An apparatchik (//; Russian: аппара́тчик [ɐpɐˈratɕɪk]), in Russian colloquial terms also borrowed widely into other languages, was a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union or the Soviet government apparat (аппарат, apparatus), someone who held any position of bureaucratic or political responsibility, with the exception of the higher ranks of management called nomenklatura. The -chik suffix (-чик) puts the word into a diminutive attributal form, indicating someone playing a small part in a bigger scheme of things. James Billington describes an apparatchik as "a man not of grand plans, but of a hundred carefully executed details." The term is often considered derogatory, with negative connotations in terms of the quality, competence, and attitude of a person thus described.
Members of the apparat (apparatchiks or apparatchiki) were frequently transferred between different areas of responsibility, usually with little or no actual training for their new areas of responsibility. Thus, the term apparatchik, or "agent of the apparatus" was usually the best possible description of the person's profession and occupation. Not all apparatchiks held lifelong positions. Many only entered such positions in middle age. Today apparatchik is also used in contexts other than that of the Soviet Union or communist countries. According to Collins English Dictionary the word can mean "an official or bureaucrat in any organization". According to Douglas Harper's Online Etymology Dictionary, the term was also used in the meaning "Communist agent or spy", originating in the writings of Arthur Koestler, c. 1941.
- James H. Billington, Fire in the minds of men, Transaction Publishers, 1999, p. 455, ISBN 0-7658-0471-9, ISBN 978-0-7658-0471-6
- Raymond Pearson, The rise and fall of the Soviet Empire, Palgrave Macmillan, p. xx, 1998, ISBN 0-312-17407-1
- Roland Huntford, The new totalitarians, Chapter 7 "The Rule of the Apparatchiks," Stein and Day, 1972, p. 135, ISBN 0-8128-1408-8, ISBN 978-0-8128-1408-8.
- David Stuart Lane, Cameron Ross, The transition from communism to capitalism: ruling elites from Gorbachev to Yeltsin, Palgrave Macmillan, 1999, p. 25-26, ISBN 0-312-21612-2, ISBN 978-0-312-21612-2
- apparatchik. Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 11th Edition. Retrieved 2 August 2012 from CollinsDictionary.com website: http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/apparatchik
- Apparatchik Dictionary.com
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel P. Huntington, Political power: USA/USSR, Viking Press, 1964, p. 142, 150, 172.
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