This month the Communist Party of the Soviet Union will adopt another Party program. Released as a draft in October 1985, this program constitutes a definitive statement of where the party is and where it is-headed on its path to the worker’s paradise. The Soviet Communist Party has had only three previous programs—in 1961, 1919, and 1905—so a new Party program in 1986 is a major development.

Why is there a new program now? Probably because the 1961 program is now an acute embarrassment. A remarkable example of inbred thinking by persons who have devoted their careers to a fanatic ideology, the 1961 program offered a blueprint for the perfectly communist society, and the masters of scientific socialism confidently predicted that in 1980 “a Communist society will, on the whole, be built in the USSR. The construction of Communist society will be fully completed in the subsequent period.” When will that be? “The Party solemnly proclaims: the present generation of Soviet people shall live under Communism.”

The 1961 program is full of measurable goals and timetables through the year 1980. Anyone attempting to assess how Soviet performance compares to Soviet promises ought to keep in mind an observance made by Nikita Khrushchev six years after his fall from power: “Having lived under Stalin, I tend to think that the figures for average yield which you read in the press these days reflect wishful thinking rather than reality. . . . I know some of these statistical experts. They’re the sort who can melt [expletive] into bullets.” Khrushchev’s remark makes the stark disparity between the 1961 goals and the official record of economic performance found in authoritative Soviet and American publications appear ever bleaker.

Steel production, an economic benchmark since the days of Stalin, was estimated in 1980 at 148 million metric tons as opposed to the plan which called for 250 million tons. Electrical power output was 1,295 billion kwh as opposed to the plan of 2,850 billion kwh. Agricultural production was only 45 percent of the goal.

By 1980 rent-free apartments were to be the norm, even for newlyweds, and these apartments were to conform with the “highest standards of hygiene and culture.” Even in 1985 an estimated 20 percent of Soviet urban families share their kitchens and bathrooms with nonrelated families. While comparatively inexpensive, housing is not free. The problem is that housing is unavailable. Along with free housing, the 1961 program called for free public transportation, midday meals at work, and day care for children. None of this has come to pass.

In 1961, Soviet planners were confident that by the end of the decade the Soviet Union would “surpass the strongest and richest capitalist country, the U.S.A., in production per head of population.” But in 1980, per capita production in the U.S. was still twice that attained in the Soviet Union. The Japanese, Germans, French, and British were also still far ahead of the Soviets in productivity. In agriculture, the Soviet plight is worse. Twenty percent of the Soviets are farmers compared to 3.5 percent of the Americans. A Soviet farmer feeds nine people; one American farmer feeds 65 people.

Soviet authorities are hard pressed to explain (or to explain away) their failures in productivity. Since the mid- 1960’s, the Soviets have spent an average of 30 percent of their GNP on economic investment, whereas the U.S. has spent only 16 to 18 percent. Yet it is the Soviets who are falling behind in economic growth: from 1976 to 1983 the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent while the Soviet economy grew at a rate of only 2.6 percent.

Apologists for the Soviet Union have, understandably, grown quiet about its economic performance. We must, they say, look at other indices of a superior society. After all, medicine, visits to the doctor, and hospital care are all free in the Soviet Union. But these benefits prove more apparent than real: the Soviets annually spend only 34 percent of what Americans do for health. The death rate in the Soviet Union in 1964 was 6.9 deaths per 1,000 but in 1980 it was 10.3. No other country in the developed world has experienced such a trend. Fifteen. years ago the average Soviet male lived 66 years; now the figure has dropped to 62 years. In the U.S. it is 71 years. In 1978, 51,000 persons died in the Soviet Union from alcoholism—100 times more than in the United States.

The Soviet infant mortality rate stands at 31 deaths per 1,000, whereas in the United States it is 12 per 1,000. Worse yet, in the Soviet Union the trend line in infant morality is going up. Why? Perhaps one reason is the high incidence of disease due to poor nutrition and lack of medical care. In 1979 there were 385,000 cases of measles compared to 14,000 in the United States. In 1979 there were 18,000 cases of typhoid, a disease virtually eliminated among American infants. A Soviet study conducted in the mid-1970’s found that 34 percent of infant mortalities were linked to rickets. In 1970, there were 180 abortions for every 1,000 women in the Soviet Union; in 1982 the comparable American figure was 47. It is estimated that the average woman in the Soviet Union submits to between five and eight abortions during her life. Undoubtedly, the high incidence of abortion has affected the infant mortality rate. So much for free medicine.

Since the capitalist countries of the world, according to the Soviets, have been in decline and the Marxist countries in the ascendance, one might expect that it would be possible for them to spend a bit less on the military. The Soviets generally spend about 12-14 percent of their GNP on the military, whereas we spend 4-6 percent. There are approximately 16 full-time military personnel in the Soviet Union for every 1,000 persons. In the U.S. the figure is nine. In fact, Marxist countries, in general, have more than twice the force ratios of non-Marxist countries. The 1961 Party program informs us that with “the disappearance of class antagonisms in the fraternal family of socialist countries, national antagonisms disappear.” And yet the Soviets have over 500,000 troops along the border of their socialist brother, China.

Mikhail Gorbachev’s newer version of the Party program provides few goals and timetables for the most part. It does state that the GNP will double and grow at an annual rate of 4.7 percent until the year 2000, and productivity will increase 230-250 percent. It is unlikely that these goals will be accomplished, given that the high rates of investment during the last eight years have produced only a meager 2.6 percent growth rate. The Soviets simply lack the money to invest more, and their labor pool is dwindling.

The problem of helping young Soviets achieve computer literacy also frustrates communist planners. Experts estimate that the Soviets are from five to 20 years behind the U.S. in the implementation of computer technology. To catch up would involve more than economic and technological development, though; it would require that Party officials relax their concern with the control of information—a most unlikely development.

Even on the hard left, it is difficult to find many who still champion a Soviet regime that currently holds an estimated 10,000 people in prison for political reasons. Two thousand of these prisoners are inmates in psychiatric hospitals for the criminally insane, administered by the state security officials of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Political “patients” in these prisons are surrounded by violent criminals and regularly given powerful neuroleptic drugs. For speaking out about these abuses, the Soviet psychiatrist Dr. Anatoly Koryagin was himself committed to such a hospital on charges of promulgating anti-Soviet propaganda. Exposure of Soviet perversion of psychiatric techniques forced the USSR to withdraw from the World Psychiatric Association or face certain expulsion.

In the 1960’s many people supposed that by sacrificing freedom the Marxist systems could develop faster than the free-market systems of the West. Third World nations especially were attracted to Marxism as the quickest road to economic development. In fact, the Soviet Union enjoys neither freedom nor economic success. It is a deformed society in which a small elite perpetuates its power by an overdeveloped capacity for brutal, naked force. As a political model it is obscene.