Interview With Prof. J K Galbraith Q: Was the Cold War necessary?
Interview With Prof. J K Galbraith
Q: Was the Cold War necessary?
A: Well there was a cer - it - One has to - The question arises, should there have been a Cold War? There shouldn't have been. They - both on the side of the Soviet Union and on the side of the western countries, and particularly United States, there were exaggerated attitudes of conflict which built on themselves and which emerged as the Cold War. A wiser, more benign, more democratic policy in eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union, somebody other than Joseph Stalin - if it had have been Gorbachev it would have been quite different - And the militant right wing attitudes in the United States and the larger fear of Communism, and the larger support for democracy, one mustn't deny that, all brought the Cold War. So the question is not whether it was avoidable or not, it was inevitable. Whether it was necessary is something else again.
Q: What was the worst moment as far as you're concerned of the Cold War?
A: Oh, there were several, but I suppose, like so many others, I saw the worst moment of the Cold - Cold War as the Cuban Missile Crisis. I was in India at that time and much concerned with the attack by the Chinese in the Himalayas and, I got a telegram from Washington, one of the oddest telegrams I ever received, saying: the total concern in Washington is with the missile crisis, so you must handle your crisis. And I accepted that and tried to turn my mind away from what was happening in Cuba. But I don't think there's any doubt that that was the extreme moment of the Cold War.
(end of roll)
PROF J.K. GALBRAITH, CONT.
Q: Professor Galbraith, what did the Cold War achieve?
A: You know, what did the Cold War achieve? There's no question, no doubt, it affirmed democratic values. Affirmed the superior performance of the market system, and showed that there was an organisation of society, broad - which I would broadly characterise as welfare capitalism, which had strengths of its own and which would become, in some degree, the established model for all countries.
Q: What else did it do, what did it arrest, what did it change?
A: Well it turned back monolithic state, government, economy, showed that the subordination of the individual to the staand to the economic life of the state, was sometthat could not be sustained. It was - it showed that liberal, free expression, was the normal and accepted fact of modern life.
Q: What brought the Cold War to an end?
A: This is still much discussed, and there is still a lot of nonsense on the subject. It was brought - it is said for example, that our arms expenditure under Ronald Reagan forced an arms expenditure on the Soviet Union that it couldn't afford and so impoverished the country that Communism broke down. That I regard as arrant nonsense. There were two factors that brought Communism to an end in Europe. One, the least important, but not unimportant, was the fact that while the Soviet system and western - eastern European Communism, was on the whole rather good at producing heavy industry. Dams, irrigation projects, armaments of course, transportation. It was very bad at producing consumer goods, which are flexible, change rapidly, styles, designs, these could not be accommodated to the planning system, to a rigid planning system. And yet for better or worse they're something by which people set great store and increasingly the people of the Soviet Union and eastern Europe saw the much higher consumer living standards of the west and became dissatisfied with what their own system was doing in this regard. But there was another, more important factor which I particularly emphasise. There had been enough economic development in the Soviet Union, as happened in other countries -
A: There was another development that has been little recognised and I regard as much more important, and that is that there had been enough economic development in the Soviet Union, a great deal in fact, so that it had brought into existence the enormous number of people that are the children of economic development. The journalists, the television people, the poets, the artists, the lawyers, the businessmen. The professors - I mention particularly the professors - and the students, all of whom, as I say, are brought into existence at a high level of economic development, and there are more of them than you can keep quiet. They all demand voice. They all demand some role in their government. So that economic development is associated very closely with the development of democratic voice, and that this was - that Russia, the Soviet Union and eastern European Communism, came eventually to an end because there were - it brought into existence far more people than would accept dictatorship, would accept silence.
cut (end of interview)