Hardly a week passes without one or more Soviet commentators, scholars, or political leaders invoking the New Economic Policy (the NEP) of the 1920s as the legitimate socialist precursor of the reforms currently taking place in the USSR. Early in 1989, at a round-table discussion hosted by the editors of Moscow News, Lev Karpinsky, Georgii Kunitsyn, and Yurii Goland characterized the NEP as "the first peres troika, a radical socioeconomic reform." 1 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev himself has not only sharply contrasted the NEP with the Stalin period, the 1930s and 1940s, but also with "the period of stagnation," as the Brezhnev years are now pejoratively labeled. 2 All this talk of the NEP has to do with the meaning of Stalin and the Stalin period for the future of socialism; both the leadership and the reformist intelligentsia in the USSR seek to save Soviet socialism from Stalin and to locate a purer, more humane, and more high-minded experiment in the politics, society, economy, and culture of the 1920s.