Why did the USSR fall?

JKSCHW at aol.com JKSCHW at aol.com
Tue Apr 25 02:48:10 PDT 2000

As everyone here know, I am no defender of planning or authoritarian socialism, but Jim's comment here is only one theory, and not necessarily the most plausible one. First, high growrth rates for developing societies are not unusual, and the USSR did in fact develop from an agricultural to an industrial society. Second, estimates of these growth rates do not depend on taking Soviet statistics as gospel; there was a lot of good independent work to the same point. Third, and on the other side, an average from 1928-41, 45-75 is not very revealing, since it misses the big fall off from 1960-75, when growth rates fell a lot. The highest growth rates are 1922-41 and 1945-60, reconstruction after war and industrialization, what you'd expect. Fourth, many Soviet factories produced much waste, but not all, or the USSR would not have attained the very real industrialization and increase in living standards it did.

Finally there is the question about why the system came apart. Michael Ellman, a very distinguished exoert on planning and no particular fan of the USSR argues (in his anthology, The Dinintegration of the Societ Economy), that the system was deliberatelt dismantled by the perestroichiki rather than merely collapsing. Had not Gorbachev, et al, taken apart the central planning apparatus and put nothing in its place, it is at least possible and perhaps likely that we would still have the USSR to kick around into the indefinite future. In consumerist terms, that does not mean that it woukd have been a success.


In a message dated 00-04-25 05:33:05 EDT, you write:

<< So, the following is based on false statistics. The GNP estimates

produced by Soviet planners were based on false reporting. Whole

industries were empty shells producing goods that existed on paper, but

in fact were useless.

>>Excluding the period of war and recovery associated with World War II, much

>>of which was fought on Soviet territory, the Soviet gross national product

>>(GNP) grew at a high average rate of 5.1% per year during 1928-75, based on

>>Western estimates (see Table 1, p 24). Even during 1950-75, after basic

>>industrialization had been completed, the Soviet economy still grew

>>rapidly--much more rapidly than the US economy during those years, as Table

>>1 shows.

All of which begs the question why did the superior economic entity

collapse in the face of the inferior? No. The answer is that soviet

industry proved to be a paper tiger. >>

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