With a PoD of around March 1917 (when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne of Russia), what would have been the best possible outcome for the Russian Empire/Soviet Union by the close of the 20th century? Avoiding war and/or keeping the USSR intact is not required if you do not feel it is possible. People often argue that many aspects of the USSR (its command economy, Stalin's rise, its ultimate collapse) were inevitable, so my goal with this discussion is simply to understand what was possible and what wasn't.

I've seen/heard various arguments for a more pluralistic government, a more open economic system, a more consumer-driven economy, no glasnost, etc. The Soviet Union's antiquated agricultural sector was also a serious pain point, as was their poorly conceived and executed programs of collectivization, not to mention the arguably insane views some elites had regarding genetics and agronomy.

I personally believe that some state planning was beneficial, at least at first. I believe that at some point, however, it would have been best for the central government to begin opening up the economy little by little. This might have required an ASB level of wisdom, forethought, and selflessness on the part of the Communist Party however, which leads me to believe that any changes needed to seriously benefit Russia/USSR would need to be made in the critical months after Tsar Nicholas II's abdication, otherwise it is too late. However, I would be interested to hear any opposing views on the subject.

Before you respond, PLEASE do not post a one-sentence response like "No Stalin" or "No WW2". Please explain your answer!
 
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Ficboy

Banned
With a PoD of around March 1917 (when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated the throne of Russia), what would have been the best possible outcome for the Russian Empire/Soviet Union by the close of the 20th century? Avoiding war and/or keeping the USSR intact is not required if you do not feel it is possible. People often argue that many aspects of the USSR (its command economy, Stalin's rise, its ultimate collapse) were inevitable, so my goal with this discussion is simply to understand what was possible and what wasn't.

I've seen/heard various arguments for a more pluralistic government, a more open economic system, a more consumer-driven economy, no glasnost, etc. The Soviet Union's antiquated agricultural sector was also a serious pain point, as was their poorly conceived and executed programs of collectivization, not to mention the arguably insane views some elites had regarding genetics and agronomy.

I personally believe that some state planning was beneficial, at least at first. I believe that at some point, however, it would have been best for the central government to begin opening up the economy little by little. This would have required an ASB level of wisdom, forethought, and selflessness on the part of the Communist Party, which leads me to believe that any changes needed to seriously benefit Russia/USSR would need to be made in the critical months after Tsar Nicholas II's abdication, otherwise it is too late. However, I would be interested to hear any opposing views on the subject.

Before you respond, PLEASE do not post a one-sentence response like "No Stalin" or "No WW2". Please explain your answer!
Have the Whites win the Russian Civil War and a Kerensky-led democratic republic to modernize Russia.
 

Ulyanovsk

Donor
Have the Whites win the Russian Civil War and a Kerensky-led democratic republic to modernize Russia.
If Russia descends into formal Civil War, Kerensky is not returning and a democratic republic is pretty unlikely outcome of any White victory born from a slugfest against the Bolsheviks.
 

Ulyanovsk

Donor
For a quick answer, if you want a liberal democracy (albeit probably unstable), it would be for Petrograd to rise up in a premature rebellion against the Provisional Government in July and something á la the Paris Commune or Cavaignac's June Days would essentially eliminate much of the hard political left/sectors of the revolutionary working class. The PG would then need to defend itself from advances on the right, including a significant portion of the officer corps that are fundamentally opposed to Kerensky's government. If they can manage this (and somehow pass a peace deal with the Germans despite intense opposition) then maybe you'd have a chance at a liberal Russian Republic (albeit shaky) governing Russia. I suspect this state would still resort to some of the Bolshevik economic policies simply due to the nature of governing Russia during this time period and making the initial steps into a Western European capitalist system in the aftermath of the First World War will be difficult.

Perhaps not an objectively good solution for most Russians, but as far as the alternatives go it's among the better options. There are some outcomes with a more benign left wing movement in control of Russia that could be "good", but again it faces a very tall order in governing Russia and by 1917 pretty much every outcome is going to have some rough days ahead...
 
For a quick answer, if you want a liberal democracy (albeit probably unstable), it would be for Petrograd to rise up in a premature rebellion against the Provisional Government in July and something á la the Paris Commune or Cavaignac's June Days would essentially eliminate much of the hard political left/sectors of the revolutionary working class. The PG would then need to defend itself from advances on the right, including a significant portion of the officer corps that are fundamentally opposed to Kerensky's government. If they can manage this (and somehow pass a peace deal with the Germans despite intense opposition) then maybe you'd have a chance at a liberal Russian Republic (albeit shaky) governing Russia. I suspect this state would still resort to some of the Bolshevik economic policies simply due to the nature of governing Russia during this time period and making the initial steps into a Western European capitalist system in the aftermath of the First World War will be difficult.

Perhaps not an objectively good solution for most Russians, but as far as the alternatives go it's among the better options. There are some outcomes with a more benign left wing movement in control of Russia that could be "good", but again it faces a very tall order in governing Russia and by 1917 pretty much every outcome is going to have some rough days ahead...
I agree with your last point, there would be some rough days indeed. I could only imagine the level of cultural and political turmoil a Weimar-esque Russia would experience. I suppose that's the fundamental problem - there's a spectrum of freedom (instability) and control (oppression) with the added factor of foreign aggression thrown in, which of course pushes Russia more into the control side. Obviously the best scenario is more democracy, more prosperity, and more peace, but those aren't always available.
 
OTL wasn't too bad considering the USSR became a superpower and all that. The main issue in my opinion would be to avoid the collapse of the Soviet Union and/or simply transition to another union-like state which still encompasses the same territories that the old union had.
 
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