Khrushchev believed that communism in the USSR could be reformed and modernized and made more efficient. How far had this been achieved by 1970?

Published: March 20, 2017

Khrushchev had tried to reform communism and in this regard aimed at de-Stalinizing the society. Some of the reforms that he brought which were successful were:

  • Industrial policies- Although the concept of Five Year Plans for industries was continued, the focus was shifted to light industries producing consumer goods. The target was to increase the standard of living of the people. In order to bring in efficiency, Regional Economic Councils were set up to make decisions and manage local industries. This led to an improvement in the standard of living as minimum wages were also increased and a tax cut was announced on low wages. A vast housing programme was put in place in 1958. The development was so rapid that Khrushchev himself boasted of the gap between US and USSR would be done away with in few years. During his regime, the manned orbiting of the earth by Uri Gagrin took place which gained fame both at home and abroad.
  • Agricultural policies-Khrushchev was also successful in reforming the agricultural policies. The collectivization method of Stalin’s time did not serve any purpose. So the main aim of Khrushchev was to increase the agricultural production by any means. His scheme became so effective that by 1958 there was a dramatic increase in farm output.
  • Political, social and cultural changes- Khrushchev was also successful in reducing certain previous atrocities like secret executions, rehabilitation of people in the labour camps etc. Many people came above the poverty line.

But Khrushchev’s efforts also suffered from certain limitations because of which communism could not be modernized or reformed completely. Some problems that arose during his time were:

  • Although progressive in the first go, the industrial progress began to deteriorate. The economic growth began to slow down due to the inefficiency of Regional Councils and investment also was insufficient.
  • By 1963, agricultural policy also started to fail due to the sudden decrease in production. It was observed that too much was allotted for development of agriculture to the detriment of industry. Grain imports from USA and Australia became rampant which led to Khrushchev’s downfall in 1964.
  • Some untoward incidents occurred at around 1962 in the name of protecting communism. The strike by workers was answered heavily through firing and casualties. Religious meetings were banned which made it difficult for Christians to carry out their meetings.
  • Khrushchev shifted from Marxist Leninist ideas of communism and this exposed him to a lot of criticisms from China where too the Communist Party was flourishing. Further, his failure to maintain a peaceful coexistence while promoting communism also received a setback with the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

Thus, it can be said that though Khrushchev aimed at modernizing and reforming communism in USSR, it failed in the later years of 1970s both due to failed schemes and reluctance of the existing ruling elites to adopt to change.

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