EDITOR’S NOTE — Before the fall of the Soviet Union, William Swinnerton spent more than 30 days in the USSR, living with Soviet families. He provided this list of conditions he observed, which he attributed to living under socialism.

•Limited markets. Food was sold on the streets.

•Stores that were empty or had very few items.

•People stood in lines for bread, only to find there was no bread.

•Apartments in poor repair.

•Water and electricity not always available.

•Elevators and street lights not working.

•Road conditions poor (pot holes).

•People lived in fear of the KGB. There was a feeling of being watched, even by their family and friends.

•Having to wait for medical treatment.

•If stopped by the police, you needed three things: driver’s license, registration and money.

•Cars must be parked in fenced area at night and you had to pay a guard.

(21) comments

Alfred Whitehurst

Mr. Swinnertons 'memories' of the USSR are his own, and I am sure, accurate as far as that goes. However, there are a Great Many differences - critically important differences - between what the USSR called socialism and what people who support someone like Sen. Sanders - including Sanders himself - calls Democratic Socialism. Socialism - basically defined as "social ownership of the means of production and workers' self-management of enterprises.", isn't what the USSR did, but both are still drastically different from "a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means", and as such is practiced - to great benefit of it's citizens - by Nordic countries. Anyone - Mr. Swinnerton's memories included - who thinks Socialism re: USSR has ANYTHING at all to do with, or is similar to, Social Democratic principles, is either unintentionally ignorant (not their fault, they just don't know the facts) or intentionally ignorant (defined as someone who refuses to learn).


I think you are confusing Socialism with Communism. Perhaps this will help:



What is it Mr. Whitehurst doesn't like about America's liberty, the liberty so many of her young heroes have given their lives to create and preserve?


Neat story, but literally no one is advocating for this.


Socialism has always failed........

Even the Nordic countries have made recent huge strides in swinging the pendulum back towards capitalism in order to compete with the global markets.......

Norway even admits that the American Democratic Socialist are left wing lunatics.......

Obviously the Democratic Party has embraced the Marxist ideology with open arms.......

Good luck in the attempt to wage war on capitalism!


Sounds more like life under an average Republican administration (and this one...children in cages!!) more than socialism.

Branson Hunter

The cookie crumbles. The Cookie sees shadows where none exist. I know toxic propaganda when I read it.

Branson Hunter

FWIW, Cookie, the Nordic model is underpinned by a mixture of Market capitalist economic system that High degrees degrees of private Enterprise. Norwegians stores stores are well-stocked, their economy is doing well, and the country is actually considered more wealthy than the US, with the GNP over $70,000 per person. Our economy is leas wealthy, with a per capita GDP of $59,000 per person Norway is completely blowing America out of the water. Norwegian point to the us as an example of what happens when you let capitalism run wild.


Norway does seem to be Democratic Socialist dream country. Norway has one of the world’s largest oil and gas natural resources. The petroleum industry accounts for around a quarter of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). On a per-capita basis, Norway with a population of about 5 million is one of the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas outside the Middle East. The Norwegian government created a partially private company run by elite wealthy energy industry executives that seek to capitalize on profits. The company along with Norway's wealth fund are publicly traded, operates on the profit motive, and deposits its surplus revenues into other trillion-dollar investment funds whose largest equity holdings that include shares in some of the largest American corporations such as Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. If this sounds like socialism it’s because it is not socialism. America's Democratic Socialist abhor the extraction and use of fossil fuels, large corporate giants awash with profits, and love regulations that drive capitalism into bankruptcy. Norway is the perfect example of what happens when capitalism runs wild!


I guess something got lost in translation at point regarding "democratic socialism" and "communistic socialism". Some "socialistic" societies work pretty well and it's citizens are quite content with, and thrice with their form of government.

I recall never hearing of a content "communist" unless they were in the upper echelons, and even then they toed the party line rather carefully.

Bottom line: no form of government is perfect. A few are rather draconian.

Hopefully with better leaders in the future, the United States of America won't become a third world cesspool. Time will tell.

bill jenkins

neither pure capitalism or pure socialism are sustainable. successful modern economies are a cmbination of the two. if you don't like calling government owned and controlled assets socialism cool, lets call it zork. we can now say an intelligent mix of capitalism and zork makes for a viable and equitable economic system.


Fat Finger Error Correct:. Thive not thice. Duh!

Branson Hunter

Population of Norway is 5.4 million not 10 M. The socialist countries in this world are as follows, China Cuba Vietnam allow it.


Trouble again with reading comprehension Branson? I stated Norway had a population "of about 5 million " in which you replied the" Population of Norway is 5.4 million not 10 M". Wouldn't you agree that our American Democratic Socialist ideologues despises the fossil fuel industries and corporate profits while Norway's capitalistic society (or in your veiw Democratic Socialist) uses it for societal advantage? How about investing our social security trust funds in the markets like Norway instead of using them to pay interest on our rising national debt? I love the way Norway creates its economic wealth by wise capitalistic investments don't you? Yes even China and Vietnam have embraced capitalism in order to advance its society. Cuba, one of Bernie's favorite socialistic countries since the fall of the USSR, still despises corporate profits and likewise is the proof of the pudding.

Branson Hunter

Sorry... that was supposed to be "and Laos."


While the Soviet Bloc was assembled as the United Soviet Socialist Republic with Russia at the head, it was operated as a brutal and repressive Communist dictatorship. When the Bloc dissolved, accompanied by extreme social disruption and misery (especially in Russia), it was gradually replaced by a repressive Communist oligarchic dictatorship. Vladimir Putin is the repressive Communist oligarch in charge now and for the foreseeable future, who admitted publicly in a news conference, that he supported Trump's first presidential campaign.

Branson Hunter

TT, you are right about 50 m. You are wrong about Cuba, Cuba is not a socialist country Cuba is a communist country. Now we have the cookie red-baiting. You confuse hate and Loathing with those people who are concerned about our environment. If you don't understand that you are ignorant.


You are wrong again Branson. Constitutionally, Cuba is a socialist country ruled by the dictates of Marxism. You even stated that it was a socialist country yesterday. Did a revolution or something occur last night that I missed? I must have not noticed the CNN breaking news story. Sorry but I could not interpret the rest of your comment.

Branson Hunter

TT, I don't think either of us have time debating communism vs. Capitalism. The world has changed so much since the 1950s. Only a fool or a low informed person would want to live under communism. That's not an issue in our country. I'm out.

bill jenkins

as bad as he was, i'll bet there are a lot of old time cubans who would tell you life under castro was a lot better than that under batista.


In terms of absolute oppression, suffering, death and destruction of adversaries, and striking so much fear in the heart's and minds of it's citizens that no one could muster the will to resist, Castro's regime made life much more worse than the corrupt thuggish rule of Batista's. Those hundred's of thousands of "old time Cubans" that fled Cuba after Castro's revolution in 1959 could attest to that. Only a faithful believer in the Marxist ideology would insinuate that life was much better under the control of Castro.

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