Soviet Policy-Making; Studies of Communism in Transition

Soviet Policy-Making; Studies of Communism in Transition

Soviet Policy-Making; Studies of Communism in Transition

Soviet Policy-Making; Studies of Communism in Transition

Excerpt

Expert observers since the late Boris Nicolaevsky, including Nikita Khrushchev himself, have afforded us behind-the-scenes glimpses of the continuing power struggle in the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and in segments of the ruling machinery: the army, the police, and the governmental administration. Until recently, these glimpses were all we knew of the pluralistic tendencies that obtained in the Soviet Union after Stalin, in the late 1920's, lowered the curtain on information and, with terror tactics, isolated professions, institutions, and individuals.

However, a notable change in the Soviet political climate has taken place since the dictator's death. In his impetuous search for effective economic and administrative remedies, Khrushchev acted as a catalyst in stimulating the formation of opinion groups which now voice their views on vital issues and propose reforms. With the overt threat of terror removed, meaningful public debate on crucial issues has become more commonplace. Statistics, once conspicuous by their absence, are now both more plentiful and more reliable. Soviet scholars and journalists have begun to mine areas that had remained untouched for thirty years. Their research and their polemics, together with expanded possibilities for foreigners to visit and do research in the U.S.S.R., have enabled non-Soviet observers, including the contributors to this book, to turn up fascinating evidence of extensive debate over crucial issues of policy.

The purpose of this symposium has been to point up underlying influences on Soviet policy decisions. The introductory chapter compares the Soviet political process with that of other countries. It is followed by a series of case studies of family, economic, cultural, scientific, penal, and foreign policies. With one ex-

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