Building a different economic system in one country with hard opposition is a steep path to climb. We can learn a lot from the interesting mess left by past attempts

  1. Competition with the West: The #USSR’s framing itself as a direct competitor to American capitalism, rather than a unique system, led to perceptions of being outclassed in some areas. This competitive stance with vastly different starting points made the USSR seem inadequate in some respects.
  2. Military Overspending: Excessive focus on military parity with the U.S. detracted from the USSR’s ability to improve civilian life and scientific progress. This allocation of resources, driven by historical security concerns and international threats, was necessary but ultimately detrimental.
  3. Lack of Economic Diversity: Smaller socialist countries, and even some Soviet republics, had undiversified economies, relying heavily on single burocratic industries or resources. This lack of diversity made these nations vulnerable to economic instability and dependent on larger, dogmatic socialist allies.
  4. Inadequate Light Industry: The focus on heavy industry over light industry led to shortages and lower quality in consumer goods. This affected the everyday satisfaction of citizens, due to the availability of personal and household items being limited.
  5. Limited Democratic Participation: While socialist nations like the USSR had forms of proletarian democracy, there was still significant room for improvement in workplace democracy and political participation. The burocratic centralization and rubber-stamping within the system lead to ossification and hindered any real democratic engagement.
  6. Restrictions on Cultural Expression: Over time, the USSR shifted from promoting local cultures to a subtle #russification process, causing cultural homogenization and dissatisfaction among non-Russian ethnic groups. Similar repressive policies existed in other socialist states like Albania.
  7. Deportations: The forced relocation of ethnic groups during World War II was a severe and unnecessary measure. While intended to prevent collaboration with the enemy, these actions fermented long-term harm and discontent.
  8. Purges: The purges in the USSR, aimed at eliminating a fifth column, were based on social paranoia and a flawed assessment, this led to widespread fear and instability. The failure to initially prevent the formation of such internal threats was a significant oversight.
  9. Limitations of Planning: Early economic planning in the USSR was hampered by the lack of advanced computational tools, limiting the complexity and effectiveness of this planing. Despite the advent of computers, the potential of democratic planning systems was not realized.
  10. Profit Reorientation: Transitioning enterprises to a profit-based system under Khrushchev led to a shift in priorities that confused socialist principles. This move fostered a capitalist mindset and contributed to the growing inefficiencies and corruption.
  11. Ossification of Party Leadership: The “power politics” of the ageing leadership within the Soviet government stifled innovation and responsiveness. More horizontals, younger, more dynamic paths were needed to maintain the vitality and adaptability of this socialist experiment.
  12. The Comintern: The centralized and bureaucratised coordination of international socialist movements by the Comintern had its drawbacks, such as imposing strategies that were not suitable for all member nations. A more horizontal and flexible approach could have mitigated these issues.
  13. Over-Bureaucratization: Bureaucracy and ossification within socialist states led to inefficiencies and resistance to change. Healthy grassroots #DIY culture could have streamlined administrative structures and reducing redundant positions that would have improved governance and responsiveness.
  14. Sovietization of Socialist Experience: The replication of burocratic Soviet methods in other socialist countries led to inappropriate policies and practices. Each nation needed to critically assess and adapt strategies to their unique contexts.

This vertical path has much to tell us if we are interested in taking a more horizontal path. Let’s try not to simply repeat this history, “don’t be a prat” comes to mind on taking this path.