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

By Alexander Shromas; Morton A. Kaplan | Go to book overview

only possibility of change in the Soviet Union lies in the creation of some kind of enlightened absolutism which could initiate reforms. . . . Even for such an enlightened autocrat to emerge, it is imperative that there be some sort of a national crisis: a military crisis or revolutionary crisis, or both at the same time. Such a perspective, it must be noted, is in accord with Russian history." 75 According to many of those cited in these pages, the crisis Djilas spoke of has arrived. If they are right, is Gorbachev the man for such times? Has he the stuff of a Peter the Great, an Alexander II, or a Stalin? Or is he just another transitional figure, trying to halt the final dissolution of a system that has outlived its time? Time will tell. In the meantime, the ice has begun to shift a little. While we may prepare contingency obituaries for Soviet communism, it would be premature to publish them.


NOTES

I owe a debt of gratitude to a number of scholars who provided most useful comments on a draft of this paper, presented at the PWPA Conference, Geneva. These include the official discussants David Gress, Alexander Matejko, and Helena Richter; also to my former colleague Franco Rizzuto, who made helpful comments on an earlier draft of this essay. I should also like to thank Keith Bush who has made available to me a great deal of material on contemporary Soviet personalities and developments. To Alexander Shtromas I am particularly indebted. His courteous editorial guidance, his insight and vision as a Soviet scholar have been invaluable.

1
G. W. Breslauer, Five Images of the Soviet Future: A Critical Review and Synthesis, in the series of Policy Papers in International Affairs, No. 4, published by the Institute of International Studies, University of California, Berkeley, California, 1978. For a later consideration of the issues involved, see Breslauer "Images of the Future and Lessons of the Past", in R. Wesson, ed., The Soviet Union: Looking to the 1980s ( Stanford, Calif.: Hoover Institution Press, 1980); R. F. Byrnes, ed., After Brezhnev ( London: Frances Pinter, 1983); J. L. Nogee, ed., Soviet Politics: Russia After Brezhnev ( New York: Praeger, 1985); R. W. Wesson , The Aging of Communism ( New York: Praeger, 1980); A. H. Brown & M. Kaser, eds., Soviet Policy for the 1980s ( Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1983); and E. P. Hoffmann, ed., The Soviet Union in the 1980s Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, Vol. 35, No. 3 ( New York: The Academy of Political Science, 1984), are a sample of particularly interesting works by leading figures in the field on trends in Soviet development after Brezhnev and on possible futures for the régime.

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