Brad De Long delong at econ.Berkeley.EDU
Sun Mar 28 14:21:57 PST 1999

>A Bulgarian/Greece comparison is very different than a US/USSR comparison, a
>Canada/Albania comparison or an anywhere/anywhere comparison. Very
>obnoxious of you, and very dishonest. I can see why you spend your time
>on-line rather than in RL where twisting people's words like that would get
>your teeth knocked out of your head.
Point--that you want to restrict your claim of equivalence to Greece and Bulgaria since WWII, not to make a more general claim of West Bloc-East Bloc equivalence--taken.

I cannot, however, see why you want to place such stress on it. Life in Greece--especially under the colonels--was a lot more unpleasant than life elsewhere in Europe-NATO in the years since WWII. But Bulgaria is no poster child for the advantages of really existing socialism either. It seems to me that the Greece-Bulgaria comparison is about the same as the Europe-NATO Soviet-satellite comparison. Petkov, Kostov, Chervenkov, Prahov, Anev, and many others learned that in post-WWII Bulgaria the tools of politics had very sharp edges--although they are less well-known than the Slanskys or the Bukharins.

>Your snipping of my comments to you, and changing the subject thread even
>though we are no longer talking about Kaza or HUAC are two more signs of
>intellectual dishonesty.

Right. I'm supposed to use the subject "DeLong thinks fascism leads to democracy." Tell you what: you start using the subject: "Nick Mamatas is a stooge desperately searching for a Stalin."

The real question is why in the years from 1945 to 1989 the non- or semi-democratic regimes in the West Bloc--Greece, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia--have evolved, slowly and haltingly, toward political democracy, human liberty, and economic prosperity, while their counterpart non-democratic regimes in the East Bloc--Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, E. Grermany, and the USSR itself--did not until the revolutions of 1989. It's not because of any general greater openness to reform on the part of "authoritarian" than "totalitarian" regimes: none of the East Bloc regimes were "totalitarian" in any sense after Stalin's death...

The difficulty of this historical problem is amplified once one notes that for almost the entire post-WWII period this democratizing trend did not hold for South Asia, Africa, or Latin America (although we hope it holds now). Moreover this democratizing trend did not hold before WWII in Europe--then it was democratic regimes that evolved into non-democratic ones, not the reverse. Fascism in the sense of Mussolini, or Hitler, or their many interwar imitators in Europe and post-war imitators outside Europe, is a powerful enemy of political democracy.

(In fact, let Lord Halifax rather than Winston Churchill become Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1940, and fascism would probably have won its struggle against political democracy in Europe in 1940--in which case the only political democracies in the world in the 1950s would have been Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, with the U.S. prohibiting about 15% of its adult population from voting.)

I don't think that I have all of the answers.

I have been impressed by Charles Maier's analyses of the "politics of productivity" after World War II in western Europe. I have scattered thoughts about how the success of western European social democracy in Bonn, Paris, London, Benelux, and Scandinavia exercised a powerful magnetic attraction on non-democratic countries in southern Europe (and the failure of really existing socialism exercised an equally powerful magnetic repulsion). I have scattered thoughts about how interwar fascism--of the classic Action Francaise-Mussolini-Nazi variety--is a very different animal from post-WWII non-democratic regimes, and how the use of "fascism" as an all-purpose term of abuse or even as a term descriptive of all regimes that do not hold free and fair elections.

But most of all I think that the increasing cultural and economic integration of western Europe played the most powerful role: it got Greeks used to thinking that they should have the same kind of rights to control their government as Italians, and Spaniard thinking that they should have the same kind of rights protecting them against their government as Frenchmen.

This is, I think, the reason to be in favor of policies of economic engagement, which these days automatically carries with it enormous cultural integration as well. There is a chance that we can get people in Shanghai and Canton thinking that their next government should run much more along the lines of government in Tokyo or Taipei or Washington, just as post-WWII economic and cultural European integration provided strong support for democratization in Madrid and Athens.

Brad DeLong

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