The Soviet Bureaucratic Elite: A Case Study of the Ukrainian Apparatus

The Soviet Bureaucratic Elite: A Case Study of the Ukrainian Apparatus

The Soviet Bureaucratic Elite: A Case Study of the Ukrainian Apparatus

The Soviet Bureaucratic Elite: A Case Study of the Ukrainian Apparatus

Excerpt

At first glance the concept of "a Soviet elite" may seem a contradiction in terms. Two major objections can be raised to the concept. First, the present Soviet society is officially described as "classless." Many Western scholars would be very skeptical of this description even on purely theoretical grounds, believing with Karl Mannheim that "the masses always take the form which the creative minorities controlling societies choose to give them." A close inspection of the statements of Soviet leaders indicates, however, that they do not take "classlessness" to mean real equality of power for all members of the Soviet society. Using typically military figures of speech, Joseph Stalin himself wrote:

In our Party, if we have in mind its leading strata, there are about 3,000 to 4,000 first-rank leaders whom I would call our Party's corps of generals.

Then there are about 30,000 to 40,000 middle-rank leaders who are our Party's corps of officers.

Then there are about 100,000 to 150,000 of the lower-rank Party command staff who are, so to speak, our Party's noncommissioned officers.

A second objection to the concept of a Soviet elite is based on the existence of personal dictatorship in the Soviet Union. At its inception the Soviet regime was dominated by Vladimir Lenin's personality, and today Nikita Khrushchev is preeminent among Soviet leaders. Whether or not either of these men should actually be classed as a dictator, there is no doubt that Stalin was an autocratic ruler during most of the period between Lenin's death in 1924 and his own death in 1953--a period which comprised three- quarters of the entire history of the Soviet state. Moreover, after . . .

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