Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => The Russian Revolution => Topic started by: abbigail on January 31, 2010, 07:29:53 AM

Title: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: abbigail on January 31, 2010, 07:29:53 AM
(I looked this up in the search bar and found no specific topic titled this)

I'm trying to understand this better. From an ordinary human standpoint, it seems communism would work among a small population of people, but not so with a huge population (such as Russia). Can anyone explain why to me?
However, if you think it does work, or should, to some extent, please share your thoughts, because I'm interested in hearing all kinds of opinions.

Thank you very much.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Sergei Witte on February 02, 2010, 12:28:57 PM
Communism doesn't work because it means giving up your freedom. It is against human nature.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 02, 2010, 12:35:07 PM
Communism generally doesn't work well because people are motivated by self-interest. If they themselves don't directly benefit from their own effort and hard work, they get frustrated and unmotivated. Then society stagnates, like it did in the Soviet Union.

I'm trying to understand this better. From an ordinary human standpoint, it seems communism would work among a small population of people, but not so with a huge population (such as Russia). Can anyone explain why to me?

People can accept degrees communism in small groups (tribes, village mirs etc.) if they see that they could hardly survive on their own, that the community depends on some degree of collectivism in order to survive. This probably goes all the way back to the small packs of tribal hunter-gatherers in the Stone Age, so I wouldn't say, like Sergei Witte above, that it's against human nature.

But if the ones who benefit from your efforts just are a faceless "society at large", like in the Soviet Union, it does not work. In societies that have passed from the nomadic stage to the agricultural or even industrial level, people are less likely to share with their neighbours. They are possessive and want their own stuff. If they work hard, they want to see results like better food, better housing, a better life. They don't want to work to improve the lot of some members of "the great Soviet people" they don't even know.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Sergei Witte on February 04, 2010, 03:13:55 PM


People can accept degrees communism in small groups (tribes, village mirs etc.) if they see that they could hardly survive on their own, that the community depends on some degree of collectivism in order to survive.

Can you give me one example of a small communist state that works well and is lasting? I don't know of one.

You say that communism works well in a small society. Same could be said of democracy that works best in the old Greek city-states which invented democracy. But that isn't the point. The point is that democracy is chosen to be the statesform in most western countries and communism is not. And communism doesn't work because, like was proven by the Soviet economy, there are no stimuli to work hard. It is proven that workers who are forced to work hard, have lesser results than workers who work freely. Stalin thought he could make people work hard in the Goulags. But when he enforced tougher environment the production quota suffered.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: abbigail on February 04, 2010, 03:19:58 PM
Thank you both for your very helpful and insightful comments!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 04, 2010, 04:08:47 PM
People can accept degrees communism in small groups (tribes, village mirs etc.) if they see that they could hardly survive on their own, that the community depends on some degree of collectivism in order to survive.
Can you give me one example of a small communist state that works well and is lasting? I don't know of one.
Neither do I!
As you see I was thinking of smaller entities: Nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes (Native Americans, Inuits etc.) and villages were land was held in common, like in medieval Europe and Tsarist Russia (I.e. "the Russian village mir", especially after the emancipation of the serfs when land was held by the village mir in common and distributed and redistributed among the villagers by the village assembly. But even earlier if you ignore the feudal overlords as a small number of negligible parasites, you could view the unfree village communities of both medieval Europe and pre-emancipation Russia as small Communist communities. At least to the great mass of the people, the serfs themselves, who had to co-operate with their fellow villagers in order to cultivate their share of the village land, it worked as a kind of Communism. Especially when in the Early Middle Ages the means of production, the oxen for ploughing, were the joint property of the whole community.

NB: Even though all successfull democracies are more or less capitalistic, it's important to remember that democracy and capitalism is not the same. The world has never known a Communist state with free elections, multiple political parties, accountable government, freedom of speech and a free press, as far as I know. In theory it should be possible, at least politically, even though it might fail economically.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on February 10, 2010, 03:48:43 PM
Young Americans tried this type of living arrangement in the 1960s and early 1970s with their "communes" or communal living.

Again, in small groups, it seemed to work.  But as others have said, people need to be motivated with the achievement of individual goals not general goals and they become disenchanted.

Also, communism tried to work on the barter system, but if you don't have anything that I want, why would I want to barter with you for something I have that you want?

Communism is not an evil as we have come to see it in the 20th century.  It is a way of life.  Just not a way of life that most of us would want to live.

Actually the idea of living in a stress free commune sounds blissful to me.  I help you and you help me and we all profit from our own individual talents.

Stalin wasn't looking for that kind of community and he still wanted to be Tsar.  I think he corrupted the original idea and that too is why it didn't work.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 10, 2010, 04:22:55 PM
I must chime in here.  Cuba, does work, despite the  US embargo [no one else follows it].  They have excellent health care, food distribution and  housing. Not the the best, but  survivable.
 As for successful examples of small scale  Communism  works  quite well in monastic communities in  many religions. The theory is essential an economic practice, the problem occurs when it  becomes a large scale political  establishment. Rigid and unadaptable.  China, as an example, is still a Communist  country yet it prospers very well, while North Korea  starves most of the time. It is a matter of leadership.
  In my view, socialism,  on the Euro  model is the happy ideal.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on February 10, 2010, 04:33:05 PM
I think he corrupted the original idea and that too is why it didn't work.

Alixz, I must say that you little bit surprise me with this quote! I did not expect this from such an intelligent person. Moreover, I think that for any normal man the question "Why doesn't Communism work" is clear without any extra additions. I thought that at least in the U.S.A people are free from an endless socialist diseases (and monarchical) and do know exactly why Communism/Socialism doesn't work.

I can only continue your probable idea just for fun: If Mr Stalin would not be a "Tsar like" dictator, if he would continue the "Party line" and so on, if he would built typical communist/socialist state with equality, brotherhood, "no bourgeois" politics, state control economics, then this state might work!? I've been studying later Russian/Soviet period for a rather long time, and I never heard such ideas. I've been always thinking that the problem with Communism started not in Mr Stalin and his "Tsar" politics, it started much earlier. I think that the problem, is that any "Communism" like ideologies are absolutely unsuitable for human nature (at least for intelligent person with brains), and there is no difference in this case and no differences in "degrees of Communism/Socialism" - Stalin/Lenin/Marx and other "creative" men.

Only what you earned, only that you get. No absolute equality, brotherhood, equal money for all, working state control of economics and so on. Just my opinion.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: abbigail on February 10, 2010, 06:51:40 PM
Again, in small groups, it seemed to work.  But as others have said, people need to be motivated with the achievement of individual goals not general goals and they become disenchanted.


I agree. Another question:
If a group of people were recovering from a huge worldwide disaster, would a form of communism would work then--while dealing with basic recovery and reestablishment of govt, living situation, etc? Going by what you said about individual goals. (Sorry if this makes no sense.) I'm just looking for opinions.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 10, 2010, 08:02:30 PM
If a group of people were recovering from a huge worldwide disaster, would a form of communism would work then--while dealing with basic recovery and reestablishment of govt, living situation, etc? Going by what you said about individual goals. (Sorry if this makes no sense.) I'm just looking for opinions.
People have to co-operate and co-exist no matter which political model their society is based on. Because there will always be a society whereever humans live. Truly Communist in a Marxist sense it only becomes when the means of production are collectively owned and nobody can live off the work of others, for example by merely owning land, housing, businesses, machines and other forms of technology, shares, stock or capital. That is for me the essence of the Communist ideology.

Does anybody know what Marx thought about people getting wealthy strictly by their own personal work and not by "exploiting" (i.e. hiring) employees? 

I think we have to differentiate between Communism in the (utopian) Marxist sense above and different forms and degress of communalism, as in primitive hunter-gatherer societies, medieval agricultural communities, monastic and other religious communities, hippie communes etc. - even though they might overlap, especially if the members both own and work their means of production. (So monks living off outside charity or feudal property rents don't qualify in the strict sense.)


Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 10, 2010, 08:29:01 PM
The  monasteries I know produce their own  food and products,  share  them communally and  give away what they do not need.  Or sell the products for communal benefit.They sometimes receive receive endowments,  but not often. The old days of feudal lands are  long over!
 If Marx were to  be around to make an assessment now, I think [pure speculation, of course] he would expect those who have achieved more to share it  with those with less. That is the ideal.   In both situations, that is what communism is about- the ideal.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 10, 2010, 08:56:26 PM
Agreed, Communism is a political ideal and/or an analytical tool, not something the world has (yet) experienced.
If Marx were to  be around to make an assessment now, I think [pure speculation, of course] he would expect those who have achieved more to share it  with those with less.
On the contrary I think he would have expected class warfare and ultimate revolution. He was a German and believed in an Endlösung, not bumbling charity.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on February 10, 2010, 09:16:05 PM
Perhaps Communism would only work in an agrarian society.  Such as those that were tried here in the US.

However, Robert is right about Cuba and China and North Korea.  None of which are agrarian.  It is a matter of leadership.

There are those wealthy individuals who do share their wealth with those less fortunate than themselves in our times, but never would they give all and live equally with those whom they now try to help.

One of the things that I hear a lot of talk about lately is materialism and how it is affecting everyone.

I just watched a show about a monastery in Ann Arbor, Michigan and how the nuns live and why they are nuns in the first place and many of them gave up many material comforts to become nuns. One of the nuns said that materialism and conspicuous consumption was like a noise in her head that she couldn't get rid of.  She didn't like that noise and turned to the monastery as a place to become what she truly felt she could be.  Now I know that in any religious order the religion plays a very big part, but those communities are communal, as Robert said, and they do seem to work.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on February 10, 2010, 09:22:33 PM
I think he corrupted the original idea and that too is why it didn't work.

Alixz, I must say that you little bit surprise me with this quote! I did not expect this from such an intelligent person. Moreover, I think that for any normal man the question "Why doesn't Communism work" is clear without any extra additions. I thought that at least in the U.S.A people are free from an endless socialist diseases (and monarchical) and do know exactly why Communism/Socialism doesn't work.

I can only continue your probable idea just for fun: If Mr Stalin would not be a "Tsar like" dictator, if he would continue the "Party line" and so on, if he would built typical communist/socialist state with equality, brotherhood, "no bourgeois" politics, state control economics, then this state might work!? I've been studying later Russian/Soviet period for a rather long time, and I never heard such ideas. I've been always thinking that the problem with Communism started not in Mr Stalin and his "Tsar" politics, it started much earlier. I think that the problem, is that any "Communism" like ideologies are absolutely unsuitable for human nature (at least for intelligent person with brains), and there is no difference in this case and no differences in "degrees of Communism/Socialism" - Stalin/Lenin/Marx and other "creative" men.

Only what you earned, only that you get. No absolute equality, brotherhood, equal money for all, working state control of economics and so on. Just my opinion.

I am sure that you know more about the post revolution and the Stalin period than I do.  My area of study is 1860 to 1918, but I have never seen communism as an evil, just an idea that was corrupted.

As humans we are not capable of sharing our gains totally with others.  Our idea of self worth has never been what we do to help others but how much we own and how materially wealthy we are.  It is so very easy to write a check and feel satisfied with ourselves for "giving" than to truly roll up our sleeves and get dirty.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 10, 2010, 09:38:24 PM
 Fair enough, Roerik. I am not not familiar with the term you used, but Marx certainly did believe in a worker's revolution. This was a major goal of Lenin"s revolution- reclaiming the   efforts of the workers from the rich. At least that was the   idea. "from each" etc. I sometimes lament the fall of the Soviet system, but it was inevitable. It was deeply flawed, of course, but so are many capitalists systems. The Western economies are no prize either. In this country, we cannot even get a decent health care programme going.
 As for the monastic communities, they are Small yet viable- sharing the effort and rewards of their work. They are all over the world. and they continue to survive. Although I am no longer a religious person, I admire them.
 Stalin was another story altogether. I doubt he was much of a real Communist,  having studied him  quite  extensively.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on February 10, 2010, 09:58:40 PM
Fair enough, Roerik. I am not not familiar with the term you used, but Marx certainly did believe in a worker's revolution.
If you were wondering about the term Endlösung it means "final solution" in reference to Hitler and the Holocaust in German. Just in order to stress that there was a definite totalitarian and apocalyptic aspect to Marx's ideology with its class warfare, revolution and subsequent proletarian dictatorship. He doesn't appear like a guy who believed in charity and step-by-step reforms.

I agree that many monastic communities, also modern ones, are very interesting for their self-sufficency and communal way of life and work. However, since these communities aren't self-procreating, i.e. they need a constant outside influx of new recruits, they can only serve as an inspiration, not a model or a blueprint for humanity in general, insofar as the urge to provide (the best) for one's children is so very strong in humans (as well as in animals in general) and one of the reasons why Communism doesn't work very well.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 10, 2010, 10:42:01 PM
Thank you Roerik, I might have heard the term before, but never related it to Communism.  The  Final Solution was uniquely  a Hitler/ NS  concept. Another handful to deal with in a  forum.  I can play devil's advocate for  him as well,  but  not with much conviction.  Lenin just wanted to be rid of the "upper classes". Be done with them and build from the remains. It was a struggle and worked for a while,  but, houses of cards... like I said, the West is faring not much better, re; the current PIIGS   crisis in Europe.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 12, 2010, 04:15:21 PM
Communism may have looked good on paper, but in practice, it failed.  The main reason was because of human nature, namely greed and lust for power.  Look at how the Communist leaders of Eastern Europe lived, nice big houses (more than one for some of them), nice fancy cars (bought and shipped in from the West), gold, jewels, you name it.  These people were living the very life style they said they were against, I mean if you took them and plonked them down right in the middle of Beverly Hills, they would have been right at home!

The worst of the 1980's lot was Nicolae and Elena Ceaucescu of Romania.  Those two were Emperor and Empress for all intents and purposes, in that all the top posts were held by family members!  Ceaucescu was preparing his oldest son, Nicu, to take over  (just like Kim Jong Il who took over from his dad, Kim Il Sung, in North Korea).   This sounded more like an imperial dynasty than a Communist government.  After Ceaucescu's fall, newscrew went through one of his many houses and saw, and I'm not kidding, solid gold bathtub nozzles!

These guys may have started out as true Communists, but once they got into power, and saw all the goodies they, and those close to them, could have, they became nothing more than corrupt rich little Caesars.  Human nature.  That is why Communism didn't, and will never, work.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 12, 2010, 08:04:40 PM
be careful what terms you use.  Augustus Caesar had a good rule!!!!!!!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 12, 2010, 08:29:30 PM
And, be careful about those "solid gold bathroom nozzles" I have one from one of Saddam's palaces, same company that made them for the others, dictators or otherwise. They are NOT solid gold.  They are just gold plated!
 He was not a communist though.[Saddam]
 All these  foibles you bring up, TimM, They personality  displays. They have notthing to do with the political and econmic theory of Communism . There are plenty of Western and otherwise capitalist leaders with the same failure of character. [ Greed, power, privilege, etc]
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 12, 2010, 11:15:19 PM
Quote
There are plenty of Western and otherwise capitalist leaders with the same failure of character. [ Greed, power, privilege, etc]

Yes, but they never went around saying how bad it was.  The Communist leaders always preached that capitalism was bad, that it had rich and poor, greed and wealth.  Well, these same Communist leaders lived that very lifestyle they condemned as evil.  Bunch of hypocrites, all of them.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 12, 2010, 11:32:12 PM
No,  not all of them at all. Many every day members truly believed in what they were working towards.  Communism  is a state to be achieved, never a sate that existed,
 And as for Western leaders- talking about hypocrites !  Stealing aid money, build massive arms structures to control and terrorise their own people instead of feeding them.,  Lavish palaces in the middle of abject poverty.  Taking national resources and patrimony- not a few royal examples of that. Bribery, sexual and money scandals, ... the list goes on. The arrogance is just as bad, if not worse because of so much more being available to steal. The bankers  ripoff scandals, bastions of capitalism,  stealing and wasting other people's money.
 Both sides putting the other down when they both were doing  exactly the same thing. Including  massive  ethnic cleansing under any name.

 You must be very young TimM, not to see the lack of difference in the behavior of both.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 12, 2010, 11:51:31 PM
Actually no, I remember all of the 1980's, that's all you get about my age!

I never said that Western Leaders were good guys, hell, we have our share.  Look at Bush and Cheney, they went and started a war for no good reason.  Yet when Russia got in that war with Georgia a few years back, they were quick to condemn it.  In the 2008 campaign, John McCain said, in regards to Russa, "In the 21st Century, counties don't invade other countries."  Uh, John, hello?  Iraq?  An invasion you endorsed.  So I guess it was only evil if Russia was doing the invading.

In fact, Bush, Cheney, and all of them should be brought up on charges of war crimes for starting an illegal war, but they won't be, of course.   Is there any difference between Bush's invasion of Iraq and the Soviet invasions of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968.  Iraq was just as illegal as the Soviet invasions were.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 13, 2010, 12:26:14 AM
We agree on all of those points, TimM.  And, I was not asking for your age. I have had  the great benefit of a lot of world travel,   talented teachers from many different  viewpoints and  been witness to the massive social changes of the 60's- I was in them! Also, I have seen the bigotry, injustice and violence   in   this country, from the Klan and the Birchers, McCarthyism witchunts still existing, sadly. I am not THAT old, but I saw the remnants of it. Experienced it in the Deep South especially. 
 You raise  interesting points about the Russian treatment of Georgia. Disregarding those fools Bush & Cheney,  Georgia was a former  member of the USSR. It borders   Russia, after being integral for centuries. It was  acting with hostility with  a minority that considered itself  more Russian than Georgian. A very difficult call. That minority was not asked to be in Georgia, the borders were drawn by politicians, not the residents.
 McCain's criticism was taken for what it was worth- unthinking and useless contribution.
 Iraq was pure  revenge  invasion because of personal  prejudice [and perhaps guilt]  on the  part of  a totally  inept administration  in the US. Sure, Saddam had gold plated bathroom fixtures, but the Iraqi people   at least had running  water, electricity, food and reasonable security on the streets. Until  the US  bombed them to hell. For what gain? The price has been obscene in lives and money.
 This discussion could go on forever, and it has in many debates all over every country.
 However, as it stands, as I see it,  in the West,  capitalism is under a heavy burden of greed and especially  environmental  abuse, amongst other issues. Social structure not the least of them.
  The former  Communist states are still finding their way,  dealing with corruption and crime especially and    trying to refinance the socialist benefits the people once had [health, education, housing & jobs. Sound familiar ?]
 The true socialist states, mainly in Western Europe are trying to maintin and pay for those same benefits. And they are just becoming costlier to do so.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 13, 2010, 12:39:52 AM
I think anoher term for most of those who forged revolutions should be monomaniacal kleptocrats.  The first thing that Lenin bought himself after the revolution was a Patek Philippe watch. He also personally commandeered most of the Tsar's Rolls Royces for his personal use.  His idea of a worker's revolution was to kill off the people who shared the concept of a worker's revolution but differed in small details, like making Russia more democratic (the Menshaviks).  This was nothing short of the imposition of a narrow ideology and killing off anyone who didn't share that ideology.  The energy required to impose that narrow vision never lasts that long and once the material benefits (to the autocrats) subsumes the ideological imperative, then something gives.  I was in Poland in 1991 and the desire to shed communism was about improving people's quality of life more than anything.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 18, 2010, 03:05:28 PM
It appears that "socialism" and "communism" are being used here as if they are the same.  Lenin started out as a "socialist" ended up the creator of a country that would be lead by the "communist" Stalin, "the Bloody".  

If you would be so kind:  Please define what you believe the definitions for "socialism" and "communism"  are, then,  continue your thoughts because they are most interesting.

Can you, also,  answer me this:  Who was the first communist?


AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 18, 2010, 03:45:46 PM
Bear,, you, of all people should know the difference.
 Socialism is  a working policy of communal social benefit. It  works  under a free society and does not require   an actual  political party. Just the participation of the populace to pay for  such things as education, health  and housing [smetimes]  It does not "equals"e  by a classless society and  dislocate private property Capitalism  is free to work and prosper  in a socialist environment.
 Communism, on the other hand is definitely a political goal.   Abolition of classes and private property.  "to each according to  his/her needs, from each from his/ her ability?  is the idealistic  maxim. Usually a one-party state and controlled by  strongmen tactics.  Good intentions ruined by   megalomaniacs all too often.
 True  communism  is a goal that has never been achieved on any large scale. IMO, North Korea and pehaps Zibabwe are the  best examples of  attempts to achieve that state, and  both are tragic failures.
 You are correct- there is a lot of misconcenption, perception and prejuduce,  especially induced by propaganda and fear on BOTH sides.
 BTW, Const.  just what was the new government to do with all the inherited property from the former regime ?  It was only  commonon sense to use what was available, Rolls or  otherwise.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 18, 2010, 04:14:37 PM
I think the answer is balance and there are not many countries have achieved this.  They are basically a handfull and most of them are in Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland), the Netherlands, Switzerland and Austria are countries where they have balanced low unemployment, strong economies, good public sector policies and good standards of living.  Canada used to be one of these countries but there has been a huge evaporation of decent jobs.  Up to the 1970s, most western developed countries were easy to live in but due to the economic policies of the neocons, the growth of poverty and the concentratiion of wealth has eroded the middle class and cut deep into the working class. 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 18, 2010, 05:22:08 PM
Bear,, you, of all people should know the difference.
 Socialism is  a working policy of communal social benefit. It  works  under a free society and does not require   an actual  political party. Just the participation of the populace to pay for  such things as education, health  and housing [smetimes]  It does not "equals"e  by a classless society and  dislocate private property Capitalism  is free to work and prosper  in a socialist environment.
 Communism, on the other hand is definitely a political goal.   Abolition of classes and private property.  "to each according to  his/her needs, from each from his/ her ability?  is the idealistic  maxim. Usually a one-party state and controlled by  strongmen tactics.  Good intentions ruined by   megalomaniacs all too often.
 True  communism  is a goal that has never been achieved on any large scale. IMO, North Korea and pehaps Zibabwe are the  best examples of  attempts to achieve that state, and  both are tragic failures.
 You are correct- there is a lot of misconcenption, perception and prejuduce,  especially induced by propaganda and fear on BOTH sides.
 BTW, Const.  just what was the new government to do with all the inherited property from the former regime ?  It was only  commonon sense to use what was available, Rolls or  otherwise.


Const.,

Do you agree?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 18, 2010, 05:42:33 PM
Well not really because  while Switzerland fits those parameters, it isnt very socialist.  You need to have a high level of taxation to creat a redistribution of income as well.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 18, 2010, 08:51:37 PM
 Switzerland  does not fit into  the parameters I defined. It is not a  socialist republic.  It  is a country of fiercely independent cantons.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 18, 2010, 11:45:18 PM
Well considering the parameters you chose were: health, education, housing & jobs. Switzerland provides all of these, not in a monopolistic fashion but in the same way that the Scandinavian countries do or maybe I missed something.  Which Western European socialist republics were you referring to?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 19, 2010, 03:16:01 AM
 I stand corrected, Const.  By my own definition, Switzerland does, in some ways,  fit into the  definition. But not quite on the  scale of the  other socialist nations of Western Europe. [Alreaady mentioned]
 Obviously,  a socialist economy is not flawless nor cheap.  Some work, some do not, usually due to corruption and greed. [Greece!]  Switzerland, as I see it, is more of a weak federal republic,  somewhat like the USA,  in which the  individual states have more power in their own affairs. Not always to better effect. Of course, th\ose faults are not  endemic to any particular system. they are universal.
 It is interesting,  Const.  that when in  Amsterdam   last spring, I met a  whole gaggle of Canadians. They did not   actually know each other, but all were on their way back to Canada, after  some time living and working  in various  countries of Europe. The continent had just become too expensive  for them. In talking with them, they did  not seem to really know  what to ecpect in returning to their home country.  Especially in benefits. I have wondered what happened to Canada, on it's way to a socialist economy.
  I guess they are  finding out, as I write this.
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 19, 2010, 03:50:53 AM
Canada was never really socialist.  To understand what those Canadians are tallking about you have to understand the mentality of the government.  Canadian governments have rarely felt responsible to their polity.  They act like a colonial administration in that they are resposnible for but not to the Canadian people.  Canadians have less rights than Americans but probably more than Brits.  Only recently has a Canadian constitution been written and approved.  The last decent Prime Minister we had was Lester Pearson who governed around 1965. Pearson gave Canada its new flag, its pension plan, its medicare program and gave the world the UN peacekeepers.  Pearson's time was the last time there was really full employment.  Since that time, successive governments have built up debt, sold off crown corporations, allowed foreign multinationals to buy up Canadian companies, even in strategic industries and produced a wasteland for jobs.  There are a dearth of decent jobs for educated people now and the government has consistently changed things like unemployment insurance making it more and more difficult to qualify.  Added to this is the increased cost of education and the debt loads that Canadians bring into the world upon their graduation.  Then there are all the little tricks that Canadian governments play on their people like charging tax when it wasnt due and making the recipient of this little trick have to challenge revenue Canada in a tax court.  In one case, they charged one Canadian !,000,000 dollars that he didnt owe and during the audit seized all of the papers he had to support his case (they told him they were going to take them copy and return them, they took them and shredded them).  Then there are all the recent immigrants from places like Hong Kong who have pushed up the prices of real estate in Vancouver, which was another policy of the Canadian government.  Canada seems like a good place to be but for the average Canadian it is anything but a socialist paradise.  It is a place that is getting harder and harder to survive in.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 19, 2010, 08:44:50 AM
It is a place that is getting harder and harder to survive in.

Sounds pretty much like the rest of the world.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on July 19, 2010, 11:06:27 AM
I have a Jewish friend who gave up on the rat race in the 80's, emigrated to Israel, and has since lived on a Kibbutz. He has a stress free life and lives in a community where people support each other in all ways and where the important things in life come first. Greed, avarice, corruption and all the other things that have turned the American dream ( and therefore the world) into the economic disaster we have to live with at the moment, are unknown.
 It is not the sort of life everyone will survive in. However I think that it does work in small communities. The Israelis have made a success of it since the Kibbutzes were established in the 40's.

Communist Russia was a sick joke, and so is North Korea. I actually find it quite frightening that the world still puts up with dictators, like the lunatic in N.K. Eventually he and his family are going to end up like the Ceascescu's, the universe has a way of sorting people like him out in its own time.       
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 19, 2010, 11:35:43 AM
Having a stress free life in Israel is a matter of which ethnic group or religion you belong to.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 19, 2010, 12:11:30 PM
Interesting, Pavlov.  Purely by coincidence,  2 of the Canadians I met were leaving a kibbutzim.  I do not think  one must be Jewish to be in one, as they were  started as social experiments by people from all over the world, of varying beliefs. I did not ask, but I have known  others, over the years who have joined who have joined. I consideredit,  but went a different path.   However, they had  spent several years, loved the experience and simply decided it was time to move on. Or back, as the case might be, to be closer to their families.
  North Korea is certainly led by a basket case. it would seem. However, I  would still like to visit it. All too often, what we are  told or read about is  so politicised, the real picture is  quite different.
 I am hoping to visit the country in the near future. It is complicated process, but achievable. A British  friend of mine went 2 years ago and was quite stricken  by the Western perception and the reality of actually being there and seeing how people really lived.  Not that he gave us a positive report, but  it was better than expected.
 Sadly, all too often, in my view,  massive social change  ends up in one-party rule whichr entails  power struggles and unstable leadership. There is littel or no acutal popular  support of decision
 in  how  such rule will mat affect the people who live in it.
  China may be an example of how this may actually work, but they are having struggles as well.
 I do not regard the  Soviet Union as a joke.  There were extremely serious mistakes. However, it was a great social experiment, again, ruined by politics & personalities. 
 As Alixz said, much the same as everywhere else.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on July 19, 2010, 01:45:38 PM
Actually Robert, I think the only reason why communism in its purest form has failed, is because human beings by their very nature, are materialistic, avaricious and driven by greed and a need for power over others. Lenin, Stalin and Hitler are prime examples. I dont think any of these gentlemen gave a **** for anyone other than themselves. So communism ended up an abandoned political experiment. Like an old piece of smelly cheese in the bottom of the fridge.

Take these human frailties away, and the experiment may have worked. ( Except in Hitlers case, nothing to do with communism of course, but the same personality disfunction as the other two).

Robert, I would personally, never, out of principle, put a foot in NK. Not for all the tea in China !
Mainly because they mistreat animals, and human beings, and the freak that runs the place is a monster of epic proportions..
I avoid buying anything made in Korea, and belong to an action group who advocate the same ethic.

But of course I hope you have a nice time, if you decide to go. Just avoid eating anything, you never know what it may be !!
That is not to say that all countries in the world are pristinely innocent of similar things, and one should therefore avoid going there, but NK just adds a whole new dimension to the word GROSS.   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on July 19, 2010, 01:57:57 PM
Constantinople, as I have said he is Jewish. He is also very fortuanate that his kibbutz is quite far away from most of the Palestinian rockets, so I envy him a bit. He used to be a very successful accountant, and is very grateful that he is not a victim of the recessions that hit the world with regularity..
He runs the laundry and is, by his own admission, a happy person.
Im not so sure I could cope with the laundry though. 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 19, 2010, 03:26:14 PM
North Korea does not enjoy "Normal Trade Relations" with the United States, so any goods manufactured in North Korea are subject to a higher tariff upon entry to the United States.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2792.htm#econ

I don't believe that much of what is labeled to have been "made in Korea" is made in the North.  Perhaps there is a market route for items produced in North Korea to make it into South Korea and then into the US, but the realations between the north and south are not all that cordial so it might be a black market route.

In August 2009, Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun met with Kim Jong-il and obtained the release of a South Korean worker who had been detained in the D.P.R.K. since March. As part of those discussions, the D.P.R.K. expressed a willingness to resume tourism links and continue talks regarding the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The D.P.R.K. resumed normal cross-border passage to the KIC on September 1, 2009, and D.P.R.K. and R.O.K. officials conducted a joint visit to international industrial zones in China and Vietnam in December 2009. Between September 2009 and February 2010, D.P.R.K. and R.O.K. officials had several meetings to discuss joint tourism projects, the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and other issues. However, the talks resulted in no progress.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 19, 2010, 04:06:40 PM
don't give up on the Great Leader, just when you thought it was a basket case, this happens

http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/italian-restaurant-opens-in-north-korea-20090314-8yg9.html

I couldnt find it but there was an hilarious story about the NK secret service hiring two italian chefs and their time in NK

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 19, 2010, 05:22:38 PM
 I remember the Italian chefs story, Const.  2 of my dear friends in London were interviewed  for the posts! Their  newly opened restaurant was a hit [and a LOT of work]  and popular with several in the diplomatic community. They declined, if every actually offered, as they of course preferred to stay in London.
  BTW way, I think Kim  is now "Supreme" Leader, having graduated form "Great" and before that "Intelligent" leader. All of which talents are  very questionable.
 Not to worry, Pavlov. Any visit I may make would be   state controlled, as was my friend's.  He had no choice in where to eat [hotel for foreigners only] or what to see.   After 5 days, as I recall, he was quite bored, but it was an experience, to say the least.  He was amazed by the massive  stadium displays.  I think he was there for a  Kim birthday, which Kim was not actually at,  causing speculation about his  health.
 Anyway, he [my friend] was interested in  exploring  North Korean food, being a foodie,  but had not much of an experience of the  true stuff. I understand that it is supposed to make the South  seem mild!
  But, back to Communism: it  can work, in stages, as I see it. Massive social upheaval and violations of cultural & traditional and lifestyle are too much for most people to handle. In societies such as Russia & China, it is more of a struggle.  Leadership becomes more focused on self-progating survival than the  ultimate goal of a prosperous  & thriving community.
 In  cases such as Mugabeland, we see pure greed, self interest and fear not to  even get into blatant racism, more in place than any  former communist state- including   the DRNK. That is one country I would definitely avaoid.
 
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 19, 2010, 05:28:18 PM
...[in part]....
 
 Communism, on the other hand is definitely a political goal.   Abolition of classes and private property.  "to each according to  his/her needs, from each from his/ her ability?  is the idealistic  maxim. Usually a one-party state and controlled by  strongmen tactics.  Good intentions ruined by   megalomaniacs all too often.
 True  communism  is a goal that has never been achieved on any large scale. IMO, North Korea and pehaps Zibabwe are the  best examples of  attempts to achieve that state, and  both are tragic failures.
....

Are the modern day communists working with different doctrines then the early communists under Lenin and / or Stalin?  I don't think they are, therefore,  I'm at a lost to discover "good intentions" in anything they did, are doing or will do.  

Robert used the    "abolition of classes" as an example.   Communism has just one way of accomplishing this task.   They take everything, even lives, from the rich with the promise they were/ are going to give it [land, money... used  boots] to the poor which is a lie because they give it to themselves  without a flicker of remorse.    So,  I believe,  this kind of  action  by humans is  horrific and can never be justified.   Just in Russia  such action by the communist  cost  millions and millions of innoscent lives.   So, this alone  should  be one of the top ten  reason why communism has and will always fail in small groups  to the large countries.

I am totally against communism in any form that it takes.

AGRBear  


Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 19, 2010, 06:05:58 PM
 Then, Bear, you are against  convents  & monasteries as well?  They are communal societies.
 You are looking at the issue from a prejudicial  angle, not the idealistic goal.
 I could easily cite examples of  capitalistic and racial exploitation,  such as  appropriation of native lands and whole nationalities.
  As well as resources.  For the  goal and  pleasure for privileged classes, including us.
 Blind sided  opinion is not  objective.
 There are more than 2 sides to a story in most cases.  More than 2 to look at and analyse.

 

 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 20, 2010, 06:54:09 AM
I belive that Kim is known as "Dear Leader".  Sounds like Orwell to me.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 20, 2010, 09:48:54 AM
Actually, Orwell used the BBC as his model for 1984
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 20, 2010, 12:10:05 PM
Quote
I belive that Kim iis known as "Dear Leader

Yeah, he is.  His old man, Kim Il Sung, was the Great Leader and is now President Eternal.  They've basically built a religion around him.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 20, 2010, 12:48:50 PM
Then, Bear, you are against  convents  & monasteries as well?  They are communal societies.
 You are looking at the issue from a prejudicial  angle, not the idealistic goal.
 ...[in part]...

Unless I've been mislead, I believe  here in the US  each adult person has the  freedom of choice and they can avoid or become a part of convents, monasteries or other communal socities.  Therefore,  if an adult  wishes to subject themselves to communal societies,  they do so willingly.   If one lives under communist rule,  a person is told what to do, when to do it and how they will do it,  (whatever "it" is).  There is no freedom of choice.  This kind of demand by the communists leaders means they are the master and their underlings are the slaves.   And,  I'm sure no one reading this wants to be anyone's slave.  

This is the second reason why   I am  "prejudice toward communism".  

AGRBear


  




Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 20, 2010, 01:11:07 PM
Well, Bear, yes, Communist states were enforced policy,  but no one was  forced to become slaves, nor even  join the party.  It was wise, for enhancement in one's career, but not necessary.
  And, as Americans, we have no room whatsoever to  talk about  slavery without looking our own past and current  relations  between our  various communities.
 As far as positive advancements go,  some states, including the USSR,   built more hospitals, schools and scholarships that the Western regimes ever provided. I am not saying this was without purpose,  and they did provide arms top match those provided by the West.
 You can see the unfortunate results of the sad rivalry in the  current world  situation. What a waste of talents and resources, from all sides.

 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 20, 2010, 01:24:56 PM
TimM....without consulting Wkipaedia,  Kim  Jong-Il, was
 Dear Leader from  the early 70's until 1994
  Intelligent Leader  from 73-84
  Great Leader 94 to present and
 Supreme Leader since 2009.
  So, he has not been "dear leader" for a while.
 I asked a Korean  friend of mine, who does translating for me, He may have, however consulted the net.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 20, 2010, 01:57:12 PM
...[in part]...
 I could easily cite examples of  capitalistic and racial exploitation,  such as  appropriation of native lands and whole nationalities.
  As well as resources.  For the  goal and  pleasure for privileged classes, including us.
 Blind sided  opinion is not  objective.
 There are more than 2 sides to a story in most cases.  More than 2 to look at and analyse.


I assure you I haven't turned a blind eye to the histories of the US or others.  I am well aware of the fact that  cave   dwellers to modern day leaders have exploited other people,  resources, etc. etc. etc..  Humans can be cruel to everyone and everything around them  when  they believe they can continue to do as they please, when they please,  and no one is going to stop them.  I am the first to say    set all our mistakes into stone for all to see.  It's best that the  generations not yet born see them and realize no country is without flaws.   I believe, people should learn from the mistakes of others.  Look at Russia.  They evidently learned a lesson about being ruled by communists.  "...the Constitutional Court of Russia ruled that Communists were free to meet on a local level but the Communist  Party, as a national entity, was illegal."

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 20, 2010, 02:09:45 PM
Well, Bear, yes, Communist states were enforced policy,  but no one was  forced to become slaves, nor even  join the party.  It was wise, for enhancement in one's career, but not necessary.

..[in part..]

"It was wise, for enhancement in one's career..."

Is that saying something like,  "If you don't join us then you can't be a part of us?"  If  this is so, then it  means that no matter what you want to do,  you can't because you're not part of the Communist Party who, in case you're not aware,  just happens to be the leaders of everything in this world you're defending.

AGRBear



Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 20, 2010, 02:20:34 PM
No, Bear, it is not. Again, you are showing your bias.
  Many, MANY people gained sucess in various fields without being Party members. Most people, in everyday lives were NOT members  yet enjoyed the benefits the system  provided.   Woefully missed now.
  My comment was specific to  those interested on high level government work.
 Actually, it was not  easy to  join the Party. It took time, study and  commitment.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 20, 2010, 03:08:09 PM
 
Quote
Kim  Jong-Il, was
 Dear Leader from  the early 70's until 1994
  Intelligent Leader  from 73-84
  Great Leader 94 to present and
 Supreme Leader since 2009.
  So, he has not been "dear leader" for a while.

Whatever, it's just some fancy titles he's given himself, like his father before him.  In many ways, these guys are like an imperial dynasty, in that the title of ruler passed from father to son, and one of Kim Jong Il's sons is waiting in the wings to take over when he dies.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 20, 2010, 03:48:42 PM
Most of the people who succeeded in Communist countries were definitely communist members.  people who did not join teh communist party of the pioneers (young communists) were denied access to the best training and education.  I lived in Poland in 1990 and Czechoslovakia from 1992 to 1996 just after the end of communism and a lot of people lied that they werent members of the communist party or the secret police but every single successful person I met had been a member, the truth didnt always come out at first but when you got to know them well enough it did.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 20, 2010, 03:53:28 PM
Quote
I lived in Poland in 1990 and Czechoslovakia from 1992 to 1996 just after the end of communism and a lot of people lied that they werent members of the communist party or the secret police


Sounds like Germany after World War II, in which you couldn't find many people who admitted to being Nazis.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on July 20, 2010, 04:10:51 PM
As far as positive advancements go,  some states, including the USSR,   built more hospitals, schools and scholarships that the Western regimes ever provided. I am not saying this was without purpose,  and they did provide arms top match those provided by the West.
 

Robert, you seems to be a rather intelligent man...

That's why these words about "hospitals" and "schools" are very strange to hear for me. Where/when did you heard about these mysterious "hospitals"? Have you ever been in USSR? In the real villages or simple cities? Maybe you saw them (these hospitals) by your own eyes? If seriously, then my repressed Russian ancestors (Soviet officers and other simple people) didn't saw these things. They were repressed without any hospitals...

Nothing personal, but it also seems to me that this too left-wing utopian position is slightly boring and not relevant (however common among even intelligent people). All the information about communism and other "ideas" is open, but someone still shows us that everything there was not bad at all;). It also rather good position to talk about mysterious "hospitals", being in prosperous UK or USA. Nothing personal again. I wish only for all, who are still dreaming about these sweet ideas not to experience it in your own life.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 20, 2010, 05:19:44 PM
TimM. Those silly titles sound much better in Korean.  Very poetic,  and actually do derive from titles given  to Korean  kings.
 And, there actually were not  that many  Nazi party members. It was a closed and exclusive  membership.
  Nicola,  no, I have never been to the USSR, I have been to Russia though., since the fall of the Soviet system. However, as I mentioned some time ago,  when I was a student in Wash. D.C., I became good friends with a couple of members of the staff at the  Soviet Embassy. They were very open about their lives in the USSR,  Pluses & minuses. I have been to some remote villages in Russia, however.   One of my friends has taken me to visit friends and such.
 There is nothing mysterious about the  Soviet built  hospitals and  college/universities. They were mainly in  Africa,  Southeast Asia and  the Carib. [That I know of].  I think most have been renamed and are probably struggling now.  And, by "Soviet", I do not exclude other countries.  The work by Cuba and Bulgaria in the same vein and have been  in the news.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 20, 2010, 08:11:03 PM
What I meant is that after World War II, it seemed that all those that supported the Nazis had vanished.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 12:54:27 AM
I am not sure about the percentage of Germans who were Nazis but the number of people who supported the Nazi party during its regime was an overwhelming majority.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2010, 01:03:42 AM
Yeah, and it seems all these people went POOF after the war. 

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 01:35:32 AM
i think transmogrification is a good word to describe it.  The number of Germans I have heard say,"Yes my father fought in the war but he was no Nazi.  You would be surprised how much he detested Hitler." and my response is usually yes I would be.  There must be millions and millions of these people.  It makes  you wonder why there were not more plots against Hitler.  I have one friend whose relative actually was a good German.  He was a von Moltke.  He was part of a number of plots against Hitler and was eventually executed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmuth_James_Graf_von_Moltke
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 09:01:20 AM
Actually, Orwell used the BBC as his model for 1984

I should have said "Orwellian".

And I was basing my comment on his titles to a documentary that I saw not too long ago where he was still being called "Dear Leader".  I think is was on NBC and was only about two or three years ago.  Perhaps they got the titles wrong.

I actually think it was Diane Sawyer who did the piece and visited North Korea.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 09:23:03 AM
What Orwell was implying was that working for the BBC was like working in Soviet Russia.  One of the problems with Americans analysing Orwell is that they seem to filter everything through a vehement anti communist bias.  this is not of course all Americans but a lot of those in the media.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 09:23:44 AM
As for all of the "disappearing Nazi's and Communists"  they still existed but for the sake of self preservation they faded into the background.  As someone else said and I have said many times both Nazi and Communist were political parties and one had to join.

However life under these ruling political parties and accepting the way the country was run was far different from being a member of either party.

The Treaty of Versailles broke the back of the already defeated German people.  The Wiemar Republic was useless and Germany was becoming poorer and inflation was running rampant.  The Germans (like all others) are a proud people and many of them only wanted their rights to self determination and self rule back.  The Nazi party seemed to be the answer to that want.  Leadership which would not allow the Allied victors of WWI to continue running Germany or the lives of the German people.  

I don't believe that, in the beginning of the Nazi rise, that the people of Germany saw the Nazis as any more than a way to regain their status in the world.

The corruption that followed as Hitler began his rule was not different than the corruption that others talk about when referring Lenin and in his wake Stalin and Stalin's purges.

Both the Germans after WWI and the Russians after the fall of the monarchy only wanted "more power to the people" and to the country that they lived in.  Unfortunately the megalomania of both Hitler and Stalin is what we remember and what the poor staving and yet hopeful people of both Germany and Russia had no way of seeing when they followed their two leaders into history.

They believed, as we do every time we vote in the US, that things were going to get better for the common man.  The difference in both post WWI Germany and post revolution Russia is that things were so bad that the people would have followed anyone who said they could help them and change things.

We are supposed to know better, but we do the same every four years.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 09:26:28 AM
and just in case  you think I made that up about 1984, this is from the BBC
He began writing 1984 after resigning from the BBC World Service in September 1943 where he had been employed writing and producing news for India.

It was his increasing frustration with the Ministry of Information, which censored the news during World War II, which led to his resignation and subsequently became the central theme of 1984.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 09:30:20 AM
What Orwell was implying was that working for the BBC was like working in Soviet Russia.  One of the problems with Americans analysing Orwell is that they seem to filter everything through a vehement anti communist bias.  this is not of course all Americans but a lot of those in the media.

I have a book called Facial Justice where there is a "Leader" who controls all including how facial beauty is judged.  I have to find the book and look for the right words, but this leader is also referred to as "Dear" I think (again I have to find the book, I haven't read it in years).  

I put it badly.  My comment about Orwell was only about dictators who are "loved" and followed blindly and called by names that are distinctly not "dictator like".  I wasn't commenting on the story or its background.  "Big Brother is watching you"
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 21, 2010, 09:50:53 AM
 As we are discussing various dictators, "Dear" or otherwise, the BBC  announced this morning that the infamous Ceausescu's [sic] were  being exhumed for DNA tests. To prove they were actually shot and buried.  Why this has become necessary is  beyond me.   After all, the whole  gory procedure, bullets to grave  was filmed and  broadcast.
  There will always be "flat earthers" I suppose.
 And TimM,  30 million Germans do not go "poof" and disappear. The Nazi regime ruled  by intimidation and propaganda.   To great success, thanks to Goebbels and  his talents in  those  media that applied at the time.
 Many of those political tricks  were so  productive, they are still utilised by our modern politicians.
 Hitler was perhaps a charismatic fad.  We have seen more  since then,  especially  through  modern media.
  Does not even have to be a political agenda,  pop culture breeds such "cults"
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 10:53:26 AM
Will they be exhuming Saddam next?  (sarcasm)

I read an article not too long ago that claimed that the skull that is being kept in the Kremlin and is supposed to Hitler's is actually a woman's skull.

Perhaps the Soviets picked up Ava Braun's skull by accident?  There will always be the mystery of the location of Hitler's remains.  Another of those folk tales which will remain unsolved (or not).

After all if they could find the remains of the Romanovs after almost 80 years, perhaps someone will find Hitler's remains and not just a questionable skull.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2010, 11:36:54 AM
Quote
the BBC  announced this morning that the infamous Ceausescu's [sic] were  being exhumed for DNA tests. To prove they were actually shot and buried

Probably because there are conspiracy nuts who think the executions were faked and the Ceaucescu's are still alive somewhere.  I remember seeing it as it happened, and I don't buy it.  Nicholae and Elena Ceaucescu were executed that day, plain and simple.  Of course, these are probably the same people that think JFK and Elvis are still alive too.


Quote
And TimM,  30 million Germans do not go "poof" and disappear

Well, I didn't mean in the liternal sense.  I meant that the Allies were hard pressed to find a person who said:  "Yeah, I supported the Nazis 100 percent."
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 01:21:24 PM
Probably because they didn't want to end up at Nuremberg.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 01:35:30 PM
I still remember that video and wonder why a few more dictatorships dont end that way.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 01:40:15 PM
Remember how they tried to contain the video of Saddam's hanging, but it got out anyway?  If I remember correctly that was because of a cell phone.  There was no official news footage of the actual execution just the moments leading up to it.  That alone would lead the conspiracy theorists to begin agitating.

I am sure, though, there must have been something done to preserve the final moments just so that an exhumation would not ever be asked for.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 21, 2010, 01:46:14 PM
What is interesting and somewhat sad though, is that any dictator or other person convicted against crimes against humanity and subsequently executed does not go to the execution with dignity and complete belief in past actions.

They are invariably reduced to vacillating and whimpering.  In the end, we all fear death even if we have handed out death sentences ourselves.

Except perhaps Hermann Goering who committed suicide instead of letting the Allies hang him.

However we should get back to the subject of "Why Communism Doesn't Work".
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 02:57:50 PM
Well Saddam went with style and bravado and yes getting back on topic would be good.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2010, 03:46:48 PM
I think in the end, Communism must be labled a failure.  Karl Marx simply did not take human nature into account when he wrote his book.  A society where everyone is equal works on paper, but in real life, it will never happen, because there will always be those who will do anything to get to the top.  Communism allowed such men to do just that.

Look at the top dogs of Eastern Europe, before 1989 swept them all away.  They were essentially kings and emperors, just under a different title.  They had fancy big houses, nice cars, a bunch of servants.  They dined on exquisite meals every night, while their people stood in line for hours to get meager rations.  The idea that these people were all equal is a joke.

Communism is now, mostly, on the dustbin if history, where it rightfully belongs.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 03:55:13 PM
if you really want to understand why communism doesnt work think about Karl Marx.  He divided his time between the British library and the pub across the street and survived by bludging off his rich friend.  He basically deserted his family and when he could have written for money, he said why would i do that.  His wife could have told him.  Solitude meant noone argued with him and his theory existed in a perfect vacuum in his mind, the perfect answer to the puzzle of history - class struggle.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2010, 03:57:49 PM
Geez, no wonder Communism was doomed.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 21, 2010, 04:15:45 PM


Communism is now, mostly, on the dustbin if history, where it rightfully belongs.

So, how are we going to do about capitalism?

- I've noticed an interesting paradox: in the seventeenth century, Charles I attempted to raise money through taxation to build his Navy without the consent of parliament. This ultimately cost him his head.

In the eighteenth century, the rebels in the North American colonies were imposed upon in a similar manner. They put the emotions behind what happened both times into a simple phrase: "no taxation without representation."

In the twenty first century, by contrast, the people who have the least option about whether they pay their taxes or not are the very ones who are least represented, while government ears are bent constantly by the professional tax-dodgers in off-shore havens. These are the opinion-formers and the ones whose views prevail.

Ponder....:-)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 21, 2010, 04:17:51 PM
if you really want to understand why communism doesnt work think about Karl Marx.  He divided his time between the British library

Founded 1973.

It was the British Museum which Marx patronised and where his name is inscribed on the wall of the beloved Round Reading Room.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 21, 2010, 04:56:33 PM
It is hard to discuss with such closed minds. However, here goes and  probably last stand- Communism was never doomed. It was corrupted by  the egos and rivalries of it's leaders. THE SAME as  the bastions of Capitalism.
 Hitler and Saddam were both  products of  capitalism.  Capitalism had to be dragged  by it's teeth  to provide the benefits that workers now take for granted [and are loosing as we speak]  Health care, workplace safety,  job security,  home ownership, education, the right to  speak up & protest, etc.
 Where did all this start I ask you ??
 Whether you like it or not,  these benefits, rights and such came right from the sweatshops of Imperial Russia. [well, and other "industrialised" countries].
 Human rights abuses are  just as much showcased in capitalists  [sponsored] societies as  and  Communist ones.
  Just look at  Africa ans South America for examples of capitalism at it's best.
 So far, all I see from the opposition here is how bad one system is, but nothing about how good the other is.
 Closed-minded opposition is  not  conducive to debate.
 There is no point in  it.  
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 21, 2010, 06:33:47 PM
It is hard to discuss with such closed minds. However, here goes and  probably last stand- Communism was never doomed. It was corrupted by  the egos and rivalries of it's leaders. THE SAME as  the bastions of Capitalism.
 Hitler and Saddam were both  products of  capitalism.  Capitalism had to be dragged  by it's teeth  to provide the benefits that workers now take for granted [and are loosing as we speak]  Health care, workplace safety,  job security,  home ownership, education, the right to  speak up & protest, etc.
 Where did all this start I ask you ??
 Whether you like it or not,  these benefits, rights and such came right from the sweatshops of Imperial Russia. [well, and other "industrialised" countries].
 Human rights abuses are  just as much showcased in capitalists  [sponsored] societies as  and  Communist ones.
  Just look at  Africa ans South America for examples of capitalism at it's best.
 So far, all I see from the opposition here is how bad one system is, but nothing about how good the other is.
 Closed-minded opposition is  not  conducive to debate.
 There is no point in  it.  

You are absolutely right,  communist will never be completely eliminated.  Just like onion heads and Nazism will never be completely eliminated  because there will always be someone who goes to the library, reads some doctrine and a bunch of books, and seriously believes capitalism is the villian,  leaves the library,  finds others and  persuades them that  communism or Nazism is grand, and  they  march for their cause, and,  some times burn flags,  churches or whatever it is they find as a threat.  

Obviously,  Robert has found something good about communism.  He's mentioned schools and hospitals.  Well, I do recall seeing propaganda film of all those school children wearing pioneer uniforms who were proud to turn in their anti-communist parents to the authorities who came to their home in the middle of the night and whisked the parents away and placed those t loyal children into  boarding schools where other loyal children were studying to be even more loyal to the communist party.  As for the hospitals,  I don't recall the number built, so I cannot debate this point,  but I do recall the wealthy communist having to go to countries to get drugs which they needed and couldn't obtain in Russia.   And,  if I recall, the average person lived to be around the age of 55 and I don't think it's much higher today.  I remember seeing parades in the streets of the big Russian cities with row after row of tanks,  huge guns and soldiers marching  while there was a different kind of parade of people waiting in line at the grocery stores which had empty shelves.

Since both my maternal and paternal side migrated from Russia,  I heard stories about the horror of communism, never did I ever hear anyone voice that communism was good in any way shape or form.

Since I don't know your communist friends,  I can assume because they were/ are communist that they were groomed to be good little pioneers who were guided by all the rewritten history books that turned men like Lenin and Stalin into great heros.   If they hadn't,  they would not have been working in any kind of high place in government or anywhere else.

Capitalism isn't the villain.  

What is capitalism?  Based on it's definition it is:

>>the capitalism of emerging nations free enterprise, private enterprise, the free market. antonym communism.<<

Please note  the opposite of free enterprise is communism.  And, the opposite of private enterprise is communism.  And  the opposite of a free market is communism.

I prefer my imperfect capitalist country to any communist country that takes away my freedom of free enterprise, private enterprise and free market.

AGRBear

 







Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 21, 2010, 07:20:09 PM
 AGR Bear,  you have valid points, as I feel I do as well.
  Those films you mention and interviews were produced by whom ?  Western propaganda machines... McCarthyism's and Birtchers.  And their subsequent ilk.  The Eastern regimes did exactly the same.
 As for  so called "freedoms", just what to you have in that regard ? How do you come about them ?  Who gave them to you?
 Those  exact same rights were available in the  former USSR  [except for  property, in obscure, Byzantine ways] Distention was open and often spoilt by violence.   Well,  same here, as I see it.
   As for my Russian friends...  very few were Party members. No one tried to solicit me into the Party [I was too young anyway] and they were just happy  doing their jobs and having the opportunity to see the world outside of their own.
 I am still in touch with some of them.  Their  concerns are the same as ours since the fall of the system they grew up in.
 Groceries are too costly, housing opportunities out of reach for most. Health care only for those who can afford it, education almost wasted on the rich.
 Sound familiar ?
 When were you last in Russia Bear ? I would be curious to  read beyond you political prejudice.
 I will be back in  the next spring,  my 5th visit. I look forward to it very much.  I not only like Russia, I try to understand it- the people. Just as varied as we are.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 21, 2010, 08:16:45 PM
I never said captialism was perfect, it's not.  However, you never saw people risking their lives to escape from capitalist coutries like they did trying to get from Eastern Europe to the West.  People risked being gunned down trying to get from East Berlin to West Berlin.  Obviously, they wanted to leave Communism behind, but the Communists would rather have them dead than let them leave.

If someone doesn't like living in the U.S., then they can leave, and they won't be gunned down at the border.  No, captilism is far from perfect, however, it's better than living under Communism or Nazism.  In a capitalist country, they don't kill you if you speak out.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 21, 2010, 09:01:15 PM
There are modified alternatives to both systems and noone gets shot for leaving them either.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 22, 2010, 12:21:53 AM
TimM, tell your last comment to MLK, Cesar Chavez, the Kennedys...
 Again, you are putting  communism in the same pot as National Socialism.
  They were 2 totally different political  & economic systems.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 22, 2010, 12:32:03 AM
you might want to add Martin Luther King to that list and when Barrack Obama was elected there was speculation that he wouldnt last his full term
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 22, 2010, 12:40:06 AM
Uh, hang on here, guys, that's not what I meant.  JFK, RFK, and Dr. King were not murdered by government sanctioned troops.  Oswald, Sirhan, and whomever shot Dr. King (even the King family now think that James Earle Ray didn't do it) were lone gunmen (unless you want to get into conspiracy theories and all that, but let's not go there).  The U.S. Government had nothing to do with these murders.

The troops that manned the Berlin Wall were paid by the East German government to shoot anyone trying to attempt to flee to the West.   In fact all border guards in Eastern Europe were paid to shoot defectors.

Robert, I must ask, are you a card carrying Communist?  Your continued defence of a system that is responsible for millions of deaths baffles me.  The Stalin Purges, Mao's disasterous Great Leap Forward, the Khymer Rouge and the killing fields, the list goes on and on (poor Nicky and his family were just the first of many victims).  Futhermore, when a country, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, tried to abandon Communism, the Russians marched in to restore it, by any means they could.  The even executed the Prime Minister of Hungary, Imry Nage.

I don't think if a country wanted to leave NATO, we'd send in the troops to stop them.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on July 22, 2010, 05:18:40 AM
Communism and National Socialism were different political philosophies, but the practical results of both were similar - in other words the systematic liquidation of very large numbers of people.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Sergei Witte on July 22, 2010, 05:31:14 AM
All victims we speak of are victims of imperialism both from USA and USSR. During the cold war many wars were fought where armies were on the western sids of eastern side - Vietnam, Korean war - in all wars many innocent people died for the glory of one of the power blocks.

After the cold war the situation has changed. Capitalism has won over communism. Which makes the USA the sole survivor in the race for world power. So they are now the main imperialistic power block which tells the rest of the world what to do. (Attack Irak neglecting UN, when they found it convenient to do so (for oil...?)

With the hindsight we have it is easy to judge Communism. Capitalism seems the better ideology now. The future will learn if this is true.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 22, 2010, 06:40:56 AM
Does it really matter if the shooter of the person speaking their mind is a government troop?  Events that inhibit freeedom of thought and speech are signs of dysfunction.  And if you want to look at examples where capitalism exerted methods of terror, there are plenty such as Chile.  I was in Berlin in 1990, sitting in a bank talking to an Ostie and a Westie.  They both agreed on one thing.  Both systems had good points and bad points.  I am not a fan of communism but as the last year or so in the US has shown, there are a lot of problems with unbridled capitalism as well.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 22, 2010, 08:06:56 AM
Both systems do have their faults. 

But remember when the Berlin wall was torn down and the East Berliners saw what the West Berliners took for granted on store shelves the East Berliners were over whelmed by what they had been living without.

Another thing that caught my attention was the comment made here that Communism works when one joins the Commune voluntarily and accepts what life style is assigned for the good of the commune.  The same as the Kibbutz.  That person who liked living there, but was not sure about having been assigned laundry duty is a person who might not be in it for the long haul.

But I see no difference in the two systems when both allow for unprecedented wealth at the top of the heap and unprecedented poverty at the bottom with very little in between.

And Bear is right.  The US isn't shooting people for trying to leave. But we are shooting people for trying to get in with out going through proper channels.  That is another topic.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 22, 2010, 10:31:39 AM
TimM- I am not so sure there is even a  Communist Party to be a member of, let alone carry  a card. However Gus Hall & Sam Webb were  indeed  part of my learning experience.
 My arguments are for objectivity  rather than prejudiced views  based on  propaganda. I have said this many times. I have never defended the abuses of  any regime. no matter how Left or Right. As has been pointed out  by more than me,  there have been plenty of instances/examples of  such  violations of human rights & dignity from  BOTH sides. Western Imperialism is no  shining  example of benefits and progress.
 Besides, my lifestyle is not  conducive to  communal sacrifice.

 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 22, 2010, 12:47:42 PM

Robert, I must ask, are you a card carrying Communist?  Your continued defence of a system that is responsible for millions of deaths baffles me.  The Stalin Purges, Mao's disasterous Great Leap Forward, the Khymer Rouge and the killing fields, the list goes on and on (poor Nicky and his family were just the first of many victims).  Futhermore, when a country, Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, tried to abandon Communism, the Russians marched in to restore it, by any means they could.  The even executed the Prime Minister of Hungary, Imry Nage.


Frankly, I think Communism is an irrelevance in most of the cases you cite. Mao's actions could just as easily have been those of any dictator, right or left, while Russia after World War Two was essentially completing an agenda that began under Nicholas I. In his day, the doctrine was autocracy; in Alexander III's it was race; in Stalin's it was politics, but Russian domination of eastern Europe had been predicted since the days that people argued that Austria needed Hungary so as not to be swallowed by the Germans, and Hungary needed Austria so as not to be overrun by the Slavs. There is also a good body of writing on the structural links between the Tsarist legal system and that of the Communist state: one absolutism laid upon another. Richard Pipes may have posited that Nicholas II's murder laid the foundation for the genocides of the twentieth century, but that suggestion conveniently ignores the genocides that occurred when Nicholas was Tsar, often with the active or tacit complicity of his government (not to mention official retributions for 1905).
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 22, 2010, 01:39:33 PM
I think it is a bit much to say that the deaths of the imperial family were a precursor of the mass murders that were coming.  Even if Nicholas and his family had escaped, the same mass killing machine would have been put into place by both Lenin and Stalin.  They were both blinded by ideology.  You might as well say that the liquidation of the menshaviks and close pllitical rivals was an omen of things to come.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 22, 2010, 03:13:44 PM
Quote
Frankly, I think Communism is an irrelevance in most of the cases you cite. Mao's actions could just as easily have been those of any dictator, right or left, while Russia after World War Two was essentially completing an agenda that began under Nicholas I. In his day, the doctrine was autocracy; in Alexander III's it was race; in Stalin's it was politics, but Russian domination of eastern Europe had been predicted since the days that people argued that Austria needed Hungary so as not to be swallowed by the Germans, and Hungary needed Austria so as not to be overrun by the Slavs. There is also a good body of writing on the structural links between the Tsarist legal system and that of the Communist state: one absolutism laid upon another. Richard Pipes may have posited that Nicholas II's murder laid the foundation for the genocides of the twentieth century, but that suggestion conveniently ignores the genocides that occurred when Nicholas was Tsar, often with the active or tacit complicity of his government (not to mention official retributions for 1905). 



That may be true, Janet, but Stalin, Ceaucescu, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, and all the rest called themselves Communists and it was Communism that allowed them to come to power in the first place.  Whatever ideals Marx may have had, they have been forever linked to these men and the atrocities they committed.
 
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 22, 2010, 08:59:29 PM
Quote
Frankly, I think Communism is an irrelevance in most of the cases you cite. Mao's actions could just as easily have been those of any dictator, right or left, while Russia after World War Two was essentially completing an agenda that began under Nicholas I. In his day, the doctrine was autocracy; in Alexander III's it was race; in Stalin's it was politics, but Russian domination of eastern Europe had been predicted since the days that people argued that Austria needed Hungary so as not to be swallowed by the Germans, and Hungary needed Austria so as not to be overrun by the Slavs. There is also a good body of writing on the structural links between the Tsarist legal system and that of the Communist state: one absolutism laid upon another. Richard Pipes may have posited that Nicholas II's murder laid the foundation for the genocides of the twentieth century, but that suggestion conveniently ignores the genocides that occurred when Nicholas was Tsar, often with the active or tacit complicity of his government (not to mention official retributions for 1905). 



That may be true, Janet, but Stalin, Ceaucescu, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, and all the rest called themselves Communists and it was Communism that allowed them to come to power in the first place.  Whatever ideals Marx may have had, they have been forever linked to these men and the atrocities they committed.
 
 


I DO second that   ;D

The idealism may be beautiful... but men kind can't stand be powerless
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 12:21:34 AM
Tim,  with the exception of Stalin who inherited a communist system, almmost all or all of the people  hou cite used communism to gain paower.  Communism did not allow them to gain power.  If you are beyond poor and you are illiterate, communism probably has a nice ring to it until you  find out what you have put in place.

Lady N
Women love power as well as men, the difference aside from examples like Gold Meir and Margaret Thatcher is that most women marry power and exert it by proxy, as in the case of Tsaritsa Alexandra.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 12:25:11 AM
I'm sorry, I meant men kind as human kind.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 09:22:45 AM
Lady N
Women love power as well as men, the difference aside from examples like Gold Meir and Margaret Thatcher is that most women marry power and exert it by proxy, as in the case of Tsaritsa Alexandra.

That is mostly because men, and not men as human kind, preferred to have sons and treated them with more respect.  Sons meant continuation of the line and women (example Henry VIII) were useless chattel.  How surprised Henry would have been at the "lion's cub" he and Anne Boleyn created.

So women had no choice but to marry power and exercise it through the men they married.  A smart ambitious woman would marry an powerful but "weak" man - as Alexandra did - and then rule comfortably behind the scenes.  Hence the phase that "behind every man is a strong woman".
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 09:31:34 AM
That's a very good point, Alixz.
I do think Elizabeth I ruled better than any man. Henry VIII wanted a male heir so badly he didn't even notice that his daughters had great minds.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 09:32:59 AM
But back to topic.  I have always - being a child of the 1960s - looked at communal life as the epitome of peace and togetherness.  When I thought of a perfect future, I saw myself on a commune working with others to create a better life for all.

However, the truth is that there would still have to be someone in charge - even a committee - and everyone would have to abide by the decisions of that committee.  

I keep going back to the Kibbutz and the person assigned to the laundry.  That person seems to like communal living, but had some problems with doing the laundry.  How long before that person begins a personal revolt to be moved to another job or leaves the Kibbutz altogether?

Communal living is a surrender of a certain number of one's freedoms (as we understand them in the west) and the acceptance of what is being done for the "good of the community".  Individuality is not encouraged and that alone would cause the disruption of the communal balance as we all like to be recognized for our talents.

I believe that is why communal living works in small and enclosed places like monasteries where everyone goes in expecting to surrender their individuality to their deity.  No one there would ever complain about being assigned to laundry duty or anything else.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 09:33:24 AM
Would you consider Alexandra an intelligent woman?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 09:37:49 AM
Alexandra was indeed very intelligent. She knew how to persuade her husband to do what she though it was right. I think she was a great woman.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 09:38:13 AM
That is a tricky one.  In her youth, yes.  Before she married Nicholas and converted to Orthodoxy (and this is not a slam against any religion), she seemed to be - with her grandmother - intelligent and compassionate and thoughtful.

However, after she became "more Orthodox than the Orthodox" and began her spiritual journey in search of a "magical" way to have a son, I think she lost her objectivity and her intelligent approach to life.

I also believe, that she began to show signs of mental illness.  That didn't make her any less intelligent - only less able to act intelligently.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 09:42:48 AM
Would you consider Alexandra an intelligent woman?

Also, I didn't say intelligent - I said strong.   There is nothing stronger than a lioness defending her cub.  To me that was what Alexandra was doing.  While she henpecked her husband, she did it for the benefit of the future of her son and her own immortality as the mother of the future Tsar.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 09:47:26 AM
Yes. And I consider that very smart. We don't see many women taking care of these matters the way she did. Correct me if I'm wrong, she also reigned for a while, as regent, didn't she? I know many of her decisions weren't the best, but I admire her courage.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 09:54:13 AM
A smart ambitious woman would marry an powerful but "weak" man - as Alexandra did
this seems to imply that you did think she was intelligent.

Lady N it didn't take much to convince Nicholas, which is why he avoided people as much as possible.  Alexandra's policy suggestions included maintaining as high a level of autocracy and undermining democracy, a decision that led to the revolutions of 1917 and ultimately the deaths of her immediate family.  Then there was the decision to maintain contact with Rasputin.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 09:54:28 AM
I believe she tried to.  When Nicholas was sick with typhoid and Alexandra was pregnant, she wanted to be made regent for her unborn child so that Michael Alexandrovich wouldn't succeed if Nicholas died.  However it didn't happen and Nicholas didn't die.

She did take responsibility for Nicholas when he was at Stavka, but she was not officially regent.  He just asked her to "take care of things" while he was away.

Unfortunately, she had very bad advice and instead of consulting with Nicholas she began to make decisions on her own.  At that point it would seem that Nicholas had begun not to care very much what she was doing.  It seems that he ignored most of her messages and/or agreed after she pestered him long enough.

But we do need to get back to topic and "Why Communism Doesn't Work"
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 10:02:06 AM
Yes, you're right  ;)
Thank you for the informations.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 10:05:34 AM
Lady N
Women love power as well as men, the difference aside from examples like Gold Meir and Margaret Thatcher is that most women marry power and exert it by proxy, as in the case of Tsaritsa Alexandra.

That is mostly because men, and not men as human kind, preferred to have sons and treated them with more respect.  Sons meant continuation of the line and women (example Henry VIII) were useless chattel.  How surprised Henry would have been at the "lion's cub" he and Anne Boleyn created.

So women had no choice but to marry power and exercise it through the men they married.  A smart ambitious woman would marry an powerful but "weak" man - as Alexandra did - and then rule comfortably behind the scenes.  Hence the phase that "behind every man is a strong woman".

Perhaps I should have said cunning?  But then I don't think that Alexandra was cunning.  I do think she was intelligent but I also think she was mentally unstable.  With a different husband in a different situation, she might have been a stellar consort.

I do think she was ambitious.  The whole theory that position didn't matter to her is hogwash as turning down Prince Eddy didn't show that she didn't want to be in a huge life position, it simply meant that Russia had a bigger one.  And I think that is what I meant by smart.  Smart enough to get a big piece of the Imperial Pie (bigger than her sister Ella's) - smart enough to keep Nicholas champing at the bit so until he almost gave up but not so long that he did give up.

It has been said that Alexandra finally gave in to Nicholas because with Ernst married and Ducky in charge, Alexandra was no longer the main woman of Darmstadt.

In her own way, Alexandra was smart and cunning and intelligent and savvy but also selfish and self involved.  She may have had something akin to Asperger's Disorder which made social interaction "hell".  The road she chose to follow was the wrong one for someone with her make up.  I don't doubt that she loved Nicholas completely, but she also was a ferocious mother and I think she not only mothered Alexei but also Nicholas himself.  And that is what these women behind their men do.  That is how they manage to rule - they take on the mother's role and the "good boy" does as he is told.

Now back to Communism
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 10:08:36 AM
OK here is an attempt to get back on subject.  so far everyone has been looking at failed communist systems but noone has looked at China which has evolved into a strange permutation of communism and is expanding every year even in spite of the worst recession since the depression.  Smart guy that Deng Xiaoping!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 10:11:14 AM
What about the provinces where the people are still poor and staving?  What about the law limiting each family to one child which has resulted in the killing of female children in favor of trying to have that all precious son?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 10:11:49 AM
My own summation of her character was her political ambition came from the same place that her thrift came from.  She wanted to hold on to as much as possible in spite of the consequences.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 10:15:56 AM
Well there are less poor people than there used to be and each year, the wealth spreads into more and more corners of China.  I personally am not a fan of Communist China but from the perspective of the average Communist non rural chinese person, life has increased dramatically since 1994.  But life for the average peasant farmer life is still difficult but things like solar electrical power could make life somewhat easier.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 10:17:20 AM
My own summation of her character was her political ambition came from the same place that her thrift came from.  She wanted to hold on to as much as possible in spite of the consequences.

I know I keep saying that we have to get back to Communism.

But thrift?  Alexandra?  When?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 10:18:50 AM
Well there are less poor people than there used to be and each year, the wealth spreads into more and more corners of China.  I personally am not a fan of Communist China but from the perspective of the average Communist non rural Chinese person, life has increased dramatically since 1994.  But life for the average peasant farmer life is still difficult but things like solar electrical power could make life somewhat easier.
 

What I miss about China is the bicycles.  So thrifty and eco conscious.  Not so much anymore!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 10:54:35 AM
 The one child law in China is  very misunderstood. It affects the urban population and there are reasons for it. One is space is very limited, and costly.  There are massive housing developments but  they are not usually in "move-in'  condition, just cement walls and finish it yourself.
 Resources, private  and public are limited for large families  so providing for a family of  4-6 kids is simply not going to work.
 There are also ways to get around the law; going to HK, for those who can afford it, to have a baby, and going to a countryside village, where the restriction is  different. In both cases, people leave the child  to be cared for by  extended family.
  To me, this policy makes much more sense than  huge welfare families and octo-moms. IMO, other countries could emulate this policy.
 Just one point on Alexandra- the ONLY thing she had to do with Communism was being part of the reason  the Bolsheviks came to power. Otherwise,  she has more threads than she deserves already and does not belong on this one.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 11:19:16 AM
with the population tilting in favour of males and a number of males already without hope of finding a chinese wife, there is some discussion  of ending the one child policy.  A lot of chinese evade it by getting foreign citizenship and then moving back to China.  It has also been always been possible to evade it by paying a fine.  but this is also a sidebar to why communism doeesnt work.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 11:47:53 AM
As you may know, Const.,  the Chinese communes which  have mixed success/failure results, are being reorganised, allowing for more private property for family use. This needs  more  people, not less.
 Also,  no one should be starving in China now. Massive production results  are making sure enough food is available for all. It is the main priority of the Party. If some go hungry, it is because they do not avail themselves of what is available.
 Sadly, not all  reforms and developments worked, but that is the case in the West as well.
 Alixz,  I was in China  about 5 years ago, and I agree- cars are a real nuisance. The pollution alone was  more than annoying. People were not using bicycles because they would choke on the fumes.
 However,  they were getting ready for the Olympics and a World's Exposition  so  actively closing  down  the worst factories and  enforcing "no car" days.
 For a real bicycle environment,  go to Copenhagen. [a happily socialist country, BTW]
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 11:59:45 AM
or Amsterdam but this isnt really about communism either is it?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 01:20:55 PM
When I was growing, up I remember pictures of Chinese using bicycles almost solely in the big cities.  That is what I meant. 

Now everyone in the cities seems to own a car and have discarded their bicycles.

The cost of prosperity is pollution.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 01:41:06 PM
And, do you know who caused that  car pollution?
 Western automakers moving production to China,  enabling  cheap cars available to a massive market  Not everyone can afford or even want one, but they are almost disposable.
 Great Western achievement- turning  urban China into a huge  1960's Los Angeles..
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 02:01:23 PM
Not to mention really greedy chinese Commu Capitalists!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 02:04:37 PM
China justice has a way of  dealing with those.... unlike the West, where Canada's Lord Black  got off for stealing  millions.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 03:08:50 PM
didnt you scold someone for being off topic????????????
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 03:33:39 PM
Actually, Const.  That is quite "on topic" as a comparison between  Communism and Capitalism.The economic compromises, in my view are causing  disruption  and  discontent due to greed and influence by Western interests. This has been rushed and not well ordered, IMO.
  There is much more to come, I do not know when, but Africa  and India are ripe for massive social disruption. It will be the same conflict. As I see it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 04:05:28 PM
and what does Lord Black have to do with dysfunctional communism?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 23, 2010, 04:10:41 PM
Quote
China justice has a way of  dealing with those

Yeah, like sending troops to massecre innocent unarmed students who just wanted democracy.  Then they had the gall to deny it happened, even though the whole world saw it!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 23, 2010, 04:17:34 PM
Good one, TimM!!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 04:25:55 PM
 Const. you know full well the comparison was made  to illustrate the  punishment for corruption between  East & West.
 TimM.  You are  intelligent and reasonably informed,  what do you compare Tianemen Square  to ? Watts,   The Paris student barricades of the  1960's,  Kent State ?
 BTW, the much  publicised incident in Beijing did not, in fact occur in the square, it was in the  boulevard   and blocked the  entrance to the  for both the square itself and the Forbidden City.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 04:31:48 PM
Robert
is this a discussion of the difference between the east and west?  No its a discussion of communism's dysfuncional nature or maybe, at a stretch, the defence of communism's dysfunctionalism.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 04:43:29 PM
And, I am rebutting that it is not  dysfunctional. Point taken ?
 The only way to  show one side or the other is to show BOTH.
 Otherwise this  would just be a useless thread of communist hating bigots, IN MY VIEW.
 I have freely admitted that there were/are  failures and  abuses.  No one on the opposition seems to see the same picture on theirs.
 This is a "DISCUSSION FORUM"  I do not see much actual discussion. Just more closed minded attracts by some who do not even know what communism is. [As well as some who do!]
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 23, 2010, 06:42:27 PM
Let me go on record as saying that I do not think the Western way is perfect, it's not.  In fact, we'll probably never have a "perfect" way.  That's an illusion.

However, in the West, people can speak out and not be put in jail or executed for doing so.  In the West, we have the option of voting our leaders out if we don't like them.  

In a Communist country, if you spoke out, you got hauled off and thrown in prison, without a trial, for an indeterminate amount of time (or you were just marched off somewhere and shot).  In a Communist country, there were no elections, you were pretty much stuck with the leader you had, until said leader died.

If given a choice between living in a Western democracy or living in a Communist country, I'd pick the Western option.  Like I said, our system is not perfect, but it's the lesser of two evils.

Robert, I must ask, if given the choice, which would you pick?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 06:58:01 PM

However, in the West, people can speak out and not be put in jail or executed for doing so.  In the West, we have the option of voting our leaders out if we don't like them.  


Freedom of speech has been severely curtailed since the mid 20th century.  Every day we find more and more reasons to not let people say what they think or feel because we might hurt someone else's feelings.  Right or wrong we have to very careful

I am not a believer in "hate speech" or "racial slurs", however we all must be very careful what we now say and be as politically correct as possible.  Everyone here knows of my example of how "problems" have become "issues".  No one ever has a problem any more, but an issue which sounds so much smaller and less threatening.

I am not sure how these changes to the language occur, but occur they do and it seems to happen without our even knowing it until it is done and over.



Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 23, 2010, 07:13:39 PM
Quote
I am not sure how these changes to the language occur, but occur they do and it seems to happen without our even knowing it until it is done and over.

It just happens.  Gay once meant happy, hacker once someone chopping at something.  Needless to say, both of those have different meanings now.

As for PC, I don't support it either, but it hasn't got as bad as it did in Communist countries.  There are still hate groups out there that spout their hatred, Jerry Springer used to have them on his show all the time (the KKK, for example).  After all, the U.S. Constitution guarantees these guys the right to say what they want, even if we don't agree with it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 23, 2010, 07:16:05 PM
And, I am rebutting that it is not  dysfunctional. Point taken ?
 The only way to  show one side or the other is to show BOTH.
 Otherwise this  would just be a useless thread of communist hating bigots, IN MY VIEW.
 I have freely admitted that there were/are  failures and  abuses.  No one on the opposition seems to see the same picture on theirs.
 This is a "DISCUSSION FORUM"  I do not see much actual discussion. Just more closed minded attracts by some who do not even know what communism is. [As well as some who do!]

Is it easier for a totalitarian govt. to abuse it's countrymen than a democratic govt.?  Yes.  Why?   Because totalitarian govt. is   autocratic, undemocratic, one-party, dictatorial, tyrannical, despotic, fascist, oppressive, repressive, illiberal; authoritarian, autarchic, absolute, absolutist; and, dystopian In other words, it is generally a small group who rules the country as it wishes.  The rest of the people are in the hands of the few who may or may not be humane.  

The same is true for imperialism.  Added to this, the leader rules absolutely as he or she seeks more power, land and wealth.  

True, a democratic govt.  may enlarge it's country but hasn't a goal to rule the world.  Here is a slice out of wikipeida's definition [this was the first one to pop up and I was too lazy to search farther] of a representative democracy:
>>These principles are reflected in all citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to power. For example, in a representative democracy, every vote has equal weight, no restrictions can apply to anyone wanting to become a representative, and the freedom of its citizens is secured by legitimized rights and liberties which are generally protected by a constitution.<<  Of course,  this process hasn't and will not be perfect.   There are solutions.  We know what we need to do.  At this time we are debating on how to go about improving and some think our President is going in the right direction.  Some of us don't.   Meanwhile,  I believe   communism is not the answer. 

 

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 07:31:34 PM
Bear,  Western Imperialism was not out to conquer the world? How naive. Manifest Destiny  almost eliminated our native population. Slavery made  some people very rich.  And you see a communist/socialist  regime as worse ?
 And TimM. I fly lots of flags, I like  colours, but I hardly believe in any of them. As to  which system I would  like to stay in- ask me privately, if you have not figured it out from my previous posts.
 I have been around enough to handle the negatives.
 BTW,  most, if not all  communists  governments were or still are "DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS" It works not much differently than ours.
  Parties control who we vote for.
 What we can say and where the money goes.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 07:32:12 PM
I don't know that communism is the answer either, but even in this country the power is in the hands of a small minority and the wealth is in the hands of a smaller minority.

Just take a look at our line of presidents.  Two fathers and two sons ( Adams and  Bush) and one grandfather and grandson (William Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison) Add to that two cousins (TR and Franklin Roosevelt).

Out of 44 presidents 8 were related family members.  That is close to 20% of our duly elected presidents.  

And how much is each vote worth in a world full of Blagojevich and Daley where votes are bought and sold in every election.  I just heard that in Minnesota Al Frankin edged out his opponent by the exact number of votes cast by convicted felons who do not have the right to vote at all!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 23, 2010, 07:45:50 PM
BTW,  most, if not all  communists  governments were or still are "DEMOCRATIC REPUBLICS" It works not much differently than ours.
 

I always thought that was just a title to confuse those who weren't paying attention.  East Germany, China etc et al are all called People's Democratic Republics, but just how democratic are they and how much of a republic are they?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 23, 2010, 08:00:14 PM
I can give you the short version.
  Even in in a one party state, elections are held.  The local level elects their Representatives, who, in turn  elect the next level of representatives for the  district.  It goes on to the  election of the Congress, who then elect the highest level- the actual government. [The poliitborough]
 In that sense, the society is actually "democratic'
 It is also more complicated than my simplistic  explanation,  but you get the picture.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 23, 2010, 09:03:34 PM
Yes in a one party system there are  or were elections and I think that one of the reasons that most communist systems end is that they run out of steam trying to support a mock system.  The amount of energy needed to run a secret police state and to create the illusion that everyone is equal when a small elite is disproportionately advantaged is enourmous.  Sooner or later the energy required to do that is just not there and the system breaks down.  I remember the incredible optimism of people in Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1990 just after the fall of communism.  By the time of the elections and the break up of Czechoslovakia, in 1993, this had more or less dissipated when events like the suspicious death of Dubcek and the elections of ex communists who had transformed themselves into nationalistic kleptocrats in multi party elections meant that democracy had arrived in a form that they had not expected.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 24, 2010, 03:02:33 AM
Constantinople, I think part of the problem with Communist regimes, in addition to what you've already stated, is that they rely too much on ideology, and after the first generation of revolutionaries, ideology becomes less and less important to individuals and harder and harder to sustain en masse without continual purges and other examples of what is really state violence directed against political dissent, or even merely political disenchantment.

You see this with Stalin and the struggle to the death against Nazi Germany - he had to wheel out all the old tsarist and Orthodox traditions (medals, epaulets, religious rituals, in short good old Russian nationalism) to corral the Soviet peoples into resisting Hitler. Stalin more than anyone understood that not only was the Communist ideology fully understood by relatively few, compared to the entire Soviet population, it was also relatively weak and unsustainable in the face of real external enemies bent on its destruction. But the real problem was not that the majority of Soviet citizens had only partially assimilated Marxism-Leninism as interpreted by Stalin, it was that the leadership itself over the generations gradually became rotten to the core in ideological terms. You have only to read the memoirs of Soviet politicians of this era (granted, memoirs written after glasnost) to realize that by the 1970s, if not before, most of the Soviet leadership no longer believed in Marxism-Leninism, or even for that matter Marx. They were, most of them, infatuated with Western progress and consumer goods, in many cases even more so than with Western ideas.

If even the ruling class no longer believes in the ideology their entire government is based on, then their government is ultimately doomed. I think this holds true for most governments, but especially for Communist ones - because they place such an extraordinary, one might even say inordinate, emphasis on ideology.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 24, 2010, 03:35:32 AM
After having read over all the posts in this thread, which are full of interesting and intelligent remarks all around, I still have to comment: why do most of the people here seem to think that the real evil in the Soviet system started with Stalin? Surely on many levels Stalin merely fulfilled the murderous promise of Lenin. After all, wasn't it Lenin who made state-sponsored terrorism directed against civilians part and parcel of the Bolshevik style of ruling? For example, we could cite his use of firing squads against numerous so-called class enemies and counter-revolutionaries during the Russian Civil War, and, even more ominous, his establishment of concentration camps for political prisoners and (yes, again) so-called class enemies and counter-revolutionaries. These concentration camps persisted even after the conclusion of that terrible war. Yes, Stalin greatly expanded them, but he didn't invent them, did he?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 24, 2010, 09:07:55 AM
I can give you the short version.
  Even in in a one party state, elections are held.  The local level elects their Representatives, who, in turn  elect the next level of representatives for the  district.  It goes on to the  election of the Congress, who then elect the highest level- the actual government. [The politburo]
 In that sense, the society is actually "democratic'
 It is also more complicated than my simplistic  explanation,  but you get the picture.

I think that is what I was asking, but what I was saying is that how Democratic can a one party system be and how can it be considered to belong to the people when the people have no say in the ultimate running of the country and the small politburo is actually running the country.  If I remember correctly from East Germany and as I can see in China and North Korea this small ruling group does not change from election to election (if elections are even held).

The People whose Democratic Republic this is supposed to be have little say in their government and even less to say about their laws and how they are applied.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 24, 2010, 09:13:05 AM
Elizabeth - I think that we know that the whole system began with Lenin and his firing squads and his virtual elimination of the aristocracy during and after the Russian Revolution.

However, Lenin died very soon after the end of the revolution and Stalin ruled a long time.  Stalin is who we remember with his gulags and his purges.

Lenin may have done exactly the same as Stalin had he lived longer and perhaps Stalin was only following the lead set by Lenin, but we can never know if that is the course that would have been taken or continued.

History only shows us over 30 years of Stalin's rule and the inhumanity of his rule.  Even his inhumanity to his own family.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 24, 2010, 12:40:24 PM
Alixz is right, Lenin only ruled for just over five years, while Stalin ruled for almost thirty.  Most of the atrocities were committed under Stalin's rule.

Of course, Lenin is not absolved, as Alixz pointed out, he did order Russia's arisctrocrats to be wiped out.  And let's not forget that poor Nicky and his family were brutally murdered under Lenin's watch.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 24, 2010, 01:27:01 PM
Elizabeth
         if  you think that I think that the problem with communism started with Stalin, you read me incorrectly.  Without Lenin there would be no Stalin, no mass exocutions, no civil war, no lack of democracy, no purges etc.  Lenin was as ruthless as Stalin but had not refined the weapons in his arsenal or had as much of a complete hold on power to facilitate such evil.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 24, 2010, 10:10:13 PM
Elizabeth
         if  you think that I think that the problem with communism started with Stalin, you read me incorrectly.  Without Lenin there would be no Stalin, no mass exocutions, no civil war, no lack of democracy, no purges etc.  Lenin was as ruthless as Stalin but had not refined the weapons in his arsenal or had as much of a complete hold on power to facilitate such evil.

Constantinople, I certainly didn't mean to include you in my last comment. I merely noted that "most" (not all!) of the people here seem to think the evil in the Soviet system really started with Stalin. Maybe I'm misreading things, but somehow I don't think so. Even Alixz is qualifying Lenin's legacy, saying (I'm paraphrasing her) that we can't be sure how things would have turned out because Lenin died prematurely. I, on the contrary, believe that things would have turned out pretty much the same no matter who took over after Lenin - that's the whole point.

First of all, we should remember that there was a very limited number of possible successors to Lenin - in fact Trotsky was really the only other serious contender for leadership of the Soviet state aside from Stalin. (A "moderate" Bolshevik like Bukharin - who had nevertheless signed off on innumerable atrocities during the Revolution and Civil War - would never have prevailed, no matter what Professor Cohen believes.) Keep in mind that Trotsky was a radical leftist even by Bolshevik standards - he believed in perpetual revolution, so no doubt he would have been as big a disaster for the country as Stalin. The forced collectivization of agriculture would probably have happened under Trotsky's rule, and that was by far the worst crime, in terms of human deaths and number of lives permanently ruined, that Stalin and his Bolsheviks ever committed.

I can see how a cult of personality would have developed around Trotsky in charge, too. Like Hitler, he was an intensely charismatic leader, far more charismatic than Stalin. He loved his image, he loved the sound of his own voice, he loved himself. And even now, how many decades later, you still come across the occasional committed "Trotskyite," such is the lingering power of that charisma.

Lenin established the principle of one-party rule and the principle of terror as a legitimate means of government. He set all the precedents for Stalin. In my view Constantinople is absolutely right that without Lenin, there would have been no Stalin.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 24, 2010, 11:39:57 PM
Elizabeth
        On the whole I agree with you  and I am not sure how moderate Trotsky would have been actually if he had taken over the reigns of the communist machine.  He had been head of the army during the civil war and there was no shortage of attrocities there.   My one exception is your statement that Lenin brought a one party system into Russia. What is an autocracy but a one party system.  Lenin just continued Russia's long history of authoritarianism.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 25, 2010, 12:14:28 AM
Elizabeth
        On the whole I agree with you  and I am not sure how moderate Trotsky would have been actually if he had taken over the reigns of the communist machine.  He had been head of the army during the civil war and there was no shortage of attrocities there.   My one exception is your statement that Lenin brought a one party system into Russia. What is an autocracy but a one party system.  Lenin just continued Russia's long history of authoritarianism.

I guess I was referring to Lenin's rule of "democratic centralism," which became the law of the Bolsheviks during the last years of his life, that there could be no factionalism in the Soviet Communist Party. Of course at the time this did not end differences of opinion in the party leadership, not by a long stretch, but it did set a precedent for Stalin to purge any dissenters from his party line in the future.

I agree with you that the Bolsheviks on some level were merely continuing "Russia's long history of authoritarianism," but as you would probably also agree, they took it to a whole new, hitherto unimaginable level.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 25, 2010, 02:06:34 AM
Elizabeth
           Yes i agree with that.  Or maybe they just reverted to the time of the Mongols and Ivan the Terrible.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 25, 2010, 08:05:58 AM
Elizabeth
           Yes i agree with that.  Or maybe they just reverted to the time of the Mongols and Ivan the Terrible.

The Mongols actually weren't as bad as they're made out to be, and as for Ivan IV, he was pathological in a way that Stalin definitely wasn't. If Ivan the Terrible were alive today, with the same psychological profile, I have no doubt he'd be diagnosed as a serial killer. Whereas Stalin was quite "normal" in many respects and certainly doesn't fit our conventional notions of sociopaths and psychopaths, any more than Hitler or Lenin do.

If Ivan was an aberration of Russian history, maybe Stalin was its culmination.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 25, 2010, 08:45:41 AM
Elizabeth
         if  you think that I think that the problem with communism started with Stalin, you read me incorrectly.  Without Lenin there would be no Stalin, no mass executions, no civil war, no lack of democracy, no purges etc.  Lenin was as ruthless as Stalin but had not refined the weapons in his arsenal or had as much of a complete hold on power to facilitate such evil.

Constantinople, I certainly didn't mean to include you in my last comment. I merely noted that "most" (not all!) of the people here seem to think the evil in the Soviet system really started with Stalin. Maybe I'm misreading things, but somehow I don't think so. Even Alixz is qualifying Lenin's legacy, saying (I'm paraphrasing her) that we can't be sure how things would have turned out because Lenin died prematurely. I, on the contrary, believe that things would have turned out pretty much the same no matter who took over after Lenin - that's the whole point.


Lenin established the principle of one-party rule and the principle of terror as a legitimate means of government. He set all the precedents for Stalin. In my view Constantinople is absolutely right that without Lenin, there would have been no Stalin.

Elizabeth, that is what I meant by saying that because Lenin died after ruling for short a time, that we might have seen the same party line and the same type of purges as Stalin ordered, but only from Lenin.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on July 25, 2010, 09:04:07 AM
The Mongols actually weren't as bad as they're made out to be, and as for Ivan IV, he was pathological in a way that Stalin definitely wasn't. If Ivan the Terrible were alive today, with the same psychological profile, I have no doubt he'd be diagnosed as a serial killer. Whereas Stalin was quite "normal" in many respects and certainly doesn't fit our conventional notions of sociopaths and psychopaths, any more than Hitler or Lenin do.

If Ivan was an aberration of Russian history, maybe Stalin was its culmination.

Elizabeth,

Absolutely agree that Ivan IV was on of the most important factors/points in the case of Russian historical wrong way and slowly degradation, but I think it (degradation and choice of wrong way) is started very long before Mr Ivan IV. He was probably the most bright point in this thing, but not the first and not the most important. On my opinion mandatory Orthodox baptism in Kiev Rus (Orthodox church is an example of absolute brutality and total orthodoxy to itself) among Russians by Vladimir in 988 and defeat of the last democratic/free and independent from Moscow rulership republics, Novgorod and Pskov in 15th century by Ivan III are the first and most important factors here. Ivan IV and Stalin here are only continuation of this irreversible line.

After this tragic actions, even the man with Napoleon skills could not help Russia during it's short liberalizations. Even Alexander II and Yeltsin (not bad as a leaders) are far from these people;(.

Sorry for off-topic.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on July 25, 2010, 09:32:25 AM
I'm sorry, but I'd like to ask something to you guys:
We all know North Corea is a country with a sad history, and with a governor who isn't flexible at all... But the people from North Corea, at least most of them, don't really care, and we all know how cruel the government could be. I wonder howpeople can agree with such things, eventough their own relatives are harmed. They have a great respect for the governor, of course they are scared, but they do like him. If they wanted, they could easily take him of the power, instead they agree. Do you think a governor have such power, to get people to trully agree with atrocities? I mean, we had in German Hitler, but it wasn't everyine who accepted his as their ruler. What do you guys think of that?

I know it's out of topic, but I started to think about it.
LadyN.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 25, 2010, 09:37:00 AM
The Mongols actually weren't as bad as they're made out to be, and as for Ivan IV, he was pathological in a way that Stalin definitely wasn't. If Ivan the Terrible were alive today, with the same psychological profile, I have no doubt he'd be diagnosed as a serial killer. Whereas Stalin was quite "normal" in many respects and certainly doesn't fit our conventional notions of sociopaths and psychopaths, any more than Hitler or Lenin do.

If Ivan was an aberration of Russian history, maybe Stalin was its culmination.

Elizabeth,

Absolutely agree that Ivan IV was on of the most important factors/points in the case of Russian historical wrong way and slowly degradation, but I think it (degradation and choice of wrong way) is started very long before Mr Ivan IV. He was probably the most bright point in this thing, but not the first and not the most important. On my opinion mandatory Orthodox baptism in Kiev Rus (Orthodox church is an example of absolute brutality and total orthodoxy to itself) among Russians by Vladimir in 988 and defeat of the last democratic/free and independent from Moscow rulership republics, Novgorod and Pskov in 15th century by Ivan III are the first and most important factors here. Ivan IV and Stalin here are only continuation of this irreversible line.

After this tragic actions, even the man with Napoleon skills could not help Russia during it's short liberalizations. Even Alexander II and Yeltsin (not bad as a leaders) are far from these people;(.

Sorry for off-topic.

Hi, Nicola! Ivan did indeed constitute a terrible event in Russian history, perhaps his reign was even the decisive turning point, I simply don't know. It's a matter of much debate. I do, however, tend to believe that Russia was not doomed to authoritarian government as early as the ninth century! Even Charlemagne forcibly converted some of his subjects to Christianity, around the same time, and is France or Germany a tyranny? It seems to me that even long after Ivan IV, Russia could have reversed its course and gone down the path toward democracy. If Alexander II had lived, for example, and not been assassinated by that horrendous bunch of criminals, the People's Will, it seems to me that Russia's history in the twentieth century might have been very different. Because even if AII was only prepared to offer a very limited restriction of his powers as tsar, it was still a restriction... and the way was paved for a true constitutional government. But of course the worst thing happened, as it always seems to do in Russian history, and Alexander II was murdered and his reactionary retrograde son Alexander III came to the throne... that was the real moment of doom, I think.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 25, 2010, 09:41:47 AM
I'm sorry, but I'd like to ask something to you guys:
We all know North Corea is a country with a sad history, and with a governor who isn't flexible at all... But the people from North Corea, at least most of them, don't really care, and we all know how cruel the government could be. I wonder howpeople can agree with such things, eventough their own relatives are harmed. They have a great respect for the governor, of course they are scared, but they do like him. If they wanted, they could easily take him of the power, instead they agree. Do you think a governor have such power, to get people to trully agree with atrocities? I mean, we had in German Hitler, but it wasn't everyine who accepted his as their ruler. What do you guys think of that?

I know it's out of topic, but I started to think about it.
LadyN.

The people of North Korea are starving, their children suffer from such horrible malnutrition that it affects their brain development - I honestly don't think people living in such terrible conditions, where survival itself is a daily struggle, are in any position at all to revolt against a tyrannical government. Did you watch the World Cup? The North Korean team looked stunted and undernourished. The only person with a potbelly in North Korea is the leader himself.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Sergei Witte on July 25, 2010, 09:42:23 AM
I'm sorry, but I'd like to ask something to you guys:
We all know North Corea is a country with a sad history, and with a governor who isn't flexible at all... But the people from North Corea, at least most of them, don't really care, and we all know how cruel the government could be. I wonder howpeople can agree with such things, eventough their own relatives are harmed. They have a great respect for the governor, of course they are scared, but they do like him. If they wanted, they could easily take him of the power, instead they agree. Do you think a governor have such power, to get people to trully agree with atrocities? I mean, we had in German Hitler, but it wasn't everyine who accepted his as their ruler. What do you guys think of that?

I know it's out of topic, but I started to think about it.
LadyN.

Lady Nikolaievna,

I try to say something about North Korea which I believe are important facts.

1) Millions of Korean civilians were killed during the Korean War by American troups. This made the Americans a natural enemy in the eyes of the Koreans.

2) More than 50 years of brain-washig and propaganda did their additional job.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Nicolá De Valerón on July 25, 2010, 09:58:52 AM
The Mongols actually weren't as bad as they're made out to be, and as for Ivan IV, he was pathological in a way that Stalin definitely wasn't. If Ivan the Terrible were alive today, with the same psychological profile, I have no doubt he'd be diagnosed as a serial killer. Whereas Stalin was quite "normal" in many respects and certainly doesn't fit our conventional notions of sociopaths and psychopaths, any more than Hitler or Lenin do.

If Ivan was an aberration of Russian history, maybe Stalin was its culmination.

Elizabeth,

Absolutely agree that Ivan IV was on of the most important factors/points in the case of Russian historical wrong way and slowly degradation, but I think it (degradation and choice of wrong way) is started very long before Mr Ivan IV. He was probably the most bright point in this thing, but not the first and not the most important. On my opinion mandatory Orthodox baptism in Kiev Rus (Orthodox church is an example of absolute brutality and total orthodoxy to itself) among Russians by Vladimir in 988 and defeat of the last democratic/free and independent from Moscow rulership republics, Novgorod and Pskov in 15th century by Ivan III are the first and most important factors here. Ivan IV and Stalin here are only continuation of this irreversible line.

After this tragic actions, even the man with Napoleon skills could not help Russia during it's short liberalizations. Even Alexander II and Yeltsin (not bad as a leaders) are far from these people;(.

Sorry for off-topic.

Hi, Nicola! Ivan did indeed constitute a terrible event in Russian history, perhaps his reign was even the decisive turning point, I simply don't know. It's a matter of much debate. I do, however, tend to believe that Russia was not doomed to authoritarian government as early as the ninth century! Even Charlemagne forcibly converted some of his subjects to Christianity, around the same time, and is France or Germany a tyranny? It seems to me that even long after Ivan IV, Russia could have reversed its course and gone down the path toward democracy. If Alexander II had lived, for example, and not been assassinated by that horrendous bunch of criminals, the People's Will, it seems to me that Russia's history in the twentieth century might have been very different. Because even if AII was only prepared to offer a very limited restriction of his powers as tsar, it was still a restriction... and the way was paved for a true constitutional government. But of course the worst thing happened, as it always seems to do in Russian history, and Alexander II was murdered and his reactionary retrograde son Alexander III came to the throne... that was the real moment of doom, I think.

Elisabeth, Hello!

But where is the dispute?;). I've only said that this "wrong way" was started before Ivan IV. He is only the most visible and bright point here. Sometimes even intelligent people with intellect, but with no understanding of specific Russian problems say - "Ivan IV was an evil, who started all the bad things". Of course he was an evil, but without Ivan III who killed thousands of Novgorod people (he rolled them under the ice) and without absolutely mandatory orthodox (in all meanings) Religion, there would not be Ivan IV. Just sober sequence. Ivan IV was a brutal and absolute continuator, but not the person who started these irreversible consequences...

Of course there were a lot of chances for Russia after this tragic start (from liberalisations of Godunov, A-I and C-II to A-II with Yeltsin), but if honestly I think that the first wrong actions were so catastrophic, that only God can help. Interesting that he (God) is still not going to help even now;).
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 25, 2010, 11:32:19 AM
having dealth with diagnosed sociopaths and psychopaths as part of a job i had a long time ago,  I can tell you that Stalin and Hitler both fit the bill as either socio or psychopaths.  Basically both feel absolutely no remorse for the dreadful things they do.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 25, 2010, 12:44:22 PM
I am listening to an interview with Oscar Brand who had the honour of being one of the few people who was banned by both the American Communist party and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 25, 2010, 01:25:45 PM
 I did not know he- Oscar Brand was still alive, he must be approaching 100 by now!
 I knew of him as a  humorist folksinger and radio  broadcaster,  much like Garrison Keillor with a bite and his  Prairie Home Companion.
 ASFAIK, he was never a member of the CPUSA,  and he detested Stalin. Although he did support  Socialist causes and anti-war stances.
 HUAC notoriously banned [more  correctly- BLACKLISTED] many people, with no legal right to do so. It has NEVER been illegal to be a member or supporter of  the Communist Party.  Or any other party, for that mater.  The McCarthys and Birchers did more to undermine the US constitution than the CP ever even dreamed of.
 Could not resist posting on this, as he  is a great influence on social activism and folk,music, both  US and Canadian.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 25, 2010, 01:38:17 PM
He is not only alive but still broadcasting.  Among people he discovered are Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.  Every Canadian my age knows his songs.  He was responsible for developing Sesame Street in its initial form and Oscar the Grouch was named for him.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 25, 2010, 08:34:15 PM
having dealth with diagnosed sociopaths and psychopaths as part of a job i had a long time ago,  I can tell you that Stalin and Hitler both fit the bill as either socio or psychopaths.  Basically both feel absolutely no remorse for the dreadful things they do.

I would defer to your knowledge, Constantinople, except that I have read extensively on this subject. I don't find psychiatry at all scientific in its so-called findings, especially when it is applied to individuals of above-average intelligence. Ivan the Terrible certainly felt remorse for his crimes. Otherwise he wouldn't have prayed for his victims, as he frequently did, or had masses said for them. And yet Ivan was undoubtedly pathological and undoubtedly (well, at least to my mind) a serial killer. He not only initiated mass murders, he fully participated in them, and he seems to have derived great sadistic pleasure from the very act of torturing and murdering his subjects. Yet then he would have these bouts of remorse and prayer. Modern psychiatry can't account for this, at least, not the stuff I've read.

I also thought it was a hallmark of sociopaths and psychopaths that they are incapable of forming emotional attachments to others. Yet Hitler dearly loved his mother (to the extent that the Jewish doctor attending his mother during her illness and subsequent death said that he had never before seen a son so devastated by the loss of his mother). Stalin was deeply attached to his wife, however badly he might have treated her (she treated him badly as well), and there's no question but that he loved his daughter Svetlana, at least when she was a child.

No, the more I read about such people the more I realize that these psychiatric categorizations (which, by the way, change dramatically every 25 years or so, if not every year as is the case sometimes) fail to explain the most important aspect of human behavior, that is, psychiatry can't explain evil geniuses. Which is a major failing, of course, since evil geniuses were to blame for the horrific, unprecedented death toll of the twentieth century.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 26, 2010, 12:01:25 AM
Psychiatry like all things makes mistakes and psychiatrists mis diagnnose some patients but on the whole it is better than no knowledge.  I worked with psychopaths for a while and had 3 on my case load.  All of them had some attachment to maybe one or two people, sometimes a daughter and some of them were intelligent enough to be able to feign affection so that they would be evaluated as more humane.  As for historical assessments, what are they using but usually written records or maybe interviews. And perhaps normative assessments based on these.  All the psychopaths that I dealt with were highly charismatic and this made them appear less dangerous than they actually were.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 26, 2010, 08:24:10 AM
Psychiatry like all things makes mistakes and psychiatrists mis diagnnose some patients but on the whole it is better than no knowledge.  I worked with psychopaths for a while and had 3 on my case load.  All of them had some attachment to maybe one or two people, sometimes a daughter and some of them were intelligent enough to be able to feign affection so that they would be evaluated as more humane.  As for historical assessments, what are they using but usually written records or maybe interviews. And perhaps normative assessments based on these.  All the psychopaths that I dealt with were highly charismatic and this made them appear less dangerous than they actually were.

I agree that Stalin, Hitler, and so on were "highly charismatic and this made them appear less dangerous than they actually were." Of course this is true, but that doesn't make all of them psychopaths. Whatever "psychopath" means. Because as far as I can make out, the official definition is constantly changing.

Furthermore, I don't believe Hitler was "feigning" affection for his mother when she lay dying or that Stalin was "feigning" affection for his wife when he wrote countless notes to her inquiring about her health and reassuring her of his love. He also felt obvious affection for many of his colleagues whom he later purged.

Much psychiatry like Freudian psychoanalysis is teleological, it looks at the result and then makes the existing facts fit that result. I simply don't agree with this version of reality. IMHO, the psychological profiles/biographies of twentieth-century dictators are far more complicated. Every individual is different and it's dangerous to generalize at this level.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 26, 2010, 11:21:02 AM
I would agree about the complexity and also about a lot of psychiatry is fitting symptoms to a matrix.  As for the other things, we can agree to disagree.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 26, 2010, 01:20:57 PM
Is this why communisim doesn't work?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 26, 2010, 02:05:57 PM
It is one of the reasons that communism has attracted dysfunctional leaders.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 26, 2010, 03:10:25 PM



That may be true, Janet, but Stalin, Ceaucescu, Mao, Kim Il Sung, Pol Pot, and all the rest called themselves Communists and it was Communism that allowed them to come to power in the first place. 
 
 


I don't agree, Tim. None of these men came to power proclaiming themselves killers as if it were somehow an intrinsic part of what Communism represented. Most of them came to power as a result of economic and political melt-down in their countries, and one fundamental difference between what Marx taught and most countries which attempted to practice communism is that these countries were often largely rural, whereas his ideas were predicated on an urban proletariat. So, from the start, they had to deviate from his ideas. To argue that "Communism allowed them to come to power" is like condemning the idea of democracy just because Hitler was able to maneouvre himself into the Reichstag.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 26, 2010, 03:37:20 PM
Quote
None of these men came to power proclaiming themselves killers


That's not what I said, Janet.  I said they called themselves Communists, but their actions were nothing Marx would have approved of.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 26, 2010, 03:54:15 PM
Quote
None of these men came to power proclaiming themselves killers


That's not what I said, Janet.  I said they called themselves Communists, but their actions were nothing Marx would have approved of.

Hi Tim
  I apologise if I misunderstood what you said - I took your comment about "whatever ideals Marx had" he was associated forever with Stalin et. al to be rather a grudging suggestion that he may have had some, rather than an overt suggestion that he might have disapproved of those who claimed to follow his ideals. But that wasn't really the purpose of my post....I was trying to move the discussion away from the suggestion that Communism per se was responsible for these unpleasant men coming to power. In my opinion, it was not.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 26, 2010, 04:26:29 PM
Actually if you are citing Russia as an example, it wasn't the serfs and especially not Kulaks who supported Lenin and the Bosheviks, it was the urban proletariat who were the vanguard of revolution in places like St Petersburg and Moscow.  Most of the rural poor did not trust Lenin.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 26, 2010, 08:11:57 PM
The burgeoning "middle class" workers were the ones who supported Lenin et al.  Suddenly Russia had become a manufacturing county and produced a class of working men and women who moved to the cities to find jobs and then lived in squalor and poverty even though they worked very hard.

The students also supported the Bolsheviks, but then students in most revolutions begin to strike and protest even though they are still young and still learning and may not yet have understood the entire picture.  I am not saying that student protests are wrong, only that many times their parents have worked very hard to get the money to send their children to get a better education and the students find more interesting things to do outside of the university.

Had the manufacturing jobs not brought the newly freed serfs to the cities perhaps they would have not trusted Lenin either.

Also a change in the military would have been a good thing.  When a person was "drafted" into military service it was for 25 years.  Most families never expected to see their military children again.  If the term of service had been shortened and there was any hope of ever returning to their homes and families before they were old men, the military might not have been so eager to support the Bolsheviks either.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 26, 2010, 08:17:25 PM
But in the end, I think that communism doesn't work because it assumes that you are ready to give up your personal freedom and personal likes and dislikes to become one with the commune.

You must want to be told what to do and when to do it.  You must be ready to give up your individual dreams for the dreams of the commune.

And you must be able to ignore the fact that while you are giving up everything that you want, your leaders are living a life of luxury and have taken what you gave up for themselves.

You can no loner be an individual - only part of the "hive".

That is why the idea of bartering instead of using money didn't work.  You may have corn and you want my wheat, but if I don't want your corn then you are stuck.  Only something like money that we both would want will seal that deal.  Lenin found that out before he died and went back to the monetary system.

Marx and Engels had "pie in the sky" ideas of a perfect society, but people are not perfect and their leaders are the worst of the lot.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: newfan on July 26, 2010, 10:47:39 PM
Alixz
You hit the nail on the head!!:)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 26, 2010, 10:50:10 PM
I thought that after the Crimean war that Russian conscriptiion was 6 years of active duty with a period of 9 years of reserve.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 27, 2010, 07:35:03 AM
C - you may be correct.  I got that number, though, on a piece about Nicholas I.  That was pre Crimean War.  It makes sense that Alexander II would have shortened the term of service.  He was the only Tsar who seemed to have any sense when it came to the welfare and mind set of
his subjects.

Do you have a source for your information?  I am going to look up mine, if I still have it.  But that number stuck in my mind because it seemed so outrageous.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 27, 2010, 01:23:45 PM
I got it from Wikipedia
just type conscription imperial russia wiki into google
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 27, 2010, 08:40:47 PM
Daily Life in Russia under the Last Tsar by Henri Troyat p. 115:
>>...since the reforms of << [1 Jan]>>1874 military service was compulsory for everyone in Russia from twenty-one to forty-years of age, without any possibility of buying out or substitution.  the men passed as 'fit' were registered either in the ranks of the regular army, or in the territorial reserve.  Active army service was for eighteen years, five of which were with the colours and thirteen with the reserve or militia.  In view of the enormous size of the  [p. 116] population only the young men selected by lot were incorporated into the regular army.  The rest were called up only in the event of war by Emperor's edict.<<

Before 1874 a man was taken into the army for 25 years and served the full  25 years.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 27, 2010, 09:02:10 PM
The burgeoning "middle class" workers were the ones who supported Lenin et al.  Suddenly Russia had become a manufacturing county and produced a class of working men and women who moved to the cities to find jobs and then lived in squalor and poverty even though they worked very hard.

The students also supported the Bolsheviks, but then students in most revolutions begin to strike and protest even though they are still young and still learning and may not yet have understood the entire picture.  I am not saying that student protests are wrong, only that many times their parents have worked very hard to get the money to send their children to get a better education and the students find more interesting things to do outside of the university.

Had the manufacturing jobs not brought the newly freed serfs to the cities perhaps they would have not trusted Lenin either.

Also a change in the military would have been a good thing.  When a person was "drafted" into military service it was for 25 years.  Most families never expected to see their military children again.  If the term of service had been shortened and there was any hope of ever returning to their homes and families before they were old men, the military might not have been so eager to support the Bolsheviks either.

I wrote a source which agrees with you  only in more detail.   When I find it,  I'll bring it here.  Meanwhile,  let me add a few more bites and pieces.   The Bolsheviks (because that is what they called themselves in those early times)  were for the first time able to reach the serfs who had been out of reach when they had lived in the country but all the industrialization had brought many many young people into the cities where they could be within earshot of  the Bolsheviks  and other  groups.  Since most of these young people found themselves dissatisfied in being used and abused in the factories, etc. etc.,    they stopped and listened to the voices that were shouting out  what they were thinking, such as more rights for the worker and better working conditions....

Gotta run.  I'll add more later.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on July 28, 2010, 09:40:50 AM
On what basis did military service change in the Communist era ? Pre 1874 seems awful as one spent most of ones life in the army. I think if you were an officer things were probably not so bad, but if you were a "foot soldier" you were a slave to the goverment for most of your life.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 28, 2010, 09:46:56 AM
I don't know about the Communist era.

However, I had read about the 25 year enlistment and that was why the families did not expect to ever see their military members again.

It was a life (to me) of servitude by the already enslaved serfs.

It is no wonder that the people were ready for change.  I know that all aristocrats were also serving, mostly for life, but for the common man who had been ripped from his family and moved to a barracks thousands of miles away, it is no wonder that the Bolshevik's plans sounded good.

Can you imagine being conscripted at the age of 21 and not being allowed to return to your family until you were 46?  That is if an occasional war did claim your life first.

1874 would have been during the reign of Alexander II who was the most enlightened of the Tsars.  But the change while good must have seemed to be a very heavy burden still.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on July 28, 2010, 10:27:55 AM
The burgeoning "middle class" workers were the ones who supported Lenin et al.  Suddenly Russia had become a manufacturing county and produced a class of working men and women who moved to the cities to find jobs and then lived in squalor and poverty even though they worked very hard.

The students also supported the Bolsheviks, but then students in most revolutions begin to strike and protest even though they are still young and still learning and may not yet have understood the entire picture.  I am not saying that student protests are wrong, only that many times their parents have worked very hard to get the money to send their children to get a better education and the students find more interesting things to do outside of the university.

Had the manufacturing jobs not brought the newly freed serfs to the cities perhaps they would have not trusted Lenin either.

Also a change in the military would have been a good thing.  When a person was "drafted" into military service it was for 25 years.  Most families never expected to see their military children again.  If the term of service had been shortened and there was any hope of ever returning to their homes and families before they were old men, the military might not have been so eager to support the Bolsheviks either.

Alixz, I don't know where on earth you got the idea that the Russian middle class supported the Bolsheviks. They were for the most part very liberal but not radical by any stretch of the imagination. It was the urban working class in Petersburg and Moscow that primarily supported the Bolsheviks, and even there (among this miniscule proportion of the total population) many supported the Socialist Revolutionaries. But of course the Bolsheviks gained adherents among the proletariat with the political disenchantment that necessarily attached itself to World War I.

Also, Constantinople is correct, the Russian draft was not for twenty-five years by 1914. Back in the mid-nineteenth century Alexander II, the Tsar Liberator, reformed the military as he did so many other aspects of Russia's institutions and society.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 28, 2010, 12:16:25 PM
Elizabeth - forgive me.  I meant the urban working class and called them the "middle class" by mistake. I even stated that they were "a class of working men and women who moved to the cities to find jobs and then lived in squalor and poverty..."

Also, I think that we had concluded and I also posted that Alexander II had changed the military service requirements.

Anything else?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 28, 2010, 07:03:09 PM
Daily Life in Russia under the Last Tsar by Henri Troyat p. 115:
>>...since the reforms of << [1 Jan]>>1874 military service was compulsory for everyone in Russia from twenty-one to forty-years of age, without any possibility of buying out or substitution.  the men passed as 'fit' were registered either in the ranks of the regular army, or in the territorial reserve.  Active army service was for eighteen years, five of which were with the colours and thirteen with the reserve or militia.  In view of the enormous size of the  [p. 116] population only the young men selected by lot were incorporated into the regular army.  The rest were called up only in the event of war by Emperor's edict.<<

Before 1874 a man was taken into the army for 25 years and served the full  25 years.

AGRBear

After 1874 it was 5 years active service, followed by being in the  reserves for 18 more years, which meant they could return to their home and families.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 28, 2010, 10:19:50 PM
I would class Lenin, Trotsky and most members of the Kadet party as middle class.  Lenin was a lawyer and intellectual, Trotsky was educated as an economist and a high proportion of the Kadet party who were leftist were university students.  The middle class was small (less than 10%) and the upper class much smaller so without the involvement of the urban proletariat, not much would have changed and with the disaffection in the army, the time (1917) was ready for any change.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 29, 2010, 07:03:16 AM
Actually if you are citing Russia as an example, it wasn't the serfs and especially not Kulaks who supported Lenin and the Bosheviks, it was the urban proletariat who were the vanguard of revolution in places like St Petersburg and Moscow.  Most of the rural poor did not trust Lenin.

There was considerable land hunger among peasants, though, evident in a whole series of disturbances leading up to 1917, and the Bolsheviks tapped right into this. Russia being a mainly agrarian eceonomy they were obliged to add a program for the peasants, irrespecive of who supported them in the beginnng, and even their hammer and sickle flag was supposed to reperesent the two bases of power - proletarian and peasant. This is what I mean about the deviations from Marxist theory.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 29, 2010, 07:40:23 AM
My impression from my research is that there were occasional insurections on estates by peasants but they werent widespread and there certainly wasn't any support from the kulacks.  There had been land hunger since the freeing of the serfs but most peasants even in 1917 were illiterate, so I am not sure how the Bolsheviiks, Mensheviks or anyone else would have spread their ideological message.  If Lenin did promise the peasants land then that would have turned out to be a cheap trick once collectiviasation started.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 29, 2010, 09:54:48 AM
Kulaks were former peasants in Russia who owned medium-sized farms as a result of the reforms introduced by Peter Stolypin in 1906. Stolypin's intention was to create a stable group of prosperous farmers who would form a natural conservative political force. By the outbreak of the First World War it was estimated that around 15 per cent of Russian farmers were kulaks.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSkulaks.htm
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on July 29, 2010, 12:50:10 PM
My impression from my research is that there were occasional insurections on estates by peasants but they werent widespread and there certainly wasn't any support from the kulacks.  There had been land hunger since the freeing of the serfs but most peasants even in 1917 were illiterate, so I am not sure how the Bolsheviiks, Mensheviks or anyone else would have spread their ideological message.  If Lenin did promise the peasants land then that would have turned out to be a cheap trick once collectiviasation started.

THis may be an issue of timescales?
In the revolution of 1905, rural discontent was a significant factor, leading to harsh reprisals later (hence "Stolypin's necktie") and the eventual policy to start selling land, thereby creating the "kulak" class, which was not, however, ever of sufficient size to act as quite te bulwark Nicholas and Stolypin wanted.
 
In 1917, the Provisional Government's refusal to address the demands of the Land Committees cost them dear when Lenin popped up with his slogan of "Peace, Land and Bread" and the Bolsheviks in their early days in power passed laws legitimizing the seizure of estates by the rural poor. All this is a good decade before collectivisation began - though that in turn was theoretically conceived as a means of peasants taking ownership of the land - to hold it in common rather than privately, of course, and many supported it as a consequence.

It would have come as a big surprise to Karl Marx, who thought the agrarian population inactive and unlikely to be agents of revolution.

I actually didn't think any of this was controversial, though the reasons for it have been debated endlessly, with Marxist historians (e.g. Hobsbawn) arguing that capitalist activity in the countryside had politicized the rural poor, while others see rising standards of living as a factor ("there is no moment so dangerous for a regime as that in which it begins to reform itself") and still others have declared that the picture varied from place to place, depending upon local conditions.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 29, 2010, 01:14:35 PM
I would agree with that.  The rural uprisings i was referring to were a lot earlier but Lenin fuelled rural uprisings generally.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on July 29, 2010, 03:16:24 PM
Kulaks were former peasants in Russia who owned medium-sized farms as a result of the reforms introduced by Peter Stolypin in 1906. Stolypin's intention was to create a stable group of prosperous farmers who would form a natural conservative political force. By the outbreak of the First World War it was estimated that around 15 per cent of Russian farmers were kulaks.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/RUSkulaks.htm

As people discuss this subject, perhaps, they could mention the village, city, province or at least the general area.... if relating a story.

Back on the other thread I had mentioned that I would explain what "Kulaks" meant to my families who lived in Russia.  But first, let me give you the diffinition given in a book about Russian History.  It tells me that a Kulak in Russia was  "wealthy peasants" in later years of the Romanov reign into the early Lenin and Stalin years.  It says Kulaks before 1917 were more than landowners, they were prominent in village / local affairs.  After the Revolution of 1917 the Kulacks favored the New Economic Policy [in the Duma and Provionsal Govt.]. This was replaced by Lenin's govt.. When Stalin came along he raised their taxes and transformed  [a kinder word than requistioned] their lands and made them into collective farms.  The "kulakization program" led to the execution and exile of many of the kulaks.

Now, if you actually had a family who lived through this time,  one hears quite a different story.  Surprise, surprise, surprise  ;D  

The early diffinition of a "kulak" refered to a landowner who had taken his fist to his peasant workers.  The Bolsheviks liked this symbolic logo of "all rich people"  being viewed as "evil" with their "fists" raised against the worker on posters.  As time progressed,  and, as the revolutionaries grew in number and Lenin had lost control of many parts of Russia,  the "kulak" took on different forms in the eyes of the revolutionaries.  Depending upon the revolutionary as to how good or evil he/she was,  this also depended upon who it was who was called a "kulak".  In the worst of times,  a "kulak" became a person who had something a revolutionary wanted.  It could have just been a pair of boots to a cow or a small shop or large shop or land.....  

A "kulak" was given the label of "enemy of the Soviet people"....

And what did the Bolshviks do to the "enemy of the Soviet people"?
Again that depended upon the revolutionaries in charge of the area.  If the  "kulak"  was wearing boots the Bolshevik wanted he was either was lucky if he was able to   walked away barefoot but often times the "kulak" went to jail or sent to Siberia in box cars or was  shot.

Soon,  there were men and boys lined up outside of their village and shot.  

Some of the men who disapeared at gunpoint, just were never seen again.

There were train box cars that were filled with thousands and thousand [no one knows the exact number] of "kulaks" [men, women and children] who were sent to Siberia where the majority of them  died and were stacked like cords of wood.

This did occur in all of my family villages in  "The Black Sea" area,  which were German colonies created by Alexander I.  [There were earlier villages in the Volga which were created under Catherine II "the Geat" in the later part of the 1700s.]

 Each group of German-Russians from the Baltic to the Black Sea to the Volga to Siberia has their own stories about how they were affected by Tsars, the Red Army and Stalin different.

I'm running too long.  But that is what happen to some of the "peasants" who were members of my family living in Russia from 1917-the 1960s.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on July 30, 2010, 09:35:13 AM
Getting back to the Ceacescues ( ? ), I think more than any Communist dictators thusfar they were among the most grotesque. I fail to understand why they lasted as long as they did. The same can be asked of all the others probably.
My neighbour is a very nice Roumanian man who experienced the worst of their rule and survived as a very emotionally damaged person.
He is a stained glass artist, and worked on the Ceaucescue's ( my spelling !!) hideous monstrosity of a "Palace", in Bucharest, and can tell some really bizarre stories about them. ( After a couple of whiskeys)
When he was working in this building, " Palace of Kitsch" as he calls it, she (Mrs C) once crept up behind him silently to observe him installing a window. It took a few minutes for him to realise that she was breathing down his neck, and when he turned around, there she was in a dressing gown and slippers. He recalls her silent and evil presence as very sinister, and remembers the room going "cold" when she entered. He also remembers her as not being a particularly intelligent person, very abrupt and rude. ( The building remains as an enormous monument to their bad taste) , and it still looms over the city.

Why on earth would anyone want to exhume Mr and Mrs C ?
Roumania must be the best example of why communism does not work, I think.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on July 30, 2010, 10:56:34 AM
I would say that as bad as Romania was, North Korea is far worse.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 30, 2010, 11:25:39 AM
 Const.. I have not been to North Korea yet, and have only  the report of my friend to go by, so I really cannot  say what it is like first hand.
  And Pavlov-  your assessment of the Romainian  Ceausescu's[?] is pretty much the same as mine! I have met several Romanians and NOT ONE of them regret their "demise" They were much hated.  On the other hand, I know people from other  former communist countries that have varying degrees of  missing their old regimes. There are still people who miss the dreadful Miloslavics and even Stalin!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 30, 2010, 11:32:51 AM
Yeah, some people do miss Stalin.  Of course, you have neo-Nazis who praised Hitler.  These leaders, no matter how horrible they were, will always have admirers, it seems.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: PAVLOV on August 01, 2010, 08:35:30 AM
HUMAN NATURE IS A VERY STRANGE THING. I find it difficult to understand how any human being can miss Hitler and Stalin.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Lady Nikolaievna on August 01, 2010, 08:50:35 AM
I always think about that. That's why I mentioned North Corea. There are people who think they did a great job. There are people who want to continue their works.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 01, 2010, 10:09:43 AM

 Although I cannot think of any justification for Hitler AT ALL, and would agree that those would admire him are rather lacking However, millions did admire him, like the so-called lemmings.
 Stalin is another matter altogether. Not a few Russians [mainly older, from the WW2  generation]  see him as the saviour of Russia,  defeating the Nazis.   Some also miss the ordered social life;  low crime,  Soviet prestige & power [respect, I guess]
 Lady N, you obviously do not know much about North Korea.  It is a social experiment in progress.  They have not done a great job, it is not finished. Who knows if it ever will be?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 01, 2010, 12:36:54 PM
 
Quote
Stalin is another matter altogether. Not a few Russians [mainly older, from the WW2  generation]  see him as the saviour of Russia

Yeah, but this generation is dying off. 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 01, 2010, 01:57:44 PM
Is it TimM ?  There many looking back. After all this whole forum is about just that- looking back. As I have said before, I am not defending anyone, least of all Stalin, Hitler or anyone else.  Simply  arguing for objectivity and  understanding. of other's points of view. Dogmatism & closed-mindedness brought in  as well took down many regimes. To illustrate this,  many years ago, I was assigned a topic in a discussion/debate class in school.  Hitler- of all people.  I resarched what as well who he was, and then went on with the challenge.  I did not believe a word of it,  but it actually was a a very important exercise. More people should try it- Devil's Advocate.
   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 01, 2010, 04:43:10 PM
well if N korea is an experiment then the location of the laboratory must be hell.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 01, 2010, 04:57:54 PM
Of course I do not know, Const. as visitors see only what they want you to see.  Which is the best side of that "experiment".  I did notice, however, that when the border between the 2 Koreas was open for a while,  not many from the North defected to the South.  Not sure why this was, but it does say something... what that is, I could not say.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 02, 2010, 12:09:07 AM
Of course I do not know, Const. as visitors see only what they want you to see.  Which is the best side of that "experiment".  I did notice, however, that when the border between the 2 Koreas was open for a while,  not many from the North defected to the South.  Not sure why this was, but it does say something... what that is, I could not say.

The first time my husband and I took a bus tour into East Berlin, which was under the USSR at that time,  the bus driver was only allowed to drive certain streets.  This gave us, the tourist, the view of the front of the building that were patched, painted and gave us the belief that the everything was fine. The back of the buildings were falling apart.... Back in Catherine II "the Great's" time, Potemkin set up village fronts that looked clean and marvelous.  The villagers were dressed in new clothes and boots so  everything and everyone looked great for the Empress to see.  So, the USSR wasn't doing something for the first time.  Behind the paint and the new clothes were people in terrible poverty.  

There is terrible poverty in the USA and it can be found all over the world.  And, wanting poverty to vanish is a song sung by most people and socialism seems to be the answer for some.  Communist leaders like Lenin and Stalin sang this song but they had no real intent  to do such a thing because they were after power. And,  as far as I have witnessed or have learned about through others,  communism always proves to fail because the leaders are still after absolute power.   Humans survive best when they are free, have individual rights and are protected by laws enforced by people who believe in freedom, individual rights and do onto others as they would have them do onto them.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 02, 2010, 02:12:30 AM
Well that is curious because there is a common stream of defectors.  Anyone who has actually seen the reality of N Korea knows that there is extensive shortages of even basic goods.  My assumption is that the NK government made sure that noone who was likely to defect was anywhere near the border before the border actually opened.  During the exchanges and family reconcialiations, the NK government was especially vigilant in ensuring that anyone who went to the south had several family members under house arrest to ensure a return.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 06, 2010, 06:39:41 AM
Is it TimM ?  There many looking back. After all this whole forum is about just that- looking back. As I have said before, I am not defending anyone, least of all Stalin, Hitler or anyone else.  Simply  arguing for objectivity and  understanding. of other's points of view. Dogmatism & closed-mindedness brought in  as well took down many regimes. To illustrate this,  many years ago, I was assigned a topic in a discussion/debate class in school.  Hitler- of all people.  I resarched what as well who he was, and then went on with the challenge.  I did not believe a word of it,  but it actually was a a very important exercise. More people should try it- Devil's Advocate.
   

Dear Robert (BTW, nice to meet you again here), I also once played devil's advocate, in a college debate about whether it was justified to assassinate Tsar Alexander II. Simply because nobody else was volunteering for the side arguing that it was the right decision, I did so, as a purely intellectual argument, because in reality I thought the assassination of Alexander II was precisely what put Russia on the road to hell and damnation. I argued my case well ("the only good tyrant is a dead tyrant") but I didn't believe a word I was saying.

I do think that even with Hitler, as with Alexander II's assassins (the Narodnaia Volia, or People's Will), there were/are many arguments (although NOT a lot) to be made for their respective cases. Hitler, after all, was a teetotaler who was for animal rights and vegetarianism (although not for people's rights by any measure of the imagination). The People's Will basically argued "give me liberty, or give me death," which is a defensible position, intellectually speaking, although they got death only, as I believe Russia did, as a result of their actions, in the spadeful, or millions, or whatever way you want to count the number of unnecessary deaths they probably ultimately caused.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 06, 2010, 07:20:13 AM
Same here, Elisabeth. You have been away for a while?
  I forget the details of my defence of Hitler, but it was  political, as I recall and had nothing to do with his personal attributes as a vegetarian or animal rights advocate. At the time [1967 or so] there was not much positive available about the man, so I used his speeches.  Even then, they were tiring and almost undecipherable.  A few years later, I was given a similar task on Stalin! [why did I always  get the bad guys?] That is why I started visiting the Soviet Embassy in  Wash. D.C. Of course they were of not much help, as this was long after Stalin was gone and he was "out of favour" but still, I made some nice friends And this, whilst at Catholic University... That project was a paper, though, not a debate. I had good marks nonetheless.
 That chore over, I expected Genghis Khan next, but never happened.
 I imagine the challenge of defending the assassins of AII would be difficult as well.  As, they  did not really represent a communist or even Bolshevik party ideal.  Just part of the anarchist  movement of the era. Not really looked into it that much, but what a waste. On the doorstep of radical change, a huge step backwards into autocracy.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 07, 2010, 06:39:56 AM
One ofthe reasons why Communism failed is because the lifestyles of the leaders had little in common with the lifestyles of the subjected.  The link below is about one of the dachas that Stalin had and just one (he had many).

http://www.google.ca/imgres?imgurl=http://www.crimean-backpackers.org/crimea_tour/stalins_dacha.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.crimean-backpackers.org/crimea_tour/massandra.htm&h=260&w=400&sz=17&tbnid=T9PXD5yxYelkhM:&tbnh=81&tbnw=124&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dstalin%2Bdacha&hl=en&usg=__0ptBoRfZMREenHpyKTjbUTJZoN8=&sa=X&ei=G0VdTKH9Os-COIio2L0J&ved=0CBgQ9QEwAA
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 09:50:30 AM
Robert, my dear, I'm surprised you weren't assigned Genghis Khan or worse still, Heinrich Himmler. Now the latter would pose a real challenge for any defense attorney! Your account of your adventures at university is very interesting, I wish you would expand on it. Maybe here is not the place though, unless you start a new thread. Memoirs somewhere in the offing, perhaps? The sixties were an incredibly challenging and intriguing decade.

Constantinople, I believe Massandra, the palace you cite by link, originally belonged to one of the grand dukes, but I can't remember which one. These palaces are spread all over the Crimea and Black Sea region in general, some of them were built under the tsars, others of course under the new tsars of the communist era. I wish I had handy my copy of Simon Sebag Montefiore's "Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar." Unfortunately because of its incredible bulk and unwieldiness I left it behind when we returned to the States this summer. Have you read "The Court of the Red Tsar"? I found it illuminating, at least in terms of Stalin's psychology. He wrote endless love letters and notes to his wife Nadezhda, for example, as well as joking fatherly notes to his daughter Svetlana. This is why I find the whole label of "sociopath" unconvincing in Stalin's case, as in Hitler's. They were truly complicated individuals who transcend our pathetic so-called scientific categories.

Getting back OT, however, I agree that Massandra and what it represented in terms of party privilege (special rest homes, special stores, special trips abroad, special everything) is one of the reasons why communism fell in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The problem with communist-run societies has always been the tremendous gap between reality and ideology. The ideology says, we are successfully building socialism, a new heaven on earth. The reality says that, on the contrary, we are failing to build socialism, instead we are building a new hell on earth, complete with extreme social inequality, injustice, and (probably most important of all) a severe shortage of consumer goods, even of the most basic necessities - e.g., the poor miners under Gorbachev who went on strike because nothing, literally nothing, was available in their state-operated stores, not even soap to wash off the grime of the mines. We should remember those miners because, in retrospect, their strikes in the early years of Gorbachev's rule represented the death knell not only of communism in the Soviet Union, but also of the Soviet Union itself.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Silja on August 07, 2010, 12:42:20 PM
Quote
Stalin is another matter altogether. Not a few Russians [mainly older, from the WW2  generation]  see him as the saviour of Russia

Yeah, but this generation is dying off. 

And a new one is growing up! In fact Stalin is  being increasingly more respected again among young Russians as a "great man" who had to be cruel to defeat the nazis and to make Russia great. These attitudes owe a lot to the new Russian history books which have become very popular with some teachers. The historian responsible for the book said the aim of the textbook was to make pupils love their country. So a lot of Russian students will be internalising again that the end justifies the means.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2010, 01:30:51 PM
This is true, Silja. I have witnessed it myself and it is  scarey.   Intolerance is disturbing.  In ANY form.
  Elisabeth, thank you, but no  memoirs are in store, I think. Himmler would indeed have been a challenge. That man was downright nasty.
 BTW, I think Masandra  belonged to the Voronstovs, but am not positive.
 Yes, party privilege did have it's perks. All political leaders have them. The USSR was a huge country so there would be a dacha or palace in every state.
 However, from what I have been told, the "empty shelves" story is largely a product of Western propaganda.   By the same token,  I have seen empty shelves at Sainnbury's &  Safeway.
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 07, 2010, 03:16:02 PM
Quote
These attitudes owe a lot to the new Russian history books which have become very popular with some teachers. The historian responsible for the book said the aim of the textbook was to make pupils love their country

Yikes, make pupils love your country by glorifying one of the worst mass murderers to walk the Earth.  What's next, German historians making pupils love their country by glorifying Hitler?  Cambodian historians making pupils love their country by glorifying Pol Pot?

These so-called historians need a reality check.  Stalin was NOT a great man, he was NOT a hero.  He was a blood thirsty tyrant who was responsible for millions of deaths!  Anyone trying to glorify him are just as bad as neo-Nazis who glorify Hitler.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 07, 2010, 04:13:39 PM
Elizabeth
            It is difficult to get books here but the book sounds interesting.  As for communist leaders appropriating mansions for their personal use, theft and hypocrisy are highly detestable human failings, especially if you are implementing an ideology of equality and killing people who had more.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 07, 2010, 04:16:27 PM
Well Tim, a lot of Europeans consider what happened to native Americans and Canadians was a serious case of genocide, especially events like handing out smallpox infected blankets.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2010, 04:54:29 PM
As well as the appropriation of German, Italian and Japanese properties.
  Stalin wass no prize, but he was not nearly as bad as  his detractors claim. IMO.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 04:59:28 PM

 However, from what I have been told, the "empty shelves" story is largely a product of Western propaganda.   By the same token,  I have seen empty shelves at Sainnbury's &  Safeway.
 

Actually, Robert, I was in the Soviet Union - specifically Moscow and Leningrad, which were the show cities, and got more supplies than anywhere else under the old regime - for six weeks in 1991, when the Soviet Union and Gorbachev were still around, although there were rumors everywhere of an approaching coup by the military and right-wing hardliners (it came after I left, in August). Understand, this was the height of perestroika and glasnost and I can personally testify that 99 percent of the state stores I visited had literally empty shelves (save for a few jars of jam, and lots of flies). Even in Petersburg, the one store we went to that had actual meat for sale, the clerk got into a vicious argument with the poor woman trying to get her order - the rudeness was unbelievable, and the basic message was, you take what you're given, or else we give you nothing.

The only state stores that offered food in abundance were the bakeries. Here there were no lines and lots of bread, albeit of the simplest kind. The only places where you could get a real selection of food, for very inflated prices (cheap by Western standards, but too expensive for the vast majority of Russians) were the new farmers' markets, where fresh produce and other comestibles were sold. This is where my husband and I ended up shopping. But I honestly don't understand how ordinary Russians survived at all in these conditions. It's no wonder to me that communism collapsed that summer, I'm only amazed it didn't collapse sooner, but then the masses everywhere are always too patient in the face of total inequity and injustice.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 05:08:48 PM
Quote
Stalin is another matter altogether. Not a few Russians [mainly older, from the WW2  generation]  see him as the saviour of Russia

Yeah, but this generation is dying off. 

And a new one is growing up! In fact Stalin is  being increasingly more respected again among young Russians as a "great man" who had to be cruel to defeat the nazis and to make Russia great. These attitudes owe a lot to the new Russian history books which have become very popular with some teachers. The historian responsible for the book said the aim of the textbook was to make pupils love their country. So a lot of Russian students will be internalising again that the end justifies the means.

As a matter of fact Putin has recently initiated an anti-Stalin campaign. This is indicated by the new policy of the Russian government that excerpts from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago will now be mandatory reading for all high school students. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and "Matryona's Home" are also commonly taught in Russian secondary schools these days.

I sometimes wonder if Putin is not an incredibly canny politician, who realized very early on that an anti-Stalin program in Russia would be premature at the turn of the century, when he first came to power, given the Russian taste for nostalgia (not only for Stalin, by the way, but also for Alexander III and Nicholas I!). But such a program has certainly started now. And it's my impression that it's really only people over the age of fifty who hold Stalin in any high regard - i.e., a generation rapidly dying off, given Russians' short life expectancy.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 07, 2010, 05:41:16 PM
Hitler and Stalin were cut from the same mold.  When you strip away all the dogma, you got two evil men who had no qualms about slaughtering countless millions and anyone who got in their way.  The world is not a poorer place without men like this around.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2010, 05:45:45 PM
 I agree, Elisabeth, Putin is a very astute politician.
 And what I found interesting in St. P., was the "upper class" stores were indeed well stocked and costly. What was even more interesting was that they  stayed in business after the 1917 revolution.  All through the wars and  changes.  Someone was able to afford them ! [I think the butcher was offering less than prime meat at times, though] I was told the zoo was empty during the siege....but that happens everywhere.
 Stalin was no friend of St. P.  but was convinced to restore the palaces, as museums. His purges had nothing to do with Communism,  just his paranoia. [Nixon had  his "hiit list" as well.] His economic policies, were, for the most part, failures. Way too large scale for effect rather than usefulness. Expensive showplaces.
 Speaking of which, the Exposition Park in Moscow  was impressive, if verging on derelict  at the time of my visit. But it was a showplace of the USSR.  Now,  those SSRs are independent countries struggling with  their own petty dictators.  Those are the people who miss the stability and relative prosperity of the Soviet Union.
 And, TimM,  even I cannot defend Pol Pot. I would not even try.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 05:53:54 PM
Hitler and Stalin were cut from the same mold.  When you strip away all the dogma, you got two evil men who had no qualms about slaughtering countless millions and anyone who got in their way.  The world is not a poorer place without men like this around.



I must say I agree with you, Tim. I think some people simply choose to be evil, and actually enjoy being evil. Hitler and Stalin were both like that. They could have gone the opposite way, they were both extremely talented men and political geniuses, but they chose not to. There must have been something inherently appealing to them about taking the path to evil. Total power, perhaps? You think?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2010, 06:01:59 PM
I disagree, TimM, Hitler & Stalin were definitely not  "cut from the same  mold" Stalin was a committed revolutionary, Hitler an extreme reactionary.   Both were, however paranoid dictators. [and, to boot, hated each other] That is about all they had in common.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 06:07:25 PM
I agree, Elisabeth, Putin is a very astute politician.
 And what I found interesting in St. P., was the "upper class" stores were indeed well stocked and costly. What was even more interesting was that they  stayed in business after the 1917 revolution.  All through the wars and  changes.  Someone was able to afford them ! [I think the butcher was offering less than prime meat at times, though] I was told the zoo was empty during the siege....but that happens everywhere.
 Stalin was no friend of St. P.  but was convinced to restore the palaces, as museums. His purges had nothing to do with Communism,  just his paranoia. [Nixon had  his "hiit list" as well.] His economic policies, were, for the most part, failures. Way too large scale for effect rather than usefulness. Expensive showplaces.
 Speaking of which, the Exposition Park in Moscow  was impressive, if verging on derelict  at the time of my visit. But it was a showplace of the USSR.  Now,  those SSRs are independent countries struggling with  their own petty dictators.  Those are the people who miss the stability and relative prosperity of the Soviet Union.
 And, TimM,  even I cannot defend Pol Pot. I would not even try.

Robert, I'm glad we can agree on something! That's progress.

What's interesting about Sebag Montefiore's Stalin: Court of the Red Tsar is that initially at least the new Soviet rulers lived very simply by Western standards - albeit let's remember, in palaces in the Kremlin! - they were all on fixed allowances in the 1920s (this rapidly changed in the 1930s). Yet, already in the twenties they had been allotted very pricey Western automobiles for their use (with chauffeurs, naturally) as well as summer "dachas" (actually palaces like Massandra).

What also emerges from this book is how extremely "normal" their lives were. It's like watching The Sopranos. They're basically a bunch of gangsters, although with highfalutin ideology (I don't agree with you that ideology didn't play a role in Stalin's purges - Stalin was always a major ideologue, like Hitler in that respect).

I have some Russian friends who would be in complete accordance with your judgment that a lot of these former Soviet republics were better off under Soviet rule. However, I don't think this view, however justified it might appear in retrospect, pays any respect whatsoever to the natural right of minority peoples to self-determination and independence as nations. For the same reason I sympathize with the Kurds and the Chechens. I don't think these people would ever have resorted to terrorism if their dignity and need for autonomy hadn't been completely violated by ruling powers like Turkey and Russia.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2010, 06:15:14 PM
I disagree, TimM, Hitler & Stalin were definitely not  "cut from the same  mold" Stalin was a committed revolutionary, Hitler an extreme reactionary.   Both were, however paranoid dictators. [and, to boot, hated each other] That is about all they had in common.

Robert, Hitler and Stalin did not hate each other. Actually in the 1930s they formed a mutual admiration society. On some level they must have recognized that they were kindred spirits. At the very least they certainly respected each other. Hitler once said of his Soviet rival, "Stalin is a true revolutionary. He doesn't have the petit-bourgeois inhibitions that I do. He shot all his generals" etc., etc. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 was not formed from nothing.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2010, 06:50:40 PM
 Well, Elisabeth, , we disagree to a point. [actually, we agree on more than you may realise]. I have read Montefiorre's books.   So am familiar with with what you say.   But, in fact, Stalin was afraid of Hitler [Stalin not being ready for war] and Hitler detested Communism It was one his main targets to get into power.  They were just a much scapegoats as the Jews, Gypsies [Romanie] and everyone else  to him. The Reichstag's fire was blamed on them, as well as the murder of Horst Weasel.  All means to an end.
 Stalin, however, was more cautious,  ready to bargain and save time.  [did not work!]
 He was totally unprepared for the invasion.   And Ribbentrop- was he not hanged in Nuremburg?
Stalin did not follow such legalities. It is almost funny, when in Moscow, my Russian friend and I were on a search for Stalin's grave. This was 1 May, and Russian Orthodox Easter.  [pure coincidence, BTW] And, at Lenin's tomb, a small party of followers were assembled to honour the man. Not all of them were  "dieing off"  We never did find Stalin, BTW.
 There is, of course, much more to this discussion. i
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 07, 2010, 10:10:55 PM
I totally disagree about Stalin.  He was a committed criminal from his earliest days and chhose communism as a conduit for his crime.  Even from the beginning, he was more audacious in what he was prepared to do to achieve the goals of the Bolsheviks.  He had a keen sense of who was going to win and stuck with Lenin's side and knew how to curry favour.  There are a lot of simillarities between Hitler and Stalin and I would say that aside from anti semitism, they were both totalitarian psychopaths.  Stalin was so convinced of Hitler's support that he refused to believe his own general's reports when they informed him that they Nazis were invading Russia.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 07, 2010, 11:48:33 PM
Hitler and Stalin may not have trusted one another, but when it was convenient, they worked today.  They sure ganged up on Poland because both had a score to settle.  Hitler for getting lands back lost to the newly created Poland after WWI and Stalin for Poland beating back Russian troops in 1920, a mini-war in which Stalin took part.

Least we forget, it was Stalin, not Hitler, who was responsible for the Katyn Massecre in 1940 (in which Polish prisoners were shot and dumped into a mass grave in Katyn Forest).  The Soviets, after decades of denial, finally came cleaned and admitted they did it, in 1990.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 08, 2010, 05:52:14 AM
Well, Elisabeth, , we disagree to a point. [actually, we agree on more than you may realise]. I have read Montefiorre's books.   So am familiar with with what you say.   But, in fact, Stalin was afraid of Hitler [Stalin not being ready for war] and Hitler detested Communism It was one his main targets to get into power.  They were just a much scapegoats as the Jews, Gypsies [Romanie] and everyone else  to him. The Reichstag's fire was blamed on them, as well as the murder of Horst Weasel.  All means to an end.
 Stalin, however, was more cautious,  ready to bargain and save time.  [did not work!]
 He was totally unprepared for the invasion.   And Ribbentrop- was he not hanged in Nuremburg?
Stalin did not follow such legalities. It is almost funny, when in Moscow, my Russian friend and I were on a search for Stalin's grave. This was 1 May, and Russian Orthodox Easter.  [pure coincidence, BTW] And, at Lenin's tomb, a small party of followers were assembled to honour the man. Not all of them were  "dieing off"  We never did find Stalin, BTW.
 There is, of course, much more to this discussion. i

Hey, Robert, I'm sure we do in fact agree on a lot! Otherwise we probably wouldn't be having such a civilized discussion about politics (do you want to start on religion, too? all the banned topics for good dinner parties?).

I do think that Hitler and Stalin were both ideologues, and Constantinople might be right, they might also both have been "criminal psychopaths" (like Ted Bundy? like Gacy? somehow I can't quite believe this. Bundy and Gacy were petty serial killers, of the most pathetic kind, whereas Stalin and Hitler ruled entire empires of millions of people, slaughtering millions of people. It takes more than a "criminal psychopathic" mind to do this, as far as I'm concerned. There must be some level of "normalcy" for mass murder to be committed on such an incredible, unbelievable scale - otherwise, who the hell would go along with it?)

But my main point is simply that on some level it doesn't matter that Hitler hated Bolsheviks and Communism and Stalin hated capitalism and Nazis. By the mid 1930s the two leaders knew they were the biggest powerhouses in Europe. And they'd used much the same strategies to achieve this position - manipulation, lying, cheating, demagoguery, political violence, etc., etc. Of course they respected each other. Face it, they were like the rock stars of their particular era. They had achieved the highest level of power and they had only contempt for the masses beneath them. They both were founding cults of personality around themselves, they both were massacring all their major rivals for power (the Night of the Long Knives in Germany, the purges of the army in the Soviet Union). They had to have felt like a privileged class of two in Europe. We are the champions. Etc.

I do agree with Constantinople that Hitler and Stalin both had criminal mindsets. I just don't agree that they were legally insane or mentally impaired. If they were put on trial now, they could both claim "psychopathology" as their excuse for their crimes, but to my mind such an excuse simply doesn't wash. Both dictators were ideologues who nevertheless used their ideology as and when it suited their political purposes. More than anything else, above and beyond all, they were politicians, and as such, geniuses. Of the very worst sort.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 08, 2010, 06:04:27 AM
Psychopaths are clearly aware of their crimes but feel no remorse for them.  Psychopathic tendency is not a legal mitigation of the crime committed, as there is no shortage of pschopaths in prison.  Most of them are quite charismatic and that combined with a complete lack of conscience means that they have no retiscence or hesitation at the time they commit the crime.  And why does the fact that someone holds high office automatically preclude them from clinical psychopathy?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 08, 2010, 06:10:27 AM
Psychopaths are clearly aware of their crimes but feel no remorse for them.  Psychopathic tendency is not a legal mitigation of the crime committed, as there is no shortage of pschopaths in prison.  Most of them are quite charismatic and that combined with a complete lack of conscience means that they have no retiscence or hesitation at the time they commit the crime.  And why does the fact that someone holds high office automatically preclude them from clinical psychopathy?

Well, think of it this way - if they're actually suffering from a personality disorder or mental illness - then they're not accountable in a court of law. They're criminally insane. Seriously, do you truly believe that such highly functional adult beings as Stalin and Hitler were criminally insane?? Would you want to see them sent to a mental ward, as opposed to life imprisonment or immediate execution? But I'm being teleological. I honestly don't think either Stalin or Hitler were psychically or psychologically impaired, at least, not until their last years (when Stalin was clearly senile - early 1950s, and Hitler was clearly going gaga - after Stalingrad). But that doesn't excuse their acts as politicians and leaders of their countries in the preceding years. No, they knew precisely what they were doing and I will repeat, both of them were men of great talent who could have gone the opposite way. Instead they chose to be evil. Why? Because it was the road to ultimate, total power and because they enjoyed it.

Modified to add: what about men like Yagoda and Ezhov and Goebbels and Goering and Himmler? Do you seriously believe they were all psychopaths as well? Or perhaps merely opportunists and/or ideological fanatics? I would term people like Goebbels and Himmler ideological fanatics and someone like Goering an absolute opportunist, completely amoral. He would have done well in the Renaissance, as a condottiere.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 08, 2010, 06:22:23 AM
Well lots of people function with clinically diagnosed psychatric disorders so that doesnt impair them from doing a job, in some cases it helps their ascent.
I did some research and it turns out that Hitler was diagnosed as a psychopath in WW1.  The following is a list of traits that psychopaths display.
As for the other examples you cited, Ted Bundy was a successful law school student who was committing serial murders on the side and Charles Manson was actually successful enough as a musician and songwriter that the Beach Boys actually recorded one of his songs and were promoting his career.
the traits of psychopathology are:
Hitler exhibited most of the psychological traits that define the syndrom.

-glib
-charismatic
-lack of empathy
-manipulative, deceitful, cunning
-grandiose
- a genius at impressions management (through propaganda)
-inability to endorse responsability, always searching for scapegoats
-a puppetmaster
- superficial emotions (he would fly into rages for a whim, and then come back to 'normal', as if nothing happened. Or he would weep like a child to elicit pity).
-obviously, he had no regard for legality.

He didn't have real friends and if he felt that someone was not totally devoted to him, he would often simply have him murdered.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 08, 2010, 06:33:28 AM
Well lots of people function with clinically diagnosed psychatric disorders so that doesnt impair them from doing a job, in some cases it helps their ascent.
I did some research and it turns out that Hitler was diagnosed as a psychopath in WW1.  The following is a list of traits that psychopaths display.
As for the other examples you cited, Ted Bundy was a successful law school student who was committing serial murders on the side and Charles Manson was actually successful enough as a musician and songwriter that the Beach Boys actually recorded one of his songs and were promoting his career.


I beg to differ with you. Neither Bundy nor Manson were highly or even moderately functional adults. Bundy was a habitual shoplifter who was already flunking out of law school by the early 1970s, when he embarked on a real killing spree, and Manson was a failure by any definition, living by scrounging and stealing and pimping. Moreover, Manson could not get a recording contract with the Beach Boys -- Doris Day's son, Terry Melcher, the producer of the Beach Boys, decided that Manson was "too weird" and not talented enough. That was precisely why Manson sent his minions to 10050 Cielo Drive on August 8-9, 1969, because he believed Melcher was still living there, and he wanted not only Melcher but everyone around him to be killed. Instead Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered - they were in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 08, 2010, 06:43:00 AM
Just the fact that Bundy entered law school or post grad school of any type is a sign of advanced intellectual accomplishment.  You keep using the term criminally insane.  That implies capacity and would mean that they actually had been charged with a criminal charge.  As both Hitler and Stalin controlled the legal systems of their countries, that was not likely to happen.  With Hitler, it might have at the Nuremberg trials if he had been captured alive but he wasn't so the legal concept of mental capacity never became an issue although lack of mental capacity may have existed.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 08, 2010, 11:00:57 AM
In a way, Hitler and Stalin were like the two toughest bullies on the block.  Both had their own turfs and terrorized those within those turfs, but sooner or later, their gonna fight each other.  And they did.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 08, 2010, 11:21:04 AM
 I would agree, TimM.  But their methods were very different. Hitler was an ultimate user. He used people.  How he got away with this is part of his mystique.
 Stalin was a ruthless gangster, as Const.  has mentioned. Remember, Hitler never ordered a "Final Solution",  others did, taking his hint, so to speak. Whereas  Stalin  just outright  had his opponents shot [or sent to the gulag, as the case may have been].
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 08, 2010, 12:21:14 PM
Just the fact that Bundy enterred law school or post grad school of any type is a sign of advanced intellectual accomplishment.  You keep using the term criminally insane.  That implies capacity and woulod mean that they actually had been charged with a criminal charge.  As both Hitler and Stalin controlled the legal systems of their countries, that was not likely to happen.  With Hitler, it might have at the Nurrenburg trials if he had been captuired alive but he wasn't so the legal concept of mental capacity never became an issue although lack of mental capacity may have existed.

Constantinople, I agree that Bundy was of a higher intellectual calibre than most, but that's not saying much. There are plenty of people with very high IQs who, like Bundy, are certifiably insane or criminally insane. There are plenty of people with high IQs who are just horrible people, period, and have no underlying insanity to excuse their evil actions. I think, when we talk about Hitler and Stalin, we are talking about people with considerably higher IQs and abilities than Ted Bundy and Charles Manson! Whatever you say about Hitler and Stalin, they were both pure geniuses of evil.

Yeah, I do keep using that term, "criminally insane," because that is what you are basically implying every time you use the psychiatric term "psychopath" in relation to Hitler and Stain. Frankly, it doesn't matter much that neither Hitler nor Stalin were ever likely to be tried in national or international tribunals. The fact of the matter is, I can see a whole line of modern-day dictators pleading psychopathology or some other form of personality disorder to the International Court at the Hague and winning the jackpot, i.e., 30 years (tops) in a cushy cell with cable TV and round the clock visitors, including well-intentioned psychiatrists seeking to cure them of their "disease." Charles Taylor is on trial right now, do you think he's a psychopath, too? Or just another major criminal out to get everything he could from the system, such as he could use it? This is how I basically view Stalin and Hitler. Geniuses of crime. The ultimate gangsters.

Robert, Hitler and Stalin were both users, on a hitherto unprecedented scale. And I, not Constantinople, was the one to term them gangsters in this forum. Both Hitler and Stalin established masterful criminal regimes. And Stalin's was so masterful that the Soviet regime survived when all logic was against it surviving, and indeed, he survived to die a natural death (well, it's quite possible that his minions like Beria and Khrushchev left him to die after a stroke without proper medical care, or even had him poisoned and left him to die without proper medical care, because he was obviously planning another major political purge on the eve of his death in spring 1953. But by this time he was totally senile, so his political instincts had become atrophied).

I don't understand this (post-)modern need to explain every form of major evil by recourse to psychiatric terminology. It's quite possible that some people choose to be evil and enjoy the experience. As I believe the character of Myra Hindley said in the HBO series Longford (she was a serial killer convicted in England of murdering children after torture with her lover - they tape recorded these "sessions"), to the very innocent, Catholic, good Lord Longford, seeking to rehabilitate her, "You don't realize... sometimes evil can be a very spiritual experience."

Try to imagine that world. It does exist, it is alive and strong, I assure you.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 08, 2010, 12:59:02 PM
Elisabeth, we are close agreement once again.  However I was talking about methods, not reasons. I never got into the psychology of either of them.  Frankly, I did not care. My  assignment was to present an argument for defense. Hitler fancied himself a warlord,  sort of like Frederick the Great.  Stalin  manipulated his minions with  sheer fear.  Hitler had extreme loyalty. Devotion even.  He was never the gangster that Stalin was.  Personally, I do not think he had the mindset for that.  He thought of himself as an  artist, and fantasied retiring in his showplace in Linz.
 Whereas Stalin knew the street thoughts, since that was where he came from. Hitler catered to the  money that people had.  [aristos & industrialists, even Jews!]  Naturally, those sorts were long gone from Soviet Russia so Stalin  simply used terror & fear.
  I am not defending either one of them. They were both incredibly vengeful  for whatever their reasons were.
 Also, Stalin was adamant in maintaining the Soviet Union, whilst Hitler was  trying to expand the 3rd Reich.  Both did a  fairly fine job- while it lasted.
 Sorry, Elisabeth, if I mis-attributed the gangster bit.
 And, yes, TimM. I know about the Katyn  massacres.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Silja on August 08, 2010, 01:20:49 PM
Quote
Stalin is another matter altogether. Not a few Russians [mainly older, from the WW2  generation]  see him as the saviour of Russia

Yeah, but this generation is dying off. 

And a new one is growing up! In fact Stalin is  being increasingly more respected again among young Russians as a "great man" who had to be cruel to defeat the nazis and to make Russia great. These attitudes owe a lot to the new Russian history books which have become very popular with some teachers. The historian responsible for the book said the aim of the textbook was to make pupils love their country. So a lot of Russian students will be internalising again that the end justifies the means.

As a matter of fact Putin has recently initiated an anti-Stalin campaign. This is indicated by the new policy of the Russian government that excerpts from Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago will now be mandatory reading for all high school students. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and "Matryona's Home" are also commonly taught in Russian secondary schools these days.

I sometimes wonder if Putin is not an incredibly canny politician, who realized very early on that an anti-Stalin program in Russia would be premature at the turn of the century, when he first came to power, given the Russian taste for nostalgia (not only for Stalin, by the way, but also for Alexander III and Nicholas I!). But such a program has certainly started now. And it's my impression that it's really only people over the age of fifty who hold Stalin in any high regard - i.e., a generation rapidly dying off, given Russians' short life expectancy.

Putin and Medvedev even publicly declared Stalin to have been a criminal. Yet they deliberately helped issue these text books and they have no intention of withdrawing them again. They obviously want to have it both ways. And it is rather tactical. A Russian population which has learnt to appreciate or at least grudgingly accept any policy that will “make Russia great” will also continue to support the policies of the current administration even if these may not actually be very democratic.

No, indeed lots of young Russians have a rather positive opinion of Stalin again. At least this comes across from  various interviews and programmes on current Russia being shown on German TV.
 
 
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Silja on August 08, 2010, 01:46:24 PM
I disagree, TimM, Hitler & Stalin were definitely not  "cut from the same  mold" Stalin was a committed revolutionary, Hitler an extreme reactionary.  

Could you please define what you mean by "reactionary"  with regard to Hitler? I wouldn't necessarily call Hitler "reactionary". He at least would never have perceived himself as such, nor would his adherents. Nationalsocialism has actually always been a left wing movement and only our and the post war generation (and probably contemporary communists) created the right vs. left categories with regard to the NS and communist regimes. Hitler and the nazis actually hated and despised the presumably "reactionary" sections of society: the aristocracy, the respective parts of the upper middle classes, parts of the church and also the military (the latter of which he was nevertheless afraid in a way). They used them all of course and ingratiated themselves with them, but they never had much in common with them.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 08, 2010, 04:07:48 PM
Very valid points, Silja.
 Reactionary , as I use it, means extremely conservative and nationalistic. In Hitler's case.  it was his view on Germany's defeat and humiliation  from  WW1. He saw Communism as a threat and used them as a target. As we all know, he was  part of that revolutionary change. BTW, the term  goes back to the French Revolution  I think.
 Yes, he used any means he could to get to his ends.  Including National Socialism. He did not invent that party, he used it.
 Stalin, however,  was a  committed Communist and actually believed in his policies. Even though many of them were  failures [the communes, for example].
 I do not really understand the young [mostly men] who emulate these guys. They most likely have never read much about them. They follow images and listen to the prejudices oftheir parents, perhaps? But they are all over.  Not just Russia and Germany, but the US and the UK, Japan and  even is Israel!. That one really takes me aback- Jewish immigrants  being Nazi thugs and Stalin  worshipers. ???
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 08, 2010, 04:55:29 PM
 i am not implying psychopath = criminally insane.  A llot of psychopaths don't commit crimes.  When you get to shizophrenic patients then you have a much higher porpensity for lack of mental capacity where the shizophrenic person suffers from halucinations and kills someone because they hear voices.  Criminally insane comes into play where someone has committed a crime but they don't have the mental capacity to be charged with it.  In other words, they don't know what they are doing.   This is seldom the case with psychopaths who are lucid but lack a moral compass.  That is not the same as mental incapacity.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 09, 2010, 04:41:01 AM
I am listening to a very interesting radio documentary called The Useful Idiots about westerners who unwittingly became propagandists for Stalin's Russia.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 09, 2010, 10:50:52 AM
Elisabeth, we are close agreement once again.  However I was talking about methods, not reasons. I never got into the psychology of either of them.  Frankly, I did not care. My  assignment was to present an argument for defense. Hitler fancied himself a warlord,  sort of like Frederick the Great.  Stalin  manipulated his minions with  sheer fear.  Hitler had extreme loyalty. Devotion even.  He was never the gangster that Stalin was.  Personally, I do not think he had the mindset for that.  He thought of himself as an  artist, and fantasied retiring in his showplace in Linz.
 Whereas Stalin knew the street thoughts, since that was where he came from. Hitler catered to the  money that people had.  [aristos & industrialists, even Jews!]  Naturally, those sorts were long gone from Soviet Russia so Stalin  simply used terror & fear.
  I am not defending either one of them. They were both incredibly vengeful  for whatever their reasons were.
 Also, Stalin was adamant in maintaining the Soviet Union, whilst Hitler was  trying to expand the 3rd Reich.  Both did a  fairly fine job- while it lasted.
 Sorry, Elisabeth, if I mis-attributed the gangster bit.
 And, yes, TimM. I know about the Katyn  massacres.

Robert, I will persist in my belief that both Stalin and Hitler were gangsters. Hitler might have, in fact certainly did, fancy himself an artist (and who knows how many millions of lives might have been saved if he'd simply been given an art gallery in which to display his work), but I've just finished reading the first two volumes of Richard Evans's masterful trilogy on the Third Reich, The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power (the third volume will be The Third Reich at War). I can assure you that, based on these two volumes, but especially the second, the Third Reich was an utterly criminal regime from its very inception. Corruption, embezzlement, illegal confiscations, political violence, etc., etc., were all endemic from the beginning - and such criminal violations of the rule of law were not merely directed against minority populations like the Jews. Illegality quickly became ubiquitous in Germany after March 1933, with Hitler's appointment as chancellor.

Also, I disagree with you that Stalin was not worshipped. His charisma was not of the same type as Hitler's, not as overt or orgiastic, that's all. But it was still charisma, and he received not only the adulation of his fawning courtiers but also of millions of Soviet citizens, especially women, who wrote him the most embarrassing letters of praise you could possibly imagine. Not all of these letters or even most of them were necessarily prompted by the political necessity of survival. Most of Stalin's fellow Bolsheviks and their wives (especially their wives) remembered Stalin in the 1920s as extremely charming and affable - in fact, after Lenin's stroke and during his declining years, Stalin basically won the popularity contest against Trotsky, his only real rival for power, simply because he was perceived by his peers as genuine and down to earth, whereas Trotsky was seen as grandiose and insufferably arrogant.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 09, 2010, 11:00:33 AM
i am not implying psychopath = criminally insane.  A llot of psychopaths don't commit crimes.  When you get to shizophrenic patients then you have a much higher porpensity for lack of mental capacity where the shizophrenic person suffers from halucinations and kills someone because they hear voices.  Criminally insane comes into play where someone has committed a crime but they don't have the mental capacity to be charged with it.  In other words, they don't know what they are doing.   This is seldom the case with psychopaths who are lucid but lack a moral compass.  That is not the same as mental incapacity.

If I understand the term properly, however, psychopathology is viewed as a personality disorder, and it is believed to be caused by biological/genetic factors, that is, it is present at or even before birth. Once a psychopath, always a psychopath. This doesn't fit the profile of either Hitler or Stalin or for that matter, Ivan IV the Terrible. Furthermore, if the psychopath is suffering from a personality disorder caused by genetic factors, then it's not the psychopath's fault. If he's not criminally insane, at the very least he's not responsible for his actions. So kindly explain to me, what's the real difference in terms of legal prosecution? You can't hold somebody legally liable for a disease or genetic problem, at the very least you can say he was mentally/psychologically impaired. No, this whole category of "psychopath" opens up such a can of worms that it's not even worth contemplating!

Furthermore, Constantinople, you still haven't explained how it could be that Ivan IV, the Terrible, was a psychopath. Contrary to your definition of psychopaths as people who never experience remorse, Ivan is known to have gone through excruciating bouts of remorse when he prayed for his victims and had masses said for their souls. And yet, given a choice between Stalin and Hitler and Ivan IV, I would say that compared to the others Ivan was definitely as mad as a hatter and probably would fit most of the prerequisites for serial killers (sadism, compulsive obsessive behavior, etc). Yet not the one that says psychopaths don't experience remorse!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 09, 2010, 11:19:31 AM
Ivan the terrible could have been a psychopath  and maybe he wasn't and maybe he exhibited some of the symptons and not others.  The biggest problem with analysing Ivan the Terrible is that we don't have objective data or observations.  As for psychopathy being genetic, sometimes there is a genetic predispostion to it and sometimes it is inherited.  The legality lies in the fact whether the perpetrator understood what they did.  And Elizabeth, this is starting to sound like aggressive cross examination or hazing so this will be my last comment on this.  There ils lots of material on the internet and published on this.  Suffice it to say that the last documentary on Stalin I listened to on BBCV referred to him as a psychopath.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 09, 2010, 11:24:27 AM
and the action (the crime) and the mental capacity to understand it are two separate issues.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 09, 2010, 11:49:29 AM
Ivan the terrible could have been a psychopath  and maybe he wasn't and maybe he exhibited some of the symptons and not others.  The biggest problem with analysing Ivan the Terrible is that we don't have objective data or observations.  As for psychopathy being genetic, sometimes there is a genetic predispostion to it and sometimes it is inherited.  The legality lies in the fact whether the perpetrator understood what they did.  And Elizabeth, this is starting to sound like aggressive cross examination or hazing so this will be my last comment on this.  There ils lots of material on the internet and published on this.  Suffice it to say that the last documentary on Stalin I listened to on BBCV referred to him as a psychopath.

We don't have so-called objective data or observations on any of these creeps, Constantine. No observations by another human being are completely objective. But if you think my posts really do constitute "aggressive cross examination or hazing" then I apologize. I thought we were engaging in a legitimate  intellectual debate, not even a very heated debate, but I guess I was mistaken. Sorry I so misread the situation. What a pity, it was just getting interesting.

Seriously, though, whether there's a "genetic predisposition" or an "inherited" trait then either way there's diminished capacity. You simply can't get around this, and a good defense lawyer certainly would take advantage of the loophole you've provided him.

Oops, maybe now I'm being "aggressive" and "hazing." I guess I should excuse myself from the ballroom now. Wouldn't want to tread on any toes!!!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 09, 2010, 12:23:23 PM
We have lots of objective material on both Stalin and Hitler.  We have films and other material.  And genetic predispostion does not equal diminished mental capacity in a legal sense.  The criteria of mental capacity is did they understand what they were doing not did they potetntially lack the ability to understand what they did due to genetics.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 09, 2010, 12:30:05 PM
We have lots of objective material on both Stalin and Hitler.  We have films and other material.  And genetic predispostion does not equal diminished mental capacity in a legal sense.  The criteria of mental capacity is did they understand what they were doing not did they potetntially lack the ability to understand what they did due to genetics.

I could keep arguing here, Constantinople, because as usual I totally disagree with you, but I will cease and desist. Please check your mail here, okay?

I so wish you had been back here in the old days, when Tsarfan and RichC and Robert Hall and I and would go at it tooth and nail. The arguments often got extremely fierce. But it was a sight to see, and I think, highly entertaining for innocent bystanders. But those days are definitely gone in this forum.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Silja on August 09, 2010, 02:51:55 PM
Very valid points, Silja.
 Reactionary , as I use it, means extremely conservative and nationalistic. In Hitler's case.  it was his view on Germany's defeat and humiliation  from  WW1. He saw Communism as a threat and used them as a target. As we all know, he was  part of that revolutionary change. BTW, the term  goes back to the French Revolution  I think.
 Yes, he used any means he could to get to his ends.  Including National Socialism. He did not invent that party, he used it.

Hm, yes, that's the common definition, extremely conservative and nationalistic. But actually I wouldn't consider him as such. Definitely not conservative. The nationalsocialists saw themselves as a revolutionary movement, and their party programme would express this. The idea of the "national community" bears more resemblance to communism than to conservatism. And I think it is quite characteristic that Hitler regretted he wasn't quite the "revolutionary" Stalin was (see Elisabeth's earlier comment).

The nationalsocialists, or most of them, were certainly nationalistic, but in fact Hitler himself cared nothing for Germany. It's one of the great myths of history that he was a great nationalist, and he made the Germans, his enemies and even his own adherents and fellow party members believe he was.  Hitler believed in the master race embodied by the SS-type of man. But whether these SS "supermen" were Germans or other "arian" people he wouldn't have cared.  
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 09, 2010, 03:18:33 PM
Well, as far as I'm concerned, Stalin was a monster, a butcher that sent countless millions to their deaths.  Anyone, in Russia or elsewhere, who idolizes this man ought to have their heads examined.   In archives in Russia contain document after document that outline what he did.  If he could be put on trial for crimes against humanity, those documents alone would be enough to convict him.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 09, 2010, 03:38:20 PM
i listened to an interesting radio doc on BBc about Western apologists for Lenin and Stalin.  They included HG Wells, GB shaw and |Beatrice and Sydney Webb.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 09, 2010, 04:16:20 PM
H.G. Wells may have been a great writer (I love his books), but it seemed he had a poor judge of character.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 10, 2010, 02:42:07 AM
Sometimes.  he was a Fabian socialist who actually promoted a lot of social changes that subsequently were brought in (like pensions, the dole and national health).
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 10, 2010, 04:55:10 AM
I’ve just read an interesting review of Paul R. Gregory’s recent book, Terror by Quota: State Security from Lenin to Stalin (an Archival Study) (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009). I think it provides some insight into Stalin’s personality and furthermore, into the question of why communism ultimately failed in the Soviet Union.

This review appears in the scholarly journal Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Summer 2010, v. 11, no. 3, pp. 627-640.

As the reviewer Paul Hagenloh summarizes, "Gregory's model, put simply, is that of a power-maximizing dictator. The Soviet state, he proposes, was organized by Lenin and then Stalin to maximize their personal power within the constraints posed by state budgets, the repressive capacity of the state, additional but less important goals (the nation's economic growth, an acceptable level of luxury for Stalin and his ruling circle, etc.), and - especially - the 'loyalty' of the population, measured by the propensity of the Soviet people to attempt to overthrow the dictator if the other constraints, particularly repression, became too onerous. Gregory is concerned with whether Stalin's and Lenin's actions were 'rational' based on their goals - whether repression served to maximize the political power of the dictator via the most efficient combination of repression and loyalty-promoting actions available - and, likewise, whether the actions of state agents (party members and the security police) were rational, based on their own calculations of self-interest within the Soviet security system....

"Stalin's 'lust for power,' subject to the constraints of the model, produced rational choices that maximized that power; Gregory maintains that all ten 'stylized facts' can be explained, to an extent that is statistically significant, by his model. This conclusion alone is substantial, as it challenges decades of attempts to explain Stalin's behavior with reference to his supposed psychological defects - cruelty, paranoia, or, after the suicide of his wife, lack of any real relationships with other human beings. The truth, Gregory maintains, is more straightforward: given the nature of the Stalinist state, exceptionally high levels of repression were consistent with maximal loyalty of the population; and Stalin was utterly rational (again, defined in terms of political economy rather than morality) in pursuing those policies that maximized that loyalty, no matter what the human cost."

In other words, it is not "unscholarly" to view Stalin as a rational political player as opposed to a mere psychopath, whatever others here might say. It is merely one opinion among many, and I am certainly entitled to it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 10, 2010, 01:23:51 PM
Sometimes.  he was a Fabian socialist who actually promoted a lot of social changes that subsequently were brought in (like pensions, the dole and national health).

Do you think that Lenin and Stalin started out as socialist then moved into the terrorist mode which lead to communism?  Or,  do you think their overwhelming need of revenge had caused them  to use socialist until they could lead people into terrorism which would lead to the execution of Nicholas II or whomever was in power?  It appears to me, as they rose in power, they did everything to be able to lead people toward their goal.   They  killed  many who got in their way.  Once they reached that power of being an uncrown Czar,  and had it in their hands, and the Romanov's were toppled and many were executed, did the power go to their heads?  Lenin couldn't finish what was started,  but Stalin believed he could.   So what drove him into doing what he did?  Was it still revenge?  Could he be blamed for all the horrible things that occurred in the lower ranks ...?  Did he lose control of events and things just happened?  Russia was a huge place.  A lot was happening everywhere.  A lot had happen to Stalin in his personal life.  Don't forget Trotsky.  Don't forget WWI.  Once Stalin did gain control, I think  his anger adhis need of revenge never ceased to exist and continued to show in just about everything he did from 1918 to 1956?   .

I find Paul R. Gregory's words most interesting.   Stalin was indeed a "political player", however,  his reactions and his moves were due to the mental baggage he was carrying.   I think, a person shouldn't   separate the two,  but understand what caused Stalin to do what he did.

Since I'm not a professional in any field of mental illnesses,  I'll avoid the part of this discussion which gives a label on Stalin's mental state.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on August 10, 2010, 02:04:08 PM
I was talkiing about HG Wells being a Fabian socialist not Lenin or Stalin.  Lenin was already a committed comunist by the time Nicholas became Tsar
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 15, 2010, 09:43:01 AM
Sometimes.  he was a Fabian socialist who actually promoted a lot of social changes that subsequently were brought in (like pensions, the dole and national health).

Do you think that Lenin and Stalin started out as socialist then moved into the terrorist mode which lead to communism?  Or,  do you think their overwhelming need of revenge had caused them  to use socialist until they could lead people into terrorism which would lead to the execution of Nicholas II or whomever was in power?  It appears to me, as they rose in power, they did everything to be able to lead people toward their goal.   They  killed  many who got in their way.  Once they reached that power of being an uncrown Czar,  and had it in their hands, and the Romanov's were toppled and many were executed, did the power go to their heads?  Lenin couldn't finish what was started,  but Stalin believed he could.   So what drove him into doing what he did?  Was it still revenge?  Could he be blamed for all the horrible things that occurred in the lower ranks ...?  Did he lose control of events and things just happened?  Russia was a huge place.  A lot was happening everywhere.  A lot had happen to Stalin in his personal life.  Don't forget Trotsky.  Don't forget WWI.  Once Stalin did gain control, I think  his anger adhis need of revenge never ceased to exist and continued to show in just about everything he did from 1918 to 1956?   .

I find Paul R. Gregory's words most interesting.   Stalin was indeed a "political player", however,  his reactions and his moves were due to the mental baggage he was carrying.   I think, a person shouldn't   separate the two,  but understand what caused Stalin to do what he did.

Since I'm not a professional in any field of mental illnesses,  I'll avoid the part of this discussion which gives a label on Stalin's mental state.

AGRBear

Bear, you don't have to be "a professional in any field of mental illness," since none of us here are psychiatrists, as far as I can make out.

As you can see, I don't believe that either Lenin or Stalin suffered from any serious form of mental illness. They might have had a screw or two loose, but as a matter of fact, who doesn't? I am very suspicious of professional psychiatry and most of its ever-changing definitions of mental illness, as (continually re)defined in the handbook, the (in)famous Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) . As late as the early 1970s, this professional guide to psychiatry listed homosexuality as a mental illness. There are other, still-existing and almost equally controversial "diagnoses" in the current DSM, which, shall we just say, generally seems to favor the male sex over the female one in terms of determining overall mental health.

I don't think that anyone who has read Lenin's directives to his Cheka and Red Army foot soldiers during the Civil War (labeling his "class enemies" - everyone from political opponents to nobles to peasants and merchants - "insects," "lice," etc., worthy only of immediate extermination) can regard Stalin as anything but a further development on the same theme of generalized terror directed against the civilian population in the interest of achieving specific ideological, political, and yes, personal goals. Although in my view not revenge, but the acquisition and maintenance of total power, was the personal/political goal that both the mature Lenin and Stalin shared.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 15, 2010, 04:00:03 PM
...[in part]....


I don't think that anyone who has read Lenin's directives to his Cheka and Red Army foot soldiers during the Civil War (labeling his "class enemies" - everyone from political opponents to nobles to peasants and merchants - "insects," "lice," etc., worthy only of immediate extermination) can regard Stalin as anything but a further development on the same theme of generalized terror directed against the civilian population in the interest of achieving specific ideological, political, and yes, personal goals. Although in my view not revenge, but the acquisition and maintenance of total power, was the personal/political goal that both the mature Lenin and Stalin shared.



Men like these lead the terrorist who later called themselves communists.

Communists continue to look at these men as heros.

As far as I'm concern,  these two men's  beliefs and actions are excellent  examples of why communism should fail.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 17, 2010, 07:14:20 PM
More information about the communist and their actions which caused so many Polish families to vanish:

Here is a link, which I just stumbled upon  [I don't know the webmaster or anything else about him accept what is shown on the site].   The site appears to be the story of his family, Rymaszeuski, a Polish family,  who were deported to Siberia.

http://www.rymaszewski.iinet.net.au/5soviets.html

AGRBear

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 30, 2010, 11:44:45 AM
Just read an interesting review of a recent movie, which recalls to mind many of the good things about capitalism, as well as the bad. Reminds me of why so many former Soviet citizens, as I'm told, when they emigrated to the West in the early 1970s had nervous breakdowns in American supermarkets.

Review of the film A Single Man (2009). It is based on

"Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novella A Single Man (Vintage Classics) [which] is about the last day in the life of George, a literature professor at a small Californian university. He is  bereaved after the death of his partner, Jim, some months before. At lunch George surprises himself by responding to an acquaintance’s criticism of the banal uniformity of American motel rooms with an extended defence of utilitarianism. 'Until the material plane has been defined and regulated to its proper place, the mind can’t ever be truly free,' he asserts, railing against the European 'world of individual differences, romantic inefficiency, and objects-for-the-sake-of-objects. All that dead old cult of cathedrals and first editions and Paris models and vintage wines . . . The Europeans hate us because we’ve retired to live inside our advertisements.' George runs out of steam shortly afterward, excuses himself, and heads to the parking lot" (Ben Walters, "The Trouble with Perfume," Film Quarterly, Summer 2010, p. 14).


Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 01, 2010, 07:51:16 PM
Interesting thoughts.  But living inside our advertisements is what is driving this country and its citizens to hate themselves.  There is no where on Earth or in the US that is as inviting or as perfect as the inside of an advertisement either print or video.

The mental and physical pain caused by all of those perfect people living their perfect lives only makes the rest of us doubt our own lives and our purpose for living.

Nothing we can ever do will make us as beautiful and give us 20/20 vision (I know that actors wear contacts) or give us perfect bodies or perfect cholesterol numbers or smooth shiny hair and faces with no cosmetic imperfections.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 06:30:27 AM
Alix don't  you normally chide people for going off topic?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 02, 2010, 10:07:53 AM
How are we off topic? One of the obvious reasons communism failed in the Soviet Union was an almost complete lack of consumer goods despite overwhelming demand. This is where the communist leaders of China have been very, very clever, in promoting economic reform so strongly, and leaving political reform for the distant future, if ever. Gorbachev probably got things backwards with perestroika and glasnost', much as it pains me to say so.

I also think Alix raises a valid point. After all, one of the chief criticisms leveled against the United States, by communists and anti-communists alike (e.g., Solzhenitsyn in his famous Harvard speech), is that American culture is over-materialistic. We consume and consume and consume, and we've taught the rest of the planet to do the same, meanwhile higher values and principles and aspirations die, and we've all become prisoners of our own modern material culture.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 01:14:24 PM
Well a discussion of the meaningless of life in the US is only marginally related to why communism failed.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on September 02, 2010, 01:16:40 PM
How are we off topic? One of the obvious reasons communism failed in the Soviet Union was an almost complete lack of consumer goods despite overwhelming demand. This is where the communist leaders of China have been very, very clever, in promoting economic reform so strongly, and leaving political reform for the distant future, if ever. Gorbachev probably got things backwards with perestroika and glasnost', much as it pains me to say so.

I also think Alix raises a valid point. After all, one of the chief criticisms leveled against the United States, by communists and anti-communists alike (e.g., Solzhenitsyn in his famous Harvard speech), is that American culture is over-materialistic. We consume and consume and consume, and we've taught the rest of the planet to do the same, meanwhile higher values and principles and aspirations die, and we've all become prisoners of our own modern material culture.

We in the US  are not prisoners of anything materialist if you don't want to be.  You can sell everything and find or buy some cabin in some forest and live off the land and make contact with the outside world if or when you want.   OR,  if you want a million dollar house,  an expensive car,  marriage,  children, a dog and a cat, you can get that, too, if you go to school,  work hard and make your own good luck.... Guess what else.   Rich people are learning or already know how to live GREEN....   So,  don't believe all this new kind of propaganda seen in communist countries, like China,  that talks about being collectively happy under the watchful eye of a few who have absolute power....
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 01:36:49 PM
Well China is not a model of happiness to too many people.  It is quite dysfunctiional but things are improving for some urban Chinese.
I have a few mega wealthy friends who are either vegetarian or vegan.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 02, 2010, 05:54:21 PM
We in the US  are not prisoners of anything materialist if you don't want to be.  You can sell everything and find or buy some cabin in some forest and live off the land and make contact with the outside world if or when you want.   OR,  if you want a million dollar house,  an expensive car,  marriage,  children, a dog and a cat, you can get that, too, if you go to school,  work hard and make your own good luck.... Guess what else.   Rich people are learning or already know how to live GREEN....   So,  don't believe all this new kind of propaganda seen in communist countries, like China,  that talks about being collectively happy under the watchful eye of a few who have absolute power....

China actually has the world's largest growing middle class, outside of India, and has a very healthy, hearty consumer culture to boot, thank you very much. All of which goes to show that communism by any other name is not exactly communism, if you catch my drift. In the interest of being a superpower the authorities in China, communist to a man, have decided to chuck out communism as an economic strategy and to instead pursue capitalism with a vengeance. The only thing they're retaining is their authoritarian government and the appearance (mask, beard, what have you) of Communist ideology.

And that seems to be fine with most of the Chinese people, at least for the moment, although not perhaps in the future, since apparently increasing labor unrest is causing some concern for all those poor multinational corporations out there who moved their factories to China in the hope of making a real killing on cheap labor costs.... It would seem that the world is gradually becoming unionized. Hurrah!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 02, 2010, 10:00:45 PM
Well it is a question of how long they can keep that up.  So far they have fuelled their economic miracle on a combination of slave level paid labour, tax free incentives and pirated intellectual property and an economic incursion into Africa.  As for their middle class, financially it is defined by owning an apartment and a car (equal to about $600 a month in pay).  It wil be interesting to see if Chhina can make the adjustment into a developed economy.  In terms of economies they are now rated second higherst on gross GDP but if that is analysed on a per capita GDP basis, China is 102nd with $6,600 per capita, ranking behind countries like Tunisia, Belize and Kazakhstan.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 03, 2010, 02:42:59 AM
C is right - I was sermonizing.  Sometimes it is hard not to.

I have come to a point in my life where I have no faith in our "green promoters" especially Al Gore.  It has very little to do with his recent marriage split with the mandatory "a little sumpin' sumpin' on the side" but with the idea that anyone could win a Nobel Prize for a film that promotes "going green" and yet (at the time and maybe still now) lives in a house the size of a small town and jets around the world in a private carbon foot print that only the rich and obnoxious can have and still claim to disparage in others.

But that truly does not have anything to do with why communism doesn't work, unless it shows that only in a capitalist country could someone like Gore do all of this and get away with it.  Under the collectivization of wealth, he would be out hoeing peas and not just out ho**g. (in the current vernacular)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 02:52:40 PM
C is right - I was sermonizing.  Sometimes it is hard not to.

I have come to a point in my life where I have no faith in our "green promoters" especially Al Gore.  It has very little to do with his recent marriage split with the mandatory "a little sumpin' sumpin' on the side" but with the idea that anyone could win a Nobel Prize for a film that promotes "going green" and yet (at the time and maybe still now) lives in a house the size of a small town and jets around the world in a private carbon foot print that only the rich and obnoxious can have and still claim to disparage in others.

But that truly does not have anything to do with why communism doesn't work, unless it shows that only in a capitalist country could someone like Gore do all of this and get away with it.  Under the collectivization of wealth, he would be out hoeing peas and not just out ho**g. (in the current vernacular)

Well, I have to disagree with you here. Soviet party functionaries and other high and mid-ranking officials  - the nomenklatura - were unbelievably corrupt, and everybody in the Soviet Union knew it very early on, by the postwar period at the very latest. The nomenklatura had their own special stores, which ordinary Russians were barred from entering, they got special housing in a country where any kind of housing after WWII was in short supply, they were allowed (sometimes) to travel abroad and bring back highly valued consumer goods, which they could then barter or sell on the black market (and everybody knew they did it and everybody in power looked the other way, because almost all of them did it).

If you think someone like Al Gore is corrupt (I am the first to say there's a high degree of hypocrisy in his endless gallivantings about the globe, leaving the carbon footprint, as you say, but I'm not sure that amounts to corruption), then I don't how you'd deal with the last decades of the Soviet government. You know that after the sudden collapse of communism in the Soviet Union in the late summer of 1991, tens of millions of dollars suddenly disappeared from the Communist Party coffers. Where did all this money go? Probably into a lot of private Swiss bank accounts....  It has yet to be recovered.

Not surprisingly, plenty of former high-ranking officials in the Soviet Union are still living high on the hog in the Russian Federation (or in tax exile in Western Europe). It's disgusting, but what can really be done?

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on September 07, 2010, 03:39:39 PM
Well, I have to disagree with you here. Soviet party functionaries and other high and mid-ranking officials  - the nomenklatura - were unbelievably corrupt, and everybody in the Soviet Union knew it very early on, by the postwar period at the very latest. The nomenklatura had their own special stores, which ordinary Russians were barred from entering, they got special housing in a country where any kind of housing after WWII was in short supply, they were allowed (sometimes) to travel abroad and bring back highly valued consumer goods, which they could then barter or sell on the black market (and everybody knew they did it and everybody in power looked the other way, because almost all of them did it).

Did this corruption involve bribes? If so, how could private Soviet citizens bribe the nomenklatura if most of the stuff ordinary people had was of little interest to the nomenklatura. Did private Soviet citizens have bank accounts with money that could be used for bribes? Or was it in the form of gifts of fine homegrown produce from babushka's garden? Or expensive Western stuff from the black market (which ironically was supplied and controlled by the nomenklatura, as you point out.)

Or - what can people sell when they have no stuff to offer? Themselves!? Did desperate women bribe the male members of the nomenklatura with sex? (Elisabeth, perhaps you remember from "The Russian Soul" thread why the very word "nomenklatura" makes me nauseous in a S/M kind of way..... Blame it on the excellent German movie Das Leben der Anderen, where a young actress bribes a fat old member of the East German nomenklatura with sex.)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 07, 2010, 03:45:48 PM
People kept treasures that their families had from before the Revolution, some people stole, some people were good manipulators who organized thefts from factories and some women offered sex.  If you were an international musician, you could bring back western things like chewing gum or Beatles records that could be sold for cash. Some people worked in GUM and other stores for the elite and managed to pocket things from work.  there was a saying in Russia "The person who doesnt steal from the state steals from their family."
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 04:25:20 PM
Did this corruption involve bribes? If so, how could private Soviet citizens bribe the nomenklatura if most of the stuff ordinary people had was of little interest to the nomenklatura. Did private Soviet citizens have bank accounts with money that could be used for bribes? Or was it in the form of gifts of fine homegrown produce from babushka's garden? Or expensive Western stuff from the black market (which ironically was supplied and controlled by the nomenklatura, as you point out.)

Or - what can people sell when they have no stuff to offer? Themselves!? Did desperate women bribe the male members of the nomenklatura with sex? (Elisabeth, perhaps you remember from "The Russian Soul" thread why the very word "nomenklatura" makes me nauseous in a S/M kind of way..... Blame it on the excellent German movie Das Leben der Anderen, where a young actress bribes a fat old member of the East German nomenklatura with sex.)

A meeting of two minds, Fyodor Petrovich, the minute you raised the issue of "desperate women" bribing "male members of the nomenklatura with sex" - that's exactly what came to mind, Donnersmarck's film (in English) The Lives of Others. The same actress who plays Meinhof in the film The Baader-Meinhof Complex stars in this role, she's completely different from one role to the next, sorry I can't remember her name but you probably can... Okay, just looked it up, it's Martina Gedeck. Brilliant actress.

But getting back to sexual favors under communism, I think this was actually pretty common, and it is nausea-making (as opposed to merely nauseating). Because there was of course no recourse. Even today, in most capitalist societies (well, especially places like Russia) there's very little recourse, because one is usually a lowly peon accusing a high-ranking official of misusing his power. (The definition of sexual harassment includes the total power imbalance usually existing between the two parties.) We all know how most whistle-blowers end. Usually in the dustbin of (corporate) history. But yes, I think it might have even been worse under communism, at least as it's shown in The Lives of Others because here the victim can't even complain to anybody, not her dearest friend, not her lover, she has to give in. And the silence and shame surrounding it eventually, as you know, lead to her interrogation by the secret police and her suicide.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Constantinople on September 07, 2010, 05:23:34 PM
I think the term is nausea inducing.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 07, 2010, 07:28:16 PM
With a hyphen, "nausea-inducing" is acceptable in English. But so is "nausea-making," it's just far more playful and less ponderous by comparison. But often this kind of wordplay (which is ubiquitous in English as it is in every language) escapes a non-native speaker.

Frankly I would like to get back to F.P. and his interesting observations.

P.S. My British husband says I could just have easily have said "sick-making," which is a much-used term in England. I told him, "You know, you've utterly confused me all the time we've been together, now I speak half in American and half in British English." Sick-making, nausea-making, what's the bloody difference? Next I'll be speaking like Julia Child.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on September 08, 2010, 03:34:13 AM
'Sick-making' is usual in English English. As in 'All the fuss about David Cameron's bay daughter is utterly sick-making.'

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on November 08, 2010, 01:43:11 AM
A century and a half ago, Karl Marx gave birth to a monster.  This monster rampaged through the 20th Century.  Wherever the monster went, death and misery followed in its wake. Millions of people, centuries old traditions, the monster consumed them all.   The monster had one ruling dictum:  Everyone and everything must be the same.  To be different was a threat, and the monster would tolerate no threats.  When the monster was finally slain in the twilight years of the 20th Century, the horrors it had inflicted were there for all to see.  The monster is gone, the monster is dead, may we never see its like again.
Title: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....
Post by: Naslednik Norvezhskiy on November 08, 2010, 03:05:24 AM
The monster is gone, the monster is dead, may we never see its like again.

You sound like Robespierre denouncing the "superstition called Christianity" and its deeds: Crusades, the Inquisition, brainwashing, supression, opression etc.! :-)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TsarAlexeiII on July 26, 2011, 04:24:00 PM
Briefly, communism does work; Communism doesn't. Communism is the ideology of the Soviet, Chinese, and Cuban Communist Parties, which could more accurately be called state capitalism; communism is the decentralized, democratic, worker-controlled political and economic system popularized by Karl Marx in his 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto.

I have been a communist for years (still am), and was a Leninist until recently. I never exactly supported Lenin's regime, but I viewed him as a leader who sincerely pushed for the realization of Marx's ideals. I have since realize that Lenin was a powermonger, and betrayed Marx's ideas right after coming to power.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on July 26, 2011, 08:20:54 PM
Quote
communism is the decentralized, democratic, worker-controlled political and economic system popularized by Karl Marx in his 1848 pamphlet, The Communist Manifesto.

Yes, it may have looked good written down, like Marx did, but we all saw what happened when it was tried.  It allowed evil men like Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ceaucescu, Pol Pot, etc., to take power and slaughter millions.  Communism is a discredited idea, it belongs on the trash heap of history, along with Fascism.  

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on July 26, 2011, 08:58:50 PM
Communism is/was an ideal  or goal that was never achieved on a  large scale.  Due mainly, IMO to the  ruthless rulers and  extremely bad planning.
  No  communist country, even today, has achieved that goal. And, they admit it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on July 27, 2011, 11:04:29 AM
Communism is/was an ideal  or goal that was never achieved on a  large scale.  Due mainly, IMO to the  ruthless rulers and  extremely bad planning.
  No  communist country, even today, has achieved that goal. And, they admit it.

I believe there are more fundamental reasons why communism or any other centralized political/economic system is bound to fail eventually (such system's life span is usually based upon the degree to which the state can forceably control the populace).  The problem is that such systems are based on ideologies which purport to explain and regulate/channel  human behaviour.  Unfortunately, human behavior is much more unpredictable and it's very difficult for bureaucratic central planning to forsee and accommodate change. Any system that cannot adapt to changing circumstances (typically because it is limited by the ideology on which the system is based) is bound to fail over time. Those dictatorial states which are not motivated by an overarching ideology usually have an even shorter life span. When an ideologically motivated state starts the process of trying to adapt to changing circumstances it soon loses its raison d'etre and then merely becomes an oppressive government which pays lip service to its founding principles. One needs only to look at the Brezhnev era to see the seeds of the fall of the Soviet Union. I look forward to the same fate befalling Iran. Unfortunately, during this period such states can cause great mischief to the world around them as well as their own people.

Petr     
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on July 27, 2011, 06:59:12 PM
Communism is/was an ideal  or goal that was never achieved on a  large scale.  Due mainly, IMO to the  ruthless rulers and  extremely bad planning.
  No  communist country, even today, has achieved that goal. And, they admit it.

 When an ideologically motivated state starts the process of trying to adapt to changing circumstances it soon loses its raison d'etre and then merely becomes an oppressive government which pays lip service to its founding principles.

Petr     

Sort of like the current situation in the USA?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 04, 2011, 09:03:15 AM
After Nikita Khrushchev returned to the Soviet Union from his visit to the United States in 1959, he announced to his inner circle of communist comrades, "I've seen Communism -- they've built it in the USA."

This was when the rot really set in. When the Soviet leaders themselves started to perceive that their country was losing not the space race but much more importantly, the economics and, shall we say, social conditions race with the United States and the rest of the West. Example: when Nikita was jetting all over America he was very curious about these huge stadiums he could see from on high in his Soviet plane... but he wondered what all these lines were that extended out from the stadiums, what were they for? His American minders explained that they were parking lots for the spectators' cars. Khrushchev exploded in anger. "What, do you think I'm an idiot, a country bumpkin, that I would believe such a thing? So many Americans have their own cars? Impossible!" But after weeks of traveling around the United States, he gradually came to realize that this was true.

Apparently he even lost control of his emotions to such an extent that he addressed a meeting of Komsomol youth in Moscow by telling them, "You think you've seen everything by seeing Moscow? You've seen nothing. Go to New York. Everybody looks happy, everybody's well-dressed, they all drive cars, there are skyscrapers, they light them up at night. By comparison Moscow is nothing." Meanwhile all his colleagues in the Politburo were casting dagger eyes at him. Khrushchev's days were definitely numbered.

One of the more touching things about Khrushchev's visit to the United States, to my mind, is that he really wanted to visit Disneyland. And the minders -- both American and Soviet as far as I recollect -- wouldn't let him because it was too much of a security risk, they were afraid he'd be assassinated. Khrushchev was mightily disappointed.

[N.B. I don't have my books on hand so I am paraphrasing Khrushchev's remarks about the United States; please don't cite them as word for word quotes!]
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 04, 2011, 09:12:15 AM
Communism is/was an ideal  or goal that was never achieved on a  large scale.  Due mainly, IMO to the  ruthless rulers and  extremely bad planning.
  No  communist country, even today, has achieved that goal. And, they admit it.

 When an ideologically motivated state starts the process of trying to adapt to changing circumstances it soon loses its raison d'etre and then merely becomes an oppressive government which pays lip service to its founding principles.

Petr      

Sort of like the current situation in the USA?

How exactly is this like the "current situation in the USA"? The current situation in the USA is nothing like the Soviet Union or any other collapsing communist state in history. The current situation in the USA is its very own situation, a new situation in which a country begins tearing itself apart because of a small group of ideological fanatics who are bent on destroying government at any cost to the nation at large. Their ideology being, government is evil and a bane to its people... so fine, destroy the government and destroy our nation too, in the process. The Tea Party likes to say that this nation is not its government BUT IN FACT IT IS. THE UNITED STATES IS ITS GOVERNMENT. FOR THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE. If it were not for the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, if it were not for presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, we would not be a nation at all. No, by this point in time no doubt we would be a bunch of impoverished "independent" states ruled by military juntas. Like most of South America throughout most of its modern history.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 04, 2011, 09:54:13 AM
I must say I'm not as alarmed by the tea party movement as some of my friends and some of the posters seem to be because throughout American history there have been several moments in which so-called "popular movements" seemed to threaten what was perceived at the time to be the fabric of society. In each case, the country got over it (sometimes, unfortunately, at great cost) and, on balance, moved on in new and often better directions. If there is one hard and cold fact that the tea party (and I believe the bulk of the American people) have recognized is that this country has been living beyond its means for a long time through many administrations  of both parties. Where I may part company with tea party (and possibly many conservative Republicans) is that it is illogical to assume that we can attack the national debt without addressing the issue of increasing revenues. I believe that this resistance to new taxes is motivated not so much by class conflict but because of a basic distrust of the government and its dismal record in administering tax revenues. This basic distrust in the government is a fundamental theme in American history and not necessarily a bad one (witness the debate over the electronic invasion of privacy).  However, that said, I believe increasing revenues can be achieved without necessarily raising personal income tax rates by simplifying the tax code and eliminating built in loopholes and special subsidies (you are seeing this play out in the current battle over the FAA where the battle over subsidies over rural air service (at a cost of $3000 a ticket) is pitted against a budget freeze). There seems to be a general concensus that the ethanol subsidy should go as well and these are a fraction of the various distortions that have been built into the code over a long period of time. The problem is that the tax code has been used to favor special interests and to engage in social engineering (e.g., redistributing wealth) rather than as a revenue raising tool. One possible suggestion to address this , among many, is the flat tax.

All the recent sturm und drang has focused attention on these interconnected issues and have made them a central issue in a national debate. This is very healthy and, in fact (to return to the thread), marks the principal difference between our system of government and communist or other dirigiste socio/political/economic systems. The people will really have an opportunity to speak on this issue and that cannot be anything but healthy.

Petr                 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 04, 2011, 09:58:35 AM
Elizabeth-- Glad to have you back. missed you.

Petr
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 04, 2011, 09:59:52 AM
I simply meant that the US was a ideologically motivated state (the ideals of no taxation without representation and the ability of the government to govern itself without the help of a monarch) that has now lost is raison d'etre and has become an oppressive government which is now paying lip service to its founding principles.

We constantly quote (pay lip service) to the ideals of the founders and yet continue on oppressing our own people with laws of doubtful constitutionality and over whelming taxation at all levels of government.  Our leaders sidestep the Constitution all the while paying homage to Washington (who was the original patriot) and Lincoln (who rolled with the times) and forget Jefferson and Monroe.

The US is crumbling while or Senators and Congressmen play games of Brinkmanship and One Upmanship all the while paying no attention to the actual needs of the people who elected them.

Do they think we truly bought their threat to let the Government default?  Please!  They pushed it to the last minute to grab every sound bite and 15 seconds of fame they could get when all the while they knew and we knew (at least I hope everyone knew) that there was no way they would allow us to default on our debts. There is no way this Congress or any other would want to go down in history as the Congress that allowed the US to default.  Pleeze! 

And why, I ask, do we even have debts to other countries when we collect so much in taxes from our citizens?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 04, 2011, 10:17:11 AM
I simply meant that the US was a ideologically motivated state (the ideals of no taxation without representation and the ability of the government to govern itself without the help of a monarch) that has now lost is raison d'etre and has become an oppressive government which is now paying lip service to its founding principles.

We constantly quote (pay lip service) to the ideals of the founders and yet continue on oppressing our own people with laws of doubtful constitutionality and over whelming taxation at all levels of government.  Our leaders sidestep the Constitution all the while paying homage to Washington (who was the original patriot) and Lincoln (who rolled with the times) and forget Jefferson and Monroe.

The US is crumbling while or Senators and Congressmen play games of Brinkmanship and One Upmanship all the while paying no attention to the actual needs of the people who elected them.

Do they think we truly bought their threat to let the Government default?  Please!  They pushed it to the last minute to grab every sound bite and 15 seconds of fame they could get when all the while they knew and we knew (at least I hope everyone knew) that there was no way they would allow us to default on our debts. There is no way this Congress or any other would want to go down in history as the Congress that allowed the US to default.  Pleeze!  

And why, I ask, do we even have debts to other countries when we collect so much in taxes from our citizens?

I have to admit you've completely lost me, Alixz. The fact of the matter is that even die-hard conservative Western Europeans (including some of my British relatives) do not understand how Americans can continue to pay such incredibly LOW taxes when we have such an incredibly OUT OF CONTROL debt. The only solution to such a situation is to raise taxes. Period. Sorry, but the rest of the civilized world, which understands the necessity of raising taxes in order to raise revenue in order to pay off debt, cannot comprehend what the American "Tea Party" is up to, except to throw the entire international economic order out of kilter, at a time when it's already hovering on the brink of disaster.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 04, 2011, 10:27:43 AM
I must say I'm not as alarmed by the tea party movement as some of my friends and some of the posters seem to be because throughout American history there have been several moments in which so-called "popular movements" seemed to threaten what was perceived at the time to be the fabric of society. In each case, the country got over it (sometimes, unfortunately, at great cost) and, on balance, moved on in new and often better directions. If there is one hard and cold fact that the tea party (and I believe the bulk of the American people) have recognized is that this country has been living beyond its means for a long time through many administrations  of both parties. Where I may part company with tea party (and possibly many conservative Republicans) is that it is illogical to assume that we can attack the national debt without addressing the issue of increasing revenues. I believe that this resistance to new taxes is motivated not so much by class conflict but because of a basic distrust of the government and its dismal record in administering tax revenues. This basic distrust in the government is a fundamental theme in American history and not necessarily a bad one (witness the debate over the electronic invasion of privacy).  However, that said, I believe increasing revenues can be achieved without necessarily raising personal income tax rates by simplifying the tax code and eliminating built in loopholes and special subsidies (you are seeing this play out in the current battle over the FAA where the battle over subsidies over rural air service (at a cost of $3000 a ticket) is pitted against a budget freeze). There seems to be a general concensus that the ethanol subsidy should go as well and these are a fraction of the various distortions that have been built into the code over a long period of time. The problem is that the tax code has been used to favor special interests and to engage in social engineering (e.g., redistributing wealth) rather than as a revenue raising tool. One possible suggestion to address this , among many, is the flat tax.

All the recent sturm und drang has focused attention on these interconnected issues and have made them a central issue in a national debate. This is very healthy and, in fact (to return to the thread), marks the principal difference between our system of government and communist or other dirigiste socio/political/economic systems. The people will really have an opportunity to speak on this issue and that cannot be anything but healthy.

Petr                 

Dear Petr, thanks for welcoming me back. I have missed all of you and our many discussions. I actually agree with most of what you say. However, I do think the Tea Party has carried all of these (quite legitimate) concerns more than a step too far. The Democrats have a point when they say that the Tea Party wants to govern "by crisis," and even "by hostage taking," look at what they have "accomplished" in the Midwest, in some cases it has been little short of criminal, dismantling local government and social services all but entirely.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 04, 2011, 12:10:31 PM
I expect to receive admonishment any moment from our worthy forum administrator for drifting off topic but I can't help but offer this last observation. All popular movements tend to run their course by starting with some legitimate position or complaint and as time goes on becoming "radicalized" and more "extreme" until people either get tired or revolted and then the pendulum swings back. In a democracy we benefit from faster swings of the pendulum. In a totalitarian state (like the Soviet Union) it, unfortunately, takes much longer.

Once the cuts no longer affect the fat and the ridiculous and start to cut into muscle and bone the argument will sharpen, prioritization will occur, governmental efficiency will hopefully increase, views will begin to temper and the tea party will begin to lose its popular momentum.  However, it is necessary to state that they have done us a favor by making the matter of the national debt a pressing political issue which cannot be disregarded by politicians and, hopefully, its resolution will benefit our children and grandchildren.

By the way, I cannot help but observe that we have been waging not one but two wars for ten years to the tune of $680+ billion/year. Having lived through the Vietnam War and the argument of "guns vs butter" and what it did to our economy both Bush and Obama seemed to have forgotten their history. Clinton is praised for his budget surplus (which is really attributable to George Sr.'s tax increase which cost him reelection) but what he really should be praised for is keeping us out of the Serb/Croatian/Bosnian war. It is interesting to note that for the first time in my memory  Congress actually asked President Obama what an intervention in Libya would cost.  So in that way the antiwar left should be thankful to the tea party.

Petr         
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 04, 2011, 12:23:02 PM
Well, THIS anti-war leftist is NOT grateful to the tea party for anything ! A lot of reactionaries, IMO. But, on the other hand,  there are radicals in  every movement.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 04, 2011, 03:47:41 PM
Am I wrong i thinking that should we stop supporting the poor and the hungry in the rest of the world that we would not have such a huge budget deficit to begin with?

Every time a nation simply says, "We need," the US sends money.

Right now we have a drought in Texas that is large enough to qualify as the 7th largest desert in the world.  Are we helping our own?  Not much that I have heard.  We are yet again sending money to some foreign country (again without racial prejudice) it is in Africa.  Another drought and famine and the US answers the call but not, as usual, for our own citizens.

And perhaps the rest of the world is paying more in taxes, but it is where our money is being spent that makes most of us dig in and say, "We just can not afford any more."

Here in CT our income tax rates have again been raised, our sales tax is up again, and our tax credits have been lowered.  That doesn't leave much to give the Federal Government and still have money left to spend to keep this economy growing.  How can we buy durable goods if our layers of government - town - state - and federal keep taking the money before it even gets into our pay checks?

On a call in show here in CT someone asked Governor Malloy since he has said we all have to pay our fair share and sacrifice, just what is he himself giving up?  He danced around the question with explanations of union contracts but never actually answered the question or told the caller just what he IS prepared to sacrifice with the rest of us.

I would ask the same of our Federal Government employees.  They want to take away the credit for home mortgage interest, cut defence spending (not a bad idea in my opinion), cut VA benefits and rearrange entitlement programs.  Two of these things don't effect the government officials at all. How nice of them to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, the elderly and our veterans!

When will everyone - and Elizabeth, I know that you are very informed about all of this, when will everyone realize that the more they take from us the less we have to spend and invest and the less the business owners will have to hire new employees?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TsarAlexeiII on August 04, 2011, 04:05:44 PM
I have to step in and request the conversation stop here, as it is getting off-topic. The question regards why "communism" didn't work in practice in the Soviet Union and other "communist" countries.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 04, 2011, 04:27:08 PM
Sorry about that - as a moderator I should know better.


As you say - back to topic.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 05, 2011, 02:21:22 AM
Quote
Sorry about that - as a moderator I should know better.


That's okay, Alixz, I found the conversation interesting.


Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 06, 2011, 05:47:46 AM
I have to step in and request the conversation stop here, as it is getting off-topic. The question regards why "communism" didn't work in practice in the Soviet Union and other "communist" countries.


I don't think Alixz should have to apologize for letting this thread stray off topic. Even if the "OT" discussion went on for the next ten pages. The fact of the matter is that the topic "why doesn't communism work?" has been discussed ad infinitum for several years now, with the result that everybody already knows everybody else's opinion on the subject. This is precisely why so few of my favorite members hang out here any more (making exceptions for those stalwart souls who have contributed to this thread recently, of course). But yes, this is why I've remarked that the AP is currently in the doldrums. Nobody wants to discuss these tired old questions any longer, especially since communism is dead as a doornail, extinct like TRex or the dodo bird, and consequently, rapidly becoming if not already completely irrelevant...

My point being, instead of nipping a good discussion in the bud, however off topic it might seem or actually is, why not let it grow and develop naturally? Who knows, maybe eventually it might even wind back to the original topic? And even if it doesn't, in the meantime we've managed to have an intelligent discussion, an interchange of ideas, and, at the very least, an entertaining time... The alternative is letting a promising discussion die an unnatural death, and having nothing take its place for months if not years on end.

And in that spirit, I'm going to be totally obnoxious and remark about S&P's downgrade of the United States' credit status. I saw a representative from S&P on CNN International this AM and he said quite flatly that there were two main reasons why the USA got downgraded -- first, the political "brinksmanship" (his word) displayed in Washington in the last few weeks, which meant that the US was on the verge of defaulting on its debt until the very last possible minute -- indeed, this guy said this was the last straw as far as S&P was concerned (hey, thanks ever so much, Tea Party!); and secondly, the fact that the debt continues to burgeon and the cuts made in this latest deal are not sufficient, given the revenue situation.

In S&P's original statement they cited "the weakening of American political institutions" as one of their reasons for the downgrade. The S&P rep on CNN this morning was just elaborating on what they meant by that phrase.

Am I alone in thinking that all of this is very scary for the United States? Do we really need another major recession, at a time when 46 million Americans are on food stamps, and an estimated half (yes, 50 percent!) of American children will, by the age of 18, have been on the food stamp program at some point in their lives? For that matter, does the world economy really need this?

You know, maybe a more appropriate question for this thread would be, "Why doesn't capitalism work?" I am only half-joking.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 06, 2011, 10:08:46 AM
Thanks Elisabeth but I am known for going off on tangents especially when it concerns the government of the US and the direction that Congress is NOT taking.

I was born here with ancestors who were the "first illegal aliens" the British who walked in as though they had the right to take over anyplace they choose.  (They continued to do this up through India and Hong Kong and only recently have begun to give the government of the people back to the people.)

I have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and the American Civil War and who "draft dodged" with the best of them from the time of the Civil War through the Spanish American War.  I have draft registrations for ancestors during World War I and my father's cousin was killed on  D Day at Normandy in 1944.

I am even share a common ancestor with Major Henry Reed Rathbone who shared President Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1985.

What has this to do with the current discussion, you may ask?  It has to do with growing up proud to be an American (as the song says) and feeling strong and secure in a country which (after WWI) moved from "third world" to "first world" and then, after World War II, to a super power.

I never expected there would come a day when I would be ashamed of my leaders and their lack of leadership and their in-fighting and, yes, brinksmanship.

So I rant and rave and question everything.  Isn't that what a Democracy or Republic (they are different) is for?

The older I get, the less faith I have in our leaders' ability to lead.  I see them as the child on the playground who wants to take the ball and go home.  Game over no matter how many of his friends he hurts or how many he loses.  He doesn't care about respect.  He cares about possession being 9/10 of the law.

Our leaders are living on the respect this country commanded 75 years ago.  They haven't noticed that there are now other countries who have more power and more money and these countries don't care a bit about what we did in World War II or Korea.

If Congress doesn't get its act together, the US as a policy maker in the new world order will be as dead as a door nail.  Hence my contention that we have begun to crumble and are paying lip service to the ideals on which this country was founded.

The people of the US have come to see the "entitlements' as just that "entitlements" and, to me anyway, that is one of the reasons that there are more people on welfare and more children on food stamps.  Why go out and work for what you can get for nothing? Especially as Congress picks and eats away at the safety nets we do have and refuses to deal with the unemployment situation.

I had better stop now, or I will be writing long into tomorrow.   :-(
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 06, 2011, 10:17:16 AM
And as for taxes - the government is much like the public buses.  When ridership drops, the bus companies raise their rates.  And so ridership drops that much more.  The people who could still afford the higher fees can no longer afford them and so stop taking the bus.

It is the same with tax revenue.  The government can only take so much from the average citizen until that citizen can no longer afford to ride the tax bus.  One by one we begin to drop out.

Fewer people can afford to ride and so ridership drops off even more.  The fees are raised and even more drop off.

Soon the bus is empty and bus service is cancelled.

Soon the average tax payer's pocket is empty and he and his family go on welfare.  Nothing is coming into government coffers and more is going out.  Taxes are raised yet again and even more cannot afford to pay.  It goes on and on and on...
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 06, 2011, 12:58:39 PM
Dear Elizabeth:

I must confess that the only time I get sucked into posting (reflexively) these days is when a see a post from a diehard true believer who still argues that communism was and is the only true savior of Russia (Constantinople where are you).  As an off-the-boat Russian immigrant sliding with great rapidity into his "golden years" (as someone said old age is not for sissies) whose family fought in the Russian Civil War against the bolshies and, accordingly, whose political proclivities tend towards the conservative, I confess that I am at a loss to explain the modern Republican party. I guess I am an Eisenhower Republican (with a whiff of Nelson (not Jay) Rockefeller mixed in). I line up with the conservatives when it comes to the need for fiscal discipline but I find their position on social issues to be beyond my understanding (other than for a wistful desire for greater morality in the nation's public life). Likewise, as a veteran I have a healthy respect (and yes admiration) for our armed services but likewise a healthy skepticism of what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex" because the professional military like the corporate community is a vested interest. So I've reduced my views to a few simple governmental principles: stay out of my wallet, stay out of my bedroom, stay out of my hospital room, provide a level regulatory playing field for business and then get out of the way. Basically, I am skeptical of anything "big", big government, big business and big labor because in my experience in anything "big" management always loses touch with those who actually make things work and quickly loses any accountability for its actions. I think all these views are in part reactions to what the communists did in Russia to such disastrous effect so, in that roundabout way, I circle back to the theme. By the way, Alixz I too am a resident of CT (and I guess I'm a Yankee wannabe). I agree with your concerns regarding taxes but I fear that without an increased revenue component we will never really put a dent in the nation's debt (unless we experience a 3-5% growth in GDP which is highly unlikely). So there has to be some balance but it should be tilted to reduction of government expenditures, $3-4 dollars of cuts for each $1 increase in tax revenues. The alternative, which will be disastrous, will be to further devalue the dollar and to try to inflate our way out. Do people remember Weimar Germany?
       
Petr                 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 06, 2011, 05:28:31 PM
Some say that this is the beginning of the end of the United States, that, like the Soviet Union, 20 years ago, it will soon collapse and dissolve, with the larger States (Alaska, Texas, California, New York) becoming independent countries, and the smaller ones merging to form new countries.

I wonder if that will happen.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 06, 2011, 06:19:45 PM
Interesting thoughts, Tim.  I had not heard of that scenario, although California has been trying to figure out a separation for  many years.  The trouble is, though, that all states depend on Federal subsidies for  huge amounts of projects from health care to road works.
 As for Communism,  to some extent is does work. Are people forgetting Cuba ? If it were not for the US sanctions, the  country could progress rapidly They have excellent healthcare, education and  housing  subsidies [improving].
 North Korea is a very closed society so it is difficult to know what is actually going on there. However, I have a UK friend who took a  sanctioned tour of the  country. He naturally saw only what the government wanted him to see and was restricted on photos, but his descriptions were vivid enough to make me want to visit as well. See for myself.
  The Peoples Republic of China, I have seen for myself.  Like Cuba,  they are adjusting to the relatively new status on the world market, yet remain committed to the  Communist manifesto. Beat the capitalists at their own game, in  a way.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 06, 2011, 11:38:08 PM
There are some natives of Hawaii that wish to separate. They feel, and perhaps rightfully so, that the Americans came in and annexed their islands.  There is an independence party in Alaska (that Sarah and Todd Palin were once involved with, apparently).  Texas was an independent country for about ten years between the time it broke away from Mexico and the time it joined the U.S.  It could be one again.

One has to wonder, if this does happen, would it be peaceful , or would it be 1861 all over again.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2011, 04:50:05 AM
Thanks Elisabeth but I am known for going off on tangents especially when it concerns the government of the US and the direction that Congress is NOT taking.

I was born here with ancestors who were the "first illegal aliens" the British who walked in as though they had the right to take over anyplace they choose.  (They continued to do this up through India and Hong Kong and only recently have begun to give the government of the people back to the people.)

I have ancestors who fought in the American Revolution and the American Civil War and who "draft dodged" with the best of them from the time of the Civil War through the Spanish American War.  I have draft registrations for ancestors during World War I and my father's cousin was killed on  D Day at Normandy in 1944.

I am even share a common ancestor with Major Henry Reed Rathbone who shared President Lincoln's box at Ford's Theater on April 14, 1985.

What has this to do with the current discussion, you may ask?  It has to do with growing up proud to be an American (as the song says) and feeling strong and secure in a country which (after WWI) moved from "third world" to "first world" and then, after World War II, to a super power.

I never expected there would come a day when I would be ashamed of my leaders and their lack of leadership and their in-fighting and, yes, brinksmanship.

So I rant and rave and question everything.  Isn't that what a Democracy or Republic (they are different) is for?

The older I get, the less faith I have in our leaders' ability to lead.  I see them as the child on the playground who wants to take the ball and go home.  Game over no matter how many of his friends he hurts or how many he loses.  He doesn't care about respect.  He cares about possession being 9/10 of the law.

Our leaders are living on the respect this country commanded 75 years ago.  They haven't noticed that there are now other countries who have more power and more money and these countries don't care a bit about what we did in World War II or Korea.

If Congress doesn't get its act together, the US as a policy maker in the new world order will be as dead as a door nail.  Hence my contention that we have begun to crumble and are paying lip service to the ideals on which this country was founded.

The people of the US have come to see the "entitlements' as just that "entitlements" and, to me anyway, that is one of the reasons that there are more people on welfare and more children on food stamps.  Why go out and work for what you can get for nothing? Especially as Congress picks and eats away at the safety nets we do have and refuses to deal with the unemployment situation.

I had better stop now, or I will be writing long into tomorrow.   :-(

Dear Alixz, I can appreciate your family's history in this country, I think it's very important for Americans to have a sense of their personal contribution to the history of the United States. IMO, all Americans, even or especially descendants of African slaves, are proud of their family histories. It is one of the few things aside from our political/governmental institutions that welds us together. My own parents' families came over quite late -- my father's from Sweden in the 1880s (land hunger, terrible poverty in Sweden, an estimated third of the population emigrated!) and my mother's biological family from Germany in the 1920s -- probably during the era of hyper-inflation, but who knows -- at any rate, they were totally dysfunctional as a family unit but at least they were clever enough to get the hell out of Germany before Hitler came to power!

I also agree with many of your feelings of disillusionment where Congress is concerned. I think both the Republicans and the Democrats have been guilty in recent years of "brinksmanship" in the interests of advancing their party's cause (or their own individual ones as politicians). However, I also think the Tea Party has added that final note of strident anger and frustration which has tipped an already precarious situation into a political abyss. One thing that frightens me about the Tea Party is their repeated call for "principles" above all. This is only too appropriate a response to a totalitarian state -- I mean, thank God for people like Osip Mandelshtam in the USSR or Sophie Scholl in Nazi Germany, who had the courage to stand up and even die for their principles -- although note that this self-sacrifice for the absolute values of Judeo-Christian civilization was only necessary because absolute evil reigned, and that evil was already enshrined in its own impenetrable, self-righteous ideology.

But don't you think there is hell to pay for this kind of absolutism, this ideological rigidity in an open society that was originally built on the spirit of compromise? Probably this is a total cliché, but I believe that once Americans from either side of the aisle refuse to compromise "as a matter of principle" then the unraveling of the Republic is well under way. I don't know where this ideological fanaticism comes from. Is it some weird residue of the fundamentalist Christianity that swept over this country from the early 1970s on? Is that the trace that all these Born Again Christians have left on the public culture and civil society of the United States? Excuse me for saying so, but heaven forbid!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2011, 04:59:03 AM
Dear Elizabeth:

I must confess that the only time I get sucked into posting (reflexively) these days is when a see a post from a diehard true believer who still argues that communism was and is the only true savior of Russia (Constantinople where are you).  As an off-the-boat Russian immigrant sliding with great rapidity into his "golden years" (as someone said old age is not for sissies) whose family fought in the Russian Civil War against the bolshies and, accordingly, whose political proclivities tend towards the conservative, I confess that I am at a loss to explain the modern Republican party. I guess I am an Eisenhower Republican (with a whiff of Nelson (not Jay) Rockefeller mixed in). I line up with the conservatives when it comes to the need for fiscal discipline but I find their position on social issues to be beyond my understanding (other than for a wistful desire for greater morality in the nation's public life). Likewise, as a veteran I have a healthy respect (and yes admiration) for our armed services but likewise a healthy skepticism of what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex" because the professional military like the corporate community is a vested interest. So I've reduced my views to a few simple governmental principles: stay out of my wallet, stay out of my bedroom, stay out of my hospital room, provide a level regulatory playing field for business and then get out of the way. Basically, I am skeptical of anything "big", big government, big business and big labor because in my experience in anything "big" management always loses touch with those who actually make things work and quickly loses any accountability for its actions. I think all these views are in part reactions to what the communists did in Russia to such disastrous effect so, in that roundabout way, I circle back to the theme. By the way, Alixz I too am a resident of CT (and I guess I'm a Yankee wannabe). I agree with your concerns regarding taxes but I fear that without an increased revenue component we will never really put a dent in the nation's debt (unless we experience a 3-5% growth in GDP which is highly unlikely). So there has to be some balance but it should be tilted to reduction of government expenditures, $3-4 dollars of cuts for each $1 increase in tax revenues. The alternative, which will be disastrous, will be to further devalue the dollar and to try to inflate our way out. Do people remember Weimar Germany?
       
Petr                 

I guess, Petr, that in a perfect world I would probably be a sort of Eisenhower Republican, too. I actually find that most Americans I meet fit this description. They want a government that is socially liberal but fiscally conservative and yes, suspicious of the military-industrial complex. They want a social safety net for the very young, the very poor, the unemployed, and the elderly (so maybe we are all conservative liberals, as opposed to liberal conservatives -- haha!), but they don't want a system like that which exists in most Western European societies and currently claims about 40 percent of one's entire income in taxes  -- and that's not even counting Value Added Tax in places like England.

Probably where everybody here is in agreement is that we don't like radicals and reactionaries, i.e., political extremists of any kind.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 07, 2011, 09:54:20 AM
So I've reduced my views to a few simple governmental principles: stay out of my wallet, stay out of my bedroom, stay out of my hospital room, provide a level regulatory playing field for business and then get out of the way.


Petr - EXACTLY!!

But we have to remember that one of our most "patrician" presidents, FDR, was the most instrumental in bringing about big big government.  Somehow everyone "loves" him and forgets that.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 07, 2011, 11:42:42 AM

But we have to remember that one of our most "patrician" presidents, FDR, was the most instrumental in bringing about big big government.  Somehow everyone "loves" him and forgets that.

You know, if you think FDR was a bad president and a bad example, then we are really parting ways here, Alixz. I can't think of a president who did more for the common man at a time of the direst need. And excuse me, but if anyone believes that after World War II the same old traditions of letting the rich have their way and letting the less well off perish from poverty due to unemployment or old age or simply low wages would still fly... well, look at Great Britain. There was a vast sea change in the social order (why do conservatives tend to be so deaf and blind to these changes in popular sentiment?), which meant that the old system of doing things was definitely on the way out. Thus Winston Churchill, the great victor of World War II, was voted out of office by his own countrymen, moreover, by a landslide, in favor of a Labor government and a social welfare agenda.

I saw a very moving documentary about the labor legislation in Great Britain in the aftermath of WWII and the establishment of the NHS, National Health Service. Most of the people who availed themselves of these services in the first years had never had any health care whatsoever in their entire lives. Some of them were practically blind from untreated cataracts, others merely needed glasses but had been unable to get a proper prescription. There were a lot of heartbreaking stories. Somehow I don't think we want to go back to these bad old days of no social safety net whatsoever for the working poor... and they are working, that's the whole point. They just can't afford health care or life insurance or pension plans or etc....

So no, I don't see the point of slamming FDR. He established the basic social safety net for all Americans. And I don't quite understand how the overall economy suffered from it, given that the USA experienced a complete economic rebound and even a definite boom after World War II... which lasted well into the 1960s.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2011, 01:24:02 PM
I enjoy the way this discussion is going.  It is social commentary and appropriate to the topic at hand. We are all comparing experiences and viewpoints relative to the political structures we live in.  For my own part,  my grandparents came from Russia and Greece, respectively.  Grandfather came first, I think during the civil war in Russia. Grandmother was sent for from  Greek Anatolia during the troubles there.  I did not know them well, and frankly, Grandmother was a female dog. On the other hand, I am English.  I had English, Irish and French teachers so my mindset is Europe although I was born and raised in the USA. It always has been. Even  being raised in Gettysburg PA,  I am a  British Tory.[not quite, i am very Labour]
 Regarding the separation of the states of this union, well, to happen legally, it would take an act of Congress and a majority of states to approve it. My personal belief is that this is unlikely to happen. As it is, even though  the USA is in a financial mess,  we are better off staying as one, for better or worse. The other option is again- civil war. As I see it.
 The breakup of the USSR is a case in point.  All these new "republics", some have prospered, some gone downhill and others are just  the same petty party dictatorships which  just do not call themselves "Communist" any longer. The same would happen here, I imagine.
 We rely on the federal system to "share the wealth" so top speak.  Like kids begging for candy.   This is demeaning, but we are used to it.
 The same is true in the UK, as I see it. But, they are going about resolving their conflicts differently. Not in a good way IMO,  by cutting the  "federal" give outs and leaving it up to local entities to raise the funds they need. Just to maintain roads, education, housing, etc.
 Here, in California, there has been long time argumentions to split the state in two.  Another idea that has been long forwarded is that the west coast separate from the union.  {Washington, Oregon and California, sometimes including Nevada, Arizona and Idaho. Depends on  who you read and the mood they are in I suppose. Personally, I would not mind either way.
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 07, 2011, 04:06:53 PM
Elisabeth - FDR may have provided that security net system but with it came very big government to attend to it.  That made government cost more as more and more workers were hired by federal agencies to implement the social policies.

And in reality, Social Security is almost a dead issue now and Medicare was a President Johnson thing not an FDR thing.  And Medicare is now being attacked by the government that should be supporting and maintaining it.

Lets get all of those Federal workers working instead of getting paid 40 hours pay for 35 hour work weeks and payment that does not even have Social Security deducted from it!  How strange that the very government that is supposed to maintain federal policies doesn't even participate in the very plans that they are trying to take away from the rest of us.

A level playing field that is all I ask for.

Robert - I remember in the 1970s south New Jersey wanted to secede from north New Jersey. Nothing came of it, but if one has travelled there, one can see that they are practically different states geographically and ecologically.

Personally, I would let any state go that wanted to.  They all joined voluntarily and so, to my mind, should be able to leave voluntarily.  Without approval of anyone but their own residents. I felt the same way about the states that seceded in 1861. If I were Lincoln, I would have said, "Go with my blessing.  You came in voluntarily and so shall you leave."

As for Federal assistance, I say we would be better without it.  It all comes out of our pockets whether is it called local, state, or federal money.  There is no magical place where money is created for federal or state projects.  It is taken from the average worker in taxes, taxes and more taxes. I always have to laugh when some governor says we need to apply for Federal aid.  Federal aid my foot, it is still my money it has just changed hands and been laundered a bit to make it look like it belongs to someone else.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2011, 04:55:19 PM
I tend to agree with you, Alixz, to some extent.  But, constitutionally, the Union  cannot be broken by any other means.
 My parents were FDR democrats and practically worshiped him [ I was born after he was dead}  so  I had that influence as well- social justice,  evening out resources,  powerful leadership.  Of course, the same could be said of Stalin, Hitler and Churchill in retrospect. Amongst others.
 IMO, this country is too big for it's britches.   Our taxes do go into a netherland,  to pay for an unwanted war,  pay for debts we should not have. Lacking investment in our local infrastructure. IMO,  we started on this roadpath  since WW2.
 For example, we here in SF are closing some schools and  undergoing a massive roadworks scheme.  This does not make a hell of a lot of sense.  My own block is to be torn up  starting tomorrow. Why ? It was just torn up last spring and the autumn before.... The reason., we have highway funds to spend from the Feds. If they don't spend it,  they send it back to D.C. Ridiculous.
 In a communist society, this works, it keeps people employed for the benefit of the people. Here, it  is just a way to throw away federal  $$$s.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 07, 2011, 05:27:41 PM
And excuse me, but if anyone believes that after World War II the same old traditions of letting the rich have their way and letting the less well off perish from poverty due to unemployment or old age or simply low wages would still fly... well, look at Great Britain. There was a vast sea change in the social order (why do conservatives tend to be so deaf and blind to these changes in popular sentiment?), which meant that the old system of doing things was definitely on the way out. Thus Winston Churchill, the great victor of World War II, was voted out of office by his own countrymen, moreover, by a landslide, in favor of a Labor government and a social welfare agenda.[/quote]

Churchill's being voted out of office may have been more a reaction of war weary Brits than a belief in Attlee's socialist views, after all Churchill was voted back into office. There is an apocryphal story of Attlee walking into the men's room at the House of Commons and finding Churchill standing at the farthest urinal saying "My Winston, being unsocial aren't we". Churchill answered "Clement, whenever you see anything big you want to nationalize it."
Britain really didn't recover from the War until the late '50s (there was still rationing in the early '50s). Query whether Labor's policies didn't retard the recovery.
 
Petr   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 07, 2011, 07:30:42 PM
We have one of the "shovel ready" projects.  A bridge that needed to be replaced.  Our town got the funds (from somewhere?) and about half way through the project, the wood workers went on strike.  That meant the whole project was put on hold and none in any other union could work on this "shovel ready" project.  

So we are all still using one half of a half finished project that should have been done years ago.

How can union workers who are crying out for jobs and get the money for those jobs go on strike?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 07, 2011, 08:00:52 PM
Alixz, I understand the frustration.   I  was once a very active union steward, heavy into  worker's rights.  Once I caught on, I saw the  self interest involved.  Although I am not able to legally  vote in  UK elections, I am still an active LABOUR party. I was too young to join the Communist Party, and we did not have the  Young Pioneers option,  I also stuffed envelopes for them.. I mentioned some time ago about my close friend at the Soviet embassy in D.C.  In short, I have a wide viewpoint on politics with a very leftist slant. Communism has disappointed me and millions of others, but the alternative, is it the lesser of 2 evils?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 07, 2011, 11:40:57 PM
Well, the reason Communism is thought of as evil is because the lack of respect it shows to human rights.  Locking people up, or executing them, just because they don't like how things are done is wrong.  I don't know if this is what Karl Marx had in mind when he wrote his book, but there is it.  Communism will always be linked to the likes of Stalin because Communism allowed him (and others like Ceaucescu, Pol Pot, Kim Il Sung, etc) to rise to power in the first place.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 08, 2011, 12:16:45 AM
Sadly, Tim, I am afraid you are right.  Yet the alternatives- Abu Gharib, Guantamntamo,  Viet Nam, etc.  Are they any better ? We are loosing uniforms and civilians like dropping flies in Afghanistan.  For what ? A US sponsordeed rebellion against a Soviet regime. Where has any of this got us  ?.
 They were better off with the Soviets, IMO.  Rather continual bloodshed in essentially tribal wars.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 08, 2011, 08:51:41 AM
I believe that Communism (being an ideology not a person) did nothing to "allow" anyone to do anything.

The people who distorted the intent of the ideology are the ones who called their way of governing Communism (with a capital C) and under the guise of a "worker's paradise", those leaders corrupted the communist intent and turned it into a system that even the Tsars would have cringed at.

However, no system of government seems immune to the greed and corruption of its leaders.  

As for the US running its course and now beginning to crumble and decay.  I heard many years ago that the average government lasted, at the max, about 200 to 300 years in any particular form.  The country may last longer but the style of government would run its course in about 200 to 300 years.

Check it out, because it is eerily true.  I will do some research and get back here with some of the forms of government where this was shown to be true and the names of the countries that saw this.

But the US is now in its 236th year of existence with the form of government we now have.  Look at how the mighty have fallen!

The Soviet Union didn't even last that long.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 08, 2011, 09:45:07 AM
In today's Wall Street Journal there appear two items (among many others) that jumped off the page for me. I haven't checked the veracity of the figures but I think I've seen them before. They appear in a letter to the Editor and I quote.."According to the Tax Foundation, in 2008 the top 5% of income earners paid 59% of total federal income taxes and earned 35% of total income...." and "Analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation shows that 51% of American households paid no federal income tax in 2009." Little wonder then that there is anger in the hustings or that the problem of "entitlements" will be so difficult to resolve. It's tough to get people to give up benefits they don't pay for.

By the way, in the same issue the Editorial states the following: "The Bush Presidency and previous GOP Congresses contributed to the current problem by not insisting on domestic cuts to finance the cost of war  [shades of the Johnson Presidency which resulted in the subsequent decade long inflation], and by adding the prescription drug benefit without reforming Medicare. But as recently as 2008 spending was still only 20.7% and debt held by the public was only 40.3% of GDP. In the name of saving the economy from panic, the White House and the Pelosi Congress then blew out the American government balance sheet. They compounded the problem of excessive private debt by adding unsustainable public debt. They boosted federal spending to 25% of GDP in 2009, 23.8% in 2010 (as TARP repayments provided a temporary reduction in overall spending), and back nearly to 25% this fiscal year. Meanwhile, debt to GDP climbed to 53.3% in 2009, 62.2% in 2010, and is estimated to hit 72% this year -- and to keep rising. These are figures from Mr. Obama's own budget office."  These trends can't continue. No wonder financial markets are so volatile.

Petr         
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 08, 2011, 10:45:39 AM
Well, the Roman Empire fell, the British Empire fell, the Soviet Empire fell.  Is the U.S. next?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 08, 2011, 01:16:39 PM
It will soon be time to kow tow to the Middle Kingdom.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 08, 2011, 02:18:40 PM
Well, that is an example of an Empire that rose and fell and rose again over millennium. As is, in a different way- The Persian Empire.   The Moghuls of India, Inca, Aztec, Maya,  the list could go on and on could it not ?
 In my opinion, the USA  will be forced by circumstances to re-invent itself if it is to stay a union. Much like Britain at the moment; Scotland is having independence pains again, the sentiment seems to be growing.  Northern Ireland is a mixed bag to say the least, but there are very vocal arguments and sadly violence  from both sides.
 As for the "Soviet Empire", well, it inherited it from the  monarchy, mostly built by Peter I and Catherine II.  Others as well, of course.  Remember, Lenin actually ceded a lot of ground to Germany to get out of the war. And Stalin carved up Europe with Germany.  2 other empires that did not survive for very long.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 09, 2011, 02:01:56 AM
Of course, one has to pray that Sarah Palin and the Tea Party never take power.  God help us all if that happens.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 09, 2011, 09:22:50 AM
I think that Robert is right. Countries reinvent themselves as time passes.  The form of government changes with the reinvention.

Even the British have gone through many reinventions including Cromwell and the Round Heads. I know that after the murder of Charles II, and the toppling of Cromwell, the monarchy was restored, but it was again a reinvented monarchy with many changes.

Perhaps that is all that will happen in the US.  We may be seeing the old order passing and a new reinvented order on the horizon.

Tim, since you mentioned Palin (and I know that this belongs somewhere else) That bastion of abstinence has just welcomed another grandchild into the family.  Her son and his wife of three months just had a baby.  Maybe gestation in Alaska is faster than in other places in the world.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 09, 2011, 11:55:12 AM
I wonder what they're gonna name this kid?  If it's a boy, I wonder if it will start with a T.  That seems to be a tradition in that family, Todd, Track, Trig and Tripp.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 09, 2011, 02:23:07 PM
Sarah Palin has a new grandchild, and this time it's a granddaughter. Track Palin's wife, Britta, gave birth to a baby girl the couple named Kayla Grace. ...
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TsarAlexeiII on August 09, 2011, 03:02:58 PM
How do I stop receiving post updates for this thread? I posted once about two weeks ago, and now I keep getting updates for a thread that had turned into a Sarah Palin discussion that I would rather not read.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 09, 2011, 03:21:09 PM
Quote
Sarah Palin has a new grandchild, and this time it's a granddaughter. Track Palin's wife, Britta, gave birth to a baby girl the couple named Kayla Grace

That's a nice name.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 09, 2011, 04:11:08 PM
I know what you mean AII,  try  clicking the notify  button [or whatever  that is called]  That should allow you to discontinue  further posts. Palin ends up in several therads. She annoys the bother out of me as well.
 Now, back to topic,  As most should know by now,  London is my second home and I am  very distressed over what is happening in England and to an extent, Scotland as well.  This is an example of what can happen when a  very Socialists State,  structured carefully and  equally uncarefully largely dismantle under Thatcher.  Social disenfranchisement. Racial tensions,  violence, leading, possibly to martial law.  Going that far is rather drastic and I would hope it does  go that far. However, a case of government not paying attention to the needs of it's population. It is not just the Communist regimes that failed in this order. Norway, another socialist  "share the wealth" state, was totally unprepared for what happened  there. Thank the gods that was just one madman, not a mob.
 Again, I do not think the ideal of communism itself has failed,   it was the  manic leaders and incompetent financial planners that did.
 Somewhere in between a socialist state and a total dictatorship  the USA  comes in. WE have had our fairs share social discontent as well.  Watts, Rodney King, etc.  I would not be surprised if more is  to come. The rich keeps getting richer, the poor loosing their safety nets and the middle class, despite all the commercial hype, is either stagnant or disspearing.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 12, 2011, 02:30:55 AM
I know what you mean AII,  try  clicking the notify  button [or whatever  that is called]  That should allow you to discontinue  further posts. Palin ends up in several therads. She annoys the bother out of me as well.
 Now, back to topic,  As most should know by now,  London is my second home and I am  very distressed over what is happening in England and to an extent, Scotland as well.  This is an example of what can happen when a  very Socialists State,  structured carefully and  equally uncarefully largely dismantle under Thatcher.  Social disenfranchisement. Racial tensions,  violence, leading, possibly to martial law.  Going that far is rather drastic and I would hope it does  go that far. However, a case of government not paying attention to the needs of it's population. It is not just the Communist regimes that failed in this order. Norway, another socialist  "share the wealth" state, was totally unprepared for what happened  there. Thank the gods that was just one madman, not a mob.
 Again, I do not think the ideal of communism itself has failed,   it was the  manic leaders and incompetent financial planners that did.
 Somewhere in between a socialist state and a total dictatorship  the USA  comes in. WE have had our fairs share social discontent as well.  Watts, Rodney King, etc.  I would not be surprised if more is  to come. The rich keeps getting richer, the poor loosing their safety nets and the middle class, despite all the commercial hype, is either stagnant or disspearing

I'm not sure we can just blame Thatcher for the so-called "dismantling" of the social welfare state. After all, Thatcher came to power in Great Brit largely because the country was so entirely dysfunctional in the 1970s -- massive strikes, remember? Uncollected garbage for months on end, nothing getting done, dreadfully low productivity and unemployment with fully ensconced smug workers taking 20 minute tea breaks every other hour? Remember? There was much more of an excuse for Thatcher in Britain than there was for Reagan in the United States, although I'll commit total heresy now and say that I also don't think Reagan was such a bad thing.

The other pet peeve I have is the idea that social deprivation causes this kind of militant thuggery, such as we saw in England this last week. I mean, what else can you call it but thuggery? A social protest? Please. These youths were beating up innocent bystanders within an inch of their lives and stealing everything they had, torching landmark buildings and raiding clothing stores. The cretins were also apparently Blackberrying each other non-stop (I suppose all socially deprived youngsters own Blackberrys?) and saying, basically (because these texts were reproduced word for word on CNN International and BBC) "meet us at such and such a station at 4 PM. Bring your bags and your trolleys and your kit and we'll have a party!". And in fact local residents whose homes and businesses were burnt down in many cases reported that the youths who committed these crimes were not even from the neighborhood. So where does that leave the social deprivation argument?

And what is social deprivation, anyway? GB has a much more generous social benefit program for the indigent and unemployed than we do in the United States. Does that mean we have to keep expanding social welfare at an exponential rate into the foreseeable future? How is that even vaguely conceivable with skyrocketing debts not only in the US but also in the EU?

I'm not saying there aren't complicating factors, of course. Great Britain does have a large underclass -- as the United States does, but in our case such public demonstrations of violence and mob instincts are more often or not also racial in character, therefore more deserving of the category of "social protest," than what was seen in GB this last weekend. I saw as many white yobs as black youths in the London crowds throwing bricks at policemen. Moreover, in the United States the authorities usually call in the National Guard at the first sign of real trouble, whereas in England they are more disorganized and at a loss for resources -- all they really have beyond the ordinary police is the Territorial Army, which is a real army, and the fear is that they would lose their heads and use real bullets against a civilian population. Which explains some of the Brit government's hesitancy in calling in bigger forces to quell the rising disturbances, although definitely not all of it. They should have had 16,000 policemen out already in London on Monday night, and not waited until Tuesday night, Wednesday morning.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 12, 2011, 09:44:49 AM
My pet peeve is this so called "social deprivation:  not only in the UK but also in the US.  While it is obvious that there is a huge class distinction in both countries, those involved in mass demonstrations of this kind aren't usually fighting for something, but simply taking the opportunity to "steal".

I get so tired of news articles about the social deprived in the US while all the time these socially deprived have the resources to buy jewelry and video games and, yes, blackberries.  In one article where a renter was complaining about the condition of her flat and its affect on her teen son, we saw a filthy food stained mess which she herself could clean up and a very expensive pair of high top basket ball shoes in the closet of the son.

Only deprived when she doesn't want to do something about her surroundings but not deprived enough to keep her from buying expensive material things.

I know that many will disagree with me, but this kind of reporting and this kind of story is what keeps me from contributing to charities who truly feel the need to help the underprivileged but who are feeding into the fraud committed by those claiming a need they truly don't have.

The same issue comes up when young people kill each other in the streets of the US or the UK.  Everyone gathers around and says "someone should do something".  Well what about you?  What about the parents of these hooligans?  Start at home and teach your children to respect one another and to learn the meaning of "mine and not mine".  Stop pushing this solution off to "someone who should do something"!

Take responsibility for your own actions and the actions of your children.  Not everything is someone else's fault!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 12, 2011, 11:24:13 AM
Neither Alixz nor Elizabeth have any argument from me about the  riots in London.  The "welfare" state is entrenched and does need dismantling [sic].  These actions are simply hooliganism.  As I hear back from from my friends in the UK,  some of whom have nearly missed the disturbances,  I do get more understanding of the situation and the reality. I am not usually in London at this time of year- I hate travelling in summer- but I know  the areas affected. and am in shock basically.
 As Alixz mentioned,  some parents simply do not take responsibility for their children.  They have/had no guidance  of their own, so they do not pass it on to their progeny. This is not racism  nor classism. It happens in every category.  There are super rich, entitled kids  misbehaving as well as  some ghetto  thugs.In a Socialist/ quasi Communist society with  "cradle to grave" care,  Discipline and respect are more in order, as I see it. And here we come to the totally off the wall tragedy in Norway.  So disfunction can happen anywhere.
 
 Yes, Elizabeth, Thatcher was not the root of all evils, but she was the catalyst. And I do remember the massive strikes- vividly. Walking blocks to find a post box, no waste bins, etc.  A lot of that, however was due to the threat of terrorism from the IRA.   Reagan was no better, IMO. False economy, false rhetoric. A B- actor, perhaps not as much  as a war monger, as  Bush,  but still a bully. He was a lousy governor [we are still paying the price for that, many years later] and a tacky president. He was just a mouthpiece, as I see him.
  I would have preferred Putin, I think.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: feodorovna on August 13, 2011, 02:30:55 AM
And no argument from me, either, Robert Hall. IMO, true Communism was displayed by the man we know as Jesus of Nazereth, now it is no more than a beautiful idealogy, at its' best a personal concept, at its' worst, a means of control.
Regarding the London riots. The underlying anger wasn't something which appeared overnight, IMO it was a generational thing which had been festering for years. Some of it MAY have been about need but very much more was about GREED. It seems to me that there are elements in this society that take no responsibility for themselves and this concept is passed down to their children and grandchildren who go on believing that the government of the day should provide for their every need. I've heard people complaining about immigrants taking THEIR jobs, if they had taken the offered job in the first place, it would have been unavailable to others. It was that mindset that destroyed the livelyhood of a man who worked 80 to 90 hours a week-he had lost everything.
I agree with Elizabeth that Thatcher was the catalyst for much of this. She gave us permission to be SELFish. Blair wanted everyone to go to university and IMO this further widened the chasm that Thatcher had created and for those who won't finish school, let alone go on to higher education, the future must look bleak. However, if they get more from benefits than from paid employment why should they go to work. I don't know what the answer is, or even if there is one. It's too simplistic to  blame lack of dicipline and respect, both must be earned, and in a materialistic society it could be a hard lesson.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 13, 2011, 08:34:21 AM
In the US the 1980s was the decade where we were given the permission to be selfish.  Regan was President and I remember that suddenly conspicuous consumption was the goal of everyone.

This was also the decade when the huge difference in class began to become overwhelming.  Those without began to steal from those who had and also they began to feel it was their right to steal in order to get what everyone else had instead of working for it.

This was the decade when just driving any car wasn't good enough.  One now had to have an expensive foreign car and more Mercedes and BMWs and Jaguars began to be seen US streets.

Just recently, I saw a Porche Panamera on the streets of our little town.  I know that these luxury Porche sedans (they are four seaters) begin pricing at a quarter of a million dollars.

The US has also found it necessary to tell everyone that a college or university degree is a necessity and therefore have put a lot of pressure on the young people who would ordinarily not have worried about college.  After all, there will always be a need for someone to cook hamburgers and/or work on the garbage truck routes (city workers make a very good pay and don't need a college degree to do so) and why should those who are so inclined to work as mechanics or bus drivers have to take a four year degree, go into debt and then never work in the field that their degree is in?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 13, 2011, 02:43:19 PM
My take on the Nararene was that he preached more communalism than  communism, as practiced in monasteries and convents.
 As for the UK,  the consensus seems to be  this  was triggered by common street thugs/hooligans. If I am not mistaken, kids can leave school  at an earlier age than in most of the US so there are a lot of unemployed street  people, on benefits, of course.  Well, those benefits are coming to an end soon, with long needed reform. I may agree with the way Camreron is doing it, but it  is necessary. And now, with the threat of loosing  their council housing,  even more will be on the streets.
 I do not know what this may portend and it reminds me, in a way, of the chaos that followed in the wake of the fall of the Soviet regimes.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 14, 2011, 02:49:03 AM
In the UK it's possible to leave school at 16, and many do (often barely literate after 11 years at school!), but there aren't many jobs for that age group, certainly not jobs that bring in a reasonable income (tends to be part-time jobs in shops, burger bars and the like). We have a large underclass whose members have, over several generations now, been living on benefits on council estates. The women start producing offspring in their teens, and drift from man to man producing issue by each one, with disastrous consequences. When I lived in Swansea and was an Army Cadet Force instructor in Llanelli (a depressed former steel town), it was a sad comment on modern society that we were the main role models for the cadets and the ACF was the most stable thing in their lives.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 14, 2011, 06:04:30 AM
Ann, I hate to keep saying this, but the US isn't much different.  In many states kids can leave school at 16 and in some as young as 14.  There is welfare housing here, what you call council housing (I think) and the young women here also begin having children as young as 12 and then drift from one to another having as many as possible to stay on the system by the income generated for the children.

Someone right in my husband's family had 5 grandchildren by the time she was 40!  She had her first child in her teens and her third by the time she as 21.  She was not a close relative and I didn't even know her mother very well even though she is my husband's generation.

The young woman in question just died of drug abuse at the age of 43 leaving three children and five grandchildren all with no visible means of support and no husbands or fathers to take over or any kind of significant other in sight.

Her obituary said she was a "free spirit".  No such thing.  We all supported her and the children and grandchildren with our taxes.

And I know that those jobs you mentioned don't pay very well, but they do pay!  Anyone who can work should work and if what they make isn't a "living wage" then they can get themselves motivated.  However, our social systems encourage them to stay on welfare by telling them that a low wage is useless.  No wage is even more useless and more detrimental to society.

I was just thinking the other day that the answer to some of our state budget problems could be solved by having those who are collecting welfare also have to work a certain number of hours a week to qualify for the welfare income.  That way, state work would get done and the welfare wouldn't be an empty payment for doing nothing but sitting on one's but or having more children.

I know that the hope here is to protect the innocent children of these "welfare" parents, but what the system does is to encourage the parent to stay on welfare by having even more kids. As you pointed out, this continues from generation to generation as this way of life is all that is learned.  But since the children of these "welfare" parents have to go to school, the children must see the families of their classmates and learn that there is another way of life.

By making work a requirement for collecting, we just might educate some in the ways of work and get a return on our investment.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 14, 2011, 06:15:30 AM
Now it turns out that "social deprivation" as an excuse for the recent public disturbances in England is even more nonsensical than it first appeared. Because as it happens, lots of very middle class youths -- both male and female -- took part in the looting and torching. And most of them are now being tracked down -- as David Cameron promised they would be -- and suddenly have to face the music of lengthy court sentences: e.g., six months for a model -- yes, a model! -- who wept in court even as she was sentenced. See this story:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025356/UK-riots-arrests-Croydon-model-Shonola-Smith-looted-Argos-Facebook-joker-Hollie-Bentley.html?ITO=1490

Or try this link, from the same newspaper, about other "decent" and "civilized" middle class looters:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025068/UK-riots-Middle-class-rioters-revealed-including-Laura-Johnson-Natasha-Reid-Stefan-Hoyle.html
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 14, 2011, 06:18:34 AM
I have wondered - since the police in the UK don't carry guns, how did this begin with someone being shot by police?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 14, 2011, 06:28:30 AM
I have wondered - since the police in the UK don't carry guns, how did this begin with someone being shot by police?

I'm told that there are special police task forces in the UK that do carry weapons. Which begs the question, why this particular guy was targeted by a special task force. I suspect, from what I've read, because he was a well-known local gangster (in Tottenham). His widely published photograph would seem to indicate this as well (rappa attitude, bling ring on display). Of course, this is no excuse for shooting somebody, especially if you outnumber him in weapons and manpower, and I do think the British police have a well-earned reputation for corruption and incompetence.

I'm sure this incident did start out as a genuine, local expression of rage over an unlawful killing, but it quickly turned into something else entirely, a wanton, disgraceful display of destruction and greed by a horde of untamed youngsters whose parents -- underclass, working class, middle class, and in some cases it seems even upperclass -- were too busy channel surfing (and buying bling?) to pay any attention to what their kids were up to.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 14, 2011, 07:03:57 AM
Here in Britain we do have task forces which are routinely armed. Each police force (there are 43), also has a proportion of people who are firearms trained and firearms can be issued to them when there is considered to be a need - usually where someone is known to be armed. It is far from clear what happened in this particular case - an official inquiry is in train, as is usual.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 14, 2011, 12:15:19 PM
If I am not mistaken, all this started with a peaceful demonstration against the  shooting. It was escalated into the violence by people who had nothing to do with the protest. Fueled by outsiders.
I recently read that a similar wave of incidences was stopped  before it happened when authorities intercepted social network postings and messages [Blacberries ?]
 My best fiends recently moved to Hull, for economic reasons as it is cheaper to live up in Yorkshire than the Southeast. IMO, this did not make a lot of sense, though, as  although  it is a nice little town, it also has the highest unemployment rate in the country.
 In Soviet societies, work was created for people.  Not always necessarily productive nor even useful, but it kept people off the streets and more or less busy and out of trouble. FDR had similar polices  during the Depression, but I think they were more productive. It may be time to rethink these ideas, if the economy can support them. What is cost otherwise ?
 BTW, I meant I may NOT agree with the way Cameron is trying to reform the system, but it is necessary.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 14, 2011, 02:59:23 PM
My husband, whose grandfather worked in the CC Camps of the Roosevelt years, is always asking the same thing.  Why can't these jobs be recreated for those who are unemployed now?

I always answer that back then there were no social programs to support people who did not work and so people worked no matter what.  Today there are far too many social programs that encourage people to "collect" and stay home.  I doubt that the CC Camps (Civilian Conservation Camps) would attract very many unemployed from their "couch potato" status as they sit and do nothing all the while collecting money from the government whether it be unemployment compensation or welfare or food stamps, etc.

It was a different world in the 1930s and a different generation who were brought up after the Great War by parents who honestly believed in the work ethic not in getting money for nothing. It was considered a shame to not be working and supporting your family in the 1930s, but, and for this I blame Roosevelt, now there are so many support programs that he instituted that not working is almost a badge of honor.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 14, 2011, 03:20:09 PM
It seems to me that there are elements in this society that take no responsibility for themselves and this concept is passed down to their children and grandchildren who go on believing that the government of the day should provide for their every need. I've heard people complaining about immigrants taking THEIR jobs, if they had taken the offered job in the first place, it would have been unavailable to others.
 


Unfortunately, his attitude runs through many levels of society and is certainly not limited to the poor or dispossessed; to an "underclass" which believes that the government owes them a living. There are multimillionaires in Parliament and the City who believe they have the right to place fraudulent expenses claims (and then lecture others on their own conduct) or gamble freely with other peoples' money, destroy the economy and walk away scot-free with pensions which would alone would pay for every piece of damage done by these rioters. This is as much the background to these riots as anything else, and though I would most certainly not rush in to declare that I know what caused them, it is a factor apparent to everyone because it has been so much discussed.


Blair wanted everyone to go to university and IMO this further widened the chasm that Thatcher had created and for those who won't finish school, let alone go on to higher education, the future must look bleak. However, if they get more from benefits than from paid employment why should they go to work. I don't know what the answer is, or even if there is one. It's too simplistic to  blame lack of dicipline and respect, both must be earned, and in a materialistic society it could be a hard lesson.

Unfortunately, for many who DO go on to higher education, the future also looks bleak: there are hordes of graduates chasing every position, and often just temporary contracts available to those who can get the jobs. So how to improve one's working conditions or salary? Join a union? Unions are effectively demonised in modern Britain, labelled as "dinosaurs" who bankrupt employers by aspiring to terms and conditions that cannot be afforded in a global economy. Take legal action? You'd have to be rich. Threaten to leave? "In a global economy" - well - you write the rest. And if you DO happen to land a job with decent terms, it is perpetually under attack on the grounds of "affordability". Especially if it happens to be in the public sector. So you just suck it up: pay freeze? At least I have a job. Pension eroded? at least I have a job. Terms worsened? At least I have a job. But the people who are imposing this, from bosses to government (and by this I mean ELECTED government, because make no mistake that government employees are top of their hit list): what sacrifices are THEY making?

Not to mention the fact that the current Chancellor has stated that he feels it reasonable for people to expect to rent homes until the age of 35, only attempting to buy after that, which - given the huge escalation in property prices in the UK - seems a realistic view on his part (for once). Though you'll note that he certainly didn't need to wait that long.  Many of those who claim the benefits which are alleged to fund a cushy lifestyle are actually the working poor; and many of those benefits go right into the pockets of private landlords who charge exorbitant rents. Don't let's forget that one of Thatcher's revolutions was to sell off council housing, leaving the stock of subsidized property depleted and the many who can't afford to buy at the mercy of increasingly ill-regulated private landlords. I know of a landlord who complained about how "demanding"students have become: God Lord, they now expect his houses to provide them with their own bedroom!

 As you say, it is too simple to blame lack of discipline for these riots. I also think it is too simple to blame a only lazy reliance on "benefits" and lack of personal responsibility among those who do. If these are factors - and I won't deny that they they probably are - they are part of a complicated picture.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 14, 2011, 04:00:51 PM
Now it turns out that "social deprivation" as an excuse for the recent public disturbances in England is even more nonsensical than it first appeared. Because as it happens, lots of very middle class youths -- both male and female -- took part in the looting and torching. And most of them are now being tracked down -- as David Cameron promised they would be -- and suddenly have to face the music of lengthy court sentences: e.g., six months for a model -- yes, a model! -- who wept in court even as she was sentenced. See this story:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025356/UK-riots-arrests-Croydon-model-Shonola-Smith-looted-Argos-Facebook-joker-Hollie-Bentley.html?ITO=1490

Or try this link, from the same newspaper, about other "decent" and "civilized" middle class looters:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2025068/UK-riots-Middle-class-rioters-revealed-including-Laura-Johnson-Natasha-Reid-Stefan-Hoyle.html

"Whatever a model means" (to paraphrase Prince Charles!). She might do sessions for a third-rate clothes catalogue at 3 quid an hour.

I am not sure what is meant by the "social deprivation" argument, since all deprivation is relative, and I don't think that explanations aimed at understanding ,perhaps at preventing repetition,  should be dismissed as "excuses". To explain is not to condone. I do know some of the areas involved, and have seen Victorian housing sell for ludicrous sums while the social housing next door rots away. Everyone - from the "middle class" person who buys the overpriced terrace to the guy next door who can't get a council flat - is struggling. Their kids often go to the same schools, because the middle class parent certainly can't be forking out for fees on top of the mortgage.

And if a millionaire's kid - was she a student? I don't know - is involved in the rioting, perhaps that suggests that the motives MIGHT be political - and she might have some notion that she was helping the dispossessed escape the pigs. Who knows? I DO know that weeks ago the people who work in inner-city areas were predicting a summer of violence, as cuts removed the social programs which provided both help and distraction, and I don't think anyone should be rushing to declare they understand what is going on and what isn't.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 14, 2011, 04:09:55 PM
To be a bit glib here, but since the forum is mainly about Russian history, I can't help chuckling at the irony that some of the very same posters who would swiftly condemn Nicholas and Alexandra for ignoring what was happening in 1917, dismissing at as "a hooligan movement" and "just boys and girls making a noise" or the like  - are pretty much doing EXACTLY that here!!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 14, 2011, 04:42:52 PM
I agree with Janet. I am fairly familiar with  British  society and systems, especially  over 30 years.
  And, I do believe that not all  receipeints of welfare [dole] or unemployment are lazy layabouts.
 There are  people who deserve assistance. Especially returning GIs who are dumped on the streets,   disabled, who are willing and able to contribute, work to best of their ability and talents. I know this for a fact from my career at the phone company, the elderly. It is a shame how they are treated. Ignored.
 IMO, our systems need radical reform;  especially the benefits services, get the mentally ill off the streets [thatnks to Reagan, here in California], redirect resources to rebuilding the infrastructure - JOBS.  Re form that tax system so that the rich pay more.
 BTW,  the UK is not the only  country with corrupt or incompetent police forces.  In the US, we have a long and historical reputation. Especially in the South; New Orleans was the worst, at least until Katrina.  Chicago, under  the Daley machine.  NYC  had a long history as well. And even in liberal San Francisco, we have  our problems.
    At least, under the Soviet regimes,  oppressive and controlled as they may have been,  they maintained law and order, for the most part.
 The chaos started after their fall.
  AS  for Nicholas, he was  not listening to the demands for reform. Those  hooligans were motivated by political reasons. Not  simply  useless violence and greed. As I see it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 14, 2011, 05:49:32 PM
Also, I know more than one  kid [well, to me anyone under 30 is a kid]  who  worked his way through  college  at  jobs such Burger King and such.  Mainly in  London, as I do not know many young people in  SF. But it worked for them. He had a work ethic and the  skills needed. One in particular I am very proud of. We met when he was just  16 and now  at 30 he takes well paying jobs and City banks for special trouble shooting projects. He is 31  now or will be  next month. At the same time, he kept his school schedule and passed his A levels. Then into college with no gap year. So those disdained jobs are  worthwhile if one makes them so.  He hated it BTW, but he did it. To this day he will not walk into  Burger King or the others. Even though they supported him through his education. By no means are all kids wasted, are they ?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 15, 2011, 01:13:37 AM
As I pointed out before.  Those "hamburger jobs" can be useful to those with the drive and ambition to take them and use them to their advantage.

Unfortunately, we have given our young people the idea that they don't have to work at jobs that are "beneath them".

I am not sure about the higher taxation of the rich, I might be more in favor of a flat tax that treats everyone more equally and where everyone pays the same rate without the tax loopholes and deductions that we now have and that only those who have the income to own houses or give to charity can take advantage of.

This would hurt me, but I worked doing income tax long enough to know that the rich have ways of getting around the tax laws that the middle class or the poor cannot.  I would like to see Bill Gates and his income level pay their fair share, but I don't believe I am ready for redistribution of wealth.  Those who have the knowledge to earn more should not be punished for it. And those who don't have the knowledge or put in the effort to at least earn something should not be given the wealth of the rich.

That was the thought behind the "earned income tax credit" but it doesn't always work the way it was intended to work.  One had to "earn some income" to get the credit, not just do nothing and get money for free.  The problem is that the charts peak at certain points and there were those clients who knew that and would work only long enough to get to the "peak", quit working, and then get the highest credit allowed.

These people are so smart.  It is too bad they won't put their intelligence to good use instead of using it to take advantage of the system.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 09:22:54 AM
I bow to you, Alixz when it comes to taxes. I have never even handled our own. My partner has taken care of that for all our 41 years together.  Perhaps I do not quite mean  the rich  should pay more quite the way it sounded.  Bill Gates, in fact, give tons of money away through his foundation. He once said he has more than enough and does not need any more so, it goes to various charities and causes all over the world. I think Warren Buffet is much the same, but would not swear by it. Not a few of the mega billionaires do much the same.
 Try and get the over compensated executives  with their outrageous, if not obscene bonuses to do the same. Those are  the ones I want strung up [figuratively] by the heels.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 15, 2011, 09:55:03 AM
At least, under the Soviet regimes,  oppressive and controlled as they may have been,  they maintained law and order, for the most part.
The chaos started after their fall.

Well there's the rub. At what price freedom? "Law and order" 35 years ago were code words in the US for anti-black policies. The German People's desire for "law and order" after the disorder of Weimar Germany ushered in Hitler. The trick is to balance social stability with individual liberty and that can only be done with the rule of law (although even there care must be taken, viz. the infamous Article 58 of the Soviet Penal Code of 1927 "A counter-revolutionary action is any action aimed at overthrowing, undermining or weakening of the power of workers' and peasants' Soviets... and governments of the USSR and Soviet and autonomous republics, or at the undermining or weakening of the external security of the USSR and main economical, political and national achievements of the proletarial revolution."). I'm not one to excuse violent behavior by citing economic deprivation but by the same token to disregard the high level of unemployment among young people, the lack of a possibility of economic advancement and the failings of the educational system is to disregard, if not the cause certainly a contributing factor in what happened in the UK (and potentially in the US as well if things are left to continue as they are now).

Petr

   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 10:15:08 AM
The US has such laws; specifically Article 3 of the  Constitution and more recent and wore Patriot Act shoved through Congress by a fear mongering  president.
 You are right, Petr,  such tactics, if shaky on legal grounds were used  during the Civil Rights movements and  later, the anti-war movement. No one was trying to overthrow the government, at least that I knew of.  Some anarchists  were going no where with their violence but they knew  they  had no chance that way.  We could on all day about this, but I think every country has such laws. The Soviets states were again, not unique in this.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 15, 2011, 12:03:30 PM
In part.....
The US has such laws; specifically Article 3 of the  Constitution and more recent and wore Patriot Act shoved through Congress by a fear mongering  president.

"...fear mongering president" ??????

Mr. Hall,

Have you forgotten,  we are at war with the terrorists.  In less than a month there will be having another memorial  for those who lost their lives on 9/11.  Since then we haven't lost any more lives in another terrible act on our soil, so,  evidently the Patriot Act has been working quite well in the prevention of attacks upon us on our soil.  

To All,
As for all and any laws in our past that have been unjust to individuals -- black, red, brown, white or green--  we are a nation that  can prevent pass mistakes from happening again.  Of course, we will stumble from time to time,  but,  we  seem to push through  mistakes and learn from them with the hope of becoming a better nation.

As for those who are mixing up  Jesus and "socialism" with  Stalin and  "communism",  please check your dictionaries.  

AGRBear





Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 12:20:45 PM
No Bear, I have not forgotten and I do not believe it.  I have never believed that premise . Leave it at that.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 15, 2011, 01:06:39 PM
No Bear, I have not forgotten and I do not believe it.  I have never believed that premise . Leave it at that.

When the USSR was building its stock pile of super weapons,  did you believe they were a threat to the US?

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 15, 2011, 01:07:44 PM
To be a bit glib here, but since the forum is mainly about Russian history, I can't help chuckling at the irony that some of the very same posters who would swiftly condemn Nicholas and Alexandra for ignoring what was happening in 1917, dismissing at as "a hooligan movement" and "just boys and girls making a noise" or the like  - are pretty much doing EXACTLY that here!!

That's a good point, even if I don't quite agree with it. At least it made me laugh. Still, I don't think there's much resemblance between unruly hordes of young people bent on looting and arson and the kind of discipline and organization that went into revolutionary movements in late 19th and early 20th century Russia. I mean, there's the rub. Russian revolutionaries, however much one might deplore their methods and goals, were for the most part very disciplined and self-sacrificing. If they robbed banks, as the young Stalin and his Bolshevik cohorts certainly did in the first decade of the 20th century, it was for the sake of the cause, not for personal enrichment. The money went directly into the party's coffers.

These British kids, on the other hand, were looting for the sake of looting, torching buildings for the sake of it, and in a very haphazard and unsystematic way, on the principle of venting rage and/or having a good time. They looted virtually every store they could find, right on down to a London maternity store, and apparently a lot of them were drinking champagne as they did it (no kidding, in this instance they left their empty bottles strewn amongst all the singed baby clothes). I can't think of a greater contrast with the mostly abstemious Russian revolutionaries of previous centuries -- whether they were Bolsheviks or Socialist Revolutionaries or anarchists or whatever. The point is (I promise I am getting to it), those people had an ideology for which they were fighting, which made them truly dangerous. These British youth have no over-arching ideology and resorted to pure self-interest and thuggishness. Maybe that's the trend of the future. Maybe that's our brave new world. God forbid, because in that case we probably would be better off with the Bolsheviks or the SRs, as much as I hate to say it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 01:22:03 PM
Bear, only in as much as our stockpile threatened them.  I watched a  documentary last night  which  illustrated the  situation when Truman  announced to Stalin his intention of using the new atomic bomb on Japan.  It got Stalin to  declare war and invade Japanese occupied Manchuria  but  most certainly made him him think about the potential threat to his own country. Odd, the cold war started before the hot was was over.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 01:25:39 PM
BTW, Alixz. It is sort of ironic. Warren Buffet came out today in the news announcing the rich should pay MORE !
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 15, 2011, 01:31:13 PM
BTW, Alixz. It is sort of ironic. Warren Buffet came out today in the news announcing the rich should pay MORE !

Apparently the new American rich (to qualify as rich you must have at least 10 million dollars, and even then you're at the low end of the scale) are for the most part liberal, progressive Democrats who are not against paying more taxes and in the meantime give lots of their extra cash to charity. Maybe that's how Obama got elected in the first place, haha!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 15, 2011, 01:33:08 PM
We could on all day about this, but I think every country has such laws. The Soviets states were again, not unique in this.

Well Dear Robert on this point I must point out one thing. Article 58 was the "legal" basis for the purges of '33 and '37 (and thereafter) and was titularly the justification for sending hundreds of thousands of people to the Gulag. You are correct on one point and that is that other countries have had (and may today have) similar laws but they lacked (or lack) any possible restraint on their application. You cannot equate Article 58 with its vague and overly broad provisions with the Patriot Act, for example.  You cite Article 3 of our Constitution and that is good one to cite since it is under Article 3 that the federal Courts are created (an independent co-equal branch of our government), which administer the application of our laws and, because of lifetime appointments, are generally above public passion and governmental interference (unlike in Russia both now and in Soviet times). Further, while I have a few issues regarding the Patriot Act, since its original enactment there have been amendments to try and temper some of its more strident provisions. However, there has been a change in the public's view of law enforcement since 9/11. The classic criminal justice model is to catch perpetrators of crimes and punish them after the fact with a view to deterring such behavior in the future. We also have the presumption of innocence and elaborate procedures to insure fair trials. The problem posed by terrorism is that the public wants to "prevent" the commission of the crime before it happens (an understandable reaction particularly if you raise the issue of possible nuclear terrorism). This requires gathering intelligence and acting before any crime has been committed which conflicts with our basic criminal justice model, hence the need to tread a fine line between two arguably opposite goals.

Petr       
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 01:55:00 PM
No argument from me Petr. I am not trying to justify the abuses of any system, including the Soviets  and the   so called  "Western"  governments.
 Joint pointing out that none are  really unique. It is a stretch, but there was also some vaguely legal justification for  forcing the native Americans off their land  and into reservations which were not much better than Gulags. [in their day]
  I try to take a balanced view, with my own slant, the balance is rather to the left, however. Even at that, the Soviet system was even too conservative  for my tastes.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 15, 2011, 02:05:22 PM
Try and get the over compensated executives  with their outrageous, if not obscene bonuses to do the same. Those are  the ones I want strung up [figuratively] by the heels.

I think I would like to hang them up literally by something that would hurt just a little more.  These obscene bonuses are what are causing the average working man to equate a fairly good salary with poverty level.

And I tend to agree with Bill Gates (I only used him as an example of someone whom everyone knows is filthy rich) and once one gets to a certain level it becomes almost impossible to spend all of the money one makes.  It makes sense to "give it away" and I know that he does.

The odd thing about Microsoft (and I know this has nothing to do with communism) is that they actually have produced a faulty product based on the work of Apple creator Steve Jobs original.  Macs are (according to my IT son) impervious to viruses and Windows is not.  When Microsoft "lifted" the ideas of Jobs (including the mouse) and made it their own, they made a product that is constantly in need of  fix or repair or cleaning.  According to my son, Macs aren't like that.  That is why there is always a feud going on between Mac users and PC users.

Just a side bar to making a fortune.  Make sure that it is always in need of fixing or replacement and never sell the programs outright, only sell the licensing agreements in small batches and you will ensure yourself of a steady stream of income.

But back to communism vs capitalism.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 15, 2011, 02:12:34 PM
No argument from me Petr. I am not trying to justify the abuses of any system, including the Soviets  and the   so called  "Western"  governments.
 Joint pointing out that none are  really unique. It is a stretch, but there was also some vaguely legal justification for  forcing the native Americans off their land  and into reservations which were not much better than Gulags. [in their day]
  I try to take a balanced view, with my own slant, the balance is rather to the left, however. Even at that, the Soviet system was even too conservative  for my tastes.

Generally the difference as I see it is that the American system, like Western systems of government overall, has been capable of change, and has adapted to various historical, social, and political developments as they have taken place over time. I would even go so far as to say that up until relatively recently the overall American like the overall Western European trend in government has been towards greater social justice. Whereas the Soviet system only ever adapted superficially to social demands, to the extent that it adapted at all, which is arguable. And even given certain "deals" it struck with the masses, for example, with NEP or in the aftermath of World War II -- keep in mind that the Soviet regime could always have taken ten giant steps back for every two baby steps it took forward. This is because, while American reform tends to be incremental and lasting, a product of strong political institutions, Soviet reform always tended to be quite abrupt, a shock to the entire society, and notoriously impermanent, because it was the function of the so-called great leader's will -- think Lenin or Stalin (or even to some extent Khrushchev, who to my mind dealt the death blow to the Soviet empire with his 20th Party Congress speech against Stalin).
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 02:34:22 PM
I would almost agree, Elizabeth, however, I would push that up to  Brezhnev.  He started putting the security of the state in question,. his two successors were cypher and Gorbachev created the true nail in the coffin.
 Interesting, but painful scenario, for the whole Soviet  system in several countries. He apparently was  an instrument to rid the hardliners of power not only in Russia, but Bulgaria, East Germany,  Czechoslovakia, etc.  I think Romania had been on the  "s***" list  for a while  so Ceausescu had not support either.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 15, 2011, 02:44:44 PM
I'm curious, Robert, what do you think caused the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and this empire's subsequent break-up? I have heard so many different arguments on one side or the other -- that it was the consequence of political factors (that seems to be the favorite, you're not alone in seeing Gorbachev as the main culprit) or economic factors (this also seems an obvious candidate to me) or social factors (my own personal favorite). Myself, I think it was a function of all three factors, and probably some other factors I'm not even aware of. What are your thoughts, and what are other people's?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 15, 2011, 03:12:30 PM
OK, Fair question. As some of you may know, years ago I had a friendship with a Russian embassy employee and he gave me all the positive views [with a tiny bit of disidence]] From him, I followed the progress or lack thereof of the Soviet Union.  You may notice I generally use Soviet instead of communist in referring to these government as  communism is an economic goal, an ideal,  Soviet was the political structure to get there. The name of the Soviet Union was Union of the Soviet  SocialistRepublics. Not Communists  Republics.
  The Communist Party was  charged to achieve that goal. It never happened, of course.
 So, IMO, it was a failure of the political structure.  Confusing leadership,  with no real direction.  Party unity was shattered. Once that collapsed, the fallacy of the economy was revealed and that finished it off. The only thing that remained of stability was the military, and even that was  loosing discipline to a small extent.
 There was no mass discontent until the leadership collapsed Even that was a surprise to most people. And then it was a free for all with the rape of the country's assets. There was no way of going back.  As I see it, this was a  sort of "revolution" within the Kremlin itself. that caused the collapse. And it was like dominoes falling, was it not ?
 Much like the Imperial Regime-  no unity of purpose,  rivalry  and self interests, incompetent leadership and a false , well, non existant economy.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 15, 2011, 03:14:20 PM
Elizabeth- The most interesting hypothesis I've read is from Hedrick Smith in Lenin's Tomb in which he states that with Glasnost the government lost control over its own history.  Personally I think it was the advent of the computer because no modern economic system can exist without it and the essence of what make a computerized economy work is the free exchange of information.  This is what bedevils the Chinese since it is very hard to confine this informational exchange to purely the economic sphere (witness the "Arab Spring"). In Brezhnev times and later you had to have permission to own a fax machine much less a personal computer. The inability to control the flow of information is what sunk the Soviet Union.

Petr  
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 15, 2011, 03:56:59 PM
Elizabeth- The most interesting hypothesis I've read is from Hedrick Smith in Lenin's Tomb in which he states that with Glasnost the government lost control over its own history.  Personally I think it was the advent of the computer because no modern economic system can exist without it and the essence of what make a computerized economy work is the free exchange of information.  This is what bedevils the Chinese since it is very hard to confine this informational exchange to purely the economic sphere (witness the "Arab Spring"). In Brezhnev times and later you had to have permission to own a fax machine much less a personal computer. The inability to control the flow of information is what sunk the Soviet Union.

Petr  

The communication with cell phones allowed the looters in England to hit places that were vulerable....    I'm sure the early demonstrators were genuine but the police just didn't act soon enough with units large enough to stop it, then it all got out of hand and it blew out of proportion and into what it is, now.  Instead of demonstrators with a cause, now,  the majority are young,  bored and in need of thrills....  Most just didn't or don't  comprehend  at the end of this so-called fun and games a jail cell is waiting.  And, that will served as another reason for those, who never blame themselves for their own troubles,  to blame the police and their superiors and upper society.  Never mind that the places they burned down are where  their neighbors,  cousins and parents worked, and, now, have no work to pay for rent and food for their sisters and brothers.


AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 16, 2011, 05:36:09 PM
Elizabeth- The most interesting hypothesis I've read is from Hedrick Smith in Lenin's Tomb in which he states that with Glasnost the government lost control over its own history.  Personally I think it was the advent of the computer because no modern economic system can exist without it and the essence of what make a computerized economy work is the free exchange of information.  This is what bedevils the Chinese since it is very hard to confine this informational exchange to purely the economic sphere (witness the "Arab Spring"). In Brezhnev times and later you had to have permission to own a fax machine much less a personal computer. The inability to control the flow of information is what sunk the Soviet Union.

Petr

Thanks, Petr, this is exactly what I meant when I said that there were some factors in the SU's downfall that I wasn't aware of. Here I think you are spot on. Because how can any dictatorial, authoritarian regime hope to survive in a world of not merely computers, but also Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Wikileaks? For good or ill, the "social network" of the masses has overtaken the tyrants' network, I guess. Now these dictators have only the International Court of the Hague to look forward to, charges of crimes against humanity and that sort of thing -- many of their recent crimes captured as amateur videos on cell phones, naturally. Because it's true that the Soviet Union restricted information technology to a great degree. I think not only did you need official permission to own a personal computer in the SU, you also needed official permission merely in order to photocopy a document.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 16, 2011, 06:28:16 PM
IMO, we must take this in the context of the times. Personal computers, let alone  mobiles and texting simply were not common  or even existed in those days, for anyone, anywhere.
  They were used for  government purposes [space programmes, military, etc.]  The Soviet Union  began to disintegrate in 1989-1990. None of us had these things as commonly as we do now, East or West.
 Of course the situation is vastly different now.
 In those days, even personal land line telephones were rare. Not because of repression,  it was simply because they did not have the infrastructure to provide them.
 Even in the US [and I should know this but do not remember] we  still had "party lines". Maybe we still do, but it would be  fairly rare by now.
 As always, it is a tricky road to compare then versus now.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 17, 2011, 03:46:38 AM
IMO, we must take this in the context of the times. Personal computers, let alone  mobiles and texting simply were not common  or even existed in those days, for anyone, anywhere.
  They were used for  government purposes [space programmes, military, etc.]  The Soviet Union  began to disintegrate in 1989-1990. None of us had these things as commonly as we do now, East or West.
 Of course the situation is vastly different now.
 In those days, even personal land line telephones were rare. Not because of repression,  it was simply because they did not have the infrastructure to provide them.
 Even in the US [and I should know this but do not remember] we  still had "party lines". Maybe we still do, but it would be  fairly rare by now.
 As always, it is a tricky road to compare then versus now.

However, photocopiers were a standard feature of Western offices and businesses by the mid 1970s, and probably much earlier (I don't know, I was a little kid then). To Westerners of that period it would have seemed preposterous that you would need official permission to photocopy documents, much less have a hard time finding a photocopier for your use, as was certainly the case in the Soviet Union. And that's why I think Petr makes such a good point, because there's no way the SU, which according to you didn't even have enough personal land-line telephones at this late date, could have kept up with the explosion in information technology in the West in the last decades of the 20th century. One of my first jobs as a teenager was in a public library, and I still remember the day in 1982 that we got computers. Mind you, this was just an ordinary public library, not even especially large, in an ordinary American town. Computers were considered very exotic at the time but within the year we couldn't imagine how we had ever gotten along without them. Meanwhile back in the good old SU they didn't even have photocopiers in their public libraries, much less computers, and large numbers of books were still banned...
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 17, 2011, 07:44:02 AM
I'm not sure about photocopiers being routinely available in the west by the mid-1970s. When I was a student in 1978-81 much material was still produced on duplicators, which required a 'stencil' to be typed on special carbon paper, and then put into a machine which daubed it with ink.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 17, 2011, 10:25:04 AM
I know that in 1975, I had to ask for the use of the photocopier at work when I wanted to print directions to something for a huge group of people.  And then the bank, where I worked, was worried about toner and paper.  It was the kind of slippery paper that no young person has ever heard of and it was only used in photocopiers.  The quality of the copy was very bad.

The bank was "on line" and it had only happened sometime in 1970.  That was the beginning of keeping records in an electronic format.  Before that we had to pull a duplicate card for every account that was accessed by the customer or bank and put both the passbook and the card into a machine that updated both.  Also, interest was sometimes not even put on the passbook if someone forgot to check to see if had been posted to the duplicate card.  Interest was calculated by adding machine.

Records in the libraries were still on "fiche" (the bank used that also) and also newspapers  used them as well as those motion sickness creating micro fiche spools.

Fiche containing multiple micro images in a grid pattern equivalent to seven pages of text, and read by a microfilm reader. Also called fiche.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 17, 2011, 10:28:24 AM
As for "party lines" we had them in the 1950s and 1960s, but they went out of style as people could afford to have private lines.  There were a number of phones linked to one phone number and each had a distinctive ring.  You were only supposed to pick up when your ring tone sounded.  However, anyone on the line could pick up and listen to the conversation of anyone else on the line.

Imagine that?  The earliest from of "hacking".
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 17, 2011, 12:34:09 PM
I know that in 1975, I had to ask for the use of the photocopier at work when I wanted to print directions to something for a huge group of people. 

Weeeell, I was actually talking about official permission, i.e., governmental permission, for using a photocopier. Since, as far as I know, only governmental offices had photocopiers in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, and I recall reading that Western scholars who wanted to make photocopies had to jump through various bureaucratic hoops, and go to various out of the way places, in order to do so. You see, the government had to make sure you were not stealing vital information about their bumper crops and record industrial output.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 17, 2011, 01:18:35 PM
Oh, I know what you were saying.  My point was that photocopiers were not as common and not in as many places as they are now.  (Like in my computer room at home)

I remember that there were stores where one could go to pay to have copies made, that was why I wanted to use the one at work.  If they approved, it was free.

I was actually replying to Robert as he was making the point that such electronic conveniences were not as available in the 1970s and 1980s are they are now.

I also remember the "duplicators" and the mimeograph machines of the 1960s.  They still required a stencil with a typewritten text.  What a mess all that daubed on ink made.  It was purple.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 17, 2011, 03:48:58 PM
I was actually replying to Robert as he was making the point that such electronic conveniences were not as available in the 1970s and 1980s are they are now.

Actually if you look at a timeline of the accelerating collapse of the SU it really started in the '80s. I personally think that it was the KGB that started the process (obviously unwittingly) because they had access to the technological revolution that was occurring in the West and realized that without change the SU could never keep up. Remember it was Andropov (former head of the KGB and for a short time the First Secretary of the CPSU) who groomed Gorbachev as his successor. Gorbachev simply picked up the ball and ran with it (i.e., Glasnost) but like Pandora once the box was opened and like the little dutch boy the CPSU/KGB lost control of the torrent of information that began to flood the SU.  As I said earlier they lost control of their own history (no longer could people be declared non-persons like Trotsky) and the reality of the GULAG, which had been suppressed for so long, became widely known to a whole new generation.  It's interesting that old habits die hard and the RF is once again trying to control the flow of information by controlling public media and restricting access to government archives but it's a lot harder now because the channels of communication are becoming much more diverse (viz., social media). It will be interesting to see what happens with the Magnitsky Affair and how high the blame will finally be laid. Whether it's a good thing or not I don't know but in today's NY Times there is an interesting article on how the Government is now increasingly relying on public opinion polling (shades of the White House).

Petr         
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 17, 2011, 07:02:48 PM
I asked my dear friend in St Petersburgh about the photo copiers.  He tells me they we restricted for various reasons.   Government data, like any country. That actually makes sense.  However, those early copiers were not state of the art, so to speak. Supplies were hard to come by, especially the ink needed, and they frequently broke down and servicing was hard to come by.  Just not enough people trained on fixing them. So it was more a matter of conserving resources than censorship. You had to have a valid reason to use them.
 And Alixz, I well remember those messy mimeograph machines. I hated them.  As well as microfiche.  That I did not mind so much, as I had a regular  job  putting the stuff in.
 When IBM came up with their uber-state of the art typewriters, it was a struggle to learn how to use them,  but eventually we got used to them. Basically word processors. Same with computers. Took me a long time to get used to those.
 As a public utility,  the company had to account for every penny of depreciation  when older  systems were replaced with newer ones, Which was quite frequently. No sooner  did you learn one than it was replaced  by a newer one, totally different.  Well,  One time, when those IBMs went, I arranged to have one sent to a school [or something] in  Moscow, I think it was.  Naturally, this had to be approved  by various government agencies on both sides, but off it went. We did not know or forgot that  the electrical system in the USSR was different than ours so I never found out if it was of any use to them. BTW, that was a not all my project, it was a service organisation within the company.  One nominated a candidate to receive something and it went to panels for acceptance. The company and then the governments.  In time, we  did receve a thank you note, hand written, so I guess they had not figured it out yet. That was in the early 1980's I think, Maybe even  a bit before.
 Now, mobile phones are common everywhere. But in the Soviet days,  ANY private phone was rare.  In most cases, huge apartment blocks may have had one or 2 phones for everyone to use., There were also telephone halls in the post offices.  I think most of those are gone now. The last one I was in , on my recent visit, is now a huge restaurant [and a not very good one at that].
  Phones were much the same in  the UK when I first starting coming over in 1977.  BT  was a monoply except in Hull, Yorkshire I am told.  There were long waiting lists for installation and service.  Prices were high and confusing.  As in all countries, privileged classes had no problems, but the average person could not afford them.
 As in the Soviet countries,  people wrote letters. In the days of 2 deliveries a day, one could send out a letter in the morning at it would arrive  that afternoon. Those days are long gone now.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 17, 2011, 07:39:17 PM
I remember those recalcitrant "new" typewriters that were actually word processors.  I thought I would never learn to use one.  I like computers and Word so much better.

I can't imagine using carbon paper and correcting both copies now.  The bank I worked in only required that we correct the original, thank God, not the carbon copy.

Even here in CT, I remember being able to send out a letter by 11PM and have it delivered to another town in the next day's post.  That went bye bye a long time ago along with the time, city, and date stamps on the cancellation of postage stamps.  Now they are all cancelled in the big sorting centers and no one knows where the letter was actually sent from.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 18, 2011, 11:11:47 AM
This perhaps should appear in the "This Day in History" thread but because we seem to range over a wide range of topics regarding all things directly or indirectly communist related I thought I would point out that on August 19th it will be the 20th Anniversary of the attempted communist putsch. In today's Wall Street Journal there is a rather depressing article regarding the fact that hardly anyone mourns the death of the three young men who gave their lives under the infamous underpass of the Moscow Ring Road in resistance to the attemped coup. Even more depressing are the following results of recent polling by Russia's Levada Center: "...49% of Russians believe the country has taken the wrong direction since 1991, compared with to 27% who believe the opposite. Thirty-nine percent say the botched coup by Soviet hardliners that enabled Mr. Yeltsin's dominance over an independent Russia was "a tragic event with disastrous consequences," and 35% dismiss it as part of an ongoing power struggle. Just 10% consider it a democratic victory over Soviet Communist rule...." All of the participants in the coup have been pardoned and the captain who led the armoured column was absolved of the deaths and now holds the rank of lieutenant general. Personally I blame Jeffrey Sachs (then of Harvard and now of Columbia) and his "shock treatment" (which he used with success in Poland but disastrous consequences in Russia which was a totally different situation) and the infamous  "voucher" system of privatising state enterprises cooked up by First Boston which in turn led to the kleptocracy that exists today.

Petr             
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 18, 2011, 01:49:42 PM
There is considerable coverage Bout this anniversary  on BBC news.
 The  poll you cite Petr,  pretty much mirrors the feelings of  my friends in St. Petersburg. They enjoy the materialism  but regret the loss of social security- health, housing, education jobs. And the  crime rates, although coming down, are still way too high. I do not think they necessarily want a return to the old Soviet system, but  do want the security they once had.
 Stalin, by many is still considered a hero for saving Mother Russia from Hitler, forgetting about his ruthless persecutions and purges.  These are  just what friends have said to me, though, not  a general poll of the Russian people.
 Another big problem being swept under the carpet is abandoned children, especially  boys.  I do not know if this was an issue in the Soviet days,  and I am only familiar with St. P. so have no clue as to how wide spread it is.  But there is definitely a  severe lack of social services and support for them. I used to collect colthes and send them over to a small group trying to help these kids, but that was just too costly to make the effort worthwhile. Sending money is not  cost effective either and  sometimes they do not receive it anyway. So now, I  donate when I am there, which seems often enough. Another small group I know sends medicines. How they get away with that I have no idea.
 IMO,  Russia is NOT a 3rd world country. These needs should be met by  their own system, Soviet or otherwise.
 By the same token,  we have the same problems [US & UK] and the same lack of response to them.
 I could go on and on, but  my soapbax is  getting tired of holding me up...
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 18, 2011, 02:31:33 PM
Another big problem being swept under the carpet is abandoned children, especially  boys.  I do not know if this was an issue in the Soviet days,  and I am only familiar with St. P. so have no clue as to how wide spread it is.  But there is definitely a  severe lack of social services and support for them. I used to collect colthes and send them over to a small group trying to help these kids, but that was just too costly to make the effort worthwhile. Sending money is not  cost effective either and  sometimes they do not receive it anyway. So now, I  donate when I am there, which seems often enough. Another small group I know sends medicines. How they get away with that I have no idea.

Robert--I'm on the Bord of the Russian Children's' Welfare Society which is a US 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization originally formed in 1926 to care care of Russian children displaced by  WWI and the Revolution but which since the mid-1990s has focused on children in Russia. Take a look at the website  http://www.rcws.org/ to see the need for helping children at risk. There was a documentary done a few years ago by Hannah Pollack (which we helped bankroll) called  Children of the Leningradsky (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Coa69Ndae_U) which was nominated for an Oscar which dealt with the problem of homeless children focusing on street kids living at the Leningradsky train station in Moscow. By the way, it's not just a problem of homeless children but even children in orphanages, once they reach 17 they are kicked out and because they have been orphans and with no support they are denied the opportunity for higher education. For a number of years we have been running a scholarship program in the Pskov area for kids like this which has been remarkably successful.  We also are in a joint venture with the Kommersant magazine to run a pediatric maxillofacial program as well as other medical programs. The need is there and it is not being met.  Sadly, there is also a dearth of organized charitable giving in Russia (at least by western standards) in part because the tax code doesn't favor charitable donations (remember this point when it comes to tax reform in the US).  When I see these kids it breaks my heart.

Petr
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 18, 2011, 03:07:04 PM
Thank you Petr, very much.
 I will look into  your organisation. I have been looking for a more productive way to assist. As I said, I am familiar only with the problem in St. Petersburgh so that is where I am focused.
 I think I saw the documentary you mention. There was also a report on 60 Minutes some years back.
 The small group I  try to helpconsists of 3 or 4 doctors and  nurses as well as friends  who go to the  "underground" kids. Mostly boys,  and try to treat them for  drug problems, which is a very serious problem as you must know,  provide them  with clean  clothes and decent food. They do  all of this on their own. Absolutely no assistance from the government, which seems to deny the problem exists. It is almost a moveable soup kitchen as they cannot find nor afford a  more permanent location.   No one seems to want to bring the problem to the surface.
 I would be  mistaken if I said I knew this was  happening in the Soviet days- I do not. But, it is a legacy of the collapse, as I see it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 19, 2011, 03:41:12 AM
I will also look into Petr's organisation.

My particular charitable 'interest' is with ex-servicemen, and when I spent a few days in St Petersburg 3 years ago I was shocked to see numerous amputees from Chechnya begging outside churches, in improvised wheelchairs with stumps wrapped in plastic bags. In Britain, thankfully, the medical treatment for injured servicemen is second to none, and we have numerous active military charities. In fact, Help for Heroes, which was set up for casualties from Iraq and Afghanistan, is probably Britain's most 'fashionable' charity at the moment.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 19, 2011, 12:10:14 PM
They are not just from Chechnya, Ann,  many go back as far as Afghanistan. I agree, it is dreadful.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 19, 2011, 02:37:26 PM

Robert--I'm on the Bord of the Russian Children's' Welfare Society which is a US 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization originally formed in 1926 to care care of Russian children displaced by  WWI and the Revolution but which since the mid-1990s has focused on children in Russia. Take a look at the website  http://www.rcws.org/ to see the need for helping children at risk. There was a documentary done a few years ago by Hannah Pollack (which we helped bankroll) called  Children of the Leningradsky (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Coa69Ndae_U) which was nominated for an Oscar which dealt with the problem of homeless children focusing on street kids living at the Leningradsky train station in Moscow. By the way, it's not just a problem of homeless children but even children in orphanages, once they reach 17 they are kicked out and because they have been orphans and with no support they are denied the opportunity for higher education. For a number of years we have been running a scholarship program in the Pskov area for kids like this which has been remarkably successful.  We also are in a joint venture with the Kommersant magazine to run a pediatric maxillofacial program as well as other medical programs. The need is there and it is not being met.  Sadly, there is also a dearth of organized charitable giving in Russia (at least by western standards) in part because the tax code doesn't favor charitable donations (remember this point when it comes to tax reform in the US).  When I see these kids it breaks my heart.

Petr

It breaks my heart too, Petr. This is why I am asking in this thread, why doesn't capitalism work?... And I want to bump up your post because I think it's so important. I didn't know about your organization, up until now I only knew about the social work of Protestant missionaries in Russia, through the journal East-West Church & Ministry Report, not because I'm a practicing Christian but because I have to read this journal for my own work. I know that there is an increasingly ecumenical strand not only among a lot of foreign-based Protestant missions and the Catholic Church but also even in the Russian Orthodox Church, which has finally very recently started to show an interest in offering social services to the poor and homeless. From what I understand, until a few years ago, the ROC truly did not perceive itself to have a role in such a capacity, in total contrast to Western churches, and this in part might account for the number of conversions to evangelical Christianity in Russia since the fall of communism. Say what you like about Western Born Again Christians, many of them, like ordinary Catholics, take social welfare and social justice very seriously, and to judge from EWCMR they are also quite capable of rigorous self-criticism.

There's a relatively new book about homelessness in Russia, Needed by Nobody : Homelessness and Humanness in Post-Socialist Russia by Tova Höjdestrand, Culture and Society after Socialism, Ithaca : Cornell University Press, 2009. The chapters are as follows: "Excrement of the state": the Soviet-Russian production of homelessness -- Refuse economics : getting by with the help of waste -- Perilous places : the use and abuse of space and bodies -- No close ones : about (absent) families and friends -- Friend or foe? The ambiguity of homeless togetherness -- Dirt, degradation, and death.

Okay, so it sounds incredibly depressing, but let's face it, for most Russians the advent of capitalism has been incredibly depressing. And I completely understand why Robert's friends look back with nostalgia on the Soviet period. Not that poverty and homelessness and other social problems didn't exist under communism, they certainly did, and they were far more widespread than official propaganda ever made out, but as far as I know these things are now a fact of everyday life for so many more ordinary Russians. And that's terrible.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 19, 2011, 03:43:56 PM
To be a bit glib here, but since the forum is mainly about Russian history, I can't help chuckling at the irony that some of the very same posters who would swiftly condemn Nicholas and Alexandra for ignoring what was happening in 1917, dismissing at as "a hooligan movement" and "just boys and girls making a noise" or the like  - are pretty much doing EXACTLY that here!!

That's a good point, even if I don't quite agree with it. At least it made me laugh. Still, I don't think there's much resemblance between unruly hordes of young people bent on looting and arson and the kind of discipline and organization that went into revolutionary movements in late 19th and early 20th century Russia. I mean, there's the rub. Russian revolutionaries, however much one might deplore their methods and goals, were for the most part very disciplined and self-sacrificing. If they robbed banks, as the young Stalin and his Bolshevik cohorts certainly did in the first decade of the 20th century, it was for the sake of the cause, not for personal enrichment. The money went directly into the party's coffers.

These British kids, on the other hand, were looting for the sake of looting, torching buildings for the sake of it, and in a very haphazard and unsystematic way, on the principle of venting rage and/or having a good time. They looted virtually every store they could find, right on down to a London maternity store, and apparently a lot of them were drinking champagne as they did it (no kidding, in this instance they left their empty bottles strewn amongst all the singed baby clothes). I can't think of a greater contrast with the mostly abstemious Russian revolutionaries of previous centuries -- whether they were Bolsheviks or Socialist Revolutionaries or anarchists or whatever. The point is (I promise I am getting to it), those people had an ideology for which they were fighting, which made them truly dangerous. These British youth have no over-arching ideology and resorted to pure self-interest and thuggishness. Maybe that's the trend of the future. Maybe that's our brave new world. God forbid, because in that case we probably would be better off with the Bolsheviks or the SRs, as much as I hate to say it.

I know what you mean. But I DO see a resemblance between feral kids who run wild and loot because they have been raised with materialistic aspirations and either see little or none of what is thought desirable coming their way (whereas it seems to come all too easily to the feral rich); OR because they simply feel desperate and destructive, and the people who in 1917 joined the bread marches. Lord, that was a long sentence! I hope it makes sense; I can't think how to split it....
The 1917 marchers were not all idealistic members of revolutionary causes: they were simply people who were desperate and had had enough; yet it was they who brought Nicholas down because he finally was made to realize that he had become a liability to his own cause.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 19, 2011, 04:00:26 PM

 The  poll you cite Petr,  pretty much mirrors the feelings of  my friends in St. Petersburg. They enjoy the materialism  but regret the loss of social security- health, housing, education jobs. And the  crime rates, although coming down, are still way too high. I do not think they necessarily want a return to the old Soviet system, but  do want the security they once had.


This is exactly it, isn't it?
Since 1991 there has been such an extraordinary "we won" smugness in the West about the "victory" achieved over communism that we seem to have lost sight of the real reasons why people mourn it, which has nothing to do with the oppression. Capitalism has been allowed to run wild, and we have all lost - or are losing - so much as a result. Westerners too might have reason to recall communism with nostalgia in the sense that it held the worst aspects of their own system in check by offering an alternative. (This may have been covered before in the thread, even by me, but the thread is long....)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 19, 2011, 04:10:35 PM

I am not sure about the higher taxation of the rich, I might be more in favor of a flat tax that treats everyone more equally and where everyone pays the same rate without the tax loopholes and deductions that we now have and that only those who have the income to own houses or give to charity can take advantage of.

This would hurt me, but I worked doing income tax long enough to know that the rich have ways of getting around the tax laws that the middle class or the poor cannot. 

These people are so smart.  It is too bad they won't put their intelligence to good use instead of using it to take advantage of the system.

Not so much smart as rich enough to afford accountants who can fiddle the system for them. :-) Alas.

What gets me is that these people are treated as honoured citizens instead of as the pariahs they ought to be. It's really come to something when even the Daily Telegraph - a notably conservative paper in the UK - is publishing articles commenting that people like Richard Branson should be stripped of their knighthoods for the threats they make of scurrying off to the nearest tax haven if they have to pay their fair share and contribute to the nations whose resources they use.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 19, 2011, 04:49:41 PM
I  have received yet another massive volume on  Soviet art, it this case, architecture.  COSMIC COMMUNISM by Chaubin, Taschen 2011.
 This  huge  coffee table book on later Soviet public works.  Far different from the Stalinist Gothic we are  used to.
 In it, is a photo essay on  a "delinquent detention camp" in Bogatyr, near the border of Finland. Built on 1985 as a place for young offenders.
 Well, this place, for 1985 looks like   luxury sports camp in the  West.
  Many of the buildings in this book demonstrate that Communism did not fail.  First, it was never achieved. but also,  the system  did it's best to meet the needs of it's population. All societies seem to fail in that goal,  piorities were  a mess,  to all.
  As I have mentioned, years ago when I was in school in D.C., I visited a friend at the Soviet embassy  weekly.   Russia information services, by reciprocal agreement, produce a  glossy magazine  called Soviet Life.  It was state of the art [at that time] but not available in Russia.   The USA, in turn,  produced  a similar magazine, equally state of the art and equally  propaganda and not available in  the US.
 Visiting the embassy, I saw the  US magazine regularly. I remember vividly the  Watts Riots and how they were  covered in that magazine. A pure line of fertilizer.
 Of course this was nonsense, we had all seen this broadcasts on the TV, even the Russians.... fluffed over as a "peaceful demonstarion".  I was raving to my embassy friend  when to told me - calm down, we all do the same thing. From then on, I take almost everything at a distance.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 19, 2011, 05:25:51 PM

  As I have mentioned, years ago when I was in school in D.C., I visited a friend at the Soviet embassy  weekly.   Russia information services, by reciprocal agreement, produce a  glossy magazine  called Soviet Life.  It was state of the art [at that time] but not available in Russia.   The USA, in turn,  produced  a similar magazine, equally state of the art and equally  propaganda and not available in  the US.
 Visiting the embassy, I saw the  US magazine regularly. I remember vividly the  Watts Riots and how they were  covered in that magazine. A pure line of fertilizer.
 Of course this was nonsense, we had all seen this broadcasts on the TV, even the Russians.... fluffed over as a "peaceful demonstarion".  I was raving to my embassy friend  when to told me - calm down, we all do the same thing. From then on, I take almost everything at a distance.

My parents were both babyboomers, raised in Britain in the 1950s with a definite resentment of the U.S. I think they probably felt that they were supposed to feel beholden to what was then a richer society which had avoided the worst ravages of war but was simultaneously supposed to be thanked for its efforts in the war. My mother in particular felt this way; my father was rather more equable, especially as an adult working for an American company, but he certainly didn't see it as perfect. His experience of it was mainly of the mid-West, which I think he found peaceful and a little dull.
Living abroad (in Africa) for my father's job we used to have Time and Newsweek because they were the only papers that arrived regularly. I remember one of these two magazines publishing a picture of New York with litter strewn left right and center, and broken glass abounding, and commenting that it was a pic that had appeared in Pravda as a misrepresentation of the U.S. Now, even my mother was looking at this picture and laughing: "have you seen what the Russians actually think America looks like?!"
Bloody hell - large swathes of America DID look like that - and do! But it says something about the spirit of 1980 that someone who had never been there and was predisposed to find it crass would nevertheless assume that the U.S. had no social problems and these existed only in Soviet propaganda....
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 19, 2011, 05:31:39 PM
I  have received yet another massive volume on  Soviet art, it this case, architecture.  COSMIC COMMUNISM by Chaubin, Taschen 2011.
 This  huge  coffee table book on later Soviet public works.  Far different from the Stalinist Gothic we are  used to.
 In it, is a photo essay on  a "delinquent detention camp" in Bogatyr, near the border of Finland. Built on 1985 as a place for young offenders.
 Well, this place, for 1985 looks like   luxury sports camp in the  West.
  Many of the buildings in this book demonstrate that Communism did not fail.  First, it was never achieved. but also,  the system  did it's best to meet the needs of it's population. All societies seem to fail in that goal,  piorities were  a mess,  to all.
  As I have mentioned, years ago when I was in school in D.C., I visited a friend at the Soviet embassy  weekly.   Russia information services, by reciprocal agreement, produce a  glossy magazine  called Soviet Life.  It was state of the art [at that time] but not available in Russia.   The USA, in turn,  produced  a similar magazine, equally state of the art and equally  propaganda and not available in  the US.
 Visiting the embassy, I saw the  US magazine regularly. I remember vividly the  Watts Riots and how they were  covered in that magazine. A pure line of fertilizer.
 Of course this was nonsense, we had all seen this broadcasts on the TV, even the Russians.... fluffed over as a "peaceful demonstarion".  I was raving to my embassy friend  when to told me - calm down, we all do the same thing. From then on, I take almost everything at a distance.

It may look like a luxury sports camp in the photo, but,   was it actually a place for the Russian officers and the only time a "delinquent" saw it was for the photo shoot.


I remember our bus driver when going through an East Berlin street -- this was just as the Berlin wall was still being torn down--  voiced that the  side of the building we were viewing was meant to be seen by the public, then,  he drove around the backside of the buildings and they were in complete disrepair.... There is a famous painting of Catherine II "the Great" visiting a village and seeing only the good side.   To be fair, I doubt many of our US tour buses travel the streets of our ghettos but they could have if the tourist had wanted to see the good and the bad.  Before the wall fell,  the communists would have stopped our bus, arrested the bus driver and the bus load of people would have been interrogated for hours and hours and hours....

Halls wrote: >>I saw the  US magazine regularly. I remember vividly the  Watts Riots and how they were  covered in that magazine. A pure line of fertilizer.
 Of course this was nonsense, we had all seen this broadcasts on the TV, even the Russians.... fluffed over as a "peaceful demonstarion"<<

I don't recall any magazine making the Watts Riots look like a peaceful demonstration.  Do you remember which one it was?

I remember seeing the "Soviet Life".  All the young Soviet cadets were so polished and look like a group of  "scouts" having a great time.

AGRBear

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 19, 2011, 05:51:27 PM
As I said, Bear, it was the US  equivalent to Soviet Life.It was not available to the US public.
 As far as the delinquent camp, I do not even know where  Bogatry is, except " near the Finland border" I am just going by the   book captions. If they label it   "young offenders" I  go by what they say.  Have you been there ?
 In any case, it does demostrate the freedom of expression made possible to  the artists of that time. No heavy  hammers & cycles, red starts and all that. Very creative.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 19, 2011, 06:16:18 PM

I am not sure about the higher taxation of the rich, I might be more in favor of a flat tax that treats everyone more equally and where everyone pays the same rate without the tax loopholes and deductions that we now have and that only those who have the income to own houses or give to charity can take advantage of.

This would hurt me, but I worked doing income tax long enough to know that the rich have ways of getting around the tax laws that the middle class or the poor cannot. 

These people are so smart.  It is too bad they won't put their intelligence to good use instead of using it to take advantage of the system.

Not so much smart as rich enough to afford accountants who can fiddle the system for them. :-) Alas.

What gets me is that these people are treated as honoured citizens instead of as the pariahs they ought to be. It's really come to something when even the Daily Telegraph - a notably conservative paper in the UK - is publishing articles commenting that people like Richard Branson should be stripped of their knighthoods for the threats they make of scurrying off to the nearest tax haven if they have to pay their fair share and contribute to the nations whose resources they use.

I didn't mean those who work the system, but those who use their intelligence to evade the system.  Those who could probably contribute much to life in general but spend all of their time trying to "beat" the system and get something for nothing.  All of the time spent trying to figure out how to evade the laws (not always by legal means) could be better spent inventing the next big "thing".

These people don't have accountants working for them, I don't mean Bill Gates and Richard Branson.  I mean the petty everyday crooks who could use their intelligence to help others but are only concerned with helping themselves - usually to someone else's money.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 19, 2011, 06:50:49 PM
As I said, Bear, it was the US  equivalent to Soviet Life.It was not available to the US public.
 As far as the delinquent camp, I do not even know where  Bogatry is, except " near the Finland border" I am just going by the   book captions. If they label it   "young offenders" I  go by what they say.  Have you been there ?
 In any case, it does demostrate the freedom of expression made possible to  the artists of that time. No heavy  hammers & cycles, red starts and all that. Very creative.

US govt. propaganda went a long way in those days.

For awhile,  I remember all our movies made the Communists the bad guys and our Americans the good guys.  

We were reminded of the Soviet threat each month when we had our  school drills and told to  hide under our desks  because it was certain that our enemy the  Soviets were going to drop the atom  bomb and and this was what we were suppose to do when it happened....

The news clips in the theaters would show our atom bomb going off under the desert and then show the buildings and dummy people  being blown away like they were match sticks....  They would, also, show the huge Soviet parades with tanks,  soldiers,  planes,  missiles going pass the Soviet leaders....

Only I didn't need all those scare tactic,  because I grew up hearing what had happen to most of my cousins who hadn't been as lucky as my immediate families who had escaped Russia/ USSR.  And,  I absolutely believed the Soviets might drop the bomb on us.... Their Soviet leader was pounding on a table saying they wanted to rule the world...  

 I wasn't dumb enough to think I'd survive sitting under my school desk but if it made my friends feel better,  why not pretend, it certainly didn't do anyone any good to say this drill was stupid or stay awake at night and worry about something a grammar school child couldn't  prevent  from happening.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: feodorovna on August 20, 2011, 06:55:55 AM
In the early 1970s some friends visited Russia. On discovering that there were Brits in her group their guide was proud to tell them that unlike England, which was going through a politically difficult time, in Russia "everybody has job," in Russia "everbody has home," in Russia "old people have respect-live with family," in Russia "nobody sleep in cardboard boxes under bridges." Although my friends felt singled out for a point to be made they knew that these facts were correct-up to a point!!
In 2001 I was lucky enough to visit Russia myself,my time there sadly overshadowed by the tragedy of 9/11. The overwhelmingly powerful memory of the Russian people observing silence on behalf of America still moves me to tears and is something I will never forget. I was amazed to see how the entrepreneurial spirit had taken hold. The square behind the Hermitage was full of young Russians making the most of tourist trade and in that brief timeframe I thought that Glasnost was a wonderful thing-so imagine my shock, after telling this story to a Ukranian woman in her 40s and she responded by telling me that Russia and her people had been better off and happier under STALIN!!! It took several minutes before I could close my mouth!!! and even longer to digest her angry words and then I realized that like the guide in the 1970s, there was some truth in what she believed. Her family had a roof over its' head, her family had regular work and regular pay and providing they did nothing to rock the boat, i.e. question the system, their basic needs were taken care of.
This thread has taught me much and made me hungry to learn more, however I think I may question forever whether Russia actually traded in a caring tyrant for a brutal one.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 20, 2011, 11:56:51 AM

I am not sure about the higher taxation of the rich, I might be more in favor of a flat tax that treats everyone more equally and where everyone pays the same rate without the tax loopholes and deductions that we now have and that only those who have the income to own houses or give to charity can take advantage of.

This would hurt me, but I worked doing income tax long enough to know that the rich have ways of getting around the tax laws that the middle class or the poor cannot.  

These people are so smart.  It is too bad they won't put their intelligence to good use instead of using it to take advantage of the system.


Not so much smart as rich enough to afford accountants who can fiddle the system for them. :-) Alas.

What gets me is that these people are treated as honoured citizens instead of as the pariahs they ought to be. It's really come to something when even the Daily Telegraph - a notably conservative paper in the UK - is publishing articles commenting that people like Richard Branson should be stripped of their knighthoods for the threats they make of scurrying off to the nearest tax haven if they have to pay their fair share and contribute to the nations whose resources they use.

We, the majority of upper middle class to the very very rich  (with some acceptions)   have gone to school, studied hard,   paid off our school loans, borrowed more money  to start our businesses, practice honesty and fairness,   earn every cent we have,  hire your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and maybe, you, whom we pay a decent wage, which includes a health program for each person and their families.   In order to keep with the tax laws we hire accountants.   In turn,  we pay every cent we owe which in turn pays for your schools,  roads, bridges,  government programs.....  If we don't,  we can go to jail.  Instead of being the good guys,  you've labeled all of us, the good guys and  the bad guys,  the "pariahs".   Let me tell you what is not fair, it is when  a pimple faced misguided youths  breaks our windows and burns down our business because he or she thinks we're all the bad guys, the "pariahs",  their enemies.    And, where did these misguided youths get the idea we are the enemy?  From people who fail to understand that most people who are richer than you are not the enemy, and, it is true, some rich, as well as some of poorest of the poor people,  are liars and cheats.

The Bolsheviks did not use the word "pariahs" but called their enemies (the Tsar on down to the shop owner)  "insects", which was lower than a fish or even a snail.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 20, 2011, 02:09:39 PM

I am not sure about the higher taxation of the rich, I might be more in favor of a flat tax that treats everyone more equally and where everyone pays the same rate without the tax loopholes and deductions that we now have and that only those who have the income to own houses or give to charity can take advantage of.

This would hurt me, but I worked doing income tax long enough to know that the rich have ways of getting around the tax laws that the middle class or the poor cannot.  

These people are so smart.  It is too bad they won't put their intelligence to good use instead of using it to take advantage of the system.


Not so much smart as rich enough to afford accountants who can fiddle the system for them. :-) Alas.

What gets me is that these people are treated as honoured citizens instead of as the pariahs they ought to be. It's really come to something when even the Daily Telegraph - a notably conservative paper in the UK - is publishing articles commenting that people like Richard Branson should be stripped of their knighthoods for the threats they make of scurrying off to the nearest tax haven if they have to pay their fair share and contribute to the nations whose resources they use.

We, the majority of upper middle class to the very very rich  (with some acceptions)   have gone to school, studied hard,   paid off our school loans, borrowed more money  to start our businesses, practice honesty and fairness,   earn every cent we have,  hire your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and maybe, you, whom we pay a decent wage, which includes a health program for each person and their families.   In order to keep with the tax laws we hire accountants.   In turn,  we pay every cent we owe which in turn pays for your schools,  roads, bridges,  government programs.....  If we don't,  we can go to jail.  Instead of being the good guys,  you've labeled all of us, the good guys and  the bad guys,  the "pariahs".   Let me tell you what is not fair, it is when  a pimple faced misguided youths  breaks our windows and burns down our business because he or she thinks we're all the bad guys, the "pariahs",  their enemies.    And, where did these misguided youths get the idea we are the enemy?  From people who fail to understand that most people who are richer than you are not the enemy, and, it is true, some rich, as well as some of poorest of the poor people,  are liars and cheats.

The Bolsheviks did not use the word "pariahs" but called their enemies (the Tsar on down to the shop owner)  "insects", which was lower than a fish or even a snail.

AGRBear

Sorry, I don't follow at all. Who are "we" and who are "you"? I made a post about the fact that Richard Branson - a man who grew up healthy and strong courtesy of the National health service in the post-war era, received a free education courtesy of the average British taxpayer of the 1960s, went on to make a fortune in business, providing services for which I and others pay a considerable amount of money which we have earned by putting our own excellent education at the service of society, is threatening to move to a tax haven precisely in order to avoid his own civic responsibilities.

Perhaps now you can explain exactly what you are charging me with?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 20, 2011, 03:32:21 PM

We, the majority of upper middle class to the very very rich  (with some acceptions)   have gone to school, studied hard,   paid off our school loans, borrowed more money  to start our businesses, practice honesty and fairness,   earn every cent we have,  hire your fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and maybe, you, whom we pay a decent wage, which includes a health program for each person and their families.   In order to keep with the tax laws we hire accountants.   In turn,  we pay every cent we owe which in turn pays for your schools,  roads, bridges,  government programs.....  If we don't,  we can go to jail.  Instead of being the good guys,  you've labeled all of us, the good guys and  the bad guys,  the "pariahs".   Let me tell you what is not fair, it is when  a pimple faced misguided youths  breaks our windows and burns down our business because he or she thinks we're all the bad guys, the "pariahs",  their enemies.    And, where did these misguided youths get the idea we are the enemy?  From people who fail to understand that most people who are richer than you are not the enemy, and, it is true, some rich, as well as some of poorest of the poor people,  are liars and cheats.

The Bolsheviks did not use the word "pariahs" but called their enemies (the Tsar on down to the shop owner)  "insects", which was lower than a fish or even a snail.

AGRBear

Sorry, I don't follow at all. Who are "we" and who are "you"? I made a post about the fact that Richard Branson - a man who grew up healthy and strong courtesy of the National health service in the post-war era, received a free education courtesy of the average British taxpayer of the 1960s, went on to make a fortune in business, providing services for which I and others pay a considerable amount of money which we have earned by putting our own excellent education at the service of society, is threatening to move to a tax haven precisely in order to avoid his own civic responsibilities.

Perhaps now you can explain exactly what you are charging me with?

I agree with you, Janet. I don't actually know where (much less why) young people who come from disadvantaged homes in Britain and the United States are expected to get a sense of civic pride and responsibility when multi-billionaires like Richard Branson are moving most of their huge fortunes into tax havens, instead of investing it in their native countries' infrastructure and people. By the way, the same situation obtains in Russia, where the mega-rich as well as the mini-rich and merely the middle class are sending most of their money abroad -- in the case of the middle class, investing their savings (even now, in the midst of a major recession) in real estate in places like Bulgaria, a country which traditionally had an alliance with Russia and is happy to accept the new Russian emigrants, just as it was happy to accept Russian emigrants after the October Revolution of 1917. But at least in contemporary Russia there's a practical motive, as opposed to merely a greedy one, in so far as most Russians don't expect the current Russian government, whether under Putin or Medvedev or some other sorry schmuck, to last. Quite simply, they aren't going to make the mistake of their forebears, who in a burst of patriotism at the outbreak of World War I repatriated most of their assets to Russia. And consequently lost everything after the October Revolution, leaving them pathetic ghosts of themselves, literally beggars, not only in the Soviet Union but also in the Russian emigration in places like Europe and the United States.

I completely forgive the early 21st-century Russian middle class for relocating its assets to other countries, as a measure of personal (and familial!) financial security. I can even understand, if not condone, why Russian billionaires and millionaires have been busy for the last couple of decades squirreling away funds and properties in the West. What I can't forgive or condone is state officials, even potentates like Putin, doing the same thing, or for that matter Western millionaires like Branson relocating their fortunes away from their native countries and to tax havens. So much for civic pride and civil society and all the rest of it -- so much for patriotism. I mean, where have all these things gone? And where is these people's sense of social justice? Or do they see our entire international economic system as on the edge of a precipice? Exactly what kind of message are they sending to all of us ordinary hod carriers?

It makes you wonder, why they can't all be like Bill Gates, who to my mind belongs to the old school of robber barons -- steal from the wealthy, then establish colleges, museums, and libraries for the common wo/man in order to mitigate if not absolve entirely your sins.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 20, 2011, 03:42:26 PM
Elizabeth, forgive my ignorance here, but where to you find Putin expating his  gathered assets ?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 20, 2011, 03:59:25 PM
Elizabeth, forgive my ignorance here, but where to you find Putin expating his  gathered assets ?

Granted, it's "just" a rumor, but it's a pretty believable rumor. Putin is an intelligent, able man, also a political pragmatist and cynic, so obviously also not one to get all hung up on moral scruples (unlike, say, Nicholas II): e.g., during his leisure time he likes to hang out with the likes of Tony Blair and all the other hot-shots in European politics, especially the infinitely wealthy and infinitely corrupt Berlusconi (as the story goes, after viewing for the first time Berlusconi's estate in Italy, Tony Blair said to him: "what do I have to do to get a place like this?"). At this historical juncture Putin would be an absolute idiot of an authoritarian Russian ruler if he were not ensuring his future by salting away funds in some Swiss bank account. Well, what can you say, he's accustomed to the lifestyle, and that lifestyle might end very abruptly some day... Look at it like this, Putin's "subjects" -- the Russian upper and middle classes -- are sending their funds abroad, you don't think he's busy doing it as well?
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 20, 2011, 06:15:54 PM
This may all be assumable, I suppose. But equally, by rumor, I hear that he keeps his gains in Russia, and they are definitely substantial,  in the mega ventures  he gets support from.  In anycase, I like the guy and think he is good for Russia. Espcially considering some of the alternatives.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 20, 2011, 11:44:07 PM
I remember when Bjorn Borg began to make big money, the first thing he did was to hire a tax expert who had him become a citizen of Monaco.  Monaco has no (or at that time) had no income tax.

I know that heads of state aren't going to be trading citizenship to a country where income tax doesn't exist, but most do have their Swiss accounts.  Look at Egypt's last and not so great president Hosni Mubarak.  He had a lot of money in accounts outside of Egypt.

I received an email from a friend today who is working to get the US Congress to live like the rest of us.  No more voting their own salary increases and then making them 2 years retroactive.  No more separate health care system and no more pension plan not based on social security.  They would have to live just like the rest of us.  I hope this group succeeds.  I know how hard it will be to get congress to vote on something that takes away their perks, but I was outraged when CT Senator Chris Dodd talked about his cancer surgery knowing that he was fully covered for everything he needed while the rest of us suffer with co-payments and payroll deductions.

Last year my husband suffered a heart attack and just one test cost us almost $2000 out of pocket because of the convoluted health care system that his employer provides and lets us pay for with pay roll deductions.  No congressman would ever have to pay anything at all for health care and that is just wrong.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 21, 2011, 01:45:02 AM
This may all be assumable, I suppose. But equally, by rumor, I hear that he keeps his gains in Russia, and they are definitely substantial,  in the mega ventures  he gets support from.  In anycase, I like the guy and think he is good for Russia. Espcially considering some of the alternatives.

I'm not saying that I think Putin was all together bad for Russia, he was no doubt the lesser of many evils when he first came to power under the aegis of Boris Yeltsin. Well, after all -- imagine some communist or fascist ideologue in Putin's place. That would have been far worse. And let's face it, Russia since 1917 has been the European country where the worst things happen all the time, kind of like Murphy's Law written large. So no, even though Putin always scares the West with images of rising fascism and resurgent communism in order to keep his political image and power intact abroad as well as at home, nevertheless, fascism, if not communism, is in my opinion still a realistic fear in contemporary Russia. In the last few years there have been a lot of comparisons made not only in the popular press but also among Slavists who see parallels between Weimar Germany before the advent of Hitler, and Putin's Russia, before the advent of... big question mark.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 21, 2011, 04:17:08 AM
I remember when Bjorn Borg began to make big money, the first thing he did was to hire a tax expert who had him become a citizen of Monaco.  Monaco has no (or at that time) had no income tax.

One of individuals who the current British government regards as a role model for society is a man who owns a whole chain of clothing stores - for which he has been knighted. His businesses are registered in his wife's name in Monaco. On investigation, his supply chain was found to include sweat shops. What he pays his sales staff I don't know, but this is a notoriously badly paid line of work, and I imagine many are reliant on benefits to make ends meet. Health insurance isn't an issue, of course, because he can rely on the National Health Service to look after them, both this and the benefits being paid for those "spotty faced youths" and other such ungrateful low-life scum (irony here!) who are not able to avoid paying their own taxes.

I received an email from a friend today who is working to get the US Congress to live like the rest of us.  No more voting their own salary increases and then making them 2 years retroactive.  No more separate health care system and no more pension plan not based on social security.  They would have to live just like the rest of us.  I hope this group succeeds.  I know how hard it will be to get congress to vote on something that takes away their perks, but I was outraged when CT Senator Chris Dodd talked about his cancer surgery knowing that he was fully covered for everything he needed while the rest of us suffer with co-payments and payroll deductions.

Last year my husband suffered a heart attack and just one test cost us almost $2000 out of pocket because of the convoluted health care system that his employer provides and lets us pay for with pay roll deductions.  No congressman would ever have to pay anything at all for health care and that is just wrong.

This is appalling, and has familiar elements, inasmuch as the UK government is attempting to force public sector staff to give up their final salary pensions (average payment: 4K a year, in the Civil Service scheme at least) - while furiously resisting any talk of changing their own far more generous MP's scheme.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 21, 2011, 05:14:29 AM
However, I should add that in my view the answer to unequal terms and conditions is to try to uprate everybody's as far as possible - not to take decent terms away from those who DO have them. This is the recipe for what Marx described as "a race to the bottom." (to stay on-topic here...)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 21, 2011, 06:53:29 AM
In Britain, if you are an employee, income tax and National Insurance are deducted from your pay by your employer before you get it, and there is no scope for avoiding tax.

If you are classed as 'self employed', then you send HM Revenue and Customs a tax return and set of accounts every year, and they send you a bill. There are plenty of allowances and things that can be set against your income for the year so as to minimise the tax you pay. A friend who runs his own business tells me that he organises his accounts to stay just out of the 40% tax bracket (about £43,000pa). To be fair, HMRC due audit a proportion of accounts every year, and if they do decide that your accounts are fraudulent they can hammer you for years of back tax plus interest and penalties.

Obviously, the larger the business, and the less direct financial pressure you are under, the more opportunity you have to shift assets to places like  Monaco.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 21, 2011, 10:22:53 AM
I think that Janet was saying that a British citizen who owns a large chain of clothing stores is using Monaco as a tax shelter.  He has even been knighted for doing this.

This is a Brit who is taking advantage of the system and being praised for it!

In the US and everywhere, I do believe that we should try to move up and not to the bottom of the health care problem, but with congress in charge of their own income and the ability to give themselves what they want, I think it would be a good thing for them to have to live like the rest of for while.  I don't know of any middle class worker who gets to increase his own wages by 50% and then make that retroactive for two years as congress has done.  That alone should be considered at crime and every member who voted for it or took advantage of it should be punished by jail time.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Kalafrana on August 21, 2011, 01:19:05 PM
 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

'I think that Janet was saying that a British citizen who owns a large chain of clothing stores is using Monaco as a tax shelter.  He has even been knighted for doing this.

'This is a Brit who is taking advantage of the system and being praised for it!'

Precisely. I was simply trying to explain the basics of the British tax system for non-Brits.

There is also a leading light of the Conservative Party with extensive business interests in Belize. He was given a peerage a few years ago on the understanding that he would in future be taxed as a British resident, but his tax affairs remained highly questionable.

Ann
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 21, 2011, 03:11:14 PM
I think that Janet was saying that a British citizen who owns a large chain of clothing stores is using Monaco as a tax shelter.  He has even been knighted for doing this.

This is a Brit who is taking advantage of the system and being praised for it!

In the US and everywhere, I do believe that we should try to move up and not to the bottom of the health care problem, but with congress in charge of their own income and the ability to give themselves what they want, I think it would be a good thing for them to have to live like the rest of for while.  I don't know of any middle class worker who gets to increase his own wages by 50% and then make that retroactive for two years as congress has done.  That alone should be considered at crime and every member who voted for it or took advantage of it should be punished by jail time.

Yes, congressional Republicans and Democrats are alike in their willingness to play the system for their own benefit. I don't think anyone in congress voting themselves salary increases would ever get a jail sentence, however. They would only -- "only" -- earn public opprobrium. Of course, public opprobrium used to count for something, but I guess it doesn't any longer. After all, the vast majority of Americans disapprove of the job that our congress is doing. You would think our governmental representatives, whatever their official political affiliations, would care about that, but apparently they don't. Not one fig. They just continue on their merry way, driving the country ever deeper into a ditch -- Republicans, insisting that the government mustn't raise taxes, and Democrats, insisting that entitlements mustn't be cut. Yeah, okay, but either way you dice it, our two parties are not compromising and the national deficit grows not only by every hour but also by every single minute.

Shades of 18th-century France on the verge of revolution. Remember poor Marie Antoinette, known in the popular culture of the time as "Madame Déficit"? Because supposedly her spending on clothes and jewelry sank the French economy, whereas in fact it was the financial support that the French had lent the American revolutionaries (against the traditional Gallic foe, Britain) that was mainly responsible for this. MA suffered the guillotine for this particular, popular misconception. But I wonder how much better informed are we now? To what extent are we being fed some kind of "party line," a line devised for the supposedly stupid masses, not only by our fatally disputatious congress, but also by our corporate-run media? Frankly, why can't we cut military spending down to the bone? What possible use is served by the military if we plan to withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan in the near future? Of course, even doing away with most of the military excesses would only eliminate a certain percentage of spending. The fact of the matter is, even with massive cuts to the military, entitlements of various kinds would also have to be cut, and taxes raised. It's the bitter truth, and one which nobody in public service seems to want to accept, much less promote to the American people as the only possible solution to our current fiscal nightmare.

As far as I'm concerned almost all of our so-called political leaders are political cowards these days.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 21, 2011, 03:51:54 PM
I share your view, Elizabeth, regarding US politicians.
 I have a slightly less hostile view of  the British,  but not by much. At least they have home seat surgeries that they attend. More than I can say about the ones in California in SF, at least.
   Anyway, I was reading this morning that Kim Jong-il is taking his private train to Russia for talks with Putin, Medvedev and surely the Chinese about building a Gasprom  pipeline to SOUTH Korea  ! What a  mix and a potentially dangerous situation-   the North being able to control the South without military threat.  Think about it- former Communist regime , a reformed communist regime and an orthodox communist regime working to benefit not only them, but a  blatantly capitalist regime. Would have happenexd during the Cold War for sure.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 21, 2011, 08:06:02 PM


Not so much smart as rich enough to afford accountants who can fiddle the system for them. :-) Alas.

What gets me is that these people are treated as honoured citizens instead of as the pariahs they ought to be. It's really come to something when even the Daily Telegraph - a notably conservative paper in the UK - is publishing articles commenting that people like Richard Branson should be stripped of their knighthoods for the threats they make of scurrying off to the nearest tax haven if they have to pay their fair share and contribute to the nations whose resources they use.


Evidently,   you were confining your attack to just Richard Branson and others like him?  You did not mean that all the rich people were "pariahs".  My mistake.

My comment was and is directed toward people who believe all the rich are the "bad guys".

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 21, 2011, 08:16:36 PM
I share your view, Elizabeth, regarding US politicians.
 I have a slightly less hostile view of  the British,  but not by much. At least they have home seat surgeries that they attend. More than I can say about the ones in California in SF, at least.
   Anyway, I was reading this morning that Kim Jong-il is taking his private train to Russia for talks with Putin, Medvedev and surely the Chinese about building a Gasprom  pipeline to SOUTH Korea  ! What a  mix and a potentially dangerous situation-   the North being able to control the South without military threat.  Think about it- former Communist regime , a reformed communist regime and an orthodox communist regime working to benefit not only them, but a  blatantly capitalist regime. Would have happenexd during the Cold War for sure.

California politics has been terrible for some time.  Even so,  I'd never suggest anyone turning to communism.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 22, 2011, 12:45:10 PM
I think this is a very interesting discussion which, when focused on our current economic situation, has interesting parallels with Russia in the thirty years before the Revolution (to bring the discussion back to the thread). In fact, it is biblical in a certain sense (remember the parable of the rich man and the eye of the needle). The problem as articulated by Marx is the issue of those who labor versus those who risk capital. As viewed by Marx, in a purely capitalist system the willingness to risk capital is favored versus the efforts of those who labor.  What I see argued in some of the posts is a disguised desire to redistribute accumulated wealth principally by means of a progressive tax. But there is another argument with equal validity that says it is fundamentally unfair for top earners --250,000 people who earn $1,000,000 or more pay 20% of all income taxes and the 3% who earn more than $200,000 pay almost half, with almost half of all filers paying no income taxes at all. Without the willingness to risk capital there are no jobs. One might argue that this favors a socialist/communist economic system where capital is accumulated, held and dispensed by the state. But all such systems unfortunately result in, at best, an inefficient misallocation of resources or an abuse of governmental power at worst. The goal of a pluralistic capitalist society should be to give the widest group of people the opportunity to accumulate capital but this requires education, self-reliance and a favorable investment climate (low taxes with a favorable regulatory regime). Interestingly, the idea of universal home ownership is a facet of this policy. However, there has to be some balance, for example, not everyone necessarily has the wherewithal or the qualifications to purchase a house and when you adopt policies which disregard this fact you will wind up with a problem (viz., the subprime mortgage mess which is at heart the cause of our current problem). Likewise, you must have a regulatory system to provide an even playing field to limit unfair advantage and a social safety net (including a good public education system) to provide an opportunity for the largest number of people to become productive members of society and thereby permit growth (i.e., the result of an accumulation and investment of capital) to occur.  The fact is that despite the universal desire to get something for nothing, there is no such thing as an "entitlement" or as the Chinese say  'there is no such thing as an iron rice bowl", particularly in a globalized economy when the lowest cost producer has an economic advantage (again classical economic theory, cf. Riccardo). After all, that is the classic criticism of a monarchical/aristocratic/dictatorial regime, i.e., that a select group of people are "entitled" to benefits merely through the accident of birth, position or status.  But as Ross Perot once said the devil is in the details. On balance it is always better to raise the level in the bath tub than to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic (to mix some metaphors).

By the way, as Judge Learned Hand, an eminent US Jurist once noted, while it is illegal not to pay taxes, it is not illegal or immoral to use legal means to minimize your taxes or to put it another way no one should be obligated to pay the highest possible taxes if they can be legally avoided. The problem with any system of taxation is when a majority of the people begin to believe that their taxes are ill spent then the whole system is called into question (cf., an interesting column in today's Wall Street Journal   by Harvey Golub, former chairman and CEO of American Express rebutting Warren Buffet and President Obama) and, in my view, when it becomes a instrument of social policy rather than a way to raise revenues.

Finally, in response to the question of whether Putin has squirreled away any assets there were rumors floating around a while ago that he is a hidden (and largest) shareholder of Gasprom through a Swiss holding company.

Petr

             
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 22, 2011, 01:23:23 PM
I had read that private home ownership is encouraged to engage the populace into believing that they have a stake in the political and economic situations that occur around them and to give them something to feel they need to protect.  Therefore they will not buck the current policies and/or economic conditions for fear of losing their investment and also their place to live.

If one rents, then one has no personal connection to the place where they live or the job they hold or the political climate in that area.  It is so much easier to leave a job and living area if one does not also use that job as a way to hang on to the private home they own in that area.

There is no commitment to the laws or the conditions that support or don't support the area if there is no personal involvement in home ownership. Renting is temporary and if one doesn't like the situation in a specific area, if one rents, then one is freer to pick up and leave.

Once one owns property, then one becomes more interested in the taxation and the rate of taxation and just what those collected taxes will provide.  One needs to worry more about fire protection and police protection if one owns a home.  One worries more about the condition of the neighborhood and is less likely to pick up and move to another neighborhood if property values drop.

Home ownership, though often touted as "The American Dream" is the government's way of controlling a population and preventing it from nomadic wandering or leaving the country all together.  Home ownership provides a stable base for the income needed to run the government of towns and states as well as federal governments.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 22, 2011, 02:04:55 PM
All true and reflects the difference between an individual owning property versus renting it. As social policy it's not bad so long as that policy is enforced in a reasonable balanced way. Again, when people feel they are "entitled" to own property regardless of the circumstances that is when the policy begins to go off the tracks.  By the way, there have been some very good attempts to bridge the economic gap to enable people to own their own homes, for example the sweat equity program in Baltimore where people acquired homes that the City had foreclosed on for $1 but were required to renovate them ("sweat equity").  Those homes were in disadvantaged neighborhoods and were falling apart.  As you point out the program gave people a stake in the neighborhood, stabilized it and brought those homes back on the tax roles.    This contrasts with the no income, no documentation, no down payment, adjustable rate balloon payment subprime mortgages which were basically give aways and resulted in the opposite.


Petr         
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 22, 2011, 02:35:19 PM
I think this is a very interesting discussion which, when focused on our current economic situation, has interesting parallels with Russia in the thirty years before the Revolution (to bring the discussion back to the thread). In fact, it is biblical in a certain sense (remember the parable of the rich man and the eye of the needle). The problem as articulated by Marx is the issue of those who labor versus those who risk capital. As viewed by Marx, in a purely capitalist system the willingness to risk capital is favored versus the efforts of those who labor.  What I see argued in some of the posts is a disguised desire to redistribute accumulated wealth principally by means of a progressive tax.

What I see in late imperial Russia is a relatively new and still relatively small middle class slowly but surely gaining ground both in numbers and wealth. And if this situation had been allowed to develop further, by some miracle of history, then Russia might still have had a February Revolution, but it probably would never have had an October one. The problem in early 20th-century Russia was precisely that the middle class was still so minuscule in comparison to the rest of the population, which was as we all know largely peasant, land hungry, and illiterate, i.e., a politically highly unstable, even volatile element.

And I see it, the problem in the United States roughly a century later is somewhat similar, in that one of the greatest sources of political stability in our country, our middle class, is noticeably shrinking. Small numbers are moving into the class of the wealthy (10 million or more dollars to burn, what is called "FU money" because basically if you have this amount nobody but the IRS can touch you!). Much larger numbers are moving into pink collar and working class jobs, still others because of the recession are frankly descending into poverty (whether they're still working or unemployed). As far as I am concerned a shrinking middle class is a recipe for disaster in a democracy. Increasing disparities in wealth, combined with this culture's overriding concern with "success" as measured in completely materialistic terms (and all our reality TV shows that flaunt wealth and practically shove it in our middle and working class faces), mean that we are breeding a generation or even several generations of malcontents who will only cause major social disruption in the future. Alixz is right about the government's concern for all its citizens to become proper middle-class property owners, because it is the property-owning middle class which has sustained this nation into the 21st century. (Of course, without the GI Bill, and Social Security, and all the other social welfare measures of FDR and his successors in the 20th century, our middle class would be considerably less sizable than it is even today, as it gradually erodes.)

But there is another argument with equal validity that says it is fundamentally unfair for top earners --250,000 people who earn $1,000,000 or more pay 20% of all income taxes and the 3% who earn more than $200,000 pay almost half, with almost half of all filers paying no income taxes at all. Without the willingness to risk capital there are no jobs. One might argue that this favors a socialist/communist economic system where capital is accumulated, held and dispensed by the state. But all such systems unfortunately result in, at best, an inefficient misallocation of resources or an abuse of governmental power at worst.

It might very well be unfair to tax the wealthiest at a higher rate than the poorest, but life is unfair, isn't it? Not to mention the fact that the wealthy can afford very expensive, superbly skilled tax lawyers and accountants to get them out of paying most of their taxes, whereas the middle classes either have to rely on a calculator and their own brains (and it does take considerable brains to wade through our convoluted tax system), or else go to some impersonal fast-tax place like H&R Block.

I  don't think the Scandinavian countries (with the exception of Iceland) are doing too badly with their system of high taxes and large social welfare program/safety net. In fact, they're doing a sight better than the good old United States, which is wallowing in debt and just got its credit rating downgraded.

And how about higher taxes for our wealthier citizens not because we want to "redistribute wealth" like a bunch of Bolsheviks (although here's a reminder: the Bolsheviks didn't bother with higher taxes, remember, communists are not the same as socialists since communists confiscate capital by force as they nationalize banks and industry by force), but because we want to pay off our national debt as quickly as possible? How's that for a concept? And a legacy for our grandchildren and their children?

Moreover, there's also no empirical evidence to support the claim that lower taxes create more jobs. I know this because I saw an intense discussion of this very same topic on the Bill Maher show last June, haha.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on August 22, 2011, 02:44:37 PM
Oh, and I forgot to add, it is so nice and refreshing and, frankly, fun, to check in here at this thread when I finally get the chance during a long and hectic day, because I always know that I'll be rewarded with several new and interesting posts to ponder over. Thanks to Petr and Alixz and Robert and Janet and Kalafrena and everybody else who's contributed here! Sometimes all of you do make my day!

P.S. Petr, don't you think that the big subprime mortgage mess would have been avoided with stronger regulation? You seem to be hinting as much, but I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 22, 2011, 08:34:47 PM
Elizabeth, I worked for H&R Block for over 15 years.  I know that from the outside the company is seen as the "fast food" of income tax providers, but I can tell you from experience that I corrected many a return prepared by others including tax attorneys.

Many people would bring in their already prepared return to file it electronically (in the old old days) and to do that we had to actually "redo" the whole return to put it into our system.  One of the biggest errors I caught was on a return done by an attorney for a woman who, with her two siblings, had inherited a house from their deceased mother.  The attorney had told the woman that all she could take for a capital gains deduction was $3000.  While that is normally true, in this case the inherited house had been rented out while the three siblings were waiting for the estate to be settled.  Because the property had been converted from personal use inherited property to business use (rental) property, there is no limit to the amount of capital gains deduction that can be taken when the property is sold.  This made quite a difference in the amount of capital gains deduction that she was allowed.  The funny thing is that she didn't believe me, because of the "fast food" mentality and refused to let me make the corrections.  She took the return as it was originally and never came back.

Another error was in the calculation of how much of last year's state income tax Schedule A deduction can be recaptured on this year's tax return.  There is a fairly complicated computation to determine what needs to be recaptured if any at all.  In most cases none at all is recaptured.  Another client who had had their return done by someone else and brought it in for electronic filing.  I put it in the system and found out that not all of the Schedule A deduction of state taxes paid in the year before was still considered taxable in the current year and made the correction.  This, too, gave them a bigger refund than they had originally been told they would get.  They called the other tax preparation office to register a complaint and ask for a refund or the preparation fee and the other tax service had no idea that the recapture calculation even existed.

The third example (and I promise not to go on and on all though I could) is that people tend to think that the state tax forms are easier to do and they will do them first.  Federal tax returns should always be done first because some of the things on the  Federal Return effect the state return.  I have a good friend who used to do this because she could get her state refund faster and figured that she would do the more complicated Federal Return later. So much later that I had to file three years of over due returns for her and amend all three years of the state filings because they were wrong.

I had to take classes every years to re qualify to work.  And then I had to take the tax law change classes when congress got around to finalizing the laws for the current tax years.  I am not working there anymore, but I do know that last year, congress was so slow that some forms including the Schedule A and the schedules that apply to student loans and interest couldn't even be learned about or filed until after February 15th!

So I get a little huffy when people say that the average citizen has to do the work with a calculator and their own brains or go to an "impersonal fast tax place like H&R Block".  I knew my clients well.  I have always thought that being a tax preparer was like being a bartender.  We heard everything about everything.  When I quit in 2005 after 15 years, I had clients call me at home and ask me to do their returns (I had a two year non compete clause and so I couldn't).  

I saw families grow up and kids graduate and get married.  I even had a client who was on the organ donor list for a kidney, but on her 70th birthday, she was called by the Organ Bank and told "Happy Birthday" but you are no longer on the donor list because you have just reached the upper age limit of 70.  Her husband and I held her while she cried.

Off topic - yes I know.  I just had to say it.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 22, 2011, 08:39:42 PM
And yes, the laws a convoluted and I would hate to have to live in the heads of those who craft these laws.

We used to say that "this law is only applicable on Tuesday next week, but if it rains then it is applicable on the second Thursday of the week after".

But with all the confusion we did the best we could and we cursed congress every day.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 23, 2011, 12:29:41 AM
Quote
this law is only applicable on Tuesday next week, but if it rains then it is applicable on the second Thursday of the week after

Are you a Star Trek fan, Alixz?  This sounds like the rules to Fizzbin (a card game Kirk makes up to confuse the bad guys holding him, Spock, and McCoy prisoner in the episode A Piece Of The Action.  The bad guys get so befuddled at those crazy rules that Kirk and Co. are able to get the drop on them and escape)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 23, 2011, 07:58:19 AM
I was - but I think that those in congress who write the tax laws must have been as well.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 23, 2011, 11:56:22 AM
Where is Captain Kirk when we need him?  :)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on August 23, 2011, 01:15:41 PM
It is odd.  That particular show A Piece of the Action was not one of my favorites.  I hadn't even thought about the similarity to the show when we made up that line about congress and its way of putting laws together.

All I ever knew was that no matter how much they might giveth, they also taketh away.  More taking away than giving.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 23, 2011, 02:27:55 PM
P.S. Petr, don't you think that the big subprime mortgage mess would have been avoided with stronger regulation? You seem to be hinting as much, but I'm not sure.

Actually no. There is so much blame to go around for the subprime mess and the near meltdown of the global financial system that I don't know where to start. However, I believe the starting point is the invention of the computer which permitted the creation of multivariable spread sheets without which investment pools could not have been created and facilitated cross-border trading of securities (it is now totally true that if the US gets a cold Europe gets pneumonia almost instantly).  That created a shift on Wall Street with the rise of the "quants", the banks hiring mathematicians and firing old market hands who had lived through prior market collapses and knew that what goes up must come down. The academic community is to blame for promoting the "Efficient Markets" theory which posits that our financial markets are so efficient that they are capable of true price discovery (hence value) and that regulations only interfere with this result. Government (starting with the Clinton Administration) in its zeal to promote home ownership loosened underwriting standards at Freddie Mac and Fannie May (there is a wonderful YouTube video of Barney Frank (he of Dodd Frank fame) and Maxine Waters grilling a representative of the OTS who had the temerity to charge that Freddie and Fannie were in danger of going bust with Waters claiming that any restriction in home lending was racist). There was Alan Greenspan who artificially kept interest rates low forcing institutional investors to seek ever higher yields which they found in asset based products (i.e, subprime mortgages).  The investment banks responded by creating pooled investment vehicles ostensibly to lessen the risk of default by basing their modelling upon prior default statistics when homeowners were required to put down 20% and never adjusting their assumptions to reflect the no doc, no income, no downpayment, high interest rate mortgages which wer stuffed into the pools to increase yields, which they then tried to improve by creating portfolio insurance with credit default swaps which in turn permitted an explosion of leverage when they were pyramided one on another. The markets for CDS were totally unregulated, in part because they were global in nature outside teh jurisdiction of US regulators, and because there was a split in authority (and a resulting turf battle) between the SEC which regulates securities and securities markets and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission which regulates the options markets. There was Greenspan and Robert Rubin (then Treasury Secretary) who jointly appeared before the SEC and argued that investment banks did not have to put up capital when they invested in derivatives since those instruments were being bought and sold by sophisticated investors who knew what they were doing lessening the risk of such investments (the Commission voted 5 - 0 not to require any addition to net capital, i.e., both Democratic and Republican appointees). This permitted investment banks to greatly increase their leverage which in turn led to the collapse of Lehman Brothers which nearly collapsed global financial markets (shades of the Credit Anstalt collapse in 1931 which is credited with causing the Great Depression). There was the SEC getting rid of the uptick rule on short selling which increased market volatility (again the computer plays a part by facilitating program trading which in turn further increased volatility). There was the adoption of Community Reinvestment Act which grades banks on their lending in disadvantaged neighborhoods.  And finally last but not least there were all of us who drank the kool aid and willingly went along for the ride, took out unaffordable mortgages and made fly by night investments because the sky was the limit. As Pogo once said: "I have met the enemy and they are us!"  Problem is that when the music stops someone is left standing holding the bag.   

To answer your question there were laws on the books that could have permitted regulators to prevent the collapse. They were not enforced or they were loosened for policy reasons (see my earlier post regarding home ownership).

Petr             
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on August 23, 2011, 07:18:16 PM
Quote
It is odd.  That particular show A Piece of the Action was not one of my favorites.  I hadn't even thought about the similarity to the show when we made up that line about congress and its way of putting laws together.

Must have been in your subconscious mind.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 25, 2011, 11:03:11 AM
P.S. Petr, don't you think that the big subprime mortgage mess would have been avoided with stronger regulation? You seem to be hinting as much, but I'm not sure.

Actually no. There is so much blame to go around for the subprime mess and the near meltdown of the global financial system that I don't know where to start. However, I believe the starting point is the invention of the computer which permitted the creation of multivariable spread sheets....... [in part]
Petr              

After all the big boys made a mess of everything then the greed started at the lower level of the mortgage mess.   Too many saw how to take advantage of getting a mortgage because things had gotten so "loose" that no one was checking the details, such as, was the person applying for the loans  actually making 20,000 a year or whatever it was needed for the loan...  A few were actually changing the application-- without the borrower even knowing-- some of the numbers because the more loans they pushed through the system the more money he or she made.   Many of the poor people just didn't realize what they had been talked into buying was going to cause them to loose their house.   The words such as "ballon payment"  hadn't been explained....  Anyway,  they were the first to loose their house.  Then there was the tangled mess as to who actually owned the paper upon which the mortgage had been placed....  Between the banks and the investors,  the people who were living in the house were often caught between a rock and a hard spot....  Papers were being served from all different directions.... There was so much work that the people trying to sort through the mess  were not  returning the calls to these desperate people....  Deadlines came and went.  People were in a panic....  Common sense flew out the window.  Selling a house for $1  so someone would live in a house that had fallen into disrepair was absolutely ...... Well.   let me just say,  the mess wasn't handled well and it created a lot of angry people....  Homes were lost.   Jobs were lost....  And the snow ball rolled down the hill and collected a lot of victims, who had been good honest people who make up our middle class America.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 25, 2011, 11:17:51 AM
I think this is a very interesting discussion which, when focused on our current economic situation, has interesting parallels with Russia in the thirty years before the Revolution (to bring the discussion back to the thread). In fact, it is biblical in a certain sense (remember the parable of the rich man and the eye of the needle). The problem as articulated by Marx is the issue of those who labor versus those who risk capital. As viewed by Marx, in a purely capitalist system the willingness to risk capital is favored versus the efforts of those who labor.  What I see argued in some of the posts is a disguised desire to redistribute accumulated wealth principally by means of a progressive tax.

What I see in late imperial Russia is a relatively new and still relatively small middle class slowly but surely gaining ground both in numbers and wealth. And if this situation had been allowed to develop further, by some miracle of history, then Russia might still have had a February Revolution, but it probably would never have had an October one. The problem in early 20th-century Russia was precisely that the middle class was still so minuscule in comparison to the rest of the population, which was as we all know largely peasant, land hungry, and illiterate, i.e., a politically highly unstable, even volatile element.

And I see it, the problem in the United States roughly a century later is somewhat similar, in that one of the greatest sources of political stability in our country, our middle class, is noticeably shrinking. Small numbers are moving into the class of the wealthy (10 million or more dollars to burn, what is called "FU money" because basically if you have this amount nobody but the IRS can touch you!). Much larger numbers are moving into pink collar and working class jobs, still others because of the recession are frankly descending into poverty (whether they're still working or unemployed). As far as I am concerned a shrinking middle class is a recipe for disaster in a democracy. Increasing disparities in wealth, combined with this culture's overriding concern with "success" as measured in completely materialistic terms (and all our reality TV shows that flaunt wealth and practically shove it in our middle and working class faces), mean that we are breeding a generation or even several generations of malcontents who will only cause major social disruption in the future. Alixz is right about the government's concern for all its citizens to become proper middle-class property owners, because it is the property-owning middle class which has sustained this nation into the 21st century. (Of course, without the GI Bill, and Social Security, and all the other social welfare measures of FDR and his successors in the 20th century, our middle class would be considerably less sizable than it is even today, as it gradually erodes.)

But there is another argument with equal validity that says it is fundamentally unfair for top earners --250,000 people who earn $1,000,000 or more pay 20% of all income taxes and the 3% who earn more than $200,000 pay almost half, with almost half of all filers paying no income taxes at all. Without the willingness to risk capital there are no jobs. One might argue that this favors a socialist/communist economic system where capital is accumulated, held and dispensed by the state. But all such systems unfortunately result in, at best, an inefficient misallocation of resources or an abuse of governmental power at worst.

It might very well be unfair to tax the wealthiest at a higher rate than the poorest, but life is unfair, isn't it? Not to mention the fact that the wealthy can afford very expensive, superbly skilled tax lawyers and accountants to get them out of paying most of their taxes, whereas the middle classes either have to rely on a calculator and their own brains (and it does take considerable brains to wade through our convoluted tax system), or else go to some impersonal fast-tax place like H&R Block.

I  don't think the Scandinavian countries (with the exception of Iceland) are doing too badly with their system of high taxes and large social welfare program/safety net. In fact, they're doing a sight better than the good old United States, which is wallowing in debt and just got its credit rating downgraded.

And how about higher taxes for our wealthier citizens not because we want to "redistribute wealth" like a bunch of Bolsheviks (although here's a reminder: the Bolsheviks didn't bother with higher taxes, remember, communists are not the same as socialists since communists confiscate capital by force as they nationalize banks and industry by force), but because we want to pay off our national debt as quickly as possible? How's that for a concept? And a legacy for our grandchildren and their children?

Moreover, there's also no empirical evidence to support the claim that lower taxes create more jobs. I know this because I saw an intense discussion of this very same topic on the Bill Maher show last June, haha.

Having a strong and productive middle class has always been the key of our success here in the US.    In the early 1900s,  Russia had a very small middle class but it was steadily growing and might have proven to have been their key to a better future then what they ended up with under Lenin and Stalin.

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 25, 2011, 05:42:22 PM
What I see in late imperial Russia is a relatively new and still relatively small middle class slowly but surely gaining ground both in numbers and wealth. And if this situation had been allowed to develop further, by some miracle of history, then Russia might still have had a February Revolution, but it probably would never have had an October one. The problem in early 20th-century Russia was precisely that the middle class was still so minuscule in comparison to the rest of the population, which was as we all know largely peasant, land hungry, and illiterate, i.e., a politically highly unstable, even volatile element.

Dear Bear;

You are quite right. I remember having a vigorous discussion with Constantinople in which I posited exactly that point. At the end of the 19th Century Russia was industrializing at a fierce rate (I've read some sociological studies which argue that such rapid industrialization in a predominantly agrarian state was fodder for the revolution because of the social dislocation it caused unlike in England in which industrialization took place over a longer period). I recently  finished the new biography of Witte and it makes it quite clear that the fruits of such industrialization was a rising middle class which, interestingly was quite upwardly mobile although still hampered by the stultifying class system and the "Table of Ranks". Witte originally went to work for the largest railroad in Southern Russia (his railroad expertise is what propelled his rise in Government) which, as it happens, was owned by a Jew (a man he highly respected) and his writings on the problem of antisemitism are quite interesting.  In sort of a microcosm antisemitism in Russia in the latter half of the 19th and early 20th Century was, in my view, a reflection of the changing nature of the country, from a place where wealth had been principally derived from landholdings which tended to be static and fixed in conservative hands, people who were fighting a rearguard action to preserve their prerogatives, to a more modern state with a growing manufacturing capability which tended to be owned by entrepreneurial men who were willing to risk capital and by temperament were more progressive and, dare I say it, better educated (endeavors which, I think, attracted Jews who had been restricted and ghettoized in Pale of the Settlement).  Participating in this industrialization was a means for some to break out of those restrictions and had the process been permitted to continue would have moved Russia into the 20th Century and, in my view would have resulted in a pluralistic political system (I think a Constitutional Monarchy). There's been some interesting scholarship on Russia's economic development during this period (viz., Pipes among others) which points to the fact that while still an agrarian society it was not as backward as liberals in the West have liked to believe (probably because that view fitted well with the communist line that they were the real modernizing force in Russia).  By the way, I'm reading the new biography of Cornelius Vanderbilt and his battles with the landed Dutch Gentry in New York seem to echo this theme (as a total digression, the Supreme Court case of Gibbons vs. Ogden decided by Justice Marshall which involved Vanderbilt's boss and ferry traffic between New York and New Jersey has now recently gained some prominence again having helped lay the foundation for a rather expansive interpretation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution which is at heart the issue involving Obama Care). Ah well "plus ca change plus ca reste le meme." 

Petr             
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Janet Ashton on August 26, 2011, 11:29:07 AM
Oh, and I forgot to add, it is so nice and refreshing and, frankly, fun, to check in here at this thread when I finally get the chance during a long and hectic day, because I always know that I'll be rewarded with several new and interesting posts to ponder over. Thanks to Petr and Alixz and Robert and Janet and Kalafrena and everybody else who's contributed here! Sometimes all of you do make my day!


I admit I find it enjoyable too, not least because the debate here is genuine and I haven't seen anyone go off in a huff yet! :-)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 26, 2011, 12:23:43 PM
Let's hope it stays that way, Janet.. I enjoy the balanced discussion as well.  I know I am not always right and  willingly accept, when others posit views I might initially disagree with but come to see their point. As most must know by now, I am unabashedly "LEFT" but even we can admit when we are mistaken at times.
 However, my main point remains- Communism does work, if given the chance, but just has not seen it's  full potential. The best so far, that has come about is state socialism as in Scandinavia or Benelux.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on August 27, 2011, 01:30:30 PM
Ah Robert I wish I could show you the error of your ways. But seriously, I think Marx and Engels were the products of their time and like many in the 19th Century were enamoured with the "scientific method", thinking they could apply it to human behavior and create an economic system that explained all. A sort of unified field theory for the proper way to organize society. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) humankind is much more unpredictable. Here is where I believe lies the dividing line between the left and the right. I think the left believes in the fundamental perfectability of man, that by eliminating poverty and hunger with the heavy intervention of government mankind will evolve into what the soviets labeled the "new soviet man".  I think the right takes a more dismal view of mankind (a view that I believe was shared by many of the Founding Fathers which led to their creation of a political system of checks and balances).  I must say my family's history in the 20th and 21st Centuries (right up to the present) would seem to support this view (and certainly affects my view). When you think about it: the Russo Japanese War, WWI, Russian Civil War, the Revolution, the Armenian Holocaust, the Great Depression, the Ukrainian Holomor, Soviet purges,  WWII, the Holocaust, the Indian Pakistani partition, the Arab Israel war, the Korean war, the Suez conflict, the Vietnam War, the various Arab Israel conflicts, the Chinese "Great Leap Forward",  Uganda, Aparthied, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, The Falklands war, the Serbian war, the Iraq War (1 & 2), the Afghanistan War), Al Quaeda, and various skirmishes world wide, an incomplete litany of cruelty, ignorance, thirst for power, and evil which does not argue in favor of mankind's progress from the days when cavemen hit each other over the head with rocks. While I long to be wrong reality always seems to intrude.

I'm sitting here in CT waiting for hurricane Irene to hit and that just makes me realize how really puny and self-inflated we truly are. To think that we (like Marx) could really believe that we can control nature, create the perfect society and change the genetic imperatives that drive us. How arrogant.

Petr                       
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on August 29, 2011, 05:48:06 PM
, I do not think that I am in error, particularly. I just see things  differently. I agree on your differences between right and left.  Very well put.
 Marx & Engles.... well, IMO, they had the premise & theory down but not the practicals. To be honest, it has been so long since I have read any of that, I probably need a refresher course.
 I do not know either what direction  humankind is going to head.   China, I suppose is the current  power, at least economically.  And, they are still officially a communist state. [Hard to see where Communism  comes in now, though, expect for the single party]
 The slaughters in Africa, to add to you litany of human tragedy,  have always  escaped me.  Neither capitalism nor communism has mad much of a headway in   central Africa, where most of the conflict is.
 Libya, north Africa might have come close to the ideal with Gaddafi's  Jamiyahira which as I understand it means socialist republic in some way. But, even that could not break the endemic tribalism.  Although it has emerged his was just another brutal regime, he at least built schools, hospitals,  transportation, etc, with much of the money he brought in by nationalising the oil industry. How much of that is going to be left is anyone's guess.
 This leaves just Cuba  and North Korea and Viet Nam as  the only other Comminist Sociests left.  They  will have th adjust as well and actually are, at  least Cuba and VN. By the same token, so do the capitalists... banking scandals and obscene greed, war wongering, and failure of infrastructure are taking their toll.
 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 30, 2011, 04:31:30 PM
 ...[in part]...
I'm sitting here in CT waiting for hurricane Irene to hit and that just makes me realize how really puny and self-inflated we truly are. To think that we (like Marx) could really believe that we can control nature, create the perfect society and change the genetic imperatives that drive us. How arrogant.

Petr                        

Petr,

I hope all is well with you because the news is showing Irene making a real mess your way!

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: AGRBear on August 30, 2011, 04:40:29 PM
Let's hope it stays that way, Janet.. I enjoy the balanced discussion as well.  I know I am not always right and  willingly accept, when others posit views I might initially disagree with but come to see their point. As most must know by now, I am unabashedly "LEFT" but even we can admit when we are mistaken at times.
 However, my main point remains- Communism does work, if given the chance, but just has not seen it's  full potential. The best so far, that has come about is state socialism as in Scandinavia or Benelux.

Surly you are pointing at the socialist and small "c" communism, not the Soviet's big "C"  Communism where the end justifies the means with knocks on the doors in the middle of the night followed by   innocent people  ending up in camps....or, worst,  in mass graves....

AGRBear
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 10, 2011, 03:44:25 AM
I think Marx and Engels were the products of their time and like many in the 19th Century were enamoured with the "scientific method", thinking they could apply it to human behavior and create an economic system that explained all. A sort of unified field theory for the proper way to organize society. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) humankind is much more unpredictable. Here is where I believe lies the dividing line between the left and the right. I think the left believes in the fundamental perfectability of man, that by eliminating poverty and hunger with the heavy intervention of government mankind will evolve into what the soviets labeled the "new soviet man".  I think the right takes a more dismal view of mankind (a view that I believe was shared by many of the Founding Fathers which led to their creation of a political system of checks and balances).  I must say my family's history in the 20th and 21st Centuries (right up to the present) would seem to support this view (and certainly affects my view). When you think about it: the Russo Japanese War, WWI, Russian Civil War, the Revolution, the Armenian Holocaust, the Great Depression, the Ukrainian Holomor, Soviet purges,  WWII, the Holocaust, the Indian Pakistani partition, the Arab Israel war, the Korean war, the Suez conflict, the Vietnam War, the various Arab Israel conflicts, the Chinese "Great Leap Forward",  Uganda, Aparthied, El Salvador, Chile, Colombia, The Falklands war, the Serbian war, the Iraq War (1 & 2), the Afghanistan War), Al Quaeda, and various skirmishes world wide, an incomplete litany of cruelty, ignorance, thirst for power, and evil which does not argue in favor of mankind's progress from the days when cavemen hit each other over the head with rocks. While I long to be wrong reality always seems to intrude.

I'm sitting here in CT waiting for hurricane Irene to hit and that just makes me realize how really puny and self-inflated we truly are. To think that we (like Marx) could really believe that we can control nature, create the perfect society and change the genetic imperatives that drive us. How arrogant.

Petr

Dear Petr, I've been away, traveling, for quite a while but I have to respond to your post because I so completely agree with it. The conservative mindset as you describe it is the most agreeable to me, and I think, to anyone who has studied the course of human history and paid any attention whatsoever to all its many murderous "details." I know that the conservative (some would describe him as reactionary) French philosopher Joseph de Maistre was influential in Russia after the French Revolution and well into the 19th century -- his ideas, about the incorrigible "badness" of mankind and its essential "fallen" nature (in the Biblical sense), its insane bloodlust and love of war -- had an impact on writers as diverse in temperament and world view as Leo Tolstoy and Charles Baudelaire.

That said, the fact of the matter is that the Republican party, thanks to the Tea Party ideologues, has become the Stupid Party in this country. In other words, I am probably a Republican by temperament and world view -- but I can't find it in my conscience to be a Republican at the present time, what with that party's present makeup: nuts like Michelle Bachman (probably quite intelligent but certifiable nonetheless) and Perry (thanks to him, in his home state of Texas, George W. Bush is now referred to as "the smart one"). The Republican party as it stands today is anti-intellectual, anti-science, and anti-progress. It is catering to the least intelligent, least educated, and most isolationist section of the population. It is in short a populist movement in the very worst sense of the term.

So it would seem I don't agree with you entirely, after all... For that matter, I don't believe that the 20th century, for all its murderous rampages, was quite such a write-off in terms of human progress, compared to say, the 14th century and its massive die-offs due to wars, famines, and last but not least the Black Death (an estimated one third of the entire population of Europe -- East and West -- perished in this epidemic, which was infinitely worse than anything that transpired on that continent in the 20th century, as hard as that is to believe). After all, in the 20th century we saw women wrest the vote from unwilling male-run governments, in the UK and the US and elsewhere in the West, and with this, the inevitable powerful rise of the women's rights movement; we saw the civil rights movement make tremendous strides for people of color all over the globe; we saw the founding of the welfare state -- which all in all is not such a bad thing, you must admit, because it guaranteed the stability and growth of the middle class in innumerable countries, not just the United States... Yes, the 20th century was horrible, but to some extent its level of horror was a consequence of major technological advances. Auschwitz would not have been possible without such technological "improvements" as mass railroad transport and the invention of the assembly line. I guarantee you, if Genghis Khan had had railroads and assembly lines at his disposal, he probably would have used them, too, in punishing the many peoples who resisted him and his armies of conquest.


 
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on September 11, 2011, 09:03:34 AM
 Dear Elizabeth,
Good to hear from you again. Well, of course, my post was a sweeping generalization (perhaps I'm as guilty as Marx) and of course the 20th Century was not totally a horrific waste. But much like Janus the technological advances that you cited (and perhaps the greatest one being the invention of the computer) are two faced, because along with the computer, the automobile, telephone, radio and television came nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and Glen Beck and Keith Olbermann. I guess at heart I'm a pessimist (probably the Russian in me) but I've always thought that as a pessimist you are either never disappointed when the worst occurs or are pleasantly surprised when things turn out better than you expected.

It's interesting how life proceeds in opposites: the young and the old, the beautiful and the ugly, the cruel and the compassionate, the evil and the saintly. The question is whether all these opposites cancel each other out or whether mankind is inching forward (i.e., two steps forward and one step back) to some more enlightened state. Again the difference between the optimistic left and the pessimistic right. Obviously, all the great religions seek to present a path to mankind's improvement while recognizing its failings and perhaps what really counts is making the effort regardless of the outcome.

As for the tea party well it's nothing new in American history. I view them in the same boat as the "know nothings" and other nativist groups. Likewise it's not peculiar to the US. Other countries have experienced similar movements at different times.  Generally these movements all arise out of one or more societal conditions and prompted by fear they adopt hardened cloistered positions with the need to exhibit ideological purity driving members to ever extreme positions. Sadly there will always be people who take advantage of these movements for their own selfish purposes.  In our case the facts are that we are burdened with an unsustainable level of debt and high unemployment in an economy which is now principally based on the consumer.  Unfortunately, our ability to spend our way out of the problem is limited.  Raising taxes to raise revenues in a global economy has limits as well. People structure their business and lives to minimize taxes (something Judge Learned Hand once wrote was perfectly acceptable, i.e., the difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion) and those with the capital to invest in our economy are the most able shift resources away from high tax jurisdictions to low tax jurisdictions or structure their investments in a manner which limits taxes but is not optimal for generating jobs in the US.  So in a sense we are trapped.  But despite my inherent pessimism I believe the real genius of America is in its ability to change and adapt so eventually we will reinvent ourselves and escape from this economic cul de sac. But it will be a long hard slog with many innocent victims along the way.  Finally, despite all the noise from the right and the left the fact is the bulk of the American population is in the middle and there still is a bedrock of common sense that drives this country. All we need is someone who can articulate this position and give it expression in our political life.

Petr
   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 11, 2011, 03:16:09 PM
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

This is usually misquoted as "religion is the opiate of the masses".  So I will go with the misquote and say that I think it is TV.  Give the average man or woman a TV to sit in front of and they will buy or accept anything that is presented on it.  Those very wise and saintly "father figures" that deliver the news to us could not be lying or presenting an agenda that has been bought and paid for by someone else, now could they?

TV is probably the one thing with a Janus face that everyone accepts as the "holy grail" on information and entertainment.  Yet, TV can be used for both good and evil.  If something is repeated enough on every news channel night after night the general public will then accept it as gospel and it enters our consciousness as "proven" fact. (Like the necessity for the Patriot Act)

I don't think that there is hope for anyone until TV and those who use it to sell not only their material things, but their ideology is shut down.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 21, 2011, 07:12:25 PM
Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right

This is usually misquoted as "religion is the opiate of the masses".  So I will go with the misquote and say that I think it is TV.  Give the average man or woman a TV to sit in front of and they will buy or accept anything that is presented on it.  Those very wise and saintly "father figures" that deliver the news to us could not be lying or presenting an agenda that has been bought and paid for by someone else, now could they?

TV is probably the one thing with a Janus face that everyone accepts as the "holy grail" on information and entertainment.  Yet, TV can be used for both good and evil.  If something is repeated enough on every news channel night after night the general public will then accept it as gospel and it enters our consciousness as "proven" fact. (Like the necessity for the Patriot Act)

I don't think that there is hope for anyone until TV and those who use it to sell not only their material things, but their ideology is shut down.

Hi, Alixz. It's somewhat of a surprise to me to read your quote from Karl Marx and realize that I agree with it. I also agree with you that television has no doubt taken the place of religion in today's popular culture -- although I'm not sure everyone who watches it "believes" in what they're seeing/hearing. Nevertheless, at least most everyone who watches TV nowadays experiences some escape from his/her dreadful daily routine as a result of it. I myself quite like Bravo TV's Real Housewives of New York series. It is an opiate, it must be said, --not for suffering, Marx apparently never anticipated that the majority of the Western population in the 21st century would not be struggling working class but struggling middle class -- but an opiate for the occasional hardship and what's worse, the overriding boredom of life. I mean, what I most take away from this "Reality TV" series about rich New York women is that they are on a neverending quest to conquer boredom. The more material goods and more importantly, the more pointless melodrama the better, hence their enduring popularity with viewers. Of course, if you're rich it's easier to be entertained (and consequently jaded, and consequently very bored and looking to stir up the pot) than if you're merely middle class. And that's not even talking about the truly poor, who only dream about being rich or middle class and bored, as opposed to being impoverished and suffering all the time.

I'm sorry to say it (sounding very pessimistic like Petr at the moment, but most of the time I do agree with you Petr, as in your last post), but this televised mass escapism is not going away any time soon. It's a very effective opiate, in other words. It does tend to dull one not only to the boredom of being bored, but also to the pain and suffering of others -- say, the homeless seeking shelter next door.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on September 22, 2011, 03:55:37 PM
Good to hear from you again Elizabeth. Frankly ladies I must disagree with both of you regarding the “religion is the opiate of the masses” quote from Marx on a number of levels. Before I start in the interest of full and fair disclosure I should say that I am a 65 year old Orthodox believer and have been all my life. Accordingly, one might consider my views tempered by my background and by my slow descent into my final resting place (with my fervent hope to meet my maker).

There is a wonderful prayer in the Orthodox liturgy (in the Litany of Supplication) asking for “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful and with a good defense before the dread judgment of Christ.” To my mind religions seek to accomplish much more than what Marx attributes to them as somehow deluding the masses into accepting mindlessly their lot. Most religions try to deal with those most fundamental questions facing mankind, including: how did we get here, why are we here, ultimately what will happen to us, what's our purpose in life, how do we achieve self-realization to permit us to lead a full and productive life, what are our responsibilities to ourselves and to our fellow humans traveling on this speck of dust in the infinite cosmos, and how do we face death, that ultimate and unknowable of all human experiences. Some might label religion a crutch but I prefer to consider it a comfort. Furthermore, the need to believe in religion (in the broadest sense) I believe is ingrained in humans and is perhaps what makes us human. I'm currently listening to a series of lectures on ancient Egypt and have been struck how much the myth of Osiris and his resurrection resembles other religions and their attempt to deal with death.         

Marx saw religions as an impediment to the creation of a perfect society but again this was through the prism of the 19th century and its faith in science. But as we continually find out, science never has all the answers. Witness the “Big Bang” a cosmological answer to where do we come from. But not to put a fine point on it “who pressed the button?” For every answer science seems to provide other questions are raised. So I, at least, come down to the conclusion that at heart certain things must be accepted on faith and cannot be rationally explained.

Finally, whether or not one believes in the actual dogmatic tenets of a religion, most religions provide a systematic code for ethical behavior which, apart from some more unacceptable aberrant expressions (viz., human sacrifice, the inquisition, etc.), generally involve a construct which permits humans to live together in harmony. As I remind my wife, one must always distinguish between organized religion (always an imperfect human attempt to reflect the divine) with the tenets and beliefs of a religion which are often at odds with their human expression. But that does not mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water and stop striving to improve that expression and trying to achieve that state of grace (in Christian terms) or Nirvana (in Buddhist terms) which touches us with the divine (or at least that better part of all of us) and which, as a goal, far exceeds the benefits of Marx's paradise on earth.

Ah well, so much for my philosophical ramblings in defense of religion.

Petr                                                                                                       
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 22, 2011, 10:04:13 PM
Good to hear from you again Elizabeth. Frankly ladies I must disagree with both of you regarding the “religion is the opiate of the masses” quote from Marx on a number of levels. Before I start in the interest of full and fair disclosure I should say that I am a 65 year old Orthodox believer and have been all my life. Accordingly, one might consider my views tempered by my background and by my slow descent into my final resting place (with my fervent hope to meet my maker).

There is a wonderful prayer in the Orthodox liturgy (in the Litany of Supplication) asking for “A Christian ending to our life, painless, blameless, peaceful and with a good defense before the dread judgment of Christ.” To my mind religions seek to accomplish much more than what Marx attributes to them as somehow deluding the masses into accepting mindlessly their lot. Most religions try to deal with those most fundamental questions facing mankind, including: how did we get here, why are we here, ultimately what will happen to us, what's our purpose in life, how do we achieve self-realization to permit us to lead a full and productive life, what are our responsibilities to ourselves and to our fellow humans traveling on this speck of dust in the infinite cosmos, and how do we face death, that ultimate and unknowable of all human experiences. Some might label religion a crutch but I prefer to consider it a comfort. Furthermore, the need to believe in religion (in the broadest sense) I believe is ingrained in humans and is perhaps what makes us human. I'm currently listening to a series of lectures on ancient Egypt and have been struck how much the myth of Osiris and his resurrection resembles other religions and their attempt to deal with death.        

Marx saw religions as an impediment to the creation of a perfect society but again this was through the prism of the 19th century and its faith in science. But as we continually find out, science never has all the answers. Witness the “Big Bang” a cosmological answer to where do we come from. But not to put a fine point on it “who pressed the button?” For every answer science seems to provide other questions are raised. So I, at least, come down to the conclusion that at heart certain things must be accepted on faith and cannot be rationally explained.

Finally, whether or not one believes in the actual dogmatic tenets of a religion, most religions provide a systematic code for ethical behavior which, apart from some more unacceptable aberrant expressions (viz., human sacrifice, the inquisition, etc.), generally involve a construct which permits humans to live together in harmony. As I remind my wife, one must always distinguish between organized religion (always an imperfect human attempt to reflect the divine) with the tenets and beliefs of a religion which are often at odds with their human expression. But that does not mean we should throw the baby out with the bath water and stop striving to improve that expression and trying to achieve that state of grace (in Christian terms) or Nirvana (in Buddhist terms) which touches us with the divine (or at least that better part of all of us) and which, as a goal, far exceeds the benefits of Marx's paradise on earth.

Ah well, so much for my philosophical ramblings in defense of religion.

Petr

Dear Petr, you don't have to defend religion to me. I am of two minds about it myself -- viewing it, rightly or wrongly, as a wellspring of good as much as it is of evil (generally evil in its organized formations, but not always).

The 19th-century poet Baudelaire wrote in his journal My Heart Laid Bare that "there are questions which should trouble everyone and apparently don't, such as, what happens to us when we die?" (I can't find the precise quote because I am traveling and separated from my books).

He also wrote:  

'Alas, human vices, however horrible one might imagine them to be, contain the proof (were it only in their infinite expansion) of man's longing for the infinite; but it is a longing that often takes the wrong route.... It is my belief that the reason behind all culpable excesses lies in this deprivation of the sense of the infinite." -- "The Poem of Hashish," chapter 1, "Les Paradis Artificiels" (1860).

I think probably it is modern popular culture's implicit denial of the very existence of a human "sense of the infinite"-- its favoring of the material over everything spiritual -- which condemns those of us who partake of it without judgment or imagination to a life of real emptiness. In the case of the very young, it's simply ignorance of anything better.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 23, 2011, 10:07:30 AM
Yesterday my son asked me "Why do we believe in a life after death when we don't remember a life before birth?"

I think it is a very good question.  He is 25 and had never had a structured religious training.  My husband and I left him to discover and decide for himself what he would or would not believe.

I thought that his question was valid as most religions talk of a soul being in the infant from the time of conception and try to define when life begins. 

He was also very ill when he was younger and he believes that he had a "near death" experience.  He says he knows he was dead, but that there was no white light or black light or angles or demons.  Simply nothing.

I am sorry, I just realized that this has nothing to do with why communism works or doesn't work.  I am so off topic.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on September 23, 2011, 10:35:15 AM
I guess it depends whether you believe in reincarnation or not.  There are reports of people supposedly remembering past lives.  Whether they really are or not is up to the individual.  I think most people put this in a kind of open file, neither believing or disbelieving, rather being somewhere in the middle.  Reincarnation, life after death, open file.  It's unlikely that we'll have answers for any of these mysteries anytime soon.

As for what happened to you son, well, you said he believes he was dead, from what you said he's not sure.  I'm glad for you that he recovered.

As I said, open file.  However, when ten people show up and say "I was Anastasia", then I don't buy it.  The main reason is because they can't ALL be Anastasia at the same time!


Quote
I am sorry, I just realized that this has nothing to do with why communism works or doesn't work.  I am so off topic

Don't worry about it, Alixz.  As far as this thread is concerned, that ship has long since sailed.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 23, 2011, 12:47:20 PM
I guess it depends whether you believe in reincarnation or not.  There are reports of people supposedly remembering past lives.  Whether they really are or not is up to the individual.  I think most people put this in a kind of open file, neither believing or disbelieving, rather being somewhere in the middle.  Reincarnation, life after death, open file.  It's unlikely that we'll have answers for any of these mysteries anytime soon.

As for what happened to you son, well, you said he believes he was dead, from what you said he's not sure.  I'm glad for you that he recovered.

As I said, open file.  However, when ten people show up and say "I was Anastasia", then I don't buy it.  The main reason is because they can't ALL be Anastasia at the same time!


Quote
I am sorry, I just realized that this has nothing to do with why communism works or doesn't work.  I am so off topic

Don't worry about it, Alixz.  As far as this thread is concerned, that ship has long since sailed.

We're all hopelessly off topic here, but by now we all should also have realized that sooner or later, we somehow or other always land back on topic.

Tim, I myself have always found it difficult to believe in reincarnation because so many people who say they remember past lives claim that in those past lives they were Cleopatra or Alexander the Great or Napoleon or Josephine. No one remembers being some poor farmer in the Soviet Union in the early 1930s being deported to Siberia for the class sin of owning a cow. Face it, people only want to believe they were reincarnated because in a past life they were so much more "glamorous" than they are now. It's just another example of wishful thinking.

It's also a way of blaming victims because you can think, oh, this person had a very tragic life, it must be because they were evil in a past life (who? Stalin? Hitler? notice no one ever claims to have been them in their past lives!!!)

However, whether or not we believe in an afterlife, Alixz, or in the soul, or whatever, there is a spiritual side to life which does not necessarily translate into being religious, and which is sorely neglected in modern-day culture.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Robert_Hall on September 23, 2011, 01:36:09 PM
I had a go at regression therapy years ago and it didn't do a thing for me.  I just was curious as to what it entailed.  So, my commitment to  it was very shallow to begin with.
I also forget what the Church's position was on  this treatment.
 I had just imagined I was a  clerk somewhere, anywhere, anytime, just watching events go by and recording them. Nothing happened to lead me in that direction though. One can get card readers or  such folks to tell you anything you want, so  do not  think  past life  memories hold much water, personally.
 One can certainly feel related to a certain era or person through reading, fascination  and or obsession.  But it proves nothing but imagination, as far as I can tell.
  Tim is  correct, the original topic sailed away  some time ago, but in an attempt to return to shore for a bit, I was recently having a chat with my Russian friend, who was raised under Communism and believed in it, more or less, until the end [he was in the Red Army at the time] and asked him frankly if he thought that system worked.  He said, yes, in ways. Today,  some things are better, but others were better the old way. We have had these discussions before but they were  about specifics [ housing, health, education, employment, etc.]. I am awaiting  a response from a friend in China who was young  but aware of the Cultoral Revolution which he described as "chaos" but "exciting". He still knows every word of Mao's Little Red Book.
  And yet another connection is trying to get a response from a mutual friend in North Korea, who obviously still lives under a  "purist" communist state.  That is tricky and takes  time, but can be achieved.
 So, whether it works or not is in the eyes of those who live[d] under it. As another example, my friend in Bulgaria, a doctor is searching ex-patria for a decent job. When under the Soviet regime, he was secure and well paid [for Bulgaria]. Yet, life is much better now in other ways.
 I admit to having a positive image of Communism when I was younger, and read all the polemics, but  I never experienced it. So, for me,  the reality comes from people I know and trust who did.
 All of these friends were raised atheists, even though my Bulgarian doctor is also a mohel,. That is about as Jewish as he gets. So religion played not much of a role in their lives. I guess the next question to put out to them is  past lives. My Russian friend once told me that there are  scores of people running around Russia claiming to me  descendants of  the IF, not all necessarily   the N&A branch.  Some apparently are pretty obscure and  hard to prove wrong, but no one seems to take any of them seriously.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 23, 2011, 03:52:03 PM
I agree with Elizabeth that most people who think they are reincarnated always go for Napoleon or Marie Antoinette or Elizabeth I or someone else famous..  No one ever claims to have been Napoleon's washer woman or stable boy.

As for my son's question, it came not from believing or thinking about reincarnation, but the thought that many believe that the soul is in the embryo almost at conception.  He then asked if the soul is said to survive death to go onto another life (life after death not reincarnation but life in "heaven" or "hell"), then why don't we remember what the soul knew or lived before birth.  It makes sense to look for a continuation as perhaps this life is the life after a previous death.  He then said that is why he doesn't believe in life after death as he doesn't believe that we are more than our physical parts and when they stop working, so do we.  Nothing passes on because it is like a computer with a dead mother board or CPU (brain).  We just chuck it out and buy a new one.  We don't bury it and expect to meet it in a "next life".

Only religion instructs us to believe that we are superior to those things that grow around us - trees and dogs and rats, etc - and also superior to anything that we might create.  Without that "opiate" we are just things that live and die and death is the end not the beginning.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 23, 2011, 03:55:04 PM
Robert - for all of those who wander around saying that they are descendants of Romanovs - I myself have often wondered at the number of mistresses and illegitimate children that some of the tsars and their families have left behind.  Any number of people could be descendants of royalty.  Just not descendants of N&A.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on September 23, 2011, 07:33:26 PM
Quote
As for my son's question, it came not from believing or thinking about reincarnation, but the thought that many believe that the soul is in the embryo almost at conception.  He then asked if the soul is said to survive death to go onto another life (life after death not reincarnation but life in "heaven" or "hell"), then why don't we remember what the soul knew or lived before birth.  It makes sense to look for a continuation as perhaps this life is the life after a previous death.  He then said that is why he doesn't believe in life after death as he doesn't believe that we are more than our physical parts and when they stop working, so do we.  Nothing passes on because it is like a computer with a dead mother board or CPU (brain).  We just chuck it out and buy a new one.  We don't bury it and expect to meet it in a "next life".

In a way, that's the definition of reincarnation, you chuck out the old body and get a new one.  You are right that no one goes around saying he was Joe Shmoe from Bug Tussell, Tennessee. 

Of course, this means trying to define what a soul is, which, of course, I don't think we can.  However, there have been reports of ghosts and such for thousands of years, so one never know.  Science has answered a lot of questions yes, but if we think we know EVERYTHING that goes on out there, that is arrogant to say the least.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 25, 2011, 12:59:26 PM
Speaking of mortality, perhaps not many here have noticed, but the truly great, groundbreaking generation of Western Slavists -- American or European-born historians primarily of Russian and Soviet history and literature -- are dying off right now. The following eminent scholars in these fields have passed away recently, they all held professorships at American universities, although many were born in the Russian Emigration after the Russian Revolutions of 1917:

Simon Karlinsky  died 2009
Richard Stites  died 2010
Leopold Haimson died 2010
Moshe Lewin died 2010
Nicholas Riasonovsky died 2011

Most of us know Riasonovsky from his textbook of Russian history from ancient times to the present, which is still standard fare in most American universities. But all of these scholars were pioneers in some way, and most of them were also historians and not only fought the great "revisionist" battle of the Cold War in Soviet Studies, but in effect set the very parameters in which that struggle took place.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 25, 2011, 05:58:40 PM
Tim - I don't think I explained it well.  If we believe in "life after death" we don't call that reincarnation.  It is a religious term and seems to mean a relief of all earthly toil and grief and moving toward a peaceful here after.

Those who believe in reincarnation don't think they have reached "nirvana" only moved from a past life of grief and toil to a present one.

But if there is a place where the "soul" resides in waiting for a body to born in just as it resides in a body waiting to die and move on to that place of peace, then what my son was asking is why can't we remember that "life before life"? 

That "life before life" would not just another worldly move on the wheel of Karma as reincarnation would be defined.  But a place of rest and peace from whence we come and to where we return.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on September 25, 2011, 07:13:12 PM
Quote
Tim - I don't think I explained it well.  If we believe in "life after death" we don't call that reincarnation.  It is a religious term and seems to mean a relief of all earthly toil and grief and moving toward a peaceful here after.

Oh, I know what you meant, Alixz, it's okay.


Quote
But if there is a place where the "soul" resides in waiting for a body to born in just as it resides in a body waiting to die and move on to that place of peace, then what my son was asking is why can't we remember that "life before life"

It could be that the soul of each of us is created along with them, and "switches on" when we first become self-aware.  Just a theory, of course, but it does address what your son was asking.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on September 26, 2011, 11:15:56 AM
As Tim said earlier the boat has sailed but I must say it's an interesting voyage.

A question to all you Russophiles and knowledgeable people-- Putin's announcement (cf., NY Times today) that he is running for President in 2010 (which if he wins two terms as is expected he will serve longer than Joseph Stalin), is that simply the recreation of the communist state in sheep's clothing? Robert  had previously stated that communism was a dead letter in Russia. But if we characterize the communist state as heavy handed state control by a small group of self-perpetuating apparatchiks do you not have a nascent communist state in Russia (and with Putin at the helm is there a risk that this will in fact become ever more the state of things).  On the other hand, is there still an opportunity for an evolution into a more recognizable western style open political system or is this in fact a hopeless retrograde development? Note that Medvedev who ostensibly stood for the rule of law, opened the Magnitsky investigation and encouraged foreign investment and modernizing the economy is stepping down.

As an aside, if there is reincarnation I would like to come back as a sea gull because I love the ocean, I love how gulls glide on air currents, as far as I know no one or nothing eats them and since they are omnivorous and eat garbage the likelihood of starvation is remote.

Petr           
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 26, 2011, 12:40:36 PM
I like everything except the garbage part.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 26, 2011, 05:56:49 PM
A question to all you Russophiles and knowledgeable people-- Putin's announcement (cf., NY Times today) that he is running for President in 2010 (which if he wins two terms as is expected he will serve longer than Joseph Stalin), is that simply the recreation of the communist state in sheep's clothing? Robert  had previously stated that communism was a dead letter in Russia. But if we characterize the communist state as heavy handed state control by a small group of self-perpetuating apparatchiks do you not have a nascent communist state in Russia (and with Putin at the helm is there a risk that this will in fact become ever more the state of things).  On the other hand, is there still an opportunity for an evolution into a more recognizable western style open political system or is this in fact a hopeless retrograde development? Note that Medvedev who ostensibly stood for the rule of law, opened the Magnitsky investigation and encouraged foreign investment and modernizing the economy is stepping down.

No, Petr, it's not a recreation of the communist state -- not by half, not by a third, not by a quarter, and not by any infinitesimal fraction, -- Putin more than anyone else, more even than Yeltsin went out of his way to destroy the Communist Party permanently in Russia. There has been nothing, absolutely nothing, in any of his actions, legal and aboveboard or otherwise, to suggest otherwise. He's a capitalistic oligarch through and through. Seriously, do you think Putin believes in any of the old Communist ideology and/or rhetoric? Don't make me laugh. He hobnobs with Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi. He just had plastic surgery that gives him decidedly Asian eyes. He loves Western luxury and the good life. At the same time he has a healthy respect for the newly burgeoning middle and upper classes. He would be the very last person to bring back Communism to the Russian Federation.
 
As an aside, if there is reincarnation I would like to come back as a sea gull because I love the ocean, I love how gulls glide on air currents, as far as I know no one or nothing eats them and since they are omnivorous and eat garbage the likelihood of starvation is remote.

Petr

I hope there isn't any reincarnation because it's an untenable idea, intellectually. What is Hitler now, a lobster being boiled alive? Stalin, a cockroach being stamped under one's boot? What difference would or could it possibly make to these evil geniuses, since even or especially in such incarnations, they would not have the cerebral or sensory wherewithal to know what tortures were being perpetrated on them -- or for what possible reason -- ? In short, it's absurd.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on September 27, 2011, 12:05:12 PM
Quote
What is Hitler now, a lobster being boiled alive? Stalin, a cockroach being stamped under one's boot? What difference would or could it possibly make to these evil geniuses, since even or especially in such incarnations, they would not have the cerebral or sensory wherewithal to know what tortures were being perpetrated on them -- or for what possible reason -- ? In short, it's absurd.

I like to think of both of them in Hell, being punished for their crimes.


Quote
Putin more than anyone else, more even than Yeltsin went out of his way to destroy the Communist Party permanently in Russia. There has been nothing, absolutely nothing, in any of his actions, legal and aboveboard or otherwise, to suggest otherwise. He's a capitalistic oligarch through and through. Seriously, do you think Putin believes in any of the old Communist ideology and/or rhetoric? Don't make me laugh. He hobnobs with Tony Blair and Silvio Berlusconi. He just had plastic surgery that gives him decidedly Asian eyes. He loves Western luxury and the good life. At the same time he has a healthy respect for the newly burgeoning middle and upper classes. He would be the very last person to bring back Communism to the Russian Federation.

Putin put Russia back on the world stage.  The Russian people respect him.    Granted democracy is still a work in progress over there, but they'll get there eventually.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 28, 2011, 03:34:04 PM
Putin put Russia back on the world stage.  The Russian people respect him.    Granted democracy is still a work in progress over there, but they'll get there eventually.

They'll probably get there eventually, yes (and let's all, even those of us who are agnostics and atheists out there, pray for it), but probably also not any time soon. Putin has a lot of blood on his hands, not least in Chechnia, but pragmatically speaking he was perhaps the lesser of the many evils confronting Russia at the turn of the millennium. Given Russia's unfortunate past, and its penchant for repeating bad mistakes over and over again in the form of tyrannical leaders, it's somewhat of a surprise that some kind of charismatic fascist or communist leader hasn't seized power in that country yet...

But I think, as those new revisionist Russian history textbooks are so fond of saying of Stalin, that Putin, for all his faults, has in fact turned out to be a "good manager." Very soon after he came to the leadership he somehow "managed" to bring together the warring oligarchs and make a deal that left everybody with their own turf, which in turn left society (after all those drive-by shootings and assassinations of the 1990s) feeling relatively safe and stable, and himself and the central government free to be... quite weak, for all of their would-be authoritarianism, but surviving so far, in no small measure because of their ability to keep the peace. And it's true that until quite recently Putin was very popular, and even though his original teflon public persona has now worn off with most Russians, he will probably still win the next election, because despite everything he remains even now the lesser of many evils...

 I think most politically minded Russians are now expecting another "period of stagnation," like that under Brezhnev, only this in terms of capitalism of course as opposed to communism, with lots of empty political gestures and posturing but no real changes in the way of further democratization taking place. How long such a period can last could very well depend on high petroleum and natural gas prices on the world market, since Russia still depends on those extracted natural resources rather than homegrown industry to balance its budget and make up most of its GNP.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on September 28, 2011, 03:49:46 PM
Speaking of Stalin - I just watched a program on the Siege of Stalingrad where is was noted that some of what happened to look like good strategy on Stalin's part was accidental and bumbling that worked out in his favor.

According to much of what was said, Stalin depended on Khrushchev during that period as one of his military leaders and scapegoats.  Khrushchev's son says that his father kept expecting to be arrested or sent to Siberia for the failures that happened during the siege.  Only a lot of other bad decisions by both the Germans and the Russians allowed the city to withstand the siege.

Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 28, 2011, 04:10:01 PM
Speaking of Stalin - I just watched a program on the Siege of Stalingrad where is was noted that some of what happened to look like good strategy on Stalin's part was accidental and bumbling that worked out in his favor.

Stalin was an infamous bumbler when it came to war strategy (as indeed was Hitler after the initial brilliance of his Blitzkreig across most of Western Europe -- but keep in mind that Stalin never demonstrated any brilliance whatsoever, quite the opposite). Overall the Soviet military leadership during World War II makes for depressing reading. Its outstanding general, Zhukov, never flinched from throwing tens of thousands of troops into the Nazi meat grinder, unlike some (albeit not all) Western generals -- the eccentric Montgomery, for example, who always tried to spare his soldiers' lives, even on the front lines, if it were at all possible.

According to much of what was said, Stalin depended on Khrushchev during that period as one of his military leaders and scapegoats.  Khrushchev's son says that his father kept expecting to be arrested or sent to Siberia for the failures that happened during the siege.  Only a lot of other bad decisions by both the Germans and the Russians allowed the city to withstand the siege.

Khrushchev's memoirs, as entertaining as they are (and they are highly entertaining, I encourage everyone here to read the latest, unexpurgated versions), have to be taken with a huge grain of salt, because he was a great storyteller, a great raconteur (or anecdotalist, in English), so like all great storytellers (in my opinion) he embellished most of his reminiscences a little bit or a helluva lot, depending on his audience. The most famous instance of this is his sometimes (melo)dramatic, but more often quite humorous, account of Stalin's deathbed, attended by all of those like himself (most notably Beria) who were living in terror of losing their lives in the next purge and consequently couldn't wait for the grand old man to leave the planet permanently. In Khrushchev's account, the KGB chief Beria alternates between kissing the dying Boss's hand (when Stalin shows signs of reviving) and cursing him (when it appears that Stalin is about to kick the bucket).
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on September 29, 2011, 08:55:32 AM
I think most politically minded Russians are now expecting another "period of stagnation," like that under Brezhnev, only this in terms of capitalism of course as opposed to communism, with lots of empty political gestures and posturing but no real changes in the way of further democratization taking place. How long such a period can last could very well depend on high petroleum and natural gas prices on the world market, since Russia still depends on those extracted natural resources rather than homegrown industry to balance its budget and make up most of its GNP.
Basically I agree. My prior point, however, was directed more to the question of the degree of difference between a highly authoritarian state with control of the media, ruthless repression of any political opposition (including the willingness to use illegal means) and a heavy state involvement in the economy (whether directly through state ownership of the principle revenue generating segment of the economy, viz. the oil and gas sector) or indirectly through intimidation and defacto control over the oligarchs (viz., the fallout from the Khodorkovsky prosecution) and a weakened communist state which pays only lip service to its ideological underpinnings yet exercises all the means of repression and which is governed by a self-perpetuating political elite. Of course, I would have to agree that there has been progress since the bad old days (on the other hand one can argue that the repression is just as effective only it has become more sophisticated and not as Stalinist in nature) but the question remains, in what direction is the society headed. I recently read an article which indicated that young educated and professional Russians are increasingly leaving Russia to search for better opportunities in Europe and elsewhere (shades of East Germany). If this trend continues, I suspect the government will begin to clamp down on travel adding one more nail to the coffin of progressive hope.  The sad fact is that over Russia's long history, repeated invasions, occupations and political turmoil have created an inbred longing for stability in the Russian heart which prompts the willingness to accept the devil's bargain-- authoritarian rule for a guarantee of safety and stability. Hence Stalin's rehabilitation in certain segments of society.

By the way, as an ironical historical aside on Stalin's abilities as a military leader.  My Grandfather defeated Voroshilov and Stalin in the battle of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad and now Volgograd) during the Civil War. A fact that does not appear in their official biographies.

Petr               
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on September 30, 2011, 04:41:36 PM
My prior point, however, was directed more to the question of the degree of difference between a highly authoritarian state with control of the media, ruthless repression of any political opposition (including the willingness to use illegal means) and a heavy state involvement in the economy (whether directly through state ownership of the principle revenue generating segment of the economy, viz. the oil and gas sector) or indirectly through intimidation and defacto control over the oligarchs (viz., the fallout from the Khodorkovsky prosecution) and a weakened communist state which pays only lip service to its ideological underpinnings yet exercises all the means of repression and which is governed by a self-perpetuating political elite.

Well, this is the nub of the problem, I guess. Was the Soviet Union after the early 1950s, i.e., the death of Stalin (March 1953) still a totalitarian state or was it "merely" authoritarian? My own opinion is that it was some hybrid, existing between those two states, perhaps a bit or maybe even a lot like China in the early 21st century. While it's true that the government of Putin and Medvedev does control the mass media and more or less indirectly a lot of the valuable natural resources like oil and natural gas, at the same time, they do not, as the Soviet government even under Brezhnev did, restrict travel abroad to trusted party members, or seek to control what its citizens read or believe, even in public, nor is the right of assembly restricted much in any way, as far as I know.

Khodorkovskii was apparently prosecuted by the Russian state for tax evasion and other crimes because he broke the pact with Putin that the oligarchs could keep their corporate kingdoms intact from government interference as long as they stayed out of government itself. Khodorkovskii violated this unwritten (but no less binding agreement) when he decided to enter politics. Putin was afraid of him because Khodorkovskii had (and has) a lot of charisma, and might very well have met with a lot of success as the leader of a new and powerful political party, one to rival or even defeat Putin's own. It's the same old, indeed age-old problem of authoritarian governments everywhere -- whether monarchies in the Middle Ages or 17th-century France or modern 21st-century states like Russia and China -- "overmighty subjects" who seem to threaten not only their rulers, but potentially the stability of the entire realm.

Of course, I would have to agree that there has been progress since the bad old days (on the other hand one can argue that the repression is just as effective only it has become more sophisticated and not as Stalinist in nature) but the question remains, in what direction is the society headed. I recently read an article which indicated that young educated and professional Russians are increasingly leaving Russia to search for better opportunities in Europe and elsewhere (shades of East Germany). If this trend continues, I suspect the government will begin to clamp down on travel adding one more nail to the coffin of progressive hope.  The sad fact is that over Russia's long history, repeated invasions, occupations and political turmoil have created an inbred longing for stability in the Russian heart which prompts the willingness to accept the devil's bargain-- authoritarian rule for a guarantee of safety and stability. Hence Stalin's rehabilitation in certain segments of society.

But Stalin was a totalitarian ruler, and that's the main difference with Putin. Putin's government doesn't attempt to control every aspect of citizens' public, much less private lives, as Stalin's regime most certainly did -- right down to valorizing children who supposedly denounced their parents to the state for being class enemies (Pavlik Morozov). There's a lot of hemming and hawing about totalitarianism these days but apparently after a period of being unfashionable totalitarianism is back as a general concept for describing the Hitler and Stalin regimes, which despite their numerous differences nevertheless held certain key points in common -- such as overall social intrusiveness and overriding political violence to get their way.

I quite realize that you yourself are not arguing that Putin is like Stalin but I nevertheless want to make the differences abundantly clear, in case some of us aren't reading these posts very carefully.

It's true that Russians -- not only upper class but also ordinary middle class -- are buying property abroad, mainly in Europe, in case the Putin/Medvedev regime fails, or there's another major economic and financial catastrophe -- whatever comes first. The prospects aren't bright for Russia right now, and educated Russians know that. But I seriously doubt that the current Russian government or its immediate successors if they are of the same party will restrict travel or even immigration abroad.

By the way, as an ironical historical aside on Stalin's abilities as a military leader.  My Grandfather defeated Voroshilov and Stalin in the battle of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad and now Volgograd) during the Civil War. A fact that does not appear in their official biographies.   Petr

As always, I wish I knew more about the Russian Civil War so that I'd have at least a fair shot at guessing your grandfather's identity!
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on October 01, 2011, 11:32:37 PM
Another big difference, and it relates to this board, is that in Stalin's time, even mentioning the name "Romanov" could either get you shot or a long stint in a gulag.  Of course, that is not the case in Russia today.  People are not only allowed to talk about them, they can honour them.

There is no way Stalin would have allowed them to be canonized as Saints.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Elisabeth on October 16, 2011, 11:48:50 AM
Another big difference, and it relates to this board, is that in Stalin's time, even mentioning the name "Romanov" could either get you shot or a long stint in a gulag.

Actually the surname "Romanov" is extremely common in Russia, always has been. It basically means "offspring of Roman," and "Roman" has always been a common Russian first name for boys. The surname "Romanov" is and was almost as ubiquitous in Russia, today and yesterday, for centuries, as the surname "Ivanov" (which is basically the equivalent of "Johnson" in the English-speaking world, or "Jones"). So uttering the surname "Romanov" in Stalin's time would have been a completely innocent and ordinary, everyday occurrence.

Of course, that is not the case in Russia today.  People are not only allowed to talk about them, they can honour them. There is no way Stalin would have allowed them to be canonized as Saints.

Well, obviously no canonizations at all were carried out under Stalin, because even though on some level the Great Leader resurrected the Russian Orthodox Church for the purpose of mobilizing the masses during World War II (arousing patriotic, even nationalistic fervor was one way of driving back the Nazi hordes), he didn't countenance the creation of new saints. Stalin was at heart an incorrigible and often strident atheist, at least in his inner circle, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that he had attended a seminary during his youth in Georgia.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on October 16, 2011, 01:01:46 PM
The name Romanov is very common in Manhattan as well.  When one used to be able to pick up a phone book and look, the listings were endless.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on October 16, 2011, 05:51:07 PM
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The name Romanov is very common in Manhattan as well.  When one used to be able to pick up a phone book and look, the listings were endless

Sorry, I should have been more specific.  I should have said mentioining the Imperial Family was a no-no under Stalin.



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The name Romanov is very common in Manhattan as well.  When one used to be able to pick up a phone book and look, the listings were endless

I wonder if some of them are related to NAOTMAA.  It's possible, I suppose.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on October 26, 2011, 01:05:28 AM
Since this thread also mentions the flaw of capitalism, I thought I'd put this here.  Apparently, some are calling for the European Union to be dismantled due to the current crisis (Britain recently had a referendum is to whether they should withdraw, but those that wanted to pull out lost).  They are saying that the EU, like Communism, is a failure and should be scrapped. 

Would the countries be better off alone, where problems in one doesn't drag down the rest?  Or should the EU remain?  Of course, dismantling it is probably easier said than done.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Carisbrooke on October 26, 2011, 04:23:34 AM
   No referendum yet Tim, the politicians will not let us have one. The EU bandwagon rolls on bringing about yet more waste, more stupid EU laws & more levels of government, which coincidentally means more jobs for the boys. The vote in the houses of parliament the other day is a prime example that turkeys do not indeed  vote for christmas.  :)
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on October 26, 2011, 11:10:07 AM
So I'm guessing you would like to see the EU dismantled and join Communism on history's scrap heap of failed ideas.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Alixz on October 26, 2011, 07:26:28 PM
It certainly is, as you put it, a drag on its members.

They now know how the states that make up the US feel as each puts a drag on the Federal Government and because of that they drag on each other.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Carisbrooke on October 27, 2011, 07:08:41 AM
   I feel the initial cry of the EU "a free common market" just like communisms "peace bread & land" is based on a lie. The politicians have gone beyond the original mandate, giving most of us monetary union, political union & EU law. Current estimates show that during our 32 year membership the UK has spent over 85 billion pounds on this monster. So hopefully with a bit of luck the EU will slowly fragment & die like the Soviet Union before it. In todays paper there is a quote by Angela Merkel concerning the much troubled euro currency, ........it states

No one should think a further half century of peace and prosperity is assured. If the euro fails, Europe will fail.

   Everyone read into that what you will, but to me it sounds like a threat. By the way no prizes for guessing which way I would vote in a referendum.

   A common market YES No problem.

   A United States of Europe & all its trappings NO   
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on October 27, 2011, 10:55:17 AM
Sounds like scare tactics to me. Europe survived Napoleon and two World Wars, the collapse of the EU will not destroy it.

The EU might have been a good idea on paper (like Communism was), but it clearly doesn't work.  Time to scrap it and move on.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on May 10, 2013, 05:31:38 PM
Me, almost two years ago...


Quote
Some say that this is the beginning of the end of the United States, that, like the Soviet Union, 20 years ago, it will soon collapse and dissolve, with the larger States (Alaska, Texas, California, New York) becoming independent countries, and the smaller ones merging to form new countries.

I wonder if that will happen.


A new TV show premiered last fall that outlined this scenario.  It's called Revolution, and it airs Monday nights at 10:00 PM on NBC.  It has been renewed for a second season.

Revolution takes place in a post-apocalyptic dystopian future. Fifteen years earlier, a new technology had been developed by the U.S. Department of Defense to disarm opponents in the battlefield. The technology was based around inert air-populated nano-machines which are capable of nullifying electricity and self-multiplying. The technology was pursued by the Department of Defense and weaponized, but after deployment, the nano-machines spread quickly out of control worldwide and effectively disabled all electricity on Earth within a single night, ranging from computers and electronics to car and jet engines. Trains and cars stopped where they were, ships went dead in the water and fly-by-wire aircraft fell from the sky and crashed. Since the nano-machines remain active, power cannot be restored.

People were forced to adapt to a world without electricity over the next fifteen years. Due to the collapse of government and public order, many areas are now ruled by warlords and militias. Civilization has regressed to the era of feudalism.   The U.S. Government was one such government that collapsed and the country fractured into various new states such as the Monroe Republic, the Georgia Confederation, the California Commonwealth, and Texas.

The series starts with the surviving family: Ben, Charlie, and Danny, now living near what used to be Chicago, who possessed a pendant-shaped device (a USB flash drive contained in a pendant) that is the key to not only finding out what happened fifteen years ago, but also a possible way to reverse its effects. However, Sebastian Monroe, the General of the Monroe Militia and self-appointed President of the Monroe Republic, an area of the former United States east of the Mississippi River northward of Kentucky and the Carolinas, now possesses that power for himself seeking conquest of the entire former United States of America. The remaining Matheson family, joined initially by Miles Matheson, Aaron Pittman, and Nora Clayton now strive to counter the Monroe Militia. Monroe's new benefactor, Randall Flynn, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense who 15 years earlier ordered the deployment of the weaponized technology that caused the blackout, now seeks to fortify Monroe in his efforts after Rachel Matheson (Charlie and Danny's mother, who helped created the nano-machines, before they were corrupted by Flynn and the DoD) escaped from his custody.
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on October 31, 2013, 08:09:00 PM
I haven't been able to read any of these books but they look interesting and are on this subject:

The Black Book of Communism

Humberto Fontova has written a number of books on Castro, Che, Cuba Communsim. Note he doesn't have anything good to say about them.

Mao's Great Famine and the Trage3dy of Liberation by Frank Dikitter
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: Petr on November 04, 2013, 09:50:18 AM
Tim--Things have moved on. Rachel managed to get the elictricity restarted for a few moments at the "Tower" in time to let Randell launch nuclear missles which wiped out Atlanta and Philadelphia. It appears he was working on the sly for the "Patriots" a shadowy group originating in Cuba claiming to be the re-incarnation of the United States. The Monroe Republic is no more and Monroe is on the run. Aaron seems to have some ability to control the nano particles. Myles, Charlie and Rachel are hunkered down in Willoughby which is now under the control of the Patriots. Tom has decided to infiltrate the Patriots to destroy them from the inside in revenge for the killing of his wife (who was in Atlanta) but Tom's son has been sent to a special camp and brainwashed by the Patriots. Tom has managed to find him and is trying to re-program him.  So begins the second season.       
Title: Re: Why doesn't communism work?
Post by: TimM on November 05, 2013, 11:30:14 AM
I know, so are I'm enjoying the second season.