Communist Reformers Look West

March 4, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus


The traditional Stalinist approach of a “command economy” seems to have run its course. All over the world communist governments are attempting to “reform” or “modernize” their economies—in effect, to become part of the global marketplace they have always shunned. But reform is politically risky; ordinary citizens face serious economic hardships in the short run.

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It has been almost three decades since Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, in his famous “kitchen debate” with then-Vice President Richard M. Nixon, made his grand prediction for the Soviet economy. “We have existed not quite 42 years,” he said, “and in another seven years we will be on the same level as America. When we catch you up, in passing you by, we will wave to you.”

Not only did the Soviet Union fall short of Khrushchev's expectations, it is now turning to the West for help in bettering its citizens' living standards. Since rising to power in March 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the current Soviet leader, has launched his country's most daring economic reform program. The new economic policy—known as perestroika, or “restructuring”—calls for the deliberate weakening of central planning, the backbone of the Soviet economic system constructed by Joseph Stalin in the late 1920s. In place of government planners, factory managers will assume greater responsibility for the success or failure of their enterprises.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Communism and Socialism
Aug. 02, 2011  Communism Today
Mar. 04, 1988  Communist Reformers Look West
Dec. 28, 1984  Communist Economies
Sep. 21, 1984  Southern European Socialism
Feb. 09, 1979  Communist Indochina and the Big Powers
Apr. 23, 1976  Western European Communism
May 28, 1969  World Communist Summit
Nov. 20, 1968  Intellectuals in Communist Countries
Aug. 28, 1968  Scandinavia and Socialism
Oct. 18, 1967  Soviet Communism After Fifty Years
Sep. 21, 1966  Soviet Economy: Incentives Under Communism
Sep. 15, 1965  Thailand: New Red Target
Dec. 18, 1963  Communist Schisms
Mar. 13, 1963  Venezuela: Target for Reds
Apr. 25, 1962  Teaching About Communism
Dec. 01, 1960  Farming and Food in Communist Lands
Apr. 27, 1960  Communist Party, U.S.A.
Nov. 07, 1956  Reds and Redefection
Apr. 11, 1956  Communists and Popular Fronts
Dec. 07, 1955  Religion Behind the Iron Curtain
Nov. 12, 1954  Communist Controls
Feb. 11, 1953  Red Teachers and Educational Freedom
Apr. 04, 1950  Loyalty and Security
Aug. 19, 1949  Church and Communism
Jul. 22, 1949  Reds in Trade Unions
Jul. 05, 1949  Academic Freedom
Feb. 11, 1948  Control of Communism in the United States
Feb. 05, 1947  Investigations of Un-Americanism
Nov. 13, 1946  Communism in America
Mar. 28, 1935  Anti-Radical Agitation
Oct. 19, 1932  The Socialist Vote in 1932
Aug. 08, 1931  National Economic Councils Abroad
Bilateral and Regional Trade
Economic Development
Regional Political Affairs: Russia and the Former Soviet Union