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Old 10-09-2020, 09:22 PM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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Default Survival of the USSR?

Here is an article, asking four historians how the USSR might have survived. https://www.historytoday.com/archive...=pocket-newtab

Nearly all of them think that Gorbachev's reform attempts started the avalanche, but I think they also think collapse was inevitable. One posits that had the USSR retained total control of the media, like the current Chinese CP, it might have been able to do so.

So, I'm now wondering if any attempts to "revise" the real timeline with the point of departure of the 1991 coup are too late. Perhaps either the death of Andropov or the accession to power of Gorbachev are better PoDs? Or we accelerate the background timeline to a Twilight:1990?
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:47 PM
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By 91 the rot had well and truly set in. I believe you need to go back to the mid 80's really to make a proper, lasting difference, and it would still involve some extraordinary financial manipulations or significant injection of capital (probably both).
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:22 PM
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My personal belief is that the USSR just could not compete financially (along with the corruption of the system and a widespread cynicism possessed by the Russians, exemplified by the notion of "we'll pretend to work for as long as you pretend to pay us").
I believe the Chinese communist government was able to survive because China had mineral resources that the world needed (Rare Earth Elements) and was able to dominate the market rather quickly.

If the USSR had exploited it's own REE deposits, they would have been raking in the foreign currency. It's only now that Russia realises the potential for money making and are making serious efforts to mine those REEs in their territory.
But for the USSR, they were bleeding money and couldn't make it fast enough to replace the losses.

As mentioned elsewhere on this forum REEs are one of the crucial parts that makes the modern world what it is. They are a major component of any electronic device you can think of - medical, automotive, detection systems, communications and so on and so on.

Last edited by StainlessSteelCynic; 10-09-2020 at 10:23 PM. Reason: correcting "need" to "needed"
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Old 10-09-2020, 11:18 PM
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But how important were REE's 30-40 years ago in comparison to today when everyone in the developed world has a PC/laptop/tablet and another computer in the form of a smart phone in their pocket?
Virtually every vehicle is loaded with electronics now, whereas in the 70's and 80's they were either completely analogue, or only the most rudimentary of systems.
The amount of technology in our every day lives, and in industry as well has increased a thousandfold or more in my lifetime at least. Can we really blame the Soviet leadership for not being able to see into the future, especially since their own system actively discouraged "unauthorised thinking".
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:06 AM
Vespers War Vespers War is offline
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They also got burned by the collapse of the oil market in the 1980s. In 1984 they were producing ~11 million barrels per day and the market price was ~$75.00 per barrel. By 1993 they had dropped to just over 6 million barrels per day at ~$35.00 per barrel, so the value of the oil they were pumping dropped by $600 million per day, or over $200 billion per year. I don't know how long it would have helped, but they would have benefited from a more aggressive Hussein attacking Saudi Arabian oil wells. A combination of hardliners taking over and reversing Gorbachev's policies and an economic boost from an oil spike might have allowed the Soviet Union to muddle along a bit longer.
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vespers War View Post
They also got burned by the collapse of the oil market in the 1980s.
Even if oil prices and production increased dramatically in the early 90's, the damage was already done by then. Their economy might have coped with a 6 month reduction, but not 6+ years. Whatever happens to save the USSR from collapse needs to effectively replace the loss of income from oil, and do it almost immediately.
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Old 10-10-2020, 01:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
But how important were REE's 30-40 years ago in comparison to today when everyone in the developed world has a PC/laptop/tablet and another computer in the form of a smart phone in their pocket?
Virtually every vehicle is loaded with electronics now, whereas in the 70's and 80's they were either completely analogue, or only the most rudimentary of systems.
The amount of technology in our every day lives, and in industry as well has increased a thousandfold or more in my lifetime at least. Can we really blame the Soviet leadership for not being able to see into the future, especially since their own system actively discouraged "unauthorised thinking".
It's a good question and the answer is basically - still pretty damned important (although obviously they are even more so with the proliferation of personal comms & computing devices these days).
REEs have been used from at least the early 20th century, being used in ceramics, glass, catalysts, petroleum refining, fluorescent lights, batteries, fertilizer enrichment, alloys and magnets before they were used in modern electronics.
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:57 PM
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Default The People's Life Support Machine

If the Soviet Union would have transitioned to a ChiCom style state-controlled capitalist economy in the late 1980s, perhaps it could have held out until the mid 1990s. It's certainly worked amazingly well for the PRC.

Also, if the Berlin Wall hadn't come down, the USSR might have been able to hold on (since the East Block provided captive markets for Soviet goods). So perhaps a corollary question is how could Eastern Europe have weathered the economic/social storm of the late 1980s?

On a side note, I just finished a documentary on an assassination-style murder of the West German official in the former East Germany shortly after the Berlin Wall came down. I knew the the former DDR remained economically depressed for decades after reunification, but the documentary revealed that there were major protests against the crash course of capitalist market reforms that were imposed by the Bonn government. At one point during the first phase of the privatization and liquidation of state-owned/run industries, unemployment in the former DDR was at 50%, and a lot of East Germans were aching for the return of socialism. There is some evidence that the remnants of the Stasi were trying to foment a revolution during that time as well. Imagine a low-intensity civil war in Germany in the early 1990s. That would be something the USSR/Russia could have exploited.

Did the Gulf War (1991) impact oil prices? I was living overseas and not of driving age yet, so I don't recall. If so, that could explain the survival of the East Bloc (assuming it could have made it that far).

Maybe there was a valuable resource (oil, REE, fissile material) in the disputed border (w/ China) region. That could help explain both the survival of the USSR and the Sino-Soviet War that started in 1995 (IIRC).

A Youtuber, in a recent critique of the v1 timeline, proposed a Soviet discovery of fusion power in the mid-1980s or something like that to explain its post-coup revival but that premise, IMHO, is unrealistically fanciful given that humanity still hasn't figured that tech out yet.

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Last edited by Raellus; 10-10-2020 at 01:02 PM.
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  #9  
Old 10-10-2020, 02:50 PM
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I believe that the Free League 4th edition timeline will be looking at a more convincing survival.

It's likely that the collapse could have been delayed a few years without Gorbachev, certainly into the Twilight War.
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Old 10-10-2020, 04:07 PM
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Default More Questions than Answers

Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Hunter UK View Post
I believe that the Free League 4th edition timeline will be looking at a more convincing survival.
This raises some questions:

1. More convincing than what?
2. What leads you to believe this?
3. Care to elaborate?

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Old 10-10-2020, 10:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
If the Soviet Union would have transitioned to a ChiCom style state-controlled capitalist economy in the late 1980s, perhaps it could have held out until the mid 1990s. It's certainly worked amazingly well for the PRC.
Huge cultural differences aside, that's a reasonable scenario to explore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
On a side note, I just finished a documentary on an assassination-style murder of the West German official in the former East Germany shortly after the Berlin Wall came down.
Thanks for the tip, I'm watching it now too. The autopsy results... I had to re-wind and listen to it again. The first shot fired (presumably from an elevated position at least across the street from his house) punched straight through his torso and severed his spinal cord... after going through a glass window... that's an impressively clinical kill. Like, someone who REALLY knew what they were doing.
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Last edited by Targan; 10-11-2020 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 10-10-2020, 11:34 PM
Vespers War Vespers War is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Raellus View Post
Did the Gulf War (1991) impact oil prices? I was living overseas and not of driving age yet, so I don't recall. If so, that could explain the survival of the East Bloc (assuming it could have made it that far).
When Desert Shield started in 1990, oil spiked from $34/bbl to $77/bbl. By the end of Desert Storm in February 1991 it was back down to $37/bbl.
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Old 10-11-2020, 04:53 AM
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Some other info for those interested in the assassination Raellus mentioned: -
https://allthatsinteresting.com/detlev-rohwedder
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Old 10-11-2020, 05:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StainlessSteelCynic View Post
Some other info for those interested in the assassination Raellus mentioned: -
https://allthatsinteresting.com/detlev-rohwedder
60 metres...
Sniper....
Right....
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Old 10-11-2020, 06:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silent Hunter UK View Post
I believe that the Free League 4th edition timeline will be looking at a more convincing survival.
Like Raellus, I am quite curious about this and to echo his sentiment (and blatantly steal his questions): -

1. More convincing than what?
2. What leads you to believe this?
3. Care to elaborate?
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