Did the USSR really benefit from its transition into Capitalism? A study of economies in transition taking Russia as a case
For well over half a century the Soviet Union was one of the most powerful empires in history (1985-1991). At its peak it included 15 national republics so wide they covered 13 time zones. However the communist party determined the USSR’s political, economic and military destiny for several decades. The reform of the system aimed to enhance the whole economic structure, strengthen it and make the Soviet Union profitable and popular. Nevertheless the party opposition led to its demise in the nineties. The Soviet Union was created in October 1917 by a small but devout band of revolutionaries whose beliefs and goals were shaped by Karl Marx. Marx considered the industrial revolution to be an era of increasing social and economic injustice, which made him a strong disapprover of capitalist means, he advocated the revolution by turning the industrial working class against the capitalist class, he believed that the clash between the 2 social classes was imminent and unavoidable and the only solution was the communist order. These rebels supported Marx ideology since it satisfied them and was the solution to their problems; they were suffering from the poor conditions of the autocratic tsarist system and were seeking liberation through this newly born philosophy. Shortly after the rebellion the Bolshevik party was formed, which quickly gained the acceptance of the people due to the 10:1 ratio of peasants to industrial workers, as the first Russian communist movement lead by Lenin, the party managed to over throw the czar in 1917 and Lenin became the new leader of Russia which was now a communist empire. The soviet communist regime was completely dominated by the party (mainly since the communist regime was the product of the party) then it infiltrated the army and created social organizations to influence many aspects of daily life. Soon after all opposition was removed and contradictory economic changes were applied. Lenin’s New Economic Policy (NEP) encouraged small scale capitalism in both manufacturing and agriculture. Although clear economic progress was made in Russia by the (NEP), the program was deserted by Stalin after Lenin’s death in 1942. Stalin’s socialistic economic thinking was based on heavy industrialization and collectivization. This was effective and demonstrated good results in iron, steel, coal, and oil production, in addition to an increase in electricity supply in the nation. Nonetheless Stalin’s progress in economic production came at a cost of human lives, where millions of soviet citizens died in Stalin’s concentration camps. Stalin also committed the mistake of emphasizing large scale production and production of military items and other nuclear weapons that resulted in a great opportunity cost that drained the economy and left it in the state of desperation and recession, where the economy could not supply enough housing, transportation, food, and health care. After Stalin’s rule Khrushchev’s main goal was to end Russia’s terrorizing dictatorial streak and to work on the rehabilitation of Russia’s broken workers. Although many hoped that a change in leader would result in a change of economic and political priorities, the cold war caused a budget deficit and the citizens of Soviet Union remained oppressed by the autocratic rule. With time the Soviet Union began to weaken due to the command economy’s several flaws, consequently Gorbachev and his supporters believed that immediate reforms of the countries economy and political landscape were necessary to prevent the collapse of the USSR. Gorbachev believed that the collapse of communist Russia was due to corrupt bureaucracies, inefficient manufacturing, and agricultural infrastructures as well as the huge military budget. During his rule he worked on changing Russia’s monopoly and dogmatic rule....
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