The nomenklatura (Russian: номенклату́ра, IPA: [nəmʲɪnklɐˈturə]; Latin: nomenclatura) were a category of people within the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in the bureaucracy, running all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc., whose positions were granted only with approval by the communist party of each country or region.

Virtually all members of the nomenklatura were members of the Communist Party.[1] Critics of Stalin, such as Milovan Đilas, critically defined them as a "new class".[2] Trotsky used the term caste rather than class, because he saw the Soviet Union as a degenerated workers' state, not a new class society. Later developments of Trotsky's theories, such as Tony Cliff's theory of state capitalism, did refer to the nomenklatura as a new class. Richard Pipes, an anti-communist writer, claimed that this system mainly reflected a continuation of the old Tsarist regime, as many former Tsarist officials or "careerists" joined the Bolshevik government during and after the Russian Civil War.[3]

The nomenklatura forming a de facto elite of public powers in the previous Eastern Bloc, may be compared to the western establishment[4] holding or controlling both private and public powers (e.g., media, finance, trade, industry, state and institutions).[5]


The Russian term is derived from the Latin nomenclatura, meaning a list of names.

The term was popularized in the West by the Soviet dissident Michael Voslenski, who in 1970 wrote a book titled Nomenklatura: The Soviet Ruling Class (Russian: Номенклатура. Господствующий класс Сове́тского Сою́за).

Other Languages