This special thematic issue of NZ is dedicated to the significance of the 1970s in the USSR’s history. It deals with so called “the long 1970s”, a period which, according to our authors, was opened in 1968 by Warsaw pact troops’ invasion to Czechoslovakia and came to an end with perestroika in 1985. The issue is not supposed to cover all aspects and nuances of the named historical period but at the same time the spectrum of presented analysis is undoubtedly comprehensive. The authors touch selected segments of politics, economy, and culture of the late Soviet Union and, in some instances, of “socialist camp” as a whole. This approach has determined the general idea and subjects of the issue.
The issue opens with the theoretical section “The Long 1970s: Dynamics of Stagnation” which defines the analyzed period and the notion of “stagnation” interwoven with it. Historian Aleksandr Shubin reviews the general social patterns characterizing the 1970s in the Soviet Union. Sociologist Oleg Yanitsky analyses the Soviet society self-perception comparing it with current self-comprehension of Russian public. Economist Vitaly Naishul in his NZ interview discusses three basic phenomena of the late Soviet economy: “administrative market”, “stagnation”, and “oil”. Economist Vladimir Mau emphasizes “investment degradation” as a fundamental feature of the 1970s. And in conclusion of this section economist Vladimir Popov studies the main reasons of economic decline in Brezhnev’s epoch.
The second thematic section “The Missing Object of Ideology” deals with ideological features of “the long 1970s”. The attempts of non-official “revamping” of Marxism-Leninism in the 1970s are examined in Boris Kagarlisky’s article. Aleksei Yurchak and Dmitri Gorin consider different aspects of the 1970s’ ideological landscape.
In the third thematic section — “Problems of World and Socialism” — Sergei Markedonov observes political and social evolution of the Soviet Transcaucasia under Brezhnev, and Aleksandr Bobrakov-Timoshkin studies “normalization policy” in Czechoslovakia form “Prague spring” to “velvet revolution” in this country.
Abovementioned sections sided with an interview by prominent book illustrator Victor Pivovarov on so bright cultural phenomenon of the Soviet 1970s as children literature. The author portrays the mechanics of censorship; selection and economics functioned in this field during the Soviet times.
Since the 1970s are the matter of memory for several living generations the issue presents a special Morals and Mores section. Famous linguist Rebecca Frumkina presents the sketch of the habits and ways of scientific community. Sociologist Aleksandr Tarasov recollects his arrest by KGB in 1977, physician Aleksandr Mordovin tells about workaday routine of Soviet psychiatry, Lev Usyskin describes the life of the famous Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (so-called “FizTekh”) in the beginning of the 1980s.
In Case Study section two articles are adjoined — US political analyst Thomas Nichols dedicates his publication to US-Soviet relations in “the long 1970s” and economist Nikolai Krotov unveils the secrets of Soviet banking abroad. And in the Politics of Culture philosopher Leonid Karasev portrays 1970s through his personal perception and life experience.
Our permanent columnists present their own versions of the Soviet 1970s. Evgeny Saburov sees this time as a blossom season of so called “alternative economics”, Aleksandr Kustarev describes it as a realm of total deficit, Aleksei Levinson marks it as a bright period when Soviet sociology came into being.
The issue is concluded with the traditional sections: Russian Intellectual Journal Review (Vyacheslav Morozov and Petr Rezvykh) and New Books review in which the last book by prominent Russian sociologist Yuri Levada “Searching for a Man” and the collected works by Andrei Sakharov in eight volumes are introduced to our readers.