Por Jorge Aliaga Cacho
It has been questioned: How was it that the Soviet industry could produce hundreds of intercontinental SS.9 ballistic missiles and put the Lunahod vehicle on the moon, but found it difficult to build a chain of modern hotels in the Soviet Union as it did in the lapse of Some years in the impoverished Italian Mezzagiorno? In an article published in 1969,“Pravda” admitted that the key problema was how to increase productivity; the quantitative approach to the Soviet economy was no longer good enough; new methods and new decisión were required. The other problems were the gowing technological gap between East and West, the managerial gap which was caused by a second industrial revolution in th West and which produced changes in industrial and management techniques. Robin Edmonds in his book “The Soviet Foreign Policy-The Brezhnev Years” argues that the greatest single obstacle in the USSR was the absence in the economic and political system of an effective mechanism for renewing management. The Soviet planner would had found it hard, even through the economic reform of 1965, to modify the cult of groos output which was the essence of Stalinist economics. It is my view that was this single mistake which did not allow the Soviet economy to develop a more globally based strategy. This was, perhaps, the reason for the debacle which later ocurred. However, it is neccesary to point out that Lenin, the leader of the Russian revolution, was clear about this point when he wrote about the importance of Taylor´s work on scientific management. Lenin considered it of vital importance to introduce some methods of racionalization to the service of socialist achievements.
By now the aspirations of the Soviet consumers had started to grow and was making itself felt strongly. However, it must be said that part of the strain imposed on the Soviet economy was caused by the overcommitment of resources to its defence sector. In the political arena the Soviet leaders presumed themselves to be defenders of Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy in the Kremlin and felt unhappy to incorporate new ideas which originated outside the boundaries of the Soviet political elite. They did not listen to the communists of China who were opposed to the removal of the ballistic missiles from Cuba. They did not listen to the communists of Czechoslovakia who were arguing for pluralism. They did not listen to the communists of Western Europe. For instance Marcuse was described as an ideologist of petit-bourgeosie rebels an old fool. This attitude was obvious when the XXIV Congress of the Soviet Communist Party included in its report an attack on marxists like Roger Garaudy, Ernst Fisher, the Italian “Manfiesto Group” and Teodoro Petkoff who was formerly a member of the Venezuelan Communist Party.
Nevertheless, new ideas grew within the Soviet Union occupying a wide spectrun. The connecting link was the conviction that scientific and industrial progress were inseparable from intellectual freedom. The leadership of the Soviet Communist Party could not accept this development. They did not see the solution to their political and economic problems in the methods proposed by Sakharov or Medeved with their pluralistic approaches or the ones which the Czechoslovak reformers had followed and to which the Soviet leadership were totally opposed.