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Communism

Discussion in 'Post War 1945-1955' started by Admiral_Humaid, Dec 9, 2014.

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  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    No, even Russian academics have settled on at least 20 million across the SU. Others assert as many as 60 million, but that many can't be supported.

    I actually visited the Soviet Union when it was still the Soviet Union, in 1990. I spent several weeks in Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky training with the KGB Naval Frontier Guards (their Coast Guard) We were the first westerners to see that city since the revolution. I think I have a pretty good feel for how people outside the center viewed communism. They hated it. They despised it. They feared it. And they were perfectly happy to tell me about it, even though they would never talk so freely to another Russian about it. The stores were empty. The restaurants had king crab, pollock and potatoes. That was it. The only foods available in the far east, because it was produced locally. It had always been that way, it was nothing new.

    The most precious item of trade was a simple battery. Any kind of battery. A car battery, a D cell battery, any kind of battery. They were simply unavailable at any price. If you were lucky enough to have a car, somebody would steal the battery and to get another might involve a long series of trades and negotiations that would eat up a months salary. Most people walked and if you didn't have batteries for your flashlight you walked in the dark And there were no batteries to be had, so everybody walked in the dark apparently because streetlight bulbs, like batteries, were unavailable. That's centralized planning, Soviet style. If X amount of cars were produced, then an equal number of batteries were produced with no thought that batteries wear out or get stolen. It was similar with other necessities - windshield wipers, tires, toothpaste, razor blades. Rubles were worthless for what they really needed (they called them "rupees") and they were reduced to a barter system.

    The thing is, they knew the rest of the world had it better and they wanted a piece of that. With Internet and TV and radio, the authorities couldn't keep a cap on it any more. They couldn't bullshit their people that the west was starving any longer. It was a interesting, a privilege, to be there just before it all fell apart. You could sense that it was about to crumble, and so could they. And it did.
     
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  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    A concentration of power is natural and beneficial to the group...its how the people who have the power gain it that matters ie: through force or elections...

    I think the problem with Communism is that it is a "survival" model...What it lacks is the creation of competition - something natural and something that has spurred innovation and progression since the days of cave man...If you want to stay static, then communism is for you.
     
  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Only to the group with the power. Most people are outside the group and have little or no say in what the central party does. Communism has a lot in common with feudalism in that way. You know, the King and his Barons were supposed to be the protectors of the people. They took oaths to that effect. Set up an entire mythology with the knight as the protector of the people and of the faith and of all that was good and holy. Yet, the reality was quite different. The people were robbed and killed and put to work on whatever the local thug with a title wanted. If that meant your field withered and your family went hungry, well too bad. If he wanted a bit of sport with your wife or your daughter, well too bad.

    And that's what communism is. The party apparatchiks become the new nobility. They dine on caviar and champagne, and everybody else gets a few potatoes and some rotgut vodka. The vodka helps to dull the rage.
     
  4. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    That was really good insight Kodiak. Really interesting!
    One thing that's always been on my mind was the purpose of collectivization. I've asking several people this question and I have never gotten a clear answer. One said that it was for exports, another said it was another method of asserting Stalin's power. But I have never been quite so sure as to why collectivization was introduced in the Soviet Union.

    Update: this answered my question a little better
    http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/archives/coll.html
     
  5. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I think you're on the money...but theres a difference here...the models you are listing are "full time" or permanent in the head of state/group...we both know power corrupts all eventually so only a model that changes or rotates the leadership can stifle this...This can be strapped onto the existing model and presto! You have the benefit of centralised power, without the corruption that normally would goes with it.
    One hall mark of surviving a ship wreck on an island in a group is to immediately elect a leader - better reffered to as the "head of the family" AND THEN tell the new leader that his leadership or power can be revoked at ANY time...this in micro leads to a diligent and inclusive leader...it works in macro too...
     
  6. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    Yes, but... Under communism, or any one party system, the model can be changed at any time. In theory, Stalin was only in power at the behest of the central party which could revoke that power at any time, but as soon as he had the power he began whacking everyone who opposed him. He had the Cheka, Beria, and they went to work shooting top party officials wholesale, and then began working their way through the army. Nobody was safe. Stalin was in power until the day he died.


    That was only possible because Communism doesn't recognize any limits on the power of the state.
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    It's part and parcel of the whole misguided theory. Under communist theory, all property belongs to the state so all the farms were seized and everyone went to work on salary. Well, prior to that if you had a 20 acre farm, the more work you put in the more money you earned - an incentive to produce more food. In a collective farm you get 100 rubles a month (whatever) if you were a slacker or a hard worker. It didn't matter, so why work hard?

    There were studies on this in my younger days when communism was still a thing. The Soviet Union had taken to allowing collective farmers to have 10% of the land for private production which they could sell at local markets. Well, that 10% in private hands grew more than the 90% in collective hands. And why not? If the potatoes on the collective land were crawling with bugs, screw it - you got your 100 rubles whether the crops lived or died. But your tiny parcel of private land changed your life. You had an incentive to nurture and protect those crops. The more you grew, the more you made. An incentive. That extra money might buy you a car or gas heat for your home. It was a little piece of capitalism.

    Capitalism rules!
     
  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    "Capitalsim Rules!" - Well no ONE system rules...Communism looks after the lowest common denominator - Capitalism looks after the highest...not much for the middle man in each...We have woken up to the fact that taking the good from each system is the only way of satisfying most of the people most of the time...I dont think a name has been created for the system most western countries run under these days...but it sure aint strict capitalism!
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Comunism is in it's essence antithetical to Capitalism and most western forms of government at least on the national level. As to what it is that depends on when and where you ask. Certainly the Communsim of the USSR bore little resembalance to that proposed by Marx. Yet it was argueably if not the destined outcome of it at least the most probable.

    I disagree and will go into some more details below.
    But at it's core iit did not call for unlimited powers being wielded by a central authority indeed I seem to recall that in Marx's theory the state would "wither" away.

    Again I disagree that Communism looks after the weakest indeed as it functioned in the USSR it hardly did so.

    Communism has worked and worked well but only in some very select cases. I would argue that the Israely kibutz and some of the Menonite settlements are very close if not ideal representations of what Marx invisioned. However what makes them work are some details he failed to incorporate. One is that they are small enough that pretty much everyone knows everyone else. Indeed I beleive the Mononites have a policy of once a community becomes larger than about 500 it is split into two. Then there's the abiltiy of poeple to leave and for the comunity to eject those who aren't carrying thier weight.

    If you look at the fundamental statement governing theoretical Communsim i.e. "To each according to his needs from each according to his abilities." and give it some thought fundamental flaws are apparent. Determining needs and abilities are among them however IMO perhaps even more critical is the reliance on people being alatruistic allmost all if not all the time. Even the thought that some may not be behaving so is enough to "poison the well" of such a society and do so in a way that it is difficult or impossible to recover from.

    Capitalism on the other hand essentially relies on greed to work. Nor does it require even the majority to exibit this for it to work. The problem becomes if too much capital is accumulated by too few and how one can restrain them. In the west there is something of a balance of powers with governments trying to limit at least to some extent the ability of the capitalist to work against the commmon good (thus things like the anti trust laws). It is far from from a perfect system but that may be one of its saving graces as it lends it a certain flexablity.
     
  10. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    That's the flaw. A power vacuum will be filled, and be filled by the most ruthless person or group. Marx actually viewed his ideal society as a group of workers collectives where each person had a say. Those collectives would negotiate with other collectives - a tractor collective would make agreements with a farm collective, who would both work with a fuel collective, etc. But all of this under a benign central authority who would guide them all for the common good.

    Unfortunately, the theory is complete balls because that central authority has ultimate control, and an army to enforce that control, and a national police force to seek out anyone not playing by the rules.

    Again, look at a feudal society - Russia itself under the Czar. You had various guilds and workers who by law, had certain rights and privileges. Even the lowly serf was only bound to work his masters land on certain days of the week, while the rest of the time he could devote to his own piece of land. Yet, in practice it didn't work out that way because the unlimited power of the nobility meant they could squeeze anyone they wanted.

    How is communism different? Isn't the central committee the Czar and his inner circle? Aren't local party officials the various barons and earls with their own little fiefs? In theory, both systems are supposed to protect the weak, but human nature doesn't work that way.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Indeed governments in general and beaurcracies in particular have a tendency not to wither away. Some enlightened individuals may handover thier power but institutions ....

    His system would also have been pretty static from what I can see. Where would "venture capital" come from? I don't see any of the collectives as being
     
  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    This is all very interesting...I hope the thread continues...
     
  13. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    I agree. :2Xpray:
     
  14. denny

    denny Member

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    You have to do some reading and be able to sift through stuff.
    But going back.....the USA was a MUCH more progressive place in the 30's and 40's.
    Trade Unions were strong...IWW, The Communist Party...etc etc.
    There would have been no "New Deal" if it were not for Vladimir Lenin. Roosevelt was no progressive...he sold out his own progressive VP.
    But anyway.....You have to remember, The Russian Revolution was only a scant 15 years old when this all this started to come down. Roosevelt's advice to the Elite Class was to give some ground, or risk real threats to the privileged classes, ruling, USA party(s). They were scared to death.
    The trouble for Socialism is that Lenin died, and the revolution fell into the hands of Adolf Hitlers soul mate.....Joe Stalin. THOSE two should have joined with Japan.....but the split went the other way, and Russia eventually agreed to do the allies bidding in Europe.
    With maniacs Like Ford and IBM, with their strong German ties and fervent anti Semite and reactionary philosophies, coupled with a revolution gone bad with a bi-polar dictator, it was not hard to paint a bad picture of "communism". With Trotsky banished, and eventually murdered, Stalin was able to pervert the peoples army to form his power base. He set Socialism back 100 years, and made easy press for the USA Elites to label any and all anti-profit movements as evil and a "threat" to the so called free world.
    WWII ended...Truman was threatening nuclear annihilation on a whim, and the USA took over .....invading one autonomous country after another in the pursuit of World Democracy. It was a vicious cycle....you either crumbled to The USA via the IMF and World Bank.....or you allied yourself with the USSR
    Oddly enough...Herman Goring would provide the back bone of future USA foreign policy. "Give the people and enemy to be afraid of, and they will do whatever you tell them".
    The Japanese captured land not from Asians....but rather from French, British, Dutch, and USA colonies and armies. The power struggle was on in a way that even the fortune hunters of WWI could have imagined.
     
  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    No, it's not hard to paint a bad picture of communism...when you have the old USSR and China as role models...not to mention the lessons learnt from the failed hippie ' commune' lifestyle...
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The USA wasn't in the 20's. Indeed, during the 20's, the power of trade unions in the United States was low.


    The "New Deal" had nothing to do with Lenin...Not one thing. Had Vladimir Lenin never existed, there would still have been a "new Deal." Why? The Great Depression. Had the United States remained in times of wealth and prosperity, they would not have needed a "New Deal". When millions of "haves" become millions of "have nots", they get cranky.

    Had it not been for the Great Depression, trade unions in the US would have continued their fall off.


    Don't make me laugh...

    He "sold out" his first, staunchly conservative VP, John Nance Garner, for Henry Wallace, after Garner fell from FDR's favor. He did the same thing to his progressive VP, Wallace, during Wallace's famous feud with Jesse Jones.

    Long story short...Don't irritate FDR.


    This "giving of ground" to the unions, had little effect on the millions of unemployed non-union citizens, which were the main concern of the government. If a many cannot pay for food, shelter, or clothes, he can't pay his union dues.


    Lenin was no better than the Czars he overthrew, and little better than Stalin.


    Actually, if you read what the Bolsheviks/Communists did under Lenin, it is not hard to paint a "bad" picture of Communism either. Stalin, Mao, et al. only compounded the problem.


    AFAIK, the US "invaded" neither Korea or Vietnam until after the Communists, not getting their way, invaded first.

    Also, AFAIK, the USA did not participate in the Soviet invasions of Czechoslovakia or Hungary.


    Query...China was a colony of which country...the French, British, Dutch, or the US? I am confused
     
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  17. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    Interesting terms there, "invading one autonomous country after another." You make it sound as if the US marched into nations all up and down northern and eastern Europe and just stayed there for about 50 years.

    "...rumbled to the The USA via IMF and World Bank...or you allied yourself with the USSR." I'll be sure and mention that to the Czechs and the Hungarians.

    I love this one "Give the people and enemy to be afraid of, and they will do whatever you tell them". I remember it every time I look at photos of bodies draped on the Berlin Wall.

    There are others, but this one is a work of art:
    "Russia eventually agreed to do the allies bidding in Europe." <insert sarcasm font> Ignoring the little tete-a-tete in Eastern Siberia in 1939, Stalin was practically a Western Nation's lap dog with Finland, the Baltics and Poland. As far as the war was concerned after June, 1941, I am pretty certain that the SU was doing no one else's bidding but there own.
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Others have dealt with many of the points but a few more:

    One could also accuse Ford of having close ties with the USSR as he was setting up factories for them.


    The reason Trotsky was banished was because he pushed for a more rapid and militant spread of communism.

    Or not. Indeed the lessons learned as to what not to do may well have advanced reasonable Socialism to a considerable degree.

    What is an "anti-profit" movement? I certainly don't know of any that would fit under that label. By the way the level of freedom in the free world is substantially higher than elsewhere so calling it the "so called free world" is erroneous.


    Sources please.

    ??? took over what?

    Let's see how many you can name. Personally I can't think of a single one that fits that description.

    That's at a minimum highly debateable.

    I suspect the Koreans, Thais, and Chinese would call you on that one and PLS note that the Philipines were scheduled for independence in the near future as well. Then there's the fact that their activities in the areas that they did take from the colonial powers made even the most ruthless European colonial powers seem benevolent.
     
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  19. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    Despite how evil communism was, the US was not exactly the paradigm of virtue, Jim Crow laws were in force denying blacks any role in government and making sure they stayed second class citizens. The US also supported anti communist dicatorships that were not much better then what we claimed were so evil. The Vietnam war was forced on the Vietnamese people because the US refused to allow the populace a say. We promised free elections after the French gave up rule and then supported a government that consisted of a small minority Catholic group who refused to share power outside of the circle. Research President Bautista of Cuba who allowed the Mob free reign in his country casinos in exchange for a share of the take, Papa Doc Duvalier who also murdered his citizens and enforced a poverty far worse then any communist state.
     
  20. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    backing up your point about the US supporting non communist dictatorships that were not popular: the US supported the South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem, who enforced harsh measures against the mostly non Catholic/Christian population of South Vietnam before the Vietnam war fully erupted. The US also backed the Shah of Iran (before the Iranian revolution of 1979) only because the shah had nationalized his country's oil which was given to the US and Great Britain. So the US like you said isn't quite the most saintly country when it comes to comparing it to communism.
     

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