Russia: Better Things for Better Living Through Chemistry?

"Utopians think that science can transform the Atlantic Ocean into lemonade," snorted Karl Marx's coworker, Friedrich Engels. Yet who should be serving up lemonade last week than that old realist Nikita Khrushchev. In the Kremlin's marble-hailed Palace of the Congresses, addressing the Communist Party Central Committee and more than 5,000 other comrades, Nikita promised that one great force would miraculously straighten out the Soviet economic mess: Big Chemistry.

Between 1964 and 1970, Khrushchev announced, the regime will spend $46 billion to expand the Soviet chemical industry—about the same amount that now...

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