Selected Works of Vsevolod Holubnychy


561 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-920862-18-7




Edited by Iwan S. Koropeckyj
Reviewed by J. Frank Harrison

J. Frank Harrison taught at St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia.


An emigré from the Ukraine, the author of this work was critical of Soviet policy as it has developed under the domination of the Russians (who today make up just under half of the Soviet population). As found here, it is not a strident criticism, but one contained within a balanced analysis of a mass of data. The nine essays reproduced here were written between the fifties and the seventies and are presented in memory of their author, who died in 1977. They are frequently very technical, in consequence of which the book will be well received only by those already familiar with Soviet development.

The first two essays are concerned with the Ukraine. We are given a detailed description of the peasant revolution there in 1917-1918, prior to its capture by the Bolsheviks. Thereafter, we are shown a Communist Party of the Ukraine which was dominated by outsiders, isolated from the starving population, using terror to enforce collectivization and grain requisitions, itself purged for any sign of failure or independence, becoming by 1938 “a party of managerial bureaucrats” (p. 109).

The next four essays are concerned with regional development in the USSR. The main conclusions are: 1) that “spatial efficiency” (the comparative advantage of resource allocation between different geographic areas) is not well served by Marxian economic theory; 2) that there is a great deal of political competition for available resources; 3) that past investment policies have not led to a greater equality between Soviet republics, favouring rather the RSFSR; 4) that economic regionalization and defence policy go hand in hand; and 5) that computers are seen as a possible means of retaining central control even with economic reforms aimed at promoting managerial initiatives.

The final three pieces examine aspects of Marxism and Marxist economics. Those interested in the complexities and possibilities involved when applying the labour theory of value in the modern Soviet environment will find satisfaction in the penultimate essay. There the ideas of the Soviet economist V.V. Novozhilov are examined in detail. The final piece is an assessment of the contribution of Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) to Marxist theory. Originally published in 1964, it correctly concluded that, in the ideological polemics between the USSR and China, a “point would be reached when both would declare that the other was no longer communist and revolutionary” (pp. 511-12). There is, therefore, rather more than a discussion of regional economics between these covers.


Holubnychy, Vsevolod, “Selected Works of Vsevolod Holubnychy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,