MEETING OF THE POLITBURO OF THE CC CPSU, 'ON THE ISSUE OF REORGANIZATION OF THE PARTY APPARATUS'
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get citationDetailed discussion of the reorganization of all Soviet party and government divisions and organizations."Meeting of the Politburo of the CC CPSU, 'On the Issue of Reorganization of the Party Apparatus'," September 08, 1988, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, F. 89, op. 42, d 22, l. 27. Translated for CWIHP by Daniel Rozas. http://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/118945
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MEETING OF THE POLITBURO OF THE CC CPSU
8 September 1988
Chaired by com. M.S.GORBACHEV
Present: coms. V.I. Vorotnikov, A.A. Gromyko, L.N. Zaikov, E.K. Ligachev, V.P. Nikonov, N.I. Ryzhkov, N.N. Sliun’kov, E.A. Shevardnadze, A.N. Yakovlev, V.I. Dolgikh, Yu.D. Masliukov, G.P. Razumovskii, N.V. Talyzin, D.R. Yazov, O.D. Baklanov, A.F. Dobrynin, A.I. Luk’ianov, V.A. Medvedev.
1. Com. M.S. Gorbachev’s memorandum of 24 August 1988 “On the issue of reorganizing the party apparatus”
GORBACHEV. The first issue on the agenda. Memorandum on the issue of the organization of the party apparatus. What is the comrades’ opinion [of it]?
LIGACHEV. I think that Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum on this issue is run through with the ideological directives of the 21st All-Union party conference. Truly, the time has now come when we must very seriously engage the issue of improving our party’s apparatus. As is correctly emphasized in the memorandum, a division on the party’s functions is needed, on the one hand, of the Soviets and the administrative organs, and on the other, in order to elevate the role of both the party and the Soviets in the issues of leading and administering the country.
I firmly advocate a fundamental resolution of the issue. Each of us presented Mikhail Sergeevich with proposals. In my proposals, I adhered to just such an approach. We have approached these issues over the course of many decades, and moreover [have done so] more from the point of view of declarations than from the point of view of practicality. There were periods when the conversation about eliminating guardianship [opeka] over the Soviets by party organs and about ending the mixing of their functions and methods, but in practice these processes increased. Each party committee (this is even what I did when I worked in a regional committee) tried to provide itself with a maximum quantity of structural subdivisions which would concern themselves with economic issues. Why did this happen? Because partial, half-way measures were taken - that is one reason - the other is that the apparatus often stood over the party selection organ. That is why, on the whole, I fully support Mikhail Sergeevich’s proposal on the further activation of the party’s Central Committee and [on] the structure of the party apparatus of the Central Committee.
It seems to me that these proposals afford us the opportunity truly, not in words, but in actions, to move away from the branch principle to a problem-driven [problemnyi] approach.
In this connection, I would just like to emphasize the following. We must create a qualitatively different apparatus in the Central Committee of the party, as well as in the local party organs. In regard to this I would like to emphasize, as I see it, that this apparatus must deal both with political and with theoretical issues, but at the same time, I think, that today it is expedient to say that its duties also include organizing work on the implementation of decisions that have been taken and the rendering of help to local party organizations.
GORBACHEV. And ideological provision [obespechenie].
LIGACHEV. Yes. And strengthening ties with the localities, with local organs, with working people, since no apparatus, if it is not tightly connected to local work, to local collectives, is able to help the CC work out policy and conduct theoretical and political problem-driven work. And this means that the apparatus must be political. I would like to talk about, God forbid, if we create an apparatus after the example of the government apparatus, Gosplan [State Committee for Planning] and MID [Ministry of Foreign Affairs]. Insofar as we have political tasks, we must have a political apparatus. That is, as I see it, here are these fresh forces which Mikhail Sergeevich is talking about; they must command great competence, a strong political preparation, high morals and knowledge - I want to repeat this - knowledge of life in the localities. This, in any case, is what I understand is the idea of these fresh forces.
Of course, we must (this is probably a very complicated, and I will say frankly, not an easy matter) help those people who are transferring to other work to get settled. In general, more than a few difficulties connected with the reduction of the apparatus are added to our difficulties: after all, we are laying off about 700-800 thousand people. In the oblast [oblastnyi], republic, regional [raionnyi], and city apparatuses alone, [we are laying off] 550 people.
GORBACHEV. Incidentally, how is that work going?
LIGACHEV. So far, Mikhail Sergeevich, there are no complications.
GORBACHEV. But is it proceeding?
LIGACHEV. It is proceeding, intensively, and there is a basis for stating that it will be complete by the 1st of January. Although this, naturally, is the initial stage, the work will continue.
In connection with this, I would like to say that we will have to increase our monitoring of the fulfillment of the resolutions of the 22nd Congress, the 21st All-Union party conference, and of the enactments by the Politburo and the Secretariat.
I would like to say directly, and perhaps it is my personal observation, but of late in a series of localities, discipline has been on the decline - both working, party, and state [discipline]. In some places, let us speak frankly, provincial and departmental interests are winning out, and in particular this has manifested in a rise in prices. We often are late in reacting to these issues. I would like to illustrate this with two examples. There were so many materials printed which tried to show our country’s foreign policy in the pre-war, and even in the post-war period from incorrect positions. Finally we came out with good materials published in the newspaper “Pravda.” By our recommendation and on their own initiative, many newspapers, especially the republics’ ones, including those in the national languages, re-printed these materials.
I think that we are clearly late regarding the rise in prices. In some places, these processes are taking on, frankly put, a serious and rather massive character. When a branch of industry makes a profit of 50-60 percent by raising prices, that is very significant. Despite the fact that there were signals given in this regard, we did not sufficiently attentively study these phenomena, and are late to clear extent.
When we create the apparatus, this must also be thoroughly taken into consideration.
Mikhail Sergeevich, are we going to examine the issue of reorganizing local party organs together with this issue?
GORBACHEV. Perhaps at the start we will examine the issue of the CC apparatus.
LIGACHEV. Then I have finished.
RYZHKOV. I think that Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum works through all of the problems in a fairly fundamental way and, as they say, a historical digression in made, and it is shown how this problem has evolved over the course of many years. The proposals correspond to the resolutions of the 21st All-Union party conference. They are very balanced, very well thought through, and do not show a hasty or emotional, but a genuinely balanced character. I support the whole of these proposals and believe they should be adopted. I am for taking, as it says in the memorandum, not half-way, but fundamental steps. Otherwise, nothing will come of them. The party is strong, I think, and [I think] that we have enough strength and knowledge to achieve these transformations in the apparatus of the Central Committee of the CPSU and of the local organs.
I am convinced that there will be great difficulties. Theoretically, everything is clear to us, but in practice it will not be so easy to overcome the principles by which we have worked for decades - or precisely, for 50 years, starting in the ‘30s. Stalin started this. For 50 years we went in this direction. And, of course, we must not think that we will reconstruct ourselves overnight [mgnovenno], divide, and so on. I think that there will be some half-tinted and some transitional periods. This process must be endured. But of greatest importance is that the line has been set; it is clear that it must be done. We must all work very hard on the rest of it along the lines of the party, Soviet, and economic organs. Everyone will have to reconstruct themselves, not only the CC apparatus. The Council of Ministers and the administrative committees must reconstruct themselves from top to bottom. And moreover, reconstruct themselves capitally [kapital’no].
Mikhail Sergeevich, I have three observations - not even observations, but, I would say, wishes.
First. I wholly agree with the proposals on the departments for social-economic policy. I wholly support what has been said here. I think that if a different path were taken here: taking social policy separately, economic policy separately, some sort of scientific-technical policy separately, this would be artificial. The whole triad is unbrokenly tied together. Social policy must not be separated from economic and scientific-technical policy. These are mutually linked pehnomena. They complement one another and constitute a single whole. In no case should we split them up.
Second. I think that this division should be a genuinely powerful, as it is said here, major, weighty division. But if in this division we agree to the creation of some sort of separate structural subdivisions not by function but by branch: metallurgy, chemicals, machine-building - than we will simply substitute another, only in miniature, and in a worse version, for [what we have] today. I am expressing my thoughts about those divisions who have a strong connection with the Council of Ministers, and do not want to dwell on all of the divisions. In my view, we must not assent to the creation even of some sort of internally-structured subdivisions of a branch character.
The second issue is that there are two divisions which are spoken about in the memorandum; in a way, they are not assigned to the new structure, but are needed in the transitional period. These are the divisions of defense industry and the division of agrarian policy. I support the proposal that these divisions (without yet speaking about their names) are needed in the Central Committee. Why?
First - on defense. The whole of defense policy follows from our party’s political work. The Central Committee of the party and the General Secretary and his nearest apparatus lead defense policy. That is the way it has been and the way it will be. For this reason, defense issues are connected with politics. It is its complement. Under which aegis defense issues should be conducted - under defense, offense, or some third heading, I don’t know. It all depends on many factors of the political situation in the world. For this reason, I think that separating defense issues from the party’s Central Committee at present would be incorrect. As for what will come later - we do not know. Maybe there really will be some very large movements in disarmament policy and so on - then all of this could be re-examined; but today, it is necessary.
Mikhail Sergeevich, I think that we must very carefully examine what this division will do. On the whole, the following doubt arises in my mind: whether it should be called the defense industry division. Perhaps it should be called the defense division? This should be thought over.
GORBACHEV. Defense policy - that is too much, but the defense division...
RYZHKOV. We shouldn’t use the word “policy.” A division cannot conduct policy. Policy can be conducted by the Politburo and the Defense Council. Clearly, the division can hardly conduct such policy. But it can be called the defense division. The name must be examined - that is first.
If we leave its name - the defense industry division, then, essentially, what we have today remains as is. There will two understudies [dublery] - the military-industrial commission and the defense industry division. I am not saying that they will fight. That thought is far from my mind. But all the same, they will be substitutes for one another.
In my view, we must examine very carefully what this division will be doing; so far I will provisionally call it the defense division. But what will it do? I think that it should deal with global issues. We have a Defense Council and it is headed by the General Secretary of the CC CPSU. The Defense Council examines general issues of principle, that is the military-political situation and our conception [of it] [kontseptsiia]. Recently it [i.e. our conception] was confirmed. Correspondingly, [the Council] decides which direction we are to go with our Armed Forces and what character to give them - defensive or offensive. Clearly, it should indeed deal with issues on such a large, conceptual scale. That is, as I understand, what, conditionally speaking, the apparatus of the Defense Council should be. I am not saying that it [i.e. the apparatus] should set the agenda and circulate it - those are not its functions. In it, major resolutions should be prepared for examination by the Defense Council. [It should] also prepare major resolutions touching on industry, the Ministry of Defense, the KGB, and all others linked with these issues. It should give objective assessments of the real situation which is taking shape as a whole or in certain aspects of the Armed Forces, for instance, in the Air Force, the Defense Council, the General Secretary, as well as its chairman. Here it should analyze this on a general scale and say: here is the state of the Air Force. It should be a deep, analytical document. But it should not deal with the details - what material to put on an aeroplane’s wing, what sort of alloy to use, and so on. Obviously, other organs should deal with that. Of course, it should follow the situation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and make reports on it.
Perhaps, Mikhail Sergeevich, it should monitor the implementation of certain major programs. We have three such major programs. Perhaps it should keep them under its control and systematically report on how they are proceeding.
Well, and of course, issues of cadre policy.
For this reason, while supporting the creation of such a division, I think that serious thought should be given as to the content of its work.
GORBACHEV. As to its functions.
RYZHKOV. Yes, as to its functions.
GORBACHEV. And its position.
RYZHKOV. Yes, its position. Its functions should be different. The people there are qualified. Their numbers will be less. Perhaps, people should be found who think on a greater scale. But that is already, as they say, [getting into] the particulars.
The third issue is the issue of the division on agrarian policy. Historically, it has turned out that the party constantly, as they say, oversaw [kurirovala] this issue in the center and in the provinces. The secretaries of the regional committees and the Secretariat of the CC CPSU dealt with the harvest. For this reason, today it would be dangerous to separate this problem from the party committees right away.
GORBACHEV. And there, the peasantry, the countryside, the peasantry - working class, the environment - all of these are major policy issues.
RYZHKOV. Yes. For that reason, it cannot be separated off now. But I think, that here, Mikhail Sergeevich, there are also issues, and everything will depend on what kind of division it will be, and what its functions will be. If its functions remain the same as they are today, then the division of the CC and the State Agriculture Industry [Gosagroprom] of the USSR will go right behind one another. I do not want to offend anyone, but, in essence, they will double one another.
For this reason, when creating such a division, it is necessary to formulate clearly the issues with which it will deal. We have already discussed this after the conference, when the July Plenum was being prepared. There were the appropriate memoranda. And we talked about this at the July Plenum. I do not consider myself a specialist in this matter. But this is what I am convinced of.
There is a colossal quantity of shortcomings in this area; there is not enough of some equipment, and there is too much of some portion of the equipment. And now we are sorting that out. It appears that there is a surplus of 800 million rubles worth of equipment. There is a shortage of a billion rubles worth of equipment. And there are many such issues. They must be resolved.
But the important thing is not in this, but in agrarian policy, in how we are going to conduct it, in what we will do in this capacity. What are at issue are procedures - family and tenant farms, and so on. If we do not go as far as the political and economic roots, we will not nourish them - and for this, very serious measures must be undertaken - then [by taking] half-way measures, we will not do anything and will not resolve the pProvisions program for a long time.
The division, in my view, should work out such a policy - where we are to go and what we are to do. The State Agriculture Industry Ministry of the USSR will make “fixes” - define norms, and so on.
GORBACHEV. To translate it into practice.
RYZHKOV. To translate it. It will administer through the economic system: what should be done with this zone, with that one, with prices, with taxes, with rent, and so on. But first the policy should be worked out. Because now we are just twitching: today, we do one thing, tomorrow - another. For this reason, if we have a division, which will work through the issues of our policy very thoughtfully, then I think that this will permit us to resolve these issues very quickly.
And, of course, we must think through the issues of the mutual links between the State Agriculture Industry Ministry of the USSR and the division of the party’s Central Committee, as well as the commissions which, evidently, will be created in the CC CPSU and in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. All of these organs must be inter-linked, not replacing, but on the contrary, complimenting each other.
And lastly. We must take this decision today in the Politburo and begin to act on the practical level. I think that you will express some thoughts about how to do this.
At the start I said that we must reconstruct ourselves in every way. Now here we are working on a draft plan for 1989 every day. The pluses of our economic reforms are already being felt, and much is going positively. At the same time, today, clearly we are also tracing phenomena which did not touch us yesterday, but today are provoking contradictions. We are issuing many directives. Perhaps they should be issued. But the issue is that many concrete directives are being adopted. Just yesterday I listened with my comrades to the issue of a construction complex. The ministers said outright: you criticize us for squandering capital investment, but you yourselves are adopting one resolution after another on the construction of new construction units - here there is a whole packet of them. Try, they say, not carrying them out, not beginning the construction of this or that construction unit - you question me about it, and in the CC, they really question me. And truly, very many concrete directives are being adopted in which each department signs itself, etc.
GORBACHEV. One administrator of a trust, when he was criticized and asked why the cooperatives were working faster than the trust answered as follows. This is all understandable. I can explain it to you. Here there is no special machinery. The cooperative member or lessee says that he will not take out a contract if you do not have the documentation ready. He forces you to follow it down to the last page. He will not accept obligations if you have not resolved the issue of an apportionment for the construction site according to established procedure. And you ascribe the whole thing to me without having resolved these issues. If I were to stand in the lessee’s position, I would I would have to give up a half of the plan today, since there is no documentation nor a relevant working-out of the issues on planning construction units. Despite this, it is ascribed to me, and everything says, put the lessee in the same conditions as I am in and he will wind up sitting in the same puddle.
RYZHKOV. Mikhail Sergeevich, that is really what happens. When we adopted a law on enterprises, we said that the moment would come when not the director of an enterprise but we would violate the law. And that moment has come. We are violating the law by issuing such directives.
GORBACHEV. And we must have only one rule: if there is a need, we will issue a state order, but encourage it with incentives. Then it will be justified. Then we can fight for it.
RYZHKOV. We are convinced that new approaches to construction must be found in order to improve the atmosphere. Evidently, for the 1989 plan, things can still by done just through an administrative approach, but in the 1990 plan, we will have to do something really serious.
In principle, in this regard, we have to work out a strategic, political direction in the CC. In the Council of Minister, we must deal with the levers, and not find the details, since these details contradict the law on enterprises. Mikhail Sergeevich, we are becoming violators of that law. For that reason, we must adopt a minimal number of concrete directives. We feel that these details are choking us, and that we cannot grasp the major problems like, for instance, the reorganization of the capital construction [kapstroitel’stvo] mechanism. This confirms that we must very seriously reconstruct ourselves, reconstruct ourselves [at the level of] principle.
GROMYKO. The issue which we are examining today is one of the leading issues in the life of the party and the country. Probably it would be accurate to say that at present we are going through an important period of reconstruction. And the acute raising in Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum of the issue of how we are to conduct affairs in the future is wholly justified. If we are to take Lenin’s statements on these issues, his basic idea was this: the party must assign issues of principle and as for concrete issues of economic construction both in the city and in the countryside, they must be transferred to a maximum degree to the state organs. He got down to very great concrete issues, gave instructions to the relevant departments, and made statements as a whole about the party’s tasks. There were many such instructions. Some of them, incidentally, were delivered very well in Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum. It seems to me that they must be placed at the basis of our further work. Even in the period of the civil war he devoted great attention to the issue of assigning functions in the interests of effectively conducting affairs, in the interests of defense, in the interests of improving the position of working people in the city and in the countryside. For this reason, the principled raising of this issue is absolutely well founded. For this reason, I am for what we are doing. Our hand must not tremble in this regard. The matter must be pursued to the end.
The state organs must meet their obligations and, in keeping with the principled policy of the party, undertake concrete directives and answer for their fulfillment.
Several days ago we examined the issue of the Aral Sea, of its fate and its problems. And it turned out that apparently no one was at fault.
GORBACHEV. That situation is typical of what happens when these functions are not precisely defined. There is no one to take responsibility!
GROMYKO. But entirely definite people were working on it. To make this thought concrete, it seems to me that may issues which the Politburo and the Central Committee are currently involved in can be solved by the Council of Ministers and the other state organs in keeping with the principled line of the party.
It seems to me that this thought is correctly reflected in the proposal as to the creation of a division of economic and social policy. It should be genuinely fundamental, not counting what I have called principled policy, which the party decides. No one will replace the Central Committee and the party. I have no doubts on that score.
In my opinion, the conclusion in the memorandum is correct: what kind of social policy can be made separately from the economy? Subdivisions are possible. But here we must not stray into repetition. Because the name can be changed, and rather than divisions, there will be subdivisions, and at the end of the day, not subdivisions, but sectors, and in the essence of the matter, little will change. So here we must hold to the line and not stray onto such a path.
About assigning the issues of agrarian policy and the creation of a division. I think, comrades, that we all, probably, hold to a single opinion on this issue.
Over the course of decades, a practically (as you know, simplifying for the sake of clear exposition) unequal exchange has taken place. The work of the village and the peasant was devalued to a significant extent. Repression, collectivization. What kind of equivalent, exchange of equal values and goods can be at issue? Definitely, none at all! For this reason, another considerable [nemalyi] period will be necessary to put these things to rights. We do not always call these things by name, but even now the village does not receive what it really should. We have not yet got to the point where we could say: yes, everything decisive has already been done here.
For this reason, I think that the issue of creating such a division is being correctly posed. Its task is very important. Of course, the following argument can be made: the economic division will deal with the economics of the village, with agriculture. This is correct, but all the same, we are looking for a more rational resolution. My opinion is that agrarian policy is agrarian policy. Having rolled up the party’s sleeves, it will still be necessary to do work both in the sense of defining a principled policy and the sense of conducting concrete measures and taking relevant decisions. Probably, no one would seriously say: by such and such a year, we will resolve all the problems touching on the village. Everything possible must be done to resolve it more quickly.
The defense industry division. We have a Defense Council which deals with military issues. Industry, the economic side of the military problem is left over. This area can be worked in most effectively by having some sort of highly-qualified staff of people who would preside over this matter. I will say that while reading the materials, it occurred to me that it would be imprecise to name the division the defense industry division. The Defense Council deals with military issues.
GROMYKO. Military-political, strategic issues. There are many issues to which we cannot give concrete responses today because the situation is not very clear in some regards and in the international arena. We know which tasks must be set. For this reason, it seems to me that it can be called the defense industry division. This is a huge area. It must be run in keeping with political tasks. The issue is not even in the name. The Defense Council, of course, cannot itself deal with industry. But as a result, there must be some kind of unit in both the party and the state apparatuses.
I want to advocate that there be an authoritative ideological apparatus on which the Central Committee can rely. We must regard ideological issues as being among the chief issues in the country’s life. We are all adherents to the policy of democracy and openness, but we must sustain a policy that answers to the interests of building socialism and provides more favorable conditions for the construction of socialism. We must rise higher and higher each year and each month onto the next step. For this reason, it seems to me, this work is of extraordinary importance.
Here there can be no let up, no rest. Let us frankly say that the young generation demands an increase in ideological work from us. A section of the people is disoriented on some issues. Perhaps this is not their fault, but rather their misfortune. We are going through a period when such phenomena can be called operating costs [izderzhki], if you like. Such operating costs are unavoidable. They must be corrected. In the cinema and the press there are phenomena which should not be present. They are particularly undesirable from the point of view of their influence on the young, adolescent generation.
I will end by saying that the ideological sector is one of the most important.
I consider it correct that the creation of a division on party construction and cadre policy is proposed. The issue of national policy is also correctly put. The events of the recent past confirm this.
GORBACHEV. In the memoranda sent to me by the comrades, the desire was expressed that inter-ethnic [mezhnatsional’nye] problems be transferred to the ideological division. But I consider that these problems must be looked over in detain in the division for party building and cadre policy. This division involves [vykhodit na] the entire party and ensures party influence, and is connected with the cadres and with all of the republics. Especially here this issue should be present, in order that it not grow into a problem of a purely philosophical character. Of course, all of the divisions will take part in work on the inter-ethnic problem. Including as well the ideological division and that section which touches on issues of an ideological and theoretical sort. But on the whole the organizational division should take the lead on this problem.
GROMYKO. If we had examined the national problems a couple of years ago, I think that I would have admitted the feasibility of drowning them in ideological tasks. But the events of the recent past show that a different approach is needed here. Great responsibility and great drive are needed. I consider that the CC apparatus should have a relevant subdivision in the staff of the party building division.
Perhaps this is immodest, but I will say that the resolution as to Nagorno Karabakh which was recently adopted in the Politburo and the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, where Mikhail Sergeevich spoke, played its role.
In my opinion, the task of organizing an Institute of political research and information has been correctly set. In the capitalist world, almost all countries, excluding the small ones who, practically speaking, do not have the resources or the ability to organize such an undertaking, have such institutes, and I would even say, a network of institutes. They engage in the study of public opinion. Capitalist states are not afraid to publish their assessments and conclusions, of course, which are acceptable to them. Of course, they are headed by people who are working for capitalism, not for socialism. Why have we still not yet organized this? Well, if you look into the past, it is not difficult to answer this question. We were afraid to hear the opinion of our own people. But today we have grown by a head. For this reason, its establishment will play an important role in carrying out our party’s ideological activity.
There are all the thoughts which I wanted to express. In no circumstances must we stray into a splitting of the apparatus according to the branch principle. I like the fact that this line is maintained in the memorandum. It must be carried through to the finish.
GORBACHEV. Good. Vitalii Ivanovich.
Keep in mind that many comrades have signed up to speak. For that reason I must ask you to pull together your thoughts. Brevity is the sister of talent.
VOROTNIKOV. I do not want to go into the details of this document. It is put forward strongly, in its arguments and its foundations. I wholly and fully support its proposals, although I want to say that of course, you don’t come to such a resolution right away. But having read it several times and weighed up the entire situation, you understand that today we have come to the point when such a resolution is dictated by the most acute necessity. As it is said, you cannot wait any more.
It seems to me that this process, which will it be necessary to carry out in the party, is the most complex and unstraightforward [neprostoi] of those which we have realized and are realizing now in the system of administration and in society. That is how great the force of inertia and how heavy the weight of the past are. We have become used to appealing to the party organs both in necessary and in unnecessary moments, and, as you know, to hiding behind the party’s authority. For that reason, it seems to me to be the most complicated matter, Mikhail Sergeevich, not only the reconstruction of the apparatus of the Central Committee and the local party organs, but also how we will be able to coordinate the work of the party committees with economic, Soviet, and social organizations, how we will be able to overcome this weight which has accumulated from the past. But there is no other way out here. Such an approach is necessary. But it seems to me that we must assure consistency in the realization of these transformations. If we divide off certain functions from the party organs and being to realize them, then the rest of our organizations and organs will be able to take this entire weight onto themselves. They are not yet ready for this - neither the trade unions, nor the Komsomol, nor the Soviets, nor the economic organs. Moreover, these issues have not yet been settled in a legal sense. We do not yet have the documents in which these functions could be clearly and concisely formulated. This is a far from simple matter. And here, I think, we will have to work out some sort of program of action, beyond the adoption of such a document, to be directed at transferring all of these functions from party to state and other organs in practice. People will realize this practice. For this reason, it is very important to strengthen the cadre.
And in the RFSFR, we must think about our apparatus, although we have already carried out its reconstruction and reexamined the administrative system in the ministries, departments, Soviet ministries of the autonomous republics, and in the local organs. But the given situation demands that we again think over some issues, again and again think about how we can coordinate the work of the state organs and party committees. And I am particularly concerned that it not happen so that the party organs stop fulfilling certain functions while the local organs are not yet ready to take these functions onto themselves. To tell the truth, not all of the leaders of the state organs really want to take on responsibility. Of course, it is easier to work so that you can always hide behind the back of the party committee and not take responsibility for anything.
GORBACHEV. That confirms the thought contained in the memorandum that a renewal of the apparatus is needed. Different people should enter it.
VOROTNIKOV. That is just what I want to say. Not only a renewal of the cadres in the party apparatus is needed, but so is a strengthening of the cadres in the Soviet and economic organs so that that these cadres be ready not only to accept the responsibility connected with them [i.e. the administrative organs], but also to be inspired with new working methods. That is a very important circumstance.
As for the structures, of course, everything will depend on how we assign the functions. Here we were talking about the defense, ideological, and other divisions. But I would like to emphasize the importance of the division of economic and social policy alongside the division for organizational-party work. A very high degree of responsibility must be placed on this division since an examination of the issues of economic policy and of the priorities [set to] avoid the waste of capital investment will be taking place here, all of which constitutes a mass of decisions and multiple operational assignments, etc. There are mistakes which, it must be said directly, we commit even when carrying out our new policy: hidden price rises, multiple supplementary resolutions which we put out, the same GPO, and so on. Mikhail Sergeevich, a mass of problems are arising connected with the cooperatives. What’s more, of a positive as well as of a negative character. We need for these cooperatives to become a support which would be useful to the state, but at the same time would not harm the formation of public opinion. And there are already more than a few of such cases.
For this reason, the functions of the economic division should be to see to the development of proposals for the formation of such a policy in coordination with social issues. I agree that economics should not be cut off from the social sphere.
The most important point is how to realize this in practice, how to move through this turning point without costs or losses.
YAKOVLEV. In Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum, those measures which are connected with a major change in the party are founded in a fairly detailed and closely argued manner. In fact, what is at issue as I understand it is not only the reorganization of the party apparatus - that to a significant degree can be called the external face of the matter - as it is a fundamental, revolutionary change in the functions of authority. And this is the constituent portion on the issues which we are discussing today, the constituent portion of the general problems which are arising today in our country.
As you know, in 1985 the party took back the initiative over stagnating-elemental processes, and, it is my deep conviction, is firmly maintaining this initiative, organizing the struggle for the future but also feeling the very serious pressure of the past. As the experience of the past three years illustrates, this past, in a concentrated conception of it, still maintains many positions insofar as obsolete political structures of authority have still been preserved.
Thus, the time has come to make a logical transition from a period of liberating consciousness to the liberation of the political initiative of the people, of the masses. Socially and on the level of consciousness, I believe, preparations have been made for this transition in the country insofar as the political-ideological situation as a whole permits the realization of the measures proposed in the memorandum.
The experience of world socialism, although it is much shorter, shows that internal crises have arisen in countries when and where obsolescence has won out in ruling parties and the necessity of constant renewal has been ignored. The years of stagnation have provided us with, in their own way, a priceless experience. They have shown and proven the scale of the threat to socialism which results from the possibility of the party’s turning into a defender of the status-quo.
There can be only one conclusion and it, in fact, has been made in the General Secretary’s memorandum, that the party simply must respond to the stimuli toward renewal and development which follow from life; it must effectively lead these very important processes. In this way, we are entering an epoch of designed new social structure in society. For ages now, two tendencies, in fact, have struggled for control over society, and socialism, it would seem, has inherited these tendencies. One tendency is toward self-government by the people, to the people’s power, and the other is toward authoritarian methods of government.
Here in the memorandum, the question arises: in what way can this contradiction in social development be resolved so that democratic and self-governmental methods win out[?] It is here, in fact, it seems to me, that the crux of the entire issue lies. But all of this, of course, will be far from simple. I agree that the process which we are facing is very complex. In recent years, we have confronted a serious test in the political sphere and, evidently, we, and, one could say as well, both the party and society, face these changes because of their essential nature, [choices] about paths and possible outcomes.
At issue is not only the necessity of re-thinking the role and the place of the party in society. The way to an optimal realization of the concept of the political vanguard must be found. But at this point it is especially important, and here I agree with what Nikolai Ivanovich said, to make a transition, without harm to society’s development, to a point where the state executive administrative power, having gained control of the situation, finds and senses its role and responsibility in society. I think that now we must apply ourselves to the matter very seriously on all fronts - political, ideological, informational, and others. This is far from simple, and evidently will require time in order to work out new inter-relations between the mechanisms of the people’s authority and the executive and political apparatuses. Moreover, we, and this we all understand, have had no genuinely new experience, either of a theoretical or practical nature, with these three constituent structures. But there can be no such thing if we do not take the decisive route proposed in the Memorandum.
The Bolsheviks had no such experience in 1917, but they, having taken power, did not leave the tsar for the sake of continuity. In the same way, we must turn away from the system which was in essence imposed on society and on the party after Lenin. Such a turn is not only present in the act which we are discussing today. It must be taken in the context of the ongoing evaluations and elections, elections to the Congress of People’s Deputies, the formation of the organs of higher authority and, finally, the formation of Soviet power in the provinces. Only then will a certain completion in the upward building be attained, and only then will it begin working with in a clearly automatic way. While having, naturally, a spring and guiding force like the party.
From Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum, it follows that the essence of the reconstruction of the apparatus is in a resort to a structure and procedure for work which would insure the party against recurrences of the past and would ensure the preservation and strengthening of the party’s role in society through the insured and constant development of society itself.
As is known, history confirms the Marxist lesson that development is a form of existence for society, and all systems of power which obstruct it to further the interests of any class or group of course have all suffered defeat. If we do not take the path was indicated in April and here, now, we will suffer defeat.
Of course, we are facing a difficult year, but we must not halt. Any other way is simply not our fate. Of course, may issues will arise. Costs will be paid. All of this requires restraint, nerves, and patience. It is also true that the political leadership now is taking a great collective responsibility onto itself. But I personally believe and am sure that our path has been correctly chosen.
What seems very important now, in meditating on the memoranda we are examining, and first and foremost on the first memorandum[?] Now we must concentrate the full force of our political and ideological influence in order to elevate civil society [obshchestvennost’] to the role of local power. This in the transitional period. In order that people get used to relying on themselves, in order that dependence be destroyed, which Egor Kuz’mich spoke about here, in order that democratic thinking and the principles of openness go deep, in order that the executive authority itself sharply increase the turnover in its activity. Maybe even in the upcoming meeting, Mikhail Sergeevich, of the local Soviets should be devoted to this issue, in order to discuss with people what is actually happening in connection with the fact that the party is transferring a series of functions to the administrative apparatus and to the authority of the Soviets.
The second issue, and here I agree with the judgments of my comrades, which can even be one of the core [issues], is this issue of functions. It is correct that if we transform the apparatus and lend it a different structure but its functions and psychology remain the same, little will change in the country, although we will have achieved something on the reorganizational side of the matter. This touches on not only the defense division or the division of agrarian policy as divisions of the transitional period, but also all of the other divisions in equal measure. That is, in the end social issues, economic issues, ideological issue, the mass media, culture, and science will remain with us. If the functions of the divisions are not re-examined and same sort of cast of the general command administrative system remains, little will have changed here. And here, much depends on us ourselves, all of us who are present here, especially the secretaries of the CC, the leaders of the Council of Ministers and so on.
Third. Possibly, Mikhail Sergeevich, we must think over an issue of procedure in order that that local newspapers now also change their structure. After all, at present, they are organs of three institutions - the party, the executive committees, and the Soviets. I think that [since we are] already in a new stage, this is wrong. Personally, my own opinion comes down to the idea that the mass media must remain with the party. They would constitute a powerful lever, and would also play the role of a good helper to an opponent, if you like, of administrative power. I think that under these conditions, the mass media will better answer to the demands of the time and the demands of reconstruction itself.
Lastly. In the context of the reconstruction of the apparatus, of course, the issues of the renewal of the party’s theoretical and ideological activity are raised even more acutely. The party began reconstruction, but in practice, the process in this regard is proceeding, not without difficulty, I would say, but, more accurately, with difficulty. There are many reasons for this, and this is not the place to analyze them. But one of them is the lack of a theory, an ideology, which can go ahead of practice. For this reason, I greatly support the proposal set out in the memorandum on the creation of subdivisions of the Institute for political research, a scientific center which would truly, possessing a very modest apparatus, resolve a coordinating role of this sort of political research which would directly work for the party’s policy in all directions, whether it be on internal or international issues.
On the whole, I once again repeat, I fully support what is set out in the memorandum, and consider it necessary to say just one thing. All of these measures must be implemented as quickly as possible in order that this period of swings, of discussions, doubts, conjectures, and so on and so on, that in general is unavoidable in such cases, be reduced to a minimum. Then the work with the new mechanisms of course will also proceed faster.
ZAIKOV. Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum reflects today’s demands of the Central Committee apparatus. They answer to the present-day tasks of reconstruction, to the ideas of the 21st All-Union party conference. I, too, closely studied these issues. I consulted with the Moscow city committee of the party on a series of points and fully support the ideas of the memorandum, and we deem it necessary to realize these revolutionary resolutions in practice. It is characteristic that we begin reconstruction in this sphere with the party’s Central Committee. This is what the party committees expect. It will have to be carried out carefully and very quickly. As it says in the memorandum, this cannot be dragged out. We still have evaluative-election gatherings going on, and many different issues are cropping up.
When defining the functions of the Central Committee’s divisions, of course, they must be clearly demarcated from the functions of the Council of Ministers as an executive-mangerial organ, and, importantly, [from the functions of] the Supreme Soviet. This will also be reflected in the structures lower down. When we begin to approach the allocation of these functions in the localities, we see that it requires decisions from higher up for guidance. I spoke with many comrades in the localities. They expect exactly these sorts of decisions on the concrete allocation of these functions.
As for the [administrative] divisions, I do not doubt that there should be a division for economic and social policy. But it is also correct that there cannot be an economy without scientific-technical progress. The issues of STP [scientific-technical progress] should be in this division. Then it will be a unitary complex. Here there is no question. The function of this division should be conceptual work. In no case should it have branch subdivisions. Otherwise, we will only be renaming the division, and in actuality everything will remain the same as before. Then the branch structure will also carry on downwards [poidet i vniz]. That is the main issue.
Nikolai Ivanovich stated his concern that many directives are being issued. Yes, many are, but they are necessary. Because there should be a comprehensive approach. The party must define policy. Take, for instance, Moscow itself. Its problems bound up with those of all of the republics. How, for instance, can one complete a fruit and vegetable production complex? Two and a half million tons of such produce goes to Moscow from across the entire country. We are turning somersaults over this problem just as much as ever. And why? Because we have all bad people here? No! Even good people cannot cope. We replaced a lot of people, new ones came, and also cannot cope. The CC division also cannot cope. Comrade Nikonov and I sit [i.e. work] every evening, and nothing works for us either. Why? Because there is no system! The technological process which you, Mikhail Sergeevich, constantly talk about, has been disrupted. When there is such a system, then this conveyor will work. But so far it happens like this: to one, you. That is the sort of pandemonium that is taking place.
Moscow and the Moscow district [oblast’]: there is no area under cultivation, and no harvest turnover, sent to Moscow. Either we do as follows: we hand over everything to Moscow, having fulfilled the plan, and then ship it all back out of Moscow to the district [oblast’]. Who needs that? Does a policy need to be worked out on this issue? I believe that it does.
Or a resolution is adopted on health. And for Moscow? For Moscow, a separate resolution absolutely must be made. Because people come here from all across the Union, and even foreigners do. Must this be taken into account? It must.
And theaters? At present there are 40 thousand seats in them. Twice in a century, the level of their supply to the populace has been reduced. Sixty thousand places are needed. This means that their number must be increased by 50%.
And so it goes for anything you try! For this reason, if we do not make decisions here on these complexes, then everything will be farmed out, excuse me, to Gosplan. And there, it goes: you get what you wring out, and you don’t get what you don’t wring out. Whoever dares, eats. For this reason, these issues must somehow be worked through.
We have begun to transfer (and I have already reported to you about this, Mikhail Sergeevich) some of the functions to the regions. It is not possible to bring everything to the executive committee of the Moscow soviet in a city like Moscow. The region cannot decide anything. The regions supported such an approach. But when we began to hand over rights to them, it turned out that they did not want them. They felt the responsibility. And so here, probably, a lot of work will need to be done with the cadres.
We are moving onto a self-financing [khozraschet] basis. Why do we trust the director of a factory; why do we trust unification[?] And why, for instance, do the city and the regions which are ready for it not move entirely onto a self-financing basis so that they begin to economize with money? But they say, give us a bit more from the budget. And in order that the base be a bit larger (they are looking at last year, after all), they try to squeeze a bit more out of the government. All of this still remains! We must move forward. For this reason, these mechanisms must be linked.
I thought about the division for defense industry for a long time. Probably such a division is necessary. For how long is another question. It is true that we have a Defense Council, and military-political problems are worked out there. But when the Defense Council’s decisions are implemented, they absolutely must be monitored. Because there is colossal waste. Here there should be party control all the time. And then - who will carry out the policies worked out in the Defense Council, whose chairman is the General Secretary, and in the party’s Central Committee[?] It is another issue that the functions must be looked at. But there should be qualified monitoring that is independent of everything.
There are specialists and doctors of science in the division. They look at the dependence of certain weapons on others, and so on. This is important.
In the party committees of large regions, in particular in Moscow and Leningrad, such a division is needed. All in all for this, 110 people throughout the entire country will be necessary for this. And secrecy in this matter should not be forgotten. The more people are connected with this, the more losses there will be. At one time, a single MiG-25 airplane was stolen from us. The loss came to a billion rubles. So we can economize on a ruble, and lose billions. These matters must be observed all the time. Who must? Party committees. Should these matters be handed over to the executive committees? I don’t know.
As for the division of agrarian policy, there should be one, but, of course, as a division of agrarian policy.
On the whole, I fully support the proposals set out in the memorandum and consider that we should start to introduce them as quickly as possible.
SHEVARDNADZE. I see Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum as an important stage in realizing the resolutions of the 21st party conference. It is very important that we begin the reform of the political system specifically with the Central Committee of the party, with its party apparatus. The deformations began because the party was given functions that were alien to it. That affected both the Politburo and the Secretariat, and the apparatus of the Central Committee of the CPSU, as well as the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the union republics.
I understand that now it is not so easy to renounce the right to command, dictate, and give orders. It is not easy to delegate the instruments of power to the Soviets, the commissions, and the judicial organs. People grew up under different conditions.
But this will lent a new quality to the party. It is true that the party stopped dealing with policy, including domestic and, to a significant degree, foreign policy. It is from here that there were serious miscalculations and mistakes both in our domestic affairs as well as in foreign policy. I believe, for example, that if all of the democratic institutes had been working, the Afghan tragedy which, as you know, has been very costly to us, would not have happened. We did not take not of the deep-seated processes taking place in our society.
GORBACHEV. It is unpleasant to hear you say that the party did not engage in policy. It would seem that this must be rejected right away on principle: who then dealt with policy? And yet, if one were to think about it... My experience in the Politburo (some have had more, some less) and in the Secretariat show that it is true that to a significant degree, the Politburo rubber-stamped the proposals of the departments in different fields of domestic and foreign policy. And the consideration of policy, the deep working-through of issues is what the party must engage in; there really was too little of this. After all, the departments “saddled” the Politburo and the CC, and we rubber-stamped whatever they produced. And as for what the Council of Ministers introduced in the Politburo, the matter went as far as what comrade Tikhonov did not allow: the changing of a comma in these proposals. Those who made additions to these proposals ended up in the camp of his sworn and eternal enemies, as if they did not understand the role of the Council of Ministers.
This is why when you hear this, you think: what is Shevardnadze talking about? But, generally speaking, we in the Politburo, in the Secretariat, and even at the Plenums of the CC, rubber-stamped what was put in front of us by the departments, beginning from Gosplan and lower down.
SHEVARDNADZE. That is completely correct: not only the departments, but also individuals.
GORBACHEV. And how some comrades threw fits [kapriznichali] when someone suddenly introduced his own proposal. In the Politburo, you could still say something to another member of the Politburo, but if someone raised an issue in the Secretariat, then quickly, before the Secretariat even ended, the protagonist [glavnoe deistvuiushchee litso] found out about it, because even if he himself were not there at the Secretariat, his representatives were. And as soon as you get out of the meeting of the Secretariat, they take you by the throat: how could you, how could you[!] You weren’t even allowed to discuss the issue.
SHEVARDNADZE. Some of the processes which are taking place in our society are cause for alarm. But often we do not know a lot, because they [i.e. the processes] have not been studied scientifically. Take those same processes of ethnic inter-relations, of national policy.
For 15-20 years, there have been discussions about the need to study public opinion. Thank the Lord, that now that issue has been resolved firmly and clearly. In particular, the party, the Central Committee, must deal with this. These processes, Mikhail Sergeevich, demand the serious attention of the party.
At present, public opinion is seething over the issue of the forms of the struggle with alcoholism. All of this requires study and serious examination. We must speak the truth, be it good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. A different approach is needed, an entirely different one. So far, everything proceeds according to the system of administrative methods. This must not be We must act according to a different plan.
One can also ask the following question: how could it be that we let slip the social sphere, if we were seriously dealing with policy? It was good that these questions were asked at the Congress. Now something honest and correct has been said about them with all acuteness and all principle.
I am worried by this question. Dukakis stated: let us take an interest in [zaimemsiia] the way in which social rights are realized in socialist countries; let us help the working class and the simple people of the socialist countries overcome these difficulties, and so on. That is, the West is broadening the issue of the rights of the person and are also raising social problems. They are trying to use these problems as ammunition for themselves.
I think that at present it is very important to define our priorities, define what the party, the Central Committee, and the corresponding apparatus of the Central Committee should be dealing with.
For a long time, Mikhail Sergeevich, I have thought about whether this would lead to a weaking of the role and the influence of the party? This worries each of us...
GORBACHEV. It should increase its influence. At present, we are floundering around in operative-economic issues; we are being led along by the departments, which throw their memoranda at us. This diverts us from fundamental political issues. But much will also depend on how we manage the matter. Under the old structure, there was a weakening of the party’s influence. The new one opens up the way to strengthening it. That is how it should be.
SHEVARDNADZE. In this regard there are no two opinions. In the memorandum it turns out that all of the basic levers remain in the hands of the party. This is a definition of policy in all fields in the broadest sense of the word, the whole of cadre policy, ideological policy, and so on. Here I have no questions.
There is still the following question. Without a doubt, it is impossible to live and work without the apparatus, But in the apparatus there are people who help resolve problems and there are also those who hinder. In the apparatus of many organizations, the circumstances are not very good. To a significant degree, it [i.e. the apparatus] is clogged. That must also be kept in mind. What is happening in the party and in society is also, in fact, being reflected in the apparatus. At present, good conditions are being formed for having truly good representatives of our society in the apparatus of the party and of the Central Committee, real party people, smart, moral, and ethically pure people.
GORBACHEV. Incidentally, when I mention pay in the memorandum, I have in mind that it be sufficient to have authoritative people in the regional and city committees. I am now talking about the apparatus. But this, without a doubt, relates to elective workers [vybornye rabotniki]. I do not simply want to register a secretary in the apparatus; after all, he is not an apparatus worker, but an elected leader.
SHEVARDNADZE. I support this. It is very important that the material issues be resolved solidly and seriously, and for those comrades who remain and who enter the party’s Central Committee apparatus from the local party organizations, and for those who leave. That is a very wise and intelligent decision.
What will happen after the branch divisions stop functioning? I do not believe that any particular tragedy will result. The party will carry out its policy through communists working in the state and other organs.
GORBACHEV. One can ask this of each one, and if it is necessary, demand a testimonial [postavit’ vopros ob otzyve].
SHEVARDNADZE. Without a doubt.
GORBACHEV. But resolve it democratically.
SHEVARDNADZE. It is correct that the division will be called the division of party building and cadre policy. That is very important. Basic cadre problems should be concentrated in this division in particular. It is very correct that there will be subdivisions on inter-ethnic relations in this division. But in the republic organizations? Here there is an inconsistency, and a single harmonious system is needed.
I would like to say a few words relating to the defense division and to express solidarity with Nikolai Ivanovich’s opinion on this issue. I am present at the meetings of the Defense Council and I feel that something is lacking. I understand that the basic organ, of course, is the Ministry of defense, the General Staff, and so on. But there are major problems. We have let a lot slip in military construction recently, over the past decade, I would say. That is an issue of principle. Eveything that happens in the world, everything that happens in the area of engineering, technology, military construction and so on - these things must be followed, I think, by the defense division in particular, which is a mechanism, an organ, if you like, of the Defense Council. Whatever the General Staff does not notice or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or other ministries let slip should be in its field of vision. I think that this would be a not inconsiderable [ne plokhoi] help to achieving serious, radical reconstruction in this area.
In relation to the division for international policy. I unequivocally advocate that the present divisions be merged. That is, without a doubt, a correct proposal. At present, many inconveniences arise because these issues are spread out over three divisions. What is the shortcoming in their work, to speak frankly? There is a lot of parallelism at present. Aleksandr Nikolaevich correctly said that the delimitation of functions affects only branch divisions. There is much parallelism and doubling in connection with the existence of the three divisions. There are also elements of competition, who can outstrip whom, so to speak. In the given case, I do not have in mind the high level of workers. This is observed on another, lower, level.
There are, for instance, in the apparatus of the party’s Central Committee, comrades who perform essentially the same functions as employees in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. This is an unnecessary parallelism. It must be overcome.
Probably, this united division for international policy should have its own priorities. These are the preparation of conceptual foreign policy ideas, the preparation of drafts of foreign policy resolutions of principle for introduction to the Politburo of the Central Committee. Much has been done along the lines of Lev Nikolaevich Zaikov and Aleksandr Nikolaevich Yakovlev’s commissions. They are functioning effectively. But from the point of view of coordination, much has yet to be worked out. It seems to me that coordination should become the most important function of this division. Here, rather serious difficulties arise, and such a powerful merged division, without a doubt, will help to resolve these difficult issues.
I am not claiming to enumerate all of the basic problems which the division should deal with, but I would like to point out ones such as the global problems of the international communist movement, and the development of all modern, progressive forces. We have spoken about this more than once. There are many such phenomena which demand serious scientific comprehension. In this regard, a united International Division will be a great help to the Politburo of the Central Committee.
And, in conclusion, one more issue. The definition of the functions of the Central Committee’s divisions must not be delayed. In connection with this, issues arise in connection with the procedure for the way the Council of Ministers, the Supreme Soviet, and the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet and his apparatus examine affairs. It would be desirable not to put this off very much, in order that there not be centers working in parallel.
I believe that the issue being examined today is of principled import, and has historical significance. I fully support the ideas and thoughts stated in Mikhail Sergeevich’s memorandum.
DOLGIKH. Mikhail Sergeevich, I know that the many years of practice in the past have an influence on us. For this reason, drawing up the structure of the future apparatus is far from simple. As I understand it, Mikhail Sergeevich was faced with a very complicated task in this regard. It could have been resolved only from the position of the high leadership. I believe, Mikhail Sergeevich, that you have introduced fundamental and very deep proposals. It is the very best that can and must now be done. I wholly and fully support these proposals.
Of course, so far, the concrete fields of work of the commissions which will involve the members of the CC, etc., is not at issue. This issue is illuminated in principle. But the apparatus of the Central Committee is at issue. And in this connection I would like to dwell on two or three points.
Mikhail Sergeevich, I consider that the proposal relating to a single division for economic and social policy looks preferable to these two fields (economic and social) in two divisions. At first I had the following thought: considering the colossal scale of these fields, perhaps they should be dealt with by special divisions, having in mind that the economic division would concentrate on essentially economic issues. But, having thought seriously about your arguments, I came to the conviction that the proposed option is the only right one in the given case. But it should be constructed only on an ideological basis.
GORBACHEV. So that it not be a super-division.
DOLGIKH. Of course. If we had constructed it on the principle of influencing certain sectors, that would, without a doubt, been only a worsening of the structure. For this reason, the ideological construction of the division is of huge significance. So in this connection, I consider it necessary, as Nikolai Ivanovich and other comrades have said, to define the function of the agriculture, defense, and other divisions in the near future. The formation of their staff of cadres depends on this. This deserves the most serious treatment.
As for the defense division, I consider that it should help the Politburo and the Defense Council to work out policy. In this regard, I am more inclined to the thoughts expressed by Nikolai Ivanovich here.
It is important to have a clear idea of responsibility for the realization of the policy of reconstruction. Without a doubt, there will be costs, and this must be reckoned with. Reconstruction is ever more occupying people’s minds. They are already thinking about our life in a different way. It is impossible even to ask the question: is reconstruction needed? The party conference illustrated this. I think that this question was not even in the thoughts of anyone. Where are the hazards? There can be distortions from this or that side. They can attack [udariat’ po], so to speak, reconstruction. For this reason, it is important to see which tendencies can lead to this or that evolution of events. How will they influence reconstruction? Influence must be exerted over these tendencies. Take, let’s say, the problem of the environment. That we must resolve this task perhaps on a scale two, three, or ten times larger, is beyond all doubt. To do as much in this respect as the state has the means [to do]. Demands for observing the demands of the environment should be increased. The Central Committee and the government are taking the relevant organizational and other measures. But at present, some trends are developing which, in my view, pose a certain danger. So look, let’s say, at our energy problems. Here, for instance, comrade Shipunov is speaking out and putting forward data that are inconsistent with reality about the fact that allegedly 100 million hectares of agricultural land were flooded during the construction of a hydro-electric power station.
GORBACHEV. That is in the “Economic newspaper?”
DOLGIKH. No, on the television.
GORBACHEV. I instructed the chairman of the Committee.
DOLGIKH. That is another author.
The issue is that these issues are beginning to influence our practical affairs. And access to the mass media is closed to materials of another sort. This must be corrected.
GORBACHEV. The other day, some comrades and I examined the issue of prices. They say that they sent many newspapers articles on price formation, including Pavlov’s deputy, [who] sent an article to “Pravda,” they refused to publish them. That is interesting. And, after all, we are saying that problems must be discussed and clarified. I asked Pavlov to present the list of where they sent their articles. In all, eight or 10 newspapers are not publishing them.
LIGACHEV. Yesterday I wrote to the editors telling them to report on that to the CC.
GORBACHEV. Now I am waiting for a letter from Pavlov. He is supposed to give me a list of those newspapers.
RYZHKOV. Do you remember the story with the hydraulic extraction process for coal? In two months, “Pravda” came out with articles on this theme. You instructed us to sort it out. We called in comrades from the provinces, specialists who supported both points of view. It turned out that three articles of a single sort were published, while 7 articles were gathering dust, among them a statement by a Hero of Socialist Labor, of Gvozdev’s famous brigade, and other people who knew the problem.
GORBACHEV. The principle starting point is clear - everything must be done in order to put environmental problems to the fore alongside effectiveness when carrying out investment poliy. Because we have gone to far with the environment. Because of this, life is impossible in over a hundred cities. The problems which have accumulated must be resolved. But that does not mean that we must end discussing, searching, and studying problems. We must not be afraid of problems; we must study and understand them, and, where necessary, remedy the situation. But nonetheless, this does not mean that we must cut short the economic life of the country.
DOLGIKH. That is what we are talking about.
LIGACHEV. The other day in the Secretariat, a draft law on the press was being discussed. The addresses by many editors showed that they do not need this law at all, although earlier they demanded that its adoption be speeded up. One comrade even stated that such a law should be adopted only after we construct a lawful state.
GORBACHEV. Let them publish, but publish the truth. For untruths, [they must] answer, even as far as through legal prosecution.
LIGACHEV. They said that the courts had begun cases against them; one said that seven cases had been begun, another, eight cases.
GORBACHEV. You must publish the truth - that is all. It is a very simple demand. It relates to the press, to party workers, to government workers, to deputies, and to [daily] life - to one another. It is a simple human principle.
YAKOVLEV. Even a universal human principle.
DOLGIKH. Both sides must be objective. This principle must be maintained. Otherwise, Mikhail Sergeevich, complications arise which could have an impact on our practical work.
And finally: the said [proposals] should be realized in practice as quickly as possible.
GORBACHEV. I will introduce a proposal on that count later.
Oleg Dmitrevich, please [speak].
BAKLANOV. In the memorandum it is concretely show how these issues must be resolved. We consider their statement to be correct. We must act energetically in this regard.
I would like to dwell on two issues, first and foremost on the organization of the defense division. I understand that we must take a broader view of the issues touching on defense problems in connection with the activity of the Defense Council. We must move away from duplication [dublirovanie] on issues with the military-industrial commission and deal with general issues, insofar as military technique [tekhnika] is connected with policy.
GORBACHEV. And monitoring over how the decisions of the Defense Council and the Politburo are realized. This, and not only the military-industrial commission, must be looked at.
BAKLANOV. That is clear, Mikhail Sergeevich.
GORBACHEV. Ideology must be changed. Why do we need two military-industrial commissions? I wrote: the division of defense industry. A different name did not enter my head. It seems to me that calling it defense policy is too strong, as if a second or third Politburo is being formed. And as for mutual relations, in the memorandum, I said approximately the following: “not to step on the feet of the “Council of People’s Commissars” [sovnarkom]. We must not hinder one another from working; let each work on his own business. This must be realized in the structure: first, to define the functions, and under them, the relevant structure. This will open up the possibility of correctly defining their functions, including the concept of them as it is taking shape for us now. Structure is subordinate to function. This allows intellectually strong cadre to be drawn into the staff of the central apparatus and the staff of the Central Committee, and that is our task.
BAKLANOV. Mikhail Sergeevich, in the work sessions we are conducting we are operating from those assumptions.
GORBACHEV. For now, we should not be talking about the internal structure of the division. That is the next step. Let us make decisions on the level of principle, and then we will move further.
BAKLANOV. Mikhail Sergeevich, the question arises, and it has been touched on by Leb Nikolaevich, of what line we are going to take in the localities. I will say for the record that at present, 250 people are working along this line in the localities.
GORBACHEV. That is the next question.
BAKLANOV. I understand.
Then I will end on the first issue. You said that we must conduct appropriate cuts in the staff and select cadres, having preserved the existing pay fund. That will allow us the possibility of selecting cadres.
GORBACHEV. I did not say that the whole pay fund should be kept. Probably, there will be too much fat. The party and the people should gain something.
BAKLANOV. In order to attract people who have experience with party work, highly qualified specialists into the division.
GORBACHEV. Take fewer.
BAKLANOV. The main essence of the issue is that we must take into account everything that has been said here in the Politburo, and the name, I think, we will be able to fix in the course of our routine work [v rabochem poriadke].
LUK’IANOV. First and foremost, I want to say that the conclusions in the memorandum are entirely correct. This issue has become urgent [nazrel], and perhaps has done so a long before we have begun to resolve it. It is absolutely crucial to resolve as a whole the problem of political power in this country. And, probably, we must approach it much more broadly, that is, look at the problem of redefining power as a whole, the problem of managing [upravlenie] society, each element of this management. And if the party dispenses with some functions, it must be clearly defined to whom those functions will be transferred and in what form. This must be resolved now, because the resolution of this complicated problem can end up being non-complex. This is correctly discussed in the memorandum.
And, on the other hand, without a doubt, we cannot be talking about any weakening of the role of the party; we are talking about strengthening its role, about the development of its policies, the party’s organizational functions and its coordinating work, because, after all, only the party unites the social and stately organizations, and this belongs only to it .
I would like to say one other thing, Mikhail Sergeevich. It seems to me that it is very important that we are talking not so much about the apparatus as about strengthening the role of the Central Committee. The apparatus appears as a means of serving the CC, as its commission. This is very essential. If a major commission of the Central Committee is to be created, then thhis service apparatus headed by its director should work specifically on behalf of the Central Committee. Attention must be paid to this.
It is very important, in my opinion, that the issue of clearly assigning functions be raised. Take, for instance, something like the legislative function. If we are talking about the correspondence of the facts with reality, to a significant degree, legislative work has practically been transferred to the Central Committee of the party. Very many laws are worked to completion here, and those organs which were supposed to create the normative act did not bear responsibility for its quality. In a word, every time, they way that someone [else] amended the law, motioning toward Central Committee’s apparatus or to the Central Committee. And here, what should have been talked about was that the party, the Central Committee, its apparatus, should deal with legal policy - that is, choosing the direction for legislative regulation, and with defining the circle of issues which must be reflected in legislation. After all, it is not accidental that the day before yesterday in the Secretariat, newspaper editors stated the issue in such a way that they do not need a law on the press since it unties their hands and creates an opportunity for irresponsibility on a whole series of issues.
GORBACHEV. The lack of a law.
GORBACHEV. No, the lack of a law.
LUK’IANOV. That is how they raise...
GORBACHEV. You put it another way, that it unties... Well, all right, go on. We understood what you were talking about.
LUK’IANOV. It is very essential, Mikhail Sergeevich, how our laws are carried out. We did all of our basic work on the creation of a normative act, but we did not at all analyze how it actually worked. And here, policy and work with the cadres is also needed. I want once again to say that the level of the cadres is lower than the lowest benchmark both in their qualifications and in their habits. Here, a great reconstruction both of thinking and of approaches is necessary. Now in connection with the preparation of a law on changing the Constitution and on elections, we encountered a series of jurists who think according to traditions and the habits of the past. The specialists-jurists did not give us a single idea to put forward. This also must be very seriously resolved.
GORBACHEV. Criticism [kritiki]...
RYZHKOV. The drafts from the Ministry of Justice have to be radically reworked.
GORBACHEV. Incidentally, Nikolai Ivanovich, that is the lowest paid category of worker in the entire country.
LIGACHEV. Cultural enlightenment workers have lower pay.
GORBACHEV. We, if they were given a high rate of pay at present, they would not earn it.
LUK’IANOV. And finally, Mikhail Sergeevich, I want to say something about the issues which have been raised here - military and defense [issues], which the Central Committee must resolve. Many comrades have spoken about this here.
In different countries, these issues are resolved differently. We have analyzed this problem in detail. There are the military divisions of the Central Committee (separate from the defense industry), there are defense divisions, there are state-legal divisions which also deal with defense, and with law, that is, this issue is resolved in different ways. Here, probably, we should proceed from the Central Committee’s functions themselves. I looked at the directed of the Central Committee of the party from December, 1918. Look at what is said about the policy of the war department: “In view of the fact that in some of the ranks of the party, an opinion is being disseminated to the effect that the policy of the war department is a product of the personal views of certain comrades or a certain group, and moreover these sorts of statements are penetrating as far as the pages of the party press, the Central Committee RCP(b) considers it necessary to affirm in the most categorical way that the policy of the war department, as well as of all the other departments and establishments, is conducted on the precise basis of general directives given out by the party in the name of its Central Committee and is under its direct control.” That is how the problem was dealt with under Lenin.
GORBACHEV. That should have put Trotsky in his place. For his whole life, they tried to put him in his place and did not manage to do so.
LUK’IANOV. For this reason, looking at the issue of how the problem of defense functions are being resolved, it seems to me that one must add the following (aside from the problems of defense industry).
First, the party deals with the life of the Armed Forces and communists themselves, because the party and the CC are involved [vykhodiat na] with the GlavPUR [Main Political Directorate of the Soviet Army and Navy] and the political administration of border and internal troops. It deals with mobilization preparations, military-mobilization work and civil defense. Both local party organs and Soviet organs work on this. Here there are also all kinds of veterans’ movements and voluntary societies. Everything comes together in the party. This point must be taken into account.
And, of course, the cadres. Probably, my comrades know that of the CC nomenklatura, 3600 are military cadres. For this reason, here there is a very great volume of work aside from military-industrial issues. All of this, in the final analysis, involves the General Secretary as the Chairman of the Defense Council.
These questions, from my point of view, must be taken into account when defining the character of the division which will deal with this, and what it will be called is derivative. What is at issue first and foremost is its functions.
In conclusion, I want once again to mention a compound approach to the definition of functions. We need a very clear picture of the functions with a definition of who resolves what: this is the party; these are the Soviets, the commissions of the Supreme Soviets; these are the other state organs. Only such a picture will allow us to leave behind, first of all, parallelism, and on the other hand, will allow us finally, Mikhail Sergeevich, how to call to account the person who is responsible for this or that area.
SLIUN’KOV. The issue of radically changing the functions of the party organs has long since gathered urgency and it must be resolved. Truly, with each year, party organs have taken economic functions upon themselves more and more and have dealt with party-political work, organizational-party work and, most importantly, work with people, less and less.
You asked us to present proposals on this issue. It was not simple, [but rather] complex, for us to do so. It was even more complicated for you, when you received our proposals. And I want to say that I fully support the proposals which are put forward in your memorandum. I have advocated and now advocate that the fundamental changes and fundamental decisions are necessary. And for that reason I consider that there should not be a branch structure in the party’s Central Committee.
But difficult [neprostye] issues have arisen in connection with concrete conditions: how to approach the defense division, how to deal with the agricultural division, and how to approach the division of science or scientific-technical policy? And after long consideration, I have also come to be convinced that a separate division for scientific-technical policy should not be create, that these problems should be in the economic division. For this reason, I am in full agreement with your proposal an am deeply convinced that it is a correct proposal.
The issue of the divisions of defense industry and agrarian policy. Starting from the concrete conditions, I immediately became convinced that the division of defense industry should be left in the same form, while on the issue of agrarian policy, of course, I was convinced that we would not take a decision to eliminate it. But when I prepared some proposals on the basis of a principled approach - a fundamental change in functions - I introduced a proposal to you that this issue be given principled discussion here, in the Politburo. I fully agree with the idea that the division for agrarian policy should remain, since this problem is too complex and too important at present.
The issue of the economic division and social policy. I will also say that up until the very last minute before the document’s signing, I was deeply convinced that a single division was needed. Multiple meetings which we held have convinced me that a single division is needed. But then, at the last minute, we nonetheless returned to this issue. Taking into account the complexity and the scale of all of the work that will accumulate in the economic division when the branch divisions are eliminated, we also considered it possible to submit that issue to discussion. For that reason, I am in full agreement (not because I changed my opinion; it was deep and convinced. The fact that a single division for economic and social policy was discussed collectively many times) with the proposals and advice which are now circulating to the effect that the functions should be constructed on the principles of party policy, and not by oversight [kurirovanie] between governmental and branch organs. We proposed calling one sector the sector for the structural policy of permanent organs. But with this, we did not have in mind their oversight.
GORBACHEV. At some point a long time ago, we said that the division for social policy was at issue, that these problems were knocking at the door, and that such a division was probably necessary. You remember this.
SLIUN’KOV. We had such approaches. It was for this reason that we discussed them. But I am deeply convinced that the proposals which are contained in your memorandum today are correct and necessary.
The next issue is the issue of cadres and functions. We have many good cadres. And an absolute majority of them are able to carry out reconstruction. But, all the same, a tide of new forces is needed. We must take this into account when we are directly doing work on reorganizing the party apparatus. And, of course, we must define the functions of the divisions as fast as possible. For this, it is important to come out with a decision in the Politburo on the functions of the new divisions very soon. Probably, someone must be given such a directive.
As I understand it, we as secretaries today must consider that we are submitting a proposal to you for our resignation in order to give you the opportunity to introduce proposals on our concrete work, and afterward also on the work of our divisions. We must hurry to do all of this in connection with the elections and the [performance] reviews [otchety] in the party organs.
NIKONOV. The issue of the functions and structure of the party apparatus and the search for the most rational approaches to its resolution is in its own way becoming a bellwether for the extent to which our thinking has changed, for how it is changing in real life. In connection with this, Mikhail Sergeevich, I would like to touch on these issues. I am in full agreement with the logic of the arguments and with the conclusions which you made in your memorandum.
I want to say that historically it has turned out that the Agricultural division, like the Organizational division, in the Central Committee of the party, have been staffed with highly qualified people who as a rule devote every effort to their task. It performs many complex functions and obligations. But at the same time, unfortunately, it substitutes for very many people and takes upon itself many tasks which are not characteristic of it, issues of detailed elaboration and of organizing their implementation, and sometimes it goes into the territory of other organs which should resolve these issues. Aside from fulfilling its functional obligations, it serves as a school for preparing cadres for union organs, for the CC of the communist parties of the union republics and the party’s regional committees and district committees. Look, for instance, at how many generations of Secretaries have come and gone. Ninety percent of the them have come from this division. And furthermore, this debt to the division should not be passed over. Otherwise, where will you get the experience, where will you look at the country as a whole, where will you accumulate all of the best[?] And then, you have to have people to go to where you can sharpen your weapons. But the fact that at present we duplicate and substitute for a lot is indubitable.
GORBACHEV. You are exaggerating a bit. Now there will be different demands on the cadres - political ones. When the regions were headed by agronomists, builders, or engineers, then, of course, you were on top.
NIKONOV. Mikhail Sergeevich, I am saying how things really were and how the matter stands at present. And for the future - I wanted to talk about it, having linked this issue with where the present came from. That is what is of essence here.
When the year of the “great change” occurred, at the meeting of the agrarian-Marxists, Stalin broke a single link in the Leninist theses: land - person - personal interest - benefit to society. He removed personal interest from this chain. You know this very well. Then he said that the party cells must take all agricultural issues, including technology, relation to the land, seeds, etc., into their own hands. He enumerated everything. And from that point, we have practically added to this thesis, deepening it and moving it forwards in some respects. Who is “we?” Economic managers, Soviet or party workers? Here it is difficult to distinguish.
And now, from the point of view of further work, it seems to me that Anatolii Ivanovich has touched on an important issue for the formation of the apparatus, including the division of agrarian policy. Once it is recognized that it is still necessary at the given complex stage in the life of our society, then it must be assumed that it is the working apparatus of the commission selected by the CC CPSU. Twenty or 40 people will be in it. But this very contingent must take part in working out the global issues of agrarian policy. These people’s minds are irreplaceable, and they do not lack for experience. They can raise this or that issue. Then the democratization of party life will express itself in every aspect. In its own right, this work will be very significant and interesting.
For this reason, there should be very qualified, theoretically prepared people who are able to search [for solutions]. It is true that at present, we must regard the present apparatus from the point of view of partially using it.
Those are my wishes.
DOBRYNIN. The memorandum which we are discussing today is of great significance. I want only to touch upon its international part, since my comrades here have spoken competently on the remaining issues.
I wholly agree with the proposal in relation to the International division, although, Mikhail Sergeevich, I must acknowledge that on first reading, the question arose for me of whether the division would be too cumbersome. There are many issues. The problems connected with the capitalist and socialist countries are discussed on different planes at Politburo meetings. There is the communist movement, the workers’ movement, diplomacy. International relations such as these, and also the social movements which, aside from this division, no one deals with, are both unique. On those issues for which we have executive organs, we give instructions, and the division deals with the issues of the workers’ movement directly.
But, analyzing the work of the division over the past two years, I think that the proposal on unification is completely correct for the simple reason that international issues cannot be divided: the socialist system is one thing, the capitalist another, and state diplomacy is one thing, people’s diplomacy, another. They are indivisible. And although the divisions have very different structures, these issues must be kept in one pair of hands. For this reason, I advocate unification.
The most important thing that is now needed is to look over the structure in the division, starting from experience, based on your comments which touch at least on the work which has been done over the last two years. A clearer statement of the issues and tasks faced by the divisions is needed.
On my relationship with Vadim Andreevich. We have the very best of working relations, and on the high level, outstanding relations. And issue is resolved momentarily, and no competition arises. But there are elements of repetition, elements of redundancy. Issues arise relating to who will introduce proposals in this or that case. Either they prepare material for you, or we prepare it for you. These two materials then coincide. As I understand, assistants help to make them tally together. But there is a loss of time and effort at the same time when the work could be done jointly.
It seems to me that the international division should deal with more conceptual issues. Of course, one must keep up with everyday matters, since major issues come of everyday matters. And in various cases when Vadim Andreevich considers it necessary to react, he should make a report to the Politburo, and first and foremost to the General Secretary. That is, the present control over international events will continue. But, all the same, the most important thing is to put the major issues, those such as, for instance, Europe to 1992, disarmament in the broad scheme of things, and relations with the Americans in connection with the new stage - there will be a new president.
These major issues must be raised jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and put before the Central Committee and the General Secretary. Particularly the major issues.
In approximately the same way as was said about the military division, it would seem that the Interntional division also needs to deal with its own issues. Here there should be priorities, conceptions, principled work [razrabotki] on international affairs. By its essence, the division does not deal with theoretical work. This issue is complex, difficult, but it will need its own resolution, its own examination together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the application of the appropriate efforts. These issues, of course, demand that they be conceptualized and worked through.
It must said that, all the same, there now appears the potential for creating a definite foreign-policy mechanism: that is, the Central Committee, the General Secretary, the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet, the Commission on foreign affairs, which will be created by the Central Committee, the International division, will be united, plus the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The result is an entire chain of such foreign policy components. For this reason, we need their cooperation, a clearer distribution of functions between them, without their doubling one another, without substituting for one another. And the issue of administration is also an issue which must be thought over together with those comrades who are directly involved in order that they can be joined into a single, precise, working scheme. This relates both to the commissions and concrete issues. Many of do not work at all badly. Take, for instance, Aleksandr Nikolaevich’s commission. Here the role of the International division should be stated more precisely.
It seems to me that the International division could and should give great assistance on international issues directly to the General Secretary or to him as the Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Experience shows that, all the same, a small, coordinated group of advisers, assistants, consultants - this is clearer to him, of course - could help more actively, with better qualifications, and more efficaciously. This, evidently, is one of the tasks which must be kept in mind when working through this issue.
The last issue is about the international communist movement. You know the situation which presently exists in the international communist movement. It is fragmented. At the same time as our reconstruction, communist parties [elsewhere] are conducting their own searches. They turn to us for theoretical elaborations which would permit them to think through the problems of socialism from the point of view of the influence of international social life and the unification of the forces of such international movements as those of communists, workers, and social democrats. These issues require much work from the division. Many foreign representatives visit us. Over the last year, there we about two thousand such meetings. Both quotidian and confidential issues are discussed at them. The issues must be discussed at a round table.
Mikhail Sergeevich indicated the importance of resolving the issues of the international movement. Here there clearly are defects, mildly speaking. It is a great issue, one of the main lines of international politics working in favor of our reconstruction.
I fully agree that the issues of foreign-policy propaganda should also be transferred to this division. It obviously will work jointly with the ideological division, with the MID. The division should feel the beat of international life, direct the propaganda for our initiatives, expose defects, and direct counter-propaganda. It, as they say, knows the ropes [Emu i karty v ruki].
And the last issue - is work with the cadres. The division, it should be said frankly, is made up of fairly old staff, all with “long beards,” who have been there for a long time, and of whom far from all are drawn to reconstruction; and to hope that they will reconstruct themselves in the near future is a hopeless endeavor. So we must carefully look at the cadres, treating them will all respect, and resolve the issue with them fairly. Those who worked honestly should be given their due. The majority really did work honestly.
We must use the present reorganization to renew the cadres, to put forward people who can think on a greater scale.
Everything must be realized more quickly. It is no secret that conversations, rumors and gossip is now circulating throughout the entire party apparatus.
RAZUMOVSKII. I would like to emphasize that the principled approaches toward the reorganization of the CC CPSU apparatus which have been put forward in the memorandum reflect the opinion of the body of party activists, of the members of the CC CPSU, of the first secretaries who took part in the meetings with the General Secretary on the eve of the All-Union party conference. In general, the issue is not a new one. Our comrades say that it has long since gained urgency and demands resolution.
I agree that not only the structure, but more importantly, the functions of the new structural subdivisions of the Central Committee apparatus, the circle of which has practically been defined in the course of today’s conversation, should be changed. In essence, divisions should be created with principally new tasks, staffed by appropriately highly qualified workers, possessing a good political mental outlook and thinking. This very difficult task which must be resolved in all of the divisions of the CC. Here as well experience is needed. A certain deficit of competence is palpable when you take an intent look even at workers’ present-day performance of their duties in the context of today’s demands. In general, these should be people who are able, on the basis of scientific analysis, with the involvement of the most prominent specialists and party workers from the localities, using our very rich political and intellectual potential, to propose effective approaches to resolving the problems which are confronting us; to respond to many questions which Mikhail Sergeevich stipulated in his memorandum; to give us an answer as to why reconstruction is not proceeding as we would like it to; and not only to give us an answer, but to cooperate, to assist, to help this process, and to be responsible for the course of reconstruction.
In our opinion, the structure of the party apparatus being proposed in the memorandum is aimed at the necessary changes in the content and the forms of its activity. It seems to us that the name, the “division of party construction and cadre policy” has been very aptly found. It must be said that the organizational-party work - that is what all party organizations, local, primary and all the rest, are engaged in - and so party construction can be seen from a more broad perspective. For this reason, we completely support the renaming, and, as we understand it, a change in the very essence of this division’s activity should follow the renaming, all the more since it is being strengthened and is being endowed with new functions through the subdivision of cadre policy, [functions] which it will deal with in cooperation with the other divisions of the Central Committee of the party.
As for the issues of inter-ethnic relations, practice shows (although it is not extensive [since] the subdivision was formed not long ago in our division), that the center of gravity of these problems in part lies in the sphere of state-legal relations. The problems of state-ethnic organization, territories, boundaries, language, the development of autonomy and the federation, and of the political system, are coming to the fore. In general, a rather multi-faceted circle of issues is intersected by the problem of inter-ethnic relations in our country. For this reason, we have constantly to have contact with divisions of the ideological sphere, with other structural subdivisions of the CC apparatus, and first and foremost with those who deal with state-legal affairs. Today that is the division of administrative organs. For that reason, perhaps, to look at how we should deal with the subdivision of inter-ethnic relations. I agree with the proposals which have been introduced. But there still are such nuances. Perhaps, through the commission which we will create, somehow to tie together a series of structural subdivisions. That is too large a job. It must be done very frequently together, with common efforts. That is the first thought which occurred to me after several months of the subdivision’s existence.
Without a doubt, the proposal on the creation of a single ideological division is correctly introduced. The ideology of reconstruction has taken shape. It is an all-encompassing program for freeing society from deformations, but it must take root in the hearts and minds of all Soviet people. And not only of Soviets. And for this reason, ideology and science will have to be more closely tied with life and the processes really taking place in it. And, more precisely, it is necessary to maintain the ideological assurance of all of the processes of reconstruction on the appropriate level.
Formulating the ideology of society is a permanent, ongoing task which is always on the agenda of party organs and organizations.
There will not be branch subdivisions in the apparatus of the party. I support the proposal that the divisions - of economic and social policy, agrarian policy, and defense industry, should in no way resemble the branch divisions even in their internal structure.
Mikhail Sergeevich, I would like to introduce the following information: over the course of recent years, I think, over the last 17 years, the number of officials of the CC has doubled. And most often, this was done because of some kind of pressing problem [pod problemu], directive, or task. But the efforts to resolve it in that way, as a rule, were unsuccessful.
On the whole, I support the proposals put forward in the memorandum and believe that they should be realized, the sooner the better.
MEDVEDEV. Mikhail Sergeevich, I support the principled approaches set out in the memorandum on the issue under discussion. They fully flow from the theses of the party conference. I also agree with the concrete proposals which you have introduced on the reorganization of the central party apparatus.
I consider that rejecting of the branch division, strengthening the political divisions and changing their character, contents and methods of work is a vital necessity for political reform. Probably only this can ensure its further development in conjunction with the reorganization of the state apparatus, the apparatus of economic administration and so on, which our comrades have talked about here.
It seems to me that this is an important step on the way to a legally grounded state and society in which the party fulfills the role of the political vanguard while the administration of the country on state and economic issues is carried out in full on a legal, state basis.
It seems to me that in principle, the presence of four divisions - an organizational, social-economic, ideological, international, and here again a defense division, which we have talked about here in this broad capacity - this is what is necessary for the functioning of such a lawful socialist society which is directed by the party as a political vanguard.
It seems to me that three divisions - the organizational, social-economic, and ideological, must also be, so to speak, the structural scheme of the party apparatus in the localities in order that there be, so to speak, full docking [stykovka] and full unity in this area. For some period of time, the preservation of other subdivisions which have been talked about here will be needed as well.
I would like to support your idea about the creation of an institute for political studies and an informational center with the function of studying public opinion. This, it seems to me, is an extremely urgent demand in the current conditions, when a great turning-point in social relations is taking place and a review of the stereotypical view on various issues is taking place, when deep processes are taking place in economic and social life and need the party’s attention. But the party’s attention united with scientific study.
It seems to me that this is a successful form which can also permit the direction of our social-scientific potential for the resolution of those issues which today are the most pressing. That is also a successful idea insofar as it permits, it seems to me, and will permit and afford additional opportunity for the strengthening of the party’s influence on scientific and social processes, which is a pressing necessity.
Incidentally, our friends also talk about this. I recall vividly rather broad discussions with the comrades from the GDR, including with party workers and with leading teachers of social sciences. One gets the impression that (it was necessary to discuss and clarify this with them) with the leading, so to speak, theoreticians, that at the conference and in our entire work, the line prevailed, as they say, for a rebirth of pluralism and that the obligatory accent on fixing the party’s position on different issues was not being made. That is, of course, an incorrect conception. The party is keeping these processes in its hands. But it is a fact that its influence must be increased. And the situation which took shape in public opinion on this issue can serve as an example. It received an incorrect direction under the influence of a series of emotional statements, when a letter from an old pensioner who receives 70 rubles is published and she writes that how can this be; I now have difficulties buying meat and other groceries. And if prices are raised, what kind of situation will I end up in? Such comments and letters are published without any sort of explanation, without any sort of commentary. And this spoils the situation. And some scientists and publicists, these, so to speak, vehement supporters of reconstruction, begin to take an incorrect position under the influence of this public opinion.
GORBACHEV. The most astonishing metamorphosis occurred with Shmelev.
MEDVEDEV. It turns out that at the conference, the General secretary says one thing, and they say another. It would seem that these most fervent supporters of economic reform should first and foremost understand that without regulating price formation, nothing with the economic mechanism will work out for us.
But they are beginning to say that, well, here we must think, be restrained, weigh the circumstances, and must, so to speak, go against public opinion. More likely, they themselves are creating this public opinion and are creating it in an incorrect direction.
Other examples can also be brought up to illustrate the fact that an increase is needed in scientific influence on public opinion and the study of it in all of its, so to speak, concrete social manifestations.
GORBACHEV. And what do the Germans think? The resolutions which we have adopted, are they not a fixing of the party’s position?
MEDVEDEV. This is what had to be explained to them, Mikhail Sergeevich. They consider that there should be a party reaction to any statement in the press, there and then. I explained to them that this should not be, that we cannot act by shouting, that, so to speak, public opinion must evolve and emerge, and that the truth must be born through disputes and discussions. We will not renounce the fixing of the party line and it must be carried out; it is carried out through documents, through public statements, and so on. So I support this proposal; in my opinion, it is very correct.
Mikhail Sergeevich, it seems to me that... Well, perhaps that is not an issue for the present day, but perhaps such scientific cells should then be maintained not only in the Central Committee, but also under the Central Committees of the republic communist parties.
Now some thoughts on that order. I had the occasion to work in three divisions of the Central Committee at another time, and I would like to support...
GORBACHEV. What was the third division you worked in?
MEDVEDEV. Science, propaganda and agitation, and the CC division.
I think that the proposals on the divisions have been made correctly, but I fully agree with your thought that a fairly significant degree of autonomy should be preserved within the divisions. that is, to place reliable, good, sufficiently authoritative workers at the head of the subdivisions so that they can be relied upon in full measure to lead very important directions. This also applies to the International division of the CC, where there is a series of priorities, including the priority of relations with the fraternal parties of socialist countries. [These relations] have their own specific characteristics which do not resemble relations with the parties of the capitalist world. And, so to speak, they are not fully covered by the functions in the field of state relations with these countries. For that reason, so to speak, this field must be preserved as a special field, along with the others, of course.
Another point. This issues was not raised, but it seems to me that in future it would be advisble to operate on the basis that the secretary of the Central Committee of the party who leads the appropriate area, need not necessarily be the head of the division, that is to have a major figure as well, since only representative functions, as Anatolii Fedorovich commented, require this, not to mention the huge volume of work. And in the Central Committee, naturally, there should be such a, so to speak, well, corpus of cadres of a second echelon who could be relied upon at any minute.
And lastly. On the naming of the divisions. At first glance, it seems tempting to include mentions of this or that area of party policy in the naming of the divisions. This, in a way, emphasizes, so to speak, the political character of the Central Committee apparatus. But there are also other arguments which speak, perhaps, for thinking again about the names. Not to complicate them very much, but at the same time, not to introduce concepts of party policy into the names.
The apparatus is the apparatus. Nikolai Ivanovich and other comrades have spoken about this here. There will be commissions of the Central Committee under the leadership of the same secretaries or of other persons, however it is decided. That is where the policy will be worked out. And this policy is the prerogative of the Politburo and the Central Committee of the party. If the division is named the division for international policy, then intentionally or unintentionally, the name, so to speak, includes the thought that this division makes the CC’s international policy. Maybe we should think and, perhaps, take a simpler path, that is, speak about divisions: the organization, social-economic, ideological, and international [divisions], as it takes place in the practice of a series of countries, and the content and methods of their work, the structure, in this way, can be specified, in order that there not be a lack of clarity on this issue. I support the opinion of my comrades that the reorganization of the apparatus should not be delayed.
GORBACHEV. I want briefly to sum up the discussion of this issue. So, we agree with the proposals put forward in the memorandum. The issues which have been raised here relating to specifying functions and structure, and, perhaps, even the names of the divisions, I will not remove; they can be looked at again. We should take all of this as given in our further work. We have a single basis. We agree with such approaches. This is a very major change, and we must bring it about, based on the agreed principles. They have been approved by a party conference. Today at the Politburo they, I would say, received in-depth review and clarification. Comrades, I would connect the discussion of this memorandum on the apparatus’ reconstruction above all with what worries us, with hope the role of the party will be realized in the stage of reconstruction. On many counts, we have lost or are losing when we are late to conceptualize the processes of reconstruction, in foreseeing the basic directions of domestic and foreign policy and in assessing the processes taking place. And this is indispensable in order to see to what extent these processes correspond to the expectations which we have vested in our prognoses and views as to the future. And, naturally, this permits us to define practical steps and tactics, to introduce corrections, and to deepen the policy we are carrying out.
But the party is encumbered, and from inertia is carrying the weight of responsibility for all issues. So far, they are all resolved in the Politburo, the Secretariat, and the apparatus. So far, we are moving by dint of inertia, and there is no reason to be surprised at this, although they are trying to remind us of that through the press.
In resolutions and conversations things can be proclaimed, but time is required to realize them in practice. For instance, I can mentally imagine that I sit in a spaceship, fly to another galaxy and return in order to continue the discussion. My thoughts have flown that path in a moment, but I do not know how much time will be needed and what generation altogether will be able actually to do it. The same is true here: one can say a word, put forward an excellently thought-through idea, set it out and approve it deeply and with good arguments, but in order that this idea take shape in real life, one must go through certain stages. [The idea] must take possession of people’s consciousness, these people must correspondingly devote effort, and so on.
But some people at the stage of reconstruction show a certain impatience reminiscent of the morning situation on the toilet. Some statements reflect incontinence, excuse me for being coarse, rather than a politic tongue. When we see that in each newspaper the watchmen are sounding the alarm about reconstruction - that also says something. And after all, every idea, even the most deeply thought-through ideas - and I consider that the party conference adopted deep, thoroughly considered, robust documents - their realization must pass through certain stages, and they are very fundamental. They must be gone through.
Here is a single concrete issue, and look at how many it involves along with it. The same is true for each of the other directions. And so the party must work that much more here. And the longer the processes of reconstruction unfold, the greater will be the shortfall in working through these issues.
We have already, one could say, confronted the necessity of beginning preparations for the party congress. We will work on what we have agreed upon, and we must already be thinking about what we will do further on. The party must be ready to reveal the way forward ever further for society. And to carry out the colossal work of summing up this extraordinarily important period between the 27th and 28th congresses. This is, after all, the period of a very major historical change with all of its achievements and failures, acquisitions and new problems. And this demands colossal theoretical work. This defines the role of the party. No one will replace it. There is no organ that could. And he who tries to encroach on the party’s role is an adventurist, an irresponsible person.
And everything that we plan to do to reorganize the party apparatus is directed at the party’s being better able to fulfill this role, to reveal the way ahead to society. For that reason, reorganization, without a doubt, is necessary. But this reconstruction of the party apparatus must be based on a compound approach. We must think about the assignment of powers, the assignment of invested powers between the party, the government, and the Supreme Soviet. All of this must be conceptualized.
Today we are deciding the question of the structure of the party apparatus based on the political theses of the Conference, the resolutions of the July Plenum of the CC. Tomorrow, this in one way or another will be apparent to the divisions and others. It should be said directly that the CC apparatus is being transformed right away. Those functions which it carried (at the very least, with all of its shortcomings, but it did real work, and carried concrete responsibility) must be taken up as soon as today by the Soviet organs, and first and foremost, the government.
I have already spoken about this with Nikolai Ivanovich. It is good that at each session, the Council of Ministers, in keeping with the discussion of drafts of future resolutions, plans, and conceptions, has begun, in monitoring procedure, to look at one of each of the programs - how it is realized, where there are delays or problems, what must be done, and so on.
The government must develop this function more and more, must fundamentally develop all of the huge executive work through constantly functioning organs, and so on. This pertains both to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR and to the departments.
Now as to the selection of cadres for the future apparatus of the CC. I must frankly say that, for all that, to a significant degree, the staff of the present apparatus will not last. Probably, a portion of it, a solid portion will go into the new CC apparatus, but a significant part, even if we wanted it, will not last through these issues. This means that we must now think about the position of these workers.
Incidentally, what will we call the workers in the apparatus? Now we have inspector, instructor, referee, consultant, etc. But what will we call them? Officials of the such-and-such division or something different? Instruct, inspect, consult, advise, refer - all of these are not right.
VOROTNIKOV. They were official organizers [otvetorganizatory]/
GORBACHEV. We must have a think.
We should think fundamentally about the issue of pay for the workers. It should be predetermined directly. This will also determine, comrades, the possibilities for selecting people. It is necessary to think of who from the party apparatus should be used in the government organs, in the Supreme Soviet, in the ministries, and in the party apparatus. As we did with com. Afonin. We have managers who are young, who were taken on recently, and who have shown themselves well. The Council of Ministers of Russia must be looked at. Vitalii Ivanovich, perhaps, has a hard time parting with anyone. But nevertheless let us put a little pressure on him in order to pour fresh blood in there.
VOROTNIKOV. [We] would have to part with advisors.
GORBACHEV. This can be done. People write and say: how is it that [chto zh the] the names which are all over the press are advising you, you remember, Baibakov and Tikhonov.
RYZHKOV. Incidentally, I am being criticized for that in letters.
GORBACHEV. As if they are really advising you, and you are using their advice as ammunition.
So such an approach is necessary. And it must not be put off.
Comrades, you remember that reorganization demands a corresponding arrangement of forces in the leadership as well. How will we arrange our forces? It seems to me that the necessity follows, in connection with this, of giving instructions to the General Secretary to prepare proposals on that count on the basis of consultations with the comrades. Our forces must be arranged and time must not be lost.
In connection with this, I think, we must adopt a decree in which, in accordance with principled assessments, such an order would be given. Perhaps it would be worth our sending this memorandum and with it a short resolution to the first secretaries of the CC, the regional committees [kraikomy], and the oblast’ committees [obkomy]? It is important that they know. There is no reason to set up the secrets of the Madrid gates here. Here there is nothing new of a principled nature, and they should think for themselves on the concrete issues.
We will adopt a brief resolution; it should not be blown up. We will work on the rest. You observed that in the memorandum I avoided those issues which must still be thought about.
But the line is clear to us. Agreed?
MEMBERS OF THE POLITBURO. Agreed.
The resolution is adopted.