Author Topic: Why doesn't communism work?  (Read 146351 times)

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #225 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.
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #226 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.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #227 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
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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #228 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.

Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #229 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.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2010, 11:50:13 PM by TimM »
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #230 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.
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #231 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?

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #232 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.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 06:23:28 AM by Elisabeth »
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #233 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.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #234 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.
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Constantinople

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #235 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.
« Last Edit: August 09, 2010, 08:51:16 AM by Alixz »

Offline TimM

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #236 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.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #237 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].
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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #238 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.
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Offline Robert_Hall

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Re: Why doesn't communism work?
« Reply #239 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.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2010, 01:01:39 PM by Robert_Hall »
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