Predicting How The Soviet Union Would Fall Fifty Years In Advance

Eric Hoffer is one of my favorite philosophers and students of human nature. Not only was he ahead of his time, he was ahead of our time when it came to understanding certain facets of human nature. That doesn’t mean I agree with everything he wrote, but this guy was one sharp cookie.

How sharp?

His book that I’m reading now, The Ordeal of Change, was orginally published in 1964.

As he spoke about communism, I am amazed at how stunningly accurate he turned out to be about the conditions that led to the fall of the Soviet Union,

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“We are told that an absolutist Communist leadership can change its attitudes and policies from one extreme to another without the least regard to the reaction of the populace. Still there is one thing it cannot do without risk, and that is to relent and reform. De Tocqueville puts it rather strongly when he says that ‘nothing short of great political genius can save a long period of oppression.’ Basing myself on de Tocqueville’s observations, I suggested in 1950 that ‘a popular upheaval in Soviet Russia is hardly likely before the people get a real taste of the good life. The most dangerous moment for the regime of the Politburo will be when a considerable improvement in the economic conditions of the Russian masses has been achieved and the iron totalitarian rule somewhat relaxed. And again — the critical moment of the Communist regimes will come’ when they begin to reform, that is to say, when they begin to show liberal tendencies.”

So, what actually happened? Reagan put tremendous pressure on the Soviets, and Gorbachev, who was a diehard Commie, tried to save the Soviet Union with reforms: Perestroika & Glasnost. This led to its ultimate destruction, just as Hoffer predicted.

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