In This Review

Technocratic Socialism: The Soviet Union in the Advanced Industrial Era
Technocratic Socialism: The Soviet Union in the Advanced Industrial Era
By Erik P. Hoffmann and Robbin F. Laird
Duke University Press, 1985, 228 pp.

The "scientific and technological revolution" has occupied a prominent place in Soviet political writing and also, apparently, in the thoughts of the Soviet leadership on the future of the system and of the country. Hoffmann and Laird, with commendable industry and intelligence, have gone through the vast literature on the subject, most of it from the Brezhnev period, to see what new theories are evolving and how they may influence policies and institutions. There is considerable ingenuity and variety in that literature, reflecting uncertainties as well as the pressures for adaptation to a changing environment and for competing with the West. However, while concepts such as "developed socialism" and scientific management of society, putting science and technology to work for the success of socialism and eventual communism, may represent goals and serve political purposes, they do not tell us much about what is actually happening, or can be made to happen, in a system where established methods of planning, management and control are so resistant to change. The book is rather heavy going, but the importance of the subject justifies the reader's time and attention.