Workers' self-management referred to as self-management, labor management and autogestión, is a form of organizational management based on self-directed work processes on the part of an organization's workforce. Self-management is a characteristic of many forms of socialism, with proposals for self-management having appeared many times throughout the history of the socialist movement, advocated variously by libertarian and market socialists and anarchists. There are many variations of self-management. In some variants, all the worker-members manage the enterprise directly through assemblies while in other forms workers exercise management functions indirectly through the election of specialist managers. Self-management may include worker supervision and oversight of an organization by elected bodies, the election of specialized managers, or self-directed management without any specialized managers as such; the goals of self-management are to improve performance by granting workers greater autonomy in their day-to-day operations, boosting morale, reducing alienation and eliminating exploitation when paired with employee ownership.
An enterprise, self-managed is referred to as a labour-managed firm. Self-management refers to control rights within a productive organization, being distinct from the questions of ownership and what economic system the organization operates under. Self-management of an organization may coincide with employee ownership of that organization, but self-management can exist in the context of organizations under public ownership and to a limited extent within private companies in the form of co-determination and worker representation on the board of directors. An economic system consisting of self-managed enterprises is sometimes referred to as a participatory economy, self-managed economy, or cooperative economy; this economic model is a major version of market socialism and decentralized planned economy, stemming from the notion that people should be able to participate in making the decisions that affect their well-being. The major proponents of self-managed market socialism in the 20th century include the economists Benjamin Ward, Jaroslav Vanek and Branko Horvat.
The Ward–Vanek model of self-management involves the diffusion of entrepreneurial roles amongst all the partners of the enterprise. Branko Horvat notes that participation is not more desirable, but more economically viable than traditional hierarchical and authoritarian management as demonstrated by econometric measurements which indicate an increase in efficiency with greater participation in decision-making. According to Horvat, these developments are moving the world toward a self-governing socialistic mode of organization. In the economic theory of self-management, workers are no longer employees but partners in the administration of their enterprise. Management theories in favor of greater self-management and self-directed activity cite the importance of autonomy for productivity in the firm and economists in favor of self-management argue that cooperatives are more efficient than centrally-managed firms because every worker receives a portion of the profit, thereby directly tying their productivity to their level of compensation.
Historical economic figures who supported cooperatives and self-management of some kind include the anarchist Pierre Joseph Proudhon, classical economist John Stuart Mill and the neoclassical economist Alfred Marshall. Contemporary proponents of self-management include the American Marxist economist Richard D. Wolff and anarchist philosopher Noam Chomsky; the theory of the labor manager firm explains the behavior and nature of self-managed organizational forms. Although self-managed firms can coincide with worker ownership, the two are distinct concepts and one need not imply the other. According to traditional neoclassical economic theory, in a competitive market economy ownership of capital assets by labor should have no significant impact on firm performance; the classical liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill believed that worker-run and owned cooperatives would displace traditional capitalist firms in the competitive market economy due to their superior efficiency and stronger incentive structure.
While both Mill and Karl Marx thought that democratic worker management would be more efficient in the long run compared with hierarchical management, Marx was not hopeful about the prospects of labor-managed and owned firms as a means to displace traditional capitalist firms in the market economy. Despite their advantages in efficiency, in Western market economies the labor-managed firm is comparatively rare. Benjamin Ward critiqued. According to Ward, the labor-managed firm strives to maximize net income for all its members as contrasted with the traditional capitalist firms' objective function of maximizing profit for external owners; the objective function of the labor managed firm creates an incentive to limit employment in order to boost the net income of the firm's existing members. Thus, an economy consisting of labor-managed firms would have a tendency to underutilize labor and tend toward high rates of unemployment. In the 19th century, the idea of a self-managed economy was first articulated by the anarchist philosopher and economist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
This economic model was called mutualism to highlight the mutual relationship among individuals in this system and involved cooperatives operating in a free-market economy. The classical liberal philosopher John Stuart Mill argued worker-run cooperatives would eventu
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a Russian and Soviet politician. The eighth and last leader of the Soviet Union, he was General Secretary of its governing Communist Party from 1985 until 1991, he was the country's head of state from 1988 until 1991, serving as Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet from 1988 to 1989, Chairman of the Supreme Soviet from 1989 to 1990, President of the Soviet Union from 1990 to 1991. Ideologically, he adhered to Marxism-Leninism although by the early 1990s had moved toward social democracy. Of mixed Russian and Ukrainian heritage, Gorbachev was born in Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai to a poor peasant family. Growing up under the rule of Joseph Stalin, in his youth he operated combine harvesters on a collective farm before joining the Communist Party, which governed the Soviet Union as a one-party state according to Marxist-Leninist doctrine. While studying at Moscow State University, he married fellow student Raisa Titarenko in 1953 prior to receiving his law degree in 1955.
Moving to Stavropol, he worked for the Komsomol youth organisation and, after Stalin's death, became a keen proponent of the de-Stalinization reforms of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. He was appointed the First Party Secretary of the Stavropol Regional Committee in 1970, in which position he oversaw construction of the Great Stavropol Canal. In 1974 he moved to Moscow to become First Secretary to the Supreme Soviet and in 1979 became a candidate member of the party's governing Politburo. Within three years of the death of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, following the brief regimes of Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko, the Politburo elected Gorbachev as General Secretary, the de facto head of government, in 1985. Although committed to preserving the Soviet state and to its socialist ideals, Gorbachev believed significant reform was necessary after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, he withdrew from the Soviet–Afghan War and embarked on summits with United States President Ronald Reagan to limit nuclear weapons and end the Cold War.
Domestically, his policy of glasnost allowed for enhanced freedom of speech and press, while his perestroika sought to decentralise economic decision making to improve efficiency. His democratisation measures and formation of the elected Congress of People's Deputies undermined the one-party state. Gorbachev declined to intervene militarily when various Eastern Bloc countries abandoned Marxist-Leninist governance in 1989-90. Internally, growing nationalist sentiment threatened to break-up the Soviet Union, leading Marxist-Leninist hardliners to launch an unsuccessful August 1991 coup against Gorbachev. Out of office, he launched his Gorbachev Foundation, became a vocal critic of Russian Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, campaigned for Russia's social-democratic movement. Considered one of the most significant figures of the second half of the 20th century, Gorbachev remains the subject of controversy; the recipient of a wide range of awards—including the Nobel Peace Prize—he was praised for his pivotal role in ending the Cold War, curtailing human rights abuses in the Soviet Union, tolerating both the fall of Marxist–Leninist administrations in eastern and central Europe and the reunification of Germany.
Conversely, in Russia he is derided for not stopping the Soviet collapse, an event which brought a decline in Russia's global influence and precipitated economic crisis. Gorbachev was born on 2 March 1931 in the village of Privolnoye, Stavropol Krai in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union. At the time, Privolnoye was divided evenly between ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians. Gorbachev's paternal family were ethnic Russians and had moved to the region from Voronezh several generations before, his parents named him Victor, but at the insistence of his mother—a devout Orthodox Christian—he had a secret baptism, where his grandfather christened him Mikhail. His relationship with his father, Sergey Andreyevich Gorbachev, was close, his parents were poor. The Soviet Union was a one-party state governed by the Communist Party, during Gorbachev's childhood was under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. Stalin had initiated a project of mass rural collectivisation which, in keeping with his Marxist-Leninist ideas, he believed would help convert the country into a socialist society.
Gorbachev's maternal grandfather joined the Communist Party and helped form the village's first kolkhoz in 1929, becoming its chair. This farm was twelve miles outside Privolnoye village and when he was three years old, Gorbachev left his parental home and moved into the kolkhoz with his maternal grandparents; the country was experiencing the famine of 1932–33, in which two of Gorbachev's paternal uncles and an aunt died. This was followed by the Great Purge, in which individuals accused of being "enemies of the people"—including those sympathetic to rival interpretations of Marxism like Trotskyism—were arrested and interned in labour camps, if not executed. Both of Gorbachev's grandfathers were arrested—his maternal in 1934 and his paternal in 1937—and both spent time in Gulag labour camps prior to being released. After his December 1938 release, Gorbachev's maternal grandfather discussed having been tortured by the secret pol
Economy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Despite common origins, the economy of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was different from the economies of the Soviet Union and other Eastern European socialist states after the Yugoslav-Soviet break-up of 1948. The occupation and liberation struggle in World War II left; the most developed parts of the country were rural and the little industry the country had was damaged or destroyed. The first postwar years saw implementation of Soviet-style five-year plans and reconstruction through massive voluntary work; the countryside was electrified and heavy industry was developed. The economy was organized as a mixture of planned socialist economy and a market socialist economy: factories were nationalized, workers were entitled to a certain share of their profits. Owned craftshops could employ up to 4 people per owner; the land was nationalized and redistributed, collectivized. Farmer households could own up to 10 hectares of land per person and the excess farmland was owned by co-ops, agricultural companies or local communities.
These could buy land, as well as give it to people in perpetual lease. Youth work actions were organized voluntary labor activities of young people in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the actions were used to build public infrastructure such as roads and public buildings, as well as industrial infrastructure. The youth work actions were organized on local and federal levels by the Young Communist League of Yugoslavia, participants were organized into youth work brigades named after their town or a local national hero. Important projects built by youth work brigades include the Brčko-Banovići railway, the Šamac-Sarajevo railway, parts of New Belgrade, parts of the Highway of Brotherhood and Unity, which stretches from northern Slovenia to southern Macedonia. In the 1950s socialist self-management was introduced, which reduced the state management of enterprises. Managers of owned companies were supervised by worker councils, which were made up of all employees, with one vote each.
The worker councils appointed the management by secret ballot. The Communist Party was organized in all companies and most influential employees were to be members of the party, so the managers were but not always, appointed only with the consent of the party. Although GDP is not technically applicable or designed to measure planned economies: in 1950 Yugoslavia's GDP ranked twenty-second in Europe. Unemployment was a chronic problem for Yugoslavia, the unemployment rates were amongst the highest in Europe during its existence, while the education level of the work force increased steadily. Due to Yugoslavia's neutrality, its leading role in the Non-Aligned Movement, Yugoslav companies exported to both Western and Eastern markets. Yugoslav companies carried out construction of numerous major infrastructural and industrial projects in Africa and Asia. Many of these projects were carried out by Energoprojekt, a Yugoslav engineering and construction firm founded in 1951 to rebuild the country's war devastated infrastructure.
By the early 1980s, Energoprojekt was the world's 16'th largest engineering and construction company, employing 7,000. The company carried out large construction projects in Libya, Kuwait and Guinea, by the late 1960s, the company was competing in European markets in West Germany and the German Democratic Republic. In 1965, a new dinar was introduced; the previous dinar, traded at a rate of 700 to the U. S. dollar, was replaced with a new dinar traded at 12.5 to the U. S. dollar. The departure of Yugoslavs seeking work began in the 1950s, when individuals began slipping across the border illegally. In the mid-1960s, Yugoslavia lifted emigration restrictions and the number of emigrants, including educated and skilled individuals increased especially to West Germany. By the early 1970s 20 percent of the country's labor force or 1,1 million workers were employed abroad; the emigration was caused by force deagrarization and overpopulating of larger towns. The emigration contributed to keeping the unemployment checked and acted as a source of capital and foreign currency.
The system was institutionalized into the economy. From 1961 to 1971, the number of guest workers from Yugoslavia in West Germany increased from 16,000 to 410,000. In the 1970s, the economy was reorganised according to Edvard Kardelj's theory of associated labour, in which the right to decision making and a share in profits of owned companies is based on the investment of labour. All industrial companies were transformed into organisations of associated labour; the smallest, basic organisations of associated labour, was corresponded to a small company or a department in a large company. These were organised into enterprises known as labour organisations, which in turn associated into composite organisations of associated labour, which could be large companies or whole industry branches in a certain area. Basic organisations of associated labour sometimes were composed of smaller labour units, but they had no financial freedom. Composite organisations of associated labour were sometimes members of business communities, representing whole industry branches.
Most executive decision making was based in enterprises, so that these continued to compete to an extent when they were part of a same composite organisation. The appointment of managers and strategic policy of composite organisations were, depending on their size and importance, in practice subject to political and personal influence-peddling. In order to give all employees the same access to d
A worker cooperative is a cooperative, owned and self-managed by its workers. This control may be exercised in a number of ways. A cooperative enterprise may mean a firm where every worker-owner participates in decision-making in a democratic fashion, or it may refer to one in which management is elected by every worker-owner, it can refer to a situation in which managers are considered, treated as, workers of the firm. In traditional forms of worker cooperative, all shares are held by the workforce with no outside or consumer owners, each member has one voting share. In practice, control by worker-owners may be exercised through individual, collective, or majority ownership by the workforce. A worker cooperative, has the characteristic that each of its workers owns one share, all shares are owned by the workers; the International organisation representing worker cooperatives is CICOPA. CICOPA has two regional organisations: CECOP - CICOPA Americas. Worker cooperatives rose to prominence during the Industrial Revolution as part of the labour movement.
As employment moved to industrial areas and job sectors declined, workers began organizing and controlling businesses for themselves. Workers cooperative were sparked by "critical reaction to industrial capitalism and the excesses of the industrial revolution." The formation of some workers cooperatives were designed to "cope with the evils of unbridled capitalism and the insecurities of wage labor". The philosophy that underpinned the cooperative movement stemmed from the socialist writings of thinkers including Robert Owen and Charles Fourier. Robert Owen, considered by many as the father of the cooperative movement, made his fortune in the cotton trade, but believed in putting his workers in a good environment with access to education for themselves and their children; these ideas were put into effect in the cotton mills of New Lanark, Scotland. It was here. Spurred on by the success of this, he had the idea of forming "villages of co-operation" where workers would drag themselves out of poverty by growing their own food, making their own clothes and becoming self-governing.
He tried to form such communities in Orbiston in Scotland and in New Harmony, Indiana in the United States of America, but both communities failed. Similar early experiments were made in the early 19th century and by 1830 there were several hundred co-operatives. Dr William King made Owen's ideas more practical, he believed in starting small, realized that the working classes would need to set up co-operatives for themselves, so he saw his role as one of instruction. He founded a monthly periodical called The Co-operator, the first edition of which appeared on 1 May 1828; this gave a mixture of co-operative philosophy and practical advice about running a shop using cooperative principles. The first successful organization was the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, established in England in 1844; the Rochdale Pioneers established the ` Rochdale Principles'. This became the basis for the growth of the modern cooperative movement; as the mechanization of the Industrial Revolution was forcing more and more skilled workers into poverty, these tradesmen decided to band together to open their own store selling food items they could not otherwise afford.
With lessons from prior failed attempts at co-operation in mind, they designed the now famous Rochdale Principles, over a period of four months they struggled to pool one pound sterling per person for a total of 28 pounds of capital. On 21 December 1844, they opened their store with a meagre selection of butter, flour, oatmeal and a few candles. Within three months, they expanded their selection to include tea and tobacco, they were soon known for providing high quality, unadulterated goods; the Co-operative Group formed over 140 years from the merger of many independent retail societies, their wholesale societies and federations. In 1863, twenty years after the Rochdale Pioneers opened their co-operative, the North of England Co-operative Society was launched by 300 individual co-ops across Yorkshire and Lancashire. By 1872, it had become known as the Co-operative Wholesale Society. Through the 20th century, smaller societies merged with CWS, such as the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society and the South Suburban Co-operative Society.
When the current cooperative movement resurfaced in the 1960s it developed on a new system of "collective ownership" where par value shares were issued as symbols of egalitarian voting rights. A member may only own one share to maintain the egalitarian ethos. Once brought in as a member, after a period of time on probation so the new candidate can be evaluated, he or she was given power to manage the coop, without "ownership" in the traditional sense. In the UK this system is known as common ownership; some of these early cooperatives still exist and most new worker cooperatives follow their lead and develop a relationship to capital, more radical than the previous system of equity share ownership. In the United States there is no coherent legislation regarding worker cooperatives nationally, much less Federal laws, so most worker cooperatives make use of traditional consumer cooperative law and try to fine-tune it for their purposes. In some cases the members of the cooperative in fact "own" the enterprise by buying a share that represents a fraction of the market value of the cooperative.
In Britain this type of cooperative was traditionally known as a producer cooperative, and
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process; the formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law.
Religious laws played a significant role in settling of secular matters, is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most used religious law, is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia; the adjudication of the law is divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct, considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law deals with the resolution of lawsuits between individuals and/or organizations. Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, economic analysis and sociology. Law raises important and complex issues concerning equality and justice. Numerous definitions of law have been put forward over the centuries; the Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster defines law as: "Law is a binding custom or practice of a community. The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner's in 1973 defined the concept of law accordingly as: "A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, complex mode of regulating human conduct.
At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are of great importance." There have been several attempts to produce "a universally acceptable definition of law". In 1972, one source indicated. McCoubrey and White said that the question "what is law?" has no simple answer. Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word "law" depends on the context in which that word is used, he said that, for example, "early customary law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings. Thurman Arnold said that it is obvious that it is impossible to define the word "law" and that it is equally obvious that the struggle to define that word should not be abandoned, it is possible to take the view that there is no need to define the word "law". The history of law links to the development of civilization. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code, broken into twelve books.
It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements. Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; the most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, has since been transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, Italian and French. The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society; the small Greek city-state, ancient Athens, from about the 8th century BC was the first society to be based on broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and the slave class. However, Athens had no legal science or single word for "law", relying instead on the three-way distinction between divine law, human decree and custom.
Yet Ancient Greek law contained major constitutional innovations in the development of democracy. Roman law was influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were sophisticated. Over the centuries between the rise and decline of the Roman Empire, law was adapted to cope with the changing social situations and underwent major codification under Theodosius II and Justinian I. Although codes were replaced by custom and case law during the Dark Ages, Roman law was rediscovered around the 11th century when medieval legal scholars began to research Roman codes and adapt their concepts. Latin legal maxims were compiled for guidance. In medieval England, royal
Perestroika was a political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s and is associated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his glasnost policy reform. The literal meaning of perestroika is "restructuring", referring to the restructuring of the Soviet political and economic system. Perestroika is sometimes argued to be a significant cause of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, the end of the Cold War. Perestroika allowed more independent actions from various ministries and introduced some market-like reforms; the goal of perestroika, was not to end the command economy but rather to make socialism work more efficiently to better meet the needs of Soviet citizens. The process of implementing perestroika arguably exacerbated existing political and economic tensions within the Soviet Union and is blamed for furthering the political ascent of nationalism and nationalist political parties in the constituent republics.
Perestroika and its associated structural ailments have been cited as major catalysts leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In May 1985, Gorbachev gave a speech in Leningrad in which he admitted the slowing of economic development, inadequate living standards; this was the first time. The program was furthered at the 27th Congress of the Communist Party in Gorbachev's report to the congress, in which he spoke about "perestroika", "uskoreniye", "human factor", "glasnost", "expansion of the khozraschyot". During the initial period of Mikhail Gorbachev's time in power, he talked about modifying central planning but did not make any fundamental changes. Gorbachev and his team of economic advisors introduced more fundamental reforms, which became known as perestroika. At the June 1987 plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev presented his "basic theses", which laid the political foundation of economic reform for the remainder of the existence of the Soviet Union.
In July 1987, the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union passed the Law on State Enterprise. The law stipulated that state enterprises were free to determine output levels based on demand from consumers and other enterprises. Enterprises had to fulfill state orders, but they could dispose of the remaining output as they saw fit. However, at the same time the state still held control over the means of production for these enterprises, thus limiting their ability to enact full-cost accountability. Enterprises bought input from suppliers at negotiated contract prices. Under the law, enterprises became self-financing. No longer was the government to rescue unprofitable enterprises; the law shifted control over the enterprise operations from ministries to elected workers' collectives. Gosplan's responsibilities were to supply general guidelines and national investment priorities, not to formulate detailed production plans; the Law on Cooperatives, enacted in May 1988, was the most radical of the economic reforms during the early part of the Gorbachev era.
For the first time since Vladimir Lenin's New Economic Policy was abolished in 1928, the law permitted private ownership of businesses in the services and foreign-trade sectors. The law imposed high taxes and employment restrictions, but it revised these to avoid discouraging private-sector activity. Under this provision, cooperative restaurants and manufacturers became part of the Soviet scene. Gorbachev brought perestroika to the Soviet Union's foreign economic sector with measures that Soviet economists considered bold at that time, his programme eliminated the monopoly that the Ministry of Foreign Trade had once held on most trade operations. It permitted the ministries of the various industrial and agricultural branches to conduct foreign trade in sectors under their responsibility, rather than having to operate indirectly through the bureaucracy of trade ministry organizations. In addition and local organizations and individual state enterprises were permitted to conduct foreign trade.
This change was an attempt to redress a major imperfection in the Soviet foreign trade regime: the lack of contact between Soviet end users and suppliers and their foreign partners. The most significant of Gorbachev's reforms in the foreign economic sector allowed foreigners to invest in the Soviet Union in the form of joint ventures with Soviet ministries, state enterprises, cooperatives; the original version of the Soviet Joint Venture Law, which went into effect in June 1987, limited foreign shares of a Soviet venture to 49 percent and required that Soviet citizens occupy the positions of chairman and general manager. After potential Western partners complained, the government revised the regulations to allow majority foreign ownership and control. Under the terms of the Joint Venture Law, the Soviet partner supplied labor, a large domestic market; the foreign partner supplied capital, entrepreneurial expertise, in many cases and services of world competitive quality. Gorbachev's economic changes did not do much to restart the country's sluggish economy in the late 1980s.
The reforms decentralised things to some extent, although price controls remained, as did the ruble's inconvertibility and
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta