A Comparison of Life in the US and Life in the USSR in the 1960s
The Soviet Union also known as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a state based on socialism (Martin, 1995). This state existed on what was formerly the Russian Empire. In the 1960’s, this state had one communist Party and a planned economy. Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, led this state with dictatorship leading to economic depression, and political repression (Smitha, 2000). In the 1960’s, the United States of America’s President, Lyndon B. Johnson, led America to large-scale industrialization, egalitarianism and calmed political turbulence as Civil Activism raged. He ensured that the blacks and other minority groups had their civil liberties thus making America a democracy. During this time, America was a capitalist economy and could not tolerate Soviet’s communism. This essay explores how capitalism boosted the economy of America as communism and socialism ruined the economy of the Soviet Union.
After World War 1, the capitalist economy of America got a boost from the sale of arms and other military equipment. It used the gains to build its military power and used it as a “sphere of influence” thus dividing Europe with an Iron Curtain (The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 2003). Eastern Europe embraced capitalism and thus aligned itself with U.S. while Europe’s Western Nations aligned themselves with the USSR and adopted communism and socialism.
The U.S economy was market based. The price of products and services was dictated by the supply and demand curve. Economic growth saw the expansion of infrastructure, industries, and urbanization (Frieden, 2006). Suburbs emerged with the middle class transforming in search of better wages. In the education system, students were taught business management, critical thinking, and questioning authority. These educational foundations geared the emergence of successful multinational corporations that changed the business face of the world.
In USSR, communism dictated that the people or the citizens should worship the leaders. The state of government was more of a police state where freedom is controlled or curtailed. This limitation to human freedom and basic rights led to decline in production from agriculture to the industry and consequently the economic decline. Socialism ensured that workers were organized to form cooperatives. They produce goods and services, the leaders take them and redistribute them to the people (The Norton Anthology of American Literature, 2003). This is what led to the slowdown of the USSR economy because the worker toils to produce and he or she is not motivated.
The USSR economy was a planned economy. Price controls, state owned and controlled industries lost a lot of revenue because there was poor governance and little motivation. The education system was structured along the lines of communism. Students were taught to follow rules without questioning authority. This is what has largely contributed to the unsuccessfulness of Russian corporations because people do not want to question authority even when they see a problem. Because of this, life expectancy dropped, many people lived on less than a dollar a day, poor housing, and lack of good food made them a disillusioned lot (Martin, 1995). The USSR government could not tolerate America’s capitalism. They used socialism and communism as their “sphere of influence” and thus gained support from Europe’s Western Nations.
In the 1960’s the economy of the U.S and that of the Soviet Union grew at almost the same rate-6-7 percent (Smitha, 2000). Both countries made economic gains that made them to be the world’s leading superpowers and producers of manufactured goods. The existence of two equally powerful nations led to strained relations and hostility. The main cause was competition for support from the emerging economies and third world countries.