Russian imperialism - Soviet Bloc

Chris Burford 100423.2040 at
Fri Aug 2 00:04:20 MDT 1996

Various terms have been used at different times for different
purposes in criticism of the policy of the Soviet Union towards
other states,

great nation chauvinism, hegemonism, social imperialism.

Clearly there was also some symbiosis even if it was not
always perfect proletarian internationalism.

I wanted to pick up out of this interesting thread a point which
I think is relevent for the present prospects of socialism
in the face of the neo-liberal global capitalist agenda: the
extent that the Soviet Bloc operated as an economic unit that
permitted at least some socialised developments while insulating
the countries from global market mechanisms.

What follows is from Dr Gunter Mittag, quoted in a pamphlet on
the fall of the GDR by the British Coop movement, which
describes him as for the best part of 30 years , the GDR's
chief economic planner, who was forced off the Politburo on the same
day as Erich Honecker.

>>The first signs of economic collapse showed themselves in 1981 and the
disaster was obvious by 1983. This happened when the Soviet Union
reduced its originally promised oil exports of 19 million tons
a year to 17.1 million tons. This was not the only factor, but
it had a drastic effect on the GDR which was dependent on others
for raw materials. That seriously damaged our economic growth and
foreign trade."

Then quoted in indirect speech:

>>...the country's economy was already severely strained by
internal difficulties: the budget could not cope with the costs of
the welfare state, the bureaucracy, the security forces and
new prestige building projects. These should have been cut back,
but were not. Instead, desperate short-term measures were
introduced, including negotiating billion-mark loans from
West Germany, and engineering behind-the-scenes hard currency deals
which brought in up to 3 billion DM. But the state could not
continue indefinitely to live beyond its means.

What I read here is that the Soviet trading bloc had provided
a buffer for its members, but that from early in the 80's
the Sovet Union had to offload some financial burdens onto
East Germany, which left that country with a significantly
reduced circulating money equivalent of its total exchange value,
to which it was unable to adjust flexibly.

Cuba has a similar problem without the Soviet Bloc.

Chris Burford

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