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European Integration in a Historical Perspective.

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Introduction

European Integration in a Historical Perspective "The emergence of a command economy in the Soviet Union during the Stalin era was the result of diplomatic isolation rather than the consequence of ideological precepts: economic planning appeared to guarantee a higher rate of growth and self-sufficiency." Discuss. Milan Samani I will begin the discussion of the above quote by defining a command economy. I will then place this definition within a geographical and historical context, thereby analysing it in the Soviet Union and during the Stalin era. I will then explain the reasons for its emergence and place the roles of both ideology and the Soviet Union's diplomatic isolation, and how they are inter-linked. I will define the Stalin era as the period between Lenin's death in January 19241 and Stalin's death in March 1952. An economic definition of a command economy is one where 'a state planning office decides what will be produced, how it will be produced, and for whom it will be produced. Detailed instructions are then issued to households, workers and firms'2. This definition is an economic archetype, and no complete command economy, where all allocation decisions are undertaken in this way, exists. ...read more.

Middle

Stalin believed that it was 'through heavy industry, that the rest of the benefits of the economy would come.8' How exactly he arrived at this assumption is unclear, as the model of growth that he used (i.e. that of 'extensive growth'9), is, and proved to be, unsustainable in the long run. However, the motivational factor of economic growth was present nonetheless. Stalin also stressed the security considerations of the Soviet Union. Russia had a feeble war industry and lacked steel and machinery-making capacity. The army's shortage of weapons during the First World War emphasised this point. Although Russia had had the allied exports from France and the UK, the fact of geography had made impeded the flow off supplies. Added to this was the fact that Russia's allies were by no means certain in the years to come, Stalin believing that the Soviet Union was within a ring of 'imperialist encirclement10'. These economic realities played a large role in shaping the nature of Stalin's command economy. However, there were also political factors at work. Throughout Lenin's period of rule, the working class was small, the majority of the population being peasants (the so-called 'peasant problem'). ...read more.

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, I would attribute the emergence of the command economy in the Soviet Union during the Stalin era to a combination of the two factors that define Stalinism itself as an ideology: the push for modernisation and economic growth and the ideological doctrine of 'socialism in one country'. The first factor, that of modernisation, was influenced by the pursuit of personal power (the political penetration of the economy meant that Stalin had overall control), economic realities (Stalin's belief that heavy industry, not demand-driven consumer goods was the key to building a strong economy), and political factors (the creation of the proletariat). The second factor is influenced by the fact that the economic reality of diplomatic isolation was not an alternative to, but the cause of the doctrine of 'socialism in one country'. The purely ideological precept of self-sufficiency did play a role in the emergence of the command economy, but it was itself conceived by the fact that the Soviet Union was diplomatically isolated. In short, diplomatic isolation spawned the ideological precept of self-sufficiency and it was this, combined with the drive for modernisation and economic growth (itself affected by economic, political, and personal factors) that caused the emergence of a command economy in the Soviet Union in the Stalin era. ...read more.

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