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Soviet Dissent under Khrushchev: An Analytical Study

Robert M. Cutler

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This article surveys existing concepts of dissent and opposition and clarifies their implications for the definition of the Soviet political system. It defines the Soviet political system to comprise elite, regime, and community sectors; specifies the political roles composing each sector; and considers intersectoral relationships as the structure of the Soviet political system. Three major structural changes, defined in terms of such interrelationships and specified in terms of the actual policies themselves, subsume the policies introduced during the Khrushchev period. These policies (and the structural changes they signify) are continually related to their effects on various modalities of political dissent, thereby showing how particular structural changes gave rise to particular dissident issues within particular political sectors. Its key predictions for the post-Brezhnev era were borne out by events. There are 67 explanatory and bibliographical notes incorporating sources and studies in English and French, as well as two Tables.
  1. The Analytical Framework
  2. The Transformations in Soviet Political Structure under Khrushchev
  3. Conclusion
  4. Prospect: Soviet Politics and the Future of Soviet Dissent
Suggested citation for this webpage:
Robert M. Cutler, "Soviet Dissent under Khrushchev: An Analytical Study" [abstract of article in Comparative Politics, 13, no. 1 (October 1980): 15–35], available at ⟨http://www.robertcutler.org/ar80cpx.htm⟩, accessed 25 February 2018.

[Key Predictive Excerpt]

[From] 4. Prospect: Soviet Politics and the Future of Soviet Dissent

[ page 31 ]

… If the [post-Brezhnev] elite would wish to integrate the community [i.e., the mass public] into the regime as fully as possible, the only efficacious move would be to reinforce popular channels of participation and to increase the regime's responsiveness to them. In spite of the enhanced strength of the regime sector vis-à-vis the elite (and, within the latter, of the Central Committee vis-à-vis the Politburo),[64] such a development would probably not imperil the leading role of the

[ page 32 ]

Politburo in the Party. The leading role of the Party in society, on the other hand, could then be threatened by the evolution of regime-community relations in Soviet central Asia.

The attitudes of regime-sector role occupants are important and may even tip the balance; they are not, however, homogeneous.[65] If behavioral patterns observed in Western polities are also valid in the Soviet Union, then we can predict (1) with some certainty that the receptivity to community-level participation will increase as generational turnover proceeds in the CPSU apparat below the Central Committee level,[66] and (2) with even greater certainty that such receptivity will be enhanced if new recruits to key regime-sector roles have training not in engineering or other technical specialties but in the social sciences and humanities.[67] … The attitudes of such key personnel as obkom first secretaries, concerning responsiveness to participation in different issue areas, depends at least in part upon the decisions of the future elite concerning pre− and post–recruitment criteria for advancement within the CPSU.

[ page 35 ]


[Note 64]. Hough goes so far as to suggest that "unwritten constitutional restraints of the type found in Great Britain are slowly beginning to develop in the Soviet Union." Hough and Merle Fainsod, How the Soviet Union is Governed (Cambridge, [Mass.], 1979), p. 555.

[Note 65]. See Stewart, "Diversity and Adaptation in Soviet Political Culture: The Attitudes of the Soviet Political Elite," in Jane P. Shapiro and Peter J. Potichnyj, eds. Change and Adaptation in Soviet and East European Politics (New York, 1976), pp. 18–39.

[Note 66]. See Putnam, "The Political Attitudes of Senior Civil Servants in Britain, Germany, and Italy," British Journal of Political Science, 3 (July 1973), 257–90.

[Note 67]. See Putnam, "Elite Transformation in Advanced Industrial Societies: An Empirical Assessment of the Theory of Technocracy," Comparative Political Studies, 10 (October 1977), 383–412.

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Text: Copyright © The City University of New York
First Web-published: 03 November 1996
Content last modified: 03 November 1996
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This document address (URL): http://www.robertcutler.org/ar80cpx.htm
Format last tweaked: 23 October 2014
You accessed this page: 25 February 2018