In late 1936, the Soviet Union passed the Constitution which was to govern its political and legal life until its expiration. The document also ensured that Stalin would the the ‘father of the Soviets’ as it was his Constitution.
While the tone of the text is quite revolutionary, the 1936 Constitution contains many of the liberal protections and guarantees of rights characteristic of countries like France or the US. For example, Chapter X, Article 125 says:
In conformity with the interests of the working people, and in order to strengthen the socialist system, the citizens of the U.S.S.R. are guaranteed by law:
freedom of speech;
freedom of the press;
freedom of assembly, including the holding of mass meetings;
freedom of street processions and demonstrations.
The right to vote, equality of the sexes, even rights to work, are contained in the 1936 Constitution.
The Soviet Constitution shows that Constitutions really are ‘scraps of paper’ unless supported by a conscientious citizenry who are also willing to make sacrifices to uphold their liberties. The ‘warning from history’ is that a people have to do more than wait for a higher authority to vindicate their rights.