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Messages - klava1985

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1
For Pete's sake. The Return of MG is set in the 16th Cent, right? How would we know if it were a true story and to what extent all the details were true? It's just a comparison of phenomena. Re mental illness and the persistence of delusions, mental illness, untreated, breaks down the brain. It makes it harder and harder to function normally, including to think normally (ie to remember who one "really" is) and to deal with details like cleaning your house.

2
I knew someone who was raised as a sort of old-money Eastern Establishment princess. She died either at her own hand or was shot in the head by her abusive redneck boyfriend in a remote area of Montana. They lived like pigs in a small cabin without water, drank at the local bar, and drove around with guns in four-wheel-drives. This was not how she was raised or educated and if you'd known her even a few years previously you would never have recognized her. Even her voice changed. Just saying.

3
The Russian Revolution / Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« on: November 22, 2009, 06:36:03 PM »
To Elisabeth's point about whether the new Russia is a Stalin or a Hitler, I too am creeped out by what I see. However, I don't think Putin and his minions will engage in mass murder on anywhere near the scale we have seen in the past. Why? Because they don't need to. They are secure in their power *and in the direction of the flow of wealth*. They'll kill off an occasional journalist, including my good friend Paul Klebnikov (who wrote a lot about the gangster structure in Russia and how the whole Chechen conflict was really a turf war between the Chechen and Moscow-based (topped by Yelstin) mobs. I don't doubt they would roll into a province and subdue it, but I don't think you'll see the kind of democide (nice term) you saw in the past.

China on the other hand...there's something to really worry about.

4
The Russian Revolution / Re: Why Lenin? Why Stalin? Why Hitler?
« on: November 22, 2009, 06:21:10 PM »
I didn't understand Elisabeth's question to be about genocide but about something larger. So I think democide is a better term. In all of these cases we are talking about a reorganization of the population to support a structure of power, with an ideology that may justify in this in some way but really it's about controlling the means of production or raw materials. For Germany, Hitler wanted absolute power and also control over a larger geography. It was necessary to raise capital, deflect the attention of the populace to a goal that kept them from looking too hard at the organization of power (ie, he had to offer people a deal, just as capitalism offers people walmart to get them to chill), and to remove people from the land he wanted. The Jews were the start. He was after all the slavs as well. He probably really believed his own delusions, but that doesn't mean there wasn't a drive to power and a need for a new economy and arrangement of resources to support it.

Stalin too was a sociopath, less delusional, and less stupid. I personally don't think he bought into the ideology as much, just manipulated it. He was a *mobster*. Think about it that way, if only as an intellectual experiment. A godfather. How would you reorganize a country like Russia, if you were a godfather, if you wanted you and your gang to control everything, from the land to the grain to the factories? And add in, so messed up in terms of attachment that you couldn't even form a healthy relationship with your own gang...? I think Stalin is unique. Probably not the only individual ever to have his psychological profile, but the only one ever to get into this position.

I think Bullock's book is really insightful and valuable in terms of looking at the parallels and the backgrounds of the two men and realizing that they really were psychopaths. But I think that Hitler's aims were expansive--he wanted more land. He wanted the assets of the Jews and the removal of other populations that might stand in his way. Stalin may have gotten there if he'd lived forever, but when you start with Russia you have enough on your hands. So his aims were more about reorganization and restructuring. He wanted *everyone's* assets. The previous system was too inefficient with all those middlemen--the landowners and merchants, etc, each with their cuts. Plus, wankers like Stalin and Lenin could never rise to the top in a system like that. You had to be a *born* wanker.

But why not ask a broader question. Is Europe unique? Is the 20th century unique qualitatively or only quantitatively? Why Mao? Why Pol Pot? Why this or that Inca (they moved populations around exactly as China is now doing with Tibet)? Why Moctezuma? Why [pick your African dictator]? I think you could find a lot of examples of democide performed in the interest of reorganizing power and economic structure so that wealth flows to the top in a different way. 

Re Montefiore, I think the biggest issue with him is not the content but the style. He's so florid... When you have chapter titles like "The Bolshevik Temptress" in a history novel, you just have a hard time taking the guy seriously. You think, go write a novel. Which is exactly what he's done. I highly recommend Sashenka, which follows a young revolutionary from 1917 through to her execution as an Old Bolshevik. It's not the GREATEST writing, but it's full of great detail, from customing to archival trial records. He is much better suited to this type of writing, and you can pretty well trust in the general accuracy of the setting, situation, etc, even if the character herself is fictionalized.


5
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: February 26, 2008, 12:35:38 AM »
cont'd...

And think again of the other colonial empires. The English? Nice people? I don't think so. Very civilized within their own borders, utterly barbaric without. Still are. Africa being a case in point. Africa is always the case in point. Any idea how many people have died over sugar and tea? And English history during the medieval period wasn't exactly about treating your own people kindly. There just were only so many people you could kill back then.

The Japanese? My God...the stories about what they did in China and Korea etc will make your skin crawl.

So it it just numbers we're talking about? Was the Soviet regime just quantifiably more evil, or was it qualitatively more evil? Is it fundamentally different if you murder your own people or if you pay someone else to murder theirs when they happen to be in the way of your economic policy? What if *they* (the Soviets) kill 10 million, and you are only responsible (and indirectly, bec you only provided the money and the guns, and oh yeah a few advisors and maybe some mercenaries) for a million or so? Is it just a matter of containing collateral damage?

I'm not sure there's really anything new under the sun. The numbers were higher in Russia, but the mentality? The amorality? I think there are non-communist, even non-totalitarian systems that have been as bad. They just took it outside and did it in the dark.

Does this justify Stalin? Does this justify a system that enables a sociopath to that degree? No. I think even Stalin was horrified at the extremes to which he was able to go, by the end. No one stopped him. Unbelievable. It wasn't just Stalin. The Russian people rolled over and gave him their throat. There was a guy who sat in a basement executing Polish officers with a pistol. Thousands. 8-10 hours per day, a shot to each neck. Just a day's, week's, month's year's, several years' work. What is UP with a person like that? Wouldn't you rather take a shot to your own neck than go back to work at that task, day after day after day? Even the life of my family isn't worth that. Like I said, I think even Stalin was horrified at the extent to which people were willing to go. His subjects were like algae, like lichens, just fighting for a foothold, really. Willing to do whatever it took for a few moments of sunshine. Stalin was like a kid testing limits, and no one set any.

I think utter disgust is a reasonable response.

6
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: February 26, 2008, 12:32:39 AM »



The Soviet Union began with revolution, but the totalitarian nature of it and other regimes in the 20th century was previously unknown in previous annuls of recorded history. Of course people suffer in revolutions, but that is completely beside the point.

The government which followed the collapsed Tsarist state and its successor Provisional government practiced an intense hatred and oppression against its own people. It destroyed all kinds of resources and did untold environmental damage. It murdered tens of millions of people, the number of which will never be known. The Aral Sea has virtually disappeared due to Soviet contempt for the environment. It will take many generations for the former Soviet Union to recover from the hateful policies of its state.

And this we could not say was due solely to revolution.


Lisa,

I agree, the regime that followed the Russian revolution was despicable and possibly unprecedented. It had its own special patina of horror... well, there was a lot of atrocity going on in the 20th century, not all of it atrributable to communism, but much of it attributable to totalitarianism (I would argue that Pol Pot, for example, was not really a communist, but a tribal monster). I might not go as far as to say it was the worst in history...perhaps in recorded history, but not in glimpsed history... see Charles Mann's 1491 for a revised view of the Inca empire. But still, at least as ugly as it's gotten so far.

I would still argue, though, that the American Revolution was out of proportion to its cause...that the response was excessive in regard to  the impetus, that if we'd stayed an English colony and turned out like Canada things wouldn't be THAT bad, and the loss of life and general upheaval would have been less. I would also argue that we wear blinders about the cost of our system. To the Native Americans, to the slaves, to the laborers, the unionizers, the coal miners mowed down in corporate massacres, the interned Japanese, and the possibily soon-to- be-rounded-up "illegal" Mexicans... was our approach as bad as Stalinism? Of course not. But there was a cost, a cost disproportionate to the gain, and mostly unsung. And I would repeat my earlier point that capitalism outsources its atrocities. So, we don't turn our guns on our own people as much. But what is the difference? People are people. Is it better that we pay death squads to wipe out entire Latin American villages/regions? That we undo democratic elections in other countries? That we support dictators who disappear their people and gas ethnic minorities? We're not great on the environment, but again we outsource the damage. What's happened to the environments of South America, the Middle East, and Africa as a result of our political and economic policies?

Capitalism is built on colonialism. Extraction is its root.

And certainly the growth of our country was utterly dependent on colonialism and on slavery. So I guess it depends on which side of the gun you're on in terms of how repressive you view a particular system. We're nicer to our own people. But an El Salvadoran villager's life is worth just as much as yours or mine.

Which system to live under? Well, I'll pick ours, of course. (Well, actually, I'd prefer the vacation packages and healthcare of Western Europe.) But in terms of worldwide damage done, we're probably a close second or third to Russia and China. Though I would also say that the responsibility for some of the damage is shared by the regimes and groups we've colluded with in other countries.


7
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: February 25, 2008, 11:36:58 PM »
cont'd...

And then you might ask: what's the point of it all, anyway? Russia modernized rapidly (and extremely unevenly)--to what end? Obviously, there needed to be improvements in the quality of life among the peasants and workers. Would this NOT have occurred under almost any other scenario in which the autocratic system collapsed? Was the amount of gain worth the cost in life, and suffering, and worth the cost to the Russian soul? Was it worth being transformed into a nation of thugs and psychopaths and post-traumatic stress victims and alcoholics? All this, just to be a super power? Hey, I live in a super power. Who cares? If Russia had fragmented into a dozen smaller countries with no real standing in the world, what would be the loss, existentially?

So, it would be Sweden. It would be Canada. It would be New Zealand. Is that such a bad life? Would more modest "progress," under less severe conditions, and with a less repressive regime, actually have been preferrable?

The means employed were terrible. They were used according to the premise that the ends justify the means. But what were the ends? To what end has the Soviet Union and its successors come? (The end of dying by low birth rate, it seems, and being swallowed by Islam in a generation or two, face the facts.) And shouldn't it always be the opposite if you mean to be a revolutionary? Shouldn't the means always be *worthy* of the ends you seek?

And, finally, were not those who rose up in protest against the brutality of the Soviet regime the true heroes? Weren't they justified? And if so, weren't the means used to repress rebellion (if you are doing the right thing, there will be no rebellion), truly inexcusable? If the revolution is the people's will and in the people's best interest, then why was there so much need for repression?

The most damning aspect of the Soviet regime was its refusal to let people emigrate. If people want to leave, it means you're not doing a good job. If you're keeping them there by force... what is the logic? How can you argue that it's a superior system, when you have to force people to stay?

8
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: February 25, 2008, 11:25:59 PM »
Hi Zvezda...

It's nice to have someone on this board who has a very different point of view and who has very different resources and statistics at his or her disposal. It would be helpful if everyone would cite their sources for how many died when, etc.

It is hard to establish a causal relationship vs. a temporal one for some of the alleged improvements brought by Stalin, though. In America, many say that Ronald Reagan was responsible for the collapse of the Soviet Union. They believe that because he took such a tough stance, and because he outspent the Russian military on the fictional Star Wars missle defense system, he precipitated the crisis that led to the collapse. But I was working in Washington when Reagan took office; and I was in Leningrad in the summer of 1985, studying Russian at LGU. I studied International Affairs/Soviet Studies in college, writing my thesis on Afghanistan, and took Russian for 7.5 years. My personal take was that the USSR was on the verge of collapse for a variety of reasons, primarily because of the fact that outside of the cities it was a third-world country. Only the cities took the leap forward... Corruption was another reason. As were the gross inefficiencies in the "Communist" system. I believe that it was just coincidence that the Soviet Union collapsed more or less on Reagan's watch, and people mistake this temporal happenstance for cause. In fact, it may be that Reagan's harsh stance delayed the collapse and prolonged the agony.

It's possible that you are making the same mistake with Stalin. You assume that because certain supposed improvement occurred when he was in power, these improvements *resulted* from his administration. Perhaps some did. But you have to ask the question: what would have happened otherwise?

I believe that absent Reagan, the USSR would still have collapsed. And I believe that absent Stalin, the Russian economy and social order would still have improved. This is partly because I believe that, contrary to the cult of personality, "great men" don't matter that much in history. (I also think Russia would have Westernized to some degree without the influence of Peter the Great, even at that time). I completely agree that the autocratic system was a total disaster and that Russia was indescribably backward as a result of the feudal regime. But was Leninism/Stalinism the only alternative? What if the previous revolution had been successful? Or, what if the October Revolution had morphed into the NEP and stuck to that course? Would a capitalistic system have brought more suffering to Russia, or less? More progress, or less? We can say that X and Y events/achievements occurred during Stalin's regime, but can we truly say that they occurred *because* of him, or in spite of him? Here, several have argued that Stalin's policies precipitated the famine. Surely you are right that weather, war, and a variety of other factors contributed. But I think people here are saying that absent Stalin, the famine would not have killed so many, that the country (or countries, it might have been, had the Russian Empire collapsed and the USSR not arisen in its place) would have recovered more quickly under a system that enabled individual initiative (those nasty kulaks) and ingenuity.

It's a thought experiment. It's hard to point to parallel examples, except perhaps to point out that capitalism did serve the Western world quite well--they moved out of feudalism faster than Russia did. Perhaps if Russia had gone from the Romanov stagnation to outright capitalism it would have caught up faster. Certainly one could make the case that India has been kicking butt lately, without a whole lot of communism or Stalinist policies going on. Not that it's wonderful there, just that it's moving fast, without such resorting to such dire means.





9
So... let's talk about "facts."

What would provide factual evidence that AA was not AN?
   -DNA mismatch. Check.
   -The corpse of AN. Check.

What would provide factual evidence that AA was FS? 
   -DNA match. Check (close enough).

What would provide factual evidence that AA=AN was a deliberate fraud?

  -Diary entries admitting to the plot
  -Letters admitting to or discussing the plot
 -Confessions

What would NOT provide evidence of fraud?
  -Improvements in the physical appearance of the subject in photos over time
  -testimony about an alleged confession or confidence from one of the principals to a third party (that would be on the same level of quality as testimony that someone had heard AA speaking Russian...though I'd be interested in such testimony about fraud if it existed)
 -Inferences about what "must" have happened, given this and given that (we had the same logic applied to the AA=AN argument)


Let's lose the witch hunt. If you want to know why some people are persuaded by "facts" that can't be objectively established, Annie, that's an interesting philosophical and psychological discussion. We could use your own rhetoric as the text for further analysis of this question.


I guarantee that if the DNA had matched, we'd all be looking at these same photos wondering how anyone could ever have proposed that AA looked like FS... :)

10
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: January 10, 2008, 03:11:21 PM »
Not to be glib, but isn't this the way of all revolutions?

My ancestors suffered badly during and following the American Revolution; many of them fled to Canada. They owned a great deal of the land in Connecticut and New York state and all of it was lost. Lives as well. So it goes.

General Putnam was notorious for his brutal discipline both with his troops and in the villages and towns where they were billetted. Many of the continental army were forcibly conscripted and could not have cared less about the outcome of the war.

I'm not saying it was a bad as the Soviet catastrophe by any means. But revolutions are hard on those who live through them. Which is why they don't happen that often.

11
The Russian Revolution / Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« on: December 11, 2007, 07:54:40 PM »
Well, I am glad my comment about Gellately's book caused him to chime in; sorry I missed the show. I repeatedly am disappointed in this board: we sometimes attract the participation of professional, published historians, and then we drive them out. So we're left with the same old people saying the same old thing and the people who could tell us something new leave. Drag.

I'm sorry that I said that only one chapter of RG's book seemed worth reading; what I meant was that only one chapter or so seemed to present new information, or to marshall it in a new way. But now I see I will have to take a more careful look. Anyway, I hope that if RG peeks back at this thread he'll perhaps engage again. He need not enter into sparring matches if he doesn't care to, but he could perhaps provide information that could clarify some of these issues.

As for Montefiore, I agree that he's done a lot of research and I'm interested in the info he presents. However. He's a crappy writer. Peter C is correct--he has a sordid style that really makes you question whether he is presenting history or going for ratings. For example, a chapter entitled "The Bolshevik Temptress," and the like. But if I can look past that and try to get at the meat of what he's saying, surely we can work with a far more solid historian such as Gellately. Just because a writer makes a point you disagree with or has a rotten style doesn't mean he or she is a total idiot. And few people on this board have the credentials to make such a dismissal anyway. Go write your own book...

12
Bear, doesn't it seem as though there should be a hierarchy of questions? For example, while it does seem that the info about exactly where and at what level the coins were found should be plainly stated, pending the DNA tests of the (relatively) newly discovered remains, that question is more or less moot, right? If the tests show that these are Romanov bodies, it's done. It no longer matters how or when the coins got there. If the tests for whatever reason do NOT show a connection with the Romanovs, then maybe the coins might matter, depending on provenance, etc. So why not just save the smaller questions until the big ones are settled?

13
The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Atrocities
« on: November 06, 2007, 06:11:28 PM »
So, I am reading Montefignore's Young Stalin at the moment. It's horribly overwritten and overwrought, but it's got me thinking. How much of what happened to the USSR is due to ideology per se and how much due to gangsterism and thuggery, given that Lenin et al relied on these tactics/elements for funding?

14
The Russian Revolution / Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« on: November 06, 2007, 06:09:39 PM »
So, I was browsing the bookstore and saw a book by Robert Gellately called Lenin, Stalin and Hitler: The Age of Social Catastrophe, making the case that Hitler and Stalin were totally co-dependent. :)

I didn't get it bec it seemed like maybe only one chapter was worthwhile, but you can read the reviews on Amazon.


It seems like a book Elisabeth would like; it sees ideology as causative in the atrocities of both regimes.

15
The Russian Revolution / Re: No Stalin, no Hitler?
« on: November 02, 2007, 06:16:39 PM »
I guess the question is really would Hitler have been as successful absent a Boshevik revolution in Russia... perhaps not Stalin per se...


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