Author Topic: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?  (Read 108265 times)

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Offline Bev

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #120 on: October 02, 2006, 10:09:06 AM »
FDR wasn't a socialist, he was a Keynesian, and not all that much of one.  Keynes advocated the economic policy of government spending in times of economic downturns that would put people to work.  FDR agreed with Keynes, but did not believe that big deficits were beneficial in the long run - Keynes thought that the U.S. government could afford to run very big deficits, which could easily be paid back when the economy turned upwards again.  Every program implemented by his administration created jobs which directly benefited the economy and the citizens of the United States.  FDR didn't socialize, centralize or create any "entitlement" programs, contrary to conservative rhetoric.

A rhetoric that by the way, obscures and distorts the facts.  The greatest expansion and growth of government came under Richard Nixon (of whose administration the bitterly humorous remark was made, "we're all Keynesians now.") and Ronald Reagan, both of whom even managed to outspend Johnson ( per capita)

Alixz

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #121 on: October 02, 2006, 07:00:58 PM »
The Social Security that we are just about running out of isn't an entitlement program?  Just anyone who has to pay taxes on it because they make more than the taxable threshold.  Everyone one of them will say, "We are entitled to it."

And most of those people were fooled into thinking that "Social Security" was going to fund them in their old age.

Also, Roosevelt doubled or tripled the size of the government and created more agencies and sub agencies than anyone before him. 

Nixon ad Regan may have "spent more" but Roosevelt created the agencies that needed the money to spend.  I wasn't talking about spending up large defecits, I meant the actual government employed body count rose under Roosevelt.  Those people who are employed by the government.  We now have the descendents of Roosevelt's agencies and their lateral and vertical offspring.

And the idea that the government should be in charge of our 'security' in our old age is a Socialist notion.  The idea that the government in any way should be responsible for our financial well being is socialistic.

Offline Bev

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #122 on: October 03, 2006, 01:37:57 AM »
No, social security isn't an "entitlement" program, it's an insured pension fund and along with medicare are the two most efficiently run government or private programs in the U.S.  No one is  being tricked into believing anything.  It's the best, most reliable investment most people in this country will ever make, and is better administered then any program of its kind, private or public.

Did FDR increase and expand government?  No.  The first thing he did was cut benefits for 500,000 veterans and spouses.  FDR certainly proposed much legislation to promote jobs and career training, but unfortunately, the supremes saw it differently.

Roosevelt didn't "triple or double" the size of the government.  Every single program,  promoted was funded by the appropriate government department.  Of all the successful legislation, regulations and programs created by FDR/Truman, the greatest was the Montgomery G.I bill, the Federal Housing Authority and social security - those three programs brought more wealth, economic growth and freedom than the world has ever known.

I wasn't "talking about Nixon and Reagan having spent more" (George W. Bush has that dubious honour) I was informing you that the greatest expansion of the government by creating whole new agencies and departments, was Nixon, who by the way, was the president who first used the phrase "entitlement programs"  (of which there is nothing inherently wrong with entitlements such as providing a decent pension for our parents and grandparents, who sacrificed so much to make this country a good place to live, or providing an education to a young person who has served in our military and has shown a willingness to die for our country.)   Government employment peaked during the Reagan years.  And guess what president contracted government more than any other president?  Bill Clinton, who also spent less than any other president with the exception of Eisenhower.

Of course, maybe it's me, but I see nothing wrong with Grandma collecting her benefits that she and her employer paid to the fund all the years she worked.  Why shouldn't we honour our elderly, pay our respect to them, thank them for their contribution to the world?  On the other hand, we could treat them in the same manner as they do in socialist countries - they can stand outside in freezing or burning weather shoveling and sweeping the sidewalks and roads.  That's the way the socialists "take care of everyone" - I must say I prefer our government's insurance program.

Now as to the claim that Roosevelt passed more laws and entitlements - how about s&ls and banks insuring their deposits, keeping enough cash on hand to handle rushes, or government audits which expose malfeasance or misfeasance in office?  Any of those laws an "entitlement" we need to get rid of?  Or maybe the building regulations - do we really need stairways AND elevators, insulation, inspected plumbing?  Which of these regulations/laws are "socialistic"?  Do we really need for all of us to pay for a navy?  Perhaps that cost should be borne by those entreprenuers who use the sea lanes and need them patrolled.  If your house caught on fire, would you want the community fire dept to rescue you, or do it yourself? 

Everyone is a socialist, because we all live in societies.

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #123 on: October 03, 2006, 06:39:53 AM »

The Social Security that we are just about running out of isn't an entitlement program?  Just anyone who has to pay taxes on it because they make more than the taxable threshold.  Everyone one of them will say, "We are entitled to it."


In modern political parlance, the term "entitlement" program carries the connotation of a program where people are perceived to get something for nothing, such as Medicaid or social welfare programs.

Social Security is paid for by a tax of 15.3% (half from the employee and half from the employer) on all earnings up to around $90,000 per year.  Medicare is paid for by an additional tax of 1.45% on all earnings, with no cap.  These are essentially programs designed to pool risks, just as private insurance programs do.

At the time the Social Security system was created and the age of retirement set at 65, the average worker died at age 67.  So Social Security was initially funded on the assumption that the average payout period would be only two years.  One has to remember the climate in which this system was created.  There was massive unemployment.  Legions of working children who traditionally took care of their aged parents were themselves unemployed and unable to care for anyone.  Social Security was part of a comprehensive plan to create job generation programs to put the young and healthy back to work and to tax their earnings to create a risk pool that would fund at least a minimal retirement income for those who were too old to participate in job generation programs.

If that's socialism, it is no more so than the first Worker Compensation program that Bismarck created in imperial Germany to keep injured workers from either dying of poverty or living on the public dole.

The U.S. Social Security system was never touted by the government as a full income stream for a decades-long retirement of golfing and cruises.  The people who chose to rely on it as their only retirement plan find themselves with no more than it was ever intended to provide -- a subsistence level of income.  In fact, the plethora of defined benefit pension plans that unions began to demand in the 1940's and that became ubiquitous in American industry were created on the widely-understood premise that social security was nothing more than a subsistence plan and never would be.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #124 on: October 03, 2006, 01:24:56 PM »
I am new to this thread because I didn't truly understand what was being asked.  "What kind of mistake was it?"  I'm still not sure I understand the question.  I think though that it was a mistake in the application and understanding of Marx.

If you don't understand the question, Alix, that's quite understandable, haha, because I deliberately phrased it as vaguely and as broadly as possible, hoping to stimulate an interesting discussion amongst our members, who, it seems to me, have not been participating with the usual enthusiasm and frequency of late!

I disagree, though, that Lenin and Mao necessarily "misunderstood"  Marx. Rather, should I say, they understood Engels, who supposedly in his later years said that Russia (China was not yet an option) could skip the capitalist stage and try immediately for socialism, because capitalism in Russia was in its infancy, therefore immature and easy to disregard. As I recall the Russian "mir" or commune (as evidence of Russia's so-called uniquely socialist traditions amongst its people) played a significant role in his logic, although it's been some years since I studied this question, so please correct me, someone, if I'm wrong.

However, I have to say that even if we ignore Engels' dying words on the Marxist fate of Russia, we're still left with Marxist-inspired, if not technically "pure" Marxist states that led to an absolutely monstrous and unprecedented number of victims amongst their populations. This seems to me a very good argument that Marxism, whether pure or "impure," when applied to reality, that is, to real governments, institutions, and economies, without any saving admixture of capitalism and democracy, has horrific results in human terms. Or, to put it another way, how many more of these disastrous experiments is humanity supposed to endure before we decide that Marxism, taken on its own, simply doesn't work?

For that matter, is there realistically speaking any sign at all that capitalism is dying off, as Marx assured us it would?   

I have said in other threads that things might have been much different had Lenin not died so soon after the "revolution".

I doubt that things would have been so very much different. There were already concentration camps under Lenin; not only members of the aristocracy and the White army were arrested in droves by Lenin's Cheka, but even (and especially) members of other political parties, and that included members of other revolutionary parties, like the Mensheviks and the SRs. There's no reason to believe that Lenin was any more tolerant of dissent than Stalin was - Stalin was just more paranoid, more sweeping in his crackdowns. When you think of Lenin, though, and his death, whether early or not, you should think of his heirs. Who were they? Stalin, bloodthirsty, and Trotsky, arguably almost as bloodthirsty. There's no reason, as far as I'm concerned, to think that the Soviet Union would have been much different under Lenin, Trotsky, or Stalin. Terror has its own imperative,a tendency to escalate and become ever increasingly more all-encompassing.  And there was already a Terror under Lenin, not only during the Civil War but also even during the so-called benevolent NEP period.

I worked with a woman who had recently imigrated to the US from Russia in the 1990s,  While I called it "the fall of the Soviet Union", she called it "the disolution of the Soviet state".  Interesting, isn't it?

I think it's only natural that many Russians regret the "dissolution" of the Soviet empire. It's a kinder, gentler way of saying that the Soviet Union simply fell apart.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2006, 01:30:26 PM by Elisabeth »
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Alixz

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #125 on: October 06, 2006, 09:41:51 AM »
For the time being, since I have to go back and check my sources, I will stand corrected about FD Roosevelt.  I still don't think that increasing government is always about who spends the most money or creates the biggest national debt.  It is about the increase in government employees and their salaries and their pensions and other "perks".

And Social Security is hardly "sound" if you listen to any news broadcast.  It may have been years ago, but not now.  I too see no reason for Grandma, not to collect against the money she and the government paid in over the years, but the amount that is paid out often exceeds the amount paid in and many who never worked collect for other reasons, such as the adult child of a person already on Social Security.

I think I dislike Roosevelt because he intended to be president forever.  And I am eternally grateful that the laws were changed to prevent that from ever happening again.  I have read many biographies of Eleanor and Franklin (I find Eleanor facsinating) but for some reason, I dislike Franklin and his policies and his obssessive possessive stranglehold on the presidency.  I think the man would have liked to be "king".  Just my humble opinion.

And while all of the programs you mentioned (elderly,veterans,children) etc are very important, what is it about us that thinks that our government and not ourselves should be responsible for our wellfare.

I just love to hear that the "state" or the "federal" government should send more money to a certain project.  Where on eath does anyone think that money comes from?  Thin air?  It comes from our pockets in the form of taxes.

At least the colonists had somewhere to go and someone to fight to ge rid of the "taxation" that they objected to.  We have nothing. 

And I never said that the government intentionally "fooled" people about Social Security, but people by nature hear only what they want to hear.  And to the virtually uneducated masses of the twenties and thirties who had no concept of retirement income and who usually died before they ever retired, it was their income and they would be able to live on it and the government was providing it.

This discussion has gone in so many different ways.  I have truly enjoyed all of the differing opinions.

Offline Bev

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #126 on: October 08, 2006, 10:34:55 AM »
Alix2, I know exactly what you mean by "increasing government" and the answer is still the same - Nixon. 

Social security is sound, it has always taken in more than it has paid out and will continue to do so for years.  When it stops taking more in than paying out, the solution is to raise the retirement age to 67 and/or take the salary cap off.  Adult children of persons on social security do not collect social security unless they have lifelong disabilities.  Secondly, people in the 20s/30s lived as long as we do - in fact, once adulthood is reached, the average lifespan of 72 years hasn't changed since the turn of the 20th C.

I think that what really troubles me is your statement  "the government and not ourselves" - we are the government.  There isn't a government and "us", because our government is for, by and of the people.  In my opinion, this is Russia's greatest problem - the inability to see government as part of themselves for which they hold the responsibility and unfortunately, that's becoming a pervasive view in this country along with the inability to compromise which has always been the genius of America.

As to getting rid of taxes, I hear this quite often and my question would be which taxes?  The taxes that fund fire departments, ems services, highways, roads, bridges, public schools, the army, the navy, the air force, building inspection, food and drug safety, water supplies, sewage treatment, a national park system, research and development of cancer drugs, river navigation, power dams and hundreds of other "projects" that make life not only bearable for all of us, but good for most people or just those direct welfare payments which are less than 1% of the entire national budget?

The reason we are responsible for each other, is because we're not animals.  We're human beings, and if our species is to evolve and survive, then we must protect those who are weak and vulnerable.  We're not wolves who abandon the less productive, we care for them, and try to keep in mind, "there but for the grace of God, go I."

Offline BorbonFan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #127 on: October 08, 2006, 10:59:39 AM »
"The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?" A satanic mistake, like all socialism and communism: "The origin of Marxism is within a satanic mystery cult - something which very few Marxists are aware."  ("Karl Marx?" by Georgi Marchenko)
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Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #128 on: October 08, 2006, 12:01:48 PM »

Secondly, people in the 20s/30s lived as long as we do - in fact, once adulthood is reached, the average lifespan of 72 years hasn't changed since the turn of the 20th C.


According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age at death for a person born in 1900 was 47.3 years; for a person born in 1950 it will be 68.2 years; and for a person born in 1991 in will be 75.5 years.

Paradoxically, the longer one lives, the longer one is likely to live.  A person who attained age 65 in 1900 was likely to live another 11.9 years; a person who attained age 65 in 1950 was likely to live another 13.9 years; and a person who attained age 65 in 1991 is likely to live another 17.4 years.

Since Social Security was funded by a tax on all workers, the combination of the fact that workers who reached age 65 were likely to live just over another decade with the fact that many people who entered the workforce by age 20 would not be alive by age 65 resulted in the average length of retirement for all people whose wages funded Social Security being around 2 years in the mid-1930's.  The increase in length of retirements that is now burdening the Social Security system results more from the fact that fewer people die during their working years and less from the fact that people who make it to age 65 are living longer.

I don't know what any of this has to do with the topic of this thread . . . but it's interesting, huh?

Offline Tsarfan

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #129 on: October 08, 2006, 01:05:15 PM »

"The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?" A satanic mistake, like all socialism and communism: "The origin of Marxism is within a satanic mystery cult - something which very few Marxists are aware."  ("Karl Marx?" by Georgi Marchenko)


Book edited by Jay Rogers . . . the same guy whose website has a link for ordering a "Satan Ringtone" for your phone.  Jeez.

Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #130 on: October 09, 2006, 01:50:53 PM »
Satanic Ringtones?   Sign me UP!
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Offline RichC

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #131 on: October 09, 2006, 01:58:16 PM »
The Satanic Ringtones.  Sounds like a rock group.

Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #132 on: October 09, 2006, 02:43:45 PM »
Just as an aside, it's interesting to me that as a culture we have no problem identifying Hitler and Nazi Germany with the Satanic, but when it's a question of Lenin and Stalin's Soviet Union, well, then it's all a big joke, haha. I think there are many different reasons for this - the primary one being that Marxism-Leninism to this day hides beneath a cloak of egalitarianism and social justice. But it's also a matter of art. Hitler himself was no mean artist, contrary to popular belief; he was at the very least attuned to the artistic talents of contemporaries like the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl and the architect Albert Speer. Riefenstahl's film  Triumph of the Will continues to exert its uncanny, dreadful glamour to this day, an entire half-century after it was made. By contrast the Soviets under Lenin and Stalin seem unconscionably drab and dreary. Those bulky figures and unflattering grey uniforms - so unlike the muscular style and stylish black of the SS in uniform. Watch a film of the Nazi army goosestepping its way to victory - almost inevitably, a shiver of fear will go up your spine, even now, all these decades later; watch a similar film of the Soviets and their annual martial parade in Red Square and it's hard not to laugh!   
« Last Edit: October 09, 2006, 02:47:44 PM by Elisabeth »
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Offline Louis_Charles

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #133 on: October 09, 2006, 02:58:47 PM »
I have no trouble identifying either collection of people as "evil", and if asked "how evil?", my response would be "evil enough". "Satanic" may be useful if you believe in a "Satan", but it doesn't mean anything to some people (myself included).
You are certainly correct about the impact of Triumph des Willes, though; when I was in high school it was screened for my political science class (screened being the operative word in those pre-DVD, video days) and I can still remember classmates admitting that they had found the images of Nazism so powerful that they fell under the spell of Riefenstahl for the length of the film. She was an artist, albeit an immoral one. Was there anyone in the Soviet Union working at that level? Everything I have seen runs to the standard of those boring propaganda posters exhorting the peasants to get working for Uncle Joe.

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Offline Elisabeth

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Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #134 on: October 09, 2006, 03:43:53 PM »
I would say that in Stalin's Soviet Union, in terms of filmmakers, Eisenstein was working at the same level as Riefenstahl in Nazi Germany, but as far as I know his filmmaking was restricted to historical epics, e.g., his film based on the life of Ivan the Terrible. For some odd reason the Bolsheviks never cottoned on to the propaganda value of having their own party rallies filmed by a genius like Eisenstein.

Stalin strongly identified with (and influenced) Eisenstein's favorable depiction of Ivan the Terrible, but IMHO most Soviet citizens themselves would not necessarily have made the connection between the two leaders, at least not on the conscious level. On the subconscious level - well, that's a whole different ballgame, anything is possible.

I think the Satanic is a useful descriptive term, whether or not you believe in Satan, because it evokes the uncanny, at least in the Western context. There is in fact an entire literary and artistic tradition of the Satanic in Western culture which is very different from the portrayal of Satan in Russia. In the West Satan is traditionally a magnificent figure, a Danteesque and Miltonian fallen angel, too proud and vainglorious to remain a mere servant of God. In this tradition Satan is as glamorous as he is evil. Whereas in Russian culture Satan and demons in general are small, petty creatures - dismal, drab, and nondescript - rather like Soviet apparatchiks, as a matter of fact!



... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam