Collapse of the USSR

This post is in two main parts, a quick analysis of class in Soviet society (i will expand more on this in future posts), how right-opportunist ideology was able to be put into action, leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
in Is The Red Flag Flying (1979), Al Szymanski examined empirical research on the Soviet Union and came to the conclusion that the USSR was socialist, but that technical and professional intelligentsia (those "who develop and disseminate knowledge and skills and who provide professional services") had disproportionate influence over policy. However, "the managerial stratum appears to be significantly closer to the manual working class than is the scientific-technical intelligentsia".

There appears to be a high level of political participation in the Soviet Union, both through formal governmental channels and through the process of public opinion formation in the mass media. Public debate on a wide range of topics is real and growing in depth and significance. Support for the government is especially high amongst the working class. Manual workers are playing a greater and greater role in the self-management of enterprises...The pressures to maintain legitimacy push the power elite to take egalitarian and democratic measures. In sum, there appear to be numerous mechanisms by which real control is exerted by the producing classes over the power elite. The only important qualification to this statement is that the centre of gravity of power within the producing classes lies with the skilled workers and the mechanical and professional intelligentsia who seem to play a disproportionate role in public debates, the Communist Party, the government apparatus, and the decision making processes in economic enterprises. While democratic life in the Soviet Union seems to be real, it is not dominated by the peasantry and unskilled and semi-skilled workers but rather by the upper levels of the working class and professionals and experts of various kinds.

Socialism Betrayed by Keeran and Kennan noticed that this intelligentsia was dominated by right-opportunists who wanted to introduce capitalist "reforms".

Recognizing problems on the one hand and explaining their origin and devising their solution on the other hand were of course two entirely different matters, and matters on which Communists disagreed. In general, the analysis of the economic problems fell into the two traditional camps: the camp with ideological links to Bukharin and Khrushchev and the camp with links to Lenin and Stalin. The former saw the problems as due to over-centralization, and for it the solution was decentralization, the use of market mechanisms, and the allowance of certain forms of private enterprise....Soviet economics of this mind represented only a minority, but they dominated three of the four leading academic institutes. A leading economist in this camp was Abel Aganbegyan, who later became a key adviser to Gorbachev.


The large amount of wheeling and dealing that occurred outside the official socialized economy contributed mightily to the Soviet downfall. First it created or exacerbated the economic and political problems the Soviet Union faced in the 1980s that gave rise to the need for reform. Secondly, it provided an economic basis for the ideas and policies that Gorbachev eventually adopted that doomed Soviet socialism.

Instead of combating illegal economic activity, Brezhnev let illegal economic activity and the corruption it caused happen unfettered.

In the early 1980s, crimes of speculation accounted for only 2 percent of all reported crimes. According to one estimate, the actual amount of speculation was a hundred times great. In retrospect, few other mistakes of the Soviet leadership did so much harm as the indifference toward illegal economic activity.

Whatever small and temporary benefits Soviet society may have reaped from the second economy, the costs far outstripped them. Most important, the second economy damaged the first economy. If the second economy satisfied some consumer appetites and deflected some discontent, it simultaneously stimulated these appetites and increased discontent....Moreover, the larger the illegal economy became, the more it interfered with the performance of the legitimate economy. Since the second economy involved stealing time and material from the socialist sector, it impaired socialism's efficiency....Furthermore, the second economy undermined economic planning. if an enterprise compensated for a misallocation of resources by resorting to informal purchases or trades, the planners had no reason to correct future allocations.


How did the second economy influence the Communist Party? In one word, the answer was corruption....The peasantry that provided a class basis for Bukharin's ideas did not require the corruption of the Party for its existence, but the entrepreneurs of the second economy did. Simply put, to exist and thrive, illegal producing and selling required the bribery of some Party and state officials, and the more organized and widespread this producing and selling became, the more corruption they required.

Pictured: The second economy of the USSR

This caused perestroika to take on a distinctly pro-capitalist political and class character. The policy of slashing state orders by 50% (encouraged by the right-opportunist academics mentioned before), caused inflation to rise by 80% and created incentive to hoard. Instead of using central planning, Gorbachev redefined the role of ministries as "developing enterprise autonomy".

As perestroika failed in one sphere, the damage rippled in all directions. Starting in 1988, economic hardship and separatism reinforced each other. As consumer shortages worsened in 1988, the tendency for various republics to hoard production and to go it alone increased. The USSR planned economy had developed as a single grid with a precise division of labor and specialization among republics. For example, one industrial complex in the Baltic region supplied paper cups for the USSR....The economic disorder and uncertainty field separatist fires, as each union republic sought to protect its economic interests as best it could.

Gorbachev's opportunism wasn't just a domestic policy, it was the basis of his foreign policy as well. He capitulated in nuclear arms talks, slashed $5 billion in aid to Cuba, betrayed Nicaragua and South Africa's anti-apartheid movement, all in the name of appeasing imperialism.

The events of August 1991 are especially critical. A group of Soviet leaders dedicated to keeping socialism intact formed the State Committee for the State of Emergency. Gorbachev supported the state of emergency in its early stages, and the SCSE sent troops and tanks into Moscow. They made a declaration to the Soviet people that they would stop the theft of the people's wealth which was causing the severe drop in the quality of life of the overwhelming majority of the population. This wasn't a coup, this was a declaration of a State of Emergency that had the support of 70% of local officials in the Russian Republic according to Yeltsin's own team.

However, the SCSE didn't restrict the virulently anti-Communist media, and the media was able to frame the struggle as one between "democrats" and "conservatives", when it was actually a struggle between counterrevolutionary capitalists and socialists. However, Gorbachev capitulated and withdrew his support at a critical moment, likely to please the US and European powers. Gorbachev was completely delegitimized, and resigned 6 months later, signing over the Soviet Union's powers to the Russian Republic

In many ways the most disturbing aspect of the Soviet collapse was not that Gorbachev's opportunism arose within the Soviet Communist Party. What was disturbing was that the Communist Party proved unable to thwart Gorbachev's opportunism as it had thwarted that of his forerunners. Why was the CPSU less able to deal with Gorbachev in 1987 and 1988 then with Khrushchev in 1964, or Bukharin in 1929?

The Party failed to maintain vigilance against the second economy, corruption, political education of its members, and democratic centralism deteriorated. The Party itself needed reform.

there are 6 common misconceptions over the cause of the collapse
1. an inherent flaw of socialism
2. popular opposition
3. external factors
4. bureaucratic counter-revolution
5. lack of democracy/over-centralization
6. its all gorby's fault

1. an inherent flaw of socialism

Socialism, as is defined by Lenin, was doomed from the start because it was based on mistaken assumptions about human nature

Jack Matlock, US Ambassador/professional hack

the main problem w/ this theory is that it views Soviet history as unfolding towards its collapse due to human nature. historical determinism based on human nature is considered by most historians to be total bullshit. this theory doesn't take into account that the soviet union survived collectivization and world war 2, both of which were far bigger challenges than the 80s.

the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that it was Gorbachev's policies of destabilizing the Party, turning over the media to right-wing forces, rash changes in state purchases, and a domestic and foreign policy that is primarily defined by opportunism that were the cause of the crises that led to the collapse.

2. popular opposition

there's a saying, glasnost gave Soviet citizens the right to criticize, perestroika gave them something to criticize. while there was some unrest, it came after gorby's market reforms that were laying the groundwork for a transition to capitalism.
polls were taken in 1990 and 1991 showing that the majority of Soviet citizens were satisfied with their lives and satisfaction with the Soviet system was comparable to american satisfaction with theirs. Soviet citizens supported public ownership, price controls, and the maintenance of the Soviet Union by large majorities.

3. external factors

this theory puts it all on reagan for Defeating The Communists with his brilliant plan of throwing a shit ton of money at his weapons manufacturer buddies.
the problems with this is that the increase in military spending in the us had no effect on the USSR's military spending according to Soviet insiders. while Soviet society never had the luxury of focusing on internal development without the threat of annihilation, it was not a direct cause of the collapse.

4.bureaucratic counter-revolution

this theory basically argues that the bureaucracy formed into a possessing class
and the breakup was a result of the Yeltsin faction of the bureaucracy defeating the Gorbachev faction. however, this doesn't explain why the bureaucracy apparently backed Andropov's Marxist-Leninist point of view in 83, gorbachev's revisionist reformist ideology in 87, and yeltsin's free market cannibalism in 93. this is highly inconsistent, and since theft from the state by the bureaucracy was embyonic in 87 and became more and more blatant in the 90s suggests that outside class forces were causing the collapse and opportunists within the bureaucracy jumped on board.

An authoritative, in-depth study based on interviews with the Party elite showed that the bureaucracy was incapable of collective action to save or hurry the dismantling of the system.

5.lack of democracy/over-centralization

this theory attempts to save socialism by distancing it from the Soviet Union. It argues "The Soviet Communists screwed up, but we are different and smarter. They were too bureaucratic, undemocratic, and over-centralized, but we know better than that." This explanation doesnt have any explanatory power beyond a soundbite or a bullet point on a flyer, however. It makes up for analysis with lofty utopianism and tries to explain history by the degree to which a country conforms to an ideal, instead of looking at the material conditions behind the collapse.

6.its all gorby's fault

while the role of gorbachev can't be ignored, many writers see a long-term plan behind gorbachev's actions. however, this view disregards the fact that his beliefs in weakening the Party, expanding private property and capitalist market relations reflected the interests of the growing illegal private sector. one of gorbachev's main characteristics was opportunism, he capitulated to imperialist pressures abroad as well as corrupt interests at home.

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Is the World Really Safer Without the Soviet Union?

Mikhail Gorbachev | December 21, 2011

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union twenty years ago, Western commentators have often celebrated it as though what disappeared from the world arena in December 1991 was the old Soviet Union, the USSR of Stalin and Brezhnev, rather than the reforming Soviet Union of perestroika. Moreover, discussion of its consequences has focused mostly on developments inside Russia. Equally important, however, have been the consequences for international relations, in particular lost alternatives for a truly new world order opened up by the end of the cold war.

Following my election as general secretary of the Communist Party in March 1985, the Soviet leadership formulated a new foreign policy agenda. One of the key ideas of our reforms, or perestroika, was new political thinking, based on the recognition of the world’s interconnectedness and interdependence. The top priority was to avert the threat of nuclear war. Our immediate international goals included ending the nuclear arms race, reducing conventional armed forces, settling numerous regional conflicts involving the Soviet Union and the United States, and replacing the division of the European continent into hostile camps with what I called a common European home.

We understood that this could be accomplished only by working with the United States. Our two nations together held 95 percent of the world’s arsenals of nuclear weapons. It was therefore of enormous importance that at my first summit meeting with President Ronald Reagan, held in Geneva in November 1985, we stated that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” We also agreed that the USSR and the United States would not seek military superiority over each other. At our next summit, in Reykjavik in 1986, Reagan and I went on to discuss specific ways to achieve a world without nuclear weapons.

Concrete steps in that direction soon followed. In December 1987 President Reagan and I signed in Washington the INF Treaty—the first and still the only agreement eliminating two classes of weapons of mass destruction, intermediate- and short-range missiles. In 1991 President George H.W. Bush and I signed in Moscow the first START treaty, reducing strategic nuclear weapons by half, and then in the fall of the same year we agreed to eliminate most tactical nuclear weapons on both sides.

The road to these agreements was difficult, but the result was mutual trust, which enabled me and President Bush to state at the Malta summit in December 1989 that our two nations no longer regarded each other as enemies. It meant that the cold war was over. This opened the way to cooperation in ending regional conflicts that had raged for decades in various parts of the world and in pushing back Saddam Hussein’s aggression against Kuwait in 1990, and, most important, led to peaceful change in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989–91, based on the free choice of its people. This process culminated in the unification of Germany. Conditions were now in place to revive the United Nations as the main tool for international conflict resolution and prevention.

What happened after the Soviet Union ended in 1991? Why were the opportunities to build what Pope John Paul II called a more stable, more just and more humane world order not realized? To answer this question we need to look back at the events associated with the breakup of the Soviet Union and the West’s reaction to it.

The breakup of the Soviet Union interrupted perestroika—an attempt to effect an evolutionary transition from totalitarianism to democracy in a vast country from 1985 to 1991. The achievements of perestroika were real and many. It brought freedom, including freedom of speech, assembly, religion and movement, as well as political pluralism and free elections. We started a transition to market economics. But we acted too late to reform the Communist Party and to transform the Soviet Union into a new, decentralized union of sovereign republics.

Contrary to what is sometimes asserted, the Soviet Union was not destroyed by any foreign power but as a result of internal developments. First, in August 1991 the anti-perestroika conservative forces organized a coup against my leadership that failed but weakened my position. Then, on December 8, defying the will of the people, who had supported renewal of the union in a referendum in March 1991, the leaders of three Soviet republics—Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the leaders of Ukraine and Belorussia—meeting in secret, abolished the Union.

This event led to euphoria and a “winner’s complex” among the American political elite. The United States could not resist the temptation to announce its “victory” in the cold war. The “sole remaining superpower” staked a claim to monopoly leadership in world affairs. That, and the equating of the breakup of the Soviet Union with the end of the cold war, which in reality had ended two years before, has had far-reaching consequences. Therein are the roots of many mistakes that have brought the world to its current troubled state.

I used to say to my negotiating partners, Reagan, Bush and other Western leaders, that all of us would need to change our thinking—not only the Soviet Union but the West as well—because the rapid changes under way in the world leave all of us with no other choice. But as long as the West insisted on its purported victory in the cold war, it meant that no change was needed in the old cold war thinking and that the old methods, such as using military force and political and economic pressure to impose one model on everyone, would still be used.

Within such a matrix, the United Nations and its Security Council become expendable or at best an impediment, while international law is viewed as a burdensome legacy of the past. That was the attitude taken by the United States and its supporters in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and in Iraq in 2003. American pundits started talking about the United States as more than just a superpower, calling it a “hyperpower” capable of creating “a new kind of empire.”

Thinking in such terms in our time is a delusion. No wonder that the imperial project failed and that it soon became clear that it was a mission impossible even for the United States. Military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, based on the assumption that might is right, severely undermined the American economy, in addition to causing tens of thousands of deaths. Today many in the West admit that it was the wrong path to take, but the time that could have been used to build a truly new world order was lost.

The erroneous interpretation of the end of the cold war, the disappearance from the world arena of a strong partner with its own views—the reforming Soviet Union—and the weakening of Russia also had a negative impact on European developments. The Charter of Paris for a New Europe, which was signed in 1990 by European nations, the United States and Canada—a blueprint for new security architecture of the common European home—was relegated to oblivion. The United States and its allies instead decided to expand NATO eastward, bringing that military alliance closer to Russia’s borders while claiming for it the role of a pan-European or even a global policeman. This usurped the functions of the United Nations and thus weakened it.

In the early 1990s it was also decided to accelerate the enlargement of the European Union, also eastward. Despite the EU’s real achievements, the results of its expansion have been ambiguous, as has become particularly clear in recent months with Europe’s unprecedented financial and economic crisis.

The expectations that all of our continent’s problems would be solved by building Europe from the West eastward have not been fulfilled, and in fact they were bound to fail. A truly whole and democratic Europe must be built not only from the West but also from the East, including Russia. I often recall my conversation in the fall of 1989 with Pope John Paul II. A man with a profound and comprehensive view of the world and not given to triumphalist euphoria, he regarded perestroika as a vitally important step in the advance of freedom and democracy as well as an opportunity to build a truly united Europe. Speaking of the East and West, he said that “Europe should breathe with two lungs.” But after the disappearance of the Soviet Union, Western leaders chose a different path.

As a result, Europe’s role and weight in world affairs have been far less than their potential. New dividing lines have appeared in our continent, now much closer to Russia’s borders, and twice—in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and in the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 2008—conflicts led to bloodshed.

* * *

In short, the world without the Soviet Union has not become safer, more just or more stable. Instead of a new world order—that is, enough global governance to prevent international affairs from becoming dangerously unpredictable—we have had global turmoil, a world drifting in uncharted waters. The global economic crisis that broke out in 2008 made that abundantly clear.

The West must undertake a critical reassessment of all that preceded this painful crisis. It is more than just a crisis of global finance or even a crisis of an economic model based on a race for hyperprofits and excessive consumption that grinds down the earth’s resources and ruins nature. The crisis grew out of the arrogant conviction of “the collective West” that it had the recipes to solve all problems and that there was no alternative to the “Washington Consensus,” which claimed to work equally well for all countries.

The crisis, the end of which is not in sight, seems to have sobered up some world leaders and prompted a search for collective solutions to global challenges. But the results so far have been slight. International organizations, particularly the United Nations, crippled by the unilateralism of the United States and NATO, are still faltering, unable to fulfill their task of conflict settlement. The G-8 is not sufficiently representative of the global community, and the G-20 has not become an effective mechanism.

Policy-making and political thinking are still militarized. This is particularly true in the United States, which has not renounced the methods of pressure and intimidation. Every time it uses armed force against non–nuclear weapon states, countries such as Iran become more determined to acquire nuclear weapons.

During the first decade of the twenty-first century US military budgets accounted for nearly half the world’s spending on armed forces. Such overwhelming military superiority of one country will make the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons impossible to achieve. Judging by the weapons programs of the United States and a number of other countries, they are setting their sights on a new arms race.

It makes me wonder whether every time there is a crisis or conflict, leaders will try to resolve them by resorting to military force. The only way to break this vicious circle is to reassert the principles of mutual security, which formed the core of our new political thinking more than twenty years ago.

* * *

Finally, there is post-Soviet Russia and its role in the world. During the period following the breakup of the Soviet Union, the United States and the European Union kept relations with Russia in a state of uncertainty. On the one hand, there were numerous declarations of cooperation and even strategic partnership. On the other hand, post-Soviet Russia was not given a voice in resolving key problems, and obstacles were put in the way of its integration into the European and global economy. It seems that while being given occasional pats on the back, Russia is still being treated as an outsider, not as a serious and constructive force in world affairs.

At the same time, the Russian people remember how during the 1990s the West strongly recommended and applauded “shock therapy”—the radical reforms that resulted in the collapse of the Russian economy and plunged tens of millions of its citizens into poverty. In the eyes of many Russians, it meant that the West did not want a revival of Russia—that it wanted Russia only as a supplier of resources that “knows its place.”

Periods of Russia’s weakness had occurred before, and they always proved temporary. Recently, US and EU policies toward Russia have begun to reflect an understanding of that fact. Despite difficulties, the policy of resetting relations with Russia initiated by President Barack Obama produced clear results, such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, signed in 2010. Though the “reset” has powerful enemies in Washington (and in Moscow), it was an important American acknowledgment that Russia will remain a serious player in world politics and that partnership with it is indispensable.

I am convinced that it is time to return to the path we charted together when we ended the cold war. Once again, the world needs new thinking, based not just on the recognition of universal interests and of global interdependence but also on a certain moral foundation. Today one often hears that politics is a dirty business, incompatible with morality. No, politics becomes dirty and a zero-sum, lose-lose game only when it has no moral core. This, perhaps, is the main lesson to be learned from the past two decades.

yeah i read that....... NOT
that was in reference to the gorby article. not the op, which i did in fact read. although i also read the gorby article, and now i need to find somewhere to get rid of a dead body

gyrofry posted:


vive la
Should Incomplete Revolutions Be Regarded As Cases Of Erectile Dysfunction?
a discussion on marxism was interrupted to talk about dicks
marxism is mostly about dicks i think
dicks, pussies and assholes
4realz tho what are some cool books'n'sources sources on the 1991 coup or not a coup actually or whatever? like most stuff ive read about the dissolution of the ussr tends to just focus on what an absolute cunt yeltsin was
my favorite term from the dissolution of the USSR (it's been used elsewhere I'm sure but was particularly named as a strategy of Yeltsin and the ilk) was fuckin 'shock therapy.' The name says it all.
lol oh my roommate just told me shock therapy is associated with Chile under Pinochet. hahahahah
also in south africa under the anc and a bunch more places, ghoulish liberal naomi klein wrote she self a book about it, you might have heard of it
Naomi Klein is kewl
axtually she's a goddamn harpy

deadken posted:
axtually she's a goddamn harpy

in that i ground out 22 to 24 on her ideology Hehe

The collapse of the USSR was a good thing. If you can't accept that, then you don't belong in decent society.

If you view the leaders of the Soviet Union, including gorby, as Russian nationalists you can suddenly understand his yearning for the USSR. If the USSR was a fascist, genocidal machine (oh wait it was lol!) he would still be writing op-eds yearning for it, just because it put Russia in a position of power.


disestablishmentarian posted:
The collapse of the USSR was a good thing. If you can't accept that, then you don't belong in decent society.

If you view the leaders of the Soviet Union, including gorby, as Russian nationalists you can suddenly understand his yearning for the USSR. If the USSR was a fascist, genocidal machine (oh wait it was lol!) he would still be writing op-eds yearning for it, just because it put Russia in a position of power.

Shocking but true

the OP is a great read thx for cross-posting!

DRUXXX posted:
lol oh my roommate just told me shock therapy is associated with Chile under Pinochet. hahahahah

the masterpiece of milton FREEdman and FREEderick Hayak


disestablishmentarian posted:
The collapse of the USSR was a good thing. If you can't accept that, then you don't belong in decent society.

If you view the leaders of the Soviet Union, including gorby, as Russian nationalists you can suddenly understand his yearning for the USSR. If the USSR was a fascist, genocidal machine (oh wait it was lol!) he would still be writing op-eds yearning for it, just because it put Russia in a position of power.

what is this tr0t shit


Impper posted:

disestablishmentarian posted:
The collapse of the USSR was a good thing. If you can't accept that, then you don't belong in decent society.

If you view the leaders of the Soviet Union, including gorby, as Russian nationalists you can suddenly understand his yearning for the USSR. If the USSR was a fascist, genocidal machine (oh wait it was lol!) he would still be writing op-eds yearning for it, just because it put Russia in a position of power.

what is this tr0t shit

its trot shit

writing positive things about the USSR should be under the same level of social condemnation as writing positive things about the Nazis

oh wait it is

christmas_cheer posted:
writing positive things about the USSR should be under the same level of social condemnation as writing positive things about the Nazis

oh wait it is

not among educated people

people "educated" in Marxism you mean

christmas_cheer posted:
people "educated" in Marxism you mean

no i mean educated, which would include some marxism, though that doesnt really pertain to the subject

doesn't matter how many books you read, stalin was still a tyrant who killed millions of people and enslaved many others in labor camps, forcing the complying civilians to worship him like a god

Mod Edit: W@hile i Freaking love christmas your posts are Completely nonproductive. Your re-education coursework is as follows. I want you to write an essay on the subject of as follows: How Stalin and any two other major historical figureheads from history (of your choosing) bear disproportionate responsibility for the failings of the states they led. You are free to take this in any direction but the underlying Loyalty oath is that the effort you put INto the essay should reflect your honest desire to have it appear on the front page. Thank you for honoring and respecting Pupkin even though its understood this is a marriage of convenience, not passion.

Edited by swampman ()


christmas_cheer posted:
doesn't matter how many books you read, stalin was still a tyrant who killed millions of people and enslaved many others in labor camps, forcing the complying civilians to worship him like a god

he was pretty cool ya

only to the sickest of minds
The Illest Brain in the Western World Yall
what an ill mod challenge!
bankrobber to angel of death the logical progression in the lives of bad motherfuckers
itt: an american calls the population of the ussr slaves
[account deactivated]
indeed, if to the left-liberal george bush was responsible for the hastening of the collapse of usa, would not then stalin be a hero based on the left-liberal's dual assumptions that socialism is a bad thing and that stalin hastened the destruction of the ussr?

Impper posted:
indeed, if to the left-liberal george bush was responsible for the hastening of the collapse of usa, would not then stalin be a hero based on the left-liberal's dual assumptions that socialism is a bad thing and that stalin hastened the destruction of the ussr?

more or less. while i don't rule out the possibility of liberal (or, for that matter, reactionary) anti-imperialism, i don't see much of it, and am inclined to believe it's time to move on.

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