chapter  13
21 Pages

Some Observations in Criteria for the Study of the Soviet Union

Similarly, discussions on the 'inevitability' of the Russian revolution, the causes and consequences of collectivisation of agriculture, the feasibility of Trotsky's economic programme in 1925, Khrushchev's reorganisations of planning, all imply judgement, about the possible and therefore also about alternatives. Nor are moral judgements entirely avoidable. Few human beings exist who can discuss the cold statistics of Stalin's victims without at least suggesting that killing so many (communists, peasants, officers) was not merely unnecessary but also in some sense wrong. While I will not, in this paper, be much concerned with moral judgement, it is worth mentioning that it too is intimately connected with a not strictly deterministic view of history, i.e. one allowing of choices, alternatives and therefore the counter-factual approach. One cannot meaningfully praise or condemn that which necessarily, inevitably, had to be.