Soviet Union U.S.S.R. or Russia: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the Soviet Union U.S.S.R., the class system in the Communist government and economy described.



Despite government claims to the contrary, the Soviet Union still has class distinctions. How the Soviet citizen lives today is determined by his position in a 3-tier hierarchy: a privileged upper class; the urban, educated mid-class; and the blue-collar farmer class. In a society without private property or inherited private wealth and without great income disparities, the basis of "class" is power and status.

The upper class: 600,000 power-elite bureaucrats, 1/3 party members, who run the Government and society. Its nucleus is the Politburo-Secretariat surrounded by several hundred thousand technocrats, engineers, and lawyers. Most come from peasant origins and have less education than the recently-graduated specialists.

The mid-class: These are the specialists and professionals required to run a modern, urban society at the behest of the power elite. Most of these 2 million are university or technical school graduates and their numbers are growing daily. To this class also belong the prestige elite: the writers, artists, senior professors, and scientists whose individual talents rather than managerial positions give them their status.

The lowest class: manual workers and farmers--the proletariat for whom the Revolution was carried out and in whose name the party rules. Include here the office workers and simple artisans.

The Communist party is organized according to Lenin's principle of "democratic centralism." In theory, the leading units of the party up to the highest are elected democratically. The party rank and file choose delegates to local conferences who in turn meet to elect delegates to the next highest level until the national Party Congress is elected. The Party Congress usually meets every 5 years to elect a Central Committee which exercises legislative authority in the party between congresses. This Central Committee in turn elects a Political Bureau (Politburo) and a secretariat to conduct the party's daily work. In practice, however, power flows in the opposite direction. Delegates are preselected from the top and voted for automatically by the units below. The Politburo selects candidates for the Central Committee, not the other way around. In U.S. political jargon, this makes for a system of self-perpetuating bossism. Since any person who wants a party career must be approved by the person above him, loyalty to the boss is guaranteed by self-interest. The overriding requirement for party discipline naturally overrules any opportunity for open debate or dissension.

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