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In Memoriam: Stanislav Mikhailovich Menshikov

Russian Economist
Sought Dialogue with U.S.A.,
Even in Perilous Times

by Rachel Douglas

December 2014

This article appears in the December 12, 2014 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[PDF version of this article]

Professor Stanislav Menshikov (1927-2014), the distinguished Russian economist and expert on the United States, died Nov. 13, 2014 in Amsterdam, where he lived. He was 87.

Stanislav Menshikov was one of the most energetic, colorful, and knowledgeable participants in Soviet-American relations during the height of the Cold War, and in Russian-American relations thereafter. He was friends with such advisors to President John F. Kennedy as Michael Forrestal and John Kenneth Galbraith, and interacted with a range of U.S. establishment figures, including David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Known by insiders in both countries as uncompromising on matters of principle, Menshikov was always keenly interested in an open and substantial dialogue with Americans. In the 1980s, he became familiar to a wider U.S. public, as a frequent guest, representing Soviet viewpoints, on TV programs hosted by David Brinkley, Ted Koppel, and others. His role in disputes over economic policy within the Soviet Union at that time is less well-known, but of lasting importance.

We at EIR are privileged to have known Professor Menshikov as a personal friend of Lyndon LaRouche and Helga Zepp-LaRouche for 15 years, and a participant in many EIR seminars and Schiller Institute conferences in Europe. In this activity, he not only spoke for himself, but served as Europe-based liaison for a Russian Academy of Sciences grouping around the late Academician Dmitri S. Lvov. Menshikov and Lvov co-chaired the NGO Economists against the Arms Race (ECAAR), founded in 1989.

The English edition of Menshikov's book, The Anatomy of Russian Capitalism, was translated by this author and brought out by EIR in 2007. In May of that year, Menshikov hosted LaRouche as a guest of honor at his 80th birthday celebration, held at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow; in September 2007, he and his wife, the economist Larisa Klimenko-Menshikova, in turn, were honored guests at LaRouche's 85th birthday celebration, held in conjunction with that month's Kiedrich, Germany conference of the Schiller Institute, "The Eurasian Land-Bridge Becomes Reality!"

A 20th-Century Soviet Diplomat's Education

Menshikov was fluent in English since his childhood in London, where his father, Mikhail A. Menshikov, headed the Anglo-Russian Cooperative Society (ARCOS) trade office, 1930-36. In Stanislav Menshikov's memoirs, he recalled that the first time he got into trouble, out of many such times during his long life, was as a schoolboy, when he refused to sing "Rule, Britannia!" in class.[1]

The senior Menshikov went on to serve as Soviet deputy minister, and later minister, of foreign trade; Washington-based deputy head of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) (1943-46); Soviet Ambassador to India (1953-57), and to the United States (1958-January 1962). Stanislav Menshikov reported that he learned from his father always to speak with foreigners, including Americans, as an equal.

Menshikov recalled digging defense works around the city of Moscow in his early teens, at the outbreak of World War II. At 16 years of age, he entered what was soon to be the Foreign Ministry's university, the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), finishing as a member of its first graduating class in 1948. Two of the projects that he undertook there convey the depth of historical study that would inform his future work.

As a second-year student, he was recruited by a Soviet Foreign Ministry economics official to an English-to-Russian translation team, working to translate a book on the economic relations between international cartels, including leading Wall Street firms, and Nazi Germany. Even more striking, is Menshikov's report of his fourth-year thesis at MGIMO, a study of "The British Crown Prerogatives." Though it was never published and is evidently not extant, Menshikov recalled about this paper,

"Usually the role of the British monarch is viewed as negligible in determining the country's policy.... In reality, the British Crown is a carefully npreserved institution of supreme state power, something like a collective head of state.... The British Monarch, to this day, remains one of the main political figures of the Western world."

Despite his top-notch training and his father's status, no swift career rise was in store for Menshikov. From 1953 until 1957, he had the black mark of a formal "severe reprimand" on his record, because of a teenage friendship with the son of a Georgian Communist who had been declared an "enemy of the people." Menshikov had been interrogated on the matter at secret police headquarters in 1944.

Menshikov worked first as an instructor at MGIMO, then as an international journalist and economics analyst at the Soviet weekly New Times, which was published in a dozen languages and distributed worldwide. In that capacity, he traveled to Asia in 1960 in the entourage of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchov; Menshikov interviewed Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru of India and President Sukarno of Indonesia, two nation-building giants who were then in the process of forming the Non-Aligned Movement.

Millionaires and Managers

As he increasingly concentrated on economics, Menshikov's doctoral dissertation was an in-depth study of who ran the American economy. Research for his first post-graduate degree had focused on U.S. agriculture and the grain trade, while his first visit to the United States came in 1958, as a personal guest of his father, the Ambassador. Now Menshikov combined scrupulous gridding of the U.S. corporate sector, with a 1962 stint under an IREX (International Research & Exchanges Board) exchange program. He interviewed many of the subjects of his research and developed personal contacts with a wide array of other Americans.

The resulting book, Millionaires and Managers: The Structure of the Financial Oligarchy in the USA (1966), was one of the many instances in which Menshikov brought fresh approaches to understanding the U.S.A., into discussions inside the Soviet Union. At his May 2007 birthday celebration, one speaker after another mentioned Millionaires and Managers as an eye-opener that had changed their view of the world.

Later, Menshikov again shook the community of Communist Party economists and strategists, with his publication in Russian of works by J.K. Galbraith, the former New Deal economist and JFK advisor. In 1988, Galbraith and Menshikov would co-author a remarkable volume, about which Antony Papert wrote in EIR:[2]

"Immediately before the Great Crash of October 1987, the late, venerable John Kenneth Galbraith of Harvard sought out Menshikov, whom he called 'a remarkably informed scholar,' for ten days of discussion in Vermont. The transcript was published simultaneously in the Soviet Union and the U.S., under the title, Capitalism, Communism and Coexistence. Galbraith, quondam economic advisor to Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy, spoke for both Menshikov and himself when he wrote there, 'But it was not our purpose, ... to score points in our conversations. We did not see them as a debate which either of us won or lost. We saw them rather as a contribution to the larger victory which equally we hope to share.'

"Vast and sudden world-political changes which few then foresaw (LaRouche one of those few), have cleanly split the past 20-year period into two parts. And so, on one level, the terms of Galbraith's and Menshikov's 1987 exchange might appear to be obsolete. What a surprise how very current and relevant much of it is! Galbraith, for example, noted there that the U.S. economy had had 25 good years from 1945 to 1970, but 'the good fortune didn't continue.' He at first blamed this on the replacement of his generation of economists by 'a younger and less able generation,' but then immediately turned around to try to claim that this explanation had only been a joke.

"Galbraith indicted monetarism and the shift to a services economy, for weakening our real wealth-producing industries, such as steel and automobiles. As for trade unions, 'instead of winning wage increases, they have to negotiate give-backs.' Menshikov, for his part, stressed the need to find new sources of natural resources to maintain a growing world population. He countered ignorant popular prejudices on modern U.S.-Russian relations by noting that Russia was consuming fully 40% of all U.S. machinery exports during some periods of the 1930s.

"The reason for the excellence of their discussions was that each man was at once an able patriot of his own nation and 'system,' while simultaneously dedicated to what Galbraith, in his dedication to The Affluent Society, called 'the ultimate aims of man.'

"For Menshikov, what this means to me is that he is one of the best exemplars of the best of the Russian intelligentsia. Since at least some time in the 18th Century, the best of the Russian intellectuals have combined an unyielding compassion and a powerful underlying optimism, on the one hand, with that readiness to look without blinking and without consoling illusions, into the very face of the most unimaginable horrors,-the same readiness as one finds in a competent military commander. All this in a peculiarly Russian manner.

"I have tried to explain to myself these qualities of the Russian intelligentsia, by trying to conceive of that awful sense of responsibility, before God and man, of each one of a mere tiny handful of educated persons, amidst the sea of illiteracy and ignorance which was Russia before the effects of the 1918 revolution.

"In any case, this is Stanislav Menshikov."

Perestroika: Crossing Swords with Andropov and Gorbachov

Menshikov continued to get into trouble, being yanked from an official position on more than one occasion. In 1986, he was booted from the Communist Party Central Committee staff, as he relates in his memoirs, for crossing the interests of other officials. He worked at the Institute of the World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO), rising to the post of deputy director; at the Academy's Novosibirsk outpost; and on the United Nations economics staff, overseeing Wassily Leontief's project to model development processes worldwide, in the 1970s. He wrote for New Times, Pravda, and the Prague-based Problems of Peace and Socialism, and contributed guest commentaries to The New York Times and other Western press. In the post-Soviet period, Menshikov taught at universities in Europe, notably the Erasmus Rotterdam University and its Tinbergen Institute.

The well-known former Pravda journalist and Middle East expert Georgi Mirsky, in 2007, described Menshikov as a "flying creature," who worked all over the world, and always shared his talent. "You could never catch up with Menshikov," he said.

Professor Menshikov was blocked from election to the Russian Academy of Sciences, at least partly, as his memoirs convey the matter, for failing to be anybody's toady. Behind the scenes, principled issues of great moment were at the heart of two political fights, one at IMEMO, and one within the Communist Party, involving his opposition to what would soon be the clique around Andropov and then Gorbachov, described by LaRouche as London's "agents of influence," who took over the Soviet leadership after the death of L.I. Brezhnev in 1982.

That year, 1982, Menshikov was in the running to head up IMEMO. Alexander N. Yakovlev, later known as the architect of Gorbachov's perestroika policy, beat him out for the post. In 1983, Yakovlev formed a group that included Academician Georgi Arbatov and the journalist Alexander Bovin, to draft a new Communist Party program for incoming General Secretary Yuri Andropov. Menshikov published a scathing critique of their document, warning that the economic liberalization measures they proposed would make the Soviet Union "capitalist" in a way fraught with great danger, because they ignored the scope and growth potential of the criminal sector of the economy, already then.

Raising a toast to Menshikov on his 80th birthday, the late Academician Alexander Granberg alluded to the historic nature of these incidents:

"In science, Menshikov is already immortal. Actually, Stanislav could have contributed even more to science and society, had there been demand for it. After Menshikov was recalled from the United Nations, the system of long-range forecasting there went into decline.... As for Russia, ... we lost out, because Stanislav Mikhailovich's recommendations were not heeded 20 or 30 years ago, or 10 years ago."

Academician Sergei Glazyev said, on the same occasion, that Menshikov had always "gotten people to think." He congratulated his accomplishments, which he said Menshikov had done "with love of his country, and the confidence to live according to his own mind." Unlike some younger people, who get stuck in virtual reality, Glazyev said, Menshikov had always been reality-oriented, and, together with his willingness to look reality in the eye, he had provided in Russia and elsewhere a tremendous charge of optimism.

Stanislav Menshikov is survived by his wife, Larisa Klimenko-Menshikova, his son Ivan, and daughters Yekaterina and Tatyana. He was predeceased by his first wife, the economist Marina A. Menshikova, in 1979. His obituary in the Russian weekly Rossiyskiye Vesti was signed by four Academicians of the Russian Academy of Sciences, including former Prime Minister Yevgeni Primakov and current Presidential advisor Glazyev; the famous diplomat Valentin Falin; and other prominent economists and journalists of several generations.

[1] Stanislav Menshikov, O vremeni i o sebe (About Our Time and About Myself), (Moscow: Mezhdunarodnyye Otnosheniya, 2007), in Russian only.

[2] Antony Papert, "Russia's 1991-2001 Descent into Hell," EIR, Dec. 21, 2007.