The Soviet State: A Study of Bolshevik Rule

By Bertram W. Maxwell | Go to book overview

PART II
THE CITIZEN AND THE STATE

CHAPTER X
ADMINISTRATIVE COERCION

PENALTIES AND FINES

In discussing the relationship of the citizen and the state in the Soviet Union one meets with an unprecedented situation, and it is necessary to bear in mind that the present government was built upon the ruins not only of a former government, but of a generally accepted system of political philosophy. The new state and new government came out of a cataclysmic upheaval that changed old Russia into a new world, unfamiliar, untried, and bewildering to the Western mind, and the reader must be warned to divest himself of all notions of administrative coercion as expressed in legal norms of the Western world.

Furthermore in the critical period of the Soviet régime, when the very existence of the new government was at stake, there was considerable confusion of authority, especially in the field of administration. The new rulers, in their desire to retain power, frequently crushed unmercifully all opponents, real or suspected. The organs having the right to impose fines and punishment were many and varied and were often unregulated by law, acting on their own responsibility without granting the right of appeal. The Bolshevik leaders, realizing the dangerous consequences of such methods, took alarm, and thus when the fourth All-Russian Congress of directors of administrative divisions of provincial executive committees met in 1920, the consensus of opinion of this body was that it was imperative to regulate the rights of administrative organs in their imposition of administrative penalties and fines. It advocated the passing of rigid regulations for defin

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