Author Topic: Why doesn't communism work?  (Read 139630 times)

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Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #255 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.
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #256 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).

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #257 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.
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Offline AGRBear

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #258 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
« Last Edit: August 10, 2010, 01:29:08 PM by AGRBear »
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #259 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

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #260 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.

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Offline AGRBear

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #261 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
« Last Edit: August 15, 2010, 04:02:20 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

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Offline AGRBear

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #262 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

« Last Edit: August 17, 2010, 07:29:36 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

Joubert, Pensees, No. 152

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #263 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).


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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #264 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.

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #265 on: September 02, 2010, 06:30:27 AM »
Alix don't  you normally chide people for going off topic?

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #266 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.
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #267 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.

Offline AGRBear

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #268 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....
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 01:30:19 PM by AGRBear »
"What is true by lamplight is not always true by sunlight."

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #269 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.