What if soviet union didn't disolve?

Let’s say that the commies managed to get more countries, including china and al the ----kistans. let’s say that they found oil and managed to make a lot of money. How would the world be today? I mean, in the 80s there was a lot of tension with the cold war. A touch of a button would launch 50000 warheads and make the world go caboom. (in fact… is that true? Could they start armagedon with the touch of a button?) . Given today’s events - war on terror, war on Iraq, war on war… would the cold war still be cold or it could start to heat up? What would be the consequences if such a war broke through?

No factual answer possible. Moved to Great Debates from General Questions.

samclem, moderator

sorry, moderator. didnt thought it was big enough for there.

China and most of the “stans” were communist, and Russia had/has oil. so I’m not seeing what the alternative scenario is supposed to be. The system didn’t work.

The world would be a lot better off if the Soviet Union was still around, in my opinion.

The Soviets had oil, it was just that prices in the 1980s were too low. If they’d made a few better economic decisions in the 1970s and 1980s and hung on for another ten years or so, they could have reaped the benefits of higher oil prices that would boost their export revenues, and also modern computers that would have made economic planning easier. If they’d been able to do that, I’m almost sure the Soviet Union would exist in some form (maybe minus the Baltics and some of their satellites), and would be communist of some stripe or another, still today.

It’s hard to see how the Soviets could have hung around, because it was a variety of factors that led to their downfall. For one, the Soviets had enormous oil wealth, as well as many other natural resources, so merely having more petroleum wouldn’t save them.

For one, the growing wealth disparity between the USSR and capitalist nations would have led to internal revolution sooner or later. Even if they could keep afloat they’d still be falling behind in relative terms.

In addition, a huge chunk of Soviet GDP was gobbled up by military spending to maintain parity with the United States. Had the Soviet Union stuck around, the US would just have increased military spending. If the soviets wanted to maintain the same capabilities (and all evidence suggests they did), they’d have to spend more money, which would disproportionally affect them as they had a smaller GDP. So it’s not clear at all more money would have saved them.

Adjusted for inflation, prices for oil were much higher in the 80s than they were in the 90s, and, on average, higher than even into the 00s.

I agree stubborn Communism was their downfall. What if they’d pulled a China, becoming communist in name only?

They wouldn’t have to remain Communist, even in name only. What if they changed their constitution to remove all references to socialism and provide for a multi-party system? Would there be enough of a shared Soviet identity, apart from Marxist-Leninism, that the Union of Soviet Republics would have held together? My guess is that it may have been possible for the Slavic Republics (Russia, Ukraine and Belarus) at least, though it it may be more problematic for some of the peripheral republics, particularly the Baltic states. In the long term, as far as democratization and economic liberalization goes, I think a non-socialist Soviet Union would have eventually ended up pretty much as Russia is now.

The Soviet Union had finished becoming fully industrialized by the '70s and there was nothing left to do that could be done simply by ordering something built. By the 1980s it was becoming painfully clear to the Kremlin that their economic system had no room left for further growth. If the march of communist regimes marking the 70’s in Africa and Asia had continued it might have been another matter. But Afghanistan was a debacle and a newly reactionary USA under Reagan squelched Marxist movements in Latin America.

The difference between the USSR and China was that the USSR was a quasi-imperial power with the communist governments in eastern Europe as its satellites. Anything less than hard-line maintenance of the status quo, like Gorbachev’s reforms, led to their swift collapse, and once that happened the legitimacy of the Soviet regime came into question. Pretty much what the novel 1984 claimed- governments never fall unless they’re crushed from without, become decadent, or fall prey to self-doubt.

About the only way things might have gone differently is if after Leonid Brezhnev died, if instead of Andropov and Chernenko lasting only twenty eight months between them, a die-hard member of the old school had remained in power for another decade.

Soviet identity definitely existed and was quite strong in many places, actually. There’s nostalgia for it in surprising places, though usually in the over-40s now. It was also a tricky thing, and it always had an uneasy relationship with ethnic identity. The USSR was only about half Russian, unlike China, which is still more than 90% Han Chinese. Non-Russians had higher growth rates in many parts of the USSR for the last couple of decades, IIRC. You see in the areas where Russians were settled, the breakup was much more hazy. China probably would have fallen already if the proportions of the Uighurs and the Tibetans were similar to the proportions of some of the larger non-Russian groups in the USSR.

Eastern Europe was also a big problem, as Lumpy states. Those countries did not have (and in most cases did not want) a Soviet identity.

It’s interesting to see how the Soviet Union disintegrated. The Baltics mostly couldn’t wait to get out, but Soviet identity was quite strong in other places. Central Asian SSRs tried to hold on as long as they could, despite being of mostly Turkic ethnicity and mostly nominally Muslims.

The Soviets making each SSR theoretically sovereign also came back to bite them. The Russian SSR did not lose any of its ‘autonomous republics,’ even Chechnya. If Lenin and Stalin had formed the USSR along the lines of what China would do under Mao, the end would have gone very differently, I think.

If the USSR had managed to hold on somehow through the 90s, I think they would have resurged in some form or another. The advances in surveillance alone… It would have been pretty bad for much of the third world, if the USSR had stayed. Proxy wars, death squads, etc. would have continued.

Unsurpising, since the Central Asian SSRs were being economically subsidized by Russia. Sometimes the subsidies were for extremely ill-chosen endeavours- the Aral Sea debacle for example, or the virgin lands failure- but they were still net money flows nonetheless.

High oil prices don’t guarantee prosperity - look at Venezuela. And they had computers - I met a guy who worked in a secret soviet lab hooking up smuggled 360s, 370s to modern peripherals. He used some of my graduate research. Fast computers don’t make flawed economic theories work.