chapter  8
19 Pages

An Effective Political Machine

WithVladimir Shlapentokh

The Soviet leaders governed society with a gigantic and rather sophisticated political machine which functioned until the time of Gorbachev's reforms. The core of this machine was the Communist Party and the state bureaucracy. After the party, the second most important ruling branch in society was the state hierarchy, which was made up of soviets of different levels. With some reservations, the Soviet bureaucracy was well equipped to manage its growing responsibilities. Though the relations between the center and the provinces were quite complex, the Soviet totalitarian system managed to maintain strict control throughout the regime. By the standards of the totalitarian state, the political police was a near- perfect institution. In 1985, the Soviet army comprised 6 million soldiers and officers. The Soviet system, based on fear and ideological indoctrination, turned millions of people into spies, propagandists of the deceptive ideology, and supervisors of the people themselves.