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The Spine of Russian Statehood


Under the banner of building socialism, the ruling Bolshevik Party was transformed from the revolution’s headquarters into a bureaucratic machine, charged with mobilizing and channeling energies of society into a massive modernization program.  


The role of the party-state structures as an instrument of building a modern society should also be assessed not from the point of view of their compliance or noncompliance with standards of a “civilized” society of today, but in the context of Russian civilization and on the basis of the understanding of the historical foundations of Russian statehood. For centuries, the class of “service nobility” constituted the spine of Russian statehood. In pre-Petrine Russia, this ruling group was represented by the military landowning class; in imperial Russia, by the state bureaucracy recruited from the landowning nobility; and in Communist Russia, by the party-state elite, known collectively as the nomenklatura.

The nomenklatura carried out its governing functions in ways and by means, most of which had been foreshadowed by the actions of Russia’s administrative elites of the past. It used mobilization and centralization, formulated public objectives, and fought for their implementation with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice, by paternalism and repression, and through coercion and terror. But its overarching goal was further advance along the path of modernization. Naturally, as any other social group, it also had its own “class” interests, but the best of its representatives were capable of articulating progressive aspirations of various sections of Soviet society and of working staunchly for their realization.

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The Soviet Period


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
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The USSR's Collapse

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