Communism: 100 Years of dictatorship, gulags and mass murder in the tens of millions

Jot the Dot Dot

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It was 100 years ago today, that Vladimir Lenin launched his Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, ending the Provisional Kerensky government's efforts to preserve democracy after the March abdication of Tsar Michael Romonov. The result was the entrenchment of an imperialist dictatorship spawning several more over the next several decades. While the original Soviet Empire imploded, there are still communist dictatorships in existence in China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos, and one can only hope they will experience a more tranquil transition to democracy than some of the former Soviet Bloc's remnants. Here is a summary of it's history from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-century-of-communism/?utm_term=.36067efc297e
 

ballettmaus

Well-Known Member
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^:rofl: Someone has no idea what communism is. :shuffle: (Or what an American liberal represents/wants).

As someone from the former West Berlin, I can assure you, liberals and communism are two very, very different things.
 

snowbird

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Let's just call the com/symps. What they have in common is their contempt for America, capitalism, and freedom.
 

snowbird

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I was in 5 different communist countries in 1968, 1969, East Germany , Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria,, and Yugoslavia. I also went through the Iron Curtain. It wasn.t there to keep people from fleeing *into* the "Worker's Paradise".
 

IceAlisa

discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado
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Started the new Lenin bio. From the introduction:
Millions of people, and some dangerous populist leaders on the Left and Right, are doubting whether liberal democracy has been successful in creating a fair society and sustained freedom and prosperity, or can deal with gaping inequality and injustice. They phrases 'global elite', and 'the 1 percent' are now used in a decidedly Leninist way. It is unlikely that Lenin's solutions will be adopted anywhere again. But his questions are constantly being asked today, and may be answered by equally bloody methods.
 

allezfred

#EpidemiologistsNotEconomists
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Let's just call the com/symps. What they have in common is their contempt for America, capitalism, and freedom.
Says the person who voted for the Putin Puppet. The biggest threat to America is not communism or liberals. It’s wilfully stupid people like you. :p
 

IceAlisa

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Reading about the day of the coup. Hundreds of things had to fall into place just so for the Bolsheviks to succeed and yet they did. Had not a group of workers distracted the Provisional Government guards whom Lenin was passing on his way to Smolny, had another pair of cadets not bought into Lenin’s bodyguard’s pretense of inebriation, this murderous beast who has killed a hundred million and is still feeding today, would not have been unleashed. Talk about the butterfly effect (and long-winded sentences, watch out, Henry James.)
 

BlueRidge

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While the Soviet Union was this bad only in the 1930's, I still recognized the same tactics and mentality reading this memoir of an escapee from North Korea: https://www.amazon.com/Girl-Seven-N...398&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+with+seven+names

Highly recommend this book.
Here is some more info on North Korea: Satellite photographs reveal North Korea’s crimes against humanity (Washington Post)

SATELLITE PHOTOGRAPHY has become an invaluable tool in the cause of human rights. David Hawk and Amanda Mortwedt Oh of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea used it to prepare a report providing unsettling details about a parallel set of prison camps in North Korea that exist along with the political camps exposed earlier. These are places with “gated high walls and barbed wire fences, guard towers, dormitories, and workshops or mines,” further evidence that North Korea’s leaders have carried out crimes against humanity.

Previously, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry reported in 2014 on a chain of penal camps in North Korea operated by the Ministry of State Security, or secret police. These political or concentration camps are hidden and extrajudicial, and people can be held incommunicado for life. Family members are held there also. The camps are used to “preemptively purge, punish, and remove from North Korean society” those whom the regime fears might challenge their rule or their ideology, Mr. Hawk says.
 

BlueRidge

AYS's snark-sponge
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56,149
It was 100 years ago today, that Vladimir Lenin launched his Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia, ending the Provisional Kerensky government's efforts to preserve democracy after the March abdication of Tsar Michael Romonov. The result was the entrenchment of an imperialist dictatorship spawning several more over the next several decades. While the original Soviet Empire imploded, there are still communist dictatorships in existence in China, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos, and one can only hope they will experience a more tranquil transition to democracy than some of the former Soviet Bloc's remnants. Here is a summary of it's history from The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...-century-of-communism/?utm_term=.36067efc297e
excellent piece from Ilya Somin there. I think that progressives need to ponder more the lessons from totalitarian communism as they go forward. I think that we need to recognize that a market economy and private property are actually necessary for a just society. I'm no libertarian as everyone knows and I'm in favor of a strong government along with a strong private sector.

The lessons of the failure of a centralized non-market economy are fundamental:

Even when socialist planners genuinely sought to produce prosperity and meet consumer demands, they often lacked the information to do so. As Nobel Prize-winning economist F.A. Hayek described in a famous article, a market economy conveys vital information to producers and consumers alike through the price system. Market prices enable producers to know the relative value of different goods and services, and determine how much consumers value their products. Under socialist central planning, by contrast, there is no substitute for this vital knowledge. As a result, socialist planners often had no way to know what to produce, by what methods, or in way quantities. This is one of the reasons why communists states routinely suffered from shortages of basic goods, while simultaneously producing large quantities of shoddy products for which there was little demand.
Somin addresses the notion that Communism failed because it wasn't democratic:

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that a communist state could remain democratic for long, even it started out that way. Democracy requires effective opposition parties. And in order to function, such parties need to be able to put out their message and mobilize voters, which in turn requires extensive resources. In an economic system in which all or nearly all valuable resources are controlled by the state, the incumbent government can easily strangle opposition by denying them access to those resources. Under socialism, the opposition cannot function if they are not allowed to spread their message on state-owned media, or use state-owned property for their rallies and meetings. It is no accident that virtually every communist regime suppressed opposition parties soon after coming to power.

Even if a communist state could somehow remain democratic over the long run, it is hard to see how it could solve the twin problems of knowledge and incentives. Whether democratic or not, a socialist economy would still require enormous concentration of power, and extensive coercion. And democratic socialist planners would run into much the same information problems as their authoritarian counterparts. In addition, in a society where the government controls all or most of the economy, it would be virtually impossible for voters to acquire enough knowledge to monitor the state’s many activities. This would greatly exacerbate the already severe problem of voter ignorance that plagues modern democracy.
 

lala

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I grew up in one of the soviet block countries, in Hungary. I'm old enough to remember. We had 45 years in the communism but if I want to be exact we lived in socialism in the first stage of communism thus we were building the communism.:D Different thing, a little bit different ideology. Marx and Engels ( german philosophers) have laid the foundations of the conception. Lenin used their ideology and transferred to the Russian conditions. I have some thoughts:
- The original ideology wasn't bad. Who doesn't want to egality especially when there were many incredible poor people? Remember for example the english miners, factory workers, child laborers..and they had much better circumstances than Russian workers, in the backward Russian countryside there were still feudal relations, millions of Russian peasants starved under the Romanovs( Russian emperor family) and nobles. If anybody knows the Russian artworks, buildings has imagine about the enormous oppression and exploitation of the Russian nobles. They could buy those luxury things from the poor people's bloody sweat.
-Lenin was the leader but not the only one who wanted to finish the oppression. Millions , MILLIONS of Russians wanted to fight for a better life. They had no choice anymore. That was a huge revolution!
-The communist ideology had many followers among the people in Europe but we can say in the whole world. If you remember the second part of the 20. century in France, Italy!!!, Spain, Greece, Chile, etc there were many communists, if I right remember Paris had communist mayor, famous Italian and Frencha ctors, writers openly said they are communists. I think some American filmmakers in Hollywood also were communist but I know they were less as they were sued by the American government. Maybe the idea isn't bad but the humans aren't change...Not to mention the "crazy animals" in Cambodia, China, Korea, and of course in the Sovietunion who killed millions of people, if they not always literally killed them but they starved to death. That is so far from the beginning!
-In Hungary the communist era had two parts. We had our "Stalin", Mátyás Rákosi, we had revolution against him and his dictatorship. In 1956 there was a great revolution but that has fallen. We didn't received support from the western countries and the soviet army came to my country. After the revolution the next leader made peace and we lived in the very calm, peaceful "soft dictature" or "gulash dictature". We lived in very good conditions compared to the other counties in soviet block.
 

IceAlisa

discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado
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It’s hard to believe what’s happening in North Korea still. Every once in a while I come across an article of a new atrocity committed by the regime and they are so cruel and graphic that I hesitate to post them. Perhaps I should.
 

Japanfan

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From what little I could stomach of reading of 'The Communist Manifesto' (full of 12 line sentences!) for work related purposes, I understood that Marx saw communism as a natural transition into a state of peaceable anarchy.

In my view that could only ever work as a bottom-up grounds roots process, but the problem is people are so different and in presuming equality for all, we'd have to be more similar than different, or focus more on our similarities as well as the collective good, as opposed to individual advancement. We'd have to want the same things and be happy with the same things - and probably be less consumeristic. In my view 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need' could only support a communist society if we all had abilities and needs in equal measure, and all were seen as equally important.

So in terms of some ideologies, communism does not have to equal a communist dictatorship, but more often than not, that's how it turns out.

Also, it is difficult for a communist state to thrive in a capitalist world.
 

Japanfan

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The current economic inequality between the rich and the poor is extreme and it's getting worse. There are good reasons to have contempt for capitalism.
https://www.theguardian.com/global-...richest-people-have-same-wealth-as-poorest-50
No doubt. But what can be done about it? Communism does not appear to be a solution and to me it seems that communism and capitalism are not really opposites, as many people would believe, although some might argue that they are ideologically. Democracy and dictatorship could be seen as opposite, but some democracies are run by tyrants.

Any ideas?

Everyone knows that there is something wrong with corporate executives earning $9000 per hour (a figure I read some years ago), while some employees of some corporations earn minimum wage. But what to do about it?

When I see celebrity homes costing millions and millions (IIRC I saw one for $30 million a while back), I wonder why anyone would want such a property, as I would not - would be happy with a modest home were I a homeowner and not want the work of a huge, expensive estate. Of course it's about power and status, and about greed to a certain extent.

I think we largely have a consciousness of lack, as opposed to one of abundance (which philosophically is appealing if not realistic). From my observations at least some people who qualify as the middle class have this consciousness as well. Not being enough and not having enough seem to be principles that inform a lot of people's worldview, even when they are doing well relatively speaking.
I don't whether the desire for power and status and greed are ingrained or learned.
 

overedge

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I wasn't suggesting that communism was a viable alternative to capitalism. But I think it's pretty clear that the current capitalist system is dysfunctional.
A good place to start fixing it would be to close tax loopholes like the ones exposed by the Panama Papers and now the Paradise Papers, and to tie executive pay to the pay of workers in the same company (as in, CEOs can only make X times more than the lowest-paid worker in their company).
 

ballettmaus

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Nothing and no one is perfect. I think the solution is again finding the compromise. I think capitalism with some socialism could be pretty good system. Of course, there's always the issue on who decides what is good and what isn't and then there's the people who are responsible of upholding the system. But I'm not talking about implementation, as I think it's a different subject, just the general idea.
 

Japanfan

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In thinking about the rise of the corporation, I'm reminded of the benefits of the small family business, and how unfortunate it is that there are less of them in current times.

My dad owned a drug store in a small mining town from after WWII through to the mid-80s. He cared about his staff and paid them well. Their well-being was important to the well-being of the community. Although he earned more than them as the owner of the business, the difference was not so very vast. Our home was bigger, but not by so much, and he was able to put savings aside for his children's education, which many of the miners couldn't do. But the mine was thriving and its upper echelon, as well as miners with positions such as foremen, did quite well.

There wasn't have/have not sensibility, and I think I was fortunate to grow up without it.
 

IceAlisa

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So in terms of some ideologies, communism does not have to equal a communist dictatorship, but more often than not, that's how it turns out.
More often than not? Any examples when it didn't equal a dictatorship?
 

Japanfan

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More often than not? Any examples when it didn't equal a dictatorship?
It could be more precise to say better versus worse dictatorships, or terrible versus very terrible dictatorships, depending on your view. I'd certainly take contemporary Cuba over over the communist Soviet Union, if I had to choose between living in the two times and places. (Or North Korea, but that is to state the obvious).
 
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BlueRidge

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This is an interesting long piece by Anne Applebaum looking at where what she sees as aspects of Bolshevism are arising today. She focuses a lot on the ethno-nationalist right and I agree with that, but she is probably too unconcerned about the traction of some Communist ideas on the left.

100 years later, Bolshevism is back. And we should be worried.

I'll just copy out her concluding paragraph:

But there is no excuse for complacency. That is the lesson of this ominous centennial. Remember: At the beginning of 1917, on the eve of the Russian revolution, most of the men who later became known to the world as the Bolsheviks were conspirators and fantasists on the margins of society. By the end of the year, they ran Russia. Fringe figures and eccentric movements cannot be counted out. If a system becomes weak enough and the opposition divided enough, if the ruling order is corrupt enough and people are angry enough, extremists can suddenly step into the center, where no one expects them. And after that it can take decades to undo the damage. We have been shocked too many times. Our imaginations need to expand to include the possibilities of such monsters and monstrosities. We were not adequately prepared.
 

aftershocks

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I think the state of the world is much more about the character and quality of leaders than it is about the 'isms' we get so caught up in.

I came across Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States 12-part documentary, on Netflix. Wow! It's always well worth searching out more than just the status quo version of history. Clear your mind of any preconceived notions about Oliver Stone and take a thoughtful look. I always knew that the history we are taught is often stretched, twisted or conveniently white-washed. What we might think we know about the aftermath of WWII; about why the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan; about how and why the Cold War began; about Harry Truman, how he became U.S. President, and his interactions with Stalin after the death of FDR, deserves a serious reboot and reconsideration.

Over the years, so many aspects of U.S. and world history have been downplayed and many important people and happenings have been left out of the full sequence of what actually occurred. Even if some may not wish to agree with Stone's interpretations, the factual evidence is overwhelming that both ancient and recent historical events involve much more than the 'official' versions we've been taught.
 

topaz

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I think the state of the world is much more about the character and quality of leaders than it is about the 'isms' we get so caught up in.

I came across Oliver Stone's The Untold History of the United States 12-part documentary, on Netflix. Wow! It's always well worth searching out more than just the status quo version of history. Clear your mind of any preconceived notions about Oliver Stone and take a thoughtful look. I always knew that the history we are taught is often stretched, twisted or conveniently white-washed. What we might think we know about the aftermath of WWII; about why the atomic bomb was dropped on Japan; about how and why the Cold War began; about Harry Truman, how he became U.S. President, and his interactions with Stalin after the death of FDR, deserves a serious reboot and reconsideration.

Over the years, so many aspects of U.S. and world history have been downplayed and many important people and happenings have been left out of the full sequence of what actually occurred. Even if some may not wish to agree with Stone's interpretations, the factual evidence is overwhelming that both ancient and recent historical events involve much more than the 'official' versions we've been taught.
I watched the series and it was an eye opening experience. In regards to Stalin who was evil man, but Truman did some evil stuff too. Also, Just about every major industrial country has committed hideous human rights violations.
 

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