Should we celebrate the fall of the Soviet Union

Dennis R Redmond dredmond at OREGON.UOREGON.EDU
Tue Jul 14 14:14:11 PDT 1998

On Tue, 14 Jul 1998, Louis Proyect wrote:

> The main thing that should interest LBO-talkers like ourselves is that
> imperialism did not exist in the former Soviet bloc. The United States
> pillaged Central America, while the USSR was a beneficiary to Eastern
> Europe over the long haul.

As a general rule, this is true (the exception being the pillaging of the eastern part of Germany, which was really a form of war reparations, and when you consider the horrific barbarities of the Nazi occupation of the East, where the Holocaust raged at its worst, one has to conclude the Germans got off pretty lightly -- the Russians took the machinery but mostly left the civilians alone). I think Boris Kagarlitsky put it best when he said the Soviet Union was an Empire which exploited its center instead of its peripheries -- i.e. the trade of Russian raw materials and energy supplies for Eastern European manufactured goods. Certainly, the Siberian peoples of the Russian Far East got a much better deal (higher wages, medical care, cultural renaissance and self-administration etc.) out of the old system than, for example, the Eskimo or American Indian populations have ever gotten out of the US or Canadian government (Farley Mowat's excellent and compassionate "The Siberians" is the best description of this). This is one of the reasons, of course, why the resistance to Yeltsinism has been strongest in Siberia.

-- Dennis

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