The USSR under Brezhnev, Kosygin and whoever might come after them, is and almost certainly will continue to be in a highly unstable condition, according to Mr. Conquest. Russia and her satellites are seething with desires for liberalization, freedom of expression, and individual rights. Yet even under Khrushchev, the machinery of suppression perfected by Stalin remained quite intact; and if overt, meaningful changes are going to occur, it will not be without ""a tough political struggle."" The author has focused his scrutiny of possibilities upon the actual political apparatus, but larger considerations, significantly the so-far insoluble economic problems, also come under review. He feels certain that the present bureaucratic oligarchy cannot continue indefinitely because, without constructive dissent, it is too difficult to formulate acceptable, practicable programs. Moreover, the one-party system has inevitably lost touch with the people, with talent, and with reality. As he sees it, an atmosphere comparable to pre-revolutionary France (or Russia) prevails, ""and this is a heartening prospect""-- provided one keeps a properly informed perspective and provided it comes out right in the end. A provocative study.