In This Review

Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class
Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class
By Michael Voslensky
455 pp, Doubleday, 1984

A clinical dissection of the Soviet system, in which a group of managers and bureaucrats (some 1.5 percent of the population) are engaged in ceaseless political maneuvering among themselves while maintaining total power, as a privileged class, over all the others. The author, who left the Soviet Union in 1977, follows his argument to its logical conclusion: the impossibility of basic change, either toward liberalization of the internal order or toward modification of an aggressive foreign policy. This study of Soviet experience since Lenin evokes Milovan Djilas's analysis of the "new class" published some 30 years ago; appropriately, Djilas contributes a brief preface to the book.