first part of the nineteenth century. For instance: became the controlling factor not only in the eco- the supreme administrative power was vested in nomic life but also in military affairs in Russia, the Council of Ministers, acting under the authority Every regiment and army unit had a local Soviet of the emperor. On the other hand, the supreme of its own which took upon itself the interference legislative power in Russia was vested in the Im- with the orders of the regimental commanders and penal Council, together with the Imperial Duma, sometimes even of the supreme command. Condi- Doth houses acting under the authority of the tions resulting therefrom were disastrous as the emperor. The legislative authority of the Imperial activities of the different army units became thor- Council corresponded to that of the Senate in the oughly discoordinated and military operations be- United States^ the House of Lords in England, and came impossible.
the Senate in France. The specific meaning at- During this phase of the history of the Soviets tached to the word Soviet had its origin in 1905 at a new tendency was manifested, namely, plans were the time of the first outbreak of the revohitionaiy worked out for the centralization and coordination movement in Russia, when the extremist leaders of the activities of the various local Soviets. To in Petrosrad and other Russian cities induced the attain this end the latter were m^ed to elect their industrial workers and employees in different lines representatives, who were sent to the capital where of trade to elect their representatives to the Central they formed an All Russian Central Soviet, which Council or Soviet, the institution of which was in tturn elected an executive committee in which designed to control the revolutionary movement, the supreme administrative power was vested. Following out this program the workers in Petro- With uie overthrow of the Provisional Govem- grad, Moscow, and elsewhere elected their respec- ment the Soviets automaticalljr seized the state tive deputies, each factory sending its own dele- control. The official ^'Constitution" of the Soviet gates to the Soviet of this or the other city. The system was adopted at the Fifth All Russian Con- Soviets thus elected became the revolutionary cen- gresfi of Soviets in July, 1918, according to which tens in which the plans were worked out for the the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic" is overthrow of the imperial Government, and through governed by the All Russian Congress of Soviets, which they were actually put into operation. which in turn is composed of representatives of In most instances the elections of the Soviets local, urban and provncial Soviets. The All were merely staged and the representation of the Russian Congress of Soviets is convoked at factories consisted in self-styled agitators who had least twice a year by the All Russian Central nothing in common with iiie shop-workers them- Executive Committee. In the intervals between selves. The first Petrograd Soviet of Workers' the sessions of the All Russian Congresses of Deputies was controlled bv Trotsky (Bronstein) Soviets the supreme power is exercised by the All and Parvus (Helfandt), both of whom were profes- Russian Central Executive Committee. Paragraph sional agitators and have never been manual 31 of the Soviet "Constitution provides that "The workers themselves. The brief history of the first All Russian Central Executive Committee is the Petrograd Soviet was identified with different supreme legislative, executive and controlling or^n criminal outbreaks and the lootizig of public prop- of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic." erty (banks, the treasury, etc.). The nrst Moscow The same Central Executive Committee forms a Soviet of Workers' Deputies was en^ed in the Council of People's Commissars for the purpose of organization of the armed uprising against the Gov- the general maiiagement of the affairs of the Soviet ernment in 1905. During that stage the make-up Republic, and it also has authority to form different of the Soviets was heterogeneous, for practically all departments or People's Commissariats for the revolutionazy. radical and Communist factions were purpose of conducting the various branches of gov- represented therein. With the defeat of the revolu- ernment. The Central Executive Committee con- tion of 1905, all Soviet organizations were dissolved siders and enacts all measures and proposals intro- by the Russian Government and many of their duced by the Soviet of People's Commissars, or by inembers were tried and imprisoned. In 1917, the various departments issuing decrees and regu- simultaneously with the outbreak of the March lations of its own. At the same time the Council Revolution, Soviet organizations were hurriedly of People's Commissars has the right to issue its formed, first in Petrograd and Moscow, and later decrees, resolutions and orders, notifying the AH in other Russian cities. Although at that time the Russian Central Executive Committee of all orders Soviets had no official standing, their influence upon thus issued.
governmental affairs became so great as to over- The Soviet or Council of People's Commissars is
shadow the significance of the officially recognized composed of seventeen Commissars: (a) Foreign
Provisional Govermnent. Moreover, Kerensky Affairs; (b) Army; (c) Navy; (d) Interior; (e)
who after the March Revolution became the head Justice; (f) Labor; (g) Social Welfare; (h) Educa-
of the Provisional Government, was vice-chairman tion; (i) Post and Telegraph; (j) National Af-
of the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' fairs; (k) Finances; (1) Ways of Communication;
Deputies. In 1917 the make-up of the Soviets was (m) Agriculture; (n) Commerce and Industry; (o)
augmented by the representation of revolutionary National Supplies; (p) State Control; (q) Supreme
army unjts and the poorer peasants. Thus, the Soviet of National Economy; (r) Public Health,
recogmzed title of these revolutionary organizations The Soviet of People's Commissars is accountable
was "Soviets of Workers', Soldiers' and Peasants' to the All Russian Congress of Soviets and the All
Deputies. During the first five months subsequent Russian Central Executive Committee. The organ-
to the revolution the Soviets were composed of rev- ization of local Soviets comprises Soviet organiza-
olutionists belonging to the different extreme fac- tions of four categories: (a) Regional; (b) Provin-
tions, such as the Bolsheviki, Mensheviki, Social cial; (c) County; (d) Rural of Voloet, the latter
Revolutionists and People's Socialists. Gradually, being the smallest administrative division of the
however, the influence of the Bolsheviki or Com- Russian State. Each local Soviet elects an execu-
munists became dominant and by August, 1917, tive organ of its own, the membership of which in
the Soviets practically everywhere fell under the regional and provincial Soviets does not exceed
complete control of the Communists. In the same twenty-five; in county Soviets, twenty; and in
proportion as the Soviet influence grew the Provi- rural Soviets, ten. These Executive Committees
sional Government was losing its prestige. Soviets are responsible to the Congress which elects them.