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Alternatives to Dengism

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Jul 2006, 04:49
Ideology: Juche
Old Bolshevik
Post 10 Apr 2012, 23:28
I've created this topic to discuss any alternatives to the NEP-type policies as persued by countries like Vietnam and China. People speak of a country "needing a bit of Capitalism", as though it was a machine that could be switched on and off. What really happens with these policies is more akin to introducing a foreign spiecies to an ecosystem. What really happens is that one creates consequences that are very far reaching. The main consequences is that a new class is created, one that has a vested interest in maintaining the system as it currently is, rather than improving the system for the workers. Second is that the party become associated with this new class rather than the workers, and as a result, Anti-Communist agitators will say that it is Communism itself that is responsible for the Worker's plight. Thoughts?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 11 Nov 2004, 02:08
Embalmed
Post 11 Apr 2012, 13:22
I feel it is a reaction rooted in the fact these societies worked to socialism much to quickly avoiding the needed stages of capitalism and imperialism to take effect within their societies. Id post more on this but this is an ipod.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 11 Apr 2012, 14:24
Misuzu wrote:
I've created this topic to discuss any alternatives to the NEP-type policies as persued by countries like Vietnam and China. People speak of a country "needing a bit of Capitalism", as though it was a machine that could be switched on and off. What really happens with these policies is more akin to introducing a foreign spiecies to an ecosystem. What really happens is that one creates consequences that are very far reaching. The main consequences is that a new class is created, one that has a vested interest in maintaining the system as it currently is, rather than improving the system for the workers. Second is that the party become associated with this new class rather than the workers, and as a result, Anti-Communist agitators will say that it is Communism itself that is responsible for the Worker's plight.


In general I agree with your train of thought, although to me the continual existence of China as the People's Republic, with a ruling Communist Party and all of the social, artistic, academic, and media institutions that go along with it brings hope for the rise of the left faction some time in the future. Also, unlike the former USSR, Chinese market reforms have not fundamentally and irrevocably destroyed these institutions, nor Chinese territorial integrity, nor its geopolitical security in a hostile world. Hence both internally and with the foreign situation in mind, the Chinese communists can hope to return the country to socialism at some point in the future. In other words, yes, capitalism has 'infected' countries like China and Vietnam, but the building blocks for socialist restoration already exist. As Chinese workers begin to demand more from their government, reading up on their own history, their own constitutional rights and the nature of socialism as the worker's ideology, they will agitate more and more (as they are already doing in many provinces) for the introduction or reintroduction of socialist policies in all sorts of areas of life. This will force even those middle-of-the-road bureaucrats, uncommitted to the left or right factions of the CPP, to join the left faction, whose position represents the interests of the people. I definitely do not think that China needs some sort of revolution -full scale or state initiated, to return to socialism, since that will only result in the destruction of whatever gains have been made over the last period, and threaten the position of China in the world, as the Cultural Revolution did back in the 1960s. I also hope that any left faction that grows up to take China back to socialism recognizes the many mistakes made by Mao during his rule, even while continuing to revere him as the father of the Chinese Revolution, since in many ways these mistakes lead to the acceptance of the 'pragmatic', 'market-oriented' reforms of Deng.
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Feb 2005, 02:51
Party Bureaucrat
Post 11 Apr 2012, 22:46
Again, my argument is that China is far closer to communism today than it was under Mao, the absence of individual capitalists in a society does not necessarily mean that it has already progressed beyond capitalist production relations.

Though my ideas are less than half baked at the moment, I do have a hypothesis: none of the socialist nations has achieved post capitalist production relations. The development of social services and welfare, absence of individual capitalists and markets resembling those in the west resulted in a superficial resemblance to the socialism envisioned in Marxist theory. In reality, those countries are no closer to communism than advanced capitalist countries.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 11 Apr 2012, 23:27
Roy, I agree completely.

The socialist phase of development that Russia and China have gone through have served as alternative ways to reach state monopoly capitalism. The bourgeois countries underwent the corresponding development in a much longer timeframe and in very different forms, but the result has been the same as in the West: First, wage labour and capital circulation in an internal market, later, full fledged imperialism and monopoly capital.

Capital circulation is a natural development in a society that is industrializing. It cannot be evaded, it has to be overcome.

And this is why I favor Mao over the Soviet leaders post-Stalin. They never had a problem with a society that runs on money, wage labor and commodity exchange as long as it could be painted red and called "socialist". Mao was different - he always tried to criticize the present from the point of view of communism, he was aware of the need to overcome bourgeois relations. In this, the attitude of the post-Mao Chinese elite seems to have been more similar to their Soviet counterparts - ergo, the roots of "Dengism" can be traced back to the Soviet Union. Deng was just another Kosygin.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was an example for the right way of doing things. Concessions to capital are the wrong way of doing things.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 12 Apr 2012, 00:02
But when James is talking about "social services and welfare, absence of individual capitalists and markets resembling those in the West" is he talking about a Soviet or Chinese (Mao era) "state monopoly capitalism"? I mean I will agree that perhaps countries like France, Britain or the United States might have an easier time building socialism because of their advanced production relations (look at the advances that even small but advanced East Germany or Czechoslovakia were able to make due to their more advanced capitalism prior to socialism), but just because the USSR was destroyed or China reverted to dependence on markets and the global capitalist system does not mean there was never any hope for these mostly feudal countries to advance to true developed socialism. In my view the construction of real socialism requires continued dedication and internal commitment on the part of the people and the leadership. In the Soviet case elements of the leadership decided to abandon socialist construction and to destroy it from the inside out, and, using the defects of party hierarchy and the power of the general secretary, they were able to do so. China's case is more complex, and is based on internal power conflicts, but also in part on the radicalism of the Cultural Revolution that convinced many that the left wing within the CCP did more to destroy and destabilize than to build. I don't understand why simple historical analysis isn't sufficient for many Marxists, and why every major historical event has to fit into theory. For capitalist countries the theory remains very relevant. For countries that took a different trajectory and began building different internal dynamics, it doesn't necessarily fit, because Marx had analyzed the working basis of capitalism, not alternatives to it. Why do so many contemporary Marxists have to use Marx to prove that Russia was not suitable for socialism because it had not followed the rails of history? Why can't they just accept the idea that socialism can and will always face internal and external threats so long as capitalism remains the overwhelming force in the world, and that Soviet Russia had failed to resist these threats?
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Jul 2008, 20:01
Ideology: Trotskyism
Philosophized
Post 12 Apr 2012, 00:52
Quote:
But when James is talking about "social services and welfare, absence of individual capitalists and markets resembling those in the West" is he talking about a Soviet or Chinese (Mao era) "state monopoly capitalism"?

[...]

I don't understand why simple historical analysis isn't sufficient for many Marxists, and why every major historical event has to fit into theory.


No, he's talking about good old socialism - which is - in my view, I don't know about his - a peculiar form of development towards state monopoly capitalism, which has become the dominant form of capitalism all over the world since the 90s.

Also I really think that this comes close enough to the "simple historical analysis" that you demand, because this is what happened. Russia developed into state monopoly capitalism via socialism. I fail to understand how I'm squeezing anything into theory when I claim this. For me, this unwavering support for the Soviet system, which goes so far as to simply deny the latter's historical limitations, seems like you're the one who tries to make history fit into your own view of the USSR.

Quote:
I mean I will agree that perhaps countries like France, Britain or the United States might have an easier time building socialism because of their advanced production relations (look at the advances that even small but advanced East Germany or Czechoslovakia were able to make due to their more advanced capitalism prior to socialism), but just because the USSR was destroyed or China reverted to dependence on markets and the global capitalist system does not mean there was never any hope for these mostly feudal countries to advance to true developed socialism.


I agree that it would have been possible for the Soviet attempt at communism to succeed. Even Lenin knew what would have been necessary for this to happen: Revolution in Europe. If the German communists had defeated Hitler, Germany could have been socialist by 1930 instead of 1949, and it would have been the entire country, and not only a third of it, and Europe would not be split and most probably the entire continent would have gone socialist, and without the fascist threat, the USSR would never have become a member of the imperialist community of nations, and everything would have ended well.

Sadly, fascism succeeded in its original mission: to defeat communism. Interestingly, it's the comintern and Lenin who are to blame for the failure of the German communists to succeed in the 20s. His work on left radicalism, the "infantile disease", split the German radical left into two opposing factions, which weakened it severely. The KPD-SPD split wasn't nearly as bad as the KPD-KAPD split.

And talking about radicalism...

Quote:
In my view the construction of real socialism requires continued dedication and internal commitment on the part of the people and the leadership. In the Soviet case elements of the leadership decided to abandon socialist construction and to destroy it from the inside out, and, using the defects of party hierarchy and the power of the general secretary, they were able to do so. China's case is more complex, and is based on internal power conflicts, but also in part on the radicalism of the Cultural Revolution that convinced many that the left wing within the CCP did more to destroy and destabilize than to build.


Where do you draw the line between "continued dedication and internal commitment" and "radicalism"? Were the Chinese people and party not committed? I'd call the GPCR a great opportunity to dedicate your life to communism.

Quote:
For capitalist countries the theory remains very relevant. For countries that took a different trajectory and began building different internal dynamics, it doesn't necessarily fit, because Marx had analyzed the working basis of capitalism. Why do Marxists have to use Marx to prove that Russia was not suitable for socialism because it had not followed the rails of history?


I don't think anybody has ever suggested that you can escape history and refuse to follow its rails, or that Russia did this. Actually I'm suggesting precisely the opposite: that Russia couldn't help but follow the rails of history.

In any case, instead of merely claiming that my theory doesn't necessarily fit, you should provide some arguments to substantiate this claim. I'm fully justified in using my theory if it's not disproven. By the way I fully agree with the idea that socialism can and will always face internal and external threats so long as capitalism remains the overwhelming force in the world. It seems more like you can't agree with the full implication of this fact: The threat was carried out. Socialism can lose, and it did.
"Don't know why i'm still surprised with this shit anyway." - Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Feb 2005, 02:51
Party Bureaucrat
Post 13 Apr 2012, 11:03
soviet78 wrote:
but just because the USSR was destroyed or China reverted to dependence on markets and the global capitalist system does not mean there was never any hope for these mostly feudal countries to advance to true developed socialism. In my view the construction of real socialism requires continued dedication and internal commitment on the part of the people and the leadership.
....

I don't understand why simple historical analysis isn't sufficient for many Marxists, and why every major historical event has to fit into theory. For capitalist countries the theory remains very relevant. For countries that took a different trajectory and began building different internal dynamics, it doesn't necessarily fit, because Marx had analyzed the working basis of capitalism, not alternatives to it.

I must say that this kind of thinking is bordering idealism. Can the will of the people and the leadership ensure that a society follow a particular trajectory over an extended period of time? And that will is the result of the historical and material circumstances in which it existed, how do you know that it will lead the society on to the right path?

I have been thinking about the Soviet economy, though I do not have the data with me at the moment, the Soviet economy was extremely inefficient, there were two periods of rapid productivity growth: the 30's, as the result of the stabilisation of the country and the whole sale acquisition of western capital goods and technologies during the great depression, and after WWII, as the result of post-war recovery. Other than those two periods, growth is achieved almost entirely by increases in capital investment, wastage in production was extremely high, and uptake of new technoloies was minimal.

Predominately, it was because there were no incentives for firms to alter existing methods or implement new technologies, as those endeavours carry inherent risks, while there is no pressure for them to do anything beyond meeting production quotas. If the quotas increase, they simply increased labour, resources, and capital input, and in many cases, due to the diseconomies of scale, efficiency actually decreased. One may argue that some form of push from the top can force the firms to improve efficiency, but how reliable is that? How long can it be sustained? Indeed, in the case of the implementation of computerised real time economic management systems, there were significant organisational resistances, and the systems that could have increased the productivity of the Soviet economy at a geometric scale never took off.

Quote:
Why do so many contemporary Marxists have to use Marx to prove that Russia was not suitable for socialism because it had not followed the rails of history? Why can't they just accept the idea that socialism can and will always face internal and external threats so long as capitalism remains the overwhelming force in the world, and that Soviet Russia had failed to resist these threats?

I am not here to prove or disprove anything, the specific conditions in Russia in the early 1900's led to an attempt towards socialism, and that attempt failed due to various reasons, and that is our starting point. And one of the explanations for that failure, is that Russia did not follow the trajectory of history.

Mabool wrote:
Mao was different - he always tried to criticize the present from the point of view of communism, he was aware of the need to overcome bourgeois relations. In this, the attitude of the post-Mao Chinese elite seems to have been more similar to their Soviet counterparts - ergo, the roots of "Dengism" can be traced back to the Soviet Union. Deng was just another Kosygin.

The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was an example for the right way of doing things. Concessions to capital are the wrong way of doing things.

I have to disagree on this one, the mind over matter thing doesn't work here, you can't simply "will" the bourgroisie into disappearing, no criticism or prolitical movements, regardless of how incessant or forceful, will overcome capitalist production relations. Only concrete material conditions will lead to a post capitalist society, and any action that impedes the achievement of those material conditions, is reactionary.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Aug 2004, 20:49
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Embalmed
Post 13 Apr 2012, 11:24
James Kennedy wrote:
Predominately, it was because there simply were no incentives for firms to alter existing methods or implement new technologies, as those endeavours carry inherent risks, while there is no pressure for them to do anything beyond meeting production quotas, if the quota increases, they just increased labour, resources, and capital input, and in many cases, due to the diseconomies of scale actually lead to decrease in efficiency. One may argue that some form of push from the top can force the firms to improve efficiency, but how reliable is that? How long can it be sustained? Indeed, in the case of the implementation of computerised real time economic management systems, there were significant resistances from below, and the systems that could have increased the productivity of the Soviet economy at a geometric scale never took off.


Ineconomies of scale too. Planning mechanisms based purely on political expediency, such as organising as many disparate elements and production tasks into a single combination or enterprise may make it easier to simply shift resources by political order to a crisis point, but it isn't planning on any sensible economic sense, as such shortfalls could be eliminated with a proper application of economic indicators and the end users of whatever product being consulted. Not only was there an over-investment in capital too, a lot of the capital was necessarily tied to the production of specific components, and ones that are more effectively made if the order is subcontracted out to another enterprise that focuses solely on making lenses, mirrors, hinges or screws of any gauge, head and thread. Capital investment doesn't mean efficiency at all.

And yes, it is simply impossible to jump straight into a bourgeoisie-free world, any suggestion to do so only comes from hot headed political pamphlets written by people who, at the time, thought the demise of capital was going to happen with a month. Why would anybody want to traumatise billions of people at once, dumping them in a completely foreign society? It's a shame certain currents still churn out such badly judged disinformation.
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"Phil Spector is haunting Europe" -Dr. Karl H. Marx
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 13 Apr 2012, 21:19
Since you've both taken issue with my annoyance at simple historical analysis being insufficient for I'll try to explain what I mean. The USSR in 1985 was in many ways at the height of its socioeconomic development, barring the many individual problems that existed and which always exist among big powers. In such a situation, the reform trajectory chosen by Gorbachev was both erroneous and (as some have found out later) traitorous, given that many decisions in the sphere of politics, the economy, and international affairs consciously betrayed the Marxist-Leninist socialist ideals which had brought the country to its high level of development in the hope that Western methods, models, and ideals could replace them. I've posted a piece about the information warfare that was waged on the Soviet population during glasnost, and how the Soviet people, whatever their disillusionment compared to say the idealistic 1960s, still believed for the most part in the rightness of the ideas of Marxism-Leninism and its practical applications to their day to day lives. In the economic and political sphere the situation was the same: Gorbachev pushed his reforms through using the power of the General Secretary to appoint the Central Committee, and through outright trickery, given that the reforms of 1988 in particular were formally discussed and passed at a mere Conference, rather than a Congress, of the CPSU, which made it easier for the delegates to be hand-picked by reformists).

As far as I have read, the Marxist analysis of the situation in the USSR would focus on some internal development, like 'the growing greed of the bureaucrats', and how those bureaucrats, seeing how much better their counterparts abroad lived, moved events so as to reform and destroy the country and to grab on to its riches for themselves. But this type of theoretical analysis is not borne out by historical reality. Contrary to expectations postulated by this type of theory, the mass of bureaucrats at the high levels of power had for the most part actually resisted Gorbachev's half-baked economic reform initiatives, resulting in his radical decision to simply rip them out of the economic system, resulting in the economic chaos and shortages beginning in 1989. Observing the post-Soviet system, one finds that the 'red directors' were often as confused and helpless as the population at large, and that while a few high profile people may have taken their industries on for themselves and made a lot of money doing it, the majority did not (this is borne out by the analysis of Ellman and Kontorovich in their studies). The majority of the capital holders who control the Russian economy today were former petty black marketeers and criminal gang members who had made their money by laundering whatever funds they had made prior to perestroika through the new cooperatives which became possible in the late 1980s. Some of these individuals also intimidated red directors to sign companies over, often threatening (and killing) them and their families. In effect, the upper bureaucratic stratum of the pre-perestroika USSR was a rather rigid group whose interests were connected more to power than to wealth, and this group fought a losing battle first against Gorbachev and later against the petty speculators and gangsters who came to claim ownership and to disassemble the enterprises which they managed. The managers, theoretically and in reality, would have been much more amenable to continuing the modernization and expansion of their enterprises, and hence could not be considered as that secret hidden group which played an important counterrevolutionary role in the destruction of the country. As for the speculators and criminals, their interests were always wealth accumulation, but their influence was so minuscule and insignificant before the Law on Cooperatives that they had absolutely no political impact on the Soviet system up to that point.

Hence, discussing the Soviet people's popular conceptions of socialism prior to the information war waged against it, the destructive economic reforms, and the radical political reforms, one cannot say that radical reform or destruction of the USSR was a historical inevitability. Nor can one say that the political and economic interests of the elite drove the process, given how actively they resisted the reforms and how they, like the rest of the population, had lost out the battle for control of the country's economy. This is what I mean when I say that Marxist theoretical analysis isn't always accurate when applied to social systems other than capitalism. The historical construct of Soviet socialism can be blamed only for how much power it gave its general secretary, and this was based on the historical circumstances and the primitive nature of the country (Russia) where socialism was applied. Still, to stretch this out and plug it in to a theory demonstrating that Soviet power was always destined to fail since it was applied to a once-backward country is just ridiculous, especially given that no one (Marxists included) had made accurate predictions about imminent Soviet collapse prior to the late 1980s. A theory which finds ways to plug events into itself after the fact is a useless theory, since the point is to be able to make predictions -something Marxism has done accurately and repeatedly in the case of capitalist development over the last century and a half.

Roy wrote:
I have been thinking about the Soviet economy, though I do not have the data with me at the moment, the Soviet economy was extremely inefficient, there were two periods of rapid productivity growth: the 30's, as the result of the stabilisation of the country and the whole sale acquisition of western capital goods and technologies during the great depression, and after WWII, as the result of post-war recovery. Other than those two periods, growth is achieved almost entirely by increases in capital investment, wastage in production was extremely high, and uptake of new technoloies was minimal.

Predominately, it was because there were no incentives for firms to alter existing methods or implement new technologies, as those endeavours carry inherent risks, while there is no pressure for them to do anything beyond meeting production quotas. If the quotas increase, they simply increased labour, resources, and capital input, and in many cases, due to the diseconomies of scale, efficiency actually decreased. One may argue that some form of push from the top can force the firms to improve efficiency, but how reliable is that? How long can it be sustained? Indeed, in the case of the implementation of computerised real time economic management systems, there were significant organisational resistances, and the systems that could have increased the productivity of the Soviet economy at a geometric scale never took off.


Roy, I would question a lot of the assumptions about the extreme inefficiency of the Soviet economy, primarily because many of them are made by proponents of some variant of the market alternative. Sure the system had issues with waste, shortages, and inferior quality products, but none of those things are unique to the Soviet socialist-style economic system. As time went on and the leadership became aware of these problems, it took measures which often did work to improve quality and reduce waste. Being capable of intensive growth is a trait of a developed industrial economy, and we have to remember that the USSR was really reaching that point only in the early 1970s. Quality standards for consumer and producer goods, campaigns against shoddy work, promotion and recognition of engineers and workers finding new ways to produce and transport resources, components and finished goods, basic computerization and automation -the USSR had all of these things from the 1970s. What was necessary (and called for in the 1985 plan) was the increased computerization of the economy, among other measures which would have continued the development of the country as an advanced industrial economy.

From the document Basic Directions for the Economic and Social Development of the USSR for 1986-1990 and for the Period to the Year 2000:

Quote:
In the document Basic Directions for the Economic and Social Development of the USSR for 1986-1990 and for the Period to the Year 2000, the principal tasks of the Twelfth Five Year Plan were declared to be "to enhance the pace and efficiency of economic development by accelerating scientific and technical progress, retooling and adapting production, intensively using existing production potential, and improving the managerial system and accounting mechanism, and, on this basis, to further raise the standard of living of the Soviet people."

Individual components of importance:

Industrial/Construction:

* Plans for an 80% increase in investment over the previous Pyatiletka in the sectors producing machine tools, electrical equipment, chemicals, and agricultural machinery, which was set to increase machine-building output by 40-45% during the five year period.
* Plans for a 23% rise in capital investment, with roughly half of those funds to be spent on retooling of existing capacity, concurrently with an acceleration in the retirement of obsolete equipment.
* Plans for a near doubling of the contribution of synthetic resins and plastics to the construction industry by the year 2000, which could replace metals used in machinery, construction materials, engines, and pipe.
* Plans for the improvement in availability, quality and service life of individual components and spare parts for machinery in order to reduce downtime.
* Plans for an increase in the use of computer program control mechanization and automation in assembly lines, which would reduce the use of unskilled labor and increase speed and precision of production.
* A call for increased efficiency in R&D procedures and processes in order to shorten the time between research breakthroughs and their industrial application, based on new organizational structures which would combine elements of research, design and production facilities into one unit.
* Plans for locating and constructing new industries which require high energy inputs in locations close to energy sources (i.e. Siberia), and simultaneously increasing the number of workplaces in regions with the requisite manpower resources (i.e. Central Asia) by focusing on services, light industry, and other sectors requiring fewer raw materials.
* Plans for special focus on the development of infrastructure in Siberia and the Soviet Far East.
* Plans for a 240% increase in the production of computers during the period 1986-1990.
* Plans for a 5.4% rise in the production of nonfood consumer goods and a 5.4-7% rise in consumer services through the period. Consumer goods targeted included light industry items such as radios, televisions, tape recorders, sewing machines, washing machines, refrigerators, printed matter, clothing, and furniture.
* The continuation of a long-term cooperative program with other Comecon members to develop new ideas for streamlining the Soviet machine-building industry.

Energy:

* Plans for increasing production of primary energy by 3.6% per year, compared with 2.6% per year in the previous Pyatiletka, based largely on major growth in nuclear power capacity, whose capacity in 1990 was expected to be 1.5 times its 1985 level (which would result in nuclear power displacing hydroelectric to become the second largest electricity source in the Soviet Union, at 21% of the national power balance). Additionally, plans called for the construction of ninety new hydroelectric stations in the period between 1990 and 2000.
* A plan to connect the Unified Electrical Power System with the Central Asian Power System by 1990, bringing 95% of the country's power production into a single distribution network.

Agriculture & Forestry:

* Plans to raise agricultural production by the following percentages over the average of the previous Pyatiletka by 1990: Grain by 2.7%; potatoes by 2.5%; sugar beets by 3.9%; vegetables by 6.8%; fruits, berries and grapes by 11.2%; meat by 18.7%; milk by 4.2%; eggs by 10.2%; raw cotton by 3.6%.
* Plans for the wider use of contract brigades in agricultural production, based on brigades of ten to thirty farm workers who managed a piece of land leased by the kolkhoz or sovkhoz under terms giving them responsibility for the entire production cycle, with the workers receiving a predetermined price for the contracted amount plus generous bonuses for any excess production.
* Plans to raise production of pulp by 15-18%, paper by 11-15%, and fiberboard by 17-20%.

Other:

* The 12th Pyatiletka placed special attention and focus on individual productivity and discipline in the workplace, and called for making demotion or dismissal of corrupt or inefficient workers and managers easier.
* The 12th Pyatiletka also placed special attention and focus on the conservation of raw materials, the efficient use of fuels, energy, raw materials, metal, and other materials, and focused on the reduction of waste in production, transportation and storage.
* Plans to furnish high schools with at least 500,000 computers by 1990, and projecting that 5,000,000 computers would be distributed to schools by the year 2000. A 1985 law also required all ninth and tenth graders to learn computer fundamentals.
* The targets of the plan posited an average growth rate in national income of 4% yearly, based mainly on increases in labour productivity, with national income projected to double by the year 2000 and labour productivity growing by 6.5-7.4% per year in the 1990s. The overall ratio of expenditure on material inputs and energy to national income was set to decrease by 4-5% in the plan period. Projected modernization of the workplace would release 20 million people from unskilled work by the year 2000.


http://www.soviet-empire.com/ussr/viewtopic.php?f=128&t=46060

Roy wrote:
Indeed, in the case of the implementation of computerised real time economic management systems, there were significant organisational resistances, and the systems that could have increased the productivity of the Soviet economy at a geometric scale never took off.


That is true, and you are absolutely correct to blame organizational resistance. Still, the plans and the minds to do so existed, and barring the presence of a visionary leadership, what was necessary was the confluence of available technology and need. According to the work of Paul Cockshott, the former was becoming available in the early 1990s. The bit about need was already historically partially recognized in the guidelines for the 12th 5 Year Plan, and as the implications of the IT became clear, the pressure to further incorporate computers into the planning mechanism would become more and more essential and rational.


...

Mabool wrote:
I agree that it would have been possible for the Soviet attempt at communism to succeed. Even Lenin knew what would have been necessary for this to happen: Revolution in Europe. If the German communists had defeated Hitler, Germany could have been socialist by 1930 instead of 1949, and it would have been the entire country, and not only a third of it, and Europe would not be split and most probably the entire continent would have gone socialist, and without the fascist threat, the USSR would never have become a member of the imperialist community of nations, and everything would have ended well.

Sadly, fascism succeeded in its original mission: to defeat communism. Interestingly, it's the comintern and Lenin who are to blame for the failure of the German communists to succeed in the 20s. His work on left radicalism, the "infantile disease", split the German radical left into two opposing factions, which weakened it severely. The KPD-SPD split wasn't nearly as bad as the KPD-KAPD split.


But you see, here you are applying historical analysis, rather than a theoretical Marxian explanation, for one trajectory along which events could have gone to avoid the defeat of communism. I presume that you don't think that the failure of the German revolution was the last chance the USSR had to avoid communism's defeat. Setting the failure of German revolution aside, the USSR did successfully industrialize and modernize independently, and could have continued to develop, had Gorbachev & co not chosen a new, destructive trajectory. Whether an alternative trajectory could have ensured a 'victory of communism' in the short to medium term is another matter, although a capitalist crisis similar to the one today would have been made much worse with the existence of a USSR willing to take advantage of every revolutionary situation (i.e. like the one in Greece).

Mabool wrote:
Where do you draw the line between "continued dedication and internal commitment" and "radicalism"? Were the Chinese people and party not committed? I'd call the GPCR a great opportunity to dedicate your life to communism.


I suppose what I'm talking about is pragmatism in its non-Dengist, Brezhnevite sense. The left radicalism displayed in the Cultural Revolution was destructive to China in almost every sense, and did not succeed in its original goal to prevent pro-market revisionism. In the Soviet case, the Brezhnevite ideological system was about ensuring social stability, while at the same time not giving up on fundamental ideals of socialism. In the modern world, this would mean allowing for ever-increasing social and information freedoms, while still ensuring that the media, academia, and cultural institutions maintained their ideological commitment to socialism, and maintained a socialist character in their content, style of analysis, etc. Speaking of the political leadership, they would have to do the same thing -to avoid ideological and political dogmatism in the form of ill-thought out mass campaigns, denunciations, the formation of cults of personality, etc. while maintaining their commitment to the ideas which had guided the Soviet state from the post-NEP period. In short, the Brezhnevite system (which included a collective style of leadership, another positive trait) plus increased discipline, more fighting against corruption, more campaigns for efficiency and discipline, and more willingness to listen to scientific and technical experts, was in my view something that could have been navigated successfully by a skillful leadership well into the 21st century. This is not something that would have required some tremendous alternative events and a series of alternative, non-existent historical personalities. The leadership in the mid-1980s was already filled with many talented, qualified and experienced people ready to take on such a task; it's just that as events played out the the Gorbachevite reformers ended up either ignoring them or kicking them out of the leadership altogether.

Mabool wrote:
I don't think anybody has ever suggested that you can escape history and refuse to follow its rails, or that Russia did this. Actually I'm suggesting precisely the opposite: that Russia couldn't help but follow the rails of history.


And that is precisely my problem with the rails argument. I suggest that if Gorbachev was not elected General Secretary, the chances that the USSR would abandon socialism, collapse and turn into a 'state monopoly capitalist' country would be very low. The Soviet population wouldn't become opposed to socialism if a massive information war was not waged against it; they wouldn't complain about the total failure of the socialist economy if the economic planning apparatus was not deliberately destroyed; they would not be swept up into nationalist agitation if such agitation continued to be prohibited; socialism wouldn't collapse in Eastern Europe if the USSR had continued to support them (in our timeline, Gorbachev actively forced conservatives like Husak, Honecker and Zhivkov to reform, and the KGB even actively participated in the overthrow of Ceausescu, effectively doing the CIA's work for them). In the context of the Soviet Union, the individual man -the general secretary, often genuinely did play the role of the 'great man of history' that Marxist theory often criticizes. Lenin played this role, Stalin played this role, and unfortunately, Gorbachev played this role.

Roy wrote:
And one of the explanations for that failure, is that Russia did not follow the trajectory of history.


But do you personally accept this explanation?
"The thing about capitalism is that it sounds awful on paper and is horrendous in practice. Communism sounds wonderful on paper and when it was put into practice it was done pretty well for what they had to work with." -MiG
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Soviet cogitations: 121
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Pioneer
Post 30 Sep 2012, 16:18
Looking at Basic Directions, it makes me weep to think the USSR might still be around and now a fully computerized and more efficient society with greater freedoms and possibly well on the road to communism. That's a tragedy of historical proportions if true.
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