• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

A period of economic and political stagnation. How valid is this assessment of the Brezhnev years?

Extracts from this document...


?A period of economic and political stagnation?. How valid is this assessment of the Brezhnev years? ?Only the fourth Soviet leader in half a century, heir to the brilliant Lenin, the tyrant Stalin and the buffoon Khrushchev. What style of leadership would he adopt?? McCauley?s question here is rhetorical, as there was no doubt that Leonid Brezhnev would lead his country into an era characterised by gradualism and a cautious pace, slowly making some selected changes to ensure his own survival, but stopping short of any real progress. Through his ascent to power and reversion of his predecessor?s administration, his economic policies and actions to silence dissidents, Brezhnev was attempting to preserve a Stalinist regime, but without its two vital components of the cult of personality and fear. His consequent reliance on bribery and excessive bureaucracy to compensate for this resulted in an epidemic of complacency developing across the Soviet Union as the Brezhnev years did indeed become a period of economic and political stagnation. It was specifically for his low key approach and moderatist stance that Brezhnev was chosen to be among the collective leadership following the fall of Khrushchev, as Russia was looking for a period of stability. ...read more.


Although the supply of livestock increased 300% and an increase in tractors reached 65% in 1965, which was later to fall to little over 6% just ten years later, the underlying problems in agriculture were left unresolved; a shortage of skilled labour, an emphasis on quantity over quality, and unsuitable roads, machinery and state quotas so that grain still had to be imported from countries like the USA and Argentina as late into the Brezhnev years as 1980. Brezhnev?s mismanagement of agriculture also created environmental problems that proved to be economically devastating; in the case of Lake Baikal, drained for irrigation, natural resources were abused to the extent that the entire area?s fishing industry collapsed. A similar outcome was the result of Brezhnev?s industrial policies, where a primary focus was put on producing consumer goods in the eighth, ninth and tenth Five Year Plans, in line with Brezhnev?s own penchant for creature comforts. The number of cars in Russia increased from 201,200 in 1965 to 1,327,000 in 1985, yet this was only a third of the number in Britain, a country with a comparably minute population. Any beneficial measures were met with limited success in practice due to massive arms expenditure, the apathy of managers already content with their lot, and huge amounts of red tape preventing much progress, ...read more.


According to one dissident, Andrei Sinyavsky, ?during Brezhnev?s time two more backwards steps were taken, and history wavered on the edge of returning to full Stalinism...but stopped short?. This was a recurrent theme of the Brezhnev years, which stopped short of any real success and could not even achieve a full regression to Stalinism. Despite Brezhnev?s ability as a leader, he led his country to what can be described at best as a period of economic and political stagnation, and at worst the period that made certain the decline of Communism. Brezhnev did not share the fervent belief of some party members, including Khrushchev, that traditional Communism was the best political system, as evidenced by his acceptance and encouragement of a corrupt and divided society through bribery, wage brackets and nepotism. Neither did he do anything to inspire this belief in their political system to the people of Russia. Volkogonov asserted that ?to enliven the moribund ideology of Communism...was quite beyond Brezhnev? and goes on to state that his image ?was not only as the harbinger of the collapse of the system, but also as the symbol of the decline of Bolshevik power, towards which the people had long become indifferent?. Although his initial gradualism and caution was merited, Brezhnev?s mistake was to allow it to descend into an economic, social and political stagnation, a corrupt complacency, and socialism, albeit slowly, fell apart. Ciara Lally 06.09.2010 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate History section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate History essays

  1. IB History HL, Extended Notes: Russia, the Tsars, the Provisional Govenment and the Revolution.

    Workers 1. Wanted improved living and working conditions, 8-hour day, wage rises, job security, and supervision of management. 2. Conciliation chambers and factory committees set up but they were seen as Government attempts to maintain the status quo in factories.

  2. Law and Order in the Medieval Period Assigment - Year 8

    the country and made sure some parts weren?t to lenient and others weren?t to strict. This was the start of having the same law throughout a country, which is used in many countries today. 9. What is the common Law Common law is law developed by judges through decisions of court and tribunals.

  1. How did the Black Death of 1348 impact on the rivalry for political power ...

    It is this Ireland which will be referred to as 'native Irish'; hence the English invasion followed the Gaelic and Viking invasions. Prior to the English invasion, Ireland was governed and ruled over by a series of Kings who ruled a certain portion of the country (a lordship)

  2. Why has Afghanistan become such an important issue in the last 10 years?

    trying to find Osama and Al-Qaeda. There is also a sense that Afghans as a whole were unfairly blamed in the attack because their Taliban rulers aided Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Most people also believe that without the September 11 attacks, America and the rest of the international

  1. Hitler's economic miracle

    This was also very important to Hitler. He wanted to be powerful and not only with the economy, but also military. When he did something that helped the economy he always made sure that it could help him in other ways to. For example here: a lot of jobs were created in factories and at the same time Germany became military more powerful.

  2. Explain why Britain joined the EEC in 1973 and why the process caused so ...

    her markets, her supply lines to the most diverse and often the most distant countries; she pursues essentially industrial and commercial activities, and only slight agricultural ones? He continued to say that Britain?s dependence on imported food stuff were ?obviously incompatible with the system, which the Six have established quite naturally for themselves?.

  1. The Impact of Ronald Reagan's Economic Policies in the US

    Also this book provided statistics that showed the results of Reagan?s actions (e.g. tax cuts). This book also shows what state the economy was in prior to Reagan?s presidency so this way I could have a better understanding of the true impact Reagan had on the American economy.

  2. How successful was Khrushchev as Soviet Leader?

    This public denigration of the once revered leader was a key aspect of de-Stalinisation, characterised by the Leader?s Secret Speech in 1956. This secret speech had ulterior motives; a large part of Khrushchev?s motivation for it was the opportunity it presented to discredit his political rivals.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work