Social Scientist. v 16, no. 185 (Oct 1988) p. 46.


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UTSA PATNAIK*

Peasants and Industrialisation in the Soviet Union

INTRODUCTION

The Russian revolution has raised issues far deeper, has stirred conflicts more violent, and has unleashed forces far larger than those that had been involved in the greatest social upheavals of the past. And yet the revolution has by no means come to a dose. It is still on the move. It may still surprise us by its sharp and sudden turns. It is still capable of redrawing its own perspective. The ground we are entering is one which historians either fear to tread, or tread with fear.

These prophetic words were spoken by Isaac Deutscher over twenty years ago, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution of 1917. The last two years have indeed seen a 'sharp and sudden turn* in the course of development of the first socialist country in the world, in policies relating to every sphere, from foreign policy to economic growth strategy to cultural matters. These 'sharp and sudden turns* have caught unawares not only the Third World observers hitherto habituated to thinking of the Soviet Union in politically static terms; it has caught unawares the mass of Soviet citizens, called upon unexpectedly to exercise the faculties of critical engagement and debate.

Perestroika or 'restructuring* is only a part, no doubt a basic and crucial part, of the new vision of socialism which is sought to be developed in Russia today; and it is integrally linked to a 'redrawing of perspective' with regard to the position of the Soviet Union in the international economy. Some aspects of these 'sharp and sudden turns' in policies have evoked dismay and anger among many Marxists in the Third World in the same proportion as they have been greeted enthusiastically by Marxists in the advanced capitalist countries.

Our objective must be to try to comprehend, on the basis of critical analysis, the rationale behind the reforms, proposed and actual, summed up by perestroika in the thinking and perception of the Soviet -

* Centre for Economic Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



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