By Stephen White, John Gardner, George Schopflin, Tony Saich
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Extra resources for Communist and Postcommunist Political Systems: An Introduction
The most influential statement of this approach is still that of Leon Trotsky, particularly in his book The Revolution Betrayed (1937). In this work Trotsky argued that the USSR was still a proletarian or socialist state because it was one in which land, industry and the other means of production had been taken into public ownership. The productive resources of the society, however, were not being used for the benefit of all its members because the bureaucracy, the 'sole privileged and commanding stratum in Soviet society', had taken control over the state machinery and was using that control to further its own selfish .
Those who adopt this approach focus upon three key features of politics in the communist states: first, the dominant position within them of the communist party, and within the party of its top leadership; secondly, the absence of competitive elections or of other effective instruments of democratic control, leaving the party, in effect, in a position of permanent government; and thirdly, the wide scope of the powers that are exercised by the communist parties in these states, as a sort of 'super bureaucracy' superior to and intertwined with the government and social institutions such as the trade unions, the press, industry and the courts.
Peasants, for instance, appear often to have deliberated together and then cast their votes as a group, and even in the towns electors asked to be told for whom to vote and put letters, petitions, bad verse and insurance policies into the ballot boxes rather than the voting slips they were supposed to have brought with them. Indeed there appear to have been few members of the Russian public at this time who conceived of their political objectives in terms of gaining influence through institutions of this kind.
Communist and Postcommunist Political Systems: An Introduction by Stephen White, John Gardner, George Schopflin, Tony Saich