Thursday, November 30, 2017

Book Review: Eleven Nations of North America

This post's heading is often how Colin Woodard's book is referred to, but the real title is American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, published in 2011. As someone interested in geography and politics I found it a fascinating and engaging read. I had originally resisted reading it thinking it was a rehash of Joel Garreau's 1982 book The Nine Nations of North America. It's not, and indeed it is much better--more scholarly, much more historical, and a lot more than Mr. Garreau's entertaining, anecdotal journalism.

For all that, I think Mr. Woodard's thesis is at least incomplete, if not outright wrong.

It begins promisingly enough, expanding on David Hackett Fisher's magisterial Albion's Seed, which describes four of the nations. For example, Yankeedom was founded by Puritan immigrants from East Anglia. They were the victors in England's Civil War, and came not as refugees, but rather as pilgrims. Their goal was to build "a city on a hill," i.e., a place closer to God, and where His chosen people can lead a more saintly life. The Yankees had no use for aristocrats or royalty, nor did they believe in freedom of religion. They despised the Anglican church, "popery", and the heretical Quakers. They passionately supported the American Revolution, providing the largest number of soldiers for that effort.

Yankeedom, according to Woodard, started in New England, but has since expanded to include the Canadian Maritimes, Upstate New York, and west to encompass Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota (along with bits of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois). Yankees believed in good government guided by religious truth.

They also colonized the Left Coast, that skinny stretch along our Pacific rim to the west of the Sierra/Cascade mountains, including San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. (Los Angeles is part of El Norte.)

By contrast, the Midlands was settled originally by Quakers, a heretical Christian sect who emigrated from the West Midlands--places like Lancashire and Cheshire. Unique among American colonists, they championed religious liberty and tolerance generally. Accordingly, they welcomed immigration from "friendly" people, e.g. German pietists such as the Amish, Mennonites, Anabaptists, etc. Because their ancestral home in England was strongly affected by Viking invasions, the Quakers share much with Scandinavians, both in heritage and culture, including gender equality, and indeed equality generally. Northern Delaware was settled by Swedes, who arrived upon Quaker invitation.

The Quakers themselves are not important today, but the immigrants they attracted still thrive and preserve most of their values. Among those are pacifism, which led them to tend Loyalist during the American Revolution, and not eager to join the Union cause during the Civil War. (The New Netherlanders, who lived in New York City and immediate environs, were stauncher Loyalists and Confederate sympathizers, albeit for different reasons.)

From Mr. Woodard's map, the Midlands today looks like a ridiculously gerrymandered congressional district, including most of Pennsylvania and South Jersey, central portions of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, much of Missouri and Iowa, and the eastern parts of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Their Loyalist sympathies caused them to emigrate to Southern Ontario and Manitoba, where they still dominate the culture. Toronto, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and St. Louis are Midlander cities.

Greater Appalachia was settled by people from the Scottish Borders, who Woodard dubs Borderlanders, but are more commonly known as Scots-Irish. They are the only colonists who truly supported democracy and individual rights, along with the ideal of rugged individualism. Tidewater (Chesapeake Bay) was settled by the aristocratic losers in the English civil war, who sought to recreate their lost British homeland. They produced men of great character and erudition, notably George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, without whom the Revolution should never have succeeded. The Deep South began in Charleston, SC, by immigrants from Barbados who wanted to expand their profitable slaveocracy beyond that small island. Unlike in Tidewater, for these people slavery was precisely the point of their existence.

And so on. Mr. Woodard recounts American history as a struggle between these and other nations for dominance in the federal government. While Virginia was the most populous state, Yankeedom was the most populous nation. They both hated the Quakers. The Borderlanders hated everybody, fighting against Southern aristocrats and Yankee "good government" meddlers alike. In the end it became a battle to prevent the Deep South from expanding too far, and then dominating the federal government. That, along with the Yankee's strong moral objections to slavery, led eventually to the Civil War.

And indeed, through the Civil War I find Mr. Woodard's story convincing. After that it becomes much less credible. I'll highlight three reasons why.

1.  African-Americans. Through most of the book Black people are slaves and have no further influence. Then they briefly become equally neutered sharecroppers. Only near the end do they acquire any agency at all in the form of the Civil Rights movement. During which Malcolm X is described as a "Yankee," in comparison to Martin Luther King, who is a "Deep Southerner." Really?

Within Mr. Woodard's framework African-Americans are probably deserving of their own nation, overlayed on top of the others such as what they do with area codes. Certainly their influence on American politics and culture grants them at least that importance. For example, American music is substantially of African-American heritage, and owes nothing to the Barbadian immigrants who founded the Deep South.

Indeed, I will go further and argue that most residual influence of the antebellum South is due to African-Americans.

2.  Technology. In 1840 it may have been reasonable for Southern plantation owners to think their slaveocracy might survive (though Tidewater's Thomas Jefferson doubted that even before the Revolution). But by 1860 surely the handwriting was on the wall--technology in the form of railroads and mechanization would eventually render slavery economically impossible.

The problems with slavery are twofold: it is a fundamentally unproductive use of labor, and it depends crucially on export markets for income, as slaves cannot become consumers. Both of those conditions made slavery uncompetitive on the world market.

After the war it turned into sharecropping, which at least incentivized the workforce a little better. By 1900 mechanization was in full force, the Southern farms became much more productive, and their former slaves migrated north to factories where their skills could be better used.

Exceptions notwithstanding, today's Southern Blacks--who populate shopping malls and live in middle class suburbs--are not desperately poor people under the thumb of some hopelessly cruel oligarchy. Yet oligarchy is precisely how Mr. Woodard describes the South, as if  Barbadian descendants still ran the show. Please, Mr. Woodard, name ten such oligarchs that control the South. You can't because they don't exist anymore. The South has an economy as modern as any other part of the country. And the proof is that Blacks have gone from being slaves to being consumers, just like the rest of us.

This process would have happened anyway, Civil War or no. So I disagree with Mr. Woodard's statement that the war was primarily about slavery. It was much more about culture, which included slavery but which didn't depend on it, especially in Virginia.

3. Morality Tale. The last two chapters of the book are the least satisfying, for that is where Mr. Woodard reveals his Yankee roots and moralizing tendencies. The Borderlanders are no longer just different, but they've morphed into something evil. Either that or they're stupid victims of some (non-existent) oligarchy. He claims, for example, that lessening regulations on clean air standards is a sop to corporations, apparently unaware that the United Mine Workers are as much against those regulations as their bosses. Of course, because their jobs and livelihoods are on the line.

Borderlanders have spent the last three centuries fighting against aristocracy and Yankee government  in defense of democracy and individual freedom. Why should they now surrender to the regulatory state? What is it about Yankee technocrats that makes them so fit to rule?

Some regulation is necessary. Too much regulation is bad. One can argue the distinction. But Mr. Woodard seems to think that every squiggle from a government bureaucrat is divinely inspired, and that Borderlanders should just suck it up and obey their Yankee superiors.


Though I enjoyed and recommend Mr. Woodard's book. Just don't believe all of it.

Further Reading:

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Schreiber on Bonn Climate Talks

Socialist Action's Michael Schreiber reports on the COP23 UN-sponsored climate talks held in Bonn, Germany. The topic has not made the news on any other medium I pay attention to (and I'm a news junkie), so I was unaware that the talks were even happening. That's how far climate change has fallen off the radar in the United States--you have to read papers from Trotskyist grouplets to find out what's going on.

Whatever the status of the scientific debate, the climateers have lost the political battle. People are not willing to take a catastrophic hit to their standard of living now in order to prevent some hypothetical (and improbable) disaster one hundred years from now.

My own posts on climate change are among the least read of any, which is par for the course--nobody is interested in the topic anymore. But Mr. Schreiber's article is such a hodge-podge of silly ideas that I can't resist trying to set him straight (a lost cause, I know). I will make clear at the outset that I don't believe Mr. Schreiber speaks for actual "climate scientists." They are a more sober group of people who are less willing to throw factoids around as propaganda points. For in the long run such hyperbole diminishes their credibility and hurts their cause.

Here are a few of the factoids:
  • "As the conference opened, the World Meteorological Organization released data showing that 2017 is apparently the hottest non-NiƱo year on record, and is expected to join the two previous years as the three hottest in modern history." What is left unsaid is that the record is only since the beginning of the satellite era, i.e., about 40 years ago. This is not a long enough timeframe from which to draw major inferences about the climate.
  • "The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (over 400 ppm) is at a concentration unsurpassed in the last three million years, when global temperatures and sea level were significantly higher than today—and the concentration is still rising."  The 400 ppm is true. The "three million years" is irrelevant. 
  • "The report predicted heat waves becoming common, an increase in forest fires in the American West, and drastically reduced water resources with possible chronic drought in the United States by the end of the 21st century. Worldwide sea levels could continue to rise for centuries to come, as the ice sheets and glaciers melt." Rising temperatures will mean more water vapor in the atmosphere, which is inconsistent with a prediction of more droughts. And rising sea levels are not caused by melting glaciers, but rather by the thermal expansion of the world's oceans.
  • "The report presented a grim prognosis for the future, in which the Atlantic coast of the United States could be swamped by rising seas and regularly battered by heavy storms."  'Heavy storms' is inconsistent with extreme drought. And it's not clear climate science suggests there will be more storms, which depend not on the absolute temperature, but rather the temperature difference between the poles and the equator. So far that difference seems to be diminishing rather than increasing.
The conference chose an odd spokesman: the Prime Minister of Fiji, Mr. Frank Bainimarama. He claims to represent “ 'one of the most climate-vulnerable regions on earth' and called on the delegates to 'make the Paris Accord work.' ” If you're trying to convince American workers to make huge sacrifices to prevent climate change, then touting him as the principal beneficiary hardly seems like a winning strategy.

Mr. Bainimarama doubles down on the disaster by claiming “ 'The need for urgency is obvious,' he said, referring to the tremendous hurricanes, floods, droughts, and forest fires of the last year and more. 'Our world is in distress from the extreme weather events caused by climate change.' ” A prediction that predicts everything is a forecast that can't be taken very seriously.

More surprising to me is that Mr. Schreiber, a Trotskyist in good standing, even takes the Paris accords seriously. He echoes the complaints of poor countries that the developed countries are not keeping their word to contribute the promised $100 billion in climate aid.
The Bonn conference is entrusted with creating a mechanism to achieve the objectives of the Paris Accord, while leaving space for those goals to be raised higher. But success, even on limited terms, is not assured. On the first day of the conference, less developed countries, led by India, questioned whether the wealthier countries could be trusted, since they had failed to meet many of their pledges to reduce carbon emissions made at earlier COPs.
India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, has been very forthright in stating that his country is not going to take an economic hit because of hypothetical climate predictions. He has adamantly refused to scale back fossil fuel use. So the hypocrisy is stunning: India still wants money from American taxpayers (among others) to fund its nonexistent efforts in fighting climate change.

Mr. Schreiber seems to believe (though he does not say explicitly) that the Paris accords are a good first step, i.e., a reformist position. Though I will ask: if the Accords were implemented in full, how much cooler would the planet be 100 years from now? How is the implementation (or lack thereof) of the Paris accords reflected in the computer models that supposedly predict the climate?

In the extraordinarily unlikely possibility that Mr. Schreiber gets his way, this is what it would mean for American workers:

  • They will pay much higher electric bills, by multiples of 10, or even 100 times more.
  • Transport will become vastly more expensive, and much less convenient. Travel in the US will be as difficult as it is in today's Cuba.
  • Solar power, when scaled up, will have enormous environmental impacts, from the large heavy-metal waste from their manufacture, to the large amounts of land required for their use, to the toxic and expensive materials used in batteries to store the generated power.
  • Electric cars will put even larger demands on the power network, leading to much higher prices and lower reliability.
It is no wonder that the climate issue has disappeared from American politics. Trump's withdrawal from Paris was very popular, and not even progressive Democrats are advocating that we reenlist. The Accords were never meaningful, regardless of whether the US is a signatory or not.

Further Reading:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tradable vs. Non-Tradable Goods

This post has nothing to do with Trotskyism, for which I apologize in advance. But I watched a really interesting talk last night by Mervyn King (h/t Timothy Taylor). The thesis is new to me and so totally congenial to my priors that I'm inspired to write about it--Trotskyism be damned.

Mr. King's larger topic is the "failure" of macroeconomics since the Great Recession. He has a lot of interesting things to say about that, but he also addresses why the current recovery has been relatively slow and weak.

There are a number of theories:

  • Larry Summers' Secular Stagnation model, by which interest rates can't go below zero.
  • Robert Gordon's low-productivity model, which maintains the "miracle century" is over and done with and won't come again anytime soon.
  • It's all the Fed's fault, which for malign and inexplicable reasons has kept interest rates very low for far too long.
These are not really mutually exclusive, but the long-term decline in global interest rates since 1990 requires an explanation. And Mr. King offers a good one.

One of the shortcomings of modern macro (in his view) is that the computer models all assume a single sector. This is best explained using the cartoon version: The economy consists of a GDP factory that manufactures GDP. Consumers buy the GDP, and if they buy all of it then we have full employment and a thriving economy. If, on the other hand, consumers only purchase some of the GDP, then there will be layoffs, declining production, deflation, and all the other ills that afflict a recessionary economy. The disease is generally described as "low aggregate demand", which just means consumers don't want to buy all the GDP. The cure is to increase aggregate demand, typically by the government buying up the excess GDP through deficit spending, and thereby putting folks back to work again.

A common criticism is that the economy is much more complicated than that--it's not just a GDP factory. Instead you have technology, and retail, and automobiles, etc. Some of these sectors may be healthy and others not so much. There's no such thing as "aggregate demand", but rather demand for the products of these individual sectors.

The computer guys are aware of this shortcoming, and so they inserted multiple sectors into their models and ran the programs that way. What they discovered is that it didn't make much difference--for all intents and purposes you got the same answer whether or not you use a multi-sector model or a single-sector model, i.e., a GDP factory. (I'm assuming that the sectors they tried are things like Industrials, Transports, Retail, etc., but I don't know that for sure.)

So now Mr. King comes along and suggests that the single-sector model is fundamentally wrong, and that at least two sectors are required. But rather than divvying up the economy as market indicators do, he instead makes the fundamental distinction between tradable goods and non-tradable goods.

The difference is that foreigners can buy tradable goods, whereas they can't easily buy non-tradable goods. So airplanes, movies, software, and computer chips can be exported abroad, and those are examples of tradable goods. Conversely, haircuts, taxi rides, restaurant meals, and doctors' visit are not readily tradable. (At the margin everything becomes fuzzy: foreign tourists can eat in our restaurants and foreign students can study at our universities, but for the most part restaurants and colleges are in the non-tradable sector.)

If the economy is split between tradable and non-tradable sectors, then there is some optimal distribution of capital and labor investment that optimizes total GDP. That is, the optimal proportion of capital is invested in tradable industries with the remainder in non-tradable industries. And similarly for labor.

This idea can be represented graphically (see below). The blue arrow (labelled a von Neumann ray) represents economic growth--the longer the arrow the faster the economy is growing. The direction of the arrow tells you the optimal proportions of investment in tradable (T) and non-tradable (NT) industries. Choose any different direction and the arrow will be shorter (i.e., suboptimal). Taken literally (which is not the intention) the diagram indicates that the bulk of the investment is in tradable industries since the arrow is closer to the T axis. (Put mathematically, the blue arrow is a vector in a 2-dimensional vector-space, with the coefficients representing the fraction of investment in either T or NT.)
Diagram taken from King, Mervyn: NBER Reporter (2017: 3, pp. 1-10)
Of course there is no guarantee that the economy is optimal--if resources are misallocated between the two sectors then it won't be. A tell that there is misallocation is if there is a permanent trade imbalance such as what exists today. In today's world, China and (especially) Germany have been running huge trade surpluses, while the US and the UK have been running substantial trade deficits. These imbalances have persisted for decades (though in the case of China things are beginning to change).

This means that the US is producing too few tradable goods, and conversely producing too many non-tradable goods. Schematically, it implies that we've gone off the rails somewhere around point A on the graph and have been following the suboptimal, dashed-line curve to point B. This, in Mr. King's opinion, is the reason for the sub-par growth of the economy since the Great Recession.

It also explains low interest rates. A big trade surplus (such as for Germany) results in a comparably large capital surplus for the United States. This typically shows up in German and Chinese purchases of US government debt, i.e., treasury bills, resulting in very low interest rates.

Before the Great Recession we were able to muddle through. Since the Recession, however, the situation has become unsustainable and we (along with the rest of the world) are taking a hit to growth. The solution is to rebalance investment between the two sectors and follow the red line from B back to point C, on the optimal von Neumann ray.

For Germany the situation is opposite. Their economy also deviates from optimum, but to the left of the blue arrow rather than to the right. They are producing too many tradable goods and as a result required to export capital around the world. US government debt is the least of their problems; more troublesome are the large loans made to countries such as Greece.

My thoughts:

1) If Mr. King is correct, then huge investments in new infrastructure are precisely the wrong thing to do. After all, there is nothing less tradable than a new highway, and since we're already over-invested in NT, this just doubles down on a bad idea. I've never been a fan of infrastructure spending, which I regard mostly as wasteful pork. Mr. King simply confirms my opinion.

2) Among the things I most appreciate about the Republican tax plan is that it disses higher education. Of course that's mostly political--higher ed is certainly no friend of conservative politics, and for that reason alone they deserve to be defunded. But more, I think this country invests waaay too much in education generally, and higher ed specifically. And given that education is mostly an NT industry, Mr. King's thesis reinforces the point. Disinvesting from higher ed at the margin is a very good idea, and an excellent reason to support the Republican tax plan.

3) Mr. Trump's fixation on the trade deficit may not be quite as cockamamie as it sounds (though it's still pretty cockamamie). Most economists think that the trade deficit doesn't matter, and that's certainly what I used to think. To be sure, year to year fluctuations don't matter, but when the deficits are long term and endemic, there clearly is a problem. In his own inarticulate way Mr. Trump is addressing an important issue. Though I do wish he'd phrase it in less zero-sum terms.

In short, I learned something from Mr. King. If anybody thinks I misunderstand or have misstated his views, please let me know.

Further Reading:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

100 Years After October Revolution

Three articles have recently appeared celebrating the centennial of the 1917 Russian Revolution. Socialist Viewpoint publishes a piece by Chris Kinder, The North Star highlights an article by Roger Silverman, and finally, Socialist Action posts a feature written by their national leader, Jeff Mackler. Mr. Mackler promises a second installment which I fear may not appear for several more weeks.

All three articles cover pretty much the same territory, which we can summarize with three questions:
  1. What was the significance of the Russian Revolution in 1917?
  2. How can the success or failure of the Revolution be assessed?
  3. What is the relevance of 1917 to our present day?

All three authors hold the Russian Revolution in very high regard. Chris Kinder, in his opening paragraph, phrases it in utopian terms.
Long disparaged and denounced as it is, the Russian Revolution of 1917 still demands our attention today. No event in history was quite like the Russian Revolution, because no other event before or since has attempted to change the motive force of history in the fundamental way that this event did. By forming the world’s first and only lasting (if only for a few years) workers’ state, this revolution alone offered the promise of a world without the endless class conflict that defined all previous history: a world based on genuine human cooperation; free of exploitation, war, racism, sexism and national, ethnic and religious oppression. The promise of the Russian Revolution embodied the true goals of the vast majority of humanity then, and yes, of humanity today. The fact that this revolution soon was unraveled, betrayed and eventually destroyed only makes the lessons it holds for us today more important to understand.
Mr. Silverman perceives the Revolution as a specter that still haunts the globe.
November 7th, 2017 marks the centenary of an event whose impact still today reverberates throughout the world. The Russian revolution remains a constant spectre at the feast of the rich, its shadow falling across all subsequent history. Since its lessons lie buried in a century of sludge by all those determined to malign its meaning, it is the duty of socialists to unearth them and bring them back to light.
Mr. Mackler credits the Bolshevik Party.
To this day, 100 years after Lenin’s Bolshevik Party led the world’s first socialist revolution, no party has matched its record of social, political, theoretical, organizational, military, cultural, and moral contributions to the advancement of the interests of the working-class masses.
He sees Socialist Action as following in the Bolshevik's footsteps (though he's too modest to suggest that he is himself the reincarnation of Lenin).


Trotskyists have a problem. Unlike Communist parties, they are not willing to sweep the Stalinist crimes under the rug. They freely admit to the purges and mass murders of the 1930s, though those events are not explicitly mentioned in any of the articles. And contrary to Conservative critics (like me) they are even more adamantly insistent that the Revolution was ultimately a success. After all, why celebrate it otherwise. It is a high wire act to rescue something of enduring value from an event that otherwise appears disastrous.

Mr. Silverman is the most explicit in tabulating accomplishments, citing economic data.
It is worth remembering that in earlier days, for all its devastating burdens, the planned economy had boasted miracles of economic transformation. To take a measure of what was then achieved, in the fifty years starting from 1913 (the highest point of the Russian pre-revolutionary economy), Russia’s share of total world industrial output had soared from 3% to 20%, and total industrial output had risen more than 52 times over. (The corresponding figure for the USA was less than six times.) In the same period, industrial productivity of labour had risen by 1,310%, compared to 332% in the USA, and steel production from 4.3 million tons in 1928 (at the start of the first Five Year Plan) to 100 million tons. Life expectancy had more than doubled and child mortality dropped nine times. Soviet Russia in its heyday produced more scientists, technicians and engineers every year than the rest of the world put together.
This paragraph illustrates a fundamental problem with Marxist economics, which renders their comparisons irrelevant. That's because they weigh measures of what workers produce much higher than what consumers buy. Producing something (e.g., refrigerators that don't work or cars that break down within 5000 miles or warehouses full of rotting produce) is not important if people don't want or need to buy it. Increasing industrial output by 52 times, or even by a million times, has no value if it serves no need for consumers, i.e., people. That's why sales data is more important than production data.

Mr. Kinder recounts some (in his view) admirable Bolshevik policies without commenting on how successful they were. The most radical was the Decree on Land, which forbade landlords from collecting rent or evicting tenants. He tells in loving detail of the political intrigue this dramatic move caused, though nowhere does he say anything about the economic outcome, which we know was awful.

Mr. Mackler also comments on land reform, writing,
Aside from revolutionary Cuba, no nation since then has implemented a land reform-distribution of that scope. Indeed, today in Latin America every so-called revolutionary or “popular” regime, from Venezuela to Bolivia, Ecuador and Uruguay to Nicaragua and Argentina, has failed to accomplish even a modest land reform. To do so would entail a break with the capitalist system of private property that none of the above dared to contemplate.
Beyond Cuba, he fails to consider Zimbabwe, which implemented a land reform at least as catastrophic as the Soviets. And then also China, unless he is revisiting the existence of the Chinese Revolution. Beyond which it beggars imagination to think that Cuba has an effective agricultural industry.

The problem with transferring all property rights to the poorest citizens is that they, almost by definition, lack the capital (both human & financial) and the access to markets to be meaningful producers. If the goal is to improve agricultural output, this strategy will inevitably fail, as it always has.

Then Mr. Kinder talks about Soviet housing policy. The paragraph is long and hard to excerpt, but here goes.
However, to judge by the numerous critiques of Soviet housing that emerged in modern times, one would think that problems such as these were the whole story, as they repeat endless horror stories about inadequate housing in the USSR. Yet, how many homeless people were there in the Soviet Union?....Russians find it odd that Americans call themselves ‘homeowners’ from the day they close on a mortgage loan. For Russians, ownership only begins after all debts are paid off.” How true that was for millions of so-called “homeowners” in the U.S. who lost their homes in the mortgage fraud-induced crash of 2008!
There was no homelessness in the Soviet Union because it was illegal to be homeless. The alternative was internment in a mental hospital (or worse). And surely Mr. Kinder will acknowledge that almost all Americans had housing far better than all but the Soviet's nomenklatura.


None of our correspondents are very specific about the relevance of Russia's revolution on today's world, beyond claiming that it's earthshaking and exemplary.

We've quoted Mr. Kinder at the top of this post. Presumably Mr. Mackler will have something to say in his next installment. That leaves Mr. Silverman, who simply asserts that it continues to be important.
And now more than ever, another world is necessary. In every continent today, a new generation is waking up to the reality that the only future it faces under capitalism is one of poverty, homelessness, hopelessness, discrimination, environmental destruction and war. Millions of people are in revolt, casting around for alternatives, sometimes seduced by false demagogues, but increasingly determined to find a road to change. Those commentators who used to scoff at the idea of revolution are today falling silent. In a recent Greek opinion poll, 33% called for “revolution”. And last year in the USA, 54% of respondents voted yes to the idea of a “political revolution to redistribute money from the wealthiest Americans”. That included 68% of Afro-Americans, 65% of Hispanics, and 68% of 18-29 year-olds.
It is time to rescue the Russian revolution from the history books and return it to its rightful place as a guide to action.
I think if you'd asked those poll respondents "Would you like to live in country like the Soviet Union?" I suspect the answers would have been far different.

My view is that the Russian Revolution has faded into history and has nearly no relevance for the modern world outside of Russia. Within Russia, the Revolution was a cataclysmic event that destroyed their country, culture, and peoples, and from which they will never recover.

Further Reading: