Bibliography on Party Politics in the USSR, 1950-1962

Kenneth Janda

Unfortunately, the analysts who read and indexed the literature on the U.S.S.R. left the project before writing an essay about their bibliographical experiences. These remarks therefore are limited in both scope and depth due to their second-hand nature. In brief, the literature on party politics in the Soviet Union was abundant, and the problem for the indexers was one of selecting rather than locating material for the file. Many of the sources contained excellent bibliographies, and the footnotes were rich with references. As a result, we soon overran our arbitrary limit of 2,500 pages per country and wound with a much larger file for the U.S.S.R. than intended.

Material Processed in the ICPP Files 

The indexers processed a total of 3,091 pages from 139 documents pertaining to party politics in the Soviet Union. The content of this material can be inferred from the frequency distribution of indexing codes reported in the first table.

The most frequently used indexing code is 360 (party leaders and officials) which was assigned to 714 pages in the file. This particular code tends to be heavily used in indexing the parties literature in all our countries, and it does not appear to have any special significance for the Soviet literature beyond the obvious implication that the parties literature is replete with references to individual leaders, e.g., Stalin Khrushchev, Eulganin, and so on. More unique to the Soviet scene is the heavy reliance by the indexers on code 440 (national party committee), which reflects the importance of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, and also the Politburo, in political life. The frequent usage of code 490 (centralization of power) is also peculiar to this body of material and embraces a number of subthemes: power struggles within the party, the relationship of the Central Committee to lower organs, and the central direction of party activities.

Several other specific codes deserve recognition for their saliency in indexing the material on party politics in the USSR. The code for party members" (320) is used quite often in comparison with other bodies of literature. Tais is due to the attention given membership requirements and duties as well as to extensive analyses of the demographic characteristics of party members. Similarly, there are frequent discussions of "party workers and activists" (code 330) owing to the high degree of activity shown by party members, who are apt to lose their membership if they do not work for the party. These discussions tie in with examinations of the "local party organization" (code 400) and an emphasis on members' behavior in "propagandizing it goals and activities" (code 240).

A broader perspective on the coverage of the literature can be gained by moving from a consideration of specific indexing codes to the major coding categories. We see, for example, that the most frequently used category is 4--, which subsumes the codes dealing with "party organization." The literature on the USSR is characterized by a concern with organizational aspects of the CPSU, and there is adequate information for coding most of our variables dealing with the party's "internal organization." The second most frequent set of codes deal with "party composition" (3--), reflecting the heavy usage of specific 3-- codes discussed above. The set of codes used least frequently is 8-- (party system), which is to be expected in a country with only one legal party. Note that the most frequent code within this set is 880 (international party system), which indexes discussions of the relationship between the CPSU and communist parties across the world. Finally, even though the codes used for the "study of parties" (0--) stand near the bottom of the distribution, they were used a total of 272 times, suggesting that the parties literature on the Soviet Union has definite scholarly qualities. 

Observations on the State of the Literature

The scholarly characteristics of the parties literature in the U.S.S.R. emerges more distinctly through an analysis of the major features of the individual documents. The second table reports the salient features of 139 documents that have been evaluated on our set of data quality codes. Most of the documents by far consist of books or sections in books. News items--a major category of documents for the literature on many countries in the ICPP project--account for a only small fraction of the documents. Although a somewhat larger proportion of the authors of these documents have journalistic backgrounds, more than half of the documents are authored by academics. Party officials stand in third place among the contributors, which conforms to the observation that many of the items in the file are government documents. Despite the fact that the entire file on the U.S.S.R. is in English, nearly a quarter of the documents are translated from Russian. In addition, there is considerable evidence of Russian language ability by the authors who write originally in English.

On several other indicators of scholarly quality, the file ranks high in relation to other files in the project. More than half of the documents either report quantitative data in context or present data explicitly in tables. About one-quarter feature some sort of theoretical treatment, and nearly two&endash;thirds attribute sources through footnotes. Primary sources in the form of government or party documents are as apt to be cited in footnotes as other secondary material in the form of books or journals.

Despite these hallmarks of scholarly quality, the indexers were not overly impressed by the "overall quality" of the literature, judging most of the documents to be only "medium" in quality. The reason for this may perhaps be seen in the indexers' judgment of the authors' "ideology" and "objectivity." The indexers detected more instances of "leftist" than "rightist" bias in the literature, but this may be due to their own conditioning in a capitalist country. Of more significance is the the indexers' classification of nearly two-thirds of the documents as contaminated by value judgments or the use of emotional language. Unfortunately, many of the documents in the file are couched in language which is highly critical of Soviet policies and practices. Gratuitous remarks about Soviet intentions and motivations, for example, are commonplace, raising one's doubts about the fairness of the observations in general. Hopefully, the more recent literature about Soviet politics has shed some of the cold-war mentality demonstrated by authors on both sides of the fence in the present file.