[extropy-chat] Soviet Economy (was War Is Easy To Explain - Peace is Not)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Fri Mar 16 06:18:01 UTC 2007

Brent writes

> Case in point is the Cold War, which was  not won by guns, but rather
> by forcing/tricking the Soviets into breaking their economy.

Today many argue that the Soviet economy would have failed anyway,
just that the "trickery" to which you refer made it happen sooner rather
than later.

Mancur Olson, in his fine book "Power and Prosperity" explains that
Soviet Communism "sort of" worked under Stalin. By his severe
methods he indeed was able to extract incredible amounts of work
out of the people.  (The basic idea went along these lines:  if you
worked just your solid shift, you'd end up with barely enough to 
live on. Work an hour or two more, and your pay per hour rises
accordingly.  Work to the point of being a Stanhanovite, and you
make quite a decent living.)

But Stalin's inheritors lacked the ruthlessness to keep it going.
Soon managers got to know each other and become friends,
and start supporting each others stories of increased production.
Stalin eliminated this kind of familiarity with purges of entire
mangement classes.


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