Author Topic: Why doesn't communism work?  (Read 139620 times)

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Offline Silja

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #240 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.
 
 
 

Offline Silja

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #241 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.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 02:06:37 PM by Silja »

Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #242 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. ???
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #243 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.

Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #244 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.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #245 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.

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #246 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!
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #247 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.

Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #248 on: August 09, 2010, 11:24:27 AM »
and the action (the crime) and the mental capacity to understand it are two separate issues.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #249 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!!!
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #250 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.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #251 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.
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Offline Silja

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #252 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.  
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 02:57:56 PM by Silja »

Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #253 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.
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #254 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.