Reforming The Cold War State: Economic Thought, Internationalization, And The Politics Of Soviet Reform, 1955-1985.

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Cold War
Economic Reform
Economic Thought
History of Development
Political Economy
Soviet Union
Economic History
European History
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This dissertation explains how, as the USSR’s narrative of the Cold War shifted from the military-industrial competition envisioned by Stalin to Khrushchev’s “peaceful socioeconomic competition of the two systems,” economics began to tackle the challenge of transforming the Soviet economy from one focused on mobilization and production to one that could deliver well-being and abundance. Soviet economics changed from a field that only justified the state’s actions to a “science” whose practitioners could use their “expertise” to propose and critique domestic government policy. This opening allowed Soviet theorists to engage with the emerging issues of global economic interdependence and post-industrialism, which also challenged the post-war economic consensus in the West in the 1970s and the 1980s. Economists and scientists from East, West, and South created a transnational community gathered around institutions such as the United Nations, the Club of Rome, and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) to adapt the institutions of the postwar state to the conditions of nascent globalization. By documenting these engagements, I challenge the prevailing historiographical narrative that so-called Soviet “liberals” “learned from the West” and instead show that reform-minded economists became equal partners in trans-European intellectual communities that hoped to reconcile the institutions of national economic planning to the conditions of globalization. I argue that to understand the politics of the post-Stalin USSR, one must understand the “Cold War Paradigm” in Soviet economic thought and policy making and how it allowed for the consolidation of a conservative hegemony under Brezhnev. Further, I suggest that despite fraying between 1985 and 1993, the conservative direction in economic thought continues to structure contemporary Russian and Post-Soviet politics. This work is based on primary research in the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Archive of the Russian Academy of Science, the Russian State Archive of the Economy, the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History, the Central Archive of the City of Moscow, the Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library, the Rockefeller Archive Center and the MIT Institute Archives and the Harvard University Archives.

Benjamin Nathans
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