End of Soviet Union - Who is responsible?

I don't understand how it fell apart, or how someone that grew up enjoying these benefits would turn their back on them and destroy them. Was there something fundamentally flawed with the system itself? Was it Gorbachev, the capitalist traitor? Was it the "star wars" that bankrupted them as the Americans say? I don't understand why some Marxists say "durr it wasn't actually communism that's why it collapsed" when the Soviet Union clearly made great strides and was head and shoulders above many so called superior capitalist nations. Even if it wasn't "communist," surely the results speak for themselves and prove themselves as a superior alternative to capitalism.

I don't mean it as a troll question, it's just I saw Cockshott's video on the subject and many others I have seen give varied and sometimes contradictory explanations/analyses.

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The economy really stagnated from the 1970's onward, especially since they were spending so much on military tech that they couldn't really afford. The system was corrupt as hell and the majority of citizens didn't really like socialism that much as a result. Soviet socialism did not actually end the class struggle, with workers and managers effectively having the same antagonism as workers/bourgeoisie - managers had higher salaries and could fire workers for striking etc (contrary to anti-communist propaganda, Soviet workers went on strike all the time and usually won, especially when party members supported them), which led to the famous Soviet joke 'capitalism is the exploitation of man by man; socialism is the opposite.' It was a dysfunctional system from the start, but after both the carrot of initial enthusiasm for socialism and the stick of mass repression faded there were no incentives for people to really work or be invested in the system. As such, the economy was incredibly unproductive compared to the USA - for example, even though they had enormous amounts of mechanised agricultural land and a large rural workforce, the USSR still had to import American grain. Even though majorities of Russians today think their life was better under socialism, at the time they expected that capitalism would instantly give them American middle-class standards of living because that was what western propaganda had them believe, which of course didn't match the reality. It reminds me of a joke that Parenti tells in Blackshirts and Reds, something along the lines of 'What did one year of capitalism teach us that seventy years of socialism never could? To love socialism.'

If you want to learn more about the effects of bureaucratisation on society and the class struggle between workers and managers, I would highly recommend you read 'The Soviet Century' by Moshe Lewin. He's a famous historian who actually lived in the USSR during the 1940's, working as a kolkhoz worker, steel-worker and then Red Army officer.

Economic slowdown which would pose a problem, but not in 1980s, gave westernboo Gorby the excuse for revisionism. Which majority of the upper class followed since the precious vanguard doesn't give a shit about Marxist though, they just were in the party for the material benefits.

This is untrue. Gosplan projected moderate growth of the economy towards the 21st century. There certainly were problems of national security but economy was alright, not great by any means but alright. I'll post the paper that states that, I don't have time now.

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The rapid growth experienced in the 30's and to a lesser extent 40's, 50's and 60's stagnated going into the 70's, even by Soviet economic data which is unreliable anyway as they published it for propaganda purposes. It's called 'The Brezhnev Stagnation' for a reason.

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A combination of excessive military spending, instead of letting nuclear weapons act as a way to reduce it, and USA actively attacking USSR's foreign cash reserves by encouraging Saudis to dump oil.

Khrushchev was many things, but he wasn't stupid when he was seeking a cash crop in corn and then cotton.

part 1

Well you could say that the soviet system was reversible, meaning that it was possible for capitalism to return, that means that they failed to fully transform society, the mode of production.

You could say that there are certain parallels between revisionism in the communist systems, and neo-liberalism in the soc-dem systems. In both cases it lead to publicly owned industry and resources being privatized.

To make the transition to socialism irreversible, one has to transform the mode of production, this means abolishing the money-markets-scheme-system, and replacing it with socialist-planing-system. The Soviets had the cybernetics programs that might have succeeded at doing this. But it also needs a form of social and political organization where the masses of people do not feel powerless, because that is necessary for reproducing the political system. In representative democratic political systems, there is the problem that representatives can represent interests other than that of their voters. Obviously you would need a political system where something like private wealth concentrations cannot have any possibility to be represented, because that is the very essence of making people powerless. In addition to this it would also need to negate the revisionist/neo-liberal mechanisms of reversal, meaning the politicians that gets into power to privatize the means of production or liberalize markets. The proposed solutions to this so far has been issue based direct democracy via computer interfaces in combination with randomly selected statistically representational political mandates.

The conclusion that Chinese communist party has reached about the USSR dissolution was that it could have been preserved by greater party discipline, even with all the structural flaws. This probably is true, pretty much all historical accounts of that period describe a Soviet leadership that would have been capable of doing what was necessary to prevent the dissolution, but they simply lacked the will to do it.

The Stalin era system was economically socialist, all the extracted surplus was directed towards societal development and not towards private wealth accumulation. Another aspect that makes it economically socialist is the parallel deployment of industry in a planed manor, as opposed to the sequential deployment of industry in a reactive manor , that you see in capitalist markets. This isn't just some arcane abstract intellectual masturbation, by parallel deployment you avoid the delay in industrial development that happens in capitalist systems that wait for market signals. This means that people spend less time waiting for the benefits of the technological advances to arrive, and the result is that the Soviet union had increasing lifespans during institutionalisation, while the capitalists had decreasing lifespans during industrialisation. Obviously this ties into the question of where the surplus goes. If private interests can capture large parts of surplus extraction, they will act against the interests of society, and actively seek to harm the general population in order to weaken potential competitors for their position.

The debate about "socialist" as a static way of being is idealist. The direction towards or away from socialism is what matters. The Soviet system was at least moving in a Socialist direction up until the Brezhnev era ended. The stagnation in the Brezhnev era meant that they still had a higher economic growth than average capitalists so it was stagnation only by Soviet standards. For the Social democratic liberal democracies in the west obviously the wealth redistributions and the nationalisation of industry was a move into socialist direction as well, even if this was only very briefly. Consider that social democrats did have a left-wing who did intent to reform out of capitalism for real, and not just bridge a crisis.

part 2

The Soviet decline had many contributing factors and the military spending was definitely a contributing factor there was economic drain of resources and labour power, but also the diversion of R&D capacity from productive sectors

Soviet system had a disadvantage compared to the capitalist system as in they lacked a counter part to transnational corporations, they could not just plop down something like a economic outpost, in foreign lands and easily expand the reach of their economic system.

Almost everywhere in the Soviet union referenda were held and most people voted to keep the Soviet system either by a simple or super-majority. The driving political force against Soviet system was the intellectual and technical strata that wanted to have western levels of incomes, they ignored that western labour aristocracy was based on the huge wealth that was accumulated during centuries of colonial extraction, which the Soviets did not have.

The "not real socialism gang" who just ignore the material reality. They demand perfect social harmony of an idealised hunter gatherer society. They ignore that technological support systems are not part of the environment, but have to be produced. What they want might be possible at some point. Consider that nature in the biosphere is a self reproducing life-support system that allows for humans to subsist on. And what they would need is a techno-sphere on top of the biosphere that is a self reproducing system that produces all the creature comforts.

This shitty fucking meme is how you know someone doesn't know what they're talking about. Soviet military expenditure never rose much higher than 10% of the GNP. leftybooru even has 2 graphs on the subject of soviet military expenditure.

Sure it is
I find it ironic that people seem to ignore that exponential growth cannot be maintained for long. Eventually there is a limit and things start to straighten out. Income growth lowered overtime because, the higher incomes became, the less there was the need for more income, thus the growth slowed. It's the same reason why the expected life expectancy evened out, at some point there is a level when it would take extreme measures and a lot of resources to push it further.

The attached book, Revolution from Above by David Kotz and Fred Weir is the best leftist take on the subject IMO. This is the revised edition with a section on Putin.


*USSR ruled primarily by unelected Nomenklatura bureacratic / managerial caste, which gradually increased its material privilege (USSR did not eliminate the wage gap, it was actually similar to western social democracy)
*Economic stagnation sets in in the late 70s. Belief in the immortal science of Marxism-Leninism, the only thing keeping this educated caste supporting socialism, starts to fade
*Gorbachev comes to power on the basis of this discontent. Perestroika market reforms disrupt the economy even further, Glasnost press freedom allows the Soviet elite to express their closet neoliberalism more openly.
*Yeltsin, elected governor of Russian USSR, declares Russia to be separate of the Soviet Union's authority and begins neoliberal shock therapy program. Party elite caste in full support, Russian working class quietly accepts it thanks to discontent with Soviet system and promises of democracy, which will allow for a "democratic socialism" overwhelmingly supported in public polls
*Shock therapy program massively unpopular, massive turnout in first legislative elections to stop it. Yeltsin responds by launching a coup (called the "constitutional crisis" in the west) to dissolve the legislature and massively increase his executive power, hundreds of protestors killed
*Situation repeats in 1996 election, Communist Party candidate Zyuganov only "defeated" thanks to universal porky media / donation support for Yeltsin, theft of IMF funds by Yeltsin campaign, and probable vote fraud.

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The military still took many resources away from the rest of the economy though. Even official Soviet publications and speeches would be like "we'd do a better job providing for peoples' needs if we weren't forced by the US into the arms race."

The problem is that the Soviet economy had to make the move from extensive to intensive growth; raising labor productivity in existing industries became increasingly important, yet the Soviet economic model was having problems achieving that. The reason the "Brezhnev stagnation" was an issue isn't because the economy literally stagnated in terms of growth rates, but because growth kept declining and there was no good idea on how to reverse the situation. Agriculture continued to lag behind industry, and light industry continued to lag behind heavy industry.

Yeah that's a good read. Another good read is "Socialism Betrayed" by Keeran and Kenny, which devotes a lot of analysis to the economy, the rise of the black market, etc.: b-ok.cc/book/1246151/ea7f45

This is my own summary of the USSR's demise:

Thoughts on Wolff and Resnick's book?

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Jesus christ what a fucking Shit-show….

As for the coup, what was the intended purpose of it, and what could've happened had it succeeded?

The Soviets didn’t invest in new technology to the extent the American did. This was because Brezhnev cut funding to research.

To restore Breshnevism

A civil war would occur, the anti-communist would win because NATO would join the war on their side. Or at they very least, their air force would.

The USSR between 1970-1984 had a lot of internal problems, but it took someone who purposely wanted to destroy it (Birthmark) to cause it to collapse in the way it did.

True, but in the actual economic view, the soviets were already minimizing Military expenditure as much as they could.
Yeah while it can be to an extent be attributed to bad planning, the other factor is the fact that the uSSR had less arable land than the USA, in spite of being far larger. It's sort of the same issue as with the DPRK.

Also the US was willing to invest in growing more food dense crops like corn which while Kruchevik tried to get the Soviets to do, everyone else tried to stop this.

Because Khruschev's corn reforms were devastating to the lands he was attempting to introduce them to. Not all land is the same, and due to his policies, the result was that a lot of top-soil got washed away due to this obsession with corn, causing a deficit in production and forcing the regions to recover over time.

Honestly my favorite on this subject is Parenti's Blackshirts and Reds. It explains the whole dynamics of it so well.

The organizers thought Gorbachev's new Union Treaty would have inevitably resulted in the USSR's demise, hence the coup to stop it from being signed.

The remark of the poster here that the coup was designed "to restore Brezhnevism" isn't really accurate. To my knowledge the organizers had no coherent ideology between them. The overriding theme was patriotism: that the demise of the USSR would be a catastrophe for its peoples and that criminal elements were pushing for its demise for their own enrichment.

Most of the coup's organizers later ended up supporting (or even working for) Putin.

Name one socio-economic system that wasn't proven reversible.

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Meant for

Maybe if they went onto Actual Socialism instead of GUBERMENT DOING SHIT they would've been fine.

"Hello ZeroBooks readers"

AnCaps must love you.

but why?

In this case "guberment doing shit" included abolishing the capitalist class and pretty much doing away with private property altogether.

Even if you don't think the USSR was socialist, the CPSU clearly went beyond free health care, municipally-owned utilities, and other supposedly "socialistic" measures entirely possible within capitalism.

Feudalism was pretty much irreversible after the destruction of the Roman Empire.

Very funny, Seal Elf Bee people. Go back and be more honest.

Be at peace. The missive is not for you. May the lake of fire that powers this solar system bring forth a merciful light unto all.

Incidentally, there was an ironic dearth of compassion. If the Soviets had created a system that gave ejected bureaucrats assurance of a comfortable life once they were out of the policy, cybernetic socialism would have prolonged the Soviets.

Since ejected bureaucrats starved, were sent to gulags, or died under house arrest, the idealistic cyberneticists had hell’s hounds upon their heels.

I did, Capitalism is not reversible. In it's struggle to overcome feudalism, it had to negate all the ways feudal lords could reassert them self's. The last feudal system was imperial Japan, and it was the only one that managed to deploy technology somewhat competently.

Consider what feudalism means, everybody does the same work their parents did. The only way to have new technology is for the big cheese in the castle to take an interest in it and force it on it's subjects by decree. Feudalism has no way to gage efficiency of it's tech deployment.

granted capitalism isn't very good at deploying technology either, it cannot distinguish between cost savings from reducing wages or cost saving from technical improvement. Since capitalism under pays workers, technology improvements appears to be more expensive, even when it would be more efficient. (People have to work harder for less reward because that is more profitable) That said it still does manage to be better at it than feudalism, because technical improvements still do appear as cost saving, even thought there is a distortion of reality by mystification through money calculation.

Socialism which aims to pay workers the full value of their labour, and hence can accurately gage the efficiency of technical improvements, and deploy it in a more optimal way than capitalism.

Consider that we now live in an age of increasing technical stagnation, most people only confuse increasing technical sophistication with actual advancement. A reason for that is the increase in rate of exploitation of labour. A Chinese official who seems to have grasped this, has complained about the long work hours in the Chinese tech sector and pointed it out as a barrier to technical innovation. This doesn't mean that china is going to stop exploiting its labour force due to this marxist insight, because they trade the extracted surplus for imported energy and food resources , that they lack in their domestic production. If they were to manage to negate these dependencies, it would become possible for them to move towards socialist production and gain the technical efficiency advantage. Obviously there is considerable bourgeois sentiment that would oppose this where it to become structurally possible. The implementation of a socialist system would have to go through the similar battle against the legacy mode of production remnants attempting to reassert their power, meaning that it would have to create all the adaptations that negate the attempts at reintroducing exploitation, and after that it could become irreversible.

To make this clearer there is a necessity for upholding something like this in the political arena for a while, but then it becomes structurally self-reinforcing.
Consider that capitalism had failed multiple times to assert it self against the feudal order, but after it managed to deploy coal powered steam-engine, capitalism became structurally self-reinforcing because the energy from that was much greater than the grain & water-wheels power that feudalism had used. For socialism the technology that will entrench this is computer aided planing and probably the energy-tech that outlasts oil, gas and coal. So basically a socialist economy will become structurally irreversible because it can deploy solar, wind, fission & fusion power in ways capitalism can't, This does mean more energy in the long run. For communism to become irreversible there's going to be a Dysonsphere and the capacity to do molecular production, which means that stuff costs nothing to make and lasts forever in (human context).

So was capitalsm despite the bongs and frogs reinstituting their monarchies.

I mean, they weren't wrong