12/07/2017

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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In Search Of History

4,000 Years Of Price Control

Tablets, said to be 200 years older than the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi ... show that the ancient kingdom of Eshnunna had wage control and price control. The news ought not to have come as a surprise. For the code of Hammurabi itself (unearthed in 1902), which was promulgated earlier than 2000 B.C., fixed prices, wages, interest rates, and fees. This makes price control at least about 4,000 years old. ...

 

Ironically, it is those who now wish to return to this ancient totalitarian device who are fondest of calling themselves “progressives.” They are also fond of saying that those who believe in economic liberty “are living in the nineteenth century.” These controlists have yet to learn that they themselves are still living, as the discoveries in Babylonia attest, in the nineteenth century—B.C.!

-- Henry Hazlitt,

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