Speech at the September 1953 Plenum
of the Central Committee of the CPSU

V.M. Molotov


The last phase of the socialist Soviet Union under Stalin was marked by the programme of gradual transition to communism over three five-year plans. In this situation after the 19th Congress of the CPSU of 1952, Mikoyan and Molotov both came under a political cloud. As is evident in his memoirs Mikoyan confronted Stalin in his opposition to the gradual transition of Soviet trade to direct products exchange between Soviet industrial enterprises and the collective farms. Molotov, in a Plenum, was charged by Stalin of ‘Rykovism’ for his commitment to the application of commodity-money relations in questions of agriculture in the transitional phase to communism. It is also clear, too, from his interviews with Feliks Chuyev, that Molotov was not in agreement with the programme of communism articulated by Stalin.

Between 1953 and 1958 generalised capitalist commodity production was constructed in the Soviet Union as is evident from the archives of the Gosplan. Centralised directive planning under Gosplan was decisively terminated between 1953 and 1955 and replaced by a system of decentralised ‘co-ordinated planning’ of the Central Ministries and the Union Republics. The directors of state enterprises were given greater powers at the expense of centralised planning. They gradually were to be transformed into independent private producers. The new criterion of efficiency of the industrial enterprises and the state farms was their profitability. This ended the earlier understanding of the Stalin period that sought profitability of the enterprises in the country as a whole but not necessarily of individual enterprises. In later years after the 20th Congress, and after the removal of Molotov and Kaganovich, the products of Soviet industry in 1958 were categorised as commodities circulating within the state sector. A series of organisations were established under Gosplan for the sale of the products of Soviet industry. While genuflection was exhibited to the transition to communism, as in the 1961 party programme, effectively the underlying notions of a ‘market communism’
were predominant.

The speech by Molotov of September 1953 is in consonance with the turn to the commodification of the Soviet economy. It implicitly negates Stalin’s views of a non-commodity-money approach to industry and agriculture which stressed the need for gradually transforming the relations of production of the Soviet Union in the transition to communist society. Molotov lambasted the soi disant one-sided ‘superindustrialisation’ of the Stalin period in the Soviet Union and the People’s Democracies of Central and Eastern Europe which, allegedly, neglected agriculture. Molotov approved of the ‘amendments’ to the Soviet economy in the first few months after Stalin which terminated the ‘grandiose plans’ for hydropower plants and the plans for extending the irrigated area (and indeed many of the other major late Stalin-period projects). Essential to socialist extended reproduction was the primacy given to investment in Department ‘A’ of the economy which was the basis for increased development of light industry before 1953. The increase of investment in Department ‘B’ and agriculture after March 1953 was bound to have the effect of a long term decline in the rate of growth of the economy such as indeed happened in the Khrushchev years. Molotov argued that there was ‘an abnormal situation’ in the Soviet Union in which there was a lack of correspondence between procurement prices and retail prices. Under Stalin the cost of production was taken into account in formulating pricing but it did not determine them. Pricing was planned according to the requirements of building socialism and communism. Thus the price of steel was fixed below value as was the price of children’s clothing. Other items such as alcohol and luxury goods were priced above value. Implicit in the views of Molotov was the need to apply greater value relations in the Soviet economy. Those who tolerated the existing ‘abnormal’ understanding said Molotov needed to be given ‘special awards’. From this it was implied that Stalin deserved an award for his ‘abnormal’ views on political economy. Molotov considered that the CPSU had tolerated this situation, which allegedly ignored the lack of material benefits for the Soviet peasantry, for long. Greater investment was required in agriculture and higher procurement prices were needed to increase milk and meat production and lead to an upsurge in Soviet agriculture. Such measures should have been implemented much earlier. Molotov here defended the very views which Stalin had criticised as ‘Rykovism’. The new measures initiated at the September 1953 Plenum led to a temporary rise in the rate of growth in agriculture but only for a limited period. The transition to a market economy after March 1953 reflected the changing character of the economic relations.

The observations of the second edition of the Textbook of Political Economy published in the Soviet Union exactly two years after the September Plenum of 1953 are instructive. (The Textbook of Political Economy, Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1957, pp. 653-655). The textbook criticised the earlier practice of exaggerated deliveries of compulsory quotas from the more advanced collective farms which were alleged to have reduced the material interest of the collective farmers to increase output. Instead, quotas of compulsory deliveries were reduced for a number of agricultural products and procurement prices were considerably raised for the voluntary sales of agricultural goods to the state, and, the agricultural tax on the personal subsidiary holdings of the collective farmers was reduced. All this led to a considerable increase in the money incomes of the collective farms and farmers, to an increase of 12 milliard roubles in 1953 and 25 milliard roubles more in 1954 than in 1952.

The Textbook frankly accepted that these changes in agricultural prices were in keeping with the requirements of the law of value. It did not refer, of course, to these as being the implementation of the political economy of Rykovism.

The increasing application of the law of value in the economy not only led to the loss of the relations of socialism by the end of the 1950s but also led to a drastic drop in the yearly rates of growth of all major sectors of the Soviet economy.

Vijay Singh

MOLOTOV. Comrades! The comprehensive report of Comrade Khrushchev gave a broad picture of the state of our agriculture; a picture of its growth and, at the same time, the shortcomings that still exist in this area. No one at the Plenum disputed that Comrade Khrushchev’s report gave the correct picture of the current situation in our agriculture. It should not be said, however, that no one has disputed that the planned measures and measures already taken recently to ensure a new upsurge in agriculture are in the interests of the present subject and will yield positive results.

It must also be said that the discussion that is being held at the Plenum on a heard report is of professional nature and introduces a number of new points that give an even more complete picture of what we have in the countryside, in agriculture, and on collective and state farms.

Nevertheless, it must be admitted that, in addition to production issues, which was the focus of the majority of people, there is another side to the issue under discussion. The Central Committee of the Party should not limit or reduce the matter to simply production issues that we are now considering in connection with the new tasks in agriculture. It is also necessary to give a political assessment of the state of affairs in agriculture and the measures that are currently outlined by the party.

With regard to the situation of individual agricultural sectors, the report and the speeches available here provided so much material – clear, convincing, and quite versatile, covering various sectors and different stages of development of our agriculture that there is no need to supplement or develop those topics.

From all this we come to the conclusion that, despite the important successes of our collective farms, the situation in our country, and especially in some branches of agriculture, is not favourable. Agriculture far from satisfies the needs of the Soviet people for a number of products, and the measures taken until recently to raise agriculture were clearly insufficient. With this general conclusion, it is necessary to give an appropriate political assessment of the facts about which the Central Committee Plenum spoke in detail and the tasks that the party must set for itself and, above all, all agricultural workers.

We know that there is a considerable difference in the position of individual regions. Here it was said that the agricultural territory of one region sometimes noticeably differs from the territory of another region. For example, they said with bitterness that “here are the weeds, it means that this is the territory of our region!” Or, comparing to neighbouring regions: “the streak of weak collective farms begins – which means that this region begins.” And at the same time, there are regions and republics that have achieved great results and achieved important successes against the average level that is most common.

In particular, there is a big difference between the individual agricultural areas. The difference is even greater between individual collective farms. There is also a difference over time: everything would go well for several years, then it would get worse.

It is clear that it is impossible to reduce all these facts to some basic economic, technical or even personnel issues. Here the issues of leadership are of great importance: who is leading, how they are leading, how experienced, suitable, and prepared a person is for this business.

On the other hand, another one-sidedness should be avoided.

Of course, we well know that our present agriculture is at an immeasurably higher level than it was in pre-revolutionary times. We well know that during the years of Soviet power, our agriculture has risen to a whole new, higher stage of development, which could not have been dreamed of before the creation of the Soviet state. But this does not give us any reason to gloss over those shortcomings, to pass by the serious drawbacks that we have in agriculture.

Take an issue of grain, which is crucial for agriculture.

Compare the period of 1930, when the turn of the mass collective farm movement was still taking place, and the present period, when the collective farms have already gained strength, and it will become clear how far we have stepped forward.

In 1930, the 16th Congress of our party took place. Even then, in the report to the Congress, J.V. Stalin said that we “have almost resolved the grain problem.” Then, in 1930, the gross yield, as you know, was estimated at 5.1 billion puds. Before the last war, in 1940, the gross yield in our country was estimated at 7.3 billion puds. Last year, it was estimated at 8 billion puds.

So, if we had reason to say – and we had such reason – that in 1930 we had basically solved the problem of grain farming under the conditions then, we all the more had the right to say so at the next party congress in 1934. We emphasized the importance of this victory of ours before the Great Patriotic War. With that great reason, we should have said this at the party congress last year, when the gross yield reached 8 billion pounds. As you know, the Central Committee’s report to the 19th Party Congress stated: “The grain problem, which was previously considered the most acute and serious problem, has been successfully resolved, finally and irrevocably resolved.”

But, comrades, we must not forget the following. Now, we are talking about the fact that the grain problem has been solved, yet we do not sell flour in all cities yet, and where we sell it – not in all varieties. Although we have made tremendous successes in grain farming since 1930, we still haven’t solved this problem as fully as we need, for example, so that we can sell flour in all cities and those varieties which there is a demand among the population. So, we have to work very hard in this matter.

Take the second example that has been talked about a lot here – potatoes. Everyone knows that we lack potatoes and vegetables. So much so that we do not provide potatoes and vegetables even to Moscow – throughout both last and this year.

And at the same time, the fact that Comrade Patolichev pointed out is noteworthy. In Belarus, this potato republic, peasants sometimes plant potatoes, and then forget where they planted them. Maybe they only talk about potatoes like that, but this indicates that they are not very interested in this matter. Such facts can hardly be considered random.

But if we look at the economic conditions in which potato production takes place and how little attention was paid to mechanization issues in this matter, then it seems to me that we will understand better why we have such an unsatisfactory situation with potatoes and vegetables.

In fact, until recently, we had a procurement price per kilogram of potatoes of about 4 kopecks, more precisely 3.8 kopecks. Along with this, even before the spring of this year, the retail price for potatoes was 90 kopecks per kilogram. Now, after April 1, 1953, state retail prices were set at 50 percent and the current price is 45 kopecks per kilogram. But if someone proves that it is economically correct to keep the procurement price for potatoes at 4 kopecks, and the retail price at 90 kopecks, or, conversely, with a retail price of 90 kopecks and even 45 kopecks, the procurement price should be 4 kopecks, then such a person could be given a special “award”. However, until recently, we all put up with such an abnormal situation.

We have a better situation with cotton. In this regard, we have significant achievements compared to 1940. I will not dwell on the numbers here. You know these figures from the report and from the materials that you have on hand. It is an indisputable fact that the positive economic measures that we carried out earlier gave positive results, but we did not conduct enough in relation to other sectors of agriculture.

Take a position with sugar beets. We now produce more sugar beets than we did in 1940, but only a little more. This is far from enough to meet the increased needs of our population.

MIKOYAN. Many plants are not staffed, dozens of plants are not staffed.

MOLOTOV. This suggests that we are unsuccessful in this regard.

But livestock faces especially unfavourable conditions. Therefore, it is clear that the party and the government are paying special attention to the issues of livestock farming. Is this a new question for our party? No, not new.

In this connection, I will have to give the corresponding statement of J.V Stalin at the 16th Party Congress in 1930, when he said:

“Now that we have mainly resolved the grain problem, we can begin to simultaneously solve both the livestock problem, which is currently a burning problem, and the problems of industrial crops. To solve these problems, we need to follow the same path that went towards resolving the grain problem.” At the next party congress, in 1934, the Central Committee report again said on this issue:

“The livestock problem is now as big as the grain problem, which was already successfully resolved.”

It seems that we had a lot of time and prerequisites to really take up the resolution of this more complex and more difficult problem – the problem of livestock. But we have not yet achieved the desired results here. Let me remind you the numbers given in the report of Comrade Khrushchev. Here are some comparative data relating, on the one hand, to 1928, that is, to the period before mass collectivization, and, on the other hand, to the present moment – the beginning of 1953. Then, in 1928, there were 67 million heads of cattle (I quote the figures with rounding), and by the beginning of 1953 57 million heads, that is, 10 million heads less. There were 33 million cows then, and now 24 million; then there were 28 million pigs, and now 28.5 million, then sheep and goats were 114.5 million, now about 110 million, horses were 36 million, and now 15 million.

From these figures it can be seen that the problem of livestock has not been solved, that this task is not really accomplished.

At one time, we explained the slowness of the rise and the lag in the development of our livestock production by the fact that it happened during the first period of reorganization in collective farm construction, when serious difficulties in solving the problem of livestock production were inevitable. Back then we talked about how this reorganization period ended in 1932. But reorganization period ended and the prewar years passed – until the summer of 1941, and our livestock breeding did not rise to a level that satisfies the needs of the country’s population, at a level worthy of a strengthenedcollective farm system.

Now, after a difficult war, we can’t forget that the Nazi occupation of the most important agricultural areas of the country caused enormous damage to our livestock production. The consequences of the war were highly negative for cattle breeding, severely so. But eight years have passed since the war. This is something to be reckoned with as well.

Indeed, if we take what has been done in the industry in the post-war period and recall the basic data from the Central Committee’s same report at the 19th Party Congress, it turns out that our industry has grown, compared to 1940, already in 1952 by more than 2 times a year. The production of means of production rose 2.7 times, the production of means of consumption rose 1.6 times. As for livestock, we certainly can’t say the same.

You have heard a general assessment of livestock production provided in the report of Comrade Khrushchev and in the draft resolution that has been distributed to you. In order not to repeat ourselves and only pay attention to those issues in livestock production that require urgent solutions, I will cite an excerpt from a note by the Minister of Agriculture and the procurement of Comrade Kozlov sent from the Council of Ministers of the USSR on June 31, 1953. Here is what Comrade Kozlov wrote about this:

“The main reason for the difficult situation with livestock breeding is the insufficient material interest of collective farms and farmers in the development of livestock production: cash incomes in a significant part of collective farms do not cover the costs of production in this sector of the economy. In addition to the large losses from mortality and low livestock productivity, this is also because collective farms donate 65-70% of meat and 70-75% of milk to the state at low procurement prices (on average, meat for 24 kopecks per 1 kg of live weight, milk from 25 to 30 kopecks per litre).

The standards for compulsory deliveries of livestock products have been rising almost annually lately. In this connection, in 1953, according to the collective farm plan, they must donate to the state meat by 75.6% more than in 1940, milk by 77.6%, wool by 4.2 times, and eggs by 5.6 times more comrades to 1941.

Due to the poor development of animal husbandry, there is barely enough milk for settlement with the state and for the feeding of calves in many collective farms; in some cases, collective farms spend the main breeding stock to deliver meat to the state, and in order to fulfill the plan, farmers purchase calves, spending a lot of money on it.”

Here, it seems to me, are depicted important points in the position of livestock production, showing how unsatisfactory it is. At the same time, it is clear that in this case, that correcting the existing situation depends on us, on our state leadership, on our economic policy.

In connection with this provision, serious new measures have now been taken and are still being taken to improve the situation in agriculture.

I will not repeat the large amount of data that are at our disposal here, but I will give the general financial results of those state measures that I have in mind to carry out in order to eliminate the noted shortcomings and ensure a new upsurge in agriculture.

These are the data on the finances of the Soviet state, which are additionally anticipated in the second half of 1953 and during 1954 in order to promote a serious upsurge in agriculture.

  1953, second half of (in millions of Roubles) 1954
1. To improve the work of the MTS 1,477 5,459
2. To improve the agrotechnical services of collective farms, including agricultural propaganda 50 759
3. For the further development of livestock, including changes in the conditions for the production and procurement of animal products 6,147 12,012
4. To increase the production and procurement of vegetables and potatoes, including increasing procurement prices and purchases 1,220 1,417
5. Agricultural tax reduction 4,137 6,000
6. Additional investment, including building machine and tractor plants; additional acquisition of agricultural machinery 461 10,379
Total: 13,492 36,026
7. Further, additional credit investments, including loans from the agricultural bank for individual housing construction for tractor factory workers 350
13,842 37,106

Consequently, during the second half of this year, the state additionally allocated about 14 billion rubles for the needs of improving agriculture. Next year, these additional state appropriations will amount to over 37 billion rubles.

Such is the general scale of those measures that are outlined in connection with our new tasks in agriculture.

The question should be posed: what’s new in the decisions that the party and the government have recently carried out in the interests of raising agriculture? Com. Khrushchev spoke about this in detail and colourfully here. So I won’t repeat.

Only in order to provide some summary, and then only the most general results, I will note some points. Practical measures aimed at ensuring the growth of agriculture occupy a large place in these decisions. At the centre of all practical measures are the tasks of: increasing productivity by raising the culture of agriculture and ensuring a powerful increase in livestock, especially public livestock farming of collective farms.

This includes numerous measures to strengthen mechanization of labour-intensive work in agriculture worldwide, measures to increase the supply of collective farms and state farms with mineral fertilizers, to widely use the experience of advanced collective farmers, to implement the achievements of agricultural science, and so on. At the same time, great importance is attached to those large-scale events that would create permanent personnel for machine and tractor stations, as well as expanding the personnel in every way necessary for agriculture by qualified specialists directly working on the farms.

In all this, we are making a new and, besides, the largest step forward in the interests of raising agriculture.

But if we talk about new things in the latest decisions of the party and government, it is necessary to pay special attention to measures now taken of an economic nature, namely the following: a significant change in prices for agricultural products delivered to the state — meat, milk, potatoes, wool, and some others; a significant reduction in the supply standards of some agricultural products while increasing plans for the purchase of agricultural products at higher prices; a sharp decrease in size and a change in the procedure for collecting agricultural tax, etc. The additional state funds that I mentioned above will go to all these events first of all.

It must be admitted that these events have long been overdue and they should have begun to be implemented much earlier. In this regard, the neglect of the management of agriculture was especially strong, which caused considerable harm to the collective farms, and at the same time obvious damage to the state itself.

The fact is that in a number of branches of agriculture, completely insufficient attention was paid to the question of the material interest of collective farms and collective farmers in raising agricultural production. One cannot say that anyone denied that this is an important issue for agriculture. No one, of course, denied that without the proper material interest of the collective farms and farmers, it is impossible to ensure the necessary upsurge in agriculture, but in practice this issue has not been given the proper attention. We can say that this business was on paper only, it was often treated with bureaucratic neglect.

All this affected the collective farms.

Here is some data on the issue of money to collective farmers for workdays. In 1940, the total amount of money issued to collective farmers for workdays amounted to 8.6 billion rubles, in 1952 – 12.4 billion rubles. These figures show an increase in the issuance of money for workdays by 30%. It is necessary, however, to remember that during the same time the average wage of workers rose 2 times. The following deserves even more attention. It turns out that the issuance of money for workdays has not increased in recent years: in 1950, the collective farmers were given 12 billion rubles, in 1951 – 12.6 billion rubles, in 1952 – 12.4 billion rubles. There is no noticeable progress in giving money to collective farmers, no workdays have occurred over these three years. As a result of this, in 1952, 17 thousand collective farms did not distribute money at all for workdays, and in 34 thousand collective farms less than 40 kopecks were issued for a workday.

Here we heard the statement of Comrade Kabin from Estonia, who said that in 1952 collective farms in Estonia were given less workdays than in 1951. This applies not only to Estonia. But if we continue to admit such a situation, if we do not correct this situation, then we are not real Soviet leaders, we are not worthy of the place that we occupy in the party leadership.

The question of the material interest of collective farms and farmers in the development of agriculture, and thereby in the increase in agricultural product output, is not only important, but also a difficult question. Here one can make many serious mistakes if the relevant measures are carried out without due sequence, without observing the economic proportions that ensure the basic needs of the socialist construction and defence of the country, and ensuring these proportions is not so simple. In this area, there are no such clear and relatively simple criteria, such as, for example, well-established production costs, or cost of industrial products, which is recorded from year to year. The determination of agricultural prices — supply and purchase prices — is connected with many aspects of the national economy, which seriously affect both the interests of the working class, the peasantry, and the state as a whole.

This is a matter of great importance for the entire price policy, including prices for industrial goods and agricultural products, for the entire economic policy of the state. On the other hand, this is a question on which depends the rise of agriculture and the supply of cities with their legitimate requirements to improve the satisfaction of the growing needs of workers and employees.

However, have we seriously discussed this issue of economic policy in our Central Committee recently? No, we haven’t. And when these issues were touched upon, the discussion often took place in a hurry, in a superficial way. The results of such an attitude to economic policy issues made themselves evident both in the cities – in insufficiently satisfactory supply of workers, and especially in the countryside, in agriculture, which, as we see, found themselves in a rather difficult situation. This means that not only practical leadership, but also political, that is, the party leadership, in relation to agriculture was not up to the standard.

What is the root of these shortcomings in the party-political leadership of agriculture?

Briefly formulating the answer to this question, it should be recognized that the root of the shortcomings in the leadership of our agriculture lies in underestimating the great Leninist principle of the need for a lasting alliance of the working class with the working peasantry, with our collective farm peasantry, while ensuring the leadership of the working class in this alliance.

Remember what Lenin said on this issue:

“The supreme principle of dictatorship is the maintenance of the alliance of the proletariat and peasantry in order that the proletariat can retain its leading role and state power.”

Remember also how Stalin explained the teachings of Lenin on the union of the working class and the peasantry. He said:

“Lenin taught us that the alliance of the working class and the peasantry is the basic principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This we must not forget ... The dictatorship of the proletariat is based on the union of the working class and the peasantry. Therefore, all our tasks can hang in the air if we undermine or weaken the alliance of the working class and peasantry.”

It is known that Marxism gave only the general basis for the doctrine of alliance of the working class and the peasantry in the interests of the victory of socialism. This problem, in all its revolutionary significance, was developed by Lenin. Beginning with the famous pamphlet “What the ‘Friends of the People’ Are”, written in the early 1890s, Lenin began to put forward the idea of an alliance of the working class and the peasantry as the basis of the revolutionary policy of our party. We can say that it was this idea, in its further Leninist development, that completely separated the fundamental principles of the revolutionary tactics of our party from the opportunist, and in fact, the treacherous tactics of the Menshevik Social Democracy. It was precisely the question of the attitude of the working class towards the peasantry that divided the old Russian Social-Democracy into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks during the whole preparation and development of the revolution in our country. This applies both to the period before the overthrow of tsarism during the struggle for the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, and to the subsequent period, to the period of the struggle for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and then to the period after the victory of the socialist revolution in our country.

On the fundamental side, the tactics of the Bolsheviks differed from the tactics of the Mensheviks in that the Bolsheviks treated the peasantry as an ally in the era of the bourgeois revolution, and in the era of the proletarian revolution, although at different stages this alliance was of a different nature, it captured the whole peasantry in the era of bourgeois-democratic revolution, it was only the poorest layers of the peasantry, while neutralizing the middle peasants, and, finally, turned into a vicious union of the working class and the main working masses of the peasantry, having passed after the victory of the collective farm system into a lasting alliance of the working class and collective farm peasantry.

Social democracy is another matter – be it the Mensheviks in Russia or the Social Democrats in other countries. Their tactics are not related to the interests of the overthrow and liquidation of capitalism. Their tactics have always expressed a particular tendency towards a bloc with the bourgeoisie, while ignoring the idea of an alliance with the bulk of the peasantry. And that is not surprising.

Only that party, and above all, the Bolshevik party, which subordinated everything to the tasks of the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism, only such a party should strive for a revolutionary alliance with the peasantry today in the struggle to overthrow landlord domination, then for an alliance with those sections of the state that were ready to support the working class in the struggle to overthrow the bourgeois system. For the very existence and consolidation of the Soviet system, the working class had to rely on a solid alliance with the working peasantry, and had always to take care of the development and consolidation of this alliance.

It is known that already at the VIII Party Congress in 1919, when the party put forward the task of creating “solid foundations of a communist society”, Lenin put the issue of transition to a solid alliance with the middle peasantry at the forefront of our policy. It is also known that, before moving on to the first five-year plans of our socialist construction, for several years we had to conduct fierce battles with the Trotskyists, who ignored Leninist attitudes and undermined the very foundations of a policy of a solid alliance of the working class with the middle peasantry. Only victoriously ending the struggle against the Trotskyists, and then defeating the Right, who sought to replace the alliance with the middle peasantry with a counterrevolutionary bloc with the kulaks, did our party lead the country to the establishment of a collective farm system in the countryside, to the victory of socialism.

Perhaps they will say that under the present conditions this Leninist principle has lost its former fundamental significance? Perhaps, since the moral and political unity of Soviet society has strengthened, we should no longer recall the existence of two main classes in our country and the need to take care of strengthening the Leninist alliance of the working class with the peasantry? As we know, no one is saying this, and cannot say while remaining a communist. Nonetheless, over a period of time, our political orientation reflected if not forgetfulness, but a clear underestimation of the great Leninist principle of a lasting alliance of the working class with the working peasantry. Otherwise, we would not have allowed that unfavourable situation in agriculture, which we cannot but stress again, if we want to face the truth and if we want to consistently, in the interests of further victorious building of communism in our country, correct the existing shortcomings in this regard.

It is enough to say that in the eight years after the war ended, only once – in 1947, the Plenum of the Central Committee discussed the state of affairs in agriculture, and after that it never made a serious inspection on the results of the decisions made.

The underestimation of the significance of this Leninist principle is also indicated by the situation in a number of countries with popular democracy, for which our party is to some extent responsible. In recent months, the Central Committee has paid great attention to the political and economic situation in several countries with Popular Democracy: in Czechoslovakia and Hungary, in Poland and Romania, in Bulgaria and Albania, in the German Democratic Republic. At the same time, we came across such a fact that in these countries there is often a one-sided enthusiasm for industrialization, turning into something similar to super-industrialization, an increase in the unbearable pace of new construction and, at the same time, inattention to the situation of agriculture, to the basic needs of the working peasantry. This inevitably affected the position of the working class in a negative way as well.

Of course, without pursuing a course towards the industrialization of the country, socialism cannot be built. Industrialization and the corresponding upsurge in industrial construction in the conditions of people’s democracies are also necessary for agriculture itself, which needs numerous means of mechanizing agricultural work, mineral fertilizers, etc. However, both in the countries of people’s democracy and in our country it is sometimes necessary to reckon with the fact that the implementation of the course towards the industrialization of the country acquires the character of political and practical one-sidedness, going as far as neglecting the interests of agriculture, which ultimately negatively affects both the course of industrialization and strengthening if the socialist system as a whole.

But now let’s get back to our country.

No one will deny the importance of grandiose plans for the construction of hydropower plants and plans for irrigation of vast areas. But positive results in this case also cannot be achieved in lieu of abandoning of the main agricultural regions that feed us and provide agricultural raw materials for our industry, being a reliable pillar of the construction of communism. You know that we all unanimously came to this conclusion and recently made important amendments to those economic plans that were adopted some time ago.

Nothing can break the established lasting alliance of the working class with the collective farm peasantry in our country. This alliance with the collective farm peasantry is strong and indestructible, despite serious shortcomings in our leadership in agriculture, and not only in agriculture. But in recent years, we often underestimated the importance of this union for the construction of communism in the current conditions, after the victory of socialism in our country. That is why it will no longer be inappropriate to recall this great Leninist principle at the Plenum of the Central Committee.

By taking current measures to raise agriculture, we are strengthening the alliance with the collective farm peasantry, and this is of paramount importance for securing this rise. Without strengthening it, we cannot provide the new steep upsurge in agriculture that we need.

In the first stage of the development of the collective farm system, in general, we successfully managed the collective farm leadership. The collective farm system in our country has grown stronger and new prospects for the great growth of agriculture have opened up before it. However, it is not necessary to turn a blind eye to the fact that in our leadership in agriculture, in the management of collective farms, we are dealing with serious shortcomings accumulated over recent years that impede the growth of agriculture and impede the really powerful growth of the productive forces of the collective farm.

In these last months, we have made and are still taking many new decisions and measures in the interests of raising agriculture, which all demonstrates how far we have lagged behind our urgent tasks in this field of agriculture and collective farms. The fact that we are carrying out all these decisions and measures with genuine unanimity is, at the same time, evidence of how ripe they are and how much they are needed at present.

The present Plenum, with Bolshevik self-criticism, examines the state of affairs in agriculture, reveals the shortcomings here, and, of course, with its decisive conclusions and measures it will move agriculture forward.

This does not mean that we aren’t behind in some other areas of our work – our party leadership.

Our country is in such a big upsurge in the national economy and socialist culture that there is no particular surprise in this. We must use the experience of critical review of the state of affairs in agriculture and to improve the state of affairs in other areas of our work. Such a test, if we really take into account the significance of the great principles of Marxism-Leninism in their application to all branches of our work, and if we actually strengthen the struggle against both elements of misery, and elements of sharing in our work, and will rely on the best achievements of our party experience – such a test will give great results in all areas and will provide an even more powerful upsurge of the socialist government in our state, a new upsurge in the entire work of our party.

At the last Plenum, we had to deal with the case of Beria, this dangerous adventurer who penetrated the very centre of the leadership of our party and state. The Beria case has shown how much we need to be constantly vigilant against the intrigues of our class enemies and how insidious are the methods of the struggle of the capitalist states against the communist party and the Soviet state. The measures taken in this connection are approved by the working class, by the whole people. Now, not only we, but the whole country sees that we are on the right track and are successfully solving the problems that confront us.

Today, having stepped over the Beria affair, we are discussing the pressing issues of agriculture with Bolshevik efficiency and understanding of our tasks, where our enemies tried in every possible way to slow down the matter, prevent us from revealing the existing shortcomings and moving even more decisively forward.

We have already outlined important measures in this area, but we know that this is only the beginning for a new steep upswing in our socialist agriculture.

There can be no doubt that the planned activities will give a serious impetus to the advancement of agriculture, to the strengthening of our collective farms, to the growth of cadres in the countryside, and not only in the countryside. All this is an indicator of the mighty strength of our state and the party, our capabilities and the great new prospects for communist construction in our country. [Prolonged applause]

Translated from the Russian by Polina Brik

RGASPI F.82. Op. 2. D.50. L. 1-22.

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