Tuesday, July 01, 2008

And that was after the absurd demonization of the USSR in the 1980s

Not that there wasn't censorship, lack of freedom of speech, of assembly, of democratic election of officials, but the USSR wasn't this super secret Evil Empire that had the hidden key to dominating the world. The USSR was in many ways still a developing country. They put an enormous amount of energy into developing weapons in order to counter U.S. weapons and they put a huge amount of money into their space program because of the prestige that competing in the space race carried with it, but the country was in many ways built on foundations of sand economically. Stalinism had turned the dream of a workers' country, state with a small 'S', where leisure was extended and people could develop themselves in ways that they couldn't before on its head by demanding that people sacrifice everything for industrialization and for the development of the economy. The goals and the means were unrealistic, were guided by ideology and not by the real constraints that developing a complex economy puts forth, and so were done wrong. The industrial base of the USSR was made through cutting corners and shoddy workmanship, and eventually it caught up with Russia by causing structural economic deficiencies that ultimately caused the downfall of it. In order to move forward economically Russia had to update how their economy functioned on a basic level, but that basic level of industry in turn was in itself flawed and constructed in a bad way, so that in order to upgrade the economy you'd also need to fix the deep weakness within the existing economy. That proved to be too much.

Anyways, although Russia had ICBMs and an army that was committed to defending itself against the United States and possibly invading Europe one day it was most certainly the loser, the lesser of the two superpowers throughout all of the Cold War. Reagan elevated it to a threat that was out of touch with reality in the extreme. Patriotic movies about a manufactured threat, people convening commissions to investigate the possibility of a Red invasion of the U.S. through Mexico if Nicaragua and El Salvador went socialist. So much bullshit, drowning in it. Not totally undone by Bush Sr. but transitioned into the ill named "New World Order" idea, with the "Thousand Points of Light" in the U.S., a thousand points of hope for a better American future. Fucking kill me, man.

The thing is, it seems like we've been living in a propaganda war for nearly thirty years that only let up during the Clinton presidency, when the administration threw in the towel and declared that no ideology was good ideology. We should aim to turn back the clock entirely, to turn it back to the time when there was significant social strife, to when it wasn't "Morning in America", a morning where the conflicts of the seventies and sixties were gleefully thought to be over.

We've been living in a self indulgent dream for a long time now. It's time to wake up and face reality and that means facing the reality that our economic system is based on exploitation, and that the only way of countering that is by some form of socialism. This is a nightmare that we can't wish away with a happy slogan and self delusion.

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