The Law of the Soviet State

By Andrey Y. Vyshinsky; Hugh W. Babb | Go to book overview

II
The Fundamental Stages of the Development of the Soviet Constitution

SEC. 1: INTRODUCTION

SOVIET constitutions represent the sum total of the historic path along which the Soviet state has traveled. At the same time, they are the legislative basis of the subsequent development of state life. Thus the development of Soviet constitutions is indissolubly linked with the development of the Soviet state. Changes in the social-political life of our country are reflected in the corresponding changes of Soviet constitutions accepted by the highest organs of state authority.

In Soviet constitutions we have the formal record and legal confirmation of socialist conquests won in the separate stages of the historical development of the Soviet state.

Soviet constitutions are not a program.

A program and a constitution are essentially different. A program speaks of that which is not yet and must still -- in the future -- be acquired and conquered. A constitution, conversely, must speak of what now is, already acquired and conquered now -- in the present.1

It is impossible to understand the content of Soviet constitutions and their characteristics without analysis of the historic setting in which they were developed and adopted, and of the conquests whose formal record and legal confirmation they were.

The essence of the constitution is that the basic laws of the state in general, and laws relating to the right to elect to representative institutions (their powers and so on) express the actual correlation of forces in the class struggle. When legislation and actuality part, a constitution is a fiction; when they meet, it is not.2

____________________
1
Stalin, Report on the Draft of the USSR Constitution ( 1936), p. 16.
2
Lenin (Russian ed.), Vol. XIV, p. 18.

-87-

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