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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
EVERY variant of communism is determined to do anything to increase the power and wealth of the ruling elite whatever it takes.



The writings on both Marx and Engels suggest that they were definatly against having a ruling elite. One of the main purposes of communism, for them, was to get rid of the ruling elite, not to replace it with a new one. They wanted things to be run be all the people, and for everyone to be in the same class. The idea of a Communist Party elite not only having a better lifestyle than non-party members, but having more political power, goes against the Communist Manifesto. Marx would have seen the Communist Party as being little different from the previous ruling class.

Marx's failure was in not properly understanding revolution. In most of the successful revolutions through out history (the main exception to this being the American Revolution), power has been grabbed by a small group of people who then try to hold onto it. This was the case in France (Napoleon), England (Cromwell), Iran (the Ayatollahs) and many more - no matter what the original aim of the revolution, a small group of people (or one person) seem to end up with all the power. The Russian Revolution was no different - the Communist Party stepped into the power vacuum and took control. What they instigated was not a government run by the people (as Marx and Engels intended), but an oligarchy.

Originally posted by Warren Dew:
It's more likely that they did their level best, and Communism simply didn't work as advertised. Marx is to be lauded for an early attempt to treat economics scientifically, but like many early theories, his have since been pretty convincingly disproven.



I think there were two main reasons that communism didn't work economically - communication and equality:

Communication was as problem in the field of planning the economy. In the case of the USSR, by the time information about the state was collected and the 5 year plans formulated, the plans and their information were out of date. Given that the USSR was the largest country in the world, its no surprise that their fairly basic communication network wasn't up to the task of providing enough information to plan the entire economy.

The other reason is a problem also shared by capitalism - the lack of equality (in capitalism, the problem is when there is a lack of equality of access to the market (for both buyers and sellers)). Communism assumed that everyone would have equal political power, but it turned out that there were people who managed to accumulate more power, resources, etc. The existence of people with more economic/political power in a system where everyone was supposed to have equal economic/political power would have (and did) caused large problems in terms of planning the economy and in terms of public moral.

Although I don't think that its the best thing to do, I think it would be possible to have a country with a successful centrally planned economy, but this country would need to be fairly small with a good communication and planning infrastructure, and most importantly, would need to be properly democratic.
[ June 09, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
The practice of a classless society (or as close to it as is possible given human nature) is in fact to be found in the western democracies so despised by communism, isn't it ironic?



Try telling the poor single mother living on a council estate that she's in the same class as a rich company director
 
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Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
In fact, leaving the other Warsaw Pact nations out of the equation, the size of the Soviet military dwarfed that of the entire Western aliiance. We were playing catchup.

"Catchup" which the USSR was never able to match.
I am beginning to love this thread. The classic of meaningless Drivel...



WE didn't know the USSR military was in the sorry state it was...
Counting equipment is far easier than determining the state of mind of the people or the state of readiness of that equipment.
If you count 10 bases with 1000 tanks each and you have a total of 5 bases with 500 tanks you've a quarter the tankforce of your opponent (and probably less as you can't count inside buildings or under trees).
It's kinda hard to see that half those tanks have no engine installed.

It's also hard to figure out the capabilities of that equipment.
So you have to consider that it's at least as capable as your own.
It came as quite a surprise when the M1s of the 1st armoured swept through the Iraqi T72s like a knife through butter and the Iraqi shells just bounced off of the armour plating of the M1s in many occasions.

Everyone had thought the weapon on the T72 to be far more capable than that, projected losses were many times higher than actual losses turned out to be.

Same with training. We of course knew the theory of Soviet tactics, we'd seen them at work in exercises and from eyewitness accounts from several battlefields (Afghanistan for example).
What we didn't know was the sorry state of training of most of the troops, which would have made them ineffective soldiers in a large scale war.

So yes, we were playing catchup. It just was a different game from the one we had envisioned and the adversary was less formidable than he had made us believe.
His own success in shielding his failures from us helped lead to his ultimate demise, together with his failure to appreciate that he could not modernise his own military to keep pace with us without ruining the social and economic structure of his own society to the point where the People (whom he still believed he was working for at least in public) would no longer accept the sacrifice.
 
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Jeroen Wenting:

I didn't write that Warren...

Oops, sorry! It was Joe King ... I cut and pasted from a section of his post that the quote button doesn't work on, then I guess I copied the name from below the text instead of from above the text. My apologies.
 
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
The practice of a classless society (or as close to it as is possible given human nature) is in fact to be found in the western democracies so despised by communism, isn't it ironic?


'Classless society' meant something quite different in 1848, the year the Communist Manifesto was written, as did 'imperialism.' You can say communism has failed in practice, so long as you ignore where it is still, in mutated forms, in practice: the People's Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam.

In 1848 the US still tolerated slavery as a practice. British Imperialist expansion was very much a real thing. Much of Europe was just starting to lay colonial claims on Africa. In 1848, Italy and the Prussian states had not yet unified. The remnants of feudal land-granting were alive and well.

So the ideas of classless societies have, again, everything to do with the rise of the worker, without the egalitarian overtones that so many Marxist-phobic observes insist should be the "real" goal of any form of government. Against the backdrop of rampant empire-building and old royalist forms of rule, the words held real promise to many people.
 
Warren Dew
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Michael Ernest:

You can say communism has failed in practice, so long as you ignore where it is still, in mutated forms, in practice: the People's Republic of China, Cuba, North Korea, Laos, and Vietnam.

Please, please visit China. You can call it a "mutated form" of communism if you want, but it is so bourgeois as to give Marx nightmares in his grave, I am sure. Even the old peasants engage in trade.

I think Cuba and North Korea are good examples of the failure of relatively unmutated communism.

I think you make good points about what classes were when Marx was writing, but it seems to me that you and Jeroen are in agreement there.
 
Michael Ernest
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WD: Please, please visit China. You can call it a "mutated form" of communism if you want, but it is so bourgeois as to give Marx nightmares in his grave, I am sure. Even the old peasants engage in trade.

ME: It's simply the declared form of government, Warren. So it's not 'pure' Communism. Name a 'pure' Democracy, if you wish.

WD: I think Cuba and North Korea are good examples of the failure of relatively unmutated communism.

North Korea is a totalitarian state. Marxist Communism calls for no such aspect. As for Cuba, what failures would you highlight?
 
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Marxist Communism calls for no such aspect.

Some people who are unfamiliar with Marx's ideas, but have read opinion pieces on same, will point to the Dictatorship of the proletariat here, as I just did

M
 
Michael Ernest
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Good link. As described there, the dictatorship of the proletariat Marx defined was a class-based exercise of power -- not a sovereign one, a la North Korea -- that he thought was a necessary precursor to a true communist society. It is not part of communism itself, but an evolutionary stage. Marx believed the revolution between these stages were necessarily bloody as well, and felt moral objections to such events were beside the point: when power changes hands in radical ways, people die in the conflict. That's just how things work.

History teachers I had in junior high and high school were at the time fond of speaking to America's "bloodless revolutions" -- i.e., elections. I suppose this was in part an internalized reaction to Castro-isms and Kruschev-isms of the time, but one only has to remember the bloodless War of 1812, the bloodless Civil War, the bloodless assassinations of Lincoln and Garfield, etc., to see through this kind of doctrinal glossing.
[ June 09, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Joe King:


Try telling the poor single mother living on a council estate that she's in the same class as a rich company director



She wasn't put there because of party connections (or lack thereof) though.
If that company director isn't careful he might end up in the gutter.
If that woman wins the lottery she may end up rich.

In a class society like the USSR was you were put somewhere by the party and you would forever be there.
In the PRC (the ultimate class society) where your ancestors were put by the party will forever determine your social status (unless it's lowered for comitting crimes against the state).
There's no appeal, no chance to ever rise out of the slums if that's where the party put you.
 
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Originally posted by Michael Ernest:

'Classless society' meant something quite different in 1848, the year the Communist Manifesto was written, as did 'imperialism.'.

In 1848 the US still tolerated slavery as a practice. British Imperialist expansion was very much a real thing. Much of Europe was just starting to lay colonial claims on Africa. In 1848, Italy and the Prussian states had not yet unified. The remnants of feudal land-granting were alive and well.

So the ideas of classless societies have, again, everything to do with the rise of the worker, without the egalitarian overtones that so many Marxist-phobic observes insist should be the "real" goal of any form of government. Against the backdrop of rampant empire-building and old royalist forms of rule, the words held real promise to many people.



Indeed. We are often told that the various socialist type uprisings during the late 19th and early 20th centaury failed, but I'm not so sure. To a person back then, the world we have today would seem to be very socialist. Things like free health care (such as in the UK) and subsidised health care (elsewhere), subsidised public transport, a minimum wage, no child labour, free state schools, equal political rights for the rich and the poor, anonymous voting, trade unions, worker's rights, pension guarantees etc etc are all ideas that would have been extremely rare at the time that the Communist Manifesto was written. Although the Communist Manifesto didn't cause these things to happen, it was perhaps a sign of the general growing socialist sentiment of the time, which has spread throughout the western world now. The fact that many of these things are taken as being "basic rights" and not "loony left wing tactics" is a sign of achievement. While the world's attention was on the communist revolutions, a far quieter, slower democratic socialist revolution slipped by under its nose
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:


She wasn't put there because of party connections (or lack thereof) though.
If that company director isn't careful he might end up in the gutter.
If that woman wins the lottery she may end up rich.


But lets not pretend that we live in a classless society. The chances are that the director's children will be well off and the woman's children will be poor. I do agree that there are opportunities for people to move between the classes, but in most social settings there are definite "them and us" type attitudes between the poorer and richer people - a kind of unofficial class system. With any luck improving quality of life within the economy will mean that these divisions become less important, but they are still there.


In a class society like the USSR was you were put somewhere by the party and you would forever be there.
In the PRC (the ultimate class society) where your ancestors were put by the party will forever determine your social status (unless it's lowered for comitting crimes against the state).
There's no appeal, no chance to ever rise out of the slums if that's where the party put you.


One thing that we will agree on is the PRC is a bit on the crazy side. The fact that they call themselves "communist" and yet have such high (and sometimes deliberate) levels of inequality is bizarre. Its almost like they've gone for the Comical Ali style of propaganda. They should be rebranded "A oligopoly where the government tries to ensure that a few cities are very rich by controlling most of the economy, but at the same time pandering to various potential trade partners by opening up parts of the market, and besides most of them having being trading in the black market for a while anyway.". Maybe they chose "communist" because its easier to remember.
 
Warren Dew
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Jeroen Wenting:

In the PRC (the ultimate class society) where your ancestors were put by the party will forever determine your social status (unless it's lowered for comitting crimes against the state).

This used to be true, but is no longer. In fact, top government officials are encouraging people from the new middle class to join the party and help run the government. They aren't getting much response, though; small and large businessmen alike seem to prefer concentrating on making money and leaving the governing to others.
 
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Things like free health care (such as in the UK) and subsidised health care (elsewhere), subsidised public transport, a minimum wage, no child labour, free state schools, equal political rights for the rich and the poor, anonymous voting, trade unions, worker's rights, pension guarantees etc etc are all ideas that would have been extremely rare at the time that the Communist Manifesto was written.

Not sure how anonymous voting fits in here, but yes, I second your thought. Here in the US, it's really puzzling to see the many attributes of socialism long after the communism was condemned and the Cold War was won. Marx would have been be pleased.
 
Warren Dew
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Joe King:

I think there were two main reasons that communism didn't work economically - communication and equality:

I'd agree these were problems, but I think they were dwarfed by the problem of lack of incentive to work productively, at both the individual and organizational level.
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Warren Dew:
Joe King:

I think there were two main reasons that communism didn't work economically - communication and equality:

I'd agree these were problems, but I think they were dwarfed by the problem of lack of incentive to work productively, at both the individual and organizational level.



That's the crux. Marx envisioned a Man who would work completely selflessly for the good of society (while knowing better, that was just the PR image he presented to get people on his side).
In reality people are selfish and will want compensation.
If you get the same income no matter what you do, why do anything at all?
Especially if higher level jobs make you vulnerable to be deported or worse (there have been many times when plant managers were executed for treason for not meeting production goals, after all these goals were set by the Party and disobeying the Party is treason) for not meeting production goals.

THEORETICAL communism is a beautiful thing. But in reality it is impossible to achieve.
PRACTICAL communism is a monster, as is seen all to often. Not a single communist country went without massive purges, concentration camps (better name would be death camps) and constant oppression of the people they claimed to protect.
 
Joe King
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Why do I get the feeling we've had this exact same debate before? Anyway, here we go again

Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:

That's the crux. Marx envisioned a Man who would work completely selflessly for the good of society
...
In reality people are selfish and will want compensation.
If you get the same income no matter what you do, why do anything at all?


Maybe this kind of idea would have worked in small communities where everyone knows each other (and is willing to work for each other), but over a large country it was probably a bit optimistic to expect it to work. I think communism would work in an area maybe the size of the Falkland Islands, but over the size of a country like Russia, it must have been hard to foster a spirit of togetherness, especially when the leaders were taking advantage of the people.

(while knowing better, that was just the PR image he presented to get people on his side).


I disagree with this though - I don't think Marx wrote what he did for personal gain, I think of him more as being an optimistic idealist. A bit naive maybe, but not a deceiver.


THEORETICAL communism is a beautiful thing. But in reality it is impossible to achieve.


Um. I think it would be possible to achieve communism (although I don't personally think it should be done at the moment), but it would be very hard.


PRACTICAL communism is a monster, as is seen all to often. Not a single communist country went without massive purges, concentration camps (better name would be death camps) and constant oppression of the people they claimed to protect.


Gar. I've said it so many times now that I should probably make it my signature or something ,but the things you've listed above were a factor to the countries being dictatorships not because they were communists. Countries like the USSR, China, N Korea etc were would not have been seen as communist by Marx and Engels. Marx and Engels clearly thought that a communist country should be run democratically, and this equally clearly was not what happened in these countries. They also thought that everyone should be in the same class, and this again was not true in these countries. There is not one part of the Communist Manifesto that encourages purges, concentration camps and oppression. Saying that concentration camps are a side effect of communism is just as fallacious as saying that concentration camps are a side effect of democracy because Nazi Germany called itself democratic.

I agree that every country that has called itself "communist" has been a failure, but these failures where largely because of these countries being dictatorships. I may as well repeat what I said in a previous post, because it applies here:


The writings on both Marx and Engels suggest that they were definatly against having a ruling elite. One of the main purposes of communism, for them, was to get rid of the ruling elite, not to replace it with a new one. They wanted things to be run be all the people, and for everyone to be in the same class. The idea of a Communist Party elite not only having a better lifestyle than non-party members, but having more political power, goes against the Communist Manifesto. Marx would have seen the Communist Party as being little different from the previous ruling class.

Marx's failure was in not properly understanding revolution. In most of the successful revolutions through out history (the main exception to this being the American Revolution), power has been grabbed by a small group of people who then try to hold onto it. This was the case in France (Napoleon), England (Cromwell), Iran (the Ayatollahs) and many more - no matter what the original aim of the revolution, a small group of people (or one person) seem to end up with all the power. The Russian Revolution was no different - the Communist Party stepped into the power vacuum and took control. What they instigated was not a government run by the people (as Marx and Engels intended), but an oligarchy.


[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Eugene Kononov:

Not sure how anonymous voting fits in here


Yes, not the clearest of comments on my part . Although socialism didn't play a huge part in making voting anonymous, it was (in the Britain at least, I'm not sure about elsewhere) something that working class people campaigned for. The reason for this was that before voting was anonymous, it used to be done in a public place, such as a village meeting hall, with all members of the community, including the candidates, present. Quite often in these early elections it was usually the most influencial local business men who stood for election - the ones who owned the factories etc. There were many cases of workers being intimidated into voting for their boss because of the fear of getting the sack if they voted otherwise. For this reason, it was hard for working class people to get voted into government until anonymous voting came in.

, but yes, I second your thought. Here in the US, it's really puzzling to see the many attributes of socialism long after the communism was condemned and the Cold War was won. Marx would have been be pleased.



Maybe, maybe not - I get the feeling that Marx was a bit of a perfectionist and would probably find something to complain about
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Whether you like it or not, every single attempt at communism on a scale larger than a few dozen people has ended in a dictatorship.
Large attempts (country sized) invariably end up with a police state and people disagreeing with the government being locked up in labourcamps or executed without any due form of legal process (basically, suspicion is guilt because the Party voices the suspicion and the Party is perfect).
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Whether you like it or not, every single attempt at communism on a scale larger than a few dozen people has ended in a dictatorship.


Who said anything about liking it? Believe it or not, I don't like communism (although you may have noticed that I like debating about it ).

I agree that all the countries that have called themselves communist have been a bad, but I'm saying that this comes from them being dictatorships rather than being communist.


Large attempts (country sized) invariably end up with a police state and people disagreeing with the government being locked up in labourcamps or executed without any due form of legal process (basically, suspicion is guilt because the Party voices the suspicion and the Party is perfect).


Although I think communism is pretty much doomed in a large state, I think the police state evolved out of the revolutionary way in which the previous government was overthrown, rather than being a side aspect of having a centrally controlled economy. Had it been a democratic decision to implement communism rather than a revolution (which allowed a small group to grab power), things may have been different.

There was a time when just about every republic in the world was doing bad things (by today's standards), but this didn't mean that there was a fundamental flaw in republics - it was just that the people in charge of them were corrupt.

being locked up in labourcamps or executed without any due form of legal process


Happens in other places as well as in communist states. People in Guantanamo, for example, are locked up without legal process.

(basically, suspicion is guilt because the Party voices the suspicion and the Party is perfect)


This also happened on the other side of the cold war, not that much different from McCarthyism really.

My (slightly rambling) point is that the problems in the communist countries was/is down to the corrupt leadership rather than the communist theories. Those theories do not inevitably lead to a corrupt leadership. More likely its revolutions that lead to corrupt leaders being able to get into power.
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
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Originally posted by Joe King:

I agree that all the countries that have called themselves communist have been bad, ....



A 100% record of being "bad" numerous times in numerous places amongst a diversity of peoples and cultures over 80+ years is an extraordinary and remarkable feat. Where else in all of recorded human history has such a feat been duplicated by idealists than by those attempting communism? This type of statistic warrants exceptional proof that the problem does not indeed not lie in the philosophy of communism. A glib statement that by bad luck bad people ran the show in each and every case will not suffice. In fact, it only begs the question of why the attempted road towards communism is so easily subverted and perverted into something monstrosly evil. The weakness of being so easily perverted to evil by itself seems to me a fatal flaw in communism.



My (slightly rambling) point is that the problems in the communist countries was/is down to the corrupt leadership rather than the communist theories. ... More likely its revolutions that lead to corrupt leaders being able to get into power.




Corrupt people become leaders by many means, not only by revolution. The difference is that in a capitalistic state the ordinary citizen is not 100% completly under the control of the government. Being free to sell your goods/property and services in a free market gives you some degree of indpendence from a corrupt government. In a communist state, where you own nothing and are an employee of the government, you are completely, totally screwed when it becomes corrupt.
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]
 
Warren Dew
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On the original topic:

Thatcher added, "He won the Cold War not only without firing a shot, but also by inviting enemies out of their fortress and turning them into friends."

And on the weird side:

More than 2,000 spectators lined Massachusetts Avenue in the final six blocks of the motorcade's route.... The quiet there was broken only by the occasional shouts of about 10 anti-gay Baptist protesters from Kansas who condemned Reagan and President Bush ...

They think Reagan was pro-gay???

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A34105-2004Jun11.html
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Joe King:

This also happened on the other side of the cold war, not that much different from McCarthyism really.



You mean the tens of thousands who died after being thrown into the gulags are "not much different" than the relatively few who were temporarily unemployed because of false accusations of being communist sympathizers?

At this point something is is terribly amiss, so perhaps now is the time for some light-hearted diversion : http://reason.com/0404/cr.gg.fools.shtml

More serious readers may actually want to research the Venona papers to verify that McCarthy has actually been vindicated to some degree :


http://www.cia.gov/csi/books/venona/venona.htm
http://foia.fbi.gov/venona.htm

Then there are a number of books on Amazon that try to make sense of the thousands of Venona papers...

(less official and more personal)
http://www.rinfret.com/venona.html
 
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In reality people are selfish and will want compensation.
If you get the same income no matter what you do, why do anything at all?
Especially if higher level jobs make you vulnerable to be deported or worse (there have been many times when plant managers were executed for treason for not meeting production goals, after all these goals were set by the Party and disobeying the Party is treason) for not meeting production goals.


Do you realize that if this is remotely true, then it is true only for the first stages of development, say, the Soviet Union? You substitute a part for the whole.

But let me ask you: how do you then explain significant economical growth that occurred during the same period?
 
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I am no expert in marxism, but I am missing one important point in this debate: Marxism was a totalitarian ideology from the very beginning.
Marx studied society, economics, etc. scientifically and came to the conclusion that it will inevitable end in rebellion/socialism/marxism.
As far as I know, he saw people like socialdemocrats who tried to improve the situation of the working class as an enemy, not an ally.
For communists those people were only disturbing history and postponing the inevitable clash.
 
mister krabs
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Originally posted by Joe King:
People in Guantanamo, for example, are locked up without legal process.

Just like German soldiers captured during WWII.
 
Desperado
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It could be argued that (thanks to Gorbachev in great part of course), Reagan charmed the communists out of their cocoon and into reality.

And all that, at the time that Reagan was accused by a few of living in a 'fantasy' world.

It turned out that the ones living in a 'fantasy world' were the communists and enemies of the United States of America (or as it is frequently abbreviated, America).

Ha ha! He was in my view, almost a Wizard that stated what he wanted out of Reality, and Reality complied.

Sure, sure, I am exaggerating but you had to be THERE like I was, to understand what it is that I am trying to say.

The dude used the phrase "Ash Heap of History" referring to the final resting place of the intellectual idiocy known as Communism, possibly without understanding it like many like me did, who ate it like Pablum in a University for a short while.

Good for him. For all I know the One and Only Spirit of the Founding Fathers was flowing through him when he said that, but I digress...
 
Greenhorn
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Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
I am no expert in marxism


correct, accepted

Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
but I am missing one important point in this debate


correct

Originally posted by Axel Janssen:
Marxism was a totalitarian ideology from the very beginning.


yeeeh? Wrong. Just amusing to see atributions of definitions invented and inserted to western dictionaries without any smallest checks against the original works
I clearly see Germany democracy/prosperity after it was declared "the empire of evil"
or can imagine the prosperity/democracy of any other country forced to spend 86% of its overall production for defense necessities, like it was in fUSSR.
By the way, the greatest losses suffered in WW2 fighting Japan-Italy-Germany:
1)USSR
2)China


Wrong
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: tst tst ]
 
tst tst
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About the dead either all good or nothing... bip... bip ... bip...
I agree with Kaddafi on this point
 
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by tst tst:
By the way, the greatest losses suffered in WW2 fighting Japan-Italy-Germany:
1)USSR
2)China

And why do you think that is significant? What does that have to do, for example, with the millions of Ukranians deliberately starved to death prior to WWII? What does that have to do with the millions murdered by the Communist Chinese? Does having the most people die during WWII give you the right to treat the survivors as cattle?
 
Jeroen Wenting
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the communist view of the value of human life is displayed by 2 statements from Stalin:


1 death is a drama, 1 million is a statistic


iow, disregard for killing large numbers of people. The more the better in fact because if there's more people dead there's less anyone cares about them.

and


when you chop wood there's bound to be splinters


In other words, collateral damage is unavoidable so don't even try.
If you need to kill a million innocent peasants to get 10 troublemakers that's perfectly OK (and combined with the first quote, you will see it's not just OK it's actually to be preferred).

The Chinese are even more ruthless.
The DPRKs consider crimes of one person to be crimes of his entire family into all generations.
When you commit a crime not just you are sent to the death camps but also your children, grandchildren, parents and grandparents to name but a few.
In both the PRC and DPRK (and in the USSR as well up to the 1980s) suspicion is guilt. Lawyers were unable to defend you because criticising the prosecution was itself a criminal offense.
 
Mapraputa Is
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Tony: It could be argued that (thanks to Gorbachev in great part of course), Reagan charmed the communists out of their cocoon and into reality.

Damn right! I just read about it!

President Reagan tells Nancy one morning:

"I had a really, really bad dream at night. I was at the 30th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. The chairman announced the next orator: "The First Secretary of the Alaska Regional Party Committee, Comrade Reagan, Ronald Johnovich!"

"And what did you do?"

"And I... I didn't have my speech ready!"
URL



Sometimes it happens that you have more than one thread where you can make your post, and you don't know what to choose. So I posted a link in one, and the whole text in another, in case these two threads have different audiences.
[ June 12, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

A 100% record of being "bad" numerous times in numerous places amongst a diversity of peoples and cultures over 80+ years is an extraordinary and remarkable feat. Where else in all of recorded human history has such a feat been duplicated by idealists than by those attempting communism?


Possibly by people establishing a fundamentalist religious state... although I'd put the figure for that at around 95% as the Vatican City isn't that bad . Unfortunately statistics don't really help here - communism has only had a couple of centauries to be tested in a large scale, where as capitalism, democracy, republicism, monarchism etc etc have had a lot longer. Maybe one day someone will come up with a slightly better version of communism......

This type of statistic warrants exceptional proof that the problem does not indeed not lie in the philosophy of communism. A glib statement that by bad luck bad people ran the show in each and every case will not suffice.


Nevertheless, 100% of those countries were run by dictatorships, despite the fact that the early communists, including Marx, would not agree that this is how a communist state should be run.

In fact, it only begs the question of why the attempted road towards communism is so easily subverted and perverted into something monstrosly evil. The weakness of being so easily perverted to evil by itself seems to me a fatal flaw in communism.


I totally agree. Its true that all the communist revolutions went horribly wrong. Why this happened is a difficult to prove issue. My personal view is that it is a by-product of the revolutionary way in which communism was installed, rather than an aspect of the economic side of communism.


Corrupt people become leaders by many means, not only by revolution.


True, they appear in all forms of government, but I think that most revolutions throughout history have resulted in corrupt governments (at least in the short term).

The difference is that in a capitalistic state the ordinary citizen is not 100% completly under the control of the government. Being free to sell your goods/property and services in a free market gives you some degree of indpendence from a corrupt government.


Agreed, although there are aspects of capitalism that can reduce freedom (such as corporations and market forces having a lot of influence over what you do), although this is nothing like as much control as in a communist economy.

In a communist state, where you own nothing and are an employee of the government, you are completely, totally screwed when it becomes corrupt.
[ June 11, 2004: Message edited by: herb slocomb ]


While this could be true in a country with dictated rule, if a communist country was sufficiently democratic, it may not be so.
[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

You mean the tens of thousands who died after being thrown into the gulags are "not much different" than the relatively few who were temporarily unemployed because of false accusations of being communist sympathizers?



No, I wasn't referring to the punishments, but rather the way in which people were severely inconvenienced by the state as a result of some rather vague accusations of being an enemy of the state.
 
frank davis
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Originally posted by Joe King:


No, I wasn't referring to the punishments, but rather the way in which people were severely inconvenienced by the state as a result of some rather vague accusations of being an enemy of the state.




Then you're missing the point of how easily and often accusations turned into punishments in a communist country. There is a significant difference in scale, both in numbers accused that were later punished and in the severity of the punishments. Its very misleading and irresponsible to make the moral equivalence type of argument by saying, "This also happened on the other side of the cold war, not that much different from McCarthyism really." How many people were imprisoned or executed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities?
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by herb slocomb:

Then you're missing the point of how easily and often accusations turned into punishments in a communist country. There is a significant difference in scale, both in numbers accused that were later punished and in the severity of the punishments.


Like I said above, I wasn't talking about the punishments, but the way in which the state quite happily severely inconvinienced people based on some shoddy accusations concerning a lack of loyalty. I wasn't saying that it happened an equal number of times, or that the punishments were equal, just that it happened.

Then you're missing the point of how easily and often accusations turned into punishments in a communist country.


This is something that is common in many dictatorships - the troubles of this variety in the communist countries were most likely because of them not being democratic, not because of them having a state run economy. Its the lack of democracy that's at fault, not the fact that the country was communist.

Its very misleading and irresponsible


Why irresponsible? Are any budding revolutionists likely to be reading Javaranch and cause a load of trouble based upon what they read here?

to make the moral equivalence type of argument by saying, "This also happened on the other side of the cold war, not that much different from McCarthyism really."


[ June 15, 2004: Message edited by: Joe King ]
 
Jeroen Wenting
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Joe, whether you like it or not, ALL communist ruled countries are dictatorships.

While communist THEORY may all be nice and rosy, and many communists will extoll its virtues based purely on that theory, the practical implications of implementing communism in every single recorded case have been a totalitarian regime that stays in power through mass murder of its own population, violent oppression of any and all who dare speak out against it, and abject poverty for most people outside the ruling elite.

Not a good track record I'd say...

What may surprise you is that many of the reviled capitalist countries are actually closer to implementing theoretical communism (absence of a class society, equality for all, everyone having a decent standard of living) than any communist country ever came or will ever come.
 
arch rival
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One interpretation of the Venona papers is that if you make enough accusations against enough people for long enough, some of it will almost certainly turn out to be true.
 
Joe King
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Joe, whether you like it or not, ALL communist ruled countries are dictatorships.


I'm not disputing that. My point is that these countries are dictorships because of the result of having a revolution, not as a result of implementing communist economic theory. I don't think that centrally controlled economies lead to dictatorships. I do think that revolutions lead to dictatorships.


While communist THEORY may all be nice and rosy, and many communists will extoll its virtues based purely on that theory, the practical implications of implementing communism in every single recorded case have been a totalitarian regime


Again, I've never disputed this. The problem with communism is not the communist theory itself, but the idea that it has to be implemented through revolution.

that stays in power through mass murder of its own population, violent oppression of any and all who dare speak out against it, and abject poverty for most people outside the ruling elite.


This is an attribute of many dictatorships, not just communist ones.

To look at it as a programming analogy, the USSR object inherits from the Dictatorship class and the Communism class. The USSR object gets its economy=bad attribute from the Communism class, and its humanRights=bad attribute from the Dictatorship class. So far the only objects that inherit from the Communism class have also inherited from the Dictatorship class, mainly because the org.marx.communistFactory.getCommunistState() method has been overwritten by the org.lenin.communistFactory.getCommunistState() method, which makes several inefficient calls to a revolution() method which causes the final object to also inherit from the Dictatorship class.

Could that have made any less sense?



Not a good track record I'd say...


True, but then look at the track record of the first republics that the world saw, or the first democracies (Rome and Athens were hardly role models) or some early capitalist countries (with slave trading etc). If communism could shake off its revolutionary aspect and be democratic, then it one day may just about manage to work somewhere. I hope not (because I don't think its the best form of managing an economy), but it may be possible.


What may surprise you is that many of the reviled capitalist countries are actually closer to implementing theoretical communism (absence of a class society, equality for all, everyone having a decent standard of living) than any communist country ever came or will ever come.


This doesn't surprise me in the slightest (by and large I agree). I happen to live in one of the "reviled capitalist" countries, and think its quite good really. Despite what you may think, I don't actually like communism. I fully accept that its flawed, but I don't think that its as flawed as many people think. I think that a mixed socialist/capitalist economy (like most of the western world has) will be much better. I also strongly believe in democracy. I'm not arguing in favour of communism, but rather that its being slightly incorrectly represented.
 
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I don't think representing communism (at least practical communism rather than the academic theoretical communism most communists preach to strive for) is hardly misrepresented by calling it an autharitarian regime based on enslaving its own subjects and agressively seeking the subjugation of all who oppose it.

The communist interpretation of the word peace is "communist world domination" after all, which says enough about their attitude towards others.

Ancient Rome was a democratic society until on J. Caesar launched a rebellion and proclaimed himself emperor of Rome (giving rise to the term Kaiser in German, Keizer in Dutch).
Everyone who was economically self sufficient and able to serve in the military had the vote (meaning all free males over 16 or so).
 
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