Country Listing

Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


The extent to which the CPSU and communist ideology influenced Soviet science and technology has varied over time. During the Civil War (1918-21) and particularly during the Stalin era, party controls over science were extensive and oppressive. In the 1980s, party influence over science has been far less rigid but still evident.

According to one Western scholar, the CPSU controlled science in four ways. First, the CPSU maintained control by formulating the country's overall science and technology policy. Second, the party ensured that its policies were implemented at all levels of government through a network of all-union, regional, and local party organizations that oversaw the work of science and technology organs operating at comparable levels. Even in research institutes or factories, local party committees exerted their authority by requiring directors and managers to adhere to party dictates (see Primary Party Organization , ch. 7). Local party committees reported to higher authorities on plan fulfillment, labor discipline, and worker morale.

Third, the CPSU exercised full power over appointments to key positions, controlling the appointment of high-level administrators, mid-level managers, and probably institute directors and research laboratory and department heads (see Nomenklatura , ch. 7). The fourth method of control was ideological, including that exercised over both the professional and the private lives of scientists. The CPSU controlled individuals' work through its authority to dismiss personnel, to deny bonuses or fringe benefits, to restrict travel and publishing opportunities, and to impose other disciplinary actions. Control over personal lives was maintained through the Committee for State Security (Komitet gosudarstvennoi bezopasnosti--KGB) and was evident during the 1970s and early 1980s, when the government harshly treated dissident scientists accused of nonconformity with party policies. The treatment eased under General Secretary Mikhail S. Gorbachev, who, for example, permitted dissident physicist Andrei Sakharov to return to Moscow from internal exile in Gor'kiy.

Influence, though, has not been one sided. Science officials have had opportunities to affect party decisions. Since the mid1950s , many top party officials have cultivated close ties to prominent scientists. This proximity has allowed scientists to influence decisions directly through their associations with policy makers or through appointments to policy advisory councils. Another opportunity has been appointment to top-level party organs. The number of scientists with membership in the CPSU Central Committee rose from seven in 1951 to nineteen in 1981. At the lower levels, facility managers often have used their close ties with party representatives to acquire more funds or better supplies.

Data as of May 1989