chapter  9
17 Pages

Local government and participation

The slogan of ‘all power to the soviets’ was one of the most effective in the Bolsheviks’ political armoury in 1917. Nevertheless, following the July events of that year, when Bolshevik dominance in the soviets seemed unattainable, the slogan was shelved. It appeared that the soviets were dispensable in the Bolshevik vision of the future. In October 1917 Trotsky led the Bolsheviks to military victory in Petrograd and only then presented the second Congress of Soviets with a fait accompli. The soviets became the basis of the legitimacy of Bolshevik rule but soon lost any residue of autonomy. Within five years of the Bolsheviks coming to power no representatives of other parties remained in them. The soviets were transformed from revolutionary organisations into the kernel of the administrative system. The party continued to rule in their name, accompanied by periodic attempts to ‘revive’ them, particularly under Khrushchev and Gorbachev.