There are a number of general considerations in understanding the nature of leadership as an institution in Soviet-type societies. Perhaps the most significant of these is that the leader has a number of functions which are not paralleled in Western systems, because both the leader and the system as a whole lack popular legitimacy. What the leader has to achieve, therefore, is something short of legitimacy but which should provide stability. In the initial ‘revolutionary’ phase of Soviet-type systems, this was largely by coercion and, for a minority, belief in the official ideology. In the post-revolutionary `administrative’ phase, coercion on a mass scale has come to be regarded as inefficient in the achievement of goals and the ideology of Marxism-Leninism as officially propounded has largely lost whatever power of attraction it has ever had. Consequently, the system as a whole has had to find surrogates and it is in this context that leadership has come to play a pivotal role.


Armed Force Party Secretary Trained Unit Personality Cult Official Ideology 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Schöpflin

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