USSR and Russia

Scott Marshall Scott at
Wed Jun 14 21:39:10 MDT 1995


  Gorbachev's "perestroika" (restructuring along the
>lines of "market socialism") was **intended** to make the Soviet economy
>more efficient.

Scott: Yes before 1988, no after.

>3) And how did Gorbachev plan to get the necessary resources and funds
>for investment?  I believe that the record will show that he saw a arms
>control agreement with the US as critical for that purpose.
>Also, clearly Reagan-Bush **wanted** to destabilize the Soviet economy.
>Consequently, **part** of the failure of perestroika was made possible by
>US policy.

This is one sided if one does not also take into account that arms control
and an end to the arms race (peace) was a consistent policy of the SU and
the CPSU - Gorby didn't discover it or first apply it. It was not simply an
economic expediaent, but also basic socialist policy.

>5) For Gorbachev to convince Soviet workers to make the sacrifices
>necessary for restructuring, he had to **not only** increase consumption
>goods production.  He offered them another carrot as well -- glasnost
>(openness).  The **dynamic** of glasnost was the process that eventually
>led to the Soviet Union, quite literally, coming apart at the seams.
>Gorbachev must have thought that he could control the process of
>glasnost.  This was a **historic** miscalculation.  One must remember
>that Soviet workers, peasants, and nationalities had been brutally
>repressed by the Soviet state for over seventy years.  Only fear and
>repression had allowed the grievances of Soviet citizens to be held at

This is very speculative I think. There is a lot of dust to be settled here
before the real truth can emerge in my opinion. And one valid question is
was it a historic miscalulation or a simple calculation.

As to the brutally etc. for 70 years - Just as deadpan as your bald
assertion I say hogwash. In the worst days of Stalin the class and
nationalities had more political and economic freedom than any where else in
the world. Doesn't mean Stalin was good, but it does mean that knocking down
a onesided caricature is not very helpful in figuring out what was really

>7) The biggest movements for social change came from the non-Russian
>nations within the USSR.  Gorbachev **should have known** that, given the
>history of Russification and repression of non-Russian nationalities, it
>was only a matter of time before many of those nations demanded autonomy
>or independence.  They were not put off by Gorbachev's promises
>concerning a "new" USSR in which the rights of nations to
>self-determination would be respected.  Their historical experience
>suggested that the Soviet leadership and state could not be trusted.
>Once there was a move by these nations for independence, the downfall of
>the USSR was assured.  Of course, strikes by workers and resistance
>within the Party didn't help Gorbachev's restructuring either (which, in
>any case, turned out to be a failure).

Disregarding your simplistic and onesided 'nationalities' theory of counter
revolution, in fact Gorby's restructuring after 1988 was no such thing - it
became the destruction of the economic system with nothing to take it's
place. The rhetoric of 'market socialism' was just that empty rhetoric.
Distribution and exchange systems, credit and payment systems, accounting
and planning systems were willy nilly destroyed and *absolutly* nothing was
built or even much attempted in it's place.

>8) At the point when it appeared that the Soviet Union would dissolve
>into many separate nations, some of the Brezhnev-style party leaders took
>control with the infamous "coup" (They were supported in this move by
>sections of the Red Army leadership and most of the KGB).  The coup
>leaders also committed a **historic** blunder.  They underestimated the
>degree of yearning for democratic change that the Soviet masses wanted
>and the degree to which the masses would resist a return to more
>authoritarian (totalitarian) forms of government.  The coup leaders were
>incredibly short-sighted.  One would have thought that they would at
>least have obtained more support from regional leaders and the Red Army
>before declaring martial law.  When the Red Army ranks refused to fire on
>unarmed civilians defending the "White House" and Yeltsin, the coup was
>finished.  They had seized power but were unable to hold it (a classical
>failing of coup d' etats).

Why do you suppose many of the 'coup plotters' maintain to this day that
Gorby knew and approved the plans. Why did they all fly to meet Gorby so he
could 'straighten out' the mess, rather than flee the country. And why did
these *ruthless suppressors of the people w/ 70 years of experience* make so
many incredibly stupid mistakes in planning their coup.... It was a phoney
coup. Did you ever read their proclimation - all they really called for was
an end to wrecking the economy. 'Masses saw a window of opportunity,' like
this was some kind of popular revolt - give me a break. The people on the
tanks then - are the same people that *did* use live shells to murder close
to a thousand in the white house later. And they are the entrepaneurs of
today's russia.

>9) When the coup was ended I **cheered**.  No argument about the current
>situation in Russia can serve as a excuse for the coup.

This is true, but the deed was done long before the phoney coup and it was
spearheaded by a call for social democracy and the dismantling of the system
piece by piece after 1988.

After the coup,
>Gorbachev's career and plans were finished.  Yeltsin, made a even more
>popular hero by riding out the coup, became ever more powerful than
>Gorbachev.  At this point, the USSR was finished.
>10) Some have argued that ending Soviet rule was a bit like throwing out
>the baby with the bathtub.  I have some sympathies with this belief.
>While Soviet workers and nationalities were brutally repressed by the
>Soviet state, they had also made some very significant gains in terms of
>economic rights.

Not just economic rights - There were some important gains towards equality
between nations. I don't think the biggest problem was suppression or
Russification, but paternalism especially in the Brezhnev years. But much
was done and many sacrifices made to build up and industrialize
underdeveloped regions of the country. This had not just economic
consequenses but social and political consequenses as well.

>11)  Why did this not happen?  The Russian people, I believe, identified
>socialism with
>the Communist Party.  After all, who was it that told them for decades
>about the great virtues of "socialism"?  And who was it that repressed
>them during those same years?  The same people.  The Communist Party
>lacked credibility when it talked about the need for democracy and
>socialism.  Consequently, **a very large** burden for the collapse of the
>USSR must be placed squarely on the shoulders of the Communist Party.

Actually I agree with this somewhat - but it was not the primary cause. And
it is not as simple as these were the *bad* guys who just wanted to supress
and repress and who just wouldn't allow the 'real' socialists the right to
straighten things out. Millions of honest, well intentioned Communists,
workers and others grappled with trying to make socialism work - including
in the leadership. There is a lot of history that shapes the particulars of
Societ history and comic book simplicity or onesidedness will not really
help explain it.

>They were the ones, not Yeltsin or Bush, who made socialism into a dirty

Yeah and those of my elk are the ones who did it here. Not Yeltzin and Bush
who made socialism a dirty word?!?! What the hell do you think the
multibillion dollar US and Imperialist propaganda machine is - a paper
tiger? It's *bad* socialists that are the primary cause of anti-communism
and anti-socialism - give me a break. There is a class war and there is an
ideological struggle and contrary to what some here would like to believe
its primary form is not between different views of socialism (even in
socialist countries) - its between capitalism and socialism. How very
convienent to sit on the sidelines and wash your hands and be pure. It kind
of reminds me of how the NY Times used to run stories every once in a while
about how the SU wasn't really living up to Marx and Lenin's ideas - they
were oh so concerned about the purity of socialism too.

>12) NO ONE on this list celebrates the suffering of the Russian people

Excuse me. I thought when people on this list said it was a good thing that
the SU was overthrown they meant they were in favor of it.

>They have discovered what the realities of capitalism can mean
>and are experiencing misery and improverishment caused by the high rate
>of unemployment (higher than the worst year in the US during the Great
>Depression) and hyper-inflation.  In terms of the standard of living for
>most people, there **is no question** that they are worse off today.
>However, my own belief is that if one supports democracy, then one must
>also allow for a democratic outcome other than the one that you
>desired.  Consequently, I would have to say that Russian people are going
>to have to ** learn for themselves** the meaning of capitalism and the
>need for a new **real** socialism.

My, you are so generous with your stern medicine for other peoples
suffering. And 'democratic outcome other than the one you desired' now there
is about the best definition of classless democracy I've ever heard. It
dosen't matter if the outcome hurts the working class or is good for counter
revolution as long as you uphold the *principal* that you are prepared to
lose the fight....whew. Are you glad that 'democracy' won out in Chile and
Nicaragua too?

>13) This outcome was not inevitable.

This I totally agree with.

Had there been revolutionary
>transformations in the advanced capitalist nations or successful
>political revolutions in any workers' state,  the chain of historical
>events would have been altered markedly.  Had the Soviet people, for
>instance, **seen** other nations that were socialist, democratic, and
>non-bureaucratic, then they might very well have brought about political
>change and socialism within the USSR as well.  As socialists in one such
>advanced capitalist nation we have to bear a **small** amount of
>responsibility for what did and did not occur.

Very speculative. But on the subjective side I would say that if the CPSU
hadn't slowly given up the notion that the working class is the main and
most important leadership in the fight for socialism - the rediculous
Breshnev era concept of 'socialism of the whole people' which allowed an
intellectual and professional strata of the Gorby type to dominate the CPSU,
then it needn't have happened. Even as late as peristroika (where before the
classless Glasnost, some real working class democracy was introduced), if
the democratic workplace reforms before 1988 had been continued and
extended, without destroying the economic system, then socialism could have
been reformed in a good direction and may have been able to withstand the
external presures.

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