Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

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Simon_Jester
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-24 12:18pm

FTeik wrote:Only I wasn't answering to BabelHunter, but to CruelDwarf, who argued, that WWII was the deciding factor for the poor economic development of the Sovietunion, not communism.
My apologies for the tone of my post, if it was bothersome.

Simon_Jester wrote:On the other hand, it was clearly not the responsibility of communism that the Soviets were invaded during World War Two.
To be honest I'm a little ambivalent on the invasion of the Soviet-Union. Not on the fact, that more than twenty million people died, the destruction and the suffering. That was and is horrible, inhuman and barbaric. On the other side the Sowiets were already occuppying the Baltic States, the Ukraine, they had shown themselves to be a murderous regime intent on spreading their ideology and they were conspiring with the Nazis to invade and divide Poland between them. And then they end as one of the winners of World War II, sit as judges at the Nuremberg Trials and their influence reaches into the centre of Europe.
While this is the case, it does not validate the German invasion of the USSR, nor does it make said invasion a consequence of communism. The Nazi decision to become fanatically anti-Bolshevik is not something the Bolsheviks themselves are responsible for. Hitler's belief that Germany needed Lebensraum to the east wasn't either. This was not a case of "you reap what you sow."

Thus, the basic point remains valid that nothing inherent in the nature of communism leads to Nazi invasions destroying much of the country. You can reasonably argue that there is something inherent in communism that leads to bureaucratic central planning or dictatorship, because that's a recurring pattern in many communist countries. But you cannot argue that Operation Barbarossa was somehow "communism's fault."

Simon_Jester wrote: Nor was it the responsibility of communism that Czarist Russia was inherently a poorer country than its rivals further west in 1913.
No it wasn't, but it was perhaps the one condition, that allowed the Revolution to succeed in Russia, when similar revolutions failed everywhere else.
Which is irrelevant to the question at hand. Even if communism is only adopted by poor countries, that doesn't mean we should expect it to magically turn those poor countries into rich countries in a generation or two. It is sufficient if they turn poor countries into less-poor countries, at a rate competitive with other economic systems.

Simon_Jester wrote:So when comparing the Second World (the Soviet bloc) to either the First World or the Third, we should control for only those variables which were not caused by the actions of the communists from 1917 through 1991. Russia being significantly poorer per capita than, say, Germany or the US falls into this category, and should be controlled for. Russia being hit with political purges and ideologically motivated disruptions of agriculture does not fall into that category, and should not be controlled for.

Fair is fair.
I have to disagree on this. Russia might have started poorer per capita than Germany and the US but since the poor decisions of first the tsarist regime and then the communists are responsible for the situation not improving as well as it could...
Firstly, the communists cannot be blamed for the actions of the Czars, or vice versa. They were literally mortal enemies. Evils and follies committed by one simply cannot be attributed to the other. We could choose to attribute both sets to "Russians" in general, to be sure. But then you are no longer making an argument about the merits or lack of merits of communism. You are making an argument about the merits of Russians.

(denying people things like freedom and education (although the communists worked on that), killing millions of their own people in purges and famines caused by communist mismanagment, eridacating the non-communist intelligenzia - all those things didn't help with economic development. (Communist) Russia has/had lots of space, lots of people and lots of resources (which makes it similar to the US), it only has/had to use them. So perhaps they might not be/have become as rich as the US or Germany, but they might have been better of, than they were under communist rule.
Perhaps, but we will never know, because there is no other country with such a vast amount of land and resources and people at its disposal that we can use for a controlled experiment.

The two countries most easily compared in terms of having great wealth, resources, and room for internal expansion in the 20th century are the US and Russia. And the fact is, that in 1913 (shortly before the communists took power in Russia), the US was four times as rich as Russia. In 1973, the US was three times richer than Russia.

The outcomes are very different, but so are the starting conditions, so it is difficult to make any meaningful claim about who accomplished how much relative to the other.

Alternatively, we can compare countries whose starting conditions are similar in some ways, and measure those outcomes.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby FTeik » 2016-08-24 01:26pm

Simon_Jester wrote:
FTeik wrote:Only I wasn't answering to BabelHunter, but to CruelDwarf, who argued, that WWII was the deciding factor for the poor economic development of the Sovietunion, not communism.
My apologies for the tone of my post, if it was bothersome.


No problem.

[quote=Simon_Jester"]
Simon_Jester wrote:On the other hand, it was clearly not the responsibility of communism that the Soviets were invaded during World War Two.
To be honest I'm a little ambivalent on the invasion of the Soviet-Union. Not on the fact, that more than twenty million people died, the destruction and the suffering. That was and is horrible, inhuman and barbaric. On the other side the Sowiets were already occuppying the Baltic States, the Ukraine, they had shown themselves to be a murderous regime intent on spreading their ideology and they were conspiring with the Nazis to invade and divide Poland between them. And then they end as one of the winners of World War II, sit as judges at the Nuremberg Trials and their influence reaches into the centre of Europe.
While this is the case, it does not validate the German invasion of the USSR, nor does it make said invasion a consequence of communism. The Nazi decision to become fanatically anti-Bolshevik is not something the Bolsheviks themselves are responsible for. Hitler's belief that Germany needed Lebensraum to the east wasn't either. This was not a case of "you reap what you sow."

Thus, the basic point remains valid that nothing inherent in the nature of communism leads to Nazi invasions destroying much of the country. You can reasonably argue that there is something inherent in communism that leads to bureaucratic central planning or dictatorship, because that's a recurring pattern in many communist countries. But you cannot argue that Operation Barbarossa was somehow "communism's fault." [/quote]

And if it hadn't been the Nazis, who invaded? If it had been someone "civilized, enlightened" with the intention of freeing the suppressed masses and overthrow a murderous regime? I can name at least two instances, where the West did exactly that in the not so recent past (former Yugoslavia and Iraq). But all speculating aside, the communists were the main contenders of the Nazis in the streets and during the election of 1932 as far as radical and anti-capitalist/anti-democratic idealogy went. Not to mention the world-wide ambitions of both idealogies, which made them "natural" enemies (Volksgemeinschaft VS Proletariat). Also depending on what the Nazis knew about the communists in Russia and their conduct, weren't they justified to fear the same happening to them? After all they had come to power in a similar unstable political climate, they used the same tools of oppression and terror. "If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword" - is it so unreasonable for them to assume, that sooner or later it will come to an "us or them"?

Simon_Jester wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote: Nor was it the responsibility of communism that Czarist Russia was inherently a poorer country than its rivals further west in 1913.
No it wasn't, but it was perhaps the one condition, that allowed the Revolution to succeed in Russia, when similar revolutions failed everywhere else.
Which is irrelevant to the question at hand. Even if communism is only adopted by poor countries, that doesn't mean we should expect it to magically turn those poor countries into rich countries in a generation or two. It is sufficient if they turn poor countries into less-poor countries, at a rate competitive with other economic systems.


Simon_Jester wrote:So when comparing the Second World (the Soviet bloc) to either the First World or the Third, we should control for only those variables which were not caused by the actions of the communists from 1917 through 1991. Russia being significantly poorer per capita than, say, Germany or the US falls into this category, and should be controlled for. Russia being hit with political purges and ideologically motivated disruptions of agriculture does not fall into that category, and should not be controlled for.

Fair is fair.
I have to disagree on this. Russia might have started poorer per capita than Germany and the US but since the poor decisions of first the tsarist regime and then the communists are responsible for the situation not improving as well as it could...
Firstly, the communists cannot be blamed for the actions of the Czars, or vice versa. They were literally mortal enemies. Evils and follies committed by one simply cannot be attributed to the other. We could choose to attribute both sets to "Russians" in general, to be sure. But then you are no longer making an argument about the merits or lack of merits of communism. You are making an argument about the merits of Russians.[/quote]

My point was that communism wouldn't have had a chance to turn a poor country into a less poor country, if that country hadn't been so poor before, that a communist revolution had an actual chance of success. So independant of the enmity between Tsar and Bolsheviks, the tsarists regime's mismanement became essential for the rise of the Bolsheviks and communism's chance at running a country.

And my actual argument was more "communist Russia would have ended being a lot less poor compared to just less poor than tsarist Russia, if they hadn't used such extreme and murderous policies". You can't fully concentrate on your work, if you constantly have to fear, that the Tcheka comes knocking.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby FTeik » 2016-08-24 01:54pm

Since the prior post didn't turn out as desired and because the "[quotes]" and "[/quotes]" got too confusing. My apologies for any violation of board-policy.

@Simon_Jester:

1) No problem.

2) Unjustified invasion by the Nazis.

And if it hadn't been the Nazis, who invaded? If it had been someone "civilized, enlightened" with the intention of freeing the suppressed masses and overthrow a murderous regime? I can name at least two instances, where the West did exactly that in the not so recent past (former Yugoslavia and Iraq).
But all speculating aside, the communists were the main contenders of the Nazis in the streets and during the election of 1932 as far as radical and anti-capitalist/anti-democratic idealogy went. Not to mention the world-wide ambitions of both idealogies, which made them "natural" enemies (Volksgemeinschaft VS Proletariat). Also depending on what the Nazis knew about the communists in Russia and their conduct, weren't they justified to fear the same happening to them? After all they had come to power in a similar unstable political climate, they used the same tools of oppression and terror. "If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword" - is it so unreasonable for them to assume, that sooner or later it will come to an "us OR them"? And considering how gladly the Western Allies accepted the help of the Sovietunion against Hitler-Germany, would it be so unreasonable to assume, that today we would look more favourably at Hitler-Germany, if things had been reversed (Hitler-Germany not the devil you fought, but the devil you allied with during WWII) and Hitler-Germany had helped the West to bring down an expanding Communism?

Not that I AM trying to justify Barbarrossa, but approaching this from the POV of two evils ... . :-? My apologies, if I can't explain it more clearly.

3) Communist fault for Russia being poor and not being at fault for the actions of the Tsar.

My point was more that communism wouldn't have had a chance to turn a poor country into a less poor country, if that country hadn't been so poor before, that a communist revolution had an actual chance of success. So independant of the enmity between Tsar and Bolsheviks, the tsarists regime's mismanement became essential for the rise of the Bolsheviks and communism's chance at running a country.

And my actual argument was more "communist Russia could have ended being a lot less poor compared to just less poor than tsarist Russia, if they hadn't used such extreme and murderous policies". You can't fully concentrate on your work, if you constantly have to fear, that the Tcheka comes knocking.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-24 02:56pm

[Text deleted, pending a reply to FTeik's second post]
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-24 03:24pm

FTeik wrote:@Simon_Jester:

2) Unjustified invasion by the Nazis.

And if it hadn't been the Nazis, who invaded? If it had been someone "civilized, enlightened" with the intention of freeing the suppressed masses and overthrow a murderous regime? I can name at least two instances, where the West did exactly that in the not so recent past (former Yugoslavia and Iraq).
This is an extremely uncertain "what if" scenario. It didn't actually happen, it didn't actually come close to happening.

Foreign invasions are not an inherent property of communist economic policy. There is no compelling evidence that they are correlated with communist economic policy, except insofar as hostile enemies committed to attacking communists decide to seek out and target communist nations for destruction.

Being unpopular is not the same as being responsible for what happens when someone else decides to attack you.

It is ridiculous and loathsome to try and blame the USSR for the damage inflicted by the German invasion as though this is somehow an inherent cost of their economic model.

But all speculating aside, the communists were the main contenders of the Nazis in the streets and during the election of 1932 as far as radical and anti-capitalist/anti-democratic idealogy went. Not to mention the world-wide ambitions of both idealogies, which made them "natural" enemies (Volksgemeinschaft VS Proletariat). Also depending on what the Nazis knew about the communists in Russia and their conduct, weren't they justified to fear the same happening to them? After all they had come to power in a similar unstable political climate, they used the same tools of oppression and terror. "If you live by the sword, you will die by the sword" - is it so unreasonable for them to assume, that sooner or later it will come to an "us OR them"?
The fact that there was political rivalry between communists and Nazis in Germany does not mean the communists in Russia somehow brought the German invasion upon themselves. There is nothing in the nature of communism that causes other ideologies in foreign countries to decide to wage apocalyptic war against communism.

Blaming the victim is absurd in a case like this.

And considering how gladly the Western Allies accepted the help of the Sovietunion against Hitler-Germany, would it be so unreasonable to assume, that today we would look more favourably at Hitler-Germany, if things had been reversed (Hitler-Germany not the devil you fought, but the devil you allied with during WWII) and Hitler-Germany had helped the West to bring down an expanding Communism?

Not that I AM trying to justify Barbarrossa, but approaching this from the POV of two evils ... . :-? My apologies, if I can't explain it more clearly.
I think the reason you're struggling to explain it clearly is because there's a fracture in the underlying logic.

You're trying to say there is something about communism that justifies people in invading communist countries and causing damage to them.

You're trying to do that without justifying Barbarossa and the genocidal intentions of Nazi Germany.

The problem is that these two things are tied together, and cannot be separated.

Remember that the Nazis did their best to saturate Nazi-occupied Europe with "crusade against Bolshevism" propaganda, in order to recruit supporters for their campaign on the Eastern Front. Everything they did along these lines was intended to serve Germany's long term goal to become the overlords of Europe, with Poland and Russia as a vast agricultural domain full of German colonists and a dwindling, destroyed population of Slavic remnants.

The Nazi decision to wage a war against Russia was based in their own racial ideology of anti-Slavic hatred and their own desire to advance their own perceived racial interests as Aryans. While they considered the destruction of communism a desirable war aim on general principles, it was largely coincidence for them that the nation they most desired to conquer happened to also be the center of international communism.

If the Nazis had been motivated by anti-Communism, they would have allied with the right-wing Poland of the 1930s against the Soviets, not the other way around. But instead, their goal was "divide et impera." They acted accordingly.

Since no other, non-aggressive nation ever targeted the Soviet Union for invasion, it is simply not possible to separate "invasions of the Soviet Union" from the aggressive racist character of the Nazi regime.

3) Communist fault for Russia being poor and not being at fault for the actions of the Tsar.

My point was more that communism wouldn't have had a chance to turn a poor country into a less poor country, if that country hadn't been so poor before, that a communist revolution had an actual chance of success. So independant of the enmity between Tsar and Bolsheviks, the tsarists regime's mismanement became essential for the rise of the Bolsheviks and communism's chance at running a country.
What of it? There are plenty of mismanaged countries in the world. Communism did not thrive in all or even most of them. We cannot somehow assume that communism is to blame for Czarist Russia being in a poor state. Nor can we somehow call it a failure of communism that it emerged in a poor country instead of a rich one.

And my actual argument was more "communist Russia could have ended being a lot less poor compared to just less poor than tsarist Russia, if they hadn't used such extreme and murderous policies". You can't fully concentrate on your work, if you constantly have to fear, that the Tcheka comes knocking.
This I will freely concede. The difficulty is that even with the murderous policies, it is far from obvious that communism was ineffective at bringing economic development to Russia.

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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby crueldwarf » 2016-08-24 03:49pm

FTeik wrote:Only I wasn't answering to BabelHunter, but to CruelDwarf, who argued, that WWII was the deciding factor for the poor economic development of the Sovietunion, not communism.

It is rather obvious that a war which wiped out about quarter-to-third of your economical potential is a deciding factor for the economic development. And I still do not understand why people consider Soviet Union economical development as 'poor'. It was insanely good. In fact it was so good that modern capitalist Russia still lives from things that were build by ineffective Soviet Union.

(Communist) Russia has/had lots of space, lots of people and lots of resources (which makes it similar to the US), it only has/had to use them. So perhaps they might not be/have become as rich as the US or Germany, but they might have been better of, than they were under communist rule.

I must point out that communism is essentially extinct in Russia for more than a quarter of century now. And Russia with its current practically unrestricted capitalism was able to reach late Soviet Union standard of living in the middle of 2000s. So again what I see here is a total lack of correlation between dominant economic model and prosperity.

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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-24 06:36pm

Ultimately, most of the bad things about communism as such can be handwaved as flaws in the Russian political system. The problem is that communism by nature makes the economy extremely vulnerable to flawed government.

If the government is dominated by generals who seek to optimize their nation's military power and don't really care how much a weapon costs as long as building it is physically possible... Under capitalism, this can only do so much harm, because the government can't get weapons it's unable to pay for. There's a limit on what fraction of the total resources of the economy the government can commit to that.

Under communism, there is no such limit. Your nation can easily be producing masses of redundant tank designs and jets it doesn't really need and bizarre boondoggle weapons, even while the domestic economy struggles to provide what are by late 20th century standards basic comforts and possessions to the general public (i.e. cars and computers).

So if we see a problem in communist Russia that is clearly caused by the Russian government, blaming it on communism is understandable. However, a problem that existed before the communists took power, or that was a direct result of a decision made by foreign non-communists, is not something we can justly blame on communism.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2016-08-25 11:55am

crueldwarf wrote:And I still do not understand why people consider Soviet Union economical development as 'poor'. It was insanely good. In fact it was so good that modern capitalist Russia still lives from things that were build by ineffective Soviet Union.


They had good rebound-from-devastation growth in the 1950s and 1960s (aside from agriculture problems), but that stopped working in the 1970s and growth drastically slowed down (the problems of which they patched over with oil exports). That's not exactly a new point - economists have been saying for decades that the Soviets had good GDP growth from mobilization of resources in the 1950s, but eventually ran out of steam because of the problems with the planning system and low productivity.

Also, just about every economy in Europe had strong postwar growth.

crueldwarf wrote:Secondly, devastation level is not really comparable either. Only North was subjected to a systematic bombing campaign of such magnitude that by the end of the war US Strategic Air command essentially run out of targets to bomb. And they simply continued to bomb random civilian targets to apply more pressure on North Koreans on the peace talks. North Korean industry was literally leveled during the war and for the most of the time the war itself was waged on North Korean territory while South Korea was subjected to the effects of the war in the beginning only when North Koreans hoped to capture the country intact, so they didn't engage in the campaign of the systematic destruction of the infrastructure.


That explanation doesn't really work well when the prosperity in South Korea didn't begin until the 1960s. If it was the Korean War devastation was the deciding factor, then we'd expect the South to have an advantage over the North from right after the war onwards - but they didn't.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-08-25 05:11pm

Guardsman Bass wrote:That explanation doesn't really work well when the prosperity in South Korea didn't begin until the 1960s. If it was the Korean War devastation was the deciding factor, then we'd expect the South to have an advantage over the North from right after the war onwards - but they didn't.

What prosperity in the 1960s? South Korea was apparently poorer than the USSR until the mid-1980s.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-08-25 07:59pm

It occurs to me that South Korea enjoyed a major advantage North Korea lacked: the option of optimizing it for interaction with the large capitalist global market. They could take advantage of their extremely low conditions of development to focus on importing cheap industrial goods, then pour the resulting export income into building up their industrial capital and rapidly developing the country.

Capitalism makes it much easier to do that- but so does NOT living in a country whose trade with the outside world is limited by Cold War economic restrictions.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2016-08-26 12:51am

K. A. Pital wrote:
Guardsman Bass wrote:That explanation doesn't really work well when the prosperity in South Korea didn't begin until the 1960s. If it was the Korean War devastation was the deciding factor, then we'd expect the South to have an advantage over the North from right after the war onwards - but they didn't.

What prosperity in the 1960s? South Korea was apparently poorer than the USSR until the mid-1980s.


South Korea had strong development and growth from the 1960s onward. It probably was poorer than the USSR for much of that period, but it was also starting from a low base - it's like with China's development.

Simon_Jester wrote:It occurs to me that South Korea enjoyed a major advantage North Korea lacked: the option of optimizing it for interaction with the large capitalist global market.


South Korea's industrialization was export-led, so that's definitely true.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-08-26 02:35am

Not only that. South Korea demanded national loyalty from its nascent bouregoisie (the chaebol concept) to stem massive and ruining capital flight in the 1960s. Something the cleptocratic capitalists elsewhere in the Third World lack entirely.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby His Divine Shadow » 2016-08-26 07:08am

Or the west for that matter...
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Solo.13mmfmj » 2016-10-18 03:24pm

Here is a comparison between countries in literacy:
https://ourworldindata.org/literacy/
Imagine which countries population can more easily adapt maintain and develop technology in every way of life.

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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-10-18 03:47pm

Just like the Soviet union, it appears this thread is coming back
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-10-18 04:40pm

The Soviets were pretty much on the same level as other industrialized nations in terms of literacy- by the mid-1900s they didn't have 100% functional literacy, but then neither do we in America today. So I'm not sure what Solo's thesis is.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-10-19 05:30am

In the mid-1900s there was no USSR, only the Russian Empire. Its literacy situation was a product of typical evolution of a post-feudal entity. In the 1950s, USSR has achieved a 90% literacy or better, which in turn led to great successes in terms of implementing and/or inventing technological and sociological novel concepts.

What I find strange is the small decline in literacy in the USA. Does this mean they cannot keep universal literacy once it has been achieved?
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-10-19 10:34am

K. A. Pital wrote:What I find strange is the small decline in literacy in the USA. Does this mean they cannot keep universal literacy once it has been achieved?


Nah, that's more creditable to the collapse of public education thanks to overemphasizing tests to the detriment of financing schools and a fundamental misunderstanding of how education works in the ranks of government.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby madd0ct0r » 2016-10-23 12:35pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
K. A. Pital wrote:What I find strange is the small decline in literacy in the USA. Does this mean they cannot keep universal literacy once it has been achieved?


Nah, that's more creditable to the collapse of public education thanks to overemphasizing tests to the detriment of financing schools and a fundamental misunderstanding of how education works in the ranks of government.


The graph showed movement of about half a %? Probably a stastical artefact caused by changed reporting measures
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-10-24 09:47am

It is of paramount importance to achieve naval superiority... because humans are mostly made of water

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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-10-24 01:20pm

The question is, are we seeing a rise in "didn't read a book" from 2010 to 2015 because people are less literate? Or because they are spending more time on the Internet reading shorter articles and so on? I know I probably read LESS books than I did ten years ago... and considerably less than I did five years before that.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Elheru Aran » 2016-10-24 02:26pm

I'm with Simon. A downtick in reading rates isn't necessarily correlated to a downtick in literacy. It merely means that less people are spending their time reading books.
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Ziggy Stardust
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Ziggy Stardust » 2016-10-24 09:04pm

Yeah, those numbers are pretty meaningless without more context. I tried to go back to the original study to see how it was actually conducted, but so far as I can tell it comes from a 500 page report that I'm sure as hell not going to sift through, so our friend KA has to look through it himself if he wants to further support them.

In any case, as has already been mentioned, simply "reading a book" is not a suitable proxy for overall literacy, given current cultural and technological trends (including the massive proliferation of different types of reading materials that aren't necessarily books, plus "books on tape" which have now become more easily accessible as Internet content).

In addition, how did they define "reading a book"? Picking up a physical, bound book and reading it cover to cover? Does this count e-books (like on a Kindle)? Does this count collections of essays, poetry, or short stories? What about people (like me) who often switch between reading multiple books, and multiple other types of reading material aside, is that taken into account?

______

Though, to be fair, even though those particular statistics are rather nonsensical, KA Pital DOES point out rightly that the U.S. does have a big illiteracy problem. According to this article (though to be fair I haven't checked up on the source statistics to make sure HuffPo is reporting and interpreting them correctly), about 14% of the U.S. population is functionally illiterate (though I don't know precisely how they define that in this instance), and that this rate has remained about constant for about 10 years, meaning we haven't succeeded in fixing the source of that problem. This ranks poorly among other developed nations.

(Although, it also seems that the distribution of illiteracy in the US is concentrated almost overwhelmingly among older adults, with up to one third of people 65 and older being unable to read, so there is the possibility that the literacy rate actually HAS improved, but it won't reflect in the averaged-over-age statistics until this group has left the population)

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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby Simon_Jester » 2016-10-25 10:22am

Another issue is that a significant fraction of very old people may be rendered unable to read. People with advanced Alzheimer's or dementia cannot realistically read a book in any meaningful sense. We have a poster on this forum whose aging mother was rendered unable to read by a stroke, when she had been an avid reader all her life.
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Re: Why did the Soviet fail to develop a computer industry

Postby K. A. Pital » 2016-10-25 12:36pm

I did not just post the graph, you know, but also a link to an article.

Relevant fragment quoted:
LA Times wrote:Perusing deeper into the study (it’s available for download), one finds a table in which the results of two literacy tests, given in 1994 and 2012 are compared. People in their thirties and forties in 2012 scored significantly lower than people in their same age group in 1994. The drop among 30-year-olds was less dramatic.

I think if the same age cohort demonstrates lowering skills, this is not just simple ageing. This is the newer generations being less proficient.
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