The Struggle of the Soviet Conception of Comecon, 1953–1975
The article examines Soviet eforts between 9 and 97 to develop reform concepts for the Comecon. During the Stalinist era, the Soviet Union began exercising strong control in East Central and Southeast Europe. This control also signiicantly impacted the nature of cooperation. But cooperation at this time was not a priority; it only became a priority after Stalin’s death, at which time the Soviet Union began developing its own concept of economic cooperation for the Eastern Bloc. Khrushchev wanted cooperation to have a scientiic foundation. Based on “objective laws” of economic development, each country should be encouraged to specialize in diferent economic sectors, as part of an overarching plan for the economic development of the CMEA area. Like his Sovnarkhoz reforms, Khrushchev based this plan on the ideal Communist man, who in realty did not exist. The plan proved unsuccessful at the international and regional level for two reasons. First, the Soviet Union failed to establish a centralized rational planning process for the entire Eastern Bloc. Second, the Soviet Union could not prevent the resurgence of policies based on national interests. Following Khrushchev’s failed efort at reforming Comecon, Brezhnev adopted a more conservative approach, aimed primarily at increasing the efectiveness of Soviet trade relations in the CMEA. These approaches were also inluenced by reform eforts at the national level against the backdrop of the Liberman Debate.