Cold War Capitalism: The View from Moscow, 1945-1975

Cold War Capitalism: The View from Moscow, 1945-1975

Cold War Capitalism: The View from Moscow, 1945-1975

Cold War Capitalism: The View from Moscow, 1945-1975

Synopsis

Looking back from the perspective of the mid-1990s, it is hard to believe that Soviet power for so long presented a threat and a challenge to the capitalist system. This book examines the assumptions of Soviet post-war economic theory and policy, traces the Soviets' analysis of Western economic development from the post-war period through to the easing of international relations, and explains why the Soviets themselves believed they were going to outperform the West.

Excerpt

Soviet studies of the west in the years 1945-75 began with the role of the state in national economies and subsequently turned to global contradictions of the world capitalist system. a parallel development occurred in Marxist thought from publication of the first volume of Capital in 1867 to the Russian revolution in 1917. in Capital Marx abstracted from foreign trade and investment to define the "laws of motion" leading to cyclical economic crises within a self-contained capitalist system. His analysis indicated that periodic fluctuations of market economies would become increasingly severe and culminate in proletarian revolution. When revolution was delayed long beyond the time expected, later Marxists turned from internal contradictions of capitalist economies to theories of the world economy and imperialism.

The spread of capital into precapitalist areas was commonly thought to have sustained the rate of profit in the leading capitalist countries and to have postponed the revolutionary crisis. in this interpretation not only did foreign trade and investment assume a far more prominent role than in Capital, but in many writings on imperialism the role of the state in organizing, regulating, and even planning economic affairs also took on new salience. Marxist theories of imperialism provide the historian with an important point of entry into Soviet debates during the decades that preceded World War II as well as during those that followed.

Immediately after the Russian revolution, Soviet Marxists were so preoccupied with imperialism-especially with its implications for the Soviet Union within the "capitalist encirclement"--that Marx's original concern with business cycles faded into the background. in The 'Crisis' and the 'Crash' I demonstrated how this atrophy of business-cycle theory complicated subsequent assessments of the Great Depression. Economists found themselves wrestling with the question of whether the catastrophe of 1929-33 was merely another cyclical crisis, such as the capitalist . . .

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