A Struggle for the Soviet Future: The Birth of Scientific Forecasting in the Soviet Union
forthcoming in Slavic Review, 2016
This article introduces the history of Soviet scientific future studies after World War II, discussing in detail the foundational debates among Gosplan economists in 1966 and providing a new perspective on the work of the most famous promoter of Soviet social forecasting, Igor’ Bestuzhev-Lada. It argues that the theory and methods of scientific future studies undermined the utopian certainty of the Communist future and made it clear that Soviet governmentality had to acknowledge the intrinsic uncertainty of future development. The emphasis on uncertainty, but also the need for more data which would be freely circulated across different branches, and hence more transparency, called for radical revisions of Soviet notions of effective governance. Whereas some used future studies to criticize the actual practices of Soviet economic planning, others used this new type of expertise to extend personal influence and accumulate organizational power. Both cases, however, made it clear that Soviet governance had to accommodate the shift to new constellations of power/knowledge in which scientific experts would play an ever increasing role in shaping policy with regard to a fundamentally uncertain future.
“Internal Transfer of Cybernetics and Informality in the Soviet Union: The Case of Lithuania”.
Autio-Sarasmo, S. & Miklossy, K.(eds) Reassessing Cold War Europe. London & New York: Routledge, 2011, pp.119-137.
“The Politics of Governance in an Authoritarian Regime: Hybridization and Purification of Cybernetics in the Soviet Union”.
Archiv fur Sozialgeschichte, 50 (2010): pp.289-309.