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The Great Soviet Experiment

By EBRD  Press Office

The Great Soviet Experiment

Special 1917 anniversary edition of the EBRD podcast Pocket Economics

Russia’s 1917 Revolution is the focus of a very special episode of the Pocket Economics podcast recorded in front of a live audience on the 100th anniversary – to the very day – of the Bolsheviks’ seizure of power.

The EBRD’s Chief Economist Sergei Guriev discusses the event and the lessons to be drawn from the seven decades of Soviet rule that followed it with the Bank’s Managing Director, Communications, Jonathan Charles, himself a veteran Russia-watcher.

The podcast episode was recorded at London’s Pushkin House on the night of 7 November,  a century exactly after what was known in Soviet times  as the ‘Great October Socialist Revolution’.     

In it Mr Guriev looks at the Soviet experiment in abolishing private property, replacing markets with central planning and placing Marxist ideology at the very centre of statecraft.

He also examines the efficiency, or otherwise, of Stalin’s collectivisation and mass industrialisation before the Second World War.

And he debates the reasons why, after Stalin’s death, the Soviet Union was unable to either compete with advanced western economies or to reform itself, leading to its eventual collapse in 1991.

“The Bolsheviks decided to try out the idea of a collectivised central economy,” Mr Guriev says.

“74 years later we saw that it didn’t really work. It didn’t outperform other ideas which are committed to, such as market economics, where people decide for themselves what is better for them.”


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