This book uses the formerly secret Soviet State and Communist
Party archives to describe the creation and operations of the Soviet
administrative-command system. It concludes that the system failed not
because of the “jockey” (i.e., Stalin and later leaders) but because of the
“horse” (the economic system). Although Stalin was the system’s prime
architect, the system was managed by thousands of “Stalins” in a nested
dictatorship. The core values of the Bolshevik Party dictated the choice
of the administrative-command system, and the system dictated the political victory of a Stalin-like figure. This study pinpoints the reasons
for the failure of the system – poor planning, unreliable supplies, the
preferential treatment of indigenous enterprises, the lack of knowledge
of planners, etc. – but also focuses on the basic principal–agent conflict
between planners and producers, which created a sixty-year reform


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