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Soviet Russia, Fall 2002 

Week 5 Linked Documents Assignment

This assignment has two parts.  Do both!

Link to:     Part One        Part Two


Part One

On Party Unity 

In early 1921, at the same time that he was beginning to guide the party-state away from "War Communism" toward the New Economic Policy, and simultaneous with the repression of widespread rebellions against the Soviet regime (most notable at Kronsdat), Lenin laid out new guidelines on party unity.  This linked document is Lenin's draft for a proposed new policy against factionalism in the Communist Party, which was discussed (and ultimately accepted) at the party's 10th Congress in March 1921.

During the Civil War, a number of factions within the Communist Party had criticized positions taken by Lenin and the majority group among the party leadership.  Lenin's draft resolutions on the issues of party unity and on "deviations" in the party were a response to these opposition groups.  Many historians (most notably Leonard Schapiro in his classic books The Origins of the Communist Autocracy and The Communist Party of the Soviet Union) have argued that the 10th Party Congress' resolutions against factionalism--the final product of Lenin's proposal in these drafts--provided Stalin a perfect tool for silencing his critics and seizing control over the party.


How was Lenin defining factionalism?

According to Lenin, why were factions within the party impermissible?

How were factions to be avoided/prevented?

What was supposed to happen to any group that formed a faction within the party?

Take a look at Lenin's specific criticisms of the Workers' Opposition in the section "On the Syndicalist and Anarchrist Deviation in our Party"--did Lenin accept the idea that party members could disagree with the party line and still be "marxists"?  Did he think that you could still disagree with the party line and be a champion of the proletariat?  Explain.


Link to document:  V. I. Lenin, " Preliminary Draft Resolutions of the 10th Congress of the R.C.P" (at


Part Two

Lenin's "Last Testament"

In December 1922, as Lenin lay in his sickbed, crippled by a series of strokes, he dictated these notes, which he expected would be read at the upcoming party congress.  The document was subsequently suppressed (for reasons that will become clear as you read).  Stalin effectively diffused the impact of these notes when they were presented to the party leadership and by doing so further undercut Trotsky.  Stalin's personal response to Lenin's comments, however, was to say that Lenin had "defecated all over the party" although Stalin used a less polite term!!


Why would Lenin want to enlarge the size of the party's central committee?  What was his aim?

Why did Lenin fear a split in the party?

What were Lenin's initial (24 December 1922) criticisms of Stalin and of Trotsky?

What was the point of Lenin's 4 January 1923 note regarding Stalin?

Link to document:  Lenin's "Last Testament" (at

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