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

Top 5 mistakes the Soviet Union made.

User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 221
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 04 Feb 2013, 06:55
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Post 05 Feb 2013, 06:37
1. Perestroika
2. Stalin's Reign
3. Sino-Soviet Split
4. Cuban Missile Crisis where they should have kept the ICBMs in Cuba.
5. Afghan War (Not totally but they could have sent a larger force)
Soviet cogitations: 88
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 03 Feb 2013, 00:37
Post 05 Feb 2013, 12:45
1. Don't investing in efficiency (more efficiency means more production and more wealth for people);
2. Don't planned sucession and retirement of leaders of CPSU in 1970s (some elders of CPSU don't had the good health necessary to cope with leadership of the biggest country of world, and the power ended in hands of Gorbachev and Ieltsin);
3. Don't invested in propaganda towards Western countries, in Western style;
4. Glastnost (what kind of country talks all your secrets and so badly about himself? It was like playing poker with cards over the table);
5. Don't created efficient communication channels between common people and government (in a socialist government contact with people is essencial);
Soviet cogitations: 2051
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 Feb 2013, 00:20
Lack of push for efficiency

Too much focus on social conservatism

Lack of focus on computerization

Lack of willingness to devolve power down to local soviets

I'll pass on a fifth
Soviet America is Free America!

Under communism, there is no freedom; you are not free to live in poverty, be homeless, to be without an education, to starve, or to be without a job
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 5181
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Nov 2007, 06:31
Post 06 Feb 2013, 19:10
A nice fifth could be that bloated military.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Post 06 Feb 2013, 19:35
Tolerance of corruption, laziness, stealing, alcoholism and so on in the later period.
Allowing the Comparty to become senile and often simply a tool for climbing up the social ladder.
Failure to raise up the youth in the communist spirit.
Soviet cogitations: 2051
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 24 Jun 2011, 08:37
Party Bureaucrat
Post 06 Feb 2013, 19:37
This reminds me.. One of my coworkers is an Russian expat. She insists that all russians are lazy alcoholics, and that the only reason they did so well in the space race, is because someone made them.
Soviet America is Free America!

Under communism, there is no freedom; you are not free to live in poverty, be homeless, to be without an education, to starve, or to be without a job
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Post 06 Feb 2013, 19:43
Well that's not true but i think Gagarin himself turned alcoholic.
Soviet cogitations: 71
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2013, 07:11
Post 03 Mar 2013, 04:31
1)the afghan war--it drained the ussr of resources, and it hurt morale throughout the ussr. 2) Gorbachev's "reforms", which were too much too soon. 3) the split with China
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 1037
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 08 Aug 2011, 22:59
Ideology: Other Leftist
Party Member
Post 03 Mar 2013, 16:35
1. not having Stalin shot in the early 1920s already
2. not having Stalin assassinated during 1930s
3. not using the opportunity to forge better ties with the West at the end of WW2 (because of 1 and 2)
4. failing to provide better public service for their people
5. missing the seriousness of economic hardship brought upon them by themselves for not holding back the military-industrial lobby (generals)
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 4521
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Oct 2004, 22:04
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Resident Soviet
Post 03 Mar 2013, 18:32
Focusing only on what's been said in this read since its revival (i.e. late 2012):

1. Regarding Brezhnev, here is something I wrote earlier, that I feel is relevant here:

For all the flack he gets about allowing cadres to decompose in their chairs, it was under him that the USSR achieved strategic parity with the US, and began in a more serious and reasoned way to support liberation struggles throughout the world. It has to be remembered as well that living standards during his tenure rose in a major way. Though Suslov reduced the number of openings for anti-communist criticism, the country never reverted to a totalitarian society, and the 'genius age' of Soviet cinema occurred under Brezhnev. His personality and approach to foreign affairs also facilitated detente, and he was a smooth and charismatic negotiator. The signing of the Helsinki Final Act also ensured the maintenance of peace in Europe to this day (except in Yugoslavia, but that was after the USSR collapsed). It should also be remembered too that the lifeblood of the Russian economy in the form of oil and natural gas pipelines from Siberia were also laid mostly in Brezhnev's time. Nuclear icebreakers, space stations, quality heavy and light transport production, machine-building tools exported all around the world, the BAM railroad, construction of hundreds of thousands of modern apartments, a growing and more and more educated population, all of this was facilitated by Brezhnev's leadership. It's not for no reason that the Brezhnev era is known as the Soviet Union's 'golden' period -peace, more freedom, rising living standards. Overall, I think if he had retired in 1977 after the 60th anniversary of October and the signing of the constitution he would be remembered on par with Stalin among the masses among the 20th century's best Soviet/Russian vozhds, perhaps even better, because Brezhnev had no problem with any ethnic group, and didn't have so many people, innocent or not, killed. He did actually signal his wish to retire in 1976, writing a letter to the Politburo and asking to be relieved of his duties. He was convinced to stay however, the Politburo fearing that his leaving would begin a major political war among its circles...

2. Soviet military spending is difficult to measure, given that the country had a planned economy which made valuations difficult. In the late 1980s the leadership publicly commented that about 15% of GDP was spent on the military, but this doesn't measure that
a) the majority of the armed forces were comprised of conscripts -who served for free.
b) the military is said to have controlled some of the best quality light industry factories for their own use (for the production of things like uniforms, electronics, etc.). This theoretically means that these factories' goods weren't available to the general public, although in reality many of them worked producing consumer and military goods simultaneously
c) Soviet valuations of cost of things -from a fighter jet to a baby's bottle, were different from a market-based valuation. This is due to the system of economic indicators (much disputed here when discussing if/when the USSR became revisionist, whether it was state capitalist, etc.) where the factory-level profit indicator was only one among many.
Therefore, in some ways it could be said that the USSR a highly militarized country, with tens of millions in reserves, mandatory school military education courses, contingency plans to turn virtually any factory to military production, etc. On the other hand, because of free service, the calculation problems mentioned above, and the statements by the government mentioning figure of 15% of the state budget, it would be erroneous to say that the military swallowed up so much that it bankrupted the country.

On to Stalin:
1. The purges did negatively affect the USSR's initial situation in the war, though on the other hand there is evidence to indicate that some officers, including Tuchachevsky, really may have been plotting against Stalin for an officer's coup of sorts. There are some contemporary Russian scholars who theorize that even Timoshenko and Zhukov were involved in this to some extent, but that's being debated. Secondly, it's important to note that a majority of those purged were political officers, and though their fate is tragic, it's doubtful that it played such an important role in the loses of the first months of the war. Finally, it's important to recognize that many of those purged were officers going back to the Civil War period, and hence their strategic thinking and tactical behaviour could be said to have been dangerously out of date. The surviving Marshal Budenny was proof of this. After his disastrous leadership in the first few months, he served out the remainder of the war in the rear.

2. The post-war situation and the lead up to the Cold War was as much if not more the fault of the West than of Stalin. In Stalin's initial conception the countries of Eastern Europe didn't even have to be socialist -just constitutionally neutral and friendly to the USSR. He wanted Germany neutral and united. His ideologically motivated thinking convinced him for a period that any future global conflict would be between capitalist European powers and the United States, and that the USSR had need to maintain its military potential only to prevent any future imperialist war from penetrating the USSR. Hence despite his growing paranoia toward the West in the late 1940s (fully justified, I might add) there was nothing that he specifically did to initiate the Cold War.

Re: Afghan War: This 'became' an important mistake/reason for collapse only after the fact.


By the way, I can really agree with Tropican's contributions here. The points about glasnost and the need to invent a Western style propaganda apparatus in particular are really important in my view, because the ideological war was in the end an information war. When one side gives up and starts playing against themselves in a neverending cycle of self-shaming and ridicule while the other is ramping up its information warfare capacities to never-before seen levels (with a famous Hollywood Actor at the helm, I might add) - that's when the USSR truly lost the Cold War. runequester's point about computerization is also important, given that the USSR had the brains, the ideas, and the technology to do it.
"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
Soviet cogitations: 71
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Feb 2013, 07:11
Post 04 Mar 2013, 03:27 ... 77toc.html Here is a link to the constitution of the USSR. Note article 6 of the first section, which states:
"Article 6. The leading and guiding force of the Soviet society and the nucleus of its political system, of all state organisations and public organisations, is the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The CPSU exists for the people and serves the people."
Other articles of the constitution ensured that it was socialist, but this(article 6) made it a one party state. This was a mistake I believe. Also a mistake was the absence of an independent judiciary by which the actions of the state might be challenged in court as to their constitutionality. If you read this constitution you will see that freedom of speech and assembly is guaranteed. Without an independent court, it existed on paper only.
Since the constitution ensures that the USSR is socialist(article 10 and 11) I don't see how it could've been legally made otherwise in the events of the late 80's and 90's. This happened. I do not grasp that.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 121
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 26 Aug 2012, 01:06
Post 15 Mar 2013, 17:13
Mikhail Belovolk wrote:
Its a bad idea to let republics leave the union by their own will, because they're taken a chunk of your nation hostage basically. Any factory, civillian, or resource is now being pulled from under you.
For example: Ukraine was a big grain producer. When they decided to leave the union, the rest of the union now loses a big chunk of grain that they probably relied on.

Its like a player leaving a team, or a part of a car engine falling off by its own will.
All the republics worked together as one nation, and shared a common economy and relied on each other. When one forces itself out, the rest is forced to make up for everything lost by the secession.

Isn't that the idea of self-sufficiency? The USSR knw it had to be able to sustain itself in case it broke up. Besides, Lenin was the one who said they could willingly leave.

It's just my opinion that they should be able to leave whenever they want.

Yet Lenin wasn't around once the USSR had become an integrated, planned economy. I think that changes the game. "Concrete analysis of the concrete situation."

This doesn't mean that the right of secession would have to be completely abrogated. But it would have to be done in a planned way so as to not disrupt everyone else.

Also, I don't mean to get too realpolitik, because we should remain Leninist, but one does have to be realistic about imperialist encirclement...
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 3618
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 07 Apr 2013, 22:49
TheRussianLord wrote:
This thread is sort of pointless. The USSR was not a single entity, but a complex political structure with a multi-layered and multi-faceted decision-making structure. It becomes impossible to pin mistakes down on the country as a whole, not to mention that this simple listing of the mistakes with little if any actual debate is simple a postcount +1 type of thread.

I agree with this sentiment. Here is a top 5 of mistakes that people in this thread have made instead:

1. Assuming a monolithic and omnipotent Soviet leadership.
2. Assuming that this Soviet leadership had absolute power over the world movement, therefore making it possible to include mistakes of the Comintern, foreign communist parties, etc. in this thread as simply "USSR mistakes" without bothering to analyse the concrete situation on the ground, national peculiarities, Comintern politics, etc.
3. Writing history along the lines of individual "great leaders", official policy decisions, official statements, etc. (e.g. "it was a mistake that Khrushchev said X" or "They didn't kill Gorby") without looking at concrete circumstances.
4. Failing to provide alternatives, or at least to explain how "the USSR" could have known that they were making a "mistake" and avoided it without falling back on everything we know today.
5. Framing things in completely abstract, emotional or inconcrete terms, i.e. "Their biggest mistake was that they betrayed Bolshevism".

I'm sure there are more. With that out of the way, one thing that springs to mind, and which is touched upon quite a bit in this thread, is the complex relationship with the international movement. I haven't read very much about the pre-war period and the Comintern, but there are a few things that I can think of from the post-war period that are relevant regardless of what you think of Titoism, destalinisation, revisionism, Mao, etc.

Whatever problems existed (especially with Yugoslavia in the Cominform period, and later on with China and Albania) should never have been "resolved" by simply "excommunicating" these parties from the movement. Who really benefited from these splits? It may well be true that there were unavoidable differences; but surely it is better to have a difficult ally than a sworn enemy.

In any case, it was certainly wrong to abuse the internationalist and pro-Soviet attitudes of all the other parties by having them virulently denounce the Chinese and Albanians at conferences. All these parties lost credibility in their own countries because they felt it was their duty to defend every policy U-turn. It is this sort of thing that drove some western parties towards an autonomous direction, and later towards Eurocommunism.

These parties of course considered the CPSU the guiding beacon, and yet they were sometimes surprised in very unpleasant ways. For instance, Khrushchev's self-serving speech on Stalin, which was held in a closed session. All the other parties had to hear the news through the bourgeois press. It was likely designed to be leaked through those channels.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 66
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Jun 2004, 00:29
Post 12 Apr 2013, 10:10
Breaking Apart.

Not winning the Polish–Soviet War, and spreading the revolution to Germany. If I'm correct that was the plan?

Proletarii vsekh stran, soedinyaytes!
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Post 21 Apr 2013, 19:20
The German revolution was defeated way before the decisive battle of Warsaw.
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 17
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Nov 2011, 00:25
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 15 Feb 2014, 21:40
I suppose the answers in this thread will mirror your stand on the Soviet Union in general, and especially your view of the Stalin era and the counter-revolution that ended in the so called "De-stalinization". Enough about that, now you know my opinion on that matter. The reason why I will not put de-stalinization on this is list, is that it was not a mistake from any perspectives. It was simply the final defeat of the proletarian class in the class struggle of the Soviet state.

I agree with No. 14's comments. To give critics for things that the leadership could not possibly control shows a great lack of understanding of the real world, as well as failing to understand that sometimes, you have to choose the lesser of several evils.

So, my list will only consist of elements from the Stalin era.

1. Failiure to purge anti-proletarian elements from the party
- The fact that the khrutschevites was in the party when Stalin died proves this point. The way the different purges were carried out actually made it just as possible for the bourgouis elements to push out the proletarian elements as vice verca. Unfortunatley, the bourgois won this battle, and with the knowledge we have today, we can say that purges should have been dealt with differently. Do not misunderstand this point. I am most definatly not saying that too few were shot or sent in exile, like some quasi-defenders of Stalin will do. On the contrary, way too many people became victims of unjust exiling, especially in the Baltic states.

2. Forced incorporation of the Baltic states
- To secure this area before the nazi invation was a correct decition. To force them to stay in the union was not. To force socialism on nations that do not want it is impossible, and it have done a lot of damage to the reputation of the communist cause. Especially the forced exile of the intelligencia have created a scar in these nations tat makes it very hard to advocate communist views. Unnecessary to say, this is a precious weapon for the ruling class of theese countries today, labeling even jut slightly progressive movements as traitorus communism.

3. Giving political comissars power over technical issues
- The most interesting point of the memoirs of Nikita Khrutchev is were he debates this, and he is actually quite right (did not see that coming huh?). A part of the explanation of how the Ukrainian famine could happen is that political commisars started to get involved in technical agricultural questions. Against the protests of experienced farmers, they decided to put the plows way too deep, wich reduced the harvests.
"You can become a communist only when you enrich your mind with a knowledge of all the treasures created by mankind."
- Lenin
Soviet cogitations: 108
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 14 Feb 2014, 12:33
Post 17 Feb 2014, 23:46
1. implementing democratic centralism, effectively leading to more centralism than democracy - therefore reactionary
2. not introducing age-limits, term-limits which effectively led to the establishment of a gerontocracy (which indirectly led to an elite who were happy with the status quo; honestly, the only viable candidate they had in 1985 was Gorbachev, they had to other option, says a lot)
3. Not pursuing economic reforms early enough (in the 1960s)
4. Ending the New Economic Policy, and introducing the planned economy
5. The killing of inner-party democracy at the party centre, making the Central Committee accountable to the Politburo (when it should have been the other way around) and Stalin, who is the blame for all this.
Soviet cogitations: 589
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 07 Dec 2013, 14:24
Ideology: Democratic Socialism
Post 18 Feb 2014, 10:53
Replacing workers control in factories with state control

Subjecting the working class to military discipline during the civil war

The purges

The famines

The party elite monopolising control of the means of production and exploiting the workers.

Am I only allowed 5!
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 208
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 May 2009, 19:37
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 03 May 2014, 05:54
Errors from Stalin era:

[*] Let the Nazi German have initiate on the war, costing a lot of manpower and economic power. If not for this, USSR could get all the Europe and surpass USA.
[*] Didn't have a tight grip on Chinese Communist movement.

Errors from the 1950s (critical errors):

[*] Using profit (value) as the primary economic index, not use-value
[*] Let the secondary economy developed, and along with it, capitalist roaders.
"Stalin brought us up — on loyalty to the people, He inspired us to labor and to heroism!" Soviet Anthem 1944.
Let's work hard and do valorous deed!
Soviet cogitations: 54
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 19 May 2014, 02:13
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Post 19 May 2014, 06:24
1: Dissolving the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on August 29th 1991
2: The apointment of Mikhail Gorbachev as General Secretary of CPSU in 1985.
3: The election of Boris Yeltson as President of the RFSR
4: The Capitalist Market Reforms of Perestroykia
5: The dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and other Socialist Countries arround the world.

Somehow the CPSU allowed revisionists, liberals and capitalist to infultrate the government and destroy it from the inside out. The Politburo should have been seen them for what they were and removed them from power when it was realized what they were doing (Gorbachev was a real revisionists, Khrushchev wasn't in my opinion). If Gorbachev or someone like him hadn't reached the role of General Secretary of the CPSU then it's likely the Soviet Union and Socialism itself would still be strong today (although it might be averaging only 2% per year). While the Soviet Union's GDP growth rate was slowing down, this was because of Brezhnev and Kosygin's acceptance of what few Market Reforms came before Gorbachev. I would put this as number 6. The Market Reforms resulted in strengthening the black market which took investment out of the productive legal economy. Further I wouldn't call a 1.4%-2.4% growth rate a sufficient reason to dissolve your country and it's founding principals that made it great.


Note the significant slowdown of economic growth begining in 1971-1980, the period after the 1965 Kosygin reforms had fully taken effect. Also not the massive buildup of military spending begining in 1961-1970. This occured when Brezhnev tried to reach nuclear parity with the US although thankfully atleast this was taken care of.

At number 7 I would put Stalin's supression of the vibrant Soviet Democracy that existed during the time of Lenin and Trotsky. The Soviet Councils, Workers Self Manegment was all sweeped away. I will support Stalin against the claim he killed millions through genocide (as it is factually and historically wrong, hundreds of thousands died, far less than under George Bush) and I support his fighting against the Nazis and Western Imperialism and I support economic policies of the five-year plans with their modernization industrialization. However His supression of local control and direct paticipatory democracy indirectly allowed for Revisionists to take power decades later as they only needed to work their way up to the top of the Politburo and destroy it from within. Simply Purging the Party through repression and terror doesn't work as they all come back decades later.
Alternative Display:
Mobile view
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Privacy.