MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Organisations



Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (State)

(USSR or CCCP in Russian)

The Union was formed by the initiative of the R.S.F.S.R. on December 30, 1922 (ironically the same day Lenin, who was in isolation from government affairs, wrote one of his last letters, on The Question of Nationalities or Autonomisation). Five nations joined the union with the R.S.F.S.R. in late 1922 after the 10th Congress of Soviets approved: Ukraine, Byelorussia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Armenia, five years after they had been made independent from the Russian empire by the Russian Soviet government for the first time in their history.

The governing body of the Soviet Union was the Soviet government, elected by the Congress of Soviets, which in turn was elected by local Soviet's. The executive body of the USSR was the Central Executive Committee , comprised of 101 members. The legislative body of the USSR was the Council of People's Commissars. In the first decade after the October Revolution, these members were elected by the Congress of Soviets to these branches from various political parties, from Mensheviks to Anarchists to Bolsheviks. A decade later, after the complete destruction of Socialist-Democracy in the Soviet Union, only Communist Party members were elected to the Central Executive Committee or Council of People's Commissars of the Soviet Union, and elected from the top-down, not the bottom up.

By the 1930s, the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the Russian Communist Party transformed from being the executive body of the Communist Party to being the supreme executive body over the entire U.S.S.R., with Stalin at its head. Local Soviets lost their power as centralized planning meant a crushing autocracy and total domination by the center.

[...] By 1946 the Soviet Union was comprised 15 soviet federated socialist republics (S.F.S.R.), including 6 territories, 123 regions, 20 autonomous republics, 8 autonomous regions and 10 autonomous districts.[...]

In 1990, the population of the Soviet Union was 290,122,000 people, representing more than 100 different national cultures. The population had been projected to grow to 333,000,000 by the year 2010. The average life expectancy throughout the Soviet Union was 75 years. Further Reading: Statistics of the Soviet Union

Since the break-up of the union, each of the republics has plumetted into economic disaster and social breakdown. Russia, once one of the most prosperous nations of the world, has a nation-wide population that is plummetting. From the Socialist period of 1950 to 1990, the average population increase of the Russian Socialist Republic was 1.15 million people every year. After the overthrow of Socialism, from 1990 - 1995, the total population of Russia decreased by 40,000 people every year. In the year 2000 the population of Russia was 146 million people (a total decrease of 1.6 million since 1990), and it is catastrophically falling: by the year 2050 Russia's population could be as low as 102 million people; a decline of one-third. Such an event is unparalleled in human history. [Data from: United Nations report on 21 March, 2000: Replacement Migration (ESA/P/WP.160)]

See also: Glossary of Places: USSR for area information on the USSR, including Maps of the Soviet Union with maps detailing features of the Soviet Union such as road systems to permafrost regions to population density.


Union des Jeunesses Comunistes (marxiste-léniniste)

The Union des Jeunesses Communistes (marxiste-léniniste) (UJC (m-l)), a small but influential voice on the French far-left in the period around May 1968, was born in late 1966 with the expulsion of a group of students and followers of Louis Althusser from the Communist Party’s student branch, the Union des Étudiants Communistes. Uncompromisingly Maoist, within months of its founding the leadership of the UJC (m-l) was invited to China in 1967 at the height of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Robert Linhart, leader of the group’s delegation, wrote in a letter after visiting a commune that “this is the shining path that all the world’s hungry, all the peasants of the zone of shadows and storm will take.”

The main method of action of the UJC (m-l) was that of établissment (establishment): the sending of their members to factories to both share the lives of the workers and to organize. This ouvrieriste orientation led them to fail to foresee the coming of the events of May ‘68 and to stand to the side during the abortive revolution, underestimating the force of the student movement. Their activities during May and June were almost strictly focused on the working class, seeing the students as an auxiliary force. Their first martyr, Gilles Tautin, was killed supporting the striking workers at Flins in June 1968.

In June 1968 the group was banned by the government, but it was, in any event, in the process of imploding, as the failure to properly judge the May events had caused a crisis in its leadership. In fact, the attacks on Linhart at a congress after the events were so furious that he suffered a nervous breakdown.

The core of the UJC (m-l), after the group’s dissolution, became the leadership of the Gauche Prolétarienne.


U.S. Socialist Labour Party

The Socialist Labour Party of America was founded in 1876 at the unity congress held in Philadelphia as a result of a combination of the American sections of the First International and other socialist organisations. A leading part at the congress was played by F. A. Sorge, an associate of Marx and Engels. The overwhelming majority of the party were immigrants who had poor contacts with the American working class. During the early years the party was controlled by the Lassalleans. Some of the party's leaders considered parliamentary activity to be the chief task of the party, some members moved to trade-unionism and anarchism. The ideological and tactical waverings of the leaders weakened the party and led to a number of groups dropping away from it. Marx and Engels repeatedly criticised the sectarianism of the American socialists.

In the eighteen-nineties the leadership of the party was assumed by the Left wing, headed by Daniel De Leon. The S.L.P. withdrew from struggle for satisfaction of partial demands of the working class, withdrew from work in the reformist trade unions and gradually lost its already weakened contacts with the mass labour movement. During the First World War (1914-18) the S.L.P. leaned towards internationalism. Under the impact of the October Revolution in Russia the more revolutionary section of the S.L.P. took an active part in organising the Communist Party of America.


U.S. Socialist Party

Formed in July 1901 at the Congress in Indianapolis as a result of the combination of groups that had split away from the Socialist Labour Party and a Social-Democratic Party of the U.S.A., one of whose organisers was Eugene Debs, a popular leader of the American labour movement -- one of the founders of the new party. The party had a mixed social composition, being made up of American workers, immigrant workers, as well as small farmers and petty-bourgeois. The Centrist and Right opportunist leadership of the party (Victor L. Berger, Morris Hillqult and others) denied the need for a dictatorship of the proletariat, rejecting revolutionary methods of struggle, and reduced the activities of the party in attempts to participate in election campaigns. During the First World War three trends appeared in the S.P. -- social-chauvinists, who supported the government's imperialist policy; Centrists, who paid only lipservice to the cause of anti-imperialism, and the revolutionary minority, who took an internationalist stand and were actively fought against the war.

The Left wing of the Socialist Party headed by Charles Ruthenberg, William Foster, William Haywood and others waged a struggle against the party's opportunist leadership and for independent political action by the proletariat, for the creation of industrial trade unions. In 1919 a split occurred in the Socialist Party. The breakaway Left wing took the lead in forming the Communist Party of America, of which it was the core.