Courtesy Reuters

The Soviet State Fails to Wither

ONE could hardly imagine a less sensational headline than the title of this article. It is as though during a long, severe winter a newspaper had come out with the headline "Cold Weather Fails to Melt Snow." In Russia is a state whose ruler has greater and more unlimited power than has the premier, president or monarch of any other modern country. The state controls a greater range of human activity than any before in history. It has none of the traditional safeguards for control of the government by the people. No parliamentary opposition to the régime has ever existed. There is no protection for the individual in the courts against the arbitrary power of the state. There is an immense police force to insure internal control. The government has one of the greatest and most powerful armies of all time at its disposal. Surely it must be pure insanity to contemplate the possibility of the withering away of the Soviet state!

In the face of the complete contradiction between doctrine and reality, however, the orthodox Marxist dogma of the disappearance of the state under Communism has never been abandoned by the Communist Party. On the contrary, after a lull during the war and the immediate postwar period, the doctrine is once more the occasion of discussion and official statements of policy. One of the most comprehensive of these statements appeared as a leading editorial article in Izvestia of October 12, 1951, with the headline "The Socialist State--Mighty Instrument For Building Communism."[i] Other articles dealing with related subjects continue to appear in the Soviet press.

One must ask why these articles appear at all, and why they appear at this time? Why is there interest in a subject which seems to have so little to do with actuality? Indeed, why do the rulers of the Soviet state allow this subject to be mentioned, since it would seem to be so embarrassing to them? The answer must be found, in the first instance,

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