The economic crisis that had broken out in the capitalist countries in the latter half of 1929 lasted until the end of 1933. After that industry ceased to decline, the crisis was succeeded by a period of stagnation, and was then followed by a certain revival, a certain upward trend. But this upward trend was not of the kind that ushers in an industrial boom on a new and higher basis. World capitalist industry was unable even to reach the level of 1929, attaining by the middle of 1937 only 95-96 per cent of that level. And already in the second half of 1937 a new economic crisis began, affecting first of all the United States. By the end of 1937 the number of unemployed in the U.S.A. had again risen to ten million. In Great Britain, too, unemployment was rapidly increasing.
The capitalist countries thus found themselves faced with a new economic crisis before they had even recovered from the ravages of the preceding one.
The result was that the contradictions between the imperialist countries, as likewise between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat, grew still more acute. As a consequence, the aggressor states redoubled their efforts to recoup themselves for the losses caused by the economic crisis at home at the expense of other, poorly defended, countries. The two notorious aggressor states, Germany and Japan, were this time joined by a third – Italy.
In 1935, fascist Italy attacked Ethiopia and subjugated her. She did so without any reason or justification in "international law"; she attacked her like a robber, without declaring war, as is now the vogue with the fascists. This was a blow not only at Ethiopia, but also at Great Britain, at her sea routes from Europe to India and to Asia generally. Great Britain vainly attempted to prevent Italy from establishing herself in Ethiopia. Italy later withdrew from the League of Nations so as to leave her hands free, and began to arm on an intensive scale.
Thus, on the shortest sea routes between Europe and Asia, a new war knot was tied.
Fascist Germany tore up the Versailles Peace Treaty by a unilateral act, and adopted a scheme for the forcible revision of the map of Europe. The German fascists made no secret of the fact that they were seeking to subjugate the neighbouring states, or, at least, to seize such of their territories as were peopled by Germans. Accordingly, they planned first to seize Austria, then to strike at Czechoslovakia, then, maybe, at Poland – which also has a compact territory peopled by Germans and bordering on Germany – and then... well, then "we shall see."
In the summer of 1936, Germany and Italy started military intervention against the Spanish Republic. Under the guise of supporting the Spanish fascists, they secured the opportunity of surreptitiously landing troops on Spanish territory, in the rear of France, and stationing their fleets in Spanish waters – in the zones of the Balearic Islands and Gibraltar in the south, the Atlantic Ocean in the west, and the Bay of Biscay in the north. At the beginning of 1938 the German fascists seized Austria, thus establishing themselves in the middle reaches of the Danube and expanding in the south of Europe, towards the Adriatic Sea.
same time assuring the world that they were fighting the Spanish "Reds" and harboured no other designs. But this was a crude and shallow camouflage designed to deceive simpletons. As a matter of fact, they were striking at Great Britain and France, by bestriding the sea communications of these countries with their vast African and Asiatic colonial possessions.
As to the seizure of Austria, this at any rate could not be passed off as a struggle against the Versailles Treaty, as part of Germany"s effort to protect her "national" interests by recovering territory lost in the first Imperialist War. Austria had not formed part of Germany, either before or after the war. The forcible annexation of Austria was a glaring imperialist seizure of foreign territory. It left no doubt as to fascist Germany"s designs to gain a dominant position on the West European continent.
This was above all a blow at the interests of France and Great Britain.
Thus, in the south of Europe, in the zone of Austria and the Adriatic, and in the extreme west of Europe, in the zone of Spain and the waters washing her shores, new war knots were tied.
In 1937, the Japanese fascist militarists seized Peiping, invaded Central China and occupied Shanghai. Like the Japanese invasion of Manchuria several years earlier, the invasion of Central China was effected by the customary Japanese method, in robber fashion, by the dishonest exploitation of various "local incidents" engineered by the Japanese themselves, and in violation of all "international standards," treaties, agreements, etc. The seizure of Tientsin and Shanghai placed the keys of the immense China market in the hands of Japan. As long as Japan holds Shanghai and Tientsin, she can at any moment oust Great Britain and the U.S.A. from Central China, where they have huge investments.
Of course, the heroic struggle of the Chinese people and their army against the Japanese invaders, the tremendous national revival in China, her huge resources of man-power and territory, and, lastly, the determination of the Chinese National Government to fight the struggle for emancipation to a finish, until the invaders are completely driven out from Chinese territory, all go to show beyond a doubt that there is no future for the Japanese imperialists in China, and never will be.
But it is nevertheless true that for the time being Japan holds the keys of China"s trade, and that her war on China is in effect a most serious blow at the interests of Great Britain and the U.S.A.
Thus, in the Pacific, in the zone of China, one more war knot was tied.
All these facts show that a second imperialist war has actually begun. It began stealthily, without any declaration of war. States and nations have, almost imperceptibly, slipped into the orbit of a second imperialist war. It was the three aggressor states, the fascist ruling circles of Germany, Italy and Japan, that began the war in various parts of the world. It is being waged over a huge expanse of territory, stretching from Gibraltar to Shanghai. It has already drawn over five hundred million people into its orbit. In the final analysis, it is being waged against the capitalist interests of Great Britain, France and the U.S.A., since its object is a redivision of the world and of the spheres of influence in favour of the aggressor countries and at the expense of the so-called democratic states.
A distinguishing feature of the second imperialist war is that so far it is being waged and extended by the aggressor powers, while the other powers, the "democratic" powers, against whom in fact the war is directed, pretend that it does not concern them, wash their hands of it, draw back, boast of their love of peace, scold the fascist aggressors, and... surrender their positions to the aggressors bit by bit, at the same time asserting that they are preparing to resist.
This war, it will be seen, is of a rather strange and one-sided character. But that does not prevent it from being a brutal war of unmitigated conquest waged at the expense of the poorly defended peoples of Ethiopia, Spain and China.
It would be wrong to attribute this one-sided character of the war to the military or economic weakness of the "democratic" states. The "democratic" states are, of course, stronger than the fascist states. The one-sided character of the developing world war is due to the absence of a united front of the "democratic" states against the fascist powers. The so-called democratic states, of course, do not approve of the "excesses" of the fascist states and fear any accession of strength to the latter. But they fear even more the working-class movement in Europe and the movement of national emancipation in Asia, and regard fascism as an "excellent antidote" to these "dangerous" movements. For this reason the ruling circles of the "democratic" states, especially the ruling Conservative circles of Great Britain, confine themselves to a policy of pleading with the overweening fascist rulers "not to go to extremes," at the same time giving them to understand that they "fully comprehend" and on the whole sympathize with their reactionary police policy towards the working-class movement and the national emancipation movement. In this respect, the ruling circles of Britain are roughly pursuing the same policy as was pursued under tsardom by the Russian liberal-monarchist bourgeois, who, while fearing the "excesses" of tsarist policy, feared the people even more, and therefore resorted to a policy of pleading with the tsar and, consequently, of conspiring with the tsar against the people. As we know, the liberal-monarchist bourgeoisie of Russia paid dearly for this dual policy. It may be presumed that history will exact retribution also from the ruling circles of Britain, and of their friends in France and the U.S.A.
Clearly, the U.S.S.R. could not shut its eyes to such a turn in the international situation and ignore the ominous events. Any war, however small, started by the aggressors, constitutes a menace to the peaceable countries. The second imperialist war, which has so "imperceptibly" stolen upon the nations and has involved over five hundred million people, is bound all the more to represent a most serious danger to all nations, and to the U.S.S.R. in the first place. This is eloquently borne out by the formation of the "Anti-Communist Bloc" by Germany, Italy and Japan. Therefore, our country, while pursuing its policy of peace, set to work to further strengthen its frontier defences and the fighting efficiency of its Red Army and Navy. Towards the end of 1934 the U.S.S.R. joined the League of Nations. It did so in the knowledge that the League in spite of its weakness, might nevertheless serve as a place where aggressors can be exposed, and as a certain instrument of peace, however feeble, that might hinder the outbreak of war. The Soviet Union considered that in times like these even so weak an international organization as the League of Nations should not be ignored. In May 1935 a treaty of mutual assistance against possible attack by aggressors was signed between France and the U.S.S.R. A similar treaty was simultaneously concluded between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. In March 1936 the U.S.S.R. signed a treaty of mutual assistance with the Mongolian People"s Republic, and in August 1937 a pact of non-aggression with the Republic of China.
Whereas, three years after the economic crisis of 1930-33, a new economic crisis began in the capitalist countries, in the U.S.S.R. industry continued to make steady progress during the whole of this period. Whereas by the middle of 1937 world capitalist industry, as a whole, had barely attained 95-96 per cent of the level of production of 1929, only to be caught in the throes of a new crisis in the second half of 1937, the industry of the U.S.S.R. in its steady cumulative progress, had by the end of 1937 attained 428 per cent of the output of 1929, or over 700 per cent of the pre-war output.
These achievements were a direct result of the policy of reconstruction so persistently pursued by the Party and the Government.
The result of these achievements was that the Second Five-Year Plan of industry was fulfilled ahead of time. It was completed by April 1, 1937, that is, in four years and three months.
This was a most important victory for Socialism. Progress in agriculture presented very much the same picture. The total area under all crops increased from 105,000,000 hectares in 1913 (pre-war) to 135,000,000 hectares in 1937. The grain harvest increased from 4,800,000,000 poods in 1913, to 6,800,000,000 poods in 1937, the raw cotton crop from 44,000,000 poods to 154,000,000 poods, the flax crop (fibre) from 19,000,000 poods to 31,000,000 poods, the sugar-beet crop from 654,000,000 poods to 1,311,000,000 poods, and the oil-seed crop from 129,000,000 poods to 306,000,000 poods.
It should be mentioned that in 1937 the collective farms alone (without the state farms) produced a marketable surplus of over 1,700,000,000 poods of grain, which was at least 400,000,000 poods more than the landlords, kulaks and peasants together marketed in 1913.
Only one branch of agriculture – livestock farming – still lagged behind the pre-war level and continued to progress at a slower rate.
As to collectivization in agriculture, it might be considered completed. The number of peasant households that had joined the collective farms by 1937 was 18,500,000 or 93 per cent of the total number of peasant households, while the grain crop area of the collective farms amounted to 99 per cent of the total grain crop area of the peasants.
The fruits of the reconstruction of agriculture and of the extensive supply of tractors and machinery for agricultural purposes were now manifest.
As a result of the completion of the reconstruction of industry and agriculture the national economy was now abundantly supplied with first-class technique. Industry, agriculture, the transport system and the army had received huge quantities of modern technique – machinery and machine tools, tractors and agricultural machines, locomotives and steamships, artillery and tanks, aeroplanes and warships. Tens and hundreds of thousands of trained people were required, people capable of harnessing all this technique and getting the most out of it. Without this, without a sufficient number of people who had mastered technique, there was a risk of technique becoming so much dead and unused metal. This was a serious danger, a result of the fact that the growth in the number of trained people, cadres, capable of harnessing, making full use of technique was not keeping pace with, and even lagging far behind, the spread of technique. Matters were further complicated by the fact that a considerable number of our industrial executives did not realize this danger and believed that technique would just "do the job by itself." Whereas, formerly, they had underrated the importance of technique and treated it with disdain, now they began to overrate it and turn it into a fetish. They did not realize that without people who had mastered technique, technique was a dead thing. They did not realize that to make technique highly productive, people who had mastered technique were required.
Thus the problem of cadres who had mastered technique became one of prime importance.
The executives who displayed an excessive zeal for technique and a consequent underestimation of the importance of trained people, cadres, had to have their attention turned to the study and mastery of technique, and to the necessity of doing everything to train numerous cadres capable of harnessing technique and getting the most out of it.
Whereas formerly, at the beginning of the reconstruction period, when the country suffered from a dearth of technique, the Party had issued the slogan, "technique in the period of reconstruction decides everything," now, when there was an abundance of technique, when the reconstruction had in the main been completed, and when the country was experiencing an acute dearth of cadres, it became incumbent on the Party to issue a new slogan, one that would focus attention, not so much on technique, as on people, on cadres capable of utilizing technique to the full.
Of great importance in this respect was the speech made by Comrade Stalin to the graduates from the Red Army Academies in May 1935.
"Formerly," said Comrade Stalin, "we used to say that "technique decides everything." This slogan helped us to put an end to the dearth in technique and to create a vast technical base in every branch of activity for the equipment of our people with first-class technique. That is very good. But it is not enough, it is not enough by far. In order to set technique going and to utilize it to the full, we need people who have mastered technique, we need cadres capable of mastering and utilizing this technique according to all the rules of the art. Without people who have mastered technique, technique is dead. In the charge of people who have mastered technique, technique can and should perform miracles. If in our first-class mills and factories, in our state farms and collective farms and in our Red Army we had sufficient cadres capable of harnessing this technique, our country would secure results three times and four times as great as at present. That is why emphasis must now be laid on people, on cadres, on workers who have mastered technique. That is why the old slogan, "technique decides everything," which is a reflection of a period already passed, a period in which we suffered from a dearth of technique, must now be replaced by a new slogan, the slogan "cadres decide everything." That is the main thing now....
"It is time to realize that of all the valuable capital the world possesses, the most valuable and most decisive is people, cadres. It must be realized that under our present conditions "cadres decide everything." If we have good and numerous cadres in industry, agriculture, transport and the army – our country will be invincible. If we do not have such cadres – we shall be lame on both legs."
Thus the prime task now was to accelerate the training of technical cadres and rapidly to master the new technique with the object of securing a continued rise in productivity of labour.
The most striking example of the growth of such cadres, of the mastering of the new technique by our people, and of the continued rise in productivity of labour was the Stakhanov movement. It originated and developed in the Donetz Basin, in the coal industry, and spread to other branches of industry, to the railways, and then to agriculture. It was called the Stakhanov movement after its originator, Alexei Stakha-nov, a coal-hewer in the Central Irmino Colliery (Donetz Basin). Sta-khanov had been preceded by Nikita Izotov, who had broken all previous records in coal hewing. On August 31, 1935, Stakhanov hewed 102 tons of coal in one shift and thus fulfilled the standard output fourteen times over. This inaugurated a mass movement of workers and collective farmers for raising the standards of output, for a new advance in productivity of labour. Busygin in the automobile industry, Smetanin in the shoe industry, Krivonoss on the railways, Musinsky in the timber industry, Evdokia Vinogradova and Maria Vinogradova in the textile industry, Maria Demchenko, Maria Gnatenko, P. Angelina, Polagutin, Kolesov, Borin and Kovardak in agriculture – these were the first pioneers of the Stakhanov movement.
They were followed by other pioneers, whole battalions of them, who surpassed the productivity of labour of the earlier pioneers.
Tremendous stimulus was given to the Stakhanov movement by the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites held in the Kremlin in November 1935, and by the speech Comrade Stalin made there.
"The Stakhanov movement," Comrade Stalin said in this speech, "is the expression of a new wave of Socialist emulation, a new and higher stage of Socialist emulation.... In the past, some three years ago, in the period of the first stage of Socialist emulation, Socialist emulation was not necessarily associated with modern technique. At that time, in fact, we had hardly any modern technique. The present stage of Socialist emulation, the Stakhanov movement, on the other hand, is necessarily associated with modern technique. The Stakhanov movement would be inconceivable without a new and higher technique. We have before us people like Comrade Stakhanov, Busygin, Smetanin, Krivonoss, the Vinogradovas and many others, new people, working men and women, who have completely mastered the technique of their jobs, have harnessed it and driven ahead. We had no such people, or hardly any such people, some three years ago.... The significance of the Stakhanov movement lies in the fact that it is a movement which is smashing the old technical standards, because they are inadequate, which in a number of cases is surpassing the productivity of labour of the foremost capitalist countries, and is thus creating the practical possibility of further consolidating Socialism in our country, of converting our country into the most prosperous of all countries."
Describing the methods of work of the Stakhanovites, and bringing out the tremendous significance of the Stakhanov movement for the future of our country, Comrade Stalin went on to say:
"Look at our comrades, the Stakhanovites, more closely. What type of people are they? They are mostly young or middle-aged working men and women, people with culture and technical knowledge, who show examples of precision and accuracy in work, who are able to appreciate the time factor in work and who have learned to count not only the minutes, but also the seconds. The majority of them have taken the technical minimum courses and are continuing their technical education. They are free of the conservatism and stagnation of certain engineers, technicians and business executives; they are marching boldly forward, smashing the antiquated technical standards and creating new and higher standards; they are introducing amendments into the designed capacities and economic plans drawn up by the leaders of our industry; they often supplement and correct what the engineers and technicians have to say, they often teach them and impel them forward, for they are people who have completely mastered the technique of their job and who are able to squeeze out of technique the maximum that can- be squeezed out of it. Today the Stakhanovites are still few in number, but who can doubt that tomorrow there will be ten times more of them? Is it not clear that the Stakhanovites are innovators in our industry, that the Stakhanov movement represents the future of our industry, that it contains the seed of the future rise in the cultural and technical level of the working class, that it opens to us the path by which alone can be achieved those high indices of productivity of labour which are essential for the transition from Socialism to Communism and for the elimination of the distinction between mental labour and manual labour."
The spread of the Stakhanov movement and the fulfillment of the Second Five-Year Plan ahead of time created the conditions for a new rise in the standard of welfare and culture of the working people.
During the period of the Second Five-Year Plan real wages of workers and office employees had more than doubled. The total payroll increased from 34,000,000,000 rubles in 1933 to 81,000,000,000 rubles in 1937. The state social insurance fund increased from 4,600,000,000 rubles to 5,600,000,000 rubles in the same period. In 1937 alone, about 10,000,000,000 rubles were expended on the state insurance of workers and employees, on improving living conditions and on meeting cultural requirements, on sanatoria, health resorts, rest homes and on medical service.
In the countryside, the collective farm system had been definitely consolidated. This was greatly assisted by the Rules of the Agricultural Artel, adopted by the Second Congress of Collective Farm Shock Workers in February 1935, and the assignment to the collective farms of the land cultivated by them in perpetual tenure. The consolidation of the collective farm system put an end to poverty and insecurity among the rural population. Whereas formerly, some three years earlier, the collective farmers had received one or two kilograms of grain per work-day-unit, now the majority of the collective farmers in the grain-growing regions were receiving from five to twelve kilograms, and many as much as twenty kilograms per work-day-unit, besides other kinds of produce and money income. There were millions of collective farm households in the grain-growing regions who now received as their yearly returns from 500 to 1,500 poods of grain, and in the cotton, sugar beet, flax, livestock, grape growing, citrus fruit growing and fruit and vegetable growing regions, tens of thousands of rubles in annual income. The collective farms had become prosperous. It was now the chief concern of the household of a collective farmer to build new granaries and storehouses, inasmuch as the old storage places, which were designed for a meagre annual supply, no longer met even one-tenth of the household"s requirements.
In 1936, in view of the rising standard of welfare of the people, the government passed a law prohibiting abortion, at the same time adopting an extensive program for the building of maternity homes, nurseries, milk centres and kindergartens. In 1936, 2,174,000,000 rubles were assigned for these measures, as compared with 875,000,000 rubles in 1935. A law was passed providing for considerable grants to large families. Grants to a total of over 1,000,000,000 rubles were made in 1937 under this law.
The introduction of universal compulsory education and the building of new schools led to the rapid cultural progress of the people. Schools were built in large numbers all over the country. The number of pupils in elementary and intermediate schools increased from 8,000,000 in 1914 to 28,000,000 in the school year 1936-37. The number of university students increased from 112,000 to 542,000 in the same period.
This was a veritable cultural revolution.
The rise in the standard of welfare and culture of the masses was a reflection of the strength, might and invincibility of our Soviet revolution. Revolutions in the past perished because, while giving the people freedom, they were unable to bring about any serious improvement in their material and cultural conditions. Therein lay their chief weakness. Our revolution differs from all other revolutions in that it not only freed the people from tsardom and capitalism, but also brought about a radical improvement in the welfare and cultural condition of the people. Therein lies its strength and invincibility.
"Our proletarian revolution," said Comrade Stalin at the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites, "is the only revolution in the world which had the opportunity of showing the people not only political results but also material results. Of all workers" revolutions we know only one which managed to achieve power. That was the Paris Commune. But it did not last long. True, it endeavoured to smash the fetters of capitalism, but it did not have time enough to smash them, and still less to show the people the beneficial material results of revolution. Our revolution is the only one which not only smashed the fetters of capitalism and brought the people freedom, but also succeeded in creating the material conditions of a prosperous life for the people. Therein lies the strength and invincibility of our revolution."
In February 1935, the Seventh Congress of Soviets of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics passed a decision to change the Constitution of the U.S.S.R. which had been adopted in 1924. The change of the Constitution was necessitated by the vast changes that had taken place in the life of the U.S.S.R. since the first Constitution of the Soviet Union had been adopted in 1924. During this period the relation of class forces within the country had completely changed; a new Socialist industry had been created, the kulaks had been smashed, the collective farm system had triumphed, and the Socialist ownership of the means of production had been established in every branch of national economy as the basis of Soviet society. The victory of Socialism made possible the further democratization of the electoral system and the introduction of universal, equal and direct suffrage with secret ballot.
The new Constitution of the U.S.S.R. was drafted by a Constitution Commission set up for the purpose, under the chairmanship of Comrade Stalin. The draft was thrown open to nationwide discussion, which lasted five and a half months. It was then submitted to the Extraordinary Eighth Congress of Soviets.
The Eighth Congress of Soviets, specially convened to approve or reject the draft of the new Constitution of the U.S.S.R., met in November1936.
Reporting to the congress on the draft of the new Constitution, Comrade Stalin enumerated the principal changes that had taken place in the Soviet Union since the adoption of the 1924 Constitution.
The 1924 Constitution had been drawn up in the early period of NEP. At that time the Soviet Government still permitted the develop ent of capitalism alongside of the development of Socialism. The Soviet Government planned in the course of competition between the two systems – the capitalist system and the Socialist system – to organize and ensure the victory of Socialism over capitalism in the economic field. The question, "Who will win?" had not yet been settled. Industry, with its old and inadequate technical equipment, had not attained even the pre-war level. Even less enviable was the picture presented by agriculture. The state farms and collective farms were mere islands in a boundless ocean of individual peasant farms. The question then was not of eliminating the kulaks, but merely of restricting them. The Socialist sector accounted for only about 50 per cent of the country"s trade.
Entirely different was the picture presented by the U.S.S.R. in 1936. By that time the economic life of the country had undergone a complete change. The capitalist elements had been entirely eliminated and the Socialist system had triumphed in all spheres of economic life. There was now a powerful Socialist industry which had increased output seven times compared with the pre-war output and had completely ousted private industry. Mechanized Socialist farming in the form of collective farms and state farms, equipped with up-to-date machinery and run on the largest scale in the world, had triumphed in agriculture. By 1936, the kulaks had been completely eliminated as a class, and the individual peasants no longer played any important role in the economic life of the country. Trade was entirely concentrated in the hands of the state and the co-operatives. The exploitation of man by man had been abolished forever. Public, Socialist ownership of the means of production had been firmly established as the unshakable foundation of the new, Socialist system in all branches of economic life. In the new, Socialist society, crises, poverty, unemployment and destitution had disappeared forever. The conditions had been created for a prosperous and cultured life for all members of Soviet society.
The class composition of the population of the Soviet Union, said Comrade Stalin in his report, had changed correspondingly. The landlord class and the old big imperialist bourgeoisie had already been eliminated in the period of the Civil War. During the years of Socialist construction all the exploiting elements – capitalists, merchants, kulaks and profiteers – had been eliminated. Only insignificant remnants of the eliminated exploiting classes persisted, and their complete elimination was a matter of the very near future.
The working people of the U.S.S.R. – workers, peasants and intellectuals – had undergone profound change in the period of Socialist construction.
The working class had ceased to be an exploited class bereft of means of production, as it is under capitalism. It had abolished capitalism, taken away the means of production from the capitalists and turned them into public property. It had ceased to be a proletariat in the proper, the old meaning of the term. The proletariat of the U.S.S.R., possessing the state power, had been transformed into an entirely new class. It had become a working class emancipated from exploitation, a working class which had abolished the capitalist economic system and had established Socialist ownership of the means of production. Hence, it was a working class the like of which the history of mankind had never known before.
No less profound were the changes that had taken place in the condition of the peasantry of the U.S.S.R. In the old days, over twenty million scattered individual peasant households, small and middle, had delved away in isolation on their small plots, using backward technical equipment. They were exploited by landlords, kulaks, merchants, profiteers, usurers, etc. Now an entirely new peasantry had grown up in the U.S.S.R. There were no longer any landlords, kulaks, merchants and usurers to exploit the peasants. The overwhelming majority of the peasant households had joined the collective farms, which were based not on private ownership, but on collective ownership of the means of production, collective ownership which had grown from collective labour. This was a new type of peasantry, a peasantry emancipated from all exploitation. It was a peasantry the like of which the history of mankind had never known before.
The intelligentsia in the U.S.S.R. had also undergone a change. It had for the most part become an entirely new intelligentsia. The majority of its members came from the ranks of the workers and peasants. It no longer served capitalism, as the old intelligentsia did; it served Socialism. It had become an equal member of the Socialist society. Together with the workers and peasants, it was building a new Socialist society. This was a new type of intelligentsia, which served the people and was emancipated from all exploitation. It was an intelligentsia the like of which the history of mankind had never known before.
Thus the old class dividing lines between the working people of the U.S.S.R. were being obliterated, the old class exclusiveness was disappearing. The economic and political contradictions between the workers, the peasants and the intellectuals were declining and becoming obliterated. The foundation for the moral and political unity of society had been created.
These profound changes in the life of the U.S.S.R., these decisive achievements of Socialism in the U.S.S.R., were reflected in the new Constitution.
According to the new Constitution, Soviet society consists of two friendly classes – the workers and peasants – class distinctions between the two still remaining. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is a Socialist state of workers and peasants.
The political foundation of the U.S.S.R. is formed by the Soviets of Deputies of the Working People, which developed and grew strong as a result of the overthrow of the power of the landlords and capitalists and the achievement of the dictatorship of the proletariat.
All power in the U.S.S.R. belongs to the working people of town and country as represented by the Soviets of Deputies of the Working People.
The highest organ of state power in the U.S.S.R. is the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R.
The Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., consisting of two Chambers with equal rights, the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities, is elected by the citizens of the U.S.S.R. for a term of four years on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot.
Elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., as to all Soviets of Deputies of the Working People, are universal. This means that all citizens of the U.S.S.R. who have reached the age of eighteen, irrespective of race or nationality, religion, standard of education, domicile, social origin, property status or past activities, have the right to vote in the election of deputies and to be elected, with the exception of the insane and persons convicted by court of law to sentences including deprivation of electoral rights.
Elections of deputies are equal. This means that each citizen is entitled to one vote and that all citizens participate in the elections on an equal footing.
Elections of deputies are direct. This means that all Soviets of Deputies of the Working People, from rural and city Soviets of Deputies of the Working People up to and including the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., are elected by the citizens by direct vote.
The Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. at a joint sitting of both Chambers elects the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of People"s Commissars of the U.S.S.R.
The economic foundation of the U.S.S.R. is the Socialist system of economy and the Socialist ownership of the means of production. In the U.S.S.R. is realized the Socialist principle: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work."
All citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed the right to work, the right to rest and leisure, the right to education, the right to maintenance in old age and in case of sickness or disability.
Women are accorded equal rights with men in all spheres of life.
The equality of the citizens of the U.S.S.R., irrespective of their nationality or race, is an indefeasible law.
Freedom of conscience and freedom of anti-religious propaganda is recognized for all citizens.
In order to strengthen Socialist society, the Constitution guarantees freedom of speech, press, assembly and meeting, the right to unite in public organizations, inviolability of person, inviolability of domicile and privacy of correspondence, the right of asylum for foreign citizens persecuted for defending the interests of the working people or for their scientific activities, or for their struggle for national liberation.
The new Constitution also imposes serious duties on all citizens of the U.S.S.R.: the duty of observing the laws, maintaining labour discipline, honestly performing public duties, respecting the rules of the Socialist community, safeguarding and strengthening public, Socialist property, and defending the Socialist fatherland.
"To defend the fatherland is the sacred duty of every citizen of the U.S.S.R."
Dealing with the right of citizens to unite in various societies, one of the articles of the Constitution states :
"The most active and politically conscious citizens in the ranks of the working class and other strata of the working people unite in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), which is the vanguard of the working people in their struggle to strengthen and develop the Socialist system and which represents the leading core of all organizations of the working people, both public and state."
The Eighth Congress of Soviets unanimously approved and adopted the draft of the new Constitution of the U.S.S.R.
The Soviet country thus acquired a new Constitution, a Constitution embodying the victory of Socialism and workers" and peasants" democracy.
In this way the Constitution gave legislative embodiment to the epoch-making fact that the U.S.S.R. had entered a new stage of development, the stage of the completion of the building of a Socialist society and the gradual transition to Communist society, where the guiding principle of social life will be the Communist principle: "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."
In 1937, new facts came to light regarding the fiendish crimes of the Bukharin-Trotsky gang. The trial of Pyatakov, Radek and others, the trial of Tukhachevsky, Yakir and others, and, lastly, the trial of Bukharin, Rykov, Krestinsky, Rosengoltz and others, all showed that the Bukharinites and Trotskyites had long ago joined to form a common band of enemies of the people, operating as the "Bloc of Rights and Trotskyites."
The trials showed that these dregs of humanity, in conjunction with the enemies of the people, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, had been in conspiracy against Lenin, the Party and the Soviet state ever since the early days of the October Socialist Revolution. The insidious attempts to thwart the Peace of Brest-Litovsk at the beginning of 1918 the plot against Lenin and the conspiracy with the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries for the arrest and murder of Lenin, Stalin and Sverdlov in the spring of 1918, the villainous shot that wounded Lenin in the summer of 1918, the revolt of the "Left" Socialist-Revolutionaries in the summer of 1918, the deliberate aggravation of differences in the Party in 1921 with the object of undermining and overthrowing Lenin"s leadership from within, the attempts to overthrow the Party leadership during Lenin"s illness and after his death, the betrayal of state secrets and the supply of information of an espionage character to foreign espionage services, the vile assassination of Kirov, the acts of wrecking, diversion and explosions, the dastardly murder of Menzhinsky, Kuibyshev and Gorky – all these and similar villainies over a period of twenty years were committed, it transpired, with the participation or under the direction of Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rykov and their henchmen, at the behest of espionage services of bourgeois states.
The trials brought to light the fact that the Trotsky-Bukharin fiends, in obedience to the wishes of their masters – the espionage services of foreign states – had set out to destroy the Party and the Soviet state, to undermine the defensive power of the country, to assist foreign military intervention, to prepare the way for the defeat of the Red Army, to bring about the dismemberment of the U.S.S.R., to hand over the Soviet Maritime Region to the Japanese, Soviet Byelorussia to the Poles, and the Soviet Ukraine to the Germans, to destroy the gains of the workers and collective farmers, and to restore capitalist slavery in the U.S.S.R.
These Whiteguard pigmies, whose strength was no more than that of a gnat, apparently flattered themselves that they were the masters of the country, and imagined that it was really in their power to sell or give away the Ukraine, Byelorussia and the Maritime Region.
These Whiteguard insects forgot that the real masters of the Soviet country were the Soviet people, and that the Rykovs, Bukharins, Zinovievs and Kamenevs were only temporary employees of the state, which could at any moment sweep them out from its offices as so much useless rubbish.
These contemptible lackeys of the fascists forgot that the Soviet people had only to move a finger, and not a trace of them would be left.
The Soviet court sentenced the Bukharin-Trotsky fiends to be shot. The People"s Commissariat of Internal Affairs carried out the sentence.
The Soviet people approved the annihilation of the Bukharin-Trotsky gang and passed on to next business.
And the next business was to prepare for the election of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. and to carry it out in an organized way.
The Party threw all its strength into the preparations for the elections. It held that the putting into effect of the new Constitution of the U.S.S.R. signified a turn in the political life of the country. This turn meant the complete democratization of the electoral system, the substitution of universal suffrage for restricted suffrage, equal suffrage for not entirely equal suffrage, direct elections for indirect elections, and secret ballot for open ballot.
Before the introduction of the new Constitution there were restrictions of the franchise in the case of priests, former Whiteguards, former kulaks, and persons not engaged in useful labour. The new Constitution abolished all franchise restrictions for these categories of citizens by making the election of deputies universal.
Formerly, the election of deputies had been unequal, inasmuch as the bases of representation for the urban and rural populations differed. Now, however, all necessity for restrictions of equality of the suffrage had disappeared and all citizens were given the right to take part in the elections on an equal footing.
Formerly, the elections of the intermediate and higher organs of Soviet power were indirect. Now, however, under the new Constitution, all Soviets, from rural and urban up to and including the Supreme Soviet, were to be elected by the citizens directly.
Formerly, deputies to the Soviets were elected by open ballot and the voting was for lists of candidates. Now, however, the voting for deputies was to be by secret ballot, and not by lists, but for individual candidates nominated in each electoral area.
This was a definite turning point in the political life of the country.
The new electoral system was bound to result, and actually did result, in an enhancement of the political activity of the people, in greater control by the masses over the organs of Soviet power, and in the increased responsibility of the organs of Soviet power to the people.
In order to be fully prepared for this turn, the Party had to be its moving spirit, and the leading role of the Party in the forthcoming elections had to be fully ensured. But this could be done only if the Party organizations themselves became thoroughly democratic in their everyday work, only if they fully observed the principles of democratic centralism in their inner-Party life, as the Party Rules demanded, only if all organs of the Party were elected, only if criticism and self-criticism in the Party were developed to the full, only if the responsibility of the Party bodies to the members of the Party were complete, and if the members of the Party themselves became thoroughly active.
A report made by Comrade Zhdanov at the plenum of the Central Committee at the end of February 1937 on the subject of preparing the Party organizations for the elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. revealed the fact that a number of Party organizations were systematically violating the Party Rules and the principles of democratic centralism in their everyday work, substituting co-option for election, voting by lists for the voting for individual candidates, open ballot for secret ballot, etc. It was obvious that organizations in which such practices prevailed could not properly fulfil their tasks in the elections to the Supreme Soviet. It was therefore first of all necessary to put a stop to such anti-democratic practices in the Party organizations and to reorganize Party work on broad democratic lines.
Accordingly, after hearing the report of Comrade Zhdanov, the Plenum of the Central Committee resolved:
"a) To reorganize Party work on the basis of complete and unqualified observance of the principles of inner-Party democracy as prescribed by the Party Rules.
"b) To put an end to the practice of co-opting members of Party Committees and to restore the principle of election of directing bodies of Party organizations as prescribed by the Party Rules.
"c) To forbid voting by lists in the election of Party bodies; voting should be for individual candidates, all members of the Party being guaranteed the unlimited right to challenge candidates and to criticize them.
"d) To introduce the secret ballot in the election of Party bodies.
"e) To hold elections of Party bodies in all Party organizations, from the Party Committees of primary Party organizations to the territorial and regional committees and the Central Committees of the national Communist Parties, the elections to be completed not later than May 20.
"f) To charge all Party organizations strictly to observe the provisions of the Party Rules with respect to the terms of office of Party bodies, namely: to hold elections in primary Party organizations once a year; in district and city organizations – once a year; in regional, territorial and republican organizations – every eighteen months.
"g) To ensure that Party organizations strictly adhere to the system of electing Party Committees at general factory meetings, and not to allow the latter to be replaced by delegate conferences.
"h) To put a stop to the practice prevalent in a number of primary Party organizations whereby general meetings are virtually abolished and replaced by shop meetings and delegate conferences."
In this way the Party began its preparations for the forthcoming elections.
This decision of the Central Committee was of tremendous political importance. Its significance lay not only in the fact that it inaugurated the Party's campaign in the election of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., but also, and primarily, in the fact that it helped the Party organizations to reorganize their work, to apply the principles of inner-Party democracy, and to meet the elections to the Supreme Soviet fully prepared.
The Party decided to make the idea of an election bloc of Communists and the non-Party masses the keynote of its policy in developing the election campaign. The Party entered the elections in a bloc, an alliance with the non-Party masses, by deciding to put up in the electoral areas joint candidates with the non-Party masses. This was something unprecedented and absolutely impossible in elections in bourgeois countries. But a bloc of Communists and the non-Party masses was something quite natural in our country, where hostile classes no longer exist and where the moral and political unity of all sections of the population is an incontestable fact.
On December 7, 1937, the Central Committee of the Party issued an Address to the electors, which stated:
"On December 12, 1937, the working people of the Soviet Union will, on the basis of our Socialist Constitution, elect their deputies to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. The Bolshevik Party enters the elections in a bloc, an alliance with the non-Party workers, peasants, office employees and intellectuals.... The Bolshevik Party does not fence itself off from non-Party people, but, on the contrary, enters the elections in a bloc, an alliance, with the non-Party masses, in a bloc with the trade unions of the workers and office employees, with the Young Communist League and other non-Party organizations and societies. Consequently, the candidates will be the joint candidates of the Communists and the non-Party masse every non-Party deputy will also be the deputy of the Communists, just as every Communist deputy will be the deputy of the non-Party masses."
The Address of the Central Committee concluded with the following appeal to the electors:
"The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) calls upon all Communists and sympathizers to vote for the non-Party candidates with the same unanimity as they should vote for the Communist candidates.
"The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) calls upon all non-Party electors to vote for the Communist candidates with the same unanimity as they will vote for the non-Party candidates.
"The Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks) calls upon all electors to appear at the polling stations on December 12, 1937, as one man, to elect the deputies to the Soviet of the Union and the Soviet of Nationalities.
"There must not be a single elector who does not exercise his honourable right of electing deputies to the Supreme organ of the Soviet state.
"There must not be a single active citizen who does not consider it his civic duty to assist in ensuring that all electors without exception take part in the elections of the Supreme Soviet.
"December 12, 1937, should be a great holiday celebrating the union of the working people of all the nations of the U.S.S.R. around the victorious banner of Lenin and Stalin."
On December 1, 1937, the eve of the elections, Comrade Stalin addressed the voters of the area in which he was nominated and described what type of public figures those whom the people choose, the deputies to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., should be. Comrade Stalin said:
"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; that they should be as fearless in battle and as merciless towards the enemies of the people as Lenin was; 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; 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; that they should be as upright and honest as Lenin was; that they should love their people as Lenin did."
The elections to the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. took place on December 12 amidst great enthusiasm. They were something more than elections; they were a great holiday celebrating the triumph of the Soviet people, a demonstration of the great friendship of the peoples of the U.S.S.R.
Of a total of 94,000,000 electors, over 91,000,000, or 96.8 per cent, voted. Of this number 89,844,000, or 98.6 per cent, voted for the candidates of the bloc of the Communists and the non-Party masses. Only 632,000 persons, or less than one per cent, voted against the candidates of the bloc of the Communists and the non-Party masses. All the candidates of the bloc were elected without exception.
Thus, 90,000,000 persons, by their unanimous vote, confirmed the victory of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.
This was a remarkable victory for the bloc of the Communists and the non-Party masses.
It was a triumph for the Bolshevik Party.
It was a brilliant confirmation of the moral and political unity of
the Soviet people, to which Comrade Molotov had referred in a historic
speech he delivered on the occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of the