Domestic Stresses on the Soviet System
National Intelligence Estimate
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DOMESTIC STRESSES ON THE SOVIET SYSTEM
this estimate is issued by the director of central intelligence.
the national foreign intelligence board concurs, except as noted in the text.
The following intelligence organizations participated in the preparation of the Estimate:
The Centre' Intelligence Agency, ihe Defense Intelligence Agency, the Nationof Security Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ond ihe Intelligence organiiohons of the Deportments of State, the Treasury, and Energy.
The Assistant Chief of Staff for hteCgence, Department of tho Army The Director of Navol InteKgenee, Department o( Ihe Navy The Assistant Chief of Staff, Infetigence, Deportment of the Air Farce Tho Director of InteBgonce, Hee>douoriert, Morine Corps
I. The Elements of
Legacy of Moribund Political
D. Dissent and ODPositionist
E- The Shift in the Popular
Leadership Perceptions and Responses From Brezhnev to
Prospects for the Soviet System and
of the System and
for the United
An accumulation of domestic stresses has been visible Io official and unofficial observers of the Soviet scene for many years. This National Intelligence Estimate is the Intelligence Community's first attempt to assess the impact of these internal Soviet problems. It alsothe directions the new Gorbachev regime will take in addressing them, and their prospects for success. The time period on which this NIE focuses is the second half of.
This Estimate rests in large partody of data and analysis that will be published separately by the Office of Soviet Analysis, CIA. The CIA study will record in detail the substance of intelligence reporting on Soviet elite perceptions of the USSR's internal disorders and the elite's mounting alarm over their political implications in recent years.
An estimate of this sort suffers from severe data problems, particularly the lack of statistics on social trends and pathologies, such as crime rates. Our analysis has also been encumberedack of good social theory for describing the behaviorociety that is far fromthe old "totalitarian model" but is still ruledegime that strives to fulfill many of that model's features- Nevertheless, this NIEaseline for future collection and analysis on developments inside Soviet society that will merit frequent reexamination in the years ahead.
The USSR is afflictedomplex of domestic maladies thatworsened in thend. Their alleviation is one of the most significant and difficult challenges facing theregime.
By most contemporary standards, the Soviet Unionery stable country. Over the next five years, and for the foreseeable future, the troubles of the society will nothallenge to the system ofcontrol that guarantees Kremlin rule, nor will they threaten the economy with collapse. But, during the rest ofnd well beyond, the domestic affairs of the USSR will be dominated by the efforts of the regime to grapple with these manifold problems, whichalso have an influence on Soviet foreign and national security behavior.
At the root of Soviet domestic ills are three tightly interconnected problems:
A long-term slowdown in the economy caused by laborhigh natural-resource costs, and low factor productivity.
A lethargic and parasitic party-stale bureaucracy that has virtually ceased toobilizing tool and hasajor obstacle to social and economic progress.
unmotivated labor force-Both contributing to and resulting from these basic ills, the Soviet
system has been further afflicted by:
A moribund political leadership from the last years of Brezhnev until the accession of Gorbachev
Social pathologies induding corruption by both officials and the population at large, rampant alcoholism, rising crime rates, and drug abuse.
The spread of dissenting attitudes, including religiousnationalistic resentments, and youth alienation, despite increased repression of overt political dissent in recent years.
Isolated but numerous incidents of civil unrest and worker protests, often over food shortages and working conditions.
The material spur to these problems was the near stagnation of consumption levels in thend. More information
from the outside world contributed to popularenient. The underlying cause of most of these problems is the repressive natureolitical system that discourages initiative throughout the society on which economic and social progress depend, and that limits the private freedoms Soviet citizens desire.
The worsening of these problems and the failure of the top leadership to take credible action against them demoralized both the ruling elite and the population at large in recent years. Continuing measures begun under Andropov, the Gorbachev regime is trying toomprehensive strategy to alleviate these problems by renewalof leading cadres, tightened social and bureaucratic discipline, and an economic growth program reliant on modernizing thebase and reform of the management system.
Gorbachev has achieved an upswing in the mood of the Soviet elite and populace. But the prospects for his strategy over the next five years are mixed at best:
Wc expect his measures to be activist, but essentiallywith heavy emphasis on disciplinary controls to balance what modest decentralizing reforms of the managementhe adopts.
Although recent regime policies have boosted growth, the Gorbachev economic program is fraught with uncertainty and risk. It depends heavily on an initial stimulus to taborwhich could be undercut because welfare improvements are likely to be slow. The oil production turndown and uncertainties in agriculture are further threats.
Many of the ills of the system are very deeply rooted in theof the.economiccorruption and lack of incentives, forin the politicalattitudinal alienation. We do not expect Gorbachev to make much progress in correcting them over the next five years, despite strenuous measures.
Many ofolicies, such as cadre renewal,measures, differentiated material incentives for workers and managers, and bureaucratic restructuring are likely to increase rather than decrease tensions in the society that result from anxiety and insecurity. The regime is, indeed, counting on such tensions to spur worker performance.
Powerful factors buttress the stability of the Soviet system,pervasive political controls and the passive tolerance of theat large. At the same time, those factors favoring stability are abrake on the economic growth and social modernization goals of
Ihe regime. Moreover, thererowing tension between popular aspirations and thebility to satisfy them, and also tensions belween the regime's growth and modernization goals, on the one hand, and centralized political control on the other. We do not exclude the possibility that at some unforeseeable future time these tensions coulderious threat to the stability of the system.
Economic and social problems do not make the USSR anything otherowerful and acquisitive actor on the international scene. Corbachev gives every indication of endorsing well-established Soviet goals for expanded power and influence. But slow growth, technological backwardness, and the surrounding complex of social ills do pose constraints on the USSR's achievement of international goals with ease:
Because of them, the USSR is no longer an economic model for advanced or developing societies, which diminishes Sovietappeal.
Internal problems give Sovietense of the vulnerability of their system to foreign influences and might, under some conditions, inhibit foreign military ventures that could stimulate internal unrest. These factors constrain foreign policy flexibility, allhough Afghanistan and other Third World ventures indicate that the USSR is much less constrained than the United States by domestic considerations.
Technological backwardness constrains Soviet ability to compete in high-technology weapons development; and labor needs now clash more than ever with high levels of active military manpower.
In part because itood way to advance established Soviet foreign policy goals, but also because hereathing space to ease the task of managing Soviet internal problems, Gorbachev is urgentlyestoration of the detente enviroment of then East-Weste is at present unwilling toignificant price for detente by accommodating Soviet behavior to US security interests. He will probably maintain this stance for several years while he determines how well his domestic and foreign policies are working. But if he fails to get either domestic revitalizalion or an international
' TW ti enbv iht Dirtdor. Dtftnte lateUtgenee Agenev. and iht Amttant Chief ai Staff. Intelligence. Department of ihe AUholds that ihe Cotbaehto lepme regard, ibt advancement of III foreign and ttralegtc toeh at the primary determinant of. and motftatinc fecial behind. Soviet behavor in the International arena, not Soviet internal problem*
breathing space oa die cheap, he would most likely opt for tactical accommodation with the United Slates in order to gain the advantage of economic interaction with the West, facilitating both relief from domestic economic constraints and continued military modernization. At the same time, the Soviets would continue to pursue greater influence in the Third World and efforts to divide US alliances.
The Soviet recline under its new leader.orbachev,not of societal probleiru thai embraces almost all atrjects of Soviet Life Together thev make ihe Sovietar less healthy society than either ib leadership or its population wishes it lo be,arody of its official values of social progress, public welfare, and popular optimism. Most of thesetorn alcoholism to declining public health, from rampant corruption to abysmal workerfrom youth alienation to dissenting attitudes in thedeep social and political roots. They worsened conilderably under conditions ofslowdown that beset the system in thend were exacerbated by the period ofpolilical leadership precediinj Corbaclievs
he manifold illnesses of Soviet society are less traumatic than what tbe Soviet population suffered and the regime survived in the not-too-distant post; civil war, collectivization, purges, mass terror, and World War IL Yet they are abo less tractable or transient than those intense stresses. The problems of llie present are very much products of the system In its maturity andefinite tunning down of the capacity of the system to motivate constructive social behavior or to suppress some pervasive forms ofbehavior through coercion or persuasion
o some extent these problems are the products of urbanization and moderriiuiion systematicaUy sought by the regime over nearlyears, and of the high priority always placed by the regime on military power at the expense of other goals:
Growing and unsatisfied consumer demand has been the natural consequence of overall Soviet economic development
The developmentore critically thinking population, less susceptible lo previous lor ins of exhortation, is tbc product of mass education
A society more open lo outside influences results from advances In communications aod the greater international involvement of tbc USSR as a
Hut the Soviet system has found It iiicreasinglyto manage many of tbe effects of these processes it has abetted.
societal problems are interrelateddifficult to manage. For example,performance contributes to slowingwhich faib to provide tbe incentives neededperformance. Therapeutic measures takenregime may well increase social stresses inbefore tbey pay off in increased growthwelfare. In tbe fiual analysis,arge part of ibe problem because itthe creativity and initiative on which thea modern technological society depends.
new Gorbachevlearlyto alleviate the system's societalrevitalixation of the entire politicalof social discipitne, sharp improvementiperformance, and, more generally,of belief by the population and the eliteariety of sources indicatehas made considerable progress ina sense of optimism to tbc elite and toof theat the price of anof insecurity among some Hb efforts area matter of seeking improved social conditionsamong several regime priorities. Tberoubled aod under achievinga twofold threat to its most vital goals ofabroad and maintaining control at home:societal conditions arc an obstacle toand technological modernization on whichdepends to be tbc effective andsuperpower it seeks to be. teccod. theysource of tensions thai could, if not checked,the stability of the internal system itself.
I. The Elements of Discontent
A. Ihe legacy of Moribund PcaVtkol leoetership
6 The Brezhnev leadership fulfilled with aits mandate from the ruling elite to provide
ol cadres" after lite tetroi of Stalin and (he organizational turmoil of (he Khrushchev years. Under iu aegis ihe ihouiandi of party and Hate functionartci who run the Soviet system came lo enlov virtually tenured pasitioni Tbe principal effects of this condi-lion were:
bureaucracies were relieved of pros-surea for innovation needed lo Improve economic performance and they undermined variousreforms that tbe Brezhnev leadership tried to apply to coergiic tbe economy.
the system, leaden remaining hi place or moving upeisurely pace found their teehnieal and managerial competence lor handling an Increasingly complex economy out
of dale; but they were under no pressure lo Hep
cyrsicism, and selfish interests came almost openly lo dominate tho actual values ol the ruling elite, undermining both their interest and iheir ability to motivate constructive behavior in ihe population.
in the form of bribery and shady dealings on the underground economy, always endemic lo Soviet officUldom, acquired epidemic proportions throughout the ruling elite, further undermining iu capacity to pursue official goals
With low mobility in the leadership system and the ability ol Its members to secure education and positions for their children, the elite assumed some characteristicsereditary aristocratic class.
ortsequersce of these pherwenena. the party-state machinery was transformedobiliza-tional tool Into an obstacle lo progress on all fronts. By Ihend, on an ever wider scale, Ihe very members? of the privileged Soviet elite were ei pressing gloom and disgrunttcment about ihe stale of affairs of which they were so much the cause and the beneficiaries Tlie period of visibly enfeebled leadership at the lop, from Bieihnevs Lale years through Clu-menko. both symptomired andIhe pessimism of Ihe ruling class- Indeed, its rtvmbcrs liecamc increasingly worried about Iheof the system to cope and to assure their own tuts its privileged element
8 If Gorbachev has achieved anything in his very brief tenure so far. most reporting indicates that he has reversed this mood of elite concern about inertia at the top by both his energetic, businesslike style and his slut cups of top-level party and slate personnel This new degree of optimism coexists with uncertainty as to how well the Gorbachev regime will fare in addressing the system's problems.
B. The Eecetorrac Slowdown
lie growth of the Soviet economy has been systematically decelerating sinces aof dwindling supplies of new labor, thecost of raw material inputs, and theon factor productivity improvement imposed br the rigidities of the planning and management system. The average annual growth of Soviet CNP droppedercent in the,ercent In the,ercent in theoviet CNP grew byercent per annum in Brezhnev's last. Aftera lowNP growth averagedpercent04 GrowthS will probably be in the rangeercent These recenthave been the result largely of disciplinary and incentive measures introduced under Andropov and Gorbachev. It remains to be seen whether the upturn in growth can bo lustaincd.
rowth In consumption hasrincipal casualty of the overall Soviet economic slowdown, with an enormous Impact on the Soviet popular mood. Per capita consumption grewercent per annum in theercent during the first half ofercent in the second half of,ercent in the first half of. From tbe point of view of the Soviet consumer, ac-custc-med lo rapid improvements from an abysmal base In the first two decades after World War II. the Soviet economy looted stagnant In fact, many Soviet cifixens have had the impression lhat their standard of living deteriorated in this period:
Soviet public health care has measurablybecause of skimpy funding, sloppyenvironmental problems, and stowing alcohol abuse. In the USSR alone anions; industrial nations, life expectancy has declined daring the past two decades, death rates (including infant mortality) have increased, and control of maior
The Exceptional Sector: The Soviet Militoey-tndusrriol Compfc.
the luit decade, while the rest of the Soviet economyslowing down and social difficultiesproduction by Soviet defense Industry for the Soviet militaryecline in growth rales Hut the number of new weapon systems fielded reachedhigh levels, and the pace ol techraolngical advance increased. The Soviet rruhtxiy-industrial complex, in short, remains the most creative sector ol the Soviet system
During )trrS-6S, the USSR fieldedi lor new or modernized military lyrtemi and procuredillion rubies' worth ofhardware0 billion If procured In the United States using Defense Department
Through energetic doraextic effort aed legal and illegal foreign acquisition, the USSR scored major miitsrydvances in solidstrategic muslin, surfaoe-to-aii and all to air mis-illrs, long-range cruise missiles, tighten, bombers, tiamport aircraft, tanks,nd leentry vehicles.
Soviet military command structurea and doctrines saw Important changes, meet evolutionary, but allngh order of purpose fulness and determination to solve military problems
The Soviet military-industrial camples Is the higb-aehievernerit sector of the Soviet sysiemumber of reasons
ii accorded top priority by the political leader-(hip In access lo resources and quality manpower, and given unusual flexibility to solve problems.
It Is served by an elaborate effort to acqulieorcicn technology.
The pretenceowerful, demanding customer, the Ministry of Defense, backed by ceotial partystate organs, gives mHilary-industrialunique incentives to perform, their labor force enjoys unique incentives and rewards for work.
Military discipline affords unique coercive took throughout the armed forces and the nstbtary-lodu*.U] .eeXor.
Nevertheless, the Soviet rjulitary-indwstrial complei is act Isolated from the piobtemi of the surrounding society:
Military manpower and the workforce In defense Industries suffer from the alcoholism, disease, corruption, and educational deficiencies thatthe rest of Ibe society.
While much more dfectrve and somewhat more efficient than the rest of the economy, the mili-lary-lnduatrial complex absorbs vast resourcesand indirectly, constitutingheavy burden on other social goals.
As military technologies become more complex and diffuse. Soviet military power Is becotiiing more constrained by low technology lewis in the todoly atource of worry to Soviet military authorities
diseases has deterioratedPalpably depressing the quality of life, adverse public health trends have also impinged negatively on demographic conditions and, hence, future labor supply.
Despite continuing massive expenditures onand major improvements over the past three decades, the Soviet housing shortagecritical, with deleterious effects on family life, birthrates, alcoholism, and crime
After rapid improvements innd, (lie food situation became particularly acute in theer capitaercenl annuallyui unsatisfied demands for quality and variety of food, and tbe Legendary difficulties of shopping fot it, presentfairly stagnant picture lo the Soviet consumer
ne consequence of tbe economic slowdown, in coruursction with the cadre policies of tbe Brezhnev regime, haseduction In upwardoviet publication acknowledged, "the times for soaring careers aren general, the society has become much more stratified, with most lockedarticular category of privilege or deprivation. This phenomenon has told against motivation at all levels and contributed particularly lo youth alienation.
conomic slowdown, nUirg exonerations and demands on tlie part ol the Soviet populace, and Ihe general laxity of oflkial controls over black-market activities have contributed greatly in recent years to behavior that the regime and tbe Soviet people regard as antisocial despite their often enthusiastic part id pa-tion In it
Corruption involving the underground or second economy has alwaysafor part of Soviet life engaging officials and the society at large. In recent years it has grown substantially. Many citizens, high or low, meet the most basic needs (or goods and services "ne levo" (on lhc "left" or on Ibeubstantial illegal incomes are made by supplying them.onsiderable extent, corruption nukes the system work and life more livable. But it abo involves wholesale theft of time and goods bom the state, and, oulte asassive erosion of standards of honesty. Networks of speculators have been able to operate beyond Ihe control of tlte system and exert some influence over it, at least on the local level
Crime appears to have risen in recent years-Including violent crime and maior robberies Juvenile crime has become an especially serious problem. Soviei criminologists bemoan the growthriminal subculture fusing crime levels and widespread recognition thathas undermined police effectiveness have tarnished ihe claim of ihe system toigh degree of personal security, although citizens still believe that crime in the West is even worse lhan In ihe USSR. The growth of Soviet forced labor facilities in the last decade probably Indicates both higher crime rates and stricter law
Alcohol abuie lias reached epidemicin the USSR by the testimony of all sources. Including Corbachev, well beyond the bounds ol Iheabit often cited to explain it. Rooted in the boredomeprived social environment and official policies for siphoning off excess purchasing power, hard alcoholevidently became the highest in the worldet capita basis (thisation where tbe Urge Muslim minority populations drink little) Iloio* contributor to declining public health, tlse growing instability ol family life, the ruing crime rate, and declining labor productivity throughout the economy.
Drug abute, although not nearly on the level of that in ihe United States, hasounting problem in the Soviet Union, as indicated in all reporting. Exposure of young soldiers to drug use in Afghanistan hasecent contributor
hese pathologies manifest the general tendency' of society at large to become less disciplined and of more areas of Soviet life lo slip beyond direct regime regulation. Alcohol abuse and corruption, mainly theft of work time and goods (or the second economy, are dearly the most serious of these challenges to Soviet official goals and controls Gorbachev has moved forcefully lo deal with the alcohol problem and has achieved some short-lerm positivepublic drunkenness and drinking on tbe job But long-term improvements require, in addition lo punitive or "administrative" measures, lhc provision of substitute goods, services, or activities; they are not ye! In evidence.-The anticorruption campaigns of Arsdropejv and Corbachev have taken their toll of blatantly offending officials, but it is too early to tell now far these measures can go inhenomenon easdemic to Soviet life
issenl and Oppositionist Behavior
iscontent with the society among Soviet eili-zens manifests itself overwhelminglyetreat from official values and activities into private modes of belief and behavior thai are Largely apolitical,they may be accompanied by conscious rment-menl o( tbe system and genuinely antisocial actions, an ironically accurate label the regime applies to heavy
drinking, for eiample. Yet there are dissident elements throughout the system, and some forms of politically
or morally conscious modes of dissent appear lo be on
im. and resentment of
Muscovite rule are probably harbored bv manyho now makeaiorily of the Soviet multinational empire. These attitudes
professeddisseoieis now are more prone to consider violeni actions against the system Some working-class youths are rapecially prone to this radicalizatlon. Their numbers are probably very small, but their troublemaking potential in unsettled conditions may not be.
ases0 of demonstrations, strikes, riots, and other protestbeen reported by intelligence and other available sources, which inevitablythe total Our evidence indicatesarticular problem ineriod when economic conditions wereow point We know of no episodes as large and prolonged as the food riots2 inbut some have been dramatic.ern of thousands of workers struck in the Russian city of Tolyatti. According2 report, party members in Perm turned In their party cards in protest over food shortages. Most such occurrences arise from worker grievances over food supplies or working conditions. Somehave arisen over ethnic conflicts, and some have been related to the Afghanistan war. Where food or local conditions are at issue, the regime pacifies the protesters with emergency supplies and then arrests the ringleaders. These responses, plus pervasive police controls, have effectively squelched any tendency for such outbursts to proliferate and chain togethererious challenge to the system. But every such incidentolt to the Moscow leadership.
issent Is In no way out of control in the USSR. Dissenting behavior, Involving some overt action. Isow point because oi the repressive measures applied during the, with the exception of participation in religious activities. But dissenting(s. conscious adherence to moral, pcilitical. or social beliefs that the staleprobably more widespread In the USSR today than at any time since Stalin's death. Inclusion of rdtgion and anti-Russian nationalism In thb broad definition probably means that dissenting attitudes are heldajority of the Soviet population to one degree or another. At present they areirect challenge to regime controls,anifestation of popular alienation and, lo some extent, an obstacle to regime goab.
E. The Shift in the PcpuSor AAood
oruejquence'of the developmentsabove, Ihe mood of the Soviet population shifted
In the late Brezhnev period The optimism of early postwar decades gave wayeep social malaise. Soviet society has become more dissatisfied, more demanding, and less pliable. These attitudes have been manifestedumber of widely reported and officially denounced pltenomena;
Worker morale fell, increasing labor productivity problems.
Tbe population is becoming increasinglypreoccupied with acquiring what good things of life are around, and trtfatuaied with imported goods.
More and more citizens are dropping out of public activities, and even official work, torewarding private activities from merely shopping to trafficking on tbe black market Subcultures beyond the regime's purview have proliferated.
a class, Soviet youth are particularly alienated from the system. SigtUficant minorities of them are prone to engage in various types of deviant and delinquentdodging,rejecting home and family life, and crime.
In the population at large, respect for and fear of the authority structure declined. The inclination to cheat or get around the system is pervasive, and little penalty Is expected short of the most provocative behavior. This means that the political andleverage of the regime over the population has declined.
Over the past decade morale problems within the Soviet elite have also increased, paralleling those within the societyhole:
Many elite membersower sense of social purpose than in tbeeakerto serving public as opposed to their own private interests.
The elites vision of the Soviet future has become gloomier. Many middle- and lower-level officials fear that the economy is played out and became more apprehensive about the potential forunrest than at any time since the early years of Soviet power.
Many elites during Brezhnev's final years and the brief tenures of Andropov and Chernenko came to see tbe Politburoeriatric group out of touch with reality and lacking any strategy or competence to deal with accumulating problems.
discipline eroded, as reflected in more open erillcism ol* the leadership and system toand an increase in deleel ions to tbe West
Reporting available to us on altitudes within the KGB and lhc Sovieiultimateof coercive power In thethat these elites became particularlyand disgruntled about the Soviet scene in the. The party leadership wasaware of and concerned especially about these trends
rising in part from economic slowdown, these negative moods clearly had further negative impact on the condition of the economy.
of work and responsibility throughout ibe labor force and tbe administrative bureau
Counterproductivelv high labor turnover.
Theft of week time and state goods for private use
A labor force leu pliable and fearful of coercion
A decline in the relevance of official institutions of all kinds for the real lives and behavior of people.
not new, these phenomena toldagainst labor productivity on whichis Increasingly dependentsuch as declining health standards andrates, worked against growth of the laboris too early to tell Itow successful Gorbachev willcounteracting these phenomena, but be hasto take forceful action in addressing thetn
F, External Factors
mote Isolated from the outsideany industrialized country, the USSR is fartoday than It was two decades ago.clearlyole in the downturn ofpopular mood in thend:
The very success of tbe USSR in asserting itself on the world scerve, and the pride of tho regime and much of tlie population in this achievement,endency lo bring the outside world Into Soviet public cortseiousncssariety of ways, such at officially sanctioned travel, importation ol Western nd even the regimes own propaganda. However distorted fn themedia, the contrast between Soviet and Western living condition! was increasinglyand important lo Soviet citizens
Western radaobroadcasta to tbe USSR findattentive audiencesorepopulation Western and East Europeancan be received by some populations in lhc Baltic. Byelorussian, and Ukrainian regions
Workers' assert iveness in Poland, while generally offensive lo the Soviet population, conveyed tbe message that even those people, bettor off lhan Soviets on the average, could take action.
hanges in the Soviet population itselfwilh outside influences In propelling the downturn in popular morale. More urbanized, more educated, and more remote from the privations of Ihe prewar and war years, the population tended increasingly to mcasute lis situation and prospects against tbe achievements and expectations generated In, years of rapid progress and high hopes for the standard of Irving. Outside sources of informal ion told about better conditions abroad and undermined regime credibiLty. They were particularly powerful in shaping tlie outlook of Soviet youth, deepening their alienation'from official values
II. leejcJershtp Perceptions ond Responses From Brezhnev to Gcebochev
Gorbachevew order ofby the Soviet regime to face tbe social discontent besetting the system. Tho Biezhnev-Kosyglntried,ilatory manner, toimited reform in the management structure fn the, and was thoroughly defeated bv the line-cured bureaucracy. By therezhnev washift from an "extensive" strategy (more capital and labor) to an "intensive" strategy (mote productivity) for economic development, but did not follow through. By thendhe Brezhnev regime recognized lhat economic problems were aggravating social problems, and that thesecouldocial crisis with profound political Implications for the system.
Although Politburo members arc largelyfrom direct contact with Use population, they have voluminous information about developments in Soviet society. Soviet leaden have publicly ditpiayodthat popular discontent has grown stronger In recent ycais while regime Instruments for maintaining social tranquillity and motivating the work force have
grown weaker. The Soviet leadership hai appeared concerned primarily about the mutually reinforcing downward Spiral of economic conditions and popular morale, but also sensitive to the possibile developmenthreatolitical control
The Polish crisis9ecame an object lesson of major proportions. In Poland, many members of the Sovietand Chernenko amonga potential mirror of their own society. In addition, Soviet leaders have probably believed to some extent their own protsaganda to the effect thai the United States was seeking lo undermine the Soviet system bv breaking its economyenewed arms competition, use of economic sanctions, and Increased subversive measures- More recently Soviet leaden have confronted growing public antipathy to the war in Afgharristan. which, while Incapable of influencing their Immediate policies on the war. Interacts with other eipressions of popular discontent.
Conflicts over the Isrsl strategy for dealing wilh the USSR's economic and social problems were clearly an issue in the politics of succession to the general-sccretxryship from Brezhnev to Gorbachev, although personal and bureaucratic alignments within the top leadership played the derisive role.
anyistinction emerged betweenpassive Brezhncv-Cheinenko stance andactivist Andropov Gorbachev stance on theissues. Both points of view appeared togravity of tbc USSR's socioeconomicInast years, Chernenkohis fear lhat economic stagnation and anmanagement elite, "detached fromharbored tbe riskocial crisis.of ra-rsjxetive concerned what shouldand was rooted both in different apprerUtionsthe system could risk and what theof the players demanded. Thepr-rspectivo was clearly moreor at least hopeful, that exhortation couldtbe situation. It was plainly fearful thatattacks on the system's problems couldtwo leaders' power bases In tbe party-statebut also possibly introduce new sourcesinto the system. The Brezhnevto pacify elites by [sruviding Job securitycorruption, and to permit the populationof de facto freedom to pursuein exchange for political quiescence
ood evidence, however, that thrIrend wilhin tbc leadership in recent yean has been luward the more activist strategy exemplified by Andropov and Gorbachev. This point of view was particularly alarmed by the erosion of the parly's moral authority and Ihe consequent weakening ot real central control throughout the society and tbe elite. Temporizing and evasions would only allow thelo worsen, wilh more serious ultimate come quenoes lot ihe regime.
s leadership concern about domestic problems Increased during Brezhnev's last years, the Politburo began lo experiment with new ways of managingomlementsore urgent approach began to emerge. Brezhnev's death gave impetus lo major policy mitiatives under Andropov, continueduted fashion by Gorbachev and others doling the Chernenko interregnum, andas the main line when Gorbachev became General Secretary in
espite many inconsistencies and waverings in Soviet domestic policy during the period sincetbe products of controversy and uncertainly among Soviethave been four central lines of policy:
Tbe leadership has moved to strengthen tbe social fabric and to tighten discipline across theerdorcxng higher performancefor workers and officials, moving to root out official corruption, strengthening lawagencies, taking steps lo limit Western influence on Soviet society, embarkingtern campaign to curtail alcohol consumptionthe most dramatic social innovation since de-StalinlzationX increasing penalties for lapses in military discipline and tightening up on draft deferments, undertaking an educational reform in!coded lo remold youth attitudes and bring more people into the work force at early ages, and bobtenng tbe familyase of social stability.
The regime has attempted to shore up its persua-siveneos and to combat popular cynicism by speaking more bluntly, working lo improve the quality of domestic propaganda and information, bv appealing more responsive to public opinion and consumer interests, and by more openly exploiting Russian nationalismrop of the system.
Under Andropov and Gorbachev, tbc regime has attempted to enhance the image of the Politburo and to reinvigorate tbe political system by far-leachlng cadre renewal moves. Iniended lo bring
more able officials inlo leadership posts and to motivate others to perform better Tbe aim here has been to lortify the legitimacy of ihe system by attempting to be tougher on itself and thereby more effective.
new programs for increasing the supply and improving the distribution of food and ton sumer goods have been launched.
nder Corbachev the basic elementsong-term strategy for revftaliiing the economy haveonlyemerge.
has come the so-called "human factors" element Through cadre renewal, tighterand morearge cstent on revived hopesetter future In thealms to get an immediate boost to economic perfc*mance from raised productivity.lanan ambitious average annual growth In CNP ofear for the rest of the decade
hasajor redirection of investment lesources Into the machine-building sector for the purposeercent) retooling of Industryhb strategic shift Is intended to spur the modernization of the whole economy innd beyond.
he has so far spoken in only general terms, Corbachev has placed reform of the eco nomk management system squarely on the agenda lie has Indicated that he will pursue the dual, and partly contradictory, goals of more effective central planning and Increased autonomy at the enterprise level all aimed at raising productivity and the pace of technological advance- He has ahoillingness to consider legalira lion of some small-scale private economic activity in the sci vice sector,urther expansion of private agricultural plots for city dwellers and workers.
Eastern turope has been told by Moscow that it must give more to the Soviet economy Inand capital goods, and get less from it in the way of subsidized delivery of raw materiab and energy
he resource allocation priorities signaled by the Corbachev regime are largely consistent with past trends. The investment strategy callshift of investment emphasis toward machine Ixnldinc. ratherajor increase in total allocations to Investment at the eipense of the other claimants onconsumprion and defense. Ambitious goals forroods have been announced and the population has been led torighter future, largely on the basii of its own work Military iirograms In train and impending suggest no reduction In the relative share of defense spending and rates of growth near or perhaps slightly more rapid than in the recent past.foreign policy and arms control Initiatives appear aimed at averting the need for more rapid growth in defense spending than currently planned.
e believe that thereood deal ofand risk in Gorbachev's strategy for spurring economic growth and shoring up social chscjpltiie, and we suspect he knows this. The success of his strategy depends most of all on the behavior of the wider ruling elite and the population of the USSR. The new faces, style, and promises of the Corbachev leadership have produced an upsurge of hope and expectations throughout the Soviet system But they have yet to be transformed Into lasting improvements in socialand are susceptible to disillusionment
III. Prospects for Ihe Soviet System and Society A. leader ship Strategies
Starting from where it is. the Gorbachevhas only one realistic direction In which to move in addressing the manifold economic and socialof Use system, thatixed strategy of cautious reforms on the economic front coupled with cadre renewal and tightened disciplinary coot rob to contain the effects of continuing social Ills and tbe political spinoffs of any liberalizing steps Corbachev may take io the economy.
The mired, but essentially conservative,that the Corbachev regime pursues over tho next five years will probably lave the following elements:
Id the workplace, further Intensification ofmeasures directed against offldaU and workers,onsiderable reduction of Job security; in the party, enforcement of stricter standards of conduct and more demandingcriteria.
Increased efforts through the party and other organizations lo restore positive social values, such as honesty, self-sacrifice, patrieitism. and sobriety, and sharply increased pressures asjalnst those with illegal incomes In the name of social rustice
einerimentation wilh legalized small-wale private enterprise in the service veto*.
Cautious reforms of the maiugcrncnt systemduce buieaitcracy. simplify performanceconcenttate central planning on more strategic goab suchologies iand make mote use of prions mcchinrsrns in economic decisions; give more autonomy to factory management to set tome enterprisenegotiate contracts, deploy labor resources, and possibly lo engage in foreignnd give material incentives lo managers and workers to inciease productivity and technological innova-lion.
Modest loosening of condition) for foreignin the Soviet economy.
A mixed policy on tbe cultuial-intellectual front thai seeks to make the spiritual life of the elite and the populace more appealing, whiletquelcning anti-Soviet tendencies
Resource allocation policies largely as they arc loday wilh some tendency to givearger share if growth rates pick up on abasis; more efforts lo develop civilian spinoffs from military technologies.
3G. We believe lhat tbe optionholesale conservative retrenchment in the direction of Stalinist modes of rule isealistic course for tbe present leadership, although some apparatchiks may hanker foreactionary course. Slalin ruled the elite with nearly absolute power He controlled the society through lightly centralized bureaucratic coot rob and fear.ery unlikely lo acquire Stalin-style powers over trie elite, although bo could become the most powerful General Secretary since Stalin. Tbc Sulinbl structure of tbe Soviet system remains intact; but Sulio-styte controls over the population have seriously weakened and to reassert them in the old form would conflict directly wilh the avowed goals of growth and modernization in contemporaryTbe neo-Stalinui optionossibilityater date, however, should other domestic policies fail to improve social conditions, unleash increased turmoil in ihc society, and generate new insecurity In the ruling elite and the population to the point that retention of control overwhelms all other Kremlin goals.
yslemic liberalization is an option in theory. It could involve such steps as
Sharp reductions in ihe powers of centraland management and the introduction of inaikel mechanisms in large portions of the economy.
A thill of resources from defense and heavy industry in the direction of consumption
zation of cultural and intellectual life, and creation of new openings for real populai participation in political affairs of ihe country
n practice this is not an option cither, however much tome elements of the society and elite might desire ileps in this direction. First, those who hold political power would tee such steps as essentially dismantling their capacity to rule and the privileges lhat item from it. Second, tbey will persuasively argue that il would not work, thatrofound change to tbe system would not only disenfranchise the presenl ruling classes, but would produce political chaos, economic collapse, andevolution. Third,ourse would also create fears among ordinary Soviets about maintaining social order and personal securityore liberal political and competitive economic environment.
Some steps along ihc lines of the liberal option might occur, however, not so mucheliberate strategy of the present regime, but rather as responses to new pressures deriving fiom the achievements and failures of the much mete conservative strategy it is likely to puisne- But any such steps are likely to be seen as very lisky by any leaders who are products of the present Soviet system, and be very controversial
More of the content of Gorbachev's dcaTsestic strategy will soon emerge In the proceedings ofh Congress, and it will continue to evolve thereafter. It will very probably bear the stamp of the outlook shared by him and his newly promotedelief that the system can be made to work on the basis of modest reforms, more discipline, and the ski Usore educated and pragmatic leadership cohort.
B. Responses of the System and Society
The evolution of the system and ihe society under the influence of Gorbachev's policies will be shaped by conflicting forces lltat willalance between controls and dynamism bard to strike-
Powerful features of the Soviet system guard against social problems and ameliorative measures getting out of hand and producing severe challenges to that sysiem
A culture of profound political passivitythe society, coupledear of turmoil
and insecurity on the part ol both theand the populationhole.
Tlte existenceind of "social contract" in- regime has delivered personal and social securityodicum of welfare in returnodicum of work and general obedience
A pervasive system of government coot roll over what people do. know, and think.
hese saleguerds are also obstacles in some degree to the el forts of the regime to spur growth and mode miration. Although rroded by heightenedexpectations and reduced system performance, the "social contract" still Inflicts drag on the Soviet system in the form of widespread belief among Soviets that they areecure livelihood in return for indifferentuality of life equal to their fellow ciiother lhan members of the elite, and an absence of risk in social affairs Corbachev has made it clear lhat people must work harderby some yean, if we understand his plansthey get welfare benefits. But the Soviet population has become much less ready to deliver current work effort In exchange for promises of future welfare. The control mechanisms are investedast party, state, and police apparatus thatassiveto Innovation needed for growth andDespiteleas, this apparatus cannot be transformed quicklyeftool from the virtually parasitic aristocracy it became in the lastears All the new cadres must come out of lhat very system. The political passivity of the Soviet culture has areluctance of people to take initiative in collective Innovation from below, on which the modernization goats of tbe system clearly depend.
t the same time the strength of sources for change within tin- system, and llteir potential for urUeashlng turbulence that challenge* Ihe system, should not be Overlooked:
- Ever since the revolution, the party leadership has been the principal engine of social change. Gorbachev plainly intends lo rev it up if be can. There is enough Icfl in the ideology, coupled with Russian nationalism,ense that the System's survival is on the line in the very long term, loetermined quest for economic and social progress from the lop, taking some controlled risks along the way. Large numbers of new leaders and managers are being promoted throughout the party and state structure. Even ihough they come out of the system, theyotential lor generating change bv virtue of better education, pragmatism, and ihe desire lo make their mark while they can
ot of entrepreneurial talent in the diverse, increasingly educated, and urbanized pocHibtion of lhc Soviet Union The second economy is vivid lestiroooy. The capacity for Improvisation amidst prohibitive conditions is great, if incentives are presided.
The population and the elite have already shown themselves tentatively responsive to the summons of the Corbachev leadership for more discipline and bettor work.
The scale of the economy and its accumulated slack give considerable room for near-term growth if the work force can be stimulated and possible advcnitles, such as an oil shortfall, can be avoided.
The regime could provide the requisite eccesornic and political conditions for Western capital and technology to become much moie available and lo provide tlteajor boost.
or the resume, the downside of these factors, including its own capacity for innovation andis lhat they carry some risk of disrupting the control and stabilizing mechanisms of the system if policies fail or. perhaps, succeed too welL Gorbachev's promises and exbeetations could increase popular db-gnintlernent if coioumpfion leveb do nol improve-Even modest management reforms arc likely lo Involve some redistribution of political power in local Soviet affairs and perhaps among central organizations, which could unleash political conflict The industrial oiolem-ization strategy could produce bottlenecks in other parts of the economy. Disciplinary pressures and cadreladieses will lielgbten tension and insecurity within the elite, as they arc sursposed to. but there could be politically consequential backlashes. Wage differen-tiation and, possibly, the threat of unemployment used to motivate workers could easily break the "social contrail" and excite classarge-scale Influx of Western capita] and leelsnology. especially ifby foreign experts and managers, could produce unwanted external Influences on the bureaucracy and in the population.
y most contemporary standards, the Soviet Unionery stahle country. Over the next five
yean, and (or the foreseeable (mure, the Iroublea ot ihe society will nothallenge lo the system of political contiol that guarantees Kremlin rule, noi will they ihieatcn the economv with collapse. But during the rest ofnd well beyond, the domestic
af fain of the USSR will be dominated by the efforts of
the regime to grapple wilh these manifold problems.
which will also have an Influence on Soviet foreign
and national security behavior.
orbachev hasense of movement to the system lhat has had some positive effects on many citizens and officials. His campatgo toand energize tbc Soviet ruling establishment, especially Ihe party and state bureaucracies, is already well advanced and will make further progress over the neat several years Generational turnover in the eble is giving tbeew image of pragmatism,energy, toughness, and somewhat greatersame image thai Corbachev is trying to cultivate personally. He may well be able to achieve an improvement in economic growth rales, at leasthile. If growth does In fact accelerate, this could help stabilize some of the system's social problems
4ft Considerable uncertainty about economicover ihe neit five years, nonetheless, faces the Corbachev regime. Gorbachev's siiategy depends heavily onroductivity boost out of "humanb. increased discipline and motivation in management and tbe work force. The returns on his new Investment stiategy for technological retooling of industry cannot be realized until, even if ihey are successful, which is uncertain. In thethis stralegv heightens the danger of bottlenecks with which the system is already beset For example, there is at least an even chance that falling oil production will cut into domestic and East European supplies, causing severe disruptions beyond theshortfalls in hard currency earnings the oil downturn now portends Corbachev also needs good weather. A. couple of bad harvests could return the Soviet food situation to the poor conditions of tbc
n the longer run. amelioration of those social problems that ate most tightly lunged to the economy and consumption levels depends on the ability of the regime to implement management reforms thaiibe introduction ol new technology throughout the economy. Wc believe the Corbachev regime will move cautiously on management reforms, seeking lo minimize political opposition and ovoid structural disruptions. Iu ability to find ihe tight combination of measures lo increase enterprise Initiative and worker motivation while preserving the essenliab of central planning is uncertain, however. It will find borne out what many in the elite already know: namely, that Ibe things the regime can decide on- such as numegement structure, planning levers and indicators, and pricenot only very hard to implement in practice, but are only pan of Ihe larger obstacles to technological modernization and growth.obstacles to collective Innovation and risk taking, deeply rooted in Soviei culture, will continue lo inhibit technological modernization for years to come, no matter how effective the Gorbachev leadership Is.
ome of ihe social problems of the system, such as the closed-class quality of the ruling elite, spreading attttudinal dissent in tbe form of religious adherence and anti-Russian ruticeraliszn, and youth alienation, are not rooted primarily io economic conditions Tney lie In the nature of Ihe political sysiem. in the spiritual void left by ideology and fading memoriesard but heroic past, and roost basically in the lack of political participation lhat educated populations lend to demand in developing countries. The depth and longevity of these social problems are such that the regime is unlikely to make serious headway in easing them for the next five years. Rather, ihey arc likely to fester and some actually get worse. While ihey are unlikely lo get out of hand, (he piobability Is fairly high that more incidents of civil unrest, such as strikes and worker protests will occur In the USSR even if the economy improves, simply from the uneven impact of improvements.
he course Gorbachev seems most likely to follow will probably, at least in the short run. Increase rather than decrease tensions inside tbeamong economic administrators, the population at large, and the party itself. Managers and workers will be under greater pressure. Uncertainties about such matters as fob security, performance measures, lines of authority, and standards of perrnissibility will increase. Cadre renewal will be accompanied by increased insecurity and tensions within Ihe party-state elite. Corbachev will Iry lo achieve both improved system performance and more of what he is calling social justice by rewarding strong achievers in tbe system, penalizing poor performers, and punishingoperating outside the system. These veryhowever, will increase anxiety among all people in the system and resentment by those who stand to lose. As the regime seeks to define tb policies In tbe yeanill Inevitablyomewhat more fluid environment for the intelligentsia that will lest
boundaries ol official tolerance regarding cultural, economic, and even political issues Setting new limns will spark contioversies nnd heighten tensions with tho intelligentsia. It is precisely these tensions that Ihe leadership is counting on lo move the system out of its lethargy, and the leadership expects lo control them. Rut its ability to manage all the side effects is not certain.
he Soviet system ol rule is optimized for maintaining tight central control over political and economic life. While this system served to drive lhc country through forced-draft indtistriaUzalion in the era of steel and coal, it is highly unsuited to achieving tlie desired pace of technological advances throughout Ihe economy under modern conditions. Unless theeformed in fundamental ways, it will hamper lhc growth its leaders seek because it stifles the innovation on which technolgical and socialdepends. But the liberalization thai would permit and encourage innovation on the scale the system seeks would be unacceptable to the regime because it would Inevitably entail reductions in centralized political power.
he essential dilemma of the Soviet system. How the Soviet leadership will manage this dilemma In the long term Is unclear lo us and to theSoviets themselves We believeursdamental and growing tension between popular aspirations and the systems ability to satisfy them. There is also growing tension between ibeoals for growth and modernization, on the one hand, and theof central controls, on the other. We cannot foresee the time when it could happen, but we do not exclude tho possibility that these tensions couldcoo front the regime wilh challenges that It cannot effectively contain without systemic change and the risks to control that would accompany such change.
IV. Implications for the United Slates
he Sovieiowerful and acquisitive actor on the international scene, using an assertive diplomacy backedombination of military power, propaganda, and subversive ladies to advance its Interests. Its ruling elite, now and for the foreseeable future, sees its mission in history, lb security, and its legitimacy in maximizing iu ability to control political life within and outside Soviet borders. The domestic problems of the USSR are unlikely to alter this quality of ihe Soviet system and the international appetites that spring liom it
he nature of ihe Soviet system gives it strategic persistence and the potential for tactical flexibility in foreign affairs. Increasingly, however, the domestic problems of the system pose some significanton its ability to satisfy its intcrnalionalwith
realities have long since undermined lhc appeal of the Soviet Unionodel for emulation by either advanced or developing societies,ake It very unlikely thbof influence will be restored to Moscow.
odel" for exportormulaelf-appointed dictatorial elite to seize and maintain political power, armedntrust tactics aod Soviet weapons, andin readymade oondilionj of social turmoil Soviet use of thbot directly constrained by Ihe USSR's domestic troubles. But thosemay, in some situations, heighten thedangers involved for tbe Kremlin if it has toistant LeninUt revolution by threatening confrontation with the United States or bysustained, cosily military conflict. The danger is lhat foreign adventuies that are seen by the population to feopardizo national security or cost too much could undeimine rather than add to the legitimacy of Kremlin rule. The war In Afghanistan shows, so far, that Moscow can manage thb danger. But Soviet popular unhappi-ness with thb war Is slowly growing.
Soviet domestic problems have heightened ihe regime's sense of vulnerability to various foreign Influences. In the future, thb perception will actignificant constraint on Moscow'sof conditions for improved East-Westthat Involve opening up Soviet society to greater foreign Influence Thb will lend toSoviet diplomatic leverage to the extent that Western bargaining partners make demands enlarging the degree of contact between the Soviet population and the outside world. The sense of domestic vulnerability will also sustain an edge ot pugnacity and defensivrness on the part of Soviet leaders when human rights and related societal issues are broached. We do not believe, however, that their perceptionroubled internal order wiH itself propel Soviet leaders in tho direction of risky foreignthey would not otherwise contemplate Rather, it will tend to persuade themuccessful foreign policy at lowver more important to their internal credibility.
6 EC IK*
Soviet domestic problems ireconstraint on Soviei capabilities for military tedirioioaucal competition with the Wen. especially with re sped to mas* production ol high-tech oology items Focused weapons tech oology cffoiii al home and acquisition of foreign technology by legal and illegal means will continue toormidableerformance by the USSR in most areas of weaponry. But these efforts are unlikely to keep Soviet military technology fully competitive if the United Slates and its alliesigh level ol commitment to military technology advance in such aieas as SDI, Stealth, unproved nonnuclear munitions, and battle management capability, whichSoviet forces and doctrines severely. To compete effectively in all these areas requires broader modernisation of the Soviet economy and technology base, but achieving thatprobably precludes substantialof Soviet defense efforts in tbe near term
The Soviet economy needs more and better labor. Economic and demographic conditions now clash with historic levels ol militaryIn the USSR. The principal effect here could be tbat the Corbachev regime may be interested in ways to reduce standing military manpower levels somewhat as it searches for economic growth recipes.
he most immediatecation of domestic conditions for Soviet foreign policy Is that tbey have sharply heightened the desire of tbe Corbachevto achieve some restoration o( the atmosphere of detente seen in iheorbachev'sfrom Lenin on, at one lime or arwsther.reathing space on international fronts to help them manage domestic problems while still advancing Soviet International power. Like them. Corbachev wants scene breathing space. As the Soviets see il. restoration ofetente atmosphere in East-West relations, byUS diallenges, would ease the Soviet task of balancing defense, mvestxnenf, and consumptionwhile still allowing Moscow to pursue established foreign policy goab such as weakening US alliances and expanding Soviet influence in the Third World. For now the Soviets da not appear willing to pay any price for this detente that entaib altering their own behavior and goals on security issues of importance to the United Stales. Corhacliev wants hb breathing space on the cheap He fa likely lo maintain this stance until he determines whether bis domestic strategies and foreign policies are working. This may take several years.
ut, if he fails to get either domestic revilabration or an interna bona! breathing space on the cheap,would moat likely opt for tactical accommodation wilh the Unitod Slates in order to gain ihe advantage of economic interaction with the West, facilitating both relief from oousestic economic constraints and continued military modernization At llie same time, the Soviets would continue to pursue greater influence In the Third World and efforts to divide US alliances.
' Tnenr ti on aite-natke raw' -fceW by the Director.gency, and the Aimhief of Staff. Intelligence. Department of tha AWhotdi that the Corbocheo rertmetha adrntoetment of Sir foreign and Uratrgte goeti as iht pitomi desarmmami af. and meruaiuif facte* behind. Soout hthootor ba iherena, not Soviet internal
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