« David Brooks Has a Speech to the Delegates | Main | Major Oil Deal For Iraq »

August 29, 2008

Comments

Can you say 'The Soviet Union lives?"

Dear Gawfer:

Unfortunately, no; it lost the so-called cold war (conspirasy theory says, because there were too many Western agents of influence in the Soviet elite) and had to disappear.

But the state of things is that whoever - demmies/commies/tzars/marsians - are in the region, the government has to be imperial-style, so we either see rise of Russia (again), or a total 'humanitarian catastrophe' over almost all ex-Soviet territory (except for Lithuania and maybe Latvia)...

"Unfortunately, no;..." ????

Absolutely unfortunately.

Disintegration of the Soviet Union became a major geopolitical disaster which influenced millions (tens or even hundreds millions) of people.

As soon as the USSR came into pre-collapse state (say, since 1989) losing governing power across the whole country, there was an immediate blast of ethnic riots, cleansings and civil wars, which were impossible earlier.

Unfortunately, we had not enough time for formation super-ethnic community of "soviet people", hence the separation of nations often turned out into bloody divorces.

And this national/ethnic issue is just one point, though maybe the most evident one.

I am absolutely sure, in case you knew data and history of the USSR, there would be no surprise for you that many people in all post-Soviet countries still consider disintegration of the USSR as a disaster.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

[From DR -- Vladimir, I am truly stunned to hear an intelligent man like you yearn for the return of Communism. I really hope you will read THE BLACK BOOK OF COMMUNISM. So far, 94 million have died from Communism.

That is many more than WWII. Communist brutality continues in China, Cuba, Laos, and North Korea, and it continues to claim thousands of victims worldwide.

Cuba is has 11 million people grinding out desperate hungry lives on $20 per month. It is a lush tropical place, easily capable of feeding its own people, but the farms are "collectivized."

It is the poorest country in the Americas. We Canadians can and do visit there, and we try to ameliorate the worst suffering of the people there. I would not stable a horse in one of their hospitals. They beg on the street for aspirin.

By just walking around with our quiet an polite way, Canadians advertise to all Cubans that capitalists are not monsters, that we obviously benefit from freedom, and Cubans could have these things too. But most of the wealth we infuse into Cuba goes to the Communist Party. Many Cubans talked to me openly about their desire to kill the Castro family.

The website 'Generation Y' is written by a Cuban, and her in-country reports closely parallel what I saw in my own independent travels.

http://www.desdecuba.com/generationy/

The idea that you would want to bring a return to Communism is very sad indeed.
"Forgive them for they know not what they do."]

Dear Mr. DR,

Frankly speaking, I did not expect such a high estimation from you side/ But you have said I am intelligent man, and I appreciate it.

Nevertheless, I dare to ask you not to play with my words.

When I give sound to the fact that disintegration of the USSR was a great disaster for countless people in a certain territory, it does not mean that I yearn for the return of Communism or any other "-ism".

BTW, have you ever heard that communism was never built up even in the Soviet Union?

I would like to compare the black book of communism (in fact, formation that never existed on earth) with that of capitalism/imperialism.

Communist brutality you say... Where do you see that in China? Try to look at their ability to ensure order within their country, fight corruption and drugs... Real brutality is the Western cry about Tibet; should you know true historical data you would know that this is thanks to China Tibetans exist and their well-being is ensured.

Surely, you choose what to fight for (and against). Why not to fight against brutality of democracy (I intentionally use your labelling habit, using words like 'democracy' and 'communism' instead of using certain names of countries)? Is the recent event less brutal than those you call 'communist'?

"When people decry civilian deaths caused by the U.S. government, they're aiding propaganda efforts. In sharp contrast, when civilian deaths are caused by bombers who hate America, the perpetrators are evil and those deaths are tragedies. " (Norman Solomon, "Media Beat")
Now when the USSR is gone it has become evident that West lives in a truly Orwellian world...

The verse from Bible you quote can be applied to you as well, Mr. Opponent, don't you think so?

And, as Vladimir Lenin said, "The history dislike subjunctive mood", so take off your another label from me; I am a real world man. I cannot want to bring a return to Communism, as it 1) never existed, and 2) what you call 'communism' cannot be restored.

Best regards.

Dear Vladimir,

Communism has a vision of utopia that is totally impractical in the real world.

What happens when you try to engage in central planning and take away ordinary profit motives is that you destroy incentives to work, invent, build and create.

Yes, communism did exist in the Soviet Union -- it's just that, in practice, communism results in totalitarianism because communism doesn't work in real life the way Marx envisioned it.

My family suffered greatly under the communist totalitarianism of the Soviet Union. It was intolerable. They chose freedom. That is why I am lucky enough to live in America.

Dear Gina,

Many thanks for your kind reply, I do appreciate it.

I totally agree: communism as an ideology is (and time has shown, was) an utopia. But at the same time, basically, an absolutely positive utopia targeted at common wealth and happiness. Unfortunately, we live in the real world, where there are no "spherical horses 1 meter in diameter in total vacuum, producing one horsepower".

Whether we are talking about large scale events, like transformation of the Russian Empire into the USSR and afterwards into the post-Soviet Russian Federation, or about much smaller scale, like "Desert Storm", there are always black and white sides (well, in different proportion), but it is unfair to say something is (was) absolutely black or white.

You say: "What happens when you try to engage in central planning and take away ordinary profit motives is that you destroy incentives to work, invent, build and create."

I cannot agree. Being an (international) economist by my primary education, I know drawbacks of centralized planned economy. But at the same time I know its advantages.
Do you really think that such a mighty power as the USSR once was could be built without heavy work, great inventions, huge construction and creation (or recreation) of almost everything?
Surely, "fear of KGB" could not be the only provision necessary for that (and in fact, it was not).
In fact, all the post-Soviet states, including Baltic countries and central Asian, exist now using "Soviet heritage", which includes industry, system of social protection and medical system.

Even Georgia - they used American donations for construction of NATO-style army, not for developing of industry or economy in general. That's why the recent events, which led to break of diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia, are much more painful for the Georgians. At the point of breakage there were several hundreds of Russians in Georgia (either tourists, or on vacation, some on business), but there were, by careful estimations, from 0.6 to 1 millon of Georgians in Russia -- having business or working as gastarbeiters to support their families...

Back to your reply. As for Soviet Union, there were no Communism as envisioned by Marx; practically (and ideologically) it was Socialism, which differs greatly from Marx' utopia.

RE: "My family suffered greatly under the communist totalitarianism of the Soviet Union. It was intolerable. They chose freedom."

My deep and sincere condolences. The country was huge, there was place for everything. I don't know what happened to your family, so no more comments.
As for my family (me, my parents and grandparents), there were no sufferings. And they have never felt themselves oppressed by the state.
As for great-grandparents (people that were adult durint the revolutions), they were different people: peasants, clerks, merchants, noblemen, officers. Some remained in the USSR, some emigrated (as far as I know, there are many distant relatives of mine in the USA).

I am happy to live in Russia, and I am absolutely not jealous about people living in other countries. Moreover, it makes me happy to know that, e.g., you feel lucky to live in the USA, DemocracyRules - in Canada, and so on.

My best regards!

You have no idea what you've missed. You have no idea how wide is the gap in standard of living between free economies and centrally planned economies.

The problem with central planning is that no central planner can possibly know enough, quickly enough, to match what the free market does automatically. It is impossible for one central planner or 100,000 central planners to respond immediately to continual changes in supply and demand in each region for every important product or service, and to find the right price point to keep supply and demand in balance.

That is why centrally planned economies end up with frequent shortages, surpluses and black markets, and end up producing 10 million of the same thing in the same color rather than providing consumers with a variety of product choices, price ranges and options.

Do an Amazon.com or Google "Shopping" search for any product, from chess boards to electronics to DVDs to garden tools to toys, and you'll be astonished at the range of desirable choices available to buy, all as a result of the free market and the ordinary operation of the laws of supply and demand.

How many of the best, most popular products on earth today were designed by central planners? Very few. That's how well central planning works. Most of the time, central planning just throws sand in the wheels of progress.

My grandmother's letters from America to her sisters, who were still living under the rule of the then-Soviet Union, were CENSORED when my grandmother mentioned having a new washing machine (a fairly routine purchase in America even at the time.) That's communism in practice: central planning, lack of freedom, resulting lack of prosperity, and the need to try to hide the truth about how poorly communism works in practice.

[From DR -- Vladimir -- I have deleted all your material that was (1) unsubstantiated assertions, (2) irrelevant, (3) illogical, or (4) the defense of detail]

Dear Gina,

RE: "You have no idea how wide is the gap in standard of living between free economies and centrally planned economies."

There is nothing perfect in the real world. Shopping choice is not a strict criterion of prosperity.

And as for censorship - this shameful phenomenon did exist in the USSR, but the USSR (plus the countries of the Socialist system) was not the only domain for censors. It exists until now and maybe ever shall be.

I do not say this is good or bad.

In fact, I would enjoy more if Gina did that, even if I have another idea of what is unsubstantiated, irrelevant or illogical.
At least I hope she read it, just to have better understanding of my viewpoints not evident in the emasculated version you left.

The comments to this entry are closed.

GINA COBB

  • The 2006 Weblog Awards
  • "This is a great blog."

WEBSITES TO EXPLORE

COMMENTS?

  • Before posting a comment, ask yourself whether it is polite, fair, and truthful. Comments are auto-deleted if they contain profanity (even with ast*ri*ks). Comments may also be edited or deleted if they include anything false, misleading, insulting, unethical, illogical or spamlike. Rude comments or spam result in a permanent ban of future comments.