Tony Cliff

Russia: A Marxist analysis

Chapter XV:
Liberalisation: relaxation of terror



Law Reform

After Stalin’s death the terror was greatly reduced. A number of revisions were made in the law, each designed to make life easier and less tense.

First, and most important, was the abolition of the Special Commissions of the MVD, which since 1934 had the power of imprisonment, deportation and death by administrative fiat without the participation of witnesses or even defence. [A]

On April 29, 1956, the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR published the text of the following decree:

The Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR decrees the abrogation of the decree of the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR dated December 1. 1934, On the Procedure for Conducting Cases Involving the Preparation or Commission of Terrorist Acts and the decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR dated December 1, 1934, and September 14, 1937, On the Introduction of Changes in the Existing Codes of Criminal Law Procedure of the Union Republics, by which decrees extraordinary procedures of investigation and court examination were instituted in cases of crimes provided for under Articles 58-7, 58-8 and 58-9 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR and under corresponding articles of the criminal codes of other union republics.

It is established that in future, during the investigation and court examination of cases involving crimes covered by the above-mentioned articles of the criminal codes, the investigating organs and courts must be guided by the rules of legal procedure established by the codes of criminal law procedure of the union republics. [1]

The next important stepping stone was the New Fundamental Principles of Criminal Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics ratified by the Supreme Soviet on December 25, 1958. [2] This put an end to administrative arrests and executions. Paragraph 2 of Article 3 states that “sentences may be carried out only as a result of a court verdict. This principle was reiterated in the Principles of Criminal Judicial Procedure which was approved at the same time by the Supreme Soviet: “Criminal cases may be tried only by a court. No one may be convicted of a crime or sentenced other than by the verdict of a court. (Article 7.)

An end has been put to the principle of analogy. Thus Article 3 of the New Fundamental Principles states that “... criminal liability and punishment can only be ascribed to persons who are guilty of committing a crime, i.e., who have by premeditation or negligence committed a socially dangerous act which is covered by a criminal statute.” (My emphasis – T.C.) On the retroactive application of the criminal law, Paragraph 3 of Article 3 states: “A law which establishes liability for an act or increases a penalty shall not be retroactive.”

The law also ceased to accept a confession “ by the accused as sufficient evidence of guilt. Thus an editorial in the main juridical journal says: “It is a flagrant violation of the principle of Soviet legality and of the foundations of legal science that, as has occurred in the activities of investigatory and procuratory organs, persons should be pronounced guilty and responsible for serious crimes merely on the basis of a personal confession by the accused.” [3]

There was a change too in the question of the presumption of innocence or guilt. Section 13 of the Draft of the Principles was headed “The Proof of Guilt of the defendant shall be on the Prosecutor.”

Regarding the pre-trial period, many of the most objectionable features of Stalinist criminal procedure remain unchanged. Thus, While in Britain, for instance, the pre-trial investigation is conducted by a magistrate with guarantees of juridical proceedings, Soviet regulations of December 25, 1958, make it clear that investigations are completely detached from the courts, carried out by people appointed by and subordinate to the Public Prosecutor or by agencies of the State Security, i.e., the Secret Police. The Council for the Defence is admitted only after the preliminary investigation is terminated and the charges drawn up and delivered to the defendant. In spite of these limitations, however, the situation had definitely improved since Stalin’s time. The rights of Counsel have been broadened at both ends of the trial process: as mentioned, the accused is now to be permitted Counsel from the time the accusation is communicated to him, and Counsel may take part in a hearing on appeal after conviction.

An important liberalisation occurred in the treatment of juvenile delinquents. Previously minors from the age of twelve were subject to the same penalties as adults for a number of specified crimes, and had responsibility for all crimes from the age of 14. [B] Now, for certain specific crimes (murder, causing grievous bodily harm which impairs health, rape, assault with intent to rob, malicious rowdyism, intentional destruction of property, etc.) responsibility begins at 14, for lesser crimes at 16. A bright spot in the new law is that juveniles; unlike adult accused, have the right to Defence Counsel in the preliminary investigation as soon as they are told of the charges proffered against them. Another very important innovation is that the death penalty cannot be passed on minors who were under the age of 18 either when they committed the crime or when sentence was passed on them or due to be carried out. Persons under the age of 18 at the time of committing a crime also cannot be deported or banished from their place of residence (Article 24).

Regarding crimes against the state and military crimes there is no change. Old Paragraph 58 under which proceedings can be taken for the suppression of any opposition, real presumed or potential, remains intact.

Article 1, covering treason, is now extremely broad:

Treason, that is, an act deliberately committed by a citizen of the USSR to the detriment of the state independence. territorial integrity, and military power of the USSR, desertion to the enemy, espionage, the passing of a state or military secret to a foreign power, flight abroad or refusal to return to the USSR from abroad, the rendering of aid to a foreign power engaged in activities hostile to the USSR, and likewise plotting with the aim of seizing power are punishable by imprisonment for a period of ten to fifteen years with confiscation of property or by the death penalty with confiscation of property. (My emphasis – T.C.)

Where the law proves an insufficient deterrent there is a threat of worse. As the Soviet Procurator General said to Professor Harold Berman of Harvard University: “If it becomes necessary we shall restore the old methods. But I think it will not be necessary.” [4] He repeated this statement to the Supreme Soviet, making it clear that any procedural reforms will make little difference in cases involving enemies of the state. [5]

A general indication of the overall liberalisation in the Principles may be given by the fact that the death penalty was now applied to over 30 crimes as against 70 crimes before its enactment. [6]

However, subsequent changes tightened the screws again. The application of the death penalty was broadened three times in 1961: on May 5 for the theft of state or public property and forgery, on May 18 for revolts in prisons, and on July 1 for violation of foreign currency regulations. [7]

For crimes against the state and offences against currency regulations, the retroactive principle, abolished in 1958, was reintroduced, and indeed, this served to execute a number of speculators who would otherwise have escaped death.

After the 22nd Party Congress (October 1961), the Supreme Soviet further extended the death penalty to cover rape, bribery, and certain cases of “attempts on the life, safety and dignity” of members of the militia and voluntary militia detachments. [8]

To sum up, Soviet law is still far harsher than law in bourgeois democratic states, but compared with Stalin’s time, it is more lenient and also more rational.



Comrades’ Courts and Citizens’ Assemblies

In order to deter people from drawing the conclusion that the lessening of terror and the general relaxation means licence to “deviate”, the Kremlin in 1959 introduced a new system of Comrades’ Courts.

At the end of October 1959, the press published a draft law On the Increased Role of Society in the Struggle against Infringements of Soviet Legality and the Code of Socialist Behaviour [9], and two other drafts: Sample Statutes for Comrades’ Courts and Sample Statutes for the Commissions for Minors’ Affairs. [10]

According to these, Comrades’ Courts were to be set up in all enterprises, organisations, higher and intermediate training schools. sovkhozes, kolkhozes, producers’ cooperatives, rural and settlement soviets, house administrations and street committees. (Article 2.)

The Comrades’ Courts hear cases on

Breaches of labour discipline, including absence from work without a valid reason; coming late to work or leaving work before the end of the working day; coming to work in an intoxicated condition; slipshod work or turning out spoiled goods, or causing idle time as a result of a careless attitude on the worker’s part towards his duties; failure to abide by instructions and safety engineering rules, and a careless attitude towards state or public property.

Illegal use of state or public materials, equipment or transport where this does not involve any considerable loss to the state or public organisations.

Shirking socially useful work and living as a parasite. Minor cases of poaching, minor breaches of forestry regulations. damage to crops or plantations by animals ...

Petty profiteering, petty misappropriation of state or public property, minor acts of hooliganism committed for the first time, drunkenness, bad language ...

Comrades’ Courts may adopt the following measures:

Raise with the head of the industrial enterprise, office or other organisation, or the board of the collective farm or producers’ co-operative the question of transferring the guilty person to a lower-paid job for a period of not more than three months, or to work not involving the control or storage of material values, or raise the question of demoting or dismissing him. [11]

This law too contradicts the New Principles of December 1958, as the latter expressly stated that “punishment is applied only on the sentence of the court of law.” [12]

In addition to the Comrades’ Courts a similar body, called the General Assembly of Citizens, was created. This is concerned with refusals to do socially useful work and the leading of a “parasitic existence”. Between 1951 and 1959 the Supreme Soviets of a number of Union Republics passed a law On Intensifying the Drive against Anti-Social Parasitic Elements, by which a general assembly of citizens of a dwelling house with not less than a hundred adults, or a street, area, settlement or village was to be convened so that “Adult able-bodied citizens who lead an antisocial, parasitic life and persistently shun socially useful work, as well as those living on unearned incomes, may be subjected to measures of public action in the form of expulsion, by a public verdict, to another part of the country for a term of from two to five years with compulsory enlistment in work at the place to which they have been expelled.” [13]

The sentence passed by the Assembly was to be ratified by the corresponding executive committee, the regional or urban council of deputies which was to check it.

The sentence came into force the moment it was ratified by the executive committee whose decision was final.

One may well ask why there is so much bother over small crimes when police control is in general being relaxed. The reason is that the relaxation itself, in the framework of state capitalist economy and society, leads to a fantastic growth of economics offences ranging from petty pilfering to misappropriation of state funds on a large scale, bribery and large-scale black market activities. No crime statistics covering the whole country have been published since the early 1930s, so that a picture must be put together out of bits and pieces of information given mainly in the form of percentage changes. Some reports from Eastern Europe help to give an idea of the damage to the economy caused by these crimes. Thus in Poland 144 thousand economic crimes were discovered in 1958; in 1959 the number rose to 152 thousand. [14] In Hungary the annual loss caused by factory thefts alone was estimated to be 200 milliard florints. [15] In Czechoslovakia loss to state property through economic crimes in 1956 was 559 million crowns. [16] A Hungarian paper summed up the situation thus:

Let us admit that the greater part of the damage inflicted on public property is not caused by the so-called big criminals’ but rather by the petty thieves, squanderers, sluggards. The slack worker does not regard collective property as his own, and due to his irresponsibility, social property is suffering immense damage. [17]

An auxiliary to the Comrades’ Courts and Citizens’ Assemblies are the People’s Volunteer Squads (druzhina). The 21st Congress of the CPSU (February 1959) called for the creation of these druzhina whose aim is to suppress hooliganism, speculation and idleness, and they were duly established by a decree of the Council of Ministers of March 2, 1959. The druzhina is composed of young volunteers aged 18 and over who have an acceptable dossier (kharakteristika).

With the lessening of terror the Kremlin finds it necessary to involve more and more citizens in prying upon others and thus to get its tentacles into every nook and cranny of society.



Downgrading the secret police

The relaxation of terror was accompanied by a systematic downgrading of the secret police. The downfall of Beria was followed by his execution and that of his principal associates in December, 1953, after a secret trial. In March, 1954, the secret police proper, which Beria had reunited with the Ministry of the Interior, was separated from it, placed under a “Commission of State Security”, and thus deprived of much of its power, especially economic power represented in the forced labour camps. The downgrading may be illustrated through the main personnel. While Beria was a member of the Party Politbureau or Presidium, the chairman of the new Commission, Colonel General I.A. Serov, one of the most notorious NKVD executioners, was not a member of the Presidium of either the Party or Government, and at first was not even made a member of the Council of Ministers. In 1958, four years after Serov’s rise to head the state security, he was replaced by Shelepin, a man with a much more innocent background. Whereas Serov spent nearly 20 years fairly high in Beria’s detested apparatus, Shelepin had not been part of the machine at all. He only joined the Party in 1952, when 32 years of age, and was subsequently General Secretary of the Komsomol. While Beria was a member of the Party Presidium and Serov of the Central Committee, Shelepin is only a candidate member of this body.

The downgrading of the secret police is demonstrated also by the following fact. While at the 19th Congress of the CPSU (October 1952, the last in which Stalin took part) three representatives of the MVD were elected as members of the Central Committee, and five as candidate members, four years later, at the 20th Congress (1956) only two were elected as members of the Central Committee, and one as candidate member.

Khrushchev, however, has been very wary lest people should draw too libertarian conclusions from this process. Hence, for instance, to raise Serov’s prestige, a Fourth Order of Lenin was awarded him in December 1954, he was promoted a General of the Army in August 1955, and then frequently appeared in public accompanying Khrushchev, notably in Khrushchev’s and Bulganin’s tour of Asia. Khrushchev went on the attack over the growing attitude to the secret police: “Certain comrades,” he said, “began to manifest a definite lack of confidence in the workers of the organs of state security.” This attitude was “incorrect and very harmful”, and he went on to praise the “overwhelming majority of the cadres of our Chekists, who consist of honourable workers who are devoted to our common cause”. [18]

Thus the “excesses” of the Secret Police have been criticised, but this organisation is still an essential part of the system.



The causes of the decline in terror

A number of factors led to the decline in the terror.

First, the labour discipline that was required for Russia to industrialise swiftly became an anachronism even before Stalin’s death. The continued growth of the economy could not be based so much on increasing numbers of workers mobilised from the countryside for the factories, whose labour was relentlessly intensified. There was now a much greater need for the efficient use of labour, for which economic incentives, including a rise in living standards and a relaxation of the terror, giving more personal security, were necessary.

Secondly, the forced labour camps where labour productivity was always much below that of free labour, became an absolute impediment to economic growth as labour became scarcer, workers became more skilled, and the amount of machinery per worker increased. (In highly industrialised Nazi Germany the concentration camps, however important politically, were very marginal to economic life.) The technique of manipulating the workers in the manner of Western capitalism encroached on Stalin’s technique of suppression.

Thirdly, the excesses of the terror became an impediment to economic rationality. The management of the economy was in the hands of overlapping bureaucratic hierarchies and control systems. The chains of administration in industry criss-crossed at different levels, making the set-up discordant and irrational, wasteful and arbitrary, and causing a series of tensions in the factory. This set-up, for all its irrationality, produced results so long as, on the basis of very scarce resources, the impossible was demanded from the managers of industry. Under such conditions cliques, whose members could pull strings, and the terror dictated from above against those forming cliques were natural faux frais of rapid, unbalanced, forced industrialisation. Terror kept the managers on their toes. With Russian industry’s coming of age, the method of sturm und drang in industry has to give way to more rational management. And this demands, above all, regularity, security and predictability in the hierarchical relations in the economy. Arbitrary terror is thereby excluded.

Fourthly, and connected with the above, terror beyond a certain point may well lead not to greater effort, but on the contrary to the numbing of all faculties except that of simulation, strict avoidance of any decision that could lead to trouble, and passing the buck.

Finally, the ruling class of Russia, for its own sake, wanted to relax. Its members wanted to live to enjoy their privileges. One of the paradoxes of Stalin’s regime was that even the socially privileged bureaucrats were not at one with it: Too often the MVD laid its hands even on the exalted bureaucrats. It was estimated that in 1938-40 some 24 per cent of the technical specialists were imprisoned or executed. [19] The bureaucracy sought now to normalise its rule. It was by no means an accident that Khrushchev, in his secret speech to the 20th Congress and in his speech to the 22nd Congress, confined his denunciation of Stalin’s policies to the period after 1934. Up till then the tenor had been directed almost exclusively against millions of peasants, against workers and against factions outside the Stalinist upper stratum - Trotskyists, Zinovievists, Bukharinists. The Stalinist bureaucracy had remained virtually immune. Indeed its representatives called the 17th Party Congress of January, 1934, the “Congress of Victors”. Little did they suspect that in the space of a few years they themselves would be decimated by the apparatus of terror. Now, after Stalin’s death, the bureaucracy wanted above all security, a long life to enjoy its privileges.

There are limits, however, to the rationalisation of economic relations under bureaucratic state capitalism, and with it to the relaxation of terror and the rule of law.

In agriculture, for instance, Khrushchev found that relaxation of pressure on the individual kolkhoznik would not make him deliver the goods, and that the cost of incentives necessary to spur him on after the neglect of more than a generation would be prohibitive. So in agriculture, instead of relaxation, the emphasis is on more state control and coercion. [C] Inability, because of the slow prowess of agriculture, to adopt a liberal attitude to the peasants, limits the possibilities of general liberalisation throughout the country.

The scarcity caused largely by the lag of agricultural and consumer goods causes another form of terror, that against the “speculators”. Action of this sort is easier than getting supplies to rise to the level of requirements.

A third cause of the survival of terror is the fact that although the trend towards economic rationality in industry has enlarged since the death of Stalin, it still cannot lead to the abolition of bureaucratic arbitrariness and administrative fiat in the framework of bureaucratic state capitalism with its distorted price mechanism, red tape and so on. [D]

Fourthly, the fact that the state is the repository of all the means of production, is the. centre of educational and cultural organisation, means that all criticism, of whatever aspect of the system, tends to concentrate towards the centre. Hence state capitalism by its very nature, unlike capitalism based on private property, excludes the possibility of wide, even if only formal, political democracy. Where the state is the repository of the means of production, political democracy cannot be separated from economic democracy.

Lastly, the “rule of law” does not encompass the centre of power itself, the Kremlin. “Betwixt subject and subject,” John Locke wrote of despotism, “they will grant, there must be measures, laws and judgments for the mutual peace and security. But as for the ruler, he ought to be absolute, and is above all such circumstances.” Actually the most despotic rulers have on occasion handed down elaborate codes of law. The Roman Code was compiled only after the Emperor himself had become as a God above the law. Normalisation, rationalisation of the rule of the bureaucracy, did not exclude the execution of Imre Nagy.

In considering the relations between rulers and ruled, the picture of totalitarianism as a rigid, unchanging system of government, is unrealistic. One need but compare Hitler Germany with Franco Spain or Salazar Portugal to see this. Who would have imagined that 120 intellectuals could append their signatures to a protest against police brutality towards workers on strike in Nazi Germany as was done in Spain? Who would have thought a candidate could oppose the head of the government in an election, even if this is gerrymandered, as in Portugal? If the species of fascism has many varieties, why should not the much more dynamic bureaucratic state capitalism?

Since 1938 no mass purge has taken place in Russia except for the deportation of the Republics of Chechenu-Lngush, Volga Germans, Kalmyks, Crimean Tartars, etc. [E] (no small exception). Besides this, here and there individuals were eliminated from the leadership, like those involved in the “Leningrad affair”, as a result of which N.A. Voznesensky, the chief economic planner, and A.A. Kuznetsov, the Secretary of the Leningrad Party organisation, were executed. But many deviators, even in Stalin’s time, like the economist Varga, not only were not eliminated, but even held on to their “wrong views” for months without admitting “errors”. It is true that Lysenko was imposed by Stalin on Soviet biologists, but open opposition did not cease. (Thus the November- December 1952 issue of The Botanical Journal included an attack on Lysenko to which he replied in the next issue.)

Under Khrushchev things are even easier. The defeated Malenkov, Molotov, Kaganovich, Bulganin and Shepilov were not executed, nor, it seems, even arrested. [F]



The “bloodless purge” goes on

Because of the tensions in Russian society and the need to find scapegoats for difficulties, the purging machine has not ceased working under Khrushchev, but it works differently: blood is not used to oil it.

Actually since 1953 Khrushchev has eliminated more rivals and opponents than Stalin did in the ten years after Lenin’s death. Of the members of the “collective leadership” formed after Stalin’s death, only two, Khrushchev and Mikoyan, are still in power. The rest, all old Communists, have been branded enemies of the Party. Since Stalin’s death, of the 26 members of the highest Party organ, the Presidium of the Party Central Committee, one has been shot, eight denounced as members of an “anti-Party group”, and four demoted.

In the course of a few years nearly one-third of the 133 members of the Central Committee elected at the Twentieth Party Congress were quietly dropped. All secretaries of Central Committees, chairmen of governments, and chairmen of Supreme Soviets of the Union Republics, and, in two cases, more than half of their Central Committee memberships have been replaced. [20]

A. Avtorkhanov has compiled the following table of “bloodless purges” of the Party Central Committees for six Union Republics:


Total No. of
C.C. Members
in 1958

1958 Members
Missing in

Number Replaced

























Lower down the “purge” was as pervasive. Thus in the autumn of 1955, in Georgia alone, 2,589 secretaries of the basic Party organisation were removed, and in Ukrainia as many as 95,000. [21]

The bloodless purges under Khrushchev are similar to those under Stalin in three significant ways: first, the people take part enthusiastically in demonstrating for the purges; secondly, the victims grovel before the victor; and thirdly, the “amalgam” technique is as effectively used as ever.

The first point is amply illustrated by one event, the march past Khrushchev and other Soviet leaders of 700,000 Leningraders in a “victory parade” to mark the defeat of the “anti-Party” Malenkov-Molotov group on July 7, 1957.[22]

A single example will suffice to illustrate the second point - Bulganin’s speech to the Central Committee after he was sacked from the Presidium of the Party and the Premiership. “What. then, is Molotov ... Molotov is a person who has cut himself off from the life of the Soviet people and is totally ignorant of both industry and agriculture. Kaganovich is an intriguer who proved himself capable of every sort of vileness. ... I joined up with them, supported them, and became their defender and colleague ... I shared basically in all their anti-Party filth.” [23] (The unfortunate Bulganin was attacked again and again at the meeting, as he did not grovel sufficiently.)

The “amalgam technique is best illustrated by the throwing together of Malenkov with Molotov and Kaganovich. Malenkov was originally associated with the “New Course” economic policy of greater bias in favour of the consumer, and was overthrown by those who held that heavy industry must continue to enjoy absolute priority; Molotov and Kaganovich were the hard Stalinist “dogsmatists”.

Khrushchev actually went a step further than Stalin in institutionalising and regularising the purges. The new Programme of the Party adopted at the 22nd Congress (October 1961) stipulated that office was not to be held by anyone for more than three successive terms, unless he had “generally recognised authority and high political, organisational and other abilities”. There was a further proviso that he must get three-quarters of the votes cast, but this is meaningless as no one ever gets less than 98 or 99 per cent. The implication is that while the top of the pyramid may be stable, there will be a high turnover in the lower ranks of the Party hierarchy. This gives the top Party leadership a lever of patronage based on the insecurity of all lower office holders.



Withering away of the state

Marx postulated that with the establishment of Socialism and the abolition of social classes the state would cease to exist. It would “wither away. Under Stalin it was repeatedly proclaimed that the state would continue to survive under Socialism, and even under “Communism in one country”. [G] Stalin’s theory is fully accepted by Khrushchev. Thus, for instance, one authoritative statement says: “Generalising the historical experience accumulated by. the Party after the death of V.I. Lenin, a new contribution to the Marxist-Leninist teaching on the state was made by J.V. Stalin. In particular he showed the necessity of strengthening the Soviet state in every respect in conditions of capitalist encirclement, baldly posed the question of the insufficiency of the well-known formula of F. Engels about the withering away of the state and gave a new formulation to the question of the possibility of preserving the state even under Communism if the danger of an attack from outside still exists.” [24]

The Party programme adopted by the 22nd Congress envisaged the continued existence of the state under Communism. “The state, which arose as a state of the dictatorship of the proletariat, has become a state of the people as a whole. The original Marxist idea that under Communism there would be an end to all systematic and organised constraint does not even call for refutation from the leaders of the CPSU. Above all, we are told, the role of the state under Communism is to “exercise control over the measure of work and the rate of consumption”.

But if needs as well as the amount of work done are decided by Coercive authorities, the principle of “to each according to his needs” may be considered to be realised in every prison and army. If the state is to decide the “ability” and the “needs”, then instead of withering away, it must become omnipotent, and the individual more and more dependent upon it.

When Lenin identified Communism with freedom, and freedom with subjectivity, his Communism was the exact opposite of Khrushchev’s. “We may well imagine Soviet society as a big Communist beehive,” Khrushchev stated to the Congress. “Society has become more united and monolithic than ever before.” [H]

The Party is closely identified with the state in the programme. “The period of full-scale Communist construction is characterised by a further enhancement of the role and importance of the Communist Party ...” Thus the withering away of the state or Party has no place in Khrushchev’s “liberalisation”.

Spontaneity is still the main enemy of the rulers. “Spontaneity, comrades,” Khrushchev remarked at a Plenum of the Party Central Committee in December 1958, “spontaneity is the deadliest enemy of all.” [25]



The Party: still a bureaucratic club

The monopoly of power is not less the prerogative of the CPSU under Khrushchev than it was under Stalin. Its social composition has not changed much either. And the concentration of the commanding heights of the Party in the hands of the bureaucracy is even more the case than under Stalin. It. is true that the practice of publishing information on the social composition of the Party was stopped in 1930 and never resumed (in itself a highly significant omission), but it is still possible to gain some indication from data published on the educational qualifications of its members.

While less then one in ten of the adult population in Russia gets more than elementary education, the percentage of Party members who did was 33.7 per cent on January 1, 1939, and had risen to 63.6 per cent by January 1, 1954. [26]

While 1.3 per cent of the population had higher education in 1956, 14.7 per cent of the Party members had a higher or incomplete higher education. [27] While 4 per cent of the total population belonged to the Party, 33.8 per cent of Party members were specialists with a higher or technical secondary education. [28] Practically all factory managers are Party members. [29] Among army officers 86 per cent in 1952 [30] and the same in 1958 [31] were Party members, a figure which rose to 90 per cent in 1962. [32]

Specialists in the Party rose from 6,400 in 1928 to 600,500 in 1941, 1,877,800 in 1956 and 2,300,000 in 1959. [33]

Ordinary workers and collective farmers probably do not comprise more than a fifth, certainly no more than a quarter, of Party membership.

The higher one rises in the Party hierarchy, the more scarce are workers and collective farmers. The following table shows this and also the trend towards the attraction of the upper strata to the Party.

Educational qualifications of raion committee secretaries
(Percentage of total) [34]

First secretaries






Higher education





Secondary and uncompleted higher education





Primary and uncompleted secondary education





Thus between 1946 and 1954 the number of raion committee secretaries with higher, incomplete higher, or secondary education rose from 50 to 52 per cent to 93-95 per cent with a correspondingly steep decline in the number with only a primary education.

The upper reaches of the Party have been even further cleansed of workers and kolkhozniks since 1954. Thus, for instance, in the Kirghiz Republic, 81 per cent of the secretaries of the kolkhoz Party organisations in 1960 had higher or secondary education, as against 45 per cent two years earlier; 85 per cent of the secretaries of the raion committees (56 per cent had higher education as against 30 per cent two years earlier). [35] In the Moldavian Republic 92 per cent of the personnel working in the offices of the Central Committee had a higher or incomplete higher education; 50 per cent of the secretaries of the raion committees in 1960 had higher education as against 18.4 per cent two years earlier. [36] In the Ukraine 64 per cent of the secretaries of primary Party organisations in 1960 had higher or incomplete higher and complete secondary education, as against 48 per cent in 1956. Of the secretaries of the raion committees in the Ukraine, 93 per cent had a higher or aft incomplete higher education. [37] In Estonia 72 per cent of the raion committee secretaries in 1958 had higher education [38]; in Turkestan 79.3 per cent of the secretaries of the oblast committees and the Republic Central Committee in 1958 had higher education. [39]

Party Congresses are weighted very heavily against the masses. Thus, for instance, at the 20th Congress of the CPSU, out of the 1,355 delegates 506 were party officials, 177 Government officials, 116 army officers (there was not one private!), 12 trade union officials, 8 Komsomol officials, 89 writers, artists actors etc., 251 “directly engaged in production” in industry, and 187 in agriculture. This does not mean that they were workers, but probably mainly directors, of factories, kolkhozes, sovkhozes, etc. The same picture is repeated at Republican Party Congresses. Thus, for instance, at the 18th Congress of the Communist Party of Georgia, in January 1958, there were 813 delegates, of whom 175 were Party officials, 154 state officials, 26 Komsomol and trade union officials, 67 directors of factories and construction projects, 18 directors of sovkhozes and MTS, 15 education and public health officials, 17 sovnarkhoz officials, 89 writers, artists, etc., 55 generals and other high ranking officials, 116 collective farmers (including collective farm chairmen and former members of collective farms), and 78 workers (including former workers). [40]

Other Republican Congresses held the same month had a similar social composition.

The Social Composition and Educational Level
of Party Congresses of Union Republics [41]

Social Composition

Workers or
Former Workers

Kolkhozniks incl.
Chairmen and former



























Higher & Secondary


Total Number of























Elections: still a fraud

The one list of candidates in elections and the unanimous support this gets has not changed since Stalin’s death. Thus. for instance, we are informed that in the March 18, 1962, elections to the Supreme Soviet, the results were as follows [42]:

To the Soviet of the Union

To the Soviet of Nationalities

Total Number of
Votes Polled
by Candidates


Total Number of
Votes Polled
by Candidates


Russian Fedn.











































































The number of districts in which an individual is proposed as a candidate, although in the end he chooses only one for which to stand, carries according to the importance of the person in the hierarchy; and, mirabile dictu, the masses always know spontaneously who to nominate, who is waxing and who is waning. Thus, for instance, in the 1958 elections to the Supreme Soviet, Bulganin, although still Prime Minister, got very few nominations, and Khrushchev appeared clearly as “more equal than others. [43]


































The climb to the top is paved with increasing nominations: in the 1954 elections to the Supreme Soviet, Khrushchev had 43 nominations (second to Malenkov who had 50 and followed closely by Molotov with 40 nominations) [44]. In the 1958 elections Khrushchev had 84 nominations, and second, far behind, was Voroshilov, with 31. In 1962 Khrushchev had 136 nominations, second, and far behind, was President Brezhnev with 39 nominations [45]




A. See above.

B. See above.

C. See Chapter XI.

D. See Chapter XII.

E. See Chapter IX.

F. Malenkov was appointed to manage an electric power station in Kazakhstan; Molotov was honourably exiled to Mongolia as Ambassador; Kaganovich was sent to the Urals to mange a cement factory; Bulganin was appointed chairman of Stavropol Economic Council; Shepilov was appointed to a teaching job.

G. See above.

H. There is a striking similarity between Khrushchev’s vision of “Communism” and Plutarch’s description of Spartan life: “To be brief. he (Lycurgus) did accustom his citizens so, that they neither would nor could live alone, but were as men incorporated one with another and were always in company together, as the, bees be about their master bee.”




1. Pravda, 29 April 1956.

2. Pravda, 26 December 1958.

3. Sovietskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo, No.2, 1956.

4. Yale Law Journal, New Haven, July 1957.

5. R.A. Rudenko, Procurator General of USSR, quoted in Chkhvadze, Questions of Codification of Soviet Legislation in the Work of the Sixth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, Sovietskoe Gosudarstvo i Pravo, No.3, 1957.

6. V. Gsovski, Revision of the Criminal Law in Soviet Society, edited by A. Inkeles and K. Geiger, Boston 1961, p.262.

7. Vedomosti Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, Nos.19, 21, 22 and 27, 1961.

8. ibid., No.8, 1962, Articles 83, 84, 85.

9. Izvestia, 23 October 1959.

10. ibid., 24 October 1959.

11. Soviet News, 12 November 1959.

12. Pravda, 26 December 1958.

13. Soviet News, 10 September 1957.

14. Glos Pracy, 11 May 1960.

15. Nepszabadsag, 17 February, 1960.

16. Nova Mysl, August 1957.

17. Nepszabadsag, 12 March 1959.

18. Komsomolskaya Pravda, 15 February 1956.

19. N. De Witt, Soviet Professional Manpower, Washington 1955, p.231.

20. Nashe Obshchee Delo, No.1, January 1961. In N. Vakar, The Taproot of Soviet Society, New York 1962.

21. Borba, 13 February 1956.

22. Pravda, 8 July, 1957.

23. Plenum of the CC of the CPSU. Stenographic Record, December 1958, Russian, Moscow 1958, p.338.

24. M.V. Kharlamov, The Activity of the CPSU for Further Strengthening of the Soviet Socialist State, Russian, Moscow 1958, p.9.

25. Plenum of the CC CPSU, 15-19 December 1958, Russian, Moscow 1958, p.452.

26. Partiinaya Zhizn, No.9, August 1954.

27. Pravda, 17 February 1956.

28. ibid.

29. Granick, op. cit., p.310.

30. Krasnaya Zvezda, 21 October 1952.

31. ibid., 28 February 1958.

32. Komrnunist Vooruthennvh Sil, No.2, 1962, p.19.

33. Pravda, 17 February 1956; Partiinaya Zhizn, No.20, 1957, pp.80ff.; Pravda, 30 January 1959.

34. Partiinaya Zhizn, No.9, 1954, p.10.

35. Sovetskaya Kirghiziya. 26 February 1960.

36. Sovetskaya Moldaviya, 29-30 January 1960.

37. Pravda Ukrainy, 17 February 1960.

38. Sovetskaya Estoniya, 29 January 1958.

39. Turkmenskaya Iskra, 20 January 1958.

40. Zarya Vostoka, Tbilisi, 28 January 1958.

41. Sovetskaya Latviya, Riga, 25 January 1958; Kommunist Tadjikistana, Stalinabad. 16 January 1958; Sovetskaya Moldaviya, Kishinev, 30 January 1958; Bakinsky Rabochy, Baku, 29 January 1958 ;Turkmenskaya Iskra, Ashkhabad, 20 January 1958; Kommunist, Erevan, 27 January 1958.

42. Soviet News, 29 March 1962.

43. Pravda, 29 February 1958. [sic - MIA]

44. Pravda, 31 January 1954.

45. The Times, London, 12 February 1962.


Last updated on 6.9.2002