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    Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    "CPSU" redirects here. For other uses, see CPSU (disambiguation) and Communist Party of the Soviet Union


    Communist Party of theSoviet Union

    Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза (Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza)

    Founder  Vladimir Lenin

    Slogan "Workers of the world, unite!"

    Founded 1 January 1912

    Dissolved 29 August 1991

    Preceded by Russian Social Democratic Labour Party

    Newspaper  Pravda

     Youth wing KomsomolYoung Pioneers

    Membership 19 million (1986)

    Ideology Marxism–Leninism

    International affiliation Comintern (until 1943), Cominform (until 1956)

    Colours Red

    Anthem "The Internationale"

    Politics of the Soviet UnionPolitical partiesElections

    The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза, КПСС),

    abbreviated in English as CPSU,[note 1]

     was the founding and ruling political party of the Union of Soviet SocialistRepublics (USSR). The CPSU was the sole governing party of the Soviet Union until 1990 when the Supreme

    Soviet annulled the law which granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system. The party was founded in

    1912 by the Bolsheviks (the majority faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party ); a revolutionary

    group led by Vladimir Lenin which seized power in the aftermath of the October Revolution of 1917. The party was


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    dissolved on 29 August 1991 soon after a failed coup d'état.

    The CPSU was organized on the basis of democratic centralism, a principle conceived by Lenin that entails

    democratic and open discussion of policy issues and the requirement of unity in upholding 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, the Secretariat, and the Orgburo

    (until 1952). The party leader  was the head of government and held the office of either General Secretary, Premie

    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 the chief executive of the USSR.

    The CPSU was committed to communist thought and, according to its party statute, adhered to Marxism–

    Leninism, an ideology based on the writings of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx, and formalized under Joseph Stalin.

    The party pursued state socialism, under which all industries were nationalized and a planned economy was

    implemented. Before central planning was adopted in 1929, Lenin had introduced a mixed economy, commonly

    referred to as the New Economic Policy, in the 1920s. After Mikhail Gorbachev took power in 1985, rapid steps

    were taken to transform the economic system in the direction of a market economy. Gorbachev and some of his

    allies envisioned the introduction of an economy similar to Lenin's New Economic Policy through a program of 

    perestroika, or rebuilding, but the results of their reforms contributed to the fall of the entire system of government.

     A number of causes contributed to CPSU's loss of control and the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Some historians

    have written that Gorbachev's policy of democratization was the root cause, noting that it weakened the party's

    control over society. Others have blamed the economic stagnation and loss of faith by the general populace in

    communist ideology. The Communist Party of China  holds that the cause of the fall originated with Stalin,

    criticizing him for the "bastardization of Leninism", turning Marxism into dogma, creating a one-man rule, and

    introducing an inefficient economic system.




    Main article: History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    From Lenin to Stalin (1912–53)

    The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic, the world's first constitutionally socialist state, was established

    in the aftermath of the October Revolution. Immediately after the Revolution, the new, Lenin-led government

    implemented socialist reforms, including the transfer of estates and imperial lands to workers' soviets. Lenin

    supported world revolution but first needed to consolidate his power at home. To focus on the civil unrest brewingin Russia, he sought immediate peace with the Central Powers and agreed to a punitive treaty that ceded much o

    the former Russian Empire to Germany. The treaty was voided after the Allied victory in World War I .

    In 1921, Lenin proposed the New Economic Policy, a system of state capitalism that started the process of 

    industrialization and recovery from the Civil War . On 30 December 1922, the Russian SFSR  joined former 

    territories of the Russian Empire in the Soviet Union, 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 and was succeeded by Joseph Stalin.

    In the 1930s, Stalin initiated the Great Purge, a period of widespread paranoia and repression that culminated in a

    series of show trials and the purging of nearly all original Party members. With the rise of fascism in Italy andGermany, the Party actively sought to form "collective security" alliances with western powers. Unable to do so, th

    USSR signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, which was broken in 1941 when Germany invaded the Soviet

    Union, beginning the Great Patriotic War . After the 1945 Allied victory of World War II , the Party held to a doctrine

    of establishing pro-Stalin governments in the post-war occupied territories and of actively seeking to expand their 


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    Khrushchev succeeded Stalin as the Soviet

    leader. His rule is best known for his

    liberalization of political and social life, and

    the end of terror as a means of social


    sphere of influence, using proxy wars and espionage and providing training and funding to promote Communist

    elements abroad.

    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 thesupport 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.


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    The Brezhnev era is commonly referred to by

    historians as the Era of Stagnation, a term coined

    by CPSU General Secretary Gorbachev

    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 detente, 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


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    Gorbachev, the last leader of the CPSU and the

    Soviet Union, as seen in 1986

    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 CPSU'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 21s

    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 Moscow Communist Party. On 13 March 1988, Nina

     Andreyeva, a university lecturer, wrote an article titled " I CannotForsake 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 theCPSU 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.


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     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. Inthe 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[note 2] 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 and Gorbachev resignedfrom the presidency on 25 December; the following day the Soviet Union was dissolved.

    Governing style

    Collective leadership

    Main article: Collective leadership in the Soviet Union

    Cult of personality

    Further information: Cult of personality and Joseph Stalin's cult of personality

    Democratic centralism and vanguardism

    Main articles: Democratic centralism and Vanguardism

    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 introducedin communist parties abroad through the Communist International (Comintern).

     A central tenet of Leninism was that of the vanguard party. 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


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    class. According to Lenin, 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.


    Main article: Organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    Soviet Union

    This article is part of a series on thepolitics and government of the Soviet Union



    Communist Party[show]




    History and politics[show]



    Main article: Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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".


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    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 aplatform 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.


    Main article: Conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

     A party 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.[59] 19

    conferences were convened during the CPSU's existence.[59] The 19th Congress held in 1952 removed the

    clause in the party's statute which stipulated that a party Conference could be convened.[59] The clause was

    reinstated at the 23rd Congress, which was held in 1966.[59]

    Central Committee

    Main article: Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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 asthe 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

    Main article: Central Auditing Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    The Central Auditing Commission (CAC) was elected by the party Congresses and reported only to the party

    Congress.[68] It had about as many members as the Central Committee.[68] It was responsible for supervising the


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     A Politburo resolution to execute 346 "enemies of 

    the CPSU and Soviet Power" who led "counter-

    revolutionary, right-trotskyite, plotting and spying

    activities". Signed by Stalin

    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.[68] 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.[68]


    Main article: Statute of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    The Statute, also referred to as the Rules, Charter and Constitution, were 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

    Main article: Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    General Secretary

    Main article: General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


    Main article: Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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; theGeneral 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


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    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, whenMalenkov 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.


    Main article: Secretariat of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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 

    fulfillment [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; 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 theDeputy General Secretary became the official Head of the Secretariat.


    Main article: 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


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    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

    Main article: Control Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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 electedby 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.


    Main article: Departments of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

    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 sctions—which specialized in one or more fields.

    During the Gorbachev era, a variety of departments made up the Central Committee apparatus.[101] The Party

    Building and Cadre Work Department assigned party personnel in the nomenklatura system.[101] The State and

    Legal Department supervised the armed forces, KGB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the trade unions, and the

    Procuracy.[101] Before 1989, the Central Committee had several departments but some were abolished that

    year.[101] 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.[101] 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.[101] 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.


    Main article: Pravda

    Pravda (The Truth) was the leading newspaper in the Soviet Union. The Organizational Department of the Central


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    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.[108] In 1975, the paper reached a circulation of 10.6 million. [108]

    Higher Party School

    Main article: Education system under the CPSU Central Committee

    The Higher Party School (HPS) was the organ responsible for teaching cadres in the Soviet Union. [109] It was the

    successor of the Communist Academy, which was established in 1918. [109] The HPS was established in 1939 as

    the Moscow Higher Party School; it offered its students a two-year training course for becoming a Party 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 USSR. 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; 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.


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    CPSU membership card (1989)

    Primary party organizations

    Main article: Primary party organization

    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 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 USSR, 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 shownthe 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; the Party expected

    Komsomol and CPSU members to pay dues and to carry out

    appropriate assignments and "social tasks" (общественная

    работа).[citation needed ]

    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") of new members

    from both the working class and rural areas. This represented an attempt to "proletarianize" the Party and anattempt 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 Pla

    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 rank

    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.[citation needed ] (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 USSR'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 USSR's 15 republics. The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic itself had no

    separate Communist Party until 1990 because the CPSU controlled affairs there directly.[citation needed ]


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    Main article: 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, theMinistry 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.


    Main article: Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union


    Main article: 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


    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 everyperson 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.



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    Stalinism, while not an ideology per se, refers to

    the thoughts and policies of Stalin

    Main article: 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 classconsciousness 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.

    Leninism was by definition authoritarian. 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. 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.


    Main article: 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 becamethe 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." 


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     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.


    Dictatorship of the proletariat

    Main article: Dictatorship of the proletariat

    "Either the dictatorship of the landowners and capitalists, or the dictatorship of the proletariat ... There is no middle

    course ... There is no middle course anywhere in the world, nor can there be."

    —Lenin, claiming that people had only two choices; between two different, but distinct class dictatorships.

    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 creat

    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.

    "[Because] the proletariat is still so divided, so degraded, so corrupted in parts ... that an organization taking in the

    whole proletariat cannot directly exercise proletarian dictatorship. It can be exercised only by a vanguard that has

    absorbed the revolutionary energy of the class."


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    —Lenin, explaining why the regime had become increasingly dictatorial.

    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 GavrilMyasnikov 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 meetingwith 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".


    Main article: Imperialism

    "Imperialism is capitalism at stage of development at which the dominance of monopolies and finance capital is

    established; in which the export of capital has acquired pronounced importance; in which the division of the world

    among the international trusts as begun; in which divisions of all territories of the globe among the biggestcapitalist powers has been completed."

    —Lenin, citing the main features of capitalism in the age of imperialism in Imperialism: the Highest Stage of 


    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 evolvinginto 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


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    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 specifi

    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

    Main article: Peaceful coexistence

    "The loss by imperialism of its dominating role in world affairs and the utmost expansion of the sphere in which the

    laws of socialist foreign policy operate are a distinctive feature of the present stage of social development. The

    main direction of this development is toward even greater changes in the correlation of forces in the world arena in

    favour of socialism."

    —Nikolay Inozemtsev, a Soviet foreign policy analyst, referring to series of events (which he believed) would lead

    to the ultimate victory of socialism.

    "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 thecapitalist 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 Sov