The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism: The Formative Years, 1918-1928. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.    

"You will never get a better scholarly book on the Soviet economy than the one Boettke offers."

Paul Craig Roberts,
Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC


"This study on the history of Soviet economic thought during the first years after the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 is much more than the regular academic scribble on this turbulent period of modern history. It is a systematic treatise on economic theory. Interdisciplinary in nature, it discusses the central problems of political economy and provides the serious reader with deep insight and complete understanding of the greatest event of the twentieth century: the rise and fall of communism.

The foundations of economic system that we see today in a state of full-fledged crisis were laid during the first ten years of the communist regime in the Soviet Union. The symptoms and manifestations of this crisis have been cogently described elsewhere. The author should be credited for his appraisal and illumination of the real causes, both economic and moral, of the great drama of our times. At the end of this treatise, it is absolutely clear that only by means of economic theory is it possible to organize and interpret seemingly chaotic historical and statistical data, isolated facts, and opinions that constitute the mass media's coverage of an overly complex array of events in the USSR."

from the Foreword by Yuri N. Maltsev


The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism presents one of the most interesting Utopian Experiments in comparative political and economic history --- the first decade of the Soviet experience with socialism (1918-1928). The goal of this book is to get at the meaning of this experience for comparative political economy today by using two methods of investigation --- textual examination and intellectual history. This allows one to understand the Soviet experience with socialism by understanding what the various actors who made the history were thinking at the time.


Table of Contents

Chapter One: Introduction
Purpose and Methodology

Chapter Two: The Meaning of the First Decade of the SovietExperience Introduction- Recent Interest in thc Soviets- The Standard View- Maurice Dobb- E. H. Carr- Alec Nove- Stephen Cohen- Theoretical Issues of Socialism- Theoretical Confusion- Denying Marx's Influence- The Critique of the Standard Account- Logical Continuity or Historical Determinism- Conclusion.

Chapter Three: The Political Economy of Utopia Introduction- The Economic History of War Communism- From Marx to Lenin- Ripeness and the Rise to Power- Praxis and Catastrophe- From Imperialism to Socialism- Utopia in Power- Utopia in Disarray- Conclusion.

Chapter Four: The Political Economy of NEP
Introduction-The Economic History of NEP - The results of NEP - Retreat or Advance - Lenin's Theory of Capitalism - Lenin's Assesment and the Failure of NEP - Conclusion.

Chapter Five: The Political Economy of Development Strategy Introduction- The Ideological Background- The Economic Situation- The Debate- Leon Trotsky and Industrialization- Preobrazhensky and Unbalanced Growth in Industry- Lev Shanin and Unbalanced Growth in Agriculture- Bukharin and Balanced Growth- Stalin's Rise to Power- Conclusion.

Chapter Six: Conclusion Marxism and Market Processes- Soviet History and Soviet Reforms- Conclusion. Bibliography-Index.



"Peter Boettke has written what must now be the major introduction to the ideas animating Communist economies. "

Aaron Wildavsky
Professor of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley, writing in The Freeman (June 1991): 239-240.

".....a perceptive,....libertarian analysis of the genesis of the Soviet economy. "

Martin Malia
Professor of History, University of California at Berkeley, writing in The Soviet Tragedy, p. 534.

"The author's contribution is to bring the powerful insights of Austrian economics, most notably those of Mises and Hayek, to bear on the interpretation and explanation of the failure of Soviet-type political and economic systems to meet the aspirations of their peoples. That spectacular failure does indeed show that Mises was right about the dismal fate that awaits societies that attempt to replace markets and private property with central planning and state property."

Gertrude e. Schroeder
Professor of Economics, University of Virginia, writing in The Cato Journal (Winter 1991): 839-841.

"It is obvious that great historical movements are rarely able to follow the inner logic of their ideologies, that they have to respond to the exigencies of the changing situation and consequently change themselves, sometimes losing their original identity completely... But all this does not undermine the legitimacy of interpreting the Bolshevik experiment in direct transition of communism as the culminating phase in the history of Marx's communists utopia. From this point of view (i.e., from the point of view of intellectual history) the first three years of Soviet power (1918-1921) essentially constitute one period: the period (to quote Lenin) of "a direct transition from the old Russian economy to state production and distribution on communist lines," of "attempting to go over straight to communism." .... The merit of stating is clearly belongs to Boettke."

Andrzej Walicki
Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, writing in Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: the Rise and Fall of the Communist Utopia, p. 363, and fn. 189.

"Peter Boettke's analysis -- the first comprehensive work by a follower of Mises and Hayek -- introduces a bombshell into this [Soviet history] debate. His analysis stands the traditional interpretation on its head: war communism was not a twisted aberration imposed on the bolsheviks by events, but the result of a correct understanding and application of Marxian doctrines and an attempt of realize them in practice.... the Political Economy of Soviet Socialism is a brilliant vindication of Ludwig von Mises's analysis of capitalism and market process.... The Political Economy of Soviet Socialism is important to the battles going on today in the world. It should be translated into as many Soviet and East European languages as possible. It should be heralded as a major breakthrough in economic and historical analysis, the culmination of the work begun by the great Ludwig von Mises back in 1920."

Roy Childs
writing in Laissez Faire Books (December 1990): 6-7.