I don’t think so Larry, no

But the problems went deeper. The Soviet Union came to grief because of a lack of trust. The economy delivered only for a small, privileged elite who had access to imported western goods. What started with the best of intentions in 1917 ended tarnished by corruption. The Soviet Union was eaten away from within.

If that were so then all of the different communist regimes would have had some variance in their outcomes, as they did not all suffer from the same levels of corruption. The fact that all of the communist regimes suffered the same fate, complete and total economic collapse, or the complete absence of anything that resembles an economy developing where they had not inherited an economy, tells us that there was something more fundamentally flawed about the plan.

Like, planning is a bad way to run an economy.

34 thoughts on “I don’t think so Larry, no”

  1. Was the corruption mostly high or low level?

    My impression is the later, at least until the whole place completely disintegrated. But then maybe I am drawing on stereotypical images of the fartsovshchik and so on, and don’t enough about whether the provincial governors and mid level officials were as corrupt as, say, China had started developing a reputation for.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    TW is too nice to this sh!t’s historic revisionism:

    What started with the best of intentions in 1917 ended tarnished by corruption.

    Best of intentions? Lenin gave up music because it made him feel warm and fuzzy. He was a man who taught himself to be a psychopath. The Communist experiment was born in blood and it continued to live off the lives of the innocent until it collapsed in sloth and indolence. If anything was truly Satanic, the USSR was the spawn of the Devil.

    As it turned out, the end of the cold war was not unbridled good news for the citizens of the west. For a large part of the postwar era, the Soviet Union was seen as a real threat and even in the 1980s there was little inkling that it would disappear so quickly. A powerful country with a rival ideology and a strong military acted as a restraint on the west. The fear that workers could “go red” meant they had to be kept happy. The proceeds of growth were shared. Welfare benefits were generous. Investment in public infrastructure was high.

    So he is not just a lying sh!t, he is a treasonable lying sh!t. This is just the logic the Atomic spies used to give the USSR bomb secrets.

  3. He’s got one thing right though in detecting UKIP’s tendency towards protectionism and old leftyism. What other buttons are UKIP going to press if they want to be popular?

  4. ‘What started with the best of intentions in 1917’

    Hmmm – executing a man and his family is ‘starting with the best of intentions’.

    I suppose you can’t ruin an omelette without breaking eggs.

  5. @Interested

    ” suppose you can’t ruin an omelette without breaking eggs.”

    But as GK Chesterton said at the time (and I cannot remember whether it was HG Wells or GBS who came up with that quote): “That’s all very well, but where’s the omelette?”

  6. You can’t make an omelette without confiscating all the eggs, shooting anyone who owned more than one egg, letting most of the confiscated eggs rot in a warehouse somewhere and deporting whole populations for wondering where all the eggs went.

  7. The idea that the Bolsheviks started with the “Best of Intentions” or some-such is nonsense. These people had murder in their heart from the get-go.

    Even ardent free marketeers like to say that a lot of collectivists are “well meaning”, and so on, but a cursory glance at the horrors of previous collectivistic projects (such as France in the immediate period post-1789) should have taught anyone with above room temp IQ that these utopian projects that involve a powerful state do not end well. The murderous techniques used by Lenin and his chums were plenty of warning, long before Uncle Joe seriously cranked up the body count.

  8. I have asked many, many people living in the former USSR whether they thought it was better before or now. To a man, with zero exceptions, all have said it is better now.

    And in case anyone thinks I only asked the wealthy “winners” of the post-Soviet chaos, two weeks ago I was in a rural Uzbek village in south Kazakhstan, a proper peasant setup with no inside toilet, outdoor kitchen, sleeping on the floor, everyone eating horse, etc. An Uzbek man of about 50 with a row of gold teeth told me, without any prompting or even being on the subject at the time, that despite the material deprivations that they witnessed in the 1990s and continue to this day, the fact that they can go where they want and work how they want makes the present day situation overwhelmingly preferable.

    So if the USSR doesn’t even have the support of Uzbek peasant villagers, what excuse anyone in the west?

  9. “I have asked many, many people living in the former USSR whether they thought it was better before or now. To a man, with zero exceptions, all have said it is better now.”

    You will find a lot of support among Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian Russians.

  10. Support for the old USSR that is. I know many who say it was better before. They feel that Russia is not given due respect in international affairs these days and a lot support Putin.

  11. Belarus and Transnistria both have a bizarre hankering for a return to Soviet times.

    I did like the Charles OJ piece, better than most “X reasons why” articles.

  12. Latvian and Lithuanian Russians were imported by the soviets to ensure their dominance. Hardly a surprise they don’t like it those countries now belong to the natives again.

  13. You will find a lot of support among Ukrainian, Latvian, Lithuanian Russians.

    I’ve not found that either, TBH. And yes, I asked lots of them*. They do say they preferred how the government in Moscow was viewed/treated/respected in the days of the USSR. But none has said they thought overall things were better: the freedom to travel and buy things seems to trump everything else. I have heard there are old school commies who yearn for the days of the USSR, but I’ve never met them.

    *Good friend of mine is an Estonian Russian, can’t stand Estonia or Estonians. Would probably prefer she’d fallen on the Russian side of the border, but even so, has no desire to return to the days of the USSR.

  14. Charles OJ,

    Good read, that, thanks.

    It’s a shame, though, that the idea that the USSR simply collapsed due to bad economics has taken such a hold. Yes, the bad economics crippled the place, but the arms race forced the issue, and who knows how long the nightmare might have stumbled on without being forced to spend money competing militarily with Capitalism. Crucially, just after the Soviets had completed construction of complete radar coverage of the entire USSR — one of the most expensive single defense projects they’d ever undertaken, which they could barely afford — the USA unveiled the Stealth Bomber, rendering the entire radar network obsolete overnight. At that point, they had a choice between making the network stealth-proof by adding roughly three to four times as many radar towers as they’d just built — which they absolutely could not afford to do — or admitting they’d lost the arms race. Or lying, of course, but I like to imagine the Americans would have simply flown over Moscow and broadcast the footage.

  15. @Recusant

    “But as GK Chesterton said at the time (and I cannot remember whether it was HG Wells or GBS who came up with that quote): “That’s all very well, but where’s the omelette?””

    Precisely why I said you can’t *ruin* an omelette!

  16. “The economy delivered only for a small, privileged elite who had access to imported western goods.”

    No.

    The economy didn’t deliver, full stop.

    The elite made damn sure they had access to what the Western economy delivered.

  17. SQ2

    Surely the Soviets gave up because they couldn’t afford a viable nuclear deterrent. By 1990 the US solid fuel Minuteman/Trident force was second strike, whereas the Soviet liquid fuel S-18/19 force was not.
    The B-2 was a minor threat, although it must have depressed the Soviets to see how much money the US could chuck at a marginal weapons system.

  18. We are seeing here an attempt by the Left to rewrite history (again). I’m 43, and anyone much under my age will have little concept of the Cold War, what was at stake, and how and why it ended. Thus articles like this , which are appearing more and more regularly, are there to ‘re-educate’ the younger sections of society. They didn’t live through it, so they can be spoon fed whatever version of history the Left want them to here without any chance of anyone demurring. Us oldies are given up as a lost cause – the Left will wait for us to die and in the mean time sow a pack of lies about why the USSR collapsed into the minds of the young.

  19. “They do say they preferred how the government in Moscow was viewed/treated/respected in the days of the USSR. But none has said they thought overall things were better: the freedom to travel and buy things seems to trump everything else”

    Can’t say I’ve experience that among many of the ones I have met. Some were recently considering going off to Ukraine to join the war on the side of Russia.

  20. General hope seems to be that Putin restores the old system. They talk seriously about life being better for their parents generation under communism.

  21. India was cursed with corruption by Nehru because he depressed civil service salaries below the living wage (which in India was not that high) so officials relied on bribes to live on. One could describe most Indian bribes as fees to carry out their duties but corruption became endemic and has remained a frightening problem. Yet India did not collapse.

  22. +1 to Charles OJ, great article.

    “Surely the Soviets gave up because they couldn’t afford a viable nuclear deterrent. ”

    For accurately they couldn’t afford an anti-nuclear system. When Ronnie “Ray-Gun” Reagan announced SDI, the game was up, a loophole in the ABM Treaty exposed and something they could not compete with, it was not that their deterrent was no longer affordable, it was that it was rendered obsolete as a deterrent.

  23. Aye, right. Somebody has a trace of an SDI component working as planned?

    Whereas the Sov ABM system around Moscow drove us to Chevaline and the Yanks to replace Poseidon with Trident 1 (C4).

  24. General hope seems to be that Putin restores the old system. They talk seriously about life being better for their parents generation under communism.

    They should ask their parents.

  25. So Much for Subtlety

    JeremyT – “Surely the Soviets gave up because they couldn’t afford a viable nuclear deterrent.”

    Actually for a tin-pot Third World country the Soviets did very well in building a nuclear deterrent. Their rockets were just as good if not better than the West’s. Which is why we all rely on Russian rocket engines these days. In many respects their rockets were actually better. Although they did invent a unique way of pressurising their larger rockets – you need to keep the pressure in the tanks at a certain level or they will collapse as their content is sucked out. So the Soviet scientists fed small amounts of fuel into the oxidiser tank and small amounts of oxidiser into the fuel tank. So you had a controlled burn *in*the*tank*.

    Not sure how well it would have worked in practice though.

    “By 1990 the US solid fuel Minuteman/Trident force was second strike, whereas the Soviet liquid fuel S-18/19 force was not.”

    The Soviets stuck to liquid fuelled rockets because they had no intention of launching a second strike. As any sane person knows, the only sensible use for nuclear weapons is a first strike. They did not need those rockets to deter after all. Who was going to invade them?

    “The B-2 was a minor threat, although it must have depressed the Soviets to see how much money the US could chuck at a marginal weapons system.”

    It does appear that Stealth drove the Soviets into fits. They invested so much in conventional AA defence and along come the Americans, using Soviet science what’s worse, and makes it all obsolete.

  26. SE,

    > Somebody has a trace of an SDI component working as planned?

    Doesn’t matter. It only matters whether the Soviets thought the Americans could do it. And we know from the accounts of defectors that they did.

    Jeremy,

    > Surely the Soviets gave up because they couldn’t afford a viable nuclear deterrent.

    I think we agree, then, that the arms race mattered, that it wasn’t just the economy collapsing all by itself.

    > The B-2 was a minor threat

    Not sure about that. It was designed to fly right into the USSR and destroy high-value targets.

    Anyway, no point us quibbling about how serious the threat of bombers actually was: regardless, the Soviets decided to address it, and address at humungous expense at that. And the B2 instantly destroyed the value of the project the moment it was finished.

  27. @Rancie B
    In 1990 the SDI was decades from operational deployment with a sufficiency of interceptors.
    @SE
    The US and UK MIRVd warheads were designed to exploit higher accuracy so as to maximize the area destroyed for a given throw weight. They don’t dodge ABMs, although they may saturate low-altitude ones. To neutralize ABMs you need the manoeuvrability of (say) the RS-24

  28. Charles OJ

    Absolutely fantastic – I’ve probably pointed out all of those individually to Murphy and Reed individually – but it’s excellent to have them all collated in one slot. Revisionism is how totalitarian philosophies like the Keft’s work. Creation of a false narrative, copious use of ad hominems and changing of common terminology – all tactics you will see employed in most Guardian articles…

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