[OPE] Soviet-type socialism vs. capitalist market economy

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Sun Jun 15 2008 - 05:42:56 EDT

According to the results of a Forsa sample survey of public opinion commissioned by Stern Magazine and published in December 2006, most Germans were politically disaffected. Some 82% of Germans and 90% of East Germans believed about politics that no consideration is given to the interests of the people. Only 5% believed voters could strongly influence political developments through elections, 48% believed that they could have some influence, and 47% said they had no influence. In East Germany, the last-mentioned figure was 56%. According to the poll, 36% were dissatisfied with the new constitutional political system, while 61% were dissatisfied with the actual functioning of the system. In East Germany, the corresponding figures were 51% and 79%. At that time, 58% of West Germans want to go back to their former currency, the D-mark. Apparently, whatever the German state does, it is unable to bring together the interests of different strata of the population, or muster broad support, except on a few highly specific issues which have popular appeal.

For Russian opinion polling, see for example:
http://english.fom.ru/ http://wciom.com/ 

There is quite some literature on post-1989 attitudes, see e.g. Vladimir Shlapentokh, Social Inequality in Post-Communist Russia: The Attitudes of the Political Elite and the Masses (1991-1998) Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 51, No. 7 (Nov., 1999), pp. 1167-1181

Most of the statistical evidence I have seen over the years suggests that qua attitude to state policy and politics generally, the North American, European and Australasian working class is traditionally overwhelmingly concerned with job opportunities and social security issues (health care, education, welfare and retirement), and that the working class evaluates social progress on this basis. Much the same probably applies elsewhere. 

Concern about the value of democratic freedoms is statistically much more a middle class and elite preoccupation; working class people are on the whole much more concerned about whether democracy in fact delivers anything tangible to them qua job opportunities and social security. Thus, freedom would appear to have a different significance in workingclass opinion, namely it concerns primarily the ability to gain access to the means for a reasonable standard of life.

In this sense, the Western elite project to "bring democracy to the Middle East" is politically doomed to failure from the start, because that is simply not the primary concern of the rump of the population there.

The general neo-liberal idea is that if commercial trade is promoted, a better life will result for all. But in fact working class participation in commercial trade is mainly limited to selling labour, buying consumer goods and services, and operating the trading system with their work without having any control over it. Hence the credibility of neo-liberalism in workingclass opinion depends primarily on the existence of job opportunities and the ability to have access to consumer items, but insofar as neo-liberalism is anti-social security, the majority of working class voters are likely to oppose it. 


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