Quotes and Excerpts - Reinventing the World

Excerpts from :

The Soviet System of Control

From The Encyclopedia Britannica (Chicago: William Benton, 1968).

See also Community Oriented Policing and Marks and Masks of Socialism

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“'In our state, naturally, there can be no place for freedom of speech, press, and so on for the foes of socialism,' wrote Andrei Vishinsky in The Law of the Soviet State.  The test in a totalitarian state was not whether the publication was treasonable or seditious, but whether it tended to advance official ideology."  (Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. 5, page 164)

"In his pamphlet entitled 'A great Beginning' Lenin.... wrote that a characteristic feature of our building socialism are different social relations. What are the social relations in capitalist countries? ... . This different type of social relations, the power of the Soviets, creates conditions for the masses' work... and it is only within that social bond that the creative force of the masses is born..." Nadezhda Krupskaya, On Labour-Oriented Education and Instruction, page 75. See Soviet Education in the 1930s compared to U.S. Education in 2001


 Communism: "a term used to denote systems of social organization based upon common property, or an equal distribution of income and wealth.....

     "Marx did not find the basis for the communist movement in religious or ethical assumptions but in the new social sciences. Living in the century of confident faith in science and of a rapid industrial revolution, he claimed as a disciple of Georg Hegel an infallible certainty for his analyses of the historical forces at work in society. He regarded the changing economic structure as the foundation of social life."  (Br 6-205)


The system of Soviet control: "Organization of communist parties was everywhere hierarchical, there being an organization for the state as a as a whole, several intermediate bodies at provincial and county levels, and primary organizations at the bottom. Each level sent representatives to the next higher level. No direct election of representatives to the supreme congress was provided....

       "An All-Union Congress with its Central Committee and auditing commission was placed at the top of the Soviet party hierarchy. ....

        "The Central Committee carried the major burden of party work in its meetings, required at intervals of not more than six months. It named members of its three agencies designed to sit in perpetual session.

  1. The first, the Politburo [executive committee and chief policy making body of the Communist party], directed the work of the Central Committee and in fact initiated party policy.

  2. The second, the Secretariat, appointed the men to execute policy at lower levels and conducted the paper work of the party.

  3. The third, the Commission of Party Control, verified fulfillment of party decisions and instituted disciplinary proceedings again violators....

         "At the bottom, membership was grouped in primary party organizations, sometimes known as "cells," stemming from the instruments designed prior to the Revolution to infiltrate and undermine the tsar's government. These cells were organized in factories, villages, collective farms, educational institutions, and units of the armed forces." (Br 6-214-215)


"Important changes were made in the composition of the Council of Ministers in October 1965, as well as in the party's Politburo and Secretariat in April.... The Congress decided that the party's Presidium [Presidium of the Supreme Soviet?] (name introduced by Stalin in 1952) should revert to being styled Politburo, and 'first secretary' to 'secretary general.'" (Br 22-530)


the supreme soviet"Under the 1936 constitution, the all-Union Congress of Soviets was replaced by the Supreme Soviet, a nominally new body which exercises exclusively the legislative power of the USSR." (Br 22-532)


The council of Ministers"This council is defined by the constitution as "the highest executive and administrate organ of the state power of the USSR.' It is accountable to the Supreme Soviet or, in the intervals between sessions of the Supreme Soviet, to the Presidium.. ... The Council of Ministers is appointed by the Supreme Soviet...." (Br 22-532)


Local Government"In the Soviet Union, local government is carried out through an extensive network of soviets.... Considerable importance is attached to these soviets, not only as local organs of administration and government, but also because they involve wide participation by the population in the work of the party and the government at all elves and provide training in administration.....

      "Each soviet elects its own chairman, deputy chairman, and secretary, who together form the executive which is responsible both the to the local soviet which elected them and also to the executive of the next superior local soviet.

      "The power of the local soviets are to direct the work of the organs of administration subordinate to them, to ensure the maintenance e of public order, the observance of the laws, and the protection of the rights of the citizens, to direct local economic and cultural affairs, ha to draw up local budgets."

(Br 22-533)


Soviet Constitution"On Dec. 5, 1936, the All-Union Congress of Soviets adopted a new constitution... considerably broader in scope, and containing chapters dealing with such matters as social structure, the courts and the procurator's office, the fundamental rights and duties of citizens and the electoral system. This 1936 constitution, it was claimed, gave the country a democratic form of government, although it was snot democracy as understood in the United Kingdom and the United States. In 1962 the Supreme Soviet appointed a committee to draft a new constitution which would 'raise socialist democracy to a still higher level." (Br 22-532)


Supporting Organizations: "The youth of the Soviet Union has been influenced by the party through three youth organizations specializing in your people of three age groups.... the All-Union Leninist Communist League of Youth, known as Komsomols [ages 14-26], the Pioneers [10-15], and the Little Octobrists.... Members of the Pioneers were to be organized in brigades, attached to the local Komsomol cells. One member of this cell was to be the brigade leader.

      "The organization for the very young children, called the Little Octobrists, was re-created in 1957 to provide politically directed recreation of children prior to entry into the Pioneers. In 1967 it had 15,000,000 members."  (Br 6-215)


Soviets (councils): "a policy-making and administrative agency established at various levels of government in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under the direction of the Communist Party.

     Soviets were organized in the 1905 by Marxist-stimulated intellectual in Russian cities as strike committees to coordinate worker opposition to tsarist policies. Suppressed after the 1905 revolution, soviets of workers and soldiers were reestablished by leftwing political leaders to influence governmental policy on the tsar's abdication in March 1917. Lenin demanded that they assume power when he returned from exile in April 1917

     A national federation of soviets was created in June 1917, but moderate leftist held control until November. After seizure of power, Lenin turned to a congress of deputies of local soviets to provide a semblance of popular purport for Bolshevik leadership. By the spring of 1918, he had control, and thereafter the various soviets became unchallenged instruments of Bolshevik policy.

      Structurally, soviets were large assemblies elected at village, city, county, province, republic, and all-union levels. From 1917 to 1936, the franchise was denied employers of labor for profit, private merchants, rentiers, priests, and monks.

      The 1936 constitution opened the franchise to all on a secret ballot, but in practice the one-candidate election was continued, permitting citizens only to accept or reject candidates n0minated by professional groups under Communist Party direction. Soviets chose executive committees, called councils of ministers, at republic and all-union levels, to supervise administrative departments.

     Local soviets operated public housing, local transportation and industry, schools, and health facilities. They approved economic plans and budgets. No critical debate or adverse votes occurred because deputies wee largely Communist Party members bound to resolve disputes privately." (Br 20-1031-2)


Rights: "Civil rights as defined in the USSR Constitution of 1936 provided the primary example of the soviet approach. Guarantees of freedom of speech, press, and assembly were limited to such exercise as might strengthen Socialism. Judicial practice indicated that speech evoking hostility to Soviet authority on grounds of disagreement with eh elements of social order declared by the constitution as fundamental to Socialism-- such as state ownership of the productive resources, collectivization of agriculture, the one-party political system, and equality of races-- was punished as a crime against the state if intent to disrupt the system was found. (Br 20-1034)


Rights: "The freedom if speech, of the press, of assembly, of street processions and demonstrations, formally  guaranteed by the constitution), has never been interpreted as allowing any criticism of the party or of its leaders. The party wields its powers through its Central Committee and through the Politburo and its Secratariat." (Br 22-533)


Revolution “for the people”:  "The Soviet represented primarily the working class of the capital but could in a wider sense speak for the industrial workers of all Russia; and, as its ranks were swollen by the arrival of socialists released from prison or returned from exile, it became a sort of parliament of Russian socialism, from the Socialist-Revolutionaries to the Bolsheviks." (Br. 19. 814)


"Lenin... wanted power, and he now saw a way to win it. In a bourgeois republic, with a parliamentary system of government, his prospects would not be good. ... The soviets on the other hand, were a very different forum. Their members were not trained politicians, but the masses from the factories and from the armed forces. Through the soviets, for the first time, the masses were being brought into political life-- the raw material to be molded by an audacious leader. In the soviets, votes were taken  not according to fixed party allegiances but according to the momentary passions of the workers and soldiers. ...  The greater the authority given t o the soviets, the better his chances of seizing power. Hence his slogan 'all power to the soviets.'"  (Br. 19. 815)


      "In the soviets the Bolsheviks were at first a small minority. But once Lenin had converted his party to his views, the Bolsheviks in the soviets adopted unrestrainedly demagogic slogans. They stood, they said, for peace at once, land reform a once, workers' control of the factories at once, self-determination for the Non-Russian peoples at once...."   (Br. 19. 815)


"The first crisis of the Provisional Government came at the end of 'April 1917, on the war issue... Milyukov ... stated that Russia remained faithful to wartime agreements and intended to pursue the war to victory. .... The leaders of the soviet organized mass demonstrations against war...

    "The result was that Milyukov and the minister of war... resigned on May 15 and a new coalition was formed including the Socialist-Revolutionary leader V. M. Chernov.... The April-May events were important not only because the right wing of the Provisional Government was forced out of power, but because they showed that the government was being forced in effect into a position or responsibility to the soviet."  (Br. 19. 815-816)


Soviet: a local council with certain powers of local administration... part of a hierarchy of soviets culminating in the Supreme Soviet

"Participatory Democracy"

The World Social Forum - Charter of Principles: "The World Social Forum is a world process.... It upholds respect for Human Rights, the practices of real democracy, participatory democracy, peaceful relations, in equality and solidarity...."


Anti-Social Studies: [The revolutionary aims of the National Council for Social Studies (NCSS)]. "The leaders of this 26,000-member organization of teachers of history, sociology, geography, political science, psychology, and economics ... were sure the [9-11] attacks would provide the excuse Americans wanted to indulge their reflexive racism and 'revenge-oriented ideology'.... At the organization's national conference in November, keynote speaker James Loewen... warned against patriotic displays like the singing of 'God Bless America.' 'The Swedes,' he noted, 'the Kenyans don't think God blesses America over all other countries.' ....

       "Responding to a teacher who said her students had been wanting to know more about American history since the attacks, he said, 'We need to de-exceptionalize the United States....  These are the folks responsible for passing on 'the content knowledge, intellectual skills, and civic values necessary for fulfilling the duties of citizenship in a participatory democracy.'... [See Reinventing the World]

      "Until recent years, however, the education establishment did encourage the nation's kids to think of themselves as niche Americans -- Asian Americans, African Americans, and so on. Now, this familiar multiculturalism has begun to give way to something known as 'global studies,' a sprawling discipline that encompasses world history, current events, world religions, geography, ecology, and world economics....

     "So if the NCSS has its way, young Americans will graduate from high school with a few hazy ideas about equality and freedom of speech, but almost no knowledge of their country's past. They'll be more likely to get teary-eyed at 'We Are the World' than 'The Star-Spangled Banner.'" See The International Agenda. Even more tragic, the global church movement seems to be heading in the same direction



Art: Exemplified by statue called “Worker and Woman Collective Farmer” which shows strong man and women framers raising the hammer and sickle high in triumph.


Totalitarian Democracy: goes back to the period of the French Revolution and the ideas of economic democracy which emerged as a phase of the revolutionary movement. Although revolutionists were mainly preoccupied with the problem of legal equality, a minority wing claimed that economic equality was also a basic right of man. The Revolution would be meaningless unless joined by a transformation of existing economic order. This tradition found its most effective expression in the works of Karl Marx. To him, economic inequality made democracy impossible. To establish democracy, the proletariat must overthrow the bourgeois state and lay the foundations of a truly classless society. “This is the great unfinished business of the democratic revolution. Economic equality is the essence of democracy.

Lenin saw minorities as the true agents of revolutionary action. His totalitarian democracy, exemplified by the Soviet constitution of 1936. It negates traditional western democracy and makes Communist goals and ideology the standard for political approval. 

A selective elite was kept under close supervision and discipline by the smaller elite at the top—guaranteeing the success of the revolution by putting total authority in the hands of a small groups of its most ardent and able supporters.


Education: Bolshevik education policy meant abolition of illiteracy, the establishment of institutes to train teachers, and disassociation of education from the church. The character of education was drastically changed. Initially, all forms of discipline, homework, and examination were forbidden. Pupils took part in soviets which were responsible for running the school. Teachers were told to eradicate all traces of the old philosophies and instilling Communist ideas of education. (Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp. 538)

            Education was permeated by soviet ideology and harnessed to the goals of the Communist party. “Our schools must give our youth the foundations of knowledge, of ability to work out themselves the Communist outlook. It must make educated people of them,” said Lenin.(Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp. 22, 538)


Censorship:  “In our state, naturally, there can be no place for freedom of speech, press, and so on for the foes of socialism,” wrote Andrei Vishinsky in The Law of the Soviet State.  The test in a totalitarian state was not whether the publication was treasonable or seditious, but whether it tended to advance official ideology.  (Encyclopaedia Britannica, pp. 5, 164)


See also Facilitating permanent social change and

Using Dissatisfaction (a crisis) for social transformation