The disintegration of the Soviet Union stemmed largely from the long decline of its economy. This decline undermined the role of the Communist party, which had been the central force in the country’s political and economic structures. The legitimacy of the party derived from its promise of social progress. But the command economy that Stalin had built in the name of the party stymied the very progress, the very “forces of production” that were to be promoted. How did this come about?
The decline of the Soviet economy cannot be reliably documented; statistical data are in dispute. Until recently, the official statistics indicated falling rates of economic growth rather than actual contraction. Industrial productio...
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