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Do you think Brezhnev stagnated the Soviet Union?

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Yes he did
No he didn't
Total votes : 19
Post 28 May 2012, 09:36
Post 28 May 2012, 19:25
It's a bit of a complicated matter, but I say no. The concept of stagnation was actually first voiced by Soviet dissidents Sakharov and Medvedev in 1970 in their open letter to the government, and taken up by other critics of Soviet power later. During perestroika the concept became a central theme exploited by 'reformers' to crush conservative opposition and to implement anti-socialist reforms.

Is there something to the critique from a socialist perspective about the Brezhnev era? Absolutely. Stability of cadres was a mistake which had a damaging effect on the USSR's reputation. The several dozen high profile deaths from the late 1970s to the early 1980s was highly publicized evidence that the leadership of the war generation had hung on to their posts too long. High profile corruption charges brought against thousands of officials from across the country in the early 1980s also showed that many opportunists and careerists had wormed themselves into the party, and there is some evidence that in some instances action was not taken against them for the purpose of maintaining stability. Partially attributable to Brezhnev also is the suppression of the nascent computer revolution going on from the 1950s, with the Gen Sec unwilling or unable to give academics like Ivanov and Glushkov the resources or responsibilities they required to computerize the Soviet economy or to introduce on a mass level Soviet-designed industrial and home computers. This occurred because the bureaucracy and the party were afraid of losing power and responsibility.

Having made those critiques, my answer must be 'no' because for all the faults and problems named above, the Brezhnev era could also be said to be the height of the development of Soviet, if not Russian, civilization. The Brezhnev years are considered by many Russians to have been the 'golden years', mainly for the peace that reigned through most of the period, for the improving living standards, for the greater social freedom and the great works of art created. Though the thaw of the early 1960s was cut short, the country never reverted to Stalinism in the social and artistic spheres. Internationally, the USSR under Brezhnev achieved strategic parity with the US, and consistently supported liberation struggles throughout the world (and in a more rational and calculated way than Khrushchev, given that Brezhnev largely delegated foreign policy questions to experts like Gromyko). Detente reduced the threat of nuclear war, and Brezhnev's personality, charisma and smooth style of diplomacy doubtlessly played a tremendously important role in achieving this. Many of the things that Russia depends upon for its very survival today were projects of Brezhnev's time, including the nuclear arsenal and the oil and gas pipelines from Siberia. In the scientific sphere, the lack of computerized economic planning did not mean that science as a whole was stifled. On the contrary, the country built nuclear icebreakers, space stations, highly reliable trucks, trains, helicopters and airplanes, machinebuilding tools exported around the world, etc. Millions of families received modern apartments, and living standards as calculated by statistics like the number of televisions, household appliances, etc. consistently grew.

As I have said elsewhere, I think that if Brezhnev retired in 1977 after the 60th anniversary of the Revolution and the signing of the constitution, he would be universally accepted as one of the greatest leaders in the history of Russian civilization.
Post 25 Aug 2017, 19:14
Is there a site you host your writings on?
Post 07 Mar 2018, 12:24
The people around him stagnated the Soviet Union when Brezhnev was getting ill after mid-70s. He spent less hours working and decision making was left to other members of Poltiburo who started to work for their own personal interests.
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