The idea that interest groups may play a significant role in Communist politics has, until recently, not been seriously entertained either by Western political scientists or by Soviet legal specialists. The concept of “totalitarianism” that has dominated the analysis of communism in the West has seemed to preclude the possibility that interest groups could challenge or affect the single ruling party as the fount of all power. The uniqueness of a totalitarian system has been deemed to lie in the very totality of its political power, excluding, as it were by definition, any area of autonomous behavior by groups other than the state or party, and still more, preventing serious influence by them on the process of decision-making. Marxist theorists, starting from different presuppositions, have assumed that the single ruling party, the organization of the working class, best knew the “real” interests of the people as a whole, and have denied the possibility of fundamental conflicts of interest within the working class, or between it and associated friendly classes such as the peasantry. Within the ruling party itself, groups or factions opposing the leadership have not been admitted in theory or permitted in practice.
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