Seven Years That Shook Soviet Economic & Social Thinking
Reflection on the Revolution in Communist Economics 1985-1991
Stockholm Studies in Economic History, No. 55

By Bengt Svensson
August 2009
Stockholm University Press
Distributed by Coronet Books Inc.
ISBN: 9789186071080
174 pages
$69.50 Hardcover

The main theme of this thesis is to analyse the Soviet economic theoretical
debate in the period 1985-1991. Michail Gorbachev, the new secretary general of the Communist Party, increased the possibilities of a more open discussion, also in the academic debate on economic theory.

From 1990 the discussion became free when a transition to market economy was decided. In the years 1985-1989 the economists defended the socialist theoretical system and attacked the central aspects of the market economy.

If certain ideas and principles of market economics were deemed as functioning methods, it was argued that these could be integrated within the socialist system. The conclusion is that the Soviet economists failed to solve some central theoretical problems in the Soviet economy. Their thinking did not have a stabilizing effect on the dominating socialist theory.

In 1990 and 1991 market economic principles started to dominate the debate. The issue became gradual transition to a market economy or "shock therapy". Scholars have emphasized that stationary structures are important in Russian and Soviet history. It can he argued that such structures played a role also in the Soviet economists' thinking. For example, the idea to create a socialist market could be interpreted as a result of stationary structures, namely the personalization of economic exchange.

Bengt Svensson is Licentiate of Philosophy in economic history and currently postgraduate student at the Department of Economic History, Stockholm University. Seven Years that shook Soviet Economic and Social Thinking. Reflections on the Revolution in Communist Economics 1985-1991 is his doctoral thesis.


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