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The deeply anti-capitalist Bolsheviks set themselves the goal of developing Russia on socialist foundations. The paradox, however, is that the ostensibly anti-western development under the communist regime had as one of its principal objectives the goal of catching up and overtaking the West. In other words, among various civilizations and models of development, the Soviet leaders saw as their main rival and competitor the advanced capitalist West. 

Catch up with and Overtake the Capitalist West! Soviet poster, 1926

Thus, against their will, the Soviet reforming leaders conceded the superiority of western technologies and organizational methods and, in their reform efforts, often sought to copy or better them. This created a striking paradox in relations between Soviet Russia and the West: on the one hand, the communist ideology predicted the inevitable collapse of western capitalism. Yet, on the other, its officially proclaimed goal of catching up and overtaking the United States in various aspects of development, including the per capita production of milk and meat became a kind of obsession and a great Soviet dream.

The process of catching up with the West industrially and militarily was completed under the Communist government thanks to Stalins industrialization and the routing of Nazi Germany in 1945. These achievements ensured the Soviet Unions great-power status in the industrial era.

The tremendous industrial growth achieved under Stalins regime was the springboard for the expansion of Stalinism beyond the Soviet borders. After the Second World War, for the first time in history, Russia openly challenged the Wests historical hegemony to furnish models of socioeconomic development for the rest of the world.

The scale of Soviet achievement in the heavy industrial sector was particularly staggering. In a short period of time an industrial capacity was built characteristic of more economically advanced countries. In terms of its branch structure and technological sophistication, the Soviet economy now stood at a level comparable with the industrialized countries of the capitalist West. The USSR was now second only to the United States in its gross industrial output.

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The "Catching up" Cycles

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