USSR "won" in the cold war

I have allways been interested in this topic, and decided to write a proto-timeline about it. Parts of it are inspired by the video games "Crisis in the Kremlin", "Ostalgie" and "Mao's Legacy", as these games actually provide a good insight into the history and pollitics of many countries (even if the games are not allways completely realistic). I tried to be specific when it was possible, but I also had to stay vague when it comes to some countries, otherwise this post would have been like 15 pages long. Overall my question is, what do you guys think about my ideas? What is probable/possible and what isn't? Oh and I have one thing to add: Please don't kill me if you don't agree with my interpretation of some events or developments. Its normal that people have different opinions on things, and thats what discussions are there for, after all. Thank you :)

The whole world becoming socialist in the 20th century with a POD after the beginning of the cold war is difficult. This is not to say that it would have been impossible, just that it wasn't very likely (I'd also like to note that the way the cold war ended OTL was not very likely either). I actually wrote another longer and more pollitical timeline on this, but thats not the topic of this thread.

However the Soviet Union beeing the most powerfull nation on earth, with most countries in the world beeing socialist, or at least anti-imperialist and allied to the USSR, seems way more probable.

In the OTL 70s it actually seemed as if the USSR would win the cold war. Socialism and anti-imperialism were spreading in the third world (from 1969 to 1979 alone, 15 nations became socialist) and living standarts kept rising drasticly in Eastern Europe. Of course, with the beginning of the 80s, a new phase of the arms race set in, a series of crises stroke the socialist world and in the end, the USSR was dissolved.

But lets say that never happens, and things go in the USSRs favour. Most of Africa, Asia and Latin America becomes socialist, or at least anti-imperialist, during the 70s and 80s.
The USSR reconciliates with post-maoist China, Yugolsavia and (probably after long negotiations and a change in the local leadership) even Albania. A coalition of the communists and social democrats gains the majority in Japan, and the nation turns away from the USA, and towards the USSR and China. Under joint sino-soviet pressure relations between both Koreas normalize, however the situation in the ROK remains tense with mass protests beeing crushed brutally. Its also possible that Thailand and the Phillipines turn socialist, as both had powerfull communist parties and guerillas. India remains left-wing and pro-soviet, and relations with China slowly begin to improve after a series of agreements on border corrections. In Pakistan, Bhutto is never overthrown, and his leftist course continues (should the war in Afghanistan still take place, the islamist extremists would have no chance, considering Pakistan remains soviet-alligned). Even if Iran becomes a theocracy like in OTL the Tudeh party remains one of the most powerfull opposition groups, and in this TL it would likely get more foreign support. Iraq under Saddam was actually not that pro-soviet in OTL (though polliticaly there was much talk of "friendship with the USSR", Iraq actually did most of its trade with the US and later banned the communist party). In this TL there would likely be a change in the leadership of the Baath party, and under a continued Baath-communist coalition Iraq would stay on a pro-soviet and leftist course. Its also possible that the UAR survives, and becomes a strong soviet ally in the middle east. If this happens the PLO would have much more foreign aid, and Israel would likely be forced to make large-scale concessions. The US rapidly looses influence in the world, and the dollar falls appart. The other NATO nations pursue an increasingly independent pollicy (as the socialist camp continues to grow, trade and good relation with it become more and more important), and the organization itself is close to dissolution. France, under its social democratic government, establishes close trade relations with the USSR. Inner german relations begin to improve, and in exchange for increased trade with the socialist camp the FRG agrees to the establishment of a de-militarized zone in West Berlin. The west german government also agrees to end the poaching of the GDRs skilled workers, so personal traffic between the two nations finally becomes easier. The historical compromise continues in Italy and radical leftist groups (like the red guards) remain influential (its also possible that Italy becomes socialist during the 70s or 80s, either through revolution or the anti-monopolist strategy. After all Italy was the western european country with the most powerfull communist movement during the later decades of the cold war. Yet if the USA and their remaining close allies decide to crush this italian revolution, the consequences would be unpredictable). Britain would likely remain under a Labour government that keeps good relations with the USSR, and the Unions would continue to ve very powerfull. Alternatively Britain could adopt a thatchrism-esque pollicy and remain europes lone crusader against the socialist world. This is quite unlikely considering the UK is dependent on trade with the continent, however if Britain moves to the right, the IRA and scottish seperatists would be a lot more powerfull than in OTL. The Troubles are likely to last longer, if they end at all (its also possible that Northern Ireland eventually re-unites with Ireland after another full-blown rising). What happens to the Iberian peninsula is hard to predict, but there is a chance that Portugal might actually become socialist. Having a traditionally strong communist movement, Turkey and Greece could become socialist. Yet, in Greeces case, a continued PASOK government is more likely in the short-term.

By this point the ruble is the dominant currency in international trade, and the USA and its remaining hard-line anti-communist allies struggle to obtain foreign currencies (since the USSR prevents the exchange of rubles into dollars. What an irony, actually). At this point the USA has two options: Continue an aggressive course against the ever growing socialist camp, or making concessions in exchange for the lifting of trade embargoes. By this point, its very likely that the USA goes with the secons option. The cold war is nearing its end and it seems that the USSR will prevail in this long standing confrontation, beeing the most powerfull force in the world. After long discusions the OGAS project is eventually implemented in the USSR, and most of the other socialist nations begin to develope similiar systems. Communist parties and groups become increasingly popular in the remaining capitalist countries (many "western" nations allready had quite strong communist movements in OTL), and with the dawn of the 21th century it seems that the final vicrory of socialism is going to become reality in the near future.
 
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Given Japan as an example I’m not sure why something between September 11 and The Dismissal wouldn’t happen. This is a standard critique of Eurocommunism as strategy.
 
Parts of it are inspired by the video games "Crisis in the Kremlin"

The new one or the old one? The 1991 game is very good in terms of realism (though still rather easy compared to how hard sorting out the real USSR would be since the player has plenty of spare resources and tight control over the system at game start whereas the real USSR had no spare resources and a really unresponsive system). The game on steam is not realistic at all.

But lets say that never happens, and things go in the USSRs favour. Most of Africa, Asia and Latin America becomes socialist, or at least anti-imperialist, during the 70s and 80s.

Honestly, that doesn't help very much. If the Soviets had the rest of the world in their alliance, the US would still be in a position to continue the Cold War indefinitely. What you propose falls well short of that. Most of the wealth and power in the world in the 70s and 80s were in Western Europe, North America and Japan. Everywhere else (including the Soviet Union) was pretty poor and thus lacked the wealth to spend on frivolous things like backing Communism in the Cold War face-off.

By this point the ruble is the dominant currency in international trade

Yeah, no. The Soviet system of trade was a complete disaster, there's just no good reason for anyone (including the closest of Soviet allies) to hold roubles and denominate their trade in the currency. The Soviets could (and did) make trade deals where both sides lost out. To add insult to injury, even if the Soviets had an actually workable approach to trading, their economy is small and closed, their banking sector absolutely dire, even shorn of all its allies, the US economy would still exert a natural gravity that would make dollars very convenient to use.

After long discusions the OGAS project is eventually implemented in the USSR, and most of the other socialist nations begin to develope similiar systems.

OGAS is not magic. OGAS was a fairly impractical set of ideas that may have limited utility as a positive disruption of entrenched corruption and probably would have been a disaster if actually implemented.

The biggest problem with OGAS is: where does the USSR get the computers from? (Production of mainframes already was lagging behind demand, OGAS would have sent demand into the stratosphere.) Then there's: OGAS doesn't use TCP/IP - it is a pretty crude and inflexible network and it would have been difficult to add new branches to the network and the Soviet economy would be growing here, so it would need to add new branches all the time. Finally: how does the OGAS network keep itself clean of garbage input. Falsified information was a huge problem in the Soviet system.

The USSR can maybe win the Cold War, but there's no plausible way for this to happen by an alternate 2019.

Maybe if the USSR plays its cards really well, it could win by an alternate 2100, but for such a victory, it would need to keep ahead of China as well as overtake the US. That's very hard to do. More likely the best outcome for the USSR is to be the honoured homeland of the revolution in a world led by a Communist USA or a Communist China. The geographic and other advantages of these two states over the USSR are really quite enormous.

fasquardon
 
The only way the Soviet Union could have won OTL Cold War was not to play. It didn't have to collapse, but it was always boxing above its weight vis-a-vis the USA.

One could construct a situation where the USSR is the dominant World Power (primarily by screwing the USA in the 1930s, and keeping the USA out of WWII), but it wouldn't be the Cold War we recognise.
 
The new one or the old one? The 1991 game is very good in terms of realism (though still rather easy compared to how hard sorting out the real USSR would be since the player has plenty of spare resources and tight control over the system at game start whereas the real USSR had no spare resources and a really unresponsive system). The game on steam is not realistic at all.

What do you think are the main differences between the original and the new game? I only played the game on steam.
 
What do you think are the main differences between the original and the new game? I only played the game on steam.

My review of the original: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/review-crisis-in-the-kremlin-1991/
My review of the new one: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/review-crisis-in-the-kremlin-2017/

Basically, the 1991 version railroads you, and makes everything about budgeting. The 2017 is a political Dwarf Fortress.
 
The new one or the old one? The 1991 game is very good in terms of realism (though still rather easy compared to how hard sorting out the real USSR would be since the player has plenty of spare resources and tight control over the system at game start whereas the real USSR had no spare resources and a really unresponsive system). The game on steam is not realistic at all.
fasquardon

Yeah, I actually meant the new game. Of course the world becoming a single Union of SSRs in the 90s is impossoble, yet the new game also has its pros. For example the USSR can actually survive. Whatever you did in the old game, in the end everything came crashing down. But yeah, economics were way more realistic in the 1991 version.

Honestly, that doesn't help very much. If the Soviets had the rest of the world in their alliance, the US would still be in a position to continue the Cold War indefinitely. What you propose falls well short of that. Most of the wealth and power in the world in the 70s and 80s were in Western Europe, North America and Japan. Everywhere else (including the Soviet Union) was pretty poor and thus lacked the wealth to spend on frivolous things like backing Communism in the Cold War face-off.

Hm, thats a difficult statement. Yes the USA could hypotheticly continue the cold war as long as it wants to, but at some point it would make more sense not to.
And what makes you think the third world nations are not important economicly? Though poor in terms of living standarts, these nations provide "western"
corporations (corporations from the developed capitalist world would be more precise) with ressources and cheap labour. Yes, these nations have a low GDP, but only because they are forced to sell their goods to the first world at very low prices. They tend to be completely dependent on western capital, and therefore have to let foreign corporations extract ressources in their country at very low tax rates. Some african counries for example are very rich in natural ressources, its just that the native population doesn't get much from these riches. In reality the US and most of Europe is (and was during the cold war era) in turn also dependent on cheap third world labour and ressources, therefore more and more countries in the region going red would greatly hurt them.

Yeah, no. The Soviet system of trade was a complete disaster, there's just no good reason for anyone (including the closest of Soviet allies) to hold roubles and denominate their trade in the currency. The Soviets could (and did) make trade deals where both sides lost out. To add insult to injury, even if the Soviets had an actually workable approach to trading, their economy is small and closed, their banking sector absolutely dire, even shorn of all its allies, the US economy would still exert a natural gravity that would make dollars very convenient to use.

The Soviet Union had the second largest economy in the world and, though it was relatively sel suffiecient, foreign trade played an important role. When it comes to the use of the ruble in international trade, in OTL large parts of the trading (especially the multilatersal one) that took place within the CMEA was done in so called "transferable rubles" (Just found this article: http://csef.ru/en/ekonomika-i-finansy/251/perevodnoj-rubl-tajnoe-oruzhie-sssr-7444).

Using the ruble (or an exchangeable version of it) for multilateral trade makes sense, considering the USSRs economy was way larger than all of the other CMEA countries combined.

And using a specific currency in trade can be a strong pollitical weapon (as the USA proved in OTL). If the socialist and tje other pro-soviet nations used the ruble and/or their native currencies (that are not convertable into US dollars) the USA suffers badly.

I don't really understand what you mean by "natural gravity". The dominant currency usually is the currency that is used by most countries in foreign trade. And this would not be the dollar anymore in this TL.

OGAS is not magic. OGAS was a fairly impractical set of ideas that may have limited utility as a positive disruption of entrenched corruption and probably would have been a disaster if actually implemented.

The biggest problem with OGAS is: where does the USSR get the computers from? (Production of mainframes already was lagging behind demand, OGAS would have sent demand into the stratosphere.) Then there's: OGAS doesn't use TCP/IP - it is a pretty crude and inflexible network and it would have been difficult to add new branches to the network and the Soviet economy would be growing here, so it would need to add new branches all the time. Finally: how does the OGAS network keep itself clean of garbage input. Falsified information was a huge problem in the Soviet system.

Yeah, the question of how to get the neccessary technical equipment would likely be the greatest problem. However in the OTL 80s the USSR did begin to invest into high-tech equipment. I'm sure that, over the years, the problem could be solved. Look at OTL Russia nowadays: They experienced total economic collapse and still managed to establish a modern economy.

On the effects of OGAS: Of course it won't magicly solve all of the USSRs problems. But it would make planing more efficient and would be able to counter falsification quite effectively. With all information beeing visible with the click of a mouse, its easy to see if the 3 tons of iron ore the mine near Minsk claims to have extracted did really arrive in the factory in Gomel, and if said factory really did make 5 kilometres of railroad out of them (I don't know anything about railroads, thats just an example). In OTL, the planers had to rely on reports written on paper. And if you have to administer more than two plants, say like 10, 20, 50, whatever, its gonba be pretty hard to verify received informations. There were special inspectors for that, but this was an unsatisfying solution till the end of the USSR in OTL. So computers would help, they might not be the solution for everything but they would help. The USSR could possibly experiment with other form of cybernetics aswell.

The USSR can maybe win the Cold War, but there's no plausible way for this to happen by an alternate 2019.

Maybe if the USSR plays its cards really well, it could win by an alternate 2100, but for such a victory, it would need to keep ahead of China as well as overtake the US. That's very hard to do. More likely the best outcome for the USSR is to be the honoured homeland of the revolution in a world led by a Communist USA or a Communist China. The geographic and other advantages of these two states over the USSR are really quite enormous.

Hm, thats half true. The USSR did actually have a higher economic growth than the US, even after the transfer of agricultural labour into the industrial sector was finished. Slowly but surely the gap between the two nations narrowed (though its unlikely that the soviets overtake america before the 2020s or 30s). In the mid 80s, the USSR had a GNP of around 2.2 billion. China only reached this level in 1995, so it would take into the 2000s or 2010s untill Chinas economy overtakes that of the USSR.

Yes, the USSR would not be able to stay the strongest superpower forever (just like the USA won't in OTL). But it could maintain this position well into the 21th century.
 
If America nationalizes a few industries in the 30s, a few more during WWII, and a few Post War while implementing a large number of price controls during the War/Depression that aren’t removed, we could cripple America economically.

If America does this, we could get an America with a GDP per capita comparable to the UK by the 1970s. That could weaken the US economy to the point it loses the Space Race and has a harder time spending money funding foreign governments, especially if it still implements the Great Society. We could also have the US shun immigrants instead of opening up in the 50s and 60s, reducing America’s GDP further. If America still fights and loses Vietnam, the US might give up trying to keep up with the Soviets given America’s limited budget and just focus on using nuclear weapons to defend Western Europe and keeping Naval superiority.

Some President who tries reforming America’s economy gets forced out of office due to corruption scandals and America keeps its dysfunctional economic system in place. During the 1980s Communism remains in the rise globally with America not really supporting anti-Communist regimes or inspiring much faith in Capitalism.

America introduces some red tape that makes it next to impossible to commercialize the internet in the 90s and the US has growth rates no better than the Soviets. Absent migration America’s workforce reaches its peak in the 1990s which further caps growth.

The Soviet Union and US are both declining powers here. But the Soviets are more willing to sacrifice their living standards than Americans to sponsor foreign rebels and governments that align with them, and allow their allies to fight with the gloves off while the US press criticizes America sending aid to virtually any regime. As a result more places go Communist than Capitalist during the 90s even with the Soviets and China not really raising living standards, as America basically gives up trying. The Soviets in the meantime only hold themselves together with brutality.




Maybe this works sort of?
 
The 1991 game is entirely unrealistic. I managed a Dubcek with full Pact maintenance, crippled the military kgb and nomenklatura as class forces and kept 5-10% growth through until the 2020s.

There was no way that after 1968 there was a latent communist or socialist humanist movement to socially “capitalise.”

Also a Dubcek from 83 means a probable abolition of state and value by 2010
 
You'd have to significantly weaken the West somehow. Perhaps find a way to get the zombified corpses of the British and French Empires limping along, and now the American and Western European civilian populaces are being confronted with how they actually are protecting imperialist powers (in the U.S. - an empire they rebelled against to found the country) from an anti-imperialist (though not really - the USSR was an empire in it's own way), anti-inequality power (on that note, maybe we can strengthen anti-civil rights groups in the U.S. to further contrast the morality of the U.S. against that of the USSR).

Net effect is that Western will and belief in their own moral cause collapses, NATO may be dissolved, the U.S. looks inward to fix it's own problems while engaging very little with the outside world, perhaps some additional nations in Europe adopt socialism, either in direct Soviet military interventions such as in West Germany, or in nuclear states like France and Britain, democratically.

In the long run I think the U.S. would re-invent itself along today's lines of civil rights and capitalism, and would ultimately out-compete the socialist sphere in terms of freedom and standard of living. In the short term it may be recognized as a Soviet victory in the Cold War, but in the long term, freedom and free enterprise is going to prevail over systems that can only survive through repression of dissidents and force. Might take another century to happen, but Europe is eventually going to come around to America's way of doing things, at least to the extent Russia and the former Warsaw Pact has OTL.
 
I managed a Dubcek

To those of us less versed in the lingo, what is a Dubcek? I am guessing some sort of reformist path in the game.

My review of the original: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/review-crisis-in-the-kremlin-1991/
My review of the new one: https://phuulishfellow.wordpress.com/2018/02/06/review-crisis-in-the-kremlin-2017/

Basically, the 1991 version railroads you, and makes everything about budgeting. The 2017 is a political Dwarf Fortress.

The 1991 game doesn't railroad you at all (it does railroad Mongolia, to be fair - whatever happens you eventually lose them). It's just that applying the "received wisdom" to the game Soviet economy works as well as applying the received wisdom to the real USSR did - the whole thing explodes in short order. With some luck and the right choices it is possible to hold the Warsaw Pact (the big variable is whether Ceaușescu gets overthrown, if that event fires in your game you'll always lose Romania) and actually holding the USSR together and reforming it is actually pretty easy - if you go the hardline route. I did eventually manage to reform the USSR as a nationalist, but it is much harder.

(Also, I think your review really does a disservice to the game, since many of your complaints are quite simply not true. The only negative that is true is that Ligachev's portrait is actually of Brezhnev - also someone who wasn't a hardliner.)

Did you learn the game from the manual? I've always wondered if that's what leads so many people wrong...

I got the game years before I got my hands on the manual, so I learned how to win by experimentation. My short form advice is: in year 1 get agricultural spending up to around 700 billion roubles, then keep it there for the rest of the game. Keep your foreign relations with the west hostile (arrange a mutual pull-out of afghanistan though) while loosening economic controls, go max censorship, increase funding for soldier's wages so you can succeed at invasions while cutting the funding for weapons, and fund civilian R&D so your economy doesn't collapse in the late game.

Since the exact starting conditions of the game-USSR vary randomly, some of those prarameters may need to be tweaked when you start a game. But that's the ballpark. Once you get the hang of how to win as hardline, reformists are pretty easy. Nationalists are hard to win as, and they are super hard to win as if you have minimum-censorship - winning as them requires you get the indicators on the bottom left into yellow in your first months and keep them there.

So you would prefer the 2017 game over the 1991 one?

IMO the 1991 one is waaaaaaaaay better, but the interface is not a friendly one. So depending on how much game interface matters to you and how much you enjoy the challenge, your opinion may differ.

I really enjoy the challenge of the 1991 version, and it is great fun moulding the USSR into different versions of itself. (Different kinds of politics, military strategy and economic approach have subtle effects on their own, but combine the right speeches with the right event choices and funding choices and you can get some really interesting variations.) But a big chunk of your time will be spent punching in numbers into the annual budget.

As Sam R. says, it isn't realistic (in the 1991 game, there's about 1 trillion roubles of budget that you can move around in your first year - frankly, this sort of economic slack just didn't exist in the Soviet Union in the 80s), but I think it is more realistic than the modern remake.

fasquardon
 
To those of us less versed in the lingo, what is a Dubcek? I am guessing some sort of reformist path in the game.

Party radicalisation, from-to-from, eviceration of nomenklatura power in favour of workplace council development, the whole shebang of *communist* reform, rather than market reform. Except unlike the Nagy situation, the formal Communist party was also the actual communist party.

Then again I managed a negative agricultural population by tractorisation during a NEP in Stalin's dilemma. Peasants paid me grain for not existing. And I had so much excess consumer goods that I didn't use Transport as a nomenklatura proxy to achieve stability. I think I had a far larger than required fully mechanised army also. Fewer than 5 million deaths.

In reality you can't savescum, or restart ironman mode when Bukharin just won't stop representing a pole of party opinion that will cause workers uprisings.

yours,
Sam R.
 
Party radicalisation, from-to-from, eviceration of nomenklatura power in favour of workplace council development, the whole shebang of *communist* reform, rather than market reform. Except unlike the Nagy situation, the formal Communist party was also the actual communist party.

I am still not clear what that means in the game mechanics of the 1991 Crisis of the Kremlin game.

Then again I managed a negative agricultural population by tractorisation during a NEP in Stalin's dilemma. Peasants paid me grain for not existing. And I had so much excess consumer goods that I didn't use Transport as a nomenklatura proxy to achieve stability. I think I had a far larger than required fully mechanised army also. Fewer than 5 million deaths.

I hadn't heard of Stalin's Dilemma. Will check it out.

fasquardon
 
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