Soviet Syndrome

Soviet Syndrome

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  • Hardback
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Product details

  • Hardback | 103 pages
  • 144.78 x 215.9 x 15.24mm | 317.51g
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P
  • New York, United Kingdom
  • 0151846030
  • 9780151846030

Review Text

In this short theoretical piece French historian Alain Besancon formulates yet another catchall "model" analysis of Soviet policy. In Besancon's scheme, oscillation between the "War Communism" discipline of the Russian Civil War and the "New Economic Policy" (NEP) relaxation of the brief economic recovery that followed, has become an enduring "syndrome" in Soviet domestic and foreign policy. The result is a state that "is neither a tyranny nor a true despotism," but a "logocracy" based upon "pseudoreality" that retains only the "verbal substance" of its original Marxist ideology. What are the consequences of the "syndrome" for the West? According to Besancon, the Soviets are now moving away from detente ("NEP") towards a harsher ("War Communism") foreign policy. Meanwhile, says he, the West is enervated by profitless attempts to ascribe familiar motivations to the Soviets. Besancon laconically advises that the Soviets can be countered only through "unremitting asceticism and effort." Throughout his arguments Besancon fails to flesh out his theories by explaining how and by whom decisions are made. He exhibits a propensity towards extreme statements: collective farms are "slave plantations" and, he avers, "not one single medicine, not one single useful consumer product, has been invented in the USSR during the past sixty years." Sometimes Besancon's "syndrome" model is thought-provoking, more often it is merely a cyclical interpretation of history in a new guise. (Kirkus Reviews)
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