Blue Skies in Camelot (Continued): An Alternate 80s and Beyond

Hmmmm, if the plan is for Gorbachev to not democratise too soon, I guess his most urgent priority is instead the Renewal program, which I guess will be entirely focused on the Soviet economy and restructuring the internal government of the Soviet Union (namely clean out the ranks of the Politburo just like @aksolute mentioned). And that he does not go through with Glasnost alongside it, but maybe save it for a later date, after Gorby realises that he should focus on only one thing at a time.
As for the withdrawal from Afghanistan, maybe the Soviets come down to the negotiating table to try and sign a treaty to end the war, and withdraw Soviet troops.
 
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The main reason that Gorby's reforms failed were he fundamentally didn't understand how the Soviet finance system worked. The Soviet economy was incredibly complicated and when he tried to push his reforms through it just failed. Now the main source I'm drawing from for this point is Collapse the Fall of the Soviet Union by Vladislav M. Zubok, and any quotes I use will be from that unless I say otherwise.

The initial reform in 1987 took the form of the Law on State Enterprises Zubok argues that "The Law undermined the old stabilizing and controlling mechanisms of the Soviet economy, above all the role of the Party. For many decades the Party had exercised a controlling role in every major economic unit in the USSR. The enterprise leaders were members of the Party and its nomenklatura. From now on, the head of an enterprise was to be elected by “a collective” of workers and employees. He could no longer be fired from above. At the same time the reform did not generate a true liberalization and revival of the economy. An economist from Stanford University, Mikhail Bernstam, a Soviet émigré, explained later that the Law was “de-centralization, and the erroneous one.” The problem wasn't that the reforms weren't radical enough it was that they were running in the wrong direction. In my personal opinion as someone who has read into the Soviet Union if you want to unfuck it post-Brezhnev Andropov represented perhaps the best bet. Yet we haven't reached the big problem. I'm going to just quote directly from the book here because it puts it so well.


Now Gorby's reforms meant that companies were able to transfer beznal into nal. Which was a key factor in the economic collapse of the late 80's. Fundamentally any more radical reform is just going to make things go worse than IOTL, and OTL was hardly rosy. I've seen some claims of Russian excess morality post-USSR reaching 7 million during the 90's. Any hopes of a major ecenomic reform saving the USSR by going towards market reforms immeditaly will fail.
On an aside Soviet foregin policy for most of the cold war was built off the basic princple of avoiding the mass-slaughter of the Second World War, which is where you get stuff like the Stalin note from. National trauma in the USSR from the war was massive 25% of the population of Belarus died, at the end of the day the Soviets were highly unlikely to start a major European war.
Thank you for this perspective and context. I suppose then that there really is no "reforming" your way out of the Soviet economic mess. You either need to completely shift to a market-based model (and do away with state control of the economy as a whole) or go back to the hard command structure of previous eras.

I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise? I know IOTL the NEP was successful at raising production before Stalin scrapped it after taking power.
 
I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise?
That could work.
 
I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise? I know IOTL the NEP was successful at raising production before Stalin scrapped it after taking power.
It would have to be done very carefully.

Essentially you'd need Gorby to take a, for lack of a better way of putting it, Orthodox approach than OTL while also courting the few lower ranked people who understood how the Soviet economy actually worked and getting them to help work towards a larger policy.

The potential pitfall, however, is that he might just wind up doing as Kosygin OTL did, that is getting some good results until the main millstones around the soviet economy, corruption and the military, wind up pushing back and destroying him.

But if Romanov acts in a, frankly pragmatic way, before Gorby gets in power, then our favourite Pizza salesman might have an easier time of it as I wouldn't be shocked if after the dismal performance against Sweden that a serious evaluation of military readiness is carried out and a fair amount of rot and graft is identified and eliminated with extreme prejudice.
 
Thank you for this perspective and context. I suppose then that there really is no "reforming" your way out of the Soviet economic mess. You either need to completely shift to a market-based model (and do away with state control of the economy as a whole) or go back to the hard command structure of previous eras.

I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise? I know IOTL the NEP was successful at raising production before Stalin scrapped it after taking power.
A modified form of the New Economic Policy (NEP) could work, but if i remember correctly, there's also some drawbacks. I once read a book about the Soviet Union in the 30s (forgot the title; it was years ago) that said that the NEP has the potential to create significant social and economic inequalities, something that was evident during Lenin's NEP era, where "NEPmen" prospered disproportionately. This led to social tensions and resentment among the poorer populace, who did not benefit equally.

Another alternative, rather than looking to Lenin's NEP, is instead studying and perhaps copying one of the USSR's satellite states, Hungary. Goulash Communism, or the Hungarian model, which made that country the “happiest barrack” in the Warsaw Pact. The Hungarian model's focus on consumer goods production and some level of economic decentralization might provide the Soviet Union with a path to address its systemic economic stagnancy. Having said that, I'm not exactly sure that Goulash Communism could be adapted to the vastly larger and more complex Soviet economy. The Hungarian model depended on a relatively small economic base and significant trade with Western countries, which might not have been feasible for the USSR given its geopolitical stance and the scale of its economic challenges.
 
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A modified form of the New Economic Policy (NEP) could work, but if remember correctly, there's also some drawbacks. I once read a book about the Soviet Union in the 30s (forgot the title; it was years ago) that said that the NEP has the potential to create significant social and economic inequalities, something that was evident during Lenin's NEP era, where "NEPmen" prospered disproportionately. This led to social tensions and resentment among the poorer populace, who did not benefit equally.

Another alternative, rather than looking to Lenin's NEP, is instead studying and perhaps copying one of the USSR's satellite states, Hungary. Goulash Communism, or the Hungarian model, which made that country the “happiest barrack” in the Warsaw Pact. The Hungarian model's focus on consumer goods production and some level of economic decentralization might provide the Soviet Union with a path to address its systemic economic stagnancy. Having said that, I'm not exactly sure that Goulash Communism could be adapted to the vastly larger and more complex Soviet economy. The Hungarian model depended on a relatively small economic base and significant trade with Western countries, which might not have been feasible for the USSR given its geopolitical stance and the scale of its economic challenges.
Goulash Communism could serve as a base idea for a larger project, but it shouldn't be anything more than a spirit to strive towards as opposed to a straight model to copy.

Solid point on the NEPmen, have seen similar discussions before. The advantage Gorby could have of trying to make "New Goulash" work would be if he worked on including solutions towards preventing the inequalities from the NEP becoming an extreme through the revolutionary ideas of the late 20th century of not just shooting anyone who is successful.

Like, a plan that's general NEP focused when it comes to agriculture, is also helpful towards light and high-tech industry in so far as it is focused on consumer and high-tech goods. Could be still rather orthodox towards heavier and strategic industries, but with efforts to try and transition some of the industries that are currently exclusively for military production towards a consumer focus. Of course the highest priority to such a program though needs to be towards not rocking the boat so much it decides to drown the captain in the process.

There is also the question of Chernobyl. Not just the actual cost of the disaster itself (which was bad) but the Soviet handling of it cost Gorby a lot of goodwill in Europe and domestically. If Chernobyl doesn't go up, there's a lot of economic and diplomatic capital that Gorby will have to play with that could help any project he undertakes.
 
Thank you for this perspective and context. I suppose then that there really is no "reforming" your way out of the Soviet economic mess. You either need to completely shift to a market-based model (and do away with state control of the economy as a whole) or go back to the hard command structure of previous eras.

I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise? I know IOTL the NEP was successful at raising production before Stalin scrapped it after taking power.
Speaking of the New Economic Policy, might I recommend this timeline for research? It's a Kosygin-wank with the POD being Brezhnev overdosing on sleeping pills after the Prague Spring being mishandled.

Though keep in mind that Glasnost, or that universe's equivalent of it, only came 20 years after the POD.
 
Hello,

In regards to the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, if the US ends up in operations there then there is a person of note...
Now, I am not sure if action could be taken on this matter, as it may require OTL 20/20 hindsight
The Mujahideen got their on-ground support from General Zia's Pakistan, where society was getting radicalized rapidly because of state policy. The coup in which he came to power has been butterflied (for the moment), and without him, the Mujahideen (later Taliban) will not be a thing.
 
Thank you for this perspective and context. I suppose then that there really is no "reforming" your way out of the Soviet economic mess. You either need to completely shift to a market-based model (and do away with state control of the economy as a whole) or go back to the hard command structure of previous eras.

I wonder if Gorbachev could instead take inspiration from Lenin's New Economic Policy (his research into which was his impetus for seeking reform in the first place), have the state control the "commanding heights" of the economy, but devolve light industry and agriculture to private enterprise? I know IOTL the NEP was successful at raising production before Stalin scrapped it after taking power.
The NEP was what the OTL reforms tried to ape, and considering that by the end of the NEP the agreement was universal that it should be scrapped considering both the scissors crisis and the worry that it'd led to a capitalist backsliding it already had and the USSR would never recover but anyway. Fundamentally any market based reforms are going to have firms shift towards making expensive export focused products rather than cheap consumer goods for internal consumption, and as Zubok pointed out there was no longer any way to fire a boss from above you got a full shift towards a proto-market based system.

The best way for a reform post Stalin to give anything like 'market socialism' (which in of itself is a counter intuitive term part of socialism requires the abolishing of commodity production and the death of the value form) would be if you had Mikoyan take over at some point.
 
The NEP was what the OTL reforms tried to ape, and considering that by the end of the NEP the agreement was universal that it should be scrapped considering both the scissors crisis and the worry that it'd led to a capitalist backsliding it already had and the USSR would never recover but anyway. Fundamentally any market based reforms are going to have firms shift towards making expensive export focused products rather than cheap consumer goods for internal consumption, and as Zubok pointed out there was no longer any way to fire a boss from above you got a full shift towards a proto-market based system.

The best way for a reform post Stalin to give anything like 'market socialism' (which in of itself is a counter intuitive term part of socialism requires the abolishing of commodity production and the death of the value form) would be if you had Mikoyan take over at some point.
So, is the USSR as a communist state salvageable in 1982, even if they get a Deng Xiaoping-like figure to lead it? Soviet society, both here and in OTL had entered a rut it didn't recover from, general apathy towards the state, low production, and even lower birth rates, anything with a POD post the '60s would have only ended in the New Union in my opinion.
 
With all the opinions on what can be done on here. Let me ask this question What would you all say the odds are of Gorbachev succeeding in his reforms and avoding an OTL type collapse?
 
With all the opinions on what can be done on here. Let me ask this question What would you all say the odds are of Gorbachev succeeding in his reforms and avoding an OTL type collapse?
IMO gorby would half succeed, with a Union State-esqe situation with countries like Ukraine, Baltics, Caucasus nations leaving but the overall USSR staying intact
 
IMO gorby would half succeed, with a Union State-esqe situation with countries like Ukraine, Baltics, Caucasus nations leaving but the overall USSR staying intact
So broadly the viable bits get out while the OTL petro or cotton stans are kept (and propped up) by Moscow? Could see that, although while the Baltic's are gone whatever more of the states might have stayed if there had been something viable in the offering and they weren't worried about the consequences of another coup attempt.
 
With all the opinions on what can be done on here. Let me ask this question What would you all say the odds are of Gorbachev succeeding in his reforms and avoding an OTL type collapse?
I say that the OTL hardliner coup doesn't happen because he's more savvy with the KGB than in OTL. Remove that, and the otl style collapse is butterflied.

He holds a referendum for each republic to choose whether to stay or leave.

The Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia leave. The rest stay, and the USSR transforms into a resource-export economy, for the short term when native capitalistic industry finds its feet.

I think there would be a 'Parade of Republics' in the 90s where places like Chechnya, Dagestan, Yakutia and Buryatia all become full fledged SSRs.

Democracy, with multiple parties can only come in the 2000s after one byzantine system is replaced with another and people are satisfied with things.
 
I say that the OTL hardliner coup doesn't happen because he's more savvy with the KGB than in OTL. Remove that, and the otl style collapse is butterflied.

He holds a referendum for each republic to choose whether to stay or leave.

The Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia leave. The rest stay, and the USSR transforms into a resource-export economy, for the short term when native capitalistic industry finds its feet.

I think there would be a 'Parade of Republics' in the 90s where places like Chechnya, Dagestan, Yakutia and Buryatia all become full fledged SSRs.

Democracy, with multiple parties can only come in the 2000s after one byzantine system is replaced with another and people are satisfied with things.
I like this prediction. Especially the parts where he holds a referendum to allow countries to choose their own presidency. Do you think he would abolish the office of Secretary-General and make it so that the reformed Soviet Union for Russia and the countries that stay can instead elect a President with a term limit?
 
I say that the OTL hardliner coup doesn't happen because he's more savvy with the KGB than in OTL. Remove that, and the otl style collapse is butterflied.

He holds a referendum for each republic to choose whether to stay or leave.

The Baltic States, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia leave. The rest stay, and the USSR transforms into a resource-export economy, for the short term when native capitalistic industry finds its feet.

I think there would be a 'Parade of Republics' in the 90s where places like Chechnya, Dagestan, Yakutia and Buryatia all become full fledged SSRs.

Democracy, with multiple parties can only come in the 2000s after one byzantine system is replaced with another and people are satisfied with things.

Excellent suggestion for what might occur.
 
With all the opinions on what can be done on here. Let me ask this question What would you all say the odds are of Gorbachev succeeding in his reforms and avoding an OTL type collapse?
My opinion is that I'm very skeptical of the USSR's success in reforming itself. While a series of political, economic, and diplomatic reforms meant to transition the economy toward a market structure, increase personal freedoms, reduce state censorship, and restart relations with the United States and the Western Bloc is nice and all, it is incredibly hard to pull off. Not only does the USSR's structure rife with endemic inefficiencies and corruption despite all the effort to eradicate them, but also inplementing these policies undermines the ideological foundation of the Soviet system (effectively backsliding to the heretical capitalist system and the possible return of Bourgeois democracy), leading to increased expectations and demands for more profound political and economic freedoms, which could challenge the central authority of the CPSU and destabilize the regime.

A sort of war of attrition would ensue between an alliance between Communist idelogues and military hardliners (who saw such reforms would amount to the Soviet Union admitting defeat to the United States in the Cold War, thereby leading to the inevitable collapse of the Union itself) with the cozily corrupt managerial class on one side and the reformers led by First Secretary Gorby on the other. If Gorby somehow, against all odds, succeeded, then the USSR would survive, albeit not only with parts of its constituent states seceding but also the nation (Russia plus other parts that do not secede) as a whole has become an unstable house of cards. If he failed, then the old proverb “Russia must stay frozen to survive” would likely be proven as the whole economic system unraveled itself. Eventually, things would reach the “police shooting people rioting over bread” stage, and the Soviet regime, at long last, essentially collapsed.
 
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I had an idea for a fictional series in this world, but I was hoping that some others might be able to help flesh it out into something more concrete.

1.) Epic/Gritty Epic Fantasy: The writer is French citizen of Algerian and French heritage, and the series itself is modelled on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter_of_France
More specifically, the World itself is inspired from that time (Charlemagne's conquests would be a major source of inspiration, and the powers would be modelled on Europe during Charlemagne's time. For instance, there are expies of the Carolingians, the Byzantines, the Caliphates are combined into a single power, the First Bulgarian Empire, even the Vikings.) There's references to the Ravennan Empire in the past, with the ultimate antagonist being a fallen angel trying to manipulate both the Caliphate Expy and Carolingan France expy into a destructive war.

In many ways it's similar to Game of Thrones, and ultimately becomes popular not just in France, but in America and the UK. Funnily enough, there are people on both the left and right who dislike it (The right hates the message of racial and religious tolerance, while the left thinks that Charlemagne's atrocities were somewhat whitewashed.)
 
I had an idea for a fictional series in this world, but I was hoping that some others might be able to help flesh it out into something more concrete.

1.) Epic/Gritty Epic Fantasy: The writer is French citizen of Algerian and French heritage, and the series itself is modelled on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matter_of_France
More specifically, the World itself is inspired from that time (Charlemagne's conquests would be a major source of inspiration, and the powers would be modelled on Europe during Charlemagne's time. For instance, there are expies of the Carolingians, the Byzantines, the Caliphates are combined into a single power, the First Bulgarian Empire, even the Vikings.) There's references to the Ravennan Empire in the past, with the ultimate antagonist being a fallen angel trying to manipulate both the Caliphate Expy and Carolingan France expy into a destructive war.

In many ways it's similar to Game of Thrones, and ultimately becomes popular not just in France, but in America and the UK. Funnily enough, there are people on both the left and right who dislike it (The right hates the message of racial and religious tolerance, while the left thinks that Charlemagne's atrocities were somewhat whitewashed.)
Ohh I like this idea. I have somewhat of an idea for the plot. The first novel could deal with the rising tensions between Carolingan France Expy and the Caliphate Expy. In fact the start of the novel could start with the death of a diplomat who turns out to be murdered and an agent of the Carolingan France Expy is sent to investigate and all the while tensions continue to build. Another character that we would follow is the ambassador to the caliphate expy who is trying his best to avoid war. Another character to follow is the leader of the caliphate himself who sees himself as a deity chosen man to unite the world under his rule (Later shown to be influenced by the fallen angel.) Then of course a character based on Charelmaigne himself who is the complete opposite of the leader of the caliphate. Doesn't see himself as a god-like person but a servant of his god and is humble, generous, and cares about his subjects. That's what I got so far I'll try and think of others.

I could also come up with a biography for the author if you'd like?
 
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