The Origin of the Communist Regime: From ‘Republic of Soviets’ to the One-Party Dictatorship

Available in Russian

Available for free
Send a request via mail

Author: Andrey Medushevsky

DOI: 10.21128/1812-7126-2016-1-92-105

Keywords: 1918 RSFSR Constitution; bolshevism; communism; democracy; electoral system; local government; party dictatorship


The origin of the Communist regime remains the focus of acute debates not only for historians, but also for politicians and legal experts in the context of Soviet legacy and the formation of the transitional Post-Communist regime. The widespread myth about Soviets as integral institutes of direct democracy still inspires leftist ideological proposals and even has significant impact upon constitutional amendments to Russian Constitution of today. The author analyses the place of Soviets as traditionally motivated institutes in the political structure of the Bolshevist regime, their impact on radical transformation of political culture, electoral system and local self-government organization. He reveals the fundamental contradiction between new constitutional provisions and the process of decision-making in one-party dictatorship in formation. The special subject of this investigation is to reconstruct different positions in the party elite on constitutional disfunctions, and prospects of legal and administrative reforms. Alternative concepts of Soviet system as represented in political debates of the early post-revolutionary period are informative for understanding of the long-term trends of its evolution and general causes of its historical failure. Demystification of the Soviet legend is only possible by the profound research of its genesis and real role of Soviets in revolutionary governance system. On the basis of the 1918 Constitutional Commission archive documents the author makes a reconstruction of the historical place of the Soviet phenomenon clearly showing how far its «democratic» potential was from the deceptive ideal as it appeared before the eyes of masses.

Citation: Medushevsky A. (2016) Proiskhozhdenie kommunisticheskogo rezhima: ot «Respubliki Sovetov» k odnopartiinoi diktature. Chast' 2 [The Origin of the Communist Regime: From «Republic of Soviets» to the One-Party Dictatorship. Part 2]. Sravnitel'noe konstitutsionnoe obozrenie, no.1, pp.92–105. (In Russian).


Fyodorov K.G. (1957) VTSIK v pervye gody Sovetskoy vlasti: 1917–1920 gg. [VTSIK in the First Years of Soviet Power: 1917–1920 years], Moscow: Gosyurizdat. (In Russian).

Gimpelson E.G. (1968) Sovety v gody interventsii i grazhdanskoy voyny [The Soviets in the Intervention Years and the Civil War], Moscow: Nauka. (In Russian).

Lepeshkin A.I. (1957) Mestnye organy vlasti sovetskogo gosudarstva: 1917–1920 gg. [Local Authorities of the Soviet State: 1917–1920 years], Moscow: Gosyurizdat. (In Russian).

Michels R. (1989) Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie. Untersuchungen über die oligarchischen Tendenzen des Gruppenlebens, 4. Aufl., Stuttgart: A.Kröner.

Ostrogorsky M.Ya. (2010) Demokratiya i politicheskie partii [Democracy and political parties], Moscow: ROSSPEN. (In Russian).

Pisarev I.Yu. (1961) Naselenie i trud v SSSR [Population and Labor in the USSR], Moscow: Nauka. (In Russian).

Rashin A.G. (1958) Formirovanie rabochego klassa Rossii [The Formation of the Working Class of Russia], Moscow: Nauka. (In Russian).

Vinaver A. (1918) Mechty i deystvitel'nost [Dreams and Reality]. Ranneye utro, 9 May. (In Russian).

Vladimirsky M.F. (1921) Sovety, ispolkomy i s'ezdy Sovetov (Materialy k izu­cheniyu stroeniya i deyatel'nosti organov mestnogo upravleniya) [Soviets, Executive Committees and Congresses of Soviets (Materials for the Study of the Structure and Activities of Local Authorities)], Moscow: Gosizdat. (In Russian).