Odds and Ends
1 10, 3:37am
And just because you expect to see cracks, it does not mean they are there. Any definition of "socialism" that covers those four examples and Sweden, too, is so broad as to be completely meaningless. By the classical definition of socialism, the only workable definition I've ever seen, only two of the five are actually socialist (USSR and Khmer Rouge). Of course, even if you reduce the incredible complexities of political economy to only the one axis of capitalism/socialism, even that is a spectrum, not a dichotomy. Clearly where Sweden is on that spectrum is a far preferable place than where the US is. Sweden has outperformed the US economically, despite lacking the enormous advantages that the US has. And that is a pattern that holds true beyond those two cases. Whether you compare across countries, American states, or time, the closer one is to the Social Democratic model (which is emphatically not actual socialism, much less the bogey man version that the American right has attributed to the concept, which adds every negative facet that any country which has had any elements of socialism had, while ignoring any positive facets), the better an economy, on average, performs. Obviously, there are many other factors, which can outweigh that one element, but the correlation is very strong, and one can easily go past correlation to actual causation.
In the three of your examples that actually have failed, Slowburn (the Plymouth country did not, or the US wouldn't be here, and despite the ridiculous revisionist history propagated by Rush Limbaugh, it never was socialist, and there never was a sudden improvement due to a change in economic policies, the reality was complicated and messy, but it was a moderate success story that adapted over time, but always merged ideas we would now consider liberal with ones we would identify as conservative, in a weird amalgamation, that grew slowly and steadily over time, primarily due to enough influx in colonists to survive long enough to be established, ideology was of relatively minor importance), the real problem was that the political rule was totalitarian. Totalitarian governments, whether they are socialist, laissez faire capitalist, or any other stripe, do always show cracks, eventually, especially when they governed by insane, murderous megalomaniacs like Stalin or Pol Pot. Even a cursory study will show that socialism does not cause totalitarianism, although it is at least possible that totalitarianism does tend to go more towards socialism. But one cannot blame the effect for the cause, that's backwards. Also, in none of your four examples was the initial situation conducive to a successful regime. A colony in the wilderness with often hostile natives, a brutal civil war, and two backwards nations, are not exactly places where one has a right to expect a success story. That the colony managed to survive, and even eventually thrive, and that arguably at least one of the two backwards nations rose from being a minor power to one of the two most powerful nations on the planet, actually means that they outperformed the expected outcome. I don't know much about Cambodia prior to Pol Pot, but I do know very much about Russia before the revolutions (yes, multiple) of 1917. It was one of the most economically backwards nations in Europe with an agrarian economy, and almost no civil society under the Tsars. It was only considered a European power at all because of its enormous size and population. When your army has nearly unlimited cannon fodder, and your geography makes your country nearly impregnable, you're going to be a force to be reckoned with, even in today's world where modern technology has made spending far more important than it ever was before. It's amazing that it took 40 years before they had to admit that they couldn't compete with the US in an arms race. Imagine what they could have done if Stalin hadn't been so paranoid that he killed more people than any leader in history, including some of the most capable people the country had. Or if they hadn't wasted enormous amounts of resources propping up any country that was (or pretended to be) their ideological bedfellow (one reason why psychotic despots in the 20th Century often implemented, or at least feigned an interest in socialism, although we propped up our share of tyrants, too, although we kept a slightly tighter rein on their murderous tendencies, so their evils were a little less spectacular, although if anything, we allowed far more blatant thievery in our puppets than the Soviets did). Or if they hadn't been so intent on proving that they could match us tank for tank, nuke for nuke, that they grossly overextended themselves in what ultimately was a pointless exercise (how many times can you destroy the world? after the human race is extinct, isn't any remaining armaments just wasteful overkill?). Still, in the early 1900s, they couldn't even compete with France or Japan without home court advantage (as I mentioned, the best home court military advantage ever). Yet throughout the mid to late 1900s, the most powerful and rich nation on the planet was scared of them and worried that the outcome of a conflict was in doubt. Undeniably it was a miserable place to live, but given their external goals, they could hardly be considered an abject failure...
Yeah, I know this was long, but I'm hamstrung by unwillingness to just make up facts to fit my theories or ridiculously oversimplify reality until it's unrecognizable...