Should we celebrate the fall of the Soviet Union

Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at
Mon Jul 13 12:39:24 PDT 1998


What was so terrible about the Tito regime? Yes, he did not allow a democratic opposition. Yes, he jailed dissidents and critics, especially during periods of nationalist upheaval (hey, there was nothing to fear from on that front now, was there!?). One can also criticize the economic outcomes of the Yugoslav market socialist regime on various grounds from worsening regional income inequalities that aggravated the religious/national conflicts, to unemployment and hyperinflation, especially in the 1980s after Tito died.

But Tito's was certainly about the "softest" Marxist regime around, especially among ones that lasted for any substantial length of time. And one of the successor states, Slovenia, is in the best economic shape of any of the "post-communist" regimes, retaining many elements of the former economic system while now having reasonable democracy and one of the smoothest transitions around.

Let us keep in mind that the likely alternative to Tito was the Serbian nationalist Chetniks. The interwar regime run by a Serbian monarch, was no democracy and not any improvement on Tito's on economic or any other grounds that I can see. Barkley Rosser On Sun, 12 Jul 1998 17:36:51 -0700 Brad De Long <delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU> wrote:

> Re:
> >Brad remarks that it was ok with him to have killed the Indonesian
> >Communists because they were Stalinist who would have killed more people
> >than Suharto.
> Not OK... the best of a bad set of options is not "OK": it is bad (albeit
> the best of a bad set of options)...
> >That is a hypothetical argument related to extinct Cold
> >War thinking. There is no sense in this of distinguishing different
> >communist movements. From my limited reading the Indonesian communist
> >suffered from being relatively reform minded, not revolution minded.
> >They weren't in a position to move beyond the Italian Communist model.
> >If you can't distinguish such things in external movements, then you are
> >not informed.
> I've seen nothing to suggest that a PKI coup in 1965 would have been
> followed by a "soft" regime...
> I've always thought that the key difference between Communist regimes that
> are an improvement over the other alternatives is how the regime comes to
> power. Those that come to power through free elections or genuine mass
> movements are generally pretty good: Allende was vastly superior to
> Pinochet; the Sandinistas superior to their conservative opposition (and
> vastly superior to Somoza). Those that come to power through foreign
> armies, long guerrilla wars, or coups are almost always very bad:
> Lenin-Stalin, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, Tito, Honecker.
> The only one of the second category that I offhand think was better than
> the alternative was the Afghan Communist Party. Najibullah was surely
> preferable to the Taliban...
> Brad DeLong

-- Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list