Was Stalin Really Necessary?
Some Problems of Soviet Economic Policy
By Alec Nove
Routledge – 1964 – 314 pages
Series: Routledge Revivals
First published in 1964, Was Stalin Really Necessary? is a thought-provoking work which deals with many aspects of the Soviet political economy, planning problems and statistics. Professor Nove starts with an attempt to evaluate the rationality of Stalinism and discusses the possible political consequences of the search for greater economic efficiency, which is followed by a controversial discussion of Kremlinology. The author goes on to analyse the situation of the peasants as reflected in literary journals, then looks at industrial and agricultural problems. There are elaborate statistical surveys of occupational patterns and the purchasing power of wages, followed by an examination of the irrational statistical reflection of irrational economic decisions. Professor Nove’s essay on social welfare was, unlike some of his other work, used in the Soviet press as evidence against over-enthusiastic cold-warriors, among whom the author was not always popular. Finally, the author seeks to generalise about the evolution of world communism.
Part 1: Political Economy 1. Was Stalin really necessary? 2. The uses and abuses of Kremlinology 3. The politics of economic rationality Part 2: Industrial Growth and Planning 4. The prospects of Soviet economic growth 5. The problem of ‘success indicators’ in Soviet industry 6. Soviet planning: reforms in prospect 7. Principal problems of Soviet planning Part 3: Agriculture 8. The peasants in Soviet literature since Stalin 9. Soviet agriculture marks time 10. Rural taxation in the USSR 11. Incentives for peasants and administrators Part 4: Labour, Welfare 12. A Study of Soviet Wages 13. Social welfare in the USSR Part 5: Statistics 14. The purchasing power of the Soviet rouble 15. Occupational patterns in the USSR and Great Britain 16. Economic irrationality and irrational statistics Part 6: Ideology 17. Communism