Taking you through AQA A2 History of the Soviet Union in as little time and as little pain as possible... see you on results day!


16 June 2010, AM

6 June 2010

Themes: Economy

The Soviet Economy is a topic highly likely to come up, and so an understanding of it and themes within it is very important.

I'm going to look at a few key dates in detail to help spot trends.

1941 - how prepared were the USSR for war?

The top line shows 1941 levels of industrial production and the bottom line shows 1942.

- Gosplan, FYPs and collectivisation prepared the USSR for war
- strong armaments industry
- industry in less vulnerable areas
- central planning system well geared towards war
- HOWEVER 1942 statistics show how badly the invasion hit the USSR & how it caused serious damage to industrial infrastructure
- agriculture was similarly hit because of the "scorched Earth" and German advances through Ukraine

1950 - how well had the USSR recovered from war?

Purple bars show 1950 statistics; green show 1950 plan targets; red show 1945 stats; and blue show 1940.

- for the most part, the Soviet economy recovered bizarrely well from the war
- 1940 quotas were always exceeded by 1950 & most of the 1950 plan targets were, too
- quantitative statistics, not qualitative
- propaganda projects
- agricultural production up on 1945, but down on 1940
- scorched Earth damage
- NOVE: "agriculture, in Stalin's final years, was characterised by excessive centralisation of decision, insufficient investment, extremely low prices and ill-judged intentions"

1965 - how successful were Khrushchev's reforms?

Blue shows 1958; red shows 1965 targets; green shows 1965 actual results

- supposed failures not as bad as is often claimed
- agriculture characterised by campaignist schemes
- confusion of bureaucracy and changes to it
- ind/ag wings left added complications

1985 - how far was the economy declining?

The weird cream colour is 1981-85; maroon is 1976-80; and purple is 1971-75

- lack of investment/innovation
- conservatism
- black market
- lack of regard for environmental concerns
- tried to replace Gosplan, but was not successful
- little put into economy = little comes out (ind)
- agriculture received significant investment, which came to nothing

1991 - economy in crisis?

Blue is national income (what people were paid); red is industrial out-put; green is agricultural out-put

- even official Soviet statistics showed significant decline in growth, and even genuine economic decline
- indecision
- Gorbachev was not an economisy
- the party lost economic control

Shocking final statistics to leave you with a true sense of the desperation of the Soviet Economy...

Growth rates 1960-1985

Blue is Soviet statistics; red is American estimates; green is a leading Soviet economist, Kahin.

All show the economy to be declining at unprecedented rates.

Why did the economy decline so drastically, though?

- indecision
- inability to modify the Stalinist system
- vested interests in the bureaucracy
- the extent of the bureaucracy
- falling birth rates and lack of people to work
- lack of environmental concern
- absenteeism and alcoholism
- determination that the system that existed was the right one
- the role of the black market and the mafia
- lack of trading partners, once the Eastern Bloc began to turn away from the USSR
- loss of party control over the economy under Gorbachev

And... that's the economy done.

Questions, as ever, are welcome. I still can't believe I understood and created all those graphs! Statistics used sourced from Laver textbook on the era.

- HistGrrl x

PS - email me if you want full-size copies of the graphs, and I will transfer them over GoogleDocs.

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