While collectivization dramatically altered rural Russia and Stalin ruthlessly secured his control over the state apparatus, a military-industrial revolution remade the USSR into an immensely powerful war machine. As Stone reveals, the militarization of the Soviet economy--marked by a rapidly expanding defense industry, increasing centralized control, and growing military influence over economic policies--was an essential element in Stalin's strong-armed revolution from above.
Spurred by the Bolsheviks' unrelenting suspicions of other nations, the Soviet state embraced rearmament and military preparedness as its guarantee for national survival. Soviet military thinkers, Stone shows, pushed for a ruthlessly centralized economy--one requiring total integration of state and society--as the necessary means for achieving victory in future wars. The result was an ever upwardly spiraling defense budget and increasing military domination of civilian society.
Stone demonstrates how this domination emerged, evolved, and entrenched itself. But he also suggests that this military-industrial revolution, theoretically designed to protect the Soviet Union's national security, instead nearly destroyed it at the beginning of World War II. The rigid and inflexible economy that resulted ultimately undermined the Soviet state itself, destroying from within much of what it had tried to defend.
Based on unprecedented use of new archival sources, Stone's study also provides a cautionary tale about civil-military relations in an increasingly dangerous world. As such, it should appeal to readers well beyond those interested in Russian and Soviet history.
About David R. StoneSee more books from this Author
He suggests instead that the disproportionate efforts devoted to military procurement distorted the Soviet economy as a whole--and that continuous large-scale military production left Russia in 1941 with huge stocks of obsolescent equipment whose replacement required several years even with stepp...| Read Full Review of Hammer and Rifle: The Militar...