus, eliminate the superfluous subdivisions of it, and more widely use managerial and computer technology, automated systems, and scientific methods of administration and planning” (ibid., pp. 231–32). The role and independence of ministries and agencies had to be increased, economic incentives made more sensible, and assignments issued by central agencies, properly combined with the use of economic levers of promoting production, such as economic accountability, prices, profit, credit, and various types of material incentives. The working people had to be more widely enlisted in the management of the economy.

The congress formulated a policy to be implemented in close relationship with that of economic development, the further strengthening of the Soviet state, the refinement of the political organization of society, and the development of socialist democracy. It made proposals on increasing the role of the soviets of working peoples’ deputies, the trade unions, the Komsomol, and other public organizations; on perfecting legislation; and on improving the work of the state apparatus.

The congress emphasized that “as in the past, the central task of the party organizations’ ideological work is to form the Marxist-Leninist world view in the minds of the working people and build up lofty ideological and political qualities and the norms of communist ethics. Propaganda of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism and an uncompromising and militant struggle against bourgeois and revisionist ideology are the main elements in the party’s ideological work” (ibid., pp. 234–35).

The Twenty-fourth Congress noted the need to further increase the leading role of the party in communist construction and to perfect and improve party leadership of all aspects of the life of society. Changes were introduced into the Rules of the CPSU extending the right of control over administration to primary party organizations of design organizations and bureaus, scientific research institutes, and educational, cultural, medical, and other institutions. The new rules specify that party organizations of ministries, state committees, and other central and local soviet and economic institutions and agencies must supervise the implementation of party and government directives and the observance of Soviet law by their respective apparatus. The congress changed the time schedules for convocation of congresses of the CPSU and of the Communist Parties of Union republics (at least once every five years) and of conferences of krai, oblast, okrug, city, and raion organizations, as well as all primary organizations that have party committees (twice every five years). The congress directed attention to the need for further improving the recruitment, placement, and training of personnel, developing inner-party democracy, strictly observing the Leninist norms of party life, and promoting principled criticism and self-criticism.

The Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU was a demonstration of the growing unity of the world revolutionary movement and of the increasing cohesion of all the anti-imperialist forces. Representatives of foreign delegations to the congress highly praised the gains of communist construction in the USSR and the heightened role of the socialist countries in the world. The congress adopted the appeal “Freedom and Peace for the Peoples of Indochina!” and the statement “For a Just and Stable Peace in the Near East!”

The congress elected the Central Committee of the CPSU. composed of 241 members and 155 candidate members, as well as the Central Auditing Commission, composed of 81 members.


XXIV s”ezd KPSS: Stenograficheskii otchet, vols. 1–2. Moscow. 1971.


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