Stalinism is better than democracy
Additionally, since no definition of "better" was provided, I will take dictionairy.com's "Greater in excellence or higher in quality", though the specific meaning should not be dwelled on too heavily.
The first necessary step it seems is to define Stalin-ism. Dictionary.org defines the philosophy as "the bureaucratic, authoritarian exercise of state power and mechanistic application of Marxist-Leninist principles associated with Stalin." (1) Essentially, Stalin-ism offers totalitarianism in the stead of freedom or universal suffrage and brutal reprisal in the stead of cooperation or companionship. While Stalin's horrendous crimes against human decency and basic rights should not be neglected, this debate primarily focuses on the success of the state he ruled from 1928-53. (2)
My opponent's thesis focuses on the points of stability, productivity, and unity, and thus will be my opening focus on this debate.
I count it unnecessary to define stability, as it can refer to a broad spectrum of phenomena. Generally, stability is the state of not being set to collapse or in a precarious position to do so. This label cannot be placed on Stalin's USSR, politically, internationally, nor with regard to the future.
While my opponent praises Stalin's harsh response to any and all opposition within Russian territories, I would argue that it is Stalin's very policies which inspired this dangerous dissent and made violence necessary. In response to Trotsky's unfortunate end, many members, a majority in fact, of Stalin's own party turned against him and threatened to overthrow Stalin and put Trotsky back in place. Stalin, in his usual subtle manner, had all of these people executed along with their families. (3) Similarly, Lenin issued a challenge, for which he was murdered, followed by a near peasant revolt, which again was put down with great suffering. (4) I would submit that a country and a leader who require such awful measures simply to guarantee the stability of their authoritarian system is perhaps not in as great a position as imagined.
On a diplomatic and international level, the USSR was a bit like a suicide bomber in that the war it wished to wage, and attempted to begin on many occasions, promised only complete destruction and desolation. Perhaps my opponent will disagree, but nuclear-based mutually assured destruction strikes me as neither a sound nor stable foreign policy. The USSR was one mistake away from such the greatest human tragedy in history, and possibly the last one, and the wayward nation almost made that error in 1963. Being on the brink of war for 20+ years is surely impressive, but not particularly stable.
When Stalin was in the throws of a vicious stroke in 1953, doctors refused to treat him, fearing the same fate as other physicians who had dared to try and assist their dictator. Stalin died on March 1st, a momentous day in the progress of humanity that should really be a holiday, or at least noted annually. Nevertheless, the confusion stemming from his death sent the USSR on a perpetual decline, despite it not technically collapsing for another 30-40 years. The parties of Russia at the time fought so long and violently, that a new president, Nikita Khrushchev, did not emerge victorious until 1956 (5), and the USSR was plagued by infighting until the very end. Once again, the nation was not in any way stable, and only out of sheer luck managed to avoid collapsing in a vile revolution or a ballooning mushroom cloud.
Although the word can have many different meanings, it is likely that my opponent refers to the Soviet economy. I must ask how he can say this in a serious intellectual debate? The Stalinist System is among the most spectacular failures of any country in history. (6) Like all other aspects of governance, Stalin chose bureaucratic micromanagement and fiscal despotism to run the economy, which was simply put, a mess. Among the problems were the following:
1. Because the rewards for work were so petty, despite millions of what were essentially slave workers, and forced technology advancements, very little got done comparatively to what could be accomplished in the west. As one mine "worker" put it, "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work". As a result, potential was wasted, progressed was slowed, and people suffered. (7)
2. The US continually throughout the Cold War spent several times more for military expenditures than the USSR. However, because of the inefficiency and weakness of the Soviet economy, the country ailed, while the US economy kept expanding. "First there was a visible decline in the rate of growth, then its complete stagnation. There was a drawnout, deepening and almost insurmountable crisis in agriculture. It was a frightening and truly terrifying sign of crisis. It was these factors that were crucial in the transition to perestroika." (8)
3. As Stalin and his successors could not risk Russians discovering their failures, like the massive fallout from the Five Year's Plan (9), they deleted all records. This being as a consequence of the system, the errors made and the abuses conducted could never be unearthed or fixed or responded to. A leader with malevolent motivations could not do such a thing in a democratic system, and this sort of cover-up is not just possible, but really demanded under a Stalinist rule.
For a very concrete application of the 3 points I just made, here is a graph mapping the Soviet economy's weakening from when Stalin took over in 1928, through his supreme presidency, and up until the 80's.
As fraternity was one of the few things my opponent addressed in his second round, I will throw it in there. Needless to say, fraternity in a democracy is a result of political and social equality, as well as a common happiness stemming from the system. In 1953, when Stalin was on his deathbed, he screamed from his chambers. Physicians, guards, and family members were nearby or outside, but noone came to help him, because of how psychotic he was. Is this fraternity? Is this loyalty to one's leader? (10). No, Stalin would die alone, as he should, and an age of quiet desperation and political domination ended. The only fraternity in the USSR under Stalin was the opposition and the common man struggling for existence under the yoke of Leftist fascism.
I could write and dictate for hours on this topic, but my opponent leaves me with little need to, based on his first round argument. Until I receive more material to work with, I will leave my arguments as such. Good luck to my adversary.
(3) (4) http://historyofrussia.org...
(6) (7) (8) http://www.sjsu.edu...
In your argument you stated information from after the death of Stalin, as in the Cuban Missile crisis. This can be noted as a leaving of the idea of Stalinism after the death of Stalin.
The level of death Stalin needed in order to consolidate his power did in fact justify the ends. "For decades Stalin had been the "father" of the nation, and many grieved as if they had lost a family member. Tens of thousands of ordinary Russians wept openly in spontaneous and genuine displays of public grief when crowds gathered in Moscow to pay their last respects; several mourners were killed in the crush to file past the bier. In spite of his brutal repression and his rigorous control of the economy, Stalin was still hugely popular throughout the Soviet Union. His death marked the end of an era; for most Soviet citizens it had been an era of greatness for their country." Many individuals under the Stalin era where proud of the nation they lived under, unlike many in democratice countries who in fact resent their government. The disaprovel of the government can be shown in a graph of approval on how individuals in the congress of the United States have had relatively low amounts of times in which individuals were happy with the government of the nation they lived in. It can still be seen today that approximately half(49%) of russians still have a positive view of Stalin, even after years of anti-stalinist propaganda.
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During the reign of Stalin, productivity soared. It can be seen that, though quotas were not necessarily met, production continuously went up during the first five year plans.
I’d like to point out that fraternity unity in the case we are both discussing exist in both example societies. It exists only in different forms.
In response to his noting that the Cuban Missile Crises was after Stalin, it was Stalin's aggressive and enemy-creating foreign policies that resulted in such a hostile international environment for Russia, that destabilized the country and led in part to its ultimate destruction.
Assuming this is a rebuttal to unity, anyone could find support and people to mourn over the loss of a leader. However, the feeling was far from universal. "So scared were his staff that having suffered a stroke he was left to fester for hours before anyone plucked up the courage to check on him". (1) Not even Stalin's own family were noble enough to check on their ailing president, and through a beautiful example of poetic justice, Stalin died as a result of his own malevolence. Indeed, even after someone finally entered Stalin's chambers, and called for the doctors, the dictator's closest advisers were "pacing the anterooms worried whether their boss would ever wake up and likely more anxious that he should wake up and their behaviour would need to be accounted for." (2) One of those advisers, Beria, was quite pleased at Stalin's demise, as it likely preserved his life, since he was an intended victim of a future purge. (3)
I do not doubt that half of Russians, commonly sheltered from Stalin's true atrocities, hold a positive view of the ruler. However, in retrospective polls of US presidents, nearly all scored higher than Stalin's measly 49%. Kennedy, Ford Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton all received greater than 50% favor-ability, (3) despite the controversial nature of democratic elections. Stalin, in the 20-20 lens of retrospection, did not unite his country behind him, but has seemed to divide his people almost in half.
Production in almost all areas of the Russian economy soared during the Stalinist period, and it was all over the world. I have two primary responses to this. Firstly, it better have. The Russian economy had been consuming itself since the Great War, and Russia was very far behind in the race to industrialization, still operating on a system of peasants and landlords. (4) Through a process of forced labor and agricultural collectivization (which caused the biggest famine in history, I might add), Stalin was able to jump start the economy, especially with regards to its outdated military.
The second point on this is that the growth failed to outpace that of almost every country in the world, including the United States. (5)
I once against thank my opponent for this debate, and look forward to his next entry.
(1) (2) http://ezinearticles.com...
Stalin was feared by his advisors which in fact was a good thing, even though it may have caused his own death. Through fear he reinforced his power, causing them to be more reliable. Instead of faltering like those in democratic societies they feared mistakes, which in turn prevented mistakes.
It is amazing that that many people still like Stalin after years of anti-Stalin propaganda. This is because of how much he improved the country and how it was made strong by him.
Stalin didn't divide his people in half, it was his followers that did. He in fact should have purged more if he wanted the country to grow as it did under his power, but perhaps in that case he cared more about his power more than the nation after his death.
What stalin did to the Russian economy was amazing due to the weakness of it before. It can in fact be expected that the growth of other already developed nations because he in fact was developing the nation. It is easier to build after establishing a foundation and what Stalin did was build a solid foundation for a Russia that could have grown strong under his leadership, but sadly he died.
2.Critique of Democracy
The public is ignorant about politics and lacks even the basic facts that it would need to make sound judgments about political issues. poll by Ipsos-MORI shows just how deep this ignorance is. Among other things, the poll found that:
These are not just little mistakes, they’re absolute howlers.
This ignorance is perfectly rational and understandable. The problem is that these are the people who decide who runs the country. How can you choose the best set of welfare policies – ‘the best’ being what you would choose if you had all the information available – when you know absolutely nothing about welfare? How can you choose which of the two main parties is offering the best immigration policy if you haven’t got a clue about immigration?
1. Perhaps superseding Stalin's fearful image with "though it may have caused his own death" in a way invalidates whatever point you're making on the topic, but the claim that the system of terror in some way fortified the system is ludicrous. Instead of avoid mistakes, advisers and cabinet members would simply not tell Stalin what was actually happening for fear of reprisal. Additionally, doing a superb job did not in any way ensure your safety from the psychopath. Stalin earned his reputation in a large part by executing many of his greatest generals and most efficient workers. (1) The system of tyranny and desperation was so severe that Stalin's wife actually killed herself. (2) This cannot form the basis for a 20th century government, and certainly did not act to improve the country.
2. I would like to see some hard evidence of this campaign of discrediting the USSR that you claim has been inflicted on Russians. While Stalin's predecessors gently condemned some of his more extreme actions, they generally agreed with his philosophy. Meanwhile, under Putin, the state-media has been quite, shall we say, Soviet recently, chugging out mountains of propaganda against the west and in praise of the Russian tradition dating back to the czars. (3)
3. It is completely irrelevant whether Stalin or his followers divided opinion on the country; it's still a critique and an evisceration of the system. As under any political system, different opinions inevitably rose from the oppressive and tumultuous state, and while Stalin had great power, because the system did not accept and work with these differences like a democracy, but instead attempted to cling on to its absolutist despot roots, the system was doomed to falter and fall come Stalin's death.
4, Indeed, much growth was won under Stalin. (Although similar growth was also won under Roosevelt) The cost, however, included a potential nuclear war, millions of productive workers, some of Russia's greatest political and bureaucratic talent, Stalin's life, and the continued survival of the country. It cost the US absolutely nothing. Basically, Growth was achieved at the cost of Stalinism.
I appreciate that my opponent has finally gotten around to proving their case with an attack on democracy.
2. Critique of Democracy
The beautiful thing about democracy is that participation is completely optional. Indeed, there are many stupid and ignorant people living in the United States and in Europe, but these are likely the same group that does not vote, and led to approximately 60% turnout in the 2012 presidential election. (4) While there will inexorably be ignoramuses voting, there will also be intellectuals and the informed to balance this out. Stalinism, in contrast, relies on one self-appointed person to run everything, and thus suffers from the same problem as fascism: all it takes is a single stupid leader, and the system collapses. Millions of stupid people in a democracy, and nothing turns for the worst.
Having all the information is helpful, but in no way vital in making decisions. There is a difference between lacking certain levels of understanding and "knowing absolutely nothing". Stalin never wasted time with facts, but came to a decision based on little to no input at all. Some voters are like this, while others are knowledgeable and can come to a reasonable and tenable position. Once again, the difference is that Stalin's ignorance hurt a lot, while the voters' very little.
Good luck to my opponent in the final round.
"The system of tyranny and desperation was so severe that Stalin's wife actually killed herself. (2) This cannot form the basis for a 20th century government, and certainly did not act to improve the country."
You are basing this on the argument that morals and freedom are good things in a society. This is not the case. Tyranny in its finest form can provide more stabilty and happiness than any democratic society. This can b eseen in hpothetical examples such as in Brave New World where the majority of the society is indeed very happy.
"It is completely irrelevant whether Stalin or his followers divided opinion on the country; it's still a critique and an evisceration of the system. As under any political system, different opinions inevitably rose from the oppressive and tumultuous state, and while Stalin had great power, because the system did not accept and work with these differences like a democracy, but instead attempted to cling on to its absolutist despot roots, the system was doomed to falter and fall come Stalin's death."
The idea that democracy doesn't fair the same problems is indeed laughable. Democracy indeed breeds divisions among its political parties much more than Stalinist systems do.
"You are basing this on the argument that morals and freedom are good things in a society"
No, I have not once focused on the ethical failings of Stalinism, but instead the technical and institutional failings, and what the ethical degradation causes in the way of division and instability. A state where the wife of the leader kills herself cannot be a stable or problem-free state, however you look at it. This was the point I was making.
"Tyranny in its finest form can provide more stabilty and happiness than any democratic society"
Even you conceded that totalitarianism will not result in greater happiness, but it would seem stating the thing as fact that you were expected to prove is not an argument.
"The idea that democracy doesn't fair the same problems is indeed laughable. Democracy indeed breeds divisions among its political parties much more than Stalinist systems do."
Yes, but that division is negated by the fact that everyone can practice and support their ideals, and have a hand in the political system. In a Stalinist, despot state, if one fees their opinions are ignored or oppressed, they will be much more violent than in a society where they are free to express and campaign for their beliefs.