Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Debates that amuse me

You know, every time an American liberal writes about the "triumph" of American capitalism over Soviet communism, I think of Kaiser Wilhelm, sitting in Berlin in the summer of 1918 (but before this started) pondering his triumph over Tsarism and imminent victory in the war.

It is, in fact, impossible to know what the judgment of history will be while you're living it.

And why, oh why, is the comparison never made between the Soviet Union and another economic model that combined liberal use of violence, massive state control and subsidy, and daily humiliation of the populace in service of a tiny elite? It was plenty relevant during the Cold War -- Soviet Propaganda explicitly contrasted America's words with America's deeds in the old Confederacy.

The point isn't that "the US is racist, ergo the Gulags were okay". The point is that globally, we've seen a collapse in the number of states that are able to use wholesale violence against their citizenry to serve the interests of a few. The fall of the USSR says less about a defunct economic theory than it does about how unsustainable it is to have a polity based on human rights abuse.

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