Author Topic: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?  (Read 108243 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Lyss

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 139
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #240 on: March 28, 2008, 12:01:37 PM »
As a scholar of international politics, I do believe this post is very interesting to discuss. But since I see no documents or footnotes supporting the comments mentioned, I don't see myself participating in it. No offence, but as far as I can tell, everything posted without the mention of sources for these so called "facts", I consider opinions, fiction.
I'm writing this because I would realy enjoy a good source-based discussion. Only, reading this discussion, I see it going on forever. If you use valid sources for your comments, you can actualy come to a conclusion, which would benefit all.
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.

Offline LisaDavidson

  • Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 2665
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #241 on: March 28, 2008, 07:50:39 PM »
As a scholar of international politics, I do believe this post is very interesting to discuss. But since I see no documents or footnotes supporting the comments mentioned, I don't see myself participating in it. No offence, but as far as I can tell, everything posted without the mention of sources for these so called "facts", I consider opinions, fiction.
I'm writing this because I would realy enjoy a good source-based discussion. Only, reading this discussion, I see it going on forever. If you use valid sources for your comments, you can actualy come to a conclusion, which would benefit all.

As a poster, you are entirely welcome to start a good source-based discussion. We cannot guarantee, however, that it will remain source based, let alone ensure that the quality will be "good". This is a Forum, so yes, there will be opinions - and this topic is sufficiently broad so that as you say, the discussion could go on forever. That does not necessarily mean that there will be no facts presented. and if you feel a comment is not factual, that you cannot challenge the other posters by asking for sources for items presented as facts.

This is not an academic Forum, no one is publishing papers about what is discussed here, and you are entirely welcome to not participate in this particular thread if it does not meet your standards. I am terribly sorry that you regard opinions as fiction. Life may be dull for you on occasion.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #242 on: March 29, 2008, 03:04:51 AM »
A few comments.  First of all, while the Tsarist regime was not ideal, to hae something like the soviet union replace it was not the sort of justice taht most Russians had in mind.  Secondly whether the death toll from various soviet excesses and purges was 4 million or 60 million, they still rank highly among the world's great tragedies.  The third point is that most of the blame for the Soviet union goes to the communists but I believe that communism may have been avoided if Tsar Nicholas had created a working democracy in his time and had converted his absolute monarchy into a constitutional one.  He had numerous opportunities to do this, most significantly in 1905.  I realize that it is conjecture to say that communism would not have occurred if this had happened but it is my feeling that a lot of blood shed may have been avoided.

Offline Lyss

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 139
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #243 on: March 31, 2008, 06:12:31 AM »
I am terribly sorry that you regard opinions as fiction. Life may be dull for you on occasion.

I love fiction, I realy do. Maybe I mispresented myself: what is seem to have noticed on this particular tread, is that lot of opinions are being presented as facts, without sources, so I just put a general reply to start using sources. Because if you start using opinions as facts, you start writing fiction. Now, in this last comment I'm particularly sighting Zvezda. So, if you start to comment those posts without sources, you're doing the same as her/him. In that case, the discussion can go on forever. I'm not saying you should make this into an academic forum, just tell us where you get your information from, not only in sake of the discussion, but sometimes I like to look things up (maybe other members do the same, I don't know), or buy the books there are being mentioned. (Thanks to this forum I've already bought Romanov Autumn, Gulag Archipelago and The camera and the tsars)
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #244 on: March 31, 2008, 08:31:03 AM »
Well in my case it is based on a knowledge of Russian history that began in university and continued as a interest.  If a democratic Duma had been allowed to emerge just after Tsar Nicholas' coronation in 1896, it would have had enough time to develop by the time 1914 and may have had enough time to overhaul the Russian civil service.  Of course this is conjecture. If you like it is fiction or extrapolation.  The facts are quite clear:
1. this did not happen
2. Russian enterred a disastrous war in 1905 without a modern navy
3. this forced Russia out of its East Asian expansion policy and into the Balkans
4. The Balkans sphere of interest led to friction with Austro Hungarian Empire
5. which led to the First World War
6. This led to the rise of Communism and the revolutions which brought communism into Russia
All of these were the result of autocratic decisions made by the Tsar.  It is highly propbably that any of the chain of decisions would have been made differently after democratic discussion in a Duma.
These are general facts and do not need citing
By the way, I don't see a lot of sources cited in your remonstrations.

Offline Lyss

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 139
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #245 on: March 31, 2008, 08:59:51 AM »

These are general facts and do not need citing
By the way, I don't see a lot of sources cited in your remonstrations.


So, let me understand this clearly: when you post 'general facts" that are of topic to the subject being discussed, you don't have to cite them, but when I ask for sources  (like where do al those numbers of dead people come from) I have to source my question?
Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #246 on: March 31, 2008, 09:42:55 AM »
exactly
those are the rules of academic research
obviously you don't need to cite the fact that the Russian Revolution happened but the number of dead from any war is not an accepted truth or is rarely so needs a source

Offline Tsarfan

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1848
  • Miss the kings, but not the kingdoms
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #247 on: April 01, 2008, 11:05:26 AM »
The facts are quite clear:
. . .
2. Russian enterred a disastrous war in 1905 without a modern navy
3. this forced Russia out of its East Asian expansion policy and into the Balkans
4. The Balkans sphere of interest led to friction with Austro Hungarian Empire
5. which led to the First World War
6. This led to the rise of Communism and the revolutions which brought communism into Russia
All of these were the result of autocratic decisions made by the Tsar.  It is highly propbably that any of the chain of decisions would have been made differently after democratic discussion in a Duma.
These are general facts and do not need citing . . . .

First, Constantinople, I should say that I am in general agreement with your premise that Russia (and its monarchy) missed its greatest opportunity to weather or even thrive in the 20th century when Nicholas turned his back on reform and liberalizing sentiment, be it in 1896 or 1905.

However, I am not quite so sure all your assertions can stand without the citing of some authority.  You seem to be saying that Russia exerted herself only in the Balkans when her eastern expansion hit the shoals at Tsushima.  In other words, you seem to be suggesting that Russia had to keep herself busy at something and -- if not the Pacific rim -- then it must be central Europe by default.

Pan-slavism, which was the real impetus behind Russia's charting a collision course with Austro-Hungary, had both a political and an ideological life largely independent of events in the Pacific.  To suggest that there would have been no active Russian Balkan policy had her failures further eastward not denied her an outlet for her expansionist energies is to overlook a very long strain of Russian history, going back at least to Ivan IV and acquiring renewed energy under Alexander III.

And I don't really think the presence of a Duma would have made much difference.  For starters, Nicholas would have almost certainly maintained unilateral control of foreign policy and the military, even had he voluntarily granted a Duma.  Even when he granted a Duma under the gun in 1906, he successfully reserved these prerogatives to the monarchy.

And I would not look to a quasi-democratic institution anchored in propertied interests -- which is what any voluntarily-conceded Duma would very likely have been -- to be any less jingoistic than a Tsar.  Remember that most of America's 19th-century expansion westward, including the forcible seizure of lands from and the renunciation of treaty obligations to native Americans, was done by legislative fiat or executive action sanctioned and funded by a willing Congress.  In fact, pan-slavism was one of late tsarism's most popular policies, with even significant elements of the intelligentsia signing on with enthusiasm.

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #248 on: April 01, 2008, 12:46:47 PM »
Tsarfan
    You make some good points.  My point was not a Duma coexisting with a Tsar who had executive powers but a constitutional monarch and that form of monarch would have no powers to control a Duma.  The reality of a country with a polilty with 90% illiteracy meant that only propertied adults and the middle class would have enough education to cast votes until the education system was revamped.  I am not saying that the Duma would not have made some of the mistakes that the Tsar did but noone will know.  My point was that by 1917, the Duma that existed did not have enough experience to save Russia and the Tsar from the Bolsheviks. 
I will reread a book called The Russian Empire and the World 1700-1917 by John P LeDonne who covers the period of the Balkans in substantial detail.  His contention was the same as mind that Tsarist Russian was continually expanding its borders and that when the Eastern Asian possibilities were cut off and the southern possiblities were restrained by Britain and France (in what is called the Great Game), then the last possibility that Russia had at that time was to increase its political interference and its military presence in the Balkans.  It already had an interst and a presence in this area before 1905 but this increased after 1905 (for example, the Russian Turkish war of 1875).
When I have the time to read that I will post what i find

Offline Elisabeth

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2131
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #249 on: May 13, 2008, 11:19:00 AM »
Zvezda is always arguing that the Soviet Union was not a mistake. But I would urge her to hop on a train, leave Moscow, travel 50, 500, or 5,000 miles into the countryside, alight at any rural station, and imbibe the sights, sounds, and smells of present-day rural Russia, which might best be described as the 17th century with intermittent electricity.

Had the Soviet Union not existed, I suspect that the 21st-century Russian "glubinka" (provinces) would be in no way inferior in terms of economic conditions or living standards - or indeed population density - to, say, the American Midwest.

The current, dire state of Russia - demographically, politically, ecologically - is the direct consequence of 70 odd years of misrule by ideological fanatics and bureaucratic lowbrows, who culled the population of its best and brightest.
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #250 on: May 13, 2008, 11:53:17 AM »
Your post sums up my views on communism generally.  The only saving grace I can think of is that the 90% of the population who were illiterate peasants learnt to read and were educated.  They also got somewhat better housing and the medical care for the vast majority got better as did mobility.  That vast majority also paid a very high price for their marginal improvements.

Offline Elisabeth

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2131
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #251 on: May 13, 2008, 12:25:07 PM »
Your post sums up my views on communism generally.  The only saving grace I can think of is that the 90% of the population who were illiterate peasants learnt to read and were educated.  They also got somewhat better housing and the medical care for the vast majority got better as did mobility.  That vast majority also paid a very high price for their marginal improvements.

Thanks, Constantinople, for your kind remarks. I should, however, point out that mass literacy was already dramatically increasing in Russia well before the October Revolution of 1917. So the idea that the Bolsheviks were completely responsible for the great social mobility of the early decades of the 20th century is probably quite misplaced. If you read any history book about late tsarist, pre-revolutionary Russia, it becomes quite clear that social mobility was on the upswing, and that further progress in that area was NOT by any stretch of the imagination dependent upon Marxism-Leninism and its principle of extirpating class enemies like the bourgeoisie and the so-called "kulaks." Rather, if a constitutional monarchy had continued, further social progress no doubt would have continued with it, as a natural development, and one which, left to its own devices, would have resulted in a far more socially egalitarian and productive society than any that the Soviet Union ever managed to create.
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #252 on: May 13, 2008, 03:04:08 PM »
Interesting that you should say that because one of my friends' grandfathers was the last education minister under the Tsar and he quit because he couldn't get his  policies implemented.  Even with the new policies, the illiteracy rate at the end of the Tsarist period was stil about 80%.  You are right about social mobility was somewhat improved but one reason why most of the capitalist and industrialists developing Russia were foreign was that the Tsar didnt trust Russians and wanted to stop them developing a middle class.  Thats why Nobel was in Russia developing the oil industry.
I agree about the constitutional monarchy but Nicholas and Alexander made that an impossibility.

Offline Phil_tomaselli

  • Graf
  • ***
  • Posts: 314
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #253 on: May 28, 2008, 02:34:29 PM »
We all like to think that because we're smug middle class persons in "lliberal" "democracies" that life for us if we'd lived in Russia c 1917 would be worse after the Bolshevik revolution.  Statistically we'd ALL have been either peasants (and not happy peasants singing as we bring in the bounteous harvest by the banks of the Volga) or factory workers doing 14 hour shifts in a pre-Victorian industrial hell hole.

Ponder this then consider that under the Bolsheviks

"90% of the population who were illiterate peasants learnt to read and were educated.  They also got somewhat better housing and the medical care for the vast majority got better as did mobility".

Then ponder why Stalin was incredibly popular (and he was) and why Russia was able to mobilise to defeat Hitler's Germany in 1941/2.  And why Nicholas was incredibly unpopular and Germany won in the East in WW1.

Phil T

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #254 on: May 28, 2008, 03:10:25 PM »
first of all most of the people who post on here are perhaps at the lower fringes of the middle class.  I would hazard a guess that middle class these days would be a college education and a household income upwards of $150,000.  The Russian middle class was perhaps 1% and I suppose most of the people who have pro Tsarist views would have been in a situatiion where they were barely staying alive with a annual income of $50. 
   Having said that, while life was hell under the Tsar it got much worse under the Bol;sheviks with the exception of education.  If you were suicidal you might voice an unfavourable comment about Stalin. I imagine that Lenin had some degree of popularity but I would be surprised if anyone alive at the time had much postive feeling for Stalin.  He was a brutal thug.  He died 4 days after my birthday (he had his fatal stroke on teh day I was born) and I like to think he could read my mind about him.