Submitted by Jonathan Wilde on Tue, 2004-05-25 15:52
Matt Yglesias writes about the Soviet economy:
On the other hand, Russia in 1917 was a totally undeveloped country. Their performance since then has been dismal compared to real success stories like South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, but looks pretty good compared during the relevant period to places like Mexico, India, and Brazil, to say nothing of Argentina which actually managed to move backwards. This is to say that for all the decrepitude I witnessed in Nizhny Novgorod in 1998, I was clearly in what was at least a reasonable approximation of a "modern," urban, industrial society. Unlike in Costa Rica or the Bahamas, you didn't have people living in shacks, eking out subsistence living. Part of the story is that autarky produced some very weird results, where you had widespread ownership of incredibly low-quality versions of normal western consumer goods. The planned economy has also produced a public transportation system of astoundingly high quality compared to what we've got in, say, the United States. On the other hand, the extremely cramped housing in what is, objectively, a nearly empty country seemed totally absurd. And of course millions of people got themselves killed in Stalin's various schemes.
The millions did not "[get] themselves killed". Stalin murdered them.