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1 Bureaucracy before October

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Chapter Summary

In the years immediately after the revolution, Bolshevik views on bureaucracy were shaped by various influences, including popular uses of the term and classical Marxist writings on that issue. From popular Russian and European discourse the Bolsheviks derived a primary understanding of bureaucracy as referring to rule by officials, or to a body of officials who ruled. Secondarily, they perceived bureaucracy in a variety of other negative phenomena that included excessive formalism, paperwork, and inefficiency. From Marx and Engels they inherited an analysis that identified the problem of bureaucracy with political alienation, that associated it with bourgeois control of the state that anticipated it would be reduced by the dictatorship of the proletariat, and that predicted it would disappear altogether in the socialist society of the future. However, in later years Trotsky, too, would come to perceive the relevance of the classical Marxist analysis of bureaucracy for the Soviet situation.

Keywords: bureaucracy; European discourse; Marxist; Russian; Trotsky



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