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Thread: Communism: Do Russians think the USSR was communist?

  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I just don't agree with it being labelled "socialist" either by you or by Chemist12.
    I don't see it as a negative thing. But obviously different people may have different opinions.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    Can socialism and communism help the developing world?
    Communism is utopia. It could only be achieved in small, closed societies. Communism relies on people to be truly altruistic, with compassion, super humane in a sense. And this can only be achieved if a society would have no economical or cultural problems whatsoever, internal or external. People should be willing to do "greater good" for the whole society and not for themselves but this can only be done if all the people in such society are more or less equal in all terms, so the uniqueness of an individual has to be removed completely, which is practically impossible.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by hddscan View Post
    Communism is utopia. It could only be achieved in small, closed societies. Communism relies on people to be truly altruistic, with compassion, super humane in a sense. And this can only be achieved if a society would have no economical or cultural problems whatsoever, internal or external. People should be willing to do "greater good" for the whole society and not for themselves but this can only be done if all the people in such society are more or less equal in all terms, so the uniqueness of an individual has to be removed completely, which is practically impossible.
    I agree that communism is better suited for smaller groups. People need to be really committed and there needs to be discipline. In a way, you could say that monasteries run a sort of "communism". Everyone lives in the same way, they share almost everything and it's "to everyone according to their needs". They are held together by strong religious conviction. Also, they can simply ask people to leave, who don't follow the rules. A country can't really do that..

    The problem with doing it in a large country, is a lot of people never wanted socialism to begin with. They will be negative. Others are just uninterested, lazy or out to exploit the system. Countries like the USA will be out to sabotage the socialistic state as much as possible. And as the years pass, people forget the hardships before socialism and they start taking everything for granted -- worrying a lot more about their "rights" than their obligations.

    One of the reasons social democracy worked in Sweden was because it was a completely homogenous country, and there was a real high work ethic among regular people, thanks to Lutheranism. (Neither is true anymore though....)

    In actual communism, just triple all the challenges. I agree that it's just not compatible with human nature at present.
    But note: The world in Star Trek is communist. If there was a colony on Mars, they'd be living "communism" by necessity, even if they wouldn't call it by that name.

    Quote Originally Posted by hddscan View Post
    I don't see it as a negative thing. But obviously different people may have different opinions.
    No I don't see it as something negative either. But it seems like it's a closed chapter now - gone and not coming back. Or if it's coming back, it will be different and called something else.

    The image of socialism was totally ruined in the 1990s. As a "brand", it's almost dead.
    Or does anyone see communism or socialism making a real comeback in our lifetimes? I don't...

    When I say "socialism" I think of - no private means of production, job and housing for everyone... etc, etc.
    Have you got a different view on what it is?

    Also: I think all countries that implemented socialism put their own "deviating" touches on it, so there really is no text-book example of "plain" or "pure" socialism.

  4. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    When I say "socialism" I think of - no private means of production, job and housing for everyone... etc, etc.
    Have you got a different view on what it is?
    I don't think socialism could be applicable in black and white terms to any country.
    But there are some examples of socialism in many countries. Government sponsored pensions, government sponsored medical care, government sponsored education, government sponsored unemployment benefits are the most common modern examples of socialism that could be applicable to many countries.
    Government sponsored housing is less common but still exist.
    Government-controlled production exists in many countries but at a different degree. And government-controlled service I would say exists in any country with a government.
    The more "government-controlled" things a country has the more socialistic it is.
    But the "heavyweight" of it all is production of course, which supports my previous claim that economy matters the most for a country.
    However based on that Saudi Arabia is a socialistic country, because its oil production is controlled by the government. And when you say "Countries like the USA will be out to sabotage the socialistic state as much as possible" it makes me wonder: was it actually the socialism the US was after or was it something else during the Cold War? I know the answer of course

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by hddscan View Post
    was it actually the socialism the US was after or was it something else during the Cold War? I know the answer of course
    Regarding the USA: I can't follow the reasoning of a violent madman....
    But please tell me your theory of why they did it!

    To be serious: We know that they used every trick in the book, from blockades, to invasions & propaganda campaigns to destroy socialism. And I believed that the US egged the USSR on, into a spending war on nuclear weapons on purpose, since they knew they had deeper coffers.

    Secondly: In 1989 it looked like Russians were prepared to ditch everything they built up, for Coca Cola, rock'n'roll and a pair of Levi's... If the US achieved this consciously, it was pure psy-ops genius warfare. The US turned the population into a Trojan horse and destroyed their biggest enemy from within.... And during the 1990s, the US could feast on the corpse.... But now they are angry, because the party is over... So Russia is again an enemy.

    Same with other, smaller countries that have been declared "enemies" of the US, simply because they use a socialist system within their own borders. Countries that now feel forced to spend half their GDP on the military, just to defend themselves, while becoming increasingly paranoid..

    Obviously the motivation for the USA can always be traced back to money, but what's your theory?

  6. #46
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    I forgot a BIG reason why Sweden is not and never has been "socialist".

    No five year plans or anything like that. Because it was never a centrally planned economy and the government had to be re-elected every 3 years. There was always a risk that they would not get re-elected. So, making a 5 year plan was impossible.

    They made some "special" plans for stuff like housing and healthcare and set them up in a way that no future government could change it.

    But it was not a Plan that governed everything, like the ones that the real socialist countries had.

    I think Marx said something to the extent that a socialist economy must be planned by the representatives of the people, outside of the reach of manipulation by capitalists. This never happened in Sweden, instead there was a symbiosis between the capital and the state.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    But please tell me your theory of why they did it!
    Money of course.
    The US always wanted to be a world's leader on public and world's ruler in reality. Normally an empire would try and conquer actual land to rule it, but after the WW2 the US realized that it can't conquer lands without consequences, so it decided to be an economical ruler of the world.
    The US created the Bretton Woods system, which included the IMF and the World Bank and proclaimed American dollar as a currency as equal as gold, which was basically the end of "gold standard" and the beginning of dollar domination. It was a brilliant move at the time. Many countries ratified it but the USSR did not, it also did not join the IMF. That's how the Cold War started.
    In a couple of years the US proposed Marshall Plan, which tied the Western Europe to the US with big money and made it dependable on the US for many years.
    The world became bipolar: on one side it was the US, UK, Australia, India and Western Europe, on the other it was the USSR, Eastern Europe, South America, China and Africa. Middle East was divided between the sides.
    After the USSR collapsed the world stopped being bipolar and the US became dominant country of the world. At the moment the US could do whatever it wants and nobody could do anything about it, it ignores the UN and nobody could do anything, it bombs sovereign nations and nobody puts any sanctions on it, it dictates what over countries could or could not do based on its own interests and so far there is very little resistance. So it finally became a world ruler.
    Russia still tries to create a multipolar world, so it is a threat to the US world power and makes it the US enemy.
    China started not to do as it told and thus there are consequences: Hong Kong rivals, suddenly Chinese markets drop and now the US sends a warship to the South China Sea to show who's the boss.

  8. #48
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    I just don't agree with it being labelled "socialist" either by you or by Chemist12
    I am using the definitions of the early communists. People do disagree on what socialism means, however I go with the definitions that people who have made a career out of studying the subject use.

    For example, Richard Wolff says: "socialism is the criticism of capitalism". Basically, any change from pure capitalism, becomes socialism. This is consistent with all the Communist literature I have read on the subject. I am aware that some say that Social democrats split from the socialists, but I think it would be more accurate to say that social democrats split from democratic socialists. As stated earlier, democratic socialism is only one type of socialism. The way socialism was described by the early communists basically included everything except pure capitalism and pure communism (which is why feudalism is a type of socialism).

    You may not like the title, but it becomes impossible to talk about socialism if you don't acknowledge that a country that meets the definition of socialism is socialist. It is like saying socialism is x, y, and z. Country A has x, y, and z. However country A it is not socialist. It would become confusing.

    I guess you can choose to redefine it (no idea why you would want to), but when talking about socialism in terms of communist/socialist literature, we need to describe those countries that fit the defintion of socialist as socialist.

    Please define communism first. What I found is that the "West" has its own definition of communism, which has nothing to do with reality.
    I did eventually describe socialism in this thread by quote the Principles of Communism. I explained in the opening post why I was not defining communism. The question is about what Russians think communism is. It doesn't require me to tell them what it is. This is what I said in my opening post:

    I haven't described socialism and communism here, because I want to hear what people (Russians specifically) think it is first.
    Finally, please have a short book that people can read. It is called the Principles of Communism. It was published in 1847, before the USSR even existed. Pay attention to how it describes socialism:

    https://www.marxists.org/archive/mar...1/prin-com.htm

    I choose this book to link here because it is a very short read.

    This site has a lot of old communist literature. So if you want to know what Communism is, it would be a good idea to go and see what the early communist wrote about it.

  9. #49
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    @Chemist12 - I have read that book in the distant past and am familiar with the content. IMO, there is no way Engels would have described modern France, Germany or UK as socialist.

    If you are set on using the early socialists; the one you want is the main Bernstein book (not sure of English title) on social democracy. It has relevance to modern Europe and the way countries are run. If Bernstein was alive, I think he'd agree up to a point, although he'd label most of contemporary social democratic parties as sellouts.

    I'm not able to say any more on this, because I simply can't relate to your premise that Western Europe is socialist.

    @HDDscan: Yes agree, but the US wasn't so bad when it first started (well, slavery and homicide of indians apart....) My view is that it took the wrong turn after WW2 and it has been downhill ever since. Exacerbated as you said, by the end of the USSR.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    I think this is a very complex question, and a lot of dynamics play in.
    You can't just look at it in isolation.

    If a communist revolution hadn't happened in Russia, it almost certainly would have happened somewhere else, like England, France or Germany. Socialism was boiling across Europe for half a century, due to unequal conditions and imperialist wars. It was inevitable that a communist revolution would happen somewhere. By chance (?) the largest country, with the most natural resources and best able to protect itself, was where it eventually happened.

    There were lots of side effects of the socialist influence across the continent.

    Improved conditions in other countries: As a direct result of the revolution in Russia, conditions were instantly improved for workers and peasants in neighbouring countries. This was of course because elites got scared the revolution would spread. To appease the workers and peasants, their conditions were improved.

    Religion:
    For example, from my own background: Scandinavia being the most atheist region on Earth, is the result of good living and uninterupted socialist influence for almost a century. It's the first place on earth where almost nobody believes in God. What are the long term results of this? Time will tell...

    Level of education:
    What would have happened in Russia and South East Europe without the revolution? These areas weren't industrialised, and peasants were horrendously oppressed. People didn't even know how to read. Whatever else you think about socialism, it educated people and it sped up industrialisation.

    Technology: If the USSR hadn't got spurred on by a quest for hardcore science and ideology, they wouldn't have been first in space! If they hadn't been first in space, the USA probably hadn't bothered going to the Moon..
    Without the space race, we wouldn't have sattellite technology today...

    WW2: Without the the focus of the USSR to fight the Nazis, they probably would have won the war.

    Socialism was largely what stopped colonialism, as well as the brutal right wing dictatorships in Southern Europe.
    All this goes on, and on and on.

    So it's not just about somebody sitting in Poland and thinking "F-ck communism, if that hadn't happened, I would own a villa with a swimming pool and a brand new BMW like some rich dude...."

    I think a few of the Eastern European countries would have been better off today without socialism, for instance Poland and Hungary. Some other areas would be worse off (large parts of the ex USSR and South east Europe). I don't know it for sure, but it's what I think.

    In hindsight I think that it was a mistake by the socialist countries to end socialism the way they did. Phasing it out gradually would have been better, alternatively a well managed perestroika.
    As it is, they got screwed over and ripped off, and I think that's the modern tragedy of Europe. The EU has not been the equality fix that many of us thought it would be. Instead it made things worse in many ways.

    So there you have my personal view of all this.
    You see, most ppl want to live now. They rather don't care what might be in 200 years from now if they continue doing it this or that way. And if all they see is, doing it this way makes them live miserable lives, and waste their best years, they'll eventually come down to stop such a system, which was done in lots of those socialist countries. Equality by the internal redistribution of ppl's wealth always sucks, and incidentally, that is the only way leftists see any system like that (socialist and similar). It's never about a state that would make conditions for the poor so they can get employed, get their own businesses running, and start making wealth, but always about a state that would make terrible conditions for everyone in making any move for any wealth, and then come out as their only savior. Who needs such a system? Honestly, is there anyone? A lot of "socialists" here would get far less enthusiastic if they were offered to share 99% of their wages with 99 of poor African ppl so they became 100 totally equal ppl. Or am I wrong?

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric C. View Post
    Or am I wrong?
    You are right if you take a point of view of a particular individual in society.
    From a government point of view you are not quite right.
    The more "unsoicialistic" a country is the more inequality you would find in society of that country. If you don't deal with inequality you would get a revolution, eventually.

  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by hddscan View Post
    You are right if you take a point of view of a particular individual in society.
    From a government point of view you are not quite right.
    The more "unsoicialistic" a country is the more inequality you would find in society of that country. If you don't deal with inequality you would get a revolution, eventually.
    Interesting point, I didn't look at it that way. Yeah, if there are too many freeloaders who get really poor, it all may explode in a revolution against the successful people. But then, if a government gets too socialist and starts taking away too much from people to keep freeloaders afloat, the successful people will arrange a coup just the same way. Either way, the government is taken down, so if it wants to stay in the office, a balance is important.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric C. View Post
    But then, if a government gets too socialist and starts taking away too much from people to keep freeloaders afloat, the successful people will arrange a coup just the same way.
    I guess we will see if it's true in Germany.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chemist12 View Post
    So, are Russians taught about socialism and communism? Do they know the difference?
    Alright, I'm not by all means an expert on the topic, but I do remember something from those days of yore. In essence, we've been taught that:

    1. The bourgeois system of the private ownership rights to the means of production is temporary, it is going to rot, and will inevitably be replaced with the Communism whereas the means of production will be collectively owned and operated. There would be no way a person could exploit (=employ) another person. Only the Communist State will be the sole employer for everyone.

    2. The Communism will thus inevitably occur world-wide as a result of the technological and humanitarian advancement of the entire humanity.

    3. The workers do not have to wait until the Communism would occur naturally and suffer in the meantime. In order to reduce the suffering of the mankind, the Communism could be expedited by means of the Socialist Revolution.

    4. Since those who presently own the means of production would not obviously give up their rights easily, they would have to be prosecuted by the Communist State. Since those who owned the means of production comprise negligible amount of the society, the suffering of the entire society is thus minimized and is therefore an act of the humanism. Thus, the unfortunate and temporary usage of the Red Terror is fully legitimate and should be supported by the society as a whole.

    5. However the society is far better now once the overall suffering is much less than before, the Communism would still not be reachable until the technological advancement would create the proper means of production to facilitate the provision of the goods and services (=the "needs') required by each individual in the society. Hence, the newly established state would have to be Industrialized first. The suffering caused by the changes are only temporary and should as such be fully accepted by the society.

    6. This would therefore facilitate the establishment of the Socialist State called the USSR. So, yes, USSR was officially a socialist country and not a communist country.

    7. Unfortunately, the rest of the world is still bourgeois and the owners of the means of production in the rest of the world would obviously strive to destroy the Socialist State fearing that the Socialist Revolution would also occur in their countries. They would inevitably want to destroy the newly established Socialist State. As a result, the Socialist State has to: (a) maintain strong army, (b) maintain lots of secret services in order to identify spies, undercover agents of influence, provocateurs, and terrorists, (c) destabilize the oppressive regimes in the bourgeois countries to expedite the Socialist Revolutions in them in order to reduce suffering in those bourgeois countries.

    8. With the advent of the technological improvements, the Socialism in the USSR was renamed into the Developed Socialism (=Развитой Социализм), which roughly meant the state is getting closer to the Communism because they could offer the citizens more goods and services than before.

    9. The story ended in 1991.

    Hope it helps..

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