The reform of

Brezhnev period was stagnant. Since 1971, the word “reform” was not allowed to be used, but only the word “perfection” was allowed to be used, which was quietly reinterpreted – Brezhnev period was an important turning point in the history of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.

● why was the Brezhnev period ignored in the study of Soviet history?

Brezhnev was an important political figure in the history of the Soviet Union. Since the drastic changes in the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the research on the relationship between the Brezhnev period and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union in China’s academic circles is far less important and in-depth than that in the Stalin, Khrushchev and Gorbachev periods. In fact, the Brezhnev period is an important turning point in the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, and we should pay attention to its in-depth study.

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for a long time, the appearance of Brezhnev period is stability. Some commentators believe that the reform in Brezhnev period is the most stable reform in the history of the Soviet Union. However, those who hold this view do not see that this stability means stagnation for a considerable period of Brezhnev’s administration. Brezhnev’s slogan of “stability” is actually static. Brezhnev gives people the appearance of stability, which is also related to the fact that there were no major historical events in the Soviet Union during his administration. This period is not like Stalin’s period, major events one after another.

after the drastic changes in the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the focus of academic research naturally focused on why the Soviet Union, the first socialist country in the world, died and focused on exploring the deep causes of the death. However, the Brezhnev period marked the prosperity of some people, which mainly refers to that the Soviet economy has maintained a rapid development rate since the second half of the 1960s, By the early 1970s, the Soviet Union’s strategic nuclear weapons had reached the same level as the United States, and the Soviet Union had become a superpower on an equal footing with the United States. Therefore, in the view of some people, Brezhnev’s reign was “the most powerful heyday of the Soviet Union’s comprehensive national strength”. Since it is considered to be “the most powerful heyday”, it is easy to ignore this period when studying the decline of the Soviet Union.

● what did Brezhnev do in his early days in power?

when Khrushchev stepped down, the social economy of the Soviet Union was in a state of chaos. Therefore, as soon as Brezhnev came to power, he had to adjust and modify some important policies of his predecessor. First of all, it was decided to restore the establishment of unified party organizations and leading organs according to the characteristics of regional production, and cancel the industrial party organizations and agricultural Party organizations established respectively on the basis of production principles in Khrushchev’s period; The supreme Secretary of the Soviet Union (Gore) and the general secretary of the Soviet Union (Gore) jointly led the meeting, followed by the president of the Soviet Union (Gore) and the general secretary of the Soviet Union (Gore); Third, change the party’s work style, emphasize democracy and legal system, and criticize voluntarism; Fourth, abolish the principle of regional management and restore the principle of departmental management; Fifth, continue the experiment of economic reform brewing in Khrushchev’s later stage.

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after some policy adjustments, the September plenary session of the CPC Central Committee held in 1965 adopted a resolution, successively issued a series of documents to reform the economic system, and decided to implement the new economic system in the Soviet Union. The three principles for the implementation of this system are: first, expand the autonomy of enterprises in order to improve the initiative and enthusiasm of enterprises; The second is to manage the economy by combining administrative methods with economic methods, gradually focusing on economic methods and strengthening the role of economic leverage; Third, implement the principle of combining the interests of the state, enterprises and individuals. It should be said that for countries that have implemented a highly centralized planned economic system for a long time, it is reasonable and necessary to implement the above three reform principles in the early stage of reform.

during the first Five-Year Plan of Brezhnev’s Administration (1966-1970), the Soviet economy was in good condition. During this period, Brezhnev took a positive attitude towards reform and tried to reverse the downward trend of economy through reform. It was also during this period that Brezhnev gained a firm foothold.

but from the mid-1970s, the trend of conservatism, rigidity and stopping reform became increasingly obvious, and then the reform was actually cancelled. The reasons are as follows:

. First, the reform was carried out under the background that the Soviet Union has built developed socialism. In November 1967, Brezhnev announced for the first time that the Soviet Union had built developed socialism. The basic meaning of the so-called developed socialism is: first, the Soviet Union is a new society, that is, socialism has reached a mature stage; Second, the transformation of all social relations is in the stage of being completed; Third, the conditions for the transition to communism have been met. In this context, the conclusion is that what the Soviet Union needs is the self-improvement of developed socialism, and there is no need for major reform, let alone fundamental reform.

second, the reform was carried out under the principle of not affecting the centralized and unified plan at the beginning. Brezhnev stressed at the 26th National Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union held in 1981: “the party has always regarded the plan as law. This is not just because the plan was approved by the Supreme Soviet. The reason why the plan is law is because only following the plan can ensure the coordinated work of the national economy.”

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. Thirdly, the reform has caused the dispute of power and the adjustment of interests, which makes many reform measures difficult to implement. The top leadership of the Soviet Union was afraid of fundamental reform and losing control of the national economy and finance. From the perspective of the relationship between management organs at all levels and enterprises, the struggle around power and interests has never stopped since the beginning of the reform.

the fourth is the hindering effect of administrative bureaucracy on reform. Under the highly centralized system, the administrative bureaucracy has always been in a privileged position, and the personnel of these institutions are always proud of their right to “disapprove”. By Brezhnev’s time, these bureaucrats were not only huge, but also deeply rooted and intertwined, which became an important resistance to reform.

“The theoretical obstacle of “left” dogmatism. In terms of economic theory, Brezhnev’s period was mainly composed of Two Dogmas: first, he denied commodity economy for a long time and criticized “market socialism” most vigorously; The second is the theory of ownership. This was not allowed to be touched during the Brezhnev period. Moreover, during this period, it has always been believed that state-owned enterprises are the economy owned by the whole people and the highest form of socialist economy, and this theory has been described as Marxist theory. The textbook of political economy published in 1954 and examined and approved by Stalin said that state-owned enterprises are the “most mature and thorough” form of socialist production relations. Obviously, any reform of this form of ownership will inevitably mean a retrogression. Of course, reform is not allowed.

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sixth, the political system has regressed, which restricts the economic reform. This is reflected in: in the late period of Brezhnev’s administration, the party and government were not divided, and the Party replaced the government was further developed; The centralization of individual power is strengthened, and the phenomenon of arbitrariness is serious; Personality worship prevailed. In Brezhnev’s period, the lifelong cadre system abolished in Khrushchev’s period was restored, and there was a serious phenomenon of cadre aging. By the first half of the 1970s, the Soviet Union was dominated by the idea of sticking to the old ways and seeking stability and restraining change. There were a large number of conservatives around Brezhnev, which made it only mend the traditional system and lack the firmness of reform. Since 1971, the word reform was not allowed, but only perfect.

● what are the consequences of stagnant reform?

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from the perspective of economy, the prominent performance is the obvious decline and stagnation of economic growth rate. By 1982, when Brezhnev died, the economic growth rate had dropped to 3.3%; The mode of extensive economic growth and inefficient economy failed to change; The economic structure has become more deformed, which has restrained the improvement of people’s living standards. Politically speaking, the people distrust the party and its leadership, bureaucracy and the dictatorship of administrative organs are rampant in an unprecedented way, social morality is degenerated, alcoholism, violent crimes and divorced families are on the rise, drug abuse is increasing, culture and art are obscene and vulgar, and corruption, theft and bribery are increasing day by day. In Social Sciences, innovative ideas and theories are excluded from this field. The task of theorists is to interpret and annotate the speeches and reports of the supreme leader and the party’s resolutions. Khrushchev opposed Stalin’s personal worship, while Brezhnev was engaged in Stalinization, which promoted the development of the “dissident movement”. The expansion and stabilization of the privileged class. According to relevant information, the privileged class has 500000-700000 people, and about 3 million people together with their families. In order to safeguard its vested interests, this privileged class tried to resist various substantive reforms, maintain the current system and quietly re stalinize.

● how to treat the historical orientation of Brezhnev period?

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summarize Brezhnev’s ruling period as a stagnant period, which is an overall evaluation of later generations. Rezhkov, former chairman of the Soviet Council of ministers, said in the report of the June plenary session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1987): the reform during the Brezhnev period was actually “an inert and stagnant force that prevailed at that time, and everything returned to the old track.” The overall evaluation of Brezhnev’s reign as a period of stagnation is more consistent in the political and academic circles of the Soviet Union and Russia. For example, political commentator Arbatov pointed out: “if we evaluate it by high political and economic standards, we can think that the whole period from Khrushchev’s resignation to Brezhnev’s death is a period of stagnation. In these years, there have been no unforgettable historical milestones along the road of overall improvement of our society.” Of course, during Brezhnev’s 18 years in power, there were complex situations and differences in various stages. However, from the perspective of the overall development trend, during this period, the Soviet Union, as a socialist system, did not take great steps towards progress and improvement. On the whole, it was still the set of models formed during Stalin’s period.

it should be pointed out that in recent years, China’s academic circles have made great progress in the study of the Brezhnev period. For example, some commentators clearly pointed out that “the Brezhnev period is a key turning period for the decline of the Soviet Union.” “It prepared the conditions for the disintegration of the Soviet Union in the future.” In other words, the Brezhnev period is characterized by stagnation, gathering crisis factors and approaching decline. This captures the essence of this period and thus finds its exact position in the history of the Soviet Union.

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since the early 1990s, some insightful papers and monographs have appeared in the domestic academic circles on the study of Brezhnev’s reign. For example, Lu Nanquan’s Brezhnev period when the Soviet Union was going to decline (Research on Eastern Europe and Central Asia, issue 6, 2001) and Guo Chunsheng’s 18 years of Brezhnev (published by the people’s Publishing House in 2009) pointed out that the stagnation during Brezhnev’s administration had a negative effect on the later development of the Soviet Union.

Brezhnev said: “I am the czar”

in the history of the Soviet Union, Brezhnev was the fourth party and government head after, Stalin and Khrushchev. The period of Bolshevik rule was a period of stagnation and extinction. During this period, the disadvantages of the Soviet model deepened, and the system of excessive centralization of power in politics, economy and culture left by Stalin became more serious, which made the Soviet Union in economic difficulties, rigid and conservative in politics, serious phenomena of personal worship and bureaucracy, and social crises, This paved the way for the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the demise of the Soviet Communist Party. If the role and status of Brezhnev in the 74 year history of the Soviet Union are qualitative, it can be summarized in simple words that he is the third-generation new czar of the Soviet Union. After becoming the first Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Bo inherited and developed the “three systems” of individual centralization of power, tenure of leadership and designated successors created by Stalin, which suppressed internally and expanded externally. After he came to power, he proudly said to the people around him: “I am the czar”.

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