On Fri, 20 Feb 2009 22:47:31 -0800 (PST) Charles Brown
<cdb1...@prodigy.net> writes:
> Someone named Orlov says in the essay linked above:
> When the Soviet system went away, many 
> people lost their jobs, everyone lost their savings, wages and 
> pensions were held back for months, their value 
> was wiped out by hyperinflation, there shortages of food, gasoline, 
> medicine, consumer goods, there was a 
> large increase in crime and violence, and yet Russian society did 
> not collapse. Somehow, the Russians found 
> ways to muddle through. How was that possible? It turns out that 
> many aspects of the Soviet system were paradoxically 
> resilient in the face of system-wide collapse,
> ^^^^^
> CB: Evidently, the SU had more of a grass roots and democratic 
> society , working class people's world there all 
> along than a lot of observers and critics, West and East , thought. 
> Was this a paradox or was it proof that working 
> people ran things more than critics claimed ?

The Socialist Workers Party (USA) has long been insistent
that Russia remains a kind of "workers state."  Their formulations
strike me as nutty, but I think that they have stumbled on to
a facet of post-Soviet life that merits further exploration,
which is that many aspects of the Soviet system have managed
to survive the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Indeed, given
the recent economic downturn which has now begun to
impact Russia, it is quite possible that we might see Russia
reverting back to Soviet-style economic and social policies
in order to maintain order.  

It also seems to be the case that the same is true for
some of the other former Warsaw Pact countries as well.
The Czech Republic for instance has since 1989 been
governed mostly by rightwing governments that have
been avowedly committed to neoliberal economic
policies, and yet I have read that much of the social
safety net that was built up under the Communist
regime has remained more or less in place since
1989.  That indeed it has been the continuing
existence of this social safety net that made it
possible for the post-Communists governments
to gain the acquiescence of the Czech masses
in the creation of a market economy there.

> That the author evidently didn't expect this, 
> suggests he didn't quite understand fully what was going on "at the 
> base" of his country.
> ^^^^^
>  many institutions continued to function, and 
> the living arrangement was such that people did not lose access to 
> food, shelter or transportation, and could survive 
> even without an income. The Soviet economic system failed to thrive, 
> and the Communist experiment at constructing a 
> worker's paradise on earth was, in the end, a failure.
> ^^^^^
> CB: Or maybe the collapse of the Soviet state 
> was the state whithering away, as Marx prognosticated. And what is 
> left is closer to the free association of free producers, 
> or whatever, Since Marx didn't predict a "workers paradise", maybe 
> this author is looking for the wrong thing, and what
>  is there is closer to what Marx envisioned than he thinks.
> Since the collapse of the Soviet state, I've 
> always been interested in the reports like this one that people 
> continued to survive "without income" or wages. That 
> means that the money system, the wage system went "poof" !  That's 
> what is supposed to happen in communism. 
> Very interesting.
> ^^^^^^
>  But as a side effect it inadvertently achieved 
> a high level of collapse-preparedness. 
> ^^^^^^
> CB: Maybe it wasn't so inadvertent. Maybe the 
> big ,bad Soviet state was a protective, scary mask worn to ward off 
> the vicious imperialist system, and the real future society was 
> grown on purpose underneath, with hardy roots. It is 
> not likely an accident that the society he describes survived and 
> functions.
> You can be sure that they are growing a lot of local food in 
> gardens.
> ^^^^^ 
> In comparison, the American system could 
> produce significantly better results, for time, but at the cost of 
> creating and perpetuating a living arrangement
>  that is very fragile, and not at all capable of holding together 
> through the inevitable crash. Even after the Soviet 
> economy evaporated and the government largely shut down, Russians 
> still had plenty left for them to work with. 
> ^^^^^
> CB: My estimate is that he is mistaken that 
> this was "inadvertent". It was not a paradise, but it was a place 
> where the working class was empowered and running their own lives.
> ^^^^^^
> And so there is a wealth of useful information 
> and insight that we can extract from the Russian experience, which 
> we can then turn around and put to good use in helping
>  us improvise a new living arrangement here in the United States � 
> one that is more likely to be survivable.
> ^^^^^^
> CB: Hopefully. But unfortunately, we don't have socialism, and they 
> did.
> _______________________________________________
> Marxism-Thaxis mailing list
> Marxism-Thaxis@lists.econ.utah.edu
> To change your options or unsubscribe go to:
> http://lists.econ.utah.edu/mailman/listinfo/marxism-thaxis
Get free phone system price quotes from multiple dealers and save!

Marxism-Thaxis mailing list
To change your options or unsubscribe go to:

Reply via email to