the postwar period, the leading industrialized countries of the west
entered the era of scientific and technical revolution. this set the
scene for rapid transition to a new, postindustrial stage of
development. as the technological revolution advanced, it was
becoming more and more obvious that certain inherent characteristics
of the soviet economic model stood in the way of technological
progress. with the exception of the military-industrial complex, the
latest scientific and technological achievements were slow to enter
into production on a nationwide scale.
overcentralization, the absence of competition, and a lack of
self-interest, motivation, and material incentives at all levels of
the economy were the main impediments to technological progress.
moreover, soviet planners needed to find ways of making the soviet
economic system more attentive to consumers. endemic shortages of
consumer goods, overcrowded housing conditions, primitive consumer
services梐ll cried out for remedy. to continue to ignore consumers?
needs was becoming more and more dangerous politically.
the new conditions, the political and economic mechanisms created
under stalin began to reveal clearly their serious limitations. the
habitual interference of party structures in matters of production
became less and less effective; bureaucratic overcentralization
could no longer cope with managing efficiently the increasingly
sophisticated branch structure of the soviet economy.
the soviet economy showed the first symptoms of a slowdown, the
system began to lose the very rationale it was based on. economic
growth, as the necessary condition for the creation of the material
base of the future communist society, was critical for justifying
the system. as long as the economy delivered high growth rates, it
commanded loyalty. but the declining economic performance began to
corrode people抯 belief in the ability of the system to create the
basis for a society of material plenty and therefore undermined the
this put pressures on nikita khrushchev抯 and consecutive soviet
governments to shift away from the stalinist economic model. after
stalin抯 death and until the ussr抯 collapse, the soviet leadership
for over thirty years was engaged in an almost continuous process of
reforming the stalinist system of socialist central planning. the
objective of the reform programs of all soviet leaders from
khrushchev (1953?4) to mikhail gorbachev (1985?1) was to make the
economy more efficient and receptive to technological innovation and
more responsive to consumer wants, while retaining its socialist