(December 11, 1937, in the Grand Theatre)
Chairman: Comrade Stalin, our candidate, has the floor.
(Comrade Stalin's appearance in the rostrum is greeted by a stormy ovation lasting several minutes. The whole audience rises to greet Comrade Stalin. Constant cries from the audience: "Hurrah for the great Stalin!" "Hurrah for Comrade Stalin, the author of the Soviet Constitution, the most democratic in the world!" "Hurrah for Comrade Stalin, the leader of the oppressed all over the world!")
Stalin: Comrades, to tell you the truth, I had no intention of making a speech. But our respected Nikita Sergeyevich (Kruschov) dragged me, so to speak, to this meeting. "Make a good speech," he said. What shall I talk about, exactly what sort of speech? Everything that had to be said before the elections has already been said and said again in the speeches of our leading comrades, Kalinin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Yezhov and many other responsible comrades. What can be added to these speeches?
What is needed, they say, are explanations of certain questions connected with the election campaign. What explanations, on what questions? Everything that had to be explained has been explained and explained again in the well-known appeals of the Bolshevik Party, the Young Communist League, the All- Union Central Trade Union Council, the Osoaviakhim and the Committee of Physical Culture. What can be added to these explanations?
Of course, one could make a light sort of speech about everything and nothing. (Amusement.) Perhaps such a speech would amuse the audience. They say that there are some great hands at such speeches not only over there, in the capitalist countries, but here too, in the Soviet country. (Laughter and applause.) But, firstly, I am no great hand at such speeches. Secondly, is it worth while indulging in amusing things just now when all of us Bolsheviks are, as they say, "up to our necks" in work? I think not.
Clearly, you cannot make a good speech under such circumstances.
However, since I have taken the floor, I will have, of course, to say at least something one way or another. (Loud applause.)
First of all, I would like to express my thanks (applause) to the electors for the confidence they have shown in me. (Applause.)
I have been nominated as candidate, and the Election Commission of the Stalin Area of the Soviet capital has registered my candidature. This, comrades, is an expression of great confidence. Permit me to convey my profound Bolshevik gratitude for this confidence that you have shown in the Bolshevik Party of which I am a member, and in me personally as a representative of that Party. (Loud applause.)
I know what confidence means. It naturally lays upon me new and additional duties and, consequently, new and additional responsibilities. Well, it is not customary among us Bolsheviks to refuse responsibilities. I accept them willingly. (Loud and prolonged applause.)
For my part, I would like to assure you, comrades, that you may safely rely on Comrade Stalin. (Loud and sustained cheers. A voice: "And we all stand for Comrade Stalin!") You may take it for granted that Comrade Stalin will be able to discharge his duty to the people (applause), to the working class (applause), to the peasantry (applause) and to the intelligentsia. (Applause.)
Further, comrades, I would like to congratulate you on the occasion of the forthcoming national holiday, the day of the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union. (Loud applause.) The forthcoming elections are not merely elections, comrades, they are really a national holiday of our workers, our peasants and our intelligentsia. (Loud applause.) Never in the history of the world have there been such really free and really democratic elections – never! History knows no other example like it. (Applause.) The point is not that our elections will be universal, equal, secret and direct, although that fact in itself is of great importance. The point is that our universal elections will be carried out as the freest elections and the most democratic of any country in the world.
Universal elections exist and are held in some capitalist countries, too, so-called democratic countries. But in what atmosphere are elections held there? In an atmosphere of class conflicts, in an atmosphere of class enmity, in an atmosphere of pressure brought to bear on the electors by the capitalists, landlords, bankers and other capitalist sharks. Such elections, even if they are universal, equal, secret and direct, cannot be called altogether free and altogether democratic elections.
Here, in our country, on the contrary, elections are held in an entirely different atmosphere. Here there are no capitalists and no landlords and, consequently, no pressure is exerted by propertied classes on non-propertied classes. Here elections are held in an atmosphere of collaboration between the workers, the peasants and the intelligentsia, in an atmosphere of mutual confidence between them, in an atmosphere, I would say, of mutual friendship; because there are no capitalists in our country, no landlords, no exploitation and nobody, in fact, to bring pressure to bear on people in order to distort their will.
That is why our elections are the only really free and really democratic elections in the whole world. (Loud applause.)
Such free and really democratic elections could arise only on the basis of the triumph of the socialist system, only on the basis of the fact that in our country socialism is not merely being built, but has already become part of life, of the daily life of the people. Some ten years ago the question might still be debated whether socialism could be built in our country or not. Today this is no longer a debatable question. Today it is a matter of facts, a matter of real life, a matter of habits that permeate the whole life of the people. Our mills and factories are being run without capitalists. The work is directed by men and women of the people. That is what we call socialism in practice. In our fields the tillers of the land work without landlords and without kulaks. The work is directed by men and women of the people. That is what we call socialism in daily life, that is what we call a free, socialist life.
It is on this basis that our new, really free and really democratic elections have arisen, elections which have no precedent in the history of mankind.
How then, after this, can one refrain from congratulating you on the occasion of the day of national celebration, the day of the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union! (Loud, general cheers.)
Further, comrades, I would like to give you some advice, the advice of a candidate to his electors. If you take capitalist countries, you will find that peculiar, I would say, rather strange relations exist there between deputies and voters. As long as the elections are in progress, the deputies flirt with the electors, fawn on them, swear fidelity and make heaps of promises of every kind. It would appear that the deputies are completely dependent on the electors. As soon as the elections are over, and the candidates have become deputies, relations undergo a radical change. Instead of the deputies being dependent on the electors, they become entirely independent. For four or five years, that is, until the next elections, the deputy feels quite free, independent of the people, of his electors. He may pass from one camp to another, he may turn from the right road to the wrong road, he may even become entangled in machinations of a not altogether desirable character, he may turn as many somersaults as he likes – he is independent.
Can such relations be regarded as normal? By no means, comrades. This circumstance was taken into consideration by our Constitution and it made it a law that electors have the right to recall their deputies before the expiration of their term of office if they begin to play monkey tricks, if they turn off the road, or if they forget that they are dependent on the people, on the electors.
This is a wonderful law, comrades. A deputy should know that he is the servant of the people, their emissary in the Supreme Soviet, and he must follow the line laid down in the mandate given him by the people. If he turns off the road, the electors are entitled to demand new elections, and as to the deputy who turned off the road, they have the right to blackball him. (Laughter and applause.) This is a wonderful law. My advice, the advice of a candidate to his electors, is that they remember this electors' right, the right to recall deputies before the expiration of their term of office, that they keep an eye on their deputies, control them and, if they should take it into their heads to turn off the right road, get rid of them and demand new elections. The government is obliged to appoint new elections. My advice is to remember this law and to take advantage of it should need arise.
And, lastly, one more piece of advice from a candidate to his electors. What in general must one demand of one's deputies, selecting from all possible demands the most elementary?
The electors, the people, must demand that their deputies should remain equal to their tasks, that in their work they should not sink to the level of political philistines, that in their posts they should remain political figures of the Lenin type, that as public figures they should be as clear and definite as Lenin was (applause), that they should be as fearless in battle and as merciless towards the enemies of the people as Lenin was (applause), that they should be free from all panic, from any semblance of panic, when things begin to get complicated and some danger or other looms on the horizon, that they should be as free from all semblance of panic as Lenin was (applause), that they should be as wise and deliberate in deciding complex problems requiring a comprehensive orientation and a comprehensive weighing of all pros and cons as Lenin was (applause), that they should be as upright and honest as Lenin was (applause), that they should love their people as Lenin did. (Applause.)
Can we say that all the candidates are public figures precisely of this kind? I would not say so. There are all sorts of people in the world, there are all sorts of public figures in the world. There are people of whom you cannot say what they are, whether they are good or bad, courageous or timid, for the people heart and soul or for the enemies of the people. There are such people and there are such public figures. They are also to be found among us, the Bolsheviks. You know yourselves, comrades – there are black sheep in every family. (Laughter and applause.) Of people of this indefinite type, people who resemble political philistines rather than political figures, people of this vague, amorphous type, the great Russian writer, Gogol, rather aptly said: "Vague sort of people, says he, neither one thing nor the other, you can't make head or tail of them, they are neither Bogdan in town nor Seliphan in the country." (Laughter and applause.) There are also some rather apt popular sayings about such indefinite people and public figures: "A middling sort of man – neither fish nor flesh" (general laughter and applause), neither a candle for god nor a poker for the devil." (General laughter and applause.)
I cannot say with absolute certainty that among the candidates (I beg their pardon, of course) and among our public figures there are not people who more than anything resemble political philistines, who in character and make-up resemble people of the type referred to in the popular saying: "Neither a candle for god nor a poker for the devil." (Laughter and applause.)
I would like you, comrades, to exercise systematic influence on your deputies, to impress upon them that they must constantly keep before them the great image of the great Lenin and imitate Lenin in all things. (Applause.)
The functions of the electors do not end with the elections. They continue during the whole term of the given Supreme Soviet. I have already mentioned the law which empowers the electors to recall their deputies before the expiration of their term of office if they should turn off the right road. Hence it is the duty and right of the electors to keep their deputies constantly under their control and to impress upon them that they must under no circumstances sink to the level of political philistines, impress upon their deputies that they must be like the great Lenin. (Applause.)
Such, comrades, is my second piece of advice to you, the advice of a candidate to his electors, (Loud and sustained applause and cheers. All rise and turn towards the government box, to which Comrade Stalin proceeds from the platform. Voices: "Hurrah for the great Stalin!" "Hurrah for Comrade Stalin!" "Long live Comrade Stalin!" "Long live the first of the Leninists, candidate for the Soviet of the Union, Comrade Stalin!")Pravda
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