Zinoviev on State Capitalism

Grigorii Zinoviev, Minority Report to the Fourteenth Party Congress. December 1925


Original Source: XIV s”ezd Vsesoiuznoi Kommunisticheskoi partii (b) 18-31 dekabria 1925 g. (Moscow: GIZ, 1926), pp. 98, 101, 108-9.

What are the chief difficulties in our work? In my opinion there are three. They form, as it were, the background of the whole picture of our construction. The first difficulty is the delay of the world revolution. At the beginning of the October Revolution we were convinced that the workers of other countries would provide us with direct support in a matter of months, or in any case within a few years. Now, unfortunately, it has been demonstrated that the delay of the world revolution is a fact, that the partial stabilization of capitalism characterizes a whole period, and that a new, more complicated set of difficulties is connected with this stabilization.

The second difficulty is well known-this is the building of socialism in a backward country with such an enormous predominance of the peasantry. This is a difficulty for which we gave ourselves the answer in the first days of the revolution and which we have been successfully overcoming.

The third difficulty is the creation of a collective leadership for our party after the death of Vladimir Il’ich. Only now, it seems to me, is this being drawn in full clarity. This difficulty is not unimportant, because leading the party means at the same time directing the state. This is not only an organizational question, this is a political problem of the most profound importance…

Recently a dispute about the question of state capitalism descended upon us quite unexpectedly, out of a clear blue… To take the bull by the horns, Comrades, I think it is first of all necessary to answer those who are now trying to represent the matter as though we have no state capitalism and practically nothing of capitalism in general. I feel that the thing here is really the attempt of certain comrades to declare that the NEP is socialism. (Laughter, noise) Such a point of view, such a position represents the idealization of the NEP, the idealization of capitalism. (Voice: “Who thinks so?”) It is indisputable that the NEP is the road to socialism, but the assertion that the NEP is not socialism also seems to me indisputable. (Voice: “These are questions from political grammar school.”) So, Comrades, it appears to me that this is just what the dispute is about. Of course, he who idealizes the NEP cannot but dispute Lenin’s formulation on the question of state capitalism…

So, Comrades, I think it is indisputable … that our state industry consists of enterprises which are of a type consistent with socialism but are not yet fully socialist, as Bukharin admitted in the spring of 1922. Finally, it is indisputable that the simplest and clearest example of state capitalism in a country like ours is concessions and leases. But it must be just as indisputable for us that this does not exhaust state capitalism, that we cannot forget about free trade and its forms, about planning and distribution, about the revival of capitalism in individual farms. We cannot forget that all this, insofar as it is subordinated to the control of the state, all this Vladimir Rich called state capitalism, adding the qualification that this is a unique state capitalism, radically distinguished from the state capitalism of the bourgeois countries in that it is subordinated and limited by the working class, by the proletarian state. But at the same time Vladimir Rich said that in order for the workers to see that we do have capitalism we must not idealize or gloss over reality.

Source: Robert V. Daniels, ed., A Documentary History of Communism (Hanover: Published for the University of Vermont by University Press of New England, 1984), pp. 183-186.

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