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Soviet System Slow to Change

December 29, 1985

Roy Medvedev in "From Their Man in Moscow" (Opinion, Dec. 22) presents a sincere attempt to address those problems which currently affect both the United States and the Soviet Union regarding arms control. However, Medvedev errs in his presumptions about those changes which are presently occurring in the Soviet Unon and in his views of what are the major "defects" in each sociopolitical system.

To assume that a change in the personal composition of power in the Soviet Union, without a significant change in the organizational framework of both the economy and political structure, would enable the Soviet Union to rectify its present stagnated state is unfounded. The bureaucratic nature of a command economy and its inability to transmit information in a horizontal fashion almost certifies that inefficiency and waste will be its main products. Likewise, the hierarchical nature of the Soviets' political system guarantees a perpetuation of an entrenched ruling class. Finally, Medvedev's conclusion that a socialist ideology and growing morale exists is frequently negated by witnessing an expansive underground economy and protests against human rights violations.

Medvedev states that the major defect in American society is that the manufacture of nuclear missile-weapons is connected to many people with private commercial interests who have a stake in their continued production. On the other hand, Medvedev defines the major defect in Soviet Union as its Authoritarianism and declares that his country is without a military-industrial complex. Taken literally, Medvedev is correct. However, upon closer inspection, one could easily repudiate his claim by acknowledging that a military-industrial complex of a Western nature is impossible in the Soviet Union simply because the military and economy are an intertwined entity under "public ownership" by the government. Likewise, this relationship is that much more dangerous when one realizes that those checks and balances within a democratic government are so blatantly absent in the Soviet Union.

These criticisms do not necessarily imply that an arms reduction is impossible. They merely point out that misconceptions towards one's own country are frequently the result of a myopic view toward one's country and its institutions.

EFF SLOMANN

Berkeley

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