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Political Participation in the USSR

Political Participation in the USSR

Theodore H. Friedgut
Copyright Date: 1979
Pages: 374
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  • Book Info
    Political Participation in the USSR
    Book Description:

    Theodore H. Friedgut scrutinizes mass political participation in the Soviet system, examining in detail the electoral process, the local councils, and the neighborhood committees from 1957 to the present.

    Originally published in 1983.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5511-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. Glossary
    (pp. xii-xv)
  6. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xvi-2)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    “It is precisely thanks to the soviets that the masses have a real opportunity to participate in carrying out the basic functions of state power in all its forms.”

    “Why don’t you study physics instead of politics? At least there’s some truth there. In the soviets it’s all play-acting. The real decisions are made at the top and behind the scenes.”

    Both these apparently contradictory statements were made by Soviet citizens. An examination of Soviet local government will show that neither, in fact, contains the whole truth.

    Barrington Moore once characterized the Soviet political system as a curious mixture of...

  8. Chapter 1 Participation and Soviet Politics
    (pp. 11-70)

    The participation of citizens in the activity of their governments is one of the principal themes in contemporary political studies. Indeed, for some scholars, the “participation revolution” is both empirically and normatively the outstanding characteristic of twentieth-century political development.

    “In all the new nations of the world, the belief that the ordinary man is politically relevant—that he ought to be an involved participant in the political system—is widespread. Large groups of people who have been outside of politics are demanding entrance into the political system. And the political elites are rare who do not profess commitment to this...

  9. Chapter 2 The Soviet Electoral System
    (pp. 71-154)

    Election of his representatives by the citizen has emerged as an almost universal form of participation in the modern world. Rare are the states that do not have some level of elected officials, no matter how authoritarian their political systems may be. It is the one sphere of political activity in which each individual can be truly equal—and in secret elections it is an “irresponsible” activity in that no sanction can be invoked against the voter, whether the vote is for or against any given candidate.¹

    The present hierarchy of elected soviets, from the bicameral Supreme Soviet of the...

  10. Chapter 3 The Local Soviets at Work
    (pp. 155-234)

    Today, the elected deputies of the local soviets have become the most active focus of mass citizen participation in the USSR. Among the many mass organizations in Soviet society, the soviets alone enjoy the quality of universality, and can claim to be the institution that unites, coordinates, and represents the general will of the Soviet people. The status of the deputy as a popularly elected representative adds to this universal quality. Party members, trade unionists, members of DOSAAF or the Komsomol, are each part of a particular, limited constituency. Whatever their share in Soviet politics, the significance of such participation...

  11. Chapter 4 Social Mobilization and Social Control
    (pp. 235-288)

    When the Bolshevik regime was established, Lenin had before him a number of differing views of society, which he tried to reconcile and integrate. From Marxist theory he drew the picture of the modern capitalist economy where everything could supposedly be broken down to simple operations of accounting and control that could be performed by anyone. From the study of the Paris Commune he drew the lesson of replacement of the old bureaucracy and state institutions by mass public participation. From his own experience as a revolutionary he drew the ideas of the elitist revolutionary party controlling the reins of...

  12. Chapter 5 Mechanisms and Processes of Soviet Political Participation
    (pp. 289-326)

    If the findings of the preceding pages were to be summed up in a few lines, their essence would be that more and more Soviet citizens are becoming more and more involved as actors within the developing framework of local government. In this, the citizen, whether as mobilized individual or elected representative, is cast almost exclusively as an extra on the stage of politics, taking part in the mass aspects of government, interpreting and coloring the workings of the local soviet through the degree of his commitment and understanding, but having relatively little influence on the choice of issues, the...

  13. Select Bibliography
    (pp. 327-344)
  14. Index
    (pp. 345-354)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 355-358)