Daniel Sargent / History 186 / Lecture 10 – The Cold War and Decolonization

Nikitia Krushchev inspects a cow in Beltsville, Maryland, 1959. Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson and U. S. Ambassador to the United Nations Henry Cabot Lodge look on.

Last lecture covered the capitalist world in the era of managed/Keynesian capitalismm from WW2 through late 1960s. Today, we will cover the socialist world. Will not include China, but Soviet Union and East European allies.

How was growth produced in the Eastern Bloc? 1953, Stalin dies. New phase.

But what was the Soviet Union like under Stalin? Power resided in Stalin. Secret police. Terrorized even the elite. Purges. Antisemetic purges. “Doctor’s plot” 1952, paranoia vs. conspiracy of Jewish doctors.

After Stalin, Malenkov, Krushchev becomes dominant figure. Begins dismantling gulag. Who was Krushchev? Believed socialist dogma, and Communism. 1st and only reformer of the Soviet Union. Stalin de-escalated repression during WW2, then re-escalated afterward. February 1956, Krushchev delivers “The Secret Speech” to party elite. Denounces crimes and excesses of Stalin, 3 years after Stalin’s death. Does not denounce Lenin/Marx. Krushchev boasted Soviet Union would achieve Communism and surpass west by 1970. Krushchev changed from 1930s, 40s heavy industries to light consumer goods, following Malenkov. Krushchev wanted to expand agricultural production, but treat peasants better than Stalin’s collectivization. “New Lands” program fails because production is not incentivized enough. School cost down. Prestige programs, Soviet space program. 1957, 1st artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. Metal ball, beeps. Americans can listen to the beep on transistor radio. Launch Laika the dog, causing international protest. 1959, moon landing, unmanned. 1966, first moon orbit. 1968/9, United States lands 1st man on moon. Neal Armstrong.

Krushchev’s legacy for Eastern Europe? WW2 ravages underdeveloped Eastern Europe. Most dramatic ant-Soviet protest, 1956, in Hungary, students demand Hungary leave Warsaw Pact, the treaty binding together eight communist Eastern European states during cold war. Regime response? Reformer becomes Prime Minister, tries to co-opt. Krushchev sends Red Army to Budapest, violently puts down revolution. Then, implements “goulash communism.” Dissent cannot be suppressed by force alone. Why does Soviet production trail off? Command economy efficiency/innovation problems. Refrigerator example. Soviet State-sponsored manufacturers given production quotas, by weight. Resulting in heavy refrigerators.


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