Q: What was ‘democracy’ like within the USSR

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Communist Party International Bolshevik (UK)

Author’s Note: There was no ‘dictatorship’ within the USSR simply because it’s thoroughly democratic structure did not allow or facilitate this to happen. Whereas Adolf Hitler retained power within Nazi Germany through abolishing the democratic system, Joseph Stalin was the product of Soviet democracy and was continuously re-elected into office over many years by the populace of the USSR. Even after WWII – when he tried continuously to ‘resign’ from public office, the Soviet electorate refused to let this happen. Joseph Stalin did not campaign as an individual, but was rather represented by a groundswell in supportive public opinion.  In the capitalist West, by way of comparison, there are democratically elected four or five year dictatorships where the populace is disempowered for the duration of each Parliament. Western governments have deliberately withheld genuine knowledge of the USSR so that false propaganda against it can be more easily generated, spread and maintained. ACW (11.10.2018)

A: As the working class had seized the means of production in 1917 and taken control of the political system – democracy within Revolutionary Russia developed to give the working class the best possible say in the running of their Socialist State. Obviously, this was not the bourgeois liberal democracy currently evident in the UK, as this model only empowers the middle class. Capitalism cannot be ‘voted-out’ in the UK as the establishment would never allow this possibility, and therefore ‘Socialism’ cannot be ‘voted-in’ in the UK. The bourgeois establishment would not passively ‘wait’ for an election or referendum result that would effectively handover control of the means of production, as this would be interpreted as a ‘threat’ toward the State with the police and the military deployed to counter this situation. What the bourgeois political system allows is the electorate to ‘choose’ every four or five years the bourgeois political party that best suits its inclinations, with the winner simply ‘managing’ capitalism to the left, the right or the centre. Nothing inherently changes even though the various capitalist-friendly governments come and go. This is how the bourgeois establishment retains its preferred political system (of bourgeois democracy).

The following is extracted from Chapters 12 and 13 of the Fundamental Law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1985). In the USSR everyone could vote equally providing they were 18 years (except for those certified as insane). Anyone could stand for election in the USSR providing they had reached 21 years of age. The populace voted for People’s Deputies who sat on local, regional and national ‘Soviets of People’s Deputies’, with the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Supreme Soviets of Union Republics, and the Supreme Soviets of Autonomous Republics acting as national Parliaments (with elected terms of five years). The Soviets of People’s Territories and Regions, the Soviets of People’s Deputies of districts, cities, city districts, settlements and villages all possessed an elected term of two and half years. All these ‘Soviets’ constituted a single system of State Authority. Soviets of People’s Deputies further elected standing commissions and formed executive and administrative bodies (as well as establishing any other administrative body required to develop economic, cultural and social capabilities).

Within these ‘Soviets’ the State and the workers shared an equal power and influence throughout Soviet Society. The ‘Soviets’ checked that the State was acting correctly regarding policy initiation, and the State ensured all the rules were being followed. The ‘Soviets’ listened to the people, scientifically gathered and assessed data, and advised the Soviet State about conditions and the best policy to pursue. Localistic tendencies, mismanagement, red tape, extravagance, waste, and bureaucracy were al to be avoided, whilst the efficiency of State machinery was to be improved. The work of the ‘Soviets’ had to be transparent and open to public scrutiny.

Each Soviet citizen possessed one vote equally, with all candidates elected by direct vote to the Soviets of People’s Deputies. All voting was ‘secret’ and it was a crime to interfere in any way with an individual’s right to choose how to vote. Candidates could be suggested by branches and organisations of the Communist Party of the USSR, trade unions, and the All-Union Leninist Young Communist League, co-operatives and other public organisations, work collectives, and meetings of servicemen in their military units. The public possessed the right to openly discuss the merits or demerits of each candidate, and the right to campaign for a preferred candidate in the press, on TV and through the radio. People’s Deputies retained and exercised plenipotentiary powers because they were empowered by the people (through democratic vote), but those elected had to continue in their usual paid employment whilst fulfilling this role. If an elected individual took up a post that required his or her full-time attention, then they would receive their usual salary gained from their everyday employment, whilst being granted exemption from that job. They received no extra cash.  A People’s Deputy who did not have the confidence of the electorate could be recalled at any time during his or her term in office – and new elections held.

 

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