One of the firmest popular conceptions of the Soviet Union in the United States is of a system diat categorically banned private enterprise. Embraced by specialists and the general public alike, this conception reflects the official Soviet stance diat the private sector was eradicated during losif Stalin's “great break” of 1929-30. Indeed, over the course of diose two years, individual peasants were compelled to collectivize, private stores forcibly shut, private manufactures socialized, and even doctors and dentists pressured to cooperate or to close shop. The concept of an interdiction against all private economic activity found support in the words of the dictator–Stalin's assertions that the Soviet Union was a society “without capitalists, small or big,” that socialist, not capitalist, property was the “foundation of revolutionary legality,” and many other statements of a similar ilk. Stalin proved his commitment to this model by his readiness to resort to coercion against its violators: at his instigation, repressive laws threatened entrepreneurs with five to ten years in prison camp for profitable private business. Such developments appeared as unequivocal as they proved lasting; when commentators discussed perestroika in the late 1980s, the only historical precedent they could identify was Lenin's New Economic Policy six decades before.