Total Posts:175|Showing Posts:1-30|Last Page
Jump to topic:

Why the Soviet Union Was Not an "Evil Empire"

charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 1:30:45 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Well, with TV network FX set to air a Cold War-era spy series about the ole "evil empire" and its dastardly covert efforts to undermine our "national security", and a remake of the movie Red Dawn (that sophomoric post-apocalyptic tale of America's occupation by melodramatically malevolent Russkies that allowed teenage males in the 80s to vicariously experience the macho-romantic fantasy of being patriotic resistance fighters bravely battling an evil enemy) about to hit theaters (Btw and lol!, for sinister Soviets it actually substitutes nefarious North Koreans, as if those sick men of Asia have anything remotely approaching the capacity to conquer and land an occupation force in the U.S.!), it seems that an old bogeyman is back on people's brains, so I thought that I would share some thoughts about why the Soviet Union was never the great evil and great threat that it was made out to be.

Why was the old Soviet Union not such an evil, undemocratic, and dangerous society, let me count the various ways.

1. The Soviet state achieved a truly remarkable, phenomenal feat in the way of industrial, technological, and social progress in an extremely short span of years. That is, in one fell swoop of social engineering and economic planning it updated Russian society from a medieval stage of development to a thoroughly modern one.

2. The Soviet state did not simply compel its citizens' cooperation and deliver the blessings of progress and modernization in a few brief decades merely by state coercion, by scowling and mustache-twirling commissars holding a slave state's whip over everyone. No, although the Soviet paradigm of a socialist state turned out to be a highly flawed one indeed, although Russian "communism" alas proved to be a counterfeit, nonetheless a great many sincere Soviet citizens believed in its goals, supported its project of transforming Russian society into a beacon of socialist hope for the world, and, moreover, participated in that epic enterprise in an enthusiastically voluntary fashion. Yes, the Soviet system was quite participatory & populist, and eminently democratic in that sense.

Sure, every Russian to a man was not on board with realizing the vision of the Bolsheviks, but then of course it's always the case in any democratic society that not everyone is 100% on board with everything that's required of them. I should also add that the way the masses of common people rose up and fought, during World War Two, for the society they had been building can quite arguably be interpreted as a vote, a democratic vote of confidence, for their socioeconomic form of life, another bit of empirical evidence of the democratic nature of the Soviet system.

It is simply parochial and chauvinistic for Westerners to think that their version of democracy, which is actually a dubious excuse for a people's polity, is the only passable form that democracy can take, and the only legitimate form of government. For us to fail to recognize the truly populist and democratic character of the Soviet system really does speak to our own limited concepts.

3. The Soviet state can't very well have been a Marxist monstrosity, since it was merely a mock Marxist system. And its collapse was due not to the wrongheadedness of its philosophy, but rather to a failure to be true to the core values of that philosophy. Or do you think that Stalin and his methods were exemplary of the essence of authentic socialism?!

4. The Soviet system did the best it could with the feudal and czarist political heritage of despotism and nonrespect for human rights that it inherited. No, it could hardly be expected to create a Western-style liberal democracy from such wretched political and social institutions and traditions as those that comprised its heritage of authoritarian government, serfdom, internal passports, the czarist secret police, historical role models such as Ivan the Terrible, etc.

Well then, it's not very fair or reasonable to judge Russian society under communism too harshly for not breaking from long ingrained patterns overnight and becoming another Great Britain or United States, with a League of Women Voters, a Bill of Rights, and a much-maligned ACLU to enforce it. The ole Bolshies in fact created the only form of populist society that they could, given historical precedents and limitations. Yes, the collective karmic baggage of the past has an inescapable way of bogging down a society in a political rut of repression, severely circumscribing its prospects. But, all in all, the Soviet Union made socialist lemonade out of bitter historical lemons.

5. Of course the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and its satellites were never a realistic evil threat because it never really had the military-industrial capacity to conquer the West, nor, contrary to "Free World" propaganda, did its leadership really dream the impossible grandiose dream of placing the entire world under its hegemony. The Soviet Union was merely another player, and quite inferior in economic and military strength to the West, it posed no danger whatsoever to the freedom of ole John and Jane Q. to read their Bible and go to John Birch Society meetings in East Dullsville, Illinois.

6. The Soviet Union was most certainly not an "evil empire" in the sense of being especially and purely evil and a stark contrast to a paragon of unadulterated political virtue such as the U.S. Alas no, the U.S., in the course of the Cold War, and using it as a plausible pretext, perpetrated a good bit of political skullduggery and moral mayhem, rising to the level of evil. Through its Third World lackeys and proxies, through client regimes and friendly dictators, through CIA supported and directed military/police state repression, and sometimes directly, with its own troops, as in Korea and Vietnam, the Cold War-era governments of the United States murdered, brutalized, and terrorized many millions of human beings. This all makes it quite an example of chutzpah for Americans to sanctimoniously speak of the "evil" of the Soviet Union.

Why, in the killing fields of Indonesia alone, as many as a million people perished in a CIA funded and fostered state murder spree (the CIA went so far as to even provide Suharto's butchers with hit lists of individuals that it wanted dealt with). Yep, the U.S. committed a sufficient amount of outright evil in the 20th century that it can hardly point to the Soviet Union as the abject antithesis of its wholesome Western goodness and say "Behold, there stands true political evil".

Well, the Soviet Union was certainly by no means a wonderful society, but neither was it the evil part of a morally dualistic binary in which the U.S. authentically played the opposite part of the white-hat nation defending freedom and human rights against wanton communist villainy. The Soviet Union was simply another highly imperfect system that we were socioculturally indoctrinated to see as the supreme evil on the planet to justify much of our own evil.

continued below
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 1:33:05 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Conclusion

But wasn't the Soviet Union outstandingly evil in the sense that its system was much more repressive than that of the United States? Not if by the American system we also include the American system of international hegemony. Sure, people within the borders of the U.S. were by and large freer than Soviet citizens, but millions living under U.S. suzerainty in "pro-American" countries lived under brutal authoritarian repression, under dictatorship, under political and economic slavery, under evil to rival that of the Soviet bloc.

Mm-hmm, a great many citizens of the American-led "Free World" existed in societies in which they knew all too well the fear of that knock on the door in the middle of the night that spelled one's doom. So no, when we take into account the dreadfully tyrannized existence of the Third World part of the Western bloc, so to speak, we can't even say that the Soviet Union was all that morally inferior to the United States in regard to its infamous repressive ways, let alone deserving of being called the "focus of evil in the world", as Reagan rhetorically and slanderously once described it.

Quite simply, the U.S.S.R and the USA were in fact both bad actors on the geopolitical stage, but to paint "communist" Russia as transcendently evil is merely conservative ideologically-biased rubbish. To call the Soviet Union evil as if it had the market cornered on wickedness and cruelty is ludicrous, laughably ludicrous. If we accept the United States as the archetype of goodness, then evaluated by our record, by the abysmally low standards that the United States set in the Third World, the Soviet Union was absolutely not evil with a capital and elongated E at all, it was simply another hypocritical and disappointing product of a dream gone awry.

The sooner we all recognize and acknowledge this, i.e., that ours is another dishonest and frequently unrighteous system, the better. But as long as we focus on vilifying other societies as "evil" we're unlikely to leave off ballyhooing ourselves as morally splendiferous long enough to realize that we aren't. Yes, to cling with bad faith to the illusion of our own angelic moral superiority we need enemies like the Soviet Union to be quite demonic. When we're ready to get in touch with the genuine and hard truth of our own society, perhaps we will be able to finally drop the self-serving and dishonestly moralistic judgment of our defunct bogeyman, "communist" Russia. And when we do that, perhaps we can also begin to come to terms with the way we've conveniently turned Islam into its replacement, into the new alien and evil threat from the East.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
royalpaladin
Posts: 22,357
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 6:13:33 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Yeah, a lot of this is true. The Soviet Union did stray drastically from Marxist ideals. We often think of our society as better because we pretend that we don't deprive the rest of the world their resources in order to function. There may have been lines in the Soviet Union, but the United States doesn't even let lines form in Africa. Our evil may be "hidden", but it still exists.

In addition, the USSR was one of the most friendly regimes towards women's rights in existence.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 8:05:31 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 1:30:45 AM, charleslb wrote:
a great many sincere Soviet citizens believed in its goals, supported its project of transforming Russian society into a beacon of socialist hope for the world, and, moreover, participated in that epic enterprise in an enthusiastically voluntary fashion. Yes, the Soviet system was quite participatory & populist, and eminently democratic in that sense.

popularistic Fascism =/= democracy

democracy (as we mean when using the word in modern political speech) takes place when you have both freedom to support or oppose a way of doing things, and can publically push for doing things in various ways... And then people choose between them by voting.

The fact that a certain set of dictators enjoy popular appeal doesn't make their rule democratic.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 8:07:28 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
maybe fascim's not quite the right word...

As it carries too much baggage.. but you get the point.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 8:05:31 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/17/2012 1:30:45 AM, charleslb wrote:
a great many sincere Soviet citizens believed in its goals, supported its project of transforming Russian society into a beacon of socialist hope for the world, and, moreover, participated in that epic enterprise in an enthusiastically voluntary fashion. Yes, the Soviet system was quite participatory & populist, and eminently democratic in that sense.

popularistic Fascism =/= democracy

democracy (as we mean when using the word in modern political speech) takes place when you have both freedom to support or oppose a way of doing things, and can publically push for doing things in various ways... And then people choose between them by voting.

The fact that a certain set of dictators enjoy popular appeal doesn't make their rule democratic.

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere.

it's like religion... Converts are the only one's who make a "choice" in the matter, though it's usually very much psychologically influenced... and other than converts people don't usually make any real choice or decision... they just get swept up in it.

Respecting freedom of speech acts as a brake on the craziness of what popularism can do. (though perhaps this may come off as hopefully naive, given that people insulate themselves/their family so well from others through peer pressure and Cable news lol)
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 2:01:01 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 6:13:33 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Yeah, a lot of this is true. The Soviet Union did stray drastically from Marxist ideals. We often think of our society as better because we pretend that we don't deprive the rest of the world their resources in order to function. There may have been lines in the Soviet Union, but the United States doesn't even let lines form in Africa. Our evil may be "hidden", but it still exists.

In addition, the USSR was one of the most friendly regimes towards women's rights in existence.

Good points. Thanks.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 2:54:59 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 8:05:31 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/17/2012 1:30:45 AM, charleslb wrote:
a great many sincere Soviet citizens believed in its goals, supported its project of transforming Russian society into a beacon of socialist hope for the world, and, moreover, participated in that epic enterprise in an enthusiastically voluntary fashion. Yes, the Soviet system was quite participatory & populist, and eminently democratic in that sense.

popularistic Fascism =/= democracy

A bit of knee-jerk reductionism.

democracy (as we mean when using the word in modern political speech) takes place when you have both freedom to support or oppose a way of doing things, and can publically push for doing things in various ways... And then people choose between them by voting.

You're going in for precisely the sort of political parochialism that I touch on in the OP, dismissing the demotic-participatory character of a system you ideologically disapprove of because it doesn't conform to your conventional Middle-American stereotype of democracy. Btw, and FYI, our vaunted form of democracy is a barely verisimilar example of government of, by, and for the people, it's certainly not the most excellent touchstone by which to judge the democratic legitimacy of other societies!

The fact that a certain set of dictators enjoy popular appeal doesn't make their rule democratic.

Well, conversely, the fact that a society has a dictator doesn't mean that the general will (volonte generale) of its people finds no expression. The general will of the people of the Soviet Union to build socialism was betrayed by their leaders, but not entirely stifled and negated. The general will of Ivan and Ivanna Q. Public, i.e., of ordinary Russian citizens, in fact found expression to such an extent that some degree of democratic legitimacy must be granted to the system of the former Soviet Union.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 2:58:49 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 12:41:05 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
Is this a feeble apology for Stalinism?

Is this a facile and feeble dismissal of the entire substance of my OP?!
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Lordknukle
Posts: 12,788
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 2:59:08 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Maybe you addressed this, but what's your response to the fact that the Soviet Union killed something like 20 million of its own citizens?
"Easy is the descent to Avernus, for the door to the Underworld lies upon both day and night. But to retrace your steps and return to the breezes above- that's the task, that's the toil."
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 3:13:34 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere...

Hmm, sounds like you lack sufficient faith in your fellow man and woman to favor a democratic form of society in which people endeavor to maximize human flourishing by maximizing their social and economic interdependence through a democratically participatory system of collective decision making. I suspect that you would much prefer an egoistically individualistic form of "libertarian" society in which everyone functions like an atomized and selfish actor whose only law is Don't tread on me, and to hell with everyone else. Well, if I have you pegged correctly then you're hardly one to be pronouncing judgment on the democratic legitimacy of other societies.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 4:14:51 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 3:13:34 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere...

Hmm, sounds like you lack sufficient faith in your fellow man and woman to favor a democratic form of society in which people endeavor to maximize human flourishing by maximizing their social and economic interdependence through a democratically participatory system of collective decision making.

I definitely lack faith in groupthink....

That is, I lack faith in social situations where people are supposedly bound together by a set of beliefs which are next to unquestionable.... and there is lots of peer pressure for uniformity.

I suspect that you would much prefer an egoistically individualistic form of "libertarian" society in which everyone functions like an atomized and selfish actor whose only law is Don't tread on me, and to hell with everyone else.

mmm.. not quite.

Well, if I have you pegged correctly then you're hardly one to be pronouncing judgment on the democratic legitimacy of other societies.

mmm... you're a dummy :)

Also, In response to your other response... I wasn't holding up America as a Paragon of Democracy when I defined democracy as I did in my post... I didn't mention america at all...

Granted, American democracy has certainly influenced what people mean when they use the word.

Democracy (the contemporary english word) doesn't simply mean a Popular government... it means a government chosen through free elections of it's people....
(freedom of speech could be assumed to be a necessary condition to having a Free election, for otherwise choices would be limited or obfuscated... and the election wouldn't be free.)

It doesn't simply mean government that's got popular support.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 4:16:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 2:59:08 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Maybe you addressed this, but what's your response to the fact that the Soviet Union killed something like 20 million of its own citizens?

Firstly, I never said that the Soviet Union was without sin, only that it didn't stand out from the pack of the so-called "civilized nations" for its iniquity. That is, if we weigh in the balance of lady justice the many millions of human beings oppressed and offed by the U.S. and its allies and satraps in the course of the Cold War, we can hardly judge red Russia to be "the focus of evil in the world". In fact, it's downright wrong to single it out at all.

But then doesn't killing twenty million of your own people indicate that you're not a democratic polity? After all, people certainly wouldn't vote for such a monumental bit of life-taking in their own society. Well, again, consider the Third World masses of humanity who the ostensively freedom-loving United States subjected to repression and a violent death by way of proxy regimes, does this call into serious doubt the libertarian (in the nonsectarian sense of the word) rhetoric and bona fides of our society? It sure does for me, but apparently not for most patriotic and right-leaning Americans. Well then, if despite its ample and appalling overseas record to the contrary you-all can maintain that the U.S. is a beautifully freedom-oriented nation, well, then why can't I grant a modest degree of democratic legitimacy to the former U.S.S.R?!

Also, I might point out, that a hefty, honking percentage of the twenty million body count that you (and Robert Conquest, the originator of this figure) liberally attribute to the murderousness of the Stalinist regime was in fact not the victim of outright murder, but rather perished as a result of various circumstances - which no doubt you'll reflexively blame on communism, but which were in fact the outcome of a combination of factors and of the process of cramming three hundred years worth of modernization into three or so decades.

Also, I should state the obvious, that it's quite intellectually dishonest for libertarians and conservatives to cite Soviet death stats, as if these numbers are the genuine reason for their opposition to communism. In actuality, of course, your opposition to communism is an ideology and psychology-based opposition to its philosophy and values, the empirical facts of communism, positive or negative, hardly enter into it for you. The empirical facts of communism only matter to you in so far as you can utilize and interpret them to support and service your own ideological rationalizations and pretensions to owning the political and moral high ground. I hope that this doesn't sound harsh or unkind, I simply feel that honesty is a key to enlightenment. I sincerely hold out hope that such tough honesty will perhaps help you to eventually outgrown your current "libertarian" mindset.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 4:23:24 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 4:14:51 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
It doesn't simply mean government that's got popular support.

if that's what you mean, it would be less confusing if you use a word other than Democracy.

Popular, or Populist maybe..
this way you don't imply that the people have freely, continuously, chosen to support these people...

for many such governments do their absolute Best to stamp out any dissent which might compete with their message, and Outright Refuse to Wager the People's Best Interests in an election where there's an opposition with a different message.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 4:47:10 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 4:14:51 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/17/2012 3:13:34 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere...

Hmm, sounds like you lack sufficient faith in your fellow man and woman to favor a democratic form of society in which people endeavor to maximize human flourishing by maximizing their social and economic interdependence through a democratically participatory system of collective decision making.

I definitely lack faith in groupthink....

That is, I lack faith in social situations where people are supposedly bound together by a set of beliefs which are next to unquestionable.... and there is lots of peer pressure for uniformity.

Review my response, am I advocating or even talking about what you're terming "groupthink"? It looks like you're just trying to pull and keep the conversation within your own stock libertarian categories, i.e., on your own ideological home turf where you feel that you enjoy an advantage. Would you now like to try to step out of your ideologically-insulated intellectual comfort zone and genuinely discuss the topic? Are you up for and to it?


I suspect that you would much prefer an egoistically individualistic form of "libertarian" society in which everyone functions like an atomized and selfish actor whose only law is Don't tread on me, and to hell with everyone else.

mmm.. not quite.

Oh really.


Well, if I have you pegged correctly then you're hardly one to be pronouncing judgment on the democratic legitimacy of other societies.

mmm... you're a dummy :)

Hmm, name-calling.

Also, In response to your other response... I wasn't holding up America as a Paragon of Democracy when I defined democracy as I did in my post... I didn't mention america at all...

Granted, American democracy has certainly influenced what people mean when they use the word.

Democracy (the contemporary english word) doesn't simply mean a Popular government... it means a government chosen through free elections of it's people....
(freedom of speech could be assumed to be a necessary condition to having a Free election, for otherwise choices would be limited or obfuscated... and the election wouldn't be free.)

It doesn't simply mean government that's got popular support.

Ha! Here's another recognized & standard English definition of the word "democracy", from Merriam Webster, a very well-regarded dictionary: "the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges". This is of course the cornerstone of communism, and was to a good extent achieved in the old U.S.S.R, beginning with the abolition of the monarchy and nobility and the creation of a culture opposed to the sort of class distinctions endorsed and endemic in capitalist "democracies". Also, the Oxford Dictionary of English in part defines "democracy" as "the practice or principles of social equality", according to this definition we have quite a long way to go before we're entitled to call our own society a real-deal and full-fledged democracy. Admittedly, the Soviet Union may not have always lived up to practicing social equality, but it certainly emphasized equality as a core principle more than we do. In that sense it was a bit more democratically authentic and advanced than we are. But hey, America is politically and morally superior to every other society, so to heck with any inconvenient facts and insights.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 4:56:57 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Come now, folks, when the Bolsheviks took power Russia was a sociopolitically atavistic society whose people lived and groaned under an authoritarian aristocracy headed by a hereditary dictator called a czar and under seriously technologically backward conditions. By the middle of the century this same nation had a republican political system in which the leadership came from the ranks of the common people (Nikita Khrushchev, for instance, was a son of peasant parents, and before entering politics made his living as a metalworker), and it had split the atom and put a man in outer space! This was hardly an entirely despotic and devilish system.

But, of course when the Cold War broke out in the 50s Americans promptly forgot that Soviet Russia had been an ally in defeating Nazi Germany, and fed on a steady diet of black-and-white-mindedness-fostering movie serials such as Flash Gordon, they were easily persuaded by the press and the politicians to perceive the U.S.S.R as the malign and menacing empire of Ming the Merciless. And today, some sixty years later, the perceptions of many haven't improved. It's still in vogue to view the now former Soviet Union with disdain as a bad and failed system, overlooking all of its good points and positive accomplishments. Apparently we have a good bit of intellectual and psychological maturation to undergo yet.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:01:04 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 4:47:10 PM, charleslb wrote:
Review my response, am I advocating or even talking about what you're terming "groupthink"? It looks like you're just trying to pull and keep the conversation within your own stock libertarian categories, i.e., on your own ideological home turf where you feel that you enjoy an advantage. Would you now like to try to step out of your ideologically-insulated intellectual comfort zone and genuinely discuss the topic? Are you up for and to it?

yep, you got me...

I'm a stock libertarian, with stock libertarian phrases... and you're making me uncomfortable.

as to democracy again...

People have indeed used the word in different ways..
however, when talking of Governments... and Political Systems.. it has taken on a definite meaning of the citizens having the ability to decide between and vote for what kinds of laws/government they're to live under.

If you enjoy being confoundingly imprecise you can perhaps get away with calling the Soviet society "democratic" in different regards.. but, without COMPLETELY butchering the contemporary meaning of the word there's just no calling it's government a democracy.
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
Greyparrot
Posts: 14,310
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:01:44 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 4:16:24 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 2:59:08 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Maybe you addressed this, but what's your response to the fact that the Soviet Union killed something like 20 million of its own citizens?

USA was probably responsible for more deaths from simply banning DDT. What are there.. like 2 million malaria deaths each year in 3rd world countries?
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:15:25 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 3:13:34 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere...

Hmm, sounds like you lack sufficient faith in your fellow man and woman to favor a democratic form of society in which people endeavor to maximize human flourishing by maximizing their social and economic interdependence through a democratically participatory system of collective decision making.

also, how is the USSR collective decisionmaking?

a "republic"? maybe...

A republic where if you didn't toe the line you were sent to siberia? ...
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
mattrodstrom
Posts: 12,028
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:21:42 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 5:15:25 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
At 11/17/2012 3:13:34 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 8:17:37 AM, mattrodstrom wrote:

People are nuts... they get swept up in "movements" and if the people in charge can effectively silence the opposition, groupthink can lead them Anywhere...

Hmm, sounds like you lack sufficient faith in your fellow man and woman to favor a democratic form of society in which people endeavor to maximize human flourishing by maximizing their social and economic interdependence through a democratically participatory system of collective decision making.

also, how is the USSR collective decisionmaking?

a "republic"? maybe...

A republic where if you didn't toe the line you were sent to siberia? ...

and anyways... appointed people, or a republic of "party members" can hardly be called collective decisionmaking in a representative, or democratic manner...
"He who does not know how to put his will into things at least puts a meaning into them: that is, he believes there is a will in them already."

Metaphysics:
"The science.. which deals with the fundamental errors of mankind - but as if they were the fundamental truths."
darkkermit
Posts: 11,204
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:22:26 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 5:01:44 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
At 11/17/2012 4:16:24 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 2:59:08 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Maybe you addressed this, but what's your response to the fact that the Soviet Union killed something like 20 million of its own citizens?

USA was probably responsible for more deaths from simply banning DDT. What are there.. like 2 million malaria deaths each year in 3rd world countries?

they can't stop african countries from using DDT. The US simply doesn't fund it.
Open borders debate:
http://www.debate.org...
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 5:33:27 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 5:01:44 PM, Greyparrot wrote:
At 11/17/2012 4:16:24 PM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/17/2012 2:59:08 PM, Lordknukle wrote:
Maybe you addressed this, but what's your response to the fact that the Soviet Union killed something like 20 million of its own citizens?

USA was probably responsible for more deaths from simply banning DDT. What are there.. like 2 million malaria deaths each year in 3rd world countries?

The ongoing toll in human life taken by the DDT policiy of this and various other First World countries is yet another way in which the capitalist profit ethos adds to the "Free World's" heinous body count. I quote from the Facts and Details website: "Malaria is the world's deadliest disease yet the amount of money spent on it"about $100 million a year on research, with about 25 percent coming from the United States, and $200 million a year on malaria control is minuscule compared to what is spent tackling lesser diseases that affect people in Western countries. The main reason for the lack of funding is that malaria is virtually non-existent in developed countries and it is regarded by drug companies as a poor man's disease with little potential for profit ." Yes, another egregious example of the lethal indecency of capitalism. Thanks for pointing it out, Grey.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/17/2012 6:09:58 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 5:01:04 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:

yep, you got me...

I'm a stock libertarian, with stock libertarian phrases... and you're making me uncomfortable.

Self-honesty is the best policy for personal growth.

as to democracy again...

People have indeed used the word in different ways..
however, when talking of Governments... and Political Systems.. it has taken on a definite meaning ...

Translation into Honestese: "I wish to remain locked into a conventional, closed-minded, and ideologically self-serving definition of democracy and reject out of hand any more expansive definition."

If you enjoy being confoundingly imprecise you can perhaps get away with calling the Soviet society "democratic" in different regards.. but, without COMPLETELY butchering the contemporary meaning of the word there's just no calling it's government a democracy.

Again, you apparently can't entertain a larger concept of democracy and wish to limit everyone else to your quite narrow and sociocentric use of the word.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
sadolite
Posts: 8,838
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 12:56:44 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
If you want to call killing people in other countries to spred freedom evil, then it is. If you want to call killing your own population to oppress them evil, then it is.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 1:20:49 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/18/2012 12:56:44 AM, sadolite wrote:
If you want to call killing people in other countries to spred freedom evil, then it is. If you want to call killing your own population to oppress them evil, then it is.

Lol! So all of the massive bit of mischief and murder perpetrated by this country's business-government complex, through its client regimes and CIA, in the course of the Cold War was genuinely in the cause of spreading freedom! Wow, some people really do buy into the pretexts that the power elite uses to justify its self-serving agenda. Yeah, sure, the morally beautiful power elite of the U.S. perpetrates all of its evil out of motives that are as pure as the proverbial driven snow, and it's only the rulers of other countries, primarily those who are anti-American and subscribe to left-wing viewpoints, who are capable of true and vile evil. Do you understand how some might view this as a tad naive?
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
charleslb
Posts: 4,740
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 1:30:15 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
Yes, dear conservatives, I certainly realize that the Soviet one-party "dictatorship of the proletariat" was far from the truest and wisest form of democracy. However, the same can be said about our own mock multi-party dictatorship of the plutotariat, in which two big-money parties, who are really just the alternate facades of the same two-faced political hyena, i.e., the capitalist-dominated Establishment, run a good cop-bad cop con game (the Democrats playing the nice cop who favors social welfare programs and civil rights, and the Republicans cast in the role of tough cop pushing for rugged individualism and gun rights) designed to appeal to voters of opposing political temperaments and to keep us all perpetually trapped in the matrix of political conventionality, simply oscillating back and forth between Democratic bums and Republican bums, forever stuck in the vicious cycle of the status quo.

Mm-hmm, no society, including ours, has yet created an authentically, ideally democratic system, therefore for us to survey, from atop a high horse, the forms of democracy devised by other polities and find them wanting, as if we have the real deal and know what we're talking about, is both unjustifiably chauvinistic and hilariously hypocritical. We would realize this if we had more of a capacity for honest self-criticism, but then chauvinistic hypocrites aren't known for their penchant for honest self-criticism.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
sadolite
Posts: 8,838
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 8:57:23 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/18/2012 1:20:49 AM, charleslb wrote:
At 11/18/2012 12:56:44 AM, sadolite wrote:
If you want to call killing people in other countries to spred freedom evil, then it is. If you want to call killing your own population to oppress them evil, then it is.

Lol! So all of the massive bit of mischief and murder perpetrated by this country's business-government complex, through its client regimes and CIA, in the course of the Cold War was genuinely in the cause of spreading freedom! Wow, some people really do buy into the pretexts that the power elite uses to justify its self-serving agenda. Yeah, sure, the morally beautiful power elite of the U.S. perpetrates all of its evil out of motives that are as pure as the proverbial driven snow, and it's only the rulers of other countries, primarily those who are anti-American and subscribe to left-wing viewpoints, who are capable of true and vile evil. Do you understand how some might view this as a tad naive?

I am not naive, you are expressing an "opinion" I am only stating my opinion. You interpret history and I interpret history differently. Killing your own population to squelch dissent within your own country is evil. Killing people in other countries who would squelch the dissent of the people in those countries in my opinion is a virtue.
It's not your views that divide us, it's what you think my views should be that divides us.

If you think I will give up my rights and forsake social etiquette to make you "FEEL" better you are sadly mistaken

If liberal democrats would just stop shooting people gun violence would drop by 90%
MouthWash
Posts: 2,607
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 3:11:14 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
At 11/17/2012 6:13:33 AM, royalpaladin wrote:
Yeah, a lot of this is true. The Soviet Union did stray drastically from Marxist ideals. We often think of our society as better because we pretend that we don't deprive the rest of the world their resources in order to function. There may have been lines in the Soviet Union, but the United States doesn't even let lines form in Africa. Our evil may be "hidden", but it still exists.

In addition, the USSR was one of the most friendly regimes towards women's rights in existence.


You can't let this go, can you?
"Well, that gives whole new meaning to my assassination. If I was going to die anyway, perhaps I should leave the Bolsheviks' descendants some Christmas cookies instead of breaking their dishes and vodka bottles in their sleep." -Tsar Nicholas II (YYW)
RyuuKyuzo
Posts: 3,074
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
11/18/2012 3:16:14 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
I know people who lived in soviet Russia.

The only good thing they have to say about it is the healthcare system wasn't complete garbage. Other than that it was a living Hell of food shortage and poverty.
If you're reading this, you're awesome and you should feel awesome.