Soviet-Empire.com U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Active ]
[ Login ]
Log-in to remove these advertisements.

Was communism good for Western workers?

POST REPLY
Soviet cogitations: 216
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 27 Jul 2013, 05:04
Ideology: Other Leftist
Pioneer
Post 19 Apr 2014, 17:45
Edward McClelland makes the argument in a recent article at Salon that American workers during the capitalist "Golden Age" following World War II benefitted from the competition that the Soviet model presented to the West. McClelland argues that this competition forced capitalists to make concessions to workers and show that capitalism was no longer the nasty, brutish system of the past. Now, without communist rivalry, capitalists feel secure enough to increase the exploitation of their workers.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/01/communi ... standards/

What do comrades here think of this thesis?
Loz
[+-]
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 19 Apr 2014, 18:48
Well obviously there's something to it but workers everywhere fought for "concessions from the capitalists" and the increase of their living standards decades before the Russian revolution.
Soviet cogitations: 1128
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Aug 2008, 18:12
Party Member
Post 20 Apr 2014, 17:19
Yes you could argue that (although Loz equally points out that this was hardly anything new on the part of the capitalists). Lenin argued in 1917 that the western workers were having their revolutionary tendencies stunted by bourgeois hand-outs. By the time of the 1980s capital began rolling back this social security as it clearly did not see the USSR as having much potential impact on western workers (and it collapsed not long afterwards). Now we are seeing increasing privatisation of state assets and a cut in social security in the west. Hopefully this will be a good thing in that it will bring people into the streets.
Soviet cogitations: 1533
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Oct 2007, 15:55
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Party Member
Post 21 Apr 2014, 06:34
I doubt that these rollbacks would result in a progressive movement in the Marxist sense. If any tensions build up within the working class, I believe it would only result in a repeat of what has already taken place. You would see the springing up of politicians who would try to appeal to the workers. Never again would there be a New Deal or Great Society, but a politician in the essence of a Nelson Rockefeller, as Obama has some parallels with.
We have beaten you to the moon, but you have beaten us in sausage making.- Nikita Khrushchev
tdn
[+-]
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 28
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 25 Apr 2014, 11:15
Pioneer
Post 03 May 2014, 02:48
Piccolo wrote:
Edward McClelland makes the argument in a recent article at Salon that American workers during the capitalist "Golden Age" following World War II benefitted from the competition that the Soviet model presented to the West. McClelland argues that this competition forced capitalists to make concessions to workers and show that capitalism was no longer the nasty, brutish system of the past. Now, without communist rivalry, capitalists feel secure enough to increase the exploitation of their workers.

Here is a link to the article:

http://www.salon.com/2014/04/01/communi ... standards/

What do comrades here think of this thesis?


I agree with the suggestion that the established socialism of the USSR and the Eastern bloc posed a threat to the Western capitalist systems. And to survive, they have to adjust their economy accordingly. I see this adjustment in two ways:
- State intervention was increased (Keynesian economics): the centrally-planned economy of the USSR was very successful during the 1940s and 1950s. It defended the USSR from Nazi Germany, and it transformed Russia from a backward country (compared to the rest of Europe) to an industrialized one. Living standards in the Eastern bloc were significantly improved in a short time. At the same time, the West suffered the worst crisis in the history of capitalism. And that's when people figured out: Look, state planning isn't too bad.
- The communist parties and workers' movements in the West were inspired by the USSR and were very pro-active in supporting workers' rights. The USA had a strong communist party and a strong socialist party. And the Congress of Industrial Organizations were so strong that it could mobilize the mass to support Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

After vilifying the USSR and stabilizing the US economy, the capitalists rolled back the workers' movement, hunted down the socialist and communist parties. The 1947 Labor Management Relations Act (Taft–Hartley Act) has been effectively restricting unions' powers. And whatever Roosevelt conceded to the workers' movements in the 1930s and 1940s were aggressively taken back by Thatcher and Reagan and people alikes since the 1970s.

The capitalists successfully make "communist" and "socialist" such taboo words. And with the collapse of the USSR, they continuously drill into the heads of everyone that "socialism never works". Obama's deal is nothing compared to Roosevelt's plan, which initially required 100% tax on income over US$ 25,000 per year (equivalent to about a few hundred thousand USD nowaday). However, by labelling Obama a "socialist", the neo-liberals in the USA have scared a lot of people off the Obama's camp.

I don't see China as a communist country any more, but its development model is clearly different from the neo-liberal ideal. We don't even need a communist country like the USSR in existence to help the Western workers; even the moderate success of non-neo-liberal economies could make the private capitalist restrain their exploitation.
This series of "The Visible Hand" on the Economist tells something about how the state can actively participate in the market (http://www.economist.com/node/21542931). They did not mention much about the social effects, but I think with more tools and money in its hands, the government (supposedly chosen based on the principle of one-people-one-vote, not one-dollar-one-vote like the free market) can do a lot more in protecting workers' rights.
Alternative Display:
Mobile view
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Soviet-Empire.com. Privacy.