The Background to Perestroika: ‘Political Undercurrents’ Reconsidered in the Light of Recent Events

  • Peter Kneen
Part of the Studies in Soviet History and Society book series (SSHS)


In his speech to the Central Committee plenum in June 1987 Gorbachev announced that commodity-money relations or, in other words, the market, were becoming an organic part of the socialist system.1 The Law on the State Enterprise, accepted by that meeting, anticipated that during 1988–9 all enterprises would become subject to the disciplines of full cost-accounting and self-financing.2 Aganbegyan, one of Gorbachev’s principal economic advisers, subsequently made it clear that enterprises which persistently failed to support themselves would, in effect, be considered bankrupt and closed.3 At the June plenum Gorbachev left no doubt that, in his estimation, the causes of the present difficulties, which he identified as a pre-crisis situation, fundamentally arose from adhering to the command-administrative methods developed under Stalin, alternatives to which had been spurned by Brezhnev.4 During the course of 1988, Bukh-arin, the leading proponent of market socialism in the 1920s, was rehabilitated as increasing public attention was directed to scrutinising the impact and legacy of Stalinism.5 It appeared as if Soviet economic policy had come full circle, a circumnavigation that had taken sixty arduous years.


Political System Central Committee Market Discipline Party Organisation Party Membership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    Abel Aganbegyan, The Challenge: Economics of Perestroika (London: Hutchinson, 1988) p. 187.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Moshe Lewin, Political Undercurrents in Soviet Economic Debates (London: Pluto Press, 1975) p. xiii.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Stephen White, ‘Democratising the Soviet State’, Politics. (1989) pp. 3–7.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Michel Tatu, ‘19th Party Conference’, Problems of Communism, vol. 37, No. 3 (1988) pp. 1–15.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Alexander Rahr, ‘Who is in charge of the Party Apparatus?’, Report on the USSR, vol. 1, No. 15 (1989) pp. 19–24.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Dawn Mann, Alexander Rahr and Elizabeth Teague, ‘Gorbachev Cleans Out Central Committee’, Report On The USSR, vol. 1, No. 18 (1989) pp. 8–10.Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    Stephen F. Cohen, Rethinking the Soviet Experience (1984) pp. 106–7.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Daniel R. Brower, ‘Collectivised Agriculture in Smolensk: the party, the peasantry and the crisis of 1932’, Russian Review, vol. 36, No. 2 (1977).Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    Moshe Lewin, The Making of the Soviet System (London: Methuen, 1985) p. 209.Google Scholar
  10. 19.
    J. V. Stalin, ‘Economic Problems of Socialism’, in Bruce Franklin (ed.), The Essential Stalin (Garden City, N.J.: Anchor Books, 1972) pp. 445–81.Google Scholar
  11. Werner G. Hahn, Postwar Soviet Politics: The Fall of Zhdanov and the Defeat of Moderation (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1982) pp. 149–53.Google Scholar
  12. 20.
    R. Judy, ‘The Economists’, in H. Gordon Skilling and Franklyn Griffith (eds), Interest Groups in Soviet Politics (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971).Google Scholar
  13. 21.
    Vasilii Selyunin and Grigorii Khanin, ‘Lukavaya tsifra’, Novyi Mir, No. 2 (1987) pp. 181–201.Google Scholar
  14. B. P. Orlov, ‘Illyuzii i Real‘nost”, EKO, No. 8 (1988) pp. 3–20.Google Scholar
  15. 24.
    Rolf H. W. Theen, ‘Political Science in the USSR’. Problems of Communism vol. 22, No. 3 (1972) pp. 64–70.Google Scholar
  16. 30.
    Sheila Fitzpatrick, Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union 1921–34 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  17. Nicholas Lampert, The Technical Intelligentsia and the Soviet State (London: Macmillan, 1979).Google Scholar
  18. Kendall E. Bailes, Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin, (Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1978).Google Scholar
  19. 36.
    Vera Tolz, Report On The USSR, vol. 1, No. 6 (1989) p. 33.Google Scholar
  20. 39.
    Roy A. Medvedev, On Socialist Democracy (London: Macmillan, 1972) pp. 164–74.Google Scholar
  21. Stephen Fortescue, ‘Research Institute Party Organisations and the Right of Control’, Soviet Studies vol. 35, No. 2 (1983) pp. 175–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Nick Lampert and Gábor T. Rittersporn 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kneen

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations