Forwarded from Anthony Boynton

Nestor Miguel Gorojovsky gorojovsky at
Thu May 11 06:38:22 MDT 2000

El 10 May 00, a las 22:32, Anthony Boyton dijo:

> How about it Nestor, any Ladas in Buenos Aires?

A few. In fact, the Argentinian car industry is being thoroughly
downsized and destroyed only now. Though we have had a steady growth
of imported cars, it was not the Russians who best took profit of the
politics of industrial destruction we are suffering from 1976.

On the other hand, they do not have a good reputation, nor -by the
way, and supporting some of the ideas in your interesting mail- do
the Romanian Dacias (a copy of the Renault 12, a car that was built
in Argentina for many years and was actually very succesful: there is
an Argentinian list member who can deliver a lecture on the terrible
experience of driving and owning a Dacia).

The "Lada" was produced in Argentina, also, but under the original
Fiat name. One of the mainstays of car industry here were the FIAT
plants in Córdoba (they were also one of the cradles of the
Cordobazo, but this is a different story). Models 1600 and 125 (the
Italian original that the Lada copied, if I am not wrong) were thus
produced locally. Very popular too, though not of the best
reputation. The FIAT Argentina products were never very well rated
among car buyers.

Now, on to a couple of comments:

> The Fiat 124 was a lovable piece of shit. I owned one, and spent many
> enjoyable hours drinking beer and fixing it. It was underpowered,
> ugly, and prone to break down, but - fortunately - it was easy to fix.

I would think of this twice. The ease to fix is not a secondary issue
in a Third World country. "Electronically controlled" cars of today,
in fact, deprive locals with control of the tech involved. While old
fashioned, low end technology, may be an outrageous thing in the
First World, down here, where we are poor and need to "bind it with
wire" ("lo atamos con alambre", an usual Argentinian saying that has
even got to a song by Ignacio Copani) there is something serious to
argue in favor of that technology. The most succesful cars in
Argentina were the Ford Falcon (a car that gained a horrible name
when during the 1976-83 years the "Green Falcon" became synonimous
with the Intelligence Services car) and the Renault 12. Simple,
sturdy, easy to fix, these cars lacked many technological delights
but were adapted to our roads and towns. And their existence did not
hinder local creation of a car of the highest technology (by the
times it was designed), the Torino


> What happens when Cuban Lada owners come here, to the country with -
> according to most of the world press - the worst problems in the
> Western Hemisphere? They see their peers driving Peugeots, Toyotas,
> and Hondas. And they are envious.

This is one of the awful consequences of "peaceful coexistence".
There is no sense in "competing" with capitalism in terms of material
production of what here are luxury goods (and the world over are
greenhouse effect feeders!). The problem lies in that "Cuban Lada
owners", that is the upper layers of Cuban society, should be
educated into remembering where do they come from, and whither they
would fall down into, which probably will not be ownership of a
Mercedes but of the same Lada, only that older and rusty. And, for
this, cultural revolutions are a permanent need. Once we have taken
power, a "permanent cultural revolution" should be in order.


> I think it is interesting to compare Russia to Brazil and Mexico.
> True the shape of Russia’s economy is skewed away from consumer goods
> to military production - unlike Mexico and only sort of like Brazil.
> And, Russia produces more producer goods than either of the other two
> countries.
>  Nevertheless the unmistakable conclusion is that Russia is in the
>  same
> league - industrially - with these non-imperialist countries - and is
> not in the same league with the major imperialist countries.

Yes and no. There is some "technological determinism" in this that I
do not share. There were at least two differences between these
countries, which were (a) the fact that the USSR _did_ control and
generate their own technologies, while Brazil and Mexico (may I add
what Argentina once was, if not the current financial semicolony that
carries same name?) do not; and (b) the fact that the whole building
of Soviet economy, if analyzed in terms of Department I and
Department II economic relationships must have been certainly
stronger than any of the buildings that you mention. This distinction
is a basic one, a structural one. Of course, I agree with you in that
from a "general technolgoical" standpoint the comparison is
appropiate, and I would add that this _MISLED_ comparison is one of
the main reasons for the destruction of the USSR. The obsession with
comparisons of this kind made even the best elements in Russian
bureaucracy lose their bearings, which should have been firmly fixed
towards the Northern Star of Lenin's _Studies in the Development of
Capitalism in Russia_.

All this is further sustained by your excellent demonstration that
even after, say, thirty or forty _effective_ years of economic
planning with strong emphasis in heavy industry (I am trying to
discount revolution, the wars, and foreign saboteurs which I usually
dismissed but am now beginning to consider more seriously), the USSR
was still lagging in this essential branch of economic activity:

> To check out this idea, I looked into Russia’s share of the machine
> tools market - both production and consumption.


You are absolutely right in that

> The productive capacity of the Soviet Union was never more than a
> small fraction of that of the United States - and a much smaller
> fraction of the combined productive capacity of the imperialist powers
> and their industrial offshoots in the rest of the world.

In fact, and no matter what we think of Stalinists, this should make
the Soviet experience still more cherishable, since with much lower
productive capacities, the system provided general welfare to a
degree that it duped many in the country into believing that they
should compare themselves with the First World and not, as it would
have been the case, with the Third. In a general sense, things in the
fSU took a path very similar to things in Argentina after 1976. If
Soviet citizens had been used to compare themselves with countries
such as mine (their true counterpart), they would have thought of it
more than twice in 1989...

> Of course this La-di-da analysis only looks at why the Soviet Union
> fell apart from one angle - the drivers seat of a Lada. Another
> interesting angle to check out is the view along the Chinese border.
> What?
> The Soviet Union’s economy was always so heavily skewed towards
> military production - for good reasons like Star Wars and the Chinese
> army - that consumer durable production was stunted.

Yes, you're right. And I will wait for your postings with pleasure.

Thank you for remembering me, Anthony.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at

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