In Search of "Friendship": Energy Policy, Trade, and Varieties of Socialism in the Soviet Bloc, 1872-1984

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2020

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“In Search of Friendship” attempts to set straight the confounding record on Russian oil in the twentieth century. Engaging a rich literature centered on questions of national energy dependency, a broad term denoting fraught reliance on potentially scarce fuel supplies, the dissertation poses alternative questions of energy transition, or changes in the state of a given energy system. These questions include the following: Why did the Soviet government neglect its oil industry for more than two decades after coming to power? How did that same government then manage to transform its oil industry into a global leader within less than a decade during the Cold War? And how did it manage to mobilize the material resources, political will, and technical know-how to build the world’s longest oil pipeline, which they named “Druzhba,” the Russian word for friendship? Traditionally, scholars have answered these questions by arguing that the Soviet government repurposed tried-and-true tools of central economic planning as circumstances demanded, changing its underlying economic system little in the process. Applying a business history approach, “In Search of Friendship” counters this narrative by bringing the socialist firm to the center of its analysis to create a narrative of dynamic if ultimately unsuccessful change and innovation. In short, it supplant a story of what one historian has called “history’s cruel tricks” with another story of “best laid plans gone awry.” In the process, it draws heavily on material from more than a dozen historical repositories in Russia, including the State Archive of the Russian Federation, the Russian State Archive of the Economy, and the National Archive of the Republic of Tatarstan.

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Cinq-Mars, Tom Jay (2020). In Search of "Friendship": Energy Policy, Trade, and Varieties of Socialism in the Soviet Bloc, 1872-1984. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/21532.

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