Howie Chodos howie at magi.com
Mon Jun 12 22:03:52 MDT 1995

Scott Marshall wrote:

>Justin you haven't a clue. I hate to get into this again because it's
>pointless with true believers like you who certainly won't let the
>actualities of working people's lives get in the way of their 'profound
>analysis', but I just returned from California where I met with some folks
>from the former Soviet Union. You have to hear the horrors first hand. And
>you know Justin, it's *your* government that is most responsible for the
>horror. Anyone who can celebrate, as you often do on this list, the collapse
>of the SU just hasn't a clue about what socialism, with all it's problems,
>meant to the average working person. Try going over there and telling the
>millions who are hungry for the first time in their lives, the millions who
>have no pension, the thousands now newly homeless, without health care,
>without child care etc etc etc, that they're beter off now because their's
>wasn't a 'true' democracy as defined by Justine.
>As to your above quote on democracy in the US v. democracy in SU, only the
>most self deluded true believer could swallow this piece of hysterical

Something about pots, kettles and the colour black springs to mind here.

There is no doubt that the "socialism" which existed in the USSR was
"better" than what currently exists. Two points, though. Where does one
begin one's chain of causality? Does one attribute the "success" of the
system to its underlying dynamic or is its collapse its most revealing
feature? Second, by the same token that one argues that what existed
previously is better than what is now transpiring, so too must one rate
fully-developed Western capitalism as better than the chaos which currently
prevails. That doesn't mean that we support it, or think that it is a good

I have no doubt that on this Justin is right and Scott wrong. Only a true
believer can glorify a system which collapsed of its own incapacity to
change. The one point of difference that I have with Justin is that his
"celebration" of the collapse of the Soviet system, even though he is
careful to specify that this is only when looked at in the long term, can be
mistaken for a celebration of what has happened to the peoples of those
countries. Recognizing the severity of the contradictions of Soviet-stye
societies, and the distance which separates their form of social
organization from anything that I am inclined to call socialist, does not
mean that it was a good thing that they collapsed in the way that they did.

Howie Chodos

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