Saturday, September 5, 2009

Terminology of the Soviet Government

Although I've been reading Russian and Soviet history for the past couple of years--and indeed it has become something of a hobby now--I've never really come to grips with Soviet political structures. This is a failure on my part, but I am not exactly sure how it came about. There's really nothing about Soviet history that interests me more. I love politics and even comparative political history. And I read enough traditional Soviet history to hear the terminology of the Soviet state over and over again. In fact, knowing my weakness in terms of the system of Soviet political structures, I try to pay close attention whenever this topic is covered in any of my readings. Still, nothing sticks.

Perhaps I would be able to answer questions about Soviet power on a multiple question exam by choosing the closest answer among different options, but that is as far as I can go. Commisars, soviets, central committees, party congresses, politburos, the KGB, etc. It's still all a bit murky. Things are made harder because some institutions did change radically over the years and decades, especially at first, when these new forms were freshly invented. And the institutional names are linked to Marxist ideology, which is almost a theology, and we all know that theological terminology is--especially in Russia--all a form of Greek. And then there are institutions that seem to mean a lot but are in reality not important in the Soviet system, such as the difference between Premier or Secretary or President, etc. One can only admire those party members such as Trostky and Lenin who spoke with such confidence about new governmental forms, as if they had been around for decades, as if Marxist theory was transparent when it came to the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't the problem that there are dual structures--one for the state and one for the party. With everything in the state apparatus shadowed by a party apparatus, and with the party ultimately holding final power?