Communist Party of the Soviet Union | Wikipedia audio article

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU)
was the founding and ruling political party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU was the sole governing party of the
Soviet Union until 1990, when the Congress of People’s Deputies modified Article 6 of
the most recent 1977 Soviet constitution, which had granted the CPSU a monopoly over
the political system. The party was founded in 1912 by the Bolsheviks
(a majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party, RSDLP). Led by Vladimir Lenin, which seized power
in the the October Revolution, the second of the Russian Revolutions of 1917. After 74 years, the party was dissolved on
29 August 1991 on Soviet territory, soon after a failed coup d’état by hard-line CPSU leaders
against Soviet president and party general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, and was completely
outlawed three months later on 6 November 1991 in Russian territory. The CPSU was a Communist party, organized
on the basis of democratic centralism. This principle, conceived by Lenin, entails
democratic and open discussion of policy issues within the party followed by the requirement
of total unity in upholding the agreed policies. The highest body within the CPSU was the Party
Congress, which convened every five years. When the Congress was not in session, the
Central Committee was the highest body. Because the Central Committee met twice a
year, most day-to-day duties and responsibilities were vested in the Politburo, (previously
the Presidium), the Secretariat and the Orgburo (until 1952). The party leader was the head of government
and held the office of either General Secretary, Premier or head of state, or some of the three
offices concurrently—but never all three at the same time. The party leader was the de facto chairman
of the CPSU Politburo and chief executive of the Soviet Union. The tension between the party and the state
(Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union) for the shifting focus of power was never
formally resolved, but in reality the party dominated and a paramount leader always existed
(first Lenin and thereafter the General Secretary). After the founding of the Soviet Union in
1922, Lenin had introduced a mixed economy, commonly referred to as the New Economic Policy,
which allowed for capitalist practices to resume under the Communist Party dictation
in order to develop the necessary conditions for socialism to become a practical pursuit
in the economically undeveloped country. In 1929, as Joseph Stalin became the leader
of the party, Marxism–Leninism, a fusion of the original ideas of German philosopher
and economic theorist Karl Marx, and Lenin, became formalized as the party’s guiding ideology
and would remain so throughout the rest of its existence. The party pursued state socialism, under which
all industries were nationalized and a planned economy was implemented. After recovering from the Second World War,
reforms were implemented which decentralized economic planning and liberalized Soviet society
in general under Nikita Khrushchev. By 1980, various factors, including the continuing
Cold War, and ongoing nuclear arms race with the United States and other Western European
powers and unaddressed inefficiencies in the economy, led to stagnant economic growth under
Alexei Kosygin, and further with Leonid Brezhnev and a growing disillusionment. After a younger vigorous Mikhail Gorbachev
(b.1931), assumed leadership in 1985, (following two short-term elderly leaders who quickly
died in succession), rapid steps were taken to transform the tottering Soviet economic
system in the direction of a market economy once again. Gorbachev and his allies envisioned the introduction
of an economy similar to Lenin’s earlier New Economic Policy through a program of “perestroika”,
or restructuring, but their reforms along with the institution of free multiparty elections
led to a decline in the party’s power, and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
the banning of the party by later last RSFSR President Boris Yeltsin and subsequent first
President of an evolving democratic and free market economy of the successor Russian Federation. A number of causes contributed to CPSU’s loss
of control and the dissolution of the Soviet Union during early 1990s. Some historians have written that Gorbachev’s
policy of “glasnost” (political openness) was the root cause, noting that it weakened
the party’s control over society. Gorbachev maintained that perestroika without
glasnost was doomed to failure anyway. Others have blamed the economic stagnation
and subsequent loss of faith by the general populace in communist ideology. In the final years of the CPSU’s existence,
the Communist Parties of the federal subjects of Russia were united into the Communist Party
of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). After the CPSU’s demise, the Communist Parties
of the Union Republics became independent and underwent various separate paths of reform. In Russia, the Communist Party of the Russian
Federation emerged and has been regarded as the inheritor of the CPSU’s old Bolshevik
legacy into the present day.==History=====Name===
1912–18:Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks)
1918–25:Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) 1925–52:All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)
1952–91:Communist Party of the Soviet Union===Early years (1912–24)===
The origin of the CPSU was in the Bolshevik majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party (RSDLP), which, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, left the party in January
1912 to form a new one at the Prague Party Conference, called the Russian Social Democratic
Labour Party (bolsheviks) – or RSDLP(b). Prior to the February Revolution, the first
phase of the Russian Revolutions of 1917, the party worked underground as organized
anti-Tsarist groups. By the time of the revolution, many of the
party’s central leaders, including Lenin, were in exile. With Emperor (Tsar/Czar) Nicholas II (1868-1918,
reigned 1894-1917), deposed in February 1917, a republic was established and administered
by a provisional government, which was largely dominated by the interests of the military,
former nobility, major capitalists business owners and democratic socialists. Alongside it, grassroots general assemblies
spontaneously formed, called soviets, and a dual-power structure between the soviets
and the provisional government was in place until such a time that their differences would
be reconciled in a post-provisional government. Lenin was at this time in exile in Switzerland
where he, with other dissidents in exile, managed to arrange with the Imperial German
government safe passage through Germany in a sealed train back to Russia through the
continent amidst the ongoing World War. In April, Lenin arrived in Petrograd (renamed
former St. Petersburg) and condemned the provisional government, calling for the advancement of
the revolution towards the transformation of the ongoing war into a war of the working
class against capitalism. The revolution did in fact prove to not yet
be over, as tensions between the social forces aligned with the soviets (councils) and those
with the provisional government now led by Alexander Kerensky (1881-1970, in power 1917),
came into explosive tensions during that summer. The Bolsheviks had rapidly increased their
political presence from May onward through the popularity of their programme, notably
calling for an immediate end to the war, land reform for the peasants, and restoring food
allocation to the urban population. This programme was translated to the masses
through simple slogans that patiently explained their solution to each crisis the revolution
created. Up to July these policies were disseminated
through 41 publications, Pravda being the main paper, with a readership of 320,000. This was roughly halved after the repression
of the Bolsheviks following the July Days demonstrations so that even by the end of
August the principal paper of the Bolsheviks had a print run of only 50,000 copies. Despite this, their ideas gained them increasing
popularity in elections to the soviets.The factions within the soviets became increasingly
polarized in the later summer after armed demonstrations by soldiers at the call of
the Bolsheviks and an attempted military coup by commanding Gen. Lavr Kornilov to eliminate
the socialists from the provisional government. As the general consensus within the soviets
moved leftward, less militant forces began to abandon them, leaving the Bolsheviks in
a stronger position. By October, the Bolsheviks were demanding
the full transfer of power to the soviets and for total rejection of the Kerensky led
provisional government’s legitimacy. The provisional government, insistent on maintaining
the universally despised war effort on the Eastern Front because of treaty ties with
its Allies and fears of Imperial German victory, had become socially isolated and had no enthusiastic
support on the streets. On 7 November (25 October, old style), the
Bolsheviks led an armed insurrection which overthrew the Kerensky provisional government
and left the soviets as the sole governing force in Russia. In the aftermath of the October Revolution,
the soviets united federally and the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the
world’s first constitutionally socialist state, was established. The Bolsheviks were the majority within the
soviets and began to fulfill their campaign promises by signing a damaging peace to end
the war with the Germans in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and transferring estates and
imperial lands to workers’ and peasants’ soviets. In this context, in 1918, RSDLP(b) became
All-Russian Communist Party (bolsheviks). Outside of Russia, social-democrats who supported
the soviet government began to identify as communists while those who opposed it retained
the social-democratic label. In 1921, as the Civil War was drawing to a
close, Lenin proposed the New Economic Policy (NEP), a system of state capitalism that started
the process of industrialization and post-war recovery. The NEP ended a brief period of intense rationing
called “war communism” and began a period of a market economy under Communist dictation. The Bolsheviks believed at this time that
Russia, being among the most economically undeveloped and socially backward countries
in Europe, had not yet reached the necessary conditions of development for socialism to
become a practical pursuit and that this would have to wait for such conditions to arrive
under capitalist development as had been achieved in more advanced countries such as England
and Germany. On 30 December 1922, the Russian SFSR joined
former territories of the Russian Empire to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,
of which Lenin was elected leader. On 9 March 1923, Lenin suffered a stroke,
which incapacitated him and effectively ended his role in government. He died on 21 January 1924, only thirteen
months after the founding of the Soviet Union, of which he would become regarded as the founding
father.===Stalin era (1924–53)===
After Lenin’s death, a power struggle ensued between Joseph Stalin, the party’s General
Secretary, and Leon Trotsky, the Minister of Defence, each with highly contrasting visions
for the future direction of the country. Trotsky sought to implement a policy of permanent
revolution, which was predicated on the notion that the Soviet Union would not be able to
survive in a socialist character when surrounded by hostile governments and therefore concluded
that it was necessary to actively support similar revolutions in the more advanced capitalist
countries. Stalin, however, argued that such a foreign
policy would not be feasible with the capabilities then possessed by the Soviet Union and that
it would invite the country’s destruction by engaging in armed conflict. Rather, Stalin argued that the Soviet Union
should in the meantime pursue peaceful coexistence and invite foreign investment in order to
develop the country’s economy and build socialism in one country. Ultimately, Stalin gained the greatest support
within the party, and Trotsky, who was increasingly viewed as a collaborator with outside forces
in an effort to depose Stalin, was isolated and subsequently expelled from the party and
exiled from the country in 1928. Stalin’s policies henceforth would later become
collectively known as Stalinism. In 1925, the name of the party was changed
to the All-Union Communist Party (bolsheviks), reflecting that the republics outside of Russia
proper were no longer part of an all-encompassing Russian state. The acronym was usually transliterated as
VKP(b), or sometimes VCP(b). Stalin sought to formalize the party’s ideological
outlook into a philosophical hybrid of the original ideas of Lenin with classical Marxism
into what would be called Marxism–Leninism. Stalin’s position as General Secretary became
the top executive position within the party, giving Stalin significant authority over party
and state policy. By the end of the 1920s, diplomatic relations
with western countries were deteriorating to the point that there was growing fear of
another allied attack on the Soviet Union. Within the country, the conditions of the
NEP had enabled growing inequalities between increasingly wealthy strata and the remaining
poor. The combination of these tensions led the
party leadership to conclude that it was necessary for the government’s survival to pursue a
new policy that would centralize economic activity and accelerate industrialization. To do this, the first five-year plan was implemented
in 1928. The plan doubled the industrial workforce,
proletarianizing many of the peasants by removing them from their land and assembling them into
urban centers. Peasants who remained in agricultural work
were also made to have a similarly proletarian relationship to their labor through the policies
of collectivization, which turned feudal-style farms into collective farms which would be
in a cooperative nature under the direction of the state. These two shifts changed the base of Soviet
society towards a more working class alignment. The plan was fulfilled ahead of schedule in
1932. The success of industrialization in the Soviet
Union led western countries, such as the United States, to open diplomatic relations with
the Soviet government. In 1933, after years of unsuccessful workers’
revolutions (including a short-lived Bavarian Soviet Republic) and spiraling economic calamity,
Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, violently suppressing the revolutionary organizers and
posing a direct threat to the Soviet Union that ideologically supported them. The threat of fascist sabotage and immanent
attack greatly exacerbating the already existing tensions within the Soviet Union and the Communist
Party. A wave of paranoia overtook Stalin and the
party leadership and spread through Soviet society. Seeing potential enemies everywhere, leaders
of the government security apparatuses began severe crackdowns known as the Great Purge. In total, hundreds of thousands of people,
many of whom were posthumously recognized as innocent, were arrested and either sent
to prison camps or executed. Also during this time, a campaign against
religion was waged in which the Russian Orthodox Church, which had long been a political arm
of tsarism before the revolution, was targeted for repression and organized religion was
generally removed from public life and made into a completely private matter, with many
churches, mosques and other shrines being repurposed or demolished. The Soviet Union was the first to warn of
impending danger of invasion from Nazi Germany to the international community. The western powers, however, remained committed
to maintaining peace and avoiding another war breaking out, many considering the Soviet
Union’s warnings to be an unwanted provocation. While the western governments were mostly
committed to neutrality, many western capitalists, notably including the Rockefellers, secured
lucrative business deals with the fascist regimes and had direct interests in maintaining
them. After many unsuccessful attempts to create
an anti-fascist alliance among the western countries, including trying to rally international
support for the Spanish Republic in its struggle against a fascist military dictatorship supported
by Germany and Italy, in 1939 the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany
which would be broken in June 1941 when the German military invading the Soviet Union
in the largest land invasion in history, beginning the Great Patriotic War. The Communist International was dissolved
in 1943 after it was concluded that such an organization had failed to prevent the rise
of fascism and the global war necessary to defeat it. After the 1945 Allied victory of World War
II, the Party held to a doctrine of establishing socialist governments in the post-war occupied
territories that would be administered by Communists loyal to Stalin’s administration. The party also sought to expand its sphere
of influence beyond the occupied territories, using proxy wars and espionage and providing
training and funding to promote Communist elements abroad, leading to the establishment
of the Cominform in 1947. In 1949, the Communists emerged victorious
in the Chinese Civil War, causing an extreme shift in the global balance of forces and
greatly escalating tensions between the Communists and the western powers, fueling the Cold War. In Europe, Yugoslavia, under the leadership
of Josip Broz Tito, acquired the territory of Trieste, causing conflict both with the
western powers and with the Stalin administration who opposed such a provocative move. Furthermore, the Yugoslav Communists actively
supported the Greek Communists during their civil war, further frustrating the Soviet
government. These tensions led to a Tito–Stalin Split
which marked the beginning of international sectarian division within the world communist
movement.===Post-Stalin years (1953–85)===
After Stalin’s death, Khrushchev rose to the top post by overcoming political adversaries,
including Lavrentiy Beria and Georgy Malenkov, in a power struggle. In 1955, Khrushchev achieved the demotion
of Malenkov and secured his own position as Soviet leader. Early in his rule and with the support of
several members of the Presidium, Khrushchev initiated the Thaw, which effectively ended
the Stalinist mass terror of the prior decades and reduced socio-economic oppression considerably. At the 20th Congress held in 1956, Khrushchev
denounced Stalin’s crimes, being careful to omit any reference to complicity by any sitting
Presidium members. His economic policies, while bringing about
improvements, were not enough to fix the fundamental problems of the Soviet economy. The standard of living for ordinary citizens
did increase; 108 million people moved into new housing between 1956 and 1965.Khrushchev’s
foreign policies led to the Sino-Soviet split, in part a consequence of his public denunciation
of Stalin. Khrushchev improved relations with Josip Broz
Tito’s League of Communists of Yugoslavia but failed to establish the close, party-to-party
relations that he wanted. While the Thaw reduced political oppression
at home, it led to unintended consequences abroad, such as the Hungarian Revolution of
1956 and unrest in Poland, where the local citizenry now felt confident enough to rebel
against Soviet control. Khrushchev also failed to improve Soviet relations
with the West, partially because of a hawkish military stance. In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis,
Khrushchev’s position within the party was substantially weakened. Shortly before his eventual ousting he tried
to introduce economic reforms championed by Evsei Liberman, a Soviet economist, which
tried to implement market mechanisms into the planned economy.Khrushchev was ousted
on 14 October 1964 in a Central Committee plenum that officially cited his inability
to listen to others, his failure in consulting with the members of the Presidium, his establishment
of a cult of personality, his economic mismanagement, and his anti-party reforms as the reasons
he was no longer fit to remain as head of the party. He was succeeded in office by Leonid Brezhnev
as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Chairman of the Council of Ministers. The Brezhnev era began with a rejection of
Khrushchevism in virtually every arena except one: continued opposition to Stalinist methods
of terror and political violence. Khrushchev’s policies were criticized as voluntarism,
and the Brezhnev period saw the rise of neo-Stalinism. While Stalin was never rehabilitated during
this period, the most conservative journals in the country were allowed to highlight positive
features of his rule.At the 23rd Congress held in 1966, the names of the office of First
Secretary and the body of the Presidium reverted to their original names: General Secretary
and Politburo, respectively. At the start of his premiership, Kosygin experimented
with economic reforms similar to those championed by Malenkov, including prioritizing light
industry over heavy industry to increase the production of consumer goods. Similar reforms were introduced in Hungary
under the name New Economic Mechanism; however, with the rise to power of Alexander Dubček
in Czechoslovakia, who called for the establishment of “socialism with a human face”, all non-conformist
reform attempts in the Soviet Union were stopped.During his rule, Brezhnev supported détente, a passive
weakening of animosity with the West with the goal of improving political and economic
relations. However, by the 25th Congress held in 1976,
political, economic and social problems within the Soviet Union began to mount and the Brezhnev
administration found itself in an increasingly difficult position. The previous year, Brezhnev’s health began
to deteriorate. He became addicted to painkillers and needed
to take increasingly more potent medications to attend official meetings. Because of the “trust in cadres” policy implemented
by his administration, the CPSU leadership evolved into a gerontocracy. At the end of Brezhnev’s rule, problems continued
to amount; in 1979 he consented to the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan to save the embattled
communist regime there and supported the oppression of the Solidarity movement in Poland. As problems grew at home and abroad, Brezhnev
was increasingly ineffective in responding to the growing criticism of the Soviet Union
by Western leaders, most prominently by US Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan,
and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The CPSU, which had wishfully interpreted
the financial crisis of the 1970s as the beginning of the end of capitalism, found its country
falling far behind the West in its economic development. Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982, and was
succeeded by Yuri Andropov on 12 November.Andropov, a staunch anti-Stalinist, chaired the KGB
during most of Brezhnev’s reign. He had appointed several reformers to leading
positions in the KGB, many of whom later became leading officials under Gorbachev. Andropov supported increased openness in the
press, particularly regarding the challenges facing the Soviet Union. Andropov was in office briefly, but he appointed
a number of reformers, including Yegor Ligachev, Nikolay Ryzhkov and Mikhail Gorbachev, to
important positions. He also supported a crackdown on absenteeism
and corruption. Andropov had intended to let Gorbachev succeed
him in office, but Konstantin Chernenko and his supporters suppressed the paragraph in
the letter which called for Gorbachev’s elevation. Andropov died on 9 February 1984 and was succeeded
by Chernenko. Throughout his short leadership, Chernenko
was unable to consolidate power and effective control of the party organization remained
in Gorbachev’s control. Chernenko died on 10 March 1985 and was succeeded
in office by Gorbachev on 11 March 1985.===Gorbachev and the party’s demise (1985–91)
===Gorbachev was elected CPSU General Secretary
on 11 March 1985, one day after Chernenko’s death. When he acceded, the Soviet Union was stagnating
but was stable and may have continued largely unchanged into the 21st century if not for
Gorbachev’s reforms.Gorbachev conducted a significant personnel reshuffling of the CPSU
leadership, forcing old party conservatives out of office. In 1985 and early 1986, the new party leadership
called for uskoreniye (Russian: acceleration). Gorbachev reinvigorated the party ideology
by adding new concepts and updating older ones. A positive consequence of this was the allowance
of “pluralism of thought” and a call for the establishment of “socialist pluralism” (literally,
socialist democracy). He introduced a policy of glasnost (Russian:
openness, transparency) in 1986, which led to a wave of unintended democratization. According to Russian scholar Archie Brown,
the democratization of the Soviet Union brought mixed blessings to Gorbachev; it helped him
to weaken his conservative opponents within the party but brought out accumulated grievances
which had been oppressed during the previous decades. In reaction to these changes, a conservative
movement gained momentum in 1987 in response to Boris Yeltsin’s dismissal as First Secretary
of the CPSU Moscow City Committee. On 13 March 1988, Nina Andreyeva, a university
lecturer, wrote an article titled “I Cannot Forsake My Principles”. The publication was planned to occur when
both Gorbachev and his protege Alexander Yakovlev were visiting foreign countries. In their place, Yegor Ligachev led the party
organization and told journalists that the article was “a benchmark for what we need
in our ideology today”. Upon Gorbachev’s return, the article was discussed
at length during a Politburo meeting; it was revealed that nearly half of its members were
sympathetic to the letter and opposed further reforms which could weaken the party. The meeting lasted for two days, but on 5
April, a Politburo resolution responded with a point-by-point rebuttal to Andreyeva’s article.Gorbachev
convened the 19th Party Conference in June 1988. He criticized leading party conservatives
Ligachev, Andrei Gromyko and Mikhail Solomentsev. In turn, conservative delegates attacked Gorbachev
and the reformers. According to Brown, there had not been as
much open discussion and dissent at a party meeting since the early 1920s.Despite the
deep-seated opposition for further reform, the CPSU was still hierarchical; the conservatives
acceded to Gorbachev’s demands because he was the CPSU General Secretary. The 19th Conference approved the establishment
of the Congress of People’s Deputies (CPD) and allowed for contested elections between
the CPSU and independent candidates. Organized parties were not allowed. The CPD was elected in 1989; one-third of
the seats were appointed by the CPSU and other public organizations to sustain the Soviet
one-party state. The elections were democratic but most elected
CPD members were against any more radical reform. The elections marked the highest electoral
turnout in Russian history; no election before or since had a higher participation rate. An organized opposition was established within
the legislature under the name Inter-Regional Group of Deputies. An unintended consequence of these reforms
was the increased anti-CPSU pressure; in March 1990 at a session of the Supreme Soviet of
the Soviet Union, the party was forced to relinquish its political monopoly of power,
in effect turning the Soviet Union into a liberal democracy.The CPSU’s demise began
in March 1990, when party elements were eclipsed in power by state bodies. From then until the Soviet Union’s disestablishment,
Gorbachev ruled the country through the newly created post of President of the Soviet Union. Following this, the central party apparatus
played little practical role in Soviet affairs. Gorbachev had become independent from the
Politburo and faced few constraints from party leaders. In the summer of 1990, the party convened
the 28th Congress. A new Politburo was elected, previous incumbents
except Gorbachev and Vladimir Ivashko, the CPSU Deputy General Secretary were removed. Later that year, the party began work on a
new program with a working title, “Towards a Humane, Democratic Socialism”. According to Brown, the program reflected
Gorbachev’s journey from an orthodox communist to a European social democrat. The freedoms of thought and organization,
which were allowed by Gorbachev, led to a rise in nationalism in the Soviet republics,
indirectly weakening the central authorities. In response to this, a referendum was held
in 1991, in which most of the union republics voted to preserve the union in a different
form. In reaction to this, conservative elements
within the CPSU launched the August 1991 coup, which overthrew Gorbachev but failed to preserve
the Soviet Union. When Gorbachev returned after the coup’s collapse,
he resigned from the CPSU and operations were handed over to Ivashko. The CPSU was outlawed on 29 August 1991 on
Soviet territory, extended its further ban on 6 November on Russian soil by Yeltsin and
Gorbachev resigned from the presidency on 25 December; the following day the Soviet
Union was dissolved.On 30 November 1992; the Russian Constitutional Court not only upheld
this decree, but barred the CPSU from ever being refounded. It accepted Yeltsin’s argument that the CPSU
was not a true party, but a criminal organisation that had ruled the Soviet Union as a dictatorship
in violation of the Soviet Constitution. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union,
Russian adherents to the CPSU tradition, particularly as it existed before Gorbachev, reorganised
themselves as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Today there is a widespread flora of parties
in Russia claiming to be the successors of CPSU. Several of them used the name CPSU. However, CPRF is generally seen (due to its
massive size) as the inheritor of the CPSU in Russia. Additionally, the CPRF was initially founded
as the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR in 1990, some time before CPSU was abolished
and was seen as a “Russian-nationalist” counterpart to CPSU.==Governing style==The style of governance in the party alternated
between collective leadership and a cult of personality. Collective leadership split power between
the Politburo, the Central Committee, and the Council of Ministers to hinder any attempts
to create a one-man dominance over the Soviet political system. By contrast, Stalin’s period as leader was
characterised by an extensive cult of personality. Regardless of leadership style, all political
power in the Soviet Union was concentrated in the organization of the CPSU.===Democratic centralism===Democratic centralism is an organizational
principle conceived by Lenin. According to Soviet pronouncements, democratic
centralism was distinguished from “bureaucratic centralism”, which referred to high-handed
formulae without knowledge or discussion. In democratic centralism, decisions are taken
after discussions but once the general party line has been formed, discussion on the subject
must cease. No member or organizational institution may
dissent on a policy after it has been agreed upon by the party’s governing body; to do
so would lead to expulsion from the party (formalized at the 10th Congress). Because of this stance, Lenin initiated a
ban on factions, which was approved at the 10th Congress.Lenin believed that democratic
centralism safeguarded both party unity and ideological correctness. He conceived of the system after the events
of 1917, when several socialist parties “deformed” themselves and actively began supporting nationalist
sentiments. Lenin intended that the devotion to policy
required by centralism would protect the parties from such revisionist ills and bourgeois defamation
of socialism. Lenin supported the notion of a highly centralized
vanguard party, in which ordinary party members elected the local party committee, the local
party committee elected the regional committee, the regional committee elected the Central
Committee and the Central Committee elected the Politburo, Orgburo and the Secretariat. Lenin believed that the party needed to be
ruled from the centre and have at its disposal power to mobilize party members at will. This system was later introduced in communist
parties abroad through the Communist International (Comintern).===Vanguardism===A central tenet of Leninism was that of the
vanguard party. In a capitalist society, the party was to
represent the interests of the working class and all of those who were exploited by capitalism
in general; however, it was not to become a part of that class. Lenin decided that the party’s sole responsibility
was to articulate and plan the long-term interests of the oppressed classes. It was not responsible for the daily grievances
of those classes; that was the responsibility of the trade unions. According to Lenin, the Party and the oppressed
classes could never become one because the Party was responsible for leading the oppressed
classes to victory. The basic idea was that a small group of organized
people could wield power disproportionate to their size with superior organizational
skills. Despite this, until the end of his life, Lenin
warned of the danger that the party could be taken over by bureaucrats, by a small clique,
or by an individual. Toward the end of his life, he criticized
the bureaucratic inertia of certain officials and admitted to problems with some of the
party’s control structures, which were to supervise organizational life.==Organization=====Congress===The Congress, nominally the highest organ
of the party, was convened every five years. Leading up to the October Revolution and until
Stalin’s consolidation of power, the Congress was the party’s main decision-making body. However, after Stalin’s ascension the Congresses
became largely symbolic. CPSU leaders used Congresses as a propaganda
and control tool. The most noteworthy Congress since the 1930s
was the 20th Congress, in which Khrushchev denounced Stalin in a speech titled “The Personality
Cult and its Consequences”.Despite delegates to Congresses losing their powers to criticize
or remove party leadership, the Congresses functioned as a form of elite-mass communication. They were occasions for the party leadership
to express the party line over the next five years to ordinary CPSU members and the general
public. The information provided was general, ensuring
that party leadership retained the ability to make specific policy changes as they saw
fit.The Congresses also provided the party leadership with formal legitimacy by providing
a mechanism for the election of new members and the retirement of old members who had
lost favour. The elections at Congresses were all predetermined
and the candidates who stood for seats to the Central Committee and the Central Auditing
Commission were approved beforehand by the Politburo and the Secretariat. A Congress could also provide a platform for
the announcement of new ideological concepts. For instance, at the 22nd Congress, Khrushchev
announced that the Soviet Union would see “communism in twenty years”— a position
later retracted. A Conference, officially referred to as an
All-Union Conference, was convened between Congresses by the Central Committee to discuss
party policy and to make personnel changes within the Central Committee. 19 conferences were convened during the CPSU’s
existence. The 19th Congress held in 1952 removed the
clause in the party’s statute which stipulated that a party Conference could be convened. The clause was reinstated at the 23rd Congress,
which was held in 1966.====Central Committee====The Central Committee was a collective body
elected at the annual party congress. It was mandated to meet at least twice a year
to act as the party’s supreme governing body. Membership of the Central Committee increased
from 71 full members in 1934 to 287 in 1976. Central Committee members were elected to
the seats because of the offices they held, not on their personal merit. Because of this, the Central Committee was
commonly considered an indicator for Sovietologists to study the strength of the different institutions. The Politburo was elected by and reported
to the Central Committee. Besides the Politburo, the Central Committee
also elected the Secretariat and the General Secretary—the de facto leader of the Soviet
Union. In 1919–1952, the Orgburo was also elected
in the same manner as the Politburo and the Secretariat by the plenums of the Central
Committee. In between Central Committee plenums, the
Politburo and the Secretariat were legally empowered to make decisions on its behalf. The Central Committee or the Politburo and/or
Secretariat on its behalf could issue nationwide decisions; decisions on behalf of the party
were transmitted from the top to the bottom.Under Lenin, the Central Committee functioned much
like the Politburo did during the post-Stalin era, serving as the party’s governing body. However, as the membership in the Central
Committee increased, its role was eclipsed by the Politburo. Between Congresses, the Central Committee
functioned as the Soviet leadership’s source of legitimacy. The decline in the Central Committee’s standing
began in the 1920s; it was reduced to a compliant body of the Party leadership during the Great
Purge. According to party rules, the Central Committee
was to convene at least twice a year to discuss political matters—but not matters relating
to military policy. The body remained largely symbolic after Stalin’s
consolidation; leading party officials rarely attended meetings of the Central Committee.====Central Auditing Commission====The Central Auditing Commission (CAC) was
elected by the party Congresses and reported only to the party Congress. It had about as many members as the Central
Committee. It was responsible for supervising the expeditious
and proper handling of affairs by the central bodies of the Party; it audited the accounts
of the Treasury and the enterprises of the Central Committee. It was also responsible for supervising the
Central Committee apparatus, making sure that its directives were implemented and that Central
Committee directives complied with the party Statute.====Statute====
The Statute (also referred to as the Rules, Charter and Constitution) was the party’s
by-laws and controlled life within the CPSU. The 1st Statute was adopted at the 2nd Congress
of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party—the forerunner of the CPSU. How the Statute was to be structured and organized
led to a schism within the party, leading to the establishment of two competing factions;
Bolsheviks (literally majority) and Mensheviks (literally minority). The 1st Statute was based upon Lenin’s idea
of a centralized vanguard party. The 4th Congress, despite a majority of Menshevik
delegates, added the concept of democratic centralism to Article 2 of the Statute. The 1st Statute lasted until 1919, when the
8th Congress adopted the 2nd Statute. It was nearly five times as long as the 1st
Statute and contained 66 articles. It was amended at the 9th Congress. At the 11th Congress, the 3rd Statute was
adopted with only minor amendments being made. New statutes were approved at the 17th and
18th Congresses respectively. The last party statute, which existed until
the dissolution of the CPSU, was adopted at the 22nd Congress.===Central Committee apparatus=======General Secretary====General Secretary of the Central Committee
was the title given to the overall leader of the party. The office was synonymous with leader of the
Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin’s consolidation of power in the 1920s. Stalin used the office of General Secretary
to create a strong power base for himself. The office was formally titled First Secretary
between 1952 and 1966.====Politburo====The Political Bureau (Politburo), known as
the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, was the highest party organ when the Congress and the Central
Committee were not in session. Until the 19th Conference in 1988, the Politburo
alongside the Secretariat controlled appointments and dismissals nationwide. In the post-Stalin period, the Politburo controlled
the Central Committee apparatus through two channels; the General Department distributed
the Politburo’s orders to the Central Committee departments and through the personnel overlap
which existed within the Politburo and the Secretariat. This personnel overlap gave the CPSU General
Secretary a way of strengthening his position within the Politburo through the Secretariat. Kirill Mazurov, Politburo member from 1965
to 1978, accused Brezhnev of turning the Politburo into a “second echelon” of power. He accomplished this by discussing policies
before Politburo meetings with Mikhail Suslov, Andrei Kirilenko, Fyodor Kulakov and Dmitriy
Ustinov among others, who held seats both in the Politburo and the Secretariat. Mazurov’s claim was later verified by Nikolai
Ryzhkov, the Chairman of the Council of Ministers under Gorbachev. Ryzhkov said that Politburo meetings lasted
only 15 minutes because the people close to Brezhnev had already decided what was to be
approved.The Politburo was abolished and replaced by a Presidium in 1952 at the 19th Congress. In the aftermath the 19th Congress and the
1st Plenum of the 19th Central Committee, Stalin ordered the creation of the Bureau
of the Presidium, which acted as the standing committee of the Presidium. On 6 March 1953, one day after Stalin’s death,
a new and smaller Presidium was elected and the Bureau of the Presidium was abolished
in a joint session with the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet and the Council of Ministers.Until
1990, the CPSU General Secretary acted as the informal chairman of the Politburo. During the first decades of the CPSU’s existence,
the Politburo was officially chaired by the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars;
first by Lenin, then by Aleksey Rykov, Molotov, Stalin and Malenkov. After 1922, when Lenin was incapacitated,
Lev Kamenev as Deputy Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars chaired the Politburo’s
meetings. This tradition lasted until Khrushchev’s consolidation
of power. In the first post-Stalin years, when Malenkov
chaired Politburo meetings, Khrushchev as First Secretary signed all Central Committee
documents into force. From 1954 until 1958, Khrushchev chaired the
Politburo as First Secretary but in 1958 he dismissed and succeeded Nikolai Bulganin as
Chairman of the Council of Ministers. During this period, the informal position
of Second Secretary—later formalized as Deputy General Secretary—was established. The Second Secretary became responsible for
chairing the Secretariat in place of the General Secretary. When the General Secretary could not chair
the meetings of the Politburo, the Second Secretary would take his place. This system survived until the dissolution
of the CPSU in 1991.To be elected to the Politburo, a member had to serve in the Central Committee. The Central Committee elected the Politburo
in the aftermath of a party Congress. Members of the Central Committee were given
a predetermined list of candidates for the Politburo having only one candidate for each
seat; for this reason the election of the Politburo was usually passed unanimously. The greater the power held by the sitting
CPSU General Secretary, the higher the chance that the Politburo membership would be approved.====Secretariat====The Secretariat headed the CPSU’s central
apparatus and was solely responsible for the development and implementation of party policies. It was legally empowered to take over the
duties and functions of the Central Committee when it was not in plenum (did not hold a
meeting). Many members of the Secretariat concurrently
held a seat in the Politburo. According to a Soviet textbook on party procedures,
the Secretariat’s role was that of “leadership of current work, chiefly in the realm of personnel
selection and in the organization of the verification of fulfilment of party-state decisions”. “Selections of personnel” (Russian: podbor
kadrov) in this instance meant the maintenance of general standards and the criteria for
selecting various personnel. “Verification of fulfillment” (Russian: proverka
ispolneniia) of party and state decisions meant that the Secretariat instructed other
bodies.The powers of the Secretariat were weakened under Mikhail Gorbachev and the Central
Committee Commissions took over the functions of the Secretariat in 1988. Yegor Ligachev, a Secretariat member, said
that the changes completely destroyed the Secretariat’s hold on power and made the body
almost superfluous. Because of this, the Secretariat rarely met
during the next two years. It was revitalized at the 28th Party Congress
in 1990 and the Deputy General Secretary became the official Head of the Secretariat.====Orgburo====The Organizational Bureau, or Orgburo, existed
from 1919 to 1952 and was one of three leading bodies of the party when the Central Committee
was not in session. It was responsible for “organizational questions,
the recruitment and allocation of personnel, the coordination of activities of party, government
and social organizations (e.g. trade unions and youth organizations), improvement to the
party’s structure, the distribution of information and reports within the party”. The 19th Congress abolished the Orgburo and
its duties and responsibilities were taken over by the Secretariat. At the beginning, the Orgburo held three meetings
a week and reported to the Central Committee every second week. Lenin described the relation between the Politburo
and the Orgburo as “the Orgburo allocates forces, while the Politburo decides policy”. A decision of the Orgburo was implemented
by the Secretariat. However, the Secretariat could make decisions
in the Orgburo’s name without consulting its members but if one Orgburo member objected
to a Secretariat resolution, the resolution would not be implemented. In the 1920s, if the Central Committee could
not convene the Politburo and the Orgburo would hold a joint session in its place.====Control Commission====The Central Control Commission (CCC) functioned
as the party’s supreme court. The CCC was established at the 9th All-Russian
Conference in September 1920, but rules organizing its procedure were not enacted before the
10th Congress. The 10th Congress formally established the
CCC on all party levels and stated that it could only be elected at a party congress
or a party conference. The CCC and the CCs were formally independent
but had to make decisions through the party committees at their level, which led them
in practice to lose their administrative independence. At first, the primary responsibility of the
CCs was to respond to party complaints, focusing mostly on party complaints of factionalism
and bureaucratism. At the 11th Congress, the brief of the CCs
was expanded; it become responsible for overseeing party discipline. In a bid to further centralize the powers
of the CCC, a Presidium of the CCC, which functioned in a similar manner to the Politburo
in relation to the Central Committee, was established in 1923. At the 18th Congress, party rules regarding
the CCC were changed; it was now elected by the Central Committee and was subordinate
to the Central Committee.CCC members could not concurrently be members of the Central
Committee. To create an organizational link between the
CCC and other central-level organs, the 9th All-Russian Conference created the joint CC–CCC
plenums. The CCC was a powerful organ; the 10th Congress
allowed it to expel full and candidate Central Committee members and members of their subordinate
organs if two thirds of attendants at a CC–CCC plenum voted for such. At its first such session in 1921, Lenin tried
to persuade the joint plenum to expel Alexander Shliapnikov from the party; instead of expelling
him, Shliapnikov was given a severe reprimand.====Departments====The leader of a department was usually given
the title “head” (Russian: zaveduiuschchii). In practice, the Secretariat had a major say
in the running of the departments; for example, five of eleven secretaries headed their own
departments in 1978. Normally, specific secretaries were given
supervising duties over one or more departments. Each department established its own cells—called
sections—which specialized in one or more fields. During the Gorbachev era, a variety of departments
made up the Central Committee apparatus. The Party Building and Cadre Work Department
assigned party personnel in the nomenklatura system. The State and Legal Department supervised
the armed forces, KGB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the trade unions, and the Procuracy. Before 1989, the Central Committee had several
departments but some were abolished that year. Among these departments was the Economics
Department that was responsible for the economy as a whole, one for machine building, one
for the chemical industry, etc. The party abolished these departments to remove
itself from the day-to-day management of the economy in favour of government bodies and
a greater role for the market, as a part of the perestroika process. In their place, Gorbachev called for the creations
of commissions with the same responsibilities as departments, but giving more independence
from the state apparatus. This change was approved at the 19th Conference,
which was held in 1988. Six commissions were established by late 1988.====Pravda====Pravda (The Truth) was the leading newspaper
in the Soviet Union. The Organizational Department of the Central
Committee was the only organ empowered to dismiss Pravda editors. In 1905, Pravda began as a project by members
of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party. Leon Trotsky was approached about the possibility
of running the new paper because of his previous work on Ukrainian newspaper Kievan Thought. The first issue of Pravda was published on
3 October 1908 in Lvov, where it continued until the publication of the sixth issue in
November 1909, when the operation was moved to Vienna, Austria-Hungary. During the Russian Civil War, sales of Pravda
were curtailed by Izvestia, the government run newspaper. At the time, the average reading figure for
Pravda was 130,000. This Vienna-based newspaper published its
last issue in 1912 and was succeeded the same year by a new newspaper dominated by the Bolsheviks,
also called Pravda, which was headquartered in St. Petersburg. The paper’s main goal was to promote Marxist–Leninist
philosophy and expose the lies of the bourgeoisie. In 1975, the paper reached a circulation of
10.6 million. It’s currently owned by the Communist Party
of the Russian Federation.====Higher Party School====The Higher Party School (HPS) was the organ
responsible for teaching cadres in the Soviet Union. It was the successor of the Communist Academy,
which was established in 1918. The HPS was established in 1939 as the Moscow
Higher Party School and it offered its students a two-year training course for becoming a
CPSU official. It was reorganized in 1956 to that it could
offer more specialized ideological training. In 1956, the school in Moscow was opened for
students from socialist countries outside the Soviet Union. The Moscow Higher Party School was the party
school with the highest standing. The school itself had eleven faculties until
a 1972 Central Committee resolution demanded a reorganization of the curriculum. The first regional HPS outside Moscow was
established in 1946 and by the early 1950s there were 70 Higher Party Schools. During the reorganization drive of 1956, Khrushchev
closed 13 of them and reclassified 29 as inter-republican and inter-oblast schools.===Lower-level organization=======Republican and local organization====
The lowest organ above the primary party organization (PPO) was the district level. Every two years, the local PPO would elect
delegates to the district-level party conference, which was overseen by a secretary from a higher
party level. The conference elected a Party Committee and
First Secretary, and re-declared the district’s commitment to the CPSU’s program. In between conferences, the “raion” party
committee—commonly referred to as “raikom”—was vested with ultimate authority. It convened at least six times a year to discuss
party directives and to oversee the implementation of party policies in their respective districts,
to oversee the implementation of party directives at the PPO-level, and to issue directives
to PPOs. 75–80 percent of raikom members were full
members, while the remaining 20–25 were non-voting, candidate members. Raikom members were commonly from the state
sector, party sector, Komsomol or the trade unions.Day-to-day responsibility of the raikom
was handed over to a Politburo, which usually composed of 12 members. The district-level First Secretary chaired
the meetings of the local Politburo and the raikom, and was the direct link between the
district and the higher party echelons. The First Secretary was responsible for the
smooth running of operations. The raikom was headed by the local apparat—the
local agitation department or industry department. A raikom usually had no more than 4 or 5 departments,
each of which was responsible for overseeing the work of the state sector but would not
interfere in their work.This system remained identical at all other levels of the CPSU
hierarchy. The other levels were cities, oblasts (regions)
and republics. The district level elected delegates to a
conference held at least held every three years to elect the party committee. The only difference between the oblast and
the district level was that the oblast had its own Secretariat and had more departments
at its disposal. The oblast’s party committee in turn elected
delegates to the republican-level Congress, which was held every five years. The Congress then elected the Central Committee
of the republic, which in turn elected a First Secretary and a Politburo. Until 1990, the Russian Soviet Federative
Socialist Republic was the only republic which did not have its own republican branch, being
instead represented by the CPSU Central Committee.====Primary party organizations====The primary party organization (PPO) was the
lowest level in the CPSU hierarchy. PPOs were organized cells consisting of three
or more members. A PPO could exist anywhere; for example, in
a factory or a student dormitory. They functioned as the party’s “eyes and ears”
at the lowest level and were used to mobilize support for party policies. All CPSU members had to be a member of a local
PPO. The size of a PPO varied from three people
to several hundreds, depending upon its setting. In a large enterprise, a PPO usually had several
hundred members. In such cases, the PPO was divided into bureaus
based upon production-units. Each PPO was led by an executive committee
and an executive committee secretary. Each executive committee is responsible for
the PPO executive committee and its secretary. In small PPOs, members met periodically to
mainly discuss party policies, ideology or practical matters. In such a case, the PPO secretary was responsible
for collecting party dues, reporting to higher organs and maintaining the party records. A secretary could be elected democratically
through a secret ballot, but that was not often the case; in 1979, only 88 out of the
over 400,000 PPOs were elected in this fashion. The remainder were chosen by a higher party
organ and ratified by the general meetings of the PPO. The PPO general meeting was responsible for
electing delegates to the party conference at either the district- or town-level, depending
on where the PPO was located.====Membership====Membership of the party was not open. To become a party member, one had to be approved
by various committees and one’s past was closely scrutinized. As generations grew up having known nothing
before the Soviet Union, party membership became something one generally achieved after
passing a series of stages. Children would join the Young Pioneers and
at the age of 14 might graduate to the Komsomol (Young Communist League). Ultimately, as an adult, if one had shown
the proper adherence to party discipline – or had the right connections, one would become
a member of the Communist Party itself. Membership of the party carried obligations
as it expected Komsomol and CPSU members to pay dues and to carry out appropriate assignments
and “social tasks” (общественная работа).In 1918, party membership was
approximately 200,000. In the late 1920s under Stalin, the party
engaged in an intensive recruitment campaign, the “Lenin Levy”, resulting in new members
referred to as the Lenin Enrolment, from both the working class and rural areas. This represented an attempt to “proletarianize”
the party and an attempt by Stalin to strengthen his base by outnumbering the Old Bolsheviks
and reducing their influence in the Party. In 1925, the party had 1,025,000 members in
a Soviet population of 147 million. In 1927, membership had risen to 1,200,000. During the collectivization campaign and industrialization
campaigns of the first five-year plan from 1929 to 1933, party membership grew rapidly
to approximately 3.5 million members. However, party leaders suspected that the
mass intake of new members had allowed “social-alien elements” to penetrate the party’s ranks and
document verifications of membership ensued in 1933 and 1935, removing supposedly unreliable
members. Meanwhile, the party closed its ranks to new
members from 1933 to November 1936. Even after the reopening of party recruiting,
membership fell to 1.9 million by 1939. Nicholas DeWitt gives 2.307 million members
in 1939, including candidate members, compared with 1.535 million in 1929 and 6.3 million
in 1947. In 1986, the CPSU had over 19 million members—approximately
10% of the Soviet Union’s adult population. Over 44% of party members were classified
as industrial workers and 12% as collective farmers. The CPSU had party organizations in 14 of
the Soviet Union’s 15 republics. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
itself had no separate Communist Party until 1990 because the CPSU controlled affairs there
directly.===Komsomol===The All-Union Leninist Communist Youth League,
commonly referred to as Komsomol, was the party’s youth wing. The Komsomol acted under the direction of
the CPSU Central Committee. It was responsible for indoctrinating youths
in communist ideology and organizing social events. It was closely modeled on the CPSU; nominally
the highest body was the Congress, followed by the Central Committee, Secretariat and
the Politburo. The Komsomol participated in nationwide policy-making
by appointing members to the collegiums of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Higher
and Specialized Secondary Education, the Ministry of Education and the State Committee for Physical
Culture and Sports. The organization’s newspaper was the Komsomolskaya
Pravda. The First Secretary and the Second Secretary
were commonly members of the Central Committee but were never elected to the Politburo. However, at the republican level several Komsomol
first secretaries were appointed to the Politburo.==Ideology=====Marxism–Leninism===Marxism–Leninism was the cornerstone of
Soviet ideology. It explained and legitimized the CPSU’s right
to rule while explaining its role as a vanguard party. For instance, the ideology explained that
the CPSU’s policies, even if they were unpopular, were correct because the party was enlightened. It was represented as the only truth in Soviet
society; the Party rejected the notion of multiple truths. Marxism–Leninism was used to justify CPSU
rule and Soviet policy but it was not used as a means to an end. The relationship between ideology and decision-making
was at best ambivalent; most policy decisions were made in the light of the continued, permanent
development of Marxism–Leninism. Marxism–Leninism as the only truth could
not—by its very nature—become outdated.Despite having evolved over the years, Marxism–Leninism
had several central tenets. The main tenet was the party’s status as the
sole ruling party. The 1977 Constitution referred to the party
as “The leading and guiding force of Soviet society, and the nucleus of its political
system, of all state and public organizations, is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”. State socialism was essential and from Stalin
until Gorbachev, official discourse considered that private social and economic activity
retarding the development of collective consciousness and the economy. Gorbachev supported privatization to a degree
but based his policies on Lenin’s and Bukharin’s opinions of the New Economic Policy of the
1920s, and supported complete state ownership over the commanding heights of the economy. Unlike liberalism, Marxism–Leninism stressed
the role of the individual as a member of a collective rather than the importance of
the individual. Individuals only had the right to freedom
of expression if it safeguarded the interests of a collective. For instance, the 1977 Constitution stated
that every person had the right to express his or her opinion, but the opinion could
only be expressed if it was in accordance with the “general interests of Soviet society”. The quantity of rights granted to an individual
was decided by the state and the state could remove these rights if it saw fit. Soviet Marxism–Leninism justified nationalism;
the Soviet media portrayed every victory of the state as a victory for the communist movement
as a whole. Largely, Soviet nationalism was based upon
ethnic Russian nationalism. Marxism–Leninism stressed the importance
of the worldwide conflict between capitalism and socialism; the Soviet press wrote about
progressive and reactionary forces while claiming that socialism was on the verge of victory
and that the “correlations of forces” were in the Soviet Union’s favour. The ideology professed state atheism; Party
members were not allowed to be religious.Marxism–Leninism believed in the feasibility of a communist
mode of production. All policies were justifiable if it contributed
to the Soviet Union’s achievement of that stage.====Leninism====In Marxist philosophy, Leninism is the body
of political theory for the democratic organization of a revolutionary vanguard party and the
achievement of a dictatorship of the proletariat as a political prelude to the establishment
of the socialist mode of production developed by Lenin. Since Karl Marx barely, if ever wrote about
how the socialist mode of production would function, these tasks were left for Lenin
to solve. Lenin’s main contribution to Marxist thought
is the concept of the vanguard party of the working class. He conceived the vanguard party as a highly
knit, centralized organization which was led by intellectuals rather than by the working
class itself. The CPSU was open only to a small quantity
of workers because the workers in Russia still had not developed class consciousness and
needed to be educated to reach such a state. Lenin believed that the vanguard party could
initiate policies in the name of the working class even if the working class did not support
them. The vanguard party would know what was best
for the workers because the party functionaries had attained consciousness.Lenin, in light
of the Marx’s theory of the state (which views the state as an oppressive organ of the ruling
class), had no qualms of forcing change upon the country. He viewed the dictatorship of the proletariat,
rather than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, to be the dictatorship of the majority. The repressive powers of the state were to
be used to transform the country, and to strip of the former ruling class of their wealth. Lenin believed that the transition from the
capitalist mode of production to the socialist mode of production would last for a long period. According to some authors, Leninism was by
definition authoritarian. In contrast to Marx, who believed that the
socialist revolution would comprise and be led by the working class alone, Lenin argued
that a socialist revolution did not necessarily need to be led or to comprise the working
class alone. Instead, he said that a revolution needed
to be led by the oppressed classes of society, which in the case of Russia was the peasant
class.====Stalinism====Stalinism, while not an ideology per se, refers
to Stalin’s thoughts and policies. Stalin’s introduction of the concept “Socialism
in One Country” in 1924 was an important moment in Soviet ideological discourse. According to Stalin, the Soviet Union did
not need a socialist world revolution to construct a socialist society. Four years later, Stalin initiated his “Second
Revolution” with the introduction of state socialism and central planning. In the early 1930s, he initiated the collectivization
of Soviet agriculture by de-privatizing agriculture and creating peasant cooperatives rather than
making it the responsibility of the state. With the initiation of his “Second Revolution”,
Stalin launched the “Cult of Lenin”—a cult of personality centered upon himself. The name of the city of Petrograd was changed
to Leningrad, the town of Lenin’s birth was renamed Ulyanov (Lenin’s birth-name), the
Order of Lenin became the highest state award and portraits of Lenin were hung in public
squares, workplaces and elsewhere. The increasing bureaucracy which followed
the introduction of a state socialist economy was at complete odds with the Marxist notion
of “the withering away of the state”. Stalin explained the reasoning behind it at
the 16th Congress held in 1930; We stand for the strengthening of the dictatorship
of the proletariat, which represents the mightiest and most powerful authority of all forms of
State that have ever existed. The highest development of the State power
for the withering away of State power —this is the Marxian formula. Is this contradictory? Yes, it is contradictory. But this contradiction springs from life itself
and reflects completely Marxist dialectic. At the 1939 18th Congress, Stalin abandoned
the idea that the state would wither away. In its place, he expressed confidence that
the state would exist, even if the Soviet Union reached communism, as long as it was
encircled by capitalism. Two key concepts were created in the latter
half of his rule; the “two camp” theory and the “capitalist encirclement” theory. The threat of capitalism was used to strengthen
Stalin’s personal powers and Soviet propaganda began making a direct link with Stalin and
stability in society, saying that the country would crumble without the leader. Stalin deviated greatly from classical Marxism
on the subject of “subjective factors”; Stalin said that Party members of all ranks had to
profess fanatic adherence to the Party’s line and ideology, if not, those policies would
fail.===Concepts=======Dictatorship of the proletariat====Lenin, supporting Marx’s theory of the state,
believed democracy to be unattainable anywhere in the world before the proletariat seized
power. According to Marxist theory, the state is
a vehicle for oppression and is headed by a ruling class. He believed that by his time, the only viable
solution was dictatorship since the war was heading into a final conflict between the
“progressive forces of socialism and the degenerate forces of capitalism”. The Russian Revolution was by 1917, already
a failure according to its original aim, which was to act as an inspiration for a world revolution. The initial anti-statist posture and the active
campaigning for direct democracy was replaced because of Russia’s level of development with—according
to their own assessments— dictatorship. The reasoning was Russia’s lack of development,
its status as the sole socialist state in the world, its encirclement by imperialist
powers and its internal encirclement by the peasantry.Marx and Lenin did not care if a
bourgeois state was ruled in accordance with a republican, parliamentary or a constitutional
monarchical system since this did not change the overall situation. These systems, even if they were ruled by
a small clique or ruled through mass participation, were all dictatorships of the bourgeoisie
who implemented policies in defence of capitalism. However, there was a difference; after the
failures of the world revolutions, Lenin argued that this did not necessarily have to change
under the dictatorship of the proletariat. The reasoning came from practical considerations;
the majority of the country’s inhabitants were not communists, neither could the Party
reintroduce parliamentary democracy because that was not in synchronization with its ideology
and would lead to the Party losing power. He therefore concluded that the form of government
has nothing do to with the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat.Bukharin and Trotsky agreed
with Lenin; both said that the revolution had destroyed the old but had failed to create
anything new. Lenin had now concluded that the dictatorship
of the proletariat would not alter the relationship of power between men, but would rather “transform
their productive relations so that, in the long run, the realm of necessity could be
overcome and, with that, genuine social freedom realized”. From 1920 to 1921, Soviet leaders and ideologists
began differentiating between socialism and communism; hitherto the two terms had been
used interchangeably and used to explain the same things. From then, the two terms had different meanings;
Russia was in transition from capitalism to socialism—referred to interchangeably under
Lenin as the dictatorship of the proletariat, socialism was the intermediate stage to communism
and communism was considered the last stage of social development. By now, the party leaders believed that because
of Russia’s backward state, universal mass participation and true democracy could only
take form in the last stage. In early Bolshevik discourse, the term “dictatorship
of the proletariat” was of little significance and the few times it was mentioned it was
likened to the form of government which had existed in the Paris Commune. However, with the ensuing Russian Civil War
and the social and material devastation that followed, its meaning altered from commune-type
democracy to rule by iron-discipline. By now, Lenin had concluded that only a proletarian
regime as oppressive as its opponents could survive in this world. The powers previously bestowed upon the Soviets
were now given to the Council of People’s Commissars, the central government, which
was in turn to be governed by “an army of steeled revolutionary Communists [by Communists
he referred to the Party]”. In a letter to Gavril Myasnikov in late 1920,
Lenin explained his new interpretation of the term “dictatorship of the proletariat”:
Dictatorship means nothing more nor less than authority untrammelled by any laws, absolutely
unrestricted by any rules whatever, and based directly on force. The term ‘dictatorship’ has no other meaning
but this. Lenin justified these policies by claiming
that all states were class states by nature and that these states were maintained through
class struggle. This meant that the dictatorship of the proletariat
in the Soviet Union could only be “won and maintained by the use of violence against
the bourgeoisie”. The main problem with this analysis is that
the Party came to view anyone opposing or holding alternate views of the party as bourgeois. Its worst enemy remained the moderates, which
were considered to be “the real agents of the bourgeoisie in the working class movement,
the labour lieutenants of the capitalist class”. The term “bourgeoisie” became synonymous with
“opponent” and with people who disagreed with the Party in general. These oppressive measures led to another reinterpretation
of the dictatorship of the proletariat and socialism in general; it was now defined as
a purely economic system. Slogans and theoretical works about democratic
mass participation and collective decision-making were now replaced with texts which supported
authoritarian management. Considering the situation, the Party believed
it had to use the same powers as the bourgeoisie to transform Russia; there was no alternative. Lenin began arguing that the proletariat,
like the bourgeoisie, did not have a single preference for a form of government and because
of that, dictatorship was acceptable to both the Party and the proletariat. In a meeting with Party officials, Lenin stated—in
line with his economist view of socialism—that “Industry is indispensable, democracy is not”,
further arguing that “we [the Party] do not promise any democracy or any freedom”.====Anti-imperialism====The Marxist theory on imperialism was conceived
by Lenin in his book, Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism (published in 1917). It was written in response to the theoretical
crisis within Marxist thought, which occurred due to capitalism’s recovery in the 19th century. According to Lenin, imperialism was a specific
stage of development of capitalism; a stage he referred to as state monopoly capitalism. The Marxist movement was split on how to solve
capitalism’s resurgence after the great depression of the late 19th century. Eduard Bernstein from the Social Democratic
Party of Germany (SDP) considered capitalism’s revitalization as proof that it was evolving
into a more humane system, adding that the basic aims of socialists were not to overthrow
the state but to take power through elections. Karl Kautsky, also from the SDP, held a highly
dogmatic view; he said that there was no crisis within Marxist theory. Both of them denied or belittled the role
of class contradictions in society after the crisis. In contrast, Lenin believed that the resurgence
was the beginning of a new phase of capitalism; this stage was created because of a strengthening
of class contradiction, not because of its reduction.Lenin did not know when the imperialist
stage of capitalism began; he said it would be foolish too look for a specific year, however
said it began at the beginning of the 20th century (at least in Europe). Lenin believed that the economic crisis of
1900 accelerated and intensified the concentration of industry and banking, which led to the
transformation of the finance capital connection to industry into the monopoly of large banks. In Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism,
Lenin wrote; “the twentieth century marks the turning point from the old capitalism
to the new, from the domination of capital in general to the domination of finance capital”. Lenin defines imperialism as the monopoly
stage of capitalism.====Peaceful coexistence====”Peaceful coexistence” was an ideological
concept introduced under Khrushchev’s rule. While the concept has been interpreted by
fellow communists as proposing an end to the conflict between the systems of capitalism
and socialism, Khrushchev saw it as a continuation of the conflict in every area except in the
military field. The concept said that the two systems were
developed “by way of diametrically opposed laws”, which led to “opposite principles in
foreign policy”.Peaceful coexistence was steeped in Leninist and Stalinist thought. Lenin believed that international politics
were dominated by class struggle; in the 1940s Stalin stressed the growing polarization which
was occurring in the capitalist and socialist systems. Khrushchev’s peaceful coexistence was based
on practical changes which had occurred; he accused the old “two camp” theory of neglecting
the non-aligned movement and the national liberation movements. Khrushchev considered these “grey areas”,
in which the conflict between capitalism and socialism would be fought. He still stressed that the main contradiction
in international relations were those of capitalism and socialism. The Soviet Government under Khrushchev stressed
the importance of peaceful coexistence, saying that it had to form the basis of Soviet foreign
policy. Failure to do, they believed, would lead to
nuclear conflict. Despite this, Soviet theorists still considered
peaceful coexistence to be a continuation of the class struggle between the capitalist
and socialist worlds, but not based on armed conflict. Khrushchev believed that the conflict, in
its current phase, was mainly economic.The emphasis on peaceful coexistence did not mean
that the Soviet Union accepted a static world with clear lines. It continued to uphold the creed that socialism
was inevitable and they sincerely believed that the world had reached a stage in which
the “correlations of forces” were moving towards socialism. With the establishment of socialist regimes
in Eastern Europe and Asia, Soviet foreign policy planners believed that capitalism had
lost its dominance as an economic system.====Socialism in One Country====The concept of “Socialism in One Country”
was conceived by Stalin in his struggle against Leon Trotsky and his concept of permanent
revolution. In 1924, Trotsky published his pamphlet Lessons
of October, in which he stated that socialism in the Soviet Union would fail because of
the backward state of economic development unless a world revolution began. Stalin responded to Trotsky’s pamphlet with
his article, “October and Comrade Trotsky’s Theory of Permanent Revolution”. In it, Stalin stated that he did not believe
an inevitable conflict between the working class and the peasants would take place, and
that “socialism in one country is completely possible and probable”. Stalin held the view common among most Bolsheviks
at the time; there was a possibility of real success for socialism in the Soviet Union
despite the country’s backwardness and international isolation. While Grigoriy Zinoviev, Lev Kamenev and Nikolai
Bukharin—together with Stalin—opposed Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution,
their views on the way socialism could be built diverged.According to Bukharin, Zinoviev
and Kamenev supported the resolution of the 14th Conference held in 1925, which stated
that “we cannot complete the building of socialism due to our technological backwardness”. Despite this cynical attitude, Zinoviev and
Kamenev believed that a defective form of socialism could be constructed. At the 14th Conference, Stalin reiterated
his position that socialism in one country was feasible despite the capitalist blockade
of the Soviet Union. After the conference, Stalin wrote “Concerning
the Results of the XIV Conference of the RCP(b)”, in which he stated that the peasantry would
not turn against the socialist system because they had a self-interest in preserving it. Stalin said the contradictions which arose
within the peasantry during the socialist transition could “be overcome by our own efforts”. He concluded that the only viable threat to
socialism in the Soviet Union was a military intervention.In late 1925, Stalin received
a letter from a Party official which stated that his position of “Socialism in One Country”
was in contradiction with Friedrich Engels’ writings on the subject. Stalin countered that Engels’ writings reflected
“the era of pre-monopoly capitalism, the pre-imperialist era when there were not yet the conditions
of an uneven, abrupt development of the capitalist countries”. From 1925, Bukharin began writing extensively
on the subject and in 1926, Stalin wrote On Questions of Leninism, which contains his
best-known writings on the subject. With the publishing of Leninism, Trotsky began
countering Bukharin’s and Stalin’s arguments, writing that socialism in one country was
only possible only in the short term, and said that without a world revolution it would
be impossible to safeguard the Soviet Union from the “restoration of bourgeois relations”. Zinoviev disagreed with Trotsky and Bukharin,
and Stalin; he maintained Lenin’s position from 1917 to 1922 and continued to say that
only a defective form of socialism could be constructed in the Soviet Union without a
world revolution. Bukharin began arguing for the creation of
an autarkic economic model, while Trotsky said that the Soviet Union had to participate
in the international division of labour to develop. In contrast to Trotsky and Bukharin, in 1938,
Stalin said that a world revolution was impossible and that Engels was wrong on the matter. At the 18th Congress, Stalin took the theory
to its inevitable conclusion, saying that the communist mode of production could be
conceived in one country. He rationalized this by saying that the state
could exist in a communist society as long as the Soviet Union was encircled by capitalism. However, with the establishment of socialist
regimes in Eastern Europe, Stalin said that socialism in one country was only possible
in a large country like the Soviet Union and that to survive, the other states had to follow
the Soviet line.==Reasons for demise=====Western view===
There were few, if any, who believed that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse
by 1985. The economy was stagnating, but stable enough
for the Soviet Union to continue into the 21st century. The political situation was calm because of
twenty years of systematic repression against any threat to the country and one-party rule
and the Soviet Union was in its peak of influence in world affairs. The immediate causes for the Soviet Union’s
dissolution were the policies and thoughts of Mikhail Gorbachev, the CPSU General Secretary. His policies of perestroika and glasnost tried
to revitalize the Soviet economy and the social and political culture of the country. Throughout his rule, he put more emphasis
on democratizing the Soviet Union because he believed it had lost its moral legitimacy
to rule. These policies led to the collapse of the
communist regimes in Eastern Europe and indirectly destabilized Gorbachev’s and the CPSU’s control
over the Soviet Union. Archie Brown said:
The expectations of, again most notably, Lithuanians, Estonians and Latvians were enormously enhanced
by what they saw happening in the ‘outer empire’ [Eastern Europe] and they began to believe
that they could remove themselves from the ‘inner empire’. In truth, a democratised Soviet Union was
incompatible with denial of the Baltic states’ independence for, to the extent that those
Soviet republics became democratic, their opposition to remaining in a political entity
whose centre was Moscow would become increasingly evident. Yet, it was not preordained that the entire
Soviet Union would break up. However, Brown said that the system did not
need to collapse or to do so in the way it did. The democratization from above weakened the
Party’s control over the country, and put it on the defensive. Brown added that a different leader than Gorbachev
would probably have oppressed the opposition and continued with economic reform. Nonetheless, Gorbachev accepted that the people
sought a different road and consented to the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991. He said that because of its peaceful collapse,
the fall of Soviet communism is “one of the great success stories of 20th century politics”. According to Lars T. Lih, the Soviet Union
collapsed because people stopped believing in its ideology. He wrote:
When in 1991 the Soviet Union collapsed not with a bang but a whimper, this unexpected
outcome was partly the result of the previous disenchantments of the narrative of class
leadership. The Soviet Union had always been based on
fervent belief in this narrative in its various permutations. When the binding power of the narrative dissolved,
the Soviet Union itself dissolved.===According to the Communist Party of China
===The first research into the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc were very simple and did not take into account several
factors. However, these examinations became more advanced
by the 1990s and unlike most Western scholarship, which focuses on the role of Gorbachev and
his reform efforts, the Communist Party of China (CPC) examined “core (political) life
and death issues” so that it could learn from them and not make the same mistakes. Following the CPSU’s demise and the Soviet
Union’s collapse, the CPC’s analysis began examining systematic causes. Several leading CPC officials began hailing
Khrushchev’s rule, saying that he was the first reformer, and that if he had continued
after 1964, the Soviet Union would not have witnessed the Era of Stagnation began under
Brezhnev and continued under Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko. The main economic failure was that the political
leadership did not pursue any reforms to tackle the economic malaise that had taken hold,
dismissing certain techniques as capitalist, and never disentangling the planned economy
from socialism. Xu Zhixin from the CASS Institute of Eastern
Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, argued that Soviet planners laid too much emphasis on
heavy industry, which led to shortages of consumer goods. Unlike his counterparts, Xu argued that the
shortages of consumer goods was not an error but “was a consciously planned feature of
the system”. Other CPSU failures were pursuing the policy
of state socialism, the high spending on the military-industrial complex, a low tax base
and the subsidizing of the economy. The CPC argued that when Gorbachev came to
power and introduced his economic reforms, they were “too little, too late, and too fast”. While most CPC researchers criticize the CPSU’s
economic policies, many have criticized what they see as “Soviet totalitarianism”. They accuse Joseph Stalin of creating a system
of mass terror, intimidation, annulling the democracy component of democratic centralism
and emphasizing centralism, which led to the creation of an inner-party dictatorship. Other points were Russian nationalism, a lack
of separation between the Party and state bureaucracies, suppression of non-Russian
ethnicities, distortion of the economy through the introduction of over-centralization and
the collectivization of agriculture. According to CPC researcher Xiao Guisen, Stalin’s
policies led to “stunted economic growth, tight surveillance of society, a lack of democracy
in decision-making, an absence of the rule of law, the burden of bureaucracy, the CPSU’s
alienation from people’s concerns, and an accumulation of ethnic tensions”. Stalin’s effect on ideology was also criticized;
several researchers accused his policies of being “leftist”, “dogmatist” and a deviation
“from true Marxism–Leninism.” He is criticized for initiating the “bastardization
of Leninism”, of deviating from true democratic centralism by establishing one-man rule and
destroying all inner-party consultation, of misinterpreting Lenin’s theory of imperialism
and of supporting foreign revolutionary movements only when the Soviet Union could get something
out of it. Yu Sui, a CPC theoretician, said that “the
collapse of the Soviet Union and CPSU is a punishment for its past wrongs!” Similarly, Brezhnev, Mikhail Suslov, Alexei
Kosygin and Konstantin Chernenko have been criticized for being “dogmatic, ossified,
inflexible, [for having a] bureaucratic ideology and thinking”, while Yuri Andropov is depicted
by some of having the potential of becoming a new Khrushchev if he had not died early.While
the CPC concur with Gorbachev’s assessment that the CPSU needed internal reform, they
do not agree on how it was implemented, criticizing his idea of “humanistic and democratic socialism”,
of negating the leading role of the CPSU, of negating Marxism, of negating the analysis
of class contradictions and class struggle, and of negating the “ultimate socialist goal
of realizing communism”. Unlike the other Soviet leaders, Gorbachev
is criticized for pursuing the wrong reformist policies and for being too flexible and too
rightist. The CPC Organization Department said, “What
Gorbachev in fact did was not to transform the CPSU by correct principles—indeed the
Soviet Communist Party needed transformation—but instead he, step-by-step, and ultimately,
eroded the ruling party’s dominance in ideological, political and organizational aspects”.The
CPSU was also criticized for not taking enough care in building the primary party organization
and not having inner-party democracy. Others, more radically, concur with Milovan
Đilas assessment, saying that a new class was established within the central party leadership
of the CPSU and that a “corrupt and privileged class” had developed because of the nomenklatura
system. Other criticized the special privileges bestowed
on the CPSU elite, the nomenklatura system—which some said had decayed continuously since Stalin’s
rule—and the relationship between the Soviet military and the CPSU. Unlike in China, the Soviet military was a
state institution whereas in China it is a Party (and state) institution. The CPC criticizes the CPSU of pursuing Soviet
imperialism in its foreign policies.==See also==Communist Party of the Russian Federation===Communist parties within the Warsaw Pact
===Bulgarian Communist Party
Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Socialist Unity Party of Germany
Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party Polish United Workers’ Party
Romanian Communist Party===Other parties===
Communist Party of China Communist Party of Vietnam
Lao People’s Revolutionary Party Workers’ Party of Korea, a non-Marxist Communist
Party Party of Labour of Albania
Communist Party of Cuba League of Communists of Yugoslavia==Footnotes=====Notes======Citations======Bibliography=======Articles and journal entries========Books======External links==
Executive Bodies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1917–1991)
Program of the CPSU, 27th Party Congress (1986)

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