Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



Throughout the Soviet Union's history, its four constitutions have been a reflection of the political climate of the particular period. The documents thus viewed provide a historical and political benchmark against which life and thought in the U.S.S.R. may be fairly accurately gauged. When Brezhnev addressed the USSR Supreme Soviet on October 4, 1977, to recommend the inevitable adoption of the 1977 Constitution, he again stressed the historical perspective in which the document must be viewed. He stated: "We will adopt the new Constitution on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution. This is not merely a coincidence ....The new Constitution, it might be said, is the concentrated result of the entire 60-year development of the Soviet state. It is striking evidence of the fact that the ideas proclaimed by [the] October [Revolution] and Lenin's behests are being successfully implemented.

This article will attempt to analyze the new Basic Law of the U.S.S.R. in light of this historical and political context in which it was obviously intended. The authors, however, will attempt to separate out the legitimate from the rhetorical, and will point out the aspects of the new Constitution which have been included principally for their propaganda value.