The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders' History

The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders' History

The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders' History

The Destruction of the Soviet Economic System: An Insiders' History

Synopsis

The political collapse of the Soviet Union has been much better documented than the course of its economic and social disintegration. To get an inside account, Ellman and Kontorovich questioned former top Soviet officials and economic and other policy advisors (both Soviet and foreign) who were privy not only to the data but also to the internal policy debate during the 1980s. They have woven their informants' analyses of key issues and turning points into a compelling history of systemic collapse.

Excerpt

An unusual situation arose in the ussr in early 1984. a state that for centuries had been based on strictly centralized rule suddenly found itself without a strong central authority. Little change was visible on the surface. the nation's main political institution, the Politburo, continued to approve all major international, economic, and social decisions. the legislature, the Supreme Soviet, kept operating, as did the top executive institution, the cm. Yet it became obvious to the insiders that these institutions were beginning to break down. the primary manifestation of this was a reluctance to make decisions on urgent matters and to change the established way of doing things.

A long-overdue generation shift was taking place in the Politburo, the highest party body which regulated the activities of all of the major government and economic institutions at both the central and the regional levels. Approximately half of this body's posts were occupied by members of the older generation who had been promoted during the 1950s and 1960s: the chairman of the cm, N.A. Tikhonov; the Moscow City Party Committee first secretary, V.V. Grishin; G.V. Romanov, in charge of the military-industrial complex; the Ukrainian first secretary, V.V. Shcherbitskii; and the Kazakhstan first secretary, D.A. Kunaev. All of these people were very influential. They represented the most developed republics and regions as well as major economic sectors. No decision could be made without the support and good will of these politicians. People in this group tended-- sometimes consciously, and often by force of habit--to preserve the exist-

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