Book Report: Paul Gregory's “the Political Economy Of Stalinism”

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Book Report: Paul Gregory's “The Political Economy of Stalinism”


The bloody defeats of communist revolutions in Germany and Hungary and the advent of Joseph Stalin as undisputed leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the largest and strongest communist organization in the world, led to departure from the concept of a world revolution and the adoption of a new paradigm known as “socialism in one country.” Leon Trotsky, another popular leader of the Russian Revolution, challenged Stalin's model by advocating a concept of “permanent revolution,” (Gregory, pp. 34-78) and after being expelled from the Soviet Union in 1929, he founded a Fourth International in 1938 to rival Comintern. The Trotskyist International, however, split into many fractions and was unable to establish itself as a viable alternative to Comintern. This paper presents book report of Paul Gregory's book The Political Economy of Stalinism in a concise and comprehensive way.

Paul Gregory's The Political Economy of Stalinism: A Book Report

Paul Gregory has long been one of the best known scholars in comparative economic systems theory, as well as the economic history of the Soviet Union. The collapse of the USSR ended the communist empire that was designed and implemented by Stalin. However, contrary to Professor Gregory's opinion, the post communist transition has by no means spelt the end of studies of the history and the political economy of the administrative-command system. What has, hopefully, ended is the regime of disinformation and secrecy, which prevented Western scholars from conducting research based on real primary statistical and archival data; the regime, that induced the creation a special brand of researchers--'sovietologists', who spent a good deal of time reconstructing unavailable data based on limited sources available in the public domain.

While the reasons for the failure of the Soviet economic experiment have been broadly discussed in the published literature, Paul Gregory moves far beyond the conventional text-book generalities about which he wrote in his previous publications. In 'The Political Economy of Stalinism' he attempts to explain how the system really worked, including: the practicalities of governance; accumulation of power and resources for investments; the creation of industrial potential; long-term versus operational planning (Gregory, pp. 34-78); the principal-agent conflict; the conflict between long and short-term planning decisions with their day-to-day managerial implementation; the monetary, financial, and budgetary mechanisms; and, finally, the reasons for and the processes of the decline and ultimate destruction of the system.

The author concentrates on the initial two and a half decades of the world's first administrative-command economy. During the years between 1930s and early 1950s the country was ruled the by the brutal ideologist and designer of the system. For the first and only time the administrative-command economy existed in its most pure and overwhelming form, and, for the time being, its attempt to concentrate almost 100 percent of the economy in the hands of the central authorities, and accumulate almost all investment resources for enforced industrialisation and militarisation, was successful. That is why it was the purest real-life experiment, which subsequently attracted ...
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