During the Brezhnev era, poor old Mr Brezhnev apparently consumed an annoyingly large amount of Soviet and in particular KGB man hours trying to get various of his minions to answer for him the question: "Who runs capitalism?" Presumably so that they could take him/her/it out, in some way or another, and score a cheap and quick victory in the Cold War … Or, maybe the idea was for Brezhnev then to able to sit down with this controlling mastermind, and to ask him/her/it: "How can we do it?" … it could well have been both. First find out how they do it, then kill or enslave them all, starting where it makes most sense, with whoever is in charge.
As it was a basic tenet of the faith that there was an amoral Wall street cabal operating behind the scenes controlling everything, I suppose the story is possibly true, at least to some extent.
Too many idiots in the West still believe that kind of stupidity, still.
There is a story of Kruzchev's visit to New York, during which he staged the infamous shoe pounding display at the UN. Reportedly, he was stunned by the volume of traffic he could see on the streets of Manhatten, and convinced that President Kennedy had ordered all the cars in the US to come to New York for that week, just to impress him. It was impossible to convince him otherwise, apparently, and he recalled several intelligience people from their posts in NY for failing to uncover this plot and warn him about it.
In a discussion about language with my Russian wife to be, the topic of the French Academy and its Russian equivalent was raised. When she asked me about the equivalent English organisation, she flatly refused to believe me when I said there was no body charged with the legal authority to control and regulate the language. She couldn't comprehend that a language could maintain itself without such controllers. And this from someone who spoke seven languages, including perfect English and who had already been living in London for six years. The idea of the need for control can run very deep.
In uni I heard a great a great story about some high-up Soviet economic functionary who was taken on a tour of one of the public markets in London. He spent an hour walking around the place and looking at the stalls, and then asked his hosts "How are prices set at this market?" The hosts then went into a little lecture: there are no set prices, the free market, competition, supply and demand, etc. After listening to their speech, the Soviet guy smiled indulgently, waved his hand dismissively and said "Gentlemen, I know this is the official line, but tell me: How are the prices set at this market?" Even late into the perestroika era, many Soviet economic planners with economics degrees had never seriously studied the free market and had no theoretical or practical grasp of these principles. It was more convenient for them to assume that all this "free market" talk was just a cover for a planned economic system much like the one they were familiar with.
In re the last one, one just has to listen to the ignorant statments about how "the Bushies lowered the price of gasoline just before the election" to know that such ignorance wasn't confined to the Russian Soviets.