Guarantees of Civil Rights

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Guarantees of Civil Rights


the conditions and means that assure citizens the possibility of using the rights and freedoms established by the constitution and other laws. The extent of guarantees of civil rights determines the degree of reality of the stated rights. Guaranteeing civil rights is one of the principal distinctions of the institution of civil rights and freedoms in socialist society. The Program of the CPSU points out that “Socialist democracy, in contrast to bourgeois democracy, not only proclaims the rights of the people but also guarantees their actual realization. Soviet society ensures actual personal freedom. The outward manifestation of this freedom is man’s emancipation from exploitation. This, above all, is the basis of genuine social justice” (1971, p. 16).

By granting civil rights and freedoms in various areas of social life and activity, the Constitution of the USSR secures a system of guarantees of civil rights, which can be divided into material, political, and legal guarantees. The socialist economic system itself and socialist ownership of the tools and means of production serve as material guarantees of civil rights. This type of guarantee is of decisive importance to Soviet citizens for actually using their rights. As the people’s material well-being grows, the material guarantees of rights are broadened and strengthened, permitting ever new possibilities for fuller use of democratic rights and freedoms by the Soviet people. The political guarantees of the rights and freedoms of citizens of the USSR are primarily the social and governmental structure of the Soviet state, the people’s power, which is exercised through their representative organs, and the leadership of all governmental and public organizations by the CPSU on the basis of Marxist-Leninist ideology and Communist morality in the interest of the working people. The legal guarantees of civil rights are provided by the Constitution of the USSR and the constitutions of the union and autonomous republics, as well as by laws, decrees, and other legal acts. For example, legislation charges the appropriate state bodies with the duty of undeviatingly taking measures for the preservation and protection of civil rights and freedoms. In putting into effect the legal guarantees of civil rights, judicial bodies and the office of the public procurator have a particularly important role. They are charged with protection of all political, labor, housing, and other personal and property rights and interests of citizens of the USSR. The criminal law codes of the union republics devote special chapters to the protection of civil rights (safeguarding the life, health, freedom, political and labor rights, and personal property of citizens). Legal guarantees are closely associated with the socialist legal order.

All types and forms of the guarantees of civil rights are expanded and strengthened with the development of the material, political, and cultural circumstances of life in socialist society. Accomplishment of the goals of the program of the CPSU for development of the political activity and improvement of the material well-being of the people ensures further extension of the guarantees of civil rights.

The constitutions of bourgeois states proclaim certain civil rights and freedoms, but usually they do not include among them the rights to work, rest, or material security in old age and in case of loss of capacity to work. However, even those rights and freedoms (freedom of speech, press, marches, and demonstrations), which under pressure from the popular masses the bourgeoisie has been compelled to proclaim in constitutions, are not secured by serious guarantees and therefore cannot be achieved by the toiling masses. The most important material means, which can really ensure civil rights and freedoms, are in the hands of the ruling classes. The exploiting classes create legal and de facto barriers against the achievements by the toiling masses of the few officially proclaimed rights. Inequality exists in the rights of citizens as a result of their actual unequal ownership of property. Bourgeois legislation establishes numerous limitations on rights based on national and racial origin, sex, religious faith, residence, and education. Lenin noted that bourgeois democracy is limited to proclaiming formal rights that apply equally to all citizens, but “in reality, administrative practice and above all, the economic slavery of the working people under bourgeois democracy makes it impossible for them to use extensively any of the rights and freedoms” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 38, p. 185).


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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