The Soviet Paradox

Seweryn Bialer, Author Alfred A. Knopf $24.95 (391p) ISBN 978-0-394-54095-5
In this scholarly assessment, Bialer, director of the Research Institute for International Change at Columbia University, has written a position paper on the Soviet Union which could be studied to benefit by policymakers in the West. Focusing on economic conditions both within the country and throughout the Communist bloc, he argues that although 19651975 proved to be the best economic decade in Soviet history, and a period of unparalleled overall stability, the economy is now in a crisis that can be solved only by changing the system; that central control and direct planning undermine progress that must be made if stagnation, with attendant social-political ramifications throughout the empire, is to be reversed. The new leadership's reforms, begun and anticipated, will not address true change, predicts Bialer who reasons that economic revitalization necessitates devolution of political power, for the slowdown of the Soviet economy is not cyclical but, rather, indicative of the central problem of the command economy and an infrastructure that causes the U.S.S.R. to be at once a developed and an underdeveloped country. The system has exhausted its potential, determines Bialer, stressing that the Soviet leadership, albeit alarmed, fails to recognize the system's basic lack of viability and hence attempts correction through refinement. (June 15)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1986
Release date: 06/01/1986
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