Khrushchev was the most successful leader of Russia

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Nikita Sergeevich Khrushchev was and remains Russia’s most conscientious leader, who correctly identified problems within Russia and the first to initiate fundamental change, which would bring about sustained prosperity and stability within all aspects of Russia. In order to implement this, Khrushchev had either rejected previous policies for their failure or weaknesses to adequately work, in order to replace them with ones more functional at grassroots level, or to first produce policies that would allow initial growth to occur.

It is these policies which have remained fundamental to Russia; though later leaders may have furthered or readjusted them, their initial purpose remained at the core of many later policies.

Reforms were intended to produce an improvement in all elements of Russia’s state functioning collectively; with the intension of such policies providing the groundwork for their further development by later leaders and this is precisely what is noticed in succeeding offices, which saw an elaboration of certain elements of Khrushchev’s initial policies.

It is these initial policies which laid the basis for further reform, which allow me to deem Khrushchev the most successful leader; as it was reformations implemented on his behalf, which provided the framework for further sustained successful development. An example of Khrushchev’s rejection of previous policies to function sufficiently and replace them with adequate ones, is the 20th party conference in 1956. Khrushchev spoke of a “new political thinking”, in which he made visible, that previous attempts to successfully implement “socialism” were ineffective.

If Russia was to transgress from its current position – economic, political and social instability – it had to part with former ways in order to accomplish this.

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Khrushchev acknowledged that transgression to economic and social prosperity had to come at a price. Khrushchev largely knew that the Russian political spectrum had been manufactured and dictated by the sole decisions-making of one individual: Stalin. As A. J. P. Taylor writes: “Stalin alone made every great decision… [2] Russia’s stagnation was confound, to the political momentum in which Stalin was the sole instigator.

The concept of Stalinisation was one in which all elements of Russian diplomatic and civil expression where entranced in absolute totalitarian control by one man. Transgression in any direction was indentured, by that individuals own perception of development – be it even if it was or wasn’t justifiable or applicable; as-long as they deemed it just.

As Khrushchev stated at the 20th party conference: “Stalin acted not through persuasion… nd cooperation with people, but by… demanding absolute submission to his opinion. ”[3] It is therefore to no surprise, that the implementation of de-Stalinisation was pivotal in permitting development in Russia. De-Stalinisation was a political tool which permitted the political domain of Russia to freely express new political initiatives, without being restricted by fear of opposing the totalitarian regime. The infrastructure was not reformed by this process, rather re-opened: it was now liable to change.

It is this fundamental principle which became immensely pivotal for the development of Russia. De-Stalinisation fragmented previous policies which were deem unbeneficial, so their reconstruction for a more prosperous one – in which sustained abrupt industrial, agricultural, civil and diplomatic advances where sufficiently developed and maintained- could be achieved. The rejection of previous failings is an intellectual concept pioneered by Khrushchev and adopted by every successor of his; for its practical advantages.

It allowed the person in power to reform certain elements of the state; by initially focusing of on the weaknesses of the current system, than providing an alternative structure, which was in direct comparison to the sole failures of the previous one, obviously superior – though whether or not these advantages where correctly comprehended by such individuals, is a different matter all together. [4] The “thaw” was the first attempt by a communist leader, to alleviate tensions between ideological and social demands, with John Keen claims: “His [Khrushchev’s] greatest accomplishment was to end the reign of fear… [5]

Such policies are testimony of Khrushchev’s implementation of combating Long-term problems confronting Russia, as Khrushchev claimed: “we must help people to… live well. You cannot put theory into your soup or Marxism into your clothes. ”[6] The “thaw” was a reformation of the ideological constraints, that communism had previously put on the Russian people. Previous rule restricted the development of civil reform: working conditions and general civil liberty remained severely undeveloped.

The constant shrift between restricted and relaxed censorship was a long-term problem persistent throughout Russian history. Previous attempts of totalitarian rule had proved to be of little benefit to the state; in certain instances it furthered dissidents towards the government by the populace. As repression of censorship was bound to frustrate the Russian people, who were continuously placed in direct comparison with the west, yet in reality societal functioning differed greatly between the two: especially in terms of freedoms.

What we see here, is Khrushchev’s realisation that reformation of any aspect of Russia, goes hand-in-hand with each other. It is of little significance if industrial reforms take place for economic growth, if social reforms which accommodate those who take on such policies are poor: one is bound to affect the other, as they are not of equal standards. Such tactics are similar to that of Witte and Stolypin; who both saw economic growth accompanied by social reform.

We see here Khrushchev being the first (within communism), to create the basis for civil reformation; in order for it to accompany other reforms, which go hand-in-hand with overall prosperity. Therefore Vladimir Putin, who indicates a return to authoritarian rule, whereby media production is censored and suppression of regional provinces (such as Dagestan and Chechnya’s) right to self-governing bodies, may indicate a leadership were comprehension of the consequences of totalitarian rule verses increased civil liberty, are not correctly identified.

As Sakwa states, Putin’s Russian society is characteristic of a centralised “Soviet-style bureaucracy”: similar to Stalin. [7] However, a conclusion on Putin’s office is not comprehensive, as his government remains; still reforming elements of society. The “thaw” is a clear demonstration of the importance of state prosperity (economic growth), being interlinked with general reforms. The sole expansion of one aspect of the state (e. g. the economy), cannot adequately develop, as the overall environment of the state would still be lacking behind.

These general reforms can be seen as the long-term problems of Russia: agricultural and social reforms. The major mistake of leaders is to solely focus on the economic aspect of Russia, while ignoring the possible social elements; consequently drifting attention away from the ameliorated conditions of one aspect, to poorer ones. This is precisely what Khrushchev – along with Witte and Stolypin – emphasised; if all aspects of Russia are not reformed equally, disdain for a condition which is improved, is displaced onto another condition that is less developed: consequently leading to possible anarchy.

These persistent long-term problems had to be assessed equally with other pivotal reforms, in order for the state to progress; this is apparent in the rule of Nicholas II. Industrial growth was prioritised, with industrial output increasing from 810 in 1908, to 1165 in 1913; showing signs of stability. [8] Yet what remained prominent, was the fundamental issue of poor social conditions. [9] Consequently leading to upheaval and opposition: such as the Lena Goldfields Massacre (1912) and Bloody Sunday (1905).

These were all expressions of discontent with the conditions at hand. [10] These matters were further ignored, to point were upheaval against poor conditions was common place in 1917; which saw the Petrograd protest leading to a string of events, that brought about the collapse of the Tsar. [11] Khrushchev’s point is further empathised here; possibly the Tsarist regime would have been better equipped, if it had improved such persisting issues equally: continuity of industrial, agriculture and social development.

Historians Koenker and Von Laue concur with this view, claiming that Nicholas’ incompetence in meeting social and industrial demands, further intensified the already fragile situation. [12] If long-term matters were equally addressed, possibly the collapse of the tsarist regime could have been prevented. The tenure of Khrushchev saw the greatest attempt at reforming the economic system, into one which would pose the most benefit: such are the policies of democratisation and decentralisation. [13] Such policies were compelled by mid-1957.

Between 1954-55 approximately 11,000 enterprises moved from central to independent control, May 1955 major planning and financial decisions were removed from state Moscow control, to republican hold: Russia had become decentralised. [14] Proportions of industry were also subject to the effects of decentralisation; with Moscow-based ministries replaced with sovnarkhozy: independent organisations, free to regulate industrial activity within their provenance. In turn, greater autonomy was given to the industrial spectrum.

The purposes of these policies were not to transform the economic structure into a western one, but rather allow beneficial advancements to be made. Prior to Khrushchev, the economic system created by Stalin, meant that the majority of state revenue was derived from the exportation of grain and with state farms operating at a loss, an alternative was “necessary. ”[15] Yet the economic system was so entrenched in collectivisation, that no other alternative was deemed possible. Decentralisation and democratisation were proposed alternatives by Khrushchev.

These policies provided Russia with the basis for possible further economic reform: it initially reopened the economic system, by making it more flexibly in areas of production and management. The fact that Khrushchev’s relatively short tenure did not permit sustained development of the vast amount of his policies, may indicate why these policies did not produce substantial industrial growth initially. Rather if time was permitted, these policies could have been further developed and produced possible growth.

Thus if Brezhnev’s tenure had experienced prosperity at the beginning of his office, it may be due to an elaboration of Khrushchev’s policies; with later stagnation resulting from a reversal of these policies. Statistics show an initial increase in production: such as iron output increasing by 56 percent during 1965-75 and then decreasing to less than 7 percent from 1975-85. [16] Furthered by Brezhnev’s later crippled economic output, prior industrial growth stagnated in 1970-80, falling to less than 2. 6 percent. Similarly the Soviet Union’s GNP had fallen from 5. 2 percent in 1970, to 2. percent in 1980. [17]

It appears that the effects of decentralisation were beneficial and a reversal of such policies would therefore counter-track production: which is seen under the centralised economy of Brezhnev. [18] The fact that Khrushchev’s policies were contributing to industrial growth, was an indicator of its successfulness. Therefore what was the necessity of their reversal? Thereby allowing us to stratify Brezhnev’s tenure into two categories: continuity of success – due to the Khrushchev era – and poor economic leadership by Brezhnev; causing further economic stagnation.

Likewise, Stalin’s Collectivisation process had failed to produce an economic structure of continuity, with state farms operating at a loss, since procurement prices which were set by the state, had hardly been increased since 1928. [19] Stalin was indeed conscious of this, stating to the party that they had become “dizzy with success”; however no economic alternative was proposed. [20] If centralisation proved economically ineffective, why were decision not taken to alter the cause of direction – similar to Khrushchev? Perhaps these are largely signs of a poor economic leadership, on behalf of Brezhnev and Stalin.

Gorbachev’s office shows that Khrushchev’s policies were later adopted and furthered by his successors. Though these policies were not initially adopted, when Gorbachev acknowledged that the state was in a point of crisis, these policies were then re-implemented. This initial misconception, is seen in Gorbachev’s foremost policies, which akin to the predecessors of Khrushchev, perceived stability solely through economic expansion; as he stated in the Central Committee meeting: economic growth was “the key to all our problems… [21]

Though unaware that economic growth demanded general reformation, expected growth bore no noticeable gain and thus lead Gorbachev to recognise the necessity of Khrushchev’s earlier policies; that general reform accompanied economic expansion. Therefore the later office of Gorbachev saw a continuity and elaboration of Khrushchev’s primary policies. He re- engaged in the process of denunciation, stating at the 27th Party Congress: “readjustment of the economic mechanisms begins with a rejection… Peaceful co-existence was revisited; seen in the agreement with the US, to destroy intermediate-range nuclear weapons and the approval of the dismantling of the Berlin wall.

Moreover, the civil and economic reforms of glasnost and perestroika, were but a build up of Khrushchev’s initial policies of reforming communism and decentralisation. Though McCauley argues Gorbachev’s reforms were pivotal to the creation of a civil state, the question is whether these policies would have been perused, if Khrushchev would have not laid the framework for their development?

Likewise to Gorbachev’s initial perspective, Yeltsin perceived stability to be through economic might. [22] Yeltsin provided state initiatives (vouchers), with the purpose of creating a new entrepreneurial class (oligarchs), which would increase privately owned corporations; in turn pose similar benefits as Kulaks. Such a class would evolve into the dominant force to allow the economic structure of Russia to transform to one similar to western lines; as Yeltsin stated: the vouchers were “a short ticket… to the free market. The oligarchs creation, meant the majority of the state’s economic resources were tied within the oligarchs; yet they redirected their own resources in international investments, rather than Russia’s. The result was a misjudgement of the oligarchs function, as they produce no abrupt economic growth as hoped. Rather they stimulated the growth of a corrupt black market. Though these policies were unsuccessful, the fact remains that the previous failing economic structure was redeveloped to the point, were transgression to a new system which could be further developed, was conceivable.

An identical question to Gorbachev is posed: would any change have been permitted, if Khrushchev did not lay the foundation for their development, as they were continuations of Khrushchev’s decentralisation policies? T. A. Morris and Alan Wood, hold a conventional view that soviet agricultural growth was the consequence of Stalin, though such a perceptive can be challenged [23] Khrushchev’s initial policies of “Thaw” fragmented the Russian infrastructure, thus allowing reformation to take form: in this context, agriculture.

During the near end of the Stalinist era, collective farms were operating at a substantial loss; agricultural functioning was in need of redevelopment. [24] Khrushchev’s methods of agricultural melioration were not merely intended for economic gain; they posed the first signs of agricultural and social advances. Taxes and compulsory state quotas was reduced, private plot was reintroduced, wages amounted, surplus labour was rewarded not demanded and Stalin’s practically insufficient “collective farms”, were lessened of their power. 25] Such policies were furthered by the 1954 Virgin Lands Scheme: its primary concern being the pre-occupation of uncultivated lands within the state. [26]

Between 1954-60, 41. 8million hectares of “virgin land” had been ploughed. [27] Agricultural production was officially augmented by 3 per cent in 1954, with state procurement of grain rising by 50 per cent annually during 1954-63: predominantly from the virgin lands scheme. 28] The significance is thus, agricultural production may not have experienced a boom like that of Stalin’s, yet for the first time in soviet history, it did not stagnate nor fluctuate: it stabilised throughout the whole of Khrushchev’s tenure – largely unparalleled with pervious or later leaders Stalin had told party delegates of “a new policy of eliminating the Kulaks… ” as they were perceived to be the reason for Russia’s agricultural Laxness. [29] It is these actions, which form the basis for Khrushchev’s argument in the de-Stalinisation speech.

Were the Kulaks not of economical benefit, during and before the tenure of Stalin? The primary creation of the Kulaks by Stolypin, was for economic growth. [30] Khrushchev’s criticism was not on the idea of producing grain on a grand scale to export for an economic capital, in turn redirecting the capital to industrial expansion, rather the way it was implemented. Was it utterly “necessary”, to liquidate the most prosperous and agriculturally beneficial class in Russia? Where there no other alternatives, which would show the same output as collectivisation and yet keep this class?

The Virgin Lands Scheme was the alternative solution pioneered by Khrushchev, yet the alternative agricultural strategy was always available. Collectivisation under Stalin, involved the mass consolidation of grain; under state control. In order to hasten the rate of state grain procurement, forceful measures had to be implemented; involving the genocide of Russia’s most prized agricultural labourers: Kulaks. The Virgin Lands Scheme removed the need for state interference in order to raise state grain procurement.

The necessity of collectivisation is once again questioned, with Getty viewing it as a necessity and those such as Perry, believing it to be “a tragedy for Russia… ”[32] Khrushchev was once again at the forefront of deconstructing inadequate policies, in order to replace them with ones more beneficial; thereby allowing these newer policies to be of greater economic advantage, as they remove the weaknesses of previous policies (i. e. annihilation of the Kulaks). If Stalin’s own direct predecessor acknowledged such a scheme prior to taking the post of general secretary, why didn’t Stalin?

Its benefits are evident: grain production would have increased and without the removal of the Kulaks, it could have further stimulated production. This could rather be a sign of – not only Stalin’s but – all Russian leaders’ ignorance, of Russia’s own economic and agricultural potential. Does not the fact that Khrushchev clearly realised this, indicate his superior economic strategising and leadership? The creations of Khrushchev’s policies of Detente and Peaceful co-existence, steamed from Khrushchev’s tenure into that of every succeeding leader: for the sheer benefits which these policies brought.

Prior to Khrushchev, poor foreign relations between Russia, the west and America, confound Russia in continuous international conflicts; bringing a halt to economic and social development of the state. We only have to examine the predecessors of Khrushchev to understand this. Within the tenure of Lenin, social stability was prevented, as the state remained in constant battle with international forces, consequently bring about civil war. Moreover, John Griggs states, Lenin’s government never saw effective attempts at ameliorating the state’s improvised economic situation. The fact remains, that involvement in war prohibited development.

A state in international conflict had to redirect its resources, from industrial expansion and/or social development, to defence departments; Stalin’s tenure is testimony to this. Though at the beginning priority was given to economic matters, during the later part (1939 onwards), all economic resources were redirected into military expansion and development, in preparation for war. Furthermore, tensions between the USSR and other western democratises during the office of Stalin, became so ripe it lead to the greater development of the Cold War.

As Churchill claimed: “an iron curtain” was drawn between the USSR and the rest of the world. 33] It’s the removal of this “iron curtain” which remained fundamental to Khrushchev’s foreign policies: constant poor international relations had prohibited positive development in the USSR and if such relations continued, the Cold War itself would evolve into one that would bring the same demise as previous wars. Khrushchev installed Detente and peaceful co-existence, because of its necessity; Russia could not continue nor economically afford perpetual involvement in War. Thus leading to relations with America, Europe and even China, being reaffirmed – rather in the case of China, begin development on a positive note.

Consequently In 1963, after a bad harvest, grain was imported from America – later becoming a regular occurrence and feature of the improved Soviet-US relationship. [35] However, this is not to say that the Soviet Union was not subject to international tensions: like the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. [36] It can be argued that the Crisis was a contradiction of Khrushchev’s policies of Peaceful co-existence, as is posed the possible outbreak of nuclear war and an increase in international tensions. However, attention should be drawn to the outcome of the matter.

After an initial warning by President Kennedy, Khrushchev agreed on the removal of nuclear missiles within Cuba and a S. A. L. T. [37] What is seen here is a pursuit for international peace, rather than an expansion on nuclear defences; which would prevent a similar occurrence in the future. Khrushchev’s development of positive foreign policies – or rather his approach as a peace maker – are what gave Russia the framework to remain a superpower and allow development to occur; as if these policies were not initiated, the USSR would have seen a continuity in war which would have brought her to her knee’s sooner, rather than later.

What does not allow us to solely focus on the tenure of Khrushchev to draw a comprehensive conclusion, is the relatively short period he remained in office. What remains problematic is the fact that policies which Khrushchev had implemented, were merely initiated in his tenure and developed in the that of others, and those that remained underdeveloped (such as the Virgin Lands Scheme), is the consequence of the lack of time, which Khrushchev had to firmly implement them.

Moreover, Khrushchev’s policies did not cease at the end of his tenure, but were further developed in that of his successors. Examination of later economic, diplomatic and civil reformations by latter leaders, shows evidence of Khrushchev policies being further developed, not abandoned, in order to bring about change or maintenance of an aspect of Russia. Nowhere is this more evident, than in the tenure of Gorbachev; which saw an utter elaboration of Khrushchev’s economic and civil policies.

I believe the continuity of the vast amount of Khrushchev’s policies into the office of later leaders, as self acclaimed success: they were adopted by leaders not because there was no alternative, rather because they were necessary policies. Therefore the one who first initiated these policies (Khrushchev), allows me to deem them, the most successful leader during 1905 -2005.

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Khrushchev was the most successful leader of Russia
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