Economic Collapse of Soviet Union
Breakdown of Technology Page 4


Theoretical unpreparedness
Page 2

Dumas analysis
Page 3

Breakdown of technology
Page 4

Breakdown of science
Page 5

Resource diversion
Page 6

Unproductive activity
Page 7

Militarization and bureaucracy
Page 8

Why did the USSR fall first?
Page 9

Did the USSR have any choice?
Page 10

Page 11

Because of today's rapidly changing technology and globalized economy, it is in technology where military spending is most counter-productive. By conservative estimates, military research and development (R & D) accounted for 56 percent of U.S. Government R & D and 28 percent of total national R & D from 1970 to 1984.(6) The USSR traditionally has kept its figures secret, but they are probably even higher than those of the U.S. Recently, the Soviets published figures for their military budget for the first time.(7) According to a report, they have spent 3.1 percent of their military budget for R & D, a figure they consider comparable to the U.S. proportion, which they calculate as 3.3 percent of the military budget.(8)

Both the USSR and the U.S. have lost out in the technological competition with Germany and Japan. And the reason is easy to see. During the period of 1970 to 1984, Germany and Japan spent only 6 percent and 1 percent respectively of their total national R & D for the military. As a result U.S. and Soviet goods cannot compete on the global market with those of Germany and Japan.

In the time of Marx, this would not have been as great a problem because technological change was slower and the economy less global. But today, the effect on the USSR is devastating. The USSR produces computers, hand calculators, audio and TV recorders, automobiles and machine tools which would have competed well if they had been on the market 20 or 30 years ago, but 20 or 30 years is like an eternity in today's marketplace.

The effect of technological lag on the U.S. economy is also devastating, but different than that on the USSR. Because of imperialism and its multinational ties, the capitalist class is able to profit from the arms race on the whole and deflect the losses onto the working class of the U.S. and third-world nations. More on that below.

The precise extent of the militarization of Soviet technology is difficult to determine because of their secrecy. Even the Soviet Foreign Ministry was unable to find out these figures, according to the head of their division of economic conversion, Ednan Agaev.(9) He estimated that in the Moscow area 85-90 percent of all scientific researchers are in the military sector. This seems too high, but a recent analysis in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates that half of all applied R & D in the Moscow area is defense related.(10) The same article points out that Moscow has over 40 percent of the entire country's R & D organizations.

Seymour Melman makes the following observation about the counter-productive effect of military research and development in the USSR.(11) In 1959, he visited the dean of a top Soviet technical school in the process of studying their designs for machine tools. He saw state-of-the-art machine tools that could be mass-produced at competitive prices on the world market. Twenty years later he returned and found that there had been no progress. The dean told him that the Defense Ministry came each year and commandeered his best graduates.

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