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Khrushchevs Rule Was Characterised By Foolish And

?Khrushchev?s Rule Was Characterised By Foolish And Hare-brained Schemes, Brezhnev?s Offered Nothing Essay, Research Paper

?Khrushchev?s rule was characterised by foolish and

hare-brained schemes, Brezhnev?s offered nothing but stagnation.? Analyse the

domestic history of the USSR in the period 1953-1980 in the light of this

assertion.In 1953 the ruthless and powerful ruler of the USSR Josef

Stalin died thus ending a period of Russian history which saw the world?s first

communist state grow from a country crippled by civil war to one of the world?s

two superpowers. As with Lenin before him Stalin left no clear successor and it

wasn?t until 1956 that Nikita Khrushchev became the first notable leader of the

party (after Malenkov and Bulganin). Leonid Brezhnev then followed him as

leader. The rule of Khrushchev has been described, as being characterised by

hare-brained and foolish policies and the rule of Brezhnev has been described

as a time of stagnation. This essay will evaluate each of the leaders? domestic

policies and attempt to conclude whether these assertions are correct. One of Khrushchev?s first domestic policies once he had come

to power was the process of de-Stalinisation. This involved dismantling the

system that Stalin had created, and ending his reign of terror. It also tied in

with a number of his other domestic polices including harbouring the growth of

consumerism, and aiming to overtake the USA in consumerism. It all began in 1956 at the Twentieth Party Congress where

Khrushchev denounced Stalin in a bitter attack on his polices and his rule of

the USSR. The policy of de-Stalinisation involved releasing and pardoning tens

of thousands of the gulag inmates across the USSR, and turning the USSR away

from the ways of Stalin. This also involved talking of peaceful co-existence

with the west and re-patching a relationship with the Yugoslavian leader Tito

who Stalin had attempted to undermine in previous years. Khrushchev also changed the focus of the five-year plans

away from heavy industry, which Stalin had kept them focused on since their

creation, to consumer goods in an attempt to raise the standard of living within

the USSR. Khrushchev even boasted on a trip to the USA that the USSR would

overtake them within a few years. The policy of de-Stalinisation was a good idea on

Khrushchev?s part as the Soviet people had come to hate Stalin due to his reign

of terror and therefore changing that part of the country was a good move. It

was however unwise of Khrushchev to believe that he could completely remove

everything which Stalin had setup and had had influence over. The assertion

claims that Khrushchev?s rule was characterised by foolish hare-brained

schemes. This policy was neither hare-brained nor foolish in its implementation

but it was foolish in its belief that everything could be changed and that

people would forget Stalin?s regime. Again changing the focus of the five-year plans away from

heavy industry was a good idea yet had some problems. The five-year plans had

been shown to be flawed. They were inefficient and due to a lack of incentives

or punishments on the completion or failure of the five-year plan respectively,

the population were not compelled to meet the targets set. Khrushchev?s most ambitious policy was that of the Virgin

Lands, which he first implemented before he came to power in 1954. At the time

of Khrushchev?s rule it had been generally admitted that Stalin?s policy of

collectivisation was a failure and therefore Khrushchev being of a peasantry

background decided to change agricultural policy. He ended centralised

decision-making changing it to a local level. The Virgin Lands policy involved

using previously unfarmed or virgin areas of land for agriculture. Khrushchev

hoped to exploit these areas for agriculture. Some examples of virgin areas of

land included Siberia and Kazakhstan. Volunteers, primarily komosot or young communists were sent

along with 120,000 tractors to farm these areas. There were a number of problems with the Virgin Lands policy

which included a lack of enthusiasm within the groups of komosot, a lack of local knowledge, a lack of storage facilities

for crops produced and finally and most importantly the land chosen was

unsuitable for farming. These problems led to the failure of the Virgin Lands

policy and to a severe food shortage within the USSR. Their problem was so bad

Khrushchev was forced to import grain from the USSR?s arch enemy in the cold

war, the USA. This was a major humiliation for the USSR, which lost a lot of

prestige due to this failure. Overall the Virgin Lands scheme was a hare-brained idea on

Khrushchev?s part. The idea of being able to grow crops in areas not suitable

for doing so was absurd and therefore led to one of the most humiliating

incidents to occur to the USSR during the whole of the cold war. In October 1964 after a power struggle within the party

Khrushchev was removed from his position and it was one of those involved with

his sacking, Leonid Brezhnev, that became the new party leader. Brezhnev was

more like Stalin than Khrushchev and therefore slowed down the policy of

de-Stalinisation, which had been begun by Khrushchev. Brezhnev took time to consolidate his control of the Soviet

leadership only gaining supreme power in 1977 after being made head of state.

Brezhnev believed that Khrushchev had made too many changes of personnel during

his time as the party leader. This led to him not wanting to gain ultimate

power through the removal of people, then replacing them with people loyal to

him. He decided that he would gain his support by promoting his allies when the

position became vacant, usually via the death of the predecessor. The major job

Brezhnev had to make sure he had an ally at the head of was the KGB and he

secured this by appointing Yuri Andropov, quite early into his rule. (Who

happened to become the next leader of the USSR after Brezhnev.) Brezhnev?s unwillingness to promote quickly led to an

overall age increase. Within the politburo between 1960 and 1978 the average

age of members rose by ten years. This policy did lead to a stagnation of the

USSR, as there were no new ideas being circulated through the politburo, as the

personnel were not being replaced. Brezhnev also was unwilling, like Khrushchev before him, to

adapt or change the five-year plans. So the lack of incentives being offered to

workers and managers succeeded in keeping productivity levels low. The average

Soviet worker during his rule was half as productive as the average American

worker. This low productivity level led to the failure to complete the Ninth

five-year plans targets between 1971 and 1975 in certain areas, notably

agriculture and industry, although the production of consumer goods did

increase. This failure did lead to an increased stagnation of the Soviet Union

particularly its economy throughout the 1970?s and the 1980?s, even though

there were a number of huge industrial projects including the opening of gas and

oil fields in Siberia during the 1970?s. Brezhnev, again like Khrushchev before him, realised that

the USSR?s agriculture needed a major overhaul. This was especially necessary

after the failure of Khrushchev?s Virgin Lands policy to produce any extra food.

Brezhnev decided to allow increased ownership of private land to the peasants.

This meant that they could have their own plot of land and they could grow

their own food. The requirement of this policy was that any excess grown by the

peasants would be bought by the state. This policy led to peasants growing only

enough food to support themselves leading to Brezhnev having to again buy grain

from the USA. This was because the peasants chose to not sell any excess food

to the state but to use it for blat a

bartering system which operated across the whole of the Soviet Union. This

policy did not lead to the stagnation of Soviet agriculture it merely succeeded

in continuing the stagnation that had started under Khrushchev?s rule. The communist system was very rigid and allowed very few

opportunities for individual expression of one?s belief or thoughts. This lack

of expression led to a slow development of the economic and social structure,

as people were not allowed to put across their ideas and thoughts. This also

had some social consequences including a massive increase in alcoholism rates

then giving the USSR the highest rate in the world. This was along with one of

the highest rates of divorce and abortion in the world. This problem although

not created under the Brezhnev rule, was not solved and probably did worsen

throughout his rule and led to the increased stagnation of the Soviet Union. Overall it can be concluded that the assertion that

Khrushchev?s rule was filled with hare-brained schemes and that Brezhnev?s rule

was a period of stagnation is partially correct. Khrushchev?s rule was

characterised by a number of different policies most of which failed. These

however were not hare-brained or foolish when they were implemented, with the

exception of the Virgin Lands policy they were just not successful. However the

assertion about Brezhnev?s rule is correct, there was stagnation in the USSR

during his rule in the three main areas of the country the economy, the

agriculture and the social wellbeing of the people. This meant that by 1980 the

USSR had failed to prove that communism was better than capitalism and was a

weak country with an unproductive economy. It wasn?t until the appointment of

Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 that the USSR began a whole scale restructuring of

the Soviet system.