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Khrushchev's Fundamentalism

"Gorbachev Factor"
The first Soviet sputnik

In the years immediately following the Twentieth Party Congress, Khrushchevs power and prestige were at their peak. His policies, like the project to develop vast virgin lands in Kazakhstan, were popular and seemingly successful. In October 1957 the launch of the Soviet space satellite Sputnik inaugurated the exploration of outer space. In 1961 it was followed by the first manned space flight of the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. As a result, the Soviet Union established itself as a world leader in science and technology.

These indisputable achievements were admired all over the world and served to heighten further Khrushchevs personal prestige. They also seemed to have reinforced Khrushchevs Marxist-Leninist fundamentalist beliefs.

Khrushchev was the last Soviet leader who was a product of the revolutionary epoch and retained some of its epic fervor. He never was a profound ideologist or a deep theoretician, and his faith in communism was perhaps naive and simplistic. His idea of communism was akin to the traditional peasant dream of having enough to live in comfort. For the first time since the NEP of the 1920s, he pursued policies designed to appeal to Soviet consumers. The rapid construction of prefabricated buildings, for example, enabled millions of Soviet families to move from hostels and communal flats into tiny but separate apartments.

Yuri Gagarin. By M. Ananiev

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Soviet Russia

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