The Soviet State: A Study of Bolshevik Rule

By Bertram W. Maxwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
ORGANIZATION OF THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT

INTRODUCTION

The stormy period following the October Revolution brought with it a desire for extreme decentralization. The accumulated wrongs inflicted on the people by the autocratic bureaucracy expressed itself in a desire to sweep away all superior control. The revolutionary Bolshevik battle cry "all power to the Soviets" was soon transformed in certain territories to "all power to localities." A considerable number of independent republics were organized which did not recognize any kind of central control. It was a period of wild disorder, the pendulum swinging from extreme centralization under the autocracy to extreme separatism. By 1918, however, this tendency for local independence practically disappeared, and a period of iron rule from above followed. Civil war brought in its wake excessive centralization, with some of the evils of the old bureaucracy with its red tape and hair splitting pedantry. By the time the seventh All- Russian Congress of Soviets met, which happened soon after the Bolsheviks defeated General Denikin, the local soviets recovered enough to protest decidedly against excessive centralization.1

The seventh Congress passed several resolutions which determined the relationship of the local soviets to the central government. The eighth All-Russian Congress of Soviets meeting in 1920 passed decrees which further regulated the relationship of local units to the central government. These regulations were incorporated into the R. S. F. S. R. constitution and have remained practically unchanged up to the present, outside of detailed amendments which are discussed elsewhere. The decrees, among other things, provided that executive committees of the soviets were under the jurisdiction of the superior executive committees, the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, and

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