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Encyclopedia > Nomenklatura

The nomenklatura were a small, élite subset of the general population in the Soviet Union who held various key administrative positions in all spheres of the Soviet Union: in government, industry, agriculture, education, etc. Without exception, they were members of the Communist Party. The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунисти́ческая Па́ртия Сове́тского Сою́за = КПСС) was the name used by the successors of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from 1952 to 1991, but the wording Communist Party was present in the partys name since 1918 when the Bolsheviks became the Russian...


Nomenklatura had more authority and claimed higher privileges as precisely the same kind of ruling class which Communist doctrine denounced in the "Capitalist" West. Some authors defined them as a new class. Trotskyists preferred the term caste rather than class, since in Marxist terminology nomenclatura was not technically a class. The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that societys political policy. ... The new class is a term to describe the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries which typically arises in a Stalinist communist state. ... Trotskyism is the theory of Marxism as advocated by Leon Trotsky. ... Marxism refers to the philosophy and social theory based on Karl Marxs work on one hand, and the political practice based on Marxist theory on the other hand (namely, parts of the First International during Marxs time, communist parties and later states). ...

Contents

Etymology

The Russian term nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра, IPA: [nəmʲɪnklʌˈturə]) derived from the Latin nomenclatura meaning a list of names. For information on how to read IPA transcriptions of English words see here. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...


Description

The nomenklatura referred to the Communist party's authority to make appointments to key positions throughout the governmental system, as well as throughout the party's own hierarchy. Specifically, the nomenklatura consisted of two separate lists: one was for key positions, appointments to which were made by authorities within the party; the other was for persons who were potential candidates for appointment to those positions. The Politburo, as part of its nomenklatura authority, maintained a list of ministerial and ambassadorial positions that it had the power to fill as well as a separate list of potential candidates to occupy those positions. Politburo is short for Political Bureau. ...


Coextensive with the nomenklatura were patron-client relations. Officials who had the authority to appoint individuals to certain positions cultivated loyalties among those whom they appointed. The patron (the official making the appointment) promoted the interests of clients in return for their support. Powerful patrons, such as the members of the Politburo, had many clients. Moreover, an official could be both a client (in relation to a higher-level patron) and a patron (to other, lower-level officials).


Because a client was beholden to his patron for his position, the client was eager to please his patron by carrying out his policies. The Soviet power structure essentially consisted of groups of vassals (clients) who had an overlord (the patron). The higher the patron, the more clients the patron had. Patrons protected their clients and tried to promote their careers. In return for the patron's efforts to promote their careers, the clients remained loyal to their patron. Thus, by promoting his clients' careers, the patron could advance his own power.


The Party's Appointment Authority

The nomenklatura system arose early in Soviet history. Lenin wrote that appointments were to take the following criteria into account: reliability, political attitude, qualifications, and administrative ability. Stalin, who was the first general secretary of the party, also was known as "Comrade File Cabinet" (Tovarishch Kartotekov) for his assiduous attention to the details of the party's appointments. Seeking to make appointments in a more systematic fashion, Stalin built the party's patronage system and used it to distribute his clients throughout the party bureaucracy. Under Stalin's direction in 1922, the party created departments of the Central Committee and other organs at lower levels that were responsible for the registration and appointment of party officials. Known as uchraspredy, these organs supervised appointments to important party posts. According to American Sovietologist Seweryn Bialer, after Brezhnev's accession to power in October 1964, the party considerably expanded its appointment authority. However, in the late 1980s some official statements indicated that the party intended to reduce its appointment authority, particularly in the area of economic management, in line with Gorbachev's reform efforts. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin ( Russian: Влади́мир Ильи́ч Ле́нин  listen?), original surname Ulyanov (Улья́нов) ( April 22 (April 10 ( O.S.)), 1870 – January 21, 1924), was a... Iosif (usually anglicized as Joseph) Vissarionovich Stalin (Russian: Иосиф Виссарионович Сталин), original name Ioseb Jughashvili (Georgian: იოსებ ჯუღაშვი&#4314...


At the all-union level, the Party Building and Cadre Work Department supervised party nomenklatura appointments. This department maintained records on party members throughout the country, made appointments to positions on the all-union level, and approved nomenklatura appointments on the lower levels of the hierarchy. The head of this department sometimes was a member of the Secretariat and was often a protégé of the general secretary.


Every party committee and party organizational department--from the all-union level in Moscow to the district and city levels-- prepared two lists according to their needs. The basic (osnovnaia) list detailed positions in the political, administrative, economic, military, cultural, and educational bureaucracies that the committee and its department had responsibility for filling. The registered (uchetnaia) list enumerated the persons suitable for these positions.


Patron-Client Relations

An official in the party or government bureaucracy could not advance in the nomenklatura without the assistance of a patron. In return for this assistance in promoting his career, the client carried out the policies of the patron. Patron-client relations thus help to explain the ability of party leaders to generate support for their policies. The presence of patron-client relations between party officials and officials in other bureaucracies also helped to account for the control the party exercised over Soviet society. All of the 2 million members of the nomenklatura system understood that they held their positions as a result of a favor bestowed on them by a superior official in the party and that they could be replaced if they manifested disloyalty to their patron. Self-interest dictated that members of the nomenklatura submit to the control of their patrons in the party.


Clients sometimes could attempt to supplant their overlord. For example, Khrushchev, one of Lazar M. Kaganovich's former protégés, helped to oust the latter in 1957. Seven years later, Brezhnev, a client of Khrushchev, helped to remove his boss from power. The power of the general secretary was consolidated to the extent that he placed his clients in positions of power and influence. The ideal for the general secretary, writes Soviet émigré observer Michael Voslensky, "is to be overlord of vassals selected by oneself." Nikita Khrushchev in 1962 Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev (Russian: Ники́та Серге́евич Хрущёв) (nih-KEE-tah khroo-SHCHYOFF) (April 17, 1894 – September 11, 1971) was the leader of the Soviet Union... Michael Voslenski (Mikhail Sergeyevich Voslensky, Russian: ) (December 6, 1920, Berdyansk, Ukraine—February 8, 1997, Bonn, Germany) was a former Soviet writer, scientist and diplomat, an author of the book Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class, about Soviet nomenklatura, translated into 14 languages and printed in multiple editions. ...


Several factors explain the entrenchment of patron-client relations. First, in a centralized nondemocratic government system, promotion in the bureaucratic-political hierarchy was the only path to power. Second, the most important criterion for promotion in this hierarchy was not merit but approval from one's supervisors, who evaluated their subordinates on the basis of political criteria and their ability to contribute to the fulfillment of the economic plan. Third, political rivalries were present at all levels of the party and state bureaucracies but were especially prevalent at the top. Power and influence decided the outcomes of these struggles, and the number and positions of one's clients were critical components of that power and influence. Fourth, because fulfillment of the economic plan was decisive, systemic pressures led officials to conspire together and use their ties to achieve that goal.


The faction led by Brezhnev provides a good case study of patron-client relations in the Soviet system. Many members of the Brezhnev faction came from Dnepropetrovsk, where Brezhnev had served as first secretary of the provincial party organization. Andrei P. Kirilenko, a Politburo member and Central Committee secretary under Brezhnev, was first secretary of the regional committee of Dnepropetrovsk. Volodymyr Shcherbyts'kyy, named as first secretary of the Ukrainian apparatus under Brezhnev, succeeded Kirilenko in that position. Nikolai A. Tikhonov, appointed by Brezhnev as first deputy chairman of the Soviet Union's Council of Ministers, graduated from the Dnepropetrovsk College of Metallurgy and presided over the economic council of Dnepropetrovsk Oblast. Finally, Nikolai A. Shchelokov, minister of internal affairs under Brezhnev, was a former chairman of the Dnepropetrovsk soviet. Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev  listen? ( Russian: Леони́д Ильи́ч Бре́жнев) ( December 19, 1906 – November 10, 1982) was effective ruler of the Soviet Union from 1964 to 1982, though at first in partnership with...


Patron-client relations had implications for policy making in the party and government bureaucracies. Promotion of trusted subordinates into influential positions facilitated policy formation and policy execution. A network of clients helped to ensure that a patron's policies could be carried out. In addition, patrons relied on their clients to provide an accurate flow of information on events throughout the country. This information assisted policymakers in ensuring that their programs were being implemented.


The New Class

Milovan Djilas wrote of the nomenklatura as the new class in his book New Class: An Analysis of the Communist System, and that it was widely seen (and resented) by ordinary citizens as a bureaucratic élite that enjoyed special privileges and had simply supplanted the earlier wealthy capitalist élites. Milovan Đilas Milovan Đilas (1911-1995) was a Communist politician and theorist in Yugoslavia. ... The new class is a term to describe the privileged ruling class of bureaucrats and Communist party functionaries which typically arises in a Stalinist communist state. ...


See also

See Apparatchik (disambiguation) for other meanings. ... Partmaximum (Партмаксимум) was a limit on the salary of a member of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. ... Criticisms of communist regimes have often centered around accusations of human rights violations that occurred in under Communist rule, particularly under the regimes of Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union and Mao Zedong in the Peoples Republic of China. ... This article is on criticisms of Marxism, a branch of socialism. ...

References

    The Country Studies are works published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress ( USA), freely available for use by researchers. ... The U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1789 by a constitutional convention, sets down the basic framework of American government in its seven articles. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... December 4th redirects here. ... For the Manfred Mann album, see 2006 (album). ...

    Further reading

    • Michael Voslensky (1984). Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class, 1st edition, Doubleday. ISBN 0385176570. 
      • Russian original was writted in 1970, distributed by samizdat, and eventually printed as Восленский М.С., Номенклатура. Господствующий класс Советского Союза. М., 1991.

      Results from FactBites:
     
    RealClearPolitics - Articles - The New Nomenklatura (713 words)
    One of the bitter ironies of the 20th century was that communism, which began as an egalitarian doctrine accusing capitalism of selfishness and calloused sacrifices of others, became in power a system whose selfishness and callousness toward others made the sins of capitalism pale.
    The ruling elites of the Soviet Union, called the "nomenklatura," had their own separate and superior stores where ordinary citizens were not allowed to shop, their own separate and superior medical facilities, as well as their own separate and superior living quarters, all off-limits to the masses.
    Where the new nomenklatura enjoy a particular lifestyle in a particular community, then the power of government is used to preserve that lifestyle and freeze that community where it is, even if that means freezing out other people who may not have the same money or the same lifestyle preferences.
    LAWSO 160 Keywords: Nomenklatura (23) (555 words)
    Nomenklatura as defined in Russia and the Commonwealth is, “Technically the list of candidates suitable to fill posts within the control of the party”(Bachkatov and Wilson pg 156).
    The use and meaning of the term nomenklatura is one shrouded in denial and secrecy.
    The nomenklatura is a group of bureaucratic administrators who have the functions of “…administration and the exercise of power”(Voslensky pg 70).
      More results at FactBites »

     
     

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