Oleg Tsarev: The Future Belongs to Socialism

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



East Germany, Latvia, Ukraine, Moldova, Russia – in all former Soviet republics and the countries of the Eastern bloc, including Russia, campaigns to discredit the Soviet past were conducted, and in the majority of them, even now – at the State level. But, despite this, all opinion polls show that the vast majority of the population – this concerns especially those who saw the Soviet period with their own eyes – votes for a return of the Soviet Union. Let’s agree that it is impossible not to reckon with it. This could be dismissed if there was something to compare it with in essence. For example, some special successes of today, at least in something. Medicine, science, culture? Perhaps the economy? During the last twenty years the former republics with difficulty reached the level of GDP of the times of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Many republics, such as Ukraine and Moldova, now have a GDP at a level that is 50% lower than it was in the Soviet period. It is noteworthy that Belarus was the first to cope with the consequences of “perestroika”, and overcame the level of pre-perestroika GDP. It is a country in which at least some resemblance of a planned economy remains.

When capitalism was imposed on the Soviet Union, only a few people understood that we were being shown an attractive little picture from the countries of the Golden billion, and that in reality we will receive something completely different. Such capitalism that exists in the majority of capitalist countries. With instability, corruption, banditry, and mass poverty.

The arrival of crisis is being discussed more and more in developed countries, and other countries live in a condition of endless crisis, and people more and more often start to think about an alternative.

Mankind didn’t invent any alternative to capitalism other than socialism.

The Soviet Union broke up because of the treachery of the elite. The thesis that it is possible to construct a more fair and effective society by using political and economic competition was used as a pretext for changing the political system.

Political competition should have brought to power leaders capable of making the correct decisions, i.e. to choose the correct one from many options and to provide its implementation. Moreover, a good leader, unlike a bad one, makes fewer mistakes. And in the economy, instead of a plan, competition should have defined the vectors of economic development independently and effectively.

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Thus, an economy based on competition already back then was losing in comparison to a planned economy. Despite pripiski [goods that are registered but haven’t yet been produced – ed], stagnation, equalisation, and the irremovability of the country’s leaders, the rates of growth were higher than in the West. The country was ready for any challenges without exception and standoffs, but unfortunately it appeared to be unready for the fact that it will be its own leadership that will destroy it.

Vladimir Putin said at the time: “those who do not regret the collapse of the Soviet Union have no heart, and anyone who wants it restored in its previous form has no brains”. The main thing in this phrase — “in its previous form”. Because it would be extremely wrong to recreate the country with a planned economy today in the previous form. Recreating socialism today should be done with the use of modern computer technologies of accounting and management.

Look around. The most vigorous and clever persons today went into business and burned their life, spend all their time fighting against each other and the State machine. Success is achieved by the one who will build acquaintances better than the others, who will uses contacts, who will manage to bribe. Half of the country tries to earn money by trying to deceive the State, the second half of the country works for the State and is busy with trying to control those who are engaged in business. For example, we have many fairly clever women who work as accountants. And a huge number of these same women work in tax collection. In order to control the system, which should control itself, it was necessary to increase the number of officials not tenfold, but manyfold.

The textbooks describe tens types of capitalism: national, State, collective, techno-capitalism. I have the feeling that the most widespread one in the world is thieves’ capitalism: it is impossible to call a situation where half the country steals, and the second half catches the first correct and effective. Half of the work in the agricultural business is protection. In other words, in today’s economic model there are an enormous number of defects. Moreover, problems exist not only in the developing economies. In order for market mechanisms to work, and so that successful projects could receive financing, exchanges were created, investment banks, an enormous number of investment managers and brokers earned on the process of organising the financing of the economy. Corporations spend a lot of money not on improving the quality of a product, but on the fight against competitors, on advertizing needs, on supporting brands. The money spent on these additional needs more often than not is hundreds and thousands times more than the money circulating in the real sector of the economy. From the point of view of receiving an end result and satisfying the needs of society, this money by and large is wasted. Thus, if to sum up the result — to ensure competition and other mechanisms of the market economy an enormous quantity of able-bodied staff must be employed and monstrous means have to be spent. And, all of this doesn’t eliminate the imbalance, which time to time leads to crises.

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In search of an exit from the current situation, understanding the hopelessness of today’s western model, practically all economists unanimously offer various recipes, but they in fact are identical. All suggest in different ways to strengthen the State’s control over business. I.e. to reduce capitalism in the economy and to strengthen socialism. In fact, the whole world goes there, from where we left.

Why am I confident about a lack of an alternative to a socialist future? Because a world based on competition is inefficient. And at a certain stage of development competition concedes to self-organization. Do the cells of our organism compete among themselves? No. Each cell carries out its own function. The world based on competition between unicellular organisms sank into a non-existence. I am sure that the function of competition will be replaced by planning on the basis of computer models. This process is slow. But, in the process of improving the quality of models, it will be possible to reduce the role of competition.

When the first computers appeared in the USSR, computer centers started opening in large quantities, intuitively understanding the role that automated means of calculation and management can play in a planned economy.

In China at the time two parties fought among themselves. One wanted to develop the economy by planning on the basis of computer technologies. Another one offered the market. The market advocates won. But I am convinced that the market is only a temporary, transitional period.

An attempt to automate the management of the economy was proposed also in the USSR. In 1964 the academician V.M. Glushkov developed the draft sketch of the All-State Automated System OGAS. It was supposed that all production information, directly from the enterprises having management information systems (ASUP), will come to the Republican automated management system (RACE), and further — to branches. The proposed system had to improve management and considerably reduce bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the proposed project was rejected.

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But during the President of Chile Allende’s reign, it was succeeded to introduce such a system as OGAS, with the help of the legendary English cybernetics of Stafford Beer. By automation the government managed not only to adjust the management of all industrial enterprises, but also to introduce automation into political spheres by installing in the population electronic questionnaires, with the help of which the immediate reaction of the population to decisions of the government was received. In a country where because of the lengthy and mountainous terrain everything depends on road haulage, Allende’s government was twice able to break up the strikes of haulers that were inspired from the outside, having organized by means of automation transportation by those drivers who didn’t support a coup.

Socialism is the world’s future, and as for us, I consider that we mustn’t remove from the agenda the question about the restoration of the Soviet Union. And it is desirable to do it during the lifetime of our generation. Thanks to memory it will be easier for us to do it than for our descendants, and not to make former mistakes. And the matter is not only in the fact that we lost our Motherland 20 ago, and now we want it to find again. Simply, anyway, the leading economies of the world will smoothly switch to socialism, and it’s not good for us to trudge in the tail of this process.

After all, it’s not functionaries of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that will build socialism, it is the new generation who will build it, using computer technologies. To build a future in which there will be no bureaucracy, including in parties. A new future where instead of officials, bureaucrats, and party functionaries there will be programmers and system administrators.

And the most important thing. Remember – every time we introduce new computer technology, we approach socialism!

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