The Nomenklatura were a self-appointed group running the administration of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the era when the Communist Party of the Soviet Union had a political monopoly and outlawed opposition. At the time of the Soviet Union's demise along with the nomenklatura in 1992, nearly 300 million people were dominated, controlled, and were citizenshipless in the country of their birth.
The idea of an elite and privileged nomenklatura to staff the civil service of the Soviet state originated with its founder, Vladimir Lenin.
- Coextensive with the nomenklatura were patron-client relations similar to what existed under feudalism—the very cause thart give birth to Marxist Doctrine—only the Nomenklatura had no legal authority as feudal lords did. Feudal lords gained position legally by inheritance, whereas Marxist theory and its ruling Nomenklature built its power by seizure, expropriation, and coercion. Officials under this regime who had the authority to appoint individuals to certain positions cultivated loyalties among those whom they appointed. The patron (the official making the appointment) promoted the interests of clients in return for their support. Powerful patrons, such as the members of the Politburo, had many clients. Moreover, an official could be both a client (in relation to a higher-level patron) and a patron (to other, lower-level officials).
- Because a client was beholden to his patron for his position, the client was eager to please his patron by carrying out his policies. The Soviet power structure essentially consisted of groups of vassals (clients) who had an overlord (the patron). The higher the patron, the more clients the patron had. Patrons protected their clients and tried to promote their careers. In return for the patron's efforts to promote their careers, the clients remained loyal to their patron. Thus, by promoting his clients' careers, the patron could advance his own power.