When Lenin and his fellow Bolsheviks seized power in 1917 they sought to scrap the existing structures of government and substitute new ones based on Marxist principles. This book attempts a detailed account of their efforts to create a socialist 'cabinet' (Sovnarkom), to elaborate effective machinery and methods of operation, and to use it to govern the country. It examines what kind of people were appointed to Sovnarkom and who chose them. It shows how elements of the pre-revolutionary system of government were taken over along with former ministerial officials. Sovnarkom was headed by Lenin and this helped to ensure its early pre-dominance. Nonetheless it was gradually overshadowed by the Party Central Committee and Politburo, and the book seeks to explain why this happened and why Lenin's efforts to reverse the process failed. The book throws important light on the origins of the Soviet system of government.
Table of ContentsPart I. Smolny: Sovnarkom Takes Shape: 1. The origins of Sovnarkom; 2. 'The first proletarian government'; 3. Sovnarkom takes over; 4. Acquiring a bureaucracy; Part II. The Kremlin: Sovnarkom in Action: 5. The move to Moscow; 6. Sovnarkom in session; 7. 'The minute hand'; 8. Sovnarkom's alter ego; Part III. Of Men and Institutions: 9. The system and the chief; 10. The people's commissars: recruitment; 11. The people's commissars: personal background; 12. Government, soviets and party; 13. Props for an ailing chairman; 14. The last months; 15 Some historical reflections.