The Dynamics of Soviet Society

The Dynamics of Soviet Society

The Dynamics of Soviet Society

The Dynamics of Soviet Society

Excerpt

This essay aims to contribute in a limited way both to the study of Soviet society and to the clarification of certain issues basic to the making of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. As a study, it might be described as an exercise in analytic history, or, what comes to the same thing, an exercise in bringing together the various social sciences around a single dynamic problem, i.e., a problem of change over time. In this academic aspect, it seeks to establish one possible conceptual frame which would contain and relate systematically the areas of knowledge and data now available on Soviet society. Its purpose is to stimulate further thought on the interrelations among the various sectors into which Russian studies, in common with the social sciences in general, have come to be divided.

The unifying hypotheses adopted here can in no sense be regarded as final. The study of modern Russia is at an early stage of its evolution. More than that, historians and other social scientists have only begun to address themselves systematically to the problem of making a frame for the dynamic analysis of societies such that the whole area of knowledge can be made greater than the sum of its specialized parts. This essay is, frankly, a tentative and exploratory effort.

The present analysis is also meant to assist the makers of American policy. Any act of policy must be based on some implicit or explicit generalization, or net judgment, concerning the forces at work in the area to which it is addressed. Public action involves an effort to achieve some aim in the light of the capabilities available and in the light of an intelligence judgment based on better or worse information, and better or worse analysis of it. The conventions of specialization in the social sciences permit the academician to evade a net intelligence judgment in this sense; the responsible official is denied the luxury of such evasion. Whatever the state of knowledge and analysis available to him, the responsible official must act. His action, by definition, involves some net judgment concerning the interplay of forces at work in the camp of his ally, his negotiating partner, his potential or actual enemy.

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