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The question then is: Will such a political development facilitate the resolution of the economic and
political dilemmas confronting the Soviet Union? The answer to this question is bound to be even more
speculative than the prognosis itself. On the whole, it would appear doubtful whether an attempt to combine
ideological orthodoxy with technological innovation, perhaps buttressed by increasing reliance on nationalism
and the military, will create a setting propitious to intellectual and scientific creativity. Such an attempt is more
likely to produce internal contradictions, with the ideologues and the technocrats often pulling in opposite
directions. This will be especially true as concerns the complex issue of economic decentralization, increasingly
recognized as necessary for economic reasons, but nevertheless feared for political reasons. The result will be
either temporary compromises (such as have been characteristic of Brezhnev) or drastic policy shifts from one
emphasis to the other. The consequent tension will widen the gap between the political system and society; the
political system will appear unresponsive to internal dilemmas, and increasing social pressure will be generated
for a more fundamental reassessment of the contemporary relevance of the ideological and institutional character
of the Soviet state.
Accordingly, it may be expected that the 1970s will witness the spread to the Soviet Union of
convulsions similar to those that Spain, Yugoslavia, Mexico, and Poland began to undergo in the late 1960s. The
Soviet student population will have doubled during the 1960s (it increased by seventyseven per cent between
1958 and 1965), and it is unlikely that the Soviet Union will altogether avoid student unrest. The late 1970s will
probably see the sexual revolution spread to the more urban Soviet centers, and the party ideologues will not find
it easy to accommodate within the prevailing official mores. These factors could create a broader social basis for
the currently isolated ideological dissenters and, together with the likely growth in the selfassertiveness of the
nonRussian intelligentsia, make for more visible social and political tensions. Given the authoritarian Soviet set
ting, a red flag spontaneously flown by Moscow students over their university will have much graver political
symbolism than the same flag fluttering over Columbia or the Sorbonne.
But it will not be until the early 1980s that the first fully postStalin political leadership will enter the
political arena. An aspiring fortyfiveyearold leader in 1980 will have been only eighteen at the time of Stalin's
death and twentyone when deStalinization actually began in the Soviet Union. Though his generation will
probably find its access to power blocked by political leaders ten or even twenty years older (the Polyanskis,
Shelepins, Semichastnys, Tolstikovs of today), it will press for influence from the echelons immediately below
that of the Central Committee. Given the more volatile domestic and global setting in which it will have
matured, given its higher education, given the probably more flexible character of the adjoining Eastern
European states, it is quite possible that the emerging political elite will be less committed to the notion that
social development requires intense concentration of political power.
Nevertheless, even then evolution into a pluralist system is likely to be resisted by the entrenched
political oligarchy. The introduction of political pluralism will at some point require a deliberate decision to open
the Soviet Union to competitive ideas, to let each Soviet citizen read what he wants, to reduce the level of the
party's ideological control, to decentralize decisionmaking and thus to share power with society: in effect, a
major transformation of the system as a whole. Unintended consequences of economictechnological
adjustments will not suffice to bring about significant political change. As in Yugoslavia or pre1968
Czechoslovakia, at some point the political elite must decide to embark on deliberate political reforms.
Thus, barring an upheaval resulting from internal paralysis— and dramatically bringing about either
social democracy or, more likely, a revivalist dictator capable of controlling internal dissent—the more probable
pattern for the 1980s is a marginal shift toward the combination of the second (pluralist evolution) and third
(technological adaptation) variants: limited economicpolitical pluralism and intense emphasis on technological
competence, within the context of a still authoritarian government representing a coalition of the upper echelons
of the principal interest groups. This could be the beginning of the return to the
Western Marxist tradition, but only a slow and cautious beginning at best. †
It would therefore be rash to
expect in the near future a fundamental revision of the Soviet attitude toward the world. There will be change,
This view is held also by some Yugoslav observers. Thus, V. Stanovcic, writing in the Yugoslav Central Committee weekly Komunist
(September 26, 1968), has argued that the present Soviet system has proven itself unable to liberalize gradually and that as a consequence it
will very likely "logically develop into a Bonapartist form of rule, with managerialmilitarist groups assuming the role of 'line prescribers'
and 'organizers' of society."
It might be relevant atthis juncture to put to rest the popular analogy frequently made between the evolution of the French Revolution into
a bourgeois democracy and the allegedly similar political consequences of the embourgeoisement of Soviet society. The analogy overlooks
several salient differences between these revolutions. The French Revolution took place in a setting shaped by a rationalist, idealistic
intellectual tradition and ineffective absolutism. The Russian Revolution was preceded by increasing intellectual fanaticism and utopianism,
reacting to the absolutist and autocratic political setting. The French Revolution was effected by an idealistic and highly disorganized
professional middle class; the Bolshevik Revolution by a highly professional, ideological, and disciplined party. The French revolutionaries
did not have the time during their relatively short stay in power to reorganize French society fundamentally; the Bolsheviks, particularly
under Stalin, ripped apart and rewove the entire social fabric, while effecting a farreaching industrial and urban revolution. The French
middle class was an innovative and intellectually restless class; the new Soviet middle class is Victorian, conservative, and orthodox. Last
but not least, the legatee of the French Revolution, Napoleon, was defeated; Stalin was victorious.
but it will be slow. Moreover, the element of rivalry with the United States, reflecting the vestigial legacy of
ideology and reinforced by middleclassurban nationalism, is likely to continue to be dominant, even if
tempered by growing Soviet recognition that increased United StatesSoviet collaboration is dictated by the basic
imperatives of human survival. The SinoSoviet conflict may also have a double and contradictory effect: while
intensifying the Soviet desire for a secure and peaceful western flank, it is likely to heighten Soviet security
concerns, and thus strengthen the domestic position of the more conservative and nationalist elements.
This combination of eroding ideology and intensifying nationalism makes it unlikely that the Soviet
Union will soon become involved either in militantly advancing the cause of world revolution or in actively
promoting a policy of global cooperation. A more likely result is an ambiguous pattern determined by short
range expediency rather than by a broad, longrange perspective. In that context, precisely because the Soviet
Union does not appear likely to experience in the near future a domestic phase of open intellectual creativity and
experimentation, its attractiveness as the socioeconomic model for contemporary communism, one capable of
intellectually and morally captivating the imagination of mankind, will probably continue to decline.
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