Erranter disputes my views in A Look at the “Failed Socialist States”:
Venezuela is certainly not better than much of Latin America. Russia is probably better off now than it was with communism. The Soviet Union killed way more people than recent alcoholism. I see no reason to romanticize the USSR whatsoever; it was infernal. The nuclear meltdown alone may have killed 1 million people.
Actually, Venezuela does look good compared to the rest of the region. More importantly, when Chavez took power, about 80% of the population was in poverty. They’d been that way since independence, and the ruling class had never done jack shit for them despite plenty of oil wealth in recent years. All of the oil wealth was siphoned off by this small elite while the majority festered in horrific shantytowns that lacked even basic services. Chavez has dramatically improved the lives of that 80% who were in poverty in 1992, and that’s why they love him and keep electing him. The economy has also seen explosive growth under Chavez, much higher than under previous regimes.
Venezuela, with the exception of a few tiny islands in the Caribbean, is the wealthiest country in Latin America! So Erranter is wrong, Venezuela is indeed better off than the rest of Latin America.
Per Capita Income Country PCI in US$ Venezuela 13,300 Chile 9,200 Uruguay 9,200 Mexico 9,100 Brazil 7,500 Argentina 7,500 Panama 7,500 Costa Rica 7,000 Suriname 6,600 Colombia 5,200
As you can see, the Venezuelan opposition is totally correct, Hugo Chavez’ socialism has destroyed Venezuela.
Is Russia better off under capitalism? It’s hard to say, because they still have a heavily socialist system, much more socialist than the US. Let’s ask the Russian people. ~1/3 say things were better in the USSR, ~1/3 say things are better now, and ~1/3 say it’s a wash. So Russians don’t agree with Erranter, and they live there.
Should we ask Russians in the US? As with other former and present Communist states, most Russians who moved to the US are reactionaries. Same with Laotians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. The ones that were happy with the system stayed there. The reactionaries all come to US, the greatest anti-socialist state on Earth. It’s even true with British immigrants to the US. Most British immigrants to the US seem to be hard Tory Thatcherites. The Laborites don’t want to come here. So we get a distortion if we ask immigrants.
The move to capitalism in Russia was planned by monster criminals in the US, Russia and Israel, a very high percentage of them Jewish. Many were neoliberal Milton Friedmanites out of US universities. The US government was deeply involved.
To sum it up, the wealth of Russia was stripped, the country was robbed blind, and much of the stolen patrimony was shifted out of the country to accounts on Wall Street, in London and in Tel Aviv. To their shame, the Russian Jews were heavily involved in what was for all intents and purposes an act of vengeful war on their Russian countrymen, who they hated.
Russia now has one of the largest concentrations of billionaires on Earth. They run private armies that control local governments and act as their death squad-thug type enforcers, Latin American style.
Putin is for all intents and purposes a fascist.
Racism has exploded, where it barely existed in the USSR. Russia now has the worst White Supremacist gangster problem on Earth. The movement is homicidal and is supported by a majority of the population, police and politicians.
The environment has been devastated as out of control timber operations have ruined vast tracts of land. Animal populations have collapsed as game enforcement laws lapsed, game wardens vanished, and organized crime gangs ransacked wildlife populations, similar to the early days of the US.
A frankly genocidal and fascist war was launched on the Chechen people. Out of a population of 1 million, 200,000, 20% of them, were killed. Not even Stalin launched monstrous hot wars like that against his own people.
Organized crime, via the oligarchs, still runs the Russian state, and the billionaires and other organized crime types run private armies that periodically shoot it out with each other and at anyone who gets too nosy. It’s a Hellhole.
Death Tolls Period Time/Yrs Number USSR 1921-1953 32 8.1 million* min. Russia 1991-2006 15 15 million *Includes the famine of 1932.
No way did Chernobyl kill 1 million people in 20 years, but even if it did, the tolls are still lower than under capitalism. After 1991, life expectancy actually collapsed, whereas it either rose every year or was flat in the USSR.
In the last 20 years or so of the USSR, the system was scarcely killing a soul.
The best you can say is that both systems sucked in their own way, but it’s a really tough case to say that things are better now, and anyway, the system is still pretty socialist, so comparisons are hard to do between the two eras.