IN the months since Stalin's death the new leadership in the Kremlin has made serious efforts to break out of the East-West stalemate and has displayed an unaccustomed flexibility in wielding the almost disused weapons of diplomacy. It has brought its opponents, some reluctantly, some enthusiastically, to agree to participate in two major conferences, on Germany and on Korea. In so doing, it has chosen the terrain and the weapons for wreaking maximum damage against the vulnerable joints of the alliances which the West has shored up since 1948 against Soviet acts and threats of violence. As in the fable, the Soviet sun has suddenly taken to shining warmly; and the free-world wayfarer, having forgotten the north wind, is ready to throw away his cloak and bask in its rays.

Some of the first steps in carrying out the new Soviet line were little more than gestures. The decision to allow several Russian wives, married to American citizens, to leave Russia with their husbands makes no change, of course, in the unique Soviet law which, passed since their marriages, forbids Soviet citizens to marry foreigners. Except in the Kremlin, no one would consider this an act of grace. The Soviet "recommendation" to the Chinese Communist and North Korean Governments to exchange seriously ill and disabled prisoners-of-war could be regarded as an act of great generosity only by people who have unconsciously accepted the Soviet assumption that not only its own people but captured prisoners are the property of the captor, who has both the right and the duty to enslave them to his ideology. Moscow's intercession to secure the release of United Nations civilians illegally detained in Korea for almost three years would have been a routine action on the part of any Western Power. Yet each of these "gracious acts" held the headlines for many days, and, cumulatively, they have led many people to believe, as one analyst wrote recently, that the new Soviet leadership is "digging a tunnel of friendship to the West," and that the main obstacle to peace is that the West may not begin "digging from its end."

Some of the new Soviet gestures have simply meant the scrapping of a profitless obstinacy. For many months the Soviet position in the question of selecting a successor to Trygve Lie as Secretary General of the United Nations had been a fruitless one, even from the point of view of Soviet interests. Moscow's attitude did not halt the work of the United Nations and it served to focus the fears and resentments of the nations of the non-Soviet world. Acceptance of a new Secretary General was a step to allay them.

Similarly, the recall of ambassadors from Belgrade and Athens had been acts of hostile pressure. Whatever internal tensions and divisions this Soviet gesture was expected to generate had long since been discounted, and a renewed exchange of ambassadors removed a useless annoyance. Meanwhile, the propaganda warfare against the Tito régime, the frequent border incidents, and the building of satellite forces ringing Jugoslavia go on unchanged. Renewal of diplomatic relations with Israel likewise liquidated a fruitless effort to intimidate a small state. In his announcement of July 20 Molotov stressed particularly that the Government of Israel had repeated its unilateral pledge not "to take part in any alliance or agreement pursuing aggressive aims against the Soviet Union."

In June Moscow dropped its postwar claims against Turkey's territory and sovereignty. By a note of May 30 it renounced its claims to Kars, Ardahan and Artvin, purely Turkish territories which it had demanded since 1945 as a token of "friendship." At the same time it abandoned its demand for "joint" Soviet-Turkish control of sea and air bases in and around the Straits; if accepted, this demand would have gone far to make Turkey a Soviet satellite by depriving it of control over its most strategic territories, including its largest city. The Soviet note went on to state that "it is possible to insure the security of the U.S.S.R. in the matter of the Straits on conditions equally acceptable both to the U.S.S.R. and Turkey." Without stating what conditions would be acceptable, the Soviet Government clearly implied that Turkey would be well advised to come to a direct agreement with Moscow in advance of 1956, the year in which signatories are free to withdraw from the Montreux Convention on the Straits. Two later Soviet notes complaining against United States and British naval visits to the Straits, rebuffed by Ankara, presumably serve to build up Soviet pressure to change the Montreux Convention before agreeing to its renewal.

The hard-headed Turks needed more than a note of this kind to believe in a Soviet change of heart, but this renunciation of a prize which the Soviet leadership could not seize without risk of a major war allowed Malenkov to proclaim to the Supreme Soviet that "The Soviet Union has no territorial claims against any state whatever, including any of the neighboring states." In his speech of August 8 Malenkov also stressed the Soviet desire to maintain good relations with Afghanistan and to settle pending financial and border questions with Iran. He made no mention of Iran's long-standing desire to eliminate from the Soviet-Iranian treaty of 1921 the clause which permits the Soviet Union to introduce its forces into Iranian territory in case its security is threatened by the forces of a third power stationed in other parts of Iran.

In its foreign trade negotiations the Kremlin has also displayed greater flexibility. It has recently concluded a whole series of new trade and clearing agreements without insisting on breaking down the U.S.-inspired restrictions on the export of strategic commodities to the Soviet bloc. Perhaps Moscow assumed that these controls would break down rapidly once the truce was completed in Korea. Soviet representatives made a striking gesture in the meetings of the Economic and Social Council. Muting their traditionally shrill attacks upon the United Nations' program of technical assistance to underdeveloped countries, they offered, for the first time, a Soviet contribution to the program, which has great prestige in the unindustrialized areas. In the trading sessions sponsored by the Economic Commission for Europe, the Soviet spokesmen have also shown recently a desire to talk business rather than mere propaganda.

The most striking shift in Soviet policy has been the conclusion of the Korean truce, the liquidation of one of Stalin's most glaring mistakes. From the moment the United Nations, and particularly the United States, struck back against the Soviet-inspired and supported aggression of the North Korean régime, it has, on balance, been to Soviet advantage to end the conflict sooner, rather than later, and the dragging out of the negotiations for more than two years after Malik's offer, in June 1951, of a truce, has compounded the original error of judgment. During this long and bloody struggle the Soviet bloc has been forced to abandon its original goal: the immediate annexation of South Korea and the elimination of Western influence from a key-area on the Asiatic mainland. Resistance to Soviet-instigated aggression has greatly improved the capacity of the United Nations to take collective action, and it has stimulated a rapid expansion of the war potential of the United States, a substantial strengthening of the NATO forces in Europe and a firmer attachment of Japan to the free world. It has focussed the attention of the free world more clearly on the international implications of the struggle in Indo-China. Since May 1951 it has resulted in a more effective enforcement of controls over the export of strategic goods to the Soviet bloc.

The only gains which the Soviet régime has made from prolonging the struggle have been primarily in the propaganda field, and that within the Soviet bloc or among Soviet-oriented segments of opinion elsewhere. It has developed to the full its accusations of "germ-warfare," and has enabled the Chinese Communist forces to win local offensive actions in the closing weeks and thus to assert that they had "forced" the United States and its allies to accede to a truce. Not even this great fanfare can conceal from the peoples in the Soviet bloc the fact that large numbers of North Korean and Chinese prisoners have refused to return to their Communist-dominated homelands and that the United Nations bloc has defended their right to refuse repatriation.


The Soviets assume that in Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism they possess the only valid "science" of prediction, but since the Mac-Arthur hearings made clear the United States' determination to wage a limited war, the Soviet leadership seems to have followed a Micawber-like policy of waiting for something better to turn up. This was made evident in a striking statement by Pravda in January 1952. In an election year, said Pravda, it is probable that the "extreme imperialists" in America, who want to "conquer the world," will encounter many surprises, especially from the "reasonable imperialists," who favor the retraction of American ambitions to the Western hemisphere and who are urging an unconditional withdrawal from Korea. Thus, throughout all of 1952 Moscow watched eagerly for America to withdraw from the Korean struggle, leaving the Soviet Union free to take over the entire peninsula. The outcome of the election, and the growing demand in American public opinion to find new ways to break out of the self-imposed military deadlock, must have tipped the scales in favor of permitting or directing the conclusion of the truce, as Stalin hinted broadly but vaguely in his Christmas Eve written interview. Such is the power of self-deluding dogma that it required costly sacrifices of lives, between June 1950 and July 1953, to convince the Kremlin that the "decadent imperialists" were determined to thwart its plans of conquest in Korea.

With the conclusion of the truce, Moscow has recovered a wider range of diplomatic manœuvre. The calling of a political conference for October opens the way to probe the political defenses of the West at their most vulnerable points. All the issues which divide the major Powers of the free world will come before the conference, whatever formal limitations of agenda may be sought. The allies of the United States are dubious of Syngman Rhee's willingness to be restrained from some new venture to force the unification of Korea and skeptical of the American ability to restrain him without weakening the precarious stability of South Korea. They are eager to seat Communist China in the United Nations, and to renew unrestricted trade with the Chinese mainland. They are doubtful of the value of maintaining indefinitely the Chinese Nationalist régime on Formosa. The allies, and especially the French, hope that by yielding to Peiping in all other issues they may persuade Mao to refrain from reinforcing the Communist-led Vietminh with Chinese troops and even to cut off its sole and indispensable supply of equipment and munitions. The Western Powers enter the political conference with a tacit commitment to avoid the threat and risk of a new war, and with rigid limits imposed on their field of manœuvre by strongly held sentiments at home, sentiments which differ from country to country. Whatever the invisible strains behind the façade of the Soviet bloc, it derives immediate advantage from its monolithic freedom of manœuvre in both policy and propaganda. The amazing thing is that the Soviet leadership held off the conclusion of the truce for two years, instead of attempting to exploit more actively the political divisions among the Powers which had joined to resist its aggressive plans.

In Germany the open defiance of Soviet power by the workers and peasants of the Eastern zone has dealt a body-blow to Soviet prestige and has hampered, for some time to come, Soviet freedom of action. Whatever doubt there was of the hatred of most East Germans for the Soviet régime and its puppets has been dissipated by the uprisings of June 17. The Soviet leadership, probably misled by the optimistic reports of its own agents and stooges, again misjudged the temper of its German subjects.

Any attempt to reconstruct the inner sequence of Soviet decisions is hazardous, but it seems clear that by May the new Kremlin leadership had reviewed the situation in Germany and had marked out a program designed, at best, to harness to its own purposes the desire of nearly all Germans for a reunited and independent country and, at the least, to turn the striving for unity against the Adenauer Government in the September elections, and against the attachment of Western Germany to the European Defense Community and the North Atlantic forces. To achieve this, the Soviet Government needed to stop the decline in living standards in Eastern Germany, restore the workers' and peasants' willingness to produce, and therefore slacken somewhat the recently tightened labor controls and reassure the individual peasants, the mainstay of the supply of food and raw materials, that there was no immediate intention for forcing them into the collective farms. Consulted as to whether this temporary relaxation could be carried through without risk, Beria and Zaisser, the police-head in the Eastern zone, asserted, presumably, that there was nothing to worry about. Instead, the rank-and-file in East Germany took the concessions as a sign of weakness and, in an unprecedented act of heroism, arose and destroyed all pretenses that the Pieck-Grotewohl régime had any popular support.

Back of the program of relaxation was probably a longer-range plan: by making the East German régime more tolerable to its own subjects, its chances of being accepted as a partner in any negotiations for the reunification of Germany would be improved. While the Soviet leadership continually talks of the primary responsibility of the four major Powers for bringing about the reunification of Germany (as in its note of August 16), it must realize that, at least in the Bonn Republic, the decisive voice in this matter has passed from the Western allies to the German people itself. In the long run the Western Powers cannot resist a strongly-pressed demand within the West German Republic that "Germans sit down with Germans" to resolve the question of reunification. It is probable that the proposed program of relaxation in Eastern Germany was intended not only to relieve the Soviet economy of onerous contributions of food and other supplies, and to strengthen, over the longer run, the economic and political stability of the puppet régime, but also to make that régime more acceptable to many West Germans as a negotiating partner and thus to facilitate the Communist campaign in favor of a direct arrangement between the two German republics.

The blow which the uprisings of June 17 inflicted on Soviet prestige has been a sharp reminder to the Kremlin that behind all its propaganda smoke screens its domination over East Germany rests on the presence of Soviet troops and tanks and on MVD controls. Moscow cannot now rely on its German puppets to control even the East zone, much less to capture control of a united Germany. But the Soviet leaders have skillfully salvaged some advantage from this unforeseen blow. The East German uprisings have intensified the demand in West Germany for the earliest possible liberation of their brothers from Soviet domination and have raised, probably too high, their confidence that the puppet régime in the East can be thrust aside with ease. Thus, the June events in the East made the issue of unity the paramount one in the September elections in West Germany.

The Soviet note of August 16 and the Moscow communiqué of August 23 were cleverly calculated to draw advantage from this reaction, even though it is most unlikely that a victory of the Social Democrats over the Adenauer bloc would bring any gain to Soviet policy. "The incorporation of West Germany into a European army and into the North Atlantic bloc," the note stated flatly, "would render impossible the unification of West and East Germany in a united state." It went on to propose the conclusion of a peace treaty within six months and the cancellation of reparations and of postwar state debts, as of January 1, 1954.

The offer to cancel reparations was designed to remove the fear that a united Germany would be saddled with a crushing mortgage of reparation, which the Soviet Union would then use to force it into economic and political subjection. The Soviet communiqué of August 23 also promised the return to German ownership of 33 Soviet-seized enterprises, presumably leaving some 50 large plants in Soviet possession. These enterprises are controlled directly from Moscow, operate without paying taxes or customs duties, and also enable the Soviet Union to milk the East German economy on a huge scale. The offer to cancel the German indebtedness to the Allies touches an emotional rather than a practical matter, since outright gifts of American aid since 1945 have greatly exceeded loans. The offer to limit the occupation costs to 5 percent of the budget in each of the two German Republics is bound to be popular. Since the East German budget is a highly centralized one and also covers a wide range of investment and other nonadministrative expenditures, the proposed limitation would cause a relatively slight loss to the Soviet treasury and a relatively severe one to the British and the French Governments.

One of the most striking features in Malenkov's speech of August 8 was the shifting of the Soviet appeal from the Germans to the French. In it he reverted to an earlier Soviet theme, that a united and independent Germany must provide solid guarantees to its neighbors in Europe against a revival of militarism and aggression. He expressed particular sympathy for French fears of a rearmed Germany, even reminding Paris of the Franco-Soviet pact of November 1944 directed against a revival of Germany. In May 1952 Moscow had urged that a united and independent Germany should have its own armed forces, but in August 1953 this ticklish subject was not mentioned by Malenkov or the Soviet notes on Germany. The Kremlin appears most worried over the prospect of a rearmed Germany integrated into the Western bloc, and since the blow of June 17 it counts on the fears, widely shared by nationalist and neutralist as well as Communist opinion in France, to block the ratification of the European Defense Community and the integration of a partially rearmed Germany into the defenses of the North Atlantic area.

The EDC and NATO remain, as before, the greatest bugbears of Soviet policy-makers. As Malenkov stated hopefully in his speech, "Aggressive circles also take into account that, if today, in conditions of tension in international relations, the North Atlantic bloc is rent by internal strife and contradictions, the lessening of this tension may lead to its disintegration." In concentrating its propaganda on German hopes of unity and on French fears of a reunited and revived Germany, the Kremlin aim is clear. It hopes, by outwardly conciliatory words, to bring to a halt and reverse the movement which has been provoked by its own actions and menaces since 1948, toward strengthening the defenses and the political and economic unity of Western Europe and the cohesion of the free world. The only unity of Europe which it can accept is a Soviet-imposed unity.


In the light of the Kremlin's skillful recovery from the June 17 fumble, it hardly seems necessary to discuss in detail the notion, assiduously propagated in some quarters, that the Soviet régime is weak, frightened and confused and that it is so eager to "appease" the West that it may withdraw voluntarily from East Germany and even relax its grip on the satellites, and that Malenkov is pressing for a Four-Power meeting in order to lay down the Soviet conquests at the feet of the West. True, the Soviet leadership was at first taken aback by the events of June 17. In order to present the suppression of the uprisings of unarmed workers and peasants as a Soviet victory, Malenkov has been forced to ascribe far-reaching aims to the West and to confess that the situation was a most difficult one for his government. "They intended to strangle the democratic forces of Germany, to destroy the German Democratic Republic, which is a stronghold of the peace-loving elements of the German people, to convert Germany into a militarist state and to reëstablish a hotbed of war in the center of Europe. There is no doubt that, had the Soviet Union not shown steadfastness and firmness in the defense of the interests of peace, the Berlin adventure might have led to quite serious international consequences. This is why one can consider that the liquidation of the Berlin adventure represents an important victory for the cause of peace."

After some delay the Soviet press took the unusual step of admitting to its own people that widespread strikes and demonstrations had occurred throughout East Berlin and the Soviet zone, that definite concessions, long since taboo in Russia herself, had been made to the German workers, that small private businesses are to be permitted and even encouraged, and that the German peasants are free to continue as individual farmers and to withdraw from the collective farms. These are not examples of "Bolshevist firmness" which the Kremlin relishes placing before its own people and those of the satellites.

In East Germany the Kremlin has recognized the special political and geographical situation, and has applied the classic Bolshevist tactic of "one step back, two steps forward." The absorption of the "Democratic Republic" into the pattern of "peace-loving nations" is obviously far behind schedule. However, none of the Soviet gestures of relaxation which preceded or followed the uprisings of June 17 suggests the abandonment of the basic controls exerted by the Soviet system over its most valuable and profitable puppet, much less a willingness to cut it loose and allow it to be attached to the West.

The basic question which has plagued Western opinion since Stalin's death is whether the Soviet régime has been seriously weakened. One school of thought maintains that the régime is on the verge of being torn to pieces by the struggle for power in the Kremlin, that it must seek a breathing-spell while the inner-party struggle is played to the end, until a new absolute dictator is enthroned. Here this school divides. Some assert that this is the very time for the West to intensify its efforts, to gain the maximum of concessions and to limit Soviet power and potential permanently. Others, the great majority, react to the assertions of Soviet weakness in an opposite way. They assume that the Soviet purposes have been changed radically, that the new leadership seeks actively to "join the club," that the period of alarms and costly efforts is over, and that it is no longer urgent to strengthen the political and military defenses of the West. Perhaps it is time to take a cool look at this newly discovered "Soviet weakness" and attempt to see whether it is apparent or real.

It should be stated at the outset that there is no sign of a demobilization of the very large Soviet armed forces, which are maintained in a high state of readiness, or of a slackening in the forced growth of war industry. Military observers agree that Soviet aircraft and armored units are as good or better than any United States equipment now in use, and that Soviet electronics are surprisingly good. Western observers accept generally the Soviet claim to know the secret of the hydrogen bomb. The remarkable postwar upsurge of economic recovery and industrialization has continued without let-up.

The recent meeting of the Supreme Soviet and Malenkov's speech of August 8 devoted special attention to two of the weaker sectors of the economy: agriculture and living standards. Foreign analysts have maintained since the war that the failure of farm production, the main source of foodstuffs and raw materials, to develop equally with industrial output could, if not corrected, become a major bottleneck limiting future progress and the ability to wage a prolonged war. Malenkov and other speakers at the Supreme Soviet outlined detailed measures which, over several years, can be expected to level agriculture up, and if this program is tackled seriously, there is no inherent reason why it should not succeed.

Greater productivity in agriculture is a key to improved living standards, and Malenkov's speech laid special stress on the improvements which have been made since March, and which are projected, in the supply of consumer goods. There are no inherent reasons why the Soviet economy cannot support a continuing high level of investment and war preparation and at the same time undertake a gradual improvement in agriculture, transportation and consumer standards. The material available since March suggests no faltering in the program of economic expansion; indeed, it suggests much closer attention to improving labor efficiency and consumer satisfaction through offering a wider range of incentives. In the field of international politics the brief review already given of Soviet actions since March indicates that the Kremlin is manœuvring with confidence, flexibility and speed.

The concept of the new Soviet "weakness" is thus reduced to the assumption that the Soviet dictatorship and Stalin were so completely synonymous that his disappearance was bound to lead to confusion and disintegration, that a "new Stalin" could not emerge except after a long struggle, and that during this struggle the Kremlin's policy, including its foreign policy, would be uncertain and wavering. In my opinion, this analysis errs in over-personalizing the nature of the Soviet system and in overlooking the ways in which the present system recognizes the tendencies which would cause it to break up, and counteracts them, as did the Ottoman system during several centuries.

One basic misconception is that the Soviet system rests upon several independent and competing power-institutions--particularly the Party, the political police, and the armed forces. If this were true, Beria would have controlled the appointment of all echelons of the police and enjoyed their direct loyalty, Bulganin would hold a similar position in respect to the armed forces, and Malenkov or Khrushchev in relation to the Party. True, something resembling this "separation" of power did exist at the beginning of Stalin's struggle for absolute control. Lenin treated his Politburo as a continuing conference of deputy chiefs of staff; once a decision was made in the Politburo, each deputy was responsible for carrying out the common decision within his own institutional sphere. Each deputy, in turn, selected his subordinates and developed groups or coteries of loyal supporters. Thus, at the time of Lenin's death, Zinoviev was responsible for the Leningrad organization and the Comintern, Kamenev for the economic system, and Stalin for Party organization, in the rather narrow sense of control over personnel rather than of ideology or policy.

The basic purpose and result of Stalin's ruthless reconstruction of the Party was to destroy this habit of "pluralism" or "appanage-building" within the Party, to eliminate actual or potential centers of authority which might compete with the domination increasingly exercised by him through the Central Secretariat of the Party, and thus to establish a genuinely centralized and monolithic control from above. The "Old Bolshevists" could not forgive Stalin for having become the "dictator over the Party," and Stalin took his bloody revenge on them in the 1930's. The system of unified Party control was Stalin's great "invention." Through it he drove the Party and the country to tremendous exertions. Prior to Stalin's death, Malenkov had been, for 14 years, Stalin's direct assistant and deputy in manipulating this ruthless mechanism of unlimited power. There is no evidence that he has dismantled it since March.

Much has been made of the relatively self-effacing rôle which Malenkov has been playing, particularly in comparison with the daily laudations of the living Stalin. However, if Malenkov has the reality of power, it is to his advantage not to imitate Stalin in this respect. If he is in control of the Party machinery, it is more useful for him to act as the spokesman of a collective "will of the Party." This technique was also applied by Stalin in the struggle to consolidate his power. He undermined, attacked and eliminated one potential rival after another, always defending the "unity" of the Party against "factionalism" and "splitting." It was not until the last rival power-centers within the Party had been eliminated that Stalin began the campaign of self-glorification as "the leader." The celebration of his fiftieth birthday in December 1929, after six years of struggle for monolithic control, was the first striking occasion of Stalin's personal glorification, with a great display of tributes and portraits.

Even if Malenkov is in undisputed control of the Party machine, and hence of all other levers of power, it is to his advantage to stress the difference between his alleged service to the Party as a whole and Stalin's highly personal, arbitrary and unpredictable habits of rule. Stalin's death has been followed by a strong reaction against his "manner of work." Even the funeral orations showed a rapid discarding of the enforced deification of the "allwise" leader. Malenkov's speech of August 8, similarly, contained only perfunctory references to Stalin, no longer "the Great."

Most significantly, the Party declaration on the fiftieth anniversary of its founding, published in Pravda of July 26, gave only modest praise to Stalin's rôle. "Generalizing the wealth of experience in building Socialism in the U.S.S.R. and the experience of the modern international liberation movement, J. V. Stalin creatively developed the Marxist-Leninist doctrine in application to new historical conditions and enriched revolutionary theory with new theses on many questions." Cutting Stalin down to size makes the rule of his successor easier. Stalin's rôle is now pictured as subordinate to that of the Party as a whole, and the Party, like the entire power machine, has begun to breathe more freely since he has passed from the scene.

The need for "protection of the rights" of citizens and especially of officials is felt strongly in the Soviet structure; the higher the official, the more precarious his position and even his life. Malenkov, the man of the Party machine, has made reassuring gestures to the "apparatus." His moves to increase the flow of consumption goods also reflect the aspirations of the bureaucracy. When he promises more private cars and television sets, better quality clothing and household equipment, he is appealing, not to ordinary citizens, but to the hierarchy, which alone can expect to achieve these benefits.

What are the devices through which the Party leadership prevents the full-fledged development of competing institutions of power? First of all, Party responsibility, on the one hand, and police, military, administrative, economic and cultural responsibilities, on the other, have long since been fused. All activities of importance to the Party are subjected to a system of multiple supervision, through the hierarchy of Party cells, through the Party Control Commission, through the Central Secretariat, and through the personal secretariat which Malenkov presumably inherited from Stalin. All appointments above a certain level are subject to active initiation, review or veto by the Central Secretariat; this includes military personnel from the rank of colonel up, directors of factories, all commissioned officers of the secret police, county and city Party secretaries. The power of appointment, control and removal is actively exercised in the central locus of power, the Party secretariat.

Did Malenkov relinquish that central control when the office of Secretary General was eliminated and Khrushchev was appointed First Secretary? The change in title may simply indicate that Khrushchev was not to have the direct powers which Stalin had possessed but was to act as an agent of the Party Presidium, which Malenkov appears to dominate. Did the elimination of Beria, announced in July, mean that Malenkov was weakened, or strengthened? The official statement on his arrest accused Beria of attempting to place the police above the Party. Perhaps Beria aspired to restore the system of power-sharing which had prevailed at Lenin's death, or perhaps Malenkov felt that Beria had been too long a competitor for the succession and was better out of the way.

Beria's downfall tends to confirm the picture of the supremacy of Party controls over all competing controls. Did the Army, which is dominated by Party-generals and is even easier to permeate with Party-controls than the secret police, take part in Beria's elimination? While reports speak of tanks rumbling through the streets of Moscow on June 27, there is no authentic information as to whether these were Army tanks, or whether they belonged to the special MVD army, controlled by Malenkov through Kruglov and used against its nominal chief, Beria.

In analyzing the structure of power in an on-going system, it is misleading to rely upon analogies with the past. In the system which Stalin had elaborated by 1929 and which he increasingly tightened in the following 20 years, strains of "separatist" institutional loyalty were recognized and deliberately contained. Under a system like this, individuals find it all but impossible to lay their hands on independent levers of power. What is important is not whether this or that prominent individual survives or is destroyed, but whether there is likely to develop a direct and mutually destructive clash between power-instruments. Will the army destroy the secret police, or the secret police destroy the Party? This is most unlikely. Present evidence requires us to assume that the Soviet system is going to continue as a tightly operated Party-dictatorship, though less personalized in a deified dictator. Its new leadership, which prefers to call itself "collective" for sound Soviet reasons, displays striking qualities of realism and flexibility. If this is so, then the challenge and the dangers which Soviet power and purposes present to the strength, cohesion and survival of the free world are definitely not on the wane, but are increasing. These dangers can be increased still more only if responsible opinion within the free world indulges in day-dreams of the "inevitable" self-destruction of the Soviet dictatorship.

You are reading a free article.

Subscribe to Foreign Affairs to get unlimited access.

  • Paywall-free reading of new articles and a century of archives
  • Unlock access to iOS/Android apps to save editions for offline reading
  • Six issues a year in print, online, and audio editions
Subscribe Now
  • PHILIP E. MOSELY, Director of the Russian Institute, Columbia University; former officer in the Department of State; Political Adviser to the U.S. Delegation, European Advisory Commission, London, 1944-45; author of various historical works
  • More By Philip E. Mosely