a brief flame...

Charles Brown CharlesB at CNCL.ci.detroit.mi.us
Tue Jul 7 12:00:14 PDT 1998

Of course, capitalism was still much stronger

materially than socialism in socialism's first historical period. The differences Brad mentions are explanable in terms of the competition between the two systems and the capitalist system's economic blockade and constant war on (which was not reciprocated) the socialist system after socialism started from a much smaller material base than the existent capitalism. In other words, it is well known that Russia was a materially backward country relative to the biggest capitalist countries. I believe it was about 1/13th size of the U.S. in 1917, and the U.S

was not the biggest country in the capitalist gang. The greater economic development of the capitalist countries than their "paired" countries in Brad's list follows from the huge discrepancy between the two systems at the beginning of the competition between them. It is important to compare the overall international systems, not just the individual countries, because the bourgeoisie bolstered the countries in the list exactly for the type of propaganda

comparisons they were making analogous to the current comparison.

The significant thing is that under permanent capitalist economc blockade and horrendous miltary assault, the socialist system grew at a faster rate than the capitalist system had in its formative period; and the socialist countries were not growing based on imperialist exploitation; and the socialist system held the capitalist system to a material standoff for so long. And there was no where near equivalence between the military assault on socialism by capitalism, and any vice versa. This onesided military destruction distorts the comparison of economic achievements and production.

Also, if you add up the total poverty within the whole capitalist system (which includes all of the poorer capitalist countries and all of the extremely poor colonies and neo-colonies) capitalism was probably worse off materially.

In other words, all of Africa , most of Latin America and Asia go in the capitalist-imperialist side of the calculation. You can't just pick South Korea and leave out Brazil or The Congo.Without colonies, imperialist countries would not be rich. Colonies are integral and inherent to capitalism.

This brings the average per capita income of capitalism way down. Bourgeois propaganda likes to pretend that the "third" world is not part of the "first".

Also, compare one country with itself for a more controlled test. Russia has been going down materially since it got capitalism back. It shot up in world record speed when it went from capitalism to socialism.

And of course, the competition is not over for ever, but in an ebb. The Evil Empire has struck back, but there will be a return of the Jheddi.

Charles Brown

>>> Brad De Long <delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU> 07/07 10:14 AM >>>

>>And general secretaries are the salt of the earth? :-)
>The answer to this is 'yes of course!'. Compared to life under the feudal
>filth, humanity made progress under the general secretaries.

It is surely the case that under the General Secretaries life expectancy and material standards of living *were* higher than under pre-industrial despots, enlightened or otherwise (save for "extraordinary" periods like Cambodia 1975-1977, China 1958-1960, Ukraine and Russia 1931-1934). But what has always impressed me most is the enormous gap that opened up between the levels of material prosperity and the space for political thought in countries that were and were not ruled by General Secretaries...

By and large the regions were General Secretaries ruled were determined by where the armies stopped. There were places (South Korea, Thailand, Greece, West Germany, Finland) that looked, as far as social structure and industrial development at the start of this century are concerned, very much like their counterparts just within the lands of the General Secretaries (North Korea, Cambodia, Bulgaria, East Germany, Leningrad). Yet no matter which set of social indicators we look at, the lands of the General Secretaries appear to come off badly in terms of material prosperity (perhaps a quarter or an eighth as productive as their beyond-the-iron-curtain neighbors?) and space for political discussion...

Brad De Long

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