I share Doug's concern that this thread is in danger of spinning out of control, and as I shall be off this list for a week starting tomorrow, here are my two cents:
1) To Brad De Long: It is unclear whether the East Europeans were/would have been better or worse off without Soviet rule, that is, if Roosevelt had acceded to Stalin's request and opened a western front sooner thereby leaving the postwar US/Soviet line of control much further east. The counterfactual is unknown. If they would have had nice social democratic regimes a la Scandinavia or even the workers' managed market socialist system of Slovenia, maybe they would have been better off. But, if the alternative was the kind of military dictatorships and tinpot monarchies that dominated the region prior to WW II, it is not at all clear.
2) To Tracy Quan: I agree with Carroll Cox and others that the Stalin vs. Trotsky discussion has "been there, done that" at length and numerous times on other lists where you can wallow at length in various archives to your heart's (dis)content. Not here, please.
3) I fully agree with the point that one of the major problems with the Soviet economy was the excessive amount of military production. Over on marxism-international I argued that it was not unreasonable for the Soviets to want nukes in the face of a hostile US with nukes. But the amount of Soviet conventional military was unnecessary and virtually useless. It damaged the Soviet economy and did not save the Soviets from anything or anybody. The crucial decisions on this were made in the late 1940s under Stalin and his chief opponent on this matter was Head of GOSPLAN, Vosnesensky, whom Stalin had executed.
5) It is my understanding that at one point in time Mark Jones was an advocate of Thatcherite policies for the USSR. Hmmm. In any case there are very few places (Poland is arguably possible one) in the former CMEA where the post-communist economy has yet to perform better by any measure than the late communist one, although perhaps this will eventually happen. Barkley Rosser
-- Rosser Jr, John Barkley rosserjb at jmu.edu