Capitalist Transition

The New York Times online ran an article on Thursday about the opening of the Moscow Stock Exchange, calling it “another milestone in the country’s capitalist evolution.”  I found it interesting, considering we have just begun discussing the plan for the Soviet economy, that twenty years after it ended, Russia deferred back to capitalism almost by default.  This transition does not seem to be easy-going, however, as the article described the Russian markets as the most “volatile,” either being in the top five or bottom five performing markets in the world.

While the article contained mostly economic jargon that I am not able to understand yet, what I did gleam from it was that this new stock exchange is considered a maturation, which at least to me implied that the Soviet program was in a sense immature and ill-conceived.  The return to capitalism can be likened to Lenin’s New Economic Policy’s reluctance to give up capitalism.  Despite being seen as violating socialist ideology, the Russian economy of the late 1920s was increasing because capitalism was partly responsible for encouraging production.  It left me wondering, coming from my capitalist background in America, which economic structure really makes the most sense.  While socialism’s ideas of equality sound wonderful from the outside, it is difficult to adjust to having one place in the economy and society without hope for advancement.  The competition of capitalism spurs the desire for betterment.  At times in our class it seemed the Soviet’s liked to punish sons for the sins of their fathers, as in Stalin’s singular promotion of those with working class backgrounds and hatred to the Tsarists.  The men of Russia in the the Soviet beginnings were far removed from the days of serfdom and probably the new middle class did not need to be punished for rising above these backgrounds.  This too contradicts the socialist ideology in that it promotes a hierarchy, even if peasants make up the top sphere.  If the leaders of the revolution themselves saw the benefits in capitalist ideals, is it the better system?  Is socialism designed to be a short term fix to get rid of wide-spread oppression but not meant to sustain in the long run?  While I am sure Marx, Lenin, and Stalin are rolling over in their graves at this post, the fact that Russia is finding its way back to capitalism seems to indicate that in order for Russia to once again become an imposing world power, it needs to end its years of teenage rebellion and finally settle into a stability, innovating in order to be able to compete with the other world markets.