Economic Update: Rise and Fall of the USSR

Economic Update: Rise and Fall of the USSR


Welcome, friends, to another edition of Economic
Update—the weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives: jobs, debts,
incomes, our own and those of our children. I’m your host, Richard Wolff, and I prepare
these economic updates each week. Today, we’re going to depart briefly from
our normal schedule to do an entire program devoted to a single topic. The topic is what happened in the Soviet Union—the
rise, the growth and the fall of the USSR. Why? Well, I’ve probably been asked more than
anything else to explain what in the world happened in the Soviet Union, and secondly
what in the world is happening in the People’s Republic of China. These two enormous countries—Russia the
largest by geography, China the largest in the world by population—have these enormous
experiments in Russian in the twentieth century, an experiment in constructing in constructing
socialism. In China, which started after the Russians,
it’s still going on. And these have had enormous effects—now,
most of the time, in the last fifty to sixty years, it was impossible to have a reasonable
conversation about these things. The Cold War prevented that. In the Cold War, each side found itself to
be the sum total of virtue, and the other one the sum total of evil. This kind of childish behavior was not appropriate
and is certainly crazy now that the Cold War is officially over. So hopefully we can begin, what should’ve
happened a long time ago, which is a balance assessment of what these enormous social experiments,
past and ongoing, what they mean. And that’s what this program is devoted
to, part one on the Soviet Union and part two on the People’s Republic of China. So let’s begin. What happened in the Soviet Union? Well, in the century before their revolution—because
everything was changed by that revolution, which happened in 1917—in the century before,
the dominant system in what was then Russia was feudalism, lords and serfs. Feudalism was over in Western Europe, long
before it was over in Eastern Europe. The Russians officially ended feudalism only
in the middle of the nineteenth century. And capitalism, which grew after that, grew
quickly in Russia, but was still a tiny part of their economy. The vast majority of people were rural—peasants,
farmers. They didn’t have much education, there was
no real school system going on, most people were illiterate, et cetera, et cetera. And that situation produced extreme poverty. Some wealth in the urban areas, where the
industry and capitalism developed, some wealth among the rich landowners who dominated the
countryside. But a society of extreme poverty, extreme
backwardness and extreme inequality. Into that situation, this new capitalism that
grew up in the last part of the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century
was a kind of implant, if you like—the French were the biggest owners of factories in Russia
at the time of the revolution. But the extreme poverty, the inequality, produced
a thirst to have something different from the old feudalism, but also from the new and
very rapacious capitalism. Unfortunately, for the people of Russia, the
tensions growing up around the capitalist part of the world—Western Europe, England,
Germany, United States—produced a spectacular war among capitalists fighting over industries,
fighting over markets, fighting over the colonies where each of these advanced countries was
creating a kind of backstop for their own economies. They went to war. The most horrific war in the history of the
world, the first war that was called a world war because it was so destructive over such
an immense territory. Russia, Germany, England, the United States
all participated. The Russians lost that war. They lost it mostly to the Germans, and the
Russian withdrew. But in the chaos of the war, much of which
was fought on the territory of Russia, there developed an anger among the people about
what had happened to them, the end of the feudalism that was not wanted, the rise of
a new capitalism that was so unequal and now a devastating war that you had an eruption
of a revolution—a demand of the mass of people for change. In that situation, the soldiers left the front
even before the war was declared over by the Russians who were defeated. They had to in part declare that because the
soldiers went home—they walked back across Europe to Russia. And so in the chaos of all of this, two political
parties made an alliance and called for a revolution. A lot of people don’t know this. Number one, a wing of the social democratic
party, the wing calling itself the Bolsheviks, were part of this, and the other party that
allied with them to make the revolution was a that party represented the poor peasants—it
was called the Socialist Revolutionary Party. And these two small parties merged together
for an alliance, called for a revolution and to everyone’s surprise—theirs too—they
succeeded. The old government, the Czar, fell and a new
revolutionary government took over. And it was heavily influenced by the leaders
of the Bolshevik party, who in turn had been influenced by Marxism. They were students of Karl Marx, they had
read all that stuff, they had learned about socialism from Western Europe and they were
determined to build it in Russia. Here’s some things they did that may surprise
you. The revolutions were “Bread, Peace and Land,”
the first thing they did was take the land of Russia and hand it out—this is crucial
for you all—as private property to the individual peasants of Russia. The notion that the Soviet revolution was
a revolution against private property is false and wrong, and comes out of that Cold War
hysteria. They weren’t opposed to private property,
they gave out property as private property on a scale no one has ever equaled since. They created the independent farmer who owned
his or her own land—extraordinary. They also declared—extraordinary—that
people would be provided, as part of the government’s commitment—the revolutionary government’s
commitment—with guaranteed food, guaranteed housing, guaranteed education, guaranteed
medical coverage—you get the picture. It was a socialist revolution. Over the years that followed, they tried to
implement all of this. With successes along the way, and failures
along the way. It was an experiment. They were flying by the seat of their pants,
because no one had done this before, let alone in a big country, let alone with a history
of poverty and backwardness and ignorance that had developed in a country like Russia. They quickly discovered, as they rebuilt after
the war, after the revolution, that they had enemies. And the enemies affected them deeply—again,
for those of you that don’t know. In the immediate aftermath of the revolution,
1917, they were invaded by four countries who tried to put down the revolution. The four countries, all of whom sent troops
that landed in Russia to fight the new revolutionary government—France, Britain, Japan and the
United States. Just a little footnote. The United States landed troops on Soviet
soil; the reverse never happened. You can ask yourself who’s entitled to be
afraid of whom, given that history. At the same time, a civil war developed inside
Russia between those who supported the revolution—the Red Army—and those who were opposed to it—the
White Army. I’ll leave you to guess who the invading
armies sided with—the White Army. And to everyone’s surprise, including the
leaders of the Red Army—and you might be interested in the name of the man who was
given the job of organizing and leading the Red Army, the man’s name? Leon Trotsky, who you may have head of. To everyone’s surprise, the Red Army won,
the White Army was defeated, the civil war was over and the foreign troops were pushed
out. The last Japanese troops leaving Russia in
1922, five years after the revolution. So now we have a country that’s very poor
to begin with, that has just lost the world war, gone through a revolution, gone through
a civil war, gone through a foreign invasion—they’re destitute. The achievement of the Soviet Union, which
has to be understood, is that it went from that level of destruction in 1917 to ’22,
so that fifty years later, in the 1970s, Russia had become the second-most important superpower
in the world, second only to the United States. That kind of economic come-back and economic
growth, because they also suffered in the Second World War, when Hitler invaded them—if
I had more time, I’d do more history—but what I want to stress is they went to work
to overcome poverty that was their number one goal, that’s what the number one leader
for most of these years—Joseph Stalin—was committed to. In the name of building up their industry,
they did a number of things. They collectivized agriculture, the land they
had given to the people, they took a good bit of it back—they left them with some,
but they wanted to create a modern agriculture. The government took over industries, to make
them work very hard. They built up their machines, they built up
their industrial base, they didn’t spend a lot of effort on consumer goods, which is
why in the Soviet Union, they were behind the West when it comes to standards of living. So they worked very hard to come out of poverty
and to become an important power, and they had to because they were surrounded by countries
that invaded them, hated them, opposed them, threatened them and so they built up their
military for which they needed an industrial base. They couldn’t buy their weapons, they had
to produce them. They couldn’t buy their ships and guns and
tanks, they had to produce them and they didn’t have the economy at first to do so. So they went on a kind of forced industrialization
march, led by the forcible leader Stalin. Civil liberties thrown to the side. Individual freedoms—repressed, absolutely. That’s a critique of what happened there,
but it’s important to understand why it happened, and in the service of what it happened. It’s important to balance the criticisms,
of what they did, the price they paid, with what it was for. And therefore, it’s important for me to
stress to you that the achievement across the twentieth century from 1917, when the
revolution happens, to 1975, a crucial year in Russia, was an achievement of economic
growth that had never been equaled by such a large economy in such a short historical
time. That’s why the Soviet Union was a model
for so many poor countries who want like that to become rich, to become developed, to be
able to develop an independence in the world, even when threatened the way they were. The Soviet Union was an extraordinary experiment
in economic growth, both in what that can achieve and what a society can do, if committed
in that way, and also an experiment that taught what the human price was of all of that. The lesson to be learned is, of course, can
we can the benefits without paying the costs. And it is to that part of the Soviet experiment
that I will turn next. But before I do, please remember with me that
it is an important way for you to partner with us, to look at us on YouTube and sign
up as a person who gets notification of every one of these programs that we put up on YouTube,
to follow us on our websites, rdwolff.com and democracyatwork.info, where you can follow
us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—communicate to us via email and so on, and share with
us and help us get these kinds of messages across. And as always, a special thanks to the Patreon
community that supports us and encourages us. You can find us at patreon.com/economicupdate. Stay with us, we’ll be right back. Welcome back, friends, to the second half
of today’s Economic Update. We’re talking about the Soviet Union and
what happened there—the revolution, the consequences of the revolution, the achievements,
the criticisms, the failures, all of it. But I want to mention, before jumping back
in, that if you’re interested in all of this, what I am presenting here is a kind
of summary of something developed in great detail in a book published a few years by
my frequent colleague Stephen Resnick and myself. So, the authors of this book are Stephen Resnick
and Richard Wolff. The title of the book is the following—Class
Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR. It was published in 2002 by Routledge publishers,
London and New York. It’s available through the usual mechanisms,
and if you’re interested it’ll give you the detailed analysis that we’re summarizing
here. OK, I want to look now at the Soviet experiment,
particularly with how it ended, why it ended and what the lessons are that we should draw
from it. The Soviet Union grew spectacularly after
the revolution. It recovered by the late 1920s and entered
the ‘30s with a renewed economy, having recovered from the war and determined to build
up their industry, and they spent the 1930s doing that. That was the period of Stalinism, of the repression
of all criticism, of all opposition and a furious—you might even say hysterical drive
to industrialize. No sooner had they made the kind of spectacular
growth that the 1930s saw in the Soviet Union then they were once again threatened, as I
remembered and as I told you about in the first part of our show today, they were attacked
right after the revolution by those four countries. Now it was a different country that attacked
in the end of the 1930s and beginning of the ‘40s, they were menaced by a country in
Europe called Germany, who leader at that time, Adolf Hitler the fascist, said that
the Soviet Union was the number one enemy and target of fascism. And true enough, after some games of diplomacy
had been exhausted, the Nazi government of Germany attacked the Soviet Union and by that
time the Germans had re-armed, after World War I, which the Germans also lost, they had
re-armed and they directed their fury against the Soviet Union, marching across the Soviet
Union all the way to Moscow, a long distance from Germany. Tremendous destruction of life and property
and the little developed economy that Russia had, in fact, by then produced—a devastating
blow. Again, to the surprise of many, the Russians
held at Moscow and the Second World War changed when Hitler could not succeed and the Russians
began driving him back. Hitler made a big mistake by opening a second
front against Britain and Western Europe and the United, so now he had to fight a war on
two fronts—against the Russians, coming at him from the East, and Western Europe and
United States coming at him from the West. And so the Nazi threat was defeated but at
the price of, for example, more Russians died in World War II than any other nationality
because it was fought so bitterly on their territory. So, again they were destroyed, having barely
had fifteen, twenty years of being able to recover and grow. And still, despite all that, they kept going
and became, as I said, the second industrial superpower after the United States by the
1970s. The concentration on economic growth, on industrialization,
was the hallmark of what they did. And they did it brilliantly and effectively,
against two world wars and a revolution and a civil war and a foreign invasion. Extraordinary—really is extraordinary. But they paid a heavy price. Early in the immediate aftermath of the revolution,
they had tried all kinds of very ambitious socialist experiments. Communes in households, where everybody—men
and women—shared all the household tasks, an amazing change from the patriarchal system
that they had inherited from before the revolution. There was a freedom for women, a notion that
women were to be equal to men, that public daycare was to take care of childcare, public
canteens were to take care of the cooking, so that women would be free to work outside
the home, jus as men were—extraordinary openings to feminism and a revolution in the
conditions of women. A reaching out to all the ethnic minorities
that made up the Soviet Union—remember, Russia is only one party of it and it was
called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic, because the other ethnic groups were given
status as in independent, quasi-independent republics and so on. Extraordinary experiments, many of those were
pushed aside. And one of those that was pushed aside, and
there were some experiments in the the ‘20s, that the socialism that they were constructing
would have to also mean the revolution inside the workplace—in the factory, in the office,
in the store—where a socialist principle, that we are all equal, that decisions are
made democratically, not just in the political realm, but in the economic realm, which means
not the government makes all the decisions, and we do all the work, but we run the enterprises. This idea, which was talked about at great
length, was pushed aside, as were the notions of women’s equality, as were a lot of other
revolutionary impulses under this drive to industrialize, which was always defended the
grounds that if we don’t, we will be overwhelmed by our enemies. Those who attacked us after the revolution,
and now those who attack us from the fascist side of the political ledger. So, all those experiments were pushed aside
in order to focus on one thing: they did that one thing extraordinarily well—well enough
to survive. But they paid a price, and let’s look at
that price in some detail. First, by repressing the independence and
freedom of women, they kept alive the old family structure in the household—the dominance
of the male, the subordination of women and children, and that kind of inequality ate
at the socialist principles they talked about, but did not institute in the home. Ditto in the workplace; they left that a place
of hierarchy. Government officials replaced the private
boards of directors, the private capitalists, but it was still a handful of officials sent
from Moscow, members of the Communist Party, who told everybody what to do, where to work,
how to work, what to do with the results of their work, how to use whatever profits their
enterprise produced. It was still that old capitalist-style of
internal organization of the enterprise, and that created tensions between the government
officials running it and the workers doing the work, kind of like you have in capitalism—the
endless struggle and tensions between those who run the show and those who do the work,
the minority at the top and the majority at the bottom. This was not only the end inability of the
Russian socialist experiment to go beyond rebuilding a country and becoming a beacon
for economic growth for the mass majority of poor people in the world, it was something
that ate at the viability of the Soviet Union itself. Let me add a couple more. The Soviet Union in the ‘30s, ‘40s, ‘50s,
‘60s was also committed in a remarkable way to holding on to the industrialization
as the focus, as the World War Two and they entered the Cold War with the United States,
they were caught up in an arms race. Remember, the Second World War ended with
the United States dropping two atomic bombs in Japan, the only country ever to do that—to
drop nuclear weapons, but it was a message not to the Japanese, who were already beaten,
but to the Russians as to what the Americans were prepared to do, and as the Russians became
the new enemy after Japan was defeated, they felt they had to therefore build a nuclear
industry, a nuclear weapons manufacturing capability so they had to keep on with their
focus on industrialization and postpone the development of the consumer, so that became
their weak point. The mass of Russian people noticed, with modern
radio and television communications, that their standard of living was repressed relative
to what was normal in the West. They were jealous, they were envious, they
wanted to live at that standard too, and the West used that for all the obvious benefits. Yes, we had become a rich country, not a poor
one, but our standard of living didn’t show it. And then, also to defeat the United States
or at least to prevent themselves from being surrounded—I should mention after World
War II that the United States military did surround Russia with military bases at every
country around it—the anxiety of the Russians meant that they tried to do a little bit like
that too, such as invading Afghanistan in order to make that less of a threat to them,
to have some room, like they did in Eastern Europe, between their border and where the
enemy might come from yet again. And all of that took resources, the resources
to have a nuclear military, the resources to invade other countries and manage them
at a distance, et cetera. And it turned out the Russians couldn’t
do all they set out to do. They couldn’t create a consumer industry
big enough. They couldn’t create an economy rich enough
to support an arms race with the richest country on earth. They couldn’t do it. But they kept trying and as they tried and
people’s anger—add to that the absence of civil liberties, the absence of civil rights,
looking to the West as a place where these things they could not have in Russia were
had—they became critical of the Communist Party as a party that wasn’t doing enough,
and the Party became very defensive. Yes, it had produced the miracle of economic
power and growth, but they had paid that big price. And eventually, between inability to do it
all and the bitterness built up, the Russian Revolution of 1917 came apart and crashed
in on itself in 1989. The irony is revolution survived and grew
stronger with the invasions and the civil war and the world wars. But what it could not solve were its own internal
contradictions, the contradiction between socialist images, socialist ideas, socialist
hopes and the reality of family life that hadn’t changed from what it had been for
centuries, from a workplace that was organized in an undemocratic way that created therefore
tremendous tensions between the dominant state and party on the one hand and the mass of
working people on the other. These failures—and that’s what they have
to be called—undermined their successes. It’s not that they didn’t have success,
I’ve stressed to you they did—extraordinary ones—but you have to do more than that to
survive. They didn’t learn that lesson. Last point, they did it all on their own. They could not cut deals with the West which
was their implacable enemy and therein lies one of the most fundamental differences between
Russia and the People’s Republic of China, because they did cut a deal with the West—that’s
why we’re wearing Chinese clothing and using Chinese appliances and driving Chinese-produced
cars. The difference, as you will see, is very powerful. I hope this attempt at a balanced sense of
what Russia achieved and what it didn’t achieve under their Soviet experiment was
interesting to you. The lessons—plus and minus, good and bad—will
shape struggles against capitalism for decades to come. Thank you very much. I look forward to speaking with you again
next week.

100 thoughts on “Economic Update: Rise and Fall of the USSR

  1. Thanks Professor Wolff, you’ve cleared many things up for me.
    I was impressed with the beauty of Russia as seen in the World Cup, now you’ve helped add admiration and respect for the Russian people knowing what they’ve been through to get to where they are.
    Most people who criticize have no clue as to what the Russians went through and why.
    Again, I’m grateful to have this opportunity to learn.
    Thank you very much!

  2. The view of that Bolsheviks were attacked by western democracies in 1919-20 is a myth. They wanted to "export revolution on the bayonets of the red army" (Lenin). I recommend Professor's Kotkin's book "Stalin: Paradoxes of Power", Kotkin is a real scholar. I do not know who this guy is.

  3. Another piece of communist propaganda. People had no freedom , they were owned by the government. To travel from city to city they needed government permission. Russia was and is very rich in natural resources, gold,oil,gas,coal,ore, they did not have to buy anything. All eastern block countries were helping them.They did not invent anything.People to survive they had to steal,from work place,everybody was stealing, all factories were owned by government.

  4. I have been listening to your podcast for the last couple days everybody has bad moments now my question to you is where do you live if you live here in the United States and you like that kind of socialism why don’t you go to where that is and leave us alone why must you infringe on my right that’s the question I half

    In one of your speeches you sounded like you wanted to take the wealth and privilege from that person because you wanted it that’s not right

    Where I come from that is mob mentality and bully mentality

  5. Why is the book Class and Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR so expensive? $55 on Amazon.

  6. It’s funny: Advocates of the free market economy/capitalism justify the argument pointing out the failures of western capitalism by saying that these are actually due to socialist aspects within them, i.e. “this is not real capitalism”, basically.
    Now, Wolff is doing sort of the same, blaming the failure of the USSR on capitalistic elements within the system, in a “this wasn’t real communism” sort of way.
    Not sure what to make of this.

  7. 40% of the comments here are thanking Prof Wolff for his concise summary on a very complex topic that they knew less about than they do now. 30% are repeating each other that Wolff 'conveniently' left out Soviet violence and oppression (which he didn't even do?) and calling him a Soviet apologist. And 30% are proclaiming the righteous place the USSR deserves in history and calling Wolff an overcritical rightwinger and/or liberal. Hmm. Sounds like this session hit the mark, Professor! Kudos on a class well-presented, as always.

  8. Some corrections:
    Hitler was not a fascist. He was a "national socialist" or short: "Nazi". He had a fascist ally with Mussolini. But he also had a fascist enemy with the dictator of Poland, whose aggressive territorial expansionism, pogromes against ethnic minorities, in particular germans, and the Danzig issue led to that regional military conflict between Germany and Poland. Which was systematically fueled by the British to get the world war they longed to unleash, originally against the soviet union but then against Germany as this country has very parallel to the soviet union gained much of its strength back under nazi rule which made the outcome of World War I, also waged by the British to destroy Germany, Austro-Hungary and the Ottoman Empirem, obsolete. So World War II started actually as a repetition or resumption of World War I.

    Another correction: Not Hitler invaded the soviet union, but the germans did. Important fact regarding this: If the germans hadn't invaded, than Stalin would have invaded. His goal was to made the domestic revolution become the world revolution. Stalin's aggressive military build up was aimed at a world war planned and unleashed by the Anglo-Saxon powers on September 3rd 1939. (Amongst the major powers only Germany had no significant military build up that could somehow regarded as having expansionist ambitions.) Stalin's betrayal of the international socialists & anarchists during the spanish civil war already shows this as well as that this guy rather should be regarded as an anti-socialist in a more narrow sense of the term "socialism". Generally the political system of the soviet union under Stalin should more precisely be regarded as "proto-socialist state capitalism". But in no way as socialism or even communism. The soviet union never came even close to communism.

    Another correction: Hitler's mistake was not the two fronts war – he had no choice with that – but his constant hesitation. Begging for peace with up to 40 official peace offers to the British Empire that itself had only one goal: To finally unleash an extermination war against Germany. Which they did. Did you ever noticed that to the present day english and american firebombs must be defused in Germany? Nothing like that happens in the UK or USA.

    Another correction: Women's equality/feminism is still patriarchy. It's advanced bourgeois patriarchy. The final state of patriarchy, when women are about to be fully assimilated in a capitalist economy and society as "males 2.0". The soviets came first, which happend kind of naturally, as their state capitalism specifically simulated the final monopolist stage of (free market) capitalism.

    Another correction: The soviet union never invaded Afghanistan. It was invited by the government of Afghanistan to fight the wahhabi cockroaches that the CIA had brought into that country and continued to do so which later became the taliban, al qaida, isis and so on.

  9. A good example of just how novel the revolution was is the massive celebration in Leningrad when the Russian Revolution lasted longer than the Paris Commune.

  10. Brilliant historical overview. Brilliant. And learning from the mistakes is imperative. One of my favorite episodes of this show.

  11. Great video, but this glossed a bit too much over the horrors and comes across as a little too biases. Only mentioning the repression of freedoms like speech and press seem dwarfed by the snuffing of life.

  12. Odd that Wolff neglected to mention the 20-40 million people murdered by Soviet Socialist governments in the 20th century.

  13. Well, Richard, you certinly glossed over that little invasion of Poland by Russia working with Germany to start WWII. And, while Hitler was certainly a fascist, Stalin was as well. And lastly, words matter, your love of Marxism and Socialism as strictly defined makes sense to me, but to the rest the country of nincompoops they are like walking over the flag with muddy boots.

  14. Dr. Wolff radicalized my understanding of economics. I hope that, if he and/or his organization was funded even in part by Russians or Chinese, he would disclose that information. I subscribe to a whole, whole lot of his economic views. I would not think any less of Dr. Wolff or DoW, I don’t think Russia or China are villainous countries. But in our media culture I think we should be pressing even the media figures we respect to be transparent about financial relationships with subjects they discuss at length.

  15. China switched to a market economy and allowed for their workers to be used in sweatshops built by the US; that was how they remained open to world trade despite being nominally Communist.

  16. But the Soviets already had their own army during the Russian Civil War, which was funded by War Communism. The Soviet economy had also already grown to pre-WWI levels through The New Economic Policy after the Kronstadt Rebellion.
    Nazi Germany was also militarily very weak to begin with compared to the Soviets during the Russian Civil War, let alone before Stalin killed most of his army officers during the Great Purges, followed by their mutual Non-Agression Pact and their joint invasion in Poland in 1939. Stalin had even been given multiple warnings of an imminent attack from Nazi Germany which he was unwilling to believe.
    Capitalism isn´t the only political ideology which has defended itself while blaming everything on the others. In fact, it´s very typical within politics themselves.
    I myself advocate a Natural-Law/Resource-Based Economy. http://www.moneylesssociety.com/home/2017/01/09/communism-vs-resource-based-economy-a-definitive-guide-how-rbe-will-arise/

  17. So in summary: Russia lost WW1, very large poor nation, and were then invaded by 4 nations (France, UK, Japan, USA). They had civil war 1917–22. Bolsheviks, after overthrowing rich Tsars, gave free land to peasants (before which they couldn’t own land because it was owned by the few rich). Given guaranteed house, food, medical care, education free. (Why didn’t you mention their 2 horrible drought and famines, 1921-22, 2-5 million died, total of 20 bad droughts and famines.) Fought in WW2, and in just 50 years still rose to be second largest super-power on earth, after the US. From 1922 worked towards their GOAL of ending poverty! Some land collectivization (not all), built up industries, machines (couldn’t buy them; US refused to sell anything, and did everything to make them suffer that they could). Needed to build military because America was building a military and needed to protect themselves (if not forced to by USA, they wouldn’t have wasted time or money on military). Could not buy ships, guns, tanks etc. so they had to make their own. They had to postpone the consumer goods which became their weak point; people noticed on TV what they were missing, and weren’t happy. But if nothing had happened in 1989 they might have been ready to start making consumer goods. But it would have been easier and they would have been happier if only America had sold them whatever they needed and wanted.

  18. Might be worth mentioning that Lenin died young at age 53, only about 5 years after the revolution against greedy capitalist Tsars. That’s a real bummer because if he could have lived into his 80’s or even 70’s or 60’s things probably would have turned out very differently.

  19. What exactly is this video supposed to say?
    That the Stalinist system was good?

    That there were no factors ourside of Socialism for why the Soviet Union was able to industrialize?
    Are we supposed to ignore the fact that GDP growth was consistently slower in the USSR than in America throughout the coid war?
    Or that similar economic systems did not bring massive wealth or economic growth to countries like Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba?

    Are we supposed to ignore the problems that actual post-capitalist socialism has?

    It's also pretty disgusting that you're spreading the lie that the US only dropped the nuclear bombs on Japan as some sort of public warning to the Soviets.
    That's ridiculous for many reasons, but the most important reason is that if Japan had already been defeated, US military planners were totally unaware of this "fact."
    They had in fact planned for a massive ground invasion of Japan and manufactured enough purple hearts that they are still handing out that batch from 1945 today.
    You can say they were nefarious, that it was terrorism, that they didn't care about Japanese civilians, or that it was motivated by racism.
    Some of that may be true. The argument that the US magically knew the war was over and that it was just a scare tactic aimed at the Soviets is beyond ridiculous.

    Also to make the argument that the Soviet Union suffered economically relative to the west as a result of their military development is silly.
    The United States was spending just as much money on its bloated military during the cold war as the soviets were, yet their economy did fine.
    Your argument only works if the soviets were the only ones arming themselves, which of course they were not.

  20. And in the Soviet Union, you can go to college, see a doctor, have a place to live …. amazing. Regardless of race/class. For the average person, Heaven compared to the US. I'm sorry but blue jeans and rock'n'roll were and are over-hyped.

  21. I'd like to recommend the DVD series "The Unknown War" done in the 1970s as a US/Soviet project, with a great Soviet film maker, make sure to get the full set because there are sets out there with some episodes taken out. Great stuff!!

  22. Albania , Hungarian People’s Republic under Markosi and then Nagy, East Germany , the early Soviet Union (1922-1953), and Cambbodia are examples of true socialism. The Soviet Union under Khrushchev and China under Mao was revisionist and secondary imperialist. People forget the China in the 60s in forward with support imperialist movements in the third world against socialism. Particularly Pol Pot in Cambodia , UNITA in Angola , Renamo in Mozambique , TPLF and EPLF in Ethiopia , the reactionary fascist government in Somalia under Siad Barre , and invaded Vietnam to protect its Revisionist proxy in Cambodia.

  23. Americans should read about how rich the Tsars and few rich capitalists were so they can understand WHY Russians wanted socialism which would later become communism. And tell everyone how poor the peasants were.

  24. You didn’t mention many important things, such as what types of communication and transportation they had (they walked, and some had maybe a horse and wagon, NOT CARS etc, because capitalists sure won’t mention how that made distributing food very difficult during wars and famines, and those problems weren’t easily overcome, it was like climbing a steep hill with bare hands and feet. And mention that millions of Americans are just that poor today still! Over 1.5 million are homeless, many are paying rent with 50% to 90% of their income to keep a roof over their heads.

  25. You should say that they gave out private property to previously POOR PEASANTS who couldn’t ever buy or own land because the few rich capitalist Russians OWNED all the land.

  26. You need lots more helpers who will add lots more details like I’m suggesting. Because you alone can’t do it all. You’re doing a great job though!

  27. And America wouldn’t sell them anything which caused the bitterness against their government which is exactly why America did that, to cause envy and strife, to make them fail! And everything a capitalist does to stop any country’s progress also means the CAPITALISTS THEMSELVES don’t get the benefits all people would have by simply ending capitalist wage slavery and ending world poverty! Because if there was equal wealth then all people would be able to contribute their IDEAS and inventions, and help find cures, which they can NOT DO when they’re too poor!! Because capitalism IS SLAVERY and the cause of world poverty, and that STOPS PROGRESS! Damn capitalist USA AND UK!

  28. America : lets spend 2 billions dollars in research for a zero gravity pen that we can use in space.
    Soviets : let use lead pens and put our money where it really matter, like education and health care.
    Russia space program still going on i wonder why ?

  29. And even today most people do NOT THINK the wage system is slavery! But by everyone saying the wage is slavery will help turn people away from capitalism! So no one thinks someone is a slave if he gets paid, but that means a person could get paid ONE CENT their entire life and they’re not a slave! There is no set amount of pay anywhere that says when someone is or is not a slave, so one cent a lifetime is “getting paid and not a slave”.

  30. so japan was the guinea pig to drop atomic bombs on as a warning from the U.S. to russia?

    are oriental asians lesser humans that can be used for atomic bomb testing seen through the eyes of the U.S. and potentially other westerners?

  31. If you want to learn about the history of the USSR, read a book not written by Richard Wolff. You'll be able to spot the spin in this video with very little effort.

    The coup of 1917 was a surprise to people? Maybe if those people were born the day before.

    The USSR was menaced and attacked? Was that before or after they were hunting and killing Christians?

    The Bolsheviks were supported by the west, such as by JP Morgan.

    Simply put, this gentleman is so enamored with Marxism, it seems, that he is just picking up the baton of Communist propaganda.

  32. Not sure if there are blatant lies here, but it sure is a onesided outlook to file the unbelievable violence and suffering and the cold-hearted cruelty of Lenin and Stalin under necessary or excusable "costs of revolution".

  33. Can you make a video on Yugoslavia? I think workers' control of the workplace was implemented there, while standards of living were much higher than in the Soviet Union

  34. You left out the 20 million civilians murdered by the communists in Russia, the intentional starvation to death of 9 million children and women in Ukraine by Stalin , how the communist bosses in Russia lived like kings without work, exploiting the workers, their blood, sweat and tears, and that the horrors in Russia were exceeded only by the murders of millions of people by the communists in China and Cambodia.

  35. Jesus christ this man and the comment section are delusional…

    I’m fearing for mankind if any of you get into power. My lord…

    He’s a soviet fanboy, die hard even. Even a blind man should see that the Soviet Union was an utter failure. The comments are saying the SU didn’t collapse but was ‘overthrown’. Lmfao! The amount of denial is staggering..

    It was ‘amazing’ how the SU got to be a superpower 50 years after the revolution?

    No. It isn’t. They had so many advantages, you can’t even count. Demographically they had so many inhabitants, they could burn through citizens to get their goals done (which Stalin did), they had oil and gas for days, which they could sell to inflate the economy (which is what Putin still does today), they conquered half of Europe and stripped it of its wealth and knowledge, bringing all of that to Russia.

    He thinks its amazing the reds won vs the whites in the civil war? Why? They got supported heavily by the German government. Lenin was basically a German operative. In exchange they would sell half of Russia’s most valuable land to the Germans, which they did. Remember Brest-Litovsk?

  36. nice ,tell them when russia saver our democracy or our country as a real FRIEND & england & france warmonger motherfucker wanted the south to win ,they wanted to send guns true the gulf of mexico ,So Russia said NO @ the meeting in europe ,send a ship to new york & california

  37. I think the USSR also created a balance which benefited the West as well. Much of the well-being of Americans and Western Europeans that we are now losing in the new gilded age was created and shared in order to avoid Russia and Socialists from taking over.

    After '89 this "threat" ceased to exist and so the ravenous neoliberal "animal spirits" were set loose under the justification that "there's no alternative"

    Also, I think one other aspect is that as long as someone has to operate the means of production there are going to be hierarchies. However, if the means of production get automated that's another story…

  38. 10:15 But Sir, while alluding who is the aggressor and who is defending himself, why not mention the westward invasion around the same time, thankfully stopped at the Battle of Warsaw?

  39. Yegor Gaidar, who was the Minister of Finance of Russia from 11 November 1991 to 2 April 1992 and subsequently because the Prime Minister of Russia, has written a very good book about the economic reasons which lead to the collapse of the Soviet Union. Basically, they went bankrupt.
    https://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Empire-Lessons-Modern-Russia/dp/0815731140/

  40. Triggered? by asking a socialist that hates capitalism how many jobs he has created? Triggered?

    Nope, just a fair question. Only those that have never actually created jobs, businesses, payrolls etc. critique the best system in the world. When you sit in an academic seat your entire life, you have no clue how the real world works, and what kind of effort and ingenuity it takes to actually create the commerce that keeps society going. All academics do is look at the outcomes of the few, and say they don't deserve what they have earned. And they overlook the millions that have a good life from the efforts of a few. And they discuss and highlight only the top efforts of the few and the bottom results of a few, without ever discussing personal choice or effort. Behind every result is a cause. Socialists and academics only look at results of effort and hide lack of effort to make a skewed conclusion. Triggered? No. just pointing out the truth that lacks in the bias of the socialist academic

  41. "Economic growth," whether achieved by a nominally "socialist" government or a capitalist one, is code for the murder of the natural world. Communism is just state-run capitalism. Its gotta be back to the stone age. Fuck it.

  42. I wouldn't assert the USSR's implementation of Socialism as a massive distribution of privatisation.. more, a massive assignation of land, to be repealed on a "whim".

  43. Good book to read about the "failure" of the old Soviet Union is "Class Struggles in the Soviet Union, I and II" by Charles Bettelheim, who noted that the class struggle did not cease after the Revolution but continued with the effort to establish a socialist system and the persisting remains and attitudes of the old system. Dr. Wolff gave a good synopsis of the Soviet situation but with only around 30 minutes, how can one adequately describe what happened there during that era? A good job anyway.

  44. with all due respect dr. wolff you forgot to mention that the COMMUNIST red army was the most brutal regime in the history of the world? you forgot to mentions the 10's of millions of people that were brutally murdered along with czar Nicholas and his entire family comprised of young girls and women . You sir are a disgrace and a fake liberal propagandist. The organized murder and genocide of ethnic russians was perpetrated by the Trotsky's and his goons. Even though there was an economic push it was at the cost of millions of people and you are a part of it by hiding these historical facts and how there was overwhelming support of this barbaric party by wealthy and influential "American" bankers. Conveniently you are misguiding your audience to believe your propaganda but you don't fool me. You are an old fraud that wouldn't stand a chance in a debate with any intellectual person. Have a great day .

  45. Mr. Wolff the average American does NOT make 17 plus dollars an hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NOT SURE where you got that figure in a previous show but it's NOT factual. i live in Mass. we have a tech, medical and education jobs market here and NO ONE makes 17 bucks an hour!!! we work 3 jobs plus to make ends meet!! NO INSURANCE< NO PENSIONS AND NOOOOOOOO 4O1Ks

  46. The basic core prince able that was the undoing of Socialism Is not recognising Individual rights and freedoms and the basic right of one person one vote. This core principal should have been persuade when the peasant farmers became educated enough to understand the value of the right to vote and what is the outcome in the policy direction of that vote.

  47. Wolff sure can spin BIG LIES.. This guy is disgusting and dangerous — if you want to know what is going on, you don't listen to people like this — you educate yourself and dont take this liars word for anything. USSR fell because it was a corrupt dysfunctional top down bureaucracy — US was forced to share its technology with Russia — just like US was forced to share technology with China. US system is the best. Wolfe is a digrace!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. HOw did Lenin start a revolution in a country that he was not in. He was financed by Western Banking Elite. Want to know the truth — Look up Anthony Sutton — this guy is full of shit and a propagandist. WW1 was also financed by the global bankers. Wolfe is liar, educate yourself.

  49. 95% accurate. I couldn’t have delivered it better, or perhaps.
    Good job.
    History and Economics go hand in hand, quasi two sides of same coin.

  50. …..its good if you could go up to the current Russian economic performance,…as per the numbers they are doing good like China with all these tensions and restrictions,..what is the secret?

  51. This guy is a communist. Anyone backing how Stalin industrialized Russia so well is an idiot. The guy murdered 30 million people thats how he industrialized so quickly. Thats communism. Suppression, repression and oppresion.

  52. This is one of the very few guys that can save American people. However pessimistically, I do not see it will happen unless the US people have suffered enough and wake up themselves. To change, it needs reform, or even revolution. It might cost lives.

  53. Like Trump Stalin had to build a wall with mine fields and machine gun posts but that was to prevent people escaping to capitalism. Course old Stalin had to invade Poland with Adolph because of that threat. He had to exterminate the Polish officer core cos they deserved it didn't they?

  54. America refused to SELL anything that might help them be successful! And did many violent things worldwide to keep all nations capitalist! See “Rogue State…” by Wm Blum.

  55. Economy and ideology are very conected indeed amongst nations,
    Hmmm if i could desolve nations sovereignty and defence,
    And have just one economy for only a specie of humanity,
    Permanent peace for our specie and our greater survival would be achieve long into time,
    And time we as a specie needs to
    Look after our planet environment
    Space program for plan B and these big plans can not be done
    By desfunctional nations but only by a specie, that is why we need to live as a specie not nations.

  56. Want to understand World War II? Just know that Capital, in the West, funded Nazi Germany.
    The USSR lobbied the Western Powers to crush the Nazis in 1937 … before they annexed Czechoslavakia. The West ignored the warnings.
    This fact refutes the assertion by liberals, conservatives and fascists that Hitler and Stalin were buddies.

  57. He's totally wrong around 23:30. That's not a capitalist model of organization. That's a statist model. Totally different.

  58. This change and revolution is far from Over.
    Revolution always has some agressivness in the meaning but Russia will go ahead with Change. there is no other way to do so
    I admire them big time for this you have no idea where the consumer society will lead you when you cant pay anymore. then it will be a bitter wake up call and we are close to it

    Chris Schmidt

  59. Dominant Minority Servant Majority has been and is order of the world.
    You name it Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Religionism. Take off, Fly and Land with any 'ism of Aircraft. Capitalist USA is landing, Communist China is Flying, Socialist India is taking off…

  60. This is extremely wrong, inaccurate, simplified at best moments. I would not recommend anyone to base their view and/or understanding of USRR based on this video. I would not expect such garbage from R. Wolf.

  61. Wow, I was gonna try to watch this. But if you're going to apologize for Stalinism as a minor effect of an innocent experiment… man, I just can't. Yeah, you said it was unfortunate. But it's completely asinine to suggest poor Stalin just made some mistakes. Because of peer pressure. Holy fuck.

  62. The lesson here is, it is ok to be communist but whore a bit for the west. Then backstab them for their greed like china did.

  63. I don’t hear any information about people killed by the government machine. How about 1937? More killed by Stalin then in the world war too. Don’t hear that all that all industries that were not created, but bought from the west! USA and Germany mostly. Too much of the amusement before Soviet Union.

  64. clear and good pace.
    No repetition No hesitation No meandering
    good pronunciation with factual information.
    Balanced perspective

  65. Hitler was not a Fascist. He was a National Socialist. They are not the same. Nazis were racist socialists. Fascists were socialists with no racial tendencies, but striving to resolve class conflict through the nation. Today, they hide behind the label of Social Democracy, as they continue the doctrine of partial nationalisation of the means of production. There were no death camps or gulags in Italy. This makes them the least malign of the three main socialist ideologies. I think Mr. Wolff likes socialism

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *