Nureev, R. M., & Orekhovsky, P. A. (2021). Debates around the Basic Production Relationship in Political Economy of Socialism: The Cognitive Deadlock in the 1970s. Zhurnal Economicheskoj teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 18(2), 185-196. https://doi.org/10.31063/2073-6517/2021.18-2.2
The 1970s in the USSR saw a rapid transformation in socio-economic relationships and foreign policy. However, the political economy of socialism that underpinned Soviet economics remained unchanged. In retrospective, the debates of Soviet political economists may seem like entirely scholastic but they, nevertheless, had some practical implications, causing the rise and fall of some renowned scholars. This study uses discourse analysis methods to shed light on the key strands of collective thought in Soviet political economy. In the 1970s, the political economy of socialism found itself trapped in a cognitive deadlock, which, on the one hand, led to the reproduction of the more and more sophisticated Marxist ideologemes and, on the other, opened new possibilities of movement towards ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’. This article focuses on the debates around the ‘main relation of production’ — public property. It is shown that Soviet political economists failed to identify the specificity of this relation with regard to the actually existing socialism. This happened not because of the political pressure or persecutions but because of the collective cognitive structure, within which the debates were conducted and self-censoring was taking place.