The Last Years of the Soviet Empire: Snapshots from 1985-1991

By Vladimir Shlapentokh; Neil F. O'Donnell | Go to book overview

SOVIETS MUST REVISE IDEAS ON PROPERTY MARCH 1986

Decades ago, Soviet ideologists promised to return property to "the people"
as a collective. Here, the Soviet leadership is recognizing the need to return
property to "the people" as individuals. As in the last snapshot, this decep-
tively simple idea challenged one of the core features of the Soviet system,
and thus met with significant opposition and caused serious repercussions.

Two recent events--the installation of the new Soviet leadership and the 27th Party Congress in January--have triggered a flood of predictions regarding the Soviet Union's economic future. The accuracy of these predictions hinges almost entirely on one question: What are the chances that market mechanisms will truly replace the central planning of all aspects of production and distribution?

When debating this question, Western analysts often ignore a concept that has long influenced the performance of the Soviet economy and the economic behavior of the Soviet people. That concept is, of course, property--a concept Marx regarded as central to his political economy.

The communist party program endorsed at the last Party Congress, as well as Gorbachev's report to that congress, both contained criticism of certain aspects of modern capitalist society, such as unemployment, deficits, and inflation. At the same time, however, neither document mentions the superiority of socialist property over private property. Nor do they contend, as did the 1961 program, that "Socialist property in the means of production . . . opens limitless perspectives for the development of productive forces." In addition, whereas the last program called for the elimination of private agriculture plots before 1980, the new program promises to preserve them indefinitely.

This quiet reversal of Soviet ideology--from fervently extolling socialist property to a reserved recognition of socialist property as the basis of the Soviet economy--reflects an important trend in the Soviet mindset.

This change of mind and heart has several root causes. In the early 1980s, for example, a shortage of raw materials focused the Soviet people's attention on the greatest infirmity of the Soviet economy: the enormous waste of material resources.

Millions of people throughout the Soviet economy contribute to this waste. According to official data, about one-third of every harvest spoils

____________________
This article originally appeared as "Soviet Ideas on Property Invite Abuses of Capital Stock" in The Wall Street Journal on March 20, 1986.

-17-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Last Years of the Soviet Empire: Snapshots from 1985-1991
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 223

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.