At which point was the USSR a little more sustainable?

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,596
Florania
Polity by definition are not sustainable, but the best leaders and their government attempt to do the best for lasting.
(No one enjoys the dishonour as the last ruler of a state!)
While the USSR was quite deformed from the beginning, when could the tide be changed towards sustainability?
Some people might suggest the radical industrialization under Stalin was necessary for the time.
I just notice that very few consumer products were from the USSR.
 

starman

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
4,099
Connecticut
While the USSR was quite deformed from the beginning, when could the tide be changed towards sustainability?
Maybe around the time of Khruschev, '50s. He might've tried something like what China did later--allow capitalism but maintain the authoritarian political system. If hardliners started bitching he could've said he was only doing what Lenin himself did with NEP. Also, interim reductions in defense outlays, to provide more consumer goods under capitalism, hence increase incentives and productivity, would ultimately strengthen the USSR even militarily.


Some people might suggest the radical industrialization under Stalin was necessary for the time.
Suggest? It was the key to survival, as Stalin said.


I just notice that very few consumer products were from the USSR.
It was a guns before butter society.
 
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pikeshot1600

Ad Honorem
Jul 2009
9,958
The USSR was a "guns before butter" economy (and society) in the 1930s, and in the 1980s it was still the same. Much of the rest of the industrialized world was becoming wealthier through the 1980s and 90s, but the USSR had been left behind. Central planning directed so much in the way of resources and spending to military policies and materiel that there was less and less available for what could have been a very large population of consumers.

There was little for them to consume. That the USSR expired the way it did indicates that there was very little support left for it even among its elite. The state was a developed country that, through its public policy, kept itself and its population poor.

Public expenditure in the 1970s and 80s went to strategic weapons and to the navy, which had to start almost from scratch. One of Reagan's advisors, when asked about the result of the Cold War, allegedly said "We spent them into poverty."

The case for the Khrushchev era as a period of potential sustainability may have merit, but perhaps only in comparison to the Brezhnev era. Neither the mentality nor the mechanisms were there to make the USSR, as it evolved, different from what it was. Essentially that was the same in 1985 as in 1935.
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,596
Florania
The USSR was a "guns before butter" economy (and society) in the 1930s, and in the 1980s it was still the same. Much of the rest of the industrialized world was becoming wealthier through the 1980s and 90s, but the USSR had been left behind. Central planning directed so much in the way of resources and spending to military policies and materiel that there was less and less available for what could have been a very large population of consumers.

There was little for them to consume. That the USSR expired the way it did indicates that there was very little support left for it even among its elite. The state was a developed country that, through its public policy, kept itself and its population poor.

Public expenditure in the 1970s and 80s went to strategic weapons and to the navy, which had to start almost from scratch. One of Reagan's advisors, when asked about the result of the Cold War, allegedly said "We spent them into poverty."

The case for the Khrushchev era as a period of potential sustainability may have merit, but perhaps only in comparison to the Brezhnev era. Neither the mentality nor the mechanisms were there to make the USSR, as it evolved, different from what it was. Essentially that was the same in 1985 as in 1935.
Then Khrushchev had many defects that rendered him unsuccessful in politics and reforms.
If Khrushchev and his team had some finesse, there might be chances for successes.
The Gorbachev Era was a bit too late for anything.
 
Mar 2015
682
Southern Brazil
Never. USSR was never sustainable.

Because USSR couldn't become Communist (You can't do communism in a ******* feudal nation), they turned state-capitalist.

As Mises pointed out, soviet state-capitalism could not win against the capitalists in their own game. So the so-called "revisionists" attempted to turn USSR into a different form of capitalism. It broke.
 
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VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,596
Florania
Never. USSR was never sustainable.

Because USSR couldn't become Communist (You can't do communism in a ******* feudal nation), they turned state-capitalist.

As Mises pointed out, soviet state-capitalism could not win against the capitalists in their own game. So the so-called "revisionists" attempted to turn USSR into a different form of capitalism. It broke.
Then, China became pragmatic in the 1970s and transformed the country from one of the most impoverished least developed country (even under Deng
Xiaoping, the nominal GDP per capita was still comparable to LDC of the time) to the most powerful Newly Industrialized Country by far.
In a few major cities, the GNP per capita is comparable to the developed world; then, some may argue that Mexico City has a GNP per capita
comparable to the developed world.
Let's investigate ways in which the USSR could be turned around:
1) Giving up arm races after World War II: Since direct invasion of the USSR was highly unlikely, resources could be used elsewhere.
2) Pursue Zhou Enlai's Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence and withdraw from Eastern Europe:
  1. Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
  2. Mutual non-aggression.
  3. Mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
  4. Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.
  5. Peaceful co-existence.
Unfortunately, the horrors of World War II rendered the USSR paranoiac and it was willing to ensure that conflicts do not happen in its own soil.
The historical fact is: the USSR imploded rather than exploded.
The irony is: The USSR prepared so much for external threats; they didn't materialize at all.
3) The irony of the Russian Orthodox and Orthodox in Eastern Europe in general: The revival was strongest immediately after the collapse of
the USSR and communism; the influence of Orthodox already waned in 2012, and this happened in less than a generation.
The issue of the USSR have been covered by much literature, and this is exactly why we cannot reach conclusions.
 
Feb 2016
42
United States
I'd say the guns before butter philosophy long-term kneecapped the USSR even if it did help in the short-term.

Short-term, Stalin did realize the USSR needed an industrial base to be competitive on the world market, and in that respect, he wasn't wrong. Unfortunately, it became a quantity versus quality problem, with an industrial base that might have been able to churn out a bunch of products, but due to the military skimming most of the resources off the top, what was left made quality control suffer and thus their overall GDP was long-term worse.

Also, if the people making the products aren't getting compensated well enough for making them, it does little to spur them to making more than what they need to meet quotas and little more, and that always makes an economy function less well than it should.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,596
Florania
I'd say the guns before butter philosophy long-term kneecapped the USSR even if it did help in the short-term.

Short-term, Stalin did realize the USSR needed an industrial base to be competitive on the world market, and in that respect, he wasn't wrong. Unfortunately, it became a quantity versus quality problem, with an industrial base that might have been able to churn out a bunch of products, but due to the military skimming most of the resources off the top, what was left made quality control suffer and thus their overall GDP was long-term worse.

Also, if the people making the products aren't getting compensated well enough for making them, it does little to spur them to making more than what they need to meet quotas and little more, and that always makes an economy function less well than it should.
Was there be a time when realistic adjustments were possible?
 
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Feb 2016
42
United States
Stalin was mainly concerned with strengthening the USSR vis a vis potential enemies such as the reich.
Which went hand in hand with having competitive markets. The USSR was, in fact, quite backward industrially, and fixing that would, in theory, kickstart a competitive economy and military.

However, his fears (admittedly not entirely unfounded) of military backwardness were so high that those expenses skimmed most of the economy off the top.

Was there be a time when realistic adjustments were possible?
Yes and no.

While one might argue post-WWII would have been a sane time to turtle up over what gains the USSR made and spend some of the excess on the consumer market, Stalin was still running things and it just kept his paranoia going even higher. By the time he croaked, the Cold War had kicked into high gear and the policy of guns before butter was pretty much set in stone.

This was when the first warning sign Stalin's policies were going to implode should have been obvious, but Cold War paranoia had set in stone to the extent guns before butter spending was considered the only sane idea given the arms race that had started in earnest.
 
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