Well, yes….

Robert Mugabe’s Wife Says he Could Run in Election ‘As a Corpse’

There’s a rather large number of people who wish he would too.

At which point an interesting question. Is there anyone at all who has managed such economic catastrophe to be visited upon a country in the absence of a shooting war?

Suppose it depends upon whether you think Pol Pot was an outcome of a war or not, that sort of thing. But Mugabe has managed to achieve worse results than even Stalin. Is this a record?

46 comments on “Well, yes….

  1. Stalin may have killed a quarter of the population of Russia. Maybe more. I don’t think Mugabe has gone that far yet.

    Also I suspect Stalin may have inflicted greater economic damage.

  2. I’m talking of economic damage. And, ignoring opportunity cost. Russia was richer after Stalin than before, although nowhere near as much as it should have been. Mugabe has actually regressed the place.

  3. Russia may have had more tractors after Uncle Joe but richer? By what metric? I suppose they had more to eat than his Ukrainian victims.

  4. The Kims? Reading about the famine they had, you wouldn’t think it was once richer than its neighbour.

  5. Tim Worstall – “I’m talking of economic damage. And, ignoring opportunity cost. Russia was richer after Stalin than before, although nowhere near as much as it should have been. Mugabe has actually regressed the place.”

    I think that killing a quarter of the population will probably have an economic impact. Also look at the collapse of Soviet industry under War Communism – before Stalin was in charge admittedly. The agricultural economy collapsed again during Collectivisation and then again during WW2.

    Was Russia richer when Stalin died? Khrushchev did not think so. He said that it was easier to get a house, much less a bigger house, when he was a young man – before the Revolution.

    Between 1906 and 1919 Russia produced an average of 518 kilograms of grain per capita. In 1946 they produced 235. I don’t think they ever produced as much as 518 kg until well after Stalin died.

  6. Nyerere in Tanzania certainly did economic damage to the country. Amin and Obote in Uganda were more bloodthirsty but also ruined their countries. But Mugabe is in a class of his own. Chavez and Castro might be comparable.

  7. Does it matter? Pol Pot, Mugabe, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Hitler etc This is what socialism does. It’s what they all have in common.

    I don’t know why you’re suprised.

  8. Great country and lovely people. I spent 6 months teaching in their School of Signals in Bulawayo straight after independence integrating the various factions.

    I’d have gone to live there permanently if the writing hadn’t been on the wall right from the start.

    Stalin started with a wealthier country than Pol Pot so economically must have been worse even taking in to account opportunity cost?

  9. India when under Company rule ( 1757-1857 ) has to be a contender, if we take out the profits of the East India Company.

  10. “India when under Company rule ( 1757-1857 ) has to be a contender, if we take out the profits of the East India Company.”

    Presumably unknowable. Net, did they stop wars or start them?
    Did they encourage Indian manufacture and trade or bugger it up? (Presumably Indian cotton manufacture would have been undercut by Lancs, EIC or no.) Trains and drains, more honest administration than they’d otherwise have had? Were their profits larger or smaller than the looting of India by the Moguls?

  11. Russia may have had more tractors after Uncle Joe but richer? By what metric?

    The Soviet Union industrialised massively under Stalin, and saw millions of peasants move from decrepit huts in the countryside which they shared with their animals into shoddy apartment blocks they lived in five to a room – but at least they were windproof and had running water and electric light. It was this urbanisation and industrialisation that Stalin needed the Ukrainians’ grain to support, hence he took it from them and they starved.

    Not that the industrialisation and urbanisation could not have happened in far, far better ways and I’m not excusing anything the Soviets did…but there were some improvements, and at the time they were important ones (of course, the opinions of the dead don’t count). There were good reasons why, post WWII, Western countries were genuinely worried their populations could turn to Communism and demand what the Soviets were getting (at least, those who were still alive). The clothes slipped by the ’60s and ’70s, but in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s the West didn’t *appear* to be much further ahead, if at all.

  12. Khrushchev did not think so. He said that it was easier to get a house, much less a bigger house, when he was a young man – before the Revolution.

    Khrushchev was doing rather well for himself before the Revolution. I’d not take his experience as typical.

  13. TN, not sure how well he was doing, do you have a source? From wiki

    Khrushchev was born in the village of Kalinovka in 1894, close to the present-day border between Russia and Ukraine. He was employed as a metalworker in his youth, and during the Russian Civil War was a political commissar. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin’s purges, and approved thousands of arrests

  14. To his credit Mugabe achieved ethnic cleansing without his henchmen murdering a couple of score whites.

    He may be a Marxist but the economy went straight from market capitalism to redistribution among pals without any intervening socialist phase.

  15. Witchie,

    I wonder what the UK would be like today if it hadn’t suffered from the emigration of skilled workers since WWII. Both in terms of economic output and population size.

    If the UK had had 70 years of fiscal conservatism I doubt we would be 15 million people and $500bn+ behind Germany.

  16. Sorry Gareth,

    It was intended to be more humorous than factual. However, without the losses of WW1 – financial as well as manpower – we might have been better off, although Germany would undoubtedly have beaten France as well as knocked Russia for 6. The EU would have been imposed in 1916. Italy, despite a dislike for Austria, wouldn’t have been with the Allies France and Russia.

    There would have been no Nazis, no Fascists and the Second war would have been Europe v Russia. Turkey, with Ataturk, would have joined the EU, and probably a defeated Russia too. Together they would control the Middle Eastern oilfields. There would be no Israel. …

    Or something else might have happened. Who knows?

  17. He was actually doing quite well for the first 15 years or so. If he’d been assassinated in the late 90s he probably would have gone down as one of the most successful postcolonial African leaders.

    Utterly destroying a country that rich in resources and human capital in 10-15 years must be some kind of record.

  18. TN, not sure how well he was doing, do you have a source?

    Yes, William Taubman’s biography of Khrushchev goes into considerable detail on this point. He moved to Yuzovka, now Donetsk, and proved to be a dab hand at fixing mechanical stuff and ran his own business doing this. He built himself a motorbike/scooter thing and rode around town on it, and bought a nice, terraces house and wore quite fancy clothes. According to Taubman he was something of a yuppie. When the Revolution beckoned, he abandoned all that and became a union agitator. I can highly recommend Taubman’s book, it is fascinating.

  19. Talking of corpses, Tony Blair has apparently risen from the dead and wants to save us from the vote we were to ignorant to understand and didn’t really mean. The bloke doesn’t seem to understand that he is one of the most hated people in the UK. Any thing he puts his name to is guaranteed to fail, something to do with him being the biggest cunt in modern UK politics. I won’t cry when Mugabe shuffles off this mortal coil, in fact I’ll raise a glass of Moët, but I won’t give any more of a shit about Blair passing than I did when Ted Heath drew his last useless breath.

  20. I wouldn’t say I’ll dance on Blair’s grave. But I’d certainly advocate pouring a 6ft reinforced concrete slab on top. Just to be sure.

  21. TN, thanks. Taubman is given as a source for the wiki article but does not convey the same impression of what he was doing in his 20s until he became a political commissar. He sounds more like a Red Robbo industrial agitator than an entrepreneur

  22. He sounds more like a Red Robbo industrial agitator than an entrepreneur

    He was an opportunist, no principles whatsoever. When the political winds started to change, so did he.

  23. “Robert Mugabe’s Wife Says he Could Run in Election ‘As a Corpse’”

    And would win.

    “At which point an interesting question. Is there anyone at all who has managed such economic catastrophe to be visited upon a country in the absence of a shooting war?”

    The ‘leaders’ of the EU and European Commission comes to mind. Although they have screwed up a group of Countries, Uncle Bob only managed to screw up one.

  24. @ML, I met a Zimbabwean once who reckoned it all went OK until he married his latest wife. Perhaps the lady is concerned that other Zimbabweans might share that opinion.

  25. @BiS

    Posterity cannot compare
    With such a grave as this:
    Here lie the bones of Tony Blair:
    Stop, traveller, and piss.

    (Rubbishly adapted from Byron on Castlereagh)

  26. Chris Miller +10×10 raised to the power of a googleplex squared- and repeat the operation a googleplex number of times.

  27. @Mr Ecks [bows humbly]

    There’s a far more appropriate epitaph that requires no mucking up by me. Just after the end of WW1, Kipling wrote a series of short verses called “Epitaphs of the Great War”. He had lost his own son, Jack (if you can read “My Boy Jack” with no trace of tears starting, you’ve failed the Turing test) having ‘pulled strings’ to secure him a commission, even though he was medically unfit due to terrible eyesight. I give you his:

    A DEAD STATESMAN
    I could not dig: I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?

  28. If that statesman hadn’t lied to please “the mob” they’d have got another. There’s no hypocrisy quite like a democracy – the people vote for and get the government they want, then find out they didn’t want it after all.

  29. Bongo – “India when under Company rule ( 1757-1857 ) has to be a contender, if we take out the profits of the East India Company.”

    No it doesn’t. British India grew – slowly admittedly – under British rule.

  30. Tim Newman – “The Soviet Union industrialised massively under Stalin, and saw millions of peasants move from decrepit huts in the countryside which they shared with their animals into shoddy apartment blocks they lived in five to a room – but at least they were windproof and had running water and electric light.”

    It is not production that makes a country rich but consumption. Stalin produced a lot of steel and with it he produced more tanks than the rest of the world combined. At any one time the USSR always had more tanks than the rest of the world combined – even in 1941. Which did nothing for the living standards of the Soviet people. What they cannot eat does not make them rich.

    Stalin also did not build much housing. In 1950 there were supposedly still Soviet workers living in holes in the ground. The big shoddy apartment blocks you see in Russia are Khrushchev’s. He crammed workers from the countryside into pre-existing buildings most of the time. Five families to an apartment. Communal bathrooms and kitchens. As basic as you could get. This is not a sign of high living standards. Living in clean, well ventilated peasant huts was probably better for all concerned.

    “There were good reasons why, post WWII, Western countries were genuinely worried their populations could turn to Communism and demand what the Soviets were getting (at least, those who were still alive).”

    Sure. Because the Soviets lied about what the Soviets were getting. Not because the Soviets were getting a lot. Soviet workers were getting about half the meat that African American slaves were for instance. The response of anyone from the West who actually spent time in Russia among ordinary people was that they did not want Stalinism.

    “The clothes slipped by the ’60s and ’70s, but in the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s the West didn’t *appear* to be much further ahead, if at all.”

    Says who?

    Tim Newman – “Khrushchev was doing rather well for himself before the Revolution. I’d not take his experience as typical.”

    I would. He seems to have thought it was. He was not talking about his experience anyway but that of young people in general.

    Tim Newman – “He was an opportunist, no principles whatsoever. When the political winds started to change, so did he.”

    That may be true – but once he was in power he did try to improve life for Soviet citizens. He did try to give them houses. And when the Soviet crop failed, he did not let them starve as Stalin did. He imported Western food. He chose butter over guns which makes him a much better person than Stalin.

  31. And as for the Virgin Soil Program? We all make mistakes. . And, unfortunately, some are calamitous and you lose your job

  32. Surely Owen Jones has written a Guardian article proving what an economic paradise is Zimbabwe and what vile capitalist frauds are you lot?

    All of you are revanchist bourgeois running dog counter-revolutionaries. For shame.

  33. Matthew Parris wrote a “what I did in my holidays” piece for The Times about what a lovely place Zimbabwe was for tourists.

  34. Stalin also did not build much housing. In 1950 there were supposedly still Soviet workers living in holes in the ground. The big shoddy apartment blocks you see in Russia are Khrushchev’s.

    No mate, you’re talking to somebody who has lived in Stalin apartments, Khrushchev apartments, and Brezhnev apartments and can tell them apart from the outside and what they look like on the inside. Stalin ordered massive apartment blocks built in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, they’re still there today and highly sought after because they’re considered the best and most spacious of all Soviet housing. Stalin also got the Moscow Metro built, although it was actually Khrushchev who was in charge of the construction.

    In 1950 there were supposedly still Soviet workers living in holes in the ground.

    There were people living in wooden shacks in Sakhalin when I was there in 2006-10.

    Five families to an apartment. Communal bathrooms and kitchens. As basic as you could get. This is not a sign of high living standards. Living in clean, well ventilated peasant huts was probably better for all concerned.

    It wasn’t: I’ve asked Russians about this very point. “Well ventilated” in Russia is not a good thing.

    Sure. Because the Soviets lied about what the Soviets were getting.

    Indeed.

    I would. He seems to have thought it was.

    Having read a lot about the man, the last person you would trust as an authority on Khrushchev’s early years is Khrushchev. His whole “Ukrainian son-of-the-soil” shtick was based on nothing, for example.

    That may be true – but once he was in power he did try to improve life for Soviet citizens. He did try to give them houses. And when the Soviet crop failed, he did not let them starve as Stalin did. He imported Western food. He chose butter over guns which makes him a much better person than Stalin.

    Indeed.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.