Read Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System by David M. Kotz Online

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Controversially this book argues that the ruling party-state elite in the USSR itself moved to dismantle the old system. Topics discussed include: * the beginnings of economic decline in 1975 * Gorbachev's efforts to democratize and decentralize * the complex political battle through which the coalition favouring capitalism took power * the flaws in economic policies inteControversially this book argues that the ruling party-state elite in the USSR itself moved to dismantle the old system. Topics discussed include: * the beginnings of economic decline in 1975 * Gorbachev's efforts to democratize and decentralize * the complex political battle through which the coalition favouring capitalism took power * the flaws in economic policies intended to rapidly build capitalism * the surprising resurgence of Communism. Research includes interviews with over 50 former Soviet government and Communist party leaders, policy advisors, new private businessmen, trade union leaders and intellectuals....

Title : Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System
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ISBN : 9780415143172
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Revolution from Above: The Demise of the Soviet System Reviews

  • Francesca
    2018-11-01 15:16

    An alternative perspective on the fall of the USSR (probably my 5th or 6th book which can be described as that, but it's a topic important to me). Kotz's thesis is basically that the Western liberal myth that the collapse was brought about by popular dissent and desire for capitalism is completely false - instead, what happened was a "revolution from above" in which the elite, realizing that the Soviet socialist system actually greatly constrained their abilities to gain power, wealth and influence, sought to move towards capitalism. Their perfect opportunity came when Gorbachev began to implement glasnost and perestroika, in the hope, Kotz argues, of building a more democratic and responsive socialism.This book is packed with graphs and data, as well as some interesting arguments I hadn't otherwise considered (for example, the role of transport bottlenecks in Soviet economic inefficiency). It also covers up to 1995, and thus includes an analysis of Yeltsin's shock therapy and economic reforms, as well as the political consequences of such (his decreasing popularity and the resurgence of Great Russian nationalism and Marxism-Leninism, including the CPRF becoming the largest party in the Duma in 1995), which is something many other analyses don't go into much detail about, so I felt that was a good extension. The book goes some way to dispel the idea that Yeltsin's early popularity stemmed from popular approval for capitalism - instead, it was Yeltsin's populism, Russian nationalism and anti-corruption rhetoric which appealed to many Russians (ironically in the face of what happened later).My main problem with this book would probably be, ultimately, Kotz's anti-Leninism and by extension his anti-Sovietism. Whereas many of the targets Kotz takes on are clearly worthy of criticism - for example, Brezhnev and co., and the endemic corruption and stagnation that categorized that period - he also criticizes the Soviet project itself. Ambivalent to Lenin and outright hostile to Stalin, he ends up taking the Conquestite attitude that Stalin was an all-powerful dictator. The person who comes out looking best in the book is actually Gorbachev, who ends up coming across as a naive but well-intentioned reformer who was intent on saving Soviet socialism through democracy and openness, but was defeated by capitalist restorationists under Yeltsin. Gorbachev and his allies actions and opportunism, in my view, are impossible to explain if one believes Gorbachev was committed to the preservation of socialism - I would argue that Gorbachev also wanted capitalism, albeit a reformed one most likely, as opposed to the extreme neoliberal policies that the former USSR ended up suffering. Nevertheless, a worthy effort and one that deserves to be read by anyone interested in the collapse of the USSR and the problems of actually existing socialism.

  • Ed
    2018-10-20 14:55

    A quite interesting book that successfully discredits the idea that the Soviet Union collapsed because the population wanted to go extreme capitalist. In fact, the Communist Party elite simply decided that they were sick of having a lower living standard than they saw the elite in the West having and decided they would be better off under a capitalist system. They were right and rode through the massive economic changes and became very wealthy by ripping off former state assets, speculating in commodities, foreign exchange and property. Almost every current rich Russian is a former Soviet apparatchnik.And the Gorbachev moves to introduce democracy facilitated the process, as did the extreme free market ideology that Soviet economists had imbued, encouraged by the IMF etc. Throughout the process, the mass of the population wanted to become capitalist along the lines of Sweden, but the Communist party elite didn't fancy that degree of egalitarianism, so they went for the undiluted sort and in doing so more or less destroyed the productive capacity of the country. The former Soviet Union broke up and the industrial production/GNP fell by far more than the US did in the Great Depression. Life expectancy of males fell by ten years to African levels where it remains nearly 20 years on.The book was written in the mid 1990s and speculates reasonably accurately that Russia would become more authoritarian, more anti-Western and more dependent on mineral exports now that Russian manufacturing has been decimated. I liked the analytical nature of the book and its investigation of causes and alternative theories of causes of what happened, while providing an excellent narrative of many things I didn't know about.