[lbo-talk] Russia's Economy

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Fri May 11 04:27:53 PDT 2007

On 5/9/07, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at panix.com> wrote:
> On May 9, 2007, at 5:21 PM, Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:
> > On 5/9/07, andie nachgeborenen <andie_nachgeborenen at yahoo.com> wrote:
> >> I confess I find your attachment to Russian
> >> authoritarianism disconcerting -- it's less alarming
> >> than Yoshie's endorsement of reactionary theocracy in
> >> Iran, but neither strike me as socialist attitudes.
> >
> > No one is saying that Iran or Russia is socialist. It's up to the
> > Iranians and the Russians to decide whether they want socialism, and
> > it looks like neither people do at present, and in this they are very
> > much like many other peoples.
> >
> > Besides, if authoritarianism is what you really hate, why recommend
> > China?
> In your haste to compose 15 or 20 posts a day, perhaps you missed
> this from "andie":
> > In contrast, China,
> > whose social and economic syste, I also dislike, is
> > developing a serious industrial base of its own.

You skipped the question I asked: Is there any way Russia's leadership can make their country grow a lot richer than it is without making its citizens do what China's leadership have had its citizens do?

It's clear that China's ability to grow at the pace it does is in part predicated upon its authoritarian party-state's ability to dispossess peasants, drive them to cities, and keep their wages low enough to derive a lot of surplus to invest rather than allow workers and peasants to consume more today.

That's an empirical question (setting aside the large difference in class structure -- only 10.8% of Russia's labor force are engaged in agriculture, whereas 45% of China's are, according to the CIA -- which would make it impossible for Russian leaders to emulate their Chinese counterparts even if the Russian people allowed them to do so).

Now, the question of political principle and preference.

What if the Russians prefer a less authoritarian state with a slower growth rate and lesser industrial base to a more authoritarian state with a faster growth rate and larger industrial base like China's? Maybe the Russians are not so enamoured with fast growth of industry under an authoritarian state -- they have been there before, under the USSR.

On 5/9/07, tfast <tfast at yorku.ca> wrote to Justin:
> On the question of whether peoples consent/acquiescence to oppression
> legitimates it? My answer is no. But if most social orders are characterized
> by a degree of oppression and /consent I am not sure how useful of question
> this is outside of an abstract (as in general) setting.

In any case, the principle of democracy is that the Russian government's legitimacy derives from the Russian people, not from leftists in the West, so even if all Western leftists were to regard it as illegitimate, it would be still legitimate if a majority of the Russians thought so. The chances are that a government considered illegitimate by a majority will fall, sooner or later, even if the government is fairly dictatorial, unless it goes to the extreme of repression like fascism. Far from tottering, polls suggest Putin and his party are extremely popular, and only a few like Chavez and his comrades top them. If the Russians don't like them, they can vote for other parties.

On 5/9/07, ravi <ravi at platosbeard.org> wrote:
> the weather is wonderful (perhaps also in Ohio)

It's been extremely HOT here over the last few days, rising beyond 80 degrees in the afternoon, but I have resisted turning on AC, so don't tell me that I give any blank check to any of the fossil-fuel-exporting countries. ;-> Those of you who hate Iran, Russia, etc. should first abandon your cars, stop using AC, and do other things to conserve energy. -- Yoshie

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