System, Constitution and Government

  • W. H. Parker


Although the governmental systems in both countries were born of revolution, each inherited much from the pre-revolutionary past. The American colonies derived from England their habits of representative government and their ideas of freedom from restraint. The only political system the Russians had experienced was one in which autocracy, orthodoxy, bureaucracy and state control were the fundamentals of government. They had no long tradition of constitutionalism, liberalism and parliamentary democracy. These concepts were essentially the habits of thought of a society in which the middle class predominated, and attempts to introduce them into Russia had failed because of the weakness of the middle class there. They were regarded with dislike as foreign importations by the tsarist aristocracy and the Marxist revolutionaries alike: the small but growing middle class was regarded with contempt by the autocracy and with hatred by the Marxists. The foreign name of ‘bourgeoisie’ attributed to it bespoke this dislike, and its preference for liberal, constitutional and parliamentary institutions led to their condemnation as ‘bourgeois’, a word normally used pejoratively. Both before and after the Revolution the Russian form of government has shown a tendency to move towards the system of a single all-powerful leader working through a cumbersome bureaucracy ‘composed of individuals with little class identification’.1


Communist Party State Bureaucracy Popular Vote American Constitution Soviet System 
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© W. H. Parker 1972

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  • W. H. Parker

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