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The New Party Program

"Gorbachev Factor"

Khrushchev’s vision of a workers’ state was reflected in the adoption of a new party program in 1961. It summed up the party’s achievements and outlined highly ambitious plans for the future. They envisaged that the Soviet Union would catch up and overtake the United States economically by 1970, and within twenty years (by 1980) the USSR would become a Communist society:  


In the current decade (1961–1970) the Soviet Union, in creating the material and technical basis of communism, will surpass the strongest and richest capitalist country, the USA, in production per head of population; the people’s standards of living and their cultural and technical standards will improve substantially; everyone will live in easy circumstances; all collectives and state farms will become highly productive and profitable enterprises; the demand of Soviet people for well-appointed housing will, in the main, be satisfied; hard physical work will disappear; the USSR will have the shortest working day.

The material and technical basis of communism will be built up by the end of the second decade (1971–1980), ensuring an abundance of material and cultural values for the whole population; Soviet society will come close to a stage where it can introduce the principle of distribution according to needs, and there will be a gradual transition to one form of ownership—public ownership. Thus, a Communist society will in the main be built in the USSR.


The new party program committed Soviet leadership to the promise that the next generation of Soviet people would live under communism. Khrushchev thus opened himself to bitter criticism as the economic problems in the final years of his period in power made clear that these utopian goals could not be achieved. His revolutionary ardor encountered growing skepticism and derision, reflected in many popular jokes:


President John Kennedy comes to God and says: “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?” “Fifty years,” replies God. Kennedy weeps and leaves. Charles de Gaulle comes to God and says: “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?” “A hundred years,” replies God. De Gaulle weeps and leaves. Khrushchev comes to God and says: “Tell me, God, how many years before my people will be happy?” God weeps and leaves.

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Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

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