What-if: A Soviet Deng Xiaoping

Gwen,

I agree that the "good cop/bad cop" thing is the best way to go about it. It's a good PR thing (the West thinks there're splits between the two to exploit, as Tom said), plus it's useful as a means of domestic control.

To make a Draka analogy (I'm sure you'll appreciate this), it's like Erik Von Shrakenberg as Archon--the WestTHINKS he's nice and reforming, but they merely want the Good Guys to fall asleep so they can whack 'em with a hammer.

The Sino-Soviet issue, however, is a big complication. Mao thought Khrushchev wasn't hard-core enough; someone like "Comrade X" would be utterly despised from the get-go? What if China (remember, this is Mao here) tries to pull its own version of the Brezhnev Doctrine on the Soviet "apostates"?
 
Tom_B said:
In part the Good Cop/Bad Cop ploy is a subtle form of disinformation. The Western press runs stories periodically about an imagined split between the two that doesn't really exist. I think Kosygin as Good Cop and Malenkov as Bad works better. The real differenes in policies between the two men is fairly small and they work those things out in private. Kosygin is not as impetuous as Khruschev and would be more incrementalist. The K+M regime is not as bloodthirsty and paranoid as it was under Stalin but it is thoroughly authoritarian.
And this would be a vast improvement over old-school Stalinism. As long as one did not overtly speak out or plot against such a regime one would usually be. . . reasonably safe from "their standard issue kicking in the door," as Waters put it. Compare this to the random massacres every time Uncle Joe had a bad hair day.


Tom_B said:
This is one of the more interesting ideas I've seen here of late. I encourage you to pursue it further.

Thank you. I find it a fascinating idea; the Western world really did get off rather light in its choice of opponents during the 20th Century. What if they'd been facing down a regime that wasn't run by idiots? Not so easy then. . .
 
Matt Quinn said:
Gwen,

I agree that the "good cop/bad cop" thing is the best way to go about it. It's a good PR thing (the West thinks there're splits between the two to exploit, as Tom said), plus it's useful as a means of domestic control.

To make a Draka analogy (I'm sure you'll appreciate this), it's like Erik Von Shrakenberg as Archon--the WestTHINKS he's nice and reforming, but they merely want the Good Guys to fall asleep so they can whack 'em with a hammer.

"They could have lulled us to sleep so easily, so easily . . . All the Draka would have to do is ease up, tell some convincing lies, and we'd have our work cut out for us keeping even a minimal guard up." As with the Domination, so with a better-run USSR, especially if US/European/Asian industry is making money off of their cheap goods and labour, ala China today. Speaking of which --



Matt Quinn said:
The Sino-Soviet issue, however, is a big complication. Mao thought Khrushchev wasn't hard-core enough; someone like "Comrade X" would be utterly despised from the get-go? What if China (remember, this is Mao here) tries to pull its own version of the Brezhnev Doctrine on the Soviet "apostates"?

Mao’s China would doubtless consider K & M to be complete and utter sell-outs, no question. They wouldn’t have near the strength to force them back into line however, so all they could do is fume. Mao may quite probably spend a lot more on his military as he could see the PRC being dangerously surrounded by a "heretical" USSR and NATO. This could either abort the Cultural Revolution or make it far more radical. Border clashes might be hotter, too. Have to think about that one.
 
Gwendolyn Ingolfsson said:
"They could have lulled us to sleep so easily, so easily . . . All the Draka would have to do is ease up, tell some convincing lies, and we'd have our work cut out for us keeping even a minimal guard up." As with the Domination, so with a better-run USSR, especially if US/European/Asian industry is making money off of their cheap goods and labour, ala China today. Speaking of which --






Mao’s China would doubtless consider K & M to be complete and utter sell-outs, no question. They wouldn’t have near the strength to force them back into line however, so all they could do is fume. Mao may quite probably spend a lot more on his military as he could see the PRC being dangerously surrounded by a "heretical" USSR and NATO. This could either abort the Cultural Revolution or make it far more radical. Border clashes might be hotter, too. Have to think about that one.
Good Draka quote.

On the matter of Mao, it doesn't matter whether or not China can force the USSR back to the Party line; what matters is whether Mao, who was a bit of a nut methinks, THINKS China can.

In an actual war, China would be mauled (and the US would probably let Chiang pull something); that could be the seed of an interesting idea.
 
This is all quite interesting, but how likely is it that a Soviet leader would essentially give up on communism in 1953? It was,after all, state planning and forced-growth mass production that had won the war, and made Russia into the second superpower. People were still taking seriously the notion that the Soviet system might "catch up and surpass" the western powers (rather than, say, Putin's present goal of catching up with and surpassing Portugal) as late as the 70's. Why would a Soviet leader seek to dissasemble a system that for all it's nastiness still looked like it might be the wave of the future in the 50's?
 
B_Munro said:
This is all quite interesting, but how likely is it that a Soviet leader would essentially give up on communism in 1953? It was,after all, state planning and forced-growth mass production that had won the war, and made Russia into the second superpower. People were still taking seriously the notion that the Soviet system might "catch up and surpass" the western powers (rather than, say, Putin's present goal of catching up with and surpassing Portugal) as late as the 70's. Why would a Soviet leader seek to dissasemble a system that for all it's nastiness still looked like it might be the wave of the future in the 50's?
Well, even then the Soviet growth rate was still behind that of the United States, and Malenkov, Khrushchev and others could see the inefficiencies inherent the system. And it was in the late '70's that Deng decided to dump central planning for a system that paid attention to market signals. Besides, as I said at the beginning, I want to make the USSR more dangerous over the long haul, and to do that they have to have a decent economic system that can keep up with the West.

By the way, sorry all about the delay in the preliminary timeline - here it is Saturday afternoon and it's still not ready! But soon, I promise.
 
Top