chapter  7
13 Pages

The Political System The Supreme Leader As the Major Institution

WithVladimir Shlapentokh

The Soviet leader was the mainstay of the regime's power and its most crucial institution. Lacking a market mechanism to regulate the economic and political life of the country, the totalitarian society functioned purely on the basis of a hierarchy of command, with the supreme leader at the top. Many scholars believe that the best way to explain the actors of the past is to either avoid the issue of "motivation", or at least reconstruct the past using only real (observable) events and actions. While behaving as the champions of Russian nationalism, the leaders and members of the nomenklatura also claimed to be Marxists. The leaders often tried to cover their real motives with spurious ones in their foreign policy. As pragmatists and rational political actors, Soviet leaders understood the fundamentals of their system: the key roles of the party and state machine, the ideological apparatus and the political police.