Freitag, Januar 26, 2007

Soviet Revisionism

This has got to be one of the most absurd revisionist themes out there. Here is the money quote:

The widespread perception that the USSR collapsed because its economic system was intrinsically flawed needs to be reassessed. During the periods when it had unrestricted access to cutting edge production-related knowledge and machinery, in the 1930s (mainly from the USA) and from 1945 to the late 1950s (from defeated Germany), the Soviet Union developed at a stunning rate. And contrary to what was promised, the reintroduction of capitalism in the former Soviet Union led to a smaller economic cake, shared out more unequally.

The number of errors here is manifold.

First: any country can grow rapidly over a set period of time if all you do is throw resources at a problem: what the SovUnion couldn't do was to a) maintain economic development and b) develop a self-sustaining economy that met the needs of its peoples. Outside of that, everything was fine!

Second: the failure of the economic system of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not a failure of external events, of the denial of access to world markets for technology and capital, but first and foremost a systematic error, an error of planning and expecting that reality would conform to the plan.

These kind of historical revisionists - the author of the above piece takes his ideas from here - are those desperately in need of finding that there was nothing wrong with socialism.

Nothing wrong.

That it had to build walls to keep its peoples in.

That it had to use terror to keep its people "motivated" to apply their entire lives for a radical utopia.

That it tread with heavy boots on people's rights and aspirations to be free, demanding absolute servitude.

That it oppressed more thoroughly than any other authoritarian government ever has and hopefully ever will.

That it confused a plan with reality.

That it misunderstood human nature and confused it with a "New Model Man".

That it rewarded ideologically acceptable incompetency and thoroughly punished independent action.

The second link above is convinced that it was the effects of an "economic" cold war that denied the SovUnion the tools that it should have rightfully had in order to compete effectively. The weakness in the development of living standards was the result not of incompetent planning and the obsessive need to have an enormous military, but rather because the mean old nasty capitalists wouldn't let the nice, peace-loving Soviets have all the cutting edge technology.


You see, economics, even in the SovUnion, has always been the study of how one deals with limited resources.

The SovUnion didn't collapse because they didn't have enough resources: it collapsed because the ruling vanguard of the revolutionary elite, the Central Committee of the Communist Party, made the wrong decisions about where to allocate resources. They did so because they were paranoid, and they were paranoid because they saw the world as nothing less than class struggle, a struggle where if they did not destroy the capitalist West, they themselves would fail to fulfill the historical imperative that socialism must obtain the upper hand in the course of historical development.

The writer of the second article goes on to quote a bunch of statistics - as made up as most Soviet statistics were - and shows how much progress was made for the average Soviet citizen. The problem is in how that progress was measured: giving everyone refrigerators is all fine and dandy, but if the food spoils because the refrigerator doesn't work or if the refrigerator is empty because there is no food available, then the improvement is not only made meaningless, but there is a negative value to be placed on it. The greatest complaints in the SovUnion was the misallocation of resources, resulting in socks being delivered when the stores needed winter coats, and winter coats being delivered when the stores needed fresh vegetables.

If you don't get the fundamentals right, nothing else matters.

The revisionism goes further: in Mulholland's eyes, the reason that the SovUnion collapsed was because of the abandonment of the planned economy, since the Soviets didn't understand how capitalism works and the SovUnion became a kleptocracy.

As if it wasn't before hand?

Idiots. The invisible hand is mightier than the Socialist plan.

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