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Brezhnevism The Brezhnev era was later dubbed the "period of stagnation." as we all know, but that does not mean that there was no economic growth under that leader. On the contrary, there was considerable develop­ment, especially in the first half of his reign. The So­viet Union was regularly beating the most advanced countries of the world in terms of annual growth rate. Between 1964 and 1981, production of steel in the Soviet Union increased from 85 million tonnes to 149 million, topping US output. Coal output beat the American production of 500 million tonnes a year by half as much again. In fifteen years, the Soviet Union doubled its oil production, becoming the world's larg­est producer of oil. There were similar developments in the other sectors,

even in agriculture, where in­creased investment and higher prices of agricultural produce introduced by the 1965 Central Committee plenum made the Soviet Union the world's biggest producer of wheat. But all these beautiful figures were made meaning­less by the simple fact that the share of consumer goods in the overall production was constantly falling. That meant that the system favored production for production's sake, its capacity either channeled into the military sphere or simply wasted through the sys­tem's internal defects like poor organization, lack of incentives for the workers, rejection of scientific and technological innovations, etc. All those silly pochins and "socialist competitions" could not obstruct the inexorable working of economic

laws: No consumer goods - no money for the budget - no investment -no progress or growth - inevitable crisis as demand for consumer goods grows and supply shrinks. Apart from crises, the Soviet economy produced even more inflammable material - the Soviet intelli­gentsia. The Party's avowed goal was still the Khrushchevian motto - to catch up with the West in every sphere of "material and spiritual production." and this could not be achieved without major break­throughs in science and education. So in the years of Brezhnevite "stagnation." the number of people with a higher education more than doubled. The swelling intelligentsia formed, in fact, a new class that bitterly resented its designation in the official ideology as a prosloika, a rather

derogatory term meaning something like a "thin layer between two masses", the masses in question being the urban and rural workers. ^ It was, of course, more than the mere designation that the intelligentsia resented. First, it was only too well aware that it was grossly underpaid, getting a mere fraction of what their counterparts in the West were earning. Speaking for oneself, I was one of the very few best paid. top professional translators in Moscow doing translations from Russian into English for about a dozen publishing houses, but I calculated that I was being paid roughly the sum that a typist in the United States was getting, page per page. And I lived about ten times better than some m.n.s. or miadshiy nauchnyi sotrudnik "junior research fellow"

getting 105 rubles a month (the trouble of course was that one couldn't correlate this sum with any known currency, as the official $1=64 kopecks rate was patently something from beyond the looking-glass). Second, the nature of the intelligentsia's occupa­tions made it keenly sensitive to the prevailing strin­gent curbs on the freedom of intellectual pursuits, es­pecially in the humanities, where any deviation, real or imaginary, from neo-Stalinist ideological dogma was punished swiftly and ruthlessly. That was why most talented people went into the natural sciences or mathematics, where they could be as free-thinking as they wished in their quest for eternal truths. This elicited a couple of puzzled lines from the Soviet poet Boris Slutsky, which instantly became