Author Topic: Stalin's Legacy  (Read 35711 times)

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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #45 on: September 02, 2010, 01:12:08 PM »
Czech Republic is more homogenous ethnically than Slovakia.  10% of Slovakia is Hungarian and the tensions between Slovaks and Hungarians are bubbling under the surface. As for the split between Slovakia and the Czeck Republic, I was in Czechoslovakia when it occurred. It was basically gerimandered by a Slovak politician called Vladimir Meciar.  In an interesting aside, Alexander Dubcek died in a single car accident that was highly suspicious.  While there was no violence, there was a lot of poliitical pressure placed on Slovaks to vote for separation in the referendum.

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #46 on: September 02, 2010, 05:19:23 PM »
I think we have to give credit where credit is due. The separation of the Czechs and the Slovaks into independent republics after the demise of communism happened without bloodshed, much less civil war. And that's a major, even an incredible accomplishment.

Right now Slovakia is a member of the European Union and has one of the highest rates of economic growth in the entire region. It is in fact doing spectacularly well, even in this current recession/depression. I don't see any problems with 10 percent of the population being Hungarian. I think this is the whole point of Jundt's argument, that the great powers made these ethnic tensions moot in most places in Europe (with the rare exception like Yugoslavia). What ethnic minorities that remained were so small that they couldn't cause any real upset. And they're just as likely as the rest of us to be fobbed off with the usual economic concessions (or as some would put it, filthy lucre).
« Last Edit: September 02, 2010, 05:21:33 PM by Elisabeth »

Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #47 on: September 02, 2010, 09:35:33 PM »
Well most Slovaks suffered from the separation in two ways, most of the indigenous industry was in the Czech Republic so unemployment remained high until Slovakia became basically an economic colony and trapped itself into having to maintain low wages to attract multinationals like Volkswagen.  There are no Slovak companies that are adding value or contributing to economic growth.  The other aspect of separation was the looting of assets by Vladimir Meciar who enriched himself to the tune of $2 billion in the sale of natialised companies and this was money that Slovakia's government needed to finance the revialization of its medical and educational systems.
    As for the 10% being Hungarian, you are not living there so I don't expect you to see a problem but it is very divisive with the Hungarian minority requiring separate language rights, a separate school system and other rights (much as the linguistic minorities of Canada and Belgium do).  This is divisive and leads to a very nationalist backlash among the Slovak majority and creates a lot of political tension.
    Other areas where there is political tension from ethnic minorities include Lithuanian where the Russian minority are effectively shunned economically and places like Georgia, which recently fought a short war over the separation of Ingusetzia.

Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #48 on: September 02, 2010, 09:44:04 PM »
Further on Slovakia.
21% of the country live below the poverty line, with the average wage being 700 Euros a month ($1,000).  The current official unemployment rate is around 13% with the de facto rate probably being closer to 17% if you sort out the chronically unemployed like Roma, mmost of whom never bother looking for work, or those is very low paid work (the minimum wage is about $300 a month for a full time job).

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #49 on: September 03, 2010, 09:51:30 AM »
I think you're kind of missing my point, C. - or should I say, Judt's point. Which is simply that ethnic tensions were greatly eased in Europe after World War II and its immediate aftermath. He's not claiming that ethnic tensions ever entirely went away. They never completely go away, do they? I mean, we have plenty of ethnic tensions here in the United States. But that doesn't mean people here engage in actual ethnic conflict, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide, as they did in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe, and more recently, in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s.

And while Slovakia's economic statistics might look somewhat pathetic compared to those of the United States or Germany or what have you, they're still a lot better than they were twenty years ago. And now that Slovakia is part of the European Union, a certain degree of economic and political security is virtually guaranteed, which, let's face it, Slovakians haven't had since the collapse of communism and the breakup of Czechoslovakia.


Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #50 on: September 03, 2010, 10:24:56 AM »
I agree with you that I misinterpretted Jundt's point but when you say the demolition of the infrastructure of an entire continent will make people less likely to fight and that the death toll from WW2 inhibits the desire to violence, that is so obvious that it probably doesn't need to be studied academically.
    As for Slovakia, it depends on what  you mean by political security.  There is a huge amount of political incopetence and corruption in Slovakia and that increases and decreases according to the party in power.  What I was reacting to is the general reference to Slovakia as an economic tiger.  If you go there and look at the infrastructure and the living standard of the average family, you would understand that this is a country that still has a long way to go until it has reached developed status.  And yes things have improved since 20 years ago when I was there first of all but it was such a basket case as it emerged from communism that even Elmer Fudd could have wrought an economic miracle there.

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #51 on: September 03, 2010, 08:53:20 PM »
I agree with you that I misinterpretted Jundt's point but when you say the demolition of the infrastructure of an entire continent will make people less likely to fight and that the death toll from WW2 inhibits the desire to violence, that is so obvious that it probably doesn't need to be studied academically.
    As for Slovakia, it depends on what  you mean by political security.  There is a huge amount of political incopetence and corruption in Slovakia and that increases and decreases according to the party in power.  What I was reacting to is the general reference to Slovakia as an economic tiger.  If you go there and look at the infrastructure and the living standard of the average family, you would understand that this is a country that still has a long way to go until it has reached developed status.  And yes things have improved since 20 years ago when I was there first of all but it was such a basket case as it emerged from communism that even Elmer Fudd could have wrought an economic miracle there.

Well I'm not on the ground in Slovakia so I defer to your knowledge. I would just say, as regards Judt and his point about ethnic relations in Europe after World War II, that real originality lies in simplicity. What we think is obvious in retrospect (having read it somewhere) is decidedly original if we give the original author of it due credit. Tolstoy operated on this very same principle, the principle of simplicity, and it's one of the things that made him a great writer, moreover, a writer of genius. He put into words what many people thought but couldn't express. He stated the very obvious that was obvious and yet somehow ungraspable in language until he grasped it and made it comprehensible to posterity. This is genius.

Tony Judt died very recently of a degenerative disease. I think the book he published just before he died, Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945, is brilliant and I highly recommend it to fellow members here.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2010, 08:58:30 PM by Elisabeth »

Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #52 on: September 03, 2010, 11:52:07 PM »
Quote
that even Elmer Fudd could have wrought an economic miracle there

Would he get them all to help him catch the "waskally wabbit?"
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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #53 on: September 04, 2010, 12:08:21 AM »
no but he might not have sold the nation's rabbits and pocketed the cash.

Offline Petr

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #54 on: October 23, 2010, 11:52:21 AM »
Well as much as IL hate Stalin, I hate to think of what would have happened in WW2 if the Nazi's strength had not been absorbed by Russia.  Hitler was on the verge of developing nuclear weapons so if the second world war had continued much longer, Hitler may have added the atom bomb to his armory.

While I agree with you totally as to the effect of Russian participation in WWII, as earlier posts by me and others point out there is some question as to whether Stalin almost blew it totally with his refusal to recognize Hitler for the person he was and the threat he represented (despite plenty of warning) until it was almost too late. By the way does your view make you a "PR person" for Stalin? Hopefully not.
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Offline TimM

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #55 on: October 23, 2010, 11:56:24 AM »
That was a sad irony of World War II.  We had to stop a ruthless bloodthirsty tyrant, and the only way to do it was to team up with another ruthless bloodythirsty tyrant.  Talk about a deal with the devil.  The people of Eastern Europe ended up paying a terrible price for that deal.  There was no victory, no liberation for them.  At least not until 1989.
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Constantinople

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #56 on: October 24, 2010, 05:55:55 AM »
Maybe it was a case of one psychopaty being conned by another.  When Stalin's general's discovered that HItler was building up a military presence close to the Russian border, Stalin had some of those generals shot and others fired. Even at the beginning of Hitler's invasion of Russia, Stalin still did not believe that HItler would move against him.

Elisabeth

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #57 on: October 24, 2010, 01:49:02 PM »
I think Solzhenitsyn was right, Stalin thought Hitler was his "friend," as much as criminals like this can be friends, "honor among thieves" and all that. They had a mutual admiration society going for a while in the 1930s; I have no doubt Stalin suspected Hitler would "betray" him eventually (Stalin suspected all his "friends" of betrayal), but he thought it would come in 1942 and not in 1941.

It is very hard to understand Stalin's obstinacy in disregarding his own intelligence services and military reports from the front, as well as at least one warning from Churchill (I believe) that Nazi Germany was about to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941. Hard to understand, unless there was some element of personal psychology involved, as there so often was with Stalin (and with Hitler, for that matter).

It's hard to know for certain if Stalin actually did fall apart psychologically, in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa, as Khrushchev describes in his memoirs. Khrushchev, like most great storytellers (I've been surrounded by them my whole life, so I know whereof I speak) tend to embellish the truth a great deal, to the extent that sooner or later the storyteller can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction. Probably most of history is written this way, however, so I shouldn't be so picky.

Offline Petr

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #58 on: October 24, 2010, 10:28:36 PM »
It is very hard to understand Stalin's obstinacy in disregarding his own intelligence services and military reports from the front, as well as at least one warning from Churchill (I believe) that Nazi Germany was about to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941. Hard to understand, unless there was some element of personal psychology involved, as there so often was with Stalin (and with Hitler, for that matter).

There is some evidence to excuse Stalin's reluctance to engage Hitler. In Absolute War , Chris Bellamy, Vintage Books 2008 (a wonderful heavily researched book on the Eastern Front which I recommend highly),  it was pointed out that the General Staff was telling Stalin in 1939 that Russian military forces were unprepared to fight Germany. So it could be that Stalin was stalling for time (at least as a reason for the 1939 Pact). It must also be remembered that Stalin had purged almost his entire upper officer corps (e.g. Tukhashevsky, etc.).  Actually the purges went down pretty far into the officer ranks.  So the Army lacked senior military personnel. But what becomes somewhat incomprehensible was his reaction as invasion became more imminent.   "On 9 June Marshall Timoshenko, the Defense Minister, and Army General Zhukov, the Chief of the General Staff, met Stalin. Stalin was by now in his most paranoid, unbending and unreceptive mood, convinced of British and German attempts to trap him into a war he was not ready to fight, and seeing 'disinformers', 'traitors' and 'wreckers' in every shadow. Presented with GRU intelligence, some of which had come from the NKGB, Stalin allegedly threw it back, saying, "I have different documents.' He allegedly joked about the information provided by Sorge who had forecast the invasion for 22 June...Stalin's behavior shows the classic symptoms of someone who is in 'denial'. Humanistic psychologists recognize a phenomenon where people who have an overinflated idea of their own abilities or importance slip (subconsciously) into a state where they do not look for, or dismiss, information which contradicts their formed view." " p. 145-146.   Volkagonov in his book on Stalin paints an unheroic picture of the man, but at least at the last minute he refused to leave Moscow even though his train was waiting at the station.       
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PAVLOV

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Re: Stalin's Legacy
« Reply #59 on: November 15, 2010, 06:50:55 AM »
In a nutshell. Stalin was the most evil montrous mass murderer in the history of planet earth. He caused untold misery, starvation and suffering to tens of millions of his own people. This is the only legacy of Stalin.. The man was a shame and a disgrace to Russia. Anyone trying to glorify him should have their head read.