How far are the political decisions of the Soviet leaders influenced by their belief in an official ideology—and how far are they empirical responses to objective conflcts of interest, to real situations of power, which are only expressed in ideological terms for purposes or justification?
Any clear formulation of the question will show that the two extreme answers which seem prima facie conceivable—that the ideology provides a ready-made “book of rules” to be looked up in any situation, or that response to reality takes place without any reference to ideology—are both meaningless nonsense. A ready-made book of rules for any and every situation, an unvarying road-map to the goal of Communism which the Soviet leaders must predictably follow cannot possibly exist, both because the situations to be met by them are not sufficiently predictable, and because no government that behaved in so calculable a manner could conceivably retain power. But empirical “Realpolitik” without ideological preconceptions can exist as little as “empirical science” without categories and hypotheses based on theoretical speculation. Confronted with the same constellation of interests and pressures, the li...
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