Book: The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy

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The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy

Chris Miller, associate director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy

(University of North Carolina Press)

In “The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy,” Chris Miller shows that Mikhail Gorbachev and his allies tried to learn from the great success story of transitions from socialism to capitalism, Deng Xiaoping’s China. He explores the question of why efforts to revitalize Soviet socialism were so much less successful than in China.

Making use of never-before-studied documents from the Soviet politburo and other archives, Miller argues that the difference between the Soviet Union and China — and the ultimate cause of the Soviet collapse — was not economics but politics. The Soviet government was divided by bitter conflict, and Gorbachev, the ostensible Soviet autocrat, was unable to outmaneuver the interest groups that were threatened by his economic reforms. Miller’s analysis settles long-standing debates about the politics and economics of perestroika, transforming our understanding of the causes of the Soviet Union’s rapid demise.

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