While I could have presented reams of statistics regarding the total failure of the Soviet economy to provide even the basics necessary to sustain ordinary life, I felt a few anecdotes would be easier for the general reader to digest. The fact that under the Soviet system male life expectancy was 49 versus 74 (averaged across the OECD, 1988) speaks volumes for the standard of life at that time under a command economy. And while Cuba does provide reasonably good health services, the rest of Cuban life for ordinary people is abysmal compared to that in the OECD. The point of my article is that people use the word "capitalism" like we used to use words such as "witchcraft" or "immoral." There's no real intellectual content, and in fact a humane society relies on capital investments in order to generate the wealth that a socialist system can then distribute more rationally. This seems to be a very difficult concept for the average person to grasp; hence my recourse to illustrations by means of anecdotes. But those anecdotes simply sit in front of a wealth of statistics, rather than being unrepresentative of the state of affairs pertaining in the final decades of the USSR.

Written by

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store