What if the Soviet Union never broke apart?

Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
Communism has been redefined a number of times as one leader in the USSR came into power after the other. There was no true communism along Karl Marx lines, more stalinism, etc, isms and in the end it was more of a dictatorship than anything else. The majority of people were forced to share everything they had, including their jobs and a small minority working in sought after Government jobs could have as much of everything as they like on the black market. Markets were not really free for everyone. When they went to their shops, the shops were mostly empty. The USSR over centuries has been a country of despots and small groups of people controlling the masses, the masses rising up and trying to change leadership, and in the end it seems to revert back to the template of oppression and lack of true freedom.
As per my earlier point.

If only Gorbachev... never mind.
 
Jan 2009
639
I will grant you that they departed from true Marxism. Like it or not...they did define communism though. Same way the Ron Paul and a bunch of 9/11 truthers redefined libertarianism...it sucks, but it has a new meaning.

I still fail to see how the key problems of the Soviet Union would have been solved by a Marxist system. It would just be transferring the problems of a state run system, to a tyrannical local government that thought it knew best. You remember the whole "Why should we have 3,000 tyrants 10 miles away, instead of 1 tyrant 3,000 miles away".

The key problems are still the same. You would have to have one collective ruling body that knew more than anyone. That just doesn't happen. The collective body in charge of the nation didn't know what was best. A collective body in charge of a township wouldn't know everything.

That's why I brought up the price system in the other thread. It does generally guide us to the best/most efficient solutions. The fact that Communism doesn't recognize this, by trying to define what's "fair", is a key flaw that helped doom the USSR and would presumably doom any "true" communist-style system.

The only socialism that works now isn't even close to what would be described under communism. It's subsidizing a market (health care, employment, etc) which does little damage to a capitalist system...in general at least.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
I will grant you that they departed from true Marxism. Like it or not...they did define communism though. Same way the Ron Paul and a bunch of 9/11 truthers redefined libertarianism...it sucks, but it has a new meaning.
I think you'll find that most proper socialists and communists rejected the Soviet Union entirely. See, for one example, the introduction of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

I still fail to see how the key problems of the Soviet Union would have been solved by a Marxist system.
*face in hands* Do you understand the dialectic? If no, then, quite simply, it wouldn't solve the problems. The capitalist system is wrong, it's bad, but it's a necessary step on society's trip to socialism. The basic journey is:

Nomadic Communism
Feudalism
(Bourgeois Revolution)
Capitalism
(Socio-communist revolution)
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
Socialism
Communism
Communitarian Anarchism

A premature revolution led to the collapse of the system because Lenin tried to skip the capitalist stage entirely. Which is impossible.

It would just be transferring the problems of a state run system, to a tyrannical local government that thought it knew best. You remember the whole "Why should we have 3,000 tyrants 10 miles away, instead of 1 tyrant 3,000 miles away".

The key problems are still the same. You would have to have one collective ruling body that knew more than anyone. That just doesn't happen. The collective body in charge of the nation didn't know what was best. A collective body in charge of a township wouldn't know everything.
It most certainly wouldn't. I think you understand me enough that you realise i hate big Government. In fact, that i hate Government as a whole. Why do you think we call it a liberation? Because it would be the emancipation of the working class, who are the victims of the establishment. Part of that establishment is capitalism, part is the Government. Part is also religion but that doesn't have to necessarily be destroyed.

That's why I brought up the price system in the other thread. It does generally guide us to the best/most efficient solutions. The fact that Communism doesn't recognize this, by trying to define what's "fair", is a key flaw that helped doom the USSR and would presumably doom any "true" communist-style system.
It actually pains me to have the USSR referred to as communist. Please don't. But yes, we value people over profit. The fact is, there would be a completely different economic system in place. If i had my way, it'd be what i call eco-economics (ecological economics).

(And don't think i don't know my economics. I think i scared Dodge on another forum, when i launched into a tirade about why Keynesian economics was a particularly bad way to go for the British and American Governments.)

The only socialism that works now isn't even close to what would be described under communism. It's subsidizing a market (health care, employment, etc) which does little damage to a capitalist system...in general at least.
That's not socialism, mate. It's called social democracy. It's basically a Welfare State.
 
Jan 2009
639
Actually I'll apologize a bit. My tired mind apparently was a little slow to pick up on the switch to political philosophy. Hence why I was a bit confused at the semantics. I'll happily admit that I'm outgunned in this field, mainly due to a complete lack of interest in philosophy in general.

So...yeah. Basically my only addition would be that this was a derail anyway. The problems of the Soviet Union were in their general brand of what they called communism (I do believe that the original founders really tried to start a government that would help the workers...it just sorta went off the tracks quickly) due to a fairly incompetent and corrupt state.

I will say that Gorbachev's plans would have never worked, since people tend to be once bitten twice shy. They were pretty much done with the "caring" government (I also think that the old guard might have done a coup if the state would have been stable enough to actually allow for the change...we'll never know though).

--
I will argue that the inherent issues with the Soviet Union do speak of a larger problem with communism though.

Your position seems to be twofold.

First that communism would basically be like a direct democracy (at least on a local level...if I'm understanding you correctly). This doesn't solve the problem. It assumes that one group of people will have perfect information.

As my last Econ teacher put it, no one knows everything, they haven't since Archimedes :). So...you need to let the market as a whole use it's little invisible hand to guide things efficiently. Money tends to work well too, since a little bit of money overrides one's irrational positions (proven in some unrelated Psych studies I've read up on).

Second, it's a little bit of a No True Scotsman fallacy that the Soviet Union wasn't a true communist system. The only failure seems to be a problem in human nature not being ready for a socialist system. You seem to be saying that human nature would just need to evolve much more...but that's really asking a lot.

Part of my frustration is misguided anger at the fools who think that things like "The Venus Project" will work just fine if people would just change. It is misguided though, so I apologize.

Either way, it's just a philosophical point so it's gets more leeway anyway. That's of course why I usually stay out of philosophy.

Hope that that makes sense.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2009
2,187
Part of my frustration is misguided anger at the fools who think that things like "The Venus Project" will work just fine if people would just change.
Agreed. It's as fallacious as women who think they can change the men in their lives. People are still the same as they were in the beginning of time, will always be the same, perhaps are even getting worse as the world is getting overpopulated and people more educated.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
Actually I'll apologize a bit. My tired mind apparently was a little slow to pick up on the switch to political philosophy. Hence why I was a bit confused at the semantics. I'll happily admit that I'm outgunned in this field, mainly due to a complete lack of interest in philosophy in general.

So...yeah. Basically my only addition would be that this was a derail anyway. The problems of the Soviet Union were in their general brand of what they called communism (I do believe that the original founders really tried to start a government that would help the workers...it just sorta went off the tracks quickly) due to a fairly incompetent and corrupt state.

I will say that Gorbachev's plans would have never worked, since people tend to be once bitten twice shy. They were pretty much done with the "caring" government (I also think that the old guard might have done a coup if the state would have been stable enough to actually allow for the change...we'll never know though).

--
I will argue that the inherent issues with the Soviet Union do speak of a larger problem with communism though.

Your position seems to be twofold.

First that communism would basically be like a direct democracy (at least on a local level...if I'm understanding you correctly). This doesn't solve the problem. It assumes that one group of people will have perfect information.

As my last Econ teacher put it, no one knows everything, they haven't since Archimedes :). So...you need to let the market as a whole use it's little invisible hand to guide things efficiently. Money tends to work well too, since a little bit of money overrides one's irrational positions (proven in some unrelated Psych studies I've read up on).

Second, it's a little bit of a No True Scotsman fallacy that the Soviet Union wasn't a true communist system. The only failure seems to be a problem in human nature not being ready for a socialist system. You seem to be saying that human nature would just need to evolve much more...but that's really asking a lot.

Part of my frustration is misguided anger at the fools who think that things like "The Venus Project" will work just fine if people would just change. It is misguided though, so I apologize.

Either way, it's just a philosophical point so it's gets more leeway anyway. That's of course why I usually stay out of philosophy.

Hope that that makes sense.
Excuse me if i sound annoyed, but i'm not sure how to put this any clearer.

THE SOVIET UNION WAS NOT COMMUNIST.

Whatever its original intentions, it consisted of a statist ideology. The state/government/establishment was omniscient and omnipotent. That in itself is a flaw. People rely on the goodness of the government's hearts to provide them with the basic fiscal/economic requirements for life.

The state was undemocratic.

Corruption brought the whole thing down in a heap and the Soviet Union quickly degenerated into a system of state capitalism, where the state is in control of the majority of the wealth.

Statism was another aspect. It had political power and power over the means of production.

This is not socialism.

Socialism is where the people have political control through direct democracy.

Socialism is where the WORKERS HAVE CONTROL OVER THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. Not the state.

Can you please start reading my posts properly if you're going to challenge my view?
 
Mar 2009
2,187
Socialism is where the WORKERS HAVE CONTROL OVER THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION. Not the state.
So how would this be in a capitalist country as I thought in capitalist countries those who own the businesses were in control over the means of production? I would be interested to learn how workers would be in control over the means of production? How would that work?
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
So how would this be in a capitalist country as I thought in capitalist countries those who own the businesses were in control over the means of production? I would be interested to learn how workers would be in control over the means of production? How would that work?
Well, you'd be right. The bourgeoisie are in control of the means of production.

Have i already said this? Workers cooperatives and an elected system of worker's soviets to run public services.
 
Jan 2009
639
I'm not getting the point you're making.

Did you not read the part where I pretty much agreed with you. The Soviets were arguably the best communist system possible for the time (an early revolution that was doomed to fail, as I think you put it...yeah I'm too lazy to go back a page). Not true to the ideal, doomed to fail, corrupt, inept, etc.

You are engaging in a No True Scotsman fallacy, because you are saying that your communist government would be better and not have these practical problems. That's fine though. I pointed out that you're arguing for a philosophy, which gets more leeway. I'm looking at it practically...so again...we're kinda splitting hairs. Either way, it was doomed to fail...kinda the point I was making anyway.

I wish you'd look at my point on why I keep being reminded of supporters of The Venus Project. You're obviously not as bad as them, but your style is sadly similar.

"Robots will be able to replace everything. We can't judge it based off of our profit system."

"How does that answer the practical problems that we've seen in similar societies?"

"Those don't matter, it wasn't our system."

"But parts were close. We can extrapolate."

"No you can't"

"Yes I can"

"Etc."
--

I do wish you'd look at the one point I made against the philosophy. Our past has shown us that any group of people are not good managers.

Your system of having workers run the businesses wouldn't work. They would have to have perfect knowledge of the world economy...which is unlikely. The profit system and price system makes it easy and manageable.

It could theoretically work in a few hundred years. It'd be really difficult, based off of imperfect human nature, and lots of other nasty things. It's a philosophy though...so I guess my grandchildren will know at some point. Or laugh at us both.

--
As another point, if we are talking about philosophy, capitalism works beautifully under an ideal system (you're taking the liberty with communism, I can take it with capitalism/free market theory).

Under a system of perfect competition (what economists usually strive for) everyone would be able to buy the best goods available for the lowest price possible. It would be the perfect system for consumers and a stable and workable system for businesses.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
I'm not getting the point you're making.

Did you not read the part where I pretty much agreed with you. The Soviets were arguably the best communist system possible for the time (an early revolution that was doomed to fail, as I think you put it...yeah I'm too lazy to go back a page). Not true to the ideal, doomed to fail, corrupt, inept, etc.

You are engaging in a No True Scotsman fallacy, because you are saying that your communist government would be better and not have these practical problems. That's fine though. I pointed out that you're arguing for a philosophy, which gets more leeway. I'm looking at it practically...so again...we're kinda splitting hairs. Either way, it was doomed to fail...kinda the point I was making anyway.

I wish you'd look at my point on why I keep being reminded of supporters of The Venus Project. You're obviously not as bad as them, but your style is sadly similar.

"Robots will be able to replace everything. We can't judge it based off of our profit system."

"How does that answer the practical problems that we've seen in similar societies?"

"Those don't matter, it wasn't our system."

"But parts were close. We can extrapolate."

"No you can't"

"Yes I can"

"Etc."
--

I do wish you'd look at the one point I made against the philosophy. Our past has shown us that any group of people are not good managers.

Your system of having workers run the businesses wouldn't work. They would have to have perfect knowledge of the world economy...which is unlikely. The profit system and price system makes it easy and manageable.

It could theoretically work in a few hundred years. It'd be really difficult, based off of imperfect human nature, and lots of other nasty things. It's a philosophy though...so I guess my grandchildren will know at some point. Or laugh at us both.

--
As another point, if we are talking about philosophy, capitalism works beautifully under an ideal system (you're taking the liberty with communism, I can take it with capitalism/free market theory).

Under a system of perfect competition (what economists usually strive for) everyone would be able to buy the best goods available for the lowest price possible. It would be the perfect system for consumers and a stable and workable system for businesses.
a) i don't doubt that communism is (probably a lot more than you think) slightly less productive than capitalism.
b) it is democratically and morally right that the workers should control what they produce.
c) I completely understand the capitalist economic system. I'm very much into economics but i can also understand alternative theories.
d) Capitalism works in theory, but it just doesn't cut the mustard in practical terms.
e) I'm making the point that a communist system cannot be based on statist ideology.
f) I'll send you a few things i thought about by PM.
g) I'm trying to get you to accept that there are better ways of doing things than Adam Smith suggests.
 
Mar 2009
2,187
a) i don't doubt that communism is (probably a lot more than you think) slightly less productive than capitalism.
Well some of the countries in the world try to follow its principles, Russia comes to mind, and although in theory it could work well, practice is another story. Do you know of an example where communism has been more productive than capitalism?
b) it is democratically and morally right that the workers should control what they produce.
How would they control what they prodice if there are layers of cooperative panels and bodies controlling them?
 
Last edited:
Jan 2009
639
*This thread and the gold standard thread are pretty derailed. I suggest we just form a separate thread in society if we want to continue.

How would they control what they prodice if there are layers of cooperative panels and bodies controlling them?
That's the problem. The ideal system I guess would be for the unions to run things...looking at things over here that's probably not a good idea.

This is the point I've been trying to drive home to Dirk. The Soviet Union may not have followed true Communist/Marxist ideals, but it left a few examples.

They did state capitalism. They used things like farming collectives though with officers in charge. That didn't work.

Dirk's system seems to call for direct democracy for the management of a business. This isn't any better. You're still depending on an intelligent majority to rise up and run the business in a smart manner. Worse, you're assuming that they will have an incentive to do so. Without a profit system in place, success isn't rewarded and therefore extraordinary success isn't well rewarded. You just have to be adequate. This was a big problem in the Soviet Union. You weren't rewarded for your work. You were rewarded for being a loyal party member...different cause, but the same result. Heck...we can see this inefficiency just in monopolies.

Also...efficiency is pretty bloody important. We already have issues with core stuff like food production and distribution. Those can't exactly take a hit to efficiency. This is what undercut the Soviets. At heart, they were less efficient due to taking away people's rewards (no big house for working hard, no new stuff, no better food, etc.). Yeah...they were also pretty stupid and corrupt. Doesn't make the first point empty.
-
Dirk, for the record, I recognize that you are just posting a different theory. Here's the thing...I've seen this more times than I care to remember. Your argument is logically the same as others on both sides of the aisle.

*Communism (Fair distribution of stuff because the workers should rule themselves. This will work because humans will be better.)
*The Venus Project (Robots will run things, people will get everything they deserve, and human will be better)
*Anarcho-Capitalism (This free system is the most just and everything will be more efficient...because it just will...and no the mafia won't run everything because they will be afraid to lose reputation (aka humans will be rational and better)
 
Last edited:
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
Well some of the countries in the world try to follow its principles, Russia comes to mind, and although in theory it could work well, practice is another story. Do you know of an example where communism has been more productive than capitalism?
You are kidding me.

Read back, please. Russia wasn't communist.

My point has been that there has been no implementation of communism in the world in history. I would argue that the closest we have come is 1919. And that would not have been successful, or even communist to the letter.

I accept that it is less productive, but it is NONETHELESS PRODUCTIVE.

How would they control what they produce if there are layers of cooperative panels and bodies controlling them?
Note the words "direct democracy". There are no panels/representatives. It is direct. Which keeps cooperatives relatively small.

My argument is a system that is close to capitalism but technically communist as the workers have control of industry and the means of production. There is much more democracy, direct control. It also eliminates the major issues of capitalism.

Parakeet, you too fail to realise this. There is a profit incentive. Communism does not mean equal pay, it means fair pay. A system that i call ecological economics. People get paid on the basis of the direct value of their work. There are independent finances. However, most people will live in intentional communities, although they will have the option not to. All of these are independent from one another. Some may encourage wealth-sharing, others not.

That is what communitarian anarchism is. There is free choice. This allows individuality. And the worker has control over the means of production. At the same time, the IC system means that those who can't/decide not to work can still survive comfortably.

It also relies on mathematics. We cannot start communism until the capitalist system no longer has any use. We are not quite there yet, in my opinion, although other communists might think otherwise.
 
Mar 2009
2,187
You are kidding me.

Read back, please. Russia wasn't communist.
My point has been that there has been no implementation of communism in the world in history. I would argue that the closest we have come is 1919. And that would not have been successful, or even communist to the letter.

I accept that it is less productive, but it is NONETHELESS PRODUCTIVE.
If you read back then you will find that is exactly what I said too, i.e. that Russia is not communist, but it is probably the closest for an example to look for in your argument about an economy based on communism being better than one on capitalism. In the final analysis your point can only be theoretical? You cannot say an economy under communism is better than capitalism until it has actually been proven. And there is no proof.
 
Jan 2009
639
Deanhills - Pretty much my point too. Well put and saves me a bit of typing :).

Dirk -

Profit system - ...how does that work again? The only way that the prices could be based on the labor involved would be if some larger outside source set them.

*Note...I actually realized the mistake earlier today but didn't want to change it. I would generally find the Soviet system of distribution much more practical than a "value of labor sets prices."

How would that even work under your system? How will you prevent markets from naturally forming? They always have in history. There are records of active trading in Cro-Magnons camps.

Finally, how would your direct democracy be simple? Direct democracy has trouble working on the town hall levels. If every worker has a vote, then again, you are counting on people acting rationally and having perfect knowledge of the entire world economy.

As a note, the price system does let us have effective knowledge of the entire world economy. Even if people don't realize it. Your price system wouldn't provide such information, since it would just be based on what the people thought that their labor was "worth."
 
Last edited:
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
If you read back then you will find that is exactly what I said too, i.e. that Russia is not communist, but it is probably the closest for an example to look for in your argument about an economy based on communism being better than one on capitalism. In the final analysis your point can only be theoretical? You cannot say an economy under communism is better than capitalism until it has actually been proven. And there is no proof.
There is no proof either way.

However, i did read somewhere that some figure or another agreed that a clone of my theory was entirely economically sound. I'll edit it in if i find it.
 
Jul 2009
5,880
Port St. Lucie
I think it's safe to say we were on our way to bankrupting each other. If the Soviets would have held out, we'd be having this same discussion, only it'd be called 'What if the United States never broke apart?', they'd been no war.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
I think it's safe to say we were on our way to bankrupting each other. If the Soviets would have held out, we'd be having this same discussion, only it'd be called 'What if the United States never broke apart?', they'd been no war.
In both countries there was an increasing expenditure of weapons and a constant erosion of civil liberties.
 
Apr 2009
1,943
Disunited Queendom
Do you think this has stopped? I see evidence of both, in both countries on an increasing scale.
I haven't really kept a good eye on Russia - it's run by gangsters.

But you're right, it's certainly happening in the US. And i can see it happening in Britain as well.