This book assembles for the first time the highlights and issues, the main participants, and the arguments and rebuttals of the intense economic debates which transpired in the U.S.S.R. primarily between 1962 and 1965. These were the first such open debates to be permitted since those of the twenties that had involved the industrialization question. This book is also the first fully to describe the proposals of Soviet economist Evsei Liberman, and it places in proper perspective the role which he played in effecting the economic reforms announced by Kosygin in September and October of 1965, a role that has received wide attention in the Western press but that both the author and Liberman (in a letter to the author) have stated as being “very, very exaggerated by the Western press.”
After an absence of more than three decades there is emerging in the Soviet Union a guarded reacceptance of the West's “marketing concept.” This study is an inquiry into the causes responsible for the re-emergence of the “marketing concept” as one of the several basic guides in formulating new Soviet economic and welfare policies and the reasons behind the recent shift in emphasis upon the consumer in Soviet industrial planning. It is, therefore, also an inquiry into the nature of the Soviet economic system in general and an analysis of certain centralized planning mechanisms that no longer appear to perform their once-intended functions effectively. This book attempts to answer such questions as: Why has their system called for change and why has the “marketing concept” been so long in returning? What techniques of the former order have been discarded and what new ones (principally those with origins in market-type economies) have been adopted? To what degree have contemporary Soviet theorists deviated from their Marxian/Marxist heritage in attempting to modify their economy by employing Western techniques?
Descriptive rather than analytical, this work is concerned with the evolvement of Soviet economic self-criticism rather than with analytical criticism by a non-Soviet economist. Because of this emphasis, the source materials utilized have largely been Soviet professional journals and periodicals, newspapers, and official documents. The book includes a definition of the “marketing concept” (both Soviet and Western versions); Marxian and Marxist trade theory (as conceived by Marx and Engels, and interpreted and amended by Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and Kosygin-Brezhnev); the economic debates on the role profit is to play in a socialist/communist economy; the 1965 reforms; the irrationalities of the Soviet value-price dilemma; and problems and trends in Soviet marketing techniques.