100 years ago, the October (or, using the current calendar, November) revolution created at first a lot of chaos, and later on, a new regime, allegedly in an attempt to create some form of socialism or communism. While this new socio-economic formation never materialized, the international repercussions were significant. While soviet Russia and, after 1922, the Soviet Union were relatively weak and isolated, a brutally enforced strategy of selective modernization and development proved sufficient to withstand the attack by Nazi Germany. After 1945, the USSR was one of the two cores of the bipolar cold war system. Two nuclear powers opposed each other, but they actually never engaged in a hot war. After the end of the east-west conflict, global politics became more unruly, uncertain, and dangerous.
Some people claim that the USSR, while never really resembling socialism, worked as some kind of corrective for capitalism, and with its (the SU’s) demise, global capitalism accelerated and became more unchecked. Others believe that the real history of ‘real socialism’ ruined the alternative potential of socialism forever.
This week’s question is: 100 years on, is there anything we may learn from the experience of the grand Soviet experiment?
– Klaus Segbers