B – Economy, trade, and finances

The institutional pillars of the Eastern block

Event Details

  • Date

    Friday, 26 June - 9:00 – 11:00

  • Venue
    tba
  • Theme
    B – Economy, trade, and finances
Convenor
  • Mikhail Lipkin (Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
  • Suvi Kansikas (University of Helsinki)
Chair
  • Mikhail Lipkin (Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
Commentator
  • Artemy Kalinovskiy (University of Amsterdam)
  • Suvi Kansikas (University of Helsinki)
Panelists
  • Mikhail Lipkin (Institute of World History of the Russian Academy of Sciences)
  • Laurien Crump (Utrecht University)
  • Timur Djalilov (Russian Academy of Sciences)
  • Irina Aggeeva (Russian Academy of Sciences)

Papers

  • Mikhail Lipkin
    A struggle for competences between the CMEA and the Warsaw Pact

    A struggle for competences between the CMEA and the Warsaw Pact

    The Paper represents the result of recent research on the the topic of COMECON’s institutional history. The paper will focus on the external politics and “political-economic” external activities and the rise of political ambitions in COMECON’s development from the Stalin period to the Brezhnev era. The research is based on the analysis of the COMECON fund stored in the Russian State Economic Archive as well as the RGANI Party archive in Moscow.
  • Laurien Crump
    Manoeuvring through Warsaw Pact multilateralism: The Soviet alliance as instrument for smaller powers

    Manoeuvring through Warsaw Pact multilateralism: The Soviet alliance as instrument for smaller powers

    The Warsaw Pact is usually perceived as a Soviet instrument, but in fact its multilateral forum inadvertently provided its smaller members with a stake in Soviet bloc affairs. Even on crucial issues, such as European security, its members managed to gain increasing room for manoeuvre from the 1960s onwards. This talk will assess how the smaller Warsaw Pact members used the alliance to formulate their vision on European security in the run-up to the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). Turning the conventional hypothesis that the CSCE provided the smaller WP members with more scope for manoeuvre on its head, Dr. Laurien Crump will argue that the multilateral mechanism of the WP in fact facilitated the CSCE-process.
  • Timur Djalilov
    "Diplomacy in swimming trunks": new evidences on the high-level meetings of socialist leaders in late 1960s – 1970s

    "Diplomacy in swimming trunks": new evidences on the high-level meetings of socialist leaders in late 1960s – 1970s

    When he came to power in October 1964, Brezhnev faced the "collective opposition" of the leaders of the key European countries of the socialist camp. J. Kadar, A. Novotny, V. Gomulka with one voice assured the new Soviet leadership of their "loyalty to the General line of the Central Committee of the CPSU" at the same time led the fight for the conquest of new political powers within the already established world system of socialism. The Czechoslovak crisis of 1968 and the subsequent "normalization" allowed the Soviet leadership, "in the face of a threat to the world system of socialism," not only to strengthen its influence within the country, but also during meetings in Dresden, Warsaw and Moscow to "rally the ranks" of the fraternal parties of the socialist countries, forcing them to share responsibility for the preparation and conduct of the "action on August 21". During this period, a new form of coordination between the elites of socialist countries was born: informal meetings at the highest level. Since 1970, such meetings have been held regularly in Crimea. At these meetings, in an informal setting, the leaders of the socialist countries discussed key issues of international policy, which created a sense of belonging to the elites of the socialist countries to develop a common political course. The importance of the topics discussed at the meetings in Crimea and the level of participants in these negotiations suggests the existence of an informal supranational body for making key political decisions.
  • Irina Aggeeva
    The international meetings of the Communist and Working Parties: talking or deciding?

    The international meetings of the Communist and Working Parties: talking or deciding?

    The international meetings of Communist and workers parties of various formats implemented an important tool for pursuit of Soviet foreign policy tasks. The dominance of the USSR and the maintenance of the unity of world communism was identified with Soviet national interests and achieved, in 1960-1970-s, contrary to prevailing stereotypes, not so much by pressure from a position of strength as by discussions and convincing of the followers of alternative positions, thanks to the support of Eastern European allies, interested in economic cooperation, and countries covered by national liberation movements. The working documents of different meetings point to the gradual evolution of Soviet priorities in favor of the primacy of political ideology over economic interests towards the well-known thesis of the irreconcilability of the ideological war against capitalism in the period of peaceful coexistence, to the detriment of mutually beneficial socialist integration and the expansion of international trade relations. The development of the world socialist system occupied an ever greater place at the meetings thanks to the request for understanding of theory and practice of "real socialism" from the communist parties of the advanced capitalist countries. In general, resolutions of the meetings reproduced the official Soviet documents. Rather curious ideas about the modernization of communism in the spirit of a "consumer society" and the expansion of commodity-money relations, which were discussed not publicly in the Communist Party of the USSR, were left beyond "talking" and "deciding" for the sake of unity and maintenance of revolutionary spirit. The resolutions of the meetings carried out the essential program function for the activities of the USSR in international affairs.

Abstract

The recent studies in Russian and other East European archives draw a new, much more sophisticated and sometimes hybrid picture of the real mechanism of functioning of the 'World System of Socialism"", the skeleton of the ""Second World"". The working hypothesis of this panel is that this mechanism consisted not only of directives coming from ideological center in Moscow, but included several layers of interaction between the member countries of the Eastern block. This means one shall not study CMEA or the Warsaw Pact alone, but has a task to view them as a part of a more sophisticated construction which changed with the time due to its own logic of development and included both classic multilateral forms (CMEA, Warsaw Pact), ideological forums: International Meetings of the Communist and Working Parties) and more intimate tet-a-tet, informal get-to getherings just between the leaders of the socialist states (like Brezhnev's practice of meetings in Yalta in early 1970s and other places). How these 3 levels interacted and what was for benefits or for losses for the small actors in this integration pillars of the East.