U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System

U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System

U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System

U.S.S.R. in Crisis: The Failure of an Economic System

Excerpt

After several decades of impressive economic growth and expanding political power, the Soviet Union faces a critical turning point. What seemed to work so well initially now seems to work poorly. Economic growth is negligible, if not negative. Citizens living within the Soviet bloc have grown increasingly restless, both in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. Soviet political institutions seem frozen, unyielding, and unresponsive to the needs of the society. Leonid Brezhnev has bequeathed an unenviable legacy to Yuri Andropov.

American observers of the Soviet Union have noted these difficulties for some time. How much longer can the Soviet Union pursue its ways without some radical surgery, particularly since the Soviet Union now seems to be moving further and further from the course taken by most of the other countries of the industrialized world? Thus the pressure on Soviet planners increases to alter the existing situation.

Strangely enough, the stimulus for this study of the problems confronting the Soviet Union arose from a meeting with some Chinese social scientists. While visiting the People's Republic of China in January, 1980, I was asked to deliver a series of lectures about how the Soviet Union was likely to develop in the next decade or so. The Chinese said they were anxious to know what might happen to the Soviet Union if it failed to break out of its Stalinist model of economic and political development and held to its existing course. It turned out, however, that what really interested the Chinese was not what was going to happen to the Soviet Union, but what would happen to China if it failed to alter its course and reform its economy. Taking their lead from the Soviet Union, the Chinese had adopted the Stalinist model soon after their revolution. Although they tried to reshape their economy in 1957, the . . .

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