Deferred Comprehension. XVI Congress of the CPSU (b): The Mythological and the Real 90 Years Later

Feldman M.A.


The article looks at the XVI Congress of the CPSU (b) (June 26 – July 13, 1930) as a specific moment of confrontation between two main vectors of Soviet history, one being the modernization project in industry and the other – the utopian way of forced «socialist construction». Unreasonable and repeated increase of targets contained in the First five-year plan by Resolutions of the Central Committee of the CPSU (b) of autumn 1929 – winter 1930 caused chaos in the Soviet economy, the explosion of social discontent in the rural areas and sharply worsened situation of workers in the city. The delegates of the Congress had to choose between loyalty to Stalin's ideological dogmas and an adequate assessment of reality. The facts given in the article show that the XVI CPSU (b) Congress was not a complete victory for Stalin. The majority of delegates tended to talk, at best, about the «mistakes» of those who supported NEP but not about «crimes». Bukharin, Rykov, and Tomsky remained in the Central Committee elected by the delegates of the Congress, while Rykov, at the same time, still occupied his post in the Politburo. The sum of critical «grains» contained in the delegates’ statements produced a mosaic but nevertheless convincing picture of the failures and shortcomings of the Soviet economy in the summer of 1930. The statistics given by the Chairman of the SNK, S.I. Syrtsov, on the scale of the loss of livestock in the course of only one winter of 1930, testified to the fact that the damages roughly equaled the volume of investment in the country's industry during the five-year period. This could be the verdict of Stalin's collectivization. Finally, shortly after the XVI Congress, the «unity and strong cohesion» of the CPSU (b) cracked with the emergence of a number of anti-Stalin groups. Nevertheless, the Stalin’s scenario of the Congress precluded an open discussion of the real problems of industrialization and collectivization, for a true picture of the economic and social crisis in the country could strengthen the position of the head of the Soviet government, A.I. Rykov, and his supporters.


рarty; Congress; socialism; economy; agriculture; industrialization; report.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2020.01.08

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