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39 Foreign Aff. 341 (1960-1961)
Soviet Myths and Realities

handle is hein.journals/fora39 and id is 351 raw text is: FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Vol. 39               APRIL 1961                   No. 3
By Philip E. Mosely
T may be useful, on the eighth anniversary of Stalin's death,
to review some of the misconceptions and mirages that have
plagued Western efforts to interpret the changing Soviet
scene under his successors. A stock-taking, even though brief and
incomplete, may help Americans to understand better the inter-
national environment in which a new Administration will have
to cope with old and new challenges to its hopes and purposes.
One persistent theme of Western analysis has been the concept
of a debilitating and perhaps fatal struggle for supremacy within
the Soviet apparatus of dictatorship. One widespread view runs
somewhat as follows. A totalitarian system, by its very nature,
cannot be legitimate. It cannot provide for the orderly trans-
mission of absolute power. It is bound to be caught in a dog-eat-
dog struggle for supreme control. On this premise, the top Soviet
leadership is inevitably riven by a continuing and desperate
rivalry among competing leaders and cliques. Hence, it is as-
sumed, Khrushchev is constantly engaged in a struggle against
multiple challengers within his own apparatus, and the function
of Kremlinology is to identify his rivals for power by reading
the obscure portents of personnel changes and turgid ideological
One extreme interpretation of this alleged instability was cur-
rent in May and June 196o. Supposedly, Khrushchev's vehement
behavior at the abortive summit conference was dictated to him
by unseen forces within the top Soviet hierarchy, perhaps by a
ganging up of military leaders and Stalinist ideologues. Suppos-
edly, Khrushchev had initially been willing to overlook the affront
of the U-2 flights, with its drastic violation of the Soviet passion

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