Communism and the Russian Peasant

Communism and the Russian Peasant

Communism and the Russian Peasant

Communism and the Russian Peasant

Excerpt

The central problem of Soviet communist leadership is that of maximizing its power at all times; and its basic instrument of power is the control apparatus, which it recruits, indoctrinates, disciplines, and directs. Unlike traditional authoritarian regimes, which usually claim to preserve an inherited system of values and to reinforce a continuing hierarchy of power, a totalitarian dictatorship regards as its central purpose -- and the guarantee of its survival--the radical and never-ending transformation of the social environment over which it rules. Its control apparatus constitutes, by self-definition, a tightly organized minority which aims both to rule and to transform the great majority of the population--a population which it regards as recalcitrant to, and potentially destructive of, the purposes of the central leadership and its ruling apparatus.

In any study of Soviet strengths and weaknesses one crucial question concerns the degree of effectiveness achieved by the control apparatus in actual operation. The official ideal of the Bolshevik Party is, of course, the monolith: a party monolith which operates smoothly and without inner frictions to carry out the decisions of the central leadership; and, eventually, a monolithic society in which the control apparatus "leads" the nonparty masses to co-operate willingly in achieving the goals set by the leadership. This official ideal is constantly held before the apparatus, and the recurring and inevitable failures to achieve it are recorded through the medium of multiple controls and are "corrected" through purges. The latter are conducted continuously at a low or moderate level of fear-inspiring intensity, and, at times, at higher levels with dramatic and destructive vigor.

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