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Khrushchevs Economic Reforms Essay

1041 words - 5 pages

Khrushchev’s economic reforms failed because they were poorly thought through”. Assess the validity of this view (45 marks)
“Khrushchev had grasped the nettle. He also exhibited a characteristic recklessness. The road ahead would be rockier than he expected, for he over estimated ordinary people’s gullibility. In a sense the whole of later Soviet history may be seen as a reaction to his revelations.” J. Keep. After emerging victorious in the power struggle following Stalin’s death, Khrushchev was in a very strong position, but not yet an unchallengeable leader. Khrushchev wanted to move away from the Stalinist era and was aware that there was a desire for change in the USSR. He had ...view middle of the document...

Military expenditure was draining the economy, much weaker than that of their main rival, USA (Khrushchev had publicly stated he wanted to catch up with West). Russia lagged behind more sophisticated capitalist economies which were less labour intensive and more productive. However foreign trade considerably increased (2/3 with European Communist states). Working conditions improved as there was shorter days, more holidays, longer maternity leave, better pensions, minimum wage decreed 1956 meaning better living standards. 1956 education decree meant an increase in student numbers and there was an improved medical care infant mortality significantly decreased. Women were however banned from manual labour in mines.
Scientific and technical education was prioritised, first satellite and man in space soviet space. Technology appeared superior to that of the west. This resulted in other areas of the Soviet Union failing therefore it was the fact that Khrushchev prioritised most things rather than reforming the economy and that is ultimately why it failed. However Kenez suggests that industrial problems "were the consequence of the very nature of the highly Marxist ideology" although Khrushchev "sometimes made it worse by creating confusion". He did this by employing the policy of decentralisation. Decentralization was a major reform across the whole of the economy. He believed that this would reduce bureaucracy and that the economy would be better with the replacement of regular government with self-administration of the population. In trying to do this Khrushchev asked that “every Soviet person must become an active participant in the administration”. This led to many unpaid volunteers in parks, library and cinemas. However his reforms failed as there was an increase in bureaucracy between 1958 and 1964 as central government organizations increased by 60,000. This really led to the opposite of what Khrushchev tried to achieve.
Living conditions were still backwards compared with West, by 1964, only 5/1000 citizens owned a car in 1963, USSR had to import grain from capitalist West to...

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