Domestic Policy under Khrushchev

Domestic Policy under Brezhnev, 1964-1985

LEONID BREZHNEV returned to the policy of ruling with a firm hand, blaming Krushchev's lack of a clear concept and a firm hand for the international and domestic troubles. Political policing was reinforced, although it did not reach the proportions it used to have under Stalin.
The intensifying arms and space race, as well as the various sideshows of the Cold War supported by the USSR proved costly. In order to be able to compete in the development of modern arms and spacecraft, the nation's best engineers were sent into these projects; these projects were given preferential treatment when it came to scarce resources, investment etc. The consumer goods industry was neglected. The oil crisis of 1973 only worsened the situation. The USSR is an oil producer; for political reasins it supplied many of its satellites with oil at politically motivated low costs, in effect subsidizing their partners.
As hard currency was increasingly scarce, the USSR began to export certain products marketable in the west, which again became scarce on the Soviet market.
ALEXANDER SOLZHENITSYN was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize for Literature for his novel ARCHIPELAGO GULAG, the story of an inmate of the Gulag. In 1974 he was exiled from the USSR. Another prominent critic was ANDREY SAKHAROV, nuclear physicist, awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1975; the Soviet government banned him to the city of Gorki, where he was under constant police supervision.
The Soviet team continued to harvest medals at international sports events. Yet the confidence of many Soviet citizens in their political system eroded, as its deficiencies (the lack of many consumer goods, the ongoing decay of buildings, infrastructure, ongoing pollution) were all too obvious. The war in Afghanistan, which begun in 1979, only made matters worse; now Soviet young men died on the war, others returned demoralized, some as Opium addicts, creating a drug problem in the country.
The Brezhnev administration failed to address the structural problems of the USSR - the industry was not modernized, little was undertaken to prevent or combat pollution. As a lot of water was diverted from the Amu-Darja and Syr-Darja to irrigate cotton fields, the ARAL SEA, once rich in fish, shrunk to about a third of its original size, now so salty that no life is possible in it. Another problem of the Brezhnev administration (as well as of most of their satellites in Eastern Europe) was that they did not attempt to rejuvenate political leadership - the members of the Central Committee ages together; when Brezhnev died, many of the members were in their late sixties or seventies.

History of the GAZ-Volga (car), from Autosoviet
REFERENCE Article : Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, in : Britannica Book of the Year 1966 pp.780-783, 1967 pp.768-773, 1968 pp.775-779, 1969 pp.762-767, 1970 pp.764-767, 1971 pp.745-751, 1972 pp.699-704, 1973 pp.700-704, 1974 pp.694-698, 1975 pp.700-705, 1976 pp.677-681, 1977 pp.681-685, 1978 pp.685-689, 1979 pp.144-149; 684-687, 1980 pp.683-688, 1981 pp.677-681, 1982 pp.681-685, 1983 pp.679-684, 1984 pp.679-683, 1985 pp.552-556, 801-802 [G]
Article : Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1970-1971 pp.1382-1446, 1975-1976 pp.1388-1450, 1976-1977 pp.1383-1449, 1978-1979 pp.1202-1268, 1979-1980 pp.1211-1278, 1980-1981 pp.1207-1274, 1981-1982 pp.1215-1281, 1983-1984 pp.1212-1278, 1984-1985 pp.1209-1275 [G]
Article : USSR, in : The World in Figures 1st ed. 1976 pp.265-268 [G]
Article : Soviet Union, in : The World in Figures 2nd ed. 1978 pp.254-257, 4th ed. 1984 pp.254-257 [G]
Article : USSR, in : Americana Annual 1967 pp.699-705, 1968 pp.690-698, 1969 pp.697-703, 1970 pp.699-705, 1971 pp.695-700, 1972 pp.693-699, 1973 pp.693-699, 1974 pp.607-612, 1976 pp.561-565 [G]
Article : USSR, in : Yearbook on International Affairs 1976 pp.68-91 (Robert H. Donaldson), 1980 pp.67-93 (R. Judson Mitchell) [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on April 18th 2007

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