2018. Issue 4 (43)

Balakin V. S. Social History of the Soviet Science: Academicians Vasily Nemchinov and Nikolay Fedorenko on Economic and Mathematical Methods in Optimal Planning (1960s – middle 1970s) (.pdf)


The evolution of the Soviet economic thought is shown as a cultural and intellectual process. In this framework, the views of Academician Vasily Nemchinov on “self-supporting planning” and the theoretical justification of Academician Nikolay Fedorenko on the need for a unified system of optimal functioning of the economy (SOFE) are reviewed. The author demonstrates how the CPSU committees controlled and exerted administrative pressure on Fedorenko and leading scientists of the Central Economic Institute. The negative role of Gosplan and the Soviet ministries in the early 1970s in practical work to improve the centralized planning system, as well as opposition to the development and phased implementation of the system of optimal economic functioning, is shown. The content of the discussion on the problems of optimal planning and management of the 1960s – middle 1970s is analyzed. The author reveals not only sharp objections, but also contradictions that arose due to the fact that some participants in the discussion did not take into account the urgent need for a significant transformation of the economic mechanism or remained captive to the military communist perceptions of planning. The lessons of the discussion around economic and mathematical researchers indicate the isolation of many Soviet political and economic approaches from real economic processes. The author concludes that the authoritarian political system formed a corresponding administrative, lined system and science. As a result, the intellectual resistance of science to external influences weakened, the practice of centralized planning stagnated, and socio-cultural split and conformism intensified among the scientific community.


Key words: social history of science, Vasily Nemchinov, Nikolay Fedorenko, economic and mathematical methods, optimal plan, “self-supporting planning”.


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