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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 (disambiguation).

The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), at some points known as the Russian Communist Party or All-Union Communist Party and sometimes referred to as the Soviet Communist Party (SCP), 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 1977 Soviet Constitution, which had previously granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system.

Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза
AbbreviationCPSU/KPSS
LeaderCollective leadership (1917–1924, 1953–1991)
Joseph Stalin (1924–1953)
General SecretaryYelena Stasova (first)
Mikhail Gorbachev (last)
FounderVladimir Lenin
FoundedMay 1917; 104 years ago (1917-05)
Banned6 November 1991; 30 years ago (1991-11-06)
Preceded byBolsheviks of the RSDLP
Succeeded byCP RSFSR
CPRF
UCP – CPSU
HeadquartersMoscow, Staraya Square, 4
NewspaperPravda
Youth wingKomsomol
Pioneer wingYoung Pioneers
Membership19 million (1986)
IdeologyCommunism
Marxism–Leninism (from 1929)
Leninism (until 1929)
Political positionFar-left
International affiliationSecond International (1912–1914)
Comintern (1919–1943)
Cominform (1947–1956)
Colours Red
Slogan"Пролетарии всех стран, соединяйтесь!"
("Workers of the world, unite!")
Anthem
"Internatsional"
("The Internationale")
"Gimn partii bol'shevikov"
("Hymn of the Bolshevik Party")
(unofficial, 1939–1952)
A neighborhood in the Kozhukhovsky Bay of the Moskva River with a large sign promoting the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Moscow, 1975

The party started in 1898 as the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. In 1903 that party split into a Menshevik (minority) and Bolshevik (majority) faction; the latter, led by Vladimir Lenin, is the direct ancestor of the CPSU and is the party that seized power in the October Revolution of 1917. Its activities were suspended on Soviet territory 74 years later, on 29 August 1991, soon after a failed coup d'état by old-line CPSU leaders against the reforming Soviet president and party general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev. It was outlawed entirely three months later on 6 November 1991 on Russian territory.

The CPSU was a communist party based on 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 two 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.

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 command 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 growing disillusionment. After the younger, vigorous Mikhail Gorbachev assumed leadership in 1985 (following two short-term elderly leaders, Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, 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 multi-candidate 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 the 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.

Contents

Name

  • (1917-05-00) (1918-03-08)May, 1917 – 8 March 1918: Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks) (Russian:Российская социал-демократическая рабочая партия (большевиков); РСДРП(б), romanized: Rossiyskaya sotsial-demokraticheskaya rabochaya partiya (bol'shevikov); RSDSP(b))
  • (1918-03-08) (1925-12-18)8 March, 1918 – 18 December 1925: Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (Russian:Российская коммунистическая партия (большевиков); РКП(б), romanized: Rossiyskaya kommunisticheskaya partiya (bol'shevikov); RKP(b))
  • (1925-12-18) (1952-10-05)18 December, 1925 – 5 October 1952: All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (Russian:Всесоюзная коммунистическая партия (большевиков); ВКП(б), romanized: Vsesoyuznaya kommunisticheskaya partiya (bol'shevikov); VKP(b))
  • (1952-10-05) (1991-11-06)5 October, 1952 – 6 November 1991: Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian:Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза; КПСС), romanized: Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza; KPSS)

Early years (1898–1924)

The origin of the CPSU was in the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP). This faction arose out of the split between followers of Julius Martov and Vladimir Lenin in August 1903 at the Party's second conference. Martov's followers were called the Mensheviks (which means minority in Russian); and Lenin's, the Bolsheviks (majority). (The two factions were in fact of fairly equal numerical size.) The split became more formalized in 1914, when the factions became named the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Bolsheviks), and Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (Mensheviks). 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 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 rebellion proved not yet to 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 program, notably calling for an immediate end to the war, land reform for the peasants, and restoring food allocation to the urban population. This program 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 (USSR), 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.

Joseph Stalin, leader of the party from 1924 to his death in 1953

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 orthodox 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 a 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 imminent attack greatly exacerbated 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 the 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. 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 coup 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 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 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 leadership 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)

The Politburo elected Gorbachev as CPSU General Secretary on 11 March 1985, one day after Chernenko's death. When Gorbachev acceded to power, the Soviet Union was stagnating but was stable and might 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 leadership of the party called for uskoreniye (Russian:ускоре́ние, lit. 'acceleration'). Gorbachev reinvigorated the party ideology, adding new concepts and updating older ones. Positive consequences of this included the allowance of "pluralism of thought" and a call for the establishment of "socialist pluralism" (literally, socialist democracy). Gorbachev introduced a policy of glasnost (Russian:гла́сность, meaning openness or transparency) in 1986, which led to a wave of unintended democratization. According to the British researcher of Russian affairs, 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 suppressed during the previous decades.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the CPSU and the Soviet Union, as seen in 1986

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 to further reform, the CPSU remained hierarchical; the conservatives acceded to Gorbachev's demands in deference to his position as 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. Other 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 opposed any more radical reform. The elections featured 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 by dissident Andrei Sakharov. 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 state bodies eclipsed party elements in power. 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 didn't play a 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 Gorbachev allowed led to a rise in nationalism in the Soviet republics, indirectly weakening the central authorities. In response to this, a referendum took place 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 resumed control (21 August 1991) after the coup's collapse, he resigned from the CPSU on 24 August 1991 and operations were handed over to Ivashko. On 29 August 1991 the activity of the CPSU was suspended throughout the country, on 6 November Yeltsin banned the activities of the party in Russia and Gorbachev resigned from the presidency on 25 December; the following day the Soviet of Republics dissolved the Soviet Union.

On November 30, 1992, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation recognized the ban on the activities of the primary organizations of the Communist Party, formed on a territorial basis, as inconsistent with the Constitution of Russia, but upheld the dissolution of the governing structures of the CPSU and the governing structures of its republican organization – the Communist Party of the RSFSR.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian adherents to the CPSU tradition, particularly as it existed before Gorbachev, reorganized themselves within the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). Today a wide range of parties in Russia present themselves as successors of CPSU. Several of them have used the name "CPSU". However, the CPRF is generally seen (due to its massive size) as the heir of the CPSU in Russia. Additionally, the CPRF was initially founded as the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR in 1990 (sometime before the abolition of the CPSU) and was seen by critics as a "Russian-nationalist" counterpart to the CPSU.[citation needed]

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 the leader was characterized 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

Main article: 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 center 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

Main article: 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.

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    • Communist Party of Moldavia–Moldova (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of the Russian SFSR (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of Tajikistan (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of Turkestan (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of Turkmenistan (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of Ukraine (Central Committee)
    • Communist Party of Uzbekistan (Central Committee)

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 favor. 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 as 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 the 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

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)

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 the 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, 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

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 the 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 became 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 favor 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

Main article: 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 Kyivan 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 is 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 that 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 hundred, 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

CPSU membership card (1989)

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).[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", 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.[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 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.[citation needed]

Komsomol

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, 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.

Marxism–Leninism

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 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 number 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 favor. 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

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 that was led by intellectuals rather than by the working class itself. The CPSU was open only to a small number 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

Main article: Stalinism
Stalinism, while not an ideology per se, refers to the thoughts and policies of Stalin

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 camps" 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

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 defense 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 to do 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.

[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.

— 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 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 untrammeled 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 labor 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, the 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

Main article: Imperialism

Imperialism is capitalism at the 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 biggest capitalist powers has been completed.

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

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 to 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.

The 1986 Party Program claimed the tsarist regime collapsed because the contradictions of imperialism, which he held to be the gap "between the social nature of production and the private capitalist form of appropriation" manifesting itself in wars, economic recessions, and exploitation of the working class, were strongest in Russia. Imperialism was held to have caused the Russo-Japanese War and the First World War, with the 1905 Russian Revolution presented as "the first people's revolution of the imperialist epoch" and the October Revolution is said to have been rooted in "the nationwide movement against imperialist war and for peace."

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 favor 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 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 labor 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.

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 democratized 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 center 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 the 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 were 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".

In my opinion, the fundamental cause of the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and East European countries at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s was the loss of dynamism of the Stalin–Soviet Socialist Model ... The demerits of this model were institutional and fundamental—not a single reform after Stalin's death brought fundamental changes to the Stalin–Soviet Socialist Model. This model, with its problems and contradictions accumulating by day, was finally in crisis, and the people of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe lost their confidence in it. The [only] way out was to abandon the Stalin–Soviet Socialist Model and seek another road for social development.

Lu Nanqun, a Sovietologist from CASS

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 a 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. Others 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.

Presidential election

Election Party candidate Votes % Result
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev 1,329 72.9% ElectedY

Supreme Soviet elections

Election Soviet of the Union Soviet of Nationalities Position
Party leader Votes % Seats +/– Votes % Seats +/–
1937 Joseph Stalin 89,844,271 99.3%
461 / 569
89,063,169 99.4%
409 / 574
1st 1st
1946 100,621,225 99.2%
576 / 682
115 100,603,567 99.2%
509 / 657
100 1st 1st
1950 110,788,377 99.7%
580 / 678
4 110,782,009 99.7%
519 / 638
10 1st 1st
1954 Nikita Khrushchev 120,479,249 99.8%
565 / 708
15 120,539,860 99.8%
485 / 639
34 1st 1st
1958 133,214,652 99.6%
563 / 738
2 133,431,524 99.7%
485 / 640
1st 1st
1962 139,210,431 99.5%
604 / 791
41 139,391,455 99.6%
490 / 750
5 1st 1st
1966 Leonid Brezhnev 143,570,976 99.8%
573 / 767
31 143,595,678 99.8%
568 / 750
78 1st 1st
1970 152,771,739 99.7%
562 / 767
11 152,843,228 99.8%
534 / 750
34 1st 1st
1974 161,355,959 99.8%
562 / 767
161,443,605 99.8%
534 / 750
1st 1st
1979 174,734,459 99.9%
549 / 750
13 174,770,398 99.9%
526 / 750
8 1st 1st
1984 Konstantin Chernenko 183,897,278 99.94%
551 / 750
2 183,892,271 99.95%
521 / 750
5 1st 1st

Communist parties within the Warsaw Pact

Other ruling communist parties

Notes

  1. Russian:Коммунистическая партия Советского Союза, tr. Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskovo Soyuza, IPA: . Abbreviated in Russian as КПСС or KPSS.
  2. The Soviet Republics of Armenia, Estonia, and Georgia all boycotted the 1991 referendum.

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Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union Language Watch Edit 160 160 Redirected from Soviet Communists CPSU redirects here For other uses see CPSU disambiguation and Communist Party of the Soviet Union disambiguation The Communist Party of the Soviet Union CPSU a at some points known as the Russian Communist Party or All Union Communist Party and sometimes referred to as the Soviet Communist Party SCP 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 1977 Soviet Constitution which had previously granted the CPSU a monopoly over the political system Communist Party of the Soviet Union Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo SoyuzaAbbreviationCPSU KPSSLeaderCollective leadership 1917 1924 1953 1991 Joseph Stalin 1924 1953 General SecretaryYelena Stasova first Mikhail Gorbachev last FounderVladimir LeninFoundedMay 1917 104 years ago 1917 05 Banned6 November 1991 30 years ago 1991 11 06 Preceded byBolsheviks of the RSDLPSucceeded byCP RSFSR CPRF UCP CPSUHeadquartersMoscow Staraya Square 4NewspaperPravdaYouth wingKomsomolPioneer wingYoung PioneersMembership19 million 1986 IdeologyCommunism Marxism Leninism from 1929 Leninism until 1929 Political positionFar leftInternational affiliationSecond International 1912 1914 1 Comintern 1919 1943 Cominform 1947 1956 Colours RedSlogan Proletarii vseh stran soedinyajtes Workers of the world unite Anthem Internatsional The Internationale source source track track track track track track track track track track track track track track track track track Gimn partii bol shevikov Hymn of the Bolshevik Party unofficial 1939 1952 source source Politics of the Soviet UnionPolitical partiesElectionsA neighborhood in the Kozhukhovsky Bay of the Moskva River with a large sign promoting the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Moscow 1975 The party started in 1898 as the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party In 1903 that party split into a Menshevik minority and Bolshevik majority faction the latter led by Vladimir Lenin is the direct ancestor of the CPSU and is the party that seized power in the October Revolution of 1917 Its activities were suspended on Soviet territory 74 years later on 29 August 1991 soon after a failed coup d etat by old line CPSU leaders against the reforming Soviet president and party general secretary Mikhail Gorbachev It was outlawed entirely three months later on 6 November 1991 on Russian territory The CPSU was a communist party based on 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 two 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 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 command 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 growing disillusionment After the younger vigorous Mikhail Gorbachev assumed leadership in 1985 following two short term elderly leaders Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko 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 multi candidate 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 the 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 2 Contents 1 History 1 1 Name 1 2 Early years 1898 1924 1 3 Stalin era 1924 53 1 4 Post Stalin years 1953 85 1 5 Gorbachev and the party s demise 1985 91 2 Governing style 2 1 Democratic centralism 2 2 Vanguardism 3 Organization 3 1 Congress 3 1 1 Central Committee 3 1 2 Central Auditing Commission 3 1 3 Statute 3 2 Central Committee apparatus 3 2 1 General Secretary 3 2 2 Politburo 3 2 3 Secretariat 3 2 4 Orgburo 3 2 5 Control Commission 3 2 6 Departments 3 2 7 Pravda 3 2 8 Higher Party School 3 3 Lower level organization 3 3 1 Republican and local organization 3 3 2 Primary party organizations 3 3 3 Membership 3 4 Komsomol 4 Ideology 4 1 Marxism Leninism 4 1 1 Leninism 4 1 2 Stalinism 4 2 Concepts 4 2 1 Dictatorship of the proletariat 4 2 2 Anti imperialism 4 2 3 Peaceful coexistence 4 2 4 Socialism in One Country 5 Reasons for demise 5 1 Western view 5 2 According to the Communist Party of China 6 Electoral history 6 1 Presidential election 6 2 Supreme Soviet elections 7 See also 7 1 Communist parties within the Warsaw Pact 7 2 Other ruling communist parties 8 Footnotes 8 1 Notes 8 2 Citations 8 3 Bibliography 8 3 1 Articles and journal entries 8 3 2 Books 9 External linksHistory EditMain article History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Name Edit 1917 05 00 1918 03 08 May 1917 8 March 1918 Russian Social Democratic Labour Party Bolsheviks Russian Rossijskaya social demokraticheskaya rabochaya partiya bolshevikov RSDRP b romanized Rossiyskaya sotsial demokraticheskaya rabochaya partiya bol shevikov RSDSP b 1918 03 08 1925 12 18 8 March 1918 18 December 1925 Russian Communist Party Bolsheviks Russian Rossijskaya kommunisticheskaya partiya bolshevikov RKP b romanized Rossiyskaya kommunisticheskaya partiya bol shevikov RKP b 1925 12 18 1952 10 05 18 December 1925 5 October 1952 All Union Communist Party Bolsheviks Russian Vsesoyuznaya kommunisticheskaya partiya bolshevikov VKP b romanized Vsesoyuznaya kommunisticheskaya partiya bol shevikov VKP b 1952 10 05 1991 11 06 5 October 1952 6 November 1991 Communist Party of the Soviet Union Russian Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza KPSS romanized Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza KPSS Early years 1898 1924 Edit The origin of the CPSU was in the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party RSDLP This faction arose out of the split between followers of Julius Martov and Vladimir Lenin in August 1903 at the Party s second conference Martov s followers were called the Mensheviks which means minority in Russian and Lenin s the Bolsheviks majority The two factions were in fact of fairly equal numerical size The split became more formalized in 1914 when the factions became named the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party Bolsheviks and Russian Social Democratic Labour Party Mensheviks 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 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 rebellion proved not yet to 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 program notably calling for an immediate end to the war land reform for the peasants and restoring food allocation to the urban population This program 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 3 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 4 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 4 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 5 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 USSR of which Lenin was elected leader 6 On 9 March 1923 Lenin suffered a stroke which incapacitated him and effectively ended his role in government He died on 21 January 1924 6 only thirteen months after the founding of the Soviet Union of which he would become regarded as the founding father Stalin era 1924 53 Edit 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 Joseph Stalin leader of the party from 1924 to his death in 1953 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 orthodox 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 a 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 imminent attack greatly exacerbated 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 the 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 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 coup 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 Edit After Stalin s death Khrushchev rose to the top post by overcoming political adversaries including Lavrentiy Beria and Georgy Malenkov in a power struggle 7 In 1955 Khrushchev achieved the demotion of Malenkov and secured his own position as Soviet leader 8 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 9 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 10 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 11 Khrushchev s foreign policies led to the Sino Soviet split in part a consequence of his public denunciation of Stalin 12 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 11 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 13 Khrushchev also failed to improve Soviet relations with the West partially because of a hawkish military stance 13 In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis Khrushchev s position within the party was substantially weakened 14 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 15 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 16 He was succeeded in office by Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Chairman of the Council of Ministers 17 The Brezhnev era is commonly referred to by historians as the Era of Stagnation a term coined by CPSU General Secretary Gorbachev 18 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 19 Khrushchev s policies were criticized as voluntarism and the Brezhnev period saw the rise of neo Stalinism 20 While Stalin was never rehabilitated during this period the most conservative journals in the country were allowed to highlight positive features of his rule 20 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 21 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 22 Similar reforms were introduced in Hungary under the name New Economic Mechanism however with the rise to power of Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia who called for the establishment of socialism with a human face all non conformist reform attempts in the Soviet Union were stopped 23 During his rule Brezhnev supported detente a passive weakening of animosity with the West with the goal of improving political and economic relations 24 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 25 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 26 Because of the trust in cadres policy implemented by his administration the CPSU leadership evolved into a gerontocracy 27 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 28 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 29 Brezhnev died on 10 November 1982 and was succeeded by Yuri Andropov on 12 November 30 Andropov a staunch anti Stalinist chaired the KGB during most of Brezhnev s reign 31 He had appointed several reformers to leadership positions in the KGB many of whom later became leading officials under Gorbachev 31 Andropov supported increased openness in the press particularly regarding the challenges facing the Soviet Union 32 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 32 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 32 Andropov died on 9 February 1984 and was succeeded by Chernenko 33 Throughout his short leadership Chernenko was unable to consolidate power and effective control of the party organization remained in Gorbachev s control 33 Chernenko died on 10 March 1985 and was succeeded in office by Gorbachev on 11 March 1985 33 Gorbachev and the party s demise 1985 91 Edit The Politburo elected Gorbachev as CPSU General Secretary on 11 March 1985 one day after Chernenko s death 34 When Gorbachev acceded to power the Soviet Union was stagnating but was stable and might have continued largely unchanged into the 21st century if not for Gorbachev s reforms 35 Gorbachev conducted a significant personnel reshuffling of the CPSU leadership forcing old party conservatives out of office 36 In 1985 and early 1986 the new leadership of the party called for uskoreniye Russian uskore nie lit acceleration 36 Gorbachev reinvigorated the party ideology adding new concepts and updating older ones 36 Positive consequences of this included the allowance of pluralism of thought and a call for the establishment of socialist pluralism literally socialist democracy 37 Gorbachev introduced a policy of glasnost Russian gla snost meaning openness or transparency in 1986 which led to a wave of unintended democratization 38 According to the British researcher of Russian affairs 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 suppressed during the previous decades 38 Mikhail Gorbachev the last leader of the CPSU and the Soviet Union as seen in 1986 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 39 On 13 March 1988 Nina Andreyeva a university lecturer wrote an article titled I Cannot Forsake My Principles 40 The publication was planned to occur when both Gorbachev and his protege Alexander Yakovlev were visiting foreign countries 40 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 40 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 40 The meeting lasted for two days but on 5 April a Politburo resolution responded with a point by point rebuttal to Andreyeva s article 40 Gorbachev convened the 19th Party Conference in June 1988 He criticized leading party conservatives Ligachev Andrei Gromyko and Mikhail Solomentsev 40 In turn conservative delegates attacked Gorbachev and the reformers 41 According to Brown there had not been as much open discussion and dissent at a party meeting since the early 1920s 41 Despite the deep seated opposition to further reform the CPSU remained hierarchical the conservatives acceded to Gorbachev s demands in deference to his position as the CPSU General Secretary 41 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 Other organized parties were not allowed 41 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 41 The elections were democratic but most elected CPD members opposed any more radical reform 42 The elections featured the highest electoral turnout in Russian history no election before or since had a higher participation rate 43 An organized opposition was established within the legislature under the name Inter Regional Group of Deputies by dissident Andrei Sakharov 43 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 44 The CPSU s demise began in March 1990 when state bodies eclipsed party elements in power 44 From then until the Soviet Union s disestablishment Gorbachev ruled the country through the newly created post of President of the Soviet Union 44 Following this the central party apparatus didn t play a practical role in Soviet affairs 44 Gorbachev had become independent from the Politburo and faced few constraints from party leaders 44 In the summer of 1990 the party convened the 28th Congress 45 A new Politburo was elected previous incumbents except Gorbachev and Vladimir Ivashko the CPSU Deputy General Secretary were removed 45 Later that year the party began work on a new program with a working title Towards a Humane Democratic Socialism 45 According to Brown the program reflected Gorbachev s journey from an orthodox communist to a European social democrat 45 The freedoms of thought and organization which Gorbachev allowed led to a rise in nationalism in the Soviet republics indirectly weakening the central authorities 46 In response to this a referendum took place in 1991 in which most of the union republics b voted to preserve the union in a different form 46 In reaction to this conservative elements within the CPSU launched the August 1991 coup which overthrew Gorbachev but failed to preserve the Soviet Union 46 When Gorbachev resumed control 21 August 1991 after the coup s collapse he resigned from the CPSU on 24 August 1991 and operations were handed over to Ivashko 47 On 29 August 1991 the activity of the CPSU was suspended throughout the country 48 on 6 November Yeltsin banned the activities of the party in Russia 49 and Gorbachev resigned from the presidency on 25 December the following day the Soviet of Republics dissolved the Soviet Union 50 On November 30 1992 the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation recognized the ban on the activities of the primary organizations of the Communist Party formed on a territorial basis as inconsistent with the Constitution of Russia but upheld the dissolution of the governing structures of the CPSU and the governing structures of its republican organization the Communist Party of the RSFSR 51 After the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 Russian adherents to the CPSU tradition particularly as it existed before Gorbachev reorganized themselves within the Communist Party of the Russian Federation CPRF Today a wide range of parties in Russia present themselves as successors of CPSU Several of them have used the name CPSU However the CPRF is generally seen due to its massive size as the heir of the CPSU in Russia Additionally the CPRF was initially founded as the Communist Party of the Russian SFSR in 1990 sometime before the abolition of the CPSU and was seen by critics as a Russian nationalist counterpart to the CPSU citation needed Governing style EditMain article Collective leadership in the Soviet Union 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 the leader was characterized 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 Edit Main article Democratic centralism Democratic centralism is an organizational principle conceived by Lenin 52 According to Soviet pronouncements democratic centralism was distinguished from bureaucratic centralism which referred to high handed formulae without knowledge or discussion 52 In democratic centralism decisions are taken after discussions but once the general party line has been formed discussion on the subject must cease 52 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 52 Because of this stance Lenin initiated a ban on factions which was approved at the 10th Congress 53 Lenin believed that democratic centralism safeguarded both party unity and ideological correctness 52 He conceived of the system after the events of 1917 when several socialist parties deformed themselves and actively began supporting nationalist sentiments 54 Lenin intended that the devotion to policy required by centralism would protect the parties from such revisionist ills and bourgeois defamation of socialism 54 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 52 Lenin believed that the party needed to be ruled from the center and have at its disposal power to mobilize party members at will 52 This system was later introduced in communist parties abroad through the Communist International Comintern 53 Vanguardism Edit Main article Vanguardism A central tenet of Leninism was that of the vanguard party 55 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 55 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 55 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 56 The basic idea was that a small group of organized people could wield power disproportionate to their size with superior organizational skills 56 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 56 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 56 Organization EditMain article Organization of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee Communist Party of Armenia Central Committee Communist Party of Azerbaijan Central Committee Communist Party of Bukhara Communist Party of Byelorussia Central Committee Communist Party of Estonia Central Committee Communist Party of Georgia Central Committee Communist Party of the Karelia Finland SSR Central Committee Communist Party of Kazakhstan Central Committee Communist Party of Kirgizia Central Committee Communist Party of Khorezm Communist Party of the Soviet Union Central Committee Communist Party of Latvia Central Committee Communist Party of Lithuania Central Committee Communist Party of Lithuania and Byelorussia Central Committee Communist Party of Moldavia Moldova Central Committee Communist Party of the Russian SFSR Central Committee Communist Party of Tajikistan Central Committee Communist Party of Turkestan Central Committee Communist Party of Turkmenistan Central Committee Communist Party of Ukraine Central Committee Communist Party of Uzbekistan Central Committee Congress Edit 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 57 Leading up to the October Revolution and until Stalin s consolidation of power the Congress was the party s main decision making body 58 However after Stalin s ascension the Congresses became largely symbolic 58 CPSU leaders used Congresses as a propaganda and control tool 58 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 58 Despite delegates to Congresses losing their powers to criticize or remove party leadership the Congresses functioned as a form of elite mass communication 59 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 59 The information provided was general ensuring that party leadership retained the ability to make specific policy changes as they saw fit 59 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 favor 60 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 60 A Congress could also provide a platform for the announcement of new ideological concepts 60 For instance at the 22nd Congress Khrushchev announced that the Soviet Union would see communism in twenty years 61 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 62 19 conferences were convened during the CPSU s existence 62 The 19th Congress held in 1952 removed the clause in the party s statute which stipulated that a party Conference could be convened 62 The clause was reinstated at the 23rd Congress which was held in 1966 62 Central Committee Edit 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 63 It was mandated to meet at least twice a year to act as the party s supreme governing body 63 Membership of the Central Committee increased from 71 full members in 1934 to 287 in 1976 64 Central Committee members were elected to the seats because of the offices they held not on their personal merit 65 Because of this the Central Committee was commonly considered an indicator for Sovietologists to study the strength of the different institutions 65 The Politburo was elected by and reported to the Central Committee 66 Besides the Politburo the Central Committee also elected the Secretariat and the General Secretary the de facto leader of the Soviet Union 66 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 66 In between Central Committee plenums the Politburo and the Secretariat were legally empowered to make decisions on its behalf 66 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 67 Under Lenin the Central Committee functioned much as the Politburo did during the post Stalin era serving as the party s governing body 68 However as the membership in the Central Committee increased its role was eclipsed by the Politburo 68 Between Congresses the Central Committee functioned as the Soviet leadership s source of legitimacy 68 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 68 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 69 The body remained largely symbolic after Stalin s consolidation leading party officials rarely attended meetings of the Central Committee 70 Central Auditing Commission Edit 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 71 It had about as many members as the Central Committee 71 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 71 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 71 Statute Edit The Statute also referred to as the Rules Charter and Constitution was the party s by laws and controlled life within the CPSU 72 The 1st Statute was adopted at the 2nd Congress of the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party the forerunner of the CPSU 72 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 72 The 1st Statute was based upon Lenin s idea of a centralized vanguard party 72 The 4th Congress despite a majority of Menshevik delegates added the concept of democratic centralism to Article 2 of the Statute 73 The 1st Statute lasted until 1919 when the 8th Congress adopted the 2nd Statute 74 It was nearly five times as long as the 1st Statute and contained 66 articles 74 It was amended at the 9th Congress At the 11th Congress the 3rd Statute was adopted with only minor amendments being made 75 New statutes were approved at the 17th and 18th Congresses respectively 76 The last party statute which existed until the dissolution of the CPSU was adopted at the 22nd Congress 77 Central Committee apparatus Edit Main article Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union General Secretary Edit Further information General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union General Secretary of the Central Committee was the title given to the overall leader of the party The office was synonymous with the 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 Edit Main article Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 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 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 78 Until the 19th Conference in 1988 the Politburo alongside the Secretariat controlled appointments and dismissals nationwide 79 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 79 This personnel overlap gave the CPSU General Secretary a way of strengthening his position within the Politburo through the Secretariat 80 Kirill Mazurov Politburo member from 1965 to 1978 accused Brezhnev of turning the Politburo into a second echelon of power 80 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 80 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 80 The Politburo was abolished and replaced by a Presidium in 1952 at the 19th Congress 81 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 82 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 83 Until 1990 the CPSU General Secretary acted as the informal chairman of the Politburo 84 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 84 After 1922 when Lenin was incapacitated Lev Kamenev as Deputy Chairman of the Council of People s Commissars chaired the Politburo s meetings 84 This tradition lasted until Khrushchev s consolidation of power 84 In the first post Stalin years when Malenkov chaired Politburo meetings Khrushchev as First Secretary signed all Central Committee documents into force 84 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 85 During this period the informal position of Second Secretary later formalized as Deputy General Secretary was established 85 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 85 This system survived until the dissolution of the CPSU in 1991 85 To be elected to the Politburo a member had to serve in the Central Committee 86 The Central Committee elected the Politburo in the aftermath of a party Congress 86 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 86 The greater the power held by the sitting CPSU General Secretary the higher the chance that the Politburo membership would be approved 86 Secretariat Edit 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 87 It was legally empowered to take over the duties and functions of the Central Committee when it was not in the plenum did not hold a meeting 87 Many members of the Secretariat concurrently held a seat in the Politburo 88 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 88 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 89 The powers of the Secretariat were weakened under Mikhail Gorbachev and the Central Committee Commissions took over the functions of the Secretariat in 1988 90 Yegor Ligachev a Secretariat member said that the changes completely destroyed the Secretariat s hold on power and made the body almost superfluous 90 Because of this the Secretariat rarely met during the next two years 90 It was revitalized at the 28th Party Congress in 1990 and the Deputy General Secretary became the official head of the Secretariat 91 Orgburo Edit 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 78 It was responsible for organizational questions the recruitment and allocation of personnel the coordination of activities of the 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 86 The 19th Congress abolished the Orgburo and its duties and responsibilities were taken over by the Secretariat 86 At the beginning the Orgburo held three meetings a week and reported to the Central Committee every second week 92 Lenin described the relation between the Politburo and the Orgburo as the Orgburo allocates forces while the Politburo decides policy 93 A decision of the Orgburo was implemented by the Secretariat 93 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 93 In the 1920s if the Central Committee could not convene the Politburo and the Orgburo would hold a joint session in its place 93 Control Commission Edit Main article Central Control Commission of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union The Central Control Commission CCC functioned as the party s supreme court 94 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 95 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 95 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 95 At first the primary responsibility of the CCs was to respond to party complaints focusing mostly on party complaints of factionalism and bureaucratism 96 At the 11th Congress the brief of the CCs was expanded it became responsible for overseeing party discipline 97 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 98 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 99 CCC members could not concurrently be members of the Central Committee 100 To create an organizational link between the CCC and other central level organs the 9th All Russian Conference created the joint CC CCC plenums 100 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 100 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 100 Departments Edit Main article Departments of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union The leader of a department was usually given the title head Russian zaveduiuschchii 101 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 102 Normally specific secretaries were given supervising duties over one or more departments 102 Each department established its own cells called sections which specialized in one or more fields 103 During the Gorbachev era a variety of departments made up the Central Committee apparatus 104 The Party Building and Cadre Work Department assigned party personnel in the nomenklatura system 104 The State and Legal Department supervised the armed forces KGB the Ministry of Internal Affairs the trade unions and the Procuracy 104 Before 1989 the Central Committee had several departments but some were abolished that year 104 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 104 The party abolished these departments to remove itself from the day to day management of the economy in favor of government bodies and a greater role for the market as a part of the perestroika process 104 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 105 Six commissions were established by late 1988 105 Pravda Edit Main article Pravda Pravda The Truth was the leading newspaper in the Soviet Union 106 The Organizational Department of the Central Committee was the only organ empowered to dismiss Pravda editors 107 In 1905 Pravda began as a project by members of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party 108 Leon Trotsky was approached about the possibility of running the new paper because of his previous work on Ukrainian newspaper Kyivan Thought 108 The first issue of Pravda was published on 3 October 1908 108 in Lvov where it continued until the publication of the sixth issue in November 1909 when the operation was moved to Vienna Austria Hungary 108 During the Russian Civil War sales of Pravda were curtailed by Izvestia the government run newspaper 109 At the time the average reading figure for Pravda was 130 000 109 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 110 The paper s main goal was to promote Marxist Leninist philosophy and expose the lies of the bourgeoisie 111 In 1975 the paper reached a circulation of 10 6 million 111 It is currently owned by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation Higher Party School Edit 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 112 It was the successor of the Communist Academy which was established in 1918 112 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 113 It was reorganized in 1956 to that it could offer more specialized ideological training 113 In 1956 the school in Moscow was opened for students from socialist countries outside the Soviet Union 113 The Moscow Higher Party School was the party school with the highest standing 113 The school itself had eleven faculties until a 1972 Central Committee resolution demanded a reorganization of the curriculum 114 The first regional HPS outside Moscow was established in 1946 114 and by the early 1950s there were 70 Higher Party Schools 114 During the reorganization drive of 1956 Khrushchev closed 13 of them and reclassified 29 as inter republican and inter oblast schools 114 Lower level organization Edit Republican and local organization Edit The lowest organ above the primary party organization PPO was the district level 115 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 115 In between conferences the raion party committee commonly referred to as raikom was vested with ultimate authority 115 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 115 75 80 percent of raikom members were full members while the remaining 20 25 were non voting candidate members 115 Raikom members were commonly from the state sector party sector Komsomol or the trade unions 115 Day to day responsibility of the raikom was handed over to a Politburo which usually composed of 12 members 115 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 115 The First Secretary was responsible for the smooth running of operations 115 The raikom was headed by the local apparat the local agitation department or industry department 116 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 116 This system remained identical at all other levels of the CPSU hierarchy 116 The other levels were cities oblasts regions and republics 116 The district level elected delegates to a conference held at least held every three years to elect the party committee 116 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 116 The oblast s party committee in turn elected delegates to the republican level Congress which was held every five years 117 The Congress then elected the Central Committee of the republic which in turn elected a First Secretary and a Politburo 117 Until 1990 the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic was the only republic that did not have its own republican branch being instead represented by the CPSU Central Committee Primary party organizations Edit Main article Primary party organization The primary party organization PPO was the lowest level in the CPSU hierarchy 118 PPOs were organized cells consisting of three or more members 118 A PPO could exist anywhere for example in a factory or a student dormitory 118 They functioned as the party s eyes and ears at the lowest level and were used to mobilize support for party policies 118 All CPSU members had to be a member of a local PPO 119 The size of a PPO varied from three people to several hundred depending upon its setting 119 In a large enterprise a PPO usually had several hundred members 119 In such cases the PPO was divided into bureaus based upon production units 119 Each PPO was led by an executive committee and an executive committee secretary 119 Each executive committee is responsible for the PPO executive committee and its secretary 119 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 119 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 119 The remainder were chosen by a higher party organ and ratified by the general meetings of the PPO 119 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 120 Membership Edit CPSU membership card 1989 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 obshestvennaya rabota 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 resulting in new members referred to as the Lenin Enrolment 121 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 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 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 citation needed Komsomol Edit Main article Komsomol The All Union Leninist Communist Youth League commonly referred to as Komsomol was the party s youth wing 122 The Komsomol acted under the direction of the CPSU Central Committee 122 It was responsible for indoctrinating youths in communist ideology and organizing social events 123 It was closely modeled on the CPSU nominally the highest body was the Congress followed by the Central Committee Secretariat and the Politburo 122 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 122 The organization s newspaper was the Komsomolskaya Pravda 124 The First Secretary and the Second Secretary were commonly members of the Central Committee but were never elected to the Politburo 124 However at the republican level several Komsomol first secretaries were appointed to the Politburo 124 Ideology EditMain article Ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Marxism Leninism Edit Main article Marxism Leninism Marxism Leninism was the cornerstone of Soviet ideology 125 It explained and legitimized the CPSU s right to rule while explaining its role as a vanguard party 125 For instance the ideology explained that the CPSU s policies even if they were unpopular were correct because the party was enlightened 125 It was represented as the only truth in Soviet society the Party rejected the notion of multiple truths 125 Marxism Leninism was used to justify CPSU rule and Soviet policy but it was not used as a means to an end 125 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 126 Marxism Leninism as the only truth could not by its very nature become outdated 126 Despite having evolved over the years Marxism Leninism had several central tenets 127 The main tenet was the party s status as the sole ruling party 127 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 127 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 128 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 128 Unlike liberalism Marxism Leninism stressed the role of the individual as a member of a collective rather than the importance of the individual 128 Individuals only had the right to freedom of expression if it safeguarded the interests of a collective 128 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 128 The number of rights granted to an individual was decided by the state and the state could remove these rights if it saw fit 128 Soviet Marxism Leninism justified nationalism the Soviet media portrayed every victory of the state as a victory for the communist movement as a whole 128 Largely Soviet nationalism was based upon ethnic Russian nationalism 128 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 favor 128 The ideology professed state atheism Party members were not allowed to be religious 129 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 130 Leninism Edit 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 131 Since Karl Marx barely if ever wrote about how the socialist mode of production would function these tasks were left for Lenin to solve 131 Lenin s main contribution to Marxist thought is the concept of the vanguard party of the working class 131 He conceived the vanguard party as a highly knit centralized organization that was led by intellectuals rather than by the working class itself 131 The CPSU was open only to a small number of workers because the workers in Russia still had not developed class consciousness and needed to be educated to reach such a state 131 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 131 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 131 He viewed the dictatorship of the proletariat rather than the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie to be the dictatorship of the majority 131 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 131 Lenin believed that the transition from the capitalist mode of production to the socialist mode of production would last for a long period 132 According to some authors Leninism was by definition authoritarian 131 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 133 Stalinism Edit Main article Stalinism Stalinism while not an ideology per se refers to the thoughts and policies of Stalin Stalinism while not an ideology per se refers to Stalin s thoughts and policies 134 Stalin s introduction of the concept Socialism in One Country in 1924 was an important moment in Soviet ideological discourse 134 According to Stalin the Soviet Union did not need a socialist world revolution to construct a socialist society 134 Four years later Stalin initiated his Second Revolution with the introduction of state socialism and central planning 134 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 134 With the initiation of his Second Revolution Stalin launched the Cult of Lenin a cult of personality centered upon himself 134 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 135 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 136 Stalin explained the reasoning behind it at the 16th Congress held in 1930 136 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 136 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 137 Two key concepts were created in the latter half of his rule the two camps theory and the capitalist encirclement theory 136 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 136 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 136 Concepts Edit Dictatorship of the proletariat Edit 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 138 Lenin supporting Marx s theory of the state believed democracy to be unattainable anywhere in the world before the proletariat seized power 138 According to Marxist theory the state is a vehicle for oppression and is headed by a ruling class 138 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 139 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 139 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 139 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 140 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 141 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 defense of capitalism 142 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 143 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 143 He therefore concluded that the form of government has nothing to do with the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat 143 Bukharin and Trotsky agreed with Lenin both said that the revolution had destroyed the old but had failed to create anything new 144 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 145 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 145 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 145 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 145 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 Lenin explaining why the regime had become increasingly dictatorial 146 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 145 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 147 By now Lenin had concluded that only a proletarian regime as oppressive as its opponents could survive in this world 148 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 146 In a letter to Gavril Myasnikov in late 1920 Lenin explained his new interpretation of the term dictatorship of the proletariat 149 Dictatorship means nothing more nor less than authority untrammeled by any laws absolutely unrestricted by any rules whatever and based directly on force The term dictatorship has no other meaning but this 149 Lenin justified these policies by claiming that all states were class states by nature and that these states were maintained through class struggle 149 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 149 The main problem with this analysis is that the Party came to view anyone opposing or holding alternate views of the party as bourgeois 149 Its worst enemy remained the moderates which were considered to be the real agents of the bourgeoisie in the working class movement the labor lieutenants of the capitalist class 150 The term bourgeoisie became synonymous with opponent and with people who disagreed with the Party in general 151 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 152 Slogans and theoretical works about democratic mass participation and collective decision making were now replaced with texts which supported authoritarian management 152 Considering the situation the Party believed it had to use the same powers as the bourgeoisie to transform Russia there was no alternative 153 Lenin began arguing that the proletariat like the bourgeoisie did not have a single preference for a form of government and because of that the dictatorship was acceptable to both the Party and the proletariat 154 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 154 Anti imperialism Edit Main article Imperialism Imperialism is capitalism at the 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 biggest capitalist powers has been completed Lenin citing the main features of capitalism in the age of imperialism in Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism 155 The Marxist theory on imperialism was conceived by Lenin in his book Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism published in 1917 156 It was written in response to the theoretical crisis within Marxist thought which occurred due to capitalism s recovery in the 19th century 156 According to Lenin imperialism was a specific stage of development of capitalism a stage he referred to as state monopoly capitalism 156 The Marxist movement was split on how to solve capitalism s resurgence after the great depression of the late 19th century 157 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 157 Karl Kautsky also from the SDP held a highly dogmatic view he said that there was no crisis within Marxist theory 157 Both of them denied or belittled the role of class contradictions in society after the crisis 157 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 157 Lenin did not know when the imperialist stage of capitalism began he said it would be foolish to look for a specific year however said it began at the beginning of the 20th century at least in Europe 155 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 158 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 158 Lenin defines imperialism as the monopoly stage of capitalism 159 The 1986 Party Program claimed the tsarist regime collapsed because the contradictions of imperialism which he held to be the gap between the social nature of production and the private capitalist form of appropriation manifesting itself in wars economic recessions and exploitation of the working class were strongest in Russia Imperialism was held to have caused the Russo Japanese War and the First World War with the 1905 Russian Revolution presented as the first people s revolution of the imperialist epoch and the October Revolution is said to have been rooted in the nationwide movement against imperialist war and for peace 160 Peaceful coexistence Edit 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 favor 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 161 Peaceful coexistence was an ideological concept introduced under Khrushchev s rule 162 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 163 The concept said that the two systems were developed by way of diametrically opposed laws which led to opposite principles in foreign policy 161 Peaceful coexistence was steeped in Leninist and Stalinist thought 161 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 161 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 161 Khrushchev considered these grey areas in which the conflict between capitalism and socialism would be fought 161 He still stressed that the main contradiction in international relations were those of capitalism and socialism 161 The Soviet Government under Khrushchev stressed the importance of peaceful coexistence saying that it had to form the basis of Soviet foreign policy 161 Failure to do they believed would lead to nuclear conflict 161 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 161 Khrushchev believed that the conflict in its current phase was mainly economic 161 The emphasis on peaceful coexistence did not mean that the Soviet Union accepted a static world with clear lines 161 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 161 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 161 Socialism in One Country Edit Main article 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 164 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 164 Stalin responded to Trotsky s pamphlet with his article October and Comrade Trotsky s Theory of Permanent Revolution 165 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 165 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 165 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 165 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 165 Despite this cynical attitude Zinoviev and Kamenev believed that a defective form of socialism could be constructed 165 At the 14th Conference Stalin reiterated his position that socialism in one country was feasible despite the capitalist blockade of the Soviet Union 166 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 166 Stalin said the contradictions which arose within the peasantry during the socialist transition could be overcome by our own efforts 166 He concluded that the only viable threat to socialism in the Soviet Union was a military intervention 167 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 167 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 167 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 167 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 167 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 168 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 labor to develop 169 In contrast to Trotsky and Bukharin in 1938 Stalin said that a world revolution was impossible and that Engels was wrong on the matter 137 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 137 He rationalized this by saying that the state could exist in a communist society as long as the Soviet Union was encircled by capitalism 137 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 170 Reasons for demise EditFurther information Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Predictions of the dissolution of the Soviet Union Western view Edit There were few if any who believed that the Soviet Union was on the verge of collapse by 1985 171 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 171 The immediate causes for the Soviet Union s dissolution were the policies and thoughts of Mikhail Gorbachev the CPSU General Secretary 171 His policies of perestroika and glasnost tried to revitalize the Soviet economy and the social and political culture of the country 171 Throughout his rule he put more emphasis on democratizing the Soviet Union because he believed it had lost its moral legitimacy to rule 171 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 172 Archie Brown said 172 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 democratized 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 center was Moscow would become increasingly evident Yet it was not preordained that the entire Soviet Union would break up 172 However Brown said that the system did not need to collapse or to do so in the way it did 172 The democratization from above weakened the Party s control over the country and put it on the defensive 172 Brown added that a different leader than Gorbachev would probably have oppressed the opposition and continued with economic reform 172 Nonetheless Gorbachev accepted that the people sought a different road and consented to the Soviet Union s dissolution in 1991 172 He said that because of its peaceful collapse the fall of Soviet communism is one of the great success stories of 20th century politics 172 According to Lars T Lih the Soviet Union collapsed because people stopped believing in its ideology He wrote 173 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 the fervent belief in this narrative in its various permutations When the binding power of the narrative dissolved the Soviet Union itself dissolved 173 According to the Communist Party of China Edit 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 174 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 175 Following the CPSU s demise and the Soviet Union s collapse the CPC s analysis began examining systematic causes 176 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 177 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 178 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 were not an error but was a consciously planned feature of the system 178 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 178 The CPC argued that when Gorbachev came to power and introduced his economic reforms they were too little too late and too fast 179 In my opinion the fundamental cause of the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and East European countries at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s was the loss of dynamism of the Stalin Soviet Socialist Model The demerits of this model were institutional and fundamental not a single reform after Stalin s death brought fundamental changes to the Stalin Soviet Socialist Model This model with its problems and contradictions accumulating by day was finally in crisis and the people of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe lost their confidence in it The only way out was to abandon the Stalin Soviet Socialist Model and seek another road for social development Lu Nanqun a Sovietologist from CASS 180 While most CPC researchers criticize the CPSU s economic policies many have criticized what they see as Soviet totalitarianism 181 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 181 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 181 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 182 Stalin s effect on ideology was also criticized several researchers accused his policies of being leftist dogmatist and a deviation from true Marxism Leninism 180 He is criticized for initiating the bastardization of Leninism of deviating from true democratic centralism by establishing a 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 180 Yu Sui a CPC theoretician said that the collapse of the Soviet Union and CPSU is a punishment for its past wrongs 180 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 183 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 184 Unlike the other Soviet leaders Gorbachev is criticized for pursuing the wrong reformist policies and for being too flexible and too rightist 184 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 184 The CPSU was also criticized for not taking enough care in building the primary party organization and not having inner party democracy 185 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 185 Others 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 186 The CPC criticizes the CPSU of pursuing Soviet imperialism in its foreign policies 187 Electoral history EditPresidential election Edit Election Party candidate Votes Result1990 Mikhail Gorbachev 1 329 72 9 Elected YSupreme Soviet elections Edit Election Soviet of the Union Soviet of Nationalities PositionParty leader Votes Seats Votes Seats 1937 Joseph Stalin 89 844 271 99 3 461 569 89 063 169 99 4 409 574 1st 1st1946 100 621 225 99 2 576 682 115 100 603 567 99 2 509 657 100 1st 1st1950 110 788 377 99 7 580 678 4 110 782 009 99 7 519 638 10 1st 1st1954 Nikita Khrushchev 120 479 249 99 8 565 708 15 120 539 860 99 8 485 639 34 1st 1st1958 133 214 652 99 6 563 738 2 133 431 524 99 7 485 640 1st 1st1962 139 210 431 99 5 604 791 41 139 391 455 99 6 490 750 5 1st 1st1966 Leonid Brezhnev 143 570 976 99 8 573 767 31 143 595 678 99 8 568 750 78 1st 1st1970 152 771 739 99 7 562 767 11 152 843 228 99 8 534 750 34 1st 1st1974 161 355 959 99 8 562 767 161 443 605 99 8 534 750 1st 1st1979 174 734 459 99 9 549 750 13 174 770 398 99 9 526 750 8 1st 1st1984 Konstantin Chernenko 183 897 278 99 94 551 750 2 183 892 271 99 95 521 750 5 1st 1stSee also Edit Communism portal Politics portal Soviet Union portal Russia portal Communist Party of the Russian FederationCommunist parties within the Warsaw Pact Edit Bulgarian Communist Party Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Socialist Unity Party of Germany Hungarian Working People s Party Hungarian Socialist Workers Party Polish United Workers Party Romanian Communist PartyOther ruling communist parties Edit People s Democratic Party of Afghanistan Party of Labour of Albania People s Revolutionary Party of Benin Communist Party of Kampuchea Communist Party of China Communist Party of Cuba Workers Party of Ethiopia New Jewel Movement Workers Party of Korea Lao People s Revolutionary Party Somali Revolutionary Socialist Party Communist Party of Vietnam League of Communists of YugoslaviaFootnotes EditNotes Edit Russian Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskogo Soyuza tr Kommunisticheskaya partiya Sovetskovo Soyuza IPA kemʊnʲɪsʲˈtʲitɕɪskeje ˈpartʲɪje sɐˈvʲetskeve sɐˈjuze Abbreviated in Russian as KPSS or KPSS The Soviet Republics of Armenia Estonia and Georgia all boycotted the 1991 referendum Citations Edit Second International Congress in Basel November 24th to 25th 1912 Marxists org Marxists Internet Archive Retrieved 4 August 2021 Spravochnik po istorii Kommunisticheskoj partii i Sovetskogo Soyuza 1898 1991 A Handbook on the History of the Communist Party and the Soviet Union 1898 1991 Knowbysight info in Russian 4 February 2014 Archived from the original on 9 September 2014 Retrieved 24 January 2020 Trotsky Leon 1934 History of the Russian Revolution London The Camelot Press ltd p 808 a b Suny 2006 p xvi Suny 2006 pp 22 24 a b Suny 2006 p xvii Taubman 2006 pp 274 275 Taubman 2006 p 276 Taubman 2006 pp 274 276 Taubman 2006 pp 268 269 a b Taubman 2006 pp 278 280 Taubman 2006 pp 282 284 a b Taubman 2006 pp 284 287 Taubman 2006 pp 288 289 Taubman 2006 p 289 Taubman 2006 p 289 290 Hanson 2006 p 292 Hanson 2006 pp 292 296 Hanson 2006 pp 296 299 a b Hanson 2006 pp 297 298 Hanson 2006 p 296 297 Hanson 2006 p 299 Hanson 2006 pp 299 230 Hanson 2006 pp 235 238 Hanson 2006 p 308 Hanson 2006 p 309 Hanson 2006 pp 309 310 Hanson 2006 pp 310 314 Hanson 2006 p 313 Hanson 2006 p 315 a b Brown 2006 p 316 a b c Brown 2006 p 317 a b c Brown 2006 pp 317 318 Brown 2006 p 319 Brown 2006 pp 319 320 a b c Brown 2006 p 320 Brown 2006 p 322 a b Brown 2006 p 323 Brown 2006 p 325 a b c d e f Brown 2006 p 326 a b c d e Brown 2006 p 327 Brown 2006 pp 327 328 a b Brown 2006 p 328 a b c d e Brown 2006 p 329 a b c d Brown 2006 p 330 a b c Brown 2006 pp 344 348 Brown 2006 pp 344 349 Postanovlenie Verhovnogo Soveta SSSR ot 29 avgusta 1991 g 2371 I O situacii voznikshej v strane v svyazi s imevshim mesto gosudarstvennym perevorotom Ukaz Prezidenta RSFSR ot 6 noyabrya 1991 g 169 O deyatelnosti KPSS i KP RSFSR Brown 2006 p 349 Postanovlenie Konstitucionnogo Suda RF ot 30 noyabrya 1992 g N 9 P Po delu o proverke konstitucionnosti Ukazov Prezidenta RF ot 23 avgusta 1991 goda N 79 O priostanovlenii deyatelnosti Kommunisticheskoj partii RSFSR ot 25 avgusta 1991 goda N 90 Ob imushestve KPSS i Kommunisticheskoj partii RSFSR i ot 6 noyabrya 1991 goda N 169 O deyatelnosti KPSS i KP RSFSR a takzhe o proverke konstitucionnosti KPSS i KP RSFSR a b c d e f g Harding 1996 p 186 a b Harding 1996 p 187 a b Harding 1996 p 183 184 a b c Harding 1996 p 179 a b c d Harding 1996 p 181 Smith 1988 p 71 a b c d Zimmerman 1977 p 1 a b c Zimmerman 1977 p 2 a b c Zimmerman 1977 p 3 Evans 1993 pp 62 64 a b c d Staff writer Vsesoyuznaya konferenciya KPSS All Union Conference of the CPSU Great Soviet Encyclopedia in Russian bse sci lib com Retrieved 27 March 2014 a b Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 455 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 pp 455 456 a b Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 458 a b c d Getty 1987 pp 25 26 Getty 1987 p 27 a b c d Sakwa 1998 p 93 Sakwa 1998 p 94 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 462 a b c d Staff writer Centralnaya revizionnaya komissiya KPSS Central Auditing Commission of the CPSU Great Soviet Encyclopedia in Russian bse sci lib com Retrieved 27 March 2014 a b c d Simons 1984 p 393 Simons 1984 p 394 a b Simons 1984 p 396 Simons 1984 p 398 Simons 1984 pp 399 404 Simons 1984 pp 404 408 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 85 a b Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 98 a b c d Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 99 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 pp 37 38 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 38 Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 45 a b c d e Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 101 a b c d Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 102 a b c d e f Lowenhardt van Ree amp Ozinga 1992 p 87 a b Getty 1987 p 26 a b Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 430 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 432 a b c Brown 1996 p 185 Harris 2005 p 121 Eaton 2004 p 58 a b c d Gill 2002 p 81 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 249 a b c Gill 2002 p 83 Gill 2002 p 84 Gill 2002 pp 84 85 Gill 2002 pp 167 Eisen 1990 p 246 a b c d Gill 2002 p 95 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 pp 417 418 a b Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 418 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 420 a b c d e f Soviet Union Secretariat Library of Congress May 1989 Retrieved 28 March 2014 a b Harris 2005 p 53 Remington 1988 p 106 Lenoe 2004 p 202 a b c d Swain 2006 p 37 a b Kenez 1985 p 45 Swain 2006 p 27 a b Staff writer Pravda gazeta Pravda newspaper Great Soviet Encyclopedia in Russian bse sci lib com Retrieved 27 March 2014 a b Staff writer Vysshaya partijnaya shkola pri CK KPSS Higher Party School of the CC of the CPSU Great Soviet Encyclopedia in Russian bse sci lib com Retrieved 27 March 2014 a b c d Matthews 1983 p 185 a b c d Matthews 1983 p 186 a b c d e f g h i Smith 1988 p 68 a b c d e f Smith 1988 p 69 a b Smith 1988 p 70 a b c d Smith 1988 p 65 a b c d e f g h i Smith 1988 p 66 Smith 1988 p 67 Stalin 50 years after the death of a tyrant Part one In Defence of Marxism Retrieved 24 February 2016 a b c d Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 406 Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 405 a b c Fainsod amp Hough 1979 p 407 a b c d e Sakwa 1990 p 206 a b Sakwa 1990 p 212 a b c Smith 1991 p 81 a b c d e f g h i Smith 1991 p 82 Smith 1991 p 83 Sakwa 1990 pp 206 212 a b c d e f g h i j Smith 1991 p 76 Smith 1991 p 77 Smith 1991 p 767 a b c d e f Smith 1991 p 78 Smith 1991 pp 78 79 a b c d e f Smith 1991 p 79 a b c d van Ree 2003 p 133 a b c Harding 1996 pp 154 155 a b c Harding 1996 p 155 Harding 1996 p 156 Harding 1996 pp 155 156 Harding 1996 pp 157 158 a b c Harding 1996 p 158 Harding 1996 pp 158 159 a b c d e Harding 1996 p 159 a b Harding 1996 p 161 Harding 1996 p 160 Harding 1996 pp 160 161 a b c d e Harding 1996 p 162 Harding 1996 pp 162 163 Harding 1996 p 163 a b Harding 1996 p 165 Harding 1996 pp 165 166 a b Harding 1996 p 166 a b McDonough 1995 p 352 a b c McDonough 1995 p 339 a b c d e McDonough 1995 pp 344 347 a b McDonough 1995 p 353 McDonough 1995 p 354 Program of the CPSU 27th Congress 1986 Part One eurodos home xs4all nl Retrieved 12 January 2020 a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Evans 1993 p 72 Evans 1993 p 71 Evans 1993 pp 71 72 a b van Ree 2003 p 126 a b c d e f van Ree 2003 p 127 a b c van Ree 2003 p 128 a b c d e van Ree 2003 p 129 van Ree 2003 pp 129 130 van Ree 2003 p 130 van Ree 2003 pp 134 135 a b c d e Aron Leon 20 June 2011 Everything You Think You Know About the Collapse of the Soviet Union Is Wrong Foreign Policy Retrieved 4 April 2014 a b c d e f g h Brown Archie 17 February 2011 Reform Coup and Collapse The End of the Soviet State British Broadcasting Corporation BBC Online Retrieved 4 April 2014 a b Lih 2006 p 731 Shambaugh 2008 pp 49 51 Shambaugh 2008 pp 51 52 54 Shambaugh 2008 p 60 Shambaugh 2008 pp 60 61 a b c Shambaugh 2008 p 64 Shambaugh 2008 pp 63 amp 65 a b c d Shambaugh 2008 p 66 a b c Shambaugh 2008 p 65 Shambaugh 2008 pp 65 66 Shambaugh 2008 p 67 a b c Shambaugh 2008 pp 67 69 a b Shambaugh 2008 p 71 Shambaugh 2008 p 72 Shambaugh 2008 pp 74 75 Bibliography Edit See also Bibliography of the Russian Revolution and Civil War Bibliography of Stalinism and the Soviet Union and Bibliography of the Post Stalinist Soviet Union Articles and journal entries Edit McDonough Terrence 1995 Lenin Imperialism and the Stages of Capitalist Development Science amp Society 59 3 Guilford Press pp 339 367 JSTOR 40403507 Books Edit Brown Archie 1996 The Gorbachev Factor Oxford University Press ISBN 0192880527 Brown Archie 2006 The Gorbachev Era In Suny Ronald Grigor ed The Cambridge History of Russia 3 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521811449 Eaton Katherine Bliss 2004 Daily Life in the Soviet Union Greenwood Publishing Group ISBN 0313316287 Eisen Jonathan 1990 The Glasnost Reader University of Michigan ISBN 0453006957 Evans Alfred 1993 Soviet Marxism Leninism The Decline of an Ideology ABC CLIO ISBN 0275947637 Fainsod Merle Hough Jerry F 1979 How the Soviet Union is Governed Harvard University Press ISBN 0674410300 Getty John 1987 Origins of the Great Purges The Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered 1933 1938 Cambridge University Press ISBN 978 0 521 33570 6 Gill Graeme 2002 The Origins of the Stalinist Political System Cambridge University Press ISBN 0674410300 Hanson Stephen 2006 The Brezhnev Era In Suny Ronald Grigor ed The Cambridge History of Russia 3 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521811449 Harding Neil 1996 Leninism Macmillan Publishers ISBN 0333664825 Harris Jonathan 2005 Subverting the System Gorbachev s Reform of the Party s Apparat 1986 1991 Rowman amp Littlefield ISBN 074252678X Kenez Peter 1985 The Birth of the Propaganda State Soviet Methods of Mass Mobilization 1917 1929 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521313988 Lenoe Matthew Edward 2004 Closer to the Masses Stalinist Culture Social Revolution and Soviet Newspapers Harvard University Press ISBN 0674013190 Lih Lars T 2006 The Soviet Union and the road to communism In Suny Ronald Grigor ed The Cambridge History of Russia 3 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521811449 Lowenhardt John van Ree Erik Ozinga James 1992 The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Politburo St Martin s Press ISBN 0312047843 Matthews Marvyn 1983 Education in the Soviet Union Policies and Institutions since Stalin Routledge ISBN 0043701140 Remington Thomas 1988 The Truth of Authority Ideology and Communication in the Soviet Union University of Pittsburgh Press ISBN 978 0 8229 3590 2 Sakwa Richard 1990 Soviet politics an Introduction Routledge ISBN 041500506X Sakwa Richard 1998 Soviet politics in Perspective Routledge ISBN 0415071534 Shambaugh David 2008 China s Communist Party Atrophy and Adaptation University of California Press ISBN 978 0520254923 Smith Gordon 1988 Soviet Politics Continuity and Contradictions St Martin s Press ISBN 0312007957 Smith Gordon 1991 Soviet Politics Continuity and Contradictions 2nd ed St Martin s Press ISBN 0333535766 Suny Ronald Grigor 2006 Chronology Introduction In Suny Ronald Grigor ed The Cambridge History of Russia 3 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521811449 Swain Geoff 2006 Trotsky Pearson Education ISBN 0582771900 Williams Simons 1984 The Party Statutes of the Communist World BRILL Publishers ISBN 9024729750 Taubman William 2006 The Khrushchev Era In Suny Ronald Grigor ed The Cambridge History of Russia 3 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521811449 van Ree Erik 2003 The Political Thought of Joseph Stalin A Study in Twentieth Century Revolutionary Patriotism Routledge ISBN 978 1 135 78604 5 Zimmerman William 1977 Dallin Alexander ed The Twenty fifth Congress of the CPSU Assessment and Context Stanford University Hoover Press ISBN 0817968431 External links EditWikimedia Commons has media related to Communist Party of the Soviet Union Executive Bodies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union 1917 1991 Program of the CPSU 27th Party Congress 1986 Retrieved from https en wikipedia org w index php title 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