Speculative history: If the USSR hadn't been a socialist/communist state from 1917, would they now be ahead of (or behind) the US as a world power?
There’s clearly no real answer – this is all speculation.
Suppose that the USSR hadn’t been socialist. Supposing they had been a free market economy instead of planned economy. Suppose that instead of throwing dissidents in the gulags, they had put them to work and harnessed the power of peoples’ minds.
Would the Soviet Union have fallen? (My answer: no. For lots of reasons but creature comforts are a big one)
Would they have been leaders in science and technology, instead of stealing from the West?
Would the Soviet Union be ahead of the US in economic growth and standard of living? (My answer: possibly, largely because of their oil and other natural resources)