Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

Return to the NEP: The False Promise of Leninism and the Failure of Perestroika

Synopsis

This work presents perestroika as part of the continuum of European intellectual history. It examines the sources of Mikhail Gorbachev's thinking and action in 19th-century thought, the development of Russian Marxism through the intellectual crisis at the turn of the 20th century, the pragmatic and philosophical challenges to the Marxist-Leninist paradigm, Stalinism and its critics, and reform Communism in post World War II Eastern Europe. Against this background, the book argues that the decline and fall of Soviet Communism was much more deeply connected with ideological issues than most scholars have realized.

Excerpt

During Mikhail S.Gorbachev’s tenure at the helm of the Soviet polity (1985–1991), there was a revival of interest in Vladimir I.Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP), which is generally accepted to have lasted from 1921 to 1928. Philosopically, the nep was Lenin’s most developed clarification and defense of his interpretation of Marxism. Practically, it represented his attempt to change the bureaucratic and antidemocratic system that he had built after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Despite their best efforts, however, neither Lenin nor the other influential proponent of the nep in the Soviet leadership of his day, Nikolai I.Bukharin, succeeded in transforming the ussr into the truly free society that they desired. Nevertheless, by 1985 many in the Soviet Union had come to believe that the nep era had been a time when Soviet socialism was on track toward developing genuinely free and economically viable institutions. Such thinking had a significant impact on Gorbachev’s policies, collectively called “restructuring,” or perestroika, which came to be known to some as the neo-NEP. the legacy of the nep, however, held out a false promise. Instead of offering an effective ideological paradigm for reforming Soviet socialism, the nep illustrated the most fundamental philosophical and practical weaknesses of not only Leninism but also Marxism as a whole. Lenin left these problems unsolved and insoluble. They presented Gorbachev with the same insurmountable difficulties, so that perestroika also ended in failure.

Lenin’s belief system was grounded in Newtonian science. the most familiar of Newton’s laws of motion—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—illustrates the Newtonian perspective most effectively. For the Newtonian, all physical phenomena, no matter how complex, could be rationally and systematically explained in a manner that allowed consistenly accurate predictions of patterns of change. As a materialist whose basic view of

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.