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Harvard Mafia, Andrei Shleifer and the Economic Rape of Russia

Chronicles of Harvard University Russian Economic Team Scam and Deep Corruption of Academic Economics

News Recommended books Recommended Links Casino capitalism Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Neoclassical Pseudo Theories and Crooked and Bought Economists Cargo Cult Science
Disaster capitalism Predator state Neocolonialism as Financial Imperialism IMF as the key institution for neoliberal debt enslavement Greece debt enslavement Ukraine debt enslavement Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite
Rubin Larry Summers Shleifer Jeffrey Sachs William Browder and Magnitsky Act Jonathan Hay Anders Åslund
 Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"  Systemic Fraud under Clinton-Bush-Obama Regime The Grand Chessboard Elite [Dominance] Theory And the Revolt of the Elite The Iron Law of Oligarchy Amorality and criminality of neoliberal elite Audacious Oligarchy and "Democracy for Winners"
The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Critique of neoclassical economics Is neoclassical economics a mafia Lysenkoism Deception Humor Etc
I liked it when he said, "These cases are complicated and difficult to prosecute, but if you're serious about doing them, you can." Doesn't that describe the situation perfectly? It can be done if we set our minds to it. We need to get started and make that happen.

Comment to 'inside job' (Yahoo! Finance)

Money has no motherland; financiers are without patriotism and without decency; their sole object is gain.

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

The modern power elites thrive by forgetting any regrettable past. This amnesia is easy at Harvard, where the legal fiduciaries operate in secret and need not answer for their acts. They are the antipodes of the selfless institutional servants who built Harvard and other great American enterprises, and they bear close watching.

(Harry R. Lewis Larry Summers, Robert Rubin Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country)

"It's a mafia," he says quietly...

Hip Heterodoxy by Christopher Hayes


Introduction

Under supervision of Harvard mafia  Russian economy has all but collapsed, the class of oligarchs emerged, population standard of living slided to Central African levels and its infrastructure and key assets were looted at bargain basement prices.

A interesting rogues’ gallery of international financial criminals with high academic degrees who got their education in Harvard (Harvard mafia in a broad sense) owes its existence to the dissolution of the USSR and subsequent financial crisis. The level of corruption and rent seeking behaviors of those individuals is really breathtaking. The term "mafia" is not rhetorical overshoot: they are mafia in a very precise meaning of this word: the mafia at its core is about one thing -- money (see also Russian board game Mafia). Like in a typical Mafioso family there is an ethnic core and a hierarchy, with higher-ranking members making decisions that trickle down to the other members of the family. And its policies are always about oppression, arrogance, greed, self-enrichment, power and hegemony above and against all others.

The story of Andrei Shleifer in Russia is a classic story of "academic extortion": betrayal of trust and academic principles by Harvard professor of economics (probably not without the influence of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman, longtime friend of Larry Summers). While the guy was just a pawn in a big game, the issues of criminality of economists (and some universities economics departments ;-) and relevance of RICO statute against such offences is a much bigger issue.

Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering. Those found guilty of racketeering can be fined up to $25,000 and/or sentenced to 20 years in prison per racketeering count. In addition, the racketeer must forfeit all ill-gotten gains and interest in any business gained through a pattern of "racketeering activity." RICO also permits a private individual harmed by the actions of such an enterprise to file a civil suit; if successful, the individual can collect treble damages.

... ... ...

On March 29, 1989, financier Michael Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud relating to an investigation into insider trading and other offenses. Milken was accused of using a wide-ranging network of contacts to manipulate stock and bond prices. It was one of the first occasions that a RICO indictment was brought against an individual with no ties to organized crime. Milken pled guilty to six lesser offenses rather than face spending the rest of his life in prison.

There is a disturbingly deep analogy between Harvard University (which had been benevolently charged with just breach of contract by the US government) and Michel Milken activities. Separately Shleifer and  another Harvard mafia associate, Jonathan Hay, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. As a slap on the wrist  Shleifer was stripped of honorary title "Whipple V.N. Jones Professor of Economics" due to "ethics violation", but he managed to preserve his position at the university due to Summers protection (Larry Summers A Suicidal Choice - Mark Ames).

How close were Larry Summers and Andrei Schleifer? According to former Boston Globe economics correspondent David Warsh, Summers and Schleifer “were among each other’s best friends,” and Summers taught Schleifer “as an undergraduate, sent him on to MIT for his PhD, took him along on an advisory mission to Lithuania in 1990, and in 1991, shepherded his return to Harvard as full professor, where he was regarded, after Martin Feldstein and Summers, as the leader of the next generation.”

The furor about Andrei Shleifer shadow dealings in Russia contributed to the ouster of Summers from the Harvard presidency. It also exposed sad fact that neoclassic economics represents a dangerous sect which if not exactly mafia is pretty much borderline phenomenon. Somewhat similar with Lysenkoism

Academic Mafiosi as a Social Class

The cynical view is that "Rape of Russia" was a Mafiosi style operation, which was conducted using s Trojan horses special class of Mafiosi, academic economics. This might well have been the intent (in best "disaster capitalism" style of thinking). Instead of helping post-Soviet nations develop self-reliant economies, writes Marshall Auerback,

“the West has viewed them as economic oysters to be broken up to indebt them in order to extract interest charges and capital gains, leaving them empty shells.”

Corruption and local oligarchy were natural allies of this process which was, in essence, the process of Latin-Americanization of post Soviet space. And off-shore safe heavens were the tool. They partially failed in Russia as some of the most notorious deals of this periods (especially in mineral recourses and oil areas) were reversed in 2000-2008, but were quite successful in Ukraine, Georgia, Latvia and several other post Soviet republics. The external debt of those is just staggering. As Professor Michael Hudson noted:

It may be time to look once again at what Larry Summers and his Rubinomics gang did in Russia in the mid-1990s and to Third World countries during his tenure as World Bank economist to see what kind of future is being planned for the U.S. economy over the next few years.

Throughout the Soviet Union the neoliberal model established “equilibrium” in a way that involved demographic collapse: shortening life spans, lower birth rates, alcoholism and drug abuse, psychological depression, suicides, bad health, unemployment and homelessness for the elderly (the neoliberal mode of Social Security reform).

Here is one apt comment about the real nature of economic professors from Harvard and other nice places from the comments to post Economists Fall Back Into Neoclassical Stupor …( naked capitalism. January 18, 2011):

Hugh:

I echo lambert’s and scraping by’s sentiments. The economics profession is not about an analysis of our economy that can make reasonable predictions about it. Economics and economists are enablers of the con and validators of kleptocracy. They say the many must make do with less and do not say that the result of this policy will be the few will have more.

These are not innocent, unworldly types tied to outdated and obsolete ideas. They are abettors and apologists for the greatest economic crimes in human history. We should call and treat them for what they are: criminals. Kleptocracy is not a some time thing. It is not a label you apply occasionally. Kleptocracy is a system. The looters can’t function without corrupt politicians, a complacent propagandizing media, or complicit enabling academics. With kleptocracy, there is no middle ground. You either stand with the looters or their victims. I think this is the critical choice we all must make.

Another pretty telling quote ( from brilliant satire Blacklisted Economics Professor Found Dead NC Publishes His Last Letter « naked capitalism):

Q: Is it really plausible that economists threaten top banks that in the absence of some kind of payoff, they will change the theories they teach in a direction that is less favorable to the banks?

A: There are certainly cases in history of the following sequence:

a. Economist E espouses views that are less favorable to certain special interest groups S. Doing so threatens the ability of S to extract rent from the public.
b. Later, E changes his view, thereby withdrawing the prior threat.
c. Still later, E is paid large amounts of money by representatives of S in exchange for services that do not appear particularly onerous.

For example, let E = Larry Summers and let S = the financial services industry. In 1989 E was (a) a supporter of the Tobin tax, which threatened to reduce the rent extracted by S. This threat was apparently later withdrawn (b), and in 2008 E was paid $5.2 million (c) in exchange for working at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw (an element of S) for one day a week.

However, it is naturally more difficult to witness the negotiations in which specific threats were appeased with specific future payouts. This is a problem that also bedevils Public Choice theory, in which it is likewise difficult to show exactly how a particular politician is remunerated in exchange for threatening businesses with anti-business legislation. The theory assures us that such negotiations occur, although they are difficult to observe directly. Perhaps further theoretical advances will help us to close this gap.

Q: Isn’t it offensive to assume that economists, for motives of personal gain, shade their theoretical allegiances in the directions preferred by powerful interest groups?

A: How could it ever be offensive to assume that a person acts rationally in pursuit of maximizing his or her own utility? I’m afraid I don’t understand this question.

Academic Mafiosi as Byproduct and Simultaneously Enablers of Neoliberalism

Disappearance of a formidable opponent of unrestricted looting of developing countries that USSR formally represented on the the world scene essentially released all moral stops and considerations both inside the USA and outside. The triumph of neoliberalism

And former USSR republics were the first victims of new super-aggressive neoliberal "new normal". Despite crocodile tears about corruption, our world is being reshaped, in sinister fashion, by wide open capital markets and an international banking network that exists to launder hundreds of billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains stolen by government officials and oligarchs in "weaker" countries. In other words, corruption is an immanent feature and principal tool of neoliberalism in developing countries and xUSSR area.

Under pretext of showing the Russians how to convert command type economy to neoliberal model, and how to controls corruption, the gang-style rape of the country was inflicted on its unsuspecting citizens with poverty raising from 2% to 40% of the population. World have witnessed Russia losing half of its total output, plunging it into a depression deeper than the U.S. Great Depression. Please read Anne Williamson’s testimony. Here is one quote:

From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others’ scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity – not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people – their abilities, efforts and dreams – which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet – on the Russian people – and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.

The collapse of the USSR was by-and-large caused by internal problems and betrayal of nomenklatura which quickly understood that new neoliberal regime is more profitable for them that command-style economy (although role of financed by West wave of nationalism and West imposed technological isolation should not be underestimated). BTW this myth that Reagan administration won the Cold War is still current.

Economic rape of post USSR economic space was by design not by accident

After the dissolution of the USA, there was a vacuum of ideology in Russia and it was successfully filled with Harvard promoted neoliberalism and associated neo-classical economics. This was a powerful fifths column, oriented on helping the West to extract as much wealth from Russia as possible was created. The USA essentially forced Russians into so called shock therapy using Harvard academic mafia (plan was authored by Jeffrey Sachs who was lecturer at Harvard and implemented by Larry Summers protégé, Russian émigré Shleifer and several other Harvard academic brats with a couple of British poodles to make the gang international) and internal compradors in Yelstin government as fifth column. As a result poverty level jumped from 2% to 40%. Everything that can be stolen, was stolen by implementation of rapid privatization policy. During the heydays of corrupt Yeltsin regime implementation of shock therapy GDP dropped 50%. Suicide rate doubled, life expectancy for males dropped below 60 years (12,8% death rate increase), homeless children which were unknown in the USSR became mass feature of new social order.

The key seller of shock therapy was about Harvard Mafiosi, Professor Jeffrey Sachs who was a prominent neoliberal who because his role in destruction of Russian economics, contributed to immense sufferings in Bolivia, Chili, Poland and several other countries.

Instead of something like Marshall plan, a merciless ands unlawful grab of capital and national resources was successfully implemented in less then five year period after the dissolution. This was an amazingly greedy and short-sited policy by Clinton administration. To rephrase Talleyrand, it was worse then a crime, it was a blunder. As Otto von Bismarck advised long ago:

Do not expect that once taken advantage of Russia's weakness, you will receive dividends forever. Russian always come for their money. And when they come - do not rely on the Jesuit agreement you signed, you are supposed to justify. They are not worth the paper it is written. Therefore, with the Russian stands or play fair, or no play.

Let's hope that the USA will be protected by Providence from the consequences of this blunder because as Otto von Bismarck suggested "There is a providence to that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America". Otherwise, the level of anger felt by wide strata of Russian people (almost everybody outside of fifth column) can materialize into something really tragic. In Russian history, a generation that has taken a beating is often followed by a generation that deals one. In a way Putin is already a certain punishment, but the possibility of coming to power a real Russian nationalist instead of "resource nationalist" is not out the realm of possibilities ;-)

There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/o/otto_von_bismarck.html#qr2ARypLke5VpwQb.99

Now Professor Jeffrey Sachs repainted himself from a sharky promoted of "shock therapy" into the Director of The Earth Institute, Quetelet Professor of Sustainable Development, and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. Here is an apt comment about this member of Harvard mafia ( NYT, 2009)

Arsen Azizyan

I grew up cold and hungry in the former Soviet republic of Armenia during the shock therapy years of the 90′s; my grandfather was one of the 3 million who died prematurely during those days (incorrect medication and power outages did him in).

I would very much like to tie Mr. Jeffrey Sachs to a chair and slowly force-feed him every worthless page of every idiotic policy paper he’s ever written. I believe that would justly mirror the diet that I had to subsist on for a number of years during my childhood and adolescence.

He still insists that Yeltsin, rather than his American advisors, was responsible for the fact that the privatization policy amounted in practice to the theft by a handful of favored apparatchiks of the industries previously ran – in its own inimitably corrupt fashion – by the state. As former World Bank economist David Ellerman noted it was the speed of the privatization which made such an outcome inevitable stating that

“Only the mixture of American triumphalism and academic arrogance could have produced such a lethal dose of gall.”

Janine R. Wedel in The Harvard Boys Do Russia (The Nation, May 14, 1998) wrote the following about extremely damaging for the USA (in a long run) and Russia (forever) policies Harvard mafia pursued:

"After seven years of economic "reform" financed by billions of dollars in U.S. and other Western aid, subsidized loans and rescheduled debt, the majority of Russian people find themselves worse off economically. The privatization drive that was supposed to reap the fruits of the free market instead helped to create a system of tycoon capitalism run for the benefit of a corrupt political oligarchy that has appropriated hundreds of millions of dollars of Western aid and plundered Russia's wealth. The architect of privatization was former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments. Chubais's drastic and corrupt stewardship made him extremely unpopular. According to The New York Times, he "may be the most despised man in Russia." Essential to the implementation of Chubais's policies was the enthusiastic support of the Clinton Administration and its key representative for economic assistance in Moscow, the Harvard Institute for International Development. Using the prestige of Harvard's name and connections in the Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved. With this access and their close alliance with Chubais and his circle, they allegedly profited on the side. Yet few Americans are aware of H.I.I.D.'s role in Russian privatization, and its suspected misuse of taxpayers' funds.

At the recent U.S.-Russian Investment Symposium at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, Yuri Luzhkov, the Mayor of Moscow, made what might have seemed to many an impolite reference to his hosts. After castigating Chubais and his monetarist policies, Luzhkov, according to a report of the event, "singled out Harvard for the harm inflicted on the Russian economy by its advisers, who encouraged Chubais's misguided approach to privatization and monetarism." Luzhkov was referring to H.I.I.D. Chubais, who was delegated vast powers over the economy by Boris Yeltsin, was ousted in Yeltsin's March purge, but in May he was given an immensely lucrative post as head of Unified Energy System, the country's electricity monopoly.

Some of the main actors with Harvard's Russia project have yet to face a reckoning, but this may change if a current investigation by the U.S. government results in prosecutions. The activities of H.I.I.D. in Russia provide some cautionary lessons on abuse of trust by supposedly disinterested foreign advisers, on U.S. arrogance and on the entire policy of support for a single Russian group of so-called reformers. The H.I.I.D. story is a familiar one in the ongoing saga of U.S. foreign policy disasters created by those said to be our "best and brightest." Through the late summer and fall of 1991, as the Soviet state fell apart, Harvard Professor Jeffrey Sachs and other Western economists participated in meetings at a dacha outside Moscow where young, pro-Yeltsin reformers planned Russia's economic and political future. Sachs teamed up with Yegor Gaidar, Yeltsin's first architect of economic reform, to promote a plan of "shock therapy" to swiftly eliminate most of the price controls and subsidies that had underpinned life for Soviet citizens for decades. Shock therapy produced more shock--not least, hyperinflation that hit 2,500 percent--than therapy.

One result was the evaporation of much potential investment capital: the substantial savings of Russians. By November 1992, Gaidar was under attack for his failed policies and was soon pushed aside ...

I.I.D. had supporters high in the Administration. One was Lawrence Summers, himself a former Harvard economics professor, whom Clinton named Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs in 1993. Summers, now Deputy Treasury Secretary, had longstanding ties to the principals of Harvard's project in Russia and its later project in Ukraine. Summers hired a Harvard Ph.D., David Lipton (who had been vice president of Jeffrey D. Sachs and Associates, a consulting firm), to be Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. After Summers was promoted to Deputy Secretary, Lipton moved into Summers's old job, assuming "broad responsibility" for all aspects of international economic policy development. Lipton co-wrote numerous papers with Sachs and served with him on consulting missions in Poland and Russia. "Jeff and David always came [to Russia] together," said a Russian representative at the International Monetary Fund. "They were like an inseparable couple." Sachs, who was named director of H.I.I.D. in 1995, lobbied for and received U.S.A.I.D. grants for the institute to work in Ukraine in 1996 and 1997 ...

Andrei Shleifer, a Russian-born emigre and already a tenured professor of economics at Harvard in his early 30s, became director of H.I.I.D.'s Russia project. Shleifer was also a protege of Summers, with whom he received at least one foundation grant ...

Another Harvard player was a former World Bank consultant named Jonathan Hay, a Rhodes scholar who had attended Moscow's Pushkin Institute for Russian Language. In 1991, while still at Harvard Law School, he had become a senior legal adviser to the G.K.I., the Russian state's new privatization committee; the following year he was made H.I.I.D.'s general director in Moscow. The youthful Hay assumed vast powers over contractors, policies and program specifics; he not only controlled access to the Chubais circle but served as its mouthpiece ...

With help from his H.I.I.D. advisers and other Westerners, Chubais and his cronies set up a network of aid-funded "private" organizations that enabled them to bypass legitimate government agencies and circumvent the new parliament of the Russian Federation, the Duma.

Through this network, two of Chubais's associates, Maxim Boycko (who co-wrote Privatizing Russia with Shleifer) and Dmitry Vasiliev, oversaw almost a third of a billion dollars in aid money and millions more in loans from international financial institutions ...

The device of setting up private organizations backed by the power of the Yeltsin government and maintaining close ties to H.I.I.D. was a way of insuring deniability. Shleifer, Hay and other Harvard principals, all U.S. citizens, were "Russian" when convenient. Hay, for example, served alternately and sometimes simultaneously as aid contractor, manager of other contractors and representative of the Russian government ... Against the backdrop of Russia's Klondike capitalism, which they were helping create and Chubais and his team were supposedly regulating, the H.I.I.D. advisers exploited their intimate ties with Chubais and the government and were allegedly able to conduct business activities for their own enrichment. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Hay used his influence, as well as U.S.A.I.D.-financed resources, to help his girlfriend, Elizabeth Hebert, set up a mutual fund, Pallada Asset Management, in Russia ... After Pallada was set up, Hebert, Hay, Shleifer and Vasiliev looked for ways to continue their activities as aid funds dwindled. Using I.L.B.E. resources and funding, they established a private consulting firm with taxpayer money. One of the firm's first clients was Shleifer's wife, Nancy Zimmerman, who operated a Boston-based hedge fund that traded heavily in Russian bonds.

According to Russian registration documents, Zimmerman's company set up a Russian firm with Sergei Shishkin, the I.L.B.E. chief, as general director. Corporate documents on file in Moscow showed that the address and phone number of the company and the I.L.B.E. were the same. Then there is the First Russian Specialized Depository, which holds the records and assets of mutual fund investors. This institution, funded by a World Bank loan, also worked to the benefit of Hay, Vasiliev, Hebert and another associate, Julia Zagachin. According to sources close to the U.S. government's investigation, Zagachin, an American married to a Russian, was selected to run the depository even though she lacked the required capital ...

Anne Williamson, a journalist who specializes in Soviet and Russian affairs, details these and other conflicts of interest between H.I.I.D.'s advisers and their supposed clients--the Russian people--in her forthcoming book, How America Built the New Russian Oligarchy. For example, in 1995, in Chubais-organized insider auctions of prime national properties, known as loans-for-shares, the Harvard Management Company (H.M.C.), which invests the university's endowment, and billionaire speculator George Soros were the only foreign entities allowed to participate. H.M.C. and Soros became significant shareholders in Novolipetsk, Russia's second-largest steel mill, and Sidanko Oil, whose reserves exceed those of Mobil. H.M.C. and Soros also invested in Russia's high-yielding, I.M.F.-subsidized domestic bond market.

Even more dubious, according to Williamson, was Soros's July 1997 purchase of 24 percent of Sviazinvest, the telecommunications giant, in partnership with Uneximbank's Vladimir Potanin. It was later learned that shortly before this purchase Soros had tided over Yeltsin's government with a backdoor loan of hundreds of millions of dollars while the government was awaiting proceeds of a Eurobond issue; the loan now appears to have been used by Uneximbank to purchase Norilsk Nickel in August 1997. According to Williamson, the U.S. assistance program in Russia was rife with such conflicts of interest involving H.I.I.D. advisers and their U.S.A.I.D.-funded Chubais allies, H.M.C. managers, favored Russian bankers, Soros and insider expatriates working in Russia's nascent markets ...

Despite exposure of this corruption in the Russian media (and, far more hesitantly, in the U.S. media), the H.I.I.D.-Chubais clique remained until recently the major instrument of U.S. economic aid policy to Russia. It even used the high-level Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission, which helped orchestrate the cooperation of U.S.-Russian oil deals and the Mir space station. The commission's now-defunct Capital Markets Forum was chaired on the Russian side by Chubais and Vasiliev, and on the U.S. side by S.E.C. chairman Arthur Levitt Jr. and Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Andrei Shleifer was named special coordinator to all four of the Capital Markets Forum's working subgroups. Hebert, Hay's girlfriend, served on two of the subgroups, as did the C.E.O.s of Salomon Brothers, Merrill Lynch and other powerful Wall Street investment houses. When The Nation contacted the S.E.C. for information about Capital Markets, we were told to call Shleifer for comment. Shleifer, who is under investigation by U.S.A.I.D.'s inspector general for misuse of funds, declined to be interviewed for this article. A U.S. Treasury spokesman said Shleifer and Hebert were appointed to Capital Markets by the Chubais group--specifically, according to other sources, by Dmitry Vasiliev."

Several problems with Harvard academic advisors behavior during Russian privatization program were outlined by Adil Rustomjee (Yale University) in the letter to Johnson’s Russia List :

From: Arustomjee@aol.com (Adil Rustomjee)
Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 13:18:14 EDT
Subject: Role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.

From: Adil Rustomjee, Yale University, 135 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511
Email: adil.rustomjee@yale.edu

Dear David,

Many thanks for your superb news service. Johnson's Russia List is fast becoming an excellent resource for those who work, who have worked on, or who just share a fascination with that disturbing country. I am writing this letter to humbly suggest a research topic that should be of great interest to JRLs readers. It is a subject that deserves better treatment than that received to date. The topic itself is the exact role of foreign advisers in the Russian Privatization Program.

It is a marvelous tale waiting to be plainly told. The Russian Privatization Program, despite its subsequent vilification, ranks as one of the great experiments at social engineering in the twentieth century. It attempted an authoritative allocation of property rights - and consequently of power - within society on a scale never attempted before. It is therefore a very significant historical process, more significant in the long reach of events than even Stalin's collectivization campaigns of the 1930s. It deserves its own Robert Conquest.

The process itself went through two distinct phases - the voucher phase, and what for want of a better word, we call the "loans for shares" phase. It is the "loans for shares" phase of the program that has attracted the most attention, primarily because of its spectacular abuse by Russia's oligarchs. The real story is in the first voucher stage of the process and the dubious principles it was based on.

The entire voucher program was a product of foreign economic advice. Consider the basic timeline. The Soviet Union itself was dissolved in December 1991. In June 1992, the crucial document governing the voucher privatization effort came out - the State Privatization Program. This seminal document outlined the basic concepts behind the voucher phase of the program. It also rationalized what became a state sponsored giveaway of Russia's national patrimony to the country's managers. The implementation of the State Privatization Program document took a little over two years. By June 1994, Anatoly Chubias , Russia's privatization chief, was announcing the end of the voucher program. In a scant two years, Russia had gone from a communist country with no private sector, to a country with a private sector - that on paper at least - was larger than Italy's !!! Such progress could never have been possible without substantial foreign economic advice. It is a commonplace that privatization is essentially a "learning by doing" process.

Russia could never have gone through a learning curve in such a short time span. Its reformers basically rubberstamped a scheme conceived by Western economists in the crucial 6 month period between December 1991 and June 1992.

Yet despite this, the precise story of the economists behind the entire effort has not been told. Good attempts have been made by Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson - and I will discuss them later - but from a technical standpoint, the story has yet to be told well.

Who were these advisors and what did they achieve? Three groups of actors may be identified - academic economists, bureaucrats from the World Bank, and Western consulting firms. A close examination of the interaction between these three groups itself will offer interesting insights into the birth and dissemination of ideas. For the major ideas behind the Russian program came from a group of academics - many associated with Harvard. These ideas were picked up in the early years and became established "transition economics" orthodoxy at the World Bank. The substantial implementation of the basic ideas was carried out by consulting firms like the Big Six working (often) on USAID contracts.

This is as it should be. Academia is usually the source of the most original thinking on economics. International bureaucrats - particularly those associated with the World Bank - are surprisingly timid and cautious people. They are institutionally incapable of boldness - and great audacity was called for in the Russia of 1992.

Was this boldness misplaced? I believe it was. A rational examination of the process will, I suspect, lead to a damning indictment of Russia's foreign advisors. They created desolation and called it reform. The defining feature of the program was based on remarkably dubious ideas. Foremost among these was the belief that privatization was a series of payoffs - or bribes, as one of its leading advocates, Harvard's Andrei Shleifer, called it - to various " stakeholders" in the program. Given an uncertain legal environment and some
appropriation of state assets by these stakeholders, - euphemistically referred to as "spontaneous privatization" - , better to legalize what was believed to be a trough feeding frenzy. This was the program's dominant idea.

There is little empirical evidence from the early years about the exact extent of " spontaneous privatization". Anecdotal evidence abounds, especially from many near - hysterical accounts of the early 90s but the actual empirical evidence is slender. The decisions to sell a great nation's patrimony - a one shot historical phenomenon with irreversible long range implications - were basically conceived within a six month time frame by a bunch of frightened foreigners, using dubious assumptions, with little basis in empirical understanding. Astonishing.

The actual privatization was accomplished through basically giving away large segments of Russian assets - and consequently cash flows - to these stakeholders. The most notable insider stakeholders - the managers - ended up the biggest winners. They ended up owning most of Russian industry. This august group, more often than not, makes the Marx Brothers seem like models of German efficiency. For a variety of reasons, insider-owned firms are very inefficient, and indeed a long list of papers from the Bank - Fund complex testifies to this. Consequently, Russia is today reaping the whirlwind of its privatization policy. The long delayed supply-side response of the economy, that is supposed to be led by these insider-owned firms, simply refuses to happen.

To round out this stupidity ( and to make it theoretically neater), the advisors had to deal with the problem of insider ownership. They dealt with it in time honored economist fashion - they assumed it away. This was done by trotting out that most venerable of economic propositions - something called the Coase Theorem. In a series of seminal papers written at Chicago in the thirties, Ronald Coase reached a blindingly obvious conclusion on property rights. He proved that the initial allocation - or misallocation - of property rights would not matter as long as those rights could be traded till they found their highest valued end use. In other words, the advisors told the Russians, "Sure, we're making second-best or third-best policy choices on privatization , but hey guys, it doesn't matter. Through the magic of Coase, even if we misallocated the rights, they'll trade up to their highest valued end user, and we'll all live happily ever after ". Consequently, nothing mattered except getting the assets away from the government (depoliticization) and into the "private sector", thereby allowing
the Coase Theorem to work its magic.

The Russians believed this nonsense. The problems with using Coase as a rationale were commonsensical : too much monopoly power in the Russian economy and the fact that Coase himself never had anything remotely resembling Russia in mind, when he formulated the theorem. More crucially, capital markets which would be needed to trade property rights to their highest valued end use, were nonexistent or nascent, and continue to be so. One marvels at the Russians' own capacity for advice of this nature. My comfort is philosophical : It has often been said of the Russians, that they exhibit in extreme form, certain universal characteristics of the human condition.

Perhaps this tendency to extremes applies to their propensity for social engineering too.

In response to critiques of their advice, the foreign advisors resort to a "burden of proof " defense. In other words, they say, " What a pity it's a mess and had to be this way, but you'll have to prove it could have been otherwise". It is this "proving otherwise" that is a key issue. " Proving otherwise" would require a person with substantial economic expertise. Unfortunately most of the critiques of the advisors in Russia have come from people outside the economics community, which on Russia is quite tight knit.

Janine Wedel and Anne Williamson have made good first attempts . But given the enormity of the catastrophe in Russia that the advice has wrought, the definitive account will have to be from a person with some economic stature.

Who were these people anyway ? They include, Wedel and Williamson point out, Andrei Shleifer a Harvard economics professor, Jonathan Hay a freshly minted Harvard Law graduate, and Makim Boycko who was their man in Moscow. Shleifer, a Russian emigrant who remains a tenured professor at Harvard, must have possessed the great advantage of speaking native Russian. In December 1991, Shleifer on a World Bank consultancy authored a paper titled Privatization in Russia - First Steps. It is, I believe, the first systematic attempt at outlining the program's defining feature - privatization as a series of payoffs (or bribes as he called it) to key stakeholders in the process.

Later explications of the basic idea may be found in articles he co-authored with Robert Vishny on the process. Both the unpublished document and later articles remarkably parallel the basic philosophy of the State Privatization Program of June 1992.

A sense of moral outrage over the effects of their policies - while a great temptation - has to be avoided at all costs. This is especially difficult when one considers that the principal protagonists - Andrei Shleifer and Jonathan Hay - are under investigation for alleged insider trading and conflicts of interest in Russia. [ GAO and USAID having found that they "abused the trust of the US government " etc ]. The temptation might therefore be to focus on that entire shabby episode as Wedel and Williamson have done ( in part, but only in part). There is no need for this. The charges are unproven. Besides the amounts Shleifer and Hay are accused of improperly dealing in, are a pittance, compared to the wholesale thievery their ideas sanctioned. The real story is in the voucher scheme they designed and implemented. Told coldly, rationally, and solely concerned with the truth, it will still be a great story. Behind the story after all, loom the long shadows of the millions of Russians whose lives were effected by these disastrous policies. They deserve the truth.

Will the story be told with integrity. I am afraid not. There are too many reputations and too much credibility at stake. The usual candidate would be someone of stature in academia. This is not really an option. The old Kremlinologists have been largely rendered irrelevant by the pace of events and are struggling to retool themselves. The younger economists who work on Russia, who have access to the data and hands-on experience, are the least likely candidates given the devastating outcomes of the policies they advocated. Self serving rationalizations with little intellectual integrity are all that can be expected from this group. Witness for example, Anders Aslunds' comic absurdity "How Russia became a Market Economy". If Russia is a market economy, then I, sir, am a monkey's uncle -- Finally it would be too much to expect the protagonists themselves - Shleifer and his collaborators - to say " We were wrong, terribly wrong". An old man named Robert McNamara looking back on his life, said that about a war that ended twenty five years back, and look at the condemnation that brought him. It would be too much to expect Shleifer and the others - all reportedly in their late thirties and early forties - to make such an admission.

The World Bank is another candidate, but they will distort the tale. The Bank's division that does such studies - the Operations Evaluation Department - will use the standard bureaucratic boiler plate it excels at. Besides the Bank itself picked up the substantial ideas and policies from the Harvard group, and has its own credibility at stake. While some hand wringing can be expected, so can a less than zealous concern for the truth. Besides, even if it is honest, the drama of the story will be lost in the telling.

... ... ...

The reasons of such a behavior by Andrei Shleifer and other players "on the ground" probably run deeper. As Stefan Lemieszewski noted in his letter to Johnson's Russia List:

The failure of these IMF/World Bank/State/Treasury programs should not come as a surprise. Economists such as Michel Chossudovsky (University of Ottawa) go further and suggest that they are by design. In his book, "The Globalization of Poverty: Impacts of IMF and World Bank Reforms" Chossudovsky writes:

"The IMF-Yeltsin reforms constitute an instrument of "Thirdworldisation"; they are a carbon copy of the structural adjustment programme imposed on debtor countries in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa. Harvard economist Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to the Russian government, had applied in Russia the same 'macro-economic surgery' as in Bolivia where he was economic advisor to the MNR government in 1985.

The IMF-World Bank programme adopted in the name of democracy constitutes a coherent programme of impoverishment of large sectors of the population.

It was designed (in theory) to 'stabilize' the economy, yet consumer prices in 1992 increased by more than one hundred times (9,900 per cent) as a direct result of the "anti-inflationary programme". As in Third World 'stabilization programme', the inflationary process was largely engineered through the 'dollarization' of domestic prices and the collapse of the national currency. The 'price liberalization programme' did not, however, resolve (as proposed by the IMF) the distorted structure of relative prices which existed under the Soviet system."

In Ukraine and some other republics the magnitude of collapse was even greater and all middle class was essentially wiped out. Many emigrated. Also a lot of assets were simply stolen by western companies for cents on the dollar (disaster capitalism in action; some of most blatant cases were reversed under Putin, but not much). Bush II administration was busy with reelections and Clinton administration never viewed Russia as a partner only as a body on the ground to kick with a boot with impunity. As President Richard Nixon pointed out a major aid package could stop the economic free fall and help anchor Russia in the West for years to come.

In this respect the Clinton administration’s greatest failure was its decision to take advantage of Russia’s weakness. And the fact that they used puppets like Jeffrey Sachs to take advantage of the Russia situation produced a long term damage to the US strategic interests in the region. Here is a relevant quote from Foreign Affairs article “Losing Russia”:

BEHIND THE facade of friendship, Clinton administration officials expected the Kremlin to accept the United States’ definition of Russia’s national interests. They believed that Moscow’s preferences could be safely ignored if they did not align with Washington’s goals. Russia had a ruined economy and a collapsing military, and it acted like a defeated country in many ways. Unlike other European colonial empires that had withdrawn from former possessions, Moscow made no effort to negotiate for the protection of its economic and security interests in Eastern Europe or the former Soviet states on its way out. Inside Russia, meanwhile, Yeltsin’s radical reformers often welcomed IMF and U.S. pressure as justification for the harsh and hugely unpopular monetary policies they had advocated on their own.

Soon, however, even Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev–known in Russia as Mr. Yes for accommodating the West–became frustrated with the Clinton administration’s tough love. As he told Talbott, who served as ambassador at large to the newly independent states from 1993 to 1994, “It’s bad enough having you people tell us what you’re going to do whether we like it or not. Don’t add insult to injury by also telling us that it’s in our interests to obey your orders.”

But such pleas fell on deaf ears in Washington, where this arrogant approach was becoming increasingly popular. Talbott and his aides referred to it as the spinach treatment: a paternalistic Uncle Sam fed Russian leaders policies that Washington deemed healthy, no matter how unappetizing these policies seemed in Moscow.

As Talbott adviser Victoria Nuland put it, “The more you tell them it’s good for them, the more they gag.” By sending the message that Russia should not have an independent foreign policy — or even an independent domestic one — the Clinton administration generated much resentment. This neocolonial approach went hand in hand with IMF recommendations that most economists now agree were ill suited to Russia and so painful for the population that they could never have been implemented democratically. However, Yeltsin’s radical reformers were only too happy to impose them without popular consent.

Here is the Shleifer part of the story although it is important to realize that he was just a puppet, low level criminal (No. 6 card or "shesterka" : lowest member of a gang in Russian slang) in the biggest looting of the century, looting that exceeds performed by Hitler armies in 40th. (Harry R. Lewis Larry Summers, Robert Rubin Will The Harvard Shadow Elite Bankrupt The University And The Country):

In 1992, Andrei Shleifer, a Harvard professor and a close friend of Summers since Shleifer's college days at Harvard, became head of a Harvard project that directed U.S. government money for the development of the Russian economy. Tens of millions of dollars in noncompetitive U.S. contracts flowed to Harvard for Shleifer's Russian work, and his team directed the distribution of hundreds of millions more. Through the mid-1990s, complaints accumulated in Washington about self-dealing and improper investing by the Harvard team, and by mid-1997, the Harvard contracts had been canceled and the FBI had taken up the case. For two years it was before a federal grand jury.

In September, 2000, the government sued Harvard, Shleifer, and others, claiming that Shleifer was lining his own pockets and those of his wife, hedge fund manager Nancy Zimmerman -- formerly a vice president at Goldman Sachs under Rubin.

Soon after, when Summers became a candidate for the Harvard presidency, Shleifer lobbied hard for him in Cambridge. Rubin assured the Fellows that the abrasiveness Summers had exhibited at Treasury was a thing of the past. They named him president--in spite of what was already known about his enabling role in the malodorous Russian affair, and the implausibility of a personality metamorphosis.

Summers did not recluse himself from the lawsuit until more than three months after his selection as president, and even then used his influence to protect Shleifer. The Fellows--including Rubin, whom Summers added to the Corporation--fought the case for years, spending upwards of $10M on lawyers. But in 2005 a federal judge found Shleifer to have conspired to defraud the government and held Harvard liable as well. To settle the civil claims, Shleifer paid the government $2M and Harvard paid $26.5M; Zimmerman's company had already paid $1.5M. Shleifer denied all wrongdoing, and Harvard disclosed nothing about any response of its own--a departure from its handling of misconduct by faculty farther from the center of power.

Summers remained close to Shleifer, yet claimed in a February 2006 faculty meeting to know too little about the scandal to have formed an opinion about it. This prevarication brought a gasp from the assembled faculty and solidified faculty opposition to the Summers presidency.

Rubin is now gone from his leadership role and his board membership at Citigroup, hauling away $126M from a firm that was $65B poorer than when he joined it, with 75,000 fewer jobs. But he remains on the Harvard board, in spite of the financial meltdowns at both Citigroup and Harvard and his poor oversight of the problematic president he persuaded Harvard to hire.

The Rubin network remains alive and well in the White House, including not just Summers but several other Rubin protégés. Among the strangest of these power loops is that the well-connected Nancy Zimmerman has turned up as a member of Summers's economic policy brain trust.

It's pretty funny that in 1993 Andrei Shleifer co-authored a paper about corruption":

Abstract

This paper presents two propositions about corruption. First, the structure of government institutions and of the political process are very important determinants of the level of corruption. In particular, weak governments that do not control their agencies experience very high corruption levels. Second, the illegality of corruption and the need for secrecy make it much more distortionary and costly than its sister activity, taxation. These results may explain why, in some less developed countries, corruption is so high and so costly to development.

Copyright 1993, the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Compare this paper with the assessment of his own behavior in the article "On Post-Modern Corruption"(Economic Principals):

It is against this background that a seemingly unrelated matter, the Andrei Shleifer case, should be considered. Readers are all too familiar with the details of how a 31-year-old Russian expatriate, swiftly risen to eminence as a Harvard University economics professor, was put in charge in 1992 of a huge US government-financed, Harvard-administered mission to advise the Russian government of Boris Yeltsin on how to establish a market economy of their own -- until he was discovered in 1996 to be lining his own pockets, and those of his wife, his deputy and the deputy's girlfriend. At that point the mission collapsed.

Four years later, the US Attorney in Boston sued. Four years after that, Shleifer was found to have committed fraud and Harvard University to have breached its contract. Each was ordered to repay the government.

Perhaps the Shleifer story is no big deal, and not the symbol of post-modern corruption having spread to universities that I think it is. Yet there are similarities to the Congressional situation, I believe. The case against Shleifer case was a civil complaint, not a criminal charge. Cunningham was elected, Shleifer was hired. Each helped himself to some good old-fashioned graft, and each was found by a court to have done (in the words of the San Diego prosecutor) "the worst thing an Éofficial can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there."

And just as the tactics of the House leadership are more alarming than the conduct of the lowly Cunningham, so the determination of Harvard's administrators to defend Shleifer for nine long years is more astounding than what Shleifer actually did. He was young and inexperienced. They had all the advice and time in the world. His culpability has been established. Theirs has barely been addressed.

Here is some information about the events form Wikipedia article Andrei Shleifer:

Controversy

Under the False Claims Act, the US government sued Harvard, Shleifer, Shleifer's wife, Shleifer's assistant Jonathan Hay, and Hay's girlfriend (now his wife) Elizabeth Hebert, because these individuals bought Russian stocks and GKOs while they were working on the country's privatization, which potentially contravened Harvard's contract with USAID. In 2001, a federal judge dismissed all charges against Zimmerman and Hebert.[4] In June 2004, a federal judge ruled that Harvard had violated the contract but was not liable for treble damages, but that Shleifer and Hay might be held liable for treble damages (up to $105 million) if found guilty by a jury [2].

In June 2005, Harvard and Shleifer announced that they had reached a tentative settlement with the US government. On August 3 of the same year, Harvard University, Shleifer and the Justice department reached an agreement under which the university paid $26.5 million to settle the five-year-old lawsuit. Shleifer was also responsible for paying $2 million dollars worth of damages, though he did not admit any wrong doing. A firm owned by his wife previously had paid $1.5 million in an out of court settlement.

Because Harvard University paid most of the damages and allowed Shleifer to retain his faculty position, the settlement provoked allegations of favoritism on the part of Harvard's outgoing president Lawrence Summers, who is Shleifer's close friend and mentor. Shleifer's conduct was reviewed by Harvard's internal ethics committee. In October 2006, at the close of that review, Shleifer released a statement making it clear that he remains on Harvard's faculty. However, according to the Boston Globe, he has been stripped of his honorary title of Whipple V. N. Jones Professor of Economics[3].

Shleifer's involvement in Russia was investigated by David McClintick, a Harvard alumnus and journalist for Institutional Investor Magazine. His 30-page January 2006 article claims to show that "economics professor Andrei Shleifer, in the mid-1990s, led a Harvard advisory program in Russia that collapsed in disgrace." The article drew considerable criticism among Shleifer's colleagues, collaborators, close friends, and students. According to the Harvard Crimson[4], the university's daily newspaper, Shleifer's colleague and economics professor Edward Glaeser said that the Institutional Investor article "is a potent piece of hate creation—not quite 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,' but it's in that camp." But Glaeser later apologized for his statement[5].

Larry Summers was not only defender but also the handler of Andrei Shleifer

Prominent role of Larry Summers in Andrei Shleifer affair shed very negative light on this very controversial figure. Positioning him as a key figured in Clinton administration intended to destroy the xUSSR republic economies, especially economics of Russia. And that role perfectly alight with his general political role in Clinton administration and after that. The role of enforcer of neoliberal social order. Role of Larry Summers in adopting "shock therapy" and Yeltsin privatization of state assets still needs to be investigated. But it is perfectly consistent with his track record. Among key "mis-achievements" of Bubble Boy Larry:

Opium for the masses: Neoclassical economics role under neoliberalism as equivalent of the role of Catholic Church under feudalism

Some use the term “neo-feudalism” to characterize operation of the USA and "friends" in xUSSR space but they are essentially neocolonialism. When open brutal used of military force for conquering nations was substitutes by financial instruments. But neoliberalism definitely use neo-feudal methods, and that includes usage of neoclassic economics in the USA. Here I mean use of neoclassic economic as a new religion that justify and "bless" neoliberal social order. Essentially the same role that Catholic church played for classic feudalism. It serves as "An opium for the masses", if we use slightly overdone Marx quote ;-)

While related to economic rape of Russia, Shleifer's story has a wider meaning as an apt symbol of "post-modern" corruption at universities and especially in Harvard where students were actively indoctrinated in pseudoscientific theories which constitute a theoretical framework of casino capitalism serving simultaneously as the role of ideology which is not that far from the role of Marxism in the USSR. Here is Anna Willamson view (The Rape of Russia, Testimony of Anne Williamson Before the House Banking Committee)

From the perspective of the many millions of her children, Mother Russia in late 1991 was like an old woman, skirts yanked above her waist, who had been abandoned flat on her back at a muddy crossroads, the object of others' scorn, greed and unseemly curiosity. It is the Russian people who kept their wits about them, helped her to her feet, dusted her off, straightened her clothing, righted her head scarf and it is they who can restore her dignity - not Boris Yeltsin, not Anatole Chubais, not Boris Berezovsky nor any of the other aspirants to power. And it is the Russian people - their abilities, efforts and dreams - which comprise the Russian economy, not those of Vladimir Potanin or Viktor Chernomyrdin or Mikhail Khodorkovsky or Vladimir Gusinsky. And that is where we should have placed our bet - on the Russian people - and our stake should have been the decency, the common sense and abilities of our own citizens realized not through multilateral lending but through the use of tax credits for direct investment in the Russian economy and the training of Russian workers on 6-month to one year stints at the U.S. offices of American firms in conjunction with the elimination of U.S. tariffs on Russian goods.

Russia is a fabled land, home to a unique and provocative thousand year-old culture, and a country rich in the resources the world needs whose people had the courage and resilience to defeat this century’s greatest war machine, Hitler’s invading Wehrmacht. Yet, thanks to Boris Yeltsin’s thirst for power and megalomaniacal inadequacy, Russia has become the latest victim of American expediency and of a culturally hollow and economically predatory globalism. Consequently, Americans, who thought their money was helping a stricken land, have been dishonored; and the Russian people who trusted us are now in debt twice what they were in 1991 and rightly feel themselves betrayed.

The worst of it was that some pretty good ideas - private property, sound money, minimal government, the inviolability of contract and public accountability - that have delivered to the West’s citizenry the most prosperity and the most liberty in world history, and might have done the same for the Russians, were twisted into perverse constructions and only then exported via a Harvard-connected cabal of Clinton administration appointees who funded - without competition - their allies at Harvard University courtesy the public purse. Joining the US-directed effort were the usual legions of overpaid IMF/World Bank advisers whose lending terror continues to encircle the globe.

As reader with nickname DownSouth commented on Naked Capitalism blog (Obama Administration “Nothing to See Here” on Foreclosure Crisis « naked capitalism), historically one of the most powerful forces that supported feudalism in Europe were Catholic and Orthodox churches: the feudal order was upheld by the Church’s priestly class allied with European royalty.

In the modern USA something similar can be said about the relations of the neoclassical economists and bankers. It wasn’t meant to be this way, either with the priests of old or the priests of new. As Robert H. Nelson points out in Economics as Religion,

…Samuelson followed the Roman Catholic model. The members of the economics profession, and other scientific and professional elites, would be motivated by the higher considerations of a priesthood, as compared with businesspeople and other ordinary citizens in the commercial realm. There would be no popular votes held for the scientific leaders of society. Samuelson acknowledged the practical necessity to allow wide rein for the pursuit of self-interest in the marketplace. However, the professional economists and other scientific managers of the progressive state would function according to the ethical standard of the Roman Catholic priesthood. They would reject the commercial motive of self-interest and instead act in their professional and public capacity to serve the common good—-“the public interest”—-of all of society.

In Darwin’s Cathedral David Sloan Wilson made the observation that all major churches seem to have a “life cycle.”

Religious denominations range from huge established churches that encompass most of the population to tiny sects that reject the larger churches as corrupt and regard themselves as keepers of the original faith. The huge established churches begin as sects, grow into churches, give rise to offspring sects, and then mysteriously fall into senility, to be replaced by their own offspring sects. I would just add that it seems like theology follows function in this life cycle.

For instance, as Wilson points out, the early Christian church, while it was still a small sect, had “a policy of extreme altruism and forgiveness toward the downtrodden” and “a policy of unyielding opposition” toward the main Jewish religious institutions, which it perceived to be in league with the Roman Empire. As the Christian church matured and became the established church, however, it became part and parcel of the power structure, championing it and defending it against the downtrodden. What began as a small sect with a theology based upon knowledge and moral authority morphed into a church whose theology was all about defending wealth and power.

Eventually a new sect rose to challenge this priestly class. As Nelson explains:

Indeed, it was this strong distinction between ordinary people and the church priesthood that, among a number of other tenets of Catholic doctrine, incurred the wrath of Martin Luther. Luther saw the Roman Catholic Church as selling ordinary people short and thus declared a new Protestant “priesthood of all believers.” The ministry of the Protestant churches would stand on an equal plane with the faithful—-both, for example, would marry. The leadership of Protestant parishes would be elected by the ordinary members of the church, while the Roman Catholic Church would continue to select its own leaders in a hierarchal fashion, as when the pope designates the cardinals of the church.

What Luther had to say about the priestly class of the Medieval Catholic Church rings true about modern-day high priests of "casino capitalism", the neoclassical economists of "Harvard Mafia". As Luther wrote the Pope in letter in 1520:

But they See, which is called the Roman Curia, and of which neither thou nor any man can deny that is more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom ever was, and which is, as far as I can see, characterized by a totally depraved, hopeless, and notorious wickedness—-that See I have truly despised… The Roman Church has become the most licentious den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the kingdom of sin, death, and hell… They err who ascribe to thee the right of interpreting the Scripture, for under cover of thy name they seek to set up their own wickedness in the Church, and, alas, through them Satan has already made much headway under thy predecessors. In short, believe none who exalt thee, believe those who humble thee.

MI6 role in economic rape of Russia, Ukraine and other post Soviet republics

Now there is an indirect evidence of participation of of British intelligence agencies such as MI6 in Russia privatization scam. And the point man for such investigation is William Brower, who recently got nine years of jail (in absentia) from Russian court. 

William Browder controversy which emerged after Putin mentioned him during  Trump-Putin summit in Helsinky in July 2017 shed some light on MI6 role in economic rape of Russia and other post Soviet republics.  Especially interesting is the following video EXCLUSIVE Russian TV Bill Browder is CIA agent, recruited Navalny. Browder furious! Navalny sues! - YouTube

Browder was one of financial sharks (or as one Amazon reviewer of his book called him "financial crack cocaine seller" -- the term applicable to the whole Harvard mafia) who somehow was extracted for Solonon brothers and went to Russia. He voluntarily put himself in substantial danger getting into environment which he completely did not understand and with very little many from a dubious source. Which might be explainable if he  was assigned a specific task by MI6. After all according to some  sources Bill Browder’ grandma, Raissa Berkman, was an agent for the KGB ( http://spartacus-educational.com/USAbrowder.htm ).

The Vortex, July 27, 2018 at 8:32 am GMT • 100 Words

Dear Mister/Miss Robin G.,

...The following is a PASTE from an electronic mail message REPLY to me from a friend in the know whom I can’t reveal all of his name but just John, which I believe you shall find interesting:

Browder could be CIA or Mossad or NSA or Naval Intel or something we don’t even know or a combination of all of the above. Or, just a no-good slimy person.

Plus, Fletcher Prouty said that many times people are working for intelligence and don’t even know it. Entire military units are under CIA command and don’t know it.

Another Amazon reviewer of his book described one of the criminal scheme Brower used (he used several)

A Self-Congratulatory Book with a Mission

By Patricia5115 on March 22, 2015

Format: Hardcover 

The book was fun to read, like a Marvel comic book. Truly Bill Browder is, according to Bill Browder, a brilliant man willing to take daring risks where he sees an opportunity for personal gain. And I have to agree with him. With his inherited genetic intelligence, and some of the best education money can buy, he made himself enormously rich profiting from financial transactions that produced nothing of real value. I found this book to be quite self-congratulatory, written with no embarrassment for taking advantage of a whole population.

As Browder writes, “I found that to transition from communism to capitalism, the Russian government had decided to give away most of the state’s property to the people. The government was going about this in a number of ways, but the most interesting was something called voucher privatization. The government granted one privatization certificate to every Russian citizen---roughly 150 million people in total—and taken together these were exchangeable for 30 % of nearly all Russian companies.“ “The market price of the vouchers equaled 3 billion…this meant that the valuation of the entire Russian economy was only 10 billion! That was one-sixth the value of Wal-Mart!” “Russia had 24% of the word’s natural gas, 9% of the world’s oil, and produced 6.6 % of the world’s steel, among many other things. Yet this incredible trove of resources [owned by ordinary Russian citizens] was trading for a mere 10 billion! Even more astonishing was that there were no restrictions on who could purchase these vouchers. I could buy them, anyone could buy them.” He recounts, “The Russian people had no idea what to do with the vouchers when they received them for free from the state and, in most cases, were happy to trade them for a $7 bottle of vodka or a few slabs of pork.” Mr. Browder took advantage of their ignorance and brought millions of vouchers from the Russian people for a pittance of their true value. This is something to brag about? It is not laudable to buy something for a pittance of its real worth, from owners who have no idea of its true value. It is reprehensible. It was disturbing to me to see no introspection on the rightness or wrongness of beating someone out of his or her money.

Mr. Browder describes in his Sidanco deal the feeling he has when an opportunity for ungodly gains presents itself, “I had that tingling, greedy tension in my gut, similar to when I saw my $2,000 Polish investment multiply by nearly ten times, or when I unearthed the Russian voucher scheme.”

Greed is not a virtue, Mr. Browder. It is a vice.

Reviewer Ian Kaplan wrote:

The second half of the book is about how Putin's gang tried to crush Hermitage Capital and everyone associated with it.”

And, I would add, how Browder’s gang is trying to crush Putin. It makes me think that a large part of Mr. Browder’s dogged determination in pushing the Maginsky Act through Congress, and signed into law, was not so much a humanitarian turn of the leaf for him, but a strategy to enlist the whole backing of the United States into his personal war with Putin, who put him out of a lucrative business in Russia.

And there there is Necrasov's documentary which Brower successfully blocked from distribution in EU and the USA. Could he done so without the support of intelligence services?

Skeptikal says:

July 23, 2018 at 11:21 am GMT • 200 Words

@Peasant

'No freedom of speech for his enemies!'

Quelle suprise

'His hacks re-wrote his Wikipedia entry'

That's dedication

'More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia'

Yes you really do read it correct we are going to war so some tax dodging Jew s*yst*r can recover his ill gotten gains

'Browder, a grandson of the US Communist leader'

You just couldn't make it up could you? If it was in a Tom Wolfe novel it would be deemed over the top

'came to Russia at its weakest point after the Soviet collapse, and grabbed an enormous fortune by opaque financial transactions'

Him and countless others of his kind

'As you’d expect, huge tax evasion was discovered. Browder thought that as long as he sucked up to Putin, he’d get away with bloody murder, let alone tax evasion'

Along came a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph...

'Foreigners had to pay much more. Browder bought many such shares via Russian frontmen, and he was close to getting control over Russian oil and gas. Putin suspected that he had acted in the interests of big foreign oil companies, trying to repeat the feat of Mr Khodorkovsky'

Who's shares in Yukos reverted to Jacob Rothschild FYI

'His second mistake was being too greedy. Russian taxation is very low; but Browder did not want to pay even this low tax'

No comment

'Mr Browder does not deny these accusations; he says there is nothing criminal in trying to avoid taxes'

Well that's alright then

'For this reason alone, Browder can be counted as a part of the power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good'

And for other ethnic reasons of course.

'Nobody listened to them, until they demanded that Browder testify under oath. He refused.'

Mala fides anyone?

'The New Republic wondered: if Browder was indeed the victim of persecution in Russia and had enlisted the U.S. justice system to right the balance, why was he so reluctant to offer his sworn testimony in an American courtroom?'

You know when you are a Jewish financial criminal and even The New Republic is against you you may have gone too far...

'It turned out Browder tried to bribe the journalist who made the interview to have these words expunged'

Well I never. But Jews never conspire to tell everyone what to think...that's just crazy tawk


'This is probably a uniquely Jewish quality: Jews outspend everybody in contributions to political figures'

Yup


'Much bigger sums were transferred via good services of Brothers Ziff, mega-rich Jewish American businessmen'


Didn't I see this on an episode of the Simpsons?


'Almost all involved figures appear to be Jewish, not only Browder'


Stereotype threat


'Even his enemy, the beneficiary of the scam that (according to Browder) took over his Russian assets is another Jewish businessman Dennis Katsiv'


You just couldn't make it up could you? 'Maxwell stole a few million dollars from his company pension fund before dying in mysterious circumstances on board of his yacht in the Atlantic'

He stole hundreds of millions after breaking the back of the print unions and then stealing the pensions of the workers who remained. Amongst other things he used the money to float Mossad and bankroll the victory parade after the first gulf war. His children and wife were never required to make restitution even though they received considerable inheritances.

'He was given a code name Solomon, as he worked for Salomon Brothers' Jesus wept where's Evelyn Waugh when you need him

These people are walking caricatures aren't they? We are basically beyond parody now aren't we?

  1. Absolutely.
    I re-watched that section where he threatens Nekrasov.
    Because, after Browder stood up, he was partly blocking the camera view and it was a bit unclear.

    So, who are Browder’s enforcers? Who can ensure that Krainer’s book and Nekrasov’s film are “disappeared”? That screenings of the film are suddenly canceled?
    Is there any way to approach this legally? For instance, who canceled the showing of the film in NYC? Can that be established? Was someone threatened in the same vein the Browder threatens Nekrasov?
    After showing, in the docudrama segments of the film, the unpleasant deaths of the three guys who (I think) were the recipients of Browder’s company’s assets, I do hope that Nekrasov is watching hiw own back.

    Browder has reinvented himself as an advocate for “human rights” in Russia. So, in our upside-down world, Putin in a thug, Russia is a kleptocracy, and Browder is a “human rights advocate.” What a sick joke. the soon this guy and his story can be blown, the better.

    Maybe we can “exchange” Browder for Assange. Browder gets to stay here in the West, and Assange is transferred to Russia.

 

Which also raised the question why Browder duped the US congress so easily. Was the US congress ready to be duped because Browder served as a pawn in a large operation "Containing Russia"?

  1. istt says:

    July 27, 2018 at 4:00 am GMT • 100 Words

    Mr. Nekrasov’s documentary makes it crystal clear Browder has duped the fawning US Congress. Browder is both a liar and, more importantly, a murderer. It seems everyone who was involved with hiding his assets for him have died. How convenient for Mr. Browder in that they cannot testify against him.

    Magnitsky, as it turns out, was never a “brilliant lawyer” hired to look into lost taxes paid, but instead was a long-time accountant for Browder’s Hermitage Fund. Browder has used his death as a way to exonerate him from paying taxes owed to the Russian government.

    Browder should spend the rest of his life in a Russian prison, not be hailed as a human rights hero.

 

See also

  1. RobinG says:

    July 24, 2018 at 2:56 am GMT • 100 Words

    @Jeff Davis

    At 1 hour and 18 minutes into the film Nekrasov confronts Browder with the evidence against him. He doesn't do it overtly, that is, straight on, as in j'accuse, but rather acts kind of coy, asking his questions about the "problems" of fact that he has discovered. Asking his questions as if he were confused, and hoped Mr. Browder could provide some clarification.

    Mr. Browder figures out straightaway that he's been busted. A realization that is easy for him, since he has had perfect consciousness of his guilt from the moment he began planning the crime. Now we see him awakening abruptly to the realization that the man he hired to make the cover-up film has discovered the truth that the film was meant to conceal.

    Look at his face, see the tension there. Listen to his voice crack -- at 1:22:30 -- as his throat locks up and his mouth gets dry. Then for the next 26 seconds Browder offers a straight-up lie, that the original registration documents are necessary to re-register the companies. He then watches, to see if Nekrasov buys it, and then... seeing that Nekrasov doesn't buy it -- he gulps visibly under the tension -- understanding in that moment that he's been busted. It's an amazing moment caught on video. It's not a stretch to conclude that you are watching a man see his life pass in front of his eyes. And then finally we watch as Browder stands and threatens Nekrasov with reputational destruction.
    At 1:23:45, Browder says -- threatens actually -- "I'd be really careful about going out and trying to do a whole thing about Sergie not being a whistleblower, it's not gonna do well for your credibility in the show."

    I love that he calls it "a show".

    Powerful stuff

    MOST IMPORTANT VIDEOS OF SOCIOPATH BILL BROWDER
    Deposition in case of U.S. vs. Prevezon Holdings

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 1

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 2

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 3

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 4

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 5

    Bill Browder April 15, 2015 Deposition – Part 6

    FULL TRANSCRIPT is available here. [But then you don't get the shifty eyes, sweaty upper lip, and significant pauses. "I know nothing ... nooothing!!!]

    https://c1.100r.org/media/2017/10/Browder-Deposition-April-15-2015.pdf

 


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Old News ;-)

[Dec 09, 2019] When it became clear the USSR wouldn't be able to keep up technologically with the USA, Gorbachev then decided (without knowing it) it would be preferrable for The USSR to disappear than to continue to exist as a non-superpower.

Dec 09, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Dec 9 2019 12:08 utc | 79

More on "Western imbecilization":

A (Grudging) Defense of the $120,000 Banana

These are the successors of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Picasso, etc. etc.

--//--

This is Brazil's "God's Army":

'Soldiers of Jesus': Armed neo-Pentecostals torment Brazil's religious minorities

First Worlders commenting here seem to have the illusion Christianism is the good brother of the three Abrahamic religions. Although I understand the pro-Christian bias coming from the Europeans (since Christianism is an inextricable aspect of European identity), this opinion is a myth: we have already tasted this in the Bolivian coup, but it's also a Latin American phenomenon.

Christians are wolves under sheep skins.

--//--

@ Posted by: pogohere | Dec 9 2019 1:25 utc | 57

The USSR had a relatively backwards transportation system (specially railways), that still used disproportional quantities of petroil to function, but that wasn't an existential threat to the nation per se , it could be modernized.

Of all the theses I've read about the collapse of the USSR, the one that most convinced me was Angelo Segrillo's "Decline of the USSR" - which I think only exists in Portuguese right now. Segrillo covers all the arguments of the time used to explain the fall of the USSR and refutes them all empirically before he lays out that the main cause of the fall of the USSR was its structural inability to implement the Third Industrial Revolution ("toyotism").

When it became clear the USSR wouldn't be able to keep up technologically with the USA, Gorbachev then decided (without knowing it) it would be preferrable for the USSR to disappear than to continue to exist as a non-superpower.

In that sense, yes, the Soviet then relatively inneficient energy use was a symptom of the underlying cause - but it wasn't the cause.

--//--

@ Posted by: bevin | Dec 9 2019 3:03 utc | 62

The problem with Europe is its geography: it is a tiny, depleted peninsula. In the 17th Century, it was an advantage, since the lack of natural resources impelled it to aggressively exploit other continents, giving birth to capitalism.

But capitalism is a global system, not a regional system. When it reached maturity, Europe slowly, but inexorably, begun to lose its competitive advantages over purely capitalist formations - the greatest of them all being the USA. Then what was an advantage became a disadvantage.

This gordian knot was cut with WWI and WWII (both were only one war, in two parts) - a last desperate attempt by British capitalism to preserve its imperialist status.

But History is unasailable: it is the saga of class struggle, of the contradictions between the modes of production and the relations of production. The result couldn't be any different: Western Europe was on its knees after WWII. The British Empire had just sold all its assets to the Americans and German men were literally prostituting themselves to American soldiers for on cigarette (and German children, for one chocolate bar). The USA was the undisputed sovereign of the European Peninsula from 1945 on.

The last leverage the European Peninsula had, in that scenario, was the USSR itself: it could ask the USA for good treatment and some dignity in exchange of not doing socialist revolutions backed up by the Soviets. The result was the Marshall Plan and a permission to revive their previous industrial parks.

That situation resulted in the rise of Atlanticism, the ideology that the USA is the legitimate heir of Western Civilization. Andy Warhol was the successor to Michelangelo.

--//--

@ Posted by: john brewster | Dec 9 2019 4:35 utc | 65

The USSR stagnated during the period that spanned from the oil crisis of 1975 until its fall in 1991.

But it only had a recession in two years of its history: the year after the Perestroika and its last year of existence. Both were very mild recessions (by capitalist standards).

Even during the infamous "Brezhnev stagnation", growth was 1-3% per year - comparable to the developed capitalist nations since the 1990s.

But the problem is that its successor states are doing objectively worse: Russia will grown a little more than 1% this year; other ex-Soviet states are more or less in the same situation (with Ukraine doing outright worse). The mircle promised to the Russians didn't come: Putin's boom of the early 2000s was not comparable to the Soviet boom. Russia's status today are completely dependent on China (which, ironically, has the Soviet system of government) and the modernization from the old Soviet weapons and know-how it already had.

[Dec 02, 2019] Yuri Gararisn the the USA tecnological superiority

Dec 02, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Dec 1 2019 16:45 utc | 3

From Michael Roberts Blog's Facebook:
Chile - it's not just the level of inequality and austerity in the country that triggered the social uprising against the elite. On the OECD's 'better life' index, Chile scores very badly even compared to other Latin American countries.

Chile's insurgency and the end of neoliberalism

The OECD index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life.

OECD Better Life Index

--

The Indian economy is heading into trouble - to all intent, in recession. The second-largest country in the world by population grew only 4.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, below 5 percent in the previous period and market expectations of 4.7 percent. That's the weakest pace since the first three months of 2013, mainly due to a fall in factory output and exports and a slowdown in investment.

Investment, sluggish for nearly a decade, grew a mere 1 per cent year-on-year, down from 4 per cent in the previous quarter. Manufacturing output contracted 1 per cent. Infrastructure investment has collapsed.

The government has announced several measures to boost growth including a reduction in corporate taxes, concessions on vehicle purchases, bank recapitalisation. Meanwhile, the central bank has already cut borrowing cost 5 times this year and is seen lowering rates again next week.

See my post of last May on India:

India: another China or another Brazil?

--//--

This is a very interesting example of how Western (i.e. libera, capitalist) propaganda works, and also a very illustrative example of how capitalism declined from the point of view of a person who benefitted the most from it when it was at its apex:

Perhaps it's time to remember Yuri Gagarin

The shock in the US was that the Russians were not only competitive, but had embarrassed US science and engineering by being first. In 1958, President Eisenhower signed into law the National Defense Education Act, and this enabled talented students to flow into science and engineering. The shock waves were felt throughout the entire educational system, from top to bottom. Mathematics was more important than football.

He's right in the abovementioned paragraph. If you interviewed people who were 12-14 years old between 1958 and 1963, and asked about what would be the future of the USA in the year 2000, most of them would have more or less the same answer: that the future of America was scientific, bright, of high technology; a nation where scientists and engineers would be more more venerated than tv celebrities and football/baseball players. It would be the world of the infamous "flying cars" and space exploration and colonization.

Nobody in 1963 would imagine that the USA of the 2000s would be the USA of finance, of Wall Street ; of football players, of the anti-vaxxers, of the flat earthers and of the Kardashians.

But they should've. The reason this degeneration happened is the fact that the USA is a capitalist society. In capitalism, scientific progress is accidental. What matters in the capitalist system is the valorization process, not the process of use value creation. Like any other societal formations, capitalism has a revolutionary period, an apex period, a decline period and a collapse period. In my opinion, world capitalism has just exited its apex phase and is now entering its decline phase.

Here's the propaganda part of the article:

As demonstrated by the USSR, socialism does not prohibit scientific prowess. There is a difference, of course. Socialism's success in the USSR came at the expense of millions of lives, the slave labor of millions more, and a lower standard of living. Nevertheless, the fact is that Yuri Gagarin was the first person to orbit the earth. In comparison to the US today, Soviet universities were not plagued by whining children – nor are today's Chinese universities. The Soviets thought it wiser that their young study calculus and physics.

This paragraph encapsulates all the elements of Cold War propaganda about the USSR. When I read it, it felt like a blast from the past.

First, the image of the USSR as essentially a slavery society is a Western chimera. They come from Weber -- who once theorized the USSR as a "modern Ancient Egypt" -- and the propaganda from Solzhenitsyn, who hugely exagerated the number of prisoners in the USSR.

In fact, even at the height of the GULAG era, the USSR's jailed population never went beyond 1.5% of its overall population (as we know now from Soviet official archives). That's well within the world's average. If only 1.5% of the population is able to sustain the other 98.5%, then even I want to know how the Soviets operated such an economic miracle.

Besides, the USSR obviously didn't kill "millions of people" in order to send someone to space. That's obviously absurd by any metric, logic included. First of all because this would never gather political consensus among the population, second because it is impossible to do rocket science with slave labor.

The quick rise of the Third Reich gave birth to the myth in the West that slave labor can operate miracles. Nothing is further from the truth. In Ancient times, both the Greeks and the Romans already knew slave labor was only economically viable in very basic and simple tasks, such as agriculture, mining and other domestic services. Athens achieved naval supremacy over Greece by using wage labor for its rowing and sailor crews, so that they could be professionals with high morale in the battlefield. The reason for this is that maneuvering triremes was an extremely complex art, too complex and valuable for the Athenians to trust to slaves. They also had, by the nature and complexity of the task, a naturally high degree of freedom from their "bosses". Either way, the task was simply too complex for a slave to phisically learn, since a slave was kept into his/her place through physical deprivation and domination, and a sailor had to be always fit physically and mentally to wage wars at sea. The Spartans didn't slave their coastal colonies, giving them a much larger degree of freedom (perioikoi), probably in exchange for a supply of sailors, ships. The Romans also did the same: when a slave became specialized enough in the family business (such as acting as a middle man in the paterfamilias' businesses in some coastal city), he usually "gifted" him with his freedom.

In sum: even the ancients knew that, for more complex tasks, free people were a must. Slavery was only economically viable for very simple and denigrating tasks (specially, agriculture and mining).

As for the "lower quality of living", that's highly debatable. Surely, on average, the USSR certainly didn't enjoy the same life quality than the top of the capitalist chain of the time. But inequality was much, much lower (almost negligible) except for the rural-urban divide, and there was no deprivation.

On average, life quality in the USSR was much better than the vast majority of the capitalist nations with the benefit inequality was negligible (so the average approached the median). Sure, it was no post-1980s Norway or Finland -- but those are microscopic capitalist nations, with negligible population.

Paora , Dec 1 2019 20:04 utc | 5

vk @ 3

Thanks vk. The Soviet achievements in space were the achievements of a free people who had to make superhuman sacrifices in order to preserve their freedom. Here's Boris Chertok, a remarkable Soviet space designer whose experiences stretched from the crowds of 1917 and Lenin's funeral to the construction of the international Space Station:

"I am part of the generation that suffered irredeemable losses, to whose lot in 20th century fell the most arduous of tests. From childhood, a sense of duty was inculcated in this generation - a duty to the people, to the Motherland, to our parents, to future generations, and even to all humanity.

...

Currently ... it is ideological collapse that threatens the objective recounting of [Soviet] science and technology ... motivated by the fact that its origins date back to the Stalin epoch or to the period of the 'Brezhnev Stagnation'"

[Nov 30, 2019] Video How the U.S. Caused the Breakup of the Soviet Union - Global ResearchGlobal Research - Centre for Research on Globalizat

Nov 30, 2019 | www.globalresearch.ca

Video: How the U.S. Caused the Breakup of the Soviet Union Sean Gervasi 1992 Lecture By Sean Gervasi and Dennis Riches Global Research, November 30, 2019 Region: Russia and FSU , USA Theme: History

We bring to the attention of Global Research readers the text of an unpublished Lecture delivered in 1992 by the late Sean Gervasi on the history of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US Strategy formulated during World War II to bring down the USSR.

The full transcript and video of Sean Gervasi's presentation is preceded by Dennis Riches Introduction

Scroll down for the Video

Introduction

We defeated totalitarianism and won a war in the Pacific and the Atlantic simultaneously We worked together in a completely bipartisan way to bring down communism So now we have to use our political processes in our democracy, and then decide to act together to solve those problems. But we have to have a different perspective on this one. It [global warming] is different from any problem we have ever faced before [i] – Al Gore

These words above were spoken by former US vice-president Al Gore in 2007 in his film An Inconvenient Truth . Because audiences at the time were in rapt awe of him, treating him as a savior in the campaign to solve the global warming crisis, they never seemed to reflect on the outrageous assumptions underlying his comments about "defeating totalitarianism" and "bringing down communism." These are worth examining for what they say about perceptions of world history among the American political class, and they even hint at how the errors in these perceptions led Mr. Gore to being self-deceived about what would be necessary to solve the problem he has devoted himself to since he has been out of power.

Although the United States played a crucial role in WWII, it was slow to get involved and it let the Soviet Union do much of the heavy lifting and suffer the heaviest losses. The United States had a lot of help in achieving the victory Mr. Gore claims for America, and we could assume he knows this, so the way he chose to describe historical events is telling.

Perhaps acknowledging the reality would have detracted from his second point about "bringing down communism." Everyone knows that what he is referring to so proudly is the destabilization and destruction of the USSR, the Warsaw bloc nations, and Yugoslavia, not the abstract notion of communism. He is referring to a "victory" which precipitated civil wars and a disastrous collapse of the economy and social welfare systems in these countries, one that killed and impoverished millions. In China, Cuba and the DPRK, contrary to what he stated, these nations' versions of socialism haven't been brought down at all. [1992]

Explicitly describing the "bringing down of communism" as America's deliberate actions to dismantle the USSR might run the risk of reminding the audience about the illegality of interfering in the internal affairs of sovereign nations, and it might have reminded people of what a betrayal this was of America's WWII ally and partner in the détente of the 1970s. The inconvenient truth is that the USSR was the WWII ally that played a crucial role in the victory that Mr. Gore claimed solely for America.

Nonetheless, the comment about "bringing down communism" is refreshingly, and maybe accidentally, very honest. Most descriptions of the Soviet collapse, even those done by historians specializing in this field, pay little attention to American efforts to undermine the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s. The political class always denied that America had a plan to dismantle the USSR, and denied having any significant influence on events which they claim arose from domestic causes. If America's influence is addressed at all, it is considered as a matter of speculation, a mystery hardly worth thinking about when one can more easily look at the dramatic events that occurred on the surface within the Soviet Union in the last decade of its existence. The following transcript of the lecture by Sean Gervasi, delivered in 1992, shortly after the collapse, is unique and valuable for what it reveals about the significant, and perhaps decisive, American role in the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In his conclusion, Mr. Gervasi came to this judgment:

The Soviet Union today, in the absence of this extraordinarily crafty, well-thought-out, extremely costly strategy deployed by the Reagan administration, would be a society struggling through great difficulties. It would still be a socialist society, at least of the kind that it was. It would be far from perfect, but it would still be there, and I think, therefore, that Western intervention made a crucial difference in this situation."

The journey to how he came to this conclusion is well worth the reader's time.

A final comment about Mr. Gore's remarks: He is oblivious to the inconvenient solution that has been staring him in the face all these years: that the necessary reduction of carbon emissions will require severe constraints on capitalism, a thesis developed by Jason W. Moore in Capitalism in the Web of Life .[ii] Mr. Gore should know that a radical solution is needed. In his recent sequel to An Inconvenient Truth he complains about the undue influence of "money in politics" that has gotten so much worse over the last ten years, but that's as deep as the class analysis and ideological exploration can go in America. He evinces no awareness of the historical figures who developed answers to the problem of unaccountable private control of a nation's government, resources and productive capacities. Gore is still proud of having actively worked against a revolution in human affairs that aimed to curtail the savage capitalism that led to the present ecological catastrophe.

In spite of the flaws one might see in what the Soviet Union actually became, flaws that arose to a great extent because it had to fight against external threats throughout its existence, the goals of the revolution of 1917 are still relevant to the crises of the 21st century, and this is what makes Sean Gervasi's research so valuable now, after a quarter century in which America doubled down on its "winning ways" and worsened the crises that were evident long ago in 1992.

About Sean Gervasi

Sean Gervasi (1933-1996) spent the latter part of his career exposing the role of the United States and Western powers in the breakup of the USSR and Yugoslavia. He was working on a book,Balkan Roulette, at the time of his death.

Gervasi was an economist trained at the University of Geneva, Oxford and Cornell. His political career began when he took a post as an economic adviser in the Kennedy administration. He resigned in protest after the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.

After his resignation, Gervasi was never able to get work again in the United States as an economist, despite his impressive academic credentials. He became a lecturer at the London School of Economics after leaving Washington. Notwithstanding his great popularity, the school refused to renew his contract in 1965.

During the 1970s and 1980s he was an adviser to a number of governments in Africa and the Middle East, helping them navigate the hostile and predatory world of transnational corporations and megabanks. He also worked for the UN Committee on Apartheid and the UN Commission on Namibia.

In addition, Gervasi was a journalist, contributing to a wide range of publications, from the New York Amsterdam News to Le Monde Diplomatique . He was a frequent commentator on the listener-supported Pacifica radio station WBAI in New York. In 1976, Gervasi broke the story of how the U.S. government was secretly arming the apartheid regime in South Africa.

In the late 1980s, Gervasi began to focus on the Cold War and what he called the "full court press," a basketball term for a highly aggressive "all in" strategy. In an article published in the Covert Action Information Bulletin in early 1991[iii], when the breakup of the USSR was imminent, Gervasi showed how the Reagan administration's strategy of economic isolation, a gargantuan arms buildup with the threat of a nuclear attack, overt funding of internal dissent, and CIA-directed sabotage had been decisive in bringing down the USSR. Gervasi backed up his analysis with careful scholarship and documentation.

Gervasi was widely respected as a leading independent figure in the left, but his views were contrary to the fashionable dogma that attributed the USSR's collapse almost exclusively to such things as failures of leadership, centralization of the economy, the black market, Chernobyl, or independence movements, and not to external hostility. These are the subjects which he addressed in the following lecture given to a small audience in January 1992. The lecture can still be found on internet video sites, but the thesis of this lecture still remains marginal and obscure two decades later, even though it is highly pertinent to the Cold War replay that is underway in the second decade of the 21st century -- one in which Russia stands accused of turning the tables and doing a comparatively very tame version of the propaganda war waged on the USSR in the 1980s.

After 1992, Gervasi focused his attention on the breakup of Yugoslavia, which he discovered was a replay of the strategy used to break up the Soviet Union. He became active in exposing the role of external powers, particularly the U.S. and German governments, in fomenting the civil war in the Balkans. His view that the war in Bosnia was sparked by the aggressive machinations these nations, and not age-old ethnic rivalries, alienated Gervasi from much of the liberal and progressive movement. Journals to which he had once regularly contributed would no longer print his articles. He had great difficulty finding a publisher for his book on the Balkans, but some of his research on this topic can be found in the article "Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia?"[iv] published by Global Research in 2001.[v]

Dennis Riches, November 2017

***

VIDEO

Scroll down for the full Transcript

https://www.youtube.com/embed/b9_aYcpxClA

Byline of the video:

Propaganda expert reveals details in 1992 of RAND Think Tank plan under Reagan to bring down USSR, the major socialist challenge to capitalism in crisis, called Operation Full Court Press when announced at a Reagan limited invitee press conference upon its launch. It involved targeting mid-level Soviet bureaucrats with publications and Air America broadcasts pointing to problems they were facing having better outcomes in the US, military provocations when they were considering their budget in order to spend them into bankruptcy, luring them into Afghanistan followed by arming the Mujahadeen with surface to air missiles and such; and fanning flames of ethnic rivalries within the Soviet Union, like by sending publication equipment to Baltic ethnic groups.

In first 20 minutes Sean prophetically lays out the impending crisis of capitalism that drives their urgency to stamp out socialist competition. Sean died under mysterious circumstances in Belgrad where he had set up shop pointing out a PR effort in the US Congress by Ruder Finn hired by Croats and Kosovo Albanians to start a US war against Yugoslavia for their secession.

Event January 26, 1992 arranged by Connie Hogarth of WESPAC, Camera: Beth Lamont

Transcript

(edited by Dennis Riches)

Introduction

I've been speaking in the last year or so about developments in the Soviet Union from the perspective of a person who follows the workings of the Western intelligence agencies, something in which I was tutored while I was working at the United Nations, and was on the receiving end of quite a lot of that activity.

That is an important theme that one needs to look at: the role of the West in developments which have taken place in the Soviet Union, and it's one that I've been focusing on, but of course the wider and more important issue is: how shall we understand the meaning of events in the Soviet Union in the last five, six, ten years? That's really the critical question.

As you know, the developments, particularly the end or collapse of communist rule in the Soviet Union, and finally the breakup of the Soviet Union itself, have been presented in our media insistently and incessantly as evidence that socialism or social democracy, or what-have-you, which we'll discuss, is unworkable. And this, of course, in tandem with the theme which has been disseminated so energetically by these same people in the last decade, that capitalism:

  1. a) is more or less the same thing as democracy, and
  2. b) must be seen as the core and triumphant achievement of Western civilization

Hence the thesis that this is the end of history, that we have achieved everything that there is to achieve, that the present system of institutions in which we live in the West represents the pinnacle of human capacities, intellectually and organizationally, and is the best of all possible worlds.

That's the thesis, or those are the twin theses which surround us and which have been, I think, creating an enormous amount of confusion and consternation because I think people sense there is something wrong with this idea, and the effort to close off all discussion about alternatives to, what I would term, our "regime" in the United States today, and possibly in Western Europe, which is a moving backward from the more enlightened and liberal capitalism, liberal democracy and capitalism, which evolved after the Second World War in Western Europe and the United States.

We are today, I think, living in an irrational and savage capitalism of the 19th-century variety, which for particular reasons, people who have power in this society either have acceded to or have energetically worked to institute.

Part 1 The Crisis in the United States

The question is whether this great wave of propaganda makes any sense, and so I think we should examine whether the idea that socialism and alternatives to raw capitalism are impossible, undesirable, and unworkable. I think we have to look at that in two ways. First of all, we have to examine our own situation in the United States, historically, and we have to also, I think, look at what has happened in the Soviet Union because what has happened in the Soviet Union is really very different from what we are told by the mass media. We have not merely witnessed a collapse of communism in the Soviet Union. We have seen something really very different, but it has been systematically misrepresented in the Western media.

I would start then with examining the basic proposition. I would start by examining our situation in the United States today, and I'd frankly start with Charles Beard's interpretation of the American Constitution .

There's a great deal of misunderstanding about the kind of society that American democracy really represents, and that misunderstanding is both historical and contemporary. There is a tremendous tension which we are all aware of in our society. It is a tension between egalitarianism and inequality. It is a tension born of the evolution in the in the 16th, 17th and 18th century in England, and the transfer of a particular kind of society onto American soil through British political traditions, notwithstanding our rebellion as colonists at the end of the 18th century. And that is the particular set of institutions known as liberal democracy. Liberal democracy is a combination of parliamentary government and capitalism, and liberal democracy inevitably, therefore, contains some very serious tensions because the progressive development of parliamentary democracy has tended to give greater and greater scope to the principle of equality in human life and politics. That's why in the course of British 19th century political development there was a progressive expansion of the franchise. And that's why in the United States there was also an expansion of the franchise. The United States did not have the same encumbering property qualifications in the beginning, although we did have property qualifications in the 18th century in the United States, but eventually we had the full franchise extended to all adults, and we've been redefining adults most recently. We've dropped the level of political maturity or political enfranchisement to 18 years.

Capitalism, on the contrary, is a system of economic and social institutions based on the principle of inequality, and there's a rationale for that inequality which also comes from the 18th century, but the idea, essentially, is that it makes sense from the point of view of efficiency, and indeed equity, given all the considerations that one must take into account, to have a society based on the unequal distribution of property organized around that institution, to have an economy based on private property because, in the final analysis, it is most efficient, and in the long run holds the greatest promise of continuous progress. By the way, that's an argument that Marx made at a certain point -- that at a certain stage of history a capitalist society is extremely progressive, that it gathers the technical capacities of mankind, personkind, and develops them and accumulates and accumulates until it creates something new, which we won't talk about just now.

But historically and currently in the United States we very strongly sense this tension so that we go back and forth between periods when we have enormous pressures to give predominance to the principle of inequality, to pay attention to the rights of property, and periods when egalitarian tendencies have been very strong. For instance, as in the turn of the century during the expansive phase of American populism and during the antitrust of the great popular movements that sought -- not just popular -- but that sought to contain the power of the cartels and the trusts in the United States. And today we sense that too. We passed the law in 1946 that's called the Employment Act. By the way, it's not called the Full Employment Act. You have to remember that legislation. And yet we realize that our adherence to the principle of full employment was tenuous even in the 25 years which followed the Second World War, and completely spurious today. Why is that? It's because of this tremendous tension between the realities of power under capitalism and the rather fragile hold which democratic principles and institutions have on that power.

Let's go back to the Constitution and the Philadelphia Convention. I've been rereading Beard and I'm very impressed by his grasp of who predominates really in this delicate balance in liberal democracy between the principles of egalitarianism, the principles of parliamentary democracy and the enormous concentration of power, which even then was inherent in the dominance of the institutions of private property. Beard's argument essentially is that in the final analysis a small group of men, whom he refers to as one-sixth of the adult male population -- the only people who ratified the Constitution, the participants in the ratifying conventions who voted positively for the Constitution -- represented one-sixth of the adult male population. That is to say 8% of the adult population in today's terms. Against our values that represents 8% of today's population -- the equivalent.

Now, what was obtained in that framing of the Constitution? What was obtained was a system of political science, a system of government which was so structured as to ensure the dominance of private property, the power of private property in any contention between the forces of democracy and the forces of private property, and the forces of inequality, if you like, so that the structure which constitutes, at the founding of this republic, which constitutes the framework within which we operate today, is one which ensures that predominance.

I know that Beard has been attacked by many people, and it's perfectly understandable when you read Beard carefully, but it seems to me that today Beard becomes more illuminating. Why? I say I pay attention to the Constitution, to the Philadelphia Convention, to its ratification, to the numbers who ratified it and to the purposes which they saw themselves as furthering by their framing and ratification of this constitution because that is the framework within which the United States experienced the most successful and untrammeled Industrial Revolution in the history of mankind. Untrammeled. We had a straight run of industrialization which was the first to transform the condition of man in human society, by which I mean something very, very specific. And here I speak to things which were said by people like [ John Maynard] Keynes , by people like [ Joseph Alois] Schumpeter , but really ignored because they're extremely uncomfortable.

The rationalization for inequality in the institution of private property, in the thinking of eighteenth century philosophers, was that property had to be shared unequally and income had to be unequal because this inequality provided incentives which would constitute a constant assurance of the drive to the expansion of production. That was the rationalization, but in the 20th century, according to the economic historians and according to people like Keynes, countries like the United States and Great Britain began to end, began to transform the historical situation within which these institutions were conceived. How? By developing such a capacity to produce that gradually more and more numbers were lifted out of anything which could be historically or comparatively called poverty so that scarcity, which dominates the reasoning of economists, was really beginning to end in many respects. And Joseph Schumpeter was able to say, for instance, in 1928, that if economic growth continued in the United States for another 50 years we would see in 1978 the end of anything that could reasonably be called poverty.

Now that didn't quite happen. That didn't quite happen because of the enormous influence of inequality in the distribution of this productive abundance. But what it did transform was the lives of many, many people, and it transformed everyday life and the historical condition. Look between 1870 and 1970 at how the number of hours that the average American works falls. In the period between 1945 and 1970, per capita production trebled, just in that period, and we already had a huge industrial base at that time, so I would argue [agree], with Galbraith, who -- because he was right was vilified and ignored by the economist profession and studiously made little of by the mass media -- that indeed America began to be transformed with the success of its enormous industrial revolution by the end of the period after 1865, when really heavy industrialization began to take place. And indeed I would argue that the reason for the Great Depression was that the United States had lost the ability to continue to absorb everything that it could produce in an adequate way, given the institutions of the time.

So what happened then was that within this framework, which is the same framework conceived by the James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. To further the purposes of property and to insure against what Madison called "the leveling attacks of democracy," we have industrialization enhance the expansion of an enormous power, which is the power that controls the machinery and the resources of that productive system. That is to say large corporations. The largest 500 corporations in the United States today, plus the largest 500 banks and the largest 50 financial corporations control more resources than the Soviet planners ever dreamed of controlling. The control of those resources, which is made invisible by the clever workings of economists, inheres in the ability to make investment decisions. Investment decisions are the key decisions in any economic system. The power to make those decisions is the power to continuously transform and to determine the terms of everyday life among human beings in any society. That power is not only invisible in our system of thought, carefully hidden by the descendants of the 18th century philosophers, but it is also totally unaccountable.

Now maybe you could say, and we did say this between 1945 and 1975:

"OK this is a contradiction of democracy. This is the inheritance from the Philadelphia Convention, the Constitution in its ratification and the dominance of this one-sixth of the male adult population in 1789, but this system is so productive that we can alleviate the resulting social and political tensions by raising the standard of living of ordinary folks."

And that was the whole philosophy of the sophisticated American leadership in the first generation after the Second World War. That was the philosophy of the Rockefellers when they talked about the new enlightened capitalism of 20th century. Capitalism could deliver the goods and hence people would be content, despite the fact that the realities of power born at the end of the 18th century, and essentially enhanced by the enormous accumulation of power represented by industrialization and the growth of large corporations and their concentrated power in the economy. We could live with that because the United States economy was so productive.

Now, that's our history, and the tremendous tension of our situation today as contrasted with the post-war period because one thing is very clear today: that for 20 years in the United States this system has not been working. There has been a systematic retreat from full employment, high wages, advancing standards of living, security in one's job, and the advance of the welfare state. We have systematically been retreating from those things so that we have higher and higher official and real unemployment, which of course is about double the official unemployment -- and the statisticians work very hard to hide the realities of life.

Sean Gervasi

Between 1977 and 1992, according to the Congressional Budget Office, 70% of American families have seen their after-tax income fall. 70%! In the lower ranges of the income distribution those falls are quite sharp. Purchasing power falls by twenty 20.8% for the poorest fifth, by something like 12% for the next fifth, by something like 11% for the third fifth, and by smaller amounts for those in the middle of the income distribution system. So I would say that that represents, and people are increasingly becoming aware of it, a collapse of the American standard of living. And this collapse of the American standard of living is related to a gradual economic decline which is causing the post-war system, as we have known it in the United States between 1945 and 1970, to begin to disintegrate. And I think this is the reality of what is happening so that today even according to Wall Street forecasters like the Levies, attached to Bard College up here in the county, we are facing what they call a contained depression, which may be worse than the kind of depression we saw in the 1930s because the stabilizing role of the government makes it possible not to avoid some of the awful horrors that occurred in the depression, but to diminish them to a degree which makes them almost invisible.

So we have a very tense situation. I ask you to reflect on that when we confront the enormous economic difficulties from which there follow all kinds of social problems in our society today which we face. These are connected to, and, if you like, made possible by the arrangements conceived by James Madison and Alexander Hamilton . If this crisis which we have been living in for 20 years, and have become more acutely aware of in the last 10, is intractable, it is, above all, intractable because of this invisible concentrated power which exists today after industrial growth -- the rise of the large corporations in the framework conceived by Madison, Hamilton and the other Federalists.

So if you want to argue today that we need to reconsider this framework, you run into very fundamental problems. You run into the problem that the Constitution is treated like an icon, that people are unaware that the preamble to the Declaration of Independence is not the law of the United States, that people are unaware of the fact that the Bill of Rights, which is supposed to compensate for some of the failings of our constitutional system, has been systematically shredded by the two most recent administrations. Witness William Kunstler and his remarkable talks on what has happened to the Bill of Rights in the last ten years.

Part 2 The Crisis in the Soviet Union

Now, let's get to the Soviet Union, keeping in mind always that it is against this background of crisis and the intractability of crisis, and it's rooting in the historical origins of the Constitution that we are asked, that we are invited -- without anybody saying that that's the background -- that we are invited to ponder the proposition that there is no alternative to the kind of capitalism that we have, and that this capitalism is the quintessence of democracy.

Now let us look at that proposition against a second set of data, if you like, which is supposed to prove the case that there was socialism in the Soviet Union, that the Soviet Union then, along with its Eastern European partners, collapsed in chaos owing to the essential unworkability of this kind of a system. Let's look at that.

When the Reagan administration came into office we all became aware rather quickly that something new was happening. We should have known that something new was happening because, in fact, the arrival of the Reagan administration in power had been preceded by a very careful build-up which was, in part, visible in the American polity, and that was the emergence of the development and the elaboration of the power of a group which we now call the new right -- people who 20 years ago, 28 years ago in 1964, after Goldwater lost the Republican National Convention. Rockefeller took command of the party that had been relegated to what every major political commentator at the time called the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party. These were the people who, particularly in California, were coming out of the walls in the late 1970s, creating foundations, buying chairs of economics at universities. Look at it: the Coors , the Mises , with all of their contacts. These were the people who were building a new group, and the purpose of this group was to put a stop to the kind of systematic democratic entrenchment which they thought had been going on in the 1960s and the 1970s.

In the 1960s and the 1970s, there were three movements: (1) the movement for workers' rights, for unionization, the expansion of unionization, particularly among city employees and for raising wages, and the tremendous industrial disruption that attended the 1960s and the early 1970s in the industrial sector, (2) the civil rights movement, which preceded that, beginning in the late 1950s, and (3) the movement against the war in Vietnam, the war in Vietnam being one of the ways in which this society managed to utilize, in a profitable fashion, its enormous productive capacity without giving it to ordinary folks, without giving its fruits to ordinary folks.

The new right was determined to do something quite new. One of the new things that it did, and Reagan really was not its spokesman because that implies a degree of activity which I think he's incapable of. You can always program a spokesman. I don't think he had the wheels to do that.

Reagan launched, as you know, a massive, serious, intense, ugly confrontation with the Soviet Union, ideologically. At the same time we became aware that there was a significant drive on to re-arm the United States, to throw enormous resources -- ultimately it was in excess of 1.7 trillion dollars during the 1980s -- to throw enormous resources into the military sector, to throw enormous resources into shifting the technology of the military sector to war in space, SDI [Space Defense Initiative], etc. All of those things were on the agenda, but many of us at the time puzzled about this. I remember asking myself, "What is it with these folks? Do these fellows really want a world war? Can they not see that this can be the outcome?"

And I remember those discussions, and I remember when many of you and I on June 12, 1982 were at the demonstration of 750,000 to 1 million people in the center of New York City, which was an expression of the alarm that people felt at this enormous aggressive policy which was coming out of the Reagan administration, which threatened to shred US-Soviet relations.

But in fact, retrospectively, we can see that there was something else behind it, that it was not just irrational madness. There was a bit of that, but there was a rationality to what was being done, and in fact, to understand that, it's important to see that it is connected to every single major line of innovative policy that the Reagan administration developed. It was extremely well thought-out, extremely shrewd. And [it involved] the military buildup and the aggressive rhetoric towards the Soviet Union, the deliberate effort to create difficulties in the relationships between the Soviet Union and the European powers. You remember that in 1982 the United States tried to force the European powers not to accept natural gas from the Soviet Union, to deny shipments of technology to the Soviet Union which would make it possible for the Soviet Union to exploit that natural gas, to earn foreign exchange, etc. It was all part of a very complex strategy, but it was a very clear strategy.

Let me say, though, that many of us, at least I at the time, missed that. We didn't quite comprehend what was going on, but we had in the back our mind flickers that something was wrong. There were people who were saying or hinting clearly at what was happening, and shrewd people, intelligent people who did begin to grasp what was happening.

Let me quote from one or two. Writing in 1982, Joe Fromm , who was then the editor of the United States' US News and World Report , said,

"There was something behind," I'm quoting him, "the shift to a harder line in foreign policy." The US, in fact, seemed to be "waging limited economic warfare against Russia to force the Soviets to reform their political system." That suggests that's a nice journalist, a reasonably liberal journalist at US News and World Report , but Joe then quoted a State Department official saying (actually, a National Security Council official), "The Soviet Union is in deep, deep economic and financial trouble. By squeezing wherever we can, our purpose is to induce the Soviets to reform their system. I think we will see results over the next several years." That's in 1982.

Robert Scheer wrote a book in 1982 called With Enough Shovels: Reagan and Bush and Nuclear War . I think I've got the title almost right. This is a very interesting book in which Scheer saw that there was something behind this enormously aggressive foreign policy, foreign and military policy, that the Reagan administration was deploying. And he saw that the United States was not simply playing nuclear chicken with the Soviet Union, as he put it, but that it was embarked on a policy designed to create such pressure for the Soviet Union as to force changes within the Soviet Union.

Now of course it had always been the case that the Cold War consisted of moves designed to affect the behavior of others. The Cold War, from the point of view of the West, had always aimed at modifying, as the State Department cookie pushers liked to put it in their delicate prose, the behavior of our antagonist. But this, I think you will see, went beyond that because, in fact, the Reagan administration embarked on a policy of many dimensions which included pressure around the world on countries with close ties to the Soviet Union. Insurgencies were initiated in Mozambique, Angola, Cambodia against Vietnam, Nicaragua, and, quite a lot, Afghanistan.

I don't want to get into too many complicated discussions of Afghanistan, but I think anybody who reflects upon the United States' response to the Soviet entry into Afghanistan in 1979 must realize that the United States did not want the Soviet Union to leave Afghanistan, and in fact the purpose of these insurgencies around the world, which as you know, had expended billions of dollars, was to pin the Soviet Union down, and to inflict economic costs upon the Soviet Union. The purpose of the remilitarization in the West was to force the Soviet Union, at the risk of exposing itself to the pressure of escalation, to meet our resource commitments, to defend itself, or to place itself in a position to resist our pressure.

The purpose of escalating the technology of nuclear warfare, again, was to impose costs upon the Soviet Union. [This was ] the purpose of every principled measure, such as withholding advanced technology from the Soviet Union, foreign assistance programs aimed not at assisting countries on the basis of their needs, but on assisting countries on the basis of the contribution they would make to putting pressure on the Soviet Union. All of these things were part of a systematic strategy designed to create havoc in the Soviet Union.

Now I'll say a little bit more about what the purpose of that was, but first let me point out that this is a systematic strategy consisting of a number of pieces, and that it did pose enormous economic and other costs upon the Soviet Union.

But who is Gervasi [the speaker] to say that this is so, beyond quoting Joseph Fromm? Well, let me tell you a little bit about an interesting experience I had. I had lunch one day with a friend who was passing through the United States, who had been in jail in South Africa for eight years, and had just got out. He had been engaged in planning one of the principal sabotage operations against the South African nuclear installations, and he was very happy to be out of jail. We sat at lunch and he said to me -- we talked about many things, mostly about Africa which he and I had worked on together -- and he said to me,

"What's going on in the Soviet Union?" I said to him, "Well, you know, I really can't figure this out. I can't figure out what's going on." He said, "It seems to me that the Soviet Union is being destabilized." "My goodness," I say to myself quietly.

The thought had never passed my mind, but when my friend, Christie, said this I thought I should look into this, and I did.

The first thing I found was I spent a little bit of time on a computer and some things came up, and I said that looks very interesting. Within a very short time I had discovered reams of material being generated at the end of the 1970s and in the early 1980s by organizations like the RAND Corporation. You know what the RAND Corporation is. It's an Air Force/CIA contracting agency in Southern California, very large, very powerful, very influential in the so-called intellectual defense community, the military industrial complex, and in Washington. People go back and forth from the CIA, from the DIA to the State Department to the RAND Corporation. And what were the chaps at the RAND Corporation doing? Well, they were producing very interesting studies with titles like Economic Factors Affecting Soviet Foreign and Defense Policy : A Summary Outline , The Costs of the Soviet Empire , Sitting on Bayonets: the Soviet Defense Burden and Moscow's Economic Dilemma: The Burden of Soviet Defense , Exploiting Fault Lines in the Soviet Empire: Economic Relations with the USSR .

Anyway, I started reading the stuff. First of all, I started collecting it and I started reading this stuff, and I found out something very interesting: that these fellows at the end of the 1970s and the beginning of the 1980s were clearly fashioning a plan in which we began to see the pieces of in the emerging parts of foreign and military policy, foreign and military and economic policy under the Reagan administration. And the basic reasoning of this plan -- I'll give it to you -- is as follows: the Soviet Union was in a dual crisis. They knew what was going on in Soviet Union. Economic growth in the Soviet Union had begun to slow down. It had been very rapid, by the way, in the period from 1950 to the early 1970s. Between 1960 and 1984 per capita income and per capita production in the Soviet Union trebled, so it wasn't slow. That was a 4 or 5% rate of growth, very rapid considering that we're growing at about 1.5 which, is about, by the way, equivalent to the rate of growth on average during the decade of the 1930s in the United States.

Now, what I found out was that they also understood there was a leadership crisis in the Soviet Union. The old line of principal Soviet leaders born in the early stages of Soviet redevelopment after the Revolution, formed in the Second World War -- that leadership was dying out, as we all knew. And in fact Mikhail Gorbachev , selected by Andrei Gromyko , was the first representative of a new generation of Soviet leaders, but in the late 70s and early 80s, people were dying. The major figures Andropov, Chernenko and Brezhnev, were dying, and there was a very great confusion about succession. So the country was in a kind of crisis. The CIA calls it a dual crisis, a leadership crisis, not knowing to which new people of a new generation the leadership of the Soviet Communist Party and the Soviet Union should pass, and at the same time a beginning of faltering of economic growth, which was serious because since the Soviet Union had to always, like any country, choose between investing, competing in the arms race, and raising the standard of living of its population. The fact that economic growth fell off made that more difficult.

Now the next step in the reasoning of the RAND Corporation, gentlemen and ladies from the RAND Corporation, was that the United States and its allies could take various actions which would force the Soviet Union to increase its defense spending and its military assistance to allies and friends. They could take measures to deny the Soviet Union credits, which they did, and to deny it technology. They could also take measures which would reduce the overall volume of resources available to the Soviet Union and hold back the growth of productivity, which would exacerbate the problem, or force them to shift resources from consumers to investment. And [they knew] that all of these effects would (to quote them) "aggravate the difficulties confronting the Soviet leadership in a stagnant economy. So, a combination of these measures to impose costs on the Soviet Union could be expected to lead to falling investment and/or living standards, and such measures consequently might generate pressures within the Soviet Union for withdrawing from the world stage, and for political reform."

So the purpose of this operation, which I will try to define more clearly in a moment, was to impose, in a variety of ways, enormous costs on the Soviet Union, or to reduce the resources available to them in such a way as to exacerbate their economic difficulties. Let me quote from Abraham Becker , one of the shrewder Rand analysts:

Thus the Reagan administration seized Soviet economic troubles as an opportunity to complicate further their resource allocation difficulties dilemma, in the hope that additional pressures would result in a reallocation of resources away from defense, or would push the economy in the directions of economic and political reform.

The purpose of this new aggressive multi-dimensional strategy was to force reform upon the Soviet Union. What that reform was to be is a later chapter. Now, it's one thing to say that these plans exist, and I'll talk about other plans. For instance, I managed to pull together a collection of documents from the National Endowment for Democracy, which as you know, is supposed to be a quasi-government institution. It's not a quasi-government institution. It's funded by Congress. It's a government institution funded by Congress, which sees it to be its business to "promote democracy outside the United States" in the rest of the world, where by "democracy" one means essentially, and when you come down to it it's clear now in the Soviet Union, "capitalism" and "liberal democracy," if you like [the latter term].

Now, it's one thing of course to talk about all this planning, to try on your own to reason that all of these things fit together, but in fact we began to get official indications and documentation, as early as the spring of 1982, that the government had signed on to this strategy, that this was not the wild thinking of a few eager folks in a few think tanks, that it was policy and that it was policy which the American public knew very little of, did not understand the purposes and consequences of, but would nonetheless be required to pay for to the tune of several trillion dollars, which did indeed help to create the situation in which we presently find ourselves at home, locked in the Philadelphia Convention.

In the spring of 1982 I had spoken to two of the participants in this little meeting. A senior National Security Council official charged with responsibility for Soviet affairs called a number of influential Washington correspondents and asked them to come to the National Security Council for a briefing. Two of them told me that they left this briefing extremely shaken. They didn't want to say too much about it, but they gave me to understand that they thought that this was an extremely aggressive, dangerous, and highly risky strategy which the administration was describing and stating that it was about to embark upon.

Helen Thomas of UPI was one of the people who was in that meeting, and she described the results of the briefing -- this briefing on the Soviet Union -- in the following manner:

A senior White House official said Reagan has approved an eight-page National Security document that undertakes a campaign aimed at internal reform in the Soviet Union and the shrinkage of the Soviet empire. He affirmed that it could be called a full-court press against the Soviet Union.[vi]

A little later, just a few days later, in fact, further evidence, this time quoting official documentation, not hearsay from a briefer at the National Security Council, but quoting official documentation: Richard Halloran, the defense correspondent of The New York Times published an article in that paper on May the 30th of 1982, just a few days really after Helen Thomas sent out her UPI dispatch. Halloran quoted from the fiscal years 1984-1988 Defense Guidance, of which The Times stated that it had a copy.[vii] The Secretary's Guidance Document recommended what Halloran called "a major escalation in the nuclear arms race." Apart from that it indicated that a number of other measures were being taken "to impose costs on the Soviet Union." Note the language is the language of the RAND planners. Some of the same people probably wrote the document. I quote from Halloran's direct quote from the National Guidance document of the Secretary of Defense:

"As a peacetime complement to military strategy, the Guidance Document asserts that the United States and its allies should, in effect, declare economic and technical war on the Soviet Union."

This is interesting. "And so I think," it went on. They wrote,

"to put as much pressure as possible on the Soviet economy already burdened with military expenditure, they should develop weapons that are difficult for the Soviets to counter, impose disproportionate costs, open up new areas of major military competition, and obsolesce," (Nice English. I've put sic in my article) "precious Soviet investments."

So I think it's safe to say, and a number of people prove it to us a little later on, that this policy was instituted. Let me just race ahead to one of the more recent proofs. David Ignatius , who is a correspondent at The Washington Post, published a very remarkable article about "spyless coups" not long ago, in October, if I'm not mistaken. Perhaps it was September. Ignatius is a correspondent with very close ties to the intelligence community, to be very polite about it. I quote from his article: "Preparing the ground " This is immediately after the Yeltsin double event of August 1991 in which Mr. Gorbachev was seemingly threatened by a coup and in which Mr. Yeltsin did not seem to take power but did. He described the event in this way:

Preparing the ground for last month's triumph was a network of overt operatives who, during the last ten years, have quietly been changing the rules of international politics. They have been doing in public what the CIA used to do in private, providing money and moral support for pro-democracy groups, training resistance fighters, working to subvert communist rule.[viii]

Could he have written that in The Washington Post in 1982? It's difficult, I would have thought. It might not have passed muster. Some people might have noticed, but in 1991, evidently, it was all right to say that this is what we were doing.[ix]

If you look very carefully you can find many traces by officials stating that the United States had embarked upon a strategy which, retrospectively, it is very clear, was nothing more and nothing less than a strategy to destabilize the Soviet Union. Mr. Casey's magnificent and expansive imagination had carried covert operations beyond the narrow confines of Third World countries and aimed them at the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. If you go back and look at the history of these events in this perspective, reading some of the documents, you'll see things very differently

Judd Clark [name indistinct, spelling uncertain], for instance, speaking at a private seminar at Georgetown University, again around 1982, said,

"We must force our principle adversary, the Soviet Union, to bear the brunt of its economic shortcomings."

Well, that's slightly veiled language that means the same sort of thing that everybody else was saying. It wasn't, though, until 1985, that the redoubtable and incomparable Jeane Kirkpatrick appeared on the stage with the full text of the play in hand, and she gave a speech, not surprisingly in front of the Heritage Foundation, at a conference room on Capitol Hill in which she said, "The Reagan doctrine, as I understand it, is about our relations with the Soviet Union," and she then described every principal element of the strategy which Helen Thomas in 1982 called, repeating the NSC briefer's statement, "a full-court press against the Soviet Union."

If you read her speech to the Heritage Foundation, which everybody should read because it was 1985, she was saying that the United States is bent upon a strategy aimed at overthrowing the Soviet Union through internal and external pressures. She principally described the external pressure.

I want to say a little bit about the debate over the internal pressure. Again, in 1982, there was a nasty little debate between some members of Congress and the then-Secretary of State General Alexander Haig . Mr. Haig was very anxious that the United States should embark upon the program which Ronald Reagan was going to describe before the British Parliament in June 1982, at just about the time most of us were going to be in the streets of New York to protest some of the things that he was doing. And Hague said in the debate over the creation of the National Endowment for Democracy, which the Congress had insisted should not spill over into efforts to meddle in the internal affairs of the Soviet Union, Mr. Haig said,

"Just as the Soviet Union gives active support to Marxist-Leninist forces in the West and the [Global] South " [ironic commentary:] (because it owns Newsweek , for instance and it manipulates the Columbia Broadcasting Company such enormous power the Soviet Union has in the West) " we must give vigorous support to democratic forces wherever they are located, including countries which are now communist. We should not hesitate to promote our own values, knowing that the freedom and dignity of man are the ideals that motivate the quest for social justice. A free press, free trade unions, free political parties, freedom to travel, and freedom to create are the ingredients of the democratic revolution of the future, not the status quo of a failed past."

The founder of the Central Intelligence Agency said that propaganda is the first arrow of battle. A statement by Alexander Haig in 1982 to the Congress signals what the United States would attempt to do with the National Endowment for Democracy, that it would try to create and participate in the creation of [a false narrative of ] a failed past in the Soviet Union. And, in fact, as you know, all that went ahead.

Now, let's look at that for a second. I know that it's very difficult to believe this. I ask you to look at the second of the articles which I read, or to search for what I've written. You can read it and search for some of the documentation easily available. You will find that the mission statement of the National Endowment for Democracy, which functions as a kind of consortium bringing many of the pressures of the US government to bear inside the Soviet Union.

Destabilization requires external pressure and a manipulation of the internal situation to move political developments in the direction you desire. That's what targeting a country for destabilization involves. We deprive Cuba of sugar, of medicines etc. and that creates internal pressure, and utilizing the internal pressure, you insert yourself, create groups, diffuse ideas which are inconsistent with those prevailing and suitable to power, and you begin to work on that discontent. If the discontent deepens and spreads, you get better and better odds, and because the Soviet Union was already in a kind of crisis, which, as Abraham Becker said,

"the United States then systematically sought to intensify and exacerbate."

The National Endowment for Democracy and literally dozens and dozens of pseudo-private foundations, which I'll talk about in a second, went into the Soviet Union under the new umbrella of glasnost, created academic presses, created newspapers, created radio stations, and began to mobilize and to work upon the natural dissent and discontent that existed in the Soviet Union, not only because of the historical past but also because of the difficulties of the present as exacerbated by the United States and its Western partners.

If you look at how much money I'll just give you an idea of some of the projects that were involved, and this is just one agency. You have to recognize that if this was going on in the National Endowment for Democracy that there were many, many other channels of finance and influence into the Soviet Union that were working on this.

For instance, in 1984 the NED gave $50,000 to a book exhibit in the Soviet Union: America through American Eyes. At the book fair in 1985 (I mean I'm just selecting [a few]): $70,000 via the Free Trade Union Institute, which is part of the National Endowment, to Soviet Labor Review for research in publications on Soviet trade union and worker rights.

In 1986, $84,000 to Freedom House to expand the operations of two Russian language journals published in the US and distributed in the higher levels of the Soviet bureaucracy and intelligentsia, already an arresting description. Imagine the Soviet Union publishing two English-language journals in the Soviet Union during the 1980s and having them distributed and eagerly read in the highest levels of the United States bureaucracy and intelligentsia. I don't think that would have stuck very well in the United States.

In 1987, Freedom House, for the Athenaeum Press, rushed $55,000 for a Russian-language publication house in Paris to publish unofficial research conducted in the USSR by established scholars writing under pseudonyms. Now what does that mean? If you get down to 1989, we're talking already in the $200,000 category.

For instance, the Center for Democracy, which is related to the National Endowment for Democracy, began to create a center for assistance to independent and nationalist groups, including the Crimean Tatar movement for human and national rights. In other words, they began to finance ethnic and nationalist separatism, began to finance separate trade unions, began to finance their own academics etc., except this is open, but it's very large-scale, very large-scale.

I've done a little calculation and I can tell you that very large amounts of money were being spent, probably on the order of, by all the Western allies, minimum, inside the Soviet Union in the period from the mid to the late 1980s, one hundred million dollars a year -- a hundred million dollars a year to finance organizations which might begin like WESPAC but would then grow, develop, have outreach, which would become extraordinary with that kind of funding, and did finally change things.

If you look at perestroika in the Soviet Union, [we know it started when] Mr. Gorbachev became the Soviet leader. This is the background to the two stages in which we must understand perestroika. In the first stage it was clear that the Soviet leadership was desperate to find a way to renew socialism, that Mr. Gorbachev was bent upon the reformation of the notion of socialism, and that he had widespread support inside the Soviet Union.

There were genuine economic improvements which took place between 1986 and, sort of, let's say, the end of 1988, in the Soviet Union, as a result of those efforts, but the principal question we have to ask ourselves, since today we confront a fragmented, or, if you like, disassembled Soviet Union, the supremacy of nationalism, ethnic conflict, and Mr. Yeltsin -- who represents an extremely right-wing constituency at the present moment -- and the supremacy of capitalism. And a capitalist society is now being created in the Soviet Union, ending Mr. Gorbachev's experiment the crucial question to ask ourselves is a very simple one: how is it that between 1985 and 1990 a movement which began as an attempt to transform and renew socialism in the Soviet Union was supplanted by a right-wing movement aiming at the creation of a capitalist society in the Soviet Union? That is the key question. That is the key question because that's what's happened, and it's strange.

That's why many of us were puzzled about the contradictory evidence coming out of the Khrushchev [ sic ? Brezhnev?] era. It was very difficult to understand. At first, it seemed very positive, and then from the end of 1988, the fall of 1988, it became increasingly clear that things were going to pieces, that Mr. Gorbachev was either not able to control the forces which he had unleashed or that indeed he was bent upon creating, as I heard on the French radio in 1988 for the first time stated very clearly -- it arrested my attention: the purpose, said Mr. [name indistinct], on the radio in his not-bad French, was to create a regulated market economy. That was the purpose of perestroika, not when it began, but somehow something had happened.

In fact there's a lot of very interesting information out there now on the whole process. There was clearly a large dissatisfied set of strata in the Soviet intelligentsia. What has happened in the Soviet Union is more complex than the collapse through its own internal contradictions of the system of socialism in the Soviet Union. I really don't want to talk very much about whether the Soviet Union was a socialist society. There are people who say it was and people who say it wasn't. It's a long discussion between Trotsky and Stalin etc., but for my part I would say this: that the Soviet Union began as a genuine attempt to establish socialism. There were always in the Soviet Union people genuinely seeking to further socialism, and people who didn't give a damn. On balance, the thing we have to ask ourselves is whether the existence of the Soviet Union, as an apparently perceived socialist society, was a positive thing in the world equation at this particular time of history. I, on balance, having spent years in the United Nations, seeing that under the attacks of the Western countries, which in many cases were very ugly, most of the Third World countries which emerged in the late 1950s and 60s and early 70s were really only barely saved by the few sources of support which they got in the socialist world. And when the Soviet Union went down, they went down too; [for example] Angola, Mozambique, Nicaragua.

So in many respects I would have thought that the Soviet Union, for all its defects, stood as a positive development in history, with all of the horrors that took place. The United States has had its horrors. The question is this: did the Soviet Union collapse because socialism is unworkable and central planning doesn't work? No, it didn't. There was a crisis in the Soviet Union. I would argue that in the absence of the kind of pressure [that was applied], it's very difficult to weigh the balance. How important were the internal forces? How important were the difficulties experienced internally, and how important was the external pressure and the externally intervening force? How important that balance was is very difficult to get. We have to read through all a lot of intelligence to understand that, to begin to get a grasp of things, but that's our duty as people who are living history, or who seek to understand history. We have to try to do that, and my basic conclusion still at this moment is this: the Soviet Union today, in the absence of this extraordinarily crafty, well-thought-out, extremely costly strategy deployed by the Reagan administration, would be a society struggling through great difficulties. It would still be a socialist society, at least of the kind that it was. It would be far from perfect, but it would still be there, and I think, therefore, that Western intervention made a crucial difference in this situation. That's a judgment.

Conclusion

All right. Now, there is a question irrespective of that: what does it mean that the Soviet Union now has disappeared as a result of the kind of process that I'm talking about, a combination of internal difficulties and external pressure and intervention? Does it mean that socialism doesn't work? Does it mean that [there is no alternative to] the kind of capitalism that we live in today, which I think increasingly of as a return to irrational and savage 19th century capitalism? If you walk through the Bronx and Brooklyn and Harlem, how can you not conclude that we are living in an irrational and savage capitalism in which the leveling attacks of democracy have been dealt with, in which the possibility of remedying that situation by the constitutional means which exist in the normal political channels of our government are very small, that electoral changes, in other words, are not going to be very significant, until there's a mass mobilization of American people to make something happen.

If this is so, then the fact that what has happened in the Soviet Union has happened as it happened has no bearing whatsoever on our problems, and we should not be confused or pushed into consternation by it. Why? Primarily, for a very simple reason: The Soviet Union was conceived at a time when, in Marxist terms, it was not ready. The Soviet Union did not have the material base of abundance which would make it possible to create a society at once egalitarian and democratic because the struggle to create that base would require a degree of repression and authoritarianism, particularly heightened by external intervention and attack, which inevitably would distort the nature of socialism.

I sympathize with Isaac [name indistinct], but I think it's too simple when he says socialism in a backward country is backwards socialism. But the critical fact for us is this: the Soviet Union was a society conceived as a socialist society prior to the creation of the economic base which would permit the creation of a socialist society with ease. We live in a society whose capacity to produce, whose potential abundance is so great that the inability to make use of it is literally tearing this society apart.

We live in a society which is ready, and when I say that, I want to go back to the terms of the discussion on the constitutional conventions. Well, why can't we have economic democracy? What does economic democracy mean? Economic democracy inevitably would mean a number of these things: the accountability of the enormous concentrated power which exists in our society today to public democratic institutions. The planned rational use of resources at the public level, with democratic participation in the same manner that that planned rational use is conceived within the framework of the corporations, where the exercise of those decisions is not accountable. So it seems to me that in our day, when our society is riven by its contradictions, unable to use its abundance, unable to use its productive capacity in a rational, humane and democratic manner, that what is on the agenda today is the democratization of economic power, the rendering accountable of the enormous economic potential and power that exists in our society to make this a better and decent and democratic world.

Voilà.

End of lecture

Question Period

Well, dear friends, first of all, we have to have this serious debate because the real terms of the debate are rendered invisible by the absurd rhetoric and the absurd way in which we speak about ourselves, and by the mass media whose power and determination is to keep the real terms of the debate invisible. The real terms of the debate are: why is this society collapsing? Why does this economic machine not work? Who is responsible? If the people who are responsible are not going to do something about it, let them get the hell out.

Moderator : I know there have got to be lots of questions. We'll allot a certain amount of time. We'll try to recognize everyone.

Question : You've analyzed this quite well, but what does one do to change [the situation]?

Well, I think part of the problem I don't mean to be repetitious but I think that people are clearly immobilized and confused at the moment. I think one of the reasons that people are immobilized and confused is that the proper debate is not out there. It's not possible for people to express what they know from their experience to be true, to assert its truth. The public debate rejects our experience and understanding because the public debate is designed to contain us, to make us accept and even to believe in the superiority of this situation. I think people know what needs to be done out there. In a sense the quintessential problem confronting our country is the enormous concentrated power to shape people's lives, to define discourse, as [name indistinct] pointed out, which is accountable to no one. The democratization of that power means, I think, certainly radical changes in the structure of our society, but ones for which in many respects people are ready and which indeed are supported by most of the values that this society has lived by historically and attests to.

It seems to me it's really quite simple. We don't have democracy in the sense in which we normally understand ourselves to have democracy in which people often speak of us as having. We don't have that. Why do we not have it? Because of this eternal and now much more intensive, much more intense tension that has existed from the beginning between property and democracy, between popular majorities as the Federalists called them, disdainingly, and the rights of property. This now has become an enormous incubus on American society. We have enormous concentrated power for which nobody is accountable, and this is not acceptable. Roger and Me [the documentary film] is a reflection of a sensitivity that says, "We've got to talk about this, Roger. You're responsible for this." So I really think by not knowing these things, not changing the discourse of our lives, and the discourse in the public arena, coming to agreements amongst one another by hard work, by hard discussion, how can we know it's true?

And by the way, I don't think this can be done in the absence of action. That is to say, in a haltingly naive phase of my recent existence, I tried to convince some people in the Congress that we were headed into a really horrible situation, and they didn't want to know. They didn't. They don't want to believe what is uncomfortable for them to believe, so my decision was that you have to go into the trenches, that you have to work on projects that are going to materialize these ideas, that you have to work against plant closings, that you have to work for measures that alleviate the social burdens that exist in a city like New York, that you have to work for things while articulating these ideas because it seems to me it's only in the combination of action and debate of ideas that people will begin to understand the relevance and the necessity of a new discussion. You can't have in that sense -- I cede your point -- you can't have a drawing-room discussion which will prevail.

Certainly the people in the National Endowment for Democracy believe that. They don't just sit back and spend millions of dollars on printing books and making radio tapes and television shows. No. They created new political institutions. They then created new political parties, financing people like Arkady Murashev, the Inter-Regional Group in the Soviet Parliament, until recently. It doesn't exist anymore. The Inter-Regional Group was the group of pseudo-democrats, pro-capitalists, speaking, in many respects for the interests represented in the agglomeration of black market operations in the Soviet Union. Arkady Murashev was systematically cosseted, financed and trained by an organization in Washington very closely tied to certain agencies whose names we don't want to pronounce in the present circumstances. Murashev was a liaison man between Washington and Yeltsin. The National Endowment for Democracy gave $40,000 just for the faxes, and the printing machines and the telephones in the Initiatives Foundation, which was the organization that the Inter-Regional Group used to put out its messages, get itself organized, make contacts, etc. The United States was financing that operation. Arkady Murashev is now the chief of police of the city of Moscow.

This is heavy stuff. I mean, really, it's incredibly dramatic, but we mustn't go on in this vein because there are questions to be answered.

Question : Does every country have to go through this period of savage capitalism to become socialist?

No. I don't believe that. No.

Question: Bush seemed to like Gorbachev. Was Gorbachev foolish? Was he taken for a ride?

These are the great mysteries. There are, as you know, there are a different views. There are different theories about that. One of them is that Gorbachev was a mole, that Gorbachev was a deep-cover or Western intelligence agent. I believe that's exaggerated. I believe that's off the wall, but I do believe that there's an element here that's important to understand.

There was in the Soviet Union, as a result of the very success of the industrialization of the Soviet Union, an enormous alienated set of strata amongst the educated population because the Soviet elite absorbed people at a very small rate. It didn't reach out to large numbers of people. They were educating enormous numbers of people, professional scientific workers, managers, and these people were mostly urban people. They were the fruit, in many respects, of industrialization. At the same time, being urban people, they found themselves trapped in the most difficult conditions in the Soviet Union because in its industrialization the Soviet Union really ignored a lot of problems. Theyfound themselves, in many respects, in a similar situation as the United States, where the decay of urban areas, the lack of equipment, the lack of infrastructure, the lack of adequate facilities for health or education etc. became a real problem. They didn't have the resources to industrialize, to raise the standard of living in the really poor republics of the Soviet Union, and to deal with the urban problem, as we call it in the United States.

So these people were imagine all educated people earning this education and looking upon themselves as deserving of the advantages and prerogatives of their Western counterparts, living in the equivalent of New York City, but earning the wages of a skilled worker. They didn't like it. They felt shut out. They were angry, and it's those people that the neoliberals were recruiting, not just the American neoliberals but their own neoliberals. There were neoliberals in the Soviet Union. There were reactionary people in the Soviet Union this [name indistinct] operation out in Siberia, the so-called sociological think tank. There are people who, I don't know why Perhaps when you become very isolated from the world and separated from reality you conjure up the most amazing dreams in your mind. I think Marx called it idealism. In any case, these people were very much Western idealists and they came, frankly, into Moscow and Leningrad fervent believers in the need to embrace Western institutions because of their frustration, because of their understanding of their own past. Whether it was distorted or not, it's not for me to say. It's because of the way they viewed and felt about their past, because of their own personal frustration, because of the problems which were very real that they experienced by the Soviet leadership, by the Soviet economy and society. They were alienated, and that's where there was recruitment. When economic growth slowed down it made it much worse, and it spread the basis of recruitment very effectively.

There is a collection of essays which I think is quite remarkable and valuable, which gives you some background about the incredible contradictions in the Soviet Union, and how the Soviet Union, in fact, more than a decade and even two decades ago, was in fact being prepared for what is happening. It was ripening for some big bull shaking the tree, which is eventually what happened. That's the collection that The Monthly Review has published recently, After the Fall, something like that. After the Fall of the Soviet Union is really a very valuable collection of essays on the Soviet Union, or whatever it is after communism. Very useful stuff.

Question : Could you talk about Third World countries?

That's a really hard question. I've worked in Third World countries which were socialist countries and which were under attack. I worked in Mozambique in the beginning of the 1980s when the South African-Western-CIA operations were really beginning to [take a toll], and people were dying by the tens of thousands because the roads had been cut, and the supplies had been cut, and the health stations blown up, and I think that it was very hard for them to survive that. Socialism proved very frail in Mozambique, even though the leaders of the revolution had been born in armed struggle, formed by armed struggle, were dedicated to armed struggle, but the society just couldn't withstand that kind of pressure.

In some ways I think that's true of the Soviet Union. There was a war in the shadows waged against the Soviet Union on a massive scale, and what these events prove is the Soviet Union was insufficiently strong to stand up to those pressures, and I think this is all the more true in the Third World. I don't know, but I don't want to say that I know the answer, whether they should try to make that jump or not. I think that will depend on what happens in the Western world. I don't see any reason why the jump couldn't be made if the West, Western Europe and the United States, in particular North America saw [supported] significant transformation of the present system of power. Then it's not a problem, but with this massive opposition coming from the West, it's very difficult to survive.

Question (apparently edited from video recording): __________________

These same people today, and we're talking about within a few months, within the end of the year there being not 50,000 but between six and eight million unemployed people in Russia, 130 million people, labor force of 65 or 70 million, and I saw this same thing happening in East Germany.

I was very briefly in Humboldt University in 1989 or 1990, I can't remember which now. The whole situation was in upheaval, and I saw many intellectuals genuinely enraged by the arrogance of the Honecker regime, and at the same time, unfortunately, completely unaware of what would happen if that regime went down, taking everything, "really existing socialism," with it. And my question would be, OK, it's a question. You know the old version of this question used to be what about Stalin, but it's a little different now.

My problem is this: let's look at it in human terms, OK? Just forget ideology. What has happened as a result of the materialization of the dreams of the so-called reformers and democrats in the Soviet Union? What has happened is what has happened in Poland, and worse: that the standard of living of ordinary people is going to collapse, that old people will be destitute, that children will be without health care, that the transportation system is collapsing, that there will be no food distribution by spring, that people will starve, that there is continuous ethnic conflict. Now, the Soviet system of prices and of raw material supplies were such that enormous quantities that the supply system worked in a way which led to the waste of vast quantities of raw materials and semi-finished products. I mean vast quantities.

So the idea was to go in to work at the enterprise level to create incentives to create better accounting, a system of prices which would reflect the real value of these raw materials and not the fact that they could be replaced anytime you wanted because all you have to do is put an order in. It didn't matter what you did with them. It [the reform] was focused on the enterprise, on profit incentives, and this loosening of the tight bonds on the enterprise, really did lead to a recrudescence of output. For instance, between 1986 and 88 there was a 17% increase in housing production in the Soviet Union. There was a 30% increase in overall production. The production, the economy, accelerated in the period 1986-88. In those three years the economy accelerated, but as I said, there were two stages of perestroika. There was a stage of perestroika where the effects were quite beneficial, where it was clear that perestroika and glasnost were aiming to energize and develop andfree and move forward the Soviet Union.

As a friend of mine said, the only way to ensure the social development of the Soviet Union is to undertake these reforms, but there was another stage, a second stage beginning in late 1988 to, obviously, the end of 1991, where the forces that were unleashed utilized the reform program to destroy socialism, clearly to destroy socialism, and Mr. Gorbachev was either helpless before that or a willing apprentice of that process. I could not pretend to pronounce which of those was the case. It's very difficult to say.

On the other hand, I really don't know how anybody in his right mind could have conceived of the notion that the way forward for the Soviet Union -- and this was the quintessential statement of perestroika by the principle Soviet leaders in the mid-1980s -- the way for the Soviet Union was to integrate the Soviet Union into the world economy. I mean to an economist with any degree of sophistication and critical approach, that is sheer unadulterated madness. It's like saying that the North American free trade agreement will lead to real economic development in Mexico. It's absurd. I mean we know what those processes are. How can a much weaker, less industrialized Soviet Union hope to stand up against the economic forces arrayed against it and capable of penetrating it, once it declares its intention to integrate itself into the world economy? When I heard that, I said, "It's all over, boys. These people don't know that they're doing," and indeed, listening to Soviet economists as I did when I was still teaching in Paris, and meeting with some of these people, until 1989, I got the impression of two things: they had not the least actual understanding of what was going on in the West, and that their theoretical conceptions were taken out of a handbook by Voltaire making fun of the French aristocracy.

Transcript produced by Youtube "auto-caption" speech recognition software, corrected and edited by blog author, Dennis Riches.

Notes

[i] Davis Guggenheim (Director), Al Gore (Writer), "An Inconvenient Truth," Paramount Classics , 2006.

[ii] Jason W. Moore, Capitalism in the Web of Life (Verso, 2015), 267-268. "What is really needed is proper planning of available resources globally, plus a drive, through public investment, to develop new technologies that could work and, of course, a shift out of fossil fuels into renewables. Also, it is not just a problem of carbon and other gas emissions, but of cleaning up the environment, which is already damaged. All these tasks require public control and ownership of the energy and transport industries and public investment in the environment for the public good."

[iii] Sean Gervasi, " Western Intervention in the USSR ," Covert Action Information Bulletin No. 39, Winter 1991-92, 4-9.

[iv] Sean Gervasi, " Why Is NATO In Yugoslavia? " Global Research , September 9, 2001, https://www.globalresearch.ca/why-is-nato-in-yugoslavia/21008 . This paper was presented by Sean Gervasi at The Conference on the Enlargement of NATO in Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean , Prague, January 13-14, 1996.

[v] Gary Wilson, " Economist Exposed U.S.-German Role in Balkans ," Workers World News Service , Aug. 29, 1996, https://www.workers.org/ww/1997/gervasi.html . The short biography written here borrowed some wording and information from this obituary published by Workers World News Service .

[vi] Helen Thomas, " Reagan approves tough strategy with Soviets ," United Press International (UPI) , May 21, 1982, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/05/21/Reagan-approves-tough-strategy-with-Soviets/7761390801600/ .

[vii] Richard Halloran, " Pentagon Draws up First Strategy for Fighting a Long Nuclear War ," The New York Times , May 5, 1982, http://www.nytimes.com/1982/05/30/world/pentagon-draws-up-first-strategy-for-fighting-a-long-nuclear-war.html?pagewanted=all .

The reference appears to be to this article. The dates 1984-1988 may appear to be an error because the report referred to was written in 1982. However, the Defense Guidelines were focused on plans for the future, fiscal years of 1984-1988.

[viii] David Ignatius, " Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups ," The Washington Post , September 22, 1991, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/1991/09/22/innocence-abroad-the-new-world-of-spyless-coups/92bb989a-de6e-4bb8-99b9-462c76b59a16/?utm_term=.e9976e81e6d1 .

[ix] As we know from the perspective of 2017, the normalization of such interventions continued shamelessly, going from a bad habit to a deranged addiction. The political establishment in America now resorts to economic warfare, violence and military intervention as the solutions for every problem in international relations.

All images, except the featured, in this article are from the author.

The original source of this article is Global Research Copyright © Sean Gervasi and Dennis Riches , Global Research, 2019

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[Nov 30, 2019] Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR

Nov 30, 2019 | debatewise.org

Perestroika put the final nails in the USSR's economy One of the first main policies Gorbachev adopted was Perestroika – reform of the economy. Hoarding and reciprocal favours (blat) had been a means of survival in the Soviet Union, thieving to 'moonlight' was also common and this cost the regime a lot. The 'command-administrative' system had become obsolete in the Post-Industrial era and was curtailing economic development 1. To solve this, Gorbachev wanted to give enterprise managers control over contracts and introduce aspects of the market economy, to make it managers' responsibility to gain contracts and to make sure the enterprise makes a profit. However, in practice the way the enterprises operated remained unchanged except in terms – ministries rephrased their commands as contracts 2. Private enterprise was also permitted, which seemed to contradict Gorbachev's claim to be committed to Marxist-Leninist thought which was vehemently opposed to capitalism which Marxist's argue exploit the proleteriat – so to actually create a class of capitalists who (according to Marxist doctrine) would exploit the workers who were supposed to be living in socialist – i.e. 'classless society' seemed contradictory to the very ideological concept the regime's power was based upon. A small amount of private enterprise emerged, but the profiteering was very much resented by the general population – goods and services were sold for four or five times their subsidized price due to shortages. Another aspect of Perestroika was entry into the market economy – many of the social benefits given by the enterprises had to be done away with, as they could not make a profit and afford to maintain the benefits, resulting in a stagnant economy occuring simultaneously with a collapsing social welfare system. Gorbachev's reforms did not work and only succeeded in hastening the economic collapse that was inevitable.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because... Glasnost facilitated Opposition to Concentrate against the Regime Allowing freedom of thought from the 'mono-ideological controls' that existed for decades and allowing pluralist thought and leadership meant a weakening of power for the Communist Party – it had to convert into a proper parliamentary party to survive. Furthermore, in a regime based on oppression and propaganda, when these are removed and freedom of speech and freedom of the media are introduced, nasty elements about the system in the past are going to be revealed, and when there is 70 years of repression being reported all at once, it is inevitable there will be extreme hostility toward those responsible – the Party 1, this especially fuelled the anger of the nationalities who had been oppressed and triggered a nationalist movement.

The population were dissatisfied with the dire state of affairs and could voice their discontent openly with glasnost, which led to Gorbachev becoming very unpopular by 1991, in which year the economy had contracted by 18% 2, people were also very concerned over the incompetence of the command-administrative system and irresponsibility of the leadership with regards to the 1986 Chernobyl power station disaster 3.

In a state committed to one ideology, the removal of mono-ideological controls, and the ability of other ideological persuasions to come to power meant the Party had lost its RIGHT to govern the people unless the people themselves WANTED the Party to rule. Thus, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had to win the support of the people in order to govern effectively. However, in a society that was becoming increasingly liberal and 'bourgeois' (the USSR was largely middle class, private property was protected and capitalism was legalised), the people had to believe in socialist ideology – which would have been almost impossible to achieve.

Gorbachev's reforms themselves undermined some of the principle features of socialist rule in the USSR, e.g. atheism, mono-ideological control, one-party state, economic monopoly and the suspendability of law. Gorbachev's ideology itself – his focus on 'all-human values' instead of the class struggle, the rule of law, international peace and proper parliamentary representation have more resonance with John Stuart Mill than Karl Marx 4 – Gorbachev was subconsciously moving the USSR in this ideological direction.

With democratization and pluralist thought permitted, Gorbachev found himself operating within an increasingly wide political spectrum – with the reformist 'democrats' on one side and the conservative Communist Party members on the other. There was a constant power struggle between the two and Gorbachev dealt with this by constantly playing one side against the other and compromising. One of Gorbachev's critics at the time said this was like trying to marry a hare to a hedgehog. The two sides were very much irreconcilable and instead of trying to defeat one side, Gorbachev sat on the fence and as a result his policies were constantly inconsistent – you cannot mix radical reforms with conservatism 5. The dangers of this were apparent when Shevardnadze, Foreign Minister at the time, resigned because he warned a dictatorship was approaching, Gorbachev ignored this threat and dismissed this claim with overconfidence 6.

1 Kagarlitsky, B. Russia under Yeltsin and Putin: neo-liberal autocracy, London: Pluto 2002

2 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

3 Haynes, M., Russia: Class and Power, 1917-2000, London: Bookmarks 2002

4 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

5 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991

6 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991 No because... Regional Nationalism and Independence Movements These original flaws in the system were largely responsible for its own downfall – in particular the nationalities issue – the decision to maintain the Empire without granting real power to the nationalities whilst simultaneously repressing them left most of the nationalities feeling bitter when glasnost revealed the truth about how they had been treated in the past and democratisation gave them the power to chose representatives who would really represent people's interests (the nationalist movement) whilst at the same time being given by Gorbachev an appetite for power – a fatal combination.

The wealthier regions wanted a separation from the USSR because of the feeling they were being milked from the centre and many other regions wanted to become independent because they did not want to be part of an economic disaster area which became apparent when the Donbass miners who had no commitment to nationalism thought their future would be safer if the Ukraine wasn't part of the USSR 1.

The nationalist movement emerged when freedom of speech, media and association along with democratisation and the loss of fear of repression allowed people to voice pride in their nation and resentment at past repressions as well as the ongoing special treatment of Russians in the Regions, who had access to better housing and other special privileges the locals did not.

Certain Republics felt nationalism more strongly than others, most notably the Baltic States who felt a strong cultural attachment to the West and felt they were being unfairly occupied. Gorbachev's mistake here was to downplay the importance of nationalism and not treat the Baltic States as a special case 2. After all, most of the population of the USSR wished to preserve the Union – 76% voted to preserve the Union in March 1991 (except the Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia who did not conduct the referendum) 3. After the failed coup, most states declared their independence, even if they did so with reluctance, as there was a general feeling there was no alternative. Gorbachev tried to persuade the Republics not to become fully independent. However, in early December, the Ukraine held a referendum where the population voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, even after Gorbachev stated "there can be no Union without Ukraine", on 8th December, Yeltsin met with the Ukrainian and Bielorussian leader and declared a formal end to the USSR and the establishment of the Confederation of Independent States which they invited the other states to join.

There was nothing left Gorbachev could do, democratisation had brought about the means for independence and Gorbachev didn't feel he could argue with people's wishes carried out through democratic means and, on 25th December he resigned with regret.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996

3 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996 Yeltsin Factor Boris Yeltsin emerged as the true hero and strong leader for the fearlessness to condemn the coup – in a press conference afterwards Yeltsin ordered Gorbachev around undermining his position, then used his institutional powers derived from democratization to appoint Egor Gaidar, an economist dedicated to laissez-faire economics, as his Finance Minister and suspension of the CPSU pending an investigation into the coup. Gorbachev half heartedly argued against this but it was no use – he was seen as a weaker leader along with discontent over his policies, whilst Yeltsin's radicalism was keeping pace with developments and his popularity at an all-time high, Gorbachev's position was also much less weaker without the Communist Party. Also, the Soviet Union really could not exist without the Communist Party arguably as they had political and economic monopoly on society and the Communist Party went from controlling these aspects of society to ceasing to exist, the Soviet Union could not function and the economy spiralled out of control. Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... August 1991 Coup Counter Productive, Bringing About What It Sought To Prevent - The End of the Soviet Union By August 1991 Gorbachev's popularity was at an all-time low both in the Party and outside it. Despite being advised by some of his staff to sign the Treaty agreement granting the republics real autonomy before going on holiday and some suspicious circumstances he should have been more questioning about, he planned on signing the agreement when he returned. This was a big mistake and allowed the conservatives to stage a coup. The Emergency Committee made no reference whatsoever to Marxism-Leninism or the class struggle in their speech, meaning it was a coup in the hope of returning the Soviet Union to 'normal' i.e. an Empire controlled from Moscow and putting the final nails in the coffin of socialism in the USSR 1.

The failed coup triggered the very thing it sought to prevent – the break-up of the Soviet Union 2.

1 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... The System Needed to Change in Order to Survive in the Longer Term; That Mikhail Gorbachev's Reforms Failed Showed that the USSR Could Not be Saved By the Gorbachev era, all hopes of fulfilling the original Marxist-Leninist dream were gone and most did not feel passionately about communism, even within the Party. There was a general acknowledgement that the USSR could not continue in the same way as before – Andropov, Gorbachev's predecessor also realised this and set about changing society through repressive measures such as harsh labour discipline enforced by cutting payments from workers for work deemed poor quality and restrictions on the sale of alcohol and prohibition of alcohol on official occasions was felt overly repressive and for many – Gorbachev was seen as a positive, energetic leader who would overcome the USSR's problems in a less repressive manner. With economic stagnation and an economy dependent on the exportation of natural resources to survive 1, an unsuccessful war (Afghanistan) and an ageing Party Membership to combat, Gorbachev was the candidate for those who wanted change or at least realised change could no longer be postponed 2.

Autocracies survive due to repressing their people to the extent that they are not given the freedoms required to change their government, rather than because the people want them to stay in power. Mikhail Gorbachev's conscience and sense of responsibility for his population dictated that the system could no longer be propped up like this, and that the people needed and deserved the freedoms and basic human rights they had been denied for decades. That the system could not encorporate such freedoms meant that the system morally should not be allowed to perpetuate itself, and thus the Soviet Union fell apart because it was unrepresentative and did not support the population's human rights means the fall of the USSR should be applauded, not mourned for its' population.

1 Volkogonov, D.A. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire: political leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, edited and translated by M. Shukman, London: HarperCollins 1998

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... War with Afghanistan Drained USSR of Patriotic Morale The war in Afghanistan was a key contributing factor to the breakup of the USSR. Reuveny and Prakash argue that the Soviet-Afghan war contributed to undermining the Soviet Union in many ways. First, it discredited the Red Army, and impacted negatively upon the image of the Red Army as a strong, almost invincible force, which gave nationalist movements in the Republics hope that they might succeed in attaining independence after all. Second, it impacted upon leadership perception on the usefulness of utilising the military to keep the union intact and as a force for foreign intervention. Third, it created new forms of political participation, which had begun to impact upon media reporting even before glasnost, and began the first calls for glasnost, as it created a number of war veterans, who went on to form organisations which weakened the total authority of the CPSU 1.

1 Reuveny, Rafael, and Prakash, Aseem, 'The Afghanistan War and the Breakdown of the Soviet Union', Review of International Studies (1999), 25:693-708 Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... It was dead from the time Stalin took control Gorbachev finished it off, but Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev etc. really killed it. Lenin had nothing to do with that, he was a socialist-marxist, not a communist. You obviously don't know the difference. Learn it before you blindly yell your opinion into the dark of the internet.

[Nov 30, 2019] Gorbachev Called Coward, Traitor by Former Comrade - Los Angeles Times

Nov 30, 2019 | www.latimes.com

Advertisement Gorbachev Called Coward, Traitor by Former Comrade By VIKTOR K. GREBENSHIKOV May 28, 1992 12 AM

Share Close extra sharing options SPECIAL TO THE TIMES MOSCOW -- Yegor K. Ligachev, once the second-most-powerful man in the Kremlin, on Wednesday called his former boss and comrade, Mikhail S. Gorbachev, a coward and a traitor.

"I met many Communists who spent decades in labor camps in the permafrost zone but retained their faith in the party," the erstwhile Politburo hard-liner said. "I fail to understand its general secretary who spent three days in the best health resort the country has by the warm sea, then called for its dissolution."

Ligachev, as straight-talking and opinionated as ever, met with journalists to present his book "The Gorbachev Riddle," a personal chronicle of the perestroika years he helped to shape before the Soviet president and party leader gave him the boot in August, 1990.

The book presentation, attended by a standing-room-only audience in the Moscow House of Journalists, served as a forum for Ligachev, 71, to reiterate his views and credo.

Advertisement

"When life proved me wrong, I did change my perceptions," he said with quiet dignity, "but I never changed my principles. Unlike Gorbachev, I still adhere to socialism, and I still think this is the future for my country." The white-haired native of Siberia said his only desire is to reunite the nation, introduce peace and stability and build a "new, refurbished Soviet Union."

A foe of both Gorbachev and Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin, Ligachev contended that his country is in danger of becoming a "raw materials supplier and semi-colony" for the capitalist world as the Russian leadership presses on with its economic reforms.

"The ban on the Communist Party, an organization uniting about 20 million members, cannot but diminish the chances for a peaceful resolution of the country's current political, economic and social crisis," Ligachev said, referring to a ban that Yeltsin ordered last Nov. 6.

Few questions during the presentation ceremony concerned Ligachev's 303-page book itself; instead, many people sought out his view of recent political developments. Advertisement The most persistent question put to Ligachev was why none of the former leaders of the Communist Party had volunteered to defend it at hearings on its record ordered for July by the Constitutional Court of Russia.

Asserting that it is Gorbachev who is legally obligated to take on this task, Ligachev said that the party "had been betrayed by its general secretary" and that it is now up to "ordinary Communists" to defend the party's 73-year record in leading the Soviet Union.

Ligachev, who became a voting, or full, member of the ruling party Politburo in 1985, the same year Gorbachev came to power, remains the only publicly active figure from the defunct body who voices support for his old principles.

Others, such as former Vice President Gennady I. Yanayev, are now in prison for their roles in last August's unsuccessful attempt at overthrowing Gorbachev when he was on vacation at a Crimean beach resort.

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev Might as Well Have Been Working for the CIA by Olga Zinovieva

Notable quotes:
"... In 1979 at one of my public speeches ("How to kill an elephant with a needle"), I was asked what in my opinion was the most vulnerable point in the Soviet system. I replied: the one that is considered the most reliable, namely, the apparatus of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, within it - the Central Committee, and within the latter - the General Secretary. ..."
"... The reader should not think that I gave that idea to Cold War strategists. They realized that without me. One of the employees of the Intelligence Service told me that soon they (i.e. forces of the West) would put their man on "the soviet throne". ..."
"... What distinguishes this Cold War operation is that the method of "killing an elephant with a needle" was applied against a less powerful, yet mighty opponent, to obviate the possibility of a "hot war" becoming dangerous to the point where the advantages of the West could disappear, as happened in the war of Germany versus the Soviet Union in 1941-1945. ..."
"... The method in question made it possible to avoid risk and losses, save time and win by proxy. The method invented by the weak to fight stronger opponents was adopted by the most powerful forces on the planet in their war for domination over the entire human race. ..."
Nov 17, 2015 | russia-insider.com

More than anyone else, he was responsible for handing the US and UK their greatest strategic victory ever Alexander Zinoviev Tue, | 1300 words 8,718 31 MORE: History


This post first appeared on Russia Insider
RI continues with a series of articles about the life and works of the brilliant postwar Russian philosopher, author, and dissident, Alexander Zinoviev.

This time, his famous essay on how the West destroyed the USSR is introduced by his widow Olga, chairwoman of the Zinoviev Club at Rossiya Sevodnya, a major Russian news agency.

How different US-Russia relations were back then...

Zinoviev often said that judging from Gorbachev's behavior, one cannot exclude the possibility that he was working for the West, but that at the end of the day, it didn't really matter, because what he did served the West's interests exactly.

lllustrations are by Zinoviev himself, provided to RI by his family.

Previous articles in the series are: The End of Communism in Russia Meant the End of Democracy in the West and Zinoviev to Yeltsin in 1990: "The West Applauds You for Destroying Our Country" , This Great Satirist Gloried in the Absurdities of the USSR (Alexander Zinoviev)

Translated from Russian especially for RI by Sergei Malygin


Introduction

Before you, dear readers, you have one of the seven chapters of Zinoviev's famous essay 'How to Kill an Elephant With a Needle', written in 2005, a year before the author's death.

The material for it derived from recollections of the numerous meetings Alexander Zinoviev had with representatives of the West's political elite who were responsible for the formation of policy with respect to the USSR.

1016196444.jpg
Olga Zinovieva - an active voice in contemporary Russia
The idea underlying little episodes, including historical examples, is as elementary and limpid as spring water: how to work out the weak spot of the enemy, adversary, scoundrel or opponent, irrespective of their number and armaments, both literally and metaphorically.

With graphic clarity, as if it were a lesson, he provides a whole series of examples, beginning with his own example involving a compass but then using classical examples from history, such as the episode with Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador conqueror of Mexico, who demonstrated extraordinary quick-wittedness in his detection of the adversary's weak spot (the Indians).

Astonished by the attack of a handful of Pizarro's warriors on their leader, whom they regarded as a god and who in their conception was invulnerable and untouchable, the Indians capitulated without a fight. "Pizarro", wrote Alexander Zinoviev, "had divined the enemy army's weak spot, its Achilles heel".

In this essay he writes about how the Soviet Union's weak spot turned out to be the top echelons of the leadership.

Zinoviev was often called a dissident, but he never thought of himself as such. He was a critic of the Soviet system, but he was not its enemy.

In his later years he often repeated that, if he had known what a dreadful fate awaited the USSR, he would not have written a single critical book or article about it.

Olga Zinovieva


How to kill an elephant with a needle

I was exiled to the West in 1978, when the thirty-year course of the Cold War hit a radical turning point.

Cold War leaders have studied Soviet society since the beginning. The new science of Sovietology has been developed employing thousands of experts and involving hundreds of research centers.

Within it, a separate branch of Kremlinology has appeared. It pedantically studied the structure of the Soviet State, the party apparatus, the central party apparatus, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the Politburo and employees of the government apparatus individually.

But for a long time (perhaps until the end of the 1970s) the main focus was on the ideological and psychological manipulation of the general population, the creation of pro-Western masses of Soviet citizens who in actuality would play the role of the West's "fifth column" and (intentionally or unintentionally) working on the ideological and moral disintegration of the Soviet population (not to mention other functions). Thus the dissident movement was created.

In short, the main work was carried out through the destruction of Soviet society "from below". Important achievements had been made that became factors in the future counterrevolution. But they were not significant enough to bring the Soviet society to its collapse.

By the end of the 1970s, the Western Cold War leaders understood that. They realized that the government system formed the basis of Soviet communism and the party apparatus was at its core. Having thoroughly studied the party apparatus, the nature of relations between its members, their psychology and qualifications, selection methods and its other characteristics, Cold War leaders concluded that Soviet society could be destroyed only from the top, by destroying its system of government.

To destroy the latter it was necessary and sufficient to destroy the party apparatus, starting from its top level - the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. So they shifted their main efforts in that direction.

They found the most vulnerable place in the Soviet social structure. It was not difficult for me to guess this shift, because I had an opportunity to observe and study that hidden part of the Cold War.

In 1979 at one of my public speeches ("How to kill an elephant with a needle"), I was asked what in my opinion was the most vulnerable point in the Soviet system. I replied: the one that is considered the most reliable, namely, the apparatus of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, within it - the Central Committee, and within the latter - the General Secretary.

To Homeric laughter in the audience, I said that "if you put your man in that position he will ruin the party apparatus, thus starting a chain reaction resulting in the breakdown of the entire government system and administration. The consequence will be the breakdown of the entire society". I referred to the precedent of Pizarro.

The reader should not think that I gave that idea to Cold War strategists. They realized that without me. One of the employees of the Intelligence Service told me that soon they (i.e. forces of the West) would put their man on "the soviet throne".

At that time I did not believe that was possible. I spoke hypothetically of the General Secretary as the West's "needle". But Western strategists already considered that to be a realistic proposition. They developed a plan for winning the war: take the supreme power in the Soviet Union under their control by promoting "their" man to the position of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, force him to destroy the CPSU apparatus, implement an overhaul ("perestroika") that would start a chain reaction and consequent breakdown of the entire Soviet society.

Such a plan was realistic then because the crisis at the top level of Soviet power was already evident, due to the senescence of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU.

Soon "their" man in the role of the Western "needle" appeared (if he was not "prepared" in advance). Admittedly, the plan worked well.

What distinguishes this Cold War operation is that the method of "killing an elephant with a needle" was applied against a less powerful, yet mighty opponent, to obviate the possibility of a "hot war" becoming dangerous to the point where the advantages of the West could disappear, as happened in the war of Germany versus the Soviet Union in 1941-1945.

The method in question made it possible to avoid risk and losses, save time and win by proxy. The method invented by the weak to fight stronger opponents was adopted by the most powerful forces on the planet in their war for domination over the entire human race.


Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

That would be too smart for them and plainly impossible.

Zinoviev was wrong about it.

There is Russian saying that a fool is more dangerous than an enemy. it is what happened.

Constantine Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

You put it pretty well. I also think that Gorby wasn't a conscious traitor, but he was not capable to handle the necessary tasks for the reform of the USSR. He botched it badly.

Yeltsin, on the other hand, was exactly that: a traitor. And he proved it time and again.

A final note: Pizarro conquered Peru, not Mexico.

Serge Krieger Constantine 4 years ago ,

Did not notice that about Pizarro, Kortez conquered Mexico.
Gorby was not fit and did not have what it takes to be Central Secretary and he had no idea about how power is used. In times of restructuring and reforms power cannot be diffused and undermined which is what he did, but must be concentrated. Making quite a few heads roll would cause the rest to fall in line including Yeltsin, who was a typical opportunist who smelt weakness and rot at the top and used it.
Note that after Lenin death and until, Stalin by brutal measures concentrated power in his hands, there was a lot of talk but little deeds. Just like in US Congress. Same happened under Gorby, everybody started talking, then everybody started smearing face with feces and glorifying the West until they undermined any chance for positive change. What should have been done is to make heads indeed roll at the top especially in Central Asia and Caucasus republics where corruption was running amok and local intelligencia born by USSR own efforts started thinking too much of themselves. Then when everybody would see there is the Boss in Kremlin, things could have been started to move .
In China Deng had to deal with Hua Guo Feng and others before he started reforms after concentrating power in own hands.
Gorby, well, was not cut for the role. Every few months new ideas, busy body and not very straight talker. He was too soft and lacked abilities to be leader of such a country and had none in his surrounding to shore his deficiencies up.

hoss2013 Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

Interesting and logical. Did Putin do this (heads roll) to concentrate power?

Serge Krieger hoss2013 4 years ago ,

He did , but me think not enough. also, it is not exactly the way it used to be. I think Putin knew what he was doing. Unlike Gorby who had all of the power in his hands and could do things we are talking about, Putin had to maneuver. His position was not unassailable when he came to power and much later. He had to be more of a fox. He is also not a cruel man, like Stalin was.

chavez Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

It wouldn't be impossible, even today there are some questionable characters in very high Kremlin positions, and if any of them manage come to power they will undermine Russia's interests as has happened in the not so distant past.

I agree that in the case of Gorby he was more of a fool than a Western agent. The Westerners knew how to charm, flatter and entertain him and he was only too willing to please them and lap up their manipulation and false promises.

Serge Krieger chavez 4 years ago ,

It would be impossible. They do not and did not understand how things work in Russia and they almost always are wrong. Gorby stupidity was all the required, Yeltsin was a dark horse and Coup leaders should have studied more of Lenin how to make coups.

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago • edited ,

1:23 and 6:54 Play Hide

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

You underestimate greatly the power of western cunningness and persuading.

Serge Krieger Jack Bluebird 4 years ago ,

With Gorby no cunning was necessary. The guy was plain sucker and not fit for the office. Looks like he got picked for 2 qualities. Youth and good health and having no enemies.

In those years we had new General secretary every year.

Jack Bluebird Serge Krieger 4 years ago ,

I am so sad that the great Soviet Union for which so many many millions of brave and honest people gave everything they had and their life in the end got ripped apart due to this corrupted idiot. Furthermore I am surprised beyond any belief that no one from KGB or Soviet Army arranged for this fool to get smoked when they saw what was about to commence. Today it is still the biggest mystery to me. I am aware that USSR had some problems but those were truly nothing compared to what Russia and all the other post Soviet countries faced after USSR got destroyed by that cock sucker. 300 000 000 people more or less got their future crippled and robbed because of 1 ( one ) western puppy. I just still today cannot believe that happened. Looks like of course he had some KGB staff on his payroll but in the end I just cannot believe that no one took him to Siberia and burried him over there on time.

What is even more sad is that today this idiot is prancing freely across Russia even after almost everyone today sees that because of him they got Yeltsin and his mobsters that stole their future.

I do admire Russian people and respect them for everything they wnt through their past but some things are just not logical for a 12 year old child and definitely not for a nation that gave the most chess masters and champions to the world.

I would definitely like your comment on this if you are a citizen of ex USSR.

Vtran 4 years ago ,

lets look at it a different way ... Who was Gorbachev not Working FOR !
-
Gorbachev Was not Working For the USSR, Gorbachev Was not working for the People of the USSR ...
-
now it is easier to see who Gorbachev the Traitor was Working For / and Where Gorbachev Loyalties Were !

Boris Jaruselski 4 years ago ,

An emotional summary, ...NOT a intelligent one!

Mihail Sergeyevitch is a Russian patriot, just as good as many more millions of Russians are! But Mihail Sergeyevitch fallen for the pretence of honesty, so skilfully played by the west, as he presupposed the existence of GENTLEMEN being in power in the west! ...and he wasn't the only one of the Russian politicians, ...Dimitry Anatolyevitch fallen for the same, ...when the agreed for a no-fly zone to be established over Libya!

There are NO gentlemen in western politics! ZIPPO, ZILCH, NADA! There are O N L Y BASTARDS, one worse then the next!

teddyfromcd Boris Jaruselski 4 years ago ,

i think gorbachev can in a sense be called traitorious to the RUSSIAN nation -- whether it was under the USSR or not...

but precisely because he allowed himself to be ''open'' in ways that the west needed for the leadership to be open -- at the exact time when russia at the core of the USSR NEEDED someone to REFUSE to be ''open'' in exactly the way the USA wanted -- in order to get rid of the 'perception' of a 'failing, geriatric ussr" - and thus , be ''welcomed" by the ''world" which to gorbachev WAS the west...

to the nearly complete ignoring of THE MAJORITY of other nations (such as we see PUTIN achieve differently) -

he became the instrument of what was to follow -- yeltsin and the collapse of not just the USSR -- but RUSSIA'S governance itself

which further opened russia to the pillaging through the oligarchic collaborators with their western masters...

i think GORBACHEV LOVES RUSSIA -- i really do -- i think he is as russia in his soul and heart as can be...

but he was simply

WRONG in his putting FAITH and confidence, just as BORIS correctly argues,

in having GENTLEMEN AS COUNTERPARTS from the west. -- reagan the ACTOR?

excuse me -- THAT IS ALL that gorbacheV should HAVE KEPT IN MIND. to know that the USA was and IS NOT A ''partner"

as the russians, including putin -- like to say out of POLITENESS.

he should have realized that the WEST ARE NOT -- nd never have been 'THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN"

but EXTRAORDINARILY DECEITFUL plunderers and pillagers.

AND it has been like that since the beginning of the USA - TODAY -- and WILL continue to be so.

it is in its DNA

just as TRUE compassion -- faith, ethics, morality, a sense of TRUE justice and brotherhood of all humanity

IS IN THE DNA Of the RUSSIAN SOUL.

in other words -- the MISTAKE of gorbachev -- and yeltsin -- who were RIVALS --
was to believe or WISH to believe THAT THE AMERICANS and west --

were and are EQUALS AS PEOPLE GUIDED BY ETHICS ABOVE politics, economics, personal glory, even nationality --

tht the west -- reagan etc -- were actually MEN OF HONOR.

THAT WAS HIS -- and ANY russian leaderships; GREATEST mistake.

perhaps gorbachev did not HAVE to 'work for the CIA" -- AND THE author is probably correct -- he didn'/t HAVE to - DIRECTLY \\\

it was enough that gorbachev suffered from ''infatuation" with the west....

and so -- whatever HIS intentions or beliefs were -- his ACTS -- in themselves BECAME acts of treason to his great country and people.
for what he did was -- to try to present THEM -- IN HIS ''glasnost and perestroika"

some of the 'freedom of the west" -- that the russian people REALLY did NOT need -- but could have a freedom of THEIR very own

INDEPENDENT of ''copying or emulating" the west...

because IN RUSSIA AND AMONG the russian people

was ALL THE STRENGTH of their own freedom and choice and prosperity they WOULD EVER NEED!

WE SEE THAT TODAY.

bartmaeus 4 years ago ,

Gorby was in cahoots with the Council of 300, so it is alleged by Dr. John Coleman, former MI6.

Jack Bluebird bartmaeus 4 years ago • edited ,

I do agree with that. He was and still is a mason.

Prole Center 4 years ago ,

Hearing on U.S. Security Strategy Post-9/11
Testimony before House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
November 6, 2007
( http://www.hks.harvard.edu/...

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage:

Well, indeed. I think we probably didn't get off to the
right foot in the Cold War. But, you know, we did apply smart power.

And let me give you an example -- I was being facetious about the
Chou En-lai French Revolution comment. But one of the advisers to
Gorbachev was a fellow by the name of Yakovlev -- he's the fellow who
came up with the term perestroika.

He actually, back in the bad days of the Cold War, when we were
tightly constraining the number of Soviet citizens who might come here,
he actually studied at Columbia. And he studied under a professor who
taught him about pluralism.

And Yakovlev went back to the then-Soviet Union with an idea that pluralism could work.

And 20 years later, he was the adviser. So it took a while to realize that investment, but we realized that investment.

Prole Center 4 years ago ,

I called this out as a real possibility 2 years ago! I actually think that Gorbachev was just a naive fool and the real CIA agent was his top adviser, Yakovlev. Here is what I wrote back then:

". . . after extensive research by the Prole Center research team, it has come to light that Alexander Yakovlev, Gorbachev's chief advisor on glasnost
and perestroika, was very likely a CIA penetration agent – an agent of influence. He could have been either a witting or unwitting asset of U.S. intelligence."

This information was included as part of a brief book review I did. Here is the link to the full article:

https://prolecenter.wordpre...

Jack Bluebird 4 years ago • edited ,

I still cannot believe how many naive people live today in Russia. There are STILL plenty of people who believe that gorbachev was just a "clumsy" person in charge of the "task too big to handle".

I would like to remind you that even after 2 "sudden" deaths of Soviet leaders ( Andropov and Chernenko ) before this traitor USSR was just in a period of economic stagnation and certainly not a deep recession. Several independent prominent western economists have also collaborated that.

What happened is just so obvious to me that it really cannot get any simpler.

Gorbachev was a very weak minded person who even wasnt a true believer in Soviet principles and even less so even less capable manager and organizer. He was a bureaucrat whos wife was terminally ill and who was just a simpleton who allowed himself to be seduced by the western propaganda and few full stores even though he obviously knew nothing of the background principles of how world economy functioned even then.

Apparently he was way out of his league when meeting with Reagan who was a smart brave and a cunning man I do have to admit that.
Gorbachev did what he only knew he could do. He betrayed the 70 years or hard work of Soviet people and building of different world because he thought that world will admire this moron and traitor if he arranges the collapse of USSR and the "end of the Cold War".

Of course there is another side of this coin.

What the actually did was "below the table" arrangement with the US that he would be able to send his wife to a treatment abroad if he made the USSR disappear and that he would be obviously well compensated for this evil deed. Even today he is being funded by the western government through his "charity funds" Green Cross and Gorbachev foundation.

This guy made the dissolution of USSR on purpose make no mistake about it. It was organized to make it seem as it happened "accidentally" and as a part of "democratic process" so less question would be asked. Apparently even that idiotic strategy worked which seems rather incredible for a country that provided so many smart people and was a leading chess nation for decades. Even Albania would be skeptical about it.

Of course there is a silver lining to this. He could not do this all by himself. He had powerful friends in KGB and army who helped him in his deeds. Why? Because they were greedy people who lost faith in CP. With the help of these people Gorbachev introduced extremely vile version of capitalism to the 300 000 000 people while he and his "comrades" extracted currency reserves from the sabotaged USSR and hid them in western banks and off shore companies.

To corroborate my point I will point out few facts:

1. only when gorbachev came to power Chernobyl catastrophe happened
2. he is the person who sent top Soviet military commanders AND THEIR WHOLE FAMILIES to move from East Germany to the PLAINS of Ukraine and live like dogs for months until their poor quality appartements were finished while being given nothing in exchange from Helmut Kohl but a "Danke schon". No sane 6 year old would do that and certainly not a reasonable and intelligent but honest Soviet leader.
3. He was the person who forced the Energia rocket with Polyus payload to be rushed beyond all reason and that is what caused its demised and failure to put first ever weapon system into orbit.
4. He allowed for the Berlin wall to fall like a brick overnight and did nothing to stop that
5. He DIRECTLY NEGLECTED results of referendum of Soviet people in 1991. who with 72% of votes wanted to preserve USSR
6. He arranged for NATO not to move eastward ORALLY WITHOUT ANY KIND OF AGREEMENT!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??! WHO DOES THIS!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!? BUAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA
7. He himself made the USSR formally and willingly the thing of past in the end of 1991.

No one sane can believe that USSR dissolved itself in the time when there was no war had a stable economy and strong army. This guy did it with the help of corrupt highly positioned KGB and military personnel and of course CIA who helped them to transfer 50 000 000 000 US dollars ( 1991. value ) out of USSR for their own benefit.

To conclude: Gorbachev is a person of poor intellect, no love for Soviet or Russian principles or state, but also a very sane traitor of USSR and Russia as well and also a member of masonic clan who sold it for his personal interest. Just because he was playing dumb doesnt mean he is not the biggest criminal in Soviet history. Make no mistake about it. Even the dumbest person in Russia cannot believe that all this factors fell in place "like chips". The probability for that is exactly 0 ( zero ).

FreeDilfin 4 years ago ,

Oh come on, this is not news. This was pretty evident. Initially he was not cooperating with CIA. But CIA offered him something he couldn't resists. Nobel peace price, enormous wealth, safe passage to US etc. Health care etc.

greensquare • 4 years ago ,

Wasn't Gorbachev from Russia's frontier lands (sometimes called Ukraine)? Not only that, but from a place which joined the Nazis in their atrocities? I've also heard he took big US money to step down. Bad source on that one though.

Veri1138 greensquare 4 years ago ,

Just look where Gorbachev set up his institute... The Presidio.

Yeltsin was a true puppet of The West.

Antonis Chatzoulis 2 years ago ,

My gut Feeling: he was a spy with inside support.

In the US a President like this would have been stopped (by a crazy loner?! :-)

So who helped the needle from inside?

Btw: after his career Gorby held well payed talks in the West as Obama, Clinton and the like.

william beeby 4 years ago ,

Gorby begat Yeltsin which was his ultimate sin .

musosnoop 4 years ago • edited ,

I disagree with this. Gorbachev had the right intentions. He just didn't bank on the treachery of the wests big biz and various vested interests. Both Gorby and Reagan were both honorable in their intentions and they did achieve much. To me it was Yeltsin who did the utmost damage to Russia making it look like a 3rd world anarchic country as he allowed Oligarchs to strip the countries assets.

MidnightDancer musosnoop 2 years ago ,

It's difficult for me to believe that Gorbachev was simply a naive fool. Anyone educated in Marxist theory know about the predatory nature of capitalism/imperialism. Anyone, particularly a Soviet politician, who'd been observing the behavior of the US after WW2 should have known that the Yanks are masters of treachery.

Andreas Seneca 4 years ago • edited ,

This same words could be written by Gorbachov ' if he had known what a dreadful fate awaited the USSR, he would not have written a single critical book or article about it." , I think Alexander Zinoviev also worked and even work for the CIA after his dead publishing his books.

Otto Tomasch 4 years ago • edited ,

To me, Gorbachev is no traitor. He is a Russian patriot who honestly wanted to improve Soviet Communism and adapt it to his time. Was he naïve? Yes, very much so. After all, he started the stones rolling and should have known what could happen if other people got their hands on them. He probably knew that if one takes one single stone from the monolithic structure of communism the whole structure would collapse. So he just tried to embellish some of the corner stones of communism without pulling them entirely out from its structure, and called this 'perestroika' and 'glasnost'. Other people in his government, oblivious of the danger of completely pulling corner stones from its structure, didn't think embellishing stones in-situ was enough, and pulled them completely from the structure, with the intend to put them back once the dust that had settled on them over time had been thoroughly scratched off, with a wire brush. But by doing so the corner stones changed their form and didn't fit anymore into the places they had been taken from, communism. Thus, the Primal Sin was committed, and Soviet Communism collapsed. And so did Roman Catholicism in Europe for similar reasons.

Jack Bluebird Otto Tomasch 4 years ago ,

Wrong. He had a lot of collaborators much of them are tycoons today.

Sinbad2 4 years ago ,

Look at the picture, Gorbachev is smiling, but his arms are crossed. He is rejecting everything the halfwit President is saying.

Jack Bluebird Sinbad2 4 years ago ,

Reagan was a nuclear physicist when compared to this corrupt and dumb traitor.

[Nov 29, 2019] Russian MPs say Mikhail Gorbachev should be prosecuted for treason

Notable quotes:
"... Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist party deputy, said recent events and the Ukraine crisis in particular have led five MPs, including two from the ruling United Russia party, to ask the prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to examine Gorbachev, 83. ..."
"... "The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen," said Nikitchuk. ..."
The Guardian

A group of Russian MPs have formally requested prosecutors to investigate former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for treason over the breakup of the Soviet Union, a lawmaker said on Thursday.

Ivan Nikitchuk, a Communist party deputy, said recent events and the Ukraine crisis in particular have led five MPs, including two from the ruling United Russia party, to ask the prosecutor general, Yury Chaika, to examine Gorbachev, 83.

"We asked to prosecute him and those who helped him destroy the Soviet Union for treason of national interests," said Nikitchuk, adding that Soviet citizens in 1991 were against the country's breakup.

Seeking to create a more open and prosperous Soviet Union through glasnost and perestroika, Gorbachev ended up unleashing forces that swept away the country he had sought to preserve and himself from power.

"The consequences of that destruction can be felt today in the conflicts that we have seen," said Nikitchuk.

He added that this included not only Ukraine but other former Soviet countries over the past two decades.

In February, a popular pro-Western uprising in Ukraine ousted pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych, who has since taken refuge in Russia .

The Kremlin responded by sending troops to Ukraine's Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea and annexing it as part of Russia last month.

"What is happening in Ukraine can happen in Russia, too," said Nikitchuk. "This pushed us to write to the prosecutor general, so that professional lawyers rather than historians can investigate the events of 1991."

He added that lawmakers were also concerned about internal enemies stirring unrest.

"The fifth column in our country has been formed and works in the open, funded by foreign money," he said.

In a landmark speech marking Russia's takeover of Crimea, President Vladimir Putin called Russians disagreeing with his policies, such as his decision to occupy Crimea, a fifth column.

There have been previous attempts by the Communist party to have Gorbachev prosecuted but these have led nowhere.

Nikitchuk said he hoped that the current political climate makes for a more favourable moment and that prosecutors would launch the investigation this time.

Unlike the previous cases, the current request is backed by lawmakers from the ruling party, United Russia.

Gorbachev said the lawmakers' initiative was "poorly thought out and groundless from a historical point of view".

"Such calls only show that some lawmakers want publicity," he told the Interfax news agency. A spokeswoman at the prosecutor's office declined to comment.

The Soviet Union officially ceased to exist in December 1991 after Russia, Belarus and Ukraine signed the Belavezha accords dissolving the USSR. Gorbachev resigned two weeks later.

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev the Traitor by Boris Kagarlitsky

Nov 29, 2019 | www.themoscowtimes.com

The Soviet Union did not disappear because of a great flood or a major earthquake. Somebody was at the helm making decisions and setting a political course. Politicians should be responsible for their actions. But do politicians alone bear responsibility?

In fact, Gorbachev's problem is inseparably linked with the unstated problem of the low self-esteem and rationalization of the millions of people who lived through the drama of 1991. Some justify Gorbachev's actions in an attempt to justify their own complicity in events. For the same reasons, others try to shift blame from themselves by holding Gorbachev solely responsible. "He ruined everything," they say. "We are not to blame."

Unfortunately, the Soviet people bear responsibility for what happened to their country. That does not lift responsibility from any one individual, even if that person was part of the leadership -- those whom we naturally call on the carpet first for anything that happens. We the people are to blame for not mounting any resistance to that course of action, or at least for not fighting it hard enough.

In truth, the only people with the moral right to criticize Gorbachev today are the ones who had the courage in the 1980s and 1990s to point out how destructive his policies were, to go against the flow, and to condemn the path followed not only by Gorbachev, but also by his main political rival, former President Boris Yeltsin.

Gorbachev's rule contrasts favorably with the leaders who came both before and after him, and he is not remembered for having committed any particularly egregious wrongdoings. According to that thinking, Gorbachev did not "destroy" the Soviet Union, he "only" betrayed the country he led.

Gorbachev took office with a pledge to serve and defend the state. He cannot be blamed for the fact that a catastrophe that had been brewing for two decades erupted during his reign. But as the captain, he was obligated to "go down with the ship" and share the same political fate as the country he governed. The problem is not that Gorbachev could have prevented the collapse and didn't -- he couldn't have under any circumstances -- but that when the troubles came, he snuck away from the battlefield and went home to have dinner.

The people might sometimes excuse or even justify the deeds of malefactors, but it never forgives a traitor.

Boris Kagarlitsky is the director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.

[Nov 29, 2019] Could Mikhail Gorbachev Have Saved the Soviet Union?

Nov 29, 2019 | foreignpolicy.com

But by his death in 1997, Deng's decision appeared vindicated, as world opinion had turned decisively in his favor. Deng had seen enough of Russia's tumultuous politics to know where he stood: sacrifice political liberalization for stability's sake, because the alternative was chaos and collapse. Chinese analysts of Soviet politics continue to fault Gorbachev for abandoning central planning too rapidly and in a disorganized fashion. Rather than liberalizing politics, they argue, Gorbachev should have focused on the economy.

Today, top Chinese leaders cite the Soviet Union as an example of why China's Communist Party must keep its fist clenched on power, even as it casts off the last remaining vestiges of the Maoist economy. Jiang Zemin, who succeeded Deng as China's leader, argued in 1990 that the Soviet Union's main problem was that Gorbachev was a traitor like Leon Trotsky, the Soviet revolutionary who was found guilty of betraying Marxism-Leninism by then-leader Joseph Stalin.

That was an ironic charge coming from the official who first formally welcomed China's business classes into the supposedly communist ruling party. Yet in December 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping echoed this analysis. "Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate?" he asked a group of Communist Party members. "Their ideals and convictions wavered," he explained. "Finally, all it took was one quiet word from Gorbachev to declare the dissolution of the Soviet Communist Party, and a great party was gone." Yet it is Deng's logic that has come to dominate most interpretations of the Soviet Union's collapse. "My father," reported Deng's youngest son, "thinks Gorbachev is an idiot."

In Russia, many agree. Russians regularly rate Gorbachev as one of their worst leaders of the 20th century. A 2013 poll found that only 22 percent of Russians perceive Gorbachev positively or slightly positively, while 66 percent have a negative impression. By contrast, Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over two decades of stagnation, is viewed positively by 56 percent of Russians. Even Stalin, who managed a murderous reign of terror, gets positive marks from half of Russians. It is not surprising, then, that Deng's reputation in Russia has risen. Many Russians see China as a model of what their country should have done during the 1980s and 1990s. Liberal politics cause chaos and economic distress, many Russians have concluded, and only a strong hand can deliver economic growth.

... ... ...

... Deng managed to compromise with other elites, letting them retain their authority in exchange for their support in pursuing economic reforms that allowed China to grow. But in the Soviet Union, economic reform meant destroying the power base of the special interest groups, leaving a potential military coup lurking in the background and hanging over Gorbachev's head. That was a threat Deng never faced.

The reason why Gorbachev lost out is not because the Soviet economy was unreformable. China's example proved that the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy was possible. Rather, the Soviet Union collapsed because vast political power was entrusted to groups that had every reason to sabotage the efforts to resolve the country's decades-long financial dilemmas.

In the end, the political clout of these interest groups proved far greater than Gorbachev anticipated. In his quest to reform his country and steer it away from calamity, Gorbachev brought about the very process that would eventually lead to the Soviet Union's collapse.

This article is adapted from Chris Miller's new book, The Struggle to Save the Soviet Economy: Mikhail Gorbachev and the Collapse of the USSR .

[Nov 29, 2019] Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR - DebateWise

Nov 29, 2019 | debatewise.org

Perestroika put the final nails in the USSR's economy One of the first main policies Gorbachev adopted was Perestroika – reform of the economy. Hoarding and reciprocal favours (blat) had been a means of survival in the Soviet Union, thieving to 'moonlight' was also common and this cost the regime a lot. The 'command-administrative' system had become obsolete in the Post-Industrial era and was curtailing economic development 1. To solve this, Gorbachev wanted to give enterprise managers control over contracts and introduce aspects of the market economy, to make it managers' responsibility to gain contracts and to make sure the enterprise makes a profit. However, in practice the way the enterprises operated remained unchanged except in terms – ministries rephrased their commands as contracts 2. Private enterprise was also permitted, which seemed to contradict Gorbachev's claim to be committed to Marxist-Leninist thought which was vehemently opposed to capitalism which Marxist's argue exploit the proleteriat – so to actually create a class of capitalists who (according to Marxist doctrine) would exploit the workers who were supposed to be living in socialist – i.e. 'classless society' seemed contradictory to the very ideological concept the regime's power was based upon. A small amount of private enterprise emerged, but the profiteering was very much resented by the general population – goods and services were sold for four or five times their subsidized price due to shortages. Another aspect of Perestroika was entry into the market economy – many of the social benefits given by the enterprises had to be done away with, as they could not make a profit and afford to maintain the benefits, resulting in a stagnant economy occuring simultaneously with a collapsing social welfare system. Gorbachev's reforms did not work and only succeeded in hastening the economic collapse that was inevitable.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because... Glasnost facilitated Opposition to Concentrate against the Regime Allowing freedom of thought from the 'mono-ideological controls' that existed for decades and allowing pluralist thought and leadership meant a weakening of power for the Communist Party – it had to convert into a proper parliamentary party to survive. Furthermore, in a regime based on oppression and propaganda, when these are removed and freedom of speech and freedom of the media are introduced, nasty elements about the system in the past are going to be revealed, and when there is 70 years of repression being reported all at once, it is inevitable there will be extreme hostility toward those responsible – the Party 1, this especially fuelled the anger of the nationalities who had been oppressed and triggered a nationalist movement.

The population were dissatisfied with the dire state of affairs and could voice their discontent openly with glasnost, which led to Gorbachev becoming very unpopular by 1991, in which year the economy had contracted by 18% 2, people were also very concerned over the incompetence of the command-administrative system and irresponsibility of the leadership with regards to the 1986 Chernobyl power station disaster 3.

In a state committed to one ideology, the removal of mono-ideological controls, and the ability of other ideological persuasions to come to power meant the Party had lost its RIGHT to govern the people unless the people themselves WANTED the Party to rule. Thus, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) had to win the support of the people in order to govern effectively. However, in a society that was becoming increasingly liberal and 'bourgeois' (the USSR was largely middle class, private property was protected and capitalism was legalised), the people had to believe in socialist ideology – which would have been almost impossible to achieve.

Gorbachev's reforms themselves undermined some of the principle features of socialist rule in the USSR, e.g. atheism, mono-ideological control, one-party state, economic monopoly and the suspendability of law. Gorbachev's ideology itself – his focus on 'all-human values' instead of the class struggle, the rule of law, international peace and proper parliamentary representation have more resonance with John Stuart Mill than Karl Marx 4 – Gorbachev was subconsciously moving the USSR in this ideological direction.

With democratization and pluralist thought permitted, Gorbachev found himself operating within an increasingly wide political spectrum – with the reformist 'democrats' on one side and the conservative Communist Party members on the other. There was a constant power struggle between the two and Gorbachev dealt with this by constantly playing one side against the other and compromising. One of Gorbachev's critics at the time said this was like trying to marry a hare to a hedgehog. The two sides were very much irreconcilable and instead of trying to defeat one side, Gorbachev sat on the fence and as a result his policies were constantly inconsistent – you cannot mix radical reforms with conservatism 5. The dangers of this were apparent when Shevardnadze, Foreign Minister at the time, resigned because he warned a dictatorship was approaching, Gorbachev ignored this threat and dismissed this claim with overconfidence 6.

1 Kagarlitsky, B. Russia under Yeltsin and Putin: neo-liberal autocracy, London: Pluto 2002

2 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

3 Haynes, M., Russia: Class and Power, 1917-2000, London: Bookmarks 2002

4 Service, R. History of Modern Russia: from Nicholas II to Putin, London: Penguin 1997

5 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991

6 Sheehy, G. The Man who changed the World, New York: HarperCollins 1991 No because... Regional Nationalism and Independence Movements These original flaws in the system were largely responsible for its own downfall – in particular the nationalities issue – the decision to maintain the Empire without granting real power to the nationalities whilst simultaneously repressing them left most of the nationalities feeling bitter when glasnost revealed the truth about how they had been treated in the past and democratisation gave them the power to chose representatives who would really represent people's interests (the nationalist movement) whilst at the same time being given by Gorbachev an appetite for power – a fatal combination.

The wealthier regions wanted a separation from the USSR because of the feeling they were being milked from the centre and many other regions wanted to become independent because they did not want to be part of an economic disaster area which became apparent when the Donbass miners who had no commitment to nationalism thought their future would be safer if the Ukraine wasn't part of the USSR 1.

The nationalist movement emerged when freedom of speech, media and association along with democratisation and the loss of fear of repression allowed people to voice pride in their nation and resentment at past repressions as well as the ongoing special treatment of Russians in the Regions, who had access to better housing and other special privileges the locals did not.

Certain Republics felt nationalism more strongly than others, most notably the Baltic States who felt a strong cultural attachment to the West and felt they were being unfairly occupied. Gorbachev's mistake here was to downplay the importance of nationalism and not treat the Baltic States as a special case 2. After all, most of the population of the USSR wished to preserve the Union – 76% voted to preserve the Union in March 1991 (except the Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia who did not conduct the referendum) 3. After the failed coup, most states declared their independence, even if they did so with reluctance, as there was a general feeling there was no alternative. Gorbachev tried to persuade the Republics not to become fully independent. However, in early December, the Ukraine held a referendum where the population voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence, even after Gorbachev stated "there can be no Union without Ukraine", on 8th December, Yeltsin met with the Ukrainian and Bielorussian leader and declared a formal end to the USSR and the establishment of the Confederation of Independent States which they invited the other states to join.

There was nothing left Gorbachev could do, democratisation had brought about the means for independence and Gorbachev didn't feel he could argue with people's wishes carried out through democratic means and, on 25th December he resigned with regret.

1 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996

3 Brown, A. The Gorbachev Factor, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1996 Yeltsin Factor Boris Yeltsin emerged as the true hero and strong leader for the fearlessness to condemn the coup – in a press conference afterwards Yeltsin ordered Gorbachev around undermining his position, then used his institutional powers derived from democratization to appoint Egor Gaidar, an economist dedicated to laissez-faire economics, as his Finance Minister and suspension of the CPSU pending an investigation into the coup. Gorbachev half heartedly argued against this but it was no use – he was seen as a weaker leader along with discontent over his policies, whilst Yeltsin's radicalism was keeping pace with developments and his popularity at an all-time high, Gorbachev's position was also much less weaker without the Communist Party. Also, the Soviet Union really could not exist without the Communist Party arguably as they had political and economic monopoly on society and the Communist Party went from controlling these aspects of society to ceasing to exist, the Soviet Union could not function and the economy spiralled out of control. Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... August 1991 Coup Counter Productive, Bringing About What It Sought To Prevent - The End of the Soviet Union By August 1991 Gorbachev's popularity was at an all-time low both in the Party and outside it. Despite being advised by some of his staff to sign the Treaty agreement granting the republics real autonomy before going on holiday and some suspicious circumstances he should have been more questioning about, he planned on signing the agreement when he returned. This was a big mistake and allowed the conservatives to stage a coup. The Emergency Committee made no reference whatsoever to Marxism-Leninism or the class struggle in their speech, meaning it was a coup in the hope of returning the Soviet Union to 'normal' i.e. an Empire controlled from Moscow and putting the final nails in the coffin of socialism in the USSR 1.

The failed coup triggered the very thing it sought to prevent – the break-up of the Soviet Union 2.

1 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

2 Hosking, Geoffrey, History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992

Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... The System Needed to Change in Order to Survive in the Longer Term; That Mikhail Gorbachev's Reforms Failed Showed that the USSR Could Not be Saved By the Gorbachev era, all hopes of fulfilling the original Marxist-Leninist dream were gone and most did not feel passionately about communism, even within the Party. There was a general acknowledgement that the USSR could not continue in the same way as before – Andropov, Gorbachev's predecessor also realised this and set about changing society through repressive measures such as harsh labour discipline enforced by cutting payments from workers for work deemed poor quality and restrictions on the sale of alcohol and prohibition of alcohol on official occasions was felt overly repressive and for many – Gorbachev was seen as a positive, energetic leader who would overcome the USSR's problems in a less repressive manner. With economic stagnation and an economy dependent on the exportation of natural resources to survive 1, an unsuccessful war (Afghanistan) and an ageing Party Membership to combat, Gorbachev was the candidate for those who wanted change or at least realised change could no longer be postponed 2.

Autocracies survive due to repressing their people to the extent that they are not given the freedoms required to change their government, rather than because the people want them to stay in power. Mikhail Gorbachev's conscience and sense of responsibility for his population dictated that the system could no longer be propped up like this, and that the people needed and deserved the freedoms and basic human rights they had been denied for decades. That the system could not encorporate such freedoms meant that the system morally should not be allowed to perpetuate itself, and thus the Soviet Union fell apart because it was unrepresentative and did not support the population's human rights means the fall of the USSR should be applauded, not mourned for its' population.

1 Volkogonov, D.A. The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Empire: political leaders from Lenin to Gorbachev, edited and translated by M. Shukman, London: HarperCollins 1998

2 Hosking, G. History of the USSR, 1917-1991, London: Fontana 1992 Yes because...

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... War with Afghanistan Drained USSR of Patriotic Morale The war in Afghanistan was a key contributing factor to the breakup of the USSR. Reuveny and Prakash argue that the Soviet-Afghan war contributed to undermining the Soviet Union in many ways. First, it discredited the Red Army, and impacted negatively upon the image of the Red Army as a strong, almost invincible force, which gave nationalist movements in the Republics hope that they might succeed in attaining independence after all. Second, it impacted upon leadership perception on the usefulness of utilising the military to keep the union intact and as a force for foreign intervention. Third, it created new forms of political participation, which had begun to impact upon media reporting even before glasnost, and began the first calls for glasnost, as it created a number of war veterans, who went on to form organisations which weakened the total authority of the CPSU 1.

1 Reuveny, Rafael, and Prakash, Aseem, 'The Afghanistan War and the Breakdown of the Soviet Union', Review of International Studies (1999), 25:693-708 Yes because... Report this ad

Gorbachev Was Responsible for The Collapse Of The USSR No because... It was dead from the time Stalin took control Gorbachev finished it off, but Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev etc. really killed it. Lenin had nothing to do with that, he was a socialist-marxist, not a communist. You obviously don't know the difference. Learn it before you blindly yell your opinion into the dark of the internet.

[Nov 29, 2019] Was Mikhail Gorbachev an incompetent leader or a stooge of the West - Quora

Nov 29, 2019 | www.quora.com

Joe Venetos , history, European Union and politics, int'l relations Answered Aug 22 2017 · Author has 485 answers and 325k answer views

Neither.

The USSR as it was was not sustainable, and the writing was all over the wall.

The reason it wasn't sustainable, however, is widely misunderstood.

The Soviet Union could have switched to a market or hybrid economy and still remained a unified state. However, it was made up of 15 very different essentially nation-states from Estonia to Uzbekistan, and separatist movements were tearing the Union apart.

Unlike other multi-national European empires that met their day earlier in the 20th century, such as the British, French, Portuguese, Austro-Hungarian, or Ottoman Empires, the Russian Empi...

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Neither.

The USSR as it was was not sustainable, and the writing was all over the wall.

The reason it wasn't sustainable, however, is widely misunderstood.

The Soviet Union could have switched to a market or hybrid economy and still remained a unified state. However, it was made up of 15 very different essentially nation-states from Estonia to Uzbekistan, and separatist movements were tearing the Union apart.

Unlike other multi-national European empires that met their day earlier in the 20th century, such as the British, French, Portuguese, Austro-Hungarian, or Ottoman Empires, the Russian Empire never had the chance to disband; the can was simply kicked down the road by the Bolshevik revolution and the Soviet era. Restrictions on free speech and press, followed by a gradual economic downturn that began in the 1970s, brewed anti-Union and separatist sentiments among sizeable sections of society. It's important to note, however, that not everyone wanted the disband the USSR, and not everyone in the Russian republic wanted to keep it together (the Central Asian states were the most reluctant to secede). There was, actually, a referendum on whether or not to keep the Union together, and a slight majority voted in favor (something Gorbachev points out to this day), but the vote was also boycotted by quite a few people, especially in the Baltic republics. So, we know that the citizens had mixed feelings and the reasons for the USSR's end were far more complex than just "communism failed".

By the summer of 1991, there was nothing Gorbachev could do. The hardliners saw him as incompetent to save the Union, but too many citizens and military personnel had defected to the politicians of the constituent republics (rather than the Union's leadership), including Russia itself, that were increasingly pursuing their independence since the first multiparty elections across the Union in 1989. By December 1991, Union-level political bodies agreed to disband. So, Gorbachev had no choice but to admit that the USSR no longer existed.

Gorbachev could have ruled with an iron fist, and he could have done so from the 1985 without ever implementing glasnost and perestroika, but that could have been a disaster. We don't really know, actually, but in my opinion, an oligarchy -which is what the USSR was in its later years, not an authoritarian state like it was under Stalin- still needs some level of public consent to continue governing, like China (which is also a diverse society, but far more homogenous than the USSR was). If you have all this economic and separatist malaise brewing, it's not going to work out.

In the long run, Russia is much better off. They now have a state where ethnic Russians make up 80% of the population (a good balance), from what was, I think 50% in the USSR.

While some Russians regret that the USSR ended, others don't care or were ready to call themselves "Russian" rather than "Soviet". It's no different to French public opinion turning against the Algerian war in the 1960s and supporting Algerian independence, or British public opinion starting to support the independence of India yet some people from those countries, may look back fondly. Also, Russia went through a tough economic period in the 1990s, which strengthened Soviet nostalgia, understandably, thinking back to a time when the state guaranteed everyone with housing and a job. While some sentiments still exist today in the Russian Federation that may appear pro-Soviet, it's important to point out that that doesn't necessarily mean these folks would like to recreate the Soviet Union as it was . Many just simply miss the heaftier influence the USSR had, versus what they perceive to be weakness or disrespect for Russia today. The communist party today gets few votes in Russian elections; and many Russians now were not adults prior to 1991, and thus don't quite remember the era too well; many others may be old enough to remember the economic downturn of the 80s, and not the economic good times of the 60s.

One final point, regarding Gorbachev being a "stooge of the West": that gives far too much credit to America under Reagan for taking down the USSR. The "West" had nothing to do with it. In the longer run, as we may be seeing slowly unravel since the Bush Jr administration, America pretty much screwed itself with the massive military spending that started in the 80s and continues upward, with supporting the mujahedeen to lure the USSR into Afghanistan in 1979 (a war that lasted until 1989), with opposing any secular regime in the Middle East friendly to Moscow in the 70s and 80s, and so on we all know how these events started playing out for the US much later, from 9/11 to the current Trump mess.

[Nov 15, 2019] Now the US and the CIA had long ago figured that if the integrity of party could be disintegrated the USSR would collapse. And so it did.

Nov 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

vk , Nov 15 2019 16:54 utc | 168

@ Posted by: c1ue | Nov 15 2019 16:39 utc | 166

From Luciana Bohne , apud Pepe Escobar's Facebook page:

At the 19th Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, President Xi (31 October 2019) reiterated the imperative of "Upholding the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC."

Why does Xi insist on this point as #1 item on the party's agenda of items?

Let's make a comparison. In 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin as a "dictator" and of using the party as a sort of church for the worship of his own "personality cult." This was nonsense of course and Mao said so formally in 1963, but it was music to the ears of the capitalist powers, in the lead the US .

Kruscev then decided to liberalize the "Stalinist party"--which was more music to the ears of the capitalist "Free West." He said, since the class struggle in in the USSR was over, there were no class enemies, and everyone could join the party. Opportunist did; corrupt greedy people did, until at last in 1989 it was top heavy with members of the shadow economy--managers of factories, mines, industries of all sorts who had over 3 decades accumulated undeclared private wealth from leeching from the the public wealth. The party had become a club of "entrepreneurs" (thieves) whose best bet for investments of their ill-gotten accumulation of wealth was the restoration of capitalism.

There was much more damage to the party than I can synthesize in a post, but this small bit will do. The party was infiltrated by opportunists of the worst greed. And its integrity, authority, ability to plan the economy according to scientific Marxist Lenininst wisdom and principles died.

Now the US and the Cia had long ago figured that if the integrity of party could be disintegrated the USSR would collapse. And so it did.

The CPC has no intention of China collapsing and falling once again into the avid hands of Western imperialism, which wages capitalist.imperialist class war on China. So, China would never dream of declaring the class struggle over for China.

Its constitution states that China will remain a class society for a long time. Not only because it depends for the creation of wealth on a loyal national, anti-imperialist bourgeoisie but also because China is threatened by imperialism, which is also a class war Khrushchev ignored, calling for "peaceful coexistence" with imperialism, since both USSR and the imperialists supposedly shared the goal of peace under the nuclear cloud.

The man was a scoundrel and destroyed the power of the Communist Party, paving the way to the restoration of capitalism.

This is the difference between the Soviet Union post-1956 and China. Mao was not cleansed out of the party and consigned to the lower depths of Hell like Stalin. Whatever his mistakes, he was treated as a comrade not an enemy, his contribution acknowledged, his deficits also--unlike Stalin. Furthermore, his revolutionary contribution to the founding and survival of the People's Republic of China was enshrined in the party's memory. His picture is on the currency. He is loved and respected. The party was not stressed, purged, or divided by making Mao an issue of allegiance.

Finally, by recognizing the contribution of the loyal bourgeoisie to a self-sufficient, independent China, the CPC acknowledges that China is still a class society. No second economy, operating in the shadow for China. The private sector exists and is regulated (and lately bought up gradually by the state). No chance for a clutch of opportunists to accumulate more combined wealth than the state's and so able to take over the state and exact regime change.

This is why Xi specifically demands and requires a strong, centralized, integral, and uncorrupt Communist party. The party is the insurance for the persistence of the path to socialism and eventually communism for China. No party, no sovereign, imperialism-free China

And in this determination of making the CPC the pillar of China's social and economic progress for all the people, Xi is acting as a Leninist. The party is for the people and the people for the party. They are one. Without a revolutionary party and a revolutionary theory (in China "scientific and Marxist) the revolution would die. A it did in the Soviet Union, starting with the Kruscev gambit.

This for the West is "authoritarianism," though the West is ruled by a clutch of authoritarian economic elites who make all the decisions in their own interests. But they call tit "democracy." At least in China, if anything, it's an "authoritarianism" for and by the people--a bit closer to democracy, I should argue.

[Nov 15, 2019] Both parties worked to destroy the Russian economy during the 80s/90s with the Chicago/Harvard boys gutting it completely while enriching themselves

Nov 15, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Curtis , Nov 14 2019 0:52 utc | 53

Nemesiscalling 15
Right you are. The Anti-Russia hype has been going on for a while but had a bit of a hiatus during King (W) Shrub II. Both parties worked to destroy the Russian economy during the 80s/90s with the Chicago/Harvard boys gutting it completely while enriching themselves. It accelerated under Obama while they presented us with the "Reset" switch. Apparently the Russians didn't play along so they became the bogeyman that gets inflated as time goes on. Trump tried but got dragged down in the process.

As to a US split, I live in the south. So I've wondered if California (for example) tried to leave if a US President would pull a Lincoln and destroy the state ... in order to save it.

[Nov 13, 2019] Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev Reveals Who Was Responsible for Country's Collapse

Nov 13, 2019 | sputniknews.com

I understand some worries he had over the existing system, but goddamn Gorbachev is an intellectual midget!

But maybe he's a sign of Soviet imbecilization. Maybe the USSR's degeneration was indeed inevitable.

I just weep for the world's socialists, who had to pay for the end of bipolarity.

Posted by: vk | Nov 10 2019 19:38 utc | 20

[Nov 09, 2019] Post-Cold War Triumphalism and Kennan's Warning by Daniel Larison

Nov 09, 2019 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Andrew Bacevich describes how the U.S. learned all the wrong lessons from the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War:

You won't hear it from any of the candidates vying to succeed Trump, but we are still haunted by our false conception of the Cold War. On the stump, politicians get away with reciting comforting clichés about the imperative of American global leadership. Yet the time for believing such malarkey is long gone.

An essential first step toward recoupling national security policy and reason is to see the Cold War for what it was: not a "long, twilight struggle" ending in victory, but a vast and costly tragedy that inflicted needless suffering, brought humankind absurdly close to extinction, and from which U.S. policymakers have drawn all the wrong lessons.

The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall offers an occasion not for celebration but for somber and long overdue reflection.

One of the wrong lessons that U.S. policymakers drew from the events of 1989-1991 was that the U.S. was chiefly responsible for ending and "winning" the Cold War, which inevitably overestimated our government's capabilities and effectiveness in affecting the political fortunes of other parts of the world. The far more critical and important role of the peoples of central and eastern Europe and the Soviet Union itself in overthrowing the system that had oppressed them was pushed into the background as much as possible. The U.S. took credit for their success and policymakers frequently attributed the outcome to the policies of the late Cold War rather than to the deficiencies and failings of the other system. After waging stalemated and failed wars in the name of anticommunism, U.S. policymakers wanted to be able to claim that they had "won" something, and so they declared victory for something that they hadn't caused.

The period that followed the dissolution of the USSR was one of triumphalism, expansion, and overreach. The U.S. not only congratulated itself for achieving something that was accomplished by others, but it also assumed that it could achieve similar results in other parts of the world. If NATO had been a great success as a defensive alliance, the "thinking" went, why shouldn't it continue and expand to include many more countries? If the U.S. was supposedly able to bring down the Soviet Union, why shouldn't it do the same to authoritarian regimes elsewhere? Absent the check on ambition and hubris that a superpower rival provided, the U.S. was free to run amok and do whatever it liked without regard for the consequences. That triumphalism sowed the seeds for many of the more significant post-Cold War failures that we have witnessed since then. Even today, that same overconfidence encourages U.S. policymakers to flirt with the idea of engaging in another Cold War-style rivalry with a more formidable state in China.

George Kennan presciently warned against the triumphalism that he saw around him as early as 1992. At that time, he was responding directly to the claims from Republicans that Reagan and his policies had "won" the Cold War:

The suggestion that any American administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic-political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is intrinsically silly and childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.

Kennan went on to say that the militarization of U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War was a boon to Soviet hard-liners and in that way helped prolong it:

The extreme militarization of American discussion and policy, as promoted by hard-line circles over the ensuing 25 years, consistently strengthened comparable hard-liners in the Soviet Union.

The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's.

Whenever hawks talk about "winning" the Cold War, they invariably mean that it was the militarized policies they favored that carried the day, but Kennan reminded us that this was not so. In fact, a militarized foreign policy perpetuated the struggle by providing Soviet hard-liners with a plausible foreign threat that they could use to justify their own policies and to clamp down on internal dissent. We have seen the same thing repeated several times in the last thirty years on a smaller scale with other governments. The most aggressive and confrontational policies unwittingly aid authoritarian regimes by giving them an external enemy that they can use to deflect attention from their own failings and as a pretext for the consolidation of power at home.

Kennan was already telling us shortly after the Cold War ended that no one had "won" it:

Nobody -- no country, no party, no person -- "won" the cold war. It was a long and costly political rivalry, fueled on both sides by unreal and exaggerated estimates of the intentions and strength of the other party [bold mine-DL]. It greatly overstrained the economic resources of both countries, leaving both, by the end of the 1980's, confronted with heavy financial, social and, in the case of the Russians, political problems that neither had anticipated and for which neither was fully prepared.

We can all be grateful that the Cold War ended, but we shouldn't delude ourselves with talk of victory. Not only is it inaccurate, but it encourages the worst kinds of overreach and arrogance that has led to several serious foreign policy failures in the decades that have followed. Kennan warned us almost thirty years ago not to go down this path of triumphalism, and as so often happened Americans ignored Kennan's wisdom.

Kennan concluded with the same idea that Bacevich stated at the end of his op-ed:

That the conflict should now be formally ended is a fit occasion for satisfaction but also for sober re-examination of the part we took in its origin and long continuation. It is not a fit occasion for pretending that the end of it was a great triumph for anyone, and particularly not one for which any American political party could properly claim principal credit.

American policymakers are not known for sober re-examination and acknowledgment of error, but these are exactly the things that are needed if we are to stop making the same blunders and learning the wrong lessons from the past. Kennan and Bacevich's advice is just as timely and important today as it was twenty-seven years ago. Perhaps this time we should pay attention and listen to it.

[Oct 29, 2019] Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace

Notable quotes:
"... The brother of the current Chilean president, scions of one of the richest families in Chile, became famous for introducing, as Minister of Labor and Social Security under Pinochet, a funded system of pensions where employees make compulsory contributions from their wages into one of several pension funds, and after retirement receive pensions based on investment performance of such funds. Old-age pensions thus became a part of roulette capitalism. But In the process, the pension funds, charging often exorbitant fees, and their managers became rich. ..."
"... José Piñera had tried to "sell" this model to Yeltsin's Russia and to George Bush's United States, but, despite the strong (and quite understandable) support of the financial communities in both countries, he failed. Nowadays, most Chilean pensioners receive $200-$300 per month in a country whose price level (according to International Comparison Project, a worldwide UN- and World Bank-led project to compare price levels around the world) is about 80% of that of the United States. ..."
"... the combined wealth of Chilean billionaires' (there were twelve of them) was equal to 25% of Chilean GDP. The next Latin American countries with highest wealth concentrations are Mexico and Peru where the wealth share of billionaires is about half (13 percent of GDP) of Chile's. But even better: Chile is the country where billionaires' share, in terms of GDP, is the highest in the world (if we exclude countries like Lebanon and Cyprus) where many foreign billionaires simply "park" their wealth for tax reasons. The wealth of Chile's billionaires, compared to their country's GDP, exceeds even that of Russians. [Graph] ..."
"... Such extraordinary inequality of wealth and income, combined with full marketization of many social services (water, electricity etc.), and pensions that depend on the vagaries of the stock market has long been "hidden" from foreign observers by Chile's success in raising its GDP per capita. ..."
"... if there Is no social justice and minimum of social cohesion, the effects of growth will dissolve in grief, demonstrations, and yes, in the shooting of people. ..."
Oct 29, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne

, October 26, 2019 at 01:42 PM
https://glineq.blogspot.com/2019/10/chile-poster-boy-of-neoliberalism-who.html

October 26, 2019

Chile: The poster boy of neoliberalism who fell from grace

It is not common for an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development county to shoot and kill 16 people in two days of socially motivated riots. (Perhaps only Turkey, in its unending wars against the Kurdish guerrilla, comes close to that level of violence.) This is however what Chilean government, the poster child of neoliberalism and transition to democracy, did last week in the beginning of protests that do not show the signs of subsiding despite cosmetic reforms proposed by President Sebastian Piñera.

The fall from grace of Chile is symptomatic of worldwide trends that reveal the damages causes by neoliberal policies over the past thirty years, from privatizations in Eastern Europe and Russia to the global financial crisis to the Euro-related austerity. Chile was held, not the least thanks to favorable press that it enjoyed, as a exemplar of success. Harsh policies introduced after the overthrow of Salvador Allende in 1973, and the murderous spree that ensued afterwards, have been softened by the transition to democracy but their essential features were preserved. Chile indeed had a remarkably good record of growth, and while in the 1960-70s it was in the middle of the Latin American league by GDP per capita, it is now the richest Latin American country. It was of course helped too by high prices for its main export commodity, copper, but the success in growth is incontestable. Chile was "rewarded" by the membership in the OECD, a club of the rich nations, the first South American country to accede to it.

Where the country failed is in its social policies which somewhat bizarrely were considered by many to have been successful too. In the 1980s-90s, the World Bank hailed Chilean "flexible" labor policies which consisted of breaking up the unions and imposing a model of branch-level negotiations between employers and workers rather than allowing an overall umbrella union organization to negotiate for all workers. It was even more bizarrely used by the World Bank as a model of transparency and good governance, something that the transition countries in Eastern Europe should have presumably copied from Chile. The brother of the current Chilean president, scions of one of the richest families in Chile, became famous for introducing, as Minister of Labor and Social Security under Pinochet, a funded system of pensions where employees make compulsory contributions from their wages into one of several pension funds, and after retirement receive pensions based on investment performance of such funds. Old-age pensions thus became a part of roulette capitalism. But In the process, the pension funds, charging often exorbitant fees, and their managers became rich.

José Piñera had tried to "sell" this model to Yeltsin's Russia and to George Bush's United States, but, despite the strong (and quite understandable) support of the financial communities in both countries, he failed. Nowadays, most Chilean pensioners receive $200-$300 per month in a country whose price level (according to International Comparison Project, a worldwide UN- and World Bank-led project to compare price levels around the world) is about 80% of that of the United States.

While Chile leads Latin America in GDP per capita, it also leads it terms of inequality. In 2015, its level of income inequality was higher than in any other Latin American country except for Colombia and Honduras. It exceeded even Brazil's proverbially high inequality. The bottom 5% of the Chilean population have an income level that is about the same as that of the bottom 5% in Mongolia. The top 2% enjoy the income level equivalent to that of the top 2% in Germany. Dortmund and poor suburbs of Ulan Bataar were thus brought together.

Chilean income distribution is extremely unequal. But even more so is its wealth distribution. There, Chile is an outlier even compared to the rest of Latin America. According to the Forbes' 2014 data on world billionaires, the combined wealth of Chilean billionaires' (there were twelve of them) was equal to 25% of Chilean GDP. The next Latin American countries with highest wealth concentrations are Mexico and Peru where the wealth share of billionaires is about half (13 percent of GDP) of Chile's. But even better: Chile is the country where billionaires' share, in terms of GDP, is the highest in the world (if we exclude countries like Lebanon and Cyprus) where many foreign billionaires simply "park" their wealth for tax reasons. The wealth of Chile's billionaires, compared to their country's GDP, exceeds even that of Russians.
[Graph]

Such extraordinary inequality of wealth and income, combined with full marketization of many social services (water, electricity etc.), and pensions that depend on the vagaries of the stock market has long been "hidden" from foreign observers by Chile's success in raising its GDP per capita.

But the recent protests show that the latter is not enough. Growth is indispensable for economic success and reduction in poverty. But it is not enough: if there Is no social justice and minimum of social cohesion, the effects of growth will dissolve in grief, demonstrations, and yes, in the shooting of people.

-- Branko Milanovic

[Oct 05, 2019] Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts

Highly recommended!
Oct 05, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> anne... , October 05, 2019 at 04:40 PM

Anne,

Let me serve as a devil advocate here.

Japan has a shrinking population. Can you explain to me why on the Earth they need economic growth?

This preoccupation with "growth" (with narrow and false one dimensional and very questionable measurements via GDP, which includes the FIRE sector) is a fallacy promoted by neoliberalism.

Neoliberalism proved to be quite sophisticated religions with its own set of True Believers in Eric Hoffer's terminology.

A lot of current economic statistics suffer from "mathiness".

For example, the narrow definition of unemployment used in U3 is just a classic example of pseudoscience in full bloom. It can be mentioned only if U6 mentioned first. Otherwise, this is another "opium for the people" ;-) An attempt to hide the real situation in the neoliberal "job market" in which has sustained real unemployment rate is always over 10% and which has a disappearing pool of well-paying middle-class jobs. Which produced current narco-epidemics (in 2018, 1400 people were shot in half a year in Chicago ( http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-weekend-shooting-violence-20180709-story.html ); imagine that). While I doubt that people will hang Pelosi on the street post, her successor might not be so lucky ;-)

Everything is fake in the current neoliberal discourse, be it political or economic, and it is not that easy to understand how they are deceiving us. Lies that are so sophisticated that often it is impossible to tell they are actually lies, not facts. The whole neoliberal society is just big an Empire of Illusions, the kingdom of lies and distortions.

I would call it a new type of theocratic state if you wish.

And probably only one in ten, if not one in a hundred economists deserve to be called scientists. Most are charlatans pushing fake papers on useless conferences.

It is simply amazing that the neoliberal society, which is based on "universal deception," can exist for so long.

[Sep 22, 2019] It was neoliberalism that won the cold war

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As for the USSR, the Soviet elite changed sides. I think Putin once said that Soviet system was "unviable" to begin with. And that's pretty precise diagnosis: as soon as the theocratic elite degenerates, it defects; and the state and the majority of the population eventually fall on their own sword. ..."
"... And the USSR clearly was a variation of a theocratic state. That explain also a very high, damaging the economy, level of centralization (the country as a single corporation) and the high level of ideology/religion-based repression (compare with Iran and Islamic state jihadists.) ..."
"... So after the WWII the ideology of Bolshevism was dead as it became clear that Soviet style theocratic state is unable to produce standard of living which Western social democracies were able to produce for their citizens. Rapid degeneration of the theocratic Bolshevik elite (aka Nomenklatura) also played an important role. ..."
"... It is important to understand that the Soviet elite changed sides completely voluntarily. Paradoxically it was high level of KGB functionaries who were instrumental in conversion to neoliberalism, starting with Andropov. It was Andropov, who created the plan of transition of the USSR to neoliberalism, the plan that Gorbachov tried to implement and miserably failed. ..."
"... So the system exploded from within because the Party elite became infected with neoliberalism (which was stupid, but reflects the level of degeneration of the Soviet elite). ..."
"... The major USA contribution other then supplying the new ideology for the Soviet elite was via CIA injecting God know how much money to bribe top officials. ..."
"... As Gorbachov was a second rate (if not the third rate) politician, he allowed the situation to run out of control. And the efforts to "rock" the system were fueled internally by emerging (as the result of Perestroika; which was a reincarnation of Lenin's idea of NEP) class of neoliberal Nouveau riche (which run the USSR "shadow economy" which emerged under Brezhnev) and by nationalist sentiments (those element were clearly supported by the USA and other Western countries money as well as via subversive efforts of national diaspora residing in the USA and Canada) and certain national minorities within the USSR. ..."
"... The brutal economic rape of the xUSSR space and generally of the whole former Soviet block by the "collective neoliberal West" naturally followed. Which had shown everybody that the vanguard of Perestroika were simply filthy compradors, who can't care less about regular citizens and their sufferings. ..."
"... BTW this huge amount of loot postponed the internal crisis of neoliberalism which happened in the USA in 2008 probably by ten years. And it (along with a couple of other factors such as telecommunication revolution) explain relative prosperity of Clinton presidency. Criminal Clinton presidency I should say. ..."
"... BTW few republics in former USSR space managed to achieve the standard of living equal to the best years of the USSR (early 80th I think) See https://web.williams.edu/Economics/brainerd/papers/ussr_july08.pdf ..."
"... Generally when the particular ideology collapses, far right nationalism fills the void. We see this now with the slow collapse of neoliberalism in the USA and Western Europe. ..."
"... Chinese learned a lot from Gorbachov's fatal mistakes and have better economic results as the result of the conversion to the neoliberalism ("from the above"), although at the end Chinese elite is not that different from Soviet elite and also is corruptible and can eventually change sides. ..."
"... But they managed to survive the "triumphal march of neoliberalism" (1980-2000) and now the danger is less as neoliberalism is clearly the good with expired "use by" date: after 2008 the neoliberal ideology was completely discredited and entered "zombie" state. ..."
Sep 08, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> ilsm... , September 08, 2019 at 08:20 PM

This is a very complex issue. And I do not pretend that I am right, but I think Brad is way too superficial to be taken seriously.

IMHO it was neoliberalism that won the cold war. That means that the key neoliberal "scholars" like Friedman and Hayek and other intellectual prostitutes of financial oligarchy who helped to restore their power. Certain democratic politicians like Carter also were the major figures. Carter actually started neoliberalization of the USA, continued by Reagan,

Former Trotskyites starting from Burnham which later became known as neoconservatives also deserve to be mentioned.

It is also questionable that the USA explicitly won the cold war. Paradoxically the other victim of the global neoliberal revolution was the USA, the lower 90% of the USA population to be exact.
So there was no winners other the financial oligarchy (the transnational class.)

As for the USSR, the Soviet elite changed sides. I think Putin once said that Soviet system was "unviable" to begin with. And that's pretty precise diagnosis: as soon as the theocratic elite degenerates, it defects; and the state and the majority of the population eventually fall on their own sword.

And the USSR clearly was a variation of a theocratic state. That explain also a very high, damaging the economy, level of centralization (the country as a single corporation) and the high level of ideology/religion-based repression (compare with Iran and Islamic state jihadists.)

The degeneration started with the death of the last charismatic leader (Stalin) and the passing of the generation which remembers that actual warts of capitalism and could relate them to the "Soviet socialism" solutions.

So after the WWII the ideology of Bolshevism was dead as it became clear that Soviet style theocratic state is unable to produce standard of living which Western social democracies were able to produce for their citizens. Rapid degeneration of the theocratic Bolshevik elite (aka Nomenklatura) also played an important role.

With bolshevism as the official religion, which can't be questioned, the society was way too rigid and suppressed "entrepreneurial initiative" (which leads to enrichment of particular individuals, but also to the benefits to the society as whole), to the extent that was counterproductive. The level of dogmatism in this area was probably as close to the medieval position of Roman Catholic Church as we can get; in this sense it was only national that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became a pope John Paul II -- he was very well prepared indeed ;-).

It is important to understand that the Soviet elite changed sides completely voluntarily. Paradoxically it was high level of KGB functionaries who were instrumental in conversion to neoliberalism, starting with Andropov. It was Andropov, who created the plan of transition of the USSR to neoliberalism, the plan that Gorbachov tried to implement and miserably failed.

So the system exploded from within because the Party elite became infected with neoliberalism (which was stupid, but reflects the level of degeneration of the Soviet elite).

The major USA contribution other then supplying the new ideology for the Soviet elite was via CIA injecting God know how much money to bribe top officials.

As Gorbachov was a second rate (if not the third rate) politician, he allowed the situation to run out of control. And the efforts to "rock" the system were fueled internally by emerging (as the result of Perestroika; which was a reincarnation of Lenin's idea of NEP) class of neoliberal Nouveau riche (which run the USSR "shadow economy" which emerged under Brezhnev) and by nationalist sentiments (those element were clearly supported by the USA and other Western countries money as well as via subversive efforts of national diaspora residing in the USA and Canada) and certain national minorities within the USSR.

Explosion of far right nationalist sentiments without "Countervailing ideology" as Bolshevism was not taken seriously anymore was the key factor that led to the dissolution of the USSR.

Essentially national movements allied with Germany that were defeated during WWII became the winners.

The brutal economic rape of the xUSSR space and generally of the whole former Soviet block by the "collective neoliberal West" naturally followed. Which had shown everybody that the vanguard of Perestroika were simply filthy compradors, who can't care less about regular citizens and their sufferings.

And the backlash created conditions for Putin coming to power.

BTW this huge amount of loot postponed the internal crisis of neoliberalism which happened in the USA in 2008 probably by ten years. And it (along with a couple of other factors such as telecommunication revolution) explain relative prosperity of Clinton presidency. Criminal Clinton presidency I should say.

BTW few republics in former USSR space managed to achieve the standard of living equal to the best years of the USSR (early 80th I think) See https://web.williams.edu/Economics/brainerd/papers/ussr_july08.pdf

The majority of the xUSSR space countries have now dismal standard of living and slided into Latin American level of inequality and corruption (not without help of the USA).

Several have civil wars in the period since getting independence, which further depressed the standard living. Most deindustrialize.

Generally when the particular ideology collapses, far right nationalism fills the void. We see this now with the slow collapse of neoliberalism in the USA and Western Europe.

Chinese learned a lot from Gorbachov's fatal mistakes and have better economic results as the result of the conversion to the neoliberalism ("from the above"), although at the end Chinese elite is not that different from Soviet elite and also is corruptible and can eventually change sides.

But they managed to survive the "triumphal march of neoliberalism" (1980-2000) and now the danger is less as neoliberalism is clearly the good with expired "use by" date: after 2008 the neoliberal ideology was completely discredited and entered "zombie" state.

So in the worst case it is the USA which might follow the path of the USSR and eventually disintegrate under the pressure of internal nationalist sentiments. Such a victor...

Even now there are some visible difference between former Confederacy states and other states on the issues such as immigration and federal redistributive programs.

[Sep 18, 2019] The specter of Marx haunts the American ruling class - World Socialist Web Site

Nov 06, 2018 | www.wsws.org
White House report on socialism

Last month, the Council of Economic Advisers, an agency of the Trump White House, released an extraordinary report titled "The Opportunity Costs of Socialism." The report begins with the statement: "Coincident with the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx's birth, socialism is making a comeback in American political discourse. Detailed policy proposals from self-declared socialists are gaining support in Congress and among much of the younger electorate."

The very fact that the US government officially acknowledges a growth of popular support for socialism, particularly among the nation's youth, testifies to vast changes taking place in the political consciousness of the working class and the terror this is striking within the ruling elite. America is, after all, a country where anti-communism was for the greater part of a century a state-sponsored secular religion. No ruling class has so ruthlessly sought to exclude socialist politics from political discourse as the American ruling class.

The 70-page document is itself an inane right-wing screed. It seeks to discredit socialism by identifying it with capitalist countries such as Venezuela that have expanded state ownership of parts of the economy while protecting private ownership of the banks, and, with the post-2008 collapse of oil and other commodity prices, increasingly attacked the living standards of the working class.

It identifies socialism with proposals for mild social reform such as "Medicare for all," raised and increasingly abandoned by a section of the Democratic Party. It cites Milton Friedman and Margaret Thatcher to promote the virtues of "economic freedom," i.e., the unrestrained operation of the capitalist market, and to denounce all social reforms, business regulations, tax increases or anything else that impinges on the oligarchy's self-enrichment.

The report's arguments and themes find expression in the fascistic campaign speeches of Donald Trump, who routinely and absurdly attacks the Democrats as socialists and accuses them of seeking to turn America into another "socialist" Venezuela.

What has prompted this effort to blackguard socialism?

A series of recent polls in the US and Europe have shown a sharp growth of popular disgust with capitalism and support for socialism. In May of 2017, in a survey conducted by the Union of European Broadcasters of people aged 18 to 35, more than half said they would participate in a "large-scale uprising." Nine out of 10 agreed with the statement, "Banks and money rule the world."

Last November, a poll conducted by YouGov showed that 51 percent of Americans between the ages of 21 and 29 would prefer to live in a socialist or communist country than in a capitalist country.

In August of this year, a Gallup poll found that for the first time since the organization began tracking the figure, fewer than half of Americans aged 18–29 had a positive view of capitalism, while more than half had a positive view of socialism. The percentage of young people viewing capitalism positively fell from 68 percent in 2010 to 45 percent this year, a 23-percentage point drop in just eight years.

This surge in interest in socialism is bound up with a resurgence of class struggle in the US and internationally. In the United States, the number of major strikes so far this year, 21, is triple the number in 2017. The ruling class was particularly terrified by the teachers' walkouts earlier this year because the biggest strikes were organized by rank-and-file educators in a rebellion against the unions, reflecting the weakening grip of the pro-corporate organizations that have suppressed the class struggle for decades.

The growth of the class struggle is an objective process that is driven by the global crisis of capitalism , which finds its most acute social and political expression in the center of world capitalism -- the United States. It is the class struggle that provides the key to the fight for genuine socialism.

Masses of workers and youth are being driven into struggle and politically radicalized by decades of uninterrupted war and the staggering growth of social inequality. This process has accelerated during the 10 years since the Wall Street crash of 2008. The Obama years saw the greatest transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top in history, the escalation of the wars begun under Bush and their spread to Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the intensification of mass surveillance, attacks on immigrants and other police state measures.

This paved the way for the elevation of Trump, the personification of the criminality and backwardness of the ruling oligarchy.

Under conditions where the typical CEO in the US now makes in a single day almost as much as the average worker makes in an entire year, and the net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans has doubled over the past decade, the working class is looking for a radical alternative to the status quo. As the Socialist Equality Party wrote in its program eight years ago, " The Breakdown of Capitalism and the Fight for Socialism in the United States ":

The change in objective conditions, however, will lead American workers to change their minds. The reality of capitalism will provide workers with many reasons to fight for a fundamental and revolutionary change in the economic organization of society.

The response of the ruling class is two-fold. First, the abandonment of bourgeois democratic forms of rule and the turn toward dictatorship. The run-up to the midterm elections has revealed the advanced stage of these preparations, with Trump's fascistic attacks on immigrants, deployment of troops to the border, threats to gun down unarmed men, women and children seeking asylum, and his pledge to overturn the 14th Amendment establishing birthright citizenship.

That this has evoked no serious opposition from the Democrats and the media makes clear that the entire ruling class is united around a turn to authoritarianism. Indeed, the Democrats are spearheading the drive to censor the internet in order to silence left-wing and socialist opposition.

The second response is to promote phony socialists such as Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other pseudo-left organizations in order to confuse the working class and channel its opposition back behind the Democratic Party.

In 2018, with Sanders totally integrated into the Democratic Party leadership, this role has been largely delegated to the DSA, which functions as an arm of the Democrats. Two DSA members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York and Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, are likely to win seats in the House of Representatives as candidates of the Democratic Party.

The closer they come to taking office, the more they seek to distance themselves from their supposed socialist affiliation. Ocasio-Cortez, for example, joined Sanders in eulogizing the recently deceased war-monger John McCain, refused to answer when asked if she opposed the US wars in the Middle East, and dropped her campaign call for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The working class and youth are increasingly looking for a socialist alternative, but their understanding of socialism and its history is limited. Here the role of the revolutionary party, the Socialist Equality Party, is critical. It alone seeks to arm the emerging mass movement of the working class with a genuine revolutionary, socialist and internationalist program.

The SEP fights to mobilize and unite the working class in the US and internationally in opposition to the entire ruling elite and all of its bribed politicians and parties. As our program explains:

But socialism will be achieved only through the establishment of workers' power. This will be a difficult struggle Socialism is not a gift to be given to the working class. It must be fought for and won by the working class itself.

The task facing workers and youth looking for the way to fight against war, inequality, poverty and repression is to join and build the Socialist Equality Party to lead the coming mass struggles of the working class.

Barry Grey

[Sep 17, 2019] The Dissolution of the USSR and the Unipolar Moment of US Imperialism by Bill Van Auken

Notable quotes:
"... The last three decades have seen the United States engaged in continuous and ever-expanding warfare under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The drive to conquer and subjugate the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia is a consensus policy of the American ruling class. The results have included over a million dead in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more across Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen. ..."
"... Meanwhile the Pentagon released a seemingly lunatic "joint doctrine" that goes well beyond Dr. Strangelove. It states: "nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win." ..."
"... There is a worried sense within ruling circles that three decades of war have only created a series of debacles, and that US imperialism is confronting what is termed, in military and foreign policy circles, as "strategic competition" from Russia and China. At the same time, ever-sharper conflicts are emerging between Washington and its erstwhile NATO partners, in particular Germany, against which the US fought in two world wars. ..."
"... Zakaria pays special tribute to the individual who popularized the concept of the "unipolar moment," the extreme right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, who wrote an article with that title, also in Foreign Affairs , in 1991. He promoted an unvarnished perspective of the unilateral use of US military aggression to assert the dominance of American capitalism around the globe. ..."
"... He further insisted that if US imperialism proved unable to maintain its unipolar moment it would be "not for foreign but for domestic reasons. ... stagnant productivity, declining work habits, rising demand for welfare state entitlements and new taste for ecological luxuries." He charged that while "defense spending declined, domestic entitlements nearly doubled." And, above all, he blamed "America's insatiable desire for yet higher standards of living without paying any of the cost." [3] ..."
"... For America's ruling elite, long at each other's throats, the path should be clearer now to reforming a working consensus about the US's world role. Some of the policy-making world's most divisive issues now look settled. Force is a legitimate tool of policy; it works. For the elites themselves, the message is America can lead, stop whining, think more boldly. Starting now. [5] ..."
"... We understood this editorial, by the mouthpiece of US finance capital, as an accurate reflection of the pathological triumphalism prevailing within the American bourgeoisie. ..."
"... A third of the population is functionally illiterate. Not even the mass media can avoid reporting on a daily basis some of the more spectacular 'horror stories' of lives destroyed by the impact of the social crisis: homeless people freezing in cardboard boxes, cancer victims being denied treatment because they have no medical insurance and unemployed workers and their families committing suicide ..."
"... This position dovetailed neatly with that of German imperialism, which was backing Croatian and Slovenian independence as part of a post-reunification reassertion of its power in Europe. German imperialism was returning to the scenes of its crimes in 1914 and 1941, unilaterally defying the United States, the United Nations and the European Commission. ..."
"... This was patently the case in Yugoslavia, where the first impulse to break up the existing federation came from Slovenia and Croatia, the wealthiest regions of the country, where local ruling elites calculated that they could fare better by breaking with the poorer republics and establishing their own independent ties to European governments, banks and corporations. ..."
"... In conclusion: the so-called "Unipolar Moment" of 1990 and 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the launching of the Gulf War, marked the collapse of the post-World War II equilibrium, established on the basis of the hegemony of American capitalism and the collaboration of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. It signaled the beginning of a new period of uninterrupted war, the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries ..."
Sep 13, 2019 | www.wsws.org

This lecture was delivered by Bill Van Auken, senior writer for the World Socialist Web Site , at the Socialist Equality Party (US) Summer School on July 25, 2019.

It is now nearly three decades since the deliberate liquidation of the Soviet Union by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy and the launching of the First Persian Gulf War, which began in January 1991. This war, which involved the deployment of over half a million US troops -- more than twice the number sent into the 2003 invasion of Iraq -- clearly marked a turning point in the development of US and world imperialism.

It likewise marked a turning point for the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI). Objective developments, in particular the disintegration of Stalinism, intersected with the protracted struggle of the ICFI against Pabloite revisionism, culminating in the 1985 split and the consolidation of control by the orthodox Trotskyists, for the first time since the founding of the International Committee in 1953. This signaled a fundamental change in the relationship between the Fourth International and the working class.

Grasping that change, the ICFI sought to shoulder the immense political responsibility of leading the international working class, which found concrete expression in the convening of the extraordinarily important "World Conference of Workers against War and Colonialism" held in Berlin in November 1991, to which we will return.

The sharp turn by US imperialism toward unilateralism and militarism, consummated in the Gulf War of 1991, was bound up with the protracted crisis of American capitalism and the relative decline of its domination of the global economy. With the demise of the USSR, US imperialism concluded that it could now offset the challenge that American corporations faced from rivals in Europe and Japan, which had been growing since the 1970s, through the relatively untrammeled use of the US armed forces.

Demolished vehicles line Highway 80, also known as the "Highway of Death", the route fleeing Iraqi forces took as they retreated fom Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. [Credit: U.S. Air Force]

In the case of the Persian Gulf, the US military could be used to secure unchallenged American supremacy in the world's most important oil-producing region, which would put Washington in a position to blackmail its oil-import-dependent European and Asian imperialist rivals with the threat of cutting off their energy supplies. As President George H.W. Bush would declare, in the run-up to the Gulf war, an attack on Iraq would give the US "persuasiveness that will lead to more harmonious trading relationships."

This was not a development that took us by surprise. In its 1988 Perspectives Resolution, the ICFI warned:

Despite the loss of its economic hegemony, the United States remains, militarily, the most powerful imperialist country, and reserves to itself the role of global policeman. But the conditions which prevailed in 1945 at the beginning of the so-called American Century have been drastically transformed. The loss of the economic preponderance which once made its word "law" among the major capitalist nations compels the United States to place ever-greater reliance on the brute force of its military strength. [1]

The resolution went on to declare that a prophecy made by Trotsky was about to be vindicated, quoting his War and the Fourth International from 1934. "The world is divided? It must be re-divided. For Germany it was a question of 'organizing Europe.' The United States must organize the world. History is bringing humanity face to face with the volcanic eruption of American imperialism." This was confirmed in barely two years.

There is an obvious continuity between these events of nearly 30 years ago and the present global political situation. The struggle to assert US hegemony over the Persian Gulf threatens to ignite a new and even more terrible war against Iran, a country with three times the population and four times the landmass of Iraq. The outbreak of a military confrontation is only a matter of time.

The last three decades have seen the United States engaged in continuous and ever-expanding warfare under both Democratic and Republican administrations. The drive to conquer and subjugate the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia is a consensus policy of the American ruling class. The results have included over a million dead in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more across Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

More and more these various conflicts threaten to metastasize into a Third World War. Preparations for a nuclear confrontation with Russia and China were chillingly described recently by the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as the military's No. 1 priority. Meanwhile the Pentagon released a seemingly lunatic "joint doctrine" that goes well beyond Dr. Strangelove. It states: "nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of nuclear weapons will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and develop situations that call for commanders to win."

There is a worried sense within ruling circles that three decades of war have only created a series of debacles, and that US imperialism is confronting what is termed, in military and foreign policy circles, as "strategic competition" from Russia and China. At the same time, ever-sharper conflicts are emerging between Washington and its erstwhile NATO partners, in particular Germany, against which the US fought in two world wars.

The contradiction between the interdependent character of the global economy and the capitalist nation-state system is leading inexorably to a new world war.

Under these conditions, there have been several recent commentaries by US foreign policy analysts bemoaning the end of the "unipolar moment" proclaimed nearly 30 years ago, and looking back upon it with a certain nostalgia.

Among them is a piece published in Foreign Affairs by CNN's multi-millionaire pseudo-intellectual charlatan Fareed Zakaria, titled "The Self-Destruction of American Power." He writes:

Ever since the end of World War I, the United States has wanted to transform the world. In the 1990s, that seemed more possible than ever before. Countries across the planet were moving toward the American way. The Gulf War seemed to mark a new milestone for world order, in that it was prosecuted to uphold a norm legitimized by international law. [2]

The American way, world order, norms and international law: this is how these layers fondly recall a mass slaughter.

Zakaria pays special tribute to the individual who popularized the concept of the "unipolar moment," the extreme right-wing columnist Charles Krauthammer, who wrote an article with that title, also in Foreign Affairs , in 1991. He promoted an unvarnished perspective of the unilateral use of US military aggression to assert the dominance of American capitalism around the globe.

Our best hope for safety in such times is in American strength and will to lead a unipolar world, unashamedly laying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them," he wrote.

He went on to present the pretext for the next major US war: "There is no alternative to confronting, deterring and, if necessary, disarming states that brandish and use weapons of mass destruction. And there is no one to do that but the United States."

He further insisted that if US imperialism proved unable to maintain its unipolar moment it would be "not for foreign but for domestic reasons. ... stagnant productivity, declining work habits, rising demand for welfare state entitlements and new taste for ecological luxuries." He charged that while "defense spending declined, domestic entitlements nearly doubled." And, above all, he blamed "America's insatiable desire for yet higher standards of living without paying any of the cost." [3]

This, after a decade of unrelenting attacks on working class living standards in the wake of the breaking of the 1981 PATCO strike. The message was clear: imperialist war abroad had to be accompanied by an intensification of social counterrevolution and class war in the US itself.

Bush himself, in the run-up to the Gulf War, proclaimed that the unleashing of US military power, against a relatively defenseless oppressed country, would inaugurate a "New World Order."

The content of this "new world order" was never explained. The only thing that was clear was that the old world order had broken down and what was to replace it, in the first instance, was an eruption of US military violence.

The catastrophic breakdown of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union -- celebrated by facile bourgeois intellectuals as the "end of history" and the "triumph of capitalism" -- had removed a key prop of the old post-World War II order. Moreover, the very same forces of globalization of capitalist production and technological development that had fatally undermined the autarchic Stalinist economies were driving the entire world capitalist order into profound crisis.

... ... ...

It justified this threat on the basis of the "overwhelming dependence of Western nations on vital oil supplies from the Middle East." Carter's successor, Ronald Reagan, introduced the "Reagan corollary," vowing that the US would defend these vital oil interests against internal threats to stability as well.

The US government deliberately manufactured the pretext for its military intervention in the Persian Gulf. Tensions between Iraq and Kuwait had been growing since the end of the Iran-Iraq war, in which Washington had provided significant aid to the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein. Kuwait's lowering of oil prices and its demand for debt payments had further undermined an Iraqi economy that had been battered by the war, while Baghdad claimed that Kuwait was carrying out slant drilling into Iraq's Rumaila oil field, on the border between the two countries.

The US ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, used a meeting on July 25, 1990 -- just weeks before Bush was to announce his "line in the sand" and launch the drive to war -- to assure Saddam Hussein of US friendship and sympathy, while telling him that Washington had "no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts like your border disagreement with Kuwait."

The trap having been laid, Saddam Hussein, driven by desperation over the mounting economic and social crisis in Iraq, quickly walked into it.

Like every US imperialist war waged in the name of liberation and democracy, the Gulf War was based on deception and lies.

The attempt was made to equate Saddam Hussein, whom Washington had only recently courted as an ally, with Adolf Hitler. This demonization would become a standard feature of every succeeding US war. It had, in fact, been used in what amounted to a dress rehearsal for the Gulf War, less than two years earlier. In preparing the invasion of Panama, the US State Department compared the involvement in the drug trade of Manuel Noriega -- a longtime CIA asset -- with Hitler's invasion of Poland.

A massive propaganda campaign was waged to sway US public opinion toward support for the Gulf war. This infamously included the testimony given by a 15-year-old girl to Congress, in which she tearfully recounted seeing armed Iraqi troops invading a hospital to steal incubators, throwing babies onto the floor to die. Only later was it revealed that the story was a complete fabrication. The girl had not been in Kuwait before, during or after the Iraqi invasion. She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington and a member of the royal family, sent to read a script written by a major US PR firm.

Finally, Bush justified military intervention by claiming an imminent threat posed by Iraq's massing of 120,000 troops on Saudi Arabia's border. Satellite images subsequently revealed that there was nothing on the Kuwait-Saudi border but desert sand.

A critically important part of the report to the Special Congress of the Workers League in 1990 was the clarification of our attitude toward Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait. Initial responses within the International Committee had included its condemnation as an "act of aggression" by the British section, in an initial article published in its newspaper. On the other hand, there was a suggestion from within the Australian section, that we support the annexation of Kuwait as a "small step" in advancing "the unfulfilled national and democratic tasks of the Arab revolution."

The report made clear that we had no reason to condemn Iraqi aggression. Given the economic warfare waged by Kuwait and Saudi Arabia against Iraq in the run-up to the invasion, our concern was not who fired the first shot. Moreover, to take such a position would be to support the territorial integrity of Kuwait, a Sheikdom created by British imperialism, carved out of the southern Iraqi province of Basra, as a means of better dominating the Arabian Peninsula. The same is the case with virtually all the borders drawn by imperialist powers in the Middle East.

At the same time, in response to the suggestion from a member of the Australian section that we support Kuwait's annexation, it affirmed:

To attribute any progressive role to Hussein's invasion would lead the ICFI in a false direction and undermine the theoretical and political gains that have been made since 1985, in our collective struggle against the WRP's betrayal of the program of world socialist revolution.

Of course, this refers to the struggle waged against the Workers Revolutionary Party's abandonment of the Theory of Permanent Revolution, particularly in relation to its opportunist relations with various Arab regimes, systematically subordinating the independent struggle of the working class to the supposedly anti-imperialist stance of one or another bourgeois nationalist leader.

... ... ...

The US launched the Gulf War on January 16, 1991. Operation Desert Storm, as it was dubbed, consisted mainly of one of the most intensive air bombardments in military history. Eighty-eight thousand tons of munitions were dropped on Iraq in the course of just 42 days. This is roughly equivalent to one-fourth of the total bomb tonnage dropped on Germany during the entire Second World War. The Iraqi casualty totals were estimated at 135,000. Much of Iraq's conscript army was wiped out, with soldiers incinerated from the air or buried alive in their trenches. Hundreds of thousands more Iraqis, of course, died as a result of the systematic destruction of the country's infrastructure.

On the so-called Highway of Death, the US launched wave after wave of bombings against a defenseless, miles-long column of vehicles, carrying Iraqi troops as well as civilians withdrawing from Kuwait on the orders of the Hussein government, which announced that it was complying with a UN Resolution demanding the withdrawal.

As we stated in response to this war crime:

The US war against Iraq is among the most terrible crimes of the twentieth century, a slaughter that future generations will look back on with shame. It has demonstrated that the ruling class of so-called democratic America is just as capable of mass murder as the Nazis. [4]

The Wall Street Journal responded to the Gulf War with an editorial that stated:

For America's ruling elite, long at each other's throats, the path should be clearer now to reforming a working consensus about the US's world role. Some of the policy-making world's most divisive issues now look settled. Force is a legitimate tool of policy; it works. For the elites themselves, the message is America can lead, stop whining, think more boldly. Starting now. [5]

We understood this editorial, by the mouthpiece of US finance capital, as an accurate reflection of the pathological triumphalism prevailing within the American bourgeoisie.

The 11th Plenum of the International Committee was held on March 5, 1991, less than a week after the end of the Gulf War. Its opening report stated:

The American bourgeoisie is serving notice that American imperialism will seek through force to overcome problems arising from the protracted economic decline of the US. For all the problems of American capitalism -- the decay of its industrial base, the loss of its overseas markets, the massive trade deficits and budget deficits, the collapse of its banking system, the gangrenous growth of social ills -- the bourgeoisie believes it has found an answer: Force!

The report quotes the extremely relevant passage from Anti-Dühring , written 113 years earlier, in which Engels delivered a Marxist response to Dühring's claim that force was the decisive element in history:

...its own productive forces have grown beyond its control and, as if necessitated by a law of nature, are driving the whole of bourgeois society towards ruin, or revolution. And if the bourgeoisie now make their appeal to force in order to save the collapsing "economic situation" from the final crash, this only shows that they are laboring under the same delusion as Herr Dühring: the delusion that "political conditions are the decisive cause of the economic situation"; this only shows that they imagine, just as Herr Dühring does, that by making use of "the primary," "the direct political force," they can remodel those "facts of the second order," the economic situation and its inevitable development; and that therefore the economic consequences of the steam-engine and the modern machinery driven by it, of world trade and the banking and credit developments of the present day, can be blown out of existence by them with Krupp guns and Mauser rifles. [6]

Substitute computerization for the steam engine and smart bombs and cruise missiles for Krupp guns and Mausers and this statement stands as a fitting refutation of the triumphalist rantings of the US ruling class in the wake of the Gulf War.

... ... ...

Moreover, in the context of the Gulf War, the call for revolutionary defeatism from the standpoint of fighting the US military to the last Iraqi was senseless and reactionary. The military balance of forces was such that -- outside of the revolutionary mobilization of the masses of the Middle East and the working class in the US and beyond -- the military victory of the US was virtually assured. More fundamentally, it betrayed a complete disdain for and hostility to the fight against war based upon the struggle of the working class. It was entirely bound up with the Pabloite perspective that one or another form of "armed struggle," waged by non-proletarian forces, was the substitute for the revolutionary mobilization of the working class internationally, and particularly in the advanced capitalist countries.

The most decisive response of the ICFI to the Gulf War, US imperialism's "unipolar moment" and the march toward the restoration of capitalism and dissolution of the USSR, was the calling of the Berlin Conference against imperialist war and colonialism.

... ... ...

The war ushered in a period of capitalist disequilibrium that would last for three decades, dominated by capitalist crisis and overshadowed by the successful October 1917 Revolution in Russia, calling into question the very survival of the capitalist order.

The absence, however, of revolutionary parties -- particularly in Europe -- on a par with the Bolsheviks in Russia, allowed the bourgeoisie to defeat a series of revolutionary struggles. But they were unable to create a new equilibrium to replace what was shattered by 1914.

The rise of the bureaucracy in the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, and the terrible degeneration of the Communist International as it was subordinated to the Stalinist theory of "socialism in one country" and Moscow's maneuvers with imperialism, led to a series of catastrophic defeats, above all in Germany. The coming to power of the Nazis in 1933, without a shot being fired, exposed the counterrevolutionary character of Stalinism, leading Trotsky to found the Fourth International.

The document establishes that the ability of the bourgeoisie to achieve a new equilibrium in the aftermath of World War II, which they could not do following World War I, was based not merely on the rise of US imperialism as a hegemonic power, but also the indispensable role of Stalinism. It opposed and sabotaged the revolutionary struggles of the working class in the aftermath of the war, particularly in Italy, France and Greece. In Eastern Europe, its establishment of so-called buffer states served not only to suppress the working class and any genuine struggle for socialism, but also to pacify a fractious region that had been a source of European instability since the dawn of the 20th century.

The equilibrium established at the end of World War II, however, as the document makes clear, was mined with its own contradictions. Its revival of world trade and rebuilding of capitalism in Europe and Japan led to the gradual decline of US hegemony, leading to mounting US deficits which, by 1985, had transformed America into a debtor nation.

Turning to the crisis in the United States, the manifesto sketches out a portrait that seems altogether contemporary:

Not a single significant piece of social legislation has passed through Congress in more than two decades [now we can say five decades ]. Massive budget cuts have destroyed what remains of the old social programs. The crime statistics are merely the most obvious symptoms of the malignant state of social relations. Amidst rapidly growing unemployment and, for those who still have jobs, declining wages, the state of education, housing and medical care is nothing less than catastrophic.

A third of the population is functionally illiterate. Not even the mass media can avoid reporting on a daily basis some of the more spectacular 'horror stories' of lives destroyed by the impact of the social crisis: homeless people freezing in cardboard boxes, cancer victims being denied treatment because they have no medical insurance and unemployed workers and their families committing suicide. [10]

... ... ...

The manifesto warned that these conflicts were being manipulated and exploited by the imperialist powers, while capitalism sought to divert popular indignation over social inequality into the blind alley of national and ethnic conflict.

The ability of reactionary petty-bourgeois demagogues to agitate for communal violence it said, "is to be attributed not to the intellectual and moral power of nationalism, but to the political vacuum left by the prostration of the traditional organizations of the working class, which offer no way out of the crisis of the capitalist system."

Between the calling of the conference on May 1, 1991 and its convening on November 16, events moved very rapidly, with Croatia and Slovenia both declaring their independence on June 25 of that year. Macedonia followed suit soon after, and the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina began its fragmentation into warring ethnic cantons. Armed clashes had broken out, particularly around the coastal city of Dubrovnik.

US Army combat engineer vehicle demolishes a Bosnian Serb bunker near Dubrave, January 1996

The promotion of virulent ethno-chauvinism and national separatism was led by former bureaucrats of Yugoslavia's ruling League of Communists. They sought, on the one hand, to divide and suppress the Yugoslav working class, which had carried out a wave of mass strikes against the austerity measures imposed by the IMF as part of capitalist restoration. On the other, they were driven to carve out ethnic states in order to forge their own independent relations with imperialism as a new ruling class of comprador capitalists.

In his report to the conference, comrade North pointed to the attitude adopted by the Pabloite leader Ernest Mandel, who advocated unconditional support for the self-determination of Croatia, regardless of the character of the regime. Mandel moreover issued a call for direct imperialist intervention, denouncing Serbian chauvinism, while turning a blind eye to Croatian chauvinism.

This position dovetailed neatly with that of German imperialism, which was backing Croatian and Slovenian independence as part of a post-reunification reassertion of its power in Europe. German imperialism was returning to the scenes of its crimes in 1914 and 1941, unilaterally defying the United States, the United Nations and the European Commission.

The Berlin conference adopted a resolution titled "On the Defense of the Working Class in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union" which stated the following:

Everywhere rival capitalist cliques are stirring up nationalism and chauvinism, in order to incite the workers against each other and to preempt an uprising against the old and new oppressors. The bloodbath in Yugoslavia is a result of these policies. This war has nothing to do with the right of nations to self-determination. Serbian and Croatian nationalists are merely fighting to secure for themselves a larger portion of the exploitation of the working class. [19]

The history of Yugoslavia, its rise and fall, could be the subject for an entire school, as could the national question and the slogan of "self-determination." Clearly that cannot be accomplished in this lecture.

... ... ...

Not only the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia, but more fundamentally, the development of capitalist globalization, gave rise to a new type of nationalist movement, seeking the dismemberment of existing states -- including those that emerged out of the previous national struggles against colonialism -- to further the interests of rival bourgeois factions in establishing the most advantageous relations to imperialism and transnational capital.

This was patently the case in Yugoslavia, where the first impulse to break up the existing federation came from Slovenia and Croatia, the wealthiest regions of the country, where local ruling elites calculated that they could fare better by breaking with the poorer republics and establishing their own independent ties to European governments, banks and corporations.

Similar considerations have motivated a whole series of national separatist movements, including in Europe, in the cases of the right-wing Northern League in Italy and Catalan nationalism in Spain.

... ... ...

In conclusion: the so-called "Unipolar Moment" of 1990 and 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the launching of the Gulf War, marked the collapse of the post-World War II equilibrium, established on the basis of the hegemony of American capitalism and the collaboration of the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. It signaled the beginning of a new period of uninterrupted war, the growth of inter-imperialist rivalries, and inevitably, a global rise in the class struggle and socialist revolution.

... .. ...

Footnotes:

[Sep 15, 2019] Demythologizing the Roots of the New Cold War by Ted Snider

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like the Cold War, the new cold war was triggered by an American lie. It was a lie so duplicitous, so all encompassing, that it would lead many Russians to see the agreement that ended the cold war as a devastating and humiliating deception that was really intended to clear the way for the US to surround and finally defeat the Soviet Union. It was a lie that tilled the soil for all future "Russian aggression." ..."
"... That key promise made to Gorbachev was shattered, first by President Clinton and then subsequently supported by every American President: NATO engulfed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009 and, most recently, Montenegro. ..."
"... When Clinton decided to break Bush's promise and betray Russia, George Kennen, father of the containment policy, warned that NATO expansion would be "the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-cold-war era." "Such a decision," he prophesied, "may be expected to . . . restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations . . .." ..."
"... As Matlock explains, the urgent transition allowed "privileged insiders[to] join the criminals who had been running a black market [and to] steal what they could, as fast as they could." The sudden, uncompromising transition imposed on Russia by the United States enabled, according to Cohen, "a small group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs to plunder Russia's richest assets and abet the plunging of some two-thirds of its people into poverty and misery." ..."
"... The rape of Russia was funded, overseen and ordered by the United States and handed over by President George H.W. Bush to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Much of their advice, Matlock says generously, "was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging." ..."
"... The economic policies wrestled onto Russia by the US and the transition experts and international development experts it funded and sent over led to, what Cohen calls, "the near ruination of Russia." Russia's reward for ending the Cold War and joining the Western economic community was, in Cohen's words, "the worst economic depression in peacetime, the disintegration of the highly professionalized Soviet middle class, mass poverty, plunging life expectancy [for men, it had fallen below sixty], the fostering of an oligarchic financial elite, the plundering of Russia's wealth, and more." ..."
"... By the time Putin came to power in 2000, Cohen says, "some 75% of Russians were living in poverty." 75%! Millions and millions of Russian lives were destroyed by the American welcoming of Russia into the global economic community. ..."
"... But before Putin came to power, there was more Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a necessity for Clinton and the United States because Yeltsin was the pliable puppet who would continue to enforce the cruel economic transition. But to continue the interference in, and betrayal of, the Russian people economically, it would now be necessary to interfere in and betray the Russian democracy. ..."
"... Intoxicated with American support, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament that had rescinded his powers and abolished the constitution of which he was in violation. In a 636-2 vote, the Russian parliament impeached Yeltsin. But, President Clinton again sided with Yeltsin against the Russian people and the Russian law, backed him and gave him $2.5 billion in aid. Clinton was blocking the Russian people's choice of leaders. ..."
"... "Funded by the US government," Cohen reports, Americans "gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential decrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin's reelection headquarters in 1996." ..."
"... Asserting its right as the unipolar victor of a Cold War it never won, betraying the central promise of the negotiated end of the cold war by engulfing Russia's neighbors, arming those nations against its written and signed word and stealing all Russian hope in capitalism and democracy by kidnapping and torturing Russian capitalism and democracy, the roots of the new cold war were not planted by Russian lies and aggression, as the doctrinal Western version teaches, but by the American lies and aggression that the fact checked, demythologized version of history reveals. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | original.antiwar.com

When Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev received his peace prize in 1990, the Nobel Prize committee declared that "the two mighty power blocs, have managed to abandon their life-threatening confrontation" and confidently expressed that "It is our hope that we are now celebrating the end of the Cold War." Recently, U.N. General Secretary António Guterres funereally closed the celebrations with the realization that "The Cold War is back."

In a very short span of history, the window that had finally opened for Russia and the United States to build a new international system in which they work cooperatively to address areas of common interest had slammed back closed. How was that historic opportunity wasted? Why was the road from the Nobel committee's hope to the UN's eulogy such a short one?

The doctrinal narrative that is told in the U.S. is the narrative of a very short road whose every turn was signposted by Russian lies, betrayal, deception and aggression. The American telling of history is a tale in which every blow to the new peace was a Russian blow. The fact checked version offers a demythologized history that is unrecognizably different. The demythologized version is also a history of lies, betrayal, deception and aggression, but the liar, the aggressor, is not primarily Russia, but America. It is the history of a promise so historically broken that it laid the foundation of a new cold war.

But it was not the first promise the United States broke: it was not even the first promise they broke in the new cold war.

The Hot War

Most histories of the cold war begin at the dawn of the post World War II period. But the history of U.S-U.S.S.R. animosity starts long before that: it starts as soon as possible, and it was hot long before it turned cold.

The label "Red Scare" first appeared, not in the 1940s or 50s, but in 1919. Though it is a chapter seldom included in the history of American-Russian relations, America actively and aggressively intervened in the Russian civil war in an attempt to push the Communists back down. The United States cooperated with anti-Bolshevik forces: by mid 1918, President Woodrow Wilson had sent 13,000 American troops to Soviet soil. They would remain there for two years, killing and injuring thousands. Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev would later remind America of "the time you sent your troops to quell the revolution." Churchill would record for history the admission that the West "shot Soviet Russians on sight," that they were "invaders on Russian soil," that "[t]hey armed the enemies of the Soviet government," that "[t]hey blockaded its ports, and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed for its downfall."

When the cause was lost, and the Bolsheviks secured power, most western countries refused to recognize the communist government. However, realism prevailed, and within a few short years, by the mid 1920s, most countries had recognized the communist government and restored diplomatic relations. All but the US It was not until several years later that Franklin D. Roosevelt finally recognized the Soviet government in 1933.

The Cold War

It would be a very short time before the diplomatic relations that followed the hot war would be followed by a cold war. It might even be possible to pin the beginning of the cold war down to a specific date. On April 22 and 23, President Truman told Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov to "Carry out his agreement" and establish a new, free, independent government in Poland as promised at Yalta. Molotov was stunned. He was stunned because it was not he that was breaking the agreement because that was not what Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had agreed to at Yalta. The final wording of the Yalta agreement never mentioned replacing Soviet control of Poland.

The agreement that Roosevelt revealed to congress and shared with the world – the one that still dominates the textbook accounts and the media stories – is not the one he secretly shook on with Stalin. Roosevelt lied to congress and the American people. Then he lied to Stalin.

In exchange for Soviet support for the creation of the United Nations, Roosevelt secretly agreed to Soviet predominance in Poland and Eastern Europe. The cold war story that the Soviet Union marched into Eastern Europe and stole it for itself is a lie: Roosevelt handed it to them.

So did Churchill. If Roosevelt's motivation was getting the UN, Churchill's was getting Greece. Fearing that the Soviet Union would invade India and the oil fields of Iran, Churchill saw Greece as the geographical roadblock and determined to hold on to it at all cost. The cost, it turned out, was Romania. Churchill would give Stalin Romania to protect his borders; Stalin would give Churchill Greece to protect his empire's borders. The deal was sealed on October 9, 1944.

Churchill says that in their secret meeting, he asked Stalin, "how would it do for you to have ninety percent predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety percent predominance in Greece? . . ." He then went on to offer a fifty-fifty power split in in Yugoslavia and Hungary and to offer the Soviets seventy-five percent control of Bulgaria. The exact conversation may never have happened, according to the political record, but Churchill's account captures the spirit and certainly captures the secret agreement.

Contrary to the official narrative, Stalin never betrayed the west and stole Eastern Europe: Poland, Romania and the rest were given to him in secret. Then Roosevelt lied to congress and to the world.

That American lie raised the curtain on the cold war.

The New Cold War

Like the Cold War, the new cold war was triggered by an American lie. It was a lie so duplicitous, so all encompassing, that it would lead many Russians to see the agreement that ended the cold war as a devastating and humiliating deception that was really intended to clear the way for the US to surround and finally defeat the Soviet Union. It was a lie that tilled the soil for all future "Russian aggression."

At the close of the cold war, at a meeting held on February 9, 1990, George H.W. Bush's Secretary of State, James Baker, promised Gorbachev that if NATO got Germany and Russia pulled its troops out of East Germany, NATO would not expand east of Germany and engulf the former Soviet states. Gorbachev records in his memoirs that he agreed to Baker's terms "with the guarantee that NATO jurisdiction or troops would not extend east of the current line." In Super-power Illusions , Jack F. Matlock Jr., who was the American ambassador to Russia at the time and was present at the meeting, confirms Gorbachev's account, saying that it "coincides with my notes of the conversation except that mine indicate that Baker added "not one inch." Matlock adds that Gorbachev was assured that NATO would not move into Eastern Europe as the Warsaw Pact moved out, that "the understanding at Malta [was] that the United States would not 'take advantage' of a Soviet military withdrawal from Eastern Europe." At the February 9 meeting, Baker assured Gorbachev that "neither the President or I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place."

But the promise was not made just once, and it was not made just by the United States. The promise was made on two consecutive days: first by the Americans and then by West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. According to West German foreign ministry documents, on February 10, 1990, the day after James Baker's promise, West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher told his Soviet counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze "'For us . . . one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.' And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: 'As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.'"

A few days earlier, on January 31, 1990, Genscher had said in a major speech that there would not be "an expansion of NATO territory to the east, in other words, closer to the borders of the Soviet Union."

Gorbachev says the promise was made not to expand NATO "as much as a thumb's width further to the east." Putin also says mourns the broken promise, asking at a conference in Munich in February 2007, "What happened to the assurances our Western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today? No one even remembers them."

Putin went on to remind his audience of the assurances by pointing out that the existence of the NATO promise is not just the perception of him and Gorbachev. It was also the view of the NATO General Secretary at the time: "But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. [Manfred] Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: 'The fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.' Where are those guarantees?"

Recent scholarship supports the Russian version of the story. Russian expert and Professor of Russian and European Politics at the University of Kent, Richard Sakwa says that "[r]ecent studies demonstrate that the commitment not to enlarge NATO covered the whole former Soviet bloc and not just East Germany." And Stephen Cohen, Professor Emeritus of Politics at Princeton University and of Russian Studies and History at New York University, adds that the National Security Archive has now published the actual documents detailing what Gorbachev was promised. Published on December 12, 2017, the documents finally, and authoritatively, reveal that "The truth, and the promises broken, are much more expansive than previously known: all of the Western powers involved – the US, the UK, France, Germany itself – made the same promise to Gorbachev on multiple occasions and in various emphatic ways."

That key promise made to Gorbachev was shattered, first by President Clinton and then subsequently supported by every American President: NATO engulfed Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1999; Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia in 2004, Albania and Croatia in 2009 and, most recently, Montenegro.

It was this shattered promise, this primal betrayal, this NATO expansion to Russia's borders that created the conditions and causes of future conflicts and aggressions. When, in 2008, NATO promised Georgia and Ukraine eventual membership, Russia saw the threat of NATO encroaching right to its borders. It is in Georgia and Ukraine that Russia felt it had to draw the line with NATO encroachment into its core sphere of influence. Sakwa says that the war in Georgia was "the first war to stop NATO enlargement; Ukraine was the second." What are often cited as acts of Russian aggression that helped maintain the new cold war are properly understood as acts of Russian defense against US aggression that made a lie out of the promise that ended the Cold War.

When Clinton decided to break Bush's promise and betray Russia, George Kennen, father of the containment policy, warned that NATO expansion would be "the most fateful error of American foreign policy in the entire post-cold-war era." "Such a decision," he prophesied, "may be expected to . . . restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations . . .."

The broken promise restored the cold war. Though it is the most significant root of the new cold war, it was not the first. There was a prior broken promise, and this time the man who betrayed Russia was President H.W. Bush.

The end of the Cold War resulted from negotiations and not from any sort of military victory. Stephen Cohen says that "Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush negotiated with the last Soviet Russian leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, what they said was the end of the Cold War on the shared, expressed premise that it was ending 'with no losers, only winners.'"

The end of the Cold War and the end of the Soviet Union occurred so closely chronologically that it permitted the American mythologizers to conflate them in the public imagination and create the doctrinal history in which the US defeat of the Soviet Union ended the cold war. But the US did not defeat the Soviet Union. Gorbachev brought about what Sakwa calls a "self-willed disintegration of the Soviet bloc." The Soviet Union came to an end, not by external force or pressure, but out of Gorbachev's recognition of the Soviet Union's own self interest. Matlock flatly states that "pressure from governments outside the Soviet Union, whether from America or Europe or anywhere else, had nothing to do with [the Soviet collapse]." "Cohen demythologizes the history by reinstating the chronological order: Gorbachev negotiated the end of the cold war "well before the disintegration of the Soviet Union." The Cold War officially ended well before the end of the Soviet Union with Gorbachev's December 7, 1988 address to the UN

Matlock says that "Gorbachev is right when he says that we all won the Cold War." He says that President Reagan would write in his notes, "Let there be no talk of winners and losers." When Gorbachev compelled the countries of the Warsaw Pact to adopt reforms like his perestroika in the Soviet Union and warmed them that the Soviet army would no longer be there to keep their communist regimes in power, Matlock points out in Superpower Illusions that "Bush assured Gorbachev that the United States would not claim victory if the Eastern Europeans were allowed to replace the Communist regimes that had been imposed on them." Both the reality and the promise were that there was no winner of the Cold War: it was a negotiated peace that was in the interest of both countries.

When in 1992, during his losing re-election campaign, President Bush arrogantly boasted that "We won the Cold War!" he broke his own promise to Gorbachev and helped plant the roots of the new cold war. "In psychological and political terms," Matlock says, "President Bush planted a landmine under the future U.S.-Russian relationship" when he broke his promise and made that claim.

Bush's broken promise had two significant effects. Psychologically, it created the appearance in the Russian psyche that Gorbachev had been tricked by America: it eroded trust in America and in the new peace. Politically, it created in the American psyche the false idea that Russia was a defeated country whose sphere of interest did not need to be considered. Both these perceptions contributed to the new cold war.

Not only was the broken promise of NATO expansion not the first broken American promise, it was also not the last. In 1997, when President Clinton made the decision to expand NATO much more than an inch to the east, he at least signed the Russia-NATO Founding Act , which explicitly promised that as NATO expanded east, there would be no "permanent stationing of substantial combat forces." This obliterated American promise planted the third root of the new cold war.

Since that third promise, NATO has, in the words of Stephen Cohen, built up its "permanent land, sea and air power near Russian territory, along with missile-defense installations." US and NATO weapons and troops have butted right up against Russia's borders, while anti-missile installations have surrounded it, leading to the feeling of betrayal in Russia and the fear of aggression. Among the earliest moves of the Trump administration were the moving of NATO troops into Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria and nearby Norway.

Mikhail Gorbachev, who offered the West Russia and cooperation in place of the Soviet Union and Cold War, was rewarded with lies, broken promises and betrayal. That was the sowing of the first seeds of the new cold war. The second planting happened during the Yeltsin years that followed. During this stage, the Russian people were betrayed because their hopes for democracy and for an economic system compatible with the West were both destroyed by American intervention.

The goal, Matlock too gently explains, "had to be a shift of the bulk of the economy to private ownership." What transpired was what Naomi Klein called in The Shock Doctrine "one of the greatest crimes committed against a democracy in modern history." The States allowed no gradual transition. Matlock says the "Western experts advised a clean break with the past and a transition to private ownership without delay." But there was no legitimate private capital coming out of the communist system, so there was no private money with which to privatize. So, there was only one place for the money to come. As Matlock explains, the urgent transition allowed "privileged insiders[to] join the criminals who had been running a black market [and to] steal what they could, as fast as they could." The sudden, uncompromising transition imposed on Russia by the United States enabled, according to Cohen, "a small group of Kremlin-connected oligarchs to plunder Russia's richest assets and abet the plunging of some two-thirds of its people into poverty and misery."

The rape of Russia was funded, overseen and ordered by the United States and handed over by President George H.W. Bush to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Much of their advice, Matlock says generously, "was not only useless, but sometimes actually damaging."

Sometimes damaging? In the first year, millions lost their entire life savings. Subsidy cuts meant that many Russians didn't get paid at all. Klein says that by 1992, Russians were consuming 40% less than they were the year before, and one third of them had suddenly sunk below the poverty line. The economic policies wrestled onto Russia by the US and the transition experts and international development experts it funded and sent over led to, what Cohen calls, "the near ruination of Russia." Russia's reward for ending the Cold War and joining the Western economic community was, in Cohen's words, "the worst economic depression in peacetime, the disintegration of the highly professionalized Soviet middle class, mass poverty, plunging life expectancy [for men, it had fallen below sixty], the fostering of an oligarchic financial elite, the plundering of Russia's wealth, and more."

By the time Putin came to power in 2000, Cohen says, "some 75% of Russians were living in poverty." 75%! Millions and millions of Russian lives were destroyed by the American welcoming of Russia into the global economic community.

But before Putin came to power, there was more Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a necessity for Clinton and the United States because Yeltsin was the pliable puppet who would continue to enforce the cruel economic transition. But to continue the interference in, and betrayal of, the Russian people economically, it would now be necessary to interfere in and betray the Russian democracy.

In late 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin won a year of special powers from the Russian Parliament: for one year, he was to be, in effect, the dictator of Russia to facilitate the midwifery of the birth of a democratic Russia. In March of 1992, under pressure from the, by now, impoverished, devastated and discontented population, parliament repealed the dictatorial powers it had granted him. Yeltsin responded by declaring a state of emergency, re-bestowing upon himself the repealed dictatorial powers. Russia's Constitutional Court ruled that Yeltsin was acting outside the constitution. But the US sided – against the Russian people and against the Russian Constitutional Court – with Yeltsin.

Intoxicated with American support, Yeltsin dissolved the parliament that had rescinded his powers and abolished the constitution of which he was in violation. In a 636-2 vote, the Russian parliament impeached Yeltsin. But, President Clinton again sided with Yeltsin against the Russian people and the Russian law, backed him and gave him $2.5 billion in aid. Clinton was blocking the Russian people's choice of leaders.

Yeltsin took the money and sent police officers and elite paratroopers to surround the parliament building. Clinton "praised the Russian President has (sic) having done 'quite well' in managing the standoff with the Russian Parliament," as The New York Times reported at the time. Clinton added that he thought "the United States and the free world ought to hang in there" with their support of Yeltsin against his people, their constitution and their courts, and judged Yeltsin to be "on the right side of history."

On the right side of history and armed with machine guns and tanks, in October 1993, Yeltsin's troops opened fire on the crowd of protesters, killing about 100 people before setting the Russian parliament building on fire. By the time the day was over, Yeltsin's troops had killed approximately 500 people and wounded nearly 1,000. Still, Clinton stood with Yeltsin. He provided ludicrous cover for Yeltsin's massacre , claiming that "I don't see that he had any choice . If such a thing happened in the United States, you would have expected me to take tough action against it." Clinton's Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, said that the US supported Yeltsin's suspension of parliament in these "extraordinary times."

In 1996, elections were looming, and America's hegemonic dreams still needed Yeltsin in power. But it wasn't going to happen without help. Yeltsin's popularity was nonexistent, and his approval rating was at about 6%. According to Cohen, Clinton's interference in Russian politics, his "crusade" to "reform Russia," had by now become official policy . And so, America boldly interfered directly in Russian elections . Three American political consultants, receiving "direct assistance from Bill Clinton's White House," secretly ran Yeltsin's reelection campaign. As Time magazine broke the story , "For four months, a group of American political consultants clandestinely participated in guiding Yeltsin's campaign."

"Funded by the US government," Cohen reports, Americans "gave money to favored Russian politicians, instructed ministers, drafted legislation and presidential decrees, underwrote textbooks, and served at Yeltsin's reelection headquarters in 1996."

More incriminating still is that Richard Dresner, one of the three American consultants, maintained a direct line to Clinton's Chief Strategist, Dick Morris. According to reporting by Sean Guillory , in his book, Behind the Oval Office , Morris says that, with Clinton's approval, he received weekly briefings from Dresner that he would give to Clinton. Based on those briefings, Clinton would then provide recommendations to Dresner through Morris.

Then ambassador to Russia, Thomas Pickering, even pressured an opposing candidate to drop out of the election to improve Yeltsin's odds of winning.

The US not only helped run Yeltsin's campaign, they helped pay for it. The US backed a $10.2 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan for Russia, the second-biggest loan the IMF had ever given. The New York Times reported that the loan was "expected to be helpful to President Boris N. Yeltsin in the presidential election in June." The Times explained that the loan was "a vote of confidence" for Yeltsin who "has been lagging well behind in opinion polls" and added that the US Treasury Secretary "welcomed the fund's decision."

Yeltsin won the election by 13%, and Time magazine's cover declared: "Yanks to the rescue: The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win". Cohen reports that the US ambassador to Russia boasted that "without our leadership we would see a considerably different Russia today." That's a confession of election interference.

Asserting its right as the unipolar victor of a Cold War it never won, betraying the central promise of the negotiated end of the cold war by engulfing Russia's neighbors, arming those nations against its written and signed word and stealing all Russian hope in capitalism and democracy by kidnapping and torturing Russian capitalism and democracy, the roots of the new cold war were not planted by Russian lies and aggression, as the doctrinal Western version teaches, but by the American lies and aggression that the fact checked, demythologized version of history reveals.

Ted Snider writes on analyzing patterns in US foreign policy and history.

[Sep 15, 2019] USA foreign policy since 70th was controlled by neocons who as a typical Trotskyites (neoliberalism is actually Trotskyism for the rich) were/are hell-bent of world domination and practice gangster capitalism in foreign policy

The USA might eventually pay the price for the economic rape and alienation of Russia by criminal Clinton and his coterie
Notable quotes:
"... Madeline "not so bright" Allbright was the first swan. As well as Clinton attempts to bankrupt and subdue Russia and criminal (in a sense of no permission from the UN) attack on Yugoslavia. Both backfired: Russia became permanently hostile. The fact he and his coterie were not yet tried by something like Nuremberg tribunal is only due to the USA dominance at this stage of history. ..."
"... The truth is that after the dissolution of the USSR the USA foreign policy became completely unhinged. And inside the country the elite became cannibalistic, as there was no external threat to its dominance in the form of the USSR. ..."
"... Still as an imperial state and the center of neoliberal empire the USA relies more on financial instruments and neoliberal comprador elite inside the country. ..."
Sep 15, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

likbez -> anne... , September 14, 2019 at 08:30 PM

"The US served as a benevolent hegemon, administering the occasional rap on the knuckles to those acting in bad faith"

USA foreign policy since 70th was controlled by neocons who as a typical Trotskyites (neoliberalism is actually Trotskyism for the rich) were/are hell-bent of world domination and practice gangster capitalism in foreign policy.

Bolton attitude to UN is very symptomatic for the neocons as a whole.

Madeline "not so bright" Allbright was the first swan. As well as Clinton attempts to bankrupt and subdue Russia and criminal (in a sense of no permission from the UN) attack on Yugoslavia. Both backfired: Russia became permanently hostile. The fact he and his coterie were not yet tried by something like Nuremberg tribunal is only due to the USA dominance at this stage of history.

The truth is that after the dissolution of the USSR the USA foreign policy became completely unhinged. And inside the country the elite became cannibalistic, as there was no external threat to its dominance in the form of the USSR.

The USA stated to behave like a typical Imperial state (New Rome, or, more correctly, London) accepting no rules/laws that are not written by themselves (and when it is convenient to obey them) with the only difference from the classic imperial states that the hegemony it not based on the military presence/occupation ( like was the case with British empire)

Although this is not completely true as there are 761 US Military Bases across the planet and only 46 Countries with no US military presence. Of them, seven countries with 13 New Military Bases were added since 09/11/2001.In 2001 the US had a quarter million troops posted abroad.

Still as an imperial state and the center of neoliberal empire the USA relies more on financial instruments and neoliberal comprador elite inside the country.

I recently learned from https://akarlin.com/2010/04/on-liberasts-and-liberasty/ that the derogatory term for the neoliberal part of the Russian elite is "liberasts" and this term gradually slipping into English language ( http://onlineslangdictionary.com/meaning-definition-of/liberast ;-)

With the collapse of neoliberal ideology in 2008 the USA centered neoliberal empire experiences first cracks. Brexit and election of Trump widened the cracks in a sense of further legitimizing the ruling neoliberal elite (big middle finger for Hillary was addressed to the elite as whole)

If oil price exceed $100 per barrel there will yet another crack or even repetition of the 2008 Great Recession on a new level (although we may argue that the Great Recession never ended and just entered in Summers terms "permanent stagnation: phase)

Although currently with a bully at the helm the USA empire still going strong in forcing vassals and competitors to reconsider their desire to challenge the USA that situation will not last. Trump currently is trying to neutralize the treat from China by rejecting classic neoliberal globalization mechanism as well as signed treaties like WTO. He might be successful in the short run but in the "long run" that undermines the USA centered neoliberal empire and speed up its demise. .

In the long run the future does not look too bright as crimes committed by the USA during triumphal period of neoliberalism hangs like albatross around the USA neck.

EU now definitely wants to play its own game as Macron recently stated and which Merkel tacitly supports. If EU allies with Russia it will became No.1 force in the world with the USA No. 2. With severe consequences for the USA.

If Russia allied with China the USA Np.1 position will hinge of keeping EU vassals in check and NATO in place. Without them it will became No.2 with fatal consequences for the dollar as world reserve currency and sudden change of the USA financial position due to the level of external debt and requires devaluation of the dollar.

Looks like 75 year after WWII the world started to self-organize a countervailing force trying to tame the USA with some interest expressed by such players as EU, Russia, China, India, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. As well as ( in the past; and possibly in the future as neoliberal counterrevolutions in both countries probably will end badly) by Brazil and Argentina.

Only Canada, Australia and probably UK can be counted as the reliable parts of the USA empire. That's not much.

[Sep 10, 2019] The idea tha the USA won the Cold War is questionable

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... As early as the late 1940's, some of us living in Russia saw that the regime was becoming dangerously remote from the concerns and hopes of the Russian people. The original ideological and emotional motivation of Russian Communism had worn itself out and become lost in the exertions of the great war. And there was already apparent a growing generational gap in the regime. ..."
"... By the time Stalin died, in 1953, even many Communist Party members had come to see his dictatorship as grotesque, dangerous and unnecessary, and there was a general impression that far-reaching changes were in order. ..."
"... Nikita Khrushchev took the leadership in the resulting liberalizing tendencies. He was in his crude way a firm Communist, but he was not wholly unopen to reasonable argument. His personality offered the greatest hope for internal political liberalization and relaxation of international tensions. ..."
"... The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's.... ..."
"... In the competition between major powers and/or alliances there are several somewhat complementary aspects of power: economic or physical aspect to create things of "value" (added by the commerce and industry of the entity), the military power, and moral aspects of the entity in terms of political and cultural resolve and unity. ..."
Sep 07, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne , September 07, 2019 at 07:23 AM

https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/09/note-to-self-_the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-hoisted-from-the-archiveshttpswwwbradford-de.html

September 5, 2019

Note to Self: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War *

Harry Dexter White... George Kennan... George Marshall... Arthur Vandenberg... Paul Hoffman... Dean Acheson... Harry S Truman... Dwight D. Eisenhower... Gerald Ford... George Shultz

* https://www.bradford-delong.com/2019/02/note-the-ten-americans-who-did-the-most-to-win-the-cold-war-archive-entry-from-brad-delongs-webjournal.html

-- Brad DeLong

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 07:24 AM
https://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/28/opinion/the-gop-won-the-cold-war-ridiculous.html

October 28, 1992

The G.O.P. Won the Cold War? Ridiculous.
By George F. Kennan

The claim heard in campaign rhetoric that the United States under Republican Party leadership "won the cold war" is intrinsically silly.

The suggestion that any Administration had the power to influence decisively the course of a tremendous domestic political upheaval in another great country on another side of the globe is simply childish. No great country has that sort of influence on the internal developments of any other one.

As early as the late 1940's, some of us living in Russia saw that the regime was becoming dangerously remote from the concerns and hopes of the Russian people. The original ideological and emotional motivation of Russian Communism had worn itself out and become lost in the exertions of the great war. And there was already apparent a growing generational gap in the regime.

These thoughts found a place in my so-called X article in Foreign Affairs in 1947, from which the policy of containment is widely seen to have originated. This perception was even more clearly expressed in a letter from Moscow written in 1952, when I was Ambassador there, to H. Freeman Matthews, a senior State Department official, excerpts from which also have been widely published. There were some of us to whom it was clear, even at that early date, that the regime as we had known it would not last for all time. We could not know when or how it would be changed; we knew only that change was inevitable and impending.

By the time Stalin died, in 1953, even many Communist Party members had come to see his dictatorship as grotesque, dangerous and unnecessary, and there was a general impression that far-reaching changes were in order.

Nikita Khrushchev took the leadership in the resulting liberalizing tendencies. He was in his crude way a firm Communist, but he was not wholly unopen to reasonable argument. His personality offered the greatest hope for internal political liberalization and relaxation of international tensions.

The downing of the U-2 spy plane in 1960, more than anything else, put an end to this hope. The episode humiliated Khrushchev and discredited his relatively moderate policies. It forced him to fall back, for the defense of his own political position, on a more strongly belligerent anti-American tone of public utterance.

The U-2 episode was the clearest example of that primacy of military over political policy that soon was to become an outstanding feature of American cold war policy. The extreme militarization of American discussion and policy, as promoted by hard-line circles over the ensuing 25 years, consistently strengthened comparable hard-liners in the Soviet Union.

The more America's political leaders were seen in Moscow as committed to an ultimate military rather than political resolution of Soviet-American tensions, the greater was the tendency in Moscow to tighten the controls by both party and police, and the greater the braking effect on all liberalizing tendencies in the regime. Thus the general effect of cold war extremism was to delay rather than hasten the great change that overtook the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980's....

ilsm -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:28 AM
Very interesting observation.

In the competition between major powers and/or alliances there are several somewhat complementary aspects of power: economic or physical aspect to create things of "value" (added by the commerce and industry of the entity), the military power, and moral aspects of the entity in terms of political and cultural resolve and unity.

Early in my time in the service, when I had time to think being at a remote station I decided the west had the marked economic advantage, particularly as the green revolution permitted some higher level of nutrition security.

Later on I recall discussions where the collapse of the Soviet Union was assured but would take in to the 21st century to occur. The big question then was "would a nuclear exchange occur in the way of a peaceful collapse".....

The presence of the A Bomb in some ways prevented war in other encouraged intrigue and small scrapes in to each other's spheres.

There was a bit of the Divine in the world getting through the Cold War.

The Berlin wall came down as hoped but 25 years earlier than I expected.

Plp -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 08:58 AM
Stalin built the party military complex that ran Russia from 1932 to 1989

Cold war liberals built uncle's post was military industrial complex as a counterpart to Stalin's

alas thanx to guys from wasp firms on Wall Street like Dean Acheson that knew the planet was ours to pluck post 1946

anne -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:14 AM
These are important comments, and deserve to be saved and gradually expanded on. I appreciate this.
ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:35 AM
As an aside the Ukraine farmers whom Stalin "collectivized" were seen as impediment to industrializing.......

interesting too, how LBJ kept guns and butter and went pedal to the metal in Vietnam......

politics has always (since June 1950, anyway) "ended when the pentagon appropriations bills were up for enacting".

Which may be synonymous with the proscription about politics kept out of diplomacy?

anne -> ilsm... , September 07, 2019 at 09:15 AM
Do save and develop this interesting thinking further over time.
Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:46 AM
KENNAN Was a lucky guy. He hit the right notes at the right time and then as he got second thoughts and better vision. Like yugoslaving peoples China in 1949
He was side tracked and then sent out to ivy pastures
Plp -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:53 AM
U 2

Nonsense. The moment to engage was 1953 -54 and yes a goo regime blocked it

But it was Truman that crossed the parallel in 1950 and tried to liberate north Korea

It was Kennedy that preferred brinksmanship to real engagement. Brush wars and regime change to accommodation. Missile racing to sensible unilateralism

Yes LBJ was an ignorant oaf on foreign policy. But it was Nixon that finally used PRC as Yugo twenty years too late of course

The cold war was invented by democrats and exploited by republicans for domestic shindiggery. Tragicomedy cinescope scaled

EMichael -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:18 AM
Yes, very clever how democrats coerced Stalin into annexing eastern Europe and placing millions of people under total control in every way of life.

Your ideology trumps facts when needed.

ilsm -> EMichael... , September 07, 2019 at 09:39 AM
democrats + Truman and Churchill......

Had FDR survived the 3 western sectors of Germany would have been demilitarized, and agrarian.

Churchill conned Truman to use Potsdam as a replay of Munich!

Keenan's angst was the "militarized" usurped "containment".

Stalin may not have been replaying 1938........

Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:37 AM
Pompous banality worthy of a tenured entitled utterly secure mind

I don't like or respect Brad but I do enjoy him ss a punching bag

Plp -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 08:39 AM
Nixon and Kissinger won the cold war For God sake. Everyone knows that

George Schultz and KENNAN?

Where's Joe McCarthy? And Paul Nitze

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 08:51 AM
Where is Luce?

Truman and Acheson.... were there when Keenan went off to teach instead of be ignored.

Marshall aside from his plan, he and his Army staffers just off beating Hitler knew Chiang was not worth propping.

The Luce empire went all cold warrior over "who lost China" which gave Joe McCarthy a drum.

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:27 AM
:<)

You could have no Cold War without the agitprop. As with the GWOT today.

The one no loser in the demise of the commies: the MIC!

ilsm -> Plp... , September 07, 2019 at 09:41 AM
As Vinegar Joe Stillwell observed.......

eventually Stillwell went.

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AM
Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s. There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about. If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.

[Sep 10, 2019] It s all about Gene Sharp and seeping neoliberal regime change using Western logistical support, money, NGO and intelligence agencies and MSM as the leverage

Highly recommended!
What democracy they are talking about? Democracy for whom? This Harvard political prostitutes are talking about democracy for oligarchs which was the nest result of EuroMaydan and the ability of Western companies to buy assets for pennies on the dollar without the control of national government like happen in xUSSR space after dissolution of the USSR, which in retrospect can be classified as a color revolution too, supported by financial injection, logistical support and propaganda campaign in major Western MSM.
What Harvard honchos probably does not understand or does not wish to understand is that neoliberalism as a social system lost its attraction and is in irreversible decline. The ideology of neoliberalism collapsed much like Bolsheviks' ideology. As Politician like Joe Boden which still preach neoliberalism are widely viewed as corrupt or senile (or both) hypocrites.
The "Collective West" still demonstrates formidable intelligence agencies skills (especially the USA and GB), but the key question is: "What they are fighting for?"
They are fighting for neoliberalism which is a lost case. Which looks like KGB successes after WWIII. They won many battles and lost the Cold war.
Not that Bolsheviks in the USSR was healthy or vibrant. Economics was a deep stagnation, alcoholism among working class was rampant, the standard of living of the majority of population slides each year, much like is the case with neoliberalism after, say, 1991. Hidden unemployment in the USSR was high -- at least in high teens if not higher. Like in the USA now good jobs were almost impossible to obtain without "extra help". Medical services while free were dismal, especially dental -- which were horrible. Hospitals were poor as church rats as most money went to MIC. Actually, like in the USA now, MIC helped to strangulate the economy and contributed to the collapse. It was co a corrupt and decaying , led by completely degenerated leadership. To put the person of the level of Gorbachov level of political talent lead such a huge and complex country was an obvious suicide.
But the facts speak for themselves: what people usually get as the result of any color revolution is the typical for any county which lost the war: dramatic drop of the standard of living due to economic rape of the country.
While far form being perfect the Chinese regime at least managed to lift the standard of living of the majority of the population and provide employment. After regime change China will experience the same economic rape as the USSR under Yeltsin regime. So in no way Hong Cong revolution can be viewed a progressive phenomenon despite all the warts of neoliberalism with Chenese characteristics in mainland China (actually this is a variant of NEP that Gorbachov tried to implement in the USSR, but was to politically incompetent to succeed)
Aug 31, 2019 | Chris Fraser @ChrisFraser_HKU • Aug 27 \z

Replying to @edennnnnn_ @AMFChina @lihkg_forum

A related resource that deserves wide circulation:

Why nonviolent resistance beats violent force in effecting social, political change – Harvard Gazette

CHENOWETH: I think it really boils down to four different things. The first is a large and diverse participation that's sustained.

The second thing is that [the movement] needs to elicit loyalty shifts among security forces in particular, but also other elites. Security forces are important because they ultimately are the agents of repression, and their actions largely decide how violent the confrontation with -- and reaction to -- the nonviolent campaign is going to be in the end. But there are other security elites, economic and business elites, state media. There are lots of different pillars that support the status quo, and if they can be disrupted or coerced into noncooperation, then that's a decisive factor.

The third thing is that the campaigns need to be able to have more than just protests; there needs to be a lot of variation in the methods they use.

The fourth thing is that when campaigns are repressed -- which is basically inevitable for those calling for major changes -- they don't either descend into chaos or opt for using violence themselves. If campaigns allow their repression to throw the movement into total disarray or they use it as a pretext to militarize their campaign, then they're essentially co-signing what the regime wants -- for the resisters to play on its own playing field. And they're probably going to get totally crushed.

Wai Sing-Rin @waisingrin • Aug 27

Replying to @ChrisFraser_HKU @edennnnnn_ and 2 others

Anyone who watched the lone frontliner (w translator) sees the frontliners are headed for disaster. They're fighting just to fight with no plans nor objectives.
They see themselves as heroes protecting the HK they love. No doubt their sincerity, but there are 300 of them left.

[Sep 09, 2019] Russians still wonder if perestroika was a curse or a blessing by ALEXANDROVA Lyudmila

Sep 09, 2019 | tass.com

Many voice conflicting judgments, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. Thirty years after the Soviet leadership under Mikhail Gorbachev embarked on a policy of reforms that would go down in history under a name sounding very oddly to a foreign ear - perestroika - Russians are discussing those events of their country's recent history again. Many voice conflicting judgements, but an impartial look back on history produces the unequivocal conclusion: yes, mistakes and shortcomings were many, but without perestroika the world would have never been what it is today. On April 23, 1985 the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party gathered for its historic full-scale meeting to set course towards what was described as fundamental reorganization and acceleration of the Soviet Union's economic development after a long period of what was condemned as stagnation. The new course, originally expected to overhaul and invigorate the Soviet system, ended in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"The gist of what happened then was simple: at the very top a decision was a made the people are free to express their thought in public and for that they will neither risk losing their life or go to jail or even go jobless," says the founder of the Yabloko party, Grigory Yavlinsky. "There emerged the freedom of speech. The feeling of fear vanished. Full stop. All other processes that followed were nothing but consequences. The previous political system was built on falsehoods. The advent of truth caused a lethal effect on that system, and it fell apart."

"Perestroika's worst problem was there was no strategic planning. The reform plan and its end goal were very unclear all along," Sergey Filatov, the former chief of staff of Russia's first president Boris Yeltsin told TASS. "Without a plan the policy was doomed to fail."

And still, Filatov said, perestroika caused a tremendous impact: it triggered reforms and showed the people that changes were possible even under the old system.

"Perestroika was an intricate process," says Aleksei Makarkin, the first deputy president of the Political Technologies Centre. "It was first a belated attempt to reform the economy, then the ensuing chaos, and ultimately an attempt to defuse popular anger with political reform. The process eventually broke bounds. It all ended with the collapse of the country. Gorbachev merely tried to make that process controllable more or less," Makarkin told TASS.

Gorbachev was forced to launch economic reforms, because the main engine that kept the Soviet economy going was the export of oil. When oil prices slumped, something had to be done right away," Makarkin recalled. "His predecessors had drawn up no strategic plans. Nobody dared touch the system. Later, when some steps began to be taken at last, it turned out that no one had the slightest idea of how to go about that business. Conflicting decisions followed in quick succession. First, an attempt was made to speed up economic development and diversify the economy at a time when oil prices plummeted. In 1987 the attempt failed. Other remedies began to be tried. Some traces of a free market economy began to develop, such as cooperatives in the services and public catering. Some components of a controlled market economy cropped up."

The rapprochement with the West under Gorbachev was started with a far-reaching aim, Makarkin believes. In that situation the Soviet economy was no longer capable of carrying the burden of the Cold War and the arms race. "Without that no rapprochement might have ever happened. Also, there was the war in Afghanistan that had to be curtailed."

"In general, the Gorbachev era in home and foreign policies was that of haste, inconsistency, belated decisions and forced moves. In the meantime, the people's living standards slumped and protest sentiment soared. Attempts to woo the general public reached nowhere. In 1987-1988 social discontent soared and Boris Yeltsin emerged as its embodiment."

"Hoping to ease tensions in society political reforms were declared only to cause centrifugal processes," Makarkin recalls. "As a result, the Soviet republics began to drift ever farther apart - some before the August 1991 coup, and others after. A counter-attempt to create something like a federation or confederation drew strong objections from the hard-line conservatives, which led to the country's utter collapse.

But perestroika should not be painted only in dark colours, Makarkin said.

"One should remember that Gorbachev gave the people freedom - first, economic, and then political. For instance, the freedom to travel out of the country and back: something everybody takes for granted. It was under Gorbachev that the Church regained full legitimacy. Lastly, the freedom of speech, which has long become a fact of life."

"Also, Gorbachev largely takes the credit for avoiding a large-scale civil war and chaos and total chaos in a vast country, however tragic the unrest in Tbilisi, Vilnius and Nagorno-Karabakh of those days may still look these days. He decided against the extreme scenario implying the use of force, which many interpreted as a sign of weakness. It should be remembered: those who dared use force merely accelerated the country's collapse."

The policy of perestroika proclaimed in the Soviet Union in 1985 has caused more harm than good, say 55% of Russians, as follows from a Levada poll held in March. In contrast to this, ten years ago 70% said perestroika was a bad choice.

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[Sep 09, 2019] Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s.

Notable quotes:
"... There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about. ..."
"... If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War. ..."
Sep 09, 2019 | economistsview.typepad.com

anne -> anne... , September 07, 2019 at 09:31 AM

Obviously since there is a determined American Cold War effort being waged right now, American historians were mistaken at the end of the 1980s.

There had been no winning of the Cold War, nor even a clear and shared understanding of what the Cold War was about.

If the Cold War was only about balancing the Soviet Union and developing economically far beyond the Soviet Union and Soviet ideas faltering, that happened. However, there was obviously more or with no Soviet Union to counter we would not now be taking policy steps to carry on the Cold War.

[Sep 09, 2019] Who Won the Cold War? by John Payne

Notable quotes:
"... No, America lost the Cold War. We may be richer than when it started, but a larger portion of our incomes go to the government . Even worse, the United States now leads the world in imprisonment –not just by rate but in absolute terms as well, with 1 out of every 150 Americans behind bars. This is largely a consequence of the War on Drugs, which is a war the American government wages upon its own citizens. In the years of the Cold War and since, we have become substantially less free. ..."
Nov 09, 2009 | www.theamericanconservative.com

As everyone should know by now but probably does not, this is the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The first breach in that wall set off a chain reaction that would eventually topple Communist governments and liberate people across half of Europe. It would also end the Cold War between the West and the Soviet Block, substantially diminishing the possibility for nuclear annihilation. However, when people say that the West–or more particularly, America–won the Cold War, I'm not exactly sure what they mean.

Of course, America still exists as a country while the Soviet Union does not, but in a war that is supposedly about ideas and ideals, victory must me something more than outlasting your opponent.

I think the more appropriate way to look at the matter is to ask: who has benefited the most from the end of the Cold War? Clearly, it is the peoples of East Germany, Poland, Estonia, etc. that have gained the most. They are far richer than they were twenty years ago, and more importantly they are able to speak and think as they please without fear of imprisonment, torture, and possibly death at the hands of their governments. Even Russia, which is still far from free, is a much freer place than it was under the Soviets. Dissident journalists do still turn up missing, but to be known as a dissident journalist in the Soviet Union was almost an impossibility. The post-Communist states all have a long way to go to complete freedom, but with few exceptions , they are all now much closer to that ideal than they were twenty years ago.

But can we say that the people of the United States also won the Cold War? Sadly, I do not believe so. After World War II, the United States' standing army likely would have shrunk back to the small peacetime numbers that existed for most of our history if it weren't for the Cold War. Instead, the U.S. military spread across the world, allegedly to keep the country free from the horrors of Communism. Ironically, keeping the people of America free required enslaving a large percentage of her young men through the country's first peacetime draft. And of course, soldiers must be housed, equipped, fed, and paid, which required a higher level of taxation than Americans were used to in peacetime. Twenty years ago, the United States could have reversed this course and reaped the peace dividend, but instead the government pressed ahead and extended American influence into the former Soviet Block–taking on new powers and responsibilities along the way.

No, America lost the Cold War. We may be richer than when it started, but a larger portion of our incomes go to the government . Even worse, the United States now leads the world in imprisonment –not just by rate but in absolute terms as well, with 1 out of every 150 Americans behind bars. This is largely a consequence of the War on Drugs, which is a war the American government wages upon its own citizens. In the years of the Cold War and since, we have become substantially less free.

One right that is still largely intact is the Freedom of Religion, but most versions of American Christianity today bear little resemblance to the teachings found in the Gospels. In this country today, people tend to worship the American Jesus , more known for killing "hajis" than offering salvation. Christianity has become a state religion in this country as it was for the Roman Emperor Constantine, and it is put to the same use of justifying military power. Perhaps even worse than using the Prince of Peace for war, the president (provided he is of the right party, of course) is now viewed by most as an avatar of God on Earth if not God himself. Many American Christians have rendered everything unto Caesar and have nothing left for God.

The world is a far freer place than it was twenty years ago, but America is not. Kierkegaard once wrote "What slave in chains is as unfree as a tyrant!" As the tyrant of the world, America is enslaved to all. Truly, America has gained the world, but lost her soul.

woodbutcher says: November 9, 2009 at 8:44 pm

America has gained the world, but lost her soul. That is what we get for trying to legislate morality .

... ... ...

Thomas says: November 10, 2009 at 1:53 am

And yet we had plenty of (perhaps more) morality laws before the War on Drugs

Perhaps the problem is that the government does not defend its borders (well, that and the intelligence agencies have long funded some operations with drug money look at Afghanistan!)?

Not everything illegal has a special allure, it really depends on enforcement of the law.

And, John, a lot of Eastern Europe is NOT better off than it was 20 years ago, particularly now that their speculative bubbles have burst. The signs are shinier, there are more decent restaurants, but many other economic, social, and moral declines. And East Europeans have gained freedom in many ways, but lost it in others.

People forget that many of the anti-Communist movements like the New Forum activists in the DDR or Solidarnosc in Poland claimed they were pro-socialist (just for a more democratic, participatory regime). The original point was not joining NATO and mass privatisation, but rather civil liberties, and, sometimes, true conservative principles (pro-church, rediscovering a spiritual mission of their people). But church attendance has increased slightly while (corporal, at least) immorality has increased significantly! What gain is that? Much of the national infrastructure was stolen by oligarchs who took the money to Switzerland, much others were sold to foreigners.

Basically, (most of) East Europe has been absorbed into the control of the international financial elite (or NWO or whatever you prefer to term it).

Thomas says: November 14, 2009 at 3:05 am T.O.M.-

There are some very secular, more generous welfare states with considerably more civil liberties. Of course they have their own problems, but that is not the source of our War of Terror, War on Drugs, USA Patriot Act, etc. Paleoconservatives are too often naifs in suggesting, essentially, that some lead us on the road to Hell with good intentions. It is actually direct corruption in our govt that is the source of all our greatest national catastrophes.

I found a figure for Cuba. The 2005 official statistics put it at about 490 per 100K, so about 70% the US rate – still high, but no cigar. Oh I see a more recent (2008?) rate of 531, but still keeping pace with the US at about 70% its rate. That is a British univeristy study – they estimate the Sudanese rate about 1/20 the US rate (so they had a civil war, but they aren't totalitarian, what did you think?). Zimbabwe is given as about 1/5 the US rate. The link, if it works to post it here-

http://www.kcl.ac.uk/depsta/law/research/icps/downloads/wppl-8th_41.pdf

Thomas O. Meehan says: November 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm T

Thomas, were you referring to England and the continental welfare states with their anti free speech laws, confiscatory taxation and intrusive regulation of every stage of life? Welfare states must be coercive in order to function. That's why conservatives off all types abhor them.

The percentage of population in incarceration can be a deceptive statistic. States lie about these things for a start. Totalitarian states like Cuba and China have the option of simply killing offenders and of course many people just flee state control.

The US has a large degree of incarceration due to the popularity of "Get tough on drug offender" legislation. We have a large criminal underclass in this country and after decades of revolving door justice, the public just got fed up. It may not be humane, but it works. That's democracy for you.

By the way, there is no system more involved in the criminal justice system than our welfare bureaucracy. Most criminals are born into to welfare, graduate to truancy and addiction and then crime, all under the watchful eye of social workers, guidance counselors, school psychologists, court appointed counselors and probation officers, etc. etc. But this shouldn't take any of the luster off welfare states, right?

Thomas says: November 15, 2009 at 4:42 am

Actually, China records their executions, they do not just shoot criminals on sight. Neither does Cuba. And neither of those countries would qualify as the top 10 or 20 draconian, authoritarian states (i.e., where citizens shake in fear of the police) at the moment.

England is widely known to be the most surveillance over its population, but it also has the weakest welfare state in Western Europe!!!! Scandinavia has much more freedom in general and much stronger welfare. Your attempt to make some sort of correlation is ridiculous. None of these countries has a PATRIOT ACT, where you can be deemed an enemy and held indefinitely. Britain has tried several times to enact something similar, but the Lords always block it. It would be absurd in Germany even.

The United States is simply no longer a beacon of civil liberties even compared with true welfare states. Sorry.

And if you are worried about the existence of a criminal underclass, you can probably blame the extreme inequalities of wealth, the co-existence of hyper-First World and quasi-Third World elements. All of Latin America has the same, though their welfare states are rarely very advanced. I think you would find the same trend in Africa.

Mind you, I don't want to be like Sweden. I would prefer America to return to the 50s (not entirely, but overall it would be an improvement). In the 50s there was a more even redistribution of wealth and less nanny statism because there was more direct dirigisme. The State was more involved in industrial planning and regulated trade and financial institutions. Individuals paid less tax because corporations paid more. If the economy is planned such that productive employment is a priority, then you can maintain a stable working class. If you take that away, like the US and UK have done, then you get a permanent underclass with no prospects of a stable life.

Thomas O. Meehan says: November 15, 2009 at 5:18 pm

The problem with the 1950's is that they inevitably evolve into the 1960's. And soon we're where we are now. That's the way of welfare states, they introduce such dependency, indolence and corruption that they just grow. But hey they always have their defenders. As for the lack of a Patriot Act in Europe, you must be kidding. The least you could do is read the British press. British subjects can be criminally charged for suggesting that heterosexual couples make better adoptive parents than homosexuals. The French police do as they please, and always have. The British do have preventative detention.

Nobody said that the Chinese and or Cubans shot people out of hand. But they do shoot people rather than feed them for long periods, as we do. You can believe their statistics if you want to.

Our underclass remains a dangerous nuisance despite public education, taxpayer supported charity care, a multitude of Federal and State programs and affirmative action. Of course we are importing more every day, adding to the income disparity you speak of. Perhaps we should deport people to level out the disparity a bit. What do you think?

I like your idea of our no longer being a beacon. It's attracting the wrong sort.

Thomas says: November 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Yes, of course we should deport people. Illegal immigration is not the source of the US socioeconomic problems, but it compounds them by a serious factor.

Being a former resident of Houston, where parts of the city (probably the most red-voting major city in the US) were literally crawling with illegals who undercut everyone else's wages (that's why they are here), I can attest a bit to the corrupting effect this has on everyone involved.

[Sep 09, 2019] Who Won the Cold War by Jordan Michael Smith

Notable quotes:
"... Westad faults Truman for being unwilling or unable to extend Franklin Roosevelt's friendly policy toward the USSR. ..."
"... "The Soviet assistance program for China was not only the biggest Moscow ever undertook outside its own borders," Westad writes. "It was also, in relative terms, the biggest such program undertaken by any country anywhere, including the US Marshall Plan for Europe." Within a decade following this generosity, they almost fought a nuclear war. ..."
"... WESTAD ALSO wrote a book on the fall of détente, for which he distinctly blames Americans. "Nixon and Kissinger had gone further in attempting to manage the Cold War together with the Soviet Union than most Americans were willing to accept," he writes. "Most Americans were simply not willing to tolerate that the United States could have an equal in international affairs, in the 1970s or ever." This is where Gaddis's immersion in American documents might have been helpful. Most Americans, at least on the anti-détente side, were worried not that the Soviet Union was at parity with the United States, but that it had actually exceeded America's capabilities. However wrongheaded and overly alarmist that perspective was, its importance in explaining American behavior should not be overlooked. ..."
"... Westad will have none of it. "Intent to move away from the Cold War as a national emergency, Eisenhower ended up institutionalizing it as policy and doctrine," he writes. "On the Korean War, the new president simply got lucky. . . . The turn toward a policy of massive nuclear retaliation meant preparing for strategic warfare on a scale that so far had seemed unimaginable." Pages later, he adds, ..."
"... Eisenhower lacked the imagination and political will to think about ending the Cold War after Stalin's death. This is a provocative portrayal of Eisenhower, a welcome antidote to the revisionism that can approach hagiography. But it is undercut by Westad's slight documentation. ..."
"... Cold War triumphalism has had pernicious effects on American foreign policy. A straight line can be drawn from the idea that Ronald Reagan's military buildup and assertive rhetoric ended the Cold War to the fantasy that the United States could rebuild the Middle East. The prominence of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration was due largely to the widespread belief that they had been right in seeing the transformative potential of American power during the Cold War. Though Donald Trump was able, in the Republican primaries in 2016, to counter delusions of American omnipotence with delusions of American seclusion, the messianic streak still runs strong in the Republican Party and in segments of the Democratic Party. Its absence in current political debates should be seen as temporary. When it inevitably arises again, trouble will ensue. "We all lost the cold war," Gorbachev once said. The difficulty arises when one party thinks it won. ..."
August 27, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (New York: Basic Books, 2017), 720 pp., $35.00.

IN 2005 , the Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis released his book, The Cold War: A New History . Glowing reviews of the book followed in the New York Times and Foreign Affairs . Among the few dissenters was Tony Judt, a New York University historian who died in 2010. Judt had opposed the Iraq War, when so many other intellectuals -- including Gaddis -- joined in the delusions that George W. Bush could, should and would democratize the Middle East. By 2005, those fantasies were discredited by events in Mesopotamia (though Gaddis was unchastened, arguing in the American Interest as late as 2008 that the senior goal of American foreign policy should be "ending tyranny").

In the New York Review of Books , Judt argued that "John Lewis Gaddis has written a history of America's cold war: as seen from America, as experienced in America, and told in a way most agreeable to many American readers." However brilliant his works had been during the Cold War, Gaddis became an American triumphalist once the Berlin Wall collapsed. He had comparatively little understanding of the Soviet experience and, most egregiously, didn't seem to care much about the enormous damage both superpowers inflicted on what was then called the Third World. The result, Judt argued, was that the Cold War was "a story still to be told."

With Odd Arne Westad's new book, the story is now told. Westad is the coauthor of several books on the Cold War, as well as coeditor of the three-volume Cambridge History of the Cold War . He also wrote The Global Cold War: Third World Interventions and the Making of Our Times , which won the Bancroft Prize. As its title indicates, The Global Cold War suggested that the Cold War was very much a globe-spanning conflict, migrating into areas far beyond the borders of the two superpowers.

His new book integrates that focus on the developing world with a more traditional emphasis on the great powers. It is aimed at a general rather than a scholarly audience, with far fewer footnotes or archival research than his previous works (more on that later). The Cold War: A World History is told chronologically, but unlike most books on the subject, it begins with the right period.

THE FIRST well-regarded book on the war written from a post–Berlin Wall perspective was Martin Walker's Cold War, published in 1994. Like so many others to come, it began with the dissension in the Allied ranks in the closing years of World War II. By beginning with an earlier period, Westad advances beyond that approach. He is able to devote some attention to the ideological sources of the struggle, which began with Lenin's interpretation of communism, prioritizing global revolution and antagonism toward the noncommunist world. "The Cold War was born from the global transformations of the late nineteenth century and was buried as a result of tremendously rapid changes a hundred years later," he writes. Those changes include decolonization, the ascension of the United States to world power and the gradual decline of scientific socialism, as well as the two world wars. "The Great War jumpstarted the destinies of the two future Cold War Superpowers. It made the United States the global embodiment of capitalism and it made Russia a Soviet Union, a permanent challenge to the capitalist world." Westad also makes the thought-provoking claim, rather unusual in a book on the Cold War, that

it is therefore quite possible that the Cold War will be reduced in significance by future historians, who from their vantage point will attach more significance to the origins of Asian economic power, or the beginning of space exploration, or the eradication of smallpox.

Westad proceeds from there through all the stops along the way to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Separate chapters examine India, China, the Middle East and Latin America, as well as summaries of Richard Nixon's diplomacy and the reigns of Kennedy, Brezhnev and Gorbachev. That he manages to do all this in largely sequential fashion is doubly impressive.

The Cold War evinces a lifetime of research and thought on the subject. Compelling ideas and valuable insights appear frequently, such as: "In spite of their attractiveness on a global scale, neither the Soviet nor the US system was ever fully replicated elsewhere." Or the explanation for communism's appeal in Vietnam: "One reason, ironically, was the integration of Vietnamese elites into French culture and education, from whence the post-1914 generation took over the radicalization that was prevalent among French youth, too." Or: "In Asia as in Europe, US policy in the early Cold War was more oriented toward the expansion of capitalism as such than toward a unique preservation of US national economic advantage or the interests of specific US companies."

Westad's assessment is that some sort of conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union was inevitable once the common foe of Nazi Germany was extinguished. "Leaders of the two countries had seen each other as adversaries ever since the Russian Revolution of 1917, and in some cases even before that," he writes. Illustrative of his measured approach throughout the book, Westad assigns blame for the conflict to both parties, though not so much that he is unable to make moral distinctions. Stalin's determination to establish control in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, contributed greatly to the breakdown of good relations with Britain and the United States. But, he writes, "it was containment that made postwar conflict into a Cold War." The United States was unwilling to grant the Soviets a traditional sphere of influence, let alone see them as a comparable power deserving of commensurate respect. Seen from 2017, it might seem absurd that so many Europeans, even in England, looked upon the Soviet Union with admiration and gratitude. But, however much Americans like to forget it, it was the Red Army that "tore the guts out of the German military machine," in Winston Churchill's colorful phrase.

Westad faults Truman for being unwilling or unable to extend Franklin Roosevelt's friendly policy toward the USSR. Stalin might have hunkered down and developed foreign-policy paranoia regardless of Truman's behavior, he concedes. "But the intensity of the conflict, including the paranoia that it later produced on both sides, might have been significantly reduced if more attempts had been made by the stronger power to entice Moscow toward forms of cooperation." This is somewhat unfair to Truman. The day he was sworn in as president after Roosevelt's death, Truman said in a statement he intended "to carry on as he believed the President would have done." There is little reason to doubt his sincerity. In From Roosevelt to Truman , University of Notre Dame professor Wilson Miscamble credibly argued that Truman began his presidency with open-mindedness toward the Soviets but was convinced by events that cooperation was impossible. He wasn't alone.

ASIA, MEANWHILE , experienced rapid decolonization. Both the United States and the Soviet Union were resolutely opposed to traditional European imperialism, however much they acted as imperialist powers in their own regions. Combined with the destitution of the former colonial powers, this meant that Asian nations were freer to pursue their own destinies. Of course, in Japan and Korea, those destinies were determined by their occupiers, who molded these societies in their own images. It is a sign of Westad's attentiveness to facts that, without ever succumbing to anything resembling American chauvinism, he can write something as direct as: "The Korean War came from Stalin's change of mind. If he had not given the go-ahead to Kim, there would have been no war."

Westad betrays no romanticism toward the Soviet Union or its communist admirers -- that might seem like a low bar, but there are still scholars like Bruce Cumings who look fondly on the Marxist regimes -- but the book makes the clear-eyed observation,

Only by industrializing fast could a country become socialist and modern. The policy had an obvious appeal: in countries on the European periphery, where there was a profound sense of having fallen behind, and in countries outside of Europe, such as China, Korea, and Vietnam, rapid industrialization seemed indeed to be the way forward.

Westad might have added that the Soviet Communist Party's untouchable command of power was similarly appealing to political leaders and intellectuals worldwide.

Immediately prior to The Cold War , Westad's latest book was a study of China's foreign policy since 1750. His mastery of the subject is evident in a chapter called "China's Scourge." It is valuable not only for a discussion of how the Chinese Communist Party managed to win the civil war against the Nationalists, but also for a succinct reminder of why and how swiftly relations dissolved between the CCP and the Soviets. "The Soviet assistance program for China was not only the biggest Moscow ever undertook outside its own borders," Westad writes. "It was also, in relative terms, the biggest such program undertaken by any country anywhere, including the US Marshall Plan for Europe." Within a decade following this generosity, they almost fought a nuclear war.

Similarly incisive here is a chapter on India. Often neglected in general histories of the Cold War, India was for a while the leader of the Non-Aligned nations. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was progressive, but intent on keeping his newly independent country truly independent. This, of course, infuriated the Americans, for whom any friendliness with the USSR was interpreted as hostility to them. And yet, when India's moral purity conflicted with its conflict with China, nationalism prevailed, leading to a brief war. "In spite of its many efforts, even a country as a significant as India was never able to fully break away from the global conflict molding its policies," Westad concludes.

WESTAD ALSO wrote a book on the fall of détente, for which he distinctly blames Americans. "Nixon and Kissinger had gone further in attempting to manage the Cold War together with the Soviet Union than most Americans were willing to accept," he writes. "Most Americans were simply not willing to tolerate that the United States could have an equal in international affairs, in the 1970s or ever." This is where Gaddis's immersion in American documents might have been helpful. Most Americans, at least on the anti-détente side, were worried not that the Soviet Union was at parity with the United States, but that it had actually exceeded America's capabilities. However wrongheaded and overly alarmist that perspective was, its importance in explaining American behavior should not be overlooked.

Indeed, Westad's decision to reduce the research shown to the readers in this book makes some of his unorthodox judgments difficult to credit. Most conspicuously, Westad assesses Dwight Eisenhower harshly, but without offering enough support for his claims. In the late 1950s and 1960s, the evaluation of Ike was decidedly mixed. He was too complacent, it was said, too moderate and timid. He favored a strategic posture built around nuclear weapons that led to an arms race. He failed to confront Joe McCarthy and McCarthyism. He initiated the first of many ill-considered CIA interventions in foreign countries, in Guatemala and Iran. And he added a religious dimension to the Cold War, which elevated the conflict beyond the already-dangerous levels that existed when he took power in 1953.

That perception gave way in the 1980s to a consideration that Eisenhower was not complacent, but subtle. The opening of archives in the 1970s convinced many that his was, as the political scientist Fred Greenstein put it in his 1982 book of the same name, "the hidden-hand presidency." The popular historian Stephen Ambrose did much to further this view, first in 1981's Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment , and then in a biography, released in two volumes in 1983 and 1984. (Writing in the New Republic in 2006, the journalist John Judis observed that Ambrose's books "changed many a liberal's view of the general," counting himself among them.)

The revisionist view of Eisenhower has now become orthodoxy. He routinely numbers among historians' rankings of the top ten presidents. Far from sharing the contemporary perception of him as popular but ineffectual -- "It's just like Eisenhower. The worse I do, the more popular I get," JFK said after the Bay of Pigs disaster -- we like Ike as much as the people who wore his campaign buttons. Celebrity architect Frank Gehry designed an Eisenhower memorial that Congress has funded to the tune of $100 million, to sit across from the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, on Washington's Independence Avenue.

Most scholars lean toward the view that Ike was a first-rate Cold War strategist. He balanced the budget thrice, halting the unsustainable economic and military buildup that resulted from the Korean War. He set diplomatic precedents by meeting with Soviet leaders and organizing purposeful summits. And he outflanked domestic hysteria, establishing a bipartisan commitment to a strategy of containment. Predominant is the view expressed by Robert Bowie and Richard Immerman in their book, Waging Peace: How Eisenhower Shaped a Cold War Strategy :

Later events . . . have enhanced appreciation of his prudent and sober judgment. In a turbulent and dangerous stage of East-West relations, with an untested and erratic Soviet leadership and a changing strategic environment, Eisenhower managed a succession of crises and set a course that preserved both security and peace.

Westad will have none of it. "Intent to move away from the Cold War as a national emergency, Eisenhower ended up institutionalizing it as policy and doctrine," he writes. "On the Korean War, the new president simply got lucky. . . . The turn toward a policy of massive nuclear retaliation meant preparing for strategic warfare on a scale that so far had seemed unimaginable." Pages later, he adds,

If the president was not a Cold War hysteric, neither was he someone who could conceive of a world without the confrontation with the Soviet Union. Eisenhower lacked the imagination and political will to think about ending the Cold War after Stalin's death. This is a provocative portrayal of Eisenhower, a welcome antidote to the revisionism that can approach hagiography. But it is undercut by Westad's slight documentation.

Cold War triumphalism has had pernicious effects on American foreign policy. A straight line can be drawn from the idea that Ronald Reagan's military buildup and assertive rhetoric ended the Cold War to the fantasy that the United States could rebuild the Middle East. The prominence of neoconservatives in the George W. Bush administration was due largely to the widespread belief that they had been right in seeing the transformative potential of American power during the Cold War. Though Donald Trump was able, in the Republican primaries in 2016, to counter delusions of American omnipotence with delusions of American seclusion, the messianic streak still runs strong in the Republican Party and in segments of the Democratic Party. Its absence in current political debates should be seen as temporary. When it inevitably arises again, trouble will ensue. "We all lost the cold war," Gorbachev once said. The difficulty arises when one party thinks it won.

Jordan Michael Smith is the author of the Kindle single Humanity: How Jimmy Carter Lost an Election and Transformed the Post-Presidency .

[Sep 08, 2019] Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: Hoisted from the Archives

Sep 08, 2019 | www.bradford-delong.com

Hoisted from the Archives : Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War :

*Also, almost surely an "Agent of Influence" and perhaps an out-and-out spy for Stalin's Russia. If so, never did any intelligence service receive worse service from an agent than Stalin's Russia did from Harry Dexter White....

Donald Pretari said...

I'm reading "The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Princeton University Press))" by Benn Steil and wanted to share this quote with you.

"As regards the economics White advocated, they were hardly Marxist. They were by this time what would be described as thoroughly Keynesian. He insisted that government should take an active role in supporting economic activity; certainly more so than was orthodox before the Great Depression, but he never pushed for broad government control of the means of production. His writings on international monetary affairs express a concern with the need to fashion a system that "reduces the necessity of restrictions on private enterprise."As for White's domestic politics, these were mainstream New Deal progressive, and there is no evidence that he admired communism as a political ideology." Reply February 15, 2019 at 12:49

jorgensen said...

Vannevar Bush pushed for government support of science after the Second World War and should get some credit for America's scientific dominance through the Cold War. Reply February 16, 2019 at 15:38

andres said... The above list is old hat, so to speak. I would add the following two lists:

Russians Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War (for both sides):

1. Georgi Zhukov (Was an unbelievable s.o.b. during WWII, but did the right thing having the Red Army side with Khruschev and Malenkov against Beria).
2. Nikita Khruschev (secret speech, ousting of Stalin's old cronies and final unwillingness to go to war over Cuba outweigh Hungary and U-2 incident, imo).
3. Aleksandr Solshenitsyn (self-explanatory).
4. Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago is a better read than The Gulag Archipelago).
5. Roy Medvedev (Let History Judge).
6. Vasili Arkhipov (Don't Push the Button I).
7. Andrei Sakharov (self-explanatory).
8. Stanislav Petrov (Don't Push the Button II).
9. Mikhail Gorbachev (glasnost plus withdrawal from Afghanistan).
10. Boris Yeltsin (lousy president, but energetic opposition to August 1991 coup was vital).

Americans Who Tried Their Best to Make the U.S. Lose the Cold War.

1. Douglas MacArthur.
2. John Foster Dulles.
3. Allen Dulles.
4. Barry Goldwater.
5. Robert McNamara/McGeorge Bundy/Maxwell Taylor/W.W. Rostow (joint award for Vietnam)
6. William Westmoreland (made it even worse).
7. Richard Nixon (carpet bomber in chief, plus undermined 1968 Vietnam peace talks).
8. Henry Kissinger (took over from JF Dulles as military coup enabler in chief, and nearly pushed India to Russia's side after giving a blank check to Pakistan).
9. Ronald Reagan (was clearly pointed toward WWIII before Schultz and GHW Bush brought him around).

(There are lots more, but I've tried to limit the list to those who were either in the executive branch or came close (Goldwater). LBJ could also be included, but it is still being argued whether he led his cabinet or his cabinet led him into Vietnam). Reply February 16, 2019 at 22:52

[Sep 07, 2019] "Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have 'conspired' with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence.

Sep 07, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com

Tunga , 12 minutes ago link

Oh those securities!

""Certain key unknown figures in the Federal Reserve may have 'conspired' with key unknown figures at the Bank of New York to create a situation where $240 billion in off balance sheet securities created in 1991 as part of an official covert operation to overthrow the Soviet Union, could be cleared without publicly acknowledging their existence. These securities, originally managed by Cantor Fitzgerald, were cleared and settled in the aftermath of September 11th

through the BoNY. The $100 billion account balance bubble reported by the Wall Street Journalas being experienced in the BoNY was tip of a three day operation, when these securities were moved from off-balance-sheet to the balance sheet.

Tunga , 12 minutes ago link

https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/media/research/epr/02v08n2/0211flempdf.pdf

pparalegal , 3 minutes ago link

Oops. Building 7 and all the records gone in a collapsed vertical pancake. What a shame.

[Sep 02, 2019] Falling From Grace The Decline Of The US Empire

The USA centered global neoliberal empire falls from grace at alarming speed.
Just the discussion of this possibility would be unthinkable in 90th -- the period of triumphal advance of neoliberalism all over the globe. So thinks did change although it is unclear what is that direction of the social change -- neo-fascism or some kind of return to the New Del Capitalism (if so who will replace previous, forged by Great Depression political alignment between trade unions and management against the financial oligarchy, which financial oligarchy managed to broke using neoliberalism as the Trojan horse and bribing CEOs)
Om a was original fascist movements were also a protest against the rule of financial oligarchy. Even anti-Semitism in Germany was a kind of perverted protest against financial oligarchy as well. They were quickly subverted and in Germany anti-Semitism degenerated into irrational hatred and genocide, , but the fact remains. Just looks at NSDAP program of 1920 . Now we have somewhat similar sentiments with Wexner and Meta group in the USA. To say that they do not invoke any sympathy is an understatement.
The problem with empires that they do not only rob the "other people". They rob their own people as well, and rob them hard. The USSR people were really robbed by Soviet military industrial complex and Soviet globalist -- to the far greater extent then the USA people now. People were really as poor as church rats. Epidemic of alcoholism in the USA resembles the epidemic of narcoaddtion in the USA --- both are signs of desire then there is no jobs and now chances.
Like the collapse of the USSR was the result of the collapse of bolshevism, the collapse of the USA can be the result of the collapse of neoliberalism. Whether it will take 10 or 50 years is unclear, but the general tendency is down.
The competitors has grown much strong now and they want their place under then sub. That means squeezing the USA. Trump did agrat job in alientaing the US and that was probably the most important step is dismantling the USA empire that was taken. Add to that trade war with China and we have the situation that is not favorable to the USA politically in two important parts of the globe.
Add to this Brexit and we have clear tendency of states to reassert their sovereignty, which start hurting the USA based multinationals.
The only things that work in favor of the USA is that currently there is no clear alternative to neoliberalism other then some kind of restoration of the New Deal capitalism or neo-fasist dictatorship.
Notable quotes:
"... Self-discipline, self sacrifice and self restraint are the prices which must be paid for a civilization to survive, much less flourish, and Americans are increasingly unwilling to pay up. The America of a generation or two down the road will have the social cohesion of El Salvador. ..."
"... Being that history is always written by the tyrant of the time (which in our case was definitely behind the two last empires and a big player in Rome as and Spain as well) people are also led to believe that empire is a desireable state of cicumstance. It never was. Its the ambitions and conquistador actions of the collective psychopath. They feed on the strength of civilizations and utilize it for megalomaniac ambitions over power of others and power over everything. ..."
"... Those of you hoping for the end of American Empire need to think about what would replace it. ..."
"... You are completely delusional. The world is not better off under American stewardship. We don't need and shouldn't want anything to replace it. We don't need and shouldn't want any empire ruling the world. We would be better off without any state at all, so we could finally be free people. ..."
"... And no it probably wouldn't be better off under the Chinese. Although if the world stopped respecting American IP law, that would be a huge positive step forward. ..."
Sep 02, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by Jeff Thomas via InternationalMan.com,

Years ago, Doug Casey mentioned in a correspondence to me, "Empires fall from grace with alarming speed."

Every now and then, you receive a comment that, although it may have been stated casually, has a lasting effect, as it offers uncommon insight. For me, this was one of those and it's one that I've kept handy at my desk since that time, as a reminder.

I'm from a British family, one that left the UK just as the British Empire was about to begin its decline. They expatriated to the "New World" to seek promise for the future.

As I've spent most of my life centred in a British colony – the Cayman Islands – I've had the opportunity to observe many British contract professionals who left the UK seeking advancement, which they almost invariably find in Cayman. Curiously, though, most returned to the UK after a contract or two, in the belief that the UK would bounce back from its decline, and they wanted to be on board when Britain "came back."

This, of course, never happened. The US replaced the UK as the world's foremost empire, and although the UK has had its ups and downs over the ensuing decades, it hasn't returned to its former glory.

And it never will.

If we observe the empires of the world that have existed over the millennia, we see a consistent history of collapse without renewal. Whether we're looking at the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Spanish Empire, or any other that's existed at one time, history is remarkably consistent: The decline and fall of any empire never reverses itself; nor does the empire return, once it's fallen.

But of what importance is this to us today?

Well, today, the US is the world's undisputed leading empire and most Americans would agree that, whilst it's going through a bad patch, it will bounce back and might even be better than ever.

Not so, I'm afraid. All empires follow the same cycle. They begin with a population that has a strong work ethic and is self-reliant. Those people organize to form a nation of great strength, based upon high productivity.

This leads to expansion, generally based upon world trade. At some point, this gives rise to leaders who seek, not to work in partnership with other nations, but to dominate them, and of course, this is when a great nation becomes an empire. The US began this stage under the flamboyant and aggressive Teddy Roosevelt.

The twentieth century was the American century and the US went from victory to victory, expanding its power.

But the decline began in the 1960s, when the US started to pursue unwinnable wars, began the destruction of its currency and began to expand its government into an all-powerful body.

Still, this process tends to be protracted and the overall decline often takes decades.

So, how does that square with the quote, "Empires fall from grace with alarming speed"?

Well, the preparation for the fall can often be seen for a generation or more, but the actual fall tends to occur quite rapidly.

What happens is very similar to what happens with a schoolyard bully.

The bully has a slow rise, based upon his strength and aggressive tendency. After a number of successful fights, he becomes first revered, then feared. He then takes on several toadies who lack his abilities but want some of the spoils, so they do his bidding, acting in a threatening manner to other schoolboys.

The bully then becomes hated. No one tells him so, but the other kids secretly dream of his defeat, hopefully in a shameful manner.

Then, at some point, some boy who has a measure of strength and the requisite determination has had enough and takes on the bully.

If he defeats him, a curious thing happens. The toadies suddenly realise that the jig is up and they head for the hills, knowing that their source of power is gone.

Also, once the defeated bully is down, all the anger, fear and hatred that his schoolmates felt for him come out, and they take great pleasure in his defeat.

And this, in a nutshell, is what happens with empires.

A nation that comes to the rescue in times of genuine need (such as the two World Wars) is revered. But once that nation morphs into a bully that uses any excuse to invade countries such as Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq and Syria, its allies may continue to bow to it but secretly fear it and wish that it could be taken down a peg.

When the empire then starts looking around for other nations to bully, such as Iran and Venezuela, its allies again say nothing but react with fear when they see the John Boltons and Mike Pompeos beating the war drums and making reckless comments.

At present, the US is focusing primarily on economic warfare, but if this fails to get the world to bend to its dominance, the US has repeatedly warned, regarding possible military aggression, that "no option is off the table."

The US has reached the classic stage when it has become a reckless bully, and its support structure of allies has begun to de-couple as a result.

At the same time that allies begin to pull back and make other plans for their future, those citizens within the empire who tend to be the creators of prosperity also begin to seek greener pastures.

History has seen this happen countless times. The "brain drain" occurs, in which the best and most productive begin to look elsewhere for their future. Just as the most productive Europeans crossed the Pond to colonise the US when it was a new, promising country, their present-day counterparts have begun moving offshore.

The US is presently in a state of suspended animation. It still appears to be a major force, but its buttresses are quietly disappearing. At some point in the near future, it's likely that the US government will overplay its hand and aggress against a foe that either is stronger or has alliances that, collectively, make it stronger.


Basil1931 , 30 minutes ago link

The greatest (so called) threats to America- the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, ISIS, ( fill in the blank for the latest overseas bogeyman-of-the-week ) pale into a wisp beside the ongoing disintegration of American traditional family life. Self-discipline, self sacrifice and self restraint are the prices which must be paid for a civilization to survive, much less flourish, and Americans are increasingly unwilling to pay up. The America of a generation or two down the road will have the social cohesion of El Salvador.

Ms No , 38 minutes ago link

You also cant warn people about the collapse of empire either. People notoriously go into denial about it and it shocks the **** out of everybody. Since empires bluff and bluster at the end its all to easy for people want to believe.

Being that history is always written by the tyrant of the time (which in our case was definitely behind the two last empires and a big player in Rome as and Spain as well) people are also led to believe that empire is a desireable state of cicumstance. It never was. Its the ambitions and conquistador actions of the collective psychopath. They feed on the strength of civilizations and utilize it for megalomaniac ambitions over power of others and power over everything.

ohm , 55 minutes ago link

Those of you hoping for the end of American Empire need to think about what would replace it. if you think that the world would enter the age of Aquarius and peace will rule the planet you are extremely naive and stupid. If you think that the Chinese would be more benign rulers you are mistaken. The only reason China doesn't use its military to dominate other countries is because it is kept in check by the US.

HillaryOdor , 46 minutes ago link

You are completely delusional. The world is not better off under American stewardship. We don't need and shouldn't want anything to replace it. We don't need and shouldn't want any empire ruling the world. We would be better off without any state at all, so we could finally be free people.

And no it probably wouldn't be better off under the Chinese. Although if the world stopped respecting American IP law, that would be a huge positive step forward.

In the real world, Chinese terrorists are just as bad as American terrorists. Despite the most popular hypnosis gripping the American psyche, you can't have liberty or justice as long as either one is in charge. Whether the Chinese would be worse is debatable. It's not like America has some great track record to compete against. Their reign has been a complete disaster for human rights.

ohm , 41 minutes ago link

We don't need any empire ruling the world.

Agreed. But wishing that something isn't going to happen doesn't stop it from happening.

HillaryOdor , 34 minutes ago link

Pretending you are better off under the current arrangement doesn't make it so.

Pretending you have any control over the future of world politics doesn't make it so.

simpson seers , 43 minutes ago link

'Those of you hoping for the end of American Empire need to think about what would replace it '

for starters, peace would replace it, fake phoney ******.......

ohm , 42 minutes ago link

Why? Do you have a historical example?

ohm , 42 minutes ago link

Why? Do you have a historical example?

SHsparx , 37 minutes ago link

Expecting the inevitable and hoping for something are two different things.

Ms No , 29 minutes ago link

If China became the new empire we wouldnt live under it. It would be at least 100 years out. This empire will screw everybody epically first, plus we have decline weather patterns with super solar grand minimum. Also those people's who may see that next empire will deal with whatever circumstances present themselves and they wont give one **** what we think about it.

Basically power has kept moving west. Nobody will forget the depravity of this one. If written about accurately this one will be remembered most for the medical tyranny and intentional damage it did to human beings through injections and modified good supply, as well as moral depravity and proxy sadistic terrorism. Remember empire backed terrorist groups trafficked children and harvested organs. You can miss it if you want, few will.

ultramaroon , 11 minutes ago link

I do not _hope_ for an end of the American Empire, and I dread what is going to replace it. Howsoever, no empire lasts forever, and our empire is near its end. The Chinese are relentlessly cruel, and that's in their genotype. I probably won't live to see them take over the scraps and bits and pieces of our former empire. Those who are alive and in the prime of their lives when that happens will suffer unimaginably while they live, and their blood will cry out from the grave after they die. It makes me so heart-sick I can't bear to think about it for long, but our progeny will be forced to live it without let or hindrance.

Ms No , 8 minutes ago link

Lets find out the whole details of what they have done to our biology and our children's first before we say how cruel China might be. For starters look at what US and British did in Africa compared to China and Russia's involvement there. They are doing deals and not killing anybody, same with Venezuela.

SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link

Where else you going to go? What nation ISN'T broke? Europe is going to hell. So is South America. Africa has always been hell. Asia? Look what's going down in Hong Kong. China's broke. Make no mistake, the USA is in decline. But so is the rest of the world...

SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link

I'd say it's a race to the bottom but it's really that everyone is falling off the cliff at the same time...

perikleous , 1 hour ago link

regardless of what is printed China is not falling, they have a plan and have only advanced it. The debt side will not hurt them because they have been poor before and they have a route to success. They do not have resources but the industrial side is needed everywhere in the world. We are talking about a nation that literally prospered off of our garbage and resells it back to us! Think about it we use something up and pay them to take it away, they recycle it and resell it to us again and moved a nation 4x our population forward!

You really think debt will hurt them, especially the way the US determines debt! A huge portion of it is in the infrastructucture in China and along the BRI which will have returns over time, just as if we in the states rebuilt all our infrastructure by living wage employment rather than MIC investment!

Argentumentum , 1 hour ago link

Yes, all are broke. Assisted suicides of countries all over the world. Emphasise on "assisted".

Nations have been demoralized (the US most certainly, check Yuri Bezmenov) we are in destabilization phase already, collapse has to be next, it is unavoidable now. This will not end well, ignore at your own risk!

I am not talking about countries, just some Life Hedge Regions left in the world. People with brains and resources, you don need a Life Hedge Property! Away from Northern Hemisphere, away from Ring of Fire, etc... Get in touch. lifehedge(at) protonmail.com

He–Mene Mox Mox , 1 hour ago link

What got America into trouble was when Americans who thought of themselves as being "exceptional" became exceptionally stupid. The best and the brightest have already left America. Any wonder why we now depend on Russia to send our astronauts up on their rockets into space, or depend on China, South Korea, and Japan for our electronic products, or why better health care is found in other places outside the U.S., why our educational system has become poorer than what it was 60 years ago, etc.,?

perikleous , 1 hour ago link

When we decided to financialize everything and make nothing but investments we crippled our advancement.

When we decided to take the brightest minds in the world and recruit them into the US and then rather than advance the world with true science, we offer them lucrative money to enter financial markets to use their knowledge in that field.

We take the ones with morals and principles that choose to actually remain in science and then corrupt them over time with money/fame to regurgetate whatever their contractor chooses or lose funding for their projects.

We have corrupted every aspect of advancement and now just use our fake printed money to force the desperate to bend to our will.

SmallerGovNow2 , 1 hour ago link

Where do you see this better health care?

And you're saying the best and brightest left the USA for Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan? I don't think so...

Dump , 1 hour ago link

Good read on the subject of empires Sir John Glubb - The fate of empires and Search for survival.

We are probably near the end of the American Empire. And a fascinating by product of the HK protests is that we may well be near the end of Chinese Communism.

The Herdsman , 1 hour ago link

Nothing moves forward in a straight line. They move up and down. Empires are no exception. The Romans had their ups and downs throughout the course of their empire. You never know when a down cycle is the end but people who want it to end will always write articles like this.

American dominance might be drawing to an end....or it might be gearing up to go another 200 years. Nobody knows so it's a waste of time to speculate.

[Sep 02, 2019] Where is Margaret Thatcher now?

Highly recommended!
Sep 02, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

ambrit , , August 31, 2019 at 11:55 am

Thatcher was an English politico. It is not what she said, but what she did that counts. She is probably down in Dante's Inferno, Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10. (Frauds and false councilors.) See, oh wayward sinners: http://danteworlds.laits.utexas.edu/circle8b.html

The Rev Kev , , September 2, 2019 at 12:37 am

Ring 8, sub-rings 7-10? She will probably find Milton Friedman in the basement there.

ambrit , September 2, 2019 at 7:09 am

Ah, you think that Milton should be at the bottom, eh? Then, I hope that he knows how to ice skate. (He was the worst kind of 'class traitor.' [His parents were small store owner/managers.])

Ring 8 of the Inferno is for 'frauds' of all sorts, sub-rings 7-10 are reserved for Thieves, Deceivers, Schismatics, and Falsifiers. Maggie should feel right at home there.

[Sep 02, 2019] The Russian Oligarchs by Lawrence Bush

Notable quotes:
"... By the late 1990s, national income had fallen by more than 50 percent(compare that with the 27 percent drop in output during the great American depression), investment by 80 percent, real wages by half, and meat and dairy herds by 75 percent. . . . while epidemics of cholera and typhus . . . re-emerged, millions of children suffer[ed] from malnutrition and adult life expectancy . . . plunged." Several of the oligarchs were prosecuted and harassed by Putin's government between 2000 and 2004, before an unofficial agreement was struck to permit most of them to keep their lives and their fortunes as long as they demurred from opposing Putin's political power. ..."
intpolicydigest.org
Mikhail Khodorkovsky was found guilty of fraud related to his control of Siberian oil fields through his Yukos corporation and was sentenced to nine years in prison on this date in 2005. Khodorkovsky, who was behind bars until Vladimir Putin pardoned him in 2013, is half-Jewish (on his father's side).

Many of the Russian oligarchs, most of whom exploited their political connections during the privatization years under Boris Yeltsin's highly corrupt government to become hugely wealthy, are similarly half-Jewish or Jewish, including Boris Berezovsky, who took over Russia's main television channel and died under uncertain circumstances (likely suicide) in 2013; Alexander Abramov, a steel magnate; Mikhail Fridman, a banker; Roman Abramovich, a younger billionaire investor; Viktor Vekselberg, an aluminum tycoon; and Leonid Mikhelson, a natural-gas billionaire, and a half-dozen others.

The shock-capitalism that vaulted these men to the Forbes list of billionaires is known in Russia as the katastroika and "brought in its wake mass pauperisation and unemployment," writes Seumas Milne in The Guardian , "wild extremes of inequality; rampant crime; virulent antisemitism and ethnic violence; combined with legalised gangsterism on a heroic scale and precipitous looting of public assets. . . .

By the late 1990s, national income had fallen by more than 50 percent(compare that with the 27 percent drop in output during the great American depression), investment by 80 percent, real wages by half, and meat and dairy herds by 75 percent. . . . while epidemics of cholera and typhus . . . re-emerged, millions of children suffer[ed] from malnutrition and adult life expectancy . . . plunged." Several of the oligarchs were prosecuted and harassed by Putin's government between 2000 and 2004, before an unofficial agreement was struck to permit most of them to keep their lives and their fortunes as long as they demurred from opposing Putin's political power.

"The oligarchs, idiotically rich in a country that was largely poor, and given to parading their wealth in a manner that makes American hip-hoppers look like an especially reticent community of Amish farmers, could certainly have given any former Soviet citizen pause to wonder, as he queued for beetroot, what the proletarian revolution had been for. The oligarchs, not content with buying companies, villas, yachts, planes and the most beautiful of Russia's beautiful women, also bought power. In 1996, they connived to engineer the re-election of the politically and physically ailing Boris Yeltsin. In 2000, they helped steer Yeltsin's successor into power -- Vladimir Putin, a saturnine former spook with the KGB, and its descendant organisation, the FSB. This, as Russian Godfathers demonstrates, may have been the moment at which the oligarchs out-clevered themselves." –Andrew Mueller, The Guardian

[Sep 02, 2019] Is it Cynical to Believe the System is Corrupt by Bill Black

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... A new opinion poll released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal last Sunday shows that 70% of Americans are "angry" because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power. Both Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren have also reflected on this sentiment during their campaigns. Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else." ..."
Aug 31, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

A new opinion poll released by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal last Sunday shows that 70% of Americans are "angry" because our political system seems to only be working for the insiders with money and power. Both Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren have also reflected on this sentiment during their campaigns. Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."

A New York Times opinion article written by the political scientist Greg Weiner felt compelled to push back on this message, writing a column with the title, The Shallow Cynicism of 'Everything Is Rigged'. In his column, Weiner basically makes the argument that believing everything is corrupt and rigged is a cynical attitude with which it is possible to dismiss political opponents for being a part of the corruption. In other words, the Sanders and Warren argument is a shortcut, according to Weiner, that avoids real political debate.

Joining me now to discuss whether it makes sense to think of a political system as rigged and corrupt, and whether the cynical attitude is justified, is someone who should know a thing or two about corruption: Bill Black. He is a white collar criminologist, former financial regulator, and associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He's also the author of the book, The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. Thanks for joining us again, Bill.

BILL BLACK: Thank you.

GREG WILPERT: As I mentioned that the outset, it seems that Sanders and Warren are in effect taking an open door, at least when it comes to the American public. That is, almost everyone already believes that our political and economic system is rigged. Would you agree with that sentiment that the system is corrupt and rigged for the rich and against pretty much everyone else but especially the poor? What do you think?

BILL BLACK: One of the principal things I study is elite fraud, corruption and predation. The World Bank sent me to India for months as an anti-corruption alleged expert type. And as a financial regulator, this is what I dealt with. This is what I researched. This is a huge chunk of my life. So I wouldn't use the word, if I was being formal in an academic system, "the system." What I would talk about is specific systems that are rigged, and they most assuredly are rigged.

Let me give you an example. One of the most important things that has transformed the world and made it vastly more criminogenic, much more corrupt, is modern executive compensation. This is not an unusual position. This is actually the normal position now, even among very conservative scholars, including the person who was the intellectual godfather of modern executive compensation, Michael Jensen. He has admitted that he spawned unintentionally a monster because CEOs have rigged the compensation system. How do they do that? Well, it starts even before you get hired as a CEO. This is amazing stuff. The standard thing you do as a powerful CEO is you hire this guy, and he specializes in negotiating great deals for CEOs. His first demand, which is almost always given into, is that the corporation pay his fee, not the CEO. On the other side of the table is somebody that the CEO is going to be the boss of negotiating the other side. How hard is he going to negotiate against the guy that's going to be his boss? That's totally rigged.

Then the compensation committee hires compensation specialists who–again, even the most conservative economists agree it is a completely rigged system. Because the only way they get work is if they give this extraordinary compensation. Then, everybody in economics admits that there's a clear way you should run performance pay. It should be really long term. You get the big bucks only after like 10 years of success. In reality, they're always incredibly short term. Why? Because it's vastly easier for the CEO to rig the short-term reported earnings. What's the result of this? Accounting profession, criminology profession, economics profession, law profession. We've all done studies and all of them say this perverse system of compensation causes CEOs to (a) cheat and (b) to be extraordinarily short term in their perspective because it's easier to rig the short-term reported results. Even the most conservative economists agree that's terrible for the economy.

What I've just gone through is a whole bunch of academic literature from over 40-plus years from top scholars in four different fields. That's not cynicism. That's just plain facts if you understand the system. People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, they didn't, as you say, kick open an open door. They made the open door. It's not like Elizabeth Warren started talking about this six months ago when she started being a potential candidate. She has been saying this and explaining in detail how individual systems are rigged in favor of the wealthy for at least 30 years of work. Bernie Sanders has been doing it for 45 years. This is what the right, including the author of this piece who is an ultra-far right guy, fear the most. It's precisely what they fear, that Bernie and Elizabeth are good at explaining how particular systems are rigged. They explain it in appropriate detail, but they're also good in making it human. They talk the way humans talk as opposed to academics.

That's what the right fear is more than anything, that people will basically get woke. In this, it's being woke to how individual systems have been rigged by the wealthy and powerful to create a sure thing to enrich them, usually at our direct expense.

GREG WILPERT: I think those are some very good examples. They're mostly from the realm of economics. I want to look at one from the realm of politics, which specifically Weiner makes. He cites Sanders, who says that the rich literally buy elections, and Weiner counters this by saying that, "It is difficult to identify instances in American history of an electoral majority wanting something specific that it has not eventually gotten." That's a pretty amazing statement actually, I think, for him to say when you look at the actual polls of what people want and what people get. He then also adds, "That's not possible to dupe the majority with advertising all of the time." What's your response to that argument?

BILL BLACK: Well, actually, that's where he's trying to play economist, and he's particularly bad at economics. He was even worse at economics than he is at political science, where his pitch, by the way is–I'm not overstating this–corruption is good. The real problem with Senator Sanders and Senator Warren is that they're against corruption.

Can you fool many people? Answer: Yes. We have good statistics from people who actually study this as opposed to write op-eds of this kind. In the great financial crisis, one of the most notorious of the predators that targeted blacks and Latinos–we actually have statistics from New Century. And here's a particular scam. The loan broker gets paid more money the worse the deal he gets you, the customer, and he gets paid by the bank. If he can get you to pay more than the market rate of interest, then he gets a kickback, a literal kickback. In almost exactly half of the cases, New Century was able to get substantially above market interest rates, again, targeted at blacks and Latinos.

We know that this kind of predatory approach can succeed, and it can succeed brilliantly. Look at cigarettes. Cigarettes, if you use them as intended, they make you sick and they kill you. It wasn't that very long ago until a huge effort by pushback that the tobacco companies, through a whole series of fake science and incredible amounts of ads that basically tried to associate if you were male, that if you smoked, you'd have a lot of sex type of thing. It was really that crude. It was enormously successful with people in getting them to do things that almost immediately made them sick and often actually killed them.

He's simply wrong empirically. You can see it in US death rates. You can see it in Hell, I'm overweight considerably. Americans are enormously overweight because of the way we eat, which has everything to do with how marketing works in the United States, and it's actually gotten so bad that it's reducing life expectancy in a number of groups in America. That's how incredibly effective predatory practices are in rigging the system. That's again, two Nobel Laureates in economics have recently written about this. George Akerlof and Shiller, both Nobel Laureates in economics, have written about this predation in a book for a general audience. It's called Phishing with a P-H.

GREG WILPERT: I want to turn to the last point that Weiner makes about cynicism. He says that calling the system rigged is actually a form of cynicism. And that cynicism, the belief that everything and everyone is bad or corrupt avoids real political arguments because it tires everyone you disagree with as being a part of that corruption. Would you say, is the belief that the system is rigged a form of cynicism? And if it is, wouldn't Weiner be right that cynicism avoids political debate?

BILL BLACK: He creates a straw man. No one has said that everything and everyone is corrupt. No one has said that if you disagree with me, you are automatically corrupt. What they have given in considerable detail, like I gave as the first example, was here is exactly how the system is rigged. Here are the empirical results of that rigging. This produces vast transfers of wealth to the powerful and wealthy, and it comes at the expense of nearly everybody else. That is factual and that needs to be said. It needs to be said that politicians that support this, and Weiner explicitly does that, says, we need to go back to a system that is more openly corrupt and that if we have that system, the world will be better. That has no empirical basis. It's exactly the opposite. Corruption kills. Corruption ruins economies.

The last thing in the world you want to do is what Weiner calls for, which he says, "We've got to stop applying morality to this form of crime." In essence, he is channeling the godfather. "Tell the Don it wasn't personal. It was just business." There's nothing really immoral in his view about bribing people. I'm sorry. I'm a Midwesterner. It wasn't cynicism. It was morality. He says you can't compromise with corruption. I hope not. Compromising with corruption is precisely why we're in this situation where growth rates have been cut in half, why wage growth has been cut by four-fifths, why blacks and Latinos during the great financial crisis lost 60% to 80% of their wealth in college-educated households. That's why 70% of the public is increasingly woke on this subject.

GREG WILPERT: Well, we're going to leave it there. I was speaking to Bill Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Thanks again, Bill, for having joined us today.

BILL BLACK: Thank you.

GREG WILPERT: And thank you for joining The Real News Network.

fdr-fan , August 31, 2019 at 2:13 am

Well, Sanders certainly knows that elections are rigged. But he's not quite right when he says that money does the rigging. It would be more accurate to say that powerful people are powerful because they're criminals, and they're rich because they're criminals.

Money is a side effect, not the driver. Specific example: Hillary and Bernie are in the same category of net worth, but Bernie isn't powerful. The difference is that Bernie ISN'T willing to commit murder and blackmail to gain power.

Lambert Strether , August 31, 2019 at 3:31 am

> Hillary and Bernie are in the same category of net worth

Clinton's net worth (says Google) is $45 million; Sanders $2.5 million. So, an order of magnitude difference. I guess that puts Sanders in the 1% category, but Clinton is much closer to the 0.1% category than Sanders.

Steve H. , August 31, 2019 at 6:57 am

There's also a billion-dollar foundation in the mix.

We had our choice of two New York billionaires in the last presidential election. How is this not accounted for? It's like the bond market, the sheer weight carries its own momentum.

Very similar to CEO's. I may not own a private jet, but if the company does, and I control the company, I have the benefit of a private jet. I don't need to own the penthouse to live in it.

Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 4:18 am

I despise HRC as well but those kinds of accusations would need some real evidence to back them up. Not a helpful comment.

Sorry, but I had to call that out.

Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:26 am

"We came, we saw, he died. Tee hee hee!"
"Did it have anything to do with your visit?"
"I'm sure it did."
From a non-legal perspective at least, that makes her an accessory to murder, doesn't it?

Oh , August 31, 2019 at 10:18 am

"Money talks and everything else walks". Don't kid yourself; money is the driver.

Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 11:38 am

there's a solution for that

Leroy , August 31, 2019 at 11:53 am

Perhaps you can elaborate on the "murder and blackmail" Mr. Trump !!

vlade , August 31, 2019 at 2:15 am

In the treaser, it says "prevents evidence", I don't think Bill would do that :)

Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:45 am

Treaser -- > Treason
+1

Tyronius , August 31, 2019 at 2:57 am

Is it fair to say the entire system is rigged when enough interconnected parts of it are rigged that no matter where one turns, one finds evidence of corruption? Because like it or not, that's where we are as a country.

Spoofs desu , August 31, 2019 at 7:15 am

Indeed well said

Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 11:42 am

Yes. And it is also fair to say, and has been said by lots of cynics over the centuries, that both democracy and capitalism sow the seeds of their own destruction.

OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL , August 31, 2019 at 3:44 am

Burns me to see yet another "water is not wet" argument being foisted by the NYT, hard to imagine another reason the editorial board pushed for this line *except* to protect the current corrupt one percenters who call their shots. Once Liz The Marionette gets appointed we might get some fluff but the rot will persist, eventually rot becomes putrefaction and the polity dies. Gore Vidal called America and Christianity "death cults".

Oh , August 31, 2019 at 10:21 am

Apt description of Liz.
"I'm a marionette, I'm a marionette, just pull the string" – ABBA

Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 4:23 am

Another instance where the top comments "Reader Picks" in a NYT op-ed are much more astute than the NYT picks

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/25/opinion/trump-warren-sanders-corruption.html#commentsContainer

People get it.

inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 8:28 am

"Due to technical difficulties, comments are unavailable"

Pisses me off that I gave the propaganda rag of note a click and didn't even get the joy of the comments section. I'm sure there's some cynical reason why

Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:28 am

I got there first time. No doubt some cynical reason

Barbara , August 31, 2019 at 10:56 am

NYT PicksReader PicksAll

Ronald Weinstein commented August 26

Ronald Weinstein
New YorkAug. 26
Times Pick

Shallow cynicism vs profound naivete. I don't know what to chose.
57 Recommend

Jeff W , August 31, 2019 at 11:41 am

People do get it. That struck me, too.

The other thing is that the NYT runs this pretty indefensible piece by a guy who is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Just how often does NYT -- whose goal, according to its executive editor, "should be to understand different views" -- run a piece from anyone who is leftwing? What's the ratio of pro-establishment, pro-Washington consensus pieces to those that are not? Glenn Greenwald points out that the political spectrum at the NYT op-ed page "spans the small gap from establishment centrist Democrats to establishment centrist Republicans." That, in itself, is consistent with the premise that the system is, indeed, rigged.

Spoofs desu , August 31, 2019 at 7:09 am

I think we have to drill down another level and ask ourselves a more fundamental question "why is cynicism necessarily bad to begin with?" Black's response of parsing to individual systems as being corrupt is playing into the NYT authors trap, sort to speak.

This NYT article is another version of the seemingly obligatory attribute of the american character; we must ultimately be optimistic and have hope. Why is that useful? Or maybe more importantly, to whom is that useful? What is the point?

In my mind (and many a philosopher), cynicism is a very healthy, empowering response to a world whose institutional configuration is such that it will to fuck you over whenever it is expedient to do so.

Furthermore, the act of voting lends legitimacy to an institution that is clearly not legitimate. The institution is very obviously very corrupt. If you really want to change the "system" stop giving it legitimacy; i.e. be cynical, don't vote. The whole thing is a ruse. Boycott it .

Some may say, in a desperate attempt to avoid being cynical, "well, the national level is corrupt but we need to increase engagement at the community level via local elections ", or something like that. This is nothing more than rearranging the chairs on the deck of the titanic. And collecting signature isn't going to help anymore than handing out buckets on the titanic would.

So, to answer my own rhetorical question above, "to whom is it useful to not be cynical?" It is useful to those who want things to continue as they currently are.

So, be cynical. Don't vote. It is an empowering and healthy way to kinda say "fuck you" to the corrupt and not become corrupted yourself by legitimizing it. The best part about it is that you don't have to do anything.

Viva la paz (Hows that for a non cynical salutation?)

jrs , August 31, 2019 at 11:29 am

Uh this sounds like the ultimate allowing things to continue as they currently are, do you really imagine the powers that be are concerned about a low voting rate, and we have one, they don't care, they may even like it that way. Do you really imagine they care about some phantom like perceived legitimacy? Where is the evidence of that?

kiwi , August 31, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Politicians do care about staying in office and will respond on some issues that will cost them enough votes to get booted from office. But it has to be those particular issues in their own backyard; otherwise, they just kind of limp along with the lip service collecting their paychecks.

IMO, it is sheer idiocy to not vote. If you are a voter, politicians will pay some attention to you at least. If you don't vote, you don't even exist to them.

inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 7:37 am

"I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress," said Ocasio-Cortez. "At minimum there should be a long wait period."
"If you are a member of Congress + leave, you shouldn't be allowed to turn right around&leverage your service for a lobbyist check.
I don't think it should be legal at ALL to become a corporate lobbyist if you've served in Congress."

–AOC, as reported by NakedCapitalism on May 31, 2019

Which is worse - bankers or terrorists , August 31, 2019 at 11:45 am

I bet she opens up her lobbying shop in December 2020.

inode_buddha , August 31, 2019 at 7:52 am

It isn't cynical if it is real. Truth is the absolute defense.

Bugs Bunny , August 31, 2019 at 7:58 am

A shrink friend once said "cynicism is the most logical reaction to despair".

Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:52 am

I try to be despairing, but I can't keep up.
Attributed to a generation or two after Lily Tomlin's quote about cynicism.

Out of curiosity, would it be cynical to question that political scientist's grant funding or other sources of income? These days, I feel inclined to look at what I'll call the Sinclair Rule* , added to Betteridge's, Godwin's and all those other, ahem, modifications to what used to be an expectation that communication was more or less honest.

* Sinclair Rule, where you add a interpretive filter based on Upton's famous quote: It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

jrs , August 31, 2019 at 11:43 am

It's good to look at funding sources. But it's kind of a slander to those who must work for a living when assuming it's paychecks (which we need to live in this system) that corrupt people.

If it's applied to the average working person, maybe it's often true, maybe it has a tendency to push in that direction, but if you think there are no workers that realize the industry they are working in might be destructive, that they may be exploited by such systems but have little choice etc. etc., come now there are working people who are politically aware and do see a larger picture, they just don't have a lot of power to change it much of the time. Does the average working person's salary depend on his not understanding though? No, of course not, it merely depends on him obeying. And obeying enough to keep a job, not always understanding, is what a paycheck buys.

timbers , August 31, 2019 at 7:57 am

With all the evidence of everyday life (airplanes, drug prices, health insurance, Wall Street, CEO pay, the workforce changes in the past 20 years if you've been working those years etc) this Greg better be careful as he might be seen as a Witch to be hanged and burned in Salem, Ma a few hundred years ago.

It's cynical to say it's cynical to believe the system is corrupt.

Greg Weiner is cynic, and his is using his cynicism to dismiss the political arguments of people he disagrees with.

MyMoneysNotGreenAnymore , August 31, 2019 at 8:17 am

And just this week, I found out I couldn't even buy a car unless I'd be willing to sign a mandatory binding arbitration agreement. I was ready to pay and sign all the paperwork, and they lay a document in front of me that reserves for the dealer the right to seek any remedy against me if I harm the dealer (pay with bad check, become delinquent on loan, fail to provide clean title on my trade); but forces me to accept mandatory binding arbitration, with damages limited to the value of the car, for anything the dealer might do wrong.

It is not cynical at all when even car dealers now want a permission slip for any harm they might do to me.

Donald , August 31, 2019 at 8:24 am

Three words -- climate change denial.

Okay, a few more. We are literally facing the possibility of a mass extinction in large part because of dishonesty on the par of oil companies, politicians, and people paid to make bad arguments.

Donald , August 31, 2019 at 8:35 am

A few more words

"Saddam Hussein has WMD's."

"Assad (and by implication Assad's forces alone) killed 500,000 Syrians."

"Israel is just defending itself."

I can't squeeze the dishonesty about the war in Yemen into a short slogan, but I know from personal experience that getting liberals to care when it was Obama's war was virtually impossible. Even under Trump it was hard, until Khashoggi's murder. On the part of politicians and think tanks this was corruption by Saudi money. With ordinary people it was the usual partisan tribal hypocrisy.

dearieme , August 31, 2019 at 11:11 am

Two words: Goebbels Warming.

pretzelattack , August 31, 2019 at 12:36 pm

a lot of gibberish in those 2 words, dearie. are you going to grace us with your keen scientific insights on the issue?

jfleni , August 31, 2019 at 8:30 am

Conclusion: Even before they dress in the AM, they S C R E A M,
G I M M E!!

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell , August 31, 2019 at 8:45 am

The motivator is " Gap Psychology ," the human desire to distance oneself from those below (on any scale), and to come nearer to those above.

The rich are rich because the Gap below them is wide, and the wider the Gap, the richer they are .

And here is the important point: There are two ways the rich widen the Gap: Either gain more for themselves or make sure those below have less.

That is why the rich promulgate the Big Lie that the federal government (and its agencies, Social Security and Medicare) is running short of dollars. The rich want to make sure that those below them don't gain more, as that would narrow the Gap.

Off The Street , August 31, 2019 at 10:56 am

Negative sum game, where one wins but the other has to lose more so the party of the first part feels even better about winning. There is an element of sadism, sociopathy and a few other behaviors that the current systems allow to be gamed even more profitably. If you build it, or lobby to have it built, they will come multiple times.

The Rev Kev , August 31, 2019 at 9:07 am

A successful society should be responsive to both threats and opportunities. Any major problems to that society are assessed and changes are made, usually begrudgingly, to adapt to the new situation. And this is where corruption comes into it. It short circuits the signals that a society receives so that it ignores serious threats and elevates ones that are relatively minor but which benefit a small segment of that society. If you want an example of this at work, back in 2016 you had about 40,000 Americans dying to opioids each and every year which was considered only a background issue. But a major issue about that time was who gets to use what toilets. Seriously. If it gets bad enough, a society gets overwhelmed by the problems that were ignored or were deferred to a later time. And I regret to say that the UK is going to learn this lesson in spades.

Ian Perkins , August 31, 2019 at 10:37 am

'Sanders has said that we live in a "corrupt political system designed to protect the wealthy and the powerful." Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."'
Yet the rest of the article focuses almost entirely on internal US shenanigans. When it comes to protecting wealth and power, George Kennan hit the nail on the head in 1948, with "we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity." This, which has underpinned US policy ever since, may not be corrupt in the sense of illegal, but it certainly seems corrupt in the sense of morally repugnant to me.

dearieme , August 31, 2019 at 11:16 am

Warren said it's a "rigged system that props up the rich and powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else."

Is she referring to the system of race privilege that she exploited by making a false claim to be a Cherokee, or some other rigged system?

Still, compared to some of the gangsters who have been president I suppose she's been pretty small time in her nefarious activities. So far as I know.

Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:07 pm

About Kennan's comment. That's interesting because no one questioned the word "wealth". Even tho' we had only 6.3% of the world's population we had 50% of the wealth. The point of that comment had to be that we should "spread the wealth" and we did do just that. Until we polluted the entire planet. I'd like some MMT person to take a long look at that attitude because it is so simplistic. And not like George Kennan at all who was sophisticated to the bone. But that's just more proof of a bred-in-the-bone ignorance about what money really is. In this case Kennan was talking about money, not wealth. He never asked Nepal for advice on gross national happiness, etc. Nor did he calculate the enormous debt burden we would incur for our unregulated use and abuse of the environment. That debt most certainly offsets any "wealth" that happened.

shinola , August 31, 2019 at 11:09 am

Approaching from the opposite direction, if someone were to say "I sincerely believe that the USA has the most open & honest political system and the fairest economic system in human history" would you not think that person to be incredibly naive (or, cynically, a liar)?

There has been, for at least the last couple of decades. a determined effort to do away with corruption – by defining it away. "Citizens United" is perhaps the most glaring example but the effort is ongoing; that Weiner op-ed is a good current example.

jef , August 31, 2019 at 11:34 am

What is cynical is everyone's response when point out that the system is corrupt. They all say " always has been, always will be so just deal with it ".

Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:14 pm

Strawmannirg has got to be the most cynical behavior in the world. Weiner is the cynic. I think Liz's "the system is rigged " comment invites discussion. It is not a closed door at all. It is a plea for good capitalism. Which most people assume is possible. It's time to define just what kind of capitalism will work and what it needs to continue to be, or finally become, a useful economic ideology. High time.

Susan the other` , August 31, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Another thing. Look how irrational the world, which is now awash in money, has become over lack of liquidity. There's a big push now to achieve an optimum flow of money by speeding up transaction time. The Fed is in the midst of designing a new real-time digital payments system. A speedy accounting and record of everything. Which sounds like a very good idea.

But the predators are busy keeping pace – witness the frantic grab by Facebook with Libra. Libra is cynical. To say the least. The whole thing a few days ago on the design of Libra was frightening because Libra has not slowed down; it has filed it's private corporation papers in Switzerland and is working toward a goal of becoming a private currency – backed by sovereign money no less! Twisted. So there's a good discussion begging to be heard: The legitimate Federal Reserve v. Libra. The reason we are not having this discussion is because the elite are hard-core cynics.

[Aug 30, 2019] Hollywood reboots Russophobia for the New Cold War by Max Parry

See also National Security Cinema The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood by Matthew Alford
Aug 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

It is apparent that the caricature of the Soviet Union in both productions is really a stand-in for the present-day Russian government under Vladimir Putin. As only American exceptionalism could permit, Hollywood did not hold the same disdain for his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, whose legacy of high inflation and national debt have since been eliminated. In fact, most have forgotten that the same filmdom community outraged about Russia's supposed interference in the 2016 U.S. election made a celebratory movie back in 2003, Spinning Boris , which practically boasted about the instrumental role the West played in Yeltsin's 1996 reelection in Russia.

The highly unpopular alcoholic politician benefited from a near universal media bias as virtually all the federation's news outlets came under the control of the 'oligarchs' (in America known simply as billionaires) which his economic policies of mass privatization of state industry enriched overnight.

Yeltsin initially polled at less than 10% and was far behind Communist Party candidate Gennady Zyuganov until he became the recipient of billions from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) thanks to his corrupt campaign manager, Anatoly Chubais, now one of the most hated men in all of Russia. After the purging of votes and rampant ballot-box stuffing, Yeltsin successfully closed the gap between his opponent thanks to the overt U.S. meddling.

Spinning Boris was directed by Roger Spottiswoode, who previously helmed an installment in the James Bond series, Tomorrow Never Dies . The 1997 entry in the franchise is one of thousands of Hollywood films and network television shows exposed by journalists Matthew Alford and Tom Secker as having been influenced or directly assisted by the Pentagon and CIA in their must-read book National Security Cinema: The Shocking New Evidence of Government Control in Hollywood. Based on evidence from documents revealed in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, their investigation divulges the previously unknown extent to which the national security complex has gone in exerting control over content in the film industry. While it has always been known that the military held sway over movies that required usage of its facilities and equipment to be produced, the level of impact on such films in the pre-production and editing stages, as well as the control over non-military themed flicks one wouldn't suspect to be under supervision by Washington and Langley, is exhaustively uncovered.

As expected, Hollywood and the military-industrial complex's intimate relationship during the Cold War is featured prominently in Alford and Secker's investigative work. It is unclear whether HBO or Netflix sought US military assistance or were directly involved with the national security state in their respective productions, but these are just two recent examples of many where the correlated increase in geopolitical tensions with Moscow is reflected. The upcoming sequel to DC's Wonder Woman set to be released next year , Wonder Woman 1984, featuring the female superhero " coming into conflict with the Soviet Union during the Cold War in the 1980s ", is yet another. Reprising her role is Israeli actress and IDF veteran is Gal Gadot as the title character, ironically starring in a blockbuster that will demonize the Eurasian state which saved her ethnicity from extinction. Given the Pentagon's involvement in the debacle surounding 2014's The Interview which provoked very real tensions with North Korea, it is likely they are at least closely examining any entertainment with content regarding Russia, if not directly pre-approving it for review.

Ultimately, the Western panic about its imperial decline is not limited to assigning blame to Moscow. Sinophobia has manifested as well in recent films such as the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival where the extra-terrestrials who reach Earth seem more interested in communicating with Beijing as the global superpower than the U.S. However, while the West forebodes the return of Russia and China to greater standing, you can be certain its real fear lies elsewhere. The fact that Chernobyl and Stranger Things are as preoccupied with portraying socialism in a bad light as they are in rendering Moscow nefarious shows the real underlying trepidation of the ruling elite that concerns the resurgence of class consciousness. The West must learn its lesson that its state of perpetual war has caused its own downfall or it could attempt a last line of defense that would inevitably conscript all of humanity to its death as the ruling class nearly did to the world in 1914 and 1939.

[Jul 13, 2019] Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleife

Notable quotes:
"... There's a rocky road ahead for Larry Summers. Summers introduces Epstein into the Harvard fold, but becomes reckless with his newly-refined Neoliberalism and his opinions concerning "lady scholars." ..."
Jul 13, 2019 | caucus99percent.com

** A footnote on Larry Summers seems important here: Harvard-trained economists have been running the US economy for a very long time, and continue to do so. Summers began his ascent as a professor of economics at Harvard University, leaving shortly before Bill Clinton won the Presidency. He was clearly the Neoliberal seed planted for the New American Century.

In 1993, Summers was appointed Undersecretary for International Affairs of the United States Department of the Treasury under the Clinton Administration. In 1995, he was promoted to Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under his long-time political mentor Robert Rubin. In 1999, he succeeded Rubin as Secretary of the Treasury.

While working for the Clinton administration Summers played a leading role in the American response to the 1994 economic crisis in Mexico, the 1997 Asian financial crisis, and the Russian financial crisis. He was also influential in the Harvard Institute for International Development and American-advised privatization of the economies of the post-Soviet states, and in the deregulation of the U.S financial system, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

At This Point the Ball is Passed to the Bush Team Republicans, while the Democrats Sit Back and Wait for 2008.

There's now a Treasury surplus to transfer to the wealthy, and the necessary deregulation for Wall Street empowerment is in place. The Soviet era had ended and Russia is ended forever. The world is finally primed to be seized by the One Exceptional Power. It's 2001, and we are standing on the threshold of the New American Century . Time to throw a flash-bang of chaos onto the world stage and trigger the booming War Economy that will carry us directly to global control.

There's a rocky road ahead for Larry Summers. Summers introduces Epstein into the Harvard fold, but becomes reckless with his newly-refined Neoliberalism and his opinions concerning "lady scholars."

Following the end of Clinton's term, Summers served as the 27th President of Harvard University from 2001 to 2006. Summers resigned as Harvard's president in the wake of a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty, which resulted in large part from Summers's conflict with Cornel West, financial conflict of interest questions regarding his relationship with Andrei Shleifer, and a 2005 speech in which he suggested that the under-representation of women in science and engineering could be due to a "different availability of aptitude at the high end", and less to patterns of discrimination and socialization. Remarking upon political correctness in institutions of higher education, Summers said in 2016:

There is a great deal of absurd political correctness. Now, I'm somebody who believes very strongly in diversity, who resists racism in all of its many incarnations, who thinks that there is a great deal that's unjust in American society that needs to be combated, but it seems to be that there is a kind of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kind of ideas are acceptable and are debatable on college campuses.

After his departure from Harvard, Summers cooled his jets on Wall Street, positioning himself to be called back into the game when it was Team Democrat's turn in 2008.

Summers worked as a managing partner at the hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., and as a freelance speaker at other financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers. Summers rejoined public service during the Obama administration, serving as the Director of the White House United States National Economic Council for President Barack Obama from January 2009 until November 2010, where he emerged as a key economic decision-maker in the Obama administration's response to the Great Recession.

Jeffery Epstein continued to weave himself into the fabric of government like a good psychopath would. He was by no means the only one.

[Jul 06, 2019] In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. ..."
"... In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution. ..."
"... They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution). ..."
"... So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. ..."
Jul 03, 2019 | theamericanconservative.com

Douglas K 3 days ago • edited

To this day, Maher's response still leaves me dumbfounded: "I would say that's a secular religion." Before Douthat could ask what the hell a secular religion is, Maher changed the subject. The meaning of Maher's nonsensical statement was clear: everything Maher doesn't like is religion.

Maher was right. I've been saying for decades -- since Brezhnev was still alive -- that the Soviet Union was a functional theocracy. Sure, they didn't use God or angels or miracles in their rhetoric, but that's just surface trappings.

In practice, the USSR behaved exactly like a brutal totalitarian theocracy would. They had an impersonal god (the theory of history that would lead inevitably to heaven on Earth) which the government treated as the source of their authority and their justification for everything they did in the name of the Revolution.

They had a state church (the Communist Party -- no rivals allowed) that you needed to join to get anywhere in society. They had prophets (look what they did with Lenin after his death), saints (heroes of the Revolution), idols, sacred texts that could not be challenged, brutal suppression of other religions, witch hunts for heretics (anyone who opposed the Revolution).

So yes: the USSR turned "communism" into their de facto state religion. No, they didn't include personified invisible spirits in their ideology. But if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck ....

[Jul 05, 2019] The World Bank and IMF 2019 by Michael Hudson and Bonnie Faulkner

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers ..."
"... It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States ..."
"... American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump's words, to put America first. "We've got to win and they've got to lose." ..."
"... The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president ..."
"... Many countries had two rates: one for goods and services, which was set normally by the market, and then a different exchange rate that was managed for capital movements. That was because countries were trying to prevent capital flight. They didn't want their wealthy classes or foreign investors to make a run on their own currency – an ever-present threat in Latin America. ..."
"... The IMF and the World Bank backed the cosmopolitan classes, the wealthy. Instead of letting countries control their capital outflows and prevent capital flight, the IMF's job is to protect the richest One Percent and foreign investors from balance-of-payments problems ..."
"... The IMF enables its wealthy constituency to move their money out of the country without taking a foreign-exchange loss ..."
"... Wall Street speculators have sold the local currency short to make a killing, George-Soros style. ..."
"... When the debtor-country currency collapses, the debts that these Latin American countries owe are in dollars, and now have to pay much more in their own currency to carry and pay off these debts. ..."
"... Local currency is thrown onto the foreign-exchange market for dollars, lowering the exchange rate. That increases import prices, raising a price umbrella for domestic products. ..."
"... Instead, the IMF says just the opposite: It acts to prevent any move by other countries to bring the debt volume within the ability to be paid. It uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. ..."
"... This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank claiming to be international instead of an expression of specifically U.S. New Cold War nationalism. ..."
"... The same thing happened in Greece a few years ago, when almost all of Greece's foreign debt was owed to Greek millionaires holding their money in Switzerland ..."
"... The IMF could have seized this money to pay off the bondholders. Instead, it made the Greek economy pay. It found that it was worth wrecking the Greek economy, forcing emigration and wiping out Greek industry so that French and German bondholding banks would not have to take a loss. That is what makes the IMF so vicious an institution. ..."
"... America was able to grab all of Iran's foreign exchange just by the banks interfering. The CIA has bragged that it can do the same thing with Russia. If Russia does something that U.S. diplomats don't like, the U.S. can use the SWIFT bank payment system to exclude Russia from it, so the Russian banks and the Russian people and industry won't be able to make payments to each other. ..."
"... You can't create the money, especially if you're running a balance of payments deficit and if U.S. foreign policy forces you into deficit by having someone like George Soros make a run on your currency. Look at the Asia crisis in 1997. Wall Street funds bet against foreign currencies, driving them way down, and then used the money to pick up industry cheap in Korea and other Asian countries. ..."
"... This was also done to Russia's ruble. The only country that avoided this was Malaysia, under Mohamed Mahathir, by using capital controls. Malaysia is an object lesson in how to prevent a currency flight. ..."
"... Client kleptocracies take their money and run, moving it abroad to hard currency areas such as the United States, or at least keeping it in dollars in offshore banking centers instead of reinvesting it to help the country catch up by becoming independent agriculturally, in energy, finance and other sectors. ..."
"... But in shaping the World Trade Organization's rules, the United States said that all countries had to promote free trade and could not have government support, except for countries that already had it. We're the only country that had it. That's what's called "grandfathering". ..."
Jul 05, 2019 | www.unz.com

"The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers."

I'm Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter: Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show: The IMF and World Bank: Partners In Backwardness . Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is President of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street Financial Analyst, and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

His most recent books include " and Forgive them Their Debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year "; Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Destroy the Global Economy , and J Is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception . He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , among many other books.

We return today to a discussion of Dr. Hudson's seminal 1972 book, Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, with a special emphasis on food imperialism.

... ... ...

Bonnie Faulkner : In your seminal work form 1972, Super-Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire , you write: "The development lending of the World Bank has been dysfunctional from the outset." When was the World Bank set up and by whom?

Michael Hudson : It was set up basically by the United States in 1944, along with its sister institution, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Their purpose was to create an international order like a funnel to make other countries economically dependent on the United States. To make sure that no other country or group of countries – even all the rest of the world – could not dictate U.S. policy. American diplomats insisted on the ability to veto any action by the World Bank or IMF. The aim of this veto power was to make sure that any policy was, in Donald Trump's words, to put America first. "We've got to win and they've got to lose."

The World Bank was set up from the outset as a branch of the military, of the Defense Department. John J. McCloy (Assistant Secretary of War, 1941-45), was the first full-time president. He later became Chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank (1953-60). McNamara was Secretary of Defense (1961-68), Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy and Under Secretary of Defense (1989-2005), and Robert Zoellick was Deputy Secretary of State. So I think you can look at the World Bank as the soft shoe of American diplomacy.

Bonnie Faulkner : What is the difference between the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the IMF? Is there a difference?

Michael Hudson : Yes, there is. The World Bank was supposed to make loans for what they call international development. "Development" was their euphemism for dependency on U.S. exports and finance. This dependency entailed agricultural backwardness – opposing land reform, family farming to produce domestic food crops, and also monetary backwardness in basing their monetary system on the dollar.

The World Bank was supposed to provide infrastructure loans that other countries would go into debt to pay American engineering firms, to build up their export sectors and their plantation sectors by public investment roads and port development for imports and exports. Essentially, the Bank financed long- investments in the foreign trade sector, in a way that was a natural continuation of European colonialism.

In 1941, for example, C. L. R. James wrote an article on "Imperialism in Africa" pointing out the fiasco of European railroad investment in Africa: "Railways must serve flourishing industrial areas, or densely populated agricult5ural regions, or they must open up new land along which a thriving population develops and provides the railways with traffic. Except in the mining regions of South Africa, all these conditions are absent. Yet railways were needed, for the benefit of European investors and heavy industry." That is why, James explained "only governments can afford to operate them," while being burdened with heavy interest obligations. [1] What was "developed" was Africa's mining and plantation export sector, not its domestic economies. The World Bank followed this pattern of "development" lending without apology.

The IMF was in charge of short-term foreign currency loans. Its aim was to prevent countries from imposing capital controls to protect their balance of payments. Many countries had a dual exchange rate: one for trade in goods and services, the other rate for capital movements. The function of the IMF and World Bank was essentially to make other countries borrow in dollars, not in their own currencies, and to make sure that if they could not pay their dollar-denominated debts, they had to impose austerity on the domestic economy – while subsidizing their import and export sectors and protecting foreign investors, creditors and client oligarchies from loss.

The IMF developed a junk-economics model pretending that any country can pay any amount of debt to the creditors if it just impoverishes its labor enough. So when countries were unable to pay their debt service, the IMF tells them to raise their interest rates to bring on a depression – austerity – and break up the labor unions. That is euphemized as "rationalizing labor markets." The rationalizing is essentially to disable labor unions and the public sector. The aim – and effect – is to prevent countries from essentially following the line of development that had made the United States rich – by public subsidy and protection of domestic agriculture, public subsidy and protection of industry and an active government sector promoting a New Deal democracy. The IMF was essentially promoting and forcing other countries to balance their trade deficits by letting American and other investors buy control of their commanding heights, mainly their infrastructure monopolies, and to subsidize their capital flight.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Now, Michael, when you began speaking about the IMF and monetary controls, you mentioned that there were two exchange rates of currency in countries. What were you referring to?

MICHAEL HUDSON : When I went to work on Wall Street in the '60s, I was balance-of-payments economist for Chase Manhattan, and we used the IMF's monthly International Financial Statistics every month. At the top of each country's statistics would be the exchange-rate figures. Many countries had two rates: one for goods and services, which was set normally by the market, and then a different exchange rate that was managed for capital movements. That was because countries were trying to prevent capital flight. They didn't want their wealthy classes or foreign investors to make a run on their own currency – an ever-present threat in Latin America.

The IMF and the World Bank backed the cosmopolitan classes, the wealthy. Instead of letting countries control their capital outflows and prevent capital flight, the IMF's job is to protect the richest One Percent and foreign investors from balance-of-payments problems.

The World Bank and American diplomacy have steered them into a chronic currency crisis. The IMF enables its wealthy constituency to move their money out of the country without taking a foreign-exchange loss. It makes loans to support capital flight out of domestic currencies into the dollar or other hard currencies. The IMF calls this a "stabilization" program. It is never effective in helping the debtor economy pay foreign debts out of growth. Instead, the IMF uses currency depreciation and sell-offs of public infrastructure and other assets to foreign investors after the flight capital has left and currency collapses. Wall Street speculators have sold the local currency short to make a killing, George-Soros style.

When the debtor-country currency collapses, the debts that these Latin American countries owe are in dollars, and now have to pay much more in their own currency to carry and pay off these debts. We're talking about enormous penalty rates in domestic currency for these countries to pay foreign-currency debts – basically taking on to finance a non-development policy and to subsidize capital flight when that policy "fails" to achieve its pretended objective of growth.

All hyperinflations of Latin America – Chile early on, like Germany after World War I – come from trying to pay foreign debts beyond the ability to be paid. Local currency is thrown onto the foreign-exchange market for dollars, lowering the exchange rate. That increases import prices, raising a price umbrella for domestic products.

A really functional and progressive international monetary fund that would try to help countries develop would say: "Okay, banks and we (the IMF) have made bad loans that the country can't pay. And the World Bank has given it bad advice, distorting its domestic development to serve foreign customers rather than its own growth. So we're going to write down the loans to the ability to be paid." That's what happened in 1931, when the world finally stopped German reparations payments and Inter-Ally debts to the United States stemming from World War I.

Instead, the IMF says just the opposite: It acts to prevent any move by other countries to bring the debt volume within the ability to be paid. It uses debt leverage as a way to control the monetary lifeline of financially defeated debtor countries. So if they do something that U.S. diplomats don't approve of, it can pull the plug financially, encouraging a run on their currency if they act independently of the United States instead of falling in line. This control by the U.S. financial system and its diplomacy has been built into the world system by the IMF and the World Bank claiming to be international instead of an expression of specifically U.S. New Cold War nationalism.

BONNIE FAULKNER : How do exchange rates contribute to capital flight?

MICHAEL HUDSON : It's not the exchange rate that contributes. Suppose that you're a millionaire, and you see that your country is unable to balance its trade under existing production patterns. The money that the government has under control is pesos, escudos, cruzeiros or some other currency, not dollars or euros. You see that your currency is going to go down relative to the dollar, so you want to get our money out of the country to preserve your purchasing power.

This has long been institutionalized. By 1990, for instance, Latin American countries had defaulted so much in the wake of the Mexico defaults in 1982 that I was hired by Scudder Stevens, to help start a Third World Bond Fund (called a "sovereign high-yield fund"). At the time, Argentina and Brazil were running such serious balance-of-payments deficits that they were having to pay 45 percent per year interest, in dollars, on their dollar debt. Mexico, was paying 22.5 percent on its tesobonos .

Scudders' salesmen went around to the United States and tried to sell shares in the proposed fund, but no Americans would buy it, despite the enormous yields. They sent their salesmen to Europe and got a similar reaction. They had lost their shirts on Third World bonds and couldn't see how these countries could pay.

Merrill Lynch was the fund's underwriter. Its office in Brazil and in Argentina proved much more successful in selling investments in Scudder's these offshore fund established in the Dutch West Indies. It was an offshore fund, so Americans were not able to buy it. But Brazilian and Argentinian rich families close to the central bank and the president became the major buyers. We realized that they were buying these funds because they knew that their government was indeed going to pay their stipulated interest charges. In effect, the bonds were owed ultimately to themselves. So these Yankee dollar bonds were being bought by Brazilians and other Latin Americans as a vehicle to move their money out of their soft local currency (which was going down), to buy bonds denominated in hard dollars.

BONNIE FAULKNER : If wealthy families from these countries bought these bonds denominated in dollars, knowing that they were going to be paid off, who was going to pay them off? The country that was going broke?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Well, countries don't pay; the taxpayers pay, and in the end, labor pays. The IMF certainly doesn't want to make its wealthy client oligarchies pay. It wants to squeeze ore economic surplus out of the labor force. So countries are told that the way they can afford to pay their enormously growing dollar-denominated debt is to lower wages even more.

Currency depreciation is an effective way to do this, because what is devalued is basically labor's wages. Other elements of exports have a common world price: energy, raw materials, capital goods, and credit under the dollar-centered international monetary system that the IMF seeks to maintain as a financial strait jacket.

According to the IMF's ideological models, there's no limit to how far you can lower wages by enough to make labor competitive in producing exports. The IMF and World Bank thus use junk economics to pretend that the way to pay debts owed to the wealthiest creditors and investors is to lower wages and impose regressive excise taxes, to impose special taxes on necessities that labor needs, from food to energy and basic services supplied by public infrastructure.

BONNIE FAULKNER: So you're saying that labor ultimately has to pay off these junk bonds?

MICHAEL HUDSON: That is the basic aim of IMF. I discuss its fallacies in my Trade Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism . These two books show that the World Bank and IMF were viciously anti-labor from the very outset, working with domestic elites whose fortunes are tied to and loyal to the United States.

BONNIE FAULKNER : With regard to these junk bonds, who was it or what entity

MICHAEL HUDSON : They weren't junk bonds. They were called that because they were high-interest bonds, but they weren't really junk because they actually were paid. Everybody thought they were junk because no American would have paid 45 percent interest. Any country that really was self-reliant and was promoting its own economic interest would have said, "You banks and the IMF have made bad loans, and you've made them under false pretenses – a trade theory that imposes austerity instead of leading to prosperity. We're not going to pay." They would have seized the capital flight of their comprador elites and said that these dollar bonds were a rip-off by the corrupt ruling class.

The same thing happened in Greece a few years ago, when almost all of Greece's foreign debt was owed to Greek millionaires holding their money in Switzerland. The details were published in the "Legarde List." But the IMF said, in effect that its loyalty was to the Greek millionaires who ha their money in Switzerland. The IMF could have seized this money to pay off the bondholders. Instead, it made the Greek economy pay. It found that it was worth wrecking the Greek economy, forcing emigration and wiping out Greek industry so that French and German bondholding banks would not have to take a loss. That is what makes the IMF so vicious an institution.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So these loans to foreign countries that were regarded as junk bonds really weren't junk, because they were going to be paid. What group was it that jacked up these interest rates to 45 percent?

MICHAEL HUDSON : The market did. American banks, stock brokers and other investors looked at the balance of payments of these countries and could not see any reasonable way that they could pay their debts, so they were not going to buy their bonds. No country subject to democratic politics would have paid debts under these conditions. But the IMF, U.S. and Eurozone diplomacy overrode democratic choice.

Investors didn't believe that the IMF and the World Bank had such a strangle hold over Latin American, Asian, and African countries that they could make the countries act in the interest of the United States and the cosmopolitan finance capital, instead of in their own national interest. They didn't believe that countries would commit financial suicide just to pay their wealthy One Percent.

They were wrong, of course. Countries were quite willing to commit economic suicide if their governments were dictatorships propped up by the United States. That's why the CIA has assassination teams and actively supports these countries to prevent any party coming to power that would act in their national interest instead of in the interest of a world division of labor and production along the lines that the U.S. planners want for the world. Under the banner of what they call a free market, you have the World Bank and the IMF engage in central planning of a distinctly anti-labor policy. Instead of calling them Third World bonds or junk bonds, you should call them anti-labor bonds, because they have become a lever to impose austerity throughout the world.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Well, that makes a lot of sense, Michael, and answers a lot of the questions I've put together to ask you. What about Puerto Rico writing down debt? I thought such debts couldn't be written down.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's what they all said, but the bonds were trading at about 45 cents on the dollar, the risk of their not being paid. The Wall Street Journal on June 17, reported that unsecured suppliers and creditors of Puerto Rico, would only get nine cents on the dollar. The secured bond holders would get maybe 65 cents on the dollar.

The terms are being written down because it's obvious that Puerto Rico can't pay, and that trying to do so is driving the population to move out of Puerto Rico to the United States. If you don't want Puerto Ricans to act the same way Greeks did and leave Greece when their industry and economy was shut down, then you're going to have to provide stability or else you're going to have half of Puerto Rico living in Florida.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Who wrote down the Puerto Rican debt?

MICHAEL HUDSON : A committee was appointed, and it calculated how much Puerto Rico can afford to pay out of its taxes. Puerto Rico is a U.S. dependency, that is, an economic colony of the United States. It does not have domestic self-reliance. It's the antithesis of democracy, so it's never been in charge of its own economic policy and essentially has to do whatever the United States tells it to do. There was a reaction after the hurricane and insufficient U.S. support to protect the island and the enormous waste and corruption involved in the U.S. aid. The U.S. response was simply: "We won you fair and square in the Spanish-American war and you're an occupied country, and we're going to keep you that way." Obviously this is causing a political resentment.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You've already touched on this, but why has the World Bank traditionally been headed by a U.S. secretary of defense?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Its job is to do in the financial sphere what, in the past, was done by military force. The purpose of a military conquest is to take control of foreign economies, to take control of their land and impose tribute. The genius of the World Bank was to recognize that it's not necessary to occupy a country in order to impose tribute, or to take over its industry, agriculture and land. Instead of bullets, it uses financial maneuvering. As long as other countries play an artificial economic game that U.S. diplomacy can control, finance is able to achieve today what used to require bombing and loss of life by soldiers.

In this case the loss of life occurs in the debtor countries. Population growth shrinks, suicides go up. The World Bank engages in economic warfare that is just as destructive as military warfare. At the end of the Yeltsin period Russia's President Putin said that American neoliberalism destroyed more of Russia's population than did World War II. Such neoliberalism, which basically is the doctrine of American supremacy and foreign dependency, is the policy of the World Bank and IMF.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why has World Bank policy since its inception been to provide loans for countries to devote their land to export crops instead of giving priority to feeding themselves? And if this is the case, why do countries want these loans?

MICHAEL HUDSON : One constant of American foreign policy is to make other countries dependent on American grain exports and food exports. The aim is to buttress America's agricultural trade surplus. So the first thing that the World Bank has done is not to make any domestic currency loans to help food producers. Its lending has steered client countries to produce tropical export crops, mainly plantation crops that cannot be grown in the United States. Focusing on export crops leads client countries to become dependent on American farmers – and political sanctions.

In the 1950s, right after the Chinese revolution, the United States tried to prevent China from succeeding by imposing grain export controls to starve China into submission by putting sanctions on exports. Canada was the country that broke these export controls and helped feed China.

The idea is that if you can make other countries export plantation crops, the oversupply will drive down prices for cocoa and other tropical products, and they won't feed themselves. So instead of backing family farms like the American agricultural policy does, the World Bank backed plantation agriculture. In Chile, which has the highest natural supply of fertilizer in the world from its guano deposits, exports guano instead of using it domestically. It also has the most unequal land distribution, blocking it from growing its own grain or food crops. It's completely dependent on the United States for this, and it pays by exporting copper, guano and other natural resources.

The idea is to create interdependency – one-sided dependency on the U.S. economy. The United States has always aimed at being self-sufficient in its own essentials, so that no other country can pull the plug on our economy and say, "We're going to starve you by not feeding you." Americans can feed themselves. Other countries can't say, "We're going to let you freeze in the dark by not sending you oil," because America's independent in energy. But America can use the oil control to make other countries freeze in the dark, and it can starve other countries by food-export sanctions.

So the idea is to give the United States control of the key interconnections of other economies, without letting any country control something that is vital to the working of the American economy.

There's a double standard here. The United States tells other countries: "Don't do as we do. Do as we say." The only way it can enforce this is by interfering in the politics of these countries, as it has interfered in Latin America, always pushing the right wing. For instance, when Hillary's State Department overthrew the Honduras reformer who wanted to undertake land reform and feed the Hondurans, she said: "This person has to go." That's why there are so many Hondurans trying to get into the United States now, because they can't live in their own country.

The effect of American coups is the same in Syria and Iraq. They force an exodus of people who no longer can make a living under the brutal dictatorships supported by the United States to enforce this international dependency system.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So when I asked you why countries would want these loans, I guess you're saying that they wouldn't, and that's why the U.S. finds it necessary to control them politically.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a concise way of putting it Bonnie.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why are World Bank loans only in foreign currency, not in the domestic currency of the country to which it is lending?

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's a good point. A basic principle should be to avoid borrowing in a foreign currency. A country can always pay the loans in its own currency, but there's no way that it can print dollars or euros to pay loans denominated in these foreign currencies.

Making the dollar central forces other countries to interface with the U.S. banking system. So if a country decides to go its own way, as Iran did in 1953 when it wanted to take over its oil from British Petroleum (or Anglo Iranian Oil, as it was called back then), the United States can interfere and overthrow it. The idea is to be able to use the banking system's interconnections to stop payments from being made.

After America installed the Shah's dictatorship, they were overthrown by Khomeini, and Iran had run up a U.S. dollar debt under the Shah. It had plenty of dollars. I think Chase Manhattan was its paying agent. So when its quarterly or annual debt payment came due, Iran told Chase to draw on its accounts and pay the bondholders. But Chase took orders from the State Department or the Defense Department, I don't know which, and refused to pay. When the payment was not made, America and its allies claimed that Iran was in default. They demanded the entire debt to be paid, as per the agreement that the Shah's puppet government had signed. America simply grabbed the deposits that Iran had in the United States. This is the money that was finally returned to Iran without interest under the agreement of 2016.

America was able to grab all of Iran's foreign exchange just by the banks interfering. The CIA has bragged that it can do the same thing with Russia. If Russia does something that U.S. diplomats don't like, the U.S. can use the SWIFT bank payment system to exclude Russia from it, so the Russian banks and the Russian people and industry won't be able to make payments to each other.

This prompted Russia to create its own bank-transfer system, and is leading China, Russia, India and Pakistan to draft plans to de-dollarize.

BONNIE FAULKNER : I was going to ask you, why would loans in a country's domestic currency be preferable to the country taking out a loan in a foreign currency? I guess you've explained that if they took out a loan in a domestic currency, they would be able to repay it.

MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Whereas a loan in a foreign currency would cripple them.

MICHAEL HUDSON : Yes. You can't create the money, especially if you're running a balance of payments deficit and if U.S. foreign policy forces you into deficit by having someone like George Soros make a run on your currency. Look at the Asia crisis in 1997. Wall Street funds bet against foreign currencies, driving them way down, and then used the money to pick up industry cheap in Korea and other Asian countries.

This was also done to Russia's ruble. The only country that avoided this was Malaysia, under Mohamed Mahathir, by using capital controls. Malaysia is an object lesson in how to prevent a currency flight.

But for Latin America and other countries, much of their foreign debt is held by their own ruling class. Even though it's denominated in dollars, Americans don't own most of this debt. It's their own ruling class. The IMF and World Bank dictate tax policy to Latin America – to un-tax wealth and shift the burden onto labor. Client kleptocracies take their money and run, moving it abroad to hard currency areas such as the United States, or at least keeping it in dollars in offshore banking centers instead of reinvesting it to help the country catch up by becoming independent agriculturally, in energy, finance and other sectors.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You say that: "While U.S. agricultural protectionism has been built into the postwar global system at its inception, foreign protectionism is to be nipped in the bud." How has U.S. agricultural protectionism been built into the postwar global system?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Under Franklin Roosevelt the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 called for price supports for crops so that farmers could earn enough to invest in equipment and seeds. The Agriculture Department was a wonderful department in spurring new seed varieties, agricultural extension services, marketing and banking services. It provided public support so that productivity in American agriculture from the 1930s to '50s was higher over a prolonged period than that of any other sector in history.

But in shaping the World Trade Organization's rules, the United States said that all countries had to promote free trade and could not have government support, except for countries that already had it. We're the only country that had it. That's what's called "grandfathering". The Americans said: "We already have this program on the books, so we can keep it. But no other country can succeed in agriculture in the way that we have done. You must keep your agriculture backward, except for the plantation crops and growing crops that we can't grow in the United States." That's what's so evil about the World Bank's development plan.

BONNIE FAULKNER : According to your book: "Domestic currency is needed to provide price supports and agricultural extension services such as have made U.S. agriculture so productive." Why can't infrastructure costs be subsidized to keep down the economy's overall cost structure if IMF loans are made in foreign currency?

MICHAEL HUDSON : If you're a farmer in Brazil, Argentina or Chile, you're doing business in domestic currency. It doesn't help if somebody gives you dollars, because your expenses are in domestic currency. So if the World Bank and the IMF can prevent countries from providing domestic currency support, that means they're not able to give price supports or provide government marketing services for their agriculture.

America is a mixed economy. Our government has always subsidized capital formation in agriculture and industry, but it insists that other countries are socialist or communist if they do what the United States is doing and use their government to support the economy. So it's a double standard. Nobody calls America a socialist country for supporting its farmers, but other countries are called socialist and are overthrown if they attempt land reform or attempt to feed themselves.

This is what the Catholic Church's Liberation Theology was all about. They backed land reform and agricultural self-sufficiency in food, realizing that if you're going to support population growth, you have to support the means to feed it. That's why the United States focused its assassination teams on priests and nuns in Guatemala and Central America for trying to promote domestic self-sufficiency.

BONNIE FAULKNER : If a country takes out an IMF loan, they're obviously going to take it out in dollars. Why can't they take the dollars and convert them into domestic currency to support local infrastructure costs?

MICHAEL HUDSON : You don't need a dollar loan to do that. Now were getting in to MMT. Any country can create its own currency. There's no reason to borrow in dollars to create your own currency. You can print it yourself or create it on your computers.

BONNIE FAULKNER: Well, exactly. So why don't these countries simply print up their own domestic currency?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Their leaders don't want to be assassinated. More immediately, if you look at the people in charge of foreign central banks, almost all have been educated in the United States and essentially brainwashed. It's the mentality of foreign central bankers. The people who are promoted are those who feel personally loyal to the United States, because they that that's how to get ahead. Essentially, they're opportunists working against the interests of their own country. You won't have socialist central bankers as long as central banks are dominated by the International Monetary Fund and the Bank for International Settlements.

BONNIE FAULKNER : So we're back to the main point: The control is by political means, and they control the politics and the power structure in these countries so that they don't rebel.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. When you have a dysfunctional economic theory that is destructive instead of productive, this is never an accident. It is always a result of junk economics and dependency economics being sponsored. I've talked to people at the U.S. Treasury and asked why they all end up following the United States. Treasury officials have told me: "We simply buy them off. They do it for the money." So you don't need to kill them. All you need to do is find people corrupt enough and opportunist enough to see where the money is, and you buy them off.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that "by following U.S. advice, countries have left themselves open to food blackmail." What is food blackmail?

MICHAEL HUDSON : If you pursue a foreign policy that we don't like -- for instance, if you trade with Iran, which we're trying to smash up to grab its oil -- we'll impose financial sanctions against you. We won't sell you food, and you can starve. And because you've followed World Bank advice and not grown your own food, you will starve, because you're dependent on us, the United States and our Free World Ó allies. Canada will no longer follow its own policy independently of the United States, as it did with China in the 1950s when it sold it grain. Europe also is falling in line with U.S. policy.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You write that: "World Bank administrators demand that loan recipients pursue a policy of economic dependency above all on the United States as food supplier." Was this done to support U.S. agriculture? Obviously it is, but were there other reasons as well?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Certainly the agricultural lobby was critical in all of this, and I'm not sure at what point this became thoroughly conscious. I knew some of the World Bank planners, and they had no anticipation that this dependency would be the result. They believed the free-trade junk economics that's taught in the schools' economics departments and for which Nobel prizes are awarded.

When we're dealing with economic planners, we're dealing with tunnel-visioned people. They stayed in the discipline despite its unreality because they sort of think that abstractly it makes sense. There's something autistic about most economists, which is why the French had their non-autistic economic site for many years. The mentality at work is that every country should produce what it's best at – not realizing that nations also need to be self-sufficient in essentials, because we're in a real world of economic and military warfare.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why does the World Bank prefer to perpetrate world poverty instead of adequate overseas capacity to feed the peoples of developing countries?

MICHAEL HUDSON : World poverty is viewed as solution , not a problem. The World Bank thinks of poverty as low-priced labor, creating a competitive advantage for countries that produce labor-intensive goods. So poverty and austerity for the World Bank and IMF is an economic solution that's built into their models. I discuss these in my Trade, Development and Foreign Debt book. Poverty is to them the solution, because it means low-priced labor, and that means higher profits for the companies bought out by U.S., British, and European investors. So poverty is part of the class war: profits versus poverty.

BONNIE FAULKNER : In general, what is U.S. food imperialism? How would you characterize it?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Its aim is to make America the producer of essential foods and other countries producing inessential plantation crops, while remaining dependent on the United States for grain, soy beans and basic food crops.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Does World Bank lending encourage land reform in former colonies?

MICHAEL HUDSON : No. If there is land reform, the CIA sends its assassination teams in and you have mass murder, as you had in Guatemala, Ecuador, Central America and Columbia. The World Bank is absolutely committed against land reform. When the Forgash Plan for a World Bank for Economic Acceleration was proposed in the 1950s to emphasize land reform and local-currency loans, a Chase Manhattan economist to whom the plan was submitted warned that every country that had land reform turned out to be anti-American. That killed any alternative to the World Bank.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Does the World Bank insist on client governments privatizing their public domain? If so, why, and what is the effect?

MICHAEL HUDSON : It does indeed insist on privatization, pretending that this is efficient. But what it privatizes are natural monopolies – the electrical system, the water system and other basic needs. Foreigners take over, essentially finance them with foreign debt, build the foreign debt that they build into the cost structure, and raise the cost of living and doing business in these countries, thereby crippling them economically. The effect is to prevent them from competing with the United States and its European allies.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Would you say then that it is mainly America that has been aided, not foreign economies that borrow from the World Bank?

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's why the United States is the only country with veto power in the IMF and World Bank – to make sure that what you just described is exactly what happens.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Why do World Bank programs accelerate the exploitation of mineral deposits for use by other nations?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Most World Bank loans are for transportation, roads, harbor development and other infrastructure needed to export minerals and plantation crops. The World Bank doesn't make loans for projects that help the country develop in its own currency. By making only foreign currency loans, in dollars or maybe euros now, the World Bank says that its clients have to repay by generating foreign currency. The only way they can repay the dollars spent on American engineering firms that have built their infrastructure is to export – to earn enough dollars to pay back for the money that the World Bank or IMF have lent.

This is what John Perkins' book about being an economic hit man for the World Bank is all about. He realized that his job was to get countries to borrow dollars to build huge projects that could only be paid for by the country exporting more – which required breaking its labor unions and lowering wages so that it could be competitive in the race to the bottom that the World Bank and IMF encourage.

BONNIE FAULKNER : You also point out in Super Imperialism that mineral resources represent diminishing assets, so these countries that are exporting mineral resources are being depleted while the importing countries aren't.

MICHAEL HUDSON : That's right. They'll end up like Canada. The end result is going to be a big hole in the ground. You've dug up all your minerals, and in the end you have a hole in the ground and a lot of the refuse and pollution – the mining slag and what Marx called the excrements of production.

This is not a sustainable development. The World Bank only promotes the U.S. pursuit of sustainable development. So naturally, they call their "Development," but their focus is on the United States, not the World Bank's client countries.

BONNIE FAULKNER : When Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire was originally published in 1972, how was it received?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Very positively. It enabled my career to take off. I received a phone call a month later by someone from the Bank of Montreal saying they had just made $240 million on the last paragraph of my book. They asked what it would cost to have me come up and give a lecture. I began lecturing once a month at $3,500 a day, moving up to $6,500 a day, and became the highest-paid per diem economist on Wall Street for a few years.

I was immediately hired by the Hudson Institute to explain Super Imperialism to the Defense Department. Herman Kahn said I showed how U.S. imperialism ran rings around European imperialism. They gave the Institute an $85,000 grant to have me go to the White House in Washington to explain how American imperialism worked. The Americans used it as a how-to-do-it book.

The socialists, whom I expected to have a response, decided to talk about other than economic topics. So, much to my surprise, it became a how-to-do-it book for imperialists. It was translated by, I think, the nephew of the Emperor of Japan into Japanese. He then wrote me that the United States opposed the book being translated into Japanese. It later was translated. It was received very positively in China, where I think it has sold more copies than in any other country. It was translated into Spanish, and most recently it was translated into German, and German officials have asked me to come and discuss it with them. So the book has been accepted all over the world as an explanation of how the system works.

BONNIE FAULKNER : In closing, do you really think that the U.S. government officials and others didn't understand how their own system worked?

MICHAEL HUDSON : Many might not have understood in 1944 that this would be the consequence. But by the time 50 years went by, you had an organization called "Fifty Years Is Enough." And by that time everybody should have understood. By the time Joe Stiglitz became the World Bank's chief economist, there was no excuse for not understanding how the system worked. He was amazed to find that indeed it didn't work as advertised, and resigned. But he should have known at the very beginning what it was all about. If he didn't understand how it was until he actually went to work there, you can understand how hard it is for most academics to get through the vocabulary of junk economics, the patter-talk of free trade and free markets to understand how exploitative and destructive the system is.

BONNIE FAULKNER : Michael Hudson, thank you very much.

MICHAEL HUDSON : It's always good to be here, Bonnie. I'm glad you ask questions like these.

I've been speaking with Dr. Michael Hudson. Today's show has been: The IMF and World Bank: Partners in Backwardness. Dr. Hudson is a financial economist and historian. He is president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trend, a Wall Street financial analyst and Distinguished Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. His 1972 book, Super Imperialism : The Economic Strategy of American Empire , a critique of how the United States exploited foreign economies through the IMF and World Bank, the subject of today's broadcast, is posted in PDF format on his website at michael-hudson.com. He is also author of Trade, Development and Foreign Debt , which is the academic sister volume to Super Imperialism. Dr. Hudson acts as an economic advisor to governments worldwide on finance and tax law. Visit his website at michael-hudson.com.

Guns and Butter is produced by Bonnie Faulkner, Yarrow Mahko and Tony Rango. Visit us at gunsandbutter.org to listen to past programs, comment on shows, or join our email list to receive our newsletter that includes recent shows and updates. Email us at faulkner@gunsandbutter.org . Follow us on Twitter at #gandbradio.

[Jun 30, 2019] Khrushchev and Mao

Notable quotes:
"... Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution. ..."
"... It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising. ..."
Jun 30, 2019 | www.unz.com

Priss Factor , says: Website June 29, 2019 at 12:04 am GMT

Abrams is giving the West too much credit for the Sino-Soviet rift of the late 5os and 60s.

That was NOT the doing of the CIA or Western Europe. It was 90% the fault of Mao who tried to shove Khrushchev aside as the head of world communism. Because Stalin had treated Mao badly, Khrushchev wanted to make amends and treated Mao with respect. But Mao turned out to be a total a-hole. There are two kinds of people: Those who appreciate friendly gestures and those who seek kindness as 'weakness'.

It's like Hitler saw Chamberlain's offer as weakness and pushed ahead. Being kind is nice, but one should never be kind to psychopaths, and Khrushchev was nice to the wrong person.

Mao only understood power. He sensed Khrushchev as 'weak' and acted as if he wanted to be the new Stalin. He also made international statements that made the US-USSR relations much worse. He berated Khrushchev for seeking co-existence with the West and pressed on for more World Revolution.

He also ignored Soviet advice not to attempt radical economic policies (that were soon to bring China to economic ruin -- at least Stalin's collectivization led to rise of industry; in contrast, Mao managed to destroy both agriculture and heavy industry).

When Stalin was alive, he didn't treat Mao with any respect, and Mao disliked Stalin but still respected him because Mao understood Power. With Stalin gone, Khrushchev showed Mao some respect, but Mao felt no respect for Khrushchev who was regarded as a weakling and sucker.

It was all so stupid. China and Russia could have gotten along well if not for Mao's impetuosity. Of course, Khrushchev could be reckless, contradictory, and erratic, and his mixed signals to the West also heightened tensions. Also, he was caught between a rock and a hard place where the Eastern Bloc was concerned. He wanted to de-Stalinize, but this could lead to events like the Hungarian Uprising.

Anyway, Putin and Xi, perhaps having grown up in less turbulent times, are more stable and mature in character and temperament than Mao and Khrushchev. They don't see the Russo-China relations as a zero sum game of ego but a way for which both sides can come to the table halfway, which is all one can hope for.

[Jun 29, 2019] Putin and Russian oligarchs: the origin of Russian oligarchs was that attempt to decimate and colonize Russia after 1991. They are creation of the West as natural result of intruduction of neoliberalism and shock therapy by Harvard mafia

Notable quotes:
"... "The neoliberal economic plan is to suck the wealth out of the working class and funnel it up to the top 10%, especially the 1%. How to keep the working class from noticing the theft? How about divide and conquer? ..."
"... "Meanwhile, our ruling overlords pick their next puppet, let us all "vote" on computerized machines, and then the talking heads announce the "winner".And it all starts over. Just about covers it.. ..."
"... Do you remember that one of the first things that he did when first elected was to gather the oligarchs and make them sign in !public! that from now on they will start paying taxes, treat their workers as humans and not mess in politics. The famous moment when Deripaska forgot to give Putin back his pen, the "please, give me my pen back" by Putin and the scared look on Deripaska's face? ..."
"... How much taxes did Yukos/Khodorkovsky pay? Anyone aware of the famous scheme where crude oil was classified in accounting as "earthen liquid", then bought from subsiduaries for nothing, so no taxes were paid. And now Gazprom or Rosneft announce that they have an annual income of 100 billion USD (figures are as an example) and that they paid 50 billion of it as taxes to the state? ..."
"... The situation in Russia in Putin's early years was so dire that there was no other future but breakup and misery. You make your conclusions. ..."
"... Seems a lot of folks think these "Russian Oligarchs" just showed up out of the blue.Russia was a communist country so how did a few 20/30 year olds communists manage to become billionaire oligarchs in 10 years or less after the fall of communism? My guess is money from the west supplied to a few to buy up Russia for less than pennies on the dollar. ..."
"... This is a good video on the rise of the oligarchs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLNKqbwec0s ..."
"... It is some time since I watched it, but a big part of how the oligarchs came to control most of the state assets was in the way Anatoly Chubais went about privatisation. From memory all citizens were given paper that gave them part ownership of state assets. The wannabe oligarchs snapped these up for peanuts and owned the bulk of what were state assets. ..."
"... Putin is in the role of mediator between these power centers. He also tries to rally the population (Russians know what revolution means) by religion, "traditional values", the promise of security and stability, and yes - Make Russia Great Again - therefore - Peter the Great. ..."
"... The problem is that Russian oligarchy is without legitimacy. Most oligarchy world wide is based on historical robbery but in Russia it is within this generation . They used to be part of the Soviet nomenklatura Communist Party network. It IS conceivable to litigate the riches robbed from the people in the 1990's (and has been done to oligarchs "not close to Putin") and the only shield between "the oligarchs" and Russians considering this idea is Putin's popularity and "Russian conservatism". ..."
Jun 29, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

snake , Jun 28, 2019 10:45:32 PM | 90

worth repeating=> wagelaborer @ 16 said;

"The neoliberal economic plan is to suck the wealth out of the working class and funnel it up to the top 10%, especially the 1%. How to keep the working class from noticing the theft? How about divide and conquer?

Absolutely right on target..

@21 also with;

"Meanwhile, our ruling overlords pick their next puppet, let us all "vote" on computerized machines, and then the talking heads announce the "winner".And it all starts over. Just about covers it..

Good posts..

Putin's statesmanship is obvious...ben @ 72

juliania , Jun 28, 2019 11:04:54 PM | 91

At the end of the interview, Putin is asked to name someone he admires (I might have misremembered so do correct me if that wasn't the question). His answer surprised me - Peter the Great. That answer surprised me as there are some things about Peter the Great that wouldn't seem so admirable, but then I suppose much flowed from his reign.

Dostoievski did have roots in the liberalism of the day, being a Saint Petersburg resident and all, and his great talent was achieved thanks to the Europeanization which Peter helped bring about for Russia. His, Dostoievski's novels draw on European literature but bring to it a quality that is uniquely Russian. So too does their classical music, the ballet, opera - and Russian's know full well that their own Tchaikovski and many of their great dancers were and are gay.

Do you then condemn and reject? No, you do not. They are great artists; you cannot. There's the depth of Russian complexity - it is both east and west and its Christianity, as well as its atheism, is too.

It was Dostoievski after all, who found solace in the belief that the Russian people were the source of Russia's greatness, while embracing the slavic heritage; so indeed there is an interesting mixture there of elite and not so elite, which refuses really to be categorized as this or that 'ism'. It's like the idea of multipolarity - all fervent beliefs are to be respected but not one dominating over all the rest.

C I eh? , Jun 29, 2019 3:58:10 AM | 112 BG , Jun 29, 2019 4:18:59 AM | 113
Has everybody forgotten the mess Russia was in during the late 90s? The Russians have not.

In 1999, Shamil Basaev and his gang were on the verge of taking over Dagestan and completely cutting Russian land connection to the Eastern parts of the Caucasus. After it became clear how serious the situation was, Putin became Prime minister and on New Year's day Yeltsin resigned transferring power to Putin.

The first thing Putin did as acting president was to visit the troops in Chechnya and raise morale. In two years, the war was basically over, the rest being mop-up ops only.

Do you remember that one of the first things that he did when first elected was to gather the oligarchs and make them sign in !public! that from now on they will start paying taxes, treat their workers as humans and not mess in politics. The famous moment when Deripaska forgot to give Putin back his pen, the "please, give me my pen back" by Putin and the scared look on Deripaska's face?

Didn't Putin say in the early 2000s:"It is best for you to keep your money in Russia. Or you may found yourself choked by dust chasing for your money fruitlessly in Western courts"? Oh, the irony, 15 years later...

How much taxes did Yukos/Khodorkovsky pay? Anyone aware of the famous scheme where crude oil was classified in accounting as "earthen liquid", then bought from subsiduaries for nothing, so no taxes were paid. And now Gazprom or Rosneft announce that they have an annual income of 100 billion USD (figures are as an example) and that they paid 50 billion of it as taxes to the state?

The situation in Russia in Putin's early years was so dire that there was no other future but breakup and misery. You make your conclusions.

---

arby , Jun 29, 2019 7:49:42 AM | 124
Seems a lot of folks think these "Russian Oligarchs" just showed up out of the blue.Russia was a communist country so how did a few 20/30 year olds communists manage to become billionaire oligarchs in 10 years or less after the fall of communism? My guess is money from the west supplied to a few to buy up Russia for less than pennies on the dollar.

Putin described Oligarchs as people that influence the government in ways that create even more wealth for themselves. In that regard he said there are no more oligarchs in Russia.

Those billionaires have all fled Russia it seems.

Peter AU 1 , Jun 29, 2019 8:10:09 AM | 126
arby 124

This is a good video on the rise of the oligarchs.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLNKqbwec0s

It is some time since I watched it, but a big part of how the oligarchs came to control most of the state assets was in the way Anatoly Chubais went about privatisation. From memory all citizens were given paper that gave them part ownership of state assets. The wannabe oligarchs snapped these up for peanuts and owned the bulk of what were state assets.

somebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:15:52 AM | 131
128 arby

I don't know about "coddling". But it is clear that - apart from the military-industrial complex, the securitiy services and state controlled oil and gas, this is where the power is in Russia.

Putin is in the role of mediator between these power centers. He also tries to rally the population (Russians know what revolution means) by religion, "traditional values", the promise of security and stability, and yes - Make Russia Great Again - therefore - Peter the Great.

The problem is that Russian oligarchy is without legitimacy. Most oligarchy world wide is based on historical robbery but in Russia it is within this generation . They used to be part of the Soviet nomenklatura Communist Party network. It IS conceivable to litigate the riches robbed from the people in the 1990's (and has been done to oligarchs "not close to Putin") and the only shield between "the oligarchs" and Russians considering this idea is Putin's popularity and "Russian conservatism".

somebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:33:49 AM | 132
The problem of rule by law in Russia.
These high-profile cases suggest that Russian legal outcomes, while unpredictable if one goes by the content of the law, are entirely predictable if one knows the preferences of the political sovereign: the Kremlin always wins.

However, this predictability is exaggerated. Outside a few very salient cases, the Kremlin either does not reveal its preferences or simply has no preferences.

When the Kremlin's position is uncertain, lower-level political actors, the prosecution, and judges try to guess the politically correct outcome and this guessing game introduces significant unpredictability into the legal regime. In addition, when political actors vie for relative power within the regime, they often seek to demonstrate that power by influencing court decisions in politically relevant cases.

Consider the frequent conflicts between mayors of major cities and regional governors. These conflicts are often fought vicariously through court cases, with each side attempting to mobilize enough political resources up the power ladder to secure a victory in court. Judges face the tough task of interpreting the signals that come from judicial superiors and the extrajudicial actors to deliver a decision that would be acceptable to whoever represents power (vlast') in that concrete case.

somebody , Jun 29, 2019 9:36:32 AM | 133
add to 132 - So the only security for Russian oligarchs is to legalize their riches abroad - which they have done - or - if forced to keep their capital in Russia because of sanctions - Putin.
Jen , Jun 29, 2019 9:41:37 AM | 134
Somebody @ 119:

The proposed legislation that was known as Rotenberg's Law (after Italy sanctioned Arkady Rotenberg's properties in that country) passed a first reading in the Duma in October 2014. That is not the same as being declared law: there is a second reading in the Duma the legislation should have undergone and passed, and that second reading appears not to have been done . Objections to the legislation were raised by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation and the Supreme Arbitration Court, and the Minister for Economic Development at the time (late 2014) also raised concerns.

It seems odd that every business venture that might need some government funding or funding to develop necessary infrastructure has to undergo deliberation twice by lower houses in a country's parliament and then passed through the senate or its equivalent before the venture can go ahead?

If business people talk to Putin or people close to him, that does not mean their venture can go ahead without being put to tender or subjected to scrutiny to see that it complies with current regulations. I merely observed that it seems that business people who happen to meet Putin or talk to him about a venture they might have, seem to get tarred with the "Putin crony" brush.

The Moscow Times is an English-language weekly newspaper with a small circulation (about 55,000) which is given away for free. For several years it was published by a Finnish company (Sanoma Corporation). The newspaper is currently owned by a Dutch-based owner and its CEO runs a catering business for commercial airlines. For a leading English-language Russian newspaper, The Moscow Times seems to have a poor business model.

[Jun 26, 2019] Black Markets Show How Socialists Can't Overturn Economic Laws Zero Hedge

Jun 26, 2019 | www.zerohedge.com
Black Markets Show How Socialists Can't Overturn Economic Laws

by Tyler Durden Tue, 06/25/2019 - 22:45 3 SHARES

Authored by Allen Gindler via The Mises Institute,

If we consider economics to be an objective science, its rules should also have universal significance and use, despite differences in societal order. However, socialists of the materialist camp are committed to the idea that common ownership of the means of production would change the way economic laws unfold under socialism. Basically, they reject the notion of the universality and objectivity of economic rules by suggesting that the laws would change along with a change to the social formation.

Thus, communists adhered to the Marxian idea that socialism would rectify a "surplus value" law, end the "exploitation" of workers, and efficiently regulate the production, distribution, and consumption aspects of the economy. They sought to eliminate the market regulatory mechanism and replace it with directives of the central planning authority. Bolsheviks enthusiastically got down to business: they eradicated private property, collectivized everything and everyone, and implemented an official planned economy.

Did it effectively turn off market relations as they thought it would?

No. In contrast to the common perception, socialism has been unable to kill the market economy. The market went underground and turned into a black market. Black markets existed in capitalist countries as well, but they worked underground because they dealt in illegal commodities and services. The black market under socialism served the same purpose, but the list of commodities and services included mostly items of everyday and innocent consumption that people under capitalism could easily purchase in stores. Virtually all groups of personal consumption products found their way to the black market at some time and in some places. Everything from jar lids to toilet paper was subject to black-market relations.

Despite the proclaimed planned economy, people were engaged in market relations on all levels and trusted more the price of the goods and services that were established by the market and not dictated by the government. The official exchange rate of the ruble to the dollar was 0.66 to 1 in 1980. But nobody except party nomenclature was able to enjoy such a favorable exchange rate. At the same time, the black market offered 4 rubles for 1 American dollar.

There was no production of jeans in the Soviet Union, but like all their peers abroad, Soviet youth wore jeans. The price was 180–250 rubles for a pair depending on the brand, which was almost twice as much as the monthly wage of an entry-level engineer. A visiting nurse charged 1 ruble for one injection if a patient lived below the fifth floor. The price reached 1.5 rubles for patients who lived on the fifth floor and up. A plumber happily repaired a faucet for just a bottle of vodka.

Two Prices for Everything

Therefore, in the Soviet Union, any significant goods had two price tags: one real and another virtual. The state set the first price through some obscure methods; the usual mechanism of supply and demand established the second price on the market. If you were lucky, after several hours of standing in a queue, you could purchase goods at the state price. However, due to the chronic lack of everything for everyone, the same product could be bought on the black market at a much higher price. The virtual price became real on the black market and reflected the actual value of the goods for the buyer. The presence of two price tags is a confirmation of the thesis of Ludwig von Mises regarding the impossibility of economic calculations under socialism. At the same time, this is proof of the immortality and immutability of the economic laws of the free market, even under a totalitarian regime. Therefore, two economic systems and two sets of prices co-exist under socialism.

People were forced to use the services of the black market, even under the penalty of severe punishment, including up to the death penalty. Almost the entire society was engaged in various corruption schemes to support a certain standard of living. There was a paradoxical situation when the shelves of the supermarkets were empty, but refrigerators at home were more or less full. The black market was filled with smuggled goods from abroad, as well as commodities produced in underground workshops. But more often, everyday products were specifically kept from retail to create a shortage and sell them on the black market at a speculative price. Socialism had undermined the normal flows of production, distribution, and consumption by ignoring the objective laws of economics. Nevertheless, an underground market and the intrinsic entrepreneurial spirit of the people helped them survive the socialist madness.

Regardless of the proclaimed successes of the Soviet economy reported by Communist party leaders, the socialist economy was unable to compete with its capitalist counterparts. Communists decided to create a system that somehow mimicked the work that a free market had successfully and automatically performed for centuries. Thus, they introduced socialist competition that was supposed to replace free market competition. Surely enough, it was an inadequate and unfortunate replacement. The rewards for winners in the capitalist competition were far higher than for the winners under socialism. For example, the capitalist winner enjoyed a significant increase in well-being.

Moreover, the principal winner of the free market competition was society as a whole. This is a natural feature of a free market economy and the main reason why the evolution of human societies selected this mode of production. A competition during socialism gave to the winners some publicity, a certificate of honor, maybe a trip to a "sanatorium" (that is, a health spa), and other bagatelles that people usually did not appreciate. But most importantly, society as a whole did not enjoy a significant improvement in well-being.

People were not sufficiently stimulated and were underpaid, which explained the lower labor productivity compared to capitalist countries. Moreover, this is despite the notion that the means of production, at last, belong to the workers themselves. People had a famous saying that can be considered the quintessence of Soviet-style socialism: "They [the government] pretend to pay, and we pretend to work."

Socialism is a set of systems that try to artificially inhibit the free flow of objective economic laws by creating subjective barriers in the form of specific legislation and punitive policies . Socialists mistakenly think that if they assault private property and market relations, the economic laws will also change. They have taken up the task which, in principle, has no rational solution. Nothing good comes from the idea of ignoring or violating the fundamental laws of economics. These laws still exist, regardless of opinions and neglect to recognize their real character and the impossibility of changing them.

Socialism disrupts the evolutionary process and leads society to a dead end. The desperate economic situation of ordinary folks in Venezuela , Cuba , and North Korea -- the remnants of socialist undertakings -- is a direct result of building a society in defiance of the natural action of the fundamental law of economics. As a rule, socialist regimes were buying time by employing slave labor, plunder, coercion, and everything else that an aggressive totalitarian regime could offer. However, in the end, the means of socialistic life support was exhausted, and than returning to the natural and healthy market relations, where the laws of economics work for the benefit of the human race.

The same laws of market economics have worked in different human societies: from pre-historic to post-industrial, but still socialists continue to entertain the idea of tampering with these forces of nature.

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[Jun 23, 2019] A modern example is the oligarchs who carved up the commons in a collapsing and disintegrating Soviet Union

Notable quotes:
"... It's not entrepreneurial; it's base rent-seeking and it was a violent act of forced approbriation by denying natural rights to others. ..."
Mar 06, 2012 | discussion.theguardian.com

NotWithoutMyMonkey , 6 Mar 2012 06:27

@johncj

So easy to say when you so blithely ignore the historical injustices, the inequality of opportunity and the theft - the first person to claim a parcel of land as their own exclusive property was committing an act of theft.

It's not entrepreneurial; it's base rent-seeking and it was a violent act of forced approbriation by denying natural rights to others.

The subsequent claims to title are enforced by the threat of violence through the emergence of a pervasive state.

A modern example is the oligarchs who carved up the commons in a collapsing and disintegrating Soviet Union. Their's was an act of theft committed against society and the common good. Your definition of freedom is predicated on theft and is a denial of natural freedoms,

[Jun 21, 2019] The shadow economy in the USSR how it all began

Jun 21, 2019 | weaponews.com

The question about the causes of the collapse and destruction of the Soviet Union – is not idle. It does not lose its relevance today, 22 years after occurred the death of the Soviet Union . Why? because some on the basis of this event concluded that, say, the capitalist model of the economy more competitive, more efficient and has no alternatives. American political scientist Francis Fukuyama after the collapse of the Soviet Union even hastened to declare that it was the "End of history": humanity has reached the highest and last stage of its development in the form of a universal, global capitalism. The relevance of studying the shadow economy, ssco opinion of this kind of political scientists, sociologists and economists, discussing the socialist economic model does not deserve attention.

Better to focus on improving the capitalist model of the economy, i. E. A model that targets all members of society to the enrichment, and a means of enrichment (profit) is the exploitation of one person by another. However, there are such "Natural" attributes of the capitalist model of social and income inequality, competition, cyclical crises, bankruptcies, unemployment and the like. All proposed improvements are aimed only at mitigating the inhuman consequences of capitalism that is reminiscent of utopian attempts to limit the appetite of a wolf devouring a sheep. We proceed from the fact that the key socio-economic characteristics of the socialist model are welfare for all members of society (goal), public ownership of the means of production (the main means), income generation solely for labor, planned nature of the economy, centralization of management, command positions of the state in the economy, the social consumption funds, the limited nature of commodity-money relations and so on. While this refers to the well-being not only in the form of products and services that are vital (biological) needs of the person.

This would also include public safety and defense, education, culture, conditions of work and rest. Of course, socialism – not only the economy and social relations. It also implies a certain type of political power, ideology, a high level of spiritually-moral development of society and another. High moral and spiritual requests should assume that there are higher goals in relation to socio-economic objectives.

But let's focus now is on the socio-economic aspect of the socialist model. So the erosion of the socialist model began long before the tragic events of december 1991, when it signed the infamous agreement on the division of the ussr in the bialowieza forest. It was already the final act of the political order. It is not only the date of death of the ussr, and date of full legalization of a new socio-economic model, which is called "Capitalism". However, implicitly capitalism germinated in the depths of soviet society for nearly three decades.

The soviet economy de facto has acquired the traits of a mixed. It combined socialist and capitalist structures. However, some foreign researchers and politicians said that de facto in the Soviet Union there was a complete restoration of capitalism in the 1960-ies – 1970-ies. The restoration of capitalism was linked to the emergence and development in the bowels of the ussr the so-called shadow or "Second" economy.

In particular, in the early 1960-ies member of the german communist party willy dickhut began publishing their articles, which stated that since coming to power in our country n. With. Khrushchev happened (not started, but it happened!) the restoration of capitalism in the ussr. The shadow economy functioned on the principles different from the socialist. Anyway, she was tied to corruption, embezzlement of state property, receipt of unearned income, in violation of the laws (or use of "Holes" in the legislation). Not to be confused with the shadow economy "Informal" economy, which is not contrary to the laws and principles of the socialist system, but complemented the economy "Official".

First of all, this self-employment – for example, the work of the farmer on the plot or the citizen in his summer cottage. And in the best of times (under stalin) widely developed the so-called fishing cooperation, which was occupied by production of consumer goods and services. In the Soviet Union state and party authorities chose to ignore the phenomenon of the shadow economy. No, of course, the police had uncovered and suppressed various operations in the sphere of the shadow economy. But the leaders of the ussr, commenting on this kind of history, fobbed off with phrases such as "Exception", "Some shortcomings", "Defects", "Bugs" and the like.

For example, in the early 1960-ies of the then first deputy of the ussr council of ministers anastas mikoyan has identified black market in the Soviet Union as "A handful of some dirty foam appearing on the surface of our society. "The shadow economy of the ussr: acincinnati some serious research shadow ("Second") economy in the ussr was conducted until the late 1980-ies. Abroad, such studies came first. First of all we should mention the work of american sociologist gregory grossman (university of california), which was called "Destructive independence. The historical role of genuine trends in soviet society".

She became widely known after was published in 1988 in the book "The light at the end of the tunnel" (university of berkeley, edited by stephen f. Cohen). However, the first article of grossman on this topic appeared in 1977 and was called "The second economy in the ussr (journal problems of communism, september-october 1977). You can also mention the book emigrated to the United States , the soviet lawyer konstantin simis "Corruption in the Soviet Union – the secret underground world of soviet capitalism", published in 1982. The author in the 1970-ies is closely in contact with some shady businessman, a lawyer which he performed at the trials.

However, quantitative assessments of shadow ("Second") economy k. Simes does not. Later appeared the work of american sociologists and economists of Russian origin Vladimir tremlia and michael alexeev. Since 1985, gregory grossman and Vladimir treml produce periodic collections of the "Second economy" of the ussr. Releases continued until 1993, only 51 were published a study involving 26 authors.

Many studies represented surveys of families of immigrants from the Soviet Union (a total of 1061 family). To studies have also used surveys of emigrants from other socialist countries, the official statistics of the ussr, publications in mass media and scientific journals of the Soviet Union . Despite the differences in some quantitative estimates of the individual authors, these differences were not fundamental. The differences arose due to the fact that some authors considered "Informal economy", the other – the shadow economy; however, their definitions of both economies could not match. Here are some results of these studies. 1.

In 1979 the illicit manufacture of wine, beer and other alcoholic beverages, as well as speculative resale of alcoholic beverages produced in the "First economy", provided the income, equal to 2. 2% of gnp (gross national product). 2. In the late 1970-ies in the ussr was flourishing black market gasoline. From 33 to 65% of purchases of gasoline in urban areas of the country, individual owners of cars had petrol sold by drivers of public enterprises and organizations (gasoline were sold at a price below the state). 3. In the soviet hairdresser 'left' incomes exceeded the amounts that customers have paid through cash.

This is just one example of what some state-owned enterprises de facto belonged to the "Second" economy. 4. In 1974 the share of employment in private and home gardens accounted for almost a third of the total working time in agriculture. And this was almost 10% of the total working time in the soviet economy. 5. In the 1970-ies, about a quarter of agricultural products produced on private plots, much of it was directed at kolkhoz markets. 6.

In the late 1970's, around 30% of all income of the urban population was obtained through various types of private activity – both legal and illegal. 7. By the end of 1970-ies the proportion of people employed in the "Second economy", reached 10-12% of the total workforce in the ussr. At the end of 1980-ies there appeared a number of works on the shadow and "Second" economy in the ussr. First and foremost is the publication of the soviet economist tatyana results and director of the research institute of the state planning commission valery rutgajzer. Here is the data from the t.

The results of the "Shadow economy of the ussr". The annual value of illegally produced goods and services in the early 1960-ies amounted to about 5 billion rubles, and in the end of 1980-ies was already reached 90 billion rubles. At current prices, the gnp of the ussr was (in billions of rubles): in 1960 – 195; in 1990, 701. Thus, the economy of the ussr for thirty years has increased 3. 6 times, and the shadow economy – 14 times.

If in 1960 the shadow economy relative to official gdp was 3. 4%, while by 1988 this figure rose to 20%. However, in 1990 it was equal to 12. 5%. This decline was due to changes in soviet legislation, which transferred to discharge a legal a range of economic activities, which were previously considered illegal. The number of employed in the shadow economy, estimated to be the results, in the beginning of 1960-ies was 6 million people, and in 1974 their number increased to 17-20 million people (6-7% of the population). In 1989, the such shadow was already 30 million people, or 12% of the population of the ussr. The threats and consequences of the development of the shadow economy in sssri american and soviet researchers pay attention to some features of the shadow economy and its impact on the overall situation in the Soviet Union .

[Jun 14, 2019] From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnik

Jun 14, 2019 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al June 7, 2019 at 3:28 pm

Financial Crimes: From Russian oil to rock'n'roll: the rise of Len Blavatnik
https://www.ft.com/content/c1889f48-871a-11e9-a028-86cea8523dc2

He made a fortune in the chaotic world of 1990s Russian capitalism, then took a place at the heart of the British establishment

Striding the halls of an English stately home, dressed in full costume as Victorian prime minister Benjamin Disraeli, Len Blavatnik was celebrating his 60th birthday. Grammy-winner Bruno Mars sang. Guests -- some in frock coats, others dressed as Leo Tolstoy, Rasputin or Chinese emissaries -- mixed with rock stars, celebrities and business tycoons.

Themed as an imaginary conference chaired by Disraeli, the June 2017 party was emblematic of Blavatnik's extraordinary rise from his birth in Soviet Ukraine to one of the UK's richest people
####

A lot more at the link.

So why did Abramovic get the bum rush? He's kept his head down, not made waves, behaved himself and spent a lot of money in the UK (Chelsea FC) which the above FT article sniffs at as unworthy (snobs), but the Brit government still stiffed his visa and he hasn't been back to the UK even though he now also has I-sraeli citizenship that affords him visa-free entry to the UK. Is it because the UK and others need some oligarchs on the side just in case their dream comes true and they need to parachute in some reliable Russians? That wouldn't surprise me. Government in waiting. Maybe Abramovic said "No." Wrong answer.

moscowexile June 8, 2019 at 11:57 pm
Parachute in some reliable Russians ???

You mean "Sir" Leonard Blavatnik?

Леонид Валентинович Блаватник (Сэр Леонард Блаватник; англ. Sir Leonard Blavatnik или Len Blavatnik; род. 14 июня 1957, Одесса -- американский и британский предприниматель и промышленник еврейского происхождения. В 2015 году возглавил список богатейших людей Великобритании Russian Wiki

Leonid Valentinovich Blavatnik (Sir Leonard Blavatnik or Len Blavatnik); born 14 June 1957, Odessa – American and British entrepreneur and industrialist of Jewish ancestry. In 2015, headed a list of the richest people in Great Britain

[Jun 01, 2019] Mr. Jim Mellon a is a billionaire who carpetbagged Russia after the collapse of the USSR by Johanna Ross

Notable quotes:
"... And again, a Mr. Jim Mellon a for real billionaire, several times over I should think, the same guy who carpetbagged Russia after the collapse of the CCCP. His gleanings were called “privatization”… of poor mother Russia. ..."
Jun 01, 2019 | consortiumnews.com

elmerfudzie , May 30, 2019 at 17:37

Tainted tenure indeed! No one asks the right questions anymore. For example, where did all that Brexit cash come from? As I commented previously at CONSORTIUMNEWS and it is redacted here; “The Panama Papers signaled a need for radical change(s) in the EU banking laws. Hiding money, legit or not from, fair and open taxation, has become increasingly difficult for the upper crust….”

The BREXIT cash originated, no surprise folks, from a Gibraltar based firm, where a Mr Arron Banks (big bucks Banks) a guy with money to burn, with corporate holdings in the Isle of Man and too, one of his buddies, an Alan Kentish of the STM group specializing in, oh you’ll love this, offshore wealth preservation! LOL

And again, a Mr. Jim Mellon a for real billionaire, several times over I should think, the same guy who carpetbagged Russia after the collapse of the CCCP. His gleanings were called “privatization”… of poor mother Russia. Well, to make a long story short, Mr Kentish, the original pro-BREXITeer was arrested in Gibraltar under the UK’s Crime Act for such suspicious money funneling(s). My oh my Ms May, what strange political bedfellows you seem to have!

[May 22, 2019] The KGB plotters of 1991 had thought that post-Communist Russia would be treated by the West like the prodigal son, with a fattened calf being slaughtered for the welcome feast. To their disappointment, the stupid bastards discovered that their country was to play the part of the fattened calf at the feast, and they were turned from unseen rulers into billionaires' bodyguards

May 22, 2019 | www.unz.com

Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm GMT 100 Words This is good writing: "The KGB plotters of 1991 had thought that post-Communist Russia would be treated by the West like the prodigal son, with a fattened calf being slaughtered for the welcome feast. To their disappointment, the stupid bastards discovered that their country was to play the part of the fattened calf at the feast, and they were turned from unseen rulers into billionaires' bodyguards.

Jake says: Next New Comment May 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm GMT Andropov's mother was Jewish.

[Apr 28, 2019] NYC subway system as a sign of deterioration of the USA as economic power

Parachuting Harvard mafia on Russia was a more powerful weapon and led to more destruction of Russian economy then direct bombardment would
Notable quotes:
"... Concerning the capability of wrecking finances of other states, USA is not a slouch, the most powerful weapon is economic advise. If I interpret news correctly, it were experts of Goldman Sachs that help Greek government to borrow about twice as much as they could handle in the long run. The wreckage in Russia was as impressive, but, alas, hard to repeat, so now it remains to carp about their "bad behavior". ..."
Apr 28, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:26:43 PM | link

I think that at least some weapon systems that USA makes or develops can be indeed superior. The most acute loss from the approach of "invest in over-extending and un-balancing the opponent" is that USA, while powerful, cannot do everything in the same time.

My favorite comparison chart is timeliness of subway systems in major metropolitan areas. Honestly, I cannot find it, because the search is swamped with the tales of woe of subway commuters in NYC. As befits the greatest financial center, cultural metropolis etc. etc., NYC has a transportation system that is comparable in its extend to other metropolitan areas like Tokyo, Paris or London. However, the performance is uninspiring. On the chart in NYT that I can't find out at the moment, only Mexico City had a lower percentage of train rides delayed by less than 10 minutes. I checked Moscow that has a larger subway system (compared to NY) and which was not on the chart. They pride themselves with frequency of delays that is 5 times smaller than in Paris (50 times smaller than in NYC?). Moscovites can actually plan their daily lives assuming that their commutes will arrive on time.

This is the most glaring example of a lost opportunity to take care of domestic needs, but the quality of education, healthcare etc. is mediocre compared with the rest of OECD, although there is always the southern neighbor that saves USA from being dead last.

Incidentally, NYC subway is not exactly underfunded, instead, it may have the most irrational management among major metropolitan areas which accurately reflects deficiencies of American political system. Bloated costs are pervasive across many areas, surely in military, healthcare and broadly meant policing, and their originate in lobbo-cracy, a plethora of lobbies grabbing chunks of monies either directly spent or (mis)regulated by the government. The activity of these lobbies is tightly regulated by elaborate rules, but the end effect is as if USA were pathetically corrupted (say, half as corrupted as Nigeria).

Piotr Berman , Apr 27, 2019 3:46:11 PM | link

Concerning the capability of wrecking finances of other states, USA is not a slouch, the most powerful weapon is economic advise. If I interpret news correctly, it were experts of Goldman Sachs that help Greek government to borrow about twice as much as they could handle in the long run. The wreckage in Russia was as impressive, but, alas, hard to repeat, so now it remains to carp about their "bad behavior".

Sanctions are also powerful when directed at small/medium size economies. Russia, although disparaged as "a smaller economy than Italy", but in actuality, Italy has "GDP per capity PPP" that is 40% larger than Russia, and Russia has 2.4 times larger population, so quite a bit larger economy in terms of "purchasing parity", and the most glaring domestic production deficiency are fruit and vegetables that, according to latest news, have a number of potential suppliers that are most glad when they can sell their produce.

[Apr 18, 2019] The result of Yeltsin neoliberal mafia rule was the largest after 1941-1945 kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.

Notable quotes:
"... Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. ..."
"... The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself. ..."
Apr 18, 2019 | www.moonofalabama.org

bevin , Apr 17, 2019 9:13:07 AM | link

Craig Murray has a piece on this today. There is nothing very new in what he writes but he sees the significance of this story, which is not about ducks or children or Donald Trump's personality but a concerted and thorough campaign, carried out largely by British state actors, to deepen the 'west's' isolation of Russia.

https://www.craigmurray.org.uk/

The real story of both the Cold War and the continually recurring propaganda stories about the "millions" of "victims of communism" is that the Soviet Union was manipulated throughout its history by capitalist control over the international economy. Like a demonic organist capitalist governments pulled out all the stops to control the moods and the policies of a state that the Bolsheviks never did get to rule.

In the end the Politburo gave in and did what the 'west' had always been wanted which is to hand over the country, lock, stock and population to the cannibals of capital.

The result being what was probably, after the 1930-45 war, the largest kill off of Russians in modern history: Yeltsin plus Harvard Business School being responsible for many more deaths than even the intoxicated propagandist Robert Conquest ever dreamed of.

It is that total control over Russia, through the manipulation of its economy, and the direction of its capitalists, that is behind the long series of sanctions, which are being added to every day: their purpose is to re-invent Yeltsinism, re-empower the Fifth Column in the Kremlin, and, in a stroke, re-establish the inevitable and eternal hegemony of the Washington centered Empire.

In this work the assistance of the 'cousins'in MI6 and GCHQ, plus the entire British military establishment has been crucial in a period in which the subservience of POTUS to the Deep State was, thanks to the underestimation of his electoral chances, very much in question. During a period in which Trump had to be tamed and brought under control the UK Establishment's assistance in coming up with a series of highly publicised interventions was crucia l.

Lysias points out that Haspel had acted as the CIA's Head of Station in London in 2016. It was in London that the entire "Russiagate" nonsense was put together, with British based actors continually prodding Congress, the media and the Democrats to act on revelations regarding Papadopolous, Mifsud, Stefan Halper.

Skripal was just one more effort to tighten sanctions against Putin's allies in the Russian oligarchy and isolate Trump from foreign policy initiatives not approved by the Deep State. The significance of the NY Times story, then, is that, inadvertently it reinforces the reality that in the matter of Russiagate and Trump all roads lead to London, the Tory Establishment, which has been living off US-Russian tensions for seventy years and security agencies doing what the CIA cannot do for itself.

[Apr 08, 2019] Has Privatization Benefitted the Public naked capitalism

Notable quotes:
"... Privatization typically enriches the politically connected few who secure lucrative rents by sacrificing the national or public interest for private profit, even when privatization may not seem to benefit them. ..."
"... For example, following Russian voucher privatization and other Western recommended reforms, for which there was a limited domestic constituency then, within three years (1992-1994), the Russian economy had collapsed by half, and adult male life expectancy fell by six years. It was the greatest such recorded catastrophe in the last six millennia of recorded human history. ..."
"... Soon, a couple of dozen young Russian oligarchs had taken over the commanding heights of the Russian economy; many then monetized their gains and invested abroad, migrating to follow their new wealth. Much of this was celebrated by the Western media as economic progress. ..."
Apr 08, 2019 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

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<img src="http://b.scorecardresearch.com/p?c1=2&c2=16807273&cv=2.0&cj=1" /> Has Privatization Benefitted the Public? Posted on April 7, 2019 by Jerri-Lynn Scofield Jerri-Lynn here. Another succinct post by Jomo Kwame Sundaram that makes clear the "benefits" of privatization are not evenly distributed, and in fact, typically, "many are even worse off" when the government chooses to transfer ownership of the family silver.

Note that SOE is the acronym for state owned enterprise.

For those interested in the topic, see also another short post by the same author from last September, debunking other arguments to promote the privatization fairy, Revisiting Privatization's Claims .

By Jomo Kwame Sundaram, former UN Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development. Originally published at Inter Press Service

In most cases of privatization, some outcomes benefit some, which serves to legitimize the change. Nevertheless, overall net welfare improvements are the exception, not the rule.

Never is everyone better off. Rather, some are better off, while others are not, and typically, many are even worse off. The partial gains are typically high, or even negated by overall costs, which may be diffuse, and less directly felt by losers.

Privatized Monopoly Powers

Since many SOEs are public monopolies, privatization has typically transformed them into private monopolies. In turn, abuse of such market monopoly power enables more rents and corporate profits.

As corporate profits are the private sector's yardstick of success, privatized monopolies are likely to abuse their market power to maximize rents for themselves. Thus, privatization tends to burden the public, e.g., if charges are raised.

In most cases, privatization has not closed the governments' fiscal deficits, and may even worsen budgetary problems. Privatization may worsen the fiscal situation due to loss of revenue from privatized SOEs, or tax evasion by the new privatized entity.

Options for cross-subsidization, e.g., to broaden coverage are reduced as the government is usually left with unprofitable activities while the potentially profitable is acquired by the private sector. Thus, governments are often forced to cut essential public services.

In most cases, profitable SOEs were privatized as prospective private owners are driven to maximize profits. Fiscal deficits have often been exacerbated as new private owners use creative accounting to avoid tax, secure tax credits and subsidies, and maximize retained earnings.

Meanwhile, governments lose vital revenue sources due to privatization if SOEs are profitable, and are often obliged to subsidize privatized monopolies to ensure the poor and underserved still have access to the privatized utilities or services.

Privatization Burdens Many

Privatization burdens the public when charges or fees are not reduced, or when the services provided are significantly reduced. Thus, privatization often burdens the public in different ways, depending on how market power is exercised or abused.

Often, instead of trying to provide a public good to all, many are excluded because it is not considered commercially viable or economic to serve them. Consequently, privatization may worsen overall enterprise performance. 'Value for money' may go down despite ostensible improvements used to justify higher user charges.

SOEs are widely presumed to be more likely to be inefficient. The most profitable and potentially profitable are typically the first and most likely to be privatized. This leaves the rest of the public sector even less profitable, and thus considered more inefficient, in turn justifying further privatizations.

Efficiency Elusive

It is often argued that privatization is needed as the government is inherently inefficient and does not know how to run enterprises well. Incredibly, the government is expected to subsidize privatized SOEs, which are presumed to be more efficient, in order to fulfil its obligations to the citizenry.

Such obligations may not involve direct payments or transfers, but rather, lucrative concessions to the privatized SOE. Thus, they may well make far more from these additional concessions than the actual cost of fulfilling government obligations.

Thus, privatization of profitable enterprises or segments not only perpetuates exclusion of the deserving, but also worsens overall public sector performance now encumbered with remaining unprofitable obligations.

One consequence is poorer public sector performance, contributing to what appears to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. To make matters worse, the public sector is then stuck with financing the unprofitable, thus seemingly supporting to the privatization prophecy.

Benefits Accrue to Relatively Few

Privatization typically enriches the politically connected few who secure lucrative rents by sacrificing the national or public interest for private profit, even when privatization may not seem to benefit them.

Privatization in many developing and transition economies has primarily enriched these few as the public interest is sacrificed to such powerful private business interests. This has, in turn, exacerbated corruption, patronage and other related problems.

For example, following Russian voucher privatization and other Western recommended reforms, for which there was a limited domestic constituency then, within three years (1992-1994), the Russian economy had collapsed by half, and adult male life expectancy fell by six years. It was the greatest such recorded catastrophe in the last six millennia of recorded human history.

Soon, a couple of dozen young Russian oligarchs had taken over the commanding heights of the Russian economy; many then monetized their gains and invested abroad, migrating to follow their new wealth. Much of this was celebrated by the Western media as economic progress.

diptherio , April 7, 2019 at 9:11 am

SOE must stand for "state owned enterprise."

Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author , April 7, 2019 at 9:30 am

Yes it does. I've now added a sentence to my introduction to make that clear. I noticed the omission when I was uploading the post, but wasn't sure whether readers would be confused.

Thanks for your comment.

caloba , April 7, 2019 at 10:45 am

As a rule of thumb, I'd say that any privatisations that require the introduction of convoluted pseudo-market structures or vast new regulatory bureaucracies or which derive most of their ongoing income from the public sector are likely to be contrary to the long-term public interest. In the UK, unfortunately, all these ships sailed a long time ago

DJG , April 7, 2019 at 11:15 am

After the recent Chicago municipal elections, I wrote up some notes on the reasons for the discontent. This article by Sundaram explains exactly how these schemes work. Further, you can apply his criteria of subsidies for the rich, skimming, and disinheriting the middle class and poor to all of the following instances in Chicago.

If I may–some for instances of how Sundaram's observations turn up in U.S. cities:

Chicago is the proving grounds for thirty or so years of the Democrats' surrender to neoliberalism and austerity politics. Let us not forget, brethren and sistren, that Rahm is the Spawn of Bill + Hill as well as dear friend and advisor of Obama. So there is the work of Daley to undo and the work of the Clintonians to undo. It will take more than one term for Lightfoot.

Consider:
–Parking meters and enforcement have been privatized, starving the city of funds and, more importantly, of its police power.
–Taxes have been privatized in TIFs, where money goes and is never heard from again.
–There have been attempts to privatize the park system in the form of the Lucas museum and the current Obama Theme Park imbroglio, involving some fifty acres of park land.
–The school system has been looted and privatized. The Democrats are big fans of charter schools (right, "Beto"), seeing them as ways to skim money off the middle class and the poor.
–Fare collection on public transit has been privatized using a system so deliberately rudimentary and so deliberately corrupt that it cannot tell you at point of service how much you have paid as fare.
–Boeing was enticed to Chicago with tax breaks. Yes, that Boeing, the one that now deliberately puts bad software in your airplane.
–Property tax assessment has been an opaque system and source of skimming for lawyers.
–Zoning: Eddie Burke, pond scum, is just the top layer of pollution.
–And as we have made our descent, all of these economic dogmata have been enforced by petty harassment of the citizenry (endless tickets) and an ever-brutal police force.

And yet: The current Republican Party also supports all of these policies, so let's not pretend that a bunch of Mitch McConnell lookalikes are headed to Chicago to reform it.

California is no better , April 7, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Providing professional services i.e. architecture, engineering, etc. for a public entity, local or federal, does not yield unreasonable profits. Typically, the public agencies have their own staff to monitor and cost control a project. The professional services provided to private developers yields far more profit- oftentimes twice the profits associated with public agency work. Most professional services companies will transition their work to the public agencies during a recession.

At any rate, especially in Illinois, privatizing the work to avoid pension liabilities is no longer a choice. Michael Madigan pension promises will require the public to maintain a public service budget with no staff to fill potholes. Essentially, these are the no work jobs made popular by the Soprano crew twenty years ago.

Discussion of the downside of the privatization of public services is merely an oscillation from discussing the weather, the Bears or any other kitchen table discussion – nothing more than pleasant small talk to pass the time.

Privatization, at any cost, is no longer a choice. We have abused the pension system and now the public must pay for private companies to provide the most basic services.

stan6565 , April 7, 2019 at 6:36 pm

The question is, what can one do to help arrest this wholesale theft of public resources and their expropriation into the hands of well connected. " Public", as in, it is the working public over the last 100 or 200 years that created (or paid for), the electricity grid, or public schools, or entire armed or police forces

I keep thinking that perhaps an Act could or should be introduced here in UK (same for the States, i suppose), which should ensure that all politicians that enable any type of privatisation of public resources or PFI arrangement (yes that old chesnut), should be made personally responsible for the results therof.

And any losses to the public accidentally or "accidentally" occasioned by such commandeering over public resources, to be treated like deliberate misappropriation by the said public officials.

With the financial and custodial penalties as may be appropriate.

Anybody out there with similar thoughts or should i really try harder and give up on drugs?

eg , April 7, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Michael Hudson, to his immense credit, explains the pernicious effects of privatization of common goods repeatedly throughout his work, and demonstrates that it has been with us at least as long as the ancient practice of land alienation and rural usury.

Natural monopolies ought to be nationalised, full stop.

Grizziz , April 7, 2019 at 12:39 pm

I support public ownership of natural monopolies, however it would be helpful if these pieces contained data, case studies or footnoted entries providing some empirical evidence of the author's thesis.

Thuto , April 7, 2019 at 1:00 pm

This article comes at a time when the clarion call for privatizing Eskom, SA's electricity utility, is hitting deafening levels. To the private sector, efficiency = maximizing profits by making the "bloated" enterprise lean (aka cutting the workforce) and quite literally mean (aka cutting services to "unprofitable" segments of the market, iow, the poor and vulnerable). When profits soar because the holy grail of efficiency is achieved, the mainstream business press brings out the champagne and toasts this "success" as proof that the previously "moribund" (they always exaggerate the state of things) monopolistic monolith has been given a new lease on life by privatizing it and the template is set for rescuing other "ailing" SOEs.

The drawbacks are never laid out as cleary as they are in this article and the plight of those worst affected, whether laid-off workers or those whose services have been cut, never makes it into the headlines.

PhilB , April 7, 2019 at 2:53 pm

And then there is prison privatization where the burden of operation and maintaining the institution should clearly be on the public so as to be constant reminder of the burden, among others reasons. The motivations by private prison operators to reduce services and costs out of site of the pesky prying eyes of the public are manifold.

RepubAnon , April 7, 2019 at 7:54 pm

Privatization is a great way to avoid having user fees wasted by providing services, and instead put to better use funding the re-election campaigns of politicians supporting privatization. Plus, it provides much-needed consulting fees for former politicians as well as job-creating 7-figure salaries for the CEOs,

(/snark, if you couldn't tell)

On a side note, the Dilbert comic strip is written about private industry ,

Iapetus , April 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

There was a rudimentary plan put forward last June that recommended some pretty substantial privatizations of U.S. government assets and services which include:

-Privatizing the US Post Office ( through an Initial Public Offering or outright sale to a private entity ).
-Sell off U.S. government owned electricity transmission lines ( U.S. government owns 14% of this nations power transmission lines through TVA, Southwestern Power Administration, Western Area Power Administration, and Bonneville Power Administration ).
-Spin-off the Federal Aviation Administrations air traffic control operations into a private nonprofit entity.
-Spin-off the Department of Transportations operations of the Saint Lawrence Seaways Locks and Channels into a private non-profit entity.
-End the federal conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, then regulate a new system of private guarantors for their MBS securities.

Not sure if these are still being considered.

Tom Stone , April 7, 2019 at 3:54 pm

There's no way I could ask that question with a straight face.

Jack Parsons , April 7, 2019 at 6:35 pm

At heart, the problem with privatization is that marketing to a government-employed purchaser or "purchase influencer" is ridiculously cheap, due to their poor accountability strictures.

This is abetted by the Katamari Damacy process (self-accretionary tendency) of money and power.

https://youtu.be/-U_Tccwyh70?t=139

The Rev Kev , April 7, 2019 at 7:50 pm

In Oz the electricity grids were privatized as they would be cheaper that way – or so people were told. Instead, the cost of electricity has risen sharply over the years to the point that it is effecting elections on both the State and Federal level as the price hikes are so controversial. A problem is that those companies have to pay back the loans used to buy the public electricity grids and as well, the senior management award themselves sky-high wages because they are totally worth it. These are factors that were never present when it was publicly owned. And just to put the boot in, those very same companies have been 'gold-plating' the electricity grid for their gain-

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/australian-gold-plated-power-grid/8721566

Meanwhile, whatever money the governments made selling their electricity companies has been long spent on white elephants or buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.

Procopius , April 7, 2019 at 8:54 pm

buying themselves re-elections by giving out goodies to voters.

I don't reside in the states, so I don't see much of the detail of daily life. What are these "goodies" of which you speak? In what I am able to read on the internet, people aren't being given goodies any more. At least the old-time politicians handed out jobs, and turkeys at Christmas. The current crop do hand out jobs to their kids and immediate family, but not so much to anyone else.

[Apr 04, 2019] Are Academics Academic? by Daniel Warner

Apr 04, 2019 | www.counterpunch.org

Academics have different interests from practitioners. Publications, tenure and mentoring students are university responsibilities, not responsibilities for governing the world. ( It is an open question whether [neoliberal] academics sub-consciously want to govern the world .)

Harvard University has a rule – known as the Kissinger rule – that faculty can only take two years off to do other activities such as government work in Washington.

David Halberstam's The Best and the Brightest is a damning recounting of how the Harvard elite failed to understand the Vietnam War because of its arrogance.)