V. I. Lenin

Speech At The Moscow City Conference Of

The Russian Communist Party


January 18, 1919[1]

Brief Newspaper Report

Delivered: 18 January, 1919
First Published: Pravda No. 19, January 28, 1919; Published according to the Pravda text
Source: Lenin’s Collected Works, 4th English Edition, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1972 Volume 28, pages 405-406
Translated: Jim Riordan
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters & Robert Cymbala
Online Version: V. I. Lenin Internet Archive May, 2002

As far as I can see from the resolutions, from the two drafts submitted after the discussion on the relations be-tween centre and districts-the first for improving Soviet affairs, and the second for completely reconstructing the Soviet apparatus-the second, contained in the motion of a group of comrades, gives the impression that something is lacking, inasmuch as no definite grounds exist for the change in the Soviet apparatus proposed in this resolution.

Our enemy today is bureaucracy and profiteering. We cannot see the improvements for the devastation. But the devastation can be overcome only by centralisation, by foregoing purely local interests. It looks like it is these interests that have given rise to the opposition to central-ism, which, nevertheless, is the only way out of our present predicament. The group of comrades who submitted this resolution are abandoning centralism for the quagmire of localism.

The districts appear to be dissatisfied because certain decisions of the central Soviet authorities are being taken without consulting them. If that is so, the districts have every right to convene conferences to discuss all questions in which they are interested. We are being ground down by red tape, which is very difficult to cope with. It has to be vigorously fought, and more workingmen have to be appointed to government offices. But when the attack on red tape is directed to the wrong quarter, things become very dangerous, as, for example, in’re1ation to specialists. The reason we are in a bad way is not because we have got a lot of specialists, but because we have not got strict centralisation. There are fields of Soviet work which suffer from a shortage of specialists. We must appoint more workers of average qualifications to the government offices, who would learn their jobs from the specialists and be able to replace them eventually and do the practical work inde-pendently. Thus, it is evident that the theses submitted by Comrade Ignatov do not say what these comrades really want. The attack is being levied at the wrong quarter.


[1] The Conference was called to discuss relations between central and local Soviet bodies and between the Party and the Communist groups in the Soviets. I. V. Tsivtsivadze addressed the Conference on behalf of the Moscow Committee and submitted a draft reso- lution recognising the need for an improvement in the work of the Soviets and rejecting the demands for the dissolution of the Council of People’s Commissars and a fundamental revision of the Soviet Constitution, which were contained in the draft submitted by the tendency within the Party led by Y. N. Ignatov. In his speech Lenin sharply criticised Ignatov’s draft. The Conference adopted by a majority the resolution moved by the Moscow Committee. The Conference resolutely condemned attempts to belittle the Party’s authority over the Communist groups in the Soviets.