Talk:1936 Soviet Constitution

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TotallyDisputed tag[edit]

Wow. So the USSR under Stalin was a thriving democracy? Puhlease! "In addition, the Constitution recognized collective social and economic rights not provided by constitutions in capitalist countries at that time..." Although I'm sure that people who believe in Stalinism (there are still some, right?) would buy this, it's an extreme POV -- I suspect the vast majority of wikipedians would not buy this depiction of Stalinism as a worker's paradise. I'm not saying that a pro-USSR POV has no place on WP, but this article totally fails to present any balancing point of view. Of course one could protest that this article is simply describing what the constitution said, rather than how it (wasn't) implemented in reality. But that omission still constitutes a very extreme POV.--Bcrowell 01:21, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

This article is about the constitution of the soviet union. For the history of the soviet union, see some other article. Should we mark up the article about your country's constitution to describe when the goverment violated it? ~Anonymous Coward

Absolutely. I live in the U.S., where black people in the Southeast were routinely denied the right to vote up until ca. 1950-1960, even though the constitution gave them that right. That fact should be documented in the article on the U.S. Constitution.--Bcrowell 01:38, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I saw documentaries that showed that black people in the USA were denied the vote in 2004. So, it would apprear that it still happens. 02:22, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Yes, I would encourage you to add such material to the relevant articles (although it might be helpful to have a more verifiable source than "I saw documentaries...").--Bcrowell 02:54, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I gave up editing articles a long time ago. It was an exercise in futility. -- (talk) 22:22, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Firstly, it's not an article about Stalin and Stalinism, but about the constitution. Secondly, how do you explain for you the fact, that 1936 Constitution not just survived de-Stalinisation of 1956, but was in force until as late as 1977? Maybe because the point was not the content of the constitution, but how it was tractated and enforced in different times? Cmapm 01:40, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Hi Cmapm - I don't understand your point about the continued existence of the constitution beyond Stalin's reign -- could you explain more? I also don't understand what you're saying in the sentence beginning "Maybe because the point ..." --Bcrowell 01:45, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Hi there. While I understand that you're saying the constitution surviving "de-Stalinisation" is evidence that the document isn't Stalinistic, I feel its not a very good point to make. The Soviet anthem boasted that Stalin "reared" the workers and inspired them to "valourous deed" and this was altered in 1977 as well. Therefore, the Stalinist propoganda, in the anthem that is, survived this de-Stalinisation as well. So, that doesn't quite drive the point home. However, with this in mind, I would say that 1977 was just as much a de-Stalinizing year as 1956, when Khruschev denounced Stalin outright. --Thomas Goodman
Quote from Hymn of the Soviet Union (bolded by me): Stalin was originally mentioned in the lyrics; however, after his death in 1953, the lyrics referring to Stalin were unacceptable. From then on until 1977, the lyrics were not sung to the anthem.

I've tried to restore some semblance of NPOV to the article, but it really needs work from someone who is an expert on the subject. I think it could use some text written by an expert explaining (1) the actual role of the constitution in Soviet society, which, AFAIK, was to serve as a propaganda document, not to lay down the rule of the land, and (2) how this constitution relates to the political changes that took place later, e.g., at the end of Stalin's reign.--Bcrowell 01:53, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Cmpam has reverted my edits. I'm not going to get into a revert war over this. It just really needs attention from an expert on the subject.--Bcrowell 02:01, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Once again, the article is not about the history of the USSR, but about the constitution. Please, read the article U.S. Constitution to understand, what should be in the article about the constitution and what shouldn't. Cmapm 02:09, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
(1) The article is extremely misleading, because it implies that the USSR's constitution was the actual law of the land, when in fact it was not. (2) I've already stated that I think the article on the U.S. Constition could use material on cases where it wasn't observed in practice. (3) The USSR and US articles aren't comparable, because the US article much longer, and is broken into lots of subarticles; for example, if you click on the link for the 18th amendment, you are pretty quickly led to material that explains how prohibition was never actually enforced. (4) The US and USSR constitutions aren't comparable. The US constitution actually is the law of the land, and actually always has described fairly accurately how the US government works. The USSR's constitution was not an accurate description of how the USSR's government actually worked.--Bcrowell 02:20, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
You are welcome to add information on amendments to, as well as more quotes from the 1936 Constitution. But don't introduce the historical background. At least as long as much longer and better article about the US Constitution doesn't provide any historical background. Cmapm 02:30, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
"At least as long as much longer and better article about the US Constitution doesn't provide any historical background." See point (3) above.--Bcrowell 02:35, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
I've read your 3rd point before. You said, that hist. background is quickly accessible through links to amendments. But there is no historical background in the article itself. So, I said you to add amendments and quotes from the 1936 Constitution and wikify them, making access to the history possible. But once again, my point is that no historical background should be in the article itself.
Sorry, I'm going to sleep right now, therefore no more discussion from myself. Good night/morning/day to you. Cmapm 03:02, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
It sounds like we disagree with the reasons why the historical background material on the US Constition is or shouldn't be in the main article. I think it's simply because the volume of material on the US Constitution is greater by a couple of orders of magnitude.--Bcrowell 03:37, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

BTW, since this discussion has started to focus exclusively on the issue of historical background, I want to reiterate the point that this is really more of a POV issue. For instance, the sentence "In addition, the Constitution recognized collective social and economic rights not provided by constitutions in capitalist countries at that time,..." is a highly POV attempt to promote compare the Soviet system favorably to the governments of the West in that era.--Bcrowell 02:54, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

It compares constitutions, as implies from your quote, not "Soviet system to the governments of the West". Cmapm 03:02, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
A constitution is supposed to spell out a system of government, so I don't understand what distinction you're trying to make.--Bcrowell 03:24, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

If the Soviet Constitution of 1936 was a hollow mockery to an exceptionally high degree, far beyond the ordinary, then that's a fact worth noting. AnonMoos 03:27, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

Ok, if we are talking about POV, then surely "the Soviet Constitution of 1936 was a hollow mockery" is a violation of NPOV as it is your view. Also, an exceptionally high degree? Please specify what this is a mockery of, it may be a hollow mockery of a form of government but is not a mockery of nothing specific. --The1exile 13:35, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
Obviously, the words "hollow mockery" themselves would probably not appear in the article -- but if on paper the Soviet constitution guaranteed broad expansive generous rights, while the actual Soviet sytem was a brutal totalitarian despotism, then this discrepancy is an ascertainable historical fact worth noting. AnonMoos 16:59, 6 December 2005 (UTC)
I take your point, and yet could this not be said of almost any government? For example, if a democracy is supposedly run by the people then why are representatives elected instead of the people actually voting on every decision. Surely that is , again, a mockery? --The1exile 17:33, 7 December 2005 (UTC)

There is no way that there was political freedom in Stalin's USSR, the Soviet people had a choice between Stalin and the gulags/torture/execution/NKVD. Tha is nowhere near the level of freedom available in the West either at the time or now (i.e Black disenfranchisement). ~Enraged Historian 03:31 5th December 2005 (UTC)

I've moved the highly pro-Soviet POV material out of the descriptive text and down to the end of the article, and added some contrasting material immediately after it that presents the anti-Soviet POV.--Bcrowell 03:34, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

I think that the article accurately suggests that the rights given in the constitution were not neccasarily enforced by the final clause added in the quote about the role of the chief position of executive office. ComradeV8 05:43(GMT), 5.12.2005

Right now, this article has all of "wording", "actual practice", and "theoretical working" in a single section. Why not start separating these three? This should solve most problems of too "positive" or "negative" arguments. -- Revth 09:07, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

possible solution[edit]

I think the whole situation can be cleared up by adding an addendum that the Constitution existed in theory, but in practice it was bogus. I have a book of primary source documents from the era and that is specifically how the issue is addressed. The authority of the Party overrode any so-called "rights", whereas in the United States, "all men are created equal" was simply reinterpreted over time. -- 18:07, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

No more discussion from Cmapm here[edit]

I don't want to revert any more, although I see, that Western POV prevails in the article now, the only quote in the article being not from the Constitution itself, but from the book by a Western writer published in the Cold War times :) I leave the article as is, mainly because generally I avoid political disputes, which are horrible in Wiki IMHO. BTW I've made no changes into the article except an addition of two external links (to the text of the Constitution).

But please, you folks, who didn't lived in the Soviet Union and perhaps even haven't any academic degree in the Soviet history, don't teach me, who lived there and whose parents lived there. Don't teach me and my parents, which rights we were guaranteed and which we weren't. Because my parents, as Soviet citizens, were guaranteed at least the following rights, provided by 1936 Constitution (which remained guaranteed to me by 1977 Constitution):

  • right for education, free of charge on all levels (including university level, with grants for students who learned well)
  • right to medical treatment free of charge
  • right to work - no of my parents and their friends or relatives were unemployed
  • right to rest and leisure, with full pay vacations and accomodations to rest homes or sanatorias, supplied by Trade Unions, annually.

Never mind, I avoid getting involved to editwars and political discussions in Wikipedia. Cmapm 01:07, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Is this version OK?[edit]

The present version has stood up for 12 hours or so. If Cmapm can live with this version, I can too, and am willing to delete the totallydisputed and expert tags. --Bcrowell 23:55, 5 December 2005 (UTC) This version is horrible in wording, style and content f.e. "From a pro-Soviet point of view, the constitution was argued to have provided economic rights not included in constitutions in the western democracies." - id did 'provide' positive rights unheared of before quite objectively from whichever point you look. "Western historians and historians from former Soviet occupied countries have seen the constitution as a meaningless propaganda document." Firstly what does "meaningless propaganda document" imply? No Russian historian since destalinisation denies the constitution was never fully respected. I think you should recover the tags. (talk) 04:15, 15 October 2008 (UTC)

The right to anti-religious propaganda[edit]

It's one of the rights granted by the constitution. I wonder if such a right was granted by any non-communist constitutions; or are recommended by any international treaties and such?-- Piotr Konieczny aka Prokonsul Piotrus | talk 18:22, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Stalin and the New Constitution of the Socialist State[edit]

Stalin’s great moment when he first appeared as leader of the whole Soviet people was when, as Chairman of the Constitutional Commission, he presented the new Constitution of the Socialist State. A commission of thirty-one of the country’s ablest historians, economists, and political scientists had been instructed to create “the world’s most democratic constitution” with the most accurate machinery yet devised for obtaining “the will of the people.” They spent a year and a half in detailed study of every past constitution in the world, not only of governments but of trade unions and voluntary societies. The draft that they prepared was then discussed by the Soviet people for several months in more than half a million meetings attended by 36,500,000 people. The number of suggested amendments that reached the Constitutional Commission from the popular discussions was 154,000. Stalin himself is known to have read tens of thousands of the people’s letters.
Two thousand people sat in the great white hall of the Kremlin Palace when Stalin made his report to the Congress of Soviets. Below me, where I sat in the journalists’ box, was the main floor filled with the Congress deputies; around me in the loges sat the foreign diplomatic corps; behind me, in a deep gallery, were citizen-visitors. Outside the hall tens of millions of people listened over the radio, from the southern cotton fields of Central Asia to the scientific stations on the Arctic coast. It was a high point of Soviet history. But Stalin’s words were direct and simple and as informal as if he sat at a fireside talking with a few friends. He explained the significance of the Constitution, took up the suggested amendments, referred a large number of them to various lawmaking bodies and himself discussed the most important. He made it plain that everyone of those 154,000 suggestions had been classified somewhere and would influence something.
Among the dozen or more amendments which Stalin personally discussed, he approved of those that facilitated democratic expression and disapproved of those that limited democracy. Some people felt, for instance, that the different constituent republics should not be granted the right to secede from the Soviet Union; Stalin said that, while they probably would not want to secede, their right to do so should be constitutionally guaranteed as an assertion of democracy. A fairly large number of people wanted to refuse political rights to the priests lest they influence politics unduly. “The time has come to introduce universal suffrage without limitations,” said Stalin, arguing that the Soviet people were now mature enough to know their own minds.” – Anna Louise Strong, Stalin, The Soviets Expected It, The Dial Press, New York, 1941, pp. 46-64
pjoef (talkcontribs) 14:38, 9 June 2009 (UTC)

Disgusting article[edit]

Millions died under the rules of this Constitution. Xx236 (talk) 08:47, 13 February 2008 (UTC)

Every 10 years around 100 million people die of starvation because of capitalistic societies, and every three seconds a child dies of hunger in the world. THAT IS DISGUSTING (and intolerable). The rest is "western" propaganda. –pjoef (talkcontribs) 14:49, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
Oh, please. Another apologist for Soviet genocide (I don't consider "democide" a real word) defending it by implying it's more benign than what happens in the world today. BTW, you misspelled disgusting. PetersV       TALK 15:29, 9 June 2009 (UTC)
I figured "disguting" means disembowelment. ΔιγουρενΕμπρος! 18:48, 9 June 2009 (UTC)