Alexander Palace Forum

Discussions about Russian History => The Russian Revolution => Topic started by: TimM on December 06, 2015, 07:22:01 AM

Title: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: TimM on December 06, 2015, 07:22:01 AM
This really didn't have anything to do with Writing Alternate History, so I split it off into its own thread.  

One has to wonder if so many would have backed Lenin, if they had any idea of the abyss he would ultimately cast Russia into.  The regime he ushered in was many times worst that any Tsarist one.
Title: Commuism
Post by: Превед on December 06, 2015, 08:06:38 AM
One has to wonder if so many would have backed Lenin, if they had any idea of the abyss he would ultimately cast Russia into.  The regime he ushered in was many times worst that any Tsarist one.

Tim, even if you have a Tourettes-ish need to regularly sound off against those evil Soviets, your un-balanced outbursts are not productive for budding young writers seeking inspiration.
Consider:

- Yes, the Soviet Union was a genocidal dictature, but
- Very few of NII's subjects actively backed Lenin as much as
- Violently opposed the bancrupt Tsarist regime
- Which already had led Russia into an abyss called WW1.

I can very much imagine it was like the Syrians today facing the choice between the dictator Assad and the fanatic Islamic State.
Title: Commuism
Post by: TimM on December 07, 2015, 06:16:15 AM
As far as I know, I've broken no rules here.  As long as I continue to observe said rules, I'll say whatever I jolly well please, thank you very much. 

Your sarcastic comment of comparing me to those unfortunate to suffer from Tourette's syndrome was uncalled for, if fact it borders on a personal attack, something that is NOT allowed here.  In the future, I would suggest you refrain from such comments,  If you don't, I will delete the post in question.  Disagree with me all you want, but lose the sarcastic attitude, please.  Consider yourself warned. 

As far as those "evil Soviets" are concerned, I never said that.  Lenin and his cronies were evil yes, but I don't think the whole country was.  Most of the Russian people at that time did not know what was happening until it was much too late.  If anything, I feel sorry for those people.  The whole revolution was about trying to make thing better, not worse.
Title: Commuism
Post by: Kalafrana on December 07, 2015, 08:20:37 AM
Speaking for myself, I have no problem with Tim's previous remark, or others he has made on the same lines.

I don't in fact notice them much, and would contrast my reaction with that to posts made by some others (who, thankfully, seem to have gone quiet recently), 'Oh no, can't X stop harping on about people's looks?'

Russia under Nicholas II was not a happy place for many of the population, but there was no Tsarist equivalent of the Great Purge.

Ann
Title: Commuism
Post by: TimM on December 08, 2015, 06:18:46 AM
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Russia under Nicholas II was not a happy place for many of the population, but there was no Tsarist equivalent of the Great Purge.

Exactly.  Compared to the horror story called the Soviet Union, Tsarist Russia was the Garden of Eden, IMO. 
Title: Commuism
Post by: Превед on December 08, 2015, 09:22:10 AM
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Russia under Nicholas II was not a happy place for many of the population, but there was no Tsarist equivalent of the Great Purge.

Exactly.  Compared to the horror story called the Soviet Union, Tsarist Russia was the Garden of Eden, IMO.  

Insofar as the Garden of Eden lacked free public education, free public healthcare and many other services for the masses. But hey, God still roamed the environs of Eden. Wasn't that roughly NII's attitude? What do people need all these fancy new amenities for, when they have God? Let other countries develop and prosper, you Russia, have God in your midst.
Title: Re: Commuism
Post by: TimM on December 08, 2015, 11:45:18 AM
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Insofar as the Garden of Eden lacked free public education, free public healthcare and many other services for the masses. But hey, God still roamed the environs of Eden. Wasn't that roughly NII's attitude? What do people need all these fancy new amenities for, when they have God? Let other countries develop and prosper, you Russia, have God in your midst.

I'm sorry, but to me it just doesn't balance out.  

Nothing was free in the USSR, it was paid for in the blood of millions who were sacrificed on the altar of Karl Marx's twisted ideology.   If Nicholas II was God, then Stalin was Satan and the USSR was Hell.  
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: Kalafrana on December 08, 2015, 12:24:01 PM
Even without all the oppression under the Communists, the Soviet Union was a markedly unequal society. If you were regarded as a good Communist, you had access to a good education, good jobs, etc etc. If you weren't, your situation was in practical terms little different from being a have-not under the Tsar's.

Ann
Title: Re: Commuism
Post by: Превед on December 08, 2015, 12:24:25 PM
Nothing was free in the USSR, it was paid for in the blood of millions who were sacrificed on the altar of Karl Marx's twisted ideology.

Now we agree! Nothing was done about anything in Tsarist Russia and that lethargy was both charming and lethal. Progress came at a brutal speed in the Soviet Union, paid for, as you so rightly say, by the blood of millions sacrificed in a genocidal fight against imaginary enemies.

Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: Превед on December 08, 2015, 12:31:08 PM
Even without all the oppression under the Communists, the Soviet Union was a markedly unequal society. If you were regarded as a good Communist, you had access to a good education, good jobs, etc etc. If you weren't, your situation was in practical terms little different from being a have-not under the Tsar's.

Agreed concerning the Stalinist era, strongly disagreed concerning the post-Stalinist Soviet Union.

Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: TimM on December 08, 2015, 03:23:45 PM
Communism no doubt looked good on paper.  A society where classes no longer exist and everyone is equal, I can see why so many fell for it.  

However, what Karl Marx failed to take onto account was human nature and that is why his ideas were doomed from the start.  You are always going to have power hungry maniacs out there, no matter what, and Communism was a perfect way for them to get into power.  They said that capitalism was evil, that the rich had everything and the poor had nothing.  Well, look at how the Communist bigwigs lived, in their nice big houses, driving fancy cars that they had shipped in from the West, a wazoo of servants.  Stick these guys in a castle, and they would be right at home.  They were the biggest hypocrites that ever walked this Earth.

Look at Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu of Romania, for example.  They were essentially an Emperor and Empress, and they even had an Heir Apparent, their oldest son, Nico, waiting in the wings to take over.  Of course, the 1989 revolution ended that, but you see what I mean.

And there is North Korea, which is now ruled by Kim Jong-Un, the third in the Kim Dynasty (Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il being his grandfather and father respectively).  A whole religion has practically been built around these guys.  From what I understand, the word "Communism" had now been deleted from the North Korean Constitution, so they're not even pretending anymore.  

In short, while Communist countries claimed to have ended class warfare, that was, like everything else about Communism, a lie.  The only thing that really changed were the names of those in charge.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: Превед on December 08, 2015, 04:51:46 PM
However, what Karl Marx failed to take onto account was human nature
True, Engels called Marx's theories "scientific Socialism", after all.

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You are always going to have power hungry maniacs out there, no matter what, and Communism was a perfect way for them to get into power.  They said that capitalism was evil, that the rich had everything and the poor had nothing.  Well, look at how the Communist bigwigs lived, in their nice big houses, driving fancy cars that they had shipped in from the West, a wazoo of servants.  Stick these guys in a castle, and they would be right at home.  They were the biggest hypocrites that ever walked this Earth.

Hypocrites may be extremely irritating, but the real problem with Communism wasn't first and foremost the standard of living of the nomenklatura. Which was rather modest compared to most feudal and capitalist elites. The real luxury in Communist societies was freedom and even the nomenklatura did not enjoy the degree of freedom most people in Western societies had. The lack of freedom in the form of democracy and free elections, freedom of speech, fair trial and other civil liberties was one of the two real problems (the other being lack of incentives in a state-controlled economy), because it stiffled all critique, so that real problems seldom were adressed and never solved, mismanagement and injustices rarely exposed and incompetent, corrupt and criminal officeholders (like the Ceaușescus) not punished.

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And there is North Korea, which is now ruled by Kim Jong-Un, the third in the Kim Dynasty (Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il being his grandfather and father respectively).  A whole religion has practically been built around these guys.  From what I understand, the word "Communism" had now been deleted from the North Korean Constitution, so they're not even pretending anymore.
Wow. Well, that's a good thing for the idealistic Communist cause, I suppose :-)

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In short, while Communist countries claimed to have ended class warfare, that was, like everything else about Communism, a lie.  The only thing that really changed were the names of those in charge.
This is far too simplistic. The interesting question is: How much of the increase in living conditions in the Soviet Union as compared to Tsarist Russia can be attributed to Communist equalization / redistribution of wealth and how much was due to the general technological advance experienced by any society going through industrialisation?
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: starik on December 08, 2015, 05:43:35 PM
Perhaps a factor in the increase in the Soviet living standard can partially be explained by the ability of totalitarian governments to "make the trains run on time." Under Nicholas, the infrastructure was so riddled with inefficiency and corruption it was inadequate to meet the needs of the economy and under stress completely collapsed. The basic production and delivery of food and fuel is a case in point. The Soviets made strong compulsory efforts, but they too would fall prey to inevitable corruption and the decay that results from the lack of free incentive.

In wartime Nazi Germany, Albert Speer managed to actually increase production in spite of Allied bombing, but that was largely due to slave labor. Forcing people to work can accomplish wonders.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: Forum Admin on December 08, 2015, 07:49:29 PM
Not totally accurate.  The infrastructure, specifically the railroads were equally efficient as any other in Europe at the time.  The problem arrived only with the onset of the First World War.  The infrastructure was designed to service the main cities, Moscow, Petersburg, Kiev etc and not to service the needs of the military at the front.   It was this problem that created the problems of delivering fuel and food to the major cities.  Without World War I, the monarchy may well have continued for some more years.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: starik on December 08, 2015, 10:24:23 PM
"Trains run on time" was partly metaphoric for overall control of all aspects of the country, economic and social. Perhaps "efficiency" was too narrow and specific a word. "Sufficient" or "adequate" may have been better. Civilian use is simply rehearsal for military use. The First World War is what I meant by "stress." It didn't work then because it was never sufficient as defined by strength and resiliency. It's weakness and fatal flaw was revealed by war - not caused by it. Imperial war production could not match Stalin's war production, even after three years. Because of defect, whether that be, in part, inefficiency or additional causes. It takes the same infrastructure whether it's guns or butter. War or peace. Germany had much less problem delivering and maintaining a well equipped army to the east, because of infrastructure. And their efficiency.

As railroads go, European states had need of far less track to reach effectively all their land. You weren't as far from a railhead anywhere in Europe as in Russia. And if you can't service the whole country, you're inefficient - and/or insufficient. Doesn't really matter if they run on time - just that they do run. Incidentally, Germany, the leader of European railways, designed their railroads specifically for military use to move men and equipment quickly where needed, much like Eisenhower, so inspired, planned the American interstate highway system. The economic benefits followed, like they did on Roman roads.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: starik on December 08, 2015, 11:36:10 PM
I should quickly correct and say I shouldn't have said European railroads could reach "all" of the country, but effectively enough that other transport getting to one wasn't a great obstacle. And that Eisenhower was not inspired by the railroads, rather the Autobahn. But in the age of Bismark the railroads necessarily linked the same geographical objectives as war and commerce.

But on topic, I wonder if any of the later Tsars ever envisaged a New Economic Plan or Five Year Plan to prioritize national economic development, or felt the need to. Did the Tsars secretly favor on some level a backward Russia? Nothing an ancien regime loves more than yesterday. 
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on December 10, 2015, 12:02:02 PM
Yes, Lenin and Stalin created the one of the most brutal dictatorships of the 1900s. The only country that equaled them in terms of mass killing of there own people was Red China. Nazi Germany was a distant third in terms of millions of people killed.

 in the USSR even doing the slightest thing wrong could get you sent to the Gulag or shot. Sometimes doing nothing wrong could get you sent to the Gulag or shot because some official had to fill a quota.

A joke from the period a man is being beaten by a Chekist and yells out "I've done nothing wrong" the Chekist says "I know"

People were sometimes treated badly because of what their grandparents did or were on till the fall of Communism.

Close relatives were force to spy on each other.

Children were taught in school to turn in their parents.

Being taken prisoner under the Tsars was no great crime. escaping from a prison camp was reguarded as something heroic. Under Stalin returning Prisoners of war were often sent to the Gulag as traitors. Escapes were often treated as spies. To be listed as missing in action under the Tsars didn't hurt your family. Under Stalin be listed as missing in action put you down as a possible deserter or traitor and your family would suffer for this and this lasted until the end of the USSR.

Sadly it seems the high ranking Chekists who carried out these mass killing are honored by Putin. There victims aren't
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: TimM on December 10, 2015, 01:50:13 PM
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Yes, Lenin and Stalin created the one of the most brutal dictatorships of the 1900s. The only country that equaled them in terms of mass killing of there own people was Red China. Nazi Germany was a distant third in terms of millions of people killed.

Yeah, that's true.  Of course, the USSR lasted a lot longer than Nazi Germany did.

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in the USSR even doing the slightest thing wrong could get you sent to the Gulag or shot. Sometimes doing nothing wrong could get you sent to the Gulag or shot because some official had to fill a quota.

A joke from the period a man is being beaten by a Chekist and yells out "I've done nothing wrong" the Chekist says "I know"

Yeah, just send some poor bloke to the gulags for the hell of it.  Just another day in the horror story called the USSR.



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People were sometimes treated badly because of what their grandparents did or were on till the fall of Communism.

Geez, being guilty for something your grandparents did.  That would be like arresting someone in modern Germany because their grandparents were members of the Nazi Party.


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Close relatives were force to spy on each other.

Children were taught in school to turn in their parents.

A common occurrence in totalitarian regimes. 


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Being taken prisoner under the Tsars was no great crime. escaping from a prison camp was reguarded as something heroic. Under Stalin returning Prisoners of war were often sent to the Gulag as traitors. Escapes were often treated as spies. To be listed as missing in action under the Tsars didn't hurt your family. Under Stalin be listed as missing in action put you down as a possible deserter or traitor and your family would suffer for this and this lasted until the end of the USSR.

After World War II, many Soviet POW's begged the Allies not to send them back to the USSR.  They feared that they would be killed because Stalin regarded them as traitors for surrendering.  He expected them to fight to the death, even if the battle in question was unwinnable. 


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Sadly it seems the high ranking Chekists who carried out these mass killing are honored by Putin. There victims aren't

Putin looks at the USSR through rose tinted glasses.  He sees what he WANTS to see, not what is. 

And, of course, he was a KGB colonel, so that would colour his view of the USSR as well, as he actually benefited from it.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: starik on December 11, 2015, 11:34:30 AM
I get the impression that most Russians today have answered the question, "Was it worth it?" by saying, "Yes."
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: edubs31 on December 12, 2015, 08:55:09 AM
I get the impression that most Russians today have answered the question, "Was it worth it?" by saying, "Yes."

Which sounds roughly as cynical as certain (white) Americans who will acknowledge the horrors of slavery, but then talk about how future generations benefitted from it. As in better to have your ancestors in bondage if it means you now have the luxury to live comfortably in a free society.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: TimM on March 16, 2016, 04:27:32 PM
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I get the impression that most Russians today have answered the question, "Was it worth it?" by saying, "Yes."

No, it wasn't.  The price was way too damned high.  How many millions died in the horror story of the USSR.  Even today, no one is quite sure.

Putin has said that the end of the USSR was a tragedy.  Somebody needs to sit this guy down and show him the statistics of the millions that died during the USSR's nearly three quarters of a century existence.  He might want to rethink his comments. 
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: JamesAPrattIII on March 16, 2016, 05:45:33 PM
Putin was a second generation Chekist.  No one has ever checked out what his father did during his career as one. If someone did I think some people would be shocked or disgusted. Remember Putin as a member of the KGB was a member of the Soviet elite. The fall of the USSR was a shock to him as the fall of the Russian empire was to a member of the Russian nobility. For the "Former people " and others who were not part of the Soviet elite or were non Russians in countries that were part of the USSR and are now independent it is a different matter.
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: Brycik on March 16, 2016, 09:12:16 PM
Excerpts from a recent article in The Guardian.

Putin’s assessment of Lenin’s role in Russian history during Monday’s meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in the southern city of Stavropol was markedly more negative than in the past. He denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia’s last tsar along with all his family and servants, killing thousands of priests and placing a time bomb under the Russian state by drawing administrative borders along ethnic lines.

In Monday’s comments, Putin also criticised the Bolsheviks for making Russia suffer defeat at the hands of Germany in the first world war and ceding large chunks of territory just months before it lost. “We lost to the losing party, a unique case in history,”

The completel article can be found here. Worth a read

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/25/vladmir-putin-accuses-lenin-of-placing-a-time-bomb-under-russia
Title: Re: Was the USSR a living Hell?
Post by: TimM on March 17, 2016, 07:22:13 AM
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Putin as a member of the KGB was a member of the Soviet elite. The fall of the USSR was a shock to him as the fall of the Russian empire was to a member of the Russian nobility.

Of course, unlike said Russian nobility, Putin has done quite well for himself in the post-USSR. 

It's unlikely that Putin would be where he is now if the USSR were still around.  He'd be just another cog in the machine, not a de facto Tsar.


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Putin’s assessment of Lenin’s role in Russian history during Monday’s meeting with pro-Kremlin activists in the southern city of Stavropol was markedly more negative than in the past. He denounced Lenin and his government for brutally executing Russia’s last tsar along with all his family and servants, killing thousands of priests and placing a time bomb under the Russian state by drawing administrative borders along ethnic lines.

Ironic, since Putin used to be a hard hard Communist back in the day. 

I will check out that article.