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TRAC
Interview Transcript

Sergei Kapitsa   (cont)

In Russia, this didn't happen.  It still carried on, because right from the beginning, and in fact that man Leontief whom I spoke of here, studied the Leningrad universities, and there it went.  And for two years, he was at this ** agency developing these varied methods for which he later got the Nobel Prize -- all these tables with which you control the flow of materials and a huge balance sheet of the economy of a country or the world.

 So, in our country, unfortunately, with the political idea of spreading communism and a certain world transformation, our economy was right up to the end, to Gorbachev's  day, really a military economy, where money and effort didn't count, only because of the huge resources of this country, we could to a certain rate proceed.  But that was one of the reasons that led to the collapse of the Soviet economy.  We still haven't gotten rid of a huge sector of our economy connected to the military--take our miners and so on.  They're not viable in economic terms any more.  They have to go, but for political and other reasons, it can't happen.

Interviewer:  Sometime in the sixties, Aganbegyan or others began to perceive this thing was not working.

Mr.  K:  Yes.  Well certainly you see.  And Kosygin understood it perfectly well, his economic advisors told him all about it, and he was ready to listen.  But, politically, he couldn't carry through.  You see, this man who was advising Brezhnev on economic matters.  And Brezhnev was very entrepreneuring between the military establishment, with which he was intimately connected, of course he was in charge of it before he became first secretary, and the economy at large.  The regional interests could not be devolutional of economic power to the regions, an issue that is still very hot in our economy.  

Interviewer:  And it surfaced, those two times at least on your programs .  .  .  

Mr.  K:  These were not the only times.

Interviewer:  Can you think of some other points in the history of the Soviet development, say from the sixties on, when it could have gone another way; for example, with Kosygin could there have been a kind of reform?

Mr.  K:  Well, you see, it's very difficult to say.  History has no alternative.  You see, it's a one-way road only.  And there are no bifurcations in history.  You can imagine them, but there are critical moments in history when you can turn right or left.  And this has definitely happened; these are h the various coups and revolutions.  But history has a logic of its own which is I think beyond our control, and even our understanding.  I can describe things as I saw them.  As I acted, I acted on my own behalf.  And that's all I can say.

Interviewer:  But, as a scientist, this commitment to the truth and living in a state where only certain portions of the truth were allowed in public discussion.

Mr.  K:  Well, the truth is, I think that's a very simplified idea of the public attitude, you see.  I don't know how you even get at these ideas.  These things were quite openly discussed, you see.  It was a question, I say, not of delivering and discussing this thing.  You see, I was discussing these issues through the most open and highly controlled informational channel in the country--television.  There's nothing more open than that, you see.  So what can you say after that, you see.  Various people were distributing manuscripts, and who reads that stuff?  It's only the committee that reads them, but here, everybody was listening to me.  And you cannot get away from this.  And this is history.  It's the way things happened.  I remember once I went to see this man after he resigned soon before his death, this man who was the controller of the Soviet television, Latvin.  I once came to his place, he invited me.  He tragically lost his daughter, and he was in a very difficult position.  I came to see him, and he showed his collection of books.  He had a large, a very good library of his own traditional tone.  Intellectual families in our country.  And he showed me a practically full collection of all--some is that, and all this dissident literature.  And then his library shelf had a certain tripper, and he sort of tripped some switch, this whole thing turned around, and there at the back of all this was the best collection of Russian erotica that I've ever seen.  "That," he said, "I hide away.  I don't want my children and grandchildren to see that." The erotica was hidden--not the dissident literature.

 

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RAO > Catalgoues > Transcripts > TRAC > Sergei Kapitsa p.11

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