Perestroika and the Primacy of Politics

Perestroika and the Primacy of Politics

Gavril Popov is a distinguished Soviet economist, editor of the prestigious monthly Voprosy ekonomiki, and a leading proponent of radical political and economic reforms in the USSR. Elected deputy to the Congress of People’s Deputies in March of 1989. Popov has urged that the liberal deputies (estimated to comprise at least 450 and possibly even 800 of the 2,250 members) constitute themselves into a distinct political group, something on the order of a “loyal opposition.” This essay will appear in the forthcoming Perestroika: Chronicle of a Revolution, edited by Abraham Brumberg (Pantheon Books)—A.B.

Alec Nove (Dissent, Fall 1989) is right to emphasize the crucial and long-term connection between the economic and political institutions in the USSR. The contrived and—as the historical record demonstrates–feckless nature of that relationship arose because rather than making the economy the bedrock of a new political system, we did precisely the opposite. And an economy subordinated to the exigencies of politics is incapable of meeting the needs of a society.

The first efforts at economic reform, introduced in 1985-86, have led me—and others—to three conclusions: First, that what our country needs is not reform but fundamental economic restructuring— that is to say, a new economic system. Second, that the new economic system requires a political system