Communist Party of the Soviet Union
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- "CPSU" redirects here. For other uses, please see CPSU (disambiguation). For one of the main successor parties to the CPSU, please see Communist Party of the Russian Federation.
|Communist Party of the Soviet Union|
|Image:State Coat of Arms of the USSR (1958-1991 version) transparent background.png|
|Leader||Vladimir Ivashko (last)|
|Founded||March 6, 1918|
| Part of the Politics series on|
| Communism Portal |
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Russian: Коммунисти́ческая Па́ртия Сове́тского Сою́за = КПСС) was the name used by the successors of the Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social-Democratic Labour Party from 1952 to 1991, but the wording Communist Party was present in the party's name since 1918 when the Bolsheviks became the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (RCP(b)). In 1925 the party became the All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks) (Всесоюзная коммунистическая партия (большевиков), ВКП(б)); both VKP(b) and AUCP(b) abbreviations are in use. Finally in 1952 it became simply the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or CPSU. This article follows the course of the party from 1918 until its dissolution in 1991. For information on the pre-1918 party see Bolshevik.
Once the Third International or Comintern was formed in 1919, the democratic centralist Marxist-Leninist structure of the CPSU was copied by the other Comintern members resulting in Communist parties being formed around the world.
For most of the history of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union, the Communist Party was virtually indistinguishable from the government, as it was the only political party tolerated by the government and its security forces. Consequently, the history of the USSR and the CPSU are deeply intertwined and overlapping. Therefore, it is useful for those interested in the history of the CPSU to also consult the History of Russia series of articles.
The governing body of the CPSU was the Party Congress which initially met annually but whose meetings became less frequent, particularly under Stalin. Party Congresses would elect a Central Committee which, in turn, would elect a Politburo. Under Stalin the most powerful position in the party became the General Secretary who was elected by the Politburo. In 1952 the title of General Secretary became First Secretary and the Politburo became the Presidium before reverting to their former names under Leonid Brezhnev in 1966.
In theory, supreme power in the party was invested in the Party Congress, however, in practice the power structure became reversed and, particularly after the death of Lenin, supreme power became the domain of the General Secretary.
At lower levels, the organizational hierarchy was managed by Party Committees, or partkoms (партком). A partkom was headed by the elected partkom secretary (секретарь парткома). At enterprises, institutions, kolkhozes, etc., they were called as such, i.e., "partkoms". At higher levels the Committees were abbreviated accordingly: raikoms (райком) at raion level, obkoms (обком) at oblast levels (known earlier as gubkoms (губком) for guberniyas), gorkom (горком) it city level, etc.
The bottom level of the Party was the primary party organization (первичная партийная организация) or party cell (партийная ячейка). It was created within any organizational entity of any kind where there were at least three communists. The management of a cell was called party bureau (партийное бюро, партбюро). A partbureau was headed by the elected bureau secretary (секретарь партбюро).
At smaller party cells, secretaries were regular employees of the corresponding plant/hospital/school/etc. Sufficiently large party organizations were usually headed by an exempt secretary (освобожденный секретарь), who drew his salary from the Party money.
Membership in the party ultimately became a privilege, with Communist Party members becoming an elite class or nomenklatura in Soviet society. Party members enjoyed many perquisites denied to the average Soviet citizen. Among those perks were shopping at well-stocked stores, access to foreign merchandise, preference in obtaining housing, access to dachas and holiday resorts, being allowed to travel abroad, send their children to the best universities, and obtain prestigious jobs (as well as party membership itself) for their children. It became virtually impossible to join the Soviet ruling and managing elite without being a member of the Communist Party.
Membership had its risks, however, especially in the 1930s when the party was subjected to purges under Stalin. Membership in the party was not open. To become a party member one had to be approved by various committees and one's past was closely scrutinised. As generations grew up never having known anything but the USSR, party membership became something one generally achieved after passing a series of stages. Children would join the Young Pioneers and then, at the age of 14, graduate to the Komsomol (Young Communist League) and ultimately, as an adult, if one had shown the proper adherence to party discipline or had the right connections one would become a member of the Communist Party itself. However, membership also had its obligations. Komsomol and CPSU members were expected not only to pay dues but also to carry out appropriate assignments and "social tasks" (общественные поручения).
When the Bolsheviks became the All-Russian Communist Party it had a membership of approximately 200,000. In the late 1920s under Stalin, the party engaged in a heavy recruitment campaign (the "Lenin Levy") of new members from both the working class and rural areas. This was both an attempt to "proletarianize" the party and an attempt by Stalin to strengthen his base by outnumbering the Old Bolsheviks and reducing their influence in the party.
By 1933, the party had approximately 3.5 million members and candidate members but as a result of the Great Purge party membership fell to 1.9 million by 1939. In 1986, the CPSU had over 19 million members or approximately 10% of the USSR's adult population. Over 44% of party members were classified as industrial workers, 12% were collective farmers. The CPSU had party organizations in fourteen of the USSR's 15 republics. In the Russian federation itself there was no separate Communist Party as affairs were run directly by the CPSU.
Main article: History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
With some exceptions, the course of the CPSU (and the history of the whole Soviet Union) was largely determined by its leader. The history of the CPSU since the death of Lenin can thus be divided into the eras of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Gorbachev.
 End of Communist rule
The growing likelihood of the dissolution of the USSR itself led conservative elements in the CPSU to launch the August Coup in 1991 which temporarily removed Gorbachev from power. On August 19, 1991, a day before a Union Treaty was to be signed devolving power to the republics, a group calling itself the "State Emergency Committee" seized power in Moscow declaring that Gorbachev was ill and therefore relieved of his position as president. Soviet vice-president Gennadiy Yanayev was named acting president. The committee's eight members included KGB chairman Vladimir Kryuchkov, Internal Affairs Minister Boris Pugo, Defense Minister Dmitriy Yazov, and Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov. The coup dissolved due to large public demonstrations and the efforts of Boris Yeltsin who became the real power in Russia as a result. Gorbachev returned to Moscow as president but resigned as General Secretary and vowed to purge the party of conservatives. Yeltsin had the CPSU formally banned within Russia. The KGB was disbanded as were other CPSU-related agencies and organisations. Yeltsin's action was later declared unconstitutional but by this time the USSR had ceased to exist.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian adherents to the CPSU tradition, particularly as it existed before Gorbachev, reorganised themselves as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. Today there is a widespread flora of parties in Russia, claiming to be the successors of CPSU. Several of them used the name CPSU. However, CPRF is generally seen (due to its massive size) as the inheritor of the CPSU in Russia.
In other republics, communists established the Armenian Communist Party, Communist Party of Azerbaijan, Party of Communists of Kyrgyzstan, Communist Party of Ukraine, Party of Communists of Belarus, Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova, Communist Party of Kazakhstan and the Communist Party of Tajikistan. Along with the CPRF, these parties formed the Union of Communist Parties - Communist Party of the Soviet Union (SKP-KPSS).
In Georgia, the Socialist Labour Party was founded in 1992. This party would later evolve into the Communist Party of Georgia (SKP). Another communist faction in Georgia, which is larger than SKP, is the United Communist Party of Georgia (SEKP).
In Lithuania, the CPSU was officially banned in 1991. Branch of "progressive" communists led by Algirdas Brazauskas converted into the Democratic Labour Party of Lithuania, established in 1992. In Latvia, communist organizations were officially banned and a major part of the party there had broken away in 1990 and formed the Latvian Social Democratic Party. The remnants of CPSU became the Union of Communists of Latvia, which went underground. Later communists regrouped into the Socialist Party of Latvia.
|Republic||CPSU||Communist Party of the Soviet Union||Local Party|
|Russian SFSR||КПСС||Коммунистическая Партия Советского Союза||Коммунистическая партия РСФСР (1990-1991)|
|Ukrainian SSR||КПРС||Комуністична Партія Радянського Союзу|
|Belarusian SSR||КПСС||Камуністычная Партыя Савецкага Саюза|
|Azerbaijan SSR||Совет Иттифагы Коммунист Партијасы|
|Lithuanian SSR||TSKP||Tarybų Sąjungos komunistų partija|
|Moldavian SSR||ПКУС||Партидул Комунист ал Униуний Советиче|
|Latvian SSR||PSKP||Padomju Savienības Komunistiskā Partija||Latvijas Komunistiskā Partija|
|Kyrgyz SSR||ССКП||Советтер Союзунун Коммунисттик партиясы|
|Estonian SSR||NLKP||Nõukogude Liidu Kommunistlik Partei||Eestimaa Kommunistlik Partei (EKP)|
 See also
 External links
- Executive Bodies of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1917-1991)
- Program of the CPSU, 27th Party Congress (1986)bg:Комунистическа партия на Съветския съюз
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