Seems like the ongoing debate between socialism and capitalism misses the mark about quality of life in a society. The debate is about economics, jobs and material things. Other factors, such as religion and culture, may play far more significant roles related to human rights.
There can be oppressive regimes that lean toward capitalism, or socialism. I think today's Russia, under the oligarchs and anti gay religion, is probably worse than the Soviet Union in it's last years.
Of course, under Stalin, things were bad, but under Gorbachev things were going in better directions. Now it seems like Russia has taken a turn for the worse.
During glasnost and perestroika, human rights was making headway. Yes, the Soviet Union was also experimenting with more capitalism, such as the famous McDonalds at Pushkin Square.
I do believe that a mix of socialism and capitalism is the best way to go; rather than one extreme or the other. Still, that's just the economic system.
Seems like culture and interpretation of religion are more powerful forces shaping society. Some religious traditions are extremely strict while others are open to diversity of viewpoints.
Cultural factors, attitudes toward sexuality and societies under stress, such as war, are likely the major factors determining human rights and freedom of speech. Often societies that are stressed are in states of emergency and have things like military drafts.
For instance the Soviet Union may have broken up prematurely creating the chaos that drives fear and now is leading to war between Russia and Ukraine. In the long run, breakup may be inevitable, but it seems like change is more lasting when it happens incrementally.
Also the constant debate between socialist and capitalist economic models could be missing the boat all along.
I write these thoughts after hearing an interview, with someone from Bellingham Marxist School, on our local call in radio talk show KGMI Konnects. The guest was not defending Soviet oppression, but said it was likely better than Russia under the Czars.
I think in terms of how things started to get better toward the end of the Soviet Union, but now have gone down a less desirable road.
Discussions get me thinking, but seems like just about everyone does bark up the wrong trees. I say culture is more important than the economic system.