Lest Ye Forget, Life In The Soviet Union Was Awful

Daniel Pryor, Foundation for Economic Education

This November marked 100 years since the October Revolution and the beginning of the Soviet Union’s disastrous 69-year experiment with communism. While the horrors of Nazism are well-known, half of British 16- to 24-year-olds have never heard of Lenin, let alone the Holodomor terror-famine.

And although explicit apologists for the Soviet Union are no longer a significant intellectual force in Britain (except those who advise the Labour leadership), my generation is largely unaware of what life was like in the USSR. The once vibrant field of Sovietology is slowly dying, and the failures of central planning are fading from memory.

The Adam Smith Institute’s new book Back in the USSR, by José Luis Ricón Fernández de la Puente, aims to illustrate exactly what life was like in the Soviet Union. Were there queues to buy food? How good were Soviet appliances? How did the USSR industrialize so quickly? Was there poverty, unemployment, or inequality? In painstaking detail, Ricón assesses the historical evidence and the claims of leading scholars to provides answers to these questions. The resulting picture is grim.

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