"The opening of the once secret Soviet state and party archives in the early 1990s was an event of profound significance," writes Hoover visiting fellow Paul R. Gregory in his preface to Behind the Façade of Stalin's Command Economy: Evidence from the Soviet State and Party Archives (Hoover Press, 2001). "Western scholars, who previously used Kremlinology to penetrate the official wall of secrecy, could now use the same documents as had Soviet leaders in earlier periods."
Although the resulting archive-based research on that period has been considerable during the past five years, Behind the Façade of Stalin's Command Economy sheds light on one of the less researched topics: the economics of the Stalin system. This collection of writings is an important addition to the scholarship on the Soviet past as well as a crucial key to Russia's evolving future. Today, as Gregory notes, the old Stalinist command economy, which still holds considerable emotional appeal, continues to plague Russia's transition to a market economy.
"Voices are already being raised claiming that the Soviet command economy was sound but it was run by the wrong people, who made the wrong decisions," warns Gregory. "The archives give us a real opportunity to examine such propositions."
Behind the Façade of Stalin's Command Economy brings together prominent scholars from Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom--most of whom have worked with these archives since they were opened--examine in detail such topics as the economics of the gulag, the management of military innovation, the specifics of defense budgets, the rule of law, Stalin's handwritten margin comments on planning documents, internal Politburo discussions, as well as other areas whose coverage could not have been imagined twenty years ago.
Paul R. Gregory is a distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and is the Cullen Chair of Economics at the University of Houston. He was the coordinator of the Russian Petroleum Legislation Project funded by the World Bank and major international energy corporations, served as an economic adviser to the government of Ukraine, was a visiting professor at Moscow University and the Free University of Berlin, and is currently a research professor at the German Institute for Economic Research (Berlin). He has been active in the former Soviet Union for more than twenty-five years.
The Hoover Institution, founded at Stanford University in 1919 by Herbert Hoover, who went on to become the 31st president of the United States, is an interdisciplinary research center for advanced study on domestic and international affairs.