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George.
11-01-2009, 09:56 AM
An interesting review of three books proposing three theories (only two are serious):

Who killed communism? (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/30/AR2009103001843.html?hpid=opinionsbox1)

paladin
11-01-2009, 10:37 AM
Having been "on the other side of the wall" before the collapse it may seem apparent. The people guarding the wall either had to shoot those attempting to cross it or be most likely shot and imprisoned themselves for dereliction of duty, and all the while wanting to be on the other side. For them to see a close up glimpse of those "on the other side" made them want the same things, and slowly the erosion of power began. When in Latvia, the local police Colonel, while extremely polite toward me, placed an armed guard on my boat "to prevent any theft".....in actuality it was to prevent anyone from leaving surreptitiously. I was invited into local homes for dinner and conversation, I was never prevented by the police in my movements, but I also noted that someone was always watching.

ljb5
11-01-2009, 12:17 PM
My own theory as to what killed communism: Levi's Jeans, Sony Walkmen, Gucci handbags, Panasonic TV's, and American movies.

I've often said it was Pepsi and McDonald's.

When Reagan escalated the arms race, he was making the mistake of competing with them on the only playing field they actually were able to play on. For all the incompetence of the Soviet system, they were actually really good at putting together large armies and making lots and lots of weapons.

A smarter approach would have been to compete with them where they were not strong --- providing for the individuality and expressiveness of the people.

George.
11-01-2009, 01:55 PM
I agree with the theory that what killed Communism was the collapse in oil prices. The Soviets overextended after the Arab oil embargo and the Iranian Revolution made them rich. Then the 1980s oil glut arrived, just as they were knee-deep in Afghanistan, subsidizing half of Africa, and trying to compete with Reagan in building a better ray gun.

George.
11-09-2009, 09:07 AM
Today is the anniversary. The most world-changing event in most of our lifetimes, little remarked upon.


...nobody seems quite willing to believe it. Instead, we keep returning to the idea that liberal society is just as vulnerable as it was before the Berlin Wall came down.

On the right, pundits and politicians have cultivated a persistent cold-war-style alarmism about our foreign enemies — Vladimir Putin one week, Hugo Chavez the next, Kim Jong-il the week after that.

On the left, there’s an enduring fascination with the pseudo-Marxist vision of global capitalism as an enormous Ponzi scheme, destined to be undone by peak oil, climate change, or the next financial bubble.

peb
11-09-2009, 09:17 AM
Today is the anniversary. The most world-changing event in most of our lifetimes, little remarked upon.

Thats because the only way to remark upon its significance is to acknowledge how horrible were the regimes that failed. No one likes to have those types of discussions about communism. Too many people are still left who were in denial about that the last 20 years or so while the communists were in power in Eastern Europe. People hate to say they were wrong. Also, people have a great fear of alienating China right now, so anti-communist rhetoric must be avoided due to current geo-political considerations. Also, there is a resurgence of left-wing governments in the third world and many in power would like to see that "experiment" play out.
Finally, after how recent financial system meltdown, it is now in vogue to say that capitalism is broken. Many people who only saw communism as an economic system "that didn't work" are now reconsidering their point of view.

Rick-Mi
11-09-2009, 09:35 AM
"tear down this wall"


Thank God for Ronald Reagan, the president who delivered America around from the scourge of the Carter administration, cured me from the mental disease of liberalism and transformed the world!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xK30k2WTxY0


.

George.
11-09-2009, 09:43 AM
Thank God for my neighbor's rooster, that makes the sun rise in the morning with its mighty call for daylight!

TomF
11-09-2009, 09:49 AM
Peb,

You'll get no argument from me about how horrible the regimes were which fell. They were manifestly odious; oligarchies or tyrannies, which attempted to control thought and successfully controlled behaviour ...

No, our only argument will (continue to) be whether communism must always be that way. Claiming so seems to me every bit as preposterous as claiming that capitalism must always become, say, the cronyism under Marcos, or the unbridled rape of resources and labour of the robber-baron era.

It may be that such a decline into perversion is inevitable, in the absence of any effective constitutional checks and balances on power. One-party states have usually degraded into something uniformly horrific, whatever their ostensible orientation ... to the R or the L.

pefjr
11-09-2009, 09:53 AM
Thank God for my neighbor's rooster, that makes the sun rise in the morning with its mighty call for daylight!:D good one

peb
11-09-2009, 09:59 AM
No, our only argument will (continue to) be whether communism must always be that way. Claiming so seems to me every bit as preposterous as claiming that capitalism must always become, say, the cronyism under Marcos, or the unbridled rape of resources and labour of the robber-baron era.

TomF, how can it be preposterous. From a historical standpoint, it is pretty much batting a thousand. From a philisophical standpoint, the system argues for the destruction of all existing social institutions.

Please describe how a governmebt could ever take over the entire economy (which at that point is the same as taking over the entire social stricture) and not be tyrannical. Do you really believe that such a system could fundction and not be tyrannical.

It is not the same as saying capitalism will always "become, say, the cronyism under Marcos, or the unbridled rape of resources and labour of the robber-baron era". We have historical examples of where this does not happen. Likewise, from a philisophical standpoint, capitalism does not necessarily destroy subsidiarity, so it will always have troubles maintaining any type of system wide corruption.

George.
11-09-2009, 10:06 AM
No, our only argument will (continue to) be whether communism must always be that way.


I think it must. It's human nature, and it can be proven mathematically through game theory. Economists call it the tragedy of the commons. Historians might one day call it the tragedy of communism.






Claiming so seems to me every bit as preposterous as claiming that capitalism must always become, say, the cronyism under Marcos, or the unbridled rape of resources and labour of the robber-baron era.


Those are extreme examples. I would not argue that all communism devolves into Cambodian-style genocide, or Stalinist bulimia (starvation and purges), or a Cultural Revolution - although a lot of it did. But yes, capitalism will always lead to inequality, injustice, social tensions, suffering at the bottom and gross overconsumption at the top. It's also human nature. Nature doesn't give a damn.

TomF
11-09-2009, 11:19 AM
TomF, how can it be preposterous. From a historical standpoint, it is pretty much batting a thousand. From a philisophical standpoint, the system argues for the destruction of all existing social institutions.

Please describe how a governmebt could ever take over the entire economy (which at that point is the same as taking over the entire social stricture) and not be tyrannical. Do you really believe that such a system could fundction and not be tyrannical.

It is not the same as saying capitalism will always "become, say, the cronyism under Marcos, or the unbridled rape of resources and labour of the robber-baron era". We have historical examples of where this does not happen. Likewise, from a philisophical standpoint, capitalism does not necessarily destroy subsidiarity, so it will always have troubles maintaining any type of system wide corruption.Peb,

As you've acknowledged when we've discussed this before, Marx's communism sets out the notion of a "vanguard party" that leads social change ... and disappears ("withers away") when the social change is achieved and unthreatened. That's naive as all get out ... but it's also very different from Leninist thinking. Lenin, ever the pragmatist, codified a 1-party state ... arguing that the state couldn't even notionally "wither away" 'till the percieved threat from capitalist states did.

Was Lenin wrong to perceive a threat? How would the West have acted, you think, if Marx hadn't been naive about human nature, and a Soviet communist workers' paradise had miraculously emerged? And the vanguard state had then dutifully disbanded?

I really can't imagine that the rest of the world would have bemusedly allowed the paradise to flower overtop of the region's rich resources, and strategically important geography.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no apologist for single party totalitarian states ... any of them. Ugly things happen when there's no political alternative allowed. Yes, you'll see odious examples in the former USSR, in China, in Cambodia, N Korea ... but also in Iraq, in Burma, Syria, and in various military Latin American dictatorships over the years.

And you'll see strikingly positive examples where democratic societies have chosen fairly intensive State ownership and control of large parts of industry. The Nordic countries, for instance, have at times been pretty "communistic," but exhibited none of the social control of the 1-party states of either the L or the R.

IMO, the collapse into depravity doesn't depend on the economic structure, but the political structure. To the extent that people experience themselves to have liberty ... to have the scope to make meaningful, efficacious choices affecting their public and private lives ...

It's true that we've far more such successes to point to in capitalist economies, but we've had colossal failures too. Failures of the same order as the USSR (WW2 Germany was capitalist). One can legitimately wonder if there might be more examples of communist or near-communist successes ... if the capitalist countries didn't have a knee-jerk response to try to wipe them off the map.

peb
11-09-2009, 12:57 PM
Peb,

As you've acknowledged when we've discussed this before, Marx's communism sets out the notion of a "vanguard party" that leads social change ... and disappears ("withers away") when the social change is achieved and unthreatened. That's naive as all get out ... but it's also very different from Leninist thinking. Lenin, ever the pragmatist, codified a 1-party state ... arguing that the state couldn't even notionally "wither away" 'till the percieved threat from capitalist states did.

Was Lenin wrong to perceive a threat? How would the West have acted, you think, if Marx hadn't been naive about human nature, and a Soviet communist workers' paradise had miraculously emerged? And the vanguard state had then dutifully disbanded?

I really can't imagine that the rest of the world would have bemusedly allowed the paradise to flower overtop of the region's rich resources, and strategically important geography.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no apologist for single party totalitarian states ... any of them. Ugly things happen when there's no political alternative allowed. Yes, you'll see odious examples in the former USSR, in China, in Cambodia, N Korea ... but also in Iraq, in Burma, Syria, and in various military Latin American dictatorships over the years.

And you'll see strikingly positive examples where democratic societies have chosen fairly intensive State ownership and control of large parts of industry. The Nordic countries, for instance, have at times been pretty "communistic," but exhibited none of the social control of the 1-party states of either the L or the R.

IMO, the collapse into depravity doesn't depend on the economic structure, but the political structure. To the extent that people experience themselves to have liberty ... to have the scope to make meaningful, efficacious choices affecting their public and private lives ...

It's true that we've far more such successes to point to in capitalist economies, but we've had colossal failures too. Failures of the same order as the USSR (WW2 Germany was capitalist). One can legitimately wonder if there might be more examples of communist or near-communist successes ... if the capitalist countries didn't have a knee-jerk response to try to wipe them off the map.

First of all, you are simply wrong when describing Nazi's as capitalist. Any history will tell you that, but here is a paper on the topic http://www.nber.org/chapters/c9476.pdf. There was no free market in Nazi gernmany. There was centralized control of industry that ranked right up there with Communists in Russia. The only difference was that ownership (but not control) rested outside of the state. There is a reason why Belloc referred to communism and nazism as two sides to the same coin.

To you main point. You seem to be saying, that if the evil west would let a country get through the "dictatorship of the proletariat" phase, then a pure communist state could develop. Never mind that every evil that every communist county committed would not have surpirsed Marx at all as a necessary part of the "dictatorship of the proletariat".
To back up to your previous post, communism must not always be tyrannical, as long as we ignore the tyrannical transition.

martin schulz
11-09-2009, 01:03 PM
First of all, you are simply wrong when describing Nazi's as capitalist...There was no free market in Nazi gernmany. There was centralized control of industry that ranked right up there with Communists in Russia. The only difference was that ownership (but not control) rested outside of the state. There is a reason why Belloc referred to communism and nazism as two sides to the same coin.

That's why probably why the party's name was NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei=national-socialistic german workers party) ;)

George.
11-09-2009, 01:09 PM
The state could never wither away - not even in theory. Immediately, another state would spring up. It's culture and biology. Humans are gregarious, like to follow those whom they perceive as strong leaders, and are prone to herd behavior whenever they gather in numbers. Herds are easy to control. Gangs and coalitions will form, and any nation whose state withered away would quickly be taken over by the strongest gang.

What Lenin understood is that because of this basic truth, for Communism to last at all, the Party itself had to be that strongest gang. The enemy it had to face down was not the capitalist West, but human nature.

peb
11-09-2009, 01:34 PM
Martin and George. agreeing with me on the same thread. I think I should quit while I am ahead.

George.
11-09-2009, 02:11 PM
We may be Godless, but we are not Godless Commies. :D

TomF
11-09-2009, 02:58 PM
Peb,

First - I'll agree with you that Nazism wasn't a free market, at least in important industrial sectors. It was corporatist, not communist ... with central planning (though private ownership) in many such. Of course, this doesn't erase examples of odious capitalist states ... many of which were cultivated and supported by your country (and mine) as bastions against communism. Marcos' Philippines, Noriega's Panama, Argentina under their military junta ... Hussein's Iraq too, eh? Capitalism is quite compatible with totalitarianism; there's nothing inherently moral about the economic model.

FWIW, I also agree that a "vanguard" communist state is unlikely to ever wither away. I hoped I'd made that clear by calling Marx "naive," and being sarcastic about a Soviet workers' paradise miraculously emerging. But that's because the vanguard state is totalitarian, not because it owns factories.

My point is that the abject moral failures of totalitarian communist and totalitarian capitalist states correlate with totalitarianism, not with economics. The key's having viable, sustainable, actual democracy. So individual and collective freedoms are protected, whoever owns and plots strategy for the primary business concerns.

And yeah, I do think that any number of democratic socialist states could have emerged during the Cold War, which became totalitarian because of the West's knee-jerk reactions. Pretty much the same knee-jerk reactions that have battered at Obama about public options in health care reform.

Kaa
11-09-2009, 03:07 PM
Capitalism is quite compatible with totalitarianism; there's nothing inherently moral about the economic model.

I disagree. The point of totalitarianism (don't you rather mean authoritarianism, by the way?) is power. The key is concentration of power in very few people or structures. Capitalism implies the existence of rich and independent -- thus powerful -- people who are a competitor and a threat to an authoritarian state. The state will try to limit or eliminate all actual and potential sources of power -- political, economic and social. The Soviet Russia is a classic example of how that happens.


But that's because the vanguard state is totalitarian, not because it owns factories.

The vanguard state is totalitarian because it owns factories (among other reasons).


My point is that the abject moral failures of totalitarian communist and totalitarian capitalist states correlate with totalitarianism, not with economics.

I disagree -- see above. And again, are you sure you don't mean authoritarian rather than totalitarian?

Kaa

TomF
11-09-2009, 03:14 PM
Kaa,

I tend to use the terms "totalitarian" and "authoritarian" interchangeably. What I mean is single-party, or single-person rule - and the active suppression of dissent using the state apparatus.

As such, it applies to Iran under the Shah, Syria under Assad, N Korea, China, the USSR, East Germany, Marcos' Philippines etc. The economic model in such a state may be capitalist, corporatist, communist etc. ... it has been each of these.

Democratic states can similarly be capitalist, corporatist, socialist ... though none of them use a vanguard party model. And when a single party does apparently amass unassailable power ... even in democratic states ... it leads to corruption and the abandonment of the public interest. On a much reduced scale, that dynamic's why Canada's Liberal party is in the doghouse ...

George.
11-09-2009, 03:17 PM
I disagree also.

Exhibit A: every Communist state, ever, was also dictatorial. Not every capitalist state was. Statistically, that is a very powerful argument

Exhibit B: every communist* or socialist* I have ever met who held a position in government was a petty tyrant as far as his office allowed. There is a saying in Spanish: si quieres conocer a Carlito, da le un carguito, which roughly means "if you want to get to know what kind of person Charlie is, give him a petty government job."

*Just to make things clear, I mean real communists or socialists - not the mildly left-wing dreamers that Americans call "socialist."

TomF
11-09-2009, 03:19 PM
What about Scandinavia? At different times they've been as "lefty" as they come, yet democratic. And periodically voted the best place(s) in the world to live.

Kaa
11-09-2009, 03:29 PM
Kaa,

I tend to use the terms "totalitarian" and "authoritarian" interchangeably. What I mean is single-party, or single-person rule - and the active suppression of dissent using the state apparatus.

That's authoritarian.

"Authoritarian" refers to the concentration of power and suppression of dissent. Authoritarian people/governments/structures want to be the only ones making decisions and don't tolerate disagreement well.

"Totalitarian" refers to control over every aspect of life. Totalitarian structures seek to control as much as possible leaving little unobserved, unchecked, and unregulated.

Obviously, there two characteristics are related, but still I think they are conceptually separate.

Authoritarian capitalist countries certainly exist, though it's interesting to note that authoritarian regimes tend not to last long in such places. On the other hand, authoritarian socialist/communist (or feudal) countries did much better with regard to maintaining control.

I certainly believe there's a strong connection between economic structures and political structures in a society. I don't think it's very useful to think about the problem in terms of morality (your "inherently moral about an economic model"), I think an analysis in terms of practicalities of power is more interesting.

Kaa

TomF
11-09-2009, 03:33 PM
Have you thoughts on why authoritarian communist states have tended towards more longevity than authoritarian capitalist ones?

I can think of a number of possibilities ... some of which relate to the economic structures, and some of which don't have much of anything to do with them.

Kaa
11-09-2009, 03:41 PM
Have you thoughts on why authoritarian communist states have tended towards more longevity than authoritarian capitalist ones?

Yes. Because authoritarian capitalist states go only half-way. They concentrate political power but leave be economic and other power (religion, most often) -- which most of the times ends being the reason for their downfall.

Communist states go all the way -- they tolerate no alternative sources of power, be they political, economic, or spiritual. And if you are thorough and ruthless about eliminating internal threats, well, not many internal threats remain.

Kaa

peb
11-09-2009, 03:50 PM
Peb,

First - I'll agree with you that Nazism wasn't a free market, at least in important industrial sectors. It was corporatist, not communist ... with central planning (though private ownership) in many such. Of course, this doesn't erase examples of odious capitalist states ... many of which were cultivated and supported by your country (and mine) as bastions against communism. Marcos' Philippines, Noriega's Panama, Argentina under their military junta ... Hussein's Iraq too, eh? Capitalism is quite compatible with totalitarianism; there's nothing inherently moral about the economic model.
[\quote]

It would help if you would start picking examples that we could all say "yes, that was a capitalist state". So far, you haven't, or at least I don't think you have. I am familier with Argentina's history, and capitalism would be a difficult adjective to apply. I suspect the same would be true about Noriega's Panama and Marcos' philippines.


[QUOTE]
FWIW, I also agree that a "vanguard" communist state is unlikely to ever wither away. I hoped I'd made that clear by calling Marx "naive," and being sarcastic about a Soviet workers' paradise miraculously emerging. But that's because the vanguard state is totalitarian, not because it owns factories.


Your hope is misplaced. I can reread you post again and it is still a stretch to interpret this way. Reading your entire post, one can only conclude that the naivity you referred to was the thought that the west would let a communism "flower".





My point is that the abject moral failures of totalitarian communist and totalitarian capitalist states correlate with totalitarianism, not with economics. The key's having viable, sustainable, actual democracy. So individual and collective freedoms are protected, whoever owns and plots strategy for the primary business concerns.


For someone who chas studied/admired Marx as much as you, I find this paragraph rather startling. Marz would have (correctly ) seen the economics as part of the overall society. Since we originally addressing communism "must it always be totalitarianism", I think we should stick to that area first. With communism, it seems very difficult, to seperate the economics with the rest of the system, by definition. Even the last sentence is strange. Marx would have seen no one protecting individual freedoms, since he valued the individual very litte. After the "dictatorship of the proletariat", he would have seen no one protecting collective freedoms.

peb
11-09-2009, 03:57 PM
*Just to make things clear, I mean real communists or socialists - not the mildly left-wing dreamers that Americans call "socialist."

Yea, Marx was good at condemning those dreamers also. But this brings around to your original point "Today is the anniversary. The most world-changing event in most of our lifetimes, little remarked upon". You see, many of those mildly leftwing socialists who live in North America have never been able to see the essential difference between a socialist economic government program (eg the nordic states nationalizing industry) and a communist revolution (which is just a economic system that didn't work). They don't understant that communism is more than economics, that it is a social utopian dream, not just an (possibly unwise) extension of mildly leftwing policies. So when you want to talk about the collapse of communism, you are striking rather close to home. Best not to go there, in their opinion.

TomF
11-09-2009, 04:24 PM
Peb,

I think it naive to imagine, as Marx did, that a 1-party state would ever let go of power, and "wither away." I also find it naive to imagine that if somehow that ever did occur, that the surrounding countries would sit idly by and not annex it ... both for its resources/geographic strategic significance, and also because of the manifest threat it would pose to have such a radical alternative out there ... if it actually did work.

I find it interesting that the economies which I've called capitalist totalitarian (or authoritarian, if you'd prefer) are ones you'd shy away from calling capitalist. It's worth noting that many of them (Hussein's Iraq, the Argentinian junta - and various other juntas in Latin America, Marcos' Philippines, Noriega's Panama etc.) were explicitly supported by the West as puppet political regimes ... as bastions against communism. As Capitalist allies. Were they perfectly free? Nope - but in some respects were far freer than ours (e.g. environmental regulation, labour codes, building codes etc.). My brother was in Manila during Marcos' last summer in power, and certainly there was market competition, a helluva lot of international trade. Export processing zones were the "in thing," where the "comarative advantage" of low wages/low regulations/no taxes was marketed to any number of multinational corporations. Under Marcos there was also a whole lot of corruption, bribery, and cronyism ... these things are never present in capitalist states?

It rather skews things if the only guys you'll admit are capitalist are capitalist democracies ... and then suggest that their successes are due to capitalism, rather than effective democracy.

It's like saying that every really high quality crayon is blue ... and using the amount of blue pigment as one a major criteria to determine whether a crayon is high quality or not. By definition, no red crayons are high quality ... 'cause they've got no blue in them.

TomF
11-09-2009, 04:34 PM
BTW, it's rather odd to hear you claim that Marx had little concern for the wellbeing of individuals. Whether wrongheaded or not, his project was at its core about trying to improve the lives of the industrial working class. Grounded in an analysis of various kinds of alienation and loss of control experienced by individual workers. Culminating in what Marx called (in a rather infelicitous translation) alienation from their "species-being" - that is, from their humanity itself.

He may have been off-base in his analysis, and in his proposed solutions ... but not because Marx cared little for individual workers. His theory was developed precisely to improve things for individual workers.

Once again, I think you're confusing Marx' analysis and his desired end-state (a withered-away state) with Leninism's promotion of the idea of a Vanguard Party ... and authoritarianism. Marx was a whole lot closer to anarchists (er, libertarians) than to Stalin's eternal iron fist.

peb
11-09-2009, 05:33 PM
TomF, ok lets not get caught up in which totalitarian countries are capitalist. Lets simply admit that it is irrelevant to your original question:

"No, our only argument will (continue to) be whether communism must always be that way"

Note: you said this is our only argument. So it seems either your means of arguing this question (ie debating it other forms of government/economies can be tyrrants) is either , 1) a red herring to try to divert the subject towards capitalist totalitarian regimes or b) an attempt on your part of moral relativism.

I will not deny a capitalist contry can be totalitarian, heck I have beleive any system can be totalitarian, including a modern liberal democracy (if you would have accused hitler of that as opposed to capitalism I would have agreed, at least as to his means of coming to power). However, I have been arguing that a communist country, must be so. If a capitalist one or a democracy could become totalitarian is beside the point.

As it stands, I do not think I know your answer to your own question. It is either : "Claiming so seems to me every bit as preposterous ...." or "I hoped I'd made that clear by calling Marx "naive," and being sarcastic about a Soviet workers' paradise miraculously emerging".

Lets stick to the point please.

Joe (SoCal)
11-09-2009, 05:36 PM
Received this email from my Uncle Cliff


Hi,


Today, Monday Nov. 9th, is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin
Wall, which signaled the beginning of the end of communism in Europe.

When the wall went up in 1961 I was activated and ordered to report aboard
the USS Remy DD688, a destroyer. The ship was quickly deployed on station in
the North Sea on Anti Submarine (Russian) patrol. In December of 1961 the
Remy made its way up the Elbe River to Hamburg for the Christmas Holiday.
The German people took many of us sailors into their homes for Christmas
dinner. I was given a special tour of Hamburg Police Headquarters because I
was with the NYPD. Some of us boarded a bus and for pr0perganda reasons were
taken to Berlin to pose at The WALL.

Meanwhile my wife Pat was left at home with our four children (all in
diapers) and one on the way. She was interview by a newspaper reporter and
told it like it was. When the Capt. of my ship read the article he called me
top side and told me I didn't have a good navy wife.

While called back for military duty I was protected by the Soldiers and
Sailors Act which meant I could not be sued for any debt incurred till 1
year after release from duty. In April 1962 my daughter Joanne was born and
the following August I was released from active duty to continue my career
with the NYPD.

Year later the German family that invited me for Christmas dinner sent me a
piece of the Berlin Wall when it was knocked down. (see attached)

Shipmate,

"Cliff"







2 Attached Images

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peb
11-09-2009, 05:41 PM
Another interesting point, IMO, is it just me or does this kind of bug anyone?

From Joe's C&P:

the first line: "Today, Monday Nov. 9th, is the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall...."

vs.
"Year later the German family that invited me for Christmas dinner sent me a piece of the Berlin Wall when it was knocked down"

Referring to this even as the "fall" and having dominoes set up symbolically "falling" down seems absurd. The wall did not fall. It was torn down. Communism did not fall, it was defeated.

Art Read
11-09-2009, 05:45 PM
Tom, forgive me if I'm misjudging your argument, but you would appear to be implying that the economic principle of communism is potentially a practical model for the organization of society if only it could somehow be "wedded" to a liberal, democratic political system? That seems a Utopian dismissal of human nature to me. While it may be idealistically satisfying to believe in cooperative, selfless human endeavor, the basic premise of "to each according to their need and from each according to their ability", will always result in vast discrepancies in each individual's assessment of their own, personal "needs and abilities". I think that history and an honest appraisal of our own basic instincts will show that it's a biological and psychological imperative that no amount of optimistic altruism will ever surmount.

TomF
11-09-2009, 06:00 PM
I think socialism has worked rather well in places like Sweden, with provisions that would be downright "Red" in American political discourse. Not authoritarian, and at some points in their history, not hugely wedded primarily to market priorities and ethics.

Part of what made it work to the degree it did, was that it was a democratic choice, rather than an authoritarian imposition.

I fully agree that human nature, being as it is, will find ways to shirk responsibility in socialist states. Capitalist states too have their characteristic, though different, ways of expressing the shadow side of human nature.

Peb, I'm sorry if I seem to have rubbed you the wrong way. I fear that you and I won't get much farther here - that your definition of communism will not permit a non-authoritarian expression. I agree that the authoritarian expressions are grim, as they are of other ecenemic models.

T

BarnacleGrim
11-09-2009, 06:08 PM
It's called social democracy. It's socialism watered down enough to make it palatable to the voters. It's big in Europe, Party of European Socialists (PES) is the second largest party group in the EP.

peb
11-09-2009, 06:22 PM
Peb, I'm sorry if I seem to have rubbed you the wrong way. I fear that you and I won't get much farther here - that your definition of communism will not permit a non-authoritarian expression. I agree that the authoritarian expressions are grim, as they are of other ecenemic models.

You have not rubbed me the wrong way. I am simply trying to understand your point of view. You have not been clear. If the issue is two different definitions of communism, please explain. No one is claiming that the "socialism has worked rather well in places like Sweden" is communism. I know I am not, and I would be surprised if you are. Certainly Marx would not have accepted that (even as a transitive phase). Your original question pertained to communism, not Nordic socialism.
If we won't get much farther here, I think it is because of your obtuseness. You posed an question and seem intend on not answering it.

Art Read
11-09-2009, 06:25 PM
"I think socialism has worked rather well in places like Sweden..."

__________________________________________________ ___

Has it? Really? I'll grant that they have voted themselves an enviable present quality of life with their entitlement systems, but at what cost? "Sustainability" has become a popular word of late. Is the Scandinavian model truly sustainable? How much of their entitlement system is dependent upon a robust global capitalistic free market system that would cease to function using their model? What are the true costs of subsidizing their entitlement programs with a dwindling productive population. Where will they turn when they have, to coin a phrase, "run out of other peoples money"?

TomF
11-09-2009, 07:20 PM
If you push it far enough, include enough industrial sectors under state ownership, democratic socialism turns into democratic communism. So long as it remains democratic, it's a matter of scale. No, we've not seen democratic communism, but it is in principle possible.

Is such sustainable, absent a robust international capitalist marketplace to purchase/sell goods and services? Who knows? I can't see why it would be any more or less viable to try isolationist communism than equally isolationist capitalism. That's not possible now either.

I'm NOT arguing that this would be the best of all possible choices, guys. Personally, I like a mixed economy, neither fully private nor fully public. But in principle, it is possible to have non-authoritarian communism. Cuba could have become that, but was pushed into authoritarianism by US action, frankly.

Nicaragua essentially was democratic communist, if Reagan's characterization of the Sandinistas is to be credited. I don't credit it, but some on the R here have in the past (I think the Sandinistas were socialists, not communists). Whichever they were ... they were manifestly democratic. They left office when the election went the other way.

CGrant
11-09-2009, 07:46 PM
My own theory as to what killed communism: Levi's Jeans, Sony Walkmen, Gucci handbags, Panasonic TV's, and American movies.

Right...Just like their 1920's and '30's predecessors did for defeating the Nazis. I think there are millions of Jews who'd dispute your theory. There are many thousands of American and British and Canadian and Australian and New Zealand, et al, dead soldiers who would dispute it, too, had they lived. Fortunately, Churchhill disputed it.

Additionally, how's all that stuff workin' for ya in the "defeat" of islamofacist terrorism? Oh, that's right, we're supposed to say "man-made disasters." Silly me!

Good people committed to the value of freedom, recognizing that it would take the blood and courage of many, many countries and a commitment of as long as it takes to win, are what brought down that wall. Most regrettably, two of the strongest leader's of our times - Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher - whose names were not mentioned today in most reports, are the most responsible for a free Germany. Oh, how I miss their strength of character and their wisdom! They knew that there will always be aggressors, bent on controlling others no matter what, and that peace between nations is only possible, in this life, through strength - in both the ability and willingness to use force when brutal enemies threaten the life and liberty of our countries' people.

How easy it is to be Chamberlains. How foolish, too.

Not me. I'm a Reagan and a Thatcher, thank you very much.

TomF
11-09-2009, 08:08 PM
Reagan was mentioned in the news reports I heard. Even heard him urging Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear Down This Wall."

It was torn down by Germans, who could no longer be kept from wanting a different kind of life ... characterized by the West's consumer goods and personal freedoms.

There's a truism in political science, that a ruler always rules with the consent of the governed. Withdraw the consent, and regimes change.

peb
11-09-2009, 11:50 PM
If you push it far enough, include enough industrial sectors under state ownership, democratic socialism turns into democratic communism. So long as it remains democratic, it's a matter of scale. No, we've not seen democratic communism, but it is in principle possible.
TomF, I have no idea what "democratic communism" is? I can google "democratic socialism" and get an answer, but nothing for "democratic communism". It is not just a matter of scale. Communism was more than an economic theory. Marx proposed it as the final stage of human society. I will give Sweden enough credit to say that it will not devolve into communism.

Lets back up and try again. George. started this thread about the "fall of the Berlin wall" and he wondered why there wasn't more interest in the 20th anniversery of this huge event. I gave my opion as to why. Part of it dealt with how horrible the communism regimes were. You then asked "does communism have to be horrible"? Using the context of this thread, ie communism as we have known it to exist and the theory behind it, I answered yes. You say "no" (I think), but are not dealing with communism.

George.
11-10-2009, 06:35 AM
What about Scandinavia? At different times they've been as "lefty" as they come, yet democratic. And periodically voted the best place(s) in the world to live.

Scandinavia is capitalist to the bone. Major multinationals - Volvo, Nokia, Saab, etc. Private property, financial sector, the works.

Capitalism with high taxes and a generous safety net has nothing to do with communism, no matter what American right wingers think.




Nicaragua essentially was democratic communist...

Only because the communists never felt strong enough to wither away with elections, with the Contras (who had a lot of native support), the neighbors, and Reagan all pushing against them.

If you evaluate the full spectrum of capitalism, you'll find outrages like the Guilded Age and Cold War Brazil, but you'll also find shining examples, like Scandinavia, the US in the 1950s and 1960s, Spain after Franco, and yes, even Brazil in the early 21st century.

Do the same for communism. The worst are very bad indeed: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, many others. But the point is that even the best, most benign examples of communism are all rather nasty themselves: Cuba, Mongolia, ?... a short and mediocre list.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 06:58 AM
On two, distinct occasions, a throughly decent man emerged at the top of a Communist hierarchy; Alexander Dubcek in Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Mikhail Gorbachev in the Soviet Union in 1985.

The consequences were strikingly similar. When operated by a man who believed in it, and who tried to do the right things, the system collapsed.

George.
11-10-2009, 07:10 AM
I think there are millions of Jews who'd dispute your theory. There are many thousands of American and British and Canadian and Australian and New Zealand, et al, dead soldiers who would dispute it, too, had they lived. Fortunately, Churchhill disputed it.

Most regrettably, two of the strongest leader's of our times - Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher - whose names were not mentioned today in most reports, are the most responsible for a free Germany.

To paraphrase you, there are millions of Germans who'd dispute your theory. ;)

Stirring speeches don't bring down walls - if they did, Obama would be the most powerful US president ever. Reagan and Thatcher were no different from countless other "tough on Communism" cocky politicians. They were just lucky to be crowing as the dawn arrived. They did nothing material to bring down communism beyond what their predecessors were already doing, and if anything, they may have helped prop it up a bit longer than necessary - as the US is doing in Cuba today.

martin schulz
11-10-2009, 07:33 AM
...Most regrettably, two of the strongest leader's of our times - Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher - whose names were not mentioned today in most reports, are the most responsible for a free Germany

Well...


From The Times, September 11, 2009
Thatcher told Gorbachev Britain did not want German reunification

Margaret Thatcher with President Gorbachev at the Kremlin. She insisted that the West would not do anything to put at risk the stability of the Soviet Union

Two months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Margaret Thatcher told President Gorbachev that neither Britain nor Western Europe wanted the reunification of Germany and made clear that she wanted the Soviet leader to do what he could to stop it.

In an extraordinary frank meeting with Mr Gorbachev in Moscow in 1989 — never before fully reported — Mrs Thatcher said the destabilisation of Eastern Europe and the breakdown of the Warsaw Pact were also not in the West’s interests. She noted the huge changes happening across Eastern Europe, but she insisted that the West would not push for its decommunisation. Nor would it do anything to risk the security of the Soviet Union...

The whole article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6829735.ece

peb
11-10-2009, 09:45 AM
Scandinavia is capitalist to the bone. Major multinationals - Volvo, Nokia, Saab, etc. Private property, financial sector, the works.

Capitalism with high taxes and a generous safety net has nothing to do with communism, no matter what American right wingers think.





Only because the communists never felt strong enough to wither away with elections, with the Contras (who had a lot of native support), the neighbors, and Reagan all pushing against them.

If you evaluate the full spectrum of capitalism, you'll find outrages like the Guilded Age and Cold War Brazil, but you'll also find shining examples, like Scandinavia, the US in the 1950s and 1960s, Spain after Franco, and yes, even Brazil in the early 21st century.

Do the same for communism. The worst are very bad indeed: Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, many others. But the point is that even the best, most benign examples of communism are all rather nasty themselves: Cuba, Mongolia, ?... a short and mediocre list.

damn. I have got to get away from this place. A godless, athiest writes a post that I cannot argue against. Might be bad for my faith to hang around much longer.

peb
11-10-2009, 09:52 AM
To paraphrase you, there are millions of Germans who'd dispute your theory. ;)

Stirring speeches don't bring down walls - if they did, Obama would be the most powerful US president ever. Reagan and Thatcher were no different from countless other "tough on Communism" cocky politicians. They were just lucky to be crowing as the dawn arrived. They did nothing material to bring down communism beyond what their predecessors were already doing, and if anything, they may have helped prop it up a bit longer than necessary - as the US is doing in Cuba today.

Salvation. This one I disagree with.

Reagan did do somethine. Stirring speeches can bring down walls. The fact that Obama's have not proves nothing. The Soviets, in the late 70s were quite cocky. From what they could see, and many in the west agreed with them, their system was working as good as the alternative. It did take world leaders who were willing to say that we did not have to live indefinitely with communism controlling half the world. It was not just stirring speeches.

George.
11-10-2009, 10:09 AM
It did take world leaders who were willing to say that we did not have to live indefinitely with communism controlling half the world.

But the reason we didn't is that communism was intrinsically unsustainable. Human nature made it devolve into "to each according to his position, from each according to his ability to avoid work."

By 1980, the Soviet Union was having to subsidize every other communist state to keep them afloat - even East Germany - and having to threaten them with intervention to keep them from giving up in disgust. And the USSR itself only kept afloat because of its oil wealth. When the oil glut of the 1980s came along, and with Gorbachev obviously struggling to keep the rotten structure from caving in, any wise old cock could tell the sun was about to rise. Crowing about it don't make them own it. It was completely predictable, and I don't buy the story that the CIA didn't see it coming.

peb
11-10-2009, 10:21 AM
But the reason we didn't is that communism was intrinsically unsustainable. Human nature made it devolve into "to each according to his position, from each according to his ability to avoid work."

By 1980, the Soviet Union was having to subsidize every other communist state to keep them afloat - even East Germany - and having to threaten them with intervention to keep them from giving up in disgust. And the USSR itself only kept afloat because of its oil wealth. When the oil glut of the 1980s came along, and with Gorbachev obviously struggling to keep the rotten structure from caving in, any wise old cock could tell the sun was about to rise. Crowing about it don't make them own it. It was completely predictable, and I don't buy the story that the CIA didn't see it coming.

Easy to say now. At the time it was not completely predictable to the majority of the western world. By the late 70s it had become commonly accepted thought that we had to learn how to live with the communists because they were here to stay. And they were still agressively expanding. And you can come up with scenarios where they would have made it.
If we accept your premise that only the USSR's oil wealth kept the system afloat and the oil glut is what brought it down, what if it didn't happen. The oil glut did not have to happen. Lots of geo-political events could be imagined that would have prevented it. If the price of oil would have stayed high, whose to say that the soviets could not have funded their system indefinitely on high prices.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 10:40 AM
It was completely predictable...

Funny, then, how it wasn't predicted by anyone... :-)

Hindsight always provides very clear vision.

Kaa

George.
11-10-2009, 10:52 AM
Why do you say it wasn't predicted by anyone? Maybe not in the late 1970s that peb talks about, at the height of the oil crisis. But by the mid-1980s the oil glut was in full course and well publicized. That the Soviets depended on oil exports was something they taught in public school. That they were overextended in Afghanistan was in the news, as was the fact that the Party was getting desperate enough to tolerate Gorby's experiments.

I remember the mid-1980s. The image of the Soviet empire was that of a decaying giant, stagnant since the Brezhnev days, and now in deep existential trouble.

Reagan's famous speech was in 1987. By then, it was the equivalent of a speech calling for a Nazi surrender delivered in late 1944. Not much bravery or prescience needed.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:00 AM
Why do you say it wasn't predicted by anyone?

Because it wasn't.


But by the mid-1980s the oil glut was in full course and well publicized. That the Soviets depended on oil exports was something they taught in public school. That they were overextended in Afghanistan was in the news, as was the fact that the Party was getting desperate enough to tolerate Gorby's experiments.

Who taught what in public schools? The USSR was a low-tech mostly self-sufficient country. Lack of oil revenues would have limited the speed of modernization but by itself would not have caused anything to collapse.

They basically had a huge leadership crisis in the first half of the eighties as they couldn't decide on the next General Secretary, but that has nothing to do with oil.

I am of an opinion that the USSR imploded as ruling structures fell apart and one of the main causes for that were Gorbachev's attempts to un-ossify the structures which, in turn, were driven by the understanding that the USSR was falling behind in the Cold War.


I remember the mid-1980s. The image of the Soviet empire was that of a decaying giant, stagnant since the Brezhnev days, and now in deep existential trouble.

Yeah, yeah. But who actually predicted that the USSR would just collapse into dust on its own?

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 11:04 AM
Peb,

I say that communism, in principle, need not be horrible - you say that in principle, it must be.

Marx thought his desired end-state could only emerge after a violent revolution. One where people died, and the existing powers would fight back. It's that way in all revolutions, eh? "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was paired in the French Revolution with the guillotine. Remember that in your revolution, the defiant "No Taxation Without Representation" was shouted at the Brits ... but "Join or die" was directed to fellow American colonists.

Was that the end-state envisioned by your founders? A society where a loose and not-always-accountable rabble of militia patriots intimidated their fellow citizens at gunpoint? No!

Was Marx' (and much more prominently, Lenin's) Vanguard State the end-point he envisioned? No. No more than Robespierre's Terror was the end-point the French revolutionaries wanted. The "end of history" Marx sought on the far side of his revolution was a stateless, classless, communal society. "From each according to his means, to each according to his need," and all that. Not East Germany, with the Stasi listening in on all the phones.

Marx's vision was not unlike St. Francis' vision, before St. Francis was forced to codify a "rule." Not so different from how the early Christians lived too, sharing all possessions in common (so Acts tells us), and making sure the widows and orphans are fed, whether or not they ccould work enough to support themselves (so Paul tells us).

Marx was naive about human nature, as even the experience of religious communal societies demonstrated. Like most communes, they blew up ... eventually. But in principle?

In principle, any revolutionary movement's hell, when the fighting's going on ... or the new regime's being actively subverted by the people they overthrew. France eventually packed up its guillotines; the ancien regime wasn't coming back. America silenced its "Join or Die" patriot-terrorists, subjecting them to the rule of law like everyone else ... when it was clear that the Brits weren't coming back in arms.

Communism? You tell me if Russia or Cuba ever had a chance to relax their guard, and try to get on with developing "the good life" of Marx's vision, after the revolution. They were stuck with Madame Guillotine still in the town square and Robespierre at his table tallying the # of counter-revolutionary heads that fell ... not least because we wouldn't let them get past that stage.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 11:11 AM
Yeah, yeah. But who actually predicted that the USSR would just collapse into dust on its own? Kaa

This man did:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/04/Amalrik.jpg

"If...one views the present "liberalization" as the growing decrepitude of the regime rather than its regeneration, then the logical result will be its death, which will be followed by anarchy."
"There is another powerful factor which works against the chance of any kind of peaceful reconstruction and which is equally negative for all levels of society: this is the extreme isolation in which the regime has placed both society and itself. This isolation has not only separated the regime from society, and all sectors of society from each other, but also put the country in extreme isolation from the rest of the world. This isolation has created for all—from the bureaucratic elite to the lowest social levels—an almost surrealistic picture of the world and of their place in it. Yet the longer this state of affairs helps to perpetuate the status quo, the more rapid and decisive will be its collapse when confrontation with reality becomes inevitable."
"...any state forced to devote so much of its energies to physically and psychologically controlling millions of its own subjects could not survive indefinitely."
He wrote that in 1969, in Moscow, and he predicted that the USSR would collapse between 1980 and 1985.

He was six years out.

He died in a car crash in 1980.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Amalrik

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:15 AM
I say that communism, in principle, need not be horrible

Yeah. That's a major disagreement that we have right there.

What's going to happen with dissenters under your benign communism? How will the wealth differences be kept in check? What will happen to people who do NOT want to work at a state job? How will power be structured?

Marx's communism (the end result) is basically anarchy. Everyone's just so nice and happy and productive that you don't need any incentives or controls at all. It's a dream -- and not a particularly nice dream, too -- eminently unsuitable to real life and real humans.


Communism? You tell me if Russia or Cuba ever had a chance to relax their guard, and try to get on with developing "the good life" of Marx's vision, after the revolution. They were stuck with Madame Guillotine still in the town square and Robespierre at his table tallying the # of counter-revolutionary heads that fell ... not least because we wouldn't let them get past that stage.

:eek: Dude! You're, like, naive. Russia and Cuba desperately needed external enemies to justify total control and redirect anger outwards. The top wasn't interested in "developing the good life of Marx's vision", they were interested in staying in power and for that external enemies are extremely useful.

Kaa

George.
11-10-2009, 11:18 AM
Supposedly, the CIA didn't predict it. Honestly, I don't buy it - unless they were told not to predict it by a President interested in a massive build-up of soon-to-be-unnecessary weapons systems.

If you want to find US presidents who faced down the USSR when it mattered, you need to go back to the 50s and 60s.

George.
11-10-2009, 11:20 AM
Supposedly, the CIA didn't predict it. Honestly, I don't buy it - unless they were told not to predict it by a President interested in a massive build-up of soon-to-be-unnecessary weapons systems.

If you want to find US presidents who faced down the USSR when it mattered, you need to go back to the 50s and 60s.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:22 AM
This man did

Not really. From your link:


The book predicts the country's eventual breakup under the weight of social and ethnic antagonisms and a disastrous war with China. Writing in 1969, Amalrik originally wanted to make 1980 as the date of the Soviet downfall, because 1980 was a round number, but Amalrik was persuaded by a friend to change it to the Orwellian 1984.
Predictions of the Soviet Union's impending demise were discounted by many, if not most, Western academic specialists, and had little impact on mainstream Sovietology. "Amalrik's essay was welcomed as a piece of brilliant literature in the West" but "[v]irtually no one tended to take it at face value as a piece of political prediction."
Of those few who foresaw the fall of the Soviet Union, including Andrei Amalrik, author Walter Laqueur argued in 1995 that they were largely accidental prophets, possessors of both brilliant insight into the regime's weaknesses and even more brilliant luck.Kaa

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:24 AM
Supposedly, the CIA didn't predict it. Honestly, I don't buy it...

Well, do you have any evidence besides wishing for that to be true..? :-)

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 11:28 AM
Yeah, Marx's endpoint vision is a dream, and like most anarchic communes it would probably blow up. You'll remember that on the previous page, I said that my preference was actually for a constitutional social democracy, not an anarchy.

Because most communes blow up. Most anarchies end up being ruled by opportunists. Most people won't tolerate slackers for long, or won't maintain their own productivity through some sense of altruism.

But in principle? In principle, something a whole lot more democratic and responsive could have emerged ... which wasn't Marx's anarchic dreamworld, but wasn't the Stasi either. A social democracy, approached from the other end. Right from the beginning, that never had the space to develop. Maybe it never would have done ... but we'll never have an opportunity to find out.

As to the USSR requiring an enemy in order to keep itself together ... absolutely. Once it codified into a perpetually revolutionary 1-party state, it needed the West as an enemy ... as much as we needed them. Same dynamic, other side of the equation.

downthecreek
11-10-2009, 11:33 AM
Well...


Things are sometimes a little more complicated than they seem.....

I heard this discussed on the radio recently - serious historical programme. A couple of close advisers at that time made the point that Thatcher and Reagan wanted to maintain the stability of Gorbachev. They were concerned that change that was too rapid and that appeared to be "runaway" might trigger a backlash against him that would oust him from power, put much harder liners in place and result in a crackdown that would be be seriously damaging to the whole process in the longer run.

Of course this had to be presented as "the stability of the Soviet Union". They could hardly have made public their concerns. Keeping Gorbachev in power was, indeed, vital to the success of the enterprise. The overt support of the USA and, to a lesser extent, the UK, might well have jeopardised that.

I expect Thatcher had her doubts, but even if she wasn't wholly keen on the unification of Germany (I don't think she was keen on anything "European" in fact) she was certainly more interested in ending the cold war than in keeping it going, which is what "the stability of the USSR" would have meant.

peb
11-10-2009, 11:34 AM
Why do you say it wasn't predicted by anyone? Maybe not in the late 1970s that peb talks about, at the height of the oil crisis. But by the mid-1980s the oil glut was in full course and well publicized. That the Soviets depended on oil exports was something they taught in public school. That they were overextended in Afghanistan was in the news, as was the fact that the Party was getting desperate enough to tolerate Gorby's experiments.

I remember the mid-1980s. The image of the Soviet empire was that of a decaying giant, stagnant since the Brezhnev days, and now in deep existential trouble.

Reagan's famous speech was in 1987. By then, it was the equivalent of a speech calling for a Nazi surrender delivered in late 1944. Not much bravery or prescience needed.


Yes, but you are cherry picking your timeframe.

June, 1982 to the british house of parliment:


What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people.


Note how he used the word "plan". The speech details the plan. It is very consistent with his campaigning throughout the late 1970s.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:37 AM
Because most communes blow up. Most anarchies end up being ruled by opportunists.

ALL communes blow up or disintegrate. ALL anarchies end up being rules by opportunists.

The best-possible versions of communism that I've seen are call kibbutzim -- they were fairly popular in Israel in the 50s and 60s and there are still some left, though as an institution they're dying.


A social democracy, approached from the other end.

The other end is focus on power, concentration on power, gathering of all power in the hands of the state. Why in the world would such a system evolve into a social democracy?


..it needed the West as an enemy ... as much as we needed them. Same dynamic, other side of the equation.

Huh? The USSR disappeared and the West is doing OK without it as the enemy. In which way the West (as opposed to just the military-industrial complex) needed the Soviet Block? I don't think the situation is symmetrical.

Kaa

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:41 AM
A couple of close advisers at that time made the point that Thatcher and Reagan wanted to maintain the stability of Gorbachev. They were concerned that change that was too rapid and that appeared to be "runaway" might trigger a backlash against him that would oust him from power, put much harder liners in place and result in a crackdown that would be be seriously damaging to the whole process in the longer run.

There was also the interesting possibility of the USSR collapsing into a nuclear civil war.

I'd say Thatcher and Reagan's interest in the stability of Gorbachev was wise. It's amazing how neatly and quietly the Soviet Union imploded. I am not sure whether anyone can claim credit for that -- we all were just very lucky.

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 11:42 AM
Peb,

I say that communism, in principle, need not be horrible - you say that in principle, it must be.

Marx thought his desired end-state could only emerge after a violent revolution. One where people died, and the existing powers would fight back. It's that way in all revolutions, eh? "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" was paired in the French Revolution with the guillotine. Remember that in your revolution, the defiant "No Taxation Without Representation" was shouted at the Brits ... but "Join or die" was directed to fellow American colonists.

Was that the end-state envisioned by your founders? A society where a loose and not-always-accountable rabble of militia patriots intimidated their fellow citizens at gunpoint? No!

Was Marx' (and much more prominently, Lenin's) Vanguard State the end-point he envisioned? No. No more than Robespierre's Terror was the end-point the French revolutionaries wanted. The "end of history" Marx sought on the far side of his revolution was a stateless, classless, communal society. "From each according to his means, to each according to his need," and all that. Not East Germany, with the Stasi listening in on all the phones.

Marx's vision was not unlike St. Francis' vision, before St. Francis was forced to codify a "rule." Not so different from how the early Christians lived too, sharing all possessions in common (so Acts tells us), and making sure the widows and orphans are fed, whether or not they ccould work enough to support themselves (so Paul tells us).

Marx was naive about human nature, as even the experience of religious communal societies demonstrated. Like most communes, they blew up ... eventually. But in principle?

In principle, any revolutionary movement's hell, when the fighting's going on ... or the new regime's being actively subverted by the people they overthrew. France eventually packed up its guillotines; the ancien regime wasn't coming back. America silenced its "Join or Die" patriot-terrorists, subjecting them to the rule of law like everyone else ... when it was clear that the Brits weren't coming back in arms.

Communism? You tell me if Russia or Cuba ever had a chance to relax their guard, and try to get on with developing "the good life" of Marx's vision, after the revolution. They were stuck with Madame Guillotine still in the town square and Robespierre at his table tallying the # of counter-revolutionary heads that fell ... not least because we wouldn't let them get past that stage.

So the final stage, communism, would not be horribly tyrantical, only the means of getting it there. Well, in this case the ends do not come close to justifying the means.

And you cannot compare Marx's philosophy to St Francis or St Paul or the earliest Christian community. It is not even close. Not in the means AND not in the end. The Christian saints you sight would have recoilded in horror at Marx's "dictartorship of the proletariat". And while they may have supported small communities living in common, there is no evidence that any of them ever envisioned an entire society doing so or that they thought it would work.

Communism will always be terrible. You cannot have the state owning everything, controlling everything (industry, prices, religion, education, etc), destroying all existing institutions and not have it be horrible. These are all traits that were polcies by every communist regime we have seen and they were all traits that Marx expected during his "dictatorship of the proletariat".

TomF
11-10-2009, 11:45 AM
Yes, the West needed an enemy. Both to keep our economy toodling along, and against whom to define ourselves. While we've swapped out various enemies over the centuries, enemies have always served that function.

In the 30s/40s it was Germany/Japan. Immediately after, the Reds. Now Islamist fundamentalists, and China lurks on the horizon (morphed from Communist into a Fascist state).

Without an enemy, there's no call for the standing army, or the weapons manufacturing, or the R&D. Without an enemy ideology, we've no firm boundaries to our own; they're a mirror.

While I think it would be a great and responsible thing to be able to construct an identity autonomously, and find another way of running the economy ... it's manifestly not happened.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 11:47 AM
Come off it, Kaa - Amalrik was pretty much right in his assessment of the causes of the collapse. Most Western pundits thought he was wrong (and were eventually proved wrong themselves) but that does not mean that he was wrong.

And, as one who read his book at the time when it was first published in the West (the year I went to University) that book was quite well known. Controversial, maybe, but well argued and well known.

peb
11-10-2009, 11:49 AM
Yeah, Marx's endpoint vision is a dream
It is a dream to idealists such as yourself who can somehow envision a possible utopia on earth created by man.
It was not a dream to Marx. It was the inevitable result of history. To a communist of the late 19th century, it was as much as were we are going as the Second Coming is to me. The means of getting there was also a fact of life in their mind, revolution intended to destroy all of society was inevitable to them.
I must say, I think your posts on this topic goes along way towards answering George.'s original obseervation: "Today is the anniversary. The most world-changing event in most of our lifetimes, little remarked ".

Kaa
11-10-2009, 11:58 AM
Come off it, Kaa - Amalrik was pretty much right in his assessment of the causes of the collapse. Most Western pundits thought he was wrong (and were eventually proved wrong themselves) but that does not mean that he was wrong.

And, as one who read his book at the time when it was first published in the West (the year I went to University) that book was quite well known. Controversial, maybe, but well argued and well known.

Well-known, yes, but my point is that no one (of consequence, at least) took his predictions seriously.

At any point in time -- starting from 1917 -- you can find predictions that the Soviet Russia / USSR will collapse in the more-or-less near future. If, regardless of the season, every day I say "tomorrow it will snow", eventually I will be right. That does not mean I made a correct prediction, though.

And if you want predictions, why not Reagan, 1982? :-)

"What I am describing now is a plan and a hope for the long term -- the march of freedom and democracy which will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash-heap of history as it has left other tyrannies which stifle the freedom and muzzle the self-expression of the people."

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 11:59 AM
So the final stage, communism, would not be horribly tyrantical, only the means of getting it there. Well, in this case the ends do not come close to justifying the means.

And you cannot compare Marx's philosophy to St Francis or St Paul or the earliest Christian community. It is not even close. Not in the means AND not in the end. The Christian saints you sight would have recoilded in horror at Marx's "dictartorship of the proletariat". And while they may have supported small communities living in common, there is no evidence that any of them ever envisioned an entire society doing so or that they thought it would work. Francis would certainly have recoiled at the Dictatorship of the Proletariat ... just as he recoiled at some of the hierarchical and authoritarian practices within his own home institution. The end-state of a world in which all contribute meaningful activity to the degree they can, and are cared for by their fellows ... rather describes the Kingdom of Heaven. By living in community and modeling that, they were explicitly attempting to help bring it in. It is absolutely true that neither Francis, nor the early Church thought such could occur on a massive scale absent God. But the goal ... resembles Marx's goal.

Communism will always be terrible. You cannot have the state owning everything, controlling everything (industry, prices, religion, education, etc), destroying all existing institutions and not have it be horrible. These are all traits that were polcies by every communist regime we have seen and they were all traits that Marx expected during his "dictatorship of the proletariat".And Marx expected such coercive tactics would be left behind when the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was also left behind.

Has any communist state had a viable opportunity to try to emerge from the Dictatorship of the Proletariat? How long would an anarchical East Germany have survived un-annexed, if they'd miraculously done away with their state apparatus, with the USSR's blessing?

I'm not arguing that the Soviets were all altruists simply aching to let their inner peaceniks run free ... but I am arguing that when you and someone else are in a barroom brawl, it's unlikely that either will become a pacifist between one broken bottle and the next. Both guys keep the other one aggressive.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:01 PM
Yes, the West needed an enemy.

Nope. Enemies are highly useful to politicians, no doubt. But the West did not need enemies to survive. The Communists did. That's a very big difference.

Kaa

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:03 PM
Has any communist state had a viable opportunity to try to emerge from the Dictatorship of the Proletariat?

Tom, can you describe a "non-threatened" communist state? How would it work? How would power be structured? What will happen to the dissidents?

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:08 PM
Nope. Enemies are highly useful to politicians, no doubt. But the West did not need enemies to survive. The Communists did. That's a very big difference.

KaaNow who's being naive?

Without an enemy, all the internal stresses and strains assume greater importance. You think there'd be as much internal division in the US polity, if the Cold War was still in full swing? An enemy has a wonderful way of bringing together a domestic coalition, and setting clear boundaries for the expression of dissent.

Sure there's a difference, but it's a difference of degree, not of kind.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:15 PM
Without an enemy, all the internal stresses and strains assume greater importance. You think there'd be as much internal division in the US polity, if the Cold War was still in full swing? An enemy has a wonderful way of bringing together a domestic coalition, and setting clear boundaries for the expression of dissent.

Sure there's a difference, but it's a difference of degree, not of kind.

Yes, so? The West is/would be more fractious, less united, yes, more internal divisions and so on. That's fine, that's not a problem. I would argue that the US at the moment needs less unity and more division, actually.

The point is, the West can deal with it. It does not need to have an external enemy, though, as I've said, external enemies are useful. As opposed to that, the USSR was not viable without external enemies. One could argue, in fact, that the collapse of the USSR was caused by the fact that most Russians stopped looking at the rest of the world as enemies and THAT is what led to the implosion.

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 12:16 PM
And Marx expected such coercive tactics would be left behind when the Dictatorship of the Proletariat was also left behind.

Has any communist state had a viable opportunity to try to emerge from the Dictatorship of the Proletariat? How long would an anarchical East Germany have survived un-annexed, if they'd miraculously done away with their state apparatus, with the USSR's blessing?

I'm not arguing that the Soviets were all altruists simply aching to let their inner peaceniks run free ... but I am arguing that when you and someone else are in a barroom brawl, it's unlikely that either will become a pacifist between one broken bottle and the next. Both guys keep the other one aggressive.

Truly astounding. So you are actually saying that the ends, this hypothetical perfect world, would have justified the means. If the big,bad west would have just turned its head and ignored the horrible autrocities and let the system expand into whatever country it so desired, ie given a viable opportunity to emerge from its horrors, then it could have worked out wonderfully.

I am actuall shocked of this idea. Let us destroy everything, your churhces, your farms, your government institutions. Let us force you do do what we want. At the end, if you survive, you will thank us.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:24 PM
I am actuall shocked of this idea.

It was a MAJOR theme of Left/Soviet propaganda for decades.

"The USSR is a peace-loving country that just wants to build a paradise for workers, but has to divert efforts and resources at defending itself from aggressive imperialism which is unable to tolerate happy and productive workers without capitalists".

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:24 PM
Tom, can you describe a "non-threatened" communist state? How would it work? How would power be structured? What will happen to the dissidents?

KaaHmmm. A thought experiment.

By non-threatened, I'm assuming that foreign states will stop any and all activities which threaten the security of the country, including actively trying to undermine the country's ideological foundations. Countries could trade, visit, share information etc. as they wished, but on the premise that each country has a perfect right to exist as they choose to.

Relax the external threat, and the control over the domestic population can also relax; you're no longer seeking dissidents who may be agents of your enemies. Diversity of opinion and approach can be welcomed, because it is not a covert threat.

As the internal and external threats to the country's existence subside, the military and domestic security forces' roles change. More a police function than a spying/enforcement role. The same can begin to occur in the political structure; opportunities for democratic input, the breakdown of government agencies designed to impose central ideologies and discover/control dissent.

In the longer run, likely the political structure would start to look more like a loose federation of regional or municipal co-ops, which come together in a central parliament to address issues that need to be handled at that scale.

Dissidence would ultimately be no more a concern than in any other democratic society. The primary difference would be collective ownership of factories, institutions etc., not unlike in major co-op initiatives that already exist.

Will this ever come about? Not in my lifetime.

peb
11-10-2009, 12:25 PM
The end-state of a world in which all contribute meaningful activity to the degree they can, and are cared for by their fellows ... rather describes the Kingdom of Heaven. By living in community and modeling that, they were explicitly attempting to help bring it in. It is absolutely true that neither Francis, nor the early Church thought such could occur on a massive scale absent God. But the goal ... resembles Marx's goal
Marx's goal only resembles the Kingdom of Heaven in a horribly distorted image. Like many corrupt philosophies, they take an idea from the church and corrupt it to such a degree that the result becomes horrid. At that point, further comparisons become a farce.

I would add, we don't know what type of economic system will exist in the kingdom of heaven, we just know that our needs, such as the exist, will be satisfied.

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:30 PM
I'm saying, Peb, that virtually all revolutions go that route. Russia did, certainly; so did France. And America. And various other bits of Europe in their civil and religious wars over the centuries. In fact, find me an actual, shootin' and fightin' Revolution that didn't. Were they all execrable, to be avoided?

All of them arguing that the ends justify the means.

Do I think this? No. Almost in every case (I can't actually think of one offhand), the revolutionary ends don't justify the means IMO. But if you find it shocking, take it up with the Tea Baggers who're now busily renewing Revolutionary War slogans and symbols.

peb
11-10-2009, 12:30 PM
It was a MAJOR theme of Left/Soviet propaganda for decades.

"The USSR is a peace-loving country that just wants to build a paradise for workers, but has to divert efforts and resources at defending itself from aggressive imperialism which is unable to tolerate happy and productive workers without capitalists".

Kaa
Yea, I guess so. But what is shocking is that people, whom we often respect for their thoughts, still believe it and are so blunt about it.

I guess I did alude to it in my origninal post to George. on this thread. If someone believes in this stuff, it is obvious why the remembrance of the fall is littled remarked upon and the celebration in Germany had such a "weird" feeling to it (IMO). Perhaps, it sheds light on why Obama did not go. The fall of the Berlin wall (there I go using the term I dislike) is not something to really celebrate because it did mark the end of a grand experiment?

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:32 PM
Marx's goal only resembles the Kingdom of Heaven in a horribly distorted image. Like many corrupt philosophies, they take an idea from the church and corrupt it to such a degree that the result becomes horrid. At that point, further comparisons become a farce.

I would add, we don't know what type of economic system will exist in the kingdom of heaven, we just know that our needs, such as the exist, will be satisfied.I've often thought of Marxism as a Christian heresy, sure. Assuming that humans have the capacity to bring in the Kingdom all by ourselves. As always, it comes down to pride.

But the goal of having all living in peace, fulfilled by doing meaningful and engaging work, and caring for those who can't manage alone ... doesn't seem so horribly distorted.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:33 PM
Hmmm. A thought experiment.

By non-threatened, I'm assuming that foreign states will stop any and all activities which threaten the security of the country, including actively trying to undermine the country's ideological foundations. Countries could trade, visit, share information etc. as they wished, but on the premise that each country has a perfect right to exist as they choose to.

Yep.


Relax the external threat, and the control over the domestic population can also relax; you're no longer seeking dissidents who may be agents of your enemies. Diversity of opinion and approach can be welcomed, because it is not a covert threat.

:eek: Nope. Did you really believe everything the Soviet Union was pumping out??

Dissidends were proclaimed to be agents of external enemies -- but everyone knew it was internal dissent that was being suppressed. Do you think that people at the show trials were really spies, all of them?

The major threat to communism is internal -- so there is no reason to relax control over your population. In fact, because there's no ready outlet for dissatisfaction, the repression needs to strengthen.


As the internal and external threats to the country's existence subside

Why would internal threats subside? What, all dissidents were agents of American imperialism, or something?


The same can begin to occur in the political structure; opportunities for democratic input, the breakdown of government agencies designed to impose central ideologies and discover/control dissent.

Why would that happen?

You're basically describing a scenario in which a dictator, on fully consolidating his power, begins to disperse and surrender it -- for no good reason. Why would the Communists stop trying to impose their ideology?


Dissidence would ultimately be no more a concern than in any other democratic society. The primary difference would be collective ownership of factories, institutions etc., not unlike in major co-op initiatives that already exist.

Let's take a guy. He doesn't want to do what the society considers productive work, that is, he doesn't want a state job. A free-rider. What will happen to him?

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 12:34 PM
Do I think this? No.
vs



Relax the external threat, and the control over the domestic population can also relax; you're no longer seeking dissidents who may be agents of your enemies. Diversity of opinion and approach can be welcomed, because it is not a covert threat.

As the internal and external threats to the country's existence subside, the military and domestic security forces' roles change. More a police function than a spying/enforcement role. The same can begin to occur in the political structure; opportunities for democratic input, the breakdown of government agencies designed to impose central ideologies and discover/control dissent.

In the longer run, likely the political structure would start to look more like a loose federation of regional or municipal co-ops, which come together in a central parliament to address issues that need to be handled at that scale.

(bloldness added by me)

Tom, make up your mind.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 12:36 PM
Let us contemplate, briefly, the city of Münster in 1534...

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:38 PM
Well, the USSR constitution had an answer for that ... taken from one of the New Testament letters. If you can work but don't, you don't eat.

Kaa, I agree that most of the dissidents were internal. That most of the control structure was internal, about exerting control over the population. It was paranoid, obsessive. Evil, IMO.

What made it so paranoid, so obsessive? Was there no "trigger event" to bring on the post-traumatic stress?

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:41 PM
Peb,

In a thought experiment, I can envision a way where a currently Dictatorship of the Proletariat type state could become something else, yet still remain essentially a collective.

In a situation where there's currently a class struggle (as in the Industrial Revolution in England, within which Marx wrote), I see no benefits from engaging in violent revolution. The ends do not justify the means .. and in fact can be achieved to one degree or another through other, moral means.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:44 PM
Let us contemplate, briefly, the city of Münster in 1534...

Not a pretty sight :D


...his head severed and placed on a pole for all in the city to see, and his genitals nailed to the city gate.

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 12:45 PM
Let us contemplate, briefly, the city of Münster in 1534...the attempt at an Anabaptist theocracy which was violently put down? Or the resulting formation of the (peaceful, hardworking and largely communal living) Mennonites?

Kaa
11-10-2009, 12:48 PM
Well, the USSR constitution had an answer for that ... taken from one of the New Testament letters. If you can work but don't, you don't eat.

We're talking about communism, not socialism, remember? Under communism, everyone receives according to his needs, is that not so?

So what's going to happen to that free-rider? Will he starve to death? Be sent to the labor camp for the crime of being unemployed? How will your democratic communism deal with him?


What made it so paranoid, so obsessive? Was there no "trigger event" to bring on the post-traumatic stress?

Yes, the trigger event is taking power.

This is an authoritarian totalitarian regime. It is paranoid and obsessive by its nature.

You seem to forget that power corrupts.

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 12:49 PM
Peb,

In a thought experiment, I can envision a way where a currently Dictatorship of the Proletariat type state could become something else, yet still remain essentially a collective.

In a situation where there's currently a class struggle (as in the Industrial Revolution in England, within which Marx wrote), I see no benefits from engaging in violent revolution. The ends do not justify the means .. and in fact can be achieved to one degree or another through other, moral means.

Ok, but considering the mistake of a marxist revolution was made in Russia, it would have been best for us to turn aside and ignore the atrocities and violent expansion of the revolution and let it play out because it could have worked? Even though you acknowledge the christian beleif that it can't be done (referring to your thought of Marxism as a Chistian heresy)?

Cuyahoga Chuck
11-10-2009, 01:02 PM
Many decades ago I read an criticism of the Soviet system that rang true at the time.
The writer said the Communists didn't know how to run a country. Those in power were all the winners of various deadly political conspiracies and they couldn't shake the idea that there were gazzilions of conspirators out among the populace trying to take the leadership down. Consequently they spent too much time worrying about what was in every citizen's head and too little time trying to make the government work.
The government functioned thru' oh so many bureaucrats who were addicted to the idea that to show the least bit of personal initiative was to put yourself in the crosshairs of the higher ups. So the rules were enforced as promulgated even if they were nonsensical.

TomF
11-10-2009, 01:15 PM
Ok, but considering the mistake of a marxist revolution was made in Russia, it would have been best for us to turn aside and ignore the atrocities and violent expansion of the revolution and let it play out because it could have worked? Even though you acknowledge the christian beleif that it can't be done (referring to your thought of Marxism as a Chistian heresy)?Despite what Kaa thinks, I think that a lot can be said for understanding actions/reactions, causes/effects.

The Soviets became as paranoid and oppressive, as totalitarian and authoritarian as they did in response to stimulus. Not ex nihila. Like an abusive parent was usually once an abused child. Or a biting dog was often a beaten dog.

I do not think that Marxism will bring about heaven on earth any more decisively than constitutional democracy will. But it might have been less the other direction with less prompting.

peb
11-10-2009, 01:45 PM
The Soviets became as paranoid and oppressive, as totalitarian and authoritarian as they did in response to stimulus. Not ex nihila. Like an abusive parent was usually once an abused child. Or a biting dog was often a beaten dog.
Considering the early history of the Soviet Union, 1920s and 1930s, I think you are wrong. While the war with the whites in the very early days of the revolution was somewhat supported from the outside, but the early 20s that was pretty much over. During the 20s and especially the 30s, there was little threat from the outside. Quite the contrary, there was a lot of (misplaced) respect and ardmiration in the west for what the Russians were trying to accomplish. This was exemplified with western industrialists sometimes going to great lengths to try to do business with the Soviets. In the 30s you could say Nazi Germany was a threat, but it would be a stretch to say it provided any causation for Stalin's purges and forced famines.

TomF
11-10-2009, 02:15 PM
Considering the early history of the Soviet Union, 1920s and 1930s, I think you are wrong. While the war with the whites in the very early days of the revolution was somewhat supported from the outside, but the early 20s that was pretty much over. During the 20s and especially the 30s, there was little threat from the outside. Quite the contrary, there was a lot of (misplaced) respect and ardmiration in the west for what the Russians were trying to accomplish. This was exemplified with western industrialists sometimes going to great lengths to try to do business with the Soviets. In the 30s you could say Nazi Germany was a threat, but it would be a stretch to say it provided any causation for Stalin's purges and forced famines.I'm not an apologist for Stalin. He was a sociopath and a pragmatist, not a Marxist ideologue. Had he lived in Italy, he'd have been Mussolini, and used Italy's political structure and ideological justifications to assume and centralize power. He had the actual idealogues ... like Trotsky ... assassinated.

Stalin and Putin, I think, have much in common. In each case, the appeal to the citizens is essentially about strength and national pride - achieved with a measured ruthlessness. But in each case the individual's motivation is personal power, not ideology.

I think, though, that Stalin so successfully moulded the 1-party state to serve his sociopathological need to discover and eliminate competition, and so competently cloaked that structure in the language of Marxist ideology, that it would have been very difficult for any successor to really change it. The party produced power-seeking sociopaths, who would knife each other at the sign of weakness ... and I believe, were never actually interested in achieving Marx's vision. Only in using it as a motivational icon for the people.

Could the USSR have become different, if we'd not been quite so aggressive in reaction to it? Could it have moved somewhat from what Marx would have called "crude communism" towards a more authentically Marxist vision? I dunno. Much has been written about Latin American juntas making the "transition to democracy;" if it's possible for one kind of authoritarian state to transform itself, it's likely possible for another kind to do the same. I think though that Stalin's fingerprints were so all-over the Soviet political system that it couldn't transform itself; it had to break, and be superceded.

It manifestly hasn't actually happened though with Russia, despite appearances. I think Russia's close to as oppressive now as it ever was in the 20th Century, despite no longer being Communist. Perhaps because in a strict Marxist definition, it's questionable whether the Soviet power structure ever was Marxist ... It was instead, simply opportunist.

peb
11-10-2009, 02:23 PM
I'm not an apologist for Stalin. He was a sociopath and a pragmatist, not a Marxist ideologue. Had he lived in Italy, he'd have been Mussolini, and used Italy's political structure and ideological justifications to assume and centralize power. He had the actual idealogues ... like Trotsky ... assassinated.

Stalin and Putin, I think, have much in common. In each case, the appeal to the citizens is essentially about strength and national pride - achieved with a measured ruthlessness. But in each case the individual's motivation is personal power, not ideology.

I think, though, that Stalin so successfully moulded the 1-party state to serve his sociopathological need to discover and eliminate competition, and so competently cloaked that structure in the language of Marxist ideology, that it would have been very difficult for any successor to really change it. The party produced power-seeking sociopaths, who would knife each other at the sign of weakness ... and I believe, were never actually interested in achieving Marx's vision. Only in using it as a motivational icon for the people.

Could the USSR have become different? Could it have moved somewhat from what Marx would have called "crude communism" towards a more authentically Marxist vision? I dunno. Much has been written about Latin American juntas making the "transition to democracy;" if it's possible for one kind of authoritarian state to transform itself, it's likely possible for another kind to do the same.

It manifestly hasn't happened though with Russia ... which is close to as oppressive now as it ever was in the 20th Century. Despite no longer being Communist.

Two thoughts come to mind. First of all, regardless what stalin was, his atrocities happened largely without external causation, to which you are attributing the soviet atrocities. Secondly, placing it all on Stalin's shoulders is not historically accurate either. Lenin was no saint. He was a tyrrant himself. And the idealogue Trotsky was one of his willing hatchet men.

Keith Wilson
11-10-2009, 02:25 PM
I think Russia's close to as oppressive now as it ever was in the 20th Century, despite no longer being Communist. I would have to disagree. I certainly won't defend Putin, but one can't really compare the repression going on today in Russia with the Soviet Union in the '30s and '40s. The Soviets were far worse.

TomF
11-10-2009, 02:29 PM
I would have to disagree. I certainly won't defend Putin, but one can't really compare the repression going on today in Russia with the Soviet Union in the '30s and '40s. The Soviets were far worse.You're right Keith - I used too broad a brush. However steely-eyed Putin is, he's not sending millions to their deaths in the gulags.

Of course, we're not sending hundreds of thousands of our own soldiers to their deaths in single battles in a war anymore either. I don't think it's because our generals are more humane.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 02:32 PM
I think Russia's close to as oppressive now as it ever was in the 20th Century, despite no longer being Communist.

That's umm... is not a reality-based viewpoint :D

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 02:40 PM
Two thoughts come to mind. First of all, regardless what stalin was, his atrocities happened largely without external causation, to which you are attributing the soviet atrocities. Secondly, placing it all on Stalin's shoulders is not historically accurate either. Lenin was no saint. He was a tyrrant himself. And the idealogue Trotsky was one of his willing hatchet men.I think, Peb, that Stalin's purges have more to do with his own sociopathology than with Marxist ideology.

In contrast, I think Lenin and Trotsky were true believers. Their killings etc. were in pursuit of what they thought was the Marxist Promised Land.

I think that later Soviets ... post-Stalin ... inherited a political and bureaucratic structure that showed Stalin's paranoid, sociopathological characteristics. And that when the West had to deal with a paranoid USSR, the least effective way to bring about positive change was to stay in a constant state of war. Where the sociopathological and paranoid tendencies of the Soviet apparatus had actual reasons for fear, actual reasons to suspect spying and sabotage.

McCarthyism and the like contributed to the continuing paranoia of the Soviets, the continued internal repression of Eastern Bloc populations, and impaired any real glimmerings and possibilities for change which might have arisen.

A paranoid boxer might be talked into dropping his guard if you're not threatening him, given enough time. But he's not going to drop his guard when you're standing there waving your fist, telling him you'll drop him given half a chance.

TomF
11-10-2009, 02:41 PM
That's umm... is not a reality-based viewpoint :D

KaaDo take a look at post #99.

peb
11-10-2009, 02:47 PM
...
Of course, we're not sending hundreds of thousands of our own soldiers to their deaths in single battles in a war anymore either. I don't think it's because our generals are more humane.

Well, this may be a major thread drift, but I think I will have to disagree strongly with TomF again. The generals of WWII seemed to have little regard for non-combatant casualties. The generals of WWI seemed to have little regard for combatant casualties. Both, to a shocking degree at times. Our generals today do not share those traits. Quite the opposite is the case today. It seems to be an absurd statement that our generals today are not more humane than the generals of the first half of the 20th century.

To take it a step further, I would even argue that this change has largely been driven by the military establishment itself. I am almost certain that it was military leadership that came to the conclusion between the wars that another war fought as WWI was fought would be a disaster. Off the top of my head, I don't recall any political leadership condemning the fire bombings of WWII. Much of the advance weaponry that was developed in the last twenty years of so had the explicit goal of minimizing "collateral" damage. I don't remember that being a hot topic in American politics during that time frame. The military pretty much took the lead on the issue as they found that the technology was feasable.

What would you attribute it to, if not the generals (ie military establishment) being more humane?

Kaa
11-10-2009, 02:51 PM
Could the USSR have become different, if we'd not been quite so aggressive in reaction to it? Could it have moved somewhat from what Marx would have called "crude communism" towards a more authentically Marxist vision? I dunno.

Tom, make up your mind.

First you said that the horrors of Soviet Russia arose because it felt threatened by external enemies.

Then, when peb correctly pointed out to you that in the 20s and the 30s there was little, if any, external threat to Russia, you said that oh, Communism turned out to be horrible because the Russians were unlucky and got a sociopath in the top seat.

Interesting, of course, that exactly the same thing happened to the Chinese. And the North Koreans, to take a more recent example. A rather consistent run of bad luck, don't you think?

Alternatively, do you think that if Trotsky were to win his struggle with Stalin, the Soviet Union would have turned out much, much different? "Socialism with a human face", really? You think Trotsky was particularly compassionate, or interested in human rights?

Looks to me like someone came up with the idea of adamantine men, and people set out to make some. A great idea, humans would be hard, clear, invincible, brilliant. The diamond is formed under high heat and heavy pressure, right? Let's put live people in furnaces and under presses, then, and attempt to make an adamantine man. Yeah, well, all you get is bloody splatters and blackened bones, but that's only because there are external interferences, or the wrong guy is running the furnace, or people don't survive enough time in the flame. More! More people into the furnaces! Hotter temperature! Higher pressures!

And now we have people like you who look away from the rows of unmarked graves and speak that maybe, if external danger didn't force the experiments, they would have succeeded. Maybe people *did* spend too little time in the furnace and if they managed to be there a bit more, an adamantine man would have emerged. Or maybe the guys who were pushing the people into the furnaces got to enjoy the job too much -- who could have foreseen that? Those who designed the furnaces wished well, didn't they?

I am sorry, I think you're dangerously naive.

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 03:01 PM
I think, Peb, that Stalin's purges have more to do with his own sociopathology than with Marxist ideology.

In contrast, I think Lenin and Trotsky were true believers. Their killings etc. were in pursuit of what they thought was the Marxist Promised Land.

So you admit that atrocities occurred largely without external causation. These atrocities started out as a "legitimate" result of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. You further admit that the system devaloved into a utterly sociopathic regime under Stalin, again without external causation. I would add that the attempts at violent international expansion of the system were started in the very early days, largely without external causation.
I am just having a hard time understanding your view that communist regimes must not always be tyrannical. As established, the philosophy of the system predicts the dictarship of the proletariat. Furthermor, your argument that the historical examples we have tyranny being caused by external threats seems to be wrong on the face of it, since the tyranny started first.

TomF
11-10-2009, 03:19 PM
Dangerously naive my butt.



What I'm trying to do is show that in principle, it is possible that a communist country could emerge which isn't horrible. To do that, I've had to remind people:

that Marx' goal was no more horrible than, say, Voltaire's. The desired end-state, if ever achieved, wouldn't be horrible.
that the violent revolutionary means towards the end Marx advocated are horrible, as are all violent revolutionary means. But it's as big a mistake to confuse the Vanguard Party with Marx's goal as to confuse Robespierre's Terror with Voltaire's.
that states at least for a while reflect their beginnings - and the character traits of those who mould them.
that states do not exist in a vacuum any more than individuals do - and will respond in predictable ways to stimulus.
that other authoritarian states have made peaceful transitions to democracy; proving that in principle it is possible to do so.
Finally, that we've examples of a number of Revolutionary states which have transcended exceptionally bloody and paranoid beginnings to start to embody their revolutions' actual goals. Again, it's been done - so it's possible.
Do I believe that Communism is a great choice, or even a likely choice to make a transition away from authoritarianism once such is begun? No. I prefer social democracy. I prefer relying on Constituional checks and balances from the outset, rather than relying on an extraordinary expression of altruism in a system designed to smother it.

Communism as it's been practiced is a variant of authoritarianism - and has halted before it ever got out of that warring, revolutionary stage. We've not, in the 100 years or so of examples, yet seen a communist state begin in conditions which might allow it to get out of that warring, revolutionary state. Except Nicaragua ... which managed a democratic transition to something else.

A Perfect Communist Society, as Marx hoped would eventually come to be ... is as naive a hope as looking for A Perfect Democracy, or one of Plato's Philosopher Kings. Whatever emerges will be flawed to one degree or another ... as with any of our human systems. But it is, in principle, possible for a not-horrible communist state to emerge. Not as likely as a not-horrible constitutional democracy to emerge (which is part of why I prefer them), but not impossible.

What do you think Peb, Kaa ... is it possible to win a lottery? I won a cake once, and a few free cups of coffee on other occasions. And there's an actual person in northern Manitoba who won $50M the other day. Is it far more likely to not win $50M?

You bet. But it's possible.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 03:31 PM
But it is, in principle, possible for a not-horrible communist state to emerge.

It is, in principle, possible for a diamond to emerge out of a human being after application of sufficient heat and pressure.


Is it possible to win a lottery?

That's an entirely wrong analogy. With countries and populations you have the Law of Large Numbers operating in full force.

Communism-like structures can exists in small self-selected communities -- kibbutzim is a good example. There is none, zero, nada, not a single example of a whole society attempting communism and not descending into tyranny and oppression.

Kaa

peb
11-10-2009, 03:36 PM
Dangerously naive my butt.


What I'm trying to do is show that in principle, it is possible that a communist country could emerge which isn't horrible. To do that, I've had to remind people:

that Marx' goal was no more horrible than, say, Voltaire's. The desired end-state, if ever achieved, wouldn't be horrible.
that the violent revolutionary means towards the end Marx advocated are horrible, as are all violent revolutionary means. But it's as big a mistake to confuse the Vanguard Party with Marx's goal as to confuse Robespierre's Terror with Voltaire's.
that states at least for a while reflect their beginnings - and the character traits of those who mould them.
that states do not exist in a vacuum any more than individuals do - and will respond in predictable ways to stimulus.
other authoritarian states have made peaceful transitions to democracy; proving that in principle it is possible to do so.
Finally, we've examples of a number of Revolutionary states which have transcended exceptionally bloody and paranoid beginnings to start to embody their revolutions' actual goals. Again, it's been done - so it's possible.
Do I believe that Communism is a great choice, or even a likely choice to make a transition away from authoritarianism once such is begun? No. I prefer social democracy. I prefer relying on Constituional checks and balances from the outset, rather than relying on an extraordinary expression of altruism in a system designed to smother it.

But Communism as it's been practiced ... is a variant of authoritarianism. Communism as Marx hoped it would eventually come to be ... is as naive a hope as looking for a perfect democracy, or one of Plato's Philosopher Kings.

But it is, in principle, possible for a not-horrible communist state to emerge. Not as likely as a not-horrible constitutional democracy to emerge (which is part of why I prefer them), but not impossible.

What do you think Peb, Kaa? Is it possible to win a lottery? There's an actual person in northern Manitoba who won $50M the other day. Is it far more likely to not win $50M?

You bet.

Yes Kaa is correct, dangerously naive. And that is the only reason why have spent so much time on this thread.



that Marx' goal was no more horrible than, say, Voltaire's. The desired end-state, if ever achieved, wouldn't be horrible.

Even if I accept this is true, you yourself said it does not matter, the ends does not justify the means if the means is a violent revolution along the lines of what Marx wanted or what we observed.



that the violent revolutionary means towards the end Marx advocated are horrible, as are all violent revolutionary means. But it's as big a mistake to confuse the Vanguard Party with Marx's goal as to confuse Robespierre's Terror with Voltaire's

Contradicting yourself. You admit that here that communism requires the violent revolutionary means. It is an integral part of Marx's philosophy. You said previously that it is not justified. But here you say, don't don't confuse it with the ends. You cannot seperate the two. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat was accepted by ALL communists as a necessary prelude to the ends.


other authoritarian states have made peaceful transitions to democracy; proving that in principle it is possible to do so.

irrelavant. We are not talking about other types of systems. We are talking about communism. Furthermore, the assertion seems questionable. The other authoritarian states you have referenced, eg. the philipines and argetina junta, did they make peaceful transitions to democracy without a collapse of the authoritarian regime? Did the same political party stay in power? I think not, the power structure collapses, just as it did in the good ole USSR.



that states do not exist in a vacuum any more than individuals do - and will respond in predictable ways to stimulus

No one argues this in general. But the general point does not help your case at all because it has been shown that external stimulus was not the cause of Communist tyranny.



Finally, we've examples of a number of Revolutionary states which have transcended exceptionally bloody and paranoid beginnings to start to embody their revolutions' actual goals. Again, it's been done - so it's possible

Do we? Which ones? I hope you are not again using the American revolution as the example. I let that slide last time, but it was really absurd. It was not exceptionally bloody. It was not really a revolution in anyway that would match the commies. It did not seek to overthrow all institutions in society. It was a war for independence. Beyond the war, not that bloody or tyrranical at all.

With respect to your original quesiton, "must communism always be tyrranical?", all of your arguments to the contrary seem invalid.

Dangerously naive? Very much so.

TomF
11-10-2009, 03:42 PM
It is, in principle, possible for a diamond to emerge out of a human being after application of sufficient heat and pressure.When I'm dead, feel free to try.
That's an entirely wrong analogy. With countries and populations you have the Law of Large Numbers operating in full force.

Communism-like structures can exists in small self-selected communities -- kibbutzim is a good example. There is none, zero, nada, not a single example of a whole society attempting communism and not descending into tyranny and oppression.

KaaThat's true, and I'm sure it's far easier (though still difficult) with small, self-selected communities.

That said, how many actual attempts d'you think there have been to move towards Marx' ideal? Not to (like Stalin or Pol Pot or Mao or Kim Il Jong or ...) develop a persistent 1-party state, but to actually try to move towards a stateless society? Maybe Cuba and Nicaragua, or Chile. Maybe.

And of those attempts, how many have been free of external interference - free of active attempts to overthrow or subvert the enterprise?

What I can conclude, is that there's really never been an actual opportunity to try, given what politicians up here call "winning conditions."

Kaa
11-10-2009, 03:50 PM
What I can conclude, is that there's really never been an actual opportunity to try, given what politicians up here call "winning conditions."

Reminds me of arguments why this particular example of a perpetual motion machine temporarily doesn't work :D

By the way, Tom, you didn't answer what would happen to a guy who doesn't want work at a state job in a communist society. He's a free-rider, what to do with him?

Kaa

Keith Wilson
11-10-2009, 03:53 PM
Maybe Cuba and Nicaragua, or Chile.Nah. However lofty their ideals in principle, Latin American communists seem to be every bit as fond of power as other human beings, and just as willing to use less-than admirable means to hold onto it and to suppress opponents. Their ideology encourages this, having very little room for what they'd call the legalisms of bourgeois democracy. (The experiment in Chile was forcefully interrupted after only a few years, but it sure wasn't moving toward a stateless anything.) The essential problem is that communism does not deal with human beings as they are.

TomF
11-10-2009, 04:11 PM
Peb,

The ideals grounding the exceptionally bloody French Revolution were desperately influential in grounding the much less bloody American one. Though Loyalists weren't treated altogether gently, as Canadian histories of our immigrants will attest. Neither France nor America retained their bloodiness or suspicion after the primary threat was past - proving that bloody means can be overcome. Though it's not fully emerged from violence yet, arguably South Africa is another, quite different example of revolutionary change ... where Truth and Reconcilation Commissions have explicitly sought to acknowledge and set bloody means, from all sides, to rest. Given enough time, the actual values underpinning a Revolution can come through, given the will.

It is true that Marx thought violent revolution was necessary. He couldn't imagine that the existing strata would possibly relinquish power without being compelled. As he wrote, the French and American Revolutions were in living memory for some; neither the ancien regime nor the Brits would have walked away from power. Marx probably thought he was being pragmatic. I can't imagine anyone - neither Marx, nor Washington, nor Voltaire, nor Nelson Mandela choosing violence as a 1st option, if other means would as reliably gain your objective.

Yes, other authoritarian regimes have made transitions to democracy. In some cases through elections, where the incumbent was defeated and left power. In others by the withdrawal of Military rule, with the Generals allowing a civilian President to be elected ... but without the Generals themselves leaving their military posts. And yes, in some cases by the replacing of one constitution with another. Arguably, the USSR could have re-structured itself to gradually become open and democratic (this was, I think, Gorbachev's hope) while keeping the Constitution largely intact. Internal nationalistic tensions nixed that.

And finally, as you well know from reading my many posts, I agree that Communist authoritarianism didn't begin as a response to outside stimulus ... but that outside stimulus helped perpetuate and inflame it over decades. Many of the parties in Iraq have deep, autonomous roots in authoritarianism too ... but the diplomatic task is to coax them into other directions. We've assumed that very tough task, where we didn't even consider it with any communist countries.

TomF
11-10-2009, 04:14 PM
Reminds me of arguments why this particular example of a perpetual motion machine temporarily doesn't work :D

By the way, Tom, you didn't answer what would happen to a guy who doesn't want work at a state job in a communist society. He's a free-rider, what to do with him?

KaaI did answer, didn't I? The USSR Constitution had an explicit provision that if you can work but don't, you don't eat. Based on something from one of the New Testament letters.

In our thought experiment morphing-into-Marx's-dream communist society, if he didn't want to work, he'd be gently shown to the borders. Where he'd dally with pink unicorns, and play golden flutes.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 04:28 PM
I did answer, didn't I? The USSR Constitution had an explicit provision that if you can work but don't, you don't eat. Based on something from one of the New Testament letters.

Well, close enough. Being unemployed was actually illegal in the USSR. If convicted, you went off to a labor camp.

The guy I was talking about actually has a name. You may have heard it -- Iosif Brodsky.


In 1963, he was arrested and in 1964 charged with parasitism by the Soviet authorities ... For his "parasitism" Brodsky was sentenced to five years of internal exile with obligatory engagement in physical work (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Brodsky)

Kaa

TomF
11-10-2009, 04:33 PM
And I'm certain that there are analogues of Brodsky in China, N Korea, and elsewhere.

I'm not arguing that an authoritarian 1-party state treats people nicely, Kaa. Only that appearances to the contrary, less noxious possibilities exist for communism. Though constitutional democracies are still a far better bet.

I'm sure Brodsky would have preferred my state's pink unicorns.

t

TomF
11-10-2009, 04:37 PM
From the 1936 USSR Constitution:

ARTICLE 12. In the U.S.S.R. work is a duty and a matter of honor for every able-bodied citizen, in accordance with the principle: "He who does not work, neither shall he eat."

The principle applied in the U.S.S.R. is that of socialism: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his work."

http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/russian/const/36cons01.html

Kaa
11-10-2009, 04:49 PM
Only that appearances to the contrary, less noxious possibilities exist for communism.

I don't think so.

Even leaving aside little things like oppression and built-in economic failure, communism is the ultimate collectivist ideology. Everybody should be as one, deviations from norm are a bad thing.

Individual freedom, Tom, is what communism has never been interested in -- either theoretically or practically. You'd better fit the mainstream and dutifully pray with the congregation -- or in Stalin's Russia you'd be shot, in Brezhnev's Russia you'd be sent off to a labor camp, and even in your enlightened communism you'd be exiled.

Good for replaceable cogs in a machine. Not so good for humans.


I'm sure Brodsky would have preferred my state's pink unicorns.

He actually preferred the pink unicorns of the country slightly to your south :-)

Kaa

Kaa
11-10-2009, 04:51 PM
From the 1936 USSR Constitution

:eek: Don't you understand?

The Soviet Constitution was a lie. From beginning to end -- it was mostly a propaganda document that had little to do (besides describing the administrative setup) with reality in the Soviet Union.

IT WAS A LIE.

Kaa

Captain Blight
11-10-2009, 04:54 PM
No, it was a document that clearly existed. What the Kremlin chose to do with and about that does not negate the fact that the USSR did in point of fact have a Constitution.

Kaa
11-10-2009, 04:56 PM
No, it was a document that clearly existed.

The Constitution was a lie.

Not the existence of the Constitution was a lie.

Kaa

Keith Wilson
11-10-2009, 04:57 PM
The constitution actually existed, but in practice, they completely ignored most of it.

TomF
11-10-2009, 05:04 PM
I've gotta sign off.

Of course the 1936 USSR Constitution was a show document. It was an authoritarian, 1-party state ... the Constitution emerged shortly after the great purges started. Stalin was a paranoid sociopath, and a pragmatist ... not even an idealogue Marxist. He had no intention of ever trying to pursue a stateless society.

Look, Afghanistan just ran massively corrupt Presidential elections. God only knows how many "legit" votes Karzai actually got, and his opponent dropped out of the run-off election. It's a sham too, as is the Afghan Constitution. Bit of a problem for us sending troops over to die, but whatever...

This fact, even were it the first example of a democratic election anywhere on the planet, does not somehow prove that democratic states are irrevocably and forever will be shams. Just that this one was corrupt.

peb
11-10-2009, 05:43 PM
The ideals grounding the exceptionally bloody French Revolution were desperately influential in grounding the much less bloody American one
I will steal a quote from that great anti-communist crusader "There you go again". You oversimplication of history and the ignoring timelines continues totally unabated. Marx's philosophy and ideals posited an exceptionally bloody revolution before it ever took place. When the revolution occurred, the instigators, following marx's idealogy, knew there were no bounds. OTH, 1) the French revolution did not spring from a bloody philosophy and 2) the American revolution did not spring from a bloody philosophy or a bloody French model.

So it is hard to see how any of this helps your case at all.




And finally, as you well know from reading my many posts, I agree that Communist authoritarianism didn't begin as a response to outside stimulus ... but that outside stimulus helped perpetuate and inflame it over decades"

I (barely) know this now. From reading your posts, it is exceeding ambiguous and contradictory. And one can't help but come to the conclusion that you have (reluctantly) arrived at this statement after a half day of back and forth.

TomF
11-10-2009, 06:02 PM
Peb,

I do not think you're being intentionally offensive, but it's occurring. Please re-group.

I'm neither screwing with history, nor babbling in the wind about things which aren't true when I speak of the French revolution both in philosophy and in bloody practice ... and the influence of the French philosophes' thinking on your Founders.

Their thinking wasn't bloody, but The Terror was. France bounced back, and the premises of the Revolution have been touchstones of French identity to this day. America's founders' thinking wasn't bloody, but some aspects of the Revolution were. America similarly bounced back, and swiftly, with similar qualities to the French.

My case is helped by the demonstration that good ends, though achieved using questionable means, can remain good.

As to the last point in your post, I'd made pretty much the same point all afternoon long.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 06:12 PM
I stand to be corrected, but I am not sure that Marx posited a bloody revolution at all. (Lenin certainly did).

TomF
11-10-2009, 06:28 PM
It's been so long since I read raw Marx - but he certainly didn't rule out violence. It's prolly in the 1848 Manuscripts somewhere. He did fully expect that revolution would occur first in industrial societies (like Britain of the time), not in essentially feudal agricultural states like Czarist Russia.

Yeah, Lenin thought armed revolution an intrinsic part of things, though I wonder if he would have done if he thought things could be achieved in any other way.

peb
11-10-2009, 07:05 PM
Peb,

I do not think you're being intentionally offensive, but it's occurring. Please re-group.

I'm neither screwing with history, nor babbling in the wind about things which aren't true when I speak of the French revolution both in philosophy and in bloody practice ... and the influence of the French philosophes' thinking on your Founders.

Their thinking wasn't bloody, but The Terror was. France bounced back, and the premises of the Revolution have been touchstones of French identity to this day. America's founders' thinking wasn't bloody, but some aspects of the Revolution were. America similarly bounced back, and swiftly, with similar qualities to the French.

My case is helped by the demonstration that good ends, though achieved using questionable means, can remain good.

As to the last point in your post, I'd made pretty much the same point all afternoon long.

I don't know why I have to regroup. I am sorry (truly) I am being offensive, you are correct that it is not intentional.
It is intentional that I am strongly challenging your claims, pointing out your inconsistensies, and at the same time trying to make sense of you arguments. This has proven to be a difficult task.

At anyrate, I have made my points as clear as possible. Here is the regroup. Communism must be tyrannical always. We know this from
a) The philisophical underpinnings of the system are very clear. You could even say it is a tautology, if it doesn't include a violent revoltion and dictorship of the proletariat, it is not a communist movement.
b) Every historical example we have testify to this conclusion. We have nothing, not one ioata of evidence to the contrary.

Thats it for me. I have no desire to cause you any further distress.

peb
11-10-2009, 07:09 PM
I stand to be corrected, but I am not sure that Marx posited a bloody revolution at all. (Lenin certainly did).
Yes he did. He said it required the complete disposal of all institutions in society. Thats a paraphrase. He described the great revolution as the means to the end. The working class would make itself the ruling class by revolution. The only thing that lenin did that would have surprised Marx was that he did it at all in Russia. It wasn't supposed to happen there. The majority of Lenin's actions would not have shocked him at all.

Andrew Craig-Bennett
11-10-2009, 07:53 PM
Thanks; I am duly corrected.

PeterSibley
11-10-2009, 08:11 PM
I don't know why I have to regroup. I am sorry (truly) I am being offensive, you are correct that it is not intentional.
It is intentional that I am strongly challenging your claims, pointing out your inconsistensies, and at the same time trying to make sense of you arguments. This has proven to be a difficult task.

At anyrate, I have made my points as clear as possible. Here is the regroup. Communism must be tyrannical always. We know this from
a) The philisophical underpinnings of the system are very clear. You could even say it is a tautology, if it doesn't include a violent revoltion and dictorship of the proletariat, it is not a communist movement.
b) Every historical example we have testify to this conclusion. We have nothing, not one ioata of evidence to the contrary.

Thats it for me. I have no desire to cause you any further distress.

After India gained its independence in 1947, Travancore (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore) and Cochin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Cochin) were merged to form Travancore-Cochin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travancore-Cochin) on 1 July 1949. On 1 January 1950 (Republic Day (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Day_of_India)), Travancore-Cochin was recognised as a state. The Madras Presidency was organised to form Madras State (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madras_State) several years prior, in 1947. Finally, the Government of India (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_of_India)'s 1 November 1956 States Reorganisation Act (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/States_Reorganisation_Act) inaugurated the state of Kerala, incorporating Malabar district, Travancore-Cochin (excluding four southern taluks, which were merged with Tamil Nadu), and the taluk (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehsil) of Kasargod (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kasargod), South Kanara (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Kanara).[32] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala#cite_note-Plunkett-31) A new legislative assembly was also created, for which elections were first held in 1957. These resulted in a communist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist)-led government through ballot—the world's first of its kind—headed by E.M.S. Namboodiripad (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.M.S._Namboodiripad).[32] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala#cite_note-Plunkett-31)[33] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala#cite_note-32) Subsequent social reforms favoured tenants and labourers.[34] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala#cite_note-Cheriyan_2004-33):22–23, 43–44

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala

TomF
11-10-2009, 08:25 PM
I don't know why I have to regroup. I am sorry (truly) I am being offensive, you are correct that it is not intentional. no trouble - I may be having a thin-skin day.

At anyrate, I have made my points as clear as possible. Here is the regroup. Communism must be tyrannical always. We know this from
a) The philisophical underpinnings of the system are very clear. You could even say it is a tautology, if it doesn't include a violent revoltion and dictorship of the proletariat, it is not a communist movement.
b) Every historical example we have testify to this conclusion. We have nothing, not one ioata of evidence to the contrary.

Thats it for me. I have no desire to cause you any further distress.(a) is a tautology, and a clear case of mistaking means and ends. Like mistaking playing studies (means) for playing Bach suites (ends). I knew a very fine organist who gave his students no studies to play at all, instead using solely excerpts from their repertoire. They made fine progress.

Communism is about a classless, stateless society (ends) ... not about violent revolution (means). If the goal can be achieved using other means, well and good.

After all, Capitalism is at heart about competition in free markets (ends); it didn't emerge the same way in all places. An organic development in Western Europe (means), it was transplanted into America with settlers without a lengthy development process (other means). And was transposed whole by colonizing powers into "darkest Africa" etc. (yet other means). Yet is recognizably Capitalism (ends), however it got its local start.

(b) I have addressed earlier. I am unaware of any remote possibilities for communist societies to get going since the USSR's creation which weren't met with immediate and continuous low or high level military and covert subversion of the very attempt. Few capitalist states would have survived such an onslaught.

George.
11-11-2009, 06:07 AM
Writing in 1969, Amalrik originally wanted to make 1980 as the date of the Soviet downfall, because 1980 was a round number, but Amalrik was persuaded by a friend to change it to the Orwellian 1984.

That's still better than consulting your astrologer. ;)

Reagan claimed he had a plan, but what was the plan, and what effect did it have? Did he arrange to kill Andropov and Chernenko? Did he work with the Saudis to make the price of oil collapse? No. He did little different than the presidents before him, including the speeches about standing up to Communism - personally, I prefer Kennedy's. Reagan was just lucky it happened on his watch.



In the longer run, likely the political structure would start to look more like a loose federation of regional or municipal co-ops, which come together in a central parliament to address issues that need to be handled at that scale.


Sounds like Germany before unification. The point is that there will always arise a Bismark. A collection of local co-ops would be ripe for an aspiring empire to pick off one by one, and the more local and peaceful they are, the better. Happens every time. It doesn't take an external enemy.

CGrant
11-11-2009, 12:37 PM
To paraphrase you, there are millions of Germans who'd dispute your theory. ;)

Stirring speeches don't bring down walls - if they did, Obama would be the most powerful US president ever. Reagan and Thatcher were no different from countless other "tough on Communism" cocky politicians. They were just lucky to be crowing as the dawn arrived. They did nothing material to bring down communism beyond what their predecessors were already doing, and if anything, they may have helped prop it up a bit longer than necessary - as the US is doing in Cuba today.

You're right, stirring speeches are not enough. Reagan and Thatcher did much more in their build-up of their armies and their openly calling the USSR what it was. Their words were followed by serious military build-up.

RE: Germans - certainly, no weaklings, but without the support of these two countries, would still be locked in division.

Art Read
11-12-2009, 10:13 AM
Every once in a while, a thread comes along, and I'm reminded just why I became addicted to this place. Nice discussion, Gentlemen.

("...The ideals grounding the exceptionally bloody French Revolution were desperately influential in grounding the much less bloody American one..." Tom, again, forgive me if I misunderstand your position, but you DO realize the American revolution pre-dated the French one don't you? July 1776 vs. July 1789?)

George.
11-12-2009, 11:14 AM
I think Tom is talking about the ideas that pre-dated both revolutions - Rousseau, Locke, and all that.

TomF
11-12-2009, 11:15 AM
Every once in a while, a thread comes along, and I'm reminded just why I became addicted to this place. Nice discussion, Gentlemen.

("...The ideals grounding the exceptionally bloody French Revolution were desperately influential in grounding the much less bloody American one..." Tom, again, forgive me if I misunderstand your position, but you DO realize the American revolution pre-dated the French one don't you? July 1776 vs. July 1789?)Yup, most days I remember which came first, though I must admit that in the midst of the cut-and-thrust the other day while trying to do other work while carring on an internet argument ... I did get muddled for a while. Thanks for pointing it out, and Mea culpa to Peb!

As George said, I was most concerned about the ideas, which did pre-date both Revolutions.

CGrant
11-14-2009, 08:02 PM
Well...



The whole article:
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article6829735.ece

Thank you, Martin. I wasn't aware that she had that view, secretly. It saddens me. I can understand the fear of another war with Germany, but don't think it outweighs standing for freedom. And, it appears her fears were unwarranted.

I appreciate your bringing this article to my attention.

Best to you -

Cgrant

George.
11-15-2009, 06:36 AM
We are truly a provincial forum. Four pages, and we have had people trying to attribute the fall of the wall to Reagan, Thatcher, and all sorts of impersonal causes. No one has given any credit to the person who deserves the most - the one that, as Reagan himself acknowledged, was the only one with the power to tear down the wall.

PeterSibley
11-15-2009, 06:38 AM
Gorby .:)