The Wave of the Past
One of the more interesting side-effects of the crisis of Communism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union has been the discredit into which the socialist idea has suddenly fallen in what used to be called the Third World. It was in these countries, after all—Algeria, Guinea, Cuba, Sri Lanka—that the socialist model of development, as embodied first and foremost in the Soviet Union itself, was supposed to have particular relevance, since (we were often told) in less than two generations it had transformed the semi-Asiatic peasant society of Russia into a global superpower. For non-Western countries, or, rather, for the leaders of their successful anti-colonial movements, the Bolshevik Revolution was therefore not merely an episode in the history of an individual European country, but a new chapter in the evolution of mankind.
Of course, one of the things which made the socialist model so compelling in the years since World War II was precisely the fact that it was endorsed (for non-Western countries) by a liberal “development establishment” in Western Europe and the United States. It was the advanced West—prosperous, well-ordered, and decidedly non-socialist—which devised most of the post-colonial prescriptions for the “developing” countries, and dispensed them through international agencies, foundations, and study groups which they also generally funded and staffed, and to some extent still do.
About the Author
Mark Falcoff is resident scholar emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.