[lbo-talk] Apropos the Gorbachev Discussion

Ismail Lagardien ilagardien at yahoo.com
Thu Aug 18 07:42:09 PDT 2011

Somewhere in the exchanges on the topic, I picked up references to the anticipated/imminent collapse of the Soviet Union at some point in the mid-1980s.... I hope that I am not mis-representing the point. This is, actually, not (specifically) the point I want to discuss. 

I have been wondering (for a LONG time) how bourgeois economists, especially The Sloth (apologies, that's my personal name for Brad De Long), and Paul Krugman would insist that communism failed based on the Soviet experiment/example, when, it has cost considerable amounts of money, significant measures of coercion and consent (my Gramscian tendencies are showing), and extremely high human costs to keep capitalism, the post-war US liberal international economic order (my training in International Political Economy is showing), going. I have always wanted to write a good paper doing a comparison on the two. The basic proposition, I guess, is that the bourgeois economist won the propaganda war.

This does, of course, not explain the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union which, I would argue, had more to do with its quasi imperial reach and insufficient effort to extend power and influence to the Soviet (republics), increased militarism and isolationism - none of which have anything uniquely to do with communism. 

If we "tested" the communist hypothesis, to borrow a phrase, and compared it to the (empirical) crisis in the Soviet Union, then contrasted and compared it with recurrent crises in the capitalist world (my training in comparative political economy is showing), especially the recurrence of financial (banking and currency) and general political economic downturns, recessions, depressions since the 1970s, for which there is A LOT of data, might it not be that the communist system between, say, 1920 - 1985, was more stable and durable? I would like to know, for instance, how much the former Soviet Union spent on its military over seven decades and how much the US spent, and the impact that these expenditures have had. My guess, just a guess, is that the US has probably spent more time and money saving or rescuing the post-war liberal international economic order, than the Soviet Union did on saving communism. Maybe that is a non-sequitur, hmmmm

Anyway, this is a thought that has been floating around in my head for a number of years...



Ismail Lagardien

Nihil humani a me alienum puto

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