Author Topic: Why doesn't communism work?  (Read 139538 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #270 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!
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #271 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.

Alixz

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #272 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)

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #273 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?

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because I have seen no other

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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #274 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.)
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 04:06:43 PM by Fyodor Petrovich »

Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #275 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."

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #276 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.

« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 04:36:24 PM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #277 on: September 07, 2010, 05:23:34 PM »
I think the term is nausea inducing.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #278 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.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2010, 08:00:56 PM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline Kalafrana

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #279 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

Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #280 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.
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Naslednik Norvezhskiy

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Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose....
« Reply #281 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.! :-)
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 03:07:55 AM by Фёдор Петрович »

TsarAlexeiII

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #282 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.

Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #283 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.  

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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #284 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.
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