>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,
There is an alternative explanation: the "actually existing socialism" was so discredited when it existed that only people on the safety of lists like this can publicly mourn its demise.
> and two, the capitalists
>won't concede even social democratic reforms without the threat of
>expropriation, which was what the USSR symbolized for them.
I think you will find that even in the US reforms were granted before, during and after the fall of the Kremlin empire. The extent of reform, of course, depends on the militancy of the people involved within a particlular country.
>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?
A moot "what if" argument. However, it should noted that in Cuba it was the Cubans themselves who deposed the Batista regime, without USSR help, and it was purely for opportunistic reasons that Castro later claimed to be a socialist.
>As awful as the USSR was at its worst, it was
>still a living example of the possibility of a noncapitalist way of life.
The logic of this reasoning escapes me. I have heard this line of argument from fascists, but I am surprised to see it on a list like this. Fortunately the USSR was not an example of a non-capitalist way of life.
>Without it, we're more isolated than ever.
Depends on what you're after, I suppose. As a socialist activist, I found it to be the biggest obstacle to socialism this century; without it perhaps we can now make some real progress.