Twenty-Third 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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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-Third Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


held in Moscow Mar. 29-Apr. 8, 1966. The congress was attended by 4,619 delegates with deciding votes and 323 delegates with consultative votes, representing 11,673,676 members and 797,403 candidate members of the party.

By occupations the delegates to the congress with deciding votes included 1,141 workers and 554 kolkhoz members, sovkhoz workers, and brigade leaders. Among delegates with deciding votes, 55.5 percent had a higher education, and 24 percent had not completed higher education or had secondary education. In age, 8 percent of the delegates with deciding votes were under 30, 32.2 percent were between 31 and 40, 34.3 percent were between 41 and 50, 21.7 percent were between 51 and 60, and 3.8 percent were over 60. The breakdown of delegates with deciding votes showed that 18 had joined the party before the Great October Socialist Revolution, 4.8 percent between 1917 and 1930, 15.5 percent between 1931 and 1940, 24.7 percent between 1941 and 1945, 24.2 percent between 1946 and 1955, and 30.4 percent in or after 1956. There were 1,154 women delegates elected to the congress, representing 23.3 percent of all the delegates. Among the delegates there were 111 Heroes of the Soviet Union and 459 Heroes of Socialist Labor. The congress was attended by delegations from 86 foreign Communist and workers’ parties, as well as from National Democratic and left Socialist parties.

The agenda of the Twenty-third 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 N. A. Murav’eva), the report on the directives of the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU on the five-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR between 1966 and 1970 (delivered by A. N. Kosygin), and elections of the central party bodies.

The report of the Central Committee of the CPSU emphasized that the activity of the CPSU in the period under review had been based on the policy enunciated by the Twentieth, Twenty-first and Twenty-second party congresses. The CPSU endeavored to carry out the Program of the CPSU, create the material and technical base of communism, raise the material living standards of the Soviet people, develop science and culture in the USSR, and further perfect socialist social relationships and the communist upbringing of the toiling people. The political and organizational role of the party in Soviet society has increased, Leninist principles of party life have taken root, and the unity of the party and the people has grown much stronger.

The report of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the resolutions adopted on the report pointed out that the development of world history has confirmed the conclusions of the CPSU and other Communist parties that in the modern period the main direction of historical development is determined by the world socialist system and the forces fighting against imperialism and for a socialist reorganization of society. At the same time, the report and the resolution pointed out that the increase in the subversive activities of the imperialist forces had gravely exacerbated the international situation.

The congress adopted a special Statement of the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU on the Aggression of the USA in Vietnam. The statement denounced US aggression against the fraternal Vietnamese people and called on Communists throughout the world and on all advocates of progress and democracy to unite their actions against the aggression of US imperialists in Vietnam.

The congress made the Central Committee of the CPSU responsible for further developing and strengthening ideological and political ties with Communist and workers’ parties of all socialist countries on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and for promoting the solidarity of socialism in every way possible. The Central Committee was also instructed to broaden and strengthen the Soviet people’s solidarity with the working class and the toiling masses in all countries, actively support the peoples who fight against colonial oppression and neocolonialism, and strengthen the anti-imperialist front of peoples of all continents. The congress emphasized that the ideological and political unity of the ranks of Communists demands an uncompromising struggle of Marxist-Leninists against right and left revisionism.

In analyzing the domestic situation in the USSR, the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU pointed out that the Soviet people had fulfilled the seven-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR between 1959 and 1965. New achievements in economics, science, technology, and culture have further increased the economic, political, and military power of the USSR. The well-being of the people has improved, and socialist democracy has become stronger and more broadly based in various areas of public life. The congress noted that during the period under review there had been a further strengthening of the political foundations of the socialist system—the alliance of the working class and the kolkhoz peasantry, the friendship of the peoples of the country, and the ideological and political unity of all the toiling people and their rallying around the Communist Party.

Noting that great successes had been achieved in the development of the national economy of the USSR, the Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU pointed out that some aspects of the seven-year plan had not been fulfilled and that agricultural output had been lagging, adversely affecting the growth rate of light industry and the food-processing industry. These adverse phenomena were caused by shortcomings in the management of the economy, underestimation of economic methods of management and profit and loss accounting, insufficient application of material and moral incentives, errors in planning, and a subjective approach to a number of economic problems.

The Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU fully approved the decisions of the October 1964 and subsequent plenums of the Central Committee of the CPSU, which analyzed the reasons for shortcomings in economic development and formulated a genuinely scientific approach to the management of the national economy. The congress made party, soviet, and economic organizations responsible for consistently implementing the economic policy that provides for a combination of centralized branch management and broader rights for the Union republics, for increasing the role of economic methods in managing the economy, for radically improving planning, and for broadening the economic independence and initiative of enterprises and raising their material incentive in the results of their work. The congress also stated that more attention should be paid to giving moral incentives for production, improving labor discipline, and educating workers to look upon work as a patriotic duty.

The congress also pointed out that the Central Committee’s style of work had been characterized by strict observance of Leninist norms of party activity and the principles of collective leadership, as well as by a scientific approach and efficiency in directing communist construction and implementing the domestic and foreign policy of the Soviet state. The congress stated that in the future the Central Committee must be guided by the same principles and approach in all its work, and the congress approved the rectification of mistakes that stemmed from a subjective approach to the resolution of important economic and political problems and from unwarranted reorganization of party, soviet, and economic bodies.

The Twenty-third Congress paid special attention to strengthening the ideological and political work of the party. “The congress,” declares the resolution, “directs the attention of the party organizations to the fact that the party conducts its ideological work in an atmosphere of sharp class struggle between two antagonistic sociopolitical systems in the world arena. The interests of socialism and communism demand an increase in the revolutionary vigilance of Communists and all Soviet people and the exposure of the ideological sabotage of imperialism against the Soviet Union and other socialist countries” (XXIII s”ezd KPSS: Steno-graficheskii otchet, vol. 2. 1966. p. 317).

The congress confirmed directives on the five-year plan for the development of the national economy of the USSR between 1966 and 1970. “The party believes that the chief task of the five-year plan is to ensure further substantial growth of industry and high, stable rates of development in agriculture, thereby substantially raising the standard of living of the people and more fully satisfying the material and cultural demands of all the Soviet people. The above tasks are to be fulfilled on the basis of maximum use of the achievements of science and technology, the introduction of industrial methods into all aspects of national production, and the raising of production efficiency and labor productivity” (ibid., p. 325).

The Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU adopted a resolution introducing some changes in the Rules of the CPSU. Under the resolution, young people up to the age of 23 can join the party only through the Komsomol (Lenin Communist Youth League), and people must be recommended for party membership by party members of at least five years’ standing. The party rules provide that in periods between party congresses the Central Committee of the CPSU may call an All-Union Party Conference as need arises. By a decision of the congress, the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU was changed into the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The party rules also provide for the election of the secretary-general of the Central Committee of the CPSU by the Central Committee. The Twenty-third Congress of the CPSU elected the Central Committee, composed of 195 members and 165 candidate members, and the Central Auditing Commission, composed of 79 members.


XXIII s”ezd KPSS: Stenograficheskii otchet, vols. 1–2. Moscow. 1966.


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