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Field case as a factor in Soviet collapse

Posted by Hugh F. on July 06, 2000 at 16:00:27:

At the end of the "Chronology and Historical Context" page on this website, a number of questions are asked. They are changed slightly by combining them into the following, but the resulting question remains interesting:

How much was the fall of the Soviet Union due to:

o Pre-soviet peasant society
o Seizure of power by a minority
o Rigid dogma
o Flawed ideology
o Stalin's perversion of power
o World War II
o Economic exhaustion from the cold war
o Glasnost

A superficial answer is: all of these. But ironically, what is not on this list is the postwar spy trials (except perhaps in the reference to Stalin), although that is what the Field case is all about.

The following quote is from a review in the Internet Review of Books, Vol. 1, no. 3, May 1999 of a book called "Making Capitalism Without Capitalists -- the new ruling elites in eastern Europe". The book argues that dissidents and Soviet technocrats both became disenchanted with the Soviet system and hastened its demise. The reviewer remarks that the economic burdens of the cold war and "Star Wars" were also major factors, and adds the following:

"One does not have to become subject to Stalinist paranoia to be aware that the collapse of Communism is rooted not so much in the post-Stalin years, but in the purges in the time before Stalin's death, which can be traced back to an American agent, Jozef Swiatlo, deputy director of Department Ten of the Polish Bezpiecka, who "leaked" evidence which brought to the gallows party leaders like Laszlo Rajk in Hungary and Rudolph Slansky in Czechoslovakia."

If the reviewer is correct, the Field case, which more or less started and ended with Swiatlo and was a key to the above spy trials, is a more significant episode in the cold war than is generally recognized.

(The review can be found at

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