Should we celebrate the fall of the Soviet Union

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Sat Jul 11 09:15:30 PDT 1998

Andrew Kliman wrote:

>Yes, let's do. I'll bring the party hats!

Just be sure to leave the party hacks at home!

Nathan Newman wrote:

>How was the fall of the Soviet Union a disaster for us? Psychologically,
>many folks who needed "real existing socialism" to justify their beliefs
>were demoralized, but the very existence of Stalinism had done much to
>undermine the Left for much of the 20th century. As a socialist, the
>basic fact is I have to qualify every self-identification as such to add
>that MY VERSION of socialism is not a totalitarian dictatorship, since the
>Soviet Union through both its attackers and its defenders had so come to
>define socialism.
>At the purely human level, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the opening up
>of those political systems, however neoliberal in their first
>incarnations, open up the possibility of real democratic left movements
>throughout the former East Bloc.
>I would rather live in a world where Kerala, India and Sweden are the best
>approximations of socialism we have rather than one in which an oppressive
>dictatorship is the model.

Well, gee, Nathan, where are those "real democratic left movements throughout the former East Bloc"? And why are social democratic regimes collapsing all over the place, and social democratic parties embracing The Market so passionately? There are at least two mechanisms at work here - one, the collapse of the USSR so completely discredited socialism that almost no one dares say the word publicly anymore, and two, the capitalists won't concede even social democratic reforms without the threat of expropriation, which was what the USSR symbolized for them. More than symbolized - what would have been the fate of the Sandinistas and the ANC without a USSR to support them? Would Cuba be anything but a Yankee whorehouse and casino today? As awful as the USSR was at its worst, it was still a living example of the possibility of a noncapitalist way of life. Without it, we're more isolated than ever.


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