Author Topic: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?  (Read 107235 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Tania+

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1206
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #255 on: May 31, 2008, 07:36:04 AM »
The Soviet Union was a BIG mistake, but we don't have to worry about them anymore, nohow, noway; they is past history, long gone, fini, kaput, gone, lost souls, dregs, drains, killers of dreams, killers of human kind. May the find no rest in hades. Oh boy I feel better stating that and so does the NEW Russia !   : ) 

Tatiana+
TatianaA


Offline LisaDavidson

  • Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 2665
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #256 on: June 02, 2008, 04:46:19 PM »
The Soviet Union was a BIG mistake, but we don't have to worry about them anymore, nohow, noway; they is past history, long gone, fini, kaput, gone, lost souls, dregs, drains, killers of dreams, killers of human kind. May the find no rest in hades. Oh boy I feel better stating that and so does the NEW Russia !   : ) 

Tatiana+

Well, until the "New Russia" examines and atones for the many wrongs done under the Soviet regime, I am afraid it will all happen again. It's just how it goes. It's sad, and it's unfortunate, but sweeping it under the rug will only create speed bumps.

Offline Zvezda

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 146
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #257 on: June 04, 2008, 05:52:05 PM »
Quote
Well, until the "New Russia" examines and atones for the many wrongs done under the Soviet regime, I am afraid it will all happen again. It's just how it goes. It's sad, and it's unfortunate, but sweeping it under the rug will only create speed bumps.
Actually, Stalin had been denounced by the Russian Government as far back as 1956. Many of the abuses committed during Stalin such were rectified. Many of those determined to have been unjustly executed in 1937-38 were exonerated and those nationalities deported during the war were rehabilitated and permitted to return to their homeland. Stalin's theoretical and political mistakes, negative character traits, the violation of socialist legality and collective leadership, and the evolution of the cult of personality were all strongly denounced some 50 years ago.
Quote
The Soviet Union was a BIG mistake
The Russian people surely do not agree. Remember that in the referendum of 17 March 1991 the vast majority of the Russian people voted to preserve soviet rule which was later dissolved by corrupt burreaucrats headed by Yeltsin. Yeltsin's counterrevolutionary coup has had catastrophic effects not only on Russia's international prestige but on all facets of economic, political, and social life. It's been nearly 15 years since the establishment of this phony "Russian Federation" and the economy is still below the 1989 level. Russia for the past 15 years or so has been experiencing a profound life-and-death crisis, a new Time of Troubles characterized by economic breakdown, ethnic violence, a surge in crime, and a general moral colapse. If the situation in Russia from 1985-87 was preserved, not only the Russian people but also the world would be far better off.
« Last Edit: June 04, 2008, 06:01:16 PM by Zvezda »

Constantinople

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #258 on: June 05, 2008, 12:53:23 AM »
I was in both Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1991 when they were emerging from communism and the standard of living there was extremely bad except for the nomenclatura, who had scooped up the state assets that could be turned into businesses.  Life in Russia was much worse than in its communist satellites.  Kruschev tried to make life freer for Russians but it was nothing like a normal western country.  The country is now paying for years of communist abuse of the environment for example.  It is true that Boris Yeltsin created a new class of klepto capitalists and that he enriched himself to the point of about 2 to 6 billion dollars, none of whiich was used in a tasteful way (how much vodka do you need anyway) but he at least started to restore neglected state heritage sites like the Kremlin. 
     There is nothing phony about the Russian Federation.  It is internationally accepted as that and with oil sitting at over 120 a barrel and natural gas at a high, Russia is in a good position to distribute wealth more evenly so that it benefits all members of its society.  Russians have short memories if they think that living in a police state with border exit bans is better than a freer state.  Most Russians would not want to go back to the period when you could not even trust family members in terms of being state police spies.
    It is terrible that doctors working in the state health system and other well educated professionals are paid so poorly but at least now they have the option of starting their own businesses.

Offline Zvezda

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 146
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #259 on: June 10, 2008, 05:40:38 PM »
Quote
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.
17th century Russia had neither tractors nor motor vehicles. Almost all agricultural work was done manually or with draft animals. Because agriculture was backward and completely dependent on natural conditions, poor harvests and crop failures frequently occurred, leading to famine for millions of peasant farms. Prevolutionary Russia had a technologically backward agricultural system marked by low productivity and small-scale production. None of these conditions existed following post-war Russia.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2008, 05:45:07 PM by Zvezda »

Offline LisaDavidson

  • Moderator
  • Velikye Knyaz
  • *****
  • Posts: 2665
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #260 on: June 10, 2008, 06:01:04 PM »
Quote
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.
17th century Russia had neither tractors nor motor vehicles. Almost all agricultural work was done manually or with draft animals. Because agriculture was backward and completely dependent on natural conditions, poor harvests and crop failures frequently occurred, leading to famine for millions of peasant farms. Prevolutionary Russia had a technologically backward agricultural system marked by low productivity and small-scale production. None of these conditions existed following post-war Russia.

What you describe was true in most of the world in the 17th century - no motor vehicles, no tractors. The Communists did not invent the tractor, and Henry Ford was not a Red.

Offline Zvezda

  • Boyar
  • **
  • Posts: 146
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #261 on: June 12, 2008, 02:39:00 PM »
While of course conditions in rural areas in Russia are in poor conditions, the same could be said about most other countries. To attribute inferior rural conditions in Russia to Soviet power is not constructive. There exist analagous conditions in areas like Appalachia, southern Italy, Greece, and elsewhere even though the countries of these areas have been ruled by completely different politicians. In almost every country the rural population is considerably worse off than the urban population. Members of my family lived in very poor conditions in Armenia and were forced to leave the country after 1991 because they risked starving to death. But before soviet power there did not exist electricity, literacy or any kind of urban population in that country.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2008, 03:05:14 PM by Zvezda »

Offline Elisabeth

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2131
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #262 on: August 09, 2008, 04:08:10 AM »
Sorry, Zvezda, your arguments make no sense. Even back in the second half of the nineteenth century, during Bulgaria's war of independence from the Ottoman Empire, Russian soldiers sent to aid Bulgaria were heard to remark, "What are we liberating them from?" Because Bulgarian peasant homes, real houses built of brick or stone, were so demonstrably superior to Russian peasant izbas (huts) - and this was just the most outward sign of the general prosperity of the Bulgarian peasantry, as opposed to the Russian peasantry. The same situation continues today. I have traveled through the Bulgarian countryside, in the central and southern regions, and nowhere have I seen anything even remotely approaching the poverty of most Russian peasants.

Furthermore, when the Bulgarian leader Todor Zhivkov suggested to Khrushchev that Bulgaria be allowed to join the Soviet Union, Khrushchev responded, very pragmatically if a little cynically as well, "Think it over. If you join us, you'll be feeding at the common trough, and there's already not enough to go around." (I am paraphrasing.)
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #263 on: August 09, 2008, 10:25:11 AM »
The school at which I teach has a freshman symposium, a required course for all incoming students. This year the freshmen have been asked to read a memoir written by a man who came of age during the Cultural Revolution in China. We have also hired a new professor who comes to us from the University of St. Petersbrug, and while we were hashing out the book she offered a number of interesting observations.

1) the reason for the bad Sino-Russo relations during the 1960s was due at least in part to Mao's attempt to establish a cult of personality surrounding himself, and his resentment that at the same time he was trying to do this, the post-Stalin Soviet leaders were trying to rid themselves of the cult of personality that Stalin had erected around himself (and Lenin).

2) Svetlana (the professor) thinks that the two regimes should be viewed as asymmetric mirror images --- that the current Chinese government lags about fifty years behind the former Soviet Union in historical terms, but that there are enough similarities in their development and histories as Marxist states that we can predict how the Chinese communist experiment will eventually finish by looking at the events of 1985 -.

It was a fascinating disquisition. Anyone have any thoughts?

Simon
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Alixz

  • Guest
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #264 on: August 10, 2008, 02:18:21 AM »
Only that in reference to bringing electricity and autos and mobility to the general public, Stalin just happened to be the man in charge when it happened.

Another leader in the same time period would probably have done much the same and perhaps without the creation of the "cult" image which surrounded Stalin.  And another leader without Stalin's mental outlook and ego might have done the same without the executions and the camps and the repression of the ethnic groups.

I haven't done much research into the years after 1919 in Soviet Russia or the rest of Europe, but I did once speak about this with a Russian emigre who worked for me and I asked her if she thought that Soviet Russia would have developed differently if Lenin had not died so young and Stalin had not taken over when the communist government was still so new and unformed.
 
She told me that no American had ever asked her that question before and that she did think things would have been quite a bit different not only in Soviet Russia but in Russia's dealings with the rest of the world.

Would the Soviet Union have fallen (she called it a dissolution)?  She thought perhaps not, but that the country would have developed in a much different way.  By that she didn't mean that they wouldn't have have attained the "things" that make life easier, but that the whole concept of communism and the way that it was applied to Russia and how it was presented to the rest of the world would have been different.

As for poverty, all countries, including the US has those who live below the "poverty level".  No government of any kind has been able to eradicate poverty and assure that all of its citizens achieve a certain standard of living.  It doesn't matter if the country has a monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, a republic, or a dictatorship.  (Democracy not being the same as a republic.  No country truly has a democracy by strict definition of the word.)



Offline Elisabeth

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 2131
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #265 on: August 10, 2008, 03:45:12 AM »
As for poverty, all countries, including the US has those who live below the "poverty level".  No government of any kind has been able to eradicate poverty and assure that all of its citizens achieve a certain standard of living.  It doesn't matter if the country has a monarchy, a constitutional monarchy, a republic, or a dictatorship.  (Democracy not being the same as a republic.  No country truly has a democracy by strict definition of the word.)

As for poverty being part and parcel of every society, no matter how well off, you are perfectly right, Alixz. However, what I was pointing out in my comparison of Bulgaria and Russia is that Bulgaria has always had a higher standard of living overall than Russia. As far as I know, the vast majority of Bulgarians today do not live below the poverty line, as the majority of Russian citizens do. For that matter, while Russia (whether in the nineteenth century or in the twentieth, under the Soviets) has historically experienced repeated, large scale famines, Bulgaria has never once suffered a famine of any kind in its entire history. I think that's quite remarkable, and therefore noteworthy. Of course, a lot, even most of it has to do with Bulgaria's mild climate and very rich soil, but another factor was that even when Bulgaria was part of the Soviet bloc, it only underwent a relatively benign form of communism. Of course, there were concentration camps and the collectivization of agriculture, but private enterprise was allowed to continue on a very small scale. And because of its temperate climate, Bulgaria remained the font of agricultural wealth in Eastern Europe, in terms of its produce. In fact Bulgaria was feeding the Soviet Union, to a large extent.

But I think it's wrong to argue that the Soviet Union could have persisted for much longer than it did, even if Lenin's rule had given way to Bukharin's, and a benevolent form of the New Economic Policy had been permitted to continue past the 1920s. It's as if you were arguing that Nazi Germany could have persisted. The Soviet system was evil from the outset, and this is clear from its policy of setting up concentration camps for political and class opponents within months of attaining power. No system like this, I would argue, can produce much but more of the same. Stalin was virtually inevitable, and to argue otherwise is to fly in the face of history.

Simon, I don't agree that China is 50 years behind Russia in historical development. It has actually outstripped Russia by at least 50 years, if not more. This is because China's government is far more clever and pragmatic (even more patriotic) than Russia's, and it has its eye on the long term, as opposed to Russia's fixation on short-term profit at the expense of developing the nation as a whole. China is spending millions, even billions, on infrastructure like national highways, while Russia's leaders funnel their oil profits into private bank accounts in Switzerland. It's true that the Chinese leaders are holding on to their totalitarian government, but only for the nonce. They know which way the wind is blowing. What do you want to bet that sometime in the next 10 years they don't rename themselves the Chinese Social Democratic Party and retain power in a more open system of government? Russia is not democratic, by the way. It is thoroughly authoritarian. So how this Russian historian could say that "Russia is 50 years ahead of China historically" just boggles my mind. Russia is losing out to China in the Big Game of power politics, as is easily witnessed by the steady colonization of Siberia by the Chinese. It's happening under the very noses of the Russians, and they can't do anything about it. 
« Last Edit: August 10, 2008, 03:46:47 AM by Elisabeth »
... I love my poor earth
because I have seen no other

-- Osip Mandelshtam

Offline Louis_Charles

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 1498
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #266 on: August 10, 2008, 10:05:21 AM »
Elisabeth,

I think I was unclear about what she was actually trying to say. I don't think she meant that Russia was fifty years ahead of China in terms of economic success, but perhaps in terms of political evolution. Russia had ended the cult of personality just as Mao began it, and if your scenario is correct, i.e. that within a decade Chinese communism will evolve (or devolve, I suppose) into an authoritarian socialism, then isn't Svetlana correct?

There was a fascinating series of interviews and pieces this summer on NPR. They had begun a series on China prior to the earthquake, so they were in place to continue once it hit, and the coverage was extremely good. One of the things that struck me was the new accountability that the national government feels for the citizens. Angry parents were demanding to know why shoddy construction had been tolerated upon schools, which collapsed more easily than other buildings (and with far more catastrophic results). The government permitted expressions of anger, since most of the blame lay at the local level, and moreover the leadership engaged in a series of gestures to show solidarity with the suffering populations --- the kind of walkabout Elizabeth II does, and George Bush is unable to bring off. No one is suggesting that China is going to allow free speech, a free press or any of the other trappings of western democracies. But I think you are on to something when you say that they are more patriotic than the Russian leadership. To me, the most interesting part of the situation is the shared border between Russia and China. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the resultant chaos in the Russian military and in the relationships among the former Soviet republics has left China in a unique position to aggrandize Siberia and occupy the leadership role for those nations outside the western sphere, unchallenged by another non-democratic major power. And they are doing it. China is the major prop for the Sudanese government, for example, and cannot be persuaded to stop the aid that is making the Darfur situation possible. They have penetrated places like Angola with foreign aid, and occupy an increasingly influential role vis a vis the Arab world.

Simon
"Simon --- Classy AND Compassionate!"
   
"The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, so take snacks and a magazine."

Offline RichC

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 757
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #267 on: August 10, 2008, 11:54:24 AM »
It's amazing that no matter what happens in the rest of the world; no matter how things change and progress (think of China), Russia stays the same.  This is so incredibly striking!  As the NYT wrote yesterday, Russia is acting like an expansionist 19th century power while China, "...preaches, and largely practices, the doctrine of “peaceful rise,” avoiding confrontation abroad in order to focus on development at home."

An impoverished country with a poorly trained and poorly equipped, but enormous army.  This description could just as easily apply to the Russia of today, as it could to the Russia of World War II, World War I, the Crimean War or the Napoleonic wars.

Offline Robert_Hall

  • Velikye Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 6648
  • a site.
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #268 on: August 10, 2008, 12:14:41 PM »
Russia expansionist?  I do not see that.  Russia divested itself of the former SSRs. While China's influence in Africa is considerable, it is not in it for any territorial gain.
 As for Bulgaria,  I agree with elisabeth, the peasantry is better off than most, but it is a very small country, less mouths to feed. It is certainly not without it's problems however. On my last vist there, I still saw  the farmers  bring thier goods into  Sofia on donkety carts.  And the prejudice against the Romany, in particuler is very much  alive. But that seems be everywhere I guess.
Life may not be the party we expected, but while we are here, might as well dance..

Do you want the truth, or my side of the story ?- Hank Ketchum.

Offline RichC

  • Knyaz
  • ****
  • Posts: 757
    • View Profile
Re: The Soviet Union: What Kind of Mistake Was It?
« Reply #269 on: August 10, 2008, 02:57:06 PM »
Russia expansionist?  I do not see that. 

Um...

They just invaded Georgia, which is a sovereign nation.