Was the end of the Soviet Empire and the opening of the East a good thing?
Of COURSE the collapse of the Iron Curtain was a good thing. It just didn’t solve all of the world’s problems, or even all of Europe’s problems (and only an idiot would have expected it to).
unless you were a communist
For a lot of average Joe’s in communist countries, it probably increased the hardship and certainly changed the rules they were used to playing by.
The core idea of communism, that everyone’s needs are met, held true to some extent. People had to wait in long lines for goods, had to wait years before getting an apartment of their own, & went to jobs where they were often paid for just showing up, since there was no guarantee the machines would be working, the supplies would be present, or any demand for their product existed. But no one who played by the rules starved.
Freedom & the accompanying loss of guaranteed jobs & “living” wage was a major setback. Too many young men have little option but to join organized crime there (a major employer) to make a living. Too many young women take foreign “jobs” only to discover too late that the job is prostituting in Western Europe.
Capitalism has winners & losers. Freedom to choose means allowing people to make bad choices & suffer the consequences.
I am glad to live in a free society. But I was in Germany for 5 years 1991-96 & know that the former Eastern bloc nations were racked with poverty and that for every winner, there were many losers. Tourism brought in much needed money. Young people who learned to speak fluent English did very well as guides, peddlers, and hotel/restaurant workers. Behind the scenes though, the lines in the stores were gone. No one had money to buy the things. The tourist areas were trying so hard to make money, that when you payed your money to use an outhouse, a woman would hand a (one, uno, ein) square of toilet paper (and not double ply, either.
I think that life will be better for all there in another 10, 20, or 50 years. But there is a lot of of suffering that has gone on in the last 10 years, and continues today. Don’t be so Americo-centric that you can only judge another country’s way of life by American standards.
Ask the people in East Timor who have lost family members how good independence has been for them…
Sue from El Paso
All things are relative. I ask you, for whom do you mean ‘a good thing?’
No, NOT ‘of course.’ Indeed, there is considerable worry about the collapse of the Soviet Empire. In the heady days of the Cold War, the bi-polar nature of the world made it relatively easy to evolve a strategy for foreign policy that, while certainly not able to stop all fighting, reduced in the opinions of many, through the ingenious invention of ‘mutually assured destruction,’ the chances of nuclear war. There are many who worry that, absent a strong bi-polar world situation, nuclear war cannot be so easily avoided. Indeed, the posturing between Pakistan and India seems to support this notion.
So whether it is a ‘good’ thing depends on whose viewpoint you are using, and what you are measuring.
I don’t even know where to start with this one, so I’m not even going to try. Suffice to say my mind reels at the potential examples of people under capitalist systems who are “losers” through no fault of their own.
Actually, Phil, I think we’re in agreement here. While a small number of people who were in the right place at the right time have not only prospered, but made a killing, the hordes who did not have the wherewithall to profit quickly from the fall of communism suffered (largely through no fault of their own).
50 years from now, I think that the have-nots will have more than the average factory worker did under the communists, but there will remain large discrepancies between the top & the bottom of the heap.
Of course the Communist leaders NEEDED the summer dachas and all the associated perks they got…
Sue from El Paso