The Declaration of 46 (1923)

The ‘Declaration of 46’ was a statement of dissent, signed by 46 members of the Russian Communist Party and handed to the party’s Politburo on October 15th 1923. The declaration voiced criticisms of the Soviet government’s economic policy, as well as the growing level of bureaucratisation in the Soviet regime and the lack of democracy in the party itself:

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To the Politburo of the Russian Communist Party,

“The extreme seriousness of the situation forces us (in the interests of our party and in the interests of the working class) to tell you openly that continuation of the policy of the majority of the Politburo threatens the entire party with grave misfortune.

The economic and financial crisis beginning at the end of July this year, with all the political consequences flowing from it, including those within the party, has mercilessly revealed the inadequacy of the party leadership, both in the economic realm and especially in the area of inner-party relations.

The haphazard, poorly thought through, and unsystematic decisions of the CC, which hasn’t made ends meet in the economy, have led to a situation where, given the presence of undoubtedly major successes in the realm of industry, agriculture, finances and transport… we are faced not only with the perspective of the halting of these successes but with a severe crisis of the economy as a whole.

We stand before the approaching break-down of the chervonets currency, which spontaneously turned into the basic currency before the liquidation of the budget deficit.

We face a credit crisis in which the State Bank cannot, without the risk of severe shocks, finance not only industry and the trade of industrial goods but even the purchase of grain for export.

We face the cessation of the sale of industrial goods because of high prices, which can be explained, on the one hand, by the complete absence of planning, organisational leadership in industry and, on the other, by incorrect credit policy.

We face the impossibility of carrying out the grain export program because of the inability to purchase grain.

We face extremely low prices for food products, which are ruinous for the peasantry and which threaten massive cutbacks in agricultural production.

We face the interruption of wage payments, which evokes the natural dissatisfaction of the workers.

We face budget chaos, which directly creates chaos in the government apparatus…

All these are elements of an economic, credit and financial crisis which has already begun. If we do not immediately take extensive, well thought out, planned and energetic measures, if the present lack of leadership continues, we face the possibility of unusually sharp economic shocks, bound up with domestic political complications and with the complete paralysis of our foreign activity and capability…

In precisely the same way, we see in the realm of inner-party relations the same incorrect leadership, paralysing and demoralising the party, which is particularly clearly felt during the crisis we are passing through…

We observe an ever-progressing, barely disguised division of the party into a secretarial hierarchy, into professional party functionaries chosen from above, and the other party masses, who take no part in social life…

The regime which has been established within the party is absolutely intolerable. It is killing the independence of the party, replacing the party with a selected bureaucratic apparatus which functions smoothly during normal times, but which inevitably misfires during moments of crisis, and which threatens to become absolutely helpless when confronted with the serious events which lie ahead…”