First published in 1923
From V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, 4th English Edition,
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1965
Vol. 32, pp. 371-74.
Translated from the Russian
Edited by Yuri Sdobnikov
TO COMRADE KRZHIZHANOVSKY,
THE PRESIDIUM OF THE STATE PLANNING
There is still hardly any evidence of the operation of an integrated state economic plan. The predominating tendency is to "revive" everything, all branches of the national economy indiscriminately, even all the enterprises that we have inherited from capitalism.
The State Planning Commission should organise its work in such a way as to have drawn up, at least by harvest time, the main principles of a state economic plan for the next year or two.
It should start with food, for this is the taproot of all our difficulties. An attempt must be made to draw up a national economic plan for three contingencies: a state reserve of (1) 200; (2) 250 and (3) 300 million poods of grain for the year (September 1, 1921 to September 1, 1922). Perhaps, if the difficulties of working out detailed calculations for the three contingencies prove too great, it would be more rational to confine ourselves to one detailed calculation based on the assumption that we obtain 250 million poods, with a surplus (300 minus 250) provided against a rainy day, and only approximate the details for the contingency of a complete shortage of grain (200 million poods) (so much to be bought from abroad, so much to be "tightened up" in industry, transport, the army, etc.).
Assume that the state grain reserve amounts to so much; deduct a reserve for the contingency of war, interruptions in railway communication, etc.
Then comes fuel. The prospects ranging from so much to so much. Minimum and maximum amount of food required for this purpose. The possibility of increasing fuel
supplies to such-and-such dimensions if the grain reserve is increased by so much.
Possibility of economising so much fuel by concentrating production in a few of the best factories. These calculations are essential. In this connection, estimate the possibilities of economising food by closing down unnecessary factories, or those not absolutely essential, and by transferring the workers (Where? Is such transfer feasible? If not -- consider the minimum task of putting such workers on shorter rations).
Economising fuel by paying a bonus for saving it and by tighter supervision of consumption. Approximate estimate of such economy -- if there are any data to base it on.
The army (as distinct from the navy, for which special calculations must be made for maximum reduction, verging on abolition, and reduction of expenditure). Basis of calculation -- 1.6 million by Sept. 1, 1921, and a provisional estimate for half the amount.
Soviet office staffs. Present size. Possibility of reducing by 25 or 50 per cent. Bonus for one-fourth (of present number of employees, those absolutely essential) for reducing the total number. This question of giving a bonus to the remaining fourth (or third, or half) for reducing the total number of mouths (and for reducing fuel consumption by, say, introducing a three-shift system and closing two out of three offices) must be examined with particular care in view of its exceptional importance.
Industry, divided into several groups with the smallest possible number of the main groups. Water and light. Minimum necessary to cover minimum requirements: (alpha *) productive consumption, (beta *) individual consumption. Estimates for a definite number of main groups (the task of working out detailed calculations for the respective branches of industry, districts and towns may, perhaps, be assigned to special subcommissions, or special local agents, or to the gubernia statistical bureaus, etc.) -- calculate how many large factories all production can be concentrated in, and how many should be closed. Obviously, this extremely important question requires particularly careful study: firstly, purely statistical (data for 1920, and, if possible, also for 1918 and 1919; sometimes, in
exceptional cases, pre-war statistics may be of auxiliary use); secondly, economic, which must solve the following special problem:
Is it possible to find for the redundant urban and industrial workers whom the state ought not to feed, and for whom other employment cannot be provided in the towns, temporary employment -- for a year or two -- in the grain districts on the understanding that they satisfy the needs of the surrounding farming population?
After industry, from which the building industry must be singled out, comes transport (perhaps this should be put before industry?), and electrification as a distinct item.
And so forth.
The estimates must be first drawn up at least in rough outline, as a first approximation; but they must be ready at an early date -- within a month, or two, at the outside. They must give an overall picture of the total food and fuel expenditure for the year. This rough plan can afterwards be filled in, corrected, amended; but at this early date we must have the main plan for the year even if only in rough outline (or perhaps separate plans for each of the quarters, or thirds, of the year: Sept. 1, 1921 to Jan. 1, 1922; Jan. 1 to May 1, and May 1 to Sept. 1, 1922).
Nineteen-twenty must be taken as a basis for comparison throughout. Perhaps a number of estimates can and must be made on the basis of a comparative statistical and economic study of the data for 1920 and the "prospects" for 1921-22.
I request that the Presidium of the State Planning Commission inform me of the opinions on this letter of the majority and of its individual members, before submitting my proposal to the Plenum of the State Planning Commission.
Chairman of the Council of Labour and Defence,
V. Ulyanov (Lenin )
May 14, 1921
P.S. 1) Special attention must be paid to the industries producing articles that can be exchanged for grain, in order to obtain grain within the country. At all events these industries must be grouped separately so as to provide a definite answer to the question: In the event of a general
shortage of grain, will it be possible, by setting aside a given quantity of food and fuel for certain branches of industry, or certain factories, to obtain a given quantity of goods which can be exchanged for a given quantity of grain? This provisional estimate must be drawn up beforehand, for application, in certain cases, after the harvest.
2) An attempt must be made to single out and count up: (a) the factories (and number of workers) that are absolutely essential for the state and (b) the factories -- and number of workers -- which are being kept running by tradition, routine, und the unwillingness of the workers to change their occupation and domicile, etc., and which should be closed down to rationalise production and concentrate industry in a few of the best factories operating in several shifts. Total number of factories and workers in each category. Estimate reduction of ration for second category as an incentive for closing these factories.