AHC/WI: Economically prosperous USSR

Hypothetically, I would first focus on agriculture. Food shortages was what caused the most discontent. Russia is the 13th largest food exporter today. That’s pathetic. There’s no reason they can’t be the second largest exporter after the US.
It should be noted though that agriculture has been one of the success stories of post-Soviet Russia, even if the country probably still has much potential for futher growth. For many years it has been one of the fastest growing sector of the economy. Just few years ago it became the world's largest wheat exporter. I think this shows also that agriculture is one of the areas where producing growth might be easier than some other sectors, though it would mean significant changes to ownership and management structures of Soviet farms. Agrciultural exports then could help them to get hard currency and provide funds to develop other economic sectors. In the case of modern Russia, it seems that further they get away from the old Soviet model, more they are able to produce, and that old legacy seems to be one of the main hindrances or growth even now.

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If what you say was true, why do a supermajority of Russians say they think the fall of the USSR was a bad thing? (A second survey which reached the same conclusion, if this is not enough for you, there are hundreds more that reach the same conclusion out there). Why did the CPRF win the 1995 and 1999 legislative elections and nearly win the 1996 presidential elections while Yeltsin, who destroyed this system you say was so bad, leave office with a 2% approval rating? Why was the transition to the supposedly more efficient economic system so destructive it took decades for GDP per capita to recover to the level it was at before the USSR was destroyed? The Soviet Union was ran by massively incompetent and/or actively genocidal leaders for most of its existence, had the most destructive war in human history fought largely on its territory, and for its entire existence almost every other state pushed relentlessly for its destruction, and yet despite that it had far more rapid economic growth than the capitalist states that came before or after it.
this is not entirely true. dont exagerrate.

japan had a faster growth rate than soviets. while china outgrew the soviets from they adopted during dengs time.

the most common about them is they adapted capitalism and had to accept US hegemony. not challenge US at all to benefit the economy.

The soviets could grow as fast as the japanese but they have to give up a lot in a hypothetical ATL in order to do so which includes shrinking their military, replacing their otl leadership.
 
The desire to own private property, and gain the fruits of your own labor are natural human instincts.
Which is something even communists generally agree on. Why should people work when the fruits of their labour go to those few capitalists? *wry smirk*
Communism is a aberration in human history. Being compelled to work for others, without benefitting from it is called slavery.
Marx agrees with you! Ever heard about 'wage slavery'?
In the Soviet Union you needed government permission to live in a location, take a job, or travel from one region to another, so you were unable to market your labor, you had to take what they wanted you to have, and be happy with it.
Let's seperate the police state with the command economy, here. It's quite possible to do so - China has done it very well.

I'm going to focus on the job aspect as the only one relevant to this discussion. In fact, for most of the post-war USSR you could not be forced to do whatever job They said. There were only two exceptions; #1 your 'first assignment' after completing further education [ie university] and #2 if you were deliberately unemployed.

The first one was considered you 'paying back for your education'. That after this 'posting', you were then free to change jobs and/or locations. The second one was a means of stopping, basically freeloading on the welfare-net. And this wasn't actually that bad because there was no mass unemployment and They wouldn't force you onto a crummy 'Workfare' BS.
Being weak, and isolated is no reason to terrorize your population into loyalty. The mindset of such governments are terroristic to begin with, since they don't accept the concept of individual rights against State interests during the best of times.
No, their mindset was authortarian. In a country which was 85% peasant, mainly illiterate and with almost nil level of 'Western ideas' such as democracy, liberty and so on.
Taking care of your family, and seeing they have the best opportunities in life are also universal. In Communist countries the way to attain the things people want in life is joining the privileged ranks of the all powerful Party, which bestows all good things, and can just as quickly take them away.
And? Most capitalist countries operate in a similar manner, save 'the Party' is in fact 'the elite'. And this point is irrelevent to the discussion.
China no longer has State ownership of all means of production, because they understand how grossly inefficient that is, and now declare "It is glorious to be rich." But the State did not wither away, it instead determines who can be rich. In China all public officials, and the armed forces swear an oath not to the Nation, or the People, or the Constitution, but to the Communist Party. The death grip on power continues, without the high sounding rhetoric about "The dictatorship of the Preliterate." It least it's more honest.
I sorta agree. Which - if you actually read my posts - I make the point repeatedly that the USSR would need to reform to be able to deal with the demands of 'intensive' economic growth [which I'd say would be needed after c1960]. And there were methods of reforming which did not involve the re-introduction of capitalism.
So just what was this "Crisis Point" that was coming, that they had to be prepared for? We know when it happened, but it could've happened sooner, or later, once everyone realized it was all BS, and the fear was gone. The crisis was actually precipitated by a failed Communist coup, so they struck the final blow themselves.
Same can be said right now. Anglo-Saxon capitalism is very close to a 'Crisis Point' of it's own. Simply stating 'it wouldn't work in the long run Just Because' is just another form of historical determinism.
of the 9 oligarchs that stripped russia of money in the 1990s, Boris Berezovsky, Mikhail Fridman, Vladimir Gusinsky, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Vladimir Potanin, Alexander Smolensky, Pyotr Aven, Vladimir Vinogradov and Vitaly Malkin, literally, none worked in the USSR's government. This is an accusation floated around a lot that's holds little water.
#1: Pedantic point of the day; I believe Potanin was a scion of the nomenklatura and was about to join the Foreign Service when deciding not to. #2: I think the more general point was that a lot of the 'Red Directors' managed to make the transition to capitalism very well, often by basically turning control of their companies into ownership.

As with Tirpitz's point about agriculture; yes the post-War Soviet production levels were terrible. The communal farms were not only inefficient but after c1960 stopped even turning a profit to help pay for development. However, there were several major issues here;

#1: Going back to individual peasant holdings would - due to the lack of capital and know-how - cause production levels to slump.
#2: The state helping individual peasant holdings up production etc is basically, 'helping capitalism' and thus, politically impossible.
#3: The poor QoL for most rural folks led to a generational brain-drain. Most urbanites would pull strings to make sure their 'first posting' was not in such places [if they could].
#4: There was precious little incentive for the ruralites to produce more ag anyway. Sometimes, it actually cost them money to produce more.

In this case, the best non-capitalist option for development was one proposed in the 1960s; that the communal farms were broken down into units with no more than 30 full-time workers - that the size is large enough to take advantage of cooperation etc, but small enough for people to be held 'personally responsible' and to personally benefit from good work.

This, coupled with my earlier point of prices being utterly out of whack; if the farm can see a direct benefit of increasing production / efficiency [the latter being the more important one] and are capable of doing so, they will. Part of the issue [discovered later] was that simply 'giving more money' wasn't enough; said money needed to be able to be spent on stuff. There was often complaints that as late as the 1970s rural shops were almost empty. There's a solution for this; mail order. Allow every communal farm an account with one [with a cash order limit] thus ensuring that some of the 'goodies' seen in urban shops do get into the 'backwoods'.
 
this is not entirely true. dont exagerrate.

japan had a faster growth rate than soviets. while china outgrew the soviets from they adopted during dengs time.

the most common about them is they adapted capitalism and had to accept US hegemony. not challenge US at all to benefit the economy.

The soviets could grow as fast as the japanese but they have to give up a lot in a hypothetical ATL in order to do so which includes shrinking their military, replacing their otl leadership.
All of the conciliatory measures that Stalin made to the West changed literally nothing. Stalin abandoned all pretense of proletarian internationalism. He ordered communist militants to stand down in all the areas outside of the areas outside of the sphere of influence that had been negotiated with the Allies. He ended military/economic support, even in Greece and China, factors which directly led to Tito's split. He dissolved the Comintern, and ordered the Western Communist Parties into collaboration and once again contort themselves into the impossible position of supporting the British and French colonial empires and entering parliament as just an alternate flavor of social democrat.

None of it appeased or stopped the inter-imperialist conflict that developed. How could there be demilitarized coexistence when the United States was making the nuclear Sword of Damocles its primary instrument of enforcing the post-war order?

We still got the Cold War anyway. The choice was militarization or abjection, why would you be surprised that they'd choose the former? Britain and the US acted in bad faith in the immediate post-war era just as frequently as Stalin. Probably more so. And the US demonstrated no desire to ever share power with anyone. It made the destruction of the British Empire inevitable at Bretton-Woods, and it made the matter fait accompli during Suez.

However desirable trimming the defense budget would be, once it became the pillar of the party-state, it wasn't just going to go anywhere. The Soviet Union spent between 15 and 20 percent of its GDP on the military through much of the Cold War. That kind of institution isn't going to go away, far too many people owe their livelihoods, careers and sense of purpose to the Soviet Army. The military-industrial complex in the US is a huge political question everyone knows about, but no one can really do anything about and we only funnel 3-4 percent of GDP to it.

Honestly, a better comparison would be the health care industry, which at present accounts for like 17 percent of GDP. Everyone knows the system is broken, popular opinion is broadly in favor of deep, systemic reform even if they don't agree on the exact plan, but nothing has been done but the smallest of reforms that still ultimately benefit all the stakeholders in the health care industry.
 
. I think this shows also that agriculture is one of the areas where producing growth might be easier than some other sectors, though it would mean significant changes to ownership and management structures of Soviet farms
like destroying the Aral Sea to grow cotton, but on a wider scale?
 
In the Soviet Union you needed government permission to live in a location, take a job, or travel from one region to another, so you were unable to market your labor, you had to take what they wanted you to have, and be happy with it. Being weak, and isolated is no reason to terrorize your population into loyalty.
And it's for that reason that the Soviet Union followed in the same footsteps of the Russian Empire. Such migration controls were not new to Russia, as they had been deployed since the time of Ivan the Terrible and the oprichniki, if not earlier under Mongol rule. It's also for that reason that some scholars, both socialist and non-socialist, speculate that all the Soviet Union basically was, at its core, happened to be a reincarnation of Tsarist Russia with a new coat of paint. It's not for nothing that Stalin tried to compare himself with Peter the Great and Ivan the Terrible.

Therefore, to match the AHC requires more than just a 1945 POD - by that point, everything was baked into the system to the point where economic prosperity would be very difficult because people were conditioned to focus on survival, even if it meant lying and cheating your way through to get results (which was both why various economic reforms failed, and how people got around the system to make things work). It would be easier to focus on the NEP period, a full couple of decades or so before the OP's stated POD, as the basis for an economically prosperous USSR, when things were not as set in stone. Even if the internal passport survived intact from Tsarist times, it could be used for an altogether different purpose and be much less restrictive.
 
like destroying the Aral Sea to grow cotton, but on a wider scale?
I think he had more sane ideas than that. Maybe better farm equipment? One problem they had during the Soviet era is that their farm equipment was crap, along with virtually everything else they made.
 
...It would be easier to focus on the NEP period, a full couple of decades or so before the OP's stated POD, as the basis for an economically prosperous USSR, when things were not as set in stone. Even if the internal passport survived intact from Tsarist times, it could be used for an altogether different purpose and be much less restrictive.
No it wouldn't.

For it opens a new, harder question titled 'win WW2'.

Having Stalin die just after the end of WW2, as well as the huge dislocation of 'normality' during it meant that his successors would have more leeway of choosing a somewhat different 'new normal'. Yes, they were all Stalinists but unlike Old Whiskers [in general] were somewhat less paranoid and more in touch with reality on the ground.
 
No it wouldn't.

For it opens a new, harder question titled 'win WW2'.

Having Stalin die just after the end of WW2, as well as the huge dislocation of 'normality' during it meant that his successors would have more leeway of choosing a somewhat different 'new normal'. Yes, they were all Stalinists but unlike Old Whiskers [in general] were somewhat less paranoid and more in touch with reality on the ground.
There is no reason an NEP USSR can't win WW2. No collectivization and probably less deadly purges. Hell, Hitler might well be butterflied away.
 
There is no reason an NEP USSR can't win WW2. No collectivization and probably less deadly purges. Hell, Hitler might well be butterflied away.
Industrial warfare is fought with industrial goods. Coal and iron ore to make steel. Steel to make guns, tanks and trucks. Aluminum to make aircraft, and engines. Copper for electrical equipment. Oil and chemical plants to produce explosives. These things things are made possible, in the USSR and everywhere else in history, by consolidating and rationalizing agricultural production, freeing up labor for industry.

I am having difficulty understanding how you think the USSR could have fought any kind of war with Germany (and the roots of Drang nach Osten are fare deeper than Hitler's rise to power) without the Five Year Plans. Production of key industrial goods like steel, cement, coal, etc., increased by 3 to 4x from the beginning of the First Five Year Plan to end of the Second Five Year plan (1928 to 1937).

Without it, the USSR would not have been in the same weight class as Germany. And even with it, Germany still had considerably higher industrial projection of every key industrial good except for oil, which is a matter of geography.
 
There is a reason why high speed rail needs massive subsidies pretty much everywhere in the world except Japan. Trains aren't efficient at moving people.
Well, except in the USSR itself, because the state of the road network was that bad, even in the European USSR and despite the ubiquity of marshrutky. Interestingly, in the 1980s the Riga Locomotive Works was tasked to come up with a Moscow-Leningrad HSR trainset - and it did. Now, whether it could be done earlier than OTL or not would be an open question. It could be a success, or follow the same fate of the Soviet take on the Concorde. But to make it more possible to make it possible, and with better quality, would be to change the whole nature of the USSR from the get-go.
 
Industrial warfare is fought with industrial goods. Coal and iron ore to make steel. Steel to make guns, tanks and trucks. Aluminum to make aircraft, and engines. Copper for electrical equipment. Oil and chemical plants to produce explosives. These things things are made possible, in the USSR and everywhere else in history, by consolidating and rationalizing agricultural production, freeing up labor for industry.

I am having difficulty understanding how you think the USSR could have fought any kind of war with Germany (and the roots of Drang nach Osten are fare deeper than Hitler's rise to power) without the Five Year Plans. Production of key industrial goods like steel, cement, coal, etc., increased by 3 to 4x from the beginning of the First Five Year Plan to end of the Second Five Year plan (1928 to 1937).

Without it, the USSR would not have been in the same weight class as Germany. And even with it, Germany still had considerably higher industrial projection of every key industrial good except for oil, which is a matter of geography.
Why wouldn't the USSR develop heavy industry under the NEP? The USSR needed steel so there would be no reason not to build steel mills. Either by the government or by private individuals, most likely the former as that would be part of the "commanding heights".
 
Why wouldn't the USSR develop heavy industry under the NEP? The USSR needed steel so there would be no reason not to build steel mills. Either by the government or by private individuals, most likely the former as that would be part of the "commanding heights".
They were trying that already. You can't conjure steel mills out of thin air. The capital goods and technical know how had to be acquired somehow, and the only way to do that was hard currency. They got that hard currency through exports of raw materials, especially agricultural products but also timber, oil, and ores. They couldn't export enough without mechanizing agriculture, and they couldn't mechanize agriculture without rationalizing production from the subsistence production. In the Soviet Union this was called collectivization, and in the west this happened through private consolidation.
 
They were trying that already. You can't conjure steel mills out of thin air. The capital goods and technical know how had to be acquired somehow, and the only way to do that was hard currency. They got that hard currency through exports of raw materials, especially agricultural products but also timber, oil, and ores. They couldn't export enough without mechanizing agriculture, and they couldn't mechanize agriculture without rationalizing production from the subsistence production. In the Soviet Union this was called collectivization, and in the west this happened through private consolidation.
The flipping Russian Empire produced steel. It was the 4th largest producer in the world in 1914 behind the US, Germany and the UK. The idea that Russia was totally unindustrialized before the revolution needs to die.
 
The flipping Russian Empire produced steel. It was the 4th largest producer in the world in 1914 behind the US, Germany and the UK. The idea that Russia was totally unindustrialized before the revolution needs to die.
That's not what I said. The USSR was devastated by the First World War and the Civil War. They had over a decade of lost growth, with most industrial production only reaching pre-WW1 levels in like 1926. They had no stable trade relations, and had to forge them with powers that were all much more developed and didn't need much of what the USSR produced. They had to pay for the expertise and capital tooling from American firms with cash, and that cash had to come from exports. They were able to generate the hard currency for the industrialization program by increasing exports.

Again, we're talking about a 3 to 4 times increase in industrial production in ten years. That's unheard of outside of this one specific instance, and you really think they could have achieved even a shadow of that without taking extraordinary measures?
 
That's not what I said. The USSR was devastated by the First World War and the Civil War. They had over a decade of lost growth, with most industrial production only reaching pre-WW1 levels in like 1926. They had no stable trade relations, and had to forge them with powers that were all much more developed and didn't need much of what the USSR produced. They had to pay for the expertise and capital tooling from American firms with cash, and that cash had to come from exports. They were able to generate the hard currency for the industrialization program by increasing exports.

Again, we're talking about a 3 to 4 times increase in industrial production in ten years. That's unheard of outside of this one specific instance, and you really think they could have achieved even a shadow of that without taking extraordinary measures?

It isn't unheard of. The US had faster growth in its history than the Stalinist Period , so did Japan, the same with Post-Mao China and India is likely to have a similar takeoff.
 
No it wouldn't.

For it opens a new, harder question titled 'win WW2'.

Having Stalin die just after the end of WW2, as well as the huge dislocation of 'normality' during it meant that his successors would have more leeway of choosing a somewhat different 'new normal'. Yes, they were all Stalinists but unlike Old Whiskers [in general] were somewhat less paranoid and more in touch with reality on the ground.
See, here's how I would think of it. Forget the Second World War and all that - no one in 1920s Russia/Ukraine/Belarus/Armenia/etc. had that much foresight to know that OTL, as it played out, was going to happen. At the time of the Soviet Union's founding (and even with its antecedent states, not just the RSFSR), there really wasn't that much of a blueprint, even from Marx's and Engels' writings, about what socialism was like, let alone how to achieve that type of a state and work towards Communism. All the Bolsheviks were basically doing were pragmatically winging it as they were going along, sometimes taking the writings literally, and when there was a gap they tried to justify reintroducing methods from Tsarist times by making up some ideological language to justify it. Not only was there not really some conception of what a practical socialism would look like, but outside of left-wing circles talking about "capitalism" and all that - at least until the 1930s, at the absolute earliest - would provoke a lot of confusion among people.

That is why, to me, the NEP period, even prolonging it, seems fascinating. While the Soviet state came into existence as such, because much of it pre-Stalin was not set in stone, there's many ways the USSR could have gone - and, because of the Comintern and all that, would be seen as how "socialism/Communism" would become. Much of what ultimately happened was not pre-ordained. Furthermore, it would be hard for people outside the Soviet Union to see it as going back to capitalism and all that because the concept didn't reach popular consciousness as such during the 1920s. Instead of calling it capitalism, we can call it proto-market socialism that could go into all sorts of directions - even harkening to what IOTL would later be called Titoism, and/or combining land reform with moshavim-like settlements so that people would have a choice. If you believe in the controversial Asiatic mode of production theory, and if you believe (as some later Soviet/Russian scholars, like Prof. Andrei Grinëv of the Saint Petersburg Polytechnic University named after Peter the Great, that the Soviet Union was basically the Asiatic mode of production, as existed ever since the days of the Tsars, wrapped in Marxist clothing), there's ways of bending the AMP model around so that it could function like the East Asian states - with the sole model at this time being Meiji Japan - or pre-1914 Germany in terms of its economic development.

What, to me, was the fatal flaw here is that at the time of the Revolution, the Bolsheviks repudiated all of Imperial Russia's debt. That one mistake meant it would be impossible for the USSR, over the long term, to find good sources for financing its industrialization program and all that. That is what even led it to turn away from the Marshall Plan, because of the fear the old creditors would be knocking on the Kremlin's door seeking redress for not servicing the pre-1917 debt. Now, if that repudiation was better recognized by the outside world (much like how this was already starting to be dealt with in Latin America, as what could be called an early version of the odious debt theory), then the Soviet Union would have started off even in its pathetic state on a much better footing. It would still primarily rely on domestic investment, but it wouldn't need to replicate virtually everything from Tsarist times even if it did use a limited version of planning. That path which Stalin chose was not preordained, nor was it preordained to bring the USSR back towards almost all of the Russian Empire in its entirety.
 
Which was the fundamental flaw for a centralized command economy - there was little incentive to introduce new things. It ran basically on the 'rachet principle'; aka more of the same, utilising current designs and so on. This was in fact a flaw that everyone knew about, but the political 'cost' of sorting it out was simply too high.
That fundamentally goes back to the allocation problem I mentioned in my post on page 2. There were a number of proposals issued, but I only know the specifics of two.

The first, which I mentioned briefly in my post, is Leonid Kantorovich's proposal to use Linear Programming, essentially a method of solving optimization problems which he believed was perfectly suited to solving the allocation problem. Kantorovich tried to initially write a letter proposing it's implementation to Stalin in the late-30s, but the letter never reached Stalin. Instead, Kantorovich spent the Stalinist-era tucked in a warehouse university post beneath the notice of the Soviet leadership. Which may have been just as well, because getting noticed by Stalin tended to have a alarmingly high chance of getting shot or gulaged attached to it.

When Khruschev took over and consolidated power, Kantorovich was allowed to try out some of his ideas. Unfortuntely, they were only ever adopted piecemeal and in a limited fashion. Yet, on the scale they were tried, Kantorovich's schemes seemed to have worked. The few industries that were run on Kantorovichian principles as a test case seemed to do pretty well and that these trials coincide with the height of Soviet industrial and economic growth in the late-50 and early-60s may not be a coincidence. But whether they could have been scaled up to the whole economy remains an unknown.

But even tried on such limited level, there was a political backlash. Opponents accused the linear programmers of being capitalists-in-disguise. When Khruschev was ousted, he bulldozed the project. Nobody was willing to mobilize the political capitol to adequately defend Kantorovich, nevermind push for wider implementation.

The other is one most people I think are familiar with, since I've seen it talked about more on this site: Victor Glushkov's proposal to set up a networked computer system to calculate optimal allocation for everyone. There were two problems with this. First, he failed even worse then Kantorovich in getting his proposals any political traction. Second, and probably even more importantly for a "what if" scenario, the technology wasn't there: the power of computers of the era meant it would take a hundred million years to calculate with an adequate degree of accuracy, which is obviously useless when you are trying to plan out development for the next five-years. I remember someone observing that given the increases in computing power since the 1960s, we probably could do the originally required calculations today within a reasonable timeframe (three days, assuming a network of 365 modern computers)... but then economies have also become immensely more complicated since the 1960s, so who knows if that's enough.
 
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Why would economic liberalization help out the economy, when OTL it completely destroyed it? Yeltsin was so bad that he left power with a 2% approval rating.
If by liberalization you mean things like privatization by decree or the asset firesales, I am not sure we are talking about the same thing.
 
Industrial warfare is fought with industrial goods. Coal and iron ore to make steel. Steel to make guns, tanks and trucks. Aluminum to make aircraft, and engines. Copper for electrical equipment. Oil and chemical plants to produce explosives. These things things are made possible, in the USSR and everywhere else in history, by consolidating and rationalizing agricultural production, freeing up labor for industry.

I am having difficulty understanding how you think the USSR could have fought any kind of war with Germany (and the roots of Drang nach Osten are fare deeper than Hitler's rise to power) without the Five Year Plans. Production of key industrial goods like steel, cement, coal, etc., increased by 3 to 4x from the beginning of the First Five Year Plan to end of the Second Five Year plan (1928 to 1937).

Without it, the USSR would not have been in the same weight class as Germany. And even with it, Germany still had considerably higher industrial projection of every key industrial good except for oil, which is a matter of geography.
But would another Soviet leader actually team up with Hitler to split Poland, and then supply Greater Germany with raw materials right up to the point the Panzers rolled over the Molotov Line?

Nah, that's exclusive to Stalin
 
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