THE CLASS BASIS OF SAKHAROV’S
- CONTEMPORARY SOVIET SOCIETY IS NO LONGER A SOCIALIST
SOCIETY IN WHICH THE WORKING CLASS CONSTITUTES THE RULING CLASS.
- IT IS A STATE MONOPOLY CAPITALIST SOCIETY, A NEO-IMPERIALIST
SOCIETY, IN WHICH THE RULING CLASS CONSISTS OF STATE CAPITALISTS WHO EXPLOIT
THE SOVIET WORKING CLASS.
- THE SINGLE POLITICAL PARTY WHICH IS PERMITTED TO
EXIST LEGALLY, THE 'COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION, IS NO LONGER A
MARXIST-LENINIST PARTY OF THE WORKING CLASS, BUT A REVISIONIST PARTY SERVING
THE INTERESTS OF THE STATE CAPITALISTS.
- BUT THE SOVIET STATE DOES NOT HAVE THE FORM OF "PARLIAMENTARY
DEMOCRACY", UNDER WHICH, ALTHOUGH IT IS THE MACHINERY OF RULE OF THE CAPITALIST
CLASS, THE WORKING CLASS POSSESSES CERTAIN IMPORTANT DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS
AND LIBERTIES, INCLUDING THE FREEDOM TO EXPOSE REVISIONISM,
TO PUBLISH JOURNALS TO HOLD MEETINGS, TO CONTEST ELECTIONS, ETC.
- AS IN THE OLDER CAPITALIST SOCIETIES, A SOCIALIST
SOCIETY CAN BE BUILT IN THIS CASE, REBUILT -- ONLY AS A RESULT OF A SUCCESSFUL
REVOLUTION ON THE PART OF THE WORKING CLASS LED BY A GENUINE MARXIST-LENINIST
PARTY, A REVOLUTION WHICH WILL SMASH THE STATE MACHINERY OF FORCE IN THE
HANDS OF THE SOVIET NEO-IMPERIALISTS AND ESTABLISH THE POLITICAL POWER
OF THE WORKING CLASS.
- THE CONSTRUCTION OF SUCH A PARTY AND THE PREPARATION
OF SOCIALIST REVOLUTION WOULD, OF COURSE, BE FACILITATED IF THE EXISTING
REPRESSIVE SOVIET, STATE WERE TRANSFORMED INTO ONE UNDER WHICH MARXIST-LENINISTS
WERE LEGALLY FREE TO FORM A REVOLUTIONARY PARTY, TO EXPOSE REVISIONISM,
TO PUBLISH JOURNALS, TO HOLD MEETINGS, TO CONTEST ELECTIONS, ETC.
- THUS, THE FORMATION OF A BROAD MOVEMENT, A UNITED
FRONT FOR THE RESTORATION AND EXTENSION OF SUCH DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS WOULD
BE A PROGRESSIVE STEP IN EXISTING CONDITIONS WHICH MARXIST-LENINISTS WOULD
- IN 1970 THE "HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE" WAS
FOUNDED IN THE SOVIET UNION ON THE INITIATIVE OF ANDREI SAKHAROV. ITS
DEMOCRATISATION OF THE SOVIET STATE; LEGAL
FREEDOM FOR POLITICAL PARTIES OTHER THAN THE CPSU TO EXIST AND TO CONTEST
ELECTIONS; FREEDOM OF DISCUSSION; FREEDOM TO DISTRIBUTE LITERATURE NOT
IN LINE WITH THE POLICY OF THE STATE; FREEDOM OF ENTRY FOR FOREIGN LITERATURE;
STEPS TO PREVENT THE EXISTING PRACTICE OF INCARCERATING SANE POLITICAL
DISSIDENTS IN PSYCHIATRIC HOSPITALS.
- THESE ARE DEMANDS WHICH, IN RELATION TO THE CONTEMPORARY
SOVIET UNION, MARXIST-LENINISTS MUST FULLY SUPPORT.
- DOES THIS MEAN, THEREFORE, THAT. MARXIST-LENINISTS
SHOULD SUPPORT THE "HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE" WHICH PUTS FORWARD THESE DEMANDS?
- THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION REQUIRES AN ANALYSIS
OF THE ACTUAL POLITICAL POSITION ADOPTED BY SAKHAROV.
Andrei Dmitrivich Sakharov was born in
Moscow in 1921, the son of a professor of physics at the Lenin Pedagogical
Institute, Dmitri Sakarov. He graduated in physics at the University of
Moscow in 1942 and for the rest of the war worked as an engineer in a war
In 1947, at the age of 26, he received the degree
of Candidate of Doctor of Science for work on cosmic rays at the Lebedev
Institute of Physics under Igor Tamm.
In the spring of 1948 he commenced work, together
with Tamm, under conditions of strict secrecy in Turkmenia on the production
of a thermonuclear (hydrogen) bomb, which was accomplished in advance
of the United States. During this period he was in receipt of a very high
salary (21000 roubles a month), a chauffeur-driven car, a personal bodyguard,
special housing and other privileges. He also received a Stalin Prize
and three Orders of Socialist Labour. In 1953 he was elected a member
of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
In 1958 he organised his first campaign against
the policies of the goverment, to the effect that students of physics
and mathematics should be exempted from the provisions requiring students
to work for a period on the land or in a factory.
In the same year he initiated the first of a series
of campaigns against the atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons by the
There followed, in 1962, a campaign against the biological
theories of Lysenko, and in 1966 a campaign in opposition to the
official softening of propaganda against Stalin.
In June 1968 he published his first manifesto, entitled
"Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
which was widely circulated in samizdat (underground duplicated
In August.1968 he was dismissed from his nuclear
weapons post, and in the following year went to work at the Physics Institute
of the Academy of Sciences.
In the-autumn of 1970 he formed the "'Human
Sakharov is, of course no Marxist-Leninist. In
1968, however, he described 'his views as "profoundly socialist":
"The views of the present author are profoundly socialist, and. he
hopes that the attentive reader will understand this".
But by 1973 he had become "sceptical" about socialism,
doubtful whether it was "a good form of society", and described himself
as a "liberal":
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968, in: H. E. Salisbury (Ed.): "Sakharov Speaks"; London; 1975; p. 72).
"What is socialism? I began by thinking that I understood it and that
it was good. Then gradually I ceased to understand a great deal – I didn't
even understand its economic basis; I couldn't make out whether there was
anything to it but mere words and propaganda. . .
He believes firmly, however, that capitalist society
is capable of indefinite progressive development and is not inferior
to socialist society:
"There are no grounds for asserting as is often done in the dogmatic
vein, that the capitalist mode of production leads the economy into a blind
alley or that it is obviously inferior to the socialist mode in labour
productivity. . .
I am sceptical about socialism in general. I don't see that socialism
offers some new kind of theoretical plan so to speak, for the better organisation
of society. I am a liberal or a 'gradualist', if you please".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1975, in: ibid.; p.
136, 141, 143).
The continuing economic progress being achieved under capitalism should
be a fact of great theoretical significance for any non-dogmatic Marxist.
There is real economic progress in the United States and other capitalist
countries…. there has been real improvement in the position of the-working
(A .D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968 in: ibid.; p. 86).
The fact that there are millionaires in the United
States does not, he says naively, mean that there is significant exploitation
of the workers, for there is only a "small number" of millionaires:
"The presence of millionaires in the United States is not a serious
economic burden in view of their small number".
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 87)
There is, he admits, ‘oppression of the black people
' in the United States but this is the fault of "white racist workers"
and the ruling group of the country is "doing its best" to eliminate
"I have no intention of minimising the tragic aspects of the poverty,
lack of rights and humiliation of the twenty-two million American Negroes.
But we must clearly understand that this problem is not primarily a class
problem, but a racial problem, involving the racism and egotism of the
white workers, and that the ruling group in the United States is interested
in solving this problem".
(A.D. Sakharov. ibid.; p. 87).
By adopting measures of "state planning" the ruling
groups in the capitalist countries have eliminated economic crises he says:
"By introducing into the economy of the country elements of state regulation
and planning these countries have rid themselves of the destructive crises
that earlier tore capitalist economies apart".
Naturally, therefore, Sakharov holds that socialist
revolution in capitalist countries is not merely unnecessary but
would be "economically disruptive":
Sakharov is vaguely aware that contemporary Soviet society
is one of state capitalism (although he confuses this with "socialism"):
"Actually, what hits you in the eye is the state's extreme concentration,
-- economic, political and ideological -- that is, its extreme monopolisation
of these fields. One may say … that it is simple state capitalism, that
the state has simply assumed a monopoly role over all the economy. But
in that case socialism contains nothing new" .
(A. D. Sakharov: Memorandum II, 1970, in: ibid.; p. 101).
(A. D. Sakharov; Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid.; p.
He sees contemporary Soviet society, in other words,
as a form of capitalism (a form which Marxist-Leninists call "state
monopoly capitalism") fundamentally similar to the state monopoly capitalism
which exists in the older capitalist countries, but with a greater degree
of state monopoly:
"The development of modern society in both the Soviet Union and the
United States is now following the same course of increasing complexity
of structure and of industrial management, giving rise in both countries
to managerial groups that are similar in social character.
We must therefore acknowledge that there is no qualitative
difference in the structure of society of the two countries in terms of
distribution of consumption. . . The managerial group in the Soviet Union
(and, to a lesser extent, in the United States) is rewarded in the sphere
of consumption by concealed privileges".
(A.D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom"' 1968,
in: ibid,; p. 88-89).
"Socialism (i.e.:, the pseudo-socialism which exists in the Soviet Union
--Ed.) is only an extreme form of that capitalist path of development found
in the United States and other Western countries, but in an extremely monopolised
He draws the correct conclusion that it is for this
reason that Soviet society is confronted with the same social _problems
that are to be found in the older capitalist world:
"Thus, we should not be surprised that we have the same kinds of problems
-- that is, crime and personal alienation -- that are to be found in the
(older -- Ed.) capitalist world".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid.; p.
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 137).
But, in contrast to the "economic progress" he professes
to see in the older capitalist countries, the picture he draws of the contemporary
Soviet Union is one of almost unremitting economic and social stagnation
"As far as our country is concerned, . . there is still great inequality
in property between the city and the countryside, especially in rural areas
that lack a transport outlet to the private market or do not produce any
goods in demand in private trade. There are great differences between cities
with some of the new, privileged industries and those with older, antiquated
industries.. As a result, 40% of the Soviet population is in difficult
economic circumstances. In the United States about 25%o of the population
is on the verge of poverty".
(A.D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom", 1968,
in:'ibid.; p. 88).
"In the course of the past decade, threatening signs of breakdown and
stagnation have been observed in the national economy of our country. ..
. The growth rate of the national income is steadily dropping. …. Necessary
reserves for the development of production are not available or are not
utilised, and technical progress is sharply impeded.
The natural wealth of the country is frequently
destroyed without control and with impunity; forests are cut down; water
reservoirs are polluted; valuable agricultural lands are despoiled; soil
is eroded and rendered unfit for cultivation; and so forth. It is common
knowledge that there is a chronically grave situation in agriculture, especially
in livestock. Real income of the population in recent years has hardly
risen; nourishment, medical services, and everyday services improve very
slowly and unequally between regions. The items of goods in short supply
grow. There, are obvious signs of inflation. Especially alarming for the
future of our country is a slowdown in the development of education. Factually,
our general expenditures on education of all types are less than in the
United States and are growing more slowly. There is a tragic growth of
alcoholism and narcotics addiction is beginning to make itself felt. In
many regions of the country crime is rising systematically, including crime
among teenagers and youth. . . .
Productivity of labour as before remains many times
lower than the (older -- Ed.) developed capitalist countries, and its growth
is slowing down. This situation is particularly grave if you compare it
with the situation in leading (older -- Ed) capitalist countries in particular
the United States".
(A.D. Sakharov: Manifesto 11, 1970, in: ibid,; p. 99-.101).
"Our, society is, infected by apathy, hypocrisy, petit bourgeois egoism
and hidden cruelty. Drunkenness has assumed the dimension of a national
calamity. It is one of the symptoms of the moral degradation of a society
that is sinking ever deeper into a state of chronic alcoholic poisoning".
Sakharov expresses particular concern that the development
of Soviet computer technology (which he describes as "the second
industrial revolution") is lagging far behind that in the United
"We are immeasurably behind in computer technology. This phenomenon
is justly called the second industrial revolution. Yet the capacity of
our computers is hundreds of times less than that of the United States".
(A. D. Sakharov: Postscript to Meiziorandum, 1972, in: ibid.; p. .128).
(A. D. Sakharov: Manifesto II, 1970, in: ibid.; p. 101).
The "Cause" of Soviet Degeneration
Sakharov presents as the cause of the social and economic
degeneration in the Soviet Union not, of course, the triumph of revisionism
in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the restoration of an essentially
capitalist social system.
HE PRESENTS AS THE PRIMARY CAUSE THE REPRESSION OF FREEDOM OF THOUGHT
AMONG, AND THE INADEQUATE MATERIAL REWARDS GIVEN TO, THE SOVIET INTELLIGENTSIA
AND ITS ALIENATION, AS A RESULT, FROM THE SOVIET STATE APPARATUS:
Sakharov's "solution" to the economic and social problems
of the Soviet Union follows from his "analysis": THE STATE SHOULD WIN THE
WHOLEHEARTED COOPERATION OF THE INTELLIGENTSIA BY PERMITTING IT COMPLETE
INTELLECTUAL FREEDOM AND BY RAISING ITS STANDARD OF LIVING AND SOCIAL STATUS.
"Democratisation with full information and competition must return
to our ideological life (social science, art, propaganda) its essential
dynamism and creative character. . .
"The source of our difficulties . . lies in . . limitations on the exchange
of information, restrictions of intellectual freedom and other anti-democratic
distortions of socialism.
It is supposed that these distortions did not affect seriously the
country’s economy, . . but . . there is no doubt that with the beginning
of the second industrial revolution these phenomena have become the decisive
economic factor and the basic obstacle to the development of the country's
Freedom of information and creativity are essential for the intelligentsia
because of the nature of its activities and its social function.
The desire of the intelligentsia for greater freedom is legitimate
and natural. The state, however, suppresses this desire through all kinds
restrictions ---administrative pressure, dismissals from work, and even
trials. This brings about mutual distrust and profound mutual misunderstanding,
which makes most difficult any fruitful cooperation between the Party state
structure and the most active -- that is, the most socially valuable --
strata of the intelligentsia". (A.D. Sakharov: ibid; p. 102-3, 105-6).
"The intelligentsia is quite illegally suppressed.. It is materially
badly off. It is not distinguished from physical work and is poorly provided
for. And in absolute terms its living standard is very low in comparison
with western countries that have reached a comparable stage of development.
The oppressed situation of the intelligentsia and .its economic oppression
as well mean ideological oppression, which is reflected in a certain anti-intellectual
atmosphere in the country, in which the intellectual professions do not
receive the respect they should have". (A. D. Sakharov: Interview with
Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid.; p. 145).
A policy of democratisation would remove the gap
between the Party-state apparatus and the intelligentsia. Mutual lack of
understanding would be replaced by close cooperation. A policy of democratisation
would stimulate enthusiasm comparable to that of the 1920s. The best intellectual
forces of the country would be mobilised for the solution of economic and
(A. D. Sakharov: Manifesto II, 1970, in: ibid.; p. 106).
Sakharov appears to see the working class as playing
no significant role in resolving these economic and social problems, for
nowhere in the English edition of his published writings (selected with
the author's approval) does he call for "intellectual freedom" or improved
material conditions for the working class. On the contrary, he expresses
the typical snobbery of the bourgeois intellectual for the working class
when he says:
"The position of the intelligentsia in society renders senseless any
loud demands that the intelligentsia subordinate its strivings to the will
and interests of the working class".
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968; in: ibid.; p. 55).
From the fact that the social system in the, pseudo-socialist
world and in the older capitalist world have in recent years become more
alike, Sakharov draws the conclusion that world society and particularly
the societies of the Soviet Union and the United States are undergoing
"now inevitable process of rapprochement of the two systems."
(A.D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 90),
which he calls:
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 94).
He sees this "socialist convergence" as leading to
a utopian state of affairs in which the Soviet Union and the United States
disarm and collaborate to help the poorer nations of the world under eventually,
a world government:
"The Soviet Union and the United States, having overcome their alienation
solve the problem of saving the poorer half of the world. …… At the same
time disarmament will proceed………… In the fourth Stage, the Socialist Convergence
will lead to the creation of a world government".
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 94).
Sakharov appears to be quite ignorant of the fact of
imperialist war, of the fact that states with essentially the same social
system of monopoly capitalism or imperialism are driven inevitably by economic
causes inherent in that system into war with one another, for he professes
to believe that this "Convergence" is inevitable simply because if it did
not occur mankind would be destroyed by war:
"The division of mankind threatens it with destruction. Civilisation
is threatened by a universal thermonuclear war. …. Only universal cooperation
. . will preserve civilisation".
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 53-54).
"I consider that it will be possible to overcome the tragic conflicts
and dangers of our time only through the convergence of (the older -- Ed.)
capitalism and the (pseudo- Ed.) socialist regime".
(A.D. Sakharov: Postscript to Memorandum, 1972: in: ibid.; p. 127).
"I have written about elimination of the mortal danger of thermonuclear
war as the main problem facing mankind. . . . . I have believed and believe
now that the only real way to solve world problems is the movement of each
side towards the other, the convergence of the (older - Ed.) capitalist
and (pseudo - Ed.) socialist systems".
The "convergence" for which Sakharov calls is not, however,
mere détente - but detente desirably accompanied by changes
in the social system of the older capitalist countries and necessarily
accompanied by changes in the social system of the pseudo-socialist
(A. D. Sakharov: "A Clarification"; 1973, in: ibid.; p. 168;)
While detente without changes in the social system
of the older capitalist countries would be acceptable to Sakharov,
detente without changes in the social system of the Soviet Union would,
in his view, be "dangerous":
"With the passage of years it became more and more apparent to him
(i.e., Sakharov - Ed.) that genuine detente could not be achieved when
one partner was, in essence only half free". (H. E. Salisbury: Foreword
to: ibid.; p. 27).
"The world faces two alternatives -- either gradual convergence with
democratisation within the Soviet Union, or increasing confrontation with
a growing danger of thermonuclear war. . . Rapprochement without democratisation,
rapprochement in which the West in effect accepts the Soviet Union rule's
of the game.. . . . would be dangerous in the sense that it would not really
solve any of the world’s problems. . . . . If rapprochement were to proceed
totally without qualifications, on Soviet terms, it would pose a threat
to the world as a whole.
Question: In what way?
It would mean cultivation and encouragement of a closed country".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Foreign Correspondents; 1973; In: ibid.;
The Desirable Changes in
the Older Capitalist World
The changes which Sakharov considers desirable in the older capitalist
world are far from revolutionary; they are:
These social changes will be brought about as a result
of the coming to power of a "left wing" of monopoly capital as a
result of pressure from:
1) an improvement in the protection of workers' rights;
2) a reduction in the role of militarism;
3) an extension of the cooperative movement; and
4) extension of State ownership of economic enterprises:
"In (the older -- Ed.) capitalist countries this process (of convergence
-- Ed.) must be accompanied by a further improvement of worker rights and
a reduction in the role of militarism and its influence on political life".
(A.D. Sakhorov: Postscript to Memorandum, 1972, in: ibid,; p. 127).
"Such a rapprochement implies not only wide social reform in the (order
-Ed.) capitalist countries, but also substantial changes in the structure
of ownership, with a greater role played by government .and cooperative
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968 in: ibid.; p. 91).
He names as a "typical representative" of this
left-wing of monopoly capital "especially" US President John Kennedy, remembered
for his role in the Cuba crisis of 1962:
"Typical representatives of the reformist bourgeoisie are Cyrus Eaton,
President Franklin D. Roosevelt and, especially, President John F. Kennedy".
1) the pseudo-socialist states; and
2) the working class and intelligentsia within those countries:
"In the United States -and other (older -- Ed.) capitalist countries
pressure exerted by the example of the (pseudo- Ed.) socialist countries
and by internal progressive forces (the working class and intelligentsia)
will lead to the victory of the leftist reformist wing of the bourgeoisie,
which will begin to implement a programme of social progress".
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968, in: ibid.; p. 93).
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 91)
The "Essential" Changes
in the Pseudo-Socialist Countries
The changes which Sakharov regards as "essential" in
the Soviet Union and the other pseudo-socialist countries included as has
been said, the granting of "intellectual freedom" to the Soviet
"It is urgently necessary to carry out a series of measures directed
towards the further democratisation of public life in the country. . .
. . Freedom of information and creativity 'are essential for the intelligentsia.
. . . . .
Democratisation with full information and competition
must return to our ideological life ……..its essential dynamism and creative
An end to jamming foreign broadcasts. Free sale
of foreign books and periodicals. Gradual over three or four years) expansion
and easing of international tourism on both sides. Freer international
correspondence and other measures for the expansion of international contacts.
Establishment of an institute, for the study of
public opinion. Amnesty for political prisoners.
(A. D. Sakharov: Manifesto II, 1970; in. ibid.; p. 98, 105, 106, l08).
"It is essential to work out a clear-cut and consistent programme of
further democratisation and liberalisation. . . .
The jamming of foreign radio broadcasts should be stopped, most foreign
literature brought in from abroad and foreign travel facilitated".
(A.D. Sakharov: Memorandum, 1971, in: ibid.; p.118; 123).
"I consider the democratisation of society, the development of openness
in public affairs, the rule of law, and the safeguarding of basic human
rights to be of decisive importance. . . Full intellectual freedom must
be assured and all forms of persecution for beliefs must cease. . . ..
The most essential condition for the cure of our society is the abandonment
of political persecution, in its judicial and psychiatric forms or in any
other form of which out bureaucratic and bigoted system, with its totalitarian
interference by the state in the lives of the citizens, is capable".
(A. D. Sakharov: Postscript to Memorandum, 1972 in: ibid.; p. 128,
"In these interviews I also emphasised the importance of mutual trust,
which requires extensive public disclosure and an open society, democratisation,
free dissemination of information, the exchange of ideas, and respect for,
all the fundamental rights of the individual -- in particular respect for
everyone's right to choose the country in which he wishes to live".
He sees as one of the first results of this democratisation
legal freedom for opposition parties to exist and to contest elections:
"In the Soviet Union and other (pseudo- Ed,) socialist countries,
this process will lead first to a multiparty system (here and there)".
(A. D. Sakharov: '"A Clarification"; 1973; in: ibid.; p. 169).
(A.D. Sakharov: "Progressl Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom", 1968;
in: ibid.; p.93).
"Quite possibly the single-party system is excessively and unnecessarily
rigid. We need elections to state organs with a certain number of candidates".
A Programme Directed towards
the Intelligentsia and Petty Bourgeois
Clearly, Sakharov's political programme is directed
not towards the working class, but primarily towards the intelligentsia.
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Ollo Stenholm; 1973, in: ibid.; p.
It is directed not only towards the scientific
(in the narrow sense of the term) intelligentsia to which Sakharov
himself belongs, but also towards the educational and medical intelligentsia
which he describes as:
"two of the most numerous and socially significant groups of the intelligentsia"
(A. D, Sakharov, Postscript to Memorandumi 1972, in: ibid; p. 129).
He calls for:
"Improvement in the material situation of teachers, giving them greater
independence and the right to experiment".
(A.D. Sakharov: Manifesto II 1970, in: ibid.; p. 109).
"Increased salaries and-independence for school-teachers and college
In fact, Sakharov directs his appeal particularly
to those intellectuals in the educational and medical fields whose
petty bourgeois outlook makes them wish to change their social status
to that of the self-employed petty bourgeoisie. He calls for:
"increased opportunity for and profitability of private initiative
in the health service, education, etc."
(A. D. Sakharov: Memorandum, 1971, in: ibid.; p. 124).
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 123).
Sakharov’s political programme is directed also towards
the artistic intelligentsia:
"A review should be carried out of those aspects of the inter-relations
between the Party-state apparatus and art, literature, organs of education,
etc., that are harmful to the development of culture in our country, reduce
the boldness and versatility of the creative endenvour, and lead to conventionality,
greyness and ritual repetition".
(A.D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 123).
"The right of an author to write and publish that which is dictated
by his conscience and duty as an artist is one of the most basic in civilised
society. This right cannot be limited by national boundaries…………
Sakharov's political programme is also directed towards
the peasantry, here also encouraging the petty bourgeois outlook
which turns their attention to the development of their private
plots rather than to the development of the collective or state farms.
"Measures to promote the expansion agricultural prosperity on private
plots belonging to collective farmers, workers on state farms, and individual
We are convinced there are no legal grounds for
prosecuting Solzhenitsyn for his having published his now book 'The Gulag
Archipelago" - abroad, just as there are no grounds for prosecuting anyone
for similar acts".
(A. D. Sakharov: Declaration on Solzhenitsyn; 1974, in: ibid.; p. 181-2).
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 122).
It also encourages the outright bourgeois outlook,
which makes collective farmers wish to become kulaks, i.e.,
rural capitalists. He demands that collective farms should have:
"permission to hire and pay labourers in accordance with the requirements
of the job".
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 122-3).
BUT THE FACT THAT SAKHAROV'S POLITICAL PROGRAMME IS DIRECTED TOWARDS PETTY
BOURGEOIS, AND ASPIRING PETTY BOURGEOISIE STRATA OF SOVIET SOCIETY DOES
NOT MEAN THAT THIS POLITICAL PROGRAMME SERVES THE INTERESTS OF THESE STRATA.
As Lenin often pointed out, in a developed capitalist
society, such as the contemporary Soviet Union, a political programme must
objectively serve the interests of one or other of the two basis classes
in society: it must either serve the interests of the capitalist class
(or a section of it) Or it must serve the interests of the working
A political programme which actually serves
the interests of the petty bourgeoisie must be one which serves the interests
of the working class one which strives to build unity between at
least the poorer strata of the petty bourgeoisie and the working class,
one which leads towards a socialist revolution.
Sakharov's political programme certainly does not
serve the interests of the Soviet working class; it certainly, does not
seek to mobilise them for a socialist revolution.
IT IS THEREFORE, A POLITICAL PROGRAMME WHICH ALTHOUGH DIRECTED
PRIMARILY TOWARDS, THE SOVIET INTELLIGENTSIA AND PETTY BOURGEOISIE;
ACTUALLY SERVES THE INTERESTS OF THE SOVIET CAPITALIST CLASS (OR
A SECTION OF IT).
Change from Outside
How does Sakharov envisage the changes in Soviet
monopoly-capitalism which he advocates being brought about? He sees, these
changes as being brought about gradually:
"Democratisation must be gradual in order to avoid possible complications
and disruptions". (A. D. Sakharov: Manifesto II, 1970, in: ibid.; p. 99).
Secondly, he sees them as , being brought about
"The plan we propose shows, in our view that it is quite possible
to outline a programme of democratisation that is acceptable to the Party
and the state and satisfies, as a first approximation to the urgent demands
of the nation's development".
(A.D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 110).
"The Committee (for Human Rights - Ed) …… is, of course, a totally loyal
association. ……… I like to believe that the character of my activities
will ultimately be understood. Question: Loyal to what?
Thirdly he sees them as being brought about within
the false facade of "socialism" which is maintained within
the Soviet Union:
"Democratisation must facilitate the maintenance and, strengthening
of the Soviet socialist system . .. of the socialist economic structure,
of Socialist ideology".
Answer: Loyal in the literal meaning of the word, namely lawful".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Foreign Correspondents, 1973, in: ibid.;
p. 159, 160).
(A.D. Sakharov: Manifesto II, 1970, in: ibid.; p. 99).
Fourthly: he sees them as being brought about
on the initiative of the revisionist Communist Party of the Soviet
Union,-- as a result of changes in the leadership and policy of that
party and in such a way that even within a multi-party systems the "leading
role" of that party in society is maintained:
"Democratisation carried out under the direction of the CPSU in cooperation
with all levels of society should preserve and strengthen the leading role
of the Party in the economic, political and cultural life of society".
(A. D. Sakharov: ibid.; p. 99).
Fifthly, although he directs his political programme
primarily towards the view intelligentsia and petty bourgeoisie, he does
not believe that the changes he advocates (including the changes in the
leadership and policy of the CPSU required to initiate the programme) can
be brought about from within Soviet society:
"Question: What can be done to correct all this?
Answer: It seems to me that almost nothing can be done.
Question; Why not?
Answer: Because the system has a very strong internal stability. Within
the Soviet Union certainly some kind of process is going on, but so far
it is so imperceptible and hidden that it's not possible to forecast anything
positive, any general change; and as for positive things .... well,
it's almost impossible".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid.;
p. 140, 141).
IT FOLLOWS THAT THE "INEVITABLE" CHANGES HE ENVISAGES, INCLUDING THE CHANGES
IN THE LEADERSHIP AND POLICY OF THE CPSU REQUIRED TO INITIATE THE PROGRAMME,
MUST, IN SAKHAROV’S VIEW, BE BROUGHT ABOUT PRIMARILY AS A RESULT
OF EXTERNAL PRESSURE FROM FOREIGN STATES.
Indeed, in expressing his support for the Jackson-Vanik
Amendment (an amendment to the US Trade Bill under which most-favoured-nation
treatment would be withheld from the Soviet union unless the government
of that country agreed to permit unrestricted emigration of its citizens)
Sakharov goes so far as to speak of "SOME SORT OF CONTROL" from abroad:
"Adoption of the Jackson Amendment strikes me as a minimal step that
would be significant not only by itself, but also as a symbolic expression
of the view that rapprochement must involve some sort of control to ensure
that this country will not become a threat to its neighbours".
(A. D. Sakharov; Interview with Foreign Correspondents, 1973, in: ibid.;
Sakharov's letter to the United States of September
1974 is, in fact, a direct appeal to the US imperialists to exert
external pressure upon the Soviet leadership in the direction
of bringing about such changes:
"For decades the Soviet Union has been developing under conditions
of intolerable isolations bringing with it the ugliest consequences. Even
a partial preservation of those conditions would be highly perilous for
all mankind, for international confidence and detente..
In view of the foregoing, I am appealing to the Congress of the United
States to give its support to the Jackson Amendment, which represents -
in my view and in the view of its sponsors, an attempt to protect the right
of emigration of citizens in countries that are entering into now and friendlier
relations with the United States".
(A. D. Sakharov: A Letter to the Congress of the United States, 1973,
in: ibid; p. 172).
In line with his call for the application of external
pressure upon the Soviet leadership by the United States imperialists,
and his expressed belief that there must be a "socialist convergence" between
the USA and the USSR, the foreign policy he advocates for a "reformed"
Soviet government is (or was so at the time he put it forward) completely
in line with that of US imperialism.
In the case of the national-liberation struggle of
the Vietnamese people against US imperialism, and in the case of
the anti-imperialist struggle of the Arab peoples against the US
dependency of Israel, he demanded an end to Soviet support - direct
or indirect, for these struggles in order that a "peaceful settlement"
might be brought about "on the basis of a compromise":
"We should alter our political position in the Middle East and in
Vietnam and actively seek, through the United States and diplomatic channels,
a peaceful settlement in the shortest possible time, on the basis of a
compromise, with the renunciation by . . the USSR of any intervention,
military or political, direct or indirect".
(A.D. Sakharov: Memorandum, 1973, in: ibid.; p. 117).
During the Arab-Israeli war of October 1973 he expressed
support for Israel and called for "retaliatory action" by
the United States imperialists against the Soviet Union unless Soviet support
for the Arab peoples was repudiated:
"For Israel in this war, just as in the wars of 1949, 1956 and 1967,
what is at stake is the very existence of the state, the right to life
Question: What steps can the United States and Western nations
take to terminate the war?
Answer: Call upon the USSR and (pseudo - Ed,) socialist countries to
abandon the policy of one-sided interference in the Arab-Israel conflicts
and take retaliatory measures if this policy of interference continued.
. .. .
Question: At the present time do you intend to criticise the
policy of Israel's leaders?
Answer: No. That country, which is the realisation of the Jewish people's
right to a state, is today fighting for its existence surrounded by enemies
who exceed it in population and material resources many times over".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Foreign Correspondents 1973, in: ibid.;
The foreign policy which Sakharov proposed should be
followed by a Soviet government was that of supporting the military
occupation of Indo-China and the Western Mediterranean area by imperialist
troops operating under the flag of the United Nations, as in Korea:
"We should . . actively seek . . the promotion of . . the proposal
that UN troops be widely used to safeguard political and military stability
in these areas".
(A. D. Sakharov: Memorandum 1971, in: ibid.; p. ll7-18).
The manner in which Sakharovtr, outlook on the world
situation is conditioned by the foreign policy of the United States imperialists
is strikingly illustrated in his attitude towards China:
In 1968 Sakharov
"In recent years demagogy, violence, cruelty and vileness have seized
a great country embarked on the path of (pseudo- Ed,) socialist development.
I refer of course, to China. It is impossible without horror and pain to
read about the mass contagion of anti-humanism being spread by 'the great
helmsman' and his accomplices. . . .
But by 1973, following the rapprochement of United States
imperialism with China as a result of the victory of the counter-revolutionary
"cultural revolution" carried out by the pro-US landlord and comprador
capitalist forces, China, had suddenly become, to Sakharov "non-aggressive"
and directed more towards revolutionary self-assertion" than territorial
"I wrote then (i.e. in 1971 - Ed.) about the Chinese problem in a
tone I would not use today, because at that time I simply did not understand
our relations with China. For example I would not now blame China for aggression.
. . .
The idiocy of the cult of personality has assumed
in China monstrous, grotesquely tragi-comic forms. . .
The crimes of the Maoists against human rights have
gone much too far".
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968, in ibid: p. 74, 75).
And in 1970:
"The prospect becomes particularly menacing if one takes into consideration
the presence of a danger from Chinese totalitarian-nationalism."
(A.D. Sakharov, Manifesto II; in Ibid; p. 113).
And in 1971:
"Our chief foreign policy problem is our relations with China, …. We
must display specia1 concern for the safeguarding of our national security,
. . . keeping this element in mind".
(A. D. Sakharov: Memorandum, 1971; p. 120-21).
China itself is directed more towards revolutionary
self-assertion both internally and in the outer world than, for example,
with expanding her territory".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in; ibid; p. 143).
Sakharov's public appeal to the United-States
imperialists has been criticised by his fellow reformer "Roy
Medvevdev in a statement of November 7th., 1973. Medvedevs’ strategy
is a little different from that of Sakharov.
He believes that:
"international détente will undoubtedly. . promote the broadening
of democratic rights and freedoms in our country".
and admits that:
"…the intellectuals …… are too weak to bring it (i.e. democratisation
– Ed) about."
(R. Medvedev: "The Problem of Democratisation & Détente";
in "Keesing's Contemporary Archive's Volume 20; 1974; p. 26403)
(R. Medvedev: ibid p. 26403).
He agrees with Sakharov that:
"… pressure from abroad can produce, an effect, as was shown by the
abandonment of the education tax on emigrants and the ending of the recent
campaign against Dr. Sakharhov". (R. Medvedev: ibid.; p, 26403).
Nevertheless, Medvedev disagrees with Sakharov's tactics
of publicly appealing to the United States imperialists. He
insists that the public political line of the Soviet Reformers must
be to state that:
"…..democratisation must come from Soviet society itself, including
its present and future leaders".
(R..Medvedev: ibid; p. 26403).
In his "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom"
of 1968, Sakharov pays tribute to Medvedev's catalogue of Stalin’s "crimes"
(Published in Britain in 1972 under the title "Let History Judge") and
"The present author, is not likely to receive such a compliment from
Comrade Medvedev, who finds elements of ‘Westernism’ in his views".
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom",
1968; Ibid.; p. 71-72).
In important respects the political programme put forward
by Sakharov resembles that put forward by Nikita Khrushchov during
the period when the latter held the positions of First Secretary of the
Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1953-56) and Prime Minister (1955-64).
Khrushchov also directed his political programme
to the intelligentsia (e.g., liberialisation of the state) and to
the petty bourgeoisie (e.g., the handing over of the agricultural
machinery of the State Machine and Tractor Stations to the collective farms).
And Khrushchov also sought "collaboration" with
United States imperialism and presented a utopian picture of a "partnership"
between the USA and USSR which would save the world from war.
"The Soviet government headed by N. S. Khrushchov pursued
a foreign policy the cardinal point of which was collaboration with
United States imperialism. The international situation as a whole depends
to a large extent on the relations between the United States of America
and the Soviet Union".
As the Report of the Central Committee
of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain on "Centrist"
Revisionism (March 1970) expressed it:
(N. S. Khrushchov: Speech at the Soviet Indian Friendship Rally, September
'History has imposed on our two peoples a great responsibility for the
destiny of the world'. (N. S. Khrushchov & L. I. Brezhnev: New Year
Greetings to President Kennedy; December 30th., 1961).
"Our interests do not clash directly anywhere, either territorially
(N. S. Khrushchov: Interview with Gardner Cowles, April 20th., 1962)
‘Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchov acts like an American politician'
But by the early 1960s the harmful effects of
the Khrushchovite foreign policy on the world position of the Soviet neo-capitalist
class were obvious:
"Six months after Khrushchov had declared -- that Soviet and US interests
'do not clash anywhere' came the Caribbean crisis in which the Soviet revisionists
were compelled to withdraw their missile bases from Cuba and to submit
to the ignominy of suffering their ships to be examined on the high seas
by US warships. By this time, too, it had become clear that the Khrushchovite
policy had caused great loss of Soviet influence in many colonial-type
(US Under-Secretary of State Harriman, in television interview, August
(CC, MLOB: Report on "Centrist" Revisionism. in RED FRONT, March 1970;
(CC, MLOB: Report on "Centrist" Revisionism, in: RED FRONT, March 1970;
in Red front; March, 1970; p.14).
As a result, a different section of the Soviet
neo-capitalist class to that whose political interests were represented
by Khrushchov were able:
". . though not without continuing opposition, to jettison the 1968
Khrushchovite policy of making collaboration with US imperialism thecornerstone
of foreign policy -- together with, in October 1964, its principal architect,
Khrushchov – and gradually to reorientate this foreign policy into one
the cardinal point of which was collaboration with all capitalist classes
and strata in the world which are in contradiction with US imperialism".
(CC, MLOB: ibid.; p. 23)
Thus, in important respects the political programme
now being put forward by Sakharov resembles that formerly put forward by
Nikita Khrushchov and be described as "neo-Khrushchovism"
As has been said, the political programme put forward
by Sakharov objectively serves the interests of the Soviet neo-capitalist
class (or a. section of it).
But the revisionist leadership of the CPSU and the
Soviet state apparatus certainly serves the interests of the Soviet neo-capitalist
class (or a section of it).
THE CONTRADICTION, BETWEEN THESE TWO, PR0GRAMMES REFLECTS THE FACT
THAT EACH PROGRAMME REPRESENTS THE INTERESTS OF A DIFFERENT SECTION
OF THE SOVIET NEO-CAPITALIST CLASS -- SECTIONS WHOSE INTERESTS ARE,
AT LEAST TO SOME EXTENT, IN CONTRADICTION.
The section of the Soviet neo-capitalist class whose
interests are represented by the revisionist leadership of the CPSU
and of the Soviet state is in fact, that section involved in heavy industry,
including armaments, and in particular that of the Russian Republic.
The section of the Soviet neo-capitalist class whose
interests are represented by Sakharov and the group associated with him
is that section involved in the 'consumer goods industries, and in particular
that of the non-Russian Republics.
Thus, although Sakharov's political activity is mainly
concerned with the demand for "intellectual freedom", he regards the economic,
points of his programme as "more important":
"Question: You know that the right of free exit . . . .. .
The contradiction between the section of the state capitalist
class which Sakharov objectively represents and the dominating element
in the leadership of the CPSU and the Soviet-state is illustrated by his
references to the latter as "the military-industrial complex" which,
he implies ‘has no "sense of responsibility to humanity":
Answer: (it) is one of the conditions the country needs for development
along healthier lines. But there are things of an economic nature that
are more important".
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholms ' 1973, in: ibid.; p.
"The role of the military-industrial complex in United-States policy
has been thoroughly studied. The analogous role played by the same factors
in the USSR and other (pseudo - Ed.) socialist countries is less well known.
It is however, necessary to point out that in no country does the share
of military expenditure with relation to the national income reach such
proportions, as in the USSR (over 40 %). . . .
It is because Sakharov's programme objectively serves
the interests of the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries
that he calls for:
One would like to believe that political leaders
and the people who have been active in the military-industrial complexes
of the United States and the USSR have a sense of responsibility towards
(A. D. Sakharov: Postscript to Memorandums 1972, in: ibid.; p.131).
"..personal initiative: (i.e., freedom of private enterprise – Ed)
in the field of consumer goods".
and for a reduction in military expenditure in
the Soviet Union, since this would enable resources to be diverted from
heavy industry to the consumer goods industries:
(A.D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid;
"In (pseudo- Ed.) socialist countries it is also essential to reduce
the militarisation of the economy".
It is also the reason for the contradiction between
the demands he makes for the older capitalist countries and those
he makes for the pseudo-socialist countries, including the Soviet Union.
(A.D. Sakharov:.Postscript to Memorandum, 1972, in: ibid.; p.127).
"I have believed and believe now that the only real way to solve world
problems is the movement of each side towards the other, accompanied by
(A. D. Sakharov: Interview with Foreign Correspondents, 1973, in: ibid.;
In the case of the older capitalist-countries
he declares that State "control of the economy is highly
desirable, and calls for its extension:
"By introducing into the economy of the country elements of state regulation
and planning, these (i.e, the older capitalist - Ed) countries have rid
themselves of the destructive crises that earlier tore capitalist economics
But in the case of the Soviet Union he demands
an extension of the 1965 "economic reforms" so as to bring about
a further reduction in state control of the economy. His call for "proper"
allocation of investment funds and material resources, taken in conjunction
with his demand for demilitarisation of the economy, is clearly designed
to secure the diversion of such funds and resources from heavy industry,
to the consumer goods industries. He demands further that these factors,
together with prices should be based ---as are now the production plans
of individual enterprises -- on the market:
(A.D. Sakharov: Manifesto 11; 1970; in: ibid.; p. 101).
"Such a rapprochement implies not only wide social reform in the (older
-- Ed,) capitalist countries, but also substantial changes in the structure
of ownership, with a greater role played by the government".
(A. D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom";
1968, in,: ibid.; p. 91).
"I consider that further advaces in our economic reform and a greater
role for economic and market factors . . . . . will help eliminate all
the roughness in our present distribution pattern. . . An even more important
aspect of the economic reform for the regulation and stimulation of production
is the establishment of a correct system of market prices, proper allocation
and rapid utilisation of investment funds, and proper use of natural and
human resources based on appropriate rents in the interest of our society".
He calls for:
(A.D. Sakharov: "Progress, Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom"; 1968,
in: ibid.; p. 89-90).
"Widespread organisation of industrial establishments with a high degree
of independence in questions of industrial planning and production processes,
sales, and supplies, finances and personnel, and widening those privileges
for smaller units".
(A. D. Sakharov; Manifesto II, 1970; in: ibid; p. 108).
"Extension of the 1965 economic reform, increase in the economic independence
of all units of production, review of a number of restrictive regulations
with regard to the selection of personnel, salaries and incentives, systems
of material supply and stocks, cooperation, choice of output profile, and
allocation of funds".
(A. D. Sakharov; Memorandum, 1971, in: ibid; p. 121).
"It is vitally necessary to weaken the extreme forms of centralism
and Party-state bureaucratic monopoly . . in the economic sphere of and
While admitting that state control might be "sensible'
in the fields of transport and large-scale industry, he deplores the
closing down of "private initiative" (i.e., private enterprise) in
areas "in which it would be most effective", areas which he names specifically
as the consumer goods industries, education and medicine.
(A.D. Sakharov:.'Postscript to Memorandum'; 1972, in: ibid; p.128).
"Our very extreme state, socialism has led to the closing down of private
initiative in areas in which it would be most effective, just as private
initiative has been eliminated in large-scale industry and in transport,
in which perhaps the state system of administration is more sensible. .
. . I am talking about personal initiative in the field of consumer goods,
education and medicine".
The interests of the state capitalists involved in the
consumer goods industries of the non-Russian Republics of the Soviet
Union are in particular contradiction with those represented by the leadership
of the CPSU and of the Soviet state. It is because Sakharov's programme
objectively serves the interests of these that he supports the "bourgeois
nationalism" fostered by these state capitalists and demands that "freedom
of secession" for these Republics should be applied in practice:
(A.D. Saharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm, 1973, in: ibid.; p. 144).
"We know that there are very strong nationalistic tendencies on the
periphery of our state. . . . In some cases for example, in the Ukraine
- - - they have become very strongly interwoven with democratic forces.
In the Baltic states it is the same."
The conflict between the (then embryonic) state capitalists
involved in heavy industry and those involved in the consumer goods industries
came into the open within a few months of Stalin’s death. On August 8th.,
1953 the now Prime Minister Georgi Malenkov told the Supreme Soviet:
(A.D. Sakharov: Interview with Olle Stenholm; 1973, in: ibid.; p. 141).
'The right of union republics to secede is proclaimed by the USSR Constitution.
There is, however, some vagueness in the relationship between these guarantees
and the procedures regarding preparation for, necessary discussion of,
and actual implementation of this right. In fact, the mere discussion of
such questions frequently leads to prosecution. In my opinion, a juridical
settlement of the problem and the passing of a law guaranteeing the right
to secession would be of great internal and international
(A. D. Sakharov: Memorandum; 1971, in: Ibid.; p. 125).
"On the basis of the success achieved in the development of heavy industry,
all the conditions exist for a sharp rise in the production of consumer
goods.. However, while the output of means of production as a whole has
risen in the last 28 years by almost 55 times, the production of consumer
goods during the same period has only increased 12 times, which cannot
be considered satisfactory .. Hitherto we have had no possibility of developing
light industry and the food industry at the same rate as heavy industry.
We must, therefore in the interests of ensuring a more rapid increase in
the standards of life of the people, promote the development of light industry
by every means".
It took the state capitalists involved in heavy industry
eighteen months to secure the official reversal of this policy and the
removal of its leading proponent, Malonkov. In his letter of resignation
of February 8th., 1955 Malenkov humbly recanted:
(G. Malenkov: Speech to Supreme Soviet, August 3th., 1953, cited in:
"Keesing's Contemporary Archives", Volume 9; P. 13096).
"On the initiative and under the leadership of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party, a general programme has been worked out.. . . The
programme is based on the only correct principle -- the further development
of heavy industry to the maximum. The further fulfilment of this programme
alone can create the necessary conditions for a real advance in the output
of all the consumer goods needed".
Malenkov's successor as Prime Minister was Marshal
Nikolai Bulganin, who, as a representative of the armed forces, might
be expected to give full support to the principle of priority for heavy
industry in the name of "defense". In his first speech as Prime Minister,
in fact Bulganin emphasised:
(G., Malenkov: Letter of Resignation to Supreme Soviets February 8th.,
1955, cited in 'Keesing's Contemporary Archives", Volume 10; p. 14033).
"Heavy industry is the basis of the defensive capacity of our country
and of our military forces. . . Heavy industry provides for the development
of all branches of our national economy, and is the source of the constant
growth of the well-being of the people".
In May 1957 First Secretary Nikita Khrushchov presented
to the Supreme Soviet his scheme to "decentralise" the state's control
of the economy. 25 industrial Ministries were to be abolished
and replaced by 92 Regional Economic Councils.
(N. Bulganin: Speech of February 9th., 1955, cited in: ibid.; p. 14033).
In June 1957 the representatives of Russian heavy
industry on the Presidium of the Central Committee of the CPSU allied themselves
with the surviving Marxist-Leninists, headed by Vyacheslay Molotov,
to reject the scheme. Khrushchov appealed to the Central Committee
itself, and succeeded in winning a majority of this body to condemn his
opponents as "an anti-Party group" and to secure their removal.
In March 1958 Bulganin was removed as Prime
Minister, and in November denounced as having been a member of the "anti-Party
group". His successor was Nikita Khrushchov himself, who retained
the post of First Secretary of the Party.
In November 1957 Khrushchov felt his position strong
enough to be able to say that industrial development had:
"reached such a level that, without detriment to the interests of consolidating
the defence of the country, without detriment to the development of heavy
industry and machine-building, we can develop light industry at a considerably
At the May 1958 meeting of the Central-Committees Khrushchov
put forward the view that the "decisive" branch of "heavy industry", was
the chemical industry and proposed that the expansion of the chemical
industry, with "aid" from the older capitalist countries, should be a prime
element in the Seven Year Plan -- painting n glowing picture of the consumer
goods applications of this expansion.
(N. S. Khrushchov: Speech at 40th Anniversary of October. Revolution,
in: "Pravda"' (Truth), November 7th., 1957).
At the 21st, Congress of the CPSU in January/February
1959 Khrushchov's basic theme was that the Soviet Union was now in process
of passing from "socialism" to "communism", a process which would be complete
". . we shall have provided a complete abundance of everything needed
to satisfy the requirements of all the people".
And he elaborated further the doctrine put forward at
the 20th. Congress --- that war was "no longer inevitable" and that the
danger of war was "receding". His report thus laid a theoretical
basis for, according greater scope to the development of the consumer goods
On January 17th. 1961 Khrushchov declared:
"Today our country has such a powerful industry such a powerful defence
force, that it can, without jeopardising the development of industry and
the strengthening of its defence, devote more funds to the development,
of agriculture and increase the production of consumer goods",
and deplored the fact that
". . an appetite has developed in some of our comrades for giving more
metal to the country". (N. S. Khrushchov: Speech of Jan. l7th. 1916, in:
Soviet Embassy (London) Press Dept. Release).
At the 22nd Congress of the CPSU
in October 1961 Khrushchev referred to the Seven Year Plan target of
66-91 million tons of steel a year, to say:
"Some people proposed increasing steel output to 100 million tonnes
a year. But we restrained them, saying that all branches of economy had
to be developed evenly".
And in his report to the congress on the following day
on the new Party Programme, Khrushchov said:
(N. S. Khrushchov: Report of the CC to the 22nd. Congress of the CPSU;
London; 1961; p. 40).
"The 20-year national economic development plan -- the general perspective
-- provides for the rates of growth in the output of means of production
and of consumer goods to come considerably closer together".
As a result of this lead, the congress adopted a resolution
(N. S. Khrushchov: Report on the Programme of the CPSU; London; 1961;
"The revenues accumulated as a result 'of the over-fulfilment of industrial
production plans should be channelled mainly towards agriculture, light
industry and the food industry".
On September 9th, 1962 "Pravda" the organ of the CC,
of the CPSU(B) published an article by the Kharkov economist, Professor
Yevsey Liberman, advocating a discussion on the question of reorientating
the Soviet economy on the basis of the profit motive.
On Khrushchov's initiative, a Plenum of the Central
Committee on November 19th-23rd., 1962 took an important step to weaken
the party's control over the economy. The party organs up
to, but not including, the level of Republic Central Committees were divided
into two separate branches: one concerned with industry, the other
At a press conference in October 1963 (reported in
'Pravda’ on October 27th), Khrushchov declared that the time was now ripe
for diverting immense funds from heavy industry to chemicals,
agriculture and the consumer goods industries.
At the end of February 1964 "Pravda" published an
article by A..Arzumanyan Director of the Institute of World Economics
and International-Relations, attacking the "dogmatists" who defended priority
for heavy industry and recommending equal growth rates for heavy and
consumer goods industries, with future priority to the latter.
In July 1964 an official press campaign began
to popularise 'Liberman’s theories. The Bulletin of the Soviet Embassy
in London summarised this up as follows:
"In recent years . . . the consumer goods industries have been greatly
enlarged. . .. It has become clear that, the planning of the production
of consumer goods must be brought closer to market demands. It, ' has also
become clear that economic incentives must be provided in order to induce
industry to produce what the consumers want and adapt itself to changes
in fashion, and also so as to ensure that the whole factory, from the director
to the worker, is interested in meeting the demands of the consumer".
The base of support which Khrushchov had built up among
the intelligentsia and petty bourgeoisie enabled him to survive against
growing opposition for more than ten years.
(Soviet Embassy, London, Bulletin, cited in: "Keesing's Contemporary
Archives'; Volume 15; p. 21036).
But on October 15th., 1964 Khrushchov was
forced to resign both as First Secretary of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party and as Prime Minister. One of the charges leveled
against him later was that of:
"neglecting the priorities of heavy industry by over emphasis on light
and consumer goods industries".
Khrushchov was succeeded as First Secretary by Leonid
Brezhnev, and as Prime Minister by Aleksei Kosygin.
("Keesing's Contemporary Archives", Volume 14; P. 20390).
The new leadership of the party and state went some
way to placating the demands of the state capitalists involved in the consumer
goods industries (e.g., by the adoption of Liberman's theories, providing
for increased in dependence of enterprises and the gearing of production
to the market through the profit motive), but demonstrated their basic
interest in serving the state capitalists involved in heavy industry by
greatly strengthening party and state control of the allocation of material
resources, investment funds etc.
The new line was summarised by General-Socretary
Leonid Brezhnev in his report to the 23rd. Congress of the CPSU
in March/April 1966:
"Strengthening the centralized planned direction of the national economy
is now combined with the further development of the initiative and independence
On November, 16th, 1964 the Central Committee
of the CPSU abolished the division of the party introduced in 1962,
with the aim of strengthening the party's control over the economy.
(L. Brezhnev: Report to the 23ra,. Congress of the CPSU, cited in:
"Keesing's Contemporary Archives"; Volume 15; p. 21466).
On the other hand, on January 13th., 1965 it was
announced that 400 consumer goods factories would go over
to the system of production based on market demand.
On April lst., 1965 textile, leather and some other
factories were transferred to the now system under which they would gear
their production to orders submitted by garment and footwear manufacturers.
On July lst, the latter, in turn, geared their production to the basis
of orders from retailers. These factories were permitted to retain a considerably
larger amount .of their gross profit than previously, this to be used partly
for self-investment and partly for remuneration of management and workers
over and above basic salaries and wages.
In August/September 1965 the new leadership began
punitive action against intellectuals representing objectively the
interests of the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries.
In these months 30 Ukrainian intellectuals were arrested on charges
of "anti-Soviet nationalist activity" and 15 were sentenced to long terms
In September 1965 the first punitive action was taken
against prominent Russian intellectuals with the secret arrests
of writers Andrei Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel (who had smuggled
out of the Soviet Union manuscripts of books critical of the Soviet regime
for publication abroad. On December 5th. students demonstrated in
Moscow, demanding that the arrested writers be tried publicly; police broke
up the demonstration and arrested its leaders, writers Aleksandr
Yossenin-Volpin and Vladimir Bukovsky (the latter being confined
in a mental hospital). In February 1966 Sinyavsky and Daniel were sentenced
to and 5 years respectively in a labour camp.
Meanwhile, on September 28th 1965, the Central Committee
of the CPSU resolved to abolish the Regional Economic Councils
established under Khrushchov in May 1957 and to re-establish the industrial
Ministries which had been abolished. The same resolution resolved to
extend the "economic reform" introduced experimentally earlier in the
year to the economy as a whole.
The Supreme Soviet gave legislative effect to this
resolution on October lst.-2nd; 1965. On December 10th. 1968,
Nikolai Baibakov (Chairman of the State Planning Committee) told
the Supreme Soviet that enterprises working under the new "profit motive"
system now produced 75% of total industrial production and 80 %
At the 23rd Congress of the CPSU
(March 26th. to April 8th. 1966), Ivan Kazanots (Minister of the
Iron and Steel Industry) complained that the Khrushchov regime had lowered
the planned rate of increase in iron and steel output as a result of
"the wrong and subjectivist counterposing of the chemical industry against
the iron and steel industry."
However, the main reports presented at the congress
revealed that the state capitalists involved in the consumer goods industries
had fought successfully for an increased allocation of material resources,
investment funds, etc. to their field.
In his report on the now Five Year Plan for 1966-70,
Prime Minister Aleksoi Kosygin said:
"Funds will be redistributed in favour of the production of consumer
goods, while continuing to give priority to the development of the output
of means of production. Their output will rise by 49-52% and that of consumer
goods by 43-46%, compared with 58% and 36% respectively during 1961-65".
Backed by continuing propaganda from the dissident intellectuals
the political representatives of the state capitalists, involved in the
consumer goods industries continued to press their case.
(A. Kosygin: "Report on the Five Year Plan," 23rd. Congress CPSU.,
cited in: "Keesing's Contemporary Archives", Volume 15; p.21468).
In the economic plan for 1968 it was still
maintained in words that:
"The emphasis will continue to be on the development of heavy industry",
but in this year the planned growth in the output
of consumer goods for the first time exceeded (at 8.6%) that of the planned
growth of the output of heavy industry (at 7.9%).
("Keesing's Contemporary Archives", Volume 16; p. 22508),
This picture was repeated in the economic plan
for 1969, which provided for a planned growth rate of consumer goods
of 7.5% against 7.2% for heavy industry, and in the economic
plan for 1969 where the figures were 6.8% and 6.10% respectively.
At the 24th Congress of the CPSU (March 30th.
to April 9th. 1971) General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev said
"The Central Committee considers that the accumulated productive potential
permits of a somewhat higher rate of growth for Department 2 (i.e., the
consumer goods industries -- Ed). . . This does not invalidate. our general
policy based on the, accelerated development -of the output of the
means of production".
And the Five Year Plan for 1971-75
adopted by the congress provided for the first time in any Five-Year
Plan for a higher growth of the output of the consumer goods industries
(at 44-48%) than that of heavy industry (at 41-45%).
(Brezhnev: Report to the 24th., Congress of the CPSU, cited in: "Keesing's
Contemporary Archives" Volume 18; p. 24656).
Meanwhile the campaign of intellectuals, for a "free
society" -- that is, for a society based upon free private enterprise --
continued and developed. From April 1968 "A Chronicle of Current Events"
was widely circulated every two months as a clandestine opposition
journal. At the same time the campaigns of intellectuals of the non-Russian
Republics for "national freedom" has continued and developed. In this connection
mention must be made of the large-scale demonstrations in the Baltic States
of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in the summer of 1972, and the
arrests of prominent intellectuals in the Ukraine in 1973..- The
latter had its sequel in the removal from the Political Bureau of the CPSU
in April 1973 of the Ukrainian Pyotr Shelost, accused of "encouraging
nationalist illusions" in his home Republic.
The authorities replied to these manifestations by
greatly increased repression, and succeeded in October 1972 in suppressing
"A Chronicle of Current Events".
As a result of this repression, the leadership of
the party and state - the political representatives of the state capitalists
involved in heavy industry – had by 1975 reversed the priority accorded
to the consumer goods industries at the 24th.,Congross in 1971. On December
2nd., 1975 Nikolai Baibakov reported to the Supreme Soviet that
it was planned to increase the output of heavy industry in 1976 by 4.9%
(against 8.35% achieved in 1975) and that of the consumer goods industries
by 2.7% (against 7.2% achieved in 1975).
The struggle continues.
In the interests of facilitating the preparation of
a socialist revolution, Marxist-Leninists would support the formation in
the Soviet Union of a broad movement for the restoration and extension
of democratic rights.
The "Human Rights Committee" headed by Andrei
Sakharov is not such a body. It is a reactionary organisation serving
the interests of a auction of Soviet state capitalists.
"What is the use of your spun shirts? They hang there by the million
unsaleable; and here, by the million, are diligent backs that can got no
hold of them. Shirts are useful for covering human backs; useless otherwise,
an unbearable mockery otherwise. You have fallen terribly behind with that
side.-of the problem".
(Thomas Carlyle: "Past and Present", 1843).
"If life is noble and beautiful, art will be noble and beautiful. The
great eras in the history of the arts are not eras of increased artistic
feeling, but, primarily, of increased technical feeling -- a feeling which
must originate with the workman. I would speak to the hard-working people,
whom I wish I could reach through the prejudice that shuts them and me
away from each other. It is to the mechanics and workers of your country
that I look for the triumph that must come".
(Oscar Wilde: Lecture in the United States., 1882).
"The capitalist flourishes, he amasses immense wealth; we sink lower
and lower; lower than the beats of burden -- for they are better fed than
we, for according to the present system they are more precious. And yet
they tell us that the interests of Capital and Labour are identical."'
(Benjamin Disraeli: "Sybil", 1.84-5).
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