Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918

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World History

230.

Lenin on the New Economic Policy

15

Partly under the influence of the military tasks with which we were . . . overwhelmed, and partly owing to the desperate position, as it seemed, of the Republic, we made the mistake [in 1918] of trying to bring about an immediate transition to Communist production and distribution. . . . [But] a not very long experience served to convince us that this structure was a mistake and in contradiction to what we had formerly written as to the transition from Capitalism to Socialism, and that if we did not pass through the period of Socialist accounting and control it would be impossible to pass even to the lowest stage of Communism.

. . . This is the essence of what was forgotten by us when we were compelled, at the height of the civil war, to take unavoidable steps in the matter of reconstruction. Our new economic policy consists essentially in this, that having suffered a heavy defeat in this policy, we have begun a strategic retreat. . . . There is no manner of doubt that we have suffered a defeat on the economic front, and as Communists we cannot permit a heavy defeat, so in full consciousness we turn to deal with the question of a new economic policy.

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. . . On the economic front, from the attempt to establish Communism up to the spring of 1921, we suffered a more serious defeat than any inflicted on us by Koltchak, Denikin, or Pilsudsky, a defeat indicating that the superstructure of our economic policy was not built on a firm foundation. . . .

. . . . .

The new economic policy with its agricultural tax in place of requisitions denotes the re-establishment of Capitalism in a significant degree. To what degree—we do not yet know. Concessions to foreign capitalists . . . and leases to private capitalists represent a direct re-introduction of Capitalism and are radically connected with the new economic policy. . . .

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Our present struggle will have for its result either a victory for the capitalist, to whom we are opening the door, and even several doors, or a victory for the proletarian State power. . . .

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The whole question is as to who will forestall whom. Should the capitalists succeed in organising themselves first—they will drive out the Communists without more ado. . . . Will the proletarian State power prove itself capable, relying on the peasants, to hold Messieurs the capitalists in check, in order to direct Capitalism along the State path and to create a Capitalism subordinate to the State and serving it?

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Let us industrialize everything. Capitalists will be amongst us, foreign capitalists, concessionaires, and lease holders: they will wrest from us hundreds per cent. of profit, they will flourish around us. Let them flourish; we will learn from them how to carry on industry, and then we shall be able to construct our Communist Republic. From the point of view of learning quickly any kind of slacking is the greatest crime. It is necessary to adopt this apprenticeship, an apprenticeship burdensome, severe, sometimes even cruel, for there is no other way forward.

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In our uncultured state we cannot by a frontal attack achieve the destruction of Capitalism. At a different level of culture it would have been possible to accomplish the task more directly, and perhaps other countries will be able to do so when the time comes for the construction of their Communist Republics. But we cannot solve the problem by the direct method.

The State must learn to carry on trade so that industry can satisfy the peasants, so that the peasants by trade can satisfy their needs. It is necessary to put the matter so that every worker will devote his powers to strengthening the workers-peasants’ State. Only then can a largescale industry be created.

15 Speech delivered to the Congress of Local Organizations for Political Enlightenment in October 1921, in The Labour Monthly, vol. I, No. 6, The Labour Publishing Company, Ltd., London, December 15, 1921, pp. 506–510, 515–516. Reprinted by permission of the publishers.

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Chicago: "Lenin on the New Economic Policy," Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918 in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan (Chicage: Lippincott, 1951), 782–784. Original Sources, accessed November 29, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=C9CIVMK7STL5UND.

MLA: . "Lenin on the New Economic Policy." Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, edited by Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan, Chicage, Lippincott, 1951, pp. 782–784. Original Sources. 29 Nov. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=C9CIVMK7STL5UND.

Harvard: , 'Lenin on the New Economic Policy' in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918. cited in 1951, Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. , Lippincott, Chicage, pp.782–784. Original Sources, retrieved 29 November 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=C9CIVMK7STL5UND.