THE SOVIET UNION

            

Empire, Nation, and

 

System

 

 

Aron J. Katsenelinboigen

 

 

 

 

 

Transaction Publishers

New Brunswick (U.S.A.) & London (U.K.)


Copyright ® 1990 by Transaction Publishers,

New Brunswick, New Jersey 08903

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright

Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted In

any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy

recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior

permission in writing from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed

to Transaction Publishers, Rutgers—The State University, New Brunswick

New Jersey 08903.

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 89-28590

ISBN: 0-88738-332-7

Printed in the United States of America

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Katsenelinboigen, Aron.

The Soviet Union: empire, nation, and system / Aron J.

Katsenelinboigen.

p.      cm.

ISBN 0-88738-332-7

1. Soviet Union—Politics and government—1917-   2. Soviet Union—

Economic conditions—1918- 1. Title.

DK266.K354 1990

320.947—dc20                                           89-28590

CIP

 

 

To my dearest friends

Helene and Herbert Levine

with love

Contents

 List of Tables   ix

Acknowledgments xi

Introduction xiii

BLOCK 1. THE SOVIET POLITICAL SYSTEM   1*

Part One: Russia's Fearsome Past, Stormy Present, and Murky

Future                                                     3

1.  Systemic Causes of the Present Crisis   5

2. A Multidimensional Approach to the Soviet Political System  29

3. Who Is Gorbachev?    65

Part Two: The Russian-Soviet Empire  91

4. Expansion of the Soviet Empire  93

5. The Military Imperial Orientation of Soviet Society  111

6. The Structure of the Second Imperial Circle, and How It Might 127

Change

Part Three: Nationalism   147

7.  Russophilism   149

8. Some Notes on Soviet Anti-Semitism 169

9. The Soizhenitsyn Phenomenon  207

BLOCK II. THE SOVIET ECONOMIC  SYSTEM  219

 

Part Four: Soviet Economic Mechanisms   221

10. General Observations on Soviet Economic Mechanisms  223

11. Inflation in the Soviet Union   255

   12. Corruption in the Soviet Union   269

13  Multicolored Markets in the Soviet Economy   291

 

Part Five: Conflicting Trends In Soviet Economics In the Post-Stalinist Era       329

14. The Anatomy and Physiology of Soviet Economics        331

15. The Development of Mathematical Economics in the Soviet 

Union in the Post-Stalinist Era       361

Part Six: Personalia                                              389

16. Jews in Soviet Economics                                              391

17. Nobel and Lenin Prize Laureate L. V. Kantorovich: The

Political Dilemma in Scientific Creativity                         405

18. The Story of a Favorite Jew; Or, Aron Katsenelinboigen is a

Proud Name                                                               425

   Conclusion                                                    449

    Index                                                                       465

 


List of Tables

1.1 Soviet Steel Production, 1945-1988

1.2  Soviet Production of Metal-Cutting Machinery and

Tractors, 1945-1987

1.3  Two-Dimensional Culture Classification

1.4 Evaluation Matrix for the Situation in the Soviet Union

1.5 Some Characteristics of the Soviet System

6.1 The Population of Ideological Groups in the U.S.S.R.

6.2The Population of Major Moslem Regions of the U.S.S.R

in 1970 and 1979

6.3 The Population of the Baltic Regions in 1970 and 1979

11.1I  Increase in Average Monthly Wages in the U.S.S.R.,

1950-1987

11.2  Ratio of Total Inventories (Retail, Wholesale, and

Industrial) to Deposits in Savings Banks

12.1 Connections between Mechanisms and the Signs of Reward:

12.2 Relations between Producers and Consumers

13.1 Basic Characteristics of the Colored Markets In the U.S.S.R.

 


First, I would like to express my gratitude to my sons, Grisha and

Sasha, for translating a large part of this book into English. In truth,

they were not mere translators, but detectives looking for meaning often

obscured by my Russian writing style. Parts of the book were translated

by Ann Kissin, William Scundrich, and Sharon Stefanowicz.

Special thanks go to Valery Chalidze, Boris Moisheson, Vladimir

Shiapentokh, and Alexander Yanov for many discussions concerning

the problems dealt with in the book. Vladimir Shiapentokh deserves an

additional "thank you" for regularly supplying me with articles from

Soviet periodicals. All these gentlemen have had a big influence on my

thinking, and I have internalized their insights to such an extent that by

now it is virtually impossible to draw a sharp line between some of their

thoughts and mine.

I am grateful to Gregory Grossman, Vladimir Kontorovich, Vladimir

Lefebvre, Herbert Levine, Pavel Litvinov, Dmitry Mikheev, Alexander

Radin, Alexander Riasanovsky, Vladimir Tremi, Valentin Turchin, and

Leo Zak, for their comments on some specific issues I touch upon in

the following pages.

For help in the long task of bringing my materials into book form, I

wish to thank Marvin Wachman, whose intervention got the process of

publication started, Katherine Steinberger, who went over the manu-

script and offered helpful suggestions, Frances Frei, Mary Kane, Vita

Kozlov and my wife Gena, whose technical assistance was invaluable.

 


Introduction

 

I emigrated to the United States from the Soviet Union sixteen years ago. Since then I have been, and still am, mostly interested in the theory of indeterministic systems and its applications to diverse areas of human endeavor. But all along I have also kept a watchful eye on the events in the U.S.S.R., which, incidentally, have provided me with a lot of raw data for my theoretical ruminations.

Yet, time being a limited resource, I somehow  had to justify to myself my preoccupation with the Soviet Union. Of course, there were millions of people there, including my friends, suffering from the lack of democratic freedoms and a falling standard of living. But the situation in China and in many African countries was even worse, and better familiarity with the U.S.S.R. was not enough to warrant a heightened interest in it.

Of course, the Soviet Union is a military superpower, and its military preparations and actions cannot leave any one, especially someone who knows the country well, indifferent to what goes on there. But the current strategic situation is such that the Soviet Union stands alone against the entire democratic world-not to mention the nondemocratic Chinese-and it may seem that the West can safely ignore whatever the Soviet Union does, provided it is well-equipped with both conventional and unconventional arms.

 The decisive consideration that helped sustain my attention to events in the U.S.S.R. had to do with the fact that the Soviet Union is technologically one of the most advanced countries and with the fact that it employs new technologies not only for military,  but also for peaceful purposes. It is in this regard that the Soviet system seems most threatening to its own people and the outside world alike. New technologies, be they in atomic energy, genetic engineering, or chemical manufacturing, are not an unmixed blessing for consumers-they pack a punishing punch if used carelessly, and can end up hurting people who live far away from the user country. In this sense they are  global technologies, and for their proper utilization they require not only an investment in enviromental protection, but also a sophisticated political and economic system. The Soviet system, however, is such that it cannot, even with the most peaceful and consumer-oriented policies on the part of the leadership, reliably avoid the evils inherent in new technologies. The Chernobyl disaster brought all this out with particular force.

The evolution of Soviet society is thus not only an internal problem for Soviet citizens debating the trade-offs between guns, on the one hand, and butter and freedom, on the other; it concerns not only those who are troubled by the unlimited power and ambitions of Soviet leadership in a period marked by the rapid development of super-lethal weaponry, whose mere accumulation might bring the world to the brink of catastrophe; it is, due to nonmilitary  but dangerous new technologies, also becoming a vital problem for people all over the earth.

I have not only thought about these problems, but have  tried to make my thoughts public in my writings: two full-length books and a host of articles. The two books Studies in Soviet Economic Planning and Soviet Economic Thought and Political Power in the U.S.S.R.  were brought out, respectively by M. E. Sharp in 1978 and Pergamon Press in 1980. Most of my subsequent articles on Soviet society came out in different English-language publications in Great Britain, Japan, and, of course, the United States. Still, a good part of what I have written on the subject has either not been published at all, or has appeared only in Russian-language periodicals, primarily in the magazines Vnutrennie Protivorechia and Vremia i My.  As far as I know, none of these pieces has been published in the Soviet Union, and only one of them, on Soviet "multicolored"  markets, was circulated in the U.S.S.R. through samizdat  channels, in reverse translation from the English.

In 1988 these articles were brought together and issued in one book, in Russian, by Chalidze Publications. The  book's  readership in the West, however, has perforce been quite limited. Because of my belief that it would be of interest to broad segments of the English-speaking public, I decided to have it published in that language, after appropriate updating and a drastic reworking of the content to turn a loose collection of articles into a unified structure. Undoubtedly, I have not been entirely successful in covering up the evidence of my "crime," with the result that the kaleidoscopic nature of the original material will inevitably reveal itself in one place or another.

One common theme running through this publication is the contradictory nature of the processes, past and present, taking place in the U.S.S.R., and the no less contradictory nature of the opinions within the Soviet Union on how to deal with them. Since each possible approach to dealing with these processes has its own backers, some quite strong, it is impossible to make any firm predictions concerning the Soviet Union's future. What I believe is possible is to outline  a general framework within which future strategic choices will be made there. To wax cybernetic for a moment, if Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Stalin wanted to see a stable authoritarian Russian empire made up of stable elements, Alexander II and Nickolas II were prepared to maintain the selfsame empire, but composed of unstable elements. In my opinion, Gorbachev belongs to the latter group of Russian rulers. But, of course, a complex stable structure does not have to consist only of unstable elements - over time, some may become more stable, others less so. It seems to me that, after a period of trials and errors, Gorbachev has  embarked on a policy of balancing a greater stability of the inner core of the Russian empire with considerable fluidity throughout its East European periphery.

The book consists of six parts; the first three deal with the Soviet political system, and the last three are devoted to the Soviet economy.

The first part deals with some general trends in the development of Soviet society, focusing on Gorbachev's efforts to replace the present ideocratic system, that is, a one-dimensional system where all powers, including the ideological one, are concentrated, with a multidimensional system. The relevant dimensions, to name just a few, include pluralism, democracy proper (not to be confused with ochlocracy, for democracy presupposes that  competent and responsible people will participate in decision-making), separation of powers, and openness. Building a multidimensional society is a very complicated process: accelerated movement along any one dimension may unhinge it from other dimensions and throw the entire system back to its original one-dimensional state. Telescoping the stages in a long process of pluralization seems particularly dangerous: a rapid transition from the publication of ideas and their discussion by professional groups, to the creation of  popular organizations and the staging of massive demonstrations in  support of these ideas,  could result in chaos when the other dimensions, primarily the democratic dimension, lag far behind. Overcoming chaos, as we know only too well, usually entails methods much more draconian than those routinely employed by governments.

In the second part of the book I deal with what I believe is the main impediment to the creation of a multidimensional society in the Soviet Union, the empire. Center stage is occupied by such topics as the impact of imperial interests on the structure of the Soviet system, particularly on its authoritarian political regime and a pervasive militarization of the economy. In discussing the latter point, I stress not so much the direct outlays for the upkeep of the armed forces, however large they are, as the general orientation of Soviet economy toward quick conversion to military production. This factor, and the fact that the branches of heavy industry that strengthen the  military potential are developed at the expense of the consumer, are, in my opinion, responsible for the type of society that exists in the Soviet Union and for the problems that it faces today: a deep exhaustion of human, natural, and capital resources. It seems unlikely that the U.S.S.R. can meet its present challenges without changing this tradition of militarism.

However, the empire has been accumulated over the past seven hundred years-to be sure, under different slogans-and it won't be easy for the Soviet leaders to give it up. Hence, in the last chapter in this part of the book I tackle the following question: Is the perestroika launched by Gorbachev  merely a breathing spell before a new leap toward greater Russian military might, or does it signify a change of tradition away from militarism and toward heavier emphasis on a consumer economy? Given the prevailing strategic realities in the world, such an economy is hardly compatible with the existence of the empire. On the whole, I tend to believe (and this hypothesis receives a detailed treatment in part 1 of the book) that Gorbachev's objective is not democratization, but a preservation of an authoritarian imperial regime (a constant of Russian history) through flexible means  (on the model of Alexander II or Nicholas II).

In the third part of the book I continue to elaborate on this thesis and apply it to the ethnic problems in the U.S.S.R. I describe a spectrum of the strength of ethnic sentiments ranging from cosmopolitanism to chauvinism, with internationalism, patriotism, and nationalism being the intermediate forms.

  Among other things, I discuss the prospects for the victory of Russian nationalism and even chauvinism in a situation characterized by imperial stagnation, shortages of consumer goods, an intended increase in the prices of main food staples, the threatened layoffs of millions of workers, and powerful separatist ethnic sentiments. Under these circumstances, and given the still extant Russian imperial tradition, the reactionaries could profit more than the liberals from Gorbachev's policy of activizing the people through glasnost. This view is very different from the conventional one, which welcomes glasnost  and only regrets that there is not yet enough of it.

The Russian tradition and its real-life doppelganger, anti-Semitism, play a key role in my argument, and I discuss them at length in this as well as in other parts of the book. I try to show that anti-Semitism continued almost uninterrupted throughout the Soviet period-only the rationalizations for it occasionally changed. Because of poor compatability between the cultures of the Russians and the Jews, it is quite possible that the Jewish problem in the Soviet Union is insoluble.

 In the second half of the book I take up several problems concerning the Soviet economic system. The economy is an organic part of the whole Soviet system that is responsible for plunging the country into a crisis. During Gorbachev's rule, the economic situation has not only failed to improve, but it has actually gotten worse, especially regarding the supply of consumer goods. The foundations of the economic system have remained virtually unchanged. A wide-ranging program of reforms aimed at a rapid transition to a market economy, which Gorbachev announced soon after coming to power, has so far proved infeasible.

First, I offer a critical examination of the Soviet economic mechanism as a whole. I also put forward a somewhat unconventional analysis of certain essential features of the Soviet economy, namely, inflation, corruption, and multicolored markets. Soviet authorities have long tried to hush up these phenomena, believing dogmatically that they inhere only in a capitalist economy. They were not supposed to exist, and hence did not exist in the Soviet Union.

 Second, I assume that one of the key problems of perestroika lies in the lack of well- thought-out alternative strategies of Soviet economic development. That's why I want to examine the actual effect that Soviet economic science has had on the evolution of the national economy, and suggest some reasons for the conceptual poverty of Soviet economists.

Third, I present a kind of a kiss-and-tell story of the history of Soviet economic science. I was not only an observer, but an active participant in some of the events to be described here.

 These three broad questions are treated respectively in parts four, five, and six. In   part four  I also offer several suggestions for improving the economic system. My major thesis is that what a mature industrial Soviet economy needs to rid itself gradually of the fetters of central planning is an indicative optimal plan, to be drawn up with the help of modern mathematical methods. The shadow prices of such a plan can serve as a first approximation to market prices. This, of course, does not mean that I am against immediate decentralization in certain selected areas of the Soviet economy, especially agriculture and trade.

Marshaling specific arguments for my major thesis, I contrast the conventional "plan-market"  paradigm used for analyzing Soviet economy with what I believe is a much richer  paradigm of "vertical" and "horizontal" mechanisms ( by "vertical" mechanisms I mean those where there is subordination of some economic actors to others; "horizontal" mechanisms imply the equality of actors). The trouble with the plan-market dichotomy is that it prevents us from seeing a true variety of organizational economic schemes. Vertical mechanisms, for example, may entail not only planning, but also a Keynesian-type  macromanagement, that is, governmental interference in the market through built-in economic stabilizers.

In this part, I look closely at one kind of vertical mechanism, which I call deconcentration, and oppose it to decentralized, that is, horizontal mechanisms. A decentralized business concern is an independent organization, financed by its owners. Under deconcentration, hierarchical subordination is retained, but the upper levels of the hierarchy do not interfere as much in the internal affairs of lower levels, and the number of controlling parameters that the lower levels have to comply with are reduced. Explicitly stated, the principle of deconcentration (1) enables us to see how it is possible to construct flexible vertical mechanisms, and (2) helps us to avoid the conceptual error of identifying the economic categories of prices, money, and profits with capitalism. These categories are economic invariants. Functionally equivalent, they differ only in the ways they are formulated-by a central body in vertical mechanisms, or through local interactions, in horizontal mechanisms. The truly schizophrenic nature of  Soviet planning reveals itself in the fact that, even with a small degree of deconcentration, the planners cannot construct a price mechanism capable of equilibrating costs and the centrally-determined production priorities.

 Among horizontal mechanisms I distinguish primarily between market and nonmarket mechanisms, the latter being represented by universities, foundations, and the like. The market institutions are designed to protect the interests of consumers, by endowing them with the power to determine demand; the nonmarket institutions (not to be confused with vertical mechanisms, for the nonmarket structures can be horizontal) aim at securing the interests of producers, mainly the producers of new ideas. An advanced dynamic economy needs both market and nonmarket institutions. Only their mix will vary at different stages in the economic process, which range from R and D to material production.

Further, among the horizontal mechanisms I point out a special class of what I call "centralized horizontal institutions."  These are detailed and binding contracts for the production and delivery of goods between equal actors who operate within the constraints of aggregate parameters formulated by the center. Poor performance by this type of horizontal institution is chiefly the result of various malfunctions within the vertical institutions.

In the fifth part of the book  I look at various proposals made by Soviet scholars for improving the country's economy (the crisis in the economy was the chief reason behind Gorbachev's wide-ranging reforms). My main concern in this part is with mathematical economics: I want to show what illusions it engenders and what positive contribution it can make toward improving the system.

 The irony here is that professionally sophisticated Soviet economists-who in effect undermine the foundations of official economic science with their modern mathematical models-work on the kinds of problems that tend to strengthen the centralized politico-economic system; whereas their socially more progressive counterparts-the opponents of centralized planning and the champions of more viable market mechanisms-operate within a conceptually outdated framework of eighteenth century vintage, and often confuse a Western market with a Middle-Eastern bazaar.

But most Soviet economists are quite conservative both professionally and politically. Cleaving to Marxist economic science, which so appeals to their common sense, they want to preserve the present system, or, at best, give it a minor face-lift.

With such an intellectual base, it is a daunting task for the nation to attempt a  restructuring of its stagnant economy. When the West faced a major crisis in the 1930s, it had Keynes, the Cambridge school, and a good many economists who were sophisticated enough to be able to understand and implement the revolutionary ideas of that school.

Individual human dramas inevitably accompany and mirror great institutional struggles. That is the reason why the sixth part of the book is devoted to a number of Soviet scholars who have greatly influenced the evolution of the economic science in the U.S.S.R. Pride of place here certainly belongs to Leonid Vitalyevich Kantorovich, who was a mathematician, an economist, and a winner of both the Nobel and Lenin prizes. In working on a seemingly small problem concerning the optimal utilization of capacity at a plywood trust, this extraordinary man solved the famous Monge problem. In an equally brilliant demonstration of theoretical insight and, more significant, professional courage, Kantorovich generalized the plywood trust problem to the national economy as a whole: he represented the national economic  model as an optimization problem, and saw in the Lagrange multipliers-the parameters of the model to be treated by the then new methods of linear programming-a most important economic category: price. An iconoclast in science, Kantorovich was, however, a political and ideological conformist-a fact largely responsible, in my view, for stymieing his further scholarly progress. Such are the sad ironies of Soviet reality.

I hope that the questions raised in this book will facilitate a better understanding of the current events in the U.S.S.R. The polemical edge in my work is doubtless somewhat blunted now, since glasnost made it possible for Soviet media to delve deeper into certain issues that had received only superficial treatment in the past, among them the problems of the roots of the Stalinist tyranny, and the backwardness of socialism in comparison with capitalism. The rate of thematic widening of glasnost  has exceeded all my expectations: Marx and Lenin have come in for criticism and lively discussions are being waged on Soviet foreign policy. Just yesterday these subjects were  sacred cows, and it seemed that they would remain off-limits for the foreseeable future.

Glasnost  notwithstanding, there are still issues (for example, the fate of the empire, or Gorbachev's personality) that are politically so sensitive  as to be virtually closed to debate. The main point, however is that even those issues that are in principle open to debate-the chances for the survival of pluralism, democracy, separation of powers, and openness in a period of economic stagnation; the nature of inflation and corruption; etc.-have received scarcely any serious critical examination in the U.S.S.R. For too may years Soviet social scientists have lagged far behind their Western counterparts, and it is bound to take at least as long a time to close this gap as it took to open it.

I believe that on the whole Western Sovietology is of a much higher intellectual caliber than Soviet Sovietology. This is not only because scientists in the West can speak freely without fear of their countries' internal security forces. It is also because Western Sovietologists have been able to  benefit from the broad conceptual progress in the social sciences, from which the bulk of their Soviet colleagues have until now been barred.

Still, there is plenty of room for improvement, especially in terms of methodology, in Western social sciences, too. This is true for both general and particular problems, from the creation of mutidimensional political systems to the study of inflation.

I hope that the present volume, which brings together many of my writings on the Soviet Union, will enable our Sovietologists to sharpen their methodological tools and that it will draw them back once again to certain aspects of Soviet life-past, present, and future-that, unfortunately, no longer cause scholarly controversy. And I hope that the general reader will profit from an encounter with a somewhat unconventional point of view.

 


 

1

Systemic Causes of the Present Crisis

 

Symptoms of a Crisis or Just a Slight Cold?

 

The events in the Soviet Union in the past fifteen years that preceded  perestroika, give rise to the question, " Are the negative phenomena visible there merely the result of short-term fluctuations, or the symptoms of a deep-seated systemic crisis?" The prevailing viewpoint, shared by Gorbachev, is that the country faces a crisis situation.[1]

The decisive sign of stagnation in the economy was the drop-off, dating from the late 1970's, in  the  growth rates in heavy industry. The main element in the ideological justification of the Soviet system has always been its ability to sustain a rapid growth in that sector, which was said to be the key to the country's defense posture and to the prospective welfare of its citizenry. To that end, everything else was sacrificed, including the service sector, light industry, and agriculture. But when the growth rates, and occasionally even the net output, in heavy industry began to decline, without any concurrent improvement in the consumer sector, one could legitimately start  questioning the efficiency of the Soviet economic mechanism as a whole.

Table 1.1 illustrates the situation with steel, which in the Soviet Union is considered a leading economic indicator, similar to automobile manufacturing and housing construction in the United States.

 


We can see that the increase in steel production in the 1975-1980 and 1980-1985 periods was only 25 to 30 percent of the increase in the preceding periods. Moreover, toward the end of the 1975-1980 period even the net output declined, from 151, 453 thousand tons in 1978, to 149, 099 thousand tons in 1979, and 147, 941 thousand tons in 1980.[2] The production picked up somewhat in subsequent years, but the growth rates have not changed substantially, especially compared to those in the 1945-1975 period.

True, a decreasing steel production could be a progressive phenomenon, signifying lower steel consumption per unit of output due to its better quality, increased sophistication in the manufacturing of steel products, or the appearance of substitutes in the form of plastics and nonferrous metals.

I do not have the figures on Soviet trends in steel consumption per unit of output, if for no other reason than that most of them are still classified. Faute de mieux, we have to look at what has been happening with steel-related products. For the sake of simplicity, I have chosen two of them, metal-cutting machinery and tractors, which, thanks to their bearing on defense, are of considerable importance for the Soviet leadership. The data in Table 1.2 are presented in physical terms in order to factor out  price fluctuations.

 

The downswing in heavy industry has been so severe that the overall growth of the Soviet GNP  has ground to a virtual halt.

The troubled economic situation becomes all the more significant if we realize that it was preceded, and is now being accompanied, by a host of long-neglected and very serious social problems.

In my view, the present economic crisis in the U.S.S.R. is not a transitory aberration, but the result of more than seventy years of exploitation by the socialist system.

   A sharp drop in the overall rate of industrial production has been accompanied by such phenomena as the exhaustion of natural resources in inhabited regions, and increasing plant and equipment obsolescence. Demographic problems constitute another symptom of a deep illness of Soviet society: birthrates are falling, the death rate and infant mortality are on the rise. The latter trend has little to do with the temporary problems in infant care, but is rather the result of   a general degradation of the entire generation of newborns. The incidence of mentally retarded children has also increased. These demographic trends are linked to growing alcoholism and increased pollution (exacerbated by the lack of appropriate safety equipment in industry), the prevention of which requires significant capital expenditures.

One could cite many other symptoms of a deep illness of Soviet society.  Anomie and cynicism are a mass phenomenon. Communist ideology provokes greater indifference than contempt. Heavy drinking (according to a new version of the theory of historical materialism, a new stage has emerged between socialism and communism : alcoholism) and ingrained corruption in places high and low are universally tolerated.

Since the symptoms I've enumerated have been widely discussed in both Western and Soviet literature, there is no need for me to dwell on them here. The mere mention of them is enough for a knowledgeable reader to conclude that there is a deep crisis in the Soviet society. Next, I will try to examine several important underlying reasons for this condition. I do not plan to prescribe radical cures, but the reader is asked to excuse me if I sometimes give in to the temptation to offer tentative advice.

 

Is The Soviet System Pathological?

 

What is the role of socialism in bringing about the present crisis of Soviet society? This, it seems to me, is a key question.

Before we tackle it, let us first fix a few concepts: the concept of a healthy versus a sick economic system, and, second, a normal versus a pathological economic system.  A healthy system is one in which development corresponds to the wishes of the members of the society (provided they have not been suppressed by the authorities); in a sick system, development diverges from the wishes of the members of the society.

 Respecting normality and pathology,  Russell Ackoff, with whom Jamshid Garajedaghi and I taught a course on the pathology of social systems at the University of Pennsylvania, opined that a pathological system is distinguished from a normal one by the fact that a pathological system cannot, using the means at its disposal, maintain a normal regime and combat malfunctions.  In other words, a system's illness is not an indication that its condition is pathological.  Pathology arises when the system is incapable of handling the illness on its own.

Now let us apply Ackoff's idea to the analysis of the capitalist and socialist systems.   Marxism, for example, considers the capitalist system sick and pathological.  Its illnesses are plain to see: inflation, unemployment, crime, prostitution, homelessness, poverty, etc.  According to Marxists, the pathology of the capitalist system is defined by the fact that under capitalism  private property reigns, and each person pursues his own selfish interests, which in turn engenders anarchy together with social, economic and political illnesses.

 Since under socialism property belongs to all the people, and the system is guided by the State Plan in the interests of the people, Marxism considers it to be normal and healthy.

Of course, this view of the two systems is a radical one- in each, only pluses or minuses are acknowledged. In a somewhat 'softer' version, Marxism would hold that the ills of capitalism  are stronger than its healthy traits, and its pathology stronger than its normalcy.  For socialism, the judgement would be reversed.

This is precisely the sort of view that reached its peak in the early 1930s. A deep economic crisis that struck the developed capitalist nations; the World War I which preceded it; the moral decline - these were all the results of internal capitalist developments,  in no way attributable to communist intrigues.  By that time, the U.S.S.R. had embarked upon a large-scale industrialization.  Soviet cities were growing, there was a labor shortage, people were singing optimistic songs.  The fact that this process was accompanied by the destruction of a strong peasantry followed by an orgy of political trials against the so-called 'enemies of the people,' was put down by Western liberals to 'growing pains.'  In other words, if the ills from which the West was suffering appeared to the liberals to confirm a pathological character of Western societies, the maladies of the Soviet system were seen by them as mere growing pains, as minor sores on a normal body politic.

Looking back, it is easy to understand how difficult it must have been  for Western liberal intellectuals to identify precisely the pathological and normal cases. Exposes in an ever critical and free Western press only strengthened the perception of an impending doom. Because the Soviet press was under strict Party control, and the annihilation of millions of people was carefully concealed, the liberals could take comfort in the thought that the alleged brutalities were a fiction invented by the enemies of the young Soviet regime. 

With the benefit of hindsight afforded by more than seventy years of Soviet rule, we  can judge more clearly which system has  proved to be normal and which pathological, again, from the point of view of the Western liberal. The West did manage to live through the most critical stage of its illness and  recover, even though many  sore spots still remain  and cause a great deal of trouble. Soviet society has entered a prolonged period of stagnation, and there is no indication now that it will be able, even in the long run, to provide for the development of a kind preferred by Westerners.

To be sure, the picture is not all that simple. We cannot say that Soviet society lacks features that most of its citizens find attractive. Arguably, many people, from the most diverse strata, like the idea of the paternalistic state. The Soviet people are also quite eager to see their standard of living increase, and they resent the fact that the system can't provide it for them. At the same time, the majority of Soviet people, or, more precisely, Russian people, would strongly prefer an enhancement of  their country's military might to personal welfare, that is, they would be willing to sacrifice individual material values and creature comforts for collective military interests. It is not easy to evaluate the Soviet system in terms of values shared by the Soviet people themselves, for it is hard to assign proper weights to various components of people's preferences.

My guess is that a Western person tends to see the Soviet system as pathological. For the majority of Soviet citizens, maybe even an overwhelming majority, their system, though sickly, is normal and not pathological. Soviet people by and large tend to believe that their system  can overcome the current problems and fulfill  their aspirations, with the important proviso that to do so it needs a good leader. Only a small minority of active people, who cherish the ideal of independent initiative, can be said to reject the system. Their sentiments are perhaps shared at the top by a fairly large number of leaders who think that the system cannot reliably secure the enhancement of state power, which is a necessary condition for the enhancement of the leaders' personal prestige. But the majority of people - leaders and citizens alike - are convinced that a Soviet-type system shored up by Stalinist controls ( but without Stalinist excesses ) is more attuned to Russian culture.

At the risk of gross simplification, I would hazard a two-dimensional classification of cultures premised on (1) the nation's craving for leadership and (2) its ability to work without compulsion. Allowing only binary choices in each dimension ( and adding illustrative examples for each type of culture ), produces the matrix shown in table 1.3.

 

What is it in the mentality of the Russians that makes them opt for authoritarianism? That Russians are a capable people can be amply demonstrated. To cite but one fact among many, recall the rapid Soviet industrialization of the 1930s, which brought forth a huge professional cadre of Russian engineers and workers able to operate and maintain sophisticated equipment. At the same time, it is well-known that the Russians are much prone to drinking, besotted debauchery, and irresponsibility. Apparently, the Russians themselves are aware of their character defects, and hence crave a strong leader who can save them from harmful temptations and channel their energies toward constructive ends; among those ends a militarily powerful and independent Russia capable of repulsing any foreign invader occupies pride of place. The historical record of Russian arms is deeply rooted in the consciousness of the people who have been willing to sacrifice so much in both victory and defeat.

I believe that it is the culture of the nation, and especially its way of resolving the tension between the civil rights and socioeconomic rights, that ultimately determines its choice between capitalism and socialism.

 

What Do Soviet People Prefer More - Civil Rights or Socioeconomic Rights?

 

There is much in Russian culture that is in keeping with socialist ideals. This is not to say that all  Russians subscribe to these ideals. Far from it. Only that the champions of a non-socialist orientation in Russia have never constituted that critical mass which is needed to replace the dominant value system.

There are many preconditions for capitalism, one of which is the presence of a critical mass of people with a certain value system. A key element in this system is the relationship between man and society. The crux of the matter can be expressed as follows : Does the individual exist for the society, or the society for the individual?

The Protestant ethic, which has nourished the development of some  Western countries, and especially that of the United States, is largely premised on the notion that the society serves the individual. This squares rather well with capitalism's cult of the individual.[3] On the other hand, those Christian countries that are Catholic or Orthodox tend to subordinate individual interests to  collective ones, and exhibit a fairly strong proclivity for various kinds of socialism, including the corporatist one, that is, fascism. Social structures are by no means uniquely determined by religion, but it may be surmised that the primacy of the individual over the collectivity is a sine qua non of any stable capitalist order.

The Russians tend to operate on the assumption that man is subordinate to society.[4]

When the Russophiles argue against the West, that is, the Protestant capitalist West, they stress the organic unity of Russian society, in which the individual is but a subservient part of the whole body politic.

Where one stands in relation to the man-society dichotomy has many important consequences. Specifically, it affects one's attitude toward  civil and socioeconomic rights.[5]

Principally, civil rights are the birthrights that man does not want anyone to take away from him; socioeconomic rights are those rights that man insists be given to him.

In the former case, the individual wants to preserve his right to speak freely, to choose his political leaders, to decide independently where to live and to work. In the latter case, the individual wants someone else to  feed, clothe, and, educate him, provide him with housing and medical care, compensate him for his mistakes, and instruct him in the best life to lead.

Each kind of right entails its own form of responsibility. With civil rights, man assumes a personal responsibility for the consequences of his actions, including negative ones. With socioeconomic rights, man has to give up his freedom to satisfy the demands of the provider, for how else can the provider be sure of a proper disposition of his largess? It is not inconceivable for a provider to be motivated solely by philanthropic considerations, but, alas, the charitable impulse is always in short supply, and it runs out particularly fast when the demand for it is strong. When too many people desire socioeconomic rights and personal security, they have to ask the collectives to effect redistribution coercively. In prerevolutionary Russia, these collectives were peasant communities; in the present-day U.S.S.R., it is the whole society.

In a word, the "gimme" types have to be prepared to suffer authoritarianism and to part with their freedom. The hope for sustained, non-coercive charity is unrealistic. The ideal of a "gimme" person is a strict but fair-minded leader who generously dispenses all sorts of goodies to the people.

The leader, however, is after all only a mortal human being, with interests of his own. His interests may sometimes coincide with those of the majority of the people, but they may also diverge. In any event, an authoritarian regime is poorly suited to effect sustained technological progress or the multiplicity of organizational changes that such a progress requires. An authoritarian regime does much better at setting specific, clear-cut goals, and gearing up the entire country toward the realization of these goals. Unfortunately, this pattern of development leads in fairly short order to the exhaustion of the country and, most likely, to prolonged stagnation.

The leader of an authoritarian state has a hard time securing his prestige by a marked and steady growth in his subjects' material welfare. For him, a more reliable and effective path to personal glory runs through outward expansionism. This path  is all the more tempting the firmer the leader's grip on the country. His grip is the firmest if he is a hereditary ruler or a liberator. Despairing of any quick results along the road of internal betterment, he pins his hopes on creating a new movement, an expansionist ideology of foreign conquest and subjugation.

This policy enables the leader to satisfy not only his personal ambitions, but also, to a degree, the interests of his subjects. Economic and social resentments are drowned in the roar of patriots proud of their country's military might. The populace acquires a feeling of national superiority, and also a sense of greater security, for a larger and stronger country is less threatened by foreign invasions. For a country like Russia, itself a victim of frequent outside attacks and prolonged occupation, this feeling is especially acute.

Moreover, a policy of expansionism affords the leader a certain safety valve: he can now shunt the active part of the population into the newly occupied territories by granting them land and governmental positions. The potential foci of opposition are thus removed from the mother country, and become the regime's bulwark in the colonies.

The circle is completed: an authoritarian regime driven by expansionism harmonizes the interests of  leaders and of a populace composed largely of "gimme" types.

The Soviet experience shows, though, that the recipient may soon discover how self-serving and tightfisted his 'benefactor' really is. With this new awareness, he is likely to switch to the opposite extreme, and instead of praising the dispenser, he takes to lambasting him. The aggrieved party, cheated by the benefactor, the recipient now feels no compunction about gypping him too. There is a ground-swell of immorality and corruption, with most people being convinced that swindling the government is a noble and heroic activity, shunned only by imbeciles.

Such, on the whole, has been the history of the Muscovy Russian state for the past seven hundred years. And today, too, we can expect conflict between civil  and socioeconomic rights in Russia. That's why Russian history must be studied thoroughly. I totally subscribe to the proposition that  a country  ashamed of its past  has no future. In judging the past, however, it is not only the end- result of the historical process, but also the process itself that are important.[6]

A leader who champions civil rights will defend his position by general appeals to the requirements of technological progress and economic growth. Some Soviet officials have repeatedly stressed lately that, without civil rights, Russia will not overcome its present economic backwardness, and may even lose its superpower status and slide down to the rank of a Third ( or, as someone remarked pointedly, even a Fifth) World country. Undoubtedly, technological progress is important for maintaining  superpower status. Certainly, a country that respects civil rights enjoys better prospects for technological advancement and increased efficiency. Yet, without going into a theoretical discussion of the correlation of civil rights and growing prosperity, I can only say that a supporter of human liberties in the U.S.S.R. would be hard put  to parry the arguments of a Russian chauvinist and  backer of authoritarianism. To the former's contention that civil rights are needed, if only to keep Russia itself militarily strong, the latter may reply in something like the following manner:

" Why are you trying to scare us with your talk of military backwardness if we don't democratize?! Look at the situation Russia was in at the end of the seventeenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. It was a backward country, repeatedly beaten by Sweden, which at that time was one of the most influential powers in the world. The Swedish Empire included Finland and the southern Baltic littoral; its expansionist ambitions were enormous. But then came Peter the Great, who rapidly industrialized Russia, built very powerful land and sea forces, smashed the Swedes, and annexed the long-coveted Baltic coast to Russia. Where is your vaunted Swedish Empire now, who remembers it? The Empire created by Peter, on the other hand, has not only been preserved, but also much augmented.

"A similar situation obtained in the 1920s. After World War I, Russia was again a backward country unable to produce modern weaponry domestically. Stalin changed all that in  very short order. The power that he helped create was sufficient to rout Hitler and to expand the country both east and west. Russia's might, and the ability to produce modern weapons, did not stop increasing after the war, either. Many in the West believed that it would take us twenty years to make our own A-bomb. In the event, it took us only three years: the first Soviet atomic bomb was successfully tested in 1948. In August 1953 we had a successful aerial test of the H-bomb. True, we did not then have  a powerful strategic air force to take the bomb to the target; but we were already close to having a new means of delivery, the missiles. And when, in 1957, we had our first Sputnik shot, the West was shocked, for it lacked anything like it.

"All this was done largely under an authoritarian Stalinist regime. Therefore, we think that the Russian people have a unique national character, more in tune with such a regime, which even today hasn't lost its capacity to preserve and multiply Russia's might. As to the low standard of living, and even human casualties, these are not as important to us as is Russia's power. On this point we are very different from the West. We have been prepared to suffer in the past, and will be ready to suffer again in the future, for a great cause of Russia's glory, provided the country is ruled by a strong leader capable of channeling its power in the right direction."

 

What is Socialism?

 

Thus, civil and socioeconomic rights can clash: to secure civil rights, it may be necessary at times to sacrifice socioeconomic rights, and vice versa. But regardless of people's preferences for one or another set of rights, they all want to see an increase in their overall quality of life. Moreover, people belonging to an extraverted culture ( and both Westerners and Russians are extraverts) also want to see an increase in their standard of living, which is an important component  of life's quality.

The demands for a higher quality of life may come into conflict with the demands for a higher standard of living. For example, the existence of economic inequality may lower a quality of life of the economically disadvantaged. The socialist principle "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his work" is a quintessential expression of the idea of equal distribution. Indeed, if distribution were to be organized in accordance with just the first part of the principle, considerable inequality would follow as a result of differences in people's abilities. The same would be true if only the second part of the principle were to be used as a criterion for distribution: the work that people perform differs not only in terms of volume, but also in terms of content, that is, in contribution, however defined, that it makes to the national product. What the socialist principle as a whole asserts is that the ratio of individual abilities to individual output, and hence the renumeration, be equal for all actors - more gifted people are expected to produce more than people with lesser abilities.

We should also note that the socialist principle of distribution has no room for  a category of savings-generated income resulting from deferred consumption.[7]

An emphasis on economic equality, on the other hand, may deprive people of incentives to produce, and, more importantly, prevent the emergence of those groups of individuals who, having accumulated considerable wealth, can perform decentralized investments into the new and risky ventures in the arts, sciences, and engineering projects. In other words, an economic inequality may prove a necessary condition for welfare growth.

Obviously,  equal distribution is easiest if the society is infinitely rich and can secure for all its members an equally high level of welfare. A poor society that puts a premium on socioeconomic rights can attain equality of distribution only at a low level of satisfaction of its members' wants. That the poor's commitment to egalitarianism might clash with the need to preserve skilled professionals should, however, also be taken into account.

There are some well-known theories which purport to reconcile the conflict between civil and socioeconomic rights. Once harmonized, they are alleged to guarantee a simultaneous growth of welfare and  quality of life. It is such theories that I choose to call socialistic.[8]

The ideology of socialism challenged the society based on the primacy of civil rights, for the latter, even though it may promote growth of living standards, does not guarantee socioeconomic rights.

If we assume that the goal of socialism, as here defined, can never be completely attained, it becomes, in the terminology of Russell Ackoff, an ideal.[9] The fact that ideals are unattainable does not however preclude a successful movement towards them.

Sweden has probably come closest to the ideal of socialism, and the Swedish experience has of late been studied rather closely by Soviet liberals. But the Swedish model, too, is fraught with considerable dangers. An emphasis on equality and security has produced a highly progressive income tax schedule, cut into the number of rich people, and sharply curtailed the role of individual capital investment. Therefore, one should not feel surprised at the not-too-distant electoral defeats of the formerly unchallengeable Swedish Social-Democratic party. Similar phenomena can be observed in Norway and Britain. All this reminds us that we have to exercise extreme care when dealing with ideals, and never lose sight of the fact that ideals are situations to be striven for, not feasible objectives. Moreover, the attempt to reach an ideal by accentuating only some of its dimensions can result in losses along other dimensions, the slowing down of the motive forces of development, and eventually even in the deterioration of the ideal in toto.[10]

The ordered pairs of rights we have discussed so far represent only the starkers choices; various mixed strategies and compromises between them are also possible, as the experience of the United States and some Western European countries (e.g. the FRG, Italy) so amply demonstrates. The aim of these compromises was not to provide all socioeconomic rights to everybody, but some of these rights (in the US, a minimum hourly wage, social security) to those individuals who have temporarily fallen on hard times (in the US, the system of Medicaid and Medicare). The inequality in these countries has also shrunk thanks to the introduction of a progressive income tax.

Whatever the possible combinations between the civil and socioeconomic rights, on the one hand, and welfare and quality of life, on the other, the key terms in my definition of socialism ( in a descending order of importance) are security, growth of living standards, growth of quality of life, and civil rights.

The parameters here selected make the designation of various countries as socialist somewhat less stringent than demanded by current practice. In my scheme, a country may be considered predominantly socialist if its standard of living is comparable to that of the developed inegalitarian nations, if its citizens enjoy wide-ranging socioeconomic rights and security, and if popular dissatisfaction with a fairly slow welfare growth is less than it would have been in the face of greater inequality engendered by significant increases in production and total material prosperity.

We should not, however, call a country socialistic if it merely declares the primacy of socioeconomic rights, but subsists at a low level of quality of life and a low standard of living, with a sluggish, or even declining rates of growth.

Let us also note that a commitment to socioeconomic rights might be unrealizable due to the lack of adequate resources. The Soviet medical system which, though free, now faces a crisis situation (especially in terms of care for the elderly) is a good case in point. Because of small budgetary allocations to and excessive bureaucratization of the medical system (too many doctors are involved in management, doctors' salaries are low, and it is hard to attract talented individuals, especially men, into the profession), many people are denied assistance; the hospitals are instructed not to admit the people over sixty years of age, and in effect sacrifice the old for the benefit of the working young and the middle-aged.

 Thus, it is essential not to confuse easy access on the part of the majority of the people to various goods and services with their guaranteed and free provision. In my view, the former consideration is socially more important than the latter.

The benefits of socialism can be provided in a number of different ways - vertically, by the government, or horizontally, through a compact between private persons and their organizations such as trade unions.

It should be pointed out that a very likely consequence of the pursuit of the socialist ideal is the emergence of a hypertrophied state, for how, without such a state, is the society to guarantee full employment and extract the 'surplus' from the enterprising individuals who could refuse to submit voluntarily to excessive taxation?

Thus, the goal of creating a society that can simultaneously safeguard the growth of living standards and that of quality of life  through the (mis?)alliance of socioeconomic and civil rights, could very well be an impossible dream. There are other, more possible dreams, for instance, the one of equity that tries to combine individual civil rights with a minimum of socioeconomic rights.

 Different ideals of course do not operate in isolation from each other - they  interact, but not necessarily converge. It is quite conceivable to imagine a continuing coexistence of multiple mutually enriching ideals. An American ideal of individualism and civil rights, for example, has not only received a boost from racial anti-discrimination laws, greater freedom of speech, and  such legislation as the Freedom of Information Act, but has also been considerably expanded due to the influence of socialism by the addition of various socioeconomic rights.

A few more clarifying remarks are in order concerning the concept of socialism.

Socialists are of course known to look primarily to socioeconomic rights, as the long-running ideological battles between the Soviet Union and the civil rights-oriented Western countries testify. But, paradoxically, it may very well be that socialists should place a major emphasis on civil rights, because the latter presuppose the kind of political system that is best at seeking the level of socioeconomic rights at which the living standards are (minimally) prevented from falling.

Also, I think it would be wrong to call a country socialist if its prevailing value system is militaristic. Even if such a country does well on the score of socioeconomic rights, it still does not fulfill the promise of welfare growth.

Third, as Valery Chalidze pointed out to me, socioeconomic rights, such as a right to work, should not be confused with a corresponding socioeconomic obligation, which, unfortunately, is the case in the Soviet Union. A Soviet man must work, otherwise, he may be branded a parasite and punished.

Finally, a few words about financing socioeconomic rights: this can be done either by appropriate supplements to recipients' income, or by providing services free of charge. The choice, I believe, is a function of the general standard of living in the country, and of its culture. If both are low, the first financing option is unwise: a man given money to visit a doctor may instead spend it on drink, because the consumption of liquor has a greater current utility for him than good health.

Now let us look at some specific developmental alternatives for the Soviet Union.

 

Combinatorial Sovietology

 

Stimulated by the ideas of the American political scientist , Edward Luttwak, I offer here a two dimensional matrix linking the primary orientation of Soviet policy - internal or external - with the leader's evaluation of the country's short-term (four-five years) and long-term prospects. Each of the four cells in the matrix carries a value which represents the leader's belief in the possibility of  change  (for the sake of simplicity, let this value be either optimistic or pessimistic) .

Each decision by the leader is based on his assessment of its overall effect on all four elements in the matrix. Arguments for and against a pessimistic or optimistic evaluation in the matrix can be found in  table 1.4.

Each entry in the matrix depicts a pure strategy. In reality, 'mixed strategies' usually predominate. It is not too difficult to evaluate the arguments for and against pure strategies. The weights to be assigned to 'pure' components of mixed strategies are much harder to calculate. Let us now examine some arguments in favor of several possible pure strategies.

In one scenario, the leader evaluates the internal situation pessimistically in the short run, thinking it the result of a deep systemic crisis that cannot be quickly remedied;  in another scenario, he also views the long-term internal situation pessimistically, believing that the system is presently incapable of taking radical steps needed to ensure progress in the future ; in the third scenario, he views the long-term external situation pessimistically because the mere existence of three major industrial democracies, (the US, Japan and West Germany) and China's industrialization potentially pose all kinds of threats to Russia; in the fourth scenario, he evaluates the short-term external situation optimistically because his country has an enormous superiority in conventional weapons and at least a parity in nuclear ones. The last optimistic evaluation may encourage the new leader to ally himself the with right-wing chauvinists and  seek a solution to the crisis through external expansion, which, unfortunately, is Russia's traditional method of choice. In the event, say, of a successful attack on Iran and especially on China, he would be forgiven anything. Nothing succeeds like success. Victory would make him a hero and overshadow all else, as it did for Stalin, Peter the Great, and Ivan the Terrible .

The essay on Ivan the Terrible in Karamzin's "History of the Russian State" sounds impressively current. What is Ivan remembered for? For a further centralization of Russia, for the conquest of Novgorod and Pskov, Kazan and Astrakhan. That there was an oprichnina (secret police), that he devastated half the country, that he massacred thousands of human beings, all seems secondary.[11] It is no coincidence that Stalin extolled Ivan - after Peter the Great, Ivan was his role model. All three sacrificed their children for the sake of the state, and all three were above any kind of human feelings.

Successful expansionism will reunite the people and win prestige. But unlike Stalin, Khrushchev or Brezhnev, a new Soviet leader will have to execute an aggressive foreign policy not only for political, but also for economic ends. A conquest of Western Europe and the Middle East will bring in considerable new resources. Naturally, the West anticipates such a scenario; the statements of some Western leaders that, in the event of Soviet aggression, tactical nuclear weapons would be used, could hold the Soviets back. Furthermore, Israel's convincing military victory in Lebanon sheds serious doubt on the strength of Soviet conventional weapons; similarly, the Falklands war and the destruction of the Soviet outpost in Grenada, show that the West has the will to fight for its ideals.

In another scenario, a Soviet leader may believe that the U.S.S.R. will, in the future, flourish economically. The availability of significant numbers of educated and talented people, and the existence of an industrial base,  may support such an evaluation. At the same time, he may also, for the aforementioned reasons, pessimistically evaluate the internal situation in the short run. In such an eventuality, an extremely complex question arises -  how to balance a prospect of a brighter future with a poor situation in the near term. It will be hard to convince the people to accept a continued low standard of living. Without material improvements, a major political liberalization will also be somewhat risky. In this case, it will be very important for a new leader to obtain economic assistance from the West in a form that neither shackles nor humiliates him. For the West to help a new Soviet leader overcome the difficulties of a transitional period will be a rather delicate diplomatic task. If the Soviet leadership could guarantee that the deep liberalizing changes in their system are irreversible, the West perhaps could offer the Soviet Union up to half of what would be saved in reduced arms expenditures to enable it to get through the transitional period.

In the sixth scenario, a new leader evaluates the short-term internal future optimistically by assuming that the military pressure on Russia can be relieved through the lessening of tensions with China or Western Europe. The resources thus freed can be used for retooling the old industrial plant and creating new capacities. By the same token, it is also possible to maintain (and, for stability's sake, even to somewhat tighten) the existing political and economic structure, while reminding the people that a centralized economic system successfully managed the country's industrialization in the 1930s and its reconstruction after World War II. A new leader, however, may also be pessimistic about the internal situation in the long-term and the external situation in both the short and long term. Such a scenario may seem highly attractive to him personally, but dangerous for the nation if the changes he initiates are not accompanied by the efforts to create a free society sometime in the distant future. A resolution of the maturing crisis will only be postponed in this case, with a risk that it could flare up later with a much greater force. Patching up a system full of holes, applying Band-Aids to ride out a storm, is not the safest of policies.

I do not pretend to offer an exhaustive analysis of all possible evaluations a new leader could make of the existing situation; my goal is rather to draw the reader's attention to the  paradigm that makes clear the future alternatives open to Russia.

Now let us sum up what has been said so far. The Soviet Union is in a crisis. A deep illness infecting the Soviet society is the result of systemic causes: for more than 70 years, the regime has been wantonly wasting its human, natural, and capital resources. I have noted the alternatives that are available to a new leader - a choice among them will depend on whether he believes that the Soviet society is curable. The key question is, does the Soviet Union possess the strength to overcome its illness, or is the illness pathological?  A pathological system is one in which the authorities cannot or will not, and the people are unable to, remove the barriers to development. In this case, only a radical intervention from without can cure the disease .

I believe, I want to believe, that the country has the strength it needs to carry itself out of the crisis, that is, that the Soviet society is not pathological. Cautious optimism is to be preferred to incautious pessimism whenever the latter attitude cannot be conclusively established. The choice is whether to begin the process of structural change or to try and maintain the system as it is. Naturally, as always, there is an intermediate possibility - patching the system. The option, as earlier noted, is a very tricky one, since it could create false hopes of recovery. Patching could be concealed in a guise of semi-liberalism and at first look like a recovery. By the same token, half-measures may produce a mass disillusionment and an even worse spiritual decay.

A central issue among the various future scenarios generated by the concept of "Combinatorial Sovietology," will be the leader's evaluation of the interrelation between expansionism and the country's crisis. Another aspect of cardinal importance which is present in many of the possible scenarios concerns the preconditions for future Soviet growth. Movement  toward  a free society apparently requires that the country be able in the short term to focus on solving the long-range problems. Of course, an ideal situation is one in which the short-term  improvements simultaneously create the preconditions for long - range reforms. However, such a harmonious policy is hard to execute -  improvements in the short term, if the country is in dire straits, demand so much energy and mental concentration from the leader, that he has little time to work on longer range problems. Therefore, in a crisis, external aid is all the more important to give him a chance to deal more effectively with the long term. But because it is difficult to verify whether the various policy initiatives are genuinely reformist, the leader may be tempted to use external aid just to alleviate the current problems. (Recall the sad experience of Poland under Gierek.) In other words, a policy of semi-liberalization could be very ambiguous: it could lead to the creation of preconditions for an effective reform in the future, or it could merely be a cosmetic means of postponing the terrible day of the system's unraveling. Therefore, it must be evaluated with the greatest care.

Now we can flesh out somewhat the general typology outlined above. The key variables in my analysis come from a Joseph Berliner's paper on the future of Soviet economy.[12] I broke these variables into ten categories, adding some to several categories where I deemed appropriate. Under this classification, and  supposing that only one variable will be utilized in each category, (of course in reality there can be combinations) it is theoretically possible to count 2,688,000 different scenarios.  Naturally, many of these scenarios are incompatible, (the study of incompatibility can be of interest in itself) and inevitably only a few of them are truly feasible.

 

Using the terms of the scheme, the current situation in the U.S.S.R.. may be characterized  as follows. I. The erosion of Stalinist ideology. II. A mixture of nationalism and internationalism. III.  A preservation of the empire through flexible means.  IV. A diminishing role of the Party. V.The erosion of the command model of economic management and a system of hierarchical appointments. VI. Decreasing consumption. VII. A significant role of semi-legal and illegal (corruption, theft) distribution methods. VIII. The development of the country in the interests of  several interest groups .

To make the peculiarities of the present period more vivid, let us set it against the preceding, Stalinist period, and a possible future one. The post-war Stalinist era was characterized by the following: I. Stalinist ideology. II. Russian Chauvinism. III. Striving toward world domination. IV. A leading role of the repressive institutions. V.  A very strong role of the Party in the economy. VI. A strict command system of economic administration (including the substitution of labor camps for material incentives) and hierarchical appointments VII. A very slow growth in the standard of living (especially in the rural regions). VIII. A significant role of legal  unofficial distribution methods IX. The development of the country in the interests of the party bureaucracy.

Which scenario is likely to prevail in Russia over the mid-term? Anticipating somewhat the conclusions of subsequent chapters, I expect the following. The traditional Russian ideology is likely to replace the communist one. Communism is playing an increasingly minor role in the still dominant Stalinist ideology. There are indications that the Soviet people have not only stopped believing in communism, they have actually grown hostile to it . Naturally, in the multinational Soviet empire where the proportion of ethnic Russians is decreasing, a resurgence of the traditional Russian ideology will encounter serious problems.  The leading role of the ethnic Russians in the management of the state makes it possible for them, however, to revive this ideology. I should note that there exists an opinion that the young generation of Soviet leaders may be more liberal, and may not follow the traditional Russian ideology. Freedom from marxist dogmatism, a higher level of education and professional culture, desire for contacts with the West, and similar arguments are commonly used to support this opinion. If, however, we recall the general difficulties of introducing a pluralistic democratic ethos in the U.S.S.R., we can expect that the new leaders too may opt for the traditional Russian ideology. From history, particularly that of Germany and Russia,  we know that during crises, a country lacking democratic traditions is likely to return to its time-tested national ideology.  Erudition and freedom from marxist dogmatism are not insuperable obstacles to becoming a chauvinist. The joint growth of Russian chauvinism and nationalism among various social groups (especially among the intelligentsia), and a deep hostility toward communism, bear out my point. The victory of the traditional Russian ideology may lead to the revival of Russian chauvinism as a basis for dealing with the current ethnic unrest. The issue of the empire is a central one here. The Russian tradition of preserving and expanding the empire was vigorously continued after the October Revolution. Stalin significantly extended the land borders of the empire. Khrushchev and the leaders following him took a new and important step - they began to transform Russia into an empire with overseas possessions. If Lenin and Stalin ultimately dreamed of becoming the rulers of the  entire world, the post-Stalinist leaders returned to a more traditional Russian policy of aspiring only to a world power status. However, there are no guarantees that the new leaders of the U.S.S.R. will not want  to become global overlords again.

If the nationalist groups win out, a leading role in economic management will shift to the state. The Communist party, as an ideological institution, will be replaced with the Orthodox Church. 

A mixed economy of sorts is likely to emerge. Small-scale production in agriculture, as well as in consumer goods and services, will devolve to decentralized private institutions. The major sectors of the economy, where the large-scale enterprises predominate, will retain their centralized structures of hierarchical appointments. We may also expect that the use of the theory of optimal planing will usher in significant changes in management practices. This theory, together with  modern mathematics and computers, makes it possible to construct a system of centralized management based on the principle of deconcentration. By deconcentration I mean that the center will not interfere overmuch in the internal economic activities of enterprises, and will considerably reduce the number of parameters by which it plans and judges their activities.

One may assume that the policy of imperial expansion will be supplemented by increases  in the production of consumer goods. In fact, Soviet leaders of the Brezhnev type had similar goals, but they have not achieved significant results, as they did not want to change the system. The new leaders may believe that systemic changes will allow them to pursue successfully both objectives.

 Finally, a word about the social groups that will likely supervise the process of change.  They are the right-leaning intelligentsia, the military, and the Komsomol leaders.

 Much time may be needed for the Soviet Union to evolve in the direction of a free society. But it's important to start and, where possible, to make the positive results irreversible.

 

 

Notes and References

 

 

1. I believe that Gorbachev  stated this for the first time in his address titled "O zadachakh partii po korennoi perestroike upravlenia ekonomikoi," presented at the Central Committee Plenum on 25 June 1987:

"Today, when we talk about radical restructuring of economic management, it is vital to recall what the real situation was in our economy back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By that time the rates of economic growth had fallen so low, as to virtually signify stagnation." (Pravda, 26 June 1987).

2. Narodnoe khoziajstvo, 1980:158.

3. It was quite natural for many establishment conservatives in America, among them Milton Friedman, to criticize President John F. Kennedy (incidentally, the only Catholic ever to occupy the White House) for his famous statement "Ask not what your country can do for you..."

4. This point is borne out even by anecdotal evidence. Over the past fifteen years, more than 150 thousand Soviet emigres have settled in the United States. Every year they have to fill out their income tax returns which, as we all know, contain plenty of loopholes. To use the law in this way to one's advantage smacks to Soviet emigres of illegality; they can't help thinking that even a perfectly legal action must directly serve societal purposes. Moreover, for many Soviet emigres, there is no difference between using the law to one's advantage and breaking the law.

5. In the thoughts that follow I borrow heavily from my private conversations with Valery Chalidze, and from his many publications on the subject of rights. See, for example, V. Chalidze,  The Soviet Human Rights Movement  (New York: The Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights, 1984).

6. In connection with this, A.Yanov's The Origins of Autocracy (Berkeley: University  of California Press,1981) is of great interest here. It attempts to show that the preeminently conservative trend in Russian history, which has endured over the course of many centuries, is the result of a struggle between contrasting and opposing tendencies rather than of the country's monolithic nature.

7.The Soviet economic theory tries to ignore the issue of income from savings. Various attempts to hide behind the facade of 'earned' savings do not turn the trick because, in any case, the income in question does not flow from current work effort. The interest paid on savings deposits in the Soviet Union has almost nothing to do with the official policy of encouraging savings as against current consumption. The real reasons lie elsewhere. One is that the authorities want people to keep their paper money at governmental banking institutions, and not at home, and thus save themselves the trouble of printing more currency. The other reason is that in case there is a run on the banks, triggered by a wave of panic buying or hoarding, the government, using emergency powers, can simply sequester the holdings. This is precisely what happened at the time of World War II.

These days, as the amount of paper money being held by the population accumulates prodigiously, and the shortages grow worse, there is much talk in the Soviet press about devising ways to stimulate savings. One of the proposed measures calls for a sharp increase of the interest rate, which at present equals only two percent.

8. Communism in this regard is different from socialism in that it not only promises a material improvement to the people, but also a satisfaction of all their needs.

9. R. Ackoff, Creating Corporate Future (New York: Wiley, 1981).

10. I call this the "butterfly effect." When the butterfly comes too close to a lamp, seeking more light and warmth, it gets singed.

11. My late mother repeatedly referred to a quote, supposedly by Catherine the Great, to wit: "What are you talking about people for? - people give birth to more people, but land doesn't give birth to more land," referring to the idea that people are expendable.

12. J. Berliner, "Planning and Management" in A.Bergson and H.Levine,ed. The Soviet Economy: Toward the Year 2000 (London: George Allen&Unwin,1983),350-90.


 

2

Multidimensional  Approach to the Soviet Political System

 

General Remarks

 

The Soviet political system was created not in accordance with a specific preexisting blueprint, but rather on the basis of some vague Marxist notions about an ideal future society, conceptualized as a purposeful, controlled system, or, more precisely, as a harmonious, planned system. The exigencies of political life exact a heavy price for such a lack of forethought, giving birth to  political systems that are always unpretty, and oftentimes downright ugly- top-heavy structures pinnacled with an omnipotent leader. Such was the system that, in basic outline, was built by Lenin. Stalin only went a little further in the same direction, making the system even more rigid. The post-Stalinist system has totally retained the basic structure created by Lenin and embraced by Stalin. The post-Stalinist leaders though have shown a greater flexibility and have noticeably softened the regime. If, however, the system itself is not transformed, there can be no guarantee of Russia's stable peaceful orientation. What is the place of democratization in the process of the overall systemic transformation?

In disputes over a future political shape of Russia, democracy is usually offered as an alternative to autocracy. The democrats clamor for mass participation in politics; the autocrats insist on having a strong leader when the people are incapable of making decisions by themselves.

Methodologically, this level of discussion is absolutely unsatisfactory. Indeed, nothing could be simpler (or cruder) than to pick  one, supposedly dominant, aspect of a complex structure, imagine that it can have only a positive or a negative value, and rate all political systems on the basis of this dichotomous division. A country, then, might be judged democratic by whether it does or does not respect human rights, or whether it limits or does not limit its leaders.

It would be a significant step forward if,  instead, we tried to introduce at least a degree of development along the chosen dominant dimension, and to delineate certain transitional phases to represent different kinds of democracies. A mere shift from a binary to a tripartite approach to human rights, for example, will enable us to speak of fully democratic countries, that is,. those countries where these rights are practically respected without exception; semi-democtratic countries, which observe these rights to a significant degree; and nondemocratic countries, which  do not comply with these rights at all.

Even this simple shift, from two to three possible states of the system with respect to one parameter, can have important policy implications. Consider, for instance, the conceptual framework of the Carter administration. It started out by dichotomously dividing all countries into democratic and nondemocratic according to their human rights performance. The Shah's Iran, which with regard to that dimension I would rate as semi-democratic, was judged by Carter's administration  to be nondemocratic, as well as truly subject to American pressure. The results of this policy were not long in coming.

In truth, however, no single parameter can do justice to the concept of a free society. Instead, we have to represent such a society as a multidimensional entity, and understand that the movement along each axis has to be so regulated as to ensure an overall positive effect for the system as a whole. Too rapid an advance along any single dimension, if uncoordinated with the states of development of the other dimensions, may unhinge the entire system, and throw it back to a condition even more primitive than the original one (below, I will illustrate these points with some specific examples, primarily from  Russian-Soviet history).

A degree of the development of a free society is, thus, a function of many independent variables, complexly interrelated. Unfortunately, when democracy is discussed, it's usually looked at as a one-dimensional entity, rather than as a multidimensional one. Therefore, it may be better, when describing a multidimensional entity, to use the term "free society,"  and reserve  "democracy" proper to a more narrow sense, as just one of the dimensions of that society.

The most important dimension, in my view, is pluralism. It has to do with a special mechanism of decision making based on a diversity of ideas. Another dimension, democracy,  refers to a number of competent and responsible individuals participating in this mechanism. Democracy in this sense should not be confused with ochlocracy, or mobrule.

Other characteristic dimensions of a free society are the separation of powers in the system (ideological, legislative, executive, and judicial), and the openness of the system (free import and export of information, goods, and people). Only when all these dimensions are fully developed can we speak of real restraints upon the power of the leader; and these restraints are a necessary condition for any long-term progress.

Each dimension is an aggregate that can be further decomposed into subdimensions corresponding to different aspects of the relevant aggregate dimension. I will give some examples of these subdimensions, particularly with reference to pluralism. For the sake of simplicity, I shall use the term 'dimension' disregarding its degree of aggregation. In principle, each dimension ranges over a continuum. But it could be split up into stages or phases, each with its own distinguishing characteristics.

Thus, a free society represents a multidimensional field, with each dimension having a certain number of stages. I have to repeat that the development of a country has to proceed in a rather sophisticated manner along each of these axes, so that the stages across all axes be always in harmony with one another. The  effectiveness of a social organization is determined by its ability to form multidimensional systems incorporating many stages along each dimension, and subsequently integrate the processes that take place in the system.

                    

Ideology and Ideocracy in the U.S.S.R.

 

The Soviet Union was created as an ideological system designed to realize the great goal of building communism. The promises to build communism in a short time, that is, within the life span of a single generation, were given by Lenin, in his famous speech at the 1920 Komsomol Congress, and by Khruchshev, in the 1961 Program of the CPSU. Stalin, too, made similar pledges, but more cautiously. Addressing the Eighteenth Party Congress in 1939, Stalin said:

"We have outstripped the major capitalist countries technologically and in terms of industrial growth. This is very good. But it's not enough. We also have to bypass them economically. We can and must do that. Only if we overtake the major capitalist countries economically, can we hope to completely meet our demand for consumer goods, and take a leap from the first stage of Communism to its second stage.

But this takes time, and  lots of it. We can't overtake the major capitalist countries economically in two or three years. This will take a little longer."[13]

Only in the post-Khrushchevian period have the Soviet leaders actually stopped making any specific promises about the timetable for building communism, but the goal itself remains an important part of the official ideology. To be sure, the attitude of both the leadership and the people toward that part of the ideological corpus has changed considerably. In these days of glasnost, there are many shades of opinion on this score, ranging from sincere professions of faith in Communism to its open criticism in the media.

There is one intermediate position between these extremes that, I think, is crucial for understanding the present situation in the country. This position came into its own during the life of Stalin, and since then has remained largely intact. Let us, therefore, call it the "Stalinist Cocktail."

Stalinism, as an ideology, represents a combination of Marxism-Leninism and the old traditional Great Russian  ideology (belief in the tsar, the fatherland and Orthodoxy). There is a fairly wide-spread conviction that Stalin created this ideology only after the war's turning point, or even after the war's end. There was, for example, Stalin's famous Kremlin address to the Red Army  Commanders on May 24, 1945, in which he raised a toast to the Great Russian people "who are the most outstanding nation among the ethnic groups that make up the Soviet Union."[14]

The Kremlin speech notwithstanding, I think that the above conviction is in error. Stalin started to promote the Russian idea as early as 1924 when he, using anti-Semitism among other means, managed to isolate the party's left wing, that is, the proponents of permanent revolution. However, in the 1920s the ''Russian idea'' was still hidden.  It came to the surface at the beginning of the 1930s and blossomed in later years (for more details, see the part 3,  " Nationalism.")

Relatives of Alexander Kosarev (a Komsomol leader who perished during the Yezhovshchina) told me that after a meeting with Stalin, (the event occurred in 1934?) Kosarev recounted how Stalin openly insisted that his (Stalin's) person be glorified - of course, not for his own personal gain, but for the sake of socialism.  In other words, we see that the first part of the triptych of Russian ideology, the image of the tsar, was being born again.   

Another thing that occurred in this period was the rebirth of faith in the fatherland -  the second part of the Russian ideological triptych. This is something that is widely known and scarcely requires special examples.

The third part was religion. I know from several prominent historians of the existence of documents, dating to the mid 1930s, concerning a policy change with respect to priests. Subsequently,  the Bezbozhnik (Atheist) society and the magazine of the same name were closed down. Signs of this turnaround became more visible after the beginning of World War II, when, in 1942, Stalin received the patriarch and gave him his permission to open seminaries, even though the antireligious Marxist propaganda continued as before.

Dating the revival of the "Russian idea" by the early 1930s, may help us to explain why there was a certain discrimination in the annihilation of various groups during the Great Purges. Why did such writers as Boris Pasternak, Andrej Platonov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Anna Akhmatova, and Mikhail Zoshchenko survive? They all died of natural causes. My theory is that in the heyday  of communist ideology, the leader feared 'heretics' rather than 'atheists.' These writers were atheists in terms of communism, inasmuch as they rejected the Soviet ideology in total. Furthermore, they were Russian artists, a not insignificant circumstance, and therefore could be trusted. The leadership understood that these people did not like the Soviet regime, but were not about to do anything bad. Far more dangerous were the heretics, such people as Isaak Babel, because he somewhat believed in the Communist dream but disagreed with the leadership on how they were going about pursuing it. Worse, he wanted to uncover the root causes and find out where things had gone wrong. And Babel wasn't an ethnic Russian. Incidentally, the opposite situation seems to be the case today when the ideological structure is faltering - the atheists are more feared than the heretics. That's why the authorities will be infinitely patient with the likes of  Roy Medvedev while suppressing outspoken anti-Soviet dissenters, left-wing and right-wing alike.

In this way, Stalin created an ideology - a kind of 'fulminating powder'- in which such slogans  as " The Workers of the World Unite!"  "The Workers Have No Homeland," and "Religion is the Opiate of the Masses" virtually coexisted with "For the Faith, the Tsar, and the Fatherland."

It would seem that the Stalinist ideology was internally inconsistent: the three parts of the traditional Great Russian ideological triptych completely contradicted Marxism. It is well known that Marxism does not approve of personality cults, nationalism, and religion. How were the two mutually exclusive ideologies  reconciled? Was this not Orwell's 'doublethink?'

Yes, it was doublethink, a phenomenon otherwise known as 'split consciousness.' Common sense people infected with doublethink can hold two or more contradictory assertions at the same time. If this kind of defective common sense is not challenged, it can examine each proposition  in isolation from the rest - a sort of ideological 'divide and conquer' perpetrated by the mind.

Let me illustrate this point with an example. In the Soviet Union, the following model of Lenin exists: Lenin was the paragon of modesty; during the Civil War, he refused to accept special food packages, gave away his meager rations to starving children; he was humble in both life-style and dress. At the same time, the Soviet government opens a Lenin museum in Gorki, near Moscow, on the grounds of the former country estate of a Tsarist high official. There, among other things, we are told that Lenin came to Gorki to hunt. How could the paragon of modesty have a country estate where he came for hunting with well-fed hounds? What kind of an impression could this make on 'commoners?' What kind of a hero goes off hunting and stays in a luxurious palace lodge when the country is starving ? But Soviet  people readily accept both versions of Lenin as true.

The same phenomenon of doublethink existed on a larger scale: the two mutually exclusive  sides of Stalinism,  Marxism and Russian nationalism,  were 'bought' by the masses.  The official Soviet ideology even today differs little from this  Stalinist Cocktail.

Glasnost, however, has already spawned a new modification in the official ideological corpus, a democratic one. Such publications as Ogonyek and Moscovskie Novosti run stories that assert democracy as a positive liberal ideal for the country.  I am talking about the positive goals, and not merely a criticism of the official ideology, especially its communist element, because the sharpest critics of communism belong not to the liberal camp, but to the nationalist circles. The magazine Novyj Mir, which leans toward moderate nationalism, is a good case in point.

Therefore, I believe it is incorrect to assert that the Soviet ideology is completely Marxist. Moreover, as the ideology evolved , its communist element was increasingly pushed aside. To sharpen the point, let us distinguish between the goal and the means of the communist ideology.  By the goal I mean the construction of communism. The Communist slogans have by now turned into the objects of derision. Khrushchev, with his promises to build communism in twenty years, finally managed to kill the communist ideal in the Soviet Union. The shortest Soviet political joke consists of one word, and that word is "Communism." In a popular Soviet film, Little Vera, released in 1988, the heroine openly snickers at communism as a societal goal.[15] This part of the communist ideology is dead as a doornail.

By the means  of Communist ideology I mean economic planning and organization. This tenet of communism does accord with the Russian mentality, and many still believe in it. Therefore, when I speak of the 'bankruptcy of communist ideology' I mean that its ideals are laughed at.  Many people, however, still labor under the illusion that the existing system is sound, and can even be significantly improved.

Does this mean that the communist part of the Soviet ideology as a whole can be completely ignored? I don't think so, because the leaders continue to manipulate the symbols of the communist faith, albeit mainly for outside consumption: a "scientific" promise of building heaven on earth which Marxism holds out, is ineradicable, and will always attract devout followers. The Soviet leaders though  may just as well manipulate the anti-communist symbols, if the interests of the state so dictate.  I recall a conversation I had with an old communist at the end of the 1950s, when Khrushchev invited Nasser to Moscow. My friend's outrage knew no bounds: how could they receive such a person in Moscow, place him as a honorary guest on top of Lenin' s tomb, and award him the gold star of a Hero of the Soviet Union after he had annihilated the Communist party in his own country? But Khrushchev well understood that, besides ideology,  there were his personal interests, state interests, and imperial interests - and  these were the main things.

How did Hitler resolve the ideological problems after concluding the nonaggression pact with Stalin in 1939? A reconciliation of fascism with communism was bound to look impossible in the eyes of the German people, especially after many years of anticommunist propaganda. One of Hitler's underlings - I think it was Rosenberg - proposed to reformulate the essence of Soviet communism as 'the Slavic version of fascism.' This semantic device helped to justify an ideological alliance with the Soviet Union: the Russians did not have communism, but rather 'the Slavic version of fascism.'

In other words, when a politician needs to dress up his actions in some specific ideological garb, he can  do it quite subtly, as the example of Hitler demonstrates. Therefore, one should not take at face value the communist rhetoric of  Soviet leaders.

Now let us come back to the evolution of Stalinism.

As the role of communism in the Stalinist ideology decreased, its other part, the "Russian idea," gathered momentum and grew to such an extent that it threatened to become the wave of  the future. Why is the so-called Russian wing so dangerous? Because it has a long tradition behind it, a tradition only temporarily interrupted by the Bolshevik Revolution, and revived quickly under the Stalinist Thermidor. Therefore, studying the evolution of Stalinism helps us to better predict and understand the future course of Soviet developments.

Is nationalism really so dangerous? The experience of many countries in the second half of the twentieth century is marked by a resurgence of nationalism. I believe in ethnic variety, and know of no better means to preserve it than through the system of nation-states. Nationalist sentiments are not bad in and of themselves, provided they do not turn into chauvinism (incidentally, regressing a bit, recall that if at the beginning Stalin championed Russian nationalism, at the end he became a hard-core Russian chauvinist). The danger of nationalism is that it can grow and change into chauvinism. This is especially true of a large country with a global war-making capability. If such a country in addition finds itself in a crisis, the danger is magnified manifold. Under such conditions, fanatical nationalists and zealots with an abundant  emotional charge needed to run the country, could come to power. They would be ready to go to great lengths and to make heavy sacrifices to 'save' the country and satisfy their own interests. Fanatics never doubt the sincerity of their cause. That's what's terrifying. Their chauvinism, just like any other kind of fanaticism, could cause much grief.

But no matter how strong the nationalist ideology is in the Soviet Union, and whatever its attractions for the Russian people, one cannot ignore the possibility that some kind of a liberal ideology may develop there. The country does have a significant liberal intelligentsia which continues the great traditions of Russian liberalism. There is also an alternative of maintaining essentially  the present ideology, while reducing in it the role of  nationalism. This could be done by replacing the currently Moscow-oriented but indigenously recruited leaders in the Republics with Moscow-bred cadres, who will smash up the separatist elements.

      Ideocracy.

The system that the Bolsheviks set up in Russia came to be run by the organization that, in theory, was to be responsible only for the ideological questions. But, as has already been intimated in the previous section, this organization, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, controls all aspects of societal life, both in space and in time. And this role of the Party is codified in the country's Constitution.

The Bolsheviks were by no means the first people to create an ideocratic system. In the past, these systems have primarily been theocracies headed by religious leaders with unlimited power. For example, almost 150 years, until the middle of the eighteenth century, the Jesuits virtually ran a state within the state in Paraguay. Theirs, however, was a simple control system, because the Jesuits ruled only over the Indians, who themselves did not belong to their order. The Indians were organized around agricultural communes presided over by two Jesuits wielding total authority. Their decisions concerning the internal life of the commune were carried out by the Indians[16].

By contrast, the Soviet ideocratic system is one of the most complex systems of its kind.

 The ruling ideocratic party in the U.S.S.R. controls all aspects of societal life both in space and in time. Party leaders have to resolve all issues: Should ballerina Maya Plisetsky be allowed to travel abroad?[17] In what direction should the economy develop? What should be the attitude toward religion? What foreign policy decisions to make? How to guide the activities of the communist parties in the West? Inevitably, they also have to take care of the intra-party activities that concern several million party members. ''Secular" institutions, essentially combining legislative and judicial powers, were set up to promptly implement those decisions that went beyond intra-party issues. These secular institutions, however, were largely staffed by members of the selfsame party.  

The party apparatus is organized along geographical lines, and vested with total authority over all organizations within a given territorial unit. Secular institutions are both functional and territorial in nature, with the functional hierarchy being the predominant one: territorially, secular bodies can control only local organizations. However, In a basic  unit of control, be it an office or a factory, the situation is the exact opposite of what it is at the top of the pyramid, with the secular leadership enjoying undivided authority.

To manage the system, Soviet leadership thus needs to coordinate the activities of three separate hierarchies:  the party apparatus, the secular functional bodies, and the secular territorial bodies. Conflicts of interest between these three sets of actors engender enormous friction and inefficiencies.

 Below, I"ll try to show that the Soviet system can hardly be improved without eliminating this triple hierarchy, separating the Party as an ideological body from the State, and drastically modifying secular institutions. It goes without saying that the transformation of the Soviet Union into a free society conceived as a multidimensional entity, will require considerable time and plenty of meticulous work.

An important methodological guideline for such an undertaking was rather successfully formulated by an outstanding Russian literary critic, Mikhail M. Bakhtin. Writing about the poetics of Dostoevsky, he said:

"Thus, no new artistic genre ever nullifies or replaces old ones. But at the same time each fundamentally and significantly new genre, once it arrives, exerts  influence on the entire circle of old genres: the new genre makes the old ones, so to speak, more conscious; it forces them to better perceive their own possibilities and boundaries, that is, to overcome their own naivete.  Such, for example, was the influence of the novel as a new genre on all the old literary genres: on the novella, the narrative poem, the drama, the lyric. Moreover, a new genre can have a positive influence on old genres, to the extent, of course, that their generic natures permit it; thus, for example, one can speak of a certain "novelization" of old genres in the epoch of the novel's flowering. The effect of new genres on old ones in most cases promotes their renewal and enrichment."[18]

 In my political philosophy I adhere to the principle that if an institution appears on the scene and endures for a long time, it must be fulfilling an important integrative function. Therefore, the proposals to  dismantle such institutions should not be taken lightly.  Moreover, if some institutions have suffered an untimely denigration, or even destruction, we should think of ways to rebuild them.

Pragmatic arguments about the benefits of eliminating a particular institution may prove to be narrow-minded, and fail to take into account the institution's various influences on society's integration. I do not dispute the existence of dysfunctional institutions, primarily those that try to fulfill too many functions at the same time.  Such institutions tend to completely dominate the  governmental bodies - an ideocracy is an appropriate example. Still, I do think it entirely reasonable to simply  destroy them.  A more appropriate course would be to  concentrate on gradually limiting their power through the introduction of new institutions.

I believe that the radicals, who try to dismantle entrenched political institutions rather than to elucidate exactly what functions they perform and attempt to limit their role, are mistaken. 

 

Thoughts on the Use of  Monarchies and Aristocracies

 

The comments at the end of the last section are particularly applicable to the following two institutions: aristocracy and monarchy.

 

On the Use of Monarchies. 

Seemingly outdated, monarchy can still perform a number of very important social functions. It derives its meaning from representing the nation's enduring values. When the monarch is constitutionally limited and excluded from direct participation in politics, he becomes a symbol of his country's age-old traditions, its history, its character;  in other words, everything of which the people are proud.  A king's visit abroad is a particularly significant demonstration of these principles, and not, as a rule, a politically-motivated decision.

 Although it's not quite de rigueur, academically, to borrow thoughts from the reactionaries-good liberals never quote Hitler approvingly - I cannot resist the temptation to cite an opinion on the importance of monarchy expressed by the famous Soviet mathematician and a Russian nationalist, Igor Shafarevich. In one of our private conversations, he said that the society should have two opposing kinds of  institutions - one, to be praised, the other, to be criticized.  It is not exactly clear whether it's beneficial to make the same institution an object of love and of criticism. The British monarches, the symbols of national unification and integration, rarely if at all draw critical fire.  

If you must criticize, there's the Parliament -- go ahead and criticize the government.  But there is also something constant, revered, like the Ten Commandments.  The laws can be modified as needed, but something should remain sacred.

The people's genuine love of the monarchy is very apparent in Holland.  The king's birthday is a national holiday.  The people, dressed in holiday attire, come out into the streets, enjoy themselves, and express pride in their country.

In many places, the love of the people for a monarch ( a constitutionally limited one) also reflects pragmatic considerations. When visiting Thailand in 1983, I attempted to make contact with "the masses."  For a tourist unacquainted with the local language, such contacts often boil down to conversing with taxi drivers or the hotel staff, as they know a little bit of English.  I asked two cab drivers the same question: "How do you feel about your King?  Why do you need him? It seems a waste of money to pay a person who actually has no power!"  One of the drivers - both of them, by the way, turned out to be 'monarchists' - gave a particularly curious reply:  it was precisely because the king was uninvolved in politics that he was able to be honest. Parliamentarians and civil servants, immersed in the current affairs of state, were corrupt. The king, according to him, was also able to pay more attention to common people.

In addition to its symbolic influence, a monarchy performs a number of  important social functions. For example, a British king or queen, being a symbol of the nation, can virtually rehabilitate a formerly stigmatized official by inviting him to a formal reception. This is what I believed happened with Profumo.

The destruction of monarchy in a country where it has existed for a long time is extremely dangerous. It may very quickly be replaced by a different institution, which will perform essentially the same role, but much less benignly. While an established monarchy may have accumulated a vital experience of prudent governance, institutions that replace it often fall into the hands of political novices, who, in their eagerness for abrupt and decisive action, can do much damage to the country.

Let's look at Iran. What was the cardinal mistake of the Islamic Revolution?  In my view, it was the destruction  of  monarchy.  Maybe the shah was bad, maybe the dynasty was bad, but it was not right to destroy the institution.  As soon as it was destroyed, the resulting vacuum was filled by Khomeini.  And in comparison with Khomeini who behaved like a caliph, the shah was an archliberal.

The need to maintain the institution of limited monarchy has been recognized by a number of historical figures, for example, by General Douglas MacArthur, who preserved the institution of the emperor in Japan, and by General Francisco Franco, who transferred power to  King Carlos of Spain.

Right after the Revolution, Pavel N. Miliukov declared that the tragedy of Russia was the elimination of the tsar: not the tsar himself, not the dynasty, but specifically the institution.  In a country where the personality of the monarch played such a significant role over the course of centuries, this was risky.  The Bolsheviks understood the significance of the moment.  Nicholas II was replaced by Lenin who exploited the image of "the people's tsar." The famous painting Lenin with the Messengers is the most obvious testimony to this.

 In the U.S.S.R., Stalin and other leaders have occasionally been taken for tsars. Once, at a taxi stand in Moscow, an elderly woman came up to me and asked how to get to the Novodevichy Monastery.  "I want to pay my respects to Tsar Nikita," she said.  "And then," she continued, "I'm going to the Red Square to pay my respects to Tsar Vladimir."  I know of a similar story in the Kirov region where, during the war, a woman called Stalin "Tsar Joseph."

Thus, strange as it may seem, I would like to see a restoration of constitutional monarchy in Russia. One should not, however, confuse a constitutional monarchy with a "monarchical constitution." Under the former arrangement, the institution of monarchy is only one of a number of institutions forming the pluralistic political structure, the other being represented by an elected parliament which fills top slots in the executive branch,  an independent judiciary, opposition parties, a free press, and the like. Under a "monarchical constitution," the monarch, with the help of  his own constitution, more or less creates an illusion of a structurally sophisticated political system.  In fact, he alone rules the country, making decisions on major issues, chiefly those of war and peace. Of course, after seventy years of Communism,  resurrecting the institution of monarchy in Russia may seem bizarre or even impossible.  However, if we consider the rapid gains of the Russian right wing movement and those groups within it that call for the restoration of absolute monarchy, the only thing that will appear bizarre in my proposal is the insistence on constitutional monarchy.

 

On the Use of Aristocracy.

The modern civilized world universally espouses a negative view of the institution of aristocracy. Of the developed nations, only Great Britain has preserved a system of aristocratic titles. Criticism of aristocracy, of hereditary aristocrats in particular, is founded on the rejection of the idea of an exclusive ruling elite. 

First, a few theoretical observations. There is a well-known distinction in economics between public and private goods. Public goods (e.g., national defense,  lawmaking) are those goods the amount of which does not diminish with consumption. The amount of private goods (e.g., food, clothing) does diminish with consumption. The production of public goods is the responsibility of the government since they are not marketable products. Private goods can be produced either by the government or by the market.

 Looking at history, we can see that the nations with a strong commitment to the production of public goods, had a pretty powerful aristocracy. The existence of aristocracy proved a tremendous long-term boon to them. Why?

If the government is involved in the production of goods, it pari passu  is involved in the appointment of people who have to supervise the process of production. As far as appointments are concerned, the loyalty of an employee to his employer is the decisive factor. The professional qualifications of a would-be employee may also seem important, nay controlling, for an employer chiefly preoccupied with national welfare.  Actually, the employer's interest in his own power is usually so much stronger than his civic concerns that he easily overlooks the employee's professional defects and concentrates on his fealty instead. This practice, if unchecked, eventually threatens to weaken the national leadership. The performance of dedicated employees suffers because of the fear to voice their opinions; considerations of efficiency give way to considerations of personal safety and the avoidance of any behavior that may provoke the accusation of disloyalty from the employer. If the employee has climbed fairly high in the hierarchy,  and has tasted the fruits of prestige and material well-being, the mere thought of forced retirement and loss of benefits is enough to keep him in line.

It was largely the institution of aristocracy that ameliorated the employee's fear of losing his job.  Being a member of the aristocracy pretty much allowed one to preserve one's social and material status regardless of one's position. Of course, this guarantee worked only in a nontyrannical regime;  under tyranny, no institution could save a disloyal person.

I believe that one of the reasons why the institution of aristocracy has survived almost intact in Great Britain even after the bourgeois revolution had to do with the fact that Britain was an imperial country, mainly interested in the production of public goods. The military and civil service played a vital role throughout the British Empire, in London and colonies alike. The role of the businessman as the producer of private goods was much less important. Although forty years have passed since the collapse of the British Empire, traditional values, as championed by the producers of public goods, have maintained their strength in many ways, and that in spite of the importance of enterprising individuals in modern economic development. The nationalization of British industry was also symptomatic of this condition, recalling in many ways the earlier emphasis on the production of public goods. To the present day, the societal role of the businessman is not highly valued by  British establishment, although an entrepreneur may indeed get titled for his economic contributions.

 These conclusions, truth be told, are based on anecdotal evidence rather than on serious sociological research. An English friend of mine who shares my views on the role of the businessman in contemporary British society, told me how at a prestigious Welsh annual music festival he observed the well-bred English aristocrats looking disdainfully at those businessmen who arrived in expensive luxury cars (and even helicopters).

 In a sharp contrast to England, the United States is a country that has never known an aristocracy. Again, the distinction between private and public goods may furnish part of the explanation. From its very inception  the United States stressed the production of private goods. The nation's founders conceived it as a country of independent farmers; it has since become a country in which entrepreneurs, unhindered by governmental bureaucracy, can utilize their talents in the production of private goods. The decentralization of the country, and its avoidance of foreign entanglements, meant that for quite some time the production of public goods was only a small proportion of the national income. Suffice it to note that at the turn of the century, the United States' expenditures on defense were smaller than the total revenue from  excise taxes.

Although American economic achievements are considerable, the same cannot be said of the production of public goods. The US political system has yielded largely mediocre leaders over the past three decades. The war in Vietnam and the unsuccessful attempt to free the hostages in Iran, demonstrate that the quality of military leadership also leaves a lot to be desired.

 Possibly, the lack of political and military leaders of a number and caliber required by the complexity of modern life and the new global role of the United States, is partly due to an exceedingly high importance that the American value system has long attached to producers of private goods.

What has been said of the imperative to preserve the employees's independence in the sphere of government-produced public goods, holds equally true for those instances when the government is involved in the production of private goods.

 When the production of both public and private goods is significant, as is now the case in the majority of developed countries, it is very difficult to maintain a balance in social values and institutions needed to foster a harmonious development.

The institution of the aristocracy had existed in Russia for centuries, and it had struggled long and hard to enhance its autonomy: even as late as the eighteenth century, Russian aristocrats were still subject to corporal punishment. One can easily find fault with Russian aristocracy, especially with those of its members who were close to the last tsar. But on the whole, the Russian nobility could be justly proud of having produced many honorable individuals. After the Bolshevik Revolution, the institution of the aristocracy was immediately abolished. Most noblemen managed to leave the country; many others were killed. Only a small part of the aristocracy miraculously survived.

Nowadays, there is a wide-spread opinion in the U.S.S.R. that aristocracy may be beneficial[19]. For our purposes, it will be sufficient to point out the marked attitudinal changes toward the old Russian aristocracy. In the 1920s and 1930s, people tried to hide their aristocratic roots, fearing all sorts of educational and career complications. In the 1960s and 1970s, the descendants of aristocrats proudly confessed their ancestry to strangers and friends alike, believing that this would enhance their social position.

Although there is no system of real aristocratic titles in the U.S.S.R., the scholarly ranks of "Academic" or "Correspondent Member" of the Academy of Sciences resemble them in some essential respects. These academic ranks are prestigious, and confer on their bearers not only considerable social status but material benefits as well, which benefits, by Soviet standards, are rather significant.  The case of Andrej Sakharov, who though exiled to Gorky, was allowed to keep his title of Academic with all its privileges, confirms just how important this title is.  

 The role of Soviet government in the production of public and private goods will most likely remain an essential one in the observable future. Therefore, I believe that the idea of reviving the institution of aristocracy merits serious attention. It stands to reason that aristocratic titles should not necessarily be hereditary (as is now the case in Great Britain), and that other measures to reduce the negative aspects of the institution may be introduced.

 


Pluralism and Democracy

 

 I want to stress my belief in pluralism as a key factor in the life of social systems. This is because, on the one hand, the society develops in a situation characterized by a fairly high degree of indeterminism, when even the probabilities of success of various alternatives are unknown, and, on the other, because the members of the society exhibit a wide divergence in their value systems. Given these two conditions, the most dangerous people, to paraphrase a Soviet poet, Alexander Galich, are those " who know the way it must be."

A developed pluralistic mechanism is characterized by (1) availability of different developmental programs; ( 2) selection of one program for a foreseeable future; (3) monitoring the implementation of the program; (4) changing  the  program if new conditions arise or the program is found to be ineffective in the course of its implementation. The choice as to the actual number of people directly participating in pluralistic decision - making should, it seems, be of secondary importance.

The development of a pluralistic mechanism could start with individuals receiving real rights to criticize the programs professionally prepared by the  leadership. The next step is the establishment of legal opposition. The opposition initially should not be charged with the task of elaborating a development strategy as sophisticated as the one being offered by the leadership. What's important in the emergence of organized legal opposition is that the previously atomized criticisms now have a single voice. Pluralism reaches full maturity when there appears an opportunity to elaborate and present a manifold of national development programs, together with suggestions for their implementation. I speak of a manifold here because at this stage we do not yet try and rate the programs. The content of the program is of no importance; what matters is that it exists, and is different. The need for a manifold of unrated  programs is dictated by many reasons. One reason, alluded to above, stems from an essential indeterminism of social life. Since the initial cost of developing a manifold of programs is relatively small, free countries have practically unlimited opportunities to engage in that activity.

For new and original programs to emerge, it is necessary to have independent organizations.  They have to be institutionalized, and have access to information to be able to offer contrasting and realistic programs; otherwise, they become impotent and can be easily beaten. If only one political party exists, factions within it cannot long survive. It seems that the tolerance for factions is possible only in a multiparty system, in which party leaders fear the potential loss of supporters to the opposition. (Didn't a rise of different branches of Christianity precipitate the appearance of different orders in the Catholic church?)

In turn, a multiparty system requires a variety of independent sources of financing  party activities. Any organization sets its own priorities, and a single source of financing can  choke off many new programs[20].

 Program development is a multistage process. It begins with the creation of new ideas  and ends with a detailed blueprint for action.  A manifold, of which I spoke earlier, relates precisely to the initial innovation-producing stages of program development. It is here that unlimited pluralism, with independent sources of financing, is vital. The subsequent development of these ideas may require considerable resources to set up independent organizations and, ultimately, political parties. The job of the parties is to transform these ideas into practical strategies and policies.

Though manifolds are essential for long-term progress, at any given point in time only one program predominates-a system simply cannot function according to several programs simultaneously. Prioritizing  the programs means that only one of them  (or only one combination) is selected, the one needed for the current operation of the system. I am not going to discuss the  well known problems of political philosophy that deal with the principles of selecting a program from a manifold (different voting schemes), monitoring the program implementation, and establishing an appropriate mechanism for changing programs.

Thus, pluralism is above all a question of the development of various points of view and a free choice among them. What do I mean by freedom here? All too often freedom is reduced to   choosing in the present from a menu of options accumulated in the past. This won't do, for freedom also demands that diversity be created today, out of which one can choose tomorrow. Freedom, therefore, requires two conditions: the existence of a diversity of competing points of view in the present and the provision for maintaining a diversity of views for tomorrow.

Lenin' s principle of democratic centralism dealt only with the first condition: there exists a diversity of opinions, let's choose; the choice having been made, everyone must fall into line. The majority's one-time choice supersedes the interests of the minority, that is, of the very people who today are developing the new ideas, from which we want to be able to choose tomorrow. The creative minority was crushed in the Soviet Union.

I recall a true story told by a friend of mine from the city of Poltava. On one hot summer day, thousands of Poltavians rushed to a nearby river to escape the scorching heat. The trolleys were filled to overflowing. The driver of a trolly asked the passengers at the first stop, "ls the majority going to the beach?" Hearing an agreeable chorus of "da's" in response, he said, "Then we'll travel non-stop." The voices of the minority not headed for the beach were drowned out by the cries of the majority.  The image of 'democracy the Poltava style' has stayed with me as a symbol of the principle of democratic centralism.

The Soviet system has nearly always tried to suppress diversity and pluralism, without consideration of means, and nip in the bud any competing views that could challenge the prevailing dogmas of various powers that be.

Pluralism is not just the presence of many viewpoints, it is also their interaction. Therefore, pluralism presupposes a mechanism for replacing one viewpoint with another: the supporters of one position, pursuing their own interests, closely follow the actions of the supporters of competing positions. When one program is selected, the others observe how it evolves; if it's discovered to be leading the country astray, there are other alternative programs on hand to correct or replace it with. That's pluralism as a dynamically operating system.

Comparing a pluralistic mechanism with other possible mechanisms of decision making, reveals a decisive role of the intellectual manifold. The principle of democratic centralism proposed by the Russian Bolsheviks led by Lenin at first looks very similar to a pluralistic mechanism. According to the principal of democratic centralism,  decision making has to be based on a manifold. Its transformation into a singular diversity, that is, some particular policy, is carried out in keeping with the majority rule. After the choice is made, everyone must abide by it. But no mention is made of how to ensure these same conditions for subsequent choices,  when it becomes necessary to replace the existing program. One can only assume that the manifold for the next choice situation will be created by accident. If we recall that a communist ideology (just like any other monistic worldview) means the acceptance of a single truth, it becomes very easy to destroy various parties and factions within the main party. The manifold degenerates or, at best, is reduced to mere differences of opinion of the members of the ruling oligarchy. The country's capacity for long-term prosperity is thus gravely impaired, if not altogether lost.

What is the relationship between pluralism and democracy? I believe that it depends on the level at which the populace is allowed to take part in decision making (local, state, or federal).  Here, when I speak of democracy, I mean popular participation in decision making at the highest level, that is,  in deciding upon the issues affecting the development of the entire country. My observations on democracy are less relevant to the lower levels of social hierarchy.

Democracy aims at involving as many people as possible, ideally everyone, in the process of decision making at all levels, and at the highest level especially. But such factors as personal competency, responsibility, and commitment to pluralism are also crucial for democracy. I  speak here of competency in a broad sense that involves not just the educated elite, but the grass roots as well. Recall the difference between democracy and ochlocracy, i.e. power of the mob. Perhaps the weakness and even the downfall of many free societies was the result of their inability to put an end to the process of ochlocratization (that is, a gradual involvement of more and more incompetent and irresponsible people in pluralistic decision making) and return to   democracy.

There are certain cultural conditions that have to be met before democracy can come into being. One of these conditions - a necessary, but not a sufficient one - is the philosophy of individualism (not to be confused with egotism, with everyone pursuing their own interests while ignoring the interests of others).

What I have in mind is the Western conception of the individual:  I am able to be an individual only if I recognize others as individuals. I'm unique and you're unique, and both of us have equal rights which must be mutually respected. Russia does not partake of this tradition. Not coincidentally, the concept of privacy does not exist among the Russians, and their language has no word for it.

But in Russia, in the lore of the Russian village, there is, as Professor Szymon Chodak justly notes, something else: the image of the truth-seeker (pravdoliubets). In the Russian tradition, it is not pluralism and tolerance that are stressed, but rather the Truth, a single, absolute and universal Truth that exists somewhere and must be found. The cultural roots are different in Russia - they are the roots nourished by the striving for unity.

Soviet emigres in the West exhibit the same intolerance and lack of understanding of the need for diversity, for many truths. I have observed these true believers. They are so sincere, so absolutely sure that what they wish for themselves is also good for others, that they accuse their opponents of being the servants of the Satan, that is, the KGB. These people are not in the least cynical, and that's just what's so scary - they can't even comprehend their limitations .

It seems dangerous to give people so steeped in the 'truth-seeking' tradition the right to elect and be elected. They could easily produce a totalitarian regime because they are predisposed to turn to someone who'll tell them, "I know what the Truth is, the single Truth. Everyone else we'll eliminate so they won't interfere with our building of the ideal".

In my opinion, a decisive factor in making pluralism and democracy compatible is the attitude of the masses towards extremist, monistic parties, whether of the right or the left. It is these parties that are especially dangerous at times of crises, projecting an air of knowing the only way out and promising success if given unlimited power, with at least a temporary ban placed on other parties. If the political culture of the nation can resist the siren-like calls of the extremists, then pluralism is compatible with extensive democracy. England did not succumb to the temptation of an authoritarian regime during the Second World War, and nor did Israel after more than forty years of extremely precarious existence.

In many countries the conflict between pluralism and democracy was resolved in a very painful fashion. We know of the German tragedy when, during the Great Depression, the democracy of the Weimar Republic collapsed under the weight of an insufficiently mature political culture - the majority of the Germans voted for either Nazis or Communists.

West German President, Richard von Weitzaker, in a speech on May 24, 1989, commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the establishment of the Federal Republic, said that in his country " the present generation of policy makers is made up of people who learned from history. This generation understands that the tragedy of the Weimar was not that it produced too many extremists too fast, but that for far too long it had too few democrats."[21]

The instability of many Latin American countries (or of Iran under the Shah), is rooted primarily in the conflict between pluralism and democracy, which  is often resolved in favor of democracy bordering on ochlocracy.  Democracy in these countries is highly developed, what with  wide popular participation in elections, demonstrations, strikes, etc. At the same time, the Latin American leaders realize the dangers posed by extremist parties, and suppress them. The membership of the extremist parties is  either forced to go underground or stay abroad. A ban on these parties is accompanied by various repressive measures against the liberals, who disapprove of these curbs on freedom.

It was perhaps Russia's tragedy that the February Revolution brought about a mass participation in politics and a sudden rise of many parties, some of them quite radical. The strains of the World War I and the country's political immaturity worked to the advantage of extremist forces. The losers could accuse Marxists, Jews, various external enemies-whoever they cared to-of condemning Russia to misery, but we should not forget that it was not the October Revolution, but the Russian Civil War, in which people had the choice to support either side, that finally established the new regime.

I think that Russia does not have deep pluralistic roots. A contemporaneous introduction of democracy and pluralism there may be counterproductive, and result in the destruction of pluralism and the formation of a new type of dictatorship.

Thus, I believe that it is not in the least pedantic to insist on the difference between pluralism and democracy. These concepts are not synonymous, and under certain conditions they conflict with one another. What does Russia really need more - democracy or pluralism? Which would it sacrifice if forced to make a choice?

I reckon that what Russia needs above all is pluralism. Pluralism creates a diversity of opinions, offers the opportunity to balance competing positions, and effectively replace obsolete viewpoints with new ones. Does all this negate democracy? Not at all. Only at the beginning it is, as it were, a limited, "censored" democracy, with the franchise restricted to those meet age, property, or residential requirements. As the country develops and the people become more experienced and more competent, democracy also develops and broadens.

I believe that resolving the conflict between pluralism and democracy by suppressing pluralism is fraught with many dangers. May be I am wrong, and the introduction of a so-called "restricted democracy" is more effective. I can only fall back on the example of England, the motherland of Western political freedoms. The political history of England after the Glorious Revolution was primarily one of developing pluralism - the initial institutionalization of the loyal opposition was followed by the creation of a two-party system of the Tories and the Whigs. All kinds of views were allowed in England, and it served as a refuge for many foreign radicals - Karl Marx and Mikhail Bakunin, an anarchist, spent a greater part of their active lives there. Democracy in England was limited: the franchise was restricted not only on the basis of voting age,  but also that of sex, property status, literacy, and so on. Let us not forget that even in the middle of the last century the great majority of the British population did not have voting rights. Workers were granted voting rights about a hundred years ago, in the 1870s, and women received them only after the First World War.

So, I believe that what a country needs for development is primarily pluralism. I am not opposed to democratization, but I prefer a very gradual one. Democracy is not a state, it is a process that lasts a long time and takes many years to mature. An attempt to establish democracy with one stroke where the people are not ready for it, is counterproductive. If my concept of societal multidimensionality is valid, then  It would  seem that, instead of the usual arguments over whether a democratic or an authoritarian regime is better for a given country, it would better to consider another alternative: the creation of an elitist pluralistic society as an intermediate stage on the road to a developed free society. Maybe, one should start at a still earlier stage that has the potential to evolve into this kind of  limited pluralistic society.

 I believe there are important groups in the U.S.S.R. that can accept pluralism. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that there are three broad strata in the Soviet society today:  intellectuals involved in arts and sciences; professionals who by and large have scholarly degrees and who are employed as hospital doctors, factory engineers, school and college teachers, or who are employees of the party or the government bureaucracy; and manual laborers:  industrial workers and peasants. I would guess that the strength of dedication to the pluralistic ideals diminishes as we move from the first group to the last.

I can easily anticipate opposition to my views concerning the wisdom of limiting democracy in certain countries.  We do, after all, live in the twentieth century, and the populace of many places can participate in decision making, or at least has the formal right to vote. The demand to limit participation could set off a wave of popular indignation. But if this demand is restricted to those countries where the population is virtually barred from national decision making, then the real  inclusion of even a small stratum into this process can be considered a step in the right direction, and one that might muffle the righteous anger of the dispossessed. This anger will be virtually silenced if we further admit that limited democracy at the national level can be coupled with the inclusionary strategy at the local level[22].

My call for a limited democracy in the Soviet Union might also give rise to an erroneous impression that I look down upon the Russian people, or even insult them with my pessimism concerning their abilities to pronounce upon national problems. I look at this issue very differently. By calling for a slow process of democratization in the Soviet Union, for the step-by-step inclusion of ever greater numbers of people in national decision making, I express my faith in the ultimate possibility of democratic rule in Russia. Haste in this matter can overexcite the masses and plunge the country into anarchy, to which the authorities are likely to respond with a more rigid autocracy, or even wide spread violence. I am not at all sure that the liberals, who profess their sincere love for the Russian people and express confidence in their readiness to participate in national decision making, can really bring happiness to the nation. In the last analysis, it is those who believe in the possibility of an eventual triumph of democracy in Russia, and who now see the first tender shoots of this process, who can do more actual good for the Russian people than can the liberals, despite their good intentions.

 

Openness in the Soviet Union

 

In this section I want to look closely at the issue of openness of  Soviet society. For now I am interested only in  external openness, that is, in Soviet relations with other countries, primarily with democratic ones, and among them first and foremost,  the United States. The issue of Soviet internal openness needs  special examination, which I will undertake in subsequent chapters.

When today we speak of the countries belonging to the First, Second, or Third World, we use their GNP as our major criterion of classification. The exceptions are well-known emirates of the Persian Gulf, though scoring high on the GNP per capita index, are still grouped among the Third World nations - but for our purposes they can be safely ignored.

I accept this classification as fundamental, but want to add two more. The first is based on the nations' degree of openness. One can distinguish between a one-sided and a two-sided openness, and openness as regards  inputs and outputs. By one-sided openness of outputs I mean expansionism, a policy of conquest. By one-sided openness of inputs I mean the attractiveness of a given country to outside conquerors.

By two-sided openness I mean exchanges between a given country and other countries that  involve people, information, commodities, services, money. It is this kind of openness which the present section is mainly about.

Nations interact over time, and whatever is true of their interactions in the short-term, may not necessarily hold over the long haul.

My classification only partly overlaps with the one based on the GNP. In the Third World, there is a spectrum of countries of varying degrees of openness, from India to present-day Iran.   The main difference between the one-party states of the Second World (Albania, the U.S.S.R., Poland, Hungary,Yugoslavia) also seems to lie in their degree of openness. 

 The First World countries also differ with respect to openness, be it in their immigration or trade policies. Democracy presupposes openness, but openness does not presuppose democracy. Spain under Franco was an authoritarian, yet, to a great extent, an open country. Western democracies do not erect barriers like the Great Chinese Wall or even a "Small" Berlin Wall,  but the forces behind isolationism in some of them should not be underestimated (remember the Monroe Doctrine).

The state's openness has a bearing on its compatibility with other states. Let us roughly divide all nations into two groups: democratic and autocratic. It seems that the most compatible countries are democracies: in the last hundred years, they have not fought each other. The most incompatible countries are large autocracies, mainly because they have conflicting expansionist interests. Relations between democracies and autocracies are more complicated. Long-term stable  interactions seem to be impossible because they have different goals and means of development. The short-term and mid-term relations between these two groups of countries can be stable, depending on the state of  relations between autocracies. Thus, The US may enjoy a measure of detente with China because of Beijing's bitter feud with Moscow.

The second classification I want to propose is based on the degree of governmental control of national resources. On the edges of the spectrum it is theoretically possible to have a completely free society and a completely totalitarian one. By this classification, the Soviet Union comes close to a totalitarian state: the government there almost totally owns all commodities, natural resources, information, and people. It also totally controls all the inputs (imports) and outputs (exports) of the system, whether they are related to commodities, information, or people.

Bringing all three classifications together, I want to discuss some problems concerning the two-sided openness of the Soviet Union. What does the Soviet Union want from other countries? Do they agree to satisfy Soviet desires? What are these countries willing to receive in exchange from the  Soviet Union? What does the Soviet Union want to give in exchange?

I will try to provide some partial answers to these questions. The answers have not been arranged according to the importance of the questions, but rather by the category of inputs-outputs: people, information, commodities (services). All answers are related mainly to Brezhnev's time.

 

Inputs.

 People. The Soviet Union has no problems with immigration: the quality of life in the U.S.S.R. does not encourage people to emigrate there.

The Soviet Union is interested in having students from Western and Third World countries to come and study for several years. Because there is a shortage of labor, the Soviet Union is also anxious to 'import' foreign workers.

The Soviet authorities have a long-term interest in the visits of Western scholars from whom they can borrow new scientific and technological ideas (for details, see the subsection "Information"). Russian hospitality helps to encourage such visits, but other obstacles intrude: many Soviet research centers are obsolete or off-limits to foreigners; Soviet authorities are afraid of the penetration of Western ideology. Conversely,  Western scholars who cherish the ideals of freedom often refuse to visit the Soviet Union.

Soviet leaders are of two minds respecting foreign tourism in the U.S.S.R.: on the one hand, it brings in hard currency, and increases the number of admirers of the Soviet Union (a brief visit spent in viewing historical monuments and cultural events inspires tourists to think it's a great country). On the other hand, an expansion of tourism requires considerable investment in the  service sector, which, as I show in the discussion concerning the export of nondurable consumer goods, the authorities are averse to undertake.  Besides, foreign tourists can be a bad influence on the natives, (for example,, tourists accustomed to Western nightlife sometimes ask for prostitutes) and it is difficult for the authorities to operate with a double standard  concerning their own citizens and  foreigners.

Information. While extremely hostile to any penetration of Western ideology, the U.S.S.R. generally welcomes the import of Western scientific and technological information. Most of all, the Soviet Union is interested in pioneering scientific ideas, preferably those with proven military applications. The number of scholars in the U.S.S.R. is comparable to that in the USA, but Soviet scholars generate few pioneering ideas - a fact borne out by a small number of Soviet Nobel Prizes winners. The reasons lie deep within the system. While pioneering paradigms anywhere often face opposition from the scientific establishment, a pluralistic ideology backed up by a multiplicity of financing sources and the international  academic 'safeguards,' can help prevent the killing of new ideas. In the U.S.S.R., a new idea without a demonstrable practicality can be easily stopped by a bureaucratic system of allocation of resources for R&D, and by an ideological climate in which the innovation can be labeled a deviation from Marxism (for example, the cases of cybernetics, genetics, etc.).

The Soviet Union is interested in importing new technologies, particularly of a military nature. (See  section Dilemma in the Productoin of Goods versus the Development of New Technologies in chapter 5).

The Soviet Union is also interested in  importing  new scientific ideas either because the existing system, with its ideological climate and financing mechanism, does not permit a successful research and development effort, or because it does not have enough resources for current military needs and the development of heavy industry.

Naturally, the Soviet Union wants to separate the importation of scientific and technological ideas from the penetration of Western ideology. That is why the Soviet Union is more interested in importing publications and patent information  than in the exchange of scholars. Unfortunately for Soviet authorities, research and development are performed by people, and contacts among them play a crucial role in the field.

Commodities.  For a long time after industrialization, the Soviet Union was not interested in sustained importation of goods from non-socialist countries because of its tendency toward isolationism. In addition, the Soviet Union did not have the means to import a great deal from these countries due to the lack of hard currency reserves; the bulk of  its foreign currency receipts comes from the sale of gold and oil.

The Soviet Union can try to open the country more to commodities by increasing foreign investments. These investments can be used to expand the production of raw materials ( the reader will recall the debates in the early 1970s concerning the wisdom of American investments in oil and liquid gas in Siberia, and Japanese investments in the coal and timber industries) and   industrial goods ( for example, a truck factory built by Ford on the river Kama in the mid 1970s). The Soviet Union, by exporting raw materials and commodities manufactured on the capacities financed (and sometimes installed) by the West, could then pay back the principal and interest.

Such methods of increasing the openness of the Soviet Union toward inputs from the West are, however, limited by the degree of compatibility of countries belonging to different camps. The absence of guarantees from the Soviet Union that long-range contracts will be honored makes Western investments in this country vulnerable. The military orientation of the Soviet Union is another obstacle to investment. Imagine the following scenario. A Western firm expresses its willingness to invest in a new Soviet factory for the production of trucks. The principal and  interest could be partially paid off by a certain portion of the output of trucks. These trucks can be passed on by the Western firm to the Oriental neighbors of the Soviet Union.  But this firm has to have a guarantee of high quality products. One of the conditions that will allow this guarantee is a systematic control of the technology, which was developed by the Western firm. This, in turn, requires involvement in the managerial body by a representative of the Western firm. But the Soviet authorities cannot agree to such a requirement for a very simple reason: the factory for truck production  will also be involved in the production of military goods. It will have not only a plan for wartime, that is, the so-called mobilizatsyonnyj plan, but it will also be involved in peacetime production of goods for the army, along with all the other car and truck factories. But to allow a foreigner to be a manager in a Soviet plant and to have access to extra classified information is impossible. . .

 

Output. 

People. The most difficult problem is to open the U.S.S.R. to an outflow of people, by which I mainly mean emigration. An expansionist country has many reasons to consider emigration as negative: in war, emigres strengthen the enemy, though, of course, they also may be potentially useful as fifth columns in occupied territories.

Russia has a long history of hostility to emigrants. Over 130 years ago Aleksandr Herzen, a Russian writer and revolutionary, in comparing Europe and Russia wrote:

 "In Europe a man who lives abroad has never been considered a criminal, nor one who emigrates to America a traitor"[23].

The Soviet Union has had periods when, for different reasons, a limited emigration was allowed. But first a few words about 'compulsory emigration.'

Soon after the October Revolution the severest punishment for a Soviet communist was  exile from the world's first communist country - Trotsky's exile was regarded as such a punishment. Later, under Stalin, 'undesirable people' were not exiled - they were exterminated within the country. Not until  the 1970s did the Soviet Union return to Lenin's practice of compulsory emigration   (for example, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn and dissidents exchanged for Soviet spies and a communist leader). At the same time Soviet leaders practiced 'semicompulsory emigration.'  Dissidents whom the government for one reason or another is afraid to isolate within the country (that is, keep them in a prison, labor camp, or psychiatric clinic) were offered a choice: West or East (Siberia); they chose the West.

Voluntary emigration was permitted in limited numbers in the 1920s and in the 1970s and 1980s. The people who emigrated voluntarily  were mainly those who did not have a historical homeland in the Soviet Union: Jews and Germans. But these spurts of emigration, as I have mentioned before, were contrary to the aspirations of the leaders.

Long business trips for Soviet professionals and education for Soviet students in Western countries were also inconvenient for Soviet leaders; they were afraid these people would either defect or return with an undesirable ideology. Relatively short trips to the West ( several months) by professionals  were more convenient for Soviet authorities, who they were anxious to acquire Western scientific and technological information. But there were many obstacles to this method of acquiring information, both political and financial (the shortage of hard currency). Also, a business trip to the West is a privilege and a reward for a Soviet scholar (it is possible for him to enjoy the life of a free society and to buy consumer goods  much cheaper than in the Soviet Union). An added note here is that the political loyalty of the traveler and his devotion to the chief of the organization where he worked were important conditions in gaining  permission to go abroad. All this demonstrates why genuine scholars were seldom permitted to visit their colleagues in the West: such trips were the privilege of mediocre scholars. The bureaucrats try to find a respectable excuse for this. One of the former chiefs of the Foreign Relations Department of the Central Mathematical Economic Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. explained to me the unofficial position on business trips by Soviet scholars to the West. "Bad scholars," he said, "do not deserve this trip because they will not understand what the Western scholars are doing. It is too dangerous to send good scholars abroad because they can pass on their colleagues' great ideas. The best way is to send abroad mediocre scholars: they can understand the activities of Western scholars and cannot inform them of new ideas."

Mass tourism from the Soviet Union to Western countries and to the Third World has been limited for ideological and economic reasons.

Information. The Soviet Union is eager to export information if it bolsters its national image. The U.S.S.R. spends a great amount of money to export propaganda through radio and print medium, particularly to the propaganda aimed at the millions of refugees from the U.S.S.R. (after the Revolution and, especially, after World War II). The Soviet Union has lost considerable prestige in the communist movement, and has weakened this movement (by exposing Stalin, invading Hungary and Czechoslovakia, etc.). It tries to compensate for this by attracting former Soviet citizens especially if they have nostalgic feelings.

The Soviet Union did not allow the output of any information, by any means, concerning the true situation in the country. The enormous development of the system of classified information was also an attempt to disguise the country's backwardness, but it causes problems as well. It bureaucracy prevents the passing of successful technologies from the military  to the civilians. I think that many military technologies, not classified in the West, are super-classified in the Soviet Union and cannot be used in other industries. The Soviet leaders understand this. To the best of my knowledge, Aleksey N. Kosygin, when he was chairman of the Council of Ministries of the U.S.S.R., tried to improve this situation; but the bureaucracy was stronger than he was.

Commodities. The Soviet Union is one of the chief exporters of weapons to the Third World (and also to terrorists in various countries). The export of modern weapons is the best method by which to subjugate countries that are dependent on weapons. It requires the presence of qualified Soviet consultants,  spare parts purchased from the U.S.S.R., training in the Soviet Union, and so forth.

The export of weapons to the Third World is accompanied by the export of Soviet industrial goods. These countries, being in the orbit of the Soviet Union, do not have the opportunity to trade with the West, and therefore have to buy Soviet goods. The Soviet Union also stimulates these countries to buy its commodities by loans with  low interest rates. 

Let us now consider the factors that limit trade between the Soviet Union and the West. These countries do not buy Soviet weapons, which the Soviet Union would not sell to them anyway. So any trade between the Soviet Union and the West is strictly nonmilitary.

 Why, then, can the Soviet Union extend not "peaceful" exports? I think a major obstacle was its expansionist policy, as mentioned earlier. Let me be more specific. An increase in the production of nondurable consumer goods  requires the development of agriculture and light industry. In turn, this development requires more investment. But the limited money available for investment is used for other industries important for expansionism. Moreover, most equipment in agriculture and light industry can't be converted to the production of military goods; the Soviet leaders prefer to develop  industries that can be easily converted. (Obstacles to the export of Soviet durable consumer goods will be discussed later, under the subject 'industrial commodities.')

Now let us look at the possibilities for export from the other edge of the production system - natural resources. The Soviet Union has vast reserves of mineral resources and timber. However, these are difficult to obtain because they are located in remote areas where transportation and communication is not yet sufficiently developed. The Soviet Union needs large investments to develop these resources and expected to get the money from the West. But even if the U.S.S.R. decides to develop these new areas of natural resources itself and to export them to the West, there will be problems. Such export could give the U.S.S.R. a key to the Western economies, with all the consequences that follow from dependency on the Soviet Union. The oil embargo by a group of autocratic countries in the 1970s makes the danger clear. The gas pipeline  from the U.S.S.R. to Western Europe's is a similar situation.

The possibility of exporting capital goods is also limited. On the one hand, the export of these commodities can be profitable for the U.S.S.R. because it can produce them on capacities easily convertible to military needs; on the other hand, the volume of import of these goods cannot be dangerous for the Western countries.

The major obstacle to increasing the export of industrial goods is their low quality. There are  many reasons for this, particularly the Soviet philosophy of planning based on the idea of  continuous physical growth. To promote this growth, managers have to violate technological rules and reduce  quality.[24]  The military orientation of the country is another cause of the low quality of industrial goods. Quality is characterized by many criteria, including longevity of the product. From the military point of view, tanks, airplanes, trucks, and so on do not have to last long - probably only several months in wartime. Therefore, it is not reasonable to spend extra resources to increase the longevity of military implements. However, in the peacetime it is important to produce tractors, airplanes, cars, trucks, and so on that will last a long time. But this requires additional investment because the factories producing these goods are oriented to the production of corresponding military goods.

Thus, in order to increase  the quality of industrial goods, the U.S.S.R. would require a reconceptualization of the whole attitude to the  performance principles of  the Soviet system: in particular, the aspirations of the leaders to increase the output by any means, the orientation of the country to military needs, and so on, must be changed.

 The Soviet Union, continuing the Russian tradition, grows mainly by expansion. As long as the Soviet Union follows this policy it will seek closedness-autarchy. Tactical decisions determine to what extent the country will be open. The Soviet Union under Stalin is the best example of this. When Stalin decided on rapid industrialization, he established friendly relations with the West for a short period; without Western equipment and professionals he could not achieve his goals. It is interesting to note that at this time Peter the Great was Stalin's hero. As industrialization in the rough was finished, Stalin closed the country; Ivan the Terrible became his hero.

Brezhnev declared at the beginning of the 1970s that the relationship between the USA and the U.S.S.R. has to be based on more openness and that this policy has to become irreversible. But this declaration is only a good wish. The Soviet autocratic regime, and its expansionist policy, did not permit the opening of the country to the extent that the openness could become irreversible. This regime opens the country only to the extent that openness is reversible at any time.

Rejection of expansionism as a leading policy is a necessary condition for the openness of the country, which is in its turn a long - lasting factor for development of the country. Certainly this condition is not sufficient for growth. One can easily imagine an opposite situation when rejection of the policy of expanding the empire, and moreover the rejection  of the empire itself, might bring economic stagnation for the country. Such situations are linked with the introduction of fundamentalism and isolation of the country (this is Solzhenitsyn's suggestion).

The maintenance in the U.S.S.R. of extraverted values and the striving for growth could be compatible with the openness of the country. Such a concept is consistent with the  country's security, but not with expansionism. Certainly, openness makes the country dependent on other countries and less secure. But because other countries also are becoming dependent on the given country, under a certain level of mutual dependence a situation can be reached where each of these countries is secure.

 

Openness and Pluralism: Contemporary History

It we look at the foreign policy of different countries or of one country at different times, we will see that there are alternatives between requirements for openness of the interacting countries and for a particular country's pluralization.  Let us consider this based on an analysis of Soviet-American relations in the period from 1960 to 1980.

 The attitude of the Soviet leaders to the problem of openness-pluralism at the end of the 1960s may be determined in the following way.  At that time, Soviet leaders under­stood that liberalization of the country would be dangerous: among other things it would increase politi­cal tensions, and diminish the role of the Communist party.  Many leaders remembered well the bitterness of Stalin's time and were afraid to revive it.  Under these conditions domes­tic problems, such as the growing need for grain and modern military technology, could be solved by improving relations with the West.  (Buying grain and military technology from the West can only help to plug the holes in the old system). The increased openness of the U.S.S.R. was the sacrifice Soviet leaders made for the improve­ment of the relations with the USA.  (The American government's tolerance of the absence of pluralism in the U.S.S.R. was used by Soviet leaders in their subsequent struggles with dissidents).  Under Stalin dissidents (even potential dissidents) disap­peared without a trace.  Under Khrushchev the dissident movement had not yet developed: people believed in the possibility that the country might be  liberalized  from above.  After Khrushchev was dismissed, with the trials of Siniavsky and Daniel, the new leaders announced that they were going to stop the liberal movement.  The dissident movement was the response.  However,  the need to open the country required more flexibility from Soviet leaders in their dealing with the dissidents. The leaders chose Lenin's tactic: they used a 'mixed strategy.' Some dissidents were forcefully exiled to the West (for example, Solzhenitsyn);  some emigrated under the pressure of exile to Siberia; others were put in prison, labor camps, or psychiatric clinics. A number of the dissidents were seduced by the authorities: they stopped their activities in exchange for an attractive job, business trips to the West, and other appealing temptations.

By the end of the 1960s the US was looking for new avenues for peaceful coexistence. There were many reasons for this: the unpopular Vietnam war, the burden of armament, and, in particular, the danger of an atomic war (at that time the Soviet Union were considering a preventive atomic war against China). The American government was searching for these new avenues as a way to open the Soviet Union to Western information, commodities, professionals, and tourists, and in return get Soviet scientific information, emigrants, professionals, tourists, and raw materials. Democratization of the U.S.S.R., as expressed by the claim to maintain human rights in the country,  was put aside. It seems that the authors of this policy decided that the increased openness of the U.S.S.R. would eventually bring the country to pluralism. No doubt the more open a country, the more the leaders are limited in their antiliberal activities; they fear public opinion in the West. In turn, public opinion in free societies is amplified by the voices of dissidents from the U.S.S.R.. Visiting the U.S.S.R. and talking with dissidents, relatives, and other reliable people permits those in the free societies to better understand the Soviet regime and to see the necessity for its liberalization.

The power of many religions consists in the promise of paradise in the afterlife; whether this promise is upheld cannot be verified. The desire of people to believe in this ideal is so strong that they agree to accept such a promise even with no proof. The desire of many people to see a paradise on  earth is also strong. These people are ready to believe that paradise can be built on communist ideology. The Soviet Union declared that it was the first communist nation in the world. A paradise on earth can be tested; people can check its reality. Maintaining a closed country is the best way to prevent friends and enemies of communism from exercising their curiosity to check the construction of  paradise. A concession to closeness is the regulation governing the arrival and departure of pilgrims who disseminate the "truth" among the people anxious to have  heaven on earth. The openness of the U.S.S.R. to a great extent stipulated the destruction of the myth of a paradise in that country.

A leading American liberal, a man of great talent and irreproachable moral credentials, told me that he became disappointed with the Soviet system in the mid -1960s when he heard the voices from the inside, that is, the protests of the dissidents. Until then, he thought that a virulently anticommunist Western propaganda exaggerated the negative aspects of Soviet reality: if the situation in the U.S.S.R. was as bad as the Western media made it out to be, the Soviet people would have let the world know about it. (Similar benefits of doubt were once also enjoyed by China). Now we have only two communist countries that are completely closed to the Westerners, North Korea and Albania. Naturally, they became the models for some leftist groups in the West.

If a country is authoritarian, it can fairly easily shut itself off from the outside world  and, by coercion and persuasion, suppress any protests that appear during the period of openness.

The Nixon and Ford Administrations were visibly successful when the U.S.S.R. opened up. The Carter administration continued the policy of detente, but focused its attention on the problem of human rights. The Carter policy was not consistent. (For example, such an open country with great elements of democracy as the Shah's Iran, was severely criticized for violating human rights; at the same time, the US established friendly relations with China,  a closed, undemocratic country). Certainly, the emergence of a liberalized Soviet Union will radically alter the world situation. But even if one supposes that it is possible to liberalize a country from the outside,  the process will take a long, long time. Moreover, we may reasonably assume that openness is a necessary stage in this process.

In any case, to maintain peace in the world it is necessary to have democratic regimes in the major countries; outside attempts to democratize the authoritarian regimes require sophisticated strategies. Elaboration of such strategies is made difficult by the dynamic environment of  changing leadership and policies in both the West and the U.S.S.R..

The Soviet Union reacted negatively to the human rights efforts of the Carter administration, but because the Soviet leaders wanted to retain the benefits of detente, they were patient. US verbal  attacks on the U.S.S.R. were not decisive. Possibly, the US policy of vacillation encouraged the Soviet Union to invade Afganistan. Following the invasion, the American policy changed radically, and Washington imposed a grain embargo on the U.S.S.R., among other punitive measures. The Reagan Administration escalated the confrontation. The Soviet authorities moved to shut off the flow of information from the West, cut down on scientific exchanges, and then took further antidemocratic steps by smashing the domestic dissident and liberal movements.

The confrontation became all the more visible after Yury V. Andropov established himself as head of the party. Under him, an anti-American propaganda intensified immensely. I would even go so far as to say that under Andropov the level of anti-American propaganda reverted to the pre-Brezhnevian time, in the sense that the United States once again was classified as Enemy Number One: under Brezhnev, that 'honor' for all intents and purposes belonged to China. Under Konstantin Chernenko, the situation remained largely unchanged.

A new period in US-Soviet relations was inaugurated by Gorbachev, but this is a subject for the chapters to follow.

 

Notes and References

1. J. Stalin, Voprosy Leninisma (Moscow: Gospolitizdat, 1953) 618.

2. J.Stalin, O velikoj otechestvennoj vojne Sovetskogo Soiuza (Moscow: Gospolitizdat,1950) 351.

 

 


 

3

Who is Gorbachev?

 

I do not claim to have the last word about this complicated question but I feel a few considerations are in order. To begin, let us examine the specific changes in the Soviet system enacted under Gorbachev.

 

Changes in the Soviet System under Gorbachev

 

Under Gorbachev, the Soviet political system started to shift. A special effort has been made to alter the political climate in the country and shatter the communist ideology. At the same time, the economic system has undergone but minor changes, in spite of the rather ambitious plans for transforming the Soviet economy in the direction of a market that were proclaimed soon after Gorbachev assumed the throne. In fact, the last few years are marked by a steady deterioration of the economic well-being of the population. Testifying to this are the numerous statements made in mid-1989 by such prominent Soviet figures as Academician Leonid Abalkin, Boris Yeltsin, and others warning of the possible outbursts of massive unrest with all the ensuing consequences if the economic situation in the country does not improve within the next one to two years.

 With the current state of the country being what it is (compared to the New Economic Policy (NEP) or to China), Gorbachev's primary concern extended to the transformation of the political system that was rejecting major reforms in the economy. In his own words, political reforms are destined to pave the way for economic changes and should help the country overcome the critical trends in its overall development. Still, the steady deterioration of economic performance has threatened the changes that have taken place in the political realm.

What actual reforms as far as ideology and political structure of the Soviet Union have taken place under Gorbachev, and how extensive is the transformation he has initiated in the political system entrenched in the country?

First let us take ideology. During Khrushchev's era tremendous progress was made in disparaging communist ideology as a result of the denouncing the myth of Stalin. But it seems that Khrushchev himself still believed in the potency of communist ideology; in any case, during his reign and prior to Gorbachev, ideology was not questioned in the official Soviet press. In search of  Stalinism's roots, glasnost initiated under Gorbachev opened the question of the ideology which could have and did lead to this phenomenon. Particularly interesting in this respect is a series of articles entitled "The Roots of Stalinism" appearing in four issues (eleven to twelve 1988, one to two 1989) of a popular Soviet magazine Nauka i Zhizn (Science and Life). The author is A. Tsypko, a Doctor of Philosophy who is working (or who did work) in the apparatus of the Central Committee (CC) of the CPSU. In these articles, Tsypko actually questions the essence of communist ideology. For on the one hand, under the banner of class struggle, it brings tremendous destruction to mankind in material as well as spiritual realms, obliterating hard earned accomplishments. On the other hand, this ideology being incapable of constructive activity, poses goals so grandiose that any means of attaining are justified. These articles have made a strong impression upon Soviet liberal intelligentsia and have become the subject of much controversy.

With the decline of communist ideology, there are signs of Russian chauvinist ideology gaining popularity. Novel in this respect, compared to Stalin's time, is the tolerance on the part of the authorities toward organizations openly professing Russian chauvinism (such groups as "Pamiat" and its various offshoots).

The church has come to the fore over the course of glasnost, especially after the pompous festivities in June 1989  commemorating a thousand years of the christening of Russia. Church ideology has been widely publicized. First and foremost, the absolute moral values (as opposed to the relative communist morality) preached by the church have directly or indirectly assumed the status of official acceptance.

 But communist ideology is not the only aspect that has been officially and explicitly attacked under Gorbachev.

All evidence points to the fact that Gorbachev wishes to propel this idea by eliminating Soviet ideocracy, that is, by doing away with the "tri-spiral" hierarchy of management primarily by excluding the Communist party. Gorbachev's statements at the nineteenth Party Conference regarding drastic reductions, especially in the central party apparatus, with subsequent reallocation of power to the local Soviets testify to his intentions. I mean Gorbachev's decision to concentrate the power in the hands of the president of the country, that is, the Chief of Supreme Soviet. Symbolizing this transformation is the appointment of the president as the chief commander of the armed forces, a position formerly held by the first secretary of the Central Committee. Communist party remains, with the president as its first secretary. In case the Congress of People's Deputies chooses not to elect the first secretary to the position of the president, it should serve as a signal to the party that its leader is unpopular with the people and should be replaced by the party; the reverse is not stipulated. One indirect confirmation of the declining role of the Communist party is the difficulty of finding people to fill various party posts. Several provincial secretaries speaking at the May 1989 Plenum of the Central Committee have mentioned vacancies in their apparatus and the difficulty of filling them.

Elements of pluralism have also cropped up under Gorbachev, manifesting themselves primarily in the tolerance of open expression of one's disagreement with the current state of affairs and the open criticism of the past. Criticism of leaders, Gorbachev included, became possible, and occasionally even in the official press. Although the bulk of criticism is still directed at the past, the mere fact that the current leadership has been in power for over four years makes contemporary criticism more and more realistic. Under Gorbachev, progress has been made in the institutionalization of pluralism. The official Soviet press has branched into journals and newspapers having diverse orientation, a process especially conspicuous in literary publications. Khrushchev's period gave rise to some diversity in the ideology professed by various journal's (Novyj Mir versus Octiabr in particular) but in the years that followed ideology was again subjected to unification for quite some time. In the course of glasnost, the rift between liberal journals such as Ogonyek, Znamia, and Octiabr and strongly chauvinistic journals like Nash Sovremennik, Molodaia Gvardiia, and Moskva has come into sharp focus; it seems Novyj Mir follows a moderate nationalistic trend (subjecting the current state of things to extremely strong criticism). Keeping in mind the revered status traditionally enjoyed by the printed word and literature in particular in Russia, this variety of literary publications is remarkable, since they form what could be called the epicenters of the development of different political trends. Similar diversity, although more restricted, has surfaced among major official Soviet newspapers. Of course, pluralism in this category is rather limited, for all major newspapers lack independence and are completely subordinated to their respective bodies of power (the chief editors of newspapers are all appointed from above, newspapers' financial dealings are completely spelled out, etc.); all major issues are still subject to a rigid censorship by the party apparatus. The creation of independent publishing houses under the banner of a cooperative enterprise was outlawed by decree that declared this kind of cooperatives illegal.

A more significant development of pluralism occurred with the formation of the so called informal societies (neformaly). These groups meet to discuss various contemporary issues, and they take active measures (by means of demonstrations, for instance) to call the attention of the public and those in power to their grievances.

Institutionalization of a multiparty system in the U.S.S.R. is still very  remote. Noteworthy in this respect is a statement made by Vadim Medvedev, the member of the Politburo in charge of ideology, at a press conference in May of 1989. The introduction of a multiparty system in the Soviet Union is mentioned as a meaningful subject for discussion.

Gorbachev's impact on another aspect of society must be examined: democracy per se. Under Gorbachev masses have really gained greater access to the decision-making mechanism. In 1989 the public participated, although via many intermediaries, in the election of the country's president and of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. Recent elections have incited the masses to greater activity, since for the first time they were able to discuss their candidates, usually numbering more than one. Mass involvement surfaced especially prominently in voting against those in power even though they might have been the only candidate on the ballot.

Another dimension of society that must be examined is the separation of power. I have already noted one significant step currently in the making: the separation of party and state, transforming the party into an ideological institution. In addition, the greater role of both the Christian church as Islam points to a rather bleak future for the Communist party. Naturally, party chiefs will not concede their power easily. The party apparatus doggedly defends itself against Gorbachev's encroachments. A friend of mine in Moscow has made an interesting observation to the effect that if previously the cooperation among party functionaries was mostly 'vertical' and the conflict 'horizontal,' (since each functionary was eager to please his boss, and competed with his peers for the attention of the higher-ups) now, when the apparatus faces a single bitter enemy, cooperation and mutual help within it have become universal. My friend has observed this phenomenon both at the level of regional party secretaries and district party secretaries in big cities.

Gorbachev maneuvers to appease the party. This is chiefly the result of his personal power games. It was precisely party support that Gorbachev needed in order to be elected by the rather conservative Congress of People's Deputies. The Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, which met before the elections, voted to support Gorbachev's exclusive candidacy for the post of president. This decision obligates all members of the party to vote for Gorbachev (with party members comprising about 87 percent of all the deputies).

But I do not want to oversimplify the situation by reducing Gorbachev's relations with the party only to his power games. Gorbachev simply cannot ignore the functional role of the party in today's institutionally backward Soviet economy. When economic managers operate without adequate monetary incentives, other forms of control are brought to bear upon them: the failure to fulfill the plan may result in punishment of various degrees of severity, from party reprimand to expulsion.

Also, because the Soviet Union lacks administrative economic bodies that coordinate the activities of enterprises belonging to different and, especially, All-Union ministries within a given territorial unit, the party steps into the breach to perform the coordinating mission ( for more details, see chapter's 6 section on "The Double Hierarchy of the Soviet System of Governance.")

Gorbachev's attacks on the party have noticeably weakened its role in the economy. But no alternative  institutions have appeared that could accomplish through economic suasion the functions that the party used to accomplish coercively. In view of the worsening economic situation exacerbated by political conflicts, and the enormous problems of building new economic institutions, it cannot be ruled out that Gorbachev would be forced to make some concessions to the party apparatus, relieve the pressure being put upon now, and even enhance its role somewhat.

The postponement of local elections from the fall of 1989 to the spring of 1990 can be viewed as a concession to the party chiefs: in the spring 1989 elections of peoples' deputies, the voters in some parts of the country voted against regional party chiefs even when they were the only candidates on the ballot. (Especially blatant were the elections in Leningrad, when Iury Soloviev, an alternate member of the Politburo, and first secretary of the Leningrad Province Committee of the party, was voted out). At the May 1989 Plenum of the Central Committee which followed the elections to the Congress of of People's Deputies, a number of provincial secretaries  expressed apprehension concerning the upcoming fall 1989 elections to the local Soviets. Many of them feared that they would not be elected to the local Soviets, and the ensuing loss of their positions as secretaries. New rules stipulate that a secretary of a province who is not elected to the post of chief of the local Soviet has to give up his post.

One other point exists in support of my hypothesis that Gorbachev is making certain concessions to the party. Gorbachev initiated a well-known campaign against corruption. Trials were fueled (before, during, and after) by much propaganda in mass media and involved rather highly placed officials in the party and the government. Suddenly, in June of 1989 the press announced that one, Smirnov, the second secretary of the Communist party of Moldavia, was unjustly convicted on bribery charges and is now free; a major article by Olga Chaikovskaia in the Literaturnaia Gazeta questioned the lawfulness of the arrest of Churbanov, Brezhnev's son-in-law, who is serving a sentence for bribery. Perhaps these facts are a testimony to certain concessions made by Gorbachev to the conservative fraction of the party.

Separation of judicial and executive branches should, in principle, be promoted by the changes in the charter of the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R., a body being transformed into a continuously working institution. It is hard to say at this point what all these changes will bring. The fact that the Committee of the Supreme Soviet must ratify government appointments (in the executive branch) should, in theory, be conducive to the separation of power. At the same time, it is still unclear how for the membership of this Committee is subject to manipulation by the party apparatus, which can thus maintain its supreme power from behind the scene. Still, Gorbachev's general intent to transfer the bulk of the managerial power from the party to the Soviet apparatus suggests that these committees are independent from the party and will eventually assume its role. Indeed, confirmation of all appointments to the executive branch was previously carried out by the apparatus of the Central Committee.

The problem of ensuring independence of judicial bodies from the party was raised many times, but I know of no real measures enacted to serve this cause.

Openness.

Under Gorbachev, significant changes have taken place as far as openness is concerned.

Let us first consider openness within the country. Migration within the country has basically remained the same: there is an internal passport regime and limited inflow to the cities.

Glasnost has had a great impact upon the openness of information about the country's past, its present political situation and debates about its future. As far as the level of secrecy in the areas of technological and economic data, leaders' private lives, etc., there have not been any significant shifts, although these issues are raised in the press.

Free exchange of goods and services via market mechanisms has gained somewhat as a result of private enterprises known as cooperatives: as of this writing, they employ nearly two million people. But the number of cooperatives is still small, for they are limited in their growth by the overall scarcity of resources (in getting work space, equipment, supplies), fear of being expropriated, and so on. The state moves from one extreme to the other in regulating private businesses and cooperatives, sometimes giving incentives and sometimes imposing severe limitations via high taxes, outlawing certain kinds of cooperatives, etc. As a rule, the masses are hostile to private businessmen, thinking they earn too much money: one of the demands of the striking miners in 1989 was the closing down of cooperative ventures. There is a grain of truth in this antagonism. U.S.S.R. today is characterized by extreme deficit and mixed economy with the dominant role played by the state sector with its relatively low prices on consumer goods. These circumstances encourage semi-legal and illegal activity on the part of private enterprise. For instance, a restaurant owner can buy large quantities of meat at state stores at low prices and sell shish kebab at a high market price. Nevertheless, certain aspects of public animosity toward private business are unjustified. The standard of living enjoyed by private businessmen is much higher than that of the nation as a whole, with the latter suffering from a steady deterioration in their economic well-being. Antipathy toward private business also has its roots in the Russian culture, in traditional Russian antagonism toward the rich, who were regarded as vampires, exploiters, and speculators. The facts that active individuals produce more; that,if there are many active individuals, their high productivity will increase the size of the entire pie thus bettering everybody; and that active individuals only consume a small share of the overall pie, are not sufficient to convince the masses not to feel animosity toward these people.

Let us now consider inflows and outflows from the outside.

Inflows" to the U.S.S.R. There has been a large increase in the inflow of foreigners into the Soviet Union. Here, I speak not only of Western scholars and businessmen: in the last few years, recent emigrants from the U.S.S.R. living in any Western country, including Israel, have been allowed to visit the country without much problem (with the exception of some former dissidents). Until recently, their travel into the U.S.S.R. was unthinkable under any pretext. In some exceptional cases which threatened to explode into international scandal, recent emigrants from the Soviet Union were permitted to go back (as with S. Lerner attending her mothers' funeral). The reasons for easing the restriction on travel into the Soviet Union are many, not the least of which is the desire to acquire the foreign currency so desperately needed by the country. I believe another reason for easing the travel restrictions against former emigrants into the U.S.S.R. is the desire on the part of the Soviet Union to have certain groups of people in the West sympathetic to the country. For many years, these groups were formed from the members of Western communist parties and their sympathizers. These circles have been largely lost since the mid-1950s especially after the denunciation of Stalin in 1956 and the suppression of the Hungarian revolution that same year. In subsequent years, the Soviet Union tried, not without success, to make up for these losses by creating international terrorism. Gorbachev's new policy of closer international ties has forced the Soviet government, at least to a considerable extent, to reject its support of terrorism. Who is there in the West to lean upon? One reserve is the former Soviet citizens now living abroad. Soviet leaders have been making passes at them for quite a while. They made some progress in the 1930s and soon after the end of World War II in their appeal to the Russians who fled abroad after the October Revolution. But these people have grown old, while their children and grandchildren have become largely assimilated. A policy of cajolement has been tried on the Russians and, especially, the Ukrainians who fled to the West via Germany after the war. But many of them collaborated with Hitler and they are scared to visit the Soviet Union; also many of them are now old or have passed away. With the Jewish emigration to Israel, or more precisely to the West, which started in the beginning of 1970s more than three hundred thousand Jews have left the Soviet Union. These people, who are typically young and middle aged, emigrated legally, leaving close friends and relatives in the U.S.S.R. Being deeply assimilated, they have, as a rule, brought over their Russian heritage and maintain an interest in their former country. For this reason, this group is of particular interest to the new Soviet leadership. Closer ties with this group were officially announced in December, 1988 by a member of the Politburo, Minister of Foreign Affairs Eduard Shevardnadze. No one can say for certain  when, how, for what purposes, or even which of the new wave of emigrants will be used by the Soviets. But the presence of a sufficiently large group of people sympathetic to the regime provides candidates who, under proper circumstance, may extend favors to their former homeland. Naturally, I do mean to say that every Soviet emigrant visiting the Soviet Union is a potential spy. In fact, the majority, perhaps the great majority, of emigrants visiting the U.S.S.R. come back reassured that they have made the right decision in leaving the Soviet Union.

The flow of information into the Soviet Union from the West has increased drastically over the course of glasnost. Whereas before there was sufficient inflow of scientific and technical information, materials concerned with social and political issues have become much more accessible in the last few years. Jamming of Western radio broadcasting in Russian (and other languages spoken in the Soviet Union) which could be heard sporadically, has once again been suspended; this pertains, for instance, to the Voice of America and the BBC. Jamming of Radio Liberty, known for its sharp criticism of the Soviet system has been suspended for the first time. It has become much easier to bring literature into the Soviet Union, including political and religious literature.

Nothing as drastic has taken place in the import of goods. In fact, the import of consumer goods, especially manufactured goods, has fallen because of a lack of hard currency (more on this below, in the discussion of the export of goods).

The U.S.S.R. still lags in the importation of capital goods and in attracting Western firms into joint ventures. Nonconvertability of the Soviet currency aside, the problem is the payment that Western businessmen can expect to receive in exchange for their goods.

Outflows from the U.S.S.R. Let us now look at openness as far as the outflows from the country. First of all, emigration from the Soviet Union has increased drastically. Just as before it is limited to a few nationalities-Jews, Germans, and Armenians. It seems at this point that an emigration law that would apply to all people except those having access to classified information, etc., is close at hand. If passed, the law should not lead to a mass exodus from the country. Western countries have rigid immigration quotas and basically only a small number of Soviet citizens can gain access to the West. Moreover, by imposing classified status upon the important positions, Soviet leaders can make sure that the most qualified individuals remain in the country. Not too many people are capable of leaving their classified job for unclassified work and then wait several years for the right to apply for emigration.

Whereas emigration has undergone a quantitative shift, temporary travel by Soviet citizens has shifted qualitatively. For the first time, Soviet citizens, no matter what their nationality, have been granted a real opportunity to visit friends and relatives in the West, including Israel. All that is required is an invitation from abroad. The processing of all the relevant documents has been made much simpler (no longer are work references required, no approval by a district Party Committee, etc.). Tens of thousands of Soviet citizens have thus been able to visit the West. Of special note is the recently acquired opportunity for gifted Soviet scholars (of any nationality) to visit their colleagues in the West, provided they receive an invitation with all the expenses of their stay in the West covered. Hundreds of scholars who have never been allowed to go to the West in spite of many invitations have come here in recent months.

Certain changes have taken place in the export of information from the Soviet Union. Newspapers geared toward the West, Moscow News in particular, have become  rich in content, painting a very vivid picture of the situation in the country. Non-conformist Soviet painters have been given a chance to show and sell their work abroad. One should note a much greater influx into the United States of various representatives of Soviet culture (writers, poets, actors) who are of special interest to the Russian speaking public, especially from the last wave of emigration. Oftentimes these representatives of Soviet culture are called "paratroopers," since their goal, whether intentional or not, is to stir feelings of nostalgia in their former countrymen. By no means do I mean to insult Soviet cultural figures visiting the West; most of them are decent people. I merely want to note that many of them do not realize the sinfulness of their conduct and do not repent; that is, they do not realize that a very natural temptation to visit the West should not be justified by noble intentions once one has chosen to participate in the "propaganda volley."

There have been no significant changes in the export of goods from the U.S.S.R. Actual revenues from exports have decreased as a result of a drop in oil prices, which represents a major source of foreign currency.

What is our overall verdict of Gorbachev's reforms? Presently I will try to answer this difficult question, but consider that he has been in power longer than the term of an American president. Franklin D. Roosevelt, faced with a very critical situation in 1932, was able to turn the economy around in the first few years of his presidency.

Following a systems approach, we proceed by immersing the above question in a more general problem. This will bring into relief the common features (invariants) of the general and the specific and allow us to distinguish the peculiarities of the problem at hand. Subsequently, in dealing with our initial question, we can integrate the general and the specific aspects. In other words, the fusion of the general and the particular should be avoided in the initial analysis of the problem. It will be achieved when we integrate these features which were revealed in our previous analysis. In our case, the general problem that encompasses the Gorbachev question is the history of Russia.

 

Invariants of Russian History and the Flexibility of Upholding Them

 

The history of the Russian state, centered around Moscow for approximately the last seven hundred years, starting with Ivan I (Ivan Kalita) and cotinuing to the present (including Gorbachev's period), reveals at least two invariants: the first is autocracy and the second is the empire. These two invariants of Russian history have been preserved under various political modes known in the Marxist literatures as feudalism, capitalism, and socialism. Feudal Peter I, bourgeois liberal Nicholas II, and communist Vladimir I. Lenin all maintained an autocratic imperial regime in Russia,  justifying their actions with very different slogans. Only briefly did Russia betray its two traditions. This was the period that lasted for eight months between February and November of 1917, when a bourgeois republic was created in Russia and events could have led to a disintegration of the empire. But Bolsheviks, headed by Lenin, were quick (almost immediately after the October Revolution) to put Russia back upon its traditional course of autocracy and empire.[25] In this sense, the October Revolution was in fact a counterrevolution for it backtracked from the liberal gains achieved by the February Revolution.[26]

The two features of Russian history have been sustained by very different means under various leaders. Some employed methods that gravitated toward tyranny while others inclined toward liberalism. I want to repeat that the ideological justification of the various methods is not so important. What is essential is which of these methods were used by Russian leaders to preserve and strengthen an autocratic imperial regime. From this perspective the spectrum of Russian rulers includes tyrants such as Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Stalin as well liberally inclined leaders such as Alexander II and Nicholas II. While all of them strengthened an autocratic imperial state their methods varied considerably. Ivan the Terrible, Peter the Great, and Stalin employed cruel coercive ways. Alexander II and Nicholas II attempted to ease the pressure exerted by authority.

Stalin took the Russian tradition to an extreme. In its autocratic aspect his reign was not original: his reign, just like that of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, turned into tyranny. But the imperial invariant took on a heretofore unseen and grotesque scale. Not only did Stalin reannex parts of the Empire given up by Lenin and drastically augment the Russian empire to the greatest size it has ever known, but it seems that he aspired to make Russia the master of the world and saw himself as the world sovereign.

Alexander II abolished serfdom and instituted judicial reform. During his reign, Russia started to rebuild its industry (for instance, metallurgy based on then modern principles started to develop in Donbass). At the same time, Alexander did not surrender an inch of land; in fact, he annexed Bessarabia, which had been lost in 1855 after the Russian defeat in the Crimean War, as well as new lands in the south of Russia and in the Far East. He cruelly suppressed the Polish rebellion of 1863, demanding more severe punishment for the rebels than some of his associates. Liberal reforms under Nicholas II were quite extensive. He went as far as allowing the Duma (Parliament) to be formed, and allowing the creation of a multiparty system, and he enlisted such outstanding statesmen as Sergey U. Vitte and Petr A. Stolypin in his administration. Still,  Nicholas maintained his right as a monarch to be "the ruler of destinies" of the empire (some small territories were lost after the defeat of Russia in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905).

 The majority of Russian rulers gravitated toward one of the two extremes mentioned above. For example, Pavel I was closer to the tyrant, while Alexander I was inclined toward liberalism for a considerable part of his reign.

 

Autocracy, Empire and the Flexibility of NEP

 

Very pertinent to our discussion is the period of Soviet history known as New Economic Policy (NEP). I claim that, during this period, an autocratic and imperial system headed by Lenin was upheld and strengthened by diverse and flexible means. Within the framework of this section I want to examine the NEP and its peculiar features as well as the difference between that period and the present state of Soviet Russia and China.

When  the NEP was started, the great majority of Russians (approximately 80 percent) lived in rural areas and worked in agriculture. The village had its share of the semi-strong and strong peasants known as seredniak and kulaks. These peasants still had faith in the government. The equipment they used was rather primitive: the horse was the draft animal and fertilizers were supplied from domestic animals and horses. Under these conditions, the limiting factor in improving agricultural productivity of peasants was the incentives to work. Therefore, a switch from prodrazverstka to prodnalog  (from a surplus appropriation system to a system of tax in kind) in the Soviet village in 1921 gave peasants a tremendous opportunity to increase their output. Similar reforms were initiated in China in the last decade.

A jump in output in the Soviet countryside was accompanied by a rapidly mobilized private trade, which allowed agricultural goods to be transported to the city. The latter is due to the material foundation of trade and, even more importantly, to the experienced individuals who still remained in the country. Allowing small private enterprises considerably (although insufficiently) improved the output of industrial goods needed in the rural and urban areas. The then-poorly developed industrial sector alleviated leaders' fears that labor, equipment, and materials would flow into the private sector.

Although the adoption of the NEP dealt a severe blow to communist ideology  (in fact, a number of communists even committed suicide, especially sincere this ideology had espoused drastic curtailment of private initiative and the abolition of a monetary system), communist ideology in general still had a certain appeal to a large part of the population. The era was marked by jubilant victors over the old system, with their supremacy sealed by the victory in the civil war. All these factors allowed a certain loosening of the ideological reigns, since political opposition was knocked out.

As far as the political system is concerned, the already rigid political structure created prior to the NEP was tightened even further. The NEP period is surrounded by a certain romantic haze. People think that along with economic liberalization, the political screws were loosened as well, and various different points of view were permitted in political life. This is incorrect. Such opinions emerge from an inadequate understanding of the fact that the NEP was instituted at a time when political tightening occurred parallel with economic liberalization. Apparently, people apply certain stereotypes by which they associate economic liberalization with political liberalization. I know of no instance when a politically liberal system existed with a nonliberal economic system. But the possibility of the reverse is well documented: it is the experience of Franco's Spain as well as Yugoslavia and Portugal; it was also the experience of the NEP.

In his report to the lOth Party Congress (1921), Lenin introduced a sharp tightening of the political structure along with liberalization in the economic sphere. Right-wing parties had been banned earlier; now left-wing parties (Social Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and others) were banned and, moreover, factions within the only permissible party remaining, the Bolshevik party, were also eliminated. The NEP saw the creation of a monolithic political structure. Within limits, this political structure's development led to a total atomization of society, that is, to the prohibition of any independently formed organizations.[27]

The creation of a rigid political structure under the NEP must not be confused with a rigid ideological climate. Of course, such a political structure sharply  limits freedom, but it still can permit some ideological variety in art and science, debates and so on. But what is important is that all these liberties are deprived of an institutionalized basis and, therefore, can be easily liquidated when suitable.

Therefore, irrespective of some ideological liberties and economic liberalization, the creation of a rigid political structure is dangerous because it is predisposed toward the appearance of a dictator, or even a tyrant. Once political power is concentrated in the hands of one person, or even a small group of individuals, and all forms of organized opposition are excluded, it is then difficult to do anything at all to limit the power of the leadership.

Under the NEP, a structure was created that determined to a great extent what was to happen later politically, that is, the appearance of a system that featured one omnipotent leader and that lacked controls over that leader's actions. I do not want to say that the arrival of such a leader was completely determined or that it was ineluctable. Soviet history could have turned out otherwise. But the system created by Lenin and his followers was predisposed toward such a leader's emergence. A more general question: why did they create such a system in the first place? It occurred first and foremost because the system was from its very beginning theocratic, religious, in nature, insofar as its leaders knew the Truth. Once the Truth is known, why permit other alien truths to abound? Why pose the question of checking the  validity of the Truth? It's only necessary in this case to conduct inspections to monitor how directives are being implemented, that is, a bureaucratic hypostasis of the Truth. But checking the implementation of directives is something completely different from checking the extent to which the directives themselves are any good. Under the NEP, the apparatus for checking the validity of directives was liquidated. For such checking, an independent opposition is needed, an opposition organized so that it can muster the strength to develop a different opinion and contrast it to the existing one.

Thus, the first invariant of Russian history, namely autocracy, was not breached during the NEP. The second aspect-the empire- was, to a large degree, also upheld. During the Civil War and then during the NEP the former Russian empire had to deal with strong separatist movements of various nationalities. These movements were rather cruelly suppressed, and basically all the territories formerly belonging to the Russian empire were preserved, except for the Western parts of the Baltic region and Poland. I shall discuss this subject in more thoroughly the chapter dealing with the Russian empire.

The present day situation in the U.S.S.R. is completely different. The great majority of the population does not work in agriculture: in 1987 the rural population was only 34 percent of the U.S.S.R. total population, while only 22 percent (this figure accounts for working individuals as well as their dependents) of the total population worked in agriculture.[28] But the relative ratios of rural and urban populations is not really the issue. In the last sixty years a stereotype arose in many regions of the U.S.S.R., especially in Russia proper, that only a fool stays in the village. Therefore, the stronger among the rural dwellers have left the village. Today there are fewer men, and those remaining are oftentimes the old, invalids, or alcoholics. But even those remaining in the village have lost much of their faith in the government and they are apprehensive when it comes to investing effort into enterprises promising long-term rewards.

Also, Soviet agriculture relies primarily on mechanized equipment, not horses. This equipment is better suited for large-scale farming. But what is even more crucial is that agricultural machinery is built to be easily convertible for military use. In addition, modern-day technology calls for artificial fertilizers, herbicides, etc., plus skill in applying them under the conditions at hand.

At the present time, the transfer of trade and light industry into private hands is difficult, for it is requires that skilled labor, equipment, and materials flow into those sectors, and away from the heavy industry that still tops the list of priorities. The rechanneling of resources assumes the most grotesque shape (bribes, theft, etc.), since all the reforms are taking place under the conditions of extreme deficit. Also, many people are afraid to open a own private business. There is no guarantee of keeping the business, because of the possibility of its expropriation; in addition there is also the attitude of the populace toward private enterprise, especially in Russia. The hostility of the populace toward private businessmen-"vampires"-is an age-old Russian tradition, easily revived after so many years of suppressing private-entrepreneurial activity.

I have already mentioned that  the official ideology has lost its vitality: people have simply lost faith in it.

So, the present-day situation in the Soviet Union bears very little resemblance to the period preceding the NEP.  People, production capacities, and agricultural technology have been severed at the root. Encouraging private enterprise breeds fears that qualified personnel and capital goods will be rechanneled from heavy industry into the private sector. The great majority of the population has become disillusioned with leaders' promises and with the official ideology. Separatist movements in the empire that has grown in the course of the last seventy years have been actively harassing the central authorities. All these factors call for an approach very different from the one used to revive the country at the time of the NEP.

 

So, Who Is Gorbachev?

 

We can come to at least two important conclusions in summing up our discussion of Russian history: first, that two invariants have prevailed throughout Russia's seven hundred year history: autocracy and empire; and second, that the ways of upholding these two traditions varied: some gravitated toward despotism with tyrannical leaders, while others inclined in the direction of liberalism with almost liberal leaders.

I believe these two conclusions are sufficient to answer, if only roughly, the question "Who is Gorbachev?" I want to reformulate the question in the following, up-front way. Is Gorbachev a leader who is trying to break the two aforementioned invariants of Russian history and take Russia upon a course of democratic development, liberating subordinated territories whose people seek national autonomy? Or is Gorbachev a leader who seeks to preserve the entrenched Russian autocratic imperial regime by employing more flexible methods than have been employed in the past? I want to note that in speaking of Gorbachev's policies regarding the invariants of Russian history, I mean not his intentions but the actual institutions he has created. Of course, it is hard to separate these two issues, and so I apologize to the reader for a certain inconsistency: sometimes I speak of Gorbachev's intentions rather than examining the actual institutional changes taking place.

Let me make the question, "Who is Gorbachev?" more precise. Is not Gorbachev an autocrat playing the role of a centrist leader using, up till now, a mixed strategy in upholding the Russian tradition, with a certain emphasis upon liberalism? The implementation of this policy has met with great obstacles. Gorbachev's problems stem not just from the bureaucracy, which resists change, but also from the exhaustion of the country, the traditional culture of the Russian people, and a rather low cultural level of the current leadership and their advisers.

Let me say a few words regarding the cultural level of Soviet leaders, and of Gorbachev in particular. Gorbachev was a law student at the Moscow State University. Most of his student years belonged to Stalin's era, a period later marked by a campaign against "cosmopolitanism" and the subsequent elimination or expulsion from the law schools of what scholars there were left and an influx of Andrey Y. Vyshinsky's stooges. Under the circumstances, education and training by an activist of the Komsomol casts serious doubt on the quality of the education received by its graduates as far as an acquaintance with the latest legal developments is concerned. There is no hint that Gorbachev devoted himself seriously to the study of the great works in the area of law. Evening studies at the Agricultural Institute in Stavropol, from which he graduated, probably did not broaden his intellectual range. The career upon which Gorbachev embarked in Stavropol demanded the utmost effort and cunning: he first had to climb to the top of the local hierarchy, and subsequently he had to struggle in the upper echelons of the party apparatus. At the same time, Gorbachev is not totally indifferent to cultural concerns: he genuinely loves theatre, and apparently used to write poetry.

 Gorbachev's example is typical of Soviet leaders: they are highly qualified in achieving, expanding and maintaining their power, but their overall culture is rather primitive compare to the demands of managing a complex country with an autocratic regime. In other words, Soviet leaders are experts at political intrigue but are poor statesman.

I know many of Gorbachev's advisers personally. Most of them are gifted people deeply concerned with the situation in the country. They are all over fifty years old, they all received socioeconomic education at Soviet colleges which taught at roughly the level of the beginning of nineteenth century. The governing doctrine of Marxism-the pinnacle of all these sciences-has made the graduates of Soviet institutions ignorant of the great achievements of world thought in philosophy, sociology, economics, etc. In subsequent years these people, for various reasons, also lacked an opportunity to seriously devote themselves to the study of the latest developments in their own fields. Naturally, being actively involved in the reforms, they are bound to learn. But how many years and how many mistakes will it take before they reach the level of modern science if they have to rediscover the paradigms that have been discovered in their respective fields over the last 150 years?

Unfortunately, as far as getting acquainted with the latest developments of world thought, the situation of the younger generation studying socioeconomic sciences and humanities,, has not changed significantly. It will take some time before the criticism of Marxism, which has just started in the Soviet Union, will become constructive, in the sense that students will study world thought after Marx. Individual Soviet scholars in socioeconomic sciences who are on a par with world standards are still very far from Gorbachev or his advisers; moreover, they are prevented from active involvement in teaching the new generation of teachers and students.

But let us go back to the politics of Gorbachev. Assuming that Gorbachev is pursuing a centrist policy with the intention of preserving an autocratic imperial regime using flexible methods, we can give one possible interpretation of Gorbachev's position in relation to various political movements in the country. Gorbachev does not curtail the development even of opposing trends: in case liberal reforms fail he can always saddle a different horse. He is moderate in his support of liberal, conservative and even reactionary circles. This became evident at the June 1989 Congress of the People's Deputies. He gave the first word to Andrey Sakharov, but soon interrupted his rather critical speech, apologizing for not having warned him of a five-minute limit. At the final meeting when Sakharov asked to speak, Gorbachev addressed the audience about granting Sakharov a word. The response was an ear shattering "No!". Still, Gorbachev allowed Sakharov to speak, but when the time limit expired (I believe it was doubled) he turned off the microphone.

At one point, Gorbachev stood up to applaud a veteran of the Afghanistan war who attacked Sakharov for condemning this war and exposing its cruel side. Taking into account the strong patriotic zeal of the county, which justifies Soviet militarism in the eyes of the great majority of Russian people and oftentimes even of the intelligentsia, this demonstrative act cast a shadow upon Sakharov's reputation.

Gorbachev's game is complex perhaps because Gorbachev's entourage includes many leaders who believe in the more rigid methods of preserving an autocratic imperial state. These people extend their utmost support to those who adhere to these views. On the one hand these hard-liners impede a more methodical implementation of the more liberal aspects of Gorbachev's policy; on the other hand, this group gives him an opportunity to support the circles opposing the hard-liners. Gorbachev needs those who oppose the hard-liners in case he decides to demolish these leaders of the hard-liners. One could well maintain that Gorbachev would like to remove some of these men, if only because many of them did not come to power on his accord. At the same time, as long as they are around and hard to replace, and as  long as they are under control and make no attempt to  dethrone Gorbachev, he can be more tolerant and try to use the results of their work for his own benefit. If necessary (as with the leaders of the liberal front) Gorbachev may try to discredit them just to weaken their popularity and to prevent them from usurping power. Interesting in this respect is the conduct of N. Ivanov, a prosecutor  who was one of the instigators of the investigation into corruption in the highest echelons of the government. Ivanov was elected a Peoples' Deputy from Leningrad. In his election campaign, he spoke on Leningrad television naming the people linked to the corruption. Among those mentioned were not only the recently expelled member of Politburo Mikhail Solomentsev, but also Egor Ligachev. Ligachev has been widely regarded as one of the leaders of the right wing, the man who inspired the Russian national-socialist manifesto, although the manifesto first appeared as a letter, by Nina Andreeva, published in the newspaper Sovietskaia Rossiia on 13 March 1988.

At this point I would like to advance some arguments in support of my thesis that Gorbachev is trying to maintain an autocratic empire, using a flexible approach. Testifying to Gorbachev's desire to preserve autocracy is his unshakable intent to acquire dual power both as president of the country and as first secretary of the Communist party. Academician Sakharov, as well as a number of delegates to the 1988 party conference headed by Academicians Leonid Abalkin and Roald Sagdeev, spoke against this merger. Their arguments were quite simple: concentration of power in the hands of one person is fraught with grave dangers, especially if at some future point the power should fall into the hands of  a person "unworthy of of trust." Nevertheless, at the party conference Gorbachev's move was adopted by a majority of several thousand votes (only 208 delegates voted against Gorbachev's suggestion) and it is now being carried out in practice. At the May 1989 Congress of People's Deputies it was proposed to have several candidates for the post of president, of having Gorbachev report to the congress on the previous period, to separate the power of the president and the first secretary of the party, etc. All these proposals were rejected and Gorbachev managed through political intrigue to get elected to the post of president and still maintain his position as first secretary.

The empire is by no means being disbanded by Gorbachev. The rather cruel suppression of demonstrations in Georgia and Moldavia, really organized under the banner of political independence, are a testimony to this. It would not be too farfetched to suppose that greater flexibility will be shown toward the Baltic states. Perhaps they will be allowed to leave the happy Soviet family. . . to hold the same status as other Eastern European countries. The reason for this exceptional move may be the still-fresh memory of the coercive annexation of these republics by Russia after the signing of the pact between Stalin and Hitler in 1939. These events were accompanied by many human losses, first and foremost as a result of the massive exile of the native population of these regions to Siberia. As far as the Eastern European countries are concerned, the most rebellious ones, such as Hungary and Poland, may be granted the status of Finland. To sum up, my hypothesis that Gorbachev is not altering the Russian tradition seems to hold: he is sticking to the invariants of Russian history though employing more flexible methods in doing so. Once again, in speaking of Gorbachev's policies with respect to Russian traditions, I do not mean  his intentions but the actual institutions he is creating. Here I want to remark that as long as autocracy cannot be replaced, I am in favor of this flexible approach to maintaining the regime,rather than the more rigid methods. Moreover, since flexible ways of preserving an autocratic empire can in principle lead to a democracy, judging this kind of policy becomes ever- more difficult. At the same time, one should not confuse democratization with a more flexible preservation of autocracy so as to be better prepared to employ such methods. And one should not be dumbstruck when the leader resorts to means foreign to the spirit of democracy. Of course, in reality this distinction is hard to spot, for on the surface democratization and flexibility in the preservation of autocracy seem rather similar. The question of whether what is taking place in the Soviet Union is democratization or flexibility in upholding an autocratic empire is very relevant in solving some practical problems of Russian development.

For instance, a share of liberally minded intelligentsia believes that, since the U.S.S.R. is really undergoing a process of democratization, the transformation to regional autonomy may be conducted within the framework of a democratic regime, that is, without the violent demonstrations and ensuing bloodshed that, the radical nationalistic circles are advocating. If the Soviet Union is indeed undergoing the process of democratization, then these liberal circles of intelligentsia would be correct. But if the Soviet Union is really experiencing an autocratic imperial regime, even though supported by flexible methods, then perhaps other groups advocating more radical solutions are right: under the pressure from the populace the government may make considerable concessions. Of course, radicalism may lead to excesses having negative repercussions: very strong jolts in the republics may cause those in power to take a sharp turn and revert back to rigid policies of ruling the country.

 

The Liberalization of Russia: The Paradox of Glasnost!

 

From a general standpoint, the reanimation of the stagnant Soviet system that is being carried out in the Soviet Union through the vehicle of glasnost, that is, by activating the citizenry under conditions of greater freedom, is worthy of the respect of all liberal-minded persons.

To be certain, all of these liberal changes are not taking place uniformly.  Even as this book is being written, there are already equally apparent signs of opposite tendencies.  I have in mind statements made by a number of Soviet officials thought to be sympathetic to the liberal cause, especially  Politburo member Alexander Iakovlev, demanding that the screws be tightened. 

However, for the purposes of this book I am going to proceed from the extreme case, that is, on the assumption that the campaign of glas­nost is developing full swing in the U.S.S.R. and that the appearance  of nonliberal articles is also a manifestation of the growing multi­plicity of ideas.

Furthermore, and once again proceeding from the extreme case, I will tie the development of glasnost at the present time with the name of Gorbachev.  Meanwhile, we must remember that Gorbachev began his activity using the extremely traditional Soviet methods of stimulating economic growth, in particular, attempts to resurrect the Stakhanov movement.

In May of 1985, at Michigan State University, Professor Vladimir E. Shliapen­tokh organized a one-day seminar devoted to the fiftieth anniversary of the Stakhanov movement in the U.S.S.R.  One of the goals of that seminar, according to Shliapentokh, was the verification of the parameters accord­ing to which one could judge the intentions of the then-new Soviet leader Gorbachev.  Based on how preparations for the celebration itself were conducted, it would be possible to try to judge in what direction Gorbachev intends to develop Soviet society in the near future.  I valued Shliapen­tokh's idea very highly and participated in the work of the seminar with great interest.

It is well-known that the Stakhanov movement embodies the demagogically most primitive methods of economic development.  It is also well-known that Gorbachev celebrated this anniversary with great fanfare and took a personal part in the ceremonies.  It is likewise known that soon afterwards, Gorbachev started implementing quite a different policy of reviving the economy.

By saying this I in no way mean to debunk the value of attempts to forecast Gorbachev's actions.  On the contrary, from this experience one can draw a very far-reaching conclusion:  we are now dealing with a very flexible Soviet leader and forecasts of his likely activity require the development of very sophisti­cated methods.

It is still far from clear in just what direction Gorbachev will evolve.  I cannot caution the reader enough to be extremely careful in evaluating Gorbachev's activities, since he is still in the developmental stage as a leader. Just as he evolved rapidly from an ordinary Soviet apparatchik to a revolutionizing figure with liberal leanings, we cannot exclude the possibility that he might well take steps in a different direction should he find himself faced with a rapidly changing set of circumstances.

The method that I am suggesting here for examining the role of glasnost in the modern period of Russia's development  is substantially different from the approach that is currently widely accepted.  For all intents and purposes glasnost, in and of itself, is seen as a positive development in the sense that most feel that the more it develops and the faster it develops, the better.  Opinions tend to differ only with respect to such questions as how sincere glasnost  is and to what extent it is sufficient to transform a stagnant Soviet society.

In this connection, an opinion survey conducted in 1987 by the magazine The Nation among a number of renowned Soviet emigres on their attitudes towards glasnost is of great interest.[29] Lev Kopelev, Iurij Orlov, Valery Chalidze, and Alexander Yanov all hold the view that the policy of glasnost that is currently being implemented in the U.S.S.R. not only is not fiction, but it is a significant phenomenon that can easily be seen as the beginning of a democratization of the Soviet Union.  Vladimir Voinovich and Zhores Medvedev hold very similar views, but they are essentially more critical in their evaluations of the results that have already been achieved under glasnost.  However, all these respondents felt that, in order to truly achieve a democratization of Soviet society, further meaningful steps would have to be taken.  In Orlov's opinion the significance of these steps could be so great, and therefore the unwilling­ness of the Soviet leaders to carry out these measures could be so strong, that he feels that it will not be possible to achieve a true democratization of the U.S.S.R. for at least another decade. Vladimir Maksimov expressed a more extreme view.  While he doesn't deny that restrictions on basic freedoms have been loosened recently in the U.S.S.R., he doesn't really see this as a significant development since, in his view, until the time when a legal opposition to the existing regime can be created, it is impossible to speak of any significant changes in the Soviet system.

My views of glasnost are quite the opposite: that is to say, the more widely and rapidly the policy of glasnost is imple­mented, the greater will be the threat it poses not only to the U.S.S.R., but to other countries as well.[30] My views are basically in line with the considerations advanced in chapter 2 regarding the incompatibility of pluralism and democracy given, especially at a time of crisis, the populace's low  level of culture. Needless to say, I am not against increased glasnost insofar as it is confined to hard-hitting intellectual journalism, free-wheeling scholarly discussions, and the like. I only think it unwise to bring glasnost down to the grass roots level, and particularly allow mass organizations and demonstrations or popular publications and statements (especially on TV) designed to stir up ethnic resentments and similar antagonisms.

Bearing this in mind,  in the present work I primarily wish to ex­amine the problem of how the mobilization of the Soviet population, accompanied by a relaxation of the regime's strictness, might well lead to the opposite result, that is, to the creation of an even stricter regime, marked by unabashed militar­ism and chauvinism.  Whether Gor­bachev himself would become the leader of such a regime  (in a more toned-down form[31]) or whether he would be replaced by someone else, is difficult for me to say.

So my hypothesis is that glasnost introduced in the U.S.S.R. under Gorbachev can lead to a triumph of nationalistic policy. Based on the general considerations regarding the conflict between pluralism and democracy, I want to state some considerations supporting my statement.

The process of the activation of the Soviet people taking place under Gorbachev's leadership is seen by many Soviet specialists primarily in the context of a binary approach,  that is an analysis finds, on the one hand, a liberal Gorbachev who is trying to mobilize the Soviet citizen­ry, and, on the other hand, conservatives who want to retain the calm, secure life to which they grew accustomed during the last twenty years of Brezhnev's rule.

Meanwhile, if we go from a binary to a tripartite approach, our task is made significantly more complicated (just as is the case in mechanics when we switch from a task involving two bodies to a task involving three).  If we adopt this approach, we can clearly see one more broad and important group-reaction­aries.  Unlike conservatives, who by definition strive to preserve the status quo, reactionaries seek changes.  In this respect, reactionaries and liberals are similar.  They are distinguished by the changes that they advocate: liberals push for changes toward democratization, whereas reactionaries seek to establish authoritarian and even dic­tatorial, chauvinistic regimes.[32]

The sort of three-pronged approach acquires particular significance if we take into account the fact that the trans­formations being ushered in by Gorbachev are taking place in a period in which the world's last big empire, with a tradition of expansionism and nationalism, including its extreme chauvinistic forms, is suffering stagnation. It follows, then, that the activation that is taking place could be used not only by liberal circles, but by reactionary ones as well.  Moreover, the paradoxical nature of the events taking place under Gorbachev consists in the fact that the reactionaries can exploit the opportunities created by restruc­turing to an even greater degree than can the liberals, since the reactionaries have on their side the sympathies of the masses of the Russian population, which traditionally has supported nationalistic ideas.  These reactionaries, being fanatics, can act more decisively and can do a great deal more to promote a rebirth of the Russian people's faith in their future.  They can in many ways further the steamlining of the economic mechanism, first and foremost through its decentralization and liberation from the tutelage of the party.  Additionally, in aspirations as a world power, they can even more decisively set Russia on a course of expansion, believing in its messianic role as the savior of the world. 

In other words, I am advancing the following hypothesis: under the conditions of a stagnating empire with militaristic and national­istic traditions, the strengthening of glasnost, manifested in the activation of the populace, could lead not to a liberalization of the country, but rather, in the extreme case, to the establish­ment of a hard-line authoritarian, militaristic, and nationalistic regime headed by fanatical leaders.

Notes and References

 


4

 

Expansion of the Soviet Empire

 

A Semi-Forbidden Topic

 

In it's current position, the Russian empire occupies a huge territory -- more that one-seventh of the earth's dry land -- with a population of 290 million people, and a gigantic military potential. This empire consists of several circles. The first circle is the mother country proper, in which the overwhelming majority of the population is Russian. The second circle includes the territories where other nationalities live, for whom the territory is historically their native land and who are entirely subordinate to the Russian dictate. The second circle includes the Soviet republics and autonomous republics. The third circle includes countries that are formally considered to be sovereign nations but that are actually subordinate to Russia, since the latter's troops may suppress any attempt they make to extract themselves from the empire. It is true that the Russian dictate does have obvious limitations here (the absence of an official representative of Russian nationality in the leadership of such a country, the fact that it is not mandatory for the populations to use the Russian language, and the like). The third circle is comprised primarily of Eastern European countries. Finally, the fourth circle includes countries that, realistically observing their neutrality, are located in the sphere of strong Russian influence, and largely depend on it in military matters (for the delivery of weapons and the training of military staff). This group of countries primarily includes, at various times, various developing nations of the Third World such as Egypt, Indonesia, Syria, Somalia, and others.

The Russian empire has many features in common with other empires, but it also has some traits that have had a significant influence on its development. Specifically, there are traits in connection with the colonial empire (the first, second, and third circles) that make the maintenance of the Russian empire difficult: the inclusion in the empire's orbit of territories that are more economically advanced than the mother country (the inclusion, for example,  of the Baltic region, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, or Hungary); the close proximity of the main mass of territory making up the empire either to the mother country or the second circle; the development mechanisms of the mother country itself, which are insufficiently efficient  compared with the mechanisms of more-developed countries subordinate to Russia, and which therefore lead to the formation of development programs for the client countries which sometimes prove disastrous for these countries: it was not a coincidence for Russia (nor for the English or the French empires) that Europe's role as the gendarme was strengthened.

The democratization of the U.S.S.R. rests on the problem of preserving the empire, as its inhabitants are longing for self-determination. Resolving the issue of freedom in the U.S.S.R. ultimately means allowing its peoples to demand secession from the body of the empire, as well as permitting countries belonging to the third circle to pull out.

The problems currently tearing Russia apart are connected with the deep-seated conflict between the fortification of the last great empire in the world and the stagnation of its society and economy. The crisis situation in which the country finds itself is to a large degree the result of the accepted conception of development, which was founded on the idea of maintaining and expanding the empire. In the list of the Soviet leaders' priorities, second place, after the preservation of their own personal power, has been and presently is assumed by the aim of strengthening the might of the empire. This is the dominant aim, and the economy is subordinate to the goals of the empire.

 Such a successful combinative game conceals within itself the threat of a Pyrrhic victory, the unavoidable companion of a combinative game if one disregards the positional strength of the system.   It seems to me that this "victory" began at the end of the 1970s;  the suspension of growth in heavy industry along with the downgrading of agriculture and light industry, the failures in the military sphere (for example, the complete discrediting of Soviet weaponry during the Lebanese war, the unsuccessful war in Afghanistan, the landing of the West German plane on Red Square), and the inability to withstand seriously Reagan's call for Star Wars seem to me to be the results of the profound exhaustion of the nation's potential. In other words, the current decline in economic activity and military might are not results of present fluctuations, but rather the results of a disfiguring war economy and its accompanying methods of government.

A huge gap has arisen between the needs of the empire, the interests of its inhabitants, and the available natural and human resources, as well as the capital on hand. The country's production has turned out to be insufficient to maintain its status as a superpower able to satisfy the modern military requirements vital to expanding the empire, and to increase its population's standard of living.

In order to overcome these difficulties, it is not enough to improve the economic mechanism. It is of primary importance for the nation to relieve itself of the burden of maintaining the empire.

 The force of these conflicts between imperial aspirations and economic capacity to fulfill them had reached such a level that Gorbachev announced his policy of glasnost and perestroika in order to bring ambition and ammunition into an equilibrium. In the course of glasnost, extremely significant aspects of life in Soviet society, which were earlier considered taboo, were immediately brought to light. Amongst these changes, those that directly concern the empire are, as usual, closed issues. This is not to say that the fate of the empire is not being discussed. It is being discussed very seriously, but not out loud.

With the announcement of glasnost, issues pertaining to the empire began to be discussed in an indirect manner. Indirect repercussions of the thorny discussion concerning the dilemma of the Soviet empire penetrate the general press under the guise of topics that seem isolated from this problem. Popular among these topics is the study of local languages and of the Russian language in the various republics. In order to get a perspective on this issue, it will suffice to compare the article "The Slavs: Language and History" published in Pravda on 28 March 1987     ( by Oleg N. Trubachev, a correspondent member of the U.S.S.R.'s Academy of Science) with the works of writers from the non-Russian republics at the April 1987 Plenum of the Soviet Writers' Union, as published in Literary Gazette on 6 May 1987.

In Trubachev's article, it is plainly stated that the Russian language is the dominant language and that local languages should be subordinate to it.

During the Writers' Union plenum, writers representing the Ukraine and Byelorussia mainly addressed the necessity of organizing instruction in the local languages at the school level, since this area of education is appallingly lacking. Boris Olejnik (from the Ukraine) candidly stated that "in several of our regional centers the number of Ukranian schools is approaching zero."

These writers have correctly observed that without the population's knowledge of the local language, the development of national literature in the republics will suffer. It is interesting to note that the writers' presentation was supported by a semi-official, the secretary of the Writers' Union of the Russian Republic, Sergey Mikhalkov.

This does not mean that among writers representing the national republics there were none who supported the russification of the republics. Thus, a representative of Uzbekistan, Ulmas Umarbekov, complained that in the republic "in the recent past, Uzbek writers writing in Russian were subject to discrimination." However, this was the only pro-Russian demonstration by a non-Russian.

When comparing the allowances made in the name of glasnost concerning many economic and social issues and the lack of allowance concerning others, one gets the impression that the current Soviet administration is prepared for rather decisive action directed towards ideological changes at the socioeconomic level, but that it is not prepared for any sort of significant changes regarding the eradication of the empire. This chapter deals with one such change related to the eradication of the empire.

As glasnost gathers momentum, the empire has become more and more a subject of discussion. The greatest revelation in this respect has been the critical assessment of Soviet foreign policy when it was acknowledged to be hegemonic and based on offensive military strategy.

Of greatest significance in the discussion of internal imperial policy has been the medias publicizing of the many regional conflicts flaring up in the U.S.S.R.: conflicts between Armenians and Azerbaijanians over Nagorno-Karabakh, between Abkhazians and Georgians, between Uzbeks and Meskhets, the direct claims for independence on the part of the Baltic republics, etc.

 

Seven Hundred Years of Imperial Tradition

 

What then is the principal reason keeping Soviet leaders from parting with the empire? Actually, a very simple answer comes to mind: the fear of losing the prestige enjoyed by leaders of a world superpower. Yes, such an answer may actually prove sufficient to explain the U.S.S.R.'s imperial policies. However, it still appears that there are a number of important factors that aggravate the situation, and that would still interfere with Soviet leaders' rejecting the empire, even if for some reason they discovered that their prestige in world history would increase if they eradicated the empire. One of these key factors is the nation's tradition.[33]

If we look at Russia's history over the past seven hundred years, beginning with Ivan Kalita and continuing up to today's administration, we observe that the empire has continually expanded and strengthened. During this period, not even one other imperial nation was able to maintain its power; but Russia managed to do so.

Along these lines, it is fascinating to trace the characteristics of the more significant Russian leaders all the way up to Stalin as depicted in The Encyclopedic Dictionary. Since it was published in the U.S.S.R. from 1953--55, it largely reflects Stalin's extremely aggressive postwar expansionist policy (I will go into detail about this policy later).

    Ivan I Danilovich Kalita (?--1340): "Great Prince of Muscovy." "One of the first to unify the Russian land under power of Moscow principality."

   Ivan III Vasilevich (1440--1505): "Great King of Muscovy and of all Russia," "great political figure." "Chiefly accomplished the unification of scattered Russian provinces around Moscow into a single Russian government." "Conducted successful wars with Livonia, Poland, Lithuania. Significantly strengthened and expanded the Russian nation."

  Ivan IV Vasilevich Grozny (1530--84): "Great Prince of all Russia," "leading political figure." "During the reign of Ivan IV the centralization of Russia's rule was strengthened into a single autocratic power." "Conquered the Kazan (1552) and Astrakhan (1556) tatar Khanates, seized the entire Volga region and subjugated the Nogai hordes to Moscow along with the Siberian kingdom, annexed numerous peoples in the northern Caucasus region to the Russian nation."

  Peter I Alexeyevich (1672--1725): "Emperor," "Great political figure, general, naval commander and diplomat." "In the sphere of foreign policy P. I waged a consistent battle for access to the sea, as this was a vital condition for the further expansion of the country." "The Turkish War . . . and in particular the Northern War . . . against the Swedes in support of the nation, monumental victories were celebrated all around, at sea and on land. . . . Russia controlled the extremely crucial Baltic seacoast."

  Katherine II Alexeevna (1729--1796): "Russian Empress." "Strengthened the system of serfdom in every way possible." "Under K. II successful wars were waged against Turkey . . . and Sweden; the division of Poland took place, . . . according to which the Ukranian and Byelorussian lands passed to Russia. The Crimea was annexed to the Russian empire, . . . joined under the auspices of Georgia."

  Alexander I (1777--1825): "Russian Emperor." Waged war with France, Sweden, Turkey and Persia." "Under A. I Georgia, Finland, and Bessarabia were annexed to Russia."

  Alexander II (1818--1881): "Russian Emperor." "Confirmed advocate of serfdom," was forced to conduct the emancipation of the serfs in 1861. "During the reign of A. II, the territory of the Russian empire increased due to the annexation of numerous territories of Central Asia and the Far East."

   Stalin (21 December  1879 -- 5 March 1953): "Loyal pupil and brother-in-arms of V. I. Lenin, great successor of his immortal deeds, leader and teacher of the Communist party of the Soviet Union, the Soviet people and the workers of all countries." "In the postwar period fundamental changes took place in international relations. A number of European and Asian countries turned away from capitalism and fortified the foundation of popular democracy as the people took power into their own hands. The end of 1949 ushered in an event of worldwide historical significance -- the formation of the People's Republic of China. Relations between the Soviet Union and other countries with a people's democracy were founded on the basis of fair treaties, relations of friendship, mutual assistance and cooperation."

I will discuss the characteristics of the political leaders that succeeded Stalin and their policies of expansion later.

The expansion of the Russian empire was not consistent, of course, in the sense that situations did arise when Russia was obligated to sacrifice certain territories. These sacrifices were as a rule conditioned by Russia's defeat in various wars (for instance, the loss of a part of Bessarabia after defeat in the Crimean War), the result of political and economic difficulties, and the expediency of selling certain territories (as was the case with Alaska under Alexander II). Usually these sacrifices were only temporary, that is, these territories were quickly returned, often with interest. Thus, Bessarabia was returned to the same Alexander II who gave it away after defeat in the Crimean War. A number of the empire's Western territories, given away by Lenin and quickly regained under Stalin, deserve special attention here.

In this connection, the role of Lenin in the development of the Russian empire and the position of the empire under Lenin after the October Revolution should be observed carefully. The statements that I make below are purely subjective and speculative. My primary goal here is to encourage the reader to reflect on several peculiarities of this period.

It is interesting to recall who, in the period before the October Revolution, made the loudest noise about Russia being a prison for the people and who declared that these people must be freed from Russia. It was the same communists, chief among them Lenin, who after the successful Revolution fought harder than anyone for the preservation of imperial unity, now referring to it as socialist cooperation, as only a unified population could more quickly attain that shining future. Why do separate peoples who already have ties with Russia, they reasoned, need to secede from this most progressive system and establish their own governments when, sooner or later, in accordance with Marxist doctrine, they willl all be living under communism?[34]

Wasn't it because of this endeavor to maintain the empire that the Bolshevik leaders, mainly Trotsky and Lenin, wound up using the tsarist military staff in order to establish the Red Army and win the Civil War? And isn't it these same circumstances that explain the prevailing role tsarist officers played in the development of the Red Army in later years? And wasn't it chiefly these same military men that Stalin liquidated during the great purges of 1937? And wasn't it primarily the survivors among these military men that Stalin freed from the labor camps when the war with Germany began? Wasn't it, then, former tsarist officers who played a decisive role in the Soviet Army's victory over Hitler? Wasn't it these former tsarist generals and other officers who refused to cooperate with Hitler during the war with Russia?

Which of the formerly imperial territories that Lenin gave back after the Revolution again became independent nations (albeit for a short period of time)? The answer: only a few Western territories: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland. The case of Poland is especially relevant here, because Poland had a long common border with Germany, which at that time experienced a strong revolutionary movement.[35]

It seems ironic that Trotsky, the most outspoken and consistent proponent of the idea of permanent revolution, was opposed to the attack on Warsaw in 1920, averring the inadequacy of Russia's resources, both material and human. According to Trotsky, the chief supporter of that campaign was Lenin. It seems strange that Lenin, who usually followed Trotsky's advice, especially in military matters, took the opposite stance. But let us assume that in that period Lenin was even more radically minded than Trotsky, and wanted to join forces with German revolutionaries by achieving a quick victory over Poland.

The Warsaw episode was a failure for the Red Army. "The outcome of the Polish war," wrote Trotsky, "proved to be a decisive factor in the subsequent development of Russia. The Riga Peace Treaty with Poland cut us off from Germany, and strongly impacted on the fate of Soviets in Germany."

If Lenin were genuinely interested in preserving Poland as part of his new empire, he would have shown his renowned willpower to commit everything to the defeat of Pilsudski,  and his customary intolerance, to severely punish any underling who would dare undermine his plans. Even if the defeat were to be acknowledged and a peace treaty signed, it could have been done in such a way as to quickly reposition the Red Army forces and try to subdue Poland again.

In the event, something altogether different happened.

Retreat from Poland, the pullout of the Red Army from Poland, is usually explained by the following argument, a rather strange one for the communists: "the army was cut off from its reserves."

We know that there was another equally weighty cause of the failure in Poland: the South Western Army, in whose command Stalin, as a Central Committee representative, played a leading role, ignored the repeated orders of the High Command and failed to cover the flank of the Tukhachevsky's army advancing to Warsaw.  Instead, Stalin, pursuing his own ambitious goals, demanded that the South Western Army move into Lvov. If Lenin had been determined to bring the Red Army closer to Germany, he would have raked Stalin over the coals for insubordination. In fact, he did nothing of the sort. As I recall from my readings on the subject, Lenin just made some sardonic remark, and let the whole issue go at that. Possibly, among Lenin's disciples, Stalin understood him better than all the rest, including Trotsky.

But if we assume that Lenin was not really interested in supporting the revolutionary movements in Western Europe in general and in Germany in particular, the whole Polish episode would look very different indeed.

The suspicion arises that perhaps it was convenient for Lenin to give up these territories in order to create a buffer zone between the U.S.S.R. and the developed Western-European nations that border on them. This suspicion actually has some basis if we assume that Lenin, having tasted the fruits of what it was like to be the champion of the world's proletariat, (having officially become the leader of the Third Communist International in 1919), strove more than anything to retain his own hegemony as the leader of the world's proletariat. Lenin, then, should have been very wary of the revolutionary situation in the developed Western-European nations. He expressed this fear candidly enough in his book Left-Wing Communism: An Infant Disorder, written in April and May of 1920. Lenin had very serious reasons for his fears. The people of Western Europe had experienced the destruction brought about by the monstrous First World War. And it was precisely the communists, not the socialists, who had denounced this war. Also, the victorious Revolution in Russia declared, as one of its first slogans, "PEACE." Victorious revolutions in these countries might push backward, unindustrialized Russia off to the side, in accordance with  Marxist theory. Having established a buffer zone, Lenin temporarily relieved himself of the burden of being obligated to assist the proletariat of Western-European countries in his efforts to establish socialist political systems. It is a different matter that in the 1930s, the buffer zone was transformed into a "sanitary cordon" for the purpose of discouraging the penetration of the communist bacillus from Russia to Western Europe.

As we know, Stalin not only retrieved territories given back by Lenin (with the exception of a large portion of Finland, which was exchanged for the Finlandization of the country), but he  increased them.

The speculative observations that I have made regarding Lenin's relationship to the empire allows one to understand more clearly the conflict that arose among the Soviet communists soon after the Revolution about the future of the Russian empire. The rift  became particularly noticeable immediately after Lenin's death, and it even seems that Lenin himself could not arrive at a final solution, or more specifically, could not arrive at an open solution to this issue. Disagreement divided into the following two conceptions: The first says that humanity's salvation will come through Russia, that is, through Russia's guidance of the international communist movement. Everything that is beneficial for Russia is beneficial for for the worldwide communist movement. This conception is called "the victory of socialism in one country." This view was held by Stalin, Bukharin, Rykov, and others. The second conception holds that world communism will come through international revolution, and if it is necessary that Russia burn in the flames of worldwide revolution in the name of victory, then let it be so. Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev were adherents of this philosophy.

The first conception, which completely coincided with Russia's historical tradition, prevailed. For many years it predetermined the development of the Russian empire under the Bolsheviks. Russian patriots, the evrazijtsy in particular, judged correctly that the Bolsheviks' communist slogans were not as important as was maintaining and expanding the empire. In actuality, it turns out that they were right in the sense that in the end, particularly beginning with Brezhnev's administration, the communist ideology lost its importance.

Thus, throughout Russia's entire history, leaders of various caliber (the great ones, the outstanding ones, the unsurpassable ones, and even the Teacher of the Peoples and Proletarians of All the World) invariably fortified the empire, although the leaders' motives have very seriously changed. It is precisely for an understanding of Gorbachev's policies that it is important for us to understand the invariance of the tradition of strengthening the empire, rather than become too caught up in the motives that guided previous leaders.

 Declared motives for the maintenance and expansion of the empire have been modified by everything from egoistical Russian interests (such as Russia's need to find access to the ocean, particularly ports that are navigable in winter), to the fulfillment of well-meaning missions to assist brother Slavs, to the overall salvation of humanity.

 I do not mean to imply that the fortification of the Russian empire always took place with the same degree of intensity and was constantly accompanied by a strict regimen always leading to tyranny. During Russia's history, and even in recent Soviet history, there have been various periods that differed significantly in the rate of imperial expansion and in the corresponding political atmosphere of the country.

 

 Stalinist and Post-Stalinist Imperial Policy

 

I will compare two periods in the history of the Russian empire under Soviet power in order to demonstrate which significant distinctions in the country's development fall under the category of maintaining the empire and its authoritarian system (not to be confused with a dictatorial or a tyrannical regime)

It is necessary to note that early Russian expansionist policy did not aspire to world domination: Russia aspired to be accepted as a full member in the circle of European nations. Of the many ideologies Russia had an ideology that aspired to Russia's domination over the whole world, believing that Orthodoxy can also be read as "the Slavs are correct" [In Russian the word orthodoxy  is made up of the words pravo, 'correct' and slavia, 'believing'; slavia  is also the root of the word Slav.--Trans.], that Russia, the only major bearer of Orthodoxy, must rescue the Western world from spiritual desolation, and that "Russia is the third Rome and a fourth one there will not be." However, it was not entirely the ideology that set the tone of Russian imperial policy.

The situation changed markedly after the victory of the October Revolution in 1917. The triumph of the Revolution, whose ideology was internationalist and required expansion over the entire world, was a refracted one that, as I have noted above in discussing Leninist-Stalinist ambitions, assigned primary importance in Soviet foreign policy to the global interests of world domination.

I believe that Lenin belonged to the class of leaders who would give their last breath to support the construction of world communism. However, as far as Stalin is concerned, such a statement is more debatable. Having become the leader of a vast empire that had emerged relatively rapidly -- in less than twenty years, such was its power and capability for expansion -- Stalin may have had the desire to become emperor of the world simply in order to expand his own power. Whether or not this was the case, the empire became powerful enough so that toward the middle of the 1950s, Stalin could seriously begin to hope for a new world war with the expectation of bringing closer his secret dream of becoming a world dictator. (It was apparently not a coincidence that Stalin was not enamored with Charlie Chaplin after seeing his film Dictator which ridicules a man's strivings to become ruler of the world.)

Such a statement is, of course, very controversial;  however, it is well-founded. Mainly, in the beginning of the 1950s, Stalin had a huge army experienced in modern methods of warfare, and an industrial complex that could supply this army with modern weapons. The army's size was significantly larger that the armies of the United States and England; France, Germany, and Italy were defeated countries and their military potential was low. Also, the United States' main strength was in its possession of atomic weapons and the means for delivering them over large distances. Stalin had the bomb by 1948 and in August of 1953, (literally a few months after his death), the hydrogen bomb was successfully tested in the U.S.S.R. True, Stalin did not have the means to deliver this lethal weapon to the den of his chief enemy, the United States. But he did have hostages: if it became necessary, he could use this weapon on the United States' allies in Western Europe. The main method was rockets: the first Soviet satellite was successfully launched 4 October 1957. Thus, Stalin had the opportunity to use his advantage in conventional weapons to paralyze the use of atomic weapons. If we also consider the strength of the communist parties in Western Europe, China's triumph, the weakness of Japan and India, and the complete helplessness of the countries on the African continent, then Stalin had a good chance of expanding the empire at least to three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa; and maybe even very soon, thanks to the power he had achieved,  to the Americas.

In this connection, it is interesting to take a look at ideology during the last years of Stalin's reign. In my opinion, it completely corresponds with the assumptions about preparations for a third world war whose purpose was to turn Russia into a worldwide empire, its dominion over the whole world led by Stalin. In this respect, more candid comments were made by G. M. Malenkov, the secretary of the Central Committee, who presented the Current Report of the Central Committee at the 19th Party Congress in October 1952:

It is impossible not to consider the facts of the past. These facts demonstrate that as a result of the First World War, Russia fell away from a system of capitalism, and as a result of the Second World War numerous countries in Europe and Asia also turned from capitalism. There is every reason to believe that a third world war would bring about the collapse of the global capitalist system [prolonged applause].

These are, so to speak, the perspectives and consequences of a war should it be imposed on the people by the war-mongers, the aggressors.

Stalin also participated in this session with a short but expressive speech, in which he appealed to Western communists to seize power in their countries:

The banner of bourgeoisie-democratic freedom has been thrown overboard. I think that it has fallen to you, the representatives of communist and democratic parties, to take up this banner and carry it forward if you wish to gather around yourselves the majority of the people. There is no one else to take it up [thunderous applause]. . . .

The banner of national independence and national sovereignty has been thrown overboard. There is no doubt that it is up to you, the representatives of communist and democratic parties, to raise this banner and to carry it forward if you want to become the leading force of nations. There is no one else to take it up [thunderous applause].

After Stalin's death, the foreign policy of the new administration changed markedly, and its leaders returned to their own circles: to the old Russian aspiration to become a world power, even to become a superpower, but not to the aspiration to supremacy over the entire world.[36]

The new leaders' return to an old Russian policy could be seen not only within the country, as cutbacks in defense expenditures were initiated, but in foreign policy as well: in the summer of 1953 the war in Korea was halted and relations with Yugoslavia began to normalize,[37] in 1955 Soviet troops pulled out of Austria, and in the same years the U.S.S.R. made a bold foreign policy move when it announced that it had no territorial claims against Turkey. All of these actions were accompanied by a shift in the conception of mutual relations between the U.S.S.R. and Western countries. Instead of the earlier notion that a third world war would bring victory to the communists, the new administration adopted the Western point of view that, in the event of a third world war, there would be no victor. In Soviet terminology, this new policy was called peaceful coexistence among countries with different sociopolitical systems.  

It is curious to note that the new Soviet administration announced its new focus in foreign affairs rather quickly, literally a month and a half after Stalin's death. This was demonstrated in the unprecedented publication in  Pravda, on 25 April 1953 of the complete text of President Eisenhower's address to the American Society of Newspaper Publishers of 16 April 1953. Even the following passage was not cut from the text:

We know that the death of Josef Stalin marks the end of an era. During the course of his uncommon thirty-year reign, the Soviet empire expanded and now stretches from the Baltic Sea to the Sea of Japan, having established its supremacy over 800 million people.

The Soviet system created by Stalin and his predecessors was engendered by World War I. It endured World War II, demonstrating persistence and often striking courage. It has survived to see the threat of a third world war.

Now a new administration has come to power in the Soviet Union. Its ties to the past however strong they may be cannot bind it completely. Its future depends to a significant degree on the administration itself.

As far as I can remember, at least during the course of the past forty years, the complete text of an address by a Western leader (given outside the territory of the U.S.S.R.) has never been published. And what's more, on the day President Eisenhower's address was published, the entire first page of Pravda was dedicated to a commentary on the text of the address. As is apparent from the passages from the commentary cited below, the Soviet administration, trying to save face, guided public opinion to believe that it was accepting many of President Eisenhower's suggestions as a result not of shifts in their own policy but primarily as a result of a change in the United States' foreign policy.

We do not intend to participate in a discussion with the president on his rather strange statement about the end of a particular era in Soviet policy. But we cannot help expressing some surprise over his conclusion that the government of the U.S.S.R. should dispense with continuity in its foreign policy, the success of which has been proven by the entire course of international development.

If one associates the beginning or the end of an era with the appearance of new faces at the head of the administration, we can with much justification speak of the end of an era in U.S. policy in connection with the Eisenhower administration's accession to power. But for some reason, the new president himself unreservedly defends the policies of his predecessor, whom in his time, particularly during the election campaign, he often criticized and not without reason.

Numerous gestures of good will, which according to Eisenhower should attest to the new Soviet administration's striving for peace, were quickly carried out. I have in mind the halt of the war in Korea and the withdrawal of occupying forces from Austria.

Of course it can be said that the change in the pace of the Russian empire's expansion is a secondary matter, that the main issue is the Soviet Union's goal of world supremacy as stated in the communist ideology. However, it seems to me that this is not the case.

I have already addressed the issue of the communist ideology. Now, in reference to the pace of the empire's expansion, I would like to propose the following analogy from the sphere of physics. We know that the transformation of a substance from one form into another, for example from a plasma into a gas, from a gas into a liquid, from a liquid into a solid, is a result of change of the speed of motion of the molecules of which the substance is composed. But it turns out that change in speed brings about so called phase transitions, which correspond to the changes indicated in the composition of the substance. We know from a practical point of view just how important the differentiation of these phases is, as for each of them it is necessary to utilize an appropriate technology: that which is suitable for the processing of liquid is not appropriate for the processing of a solid body.

If we use this analogy in order to observe the issue of imperial tradition in Russia, it can be said that the transformation from a policy of domination to a policy of world leadership was a phasal transformation. This can be seen not only in foreign policy, in relations with Western countries, but also within the empire and inside the U.S.S.R. in particular. These changes are associated with the name Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev.

During his administration, Khrushchev conducted the humanitarian action of politically rehabilitating more than twenty million people, although many of them posthumously (here and later I will be referring to Roy Medvedev's book Khrushchev, [Benson: Chalidze Publ.,1986]); he debunked Stalin, one of the cruelest tyrants in history; he freed the population from the Stalinist terror, providing politically inert people with the opportunity "to die in their own beds" (I say this without any kind of irony, since one of the distinctive features of tyranny is people's real fear that they will have no control over their own chances to "die in one's own bed").

Khrushchev took "parcels" (the system Stalin introduced of untaxable second and third salaries) away from the elite and changed the Stalinist law that forbade workers to leave their place of employment.

Khrushchev concentrated on significantly improving the Soviet people's standard of living, alleviating the hunger problem inherited by many regions from the Stalin years, and he was not afraid to purchase grain from abroad.

Khrushchev, overcoming the opposition of the military, carried out a number of measures directed at cutbacks in the size of the army, from approximately 6 million people at the end of Stalin's life, to 2.4 million in the middle of 1961 (pp. 183--84), and he made cuts in the production of large, above-water vessels.

In addition, Khrushchev did more than a little to injure the Soviet economy. The Councils of National Economy, which he created in 1957, were not at all successful from an economic point of view, but they were useful from the standpoint of bolstering Khrushchev's personal power: these councils were under the jurisdiction of the Regional Committees of the Party, where Khrushchev had considerable support. The inculcation of corn everywhere, the struggle with grassland agriculture, the huge investment in virgin lands, the attempt to outdo America in the per capita production of meat and dairy products  and other "artistry" brought huge losses to the country's economy.

 Khrushchev maintained and expanded the empire using the method of reward and punishment. Under Khrushchev, the rights of the individual republics were significantly broadened and the policy of  Russian domination was markedly decreased; this was particularly noticeable in that the phraseology about the Russian "big brother" disappeared from Soviet propaganda almost completely. Similar relaxations also occurred in the relations with countries in the third circle of the empire. According to Medvedev (although in my opinion he exaggerates a bit, to put it lightly), under Khrushchev "the degree of freedom that the socialist countries had in resolving their own domestic and foreign issues grew significantly, and these countries were now able to participate in the international arena not as satellites, but as allies of the U.S.S.R." (p. 106).

In the meantime, in October of 1955 the Warsaw Pact was formed, and in the same year (1956) that Stalin was denounced (after his unmasking), Khrushchev brutally squelched the Hungarian revolution and then clandestinely assassinated its leaders. Khrushchev sharply increased financing for new types of weapons: nuclear missiles and atomic submarines.

Khrushchev's main contribution to the Russian empire was that he created  a new, fourth circle of the empire. Russia had traditionally expanded its domain along its borders; even Russia's having acquired land in North America does not contradict this statement.

Stalin mainly conquered territories having a border with the U.S.S.R., with the exception of Yugoslavia and Spain. Perhaps the reason Stalin so quickly disencumbered himself of Spain was the difficulty of ruling this distant country in case the communists succeeded.

Khrushchev was the first Russian "tsar" to begin a constant policy of converting Russia into an overseas empire. Russia had always had the desire to be an overseas empire, but could not afford it during the period when England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Portugal divided much of the rest of the world between themselves. Russia's emphasis was on a land-by-land army; Russia did not have a navy comparable to the other empires of Europe.

In the 1950s, the world situation was radically different. On the one hand, the Soviet Union had become a highly developed industrial society with a large fleet and a long-distance air force and missiles. On the other hand, after the dissolution of the major colonial empires, only one nation, the United States, could oppose the Soviet challenge. Under these conditions, the Soviet leaders decided to embark on a new stage in the development of the empire: conversion to an overseas empire. Incursions into Egypt, Indonesia, and Cuba in the 1950s represented the first steps in creating a Soviet overseas empire.

The Soviet leaders looked in the Third World for countries where the movement for independence had succeeded, but had ended in authoritarianism (such cases have been frequent ). The leader of such a movement has usually been anti-West, because the movement stemmed from the spirit of anticolonialism. The Soviet Union called these leaders brother, and were very friendly to them. Such a leader is a national hero. He can increase his prestige by increasing his people's standard of living;  however, this demands considerable time and is not compatible with dictatorship. The most effective way for such a leader to increase his prestige is through military expansion. The Soviet Union is ready to help him with weapons, advisers, and so on. Then, the climax:  the leader begins to implement his aggressive agenda; however, his enemies might be powerful and supported by the West, so the aggressor faces possible defeat. The Soviet Union is afraid to interfere directly; the leader changes from a friend of the Soviet Union to an enemy. This leader's resultant hostility toward the Soviet Union can last a short time, or a long time.  This three-stage process describes the relations between the Soviet Union and autocratic political regimes in the Third World (such as Egypt, Indonesia, Cuba, etc.) over the last thirty years.

It should be noted that economic aid by the Soviet Union to Third World countries plays a role that is a secondary to military aid. It only partially helps to develop the economy and the culture of these countries; the Soviet industrial projects are usually of low quality. However, the leaders of these countries regard this help from the point of view of increasing their own prestige; this means that the leader' s interest lies in grandiose economic projects that can involve him, and thus immortalize his name. The economic efficiency of these projects is secondary. The fate of such projects is well known (the Aswan Dam project in Egypt is a typical example).

Thus, Khrushchev's policies were extremely contradictory. From one point of view, there was a rejection of the policy aiming for world domination and a proclamation of the policy of being a world leader within the circle of other world leaders. This was accompanied by endeavors to increase the U.S.S.R.'s economic development,  including consideration of the population's needs. Simultaneously, the population was stimulated as the insane terror of Stalinist times was removed (the rehabilitation of hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, a marked decrease in the number of prisoners in labor camps, etc.). On the other hand, these stirrings did not mark a halt in the growth of the empire or in the buildup of its military might; they simply marked a significant decrease in the pace of its growth compared to the Stalinist period. It is essential to remember that during this phase, not only were expenditures on new types of weapons, particularly nuclear missiles and atomic submarines, not scaled down, they were increased.

These measures had their effect, and for a time, they increased the nation's potential. However, the political structure of the Soviet system and its methods of authoritarian rule were preserved in their entirety, defense expenditures gradually began to increase again, the exhaustion of the country's resources continued, and people gradually became used to this new life-style; a certain degree of political toughening on the part of the regime from the mid-1960s on led to many of the people becoming even more cynical. In the end, all of this predestined the drop in the nation's potential and the systemic stagnation of the late 1970's. Also, during this period of Khrushchev's reforms, a particular group of people developed who were anxious about the fate of their country. They embodied all the contradictions of the Khrushchev era, and they are now the inspiration behind the restructuring of Soviet society.

In subsequent years, Soviet leadership pursued its imperial policy. Even at a time of detente when Brezhnev was in power, the empire was held together by rather cruel means (the strangling of Czechoslovakia in 1968), and it even expanded (the invasion of Angola in the 1960s). Brezhnev's rule from this point of view culminated in the Russian invasion of Afghanistan at the end of 1979.

Gorbachev took over the country at a time when its size makes it difficult to sustain, much less expand, the empire. In the next chapter, I want to consider some of the problems encountered by Gorbachev along this path, first and foremost being the the country's militaristic orientation, a factor largely responsible for its exhaustion and the current crisis.

 

 

 

 

 

Notes and References

 

 

 

 

Notes and References

 


5

The Military Imperial Orientation of Soviet Society

 

In the past, the creative energies of the entire Soviet society went into the conduct of an aggressive foreign policy and the continual accumulation of military power. The signs of a pervasive militarization lay ready at hand anywhere in the U.S.S.R.: propaganda about military events, compulsory military service, and so on.

Only recently, after Gorbachev came to power, has this policy been opened up for public discussion, and certain official statements have been made about a shift from an offensive to a defensive strategy in Soviet military doctrine. A serious debate was launched on the issue of a voluntary professional armed forces. The war in Afghanistan has been criticized, albeit halfheartedly. Only time will reveal the true significance of these initiatives.

 In this chapter I would like to concentrate on certain economic aspects of Soviet militarization. I will present some methodological observations on this issue, deliberately avoiding any entanglement with statistics, since the latter require a separate, complex inquiry. I only want to note in passing that the U.S.S.R. obviously does not publish statistics on this topic. When Western economists travel to the U.S.S.R. in order to research an issue never before researched in the U.S.S.R., one has to listen to Professor Vladimir Treml of Duke University in order to appreciate how hungrily Soviet colleagues pounce upon what has been declared "top secret information."

 To be sure, there have been some minor exceptions lately: statements about the cost of the Afghan war, Gorbachev's pronouncement concerning direct Soviet military expenditures at the Congress of People's Deputies, and deputy Nikolaj Shmelev's remarks at the same forum on Soviet help to the Caribbean countries.[38]

  The question of the cost of the empire is an extremely interesting topic for Western Sovietologists. The RAND corporation have recently published research on this issue[39]. Interesting calculations regarding direct Soviet military expenditures were done by Igor I. Birman.[40]

The structure of expenditures on the maintenance of the empire is multifaceted. A significant amount is extended to the countries in the fourth circle of the empire, Cuba in particular. Economic relations with the third circle of the empire are rather complicated: there is very contradictory data concerning the economic exchanges between the U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe, and which side benefits from these exchanges. Whatever the case, it is obvious that the the U.S.S.R. derives the greatest benefit from the Eastern European countries by imposing a huge military burden on them, forcing them to share the costs of imperial expansionism.

Huge as the U.S.S.R.'s expenditures on the maintenance of the imperial periphery are, the lion's share of the empire's costs lies in Soviet economy's military orientation.

The economy that has been created in the Soviet Union is a military economy. This is not an easy point to prove, if only because one needs a good deal of documentary evidence related to Soviet military expenditures. I will, however, provide my own definition of military economy, which I know to be somewhat different from the conventional one.

  Let us first take two extreme situations. On the one hand, there is a peaceful tribe of shepherds, isolated in hard-to-reach mountains. The notion of peace economy fully applies to this tribe, with its war expenditures being equal to zero. The other extreme is a country in a state of deadly conflict with its enemy - as was, for example, the situation of the U.S.S.R. at the time of the war with Nazi Germany. In this case the nation can be said to operate under a war economy: practically all expenditures, from the food for the workers to the production of tanks, are war related. Between these two extremes there is a wide spectrum of different degrees of militarization.

The Soviet economy was organized in a manner that rendered it prepared for war and, ultimately, an offensive war. The goal was clear enough and everything else was subordinate to it. A system emerged which drew up plans for the nation's development and administrative methods and oversaw the realization of these plans.

 Such is the functional nature of the Soviet economy.

If we now look structurally at Soviet military expenditures, they turn out to be all the country's expenditures minus the production costs of consumer goods and services, which would be cut back in the event of a war. To develop this point further, let us divide Soviet military expenditures into three parts: direct, conjugated and indirect expenditures.

The category of direct expenditures includes direct outlays for arms production, construction of military installations, and payments to military personnel. Apparently, this part of military expenditures is reflected in the official Soviet statistics under the heading of the "defense budget." The statistics, however, conceal direct defense expenditures for the construction of new arms factories, and most importantly huge outlays for scientific research and design work not directly under the auspices of the Ministry of Defense.

 Conjugated military expenditures are the additional costs of peacetime production called for by the need to sustain a militarized economy. For example, from the military point of view it is necessary to give priority to tractors whose production can be easily converted into the production of tanks. These tractors should have tracks, a lot of power, and need not last very long. For many years the production of tractors with tracks predominated, even though it is generally more efficient to use tractors on wheels if only because they do less damage to the soil.

 By indirect expenditures I understand the costs associated with the nation's general militaristic orientation, that is, with the policy of maintaining an economic potential for the satisfaction of defense needs. The military-economic potential includes such items as steel, oil, coal, steel cutting equipment, all kinds of transportation equipment and facilities, etc. In this case, the objective of steel production, for instance, is a greater output of the same. These expenditures are extremely difficult to calculate but they make up a huge part of the defense burden.

From the standpoint of the process, the Soviet militarized economy faces the task of finding reasonable adjustments to peacetime production. The adjustments consist mainly in using the available capacities in a manner that minimizes the costs of their possible rapid conversion to military production. The need to produce consumer goods in a militarized economy is dictated by at least two reasons: on the one hand, it is important that these means be utilized, if only for the workers to gain some experience, and, on the other, it is essential to provide the population with consumer goods in order to stimulate their interest in work. I reiterate that this is nothing more than an adjustment of a military economy to peacetime needs.

Thus, in the U.S.S.R. we are dealing with a rather entrenched system - one which has it own particular logic - of a military economy during peacetime. Of course, in managing this sort of integrated economic system the usual difficulties arise, and certain economic and political issues must be resolved. Problem-solving, however, often takes a rather perverse form.

From the standpoint of genesis, the Soviet militarized economy has, from the onset of industrialization in the 1930s, been perpetuating the traditions of Russia's economic development, which also exhibited a very strong military bias.

There is another possible classification of Soviet military expenditures based on the time factor. Thus, we can distinguish the tactical costs (direct expenditures on arms and personnel, minus a large sum for direct military research and developement) related to the first strike capability that can be used on a short notice, ultimately in the very first hours of hostilities, and the strategic costs ( indirect expenditures on building a military-economic potential, outlays for research and development without immediate military applications) incurred with a view to gaining a long-range military advantage. Between the tactical and the strategic costs there is a separate category of intermediate military costs that are largely equivalent to conjugated military expenditures, since a rapid convertibility of industry could become a telling consideration as early as the first few months of the war.

 

 The impact of militarization upon the structure of the Soviet economy

 

Dilemma in the Amount of Production of Different Consumer Goods.

In the U.S.S.R. a major role in the planning process is played by the division of industry into groups A and B. Group A involves the produc­tion of the means of production, i.e. capital goods. Theoretically, any intermediate com­modity and any unfinished consumer good are "means of production." Thus, all processes except for the final production of consumer goods should be regarded as produc­tion of means of production. Group B includes branches of light industry which produce consumer goods and inter­mediate products. This division of industry makes sense because of differences in the structure of production of various consumer goods.

 Among consumer goods Soviet planners favor those that employ the technologies easily convertible to the production of military goods. During a war the production of consumer goods decreases rapidly. Production capacities for consumer goods are differently convertible. The least convertible are the capaci­ties involved in the production of food and clothing (that is, nondurables), which are classified as Group B activities. The most convertible are the capacities for the production of durable goods such as cars and radio-electronics. These are classified as Group A activities.

One of the most surprising phenomenon in Soviet economic history is a relative (and absolute) decrease in the production of some non-durable goods. This was particularly true of the period of industrialization in the 1930s. Even now this process is in evidence, but not to the same extent as before. If one compares the production of consumer goods in Russia before and after the revolution, one will notice a tremendous growth in the production of durable consumer goods (there were practically none before the revolution) but a very slow growth in the production of important nondurable goods.

Although there was a shortage of important consumer goods such as food and clothing, the government has increased the production of durable goods such as television sets. In the beginning of the 1970s the ministry producing televisions insisted that their output be increased. This was truly an unprecedented case in the history of Soviet planning: an industrial mini­stry asking for a larger plan. In the Soviet Union managers lean over backwards "to get a smaller plan" since their well-being depends on their being able to fulfill it. The demand to increase the plan for the production of televisions was motivated by the desire to increase the capacity for the production of electronic goods - a capacity with ready military applications. Consumer demand for more television sets was weak for a simple reason: the price of a new set was approximately equal to two months' average salary. Families with sets did not rush to replace them. Another factor was the tradition of a country with a low standard of living where durable goods are typically not thrown away. Families without sets could not afford them any more then than they could before.

As it happened, the effort to increase production was largely suc­cessful. To make it successful the planners had to alter the typical methods of Soviet marketing and introduce some western practices. In effect a trade-in market was created. For every old television traded in (practically all old sets were discarded), a certain sum was paid which could be used only as a downpayment for a new television which could be bought on credit.

 

Dilemma in Production of Various Capital Goods.

Since the capacity to produce means of production is versatile to some extent, the U.S.S.R. first develops capacities that can be easily conver­tible to arms production. This process was clearly in evidence in the 1930s. The industrialization that was then undertaken was motivated by the decision to increase the produc­tion of those means of production which could be used to produce arms.

The "tractor-fertilizer" controversy is a case in point. Soviet agricultural scientists in the early 1930s proposed to increase the production of chemi­cal fertilizers. The technology of fertilizer production, however, is of little potential military value. On the other hand, in order to use mechanized technology in agricul­ture effectively, it is necessary to have qualified operators, fuel, repair services, etc. The U.S.S.R. had none. The capacities for the production of agricultural machines could, however, be easily converted to the production of tanks, grenade launchers, etc. As a result, during the period of pre-war industrialization, the output of mineral fertilizers was very low and the output of tractors was rather high. The results for Soviet agriculture are well known.

After Stalin, the situation gradually changed. The output of mineral fertilizer increased step by step with the output of tractors. An interesting question is how sensible these policies are for the development of Soviet agriculture in light of how much they are deter­mined by the preferences of the Soviet military-industrial complex.

 

Dilemma in the Production of Goods of Different Quality.

Soviet commodities usually do not meet world standards of quality. Such a situation has an effect on trade between the Soviet Union and Western countries.

One of the reasons for a comparatively low quality of Soviet non-military goods is the orientation of production toward the fast conversion to military goods. An increase in the quality of goods may require tech­nological processes not used at all in the production of arms. This is because higher quality usually requires (a) technological operations and equipment which are not necessary in the production of lower quality goods, (b) technological operations and equipment which largely can not be converted to the production of arms.

Thus in the production of many types of goods a dilemma arises: whether to increase quality and consequently sacrifice capacities that could be used in the production of arms. The dilemma is obvious in the production of tractors; it is also characteristic of the production of planes, automobiles, etc.

In designing a tractor, for example, the following question arise: How long should it last? During the war, tanks did not last more than a few months. In comparison a tractor may last for years. In order to produce long-lasting tractors, extra investments are required. For example, ball-bearings, an important part of tractors, may require extra technological operations for polishing, etc. These operations require considerable financing but, in the time of war, the resultant equipment is not necessary.

Another aspect of tractor quality is repair. The lifetime of tanks during war is very short; a large number of spare parts is not needed. For the production of tanks, the balance between mechanical and assembly workshops is dif­ferent from that for the production of tractors. It is not sur­prising, therefore, that in the Soviet Union there is a chronic shortage of spare parts for tractors. The factories that produce tractors manufacture only a small percentage of  spares which the number of tractors would dictate. Chronic shortages of spare parts result because, on the one hand, a relatively great need for spare parts follows from a low quality and short life of machine components and, on the other hand, because the structure of capacities at tractor factories is mainly determined by their conversion potential for the production of tanks.

Shortages of spare parts sent by the tractor factories have to be compensated for in other ways. An active "compensatory" role is played by provincial party bodies, which are responsible for the delivery of agricultural products. Party bodies force enterprises of different branches of industry in their region to produce spare parts for agricultural machines. The additional expenditures of produc­ing spare parts at non-specialized enterprises are very large. Sometimes, too, heads of collective farms illegally purchase spare parts from producers. The additional sources of supply notwithstanding, the amount of spare parts do not fill the need of the agricultural community. One result is that about 40 percent of tractors are not in working order: they are cannibalized. The situation feeds upon itself: by cannibalizing some tractors one can supply a certain number of working tractors with spare parts.

A few remarks are in order concerning Soviet metal-cutting equip­ment. Statistical abstracts do not publish data on the structure of metal cutting tools. However, these tools are designed mainly for rough processing. As a resullt, shortages of equipment for  precise processing often arise in machine building for light industry. For example, modern looms require equipment of a high degree of precision. The lack of this kind of equipment in Soviet textile machine factories stems from the fact that most of it goes to military aircraft factories, which end up producing the looms. 

Recall that in the Soviet Union a great deal of information is clas­sified, and bureaucracy is universal, so that to change the capacities of military factories to nonmilitary production is very complicated and therefore very often not done. Meanwhile, enterprises that produce many kinds of agricultural machinery and equipment for light industry can very successfully convert their capacities in wartime to producing large quantities of unsophisticated weapons, such as grenade launchers. And, hence, they are favored.

 

Dilemma in the Design of New Productis Versus the Development of New Technologies.

In the manufacture of weapons, (or any other products) it is useful to distinguish the design stage from the stage of technological implementation. The Soviet Union has reached a relatively high level of sophistication in the design of many kinds of weapons, but lags far behind the West in new weapons technologies. The disparity can be partly explained by the fact that while the types of weapons produced number in hundreds, different kinds of equipment and technological operations required by the production process can easily number in tens of thousands.

Soviet leaders prefer to spend their resources on the design of the most advanced types of weapons. The design process is organized pretty efficiently. For every specific new weapon system there is at least one leading design bureau. Each bureau has an experimental factory for the manufacture of  prototypes.  After a trial period, the prototype is sent to a main factory for line production. The factory and the bureau together develop several technological versions of the design for line production. Afterwards, the design and the technology are passed on to other factories for large-scale production.

To set up a similar system to design new technologies and equipment  requires a huge amount of resources.  In all branches of industry in the Soviet Union, especially in the military branches, one can see large technological research institutes. There is a separate set of bureaus for the design of general - purpose equipment. The specialized bureaus are concentrated directly in those branches of industry that use the equipment.

It is a poor experimental base that is the weak point of Soviet technological design process. Not only is the investment in such a base costly; Soviet experimental workshops and enterprises are not being fully utilized for their main purpose. Current production plans always enjoy a top priority in the Soviet Union, and the ministry (if the enterprise is experimental) or the factory (if it is an experimental workshop) demand from experimental enterprises (workshops) to concentrate first on meeting the current needs, not on research and development.

The quality gap in the design of weapon systems and technologies results in greater weapons costs, and hinders the development of advanced systems.

It is well known that the more specialized the equipment, the lower the unit costs of production because, for example, specialized equipment may be easier to automate. But specialized equipment could hinder improvements and changes in commodities because it is more expen­sive to alter than less specialized equipment.

Most Soviet batch production factories are ordered to use general-purpose equipment. This equipment makes it very easy to go from one product to another. Such flexi­bility, however, is associated with very great unit costs. At Soviet mass production enterprises, there is a large percentage of specialized equipment. This equipment restricts the possibilities of product improvement but enables the manufacturer to produce goods at a relatively low cost per unit.

The differences in truck and aircraft manufacturing illustrate these contrasting cases. In the main workshops of Soviet truck factories the proportion of automatic and semiautomatic equipment has reached approximately two-thirds of the total. This automatic equipment has a very low level of flexibility. It has, as a result, become a hindrance to the development of large-scale produc­tion of new types of trucks. The fact that truck designs in the Soviet Union are modified so infrequently is in part due to the fact that it is very expensive to change the equipment. It is noteworthy that stagnation in Soviet truck produc­tion technologies could become a major bottleneck if and when it is decided to convert truck factories to the production of military goods.

Aircraft manufacturing in the U.S.S.R. is another case altogether. There is no system to mass produce a counterpart nonmilitary product. In general, the manufacturing of aircraft is characterized by medium or short production runs.  The share of automatic equipment at aircraft factories is very small. General-purpose equipment predominates, and it is comparatively easy to shift to the produc­tion of new kinds of products. The existence of such equipment gives Soviet aircraft factories the ability to adapt very quickly to changes in aircraft design. Little specialization of equip­ment and low automation levels, however, result in high unit costs.

One way to solve this dilemma is to develop ag­gregate tools, that is, specialized equipment easily assembled from general-purpose building blocks. Tools can be assembled and disassembled to meet the factory's changing needs. Even though the Soviet Union was one of the pioneers in the field of producing aggregate tools, the introduction of these tools into industry has been relatively limited. The use of general-purpose equipment is still dominant today.

The general technological stagnation of Soviet enterprises fuels a great interest that Soviet leaders have in Western technology. Soviet leaders preferred to spend their money on new technologies for those branches of industry that histori­cally had to convert to the production of military goods and, more important, on technologies that can also be used directly in the production of weapons. For example, a factory for the production of heavy trucks on the Kama river (Kamaz), whose technology and equipment was bought mainly from the United States, produces trucks that can be directly used for military purposes. Moreover, the production technology  for many parts of these trucks can be used directly for the production of parts for weapons sys­tems, for example, tanks, mobile missile platforms, and so on.

 

Dilemma in the Implementation of Economically Effective Technologies.

Technologies can vary with respect to their vulnerability in the event of war. An economically more efficient technol­ogy could be more vulnerable in the military sense.

During the Stalin era, the railroad transport system primarily used steam engines. The railroad system was considered to be the most important transport system and was developed rapidly. Steam engines, in spite of their relatively low economic effectiveness, were a more effective type of locomotive in the military sense because they could run on many types of fuel. Diesel engines were considered more vulnerable: they can run only  on a special fuel. In addition, in the Stalin era it was thought that,  in case of war, oil resources should be saved for airplanes and tanks since they can not use any other fuel.  Engines using electricity were not con­venient for the military since one break in an electrical line would cripple a large part of a railway electric engines. Therefore, they were not widely used in Stalin's railroad transport system.

In the post-Stalin period, the structure of railway engines was radically changed in a very short time. Most of the locomotives now have diesel or electric engines. Though the steam engines are no longer in use, they are still being kept as a war reserve. Their number is currently much less than that of diesel and electric locomotives.

 

Dilemma in the Allocation of Industrial Installations.

The location of enterprises in the U.S.S.R. is determined to a large extent by the desire to secure military invulnerability.

From the military point of view, the question of locating enterprises in the U.S.S.R. centers around the problem of distributing the production between the western and eastern regions. It is argued that such a balance will make the supply of military goods relatively more secure in the event of war.

In  Soviet economic literature of the 1920s and 1930s, animated military discussions were carried out regarding the relative importance of economic goals. Unfortunately, many works written on then-current problems have been lost. (They were simply removed from libraries as works written by "enemies of the people.") The literature that remains, however, we can get the essence of the problem.

In comparing predictions presented in the 1920s and 1930s with what actually occurred, it is interesting to note the arguments by which economists of the 1930s justified themselves. Thus, for example, Berezov, argued that the development of the eastern regions would be advantageous even from an economic standpoint.

In spite of economic inefficiency, it was decided to develop the eastern regions for military reasons. World War II showed that these regions played a decisive role in securing the U.S.S.R.'s victory, and that the right decision had been made. A second question remains open: were large parallel investments in western regions wise? The simultaneity of these parallel investments determined the overwhelming pace of industrialization, with all its negative consequences.

During World War II, the U.S.S.R. lost a large part of its industrial base when the western regions were quickly occupied. Part of the equipment was evacuated to the east, but a great portion of the capital invested in western regions was lost. In spite of these losses, the Soviet Union not only won the war, but also emerged in a strengthened military posture. This suggests that parallel investments were unnecessary even from a military perspective.

The questions of the 1930s remain alive today: the debates concerning the construction of the Bratsk hydroelectric station, the Baikal-Amur railroad, and similar projects in eastern regions, or over huge investments in agriculture in the central regions mentioned in the current five year plan, always touch upon the issues left unresolved in the controversies of the 1930s.

The factors taken into account in allocating industrial installations may not make any sense if we ignore military considerations.

Toward the end of the 1940s, the important question of whether to organize the mining of lignite in the western U.S.S.R. (in the Smolensk area, for example,) was raised. It was not economically effecient to mine low-calorie coal in difficult condi­tions. Miners' wages are among the highest in the U.S.S.R.. In political terms, the party regarded miners as a group most devoted to Soviet power. The lack of developed industry in this area and the corresponding structure of the population were thought to have aided the enemy's advance through the country.

A military orientation has permeated the fabric of the Soviet economy. It exerts a strong impact upon the ability of the economic system to improve itself; the introduction of an effective market mechanism must be practically ruled out with such a strong militaristic bias in the economy. The point is that a monopoly of producers as well as of consumers (monopsony) precludes an effective market mechanism. The government in a peace-oriented economy in peace time has a monopoly upon the consumption only of the final products required by the army: tanks, airplanes, military uniforms, and so on. The volume of consumption of these goods in peacetime is not sufficient to strongly deform the market. In a militarized economy, even in peacetime, the government must oversee the convertibility of production capacities and the creation of economic potential based upon such primary products as steel, oil, coal, electricity, metal-cutting equipment. These considerations force the government to intervene not only in the acquisition of final products needed by the army but also in planning the output of capital goods. Otherwise, resources might be diverted from increasing the output of the required capital goods to increasing the output of consumer goods. In other words, we can say that the level of control over the output of capital goods represents a criterion by which we can recognize a military-oriented economy.

 

Ways to Change the Country's Military Orientation

 

My remarks here have been brief and necessarily somewhat anec­dotal. The foreign policy of the Soviet Union is in many ways free of the sort of domestic constraints present in a more democratic society. It exercises a strong and often dominant influence on economic policy with regard to such things as output levels, choice of technology, and location of industry, as well as in overtly allocating large amount of resources to military needs. In so doing it imposes enormous costs on the Soviet economy in general. For this reason, Soviet foreign policy should be considered a principal determinant of Soviet economic affairs and a principal cause of economic problems. In my opinion, the Soviet Union will be unable to implement any significant changes in the country or the economy without a major reexamination of its military doctrine, without rejecting militarized economy.

Nevertheless, Soviet economists involved in restructuring the economy have underestimated the crippling impact of the military factor upon economic performance. Even as progressive a Soviet economist as Nikolaj Shmelev, in his celebrated article "Payments and Debts" minimizes the significance of this factor when he addresses the issue of defense expenditure. Here is what he writes on this topic:

It is essential to consider clearly that the reason for our difficulties lies not only and really not so much in the heavy burden of defense expenditure and in the extremely costly scale of our nation's global responsibility. Given reasonable expenditures, even remaining material and human resources may be entirely sufficient for the maintenance of a balanced economy oriented toward technological progress for the satisfaction of the traditionally modest needs of our population.[41]

In order to halt economic stagnation and to guide the economic process in the direction of stable, long-term development, the first thing Gorbachev may have to do is to renounce the primary goal of the nation's development: the marked growth of military power in the name of strengthening and expanding the empire.

From here, the Soviet Union's most pressing problem is determining what strategy the nation's leader will adopt. If the problem is presented in its extreme forms, the following two alternative courses  arise.

The first is the combinatorial course in which the goal of the nation's development is to continue to view the strengthening of the military might of the empire as the nation's top priority. Possible courses of action include (1) decreasing defense expenditure for a few years in order to use resources, which would then become available, to update capital, improve the quality of production, and increase the population's wellbeing; (2) changing the methods by which the economic system functions and stimulate the population; (3) decreasing foreign expenditures on the maintenance of the empire.

The second course is the positional course, in which the purpose of the nation's development is to create the potential for peacetime development. Possible courses of action include (1) rejecting the empire; 2) orienting the structure of production and power to peacetime production;  (3) gradually creating a pluralistic, democratic, open system, with separation of powers; (4) maintaining the level of defense so that it is adequate should the country be threatened with attack.

The second course is obvious enough, but it runs counter to the aspirations of the current leadership. My hypothesis, that Gorbachev aims at strengthening an autocratic imperial regime using a flexible approach, points to the first course as a more realistic one.

It seems to me that the revitalization of the economy, if it is even possible, will prove to be totally insufficient to overcome the difficulties that have arisen in the U.S.S.R.; these difficulties are already too serious, because they have been engendered not by some sort of coincidental fluctuations of temporary significance, but, as I have said earlier, by the country's military imperial orientation.

Gorbachev, as the leader of a large imperial superpower, understands that one of the most important economic moves for the stimulation of the economy is cutbacks in exorbitant military spending. The time is right for this, since no one in the immediate future seems likely to attack the Soviet Union: Western countries could but do not desire to, while China would like to but is presently unable. Furthermore, during the 1930s when production was not very high, even under more temperate domestic policies than Stalin's, it would have been difficult to reconcile the accumulation of great military power with peaceful needs; nowadays, when the scale of production in the U.S.S.R. has attained a considerable level, it is possible under a temperate domestic policy to direct a significant portion of resources towards peacetime needs while still leaving sufficient resources for direct defense purposes. It goes without saying that the means saved from such a reorientation of resources could also be utilized for the growth of military power.

I believe that Gorbachev can take decisive action to cut back military production, to help the exhausted economy, but . . . . This "but" embodies the crux of the matter. Not only will expenditures on research on the latest types of armaments (which can be called nonconventional weapons) not be reduced, they may even be increased. Expenditures on the production of the usual (that is, conventional ) weapons, may be reduced, as may expenditures on those types of nuclear missiles that have already become traditional (which can be called semi-conventional weapons). Under this type of system the size of the army may decrease noticeably, particularly the size of construction battalions and traditional types of troops. It is exatly what was done by Khrushchev in 1957-1959 (See chapter 3 pp.117-118).

Many supporters of the military will of course protest these cutbacks. But perhaps they could be told: "We are implementing all these reductions in order to boost the strength of the country in the future. Do not be afraid that we are changing the Russian empire's great tradition of strength and expansion. Since we are preserving the authoritarian state, this is a guarantee that we will need military strength. Only the introduction of a pluralistic democratic mechanism with a separation of powers and an open society can pose a threat to our goals. Only under such a system can military efforts be limited, only under such a system can the country grow and develop while not resorting to expansionism. And you must also understand that without reducing defense expenditures, without reorienting a significant proportion of resources to peacetime needs today, we will not have a sophisticated industrial base to fulfil military requirements tomorrow. A certain amount of resources deferred from defense expenditure, of course, will have to be used for the production of consumer goods, otherwise we will not be able to stimulate the people to work well." Then we can expect that a certain number of military men will waver, and finally agree with the arguments of their senior colleagues, all the more so as in return for their support they will be rewarded personally with promotions and the prospects of a speedy succession to positions of power in a healthy party.

Thus, I believe that the development policy proposed by Gorbachev is primarily a political breather, directed toward the preservation and strengthening of the empire. A respite in the arms race is sure to prove extremely important for the nation's overall development, particularly if the rejection of expansionism and a bent toward demilitarization is accomplished in an irreversible manner (while still taking the real threat of attack, say on the part of China, into consideration, of course). But in order to change the traditional policy of Russia's development, considerable effort is required, effort that may prove to be beyond Gorbachev's strength, and beyond the strength of any of the country's leaders. Moreover, it is not even known whether there exists a solution to this problem, if we accurately weigh such a factor as the population's political culture.

 

Notes and References


 

6                        

 The Structure of the Second Imperial Circle and

How It Might Change

 

Diversity of Cultures in the Soviet Union: The Hierarchy of Regions

 

The governance of large societies, of necessity, entails the concept of decomposition. The basis upon which a societal system is subdivided into a hierarchy of blocks may be either regional or ministerial. A hierarchy may be established on the basis of any one of the following three principles: (1) managerial strengths, that is, the ability to solve various problems that may arise in the region; (2) technological principles, that is, either the strength of internal linkages in the region, which can help to reduce the burden on the higher level of the hierarchy, or the homogeneity of the technological processes, which helps to concentrate professionals in a certain region to as great an extent as possible; or (3) social factors, that is, the national and cultural integrity of the inhabitants of the region. In the Soviet Union, all of these criteria have been taken into account in the formation of regions. At the top level of the hierarchy-particularly for the formation of economic regions-the second criterion was used. The formation of union republics and autonomous republics was based upon the third criterion. Provinces and districts were organized on the basis of the first criterion.

The highest level of the regional hierarchy may be formed on the basis of the type of ideology accepted by the majority of inhabitants. Ideology means that system of values by which the majority organizes its behavior. The classification of ideologies utilized in this analysis is based on the classification of per­sonalities proposed by Russell Ackoff and Fred Emery.[42] This classifica­tion is based upon an analysis of the personality of an individual in terms of the two relations that can exist between him and his environment: (1) the extent to which his environment affects him (environmental responsiveness), and (2) the extent to which he affects his environment (environmental affec­tiveness). From the standpoint of an individual's response to his environ­ment, one can distinguish between an objectivert (a man responsive to his environment), and a subjectivert (one who is not responsive to his environment). From the standpoint of an individual affecting his environment, we can distinguish an externalizer (a man who is inclined to change his environment in accordance with his needs), and an internalizer (one who, by changing his internal world, adapts himself to the environment).  By classifying per­sonalities in these two terms (that is, his individual's response to the environment and his affect on the environment), four personality types can now be distinguished. Two of them accordingly represent extreme cases, that is, the completely introverted personality type, a subjective internalizer, or the com­pletely extraverted personality type, an objective externalizer. Two other personality types represent intermediary cases: the objective internalizer and the subjective externalizer.

My personal opinion is that in the Soviet Union three ideological types prevail: subjective externalistic, objective externalistic, and objective internalistic. The subjective internalistic ideology is also to be found in the Soviet Union, but it does not prevail among any of its national groups. The Baltic people could be characterized typically as subjective externalizers, Slavic people as objective externalizers, and Moslems as objective inter­nalizers. In conformity with this classification of the Soviet population one can distin­guish regions: first, objective externalistic, encompassing the present-day territory of the Russian Federation, the Ukraine, White Russia and the Caucasus (with the exception of Azerbaijan); second, subjective exter­nalistic, that is, the Baltic Republics; third, objective internalistic including the territory of Central Asia and Azerbaijan.

In Soviet literature there is no such classification of the regions, but its acceptance enables us to immediately detect differences in the development processes in different parts of the Soviet Union. In the first place, there is a noticeable difference in rates of population growth among various national groups (see Table 6.1).


Without stopping to elaborate the relationship between ideology and rate of population growth, let me draw attention to certain of the consequences of this relationship. The rapid growth of the Moslem population in the Soviet Union compared to other groups has first and foremost raised the issue of how to maintain a high rate of growth for Soviet industry. It is known that Moslems traditionally have not been technological innovators. The industrial­ization of the Moslem regions of the U.S.S.R. was accomplished primarily by Slavic peoples. Even at the present time the Slavic population plans an essential role in these regions. Table 6.2 illustrates the role of the non-Moslem population in Moslem regions[43].

 

                                

Slavic people predominate among the nonnative population of Moslem regions and are actively involved in industry, occupying a disproportionately high proportion of the skilled jobs. This fact must be taken into account in the analysis of the Soviet experience of industrialization in Moslem regions, particularly given the fact that large ter­ritories with Moslem populations are now entering the industrializa­tion stage and attempting to imitate the Soviet experience.

It should also be noted that the rapid growth of the Moslem population is creating problems for the Soviet Army. Moslems traditionally are less prepared to use modern weapons, and furthermore, are ill equipped to serve in the colder regions of Russia. (Let me remind the reader that in accordance with the pre-Revolutionary Russian tradition, individuals from one region are drafted into the army and sent to serve in other regions. This system was designed to enhance the political stability of a multinational empire, and its usage continues in the present-day Soviet Union.[44])

Demographic changes in the Baltic regions raised other difficulties for further industrialization. The Baltic republics are a potential source of workers, who are necessary for industrialization to proceed, but the growth rate of the Baltic population is low.

The continuous growth of the nonnative population in these areas threatens the Baltic peoples with the loss of even that limited degree of political autonomy that they now possess. The sad experience of the disbanding of the Karelo-Finnish Republic in the 1950s because it lacked a sufficient percentage of native population serves as a constant reminder of what the Soviet leaders can do to union republics. In light of this, the Baltic peoples view with trepidation the further industrialization of their region.  As is apparent from table 6.3, the proportion of native people in these repub­lics is already rather low. I cannot vouch for the validity of the following information, but it is nevertheless interesting in that it illustrates Baltic people's attitude to the industrialization of their region by the introduction of more Slavic peoples. My Estonian colleagues told me that, at the end of the 1960s, the leaders of Estonia, during discussions with the central government concerning the future industrialization of this region, said that Germans would be sent to Estonia. The Germans under discussion were those who lived in the Altai region and in Central Asia; whose number totaled 1,800,000. As is well known, these Germans live in the regions to which they were deported from the German Volga Autonomous Republic soon after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union.

The next level in the hierarchy of regions is formed on the basis of the nationality of the native population and on the basis of whether the region has a border with a foreign country.  It is on this level of the hierarchy that the union republics are formed. There are fifteen such republics, which form the main regions in the Soviet political and economic system. Economic relations between the central government and the regions represented by the union republics are institutionalized to a large degree; that is, the regions have central committees of the Communist party (with the exception of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic [RSFSR]), councils of ministers, and so forth. However, the recognition of the union republic as the major regional sub­division results in great planning problems. Some republics (such as the RSFSR) are much too large and others (such as the Baltic republics) are much too small. For example, the population of RSFSR in 1987 was 281,690,000 and of Estonia, 1,556,000. The result is that for planning purposes the territory of the Soviet Union is subdivided into so-called economic regions. These regions are formed on the basis of their internal economic linkages or the homogeneity of the conditions under which they function. There are eighteen of these economic regions in the Soviet Union including, among others, the Central non black earth region, Volga, Ural, Western Siberia, Baltic, Caucasus, and Central Asia. However, these economic regions are not supported by managerial institutions. Khrushchev made an attempt to support these regions by the introduction of several institutions, such as  planning institutions. However, his ideas were never brought to complete fruition.

The existence of union republics also creates severe political problems, which are linked with the growth of nationalism and these republics' aspirations to become independent. The growth of nationalism is aggravated by the development of an  intelligentsia among the various national groups, persons who are better able to express the feelings of their people and to find a way to fight for their independence. This process is accelerated by Russian chauvinism, which is opposed by the native peoples of the union republics. In the political struggle with Russian chauvinists the spokesmen for other nationali­ties argue that their states were established earlier than the Russian state. For example, in 1947, the 800th anniversary of the founding of Moscow was celebrated as symbolic of the establishment of a centralized Russian state.[45] Before Stalin had been laid in his final resting place, the Georgian Union Republic had begun to celebrate the 1,500th anniversary of its capital Tbilisi.[46] Several years later, in 1968, Armenia commemorated the 2,750 anniversary of the establishment of its capital Erevan,[47] and at the beginning of the 1970s Uzbekis­tan celebrated the 2500th anniversary of the city of Samarkand.[48]

 

 The Presentation of a Region in the Mathematical Models of the Soviet Economy: Political Aspects

 

An economic system may be described by a variety of methods, including a scalar optimization model and an equilibrium model.[49] The equilibrium model emphasizes the existence of a set of participants, each of whom aspires to increase the value of his objective function on the basis of the principle of Pareto optimality. One could say that the participants in an economic system are its regions. Let us denote a region as r, such that r=1,...,R. The objective function of the region fr(x)r could be given on the set of the final goods that are consumed by the participants: the vector of these products is denoted by xr/=xr{xr1,...,xrn}. Every region has its own limits on the production of final goods. Let us denote the vector of these goods by yr=yr{yr1,...,yrn}     and the set of the constraints by Qr where yrÎQr. One could assume that each participant realizes his output by using prices. Let us denote the vector of prices p where p={p1,...,pn}. The revenue of the region, pyr is a budgeting constraint on the purchase of commodities of the sum pxr, pxr£pyr. Naturally the total consumption of goods in the system x=Sxr   could not exceed their production y=Syr , where x£y.

This model also assumes the usage of a very important principle of the distribu­tion of income among the participants. In accordance with this principle, the income of a region belongs to that region. Meanwhile because the region is a part of a larger economic system which has expenses for the production of public goods or for the redistribution of income to achieve certain social goals, it is necessary to redistribute the income in the system. If Lr is the coefficient of the redistribution of income of a certain region, then the final income of a region will be Lr(pyr). The coefficient Lr could be more or less than 1. It is only important that   S Lr(pyr)= Spyr. The problem of redistribution of income in a system is external to the economic system and is determined by the social organization of the society.

As a whole, the model of equilibrium which also involves redistribution of income could be expressed in the following manner (the state could be one of the participants of the system):

Model 1:  fr(x)r extr.

              yrÎQr     

              pxr£ Lr(pyr)    S Lr(pyr)= Spyr

              x£ y                  

Another method of describing an economic system is based upon the introduction of a global criterion of optimality for the whole system. This criterion could be formed on the basis of the same set of final goods as the objective functions of the regions. Let us denote this criterion F(x). The set of constraints could be noted by Q/Q»Qr. As a whole this model would be ex­pressed in the following manner

Model 2:  F (x)Þ extr.      

             xÎQ.

These two methods of describing an economic system under certain condi­tions are convertible, as has been demonstrated by Abraham Bergson[50] and Gerard Debreu[51]. The model of equilibrium under very natural conditions when px=pyr (that is, when the income of the participants is completely used; this assumes that the objective function fr(x)r is not saturated for at least one product) can be converted into a scalar optimiza­tion model of the following form:

Model 3:  F(x) = F [( fr(x)rmr] Þ extr.

             yÎQ      

             x£ y

where mr corresponds to the weight of the participants. This weight is determined by the income that the participant receives and the nature of his objective function.

Traditionally, the models of equilibrium and scalar optimization were used to describe different economic systems, distinguishable on the basis of the class of mechanisms that they use in their perfor­mance. The equilibrium model has been used to describe market economies while, the description of planning systems, models of scalar optimization have been used. Enrico Barone, Fred Taylor, Oscar Lange, and Abba Lerner undermined this approach to the description of a planning system by demonstrating that prices and money could be used in both market and planning systems. The discovery that it was possible to convert one method of describing of an economic system into another finally es­tablished the independence of a method of describing of a system from the class of mechanisms used in the performance of the system. This provides a basis for the separation of the method of describing a system from ideological considerations. Meanwhile, the above mentioned method of describing an economic system became very important for the planning system itself. The point is that by using the scalar optimization method to describe a system without making clear the weights of the participants (see Model 2), it is possible to disguise the problem of the distribution of income among the participants, in this particular case, among the union republics. Practically speaking, in describing an economic system by means of Model 3, we also assume a certain method of distributing income. This means that we assume that the weights of all participants are equal. This equality in turn assumes as a rule that all of the resources of the participants belong to the whole system.[52] When the economic system is described by an equi­librium model (Model 1), the extent to which a region's income   belongs to the region becomes clear. From this standpoint, two different points of view have emerged among the Soviet economists who are involved in mathematical modelling of the Soviet economic system. The pioneers in the area of the application of mathematical methods to optimize the allocation of resources[53] used only the models of scalar optimization, both ideologically and heuristically since they regarded these as the most appropriate for a planning system.  Since that time, certain Soviet scholars have continued to develop this point of view. On the basis of my experience in communication with Soviet economists, I would argue that, at the present time, the typical political orientation of these scholars lies in the direction of supporting autocratic regimes, and that they are less liberal people.[54] At the same time, in the Soviet Union other scholars developed a description of the Soviet economy, based upon equilibrium models, certain of which emphasized the spatial aspect of the problem, designating as a region either a large part of the Soviet territory (west or east)[55] or a union republic[56] In unofficial discussions among Soviet economists, attention was paid to the fact that territorial distribution may be based upon the assump­tion that resources located in a given region belong to all of the given population or society. This assumption is less painfully received by the population of a country with a  homogeneous national attitude (China, for example) or where diverse nationalities have intermingled (the United States, for example).

In countries where there are many nationalities, and they are territorially isolated, the redistribution of income among the separate territories invokes quite a painful reaction from the population of regions that have better resources. One reason for the appearance of a centrifugal force in multinational empires is that the population of a given territory feels that it is being exploited by the center, which takes for itself the income from the resources of that area.

What sort of relations should there be between the center and such national structures? In principal, the unification of nations may be based upon several of a variety of principles, such as those upon which are built such diverse organizational types as the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Common Market, and the Council for Mutual Economic Aid; here one finds a rich spectrum of relations.

I will note that relations between the U.S.S.R. and East European, socialistic countries within the limits of COMECON are based upon the principle that each country receives an adequate income from the resources at its disposal. A very real question then arises: Why should the relations between the socialis­tic republics within the boundaries of the U.S.S.R. be built on the principle of redistribution of income between the republics?

In any case, the using the  equilibrium models  which involves participants represented by the union republics, could result in the growth of nationalism in those areas. In the model it is made explicit that the government with­draws a part of their income from the union republics, and this creates the impression that Russians exploit other union republics. The paradox of the situation lies in the fact that the standard of living in the union republics (with the possible exception of White Russia) is noticeably higher than in Russia (RSFSR).[57] Moreover, the standard of living of the native peoples in many union republics, particularly in the Caucasus and Central Asia, is higher than that of the Russians who live in these areas. This is a result of the fact that the major sources of high income for the native peoples are the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables, and the participa­tion in the secondary economy. As was mentioned previously, the greater part of the Russian population in the union republics is involved in heavy industry and works in large enterprises.

The fact that the Russian population has a lower standard of living than other nationalities is a source of some concern to the nation's leaders. The central government in recent years has taken steps to help equalize the living conditions of people in RSFSR and in other union republics. On the one hand, the Soviet government announced programs for the non-black earth zones of central Russia.[58] On the other hand, in recent years the central government has taken energetic steps to control the level of living conditions in several union republics, most noticeably in Georgia, by introducing severe restric­tions on the exportation of fruit and strict penalties for participation in the secondary economy.

Certainly the higher level of living conditions in the union republics compared to the RSFSR does not preclude the possibility that were these republics to be independent from Russia, the people in these republics would attain an even higher standard of living. However, the problem of the extent to which Russia exploits other union republics is quite complicated and outside of the scope of this presentation. Without minimizing the importance of the economic factor in the nationalist movements in the union republics, I would argue that the centrifugal forces are to a great extent motivated by the desire of the union republics to be separated for political reasons; freedom is an independent good. Of course, certain social groups base their desire for independence on other considerations. For example, some leaders of the Central Asian republics could complain that they can be leaders of Soviet delegations only to second and third-ranked countries, whereas the leaders of a neighboring country would be greeted in the main Western countries as the heads of independent countries.

 

 
The Double Hierarchy of the Soviet Governing System

 

The Soviet system is governed by two hierarchies: ministerial and party. Union ministries manage those factories that have significance for the entire Soviet Union. These ministries are subordinate to the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union and are located in Moscow. If an enterprise is sig­nificant only for a union republic, it will be managed by a ministry that is located in that republic and subordinated to the republic Council of Ministers. There are, in addition, ministries that are located in Moscow and are regarded as union-republic ministries. This means that in certain cases the republic ministers are subordinate both to the ministers in Moscow and to their local Council of Ministers. The interrelations between the ministries located in Moscow and those in the union-republics are chaotic. Art, rather than science, reigns here. There are now laws regulating the relations between the union ministers and the republics. In the legal codes, very little is said about relations between the republic Council of Ministers and the correspond­ing union-republic ministers. As a result, for example, out of twenty-eight Ukrainian union-republic ministries in 1971, nineteen had individual charters, while the rest operated without any legal document. Due to the absence of sufficiently developed legislation, relations between the union-republic ministries and the republic Council of Ministers are unequal. In general, it appears that the powers of U.S.S.R. union-republic ministries are greater in heavy industry than in light industry[59].

Naturally, to order the relations between the center and a republic is not an easy task. On the one hand, conflicting technological and territorial factors must both be taken into account in the attempt to solve managerial problems; however, on the other hand, there exists the problem of the appropriate division of political power between the center and a republic, and the socioeconomic relations between the two.

In order to understand the mechanism of economic control in the U.S.S.R., and, in particular, the structure of relations between the republics and the central power, one must take into account the role of the party apparatus. Bearing in mind that factories that have significance for the Soviet Union as a whole are not subordinated to the ministries located in the union republics, one can imagine very complicated problems arising in the interrelations between all of the enterprises located in any one region. If only the ministerial hierarchy existed, the problems of interrelations between the enterprises subordinate to different ministries but in the same region could be solved through the apparatus of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R. But at this point the second hierarchy, which is territorially organized, enters the picture with an impact on all participants. It is well known that the party plays a great role in the Soviet Union, regulating virtually all aspects of the society's life.

In certain respects, the party duplicates the activities of the ministries (for example, managerial ap­pointments). However, it needs to be pointed out that in the absence of certain economic bodies, the party apparatus fulfills very important economic functions including the coordination of enterprises located in a given region and not subordinate to different mini­stries. The interrelationships between the arty apparatus, the managers of enterprises, and the ministries are quite complicated. Party organs are responsible for the fulfillment of plans by all enterprises within a given republic regardless of their departmental subordination. In this sense, the party organizations are allies with the enterprises found in their territory in their desire to receive a smaller plan from the center. Along with the party organs, responsibility for the fulfillment of the republic plan, the party obliges the enterprises to produce commodities that they would not produce under other circumstances, but that are needed for other undertakings of the republic. Specifically, this relates to the industrial enterprises, which are obliged by the local party organ to produce spare parts for agriculture, to send workers, and drivers to the harvest, and so on. These jobs are not taken into account in the plans for industrial enterprises. Because the managers, even of a union factory located in the territory of the republic, are both appointed and fired with the assent of local party organs, they naturally prefer not to argue with the party, and they agree to fulfill the party requirements. Moreover, a manager must often appeal to the party apparatus for help in solving current problems. For example, let us assume that a worker who is valuable to his factory commits a crime and is arrested by the police. If the crime is minor (for example, stealing from the factory, hooliganism, etc.) the manager may ask the party leader of the region to order the police or the judge to releases the worker.[60]

Thus, we see fundamen­tal inconsistencies in the Soviet mechanism for the management of a region. Naturally, the leaders of the country are informed about these inconsistencies, but they look at the improvement of management mechanisms primarily from the standpoint of their political interest in strengthening their power. The validity of this statement becomes apparent if we keep in mind that, on the one hand, many factors affect the political stability of the leaders of an autocratic society in which all aspects of the life of the society are determined by the center, and that, on the other hand, there are absolute limits to the amount of time that the leaders can devote to the solution of problems. They cannot work systematically more than sixteen hours per day. Thus, one can conclude that reorganization of the management system in the Soviet Union is, first of all, directed toward the strengthening of the leaders' power.  In certain cases, the reorganiza­tion of work may be to the economic advantage of the system, in others to its detriment. Let me illustrate this with an example of the reorganization of the managerial system concerning the regions.

In September 1953 Khrushchev was appointed first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). Within a few years he managed to appoint his people to the party apparatus, primarily at the level of provincial committee secretaries. Many of them were promised considerable career advancement in the event of the defeat of Khrushchev's opponents. The strength of Khrushchev's opponents lay in the economic organization. Khrushchev then proposed the creation of the regional economic councils: Sovnarkhozy. Through these councils, Khrushchev attempted to disperse his opponents and to deprive them of the old economic ministerial apparatus. Upon being appointed to the regional economic councils, not all of the executives from the old apparatus got good new jobs. Moreover, the supervision of the economic councils passed into the hands of the provincial (oblastnye) party apparatus. And as already been noted, Khrushchev had his people in the regional party apparatus.

The tremendously rapid reorganization of the ministries into Sovnarkhozy in 1957 brought many negative consequences, among them a sharp reduction in the quality of management, complications in the organization of the Sov­narkhozy, complications in the system of supply, and so on. For example, let us consider the case of the ball-bearing factories. These factories, more than fifteen of them, were subordinate to the Chief Department for Ball-Bearing Production of the Ministry of Automobile and Tractor Industries.  The apparatus of the chief department was sufficiently qualified to elaborate a general policy for the technological development of these factories and to help them solve their current problems, particularly if the factory in question was new. The chief department coordinated with the buyers the specifications of the ball-bearings that were needed. After the ministry was disbanded, the ball-bearing factories were distributed among many Sovnarkhozy. Each Sovnarkhozy managed only one or two ball-bearing  factories and therefore was not able to maintain a sufficient number of qualified workers to provide the same services as the former chief department. Furthermore, the factories' rights to solve their own problems were not affected by the organization of the Sovnarkhozy; it should be obvious what kind of problems they experienced in the factories.

After Khrushchev became the de facto one-man ruler, combining the duties of first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and chairman of the Council of Ministers of the U.S.S.R., he began spending a considerable amount of time on foreign policy (including travel outside the country) and on resolving other general problems. He had to transfer a considerable amount of the routine party work  to Frol R. Kozlov, second secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The second secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU is a rather powerful figure. He decides many routine matters and, in practice, possesses enormous power. The secretaries of regional committees must turn to him for their daily needs and, hence, are largely dependent on him. As shown by Stalin, who actually performed the role of second secretary under Lenin, such a person can be the first claimant to the post of first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

I cannot guarantee the accuracy of what is stated below, but supposedly at a session of the Politburo in 1962, Frol R. Kozlov (with the support of Politburo Member Mikhail A. Suslov) demanded that Khrushchev should share power, that is, that he should cease holding the two leading posts; he hoped to win the post of first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The stormy Politburo session ended with Khrushchev's victory. Kozlov was removed from the party leadership and soon died of a stroke.

Meanwhile, it became clear to Khrushchev that the party apparatus lay largely outside his control. It would have been difficult to replace the many regional committee secretaries. At this point, Khrushchev carried out this well-known reorganization of the party apparatus and the regional economic councils. After dividing the regional party committees into industrial and agricultural branches, he reappointed the secretaries of the regional committees. But the main thing he achieved was that, while he essentially retained the officials from the old apparatus, he divided them and set them against each other. Thus, for example, what kind of friendship could there be between secretaries of the industrial and agricultural regional party committees, if only one of them could be the first to greet Cuba's leader, Fidel Castro, when he visited the region?

With regard to the regional economic councils, Khrushchev hastened to remove them from the power of the regional committees. The number of economic councils was sharply reduced from 105 to 45, and they became zonal. They were subordinated to the secretaries of regional committees only as organiza­tions situated in their territories.

The reorganization of the party apparatus and the system of management instituted by Khrushchev in 1962 did not help him to maintain his power. On the one hand, Khrushchev aspired to dictatorship, to independence from the party apparatus. Yet, on the other hand, he was charitable enough to his enemies to merely relieve them of their high positions, granting them instead either diplomatic posts abroad or retirement pensions. Under these conditions, the leaders of the Party apparatus were comparatively easily able to unite and dismiss Khrushchev.

The Soviet leaders who succeeded Khrushchev in 1964 soon returned to the old system of management by ministers and revived the old system of unified provincial committees of the Communist party. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this reorganization was the perceived need to concentrate power in the center in order to counteract centrifugal forces. (This is especially pertinent if we keep in mind that the new leadership was collective, that is. it had no dictator.) Very soon, however, Brezhnev also tried to increase his power by reorganizing the system of management. This reorganization of industry in the U.S.S.R., which was based on the introduction of associations (ob'edineniia ) is also, evidently, largely of a political nature.  I do not want to belittle the role of associations, which in principle may prove to be effective organizations of decentralized management, the serious suspicion remains that associations are also intended to destroy the old central economic apparatus and to subordinate the management of industry to the local party apparatus. It is enough to recall that the apparatus of ministerial chief departments (glavki), which the associations are meant to replace, includes approximately two-thirds of the apparatus of the ministries. We also know that the associations can be interlocked and distributed through the entire U.S.S.R. From what has been said, one can try to formulate a hypothesis about who among the country's collec­tive leadership finds this reorganization advantageous and who resolutely resists it.

But the fact that Brezhnev has been unable to introduce the associations into many branches of industry demonstrates that he probably had less political power than did his predecessors, who easily reorganized the system of management upon their succession to power. Gorbachev strives for a decentralized mechanism that eliminates, or at least greatly restricts, the Party's and ministries' managerial role. The political considerations behind Gorbachev's strategy have already been mentioned. I only want to note once again that, besides purely substantive reasons, Gorbachev is also driven by the desire to enhance his own power position, since his chosen course allows him to shift the blame for economic problems onto the local Soviets elected by the popular vote.

 

 
Alternative Solutions of the Imperial Problem

 

As we have seen, the Soviet control system rests on the principle of national administrative regions. On the one hand, this allows national cultures to develop; on the other, it fosters separatist centrifugal forces.

The growth of nationalism cannot fail to disturb the leaders of the U.S.S.R. who continue the old Russian policy of strengthening and expanding the empire. This process could be stopped by several methods. One method would be the elimination of the union republics. Such a move could be based upon the notion that a new nationality has appeared in the Soviet Union; regardless of their former nationality, all people could be referred to as the Soviet people. On the other hand, this would necessitate the reorganization of the system of management, so that the principle regions would be the previously discussed economic regions. These in turn would have to be provided with certain kinds of institutions, such as, Supreme Soviets, Councils of Ministers, and  Central Committees of the Communist Party. The pos­sibility of designating regions as the basic political units  of the Soviet Union was a subject of discussion in the 1920s, the idea having been proposed by Professor Aleksandrov. The possibility of eliminating the union republics and sub­stituting economic regions on the ideological basis of a united Soviet people was again a subject for very serious discussion in the middle of the 1970s during the preparation of the new Soviet constitution. However, as we now know, the traditional point of view prevailed: the Soviet Union is an empire headed by the Russian people.

With a sincerity unusual for his administration, Leonid Brezhnev spoke about this dilemma at the time the draft of the new Soviet constitution was being discussed.

Let me address the issue of those proposals which the Constitutional Commission regarded as essentially incorrect.

As is well known, a new community of people has emerged in the U.S.S.R.: The Soviet People. On this basis, several comrades,their number of course, is small came to an improper conclusion. They proposed the introduction into the constitution of the concept of a unified Soviet nation; either the liquidation of union and autonomous republics or a sharp reduction in the autonomy of the former, depriving them of their right to withdraw from the U.S.S.R. and of their right to external relations. In the same direction, there are proposals to eliminate the Nationalities' Council and to establish a one-chamber Supreme Soviet. In my opinion, the incorrectness of such proposals is obvious. The sociopolitical unity of the Soviet people in no way signifies the disappearance of national differences. Thanks to the consistent carrying out of Lenin's nationalities policies, we, in the process of building socialism, simultaneously, and for the first time in history, were able to solve successfully the nationalities' question. The friendship of the Soviet peoples is inviolable; in the process of the construction of communism they are steadily coming closer together to the mutual enrichment of their spiritual lives. But we would be setting out on a dangerous course if we were artificially to force that objective process of the rapprochement of nations. Lenin insistently warned against this, and we will not deviate from his precepts."[61]

 It was not by accident that the first line of the previous anthem was preserved in the text of the new national anthem of the Soviet Union, which was accepted at the same time as the new constitution: "Unbreakable union of freeform republics/Great Russia has welded forever to stand."

The available evidence indicates that Gorbachev is also disinclined to use the idea of a Soviet people to try and integrate the empire. He will either opt for a federation, with separate national regions enjoying much greater rights, or, should the centrifugal forces get out of hand, revert to a much more rigid system headed by the Great Russian people.

 

 


Notes and References


7

Russophilism

 

The current trepidations experienced by the Soviet empire and the future of the empire boil down to the problem of nationalism, both Russian and regional. This part of the book is devoted to russophilism, which is really the principal issue.

The prominent Soviet historian and publicist Alexander Yanov can rightfully be considered a pioneer in this area.  As early as 1968, when almost nobody else understood the impending danger of russophilism, Yanov opened the discussion on slavophilism with his article  "The Mystery of Slavophile Criticism," published in Literary Issues.[62]

  After tracing how the slavophile movement historically evolved from liberalism to chauvinism, Yanov also calls attention to the new slavophiles.

In his book on the Russian right-wing movement published in the late 1970s[63] and in particular in his new book on this topic[64], Yanov examines the ideological tenets of the russophiles in detail and from a long historical perspective. 

Some of Yanov's ideas are open to criticism:  in many ways I share the views of those who cannot accept his practical proposals concerning the conduct of Soviet-American relations and am of the opinion that Yanov oversimplifies the question of how the West should relate to Soviet readers in general and to liberal readers in particular.  However, in my opinion, these disagreements with Yanov should not be allowed to obscure the central theme of his work, his innovative approach to  understanding of danger of russophilism.  The very fact that in Western literature this question has not been given its due consideration makes it all the more fitting for us to pay particular attention to Yanov's works.[65]  I do not mean to imply by this that the russophiles will necessarily triumph,  but,  it seems, that to discount the role of the rus­sophiles, to dismiss them as an insignificant phenomenon, would be a dangerous oversight.

Local nationalisms, in my view, are the direct result and consequence of Russian nationalism and express the local aspirations to be independent from Russia.

And, finally, I will pay particular attention to the question of anti-Semitism insofar as it represents another very peculiar side of russophilism.  All forms of nationalism seek their antipodes.  In different countries various ethnic groups are singled out for this purpose, groups that are generally felt to be standing in the way of the development of the national spirit.  The russophiles by virtue of historical peculiarities have chosen the Jews. The Jewish problem in the U.S.S.R. is further aggravated by the fact that Soviet Jews lack any territorial base in the country (the same is true, though, for some other ethnic groups, for exampe, the Germans), but unlike these other territorially deprived nationalities, the Jews do (did in the past and  will probably in the future) have an important influence on the development of the country.

 

 Patriotism, Nationalism and Chauvinism

 

I have heard it said many times that nationalistic tenden­cies in Russia will be the salvation of the country. Just like other nations, the Russian nation has a right to its own self-identity and its own indigenous course of development. Moreover, insofar as it is in Russia's own self-interest to liberalize and to keep in step with the developed democratic powers, a renewed Russia, after throwing off the shackles of communist doctrine, will gradually adopt that course. And it is precisely those Russian nationalists who are true believers who will take the country down that path. Thus, in the Soviet political strategy, room is made for a combination of moderate Russian nationalism, liberalism, and a disposition towards peace.[66]

Before embarking upon this topic, I feel a few definitions are in order. Love toward one's nation ranges over a broad spectrum characterized by the following rough subdivisions. One extreme exhibits a radical phase which could be called cosmopolitan, that is, an individual regards himself as the citizen of the universe and refusies to acknowledge belonging to any one particular nationality. At the opposite pole is the chauvinistic band of the spectrum, this is, a person considers his nation as being not only superior to all others, but believes his nation must rule over all other peoples and people who violate the harmony of this arrangement must be expelled by whatever means, including extermination.

Between these two extremes there are at least three intermediate phases. Starting from the cosmopolitan pole, we can pinpoint the next group the internationalist group. An internationalist is a person who combines love for his own country with equal affection for other countries. The next group can be designated as patriotic.   Here, a person asserts, and proudly so, his attachment to a particular nation. But he believes that his people are no better and no worse than the others, merely different. The fact that other people belong to other nationalities and are proud of it is just as reasonable as his own pride in his group.

Next comes the nationalistic phase. Unlike a patriotic state of mind, a nationalist holds that the nation to which he belongs is the best one. Still, he feels no animosity toward other peoples and does to not wish to subordinate them.[67]

Nationalism of the last kind branches into two  subclasses. The first emphasizes the distinctness of a given group, its profound difference from other nations. This outlook is characteristic of Russian ruralists (pochvenniks). Their anti-Western sentiments are rooted in their belief that the Russian system of values, with its emphasis upon collectivism and spirituality  is completely opposite to Western values based upon individualism and mercantilism.

The other mode of nationalism is based on the idea of a particular nation evolving in the same way as many other developed nations but managing to achieve better results along the same path. This type of nationalism will be considered in greater detail when I discuss Academician Dmitrij Likhachov. At this point, I only want to note that this outlook is rather moderate and tends to gravitate strongly toward patriotism.

I have no doubts whatsoever that in the Soviet Union there is an appreciable number of such liberally inclined patriots and even moderate nationalists. Proceeding from the general view that the preservation and development of variety is essential to the development of any system, I am very sympathetic to the desire on the part of a given group to preserve its unique self-identity. (At the same time, considering the consequences that occur as a result of the division of the world along ethnic lines,  I can appreciate the merits of arguments in favor of doing away with nationalities and creating a single human nationality.)  However, the danger does not come directly from this kind of patriots and moderate nationalists. In a period of crisis for the empire, to the forefront come not the moderate national­ists, but their more radical brethren: Russian chauvinists.  Moreover, the nationalistic circles that, in principle, might align themselves with the liberals, to a significant degree become the allies of the chauvinists insofar as the chauvinists express the interests of the country that is very dear to the nationalists. The national­ists sometimes find it difficult to deal with the chauvinists' coarseness, staunchness, and lack of refinement, but they are attracted by the chauvinists' resolve to defend the greatness of the nation. This is precisely what happened with the Germans when Hitler came to power.

This discussion about attitude toward one's homeland is illustrated by my dispute with George Gibian, a professor at Cornell University. Our debate was initiated by my article "Will Glasnost Bring the Reactionaries to Power?."[68]

Professor Gibian kindly mentions that my article draws attention to dangerous tendencies in the U.S.S.R.'s era of glasnost. But his appreciation seems merely polite, for obviously he thinks that I have made some very essential errors, and he goes on to lodge objections that, if true, would nullify my article. In particular, he accuses me of failing to differentiate between various types of slavophiles. In addition, he holds that I "tar everybody with the same brush of anti-Semitic reac­tionism."

How shall I answer these allegations? I believe a scholar should not rush to accuse his opponents of making errors, but should try to under­stand their position and the assumptions under which that position might be correct. Only after this attempt has been made is it time to express disagreement with basic assumptions.

Let me, therefore, clarify the assumptions of my article, in order to see whether Gibian's criticisms hold up. Gibian is completely right in saying that, historically, Slavophiles have held many different opinions, and that I did not discuss these dif­ferences.  But the assumption of my article was that, in addition to being many faceted, the russophile movement is also in some way a single movement; and on that assumption, I sought to emphasize the aspects that make it a unity. Those aspects are the special status that russophiles accord Russia among nations;  and Orthodoxy among religions, and the championing of authoritarianism as the appropriate type of regime for Russia. Undoubtedly, the weight given to each aspect varies from one russophile to another.

Thus, I agree that the present Russian nationalists include different groups. As a matter of fact, I noted this in my article: "No doubt, an appreciable number of moderate national­ists do live in the Soviet Union, and do believe that Russia would benefit from political liberalism." But the Soviet Union lacks elections in which such beliefs can be transformed into power. Therefore, I concentrated my attention on the reactionary groups of nationalists.

I did so on the basis of two further assumptions: first, that the Soviet empire is (in Gorbachev's words) "on the eve of a crisis," and second, that in a period of crisis, moderate nationalists "tend to become allies of the chauvinists, attracted as they are by the latter's ideals and resolve." Looking at Russian nationalism not as a pollster but as a political scientist, I expressed fear that the fanaticism and sincerity of the chauvinists would overcome the resistance of their more moderate brethren. In a time of emergency, the moderate Russian nationalists might well end up following the reactionaries, even while expressing disgust at their fanaticism and immorality.

Such are the assumptions under which I posed the question whether glasnost might bring to power a reactionary regime. I remain convinced that it is not an idle question.

A second aspect of Gibian's criticism also merits a respon­se. He says I leave out "those in the Soviet Union who have spoken out for a generous conception of Russianness - who reject and militate against xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-Asian prejudice, and who stress the tolerant tradition of the Russian national heritage." He particularly cites Academician Dmitrij Likhachov as "the most prominent and vocal advocate of such Russian patriotism." Gibian calls my failure to mention Likha­chov's generous conceptions "a glaring error."

No doubt, Likhachov is dedicated to Russia, and he is doing great things to develop Russian culture, to bring together Russia and the West, to criticize Stalin's era (when he himself was in prison), and so forth. Nevertheless, I hope that Gibian has had the opportunity to read the long interview that Likhachov gave to the liberal journal Ogonyek[69] concerning the millennial anniversary of Russia's conversion to Christianity. Westerners and nonspecialists might find this interview innocuous enough. But to readers familiar with the Russian skill in making points by indirection, it is anything but "generous Russianism." Let me give some examples.

"To the extent that Christianity is international, it is a great religion," says Likhachov. "I do not want to mention religions belonging to one folk. There are several such re­ligions, but it is a great deficiency of these religions." This is someone who rejects anti-Semitism?

"The state simply cannot live with divided beliefs," Likhachov maintains. "This was a multinational state and that is why it required an international religion." This is an advocate of tolerance?

"Novgorod did nothing to unite Russia because it was a republic; the Metropolitan of the Russian world moved to Moscow [an autocracy] ,and Moscow became the symbol of the spiritual integration." This is an advocate of democratic rule?

Likhachov says that from the baptism of Russia came a "synthesis with the culture of the Byzantine empire, the most advanced country of that time." This "most advanced country" was then ruled over by Basil II, a ruler perhaps best noted for having put out the eyes of fifteen thousand prisoners of war.

In an article entitled "Russia," published after the interview, Academician Likhachov reiterates the theme of Russian superiority, but this time compared to world culture in general.

The Russian land created its own artistic styles during the ancient period of its evolution prior to the era of Peter's reforms. After Peter, Russian culture became part of the global development of art in the West constantly transforming artistic styles arising in the West and resounding in Russia. Resounding and how! In Russia every style assumed not only its peculiar but also its ultimate form. [My underline. A. K.][70]

For all these reasons, I would not count on Academician Likhachov to represent the forces of liberalism in a time of systemic crisis.

But let us go back to the main topic of the present section: to the history of Russian nationalism in the Soviet period. In the context of the present work, I feel that it is permissible to use the terms russophiles, nationalists, and chauvinists as synonyms. I understand that there is an essential dif­ference between these concepts, but with respect to those historical events that I will cite, the various aspects that define these three terms are tightly interwoven. Mean­while, when chauvinism can be singled out as such and when it is advisable to do so in the context of our discussion, I will make it a point to use the term chauvinists.

 

 Russian  Nationalism (Some Soviet History)

 

The opinion that the sharply expressed Russian nationalist tradition was interrupted by the October Revolution and resur­rected by Stalin only during the Second World War, and then used by him in the postwar period, has gained wide acceptance.

In my view, the nationalist tradition was never interrupted. Only its forms and its strength changed. Lenin preserved the empire, though he justified it with communist slogans.    Under Lenin's rule the concept of "the victory of communism in one country" as opposed to "permanent revolution" had already begun to take shape. Translated into laymen's terms, the first concept signified that world communism could be achieved only under Russia's leadership;  the second meant that, for the sake of the triumph of world communism, even Russia could be sacrificed. After Lenin's death the leading advocates of the first point of view were Russians, Bukharin, Rykov, Tomsky, and Uglanov;  Stalin, who joined their ranks was not a Russian, but at least was of the Russian Orthodox faith. The leading advocates of the second point of view were Jews: Trotsky (Bronstein), Zinoviev (Radomyslsky), and Kamenev (Rosenfeld). Of course, the first group prevailed. By 1927, the Politburo had been swept clean of Jews; only in 1930 did Stalin bring his protege Lazar M. Kaganovich into the Politburo.

On 12 December 1930 Stalin wrote a letter to the poet Dem'ian Bedny in which he accused him of "slandering and defiling the Russian proletariat," of "debunking the U.S.S.R.," and of portraying "laziness and the yearning to lie around on the stove" as "practically a national character trait of the Russian people in general," all at a time when "the workers of coun­tries throughout the world are applauding the Russian [the emphasis is Stalin's] working class, which they recognize as their leader." However, these were thoughts whose time had not yet come, and this letter was published for the first time in 1952 in a 13-volume collection of Stalin's writings[71].

But if at the beginning of the 1930s Stalin still had reservations about praising the great Russian people, by the middle of that decade he began praising them quite openly.

The first document known to me with respect to this is a 1934 letter entitled "On a Few Mistakes in Illuminating the History of the U.S.S.R." and signed by Stalin, Kirov, and Zhdanov. What was the point of this letter? Recall that the Marxist historical school of Mikhail Pokrovskij, with its slogan "The History of Russia without the Tsars," was dominant at this time.  This view did not suit Stalin. The image of the tsar had to be reintroduced.  Stalin, in fact, did reintroduce it. Here we see the glorification of Alexander Nevsky and Peter the Great, who were constantly portrayed and evaluated as victorious leaders.

It is curious to note which historians Stalin elevated at this time: Victor Tarle, Sergej Bakhrushin, Boris Grekov, and Mikhail Tikhomirov, that is, men who were neither Marxists nor party members. They were placed at the head of Soviet historical science in order to give a base to a return to traditional Russian ideology.

Soon afterward, in order to be done with his right-wing confederates once and for all, Stalin concocted the accusation against their leader, Bukharin, that he had slandered the Russian people and demeaned the role of the great Russian people. The height of that campaign was the declaration, in a lead article in Pravda dated 27 January 1936, that the Great Russian people had given the world Lomonosov, Lobachevsky, Popov, Pushkin, Chernyshevsky, Mendeleyev, and "such giants of humanity as Lenin and Stalin." Quite a brilliant stunt: to portray Bukharin, a Russian aris­tocrat by blood, as a slanderer of the Russian people, and Stalin, a Georgian, who spoke Russian with a very heavy accent, as the great son of the Russian nation![72]

Thus, Stalin began propagandizing the idea of the Great Russian nation even before the Second World War.

Nationalist propaganda came into full bloom after the war and was signaled by Stalin's toast to the Great Russian people at a dinner held on the occasion of the Victory Parade on 24 June  1945. This campaign of praising the Russian nation as an "older brother" was accompanied by an unabashed anti-Semitism campaign under the guise of a struggle against cosmopolitanism and against all sorts of Jewish plots, particular­ly that of the Jewish doctors.

Even though the nationalist propaganda was toned down after Stalin's death, its foundations were nonetheless intact. The nationalist tendencies continued to develop, particularly during the period of Brezhnev's administration.

Under Stalin these nationalistic principles were declared openly, and in this matter it was as though the entire apparatus was legally shifted into nationalistic activity;  in the years that followed, on the other hand, the nationalists had to search for new organizational forms of legal activity.  Such legal slogans and organizations were indeed found.[73]

In the Brezhnev period Russian nationalists hid behind the slogan "Preserve the Treasures of Russia's Past." What can one say? A concern for the treasures of Russian culture certainly deserves everyone's respect and appreciation. The fact that the bureaucratic system did not appropriate sufficient funds for the preservation of these treasures, and that as a result they fell into ruin, is not something dreamed up the Russian nationalists. The  question is, what was behind this campaign? Is it not that the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and CulturAl Treasures with its staff in a church on Kalininsky Prospect, had turned into one of the active nationalistic and anti-Semitic organizations?

When Andropov came to power, one of his first official acts was to streamline this organization. A lengthy article appeared in Izvestia analyzing the financial problems of the All Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Trea­sures. Several articles on Russian nationalism also appeared in Pravda.  Specifically, Pravda published a story by the renowned author of detective novels, Iulian Semyenov, in which, under the guise of a conversation between a Soviet intelligence officer and members of the Gestapo, nationalism and anti-Semitism are condemned.[74] There was also a humoresque, which, in a brilliantly witty style, poked fun at monuments to Russia's pseudo-heroes.[75] This is all testimony to Andropov's antinationalis­tic policies.

In saying this, I in no way wish to whitewash Andropov. His antinationalistic course was accompanied, first of all, by unabashed militaristic and anti-American propaganda, including such steps as the destruction of a Korean airliner. This is evidence once again of how opposite tendencies can be meshed together in a bizarre fashion, that is, how one can carry out a course of expansionism by declaring the unification of various nations into one multinational empire with a large and growing proportion of people who are not of the native nationality. However, this sort of decisive action on Andropov's part demonstrates that significant anti-russophile forces exist in the country even today.

However, all of Andropov's antinationalistic measures have not served in any serious way to diminish feelings of nationalism among the people.

 

Russian Nationalism in Its Present Stage

 

Outwardly, Gorbachev does not seem to encourage nationalism. However, it is under his rule that a campaign has begun from above to replace personnel, a campaign that Egor Ligachev, at that time the second secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, has called a policy of "the regional replacement of personnel." This means that in the republics the control of Russian personnel will be tightened and that advancement will be given first of all to those representa­tives of local nationalities who have studied and received training in Russian regions (or, at the very least in Slavic Regions).

Rather sharply expressed russophile tendencies have begun to receive greater coverage in the press. Especially zealous are such russophile journals as Molodaia Gvardia, Nash Sovremennik, and Moskva.   It seems that Novyj Mir assumed a peculiar nationalistic stand (but far from chauvinistic) geared toward creative intelligentsia, that is, toward presenting profound criticism of the existing socio-economic system and communist ideology, professing a religious orthodox Christian  renaissance, and so forth.

The battle against alcoholism is one of the main campaigns for "clearing the air" begun by Gorbachev.[76]  Without a doubt, drinking has become a serious impediment to Russia's further development. The russophiles did not fail to immediately take advantage of the situation in order to find the legal means with which to develop nationalistic propaganda. To this aim they use the new, mass-circulation journal Sobriety and Culture. The basic position taken by the journal is that there has been no tradition of alcohol consumption in Russia: this was invented by the enemies of the Russian people. In Russia there was a tradition of drinking tea! And the journal is full of praise for this particular beverage: it recommends various ways to brew it, it includes photographs of people dressed in traditional Russian clothing seated around a samovar, and so on.  To complete the nationalistic picture, the journal printed an article exposing a country in which the problems of alcoholism and drug abuse truly are growing. The reader might expect that this country would be, if not Sweden or Finland, then at the very least that bulwark of imperialism, the United States. But alas, in strict keeping with the nationalistic standard, a rising tide of alcoholism, as it turns out, is characteristic of Israel! In V. Demin's lengthy article on the upsurge of alcoholism and drug abuse in Israel entitled "The Logic of Violence-The Logic of Degradation," a theoretical basis is provided for this phenomenon.[77] It goes something like this: What can you expect from Zionists-Fascists-Imperialists who destroy innocent people? How else can they react to their evil deeds  than by increasing their consumption of alcohol and narcotics?

The position of major newspapers, especially the "first of the first" newspaper Pravda, is rather ambiguous. In this respect, an article in Pravda that stands out by virtue of its frankness is that of Oleg N. Trubachev, a corresponding member of the Soviet Academy of Sciences[78]. This article details quite openly and frankly, as is only proper during a period of glasnost, the "more than modest position of the Russians" and the "demeaning of the independent historical past of the Slavs" in the works of certain Western historians.  Without any semblance of verbal e­quivocation, Trubachev writes about the grandeur of the Russian language compared to the languages of the other nationalities that comprise the U.S.S.R. Finally, Trubachev's article contains a panegyric directed towards Aleksandr S. Pushkin's famous poem "To the Slanderers of Russia." This poem, which praises Russia's role as a hangman, was written by Pushkin in 1831 immediately after the suppression of the Polish uprising by Nicholas I.[79]

 On  21 August  1988, Pravda devoted an entire page to an article by Vera Tkachenko entitled "The Motherland Was Given to Us One Time Only, and to Our Death"; in the middle of the article looms a photograph of rural Russia, with birch trees - the symbol of Russia. During Stalin's time, an article bearing this title would have appealed to Soviet citizens to love Russia because it is the best country on earth with the most progressive political system: socialism. This  article preaches suffering, mysticism, and irrational nationalism. It calls for a Russian to be proud of being able to share the hardships with his country, to be buried in his motherland. Public reaction to this article was published by Pravda on the 7 September 1987. In spite of some critical reviews, the great majority of responses to Tkachenko's article were positive.

An eruption of nationalism took place on 13 March 1988 with the publication in Sovetskaia Rossiia of an article, taking up an entire page, that sadly enough, became widely known as a letter by Nina Andreeva. This article was actually a manifesto of Russian national-socialism.

I also want to mention the appearance of a russophile newspaper, Literaturnyj Irkutsk. While it is not a major newspaper, its repute extends beyond its local region, if only because it is headed by a well-known Russian russophile writer named Valentin Rasputin. 

But the main thing that I wanted to focus on here is the new, spon­taneous phenomena, occurring from below in the Russian nationalist movement, which have developed during the period of glasnost.

The old movement for the preservation of historical trea­sures has grown even stronger and taken on even sharper forms.[80] From all indications, the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical and Cultural Treasures has turned into a bureau­cratic organization. In the early 1980s, for some reason, at the Ministry of Aviation Industry a new organization, Pamiat, was created as a society for history and literature buffs, but the program of this organization is essentially the same as that of the All-Russian Society for the Preservation of Historical Treasures. Whereas at the head of the previous society stood such luminaries as the hero of Stalingrad, Marshall V. I . Chujkov, and the ex­tremely talented writer V. Soloukhin, at the head of Pamiat we find such people as the hysterical photojournalist Dmitry D. Vasil'ev, whom nobody knows, and the psychologically imbalanced doctor of economic sciences Valery N. Emelyanov, (who brutally murdered his wife and was acquitted after doctors declared him mentally ill), the author of a book published in Paris under the title Dezionization.[81] Pamiat operates not only in Moscow, but in other cities as well, including Leningrad and Sverdlovsk.[82]  In Moscow this society organized its meetings, in which huge numbers of people par­ticipated, in the halls of the club of the "Dynamo" factory, the Gorbunov club, and so forth. They accompany their activities related to the preser­vation of historical treasures and the environment with unabashed anti-Semitic propaganda. The book Protocols of the Zionist Wisemen is the bible of this society. Excerpts are read from it at its heavily attended meetings.

On 6 May 1987, four hundred members of the society organized a demonstra­tion near the Kremlin and demanded a meeting with Gorbachev and Boris N. Eltsyn, a candidate to the Politburo and a secretary of the Moscow branch of the party. Eltsyn agreed to a meeting and the demonstrators, escorted by militiamen, marched down Gorki Street to the headquarters of the Moscow Soviet. On  3 June  1987, Izvestia wrote that the members of Pamiat who took part in the meeting came away quite pleased with it. On 17 May 1987, the liberal newspaper Moscow News published an article about this meeting entitled "Let's Talk as Equals." Let us take Mr. Eltsyn's word when he said in June 1989 that he considers his meeting with Pamiat to be a spot upon his biography.

A number of newspapers have come out against Pamiat. Among them: Izvestia, with an article published on 3 June 1987 entitled "Where Pamiat Leads;" Komsomol'skaia Pravda, with an article entitled "In a State of Poor Memory" published on 22 May 1987, Soviet Culture, with an article entitled "On True Values and False Enemies" published on 18 June 1987, the magazine Ogonek, no. 21, (1987), in an article "What Are You Making a Fuss Over?" and others.

In spite of some clamor in the press, which has diminished in recent years, Pamiat actively pursues its course. It is especially active in Leningrad, where in 1988 they have organized numerous meetings in Rumanzev Gardens attracting large crowds; the authorities did not interfere.

In the last 2 years, a rift has developed in Pamiat, caused not so much by the ideological platform but by the choice of means in the struggle for power. One group which split from Pamiat is headed by an artist,  Igor S. Sychev. I do not know the what the attitude of the so-called Informal Russian Cultural Fund is toward Pamiat, but its platform is basically the same. In the winter of 1989, this fund organized a series of concerts of Russian choral music that took place at the  Krylia Sovetov stadium in Moscow. Metropolitan Uvenal came to bless the three thousand people who attended one such concert - this is probably the first official blessing of such a large crowd since the Revolution. Not bad in themselves, these concerts are accompanied by russophile propaganda. For instance, the deputy editor of the journal Molodaia Gvardia, Viacheslav Gorbachev, made a speech at one such concert and spoke to the audience about the predominance of Jews in the native art and sciences.

During the time of Gorbachev's rule a pro-Western orienta­tion among the country's youth in the area of art and culture has been stirred up. This orientation is manifesting itself in the emergence of hippies, punkers, modern jazz music and so on.  At the same time anti-Western movements among the youth have also risen sharply. These movements were linked in the beginning to the Liubers, young people from the town Liubertsy located outside of Moscow.[83] These were young guys who were in very good physical shape, who were into bodybuilding, and who were trained in karate techni­ques as well. They even have their own trademark form of dress: lightweight jackets, often not in keeping with the season, wide checkered pants, and narrow black ties. These young men for the most part did not use drugs. Every evening they came into Moscow and chased hippies, punkers, and heavy metal devotees, often beating them up and stealing their fashionable clothes and jewelry.

Perhaps the following couplet from the Liubers' anthem confirms their superpower nationalist character:

                                    We were born and raised in Liubertsy,

                                    The center of raw physical force.

                                     And we believe that our dream will come true.

                                     Liubertsy will become the center of Russia.

Who was behind these Liubers, who was orchestrating their activities so well? How were they able, given the conditions of Soviet life, to find the resources for sports halls, trainers, and so on? These questions remain unanswered.

Liubers left the scene rather quickly: perhaps they were mobilized into the army and send to Afghanistan. According to reports in the Russian weekly Nedelya Liubers made excellent soldiers.

But a holy place is never empty. Soldiers coming home from Afghanistan replenish the ranks of "Afghan Veterans" rather conservative people. Special troops trained to disband street demonstrations were recruited from this group. Moreover, in Moscow, and even more so in Leningrad, there formed fascist groups made up of youth who worship the cult of Hitler.

Finally, in discussing the development of russophilism at the present time, one cannot ignore what is happening in Russian Orthodox Christianity. I in no way mean to suggest that Christianity is closely linked to authoritarianism;  the develop­ment of Christianity in liberal Russia is entirely possible.[84]  But, alas, Christian ideas in Russia, to a great degree due to the fact that they are presented by the Orthodox rite, can be exploited for the establishment of a nationalistic ideology: Russia and Orthodoxy merge into one, since Russia is the only large country representing Orthodoxy.

It is well known that from the middle of the 1930s and particularly during the Second World War and after it, Stalin did a great deal for the reestablishment of the Russian Orthodox church. I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the data, but I recall the following figures: in 1939 there were five hundred churches in the U.S.S.R.; in 1953 there were eleven thousand.

After Stalin's death, the Orthodox church would not give up its ground and began gaining more and more momentum, especially in the 1970s when disillusionment with atheistic ideologies grew. Under Gorbachev, religious movements, and most of all Orthodoxy, are gaining strength. This is evidenced by a number of facts. In the summer of 1987, the patriarch of the Greek Orthodox church, Dimitros, visited Moscow. This was the first visit of its kind in four hundred years. Dissident priest Gleb Iakunin, who was first relieved of his parish and then arrested, was recently given a parish not far from Moscow. In 1986 the Moscow Semi­nary admitted five times as many new students than in 1985.[85] The celebration in 1988 of the millennial anniversary of the adoption of Christianity in Russia elicited a new wave of religious fervor.

During his visit to Paris in July of 1989, Gorbachev admitted that he had been baptized and that his mother attended church.

In 1988-89, national press published a number of articles in which a few prominent Soviet citizens such as the mathematician and member of the Academy of Sciences Igor R. Shafarevich (Moskovskie Novosti) and writer Iurij Nagibin,[86]  who, incidentally, hold radically different political views, openly admitted to being religious. Delegates from among the deputies included priests clothed in cassocks; all this received wide publicity through the television and the press.

 

Roots of Russian Nationalism

 

 Nationalistic ideas--even manifestations of it in its most extreme forms--are nothing new to Russia.[87] Such ideas found expression even in pre-Revolutionary Russia in the doctrine "Russia is the Third Rome and There Shall Be No Fourth." However, in pre-Revolutionary Russia the majority of the intel­ligentsia did not share this view. The intelligentsia believed more in liberal ideas, believed that the country could achieve greatness by following a pro-Western course. And we know, of course, that the sympathies of a significant number of liberal-minded intellec­tuals lay with the Bolsheviks.

After the Revolution, a substantial portion of the intel­ligentsia came to believe that the Bolsheviks were grooming Russia for greatness, and that the new social system that they were creating would be the best in the world and would serve as a model for development to the rest of the world. In this sense, the Bolsheviks accomplished a revolution after giving legal status to the idea that Russia would leave its provinciality and be transformed into the center of the world. The concept of the triumph of socialism and then of communism in one country only served to strengthen this ideology.

Some Russian intellectuals supported the Bolsheviks because they were continuing the great traditions of Russia by strengthening and expanding the empire. These intellectuals quite reasonably felt that the communist slogans that the Bolsheviks used in their noble task were merely temporary: slogans come and go, but the empire is forever. The successes of Russia in the area of in­dustrialization, the victory over fascist Germany, Stalin's creation after the war of a gigantic war machine, --all of these facts served to strengthen their belief that Russia was the best country on earth.

 Thus,  over the course of the seventy years since the Revolution several generations, for various reasons, have believed that Russia is the best country on earth.

Even the liberal, pro-Western Russian intellectuals felt that Russia could outstrip the West, using the West's own methods. The last Soviet leader who tried to use this idea was Nikita Khrushchev. He wanted to build communism in the U.S.S.R. as the best system in the world. He apparently still believed that, in the contesst between the two systems, socialism be the victor.

After Khrushchev's removal from office, the new leaders demonstrated a respectable realism and immediately set out to forget about the utopian, propagandistic program of building communism. The slogans about the competition between the two systems were mothballed. I would like to point out in passing that the Scientific Council on the Competition between the Two Systems of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, created under Khrush­chev, was disbanded.

Soviet leaders of the post-Khrushchev period no longer claimed to be better than the West.

The new Soviet leadership does still sometimes permit itself a few statements about the superiority of socialism over capital­ism. Gor­bachev, for instance, told Margaret Thatcher: "The socialist system has many times and in many ways demonstrated its superiority over capitalism. This is not boasting, it's just hard fact. And many of the possibilities of the system have yet to be unveiled and put to use."[88]

These same views were expressed in even starker terms by the secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Alexander Iakovlev, in an inter­view that he gave to Natan Gardels for the quarterly journal New Perspectives. Iakovlev, giving very high marks to the advantages of the socialist system, stated bluntly: "We must again surprise you people in the West. And that time is just around corner. We will surprise you."

I share Flora Lewis's view that in these statements by Soviet leaders one can find a certain wounded pride. They continue to clutch at the belief that the present system has enough potential to make them worthy rivals of the Western powers and to preserve the empire's prestige, but it is not very likely that they still believe in the superiority of socialism over capitalism.

It seems to me that at the present time, when we already have considerable experience with the building of socialism not only in the Soviet Union, but also in China and Eastern Europe, very few members of the Soviet intelligentsia believe in the superiority of socialism over capitalism.  In the 1960s a considerable number of intellectuals, who had been raised to believe in the superiority of socialism, wanted this idea to be put into practice and wanted the Soviet Union to truly become a free, prosperous country and a great world power. For a long time they linked this possibility to a liberalization in the Western mold. However, Brezhnev's rule, which locked the existing system in and set in motion the persecution of liberal dissidents, resulted in their dispersal and left this intel­ligentsia with no belief in the possibility of a successful, pro-Western development.[89]  Russophiles were also subjected to per­secution, although to a much lesser degree. Only a small fraction of russophiles, those who through their actions opposed too strongly the canons of authority, experienced persecution.

A certain portion of the Soviet intelligentsia, having despaired of seeing their country achieve greatness by following a pro-Western course and perhaps influenced by the liberal politics of the new Soviet leadership, will return to their former ideals.

However, another portion is trying to find its former ideals in the Russia tradition. "We are different and better than the West. Our values are better than those of the West since they are devoid of mercantilism, individualism, and vanity." This is what the russophiles were saying 150 years ago, and this is what many of them are saying again now.

There is a great deal of evidence of a growing russophile movement within the Russian intelligentsia.[90]

I remember that  in 1978 when S. was emigrating from the Soviet Union, he told me that one of the main factors contributing to his decision to leave was the feeling that he was not needed there. Even among his close Russian friends, who up until then had been pro-Western, he noticed a strong shift towards russophilism.

In a letter received in Israel from a prominent Soviet scholar in the U.S.S.R., dated 3 October 1986, it is stated:

This is a new phenomenon in our lives which began soon after your departure [that is, approximately in 1983-A. K.] and I take it very seriously.  A certain indica­tive reorientation in the mindset of the Russian intel­ligentsia has taken place. The era of "Wester­nizing" and democracy, or aspirations for such, have gone com­pletely by the wayside. At the end of the seventies one could still see remnants of this era, but now the dominant trend in the mindset of our colleagues and compatriots is Russian patriotism, ethnic awareness, etc.

Thus, the complexity of the situation lies in the fact that rus­sophilism is developing under circumstances. On the one hand, among the members of the Soviet intelligentsia, there is profound disil­lusionment with liberal ideas and a disbelief both in the ideas of pedantic communism and in the idea of the pos­sibility of developing the country along the lines of the free Western societies: on the other hand, there is a tradition, which has become dominant since the Revolution, of believing that Russia is the best there is.

 

Notes and References


8

 

Some Notes on Soviet Anti-Semitism

 

 

Historical Comments

 

 

Throughout Soviet history, Jews have been persecuted, though the persecution has gone on under various banners: the struggle against Trotskyites, against cosmopolitanism, and against Zionism. Naturally, the scale of the persecution varied over time.

Mass Anti-Semitism goes back a long way in Russia. Here I am talking only of anti-Semitism inspired from above. The first serious signs of anti-Semitism in the Soviet period appeared, I think, in mid-1924. It was then that Stalin began to move quickly against Zinoviev and Kamenev, the two other leaders who were quite instrumental in his political survival after Lenin's death. According to Yakubovich, it was Stalin who suggested that Kamenev be removed from the chairmanship of the Council of People's Commissars, and replaced by Nikolai Rykov, and ethnic Russian. Stalin argued that it was unwise in a Russian state to have a Jew, Kamenev, head the Council of People's Commissars, or, more precisely, to let a Jew hold the chairmanship of this post jointly with that of Workers' and Peasants' Defense Council. These two positions, as we know, were once jointly held by Lenin. The Politburo approved Stalin's motion. Behind the scenes, again according to Yakubovich, Stalin allegedly told Rykov, "We shall get rid of the Jews." And indeed, just three years later, in 1927, there was not a single Jew left in the Politburo. Only in 1930, when Stalin brought his own underling, Lazar Kaganovich, to the highest policy-making body, was there again a Jew in the Politburo.

In the following years, the repressions against the Jews intensified. Professor Boris Moishezon told me in private conversation that in his opinion, based on the analysis of the documents from the 1930s, the term Trotskyite was that time associated with the Jews. I share his opinion.

An indirect confirmation of this is the following unique fact relayed to me in the mid-1960s by V. Kaplan. She told me that in 1937 (or in1938) her husband Kaplan was removed from his post in Stalin's staff, where his job was to edit the leader's works. Others of the same nationality were removed from their positions on Stalin's staff at about the same time. Subsequently Kaplan worked as an editor in a union publishing house, and only after Stalin's death did he transfer to the Party Committee for the City of Moscow.

In the early 1930s the Kaplan family was very good friends with Alexander S. Shcherbakov. By then, Shcherbakov played an important role in the party, and was appointed in 1934 as its representative to the Writers' Union of the U.S.S.R. In 1936 he moved to Leningrad (he was appointed the second secretary of the Leningrad Province Party Committee), and then to the Ukraine. When in Moscow on official visits Shcherbakov would usually stay with Kaplans. During on of his visits to Moscow from Siberia to a meeting with then-all-powerful Peoples' Commissar for Internal Affairs, Nikolaj I. Ezhov, Shcherbakov did not stay with the Kaplans. He called them and apologized for having to stay at the Savoi Hotel (presently the Berlin Hotel), where he was being guarded by a man from the NKVD. He promised to call Kaplans after the meeting. The call never came. This was a very troubled time, and there was nothing unusual in a person not coming home after a meeting with Ezhov. The Kaplans were understandably worried. Early in the morning, Kaplan's wife went to the hotel. Being a close friend, she woke Shcherbakov up and asked him why he had not called. In response, Shcherbakov reluctantly (or, maybe only sleepily) mumbled something about his meeting with Ezhov, who had spoken about the many Jews in the ranks of the enemies of the people: Trotskyites. Kaplan's wife said, "How can you think that, you know it is not true!" The subject of the conversation quickly changed. They stayed together until 2 P.M. talking about various things, when they were joined by Kaplan. I believe that was their last meeting.

The anti-semitic policies of the 1930s, however, touched only the next-highest layer of the hierarchy: The members of the Central Committee and party leaders of the provinces (oblasty). Until 1936-38, six Jews were the secretaries of the regional party committees in the Ukraine. After the Great Purges, there were none. There was not, as far as I know, a single Jew besides Kaganovich, who after 1937 held an officially elective party office of at least the level of provincial secretary.

The Soviet Jewish population as a whole began to feel the impact of official anti-Semitism during World War II. This expressed itself, inter alia, in a restriction in the admission of Jews into the best universities and colleges, in particular, into the newly reestablished Department of International Affairs at the Moscow State University. I personally experienced discrimination during the war, when I was a student at the Uzbekistan Institute of National Economy in Samarkand. As the institute did not have a graduate course, and I wished to continue my studies, I decided to transfer in 1944 to the School of Economics at the Moscow State University. My friends from Samarkand, who had returned to Moscow, told me by letter that I would be unable to do this because of the restriction on the admission of Jews to the university. Nevertheless, with great difficulty, I obtained an interview with the dean of the School of Economics, Professor Ivan D. Udaltsov, who questioned me on a wide variety of subjects, including whether I had any relatives in the trade-union movement in Odessa in 1905. Needless to say, I was refused admission. I was able to transfer, with considerable difficulty, to the Moscow State Institute of Economics, from which I graduated in 1946. Of the nineteen graduates of the institute, I was the only Jew recommended for postgraduate work, although there was no shortage of Jewish graduates whose ability was considerably greater than that of the students recommended for such work. However, it should be pointed out that several young Jewish men, who had graduated form the institute before the war and who had by then returned from the front, were accepted along with me. Thus, even prior to the creation of the State of Israel, there was noticeable anti-Semitic discrimination in the U.S.S.R.

The official anti-Semitic discrimination was greatly intensified in the mid-1940s in the so-called struggle against Cosmopolitanism. The purpose of this struggle was not only to liquidate Jewish institutions and their leaders but also to remove Jews from management positions, from the party apparatus, and from Soviet cultural life.

The official anti-Jewish campaign of the late 1940s was linked with an attempt to accuse the entire Jewish population of disloyalty to the U.S.S.R.1 It is particularly interesting to consider in addition the information received from the well-known Soviet specialist in international finance, the late Academician Joseph A. Trakhtenberg. According to him, sometime around February 1953, after the "Doctors' plot" had been announced and before Stalin's death, the Editor-in-Chief of Pravda brought together a large group of prominent Soviet Jews, of whom Trakhtenberg was one. He suggested that they sign an appeal to the Soviet Jewish population to convince them of the necessity of moving to Siberia. They were offered this rationalization as the experience of the postwar years had shown, there were many Jewish renegades, saboteur, and the like who had sold out to the Joint and other Western intelligence organizations. According to Marxist-Leninist doctrine, the objective cause of this phenomenon was that the Jews lacked their own working class and collectivized peasantry. The Soviet government wished to help the Jews to correct their mistakes and to create the appropriate conditions for them to build their own working class and collectivized peasantry in Siberia. Trakhtenberg told his close friends that he refused to sign the appeal.

The policies of the Soviet government towards the Jews in the post-Stalinist period have been fairly well described, and I do not with to dwell upon them at great length.

 

 

What's New in Anti-Semitic Policy in the U.S.S.R.

 

The main point is that Russia's historical anti-Semitism was inherited by the U.S.S.R. With the exception of a short period under Lenin, the anti-Semitic policy of the Soviet government has increased. In particular, the attempt to resolve the Jewish problem in the U.S.S.R., where, right after the Revolution, it would seem that optimal conditions for the preservation of Judaism should exist, ended tragically. Throughout the entire course of Soviet history, the destruction of the Jews was carried out under the most varied of campaigns. Anti-Semitism reached its peak at the beginning of 1953, when Stalin planned a mass exile of Jews to Siberia. In subsequent years, though there were ebbs and surges in anti-Semitism, it basically maintained a high level.

Before 1986, the anti-Semitic policy was conducted directly by the Soviet government. For many years the authorities had been orchestrating anti-Semitism from above: officially, in the guise of combating Zionism, and unofficially, through oral directives to various organizations. Anti-Semitism from below was tightly controlled, and the masses were not allowed to express it in an organized way. There were, of course, uncoordinated acts of anti-Semitism committed by individuals that went unpunished, but they scarcely affected the larger picture.

In the last three years, during glasnost, the situation has changed dramatically. For the first time in decades a number of national newspapers, for example, Izvestia, Sovetskaya Kul'tura, and Komsomol'skaya Pravda, ran stories condemning anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. The word Jew with a neutral and even positive connotations, made its appearance in the print media. The government also took a number of steps to alleviate the situation of Jews by sharply increasing emigration, releasing many long-time refuseniks, allowing Jews to freely visit their friends and relatives in the West, including Israel. Also, former Soviet Jews who have emigrated in the last twenty years are now allowed to come back and visit. The Jewish Cultural Center opened in Moscow, Hebrew can be taught, and Jewish theater troupes are springing up.

Whatever the explanation is for all these changes, the changes themselves, in my view, are real.

Still, this evidence is not sufficient to conclude that the Soviet leadership has now wholeheartedly committed itself to eradicating anti-Semitism. There are other facts that directly or indirectly point to the complicity of government agencies, or at of least some very powerful individuals, in whipping up anti-Semitism. We can at best speak only of the leadership's halfhearted commitment to fight anti-Semitism.

First, Soviet leaders, and Gorbachev in particular, have never publicly denounced anti-Semitism in the country. In fact, Kanovich - a deputy to the May Congress of People's Deputies (1989) - prepared an appeal concerning the growing anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. This appeal, signed by about two hundred deputies (I believe Boris N. Yeltzin was the first to put down his signature) was handed over to the congress Presidium directly through Gorbachev. Of the numerous appeals made at the congress, this one was never read out (in spite of persistent reminding to so).

Secondly, such perfectly official magazines as Molodaia Gvardiia and Nash Sovremennik are actively engaged in anti-Semitic propaganda variously masked by accepted communist ideology. Some newspapers are not far behind. Of special interest is the publication of 13 March 1988 in Sovetskaya Rossiia of a piece that virtually amounted to a manifesto of Russian national socialism.

Officially, this manifesto was submitted in the form of a letter written by Nina Andreeva, who has a teaching position at the Lensovet Leningrad Technological Institute. From the point of view in which I am interested, I would like to draw your attention to the following principles of the manifesto:

Another peculiarity of the views of the "left liberals" is a blatant of masked cosmopolitan tendency; a certain national "internationalism." I read somewhere that after the Revolution, a delegation of merchants and industrialists came to the Petrosovet to see Trotsky "as a Jew." They wished to address to him their complaint regarding oppression on the part of the Red Guard. Trotsky declared that he was "not a Jew," but an internationalist, which highly perplexed his petitioners.

Trotsky's understanding of "a national" was tinted with shades of inferiority and narrow-mindedness in comparison with his idea of "an international." He therefore emphasized "the national tradition" of October, wrote about "the national in Lenin," affirmed that the Russian people "have not received any kind of cultural inheritance," and things of this sort. We are almost embarrassed to say that it was just this Russian proletariat, whom Trotsky belittled as "backward and uncultured," who committed, in Lenin's words, "three Russian Revolutions," and that the Slavic peoples were in the vanguard of humanity's battle with fascism.

What I have said is of course in no way meant to minimize the historical contribution of other peoples and nationalities. As it is said today, it only lends support to the body of historical truth. . . . When students ask me how it could be that thousands of small villages in Nechernozemia and Siberia were depopulated, I reply that this, too, is a high price to pay for Victory and the rehabilitation of the national economy, as is the irretrievable loss of an enormous number of monuments of Russian national culture. But I am still convince: downplaying the significance of historical consciousness results in a pacifistic waning of national defense and patriotic consciousness; also, the desire for the slightest display of Great Russian national pride is written down as chauvinism.

I am also disturbed by militant cosmopolitanism, now associated with the practice of the "renunciation" of socialism. Unfortunately, we are reminded of this only when novice proponents of this movement create some kind of outrageous disturbance in front of the Smolny or the Kremlin. And what's more, they have gradually trained us to see in this phenomenon a kind of almost innocuous transfer of "place of residence," and not a classoriented or nationality change or shift; the majority of the member of this movement have completed undergraduate and graduate education on our public funds. Overall, many are inclined to view "renunciation" as a certain manifestation of "democracy" and "human rights" since "stagnant socialism" has interfered with the blossoming of individual talents. So then, if in there in the "free world," genius and enterprise are not valued, and haggling with one's conscience does not hold particular interest for special agencies then we can turn back. . . .

As we know, Marx and Engels designated entire peoples as "counterrevolutionary" during particular periods of their histories, depending on their concrete historical roles. I am emphasizing, not classes, not stratas, but precisely peoples. From the basis of a class point of view, they did not hesitate to assign vivid characteristics to a variety of peoples, including Russian, and Poles, and also to the nationality to which they themselves belonged. It is as if the founders of the scientific-proletarian philosophy are reminding us that in the brotherly circle of soviet people, each people and nationality should "preserve the honor of their youth," and not allow themselves to be provoked into nationalistic or chauvinistic attitudes. The national pride and worthiness of all peoples should merge into an internationalism of one socialist society.

It is important to note the fact that among the people named in the manifesto, negative connotations are used exclusively in connection with those of Jewish heritage, such as M. Shatrov, A. Rybakov, Trotsky, Iagoda, Dan, and Martov (listed in the order in which they appear in the text).

This letter threw the Soviet propaganda machinery into a virtual state of paralysis for twenty-four long days. Regional newspapers, with the single possible exception of Tambovskaia Pravda reprinted it. Various party conferences, held in Leningrad, approved it. And only on 6 April, 1988 did an article appear in Pravda, taking up the entire second page and severely criticizing Andreeva's manifesto. It is hard to say why a Moscow media outlet ran Andreeva's letter, why for over three weeks it not only went unchallenged, but was actually welcomed in many places, why all this occurred when both Mikhail Gorbachev and Alexander Yakovlev were away from the capital. The entire story remains shrouded in mystery.

The important thing, however, is not these media deviations from the general party line against anti-Semitism, though they too merit attention. What is important is that, in the last three year, despite official half-measures to combat anti-Semitism, the practical responsibility for keeping anti-Semitism alive has been delegated to the people. To this end, and organization like Pamiat has been allowed to come into existence (even if it was not deliberately created by the authorities, it was not banned either). Because Pamiat received a lot of attention in the Western press, I need not dwell up it here. But Pamiat is by no means the only unofficial society of its kind. For example, the Independent Russian Cultural Foundation advocates similar program (see section Russian Nationalism in Its Present Stage, chapter 7).

In recent months, information from the U.S.S.R. includes not only all sorts of anti-Semitic public statements by members of the group Pamiat and others like it, but reports of anti-Semitic actions on the part of the population. Such incidents have even been reported in the print media.

The newspaper Moscow News, in its 29 May 1988 issue, reported an act of vandalism by two intoxicated men, Pavel Liashchenko (fifty-four years old), and Alexander Ershov (thirty-five years old) who defaced forty-six memorials, sixteen of which were completely destroyed, in the Jewish section of Vostriakovsky Cemetery in Moscow. Newspaper called the action a crime, but it also presented the vandals as educated family men (one of them is an associate professor at the Shakhtinsky branch of the Novocherkassky Polytechnical Institute, and and other is a senior engineer at the same institute.) with spotless records, members of the communist party, who committed an act of vandalism atypical of themselves.

Having gone into a bit of detail on what happened and definitely establishing that the defaced monuments were indeed located in the part of the cemetery reserved for Jews, the author of the article in the paper evaluates the events thusly: "An investigation and thorough follow-up did not reveal any evidence that may have supported nationalistic motives on the part of the criminals. I am firmly convinced that this was a drunken row and not an act of anti-Semitism."

The newspaper further announces that these vandals are to be tried, and that they will compensate for the damage caused, estimated at several thousand rubles.

It is emphasized in the newspaper that these two thugs, who have themselves admitted their guilt, will simply be tried as vandals. In reality, if the two were to be tried for anti-Semitic actions, who knows what consequences might result from this type of judicial process in such times of stagnation and growing licentiousness of the masses?

The development of glasnost has led to the russophiles expressing their anti-Semitic ideas very openly, fearlessly, and sharply. In their unwashed form, these ideas are usually expressed in the samizdat literature; for the most part the official Soviet press still does not allow such ideas to be published openly. Needless to say, even in earlier times the russophiles expressed their ideas openly through samizdat. But before, this was true primarily of russophiles who were outsides of the establishment: Shemanov, Skurlatov, Osipov, and others. Now it is russophiles who belong to the establishment whose ideas appear in the samizdat. I am referring to the correspondence between State Prize laureate Victor Astaf'ev, one of Russia's most talented contemporary writers, and renowned Soviet publicist and researcher Natan Eidel'man, a scholar of Russian history and literature. In his response to Eidel'man, Astaf'ev expresses his great-power views and accuses the Jews of being responsible for many of the evil deeds perpetrated in Russia during the post-Revolutionary period, including the brutal murder of the tsar's family. In his response, Eidel'man tries to reason with Astaf'ev and suggest that he look for the causes of these unfortunate occurrences in themselves, rather than in the Jews. Another work commands attention: The book by a prominent Soviet mathematician, a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., Igor R. Shafarevich. The work is entitled Russophobia. It first appeared in samizdat. In 1989 it was published in the West by Posev, and eventually it found its way into the Soviet journals (Nash Sovremennik, in particular). The author asserts that the Jews, being "a small nation," represent a major evil for modern day Russia. The work lives up to the best traditions of anti-Semitic propaganda, resorting to many old stratagems: accusing the Jews of wanting to control other peoples, for example. The only thing lacking in the book is the accusation that Jews perform ritual murders!

 Anti-Semitism in the U.S.S.R. is currently being fueled by yet another development. Accusations, directed against the Jews that they had plunged Russia into the October Revolution with disastrous results, have a long history. Considering that the highest echelon of the revolutionary leadership (after Lenin) included many Jews (Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Sverdlov, Uritsky, Volodarsky) makes Jewish involvement in the October revolution undeniable. It is quite another matter to blame the Jews for the fact that the Russian people and other nationalities inhabiting the Russian Empire carried out and accepted the revolution. As long as Soviet ideology banned all doubt as to the progressive nature of the October Revolution, all these accusations regarding the excessive role of the Jews were not pertinent. During glasnost, official Soviet press has questioned (although rather timidly) the expediency of the Revolution for Russia. This development makes accusations voiced against the Jews for their participation in the Revolution more dangerous: for now, these accusations have some official backing.

However, the history of the Jewish people reveals that in addition to these general causes, unabashed anti-Semitism, including pogroms, is oftentimes sparked by a current event. For example, one the assassination of Alexander II by an organization with some Jewish members sparked pogroms. At the present time, the burial of the remains of the Tzar family, brutally murdered in 1918 in Ekaterinburg might spark an anti-Semitic eruption. Allegedly, the remains of the family were recently discovered by a Soviet journalist Riabov; this discovery was announced in the Soviet mass media. Orthodox church wanted to have a splendorous funeral for the remains of the innocent victims. Evidence of Jewish participation in this operation was widely publicized. Allegedly, the person in charge of the execution was Jacob Urovsky; he received his orders from the local authorities, in particular, from another Jew Philip Goloshchekin, who, in turn, received his orders from the Chief of the Central Executive Committee, Jacob Sverdlov - a Jew.

How dangerous life has become for Soviet Jews can be gathered from the address of N. Iukhneva to the colloquium on the Ethnography of Petersburg-Leningrad, held on 7 June, 1988.2

Iukhneva, who has a Ph.D. in history and who is a leading scholar at the Institute of Ethnography of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, focused her remarks on "the growth of aggressive nationalistic and anti-Semitic sentiments in contemporary Russian society." She pointed to the rumors of impending Jewish pogroms circulating in Moscow around the time of the celebration of the millennium of Russian Christianity. Leaflets were being distributed in Moscow calling for pogroms. (Iukhneva read the texts of two such leaflets.) Jews found letters with threats in their mailboxes. Having citing these and a number other facts, the speaker concluded:

Moscow is now perched on the brink of ethnic violence. Let us hope that this won't happen. But what we have rumors, threats, leaflets that are in and of themselves dangerous symptoms of deep-seated problems.

Why am I saying all this in the address devoted to Leningrad? Because the concern are the same. Last year, in Leningrad too there was vandalism at a Jewish cemetery; in Leningrad there are also telephone threats; in Leningrad we again have roaming youth gangs in Mussolini-like black shirts with painted white bells. They show up at scholarly meeting and form an appropriate backdrop to the speeches of their leaders who sloganize about Russia for the Russians, the purity of blood, the unmasking of Jewish-Masonic or Zionist plots. It is our duty to do everything we can to prevent violence in Leningrad.3

In August 1989 leaflets calling for Jewish pogroms were distributed in Mosow. Direct threats of Jewish pogroms were made in Leningrad, in Moldavia, and so on.

According to reports from Moscow, Jews there have started, albeit sporadically, to set up self-defense groups.

The permission that people received under glasnost to express their views, coupled with a much-reduced fear of doing so, has led to the resurgence of the tradition of grass-roots anti-Semitism. Popular participation in anti-Semitic hysteria is extremely dangerous in a period of spiritual crisis, economic stagnation, pervasive food shortages, unusually high prices on liquor, and the future prospects of even higher prices for consumer goods and massive layoffs of which Gorbachev speaks quite openly.

Although Gorbachev himself apparently regards the idea of the Great Russian people with a certain amount of approval, there is, however, no grounds for accusing him of anti-Semitism. One must also remember that Gorbachev, as do many other political leaders under the conditions of a tense political struggle, tries to maintain a centralist position between the radical liberal circles and the nationalist socialists. The liberal program put forward by Gorbachev to reorganize society is incompatible with anti-Semitism, and he apparently is unwilling to give up this plan. Glasnost has given him the opportunity to directly reject the realization of any kind of anti-Semitic actions and to balance himself politically, shifting anti-Semitic fervor to the reactionary circles and masses and counting their growing anti-Semitism as one of the costs of democracy. More concretely, this means that Gorbachev's policy, in the event of extreme necessity, may allow him to "let off steam" through the anti-Semitic acts of the masses. This is, of course, a very risky game, since given the current situation, the masses may themselves initiate anti-Semitic actions, even if Gorbachev preferred not to allow this at the particular moment. They chose the events in Nagorno Karabakh demonstrate that the nationalistic sentiments of the masses are extremely difficult to control. In addition, Gorbachev's rivals may even organize Jewish pogroms, which would place him in a very difficult position both at home and abroad.

Current events in the U.S.S.R. lead me to believe that Russia now stands on the threshold of a new explosion of anti-Semitism.

What are the consequences for Jewish people in the Soviet Union and for Jewish organizations in the West? The answer is quite simple: while the situation is still favorable, Soviet Jews should emigrate as soon as possible, without waiting for pogrom to take place. Organizations in the West who handle Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union face a harder dilemma. Because emigration from the U.S.S.R. has become much easier, and because many longtime refuseniks are now being released, it is no longer so necessary for Western Jewish organizations to concentrate primarily on these issues, as they have quite correctly done before. It will be recalled that Soviet authorities have also removed many obstacles to the development of Jewish culture in the country. These phenomena pose a challenge to Western Jews: to refocus their attention on new ways of helping their Soviet brethren. Many Jewish leaders, taking note of the recent positive changes, suggest that the main efforts be directed toward assisting Soviet Jews with their cultural advancement in Russia itself. Since some positive changes have indeed taken place, these suggestions deserve to be taken very seriously.

Still, to base strategy on the evidence of positive changes alone is too risky, because of the presence of other, opposite trends, some of which I have tried to outline above; these other trend, furthermore, appear to me to be so strong as to require Jewish leaders to concentrate on getting as many Soviet Jews out of the country as possible.

Even if the Jewish organizations come to agree with my assessment of the current contradictory situation of Soviet Jews, I am not so naive as to think that they would immediately move to implement my suggestions in practice. There are considerable obstacles to such a shift in policy. American Jewish organizations have long been pressured by Israel to do everything they can to increase the number of Soviets Jews going to Israel. That some Israeli leaders regard those Soviet Jews who do not go to Israel as a "lost cause," strikes me as a very narrow-minded position, when viewed from the long-term perspective of Jewish history. Beside, Israel might experience difficulty absorbing several hundred thousand Soviet Jews at once. And the moral side of the whole issue is too obvious to be discussed here.

The fact that most Soviet Jews still do not want to move to Israel naturally complicates launching a drive for a massive emigration from the U.S.S.R.

It goes without saying that Israel badly needs an influx of European Jews, and that only Russia can be considered to have a serious potential in that regard. It seems unlikely, however, that this goal can be achieved in any direct fashion. Soviet Jews are deeply assimilated. It is quite difficult for a Jew who was not born in Israel and does not have strong roots there, and who can live comfortably in the Diaspora, to move to a country that is viewed as a besieged fortress and that demands an enormous inner commitment and a strong sense of faith in its long-term survival and prosperity. To achieve increased emigration to Israel requires time and deep changes in the people's psychology which is every bit as objective a constraint, as is scarcity of land and other resources.

If the emphasis is thus maintained on the development of the Jewish people as whole, the present situation would seem to demand that the major efforts of Western Jewish organizations be channeled toward rescuing Soviet Jews while it is still possible. This does not rule out trying to strengthen Israel as the main center of Jewish life. Considerable efforts will also be needed to establish a close relationship between would-be Soviet emigrés and Israel, even should they decide not to settle there.

 

Causes of Anti-Semitism

 

To gain a deeper insight into the Jewish predicament in the Soviet Union and its possible resolution, it seems worthwhile to examine the issue from a more general perspective, to examine the causes of anti-Semitism and ways to respond to them.

The causes of anti-Semitism have been widely discussed in the literature. A nonspecialist writing about the subject is motivated by ignorance, ambition (the latter reflecting his faith in the nontriviality of his methodology in discussing this age old problem), or perhaps both. As a nonspecialist, I would like to think that my observations on the subject belong at least to second category.

It seems to me that any social phenomenon that has persisted throughout periods of time measured in centuries must have heterogeneous roots; that is, it must find support in the most diverse segments of the population and have roots in a variety of causes that may be intertwined in the most peculiar manner in each individual group.

Indeed, if we look at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, we see that the most diverse groups of people in a given country, sometimes motivated by very different reasons, have expressed anti-Semitic sentiment. Urban and rural populations alike have been infected with anti-Semitic spirit; educated as well as uneducated classes; intellectuals and "people of the earth"; poor people as well as middle and wealthy classes: persecutors and the persecuted; slaves and free citizens; lumpen and proprietors.

The causes of anti-Semitism are many and diverse. Among the most significant are the religious motives (in countries belonging to the Christian world expressed in such accusations as being responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, or performing ritual slayings of infants) and the fear of being unable to compete with the activeness of the Jews. This fear assumed a variety of forms: general fear before the all-encompassing cooperation among the Jews in conjunction with their ability to penetrate all sphere of social life, from business to politics4; fear of the Jews grabbing the choice professional positions, perhaps taking native women due to their ability to achieve a better standard of living and to their greater responsibility and respect toward their wives and children.

In some cases these fears were not rationally unfounded. The most grave danger was that Jews might take over a particular sphere, especially if this sphere was vital for society's well-being. For instance, if too many Jews become shepherds, doctors, or traders, and they then decided to leave the country and return to the Promised Land, this will cause disruptions in the life of the country by depriving it of essential personnel.

Here I want to refer to a wonderful essay by Z. Zhabotinskij: "Four Sons." The author notes that at the basis of anti-Semitism is the conflict between the fact that initially, when the Jews settle in the territories of other nations, they are willing to perform work that is important to the native people but that, for various reasons (including the lack of know-how to do these jobs, especially complicated ones), is considered "repulsive" by the natives. Eventually, the native population becomes familiar with these tasks and one day discovers that the Jews are too powerful in that rather important area. This leads local authorities to devise all kinds of tricks to get rid of the Jewish domination. This is what happened to the Jews in Egypt where they agreed to become shepherds "for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians"5; the same took place in the Middle Ages when Jews turned to trade and money lending.

These reasons for anti-Semitism can arise from direct contact with the Jews, a situation characteristic of the so called everyday anti-Semitism, or from widespread notions of the dangers that the Jewish race holds for other peoples (especially if the Jews settle within the territories of other nations but in isolation from them). For instance, in pre-Revolutionary Russia, everyday anti-Semitism was prevalent in the western part of the empire, in the pales where local inhabitants came in contact with the Jews. Here envy was combined with religious superstition and myths of the Jews as devils. As for the greater share of the Russian population, their contact with the Jews was rather limited and the roots of their anti-Semitism were primarily religious (the crucifixion of Christ), superstitious (the ritual slayings), and based on widespread notions of Jews as the Devil's race capable of inflicting tremendous harm. It was only after the Revolution, when the Jews left the pales and settled in the cities, that everyday anti-Semitism became the prevalent form among the masses of the Russian population.

The diversity of groups infected with anti-Semitism, as well as the variety of its causes, can be observed throughout the ages and in all different countries. Of course, the composition of the groups of people engulfed by anti-Semitism, the strength of various motives (sometimes a particular reason may be absent altogether for instance, antipathy against the crucifixion of Christ in non-Christian countries), and, especially, the severity of anti-Semitic sentiment changes depending on the culture of a given country and the particular situation it finds itself in.

All this leads me to conclude that anti-Semitism represents an extremely difficult problem. Is there a solution at all? Can anti-Semitism ever disappear?

In science, before solving the problem one attempts to establish existence of a solution. It was characteristic of seventeenth and eighteenth century science, which achieved outstanding results in many different fields of human endeavor, to believe in the absolute possibility from the construction of perpetual motion machine to the creation of utopian social systems where all people will be forever happy. Nineteenth century science is more sober, limiting the bounds of what is possible. During the first part of the nineteenth century, with the advent of thermodynamics, the impossibility of constructing a perpetual motion machine becomes clear. Galois's outstanding work of 1821 revealed that equations of degree greater than four cannot be solved in radicals (by means of a formula); many other discoveries in mathematics concerned proofs of the existence of nonexistence of a solution, irrelevant of the actual methods of finding it. The social sciences were less fortunate. I know of only a single rigid proof of the impossibility of solving a specific social problem: it pertains to democratic methods of decision making; the proof was conceived by K. Arrow in the second half of the twentieth century.

I cannot claim to have a rigid proof of the impossibility of eradicating anti-Semitism. I only want to note that it seems to me to be a farfetched possibility. In fact, such specific causes of anti-Semitism as a priori false accusations of ritualistic slayings can be dropped; much of the responsibility for the death of Christ can be lifted. Envy towards the Jews can be subdued as directed specifically against the Jews and reduced to general envy (in all its might) of one human being towards another.

The argument that the Jews are capable of capturing key positions in society, thus threatening its well-being in case they decide to leave, can be countered by showing that the number of Jews in each country is too small to capture a critical mass of the key positions of power; besides, at the time of exodus, unlike a forced extradition, the majority of Jews remain in a given country. Moreover, Jewish presence can be considered beneficial in that it forces local population to become more active. Imposing quotas on the number of Jews in certain fields creates the danger of unqualified native population streaming into that area, willing to accommodate their superiors in fighting the so-called Jewish domination. I realize the ambiguity of all these argument, since the socioeconomic sphere defies a clear-cut formulation of the conditions under which protectionism is more advantageous than free trade.

Nevertheless, a number of features attributed to the Jewish character and used in the rational justification of anti-Semitism cannot be overcome in principle. I want to discuss one such anti-Semitic argument prevalent among a very specified segment of the population: intellectuals. It seems to me that the argument advanced by this group plays a particularly important role and largely renders eradication of anti-Semitism impossible.

Intellectuals, the Programming Sphere, and anti-Semitism.

First, a few words about the intellectuals. More than any other group, intellectuals not only observe but can also conceptualize the demands of the situation for the future developments of society. The distinguishing role of the intellectuals lies in the integration of a society, in conciliating the authorities with the masses. Intellectual ideas transform into a force used by the authorities to legitimate and expand their power.6

This does not preclude other groups, holding different views formed on their own according, from playing a very significant role in the life of the country. These groups may in turn influence the intellectuals, providing them with empirical data. But it is the intellectuals who represent the driving force behind the ideas consumed both by those in power and by the masses.

Although sometimes intellectuals repeat the same argument as other groups, they also come up with more sophisticated arguments based on actual fact, that reflect some very real aspects of life, and their concern cannot be written off easily.

It seems that intellectuals are capable of advancing arguments in favor of anti-Semitism that have a real basis and are difficult to rebuff. These arguments are directed specifically at Jews and touch the deep core of the Jewish outlook on the world. Therefore, as long as the Jewish culture continues to exist we should not expect to overcome them. Only by accepting the attitudes (and especially the religion) of the host nation can the Jews hope to put an end to anti-Semitic persecution. Moreover, certain groups of intellectuals may adhere to racial theories of anti-Semitism, that is, that there are distinct genetic characteristics of the Jews. (I shall consider this point below.) In this case, the solution of the problem lies at worst along the lines of the annihilation of the Jews or, at best, along the lines of their expulsion from the country.

Before proceeding to discuss these problems, I want to make the following remark. There exist certain spheres of society which would, if penetrated by foreign elements with a radically different system of values, present grave dangers, for they are in a position to affect the system of values of the country as a whole (of its major ethnic group), diverting it from its inherent course of development. To clarify the statement, let us distinguish between the "programming sphere" and the "executive sphere" of society.

The programming sphere includes all activities related to the formation of society's genetic code and its transformation into subsystems, which form the foundation of all the diverse social structures and their mechanisms of operation. These two functions, that is, the creation and transformation of the genetic code, interlinked and having a feedback on on another, comprise the programming sphere.

Areas comprising the core of the creation of the genetic code are primarily those connected with culture: ideologies, art, and basic science; areas such as mass media, education, political and economic leadership (especially at the higher levels of the hierarchy and at key positions), and so on, embody the system of code transformation linked to the first one by mutual interactions.

The executive sphere encompasses all activities, mental as well as physical, dealing with the transformation of nature according to the ...passed down... genetic code. The executive sphere may create feedback that affects the genetic code.

Thus it is the infiltration of the Jews into the programming sphere that is considered most dangerous to the development of the native ethnos, since the Jewish system of values may affect its genetic code. It is precisely in this sense that the Jews of the Diaspora are viewed as viruses, which, as we know, have no protein membrane of their own but penetrate the host cell, changing its genetic code.

There is abundant evidence for this attitude towards the Jews. It assumes many different and most phantasmagoric forms such as the documents know as "protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." Interesting in this respect is a letter (dated June, 1987) circulating in the U.S.S.R. and addressed to Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU. The letter is signed by three rather prominent members of Russian intelligentsia: V. G. Brusova, Ph. D. in art history, member of the Union of Soviet Artists, and recipient of the RSFSR State Prize; G. I. Litvinova, Ph. D. in law; and T. A. Ponomareva, member of the Writers' Union of the U.S.S.R. An excerpt from this letter, which denounces the reasons for the "exploitation" of the Russian people in the U.S.S.R., reads:

Statistics, objective and scientific, indicate that the much greater sphere of positions at the top of the social pyramid is presently occupied by individuals belonging to the Jewish race. . . .

Every one of us knows from his own personal experience that an illegal possession of the "brain trust" is not a wild fantasy of the "the Learned Elder of Zion" but is the most real of realities. A flagrant overtaking of all key, leading positions in economics, science, and culture, "accelerated" social growth, have all become a sad reality. . . .

What has this "international," actually "Jewish brain trust," bestowed upon us? It has bestowed upon us uncountable damage to the national economy, trade, ecology, and culture. We were forced to count all these losses and "mistakes," and their scope was too great. It bears responsibility for the destruction of agriculture, the dissolution of "unprofitable villages," the antihuman projects of altering the course of northern rivers, the destruction of Volga; Baikal is under siege. One experiment after another, each one throwing us back, making the flywheel of the powerful Soviet economy perform idle motions. Our system is the most progressive in the world, and we cannot even feed ourselves; at one time we fed all of Europe, part of Africa and Asia with a plow and a cart. It turns out we cannot survive without the help of capitalist powers. And the people work in the sweat of their brow struggling with new unsolvable problems with suck our finances, labor power, deeper and deeper into the disastrous whirlpool, inflicting greater and greater crises, like alcoholism and drug addiction, series of catastrophes, and so on and so forth.

A new heroic effort is called for now to pull the country out of its crisis and to clear the way for progress through perestroika. All this is taking place because "internationalists" refuse to acknowledge the traditions and the life-style of the people or the land, which is not at all dear to them (how much of our best flood lands have sunk under water forever!) nor with the man himself. Are Russians at the GOSPLAN capable of thinking up a scheme to ensure workers' wages from the sale of alcohol? No. This is the historically well-known shadow of a publican robbing and turning people into drunkards.

And the degradation of theater, the proliferation of rock music, the charlatanism in painting? And desertion to enemy countries US and Israel and an almost triumphant return!

No, let us not be "at the leading edge," let us not be so hasty in our decisions, we shall not experiment with the most precious thing we hold so dear: our motherland.7

What is this mysterious Jewish system of values that is capable of penetrating the programming sphere and that the intellectuals fear so much? It is the parity of man and God in the Jewish mentality.

The values inherent in the Jewish mentality reflect the concept of parity between the Jew and the forces of the universe. This quality of the Jewish outlook is especially vivid in Judaism. It is reasonable to think that this religion agrees with the Jewish mentality: it is doubtful that there could fail to be a lack of a strong correlation between the type of mentality and the chosen religion. It follows from the most sacred source of the Jewish faith the Torah that man is comparable with God as the master of the universe. In fact, it follows that this Jewish trait should be understood in the broad sense, that is, not only with respect to God, but also with respect to the environment, including the leaders of state.

An opposite to the Jewish system of values could be based on two extremes: either the subordination of man to the forces governing him (be it God, a leader, or both) or the superiority of man over the forces of the universe. Most religions and ideologies profess the first kind of attitude; in fact, I know of no other religion which claims any kind of equality between man and God. A system of values proclaiming man's superiority to the forces of nature corresponds to communist ideology in its pure form. But its actual implementation in many countries is accompanied by the instituting of authoritarian regime, which is prone to the dangers of transforming into an ideology directed at subjugating man to the forces governing him, that is, an ideology fundamentally foreign to a great number of Jews.

To substantiate my point regarding the Jewish system of values I want to quote some passages from the Torah.

Authors of the Torah had a concept of man as created in God's image and after God's likeness.8 God Himself is presented not as a frozen omnipotent and omniscient force, but as an evolving entity. Man, endowed with creative powers and free will, expands God's power. It is by the people and through the people that God implements the subsequent development of the universe.

Moreover, the role of man is so great that God stands on a par with some chosen ones and concludes a covenant with them. According to the covenant, God promises to multiply the nation coming from Abraham and make Abraham the father of many peoples; in return a Jew agrees to obey God's commandment obliging all Jewish makes to be circumcised.

In principle, a contract between an omnipotent God and man can turn into a pure formality introduced purely for demagogic purposes. For instance, in the U.S.S.R., enterprise management makes a yearly contract with the union, a contract that is supposed to reflect the interests of the workers. But this contract is really an empty formality, since the unions are under the complete control of the government, which is this case is represented by the party and the managerial body.

A sufficient condition for a genuine contract between man and God is that is be based on God's acceptance of His own imperfection, on the one hand, and the greatness of man and man's indispensability for God as an independent force, on the other. Moreover, the contract becomes ever-more feasible if a certain equality, physical as well as intellectual, is established between the two sides.9

Man's physical strength is affirmed in the legend about the struggle between Jacob and God.10 God could not overcome man in this struggle but could only inflict a minor wound: "and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint." And God said to Jacob: "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed."11

"And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."12

Whatever the interpretation of this passage is, even assuming that Jacob struggled not with God but with an angel, Man still was physically on an equal footing with a heavenly force.

Man's intellectual comparability with God is affirmed by the authors of the Torah in the most general terms in the description of Adam after he tastes from the Tree of Knowledge: Adam even becomes intellectually equal to God. What distinguished Adam from God is that Adam is mortal; Go banished Adam from the garden of Eden so he would not taste from the Tree of Life and become immortal.

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden."13

The authors of the Torah tell other stories confirming the intellectual comparability between man and God. When God was enraged at the disobedience of the Jewish people during their stay in the dessert and decided to annihilate them and replace them with another nation originating from Moses, Moses argues with God and persuades Him to preserve the people.

And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by daytime in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of they mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word."14

The Jewish attitude toward God as an equal force (in some sense), the defiance and rejection of idols, all find an explicit manifestation in the Torah in a very critical attitude toward the leaders of state. Evidence for this can be found in the sermons concerning the future king of the Jews in the Promised Land addressed to the Jews during their plight in the desert.

When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;

Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: for as much as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days and his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel."15

All in all, it follows from the preceding discussion that anti-Semitism can hardly be overcome, that the Jews will for various reasons be incompatible with at least a great number of the surrounding peoples.

I want to note in passing that the category of compatibility as a general systems phenomenon is rather unresearched. Medical science achieved major progress in this area, both theoretical and practical, only in this century. I mean the classification of compatible blood groups essential in blood transfusions; organ transplants accomplished first by donor selection and then by the subsequent integration of the transplanted organ with the host by means of medicine, and so on. Still, the problem of compatibility is one of the least-researched areas of medical science, not to speak of psychology or the social sciences. These observations apply equally well to the problem of the compatibility of different ethnic groups.

How can the "Jewish problem" be solved under these circumstances?

 

 

Way of Dealing with the Jewish Problem

 

 

First I want to make some methodological remarks. The solution of the Jewish problem, that is, the preservation of the Jews as an ethnic entity, has many aspects to it. I want to examine this issue within the framework of the more general problem in which the Jewish problem is immersed.16 The general categories to be prioritized are at least the following:
1. humanity
2. the Jewish race
3. the Jewish state
4. the Jewish family
5. the Jew as an individual.
Assigning priorities to these categories, simple combinatorics shows that there are 120 five factorial possible combinations. There exist 120 different groups of people (of course, different in size) distinct in terms of their system of priorities. For instance, one group would place development of the Jew as an individual at the forefront, then the Jewish family, the Jewish state, the Jewish race in fourth place, and mankind in fifth Place. Another group might assign top priority to mankind, and then in receding order to the Jewish race, the Jewish state, the Jewish family, and the Jew as an individual. All these differences manifest themselves at a very practical level, splitting Jewish public opinion right down the line. As far as Jewish emigration from the U.S.S.R. is concerned, the first group will assume interest primarily in those Jews who emigrate to Israel, perhaps even thinking it blameworthy to help Jews not going to Israel; next they will evaluate the Diaspora Jews in terms of the latter's views and willingness to extend help to Jews not going to Israel; finally they will be strongly opposed to sending Israeli invitations to non-Jews desiring to leave the Soviet Union through that channel. The second group will proceed to resolve the problem first by advocating for human rights in general, viewing human rights as a major avenue for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union; second, they will defend the right of a Jew from the Soviet Union to settle in the country of his choice; next, they will encourage Jews to go to Israel; then they will support Jewish upbringing in Jewish families, and finally they will help an individual Jew to maintain his Jewish identity (by giving him the necessary books, for instance).

It is impossibly to say which of these 120 groups is right. I believe all of them are needed. Nevertheless, a specific historical situation may call for the advancement of a particular group as being more conducive to expanding the variety of ethnic groups comprising mankind.

So, let us for the sake of definiteness proceed to analyze the Jewish problem from the general to the specific and examine some major issues within this framework.

First of all, I want to note that I am a proponent of the concept of that a diversity of ethnic groups is essential and that the Jewish problem must be solved by preserving the Jewish race as a distinct ethnic group. I understand that I cannot prove the validity of my point of view. However, I reject the opposite point of view that all ethnic groups ought to be mixed together and that assimilation is the true path, for general philosophical considerations.

It can be said that differentiation is the chief direction of development; integration accompanies this process. It is of course very tempting to integrate on the basis of homogeneity, of unification. However, such a system cannot develop and, in the end, would not be able to grow or survive. At least, in the past such systems have failed to grow or survive, whether unorganized or organized, social worlds. It can be supposed that this will also hold true for the future, if only because on the one hand, no system can completely anticipate the future, and because on the other hand, one can function optimally in an undistinguished world, preserving variety and the possibility of changing proportions between objects, depending on the situation that arises.

Current achievements in the field of genetics substantiate the opinions of conservative scientists that genetic features predispose one to a certain culture but do not determine it. Interesting in this regard is the book by Charls Lumsden and Edward Wilson, Genes, Mind, and Culture, in which the authors claim "the first attempt to trace the development of genes through cultural consciousness." Their conception "is constructed in such a manner as to include all types of cultural systems, beginning with the protocultures of macaques and chimpanzees, up to modern human culture, as well as cultures that can be born only in the imagination.17

Naturally, when speaking of genes and culture, one must be extremely cautious, as it is easy to get wrapped up in all kinds of primitive racial theories. Firstly, it must be remembered that certain genes influence a person's character, which, in turn, creates a predisposition to a certain culture, but does not strictly determine it. Further, from an evolutionary point of view it is advisable to observe the presence of the entire developing diversity of the genetic structure and the diversity of cultures of undifferentiated value that correlate with them as an initial unit. From a global, evolutionary point of view the preservation and multiplication of both a diversity of genes and a diversity of cultures is of principal importance.

Advocating variety in the given sense, I propose the no object within this variety can be compare with another. Only in a concrete situation and from a certain point of view can such a comparison be accomplished and can the importance of the object be ascertained. But such a comparison is only a point in time, and the dominant issue remains the preservation of diversity.18 I understand that of itself, the preservation of diversity embodies a threat. The attempt to preserve a particular ethnic group requires extremely guarded relations with other ethnic groups, if only in order guard against mass intermingling, as the intentions of another group with a different set of values are not always clear. Clearly, it is here that we observe the biological roots for the wariness of certain ethnic groups towards others.

The problem of preserving diversity becomes particularly complicated, given the mechanism of selection, because the process of selection focuses on the search for the best in a given situation. The selection mechanism may turn out to be so strict that it may at times even destroy diversity. The presence of a variety of ethnic groups and their inequality in the face of conditions brought on by a certain historical situation may, because of selection, lead individual groups to strive for exclusiveness. This is a particular danger for large nations, in which chauvinism may become a threat to the existence of humanity. Therefore, I have a certain degree of understanding for the arguments of those who advocate an intermingling of peoples. Nevertheless, considering the arguments I have introduced in the beginning of this chapter, it appears to me that the solutions to the problems of humanity lie in the preservation of a variety of ethnoses as biological and sociocultural groups,19 and the augmentation of this variety of ethnic groups through their successful integration, not unification.

From this point of view, it is essential to resolve the Jewish problem by preserving the ethnic group. Indeed, acknowledging the necessity for a manifold of ethnic groups does not determine how they should be organized. The preservation of the Jewish race poses questions regarding its spatial structuring. In the extreme, an ethnic group can either be scattered throughout the world or be concentrated in one region. In general, the existence of a home territory does not exclude the possibility of living in other areas. Neither does it close the question of what the proportions between the populations in the home territory and the peripheries. In other words, here arises a well-known problem of the Jewish state versus the diaspora. The problem defies an unequivocal solution, for neither alternative can be proved to be the test.

I do not know the critical size of the home territory or the critical number of people that would in effect reduce the role of the Diaspora to zero. In principle, the presence of statehood for a given ethnic group does not at all mean that...all eggs should be put in one basket."

I realize that acknowledging the need for Diaspora is subject to strong criticism, for it create the danger of Jewish annihilation, especially at times when host countries experience troubles and look for a scapegoat to appease the native population. In principle, such appeasement can take place in any country. For instance, scapegoating in the Soviet Union, which proclaimed the most favorable conditions for the preservation of the Jewish race, has led to many tragedies.

Furthermore, there is a danger that the Jews in the Diaspora will be assimilated with the native population. Moreover, my defense of the Diaspora is inadvertently colored by the personal desire to justify my decision to live in the Diaspora.

Still, I risk thinking that there are considerations in favor of combining statehood and the Diaspora, particularly if the territory of the state is not very large and it is surrounded by a very hostile environment.20 These considerations include the financial help extended to the Jewish state by the Jews living in wealthy countries; the influence of the Jewish lobbies in establishing friendly relations with Israel, and so on and so forth. For instance, according to Theodor Mommsen's History of Rome, the strength of Judea was that the Jews had, together with their own state, major settlements in the most developed cities of the day: Alexandria and Rome.

The danger of assimilation of the Jews in the Diaspora is not so clear-cut. The assimilation process in one group of Jews in the Diaspora is accompanied by the strengthening of the sense of ethnic identity in another, especially prominent with the appearance of the Jewish state. Of course, the ratio between these two groups varies from country to country. Perhaps, in free countries where Jews are not afraid to show their ethnic origin, those rejecting assimilation and strengthening their ethnic background comprise the greater share of the Jewish population. This is visible in the United States, where one can scarcely doubt the growth in interest in Judaism among Jewish youth in the past 30 years.

The Soviet leadership has done everything possible in order to assimilate the Jews. As early as the middle of the 1930s Jewish schools were closed in central Russia, and after the Second World War they were closed in the Ukraine and Byelorussia. At the end of the 1940s, the central Jewish publishing house and the newspapers that it published were destroyed, as were Jewish theaters and such. The more well-known Jewish writers and poets were arrested and killed in Stalinist torture chambers.

Nevertheless, the complete assimilation of the Jews was not accomplished. This is because the assimilation processes of one group of the Jewish population were accompanied by an increase in the ethnic self-awareness of another, reinforced by the presence of a Jewish government and world Judaism. However, the main reason why the assimilation of Jews in the U.S.S.R. has been unsuccessful is because of the presence of strong anti-Semitic tendencies in the country.

Thus, in the past several decades the growth of Jewish youth's interest in Judaism can hardly be doubted. I call this latest phenomenon "the double pyramid effect": It is usually believed that the older generation, the grandfathers and grandmothers, are more conservative and religious, and more closely preserve their ethnic heritage. Their children are usually less inclined toward this, and their grandchildren become complete atheists with no regard for their heritage. In the meantime, we see the opposite tendency. The grandfathers and grandmothers of today, having grown up under the conditions of the assimilators' ideas and having been fertilized by the anti-Semitic mood of the masses, were led to forget their Jewish heritage. They attempted to solve their problems by rejecting the ideas of their Jewish-oriented parents. But they still cherished a hope of adapting to the milieu of their fathers. Their grandchildren, to a large extent, understood the illusion of such methods of problem solving. Thus the pyramid is upside-down---there is the tendency that its tip will again be Judaism.

Let me put forth some thoughts on the attempt to generalize the history of the Jews in the Diaspora.

There arise four possible combinations generated by two factors: the degree of hostility of the environment toward the Jews, and the size of the Jewish population. In rather simplistic terms, the degree of hostility can be denoted as either strong or weak, and the size of the population as either sufficient or insufficient in having the critical mass to preserve the Jewish identity.

Under favorable surroundings but with the size of the population small (in a sense of lacking the critical mass needed to maintain distinct identity), Jews dissolve among the native peoples. This is what happened with the old Jewish settlements in China. Despite hostility from the environment, Jews in sufficient numbers can preserve their ethnicity for a limited period of time. An example of this situation are the Jews of Spain during the time of the Inquisition, when they managed to survive as Marranos. Perhaps this is also true for Russian Jews, especially if we account for the emigration of the active part of the Jews having Jewish identity. The combination of favorable conditions and sufficient size is evident in Jewish communities in England, the United States, and some Latin American countries. Nevertheless, the historical perspective of this experience is too narrow to make any definite conclusions about the prospects of the Jews in these countries. A hostile environment in conjunction with a small population practically leads to the disappearance of the Jews. Modern-day Poland is an example of this situation.

All this leads me to conclude that the Jewish problem probably defies solution if the Jews want to stay an independent ethnic group in a foreign country. It means that there is the need for a Jewish state.

It is stressed in the Torah that the Jewish people ought to have a land of their own, and God promises this and leads them to the land of Canaan.

Of course, the last thesis may be disputed. The Jews survived in the Diaspora, as did the Gypsies (who had no land of their own) and the Armenians. But past experience, both of the Jew and non-Jews, is no guarantee for the future. The lack of statehood could, in certain critical situation be fatal for a particular ethnic group, especially with the development of inexpensive means of mass destruction and the imbalance between the strength of the armed killers and their defenseless victims.

I further believe that statehood is a necessary (but perhaps insufficient) condition for the stable long-run maintenance of an ethnic institutions stemming from it. History show that without statehood and without their own territory, Jews have repeatedly become the objects of oppression, ranging from attempts at their direct physical annihilation (at times very successful) to their expulsion from the country where they lived. It is enough to recall the Torah to illustrate this. Some rulers even invited Jews to live their lands and created favorable conditions for them to do so. But then, when the Jews became strong and began to play a noticeable role in the country's growth, at best they were asked to leave and at worst, attempts were made to exterminate them.

Thus "Abraham dwelt in the land of the Philistines many years as a stranger."21 He lived there in peace under King Abimelech. Then, in the days of famine, Abraham's son Isaac, came to the land of the Philistines. He was received joyously. Isaac flourished in his affairs.

And the man waxed great and he grew more and more until be became very great: he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household, so that the Philistines envied him. And the Philistines stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac: Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence.22

Joseph, who ended up by Egypt by accident, was singled out by Pharaoh. Joseph's fame was great and he did much for the flourishing of Egypt and the strengthening of Pharaoh. When Joseph informed Pharaoh that his, Joseph's, father and brothers had come to Egypt,

Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph saying: Thy father and thy brothers are come unto thee; the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brothers to settle; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my livestock.23

After Joseph died, the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people: Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass that there befallenth us a war, they then join themselves unto our enemies and fight against us, and gain ascendancy over the land.24

Then Pharaoh charge all his people, saying, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the River.25

The end of this story is well known. Jews succeeded in leaving Egypt, overcoming enormous difficulties in the process and under the threat of complete disappearance.

The "Joseph Model," as Professor Boris Moishezon termed it, is instructive through and through. It has been frequently replayed; in just this century, quite successfully in Germany, the U.S.S.R., and Poland. Who know where it will flare up next?

Thus I share the opinion of those who believe that a Jewish state is needed. I also agree with those who had already realized by the end of the nineteenth century that it is needed now. There was time when God promised Abraham the Land of Canaan for the great nation that shall spring from him. But God said that the time has not come yet, that three hundred years are needed "for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."26 The Holocaust demonstrated the validity of the Zionist perspective that the time for establishing a Jewish state had arrived.

Let us further assume that all my arguments in favor of combining the Diaspora with the Jewish state are wrong, and that all Jews ought to live in the Jewish state. There are still difficult problems arising in this connection concerning the creation of such a state.

I anticipate the question of a perplexed reader: "What is all this discussion about the creation of a Jewish state since such a state, namely Israel, already exists?"

Indeed I share the opinion of those who believe that a Jewish state is needed, and needed now. I also share the opinion of those who see in Israel the best solution to this question at present (more on this point later.) However, I cannot consider this solution the only possible one as far as solving the problem of Jewish statehood as a whole is concerned.

The establishment of a Jewish state could go in at least three different directions: with a view to the past, the present, or the future.

With a view to the past, the establishment of a Jewish state is linked with Israel, the land of our ancestors, the Promised Land. This great idea managed to grab hold of millions of Jews and to succeed. In 1948 Israel was created. In a short period of time, Israel established a democratic system (in spite of a hostile environment and frequent wars), introduced its own agriculture and industry, and put together the pride of Israel: one of the best armies in the world. This is just one more proof that the potential of this nation is so great as to be able to handle new fields that for ages were thought of as foreign to the Jewish people.

On the road to realizing this idea enormous difficulties were encountered, because the state was created among hostile Arabs supplied with modern weaponry by the great powers. Israel, even if it gathered all the Jews, would be hard pressed to produce all the various kinds of modern weapons in quantities sufficient to rebuff possible Muslim bloc countries; the size of the territory makes Israel even more vulnerable.

Take into account that the Arab countries have a culture that predisposes them toward authoritarian regimes and rather awkward economic development and aggression; their economic prosperity is ephemeral, for it hinges on the abundance of one natural resource: oil.27 Israel, on the other hand, possesses a culture predisposed toward pluralistic democracy and its counterpart, effective economic development and a peaceful foreign policy. Therefore, Israel will, for a long time, represent and unpleasantly successful model for Arab countries.28 The military dependence of little Israel on a great power in an age of advanced armaments will remain strong, yet great powers have their own interests and may sacrifice their satellites for the sake of these.

Economic problems and the military danger aggravate the problem of attracting and keeping Jews in Israel when they are not faced with any immediate danger in the Diaspora. These problems complicated the everyday lives of Israelis and make the task of combining this everyday life with a general attachment to the great idea of statehood significantly more difficult.

Looking toward the present, a Jewish state could be created by the purchase of land (I believe projects were made to buy land in Kenya, Canada, or elsewhere). However, the idea of creating a Jewish state by this means was not realized further, because there was no tradition to uphold it. For this reason, aggravated by the difficulties of existing in what might well be a hostile environment,) the set of solutions to the problem of Jewish statehood through Jewish autonomy within the borders of an existing great power is unacceptable. It should first of all be noted that the large democratic countries do not have such autonomous national entities: these countries primarily develop a culture innate to that country. If an ethnic group with its own history, and especially its own land, happens for some reason to be situated in the territory of such a country, it separated into an independent state; an example of this is the separation of Norway from Sweden. Autonomous national entities do exist in authoritarian empires, but their stability always hangs by a thread because the government nation attempts to assimilate them for the purpose of controlling them (it is good to have unity of language and culture) as well as for the purpose of preventing separatist movements. Therefore, even if Soviet Jews had received the Crimea instead of Birobidzhan because it is still within the totalitarian Soviet Union, life would nevertheless have been unbearable there. Moreover, autonomy within authoritarian empires can be revoked at any time.

With a view toward the future, a Jewish state could be created using pioneering ideas based on new technological means. Let's say, for example, a state could be established on floating artificial island, with inexpensive thermonuclear energy drawing a unlimited water resources. Already today, on a small scale, such artificial islands are used for the extraction of oil, and it has been suggested that they might be built in the coastal water of Japan and Saudi Arabia on a larger scale. But maintaining the equilibrium of large-scale floating artificial islands would require a lot of energy.

Other fantastic ideas of a Jewish state speak of Jews settling in space.29 This method is perhaps fraught with even more difficulties, in view of the problems of adapting human physiology to prolonged stays in outer space.

These kinds of outrageous ideas draw on the Jewish pioneering spirit and might be attractive for a number of Jews who have actively joined in civilization. Recall that the Jewish pioneering spirit has a long history, perhaps longer than the idea of the Promised Land. If we study the biblical history of the Jews, then it's clear (naturally in the sense of a hypothesis) that the Jews have been carriers of innovative ideas. Moishezon's series of articles entitled "The Riddles of Ancient Civilizations" in the journal People and Land nos. 1, 2, 3, is enormously interesting in this connection. Let me just cite one excerpt from this series, reminding the reader that anthropologically Jews belong to the Armenoid type.

Approximately 12,000 years ago sharp changed in the life of people of the earth began. The first dwellings appeared and the first fortified settlements, as well as decorations and rock vessels. The first steps were taken toward agriculture and animal husbandry. Archaeologists call these events the "Neolithic revolution." The beginning of the neolithic revolution is now connected with the so-called Natufisk culture on the territory of Israel. There the first city was found, the town of Jericho.

Contemporary data on the development of the Neolithic and subsequent cultures so that, viewed as a whole, it was a process which was constantly expanding in time and scope. New hearths arose and vanished, but in the course of time the Neolithic revolution encompassed all new areas. First northern Mesopotamia and the southern regions of Anatolia, Greece, and the Balkans, and later the Trans-Caucasus, western and northern Iran, southern Tukmenia and southern Mesopotamia were included. From about the seventh century b.c. in Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia, cultures began to develop in which pottery and the beginning elements of metallurgy can be found. These cultures correspond to the so-called Halkolite epoch. From them, once again waves of progress spread to the west, east, and south.

The next archaeological period is the Bronze Era (from 4000 b.c.) which it seems, undisputably had its source in the Gassul-Beersheva culture and the subsequent cultural centers of northern Syria, Sumer, and the Caucasus. An analogous picture is drawn as well from analysis of the archaeological and ancient written record of the so-called Iron Age (from about 1200 b.c.). Aside from the spatial and temporal continuity of the development begun by the Neolithic revolution, archaeologist have found a variety of further links and coincidences of style in cultures separated from one another, in addition to simultaneity in a number of significant changes and innovations. It sometimes seems that the process of humankind's progress was only locally determined by freedom of choice and coincidences, but as a whole was as if coordinated and directed. Such an almost mystical sensation can be made rational if we assume the presence of a certain continuity and connection with some stable portion of the active human element, which intuitively goes beyond the unanimated evidences of archeology.

The evidences of ancient sculpture described earlier and the deformation of skulls as early as Neolithic times, as well as the anthropological correlation between metallurgical centers, simply and clearly point in only one direction: the stable portion in the process of cultural evolution in the Neolithic and subsequent eras, that which determined their continuity and connection, was a people anthropologically belonging to the Armenoid type. Moreover, the Armenoid representation of kings and gods and the connection between the Armenoid deformed heads with their conception of nobility makes a still-stronger assumption highly likely. In very ancient times (approximately from 10,000 years b.c.) the Armenoids were one and the same as the upper class, at least in the central part of the Near Eastern cultural center, and their expansion basically corresponded with the process of that center's widening.30

I have briefly described the arguments for and against the creation of a Jewish state according to three possible criteria. In summary the idea of founding a Jewish state based on the first criterion, a view toward the past, succeeded because it was based on a very powerful tradition and, moreover, was technically attainable. The second criterion, the view to the present, apparently failed because in it there was no cementing idea flowing either from the past or toward the future (but connected with the past), and the pragmatism of the present prevailed. The third criterion, a view toward the future, may have a potential for survival from the point of view of exploiting tradition, but it must first of all become technically feasible. Thus for example, for floating islands in open waters cheap energy is needed in great quantities. Controlled thermonuclear reaction is a potential source of unlimited cheap energy from independent (in the sense of not belonging to anybody) water. But alas! How many more years will it be until this is possible? Scientists put the earliest date in the twenty-first century.

Thus, only the first path to creating a Jewish state remains realistic; the one that was realized. Furthermore, assume that the Jewish State of Israel is the sole solution to the problem and that all Jews, that is, all Jews not wanting to assimilate, must live in Israel. How can one organize a mass exodus of Jews from the Diaspora to Israel, if they are not yet faced with a critical situation in Diaspora countries?

It is extremely difficult for me, not having been born in Israel and not possessing deep roots there, and with the opportunity to live under favorable conditions in the Diaspora, to move to country that is a besieged fortress requiring toughness of spirit from the newly arrived and enormous faith in the possibility of a long-term blossoming of Israel. The immigration of Jews to Israel requires time: time to change the psychology of the people---a factor as objective as their situation in the Diaspora.

The Torah contains many deep reflection on the psychology of Jews faced with radical decisions. When God led the Jews out of Egypt to the Promised Land, he could have, brought them immediately by way of a short path through the land of the Philistines. Another path was chosen and here is what the Torah has to say on this point: "Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, 'The people may have changed of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.' So God led the people round-about, by way of the wilderness at the Sea of Reeds."31

As everyone knows, it took the Jewish people forty years to walk through the wilderness to the Promised Land. This was a punishment to all who had scorned God. They were frightened by difficulties, since they had grown up in Egypt in slavery; they were afraid of enemies; they had tasted the benefits of the good life, which they had had before the arrival of the last Pharaoh. Torah speaks on this point:

Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me.

Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.

But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness.

And your children shall wander in the wilderness for forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness.

After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.32

 

 

Conclusion

 

This is not to excuse myself from the moral guilt for leaving the U.S.S.R. on an Israeli visa and yet not going to Israel.

It was my right to leave the Soviet Union and go to any other country that I liked and that was prepared to accept me. But the entire question was how to emigrate. There is an ugliness in much an emigration first of all because it was accomplished through a lie. Of course, much can be said to justify my decision on this point. First of all, the ban on lying is not one of the Ten Commandments (the Torah mentions the unacceptability of lying only in the book of Leviticus, 19:11): and how much our forefathers lied, especially in foreign lands.33 But for me, a lie is a lie regardless of its purpose. And if a man is too weak and happens to lie, he should not justify it but repent.

In leaving the U.S.S.R., I also used the slogans under which a group of steadfast Soviet Jews began the campaign for permission to emigrate to their historical homeland, to the Jewish state. They could resoundingly say to me: Why didn't you organize your own movement for emigration from the U.S.S.R. but not to Israel? It seems to me that such a question has serious foundations.

The Soviet leaders were not allowing Jews to go to Israel. They were cynically selling Jews, who were regarded as government property34 to the U.S. in exchange for détente and the benefits arising thereby. Of course, formally it was more comfortable for the Soviet leaders to permit the Jews to go to Israel. It gave them the opportunity to deprive those emigrating of Soviet citizenship even before they left, and so to avoid all kinds of trouble that the emigrants could cause it they should want to return or to visit friends or relatives in the U.S.S.R.

This revocation of citizenship played upon public opinion, for the revocation was dependent on emigration to a state with whom the U.S.S.R. did not have diplomatic relations.35 In the eyes of other Soviet peoples having their historic homeland within the borders of the Soviet state, the emigration of Jews to Israel justified Jews' right to emigrate (as it did for Germans; Armenian emigration was explained by the fact that they were not born in the U.S.S.R. but was brought there by their parents after the Second World War). Moreover, if Lithuanians or Ukrainians wanted to leave, the government could always claim that these were within the boundaries of the U.S.S.R., and that if they want to reunite with their countrymen then they may be invited to return to their homelands in the U.S.S.R.

Fortunately, starting in October 1989, Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union has taken a different course. While still in the Soviet Union, Jews are now allowed to specify the country where they wish to emigrate. Presently, new problems have confronted the Soviet Jewry. Fearing unrest stemming from worsening economic conditions, nationalistic unrest in the republics, and the possibility of Jewish pogroms, the number of Jews who want to emigrate right away has risen dramatically, perhaps of the order of two hundred thousand. The problem now is which countries can and are willing to take these people in such huge numbers.

What conclusions are to be drawn from all that has been said? The reader should once more reexamine his views on the place of Jews in the world, should try to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of various conceptions guiding a Jew in preserving his ethnicity of choosing his country of habitat. But in any case, whatever his personal choice is, let it not be regarded as the sole possible path for solving such a complex problem.


Notes and References


  9

 

The Solzhenitsyn Phenomenon

 

 

I want to conclude this part of the book with a short chapter devoted to Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.  His art, it seems to me, synthesizes our discussion of the two previous sections. I regard Solzhenitsyn as a Russophile of nationalistic variety, meaning that he considers the values of the Russian people to be diametrically opposed to Western values.  In addition, he shares the anti-Semitic views of those who hold the Jews to be at the root of all Russia's misery.

In my opinion, some of the most interesting criticism of Solzhenitsyn, revealing his contradictory nature, comes from the pen of Alexander Yanov.  I therefore chose to present my views of Solzhenitsyn as a critical review of Yanov's ideas.  Our discussion here will be limited to Yanov's latest thoughts on the subject, expounded in the Russian version of his book Russian Ideas and the Year 2000.[91]

This book contains the result of many years' reflections on the fate of Russia, the future of its peoples, on Russia's attitudes toward the West, and so on, as well as observations on the role the russophiles play in the resolution of these issues.  Probably one of the most interesting issues raised by Yanov in this book is the theme of Solzhenitsyn:  it occupies more that one-sixth of the book.  In analyzing the work of Solzhenitsyn, Yanov concentrates on past and present ideals common to all russophiles and on the specific ideals characteristic of certain circles.  Not all of Solzhenitsyn's ideas are shared by other russophiles, and a few of them, as for example his suggestion that the empire should be disperse, even generate animosity.  Russophiles who wish to preserve the empire, or even to preserve Russia alone, cannot concur with Solzhenitsyn that it would have been advantageous for Russia, surrounded as it is by industrial and industrializing nations (especially such a forbidding enemy as China), to become an agrarian nation.  (I do not wish to exaggerate the role of these differences of opinion.  The views of extremists before they come into power can differ markedly from the more sober views that they may adopt after gaining power.  Thus it was the Bolsheviks, for example, who before the Revolution were the most blatant critics of the Russian empire, which they claimed represented the imprisonment of the masses.  Not long after the Revolution, however, they did everything possible in order to preserve and even to expand the Russian empire.)  What's more, the basic political orientation of Solzhenitsyn's works harmonizes with the needs of today's russophiles, and is at least close to them in the method of reiterating the past views of slavophiles.

Yanov makes use of a special literary device in order to illustrate the close ties between Solzhenitsyn's views and the views of the slavophiles of the past century.  First, Yanov quotes Solzhenitsyn and Aksakov, a nineteenth-century slavophile with corresponding references.  Here's the text of the quotes:

You (the leaders of the U.S.S.R.) have unshakable power, a strong, separate closed party, the army, the police, industry, transport and communications systems, mineral and petroleum resources, a monopoly on foreign trade, control of the value of the ruble---but let the people breathe, think and develop![92]  "The people want one thing for themselves:  the freedoms of life, spirit, and speech.  Because they do not interfere in state power, they do not wish the state to interfere in the independent life of their spirit."[93] 

Then Yanov writes:

Doesn't this tirade sound as if it had been written by one person?  Only the first part, by the way, belongs to Solzhenitsyn.  The second part was addressed to completely different leaders at a completely different time.  One-hundred-thirty years ago, Konstantin Aksakov recommended to the leader of the orthodox government the same thing that Solzhenitsyn recommends to the Soviet leaders:  Take for yourselves complete power, but give the people complete freedom.  The people will not interfere in politics---Aksakov and Solzhenitsyn promise---they only want to "breathe, think, and develop" freely.[94]

As Solzhenitsyn has admitted and as Yanov has later shown, slavophilism has a typical fundamentalist, anti-Western character.  These views are not only the prerogative of Russia/U.S.S.R.;  they exist and even flourish in several other countries.

It is probably even insulting to Solzhenitsyn, the greatest Russian writer of this century, that he's called "Ayatollah Solzhenitsyn".  But is this really unfair?  Solzhenitsyn's program, which he repeatedly announces ("Letter to the Leaders of the Soviet Union," a speech at Harvard,) and with his literary works of recent years differ very little from Khomeini's views before his ascension to power.  What Solzhenitsyn would do if he became the ruler of Russia, the spiritual leader, is not very difficult to guess.

Solzhenitsyn-esque fundamentalism and anti-Western sentiment, which are the keystones of his view of the world, emerge most clearly in his conviction that, in the urban, industrial path of Western development, the true path of Russia's development lies in the people's return to the soil.  Unfortunately, Yanov, concentrating on the more important aspects of Solzhenitsyn-esque fundamentalism, fails to bring out this point with adequate emphasis.  In my view, without a rather precise understanding of this point it becomes more difficult to understand the intricacies of Solzhenitsyn's view of the world and the reasons underlying his anti-Western bent, regardless of whether Solzhenitsyn himself expresses these views distinctly or indistinctly (explicitly or implicitly).  I will therefore mention that Western development has been extroverted, that is, focused on the attainment of individual happiness mainly through social changes based on scientific and technological progress, and on the dynamics of the social organization of society.  This of course presupposes the development of the individual;  the primacy of the individual is recognized.  In other words, society exists for the individual, the individual does not exist for society (this will surely grate on my Russian-speaking readers).  We are talking about the development of the individual, not of the egotist;  that is, about the development of the human being who also recognizes others as human beings, and who does not view them simply as "cogs in the wheel" existing only in order to play out his whims.

In contrast to the course of Western development is introversion, with a focus on the internal development of the individual.  This course is naturally associated with conservative production and an immobile political system.

The complexity of the situation lies in that the conservative position has a valid point.  It has hardly been proven that a nation's focus on its industrial development is the only true path.  Technical progress can lead to uncontrollable consequences not only in connection with environmental pollution, the potential destruction of humanity from nuclear missiles, or its potential incineration by lasers installed on satellites.  The danger of technological progress hails from the impossibility of proving that significant technical achievements will be used for the good of humanity:  we say that research on the acceleration of subatomic particles will not lead to a global conflagration, that discoveries in genetic engineering will not yield ubiquitous invisible monsters, and that computers will not lead to the development of humanity on some blind course, but we cannot guarantee it.  More than two thousand years ago the Indians understood the danger of technical progress, and built a civilization that rejected technical development and focused on the individual's internal development.

In saying this, I do not wish to refute the expediency of an industrial course of development.  I simply wish to say that one should not be so ambitious and arrogant as to believe that the Western model of the development of civilization is the only feasible one.

On the other hand, one should not suppose that the introverted, "rural" course of development is the only true one.  The absence of scientific and technological progress leads not only to illness and hunger, but in a longer time-frame, it threatens the existence of humanity because of possible cosmic catastrophes.  (In regard to this, I'd like to mention that one of the greatest contributions of Russian philosophers and scholars consists of the creation, development, and practical realization of cosmic philosophy.  I have in mind primarily the names of two well-known Russian:  Nikolaj F. Fedorov and Konstantin E. Tsiolkovsky.)

The course of development one or another country elects to follow during one or another period of its history is the choice of the people themselves.  Do the Russian people want to follow Solzhenitsyn's course?  He does not even entertain the thought that the Russian people could choose another course.  He is imbued with the faith that the rural course has been preordained by Russia's fate and history.  As Yanov demonstrates, Solzhenitsyn does not allow for the possibility that the patriotism of the Russian people permits various viewpoints regarding the country's course of development, and that it is impossible to prove or disprove that one of them is true or false from a universal standpoint.

Under these conditions, the pluralistic mechanism, in conjunction with the democratic one, to a large extent supports the people in the free choice of the course of their development and its shifts during times of change.  Richly quoting Solzhenitsyn, Yanov notes that political pluralism is alien to Solzhenitsyn, a profound believer in the existence of a single true path in the development of humanity.  Solzhenitsyn's basis for such views lies in his disregard for philosophical pluralism.  Yanov rightly recalls the words from Solzhenitsyn's article "Our Pluralists," "there is one truth."[95]  It is possible that, in the foreign term "pluralism," at the basis of which lies a conception of the impossibility either of proving or disproving the validity of answers to cardinal questions connected with one or another general course of development, Solzhenitsyn sees undertones of the Russian word pluvat' (literally 'to spit', meaning to degrade or disregard in some negative way).

All of Solzhenitsyn's judgements, as analyzed by Yanov, do not simply concern the reworking of an ideal for the development of Russia.  Yanov analyzes them in a broader sense in critically evaluating Russia's current situation, while also searching for the sources that have led to the present state of affairs.  There is no denying that the Bolshevik Revolution has brought Russia more than a little grief and, in the end, has plunged the country into stagnation.  Everything leads back to the question of where to seek the causes that resulted in the victory of the October Revolution.  The answer to this question is closely interwoven with the matter of where to look in order to find a way out of current difficulties.

Yanov demonstrates in detail that Solzhenitsyn does not view the causes of modern Russia's dilemma as having come from within Russia herself, but rather from the influence of the pernicious West, which introduced a foreign element into Russia:  Western communistic ideas.

Here we can already see the beginning of a tendency to look to Jews as the cause of Russia's misfortune.  In this book, Yanov demonstrates most convincingly that Solzhenitsyn is infected with anti-Semitism.  It is sufficiently clear from the examples of Israel Lazerevich Parvus (whose real name is Gelfand) in Lenin in Zurich, and Dmitry (Mordekxaya, Mordke) Bogrov in The Red Wheel that Solzhenitsyn seeks the diabolical powers that, like dark whirlwinds, have been sent to destroy Russia, primarily in Jews.

Yanov presents a detailed examination of the book Lenin in Zurich in a separate section.  Here, Solzhenitsyn openly says that Lenin was alien to the genuine interests of Russia, that he was only half Russian (he was actually only one-quarter Russian).  Also, Yanov convincingly demonstrates, using numerous references to the book in question, that the primary source of evil was a man who stood behind Lenin, who "according to Lenin's own confession, surpassed him in every aspect."  This man was Parvus.  Properly speaking, Parvus was not even a human being, but, as is evident from the epithets bestowed on him by Solzhenitsyn and quoted by Yanov, a being with "a brilliant behemoth head," "a seismic feeling of inner nature," "a ruthless and inhuman mind," who in addition had "wandered about Europe as Ahasverus for 25 years."  But according to Solzhenitsyn, the Devil can take on various forms.  And so, in The Red Wheel Solzhenitsyn paints a portrait of another Jew, Mordke Bogrov, who, having murdered Russia in the presence of Stolypin, confesses to the "shrill and steady three-thousand-year summons" of his race.[96]

This is how Yanov analyzes Solzhenitsyn's devilization of Bogrov (the figures in parentheses correspond to the volume number of Solzhenitsyn's collected works as published in Paris in 1983, and the page number of the corresponding quotation):

The devilization of Bogrov, if one can express it this way, occurs gradually, is introduced carefully, at first using barely noticeable features.  Here Bogrov hunches over "to crawl silently and unseen between the revolution and the police" (12:124).  After a few more pages his companion suddenly sees him "with his two upper canines elongated, slightly protruding forward when his upper lip was raised during conversation" (12:131).  Again after a few more pages he will creep along a pole:  "a completely smooth one without a notch, without a jag. . . without any support" (12:138), "rubbing against it with his whole body to crawl off into improbability" (12:141).  A page further his similarity to a snake increases:  Bogrov "with a compressed and elongated head always slightly bent to one side, and with lips constantly parted" (12:142).  Neither a forked tongue nor venom is mentioned yet, only "the narrow head, a little to one side" (12:143), only "he bewitches like the singing of a rare bird, neck extended, and at such moments even seems kind to his enemies" (12:144), although---and here the metaphor becomes dangerously candid for the first time---"he wanted only to let fall a drop of enfeebling poison between them" (12:144)

Now there is no doubt in the reader's mind:  before him is a snake.  And Bogrov continues to creep along the fateful pole, "he twisted, writhed" (12:157) with his "bewitching glances, his faintly striped head a little to one side" (12:158).  The author even senses "how the muscular coils are already tired" (12:163).  But all this time "the few drops needed for that fateful moment should be stored up, overflowing---in the mind?  in the gut?  in the tooth" (12:249).  This is how Stolypin sees Bogrov, when the "fateful moment" at last unfolds:  to bite "he moved as if wriggling, thin and long, in a tail-coat, black. . . a long-faced, young Jew" (12:248).  He has bitten, "gliding by on his black back, he ran off" (12:249).  The image of the Jew has merged with the image of the snake.  Is the snake only to be understood in the biblical sense?[97] 

Accusing Jews of being an alien influence is not new for Russia.  Neither is the russophilic bent of an author;  even such great writers as Dostoyevski were not strangers to anti-Semitism.  Theirs was not ordinary anti-Semitism, it was ideological.  The opinion that Dostoyevski's anti-Semitism stemmed from his belief that the Russian masses were God's chosen people is very widespread.  This philosophy turns out to be incompatible with the conception of the chosen people held by Judaism,  a religion which was a precursor of Christianity.

The overglorification of the rural lifestyle, anti-Westernism, anti-Semitism, and monism, which have been discussed above, do not play such a great role in Solzhenitsyn's philosophy, or indeed in the philosophy of slavophiles in general, simply by chance.  On paper, it is relatively easy to criticize the West, Jews, and pluralism and to glorify one's native people.  This is logically associated with a nation's sense of morality:  it is theoretically more difficult to draw parallels between a people's morality and an urban industrial society.  It is not simply by chance that Yanov, again lavishly quoting Solzhenitsyn-esque anti-Western statement, concludes with Solzhenitsyn's quote that "a society in which political parties function cannot increase its morality."

In actuality, Solzhenitsyn and the russophiles perfectly understand the necessity of a revival of morals.  Indeed, without a revival of morals it is difficult to anticipate successful long-term development.  Morality, with its unconditional requirements such as "Thou shalt not murder" and "Thou shalt not steal," provides each individual with a basic notion of proper behavior in light of the unknowable future.  It provides the individual with the opportunity to fashion his moral potential so that he is not caught up in the immediate effects of the moment.  Morality provides (especially to good people) the understanding that one is not meant to know what catastrophic results may be caused by the murder of even one dishonest person in the name of the salvation of a thousand others.

The point, however, is not that democratically oriented groups do not notice the vitally important role of morality.  The people who compose these groups demonstrate higher moral ideals through their own behavior.  Academician Andreg Sakharov and others concerned with the fate of Russia focus primarily on the creation of political and legal conditions that preserve the individual.  The history of humanity has demonstrated that, if political and legal structures guaranteeing the sanctity of the individual are not created, and the individual's fate depends largely on the grace of the leaders, then, even given the most refined structures for maintaining morals, political leaders will not be saints.  An overwhelming majority of leaders will not restrain their power but will suppress the individual and make a slave of him.

Yanov thoroughly observes Solzhenitsyn's evolution and reveals how, repeating the famous tenets of certain russophilic circles, Solzhenitsyn rejects the creation of a political system in which the leaders would be checked by the political participation of the people and reinforced in designated political institutions, and becomes a vehement advocate of an authoritarian regime.  This thought deeply penetrates all of the chapters that Yanov has devoted to analyzing Solzhenitsyn's works.  In particular, Yanov notes that his praise of the authoritarian regime involuntarily leads Solzhenitsyn to the old slavophilic idea of "two freedoms":  internal and external.  Solzhenitsyn, also, believes that one may be dependent politically, but that this is not so important:  it is important to preserve internal independence and spiritual freedom.  In summarizing Yanov's criticism of Solzhenitsyn's views, it can be said that an internal freedom coupled with an external lack of freedom is the ascetic's destiny.  But to build a world assuming that every person can become an ascetic ignores the enormous force exerted by the limitations built into our psychological nature, since the emotional disposition of an individual is largely genetically predetermined to resist slavery;  blessed are those who are free of the predisposition of cultivate in themselves asceticism.

Is stands to reason that if there is only a legal system, and morals are absent, society may wallow in bureaucracy and callousness.  Incalculable paperwork would be created, as people were forced to run back and forth to judges in order to resolve their differences.  Hostility among people would increase although it would take on legal forms.  But a certain remark made by Valery N. Chalidze, a staunch defender of rights, comes to mind:  the greatness of rights is that they create minimal guarantees for the defense of the individual.

Overidealization of the rural lifestyle, and particularly of the fact that it is accompanied by morality, largely determines relations to the intelligentsia and to education in general.  The term obrazovanshchina [a derogatory term for an intellectual with a superfluous education---trans.], demonstrating an extremely negative view of the intelligentsia, was widely used by Solzhenitsyn's quick hand.

Yanov, again using many references to Solzhenitsyn's texts, criticizes his obrazovanshchina in some detail.

In attentively reading obrazovanshchina, it is simply impossible not to notice sentences such as;  "a loss of education is not life's most significant loss, and recommendations on how to create a new "sacrificial elite," a new nucleus of people "reared not so much on libraries, but on moral ordeals."  It turns out that educational qualifications and number of works published are entirely meaningless since we are reaching the people along with "half literate advocates of religion."[98] 

Yanov attempts to reveal the reasons behind Solzhenitsyn's disdain for the intelligentsia and for education.  He finds them in Solzhenitsyn's attempt to negate the existence of a contemporary Russian intelligentsia, because it is oriented in a direction alien to russophiles---that is, in the direction of Europeanization, anti-isolationism, and antimessianism.[99] 

I share Yanov's opinion regarding obrazovanshchina.  But it occurs to me that this phenomenon may have a deeper origin.  Education is a very contradictory process, especially if the education is focused on the natural sciences to the detriment of the humanities and the social sciences.  Actually, in this instance education may promote the destruction of century-old values, as it fosters the opinion that morality as an absolute value is meaningless, that all values are relative to the current situation.  And it must be admitted that the natural sciences may foster the formation of undesirable goals, having acquainted himself with great attainments in the spheres of science and technology, pride may get the better of a person, and it may begin to seem to him that everything is possible.  If a ruralist may create a utopia by calling for simplicity and humility, then an obrazovanshchina may also create a utopia, only with different features, that is, promising paradise on earth with an abundance of goods and the unlimited subjugation of nature.

What's more, an education is the natural sciences, particularly falling on primitive philosophical soil, may promote the formation of quasi-primitive rationalism, since it creates the illusion that everything can be rationally explained and created.  This type of illusion is the best accomplice in creating a utopian paradise on earth based on strict regulation.  Here we already see a step toward the authoritarian regime, which must embody such strict regulation;  democracy cannot do this, because it is too chaotic.  And so Solzhenitsyn unexpectedly closes with those he hated, the communists infected by the West:  the extremes have truly come together!

Thus, Solzhenitsyn is entirely consistent:  overidealization of the peasant, morality, and obrazovanshchina.

But the opposite point of view can also be adopted;  that is, it can be demonstrated that education does not foster only the creation of utopia.  It is precisely a high level of education in the natural sciences that leads to the understanding that not everything is possible, that not only is a perpetual motion machine impossible, but so is a social construction as similar to it as communism is.  (Just as a perpetual motion machine presupposes the absence of hindering forces of friction, so communism suggests that resources are unlimited and will not hamper the creation of an abundance of everything that is needed.)  It is precisely a high level of education that enables one to understand the great idea of God, in the sense that one understands that the most complex mechanisms reveal an order in the development of the inorganic, the organic, and the social worlds, in counterbalance to the oversimplified notions that at the basis of development are only arbitrary changes (although the role of these should not be ignored either).

It is precisely a high level of education that permits an understand of the enormous role of morality as an institution of development an indeterminate world.  We are indebted to the great wisdom of the fathers of American democracy for the creation of a political system, a rarity in its time, that is tolerant of different viewpoints and that provided a haven to Solzhenitsyn.  What would Solzhenitsyn have done without a democratic society?  Would he have died on a cross, another great martyr?  They would not even have given him this---they would have disposed of him on the sly, condemning him to anonymity as authoritarian regimes have done time and time again with people no less talented.

Solzhenitsyn's psychological portrait also emerges from the citations used in the book to analyze his political views.

The impression is created that Solzhenitsyn considers himself a prophet who has come to return Truth to the world.  I have tried to understand the origins of this belief, and have come to the conclusion that they lie in his unusual fate.  Solzhenitsyn served as a military officer during World War II and came out of it alive, when the majority of his fellow officers were killed;  Solzhenitsyn endured Stalinist work camps and remained alive and active, when many others did not survive the camps or were broken by the experience;  Solzhenitsyn survived the cancer ward from whence very few emerge alive;  Solzhenitsyn preserved much that he created during these years, and, under conditions that were not conducive to creativity, he produced new works that earned him fame not only in Russia but the world over.

As a human prophet who knows the Truth, Solzhenitsyn is intolerant of other views.  This intolerance even sometimes leads to conflicts with his own precepts, mainly with his rule that no person should live according to lies.  This may be too sarcastic, but one well-know Soviet dissident noted rather aptly that, in Solzhenitsyn's address, he calls for people not to live according to lies but with rights and also with restrictions.)

I think that Yanov is correct in accusing Solzhenitsyn of not following his own precepts.  Solzhenitsyn claims that, to Yanov, "everything Russian is hateful," and that Yanov "is published only in Young Communist and other even more trivial publications."[100]  I have know Yanov for more that twenty year.  Only rarely does one meet a greater patriot of Russia;  he is a person who is deeply devoted to Russia's interests and who wishes her success.  Yanov certainly considers himself a Russian person, if Russianness is determined not by gene but by participation in the nation's culture (in the broadest sense of the word.)  To me, and I feel that I am a follower of Judaism to a large degree (I mean, of course, in the sense that it is common to all mankind), these characteristics are particularly palpable.  Yanov was not an insignificant journalist in the U.S.S.R.  He has been published in the central press, particularly in the Literary Gazette.  One of the articles he had published in this newspaper, "On the Roads of Smolenshchina," which expresses the pain of central Russia's depopulation, brought him to light as one of the leading Soviet journalists, one of those who are able to express the poignant problems of the country's development in spite of press censorship.  Yanov has been published in New World, a journal that brought Solzhenitsyn fame.  And by the way, as far as I know, Yanov has only published one article in Young Communist.  But is was an unusual article, which enthusiastically circulated from person to person.  The article was dedicated to the great Russian political figure Aleksander Herzen.  Residing in the West, Herzen was not afraid to express his disapproval of Russia's suppression of the insurrection in Poland.

The reader may inquire in bewilderment:  "Is it really so courageous to speak out against Russia while living in the West?"  Yes, this was incredibly courageous of Herzen, because Russia's imperialist action was widely supported by Russian society.  The Russian public considered the great Russian patriot Herzen's statement antipatriotic.  Far away from one's homeland, having given it all your service, one must possess considerable bravery to be rejected bot only by its leaders but by the public as well.

I think that Alexander Yanov also has courage, having thrown down a challenge to the great Russian writer, who does not share the democratic ideals of Russia.  Here is how Yanov himself writes about it:

For the people of Russia (myself included) Solzhenitsyn was (and for many still is) the nation's conscience, a symbol of that of which we ourselves are not capable.  The point here not only concerns artistic talent or legendary courage, the point also lies in the role Solzhenitsyn has played in the spiritual emancipation of the country, and in my own emancipation.  The tragedy consists in this person turning up in the ranks of "the new Russian right."  I am not saying that this fact itself is indicative of the enormous power the tradition of the right has in Russian culture. . .  I want the reader to understand clearly my outlook on Solzhenitsyn.  It is embodied in the following question:  Why has this person who has done so much for me later betrayed me?  And not only betrayed me, but cursed me along with the Russian intelligentsia which he curses?[101] 

I will risk a reply to Yanov's last question.  It seems to me that Solzhenitsyn has not betrayed Yanov.  As a critic of communism, of the godless tyrant Stalin, Solzhenitsyn was perceived by liberal-minded people as their ally.  But criticism of communism and Stalin can of course come from the opposite position, from the position of fundamentalism, which had begun to be observed early in Solzhenitsyn's works.

As  the African saying goes, "if a crocodile eats your enemy, it does not mean that he is your friend."  In general, one should not create idols!

 

 

References


10

General Observations on Soviet Economic Mechanism

 

In my analysis of the Soviet economy I intend to adopt a general systems approach. It will be recalled that a system can be analyze from multilateral perspective.[102] Generally speaking, among the many facets of the system are the function (in the name of what); the institutions between the function and the necessary ingredients (including energy and information) - structure; the transformation of primary ingredients into final product - process; the tools used to implement the process - operator; and the impact of the system's prehistory on all the aspects mentioned above- genesis. In principle, all these aspects are independent variables. This means that if one aspect is fixed others still maintain a certain degree of freedom. Systems vision consists of multifaceted analysis. Unnecessary arguments among scholars in the same field frequently arise as a result of the system being narrowly viewed from a single perspective.

 

 Function, Structure, and General Properties of Soviet Economic Mechanisms

 

The economic system created under Stalin and, in principle, remaining to the present day, was functionally oriented toward the country's expansionist development. The economic system's structure and operating mechanism have been formulated for this purpose. The pervasive impact of militarization on Soviet economy is described in chapter 5.

The economic system designed to fulfill this function exhibits an amazing mixture of economic structures of various types.

 To use Marxist terminology, these structures correspond to economic formations. The top layer of Soviet bureaucrats lead a life that is nearly communist, what with its declared principle "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." Most Soviet urban dwellers live in a quasi socialist universe, otherwise known as the system of state capitalism, which combines the socialist principles of planning, job security, and pay equality with such capitalist institutions as the labor and consumer goods markets. But the Soviet economic system also had aspects of state feudalism, with all sorts of coercive supraeconomic devices to limit the freedom of workers: in 1940, for example, the workers' freedom to change jobs was sharply curtailed. In agriculture, "state feudalism" was introduced with the creation of the collective farms, the kolkhozes. In construction, especially in remote areas, "state slavery" was preponderant in the form of labor camps. Here, it seems, Stalin acquired two new sources of mass slavery: his own prisoners of war and supposedly serious criminals, that is, those condemned for minor offenses to inordinately long sentences.[103]

This analysis of the Soviet economic structure is strictly at odds with a traditional Marxist approach.

According to the accepted Marxist socioeconomic doc­trine, a consistent shift of formations takes place. Each of these formations has its characteristic economic structure. For example, corv'ee is a structure characteristic of feudal society. It is therefore awkward, from the Marxist standpoint, to discuss the fact that an essentially feudal structure functions in the socialist epoch.

But struc­tural formations in society arise because a specific mode of function­ing generally corresponds to the existing conditions. Analyzing the develop­ment of socioeconomic systems from the standpoint of goals and the conditions of their development, it is possible to see how in every con­crete historical situation a synthesis of the various structures occurs. These structures can appear or disappear, depending on how social goals and conditions change. From this point of view, one can say the following: In conditions when an extraordinary task comes to the fore, when impor­tant resources are scarce, and when the level of development is low, it might be expedient to use such management mechanisms as slavery and serfdom. If the private economy remains, the worker can either refuse to hand over the article that he has produced or he can produce less. Although we shall not dwell at length on the conditions that demand slavery or corv'ee, we can note the specific advantages of the corv'ee and quitrent systems. Under the quitrent system, the laborer owns his own product and turns over a part of that product, in one form or another, to the lord. On the other hand, under corv'ee, the laborer must carry out direct obligations; the product of his activity clearly does not belong to him. Moreover, it is easier to pressure the serf into fulfilling obligations on the lord's estate than it is to seize the product of the serf's labor. The corv'ee system provides that a small allotment of land will be left to the laborer in order to keep him alive. Therefore, one cannot generalize to a claim that quitrent is more effective than corv'ee. Everything depends on the conditions underlying the two structures.

One may assume that under the conditions created in the 1930s, the introduction of corv'ee in the form of kolkhoz production was one of the most convenient means of confiscating agricultural output in order to carry out a policy of rapid industrialization. (An entirely separate question, however, is whether such rates of industriali­zation were necessary).

As far as the slave structure is concerned, it too can be used in the Soviet Union. Through the use of the labor-camp system, an enor­mous project of opening up new regions was undertaken. If the regime were to implement these projects in a capitalist fashion, it would have to incur considerable costs to encourage the workers to move to remote areas, and to make these areas truly comfortable to live in. If adequate resources are lacking, it is much cheaper to forcibly relocate the workers to the newly developing regions, and create the conditions there that are just barely sufficient for their short-term survival. High mortality rates among the conscripted workers can be easily offset by new cohorts of similarly relocated personnel.

To sum up, we can say that each country forms its economic system as a synthesis of all the possible economic structures taken in various proportions.

Now let us move to the main subject of this chapter and see how the Soviet economy functions in practice.

Every economic system encounters a variety of conditions reflecting the availability of natural resources, technology, culture, worker qualifications, level of mass production, and so forth. Given this variety of conditions, the operation of an economic system can be organized according to either of the two extreme principles: the unification of all conditions and the subsequent creation of an appropriate, unified mechanism, or the formation of a variety of mechanisms corresponding to the variety of conditions. It is also possible to create one type of mechanism to suit all different conditions. It is very difficult for a bureaucracy to deal with a variety of conditions and mechanisms. Therefore, one finds that the desire to unify conditions and mechanisms is typical of bureaucratic management systems. One readily sees that in the Soviet Union there is a tendency towards unification. The communist ideology facilitates aspirations along this line by asserting that all complexity in the management of economic systems is temporary, that is, typical only of the transitional period from capitalism to socialism and from socialism to communism. The ideal for the communist is a society in which everything will be organized in a simple way, because all of the needs of the people will be satisfied and the system of production will be directly oriented towards the satisfaction of these needs.

Because the modern economic system is so complex, Soviet leaders must pay attention to the variety of conditions and to the efficiency of various mechanisms. At the present time this variety is formed randomly rather than on the basis of a sound economic theory. As a result, one sees many inconsistencies in the actions of the participants in the Soviet economic system.

What is needed is a sophisticated theory that ordains not only the ways of constructing individual economic mechanisms - planned or market-type - but also a method of synthesizing them.

 

The Soviet Planning System

 

The Soviet economy rests on total planning. I do not wish to contribute to an abstract discussion as to whether planning is good or bad in general. My purpose here is only to pinpoint some negative aspects of planning, which I think are important and about which I believe I can say something new.

Planning Technological Progress

Soviet economic theory contains no clear-cut notions about how to organize the production and implementation of new technological and scientific ideas. The Soviet centrally planned economy has been incapable of intensive growth based on technological advances. This system was best, above all, for accomplishing the extraordinary tasks of quickly creating a military potential with the help of largely existing technologies, that is, for extensive growth in pursuit of one clearly limited goal.

Because of a monolithic ideology and a single source of financing for science, it is difficult to expect the emergence of pioneering ideas, even if there is enough broad cultural tolerance for upstarts who challenge the scientific establishment. It is no surprise that the ratio of Nobel Prize winners to the total number of scientists in the Soviet Union is so pathetically small. Even if pioneering ideas appear first in the West, they may go begging in the U.S.S.R. for a long time. This is true not only of the hoary cybernetics and genetics, but also of such fairly recent revolutionary breakthroughs as the tectonic theory in geology. New scientific ideas get taken up only when they show a significant operational potential of a military nature. Then and only then does the Soviet military intervene and insist that there is an urgent need to finance the innovation. I do not know of a single new scientific idea of any real importance - whether born in the West or homegrown - that was given a green light without powerful prodding by the military. It is the military men who can champion the new because they are responsible for the armed might of the country - a matter of utmost import for the leaders, second only to their own political survival.

Technological innovation through the plan also encounters great complexities. Under centralized planning the head of an enterprise is evaluated based on plan fulfillment. It is extremely difficult to determine whose fault it is if a production plan goes unfulfilled: if the plan assumes the introduction of a new technology, it could be the boss's fault, but it could also be due to glitches in the new equipment. Planning for familiar equipment is another matter; here, it is easier to fulfill the plan and to fix blame in case of failure. I think that the closeness of the relationship between Soviet leaders and those who create new military hardware is also conditioned by the leaders' desire to have reliable people they can trust to advise them on the reasons for possible mishaps in creating the new. But is it possible for the leaders of a country to be close to all the creators of the new?

Hierarchical economic systems, generally speaking, are most efficient in situations where the goal is reasonably clear, and where what is needed is for the center to concentrate resources for the most promising projects, and to coordinate the efforts of the participants. But in the field of R and D there is a need for parallel and independent research and design organizations.

 It cannot be overemphasized that parallelism in the field of R and D is not an accidental phenomenon, but one one that inheres in the very nature of uncertain processes. Even when the probable calculations of costs and benefits are theoretically possible, it might make sense to pursue several alternatives simultaneously until it becomes clear which one is more advantageous. I base my conclusions on a pretty elaborate class of mathematical models generally known as "multiproject bandit processes."[104] The need for parallelism is still more apparent in basic R and D, when we may not have even a probabilistic knowledge of costs and benefits, and have to rely instead only on the known predispositions of different scholars to one or another type of research.

Commonly, economists view parallelism as a guarantee of efficient competition. They are right: in certain situations, competition can be a sufficient condition for parallel efforts. But even when it is not, it may still be wise to follow a multitrack policy because of the lack of information, and vice versa.

Being aware of both causes of parallelism is alone sufficient to improve even an essentially centralized economy. But the next decisive step on the road to progress has to await the appearance of decentralization and a multiplicity of independent economic actors personally responsible for their actions.

Within the framework of hierarchical mechanisms, parallel research is usually dubbed duplication of effort. In this context the term acquires a negative meaning: one of the main functions of the Committee on Science and Technology, which manages science in the Soviet Union, is to "fight against duplication." I am not saying that duplication is good in all cases, but in the area of R and D the absence of parallel organizations presents far greater dangers.

Parallel research could might be organized within the framework of a hierarchical mechanism. But the experience of the U.S.S.R. and Germany during Hitler's time shows that parallel investigation under a hierarchical mechanism is a very rare phenomenon. It takes place primarily in the design of military technology. At the same time, such organized parallelism also has some serious disadvantages because it is accompanied by a system of appointments.

Hierarchical mechanisms in R and D are particularly dangerous in totalitarian countries. In these countries, the concept of a leader (führer) for the system as a whole is duplicated in all other areas as well. That is why hierarchical mechanisms have a tough leader whose authority is indisputable.[105]

 

Long-Range Planning

A glaring gap in the Soviet planning system is in the area of long-range planning.

In the U.S.S.R. one could see only a single attempt to put together a realistic long-range economic outline by Stalin in his speech in 1946. His proposal mentioned only the goal, that is, the output of a certain volume of basic products (steel, pig iron, oil, coal) during the next ten to fifteen years. I do not know of a plan (or a program) that tried to show a way how to achieve this goal. The well-known Soviet twenty-year plan for 1961-1980 was announced by Nikita Khrushchev as the new program of the Communist party of the U.S.S.R. This plan was a sheer political hoax. Its promise to build communism in 1980 was a bad joke.

In the beginning of the 1970s another attempt was made to prepare a twenty year plan for 1971-1990. This plan was to replace the party program, which had proved a total fiasco. After Khrushchev, the leaders became more cautious. They asked both the State Planning Committee and the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. to prepare an outline of this plan. To the best of my knowledge, according to the preliminary report prepared by the Academy of Sciences, the Soviet Union would be unable to reach the level of output of the US by the year 1990; that is, after seventy-three years of socialist revolution the country with the most progressive socialist economic system cannot reach the level of output of a country based on an obsolete capitalist system.

From this standpoint, it is interesting to note an important feature of Soviet long-range plans. If a plan is announced for one year or five years it is possible to utter in the plan's preamble some meaningless words to the effect that the plan is geared towards a further improvement in the standard of living of the Soviet people, and so forth. In a plan of greater scope, it is necessary to specify the qualitative changes that the plan will bring; these changes have to conform to the greater advantages that the propaganda claims a socialist economy has over a capitalist one. Here a conflict arises in the Soviet society: whether to sacrifice the realism of the plan in the name of the ideology, or to stop any preparation of long-range plans in the name of that same ideology. In the U.S.S.R. it is impossible to develop a realistic long-range plan that could satisfy the ideological requirements: the system is too inefficient.

One could argue that the Soviets could develop a classified long-range plan. To the best of my knowledge, the U.S.S.R. does not have such a plan. It seems to me that the major reason for the absence of these plans lies in the overall structure of the Soviet system and of its planning mechanism in particular. Concentration of short-, mid-, and long-range planning in one organization guarantees that the first two will be given priority over the last; the chief of the organization simply does not have the time to think of long-range problems.

I myself had an opportunity to verify these observations when, many years ago, I tried to get the U.S.S.R. Gosplan interested in the implementation of the ideas of optimal planning. The main objection I ran into was that, due to severe time constraints, Gosplan had to concentrate on current and five-year plans. It is characteristic of these plans that they demand special attention to the issues of technological feasibility and input-output balancing. This approach by the planners is largely determined by the rigidity of the plan. Even in a five-year plan, approximately 80 percent of capital investments is determined by unfinished construction begun during the previous years. Only 20 percent of investment can be varied. In reality, however, a considerable portion of this sum is also determined by the past because it is necessary to have blueprints to start the construction; the preparation of these blueprints takes several years. The portion of expenses allocated for the preparation of blueprints for new plants is relatively small compared to the total amount of investment. If that is the case, does it really make much sense to bother about an optimal allocation of resources? Wouldn't it better to focus on balancing the bulk of resources within the framework of five-year plans?

In other words, rational utilization of resources within a limited period of time (for example, five years) requires, first of all, that the outputs that are predetermined by the past (unfinished construction and existing blueprints) be balanced. The managers are aware of the concept of the existing mechanism of planning performance. This helps them to be more ingenious in balancing inputs-outputs. The elaboration of new concepts, which opens up new avenues in selecting new projects, is quite foreign to the practitioners: they do not have the time to do it. For selection they use old fashioned methods like extrapolation, segmented political insights, and so on. But in the long-run, that is, from the standpoint of long-range development, decisions regarding new projects determine the efficiency of the economic system. In particular, these decisions determine the possibilities of new projects to be undertaken in the next five-year plan; this, in turn, determines the flow of construction in the next period, and the cycle continues.

Soon after Khrushchev came to power, he split up the State Planning Committee - Gosplan - and organized the State Economic Council--Goseconomsovet along with it. The job of this council was to develop long- and mid-range plans; Gosplan was to concentrate on one- and two-year plans. But after a couple years these two organizations were reunited. To the best of my understanding, the reason for this merger was the following: generally speaking, in a totalitarian system all spheres of society are controlled by the leaders. Especially in large countries, the leaders do not have the time to seriously discuss long-range problems because they have to spend most of their time on current issues. Naturally, there were frictions between Gosplan and Goseconomsovet. The members of the Politburo had no time to resolve conflicts between these two organizations.[106]

Let me repeat again that in this book I do not touch upon many other shortcomings of Soviet planning. Very briefly, one such shortcoming has to do with deliberate imbalances in the plan between supply and demand, when the former consistently lags behind the latter. The interested reader can find a fascinating treatment of this problem in the works of the Hungarian economist Janosh Kornai.[107]

 

Anomalies in the Soviet Hierarchical Economic mechanism

 

Another set of problems in the Soviet economy concerns the processes of plan formulation and implementation.

Planning in physical terms predominates in Soviet hierarchical-type economic mechanisms, in which the role of the price mechanism is drastically reduced. An economic system based on such a mechanism is appropriately called a command economy. But the greater role of monetary parameters does not mean the introduction of a market. It only means that the participants have more independence in their internal activities because they are faced with less rigid external constraints. Here, it is important to draw a sharp distinction between the notions of deconcentration and decentralization. Decentralization refers to horizontal interactions (excluding, of course, the centralized ones). Deconcentration stands for greater flexibility within the set of vertical interactions.[108]

Concentration is at least a three-dimensional notion of breadth, depth, and length. By the breadth of concentration I mean the number of external parameters pertaining to the economic unit and controlled by a center. By the length of concentration I mean the number of levels in the hierarchy controlled by a center. At different levels the breadth of concentration may be different. By the depth of concentration I mean the extent of intervention by the center in the internal activities of the controlled unit.

The Soviet economic system exhibits an excessive degree of concentration along each of these three axes: enterprises are overburdened by the number of centrally-determined controlling parameters; upper levels of the hierarchy penetrate deep within individual enterprises, even down to the level of setting the wage schedule for their workers; upper echelons largely control the internal activities of subordinate organizations, including their system of appointments and management structure.

All these issues were hotly debated, but never resolved, when a major package of economic reforms was proposed in 1965. The emphasis then was on deconcentration, whereas today, under Gorbachev's perestroika, it has shifted to decentralization, that is, to the market.

 It is well known that a hierarchical system assumes some common and specific features at different levels of the hierarchy. Mistakes made in forming this hierarchically organized mechanism in the Soviet Union could be understood, first of all, as a result of the fact that isomorphic processes of management common to all levels were carried out in different ways. This will become more clear if we examine the nature of these mistakes. They are (1) a violation of the hierarchical principle in setting price, and (2) a lack of coordination in aggregate parameters, both in real and in monetary terms.

In the Soviet Union the hierarchical principle of planning input-output in physical terms is fairly systematic, that is, the higher level of the hierarchy hands down a plan to the participants at the next lower level of the hierarchy. However, if one examines the planning of prices, a completely different picture emerges. A central planning agency - in this case the State Committee on Prices - skips many levels and directly sets prices on all products produced by the factories. The factory's planning department sometimes sets prices on all products produced at the level of workshops, thereby violating the hierarchical principle of planning.

I also want to remind the reader that prices are not flexible because they are set for long periods of time.

Price as an economic phenomenon is used only in the interactions between the factories. At higher levels, for example, in the chief departments of the ministries, or in the ministries themselves, interactions are perceived by the participants as a part of state management. At levels of the hierarchy lower than the factory, for example, workshops and sections, relations between the participants are perceived as being purely technical. The view of the factory as a focal point of the hierarchy is not unfounded. It arises from the fact that, as a rule, a Soviet factory is defined as an enterprise delimited by a certain territory. Superior levels of the hierarchy, chief departments and ministers, are located far from the factory in the capital of the country or of the union republic. The lowest levels, workshops and sections, are located inside the factory. The physical separation of the factory makes exercising complete control over it impossible; this contrasts with the highest and lowest levels of the hierarchy where such control is possible. Central planners are forced to spend a lot of time and resources setting prices on the commodities that are consumed within a ministry. For example, in the Ministry of Chemical Industry approximately one-third of all kinds of items (not to be confused with absolute volume of production) are intermediate goods that are consumed within the framework of the ministry. However, the State Committee on Prices sets prices on all of these products.

As already mentioned, prices of products consumed within the factory are set by the factory. This method of price setting has its weaknesses. Generally speaking, at the point of equilibrium the price of any one commodity has to be the same for all consumers. Certain products that are consumed within one factory could be produced by other factories and also consumed within them. In that case, prices of the same commodity will be different in different factories. The disadvantage of this is obvious: factories have no information that can help them determine the economic efficiency of being self-sufficient with respect to a particular product. I know of cases in which chief departments of ministries tried to avoid such problems. For example, during the 1950s the Chief Department for the Production of Motorcycles and Bicycles of the Ministry of Automobiles and Tractors, introduced internal prices on all kinds of instruments produced in the workshops of the factories subordinate to this head department.

Let us now consider another violation in hierarchical mechanisms, a violation that results from lack of coordination in the aggregation of products in physical and monetary terms. Planning in physical terms is associated with different degrees of aggregation according to the level of the managerial hierarchy. The higher the level the greater the degree to which consumed and produced goods are presented in aggregate form. Disaggregation of aggregated inputs-outputs is realized by contracts between factories. As matter of fact, the price mechanism does not involve these processes of aggregation and disaggregation. The Committee on Prices sets prices for all factories and for all the goods they produce, even to the point, say, of setting prices for each variety of fishing hooks.

During the Soviet economic reform of the middle 1960s much attention was focused on developing direct links (priamye sviazi) between enterprises. But in many cases this process was rooted in the imperfections of the planning mechanism based on the hierarchical line, and in the inability of this plan to ensure proper conditions for direct interaction between the links. Let me specify what I mean.

In devising direct links it is necessary, above all, to fulfill certain material prerequisites (materials, equipment, etc.) in the plan. This provides for a certain flexibility among the participants. For example, in order to ensure flexible relations between shops and factories manufacturing footwear, there must be, at least in the factories, readily available means to convert from one style of footwear to another. Considering that a particular type of footwear is maintained for a long time, current alterations are merely a matter of changing a few details, so the manufacturing technology does not have to be altered in any major way. Given the technology of footwear manufacturing, it is necessary above all to have the means to alter those parts of the shoe having the greatest versatility. This versatility may be attained by using alterable metal lasts. The existing process of shoe manufacturing utilized less versatile wooden lasts. The capacity to manufacture these lasts was thereby limited. Moreover, output was further reduced in connection with a partial switch by the enterprises producing wooden lasts to the production of furniture necessitated by an acute demand stemming from an expanding housing construction.

 Incidentally, interactions at the same level are guided by the principle "Money talks," which is termed in the Soviet Union "Control by a Ruble" (kontrol' rublem). This means that the activities of the factory are partially controlled by other factories, which purchase its commodities. One does not see this type of control in the Soviet Union at levels higher or lower than the factory.

 

Schizophrenic Character of Soviet Economic Mechanism

 

I think that the anomalies of the Soviet economy outlined above are generated primarily by the disjunction between the monetary and physical aspects of the mechanism of its functioning.

One of the main reasons that the need for consistent planning at all levels of the hierarchy is ignored lies in the fact that the Soviet economists do not understand that prices are dual variables, which serve as a tool to help form and implement the plan. Soviet economists, both in theory and in practice, separate the process of planning in physical terms from the setting of prices. They assume that the task of planning of input-output in physical terms must balance supply and demand. They conceive of prices as mere production costs, which should be calculated on the basis of the labor theory of value. Because it is impossible to avoid prices in the course of planning in physical terms, the use of the wrong prices could lead to a great waste of resources in the national economy. For example, planning in physical terms is based on the range of technologies offered by the design bureau. However, in developing these technologies design bureaus are guided by obsolete prices, which they use to avoid economically ineffective solutions.

At the same time, in the Soviet economic system there are managers endowed with common sense. These people usually have enough common sense to set logically formulated goals (the nature of these goals from the standpoint of humaneness, for example, is another matter). Meanwhile, their common sense is not sufficient to formulate a relatively effective, internally unified mechanism of performance; they have created instead a disjunct, schizophrenic mechanism.

The common sense of these people is sometimes enough to avoid the absurdities engendered by the disparity between the goals set and the schizophrenic mechanism for their attainment. Sometimes they, or at least their subordinates, become the victims of the mechanism they themselves have created. The following examples, somewhat sketchy but based on facts taken from Soviet practice, can serve to illustrate this point (the figures cited are arbitrary).

The first example bears out the adequacy of common sense to combat schizophrenia with sensibly formulated goals. In the U.S.S.R. at one time there arose an urgent need to increase the production of plastic parts for bombs, a kind of item very important to the country.

 The government instructed one of the plastic plants to increase production by approximately one-and-a-half times in a very short period. It was impossible to meet this target using an extensive approach - by expanding production capacities through the installation of additional presses - because this would require time: the plant would have had to con­struct new production buildings, order additional equipment, and wait for the new equipment to be manufactured. The realization of the target might have been drawn out for several years.

The plant's engineers took another course that enabled them to meet the target in a very short time. They recognized that pressing was the limiting link in the production of plastics. The initial temperature of the molding powder significantly influences the length of this process. For this reason, the engineers decided to install high-frequency current generators near the presses, use them to preheat the powder, and thus raise the productivity of the presses. And indeed, press produc­tivity was essentially increased and production rose to the projected level. The manage­ment and engineering personnel of the enterprise had successfully coped with the important task and were awarded the State Prize.

But when the plant's economic indicators were analyzed, it was found to be deep in the hole. First, output per press operator had declined. Under the previous, longer pressing cycle, one operator tended two presses; but under the new condi­tions, with the shorter period of pressing, a press operator was unable to serve two units, and additional labor had to be hired. Since the number of press operators doubled while the produc­tivity of the presses increased only one-and-a-half times, output per operator fell.

Second, the cost of production increased, since the wages of a press operator remained the same although the output per operator dropped. The wage level remained unchanged because the intensity of the operator's labor was not decreased, since additional operations involved in heating the molding powder had to be performed. The cost of production was also increased by the increase in expenditures per item on electric power: expenditures had to be made on technological power for preheating the molding powder. Even though overall output at the plant expanded, the reduction of the overhead per item could not compensate for the increase in these expenditures.

The transfer prices remained the same. According to the established principles, the prices reflected average costs across all plants producing similar items, plus a small profit. While the given enterprise cost of production increased appreciably, the plant started operating at a loss, with all the ensuing negative consequences (for example, absence of the managers' fund). The other plants, which stuck with the old technology, continued to operate in the black.

Thus a single measure received two different assessments: the plant had to be simul­taneously pardoned and executed.

The overall economic mechanism of func­tioning created by the government demanded that the plant be "executed" - after all, the plant had begun operating at a loss. At an important conference organized in the course of a govern­ment campaign to improve the economic indicators of enterprises, I myself witnessed a tongue-lashing administered to the management of a plastics plant by district party authorities for poor economic performance.

Naturally, if the regular principles of supply and demand were brought to bear on the situation, the enterprise that managed to increase rapidly the output of an important commodity would not only have registered no loss, but would have instead shown a profit.

Common sense, however, does not always win out. Sometimes, Soviet leaders become the victims of the illogicality of the very system they have fathered.

In the mid-1960s, the country was overstocked with expensive suits. Under such circumstances one would expect a clearance sale of the product that has already been manufactured. In addition, production of the unmarketable goods would be curtailed. Contractual relationships between shops and enterprises were employed in an attempt to determine the best assortment for the items to be put on the market. However, even with the means for expanding the manufacturing of less expensive suits being available at the clothing factories, it turned out to be fairly difficult to implement in actual practise. Like in a famous parable of a camel created by a congressional committee, the monetary reference points used in the Soviet economic system and those for which the workers stand tend, for a variety of reasons, to gravitate in different directions. There is no clear-cut way to coordinate the efforts of these people. Let me clarify this point.

It is known that in the U.S.S.R. the most important monetary reference point for the leaders are the growth rates of industrial output. These rates are measured by the gross output (in fixed prices) of the respective industry. This indicator has also an important ideological significance in showing the advantages of a planned system. If we recall that, other thing being equal, the greater the cost of component materials, the higher the price of the product, it follows that a decline in the production of expensive suits results in a reduction in gross industrial output. The top workers of Gosplan who were responsible, above all else, for attaining high growth rates in production, received this idea of cutting down the output of expensive suits with disfavor.

Moreover, one of the major sources of the U.S.S.R.'s budget revenues is the turnover tax levied on consumer goods. In order to protect the financing of various state budget needs from the possibly "irrational" behavior of consumers, a turnover tax in the U.S.S.R. is collected at the point where commodities are transferred from industry to wholesale trade, or from wholesale to retail trade. It is never collected at the stage of sale to the consumer. In the U.S.S.R., the turnover tax on expensive commodities is often higher than on inexpensive goods. From what has been said, it becomes clear that, if there is a reduction in the output of expensive suits, there will also be a shortage in the revenue part of the budget. Under these circumstances one should not expect officials in the Ministry of Finance to support a decree calling for the curtailment of the production of expensive suits.

The concern of the Soviet banking system is that it has limited credit for unmarketable goods. Moreover, the bank has a cash plan that depends on money proceeds from the population. Under these conditions directors of the bank would applaud all enactments intended to expand the production of such goods as inexpensive suits.

The most important indicator of success in retail trade in the U.S.S.R. is fulfilling a plan for selling the commodity. Trade workers, therefore, would naturally be interested in escalating the production of inexpensive suits. Moreover, the availability of marketable goods reduces the retail sale storage problem .

Thus, on the one hand, decreasing the production of expensive suits could weaken the significance of such an important indicator as the growth rate of gross industrial output, and it could reduce the revenues in the budget. On the other hand, it would be likely to improve the cash plan and reduce unwanted inventories in the shops. More important, the population would be protected.

What are the country's leaders to do under these circumstances? In a story lamenting an excess inventory of expensive suits, one national newspaper urged that their manufacture be terminated, but, it added, without damaging the interests of the state. In reality, this meant that the factors of output growth and budget revenue had won out.

 Since Soviet retail organizations have a legal right to refuse unmarketable goods supplied under contract by a distributor, it may seem that the situation could have been resolved peacefully, without administrative interference. In fact, however, these contracts can be ignored. As long as the manufacturer keeps his promise to produce certain goods, the retail organization has to accept them. If it refuses, the supplier won't have the money to pay its workers' wages. The party functionaries, fearing a political bombshell, would come hard upon the recalcitrant retailer and force him to take the merchandise.

 

Roots of  Schizophrenia in Soviet Economic Mechanism

 

 Every economic system wants to have adequate and precise information about its significant economic parameters. But in practice the following dilemma arises: whether to derive approximate figures on the basis of an elaborate concept or to calculate exact figures on the basis of a less-developed concept. The approximate figures are estimated on the basis of intuition by people involved in economic activities; the exact figures can be obtained by formalized procedures and eventually by computers.

What is attractive in a market mechanism is its informal character in general. Meanwhile, it is assumed that each participant has the ability to measure the magnitude of economic parameters in the course of interactions. At the same time, the disadvantages of a market mechanism, for instance, the imperfect coordination of activities, manifest themselves in the inexactness of the measurements of these parameters. Here, the problem of improving upon these methods of measurement arises. One way to solve the problem is to create a mechanism of centralized planning on the basis of a nationalized economy, but this is an extreme approach. Such methods are typical of Marxists and, as with any radical view, they are important in developing new avenues of thought. Meanwhile, this approach is rather limited, for it ignores the diversity of mechanisms vital to the performance of a developed economic system.[109]

The simplification of economic reality seen in radical views is also a result of the assumption that economic parameters are easy to measure. Marx and Engels believed that, in the communist society of the future, it would be a simple matter to measure both the desires of people and the resources needed to fulfill these desires.

When Marxist ideas of creating a new society began to be implemented in the U.S.S.R., the first step was to form a rigid, centralized economy with all resources distributed by the center -- down to the final bolt. Such methods were called "War Communism" and were practiced during the period of the Russian Civil War. At that time the goal of production was clear, and the variety and scope of outputs were tremendously reduced. Toward the end of the 1920s the U.S.S.R. began to develop into a modern industrial society, using centralized planning mechanisms. Immediately the problem of setting goals for mid-term plans arose. When Soviet leaders had to set these goals in the realm of consumer goods and services, they faced a number of problems resulting from the lack of a developed concept of how to measure the utility of different consumer goods and services. Fortunately for the Soviet leaders, the goals of the system were oriented toward military needs. This allowed the leaders to avoid the complicated issue of measuring the utility of consumer goods and services. Instead, this problem was replaced by a relatively simpler problem concerned with the production of basic capital goods: oil, steel, electricity, tractors, and so forth. Production of consumer goods and services was regarded as a "boring" constraint.

The Soviet planners also avoided the important problem of measuring cost-benefit at the macrolevel, and instead focused their effort on balancing in physical terms the output of basic goods with the inputs of necessary resources. I do not want to play down the role of cost-benefit analysis at the macrolevel (for instance, planners need for measuring the rate of growth), but these problems were of secondary importance compared to the more vital problem of increasing the output of basic capital goods.

Cost-benefit analysis was explicitly formulated at the microlevel. Engineers whose task is to select the best technologies and managers who measure deviations from the planned inputs-outputs have to know how to compare costs and benefits. To do this a price system must be elaborated. But Soviet economists did not know how to set prices in a planned economy. They were faced with the following dilemma: either to set prices on the basis of the Marxist labor theory of value, or on the basis of the theory of marginal utility. This dilemma gave rise to many ideological controversies. Marx and Engels rejected the price mechanism under socialism altogether. However, they thought that, under capitalism, prices gravitate towards average cost and orbit around it depending on demand and supply at each moment of time. In 1940, Stalin, acting on Lev A. Leontiev's advice, stated at a meeting with a group of Soviet economists that the "law of labor value" was operating in the Soviet economy, but in a modified form. I want to emphasize that adoption of the labor theory of value as a tool for setting prices was not merely a bow to the Marxist ideology. I think the viability of the concept of "labor value" and its acceptance by the overwhelming majority of Soviet economists and politicians to the present day is not simply lip service paid to the governing ideology, but has deep roots. The labor theory of values seduces people by its simplicity, by the illusion of the ease of measuring average labor spent at producing a certain commodity. But measuring labor costs leads to a lot of problems, for example, how to reduce skilled labor to unskilled labor, how to link the time of production of a commodity with labor expenses, how to divide labor expenses among indivisible goods, and so forth.

Of course one could say that all these difficulties are to be expected since, every concept has its unresolved problems. Moreover, if one examines the theory of marginal utility, one is struck by the impracticality of measuring the utility of goods having a different usage. Furthermore, how can one add shoes to butter from the standpoint of their utility? It is a different matter when the common denominator that determines the value of all different kinds of products is labor expense! In this case everything seems clear and certain!

Thus, Soviet planners chose average labor cost as the basis for setting prices. On the one hand, these expenses are distinct from the utilities of the product, and on the other hand, they do not take into account such things as the costs of natural resources, the scarcity of the factors of production, or the time of production. When Soviet planners try to direct the activities of the factories via such prices, they create serious conflicts. In many cases it was impossible to link the necessity of producing a certain item, even if that item was needed for military purposes, with the costs of production. In principle, a Soviet planner can adjust these prices to the prices of equilibrium, but this will immediately give rise to a number of methodological problems: if the law of labor value is used in a planned economy to set prices, then planned prices should correspond exactly to the labor value. At the same time, one cannot vary these prices around the labor value, because in the plan, supply and demand are in equilibrium.

But methodological puzzles were not the main obstacle in introducing a proper pricing mechanism into the Soviet economy. If necessary, Soviet leaders could easily adapt ideology and methodology to their interests; they do it under the banner "the creative elaboration