• After the USSR, People Discover Freedom Is Better — with One Important Caution

    Surge Summary: A poll of person’s now living in Central and Eastern Europe in the three decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union finds them generally more satisfied with the system of free markets and multi-party politics they now have than the dictatorial arrangement under which they’d lived previously.

    It’s been thirty years since the Soviet Union dissolved and lots has changed in Central and Eastern Europe. A new Pew Research Center study has registered some interesting, post-USSR, findings from that region.

    Gabriella Hoffman/The Resurgent relays:

    One of the most striking things is an overwhelming embrace of free markets by countries formerly occupied by the USSR. With the exception of Russia and Ukraine, countries like Poland, East Germany (now Germany), Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Lithuania, and Bulgaria generally approve of the shift from centrally-planned economies to market economies—plus multiparty political systems.

    First-hand experience with the Soviet system has taught these folks a valuable lesson: state-imposed tyranny is unpleasant; it doesn’t work.

    The survey, conducted between May 13 to August 12, 2019 and polling nearly 19,000 adults from fourteen European Union member nations (Russia, Ukraine and the United States included) discloses the residents of these previously oppressed countries generally believe living standards have improved over the course of the last three decades. Here’s more from the poll:

    On almost every aspect of life tested in 2019 – from education to national pride – people in the region today are generally convinced that the changes have had a good influence on their country.

    But on a more sobering note:

    fewer people across these countries think the changes have been good for family values, the state of health care and law and order compared with the other aspects tested.

    — thus, reminding them and us that economic freedom and advancement alone are not a panacea for every human woe. Human beings are not mere money-producing and consuming machines; homo economicus, as some ironically style them.  The soul cannot be satiated by dollars and material things alone.

    More interestingly, European attitudes diverged on the subject of democracy and internet freedom. Where Nordic and some Eastern European countries were greatly satisfied with democracy, the U.K., Spain, France, Hungary, Italy, Bulgaria, and Greece were not satisfied with how democracy has been playing out.

    (For a closer look at ten total post-Soviet European attitudes, click on this link here.)

    Overall, then, things seem to be better for people in those places previously smothered under Soviet-type command-and-control despotism. Free-market, democratic societies don’t guarantee a perfect, problem-free existence, mind you but, if I might partially channel Churchill here: they’re is the worst of all systems — except for every other system available to mankind.

    H/T: Gabriella Hoffman/The Resurgent

    Image: The fall of the Berlin Wall – November 1989; Creative Commons; CC by 2.0; https://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinandrewstewart/93222125

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