THE INDUSTRIAL CHALLENGE
THE CLAIM of economic superiority of the communist over the capitalist system has always been a major ingredient of the Marxist- Leninist lure. This is all the more so today when, speaking on behalf of the whole socialist camp, Khrushchëv has proclaimed economic competition to be the main tool with which he plans to "bury" capitalism by overtaking economically the most advanced of the capitalist countries, the United States, and by providing the subjects of communism with "the highest living standards in the world."
Khrushchëv's slogans have found a resounding echo among the KSČ leaders who have been ever since their seizure of power in 1948 at least as boastful of Czechoslovak economic achievements as the Soviet rulers have been of theirs. Capitalizing on the fact that Czechoslovakia was by far the most industrialized of all the countries that succumbed to communism, the new rulers have consistently striven to prove the excellence of the communist cause primarily in terms of economic successes. "The main battlefield where the completion of the socialist construction in our fatherland will be decided is the national economy," declared Novotný in his report to the Eleventh Party Congress in June 1958.1 And, as did his predecessors, he staked claim to an impressive array of economic gains, past, present, and future, made possible by the communist victory. Joining enthusiastically in Khrushchëv's latest slogan of defeating capitalism by outproducing it, the Czechoslovak Communists even came out into the open with a cocky assertion that "of all the countries of the socialist camp Czechoslovakia is closest to the fulfillment of the basic economic task of catching and overtaking the most advanced capitalist countries in per capita production."2
How real are the communist claims of tremendous economic advances attained in the first twelve years of their rule? How true is, in the case of Czechoslovakia, the communist assertion that a social-____________________