Soviet (council)

Soviet (council)

A soviet ( _ru. сове́т, IPA-ru|sɐˈvʲɛt, "council" [ _uk. рада ("rada"); _be. савет; _uz. совет; _kk. совет/кеңес; _az. совет; _lt. taryba; _mo. совиет; _lv. padome; _ky. совет; _et. nõukogu] ) originally was a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia. According to the official historiography of the Soviet Union, the first Soviet (in this sense) was organized during the 1905 Russian Revolution in Ivanovo (Ivanovo region) in May 1905. However in his memoirs Volin claims that he witnessed the creation of the St Petersburg Soviet in Saint Petersburg in January 1905. The councils were later adopted by the Bolsheviks, as the basic organizing unit of society.

Originally the soviets were a grassroots effort to practice direct democracy. Russian Marxists made them a medium for organizing against the state, and between the February and October Revolutions, the Petrograd Soviet was a powerful force. The slogan Вся власть советам ("Vsya vlast sovyetam"; "All power to the soviets" or "All power to the workers' councils") was popular in opposing the Provisional Government led by Kerensky.

Shortly after the October Revolution, the soviets, as organized into a larger body, formed the new basis for governing the post-revolutionary society through soviet democracy. All parties were united in anticipation of a Constituent Assembly. However, a year of debate and discussion within the Bolshevik party resulted in a significant change in party policy. The Bolsheviks adopted the position that the Constituent Assembly was a bourgeois-democratic institution, and counterpoised to it the direct mode of workers' democracy represented by the Soviets. Thus, the post-October Constituent Assembly was dissolved with the mass support of the urban working class (the restoration of the Constituent Assembly soon became the slogan of some of the more liberal Whites in the Russian Civil War). The Bolsheviks and the Left Socialist Revolutionaries together held a majority of seats in the Congress of Soviets and formed a coalition government, which lasted until the Left Socialist Revolutionaries left the coalition in the summer 1918. Over time, the independence of the soviets was supplanted by the top-down authority of the increasingly bureaucratized ruling regime, based on the strict hierarchy of power within the CPSU.Fact|date=June 2008 Despite this, the claim was still made after the rise of Stalinism that Bolshevik power rested on the collective will of these soviets.

The term also came to be used outside the Soviet Union by some Marxist-Leninist movements, for example, the Communist Party of China's efforts in the "Chinese Soviet Republic" immediately prior to the Long March.

Based on the view of the state implicit in the Bolshevik use of the term, the word "soviet" naturally extended, or consciously was extended, to mean in effect any body formed by a group of soviets to delegate, up a hierarchy of soviets, the authority to express and effect their will. In this sense, post-Kerensky government bodies at local and republic levels (but in the Russian federated republic, local, republic, and federated republic levels) were called "soviets", and at the top of the hierarchy, the Congress of Soviets was the nominal core of the Union government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, officially formed in December 1922.

Later, in the Soviet Union local governmental bodies were named "soviet" ("sovet": "council") with the adjective indicating of the administrative level, customarily abbreviated : gorsovet ("gorodskoy sovet": city council), raysovet/raisovet ("rayonny sovet": raion council), selsovet: rural council, possovet ("poselkovy sovet": settlement council).


Further reading

* Edward Acton "Rethinking the Russian Revolution" 1990 Oxford University Press ISBN 0713165308
* Tony Cliff " [ Lenin: All Power to the Soviets] " 1976 Pluto Press
* Voline "The Unknown Revolution" Black Rose Books
* Rex A. Wade "The Russian Revolution, 1917" 2005 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0521841550

ee also

* Congress of Soviets
* Workers' council
* Soviet democracy
* Council communism
* Participatory democracy
* Workers' control
* Rada (Ukrainian equivalent)

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