The Soviet Union and the Challenge of the Future - Vol. 1

By Alexander Shromas; Morton A. Kaplan | Go to book overview
The doubt is whether all this adds up to system breakdown within five years. Let us state dogmatically a more pessimistic (i.e. pro-Soviet!) view:
1. Economic growth never actually ceased. It will probably pick up a little now, as harvest luck improves, and the new broom gets sweeping.
2. Gorbachev really is a new broom. He really is interested in moderate reforms. Between moderate and radical reform-Burks's sole prescription -- there is no great difference of promise (see above).
3. Perceived economic crisis, on the Klopper-Dirksen rules (above) means what the élite perceives. They are not going to revolt! What the people perceive is not 1% growth versus 2% growth, but sudden large movements in their own circumstances, as when Khrushchev raised meat prices; and caused the big riots in Novocherkassk ( 1962).
4. Burks's foreign examples of breakdown all had a very big component of nationalism. In the U.S.S.R. 70% of the population (nearly all Russians, for the most Belorussians and most Ukrainians) have united their ethnic loyalty with Soviet patriotism. On this, compare Maksudov's impressive contribution in volume III on the spread of the Russian language.
5. Above all, and here alone I disagree with Burks on a factual point, is what the Kremlin cannot but call foreign policy success: the slow spread of Soviet-type Marxism-Leninism within the Third World. Since the initial burst of successes in the late seventies, 6 we must add, effectually: Nicaragua, which the White House will clearly never regain; continued good possibilities in Guyana, Congo, Benin, Seychelles, Madagascar; and the slow approach to military victory in Afghanistan and Cambodia. The Kremlin is very British; it likes to see the map painted red. Nor is it wrong; real estate victories are very genuine ones, and if they go on long enough they mean, by definition, total victory. There is, then, no crisis of foreign policy failure, rather the contrary, "history" is slowly moving in the direction Lenin predicted.

This point is a crucial one, nay the crucial one. If we hold on, the "objective process" of history in the Third World will float us off. Meanwhile, then, let us merely

. . . . Keep hold of Nurse
For fear of finding Something Worse.


NOTES
1.
Disasters merely suffered -- say cue to OPEC -- are of course irrelevant.
2.
This is the doctrine of the two criteria of Soviet economic crisis. I owe it to

-169-

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