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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


The origins of the CPSU lie in the political thought and tactical conceptions of Lenin, who sought to apply Marxism to economically backward, politically autocratic Russia. Toward this end, Lenin sought to build a highly disciplined, monolithic party of professional revolutionaries that was to act as the general staff of the proletarian movement in Russia. Lenin argued that this underground party must subject all aspects of the movement to its control so that the actions of the movement might be guided by the party's understanding of Marxist theory rather than by spontaneous responses to economic and political oppression. Lenin envisaged democratic centralism as the method of internal party decision making best able to combine discipline with the decentralization necessary to allow lower party organs to adapt to local conditions. Democratic centralism calls for free discussion of alternatives, a vote on the matter at hand, and iron submission of the minority to the majority once a decision is taken. As time passed, however, centralism gained sway over democracy, allowing the leadership to assume dictatorial control over the party.

Data as of May 1989