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26th Congress of the CPSU in current political perspective

CollectionsANU Press Titles (1965-1991)
Title: 26th Congress of the CPSU in current political perspective
Other Titles: Twenty-sixth congress of the CPSU in current political perspective
Author(s): Miller, Robert F
Rigby, T. H
Date published: 1982
Publisher: Canberra : [Dept. of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University] : Distributed for the Dept. by the Australian National University Press
Series/Report no.: Occasional Paper : no. 16
Description: 
At the end of 1980, when we decided to organize a series of seminars in the Department of Political Science, RSSS on the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union which was scheduled for late February 1981, it seemed to us, as to many others, that the problems facing the aging Soviet leadership at the end of the seventies were so insistent that major decisions could be expected to be announced at the Congress. Since Party Congresses are now scheduled to coincide with the beginning of a new Five-Year Plan, it seemed likely, in particular, that important economic departures would be proclaimed. Most outside observers were in agreement that the marked slowdown in Soviet economic growth called for vigorous remedial measures and even major structural reforms if the express commitments of the party leadership for 'butter' as well as 'guns' had any chance of fulfilment. Some renovation of the party's leadership also seemed called for if the regime was to prepare for the impending 'succession crisis'. Our idea was, therefore, to publish the papers presented at the seminars as quickly as possible to serve as a focus for wider discussion, since many of the issues presumably to be raised by the Congress would be of relevance to Western policy and interests. The Occasional Paper format suggested itself as the quickest way to achieve this aim, and we had originally intended to bring out the paper in May or June. However, the Congress turned out to be not quite what most of us had expected. At first glance it was remarkable only for how little it seemed to accomplish. There were no significant changes in the cast of main political actors, despite their advanced age and obvious signs of fatigue. The foreign policy pronouncements were cautious and rather tentative. And the recipes for economic change were notably bland and timid. Thus, there seemed to be little reason for rushing into print. Further reflection on the Congress proceedings and the background of the decisions taken confirmed the wisdom of delaying publication. In the process of preparing and presenting the seminar papers we concluded that the patterns of decision-making reflected in the speeches at the Congress and the 11th Five-Year Plan documents fully corresponded to the dilemmas and political preferences of the Brezhnev regime's style of leadership. The Congress, therefore, had to be looked upon as a point on a continuum of problems and decisions. The approach adopted in the papers included below was to place the Congress discussions in the appropriate location on this continuum - Rigby's on internal Party developments and Miller's on the foreign policy and economic tendencies of the Brezhnev era in its waning years. We wish to take this opportunity to express our appreciation for the contribution of our research assistants, Olga Prokopovich and Russell McCaskie, for the always able and efficient secretarial backup by Mrs Kath Bourke, the Departmental Secretary, and the for the valuable discussions and suggestions by our colleagues in the Department, especially Dr Stephen Fortescue, and by others who attended the seminars. Naturally, the responsibility for the papers themselves in their final form is entirely our own. Canberra, February 1982
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1885/115182

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