This is a good time to talk about whether or not, the (mumble)
question, whether or not there is premeditation involved.
You might talk about that.
When you review the Soviet archives, including the more secret
archives, to see the extent of premeditation and planning,
the extent of which they unfolded their aims over a course of
time, knowing what they were doing, you are a little bit surprised.
On the one hand, the overall context is clear, that is to say,
Capitalism is markets and private property, Socialism will be
planning and social property, or collective property which is
in effect state property. The commitment to these general
principles is clear. Within that, there is tremendous improvisation
so that any given decision looks motivated mostly by political
intrigue, mostly by spur of the moment crisis management, without
necessarily a long term vision, without in malcavillian manipulation
as they are going through it decision by decision. Now,
this doesn't mean that everything is accidental. The idea
that Capitalists could be ripped off if necessary was a postulate
of most people who worked in the Soviet government and in the
planning ministry. Afterall, the goal was to beat Capitalist
at their own game, to catch them and overcome them, to transcend
them and destroy them. If you use Capitalist hands in the
process, you were even more clever than the Capitalist, but the
idea that you were with the Capitalists in some type of bargain,
where each had rights, was not something shared by most of the
people in the Soviet planning agencies or in the government.
So, you see the improvisation and you see the manipulation and
it is based on certain postulates which are universally recognized
by the Soviet side, but, the idea that they knew what they were
doing from the start, that they set the Capitalists up, that they
were going to use their technology and them kick them out having
paid for only partially, this is something they discovered along
the way and not something that they foresaw several years down
the line. Moreover, there were divisions within the Soviet
bureaucracy and there were divisions with how to handle the Capitalists
and some of the Soviet personnel felt that they were in fact beholden
to the Capitalists in certain ways and that they did have to uphold
certain bargains. Not because they necessarily valued the
Capitalists as people or valued the Capitalists in what they were
doing, but because they felt that for further collaboration in
the future it was necessary to be more cooperative in the present.
So, there were arguments inside the Soviet bureaucracy among people
who are in positions of implementing these decisions over how
to (mumble) these Capitalists, in an instrumental way, not necessarily
arguments over principle. The Capitalists themselves, by
the way, in their own documents come through as aware of precisely
what they are getting into, aware of the difficulties of dealing
with the Soviet bureaucracy, aware of the fact that they are not
always going to be fully paid. Therefore, the Capitalists when
they complain later on, that they are shocked, that they are surprised,
that this was manipulation to fool them, that the Soviets are
violating the contracts all of these kinds of claims by the Capitalists
were discussed in anticipation of these kinds of problems as they
were getting involved in it. These are not foolish people.
These are not inexperienced or naive people. These are businessmen,
some of whom have had lots of experience abroad in other countries
and not to mention what happened in their own country.
While we are on the subject, we can go ahead and cover, tell me
about, I was interested in this steel ball situation. Tell
me about it.
Yes. These are very experienced steel ball executives and engineers
from American and especially German companies and despite all
the differences, they are much closer to the leather jacketed,
leather booted Bolsheviks than you might expect. Especially, in
terms of their cynicism and their willingness to do anything to
get the job done, in their expectations of difficulties and problems
and their use of intimidation for whatever methods are necessary
to reach their aims. This is not to say that are equivalent
groups, but, that the fact that they work together is perhaps
less surprising than if you would look only at their political
differences between them. In the Soviet Union, the industrialization
of the 1930's is paradoxical. In many ways, it is an enormous
success. Thousands of companies come on line, their ability to
produce industrial goods as inputs for other industrial goods
is greatly advanced. On the other hand, the costs are tremendous.
The social costs, the economic costs, moreover, the way it works
in practice is very inefficient, very disorganized. So,
what you get is a model of forced draft industrialization which
produces many , many goods low quality, big batch goods which
are useful for making the kinds of industrial products necessary
to fight war and to build modern cities, but, the costs are so
great that you wonder in the end whether the word success applies
to it or not. Having said that, you must admire the ability
of the Soviets to buy, borrow, reproduce and, or, steal the technology,
the know how and the industrial organization and use it
for its own purposes. In other words, it is one thing to
say you are going to acquire it, it is another to be able to use
it and to make something of it. They are very successful
at that. By the middle of W.W.II the Soviets are producing
tanks which are as good as, if not better than German tanks.
This is true of mortars, this is true of other kinds of weapons.
Now, some of this kind of technology has come from American and
German firms, but, the idea that the Soviets could make use of
it, reproduce it, in some cases improve on it and organize mass
production with it in order to fight the war is very important.
That is not to say that the methods they use can be justified.