chapter  14
18 Pages

The command economy and reform

While human emancipation might have been the goal of Marxism, Leninism in power soon became an ideology of development. Industrialisation became the raison d’être of the Soviet state. This was not simply a matter of ‘modernisation’, since the process was as contradictory as the term itself: while the Soviet Union built the basic infrastructure of a modern mediumdeveloped society, many of the social attributes typically associated with a ‘modernised’ society were missing – above all the openness to innovation in the technological and political spheres. The Soviet economy was able to achieve most of the goals it set itself and joined the front ranks of industrial powers through its ability to mobilise resources. Prestige projects like the great steel city of Magnitogorsk, the Kama River truck plant (KAMaz) or the Baikal-Amur Mainline railroad (BAM) stand as testimonies to the Soviet pattern of development. This campaign approach to economic development led Oskar Lange to liken the Soviet economy to a war economy, where all resources are concentrated on certain narrow ends, but of human emancipation little remained.