Agony of Reform: Commanding Heights Part 2 The revolution of the world’s economy in the 20th and 21st centuries was very stressful, uncertain, and trying. In the 20th century, economic foundations were beginning to shift due to deficits and inflation. Economic strategies planned to curve the shift by governments worldwide were beginning to fail and were not fulfilling their projected results. Free-market capitalism was to blame for mass unemployment, the recession, and inflation that began to plague our country as well as other world economics.
American President Ronald Regan and Margaret Thatcher in Britain were the very first to model a market economy which is a capitalist system. These commander and chiefs privatized state owned industries and deregulated markets. Soon, the rest of the world began to model the market economy and pull away from state control. Places such as Russia, which was the first fully communist country experienced great growth and gain from the communist system. During the great depression, Russia continued to experience low unemployment rates and economic gain while other countries such as the U.
S experienced extremely high unemployment rates, poverty and extremely low economic gain. When the great depression hit, the comparison of numbers between countries such as Russia and the U. S basically proved that the capitalist system of a market economy would eventually fail and that a communism or a communist economy was the way to go. This entire idea that communism was better than a market economy was untrue because it was based on a lie. If Russia had not lied about their government, they too would have suffered from the depression just as the U.
S. The rulers of Russia lied about the performance and size of the country. To keep the truth under wraps and away from its citizens, the overbearing government kept a tight control over its citizens, their media, and borders. “Because of this, foreigners were only let into the USSR in small numbers and were only allowed to visit the small parts of the country that were well-developed” (Germino). The nation also used prison slave labor to keep their expenses as low as possible. Millions of people were forced nto these camps and forced to work in mines and factories against their will; threatened with physical harm or even worse death. Norilsk symbolized every stage of Soviet economic history, from the original prison camp and the beginnings of Soviet industrialization right up to the collapse of the economy in the 1990s. So much of its history had been tied up with the fact that it was a prison camp. Even in the early 1950s, 100,000 political prisoners were working in its mines and factories. (Yergin) The Russian government is an example of what can happen when a nation undergoes social, economic, and political changes.
After the death of ruler Josef Stalin in 1953, the mastermind behind all of the deceit that made the communist government and economy seem appealing, the Soviet Union, which Russia was renamed after it became the first fully communist government, began to relax and many of the government abuse and the size of the prison population decreased drastically. The relaxing of the Soviet’s “iron fist” was ultimately its downfall. Soviet influence was everywhere in Eastern Europe, in Africa, and Latin America. Socialism, planning, state control, government ownership — these became the gospel.
In Asia, the apparent success of communist China seemed to show the way. But the truth about the Soviet economy lay concealed behind the “Iron Curtain. ” (Narrator) Once the “iron fist” let up, the soviet people began to become non productive. Due to the lack of ruling and force placed upon the prisoners, they barely did anything at work which resulted in a low amount of goods being produced. This resulted in The Soviet as well as other communist countries in Eastern Europe having shortage in goods and basic foods which affected regular human life.
This new problem along with the lack of innovation for new weapons and good was the last straw and the communists could no longer cover up their failures. The rest of the world finally got to see that communism was not the best. When a nation undergoes social, political and economic changes, many things are liable to happen to the nation, both good and bad. During an economic transition, there is a possibility of a recession or decrease in the economy of the nation goods will not sell and countries can be bound down but deficits.
Small business may suffer similar to Poland during their economic transition. During a social and political transition, similar to what happened in the Soviet Union; the people may be come lax and begin to do their own thing and no follow the previous rules set. If a new political leader comes into office, they must gradually change the rules so that chaos does not break out. In the Soviet, the people where not ruled as harshly as they were before allowing the people to become slack in their work which eventually caused the Soviet to fail and all of their secret failures to be revealed.
If the people were ruled exactly the same as before with the new ruler gradually making changes, the “royal” communist economy may have lasted a little while longer. The root causes of these agonies would have to be greed, power, and money. Each country wants to be on top and in charge, so they will do anything they can to gain these powers. Nations allow corporations to take big risks and if these risk fail, they try to cover them up for as long as possible, ultimately hurting their nation.
The American economy went through a huge transition period when President Bush left office and President Obama took over. President Obama inherited a lot of problems including a failing economy and a war “Mr. Obama inherits a wealth of problems as he noted in his acceptance speech: “two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century” (Clapman). President Bush, who was a fan of the free market and President Obama, who is a fan of big government are from two totally different democratic parities as well as have two different approaches on how to run our country.
When Obama got into office, he tied to switch our economy to that of a controlled economy after such a devastating recession. Politically, Obama also had to think of different ways to salvage what was left of our nation after the Bush presidency. This included the war, and mainly the economy. Politically, Obama, while transiting into office had to elect a new white house staff and nominate a new administration. Obama had to find a way to fix or rationalize the bank bailouts that Bush continued to issue up until the end of his presidency.
Obama had to try and end both wars that were presently going on and also, transition the government from that of a free market to big government and a controlled economy. Obama also had to reinvent middle class since they were hit the hardest due to the recession. Unemployment was at an all time high and President Obama had to find a way to fix this problem. Commanding Heights; Agony of Reform was very interesting and informative. I could see the correlation between our government now with the transition between President Bush and Obama and the way of the governments and nations back in the 20th and beginning of the 21st century.
The agony of reform for nations such as Russia and India are easier to see because although their financial losses were similar to the U. S, our transitions in government were more subtle than theirs where they were going from communist economy to a capitalist economy. I also believe that although looking back, many decisions governments made were not the best, I believe leaders make the best decision for that time period-often not thinking ahead when they should.