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Great Plunder of Russia after the dissolution of the USSR


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[Jan 18, 2020] Once private ownership is banned people stop caring. Motivation to work hard is gone If you are deprived of the possibility to make money and own private property.

Jan 18, 2020 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

karl1haushofer January 15, 2020 at 11:17 am

Yalensis, earlier you said that Russia should restore communism to remove poverty.

How did that work the last time in 1917-1991? The Soviet Union collapsed and historical Russia was split into many different parts.

I expect that if Russia would experiment communism the second time the outcome would be another split of Russia. This time it would be the North Caucasus, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and possible Siberia and the Far East breaking away from Moscow.

And why is that? Because communism doesn't work, period. It has been tried several times in many different parts of the world, and it has always failed.

The basics are simple. Once private ownership is banned people stop caring. Motivation to work hard is gone If you are deprived of the possibility to make money and own private property.

Say what you want about America but there is a good reason why basically all the greatest companies in the world are American, or at least from countries that have practiced capitalism for centuries: Microsoft, Apple, Exxon, Shell, Amazon, Intel, Ford, Mercedez Benz, Toyota, Samsung etc.

You can compare how a middle class American and a middle class Soviet citizen lived in the 1980s. While a typical middle class American lived in a big house in a suburb with two cars in the household, a typical Soviet middle class citizen lived in a "kommunalka" apartment where many families had to share the same bathroom and kitchen and a Soviet citizen had to work a certain amount of years before being allowed a right to own his or her own car, usually a Soviet made Lada. Most of the Soviet citizens never had a chance to get their own car but instead of to rely on public transport.

I know you are going to say that China is a good example that communism can work. But there is one problem: China is not really a communist country anymore. Actually the rise of China began at the same moment when Deng Xiaoping allowed private property and private enterprise. The horrendous communist policies of Mao Tse Tung killed tens of millions of Chinese people before that. Allowing people to work for their own well being was that made China what it is today (China is still a poor country compared to the West, but at least hundreds of millions of people are not starving anymore as was the case during Mao's rule).

If Russia ever restored communism again it would be the end of Russia.

Moscow Exile January 15, 2020 at 11:40 am
a typical Soviet middle class citizen lived in a "kommunalka" apartment

Really?

I lived in a modern, built in the 1970s block in Voronezh in 1989.: 3 large rooms, largish kitchen, bathroom and toilet, 2 balconies , 11th floor.

I live in a similar flat now, but on the 3rd floor, built 1976, central Administrative District, Taganskiy precinct, Moskva.

The only thing communal about those 2 dwellings is the central heating, which is turned on in October and turned off in May.

In England, during my childhood I lived in a slum street built in the 1850s: no central heating, no hot water, no bathroom, no toilet. The toilet was in the yard at the back. The dewelling had 2 downstairs rooms and 2 upstairs room, a so-called "two-up, two-down". I lived there until 1960.


Wilson St. in my home town, 1969

My hometown is situated in the first capitalist country in the world.

James lake January 15, 2020 at 12:04 pm
God that picture brings back memories – we lived in similar property in Birmingham until 1978. My family came over from Ireland in the 1960s and these type of houses were common place for working class families.

You can still find them in the midlands and the north, although they have been modernised to include bathrooms.

Northern Star January 15, 2020 at 12:49 pm
Capitalism and economic Nirvana are known to be one in the same in the minds of morons.

"Indications of this failure of capitalism are everywhere. Stagnation of investment punctuated by bubbles of financial expansion, which then inevitably burst, now characterizes the so-called free market.4 Soaring inequality in income and wealth has its counterpart in the declining material circumstances of a majority of the population. Real wages for most workers in the United States have barely budged in forty years despite steadily rising productivity.5 Work intensity has increased, while work and safety protections on the job have been systematically jettisoned. Unemployment data has become more and more meaningless due to a new institutionalized underemployment in the form of contract labor in the gig economy.6 Unions have been reduced to mere shadows of their former glory as capitalism has asserted totalitarian control over workplaces. With the demise of Soviet-type societies, social democracy in Europe has perished in the new atmosphere of "liberated capitalism."7

The capture of the surplus value produced by overexploited populations in the poorest regions of the world, via the global labor arbitrage instituted by multinational corporations, is leading to an unprecedented amassing of financial wealth at the center of the world economy and relative poverty in the periphery.8 Around $21 trillion of offshore funds are currently lodged in tax havens on islands mostly in the Caribbean, constituting "the fortified refuge of Big Finance."9 Technologically driven monopolies resulting from the global-communications revolution, together with the rise to dominance of Wall Street-based financial capital geared to speculative asset creation, have further contributed to the riches of today's "1 percent." Forty-two billionaires now enjoy as much wealth as half the world's population, while the three richest men in the United States -- Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett -- have more wealth than half the U.S. population.10 In every region of the world, inequality has increased sharply in recent decades.11 The gap in per capita income and wealth between the richest and poorest nations, which has been the dominant trend for centuries, is rapidly widening once again.12 More than 60 percent of the world's employed population, some two billion people, now work in the impoverished informal sector, forming a massive global proletariat. The global reserve army of labor is some 70 percent larger than the active labor army of formally employed workers.

Adequate health care, housing, education, and clean water and air are increasingly out of reach for large sections of the population, even in wealthy countries in North America and Europe, while transportation is becoming more difficult in the United States and many other countries due to irrationally high levels of dependency on the automobile and disinvestment in public transportation. Urban structures are more and more characterized by gentrification and segregation, with cities becoming the playthings of the well-to-do while marginalized populations are shunted aside. About half a million people, most of them children, are homeless on any given night in the United States.14 New York City is experiencing a major rat infestation, attributed to warming temperatures, mirroring trends around the world."

Like Like

Patient Observer January 15, 2020 at 5:14 pm
Comrade Karl, the vast majority of poverty in this world is in capitalist countries. Latin America and Africa will toss your silly assertions in the trash bin of history.

And saying China is not communist is equivalent to saying the US is not capitalist. I leave it to your to figure out what the foregoing means.

[Jan 01, 2020] This Jewish Vulture Capitalism is the way our Jewish Oligarchs act all over the world. Russia was pillaged by them in the 1990s.

Jan 01, 2020 | www.unz.com

Robjil , says: December 21, 2019 at 6:06 pm GMT

This Jewish Vulture Capitalism is the way our Jewish Oligarchs act all over the world. Russia was pillaged by them in the 1990s. Putin ended their reign of terror. This is the main reason Putin is so demonized in the Zion Vulture ruled West.

https://russia-insider.com/en/todays-jewish-billionaires-are-much-worse-19th-c-robber-barons-dont-give-your-guns-just-yet/ri28078

A few enlightened industrialists, such as Henry Ford, even went so far as to make the improvement of the lives of workers a priority, and to warn the people against the growing financial power of the international Jew.

Ford's warnings were prophetic. We are living in the second great Gilded Age in America, but the new Jewish oligarchs of the 21st century differ from their predecessors in several important ways. For one, they mostly built their fortunes through parasitic–rather than productive–sources of wealth, such as usury or real estate speculation.

[Jan 01, 2020] The consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union! (For its yearly anniversary - 26th of December 1991)

Jan 01, 2020 | www.reddit.com

Analysis/take

The consequences of the collapse of the Soviet Union!

26th of December is the anniversary of the collapse of the USSR.

Russia/Russian Soviet Socialist Republic

Kazakhstan(Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic)

Ukraine/Ukrainian SSR.

Ukraine seemed like it would become the next European power. It had 3 military districts left over from the USSR with the best weaponry in the world including 700,000 troops as well as a nuclear arsenal of 3000 that made it the 3rd strongest country in the whole world after the US and Russia. By the time of the war in the Donbass the number of military personnel dropped down to 168,000 while selling huge quantities of Soviet weaponry.

The destruction of democracy

Consequences for the Soviet people

According to the UN Human Development Index -- which measures levels of life expectancy. Commenting on the situation in the former Soviet Union after capitalist restoration, Fabre stated, "We have catastrophic falls in several countries, which often are republics of the former Soviet Union, where poverty is actually increasing. In fact poverty has tripled in the whole region".

To sum it up for the Soviet people - "98 Russian billionaires hold more wealth than Russians combined savings" or 200 Russian oligarchs have 485 billion USD most of which come from post Soviet factories that used to be owned by the workers but were sold off at extremely low prices.

Effects on the rest of the world

Civil wars within the USSR

Many love to say that "the USSR's collapse was bloodless".

This is a list of all the civil wars between Soviet countries and peoples:

Overall - roughly 270,000 Soviet citizens have died from direct causes of the war.

Millions and millions have been displaced and have been thrown into poverty.

Conclusion

The Soviet Union was once the leader in all aspects of life, guaranteeing a tomorrow for all of its citizens where they would not fear losing a job, being homeless, being hungry, unabling to afford medical care. The Soviet Union produced its own planes, cars, hydroelectric dams, nuclear power stations, rockets while the workers used to own the means of production. In 1991, they took away our freedom while selling off all that my people have worked for, the consequences of which will be felt around the world until Capitalism finally falls.

Comrade Odarin Vladimirov.

Sources:

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG

https://forbes.kz//process/expertise/pochemu_kazahstan_vse_silnee_zavisit_ot_importa_myasa/

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2019/03/06/98-russian-billionaires-hold-more-wealth-than-russians-combined-savings-a64720

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WX1867UCsc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn8JluzDmRw

https://4esnok.by/mneniya/promyshlennost-ukrainy-iz-topov-v-topku/

https://ria.ru/20160817/1474536897.html

https://rian.com.ua/columnist/20160818/1014892653.html

https://inosmi.ru/sngbaltia/20121205/202996017.html


zavtraprivet 12 points · 6 days ago

· edited 5 days ago

Small note from me, even after 28 years, Ukraine's GDP is at 59% of its 1991 level. level 1

PringlesEatingNPCs 9 points · 5 days ago
· edited 5 days ago

It's funny that the westerners/pro-westerns were always scared of a "Big Brother" scenario but they never realised there was 2 opposites in their time, one keeping another from becoming the "Big Brother" Now they're cheerful at the "Big Brother" - the USA level 1

zedsdead20 8 points · 6 days ago

Any comparisons of USSR to 2019? level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 6 points · 6 days ago

Most countries overtook the SSR's, but only after 30 years! level 3

tdzida26 2 points · 5 days ago

Which countries? Former Soviet ones or other European ones? level 4

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 2 points · 5 days ago

SSR stands for Soviet Socialist Republic, thus its Former Soviet. level 1

Jaydoss12 5 points · 5 days ago

Thank you comrade level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 6 points · 5 days ago

No problem comrade! level 1

colossalwreckemail 4 points · 5 days ago

You absolute beast. This is amazing. Thank you. Please write more, start a blog if you want.

o7 level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 3 points · 5 days ago

Comrade, I already have 4 other posts. Just check my posts on my profile. Thank you for the kind words o7! level 1

Deutsche-Kaiserreich 3 points · 5 days ago

And people say that capitalism is better, love from a former Soviet ally India. level 1

Anti_socialSocialist 3 points · 5 days ago

The Soviet Union may've been a bit top-down for my liking, but its fall was undoubtedly a tragedy and one of the worst losses of life outside of war in the 20th century. level 1

DaddyStalinHimself 3 points · 5 days ago

The illegal dissolution of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the past 50 years, perhaps of the last century. The movement for our liberation will recover, but it has cost us decades of progress and hundreds of thousands of lives. Rest in peace to our champion. level 1

nsag_1 3 points · 4 days ago

It is a well researched article, thank you for posting it. Looking forward to other analysis around international states' affairs and their link to current CIS countries level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 1 point · 4 days ago

Indeed! level 1

torukmato France 3 points · 2 days ago

Le Monde Diplomatique in several languages will make a statement of the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall. level 1

VanguardVolunteer 5 points · 5 days ago

Thank you, Comrade Odarin!! level 1

bolshevikshqiptar Albanian Marx 4 points · 6 days ago

o7 level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 4 points · 6 days ago

o7 level 1

May_One 2 points · 6 days ago

Saved. Thank you! level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 3 points · 6 days ago

np comrade !!! level 1 Comment deleted by user 5 days ago level 2

Nonbinary_Knight Spanish Engels 8 points · 5 days ago

Bourgeois scum has stolen the meaning of democracy, you seriously think that voting once every 4 year for one particular rich fuck and his coterie of rich fucks to be exalted is the sole measure and implementation of democracy? level 3

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 6 points · 5 days ago

Its not just that, can you remove a manager from his position for example? Of course you can't, you will have to deal with him for years while you can lose your job with a snap of his finger. In the USSR, managers and everyone in the hierarchy was elected, thus you could remove your manager or whoever by popular vote. level 3 Comment deleted by user 5 days ago level 4

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 5 points · 5 days ago

Rule number 3, u/bolshevikshqiptar already warned you. Proof or don't say anything. Im from the USSR and people voted in my country, my uncle was the ex mayor of his town elected by the people. level 4

Nonbinary_Knight Spanish Engels 5 points · 5 days ago

traitor level 2

Cecilia_Raven 6 points · 5 days ago

come on mate, guaranteeing employment is way different from forced labour lol level 2

Soviet_Odarin Soviet Historian ☭ 5 points · 5 days ago

Democracy ? Where is democracy in Russia? Kazakhstan? Belarus? Shooting the Parliament building is democracy isn't it? Go educate yourself and read my post about Soviet democracy, maybe it will change your mind. Forced labor? Now you complain that having a job is guaranteed? level 2

bolshevikshqiptar Albanian Marx 2 points · 5 days ago

Rule number 3 level 2

PringlesEatingNPCs 1 point · 5 days ago

true but the oligarchs still standing and the capitalist took advantage of it -> making it worser for the people imo. level 3 Comment deleted by user 5 days ago level 4

PringlesEatingNPCs 2 points · 5 days ago

And get a free award boosting your fame while the capitalists milking money from your fame ? Look at Greta Thunberg.

[Dec 25, 2019] The USSR was no workers' paradise. For all its formal allegiance to Marx and Engels, it was a militantly hierarchical class society ruled by a tyrannical state

Dec 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

John Doe , Dec 24 2019 12:47 utc | 93

The USSR was no workers' paradise. For all its formal allegiance to Marx and Engels, it was a militantly hierarchical class society ruled by a tyrannical state. After World War Two, it held brutal military power over Eastern Europe and East Germany. Still, Soviet-era Russia created an urban and industrialized society with real civilizational accomplishments (including cradle-to-grave health-care, housing, and food security and an impressive educational system and cultural apparatus) outside capitalism. It pursued an independent path to modernity without a capitalist class, devoid of a bourgeoisie, in the name of socialism. It therefore posed a political and ideological challenge to U.S-led Western capitalism – and to Washington's related plans for the Third World periphery, which was supposed to subordinate its developmental path to the needs of the rich nations (the U.S., Western Europe, and honorarily white Japan) of the world-capitalist core.

Honest U.S. Cold Warriors knew that it was the political threat of "communism" – its appeal to poor nations and people (including the lower and working classes within rich/core states) – and not any serious military danger that constituted the true "Soviet menace." Contrary to U.S. "containment" doctrine after World War II, the ruling Soviet bureaucracy was concerned above all with keeping an iron grip on its internal and regional empire, not global expansion and "world revolution." It did, however "deter the worst of Western violence" (Noam Chomsky) by providing military and other assistance to Third World targets of U.S. and Western attack (including China, Korea, Indonesia, Egypt, Syria, Cuba, Vietnam, and Laos). Along the way, it provided an example of independent development outside and against the capitalist world system advanced by the superpower headquartered in Washington.

To make matters worse from Washington's "Open Door" perspective, the Soviet Empire kept a vast swath of the world's natural and human resources walled off from profitable exploitation by global capital.

All of this was more than enough to mark the Soviet Union as global public enemy number one for the post-WWII U.S. power elite, which had truly planet-wide imperial ambitions, unlike Moscow.

The Soviet deterrent and alternative to U.S.-led capitalism-imperialism collapsed once and for all in the early 1990s. Washington celebrated with unchallenged invasions of Panama and Iraq. The blood-drenched U.S. President George H.W. Bush exulted that "what we say goes" in a newly unipolar, post-Soviet world. Russia reverted to not-so "free market" capitalism under U.S.-led Western financial supervision and in accord with the savage austerity and inequality imposed by the neoliberal "Washington consensus." Chomsky got it right in 1991. "With the collapse of Soviet tyranny," he wrote, "much of the region can be expected to return to its traditional [subordinate] status, with the former high echelons of the bureaucracy playing the role of the Third World elites that enrich themselves while serving the interests of foreign investors." The consequences were disastrous for many millions of ordinary Russians.

Source:

How Russia Became "Our Adversary" Again
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/how-russia-became-our-adversary-again/


Joost , Dec 24 2019 13:22 utc | 94

@Kevin #18
"Can anyone recommend a good book on the privatization of state assets of the former USSR? Particularly one that focuses on how mid-level technocrats, often of a persecuted minority, were able to get the capital to purchase these assets."

PUTIN from Chris Hutchins is a good read that also describes the rise of the oligarchs and how Putin dealt with them. Like one oligarch made a small fortune selling the first western cars in the country and how they bought up cheap shares from the Yeltsin privatisation scheme. Privatized companies changed ownership under threats or even at gunpoint. The oligarchs were simple mobsters at the time. That is about what i vaguely remember reading the book a few years back but there is a lot more detail.

Madderhatter67 , Dec 24 2019 14:35 utc | 100
TG #29
Replacement level fertility" is the total fertility rate -- the average number of children born per woman -- at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next, without migration. This rate is roughly 2.1 children per woman for most countries, although it may modestly vary with mortality rates'

Russia 1.61 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Canada 1.6 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Japan 1.42 children born/woman (2018 est.)
Italy 1.45 children born/woman (2018 est.)
France 2.06 children born/woman (2018 est.)

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/356.html

c1ue , Dec 24 2019 15:50 utc | 104
@Kevin #18
I would suggest looking at articles in the Exile: www.exile.ru
Unfortunately, these are no longer free.
The short story: the most successful "privatizations" involved getting control of a bank, then using the bank's deposits to buy up companies.
The most successful scheme was getting control of a bank which was partly used by the Russian government for payments; I recall one example where one bank was used to clear funds paid for state enterprises - so the "privatizers" were literally pushing money out for assets and getting them back.
Further down the scale - there was all manner of chicanery including kidnapping, extortion, murder and what not.
The problem with books published in English is that you're almost guaranteed to run into thinly disguised agitprop ranging from the usual American and British academics taking the national security dime, to Khodorkovsky and the other O.G. Jewish oligarchs attempting to whitewash history: Gusinski, Berezofsky, etc.
pogohere , Dec 24 2019 18:17 utc | 107
Kevin @ 18

Try this: Wheel of Fortune: The Battle for Oil and Power in Russia – May 15, 2017

by Thane Gustafson


A review @ Amazon:

Thane masterfully succeeded in uncovering the fundamental drivers of the Russian oil industry and its interdependency with the political complex through a comprehensive and convincing historical analysis, with plenty of meaningful insights and endearing anecdotes. Rooted in Soviet legacy and having gone through the 90s bust-boom roller coaster and 2000s state reconsolidation the industry is a unique globally isolated eco system, and, with Russia as a whole, is at a crossroads. A must read for any decision maker in the O&G business.

I've read it and this review is a good summary.

[Dec 25, 2019] Gorbachev actions were a betrayal of Russian values and a historical mistake of immense proportions. Russia is learning to how to minimize the core values of the West greed, deception and narcissism.

Dec 25, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Patient Observer December 24, 2019 at 4:41 am

Just a quick take, the separation of the Russian government/ruling elites from Russian culture suggests foreign influence as in Russia's elites looking to the West and aping Western ideas – think of Peter the Great or Gorbachev. That was a betrayal of Russian values and a historical mistake of immense proportions. Russia is learning to how to minimize the core values of the West – greed, deception and narcissism.

China has done a better job than Russia in that regard but on the other hand it has a vastly different history and enjoyed more isolation from Western meddling if not outright invasions.

yalensis December 24, 2019 at 10:44 am
I would make a distinction here. Mastering Western technology is not necessarily the same thing as "aping Western ideas". Also would distinguish between Peter the Great who won some remarkable geopolitical victories for Russia (think Poltava); vs Gorbachov, who completely betrayed Russia. To the extent he even left Russia vulnerable to American nuclear attack for a window of 2 whole hours, or more.
As I showed in this old post .

Gorby in phone conversation to George W. Bush Daddy:
"And now concerning Russia – this is the second most important theme of our conversations. In front of me, on the table, lies the Decree of the President of the USSR, concerning my resignation. I am hereby also relieving myself of the duties of the Commander-in-Chief and handing over my responsibilities for employing nuclear weapons , to the President of the Russian Federation. In other words, I continue to manage these affairs right up until the completion of the constitutional process. I can assure you, that everything is under strict control. The moment I announce my resignation, these orders will become effective. There will not be any kind of dispute about this. You can spend your Christmas evening in complete peace of mind."

In other words, Gorby not only left the Soviet Union completely vulnerable to nuclear attack for a period of 2 hours or so; but even announced that fact to their greatest enemy. What kind of national leader does something like that? The only reason any Russians are even around today, is because George Bush Daddy was either too kind, or too dull-witted to take advantage of that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

[Dec 25, 2019] Khruschov's granddaugher turned to be a regular neocon prostitute and bash Russia on pages on NYT

Notable quotes:
"... To use Krushchev's granddaugher as a source was also a very low blow: she's herself an op-ed "journalist" coopted by the western MSM (I remember reading her pieces when she worked for the Asia Times, and she's for sure not a specialist/expert). ..."
"... It's also false when the NYT stated Russia is some kind of last refuge for oligarchs, mafiosos and terrorists in the world. No, this refuge's name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. ..."
"... The USA is also the last refuge of Latin American dictators. More than 3,000 enemies of the State from Latin American countries live in Florida under officially recognized political asylum. Many of them are ex-generals and bankers. ..."
"... There's also a macabre message in the headline of the NYT article: that it is weird, from the American point of view, that Russia was somehow able to survive the absolute destruction that should have happened with its Shock Therapy during the Yeltsin era. ..."
"... The author indeed seems genuinely puzzled as to why didn't Russia degenerate to a Third World banana republic after the capitalist charge on the newly founded nation sponsored by the USA; after all, it worked in Latin America and many other countries. I've already discussed it here many times, and I stand by my hypothesis: Russia is still able to rest on the laurels of the good ol' Soviet Union. That windfall will soon end, so Putin must think a viable succession scheme and viabilize the five-year plans. ..."
Dec 25, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Dec 23 2019 18:08 utc | 25

The worst thing about the NYT piece is that it is not in the "Opinion" section, but right in the Front Page, as if it were genuine investigative journalism.

To use Krushchev's granddaugher as a source was also a very low blow: she's herself an op-ed "journalist" coopted by the western MSM (I remember reading her pieces when she worked for the Asia Times, and she's for sure not a specialist/expert).

I disagree with b about the "hidden economy" thing. Every capitalist country has a hidden economy; the USA, for example, has by far the largest shadow banking system in the world, which could easily rise its GDP by 50%. Italy recently considered including the mafia business in the GDP calculation so they could officially get out of recession. Having 20-30% of your economy "hidden", therefore, is not an excuse for the Russian Federation for the dire state of its own people.

The NYT is also wrong when it infers Yeltsin was "fixing" the Soviet economy by making it take the bitter pill. The Soviet economy begun to unravel precisely because of Gorbachev's Perestroika - which was the policy designed precisely to reform the system in the first place. Yeltsin made things even worse - far worse than a linear extrapolation even from the Gorbachev era. Indeed, that's why he was toppled in the first place.

It's also false when the NYT stated Russia is some kind of last refuge for oligarchs, mafiosos and terrorists in the world. No, this refuge's name is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Thanks to its inumerous tax havens (of which the Cayman Islands are, by far, the largest), many traffickers, terrorists and oligarchs are able to roam freely around the world, with their money laundered. Many of them even buy residence in London and a British Green Card, so they can also enjoy the protections the Crown gives to its subjects. In their free time, they also buy some English football clubs, but that's another story. Switzerland also enjoy many of the perks of being a tax haven.

The USA is also the last refuge of Latin American dictators. More than 3,000 enemies of the State from Latin American countries live in Florida under officially recognized political asylum. Many of them are ex-generals and bankers.

Indeed, Russia is considered a "not free" nation precisely because this kind of financial promiscuity doesn't exist on a systemic-cultural level. Freedom, for the liberals, is nothing more nothing less than being able to freely purchase and use the commodities you bought on the free market with a certain amount of money. Russia (but mainly China) doesn't allow the western oligarchs to do that, so it is kind of a disappointment to the "vital center".

There's also a macabre message in the headline of the NYT article: that it is weird, from the American point of view, that Russia was somehow able to survive the absolute destruction that should have happened with its Shock Therapy during the Yeltsin era.

The author indeed seems genuinely puzzled as to why didn't Russia degenerate to a Third World banana republic after the capitalist charge on the newly founded nation sponsored by the USA; after all, it worked in Latin America and many other countries. I've already discussed it here many times, and I stand by my hypothesis: Russia is still able to rest on the laurels of the good ol' Soviet Union. That windfall will soon end, so Putin must think a viable succession scheme and viabilize the five-year plans.


casey , Dec 23 2019 18:12 utc | 28

@FSD:
Agreed, but I think we are seeing a strange form of mass psychogenic illness in the West ( https://quillette.com/2018/11/02/trigger-warnings-and-mass-psychogenic-illness/), and in the EU and US in particular. I strongly suspect that the farther an farther the mass media push the willingly ignorant bulk of people out into a fictional and counterfactual mental reservation, the more and more people crave distraction that, like a junkie's fix, needs to always get bigger to reach the same effect. I turned on the TV the other day and happened on a show called Masked Singer, which struck me as so insanely manic in its subject and its presentation -- loud music, flashing lights, cartoonish hosts, junkie-like pacing -- that I wondered that anyone can function anymore inside this pin-ball machine world. It's like the entire West is having, especially in its so-called cultural nodes, a collective manic episode with very real danger of self-harm.
TG , Dec 23 2019 18:21 utc | 29
Indeed. But here is yet another angle:

Because Russia's population is relatively stable, every small uptick in economic growth is pure profit. With a stable population, even 1% annual growth, compounded every year, can result in substantial prosperity before too long.

But in the United States, with open-borders cheap-labor immigration pushing the population ever higher, the numbers are different. When a population ir forced upwards, the economic demands are even higher than the population growth itself. That's because you need to not just grow the ongoing population, but provide massive investments in new infrastructure. Russia is like a person who's paid off his mortgage, and can devote all income to living and making progress. The United States is like a homeowner with a massive mortgage and who also has to pay massive taxes to pay for more sewers and roads and energy conservation etc.

So 1% annual sustained economic growth in Russia means Russia is making progress, while even 3% annual economic growth in the United States means it is falling behind.

Don't believe me? From 1950 to the present, immigration increased California's population from 10 million to about 40 million. On paper the economy boomed, but the average person is much worse off, the quality of life has tanked, roads are choked, rents are sky-high while wages are stagnant, air quality is down even with massive spending on pollution controls, poverty is the worst in the nation, homelessness is booming, etc.

joetv , Dec 23 2019 18:46 utc | 31

It's my guess Putin doesn't waste time reading the NYTs. Why should he, and for that matter why should anyone? The Times and the other Oligarch rags should be ignored by all. Break the chains. Focusing on God and family a young couple may try homesteading. Ignore the rest.

ak74 , Dec 24 2019 4:19 utc | 78
The imperial lie machine sure is disgruntled that the 1990s attempt to economically and biologically crush Russia once and for all was a failure and Russia has since been reasserting itself. It wasn't "the end of history" after all.

That was the source of the underlying current of Russia Derangement among the US elite classes (political, economic, media, academia, professional etc.), the many provocations, and then the total meltdown beginning in late 2016.

Since it really seems to be a collective mental illness (I mean that literally) afflicting a power group which is already psychotic and violent, and since it coincides with the accelerating erosion of the US imperial position, it's looking more and more likely that this must eventually lead to all-out war. I just can't imagine the US stepping back, any more than I could imagine Hitler doing so.

America's obsessive bashing of Russia (and now China) is suggestive of a deep psychological disorder.

Though the Americans and their allied apologists will insist that it is sincerely motivated by a humanitarian concern for Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights(TM), that is quite laughable given America's concentration camps for undocumented immigrants; its incarceration of immigrant children in cages; or the US Prison Industrial Complex in general, which has been called America's new Jim Crow in that it imprisons millions of African Americans and other minorities and relegates them to a new racist caste system.

No, cut through the barrage of American Moral Supremacism and other delusions, the United States is enraged that, despite its attempt to economically rape Russia in the 1990s through American-promoted Free Market reforms and Neoliberal "shock therapy," Russia is still standing and indeed resurgent.

THAT is what enrages the Americans and triggers them in rug-chewing fits of frenzy.

[Dec 10, 2019] The key factor in USSR's demise was that it couldn't sustain the competition with the West and wasn't able to develop, "progress", "grow" at the rate the West was showing off. US and USSR levels were far closer back in 1950 than in 1980, and the discrepancy was only growing

Dec 10, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Clueless Joe , Dec 9 2019 16:28 utc | 100

John Brewster - 90
Did you by chance confuse Russia with Italy? Because Russia has close to 150M people, not 65M, significantly more than Germany. Granted, less than USSR back in 1939, but militarily more powerful compared to Germany - and possibly with more exploited resources.

vk - 79
I tend to agree with the view that the key factor in USSR's demise was that it couldn't sustain the competition with the Kapital and wasn't able to develop, "progress", "grow" at the rate the West was showing off. US and USSR levels were far closer back in 1950 than in 1980, and the discrepancy was only growing. Reagan fanboys might argue that he sped up the decaying process, but troubles and upheavals were going to happen, no matter what. Now, why this rate of progress was so different is another matter, and probably the most important one - both for 20th century history and for the fate of the West in this century.
It's also painfully obvious that the only path outside downright servitude for Europe is to distance itself from the USA and seek if not a direct alliance at least a clear partnership with Russia and a "detente" with clear rules on their borders and a common declaration of neutrality over Ukraine - as in: no side will try to annex the whole country, which either would be split up or ideally would have a heavy dose of decentralization and localism. But it is of vital importance for the actual survival of Europe that atlanticists and Russiaphobes be hunted down and expelled from any position of power or influence - be it from economy, media, politics.

[Dec 09, 2019] When it became clear the USSR wouldn't be able to keep up technologically with the USA, Gorbachev then decided (without knowing it) it would be preferrable for The USSR to disappear than to continue to exist as a non-superpower.

Dec 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Dec 9 2019 12:08 utc | 79

More on "Western imbecilization":

A (Grudging) Defense of the $120,000 Banana

These are the successors of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, etc. etc.

--//--

This is Brazil's "God's Army":

'Soldiers of Jesus': Armed neo-Pentecostals torment Brazil's religious minorities

First Worlders commenting here seem to have the illusion Christianism is the good brother of the three Abrahamic religions. Although I understand the pro-Christian bias coming from the Europeans (since Christianism is an inextricable aspect of European identity), this opinion is a myth: we have already tasted this in the Bolivian coup, but it's also a Latin American phenomenon.

Christians are wolves under sheep skins.

--//--

@ Posted by: pogohere | Dec 9 2019 1:25 utc | 57

The USSR had a relatively backwards transportation system (specially railways), that still used disproportional quantities of petroil to function, but that wasn't an existential threat to the nation per se , it could be modernized.

Of all the theses I've read about the collapse of the USSR, the one that most convinced me was Angelo Segrillo's "Decline of the USSR" - which I think only exists in Portuguese right now. Segrillo covers all the arguments of the time used to explain the fall of the USSR and refutes them all empirically before he lays out that the main cause of the fall of the USSR was its structural inability to implement the Third Industrial Revolution ("toyotism").

When it became clear the USSR wouldn't be able to keep up technologically with the USA, Gorbachev then decided (without knowing it) it would be preferrable for the USSR to disappear than to continue to exist as a non-superpower.

In that sense, yes, the Soviet then relatively inneficient energy use was a symptom of the underlying cause - but it wasn't the cause.

--//--

@ Posted by: bevin | Dec 9 2019 3:03 utc | 62

The problem with Europe is its geography: it is a tiny, depleted peninsula. In the 17th Century, it was an advantage, since the lack of natural resources impelled it to aggressively exploit other continents, giving birth to capitalism.

But capitalism is a global system, not a regional system. When it reached maturity, Europe slowly, but inexorably, begun to lose its competitive advantages over purely capitalist formations - the greatest of them all being the USA. Then what was an advantage became a disadvantage.

This gordian knot was cut with WWI and WWII (both were only one war, in two parts) - a last desperate attempt by British capitalism to preserve its imperialist status.

But History is unasailable: it is the saga of class struggle, of the contradictions between the modes of production and the relations of production. The result couldn't be any different: Western Europe was on its knees after WWII. The British Empire had just sold all its assets to the Americans and German men were literally prostituting themselves to American soldiers for on cigarette (and German children, for one chocolate bar). The USA was the undisputed sovereign of the European Peninsula from 1945 on.

The last leverage the European Peninsula had, in that scenario, was the USSR itself: it could ask the USA for good treatment and some dignity in exchange of not doing socialist revolutions backed up by the Soviets. The result was the Marshall Plan and a permission to revive their previous industrial parks.

That situation resulted in the rise of Atlanticism, the ideology that the USA is the legitimate heir of Western Civilization. Andy Warhol was the successor to Michelangelo.

--//--

@ Posted by: john brewster | Dec 9 2019 4:35 utc | 65

The USSR stagnated during the period that spanned from the oil crisis of 1975 until its fall in 1991.

But it only had a recession in two years of its history: the year after the Perestroika and its last year of existence. Both were very mild recessions (by capitalist standards).

Even during the infamous "Brezhnev stagnation", growth was 1-3% per year - comparable to the developed capitalist nations since the 1990s.

But the problem is that its successor states are doing objectively worse: Russia will grown a little more than 1% this year; other ex-Soviet states are more or less in the same situation (with Ukraine doing outright worse). The mircle promised to the Russians didn't come: Putin's boom of the early 2000s was not comparable to the Soviet boom. Russia's status today are completely dependent on China (which, ironically, has the Soviet system of government) and the modernization from the old Soviet weapons and know-how it already had.

[Dec 02, 2019] Yuri Gararisn the the USA tecnological superiority

Dec 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Dec 1 2019 16:45 utc | 3

From Michael Roberts Blog's Facebook:
Chile - it's not just the level of inequality and austerity in the country that triggered the social uprising against the elite. On the OECD's 'better life' index, Chile scores very badly even compared to other Latin American countries.

Chile's insurgency and the end of neoliberalism

The OECD index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life.

OECD Better Life Index

--

The Indian economy is heading into trouble - to all intent, in recession. The second-largest country in the world by population grew only 4.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, below 5 percent in the previous period and market expectations of 4.7 percent. That's the weakest pace since the first three months of 2013, mainly due to a fall in factory output and exports and a slowdown in investment.

Investment, sluggish for nearly a decade, grew a mere 1 per cent year-on-year, down from 4 per cent in the previous quarter. Manufacturing output contracted 1 per cent. Infrastructure investment has collapsed.

The government has announced several measures to boost growth including a reduction in corporate taxes, concessions on vehicle purchases, bank recapitalisation. Meanwhile, the central bank has already cut borrowing cost 5 times this year and is seen lowering rates again next week.

See my post of last May on India:

India: another China or another Brazil?

--//--

This is a very interesting example of how Western (i.e. libera, capitalist) propaganda works, and also a very illustrative example of how capitalism declined from the point of view of a person who benefitted the most from it when it was at its apex:

Perhaps it's time to remember Yuri Gagarin

The shock in the US was that the Russians were not only competitive, but had embarrassed US science and engineering by being first. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed into law the National Defense Education Act, and this enabled talented students to flow into science and engineering. The shock waves were felt throughout the entire educational system, from top to bottom. Mathematics was more important than football.

He's right in the abovementioned paragraph. If you interviewed people who were 12-14 years old between 1958 and 1963, and asked about what would be the future of the USA in the year 2000, most of them would have more or less the same answer: that the future of America was scientific, bright, of high technology; a nation where scientists and engineers would be more more venerated than tv celebrities and football/baseball players. It would be the world of the infamous "flying cars" and space exploration and colonization.

Nobody in 1963 would imagine that the USA of the 2000s would be the USA of finance, of Wall Street ; of football players, of the anti-vaxxers, of the flat earthers and of the Kardashians.

But they should've. The reason this degeneration happened is the fact that the USA is a capitalist society. In capitalism, scientific progress is accidental. What matters in the capitalist system is the valorization process, not the process of use value creation. Like any other societal formations, capitalism has a revolutionary period, an apex period, a decline period and a collapse period. In my opinion, world capitalism has just exited its apex phase and is now entering its decline phase.

Here's the propaganda part of the article:

As demonstrated by the USSR, socialism does not prohibit scientific prowess. There is a difference, of course. Socialism's success in the USSR came at the expense of millions of lives, the slave labor of millions more, and a lower standard of living. Nevertheless, the fact is that Yuri Gagarin was the first person to orbit the earth. In comparison to the US today, Soviet universities were not plagued by whining children – nor are today's Chinese universities. The Soviets thought it wiser that their young study calculus and physics.

This paragraph encapsulates all the elements of Cold War propaganda about the USSR. When I read it, it felt like a blast from the past.

First, the image of the USSR as essentially a slavery society is a Western chimera. They come from Weber -- who once theorized the USSR as a "modern Ancient Egypt" -- and the propaganda from Solzhenitsyn, who hugely exagerated the number of prisoners in the USSR.

In fact, even at the height of the GULAG era, the USSR's jailed population never went beyond 1.5% of its overall population (as we know now from Soviet official archives). That's well within the world's average. If only 1.5% of the population is able to sustain the other 98.5%, then even I want to know how the Soviets operated such an economic miracle.

Besides, the USSR obviously didn't kill "millions of people" in order to send someone to space. That's obviously absurd by any metric, logic included. First of all because this would never gather political consensus among the population, second because it is impossible to do rocket science with slave labor.

The quick rise of the Third Reich gave birth to the myth in the West that slave labor can operate miracles. Nothing is further from the truth. In Ancient times, both the Greeks and the Romans already knew slave labor was only economically viable in very basic and simple tasks, such as agriculture, mining and other domestic services. Athens achieved naval supremacy over Greece by using wage labor for its rowing and sailor crews, so that they could be professionals with high morale in the battlefield. The reason for this is that maneuvering triremes was an extremely complex art, too complex and valuable for the Athenians to trust to slaves. They also had, by the nature and complexity of the task, a naturally high degree of freedom from their "bosses". Either way, the task was simply too complex for a slave to phisically learn, since a slave was kept into his/her place through physical deprivation and domination, and a sailor had to be always fit physically and mentally to wage wars at sea. The Spartans didn't slave their coastal colonies, giving them a much larger degree of freedom (perioikoi), probably in exchange for a supply of sailors, ships. The Romans also did the same: when a slave became specialized enough in the family business (such as acting as a middle man in the paterfamilias' businesses in some coastal city), he usually "gifted" him with his freedom.

In sum: even the ancients knew that, for more complex tasks, free people were a must. Slavery was only economically viable for very simple and denigrating tasks (specially, agriculture and mining).

As for the "lower quality of living", that's highly debatable. Surely, on average, the USSR certainly didn't enjoy the same life quality than the top of the capitalist chain of the time. But inequality was much, much lower (almost negligible) except for the rural-urban divide, and there was no deprivation.

On average, life quality in the USSR was much better than the vast majority of the capitalist nations with the benefit inequality was negligible (so the average approached the median). Sure, it was no post-1980s Norway or Finland -- but those are microscopic capitalist nations, with negligible population.

Paora , Dec 1 2019 20:04 utc | 5

vk @ 3

Thanks vk. The Soviet achievements in space were the achievements of a free people who had to make superhuman sacrifices in order to preserve their freedom. Here's Boris Chertok, a remarkable Soviet space designer whose experiences stretched from the crowds of 1917 and Lenin's funeral to the construction of the international Space Station:

"I am part of the generation that suffered irredeemable losses, to whose lot in 20th century fell the most arduous of tests. From childhood, a sense of duty was inculcated in this generation - a duty to the people, to the Motherland, to our parents, to future generations, and even to all humanity.

...

Currently ... it is ideological collapse that threatens the objective recounting of [Soviet] science and technology ... motivated by the fact that its origins date back to the Stalin epoch or to the period of the 'Brezhnev Stagnation'"

[Nov 30, 2019] Video How the U.S. Caused the Breakup of the Soviet Union - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalizat

Nov 30, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Video: How the U.S. Caused the Breakup of the Soviet Union Sean Gervasi 1992 Lecture By Sean Gervasi and Dennis Riches Global Research, November 30, 2019 Region: Russia and FSU , USA Theme: History

We bring to the attention of Global Research readers the text of an unpublished Lecture delivered in 1992 by the late Sean Gervasi on the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US Strategy formulated during World War II to bring down the USSR.

The full transcript and video of Sean Gervasi's presentation is preceded by Dennis Riches Introduction

Scroll down for the Video

Introduction

We defeated totalitarianism and won a war in the Pacific and the Atlantic simultaneously We worked together in a completely bipartisan way to bring down communism So now we have to use our political processes in our democracy, and then decide to act together to solve those problems. But we have to have a different perspective on this one. It [global warming] is different from any problem we have ever faced before [i] – Al Gore

These words above were spoken by former US vice-president Al Gore in 2007 in his film An Inconvenient Truth . Because audiences at the time were in rapt awe of him, treating him as a savior in the campaign to solve the global warming crisis, they never seemed to reflect on the outrageous assumptions underlying his comments about "defeating totalitarianism" and "bringing down communism." These are worth examining for what they say about perceptions of world history among the American political class, and they even hint at how the errors in these perceptions led Mr. Gore to being self-deceived about what would be necessary to solve the problem he has devoted himself to since he has been out of power.

Although the United States played a crucial role in WWII, it was slow to get involved and it let the Soviet Union do much of the heavy lifting and suffer the heaviest losses. The United States had a lot of help in achieving the victory Mr. Gore claims for America, and we could assume he knows this, so the way he chose to describe historical events is telling.

Perhaps acknowledging the reality would have detracted from his second point about "bringing down communism." Everyone knows that what he is referring to so proudly is the destabilization and destruction of the USSR, the Warsaw bloc nations, and Yugoslavia, not the abstract notion of communism. He is referring to a "victory" which precipitated civil wars and a disastrous collapse of the economy and social welfare systems in these countries, one that killed and impoverished millions. In China, Cuba and the DPRK, contrary to what he stated, these nations' versions of socialism haven't been brought down at all. [1992]

Explicitly describing the "bringing down of communism" as America's deliberate actions to dismantle the USSR might run the risk of reminding the audience about the illegality of interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, and it might have reminded people of what a betrayal this was of America's WWII ally and partner in the détente of the 1970s. The inconvenient truth is that the USSR was the WWII ally that played a crucial role in the victory that Mr. Gore claimed solely for America.

Nonetheless, the comment about "bringing down communism" is refreshingly, and maybe accidentally, very honest. Most descriptions of the Soviet collapse, even those done by historians specializing in this field, pay little attention to American efforts to undermine the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. The political class always denied that America had a plan to dismantle the USSR, and denied having any significant influence on events which they claim arose from domestic causes. If America's influence is addressed at all, it is considered as a matter of speculation, a mystery hardly worth thinking about when one can more easily look at the dramatic events that occurred on the surface within the Soviet Union in the last decade of its existence. The following transcript of the lecture by Sean Gervasi, delivered in 1992, shortly after the collapse, is unique and valuable for what it reveals about the significant, and perhaps decisive, American role in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In his conclusion, Mr. Gervasi came to this judgment:

The Soviet Union today, in the absence of this extraordinarily crafty, well-thought-out, extremely costly strategy deployed by the Reagan administration, would be a society struggling through great difficulties. It would still be a socialist society, at least of the kind that it was. It would be far from perfect, but it would still be there, and I think, therefore, that Western intervention made a crucial difference in this situation."

The journey to how he came to this conclusion is well worth the reader's time.

A final comment about Mr. Gore's remarks: He is oblivious to the inconvenient solution that has been staring him in the face all these years: that the necessary reduction of carbon emissions will require severe constraints on capitalism, a thesis developed by Jason W. Moore in Capitalism in the Web of Life .[ii] Mr. Gore should know that a radical solution is needed. In his recent sequel to An Inconvenient Truth he complains about the undue influence of "money in politics" that has gotten so much worse over the last ten years, but that's as deep as the class analysis and ideological exploration can go in America. He evinces no awareness of the historical figures who developed answers to the problem of unaccountable private control of a nation's government, resources and productive capacities. Gore is still proud of having actively worked against a revolution in human affairs that aimed to curtail the savage capitalism that led to the present ecological catastrophe.

In spite of the flaws one might see in what the Soviet Union actually became, flaws that arose to a great extent because it had to fight against external threats throughout its existence, the goals of the revolution of 1917 are still relevant to the crises of the 21st century, and this is what makes Sean Gervasi's research so valuable now, after a quarter century in which America doubled down on its "winning ways" and worsened the crises that were evident long ago in 1992.

About Sean Gervasi

Sean Gervasi (1933-1996) spent the latter part of his career exposing the role of the United States and Western powers in the breakup of the USSR and Yugoslavia. He was working on a book,Balkan Roulette, at the time of his death.

Gervasi was an economist trained at the University of Geneva, Oxford and Cornell. His political career began when he took a post as an economic adviser in the Kennedy administration. He resigned in protest after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

After his resignation, Gervasi was never able to get work again in the United States as an economist, despite his impressive academic credentials. He became a lecturer at the London School of Economics after leaving Washington. Notwithstanding his great popularity, the school refused to renew his contract in 1965.

During the 1970s and 1980s he was an adviser to a number of governments in Africa and the Middle East, helping them navigate the hostile and predatory world of transnational corporations and megabanks. He also worked for the UN Committee on Apartheid and the UN Commission on Namibia.

In addition, Gervasi was a journalist, contributing to a wide range of publications, from the New York Amsterdam News to Le Monde Diplomatique . He was a frequent commentator on the listener-supported Pacifica radio station WBAI in New York. In 1976, Gervasi broke the story of how the U.S. government was secretly arming the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In the late 1980s, Gervasi began to focus on the Cold War and what he called the "full court press," a basketball term for a highly aggressive "all in" strategy. In an article published in the Covert Action Information Bulletin in early 1991[iii], when the breakup of the USSR was imminent, Gervasi showed how the Reagan administration's strategy of economic isolation, a gargantuan arms buildup with the threat of a nuclear attack, overt funding of internal dissent, and CIA-directed sabotage had been decisive in bringing down the USSR. Gervasi backed up his analysis with careful scholarship and documentation.

Gervasi was widely respected as a leading independent figure in the left, but his views were contrary to the fashionable dogma that attributed the USSR's collapse almost exclusively to such things as failures of leadership, centralization of the economy, the black market, Chernobyl, or independence movements, and not to external hostility. These are the subjects which he addressed in the following lecture given to a small audience in January 1992. The lecture can still be found on internet video sites, but the thesis of this lecture still remains marginal and obscure two decades later, even though it is highly pertinent to the Cold War replay that is underway in the second decade of the 21st century -- one in which Russia stands accused of turning the tables and doing a comparatively very tame version of the propaganda war waged on the USSR in the 1980s.

After 1992, Gervasi focused his attention on the breakup of Yugoslavia, which he discovered was a replay of the strategy used to break up the Soviet Union. He became active in exposing the role of external powers, particularly the U.S. and German governments, in fomenting the civil war in the Balkans. His view that the war in Bosnia was sparked by the aggressive machinations these nations, and not age-old ethnic rivalries, alienated Gervasi from much of the liberal and progressive movement. Journals to which he had once regularly contributed would no longer print his articles. He had great difficulty finding a publisher for his book on the Balkans, but some of his research on this topic can be found in the article "Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?"[iv] published by Global Research in 2001.[v]

Dennis Riches, November 2017

***

VIDEO

Scroll down for the full Transcript

https://www.youtube.com/embed/b9_aYcpxClA

Byline of the video:

Propaganda expert reveals details in 1992 of RAND Think Tank plan under Reagan to bring down USSR, the major socialist challenge to capitalism in crisis, called Operation Full Court Press when announced at a Reagan limited invitee press conference upon its launch. It involved targeting mid-level Soviet bureaucrats with publications and Air America broadcasts pointing to problems they were facing having better outcomes in the US, military provocations when they were considering their budget in order to spend them into bankruptcy, luring them into Afghanistan followed by arming the Mujahadeen with surface to air missiles and such; and fanning flames of ethnic rivalries within the Soviet Union, like by sending publication equipment to Baltic ethnic groups.

In first 20 minutes Sean prophetically lays out the impending crisis of capitalism that drives their urgency to stamp out socialist competition. Sean died under mysterious circumstances in Belgrad where he had set up shop pointing out a PR effort in the US Congress by Ruder Finn hired by Croats and Kosovo Albanians to start a US war against Yugoslavia for their secession.

Event January 26, 1992 arranged by Connie Hogarth of WESPAC, Camera: Beth Lamont

Transcript

(edited by Dennis Riches)

Introduction

I've been speaking in the last year or so about developments in the Soviet Union from the perspective of a person who follows the workings of the Western intelligence agencies, something in which I was tutored while I was working at the United Nations, and was on the receiving end of quite a lot of that activity.

That is an important theme that one needs to look at: the role of the West in developments which have taken place in the Soviet Union, and it's one that I've been focusing on, but of course the wider and more important issue is: how shall we understand the meaning of events in the Soviet Union in the last five, six, ten years? That's really the critical question.

As you know, the developments, particularly the end or collapse of communist rule in the Soviet Union, and finally the breakup of the Soviet Union itself, have been presented in our media insistently and incessantly as evidence that socialism or social democracy, or what-have-you, which we'll discuss, is unworkable. And this, of course, in tandem with the theme which has been disseminated so energetically by these same people in the last decade, that capitalism:

  1. a) is more or less the same thing as democracy, and
  2. b) must be seen as the core and triumphant achievement of Western civilization

Hence the thesis that this is the end of history, that we have achieved everything that there is to achieve, that the present system of institutions in which we live in the West represents the pinnacle of human capacities, intellectually and organizationally, and is the best of all possible worlds.

That's the thesis, or those are the twin theses which surround us and which have been, I think, creating an enormous amount of confusion and consternation because I think people sense there is something wrong with this idea, and the effort to close off all discussion about alternatives to, what I would term, our "regime" in the United States today, and possibly in Western Europe, which is a moving backward from the more enlightened and liberal capitalism, liberal democracy and capitalism, which evolved after the Second World War in Western Europe and the United States.

We are today, I think, living in an irrational and savage capitalism of the 19th-century variety, which for particular reasons, people who have power in this society either have acceded to or have energetically worked to institute.

Part 1 The Crisis in the United States

The question is whether this great wave of propaganda makes any sense, and so I think we should examine whether the idea that socialism and alternatives to raw capitalism are impossible, undesirable, and unworkable. I think we have to look at that in two ways. First of all, we have to examine our own situation in the United States, historically, and we have to also, I think, look at what has happened in the Soviet Union because what has happened in the Soviet Union is really very different from what we are told by the mass media. We have not merely witnessed a collapse of communism in the Soviet Union. We have seen something really very different, but it has been systematically misrepresented in the Western media.

I would start then with examining the basic proposition. I would start by examining our situation in the United States today, and I'd frankly start with Charles Beard's interpretation of the American Constitution .

There's a great deal of misunderstanding about the kind of society that American democracy really represents, and that misunderstanding is both historical and contemporary. There is a tremendous tension which we are all aware of in our society. It is a tension between egalitarianism and inequality. It is a tension born of the evolution in the in the 16th, 17th and 18th century in England, and the transfer of a particular kind of society onto American soil through British political traditions, notwithstanding our rebellion as colonists at the end of the 18th century. And that is the particular set of institutions known as liberal democracy. Liberal democracy is a combination of parliamentary government and capitalism, and liberal democracy inevitably, therefore, contains some very serious tensions because the progressive development of parliamentary democracy has tended to give greater and greater scope to the principle of equality in human life and politics. That's why in the course of British 19th century political development there was a progressive expansion of the franchise. And that's why in the United States there was also an expansion of the franchise. The United States did not have the same encumbering property qualifications in the beginning, although we did have property qualifications in the 18th century in the United States, but eventually we had the full franchise extended to all adults, and we've been redefining adults most recently. We've dropped the level of political maturity or political enfranchisement to 18 years.

Capitalism, on the contrary, is a system of economic and social institutions based on the principle of inequality, and there's a rationale for that inequality which also comes from the 18th century, but the idea, essentially, is that it makes sense from the point of view of efficiency, and indeed equity, given all the considerations that one must take into account, to have a society based on the unequal distribution of property organized around that institution, to have an economy based on private property because, in the final analysis, it is most efficient, and in the long run holds the greatest promise of continuous progress. By the way, that's an argument that Marx made at a certain point -- that at a certain stage of history a capitalist society is extremely progressive, that it gathers the technical capacities of mankind, personkind, and develops them and accumulates and accumulates until it creates something new, which we won't talk about just now.

But historically and currently in the United States we very strongly sense this tension so that we go back and forth between periods when we have enormous pressures to give predominance to the principle of inequality, to pay attention to the rights of property, and periods when egalitarian tendencies have been very strong. For instance, as in the turn of the century during the expansive phase of American populism and during the antitrust of the great popular movements that sought -- not just popular -- but that sought to contain the power of the cartels and the trusts in the United States. And today we sense that too. We passed the law in 1946 that's called the Employment Act. By the way, it's not called the Full Employment Act. You have to remember that legislation. And yet we realize that our adherence to the principle of full employment was tenuous even in the 25 years which followed the Second World War, and completely spurious today. Why is that? It's because of this tremendous tension between the realities of power under capitalism and the rather fragile hold which democratic principles and institutions have on that power.

Let's go back to the Constitution and the Philadelphia Convention. I've been rereading Beard and I'm very impressed by his grasp of who predominates really in this delicate balance in liberal democracy between the principles of egalitarianism, the principles of parliamentary democracy and the enormous concentration of power, which even then was inherent in the dominance of the institutions of private property. Beard's argument essentially is that in the final analysis a small group of men, whom he refers to as one-sixth of the adult male population -- the only people who ratified the Constitution, the participants in the ratifying conventions who voted positively for the Constitution -- represented one-sixth of the adult male population. That is to say 8% of the adult population in today's terms. Against our values that represents 8% of today's population -- the equivalent.

Now, what was obtained in that framing of the Constitution? What was obtained was a system of political science, a system of government which was so structured as to ensure the dominance of private property, the power of private property in any contention between the forces of democracy and the forces of private property, and the forces of inequality, if you like, so that the structure which constitutes, at the founding of this republic, which constitutes the framework within which we operate today, is one which ensures that predominance.

I know that Beard has been attacked by many people, and it's perfectly understandable when you read Beard carefully, but it seems to me that today Beard becomes more illuminating. Why? I say I pay attention to the Constitution, to the Philadelphia Convention, to its ratification, to the numbers who ratified it and to the purposes which they saw themselves as furthering by their framing and ratification of this constitution because that is the framework within which the United States experienced the most successful and untrammeled Industrial Revolution in the history of mankind. Untrammeled. We had a straight run of industrialization which was the first to transform the condition of man in human society, by which I mean something very, very specific. And here I speak to things which were said by people like [ John Maynard] Keynes , by people like [ Joseph Alois] Schumpeter , but really ignored because they're extremely uncomfortable.

The rationalization for inequality in the institution of private property, in the thinking of eighteenth century philosophers, was that property had to be shared unequally and income had to be unequal because this inequality provided incentives which would constitute a constant assurance of the drive to the expansion of production. That was the rationalization, but in the 20th century, according to the economic historians and according to people like Keynes, countries like the United States and Great Britain began to end, began to transform the historical situation within which these institutions were conceived. How? By developing such a capacity to produce that gradually more and more numbers were lifted out of anything which could be historically or comparatively called poverty so that scarcity, which dominates the reasoning of economists, was really beginning to end in many respects. And Joseph Schumpeter was able to say, for instance, in 1928, that if economic growth continued in the United States for another 50 years we would see in 1978 the end of anything that could reasonably be called poverty.

Now that didn't quite happen. That didn't quite happen because of the enormous influence of inequality in the distribution of this productive abundance. But what it did transform was the lives of many, many people, and it transformed everyday life and the historical condition. Look between 1870 and 1970 at how the number of hours that the average American works falls. In the period between 1945 and 1970, per capita production trebled, just in that period, and we already had a huge industrial base at that time, so I would argue [agree], with Galbraith, who -- because he was right was vilified and ignored by the economist profession and studiously made little of by the mass media -- that indeed America began to be transformed with the success of its enormous industrial revolution by the end of the period after 1865, when really heavy industrialization began to take place. And indeed I would argue that the reason for the Great Depression was that the United States had lost the ability to continue to absorb everything that it could produce in an adequate way, given the institutions of the time.

So what happened then was that within this framework, which is the same framework conceived by the James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. To further the purposes of property and to insure against what Madison called "the leveling attacks of democracy," we have industrialization enhance the expansion of an enormous power, which is the power that controls the machinery and the resources of that productive system. That is to say large corporations. The largest 500 corporations in the United States today, plus the largest 500 banks and the largest 50 financial corporations control more resources than the Soviet planners ever dreamed of controlling. The control of those resources, which is made invisible by the clever workings of economists, inheres in the ability to make investment decisions. Investment decisions are the key decisions in any economic system. The power to make those decisions is the power to continuously transform and to determine the terms of everyday life among human beings in any society. That power is not only invisible in our system of thought, carefully hidden by the descendants of the 18th century philosophers, but it is also totally unaccountable.

Now maybe you could say, and we did say this between 1945 and 1975:

"OK this is a contradiction of democracy. This is the inheritance from the Philadelphia Convention, the Constitution in its ratification and the dominance of this one-sixth of the male adult population in 1789, but this system is so productive that we can alleviate the resulting social and political tensions by raising the standard of living of ordinary folks."

And that was the whole philosophy of the sophisticated American leadership in the first generation after the Second World War. That was the philosophy of the Rockefellers when they talked about the new enlightened capitalism of 20th century. Capitalism could deliver the goods and hence people would be content, despite the fact that the realities of power born at the end of the 18th century, and essentially enhanced by the enormous accumulation of power represented by industrialization and the growth of large corporations and their concentrated power in the economy. We could live with that because the United States economy was so productive.

Now, that's our history, and the tremendous tension of our situation today as contrasted with the post-war period because one thing is very clear today: that for 20 years in the United States this system has not been working. There has been a systematic retreat from full employment, high wages, advancing standards of living, security in one's job, and the advance of the welfare state. We have systematically been retreating from those things so that we have higher and higher official and real unemployment, which of course is about double the official unemployment -- and the statisticians work very hard to hide the realities of life.

Sean Gervasi

Between 1977 and 1992, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 70% of American families have seen their after-tax income fall. 70%! In the lower ranges of the income distribution those falls are quite sharp. Purchasing power falls by twenty 20.8% for the poorest fifth, by something like 12% for the next fifth, by something like 11% for the third fifth, and by smaller amounts for those in the middle of the income distribution system. So I would say that that represents, and people are increasingly becoming aware of it, a collapse of the American standard of living. And this collapse of the American standard of living is related to a gradual economic decline which is causing the post-war system, as we have known it in the United States between 1945 and 1970, to begin to disintegrate. And I think this is the reality of what is happening so that today even according to Wall Street forecasters like the Levies, attached to Bard College up here in the county, we are facing what they call a contained depression, which may be worse than the kind of depression we saw in the 1930s because the stabilizing role of the government makes it possible not to avoid some of the awful horrors that occurred in the depression, but to diminish them to a degree which makes them almost invisible.

So we have a very tense situation. I ask you to reflect on that when we confront the enormous economic difficulties from which there follow all kinds of social problems in our society today which we face. These are connected to, and, if you like, made possible by the arrangements conceived by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton . If this crisis which we have been living in for 20 years, and have become more acutely aware of in the last 10, is intractable, it is, above all, intractable because of this invisible concentrated power which exists today after industrial growth -- the rise of the large corporations in the framework conceived by Madison, Hamilton and the other Federalists.

So if you want to argue today that we need to reconsider this framework, you run into very fundamental problems. You run into the problem that the Constitution is treated like an icon, that people are unaware that the preamble to the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the United States, that people are unaware of the fact that the Bill of Rights, which is supposed to compensate for some of the failings of our constitutional system, has been systematically shredded by the two most recent administrations. Witness William Kunstler and his remarkable talks on what has happened to the Bill of Rights in the last ten years.

Part 2 The Crisis in the Soviet Union

Now, let's get to the Soviet Union, keeping in mind always that it is against this background of crisis and the intractability of crisis, and it's rooting in the historical origins of the Constitution that we are asked, that we are invited -- without anybody saying that that's the background -- that we are invited to ponder the proposition that there is no alternative to the kind of capitalism that we have, and that this capitalism is the quintessence of democracy.

Now let us look at that proposition against a second set of data, if you like, which is supposed to prove the case that there was socialism in the Soviet Union, that the Soviet Union then, along with its Eastern European partners, collapsed in chaos owing to the essential unworkability of this kind of a system. Let's look at that.

When the Reagan administration came into office we all became aware rather quickly that something new was happening. We should have known that something new was happening because, in fact, the arrival of the Reagan administration in power had been preceded by a very careful build-up which was, in part, visible in the American polity, and that was the emergence of the development and the elaboration of the power of a group which we now call the new right -- people who 20 years ago, 28 years ago in 1964, after Goldwater lost the Republican National Convention. Rockefeller took command of the party that had been relegated to what every major political commentator at the time called the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. These were the people who, particularly in California, were coming out of the walls in the late 1970s, creating foundations, buying chairs of economics at universities. Look at it: the Coors , the Mises , with all of their contacts. These were the people who were building a new group, and the purpose of this group was to put a stop to the kind of systematic democratic entrenchment which they thought had been going on in the 1960s and the 1970s.

In the 1960s and the 1970s, there were three movements: (1) the movement for workers' rights, for unionization, the expansion of unionization, particularly among city employees and for raising wages, and the tremendous industrial disruption that attended the 1960s and the early 1970s in the industrial sector, (2) the civil rights movement, which preceded that, beginning in the late 1950s, and (3) the movement against the war in Vietnam, the war in Vietnam being one of the ways in which this society managed to utilize, in a profitable fashion, its enormous productive capacity without giving it to ordinary folks, without giving its fruits to ordinary folks.

The new right was determined to do something quite new. One of the new things that it did, and Reagan really was not its spokesman because that implies a degree of activity which I think he's incapable of. You can always program a spokesman. I don't think he had the wheels to do that.

Reagan launched, as you know, a massive, serious, intense, ugly confrontation with the Soviet Union, ideologically. At the same time we became aware that there was a significant drive on to re-arm the United States, to throw enormous resources -- ultimately it was in excess of 1.7 trillion dollars during the 1980s -- to throw enormous resources into the military sector, to throw enormous resources into shifting the technology of the military sector to war in space, SDI [Space Defense Initiative], etc. All of those things were on the agenda, but many of us at the time puzzled about this. I remember asking myself, "What is it with these folks? Do these fellows really want a world war? Can they not see that this can be the outcome?"

And I remember those discussions, and I remember when many of you and I on June 12, 1982 were at the demonstration of 750,000 to 1 million people in the center of New York City, which was an expression of the alarm that people felt at this enormous aggressive policy which was coming out of the Reagan administration, which threatened to shred US-Soviet relations.

But in fact, retrospectively, we can see that there was something else behind it, that it was not just irrational madness. There was a bit of that, but there was a rationality to what was being done, and in fact, to understand that, it's important to see that it is connected to every single major line of innovative policy that the Reagan administration developed. It was extremely well thought-out, extremely shrewd. And [it involved] the military buildup and the aggressive rhetoric towards the Soviet Union, the deliberate effort to create difficulties in the relationships between the Soviet Union and the European powers. You remember that in 1982 the United States tried to force the European powers not to accept natural gas from the Soviet Union, to deny shipments of technology to the Soviet Union which would make it possible for the Soviet Union to exploit that natural gas, to earn foreign exchange, etc. It was all part of a very complex strategy, but it was a very clear strategy.

Let me say, though, that many of us, at least I at the time, missed that. We didn't quite comprehend what was going on, but we had in the back our mind flickers that something was wrong. There were people who were saying or hinting clearly at what was happening, and shrewd people, intelligent people who did begin to grasp what was happening.

Let me quote from one or two. Writing in 1982, Joe Fromm , who was then the editor of the United States' US News and World Report , said,

"There was something behind," I'm quoting him, "the shift to a harder line in foreign policy." The US, in fact, seemed to be "waging limited economic warfare against Russia to force the Soviets to reform their political system." That suggests that's a nice journalist, a reasonably liberal journalist at US News and World Report , but Joe then quoted a State Department official saying (actually, a National Security Council official), "The Soviet Union is in deep, deep economic and financial trouble. By squeezing wherever we can, our purpose is to induce the Soviets to reform their system. I think we will see results over the next several years." That's in 1982.

Robert Scheer wrote a book in 1982 called With Enough Shovels: Reagan and Bush and Nuclear War . I think I've got the title almost right. This is a very interesting book in which Scheer saw that there was something behind this enormously aggressive foreign policy, foreign and military policy, that the Reagan administration was deploying. And he saw that the United States was not simply playing nuclear chicken with the Soviet Union, as he put it, but that it was embarked on a policy designed to create such pressure for the Soviet Union as to force changes within the Soviet Union.

Now of course it had always been the case that the Cold War consisted of moves designed to affect the behavior of others. The Cold War, from the point of view of the West, had always aimed at modifying, as the State Department cookie pushers liked to put it in their delicate prose, the behavior of our antagonist. But this, I think you will see, went beyond that because, in fact, the Reagan administration embarked on a policy of many dimensions which included pressure around the world on countries with close ties to the Soviet Union. Insurgencies were initiated in Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia against Vietnam, Nicaragua, and, quite a lot, Afghanistan.

I don't want to get into too many complicated discussions of Afghanistan, but I think anybody who reflects upon the United States' response to the Soviet entry into Afghanistan in 1979 must realize that the United States did not want the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan, and in fact the purpose of these insurgencies around the world, which as you know, had expended billions of dollars, was to pin the Soviet Union down, and to inflict economic costs upon the Soviet Union. The purpose of the remilitarization in the West was to force the Soviet Union, at the risk of exposing itself to the pressure of escalation, to meet our resource commitments, to defend itself, or to place itself in a position to resist our pressure.

The purpose of escalating the technology of nuclear warfare, again, was to impose costs upon the Soviet Union. [This was ] the purpose of every principled measure, such as withholding advanced technology from the Soviet Union, foreign assistance programs aimed not at assisting countries on the basis of their needs, but on assisting countries on the basis of the contribution they would make to putting pressure on the Soviet Union. All of these things were part of a systematic strategy designed to create havoc in the Soviet Union.

Now I'll say a little bit more about what the purpose of that was, but first let me point out that this is a systematic strategy consisting of a number of pieces, and that it did pose enormous economic and other costs upon the Soviet Union.

But who is Gervasi [the speaker] to say that this is so, beyond quoting Joseph Fromm? Well, let me tell you a little bit about an interesting experience I had. I had lunch one day with a friend who was passing through the United States, who had been in jail in South Africa for eight years, and had just got out. He had been engaged in planning one of the principal sabotage operations against the South African nuclear installations, and he was very happy to be out of jail. We sat at lunch and he said to me -- we talked about many things, mostly about Africa which he and I had worked on together -- and he said to me,

"What's going on in the Soviet Union?" I said to him, "Well, you know, I really can't figure this out. I can't figure out what's going on." He said, "It seems to me that the Soviet Union is being destabilized." "My goodness," I say to myself quietly.

The thought had never passed my mind, but when my friend, Christie, said this I thought I should look into this, and I did.

The first thing I found was I spent a little bit of time on a computer and some things came up, and I said that looks very interesting. Within a very short time I had discovered reams of material being generated at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s by organizations like the RAND Corporation. You know what the RAND Corporation is. It's an Air Force/CIA contracting agency in Southern California, very large, very powerful, very influential in the so-called intellectual defense community, the military industrial complex, and in Washington. People go back and forth from the CIA, from the DIA to the State Department to the RAND Corporation. And what were the chaps at the RAND Corporation doing? Well, they were producing very interesting studies with titles like Economic Factors Affecting Soviet Foreign and Defense Policy : A Summary Outline , The Costs of the Soviet Empire , Sitting on Bayonets: the Soviet Defense Burden and Moscow's Economic Dilemma: The Burden of Soviet Defense , Exploiting Fault Lines in the Soviet Empire: Economic Relations with the USSR .

Anyway, I started reading the stuff. First of all, I started collecting it and I started reading this stuff, and I found out something very interesting: that these fellows at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s were clearly fashioning a plan in which we began to see the pieces of in the emerging parts of foreign and military policy, foreign and military and economic policy under the Reagan administration. And the basic reasoning of this plan -- I'll give it to you -- is as follows: the Soviet Union was in a dual crisis. They knew what was going on in Soviet Union. Economic growth in the Soviet Union had begun to slow down. It had been very rapid, by the way, in the period from 1950 to the early 1970s. Between 1960 and 1984 per capita income and per capita production in the Soviet Union trebled, so it wasn't slow. That was a 4 or 5% rate of growth, very rapid considering that we're growing at about 1.5 which, is about, by the way, equivalent to the rate of growth on average during the decade of the 1930s in the United States.

Now, what I found out was that they also understood there was a leadership crisis in the Soviet Union. The old line of principal Soviet leaders born in the early stages of Soviet redevelopment after the Revolution, formed in the Second World War -- that leadership was dying out, as we all knew. And in fact Mikhail Gorbachev , selected by Andrei Gromyko , was the first representative of a new generation of Soviet leaders, but in the late 70s and early 80s, people were dying. The major figures Andropov, Chernenko and Brezhnev, were dying, and there was a very great confusion about succession. So the country was in a kind of crisis. The CIA calls it a dual crisis, a leadership crisis, not knowing to which new people of a new generation the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet Union should pass, and at the same time a beginning of faltering of economic growth, which was serious because since the Soviet Union had to always, like any country, choose between investing, competing in the arms race, and raising the standard of living of its population. The fact that economic growth fell off made that more difficult.

Now the next step in the reasoning of the RAND Corporation, gentlemen and ladies from the RAND Corporation, was that the United States and its allies could take various actions which would force the Soviet Union to increase its defense spending and its military assistance to allies and friends. They could take measures to deny the Soviet Union credits, which they did, and to deny it technology. They could also take measures which would reduce the overall volume of resources available to the Soviet Union and hold back the growth of productivity, which would exacerbate the problem, or force them to shift resources from consumers to investment. And [they knew] that all of these effects would (to quote them) "aggravate the difficulties confronting the Soviet leadership in a stagnant economy. So, a combination of these measures to impose costs on the Soviet Union could be expected to lead to falling investment and/or living standards, and such measures consequently might generate pressures within the Soviet Union for withdrawing from the world stage, and for political reform."

So the purpose of this operation, which I will try to define more clearly in a moment, was to impose, in a variety of ways, enormous costs on the Soviet Union, or to reduce the resources available to them in such a way as to exacerbate their economic difficulties. Let me quote from Abraham Becker , one of the shrewder Rand analysts:

Thus the Reagan administration seized Soviet economic troubles as an opportunity to complicate further their resource allocation difficulties dilemma, in the hope that additional pressures would result in a reallocation of resources away from defense, or would push the economy in the directions of economic and political reform.

The purpose of this new aggressive multi-dimensional strategy was to force reform upon the Soviet Union. What that reform was to be is a later chapter. Now, it's one thing to say that these plans exist, and I'll talk about other plans. For instance, I managed to pull together a collection of documents from the National Endowment for Democracy, which as you know, is supposed to be a quasi-government institution. It's not a quasi-government institution. It's funded by Congress. It's a government institution funded by Congress, which sees it to be its business to "promote democracy outside the United States" in the rest of the world, where by "democracy" one means essentially, and when you come down to it it's clear now in the Soviet Union, "capitalism" and "liberal democracy," if you like [the latter term].

Now, it's one thing of course to talk about all this planning, to try on your own to reason that all of these things fit together, but in fact we began to get official indications and documentation, as early as the spring of 1982, that the government had signed on to this strategy, that this was not the wild thinking of a few eager folks in a few think tanks, that it was policy and that it was policy which the American public knew very little of, did not understand the purposes and consequences of, but would nonetheless be required to pay for to the tune of several trillion dollars, which did indeed help to create the situation in which we presently find ourselves at home, locked in the Philadelphia Convention.

In the spring of 1982 I had spoken to two of the participants in this little meeting. A senior National Security Council official charged with responsibility for Soviet affairs called a number of influential Washington correspondents and asked them to come to the National Security Council for a briefing. Two of them told me that they left this briefing extremely shaken. They didn't want to say too much about it, but they gave me to understand that they thought that this was an extremely aggressive, dangerous, and highly risky strategy which the administration was describing and stating that it was about to embark upon.

Helen Thomas of UPI was one of the people who was in that meeting, and she described the results of the briefing -- this briefing on the Soviet Union -- in the following manner:

A senior White House official said Reagan has approved an eight-page National Security document that undertakes a campaign aimed at internal reform in the Soviet Union and the shrinkage of the Soviet empire. He affirmed that it could be called a full-court press against the Soviet Union.[vi]

A little later, just a few days later, in fact, further evidence, this time quoting official documentation, not hearsay from a briefer at the National Security Council, but quoting official documentation: Richard Halloran, the defense correspondent of The New York Times published an article in that paper on May the 30th of 1982, just a few days really after Helen Thomas sent out her UPI dispatch. Halloran quoted from the fiscal years 1984-1988 Defense Guidance, of which The Times stated that it had a copy.[vii] The Secretary's Guidance Document recommended what Halloran called "a major escalation in the nuclear arms race." Apart from that it indicated that a number of other measures were being taken "to impose costs on the Soviet Union." Note the language is the language of the RAND planners. Some of the same people probably wrote the document. I quote from Halloran's direct quote from the National Guidance document of the Secretary of Defense:

"As a peacetime complement to military strategy, the Guidance Document asserts that the United States and its allies should, in effect, declare economic and technical war on the Soviet Union."

This is interesting. "And so I think," it went on. They wrote,

"to put as much pressure as possible on the Soviet economy already burdened with military expenditure, they should develop weapons that are difficult for the Soviets to counter, impose disproportionate costs, open up new areas of major military competition, and obsolesce," (Nice English. I've put sic in my article) "precious Soviet investments."

So I think it's safe to say, and a number of people prove it to us a little later on, that this policy was instituted. Let me just race ahead to one of the more recent proofs. David Ignatius , who is a correspondent at The Washington Post, published a very remarkable article about "spyless coups" not long ago, in October, if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps it was September. Ignatius is a correspondent with very close ties to the intelligence community, to be very polite about it. I quote from his article: "Preparing the ground " This is immediately after the Yeltsin double event of August 1991 in which Mr. Gorbachev was seemingly threatened by a coup and in which Mr. Yeltsin did not seem to take power but did. He described the event in this way:

Preparing the ground for last month's triumph was a network of overt operatives who, during the last ten years, have quietly been changing the rules of international politics. They have been doing in public what the CIA used to do in private, providing money and moral support for pro-democracy groups, training resistance fighters, working to subvert communist rule.[viii]

Could he have written that in The Washington Post in 1982? It's difficult, I would have thought. It might not have passed muster. Some people might have noticed, but in 1991, evidently, it was all right to say that this is what we were doing.[ix]

If you look very carefully you can find many traces by officials stating that the United States had embarked upon a strategy which, retrospectively, it is very clear, was nothing more and nothing less than a strategy to destabilize the Soviet Union. Mr. Casey's magnificent and expansive imagination had carried covert operations beyond the narrow confines of Third World countries and aimed them at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. If you go back and look at the history of these events in this perspective, reading some of the documents, you'll see things very differently

Judd Clark [name indistinct, spelling uncertain], for instance, speaking at a private seminar at Georgetown University, again around 1982, said,

"We must force our principle adversary, the Soviet Union, to bear the brunt of its economic shortcomings."

Well, that's slightly veiled language that means the same sort of thing that everybody else was saying. It wasn't, though, until 1985, that the redoubtable and incomparable Jeane Kirkpatrick appeared on the stage with the full text of the play in hand, and she gave a speech, not surprisingly in front of the Heritage Foundation, at a conference room on Capitol Hill in which she said, "The Reagan doctrine, as I understand it, is about our relations with the Soviet Union," and she then described every principal element of the strategy which Helen Thomas in 1982 called, repeating the NSC briefer's statement, "a full-court press against the Soviet Union."

If you read her speech to the Heritage Foundation, which everybody should read because it was 1985, she was saying that the United States is bent upon a strategy aimed at overthrowing the Soviet Union through internal and external pressures. She principally described the external pressure.

I want to say a little bit about the debate over the internal pressure. Again, in 1982, there was a nasty little debate between some members of Congress and the then-Secretary of State General Alexander Haig . Mr. Haig was very anxious that the United States should embark upon the program which Ronald Reagan was going to describe before the British Parliament in June 1982, at just about the time most of us were going to be in the streets of New York to protest some of the things that he was doing. And Hague said in the debate over the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy, which the Congress had insisted should not spill over into efforts to meddle in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union, Mr. Haig said,

"Just as the Soviet Union gives active support to Marxist-Leninist forces in the West and the [Global] South " [ironic commentary:] (because it owns Newsweek , for instance and it manipulates the Columbia Broadcasting Company such enormous power the Soviet Union has in the West) " we must give vigorous support to democratic forces wherever they are located, including countries which are now communist. We should not hesitate to promote our own values, knowing that the freedom and dignity of man are the ideals that motivate the quest for social justice. A free press, free trade unions, free political parties, freedom to travel, and freedom to create are the ingredients of the democratic revolution of the future, not the status quo of a failed past."

The founder of the Central Intelligence Agency said that propaganda is the first arrow of battle. A statement by Alexander Haig in 1982 to the Congress signals what the United States would attempt to do with the National Endowment for Democracy, that it would try to create and participate in the creation of [a false narrative of ] a failed past in the Soviet Union. And, in fact, as you know, all that went ahead.

Now, let's look at that for a second. I know that it's very difficult to believe this. I ask you to look at the second of the articles which I read, or to search for what I've written. You can read it and search for some of the documentation easily available. You will find that the mission statement of the National Endowment for Democracy, which functions as a kind of consortium bringing many of the pressures of the US government to bear inside the Soviet Union.

Destabilization requires external pressure and a manipulation of the internal situation to move political developments in the direction you desire. That's what targeting a country for destabilization involves. We deprive Cuba of sugar, of medicines etc. and that creates internal pressure, and utilizing the internal pressure, you insert yourself, create groups, diffuse ideas which are inconsistent with those prevailing and suitable to power, and you begin to work on that discontent. If the discontent deepens and spreads, you get better and better odds, and because the Soviet Union was already in a kind of crisis, which, as Abraham Becker said,

"the United States then systematically sought to intensify and exacerbate."

The National Endowment for Democracy and literally dozens and dozens of pseudo-private foundations, which I'll talk about in a second, went into the Soviet Union under the new umbrella of glasnost, created academic presses, created newspapers, created radio stations, and began to mobilize and to work upon the natural dissent and discontent that existed in the Soviet Union, not only because of the historical past but also because of the difficulties of the present as exacerbated by the United States and its Western partners.

If you look at how much money I'll just give you an idea of some of the projects that were involved, and this is just one agency. You have to recognize that if this was going on in the National Endowment for Democracy that there were many, many other channels of finance and influence into the Soviet Union that were working on this.

For instance, in 1984 the NED gave $50,000 to a book exhibit in the Soviet Union: America through American Eyes. At the book fair in 1985 (I mean I'm just selecting [a few]): $70,000 via the Free Trade Union Institute, which is part of the National Endowment, to Soviet Labor Review for research in publications on Soviet trade union and worker rights.

In 1986, $84,000 to Freedom House to expand the operations of two Russian language journals published in the US and distributed in the higher levels of the Soviet bureaucracy and intelligentsia, already an arresting description. Imagine the Soviet Union publishing two English-language journals in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and having them distributed and eagerly read in the highest levels of the United States bureaucracy and intelligentsia. I don't think that would have stuck very well in the United States.

In 1987, Freedom House, for the Athenaeum Press, rushed $55,000 for a Russian-language publication house in Paris to publish unofficial research conducted in the USSR by established scholars writing under pseudonyms. Now what does that mean? If you get down to 1989, we're talking already in the $200,000 category.

For instance, the Center for Democracy, which is related to the National Endowment for Democracy, began to create a center for assistance to independent and nationalist groups, including the Crimean Tatar movement for human and national rights. In other words, they began to finance ethnic and nationalist separatism, began to finance separate trade unions, began to finance their own academics etc., except this is open, but it's very large-scale, very large-scale.

I've done a little calculation and I can tell you that very large amounts of money were being spent, probably on the order of, by all the Western allies, minimum, inside the Soviet Union in the period from the mid to the late 1980s, one hundred million dollars a year -- a hundred million dollars a year to finance organizations which might begin like WESPAC but would then grow, develop, have outreach, which would become extraordinary with that kind of funding, and did finally change things.

If you look at perestroika in the Soviet Union, [we know it started when] Mr. Gorbachev became the Soviet leader. This is the background to the two stages in which we must understand perestroika. In the first stage it was clear that the Soviet leadership was desperate to find a way to renew socialism, that Mr. Gorbachev was bent upon the reformation of the notion of socialism, and that he had widespread support inside the Soviet Union.

There were genuine economic improvements which took place between 1986 and, sort of, let's say, the end of 1988, in the Soviet Union, as a result of those efforts, but the principal question we have to ask ourselves, since today we confront a fragmented, or, if you like, disassembled Soviet Union, the supremacy of nationalism, ethnic conflict, and Mr. Yeltsin -- who represents an extremely right-wing constituency at the present moment -- and the supremacy of capitalism. And a capitalist society is now being created in the Soviet Union, ending Mr. Gorbachev's experiment the crucial question to ask ourselves is a very simple one: how is it that between 1985 and 1990 a movement which began as an attempt to transform and renew socialism in the Soviet Union was supplanted by a right-wing movement aiming at the creation of a capitalist society in the Soviet Union? That is the key question. That is the key question because that's what's happened, and it's strange.

That's why many of us were puzzled about the contradictory evidence coming out of the Khrushchev [ sic ? Brezhnev?] era. It was very difficult to understand. At first, it seemed very positive, and then from the end of 1988, the fall of 1988, it became increasingly clear that things were going to pieces, that Mr. Gorbachev was either not able to control the forces which he had unleashed or that indeed he was bent upon creating, as I heard on the French radio in 1988 for the first time stated very clearly -- it arrested my attention: the purpose, said Mr. [name indistinct], on the radio in his not-bad French, was to create a regulated market economy. That was the purpose of perestroika, not when it began, but somehow something had happened.

In fact there's a lot of very interesting information out there now on the whole process. There was clearly a large dissatisfied set of strata in the Soviet intelligentsia. What has happened in the Soviet Union is more complex than the collapse through its own internal contradictions of the system of socialism in the Soviet Union. I really don't want to talk very much about whether the Soviet Union was a socialist society. There are people who say it was and people who say it wasn't. It's a long discussion between Trotsky and Stalin etc., but for my part I would say this: that the Soviet Union began as a genuine attempt to establish socialism. There were always in the Soviet Union people genuinely seeking to further socialism, and people who didn't give a damn. On balance, the thing we have to ask ourselves is whether the existence of the Soviet Union, as an apparently perceived socialist society, was a positive thing in the world equation at this particular time of history. I, on balance, having spent years in the United Nations, seeing that under the attacks of the Western countries, which in many cases were very ugly, most of the Third World countries which emerged in the late 1950s and 60s and early 70s were really only barely saved by the few sources of support which they got in the socialist world. And when the Soviet Union went down, they went down too; [for example] Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua.

So in many respects I would have thought that the Soviet Union, for all its defects, stood as a positive development in history, with all of the horrors that took place. The United States has had its horrors. The question is this: did the Soviet Union collapse because socialism is unworkable and central planning doesn't work? No, it didn't. There was a crisis in the Soviet Union. I would argue that in the absence of the kind of pressure [that was applied], it's very difficult to weigh the balance. How important were the internal forces? How important were the difficulties experienced internally, and how important was the external pressure and the externally intervening force? How important that balance was is very difficult to get. We have to read through all a lot of intelligence to understand that, to begin to get a grasp of things, but that's our duty as people who are living history, or who seek to understand history. We have to try to do that, and my basic conclusion still at this moment is this: the Soviet Union today, in the absence of this extraordinarily crafty, well-thought-out, extremely costly strategy deployed by the Reagan administration, would be a society struggling through great difficulties. It would still be a socialist society, at least of the kind that it was. It would be far from perfect, but it would still be there, and I think, therefore, that Western intervention made a crucial difference in this situation. That's a judgment.

Conclusion

All right. Now, there is a question irrespective of that: what does it mean that the Soviet Union now has disappeared as a result of the kind of process that I'm talking about, a combination of internal difficulties and external pressure and intervention? Does it mean that socialism doesn't work? Does it mean that [there is no alternative to] the kind of capitalism that we live in today, which I think increasingly of as a return to irrational and savage 19th century capitalism? If you walk through the Bronx and Brooklyn and Harlem, how can you not conclude that we are living in an irrational and savage capitalism in which the leveling attacks of democracy have been dealt with, in which the possibility of remedying that situation by the constitutional means which exist in the normal political channels of our government are very small, that electoral changes, in other words, are not going to be very significant, until there's a mass mobilization of American people to make something happen.

If this is so, then the fact that what has happened in the Soviet Union has happened as it happened has no bearing whatsoever on our problems, and we should not be confused or pushed into consternation by it. Why? Primarily, for a very simple reason: The Soviet Union was conceived at a time when, in Marxist terms, it was not ready. The Soviet Union did not have the material base of abundance which would make it possible to create a society at once egalitarian and democratic because the struggle to create that base would require a degree of repression and authoritarianism, particularly heightened by external intervention and attack, which inevitably would distort the nature of socialism.

I sympathize with Isaac [name indistinct], but I think it's too simple when he says socialism in a backward country is backwards socialism. But the critical fact for us is this: the Soviet Union was a society conceived as a socialist society prior to the creation of the economic base which would permit the creation of a socialist society with ease. We live in a society whose capacity to produce, whose potential abundance is so great that the inability to make use of it is literally tearing this society apart.

We live in a society which is ready, and when I say that, I want to go back to the terms of the discussion on the constitutional conventions. Well, why can't we have economic democracy? What does economic democracy mean? Economic democracy inevitably would mean a number of these things: the accountability of the enormous concentrated power which exists in our society today to public democratic institutions. The planned rational use of resources at the public level, with democratic participation in the same manner that that planned rational use is conceived within the framework of the corporations, where the exercise of those decisions is not accountable. So it seems to me that in our day, when our society is riven by its contradictions, unable to use its abundance, unable to use its productive capacity in a rational, humane and democratic manner, that what is on the agenda today is the democratization of economic power, the rendering accountable of the enormous economic potential and power that exists in our society to make this a better and decent and democratic world.

Voilà.

End of lecture

Question Period

Well, dear friends, first of all, we have to have this serious debate because the real terms of the debate are rendered invisible by the absurd rhetoric and the absurd way in which we speak about ourselves, and by the mass media whose power and determination is to keep the real terms of the debate invisible. The real terms of the debate are: why is this society collapsing? Why does this economic machine not work? Who is responsible? If the people who are responsible are not going to do something about it, let them get the hell out.

Moderator : I know there have got to be lots of questions. We'll allot a certain amount of time. We'll try to recognize everyone.

Question : You've analyzed this quite well, but what does one do to change [the situation]?

Well, I think part of the problem I don't mean to be repetitious but I think that people are clearly immobilized and confused at the moment. I think one of the reasons that people are immobilized and confused is that the proper debate is not out there. It's not possible for people to express what they know from their experience to be true, to assert its truth. The public debate rejects our experience and understanding because the public debate is designed to contain us, to make us accept and even to believe in the superiority of this situation. I think people know what needs to be done out there. In a sense the quintessential problem confronting our country is the enormous concentrated power to shape people's lives, to define discourse, as [name indistinct] pointed out, which is accountable to no one. The democratization of that power means, I think, certainly radical changes in the structure of our society, but ones for which in many respects people are ready and which indeed are supported by most of the values that this society has lived by historically and attests to.

It seems to me it's really quite simple. We don't have democracy in the sense in which we normally understand ourselves to have democracy in which people often speak of us as having. We don't have that. Why do we not have it? Because of this eternal and now much more intensive, much more intense tension that has existed from the beginning between property and democracy, between popular majorities as the Federalists called them, disdainingly, and the rights of property. This now has become an enormous incubus on American society. We have enormous concentrated power for which nobody is accountable, and this is not acceptable. Roger and Me [the documentary film] is a reflection of a sensitivity that says, "We've got to talk about this, Roger. You're responsible for this." So I really think by not knowing these things, not changing the discourse of our lives, and the discourse in the public arena, coming to agreements amongst one another by hard work, by hard discussion, how can we know it's true?

And by the way, I don't think this can be done in the absence of action. That is to say, in a haltingly naive phase of my recent existence, I tried to convince some people in the Congress that we were headed into a really horrible situation, and they didn't want to know. They didn't. They don't want to believe what is uncomfortable for them to believe, so my decision was that you have to go into the trenches, that you have to work on projects that are going to materialize these ideas, that you have to work against plant closings, that you have to work for measures that alleviate the social burdens that exist in a city like New York, that you have to work for things while articulating these ideas because it seems to me it's only in the combination of action and debate of ideas that people will begin to understand the relevance and the necessity of a new discussion. You can't have in that sense -- I cede your point -- you can't have a drawing-room discussion which will prevail.

Certainly the people in the National Endowment for Democracy believe that. They don't just sit back and spend millions of dollars on printing books and making radio tapes and television shows. No. They created new political institutions. They then created new political parties, financing people like Arkady Murashev, the Inter-Regional Group in the Soviet Parliament, until recently. It doesn't exist anymore. The Inter-Regional Group was the group of pseudo-democrats, pro-capitalists, speaking, in many respects for the interests represented in the agglomeration of black market operations in the Soviet Union. Arkady Murashev was systematically cosseted, financed and trained by an organization in Washington very closely tied to certain agencies whose names we don't want to pronounce in the present circumstances. Murashev was a liaison man between Washington and Yeltsin. The National Endowment for Democracy gave $40,000 just for the faxes, and the printing machines and the telephones in the Initiatives Foundation, which was the organization that the Inter-Regional Group used to put out its messages, get itself organized, make contacts, etc. The United States was financing that operation. Arkady Murashev is now the chief of police of the city of Moscow.

This is heavy stuff. I mean, really, it's incredibly dramatic, but we mustn't go on in this vein because there are questions to be answered.

Question : Does every country have to go through this period of savage capitalism to become socialist?

No. I don't believe that. No.

Question: Bush seemed to like Gorbachev. Was Gorbachev foolish? Was he taken for a ride?

These are the great mysteries. There are, as you know, there are a different views. There are different theories about that. One of them is that Gorbachev was a mole, that Gorbachev was a deep-cover or Western intelligence agent. I believe that's exaggerated. I believe that's off the wall, but I do believe that there's an element here that's important to understand.

There was in the Soviet Union, as a result of the very success of the industrialization of the Soviet Union, an enormous alienated set of strata amongst the educated population because the Soviet elite absorbed people at a very small rate. It didn't reach out to large numbers of people. They were educating enormous numbers of people, professional scientific workers, managers, and these people were mostly urban people. They were the fruit, in many respects, of industrialization. At the same time, being urban people, they found themselves trapped in the most difficult conditions in the Soviet Union because in its industrialization the Soviet Union really ignored a lot of problems. Theyfound themselves, in many respects, in a similar situation as the United States, where the decay of urban areas, the lack of equipment, the lack of infrastructure, the lack of adequate facilities for health or education etc. became a real problem. They didn't have the resources to industrialize, to raise the standard of living in the really poor republics of the Soviet Union, and to deal with the urban problem, as we call it in the United States.

So these people were imagine all educated people earning this education and looking upon themselves as deserving of the advantages and prerogatives of their Western counterparts, living in the equivalent of New York City, but earning the wages of a skilled worker. They didn't like it. They felt shut out. They were angry, and it's those people that the neoliberals were recruiting, not just the American neoliberals but their own neoliberals. There were neoliberals in the Soviet Union. There were reactionary people in the Soviet Union this [name indistinct] operation out in Siberia, the so-called sociological think tank. There are people who, I don't know why Perhaps when you become very isolated from the world and separated from reality you conjure up the most amazing dreams in your mind. I think Marx called it idealism. In any case, these people were very much Western idealists and they came, frankly, into Moscow and Leningrad fervent believers in the need to embrace Western institutions because of their frustration, because of their understanding of their own past. Whether it was distorted or not, it's not for me to say. It's because of the way they viewed and felt about their past, because of their own personal frustration, because of the problems which were very real that they experienced by the Soviet leadership, by the Soviet economy and society. They were alienated, and that's where there was recruitment. When economic growth slowed down it made it much worse, and it spread the basis of recruitment very effectively.

There is a collection of essays which I think is quite remarkable and valuable, which gives you some background about the incredible contradictions in the Soviet Union, and how the Soviet Union, in fact, more than a decade and even two decades ago, was in fact being prepared for what is happening. It was ripening for some big bull shaking the tree, which is eventually what happened. That's the collection that The Monthly Review has published recently, After the Fall, something like that. After the Fall of the Soviet Union is really a very valuable collection of essays on the Soviet Union, or whatever it is after communism. Very useful stuff.

Question : Could you talk about Third World countries?

That's a really hard question. I've worked in Third World countries which were socialist countries and which were under attack. I worked in Mozambique in the beginning of the 1980s when the South African-Western-CIA operations were really beginning to [take a toll], and people were dying by the tens of thousands because the roads had been cut, and the supplies had been cut, and the health stations blown up, and I think that it was very hard for them to survive that. Socialism proved very frail in Mozambique, even though the leaders of the revolution had been born in armed struggle, formed by armed struggle, were dedicated to armed struggle, but the society just couldn't withstand that kind of pressure.

In some ways I think that's true of the Soviet Union. There was a war in the shadows waged against the Soviet Union on a massive scale, and what these events prove is the Soviet Union was insufficiently strong to stand up to those pressures, and I think this is all the more true in the Third World. I don't know, but I don't want to say that I know the answer, whether they should try to make that jump or not. I think that will depend on what happens in the Western world. I don't see any reason why the jump couldn't be made if the West, Western Europe and the United States, in particular North America saw [supported] significant transformation of the present system of power. Then it's not a problem, but with this massive opposition coming from the West, it's very difficult to survive.

Question (apparently edited from video recording): __________________

These same people today, and we're talking about within a few months, within the end of the year there being not 50,000 but between six and eight million unemployed people in Russia, 130 million people, labor force of 65 or 70 million, and I saw this same thing happening in East Germany.

I was very briefly in Humboldt University in 1989 or 1990, I can't remember which now. The whole situation was in upheaval, and I saw many intellectuals genuinely enraged by the arrogance of the Honecker regime, and at the same time, unfortunately, completely unaware of what would happen if that regime went down, taking everything, "really existing socialism," with it. And my question would be, OK, it's a question. You know the old version of this question used to be what about Stalin, but it's a little different now.

My problem is this: let's look at it in human terms, OK? Just forget ideology. What has happened as a result of the materialization of the dreams of the so-called reformers and democrats in the Soviet Union? What has happened is what has happened in Poland, and worse: that the standard of living of ordinary people is going to collapse, that old people will be destitute, that children will be without health care, that the transportation system is collapsing, that there will be no food distribution by spring, that people will starve, that there is continuous ethnic conflict. Now, the Soviet system of prices and of raw material supplies were such that enormous quantities that the supply system worked in a way which led to the waste of vast quantities of raw materials and semi-finished products. I mean vast quantities.

So the idea was to go in to work at the enterprise level to create incentives to create better accounting, a system of prices which would reflect the real value of these raw materials and not the fact that they could be replaced anytime you wanted because all you have to do is put an order in. It didn't matter what you did with them. It [the reform] was focused on the enterprise, on profit incentives, and this loosening of the tight bonds on the enterprise, really did lead to a recrudescence of output. For instance, between 1986 and 88 there was a 17% increase in housing production in the Soviet Union. There was a 30% increase in overall production. The production, the economy, accelerated in the period 1986-88. In those three years the economy accelerated, but as I said, there were two stages of perestroika. There was a stage of perestroika where the effects were quite beneficial, where it was clear that perestroika and glasnost were aiming to energize and develop andfree and move forward the Soviet Union.

As a friend of mine said, the only way to ensure the social development of the Soviet Union is to undertake these reforms, but there was another stage, a second stage beginning in late 1988 to, obviously, the end of 1991, where the forces that were unleashed utilized the reform program to destroy socialism, clearly to destroy socialism, and Mr. Gorbachev was either helpless before that or a willing apprentice of that process. I could not pretend to pronounce which of those was the case. It's very difficult to say.

On the other hand, I really don't know how anybody in his right mind could have conceived of the notion that the way forward for the Soviet Union -- and this was the quintessential statement of perestroika by the principle Soviet leaders in the mid-1980s -- the way for the Soviet Union was to integrate the Soviet Union into the world economy. I mean to an economist with any degree of sophistication and critical approach, that is sheer unadulterated madness. It's like saying that the North American free trade agreement will lead to real economic development in Mexico. It's absurd. I mean we know what those processes are. How can a much weaker, less industrialized Soviet Union hope to stand up against the economic forces arrayed against it and capable of penetrating it, once it declares its intention to integrate itself into the world economy? When I heard that, I said, "It's all over, boys. These people don't know that they're doing," and indeed, listening to Soviet economists as I did when I was still teaching in Paris, and meeting with some of these people, until 1989, I got the impression of two things: they had not the least actual understanding of what was going on in the West, and that their theoretical conceptions were taken out of a handbook by Voltaire making fun of the French aristocracy.

Transcript produced by Youtube "auto-caption" speech recognition software, corrected and edited by blog author, Dennis Riches.

Notes

[i] Davis Guggenheim (Director), Al Gore (Writer), "An Inconvenient Truth," Paramount Classics , 2006.

[ii] Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015), 267-268. "What is really needed is proper planning of available resources globally, plus a drive, through public investment, to develop new technologies that could work and, of course, a shift out of fossil fuels into renewables. Also, it is not just a problem of carbon and other gas emissions, but of cleaning up the environment, which is already damaged. All these tasks require public control and ownership of the energy and transport industries and public investment in the environment for the public good."

[iii] Sean Gervasi, " Western Intervention in the USSR ," Covert Action Information Bulletin No. 39, Winter 1991-92, 4-9.

[iv] Sean Gervasi, " Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia? " Global Research , September 9, 2001, https://www.globalresearch.ca/why-is-nato-in-yugoslavia/21008 . This paper was presented by Sean Gervasi at The Conference on the Enlargement of NATO in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean , Prague, January 13-14, 1996.

[v] Gary Wilson, " Economist Exposed U.S.-German Role in Balkans ," Workers World News Service , Aug. 29, 1996, https://www.workers.org/ww/1997/gervasi.html . The short biography written here borrowed some wording and information from this obituary published by Workers World News Service .

[vi] Helen Thomas, " Reagan approves tough strategy with Soviets ," United Press International (UPI) , May 21, 1982, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/05/21/Reagan-approves-tough-strategy-with-Soviets/7761390801600/ .

[vii] Richard Halloran, " Pentagon Draws up First Strategy for Fighting a Long Nuclear War ," The New York Times , May 5, 1982, http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/30/world/pentagon-draws-up-first-strategy-for-fighting-a-long-nuclear-war.html?pagewanted=all .

The reference appears to be to this article. The dates 1984-1988 may appear to be an error because the report referred to was written in 1982. However, the Defense Guidelines were focused on plans for the future, fiscal years of 1984-1988.

[viii] David Ignatius, " Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups ," The Washington Post , September 22, 1991, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1991/09/22/innocence-abroad-the-new-world-of-spyless-coups/92bb989a-de6e-4bb8-99b9-462c76b59a16/?utm_term=.e9976e81e6d1 .

[ix] As we know from the perspective of 2017, the normalization of such interventions continued shamelessly, going from a bad habit to a deranged addiction. The political establishment in America now resorts to economic warfare, violence and military intervention as the solutions for every problem in international relations.

All images, except the featured, in this article are from the author.

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Sean Gervasi and Dennis Riches , Global Research, 2019

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[Nov 30, 2019] Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR

Nov 30, 2019 | debatewise.org

Perestroika put the final nails in the USSR's economy One of the first main policies Gorbachev adopted was Perestroika – reform of the economy. Hoarding and reciprocal favours (blat) had been a means of survival in the Soviet Union, thieving to 'moonlight' was also common and this cost the regime a lot. The 'command-administrative' system had become obsolete in the Post-Industrial era and was curtailing economic development 1. To solve this, Gorbachev wanted to give enterprise managers control over contracts and introduce aspects of the market economy, to make it managers' responsibility to gain contracts and to make sure the enterprise makes a profit. However, in practice the way the enterprises operated remained unchanged except in terms – ministries rephrased their commands as contracts 2. Private enterprise was also permitted, which seemed to contradict Gorbachev's claim to be committed to Marxist-Leninist thought which was vehemently opposed to capitalism which Marxist's argue exploit the proleteriat – so to actually create a class of capitalists who (according to Marxist doctrine) would exploit the workers who were supposed to be living in socialist – i.e. 'classless society' seemed contradictory to the very ideological concept the regime's power was based upon. A small amount of private enterprise emerged, but the profiteering was very much resented by the general population – goods and services were sold for four or five times their subsidized price due to shortages. Another aspect of Perestroika was entry into the market economy – many of the social benefits given by the enterprises had to be done away with, as they could not make a profit and afford to maintain the benefits, resulting in a stagnant economy occuring simultaneously with a collapsing social welfare system. Gorbachev's reforms did not work and only succeeded in hastening the economic collapse that was inevitable.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because... Glasnost facilitated Opposition to Concentrate against the Regime Allowing freedom of thought from the 'mono-ideological controls' that existed for decades and allowing pluralist thought and leadership meant a weakening of power for the Communist Party – it had to convert into a proper parliamentary party to survive. Furthermore, in a regime based on oppression and propaganda, when these are removed and freedom of speech and freedom of the media are introduced, nasty elements about the system in the past are going to be revealed, and when there is 70 years of repression being reported all at once, it is inevitable there will be extreme hostility toward those responsible – the Party 1, this especially fuelled the anger of the nationalities who had been oppressed and triggered a nationalist movement.

The population were dissatisfied with the dire state of affairs and could voice their discontent openly with glasnost, which led to Gorbachev becoming very unpopular by 1991, in which year the economy had contracted by 18% 2, people were also very concerned over the incompetence of the command-administrative system and irresponsibility of the leadership with regards to the 1986 Chernobyl power station disaster 3.

In a state committed to one ideology, the removal of mono-ideological controls, and the ability of other ideological persuasions to come to power meant the Party had lost its RIGHT to govern the people unless the people themselves WANTED the Party to rule. Thus, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had to win the support of the people in order to govern effectively. However, in a society that was becoming increasingly liberal and 'bourgeois' (the USSR was largely middle class, private property was protected and capitalism was legalised), the people had to believe in socialist ideology – which would have been almost impossible to achieve.

Gorbachev's reforms themselves undermined some of the principle features of socialist rule in the USSR, e.g. atheism, mono-ideological control, one-party state, economic monopoly and the suspendability of law. Gorbachev's ideology itself – his focus on 'all-human values' instead of the class struggle, the rule of law, international peace and proper parliamentary representation have more resonance with John Stuart Mill than Karl Marx 4 – Gorbachev was subconsciously moving the USSR in this ideological direction.

With democratization and pluralist thought permitted, Gorbachev found himself operating within an increasingly wide political spectrum – with the reformist 'democrats' on one side and the conservative Communist Party members on the other. There was a constant power struggle between the two and Gorbachev dealt with this by constantly playing one side against the other and compromising. One of Gorbachev's critics at the time said this was like trying to marry a hare to a hedgehog. The two sides were very much irreconcilable and instead of trying to defeat one side, Gorbachev sat on the fence and as a result his policies were constantly inconsistent – you cannot mix radical reforms with conservatism 5. The dangers of this were apparent when Shevardnadze, Foreign Minister at the time, resigned because he warned a dictatorship was approaching, Gorbachev ignored this threat and dismissed this claim with overconfidence 6.

1 Kagarlitsky, B. Russia under Yeltsin and Putin: neo-liberal autocracy, London: Pluto 2002

2 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

3 Haynes, M., Russia: Class and Power, 1917-2000, London: Bookmarks 2002

4 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

5 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991

6 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991 No because... Regional Nationalism and Independence Movements These original flaws in the system were largely responsible for its own downfall – in particular the nationalities issue – the decision to maintain the Empire without granting real power to the nationalities whilst simultaneously repressing them left most of the nationalities feeling bitter when glasnost revealed the truth about how they had been treated in the past and democratisation gave them the power to chose representatives who would really represent people's interests (the nationalist movement) whilst at the same time being given by Gorbachev an appetite for power – a fatal combination.

The wealthier regions wanted a separation from the USSR because of the feeling they were being milked from the centre and many other regions wanted to become independent because they did not want to be part of an economic disaster area which became apparent when the Donbass miners who had no commitment to nationalism thought their future would be safer if the Ukraine wasn't part of the USSR 1.

The nationalist movement emerged when freedom of speech, media and association along with democratisation and the loss of fear of repression allowed people to voice pride in their nation and resentment at past repressions as well as the ongoing special treatment of Russians in the Regions, who had access to better housing and other special privileges the locals did not.

Certain Republics felt nationalism more strongly than others, most notably the Baltic States who felt a strong cultural attachment to the West and felt they were being unfairly occupied. Gorbachev's mistake here was to downplay the importance of nationalism and not treat the Baltic States as a special case 2. After all, most of the population of the USSR wished to preserve the Union – 76% voted to preserve the Union in March 1991 (except the Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia who did not conduct the referendum) 3. After the failed coup, most states declared their independence, even if they did so with reluctance, as there was a general feeling there was no alternative. Gorbachev tried to persuade the Republics not to become fully independent. However, in early December, the Ukraine held a referendum where the population voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, even after Gorbachev stated "there can be no Union without Ukraine", on 8th December, Yeltsin met with the Ukrainian and Bielorussian leader and declared a formal end to the USSR and the establishment of the Confederation of Independent States which they invited the other states to join.

There was nothing left Gorbachev could do, democratisation had brought about the means for independence and Gorbachev didn't feel he could argue with people's wishes carried out through democratic means and, on 25th December he resigned with regret.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996

3 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996 Yeltsin Factor Boris Yeltsin emerged as the true hero and strong leader for the fearlessness to condemn the coup – in a press conference afterwards Yeltsin ordered Gorbachev around undermining his position, then used his institutional powers derived from democratization to appoint Egor Gaidar, an economist dedicated to laissez-faire economics, as his Finance Minister and suspension of the CPSU pending an investigation into the coup. Gorbachev half heartedly argued against this but it was no use – he was seen as a weaker leader along with discontent over his policies, whilst Yeltsin's radicalism was keeping pace with developments and his popularity at an all-time high, Gorbachev's position was also much less weaker without the Communist Party. Also, the Soviet Union really could not exist without the Communist Party arguably as they had political and economic monopoly on society and the Communist Party went from controlling these aspects of society to ceasing to exist, the Soviet Union could not function and the economy spiralled out of control. Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... August 1991 Coup Counter Productive, Bringing About What It Sought To Prevent - The End of the Soviet Union By August 1991 Gorbachev's popularity was at an all-time low both in the Party and outside it. Despite being advised by some of his staff to sign the Treaty agreement granting the republics real autonomy before going on holiday and some suspicious circumstances he should have been more questioning about, he planned on signing the agreement when he returned. This was a big mistake and allowed the conservatives to stage a coup. The Emergency Committee made no reference whatsoever to Marxism-Leninism or the class struggle in their speech, meaning it was a coup in the hope of returning the Soviet Union to 'normal' i.e. an Empire controlled from Moscow and putting the final nails in the coffin of socialism in the USSR 1.

The failed coup triggered the very thing it sought to prevent – the break-up of the Soviet Union 2.

1 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... The System Needed to Change in Order to Survive in the Longer Term; That Mikhail Gorbachev's Reforms Failed Showed that the USSR Could Not be Saved By the Gorbachev era, all hopes of fulfilling the original Marxist-Leninist dream were gone and most did not feel passionately about communism, even within the Party. There was a general acknowledgement that the USSR could not continue in the same way as before – Andropov, Gorbachev's predecessor also realised this and set about changing society through repressive measures such as harsh labour discipline enforced by cutting payments from workers for work deemed poor quality and restrictions on the sale of alcohol and prohibition of alcohol on official occasions was felt overly repressive and for many – Gorbachev was seen as a positive, energetic leader who would overcome the USSR's problems in a less repressive manner. With economic stagnation and an economy dependent on the exportation of natural resources to survive 1, an unsuccessful war (Afghanistan) and an ageing Party Membership to combat, Gorbachev was the candidate for those who wanted change or at least realised change could no longer be postponed 2.

Autocracies survive due to repressing their people to the extent that they are not given the freedoms required to change their government, rather than because the people want them to stay in power. Mikhail Gorbachev's conscience and sense of responsibility for his population dictated that the system could no longer be propped up like this, and that the people needed and deserved the freedoms and basic human rights they had been denied for decades. That the system could not encorporate such freedoms meant that the system morally should not be allowed to perpetuate itself, and thus the Soviet Union fell apart because it was unrepresentative and did not support the population's human rights means the fall of the USSR should be applauded, not mourned for its' population.

1 Volkogonov, D.A. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire: political leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, edited and translated by M. Shukman, London: HarperCollins 1998

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... War with Afghanistan Drained USSR of Patriotic Morale The war in Afghanistan was a key contributing factor to the breakup of the USSR. Reuveny and Prakash argue that the Soviet-Afghan war contributed to undermining the Soviet Union in many ways. First, it discredited the Red Army, and impacted negatively upon the image of the Red Army as a strong, almost invincible force, which gave nationalist movements in the Republics hope that they might succeed in attaining independence after all. Second, it impacted upon leadership perception on the usefulness of utilising the military to keep the union intact and as a force for foreign intervention. Third, it created new forms of political participation, which had begun to impact upon media reporting even before glasnost, and began the first calls for glasnost, as it created a number of war veterans, who went on to form organisations which weakened the total authority of the CPSU 1.

1 Reuveny, Rafael, and Prakash, Aseem, 'The Afghanistan War and the Breakdown of the Soviet Union', Review of International Studies (1999), 25:693-708 Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... It was dead from the time Stalin took control Gorbachev finished it off, but Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev etc. really killed it. Lenin had nothing to do with that, he was a socialist-marxist, not a communist. You obviously don't know the difference. Learn it before you blindly yell your opinion into the dark of the internet.

[Nov 30, 2019] Gorbachev Called Coward, Traitor by Former Comrade - Los Angeles Times

Nov 30, 2019 | www.latimes.com

Advertisement Gorbachev Called Coward, Traitor by Former Comrade By VIKTOR K. GREBENSHIKOV May 28, 1992 12 AM

Share Close extra sharing options SPECIAL TO THE TIMES MOSCOW -- Yegor K. Ligachev, once the second-most-powerful man in the Kremlin, on Wednesday called his former boss and comrade, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, a coward and a traitor.

"I met many Communists who spent decades in labor camps in the permafrost zone but retained their faith in the party," the erstwhile Politburo hard-liner said. "I fail to understand its general secretary who spent three days in the best health resort the country has by the warm sea, then called for its dissolution."

Ligachev, as straight-talking and opinionated as ever, met with journalists to present his book "The Gorbachev Riddle," a personal chronicle of the perestroika years he helped to shape before the Soviet president and party leader gave him the boot in August, 1990.

The book presentation, attended by a standing-room-only audience in the Moscow House of Journalists, served as a forum for Ligachev, 71, to reiterate his views and credo.

Advertisement

"When life proved me wrong, I did change my perceptions," he said with quiet dignity, "but I never changed my principles. Unlike Gorbachev, I still adhere to socialism, and I still think this is the future for my country." The white-haired native of Siberia said his only desire is to reunite the nation, introduce peace and stability and build a "new, refurbished Soviet Union."

A foe of both Gorbachev and Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin, Ligachev contended that his country is in danger of becoming a "raw materials supplier and semi-colony" for the capitalist world as the Russian leadership presses on with its economic reforms.

"The ban on the Communist Party, an organization uniting about 20 million members, cannot but diminish the chances for a peaceful resolution of the country's current political, economic and social crisis," Ligachev said, referring to a ban that Yeltsin ordered last Nov. 6.

Few questions during the presentation ceremony concerned Ligachev's 303-page book itself; instead, many people sought out his view of recent political developments. Advertisement The most persistent question put to Ligachev was why none of the former leaders of the Communist Party had volunteered to defend it at hearings on its record ordered for July by the Constitutional Court of Russia.

Asserting that it is Gorbachev who is legally obligated to take on this task, Ligachev said that the party "had been betrayed by its general secretary" and that it is now up to "ordinary Communists" to defend the party's 73-year record in leading the Soviet Union.

Ligachev, who became a voting, or full, member of the ruling party Politburo in 1985, the same year Gorbachev came to power, remains the only publicly active figure from the defunct body who voices support for his old principles.

Others, such as former Vice President Gennady I. Yanayev, are now in prison for their roles in last August's unsuccessful attempt at overthrowing Gorbachev when he was on vacation at a Crimean beach resort.

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev Might as Well Have Been Working for the CIA by Olga Zinovieva

Notable quotes:
"... In 1979 at one of my public speeches ("How to kill an elephant with a needle"), I was asked what in my opinion was the most vulnerable point in the Soviet system. I replied: the one that is considered the most reliable, namely, the apparatus of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, within it - the Central Committee, and within the latter - the General Secretary. ..."
"... The reader should not think that I gave that idea to Cold War strategists. They realized that without me. One of the employees of the Intelligence Service told me that soon they (i.e. forces of the West) would put their man on "the soviet throne". ..."
"... What distinguishes this Cold War operation is that the method of "killing an elephant with a needle" was applied against a less powerful, yet mighty opponent, to obviate the possibility of a "hot war" becoming dangerous to the point where the advantages of the West could disappear, as happened in the war of Germany versus the Soviet Union in 1941-1945. ..."
"... The method in question made it possible to avoid risk and losses, save time and win by proxy. The method invented by the weak to fight stronger opponents was adopted by the most powerful forces on the planet in their war for domination over the entire human race. ..."
Nov 17, 2015 | russia-insider.com

More than anyone else, he was responsible for handing the US and UK their greatest strategic victory ever Alexander Zinoviev Tue, | 1300 words 8,718 31 MORE: History


This post first appeared on Russia Insider
RI continues with a series of articles about the life and works of the brilliant postwar Russian philosopher, author, and dissident, Alexander Zinoviev.

This time, his famous essay on how the West destroyed the USSR is introduced by his widow Olga, chairwoman of the Zinoviev Club at Rossiya Sevodnya, a major Russian news agency.

How different US-Russia relations were back then...

Zinoviev often said that judging from Gorbachev's behavior, one cannot exclude the possibility that he was working for the West, but that at the end of the day, it didn't really matter, because what he did served the West's interests exactly.

lllustrations are by Zinoviev himself, provided to RI by his family.

Previous articles in the series are: The End of Communism in Russia Meant the End of Democracy in the West and Zinoviev to Yeltsin in 1990: "The West Applauds You for Destroying Our Country" , This Great Satirist Gloried in the Absurdities of the USSR (Alexander Zinoviev)

Translated from Russian especially for RI by Sergei Malygin


Introduction

Before you, dear readers, you have one of the seven chapters of Zinoviev's famous essay 'How to Kill an Elephant With a Needle', written in 2005, a year before the author's death.

The material for it derived from recollections of the numerous meetings Alexander Zinoviev had with representatives of the West's political elite who were responsible for the formation of policy with respect to the USSR.

1016196444.jpg
Olga Zinovieva - an active voice in contemporary Russia
The idea underlying little episodes, including historical examples, is as elementary and limpid as spring water: how to work out the weak spot of the enemy, adversary, scoundrel or opponent, irrespective of their number and armaments, both literally and metaphorically.

With graphic clarity, as if it were a lesson, he provides a whole series of examples, beginning with his own example involving a compass but then using classical examples from history, such as the episode with Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador conqueror of Mexico, who demonstrated extraordinary quick-wittedness in his detection of the adversary's weak spot (the Indians).

Astonished by the attack of a handful of Pizarro's warriors on their leader, whom they regarded as a god and who in their conception was invulnerable and untouchable, the Indians capitulated without a fight. "Pizarro", wrote Alexander Zinoviev, "had divined the enemy army's weak spot, its Achilles heel".

In this essay he writes about how the Soviet Union's weak spot turned out to be the top echelons of the leadership.

Zinoviev was often called a dissident, but he never thought of himself as such. He was a critic of the Soviet system, but he was not its enemy.

In his later years he often repeated that, if he had known what a dreadful fate awaited the USSR, he would not have written a single critical book or article about it.

Olga Zinovieva


How to kill an elephant with a needle

I was exiled to the West in 1978, when the thirty-year course of the Cold War hit a radical turning point.

Cold War leaders have studied Soviet society since the beginning. The new science of Sovietology has been developed employing thousands of experts and involving hundreds of research centers.

Within it, a separate branch of Kremlinology has appeared. It pedantically studied the structure of the Soviet State, the party apparatus, the central party apparatus, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Politburo and employees of the government apparatus individually.

But for a long time (perhaps until the end of the 1970s) the main focus was on the ideological and psychological manipulation of the general population, the creation of pro-Western masses of Soviet citizens who in actuality would play the role of the West's "fifth column" and (intentionally or unintentionally) working on the ideological and moral disintegration of the Soviet population (not to mention other functions). Thus the dissident movement was created.

In short, the main work was carried out through the destruction of Soviet society "from below". Important achievements had been made that became factors in the future counterrevolution. But they were not significant enough to bring the Soviet society to its collapse.

By the end of the 1970s, the Western Cold War leaders understood that. They realized that the government system formed the basis of Soviet communism and the party apparatus was at its core. Having thoroughly studied the party apparatus, the nature of relations between its members, their psychology and qualifications, selection methods and its other characteristics, Cold War leaders concluded that Soviet society could be destroyed only from the top, by destroying its system of government.

To destroy the latter it was necessary and sufficient to destroy the party apparatus, starting from its top level - the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. So they shifted their main efforts in that direction.

They found the most vulnerable place in the Soviet social structure. It was not difficult for me to guess this shift, because I had an opportunity to observe and study that hidden part of the Cold War.

In 1979 at one of my public speeches ("How to kill an elephant with a needle"), I was asked what in my opinion was the most vulnerable point in the Soviet system. I replied: the one that is considered the most reliable, namely, the apparatus of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, within it - the Central Committee, and within the latter - the General Secretary.

To Homeric laughter in the audience, I said that "if you put your man in that position he will ruin the party apparatus, thus starting a chain reaction resulting in the breakdown of the entire government system and administration. The consequence will be the breakdown of the entire society". I referred to the precedent of Pizarro.

The reader should not think that I gave that idea to Cold War strategists. They realized that without me. One of the employees of the Intelligence Service told me that soon they (i.e. forces of the West) would put their man on "the soviet throne".

At that time I did not believe that was possible. I spoke hypothetically of the General Secretary as the West's "needle". But Western strategists already considered that to be a realistic proposition. They developed a plan for winning the war: take the supreme power in the Soviet Union under their control by promoting "their" man to the position of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, force him to destroy the CPSU apparatus, implement an overhaul ("perestroika") that would start a chain reaction and consequent breakdown of the entire Soviet society.

Such a plan was realistic then because the crisis at the top level of Soviet power was already evident, due to the senescence of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

Soon "their" man in the role of the Western "needle" appeared (if he was not "prepared" in advance). Admittedly, the plan worked well.

What distinguishes this Cold War operation is that the method of "killing an elephant with a needle" was applied against a less powerful, yet mighty opponent, to obviate the possibility of a "hot war" becoming dangerous to the point where the advantages of the West could disappear, as happened in the war of Germany versus the Soviet Union in 1941-1945.

The method in question made it possible to avoid risk and losses, save time and win by proxy. The method invented by the weak to fight stronger opponents was adopted by the most powerful forces on the planet in their war for domination over the entire human race.


Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

That would be too smart for them and plainly impossible.

Zinoviev was wrong about it.

There is Russian saying that a fool is more dangerous than an enemy. it is what happened.

Constantine Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

You put it pretty well. I also think that Gorby wasn't a conscious traitor, but he was not capable to handle the necessary tasks for the reform of the USSR. He botched it badly.

Yeltsin, on the other hand, was exactly that: a traitor. And he proved it time and again.

A final note: Pizarro conquered Peru, not Mexico.

Serge Krieger Constantine 4 years ago ,

Did not notice that about Pizarro, Kortez conquered Mexico.
Gorby was not fit and did not have what it takes to be Central Secretary and he had no idea about how power is used. In times of restructuring and reforms power cannot be diffused and undermined which is what he did, but must be concentrated. Making quite a few heads roll would cause the rest to fall in line including Yeltsin, who was a typical opportunist who smelt weakness and rot at the top and used it.
Note that after Lenin death and until, Stalin by brutal measures concentrated power in his hands, there was a lot of talk but little deeds. Just like in US Congress. Same happened under Gorby, everybody started talking, then everybody started smearing face with feces and glorifying the West until they undermined any chance for positive change. What should have been done is to make heads indeed roll at the top especially in Central Asia and Caucasus republics where corruption was running amok and local intelligencia born by USSR own efforts started thinking too much of themselves. Then when everybody would see there is the Boss in Kremlin, things could have been started to move .
In China Deng had to deal with Hua Guo Feng and others before he started reforms after concentrating power in own hands.
Gorby, well, was not cut for the role. Every few months new ideas, busy body and not very straight talker. He was too soft and lacked abilities to be leader of such a country and had none in his surrounding to shore his deficiencies up.

hoss2013 Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

Interesting and logical. Did Putin do this (heads roll) to concentrate power?

Serge Krieger hoss2013 4 years ago ,

He did , but me think not enough. also, it is not exactly the way it used to be. I think Putin knew what he was doing. Unlike Gorby who had all of the power in his hands and could do things we are talking about, Putin had to maneuver. His position was not unassailable when he came to power and much later. He had to be more of a fox. He is also not a cruel man, like Stalin was.

chavez Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

It wouldn't be impossible, even today there are some questionable characters in very high Kremlin positions, and if any of them manage come to power they will undermine Russia's interests as has happened in the not so distant past.

I agree that in the case of Gorby he was more of a fool than a Western agent. The Westerners knew how to charm, flatter and entertain him and he was only too willing to please them and lap up their manipulation and false promises.

Serge Krieger chavez 4 years ago ,

It would be impossible. They do not and did not understand how things work in Russia and they almost always are wrong. Gorby stupidity was all the required, Yeltsin was a dark horse and Coup leaders should have studied more of Lenin how to make coups.

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago • edited ,

1:23 and 6:54 Play Hide

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

You underestimate greatly the power of western cunningness and persuading.

Serge Krieger Jack Bluebird 4 years ago ,

With Gorby no cunning was necessary. The guy was plain sucker and not fit for the office. Looks like he got picked for 2 qualities. Youth and good health and having no enemies.

In those years we had new General secretary every year.

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

I am so sad that the great Soviet Union for which so many many millions of brave and honest people gave everything they had and their life in the end got ripped apart due to this corrupted idiot. Furthermore I am surprised beyond any belief that no one from KGB or Soviet Army arranged for this fool to get smoked when they saw what was about to commence. Today it is still the biggest mystery to me. I am aware that USSR had some problems but those were truly nothing compared to what Russia and all the other post Soviet countries faced after USSR got destroyed by that cock sucker. 300 000 000 people more or less got their future crippled and robbed because of 1 ( one ) western puppy. I just still today cannot believe that happened. Looks like of course he had some KGB staff on his payroll but in the end I just cannot believe that no one took him to Siberia and burried him over there on time.

What is even more sad is that today this idiot is prancing freely across Russia even after almost everyone today sees that because of him they got Yeltsin and his mobsters that stole their future.

I do admire Russian people and respect them for everything they wnt through their past but some things are just not logical for a 12 year old child and definitely not for a nation that gave the most chess masters and champions to the world.

I would definitely like your comment on this if you are a citizen of ex USSR.

Vtran 4 years ago ,

lets look at it a different way ... Who was Gorbachev not Working FOR !
-
Gorbachev Was not Working For the USSR, Gorbachev Was not working for the People of the USSR ...
-
now it is easier to see who Gorbachev the Traitor was Working For / and Where Gorbachev Loyalties Were !

Boris Jaruselski 4 years ago ,

An emotional summary, ...NOT a intelligent one!

Mihail Sergeyevitch is a Russian patriot, just as good as many more millions of Russians are! But Mihail Sergeyevitch fallen for the pretence of honesty, so skilfully played by the west, as he presupposed the existence of GENTLEMEN being in power in the west! ...and he wasn't the only one of the Russian politicians, ...Dimitry Anatolyevitch fallen for the same, ...when the agreed for a no-fly zone to be established over Libya!

There are NO gentlemen in western politics! ZIPPO, ZILCH, NADA! There are O N L Y BASTARDS, one worse then the next!

teddyfromcd Boris Jaruselski 4 years ago ,

i think gorbachev can in a sense be called traitorious to the RUSSIAN nation -- whether it was under the USSR or not...

but precisely because he allowed himself to be ''open'' in ways that the west needed for the leadership to be open -- at the exact time when russia at the core of the USSR NEEDED someone to REFUSE to be ''open'' in exactly the way the USA wanted -- in order to get rid of the 'perception' of a 'failing, geriatric ussr" - and thus , be ''welcomed" by the ''world" which to gorbachev WAS the west...

to the nearly complete ignoring of THE MAJORITY of other nations (such as we see PUTIN achieve differently) -

he became the instrument of what was to follow -- yeltsin and the collapse of not just the USSR -- but RUSSIA'S governance itself

which further opened russia to the pillaging through the oligarchic collaborators with their western masters...

i think GORBACHEV LOVES RUSSIA -- i really do -- i think he is as russia in his soul and heart as can be...

but he was simply

WRONG in his putting FAITH and confidence, just as BORIS correctly argues,

in having GENTLEMEN AS COUNTERPARTS from the west. -- reagan the ACTOR?

excuse me -- THAT IS ALL that gorbacheV should HAVE KEPT IN MIND. to know that the USA was and IS NOT A ''partner"

as the russians, including putin -- like to say out of POLITENESS.

he should have realized that the WEST ARE NOT -- nd never have been 'THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN"

but EXTRAORDINARILY DECEITFUL plunderers and pillagers.

AND it has been like that since the beginning of the USA - TODAY -- and WILL continue to be so.

it is in its DNA

just as TRUE compassion -- faith, ethics, morality, a sense of TRUE justice and brotherhood of all humanity

IS IN THE DNA Of the RUSSIAN SOUL.

in other words -- the MISTAKE of gorbachev -- and yeltsin -- who were RIVALS --
was to believe or WISH to believe THAT THE AMERICANS and west --

were and are EQUALS AS PEOPLE GUIDED BY ETHICS ABOVE politics, economics, personal glory, even nationality --

tht the west -- reagan etc -- were actually MEN OF HONOR.

THAT WAS HIS -- and ANY russian leaderships; GREATEST mistake.

perhaps gorbachev did not HAVE to 'work for the CIA" -- AND THE author is probably correct -- he didn'/t HAVE to - DIRECTLY \\\

it was enough that gorbachev suffered from ''infatuation" with the west....

and so -- whatever HIS intentions or beliefs were -- his ACTS -- in themselves BECAME acts of treason to his great country and people.
for what he did was -- to try to present THEM -- IN HIS ''glasnost and perestroika"

some of the 'freedom of the west" -- that the russian people REALLY did NOT need -- but could have a freedom of THEIR very own

INDEPENDENT of ''copying or emulating" the west...

because IN RUSSIA AND AMONG the russian people

was ALL THE STRENGTH of their own freedom and choice and prosperity they WOULD EVER NEED!

WE SEE THAT TODAY.

bartmaeus 4 years ago ,

Gorby was in cahoots with the Council of 300, so it is alleged by Dr. John Coleman, former MI6.

Jack Bluebird bartmaeus 4 years ago • edited ,

I do agree with that. He was and still is a mason.

Prole Center 4 years ago ,

Hearing on U.S. Security Strategy Post-9/11
Testimony before House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
November 6, 2007
( http://www.hks.harvard.edu/...

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage:

Well, indeed. I think we probably didn't get off to the
right foot in the Cold War. But, you know, we did apply smart power.

And let me give you an example -- I was being facetious about the
Chou En-lai French Revolution comment. But one of the advisers to
Gorbachev was a fellow by the name of Yakovlev -- he's the fellow who
came up with the term perestroika.

He actually, back in the bad days of the Cold War, when we were
tightly constraining the number of Soviet citizens who might come here,
he actually studied at Columbia. And he studied under a professor who
taught him about pluralism.

And Yakovlev went back to the then-Soviet Union with an idea that pluralism could work.

And 20 years later, he was the adviser. So it took a while to realize that investment, but we realized that investment.

Prole Center 4 years ago ,

I called this out as a real possibility 2 years ago! I actually think that Gorbachev was just a naive fool and the real CIA agent was his top adviser, Yakovlev. Here is what I wrote back then:

". . . after extensive research by the Prole Center research team, it has come to light that Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachev's chief advisor on glasnost
and perestroika, was very likely a CIA penetration agent – an agent of influence. He could have been either a witting or unwitting asset of U.S. intelligence."

This information was included as part of a brief book review I did. Here is the link to the full article:

https://prolecenter.wordpre...

Jack Bluebird 4 years ago • edited ,

I still cannot believe how many naive people live today in Russia. There are STILL plenty of people who believe that gorbachev was just a "clumsy" person in charge of the "task too big to handle".

I would like to remind you that even after 2 "sudden" deaths of Soviet leaders ( Andropov and Chernenko ) before this traitor USSR was just in a period of economic stagnation and certainly not a deep recession. Several independent prominent western economists have also collaborated that.

What happened is just so obvious to me that it really cannot get any simpler.

Gorbachev was a very weak minded person who even wasnt a true believer in Soviet principles and even less so even less capable manager and organizer. He was a bureaucrat whos wife was terminally ill and who was just a simpleton who allowed himself to be seduced by the western propaganda and few full stores even though he obviously knew nothing of the background principles of how world economy functioned even then.

Apparently he was way out of his league when meeting with Reagan who was a smart brave and a cunning man I do have to admit that.
Gorbachev did what he only knew he could do. He betrayed the 70 years or hard work of Soviet people and building of different world because he thought that world will admire this moron and traitor if he arranges the collapse of USSR and the "end of the Cold War".

Of course there is another side of this coin.

What the actually did was "below the table" arrangement with the US that he would be able to send his wife to a treatment abroad if he made the USSR disappear and that he would be obviously well compensated for this evil deed. Even today he is being funded by the western government through his "charity funds" Green Cross and Gorbachev foundation.

This guy made the dissolution of USSR on purpose make no mistake about it. It was organized to make it seem as it happened "accidentally" and as a part of "democratic process" so less question would be asked. Apparently even that idiotic strategy worked which seems rather incredible for a country that provided so many smart people and was a leading chess nation for decades. Even Albania would be skeptical about it.

Of course there is a silver lining to this. He could not do this all by himself. He had powerful friends in KGB and army who helped him in his deeds. Why? Because they were greedy people who lost faith in CP. With the help of these people Gorbachev introduced extremely vile version of capitalism to the 300 000 000 people while he and his "comrades" extracted currency reserves from the sabotaged USSR and hid them in western banks and off shore companies.

To corroborate my point I will point out few facts:

1. only when gorbachev came to power Chernobyl catastrophe happened
2. he is the person who sent top Soviet military commanders AND THEIR WHOLE FAMILIES to move from East Germany to the PLAINS of Ukraine and live like dogs for months until their poor quality appartements were finished while being given nothing in exchange from Helmut Kohl but a "Danke schon". No sane 6 year old would do that and certainly not a reasonable and intelligent but honest Soviet leader.
3. He was the person who forced the Energia rocket with Polyus payload to be rushed beyond all reason and that is what caused its demised and failure to put first ever weapon system into orbit.
4. He allowed for the Berlin wall to fall like a brick overnight and did nothing to stop that
5. He DIRECTLY NEGLECTED results of referendum of Soviet people in 1991. who with 72% of votes wanted to preserve USSR
6. He arranged for NATO not to move eastward ORALLY WITHOUT ANY KIND OF AGREEMENT!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??! WHO DOES THIS!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!? BUAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA
7. He himself made the USSR formally and willingly the thing of past in the end of 1991.

No one sane can believe that USSR dissolved itself in the time when there was no war had a stable economy and strong army. This guy did it with the help of corrupt highly positioned KGB and military personnel and of course CIA who helped them to transfer 50 000 000 000 US dollars ( 1991. value ) out of USSR for their own benefit.

To conclude: Gorbachev is a person of poor intellect, no love for Soviet or Russian principles or state, but also a very sane traitor of USSR and Russia as well and also a member of masonic clan who sold it for his personal interest. Just because he was playing dumb doesnt mean he is not the biggest criminal in Soviet history. Make no mistake about it. Even the dumbest person in Russia cannot believe that all this factors fell in place "like chips". The probability for that is exactly 0 ( zero ).

FreeDilfin 4 years ago ,

Oh come on, this is not news. This was pretty evident. Initially he was not cooperating with CIA. But CIA offered him something he couldn't resists. Nobel peace price, enormous wealth, safe passage to US etc. Health care etc.

greensquare • 4 years ago ,

Wasn't Gorbachev from Russia's frontier lands (sometimes called Ukraine)? Not only that, but from a place which joined the Nazis in their atrocities? I've also heard he took big US money to step down. Bad source on that one though.

Veri1138 greensquare 4 years ago ,

Just look where Gorbachev set up his institute... The Presidio.

Yeltsin was a true puppet of The West.

Antonis Chatzoulis 2 years ago ,

My gut Feeling: he was a spy with inside support.

In the US a President like this would have been stopped (by a crazy loner?! :-)

So who helped the needle from inside?

Btw: after his career Gorby held well payed talks in the West as Obama, Clinton and the like.

william beeby 4 years ago ,

Gorby begat Yeltsin which was his ultimate sin .

musosnoop 4 years ago • edited ,

I disagree with this. Gorbachev had the right intentions. He just didn't bank on the treachery of the wests big biz and various vested interests. Both Gorby and Reagan were both honorable in their intentions and they did achieve much. To me it was Yeltsin who did the utmost damage to Russia making it look like a 3rd world anarchic country as he allowed Oligarchs to strip the countries assets.

MidnightDancer musosnoop 2 years ago ,

It's difficult for me to believe that Gorbachev was simply a naive fool. Anyone educated in Marxist theory know about the predatory nature of capitalism/imperialism. Anyone, particularly a Soviet politician, who'd been observing the behavior of the US after WW2 should have known that the Yanks are masters of treachery.

Andreas Seneca 4 years ago • edited ,

This same words could be written by Gorbachov ' if he had known what a dreadful fate awaited the USSR, he would not have written a single critical book or article about it." , I think Alexander Zinoviev also worked and even work for the CIA after his dead publishing his books.

Otto Tomasch 4 years ago • edited ,

To me, Gorbachev is no traitor. He is a Russian patriot who honestly wanted to improve Soviet Communism and adapt it to his time. Was he naïve? Yes, very much so. After all, he started the stones rolling and should have known what could happen if other people got their hands on them. He probably knew that if one takes one single stone from the monolithic structure of communism the whole structure would collapse. So he just tried to embellish some of the corner stones of communism without pulling them entirely out from its structure, and called this 'perestroika' and 'glasnost'. Other people in his government, oblivious of the danger of completely pulling corner stones from its structure, didn't think embellishing stones in-situ was enough, and pulled them completely from the structure, with the intend to put them back once the dust that had settled on them over time had been thoroughly scratched off, with a wire brush. But by doing so the corner stones changed their form and didn't fit anymore into the places they had been taken from, communism. Thus, the Primal Sin was committed, and Soviet Communism collapsed. And so did Roman Catholicism in Europe for similar reasons.

Jack Bluebird Otto Tomasch 4 years ago ,

Wrong. He had a lot of collaborators much of them are tycoons today.

Sinbad2 4 years ago ,

Look at the picture, Gorbachev is smiling, but his arms are crossed. He is rejecting everything the halfwit President is saying.

Jack Bluebird Sinbad2 4 years ago ,

Reagan was a nuclear physicist when compared to this corrupt and dumb traitor.

[Nov 29, 2019] Russian MPs say Mikhail Gorbachev should be prosecuted for treason

Notable quotes:
"... Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist party deputy, said recent events and the Ukraine crisis in particular have led five MPs, including two from the ruling United Russia party, to ask the prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to examine Gorbachev, 83. ..."
"... "The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen," said Nikitchuk. ..."
The Guardian

A group of Russian MPs have formally requested prosecutors to investigate former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for treason over the breakup of the Soviet Union, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist party deputy, said recent events and the Ukraine crisis in particular have led five MPs, including two from the ruling United Russia party, to ask the prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to examine Gorbachev, 83.

"We asked to prosecute him and those who helped him destroy the Soviet Union for treason of national interests," said Nikitchuk, adding that Soviet citizens in 1991 were against the country's breakup.

Seeking to create a more open and prosperous Soviet Union through glasnost and perestroika, Gorbachev ended up unleashing forces that swept away the country he had sought to preserve and himself from power.

"The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen," said Nikitchuk.

He added that this included not only Ukraine but other former Soviet countries over the past two decades.

In February, a popular pro-Western uprising in Ukraine ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who has since taken refuge in Russia .

The Kremlin responded by sending troops to Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea and annexing it as part of Russia last month.

"What is happening in Ukraine can happen in Russia, too," said Nikitchuk. "This pushed us to write to the prosecutor general, so that professional lawyers rather than historians can investigate the events of 1991."

He added that lawmakers were also concerned about internal enemies stirring unrest.

"The fifth column in our country has been formed and works in the open, funded by foreign money," he said.

In a landmark speech marking Russia's takeover of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin called Russians disagreeing with his policies, such as his decision to occupy Crimea, a fifth column.

There have been previous attempts by the Communist party to have Gorbachev prosecuted but these have led nowhere.

Nikitchuk said he hoped that the current political climate makes for a more favourable moment and that prosecutors would launch the investigation this time.

Unlike the previous cases, the current request is backed by lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia.

Gorbachev said the lawmakers' initiative was "poorly thought out and groundless from a historical point of view".

"Such calls only show that some lawmakers want publicity," he told the Interfax news agency. A spokeswoman at the prosecutor's office declined to comment.

The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist in December 1991 after Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed the Belavezha accords dissolving the USSR. Gorbachev resigned two weeks later.

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev the Traitor by Boris Kagarlitsky

Nov 29, 2019 | www.themoscowtimes.com

The Soviet Union did not disappear because of a great flood or a major earthquake. Somebody was at the helm making decisions and setting a political course. Politicians should be responsible for their actions. But do politicians alone bear responsibility?

In fact, Gorbachev's problem is inseparably linked with the unstated problem of the low self-esteem and rationalization of the millions of people who lived through the drama of 1991. Some justify Gorbachev's actions in an attempt to justify their own complicity in events. For the same reasons, others try to shift blame from themselves by holding Gorbachev solely responsible. "He ruined everything," they say. "We are not to blame."

Unfortunately, the Soviet people bear responsibility for what happened to their country. That does not lift responsibility from any one individual, even if that person was part of the leadership -- those whom we naturally call on the carpet first for anything that happens. We the people are to blame for not mounting any resistance to that course of action, or at least for not fighting it hard enough.

In truth, the only people with the moral right to criticize Gorbachev today are the ones who had the courage in the 1980s and 1990s to point out how destructive his policies were, to go against the flow, and to condemn the path followed not only by Gorbachev, but also by his main political rival, former President Boris Yeltsin.

Gorbachev's rule contrasts favorably with the leaders who came both before and after him, and he is not remembered for having committed any particularly egregious wrongdoings. According to that thinking, Gorbachev did not "destroy" the Soviet Union, he "only" betrayed the country he led.

Gorbachev took office with a pledge to serve and defend the state. He cannot be blamed for the fact that a catastrophe that had been brewing for two decades erupted during his reign. But as the captain, he was obligated to "go down with the ship" and share the same political fate as the country he governed. The problem is not that Gorbachev could have prevented the collapse and didn't -- he couldn't have under any circumstances -- but that when the troubles came, he snuck away from the battlefield and went home to have dinner.

The people might sometimes excuse or even justify the deeds of malefactors, but it never forgives a traitor.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

[Nov 29, 2019] Could Mikhail Gorbachev Have Saved the Soviet Union?

Nov 29, 2019 | foreignpolicy.com

But by his death in 1997, Deng's decision appeared vindicated, as world opinion had turned decisively in his favor. Deng had seen enough of Russia's tumultuous politics to know where he stood: sacrifice political liberalization for stability's sake, because the alternative was chaos and collapse. Chinese analysts of Soviet politics continue to fault Gorbachev for abandoning central planning too rapidly and in a disorganized fashion. Rather than liberalizing politics, they argue, Gorbachev should have focused on the economy.

Today, top Chinese leaders cite the Soviet Union as an example of why China's Communist Party must keep its fist clenched on power, even as it casts off the last remaining vestiges of the Maoist economy. Jiang Zemin, who succeeded Deng as China's leader, argued in 1990 that the Soviet Union's main problem was that Gorbachev was a traitor like Leon Trotsky, the Soviet revolutionary who was found guilty of betraying Marxism-Leninism by then-leader Joseph Stalin.

That was an ironic charge coming from the official who first formally welcomed China's business classes into the supposedly communist ruling party. Yet in December 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping echoed this analysis. "Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate?" he asked a group of Communist Party members. "Their ideals and convictions wavered," he explained. "Finally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone." Yet it is Deng's logic that has come to dominate most interpretations of the Soviet Union's collapse. "My father," reported Deng's youngest son, "thinks Gorbachev is an idiot."

In Russia, many agree. Russians regularly rate Gorbachev as one of their worst leaders of the 20th century. A 2013 poll found that only 22 percent of Russians perceive Gorbachev positively or slightly positively, while 66 percent have a negative impression. By contrast, Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over two decades of stagnation, is viewed positively by 56 percent of Russians. Even Stalin, who managed a murderous reign of terror, gets positive marks from half of Russians. It is not surprising, then, that Deng's reputation in Russia has risen. Many Russians see China as a model of what their country should have done during the 1980s and 1990s. Liberal politics cause chaos and economic distress, many Russians have concluded, and only a strong hand can deliver economic growth.

... ... ...

... Deng managed to compromise with other elites, letting them retain their authority in exchange for their support in pursuing economic reforms that allowed China to grow. But in the Soviet Union, economic reform meant destroying the power base of the special interest groups, leaving a potential military coup lurking in the background and hanging over Gorbachev's head. That was a threat Deng never faced.

The reason why Gorbachev lost out is not because the Soviet economy was unreformable. China's example proved that the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy was possible. Rather, the Soviet Union collapsed because vast political power was entrusted to groups that had every reason to sabotage the efforts to resolve the country's decades-long financial dilemmas.

In the end, the political clout of these interest groups proved far greater than Gorbachev anticipated. In his quest to reform his country and steer it away from calamity, Gorbachev brought about the very process that would eventually lead to the Soviet Union's collapse.

This article is adapted from Chris Miller's new book, The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR .

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR - DebateWise

Nov 29, 2019 | debatewise.org

Perestroika put the final nails in the USSR's economy One of the first main policies Gorbachev adopted was Perestroika – reform of the economy. Hoarding and reciprocal favours (blat) had been a means of survival in the Soviet Union, thieving to 'moonlight' was also common and this cost the regime a lot. The 'command-administrative' system had become obsolete in the Post-Industrial era and was curtailing economic development 1. To solve this, Gorbachev wanted to give enterprise managers control over contracts and introduce aspects of the market economy, to make it managers' responsibility to gain contracts and to make sure the enterprise makes a profit. However, in practice the way the enterprises operated remained unchanged except in terms – ministries rephrased their commands as contracts 2. Private enterprise was also permitted, which seemed to contradict Gorbachev's claim to be committed to Marxist-Leninist thought which was vehemently opposed to capitalism which Marxist's argue exploit the proleteriat – so to actually create a class of capitalists who (according to Marxist doctrine) would exploit the workers who were supposed to be living in socialist – i.e. 'classless society' seemed contradictory to the very ideological concept the regime's power was based upon. A small amount of private enterprise emerged, but the profiteering was very much resented by the general population – goods and services were sold for four or five times their subsidized price due to shortages. Another aspect of Perestroika was entry into the market economy – many of the social benefits given by the enterprises had to be done away with, as they could not make a profit and afford to maintain the benefits, resulting in a stagnant economy occuring simultaneously with a collapsing social welfare system. Gorbachev's reforms did not work and only succeeded in hastening the economic collapse that was inevitable.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because... Glasnost facilitated Opposition to Concentrate against the Regime Allowing freedom of thought from the 'mono-ideological controls' that existed for decades and allowing pluralist thought and leadership meant a weakening of power for the Communist Party – it had to convert into a proper parliamentary party to survive. Furthermore, in a regime based on oppression and propaganda, when these are removed and freedom of speech and freedom of the media are introduced, nasty elements about the system in the past are going to be revealed, and when there is 70 years of repression being reported all at once, it is inevitable there will be extreme hostility toward those responsible – the Party 1, this especially fuelled the anger of the nationalities who had been oppressed and triggered a nationalist movement.

The population were dissatisfied with the dire state of affairs and could voice their discontent openly with glasnost, which led to Gorbachev becoming very unpopular by 1991, in which year the economy had contracted by 18% 2, people were also very concerned over the incompetence of the command-administrative system and irresponsibility of the leadership with regards to the 1986 Chernobyl power station disaster 3.

In a state committed to one ideology, the removal of mono-ideological controls, and the ability of other ideological persuasions to come to power meant the Party had lost its RIGHT to govern the people unless the people themselves WANTED the Party to rule. Thus, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had to win the support of the people in order to govern effectively. However, in a society that was becoming increasingly liberal and 'bourgeois' (the USSR was largely middle class, private property was protected and capitalism was legalised), the people had to believe in socialist ideology – which would have been almost impossible to achieve.

Gorbachev's reforms themselves undermined some of the principle features of socialist rule in the USSR, e.g. atheism, mono-ideological control, one-party state, economic monopoly and the suspendability of law. Gorbachev's ideology itself – his focus on 'all-human values' instead of the class struggle, the rule of law, international peace and proper parliamentary representation have more resonance with John Stuart Mill than Karl Marx 4 – Gorbachev was subconsciously moving the USSR in this ideological direction.

With democratization and pluralist thought permitted, Gorbachev found himself operating within an increasingly wide political spectrum – with the reformist 'democrats' on one side and the conservative Communist Party members on the other. There was a constant power struggle between the two and Gorbachev dealt with this by constantly playing one side against the other and compromising. One of Gorbachev's critics at the time said this was like trying to marry a hare to a hedgehog. The two sides were very much irreconcilable and instead of trying to defeat one side, Gorbachev sat on the fence and as a result his policies were constantly inconsistent – you cannot mix radical reforms with conservatism 5. The dangers of this were apparent when Shevardnadze, Foreign Minister at the time, resigned because he warned a dictatorship was approaching, Gorbachev ignored this threat and dismissed this claim with overconfidence 6.

1 Kagarlitsky, B. Russia under Yeltsin and Putin: neo-liberal autocracy, London: Pluto 2002

2 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

3 Haynes, M., Russia: Class and Power, 1917-2000, London: Bookmarks 2002

4 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

5 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991

6 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991 No because... Regional Nationalism and Independence Movements These original flaws in the system were largely responsible for its own downfall – in particular the nationalities issue – the decision to maintain the Empire without granting real power to the nationalities whilst simultaneously repressing them left most of the nationalities feeling bitter when glasnost revealed the truth about how they had been treated in the past and democratisation gave them the power to chose representatives who would really represent people's interests (the nationalist movement) whilst at the same time being given by Gorbachev an appetite for power – a fatal combination.

The wealthier regions wanted a separation from the USSR because of the feeling they were being milked from the centre and many other regions wanted to become independent because they did not want to be part of an economic disaster area which became apparent when the Donbass miners who had no commitment to nationalism thought their future would be safer if the Ukraine wasn't part of the USSR 1.

The nationalist movement emerged when freedom of speech, media and association along with democratisation and the loss of fear of repression allowed people to voice pride in their nation and resentment at past repressions as well as the ongoing special treatment of Russians in the Regions, who had access to better housing and other special privileges the locals did not.

Certain Republics felt nationalism more strongly than others, most notably the Baltic States who felt a strong cultural attachment to the West and felt they were being unfairly occupied. Gorbachev's mistake here was to downplay the importance of nationalism and not treat the Baltic States as a special case 2. After all, most of the population of the USSR wished to preserve the Union – 76% voted to preserve the Union in March 1991 (except the Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia who did not conduct the referendum) 3. After the failed coup, most states declared their independence, even if they did so with reluctance, as there was a general feeling there was no alternative. Gorbachev tried to persuade the Republics not to become fully independent. However, in early December, the Ukraine held a referendum where the population voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, even after Gorbachev stated "there can be no Union without Ukraine", on 8th December, Yeltsin met with the Ukrainian and Bielorussian leader and declared a formal end to the USSR and the establishment of the Confederation of Independent States which they invited the other states to join.

There was nothing left Gorbachev could do, democratisation had brought about the means for independence and Gorbachev didn't feel he could argue with people's wishes carried out through democratic means and, on 25th December he resigned with regret.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996

3 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996 Yeltsin Factor Boris Yeltsin emerged as the true hero and strong leader for the fearlessness to condemn the coup – in a press conference afterwards Yeltsin ordered Gorbachev around undermining his position, then used his institutional powers derived from democratization to appoint Egor Gaidar, an economist dedicated to laissez-faire economics, as his Finance Minister and suspension of the CPSU pending an investigation into the coup. Gorbachev half heartedly argued against this but it was no use – he was seen as a weaker leader along with discontent over his policies, whilst Yeltsin's radicalism was keeping pace with developments and his popularity at an all-time high, Gorbachev's position was also much less weaker without the Communist Party. Also, the Soviet Union really could not exist without the Communist Party arguably as they had political and economic monopoly on society and the Communist Party went from controlling these aspects of society to ceasing to exist, the Soviet Union could not function and the economy spiralled out of control. Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... August 1991 Coup Counter Productive, Bringing About What It Sought To Prevent - The End of the Soviet Union By August 1991 Gorbachev's popularity was at an all-time low both in the Party and outside it. Despite being advised by some of his staff to sign the Treaty agreement granting the republics real autonomy before going on holiday and some suspicious circumstances he should have been more questioning about, he planned on signing the agreement when he returned. This was a big mistake and allowed the conservatives to stage a coup. The Emergency Committee made no reference whatsoever to Marxism-Leninism or the class struggle in their speech, meaning it was a coup in the hope of returning the Soviet Union to 'normal' i.e. an Empire controlled from Moscow and putting the final nails in the coffin of socialism in the USSR 1.

The failed coup triggered the very thing it sought to prevent – the break-up of the Soviet Union 2.

1 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... The System Needed to Change in Order to Survive in the Longer Term; That Mikhail Gorbachev's Reforms Failed Showed that the USSR Could Not be Saved By the Gorbachev era, all hopes of fulfilling the original Marxist-Leninist dream were gone and most did not feel passionately about communism, even within the Party. There was a general acknowledgement that the USSR could not continue in the same way as before – Andropov, Gorbachev's predecessor also realised this and set about changing society through repressive measures such as harsh labour discipline enforced by cutting payments from workers for work deemed poor quality and restrictions on the sale of alcohol and prohibition of alcohol on official occasions was felt overly repressive and for many – Gorbachev was seen as a positive, energetic leader who would overcome the USSR's problems in a less repressive manner. With economic stagnation and an economy dependent on the exportation of natural resources to survive 1, an unsuccessful war (Afghanistan) and an ageing Party Membership to combat, Gorbachev was the candidate for those who wanted change or at least realised change could no longer be postponed 2.

Autocracies survive due to repressing their people to the extent that they are not given the freedoms required to change their government, rather than because the people want them to stay in power. Mikhail Gorbachev's conscience and sense of responsibility for his population dictated that the system could no longer be propped up like this, and that the people needed and deserved the freedoms and basic human rights they had been denied for decades. That the system could not encorporate such freedoms meant that the system morally should not be allowed to perpetuate itself, and thus the Soviet Union fell apart because it was unrepresentative and did not support the population's human rights means the fall of the USSR should be applauded, not mourned for its' population.

1 Volkogonov, D.A. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire: political leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, edited and translated by M. Shukman, London: HarperCollins 1998

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... War with Afghanistan Drained USSR of Patriotic Morale The war in Afghanistan was a key contributing factor to the breakup of the USSR. Reuveny and Prakash argue that the Soviet-Afghan war contributed to undermining the Soviet Union in many ways. First, it discredited the Red Army, and impacted negatively upon the image of the Red Army as a strong, almost invincible force, which gave nationalist movements in the Republics hope that they might succeed in attaining independence after all. Second, it impacted upon leadership perception on the usefulness of utilising the military to keep the union intact and as a force for foreign intervention. Third, it created new forms of political participation, which had begun to impact upon media reporting even before glasnost, and began the first calls for glasnost, as it created a number of war veterans, who went on to form organisations which weakened the total authority of the CPSU 1.

1 Reuveny, Rafael, and Prakash, Aseem, 'The Afghanistan War and the Breakdown of the Soviet Union', Review of International Studies (1999), 25:693-708 Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... It was dead from the time Stalin took control Gorbachev finished it off, but Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev etc. really killed it. Lenin had nothing to do with that, he was a socialist-marxist, not a communist. You obviously don't know the difference. Learn it before you blindly yell your opinion into the dark of the internet.

[Nov 29, 2019] Was Mikhail Gorbachev an incompetent leader or a stooge of the West - Quora

Nov 29, 2019 | www.quora.com

Joe Venetos , history, European Union and politics, int'l relations Answered Aug 22 2017 · Author has 485 answers and 325k answer views

Neither.

The USSR as it was was not sustainable, and the writing was all over the wall.

The reason it wasn't sustainable, however, is widely misunderstood.

The Soviet Union could have switched to a market or hybrid economy and still remained a unified state. However, it was made up of 15 very different essentially nation-states from Estonia to Uzbekistan, and separatist movements were tearing the Union apart.

Unlike other multi-national European empires that met their day earlier in the 20th century, such as the British, French, Portuguese, Austro-Hungarian, or Ottoman Empires, the Russian Empi...

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Neither.

The USSR as it was was not sustainable, and the writing was all over the wall.

The reason it wasn't sustainable, however, is widely misunderstood.

The Soviet Union could have switched to a market or hybrid economy and still remained a unified state. However, it was made up of 15 very different essentially nation-states from Estonia to Uzbekistan, and separatist movements were tearing the Union apart.

Unlike other multi-national European empires that met their day earlier in the 20th century, such as the British, French, Portuguese, Austro-Hungarian, or Ottoman Empires, the Russian Empire never had the chance to disband; the can was simply kicked down the road by the Bolshevik revolution and the Soviet era. Restrictions on free speech and press, followed by a gradual economic downturn that began in the 1970s, brewed anti-Union and separatist sentiments among sizeable sections of society. It's important to note, however, that not everyone wanted the disband the USSR, and not everyone in the Russian republic wanted to keep it together (the Central Asian states were the most reluctant to secede). There was, actually, a referendum on whether or not to keep the Union together, and a slight majority voted in favor (something Gorbachev points out to this day), but the vote was also boycotted by quite a few people, especially in the Baltic republics. So, we know that the citizens had mixed feelings and the reasons for the USSR's end were far more complex than just "communism failed".

By the summer of 1991, there was nothing Gorbachev could do. The hardliners saw him as incompetent to save the Union, but too many citizens and military personnel had defected to the politicians of the constituent republics (rather than the Union's leadership), including Russia itself, that were increasingly pursuing their independence since the first multiparty elections across the Union in 1989. By December 1991, Union-level political bodies agreed to disband. So, Gorbachev had no choice but to admit that the USSR no longer existed.

Gorbachev could have ruled with an iron fist, and he could have done so from the 1985 without ever implementing glasnost and perestroika, but that could have been a disaster. We don't really know, actually, but in my opinion, an oligarchy -which is what the USSR was in its later years, not an authoritarian state like it was under Stalin- still needs some level of public consent to continue governing, like China (which is also a diverse society, but far more homogenous than the USSR was). If you have all this economic and separatist malaise brewing, it's not going to work out.

In the long run, Russia is much better off. They now have a state where ethnic Russians make up 80% of the population (a good balance), from what was, I think 50% in the USSR.

While some Russians regret that the USSR ended, others don't care or were ready to call themselves "Russian" rather than "Soviet". It's no different to French public opinion turning against the Algerian war in the 1960s and supporting Algerian independence, or British public opinion starting to support the independence of India yet some people from those countries, may look back fondly. Also, Russia went through a tough economic period in the 1990s, which strengthened Soviet nostalgia, understandably, thinking back to a time when the state guaranteed everyone with housing and a job. While some sentiments still exist today in the Russian Federation that may appear pro-Soviet, it's important to point out that that doesn't necessarily mean these folks would like to recreate the Soviet Union as it was . Many just simply miss the heaftier influence the USSR had, versus what they perceive to be weakness or disrespect for Russia today. The communist party today gets few votes in Russian elections; and many Russians now were not adults prior to 1991, and thus don't quite remember the era too well; many others may be old enough to remember the economic downturn of the 80s, and not the economic good times of the 60s.

One final point, regarding Gorbachev being a "stooge of the West": that gives far too much credit to America under Reagan for taking down the USSR. The "West" had nothing to do with it. In the longer run, as we may be seeing slowly unravel since the Bush Jr administration, America pretty much screwed itself with the massive military spending that started in the 80s and continues upward, with supporting the mujahedeen to lure the USSR into Afghanistan in 1979 (a war that lasted until 1989), with opposing any secular regime in the Middle East friendly to Moscow in the 70s and 80s, and so on we all know how these events started playing out for the US much later, from 9/11 to the current Trump mess.

[Nov 15, 2019] Now the US and the CIA had long ago figured that if the integrity of party could be disintegrated the USSR would collapse. And so it did.

Nov 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Nov 15 2019 16:54 utc | 168

@ Posted by: c1ue | Nov 15 2019 16:39 utc | 166

From Luciana Bohne , apud Pepe Escobar's Facebook page:

At the 19th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi (31 October 2019) reiterated the imperative of "Upholding the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC."

Why does Xi insist on this point as #1 item on the party's agenda of items?

Let's make a comparison. In 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin as a "dictator" and of using the party as a sort of church for the worship of his own "personality cult." This was nonsense of course and Mao said so formally in 1963, but it was music to the ears of the capitalist powers, in the lead the US .

Kruscev then decided to liberalize the "Stalinist party"--which was more music to the ears of the capitalist "Free West." He said, since the class struggle in in the USSR was over, there were no class enemies, and everyone could join the party. Opportunist did; corrupt greedy people did, until at last in 1989 it was top heavy with members of the shadow economy--managers of factories, mines, industries of all sorts who had over 3 decades accumulated undeclared private wealth from leeching from the the public wealth. The party had become a club of "entrepreneurs" (thieves) whose best bet for investments of their ill-gotten accumulation of wealth was the restoration of capitalism.

There was much more damage to the party than I can synthesize in a post, but this small bit will do. The party was infiltrated by opportunists of the worst greed. And its integrity, authority, ability to plan the economy according to scientific Marxist Lenininst wisdom and principles died.

Now the US and the Cia had long ago figured that if the integrity of party could be disintegrated the USSR would collapse. And so it did.

The CPC has no intention of China collapsing and falling once again into the avid hands of Western imperialism, which wages capitalist.imperialist class war on China. So, China would never dream of declaring the class struggle over for China.

Its constitution states that China will remain a class society for a long time. Not only because it depends for the creation of wealth on a loyal national, anti-imperialist bourgeoisie but also because China is threatened by imperialism, which is also a class war Khrushchev ignored, calling for "peaceful coexistence" with imperialism, since both USSR and the imperialists supposedly shared the goal of peace under the nuclear cloud.

The man was a scoundrel and destroyed the power of the Communist Party, paving the way to the restoration of capitalism.

This is the difference between the Soviet Union post-1956 and China. Mao was not cleansed out of the party and consigned to the lower depths of Hell like Stalin. Whatever his mistakes, he was treated as a comrade not an enemy, his contribution acknowledged, his deficits also--unlike Stalin. Furthermore, his revolutionary contribution to the founding and survival of the People's Republic of China was enshrined in the party's memory. His picture is on the currency. He is loved and respected. The party was not stressed, purged, or divided by making Mao an issue of allegiance.

Finally, by recognizing the contribution of the loyal bourgeoisie to a self-sufficient, independent China, the CPC acknowledges that China is still a class society. No second economy, operating in the shadow for China. The private sector exists and is regulated (and lately bought up gradually by the state). No chance for a clutch of opportunists to accumulate more combined wealth than the state's and so able to take over the state and exact regime change.

This is why Xi specifically demands and requires a strong, centralized, integral, and uncorrupt Communist party. The party is the insurance for the persistence of the path to socialism and eventually communism for China. No party, no sovereign, imperialism-free China

And in this determination of making the CPC the pillar of China's social and economic progress for all the people, Xi is acting as a Leninist. The party is for the people and the people for the party. They are one. Without a revolutionary party and a revolutionary theory (in China "scientific and Marxist) the revolution would die. A it did in the Soviet Union, starting with the Kruscev gambit.

This for the West is "authoritarianism," though the West is ruled by a clutch of authoritarian economic elites who make all the decisions in their own interests. But they call tit "democracy." At least in China, if anything, it's an "authoritarianism" for and by the people--a bit closer to democracy, I should argue.

[Nov 13, 2019] Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev Reveals Who Was Responsible for Country's Collapse

Nov 13, 2019 | sputniknews.com

I understand some worries he had over the existing system, but goddamn Gorbachev is an intellectual midget!

But maybe he's a sign of Soviet imbecilization. Maybe the USSR's degeneration was indeed inevitable.

I just weep for the world's socialists, who had to pay for the end of bipolarity.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2019 19:38 utc | 20

[Nov 09, 2019] Post-Cold War Triumphalism and Kennan's Warning by Daniel Larison

Nov 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Andrew Bacevich describes how the U.S. learned all the wrong lessons from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War:

You won't hear it from any of the candidates vying to succeed Trump, but we are still haunted by our false conception of the Cold War. On the stump, politicians get away with reciting comforting clichés about the imperative of American global leadership. Yet the time for believing such malarkey is long gone.

An essential first step toward recoupling national security policy and reason is to see the Cold War for what it was: not a "long, twilight struggle" ending in victory, but a vast and costly tragedy that inflicted needless suffering, brought humankind absurdly close to extinction, and from which U.S. policymakers have drawn all the wrong lessons.

The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall offers an occasion not for celebration but for somber and long overdue reflection.

One of the wrong lessons that U.S. policymakers drew from the events of 1989-1991 was that the U.S. was chiefly responsible for ending and "winning" the Cold War, which inevitably overestimated our government's capabilities and effectiveness in affecting the political fortunes of other parts of the world. The far more critical and important role of the peoples of central and eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself in overthrowing the system that had oppressed them was pushed into the background as much as possible. The U.S. took credit for their success and policymakers frequently attributed the outcome to the policies of the late Cold War rather than to the deficiencies and failings of the other system. After waging stalemated and failed wars in the name of anticommunism, U.S. policymakers wanted to be able to claim that they had "won" something, and so they declared victory for something that they hadn't caused.

The period that followed the dissolution of the USSR was one of triumphalism, expansion, and overreach. The U.S. not only congratulated itself for achieving something that was accomplished by others, but it also assumed that it could achieve similar results in other parts of the world. If NATO had been a great success as a defensive alliance, the "thinking" went, why shouldn't it continue and expand to include many more countries? If the U.S. was supposedly able to bring down the Soviet Union, why shouldn't it do the same to authoritarian regimes elsewhere? Absent the check on ambition and hubris that a superpower rival provided, the U.S. was free to run amok and do whatever it liked without regard for the consequences. That triumphalism sowed the seeds for many of the more significant post-Cold War failures that we have witnessed since then. Even today, that same overconfidence encourages U.S. policymakers to flirt with the idea of engaging in another Cold War-style rivalry with a more formidable state in China.

George Kennan presciently warned against the triumphalism that he saw around him as early as 1992. At that time, he was responding directly to the claims from Republicans that Reagan and his policies had "won" the Cold War:

The suggestion that any American administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic-political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is intrinsically silly and childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.

Kennan went on to say that the militarization of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War was a boon to Soviet hard-liners and in that way helped prolong it:

The extreme militarization of American discussion and policy, as promoted by hard-line circles over the ensuing 25 years, consistently strengthened comparable hard-liners in the Soviet Union.

The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's.

Whenever hawks talk about "winning" the Cold War, they invariably mean that it was the militarized policies they favored that carried the day, but Kennan reminded us that this was not so. In fact, a militarized foreign policy perpetuated the struggle by providing Soviet hard-liners with a plausible foreign threat that they could use to justify their own policies and to clamp down on internal dissent. We have seen the same thing repeated several times in the last thirty years on a smaller scale with other governments. The most aggressive and confrontational policies unwittingly aid authoritarian regimes by giving them an external enemy that they can use to deflect attention from their own failings and as a pretext for the consolidation of power at home.

Kennan was already telling us shortly after the Cold War ended that no one had "won" it:

Nobody -- no country, no party, no person -- "won" the cold war. It was a long and costly political rivalry, fueled on both sides by unreal and exaggerated estimates of the intentions and strength of the other party [bold mine-DL]. It greatly overstrained the economic resources of both countries, leaving both, by the end of the 1980's, confronted with heavy financial, social and, in the case of the Russians, political problems that neither had anticipated and for which neither was fully prepared.

We can all be grateful that the Cold War ended, but we shouldn't delude ourselves with talk of victory. Not only is it inaccurate, but it encourages the worst kinds of overreach and arrogance that has led to several serious foreign policy failures in the decades that have followed. Kennan warned us almost thirty years ago not to go down this path of triumphalism, and as so often happened Americans ignored Kennan's wisdom.

Kennan concluded with the same idea that Bacevich stated at the end of his op-ed:

That the conflict should now be formally ended is a fit occasion for satisfaction but also for sober re-examination of the part we took in its origin and long continuation. It is not a fit occasion for pretending that the end of it was a great triumph for anyone, and particularly not one for which any American political party could properly claim principal credit.

American policymakers are not known for sober re-examination and acknowledgment of error, but these are exactly the things that are needed if we are to stop making the same blunders and learning the wrong lessons from the past. Kennan and Bacevich's advice is just as timely and important today as it was twenty-seven years ago. Perhaps this time we should pay attention and listen to it.

[Oct 29, 2019] Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace

Notable quotes:
"... The brother of the current Chilean president, scions of one of the richest families in Chile, became famous for introducing, as Minister of Labor and Social Security under Pinochet, a funded system of pensions where employees make compulsory contributions from their wages into one of several pension funds, and after retirement receive pensions based on investment performance of such funds. Old-age pensions thus became a part of roulette capitalism. But In the process, the pension funds, charging often exorbitant fees, and their managers became rich. ..."
"... José Piñera had tried to "sell" this model to Yeltsin's Russia and to George Bush's United States, but, despite the strong (and quite understandable) support of the financial communities in both countries, he failed. Nowadays, most Chilean pensioners receive $200-$300 per month in a country whose price level (according to International Comparison Project, a worldwide UN- and World Bank-led project to compare price levels around the world) is about 80% of that of the United States. ..."
"... the combined wealth of Chilean billionaires' (there were twelve of them) was equal to 25% of Chilean GDP. The next Latin American countries with highest wealth concentrations are Mexico and Peru where the wealth share of billionaires is about half (13 percent of GDP) of Chile's. But even better: Chile is the country where billionaires' share, in terms of GDP, is the highest in the world (if we exclude countries like Lebanon and Cyprus) where many foreign billionaires simply "park" their wealth for tax reasons. The wealth of Chile's billionaires, compared to their country's GDP, exceeds even that of Russians. [Graph] ..."
"... Such extraordinary inequality of wealth and income, combined with full marketization of many social services (water, electricity etc.), and pensions that depend on the vagaries of the stock market has long been "hidden" from foreign observers by Chile's success in raising its GDP per capita. ..."
"... if there Is no social justice and minimum of social cohesion, the effects of growth will dissolve in grief, demonstrations, and yes, in the shooting of people. ..."
Oct 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne

, October 26, 2019 at 01:42 PM
https://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/10/chile-poster-boy-of-neoliberalism-who.html

October 26, 2019

Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace

It is not common for an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development county to shoot and kill 16 people in two days of socially motivated riots. (Perhaps only Turkey, in its unending wars against the Kurdish guerrilla, comes close to that level of violence.) This is however what Chilean government, the poster child of neoliberalism and transition to democracy, did last week in the beginning of protests that do not show the signs of subsiding despite cosmetic reforms proposed by President Sebastian Piñera.

The fall from grace of Chile is symptomatic of worldwide trends that reveal the damages causes by neoliberal policies over the past thirty years, from privatizations in Eastern Europe and Russia to the global financial crisis to the Euro-related austerity. Chile was held, not the least thanks to favorable press that it enjoyed, as a exemplar of success. Harsh policies introduced after the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973, and the murderous spree that ensued afterwards, have been softened by the transition to democracy but their essential features were preserved. Chile indeed had a remarkably good record of growth, and while in the 1960-70s it was in the middle of the Latin American league by GDP per capita, it is now the richest Latin American country. It was of course helped too by high prices for its main export commodity, copper, but the success in growth is incontestable. Chile was "rewarded" by the membership in the OECD, a club of the rich nations, the first South American country to accede to it.

Where the country failed is in its social policies which somewhat bizarrely were considered by many to have been successful too. In the 1980s-90s, the World Bank hailed Chilean "flexible" labor policies which consisted of breaking up the unions and imposing a model of branch-level negotiations between employers and workers rather than allowing an overall umbrella union organization to negotiate for all workers. It was even more bizarrely used by the World Bank as a model of transparency and good governance, something that the transition countries in Eastern Europe should have presumably copied from Chile. The brother of the current Chilean president, scions of one of the richest families in Chile, became famous for introducing, as Minister of Labor and Social Security under Pinochet, a funded system of pensions where employees make compulsory contributions from their wages into one of several pension funds, and after retirement receive pensions based on investment performance of such funds. Old-age pensions thus became a part of roulette capitalism. But In the process, the pension funds, charging often exorbitant fees, and their managers became rich.

José Piñera had tried to "sell" this model to Yeltsin's Russia and to George Bush's United States, but, despite the strong (and quite understandable) support of the financial communities in both countries, he failed. Nowadays, most Chilean pensioners receive $200-$300 per month in a country whose price level (according to International Comparison Project, a worldwide UN- and World Bank-led project to compare price levels around the world) is about 80% of that of the United States.

While Chile leads Latin America in GDP per capita, it also leads it terms of inequality. In 2015, its level of income inequality was higher than in any other Latin American country except for Colombia and Honduras. It exceeded even Brazil's proverbially high inequality. The bottom 5% of the Chilean population have an income level that is about the same as that of the bottom 5% in Mongolia. The top 2% enjoy the income level equivalent to that of the top 2% in Germany. Dortmund and poor suburbs of Ulan Bataar were thus brought together.

Chilean income distribution is extremely unequal. But even more so is its wealth distribution. There, Chile is an outlier even compared to the rest of Latin America. According to the Forbes' 2014 data on world billionaires, the combined wealth of Chilean billionaires' (there were twelve of them) was equal to 25% of Chilean GDP. The next Latin American countries with highest wealth concentrations are Mexico and Peru where the wealth share of billionaires is about half (13 percent of GDP) of Chile's. But even better: Chile is the country where billionaires' share, in terms of GDP, is the highest in the world (if we exclude countries like Lebanon and Cyprus) where many foreign billionaires simply "park" their wealth for tax reasons. The wealth of Chile's billionaires, compared to their country's GDP, exceeds even that of Russians.
[Graph]

Such extraordinary inequality of wealth and income, combined with full marketization of many social services (water, electricity etc.), and pensions that depend on the vagaries of the stock market has long been "hidden" from foreign observers by Chile's success in raising its GDP per capita.

But the recent protests show that the latter is not enough. Growth is indispensable for economic success and reduction in poverty. But it is not enough: if there Is no social justice and minimum of social cohesion, the effects of growth will dissolve in grief, demonstrations, and yes, in the shooting of people.

-- Branko Milanovic

[Sep 22, 2019] It was neoliberalism that won the cold war

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As for the USSR, the Soviet elite changed sides. I think Putin once said that Soviet system was "unviable" to begin with. And that's pretty precise diagnosis: as soon as the theocratic elite degenerates, it defects; and the state and the majority of the population eventually fall on their own sword. ..."
"... And the USSR clearly was a variation of a theocratic state. That explain also a very high, damaging the economy, level of centralization (the country as a single corporation) and the high level of ideology/religion-based repression (compare with Iran and Islamic state jihadists.) ..."
"... So after the WWII the ideology of Bolshevism was dead as it became clear that Soviet style theocratic state is unable to produce standard of living which Western social democracies were able to produce for their citizens. Rapid degeneration of the theocratic Bolshevik elite (aka Nomenklatura) also played an important role. ..."
"... It is important to understand that the Soviet elite changed sides completely voluntarily. Paradoxically it was high level of KGB functionaries who were instrumental in conversion to neoliberalism, starting with Andropov. It was Andropov, who created the plan of transition of the USSR to neoliberalism, the plan that Gorbachov tried to implement and miserably failed. ..."
"... So the system exploded from within because the Party elite became infected with neoliberalism (which was stupid, but reflects the level of degeneration of the Soviet elite). ..."
"... The major USA contribution other then supplying the new ideology for the Soviet elite was via CIA injecting God know how much money to bribe top officials. ..."
"... As Gorbachov was a second rate (if not the third rate) politician, he allowed the situation to run out of control. And the efforts to "rock" the system were fueled internally by emerging (as the result of Perestroika; which was a reincarnation of Lenin's idea of NEP) class of neoliberal Nouveau riche (which run the USSR "shadow economy" which emerged under Brezhnev) and by nationalist sentiments (those element were clearly supported by the USA and other Western countries money as well as via subversive efforts of national diaspora residing in the USA and Canada) and certain national minorities within the USSR. ..."
"... The brutal economic rape of the xUSSR space and generally of the whole former Soviet block by the "collective neoliberal West" naturally followed. Which had shown everybody that the vanguard of Perestroika were simply filthy compradors, who can't care less about regular citizens and their sufferings. ..."
"... BTW this huge amount of loot postponed the internal crisis of neoliberalism which happened in the USA in 2008 probably by ten years. And it (along with a couple of other factors such as telecommunication revolution) explain relative prosperity of Clinton presidency. Criminal Clinton presidency I should say. ..."
"... BTW few republics in former USSR space managed to achieve the standard of living equal to the best years of the USSR (early 80th I think) See https://web.williams.edu/Economics/brainerd/papers/ussr_july08.pdf ..."
"... Generally when the particular ideology collapses, far right nationalism fills the void. We see this now with the slow collapse of neoliberalism in the USA and Western Europe. ..."
"... Chinese learned a lot from Gorbachov's fatal mistakes and have better economic results as the result of the conversion to the neoliberalism ("from the above"), although at the end Chinese elite is not that different from Soviet elite and also is corruptible and can eventually change sides. ..."
"... But they managed to survive the "triumphal march of neoliberalism" (1980-2000) and now the danger is less as neoliberalism is clearly the good with expired "use by" date: after 2008 the neoliberal ideology was completely discredited and entered "zombie" state. ..."
Sep 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> ilsm... , September 08, 2019 at 08:20 PM

This is a very complex issue. And I do not pretend that I am right, but I think Brad is way too superficial to be taken seriously.

IMHO it was neoliberalism that won the cold war. That means that the key neoliberal "scholars" like Friedman and Hayek and other intellectual prostitutes of financial oligarchy who helped to restore their power. Certain democratic politicians like Carter also were the major figures. Carter actually started neoliberalization of the USA, continued by Reagan,

Former Trotskyites starting from Burnham which later became known as neoconservatives also deserve to be mentioned.

It is also questionable that the USA explicitly won the cold war. Paradoxically the other victim of the global neoliberal revolution was the USA, the lower 90% of the USA population to be exact.
So there was no winners other the financial oligarchy (the transnational class.)

As for the USSR, the Soviet elite changed sides. I think Putin once said that Soviet system was "unviable" to begin with. And that's pretty precise diagnosis: as soon as the theocratic elite degenerates, it defects; and the state and the majority of the population eventually fall on their own sword.

And the USSR clearly was a variation of a theocratic state. That explain also a very high, damaging the economy, level of centralization (the country as a single corporation) and the high level of ideology/religion-based repression (compare with Iran and Islamic state jihadists.)

The degeneration started with the death of the last charismatic leader (Stalin) and the passing of the generation which remembers that actual warts of capitalism and could relate them to the "Soviet socialism" solutions.

So after the WWII the ideology of Bolshevism was dead as it became clear that Soviet style theocratic state is unable to produce standard of living which Western social democracies were able to produce for their citizens. Rapid degeneration of the theocratic Bolshevik elite (aka Nomenklatura) also played an important role.

With bolshevism as the official religion, which can't be questioned, the society was way too rigid and suppressed "entrepreneurial initiative" (which leads to enrichment of particular individuals, but also to the benefits to the society as whole), to the extent that was counterproductive. The level of dogmatism in this area was probably as close to the medieval position of Roman Catholic Church as we can get; in this sense it was only national that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became a pope John Paul II -- he was very well prepared indeed ;-).

It is important to understand that the Soviet elite changed sides completely voluntarily. Paradoxically it was high level of KGB functionaries who were instrumental in conversion to neoliberalism, starting with Andropov. It was Andropov, who created the plan of transition of the USSR to neoliberalism, the plan that Gorbachov tried to implement and miserably failed.

So the system exploded from within because the Party elite became infected with neoliberalism (which was stupid, but reflects the level of degeneration of the Soviet elite).

The major USA contribution other then supplying the new ideology for the Soviet elite was via CIA injecting God know how much money to bribe top officials.

As Gorbachov was a second rate (if not the third rate) politician, he allowed the situation to run out of control. And the efforts to "rock" the system were fueled internally by emerging (as the result of Perestroika; which was a reincarnation of Lenin's idea of NEP) class of neoliberal Nouveau riche (which run the USSR "shadow economy" which emerged under Brezhnev) and by nationalist sentiments (those element were clearly supported by the USA and other Western countries money as well as via subversive efforts of national diaspora residing in the USA and Canada) and certain national minorities within the USSR.

Explosion of far right nationalist sentiments without "Countervailing ideology" as Bolshevism was not taken seriously anymore was the key factor that led to the dissolution of the USSR.

Essentially national movements allied with Germany that were defeated during WWII became the winners.

The brutal economic rape of the xUSSR space and generally of the whole former Soviet block by the "collective neoliberal West" naturally followed. Which had shown everybody that the vanguard of Perestroika were simply filthy compradors, who can't care less about regular citizens and their sufferings.

And the backlash created conditions for Putin coming to power.

BTW this huge amount of loot postponed the internal crisis of neoliberalism which happened in the USA in 2008 probably by ten years. And it (along with a couple of other factors such as telecommunication revolution) explain relative prosperity of Clinton presidency. Criminal Clinton presidency I should say.

BTW few republics in former USSR space managed to achieve the standard of living equal to the best years of the USSR (early 80th I think) See https://web.williams.edu/Economics/brainerd/papers/ussr_july08.pdf

The majority of the xUSSR space countries have now dismal standard of living and slided into Latin American level of inequality and corruption (not without help of the USA).

Several have civil wars in the period since getting independence, which further depressed the standard living. Most deindustrialize.

Generally when the particular ideology collapses, far right nationalism fills the void. We see this now with the slow collapse of neoliberalism in the USA and Western Europe.

Chinese learned a lot from Gorbachov's fatal mistakes and have better economic results as the result of the conversion to the neoliberalism ("from the above"), although at the end Chinese elite is not that different from Soviet elite and also is corruptible and can eventually change sides.

But they managed to survive the "triumphal march of neoliberalism" (1980-2000) and now the danger is less as neoliberalism is clearly the good with expired "use by" date: after 2008 the neoliberal ideology was completely discredited and entered "zombie" state.

So in the worst case it is the USA which might follow the path of the USSR and eventually disintegrate under the pressure of internal nationalist sentiments. Such a victor...

Even now there are some visible difference between former Confederacy states and other states on the issues such as immigration and federal redistributive programs.

[Sep 18, 2019] The specter of Marx haunts the American ruling class - World Socialist Web Site

Nov 06, 2018 | www.wsws.org
White House report on socialism

Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency of the Trump White House, released an extraordinary report titled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism." The report begins with the statement: "Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the younger electorate."

The very fact that the US government officially acknowledges a growth of popular support for socialism, particularly among the nation's youth, testifies to vast changes taking place in the political consciousness of the working class and the terror this is striking within the ruling elite. America is, after all, a country where anti-communism was for the greater part of a century a state-sponsored secular religion. No ruling class has so ruthlessly sought to exclude socialist politics from political discourse as the American ruling class.

The 70-page document is itself an inane right-wing screed. It seeks to discredit socialism by identifying it with capitalist countries such as Venezuela that have expanded state ownership of parts of the economy while protecting private ownership of the banks, and, with the post-2008 collapse of oil and other commodity prices, increasingly attacked the living standards of the working class.

It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as "Medicare for all," raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of "economic freedom," i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy's self-enrichment.

The report's arguments and themes find expression in the fascistic campaign speeches of Donald Trump, who routinely and absurdly attacks the Democrats as socialists and accuses them of seeking to turn America into another "socialist" Venezuela.

What has prompted this effort to blackguard socialism?

A series of recent polls in the US and Europe have shown a sharp growth of popular disgust with capitalism and support for socialism. In May of 2017, in a survey conducted by the Union of European Broadcasters of people aged 18 to 35, more than half said they would participate in a "large-scale uprising." Nine out of 10 agreed with the statement, "Banks and money rule the world."

Last November, a poll conducted by YouGov showed that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist country.

In August of this year, a Gallup poll found that for the first time since the organization began tracking the figure, fewer than half of Americans aged 18–29 had a positive view of capitalism, while more than half had a positive view of socialism. The percentage of young people viewing capitalism positively fell from 68 percent in 2010 to 45 percent this year, a 23-percentage point drop in just eight years.

This surge in interest in socialism is bound up with a resurgence of class struggle in the US and internationally. In the United States, the number of major strikes so far this year, 21, is triple the number in 2017. The ruling class was particularly terrified by the teachers' walkouts earlier this year because the biggest strikes were organized by rank-and-file educators in a rebellion against the unions, reflecting the weakening grip of the pro-corporate organizations that have suppressed the class struggle for decades.

The growth of the class struggle is an objective process that is driven by the global crisis of capitalism , which finds its most acute social and political expression in the center of world capitalism -- the United States. It is the class struggle that provides the key to the fight for genuine socialism.

Masses of workers and youth are being driven into struggle and politically radicalized by decades of uninterrupted war and the staggering growth of social inequality. This process has accelerated during the 10 years since the Wall Street crash of 2008. The Obama years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history, the escalation of the wars begun under Bush and their spread to Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the intensification of mass surveillance, attacks on immigrants and other police state measures.

This paved the way for the elevation of Trump, the personification of the criminality and backwardness of the ruling oligarchy.

Under conditions where the typical CEO in the US now makes in a single day almost as much as the average worker makes in an entire year, and the net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans has doubled over the past decade, the working class is looking for a radical alternative to the status quo. As the Socialist Equality Party wrote in its program eight years ago, " The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States ":

The change in objective conditions, however, will lead American workers to change their minds. The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society.

The response of the ruling class is two-fold. First, the abandonment of bourgeois democratic forms of rule and the turn toward dictatorship. The run-up to the midterm elections has revealed the advanced stage of these preparations, with Trump's fascistic attacks on immigrants, deployment of troops to the border, threats to gun down unarmed men, women and children seeking asylum, and his pledge to overturn the 14th Amendment establishing birthright citizenship.

That this has evoked no serious opposition from the Democrats and the media makes clear that the entire ruling class is united around a turn to authoritarianism. Indeed, the Democrats are spearheading the drive to censor the internet in order to silence left-wing and socialist opposition.

The second response is to promote phony socialists such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other pseudo-left organizations in order to confuse the working class and channel its opposition back behind the Democratic Party.

In 2018, with Sanders totally integrated into the Democratic Party leadership, this role has been largely delegated to the DSA, which functions as an arm of the Democrats. Two DSA members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, are likely to win seats in the House of Representatives as candidates of the Democratic Party.

The closer they come to taking office, the more they seek to distance themselves from their supposed socialist affiliation. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, joined Sanders in eulogizing the recently deceased war-monger John McCain, refused to answer when asked if she opposed the US wars in the Middle East, and dropped her campaign call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The working class and youth are increasingly looking for a socialist alternative, but their understanding of socialism and its history is limited. Here the role of the revolutionary party, the Socialist Equality Party, is critical. It alone seeks to arm the emerging mass movement of the working class with a genuine revolutionary, socialist and internationalist program.

The SEP fights to mobilize and unite the working class in the US and internationally in opposition to the entire ruling elite and all of its bribed politicians and parties. As our program explains:

But socialism will be achieved only through the establishment of workers' power. This will be a difficult struggle Socialism is not a gift to be given to the working class. It must be fought for and won by the working class itself.

The task facing workers and youth looking for the way to fight against war, inequality, poverty and repression is to join and build the Socialist Equality Party to lead the coming mass struggles of the working class.

Barry Grey

[Sep 17, 2019] The Dissolution of the USSR and the Unipolar Moment of US Imperialism by Bill Van Auken

Notable quotes:
"... The last three decades have seen the United States engaged in continuous and ever-expanding warfare under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The drive to conquer and subjugate the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia is a consensus policy of the American ruling class. The results have included over a million dead in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more across Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen. ..."
"... Meanwhile the Pentagon released a seemingly lunatic "joint doctrine" that goes well beyond Dr. Strangelove. It states: "nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win." ..."
"... There is a worried sense within ruling circles that three decades of war have only created a series of debacles, and that US imperialism is confronting what is termed, in military and foreign policy circles, as "strategic competition" from Russia and China. At the same time, ever-sharper conflicts are emerging between Washington and its erstwhile NATO partners, in particular Germany, against which the US fought in two world wars. ..."
"... Zakaria pays special tribute to the individual who popularized the concept of the "unipolar moment," the extreme right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, who wrote an article with that title, also in Foreign Affairs , in 1991. He promoted an unvarnished perspective of the unilateral use of US military aggression to assert the dominance of American capitalism around the globe. ..."
"... He further insisted that if US imperialism proved unable to maintain its unipolar moment it would be "not for foreign but for domestic reasons. ... stagnant productivity, declining work habits, rising demand for welfare state entitlements and new taste for ecological luxuries." He charged that while "defense spending declined, domestic entitlements nearly doubled." And, above all, he blamed "America's insatiable desire for yet higher standards of living without paying any of the cost." [3] ..."
"... For America's ruling elite, long at each other's throats, the path should be clearer now to reforming a working consensus about the US's world role. Some of the policy-making world's most divisive issues now look settled. Force is a legitimate tool of policy; it works. For the elites themselves, the message is America can lead, stop whining, think more boldly. Starting now. [5] ..."
"... We understood this editorial, by the mouthpiece of US finance capital, as an accurate reflection of the pathological triumphalism prevailing within the American bourgeoisie. ..."
"... A third of the population is functionally illiterate. Not even the mass media can avoid reporting on a daily basis some of the more spectacular 'horror stories' of lives destroyed by the impact of the social crisis: homeless people freezing in cardboard boxes, cancer victims being denied treatment because they have no medical insurance and unemployed workers and their families committing suicide ..."
"... This position dovetailed neatly with that of German imperialism, which was backing Croatian and Slovenian independence as part of a post-reunification reassertion of its power in Europe. German imperialism was returning to the scenes of its crimes in 1914 and 1941, unilaterally defying the United States, the United Nations and the European Commission. ..."
"... This was patently the case in Yugoslavia, where the first impulse to break up the existing federation came from Slovenia and Croatia, the wealthiest regions of the country, where local ruling elites calculated that they could fare better by breaking with the poorer republics and establishing their own independent ties to European governments, banks and corporations. ..."
"... In conclusion: the so-called "Unipolar Moment" of 1990 and 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the launching of the Gulf War, marked the collapse of the post-World War II equilibrium, established on the basis of the hegemony of American capitalism and the collaboration of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. It signaled the beginning of a new period of uninterrupted war, the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries ..."
Sep 13, 2019 | www.wsws.org

This lecture was delivered by Bill Van Auken, senior writer for the World Socialist Web Site , at the Socialist Equality Party (US) Summer School on July 25, 2019.

It is now nearly three decades since the deliberate liquidation of the Soviet Union by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy and the launching of the First Persian Gulf War, which began in January 1991. This war, which involved the deployment of over half a million US troops -- more than twice the number sent into the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- clearly marked a turning point in the development of US and world imperialism.

It likewise marked a turning point for the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). Objective developments, in particular the disintegration of Stalinism, intersected with the protracted struggle of the ICFI against Pabloite revisionism, culminating in the 1985 split and the consolidation of control by the orthodox Trotskyists, for the first time since the founding of the International Committee in 1953. This signaled a fundamental change in the relationship between the Fourth International and the working class.

Grasping that change, the ICFI sought to shoulder the immense political responsibility of leading the international working class, which found concrete expression in the convening of the extraordinarily important "World Conference of Workers against War and Colonialism" held in Berlin in November 1991, to which we will return.

The sharp turn by US imperialism toward unilateralism and militarism, consummated in the Gulf War of 1991, was bound up with the protracted crisis of American capitalism and the relative decline of its domination of the global economy. With the demise of the USSR, US imperialism concluded that it could now offset the challenge that American corporations faced from rivals in Europe and Japan, which had been growing since the 1970s, through the relatively untrammeled use of the US armed forces.

Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. [Credit: U.S. Air Force]

In the case of the Persian Gulf, the US military could be used to secure unchallenged American supremacy in the world's most important oil-producing region, which would put Washington in a position to blackmail its oil-import-dependent European and Asian imperialist rivals with the threat of cutting off their energy supplies. As President George H.W. Bush would declare, in the run-up to the Gulf war, an attack on Iraq would give the US "persuasiveness that will lead to more harmonious trading relationships."

This was not a development that took us by surprise. In its 1988 Perspectives Resolution, the ICFI warned:

Despite the loss of its economic hegemony, the United States remains, militarily, the most powerful imperialist country, and reserves to itself the role of global policeman. But the conditions which prevailed in 1945 at the beginning of the so-called American Century have been drastically transformed. The loss of the economic preponderance which once made its word "law" among the major capitalist nations compels the United States to place ever-greater reliance on the brute force of its military strength. [1]

The resolution went on to declare that a prophecy made by Trotsky was about to be vindicated, quoting his War and the Fourth International from 1934. "The world is divided? It must be re-divided. For Germany it was a question of 'organizing Europe.' The United States must organize the world. History is bringing humanity face to face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism." This was confirmed in barely two years.

There is an obvious continuity between these events of nearly 30 years ago and the present global political situation. The struggle to assert US hegemony over the Persian Gulf threatens to ignite a new and even more terrible war against Iran, a country with three times the population and four times the landmass of Iraq. The outbreak of a military confrontation is only a matter of time.

The last three decades have seen the United States engaged in continuous and ever-expanding warfare under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The drive to conquer and subjugate the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia is a consensus policy of the American ruling class. The results have included over a million dead in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more across Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

More and more these various conflicts threaten to metastasize into a Third World War. Preparations for a nuclear confrontation with Russia and China were chillingly described recently by the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the military's No. 1 priority. Meanwhile the Pentagon released a seemingly lunatic "joint doctrine" that goes well beyond Dr. Strangelove. It states: "nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win."

There is a worried sense within ruling circles that three decades of war have only created a series of debacles, and that US imperialism is confronting what is termed, in military and foreign policy circles, as "strategic competition" from Russia and China. At the same time, ever-sharper conflicts are emerging between Washington and its erstwhile NATO partners, in particular Germany, against which the US fought in two world wars.

The contradiction between the interdependent character of the global economy and the capitalist nation-state system is leading inexorably to a new world war.

Under these conditions, there have been several recent commentaries by US foreign policy analysts bemoaning the end of the "unipolar moment" proclaimed nearly 30 years ago, and looking back upon it with a certain nostalgia.

Among them is a piece published in Foreign Affairs by CNN's multi-millionaire pseudo-intellectual charlatan Fareed Zakaria, titled "The Self-Destruction of American Power." He writes:

Ever since the end of World War I, the United States has wanted to transform the world. In the 1990s, that seemed more possible than ever before. Countries across the planet were moving toward the American way. The Gulf War seemed to mark a new milestone for world order, in that it was prosecuted to uphold a norm legitimized by international law. [2]

The American way, world order, norms and international law: this is how these layers fondly recall a mass slaughter.

Zakaria pays special tribute to the individual who popularized the concept of the "unipolar moment," the extreme right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, who wrote an article with that title, also in Foreign Affairs , in 1991. He promoted an unvarnished perspective of the unilateral use of US military aggression to assert the dominance of American capitalism around the globe.

Our best hope for safety in such times is in American strength and will to lead a unipolar world, unashamedly laying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them," he wrote.

He went on to present the pretext for the next major US war: "There is no alternative to confronting, deterring and, if necessary, disarming states that brandish and use weapons of mass destruction. And there is no one to do that but the United States."

He further insisted that if US imperialism proved unable to maintain its unipolar moment it would be "not for foreign but for domestic reasons. ... stagnant productivity, declining work habits, rising demand for welfare state entitlements and new taste for ecological luxuries." He charged that while "defense spending declined, domestic entitlements nearly doubled." And, above all, he blamed "America's insatiable desire for yet higher standards of living without paying any of the cost." [3]

This, after a decade of unrelenting attacks on working class living standards in the wake of the breaking of the 1981 PATCO strike. The message was clear: imperialist war abroad had to be accompanied by an intensification of social counterrevolution and class war in the US itself.

Bush himself, in the run-up to the Gulf War, proclaimed that the unleashing of US military power, against a relatively defenseless oppressed country, would inaugurate a "New World Order."

The content of this "new world order" was never explained. The only thing that was clear was that the old world order had broken down and what was to replace it, in the first instance, was an eruption of US military violence.

The catastrophic breakdown of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union -- celebrated by facile bourgeois intellectuals as the "end of history" and the "triumph of capitalism" -- had removed a key prop of the old post-World War II order. Moreover, the very same forces of globalization of capitalist production and technological development that had fatally undermined the autarchic Stalinist economies were driving the entire world capitalist order into profound crisis.

... ... ...

It justified this threat on the basis of the "overwhelming dependence of Western nations on vital oil supplies from the Middle East." Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, introduced the "Reagan corollary," vowing that the US would defend these vital oil interests against internal threats to stability as well.

The US government deliberately manufactured the pretext for its military intervention in the Persian Gulf. Tensions between Iraq and Kuwait had been growing since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in which Washington had provided significant aid to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Kuwait's lowering of oil prices and its demand for debt payments had further undermined an Iraqi economy that had been battered by the war, while Baghdad claimed that Kuwait was carrying out slant drilling into Iraq's Rumaila oil field, on the border between the two countries.

The US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, used a meeting on July 25, 1990 -- just weeks before Bush was to announce his "line in the sand" and launch the drive to war -- to assure Saddam Hussein of US friendship and sympathy, while telling him that Washington had "no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait."

The trap having been laid, Saddam Hussein, driven by desperation over the mounting economic and social crisis in Iraq, quickly walked into it.

Like every US imperialist war waged in the name of liberation and democracy, the Gulf War was based on deception and lies.

The attempt was made to equate Saddam Hussein, whom Washington had only recently courted as an ally, with Adolf Hitler. This demonization would become a standard feature of every succeeding US war. It had, in fact, been used in what amounted to a dress rehearsal for the Gulf War, less than two years earlier. In preparing the invasion of Panama, the US State Department compared the involvement in the drug trade of Manuel Noriega -- a longtime CIA asset -- with Hitler's invasion of Poland.

A massive propaganda campaign was waged to sway US public opinion toward support for the Gulf war. This infamously included the testimony given by a 15-year-old girl to Congress, in which she tearfully recounted seeing armed Iraqi troops invading a hospital to steal incubators, throwing babies onto the floor to die. Only later was it revealed that the story was a complete fabrication. The girl had not been in Kuwait before, during or after the Iraqi invasion. She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and a member of the royal family, sent to read a script written by a major US PR firm.

Finally, Bush justified military intervention by claiming an imminent threat posed by Iraq's massing of 120,000 troops on Saudi Arabia's border. Satellite images subsequently revealed that there was nothing on the Kuwait-Saudi border but desert sand.

A critically important part of the report to the Special Congress of the Workers League in 1990 was the clarification of our attitude toward Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Initial responses within the International Committee had included its condemnation as an "act of aggression" by the British section, in an initial article published in its newspaper. On the other hand, there was a suggestion from within the Australian section, that we support the annexation of Kuwait as a "small step" in advancing "the unfulfilled national and democratic tasks of the Arab revolution."

The report made clear that we had no reason to condemn Iraqi aggression. Given the economic warfare waged by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia against Iraq in the run-up to the invasion, our concern was not who fired the first shot. Moreover, to take such a position would be to support the territorial integrity of Kuwait, a Sheikdom created by British imperialism, carved out of the southern Iraqi province of Basra, as a means of better dominating the Arabian Peninsula. The same is the case with virtually all the borders drawn by imperialist powers in the Middle East.

At the same time, in response to the suggestion from a member of the Australian section that we support Kuwait's annexation, it affirmed:

To attribute any progressive role to Hussein's invasion would lead the ICFI in a false direction and undermine the theoretical and political gains that have been made since 1985, in our collective struggle against the WRP's betrayal of the program of world socialist revolution.

Of course, this refers to the struggle waged against the Workers Revolutionary Party's abandonment of the Theory of Permanent Revolution, particularly in relation to its opportunist relations with various Arab regimes, systematically subordinating the independent struggle of the working class to the supposedly anti-imperialist stance of one or another bourgeois nationalist leader.

... ... ...

The US launched the Gulf War on January 16, 1991. Operation Desert Storm, as it was dubbed, consisted mainly of one of the most intensive air bombardments in military history. Eighty-eight thousand tons of munitions were dropped on Iraq in the course of just 42 days. This is roughly equivalent to one-fourth of the total bomb tonnage dropped on Germany during the entire Second World War. The Iraqi casualty totals were estimated at 135,000. Much of Iraq's conscript army was wiped out, with soldiers incinerated from the air or buried alive in their trenches. Hundreds of thousands more Iraqis, of course, died as a result of the systematic destruction of the country's infrastructure.

On the so-called Highway of Death, the US launched wave after wave of bombings against a defenseless, miles-long column of vehicles, carrying Iraqi troops as well as civilians withdrawing from Kuwait on the orders of the Hussein government, which announced that it was complying with a UN Resolution demanding the withdrawal.

As we stated in response to this war crime:

The US war against Iraq is among the most terrible crimes of the twentieth century, a slaughter that future generations will look back on with shame. It has demonstrated that the ruling class of so-called democratic America is just as capable of mass murder as the Nazis. [4]

The Wall Street Journal responded to the Gulf War with an editorial that stated:

For America's ruling elite, long at each other's throats, the path should be clearer now to reforming a working consensus about the US's world role. Some of the policy-making world's most divisive issues now look settled. Force is a legitimate tool of policy; it works. For the elites themselves, the message is America can lead, stop whining, think more boldly. Starting now. [5]

We understood this editorial, by the mouthpiece of US finance capital, as an accurate reflection of the pathological triumphalism prevailing within the American bourgeoisie.

The 11th Plenum of the International Committee was held on March 5, 1991, less than a week after the end of the Gulf War. Its opening report stated:

The American bourgeoisie is serving notice that American imperialism will seek through force to overcome problems arising from the protracted economic decline of the US. For all the problems of American capitalism -- the decay of its industrial base, the loss of its overseas markets, the massive trade deficits and budget deficits, the collapse of its banking system, the gangrenous growth of social ills -- the bourgeoisie believes it has found an answer: Force!

The report quotes the extremely relevant passage from Anti-Dühring , written 113 years earlier, in which Engels delivered a Marxist response to Dühring's claim that force was the decisive element in history:

...its own productive forces have grown beyond its control and, as if necessitated by a law of nature, are driving the whole of bourgeois society towards ruin, or revolution. And if the bourgeoisie now make their appeal to force in order to save the collapsing "economic situation" from the final crash, this only shows that they are laboring under the same delusion as Herr Dühring: the delusion that "political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation"; this only shows that they imagine, just as Herr Dühring does, that by making use of "the primary," "the direct political force," they can remodel those "facts of the second order," the economic situation and its inevitable development; and that therefore the economic consequences of the steam-engine and the modern machinery driven by it, of world trade and the banking and credit developments of the present day, can be blown out of existence by them with Krupp guns and Mauser rifles. [6]

Substitute computerization for the steam engine and smart bombs and cruise missiles for Krupp guns and Mausers and this statement stands as a fitting refutation of the triumphalist rantings of the US ruling class in the wake of the Gulf War.

... ... ...

Moreover, in the context of the Gulf War, the call for revolutionary defeatism from the standpoint of fighting the US military to the last Iraqi was senseless and reactionary. The military balance of forces was such that -- outside of the revolutionary mobilization of the masses of the Middle East and the working class in the US and beyond -- the military victory of the US was virtually assured. More fundamentally, it betrayed a complete disdain for and hostility to the fight against war based upon the struggle of the working class. It was entirely bound up with the Pabloite perspective that one or another form of "armed struggle," waged by non-proletarian forces, was the substitute for the revolutionary mobilization of the working class internationally, and particularly in the advanced capitalist countries.

The most decisive response of the ICFI to the Gulf War, US imperialism's "unipolar moment" and the march toward the restoration of capitalism and dissolution of the USSR, was the calling of the Berlin Conference against imperialist war and colonialism.

... ... ...

The war ushered in a period of capitalist disequilibrium that would last for three decades, dominated by capitalist crisis and overshadowed by the successful October 1917 Revolution in Russia, calling into question the very survival of the capitalist order.

The absence, however, of revolutionary parties -- particularly in Europe -- on a par with the Bolsheviks in Russia, allowed the bourgeoisie to defeat a series of revolutionary struggles. But they were unable to create a new equilibrium to replace what was shattered by 1914.

The rise of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, and the terrible degeneration of the Communist International as it was subordinated to the Stalinist theory of "socialism in one country" and Moscow's maneuvers with imperialism, led to a series of catastrophic defeats, above all in Germany. The coming to power of the Nazis in 1933, without a shot being fired, exposed the counterrevolutionary character of Stalinism, leading Trotsky to found the Fourth International.

The document establishes that the ability of the bourgeoisie to achieve a new equilibrium in the aftermath of World War II, which they could not do following World War I, was based not merely on the rise of US imperialism as a hegemonic power, but also the indispensable role of Stalinism. It opposed and sabotaged the revolutionary struggles of the working class in the aftermath of the war, particularly in Italy, France and Greece. In Eastern Europe, its establishment of so-called buffer states served not only to suppress the working class and any genuine struggle for socialism, but also to pacify a fractious region that had been a source of European instability since the dawn of the 20th century.

The equilibrium established at the end of World War II, however, as the document makes clear, was mined with its own contradictions. Its revival of world trade and rebuilding of capitalism in Europe and Japan led to the gradual decline of US hegemony, leading to mounting US deficits which, by 1985, had transformed America into a debtor nation.

Turning to the crisis in the United States, the manifesto sketches out a portrait that seems altogether contemporary:

Not a single significant piece of social legislation has passed through Congress in more than two decades [now we can say five decades ]. Massive budget cuts have destroyed what remains of the old social programs. The crime statistics are merely the most obvious symptoms of the malignant state of social relations. Amidst rapidly growing unemployment and, for those who still have jobs, declining wages, the state of education, housing and medical care is nothing less than catastrophic.

A third of the population is functionally illiterate. Not even the mass media can avoid reporting on a daily basis some of the more spectacular 'horror stories' of lives destroyed by the impact of the social crisis: homeless people freezing in cardboard boxes, cancer victims being denied treatment because they have no medical insurance and unemployed workers and their families committing suicide. [10]

... ... ...

The manifesto warned that these conflicts were being manipulated and exploited by the imperialist powers, while capitalism sought to divert popular indignation over social inequality into the blind alley of national and ethnic conflict.

The ability of reactionary petty-bourgeois demagogues to agitate for communal violence it said, "is to be attributed not to the intellectual and moral power of nationalism, but to the political vacuum left by the prostration of the traditional organizations of the working class, which offer no way out of the crisis of the capitalist system."

Between the calling of the conference on May 1, 1991 and its convening on November 16, events moved very rapidly, with Croatia and Slovenia both declaring their independence on June 25 of that year. Macedonia followed suit soon after, and the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina began its fragmentation into warring ethnic cantons. Armed clashes had broken out, particularly around the coastal city of Dubrovnik.

US Army combat engineer vehicle demolishes a Bosnian Serb bunker near Dubrave, January 1996

The promotion of virulent ethno-chauvinism and national separatism was led by former bureaucrats of Yugoslavia's ruling League of Communists. They sought, on the one hand, to divide and suppress the Yugoslav working class, which had carried out a wave of mass strikes against the austerity measures imposed by the IMF as part of capitalist restoration. On the other, they were driven to carve out ethnic states in order to forge their own independent relations with imperialism as a new ruling class of comprador capitalists.

In his report to the conference, comrade North pointed to the attitude adopted by the Pabloite leader Ernest Mandel, who advocated unconditional support for the self-determination of Croatia, regardless of the character of the regime. Mandel moreover issued a call for direct imperialist intervention, denouncing Serbian chauvinism, while turning a blind eye to Croatian chauvinism.

This position dovetailed neatly with that of German imperialism, which was backing Croatian and Slovenian independence as part of a post-reunification reassertion of its power in Europe. German imperialism was returning to the scenes of its crimes in 1914 and 1941, unilaterally defying the United States, the United Nations and the European Commission.

The Berlin conference adopted a resolution titled "On the Defense of the Working Class in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union" which stated the following:

Everywhere rival capitalist cliques are stirring up nationalism and chauvinism, in order to incite the workers against each other and to preempt an uprising against the old and new oppressors. The bloodbath in Yugoslavia is a result of these policies. This war has nothing to do with the right of nations to self-determination. Serbian and Croatian nationalists are merely fighting to secure for themselves a larger portion of the exploitation of the working class. [19]

The history of Yugoslavia, its rise and fall, could be the subject for an entire school, as could the national question and the slogan of "self-determination." Clearly that cannot be accomplished in this lecture.

... ... ...

Not only the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia, but more fundamentally, the development of capitalist globalization, gave rise to a new type of nationalist movement, seeking the dismemberment of existing states -- including those that emerged out of the previous national struggles against colonialism -- to further the interests of rival bourgeois factions in establishing the most advantageous relations to imperialism and transnational capital.

This was patently the case in Yugoslavia, where the first impulse to break up the existing federation came from Slovenia and Croatia, the wealthiest regions of the country, where local ruling elites calculated that they could fare better by breaking with the poorer republics and establishing their own independent ties to European governments, banks and corporations.

Similar considerations have motivated a whole series of national separatist movements, including in Europe, in the cases of the right-wing Northern League in Italy and Catalan nationalism in Spain.

... ... ...

In conclusion: the so-called "Unipolar Moment" of 1990 and 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the launching of the Gulf War, marked the collapse of the post-World War II equilibrium, established on the basis of the hegemony of American capitalism and the collaboration of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. It signaled the beginning of a new period of uninterrupted war, the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries, and inevitably, a global rise in the class struggle and socialist revolution.

... .. ...

Footnotes:

[Sep 10, 2019] The idea tha the USA won the Cold War is questionable

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As early as the late 1940's, some of us living in Russia saw that the regime was becoming dangerously remote from the concerns and hopes of the Russian people. The original ideological and emotional motivation of Russian Communism had worn itself out and become lost in the exertions of the great war. And there was already apparent a growing generational gap in the regime. ..."
"... By the time Stalin died, in 1953, even many Communist Party members had come to see his dictatorship as grotesque, dangerous and unnecessary, and there was a general impression that far-reaching changes were in order. ..."
"... Nikita Khrushchev took the leadership in the resulting liberalizing tendencies. He was in his crude way a firm Communist, but he was not wholly unopen to reasonable argument. His personality offered the greatest hope for internal political liberalization and relaxation of international tensions. ..."
"... The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's.... ..."
"... In the competition between major powers and/or alliances there are several somewhat complementary aspects of power: economic or physical aspect to create things of "value" (added by the commerce and industry of the entity), the military power, and moral aspects of the entity in terms of political and cultural resolve and unity. ..."
Sep 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 07, 2019 at 07:23 AM

https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/note-to-self-_the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-hoisted-from-the-archiveshttpswwwbradford-de.html

September 5, 2019

Note to Self: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War *

Harry Dexter White... George Kennan... George Marshall... Arthur Vandenberg... Paul Hoffman... Dean Acheson... Harry S Truman... Dwight D. Eisenhower... Gerald Ford... George Shultz

* https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/02/note-the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-archive-entry-from-brad-delongs-webjournal.html

-- Brad DeLong

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 07:24 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/28/opinion/the-gop-won-the-cold-war-ridiculous.html

October 28, 1992

The G.O.P. Won the Cold War? Ridiculous.
By George F. Kennan

The claim heard in campaign rhetoric that the United States under Republican Party leadership "won the cold war" is intrinsically silly.

The suggestion that any Administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.

As early as the late 1940's, some of us living in Russia saw that the regime was becoming dangerously remote from the concerns and hopes of the Russian people. The original ideological and emotional motivation of Russian Communism had worn itself out and become lost in the exertions of the great war. And there was already apparent a growing generational gap in the regime.

These thoughts found a place in my so-called X article in Foreign Affairs in 1947, from which the policy of containment is widely seen to have originated. This perception was even more clearly expressed in a letter from Moscow written in 1952, when I was Ambassador there, to H. Freeman Matthews, a senior State Department official, excerpts from which also have been widely published. There were some of us to whom it was clear, even at that early date, that the regime as we had known it would not last for all time. We could not know when or how it would be changed; we knew only that change was inevitable and impending.

By the time Stalin died, in 1953, even many Communist Party members had come to see his dictatorship as grotesque, dangerous and unnecessary, and there was a general impression that far-reaching changes were in order.

Nikita Khrushchev took the leadership in the resulting liberalizing tendencies. He was in his crude way a firm Communist, but he was not wholly unopen to reasonable argument. His personality offered the greatest hope for internal political liberalization and relaxation of international tensions.

The downing of the U-2 spy plane in 1960, more than anything else, put an end to this hope. The episode humiliated Khrushchev and discredited his relatively moderate policies. It forced him to fall back, for the defense of his own political position, on a more strongly belligerent anti-American tone of public utterance.

The U-2 episode was the clearest example of that primacy of military over political policy that soon was to become an outstanding feature of American cold war policy. The extreme militarization of American discussion and policy, as promoted by hard-line circles over the ensuing 25 years, consistently strengthened comparable hard-liners in the Soviet Union.

The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's....

ilsm -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:28 AM
Very interesting observation.

In the competition between major powers and/or alliances there are several somewhat complementary aspects of power: economic or physical aspect to create things of "value" (added by the commerce and industry of the entity), the military power, and moral aspects of the entity in terms of political and cultural resolve and unity.

Early in my time in the service, when I had time to think being at a remote station I decided the west had the marked economic advantage, particularly as the green revolution permitted some higher level of nutrition security.

Later on I recall discussions where the collapse of the Soviet Union was assured but would take in to the 21st century to occur. The big question then was "would a nuclear exchange occur in the way of a peaceful collapse".....

The presence of the A Bomb in some ways prevented war in other encouraged intrigue and small scrapes in to each other's spheres.

There was a bit of the Divine in the world getting through the Cold War.

The Berlin wall came down as hoped but 25 years earlier than I expected.

Plp -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Stalin built the party military complex that ran Russia from 1932 to 1989

Cold war liberals built uncle's post was military industrial complex as a counterpart to Stalin's

alas thanx to guys from wasp firms on Wall Street like Dean Acheson that knew the planet was ours to pluck post 1946

anne -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:14 AM
These are important comments, and deserve to be saved and gradually expanded on. I appreciate this.
ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:35 AM
As an aside the Ukraine farmers whom Stalin "collectivized" were seen as impediment to industrializing.......

interesting too, how LBJ kept guns and butter and went pedal to the metal in Vietnam......

politics has always (since June 1950, anyway) "ended when the pentagon appropriations bills were up for enacting".

Which may be synonymous with the proscription about politics kept out of diplomacy?

anne -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 09:15 AM
Do save and develop this interesting thinking further over time.
Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:46 AM
KENNAN Was a lucky guy. He hit the right notes at the right time and then as he got second thoughts and better vision. Like yugoslaving peoples China in 1949
He was side tracked and then sent out to ivy pastures
Plp -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:53 AM
U 2

Nonsense. The moment to engage was 1953 -54 and yes a goo regime blocked it

But it was Truman that crossed the parallel in 1950 and tried to liberate north Korea

It was Kennedy that preferred brinksmanship to real engagement. Brush wars and regime change to accommodation. Missile racing to sensible unilateralism

Yes LBJ was an ignorant oaf on foreign policy. But it was Nixon that finally used PRC as Yugo twenty years too late of course

The cold war was invented by democrats and exploited by republicans for domestic shindiggery. Tragicomedy cinescope scaled

EMichael -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:18 AM
Yes, very clever how democrats coerced Stalin into annexing eastern Europe and placing millions of people under total control in every way of life.

Your ideology trumps facts when needed.

ilsm -> EMichael... , September 07, 2019 at 09:39 AM
democrats + Truman and Churchill......

Had FDR survived the 3 western sectors of Germany would have been demilitarized, and agrarian.

Churchill conned Truman to use Potsdam as a replay of Munich!

Keenan's angst was the "militarized" usurped "containment".

Stalin may not have been replaying 1938........

Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:37 AM
Pompous banality worthy of a tenured entitled utterly secure mind

I don't like or respect Brad but I do enjoy him ss a punching bag

Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:39 AM
Nixon and Kissinger won the cold war For God sake. Everyone knows that

George Schultz and KENNAN?

Where's Joe McCarthy? And Paul Nitze

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:51 AM
Where is Luce?

Truman and Acheson.... were there when Keenan went off to teach instead of be ignored.

Marshall aside from his plan, he and his Army staffers just off beating Hitler knew Chiang was not worth propping.

The Luce empire went all cold warrior over "who lost China" which gave Joe McCarthy a drum.

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:27 AM
:<)

You could have no Cold War without the agitprop. As with the GWOT today.

The one no loser in the demise of the commies: the MIC!

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:41 AM
As Vinegar Joe Stillwell observed.......

eventually Stillwell went.

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AM
Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s. There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about. If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.

[Sep 09, 2019] Russians still wonder if perestroika was a curse or a blessing by ALEXANDROVA Lyudmila

Sep 09, 2019 | tass.com

Many voice conflicting judgments, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. Thirty years after the Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on a policy of reforms that would go down in history under a name sounding very oddly to a foreign ear - perestroika - Russians are discussing those events of their country's recent history again. Many voice conflicting judgements, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today. On April 23, 1985 the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party gathered for its historic full-scale meeting to set course towards what was described as fundamental reorganization and acceleration of the Soviet Union's economic development after a long period of what was condemned as stagnation. The new course, originally expected to overhaul and invigorate the Soviet system, ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"The gist of what happened then was simple: at the very top a decision was a made the people are free to express their thought in public and for that they will neither risk losing their life or go to jail or even go jobless," says the founder of the Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky. "There emerged the freedom of speech. The feeling of fear vanished. Full stop. All other processes that followed were nothing but consequences. The previous political system was built on falsehoods. The advent of truth caused a lethal effect on that system, and it fell apart."

"Perestroika's worst problem was there was no strategic planning. The reform plan and its end goal were very unclear all along," Sergey Filatov, the former chief of staff of Russia's first president Boris Yeltsin told TASS. "Without a plan the policy was doomed to fail."

And still, Filatov said, perestroika caused a tremendous impact: it triggered reforms and showed the people that changes were possible even under the old system.

"Perestroika was an intricate process," says Aleksei Makarkin, the first deputy president of the Political Technologies Centre. "It was first a belated attempt to reform the economy, then the ensuing chaos, and ultimately an attempt to defuse popular anger with political reform. The process eventually broke bounds. It all ended with the collapse of the country. Gorbachev merely tried to make that process controllable more or less," Makarkin told TASS.

Gorbachev was forced to launch economic reforms, because the main engine that kept the Soviet economy going was the export of oil. When oil prices slumped, something had to be done right away," Makarkin recalled. "His predecessors had drawn up no strategic plans. Nobody dared touch the system. Later, when some steps began to be taken at last, it turned out that no one had the slightest idea of how to go about that business. Conflicting decisions followed in quick succession. First, an attempt was made to speed up economic development and diversify the economy at a time when oil prices plummeted. In 1987 the attempt failed. Other remedies began to be tried. Some traces of a free market economy began to develop, such as cooperatives in the services and public catering. Some components of a controlled market economy cropped up."

The rapprochement with the West under Gorbachev was started with a far-reaching aim, Makarkin believes. In that situation the Soviet economy was no longer capable of carrying the burden of the Cold War and the arms race. "Without that no rapprochement might have ever happened. Also, there was the war in Afghanistan that had to be curtailed."

"In general, the Gorbachev era in home and foreign policies was that of haste, inconsistency, belated decisions and forced moves. In the meantime, the people's living standards slumped and protest sentiment soared. Attempts to woo the general public reached nowhere. In 1987-1988 social discontent soared and Boris Yeltsin emerged as its embodiment."

"Hoping to ease tensions in society political reforms were declared only to cause centrifugal processes," Makarkin recalls. "As a result, the Soviet republics began to drift ever farther apart - some before the August 1991 coup, and others after. A counter-attempt to create something like a federation or confederation drew strong objections from the hard-line conservatives, which led to the country's utter collapse.

But perestroika should not be painted only in dark colours, Makarkin said.

"One should remember that Gorbachev gave the people freedom - first, economic, and then political. For instance, the freedom to travel out of the country and back: something everybody takes for granted. It was under Gorbachev that the Church regained full legitimacy. Lastly, the freedom of speech, which has long become a fact of life."

"Also, Gorbachev largely takes the credit for avoiding a large-scale civil war and chaos and total chaos in a vast country, however tragic the unrest in Tbilisi, Vilnius and Nagorno-Karabakh of those days may still look these days. He decided against the extreme scenario implying the use of force, which many interpreted as a sign of weakness. It should be remembered: those who dared use force merely accelerated the country's collapse."

The policy of perestroika proclaimed in the Soviet Union in 1985 has caused more harm than good, say 55% of Russians, as follows from a Levada poll held in March. In contrast to this, ten years ago 70% said perestroika was a bad choice.

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[Sep 09, 2019] Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s.

Notable quotes:
"... There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about. ..."
"... If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AM

Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s.

There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about.

If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.

[Sep 09, 2019] Who Won the Cold War? by John Payne

Notable quotes:
"... No, America lost the Cold War. We may be richer than when it started, but a larger portion of our incomes go to the government . Even worse, the United States now leads the world in imprisonment –not just by rate but in absolute terms as well, with 1 out of every 150 Americans behind bars. This is largely a consequence of the War on Drugs, which is a war the American government wages upon its own citizens. In the years of the Cold War and since, we have become substantially less free. ..."
Nov 09, 2009 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As everyone should know by now but probably does not, this is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first breach in that wall set off a chain reaction that would eventually topple Communist governments and liberate people across half of Europe. It would also end the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Block, substantially diminishing the possibility for nuclear annihilation. However, when people say that the West–or more particularly, America–won the Cold War, I'm not exactly sure what they mean.

Of course, America still exists as a country while the Soviet Union does not, but in a war that is supposedly about ideas and ideals, victory must me something more than outlasting your opponent.

I think the more appropriate way to look at the matter is to ask: who has benefited the most from the end of the Cold War? Clearly, it is the peoples of East Germany, Poland, Estonia, etc. that have gained the most. They are far richer than they were twenty years ago, and more importantly they are able to speak and think as they please without fear of imprisonment, torture, and possibly death at the hands of their governments. Even Russia, which is still far from free, is a much freer place than it was under the Soviets. Dissident journalists do still turn up missing, but to be known as a dissident journalist in the Soviet Union was almost an impossibility. The post-Communist states all have a long way to go to complete freedom, but with few exceptions , they are all now much closer to that ideal than they were twenty years ago.

But can we say that the people of the United States also won the Cold War? Sadly, I do not believe so. After World War II, the United States' standing army likely would have shrunk back to the small peacetime numbers that existed for most of our history if it weren't for the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. military spread across the world, allegedly to keep the country free from the horrors of Communism. Ironically, keeping the people of America free required enslaving a large percentage of her young men through the country's first peacetime draft. And of course, soldiers must be housed, equipped, fed, and paid, which required a higher level of taxation than Americans were used to in peacetime. Twenty years ago, the United States could have reversed this course and reaped the peace dividend, but instead the government pressed ahead and extended American influence into the former Soviet Block–taking on new powers and responsibilities along the way.

No, America lost the Cold War. We may be richer than when it started, but a larger portion of our incomes go to the government . Even worse, the United States now leads the world in imprisonment –not just by rate but in absolute terms as well, with 1 out of every 150 Americans behind bars. This is largely a consequence of the War on Drugs, which is a war the American government wages upon its own citizens. In the years of the Cold War and since, we have become substantially less free.

One right that is still largely intact is the Freedom of Religion, but most versions of American Christianity today bear little resemblance to the teachings found in the Gospels. In this country today, people tend to worship the American Jesus , more known for killing "hajis" than offering salvation. Christianity has become a state religion in this country as it was for the Roman Emperor Constantine, and it is put to the same use of justifying military power. Perhaps even worse than using the Prince of Peace for war, the president (provided he is of the right party, of course) is now viewed by most as an avatar of God on Earth if not God himself. Many American Christians have rendered everything unto Caesar and have nothing left for God.

The world is a far freer place than it was twenty years ago, but America is not. Kierkegaard once wrote "What slave in chains is as unfree as a tyrant!" As the tyrant of the world, America is enslaved to all. Truly, America has gained the world, but lost her soul.

woodbutcher says: November 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

America has gained the world, but lost her soul. That is what we get for trying to legislate morality .

... ... ...

Thomas says: November 10, 2009 at 1:53 am

And yet we had plenty of (perhaps more) morality laws before the War on Drugs

Perhaps the problem is that the government does not defend its borders (well, that and the intelligence agencies have long funded some operations with drug money look at Afghanistan!)?

Not everything illegal has a special allure, it really depends on enforcement of the law.

And, John, a lot of Eastern Europe is NOT better off than it was 20 years ago, particularly now that their speculative bubbles have burst. The signs are shinier, there are more decent restaurants, but many other economic, social, and moral declines. And East Europeans have gained freedom in many ways, but lost it in others.

People forget that many of the anti-Communist movements like the New Forum activists in the DDR or Solidarnosc in Poland claimed they were pro-socialist (just for a more democratic, participatory regime). The original point was not joining NATO and mass privatisation, but rather civil liberties, and, sometimes, true conservative principles (pro-church, rediscovering a spiritual mission of their people). But church attendance has increased slightly while (corporal, at least) immorality has increased significantly! What gain is that? Much of the national infrastructure was stolen by oligarchs who took the money to Switzerland, much others were sold to foreigners.

Basically, (most of) East Europe has been absorbed into the control of the international financial elite (or NWO or whatever you prefer to term it).

Thomas says: November 14, 2009 at 3:05 am T.O.M.-

There are some very secular, more generous welfare states with considerably more civil liberties. Of course they have their own problems, but that is not the source of our War of Terror, War on Drugs, USA Patriot Act, etc. Paleoconservatives are too often naifs in suggesting, essentially, that some lead us on the road to Hell with good intentions. It is actually direct corruption in our govt that is the source of all our greatest national catastrophes.

I found a figure for Cuba. The 2005 official statistics put it at about 490 per 100K, so about 70% the US rate – still high, but no cigar. Oh I see a more recent (2008?) rate of 531, but still keeping pace with the US at about 70% its rate. That is a British univeristy study – they estimate the Sudanese rate about 1/20 the US rate (so they had a civil war, but they aren't totalitarian, what did you think?). Zimbabwe is given as about 1/5 the US rate. The link, if it works to post it here-

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/law/research/icps/downloads/wppl-8th_41.pdf

Thomas O. Meehan says: November 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm T

Thomas, were you referring to England and the continental welfare states with their anti free speech laws, confiscatory taxation and intrusive regulation of every stage of life? Welfare states must be coercive in order to function. That's why conservatives off all types abhor them.

The percentage of population in incarceration can be a deceptive statistic. States lie about these things for a start. Totalitarian states like Cuba and China have the option of simply killing offenders and of course many people just flee state control.

The US has a large degree of incarceration due to the popularity of "Get tough on drug offender" legislation. We have a large criminal underclass in this country and after decades of revolving door justice, the public just got fed up. It may not be humane, but it works. That's democracy for you.

By the way, there is no system more involved in the criminal justice system than our welfare bureaucracy. Most criminals are born into to welfare, graduate to truancy and addiction and then crime, all under the watchful eye of social workers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, court appointed counselors and probation officers, etc. etc. But this shouldn't take any of the luster off welfare states, right?

Thomas says: November 15, 2009 at 4:42 am

Actually, China records their executions, they do not just shoot criminals on sight. Neither does Cuba. And neither of those countries would qualify as the top 10 or 20 draconian, authoritarian states (i.e., where citizens shake in fear of the police) at the moment.

England is widely known to be the most surveillance over its population, but it also has the weakest welfare state in Western Europe!!!! Scandinavia has much more freedom in general and much stronger welfare. Your attempt to make some sort of correlation is ridiculous. None of these countries has a PATRIOT ACT, where you can be deemed an enemy and held indefinitely. Britain has tried several times to enact something similar, but the Lords always block it. It would be absurd in Germany even.

The United States is simply no longer a beacon of civil liberties even compared with true welfare states. Sorry.

And if you are worried about the existence of a criminal underclass, you can probably blame the extreme inequalities of wealth, the co-existence of hyper-First World and quasi-Third World elements. All of Latin America has the same, though their welfare states are rarely very advanced. I think you would find the same trend in Africa.

Mind you, I don't want to be like Sweden. I would prefer America to return to the 50s (not entirely, but overall it would be an improvement). In the 50s there was a more even redistribution of wealth and less nanny statism because there was more direct dirigisme. The State was more involved in industrial planning and regulated trade and financial institutions. Individuals paid less tax because corporations paid more. If the economy is planned such that productive employment is a priority, then you can maintain a stable working class. If you take that away, like the US and UK have done, then you get a permanent underclass with no prospects of a stable life.

Thomas O. Meehan says: November 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

The problem with the 1950's is that they inevitably evolve into the 1960's. And soon we're where we are now. That's the way of welfare states, they introduce such dependency, indolence and corruption that they just grow. But hey they always have their defenders. As for the lack of a Patriot Act in Europe, you must be kidding. The least you could do is read the British press. British subjects can be criminally charged for suggesting that heterosexual couples make better adoptive parents than homosexuals. The French police do as they please, and always have. The British do have preventative detention.

Nobody said that the Chinese and or Cubans shot people out of hand. But they do shoot people rather than feed them for long periods, as we do. You can believe their statistics if you want to.

Our underclass remains a dangerous nuisance despite public education, taxpayer supported charity care, a multitude of Federal and State programs and affirmative action. Of course we are importing more every day, adding to the income disparity you speak of. Perhaps we should deport people to level out the disparity a bit. What do you think?

I like your idea of our no longer being a beacon. It's attracting the wrong sort.

Thomas says: November 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Yes, of course we should deport people. Illegal immigration is not the source of the US socioeconomic problems, but it compounds them by a serious factor.

Being a former resident of Houston, where parts of the city (probably the most red-voting major city in the US) were literally crawling with illegals who undercut everyone else's wages (that's why they are here), I can attest a bit to the corrupting effect this has on everyone involved.

[Sep 09, 2019] Who Won the Cold War by Jordan Michael Smith

Notable quotes:
"... Westad faults Truman for being unwilling or unable to extend Franklin Roosevelt's friendly policy toward the USSR. ..."
"... "The Soviet assistance program for China was not only the biggest Moscow ever undertook outside its own borders," Westad writes. "It was also, in relative terms, the biggest such program undertaken by any country anywhere, including the US Marshall Plan for Europe." Within a decade following this generosity, they almost fought a nuclear war. ..."
"... WESTAD ALSO wrote a book on the fall of détente, for which he distinctly blames Americans. "Nixon and Kissinger had gone further in attempting to manage the Cold War together with the Soviet Union than most Americans were willing to accept," he writes. "Most Americans were simply not willing to tolerate that the United States could have an equal in international affairs, in the 1970s or ever." This is where Gaddis's immersion in American documents might have been helpful. Most Americans, at least on the anti-détente side, were worried not that the Soviet Union was at parity with the United States, but that it had actually exceeded America's capabilities. However wrongheaded and overly alarmist that perspective was, its importance in explaining American behavior should not be overlooked. ..."
"... Westad will have none of it. "Intent to move away from the Cold War as a national emergency, Eisenhower ended up institutionalizing it as policy and doctrine," he writes. "On the Korean War, the new president simply got lucky. . . . The turn toward a policy of massive nuclear retaliation meant preparing for strategic warfare on a scale that so far had seemed unimaginable." Pages later, he adds, ..."
"... Eisenhower lacked the imagination and political will to think about ending the Cold War after Stalin's death. This is a provocative portrayal of Eisenhower, a welcome antidote to the revisionism that can approach hagiography. But it is undercut by Westad's slight documentation. ..."
"... Cold War triumphalism has had pernicious effects on American foreign policy. A straight line can be drawn from the idea that Ronald Reagan's military buildup and assertive rhetoric ended the Cold War to the fantasy that the United States could rebuild the Middle East. The prominence of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration was due largely to the widespread belief that they had been right in seeing the transformative potential of American power during the Cold War. Though Donald Trump was able, in the Republican primaries in 2016, to counter delusions of American omnipotence with delusions of American seclusion, the messianic streak still runs strong in the Republican Party and in segments of the Democratic Party. Its absence in current political debates should be seen as temporary. When it inevitably arises again, trouble will ensue. "We all lost the cold war," Gorbachev once said. The difficulty arises when one party thinks it won. ..."
August 27, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (New York: Basic Books, 2017), 720 pp., $35.00.

IN 2005 , the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis released his book, The Cold War: A New History . Glowing reviews of the book followed in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs . Among the few dissenters was Tony Judt, a New York University historian who died in 2010. Judt had opposed the Iraq War, when so many other intellectuals -- including Gaddis -- joined in the delusions that George W. Bush could, should and would democratize the Middle East. By 2005, those fantasies were discredited by events in Mesopotamia (though Gaddis was unchastened, arguing in the American Interest as late as 2008 that the senior goal of American foreign policy should be "ending tyranny").

In the New York Review of Books , Judt argued that "John Lewis Gaddis has written a history of America's cold war: as seen from America, as experienced in America, and told in a way most agreeable to many American readers." However brilliant his works had been during the Cold War, Gaddis became an American triumphalist once the Berlin Wall collapsed. He had comparatively little understanding of the Soviet experience and, most egregiously, didn't seem to care much about the enormous damage both superpowers inflicted on what was then called the Third World. The result, Judt argued, was that the Cold War was "a story still to be told."

With Odd Arne Westad's new book, the story is now told. Westad is the coauthor of several books on the Cold War, as well as coeditor of the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War . He also wrote The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times , which won the Bancroft Prize. As its title indicates, The Global Cold War suggested that the Cold War was very much a globe-spanning conflict, migrating into areas far beyond the borders of the two superpowers.

His new book integrates that focus on the developing world with a more traditional emphasis on the great powers. It is aimed at a general rather than a scholarly audience, with far fewer footnotes or archival research than his previous works (more on that later). The Cold War: A World History is told chronologically, but unlike most books on the subject, it begins with the right period.

THE FIRST well-regarded book on the war written from a post–Berlin Wall perspective was Martin Walker's Cold War, published in 1994. Like so many others to come, it began with the dissension in the Allied ranks in the closing years of World War II. By beginning with an earlier period, Westad advances beyond that approach. He is able to devote some attention to the ideological sources of the struggle, which began with Lenin's interpretation of communism, prioritizing global revolution and antagonism toward the noncommunist world. "The Cold War was born from the global transformations of the late nineteenth century and was buried as a result of tremendously rapid changes a hundred years later," he writes. Those changes include decolonization, the ascension of the United States to world power and the gradual decline of scientific socialism, as well as the two world wars. "The Great War jumpstarted the destinies of the two future Cold War Superpowers. It made the United States the global embodiment of capitalism and it made Russia a Soviet Union, a permanent challenge to the capitalist world." Westad also makes the thought-provoking claim, rather unusual in a book on the Cold War, that

it is therefore quite possible that the Cold War will be reduced in significance by future historians, who from their vantage point will attach more significance to the origins of Asian economic power, or the beginning of space exploration, or the eradication of smallpox.

Westad proceeds from there through all the stops along the way to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Separate chapters examine India, China, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as summaries of Richard Nixon's diplomacy and the reigns of Kennedy, Brezhnev and Gorbachev. That he manages to do all this in largely sequential fashion is doubly impressive.

The Cold War evinces a lifetime of research and thought on the subject. Compelling ideas and valuable insights appear frequently, such as: "In spite of their attractiveness on a global scale, neither the Soviet nor the US system was ever fully replicated elsewhere." Or the explanation for communism's appeal in Vietnam: "One reason, ironically, was the integration of Vietnamese elites into French culture and education, from whence the post-1914 generation took over the radicalization that was prevalent among French youth, too." Or: "In Asia as in Europe, US policy in the early Cold War was more oriented toward the expansion of capitalism as such than toward a unique preservation of US national economic advantage or the interests of specific US companies."

Westad's assessment is that some sort of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was inevitable once the common foe of Nazi Germany was extinguished. "Leaders of the two countries had seen each other as adversaries ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917, and in some cases even before that," he writes. Illustrative of his measured approach throughout the book, Westad assigns blame for the conflict to both parties, though not so much that he is unable to make moral distinctions. Stalin's determination to establish control in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, contributed greatly to the breakdown of good relations with Britain and the United States. But, he writes, "it was containment that made postwar conflict into a Cold War." The United States was unwilling to grant the Soviets a traditional sphere of influence, let alone see them as a comparable power deserving of commensurate respect. Seen from 2017, it might seem absurd that so many Europeans, even in England, looked upon the Soviet Union with admiration and gratitude. But, however much Americans like to forget it, it was the Red Army that "tore the guts out of the German military machine," in Winston Churchill's colorful phrase.

Westad faults Truman for being unwilling or unable to extend Franklin Roosevelt's friendly policy toward the USSR. Stalin might have hunkered down and developed foreign-policy paranoia regardless of Truman's behavior, he concedes. "But the intensity of the conflict, including the paranoia that it later produced on both sides, might have been significantly reduced if more attempts had been made by the stronger power to entice Moscow toward forms of cooperation." This is somewhat unfair to Truman. The day he was sworn in as president after Roosevelt's death, Truman said in a statement he intended "to carry on as he believed the President would have done." There is little reason to doubt his sincerity. In From Roosevelt to Truman , University of Notre Dame professor Wilson Miscamble credibly argued that Truman began his presidency with open-mindedness toward the Soviets but was convinced by events that cooperation was impossible. He wasn't alone.

ASIA, MEANWHILE , experienced rapid decolonization. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were resolutely opposed to traditional European imperialism, however much they acted as imperialist powers in their own regions. Combined with the destitution of the former colonial powers, this meant that Asian nations were freer to pursue their own destinies. Of course, in Japan and Korea, those destinies were determined by their occupiers, who molded these societies in their own images. It is a sign of Westad's attentiveness to facts that, without ever succumbing to anything resembling American chauvinism, he can write something as direct as: "The Korean War came from Stalin's change of mind. If he had not given the go-ahead to Kim, there would have been no war."

Westad betrays no romanticism toward the Soviet Union or its communist admirers -- that might seem like a low bar, but there are still scholars like Bruce Cumings who look fondly on the Marxist regimes -- but the book makes the clear-eyed observation,

Only by industrializing fast could a country become socialist and modern. The policy had an obvious appeal: in countries on the European periphery, where there was a profound sense of having fallen behind, and in countries outside of Europe, such as China, Korea, and Vietnam, rapid industrialization seemed indeed to be the way forward.

Westad might have added that the Soviet Communist Party's untouchable command of power was similarly appealing to political leaders and intellectuals worldwide.

Immediately prior to The Cold War , Westad's latest book was a study of China's foreign policy since 1750. His mastery of the subject is evident in a chapter called "China's Scourge." It is valuable not only for a discussion of how the Chinese Communist Party managed to win the civil war against the Nationalists, but also for a succinct reminder of why and how swiftly relations dissolved between the CCP and the Soviets. "The Soviet assistance program for China was not only the biggest Moscow ever undertook outside its own borders," Westad writes. "It was also, in relative terms, the biggest such program undertaken by any country anywhere, including the US Marshall Plan for Europe." Within a decade following this generosity, they almost fought a nuclear war.

Similarly incisive here is a chapter on India. Often neglected in general histories of the Cold War, India was for a while the leader of the Non-Aligned nations. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was progressive, but intent on keeping his newly independent country truly independent. This, of course, infuriated the Americans, for whom any friendliness with the USSR was interpreted as hostility to them. And yet, when India's moral purity conflicted with its conflict with China, nationalism prevailed, leading to a brief war. "In spite of its many efforts, even a country as a significant as India was never able to fully break away from the global conflict molding its policies," Westad concludes.

WESTAD ALSO wrote a book on the fall of détente, for which he distinctly blames Americans. "Nixon and Kissinger had gone further in attempting to manage the Cold War together with the Soviet Union than most Americans were willing to accept," he writes. "Most Americans were simply not willing to tolerate that the United States could have an equal in international affairs, in the 1970s or ever." This is where Gaddis's immersion in American documents might have been helpful. Most Americans, at least on the anti-détente side, were worried not that the Soviet Union was at parity with the United States, but that it had actually exceeded America's capabilities. However wrongheaded and overly alarmist that perspective was, its importance in explaining American behavior should not be overlooked.

Indeed, Westad's decision to reduce the research shown to the readers in this book makes some of his unorthodox judgments difficult to credit. Most conspicuously, Westad assesses Dwight Eisenhower harshly, but without offering enough support for his claims. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the evaluation of Ike was decidedly mixed. He was too complacent, it was said, too moderate and timid. He favored a strategic posture built around nuclear weapons that led to an arms race. He failed to confront Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism. He initiated the first of many ill-considered CIA interventions in foreign countries, in Guatemala and Iran. And he added a religious dimension to the Cold War, which elevated the conflict beyond the already-dangerous levels that existed when he took power in 1953.

That perception gave way in the 1980s to a consideration that Eisenhower was not complacent, but subtle. The opening of archives in the 1970s convinced many that his was, as the political scientist Fred Greenstein put it in his 1982 book of the same name, "the hidden-hand presidency." The popular historian Stephen Ambrose did much to further this view, first in 1981's Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment , and then in a biography, released in two volumes in 1983 and 1984. (Writing in the New Republic in 2006, the journalist John Judis observed that Ambrose's books "changed many a liberal's view of the general," counting himself among them.)

The revisionist view of Eisenhower has now become orthodoxy. He routinely numbers among historians' rankings of the top ten presidents. Far from sharing the contemporary perception of him as popular but ineffectual -- "It's just like Eisenhower. The worse I do, the more popular I get," JFK said after the Bay of Pigs disaster -- we like Ike as much as the people who wore his campaign buttons. Celebrity architect Frank Gehry designed an Eisenhower memorial that Congress has funded to the tune of $100 million, to sit across from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, on Washington's Independence Avenue.

Most scholars lean toward the view that Ike was a first-rate Cold War strategist. He balanced the budget thrice, halting the unsustainable economic and military buildup that resulted from the Korean War. He set diplomatic precedents by meeting with Soviet leaders and organizing purposeful summits. And he outflanked domestic hysteria, establishing a bipartisan commitment to a strategy of containment. Predominant is the view expressed by Robert Bowie and Richard Immerman in their book, Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped a Cold War Strategy :

Later events . . . have enhanced appreciation of his prudent and sober judgment. In a turbulent and dangerous stage of East-West relations, with an untested and erratic Soviet leadership and a changing strategic environment, Eisenhower managed a succession of crises and set a course that preserved both security and peace.

Westad will have none of it. "Intent to move away from the Cold War as a national emergency, Eisenhower ended up institutionalizing it as policy and doctrine," he writes. "On the Korean War, the new president simply got lucky. . . . The turn toward a policy of massive nuclear retaliation meant preparing for strategic warfare on a scale that so far had seemed unimaginable." Pages later, he adds,

If the president was not a Cold War hysteric, neither was he someone who could conceive of a world without the confrontation with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower lacked the imagination and political will to think about ending the Cold War after Stalin's death. This is a provocative portrayal of Eisenhower, a welcome antidote to the revisionism that can approach hagiography. But it is undercut by Westad's slight documentation.

Cold War triumphalism has had pernicious effects on American foreign policy. A straight line can be drawn from the idea that Ronald Reagan's military buildup and assertive rhetoric ended the Cold War to the fantasy that the United States could rebuild the Middle East. The prominence of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration was due largely to the widespread belief that they had been right in seeing the transformative potential of American power during the Cold War. Though Donald Trump was able, in the Republican primaries in 2016, to counter delusions of American omnipotence with delusions of American seclusion, the messianic streak still runs strong in the Republican Party and in segments of the Democratic Party. Its absence in current political debates should be seen as temporary. When it inevitably arises again, trouble will ensue. "We all lost the cold war," Gorbachev once said. The difficulty arises when one party thinks it won.

Jordan Michael Smith is the author of the Kindle single Humanity: How Jimmy Carter Lost an Election and Transformed the Post-Presidency .

[Sep 08, 2019] Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: Hoisted from the Archives

Sep 08, 2019 | www.bradford-delong.com

Hoisted from the Archives : Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War :

*Also, almost surely an "Agent of Influence" and perhaps an out-and-out spy for Stalin's Russia. If so, never did any intelligence service receive worse service from an agent than Stalin's Russia did from Harry Dexter White....

Donald Pretari said...

I'm reading "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Princeton University Press))" by Benn Steil and wanted to share this quote with you.

"As regards the economics White advocated, they were hardly Marxist. They were by this time what would be described as thoroughly Keynesian. He insisted that government should take an active role in supporting economic activity; certainly more so than was orthodox before the Great Depression, but he never pushed for broad government control of the means of production. His writings on international monetary affairs express a concern with the need to fashion a system that "reduces the necessity of restrictions on private enterprise."As for White's domestic politics, these were mainstream New Deal progressive, and there is no evidence that he admired communism as a political ideology." Reply February 15, 2019 at 12:49

jorgensen said...

Vannevar Bush pushed for government support of science after the Second World War and should get some credit for America's scientific dominance through the Cold War. Reply February 16, 2019 at 15:38

andres said... The above list is old hat, so to speak. I would add the following two lists:

Russians Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War (for both sides):

1. Georgi Zhukov (Was an unbelievable s.o.b. during WWII, but did the right thing having the Red Army side with Khruschev and Malenkov against Beria).
2. Nikita Khruschev (secret speech, ousting of Stalin's old cronies and final unwillingness to go to war over Cuba outweigh Hungary and U-2 incident, imo).
3. Aleksandr Solshenitsyn (self-explanatory).
4. Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago is a better read than The Gulag Archipelago).
5. Roy Medvedev (Let History Judge).
6. Vasili Arkhipov (Don't Push the Button I).
7. Andrei Sakharov (self-explanatory).
8. Stanislav Petrov (Don't Push the Button II).
9. Mikhail Gorbachev (glasnost plus withdrawal from Afghanistan).
10. Boris Yeltsin (lousy president, but energetic opposition to August 1991 coup was vital).

Americans Who Tried Their Best to Make the U.S. Lose the Cold War.

1. Douglas MacArthur.
2. John Foster Dulles.
3. Allen Dulles.
4. Barry Goldwater.
5. Robert McNamara/McGeorge Bundy/Maxwell Taylor/W.W. Rostow (joint award for Vietnam)
6. William Westmoreland (made it even worse).
7. Richard Nixon (carpet bomber in chief, plus undermined 1968 Vietnam peace talks).
8. Henry Kissinger (took over from JF Dulles as military coup enabler in chief, and nearly pushed India to Russia's side after giving a blank check to Pakistan).
9. Ronald Reagan (was clearly pointed toward WWIII before Schultz and GHW Bush brought him around).

(There are lots more, but I've tried to limit the list to those who were either in the executive branch or came close (Goldwater). LBJ could also be included, but it is still being argued whether he led his cabinet or his cabinet led him into Vietnam). Reply February 16, 2019 at 22:52

[Sep 07, 2019] "Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have 'conspired' with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence.

Sep 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Tunga , 12 minutes ago link

Oh those securities!

""Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have 'conspired' with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence. These securities, originally managed by Cantor Fitzgerald, were cleared and settled in the aftermath of September 11th

through the BoNY. The $100 billion account balance bubble reported by the Wall Street Journalas being experienced in the BoNY was tip of a three day operation, when these securities were moved from off-balance-sheet to the balance sheet.

Tunga , 12 minutes ago link

https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/epr/02v08n2/0211flempdf.pdf

pparalegal , 3 minutes ago link

Oops. Building 7 and all the records gone in a collapsed vertical pancake. What a shame.

[Sep 02, 2019] The Russian Oligarchs by Lawrence Bush

Notable quotes:
"... By the late 1990s, national income had fallen by more than 50 percent(compare that with the 27 percent drop in output during the great American depression), investment by 80 percent, real wages by half, and meat and dairy herds by 75 percent. . . . while epidemics of cholera and typhus . . . re-emerged, millions of children suffer[ed] from malnutrition and adult life expectancy . . . plunged." Several of the oligarchs were prosecuted and harassed by Putin's government between 2000 and 2004, before an unofficial agreement was struck to permit most of them to keep their lives and their fortunes as long as they demurred from opposing Putin's political power. ..."
intpolicydigest.org
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of fraud related to his control of Siberian oil fields through his Yukos corporation and was sentenced to nine years in prison on this date in 2005. Khodorkovsky, who was behind bars until Vladimir Putin pardoned him in 2013, is half-Jewish (on his father's side).

Many of the Russian oligarchs, most of whom exploited their political connections during the privatization years under Boris Yeltsin's highly corrupt government to become hugely wealthy, are similarly half-Jewish or Jewish, including Boris Berezovsky, who took over Russia's main television channel and died under uncertain circumstances (likely suicide) in 2013; Alexander Abramov, a steel magnate; Mikhail Fridman, a banker; Roman Abramovich, a younger billionaire investor; Viktor Vekselberg, an aluminum tycoon; and Leonid Mikhelson, a natural-gas billionaire, and a half-dozen others.

The shock-capitalism that vaulted these men to the Forbes list of billionaires is known in Russia as the katastroika and "brought in its wake mass pauperisation and unemployment," writes Seumas Milne in The Guardian , "wild extremes of inequality; rampant crime; virulent antisemitism and ethnic violence; combined with legalised gangsterism on a heroic scale and precipitous looting of public assets. . . .

By the late 1990s, national income had fallen by more than 50 percent(compare that with the 27 percent drop in output during the great American depression), investment by 80 percent, real wages by half, and meat and dairy herds by 75 percent. . . . while epidemics of cholera and typhus . . . re-emerged, millions of children suffer[ed] from malnutrition and adult life expectancy . . . plunged." Several of the oligarchs were prosecuted and harassed by Putin's government between 2000 and 2004, before an unofficial agreement was struck to permit most of them to keep their lives and their fortunes as long as they demurred from opposing Putin's political power.

"The oligarchs, idiotically rich in a country that was largely poor, and given to parading their wealth in a manner that makes American hip-hoppers look like an especially reticent community of Amish farmers, could certainly have given any former Soviet citizen pause to wonder, as he queued for beetroot, what the proletarian revolution had been for. The oligarchs, not content with buying companies, villas, yachts, planes and the most beautiful of Russia's beautiful women, also bought power. In 1996, they connived to engineer the re-election of the politically and physically ailing Boris Yeltsin. In 2000, they helped steer Yeltsin's successor into power -- Vladimir Putin, a saturnine former spook with the KGB, and its descendant organisation, the FSB. This, as Russian Godfathers demonstrates, may have been the moment at which the oligarchs out-clevered themselves." –Andrew Mueller, The Guardian

[Aug 30, 2019] Hollywood reboots Russophobia for the New Cold War by Max Parry

See also National Security Cinema The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood by Matthew Alford
Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

It is apparent that the caricature of the Soviet Union in both productions is really a stand-in for the present-day Russian government under Vladimir Putin. As only American exceptionalism could permit, Hollywood did not hold the same disdain for his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, whose legacy of high inflation and national debt have since been eliminated. In fact, most have forgotten that the same filmdom community outraged about Russia's supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election made a celebratory movie back in 2003, Spinning Boris , which practically boasted about the instrumental role the West played in Yeltsin's 1996 reelection in Russia.

The highly unpopular alcoholic politician benefited from a near universal media bias as virtually all the federation's news outlets came under the control of the 'oligarchs' (in America known simply as billionaires) which his economic policies of mass privatization of state industry enriched overnight.

Yeltsin initially polled at less than 10% and was far behind Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov until he became the recipient of billions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) thanks to his corrupt campaign manager, Anatoly Chubais, now one of the most hated men in all of Russia. After the purging of votes and rampant ballot-box stuffing, Yeltsin successfully closed the gap between his opponent thanks to the overt U.S. meddling.

Spinning Boris was directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who previously helmed an installment in the James Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies . The 1997 entry in the franchise is one of thousands of Hollywood films and network television shows exposed by journalists Matthew Alford and Tom Secker as having been influenced or directly assisted by the Pentagon and CIA in their must-read book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood. Based on evidence from documents revealed in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, their investigation divulges the previously unknown extent to which the national security complex has gone in exerting control over content in the film industry. While it has always been known that the military held sway over movies that required usage of its facilities and equipment to be produced, the level of impact on such films in the pre-production and editing stages, as well as the control over non-military themed flicks one wouldn't suspect to be under supervision by Washington and Langley, is exhaustively uncovered.

As expected, Hollywood and the military-industrial complex's intimate relationship during the Cold War is featured prominently in Alford and Secker's investigative work. It is unclear whether HBO or Netflix sought US military assistance or were directly involved with the national security state in their respective productions, but these are just two recent examples of many where the correlated increase in geopolitical tensions with Moscow is reflected. The upcoming sequel to DC's Wonder Woman set to be released next year , Wonder Woman 1984, featuring the female superhero " coming into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s ", is yet another. Reprising her role is Israeli actress and IDF veteran is Gal Gadot as the title character, ironically starring in a blockbuster that will demonize the Eurasian state which saved her ethnicity from extinction. Given the Pentagon's involvement in the debacle surounding 2014's The Interview which provoked very real tensions with North Korea, it is likely they are at least closely examining any entertainment with content regarding Russia, if not directly pre-approving it for review.

Ultimately, the Western panic about its imperial decline is not limited to assigning blame to Moscow. Sinophobia has manifested as well in recent films such as the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival where the extra-terrestrials who reach Earth seem more interested in communicating with Beijing as the global superpower than the U.S. However, while the West forebodes the return of Russia and China to greater standing, you can be certain its real fear lies elsewhere. The fact that Chernobyl and Stranger Things are as preoccupied with portraying socialism in a bad light as they are in rendering Moscow nefarious shows the real underlying trepidation of the ruling elite that concerns the resurgence of class consciousness. The West must learn its lesson that its state of perpetual war has caused its own downfall or it could attempt a last line of defense that would inevitably conscript all of humanity to its death as the ruling class nearly did to the world in 1914 and 1939.

[Jul 06, 2019] In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. ..."
"... In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution. ..."
"... They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution). ..."
"... So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. ..."
Jul 03, 2019 | theamericanconservative.com

Douglas K 3 days ago • edited

To this day, Maher's response still leaves me dumbfounded: "I would say that's a secular religion." Before Douthat could ask what the hell a secular religion is, Maher changed the subject. The meaning of Maher's nonsensical statement was clear: everything Maher doesn't like is religion.

Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. Sure, they didn't use God or angels or miracles in their rhetoric, but that's just surface trappings.

In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution.

They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution).

So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. No, they didn't include personified invisible spirits in their ideology. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ....

[Jun 30, 2019] Khrushchev and Mao

Notable quotes:
"... Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution. ..."
"... It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Priss Factor , says: Website June 29, 2019 at 12:04 am GMT

Abrams is giving the West too much credit for the Sino-Soviet rift of the late 5os and 60s.

That was NOT the doing of the CIA or Western Europe. It was 90% the fault of Mao who tried to shove Khrushchev aside as the head of world communism. Because Stalin had treated Mao badly, Khrushchev wanted to make amends and treated Mao with respect. But Mao turned out to be a total a-hole. There are two kinds of people: Those who appreciate friendly gestures and those who seek kindness as 'weakness'.

It's like Hitler saw Chamberlain's offer as weakness and pushed ahead. Being kind is nice, but one should never be kind to psychopaths, and Khrushchev was nice to the wrong person.

Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution.

He also ignored Soviet advice not to attempt radical economic policies (that were soon to bring China to economic ruin -- at least Stalin's collectivization led to rise of industry; in contrast, Mao managed to destroy both agriculture and heavy industry).

When Stalin was alive, he didn't treat Mao with any respect, and Mao disliked Stalin but still respected him because Mao understood Power. With Stalin gone, Khrushchev showed Mao some respect, but Mao felt no respect for Khrushchev who was regarded as a weakling and sucker.

It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising.

Anyway, Putin and Xi, perhaps having grown up in less turbulent times, are more stable and mature in character and temperament than Mao and Khrushchev. They don't see the Russo-China relations as a zero sum game of ego but a way for which both sides can come to the table halfway, which is all one can hope for.

[Jun 26, 2019] Black Markets Show How Socialists Can't Overturn Economic Laws Zero Hedge

Jun 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Black Markets Show How Socialists Can't Overturn Economic Laws

by Tyler Durden Tue, 06/25/2019 - 22:45 3 SHARES

Authored by Allen Gindler via The Mises Institute,

If we consider economics to be an objective science, its rules should also have universal significance and use, despite differences in societal order. However, socialists of the materialist camp are committed to the idea that common ownership of the means of production would change the way economic laws unfold under socialism. Basically, they reject the notion of the universality and objectivity of economic rules by suggesting that the laws would change along with a change to the social formation.

Thus, communists adhered to the Marxian idea that socialism would rectify a "surplus value" law, end the "exploitation" of workers, and efficiently regulate the production, distribution, and consumption aspects of the economy. They sought to eliminate the market regulatory mechanism and replace it with directives of the central planning authority. Bolsheviks enthusiastically got down to business: they eradicated private property, collectivized everything and everyone, and implemented an official planned economy.

Did it effectively turn off market relations as they thought it would?

No. In contrast to the common perception, socialism has been unable to kill the market economy. The market went underground and turned into a black market. Black markets existed in capitalist countries as well, but they worked underground because they dealt in illegal commodities and services. The black market under socialism served the same purpose, but the list of commodities and services included mostly items of everyday and innocent consumption that people under capitalism could easily purchase in stores. Virtually all groups of personal consumption products found their way to the black market at some time and in some places. Everything from jar lids to toilet paper was subject to black-market relations.

Despite the proclaimed planned economy, people were engaged in market relations on all levels and trusted more the price of the goods and services that were established by the market and not dictated by the government. The official exchange rate of the ruble to the dollar was 0.66 to 1 in 1980. But nobody except party nomenclature was able to enjoy such a favorable exchange rate. At the same time, the black market offered 4 rubles for 1 American dollar.

There was no production of jeans in the Soviet Union, but like all their peers abroad, Soviet youth wore jeans. The price was 180–250 rubles for a pair depending on the brand, which was almost twice as much as the monthly wage of an entry-level engineer. A visiting nurse charged 1 ruble for one injection if a patient lived below the fifth floor. The price reached 1.5 rubles for patients who lived on the fifth floor and up. A plumber happily repaired a faucet for just a bottle of vodka.

Two Prices for Everything

Therefore, in the Soviet Union, any significant goods had two price tags: one real and another virtual. The state set the first price through some obscure methods; the usual mechanism of supply and demand established the second price on the market. If you were lucky, after several hours of standing in a queue, you could purchase goods at the state price. However, due to the chronic lack of everything for everyone, the same product could be bought on the black market at a much higher price. The virtual price became real on the black market and reflected the actual value of the goods for the buyer. The presence of two price tags is a confirmation of the thesis of Ludwig von Mises regarding the impossibility of economic calculations under socialism. At the same time, this is proof of the immortality and immutability of the economic laws of the free market, even under a totalitarian regime. Therefore, two economic systems and two sets of prices co-exist under socialism.

People were forced to use the services of the black market, even under the penalty of severe punishment, including up to the death penalty. Almost the entire society was engaged in various corruption schemes to support a certain standard of living. There was a paradoxical situation when the shelves of the supermarkets were empty, but refrigerators at home were more or less full. The black market was filled with smuggled goods from abroad, as well as commodities produced in underground workshops. But more often, everyday products were specifically kept from retail to create a shortage and sell them on the black market at a speculative price. Socialism had undermined the normal flows of production, distribution, and consumption by ignoring the objective laws of economics. Nevertheless, an underground market and the intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit of the people helped them survive the socialist madness.

Regardless of the proclaimed successes of the Soviet economy reported by Communist party leaders, the socialist economy was unable to compete with its capitalist counterparts. Communists decided to create a system that somehow mimicked the work that a free market had successfully and automatically performed for centuries. Thus, they introduced socialist competition that was supposed to replace free market competition. Surely enough, it was an inadequate and unfortunate replacement. The rewards for winners in the capitalist competition were far higher than for the winners under socialism. For example, the capitalist winner enjoyed a significant increase in well-being.

Moreover, the principal winner of the free market competition was society as a whole. This is a natural feature of a free market economy and the main reason why the evolution of human societies selected this mode of production. A competition during socialism gave to the winners some publicity, a certificate of honor, maybe a trip to a "sanatorium" (that is, a health spa), and other bagatelles that people usually did not appreciate. But most importantly, society as a whole did not enjoy a significant improvement in well-being.

People were not sufficiently stimulated and were underpaid, which explained the lower labor productivity compared to capitalist countries. Moreover, this is despite the notion that the means of production, at last, belong to the workers themselves. People had a famous saying that can be considered the quintessence of Soviet-style socialism: "They [the government] pretend to pay, and we pretend to work."

Socialism is a set of systems that try to artificially inhibit the free flow of objective economic laws by creating subjective barriers in the form of specific legislation and punitive policies . Socialists mistakenly think that if they assault private property and market relations, the economic laws will also change. They have taken up the task which, in principle, has no rational solution. Nothing good comes from the idea of ignoring or violating the fundamental laws of economics. These laws still exist, regardless of opinions and neglect to recognize their real character and the impossibility of changing them.

Socialism disrupts the evolutionary process and leads society to a dead end. The desperate economic situation of ordinary folks in Venezuela , Cuba , and North Korea -- the remnants of socialist undertakings -- is a direct result of building a society in defiance of the natural action of the fundamental law of economics. As a rule, socialist regimes were buying time by employing slave labor, plunder, coercion, and everything else that an aggressive totalitarian regime could offer. However, in the end, the means of socialistic life support was exhausted, and than returning to the natural and healthy market relations, where the laws of economics work for the benefit of the human race.

The same laws of market economics have worked in different human societies: from pre-historic to post-industrial, but still socialists continue to entertain the idea of tampering with these forces of nature.

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[Jun 23, 2019] A modern example is the oligarchs who carved up the commons in a collapsing and disintegrating Soviet Union

Notable quotes:
"... It's not entrepreneurial; it's base rent-seeking and it was a violent act of forced approbriation by denying natural rights to others. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 06:27

@johncj

So easy to say when you so blithely ignore the historical injustices, the inequality of opportunity and the theft - the first person to claim a parcel of land as their own exclusive property was committing an act of theft.

It's not entrepreneurial; it's base rent-seeking and it was a violent act of forced approbriation by denying natural rights to others.

The subsequent claims to title are enforced by the threat of violence through the emergence of a pervasive state.

A modern example is the oligarchs who carved up the commons in a collapsing and disintegrating Soviet Union. Their's was an act of theft committed against society and the common good. Your definition of freedom is predicated on theft and is a denial of natural freedoms,

[Jun 21, 2019] The shadow economy in the USSR how it all began

Jun 21, 2019 | weaponews.com

The question about the causes of the collapse and destruction of the Soviet Union – is not idle. It does not lose its relevance today, 22 years after occurred the death of the Soviet Union . Why? because some on the basis of this event concluded that, say, the capitalist model of the economy more competitive, more efficient and has no alternatives. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama after the collapse of the Soviet Union even hastened to declare that it was the "End of history": humanity has reached the highest and last stage of its development in the form of a universal, global capitalism. The relevance of studying the shadow economy, ssco opinion of this kind of political scientists, sociologists and economists, discussing the socialist economic model does not deserve attention.

Better to focus on improving the capitalist model of the economy, i. E. A model that targets all members of society to the enrichment, and a means of enrichment (profit) is the exploitation of one person by another. However, there are such "Natural" attributes of the capitalist model of social and income inequality, competition, cyclical crises, bankruptcies, unemployment and the like. All proposed improvements are aimed only at mitigating the inhuman consequences of capitalism that is reminiscent of utopian attempts to limit the appetite of a wolf devouring a sheep. We proceed from the fact that the key socio-economic characteristics of the socialist model are welfare for all members of society (goal), public ownership of the means of production (the main means), income generation solely for labor, planned nature of the economy, centralization of management, command positions of the state in the economy, the social consumption funds, the limited nature of commodity-money relations and so on. While this refers to the well-being not only in the form of products and services that are vital (biological) needs of the person.

This would also include public safety and defense, education, culture, conditions of work and rest. Of course, socialism – not only the economy and social relations. It also implies a certain type of political power, ideology, a high level of spiritually-moral development of society and another. High moral and spiritual requests should assume that there are higher goals in relation to socio-economic objectives.

But let's focus now is on the socio-economic aspect of the socialist model. So the erosion of the socialist model began long before the tragic events of december 1991, when it signed the infamous agreement on the division of the ussr in the bialowieza forest. It was already the final act of the political order. It is not only the date of death of the ussr, and date of full legalization of a new socio-economic model, which is called "Capitalism". However, implicitly capitalism germinated in the depths of soviet society for nearly three decades.

The soviet economy de facto has acquired the traits of a mixed. It combined socialist and capitalist structures. However, some foreign researchers and politicians said that de facto in the Soviet Union there was a complete restoration of capitalism in the 1960-ies – 1970-ies. The restoration of capitalism was linked to the emergence and development in the bowels of the ussr the so-called shadow or "Second" economy.

In particular, in the early 1960-ies member of the german communist party willy dickhut began publishing their articles, which stated that since coming to power in our country n. With. Khrushchev happened (not started, but it happened!) the restoration of capitalism in the ussr. The shadow economy functioned on the principles different from the socialist. Anyway, she was tied to corruption, embezzlement of state property, receipt of unearned income, in violation of the laws (or use of "Holes" in the legislation). Not to be confused with the shadow economy "Informal" economy, which is not contrary to the laws and principles of the socialist system, but complemented the economy "Official".

First of all, this self-employment – for example, the work of the farmer on the plot or the citizen in his summer cottage. And in the best of times (under stalin) widely developed the so-called fishing cooperation, which was occupied by production of consumer goods and services. In the Soviet Union state and party authorities chose to ignore the phenomenon of the shadow economy. No, of course, the police had uncovered and suppressed various operations in the sphere of the shadow economy. But the leaders of the ussr, commenting on this kind of history, fobbed off with phrases such as "Exception", "Some shortcomings", "Defects", "Bugs" and the like.

For example, in the early 1960-ies of the then first deputy of the ussr council of ministers anastas mikoyan has identified black market in the Soviet Union as "A handful of some dirty foam appearing on the surface of our society. "The shadow economy of the ussr: acincinnati some serious research shadow ("Second") economy in the ussr was conducted until the late 1980-ies. Abroad, such studies came first. First of all we should mention the work of american sociologist gregory grossman (university of california), which was called "Destructive independence. The historical role of genuine trends in soviet society".

She became widely known after was published in 1988 in the book "The light at the end of the tunnel" (university of berkeley, edited by stephen f. Cohen). However, the first article of grossman on this topic appeared in 1977 and was called "The second economy in the ussr (journal problems of communism, september-october 1977). You can also mention the book emigrated to the United States , the soviet lawyer konstantin simis "Corruption in the Soviet Union – the secret underground world of soviet capitalism", published in 1982. The author in the 1970-ies is closely in contact with some shady businessman, a lawyer which he performed at the trials.

However, quantitative assessments of shadow ("Second") economy k. Simes does not. Later appeared the work of american sociologists and economists of Russian origin Vladimir tremlia and michael alexeev. Since 1985, gregory grossman and Vladimir treml produce periodic collections of the "Second economy" of the ussr. Releases continued until 1993, only 51 were published a study involving 26 authors.

Many studies represented surveys of families of immigrants from the Soviet Union (a total of 1061 family). To studies have also used surveys of emigrants from other socialist countries, the official statistics of the ussr, publications in mass media and scientific journals of the Soviet Union . Despite the differences in some quantitative estimates of the individual authors, these differences were not fundamental. The differences arose due to the fact that some authors considered "Informal economy", the other – the shadow economy; however, their definitions of both economies could not match. Here are some results of these studies. 1.

In 1979 the illicit manufacture of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages, as well as speculative resale of alcoholic beverages produced in the "First economy", provided the income, equal to 2. 2% of gnp (gross national product). 2. In the late 1970-ies in the ussr was flourishing black market gasoline. From 33 to 65% of purchases of gasoline in urban areas of the country, individual owners of cars had petrol sold by drivers of public enterprises and organizations (gasoline were sold at a price below the state). 3. In the soviet hairdresser 'left' incomes exceeded the amounts that customers have paid through cash.

This is just one example of what some state-owned enterprises de facto belonged to the "Second" economy. 4. In 1974 the share of employment in private and home gardens accounted for almost a third of the total working time in agriculture. And this was almost 10% of the total working time in the soviet economy. 5. In the 1970-ies, about a quarter of agricultural products produced on private plots, much of it was directed at kolkhoz markets. 6.

In the late 1970's, around 30% of all income of the urban population was obtained through various types of private activity – both legal and illegal. 7. By the end of 1970-ies the proportion of people employed in the "Second economy", reached 10-12% of the total workforce in the ussr. At the end of 1980-ies there appeared a number of works on the shadow and "Second" economy in the ussr. First and foremost is the publication of the soviet economist tatyana results and director of the research institute of the state planning commission valery rutgajzer. Here is the data from the t.

The results of the "Shadow economy of the ussr". The annual value of illegally produced goods and services in the early 1960-ies amounted to about 5 billion rubles, and in the end of 1980-ies was already reached 90 billion rubles. At current prices, the gnp of the ussr was (in billions of rubles): in 1960 – 195; in 1990, 701. Thus, the economy of the ussr for thirty years has increased 3. 6 times, and the shadow economy – 14 times.

If in 1960 the shadow economy relative to official gdp was 3. 4%, while by 1988 this figure rose to 20%. However, in 1990 it was equal to 12. 5%. This decline was due to changes in soviet legislation, which transferred to discharge a legal a range of economic activities, which were previously considered illegal. The number of employed in the shadow economy, estimated to be the results, in the beginning of 1960-ies was 6 million people, and in 1974 their number increased to 17-20 million people (6-7% of the population). In 1989, the such shadow was already 30 million people, or 12% of the population of the ussr. The threats and consequences of the development of the shadow economy in sssri american and soviet researchers pay attention to some features of the shadow economy and its impact on the overall situation in the Soviet Union .

[Jun 14, 2019] From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnik

Jun 14, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al June 7, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Financial Crimes: From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnik
https://www.ft.com/content/c1889f48-871a-11e9-a028-86cea8523dc2

He made a fortune in the chaotic world of 1990s Russian capitalism, then took a place at the heart of the British establishment

Striding the halls of an English stately home, dressed in full costume as Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, Len Blavatnik was celebrating his 60th birthday. Grammy-winner Bruno Mars sang. Guests -- some in frock coats, others dressed as Leo Tolstoy, Rasputin or Chinese emissaries -- mixed with rock stars, celebrities and business tycoons.

Themed as an imaginary conference chaired by Disraeli, the June 2017 party was emblematic of Blavatnik's extraordinary rise from his birth in Soviet Ukraine to one of the UK's richest people
####

A lot more at the link.

So why did Abramovic get the bum rush? He's kept his head down, not made waves, behaved himself and spent a lot of money in the UK (Chelsea FC) which the above FT article sniffs at as unworthy (snobs), but the Brit government still stiffed his visa and he hasn't been back to the UK even though he now also has I-sraeli citizenship that affords him visa-free entry to the UK. Is it because the UK and others need some oligarchs on the side just in case their dream comes true and they need to parachute in some reliable Russians? That wouldn't surprise me. Government in waiting. Maybe Abramovic said "No." Wrong answer.

moscowexile June 8, 2019 at 11:57 pm
Parachute in some reliable Russians ???

You mean "Sir" Leonard Blavatnik?

Леонид Валентинович Блаватник (Сэр Леонард Блаватник; англ. Sir Leonard Blavatnik или Len Blavatnik; род. 14 июня 1957, Одесса -- американский и британский предприниматель и промышленник еврейского происхождения. В 2015 году возглавил список богатейших людей Великобритании Russian Wiki

Leonid Valentinovich Blavatnik (Sir Leonard Blavatnik or Len Blavatnik); born 14 June 1957, Odessa – American and British entrepreneur and industrialist of Jewish ancestry. In 2015, headed a list of the richest people in Great Britain

[May 22, 2019] The KGB plotters of 1991 had thought that post-Communist Russia would be treated by the West like the prodigal son, with a fattened calf being slaughtered for the welcome feast. To their disappointment, the stupid bastards discovered that their country was to play the part of the fattened calf at the feast, and they were turned from unseen rulers into billionaires' bodyguards

May 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm GMT 100 Words This is good writing: "The KGB plotters of 1991 had thought that post-Communist Russia would be treated by the West like the prodigal son, with a fattened calf being slaughtered for the welcome feast. To their disappointment, the stupid bastards discovered that their country was to play the part of the fattened calf at the feast, and they were turned from unseen rulers into billionaires' bodyguards.

Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm GMT Andropov's mother was Jewish.

[Apr 08, 2019] Has Privatization Benefitted the Public naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Privatization typically enriches the politically connected few who secure lucrative rents by sacrificing the national or public interest for private profit, even when privatization may not seem to benefit them. ..."
"... For example, following Russian voucher privatization and other Western recommended reforms, for which there was a limited domestic constituency then, within three years (1992-1994), the Russian economy had collapsed by half, and adult male life expectancy fell by six years. It was the greatest such recorded catastrophe in the last six millennia of recorded human history. ..."
"... Soon, a couple of dozen young Russian oligarchs had taken over the commanding heights of the Russian economy; many then monetized their gains and invested abroad, migrating to follow their new wealth. Much of this was celebrated by the Western media as economic progress. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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<img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Has Privatization Benefitted the Public? Posted on April 7, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. Another succinct post by Jomo Kwame Sundaram that makes clear the "benefits" of privatization are not evenly distributed, and in fact, typically, "many are even worse off" when the government chooses to transfer ownership of the family silver.

Note that SOE is the acronym for state owned enterprise.

For those interested in the topic, see also another short post by the same author from last September, debunking other arguments to promote the privatization fairy, Revisiting Privatization's Claims .

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service

In most cases of privatization, some outcomes benefit some, which serves to legitimize the change. Nevertheless, overall net welfare improvements are the exception, not the rule.

Never is everyone better off. Rather, some are better off, while others are not, and typically, many are even worse off. The partial gains are typically high, or even negated by overall costs, which may be diffuse, and less directly felt by losers.

Privatized Monopoly Powers

Since many SOEs are public monopolies, privatization has typically transformed them into private monopolies. In turn, abuse of such market monopoly power enables more rents and corporate profits.

As corporate profits are the private sector's yardstick of success, privatized monopolies are likely to abuse their market power to maximize rents for themselves. Thus, privatization tends to burden the public, e.g., if charges are raised.

In most cases, privatization has not closed the governments' fiscal deficits, and may even worsen budgetary problems. Privatization may worsen the fiscal situation due to loss of revenue from privatized SOEs, or tax evasion by the new privatized entity.

Options for cross-subsidization, e.g., to broaden coverage are reduced as the government is usually left with unprofitable activities while the potentially profitable is acquired by the private sector. Thus, governments are often forced to cut essential public services.

In most cases, profitable SOEs were privatized as prospective private owners are driven to maximize profits. Fiscal deficits have often been exacerbated as new private owners use creative accounting to avoid tax, secure tax credits and subsidies, and maximize retained earnings.

Meanwhile, governments lose vital revenue sources due to privatization if SOEs are profitable, and are often obliged to subsidize privatized monopolies to ensure the poor and underserved still have access to the privatized utilities or services.

Privatization Burdens Many

Privatization burdens the public when charges or fees are not reduced, or when the services provided are significantly reduced. Thus, privatization often burdens the public in different ways, depending on how market power is exercised or abused.

Often, instead of trying to provide a public good to all, many are excluded because it is not considered commercially viable or economic to serve them. Consequently, privatization may worsen overall enterprise performance. 'Value for money' may go down despite ostensible improvements used to justify higher user charges.

SOEs are widely presumed to be more likely to be inefficient. The most profitable and potentially profitable are typically the first and most likely to be privatized. This leaves the rest of the public sector even less profitable, and thus considered more inefficient, in turn justifying further privatizations.

Efficiency Elusive

It is often argued that privatization is needed as the government is inherently inefficient and does not know how to run enterprises well. Incredibly, the government is expected to subsidize privatized SOEs, which are presumed to be more efficient, in order to fulfil its obligations to the citizenry.

Such obligations may not involve direct payments or transfers, but rather, lucrative concessions to the privatized SOE. Thus, they may well make far more from these additional concessions than the actual cost of fulfilling government obligations.

Thus, privatization of profitable enterprises or segments not only perpetuates exclusion of the deserving, but also worsens overall public sector performance now encumbered with remaining unprofitable obligations.

One consequence is poorer public sector performance, contributing to what appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To make matters worse, the public sector is then stuck with financing the unprofitable, thus seemingly supporting to the privatization prophecy.

Benefits Accrue to Relatively Few

Privatization typically enriches the politically connected few who secure lucrative rents by sacrificing the national or public interest for private profit, even when privatization may not seem to benefit them.

Privatization in many developing and transition economies has primarily enriched these few as the public interest is sacrificed to such powerful private business interests. This has, in turn, exacerbated corruption, patronage and other related problems.

For example, following Russian voucher privatization and other Western recommended reforms, for which there was a limited domestic constituency then, within three years (1992-1994), the Russian economy had collapsed by half, and adult male life expectancy fell by six years. It was the greatest such recorded catastrophe in the last six millennia of recorded human history.

Soon, a couple of dozen young Russian oligarchs had taken over the commanding heights of the Russian economy; many then monetized their gains and invested abroad, migrating to follow their new wealth. Much of this was celebrated by the Western media as economic progress.

diptherio , April 7, 2019 at 9:11 am

SOE must stand for "state owned enterprise."

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , April 7, 2019 at 9:30 am

Yes it does. I've now added a sentence to my introduction to make that clear. I noticed the omission when I was uploading the post, but wasn't sure whether readers would be confused.

Thanks for your comment.

caloba , April 7, 2019 at 10:45 am

As a rule of thumb, I'd say that any privatisations that require the introduction of convoluted pseudo-market structures or vast new regulatory bureaucracies or which derive most of their ongoing income from the public sector are likely to be contrary to the long-term public interest. In the UK, unfortunately, all these ships sailed a long time ago

DJG , April 7, 2019 at 11:15 am

After the recent Chicago municipal elections, I wrote up some notes on the reasons for the discontent. This article by Sundaram explains exactly how these schemes work. Further, you can apply his criteria of subsidies for the rich, skimming, and disinheriting the middle class and poor to all of the following instances in Chicago.

If I may–some for instances of how Sundaram's observations turn up in U.S. cities:

Chicago is the proving grounds for thirty or so years of the Democrats' surrender to neoliberalism and austerity politics. Let us not forget, brethren and sistren, that Rahm is the Spawn of Bill + Hill as well as dear friend and advisor of Obama. So there is the work of Daley to undo and the work of the Clintonians to undo. It will take more than one term for Lightfoot.

Consider:
–Parking meters and enforcement have been privatized, starving the city of funds and, more importantly, of its police power.
–Taxes have been privatized in TIFs, where money goes and is never heard from again.
–There have been attempts to privatize the park system in the form of the Lucas museum and the current Obama Theme Park imbroglio, involving some fifty acres of park land.
–The school system has been looted and privatized. The Democrats are big fans of charter schools (right, "Beto"), seeing them as ways to skim money off the middle class and the poor.
–Fare collection on public transit has been privatized using a system so deliberately rudimentary and so deliberately corrupt that it cannot tell you at point of service how much you have paid as fare.
–Boeing was enticed to Chicago with tax breaks. Yes, that Boeing, the one that now deliberately puts bad software in your airplane.
–Property tax assessment has been an opaque system and source of skimming for lawyers.
–Zoning: Eddie Burke, pond scum, is just the top layer of pollution.
–And as we have made our descent, all of these economic dogmata have been enforced by petty harassment of the citizenry (endless tickets) and an ever-brutal police force.

And yet: The current Republican Party also supports all of these policies, so let's not pretend that a bunch of Mitch McConnell lookalikes are headed to Chicago to reform it.

California is no better , April 7, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Providing professional services i.e. architecture, engineering, etc. for a public entity, local or federal, does not yield unreasonable profits. Typically, the public agencies have their own staff to monitor and cost control a project. The professional services provided to private developers yields far more profit- oftentimes twice the profits associated with public agency work. Most professional services companies will transition their work to the public agencies during a recession.

At any rate, especially in Illinois, privatizing the work to avoid pension liabilities is no longer a choice. Michael Madigan pension promises will require the public to maintain a public service budget with no staff to fill potholes. Essentially, these are the no work jobs made popular by the Soprano crew twenty years ago.

Discussion of the downside of the privatization of public services is merely an oscillation from discussing the weather, the Bears or any other kitchen table discussion – nothing more than pleasant small talk to pass the time.

Privatization, at any cost, is no longer a choice. We have abused the pension system and now the public must pay for private companies to provide the most basic services.

stan6565 , April 7, 2019 at 6:36 pm

The question is, what can one do to help arrest this wholesale theft of public resources and their expropriation into the hands of well connected. " Public", as in, it is the working public over the last 100 or 200 years that created (or paid for), the electricity grid, or public schools, or entire armed or police forces

I keep thinking that perhaps an Act could or should be introduced here in UK (same for the States, i suppose), which should ensure that all politicians that enable any type of privatisation of public resources or PFI arrangement (yes that old chesnut), should be made personally responsible for the results therof.

And any losses to the public accidentally or "accidentally" occasioned by such commandeering over public resources, to be treated like deliberate misappropriation by the said public officials.

With the financial and custodial penalties as may be appropriate.

Anybody out there with similar thoughts or should i really try harder and give up on drugs?

eg , April 7, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Michael Hudson, to his immense credit, explains the pernicious effects of privatization of common goods repeatedly throughout his work, and demonstrates that it has been with us at least as long as the ancient practice of land alienation and rural usury.

Natural monopolies ought to be nationalised, full stop.

Grizziz , April 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm

I support public ownership of natural monopolies, however it would be helpful if these pieces contained data, case studies or footnoted entries providing some empirical evidence of the author's thesis.

Thuto , April 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm

This article comes at a time when the clarion call for privatizing Eskom, SA's electricity utility, is hitting deafening levels. To the private sector, efficiency = maximizing profits by making the "bloated" enterprise lean (aka cutting the workforce) and quite literally mean (aka cutting services to "unprofitable" segments of the market, iow, the poor and vulnerable). When profits soar because the holy grail of efficiency is achieved, the mainstream business press brings out the champagne and toasts this "success" as proof that the previously "moribund" (they always exaggerate the state of things) monopolistic monolith has been given a new lease on life by privatizing it and the template is set for rescuing other "ailing" SOEs.

The drawbacks are never laid out as cleary as they are in this article and the plight of those worst affected, whether laid-off workers or those whose services have been cut, never makes it into the headlines.

PhilB , April 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm

And then there is prison privatization where the burden of operation and maintaining the institution should clearly be on the public so as to be constant reminder of the burden, among others reasons. The motivations by private prison operators to reduce services and costs out of site of the pesky prying eyes of the public are manifold.

RepubAnon , April 7, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Privatization is a great way to avoid having user fees wasted by providing services, and instead put to better use funding the re-election campaigns of politicians supporting privatization. Plus, it provides much-needed consulting fees for former politicians as well as job-creating 7-figure salaries for the CEOs,

(/snark, if you couldn't tell)

On a side note, the Dilbert comic strip is written about private industry ,

Iapetus , April 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

There was a rudimentary plan put forward last June that recommended some pretty substantial privatizations of U.S. government assets and services which include:

-Privatizing the US Post Office ( through an Initial Public Offering or outright sale to a private entity ).
-Sell off U.S. government owned electricity transmission lines ( U.S. government owns 14% of this nations power transmission lines through TVA, Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, and Bonneville Power Administration ).
-Spin-off the Federal Aviation Administrations air traffic control operations into a private nonprofit entity.
-Spin-off the Department of Transportations operations of the Saint Lawrence Seaways Locks and Channels into a private non-profit entity.
-End the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then regulate a new system of private guarantors for their MBS securities.

Not sure if these are still being considered.

Tom Stone , April 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm

There's no way I could ask that question with a straight face.

Jack Parsons , April 7, 2019 at 6:35 pm

At heart, the problem with privatization is that marketing to a government-employed purchaser or "purchase influencer" is ridiculously cheap, due to their poor accountability strictures.

This is abetted by the Katamari Damacy process (self-accretionary tendency) of money and power.

https://youtu.be/-U_Tccwyh70?t=139

The Rev Kev , April 7, 2019 at 7:50 pm

In Oz the electricity grids were privatized as they would be cheaper that way – or so people were told. Instead, the cost of electricity has risen sharply over the years to the point that it is effecting elections on both the State and Federal level as the price hikes are so controversial. A problem is that those companies have to pay back the loans used to buy the public electricity grids and as well, the senior management award themselves sky-high wages because they are totally worth it. These are factors that were never present when it was publicly owned. And just to put the boot in, those very same companies have been 'gold-plating' the electricity grid for their gain-

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/australian-gold-plated-power-grid/8721566

Meanwhile, whatever money the governments made selling their electricity companies has been long spent on white elephants or buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.

Procopius , April 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm

buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.

I don't reside in the states, so I don't see much of the detail of daily life. What are these "goodies" of which you speak? In what I am able to read on the internet, people aren't being given goodies any more. At least the old-time politicians handed out jobs, and turkeys at Christmas. The current crop do hand out jobs to their kids and immediate family, but not so much to anyone else.

[Apr 03, 2019]

Apr 03, 2019 | kononenkome.livejournal.com

Долгие годы я жил в ощущении правильности произошедшего в 1991 и 1993 годах. Хотя, конечно, у меня были серьезные внутренние разногласия с той толпой, которая носилась по Москве и ломала памятники. Но я это в себе как-то давил. В 1993 году мне казалось правильным, что танк стреляет по дому с вооруженными людьми. Я тоже хотел раздавить гадину, потому что гадина представлялась мне гадиной. Я был юн и еще не понимал, что демократия -- это всегда толпа, ломающая памятники. И что любой парламент -- это всегда гадина. Но это не значит, что его надо из танков расстреливать.

Но даже когда ко мне пришло понимание этих двух постулатов, я все равно продолжал смеяться над мифологией защитников гадины. О массовых расстрелах на стадионе "Красная Пресня". И, конечно, о таинственных снайперах, которые стреляли по простым прохожим. Зачем снайперам стрелять по простым прохожим? Какой в этом военный тактический смысл? Однако время всё ставит по своим местам. Снайперы, стреляющие по простым прохожим нужны для того же, для чего нужны две бочки хлора. Для провокации.

А где же еще мы видели снайперов, стрелявших по людям для провокации насилия? Правильно, мы видели их в Киеве на Майдане. И вот когда у тебя в голове вдруг складывается Майдан и 1993 год, то становится неприятно. Потому что ты начинаешь понимать природу произошедшего в 1993 году. Это был такой же Майдан. И он, как и в Киеве, победил. Раздавили гадину. Америка, матушка-спасительница, помогла. И в 1993м. И в 2014. Только почему же ты, сволочь, тогда был на одной стороне, а потом -- на другой? А потому что дурак был.

А когда картинка сложилась, сразу же много стало понятнее. И весь тот ад девяностых, который был так похож на то, что ныне происходит на Украине. Война против собственных граждан негодной, разворованной армией. Полный крах экономики, зависимость от денег МВФ, выделяемых по милостивому разрешению США. Вооруженные люди, убивающие друг друга в центрах городов.

Эта мысль может показаться диковатой, но вот, наконец, у нее случилось документальное подтверждение. В США опубликованы расшифровки телефонных разговоров президента Билла Клинтона. В том числе и с президентом Борисом Ельциным. В которых Ельцин пугает Клинтона коммунистами, жалуется, что коммунисты, если победят, могут отобрать Крым (!). И просит два с половиной миллиарда долларов на выборы. После чего МВФ выделяет России займ, а в Москве приезжают американские политические консультанты. И выборы 1996 года превращаются в Оранжевую революцию -- только вместо концертов на Майдане тур "Голосуй или проиграешь". А в результате всё равно сфальсифицированные результаты. Методы и те же, разве что последовательность разная.

И вот с высоты этого понимания хорошо бы оглядеть перспективы. В России случился Путин, она очистилась от скверны и таки приняла вернувшийся Крым. Значит ли это, что подобный исход событий возможен на Украине? Интересная могла бы получиться экстраполяция: Порошенко находит какого-то малоизвестного человека, выходца из СБУ, которого назначает преемником. Этот человек выгоняет американцев, восстанавливает экономику, мирится с Донбассом, равноудаляет старых олигархов и возвращает Крым? Сценарий, как вы понимаете, фантастический. И дело даже не в Крыме, который никуда "возвращаться" не собирается, потому что он уже вернулся домой. Дело в том, что Ельцин вовсе не хотел, чтобы Путин сделал всё то, что он сделал. Он хотел просто гарантий безопасности для себя и семьи. И то, что Путин оказался не тем, кем его представлял себе Ельцин -- это счастливая случайность. Божий промысел, если хотите. Pussy Riot просили Богородицу, чтобы она забрала Путина, а устами художника всегда говорит Бог. То есть, прося Богородицу, чтобы она забрала Путина, Pussy Riot тем самым (и сами того не понимая) говорили нам, что Богородица Путина нам дала. Это шутка, конечно. Впрочем, как мне кажется, довольно изящная.

Порошенко, разумеется, тоже ничего из того, что сделал Путин, не хочет. Он хочет или остаться у власти (что мирным путем невозможно) или же обеспечить себе безопасность. Кто именно мог бы обеспечить ему такую безопасность (то есть -- быть потенциальным украинским Путиным) отсюда пока никак не просматривается. Но вопрос ведь не в этом. Вопрос в том, будет ли к этому иметь отношение Богородица.

А также в том, что нам теперь совсем не с руки смеяться над нынешней Украиной и ее выбором. Мы с вами вышли из такого же дерьма. Природа современного русского государства такая же -- поддержанный американцами майдан. И хорошо бы никогда об этом не забывать. И соответственно относиться к тем, кто тоскует по тем временам.

А лично мне достаточно того, что Богородица не послушала Pussy Riot. И слава богу.
RT

[Mar 31, 2019] What is the purpose of Russiagate hysteria?

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years. ..."
"... It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land. ..."
"... Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans. ..."
"... The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other. ..."
"... The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system. ..."
Mar 31, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

S , Mar 30, 2019 8:51:37 PM | link

@b:
What is the purpose of making that claim?

The purpose is very simple: to create the perception that the government of Russia still somehow controls or manipulates the US government and thus gains some undeserved improvements in relations with the U.S. Once such perception is created, people will demand that relations with Russia are worsened to return them to a "fair" level. While in reality these relations have been systematically destroyed by the Western establishment (CFR) for many years.

It's a typical inversion to hide the hybrid war of the Western establishment against Russian people. Yes, Russian people. Not Putin, not Russian Army, not Russian intelligence services, but Russian people. Russians are not to be allowed to have any kind of industries, nor should they be allowed to know their true history, nor should they possess so much land.

Russians should work in coal mines for a dollar a day, while their wives work as prostitutes in Europe. That's the maximum level of development that the Western establishment would allow Russians to have (see Ukraine for a demo version). Why? Because Russians are subhumans.

Whatever they do, it's always wrong, bad, oppressive, etc. Russians are bad because they're bad. They must be "taught a lesson", "put into their place". It would, of course, be beneficial and highly profitable for Europeans to break with Anglo-Saxons and to live in peace and harmony with Russia, but Europeans simply can not overcome their racism towards Russians. The young Europeans are just as racist, with their incessant memes about "squatting Russians in tracksuits", "drunken Russians", etc., as if there's nothing else that is notable about a country of 147 million people.

The end goal of the Western establishment is a complete military, economic, psychological, and spiritual destruction of Russia, secession of national republics (even though in some of them up to 50% of population are Russians, but this will be ignored, as it has been in former Soviet republics), then, finally, dismemberment of what remains of Russia into separate states warring with each other.

The very concept of Russian nation should disappear. Siberians will call their language "Siberian", Muscovites will call their language "Moscovian", Pomorians will call their language "Pomorian", etc. The U.S. Department of State will, of course, endorse such terminology, just like they endorse the term "Montenegrian language", even though it's the same Serbo-Croatian language with the same Cyrillic writing system.

[Mar 09, 2019] I don't think Gorbachev knew what he was doing and was profoundly naive (or worse, but that's the best that can be said about him, let's leave it at that

Mar 09, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

deplorado , March 6, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Hmmmm I think IMHO that any analogies with Gorbachev are misplaced and superficial. I don't think Gorbachev knew what he was doing and was profoundly naive (or worse, but that's the best that can be said about him, let's leave it at that – and I admired him as a teen behind the iron curtain).

I think Sanders knows what he's doing and is clear eyed about who he's dealing with in terms of system and people -- unlike Gorbachev.

As for people in the USSR giving up – I don't think they got anything of what they really wanted, and I don't think anyone really asked them. So they never had a chance to give up anything. They were simply led along a short hopeful path – and then summarily and mercilessly crushed.

Sanders is a healthy thing for this country and the Dem party. Unlike Gorbachev, he's ushering in healthy forces. Let the chips fall where they may.

[Feb 27, 2019] Forward, Comrades

Feb 27, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

wikipedia , Feb 18, 2019 3:56:45 PM | link

Forward, Comrades (Russian: Вперед, товарищи; Chinese: 前进,达瓦里希; pinyin: Qiánjìn, dáwǎlǐxī; literally: "Advance, tovarish") is a 2013 Chinese animated short film by Wang Liyin of the Beijing Film Academy. The film focuses on the fall of the Soviet Union as its main theme, told from the perspective of a young girl. As an original net animation with a strong political backdrop, the film has triggered strong reactions from various audiences.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forward,_Comrades

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkHM4ajLfD0

[Feb 18, 2019] The real Russian Tragedy -- plunder by superor transnational forces, and first of all the USA, after the dissolution and convertion to the neoliberalism

Notable quotes:
"... But while China has succeeded in conserving a degree of control on capital outflows and private accumulation, the characteristic of Putin's Russia is an unbounded drift into kleptocracy. Between 1993 and 2018, Russia had massive trade surpluses: approximately 10% of GDP per annum on average for 25 years, or a total in the rage of 250% of GDP (two and a half years of national production). In principle that should have enabled the accumulation of the equivalent in financial reserves. This is almost the size of the sovereign public fund accumulated by Norway under the watchful gaze of the voters. The official Russian reserves are ten times lower – barely 25% of GDP. ..."
Feb 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

donkeytale , Feb 17, 2019 9:10:39 PM | link

vk, james, pft, et al

One would have to be incredibly naive on the order of say a 3 year old or maybe Forrest Gump to believe Putin isn't a very wealthy man who will never want for anything as long as he has billionaire cronies indebted to him politically in one way or the other.

Of course, some people must cling to their illusions, er I mean their idealism, of others no matter what. Dog knows why.

Thomas Piketty :

More generally, the Soviet disaster led to the abandon of any ambition of redistribution. Since 2001, income tax is 13%, whether your income be 1,000 roubles or 100 billion roubles. Even Reagan and Trump have not gone as far in the destruction of progressive taxation. There is no tax on inheritance in Russia, nor in the People's Republic of China. If you want to pass on your fortune in peace in Asia, it is better to die in the ex-Communist countries and definitely not in the capitalist countries such as Taiwan, South Korea or Japan where the tax rate on inheritance on the highest estates has just risen from 50% to 55%.

But while China has succeeded in conserving a degree of control on capital outflows and private accumulation, the characteristic of Putin's Russia is an unbounded drift into kleptocracy. Between 1993 and 2018, Russia had massive trade surpluses: approximately 10% of GDP per annum on average for 25 years, or a total in the rage of 250% of GDP (two and a half years of national production). In principle that should have enabled the accumulation of the equivalent in financial reserves. This is almost the size of the sovereign public fund accumulated by Norway under the watchful gaze of the voters. The official Russian reserves are ten times lower – barely 25% of GDP.

Where has the money gone? According to our estimates, the offshore assets alone held by wealthy Russians exceed one year of GDP, or the equivalent of the entirety of the official financial assets held by Russian households. In other words, the natural wealth of the country, (which, let it be said in passing, would have done better to remain in the ground to limit global warming) has been massively exported abroad to sustain opaque structures enabling a minority to hold huge Russian and international financial assets. These rich Russians live between London, Monaco and Moscow: some have never left Russia and control their country via offshore entities. Numerous intermediaries and Western firms have also recouped large crumbs on the way and continue to do so today in sport and the media (sometimes this is referred to as philanthropy). The extent of the misappropriation of funds has no equal in history.

donkeytale , Feb 17, 2019 10:59:25 PM | link

james,

Well, there can be no doubt Amerikkkans, Euros, Asians, Middle Easterners, grifters, entrepreneurs, lumpen proles and many others of all persuasions participated in the sacking of Russia's national wealth since the fall of the USSR. Probably even a few Canadiens took part. Lol.

Capitalust feeding frenzies of this magnitude are ugly sights to behold, like the Washington DC pig trough on a daily basis.

Russia's is truly a global phenomenon to be sure.

Or maybe a "globalist" phenomenon is a better way to putin words.

And of course, the chart at the top of Piketty's post is most interesting too....it shows the US equally as unequal as Russia. I'm not letting the US off the hook here in any way shape or form. But this thread is about Russia and worse exposits a demented sort of idealism by many posters about the country and its Dear Leader that is unwarranted, IMHO. Not you of course.

The heinous accumulation of Russian wealth is intertwined...leaving Russia and shunted through tax havens, laundered, anonymised and ending up invested in the West....not back home in Mother Russia....where it could lead to more economic development and opportunities for the non-oligarchs....instead of more growth in the US and West, where agin most ends up in the pockets of our own oligarchs, one Donald Trump among them.

This is a Russian Tragedy.


[Jan 20, 2019] Is "zastoy"(stagnation) a blessing in disguise fir Russian citizents ?

Jan 20, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , January 17, 2019 at 03:19 PM

http://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/01/russias-circular-economic-history.html

January 17, 2019

Russia's circular economic history?

Today I participated in a nice web-based program started by the Central Bank of Russia (it will be posted soon). An economist is being interviewed by another, and then the one who has been interviewed becomes in his/her turn the interviewer of yet a third one. My friend Shlomo Weber, the head of the New School of Economics interviewed me, and then I interviewed Professor Natalya Zubarevich, from the Lomonosov Moscow State University and a noted scholar of Russian regional economics.

Just a couple of days ago Natalia gave a very well-received talk at the Gaidar Forum in Moscow on (what one might call) "unhealthy convergence" of Russian regions. In fact, Natalia shows that most recently regional per capita GDPs have started a mild convergence, but that this is due first to low growth rate of most of them and the economy as a whole, and to the redistribution mechanism (mostly of the oil rent) between the regions. A healthy convergence, Natalia says, would be the one where economic activity, and especially small and medium size private businesses, were much more equally distributed across some ninety subjects of the Russian Federation. She also had very interesting insights into the excessive "verticalization" of economic power and decision-making in Russia, and the economic growth of Moscow (much faster than of any other part of Russia) driven by centralization of that power, and concentration of large state-owned or state-influenced enterprises as well as bureaucracy in Moscow.

What most attracted my attention during Natalia's presentation at the Gaidar Forum was her description of the current period of low growth rates in Russia as zastoi, or stagnation. Now, zastoi has a very special political meaning in Russian because it was a disparaging term used in the Gorbachev era, and by Gorbachev himself, to define the Brezhnevite period of declining growth rates, lack of development perspectives, unchanging bureaucracy, and general demoralization and malaise.

But I asked Natalia the following question. Looking over the past 150 years of Russian history (and I think it is hard to go further back), were not really the best periods for ordinary people exactly the periods of zastoi: incomes rose by little for sure, but the state repression was weak, there were no wars, and probably if you look at violent deaths per capita per year, the lowest number of people died precisely during the periods of zastoi. So perhaps that zastoi is not so bad.

Natalia said, "I know I lived through the Brezhnevite period. Many people were demoralized; but I used it to study. I never read so many books and learned so much as then -- you could do whatever you wanted because your actual job really did not matter much." (Even art, as I saw in the Tretyakovska Gallery, even if some of these paintings were never exhibited in the official museums, seems to have done well during the Brezhnevite zastoi. And as the recent film, which I have not seen, but read the reviews, Leto, appears to indirectly argue as well.)

The best growth periods, as Natalia said, and as is generally accepted by economic historians were the 1950s up to about 1963-65, and then the period of the two first Putin's terms. In both cases, the growth spurs came as a ratchet effect to the previous set of disasters: in the Khrushchev period, to the apocalypse of the Second World War, in the Putin period, as a reaction to the Great Depression under Yeltsin during the early transition.

So this then made us think a bit back into the past (say, going back to 1905) and put forward the following hypothesis: that Russian longer-term economic growth is cyclical. The cycle has three components. First a period of utter turbulence, disorder, war, and huge loss of income (and in many cases of life as well), followed by a decade or so of efflorescence, recovery and growth, and finally by the period of "calcification" of whatever (or whoever) that worked in that second period -- thus producing the zastoi or stagnation.

I do not know if this is something specific to the Russian economic history. It made me think of Naipaul's observation on successful and unsuccessful countries. The history of the former consists of a number of challenges and setbacks indeed, but certain things are solved forever, and then new challenges appear. Take the United States: the Indian challenge and then the independence from Britain were not easy to overcome/acquire, but eventually, they were and they never came back; then the Civil War and the Emancipation; then the Great Society etc. But unsuccessful countries, according to Naipaul (and he had, I think, Argentina in mind) always stay within the circular history. The same or similar events keep on repeating themselves forever without any upward trend -- and no single challenge is forever overcome. In each following cycle everything simply repeats itself.

The challenges for Russia today is, I think, to break this cycle.

-- Branko Milanovic

[Jan 08, 2019] Alexander Rutskoi: The Shelling of the Parliament in 1993 Was Directed From Washington. Also 30 staff members of the CIA worked in the government. They led the imaginary auctions, government bonds, were admitted to the top secret information.

Notable quotes:
"... A conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Korzhakov. ..."
"... (of the Communist Party – author's note) ..."
"... – If I understand it, it was then when you collected "11 suitcases of compromising evidence" against Yeltsin's team? Which also played a role in the confrontation. ..."
"... . About 30 staff members of the CIA worked under the guise of consultants with reformers in the government. And much more. And these were imaginary auctions, state bonds, what was the way they all were thought out? This process was led by staff members of the CIA, who worked in the government of the Russian Federation. ..."
"... I repeatedly asked Yeltsin: is it possible the work of foreign intelligence officers in the administration of the US President? He: Alexander Ivanovich, are you accidentally drunk? – No. I did not drink. I'm just asking you this question. – He: Of course not. – Why do we have 30 employees (of CIA)? And admitted them to top secret information? Where do we go? They are conducting these boys, who do not understand what they are doing, they get up these ugliness. And what will be the results? ..."
"... 30 staff members of the CIA worked in the government. They led the imaginary auctions, government bonds, were admitted to the top secret information. ..."
"... – And what happened to the words about Nechaev? ..."
"... – Listen, let's be honest. You were with Yeltsin in 1991 on one side of the barricades. You saw him, and thats why in the 1993 did not believe that he would go for blood, for assault. Was it so? ..."
"... It was later learned that Gorbachev had created the State Emergency Committee in March 1991, this was his initiative. He went to Foros to absolve himself of responsibility. ..."
"... Once again, when Yeltsin was going to hide in the US embassy in 1991, I stopped him, I said: Boris Nikolayevich, you can not do this, you are the head of Russia, how are you going to escape, let me fly to Foros. So Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov and I flew to Foros to take Gorbachev out of there and bring him back to his place. ..."
"... But in 1993, everything was planned differently. Here is the Maydan in Kiev – this is one in one repetition, a little under another sauce, really. But the conductors were from the same address. All these orders came from Washington. Because the tele-shooting was done, the operators were at such profitable points to completely shoot this massacre. They were seated in advance. And when the "Alpha" (Special Force unit) refuses to storm the building, they kill their fighter Sergeev, sniper kills him in the back, to provoke "Alpha". ..."
"... The Maidan in Kiev is one in one repetition of events in Moscow in 1993. But the conductors were from one place – from Washington. The operators were placed in advance so as to completely shoot this massacre. And when "Alpha" refuses to storm the building, the sniper kills their fighter Sergeev to provoke "Alpha". ..."
"... – And what did happen with those closets in which there was compromising material? ..."
"... – The situation was such that I was put to Lefortovo (detention unit for state security – author's note) ..."
"... – Korzhakov would better tell how at Vnukovo airport he met the snipers, who flew not from our country, how they went to Sofrino and got sniper rifles, how they planted these snipers on the roof and started killing policemen and representatives of the armed forces, gawkers and others. For what? – To provoke this assault. ..."
Jun 10, 2018 | www.defenddemocracy.press

A conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Korzhakov.

Twenty-two years ago, Moscow shuddered from the tank volleys, and people all over the country clung to TV screens, on which Western TV stations broadcasted how Yeltsin's loyal troops fire at the rebel troops of the Supreme Soviet (Parlament) of Russia. The opposition of the Armed Forces and the President Yeltsin with his team, on the one hand, and Rutskoi and Khasbulatov with the deputies, on the other, ended in great blood. Incongruous with the one that spilled two years earlier, when the Emergency Committee tried to keep the USSR.

This was the beginning of our conversation in the radio studio "Komsomolskaya Pravda" with the Hero of the Soviet Union, the first and the last vice-president of Russia, Alexander Vladimirovich Rutskoi and the former head of the President's Security Service (by definition, the closest person to Yeltsin's body), Alexander Vasilyevich Korzhakov.

... ... ...

Rutskoy:

– Yeltsin's main argument against the Supreme Council was that it prevented him from "carrying out reforms." What kind of reforms? – The privatization. I was appointed to lead the Interdepartmental Commission on Combating Corruption, and I had information about how it was conducted. Port Nakhodka went in ownership for 100 thousand dollars, Achinsk alumina plant for 180 thousand, Uralmash, giant, the pride of our country, went to Bendukidze's property for 500 thousand dollars, not for money but for vouchers. What is this nonsense? After all, we proposed alternative privatization. First, the service sector. I still, being a member of the Central Committee (of the Communist Party – author's note) , I was expelled from the party for factionalism, suggested: why should the state have hairdressers, tailors, canteens, cafes, restaurants? Let's privatize it, but on a competitive basis. A person wins a contest, gets this object into management and pays real estate, the cost of this object to the mortgage. The money goes to the social development fund of the country, which is subordinated to a collegial body, not to the executive branch, to the Supreme Council. And then the issues of building schools, hospitals, polyclinics, roads, housing and everything else would be resolved.

The port of Nakhodka was privatized for 100 thousand dollars, the Achinsk alumina plant for 180 thousand, Uralmash, the giant, the pride of our country, went into the ownership of Bendukidze for 500 thousand dollars. And it was not money, but vouchers.

This was our most important contradiction with Yeltsin and his team. And imagine how much money would go into this social fund. And today, the problems in the social sphere would be solved tenfold at the expense of that has touched.

– If I understand it, it was then when you collected "11 suitcases of compromising evidence" against Yeltsin's team? Which also played a role in the confrontation.

Rutskoy:

– I figuratively said that those are 11 suitcases. You know, such fireproof large metal cabinets. And there were documents in them. Not compromising evidence, but documents, including all of these scams with privatization . About 30 staff members of the CIA worked under the guise of consultants with reformers in the government. And much more. And these were imaginary auctions, state bonds, what was the way they all were thought out? This process was led by staff members of the CIA, who worked in the government of the Russian Federation.

I repeatedly asked Yeltsin: is it possible the work of foreign intelligence officers in the administration of the US President? He: Alexander Ivanovich, are you accidentally drunk? – No. I did not drink. I'm just asking you this question. – He: Of course not. – Why do we have 30 employees (of CIA)? And admitted them to top secret information? Where do we go? They are conducting these boys, who do not understand what they are doing, they get up these ugliness. And what will be the results?

30 staff members of the CIA worked in the government. They led the imaginary auctions, government bonds, were admitted to the top secret information.

– Alexander Vasilievich, I was 31 years old and I was sitting at that time in the company of Englishmen, who, going crazy, asked me: "Sasha, is this a movie?" And I answered them that yes, only documentary and live". And they, even more crazy, bawled: "They must not shoot the Parliament by tanks "

... ... ...

They figured out Yeltsin but conductors directed the country

Rutskoy:

– Yeltsin's only correct decision for all his being in office was to resign and make his successor a worthy man who pulled the country out of this humiliating situation. Incidentally, I have repeatedly told Yeltsin who his security service is, I asked – remove these guys: both Barsukov and Korzhakov, they will then make you a gift that you will never wash off. And in 1996, Yeltsin had the intelligence to get rid of these persons.

– You do not like them.

– You know, I always went to Boris Nikolaevich and, before making any public statements, talked with him. And what did Korzhakov do? He resorted to Yeltsin and sang a song to him, that I saw a chair under him. If you want I tell an interesting episode. There were a strike at the automobile plant "ZIL". Boris Nikolayevich, as always, on vacation. It is clear what a vocation it was. I got a call with the command from the President to go to ZIL and to work out. I walk along the corridor, towards goes Viktor Palych Barannikov, the Minister of Security. "Where are you going?" – "To ZIL, there's a strike. I was given a commission from Boris Nikolayevich." – "Can I go with you?" – "Of course?". We had come, listened to the workers. I convinced them that we must go back to the machines, stop the strike and so on. And I allowed myself such a statement: "Boris Nikolayevich will come, I will ask him to give me an opportunity to attach my guard to Nechayev (he was an economy minister), I will give him your salary, three thousand rubles. And I'll see how this figure and rascal will live." Farther. We sit at the one birthday party. Boris Nikolaevich asks me a question. I look, there is a dictophone at his hands. He said me: Have you got three thousand rubles with you? I say that I got more. And my brains turn on here. I see the recorder. Yeltsin is on public, and this is the first circle, ministers, say, basically of the power structure. He turns on the dictaphone. And there goes this record, but in another form – that Yeltsin will come, and I'll give him three thousand, I'll attach my guard to him and so on.

Read also: Hommage a Domenico Losurdo

– And what happened to the words about Nechaev?

They have deleted that part, and it turned out that I would do this to Yeltsin. Silent scene in the hall. And then Barannikov takes out a dictophone from his pocket. And turns on a full record, as it was. So, Yeltsin takes his recorder and launches in Korzhakov. Korzhakov bent down and the tape recorder flew to the wall, smashed to smithereens.

Yeltsin takes the recorder and launches in Korzhakov. Korzhakov bent down and the tape recorder flew to the wall, smashed to smithereens

– Listen, let's be honest. You were with Yeltsin in 1991 on one side of the barricades. You saw him, and thats why in the 1993 did not believe that he would go for blood, for assault. Was it so?

– Well, frankly, I hoped so. In 1991, there was a situation When some information arrived that the assault was about to begin, Yeltsin immediately got into the car and was going to leave for the US embassy. It was later learned that Gorbachev had created the State Emergency Committee back in March of 1991, it was his initiative. He flew to Foros when a cope started in August to absolve himself of responsibility.

It was later learned that Gorbachev had created the State Emergency Committee in March 1991, this was his initiative. He went to Foros to absolve himself of responsibility.

Once again, when Yeltsin was going to hide in the US embassy in 1991, I stopped him, I said: Boris Nikolayevich, you can not do this, you are the head of Russia, how are you going to escape, let me fly to Foros. So Yevgeny Maksimovich Primakov and I flew to Foros to take Gorbachev out of there and bring him back to his place.

But in 1993, everything was planned differently. Here is the Maydan in Kiev – this is one in one repetition, a little under another sauce, really. But the conductors were from the same address. All these orders came from Washington. Because the tele-shooting was done, the operators were at such profitable points to completely shoot this massacre. They were seated in advance. And when the "Alpha" (Special Force unit) refuses to storm the building, they kill their fighter Sergeev, sniper kills him in the back, to provoke "Alpha".

The Maidan in Kiev is one in one repetition of events in Moscow in 1993. But the conductors were from one place – from Washington. The operators were placed in advance so as to completely shoot this massacre. And when "Alpha" refuses to storm the building, the sniper kills their fighter Sergeev to provoke "Alpha".

Neither "Alpha" nor "Vympel" went to the assault.

– But after all "Alpha" and "Vympel" did not go to storm the Kremlin too. Remember, you ordered the pilots to bomb the Kremlin?

– I did not make such an order.

– You went on the air. I heard it with my ears.

– It was a psychological intimidation for the Kremlin – That is the first. And the second, what was the way to stop them? I think, at least they will come to their senses, stop doing it.

– And what did happen with those closets in which there was compromising material?

– The situation was such that I was put to Lefortovo (detention unit for state security – author's note) , and the next day, these non-combustible metal cabinets were cracked and under the direction of Korzhakov these folders were extracted. Where did they go, these folders, who gave the order to Korzhakov to withdraw everything related to the work of the interdepartmental commission? No answer.

– There is a feeling that personal scores are not all finished between you

– Korzhakov would better tell how at Vnukovo airport he met the snipers, who flew not from our country, how they went to Sofrino and got sniper rifles, how they planted these snipers on the roof and started killing policemen and representatives of the armed forces, gawkers and others. For what? – To provoke this assault.

Korzhakov would better tell how at Vnukovo airport he met the snipers, who flew not from our country, how they went to Sofrino and got sniper rifles, how they planted these snipers on the roof and started killing policemen and representatives of the armed forces, gawkers and others. For what? – To provoke this assault.

I have nothing to hide. I have published the minutes of my interrogations. And the book "Bloody Autumn" I wrote, deliberately, without even a hint on any emotions. I took the date, the documents of the Supreme Council, which were released on that date, the decisions of the Kremlin on the same date, and made a diary of events. In the end wrote: and now everyone draw conclusions themselves, who is to blame that the blood of compatriots was spilled, that our country was simply smeared, that the Soviet Union was destroyed, and people with far from a decent biography were given the national property of the country. That's what I and many of my comrades could not agree with, but it happened.

– It happened. And God grant us that we will never do it again.

Published at http://antiterror.one/en/node/38

[Jan 01, 2019] Gorbachov role in the collapse of the USSR

YouTube
Jan 01, 2019 | www.youtube.com

Why Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee on March 11, 1985? Was there a will of Yuri Andropov? What was the cause of the sudden death of defense Minister Dmitry Ustinov, who could be the first person in the country? Was the Secretary General Konstantin Chernenko really poisoned by low-quality fish? And why did Victor Grishin lose his chance to become the Secretary General of the "master of Moscow"?


Дима Горный , 1 year ago (edited)

Gorbachev was recruited in 1976-77 years when he visited Europe, then eliminate Kulakov and promote the Central Committee Gorbachev. I am sure that the KGB had their own people recruited by the CIA and pursued a policy of promoting their candidacy for the post of first person of the USSR.

valentina Валентина , 2 years ago (edited)

The stupidest commentaries are here. This rotten system has outlived its usefulness.........and no leader was able to save her. There is no progressive Communist state in the world and can not be!

Ацеховская Татьяна , 1 year ago

Not Gorbachev, so someone else.The USSR was naive and doomed.What, one Gorbachev did everything? Full of vultures sat and waited for the corpse. My uncle, being the mayor of Tikhvin, in the late 70s, said that the country is doomed because we are engaged in self-eating.Huge funds went to support the Communist parties around the world.

Oberst , 1 week ago

@Asenovska Tatiana uncle rasskazyval, as mayor....What the University taught me.....

And I , being the senior officer, after 4 wounds the write-off on the ground, the pilot....Past Afghan, and not only.....

I saw our planes to be cur in peaces on orders from Gorbachev.... .And submarines, costing hundreds millions. Payed by people who save on everyting to secure indepence of the country.

And this creature, was given Nobel Peace Prize for selling everthing to the USA for pennies on the dollar...

The West praised him, and he DESTROYED noth the ARMY AND NAVY and then the USSR ... He gave up our victory in WWII without and fight's...

After Gorbachov the USA was able to bomb Belgrade, and Iraq, and Livia without any fear for retribution. He should be executed . And the body of this traitor should be disposed in manure...

And if not Putin, we would be the colony of the USA much like Latin american countries. .And the USA would bomb Syria into stone age, kill the President and grap all the oil

Only Putin is not GORBACHEV!!!!! And the Big Uncle blew up in Syria and they did not risk thier place to test Russia anti-aircraft missile systems.

Tamara G , 3 years ago

Gorbachev first created a deceptive impression of a young, wise, business-like head of state. In fact, he was a banal traitor of his country, sold the sovereignty of a great country for perdpnal fortume and villa in Germany. While Wewst grbbed all opur natiural resourses and large part of iundustry. YELTSIN destroyed completely the economica, and high technolgy ijndurites in the country, sold everything to oligarchs for pennies. Both Gorbachev and Yeltsin are enemies of the Fatherland .

Высоковольтный Сыр , 1 year ago (edited)

Gorbachev came to the sinking ship and it was too late to patch the holes in it. The cold war and the arms race sucked the last currency reserves from the USSR. The Kremlin Party bonzes forgot about the economy, forgot about the people. They were obsessed with matching the weaponry of the phantom enemy (Americans), and as a result of the cold war the USSR disintegrated and broke up into 15 independent States.

While we can blame the weakling and traitor Gorbachev, even before him the agriculture was in deep and irreversible decline. We were forced to buy grad for abroad. After the US has imposed sanctions that have artificially reduced oil prices to such a low level that game was over. Currency flow from oil sales seizes and there was no alternative then to take loans from the West.

The Treasury started printed too much rubles, inflation started and with it nationalist feeling that finished off the country. Add to this Chernobyl disaster. When in Armenia in December 1988 there was the major earthquake, the Kremlin requested the "decadent West" about the humanitarian aid.

Economy of the Soviet Union fell through the floor and no wonder Gorbachev was tilted towards the West, toward privatization of the industries.

Of course he was a fool and allowed West to plunder the country, but essentially he have no choice, reforms were needed and he lost control of them, tried to stage a fake coup to regain control and was deposed as the result. Because he was very weak, incompetent politician, not fit for such a grave moment in the history of the country, he destroyed the country.

The socialist camp collapsed, and Gorbachov refused to help the socialist countries, it was necessary to save his own ass. He also finished stupid and unnecessary war in Afghanistan. That was the only positive step he made. And that was too little too late.

Fartoviy 777 , 4 months ago

Instead of that asshole, Heydar Aliyev should have been elected by Politburo. The only person who was really able to pull the country out of the crisis, it was Aliyev G. in any other scenario, the country was doomed to collapse . And about Gorbachev , you can say so in Russian history , no traitor is worse and higher rank than this pederast!!!, All pleasant viewing!

Caucasus man , 5 days ago

And why the interior Ministry, KGB were inactive. As well as Party Control? How could this hump with foreign help and some special color revolution technology to destroy all the obstacles. How he managed to subdue the Politburo power structure ( including the axis of the Gromyko-Primakov and Yakovlev) ? As he had no trouble to expel from the Central Committee able and less corrupted members of the Central Committee (V. Sherbitsky , V. Grishin, G. V. Romanov, G. A. Aliyev, D, Kuhn...)? 

BValeri52 , 1 week ago

Gorbachev - zero as the head of state, but the soil he has prepared Khrushchev and Brezhnev (Moskva), they let the country drift, theft, drunkenness, took away people's faith.

YURY RUDY , 5 days ago (edited)

А хули дебилам объяснять. Горбачев открыл окно в мир. Живите уроды ,работайте развивайтесь. Но началась элементарная борьба за власть. Так как в этой стране на протяжении всей истории ничего путного создать не умели. Что с татар взять. Страна не могла не развалится. Если бы не Беловежское соглашение, крови было бы немерянно. В каждой республики были свои лидеры которые тупо хотели быть президентами и якобы независимыми.. Кто виноват ,что страна наводнена ублюдками у власти. которые вместо того что бы создавать могучую страну напичканную всей таблицей Менделеева, начали ее растаскивать.И грабят по сей день, под руководством Единой россии. Вспомните как все визжали, когда страна стала открываться. Когда народ перестал поклонятся импортным одноразовым зажигалкам и фантикам от жвачек. Думать надо, прежде чем повторять кремлевские методички. Теперь катаетесь на Порше кайене, живете в особняках и хотите назад в СССР. Я с вас хуею..


Володимир Завірюха
, 1 week ago

Хорошо помню 1985 год когда вьібрали Горбачева .То у нас в Тернополе наш учитель политекономии тогда говорил нам студентам что старьіе партейцьі говорят что Горбачев будет изменик .А почему мьі спрашивали .А потому что он не любит наши отечественьіе костюмьі а любит английские ....Сколько лет прошло а только времья показало кто прав а кто нет .Китай например посмотрел на нашу историческую ошибку и принимает все необходимьіе мерьі чтобьі подобньіх Горбачевьіх там у руля власти не оказалось ....Все большие Иудьі бьіли меченьіе ,как и бьіл мечен Горбачев ...Горбачева можна сравнить из Нероном которьій розвалил большое ....

Низами Мамедов , 3 days ago

У господина Млечина с аналитикой большие проблемы, а ведь журналист должен знать всё о своём герое. В отношении Горбачёва он так и не понял, почему Семи- частный отверг кандидатуру Горбачёва. Семичастный знал, что Горбачёв не чист на руку, короче говоря один из первых советских мафиози в г. Ставрополе по производству алкоголя. Мне лично рассказал об этом брат убитого по приказу Горбачёва следователя (по пути из Краснодара в Невинномысск), который напал на след этого упыря, но ему была устроена автомобильная катастрофа, в которой погиб этот следователь. А почему Брежнев убрал Семичастного, потому что Семичастный знал всю кухню правительственного переворота по смещению Хрущёва, поэтому Брежнев, по словам самого Семичастного убрал его из Москвы подальше, и в Киеве устроил третьим замом председателя правительства Украинской ССР, выступая Семичастный сказал, я так и не понял, кем я стал работать, работы практически не было, он просто отсиживался на этой высокой должности до пенсии.


Mihrutka Mikhail
, 2 weeks ago

Слушаю и все время одна мысль в голову лезет - как же надо было руководить страной , до какого идиотизма довести ситуацию с продуктами питания , если академики и композиторы с мировым именем и даже дочь генсека !!!! искали знакомства и расположения директора магазина !!! . О чем думают люди , пишущие вечные сентенции - "какую страну мы потеряли " - а ведь в провинции было все гораздо хуже и японцы создали анекдот - "Самая лучшая система снабжения создана в СССР - все товары завозятся в Москву - а благодарный народ САМ развозит по стране..." Не могла быть жизнеспособной страна при таком маразме..


Slava Boyka
, 1 week ago

Лично мне похуй!!! Если сравнить СССР ,где все было нельзя и под запретом, под наблюдением людей в плащах и шляпах,то при Горбачеве, народ вздохнул глоток свежего,опьяняющего,долгожданного и запретного воздуха из вне... Первые кооперативы, джинсы, машины, кафе, иномарки,музыка, фильмы!!! Что то новое принес! Нельзя так,было больше жить.. Виновен он во многом,но есть и плюсы его политики. Предали его, а он предал нас....


джек машкин
, 5 months ago

Горбачёв был типичный южный дурачок . Они умеют 3 вещи -выглядеть выгодно(лучше чем есть на самом деле ,подмазать где надо , и болтать .... А ЛЮБОЕ дело которое им поручишь -ОБГАДЯТ . СИСТЕМА СССР была уже слаба тем ,что потеряла ЖЁСТКОСТЬ и ЗАЩИТУ от Дурака . При Хрущёве -она сработала и дурачка убрали ,при Горби - ЕМУ ДАЛИ РУЛИТЬ ,и ВСЁ развалилось .

Zigmas Kreipavičius , 3 days ago

Михаил Сергеевич разрушил империю зла

Vanjka Vstanjka , 1 year ago

Престарелый Черненко - это плохо. А не престарелые Горбачёв, Яковлев, Шеварднадзе и Лигачёв - это жутко хорошо? Дело, похоже, не только и не столько в возрасте, сколько в деловых и моральных качествах его носителей. Все члены названнй компашки реально вредили и реально (и крепко) навредили стране. А ведь престарелыми они отнюдь не были!


Евгений Карандашев
, 1 week ago (edited)

Поражаюсь туполобости некоторых "демократов-капиталистов" в комментариях. Почти тридцать лет мы живём в капиталистическом обществе, имеем полный доступ к любой информации - изучай сколько влезет, называется... И вы за эти тридцать лет так и не смогли впихнуть в свой мозг информацию о происходящих в мире тенденциях, её систематизировать и сделать из неё вывод - вы безнадёжны.

Никто из вас не удосужился изучать источники разной направленности по теме капитализма и социализма, вы лишь прочли/услышали что-то одно, и приняли это за аксиому. Это совершенно ненаучный и не конструктивный подход к изучению проблемы! К сожалению, некоторые люди просто не способны думать объёмно, для них существует только плоскость или даже прямая линия, что есть признак ужасно узкого кругозора.

Я увидел в комментариях одно выражение, которое просто повергло меня в шок: "Нет на свете ни одного прогрессивного коммунистического государства и быть не может!" - здрасте! :D Вы хоть историю-то изучали? То есть СССР не был мировой сверхдержавой? А, ну да, это же была "страшная, отсталая, грязная и бедная страна-недоразумение, которая возникла по ужасной ошибке", как же я мог забыть современных историков) А как-же нынешний Китай? Он официально считается экономической сверхдержавой, кандидатом в мировые сверхдержавы, и темпы развития в нём имеют наивысший показатель на данный момент.

Плоскость и однонаправленность вашего мышления меня просто поразила, вы имеете радикальные взгляды, а радикализм - это всегда ошибочно. Кто-то написал: "Китай только официально коммунистический, на деле в нём другое устройство!" - ну это просто апогей идиотизма) Вы разве не понимаете, что человеческие взгляды могут совершенствоваться и изменяться, а система реформироваться? В Китае именно социалистический строй, который претерпел реформацию, в которой безусловно нуждался. Советский социализм также нуждался в реформации, и никто не говорит, что он был идеальным социализмом.

Совершенствование системы - это неотъемлемая часть прогресса, и если вы считаете, что социализм может быть только таким, каким он был в СССР - то вы глубоко ошибаетесь, и совершенно не понимаете значение слова "прогресс". Китай построил такой социализм, который даёт ему возможность делать поистине чудеса экономики, Китай богатеет и уровень жизни в нём растёт - если это не прогресс, то что тогда? Также хочу упомянуть КНДР. Да-да, США на неё повесили ярлык "отсталого голодающего тоталитарного государства", и скорее всего вы, радикальные капиталисты, даже не думали с ними спорить и что-то дополнительно про КНДР узнавать, что, опять-же, говорит о плоскости и некритичности, я бы даже сказал суеверности вашего мышления. КНДР - страна очень маленькая, в основном с горной местностью, и природных ресурсов в ней очень мало. "Демократы" из ООН и НАТО обложили КНДР санкциями со всех сторон, из-за которых она не может развивать внешнюю торговлю, что губительно для маленькой страны с худым запасом ресурсов. Поддерживать экономику, снабжать людей достатком товаров и в целом держать страну на современном уровне в условиях торговой изоляции и недостатка ресурсов - это неподъёмная задача для капитализма. Но корейский социализм умудрился, при всех этих условиях, победить голод, поддерживать бесплатное образование, медицину и т.д., обеспечивать людей местом жительства, работой и доходом, сохранить суверенность своего государства и идеологию, и, ВНИМАНИЕ, создать с нуля ядерную бомбу . Это чудеса, северокорейский строй решает задачи, которые поистине неподъёмные в её условиях.

Конечно, в КНДР жесткий тоталитаризм, ведь когда страна изолирована от внешнего мира во всех аспектах, соседние страны настроены враждебно (а со стороны США вообще идёт угроза прямого вторжения, или даже ядерного удара), со страной ведут жёсткую идеологическую информационную войну, сохранить существующий строй - задача крайне сложная, и выполнить её можно только при жёсткой дисциплине и контрпропаганде. Я уважаю Северную Корею, она наглядно показывает, что социализм может творить чудеса. Конечно же, я вас переубедить не смог, радикальные вы капиталисты, но тем из вас, кои способны хоть немножко думать своей черепушкой, я, возможно, поселил мысль о том, что социализм - это далеко не только плановая экономика, что он может меняться и прогрессировать, что именно к нему идут все развитые страны, и что утопический коммунизм - это строй, который мы ещё представить себе не можем, но который обязательно наступит через многие годы, или столетия прогресса. Избавляйтесь от своих радикальных взглядов, и старайтесь думать объективно - это очень полезно для кругозора. Спасибо.


Asus Z370
, 1 year ago

По Млечину : хорошо разработанная и осуществлённая операция по устранению конкурентов и внедрению "своего". Возникают вопросы: кто проводил операцию? Где была организация отвечающая за государственную безопасность (КГБ)? В 2017м демпартия США подняла вой о,якобы,вмешательстве России в избирательный процесс в США. Кто ответит:было ли вмешательство заграницы в процессы, о которых поведал Млечин? Если было,то России так же, по образу и подобию, надо поднимать вой. Это серьёзно.Кто ответит?


Вин Лу
, 3 years ago

ЦРУ того времени было значительно круче чем КГБ. К тому же против КГБ действовала и МИ6 и израильская разведка!


MUZZY BUZZY
, 2 days ago

Горбачев попал в Политбюро на место убитого Мащерова, которого убили за 2 недели до преступления к обязанностям в Политбюро.


Александр Скрыбель
, 3 days ago

Горбачев Родину продал, а Ельцин её пропил. Горбачев виноградники повырубал, а Ельцин травил народ не качественным спиртом. В итоге, если бы не Путин, то развязка была бы давным давно, хотя он тоже не подарок, отдал страну на разграбление олигархам.


болельщик Тотенхэм Хотспур
, 2 weeks ago

Горбачёв типичный номенклатурщик. Послушный, мягкий, ну может и прогибался ради своей высокой карьеры, но наверняка не чаял президентом стать. Но потом когда всё случилось, стал входить во вкус, то есть жена стала проникаться важностью своего положения при таком муженьке. А когда пришлось отказаться от власти он НИСКОЛЬКО не скорбел о потерянном кресле и стране. Его посдили "на мягкую подушечку" и он стал жить поживать в Америке, даже не понимая, что его бездарность, как политика, послужила развалу СССР. Он не понимает этого и сейчас. А может НЕ желает признавать. Может на смертном одре передумает строить из себя униженного и оскорблённого и в чём-нибудь признается, хотя бы самому себе. Правда, для этого смелость нужна.


KainTanatos
, 3 weeks ago

Горбачев не увлекался горячительными напитками???? Ну ну!!! Я родственник председателя крайкома СК в бытность Горбачева...Его из машин вытаскивали лежа


Борис Павлов
, 1 month ago

Это был заговор партийной элиты о разрушении системы они уже зажратые были СССР побоку им был


DOGRU OLAN
, 2 months ago

Нечего горбачева обеливать!Он виноват,да еще как!Будь он трижды проклят!Этот человек не руководитель,разве не видно было из его речей,что за он скоморох?!Как может шут руководить огромной страной и как вообще можно было доверить легкомысленному человеку руководить государством,он же не "А ни Б,НИ КУКАРЕКУ"?!Полный идиот!!!!!


Kamtayak Abdr
, 5 months ago

Перед развалом Союза ,этот придурок начал обсирать КАЗАКСТАН,я тогда ушёл в запас,и было обидно за академика Кунаева,За родину мою,а на флоте мы гордились ,когда перед строем кораблей Старший офицер Азаров говорил казакстанцы ,мы едим хлеб из каз-й муки тушёнка из kz,балык и икра,одеты мы в KZ канадки и свитера из Кызыл орды,А вот атомные ПЛ из казакстанского титана- и мы были горды за казакстан И вот ОН наносит обсирающий удар?а дальше нам все стало ясно.


pavel pavel
, 2 weeks ago

Млечный как всегда врет , не умного Горбатого плохо говорящего по русски двигала ЦРУ и как я понимаю сейчас многие советские парта геносе знали об этом , почему , ???почему они продали все советское в котором жили ???за деньги или разочарование произошло от этого марксизма и ленинизма, ,,,мы простые люди не когда не узнаем...но я уверен , что Брежнев уже был не руководитель что Путин ,,,,почему ???что то им мешает , а то и наоборот они и есть гарантия чтоб страна не развивалась ,

Boris Petrovich , 5 months ago

Пшеницу покупали в Канаде,Союз изжил себя,,,вина Горбача только в одном,,,первое Крым хохлам не отдавать,,и русских в Прибалтике не трогать,все это надо было говорить Бушу,,ставить условия

Ravil Aitov , 5 years ago

Похоже ЦРУ круче КГБ.

[Dec 29, 2018] Throughout its existence the Soviet Union was hobbled by the sanctions imposed on it by the capitalist world

Dec 29, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Dec 27, 2018 5:01:47 PM | link

Throughout its existence the Soviet Union was hobbled by the sanctions imposed on it by the capitalist world. Despite being uniquely qualified, by virtue of its geography and culture, to survive without being part of the international economy, it had to pay much more, by being forced to rely on its own resources, than other countries for every advance that it made economically.
And then it was constantly under threat of coordinated military attack by the richest and most technically advanced powers, led by the anglo-US empire. Twice it was invaded by massive international coalitions, in 1918 and 1041. Twice its industrial base and its infrastructure were reduced to smoking ruins.Twice it had to rebuild, from the ground up without the assistance of foreign capital.
By contrast the imperial powers, bent on crushing it by economic or military means, throughout its existence came through the period virtually unscathed-its great rival the US actually thrived from threw two world wars.
It was this fate which China, under imperial pressure after the 1949 Revolution, was determined to escape. And so far, since it changed course and played the US and the Soviet Union off against each other, it has made great strides forward-advances complementing the enormous gains made after 1949, during which period all the basic indicators of well being, life expectancy included, rose and a firm base was established for future improvement. And this at a time when the US used every means in its power, including biological warfare, to weaken China and reduce its people to starvation.
For example China-well known for its polluted air-is well in advance of North America in its development of renewable energy sources and seems genuinely committed to replacing fossil fuels.
Nor is it using its growing strength to engage in military adventures and impose its rule on others.
It is important when considering China not to repeat the mistakes of some of the neo-Trotskyist factions whose theory that the Soviet Union was just another capitalist society (something that most Russians disagree with) was an important part of the Empire's ideological struggle against the Soviet Union in the world and socialism everywhere. China is not a communist country but it serves its people much better than, for example, India. And it certainly plays a vital role, together with Russia in resisting the Imperial ruling class's campaigns to reduce the globe to accepting the diktats of Washington, Wall St and Hollywood.

[Dec 21, 2018] Vadim Rogovin and the sociology of Stalinism by Andrea Peters

Notable quotes:
"... The State and the Opposition ..."
"... Social Development and Societal Morals ..."
"... Social Development and Societal Morals ..."
"... Was There an Alternative? ..."
"... Political Education ..."
"... Economic Sciences ..."
"... Sociological Research ..."
"... The Revolution Betrayed ..."
"... Was There an Alternative? ..."
Sep 25, 2018 | www.wsws.org

... In the introduction to the second volume in his series, The State and the Opposition , Rogovin noted:

A peculiarity of the counter-revolution realized by Stalin and his accomplices was that it took place under the ideological cover of Marxist phraseology and never-ending attestations of loyalty to the October Revolution Naturally, such a counter-revolution demanded historically unprecedented conglomerations of lies and falsifications, the fabrication of ever-newer myths

Similar to the Stalinists, modern anti-communists use two kinds of myths: namely, ideological and historical. Under ideological myths we have in mind false ideas, oriented to the future -- that is, illusory prognoses and promises. These sorts of products of false consciousness reveal their mythological character by way of their practical realization.

Myths that appeal not to the future but to the past are another matter.

In principle, it is easier to expose these myths than anti-scientific prognoses and reactionary projects.

Like ideological ones, historical myths are a product of immediate class interests products of historical ignorance or deliberate falsification -- that is, the concealment of some historical facts, the tendentious exaggeration, and the distorted interpretation of others.

Refuting these myths is only possible by rehabilitating historical truth -- the honest portrayal of actual facts and tendencies of the past.

In this work, Rogovin argued that the fundamental problem facing the USSR was "a deepening of socially unjustified differentiation of incomes and the comforts of life." "Workers regularly encounter instances of unearned enrichment through the deceit and the ripping-off of the state and the people. [ ] Certain groups of the population have the means to meet their needs at a scale beyond any reasonable norms and outside of their relationship to social production. [ ] There does not exist any systematic control of sources of income and the acquisition of valuable goods," he wrote.

In a remarkable statement, inequality, he insisted, not wage-leveling, expressed "in essence, the social structure of [Soviet] society."

Rogovin called for the implementation of income declarations, whereby people would be required to report the size of their total income, not just their official wages, so that the government and researchers might actually know the real distribution of earnings. He advocated for the establishment of a "socially-guaranteed maximum income" to combat "unjustified inequality."

Vadim Rogovin and Nina Naumova's 1984 Social Development and Societal Morals

Elsewhere, Rogovin further argued that inequality lay at the center of the USSR's falling labor productivity. In a work co-authored with Nina Naumova, Social Development and Societal Morals , he maintained that the socio-economic crisis facing the USSR stemmed from the fact that inequality was growing in Soviet society; people worked poorly in the Soviet Union not because their work was inadequately remunerated relative to others, but because their commitment to social production had been eroded by intensifying social stratification that was unrecorded in official statistics.

In 1983, the very same year that Rogovin authored his critical report on the state of inequality in the USSR that ended up in the hands of the Moscow authorities, another sociologist, Tatyana Zaslavskaya, would issue a report, kept secret at first but later leaked to the Western press, advocating a transition to "economic methods of management," -- in other words, market-based reforms. A central aspect of this was policy centered around increasing inequality in workers' compensation in order to stimulate production. Zaslavskaya noted at the time that such reforms would be opposed by what she described as "the more apathetic, the more elderly, and the less qualified groups of workers."

In a few years, Zaslavskaya would become a leading advisor to Mikhail Gorbachev and one of the main architects of the pro-market, perestroika reforms. In 1986, she was appointed the head of the Soviet Sociological Association. Her positions were widely embraced by the discipline.

Tatiana Zaslavskaya and Mikhail Gorbachev 1989 at Congress of People's Deputies. [Copyright RIA Novosti]

In contrast, Rogovin's views were frequently, and ever more so, the object of sharp criticism. In 1985, a discussion occurred at the Institute of Sociology regarding a report produced by Rogovin and his research team about Soviet lifestyles. In it, Rogovin made openly critical comments about the anti-egalitarian impact of the shadow economy and the transfer of wealth through inheritance. It was sharply criticized by some of the Institute's top scholars, who both disagreed with its content and were nervous about the response it might get from the authorities. At the discussion, one such individual remarked:

The report by the author presented here has two basic failings: 1) it is inadequately self-critical; 2) the authors, and in particular, Rogovin himself, aren't appropriately thinking of the addressee to whom this report is directed. The report is going to the highest levels [of the Communist Party] and superfluous emotion is not necessary. The next criticism [I have] is about "unjustified inequality." In principle, there can be no such thing.

[ ] in the note to the TsK KPSS [Central Committee of the Communist Party] [ ] the recommendations [that you make] demand the utmost care in how you approach them, particularly those that relate to the "third economy" and taxes on inheritance. [There should be] a minimum of categoricalness and a maximum of conciliatoriness.

As the decade wore on, Rogovin began to adopt an ever more critical stance on perestroika , whose devastating economic consequences were increasingly showing themselves. Rather than bringing prosperity to the masses, Gorbachev's reforms created a total crisis in the state sector of the economy, exacerbating widespread shortages in food, clothing and other basic necessities. Economic growth declined from 1986 onwards. In 1989, inflation reached 19 percent, eroding the gains the population had made in income over the preceding years. As the scholar John Elliot noted, "When account is taken of additional costs, real per capita income and real wages probably decreased, particularly for the bottom half of the population. These costs included: deteriorating quality and unavailability of goods; proliferation of special distribution channels; longer and more time-consuming lines; extended rationing; higher prices and higher inflation-rates in non-state stores (e.g., collective farm market prices were nearly three times those in state stores in 1989); virtual stagnation in the provision of health and education; and the growth of barter, regional autarky, and local protectionism."

Newly established private enterprises had great leeway to set prices because they faced little to no competition from the state sector. They charged whatever the market would bear, which led to substantial increases in income inequality and poverty, with the most vulnerable layers of the population hardest hit. The changes were so severe that Elliot insists that "income inequalities had actually become greater in the USSR than in the USA." In the late 1980s, fully two-thirds of the Soviet population had an income that fell below the officially-recommended "decent level" of 100 to 150 rubles a month. At the same time, the shadow economy alone is estimated to have produced 100,000–150,000 millionaires in the late 1980s. By the early 1990s, one-quarter of the population or 70 million people were destitute according to official Soviet estimates. Miners' strikes and other signs of social discontent erupted across the country.

Sociologists were intimately aware of the growing popular discontent. The Communist Party bureaucracy called upon them to help manage the situation. In 1989, the director of the Institute of Sociology received a request from the highest layers of the Communist Party. He was asked to respond to a letter from a rank-and-file party member that expressed extreme hostility towards the country's "elites." The letter writer described the party as dominated by an "opportunist nucleus" and called for the waging of a "class war" by the working masses against their policies. The ideology division of the Central Committee of the Communist Party wanted the Institute's director to respond to the letter because the sentiments expressed in it were "widespread (representative) [sic] among the working class."

Soviet economist and sociologist Genady Lisichkin

In the midst of these circumstances, Rogovin came under fire in one of the country's media outlets for articles he was writing against the promotion of social inequality. Since the mid-1980s, he had been championing the implementation of income declarations that would require people to report their full earnings, progressive taxes, and a socially-declared maximum income. Based on the amount of positive correspondence he was receiving from readers, it was clear that his views resonated with the population, a fact noted by Western scholars at the time. In a public press debate with the economist Gennady Lisichkin, the latter accused Rogovin of wanting to strengthen the hand of the bureaucracy and implied that he was a Stalinist. He was allegedly guilty of "Luddism," religious-like preaching, misquoting Marx to find support for his arguments, wanting the state to have the power to move people around "like cattle," defending a deficit-system of distribution based on "ration cards," suffering from "left-wing" infantilism, and being a "demagogue" and a "war communist." He attempted to link Rogovin to the very force to which he was most hostile -- Stalinism. The head of the Soviet Sociological Association, Tatiana Zaslavskaya, openly endorsed Lisichkin's positions.

The disagreements between Rogovin and other scholars over perestroika evolved into a fierce dispute about Soviet history and the nature of Stalinism. Rogovin identified a relationship between cheerleading for pro-market reforms and historical falsification. There was an increasingly widespread effort to link egalitarianism with Stalinism, the struggle for equality with political repression. In Was There an Alternative? , Rogovin frequently talked about the fact that the move towards a market economy was accompanied by the propagation of myths about Soviet history. This was one of those myths.

In 1991, Zaslavskaya co-authored a book that claimed that the Soviet Union's problems lay in the fact that in the late 1920s it abandoned the New Economic Policy (NEP), during which the government had loosened state control of the economy and restored market relations to an extent, in an effort to revitalize the economy under conditions of isolation, backwardness, and near economic collapse due to years of war. A one-sided and historically dishonest account of the NEP, this work did not contain any discussion of the political struggle that occurred during the NEP between Stalin and the Left Opposition over the malignant growth of inequality, the bureaucratization of the state and economy, and the crushing of inner-party democracy. The book skipped over this history because it would have cut across one of the central arguments made at the time in favor of perestroika -- that market relations were inherently at odds with the interests of the Communist Party bureaucracy. The book's account of labor policy under Stalin was also false. It insisted that during the 1930s revolutionary enthusiasm was the primary method used to stimulate people to work, ignoring the fact that income inequality rose substantially at this time. As the scholar Murray Yanowitch has pointed out, under Stalin "equality mongering" was labeled the brainchild of "Trotskyites, Zinovievites, Bukharinites and other enemies of the people."

In the 1980s, sociologists and other scholars promoting perestroika sought to imbue these policies with a humanitarian mission, insisting that market reforms would allow "the human factor," which had been crushed under the weight of bureaucratic stagnation, to rise again. The "human factor" was defined as man's desire for personal recognition through differentiated, material reward. It was supposedly the primary driver of human activity. To the degree that official wage policy in the USSR led to a relatively egalitarian distribution of social resources with wages leveled-out between skilled and unskilled labor, it flew in the face of man's desire for recognition of his own individual contribution. Rising inequality in income -- necessitated by the demands of socio-economic development -- was part of the process of "humanizing socialism." The argument was made that increasing social stratification would ultimately provide real "socialist justice."

As Tatiana Zaslavskaya claimed in 1990, "Despite all its limitations, the 'classical' market is, in fact, a democratic (and therefore anti-bureaucratic) economic institution. Within the framework of its exchange relationships, all participants are at least formally equal; no-one is subordinated to anyone else. Buyers and sellers act in their own interests and nobody can make them conclude deals they do not want to conclude. The buyers are free to select sellers who will let them have goods on the most advantageous terms, but the sellers too can chose buyers offering the best price."

In making this argument, scholars relied upon the official Soviet definition of socialism -- "from each according to his ability, to each according to his labor" -- that was enshrined in the country's 1936 constitution. This was also known as the Stalin constitution.

In 1988, Rogovin used the concept of the "human factor" to make a very different argument. In a piece entitled, "The Human Factor and the Lessons of the Past," he insisted that the defense of social inequality by the Soviet elite was one of the key reasons why the "human factor" had degenerated in the USSR. The very best elements of "the human factor" had been crushed by Stalin during the Terror. Corruption, disillusionment, parasitism, careerism and individual self-promotion -- the most distinctive features of the Brezhnev era -- were the "human factor" created by Stalinism. In promoting inequality and the market, Rogovin insisted, perestroika did not mark a break with Stalinism or the legacy of the Brezhnev era, as was so often claimed, but rather their further realization.

One year later he wrote, "The adherents of the new elitist conceptions want to see Soviet society with such a level of social differentiation that existed under Stalin but having gotten rid of Stalinist repression. It is forgotten that the debauched character of these repressions [ ] flowed from the effort to not simply restrain, but rather physically annihilate above all those forces in the party and in the country that, though silenced, rejected the social foundations of Stalinism."

After years of studying these questions in near-total isolation, Rogovin was finally able to write openly about this subject. He tested the waters by first publishing "L.D. Trotsky on Art" in August 1989 in the journal Theater . It was followed shortly thereafter by an article entitled "The Internal Party Struggles of the 1920s: Reasons and Lessons," also published in a journal outside of his discipline, Political Education . Moving closer to a forum likely to be followed by his colleagues in sociology, in early 1990 Rogovin published "L.D. Trotsky on NEP" in Economic Sciences . And finally, a few months later, "L.D. Trotsky on Social Relations in the USSR" came out in the flagship journal of his discipline, Sociological Research .

Rogovin's first article on the subject within his discipline reviewed Trotsky's role in Soviet history during the 1920s and summarized his seminal work, The Revolution Betrayed . It made clear to whom Rogovin fundamentally owed the views he had been advancing over the course of the previous decade.

Trotsky, however, continued to be vilified by Soviet officialdom. In 1987, on the 70th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, Gorbachev described Trotsky as "the arch-heretic of Soviet history, an 'excessively self-assured politician who always vacillated and cheated."

As a result of Rogovin's profound sympathies for Trotskyism and efforts to place his work in the tradition of the Left Opposition's critique of Stalinism, he was increasingly isolated from his colleagues, several of whom entered the Yeltsin administration and helped facilitate the eventual implementation of shock therapy, a key component of capitalist restoration in Russia. His discipline never forgave him for his intransigence and principles. One will find almost no mention of Rogovin or his contributions in the numerous monographs and other publications that have come out over the last 20 years about sociology in the USSR.

But Rogovin's isolation from Soviet sociology did not undermine his capacity to work. Rather, it coincided with the start of the publication of Was There an Alternative? In 1992, Rogovin met the International Committee of the Fourth International, and established a close political and intellectual relationship with the world Trotskyist movement that would intensify over the course of the next several years. This relationship was the basis upon which Rogovin made his immense contribution to the fight to defend Trotsky and historical truth. Two recently republished tributes to Rogovin by David North review this history.

Despite his death twenty years ago, through his work Rogovin continues his struggle to arm the working class with historical consciousness.

[Nov 24, 2018] Oil and commodity markets were used as a finishing move on the Soviet system.

Nov 24, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

RioGrandeImports, 21 seconds ago link

Oil and commodity markets were used as a finishing move on the Soviet system. The book, "The Oil Card: Global Economic Warfare in the 21st Century" by James R. Norman details the use of oil futures as a geopolitical tool. Pipelines change the calculus quite a bit.

[Nov 10, 2018] How Secession from the Soviet Union Created Booming Economies and Innovative Government Zero Hedge

Notable quotes:
"... With all due cynical respect... I find it highly ironic that some of the biggest money launderers and Mafiosi are Baltic banks. The hilarity never ends. ..."
"... Full scale bull ****. No single former Soviet bloc country get into economic level of pre-Berlin wall fall. They are done. ..."
Nov 10, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

DoctorFix , 46 minutes ago link

With all due cynical respect... I find it highly ironic that some of the biggest money launderers and Mafiosi are Baltic banks. The hilarity never ends.

Moribundus , 1 hour ago link

Here is classic: GDP PPP per capita. What to pay attention.

#1, After 30 years and joining EU and NATO there is no difference in former Soviet bloc. Just looks like Russia is greatest profiteer. Now those parasites are chained to west.

#2, countries of former Soviet bloc are in better shape than countries that were in sphere of western imperialism. Especially look at countries where USA imperialism worked since 1823 Monroe's doctrine. Chart shows that in 200 years USA was not able to achieve much progress despite permanent military interventions and political influence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

Moribundus , 1 hour ago link

Latvia, a disappearing nation

https://www.politico.eu/article/latvia-a-disappearing-nation-migration-population-decline/

Moribundus , 1 hour ago link

Full scale bull ****. No single former Soviet bloc country get into economic level of pre-Berlin wall fall. They are done.

Europe's Depopulation Time Bomb Is Ticking in the Baltics

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-20/europe-s-depopulation-time-bomb-is-ticking-in-the-baltics

Cohen-cide-nce , 2 hours ago link

The balts have become them most libtarded cucks in the EU. They all need to get nuked. Bunch of atheist-feminist faggots.

Dick Buttkiss , 1 hour ago link

Due punishment, no doubt, for being on the cutting edge of technology-driven economic development and personal freedom.

From what planet/galaxy/universe does your information emanate?

Trader200K , 2 hours ago link

As much as I like the idea of taking my state to Estonia status, too many winner-take-all politicians and weak thinkers to recognize that new borders would solve lots and lots of problems.

Socialists are clearly smart, but in actuality just simple evil, immoral thieves. They will be unlikely to support any secession because they know their enemies are the source of their lucre.

Balkanization, what little there will be, will most likely come after we are drug into WWIII and we are back to a 1700's subsistence existence.

A pessimist is never disappointed, but I will happily take an optimist's surprise if people just stop and live and let live.

Flankspeed60 , 3 hours ago link

If at first you don't secede.............

Dick Buttkiss , 2 hours ago link

.............. try, try to "Unchain America" next July 4. What better way to celebrate Independence Day than with a joining of hands across the land, if not to secede, then to affirm our right to, one state at a time?

Are one in 66 Americans not prepared to do so?

Salzburg1756 , 3 hours ago link

So... Diversity is their strength? Or was I misinformed?

Dick Buttkiss , 3 hours ago link

It's 2,790 miles from New York to Los Angeles, which is 14,731,200 feet. At three feet per person, it would take around 4,910,400 people -- less than 1/66th of the US population -- to make a human chain like the three Balkan states did.

Count me in.

[Oct 02, 2018] I myself think the USSR collapsed because of two main factors that are inteconnected with the world geopolitics of its time

Oct 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Oct 1, 2018 1:34:54 PM | link

@ Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Oct 1, 2018 1:25:43 AM | 73

The collapse of the USSR is a very complex issue, and we still don't have a consensus (among the people who study this seriously).

I myself think the USSR collapsed because of two main factors that are inteconnected with the world geopolitics of its time:

1) the USSR couldn't make the transition from the second to the third industrial revolution in the 70s (i.e. from fordism to toyotism/ohnism). Albeit it is true the USA never really embraced toyotism (just some pockets in the Silicon Valley and the financial sector), it is a fact the capitalist world, as a whole, did, because it worked out in Japan and South Korea -- many of these techonologies bleeding to the world market.

The USSR, since Stalin, adopted a method of "socialist primitive accumulation", where every techonological revolution depended on a forced (centralized) global collectivization: the old had to be entirely dismantled for the new to be built over the carcass of this old. This was a brutal (albeit quick and effective) method, so it was always risky and left the USSR exposed to the capitalists militarily.

Another problem with the USSR system was that toyotism was based on heavy investment in "human capital", i.e. investment on the workers' education and specialization. Forced collectivization, therefore, excluded the possibility of toyotism by design, so it was never truly an option for the post-Stalin Soviet leaders.

In a world only the USSR and the COMECON countries existed, it could've be stationed in the second industrial revolution forever: the USSR never had a recession (except in 1990 and 1991, when it was already de facto capitalist). It was stagnant, but not collapsing. But it didn't exist alone: on the other side of Berlin, there was the capitalist world, and, in this dual world, not transitioning to toyotism was not an option for the Soviet Union.

2) In a bipolar world, with the toyotism path closed, Soviet bureaucrats developed a class sentiment, which put pressure from the inside on the Soviet inherent egalitarian system. In other words, the USSR was a victim of its own success: the problem was that that success came too early, in a world where capitalism still existed.

In the 1980s, the USSR had already eradicated poverty and the most well-paid worker (a high bureaucrat) received four times the salary of the lowest-paid worker. The basic public services (transport, education and healthcare) already were free at the point of use and universal and of a very good quality.

The problem was that the USSR emphasized too much on the production of infrastructure and too little on consumption goods, which were already of a poor quality when compared to the Western ones. The high Soviet bureaucracy, in constant contact with the capitalist world, was then slowly, but surely, coopted by the delicacies of the West, and thus developed a urge of class distinction.

This "urge" can be illustrated by an anecdote. When Yeltsin was still the President of Soviet Russia, George H. W. Bush invited him to Houston. There, he was marvelled by Jack Daniel's whiskey and asked for some cases for the trip back. Therefore the joke he sold the Soviet Union for two cases of Jack Daniel's.

[Sep 29, 2018] A CIA lucky break How the death of the 'Smiling Pope' helped Washington win the Cold War -- RT Op-ed

Notable quotes:
"... "The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted," ..."
"... "He talked particularly of his concern over 'Los Desaparecidos', people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome," ..."
"... "His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him 'tirare fuori le unghie', to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power." ..."
"... But John Paul I never lived to exercise his "tremendous power." ..."
"... "The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?" ..."
"... David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a "state within a state." ..."
"... "Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard," ..."
"... "The single fact of John Paul II's election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out," ..."
"... In 1985, Agca's confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money "if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope's life." ..."
"... "ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. 'The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,' Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee." ..."
"... In 2011, a new book entitled 'To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II', which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism. ..."
"... The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane 'greed is good' model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for "grave social injustices" and acknowledged that Marxism contained "a kernel of truth." He said that "the ideology of the market" made solidarity between people "difficult at best." In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism. ..."
"... Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66 ..."
"... Think your friends would be interested? Share this story! ..."
Sep 29, 2018 | www.rt.com

The sudden death of Pope John Paul I, exactly 40 years ago today, stunned the world. The 'Smiling Pope' had only served for 33 days. His demise and replacement by John Paul II marked an important turning point in the old Cold War. The year 1978, as I argued in a previous op-ed, was the year today's world was made.

There was nothing inevitable about the ascendancy of Reagan and Thatcher, the rise of groups like Al-Qaeda and IS, and the downfall of the Soviet Union. The neoliberal, neoconservative world order and its associated violence came about because of key events and decisions which took place 40 years ago. The Vatican was at the heart of these events.

The drama which unfolded there in the summer of 1978 would have been rejected as being too far-fetched if sent in as a film script. In a space of two and a half months, we had three different Popes. There was no great surprise when, on August 6, the first of them, Pope Paul VI, died after suffering a massive heart attack. The Supreme Pontiff, who had served since 1963, was 80 and had been in declining health. But the death of his much younger successor, John Paul I, a radical reformer who wanted to build a genuine People's Church, has fuelled conspiracy theories to this day.

Read more Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin and National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski walk in Camp David 09 December 1978 © AFP 1978: The year today's world was made

Cardinal Albino Luciani, the working-class son of a bricklayer (and staunch socialist), from a small town in northern Italy, was a Pope like no other. He refused a coronation and detested being carried on the sedia gestatoria – the Papal chair. He hated pomp and circumstance and pretentiousness. His speeches were down to earth and full of homely observations, with regular references to popular fiction. He possessed a gentle humor and always had a twinkle in his eye. He was by all accounts an incredibly sweet man.

But there was steel there, too. Luciani was determined to root out corruption, and to investigate the complex financial affairs of the Vatican's own bank, and its connection to the scandal-hit Banco Ambrosiano.

While he had declared communism to be incompatible with Christianity, his father's egalitarian ethos stayed with him. "The true treasures of the Church are the poor, the little ones to be helped not merely by occasional alms but in the way they can be promoted," he once said. At a meeting with General Videla of Argentina, he made clear his abhorrence of fascism. "He talked particularly of his concern over 'Los Desaparecidos', people who had vanished off the face of Argentinian earth in their thousands. By the conclusion of the 15th minute audience the General began to wish that he had heeded the eleventh-hour attempts of Vatican officials to dissuade him coming to Rome," noted David Yallop in his book 'In God's Name'.

One cleric, Father Busa, wrote of John Paul I: "His mind was as strong, as hard and as sharp as a diamond. That was where his real power was. He understood and had the ability to get to the centre of a problem. He could not be overwhelmed. When everyone was applauding the smiling Pope, I was waiting for him 'tirare fuori le unghie', to reveal his claws. He had tremendous power."

But John Paul I never lived to exercise his "tremendous power." He was found dead in his bed on the morning of September 28, 1978. The official story was that the 'Smiling Pope' had died from a heart attack. But it wasn't long before questions were being asked. John Paul I was only 65 and had appeared to be in fine health.

The fact that there was no post-mortem only added to the suspicions. "The public speculation that this death was not natural grew by the minute. Men and women were heard shouting at the inert form: Who has done this to you? Who has murdered you?" wrote David Yallop.

Read more © Tony Gentile / Reuters 'Sex is a gift of God': Pope Francis shares benefits of 'passionate' love, slams pornography

David Yallop revealed that on the day of his death, the Pope had discussed a reshuffle of Vatican staff with Secretary of State Cardinal Jean Villot, who was also to be replaced. Yallop claimed that the Pope had a list of a number of clerics who belonged to the Freemasons, membership of which was strictly prohibited by the Church. The most sinister of these Masonic lodges was the fiercely anti-communist Propaganda Due (P2), which held great influence in Italy at this time, being referred to as a "state within a state." The murky world of P2, and its leaders' links with organized crime, the Mafia and the CIA is discussed in 'In God's Name'.

Another writer, Lucien Gregoire, author of 'Murder by the Grace of God', points the finger of blame squarely at the CIA. He notes a seemingly strange coincidence, namely that on September 3, 1978, just 25 days before the Pope himself died, Metropolitan Nikodim, the visiting leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, who was later revealed to have been a KGB agent, fell dead at John Paul's feet in the Vatican after sipping coffee. He was only 48.

Gregoire says that the CIA dubbed John Paul I 'the Bolshevik Pope' and was keen to eliminate him before he presided over a conference the Puebla Conference in Mexico. "Had he lived another week, the United States would have been looking at a half a dozen mini-Cubas in its back yard," he writes.

While there's no shortage of suspects if you believe that John Paul I was murdered, it needs to be stressed that despite the contradictory statements made about the circumstances of his death, and the strange coincidences, no evidence has yet been produced to show that his death was not a natural one. What we can say though is that there will have been quite a few powerful and influential people in Italy and beyond who were relieved that the 'Smiling Pope' had such a short time in office.

His successor, the Polish Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, who took the name 'John Paul II' as a homage to his predecessor, made it clear that investigating the Vatican's financial activities and uncovering Freemasons was not a priority. As a patriotic Pole, his appointment was manna from Heaven for anti-communist hawks in the US State Department. "The single fact of John Paul II's election in 1978 changed everything. In Poland, everything began Then the whole thing spread. He was in Chile and Pinochet was out. He was in Haiti and Duvalier was out. He was in the Philippines and Marcos was out," said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, John Paul II's press secretary.

The way that Pope John Paul II spoke out against what he regarded as communist repression, not only in his native Poland but across Eastern Europe and beyond, saw him being toasted by the neocon faction. It might not have been just words either, which helped undermine communist rule. There was a rumor that 'God's Banker' Roberto Calvi, who in 1982 was found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London, had sent $50mn to 'Solidarity' in Poland on behalf of the Pope.

Read more FILE PHOTO: At the invitation of the Constantinople Patriarch, heads of all Orthodox churches meet at the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Istanbul, on MArch 9, 2014. Murad Sezer Biggest rift in modern Orthodox history? Russian Church won't work w/ Constantinople-chaired bodies

In May 1981, John Paul II was shot and wounded by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca. Neocons in the US promoted the narrative that it was a communist plot (organized by Bulgaria), but Sofia denied involvement. In 1985, Agca's confederate, Abdullah Catli, who was later killed in a car crash, testified that he had been approached by the West German BND spy organization, which promised him a large sum of money "if he implicated the Bulgarian secret service and the KGB in the attempt on the Pope's life."

Martin Lee, writing in Consortium News, also notes that in 1990, "ex-CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman disclosed that his colleagues, under pressure from CIA higher-ups, skewed their reports to try to lend credence to the contention that the Soviets were involved. 'The CIA had no evidence linking the KGB to the plot,' Goodman told the Senate Intelligence Committee."

In 2011, a new book entitled 'To Kill the Pope, the Truth about the Assassination Attempt on John Paul II', which was based on 20 years of research, concluded that the CIA had indeed tried to frame Bulgaria, in order to discredit communism.

The great irony of course is that after the Berlin Wall came down, Pope John Paul II became a strong critic of the inhumane 'greed is good' model of capitalism which had replaced communism. In Latvia, he said capitalism was responsible for "grave social injustices" and acknowledged that Marxism contained "a kernel of truth." He said that "the ideology of the market" made solidarity between people "difficult at best." In Czechoslovakia, he warned against replacing communism with materialism and consumerism.

Having enlisted the assistance of the Vatican in helping to bring down 'The Reds', the neo-liberals and neo-cons then turned on the Church. The Church survived communism, but it hasn't fared too well under consumerism. The Vatican is nowhere near as influential as it was in 1978. The US, meanwhile, unconstrained by a geopolitical counter-weight, threw its weight around the world after 1989, illegally invading and attacking a series of sovereign states.

One can only wonder how different things might have been if the 'Smiling Pope' had lived.

Follow Neil Clark @NeilClark66

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

[Aug 25, 2018] How to interfere in a foreign election by Stephen Kinzer

Notable quotes:
"... "I guess we've just got to pull up our socks and back ol' Boris again," Clinton told an aide. "I know the Russian people have to pick a president, and I know that means we've got to stop short of giving a nominating speech for the guy. But we've got to go all the way in helping in every other respect." Later Clinton was even more categorical: "I want this guy to win so bad it hurts." With that, the public and private resources of the United States were thrown behind a Russian presidential candidate. ..."
"... Four months before the election, Clinton arranged for the International Monetary Fund to give Russia a $10.2 billion injection of cash. Yeltsin used some of it to pay for election-year raises and bonuses, but much quickly disappeared into the foreign bank accounts of Russian oligarchs. The message was clear: Yeltsin knows how to shake the Western money tree. In case anyone missed it, Clinton came to Moscow a few weeks later to celebrate with his Russian partner. Oligarchs flocked to Yeltsin's side. American diplomats persuaded one of his rivals to drop out of the presidential race in order to improve his chances. ..."
"... Yeltsin won the election with a reported 54 percent of the vote. The count was suspicious and Yeltsin had wildly violated campaign spending limits, but American groups, some funded in part by Washington, rushed to pronounce the election fair. The New York Times called it "a victory for Russia." In fact, it was the opposite: a victory by a foreign power that wanted to place its candidate in the Russian presidency. ..."
"... American interference in the 1996 Russian election was hardly secret. On the contrary, the press reveled in our ability to shape the politics of a country we once feared. When Clinton maneuvered the IMF into giving Yeltsin and his cronies $10.2 billion, the Washington Post approved: "Now this is the right way to serve Western interests. . . It's to use the politically bland but powerful instrument of the International Monetary Fund." After Yeltsin won, Time put him on the cover -- holding an American flag. Its story was headlined, "Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisors Helped Yeltsin Win." The story was later made into a movie called "Spinning Boris." ..."
"... This was the first direct interference in a presidential election in the history of US-Russia relations. It produced bad results. Yeltsin opened his country's assets to looting on a mass scale. ..."
"... It is a delightful irony that shows how unwise it can be to interfere in another country's politics. If the United States had not crashed into a presidential election in Russia 22 years ago, we almost certainly would not be dealing with Putin today. ..."
Aug 19, 2018 | www.bostonglobe.com

FOR ONE OF THE world's major powers to interfere systematically in the presidential politics of another country is an act of brazen aggression. Yet it happened. Sitting in a distant capital, political leaders set out to assure that their favored candidate won an election against rivals who scared them. They succeeded. Voters were maneuvered into electing a president who served the interest of the intervening power. This was a well-coordinated, government-sponsored project to subvert the will of voters in another country -- a supremely successful piece of political vandalism on a global scale.

The year was 1996. Russia was electing a president to succeed Boris Yeltsin, whose disastrous presidency, marked by the post-Soviet social collapse and a savage war in Chechnya, had brought his approval rating down to the single digits. President Bill Clinton decided that American interests would be best served by finding a way to re-elect Yeltsin despite his deep unpopularity. Yeltsin was ill, chronically alcoholic, and seen in Washington as easy to control. Clinton bonded with him. He was our "Manchurian Candidate."

"I guess we've just got to pull up our socks and back ol' Boris again," Clinton told an aide. "I know the Russian people have to pick a president, and I know that means we've got to stop short of giving a nominating speech for the guy. But we've got to go all the way in helping in every other respect." Later Clinton was even more categorical: "I want this guy to win so bad it hurts." With that, the public and private resources of the United States were thrown behind a Russian presidential candidate.

Part of the American plan was public. Clinton began praising Yeltsin as a world-class statesman . He defended Yeltsin's scorched-earth tactics in Chechnya, comparing him to Abraham Lincoln for his dedication to keeping a nation together. As for Yeltsin's bombardment of the Russian Parliament in 1993, which cost 187 lives, Clinton insisted that his friend had "bent over backwards" to avoid it. He stopped mentioning his plan to extend NATO toward Russia's borders, and never uttered a word about the ravaging of Russia's formerly state-owned economy by kleptocrats connected to Yeltsin. Instead he gave them a spectacular gift.

Four months before the election, Clinton arranged for the International Monetary Fund to give Russia a $10.2 billion injection of cash. Yeltsin used some of it to pay for election-year raises and bonuses, but much quickly disappeared into the foreign bank accounts of Russian oligarchs. The message was clear: Yeltsin knows how to shake the Western money tree. In case anyone missed it, Clinton came to Moscow a few weeks later to celebrate with his Russian partner. Oligarchs flocked to Yeltsin's side. American diplomats persuaded one of his rivals to drop out of the presidential race in order to improve his chances.

RELATED

Four American political consultants moved to Moscow to help direct Yeltsin's campaign. The campaign paid them $250,000 per month for advice on "sophisticated methods of polling, voter contact and campaign organization." They organized focus groups and designed advertising messages aimed at stoking voters' fears of civil unrest. When they saw a CNN report from Moscow saying that voters were gravitating toward Yeltsin because they feared unrest, one of the consultants shouted in triumph: "It worked! The whole strategy worked. They're scared to death!"

Yeltsin won the election with a reported 54 percent of the vote. The count was suspicious and Yeltsin had wildly violated campaign spending limits, but American groups, some funded in part by Washington, rushed to pronounce the election fair. The New York Times called it "a victory for Russia." In fact, it was the opposite: a victory by a foreign power that wanted to place its candidate in the Russian presidency.

American interference in the 1996 Russian election was hardly secret. On the contrary, the press reveled in our ability to shape the politics of a country we once feared. When Clinton maneuvered the IMF into giving Yeltsin and his cronies $10.2 billion, the Washington Post approved: "Now this is the right way to serve Western interests. . . It's to use the politically bland but powerful instrument of the International Monetary Fund." After Yeltsin won, Time put him on the cover -- holding an American flag. Its story was headlined, "Yanks to the Rescue: The Secret Story of How American Advisors Helped Yeltsin Win." The story was later made into a movie called "Spinning Boris."

This was the first direct interference in a presidential election in the history of US-Russia relations. It produced bad results. Yeltsin opened his country's assets to looting on a mass scale. He turned the Chechen capital, Grozny, into a wasteland. Standards of living in Russia fell dramatically. Then, at the end of 1999, plagued by health problems, he shocked his country and the world by resigning. As his final act, he named his successor: a little-known intelligence officer named Vladimir Putin. It is a delightful irony that shows how unwise it can be to interfere in another country's politics. If the United States had not crashed into a presidential election in Russia 22 years ago, we almost certainly would not be dealing with Putin today.

[Jul 29, 2018] The USA intentionally tried to destroy Russia after the dissolution of the USSR

Notable quotes:
"... This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think. ..."
"... Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

John Perry July 28, 2018 at 1:48 pm

"Vladimir Putin rode a counter-wave of anti-Western nationalism to power in Moscow."

Uh, no. Putin came to power at a time when Russia seemed to be falling apart, quite literally. There was war in Chechnya, open criminal activity on the streets, and clear social decay. Putin's popularity begins with his address to the nation after the bombing of the Moscow metro, promising that the government (which he did not then lead) would chase those responsible down and kill them, even if that meant chasing them into outhouses. The relationship between the bombing and Putin's rise is so well-known that the conspiracy theorists who have Jay Nordlinger's ear over at National Review claim that the bombing was a set up by Putin's pals in the FSB, precisely to bring Putin to power.

My wife is Russian, from the city of Kazan in the Tatar Republic (part of Russia; it's complicated), and when we were merely pen pals in 2003 she wrote me what it was like. It was bad, very bad. At one point her entire neighborhood was placed under curfew on account of open warfare between criminal gangs. And of course when we visit the cemetery today one sees the striking spike in tombstones whose date of death is at some point in the mid- to late 90's, when it all seemed to be going to pieces and the government didn't even pay its own employees for half a year.

Today, by contrast, Russians can walk the streets more or less without fear, count on a paycheck, read in the news how their country has sent yet another capsule of Western astronauts to the international space station (because Westerners haven't been able to do that for the better part of a decade, thanks to Bush and Obama), and even find jobs in a successful tech sector (Kaspersky, JetBrains, Yandex, the list goes on).

But, hey, if you want to fantasize that Putin's rise is thanks to anti-Western sentiment, you go ahead and do that.

John Perry , says: July 28, 2018 at 1:53 pm
One other comment, if I may. I share the concern most Westerners have about Russia's seizure of Crimea. But where is our concern about Turkey's 40-plus-year occupation of northern Cyprus, also sparked by internal political disorder on the island? Why is it alright for a NATO country to invade another nation and prop up its separatists, expel the inhabitants of a disfavored ethnic group -- in this case, the Greeks?
Rodrigo Alvarez , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm
Shame on TAC for publishing this garbage. For one, Putin more or less saved Russia as a sovereign state, it is easy to forget the sorry condition Russia was in at the turn of the century. Without him, Russia would've most likely been dismembered or simply colonized by the West and China. He has performed admirably in the face of massive odds. Russia will still exist in 100 years as the state of the Russian and other native people of its land – can the same be said of the United States? Russia is slowly climbing its way out of the pit of despair created by 80 years of Communism, the United States is crawling into the very same pit.
Cynthia McLean , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:27 pm
I am much more concerned that voter roll purges, suppression of the vote, Citizen's United Dark Money and folks like the Kochs and Addelson are undermining US democracy than the Russians. As for the aggression of military machines around the world, the US wins hands down.
Groucho , says: July 28, 2018 at 6:37 pm
Like Fran my inclination was to bail after the first paragraph but I pushed on.

In the first paragraph Mr Desch lays out his position which is well within the bounds of polite discussion that Russia is a corrupt oligarchy but don't worry because it's an economic and military basketcase.

Where to start?

1. Corrupt kleptocracy. The Russian oligarchy/ mafia was a biproduct of the privatization binge that followed the collapse of the USSR. This evolved under the disastrous Yeltsin aided and abetted by US elites. The case of William Browder is instructive. Putin has taken significant measures to reassert government control and has greatly improved the lot of the average Russian.

2. Political freedom. Putin did not inherit a developed liberal democracy. Russia needs to be judged in the context of its own historical timeline in this regard not compared to western democracies. Do you prefer Stalin, Brezhnev, Andropov? In contrast compare the state and trajectory of US democratic institutions to, say the 1970s.

3. Human rights. Again the situation in Russia vis a vis human rights needs to be judged in terms of Russia's history not against Western nations with a long-standing tradition of human rights and political freedoms. That said, the illusion of political repression is largely overstated. For example Putin is routinely accused of murdering journalists but no real proof is ever offered. Instead, the statement is made again in this article as though it were self evident.

4. Foreign aggression. This is my favorite because it flies in the face of observable reality to the point of being ridiculous. Russia did not invade Ukraine. It provided support to ethnic Russians in Ukraine who rebelled after the illegal armed overthrow of the Russian leaning democratically elected president.That coup was directly supported by the United States. Far from ratcheting up tensions Russia has consistently pressed for the implementation of the Minsk accords. Putin is not interested in becoming responsible for the economic and political basket case which is Ukraine. The "largely bloodless" occupation of Crimea was actually a referendum in which the citizens of Crimea overwhelmingly supported annexation to Russia. Again This result makes sense in light of even a basic understanding of Russian history. Finally, in the case of Georgia Russia engaged after Georgia attacked what was essentially a Russian protectorate. This was the conclusion reached by an EU investigation.

Russia's so-called aggressive foreign-policy has been primarily in response to NATOs continuous push eastward and the perceived need to defend ethnic Russians from corrupt ultranationalist governments in former republics of the USSR. This is what Putin was talking about when he called the dissolution of the USSR one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century – the fact that, overnight 20 million Russians found themselves living in foreign countries. It wasn't about longing for a Russian empire.

As for the current state of Russias military capabilities, Mr Desch Would do well to read Pepe Escobar's recent article in the Asia Times. Russian accomplishments in Syria illustrated a level of technology and strategic effectiveness that rivals anything the US can do. Name one other nation – other than the US – that can design and build a world class 6th generation fighter jet or develop its own space program. Even Germany can't do that.

This silly article is proof, as if more was needed that what passes for Russia scholarship in the US is little more than politicized group-think.

laninya , says: July 28, 2018 at 7:45 pm
VG1959
"It is in the pursuit of empire that Putin, like Napoleon or Hitler before him, threatens the stability of Europe and by extension world peace."

Ah! ha!ha! Right.

Like Russia with a population of 150 million persons inhabiting a land mass that stretches across 9 or 10 time zones, from the Arctic pole to the Black Sea is chafing for "lebensraum" !?

No, Russia just wants to develop what it already owns. And, trying to do it on the strength of their own efforts (no overseas colonies filling the coffers), on a GDP as Winston, above, has pointed out which is smaller than that some US states. They're focussed, not on grabbing tiny, constipated territories like Estonia. Latvia, and Lithuania (full of Nazi sympathizers), but on bringing back to life those ancient trade routes which are their inheritance from the past (the Silk Road, primarily).

Why not just leave them alone and see what they can do? Those who have been relentlessly picking fault with Russia (and North Korea) might want to put down their megaphones and start taking notes.

What I mean is: pause for a moment to consider that:

1. Russia has risen from utter economic, political, and societal collapse (gold reserves, factories, military secrets, science labs stripped bare and shipped or brain-drained out of the country; millions of pre-mature deaths; plunging birth rates) to recover, within a mere 20 years, to the point where the population has stabilized and the nation can credibly hold its own again on the world stage. Infrastructure is being rebuilt and modernized, the military has been restructured and re-equipped, pensions and salaries have risen 3 or 4-fold.

2. North Korea, in 1953, had been so destroyed by war that no structures over a single story were left standing (and American generals were actually barfing into their helmets at the horror of what had been done to those people). The DPRK authorities, helpless to assist the population, could only advise to dig shelters underground to survive the winter. Yet, 70 years later, under international sanctions designed to starve those traumatized people into surrender, North Korea has restored its infrastructure, built modern cities, and developed a military apparatus able to credibly resist constant threats from abroad.

See: rather than picking nits to find things that are not yet perfectly hunky-dory with the governing structures/systems in those countries, I'm taking notes!!

Because, I'm convinced that if those people (those nations) were able to do what they've done with the time and resources they've had to work with, there is absolutely no reason and no excuse for our rich nations of "the West" to be caught in a nightmare of austerity budgeting, crumbling infrastructure, collapsing pensions, and spiralling debt.

Funny how the English speaking world SO resisst learning something that could actually do us a whole lot of good. I don't know who coined the terms "stiffnecked" and "bloodyminded", but it sure describes us!

connecticut farmer , says: July 29, 2018 at 12:43 pm
"From Moscow's perspective, the events in Kiev in late 2013 and 2014 looked suspiciously like a Western-backed coup."

Gee, ya think? Kinda reminds one of the 1996 Russian election. But, hey, don't broadcast this because, after all, too many people might start, er, noticing.

EliteCommInc. , says: July 29, 2018 at 1:11 pm

"They may be weakened, but their ability to make trouble is undiminished, given their aptitude for cyberattacks."

And if you have evidence that Russia so engaged, the FBI has a place for you.

[Jul 18, 2018] The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Neoliberal Coin

Notable quotes:
"... There are many modern myths. One of them is about the events of 1989 as being the culmination of a grand historical struggle for freedom and liberty. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For years prior to 1989 the West through a combination of both legal business and criminal activity had interpenetrated the Communist elites with lucrative deals and promises of all kinds. ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin by Dan Corjescu

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

-- Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"

There are many modern myths. One of them is about the events of 1989 as being the culmination of a grand historical struggle for freedom and liberty. Nothing could be farther from the truth. For years prior to 1989 the West through a combination of both legal business and criminal activity had interpenetrated the Communist elites with lucrative deals and promises of all kinds.

This situation was even more pronounced in "non-aligned" Yugoslavia who for years had maintained CIA and American and West European business contacts.

In effect, the "cold war" witnessed a rapid convergence between the economic and power interests of both Western and Communist elites.

The "Communists" (in name only of course) quickly realized the economic benefits available to them through at times open at times clandestine cooperation with Western business/criminal interests.

Eventually, Communist elites realized that they had an unprecedented economic opportunity on their hands: state privatization made possible, in part, with active Western participation.

For them, "Freedom" meant the freedom to get rich beyond their wildest dreams.

And the 1990's were just that. A paradise for thieving on an unimaginable scale all under the rubric of the rebirth of "capitalism and freedom".

The true outcome of that decade was that the old communist elites not only retained their social and political power behind the scenes; they also were able to enrich themselves beyond anything the communist dictatorships could ever hope to offer them in the past.

Yes, the price was to give up imperial, national, and ideological ambitions. But it was a very small price to pay; since the East European elites had ceased to believe in any of those things years earlier.

The only firm belief they still held was the economic betterment of themselves and their families through the acquisition by any means of as many asset classes as possible. In effect, they became the mirror image of their "enemy" the "imperialist capitalist West".

This was not a case of historical dialectics but historical convergence. What appeared as a world divided was actually a world waiting to be made whole through the basest of criminal business activity.

But being clever thieves they knew how to hide themselves and their doings behind superficially morally impeccable figures such as Vaclav Havel and Lech Wałęsa, to name just a few. These "dissidents" would be the faces they would use to make a good part of the world believe that 1989 was a narrative of freedom and not outright pubic theft which it was.

Yes, people in the east, even in Russia, are freer now than they were. But it should never be forgotten that the events of 1989/1990 were not even remotely about those revolutionary dreams.

It was about something much more mundane and sordid. It was about greed. It was about the maintenance of power. And finally it was about money.

How deep has the Western nexus of power and wealth gone into the heart of the East? So far indeed that one can easily question to what extent a country like Russia is truly a "national" state anymore and rather just a territory open to exploitation by both local and global elites.

For that matter, we can ask the same question about the USA.

... ... ...

[Jul 06, 2018] I am pretty sure without WWII there would be no 1991.

Notable quotes:
"... While not being a fan of Stalin, I acknowledge that only the people who rose to the top before Bolsheviks took power were good for anything. Those who rose after, from Khruschev on, were worthless nonentities. I consider this negative selection of leaders as one of the drawbacks of the Soviet system. ..."
Jul 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

Sergey Krieger , June 16, 2018 at 6:12 pm GMT

@AnonFromTN

Compared to modern western leaders Kruschev was rather good leader and Brezhnev is downright genius. I was and am actually fond of Dear Leonid Iliich. So I believe it is not a matter of social political organization but systematic and probably human feature.

The West has been producing non entities, idiots and morons at the top with unerring consistency. It is just that conditions in the West are far more forgiving than in Russia. Also we have not mentioned destruction and suffering caused by war in ussr somewhat lagging in few aspects of life standards. Socialism slogan is from everyone by their abilities to everyone for their contribution.

Hence obviously hardworking and better contributing people should be rewarded especially like in Stalin times via glorifying and promoting them to higher status. Stahanov movement comes to mind.

I think Stalin genius is underappreciated. Regarding weapons manufacturing I believe it was a matter of great patriotic war shock.

That war in every respect has caused great damage to us including probably due to huge loss of Tim and best human material laying foundation for further problems. Stalin wasted 8-10 years of his life to first win the war and then rebuild the country. Imagine no war. I am pretty sure there would be no 1991.

AnonFromTN , June 16, 2018 at 2:47 pm GMT
@Sergey Krieger

While not being a fan of Stalin, I acknowledge that only the people who rose to the top before Bolsheviks took power were good for anything. Those who rose after, from Khruschev on, were worthless nonentities. I consider this negative selection of leaders as one of the drawbacks of the Soviet system.

Materially the people in some Western countries lived better than the Soviet people. However, the difference was ~2-3-fold at best, not 10+-fold as many in the USSR believed, and there were (and are) very few countries with higher living standards than Russia. As far as psychological wellbeing is concerned, the USSR compared to the West even better, except for the people with excellent education and willingness to work hard, like me. That's the PR campaign Soviet authorities lost to their peril: the support of better intellectually equipped and the most active people.

I agree that nobody, even the laziest and most useless, should go hungry today, but the difference between what those get and what hard-working people get should be many-fold. Otherwise, the society provides disincentive for the people who can contribute, dragging itself down.
Also, USSR should have paid more attention to the production of consumer goods, even if it meant fewer tanks and artillery pieces. It's policies made all these tanks useless, anyway, not to mention that today these tanks and other military hardware is used against Russia by former "brothers" (with "bothers" like that, who needs enemies).

AnonFromTN , June 16, 2018 at 2:55 pm GMT
@Sergey Krieger

I agree that the people who went to college in Soviet times are better educated and more creative than recent graduates. I am pretty sure that recent successes of Russian MIC are largely due to the Soviet legacy. We'll see what happens next, as "effective managers" they are cranking out now are totally useless in real life.

[Jun 19, 2018] How The Last Superpower Was Unchained by Tom Engelhardt

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... However, the truth – at least in retrospect – was that, in the Cold War years, the Soviets were actually doing Washington a strange, if unnoted, favor. Across much of the Eurasian continent, and other places from Cuba to the Middle East, Soviet power and the never-ending contest for influence and dominance that went with it always reminded American leaders that their own power had its limits. ..."
"... This, as the 21st century should have (but hasn't) made clear, was no small thing. It still seemed obvious then that American power could not be total. There were things it could not do, places it could not control, dreams its leaders simply couldn't have. Though no one ever thought of it that way, from 1945 to 1991, the United States, like the Soviet Union, was, after a fashion, "contained." ..."
"... In those years, the Russians were, in essence, saving Washington from itself. Soviet power was a tangible reminder to American political and military leaders that certain areas of the planet remained no-go zones (except in what, in those years, were called "the shadows"). ..."
"... The Soviet Union, in short, rescued Washington from both the fantasy and the hell of going it alone, even if Americans only grasped that reality at the most subliminal of levels. ..."
Jun 19, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Tom Engelhardt via The Asia Times,

Think of it as the all-American version of the human comedy: a great power that eternally knows what the world needs and offers copious advice with a tone deafness that would be humorous, if it weren't so grim.

If you look, you can find examples of this just about anywhere. Here, for instance, is a passage in The New York Times from a piece on the topsy-turvy Trumpian negotiations that preceded the Singapore summit. "The Americans and South Koreans," wrote reporter Motoko Rich, "want to persuade the North that continuing to funnel most of the country's resources into its military and nuclear programs shortchanges its citizens' economic well-being. But the North does not see the two as mutually exclusive."

Think about that for a moment. The US has, of course, embarked on a trillion-dollar-plus upgrade of its already massive nuclear arsenal (and that's before the cost overruns even begin). Its Congress and president have for years proved eager to sink at least a trillion dollars annually into the budget of the national security state (a figure that's still rising and outpaces by far that of any other power on the planet), while its own infrastructure sags and crumbles. And yet it finds the impoverished North Koreans puzzling when they, too, follow such an extreme path.

"Clueless" is not a word Americans ordinarily apply to themselves as a country, a people, or a government. Yet how applicable it is.

And when it comes to cluelessness, there's another, far stranger path the United States has been following since at least the George W Bush moment that couldn't be more consequential and yet somehow remains the least noticed of all. On this subject, Americans don't have a clue. In fact, if you could put the United States on a psychiatrist's couch, this might be the place to start.

America contained

In a way, it's the oldest story on Earth: the rise and fall of empires. And note the plural there. It was never – not until recently at least – "empire," always "empires." Since the 15th century, when the fleets of the first European imperial powers broke into the larger world with subjugation in mind, it was invariably a contest of many. There were at least three or sometimes significantly more imperial powers rising and contesting for dominance or slowly falling from it.

This was, by definition, the history of great powers on this planet: the challenging rise, the challenged decline. Think of it for so many centuries as the essential narrative of history, the story of how it all happened until at least 1945, when just two "superpowers," the United States and the Soviet Union, found themselves facing off on a global scale.

Of the two, the US was always stronger, more powerful, and far wealthier. It theoretically feared the Russian Bear, the Evil Empire , which it worked assiduously to " contain " behind that famed Iron Curtain and whose adherents in the US, always modest in number, were subjected to a mania of fear and suppression.

However, the truth – at least in retrospect – was that, in the Cold War years, the Soviets were actually doing Washington a strange, if unnoted, favor. Across much of the Eurasian continent, and other places from Cuba to the Middle East, Soviet power and the never-ending contest for influence and dominance that went with it always reminded American leaders that their own power had its limits.

This, as the 21st century should have (but hasn't) made clear, was no small thing. It still seemed obvious then that American power could not be total. There were things it could not do, places it could not control, dreams its leaders simply couldn't have. Though no one ever thought of it that way, from 1945 to 1991, the United States, like the Soviet Union, was, after a fashion, "contained."

In those years, the Russians were, in essence, saving Washington from itself. Soviet power was a tangible reminder to American political and military leaders that certain areas of the planet remained no-go zones (except in what, in those years, were called "the shadows").

The Soviet Union, in short, rescued Washington from both the fantasy and the hell of going it alone, even if Americans only grasped that reality at the most subliminal of levels.

That was the situation until December 1991 when, at the end of a centuries-long imperial race for power (and the never-ending arms race that went with it), there was just one gigantic power left standing on Planet Earth. It told you something about the thinking then that, when the Soviet Union imploded, the initial reaction in Washington wasn't triumphalism (though that came soon enough) but utter shock, a disbelieving sense that something no one had expected, predicted, or even imagined had nonetheless happened. To that very moment, Washington had continued to plan for a two-superpower world until the end of time.

America uncontained

Soon enough, though, the Washington elite came to see what happened as, in the phrase of the moment, " the end of history ." Given the wreckage of the Soviet Union, it seemed that an ultimate victory had been won by the very country its politicians would soon come to call "the last superpower," the " indispensable " nation, the " exceptional " state, a land great beyond imagining (until, at least, Donald Trump hit the campaign trail with a slogan that implied greatness wasn't all-American any more).

In reality, there were a variety of paths open to the "last superpower" at that moment. There was even, however briefly, talk of a "peace dividend" – of the possibility that, in a world without contesting superpowers, taxpayer dollars might once again be invested not in the sinews of war-making but of peacemaking (particularly in infrastructure and the well-being of the country's citizens).

Such talk, however, lasted only a year or two and always in a minor key before being relegated to Washington's attic. Instead, with only a few rickety "rogue" states left to deal with – like gulp North Korea, Iraq and Iran – that money never actually headed home, and neither did the thinking that went with it.

Consider it the good fortune of the geopolitical dreamers soon to take the reins in Washington that the first Gulf War of 1990-1991, which ended less than a year before the Soviet Union collapsed, prepared the way for quite a different style of thinking. That instant victory led to a new kind of militarized dreaming in which a highly tech-savvy military, like the one that had driven Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in such short order, would be capable of doing anything on a planet without serious opposition.

And yet, from the beginning, there were signs suggesting a far grimmer future. To take but one infamous example, Americans still remember the Black Hawk Down moment of 1993 when the world's greatest military fell victim to a Somali warlord and local militias and found itself incapable of imposing its will on one of the least impressive not-quite-states on the planet (a place still frustrating that military a quarter-century later).

In that post-1991 world, however, few in Washington even considered that the 20th century had loosed another phenomenon on the world, that of insurgent national liberation movements, generally leftist rebellions, across what had been the colonial world – the very world of competing empires now being tucked into the history books – and it hadn't gone away. In the 21st century, such insurgent movements, now largely religious, or terror-based, or both, would turn out to offer a grim new version of containment to the last superpower.

Unchaining the indispensable nation

On September 11, 2001, a canny global jihadist by the name of Osama bin Laden sent his air force (four hijacked US passenger jets) and his precision weaponry (19 suicidal, mainly Saudi followers) against three iconic targets in the American pantheon: the Pentagon, the World Trade Center, and undoubtedly the Capitol or the White House (neither of which was hit because one of those jets crashed in a field in Pennsylvania). In doing so, in a sense bin Laden not only loosed a literal hell on Earth, but unchained the last superpower.

William Shakespeare would have had a word for what followed: hubris. But give the top officials of the Bush administration (and the neocons who supported them) a break. There had never been a moment like it: a moment of one. A single great power left alone, triumphant, on planet Earth. Just one superpower – wealthy beyond compare, its increasingly high-tech military unmatched, its only true rival in a state of collapse – had now been challenged by a small jihadist group.

To president Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, and the rest of their crew, it seemed like nothing short of a heaven-sent opportunity. As they came out of the shock of 9/11, of that " Pearl Harbor of the 21st century ," it was as if they had found a magic formula in the ruins of those iconic buildings for the ultimate control of the planet. As secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld would instruct an aide at the Pentagon that day, "Go massive. Sweep it up. Things related and not."

Within days, things related and not were indeed being swept up. The country was almost instantly said to be "at war," and soon that conflict even had a name, the Global War on Terror. Nor was that war to be against just al-Qaeda, or even one country, an Afghanistan largely ruled by the Taliban. More than 60 countries said to have "terror networks" of various sorts found themselves almost instantly in the administration's potential gunsights. And that was just to be the beginning of it all.

In October 2001, the invasion of Afghanistan was launched. In the spring of 2003, the invasion of Iraq followed, and those were only the initial steps in what was increasingly envisioned as the imposition of a Pax Americana on the Greater Middle East.

There could be no doubt, for instance, that Iran and Syria, too, would soon go the way of Iraq and Afghanistan. Bush's top officials had been nursing just such dreams since, in 1997, many of them formed a think-tank (the first ever to enter the White House) called the Project for the New American Century and began to write out what were then the fantasies of figures nowhere near power. By 2003, they were power itself and their dreams, if anything, had grown even more grandiose.

In addition to imagining a political Pax Republicana in the United States, they truly dreamed of a future planetary Pax Americana in which, for the first time in history, a single power would, in some fashion, control the whole works, the Earth itself.

And this wasn't to be a passing matter either. The Bush administration's "unilateralism" rested on a conviction that it could actually create a future in which no country or even bloc of countries would ever come close to matching or challenging US military power. The administration's National Security Strategy of 2002 put the matter bluntly: The US was to "build and maintain" a military, in the phrase of the moment, " beyond challenge ."

They had little doubt that, in the face of the most technologically advanced, bulked-up, destructive force on Earth, hostile states would be "shocked and awed" by a simple demonstration of its power, while friendly ones would have little choice but to come to heel as well. After all, as Bush said at a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in 2007, the US military was "the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known."

Though there was much talk at the time about the "liberation" of Afghanistan and then Iraq, at least in their imaginations the true country being liberated was the planet's lone superpower. Although the Bush administration was officially considered a "conservative" one, its key officials were geopolitical dreamers of the first order and their vision of the world was the very opposite of conservative. It harkened back to nothing and looked forward to everything.

It was radical in ways that should have, but didn't, take the American public's breath away; radical in ways that had never been seen before.

Shock and awe for the last superpower

Think of what those officials did in the post-9/11 moment as the ultimate act of greed. They tried to swallow a whole planet. They were determined to make it a planet of one in a way that had never before been seriously imagined.

It was, to say the least, a vision of madness. Even in a moment when it truly did seem – to them at least – that all constraints had been taken off, an administration of genuine conservatives might have hesitated. Its top officials might, at least, have approached the post-Soviet situation with a modicum of caution and modesty.

But not George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and pals. In the face of what seemed like the ultimate in possibilities they proved clueless when it came to the possibility that anything on Earth might have a shot at containing them.

Even among their critics, who could have imagined then that, more than 16 years later, having faced only lightly armed enemies of various sorts, still wealthy beyond compare, still with a military funded in a way the next seven countries couldn't cumulatively match, the United States would have won literally nothing?

Who could have imagined that, unlike so many preceding imperial powers (including the US of the earlier Cold War era), it would have been able to establish control over nothing at all; that, instead, from Afghanistan to Syria, Iraq deep into Africa, it would find itself in a state of " infinite war " and utter frustration on a planet filled with ever more failed states , destroyed cities , displaced people , and right-wing "populist" governments, including the one in Washington?

Who could have imagined that, with a peace dividend no longer faintly conceivable, this country would have found itself not just in decline, but – a new term is needed to catch the essence of this curious moment – in what might be called self-decline?

Yes, a new power, China, is finally rising – and doing so on a planet that seems itself to be going down . Here, then, is a conclusion that might be drawn from the quarter-century-plus in which America was both unchained and largely alone.

The Earth is admittedly a small orb in a vast universe, but the history of this century so far suggests one reality about which America's rulers proved utterly clueless: After so many hundreds of years of imperial struggle, this planet still remains too big, too disparate, too ornery to be controlled by a single power. What the Bush administration did was simply take one gulp too many and the result has been a kind of national (and planetary) indigestion.

Despite what it looked like in Washington once upon a time, the disappearance of the Soviet Union proved to be no gift at all, but a disaster of the first order. It removed all sense of limits from America's political class and led to a tale of greed on a planetary scale. In the process, it also set the US on a path to self-decline.

The history of greed in our time has yet to be written, but what a story it will someday make. In it, the greed of those geopolitical dreamers will intersect with the greed of an ever wealthier, ever more gilded 1%, of the billionaires who were preparing to swallow whole the political system of that last superpower and grab so much of the wealth of the planet, leaving so little for others.

Whether you're talking about the urge to control the planet militarily or financially, what took place in these years could, in the end, result in ruin of a historic kind. To use a favored phrase from the Bush years, one of these days we Americans may be facing little short of "regime change" on a planetary scale. And what a piece of shock and awe that's likely to prove to be.

All of us, of course, now live on the planet Bush's boys tried to swallow whole. They left us in a world of infinite war, infinite harm, and in Donald Trump's America where cluelessness has been raised to a new power.

[Jun 11, 2018] Why Did the Soviet Union Collapse - YouTube

Mixture of interesting although almost irrelevant information about personalities such as Gorbachov and his wife (viewed over rose glasses) with some idiotic statements. Avoid.
The collapse of the USSR was the collapse of the society which ideology (Marxism-leninism) collapsed and replacement it with neoliberalism. Neoliberal counterrevolution.
Also the economics of the USSR was a war economics. Part of it was due to the threat from the West and embargo on high tech. Part due to own military-industrial complex. Agriculture was a failure. The net result was deterioration of he standard of living in 80th. People because seduced by western consumerism and elite was seduced by neoliberal ideology. So neoliberal revolution (counter-revolution) logically followed
Jun 11, 2018 | www.youtube.com

April 5, 2017
In this lecture, William Taubman, professor of Political Science at Amherst College and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author, sheds a light on how Mihail Gorbachev undermined the Soviet system in pursuit of his dream of the democratized country.


Scorpius , 6 months ago

The West will always hate Russia. Because the Soviet Union destroyed the colonial world order where the rules of the West. Despotism of the "white man" was destroyed, and enslaved peoples of Africa, Asia, Islamic world, Latin America was released. In the 19th century, the West ruled the world, now only n their historical lands. Russia has caused considerable damage to Western domination.

Lord pikkasso , 5 months ago

Why USSR collapsed according to America, Fake news. The USSR empire collapsed for the same reasons that European empires collapsed. The American empire has been in decline for a while now and will eventually collapsed too.

UserNameMandatory , 4 months ago

Good for insight into Gorbachev. That's all.

Michelle Rice , 3 months ago

Brezhnev started the ball rolling , USSR was already a sinking ship when Gorbachev took over , he was the fall guy !!!!

Daniel Wong , 1 month ago

The USSR was doomed to collapse. It is a totally corrupted union, with selfish leaders who lived in luxury while the people lived in poverty. However, it devoted its resources to military development. No extra resources were given to production of consumer goods and foods for the people. Its union comprises many countries with different races and cultures, which could never be reconciled. Its collapse is just a matter of time, and could not blame Gorbachev.

[Apr 18, 2018] The strategies put in place during the Yeltsin years to plunder the assets of the new CIS.

Apr 18, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Lozion | Apr 17, 2018 1:56:16 PM | 3

I know b is not fond of us posting content from other blogs but the Saker has just put up a must-read interview with a personal favorite author of mine, F. William Engdhal, entitled "The rape of Russia". Very informative, it documents the strategies put in place during the Yeltsin years to plunder the assets of the new CIS. Enjoy!

http://thesaker.is/the-rape-of-russia-saker-blog-exclusive-interview/

[Apr 18, 2018] A Note on KGB Style -- Central Intelligence Agency

Apr 18, 2018 | www.cia.gov

After collapse of the USSR the mount of infometion that has flown to the West is staggering. KGB might be then most open of intelleigence services in this sense. multiple defector probably created a very complete picture of the organization and its methods.

July 2, 1996

A NOTE ON KGB STYLE

Wayne Lambridge

The KGB like any enduring institution has a style, its own way of doing things. When we seek to understand the service and its officers, we should perhaps pay attention to how they do business as well as to what kind of business they do. This article is intended to raise the subject for discussion, to present largely one man's opinion. It is far from a definitive study.

By way of indicating something about KGB style, consider the implications for the organization as a whole of a communication system that carries one tenth or less as much traffic -- both electric and by pouch -- as its American equivalent. The KGB sends very few cables and its dispatches are infrequent. For maximum sec