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Guns and Rubles

Guns and Rubles: The Defense Industry in the Stalinist State

Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Guns and Rubles
    Book Description:

    For this book a distinguished team of economists and historians-R. W. Davies, Paul R. Gregory, Andrei Markevich, Mikhail Mukhin, Andrei Sokolov, and Mark Harrison-scoured formerly closed Soviet archives to discover how Stalin used rubles to make guns. Focusing on various aspects of the defense industry, a top-secret branch of the Soviet economy, the volume's contributors uncover new information on the inner workings of Stalin's dictatorship, military and economic planning, and the industrial organization of the Soviet economy.

    Previously unknown details about Stalin's command system come to light, as do fascinating insights into the relations between Soviet public and private interests. The authors show that defense was at the core of Stalin's system of rule; single-minded management of the defense sector helped him keep his grip on power.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-15170-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)

    The collapse of Soviet-style communism suggests that it had little to recommend itself. At its peak, one-third of the world’s population lived in countries claiming to be communist or part of the “socialist world.” Now trivial numbers of people live in the communist hold-out states of Cuba and North Korea. Although there appears to be an upsurge in leftist ideology in Latin America, no national leaders are proposing to create a Soviet-style economic or political system.

    We still have to come to terms with what appears to be the greatest achievement of the administrative-command system—the victory of the relatively...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-xx)
  6. Abbreviations, Acronyms, Technical Terms, and Conventions
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  7. Note on References
    (pp. xxv-xxvi)
  8. 1 The Dictator and Defense
    (pp. 1-30)

    Why did Stalin spend as much as he did on defense? Given their cost, why did he want a big army or large specialized defense industries? At first sight these questions seem too trivial to deserve much thought. There are several obvious answers. The trouble is that the answers that are obvious are not necessarily consistent, and none provides a satisfying explanation of the stylized facts of Soviet military-economic development.

    The economic and historical literatures on this subject offer several different explanations of Soviet policies with regard to defense, which I will summarize under three headings:

    Soviet Defense Against External...

  9. 2 Before Stalinism: The Early 1920s
    (pp. 31-49)

    In this chapter I will consider, first, the influence of historical continuity on Soviet military doctrine and military-industrial production. Specifically, what were the legacies of Tsarism, the events of World War I, the establishment of the Bolshevik dictatorship, and the civil war that led to Soviet Russia’s isolation in the international arena? Second, how did the defense industry adapt to market conditions under the New Economic Policy (NEP), and how did plan and market interact? This question has obvious importance for Russia today as it devises a military-industrial policy based on market relations between government, state-owned enterprises, and the private...

  10. 3 Hierarchies and Markets: The Defense Industry Under Stalin
    (pp. 50-77)

    The defense industry was one of the most important components of Stalin’s military, economic, and political system. Its military significance is suggested by the fact that Soviet defense factories outproduced Germany in World War II and rivaled those of the United States for the next half century. Table 3.1 gives an idea of some bare numbers. These show, for example, that in the peacetime decade before World War II the Soviet aviation industry produced more than 4,000 aircraft per year. In wartime the rate went up to nearly 30,000 a year on average; it goes without saying that the metallic...

  11. 4 Planning the Supply of Weapons: The 1930s
    (pp. 78-117)

    In the twentieth century the waging of war rested on economic foundations. Armies in battle required weapons, ammunition, uniforms, and food rations. Planning for war, whether for attack or defense, was inconceivable without accounting for resources. This chapter reviews the Soviet way of planning the economic aspect of warfare that was laid down at the end of the 1920s and the 1930s following the abandonment of a mixed economy and the transition to forced industrialization.

    As a rule, scholars have tended to analyze the working arrangements of the Soviet civil and military agencies separately. The recent opening of the archives...

  12. 5 Planning for Mobilization: The 1930s
    (pp. 118-155)
    R. W. DAVIES

    Mobilization planning involved the preparation of the economy for the event of a future war that was widely anticipated but might or might not be launched from any particular direction at any particular moment. The first part of this chapter describes the emergence of the mobilization system in the inter-war years: Future mobilization needs had to struggle for priority over the current needs of defense and industrialization. The second part examines the results of the mobilization plans in practice as they affected major aspects of the economy: the armaments industries, the civilian sector, the localities, and the workforce.

    During the...

  13. 6 The Soviet Market for Weapons
    (pp. 156-179)

    We introduced Chapter 3 by noting that, in all countries, markets for military goods work poorly. This is to a large extent independent of the constitution of the state and the social and economic system. In all countries, whether ownership is private or collective, and whether rulers are democratic or authoritarian, the agents on each side of the defense market are powerful and well connected. On one side a senior minister manages a government monopsony: there is only one significant customer for such items as heavy artillery, aircraft, and battleships. On the other side is a charmed circle of big...

  14. 7 The Market for Labor in the 1930s: The Aircraft Industry
    (pp. 180-209)

    In the 1920s aircraft manufacture was everywhere a cottage industry dominated by artisan methods of small-scale manufacture. The Soviet industry had an annual capacity to produce aircraft and engines in the low hundreds. In the next decade this industry was the subject of two sharply opposing pressures. Both emanated from the leaders of the government and the industry, who wanted two things at once. On one side they demanded the enhancement of technology, rising levels of skills and qualifications, the growth of productivity and efficiency in the use of resources, and improved adherence to enhanced standards. In the mid-thirties the...

  15. 8 The Market for Inventions: Experimental Aircraft Engines
    (pp. 210-229)

    The second quarter of the twentieth century witnessed an astonishing revolution in military technology. World War I saw the beginnings of motorized warfare; aircraft were used in combat and the first tanks appeared. By the end of World War II they were the primary armament of continental warfare. The interwar period also saw the scientific breakthroughs that would eventually lead to radar, guided missiles, and atomic weapons.

    The Soviet economy was large but poor, and it was particularly poor in the scientific and information infrastructure that made the other powers rich. Despite this, the Soviet defense industry was invariably close...

  16. 9 Secrecy
    (pp. 230-254)

    All governments have secrets but some are more secretive than others. In modern democracies public debate often takes the merits of transparent government and an open society for granted. But even in societies where transparency and freedom of information are officially the norm, there is always a core of government where information is gathered and decisions are taken in secret. There are also states where most things are secret. The Soviet state was of the latter type, and was among the most secretive states that have ever existed. Many things were kept secret that in most other societies would be...

  17. Afterword
    (pp. 255-260)

    In this book we have looked at some issues of Soviet defense and the defense industry under Stalin, using simple tools of historical economics and political economy. What have we learned?

    Defense issues were at the core of Stalin’s dictatorship(Chapters 1 and 2). We cannot understand how Stalin’s dictatorship came into being, and how he ruled, unless we take into account the active role played by military and military-industrial interests as well as the importance of the armed forces in Stalin’s system of political power. Stalin wanted military power to defend himself against external threats. At the same time,...

  18. Contributors
    (pp. 261-262)
  19. Index
    (pp. 263-272)