MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Politburo (Political Bureau)

The executive body of the Russian Communist Party, the Political Bureau (Politburo for short) was first elected in 1919 by the 8th Russian Communist Party Congress in March 1919.

The first Politburo consisted of: Lenin, Trotsky, Krestinsky, Kamenev, and Stalin.

Stalin, in the position of the party Secretariat, planned the agenda, provided all documentation for debate, and transmitted the decisions of the politburo to the party. After Lenin's death, Stalin had established the bureaucratic apparatus to seize power, and easily won control over the politburo. By the 1930s, Stalin transformed the Politburo into the supreme executive and legislative body of the Communist party and the Soviet government, and was entirely in command of its membership, decisions, and debates. The party congress now not only did not elect the politburo, but its own membership was fully controled by the politburo.

In 1952 the Politburo was abolished in an effort towards de-stalinisation, and was replaced by a larger Presidium of the Central Committee. This Presidium still held supreme power, just as the Politburo, but distributed that power amongst a small group of people (something like going from a king to an oligarchy). The Presidium was responsible for removing Nikki Khrushchev from leadership in 1964, and soon after revived its name of Politburo in 1966.

The chairman of the politburo was the General Secretary of the Communist Party (a post first held by Stalin, and always thereafter considered in the most powerful position in government – as it, like no other position, held immense control over the party bureaucracy).

The newly reborn Politburo was now elected by the Central Committee of the Communist Party – thus, the supreme political body of the Soviet Union was still entirely severed from any democracy of the working class: membership into the Communist Party, unlike into the Soviets, was not by election amongst fellow workers, but by the sole choice of other members in the party. Once in the Communist Party, a person could be elected to its Central Committee only by members in the party itself, and naturally only after having secured approval from the most influential members of the party. Once in the Central Committee, now two steps entirely separated from any connection to the working class, a person could elect their fellow bureaucrats into the politburo, bearing of course permission from the politburo itself. This bureaucratic quagmire was an immense system of corruption, oppression, and complete lack of working-class democracy . In 1990 changes were introduced that attempted to make the body geographically representative of the Soviet Union – one representative from each republic was planned to be a part of the politburo.


Poor Peasants Committees

The Russian Poor Peasants’ Committees were instituted by a decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the All-Russian Congress of Soviets of June 11, 1918, on the Organisation and Supply of the Rural Poor, which encouraged the practice of setting up such committees on the initiative of the rank and file peasants. By November 1918, 105,000 poor peasants’ committees had been formed and were operating in the provinces under the leadership of the Communist Party. The decree charged the committees to keep account of the food supplies in the peasant farms; expose hoarding by kulaks, and help the Soviet food organisations in the work of confiscating their surpluses. They were also to guard and deliver confiscated grain to state storage points: provide food for the poor at the expense of the kulak farms; distribute farm implements and industrial goods; organise sowing and harvesting campaigns; guard sowing fields; and combat bag-trading and profiteering on grain. The practical work of the poor peasants’ committees, however, embraced all aspects of village life. They were, in fact, strong-points of proletarian dictatorship in the countryside. Their organisation heralded the further development of the socialist revolution in the villages.

The committees played an outstanding part in suppressing the kulak counter-revolution and in breaking the economic, power of the kulaks by partially expropriating them. In a comparatively short time the committees confiscated from the kulaks and distributed among the poor and middle peasants 50 million hectares of land and confiscated from the kulaks a large quantity of farm implements for use by poor peasants and hard-up middle peasants. They also did good work in finally abolishing landed proprietorship and keeping the famine-stricken urban workers and units of the Red Army supplied with food. The committees took an active part in organising collective agricultural enterprises - cartels and communes — which along with the state farms were the first centres of socialist-type economic organisation in the villages; between the time the committees were set up and the end of 1918 the number of collective peasant enterprises increased according to incomplete data, from 240 to 1,600. Volunteer detachments and regiments for the Red Army were formed from among the rural poor on the initiative of the poor peasants’ committees. The committees did a lot towards consolidating the local Soviets and freeing them from kulak influence.

The work of the committees was of immense importance in consolidating the alliance of the working class and the peasantry and in winning the middle peasant over to Soviet power. Lenin stressed that the organisation and activities of the committees should he planned to take in not only the poor pasants but the middle peasants as well. During the discussion of the draft decree on poor peasants’ committees he pointed out the need to draw the middle peasant into the work of the committees.

By the autumn of 1918 the poor peasants’ committees had fulfilled their historic role in the socialist revolution, according to the Bolsheviks. In this connection and also in connection with the need for “completing Soviet Construction by the creation of a uniform organisation of Soviets throughout the territory of the Soviet Republic”, the Extraordinary Sixth All-Russia Congress of Soviets, which was held in November 1918, proposed the re-election of all volost and village Soviets, to be organised by the poor peasants’ committees. According to the election instructions published by the All-Russia C.E.C. on December 4, 1918, the poor peasants’ committees were to wind up their activities after the election campaign and hand over all their equipment and records to the new Soviets.



A trend in the French socialist movement led by Bruce, Malon and others who brought about a split in the French Workers' Party in 1882. Its leaders proclaimed what was essentially a reformist principal of achieving only want is "possible", which they claimed was not the workers revolution.


Popular Socialists

Members of the Labour Popular Socialist Party