In This Review

A Mirror for Socialism: Soviet Criticisms of China
A Mirror for Socialism: Soviet Criticisms of China
By Gilbert Rozman
Princeton University Press, 1985, 292 pp

This important book can be read on several levels. As a result of the Sino-Soviet split, there has developed within the Soviet academies a literature on "what went wrong with socialism." Ostensibly talking about what went wrong with Mao Zedong's China, Soviet reformers could describe and analyze fundamental defects in the Soviet system itself. Thus, their writings can be read as an agenda for some future Deng Xiaoping in the Soviet Union. What do the reformers want? Much the same thing that has been going on in China under Deng. But alongside the reformers there is another, more powerful, school holding "orthodox" views on China and, implicitly, on the Soviet Union itself. This group fears the spread of "petty bourgeois influences" as soon as tight controls are relaxed. Thus, the book is both encouraging and depressing. Encouraging because, contrary to the view of some Westerners that Soviet totalitarianism is unchanging and irreversible, Rozman demonstrates that there are some Soviet voices urging far-reaching reform of the Chinese type. It is depressing, because such voices seem not to be very powerful.