At which point was the USSR a little more sustainable?

Mar 2019
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.
Well Soviet citizens were exposed to much the same propaganda that the west was. Everyone thought the other side was a barbaric horde set to launch a devastating attack at the first sign of weakness
Nov 2015
Stalin was mainly concerned with strengthening the USSR vis a vis potential enemies such as the reich.
I must say that the total militarization of Russia began 3 years before Hitler came to power and the Third Reich appeared. In 1930 when the militarization of Russia began the whole West lay in the abyss of the global crisis and did not pose any threat to Russia. And in 1933 when the first German tanks came off the assembly line, the main weapon of which was a 7.9mm machine gun - thousands of Russian tanks with guns rattled along Russian roads


Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
Edit - I rant on about China and the USSR, Plato and Marx (taking both philosophers as accurate in their theories as they exist in a vacuum), and that feeds into my conclusion: basically, some point in, pre-WW2 USSR - and my reasoning is derived from the thoughts strewn throughout the next several dozen (or something like that) paragraphs of ranting:

I don’t think the USSR as a nation of consumers would have worked in the 20th century regardless of how they designed their economy. It was born out of many of the poorest regions in the world, only small areas had traditional wealth.

The difference between China and the USSR was trade. China was able to use its capacity to fill niches in the world economy. The wealthier Eastern Asian nations were willing to work with China (in spite of a history of brutal warfare) than the wealthier Western nations of Europe were with the Soviets.

As has been mentioned, it’s a bit misleading to call the USSR communist, because they were only pursuing communism using an applied method best called Stalinism (since the official Marxist-Leninist label Stalin applied was also an inaccurate propaganda label). Communism with a Totalitarian government and bureaucracy kind of defeats the purpose. I’ve seen misconceptions on this site where people believe Karl Marx invented the form of government the USSR used.

What Marx actually did was examine the social and economic (primarily from a production standpoint) history of Europe and theorized the direction it would go in. Part of what he had witnessed, historically, was the conflict between classes which generally ended with a leftist shift away from hierarchical models: it’s kind of similar to Plato, but Plato focuses purely on social development - both Plato and marx saw the dismantling of the hierarchy into a more equal and free society.

Under the USSR, there was a strong government authority. Marx and Engels theorized the opposite occurring, that government would play a smaller role as production and the economy took over. So Marx didn’t see the struggle as one of government systems, but rather one of the working class against the investor class where the working class would take control of the stocks; he sees capitalism as the dictatorship of the bourgeois and socialism as the dictatorship of the proletariat. The USSR was neither of these, it was the dictatorship of a bureaucracy - more like a portion of Oligarchy and Tyranny in Platonism, with no democracy in the middle, than anything resembling the model of Marx and Engels. The USSR was on a path more closely following the Platonism model.

On the Platonic model, oligarchies always fall to democracy. Democracies come under the influence of Demagogues which then leads to tyranny. The communist revolution during the 1910s was a democratic revolution in nature to the Czardom. It fell very quickly to demagogues and then to tyrants. Tyrannies are perpetually unhappy and unstable.

On the Marxist model, China should be moving away from government authority and into a more socialized society where the people control the means of production. The Bureaucracy should be taking a smaller role, and there should be revolts against that authority when resistance comes along (Marx believed that governments were supporters of the bourgeois, even those that claimed they were for the people). It seemed Chiba was on that trajectory, especially in the Jintao era; but Jinping is beginning to look more and more like a Platonic tyranny than anything Marxist; UNLESS Hong Kong is any indication of the greater Chinese sentiment against Jinpeng - the next step on the Marxist model wouldn’t necessarily be democracy, but a leftward transition away from bureaucracy to one where workers rights and level of ownership increase.

Anyway, I digress. I’ll get to the point.

The USSR’s most stable point may have been where it proved to be the least stable; when they opened themselves up to the West under Gorbachev in that little window before the Coups. But the branding of socialism had been damaged so thoroughly that it may not have been able to be recovered, but even in that time there were a number of people in the USSR who looked to putting it on track with the ideals of the revolutionary period; but that didn’t materialize. HAD the USSR gone a similar route to China, and found uses for its productivity in world markets, it would have seen gradual improvement probably exceeding China today.

Again, it’s been brought up that the fear of invaders was high in the USSR, and this, again, is not really accounted for in Marxism, it is an element of the Platonic model, particularly of Demagogues and Tyrants.

I’ve ranted now, and since I’m writing from a phone on transit, I don’t think editing is an option. So I’ll get to my conclusion:

The fall of the USSR was likely inevitable from WW2 onward since it prevented itself from participating in the world market thus putting itself to an incredible disadvantage against those who were not (The USSR lacked many important productive capabilities, many due to climate - they were low on many tropical crops in high demand, such as coffee), it was only a question of when. By deduction, I’d say the most stable period was prior to WW2.
May 2017
Soviet Union produced plenty of consumer goods. I doubt many if any of them made it to the USA. You can still find all sorts of products made in the Eastern Bloc countries if you go to second-hand shops(in Finland anyway). Though the Soviet/German cars were nothing sort of ridiculous on today's standards, they were still exported all over Europe. Trabant and Lada come to mind - Lada is owned by the French today, and the company that made Trabant seems to be in business as well.

It's not like the whole country was converted into workshops producing guns...the money for the military came from the state budget, and just like in the USA it comes with the cost of all other things: education, healthcare, infrastructure, social security, etc. At the time of the arms race, the USA could sustain this spending, whilst the Soviet Union couldn't(which is one of the reasons that led to tehir collapse). Though why, 40 years later, USA is still spending at the same speed is beyond me.
Last edited: