Soviet Economics as a Cold War Science: the Kosygin Reforms in International Context 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 Bushuis E101E
Dr. Yakov Feygin (Harvard)
The 1965 “Kosygin Reforms,” an attempt to decentralize the Soviet economy and increase the priority of “profitability” has been a black box in the post-war Soviet history with some writers claiming it was a lost chance to launch “Perestroika” before the USSR’s economy had fully eroded in the 1970s while others see it as just more proof of the unreformability of the Soviet system. This paper is the first to address the formation and the drafting of the reforms using archival sources and evaluate the motivations of the various interest groups that tried to shape its direction. It argues that to understand the politics of the Kosygin Reforms and to evaluate their success, one needs to place its initiatives into the larger story of how Soviet economics and elites adopted a “Cold War” paradigm for judging the success of socialism in terms of prosperity and “catching up and overtaking” the United States in particular. As such, it shows that debates over what the Soviet economic institutions as part-in-parcel of a larger conversation about Soviet socialism’s relationship to the capitalist order of “Pax-Americana.”
Yakov Feygin is a historian of modern Russia and of Feygininternational history with particular interests in the history of economic thought, growth, financial globalization, and international organizations. He holds a Ph.D. (2017) in History from the University of Pennsylvania. His forthcoming monograph examines how the Cold War changed the Soviet ideological project and triggered debates between institutions and their attendant intellectuals over the future of the planned economy which ultimately undermined the ideological doctrines and fiscal mechanisms that underpinned the Soviet state. He is also working on a research project on the debates over the role of financial globalization and state economic planning in international organizations and economics departments from the 1920s to the 1980s. His research was supported by the Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) program, the Institute for New Economic Thinking, the Joint Center for History and Economics, and the Teece and Benjamin Franklin Research Fellowships at the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to his academic research, he is the managing editor of the Private Debt Project.

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