State Machinery

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

State Machinery


the system of agencies that implements the power and functions of a state.

In a broad sense state machinery includes not only the bodies of state authority themselves but also such extremely important tools of power as the armed forces, intelligence, and punitive and other bodies of enforcement. In a narrower sense state machinery is often understood to be the aggregate of executive (administrative) bodies of power that carry out the daily work of state administration. The state machinery’s activity, structure, functions, and methods are highly revealing of the class essence of a given state as well as of that state’s historical role. The typical functions of the state machinery of an exploiter state include the protection of the privileges and interests of the exploiting classes, the collection of taxes, the organization of the armed forces, and the use of force against revolutionary outbreaks among the toiling masses. Characteristic of the state machinery of imperialist states is its organic merging with the machinery of the largest capitalist monopolies and the subordination of the entire state mechanism to ensuring the interests of these monopolies.

A socialist state machinery originates as the result of a revolutionary smashing of the bourgeois state machinery, and it is in principle a new historical type of state machinery—an apparatus that is genuinely popular both in its class composition and in its societal functions. It is principally concerned with innovative, organizationally creative tasks such as the building of a new and socialist economy, the achievement of the greatest possible productivity of social labor, the comprehensive development of science and culture, the communist education of the toiling masses, and the creation of conditions for the fullest possible satisfaction of the material and cultural needs of the masses. A socialist state machinery is responsible for the foreign and domestic security of the state. In characterizing the principle of the new role of socialist machinery in administering the state, V. I. Lenin declared: “Usually the word ‘administration’ is associated chiefly, if not solely, with political activity. However, the very basis and essence of Soviet power, like that of the transition itself from capitalist to socialist society, lie in the fact that political tasks occupy a subordinate position to economic tasks” (Poln. sobr. soch. 5th ed., vol. 36, p. 130).

The Soviet state machinery directly guides the creation of the material and technical base of communism and the development of communist social relations; relying on the experience of the masses, it plans the development of the national economy and manages industrial and agricultural enterprises, construction projects, transportation services, banks, commercial enterprises, day-to-day services to the population, and educational and scientific institutions.

In accord with the active economic role of the Soviet state system, the predominant place in the system is occupied by agencies that administer the national economy, planning and statistical bodies, economic ministries and departments, economic associations and firms, and the administrations of production enterprises.

The foundation of the Soviet state machinery consists of the bodies of people’s representation—the Soviets of Working People’s Deputies, which exercise all state power and control all state institutions from top to bottom without exception.

Employees of the state machinery in the USSR, including the people in the highest positions, do not stand above society, nor do they represent any sort of privileged caste; the conditions of their work are regulated by the same labor legislation applicable to production and clerical workers, and the obligations and rights of their service are regulated by the law and by decrees on state bodies. Supervision and control over the legality of the state machinery’s actions are the responsibility of agencies of the procurator’s office and the people’s control.

The CPSU and the Soviet government show a constant concern for improving the state machinery. The Program of the CPSU notes the great importance of the state machinery’s activity, because the correct use of all the resources of the country and the timely provision of the workers with cultural and day-to-day services depend to a large extent on this activity. The program defines the most important directions to be taken in the improvement of the state machinery: extending rights to the republic and local bodies of government, increasing the independence and initiative of organizations and enterprises, extending to all leading employees of the state bodies the electoral principle and the principle of accountability before the representative bodies and the voters; broadening the collegiate principle in the work of the state machinery, increasing the responsibility of state employees for tasks entrusted to them, and strengthening socialist legality and state discipline.


Lenin, V. I. “Gosudarstvo i revoliutsiia.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 33, pp. 1–120.
Lenin. V. I. “Ocherednye zadachi Sovetskoi vlasti.” Ibid., vol. 36, pp. 165–208.
Lenin. V. I., “Nabrosok pravil ob upravlenii sovetskimi uchrezhdeniiami.” Ibid., vol. 37. pp. 365–68.
Lenin, V. 1. “Ob edinom khoziaistvennom plane.” Ibid., vol. 42, pp. 339–47.
Lenin, V. I. “Kak nam reorganizovat’ Rabkrin.” Ibid., vol. 45. pp. 383–88.
Lenin, V. I. “Luchshe men’she. da luchshe.” Ibid., vol. 45, pp: 389–406.
Nauchnye osnovy gosudarstvennogo upravleniia v SSSR. Moscow, 1968.


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