Military Review

Pragmatist Mikoyan

Pragmatist MikoyanFifty years ago, on December 9 of 1965, Anastas Ivanovich (Avanesovich) Mikoyan (1895 – 1978) was relieved of his duties as Chairman of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet. It was a major Soviet party-statesman.

He took an active part in the Bolshevik movement in the Caucasus, headed the underground Baku Party Committee, then the Baku Bureau of the Caucasian Territorial Committee of the RCP (b). In Russia, Mikoyan headed the Nizhny Novgorod Provincial Committee and served as secretary of the South-Eastern Bureau of the Central Committee of the RCP (Rostov-on-Don). In 1924 – 1926, Mikoyan was the secretary of the North Caucasus Regional Committee. Then he began his career in government. He heads the Commissariat of Commerce, Foreign Trade, Supply and Food Industry. Mikoyan reached the peak of his career under N.S. Khrushchev when he became first deputy chairman of the Council of Ministers. Short period (1964 – 1965 years) Mikoyan was the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Council. In 1935 – 1965, Anastas Ivanovich was a member of the Political Bureau (Presidium) of the Central Committee.

1. Pragmatists time

A mocking saying about Mikoyan spread: “From Ilyich to Ilyich without a heart attack and paralysis.” However, under the second Illich, Mikoyan remained on the political Olympus for a short time. He was killed by the “kindness”: when Khrushchev was shot, he stood up for Nikita Sergeevich, proposing to leave him the post of chairman of the Council of Ministers for at least a year. As a result, the defender himself lost his position, which, however, was left in the Central Committee.

Mikoyan was not at all so politically impersonal as they sometimes try to imagine. He, of course, knew a lot about maneuvering and conformism, but he had his own views, which he could, in his own way, inherent in his cautious manner, defend.
It should be noted that Mikoyan was a staunch pragmatist and technocrat. It is difficult to say whether he left after the turbulent events of the Civil War something, let's say, revolutionary-Bolshevik. Obviously, the NEP, with its focus on restoring a normal life, demanded that functionaries cool down their ardor and focus on solving practical problems. Here you can cite the example of F.E. Dzerzhinsky, who, having headed the Supreme Council of the National Economy (VSNH), became an absolutely moderate politician and a staunch technocrat. But more recently, he was one of the leaders of the “Left Communists” and even allied with LD Trotsky.

Then there was industrialization, which, despite all its leftist excesses, also demanded pragmatism and technocratism. This, in one way or another, differed leaders, rallied around I.V. Stalin. They paid tribute to ideology, but it still stood in second place for them, if not in third place. And this, probably, first of all concerns Mikoyan, who was engaged in the most “narrow-minded” affairs - trade, food industry, supply. “Abstract” issues of building socialism, he preferred such pressing issues as the establishment of the production of ice cream or the introduction of “fish days”.

On the one hand, such pragmatism advantageously distinguished Stalin's functionaries from fanatics and leftist-type talkers who brought the country many troubles (collectivization and 1937 were actually a bloody relapse of the left years of the first years of Soviet power). On the other hand, a weak interest in the theory threatened the existence of the USSR. After all, it was an ideocratic state that relied on a planned and conscious transformation of reality. If a course for the construction of communism was chosen, then it was necessary to “draw” it, otherwise only formality would turn out. And, by the way, that is why empty dogmatizers, “the scribes of communism” (in the words of VI Lenin) turned out to be in such honor. They were very beneficial to the “stubborn” pragmatists, since they did not require any serious movement in any direction, but provided an opportunity to get rid of empty “priestly” spells. In the finished form, such a symbiosis was formed in 1970-s, and it was personified by its “pragmatist” union L.I. Brezhnev and the "ideologist" MA Suslova.

Stalin was very worried about this situation, and at the very end of his life he tried precisely to “draw” the direction forward — by solving the most important theoretical questions. The result of his thoughts was the work "The Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR", published in 1952 year. In this collection of articles (on the basis of which a textbook on political economy was written in 1954), the leader proposed to make a certain qualitative leap.

Stalin planned an information revolution, during which the amount of working time should be reduced to 5 – 6 hours, due to which every citizen could get a higher education.
In economic terms, attention was drawn to the need for the all-out growth of social production and the transition to direct product exchange.

2. "Silence" Mikoyan

The latter measure, as was evident, assumed a substantial curtailment of commodity-money relations in the country. Part of the party-state leadership (if not the majority) saw this as an indication to begin the transition to product exchange immediately. And especially it is hurt, apparently, was the "merchant" Mikoyan. He recalls his impression of reading the pamphlet Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR. “After reading it, I was surprised: it stated that the stage of commodity turnover in the economy had exhausted itself, that it was necessary to proceed to the product exchange between town and country. It was an incredibly leftist bend. I explained it to the fact that Stalin apparently planned to build communism in our country during his life, which, of course, was an unreal thing. ” ("It was").

Meanwhile, it’s not at all from the text of the work itself that Stalin proposed to speed up the process: “Secondly, it is necessary, through gradual transitions carried out for the benefit of collective farms and, consequently, for the whole society, to raise collective farm property to the level of public property circulation is also replaced by a system of product exchange through gradual transitions, so that the central government or any other socio-economic center can cover all products of social production in the public interest. ”

As you can see, Stalin speaks of a gradual transition, and even in the plural. It turns out that Mikoyan did not understand what he read, he drew attention to the very demand for a transition to product exchange, which startled and angered him. He himself did not even think about moving forward somewhere and making significant changes. He was more concerned with the optimization of the existing “socialist” commodity-money relations and their state regulation.

Stalin tried to arrange a discussion with his colleagues about his work, as Mikoyan recalls. “Once at the Stalin’s dacha, members of the Politburo sat and spoke about this book. Beria and Malenkov began to actively praise the book, understanding that Stalin was waiting for this. I don't think they thought this book was correct. As the subsequent party policy after Stalin’s death showed, they did not agree at all with Stalin’s allegations. And it is not by chance that after everything fell into place. Molotov seemed to be moaning in support, but in such terms he was so vague that it was clear: he was not convinced of the correctness of Stalin’s thoughts.

I was silent. Shortly thereafter, in the Kremlin’s corridor, we walked with Stalin, and he said with such a wicked grin: “You kept your mouth shut, showed no interest in the book. You, of course, cling to your trade, to trade. ”
I replied to Stalin: “You yourself taught us that it is impossible to hurry and jump from stage to stage and that trade and trade will long be a medium of exchange in a socialist society. I really doubt that now is the time for the transition to product exchange. ” He said: "Oh, so! You fell behind! Now is the time! ”An evil note sounded in his voice. He knew that I understood these questions more than anyone else, and he was displeased that I did not support him. Somehow after this conversation with Stalin, I asked Molotov: "Do you think that it is time to move from trade to product exchange?" He answered me that it was a difficult and controversial question, that is, he expressed his disagreement. "

Obviously, this is how it was in general. Someone got off with empty, but enthusiastic responses, someone tried to keep silent. The debate, which insisted on Stalin, did not happen. And the “pragmatist” Mikoyan understood everything in his own way, in fact, refusing to even discuss the issue of switching to direct product exchange. At the XIX Party Congress (October 1952), he will speak with praise for “Economic Problems” (which he himself writes in his memoirs), but this will already be a simple tribute to loyalty.

3. Soft opal

However, Stalin already doubted this loyalty, and very strongly. After the congress, a plenary session of the Central Committee was held (October 15), at which the composition of the Bureau of the Presidium of the Central Committee was read. It was a new body, created instead of the former Politburo. If the PB included 11 members, the Presidium already had 25 (more 11, instead of one, became candidates). By the way, Mikoyan himself writes that he reacted to this innovation with caution: "With such a broad composition of the presidium, if necessary, the disappearance of members of the presidium disliked by Stalin would not be so noticeable." Historian Yu.V. Yemelyanov characterized this assumption as follows: “This remark by Mikoyan completely ignored the realities of that time. The “disappearance” of such figures of the Soviet country as Molotov, Mikoyan, Voroshilov, Kaganovich, Malenkov, Beria, whose portraits were in all Soviet institutions, after which cities, collective farms, factories, which were sung in songs and poems, could not pass "unnoticed." ("Stalin. At the pinnacle of power").

It is believed that the creation of a broader collegial body (16 new members) was an attempt to carry out large-scale rotation of personnel. It is clear that this could not help but alert the entire old guard, including Mikoyan. He himself was already under suspicion, and he, like V.M. Molotov was not included in the structure of a “narrower” body - the Bureau of the Presidium of the Central Committee. Moreover, Stalin considered it necessary to explain to the participants of the Plenum — why such a decision was made. Mikoyan recalls: “Starting from Molotov, he said that he was pursuing the wrong policy with respect to the Western imperialist countries, America and England. In negotiations with them, he violated the Politburo’s line and made concessions, coming under pressure from these countries. “In general,” he said, “Molotov and Mikoyan, both of them who were in America, returned from there under the great impression of the power of the American economy. I know that both Molotov and Mikoyan are both brave people, but apparently they were afraid of the overwhelming power that they saw in America. It’s a fact that Molotov and Mikoyan behind the Politburo’s back sent a directive to our ambassador in Washington with serious concessions to the Americans in the upcoming talks. Lozovsky, who is known to have been exposed as a traitor and an enemy of the people, also participated in this case. ”

It is clear that Stalin "revenged" Mikoyan and Molotov for their position during the discussion of his work "The Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR." But he was not alarmed by this. Both close associates did allow some “pirouettes” before the West.
During the war, Molotov, being a people's commissar of foreign affairs, declared that representatives of the United States and Britain would be able to visit Warsaw. Stalin was against it, and he forced the Commissar to refuse this invitation. After the victory, Molotov promised the foreign media a restriction of censorship, which also met Stalin’s rejection. But especially the leader was outraged by the publication (with Molotov’s sanction) of W. Churchill’s speech on 9 of September of 1945 of the year, despite the fact that Stalin himself was magnified in it. He expressed his attitude to this: “I consider it a mistake to publish Churchill’s speech with praise to Russia and Stalin. Praise is what Churchill needs in order to calm his unclean conscience and disguise his hostility towards the USSR. ”

Mikoyan alerted Stalin with his position on the "Marshall Plan." As you know, the so-called “Europe Recovery Program”, which US Secretary of State JK promoted in 1947, was called so. Marshall Within its framework, the United States carried out a large-scale financial injection into the European countries that are in post-war devastation. And it seems that aid was gratuitous, but the United States pursued its own economic and political benefit. American funds, given to European countries, were used to purchase American goods. That is, the "money" for the most part returned to the States. At the same time, the European market itself was under the control of the Americans, who managed to sell a lot of “unnecessary” goods. In political terms, everything was even worse. European countries were given quite tough conditions - for example, to remove European Communist Party leaders from post-war coalition governments. In addition, the States insisted on the curtailment of nationalization, etc.

At first, the Soviet government fully allowed the adoption of the Marshall Plan. His supporter was Molotov, but he believed that the plan was acceptable only as a kind of second edition of Lend-Lease. However, in the United States categorically denied any parallels with the Lend-Lease. So, this position was categorically stated by US Undersecretary of State William Clayton in talks with British leaders 25 June 1947. It turned out that the United States wanted to establish political and economic control over the USSR, and this was unacceptable for Moscow.

But for Mikoyan, the political aspect, apparently, did not mean that much. His son, Sergo Mikoyan, recalls: “Father persuaded Stalin to accept the proposal to join him (talking about the Marshall Plan)! ... My father argued that the levers of power are firmly in the hands of Moscow, and economic recovery will accelerate, the position of the people will improve much faster, and this is the most important thing. But still Stalin's last word was “no” ... ”. (“Paradoxical Fate” // Vestnik.Ru).

Mikoyan's “naivety” was very clearly manifested here, if only such a word is applicable to such people. He thought, first of all, about the economic result, losing sight of the possible political risks.
“The levers of power are firmly in the hands of Moscow,” which means that everything is in order, you can not worry about anything. In the meantime, it would be worthwhile only to begin to use the "gratuitous" finances of the West, how quickly the "addictive" addiction would come. And then it would be possible to make political demands - at first insignificant, and then very large-scale ones. Obviously, this “naivety” of Mikoyan, Stalin, was irritating and alarming. Well, and when this “episode” superimposed on the position taken in relation to product exchange, this resulted in disgrace - Mikoyan was not allowed to go to the top of the party hierarchy, in the Bureau of the Presidium of the Central Committee. True, it must be said that this disgrace was rather soft - with A. A. Kuznetsov and the whole "Leningrad group" they acted much more rigidly.

4. Companion of the new leader

Probably, after Stalin's death, Mikoyan sighed with relief. But he still continued to behave very carefully, because it was not clear who would take up. When they decided what to do with Beria, Mikoyan admitted his guilt, but at the same time expressed the hope that “having lost confidence” Lavrenty Pavlovich “would take into account the criticism”. Mikoyan was not in a hurry with the support of de-Stalinization, which Khrushchev started.

When the Presidium of the Central Committee discussed the issue of “exposing the personality cult”, he took a neutral position - neither for nor against. But then something became clear to him, and at the XX congress itself, Anastas Ivanovich, before the Khrushchev report, criticized the “cult”, albeit just in case, without naming the person himself.

At the same time, it is necessary to think, with special pleasure he “kicked” the “Economic problems” so hated by him.

Moreover, it should be noted that Mikoyan took an active part in the organization of repressions (as well as Khruschev's “whistleblower”), despite his, seemingly quite “peaceful” status.
He sanctioned and even initiated the arrest of hundreds of employees of the Commissariat for Foreign Trade and Food Industry. In 1937, Mikoyan traveled to the Armenian SSR to “clean up” local personnel. He also headed the commission on charges of counter-revolution of prominent party members and was co-rapporteur of the People's Commissar of Internal Affairs N.I. Yezhov at the February-March plenum of the Central Committee (1937 year) in the case of N.I. Bukharin. And for some reason it was he who was entrusted to speak on behalf of the Politburo of the Central Committee at the solemn active of the NKVD, dedicated to the twentieth anniversary of the "organs".

But then 1957 came on the year, and Khrushchev was tried by the anti-party group (VM ​​Molotov, GM Malenkov, LM Kaganovich). And then Anastas Ivanovich did not hesitate any more and resolutely spoke in support of Khrushchev. After that, he becomes his closest ally.

After the death of Stalin, Mikoyan is trying to realize himself in the field of foreign policy. And here he takes a rather liberal position with respect to Eastern European countries. When the performances began in Hungary and Poland in 1956, Anastas Ivanovich doubted the expediency of using the troops. He believed that local countries themselves should deal with their problems. Most likely, it seemed to him less troublesome and more effective to stop pushing on political levers, resting on the economy.

In principle, he was opposed to using Soviet troops in Hungary. True, the Soviet leadership also hesitated on this issue (Molotov took a tough stance). As you know, the troops still used, but if there weren’t all these fluctuations, much less blood would have been shed. And about the need to resolve the issue ourselves, then everything is very ambiguous. Poland was given this opportunity, and it quite successfully settled everything on its own, without dismantling socialism. But Hungary was subjected to a powerful external impact, primarily from the United States. Western intelligence services acted there extremely brazenly, not disdaining to actively use openly fascist gangs. In fact, this was tantamount to occupation. Therefore, the “Hungarian question” had to be solved with the help of the Soviet tanks.

Mikoyan made a very big mistake, clearly overestimating the possibilities of the Hungarian leadership. Together with M.A. Suslov, he arrived in Hungary 24 October, and from there they gave largely incorrect information. So, it was reported that the local leadership too high opinion of their opponents, while "all the centers of the rebels suppressed, is the elimination of the main focus on the radio station, where about 4 thousands of people." In the future, Mikoyan and Suslov were forced to state a sharp deterioration in the situation. But even 30 of October, on the eve of their return to Moscow, they reported to the Kremlin that they still did not have a final point of view on the current situation. This is, of course, a terrific example of a lack of political will (albeit in one particular “episode”), which was a consequence of “liberalism”.

And Mikoyan, who was chiefly in a pair and therefore carried the main responsibility, this very liberalism, of course, flowed out of its superpragmatism.
A.I. Mikoyan was the most characteristic representative of the stratum of party-state technocrats generated by industrial modernization. Their vigor, efficiency and asceticism contributed a lot to the rise of the country. However, their narrow pragmatism impeded further modernization. In the face of continuing western expansion, he led to compromises, often unjustified, and an attempt to solve many complex problems by “importing” (in the broadest sense) from the West. At first it was the import of goods, then it was time to import ideas and models.
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  1. venaya
    venaya 13 December 2015 05: 40
    Interesting, informative article, thanks to the author. I didn’t know that Mikoyan took such an active part in the Hungarian events, earlier he believed that only then the young Y. Andropov, being the ambassador to Hungary, had exclusive and personal responsibility both for the development and for the whole process of continuing this very difficult situation for our country with the Hungarian crisis.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 13 December 2015 09: 29
    Mikoyan was not at all as politically impersonal as they sometimes try to imagine.... hesitated along with the party line .. Without irony ...
  3. Jatviag
    Jatviag 13 December 2015 09: 31
    From Ilyich to Ilyich, without a heart attack and paralysis.
  4. moskowit
    moskowit 13 December 2015 11: 54
    I remember in the lobby of the Izyaslav House of Officers the hefty portraits of the triumvirate who replaced Nikita Sergeevich. But this time from the biography of Anastas Ivanovich somehow dropped out. I do not know why. In December 1965, he was replaced by Podgorny, and soon the role of Mikoyan began to be forgotten and obscured. And then the short period of his "presidency" was completely forgotten ... Unfortunately ...
  5. Yukon
    Yukon 13 December 2015 13: 56
    The article once again proves how Stalin excelled as a geopolitician and statesman his subordinates, who then surrendered (betrayed) him.
  6. motorized rifle
    motorized rifle 13 December 2015 20: 03
    Anastas Ivanovich, why are you leaving without an umbrella? Rain on the street. -Nothing, nothing. I'm between the trickles ....
  7. Butchcassidy
    Butchcassidy 15 December 2015 08: 30
    The article is not bad, the question of the personality of Mikoyan himself, like any party leader of those years, cannot be described in tones of the same color. At the same time, Mikoyan did a lot of good, including in his beloved brainchild - economics, production, light industry. Also enormous was his role in resolving the Caribbean crisis (it is very strange that the author did not even mention this).

    As for participation in the "purges" - the time was like that. They could have easily "cleaned up" themselves.

    About a year ago, a monument to A. Mikoyan was erected in Yerevan, which caused a storm of discussions in Armenian society, opponents of the installation of the monument just remembered Mikoyan’s participation in the repression.
    But the monuments are put up for memory, not praise. You need to remember your story and know it the way it was. And let the monuments - albeit to Lenin - stand.

    Whoever remembers the past is out of his sight, and whoever forgets it is both
  8. LPD17
    LPD17 22 December 2015 22: 24
    IVS, by the way, his yesterday's birthday, this portal did not even remember, he did not tolerate idlers, ignoramuses and lazy people around him. So the fact that Anastas Ivanovich entered the "inner circle" says a lot.