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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2008

11 - The Brezhnev era

from Part I - Russia and the Soviet Union: The Story through Time

Summary

This chapter describes the emergence of the Leonid Brezhnev leadership's 'orthodox Leninist' consensus from 1964 through the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. It examines the 'social contract' that emerged as the basis of social stability in the years of 'high Brezhnevism' from 1969 to 1976, noting the important role of détente in Brezhnev's political economy. The chapter discusses the decline of Brezhnevism from 1976 to 1982, both domestically and internationally. The Brezhnev era was somehow both a time of modernisation, stability and accomplishment and a time of decay, stagnation and corruption. The totalitarian model interpreted the Bolshevik revolution as a power grab by revolutionary extremists whose ultimate goal was total control over society. Nikita Khrushchev's strategy for building a socialist culture while rejecting Stalinist methods of coercion involved perpetual heroic campaigns designed to rekindle the revolutionary enthusiasm of ordinary Soviet citizens - the Virgin Lands campaign, the meat and milk campaign, the chemicals campaign and so on.
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