Hayek, USSR, and All that...

Paul W. Cockshott cockshpw at wfu.edu
Tue Sep 27 09:59:11 MDT 1994

On Tue, 27 Sep 1994 SCIABRRC at ACFcluster.NYU.EDU wrote:

>      Just a very quick comment with regard to some of Paul
> Cockshott's observations.  Paul states that "The application
> of Hayekian doctrines to the former USSR is of course having
> effects a whole order of magnitude worse."
>      I would hardly qualify the former USSR as a victim of
> Hayekian doctrines, anymore than I would qualify the
> contemporary USA as a paradigm of Hayekian free markets.
> Hayek was no advocate of vulgar economism; like Marx, he
> fully recognized the vast, organic inter-relationships
> between economics, politics, culture, etc.  To qualify the
> USSR as even remotely Hayekian, it would have to embrace a
> system of private property, decentralized banking and
> finance, the free-flowing price mechanism, the rule of law to
> protect carefully delineated individual rights, and a CULTURE
> that is not anathema to material progress, entrepreneurial
> innovation, and voluntary cooperation amongst individuals.
> Hayek, like Marx, recognized that any change in material
> social conditions could not be brought about in the absence
> of a larger, more organic social change.
Chris's attitude to the counter revolution reminds me of that
of some leftists to the revolution. When it does not turn out
to be the utopia that they expect they claim that it was betrayed,
that it was not socialism etc. The project that Hayek and his
political followers have been following quite explicitly,
indeed that the austrian school has followed since Menger is one
of capitalist  reprise or counter revolution.
Well now you have your counter revolution, but the Russians
it seems are to uncultured for it to suceed, the same reason
given by western leftists for an alleged failure of the
Russian revolution in the 20's.

But I initially raised Britain as an instance of the deleterious
effects of Hayekian policies on all but the propertied classes.
Are we British also to uncultured to have benefited from
Hayeks advice, or is it just piss poor reactionary economics.

>      Paul also suggests that the Communist revolution was not
> "a terrible disaster," and he looks to "the millions of
> soviet workers who fought fascism to defend socialism" as one
> of the sparkling achievements of the Soviets.
>      First of all, I cannot believe, in this day and age,
> that ANYONE would find solace in that "revolution."

This just goes to show how isolated some academic marxists are from
the toiling masses of the world. It is all a matter of class viewpoint,
if you engage yourself on a day to day basis with the struggles of the
poor and oppressed your outlook changes.
Most proletarian activists are now in the third world. Go to India
or to Turkey or South Africa and you will find amoung the communists
there an attitude to the USSR and to Lenin and Stalin that may seem
incomprehensible to you, but is a perfectly understandable outcome
of a quite different life experience.

> The
> millions of soviet workers who fought fascism, were certainly
> not defending "socialism" in the "Marxian" sense; they were
> defending Stalinist-nationalist statism.  The Soviet
> experiment was MOST successful in building a military
> machine, and an internal network of terror.  Their economy
> was a shambles,

This economy which was apparently a shambles had during the 30s
the highest rate of economic growth ever attained by any country
for a comparable period. The construction of a powerful red army
that was able almost single handed to defeat the might of a fascist
europe bore testimony to that.

As I recall it was not until the 1970's that the US was able to
catch up with the Soviet rate of economic growth.

> their culture preserved many of the mystical
> elements of pre-Bolshevik Russia, and their politics has not
> been REMOTELY democratic or libertarian.
It was certainly not libertarian, but what revolutionary
dictatorship is?

Whether it was democratic depends what you mean by democracy. I use the word
in the Aristotelean sense of rule by the poor. In this, the original
sense of the world Stalinist Russia was closer to being a
democracy than any other state. Its political form was that of
a proletarian tyranny at a time when other states were either
plutocratic tyrannies like Germany or plutocratic oligarchies like
the USA.


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